Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't touch the kitty

Today, WCK and I took Garland to the vet for her yearly checkup, and the doctor found a little lump under her skin. The doctor looked nervous and then noticed how nervous I looked and then tried really hard to not look nervous. Garland has to go in next week to have surgery to get it removed and find out what it is.

I am mad. Just mad. Look, Cancer Fairy, you got me. Fine. Whatever. But you do not mess with my cat.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Let's roll

You'd think nothing could top WCK's first trip to the bowling alley, but you'd be wrong. On Wednesday, we made WCK's first trip to the roller-skating rink. I have to say that I was really scared to go. I had visions of screaming and tears and constant falling and broken bones -- and that was all on my part. Don't get me started on what I thought would happen to WCK. It turned out to be the FUNNEST. TIME. EVER.

A nearby roller-skating rink opens up one morning a week just for preschool-aged kids. The moms are allowed on the rink in regular shoes to hold the kids' hands. The little skates also appear to be rigged so the wheels don't turn very fast. They shine all of the disco lights and play a mix of Disney music. They even played "Let's Get Together" from The Parent Trap, which has to be one of the greatest Disney movies of all time. At the end of skating, all of the kids got to sit down on the rink and eat a little dish of goldfish crackers and drink a cup of Sprite. WCK has never had pop before so she refused to drink the Sprite, but she still had a splendid time.

I haven't been roller skating since the '80s, but it seemed to be exactly the same, right down to the decor. The only thing that was missing was a couples skate to Journey's "Open Arms". Maybe next time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pin pals

Last week, WCK and I went bowling with our stay-at-home moms' group. I think I've only been bowling two or three times in my life -- not counting the times I'd sit and read a book while my grandma went bowling -- and I am terrible at it. I don't think I've been inside a bowling alley since college.

This bowling alley, however, set up a few lanes just for our group of mostly three-year-olds. The lanes had bumpers on the sides so that the balls would head toward the pins every singe time. I discovered that bowling with a bunch of three-year-olds is wildly hilarious and wildly frustrating at the same time. First of all, the kids all got teeny little bowling shoes (hilarious), but then they discovered that they'd have to take turns with the bowling ball (frustrating).

Why was taking turns so frustrating? Have you ever seen a three-year-old "bowl"? The child rolls the ball. It wobbles slowly toward the pins. You wait. And wait. And wait. You go home. The child grows up. She graduates from college. She goes to med school. At her med school graduation party, you talk about that time you went bowling together when she was three. You decide, for old time's sake, to head back to that same bowling alley. As you walk in the door, the original bowling ball she launched when she was three is just now hitting the pins. This is how slowly three-year-olds bowl.

In the end, WCK bowled an 80 and beat the three three-year-old boys she was bowling against. I was bursting with pride, because I have never won any kind of athletic contest whatsoever, unless you count mini-golf. One of my friends pointed out that WCK might not have followed bowling regulations when she chose to lie on her back and kick the ball down the lane with her feet, but I'm going to overlook that for now. We'll talk about it at her med school graduation.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unrest in Bear Country

A while back, I complained bitterly about My Little Pony. Today's victim: The Berenstain Bears.

I really liked The Berenstain Bears when I was little. I thought they were funny and cute. Now I'm realizing that 99 percent of their books are long, droning sermons on the benefits of cleaning up after yourself, behaving yourself at the dentist, and not crying when you get a shot.

The most disturbing book is The Berenstain Bears and The New Baby. I had this book when I was little, and I found it in a box of my old stuff in the basement and thought it would be fun to read to WCK. Now I read it and wonder: Did my parents buy this book for me to prepare me for the arrival of my sister? If they did, I am sure that it did not work. It is the Most. Unrealistic. Book. Ever.

Seriously. Ever. And I'm including the previously mentioned My Little Pony book Pinky Pie's Spooky Dream. I can believe ponies can be pink, have spooky dreams, and eat waffles. I cannot, however, believe the events that transpire in The Berenstain Bears and The New Baby. Jay and I complain about this book on a regular basis.

Here's what happens: The mother bear, father bear, and little boy bear (I believe he is called "Brother Bear" in future books) all live a happy life in a hollow tree in Bear Country. One morning, the little bear wakes up and his bed is too small for him. Little Bear and Father Bear go off into the woods, chop down a tree, and build a big bed. When they return home with the new bed, presumably a few hours later, the mother has apparently given birth all by herself, completely recovered, slimmed down to her pre-baby weight, and single-handedly moved the old crib into the new baby's room. The new baby is happy and smiling and bops the big brother on his nose. Everyone is happy. No one is the least bit shocked.

I guess I could forgive the authors if there were a sequel: The Berenstain Bears and The Day The Mother Bear's Hormones Kicked In and the Baby Screamed All Night. I'm sure it would be a bestseller.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

They're always after me lucky charms

Years ago, long before WCK was born, one of my regular freelance-writing jobs was to write a short magazine column called "With Kids". Every month, I had to write about a fun craft you could do, well, with kids. I have no idea how I got this assignment, considering I knew almost nothing about crafts and even less about kids. Still, every month I would search the Internet and somehow manage to come up with a craft idea, and nobody ever wrote angry letters to the editor because, say, the craft was faulty and exploded on their child or something.

These days, I've forgotten all of the crafts I wrote about -- except one. The Leprechaun Trap. I've carried this craft idea with me in my head for years. When I wrote about this Back In The Day, I thought it would be the GREATEST CRAFT EVER, and I knew I would do it whenever I had a child who was old enough. I guess the idea of lying to my future child really appealed to me. To create a leprechaun trap, you simply decorate a cardboard box and set it out the night before St. Patrick's Day. In the morning, the leprechaun has managed to somehow escape the trap, but he's left some kind of a treat behind. I suppose you could rig it up to collapse on the leprechaun in a dramatic way. I never paid attention in physics, though, so I told WCK the trap would just magically fall over on top of the leprechaun when he walked inside. She believed me. I guess she never paid attention in physics, either.

Of course, we had to put some kind of bait inside the trap to lure the leprechaun. We used Lucky Charms cereal, which I told WCK was leprechaun food. I mean, there is a picture of a leprechaun right on the outside of the box, just like with cat food or dog food. What else would it be?

This morning, our box had magically fallen over. WCK cautiously approached it twice, and then twice ran upstairs and hid in her room, because she wasn't sure if the leprechaun was going to jump out at her or what. Finally, I had to go explain that I'd checked the trap and that he'd escaped, but he'd left behind a tiny St. Patrick's Day snow globe and a bag of gold. Interestingly, the gold pieces looked exactly like Chuck E. Cheese tokens. Do you think Chuck E. Cheese machines accept leprechaun gold? We will have to find out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cycle 23

Tonight I start Cycle 23 of Revlimid, this time on the 5 mg pills. Again, I was so excited to have them delivered, because I wondered what new color they'd be. I opened the package right away, only to find that they were plain, boring white, just like the 25 mg capsules. Unlike the enormous 25 (and even 15 and 10) mg capsules, though, they are teeny tiny little baby pills! You know how everything is so breathtakingly cute when it is in miniature form, like baby clothes or dollhouse furniture or cocktail weenies or chihuahuas? Well, these pills are simply darling. I almost feel bad swallowing them. I just want to dress them up in teeny little bonnets and look at them all day.

If they didn't cost the insurance company almost $8,000, maybe I would.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Joey Joe

Today is the 11th, and if you've been reading my blog for a while, you know what that means: It's time for my monthly tribute to The New Kids on the Block. Will this ever end? Goodness, I hope not.

Last month, I paid special tribute to Jordan, so I decided that it is Joe McIntyre's turn this month. Back in the Olden Times, I was never a huge fan of Joe. Lately, though, Joe has grown on me. Honestly, I think he has aged better than any of them. When I was 14, I made an Official List of the order in which I liked the members of NKOTB, and it has been Written In Stone ever since. The Official List goes:

1. Donnie
2. Jon
3. Jordan
4. Joe
5. Danny

These days, I am actually toying with the idea of -- brace yourselves -- revising The List. Obviously, Donnie will never move out of the Number One position, but I think Joe needs to move up. At the same time, I think Jon really needs to move down, as he has contributed nothing to the reunion, but I'd feel a little guilty for moving him because he seems absolutely miserable, and I feel he deserves a mercy ranking at Number Two. I'm reluctant to move Jordan out of the Number Three position, however, because of his incredible skill with a wind machine and a poorly buttoned shirt. Here's the big shocker: I really think Danny needs to move out of the Number Five position, because, even though he's never allowed to speak or really be shown on camera, he seems really cheerful and upbeat. Plus, he is raising money for breast cancer research, so I can't really have him languishing at Number Five, even though everyone lets Danny languish at Number Five. That's just where Danny belongs.

So, the brave new list, if I ever get the nerve to make it, would go

1. Donnie
2. Joe
3. Jordan
4. Danny
5. Jon

Can I make a new list? Can I? Seriously, I worry about this all the time. It's a good thing I'm not a 33-year-old college-educated wife and mother. Hmm.

Anyway, back to my tribute to Joe. This is the video of "Stay the Same" from when he briefly went solo in the '90s. The song is on the Greatest Hits album, but it's one of the ones that WCK claims hurts her feelings, so I can only listen to it when I'm by myself. Ninety-nine percent of my brain, the rational part, knows that this is probably the cheesiest, lamest song ever written. The other 1 percent, however, really wants to create a touching slide show using this song as background music and post it on YouTube. For the good of humanity, we cannot let that 1 percent win.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Would Ma and Pa Ingalls Do?

Our school district's Parents as Teachers program is holding screenings for three-to-five-year-olds, and WCK and I went to hers yesterday. The kids are supposed to go off with different teachers into different rooms, where the teachers conduct screenings on motor skills, language, and math, and then screen the kids' vision and hearing. WCK, of course, refused to separate from me, so I got to go along into each room. It was interesting to watch the testing process, even though I'd been looking forward to a free hour of reading, and WCK got points deducted from her score (yeah, the kids got scores) because she's a Mama's Girl. I'm pretty sure the question, "Is the child a Mama's Girl?" is right there on the official form for the teachers to check off. It will go on her permanent record.

I do mostly enjoy these screenings, because I like seeing what she's able to do, but I also get the feeling that my completely normal kid is being nitpicked. I'm going to go ahead and brag here and say that SHE ABSOLUTELY KICKED BUTT in the language room. Then we got to the motor skills room, and the teacher was dismayed when -- brace yourselves for this -- WCK could not twiddle her thumbs.

I know. I know. We need to look into a special educational program for her.

Actually, I have no idea if WCK really couldn't twiddle her thumbs, or if she was refusing to do it because she thought the idea was absurd. I can't say that I've ever asked her to twiddle her thumbs at home. The teacher looked at me sympathetically and reassured me that WCK would most likely twiddle her thumbs when she's ready. Apparently, thumb twiddling is not something you can teach.

When I have child-rearing moments like this, I always think, "What would Ma and Pa Ingalls do?" I'll explain.

The human race has thrived for thousands of years, and I am sure that, for the vast majority of our history, no one has ever cared about children's thumb twiddling. For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder never had fancy, developmental toys. She had a doll made from a corncob and a balloon made from a pig's bladder. When her parents were building log cabins from scratch and churning butter and fending off wolves and malaria and Scarlet Fever, did they ever turn to each other and say, "I don't want to tell you this, Caroline, but Half-Pint can't twiddle her thumbs!"

No. No they did not. And Laura Ingalls Wilder turned out just fine.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Carpet samples

Jay and I are thinking about getting new carpet for our house. Our current carpet is really old and, frankly, really yucky. I blame the previous owners of the house.

Nebraska Furniture Mart sent over a bunch of carpet samples yesterday in various shades of beige. I've been viewing them under different lighting conditions, holding them next to different pieces of furniture, taking them into different rooms, just trying to decide which shade of beige is the best one. Then I realized the best -- and most practical -- way to make this decision is to have Garland throw up on each sample so we can see which shade blends the best with cat vomit.

Really, I think I missed my calling as an interior designer.

Wow.

I just got this month's test results. An evil voice in the back of my head keeps saying there must have been some kind of a lab error. My M-spike is ...

1.1.

That's right. A tiny, piddly little 1.1.

Last month, it was 1.6. It has never, ever been lower than 1.5.

Wow.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Happy birthday, dear Garland

Today, WCK and I threw a birthday party for Garland, our cat. She turned 12. Technically, Garland's birthday is not until tomorrow. At least, that's what the humane society told me 12 years ago. Can you know when a cat's actual birthday is, really? Anyway, I'd promised WCK that we could have a birthday party for Garland, but today I saw in the newspaper that the weather is supposed to be really, really nice tomorrow. I decided I'd rather be at the park tomorrow instead of inside, celebrating a cat's birthday, so I lied to both WCK and Garland and told them the birthday was today. Neither one saw through my ruse. In fact, the birthday honoree didn't seem to be particularly aware that a party was going on. WCK was thrilled beyond belief.

We decorated a banner that says, "Happy Birthday, Garland!", hung up some balloons, and gave Garland a new toy that looks like a fish. Then WCK and I "baked" a "cake" just for the two of us. Yes. Have you seen these single-serving microwavable cakes? I think they are the greatest invention ever for a) three-year-olds who insist that they can bake a cake all by themselves, despite the fact that you'd never trust them with eggs and they run screaming from electric mixers and b) mothers who would rather not be home alone all day with the leftovers from a full-size cake. You simply add the cake mix and a little bit of of water to a little bowl and microwave it for a minute. You end up with a tiny little cake. It is by no means gourmet; in fact, it has sort of an E-Z-Bake Oven quality to it, but it is cake nonetheless. It comes with a pouch of frosting.

And, no, Garland was not allowed to eat the cake. She didn't care. She just wanted to go back to sleep.

It was a fun time. I might lie about it being Garland's birthday several times a year now, just so we can have the little cake.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I like the dinosaurs better

WCK has recently developed an interest in My Little Pony. This is unusual, because she usually doesn't care about "girly" toys. She mostly plays with dinosaurs, cars, trains, animals, things like that. She does have a dollhouse, but the dinosaurs live in it.

Last week, before I took her to the Demon Dental Appointment, I'd told her that we could go to Barnes and Noble afterward and pick out a book. I figure if you have to endure a stranger prying your jaw open, you should get some kind of reward, even if you do scream all the way through it. WCK picked out a My Little Pony book called "Pinky Pie's Spooky Dream", which is just the kind of high-quality children's literature you'd expect from that title.

I never really played with My Little Pony as a kid, so I'm just now learning about the whole series. From what I can tell, the ponies are a group of pastel-colored horses with Farrah Fawcett hairdos and stripper names who live in some kind of magical pony land. Their hobbies include baking cupcakes despite not having any thumbs, getting makeovers so that boys will like them, and cheating on math tests, because, of course, math is really hard for girls. Perhaps after dark they are indeed strippers; we haven't read that many of the books yet.

I gained most of this My Little Pony info from watching videos of the 1980s cartoon on YouTube. The first video we watched was about the ponies getting dates for a roller-skating dance contest. I didn't realize at first that some of the ponies in the pony land were boy ponies. I watched for the first several minutes in surprise and confusion, wondering why so many ponies in a Saturday-morning cartoon from the '80s were lesbians.

No, it turned out that some of the ponies were boys, and the girls were going to get makeovers to impress them. I liked the lesbian plotline a lot better, although I suppose it makes sense that some of the ponies have to be boys; otherwise, the whole My Little Pony race would die out, and that would be bad. In theory.

Monday, March 02, 2009

She could work for Entertainment Weekly

Yesterday, WCK and I were running errands while listening to The New Kids on the Block Greatest Hits CD, as we have done nearly every day for the past six months or so. Usually WCK loves this CD, but when the song "I'll Be Loving You Forever" came on, WCK spoke up.

"Mommy," she said, "I don't like this song. It hurts my feelings, and it makes me feel very angry."

Hmm. I think everyone who was working as a music critic in 1988 felt exactly the same way.

Hazy memory

WCK was jumping on the couch this morning.

"WCK," I said, "what did Daddy and I say to you when you were jumping on the couch yesterday?"

She thought for a moment before replying very seriously.

"I think you said, 'Please, please jump on the couch.'"