Saturday, March 31, 2007

spring break 07

i can say in all honesty, with not that much exaggeration, that our trip to florida this year was a life-changing experience. no, really.

but i'll get to that later. first, we dig:

okay, so that last one was plant-watering, not digging. but it's still yard work. and there had been digging, right before the watering, but i didn't get to the camera in time. if you're keeping score at home, that's 7 out of 14 days that there was digging. thankfully he was fine with nana as his digging partner....

we did manage to leave the yard a few days. one day we went back to the local playground, which still has this sign, which i've mentioned before:

plus a new one!

at the playground! and i don't think they're talking about squirrels, people. we didn't see any creatures, but still. i know there's some wacky wildlife down here in southern florida, but you really can't locate the playground somewhere that alligator warning signs wouldn't be necessary?

anyway, we tried to ignore the possibility of impending doom and concentrated instead on the certainty of impending nausea:

man, i shudder just looking at that thing. i still remember feeling dizzy and wrong for the rest of the day afer taking wile down it last year. but he's a big boy now! he can go down it himself!

yay! except that he wants me to go down after him, to share in the joy! not yay! i managed to limit my involvement to one slide down. nana may have had to go down twice. as it should be.

we also made it to a few baseball games. wile was way into it, but possibly even more fun than seeing jose and david wright and paul lo duca, the catcher, in his endlessly fascinating "gear" was the wiffleball game that they had set up for the kids on the walkway into the stadium. the bat was definitely taller than wile. but he rocked it, of course.

that's a sure double. totally. thankfully there weren't any other kids who wanted to play, and the 14-year-old running the booth was amused rather than annoyed with wile, so he got to take some really long turns, much to the amusement of all the people heading up the walkway, who were literally taking bets as to whether this tiny little thing was going to be able to get any hits with the him-sized bat. they didn't know who they were dealing with....

and at the last game we went to, with dada, things got even more exciting. there was a first-ever ballpark frank....

and the thing that wile had been asking for all through the other two games came to pass: jose signed his ball.

i still can't believe it. this sets the bar just a little bit high for the rest of his baseball-viewing career. oh, you want the most popular player on the team to sign your ball? the young, cute all-star, whose autograph everyone wants? sure, no problem. here you go!

we also drove up to casselbury for a visit with uncle nate:

and, of course, when you hang with uncle nate, this is how your day ends:

not. surprising. not even one litle bit.

alright, you say, sounds like a fun trip, but what was life-changing?

first: my mother has an electric stovetop. and....i liked it. this is after decades of bad-mouthing the electric stove. (yes, decades—i've been a cook since i was 12, and a critic since i was born.) but my experience has been with those nasty exposed-metal-coil monsters. the nana has one of those snazzy glass-top numbers, and it is really f-ing awesome to cook on. the heat is so even. all the pancakes cook at exactly the same rate! and it's consistent—every time you set it to 5, it's the same heat. unlike my gas stove, where i'm forever fiddling around with the knob, trying to find the exact spot around the 2 on the dial that will give me the same "2" heat that i had the last time i used it..... and the cleaning. the cleaning! it's a smooth, continuous glass surface! i know i sound like a total geek, but man. changed my whole perspective on things.....

second: my mother watches american idol. so i watched with her. and....i liked it. i take back everything bad i've ever said about it. that is some seriously entertaining shit right there. i'm in for the long haul now. go melinda and jordin! woo!

third: i'd been noticing for a while before we left for florida that wile's hair was looking a can i put this....forty-year-old alcoholic beach bum. when we got down to the sunshine state and the humidity put the curl back in to wile's hair, it became even more apparent that there was a problem:

you couldn't quite call it a mullet, but it was just as bad. there was this lovely hair—shiny, bouncy, silky ringlets—being suffocated by a layer of stringy, fried, frizzled mess. and so, the die was cast. the scissors were fetched. the hair: was cut.

wile seems happy with the result:

as stephen says, he looks like less of a wildman now. true. but instead, he looks kinda like a 14-year-old skater boy growing out his hair. can't argue with that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

fear and loathing in port st. lucie

(here in florida, when you have no internet connection in your (mom's) house, there are no open wireless connections to hop on to. you have to come to barnes & noble and pay $4 for 2 hours, 1 of which you won't even use because you have to get the child home for early bedtime so that he's asleep before 24 starts. more vacation reports to come when i find somewhere with free wifi!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

there's a litle bit of bobby in all of us

i feel it's time i told you all about bobby:

bobby lives way far down that block with his mama and dada.

bobby will never come to wile's house.

where bobby? bobby is in mama, in dada, in wile.

bobby has two cats.

their names are soap and sprayer.*

this is a song about bobby:

doo doo doo doo doo
bobby not share
his toys with wile
he say no
he just play with them
dig in the yaaaaaaard

(*we initially thought that wile said "slayer" which would have of course been pretty impossible because i don't think he's ever heard the word "slayer", but regardless of what was actually said, "slayer" and "soap" are so the names of our next cats.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

btietw: queens edition

so, the inevitable has come to pass: the previa, she is no more. sometime last week, the alternator stopped....alternating? see, i almost sounded like i knew what i was talking about for a second there, and then the truth came shining through. anyway, the car done wouldn't start. every time stephen had to move it for alternate side parking, he had to use my dad's christmas gift. oh, and the inspection was about to be up. so when the weekend rolled around, i let any hope of getting some non-wile time go, and focused instead on finding an activity that would get us out of the house. we hit on this plan: wile and i would go to the queens zoo (pumas!) while stephen tried to find somewhere to try to answer the question: will a car that won't start independently pass inspection? and possibly test-drive some cars.

we were the only people at the zoo, since it was f-ing freezing out, but wile loved it. on the way there he kept saying he wanted to see "lions and hoshies", and i kept trying to prepare him for a letdown. but as we pulled up to the zoo, there were some big old hoshies, out in the paddock. hot damn. the hoshies were in the "farm" end of the zoo, along with really amazing hairy steer:

and the biggest white mutant rabbits i've ever seen. they might have had big fangs, i didn't get close enough to see.

over on the non-farm side of the zoo, there were a buttload of birds, hibernating bears (aka fuzzy rocks), an m.i.a. lynx, coyotes howling at a passing firetruck, and pumas who wanted to eat wile. i swear. we went down to their area and checked them out, they were walking around, everything was cool, wile liked them. then as we were walking away, i sensed a movement behind me, turned around, and saw that one of the pumas had come right up to the glass and had a bead on wile. she was watching him like he was a tenderloin with legs. the look on her face was kinda like the one on the puma on the left in this pic:

in.tent. her head followed wile's every move. i hustled us over to the aviary to see the nice birdies.

stephen returned from his errands (answer to the question: no, a car that needs outside help to start will not pass inspection, and so must be taken off the street and put out to pasture in stephen's parents' driveway....), saw a few animals with us, and we jump-started our way back on to the road. on the way in to the zoo, we had passed a couple of empanada places—one was more crowded, but looked less interesting. so we went to the less-crowded one, empanandas del parque, which i just had a feeling about.

apparently my radar was working. the menu was nothing but empanadas, your choice of corn, organic whole grain, or flour shell. corn seemed to be the right choice. i put together a meat sampler: beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish.

the shrimp was my favorite, with little rock shrimp that popped like caviar in the potato filling. the pork was a close second runner-up, the beef was good but too salty. the fish was the weakest, bland. they came with this fantastic housemade hot sauce that wasn't too hot, all garlic and scallions and cilantro and vinegar. delicious. and they cater with mini empanadas, hello wile's 3rd birthday party menu! i also see a sack of empanadas picked up on the way to shea in my future sometime this summer....

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

and don't get me started on elmo....

dear people who write children's books (that would be "children's book authors", huh? leave me alone, i'm tired),

hi. listen, can you do me a favor? can you stop making books about obnoxious little animals/people who i want to smack upside the head? seriously. cause otherwise your books are going to get hidden away way back behind the extra towels on the shelf in my closet until wile learns to read and can enjoy your stories without me.

you want examples? okay, how about olivia. little pig, big ears, spoiled brat. why is this book so popular? it's not funny! it's not entertaining! why do i want to read about some ugly little pig yelling and kvetching and bossing? especially since olivia's parents give in to her whims and seem to condone her totally crappy behavior! why in the hell would anyone think that i would want to give voice to dialogue like this:

wile is getting quite proficient at the yelling, he really doesn't need any encouragement.... so, okay, olivia freaks the hell out over the missing toy, berates and apparently scares the bejeezus out of her little brother, yells at everything that moves, and then when she finds the toy, slightly mangled from the dog chewing on it, and has another screaming fit, her dad says "oh, don't worry honey, we'll get you an even better toy tomorrow", at which point she turns around and is all "oh i love you you're the best daddy ever." i....i'm at a loss. honestly.

and then there's this one:

so duck and goose spend the whole book fighting over this ball that they think is an egg, yelling at each other and being mean to each other. they finally come to a sort of unspoken truce—at least, they stop yelling at each other—only to turn around and act like a couple of little turds to this poor blue bird who comes to talk to them, trying to get their attention by kicking the ball (egg):

it's just so.....unpleasant. and do they ever apologize to the poor litle blue bird who's head they ripped off? nope! she apologizes to them for bothering them! and then they run off and play with the ball—without her. lovely.

i'm certainly not saying that all children's book characters should be perfect little models of decorum. some of our favorite books are about characters who are definitely troublemakers.

like everyone's favorite, good night gorilla.

he steals the keys, he lets all the animals loose, he follows the zookeeper home, and when he's discovered and sent back to his cage? not only is he unrepentant, he sneaks right back out again and back into bed with the zookeeper and his wife! but he never verbally abuses any of the other characters. i never have to give voice to him putting anybody down or flying off the handle. he's mischevious, but he's not a jerk.

and then there's the awesome (and amazingly illustrated) book that dexter's mom gave wile, 17 things i' not allowed to do anymore. this girl is definitely hell on wheels.'s funny! (i mean really, beavers? hysterical.) and none of the things she does—doing a history report on beavers instead of george washington, walking backwards to school, showing her classmate her underwear—are mean-spirited, they're all just kinda kooky and creative and limit-testing. okay, so she staples her brother's hair to his pillow. but i can see the thought process behind that: will it really work? can staples hold hair, or would the hair just slip out? and her mom is there throughout the book, obviously telling her she's not allowed to do this stuff anymore, and getting more and more frazzled as the book goes on, which is nice to see.

but in the end, the girl is unrepentent and definitely on the path to more mischeif, and that's fine by me. look, i'm not asking for morals. i don't need for wile to learn a lesson from his picture books. and believe me, the overly-earnest books, where everyone literally or figuratively has a group hug at the end, squick me out even more.

i just want some characters who i don't mind spending time with. i have to personify these little animals. give me something better to work with than screeching pigs and huffy ducks.

go to it!