Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The pumpkinhead loves maps. She studies the atlas like she’s preparing for a geography test. We use imaginary maps to guide us around the block when we walk the dog. She has a large U.S. map in her playroom marked with all the places she's been. When I’m driving, she draws maps for me on her sketch pad or consults her laminated map of the U.S. (in reality, this is a placemat) that she keeps stashed in the back seat. She saw an Etch-a-Sketch at the toy store recently and sat right down in the aisle and drew “maps” for 20 minutes. She's a little map freak.

Before her obsession with maps started, she would constantly ask me if we were lost. Walking the dog – “Mommy, are we lost?” Going to the store – “Mommy, are we lost?” Going to her school along the same route we take every day - “Mommy, are we lost?” I don’t get lost a lot, and I certainly don’t freak out when I do get lost, so I’m not sure what had her so worried about being lost. Now that I think about it, maybe she wanted to be lost so she could whip out a map and save the day.

A few months ago, we went to a bridal shower in a rural area where I had not been in several years. Despite my pre-planning and googled addresses and hand-drawn maps, we got a little lost. My sister-in-law and niece were in the car with us, so there was some discussion about which way to turn and which road we were supposed to be on. Ya know – talk about being lost. Simone had been to a bridal shower before, and really enjoyed it (she was one of only a few kids there, and she got to wear a little tiara and help open gifts). So she was eager to get to get to this one, and being lost was not sitting well with her. We finally found our destination and a great time was had by all at the much-anticipated shower. We even made it back home without getting lost again.

A couple of weeks later, it was time for the wedding of the recently-showered bride (haha). We were to meet the rest of our family at my aunt’s house, which is in the same area where I had not been in several years, save for the little foray mentioned above. Encouraged by my recent re-acquaintance with the area and armed with the cute little map that came with the invitation, we set off. Because I’d told everyone I knew where to go, I had my two brothers and their families following me. A little parade through the country. The country with spotty cell service.

My, how time has changed the landscape out there. Roads were paved, trees had grown, houses were built, barns were removed, blah, blah, blah… This time, we were more than a little lost. It was so bad, my brothers stopped following me. Really. They just stopped their trucks on the side of the road. Little did they know my cousin was giving me directions through a series of dropped calls. They reluctantly agreed to follow me after they found out I had outside help. AAAARRRUUUGGGHHH, brothers! At some point during the parade through the changed countryside, Simone asked me for the cute little map from the invitation. I felt that I was done with it, so I handed it over. Maybe she could make some sense of it.

Eventually, we made it to our aunt’s house and followed someone else from there to the wedding. On the way to the church, the pumpkinhead informed me that she couldn’t find the cute little map. That was fine with me. It only served as a reminder of my dismal navigating skills that afternoon. The wedding (Simone’s first) was beautiful and we all had a great time once again.

After the festivities, Simone and I got in the car to head home (without our entourage this time). She immediately began asking whether we were lost. Ummm, no. I’d gotten explicit directions to the highway, and may have been following one of those brothers who so recently had lost confidence in me (did you ever have any, really?). Anyway, as I was concentrating on getting back to familiar territory, it was very quiet in the back seat. After we were well on our way and I knew where we were going, my little pumpkinhead announced that she had drawn us a new map so we wouldn’t get lost again. Great. Thanks for the support.

Here is Simone’s map, and next is the cute little map from the wedding invitation*, that I found under the driver’s seat the next day. Not bad, eh?

* - all identifying marks have been removed. This is for your own protection, in case you are tempted to cruise out there to see for yourself how lost I really was. I don't want you to get lost too. My cousin may not be available to give you directions out of there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's a keeper...

I'm pretty much disgusted with everyone's "summer reading lists". I've seen and heard them everywhere during the month of June. I don't care about your lists. I have exactly the same amount of time to read in the summertime as I do in every other season. So, waaah. I know. I'm a whiner.

However, our library and a number of stores have some good incentives for getting kids to read during the summer. Half-Price Books has a summer reading program where kids earn gift cards for keeping track of their reading time. Our library's program lets kids earn a free ticket to a Rangers game and some other swag for reading a certain number of books. With Borders' Double Dog Dare program, kids get to choose a free book for every 10 books they read. This is easy enough for us, since I read to Simone every day, winter or summer.

The pumpkinhead loves books that "we get to keep" (rather than taking them back to the library in a few weeks), so I printed out a few forms and have been writing down names of books we read and how long we read for a few weeks now. This weekend, we took our lists to Half-Price Books and turned them in for some gift cards. We perused the kids' section for a while, then found one of our favorites -- Fantastic Mr. Fox.  We read it twice over the weekend. I guess I'll add it to the list of books we've read and take that list to Borders next weekend for another book that "we get to keep".

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Soon...

I read an article today about upcoming movie releases, and found some interesting ones for both Simone and me...

Ramona and Beezus   Yay!!! I'm really excited about this movie. The Ramona books are some of our favorites right now. We have the Ramona and Her Father audio book in the car now.

Tangled   It's Rapunzel! Simone loves the book Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, which is a funny twist on the traditional Rapunzel story. She also loves Waking Beauty by the same author.

Yogi Bear   Hey, Boo-Boo! Simone may be smarter than your average pumpkinhead, but she knows nothing about Yogi Bear yet. We'll see. Did you know that there is a Jellystone Park franchise of camping sites?

Gulliver's Travels  I don't think this will interest the pumpkinhead very much, but it looks like fun for older kids.

Grease is the word. A re-release of the original. And in a totally unrelated bit of trivia, Stockard Channing (Rizzo) reads the Ramona books on our audio books.

The King's Speech  Colin Firth AND Guy Pearce. 'Nuff said.

Another movie that we are looking forward to seeing in the future is Punk Farm.There is no release date yet, but we'll be there when it finally opens! We have worn out our library's copies of Punk Farm and Punk Farm on Tour, and we have the music videos saved in our YouTube favorites. Peace out, Colorado!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who's on first?... And don't call me Shirley!

My conversation with the Pumpkinhead while playing veterinarian this afternoon...

The scene: The patient, Choppy, has a splinter in his paw and has limped into the offices of Dr. Mommy (played by yours truly) and her competent assistant, Dr. Peggy Nurse, who is a nurse (played by Simone). The team gave Choppy a complete physical before taking a look at his splinter, then Dr. Mommy was abruptly called out of the room by something on the stove. Dr. Peggy Nurse enters with good news.

Pumpkinhead:  Dr. Mommy! Luckily, I got the splinter out of Choppy's paw!

Me:  Oh! Luckily, you got it out?!?

PH: No, I got it out. ME. I'm Dr. Peggy Nurse. You're Luckily.

Me: Oh! So you got the splinter out, Dr. Peggy Nurse?

PH: Yes!

Me: Good job. Finally, you got that splinter out.

PH: Who's Finally?

I don't know who's been showing my kid Abbott and Costello skits, but THANK YOU! But if you could hold off on showing her Airplane, I would appreciate it!


The Pumpkinhead recently expressed her desire to "go out of Fort the zoo." So we did that today. We made the trek all the way to FW to the zoo. We actually go to the zoo fairly often, and this is almost always one of the highlights...

Something caught our attention in an area we usually stroll right past without stopping. This hyacinth macaw was hanging upside down and posing for the cameras. He clearly knew what was going on and would look into the lens and turn slightly so the paparazzi could get shots from different angles...

The zoo has some new penguins that are very cool. These two guys look like they're about to go at it, but they actually got along very well. In the right corner is a rockhopper penguin, hailing from Antarctica; in the left corner is an African blackfooted penguin, hailing from...Africa, of course.

After the zoo, we went a little further "out of town" to Everman, which is home to a large population of wild parrots. The story is that a divorcing couple couldn't decide who would get "custody" of their parrots, so they just let them go (excellent choice, people - I hope they didn't have children!). The parrots made their new home on top of an electric pole and began their own little Eden. Now the city is said to have between 100-200 parrots living in huge nests atop electric poles around town. We saw a lot of nests, and a few parrots, but I think we heard every one of those 100-200 birds. They're LOUD!

If you look closely and use your imagination, you can see a parrot looking out his window in the "penthouse" apartment along the left edge of the nest, and several other parrots looking out their windows along the lower levels of the nest...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bailando con la calabaza

These photos were taken at a concert at the Levitt Pavilion, which hosts a free summer concert series each year. We love it because it's close, it's a lot of fun, and they always have great music. Tonight, Cienfuegos was playing some Latin beats that were perfect for shaking your bootie while hula-hooping.

She also likes to dance in front of the stage. There is usually a large, empty grassy area directly in front of the stage that the Pumpkinhead uses for a stage of her own. She gets quite a lot of attention with her combination hip-hop/ballet/modern/lyrical/gymnastics/karate dance moves. Tonight she had the attention of the band. The singer announced to the crowd, "¡Alguien baile con esa muchacha!" ("Somebody come and dance with this girl!").

Simone has a good time wherever she goes!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We've been watching Ponyo for a while here.  Netflix may want the DVD back, but the Pumpkinhead is not ready to let it go yet. I love Hayao Miyazaki's anime movies, and I'm pretty happy that she seems to love them, too. Ponyo is so pretty - it's like a movie in watercolors.

Simone* can memorize entire scenes in an instant. We re-enact scenes from movies or books all the time -- in the car, in the bath, at dinner, while playing, walking the dog, blah, blah, blah... She is ALWAYS the director, and if I get a line wrong or miss my cue, we have to start all over. If I miraculously get my lines right, we still start over. Again. And again. And again.

Tonight we had soba noodles and dumplings (which were homemade and awesome, thankyouverymuch!) for dinner. When Simone saw that I was making noodles, she was reminded of this scene in Ponyo (sorry if you don't speak French, but you get the idea). We re-enacted the scene numerous times while making dinner, getting ready to eat dinner, while eating dinner...maybe even after dinner.

We ate at the coffee table, just like Sosuke and Ponyo. The saucers doubled as lids for our noodle bowls, just like Sosuke and Ponyo. Simone played dual roles as both Ponyo and Sosuke's mother so she could be the one to make the dramatic flourish and say "Abracadabra!" while removing the lids, then also the one to dance around with joy when the delicious noodles were uncovered. We ate with chopsticks, just like Sosuke and Ponyo. She's used them numerous times before, but it's still funny watching her try to balance those slippery noodles between her two chopsticks.

You may notice a few things in the photos above, besides my lovely dinnerware (term used loosely here) of mis-matched, chipped dishes and a plastic Rangers beer cup that is about 10 years old. 1.) The pumpkinhead is dressed as a princess. That is standard attire for meals around here. 2.) Yes, she used ketchup as a dipping sauce for her dumplings (homemade and awesome, thankyouverymuch!). That is a standard condiment for her. I've seen her dip strawberries in ketchup. At least she eats.

* -- I'm getting tired of referring to her as "Pumpkinhead" here. Although I call her by that nickname several times every day, it is awkward writing it here. Everyone knows her name is Simone, so I'm not fooling anyone here. From here on out, you will see her referred to here as both "Pumpkinhead" and "Simone". And maybe some other names. Who knows.

Another Experiment and a Christmas Gift

The pumpkinhead received a Christmas gift today. Yeah, it's June, but who cares, right? A dear friend whom I haven't seen in a while (obviously since December - at least!) brought some gifts by my office today.

 We had to wash it immediately so she could take it to summer camp tomorrow for naptime!

My friend also saves the prizes for us when she has a kid's meal at Chik-fil-a. One of the prizes was a flask for real, live scientific experiments. It even came with a little booklet of experiments to try. We made raisins dance tonight:

Thank you, Wanda! We love you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Please enjoy these photos of the pumpkinhead enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle.

And if you haven't already seen enough of the oil spill on the news, here are some amazing but disgusting pictures of the "cleanup". I get a little nauseated every time I see the mess out there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When I'm Five...

The pumpkinhead has been dreaming of the day she turns five...

When I'm five, I will be able to hula hoop like my friends at school.

When I'm five, I will go to Kindergarten.

When I'm five, I'm going to get a cat.

When I'm five, Daddy will take the training wheels off of my bike.

When I'm five, I'll be a real princess.

When I'm five, I will be able to run faster.

When I'm five, I will be able to jump higher.

When I'm five, I won't be four anymore.

No, baby, you won't be four anymore. You'll go to Kindergarten and run fast, jump high, ride a bike, hula hoop for hours on end, and maybe you'll have a cat. But you're already a real princess.

I'm just trying to hold on to the 43 days left of you being four...