Friday, April 30, 2010

Am Endless Source of Help to My Children

Scene: Yesterday afternoon. Bear sits doing homework with her Social Studies textbook and a notebook open in front of her. I am cleaning the kitchen or something equally glamorous.

Bear: Hey, Mom, what was the Proclamation of 1763?

Me (authoritatively): That's the one where they banned ginger ale in the colonies.

Bear (pausing doubtfully with pencil poised above paper): I didn't know they had ginger ale back then.

Me: Oh, sure. No, wait! 1763 ... actually that's the one that prohibited dogs from mating with squirrels.

Bear (laughing): Mom! It was not!

Me: I get those two confused.

Bear: Come on...

Me: Oh, I know! Why don't you try LOOKING IT UP YOURSELF, Miss Lazypants?

Bear: *grumble*

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dear Spring: Quit Being Mean.

So far today, we have had:

-a frost (complete with frozen birdbaths)


-really damn cold wind

-spitty, pathetic rain


I await the plague of locusts and tsunami with great interest. It's like a frigging Weather Showcase around here.

I glance out and see sun and think Yay! I'll head outside and do some gardening. In the time it takes me to slip on sneakers and grab a hat, the sky completely clouds over and begins to toss down fat, chilly raindrops. I turn sulkily back to folding laundry, glance out two minutes later and think Yay, sun! NOW I'll head outside and garden. Aaaaaand cue the hail.

I get the distinct impression that someone is messing with me and laughing their ass off.

Someone (sniggering): Watch this, watch this... we just convinced her it's freezing and hailing, but I'm going to whip out the sun and she'll be all Woo-hoo, it's spring! Be ready with the blizzard effects as soon as I give you the signal.

I'll blog more later. It's been sunny for two and a half consecutive minutes, so I'm going out to garden! Yay!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Local Rodent Population Has a Lot to Learn About Gratitude

(photo culled from random internet stock photo site, but let's pretend I took it. It's pretty good).

On Sunday, the girls burst into the house, voices tumbling over each other as they called for me to help them.

"It's Chip! It's Chip! He's stuck in the trap," Bear told me frantically. Chip is a chipmunk that lives in our garden. He's so used to us that he frequently gathers fallen from the bird feeder on the patio while we're sitting a foot or two away. He's adorable, bright of eye and stripey of head. We've gotten a little attached to him.

(And I know what you're thinking, and you can stop speed-dialing PETA now. It's a Hav-a-Hart (humane) trap set up on our front porch to catch the diabolical gray squirrel who has made it his singular life mission to knock down my bird feeders. When we catch him, he will be humanely transported across the river so he can knock down someone else's damn feeders).

"It's fine," I told her, "As soon as he spits out his mouthful of seeds, he can fit right through the bars. I've seen him do it before."

"No, he's stuck half in and half out," Bug added urgently, "You've got to help him, Mom!"

Wondering exactly when I became "Mom: Saver of Wildlife", I went out on the porch to discover that he was indeed wedged halfway through the bars and seemed stuck at his pelvis. Hm. He scrabbled wildly, biting at the bars, and struggling to free himself. I watched for a few minutes but began to be afraid he'd hurt himself. The girls waited anxiously.

I sent Bug for my leather gloves and tried to eyeball the situation. I couldn't tell for sure if it was his pelvis that was stuck or a hind leg, which seemed to be snagged near the mechanism that held the seed.

Putting on the leather gloves (See? I'm not a moron. I probably shouldn't disclose that I also occasionally use these gloves to pick up snakes that I find in the garden), I gently cradled his body with one hand and reached the other into the trap to check on his leg. He relaxed in my hand and eyed me with one beady little black eye.

Me: Hey, little buddy, we're just going to get you out.

Chip: (valiant pull and scrabbling of legs)

Me: Aw, girls look how sweet his little pawsies are! OK, the leg is fine. Let's see if we can eeeeeeease his pelvis through. (I try shifting his body slightly one way, then another to no avail).

Bear: He's being so sweet!

Bug: Poor Chip! Hold on, Chippie. You'll be out soon.

Me: No, that's not going to work either. I think I need to get him back through the bars, so he can come out the front of the trap. (begin to gently, gently! push his tiny body back through).

Chip: (tenses body and braces back legs so I can't push him)

Me: Come on, Chip. Work with me.

Chip: (eyeballs me, swiftly turns head and tries to bite my finger, but gets mostly glove).

Me: Whoa there, nipper! (I ease the glove out of his mouth and try again to get him through the bars).

Chip: (reassesses, takes another mighty chomp on the finger. Even through the glove, I can tell those teeth are SHARP).

Me: SON OF A WHORE. Er, I mean, go get the phone book, girls. We're calling Animal Control.

The girls, wide-eyed, fetch me the phone book. And, of course, as I sit there paging through the book to find the Animal Control number, Chip magically frees himself and scampers off the patio.

Not even a thank-you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Henne Lärarna Tala Mig Hur Hon Er Skarp*

For most of last week, Bear would intermittently whack the keys on her laptop and sigh in frustration. She would mutter something about "darn punctuation keys" under her breath, and go back to typing. After about the seventh episode of this, I asked her what was up.

Bear: My punctuation keys are all messed up. I go to type an apostrophe, and I get this weird symbol. The quotation mark is some strange kind of "a", and I don't know where the semicolon went.

Me: You need to go to one of the computer teachers at school, and see if they can fix it.

Bear: OK.

Two days later, she stops typing her science homework and lets out a primal yell.


Me: What?

Bear: AarrGRR ... stupid ....grrrrrAAAAGG.... dumb .... RRRRAAAGGR.... punctuation.... (disintegrates into feral muttering).

Me: Did you ask a teacher about it?

Bear: I asked Ms. E., and she thought she knew what it was, but it didn't fix it.

Tom: Did you take it to the computer teacher?

Bear (staring belligerently at the screen): No.

Tom: Give me the computer. (He closes out of the applications and looks briefly at her desktop). Hm. Bear?

Bear: (grumble)

Tom: Why is there a tiny Swedish flag up in the corner for "nationality"?

Bear (perks up): I like Sweden. I want to go there some day.

Tom: I think that's your problem. Let's change it back to "United States."

Bear: Nope, that won't do it. I know because my friend Kendra changed hers to "Hawaii", and she's not having any problems.

Tom (deep, steadying breath): Bear. What language do they currently speak in Hawaii?

Bear (thinks): English?

Tom: Yes. And what language do they speak in Sweden?

Bear: Swedish!

Tom: And does the Swedish alphabet look anything like those strange symbols that keep showing up when you type?

Bear (considers, then light dawns): ..... Ohhhhhhh!

*Her Teachers Tell Me She Is Smart

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dance Recital Week

Just telling the truth here ... the dance recital? Major. Pain. In. My. Ass.

There's the cost of costumes, shoes, tights, and hair accessories (nets for the ballet buns, hair glitter [yeah, seriously], a bazillion bobby pins and hair elastics, and the equivalent of a fifty gallon drum of hairspray).

There's the ironing. MAN, I hate the ironing. As a hearty proponent of the "spritz it and hang it in the shower steam" school of ironing, being faced with yards of tulle, sequins, and shiny/silky fabrics is my personal corner of hell. And FYI, you can't steam tulle. It wilts. To get the crisp ballerina tutus, they must be ironed. Every single damned layer.

There's the scheduling: late night rehearsals on weeknights mean prodding tired, cranky girls out of bed for school the next morning. It also means no time for real meals. Hot dogs, drive-thru's, and cereal become the mainstays of our recital week diet. Add to that the random handfuls of Goldfish, Skittles, and Teddy Grahams grabbed for quick backstage pick-me-ups and you have one truly stellar nutritional intake.

So why on earth do it, right? I'll give you a little bit of backstory.

When Bug was two and Bear was five, we stopped at a farmer's market. I was perusing the vegetables when a woman nearby asked me, "Oh, does your little girl take dance?"

I looked up about to answer affirmatively, when I saw that she was gesturing toward Bug, not Bear (who was indeed taking her first dance class that year).

"No, she's only two," I explained.

"Oh," the woman said, looking puzzled, "That's funny because she's doing shuffle - tap- ball change - shuffle - tap. "

I looked sharply at my two-year-old, and she was indeed doing the little routine (complete with arm movements) she'd watched Bear learning in Beginning Tap. She started lessons the next year, and she's never wanted to stop.

Simply put, they both love dance. They each take four classes a week and still dance at home on their days off. I see the self-confidence and poise it's given them both, how neatly it dovetails with their shared love of music, and how they both can walk out onto a stage in front of an audience without a bit of nervousness. And when I weigh all of that against the inconveniences of recital week, it doesn't seem like quite as big a pain as I thought.

I love to see them light up when they dance:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obviously I'm Dead. Or Hallucinating.

I don't even know how to say this...

Right now... at this very moment ... my children are sitting peacefully side-by-side on the sofa doing their homework. They are NOT squawking about who's hogging the sofa, breathing too loudly, or fighting a turf war over the lap quilt.

As I type this, Bug just leaned over and quietly asked her sister for assistance on her math logic packet, and Bear amicably agreed to help her.

Oh, holy hell, now they're discussing possible answers IN A REASONABLE TONE OF VOICE.

I never woke up this morning, did I? I must have had a massive heart attack in my sleep.

And this is heaven.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's THAT Time of Year Again

Dance Recital Week. A.k.a.: Crazy Week, Week o'Exhaustion, The Week of Much Fast Food & Little Sleep, and Hairspray Fume Awareness Week.

I'm really tired. Really, REALLY tired. We've had evening rehearsals all week and didn't get home until well after ten o'clock from last nights. I had to threaten both kids with cruelly creative consequences if they didn't take showers before going to bed. (Because hair wax [to control the frizzies for ballet buns], glitter spray, and a full-face of theater makeup equals pillowcases that you have to throw away).

My ten-year-old still has traces of eyeliner from last night's dress rehearsal, and it's freaking me out every time I look at her.

My thirteen-year-old is just plain mean from lack of sleep (my little contribution to her genetic makeup?).

I have scads of cute pictures to share with you, but I'm way too tired to open them in Photoshop, fix the demonic red eyes, then upload them to Blogger. Maybe next week.

Right now, I'm going to go sit very still on a recliner and doze. If I'm feeling ambitious later, I plan to watch Oprah and eat potato chips. But only if someone will feed me the potato chips.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Set Ye Not the Bar Too High For It Willst Fall and Whappest Ye On Thine Head

Now that Bug is in on the whole Easter Bunny/Santa charade, I hopefully launched an idea at the dinner table,

"You know, once Uncle Awesome and I both knew about our parents being the Easter Bunny, my mom used to leave our filled baskets in our rooms for Easter morning."

Bug looked up sharply, "What?! I want you to hide them and leave clues like you always do."

"But if they were in your room, you could have a piece of chocolate the very second you wake up!"

Bear looked intrigued.

Bug was appalled. "No. No way. Clues. Hiding. That's the way we do it in this house."

So now I have to come up with a bunch of damn clues by Sunday. It doesn't help that in past years, I've done a different style of clue each year. I've already done trails of string leading to the basket, rhyming couplets, and trivia style questions where the answer is the hiding place of the next clue.

A very evil part of me is tempted to use Google Translator to do this year's clues in Mandarin. I bet if it takes them all day to find their basket, they may rethink the whole baskets-at-the-foot-of-the-bed scenario.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cultural Diversity FAIL

Yesterday, Bear and Bug were discussing the elementary school art teacher, who is something of a free spirit. At one point, Bear described her as a "hippy."

Bug (with the amount of condescension that only a younger sibling who gets to correct their older sibling can achieve): HahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA! She's not a hippy, Bear. She's ASIAN.

Bear: Um, Bug? "Hippy" isn't an ethnicity, you know.

Bug: ... oh. Huh.