Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Science Fair '06 triumph!

Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

That's a first place ribbon and a trophy for outstanding project in the Life Sciences my little genius is holding there.

She must have gotten extra visits from the Brains Fairy or something.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

It's Saturday. It's raining. Gert is asleep, covered with an angry, itchy rash that is apparently a reaction to amoxicillin. Gary is napping (we were both up all night with an itchy child). Matilda is out ice skating with biodad. I, after the third unraveled attempt at a braided cable, have decided it's time for a milk and cookies break. And yes, that does make it better.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For the science fair this year, Matilda has grown little pots of grass.

(Yes, I said pot and grass in the same sentence. Those of you playing may now tip your shot glasses.)

They were supposed to be bean plants, but I have some kind of black karma attached to beans as science fair projects, which I'll explain in a moment. Matilda's experiment was designed to show the benefit of adding compost to regular topsoil, and thank everything that's holy, it worked. Science fair gives me nerves that make me want to throw up.

Sixth grade was one of the years that started in one city and ended up in another. It meant a new shade of plaid, uniform skirt, assessment tests that demonstrated how poorly I could add and subtract, and three short weeks to put together a science fair project at the new school.

Of course it was "optional" for me. In the sense that all graded work is optional. Ha Ha.

My dad determined that we would create the Best Darned Science Fair Project Ever by growing bean plants.

Two and a half weeks later, I remember my dad engineering a last-ditch growth effort with my little pots perched precariously atop a ladder in the garage with at least 400 kilowatts of merciless halogen light pointed directly at them. I think there were also many instances of the f-word.

I managed to get one sad little sprout that flinched from loud noises or quick movements.

"Clearly, it is nothing short of madness," I said in my conclusion, "to try and grow live plants while the earth is cold and dead."

"Isn't it time for remedial math?" replied my teacher

Matilda and I planted bean seeds over Christmas break. The seeds obviously lost their will to live as soon as I touched them. They burrowed deep into the soil and crumpled into moldy pits of rot and decay.

Luckily, there was enough time to try again with fast-growing grass seed, and since I do
not pretend to know what an independent variable is, Gary helped Matilda write up her results into a first-rate project.

I suggested naming it "The Effects of Compost on Grassy Little Miracles: Cha-cha-cha-Chia!"

That's all I've got.

Friday, January 20, 2006

There's a part of me that always looks forward to taking my kids to the pediatrician's office. Have you ever watched the AKC/Eukanuba Dog Championship broadcast?

No, I'm not comparing my healthy, well-bred, excellently behaved children to puppies. Not even championship pedigree puppies. Honest.

I was there with Gert this afternoon to get an ear infection checked out. An ear infection, as I'm sure you know, is in no way a reflection on my care of Gert or Gert's genetics, habits, or general health. It's simply something that kids of her breed – er – age are prone to.

I paraded my excellent little Gert up to the check-in desk and let them know we'd arrived. Then we promenaded back through the waiting room with all the eyes of other parents and children (most of whom were not quite so excellent) upon us. Gert pranced along beside me, smiling and silently exuding superiority.

"Who's a good girl!" I said, ruffling her hair and slipping her an M&M.

Usually, as the doctor enters the examination room, Gert perches on the table with a winning grin. She straightens her back and folds her hands primly in her lap. This is right about the time I can expect for something unfortunate to come out of charming little Gert's mouth.

"How are we doing today?" asks Dr. Jackie, whom Gert adores and idolizes.

"Know what?" says Gert.

"What?" says Dr. Jackie.

"I didn't wear fresh underwear today!"

It's as if Gert saves these juicy little tidbits especially for Dr. Jackie. As the examination progresses (and a double ear infection is confirmed,) Dr. Jackie is informed of the fact that I have boobies, and that I had refused to believe Gert when she complained about her ears hurting. I had once let her go to bed without brushing her teeth. And see this scratch on her cheek? Once, mommy had sprayed Benadryl on a cut instead of Bactine. And Benadryl specifically states that it should not be applied to broken skin. Isn't that right, Dr. Jackie?

"I think we're going to give you the bubblegum medicine for those ears," Dr. Jackie told Gert with a pat on the knee.

"Know what?" Gert said. "Last time I had that medicine, Mommy gave me M&Ms! In the morning!"

I hastily started gathering up our stuff. "Yes – well – tell Dr. Jackie thank you, honey!"

As we were leaving, I could have sworn I heard one of the nurses say to another, "Did you know that woman has boobies?"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Our big, bad clothes dryer is on the fritz, which meant I had no reason to feel inadequate about the backload of laundry just sitting there all weekend.

So what did I do with all that free time? I stared into space some. I started a new knitting project. That brings the total number of works-in-progress to eight (8!). Watched the kids play outside in the unseasonably nice weather and shouted at them repeatedly to stop pointing sharp sticks at each other. The neighbor boy came over with the neighbor dog to play, and Finnegan got to sniff more doggy behind than he has in quite some time.

But by far the most thrilling thing to happen all weekend, at least in the World According to Gert, was the phone call she got from her cousin Valerie.

Valerie is getting married in October. Valerie wanted to know if Gert would be the flower girl!

"Yes, please," answered Gert, all shyness and polite with both hands cradling the receiver. Then, with Valerie still on the line, she lowered the phone and looked at me and shouted, "MOM! COUSIN MALIDIE ASKED ME IF I WILL BE HER FLOWER GIRL! AND I SAID YES!"

She put the phone back to her ear. "Thank you," she said demurely. Then she handed the phone to Gary and started jumping up and down. She squealed and jumped down the hall and back. She bounced around the kitchen. She jumped through the living room.

"A flower girl! A flower girl! A flower girl!" she sang.

It was a day filled with glee and abandon.

The next day, the anxiety set in. I had to repeatedly reassure Gert of the following:
  • Valerie was not going to forget that she'd asked Gert to be her flower girl.
  • No, we hadn't missed the wedding.
  • No one would be mad at her if she made a mistake.
  • She wasn't going to trip. And it would be okay if she did trip.
  • No, I promised we hadn't missed the wedding yet.

Her only disappointment is that she'll have to share the spotlight with a ring bear. Bears are cute, after all. But they cannot be trusted with flower petals.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Did you know that after my wedding day, on which I wore a white, lacy, sequined, beaded, floofy wedding dress that I loved, I took off that dress and shoved it into a large, white trash bag?

Not immediately, or anything. Just after it had been hanging in my closet for five years and I wanted the closet space back. That's five years of staring at it every freaking morning, people. And feeling guilty that I hadn't yet bothered to have it professionally cleaned and preserved, which I guess is what you're supposed to do.

Did you know I would have had to pay in the neighborhood of $187 to have it cleaned?

Did you know I bought the dress on eBay from a wedding shop closeout for $200? I mean, come on. It's not like my daughters are going to wear it on their wedding day.


Recently Gertrude has discovered Our Wedding. She pores over the photo album. She wears Matilda's flower girl dress. She begs to try on my ring. Her eyes light up when she sees pictures of me in the wedding dress.

"Oh, Mom! You look so beautiful in this dress! I just love this dress. I'm going to wear that dress when I get married to Daddy."

Oh, did I forget to mention? She's entirely convinced she's going to marry her daddy. Not a man like her daddy. Him.

I knew the Daddy worship was strong in our house, but I didn't realize it was this strong.

"Sweetie, you can't marry your Dad."

"Yes, I can."

"But he's already married."

Gertrude thought for a moment and mused, "You can't be married to two people..."

"Not in these parts."

Gert had an ah-ha moment and held up her finger. "You will have to find a different man to marry."

"But…!" I protested.

"That's okay, Mommy," she said, with earnest sympathy. "I'm sure you will find someone."

Was that the sound of a wedding dress laughing at me from inside its little trash bag cocoon?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I know I tend to make things about me even when they're not (*cough* codependent *cough*), and I try to catch myself when I'm doing that, but here's one that really does seem to bleed the line.

When someone's going through a tough time, I'm a terrible listener.

I listen, yes. I truly empathize. Then it gets to the part where I want to fix everything. And I want to say Just the Right Thing. Instead, I just sit there and stare at you because I'm mentally composing the Right Thing to say that will make it all better. And then I'm rejecting each half-formed composition because it's not right. My hands sweat. My throat closes up. And I blurt out something like, "That really sucks!"

Sometimes "That really sucks!" works passably well. (Not so much if you're distraught over your broken Hoover.) But it feels woefully inadequate, which makes me want to try even harder to find something better to say, and need I tell you what a vicious cycle that is?

Instead, here's what I'm proposing. I'll offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for as long as you need it. Vent all your frustrations, whatever they may be. And then, rather than trying to fix the unfixable with words that never come out right, I'll match your problem to the perfect handknit item, which I will then knit it for you. Wouldn't a new pair of socks or a beer cozy go a long way toward improving anyone's outlook?

Please don't say no, because I'll have no response to that.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My department just had our first annual celebration of Festivus. There was the airing of grievances, followed by feats of strength, and suchlike.

I started jotting down several of my grievances, and found it rather cathartic. You should try it.

Lion Brand Yarn, you have disappointed me in the following ways:
  • Homespun. Home! Spun!
  • Not all knitters think Fun Fur is such tremendous fun.
  • 90 percent of the free patterns you offer are ponchos. There are only so many times you can spell out the directions for knitting a pocho. 1. Make a rectangle. 2. Seam it. The end!
  • There are way too many knots in a skein. You appear to be hastily tying broken strands back together again and hoping no one will notice. That's just not okay.
  • You discontinued Cotton Ease yet introduced about 500 new novelty yarns. Damn you.

[Insert Unnamed Marketing Manager Here], you have disappointed me in the following ways:
  • Five minutes before a brochure was supposed to go to print, you completely butchered every inch of copy and laughed it off as you handed it back to me saying, "Revise now, or revise later!" Eff you, you effing gap-toothed bastard. There's a black smudge where your soul ought to be.
  • And then a few days later you asked MY BOSS when you were going to see a new draft of copy. Because apparently I have nothing else occupying my time. How about... when I effing feel like getting around to it? Is that good enough for you, Satan?
  • Oh, and let's not forget how in the middle of the last sales meeting rush you insisted that I devote large and unnecessary chunks of my time to putting together a presentation that no one in the building actually wanted to go to. That was useful.

My skin, you have disappointed me in the following ways:
  • You broke out in times of stress, just when I needed you most.
  • As soon as the cold weather hit, you dried up like a cactus.
  • You did not heal on contact, as promised by the bottle of Lubriderm.
  • You remained pale and pasty eleven months out of the year, and the rest of the time you were red and blotchy.
  • Stretch marks. Necessary? I think not.

Monday, January 02, 2006

I cleaned my bathrooms for the new year, and then (in what I believe to be a direct correlation) a tornado warning swept through our neighborhood at 5 a.m.

Never again, I say. Mildew-free tubs are not worth the suffering of millions. I will not be held responsible. For all I know, vaccuuming my basement was what caused Hurricane Katrina.

I've never had to usher the kids downstairs in response to a siren in the middle of the night before. Poor drowsy Matilda dutifully wrapped herself in a blanket, shuffled down the steps into the yarn room, and then curled up on the floor. But little Gert was a different matter. She was already in our bed because of a bad dream. She already had expressed a fear of tornados. And fires, and monsters*, and the basement, and loud noises, and many other things. She sat wrapped in a blanket on my lap, literally trembling for the entire fifteen minutes we were downstairs. But considering that this little kid was being confonted with several of her biggest fears in the middle of the night, I was surprised at how calm she was. She just nuzzled up in the blanket and kept asking if there was a tornado. No, we told her, the sirens just mean there might be.

I really hope that's the most excitement we can expect from 2006. But at least now we know two things: it's fortunate that I'm married to a paranoid man, because I would have slept right through anything short of a tornado tapping on my window and asking to borrow a cup of sugar. And watching a 12-hour binge of the Twilight Zone is a surefire way to make anything that strange seem plausible.

*Sidenote: for Christmas, Gert's grandpa gave Gary a laser pointer (aka laser-guided monster destroyer) and that has greatly reduced the number of monsters.