Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Second Christmas

I'm not a materialistic person, but it was still sad yesterday to wake up knowing that there was nothing under the tree for me, and that the reason was because the person who cared about making sure I had a gift on Christmas morning is dead. Maybe next year I'll buy myself a pair of socks and wrap it up so I have something to open.

Aside from that brief dip in the self-pity pool, we had a nice holiday. G loved everything and declared it to be "the best Christmas ever," and the cats seemed to enjoy their kitty treats and toy mice. We visited the cemetery and speculated about what Christmas might be like in heaven (we figured there'd be a big party, since it's a birthday) and then we went to the movies to see "The Water Horse" and spent the afternoon and evening with various relatives. It really wasn't bad.

But it would have been much better with P.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A higher authority

G and I have spent the last few months locked in a battle of wills over what time I should get up on weekend mornings. So far, I am not winning.

On Saturday, she appeared at my bedside at 6-something a.m. and announced that she was hungry, to which I suggested, without opening my eyes, that she go downstairs and have something to eat. She said she didn't want to do that, and proceeded to sit on my bed and harass me until I got up and grumpily poured her a bowl of cereal.

That night, I thought I would be very clever and head her off at the pass the next morning, so I baked blueberry muffins, put three of them in a Ziploc bag, and left them on my bedside table. When she turned up (again before 7), I directed her to the muffins and went back to what I thought was going to be an uninterrupted sleep. And it was uninterrupted ... for the 15 minutes it took her to eat. After that, she gave me updates on the time every few minutes ("It's 7:17, Mom. It's 7:28. It's 7:36.") until I finally dragged myself out of bed, feeling cross and un-rested.

Honestly, all I want to do is sleep until at least 8 on weekends. I'm not asking to be left there until noon while everything falls into chaos around my unconscious body; I just want one more hour of sleep than I get during the week. I don't think that's unreasonable, and I know she can occupy herself in the morning, because she's done it in the past. But she's refusing to do it now, and without P to back me up, I'm starting to have fantasies about taking the case to arbitration. Can you imagine?

My lawyer: My client gets up early every weekday to get herself and the plaintiff dressed for work and school. She is requesting that on weekends, she be granted a stay until 8 a.m. I'm sure the court will see what a reasonable request this is and find in her favor.

G's lawyer: Well, my client's position is that she wakes up starving at 6:45 a.m. on weekends, and needs to eat within five minutes or she might gnaw her own arm off from hunger.

My lawyer: Is it not true that during the week, my client has to drag your client out of bed at 7:15 and instruct -- no, order -- her to eat her cereal so she won't be late for school?

(G and her lawyer whisper to each other)

G's lawyer: Yes, that is true. My client doesn't know why weekends are different, but they are, and she feels that the defendant's insistence on an extra hour in bed is preventing her basic needs from being met.

My lawyer: Mr. ____, tell the court how old your client is.

G's lawyer: She'll be nine on January 26.

My lawyer (jumping up): Aha! Nine years old! Your Honor, I move that a nine-year-old is old enough to either wait an hour for breakfast, or to go to the kitchen and get herself something to eat.

G's lawyer: My client isn't allowed to use the toaster or microwave without permission!

My lawyer: I'm sure she's allowed to peel a banana and open a cereal box. (To me) Is she?

Me: Yes, she is.

My lawyer: Just as I thought. Your Honor, let it be noted that if the plaintiff chooses not to eat the food that is freely available to her, and is hungry as a result, then it's no one's fault but her own.

G's lawyer: My client says the cereal only tastes good when Mom pours it.

My lawyer: Well, that's just silly.

Judge: That's enough, gentlemen. I've heard sufficient evidence to make a decision. This court rules that if the plaintiff wakes up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, she is to help herself to an approved breakfast food, and then read, watch TV or play quietly until 8 a.m. She is strictly prohibited from standing over the defendant's bed and reporting that she's hungry, as well as from giving updates on the time at 10-minute intervals from 7 a.m. onward. If she chooses to wait, then the defendant will get up no later than 8 and prepare a meal for her without complaint or recrimination. *bangs gavel* We're adjourned. Mr. Bailiff, I'll be waiting for my lunch in my chambers.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shillin' for AG

I've been meaning to post about this for a while, and then something on a friend's blog reminded me of it. So, for mothers who have daughters of a certain age, here is my totally uncompensated endorsement of American Girl's book The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls.

I bought this book for G late last spring, when she started needing deodorant and I realized that other changes were probably in the offing, and it's been great. She was a bit embarrassed about it at first and wanted to read it alone in her room, but after the first two or three times through, she started showing me pages she'd dog-eared and asking me questions about what was on them. Sometime around the fourth or fifth reading, we walked into Target, and she immediately sang out, "DO YOU NEED ANY TAMPONS, MOM? HERE, I'LL HELP YOU CHOOSE SOME!" and went skipping off to the sanitary-products aisle while I followed under the amused gaze of our fellow shoppers. Since then, she's nearly read the book to pieces, and still gets it out pretty frequently to have a look at her favorite sections.

The particularly nice thing about the book, as far as I'm concerned, is that it weaves the information about bras and periods into more general discussions about personal care (exercise, sleep, bathing, etc.), so it doesn't seem like such a huge OMG puberty!! deal. It also does not mention sex or reproduction, which is a plus if you just want to have the "what's happening to your body" talk without getting into everything else. Although personally I wished there'd been a chapter on the topic, or at least a companion book, because I had to have that talk with her from scratch, and it was a challenge even for someone as un-squeamish as me. (With an only child, there's never an opportunity to have the basic "how the new baby got inside Mom" discussion, so she pretty much knew nothing.)

So anyway, there you have it. I would say the book is appropriate for ages 8-12 -- it's written at about a fifth-grade reading level, so G had no trouble reading it on her own. It does have a cartoon-style picture of a girl inserting a tampon, which seemed to disturb some of the reviewers on Amazon, but the way I look at it, if you're old enough to need the information, you're old enough to see it illustrated. Although I did decline to provide a live demonstration when G asked. I'm relaxed, but I'm not that relaxed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Inquiring minds want to know

One of the things I love about having site stats (I use StatCounter), if anyone is interested) is being able to see what sorts of keywords people use to reach this blog. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that a lot of them don't find what they're looking for once they arrive, so I thought I'd try to provide answers to a few recent searches. Here they are:

broccoli potato gratin

Far and away the most common search string, this finally made me feel so guilty for being a Google tease that I put a link to an actual broccoli-potato gratin recipe in that post.

what chaps my hide means

It means that something irritates the living daylights out of you. You may remember it from the old Pace Picante Sauce commercials with the cowboys sitting around the campfire and eating salsa. ("New York City? Git a rope!")

how to know if the shoe fits

I've been told that there should be a thumb's width of space between the end of the shoe and the child's big toe. However, no matter what size G tries on, she always claims to be able to feel me pressing down on the shoe, so it's either a myth or I have freakishly fat mutant thumbs.

gumball machine mechanics

You put the quarter in the slot and turn the little dial thingy, and then the gumball rolls down a sort of chute and fetches up against the metal door. Open that door slowly and be ready to catch, or the gumball will shoot out at maximum escape velocity and end up on the floor, and no one likes that.

schoolgirl miniskirts

Ugh. Sounds like a pervert. If this is you, don't let the door hit you on your way out.

teenage boy bedspreads

I don't have a teenage boy and have never been one, but considering what P's tastes ran to when I first met him (he was 23 at the time, so not too far off), I would recommend something with either a supermodel or a sports team logo on it.

blow to the head and pain at the back of the eye

You are seriously injured. Get off the Internet and head to the nearest emergency room, stat.

santa lantern made out of milk jug

I never even dreamt this was possible, but look! It is, and here's how you can do it.

questions to know more about you

Oh Lord, don't even ask. I'm terrible at small talk.

perfect poop

Perfectionism is such a curse. Stop worrying about trying to produce the perfect poop, and just accept each poop for the unique creation that it is. As I think Shakespeare once said, "This above all, to thine own poop be true." Words to live by. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

He sees you when you're sleeping ... or he would if he were REAL

I think G has figured out the truth about Santa. She hasn't come right out and said so, but she turned down an opportunity to visit him at a shopping center yesterday, claiming that she was too big and would feel ridiculous, and she keeps asking me pointed questions like "What do you want to give me for Christmas, Mom?"

She's been full of hip third-grade savviness for several months now -- she likes to tell me that I can't fool her because she isn't a little kid anymore -- so this development doesn't really surprise me. I'm just not sure whether I should let us both off the hook or continue to play the Santa game as long as she's willing to go along with it. I don't think I want her to end up like my sister, who professed to believe in Santa until she was at least 12 because she thought she wouldn't get any more presents if she admitted she knew they came from my mother and stepfather.

It's funny, people say that kids grow up fast, and they do, but from what I've observed with G, it happens in bursts rather than constantly. Ever since she was born, she's gone through long periods where she keeps growing, but essentially stays the same -- and then all at once she takes a leap forward and seems older and more mature practically overnight. For example, the 3- to 5-year-old phase felt like it lasted forever, and then she started kindergarten and wham, she was a whole new kid. The next phase lasted from that point until last summer, and now all of a sudden I'm looking at her and wondering "Who is this girl who's too big to believe in Santa, and what has she done with my little second-grader?" It's not a bad change, it's just unnerving because it feels so sudden.

I will say this, though: Having an older child definitely has its perks. When G refused to visit Santa, I suppose I could have shed a sentimental my-baby's-growing-up tear, but I was too busy restraining my urge to do a victory dance because I didn't have to stand in the long, hot, crowded Santa line with a lot of crying toddlers and stressed-out parents. ("Sit on Santa's lap and smile, dammit!") No, instead, my big girl and I went and had a nice, civilized chocolate gelato in the food court. I could get used to that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It puts the "work" in "workout"

Four years ago, I bought a stationary bike, which P promptly nicknamed "The Bull" because its handlebars look like a pair of horns.

The Bull:


An actual bull:


At our old place, The Bull lived in the walk-in closet in our bedroom (P would often open the closet door and say "Hello, toro!") and I used it all the time and stayed fit. When we moved here, there was no room for The Bull, so it got shoved out on the patio with everything else that wouldn't fit inside. And I gained 20 pounds.

(You'll have to imagine some before and after photos here, because heck if I'm going to post any.)

I've been meaning to find a home for The Bull indoors and get back into the exercise habit, but I've been busy with other things. On top of that, The Bull has been outside for 16 months, slowly developing a layer of grime and occasionally sitting in the pool of murky water that forms on the patio every time it rains (the management claims there are drainage holes in the patio wall, but they lie), and I was too lazy to clean it. But today, I saw some marvelously awful Polaroids of myself sporting those extra 20 pounds -- 19 of which appear to be in my face -- and realized I couldn't put it off any longer.

So when I got home from work, I dragged The Bull into the living room, and after G went to bed, I used a LOT of towels and a LOT of hot water to remove all the dirt, dust, cobwebs, leaves, pine needles and other junk from it. I dried it off, and I heaved it up the stairs to my bedroom. And when I was finally finished with all that, I was so tired that I had to eat a bowl of cereal and lie down.

You know you're really out of shape when moving your exercise equipment is all the workout you can stand.