Monday, May 31, 2010

More Spearmintin'

Will it float? A scaled-down version of one of my favorite Letterman skits...

Musical glasses...

A little of this, a little of that...

WARNING!!! The results of the last experiment are shown below. The spearmint was made up completely in her mind, and involved whatever I would let her have from the spice cabinet and pantry. She called it "red sauce". It's pretty gross. Sorry.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mommy, can we do a spearmint?

A couple of weeks ago, I made a magnificent trade on Swaptree and received My First Science Book, a book of simple experiments that kids can do at home. The pumpkinhead perused the book cover to cover, and decided on the spearmint called "Volcano in a Jar", which is basically a study in how heat rises.

This was fun enough, but involved only water and one shade of food coloring. It left the pumpkinhead wanting more. So after changing out of her school uniform, she got to use the whole set of food coloring and many, many more jars and cups for even more scientific fun while I made dinner.

Her further experiments involved lots of blue and brown water, lots of mixing of said water, and some baking soda and vinegar for another type of volcano.

She was pretty happy with her spearmint.  I worked around her lab area and got dinner ready, then we shoved everything into the dishwasher after we ate. Yay, science!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ants in my pant(ry)

A couple of months ago, we got a tiny ant farm for $1.00 at Target. It has green gel inside, and the instruction sheet says that the ants will use the gel to burrow in as well as for food. Once the ants are in, we don't have to open the lid again until they're dead. Pretty morbid, but whatever. They're ants, right?

We went out and captured a few of the small ants that are constantly in the cracks of the sidewalk behind the house. We were walking the dog when we took our ant hostages, and by the time we were halfway around the block, I noticed that a couple of the ants had escaped through the air holes. We let the others go and I told the pumpkinhead that we would try to find some bigger ants that can't fit through those holes.

During the past week or so, I've started seeing these ants in my kitchen. They show up here every spring when the weather heats up. Disgusting, I know. No matter how clean I keep the counters and floors, they come in looking for something good to eat. They're getting bolder this year. They normally hang out on the counter that runs along an outside wall. This year they're in my pantry, on the opposite side of the kitchen from their usual haunt on the counter.

For a few days, I'd been smashing them when I saw them crawling around in the pantry. Then tonight I realized that they seem to be large enough for the ant farm. I brushed four of them into the box and snapped the lid shut. A life sentence instead of the immediate death penalty their little ant friends got. We watched them crawl around their little prison cell while we ate dinner.

Well, ants will be ants.

They found the air holes and started plotting their escape. The smallest one made it out of the vent, but was caught in the razor wire on the perimeter fence (the pumpkinhead's razor-sharp squeals when she saw it crawling down the outside of the box) and was shot down by the sharpshooters (my finger). The remaining three ant prisoners witnessed this episode from inside their transparent cell, so I thought they might be on their best behavior for a while. No. Within a few minutes, another one tried the same escape route. Not smart. This ant was larger than the previous escapee. His abdomen was too large for the hole. He was stuck. Like Chuck. We watched him for a while, then I got out the cameras.

He struggled and struggled. His cellmates came over to investigate, and even sniffed around the other two air holes. They saw the danger, though, and wisely didn't try it. After I took a few pictures and we got tired of watching the little ant flail his little ant legs in vain, I took the whole ant farm to the back yard and granted all of them clemency. You're free to go. Just don't show up in my pantry again. And tell your friends to stay away, too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eye shadow

The pumpkinhead loves to wear makeup. She puts on makeup to play in the yard, walk the dog, go to the library, just whenever the mood strikes her. I recently found some tubes of brightly colored, sparkly  liquid eyeshadow in a clearance bin, and she has been in heaven. So far, she has not wanted to put the eyeshadow on by herself; she asks me to do it for her -- one eye in silver, the other in purple. At least that way, we avoid this look...

That is blue eyeshadow that she applied with a blush brush. I'm not sure what effect she was going for, but she was pretty pleased with the results. Whatever.

This weekend at Target, she found a tube of sparkly blue eyeshadow and showed it to me excitedly. The tube she'd picked up was a tester, so I opened it and made a couple of swipes on her eyelids. She was happy and admired herself in every mirror she could find until we left the store.

When she was getting ready for bed that night, she asked me to take her makeup off. I wiped at it with a wet washcloth, but it did not even smudge. So I got out my eye makeup remover. Still nothing. We both started to panic a bit. I stupidly wondered aloud whether that tube was actually nail polish, which made her question my parenting skills -- "Mommy, why did you put fingernail polish on my EYES???"  I'd only glanced at the tube before painting my baby with it. I remembered that it it said something about "highlighting color", but I couldn't remember anything else. Not the brand, the product name, nothing. I was questioning my parenting skills as well.

I was pondering the best way to use nail polish remover in the eye area of a four-year-old.

I was wondering if Target was still open so I could go back to look at the "eye shadow" in question to see exactly what it was.

I decided that at 10:00 p.m., the best thing to do was wait until the morning and go down to Target to investigate. I had just started to talk her into sleeping in her makeup, when I remembered that my eye makeup remover is petrolatum-free, and waterproof makeup (and temporary tattoos -- FYI) is easily removed with petroleum-based products like baby oil or vaseline. Sadly, I had neither. But I did find a tube of cherry flavored vaseline lip balm. With that and a few cotton swabs, the pumpkinhead was makeup free and ready for bed.


Lesson learned. I'll carefully read the labels of whatever I paint onto her face from now on.

La estrella del show (the star of the show)

The pumpkinhead's school had an end-of-the-year show last week. It was un espectáculo, with traditional costumes, dancing, songs, decorations, and snacks from several Spanish-speaking countries. Everyone had a great time, especially the kids. My little pumpkinhead was obviously having a blast being in front of a large audience.

She loved her vestido with its twirly skirt...

Bomba y Plena (de Puerto Rico)  The other little girls all wore white headscarves during this dance. When I asked her why hers was red, she said "Because I was the star of the show." Well, of course!

Joropo (de Venezuela)  Please pardon  the lady's head in the shot. She was enjoying the show so much she was practically dancing in her seat. I got both her and her husband's heads in several shots. I'll have to arrive earlier next time to score front row seats!

Somos el Mundo (We Are the World) 
All the kids were lined up side by side, but of course the Pumpkinhead had to break ranks and do her own thing.

 An impromptu solo during the interview portion of the pageant, when the pumpkinhead just broke out in song en español, por supuesto!) instead of answering her question. Apparently her classmate doesn't appreciate the "melodic" tones of her voice. I love the two ladies behind the table, though. That's probably how I looked, too, llena de orgullo.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I make old people sad.

I recently made an elderly lady cry. That sounds horrible, and I guess it is bad. But I didn't intend to make her cry. I just realized too late that she may have a touch of dementia.

She is the new roommate of someone I visit in a nursing facility. She was warning me about the current state of our society and explaining how history tends to repeat itself. She told me that if we continue on the path we've been on in these United States recently, that we will end up in a war. Without realizing exactly how incoherent her end of the conversation was, I pointed out that we are, in fact, currently involved in TWO wars.

The waterworks started.

She was frightened.

She was indignant that nobody in the U.S. has heeded her apparently repeated warnings.

Then 10 minutes later she'd forgotten the whole conversation, the two wars, the fact that no one is listening to her, and was again telling me that history will repeat itself. Yeah. Not in this room, lady. I'm not spilling the beans again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I was almost outwitted by technology today.

I like gadgets, and I have a several little gadgets that are cool and useful.

Earlier this week, I downloaded an app for my i-Pod Touch that stores all my rewards card numbers (grocery stores, pet stores, drug stores, blah, blah, blah) and membership numbers (library, movie theater, airline, hotel, blah, blah, blah), so I no longer have to carry the cards around with me. When I want Tom Thumb to capture my shopping data so they can offer me coupons that I never use, I can just whip out the i-pod and pull up the barcode for the cashier to scan. Cool because...well it's just cool...and useful because it cleared a lot of space in my wallet.

A few years ago, I put a keypad lock on the door in the garage. Cool because I no longer have to carry around a key, and useful because now the pumpkinhead can open the door for me while I'm carrying in the various bags, backpacks, lunchboxes, purses, stuffed animals, blah, blah, blah that we drag to and from school/work every day.

I have a radio bookmark that marks the NPR story I'm listening to when I push a button. Later, when I plug the bookmark into my PC, it pulls up the internet link to the story so I can read it or listen to it again or see the related pictures, charts, websites, blah, blah, blah. It is cool because I think it is, and it is useful because I am almost always late for work, and I almost never get to finish listening to the story that was on when I skid to a stop in my office parking lot.

Today I came home from work and entered my house through my door with the keypad lock. I turned on my computer and plugged in my radio bookmark so I can see the photos from the story about art in Japanese internment camps that I couldn't finish listening to this morning. Then I got my i-pod and my debit card (the cool app isn't set up for debit cards -- yet) and went for a run to do some exercise and some errands. When I got home again, I punched in my handy-dandy code on my very cool keypad lock. And nothing. Just an ominous beeping sound. I tried again. Still nothing. Just an annoying beep-beep-beep.

So I was locked out of my house. I paused to consider my options:
  • The pumpkinhead's dad would be bringing her home in another hour or so. He has a key for emergencies. I think this would qualify. But it was hot, especially after my two-mile run/walk. And I was thirsty. 
  • I could go to the neighbor's air-conditioned house and have a glass of water while I wait for them. But then I would have to explain to the neighbor why exactly I was locked out of my house. And I was a little stinky after my two-mile run/walk.
  • I could go to the pumpkinhead's air-conditioned "castle" in the back yard and wait for them. But the gate was locked. I could attempt to climb over the fence. But it is eight feet tall and I'm not as athletic as I used to be. And the neighbors might see me fall off the fence in the process (not that they haven't witnessed plenty of my other less-than-magnificent feats during the time I've lived here).
While I was standing in my garage trying to decide what to do, I remembered that I have a key in my car. Not a key to the house, but a key to the lock on the gate. It was a start. I found the key and let myself into the back yard. There was Biscuit, looking at me as if wondering what in the world I was up to now (not that he hasn't witnessed even more of my less-than-magnificent feats).

 While I was in the back yard, I had a thought. Biscuit is in the yard because he came out of his dog door. Yes. The dog door. I have been angry with Lowe's for over a year because they sold me the wrong size dog door. This dog door is much too large for a 20-pound pug. But it is the right size for my niece, who makes sure she still fits through it every time she visits. And with enough twisting and turning, it was the right size for me! Lowe's gets a pass on this one. With Biscuit watching, I made it into my cool house and poured myself a large glass of cold water. Aaaaah!!! I think Biscuit was as excited as I was that I'd made it back into the house. Or maybe he was just laughing his head off in his own pug language.

So from this, I've learned a few things:
  1. Maybe I am as athletic as I used to be.
  2. Any size 8 (or under) burglar can get into my house. And NO, burglars, I'm NOT giving you my address!
  3. Even a cool i-pod with cool apps can't help you when your cool keypad locks you out.
  4. Dog doors can now be considered "cool technology" in my book. 

dos dos chica (tutu cute)

The pumpkinhead becamed enamored with a make-your-own-tutu kit at the store last weekend. It said "no sewing", and "it's so easy!". The four-year-old girl on the box said "I made my own tutu!"

It was cute.

It was half price.

We purchased it with visions of a lovely afternoon spent together making the skirt, then the pumpkinhead happily dancing in her new tutu and me lounging in the orchestra section of our in-home performance hall (a.k.a. the couch in the living room), enjoying the impromptu ballet.

What we found when we opened the box was a lot of tulle strips, a few ribbons, and a length of elastic sewn into a circle that barely fit around the pumpkinhead's 12-inch waist. It was easy enough to assemble the skirt, and she "helped" quite a bit.

What we did not find when we opened the box were instructions in English. Only Spanish. Lucky for us we've been studying the language. I double checked for the English version. Still not there. I began reading the Spanish instructions out loud, certain that I could figure it out if I just read the words a couple of times. When I looked up after reading the first couple of steps, I saw that the pumpkinhead was following along! She totally understood the Spanish instructions!!! Success! I've got a bilingual kid who can (sort of) make a simple skirt!

She wore the skirt to the zoo the next day, and was a huge hit with other four-year-old girls and an older couple who had the pleasure of eating lunch at the table next to us. They obviously had no idea that they would be dining on chili dogs next to a very loud (both audibly and visually) prima ballerina when they made the decision to come to the zoo that day.

I just noticed that Amazon's regular price for the kit is less than I paid after it was marked half off at World Market. Nice. Amazon's cheaper kit probably comes complete with instructions in English AND Spanish, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thanks for pointing that out.

We read Beezus and Ramona recently. In the book, Ramona describes her eyes as "brown and white", which mortifies Beezus. Because isn't it just sooo embarrassing when your little sister says something silly like that??

The Pumpkinhead asked me what color her eyes are, so I told her they are brown and white like Ramona's. Then I opened my own eyes wide and said, "See, my eyes are blue and white." She added very dryly, "...and red."

Just me and my Pumpkinhead...

Not MY actual head, really. Not anyone's actual head, really. Just a silly name I call my daughter. Pumpkinhead. (Sometimes just Pumpkin, when I'm too lazy to add the "head".) She doesn't mind it (yet), and I think it's cute. Sure, for some it may invoke images of a late '80's horror film, or crazy punk songs about the movie, or even political commentary in music. (Yeah, I've had people ask me about all of these when they hear me call her Pumpkinhead.) But I just get a very literal image of a cute little munchkin with a pumpkin for a head.

My pumpkinhead daughter and I are both learning to speak Spanish. She, at four years, is learning at a much more rapid pace than I am. But I can (usually) conjugate verbs and I know bigger words! So the name of the blog is "¿Qué pasa, Calabaza?". Loosely translated, this means "What's up, Pumpkin?". It's nonsensical, but it rhymes and makes me smile.

So if you click here any time in the future, you will see what's up with my pumpkinhead. Sometimes it may just be a favorite new photo, sometimes a recount of our adventures in learning to speak another language, or sometimes a story about how smart/funny/cute/silly she is. I'm obnoxious like that about my kid.