Friday, November 27, 2009

I'll Ditto You!

Bill (smiling mischievously): "Come on Allyson, let's have some Pop Weaver!"

Me: "There's NOTHING wrong with that [generic] popcorn!"

Bill: "Let's have some Pop Weaver with some Diet Ditto [generic 7-Up]."

Me (with a swat to Bill's behind): "I'll Ditto you!!... And there's NOTHING wrong with that popcorn!"

FIVE MINUTES LATER

Allyson (speaking around a mouthful of Pop Weaver): "Here, Mama, have some popcorn."

Me: I'd love some Pop Weaver, baby. Man, that's yummy!

Now I just need to pour myself an ice cold glass of Diet Ditto.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Scissors Can Cut Hair

One night last week, I was complaining to my friend Brandy about Allyson's fascination with scissors. I told her how Allyson had cut holes in the bottom of a reusable grocery bag that morning with her little craft scissors.

"You know what she's going to do next, right?" Brandy asked. I nodded as she continued. "She's going to cut her hair. You'd better keep those scissors out of her reach."

"I know," I said. "It's just that there really isn't any place that's truly out of her reach any more. But you're right. I was about her age when I cut a chunk out of my hair. Or maybe I was four."

I told her the story. My mother had been so busy taking care of baby Emily that she hadn't even noticed until I announced proudly, "Scissors can cut hair." Turning around sharply, she spotted an inch-long tuft of hair to the left of my forehead.

The first thing she did was spank me, and I think (based on the picture below) the next thing she did was cut a matching piece on the other side of my forehead. I guess she couldn't give me bangs because they would have covered too wide of a section. As you can see, it didn't look so bad....

Me, Age Four

After I'd laughed over the story with Brandy, I resolved to find a way to lock up the scissors; what I needed was something like a gun case where I could lock up all Allyson's craft supplies and my scrapbooking papers, too. That would stop her from cutting my best sheets into tatters AND protect her hair (and various household objects). Or maybe I'd just get another plastic doorknob lock and stash it all in the downstairs bathroom closet.

Despite my best intentions, I didn't get a chance to follow through. Would you believe that Allyson cut her hair the very next day?

I was on the phone with her Auntie Lisa at the time. Early in the conversation, I let Allyson have the phone, just after I'd explained to Lisa about my daily slump at 3:00, when I often melt into sleep. Allyson told Lisa she wanted to go to the park, and I could hear Lisa's reply: "Is it almost 3:00? You'd better hurry before your mama falls asleep."

"Oh, she's not sleepin'," Allyson said. "She only sleeps when I'm not busy."

"Ain't that the truth," I thought ruefully. "And if she does let me sleep, it's only so she can get really busy while I'm not looking."

Example of Some 3:00 Mischief

I had no sooner reclaimed the phone than Allyson started begging to talk again. I moved from my bedroom to the TV room, then back to my room, then to my closet. Allyson finally tired of following me around and retired to her room.

When she shut the door, little alarm bells went off in my head, but I was too engrossed in laughing with Lisa to take action. About five minutes later, we hung up, and I opened Allyson's door with trepidation.

She gave me a crooked, rather guilty smile, her craft scissors half hidden behind her back. Several six-inch strands of golden, silky hair lay in a pile at her feet.

"Oh, Allyson!" I wailed, horribly disappointed and exasperated at the same time. That very morning, two people at MOPS had commented on Allyson's gorgeous hair. Now, I was berating myself for not locking up the scissors when I had the chance. Maybe this was my punishment for being vain about my daughter's hair.

I had the same initial reaction as my own mother had; I gave Allyson a couple of swats. She wept bitterly, but I think she was more upset about my disappointment than about the mild spanking.

"Now we'll have to cut your pretty hair," I said. I held out the shortest strand, my fingers just grazing her shoulder. "This is how short it will be," I said.

Allyson was sobbing so hard she could barely speak. "I don't w-want to c-cut my hair!"

I took her to my room and pulled her into my lap on the rocking chair where I'd spent hours nursing her just a couple of years ago. She buried her face in my shoulder, and I held her close and stroked her hair. "It's going to be okay," I promised. "You'll always be beautiful. And your hair will grow back." Still she cried.

She cried all the way to the kids' hair salon where she'd had her first trim a few months back. When we got out of the car, her little body heaved one last quavering sigh, and then she put on a brave face.

As I was signing her in, one of the stylists gave Allyson a welcoming smile. "Do you need a haircut?" she asked brightly. Allyson broke into fresh tears, and the lady looked at me quizzically.

"She just gave herself a haircut," I explained. "We need you to fix it. Don't cry, sweetie," I pleaded. "It's going to be okay."

The stylist asked if she wanted to sit in the firetruck chair and watch a princess video, and a hint of a smile curved Allyson's lips when she nodded.

"Okay, let's see what we've got here." The top of Allyson's hair was still held back with an elastic band, so I took it down and smoothed her hair with my fingers.

"That's not so bad," the stylist said. "It's covered up now." Then Allyson moved her head to see the screen better, and the top hair swung to the side. "But you can definitely see it."

We talked it over and decided bangs and tapered sides would be the best way to camouflage the damage. "Would you like bangs?" she asked. Allyson stared at her blankly until she gestured to her own bangs, and then Allyson brightened.

A few minutes later, my little three-year-old looked like a young lady. I couldn't believe the transformation. "Oh, honey, you look beautiful!" I exclaimed. Allyson beamed.

Allyson's First Haircut (A Happier Occasion)

On the way home, Allyson had a sudden realization. "Now I have bangs like Olivia!" she announced. "Not Olivia the pig, Olivia my friend," she clarified. (Olivia the pig is featured in both a favorite TV program and a favorite library book.) "I wonder if Olivia got her bangs at the barber, too."

Since then, Allyson has told her story to everyone we've seen, always with a flourish of her gracefully tapered hair. "I cut my hair with scissors, and then we had to go to the barber and get some bangs," she explains.

I hope the joy of the bangs does not outweigh the memory of the initial horror. Maybe I'd better go buy that gun case.

Allyson's New 'Do

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Never Too Soon to Think About Wrinkles

Tonight while Bill and I were working on dishes, he got worried because it was a little quiet upstairs. He hollered, "Allyson, what are you doing up there?"

"Nuffin!" she called back.

"Why don't you come down here with me and Mama?"

"Not now!" she replied. "I'm waitin' to see what's under the eye."

"Huh?" Bill asked.

"It's a eye on TV. I want to see what's under it," she explained.

"I think she's watching Discovery," Bill surmised.

"How cute!" I said as I scraped the last bit of crusty refried beans into a Gladware container.

Technically, Allyson is only allowed to watch about 30 minutes of her preschool channel at bedtime, but we certainly didn't want to stand in the way of her education. So we left her alone while we worked on the kitchen.

Bill was washing the last two pots when I headed upstairs to check on Allyson. I was flabbergasted when I saw what she was actually watching. "You're not going to believe what Allyson's watching," I yelled.

"What?"

"It's an infomercial! For wrinkle cream!"

"That's bizarre," he said.

"Yes," I agreed, just as I realized that I, too, was now enthralled. (I have to admit that I have a weakness for informercials; generally I try to avoid them like an alcoholic steers clear of bars.)

We sat side by side on the couch and watched the same trick over and over again: each model smoothed a pea-sized drop of the Youthology wrinkle cream under one eye, and we watched the wrinkles disappear via time-lapse photography. After only 90 seconds, their smile lines, bags, and shadows were virtually eliminated. It was positively mesmerizing, but I felt a little sorry for the poor folks; now their untreated eyes looked pathetic in comparison. One of the girls was my age, or maybe younger, and I'd thought she looked perfectly fine until I saw how much better she looked with the Youthology cream.

Not One Wrinkle

"I've got to have this stuff," I thought, especially when I found out it had been marked down from $118 to just $39 for a 30-day supply--AND it was only available through this TV offer. I was tempted to go right to their website, but then I remembered the time I tried ProActiv solution after watching an infomercial. Instead of clearing up my pimples, it gave me a horrible case of hives that only went away after all my skin peeled off. "Step away from the television," I urged myself.

Just then, Bill came up to take Allyson for her bath. "Please," she wheedled, "I want to watch some more. It's a good, good show!"

"Honey, it's a commercial," Bill explained kindly. "It's time for your bath." We both tore ourselves away.

Obviously, she's inherited my weakness. I just had no idea how soon it would take effect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank God for Hockey

Here, finally, is another chapter in my love story with Bill....

After the dubious welcome of September 11th, Bill's new life in America got off to a rather rough start. We were thrilled to be together, of course, but that didn't erase his loneliness. He'd left all of his friends, his coworkers, his hockey team, and his close-knit family behind. Here, he had... me.

He lived in a small, dark apartment about 40 miles from my house. This was what we'd planned; we wanted to avoid becoming enmeshed in each others' lives too quickly. It seemed like a good plan, but the reality was that on most days, the TV was his only company. He had a couple of friends at work, but unlike Bill, they had busy lives.

I could tell that he was depressed, though he wouldn't admit it. In Bill's mind, expressing his unhappiness equated to questioning his decision, and he hates second guessing himself. The more I asked how he was feeling, the more withdrawn he became.

I'd like to say I was a comfort to him, but the opposite was true. I was used to being treated like a princess once a month, but now I saw him every day at work, and mostly all he did was mope. My insecurities engulfed me, and we were both miserable. I continually complained about his lack of affection, questioned his love for me, and wondered aloud whether we'd made the wrong decision--which made him angry. I'd dissolve into tears, and then, pushing past his own mood, he'd pat my back helplessly. This went on for a month or so.

A Happy Coincidence?
Just as I was beginning to doubt we would make it, something wonderful happened. Maybe it was a divine appointment. Ethan and I had spent Sunday afternoon with Bill, who seemed exceptionally blue during dinner. It was hard to leave him, but I knew we had to be up early in the morning. I drove home with a heavy heart, scarcely hearing Ethan's happy chatter.

At home, I was surprised to find a message from Bill on my answering machine--it had been less than an hour since I'd talked to him. When I called back, he was positively breathless with excitement.

After I'd left, Bill walked over to the outside roller hockey rink at the recreation center. Planning to skate around a bit, he ended up joining a pick-up game instead. But that was only the good news. The great news was that these guys were forming a roller hockey team, and they wanted him to join! He couldn't believe he'd arrived just in time to catch their practice.

My own smile must have matched his own. Relief washed over me as I listened to the story; this was the old Bill, the one I fell in love with.

In no time, they were practicing a couple times a week and playing games regularly. They played in the old Big Wheel skating rink where I'd spent a few Friday nights in the 80s. Other than the plastic floor tiles that had replaced the gleaming wooden rink, the Plexiglass walls, and the metal risers, the building was just as I remembered it. I might have been caught up in memories of couple skating to Journey--okay, of longing for some boy to ask me to skate--had it not been for the smell. I've encountered that odor in only three places, and all three were roller hockey rinks. It's like... the inside of a sweaty gym sock. No matter how many games I attended, I was shocked at the stench that assaulted my nostrils, yet somehow it always dissipated during the suspense of the game.

Ethan and I attended nearly every game, and I was ALMOST Bill's biggest fan. (Ethan was more interested in running around with the other boys and sometimes throwing bottle caps onto the ice.) I remember sitting on the risers during the first game, bursting with pride when I heard some of the other spectators whispering, "That's Bill. He's from Canada! Isn't he great?"

True to stereotype, Bill really was a star. In truth, he'd only been playing a couple of years, but that was two years longer than the rest of them. Some of them could barely skate, at least at first. The goalie's mom was Bill's biggest fan, mainly because she was better at following the game than I was. She shouted Bill's name almost as often as her son Gentry's. Her favorite phrase was "That's-the-way, Bill! That's-the-way!" On the rare occasions when Bill got a penalty, she echoed my own thoughts: "No, no! Not Bill! No way." She was quite a tiny lady, but you'd never guess it when the Blazers scored a goal.

Like Pearls Before Swine
I was pretty loud myself. I leaned forward in my seat when Bill approached the goal, and when he scored, I leaped to my feet and screamed myself hoarse. I was trying to make up for my egregious lack of attention during the one disastrous game I'd watched him play up in Vancouver in 2000.
Bill At Start of Disastrous Game

On that team, Bill was probably only average, but he definitely had an above-average game that night. Knowing I was up in the stands spurred him on to one goal and a couple of assists. Fortunately, he didn't realize that I had no idea what was going on. I'd never watched hockey before, not even on TV, and I just couldn't follow the constant action; instead, I was deep in conversation with one of his teammates' girlfriends, a very personable girl named Tanya.

In the last minutes of the game, they were winning by several points, but Bill pushed for one more goal in my honor. As he rounded the back of the goal, he caught his skate on the post and wrenched his ankle. A sudden silence caught my attention, and I stopped speaking in mid sentence. "Who's that on the ice?" Tanya asked tensely.

"Someone's hurt?" I asked.

"That's Bill!" another girl said. My heart seemed to stop beating as I strained to see his limp form. I breathed a sigh of relief a moment later when two of his friends helped him up and off the ice. But his face was gray when he emerged from the locker room several minutes later.

As he limped to the car, I had to ask what had happened, and then I had to admit that I hadn't seen any of the goals. He was in too much pain to care. He said it was probably a bad sprain, but he insisted he'd be fine, and he also insisted that he could drive the two hours to the Seattle airport the next morning.

He did manage to make the drive, but I felt so bad for him--especially when we learned that he'd broken his tibia. Man, is he tough!



A Chance to Redeem Myself
Thanks in part to his teammates' slow skating, I did learn to follow hockey fairly well after Bill moved to Texas. I watched the Blazers claw their way to the top, winning the league championship in just their second season. I watched them transition to ice hockey, which was much more difficult, and I watched them move from the top of the I-league to the bottom of the D-league. Over the years, old players left and new ones took their place, and the name changed a couple of times, but Bill was always at the heart of the team.

Bill (Right) With Best Friends Troy and Ben--Circa 2007

Now, unfortunately, I don't get to watch much at all. Most of the games are very late, way too late for Allyson. But every now and then they have an early game, and Allyson gets to cheer for her daddy. SHE'S now his biggest fan. "Go-Daddy-go-Daddy-go!" she hollers. When he scores--and also when he doesn't--she shouts, "That's my daddy! Number 2-2!" Nothing makes her happier than when he skates up to the glass and gives her a wave.

They're already making plans for her future hockey career. She's even picked her jersey number: 8. Somehow we'll have to squeeze in those practices and games with her ballet lessons and recitals, not to mention the soccer. (She desperately wants to do all these things.) I wonder which sport she'll actually choose?

I guess hockey will be part of our life for a long, long time, and that's fine with me. If it weren't for hockey, Bill just might have gone back to Canada. I guess I'll never know, but either way, I love to see his passion for the game. Thank God for hockey!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Elizabeth Esther started this blog carnival where bloggers gather on the first Saturday of each month to share their latest and greatest blog posts. This month we're featuring posts from October 2009!

My favorite blog post this month She Has Her Mother's Hands...And Our Father's Smile. I think this story demonstrates the simple ways God shows His love for us.

If you'd like to share one of your favorite blog posts from October, here's how:

  1. Pick one of YOUR posts from the past month and insert a link to it in The Mister Linky form on Elizabeth Esther's blog . (Remember to provide a direct link to your specific post, not your home page).
  2. Compose a new post at your site encouraging your readers to come check out the other great submissions and maybe explaining why you chose to highlight a particular post.
Check out the other posts here. This is a fun way to discover some great blogs!

A Few Garden Stories

Here are a few stories about our now defunct garden. I've been saving them up....

Is That a STRAWBERRY?
As you may recall, our garden has been plagued with thieves and vandals, both known and unknown. There was the time we found Lola contentedly munching a green tomato that had mysteriously fallen from its hanging basket. Then there was the time I caught Allyson picking a Roma tomato from the corner garden. And when some of the tomatoes finally did manage to reach maturity, we were dismayed that tiny beak holes had marred their crimson beauty.

Never in all that time did we dream that we'd find some EXTRA produce in our yard one Saturday morning! Around a bite of blueberry chocolate chip pancake, Ethan said, "Hey, what's that on the porch? It looks like... a strawberry!"


We all rushed out onto the porch and found that it was indeed a perfect, plump strawberry. But where could it possibly have come from? Allyson had a theory. She said a bird must have dropped it. I figured it might have been one of our little tomato thieves bringing a peace offering.


Oddly enough, Lola, the dog who literally eats rocks, disdained to eat it. She put her lips around it and tested it with her pink tongue, but instead of devouring it as I expected, she rolled it gently around the porch with her nose. Occasionally she'd give it another taste, but she never did eat it. Funny dog!

Who Ate all the Parsley?
A week or so later, on a weekday morning, I was lethargically eating oatmeal when Bill called me and Ethan out to the porch. The first thing he said was, "Look at your parsley."

I surveyed the hanging basket with bleary eyes, then did a double take when I realized the parsley was GONE! Not a leaf remained, just pathetically shorn stalks.


"What happened?" I shrieked.

Bill held out his hand, upon which rested the largest caterpillar I'd ever seen.


He offered to let me hold it, but I grimaced and shuddered violently. So he set it in the bushes to grow into a butterfly... so that it could lay its eggs in my herbs some day.

The Rotter Drawer Strikes Again
The two green bell pepper plants yielded just one perfect specimen. It was plump and unblemished, and I couldn't wait to taste its crisp juiciness, fresh off the vine.


However, I couldn't immediately think of a recipe that called for bell pepper, and I don't like them well enough to eat them alone. So I put it in the fridge, where it suffered the fate of many other vegetables before it. When we thought of it a couple of weeks later, its limp form had been ravaged by mold.

One Glorious Success
The one crop that flourished was Ethan's banana peppers. The plants blossomed several times, and the peppers were large and waxy and smooth.


There was only one problem: no one would eat them. Ethan, the only one who allegedly likes banana peppers, apparently only likes the ones they serve at Subway. The first time we harvested some peppers, he eagerly cut one up, but then he just took one tiny bite and spit it in the trash.

We figured he might like them better if they were pickled. Bill said all we needed to do was put them in a jar of pickle juice. I was pretty skeptical, but I allowed myself to be swayed by Bill's total confidence. (He seems to be a storehouse of obscure knowledge, and even if he doesn't know something, he can usually make up a very plausible explanation.) We waited a few weeks, and then Ethan got ready to try them again. This time, all he did was look at the pale, limp pepper and wrinkle up his nose.

The last six peppers were too beautiful to waste. I looked up a recipe on the Internet and pickled them myself. I boiled them in straight vinegar with onions, garlic, and a variety of spices. Then I put them in an old pickle jar, closed it, and boiled the jar until the top sealed. My kitchen positively reeked, but the pickled peppers at last resembled the ones you find in the grocery store.

A day or two later, Ethan worked up the courage to try them. He gingerly touched his tongue to a pepper and said, "Ewww." So much for the theory that kids love to eat the vegetables that they plant themselves. Now the jar is sitting on the top shelf of the refrigerator, waiting for some banana pepper lover to visit.

Oh well, even though we didn't actually eat too many of our vegetables, we sure had a lot of fun with The Family Garden. We definitely plan to do it again. And I'm sure you'll hear about it when we do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fumbelina: The Greatest Fairy in the World

I can't believe Halloween is already over! It seems like only yesterday that I posted last year's Halloween entry. This year was even more fun because Allyson was anticipating it so eagerly.

She began rehearsing for Halloween a few weeks before the big event. She assembled her own costumes by combining various pieces from her princess treasure trunk. For example, there was this country Super Girl princess bank robber costume, complete with Cinderella pumps:

She also designed costumes for me, but the only things that fit were the sleeping mask and the flower headband.

I thought I was supposed to be the Masked Flower Bandit, but she said I was Sleeping Daisy. I guess she knows that you wear the mask for sleeping. I was wearing this costume at the same time that she was wearing her Super Girl ensemble, and both of us had to walk around her room in our blindfolds. I stepped gingerly, bracing myself for the hard little toys that often litter her floor, but both of us actually escaped injury.

A few days later, she dressed as a Daisy Ballerina, and she tried out her best ballet steps. Isn't she graceful?


Then again, maybe not so much. We really need to get her into some lessons.


A couple of days before Halloween, we went to TWO pumpkin patches. Allyson and I met our MOPS group for a play date that morning. We rode a train, stomped through a muddy hay bale maze that smelled like manure, and suffered through a picnic lunch in the icy breeze. Still, Allyson and the other kids all managed to have a great time.




That evening the whole family went to another pumpkin patch around the corner. It was hard to tear Ethan and Allyson away from the giant slide long enough to pick out the pumpkins.


While I was still working on dishes, Bill succumbed to the kids' begging and started cleaning the pumpkins. Ethan carved his own pumpkin this year, with only a little help from Bill! Allyson drew the face for hers, and Daddy did the carving. Bill carved a third pumpkin for a contest at work. I never knew he was so talented! (If you can't tell by looking, he made a tree, a cross, and tombstone.)

Ethan's, Allyson's, Bill's

When Halloween finally arrived, Allyson spent the entire day asking, "When do we go trick-or-treating? Is it time yet? Is it time now?" Clad in her Thumbelina costume and purple nail polish, she just couldn't contain her excitement. I thought maybe Bill had given her a few Halloween candies, but he said it was just her natural enthusiasm.



Ethan went to his dad's for Halloween. He wore a skeleton costume, but I don't have a picture.

We went out with our friends Brandy and Rodney, and their daughter Eniya--the most adorable little bee I've ever seen.




Allyson thoroughly enjoyed the trick-or-treating, especially the slight thrill of fear. Our first stop was at Ethan's friend Makayla's house. When Allyson rang the doorbell, a face hanging on the door started talking in a spooky voice, and she jumped back, though she made sure to wait around for her candy. After that, she wanted me to ring all the doorbells just in case.

She complimented the other kids' costumes along the way, and she was so proud when others admired her costume. "I'm Fumbelina, the greatest fairy in the world!" she announced proudly.

She had almost as much fun handing out candy back at home. The most fun, of course, was EATING the candy. Thanks mainly to Ethan, the candy is all but gone now. Just like Halloween.


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