Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Foot Of Snow

Who knew that when we would wake up yesterday morning we would see all this snow?

We woke up to about 8" of it! Schools were cancelled and we sat in the playroom watching another 4" fall before lunch.

The girls were of course dying to go play in all the glorious white stuff.

The backyard was covered, top to bottom.

Livi made sure she was styled appropriately. There would be no shade of pink under represented.

Why is it that people under the age of about 12 years old do not seem to feel the immense cold that is associated with rolling around in a foot of snow while the air temperature hovers around 14 degrees?

They cold have played all day and all I could muster was that my ankles were wet and freezing! I only lasted 45 minutes.

I think Liv is pondering how long it will take before hypothermia will settle in under those snowy mitts. Chloe tore through the backyard as if she hadn't been out of the crate in 3 months. I honestly don't know whether she realized her face was covered until it melted off on my couch.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Party Weekend

I think it hit me about 2 hours before Ava's 7th birthday party that I had accepted RSVPs from 14 little girls plus 2 of my own bringing the grand total to 16 little girls here at my house in the middle of January (we live in the mid-west and a January party outside is out of the question). Sixteen little girls all painting in my kitchen and playroom. I needed xanax...I've never actually had a xanax but I'm sure if I ever really needed one it would have been at that moment 2 hours before the party. I started having flashbacks of Ava's 5 year old birthday party where no one would dance! It was a dance party, imagine my distress. To calm myself I popped a handful of pinata candy and did a little self talk, how bad could 2 hours possibly be?

All that fretting. And for not. It was fun. Yeah, I swear it was fun. I know there are many of you who are giving me the hairy eyeball right now and saying "Right, this is some wacko uber helicopter mom who volunteers 16 times a week at the school, makes sure the kids eat 18 servings of veggies a day and speaks in a kind voice ALL the time like that weirdo mom with 18 kids on tv who never loses her cool. Nope, I swear it's just me, Perrin, and I didn't sell any girl scout cookies this year, not one damn cookie. Then I had to make the cookie walk of shame to the cookie mom, who somewhat passively aggressively told me that Ava would not technically be counted in the final counts so that her lack of numbers would not affect all the hard working kids in the troop. (Oh honey, it will take a little more that that to offend me sugar.)

Here is little miss immediately after swiping her finger across the bottom of the cake to get a finger full of icing. Due to not having any of that aformentioned xanax, I yelled.

She doesn't look as if she carrying the brunt of emotional scaring yet does she?

Here is a part of the posse painting their paper mache letters. They look so serious.

Probably the best moment of the whole day happened when Ava's friend's "other mother", who used to be her father, but after a good bit of surgical intervention is now the daddie'um'sort'of announced that she would like to stay to watch the party. Oh, ok then...they are 7. If you stay you help. To which she readily agreed and was a huge help supervising painting and dishing out cake and ice cream with my other 2 girl friends whom I had previously wrangled into helping with the party. We had to slap our friend who accidently played "If I were a boy", by Beyonce on the stereo during the party. You might think this quite hilarious. I would too if I hadn't been in charge of 16 little girls at the time. Did I mention 16?

Ahh, these are the things of memories.

I shall leave you with Ava's beloved Pixos...her absolutely favorite prize of the day. Kept her busy for 2 solid hours after the party. If you don't have them run right out and get them.
Pixos rock.

How will we ever top a painting with Beyonce party supervised by none other than the transgender community? Who says the midwest is boring.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Auto Gods on My Side

Update to Yesterday's Post:

1. The Muffin Man is a god, pure and simple. See, there is an upside to NOT marrying the metrosexual emotionally in touch type of man, who knows nothing of making cornices from scratch and fixing old cars. I love my cave man. The fuel injection stuff he bought and dumped into the car worked! Started up this morning like a charm. I'll surely be driving my 1999 black heap of beauty with the dented front bumper for another 5 years.

2. In an odd twist of good luck the seemingly broken ice maker miraculously started working again after I defrosted the thing and shook the motor around a bit. Yipee Skipee.

3. My very old and dear friend from way back in middle school was able to adopt a little boy domestically in December. We got the birth announcement today. I cried. Can't wait to send something blue.

Gees, perhaps I should go buy a lottery ticket. Hope my luck holds out. Tomorrow is (insert music of doom) Ava's 7th birthday party. No less than 14 children have RSVP's yes. Tack on my 2 and that my friends, is a houseful. The Muffin Man is certain someone will take the paint we are providing for crafty purposes and use it on the walls. To which I replied, "How is that different that what we deal with around here on a daily basis?" Yeah, he nodded pointing to the coffee maker that Liv almost totaled last night as she snuck away and tried to "make coffee" on her own. Just for insurance purposes though, you'll be happy to know I did not purchase the glitter I had in my hand at the craft store.

Hey, why overtly tempt the gods right?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vehicular Irony

Last month the Muffin Man and I sunk some serious cash into my beloved yet antique 10 year old Dodge Durango to have its falling apart transmission rebuilt. There was a day in our not so distant history that we would have opted for something shinier and newer, with a long warranty. The Muffin Man loves to shop for cars. You know how some people think of this task somewhere right up there with having their toe nails pulled out, not the Muffin Man. He is a born salesman and can haggle and waggle with the best of the very best car salespeople. It's blood sport for him, I've seen him walk away from a decent deal just because the guy was not a sales person's sales person. I've seen him puff up, beat his chest and swagger off every lot east of this town's beltway. I've had friend's divorce and his first comment to me is...hey, if she needs help buying her next car have her give me a call. Yeah, she's becoming a single mother, divorcing the louse and setting up her own house all by herself, I'm sure the first thing on her mind is call Perrin's husband when I buy a car in three years. God love him, his heart was in the right place.

So the ink on the check for the new transmission is barely dry. Probably because the check had too many zeros on it. This morning car disaster strikes again, my car won't turn over and start as I have Liv in the backseat ready for preschool and the pooch in the front seat primed and ready to have her nails professionally ground to the quick at the groomer. (I am now paying more for my puggle's pedicures than my own, but that is another story for another day.)

How could the car be broken? To add insult to injury it wasn't the same sound made a few short weeks ago when the transmission was on the fritz. Oh no, that would be under warranty, so it surely couldn't be the problem.) I immediately steal the Muffin Man's car out of the other side of the garage and head off to preschool in complete denial. No, that isn't completely true, I left the pooch and the preschooler to their own faculties as ran into the house to shout at the Muffin Man that the car is broken. Can I deal with morning routine and borrow his car for poochy pedi's and preschool drop offs. He agrees while mumbling something about a family that is sinking him slowly and sadly into the poor house and bread lines akin to 1923.

Upon my return back to the cul-de-sac the Muffin Man informs me that the problem is not a battery, no clicking sound, and is probably a fuel injection issue. Fuel injection issue...speak English man! Speak Green Dinero English, what are we talking here? The next three year's worth of car repair budget was spent 3 weeks ago.

He shakes his head at me as only a man saddled with a shrieking wife who knows not one damn thing about cars except how to pick a color can. Then he takes his jeep up the street for fuel injection cleaner, whatever that is. I run after him asking if I should call AAA and the Dodge dealer. He waves his hand at me silently telling me to step off, I slink worriedly into the kitchen to research why the ice maker seems to be in the fritz too. It's true, I couldn't make this stuff up.

As he comes home his mood is brightened with his fuel injector cleaner in his hands. He states that either this will work or we will need to go shopping for a new Volvo. They are now apparently $10,000 off asking price down the street, how does he know this stuff? Clearly this is joke since we both know quite well $10,000 off or not, a new Volvo will never be within our reach for us as long as we are housing two very expensive little creatures who are systematically eating up our savings in yogurt cups by the thousands and coloring on our walls.

That launches us into a quick but philosophical discussion about why this is the absolute best time in the history of car sales in the United States to purchase a car and we are beating our heads and wallets trying to save the old Durango for yet another 5 years. Did you ever hear the Car Talk Click and Clack brothers on NPR talk about selling an old car? One brother states that in 40 years he has never actually sold a car, they just all turn to dust in his driveway. Yeah, this is us. My seven year old Ava, will probably learn to drive Flintstone style in this car.

It appears that the Muffin Man has helped us dodge (yes, a pun) disaster at the Dodge dealership by purchasing fuel injector fluid. Or, I suppose the real test will be when I drive it up the street for preschool pickup. But apparently as of this writing we are back in business.

In the end, hopefully we will NOT be shopping for a new vehicle at the very best time to haggle a great price on a new car. Instead we will be purchasing a new ice maker for the fridgedaire.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Long Walk of Mandarin Shame

It's taken me a few days to sit down and write about this since I've found myself strangely emotional and guilt ridden about the fact that Ava has put her foot down and does not want to attend Mandarin classes at Chinese school any longer. She says it is boring and she doesn't like boring. God forbid the poor child be bored for more than 3 1/2 minutes. This is the price to pay for the permissive parent. She been fighting me for over a semester now and I woke up a few weeks ago and agreed to let her quit. I just can't take the persistent whining on Sunday mornings, "How many more hours until I have to go to Chinese school?" I can't stomach the refusals to attempt homework. I can't even entertain the thought that she would grow up with a bitter distaste of Mandarin language lessons or worse yet Chinese culture. So, I let her quit. I tell myself I'm letting her chose, I'm respecting her decisions. I'm honoring her choices in life. But, then I find myself wondering is this isn't a cop out. She's 7, what does she know about the lessons of tenacity, seeing something through even though it is hard. What am I teaching her?

When I told her she could stop Mandarin classes she cheered giving me a loud and resilient "Yes", complete with arm pump for effect. I shot her daggers with my eyes begging her silently not to gloat. She's been at the school since she was 3 years old. We've been at the school since she was three years old. We lasted 4 years as a blended family in a sea of authentic Chinese families, which is longer than most if I look for a silver lining. She knows a whole host of Chinese children's songs, she understands the 4 tones, and she counts to 100 like a Beijing native. She really is learning, it's slow going but she is learning. Until now.

Over the years I'd learned to smile politely amongst a cafeteria full of Chinese parents, being the only or one of a very few white parents. It used to unnerve me a bit being so blatantly, a minority an outsider, but now I suppose I'm used to it. I never broke into the inner sanctum of Chinese folks at the school. I never had that picnic in my backyard where I envisioned I would invite all of our new Chinese friends over for American hot dogs and hamburgers. Chinese ladies that could really cook would bring their yummy dumplings and leeks with pork in mismatched covered dishes. This back yard party of my imagination would have been a united nations, laughing, coming together as we watched our children play on our gym set. Because after all, children all over the world are truly all the same right? In my fantasy these families would have become our great friends, the fact that we had 2 Chinese born daughters would have been enough to bridge that wide cultural divide. But, that's not true. Chinese school is a place for Chinese families to go where they don't have to assimilate for 2 whole hours a week, like they have to at their kids' schools, at work and out in the community. I can't say that I blame them for using the school as their cultural comfort zone. I would certainly do the same thing if I were an expat living in China. Thoughts of running with my daughter's crowd were perhaps a little naive on my part, admittedly so. But then, they aren't really her crowd either. She's so American here for over 6 years. She has no memories of her life in China. Their food isn't as familiar as my white chili. She identifies with Miley Cyrus for heaven's sake. Giving my child two hours of Mandarin language instruction a week wouldn't be enough to to give her cultural familiarity to use in her adult life, I see that now.

This straddling of culture and ethnicity was brought to my attention again last night when after the girls' showers I was blowing Ava's hair dry. She studied herself in the mirror as I flung wet black hair all over the place. She placed her finger in her eyelid and lifted the fold. She giggled, "Why is it that I have no eyelid like you Mommy?" "Oh, you have classic Han Chinese eyes with a deep epicanthal fold. It is what makes you a gorgeous Chinese child." For one quick moment I saw her differently, she looked so foreign, so beautiful, but so foreign as I glanced at my tired and slightly wrinkly large eyelids and dark hazel irises. Then I blinked again and she looked familiar, the child I see every day, my dear sweet Ava.

I have no idea whether I did the right thing, letting her quit. These parenting moments where you just don't know what is truly best always get the better of me. I prefer parenting in black and white with a red bow tied on top. Once again, reality right? I plan to offer marital arts or dancing in the fall once the dust settles and she realizes she won round one. Maybe she will want to go back if it is more on her terms. Hopefully the story isn't over, only a short intermission on a long journey.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And The Winner Is...

To determine the big winner of help Perrin decide on a birthday craft to keep 7 year old short people busy for two hours while hyped up on cupcakes and bug juice is.....Ahh ha, can't give it away just yet.

We had to have an executive round table meeting with folks over in research and development. This is what that looks like over here.
What you see here are research and development. Research was preparing to catch the bus at this breakfast meeting, thus the coat and mitts. Development decided to forego pantyhose and the power suit and instead opted for her snuggle bear jammies. It was also her idea to bring cranberry bread with butter to the meeting. Do you think Hilary will take her pink security blankie to her senate confirmation meetings today? We all have to start somewhere right?

Many of your fabulous suggestions were placed on the table using only Robert's Rules of Order, of course.

Some of your suggestions, although seemingly well thought out met with minor apprehension and did not receive the ultimate winning vote. As you can see here "Miss I Forgot My Power Suit" has a little work to do on her emotional quotient score at breakfast meetings.

Or maybe it was the fact that I forgot to buy hot chocolate at the grocery this week. We may never know the whole truth on that one.

Ultimately it was Ani's comment about cardboard boxes to paint with the existing mongo box of old acrylics I want to use up that lead me to cardboard initial letters. (Same aisle, next to the treasure boxes, so she gets the prize.) Each little party goer will receive a cardboard 6" inital corresponding with her name to paint and then take home to place with all of the grade school crafty junk she already has in her room. Yipee! So many of you had some pretty dang good ideas that I might use one or two of them in the event that 12 little girls do not finish at the exact same time and might need a little more painting entertainment. That won't happen right? They will all work neatly and quietly and finish in a timely manner right? Naivite is a beautiful thing, yes?

So, at the end of the meeting both research and development seemed to be quite happy with the party planning ideas and decisions.

A motion was raised to bring donuts at the next meeting of executive minds on the cul-de-sac.

Motion denied.

Now to the business of thank you Ani for a great idea that will ultimately make me the most popular mom on the block, I mean quietly entertain 7 year olds in the middle of January for 2 hours.

I made you a panda pouch. Little pandas with apples. I thought pandas ate bamboo, but what do I know?

Go ahead and email me or comment with your full name and address and the panda pouch is yours, ready to be shipped off to Puerto Rico. Oh, you lucky gal...Puerto Rico.

***I did not link to Ani because I could only see a profile, no actual blog. Ahh well, just email me and I'll ship it rightout.

Many thanks for the help and so many nifty ideas. :)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Yea, she's groovin'

This is a happy child about to turn 7 years old. What would make little miss 6 and 3/4 so happy?

A party.

Plain and simple. A party. The kid is, shall we say gregariously social.

Her first choice for this year's celebration of Seven was Build A Bear.

Sorry, we know it is not exactly your fault you were born 3 weeks after Christmas, and we are shopped out, paying bills and quite frankly not all that up for cake either after the 10,000 cookies we consumed in the month of December...but still, you may not invite 26 of your best'est friends evahhh to Build a Bear at $18.95 a pop.
Insert long face.

You may however, sucker us into inviting 12 schreeking banshee little 7 year olds over for cake and ice cream, a candy pinata, and craft...if Mommy can figure out a way to entertain 12 little friends using old bucket of Delta Cream Coat acrylic paints that are currently slowly drying out upstairs in a closet.

Seriously, what could they paint? Have any ideas? Extra bonus points for anyone who comes up with something (think cheap) they could paint AND take home as their take home little gift. (I know it is rather scroogey of me, but I hate those gift baggies kids get at birthday parties with .10 trinkets and candy, ooh the candy and the rotting of the teeth.) And, for the record this is especially evil of me because if anyone can appreciate the finer points of a birthday party garbage, I mean goody is Ava. But, alas I can't do it. Must find some painting craft and make that pass off as cool gift.

Insert happy face. On her. She's having a party.

***Anyone who comes up with a winning birthday party craft or painting activity will receive a free 1001 uses pouch from me!***** Leave a comment and if we pick your idea, I will email you off line and send you a free zipper pouch.