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Archive for the ‘The girl’ Category

Have-not

It’s Memorial Day and she’d rather be camping.

She has yet to learn we are not a camping kind of family.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be making S’mores today.

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I spent some time today clearing out the drafts of my unpublished posts. Some were posts that had been published and retracted, some never made it past the first sentence while others were complete posts that just needed a good title.

I deleted most of the drafts today, republished some of the retracted posts and saved a few of the drafts to finish later. Of the stuff I did delete, I decided to save a few choice excerpts to publish here.

So here we go.

In the beginning I couldn’t get through a discussion without crying. Sometimes I would clean my face and remove all my makeup because I knew it was going to be bad. Other times I’d go in determined to keep myself together only to wind up a wreck when the conversation took an unexpected turn. But therapists can be sneaky like that.”

She became hysterical as Nathan and I stood there in shock. Every word was like knives being thrust into our hearts and yet we could do nothing more than stare dumbfounded as our child wept in the bathtub.

Finally I said, ‘Honey, I’ve told you before that we love you no matter how naughty you are. We’d never send you away to another family.’”

I miss working with men.”

I kept the worst mess of a bedroom throughout adolescence, and it was actually my husband’s willingness to clean that room for me that led to me falling in love with him. No one had ever offered to clean my bedroom before.”

To this day I have no idea why I chose the sombrero. It was huge, monstrous even, and there was absolutely no place to store the thing on our bus. It didn’t fit in the overhead bins and I wasn’t exactly going to wear it all the way home. I wound up shoving the thing under my seat, from whence it emerged dirty and misshapen.”

I smiled at her. ‘Yes, this is your song.’ Mama was so proud, not only because the girl had been shaking her thing to the likes of Al Green and Michael Jackson all evening, but it was the second time that night she recognized a piece of music from something she had seen weeks earlier. We had heard Leslie Gore sing ‘It’s My Party’ at the grocery store and Autumn asked me if it was the song from the ‘naughty kids.’ I didn’t know she was talking about until I recalled the song had played during the birthday party sequence of Problem Child, a movie we unwittingly exposed her to a couple of weeks ago.”

My husband has lately been yearning for an apocalypse or some other such catastrophic event that would put his survival skills to the test. I don’t know if it’s boredom or if he misses his X-Box 360, but he has said on a couple occasions recently how cool it would be to be in the middle of something like that. We’ve also been watching episodes of ‘Jericho’ through Netflix and I guess the whole post-apocalyptic lifestyle appeals to him. I found this a little disturbing, especially since these gun-toting, survivalist fantasies of his don’t take into account the well-being of his three year-old daughter.”

There are two kinds of fat women.”

So the New Year is now upon us and I am very much looking forward to it. I have a list of resolutions for the next twelve months. I don’t usually make a list because my goals are the same; lose weight, exercise more, yadda yaddda yadda. In fact as long as I’ve been able to put pen to paper I’ve only made a list of resolutions once and I was drunk at the time. I can’t recall if I ever stuck to what was on the list, but I can tell you it was pretty funny finding that list years later in the pocket of the coat I wore that night.”

And what about the tech? Back in 1988 mobile phones were a luxury and certainly not compact enough to conceal in your back pocket or stuff down your bra. Back then when the phone lines were cut they were CUT and your only way to communicate with the outside world was to toss a dead terrorist out the window and onto an unsuspecting police cruiser. But today? Today John McClane could simply borrow someone’s iPhone or Blackberry to stay connected to the outside world. And when he’s done dispatching terrorists he could consult Urban Spoon for suggestions on where to find a quality post-hostage crisis meal.”

As you can see, I’m all over the place with these, but I like to think they represent what this blog is all about. Life, humor, family, sadness and joy.

And, of course, Die Hard.

Do you care to share what’s in your slush pile? If so, leave a link to your post in the comments. Who knows? This could be fun.

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I had to tell her four times to stop yanking leaves off the tree.

You just don’t do that sort of thing at an organic farm.

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As promised

For four years now I’ve created birthday videos for Autumn and every year I watch the video about five millions times once it’s finished. The past couple of years I’ve watched the video and then gone back to watch the previous year and the year before that. So for the past week I’ve been watching four years of birthday videos over and over again.

I always try to select a song that either reflects my observations as a parent or that reflects Autumn’s emerging personality. Several weeks ago I started listening to tracks on Grooveshark, hoping to find the perfect song. I finally settled on Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down”, a bouncy little tune from the Curious George soundtrack that’s all about growth and discovery. It fit perfectly.

On a final note, I really owe Autumn’s school a debt of gratitude for taking so many wonderful pictures of her over the past few months. Without them, I doubt I would have had enough photos to fill a three minute song. Mommy’s camera got a little dusty this year.

Autumn’s Fourth Year from noahsarc on Vimeo.

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Mija

There was an e-mail from Autumn’s teacher waiting for me Monday morning when I got into the office.  I was told last week that her teacher, Miss Mary, would be performing an assessment of Autumn’s abilities since she’s been at the school for over three months now.  They use the results to see how she compares to other kids her age and to help develop their future lesson plans.

The e-mail from Miss Mary wasn’t about the assessment per se, but rather that she and her co-teacher have noticed exceptional growth in Autumn’s language development and that she seems to have a natural talent and passion for literacy.  Miss Mary asked if we had been doing anything different to spark such a leap in Autumn’s development and I could think of nothing.  We’re still reading as many stories as we always have and we’re still watching a little too much TV.

As someone who fancies herself a writer, I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear my kid has mad language skills and that she seems to come by them naturally.  As soon as I read that e-mail I started imagining myself as the mother of the next great novelist, journalist or editor and couldn’t help but issue a silent, yet effusive, SQUEE!

But then my neurotic voice piped up and suggested that maybe Miss Mary sent the e-mail as a preemptive strike before breaking some bad news.  You know, flatter the parents by telling them how great their kid is with language and then lower the whammy by telling them the rest of the assessment went horribly.  Let’s face it, when you’re born to a couple of dorks, you automatically enter the world with a handicap no amount of book smarts can overcome.

It turns out I have little to worry about because there are just a few things Autumn needs to work on.  I won’t get the full skinny on how things went until parent-teacher conferences on November 16th (Autumn’s birthday!), but Miss Mary assured me whatever Autumn needs to work on will be addressed in school and that I shouldn’t feel pressured to work on them at home.

What we will be working on is fueling her love of books and language. We’ll be starting weekly trips to the library where we may be able to find some Spanish versions of some of her favorite stories:

Buenos Noches, Luna

El Gato En El Sombrero

Jorge el Curioso

And really, how fun would it be to read Green Eggs and Ham to your kid in Spanish?

Me gustan mucho,
mucho, mucho,
los huevos verdes con jamon!
Gracias, gracias,
Juan Ramon!

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A new beginning

First day of school

This is my little girl standing in our driveway before her first day of school yesterday. I think every parent has this exact picture tucked away somewhere. Maybe the kid isn’t wearing a yellow skirt or holding a tattered old Spongebob Squarepants blanket, but the grin and the palpable excitement are pretty much the same.

Autumn had a blast yesterday. I was told she fit right in and got along well with everyone and I couldn’t be happier. I knew she’d do well because she loves being around other kids. She said all the ladies are nice because they pushed her on the swing and gave her a Dora tattoo.

One thing I’ve learned about life is that things are rarely settled. You can plan and make decisions based on an end goal, but life rarely travels in the straight line you imagined in your head. You don’t get from point A to point B without taking detours through Q and K. That’s just the way it is and you had better get used to writing those plans down in pencil.

Change can be a good thing, and while the transition from daycare to preschool did not go as I had originally planned, I know without a doubt that Autumn can only benefit from getting started three months early.

And now that she’s in school? I’m shaking my head and wondering what happened to this little girl…

Seriously. Where did she go?

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Oh Mandy

While watching an episode of “Dead Like Me” yesterday, Nathan squinted at the sight of Mandy Patinkin’ grim reaper and asked, “Where have I seen that guy before?”

“You can’t be serious,” I said.  “Mandy Patinkin?  Elmo in Grouchland? Good Lord, how many times have we seen that movie?”

You know you’re a parent when your most immediate recall of an Emmy-winning actor is his appearance in your kid’s favorite film.  I’ve seen Mandy Patinkin in at least a half dozen vastly different roles over the years, my favorite being Indigo Montoya in The Princess Bride,

“Hello. My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

but it’s his greedy, Muppet-torturing Huxley who comes to mind whenever I see his face now.  That’s what happens when you’re subjected to the same movie nearly every day over the course of several months.

But it wasn’t until today that I realized I have not seen that movie in well over a year.  In fact, I don’t think Elmo in Grouchland even made it into the DVD player once during 2008.  Autumn hasn’t asked for it and Nathan and I have both agreed we’ve seen it enough for one lifetime.

Recently we put the movie in a pile of DVDs to sell at a garage sale this summer, but part of me would like to keep it around for sentimental value.  You know, the part of me who loved watching her watch the movie in spite of wanting to stick sharp sticks into my ears whenever Elmo started singing.

So let’s have it.  What movie or TV show have your kids used to drive you to the edge of insanity?  And how would you feel about the prospect of never having to see it again?

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Life in a fish bowl

Have I ever mentioned Autumn now has a fish?  We brought him home about a year ago and he’s still going strong in spite of our best efforts to do him in.  This fish, which Autumn has dubbed “Two,” has been through the ringer lately.  A few weeks ago he flipped right out of his habitat and landed behind Autumn’s dresser.  Luckily we were all present and Nathan was able to quickly pull the dresser away from the wall and save the fish before he dried up into a fossill.

Then this past Sunday morning as Nathan and I lounged in bed, we listened as Autumn pulled the plastic lid off Two’s home.

“Autumn, you better not be messing with Two,” I said.

“Okaaay,” she replied.

We heard more movement accompanied by the gasps of breath that usually means Autumn is concentrating on something.  A minute later she walked into our room and announced, “It’s okay, mom. I took Two out of his house.”

Say what?

I followed her back into her room, fully expecting to find the fish taking his last breath on top of her dresser.  But there he was safely swimming in the cup we use when we clean out his tank.

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Autumn had apparently scooped him up into the cup herself.  While I was impressed, I had to explain to her that she’s not to do that again unless mommy and daddy are there to supervise.

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Do you think she’ll listen?

Me neither.

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Legacy vs. practicality

Last night, as I was tucking in Autumn after story time, she asked me to turn off the dragonfly mobile hanging in the corner of her room.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “That light has been on every night since you were a baby.”

She nodded.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I’ll turn it off for a second so you can see how dark it will be. You can decide then if you want it off.”

I reached down and unplugged the light. While we weren’t enveloped in complete darkness, it was enough darkness for my daughter to request the light be turned back on.

After plugging the light back in I crawled into bed with her and began telling a story about how, when she was a baby, she’d get hungry and cry out for me at night. I told her how quiet it was as I sat in the rocking chair with her and that while she ate she would stare up at those lights until she fell back to sleep.

She was eating all this up so I continued telling her how the bed she sleeps in used to be my bed and how her dresser used to be my dresser and before it was my dresser it used to belong to her grandma.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said. “Grandma used to put her clothes in there. It used to be hers and she gave it to me. I used it and then gave it to you, and when you have a little girl, if you have a little girl, you can hand it down to her.”

And with all seriousness she looked at me and replied, “It’s too heavy, mom.”

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Santa took some time out of his busy schedule and paid a visit to Nathan’s workplace Monday night.  In spite of the impending layoffs, I still think Nathan’s company is one of the best companies he and I have ever worked for.  They are very family oriented and really know how to take care of people.  Along with hosting the Santa visit, they provided punch and cookies and had an arts and crafts area set up for the kids to make Christmas ornaments.  It was all very nice.

We had been talking up the Santa visit for a few days and Autumn was pretty geeked about it.  Two years ago, just after she had turned one, I took her to the local supermarket to have her picture taken with Santa.  Like most parents, we wound up with a photo of a completely wigged out child screaming her head off on Santa’s lap.  

I’m happy to say this year was completely different.  Autumn caught sight of Santa and waived to him as we stood in line.  As soon as it was our turn, she walked right up to the guy and said, “I want a dinosaur now.”  I guess the girl was expecting him to produce that dinosaur for her on the spot.  It was a little embarrassing. 

Santa simply smiled and told her she’d have to wait for that dinosaur.  He pulled Autumn up into his lap and the two of them chatted before having their picture taken.

 
Note to Santa: We’ll work on those manners between now and next year’s visit. 

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