Monday, March 27, 2006

Creepy Crawlies

I don't know how it is in other parts of the country, but in California we love to talk about ants. Hey, if you're gonna have ants, you might as well learn to love talking about them, I suppose. When the weather is rainy and ants come into the house, folks will unfailingly remark, "They're coming in to get away from the water." When the weather is warm and sunny, these same folks will knowingly say, "They're coming in to find water." It seems ants are never happy with their lack or abundance of water. Silly ants.

Lately I've been noticing ants in the upstairs bathroom. I'm pretty sure they're after the traces of peanut butter that my son leaves in the cracks around the light switch right before he washes his hands. I'm always trying to wipe that stuff off and teach him to flip the switch with his elbow if his hands are sticky, but it's a never-ending exercise. We just got finished with the fruit fly affair; prior to that it was Mosquito Invasion 2005. When we still lived with my son's dad, the old rental house came with deluxe cockroaches. The kiddo's dad was my hero back then as he filled every hole in the walls and baseboards, thus ensuring a roach-free home for the remainder of our time there.

Now we live near a lake, complete with all sorts of critters, and although I'm not especially fond of the bugs that find their way inside, I'm inordinately grateful that we've never had a bee in the house, because people, let me just tell you, I would totally lose it if that happened. Once when we were walking uphill on the lake trail, a woman hastily making her way downhill kindly informed us that there was a bee swarm up ahead. We turned around and were following her, debating whether or not to announce the swarm to every single person on their way up, when a few bees took a liking (or maybe the opposite??) to my red hat. At first I simply tried to walk faster, but the bees meant business. I tried shooing them away with my hat, and finally had to resort to the running/jumping/hollering dance that some people (hello) do when they encounter bees.

I do not like bees. Of course, now that I've said it, we'll have nothing but bees for the rest of the year. We're always finding dead ones on the deck, so it's probably just a matter of time. *shudder*

When the kiddo was a baby, his dad and I took him to huge park where we could all ride the small train that wound through the grounds, and walk alongside the kiddo as he sat precariously on a pony that traipsed around a ring. While out walking, we took a shortcut through a parking lot and noticed a black cloud over our heads. Bees! I scooped up the kiddo and ran toward the little train station while my son's dad calmly followed. The bees weren't interested in us, as it turned out, but I'd never seen so many bees in one place. Then, not more than a few days later, I was on my parents' patio, enjoying a quiet afternoon with my plants (the kiddo and I lived with my folks for a time), when I heard what sounded like a small plane approaching. I hopped back into the house and shut the glass door in time to see a huge swarm of bees zoom through the yard.

I'm guessing it wasn't the same swarm we'd seen at the park, since the park was many miles away, but then again, what do I know? My knowledge of bees comes from "B" movies about killer bees stinging children to death in the Deep South, and a couple of Discovery Channel documentaries in which dazed townspeople spoke of the day the killer bees showed up and started stinging the babies and dogs and even the fire department wasn't sure what to do.

But I digress. The bug du jour is ants. Little critters that don't really bother anyone and are fairly easy to control. I found a crack in the baseboard where I think they're coming in, and I sprinkled baby powder in it because I read somewhere that ants won't cross that. to resume my peanut butter abatement efforts...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Video Game Overload

Whoah. My son is at his dad's house and I'm winding down by playing nonstop Tetris. (Recently we were kindly loaned an old-school video game thingie that's bringing back some memories for me!) If you've ever played nonstop Tetris, you'll understand what I mean when I say that all the lines of text on this page look like puzzle pieces and I'm imagining which pieces can fit into certain spaces. Ack. The last time something like this happened was one summer in my childhood, after my grandma taught me how to play solitaire and I played for hours every day. I started to see people as "black" (not in an ethnic sense -- more like clubs and spades!) or "red," and imagined which sets of opposites went together. There's gotta be a name for this phenomenon of the mind playing little game-related tricks on one.

But I think I'd be better off going to bed, rather than trying to figure it out. Ow, my head...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wanna Wadish?

Mary from Mary's Owlhaven reminded me of the oh-so-cute way that kids pronounce things when they're first learning how to speak. I loved that stage so much (although we still run into words that my son pronounces rather interestingly). One of my son's favorite books for a while was one that I also loved -- watercolor paintings of produce for every letter of the alphabet. We read that one over and over and we still have it. Some of the pronunciations that my son came up with were so sweet, like "waddylemon" for "watermelon," and "cucubumber" for "cucumber."

The best, though, came when we were on a little mountain vacation with my son's dad. As we shopped in a local store for supplies, the kiddo said "hockey mama" for "jicama." His dad and I laughed for a long time over that one, and couldn't bear to correct him. I'll remember that moment forever.

Nature v. Nurture

The other day we had some errands to run, so we went down to the garage and I unlocked all the car doors from the driver's side as usual. I loaded my stuff into the car and saw my son still standing on the other side, fumbling with the door handle. When I called to him to just get in the car so I could buckle him in, he said he was having trouble with the door. Thinking I'd mistakenly pressed the wrong button, I deliberately pressed the unlock button, but still my son struggled with the door. Finally I went over to his side, opened the door, watched him climb in, and buckled him up.

"I couldn't open the door," he said, showing me his right hand (he's right-handed), "because I need to keep this hand clean so I can rub my eye, but the other hand is okay to get dirty because I only use it to pick my nose."

The sad thing is that I had the same kind of logic (and habits!) when I was a kid, and since I've never told him about it, I can only surmise that this pathetic way of thinking is genetic.

Man, if that's the case, the kiddo is in for a funny little life. ;^)

Don't Mess with Destiny

Today when I put a limit on his video game time, my five-year-old told me, "Mommy, you are keeping me from my destiny and that is humiliating!" (SpongeBob strikes again...)

A few minutes ago, right before going to his dad's house, he gave me a hug and said, "You know, when I give you an extra-hard hug that means I really, really love you, and you know what's in all of my hugs? Strawberries and chocolate hearts!"

I miss him already.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Not for the Faint of...Stomach

I had to go to Wal-Mart today and the kiddo was hungry, so I took him to McD's on the way...and he almost barfed because he ate too fast and is very tired today after having spent YET ANOTHER NIGHT watching videos in the middle of the night at Daddy's house while Daddy sleeps with his freaking door shut. But that's another story, and no, I'm not annoyed in the least.

At McD's, I'd hoped the kiddo would be able to climb around in the Human Habitrail with the other hamster-children and burn off energy because it's cloudy and dark and cold and windy today and I didn't think I wanted to take him to the lake or the park, but I wanted to pry him away from his video game addiction, at least for a while. (He gets to bring the video games from his dad's house once a month or so.) Taking the kiddo to McD's is fun for me, too, because I get to eavesdrop on the kiddo's conversations with other kids, in which another kid will say something like, "Let's pretend we're getting chased by jaguars," and my son will reply, "Jaguars-schmaguars." It's more entertaining for me than cable any day of the week.

So we were at the restaurant and he hurriedly gobbled down two nuggets and a spacy look appeared on his face and I thought: No, it couldn't be. Then he started to panic and wave his arms and I thought: But it is. Time slowed momentarily and I was reminded of our erstwhile Golden Retriever, who once gobbled too hastily and promptly upchucked, bless his gluttonous little heart. I grabbed the bag from the Happy Meal, which was already empty, thank goodness, and held it under the kiddo's face while another mom watched. My son cooperated, unlike our dog, who long ago tried to evade me as I chased him around with his bowl while he made pre-upchuck noises. But I digress.

"This is new," I joked in the other mom's direction, not wanting her to think the kiddo had the flu or something, because he doesn't, to my knowledge. (frantically knocking wood) She smiled indulgently, but left with her three Catholic school-uniformed kids shortly afterward. Heh. For the record, not much came out of the kiddo's mouth except some saliva.

Are you eating right now? Because maybe you shouldn't be. I'm just saying.

When we arrived at Wal-Mart later, he told me he wanted to call Daddy to tell him about almost barfing (always big news when you're five), and informed me that the reason not much came out was that he swallowed most of what came up. Mmmm...deeeeeelicious! I will not be eating until I can shake that image, let me tell you. Just think of what we'll save on groceries.

We scurried around and collected our necessities, and at the checkout stand, when the cashier cheerfully greeted the kiddo, he told her, "I'm tired today and I had a barfy-sick at Nick Donald's and my head is hurting because I have mucus in my nose." I just hope she wasn't planning on taking her lunch break anytime soon.

When we got home, the kiddo helped a bit as I unloaded the groceries, then raced upstairs to go potty. In about a minute I heard urgent shouts and hauled buns up the stairs, to discover that the toilet was very close to overflowing. I'd actually known about the problem before we'd left the house, but had had the brilliant idea of letting it wait, while hoping for the best upon our return...except I'd forgotten all about it and the kiddo was watching the rising tide with a horrified expression on his face.

Luckily the toilet gods smiled on us and a flood was averted. I waited for the water to recede a bit before, uh, attacking the problem, while the kiddo watched me and asked about fifty million questions that I didn't really want to answer -- things like "How did you learn to use a plunger?" and "Can I try that?" and "What happens if the water goes all over the place, Mom?" With a final herculean effort, I finally, uh, solved the problem and the kiddo pronounced me a genius. And you know, I really am a toilet-plunging genius, so he's right. ;^)

In other news, my Olympic gold medalist client was supposed to send me an article to edit today, but he didn't, so presumably he's still working on it. Too bad I don't get paid to plunge toilets.

It's all so glamorous, ain't it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Budding Pinnochio?

So today my son and I were sitting around talking about his class, and he told me, "Mommy, anyway, you're not going to like this and please don't be mad at me, but today I knocked down a very impressive castle and told the teacher another kid did it."

I asked if the other kid had gotten in trouble. "Yes," the kiddo said, "he got a time-out."

Hmm. I thought about this for a few minutes before climbing on my soapbox and saying things like "personal responsibility" and "honesty" and the like. Well, actually I used somewhat simpler language, and asked the kiddo how he would feel if someone did something naughty and told the teacher the kiddo had done it and the kiddo had gotten a time-out. "Not good," he replied. "Like kind of medium mad and medium sad."

I told him we need to tell the teacher the truth (and tell the truth at all times). "Well, maybe you could talk to the teacher for me," he suggested, "because I'll probably forget about it by the next time I go to my class."

I suggested that he write a note, with Mommy telling him the letters, to the teacher to tell her what had happened, to apologize, and to assure her that he will tell the truth from now on. We haven't written the note yet, and the kiddo says he wants to tell his dad about it himself.

But I'm wondering what some of you have done or would do in a similar situation. Anyone?

I May Have to Hold Him to This

Last night my son was talking about kindergarten and college. Apparently there's nothing in between, but that's okay. He was telling me that when he's in college, he'll come and visit me a lot, and I told him that even if he lives at college, I'll keep a room at home for him to sleep in when he comes to visit. He was very excited about that, and told me that when he's a big man with his own house, he'll keep a room for me to sleep in. I asked him what he would put in my room.

His reply: "Well, I know you like pink and purple, so I'll put pink and purple things in there, like flowers. You like flowers, so I'll put lots of pink flowers in your room. I'll put blossoms in your room. And what else do you like? Soft beds? 'Cause I can put a soft bed in your room, and even a little TV for you to watch before you go to sleep. It's going to be a very nice room."

Hmm. Sounds nice. I can't wait for him to grow up. ;^)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I Just Found Out Who Stocks Old Navy

"In many, many, many, many years, I'll be fifty-three like Daddy and I'll be really old and I'll have lots of wrinkles on my face and when I'm a teenager, maybe sixteen, I'll start to grow a beard, but right now I just pretty much have skin and eyes and all my regular body parts, but I do have a lot of clothing, and some of it is from God."

-- The Kiddo

Eating My Way Through the Weekend

On Friday my dad happened to call right when I was in the middle of a slight meltdown, so he volunteered to take me out to lunch -- and he drove 60 miles each way to do it. (We met about 35 miles north of me.) Very touching, I must say. We sat in the restaurant for at least two (maybe two and a half) hours and just talked, and I left in a great mood. After we parted, I walked around the newly puddled shopping center (the rain had stopped while we were eating lunch) and bought chocolate truffles. Went home afterward and fell asleep early.

On Saturday, I puttered around the house and arranged to meet my youngest sister for breakfast on Sunday. Thought about seeing an Oscar-nominated movie, but never really got motivated enough to put on real clothes. ;^)

When Sunday morning arrived, I got up at 5:30 a.m., got myself ready and was out the door by about 6:30. Arrived in Orange County at the Costa Mesa Omelette Parlor at 8:00. She arrived at 8:30, having not believed that I would be on time. I'd already ordered, but she caught up and then surpassed me. What can I say? I'm a slow eater.

After breakfast (her surprise treat!), we went out to her car so I could see Woody, her dog. He'd just had some surgery on a dewclaw that had been torn when he was digging like a maniac for chipmunks. The nail was healing nicely and he was incredibly excited to see me. He's a Danish-Swedish Farmdog, bouncy like a Jack Russell, and runs around, bouncing off furniture and walls. Sis calls it "doing superstars." :-)

We decided to take the doggie to a nearby park to see Sis's friends play softball, and Woody rode with me, whining the whole way as we followed my sister's car to the field. Sis plays rugby, but likes to show support for her friends' sport (and has been known to try to recruit future rugby players there once in a while). We sat in the stands and petted others' doggies. Somone on a different team brought homemade ricotta cheesecake for a teammate's birthday and we sampled some of that. A mom and two Girl Scouts showed up later, pulling a wagon full of cookies for sale, and we supported the cause. It was shaping up to be quite a caloric weekend. The day was pretty bright; luckily I happened to have sunscreen in my purse, although I forgot to slather the skin exposed by my V-neck T-shirt (heh -- how alphabetical) and I got a V-shaped sunburn.

When the game was almost over, I wandered off to see Capote at a local theater, since I was in my old stomping grounds and knew the area. I planned to be home in time for the Academy Awards, so I figured I'd check out another of the films getting some press. I'd already seen "Transamerica" (fabulous) and some others, and I love Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so off I went. Yep, the film was awesome, but I'm still sort of disturbed by the brief images of blood-spattered people and walls. *shudder*

I sped off for home as soon as the film was over, and arrived around 3:30. A homeless man was standing by the freeway exit and I was touched to see that he was wearing a short-sleeved, plaid shirt that looked like it could've come from my dad's closet. As luck would have it, I had to stop for a light at the bottom of the exit, and I was right next to the guy. I wanted to give him something, but I didn't have any cash on me. Then I remembered: McDonald's gift certificates. They were still in my purse after the kiddo received them from my parents for Valentine's Day. Seeing as I'd taken the kiddo to McDonald's a time or two in the past couple of weeks and forgotten to use the certificates, I had no qualms about giving them away to someone in need. I offered them to the guy and he was incredibly thankful -- so thankful that the light turned green and I held up traffic for a bit as I listened to him, thinking he probably doesn't get the luxury of being listened to very much, either. So many thing I take for eating and friendly conversation. Although I was glad he could use the certificates (he said), I felt like sort of a jerk as I drove a couple of blocks to pick up some goodies to enjoy while watching the Academy Awards. Ah well...I can't solve all the problems, I guess, but still...

Still revved up from the buckets of coffee I'd had at breakfast, I watched the Oscar broadcast and ran upstairs during commercials to look up info. on the Internet Movie Database. Nerdy, sure, but fun. Right when Reese Witherspoon won, my other sister called from the City of Brotherly Love (she's visiting friends) to say hello and I turned on the captions so I could read Reese's speech aloud to my sister, pretty much against her will. ;^)

And that's how I spent (ingested?) my weekend. Much-needed playtime. Now...back to business. The kiddo and I took a calorie-burning walk (I'm gonna need about fifty million of these to work off this weekend's indulgence alone) to the local school to pick up a kindergarten registration packet and peek through the windows. (School hours were over.) We chatted with the smiling lady in the office and met a couple of friendly fifth-grade teachers who were just leaving. The kiddo was shy at first but, like me, he can't resist a little conversation, and he warmed up without much ado. As we wandered the grounds, admired the artwork displayed on the classroom windows and took note of the after-school kids having circle time with two teachers on the playground, the kiddo decided that school sounds like a lot of fun.

In fact, on the way home, he told me one of the best things would be lunch: "Mommy, you can make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and maybe some cookies and put them in my lunchbox and I can bring them to school and maybe show the other kids what I have for lunch. Except maybe I should practice wiping my own face because I always get so messy when I eat peanut butter and jelly and I'll have to do it by myself at school, or maybe my teacher can help me if I miss a spot."

Yep, lunch is the big draw. That's my boy. ;^)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bold Birdies

I had a ton of errands to do today, and a little spare time in which to do them, as I'm awaiting a client's return from vacation. After the kiddo returned from his dad's house this morning, I scooped him up and we headed out to Accomplish Things. Luckily the kiddo is pretty fun to hang out with on these excursions; I always enjoy chatting with him about video games as we shop for groceries or whatnot. Of course, he's too big to sit in the seat of the shopping cart, and I'm not willing to drag him along on foot, so I usually let him ride in the larger area of the cart and play his Game Boy. This means I have to carefully arrange items around his legs and feet. Buying eggs is a little harrowing.

Anyway, we did everything we'd set out to do, and on the way home the kiddo fell asleep in the car. Hmm. I wanted to let him sleep for a few extra minutes, so instead of turning into our driveway, I went a few yards farther with the intention of circling the parking lot at the lake. A car ahead of me seemed to be having some difficulty passing a bunch of pigeons and ducks that were pecking at bread in the lot. Why weren't they closer to the water? Because, as it turned out, a couple of kids were intentionally throwing bread into the parking lot. I figured the car ahead of me would clear the way, but as soon as that car rounded the corner the birds reappeared and resumed their feast. Rolling down my window, I asked the kids if they could shoo the birds away from my car; they looked at me silently.

Okay. Ever so slowly, I began to inch forward, hoping I wouldn't hear a crunch and be forever known to the lake regulars as the heartless lady who drove over a duck. I swear, it must have taken me about fifteen minutes to go two yards. I was starting to feel like George Costanza: "We got no deal with the squirrels!" I didn't think we had a deal with the ducks; nevertheless, I resigned myself to continuing at a snail's pace. A homeless man watched me from his seat at a picnic table. "Looks like I got myself into a pickle!" I called out. He laughed and kept an eye out for birds, letting me know when my path was clear. I thanked him with a smile and a merry thumbs-up and arrived home before the milk turned.

Next time I'll get out of the car and flap my arms. Might be quicker that way.