Month: October 2007 (page 1 of 3)

Winning. It’s Good.

I know that you’ve been dying to hear about Julia’s piano class. Day after day, you come here wondering, “How’s she doing in that there piano class?” And so, I’m going to tell you.

She’s doing pretty great. Can she play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?” Well, no. Not, yet. But she can Mississippi Hot Dog the crap out of those keys. And, she can identify each key by it’s letter name. If you ask her to play D, that brainy little Beethoven will pluck the ivory nestled between two lovely black keys. And, she’s beginning to learn which line and space on the musical staff represent which note, which means she not far from reading music.

And she’s three.

I’m rather proud of her. You can probably tell from all the bragging.

Still, she’s no piano-learning robot. Lately, she’s been having fun playing with her teacher a little bit. He’ll ask her to play a note or point out it’s location on the musical staff and she’ll grin an evil grin and get it wrong. ON PURPOSE. (This is something about her I completely do not understand. If I know something, I want the world to know that I know. Not Julia.) Meanwhile, I’m sitting there in the corner with my little notebook in my lap, gnawing my fingernails because I KNOW SHE KNOWS THE RIGHT ANSWER.

Mr. Palmer and I discussed it after class recently and this week, he tried a new approach.

Today, he sat her down at the piano and showed her a glossy stack of laminated letters and said, “Look at my letters Julia. Aren’t they nice? Would you like to have them?”

Of course, she said yes.

Mr. Palmer said, “Then, you’ve got to earn them. I’ll show you a letter and if you can play it correctly, you can have that letter. Let’s see if you can get them all.”

Her eyes lit up and you could tell that she was on board. I got excited, too. Because that’s the part of Julia I understand so well. Probably because she got it from me – the ultra-competitive “Are you throwing down a challenge? Well, bring it on, sucka!” part.

And so it began. He held up a D. She said, “D” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played D. He held up a B. She said, “B” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played B. He held up an F. She said, “F” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played F. And so on until she had all the letters. At which point she turned around and held the letters out to me and said, “IN YOUR FACE, MAMA!”

And I said, “THAT’S MY BABY!”

We Like Playgroup, Yes We Do! We Like Playgroup, How ‘Bout You?

Our playgroup visited the Fire Department today.

Julia visits the Fire Department

Julia thought it was awesome.

The firemen were fabulous with the kids. They talked with them about calling 911 when there’s an emergency, getting out of the house if there’s a fire and staying low and near a window if they can’t get out.

One of the firemen dressed up in his full gear to show them how a fireman would look if he came to their house to fight a fire and reminded them that they should never hide from a fireman.

They showed the kids the fire pole. One of them slid down it. Julia wanted to slide down it, too. I told her it was only for fireman. She said, “I am a fireman.” I told her she needed some training first.

The fireman also showed the kids the ambulance and their scuba gear for diving.

Finally, they closed down the street and brought out the ladder truck.

The Ladder Truck in New Philadelphia

And each kid had a turn to get inside and turn the wheel.

Julia in the Ladder Truck

Then, it was off to the park for some playtime and a snack.

Julia at Tuscora Park

In Julia’s words, “Playgroup was pretty cool today.”

What It’s Like At Our House

Julia had stripped off all her clothes and was wearing our crinkly cat tunnel as a dress. You know, for fun.

Dave caught a glimpse of her and said, “What are you doing? Are you naked under there? You better put some clothes on!”

Julia laughed, “It’s just for fun, Daddy. Geez!” Then she took off down the hall.

Dave shook his head, “It frightens me to think of her going off to college. Can you imagine what she’ll be like?”

Julia returned, booping and beeping and telling us she was a robot.

Dave took a breath to say something, probably very fatherly and important, and a fly flew into his mouth and he coughed.

And I threw up.

The Unlikeable

Have you ever met someone that just rubbed you the wrong way from the moment you first saw them?

It doesn’t often happen to me. I like most people I meet. But yesterday, it happened. I spotted a person I didn’t like from the first glance.

We were at the first of two parties Julia was scheduled to attend when I laid my eyes on a very annoying mother and her child. I was standing, with my mother, at an inflatable bounce house watching Julia as she jumped inside. The very annoying mother approached with her daughter, who promptly removed her shoes and hopped in the bounce house to join the fun. The bounce house was pretty full and the kids were rowdy, as kids at a party can often be. They were having a great time. The very annoying mother began to complain about the bounce house being full to whoever was in earshot. She stated that her child had just arrived and that those who had been there longer should get out to make room.

As if on cue, Julia decided the merry-go-round nearby looked like even more fun and slid out of the bounce house. I quickly grabbed her as she was about to run off without shoes, wrestled them onto her and let her loose to cavort. She rode the merry-go-round until the bounce house looked good again, and then she ran back to it. Again, I had to grab her before she got in with her shoes on, slipped them off and let her go forth to bounce.

The very annoying mother’s daughter was still in there, although the very annoying mother was not within sight.

The bounce house was still pretty active and the kids were still rowdy. And then, we heard a cry. My mom said, “Uh oh, someone’s hurt.”

It was the annoying mother’s daughter.

The annoying mother arrived on the scene and pulled her daughter from the bounce house. There were no obvious injuries, but the daughter was visibly upset. She wailed. She sobbed. She hyperventilated. The annoying mother gave each bystander a hard stare. Then, she went away and was completely forgotten.

Until she arrived at the second party of the day.

The hostess introduced us and the annoying mother said, “We’ve already met, kind of.”

I said, “Yes! You were at the ballet party earlier.”

Then she said, “Yeah. Your daughter hit mine in the head.”

My immediate reaction was, “What the fuck are you talking about, bitch?” But I didn’t say that out loud. Instead I said, “Really? Hmmm? I was with my daughter through the whole party and I didn’t catch that. I was there, though, when your daughter got hurt in the bounce house.”

I’m not even sure what her reply was. I was too busy putting an evil voodoo curse on her when she walked away.

How dare she suggest my daughter had hurt hers? She wasn’t there when it happened. How did she come to that conclusion? And how dare she make a judgement about my parenting like that? As if I would allow my daughter to hurt someone, even by accident, without making her apologize?

A little later, I took Julia near the bonfire to make her own candle. We had just arrived at the candle-making table with one of Julia’s friends and his mom when the very annoying mom approached and began barking out orders, “No, no, no. You don’t do it like that. You’ve got to do this first.”

After a few seconds, I pulled Julia away from the table and said to the very annoying mother, “Oh,we must be in your way. We’ll stand back while you do what you need to do to finish. That’ll give me a minute to read the directions.”

Once she was out of the way, we did our thing. Then, I placed our foil tin of wax shavings near the fire to melt. Julia was sitting on a bale of hay with her friend when the very annoying mother’s daughter approached her. She showed Julia her candle. Julia began to stick her finger in it and I protested, “Julia! Do not put your finger in there, honey.”

The very annoying mother hissed, “It’s not hot. My daughter wouldn’t have it if it was hot.”

I said, “I just don’t want my daughter to ruin your daughter’s candle.”

And then I fought the urge to jam a hot dog stick through her eye.

Eventually, the presence of the very annoying mother was too much to bear. I ushered Julia on to another activity and opted to return for the candle later. But the very annoying mother was just a few steps behind us.

A short time later, we found ourselves at the swing set. Julia was swinging next to one of her playgroup friends when the very annoying mother and her daughter arrived. The daughter wanted the swing Julia was swinging on. The very annoying mother advised her daughter that she would just have to wait on Julia. The daughter proceeded to whine and cry and cry and whine while her mother kindly reminded her that Julia was on the swing and therefore in control of just how long she would have to wait when my head was about to explode. I stopped Julia’s swing and asked her to please play with something else, which she happily did.

She walked two whole steps and got on THE OTHER SWING.

And that was the last we saw of the very annoying mother, who will now be added to my list of people to give a wedgie. Hers will be atomic.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Haiku

It’s really late and I’m super-tired. But I’m not too tired to bring you a haiku, my friends.

And so,

two outdoor parties
in cold and rain, the sickness:

Yeah, we party like penguins out here in the sticks.

I’ll write more when I unfreeze.

That’d be tomorrow.

Come visit me tomorrow. tomorrow. tomorrow.

(That was me, doing an echo. echo. echo.)

Okay, I’m going to bed.

Trick Or Treat, Smell Her Feet, But Don’t You Dare Call Her ‘Woman!’

This evening, we took Julia downtown for the Chamber of Commerce Trick-or-Treat event where the local businesses opened their doors to costume clad kids and gave out candy.

Julia dressed as Supergirl.

Getting ready for Trick-or-TreatSupergirl!  (NOT WOMAN!)Downtown

It was rainy, but it didn’t dampen our little hero’s mood. She loved Trick-or-Treat. We know this because she told us after every stop along the way. In fact, if you took the following dialogue and put it on a loop for an hour and a half, you’d have a transcript of the complete Trick-or-Treating excursion.

Julia: “Look! Trick-or-Treaters! Look! More Trick-or-Treaters! Hey! There are more Trick-or-Treaters!”

Me: “Okay, Julia. Remember to say, ‘Trick-or-Treat’ and when you get your candy, say ‘Thank you.’ Be polite.”

Julia: “Trick-or-Treat. Thank you. Mom? I LOVE Trick-or-Treat!!!”

Some random, but well-meaning person: “Hey it’s Superwoman!”

Julia: “You’re wrong! I’m not a woman! I’m a GIRL! I’m SuperGIRL!!!”

As we neared the end of the route, we commented to Julia that her bag was all filled up, so we better head home. She said, “I can leave the big candies in the car and then there’s lots of room in my bag to keep Trick-or-Treating! We don’t have to stop!”

I told her that a kid only needs so much candy.

She said, “There isn’t much candy, Mom. This candy has lots of air. There’s only a little bit of real candy.”

Nice try, Smarty Pants.

Lucky for Julia, she is smack dab in the middle of her Halloween extravaganza. After already attending one Halloween birthday party and having costume day at Kindergym, tomorrow we have TWO Halloween parties to attend. Then, our residential Trick-Or-Treat goes down on Wednesday. The kid has plenty of time to instruct the world on the very important difference between Superwoman and Supergirl.

This Totally Sums Up How She Feels About Me Lately

In piano class yesterday, Mr. Palmer was teaching Julia words to a song she will begin to play on the piano. There was a line about Father and Mother, so he asked Julia, “Who is Father?”

Julia turned around and pointed to Dave with a smile, “He’s right there!”

“And who is Mother?”

She pointed in my direction without even looking and said, “That.”

I Used To Be A Cool Kid. When Did I Get So Lame?

We stopped at McDonald’s today because 1) Monopoly is still happening and 2) it is the only establishment within 50 miles of our home with an indoor play area in which my child can expend her excess energy since the outside world is soaking wet.

The play area looked a little something like this.

McDonald's Play Area Schematic

Julia would climb up the net thingy while her Daddy ticked her feet from underneath. Then, when she crawled through the tunnels to the tube slide, he’d hide and suprise her when she got to the bottom. He’s pretty stealthy and has great timing, so he made her jump and scream every time. Then, he’d tickle her and they’d laugh and laugh until she’d shout, “Let’s do it again!”

We’d been there a while and Dave had run out of hiding areas, so we told her she could go down one final time, then we had to go.

She started up the net, and I tiptoed across the floor, ninja-ed myself in the little area next to the slide (which is represented by the yellow circle in the schematic above) and gave Dave a wicked little grin and a thumbs up. This would throw her for a loop. She’d never expect Mommy to jump out! Ha ha ha! This was going to be great.

And so I waited. And I waited. She was trying to make her last time stretch and kept fake falling down the net climbing thingy. My legs started to get sore, so I got on my hands and knees. She still hadn’t reached the top. I sat on my knees and leaned on my elbows. Dave was encouraging Julia to climb! Fast! Go! And then he noticed me, with my big butt sticking up in the air. He pointed out the giant window behind me. And the customers looking through it. Damn, that’s embarrassing, but it’s too late to give up now. I shifted my position and waited some more.

Julia finally reached the top. I made myself as small as I could. I put my head against the plastic tube and my heart started to pound faster as I felt the vibrations of toddler feet hitting the slide entrance. Here she comes. This is going to be great! I heard her slide down. She was at the bottom. Now’s my chance! I jumped out from the side and yelled, “Boo!” and laughed wildly, just as she and her Daddy had before.

She turned her head and looked at me. She gave me a little smile and forced a, “Ha ha.”

I tickled her tummy and said, “Time to go!” I got up and walked over to gather our stuff, smiling to myself.

Julia climbed out of the slide, grabbed her Daddy’s hand and said, “That wasn’t funny at all, Daddy. Mommy’s not very good.”

He quietly told her, “That’s okay. She tried. She just needs some practice.”

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

If I haven’t been by to visit your blog or have neglected to respond to your e-mail, I am sorry. I’ve started to fall behind again. The number of unread posts in my Bloglines is reaching infinity. They’ve run out of numbers to count them. Now, it’s just a symbol. Or maybe I just can’t see very well. Because I’m dealing with stuff like this:

Painting the piano red.

Do you see that up there? Julia colored the keys on our piano. Red. Every.single.key. Sure, it’ll come off. It isn’t the clean-up that’s the issue. It’s the message this Crayola graffiti is sending, which is, “Fuck you, you stupidhead Mother. I don’t like you very much anymore.”

I’ve fallen out of favor with my girl. She has declared that she likes Daddy better than me. (It isn’t all roses for him either, though. Grandma blows us both out of the water.)

She has begun second-guessing everything I say.

I tell her, “Julia, you can’t have a popsicle.”

So, she goes to ask Daddy. When Daddy wisely advises her, “What your Mother says goes,” she shifts her tactic. She demands a popsicle. She stages a sit-in at the refrigerator.

Finally, I say, “Julia, you cannot have a popsicle because we are out of popsicles.”

And she says, “Open up the freezer and SHOW ME that we are out of popsicles.”

I am offended that she would suggest that I’m lying.

At playgroup today, we were celebrating a birthday. There were cupcakes. When it was time to go, the kids were getting baggies of apple slices to eat on the way home. Julia asked for another cupcake. I said, “No. You’ve had enough cupcakes.”

So, she went and asked one of the other mothers. Thankfully, the other mother told her she needed to check with me.

Again, I told her no. So, she proceeded to throw the most ridiculous and embarrassing temper tantrum of all time.

Why? Because Julia is kind of a jerk right now.

I don’t know what she’s going through, but she’s not very nice. Or fun. Or nice. Yeah, she’s not very nice at all.

And I’m just tired. Oh, so tired. And I’m short-tempered.

Just the other day, as I was reprimanding her for the doing the very thing I had told her not to do three times, she said, “I just don’t know how to make you happy, Mommy.”

Suddenly, I saw a flash of her, in twenty years, sitting in a therapist’s office crying and saying she’s never been able to please me. And then the therapist says, “Aha!” And it’s in writing and certified by a doctor that I ruined her life.

Mostly, I feel sad. I keep telling myself it’s a phase. That every now and then, she just has to step away from me and it’s easier for her to do when she’s mad at me. I can’t bend the rules just to get her to talk to me. She’s testing the boundaries. I need to show her where they are. A week from now, it’ll all be okay.

But, I miss my girl. She doesn’t want to hear what I have to say or see what I want to show her. She doesn’t even want to kiss me goodnight. I feel like we’re both missing out. And I worry – what if it isn’t a phase? What if we’re just growing apart? What if it isn’t fixed and the baby comes and this rift just gets bigger and bigger?

And so I feel yucky.

And then, when I’m feeling my yuckiest. Dave decides to confess something.

He had gone along with Julia and I to her ballet class on Monday. He sat in the waiting room with the other moms and me. Today, he felt the need to tell me, “You know, you really were right. You sure do talk a lot. You totally dominated the conversation at ballet. If there was even a second of silence, you filled it. You had something to say about everything. And you always got the last word. You really do talk. A LOT.”

Man, today sucks.

But hey, tomorrow will be better. And I’ll be around to visit your blogs. And I’ll get to those e-mails. I promise.

In Which You Will Discover I Own More Teeth Than Books

My blogging buddy Fourier Analyist tagged me for a book meme. Go ahead and click on her link there and look at her book meme. If you’re afraid to click, let me present you with some very intimidating book-related images you would find there:

1,000 plus volumes. Stephen Hawking. The Tao of Physics.

Yeah, there’s no way I’m getting through this one without looking a little…um…what’s the word? Dumb.

But in the words of Popeye, “I am what I am.” So here goes.

Total Number of Books
Less than 100. Honestly? Probably less than 50. Julia owns more books than I do. Most of the books I read come from the library or are passed along. It is rare that I find one I purchase to keep.

Last Book Read
French by Heart: An American Family’s Adventures in La Belle France by Rebecca Ramsey. It’s a lovely little book. You can read my review here. (That’s right! A review! Go read it. Leave a comment!!! It’s lonely without any comments. And cold. Oh, so cold.)

Last Book Bought
The last book I purchased was Girls Hold Up This World by Jada Pinkett-Smith for Julia. In fact, the last fifty books I’ve purchased have been for Julia. If you want to know the last book I bought for myself, well, it’s so sad. I honestly cannot remember. I can tell you it was probably a parenting book. Or a cookbook.

Five Meaningful Books
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I know this book by heart. I often recite it to Julia as we lay in bed at night. It’s inspirational and fun. It’s life, in the simplest terms. I’m tempted to recite this for you via video blog. (I’m very good.) Aw, but then you’d see how my cool haircut has grown out. And I need to pluck.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. The concept of emotional intelligence completely changed what it means to be smart. It’s a fascinating and important book that every human being should read. There is simply too much to say about it. You must read it.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Another must read. For everyone.

Christy by Catherine Marshall. This was the first book I read that really got inside me, took me to another place and changed the way I thought about things. It is the story of young Christy Huddleston who leaves her life of luxury to volunteer at a mission school in the impoverished Smokey Mountains of Tennesee and comes of age. The book is fiction, but is based on the life of the author’s mother. It is my favorite book of all time. I could read it again and again.

The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents by Randy Rolfe. This book is meaningful to me because it was exactly what I needed to read at just the right time. I was a new parent, completely overwhelmed by the fact that I was in charge of a life and desperately afraid that I would screw it up. This book helped ease my mind. It validated many of my choices and attitudes about parenting. It got me thinking about my long and short-term goals as a parent and what I needed to do to meet those goals, now and in the future. It’s a positive and inspiring book that helps me refuel when I can’t see past all the dishes and laundry that have piled up in front of me.

And then, that’s the end.

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