Thursday, July 31, 2008
The last time we were there, if you'll remember, there was an African bullfrog on display in the animal area. I felt a special kinship with this frog, because the frog was named Karen. That's her photo with my blog profile. This morning, I looked all over for Karen, but she was nowhere to be seen. I started to worry that maybe -- gulp -- Karen had passed away. I'm not sure how long African bullfrogs live. Maybe two years is, like, 80 years in Bullfrog Years.
Deep in my heart, though, I know Karen is just fine. I've decided that she orchestrated a daring escape from the science museum, perhaps with some of her lizard and chinchilla friends. Maybe she had to crawl under laser beams and maneuver her way through secret panels in the ceiling. Finally she emerged into the fresh night air, and she headed out on the road to pursue her dream of becoming an actress in Hollywood. You know, just like in The Muppet Movie, only with a slightly less attractive frog.
Good luck to you, Karen. We're all rooting for you.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Of course, WCK was fascinated. So was I. We sat in a parking lot across from the fountain for a few minutes and watched the bubbles. They spilled across four lanes of traffic; huge clumps rolled across the road like tumbleweeds. Two helpless looking maintenance workers tried to get the bubbles under control, to no avail. As we watched, I had to pretend like I'm actually a Responsible Mom and make an occasional remark such as, "You know, it's not very nice to put bubbles in someone else's fountain," or "Whoever did that was being very bad."
In reality, though, I thought it was the coolest thing I'd seen in a really long time. I wondered what kind of soap they used to get such good results.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I love going to movies. I still remember my mom taking me to my first movies when I was about WCK's age, maybe a little bit older. The first movies I remember were Lady and the Tramp and Mary Poppins. These are two of my favorite movies to this day. I ask all of you to re-watch Lady and the Tramp, though. Does Tramp get Lady pregnant on their first date??!? Watch it again. He TOTALLY does.
And I remember my babysitter taking me to see E.T. Afterwards, she took me to the arcade at the mall and taught me how to play Pac Man. I wonder if that all really happened in one day, or if I'm just condensing all of the early '80s into one memory.
Anyway. I love going to movies. Back before we had WCK, Jay and I would go to a movie almost every week, sometimes more often. We loved going to the brand-new Disney and Pixar movies, although we were always the only adults in the audience who were there without kids. We'd always say, "We need to have a baby so we can come to Pixar movies without looking creepy." That was the main reason we had WCK. Well, that and the fact that we thought we were getting too much sleep and our house was too clean.
I wanted WCK to share in my love of movies, and I couldn't wait for her to be old enough to come to the movies with us. One year ago, if you'll remember, I tried taking her to Curious George. It was a little too intense, and we had to flee the theater in terror not long after the opening credits. I kept her away from theaters until this morning, when I thought we would try again. We went to the $2 kids' movie and saw Clifford's Really Big Movie:
The plot was pretty bland (Clifford runs away from home to perform in a talent show so he can win free dog food), but WCK was enthralled! She sat through the entire movie, staring up at the screen in amazement the whole time. Part of it could have been the fact that I let her have some movie popcorn. For $3, you can get a "kiddie combo", which includes a teeny bit of popcorn, a tiny package of candy, and a teeny pop. (Well, "teeny" and "tiny" for movie theater sizes. They'd actually be normal sizes out in the real world.) I slipped the candy into my bag, drank the pop by myself, and shared the popcorn with WCK. It was the perfect amount of movie food. I think I'll order the kiddie combo for myself every time I go to the movies.
I'm very excited about this no-longer-afraid-of-movies development. Once we conquer the fear of vacuums, I might be able to lead a semi-normal life.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I thought that I was ready for this. In fact, I was kind of looking forward to it. She'll be in school just two mornings a week, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. That is a lot of free time for me. I kept thinking of all of the things I could do. I could go to the grocery store without pushing an enormous cart shaped like a school bus. I could vacuum the house or iron a shirt without anyone screaming in terror. I could take an exercise class or clean out all of the closets in the house AND clean the freezer. Knowing me, though, I'll probably fritter away all of my time checking my e-mail or Googling useless information. Still. It was looking pretty exciting.
Then over the weekend, we got a big envelope of information from the preschool. All of a sudden it dawned on me: MY CHILD IS REALLY OLD. MY CHILD IS GOING TO SCHOOL. MY CHILD IS GOING OUT INTO THE WORLD, AND I WILL NOT BE WITH HER. I started reading the supply list out loud to Jay and WCK, and I got all choked up. One of the items is "slim markers." SLIM MARKERS! Somebody thinks my child is old enough to be using slim markers, and not just the big chunky kind. It took an entire day before I could even walk past the supply list without getting misty-eyed.
I'd better toughen up, because eventually we are going to have to go shopping for these supplies. I don't want to be sobbing at Target when I place the slim markers in the cart. Cleanup on Aisle 5!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
On Thursday, WCK and I went to a puppet show at the library. It was at a library that's further away from our house than our "regular" library, but the Puppet Show Lady absolutely cracks me up, so I'm willing to drive a little farther when she is performing. She's an older lady who looks exactly like my Great-Grandma Nina. She always performs a puppet show that has a storyline, and then she brings out two frog puppets who tell really bad (in this case "bad" means "good") knock-knock jokes. (Knock, knock. Who's there? Little old lady. Little old lady who? I didn't know you could yodel!)
WCK and I just crack up.
At the end of the show, one of the frogs always recites "Slithery Dee." My dad used to sing me "Slithery Dee" all the time when I was little. Maybe this explains why I'm not quite right; I don't know, but I love "Slithery Dee." I didn't know anybody else even knew "Slithery Dee" until the Puppet Show Lady entered our lives. It goes like this:
Oh, Slithery Dee, he crawled out of the sea
He ate all the others, but he won't eat me
No, he won't eat me, ol' Slithery Dee
He may catch all the others, but--
(BIG SLURPING, CHOMPING SOUND)
I've gotten way off topic.
After the puppet show, I decided to stop at a nearby Wal-Mart for a few things we needed. It is not a super Wal-Mart, so it is even LESS CLASSY than the Wal-Mart right by our house, which I didn't think was possible. I put WCK in the cart, buckled the little seat belt, bought our stuff, and went back to the car. And then ... I could NOT get the seat belt unbuckled. WCK was trapped in the Wal-Mart cart. I struggled with it for a few minutes, and WCK started to panic and scream, "GET ME OUT!! GET ME OUT!!" Maybe she had visions of having to spend the rest of her life in a Wal-Mart cart. Maybe we would have to live at Wal-Mart. That thought would make me scream, too.
As we struggled, an SUV slowed to a stop nearby. The driver looked like a nice young mom. "Ah," I thought, "someone is stopping to help us." Turns out she just wanted our parking spot. When she saw that we were going to be there for a while, because my screaming child was obviously permanently tied to a shopping cart, she moved on. Thank you, fellow Wal-Mart patron!
Finally, I decided to go back into the store to see if the employees could help us. I expected them to be surprised, but they acted completely un-surprised and bored, as though small children are getting trapped in the shopping carts ALL DAY LONG.
"Oh, yeah," said the Wal-Mart Lady, "I have some scissors right here."
One snip, and WCK was free. She was ecstatic. She keeps talking about the Wal-Mart ladies and how they helped her. As we walked back to the car, she asked, "Can we go back and say thank-you again? Can we go back and say thank-you again?"
That's sweet, but a brand-new Target opens right by our house tomorrow. God willing, I never have to set foot in a Wal-Mart again.
Final topic: WCK and I made scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning, and we both noticed that the cracked eggs formed a smiley face. What do you think?
Friday, July 25, 2008
Woo! Last month it was 1.7, so it went down even with the lower doses of Revlimid and dex. With numbers like these, I'm sure I'll be able to try stopping the dex in four weeks.
"You must be doing something right," said the nurse.
Hmm. Maybe those giant Minnesota mosquitoes sucked the cancer right out of me.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
If you have any follow-up questions, such as, "Where did she get the idea for the scarecrow costume?" or "What does it mean?" I cannot help you. I have no explanation for the scarecrow costume. I've simply learned to accept the scarecrow costume as an important part of our lives now.
Most mornings, she wakes up searching for the scarecrow costume, exclaiming, "WHERE'S MY BRAIN?" To be honest, I usually ask this question of myself when I first wake up, too.
Thanks to the scarecrow costume, conversations around our house sound even sillier than they normally do. Just this morning, you could have overheard, "Mommy, my brain is falling off!" and "If you don't sit down and put on your shoes right this minute, I am taking your brain away for the rest of the day!"
Sunday, July 20, 2008
"Mommy," she said soberly, "the New Kids on the Block ARE NOT as good as Mr. Stinky Feet."
Deep down in my heart, I know she is right.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
My sister posted a comment pointing out that Danny is hardly in the video at all. I had been thinking this very thing. In the "making of" video, Donnie explains the "plot": All of the guys have gone their separate ways for 15 years, and he sends out a text message that prompts them all to reunite. (Apparently a few dozen dancing bikini women received this text as well, although I wonder where on their bodies they store their cell phones.) If you weren't brave enough to watch the video (and, really, you SHOULD NOT watch it unless you want that song in your head for many years), I'll review: When Donnie sends out the text, he's shown getting into his own private helicopter. Joe is hanging out on his yacht, Jordan and Jon are each driving around in super fancy cars. And Danny ... is running around in some tall weeds.
Nobody ever liked Danny the best. We also sort of tolerated Danny as part of the group, but he was never anyone's favorite. I mean, face it: He's just not as cute as the others. He has no real skills. Yeah, he could lift weights and sang the deep-voice part on "Step by Step", but nobody was really that impressed. No girl would be caught dead wearing a Danny button or hanging a Danny poster in her locker. Now I'm wondering if each New Kid received royalties from his individual products. Joe sold enough buttons to buy a yacht, and Danny has to live in the weeds. It looks like he was able to afford a few new tattoos, though. Good for him.
In other news: I went to the Cancer Center yesterday. It was all pretty routine. My blood counts are OK. My white cells are a little low, but not by much. Dr. GPO said I could try 2 mg of dex per week. (That is half a pill!) Like last time, though, I'm continuing on the 4 mg until I get my results back showing everything is OK. I'm on it right now. It's not too bad. Really annoying and icky, but not horrible.
Now I'm off to sing "Summertime" in my head for the rest of the day.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Don't worry; I haven't forgotten about the New Kids! I am still keeping my solemn vigil until the Nov. 11 NKOTB concert by posting a video on the 11th of each month. This month, vacation got in the way, so I am nearly a week late. I promise this video will be well worth it.
This is their newest video, "Summertime." Now, at first glance it may appear to be nothing but three solid minutes of wrinkly, 40-something-year-old married men climbing all over 18-year-old bikini models. If you visit YouTube, however, you can find a three-part series about the making of this video. Donnie explains that it has a very detailed, serious plot. They're simply enduring the bikini models for the sake of art. Also, they worked very hard on this video. Jon tells us that on one of the days of the video shoot, they had to get up as early as EIGHT A.M. to dance with these bikini models.
Gosh, I hate to see them suffering like this.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Friday, July 11 was our ten-year wedding anniversary. Ten years! Since we were on vacation, though, we couldn't really go out on a fabulous grownup date. I suppose we could have left WCK under the supervision of the cabin chipmunk, but we decided not to. Besides, we already had a week-long Fabulous 10-Year Anniversary Grownup Date last March when Jay and I went to Disney World, so the actual anniversary was pretty low-key. The three of us went to a restaurant in Ely that offered a wide variety of food, so we each ended up with our favorite things. WCK had grilled cheese, Jay had nachos, and I had mashed potatoes and gravy. Aren't mashed potatoes the official 10-year anniversary gift?
We left the cabin on Saturday and made our way toward Lake Superior. The only route was a very curvy, twisty road through Superior National Forest, and, yes, WCK threw up. Poor thing. I guess it wouldn't be an official family vacation if she didn't get carsick in a scenic location. Last year, it was the wildlife loop at Custer State Park in South Dakota. Where will she throw up next year? Let me know if you have any suggestions. It has to be beautiful and scenic, but hugely inconvenient in some way (no place to pull over, filled with mosquitoes, miles from baby wipes, etc.).
We finally got to the shore of Lake Superior, and it was also beautiful but really, really, really windy. We kept trying to find a place to have a picnic, but the cooler kept blowing over. Finally we gave up and ate at a McDonald's in Duluth. Then we hung out in downtown Duluth for a couple of hours. It was really fun, and there were lots of things to see; I wish we could have stayed there longer.
Then we were off to the Twin Cities again. Jay got to go out with some of his old work buddies, so I decided that WCK and I would have a slumber party in the hotel. I actually ordered one of the hotel pay-per-view movies, which I knew was a huge risk, because WCK is very persnickety about what she will watch. She is still nearly one year into her anti-Sesame Street crusade and shows no signs of backing down. We got Horton Hears a Who, and she LOVED it. I think it was the first time she's sat through an entire movie without complaining once. I really liked it, too.
We spent Sunday at my favorite place in the world -- The Mall of America. I love the way it smells. If you ever go there, take a deep breath. They should make Mall of America air fresheners. Anyway, we had never been to the Underwater Adventures aquarium, which is underneath the mall. A person in a giant shark outfit was walking around handing out coupons, so we decided to check it out. Even with $12 in coupons from Giant Shark Person, it was still $40 for the three of us to get in. It was a pretty cool aquarium, but not $40 worth of cool. At least they had a little pool where you could reach in and touch sting rays.
The next morning, I had to tell WCK we were driving back to Kansas City. She was crushed. "I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK TO KANSAS CITY!" she wailed. "I WANT TO STAY HERE!!"
I guess that's the sign of a good trip.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I'll try to post a few more highlights of the trip later. Before the Internet went down, I was going to tell this story:
When we were at the cabin, a friendly chipmunk kept running around on our deck. Obviously, this chipmunk had been fed a lot by cabin guests, because he wasn't afraid of anything or anyone. WCK was delighted to see him scampering around. He disappeared under the deck for a moment while we were watching him one night, just as a squirrel appeared on a nearby tree.
"There's the chipmunk!" said WCK.
"No, that's a squirrel," I said.
"It is the chipmunk," WCK insisted. "He's wearing a squirrel costume."
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Today we explored downtown Ely, which is filled with gift shops. I told WCK she could pick out ONE THING. She finally decided that her ONE THING would be ... a drum. It's a small, Native-American-style drum that cost, like, five bucks, and it didn't come with drumsticks. OK, I thought. She'll just tap it with her hands. It won't be too annoying.
We paid for the drum and started walking away, but the salesgirl stopped us.
"Wait!" she said. "Those drums come with sticks." She pulled a set of big drumsticks from beneath the counter. "We keep them back here because we don't want to listen to the kids pounding on the drums all day."
WCK's eyes lit up at the sight of the sticks.
"I'm going to start a band," she said.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Today we visited the International Wolf Center. This is a really fun museum devoted entirely to wolves. A pack of wolves lives in a special habitat at the center, and this pack now includes two wolf pups that are only a few months old. When we were on vacation in South Dakota last year, we bought WCK a book about "forest babies", and it includes a photo of a wolf pup. We've been reading this book for a year, but for some reason, WCK became obsessed with the wolf pup just a few weeks ago. She kept saying she wanted to go outside and look for wolf pups. When we told her we'd see actual wolf pups in Minnesota, she could hardly contain herself. At last, the big day was here.
When we arrived, we were told there would be a Wolf Pup Demonstration. We had to wait FOREVER for it to begin (OK, it was, like, 10 minutes, but that is 10 hours in toddler time). Finally, the program started ... and the Wolf Expert Guy announced that he would speak for about 20 minutes on the topic of wolf pups before the wolf pups were actually brought out. This equals about a day and a half in toddler time. WCK endured this the best she could, mainly by asking, "Where are the wolf pups? Where are the wolf pups? Where are the wolf pups?"
Finally, the wolf pups we had been dreaming of for weeks (or perhaps years -- in toddler time) appeared, and ... they promptly lay down and fell asleep. WCK gazed at them for about a minute, and then announced to the entire auditorium that she wanted a snack. We decided to go.
Outside the Wolf Center, we had a great time playing on some wolf statues. They seemed a bit friskier than the actual live wolves.
Later in the day, we went to the North American Bear Center. It's pretty much the same thing, only with bears. This time, we actually saw some real, live bears wandering around. The hands-on children's area included ... some rubber bear poop for the kids to play with. I'm not making this up. WCK latched on to the rubber bear poop and carried it around for quite a while.
Monday, July 07, 2008
ME: It's time to go into the bathroom to go pee.
WCK: (Exasperated) But I just went pee YESTERDAY!
We spent yesterday relaxing around the cabin, splashing in the lake, and grilling. WCK tasted her first smore and was very pleased. I think there are more smores in her future.
This morning, we tried to go hiking on some trails in the woods, but we were thwarted by angry mosquitoes. We brought along insect repellent, of course, but it was cutesy, foofy insect repellent that has a pleasant smell and is supposed to be completely safe for toddlers. Apparently, it is also completely safe for mosquitoes. This stuff might work, say, if you were sitting on the deck of your home in the middle of the city and were trying to keep away a single gnat. Here in the north woods, however, the mosquitoes are hardy, street-wise creatures who drink this brand of repellent for breakfast. They're highly intelligent and attack as a team, like the velicoraptors in Jurassic Park. We could clearly hear them laughing as they surrounded our child and attempted to carry her off to their Secret Evil Mosquito Lair. It would not have been difficult, considering most of them outweighed her.
We quickly retreated to our (somewhat) mosquito-free cabin. You've won this battle, mosquitoes, but the war isn't over.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
WCK is a pretty good traveler. Because of her infamous motion-sickness problem, she can't do much in the car. She can't watch movies or look at books or color or anything like that. Fortunately, she's pretty content to sit in her car seat and listen to Mr. Stinky Feet and chat about what she sees out the window. We're pretty fortunate, except we've listened to the four Stinky Feet CDs that we own about 20 times each. If I hear ...
There's seven holes in my head
You heard me right, that's what I said
I've got seven holes in my head
Seven holes in my head!
... one more time, I'm going to drill an extra hole in my own head, I swear.
On the first day of the trip, we stopped in Iowa to see my sister, brother-in-law, and World's Cutest Niece, who is four months younger than WCK. WCN was so excited to see her cousin that she sprinted out of her house, squealing, and hugged WCK so hard that they both fell over onto the grass. It was sweet. After a nice walk and a picnic lunch, we headed to the Twin Cities.
We got to the hotel, and WCK thought it was THE MOST EXCITING PLACE SHE HAD EVER BEEN. She was beside herself. She could not believe that her amazing parents had brought her to a HOTEL. Of course, this meant bedtime did not go well. How can you sleep in the MOST EXCITING PLACE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN? She was up until midnight, trying to climb on the air conditioner. Jay and I turned into the Evil Parent versions of ourselves. I kept hearing my father's voice coming out of my mouth. "WCK, it is ten o'clock (dramatic pause) AT NIGHT." WCK did not care. The fact that our hotel room was right next to a bar -- apparently the home to the National Drunken Yelling Championships -- did not help things. She was up bright and early at 7 a.m., and we drove to Grand Rapids, MN, the birthplace of Judy Garland.
WCK had a little nap in the car, so our plan was to eat lunch and then go directly to the Judy Garland Museum. Then we got to Subway, and WCK had a major meltdown because we ran out of Baked Lays. Back to the hotel for a nap.
Except, of course, this hotel was now THE MOST EXCITING PLACE SHE HAD EVER BEEN. She did not nap, so we gave up and swam in the hotel pool and later went out for pizza -- again, hugely exciting. The bedtime battle raged on again last night until about 10 p.m. The fact that our hotel room was right next to the pool -- apparently home to the National Screaming Children Championships -- did not help things.
But we were up again bright and early and actually made it to the Judy Garland Museum. They've done a major remodel since I was there last, and it is just fabulous. They have some amazing Judy memorabilia on display, and a brand-new children's museum. You can also tour the house where Judy lived as a young child, and it's all connected to the brand-new museum now. Two of the Munchkins were in town just last week, and the woman working there informed me that there are only five Munckins left alive. Five!
Security there is really tight, because somebody actually stole a pair of the original Ruby Slippers from that museum a few years ago. What good would that do you, I ask you? And before you begin to suspect, it wasn't me. Judy Garland had size-five feet. I, ah, do NOT have size five feet. I prefer my size nine fake Ruby Slippers that I can wear around the house from time to time.
Don't judge me.
After the museum, we had a good lunch at Auntie Em's Cafe. WCK did very well, and then she had a breakdown in the gift shop and we needed to leave. I'd been considering about $50 in Oz merchandise that I didn't really need, so she saved me from myself. Thank you, WCK.
She napped all the way to the cabin, and here we are. The weather is perfect. It is breathtakingly beautiful up here, but from time to time I think about what it must be like in the winter, and I nearly have a panic attack. But right now it is beautiful. And WCK is quiet -- probably not asleep, but quiet -- in her own bedroom. That's beautiful, too.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
... and head out on a road trip to northern Minnesota. This will be the first time in years that I've set foot in the state of Minnesota without getting poked with needles by medical professionals. It will be a welcome change. Our cabin is supposed to have high-speed Internet (Jay was in charge of picking the cabin, and he said Internet access was a requirement), so I might be able to post vacation updates on location.
In other news, I got my report from Dr. H at the Mayo Clinic. The summary of my last visit starts out like this: "Mrs. (my last name) is doing really quite well." If you have to get a report about your cancer, the words "doing really quite well" from a Mayo Clinic myeloma expert are good things to see. Thanks, Dr. H!
I suppose I should be doing something practical, such as doing laundry or packing up the Truckster. Instead I am blogging. As usual.