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Wednesday
Jan302008

All the Fun Stuff is in the Kid's Room

Since there simply can never be enough animals in this house, quite a while ago Mr. Husband and I decided to put a saltwater aquarium in Alexis' room. I have to admit, despite the fact that it cost a small fortune to set the thing up, it has turned out to be a good decision. Countless mornings I have trudged into Alexis' room to wake her up only to find that she was already wide awake, standing next to the aquarium staring at her fish.

At one point in time, she had two fish. There was the Nemo-looking fish that Daddy picked out, and the crazy cool Mandarin Goby that I selected. Daddy did much research before picking his fish. I saw a psychedelic bright-colored thing and bought it on the spot. Irony of all ironies, my fish turned out to be a meat-eater. So the fourteen-year vegetarian had to set out and find sources of live animals for Mandy (my fishy's name) to eat. I was hatching brine shrimp, buying crazy expensive INVISIBLE things called pods online, and cutting up pieces of frozen dead gunk to feed him. Then we went to Indiana for Thanksgiving, and Mandy died of starvation because he ran out of food sources while we were gone. I probably should mention that I had ordered Mandy a delicious bag full of hundreds of invisible things that arrived while we were gone. Mandy's food died in the mailbox while we were in Indy and while he was starving to death. How's that for a whole bunch of senseless deaths at one time?

Admittedly, I was sort of relieved when Mandy kicked the bucket. Keeping live food sources around for him was some serious work, and not cheap. He was going through $20 worth of food per month. The two cats combined don't eat $20 worth of food in a month, and one of them is a fat slob. I never once enjoyed the whole raising brine shrimp process, especially when the goal was to watch a fish devour hundreds of them in a matter of minutes. His death was a good thing. Really.

Remember I said I thought the invisible things died in the mailbox? I actually dumped the bag in the aquarium for kicks, just on the off chance that one or two had survived. I think it's safe to say at least two survived. It turns out the invisible things grow to be less invisible. Then some of them grow to be almost big. Those no longer invisible things? Look just like bugs and worms. Gross, nasty, little bugs and worms. And now that there is no predator for icky critters, they are proliferating. It has reached the point where I'm no longer willing to stick my hands in the tank to clean it because that would be like sticking my hand in a bucket full of insects.

Then tonight I thought I would research what the worm-like things that are in the tank are called. Some of them have gotten pretty big--as in at least four inches long. Guess what? The damn things are not only considered pests, they can grow to 12 inches and have been known to BITE HUMANS.

Good thing the tank is in the Toddler's room and not mine, because you couldn't pay me to sleep next to a tank filled with bugs and man-eating worms. The Toddler just better hope her new sleeping buddy, Coal, will protect her.

Tuesday
Jan292008

Toddlers and Teens Are All the Same

Some time ago, the Toddler got the idea in her head that she is in charge of the radio in the car. If I try to listen to sports radio, she loudly voices her need to hear music. Once I turn on music, she voices her need to listen to different music. Given her choice in things, I do believe the child would listen to SexyBack by Justin Timberlake and Maneater by Nelly Furtado at least 37,492 times in a row. Oh, wait. Maybe that's how many times we've already listened to those songs. Either way, I've gotten so sick of those two songs that I've actually contemplated buying Britney's new album. I know, that's some desperate shizznet right there. (Don't worry, my dear husband will make sure I don't actually stoop to that level.)

In my fervent attempts to put an end to the recurring assault on my ears, I have decided to try something new in the car. Every day when I pick Alexis up from school, I try to engage her in some sort of conversation as we make the four minute trek to our house. I usually ask her what she did at school, who she did it with, whether or not it was fun, what she ate, and all of your basic attempts at small talk, albeit with a person who still thinks the sentence "I pooped in the potty" warrants a parade and three ring circus, even if she didn't actually perform the aforementioned task. Let's just say she's not quite yet a master conversationalist.

Some days I actually get some meaningful answers from her. For example, I do believe that today she played with Barbies and that Shelle read her a story. Last week she told me a hysterical story about Eva Dawn. I don't really know what the story was about, since I could only understand Eva's name, but Alexis sure did think it was a funny story. She literally had tears streaming down her face as she gasped to tell the story in between giggling fits.

Most days, our conversations are pretty one-sided. I ask a question, she answers yes or no. I ask another question, she rolls her eyes at me then answers yes or no. I ask a question, she sighs and then answers yes or no. I ask yet another question, she whines then answers yes or no. It has not escaped my attention that these little three to four minute conversations are just the beginning of a lifetime of her getting annoyed at me for asking too many questions. Hopefully when she's a teenager and we're back to one or two word answers (assuming, of course, that somewhere along the line she learns to actually talk to me in complete paragraphs), I'll be able to look back at these days and remember when our conversations were choppy and awkward because her vocabulary was limited, and not because she hates me.

Monday
Jan282008

Keeping it on the Down Low

Alexis' birthday was a day of compromise. Daddy wanted to take her to Chuck E. Cheese. I would rather play in traffic. I wanted to take her to the Children's Museum. Daddy would rather go bowling with live bombs. So we did both.

The Chuck E. Cheese portion of the festivities came with the claim that "she love, love, LOVES it there." I personally had never been, but Mr. Husband had taken the Toddler there once. Within moments of walking in, it became apparent that his idea of "she loves it" and my idea of "she's mortally afraid of it" are actually one and the same. We all already know that Elmo and Zoe at 500 feet away is worth crying about, you ought to see what she thinks about Chuck E. at 5 feet away. Let's just say my underwear have been known to give me more space than the kid right after seeing the giant rat. When Mr. Husband took off with 20 or so tokens (so he could get the Toddler a prize, you see), I came to understand who really loves Chuck E. Cheese. The birthday girl eventually warmed up to the idea of swinging and playing a tiny bit, but it came at the price of much Mommy cajoling.

Just so we're all clear on the topic, I would rather eat cardboard than that pizza. Yeah, I know, they are made of the exact same substances.

The Children's Museum, I thought, was a whole lot more fun. As in, I got to sit in a chair and Alexis got to play and play and play. She would probably still be playing if there had been any food in the place for us to eat after they locked us in. I only get locked into places that leave chocolate and popcorn sitting around for me to munch on at midnight, thankyouverymuch. Despite the lack of quality nightime munchies, I still think the Children's Museum rocks. Hard.

During the home portion of the activities, there was cake and there were presents. Alexis ate precisely none of her cake. Really, she stuck a fork in it, licked the icing off, and then gave up on it. If I were the kid of parent that got all locked into a plan, I would have been pissed about the lack of messy smash cake photos. Good thing I just go with it.

Presents were sort of a bust for the poor child. Considering that I still haven't drug out all of her Christmas presents, there really was no need to get her anything. I did let her keep Satan's doll since it was far less annoying once I found the mute button. Other than that, she got a few games that she won't care about for at least six months. They were on clearance so I figured it made sense to pay a little for them now rather than a lot for them later. In true Toddler form, the only gift she really cared about was the box of junk jewelry that I gathered on a whim as we were leaving the store. Don't take away the kids bling, she will hurt you. And don't tell her that her bling is only worth about $10 total.

Notice the complete lack of other people involved in the festivities? That's right, there was no partying with friends and family. We shall see in approximately 16 years what happens if you don't give your kid the biggest! birthday! party! ever! when they turn two. If she survives, perhaps other parents will be brave enough to follow in our compromising footsteps.