Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fun Art

Simone and I spent the afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. One of the exhibits there was a room filled with almost 9,000 orange balloons. And you are allowed to touch this particular piece of art - you can actually go into the balloon room! I wasn't sure what Simone would think about that, but I wanted to see it myself.


It was so much fun!

We ran around the room completely blinded by the balloons - they reached a few feet over my head.

We raced around in there for about half an hour (and I am not kidding!), and she was so excited when she found out a little later that we could go into the room as many times as we wanted. So we went in again. And again. We shut down the place and left with the employees.

In between sessions in the balloon room, we saw the rest of the museum...

After the museum, we had dinner and walked around the JFK Memorial and Dealey Plaza. Simone agrees with the theory that there was a second shooter near the grassy knoll.

The highlight of Simone's day? Not what you would think. She talked all the way home about the homeless man who gave her a penny to throw into a fountain and make a wish. I hope it was a good wish!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wow. She's tall.

The pumpkinhead is tall. Very tall. At six years, she is 4'2". Depending on whose height chart you look at, she's either completely off the chart, or within the 97th percentile in height for six-year-old girls. And she has been in those upper percentiles her whole life. All six years of her life.

As you can imagine, everyone comments on her height. Adults, anyway. Kids don't seem to notice it. Strangers at the grocery store; other parents at school, the library, day care; teachers; my co-workers; her doctor; family members who don't see her every day; neighbors...and the list goes on and on.

Sometimes it's said like it's just so remarkable that a kid can be so tall; sometimes it's just small talk - something to say while watching the kids play or while waiting in line; sometimes it's said like they think they're actually giving me new information. Like I didn't know my kid is tall.

I don't mind people telling me that she's tall. At least they're not telling me what a brat she is or how annoying her cute little giggle is, or that she just broke something. I just never know what to say. I always agree and confirm that she is, indeed, very tall. I think I'll start telling people that I keep her into a stretching contraption at night because I want her to be in the Guinness Book of World Records one day. Or not. People don't have much of a sense of humor about that kind of stuff nowadays.

The best one came this weekend. We visit some people in a nursing home a couple of times a month. One of the patients we visit has ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), and cannot talk or get out of bed, but is otherwise just fine - sharp as a tack. She has a letter board and points to letters to spell out words when she needs something. This weekend, while Simone was poking around her room that is filled with stuffed cat toys and various feline knick-knacks (she is Simone's favorite patient to visit), the lady pointed to her letter board. I held it up for her, expecting her to ask for a nurse or to say something about one of the cats. She spelled out: S-H-E  I-S  T-A-L-L.

Yes, folks. She is tall.


Simone turned six last month. In true Simone fashion, she had a big blow-out party. In true Debbie fashion, I forgot to take any pictures.

But trust me when I say it was a fun time.

There was an inflatable castle bounce house with water slide, a kiddie pool, a balloon banner, a heart shaped cake (that was awesome! a huge improvement over last year's pink brick), hot dogs, nachos, a book swap (instead of gifts - yay!), and about 20-25 of Simone's friends and family and their parents.

My house and  yard were crawling with people. There were daredevil kids in the front yard jumping and sliding, silly kids splashing each other in the kiddie pool, water-averse kids riding scooters, tricycles and the electric car, giggling girls playing dress-up and house in Simone's room, curious kids looking for kittens under my bed, hungry kids and parents munching hot dogs and nachos, and parents trying to stay cool under trees, under the mister, and inside.

Everyone had a blast and went home tired with a new book to read.

The kittens survived and were glad to be able to make it to their food bowl and litter box unimpeded. Simone made it through, took a short rest (no sleep, just rest), then headed out with a friend to the dog park, sno-cone stand, and McDonald's. She's an insatiable party animal!

Pride, self- and parental-

The pumpkinhead and I went to Chick-fil-a last week, and she met a new friend in the play area. After they played for a while, both girls came out and asked for ice cream. As it turned out, Simone's new friend's grandmother was sitting in the booth behind me. So both girls stood on their knees backward in their respective booths, facing each other while chatting and eating ice cream.

Two six-year-olds can learn more about each other in 10 minutes than a lot of adults can over the course of a first date! They discussed pets, ages, siblings, first grade, Hello Kitty, and whatever else is important to little girls.

Then, apropos of  nothing, Simone made an announcement:  "I can speak English, Spanish, Chinese and French."

Everyone at the two booths (and a couple of other nearby tables) looked at her in shock. Me, because it is kind of an obnoxious thing to say in this context. The new friend's grandmother, I'm guessing maybe for the same reason as me, but she looked a little doubtful that this was a true statement. The new friend, because apparently she did not know that other languages even existed.

The new friend looked a little confused, and asked her grandmother, "What do we speak?" The grandmother told her that they speak only English, and the girl seemed a little disappointed at that news.

Sensing her new friend's disappointment, Simone offered, "My mommy and I can teach you Spanish, because we both know how to speak Spanish." Then she started enunciating, "Ho-la. Ho-la." Her new friend repeated it and asked what it means. Simone told her that it means "hello" in Spanish, and the little girl seemed very happy and proud of herself for learning something so exotic.

Then they both skipped off to the play area again and climbed into the highest tunnel to hide and tell secrets.

I never told the grandmother that Simone knows only a few words - mostly counting to ten, colors, and a few other vocabulary words - of Mandarin and French because I didn't want to diminish Simone's pride in announcing her brilliance to all of Chick-fil-a. And technically, she can speak a little of each language, and is learning more all the time.

But mostly, I didn't say anything because I was just so darn proud of her! Not only is she learning new languages, she's proud of it and wants others to learn along with her.  
A mi me amo a esa nina! 
Wǒ xǐhuan nàgè nǚhái!
J'aime cette fille! 
I love that girl!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Future Politico???

Last month, our city elected some new public officials. Simone had noticed the campaign signs along the streets and asked what they were for. I explained that we would vote for a new mayor and city council members soon. She wanted to see this voting process, so I told her that she could go with me. Then on voting day, she spent time with her dad and I forgot that she wanted to go.  Oops.

Luckily for me, the race for city council seat in my district ended up very close and a run-off election was needed. This was the only race on the ballot, and I'd become interested in this particular race and had a favorite candidate. I also remembered that Simone wanted to go with me. Last week, I told her that we could go vote on Saturday morning. She asked who I would vote for. I told her that I would vote for Chris Hightower because I thought he could do the best job and make the best decisions for our city. She wanted to know what office he was running for and what his job would be if he won, so I explained as best I could what city council members do.

She wanted to know more about Chris Hightower, and asked about him every day last week. I think she may have even made up a song about him. I showed her a picture of him from one of the many mailers I've received over the last few months. She kept the mailer on her table for a few days. She wanted to know where he lives. Weirdly, I knew this (but only because his campaign headquarters is also his home - I'm no stalker!), and pointed out his house one day on the way to swim lessons.

The run-off voting was held yesterday, and of course, Simone and I went to vote. Last night before going to bed, I checked to see if the election returns were in yet. They were, and Chris Hightower lost by a very narrow margin. I told Simone what happened, and she was of course disappointed and wanted to know who this person is who beat her beloved Chris Hightower. I told her that the other candidate is a lady named Lana Wolff. She was quiet for a minute, then with a disgusted look on her face said, "Hmmm. Lana Wolff. I'm going to have to write her a letter. Can you get me her address?"

Look out, Council Member Wolff. You've got an angry young constituent on your hands!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hey, Rocky! Get down from there and watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

When I moved into my house nine years ago, I made the mistake of telling my brother that I was a little freaked out by all the squirrels around here. I've been teased about it since.

Those squirrels just seemed so brazen the way they didn't care that I was the new home owner and continued to jump into my yard for acorns and pecans. Luckily, I've overcome my aversion to the little rodents, and no longer run into the house when they leap out of a tree and into the yard with me. I actually enjoy watching them chase each other along the fence and up and down the trees -- from a distance. I even leave some squirrel treats around the yard for them from time to time.

Yesterday, I heard a weird noise coming from the kitchen. Weird noises are pretty normal around here lately, but I'd never heard this particular noise before, so I went to investigate. This is what I saw out the window above the kitchen sink:
A squirrel had jumped up onto the screen and was hanging on by his back claws while reaching out to get to the bird feeder. He tipped it far enough to let some seed spill onto the porch, then jumped down for lunch. A cardinal even joined him...
A little later, while working in the yard, I left a pile of peanuts a good distance away from my windows for the squirrels. I haven't seen or heard them attacking my windows since.
I've realized this weekend that my squirrel phobia is not completely gone. And with good reason, I think. Just look at his freakish hands. And the size of those toes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another new family member

Last month, we cleaned out our fish tank and I realized the gravel was too nasty to just rinse out. So we made a quick trip to PetSmart for one bag of fish tank gravel. We walked out with this:

Simone loves her:
Aurora did NOT love her. There was much hissing and swatting the first day. After a bit of separation and supervised play, they became the best of friends...
Her name is Pippa Sweetie-Pie Cutie-Patootie (because now they're sisters!) In the month or so that she's been here, she's had three name changes. In fact, both of them have new names now. They're called Beezus and Ramona. Ramona's name is so appropriate. She really is a pest sometimes.

My own personal Cinderella

Not to worry, though. She actually asked, no -- begged -- to do this. And I'll probably let her go to a ball one day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maps -- What a Girl Wants

Simone is fascinated with maps. She uses the globe every day to tell me where Choppy and his sisters have been, and holds random items up next to it to demonstrate Earth's location in the solar system. She draws maps so we can find our way to the library, the grocery store, and wedding showers. She can identify most of the 50 states by shape alone (although the square ones trip most everybody up, I think), and can place all of them in the correct area on an outline of the U.S. She can identify every continent and several South American countries and Caribbean islands. She knows which country is the largest, which state is the smallest, and can point out which states she's visited in her five years on Earth.

The girl LOVES maps. She has no clue that Google Maps even exists, and I'm not planning to tell her any time soon. Otherwise, I might never see her again!

Imagine her ecstasy when I brought home an entire set of National Geographic Close-Up U.S.A. maps. This is a set of about 15 maps, each detailing a different region of the U.S. The maps come in a plastic box with a hard-cover city index so you can find any place you could ever want. They're from 1986 or something, but she doesn't care. They're MAPS!!! And they're all HERS!!!

On Sunday morning while I was making breakfast, she dragged out her box 'o maps in the living room. She told me to hurry up with those waffles so we could "study the maps". She even wanted to make a sign for our front door so that anyone who came by would know that we're "studying maps" in here.

We're a matched set of nerds!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm trying to remember where I was 13 years ago...

The owner of Simone’s day care (where she goes after school) asked me last week whether Simone’s dad has another daughter living elsewhere. I said no – not that I know of. Then she asked whether I have another daughter somewhere. I said no – not that I know of (haha!). 

This line of questioning was getting a little suspect, so naturally I asked her why she was asking me this.
She said that Simone had mentioned her sister earlier that day. Since she was unaware of the existence of a sister, the owner asked her for more information about this mystery sibling. 

Simone told her very matter-of-factly that she has an older sister who is 13 and lives in Africa. 

When I asked Simone about the sister, she said "Yeah, you know my sister. The one who lives in Africa." She even told me the sister's name, but I didn't catch it because my brain was too busy trying to figure out why Simone felt the need to create such a "unique" family member out of the clear blue. Until now, all the imaginary sisters around here have been Choppy's

I just hope this sister doesn't aspire to be president one day. I don't have her birth certificate!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cleveland it's apparently the safest place in the U.S.

After viewing a YouTube video of damages from a tornado that recently hit the town where Simone’s Granny lives (Granny was not affected, thankfully), Simone started to worry about a “twister” invading our space in our own town. She wasn’t totally distraught, so it may have been a bedtime-stalling tactic – but who knows with her, ya know? I tried to reassure her by pointing out that it was a beautiful night and we could see the stars.

"We we’re not having a tornado tonight.", I told her.

She took this to mean that Arlington, TX is exempt from any tornadic* activity, ever. This is certainly not true, and is also not a good impression for a young person to be under. So I further explained that sometimes we have bad storms and it is definitely possible for a tornado to pay us a visit, but if that ever happens, we will go somewhere safe until the tornado goes away. I made sure to let her know that she and I, as well as Choppy and all of our pets will try our best to stay safe. I didn’t elaborate on my actual plan, since it would have required a LOT of explanation, and it was already bedtime – I didn’t need any more questions – so I just left it at “we’ll go somewhere safe”.

She thought about this for a minute, and looked at me a little perplexed. “Where will we go, Mommy? To Ohio?”

Uhhhhh...No, not Ohio.

So I had to let her in on the plan, which is to hide in her bathtub with her mattress over our heads (that’s still what you should do, right?). Hopefully the animals will cooperate, although the fish may have to fend for themselves if worse comes to worst. That tub is already getting overcrowded.

* - My spell-check says "tornadic" is not a word, but I hear weather forecasters use it all the time. Sorry, spell-check. I'm going with The Weather Channel's vernacular here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A twirly skirt...

Made from two bandannas and part of a huge men's t-shirt. And of course my new(ish) sewing machine that has been sitting in the corner being lonely and unused since I bought it several months ago. I got a little carried away with the shirt, but I like the results. And I think my model does, too.

Instructions found here.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reading with a new friend

Our library hosted an event today where kids can read to a dog. The dogs are from  Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) and are trained to sit quietly and listen to kids read. Honestly, when I think about how mind-numbing it can get to listen to three-letter words being sounded out, I think I might need to go through this training course myself.

Simone wasn't sure what kind of harebrained scheme I'd dreamed up when I asked her earlier this week if she would read a book to a dog at the library, and she initially told me that she didn't want to take part.

Now she's glad she did, and she wants to go back next month to finish reading Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus to her new friend Schatzie!

Friday, March 4, 2011

How I set examples for my kid...

The school nurse called today to let me know that Simone was complaining that her ear hurts and she probably has an ear infection. So her dad picked her up and I called the doctor and got us squeezed in this afternoon. I left work at lunch time, stopped for a drink (not the happy hour kind, but just a non-alcoholic soda) and did a couple of errands before I met them at the doctor's office.

While we were waiting in the examining room (forever), Simone saw a model showing how atherosclerosis can affect an artery over time. The cross-section was divided into several lengths, each showing a different level of blockage. It was pink-ish and plastic-y, so I guess it was interesting to Simone. She asked what it was, so I got it from the shelf and told her that it shows what might happen to your arteries when you eat too many unhealthy foods and don't exercise. I also took the opportunity to remind her what some healthy food choicess are - fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, and water to drink.

She looked up at me with a worried look and wailed, "So why did you just go to Sonic and get a Dr. Pepper?!?!?!"

Ahhhhh...caught red handed! I never said all my examples were good ones. I guess if I had gone to happy hour, I could at least have claimed my red wine had antioxidants!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So is she still a pumpkinhead?

Today is Dr. Suess' birthday, and to celebrate, the students at Simone's school were allowed to ditch their uniforms for the day and dress as their favorite character from a story book. Since I had exactly one day to prepare for this, I thought about three books with characters that would be somewhat easy to replicate with things from around the house, and let her choose. She chose Daisy-Head Maizey.

Maizey wears a pink dress throughout the story. Not surprisingly, Simone has many pink dresses. Maizey sprouts a white daisy on her head very early in the story. Weirdly, we've had a fake white chrysanthemum hanging around the house for about a year. I have no idea where it came from, but it won't go away. I hot-glued that thing to a green pipe cleaner and stuck it in her ponytail this morning.

I give you...Daisy-Head Pumpkinhead...

I have no idea why she looks so scared. I guess I'd be scared too if a flower sprouted out of my head.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sorry, Dad. I tried...

A few weeks ago I got a song stuck in my head. I was singing it around the house all the time. I was humming it to myself at the office. I couldn’t get rid of this song. And all I could remember was a line or two of the chorus. 

Around day two or so of non-stop singing, Simone finally asked me where I learned that song and why I’m singing it so much. I told her that I learned it when I was a little girl like her. It is a Waylon Jennings song that was popular on the radio in the seventies, and I’d heard part of it recently and couldn’t stop singing it. She is usually interested in what I did when I was a little girl. She thinks it’s kinda cool that I used to watch Scooby-Doo and that Wonder Woman and Batman were around way back when. It’s possible that she believes I had a pet dinosaur back then. Maybe she would become a Waylon fan. At least a fan of his music.

Meanwhile, I’m still singing away all the time. And I can’t sing very well.

So I finally went onto iTunes to find the song. I found a whole album of Waylon’s greatest hits and bought it. The song that had been haunting me was on it, as well as some others that I’d forgotten about, including the Dukes of Hazzard. Yay!

The next morning, we were getting ready for work and school, and I was once again singing that song. Simone was getting a little tired of my one-line version, so I pulled out the iPod and found the actual song. I told her that I found the song I used to listen to when I was a little girl, and she was actually interested to hear it. So I turned it on to let her hear Waylon singing “Rainy Day Woman”. If you’ve ever heard the song, you’ll remember that it starts out with several bars of a steel guitar. Very twang-y 70’s country music. I think that’s the reason I like it so much. I like the twang.

Apparently, Simone doesn’t appreciate the twang as much as I do. When she heard the steel guitar, she immediately put her hands over her ears and closed her eyes like it was nails on a chalkboard. She didn’t even make it to the lyrics so she could hear Waylon singing the 10 or so words that I’d tortured her with for a week. Probably for the best. That girl just gets things sometimes, and she doesn’t need to catch on to what exactly his “Rainy Day Woman” is. But I’ll try again with some other twang-y songs.

Oh, well. So she’s not going to be a Waylon fan. That’s OK. After all, he’s an Outlaw, and Simone doesn’t need any outside help with rebellion. She’s good on her own.

Party on, Waylon. Simone’s not listening…

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I don't need no stinkin' rules...

The pumpkinhead’s school requires that returning students register for the next school year in January. So I currently have a ream of paper to read and fill out. Maybe it’s just eight pages, but it seems like a lot because I have to look up Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, drivers license numbers, e-mail addresses, blah, blah, blah…

One of the forms is an acknowledgment that the parents and child fully understand the school’s expectations of its students. Both parent and student have to sign this. I explained to Simone that she will need to sign the paper.

Then I explained what “sign” means.

I told her that we write our names on a paper to show that we understand and will do what it says. I told her that this paper says that in order for her to go to her school for first grade next year, she will need to:
  • Listen to her teacher and pay attention in class
  • Follow the rules of the classroom and the school
  • Work hard and do all of her work
  • Get along with other students
  • Ask for help if she needs it
  • Tell her teacher or Mom and Dad if there is a problem that she can't work out with a classmate
 After telling her all of this, I gave her the pen and showed her where to sign. She looked at me like I was a loon and said “No. I don’t want to sign that.

She’s a rebel.