Saturday, October 31, 2009


We had a Halloween party for a few of G's close friends last night. Here are some shots of our house all lit up and ready to go:

The woeful windows.

The horrendous hallway.

The terrible table.

The calamitous kitchen.

The lurid lounge.

Scary talking witch head thing.

Doughnuts hanging on ribbons, ready for a game.

The kids started off by painting mini pumpkins - I hadn't been sure that would be a hit with this age (9-11) but they were all surprisingly into it and spent nearly half an hour sitting around the table. Next they played a game called Spiderweb which involves standing in a circle and throwing a ball of yarn back and forth until you have a web-like structure; then the classic "doughnut eating" game where you try to eat a doughnut on a string without using your hands; then a game where they had to find gummy worms in plates of whipped cream using only their mouths. After that, it was movie time. Unfortunately, they couldn't all agree on a movie to watch, so two of them ended up watching "The Goonies" downstairs with me while the other three watched "Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins" upstairs in G's bedroom. They all got together again afterward and played board games happily until 9:30, when parents started arriving to collect them.

The highlight of the party for me was when G and her friend C attempted to retell a "true" ghost story their teacher had told them in class:

Me: All right, I want to hear this story, but I should warn you that I'm pretty hard to scare, so don't expect too much.
C: Okay. So Mrs A was, like on vacation somewhere with her friend.
G: They were in Mexico.
C: Right, Mexico. And they went out to eat and there was this WAITER there who kept staring at her in a really creepy way.
G: Like this. *stares*
C: So later they went back to their hotel room, and, um, they went to sleep, and then Mrs A' friend woke up - no, wait, Mrs A woke up and she saw the waiter RIGHT IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM.
G: She tried to scream but she couldn't!
C: And then he slowly backed through the wall and into the restroom.
Me: Hang on a minute. The ghostly waiter came to her hotel room to take a bath?
Everyone: *falls over laughing*
C: No, no. And then she went to sleep, but she woke up later, and the waiter was HOVERING OVER HER FACE. And it was like she was frozen and she couldn't even move!
G: Her friend woke up and saw him too!
(knock on the door downstairs)
C: What was that?
Me: It's the waiter!

I love kids. :)

G's best friend slept over afterward and I barely heard a peep out of them -- I went downstairs to check on them at 11:30 and they were getting ready for bed without being told, and then when I went back just after midnight, they were fast asleep with the lights off, so they must have been worn out from all their fun. (There'd been a lot of squealing and shrieking and running up and down the stairs during the party, as there always is when you get a lot of tween girls together.) They're always great sleepover buddies -- they've been friends since they were in diapers and never seem to run out of things to do or talk about.

Now I keep forgetting that today is really Halloween, because after last night, it feels as if we've already had it. But G is adamant that she still needs to go trick or treating, so I suppose we'll be heading out in a couple of hours. I don't know how many more times she'll want to go door to door -- the last year I went was sixth grade, and then I decided it was embarrassing -- so we may as well make the most of it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yes, he might

G just watched the episode of Barnyard that features The Bigfoot Song, and then commented, "I wouldn't want Bigfoot to live inside my heart. He might shut down my circulatory system."

For a creative kid, she can be stunningly literal-minded at times!


7 a.m. - Beep beep beep ... oh God, already?

7:20 a.m. - Drag self out of bed, then go downstairs and drag G out of bed.

8:12 a.m. - Arrive at school with seconds to spare before the gate is locked.

8:30 a.m. - Arrive at work

8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. - Work

12-12:30ish p.m. - Lunch at desk.

1:30-2:15 p.m. - Meeting

2:15-4 p.m. - More work

4 p.m. - Leave early (a sanctioned departure, not a sneaking out) because of Girl Scout Halloween party.

4-4:30 p.m. - Drive home, get G's Halloween costume. She's Hermione from Harry Potter.

4:30-5 p.m. - Drive to store and buy juice and water for party, as requested by leader.

5 p.m. - Deliver Halloween costume and drinks to school, sign G in to meeting/party.

5-5:45 p.m. - Drive to music store. See a guy about a flute.

6 p.m. - Arrive at home with flute. Check e-mail, do desultory cleaning, think about cooking dinner but have cheese and crackers instead.

7 p.m. - Drive back to school and collect G.

7:10 p.m. - Think about cooking dinner again.

7:11 p.m. - Make sharp left into drive-thru.

7:30 p.m. - Arrive at home again. G wants to eat downstairs so she can watch TV; I usually say no to this, but decide to let her.

7:30-8 p.m. - Eat.

8 p.m. - Go downstairs and start G on her homework.

8:30 p.m. - Come back to check and G has done three paltry math problems. Remind her that time is ticking away and she really needs to finish so she can wash her grungy hair before bed.

8:45 p.m. - Check again. No progress. Sit right next to G and redirect her every time she starts to lose focus.

9:10 p.m. - Still not much progress. She's getting tired, so I offer to do all the writing if she does the actual calculations.

9:30 p.m. - Math is done. I ask about spelling and she's left her spelling list at school, aargh. While looking through her binder for it, I also discover a letter from her teacher saying that she "chose not to do her narrative writing project which was assigned two weeks ago," and will have to stay in at recess for the rest of the week to do it, blah blah. I know this isn't true because I saw her typing the project up last night with the intent of e-mailing it to school and printing it out there. She says she couldn't print it out because she can't remember her school network password. Tears. She's really tired.

9:45 p.m. - I tell her not to worry about it right now and go get changed for bed. She technically didn't do her 30 minutes of reading, but considering that she's read two 250-page books in the last two days and is working on a third, I'm not too bothered about that.

10 p.m. - She's in bed (still with grungy hair). I pack her school bag, find an old shirt to cut up for a flute cleaning cloth, put school bag and flute case by the front door for tomorrow.

10:15 p.m. - She's not asleep yet and is "lonely." I tell her I'll sit on her bed for 15 minutes, but only if she lies still with her eyes closed.

10:30 p.m. - She's asleep. I get our balky printer out of the closet and start downloading drivers to see if I can make it work with her laptop (it won't work at all with mine).

10:45 p.m. - Success! I print out her narrative writing project and the PowerPoint slides that go with it and put them in her bag. She can thank me in the morning.

11:15 p.m. - I cook pasta for her lunch and leave it to cool while I go do chores.

Midnight - Chores are finished, lunch (high-protein pasta, apple, banana, cookies) is packed and in fridge. I ask myself whether I have time to squeeze in some exercise and answer myself with a resounding "Hell, no!"

Bed now? I think yes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


G (via text message): Mom, where r u?
Me (also via text): Getting your flute for band.

Ten minutes later ...

G: Srsly, where r u?
Me: Um, getting your flute, like I said.

Eight or nine years ago, as I was helping toddler G brush her teeth and watching "Elmo in Grouchland" with her for the umpteenth time, I could not have imagined us texting each other across town (she's at a Girl Scout Halloween party) to discuss her band instrument. And yet here we are. Time doesn't always feel like it's flying when you're in it, but when you look back later, you can see how far it's flown.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sorry, no more brain space. Try again later.

One of the computers I use at work likes to pop up this error message:

The operation could not be completed because memory is full.

I feel exactly like that sometimes. I've got so many details stuffed into my head - things I need to do at work, at home, for G's school, for G's activities - that I have moments when the sheer mass of it all is overwhelming.

I'm lucky enough to have a good memory, and I make lots of lists and set up e-mail reminders to help, and while I may not always be bang on time for everything (lateness is my bĂȘte noire), it's rare for me to drop the ball in a major way. Still, there are times when I'd love to be able just to do a mental reboot and free up space for more data, or at least clear out a vacant corner that's responsible for thinking about nothing in particular.

... Or, as long as we're fantasizing, to hire a personal assistant whose whole job would be to put Frontline on the cats and go to the music store for G's flute practice book and have the oil in my car changed. Maybe when I win that Super Lotto jackpot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


G: Look at this picture I drew of zombies rising from the grave.

Me: That's an awesome picture. I especially like the perspective you used here in the foreground. Now stop drawing and finish your math, or the zombies will come and get you.

G: Zombies don't care about math. They're already dead. They're undead.

Me: Oh no. Zombies care deeply about math. Didn't you know? Math and brains are the only two things that get zombies really excited. If they find out you've left some math undone, they'll come bursting in the door and stumble toward you, groaning "Maaaaath ... maaath ... expoooooonennnnts ..."

G: Good. They can do it for me when they get here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So. We meet again.

Me (holding out G's hairbrush): Here you go. Time to brush your hair.
G (to the brush): Hello, my bitter enemy; my arch-nemesis.
Me: *rofl*

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've been going around and around for weeks about whether to get the H1N1 vaccine for G. I'm not a big proponent of flu shots in general and have never had one in my life. On the other hand, I'm also not terribly prone to viral infections: I usually get a cold at some point every winter, but I've only had honest-to-goodness influenza twice in the last 20 years, once in 1996 and once in 2003. Both those times were complete and utter shit, but you know, it's the flu, not a pony ride with ice-cream cones. It's miserable, and then you get better and your immune system is stronger for it.

Anyway, after a lot of reading and agonizing, I started to think about the fact that G and I live by ourselves, and I imagined all the things that could go wrong if we were both severely ill with H1N1 at the same time. What if she needed to go to the doctor, or worse, the hospital, and I was too sick to take her? What if I got so sick that I needed medical treatment, and G was the only one here with me? I'm a pretty tough person, and I was brought up to handle things on my own (P once said that if you could sum up my philosophy of life, it would be Look after yourself, because no one else will do it for you), but that idea really worried me. The only thing that frightens me more than something happening to her is something happening to me and her finding my dead body - having experienced that myself, I know it isn't something you get over easily, or at all. Obviously that's the worst-case scenario and things very likely wouldn't reach that point, but they could.

So in the end, I decided that I'm going to get G vaccinated as soon as our doctor's office has it, and I'll get the vaccine myself if it ever becomes available to people in my age group. Is it the same decision I would make if P were still alive? Maybe not (although P would probably have wanted her to have the vaccine, and I took that into account as well), but it's the best decision for the situation we're in now. You've got to adapt to your circumstances to survive, right?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

His amber eyes were like ... amber

G is in bed reading Twilight, which she requested, in her words, "so I can see what the big deal is." I am desperately trying to withhold my snark until she's finished and has formed her own opinion, but it's so hard. Nothing brings out the snarky beast in me like terrible writing, especially when served up with a side dish of sparkly vampire lurve. (Don't worry, I read the first book myself about a year ago, and it's 100-percent sex-free, not to mention remarkably bloodless for a book about vampires -- around page 200, I started thinking If someone doesn't bite someone else soon, I am going to go insane. They didn't, but the faint, fond hope that a plot would magically emerge kept me going through the next few hundred pages.)

I hope she doesn't fall in love with it and end up wanting to read the whole series. I'll be biting my tongue for the rest of my life!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Someone notify the marketing people

Ever since my college job in a natural-foods supermarket, I've been fascinated by the way the grocery-shopping demographic changes according to the day and time. Moms with toddlers shop on weekday mornings. People with day jobs shop right after work. And based on the trip I just returned from, this is who shops at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday:

• Couples without kids (2)
• Pairs or trios of roommates (3)
• Parents shopping with/for their young adult children (2, one mom, one dad, both with daughters who looked around 19 or 20)
• Old people on their own (5, both genders)
• People buying nothing but alcohol (2, but I'll bet this number goes up as the night wears on)
• Men shopping alone (all ages, too many to count, but at least 15 or so)

I suppose to this list you can also add "widows whose children are sleeping over at a friend's," since I was there too. I do wonder what moved everyone else to go shopping at that particular time, though. (Well, not the nothing-but-alcohol crowd. I know why they were there.) I went when I did because G loathes the supermarket, so I thought I'd spare her the torture of having to go with me by doing it while she was occupied elsewhere. But grocery shopping seems like an odd way for a group of young male roommates or a college-age girl and her dad to spend their Saturday night. Strange.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Every once in a while, just for a few minutes, they're friends.