Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Unedited 'Bad Santa' Is More His Speed

Watching Scrooge, the musical starring Albert Finney.

Calvin says, "This is going to make me throw up."

Me: Why? It's a musical. They're SUPPOSED to spontaneously burst into song and dance.

Him: It's all the men's legs flying around in colored tights and all the fluttering toes and gushing songs about love.

Me: It's cheerful. I like it. You're ruining it for me.

Him: *sigh* Fine. You're right, it's just great. I feel exuberant and infused with glee.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Santa.....

It's late, no doubt, but our little sprout has turned in her Yuletide requisition form. This might be my favorite so far.

The envelope (home made) is addressed to "Santa Claus (maybe?)" and the letter is as follows:

"Dear Santa Claus,

Did you have a good summer in the Bahamas? Is Mrs. Claus okay? Are you real? Because I'm not sure I believe in you anymore, but I'm willing to be convinced. Feel free to answer back in your defense.

In case you are real, here's what I want for Christmas:

1. A new set of Lincoln Logs.

2. The Nintendo Dogs DS game.

3. Better gloves THAT ARE NOT PINK.

4. New Lizzie Maguire PJs. Mom says I have to throw mine out just because they're too small and have holes. I'm hanging on to them as tight as I can and arguing a lot but I'm losing.

5. Another Webkinz THAT IS NOT PINK.

6. A couple hundred bucks.

7. Tickets to Australia.

8. A personal bag of marshmallows.

9. A truckload of animal figurines.

10. A "no homework" pass.

11. A new pen for my DS.

12. Euro.

13. A slingshot.

14. A science lab.

15. A wood working kit.

16. Electronic Hangman game.

17. Apples to Apples

18. A new blue elephant shirt. I'm losing that battle too.

19. A paintball gun.

Love, Caroline

P.S. I'm sorry the list is so long. I hope it's not inconvenient. "


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mayhap, We'll Do A Moose For Christmas


I've started brining the turkey for Thanksgiving, and every day I have to go and turn the turkey and check to make sure it's thawing properly and that the level of wine, water and spices stays high enough to keep the whole thing covered.

And today I invited Caroline to go with me to the icebox to look while I turn and check the bird. She really doesn't like turkey, but lately I have been letting her observe and help with the cooking and prep; I figure if she's involved in the kitchen, then she'll be more likely to appreciate the art that goes into cooking and, in turn, this picky little eater will be more likely to actually eat.


Now, I'm pretty sure she only agreed to go and watch because, hello, she is 9 and there are raw body parts on display (fascinating stuff, carnage) but that's OK. Not to worry. Everyone just stand back and watch the Mommy-Magic--I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING.

So, I opened the icebox, flipped the turkey over, and began explaining to her what spices I've used and what I'm looking for every day during the brining. Just at that most opportune moment, a nice, large, black peppercorn floated out of the turkey's tail end.


She performed a rapid about-face and went screaming back to Calvin,


So much for my brilliant little plan. Damn.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of All The Things To Retain


Saturday night Calvin and I took Caroline to the theater to see the new animated version of A Christmas Carol.

This morning she was walking around with her two favorite stuffed toys and she, very stony-faced, informed me that their names have been changed.

No longer are they Violet the Pink Elephant and Sirius the Webkinz Dog. Now? Now they are known as "Ignorance" and "Want".

And they seem to be on her shit list.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Like The Wind

Here's my baby---first place in her age group (4-9), ahead of all the other girls, and ahead of all the boys too.

There were a few moments in there when I wanted to stop and I KNOW Caroline did. At one point on a particularly long hill she said,

"Mommy, I have a stitch AND I'm hungry and they're combining to MAKE ME MISERABLE!"

"Do you want to stop and walk?" I asked.

"NO!" And she ran faster.

I could not be more proud of my little warrior. She inspires me.

I'm so proud of you, Caroline! And I loved running the Great Pumpkin Race with you.

Catching a falling leaf.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Now, She's Got The Idea

We're driving into the gym parking lot tonight when from the back seat:



"You know what I wish?"

"You want to clean your room. You can't wait."


"Um..ok. You hope I'll get you up early tomorrow morning so you can do your chores before school."


"You wish that all elephants were named Irwin."

(evil glare through the rear view mirror)

"Ok...ok. What do you wish?"

"I wish that eating candy would give us big muscles and a healthy heart. And I wish that eating healthy stuff would make you really fat."

"But I like healthy stuff. I wouldn't want to gain 10 lbs. if I ate more than one salad a week."

"Well, I've got that problem covered. If you get fat, you can just go have a massage. While the massage is happening, you'd be getting thinner and thinner and healthier and healthier. You'd only need one hour per 5 pounds."

"Really...huh. But massages are pretty expensive. What if someone out there LOVES ONLY VEGETABLES, eats veggies and fruit for every meal, and has a lot of weight to lose? It might cost them a lot of money. What about those people if they can't afford it?"

"In my world there's massage insurance for anyone who wants it."

Folks, I just want to say that this kid?

This kid who just invented the world we all want?

The world where we get massages on a daily basis in order to combat all those salads we might eat?

This kid is mine.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

And My Generation Ate Top Ramen

So Caroline came to me and Calvin this morning, and in a very business-like tone, hands on hips, back ram-rod straight, requested that we come up with a chart of her chores and a plan for allowance.

Oh yeah, I guess we knew this was coming. It's allowance time, Baby!

So after a quick glance at each other, we told her we'd talk it over, and come up with a schedule and a plan. After that we'd get back to her so the three of us could discuss it and finalize an arrangement we could all agree on.

"Good" she said, nodding approvingly, “Because I think it's time I started saving for my university."

(short pause while Calvin and I look at each other with pride)

"And Mega Gumballs" she finished, "I'm going to need plenty of those in college."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine, You Make Me Happeeeeee....!

This morning before Calvin left he came to kiss me and Caroline good bye, tell us he loved us and then tell Caroline to be good in school. Caroline responded with "Goodbye Daddy! I love you! Don't get fired!" You know....the usual routine.

But this time after he left, she looked at me and said,

"Mom, it's really sad when Dad has to leave in the morning. It's like watching the sun disappear."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hey Freud, Analyze THIS!

This morning, as I was walking Caroline to her bus stop:

"Mom, I had an interesting dream last night."

"Oh yeah? What about?"

"Well, I dreamed that I was really hungry, and I looked down at my arm and it swelled up really big and my forearm split open!"

Me: *gasp*

"And that's not all! When it split open, there was feast inside!"


"Yes, it was like my arm was a food machine! I could just reach in and pull out food and eat it. Whatever I wanted! I was just pulling out a dinner roll and was about to eat it when my alarm went off."

"You sound disappointed that you alarm went off."

"Well, yeah! Wouldn't you be?"

"No, I think I would be happy my alarm went off. I think I would find that dream disgusting."

She sighs, shaking her head, "Oh, Mom! You could never cut it in my dream world."


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Of Crooked Teeth And Broken Hearts

My heart is, if not broken, at least fractured a little bit.

Caroline came to me last night with tears in her eyes and told me she's "depressed". I asked her why and she told me that she is "very lonely" at school. She has a friend she sometimes hangs out with, but this little girl is rather popular and naturally also has many other friends to take up her time. This is understandable, of course, and Caroline knows this, but it also leaves her alone a lot of the time.

And like any parent would, I asked her why she doesn't make other friends so she always has other poeple to lean on when her favorite is off doing her own thing. I expected her answer would be a shrug and an "I don't know", because I've just faced it: Caroline is a very one-on-one kind of person. She, like her mother and father both, is generally uncomfortable in a crowd and prefers the company and conversation of one person at a time; she's a little shy. And so what?

Her answer surprised me, though.

"Because everyone hates me."

"What? How can EVERYONE HATE you?"

"They do!"

"But how do you know they hate you?"

"Because they make fun of me and when they're not making fun of me, they're looking at me like I'm crazy, or just ignoring me."

Now, as her mother, I find this just absurd. How can anyone make fun of this beautiful, smart, loving little girl? She lives to laugh and make people happy. She has a fantastic sense of humor and a brilliant imagination. What's to make fun of?

So I ask her:
"What do they make fun of?"

"They make fun of the books I read, and they look at me like I'm crazy when I talk about animals and science, and they make fun of me for the words I use because they say I'm showing off. And they make fun of my teeth."

Alright.....on the first three counts, I think it goes without saying what is actually behind those attacks. It's not worth discussing or dignifying the human tendency to shun what people don't understand or are jealous of. And I explained this to her; what else could I do?

As for the latter, the teeth? Caroline is a normal 8-year old who is in the process of losing and growing teeth. Like many 8-year olds, her teeth are not coming in straight. They're quite crooked, as a matter of fact, and she is probably going to need braces. But even with those teeth, which look like they can chomp up the world faster than a set of ginzu knives, she's still a beautiful girl. Her perfect olive complexion, her sparkling turquoise eyes, her long eyelashes, her adorable little nose (thanks to her Grandma Barbara) and her high-cheekbones (thanks also to Calvin's Native American family) are stunning.

There is nothing wrong with her. Nothing at all.

Having been made fun of myself, for most of my childhood, for my hair (which was too short) or my clothes (which were too poor) or my freckles (which were too numerous) or any number of other things, I can understand her loneliness and her dread at going back.

And it makes me sad. Sure it might build character, sure it might happen to a lot of kids, and sure I am clearly OK having been through it myself. I learned to like myself and survived without scars; I have never climbed to the top of a belltower and started dropping people with a rifle, and I have never stood up in church and announced that I hope the president dies and goes to hell.

But the point is, having been through it, I know the misery it brings when you know that the people you have to spend all day and year with can't stand you. I know what it feels like to walk down the hall and know people are whispering about you. And I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and hate what you can't help.

I am a firm believer that kids have to work out their own problems at school, so long as there is no violence involved, and so I won't march down to the office and embarrass her by demanding that all the kids be nice to my baby. It would only make things worse for her in the long run. All I can do is be there for her, to listen and to reassure her that this will pass. All I can do is explain that what other people think of her is really none of her business, and the only people whose opinions she ought to worry about are her own and those of the people who have proven that they love her and won't judge her based on silly things like her vocabulary, her reading level and......stupidest of all.....her teeth. I don't know how much of my reassurance is soaking in, but it's all I can do.

In the meantime, until she's stronger and has developed a thicker skin and an inner confidence, I will sit and watch and listen. And I have to tell you, it is painful watching this happen to her. Physically, in-the-gut painful. I would gladly take on this burden for her if I could. I'd gladly go through it all again, if I knew it would do her any good.

Being a parent, while mostly full euphoria and laughter, also has to be one of the hardest things I've ever been through. I watched her get on the bus this morning, her little Chuck Taylors taking giant steps to climb the bus stairs and her little blue backpack behind her. She seemed her cheerful and optimistic self again, having talked it out.

I am hopeful that today will be a better day for her and she'll come home with a big crooked-tooth grin on her beautiful face.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Some Fruits Are Just Cool-Headed


Caroline and I were in the commissary a few days ago and she was "helping" me select vegetables and fruits. This is a favorite activity for her lately. She used to bring her book to the commissary and would read it while waiting up front for me to finish the shopping. These days, she's my little shadow, asking me how to tell if this fruit is good or if that vegetable is ripe enough. She wants to know what I'm going to do with this or that, and how long it will keep in the fridge; she has really taken an interest in the daily domestic minutiae. She's also growing more confident in her abilities to choose produce and will tell me in no uncertain terms when she feels I've picked a too-ripe banana bunch or some slighty-past-their peak onions. This can be a nuisance when I'm in a hurry, but mostly I find this a cool development. My baby is telling me that she'll be a teenager in a few years, and she will make the best personal shopping slave ever.

Anyway, while we were looking at pomegranates, I heard someone call my name and I turned to see one of the teachers from Caroline's school waving at me. I walked over to the teacher and we, having not seen each other in a few months, had plenty to talk about and began a newsy conversation. It was probably too lengthy a talk for Caroline though, as she was very intent on the task at hand and clearly wanted my attention. I kept putting her off each time she'd say, "Um...mom.....?" and ask me a question about this veggie or that fruit with "Just a minute, Sweetheart."

So at some point, she decided she'd had enough and maybe it would help move me along if she'd just raise her voice a little bit. That's when I hear her shouting from across the fruit section while holding up a wrinkled little ball, "Hey MOM! See this passionfruit? It sure doesn't look very PASSIONATE, does it! It looks the OPPOSITE OF PASSIONATE, I'd say! Right, Mom? They ought to call it an UGLYFRUIT! It's SO WRINKLY! This is NOT PASSIONATE!"


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hope Tricare Covers This


Caroline built a 'hospital' in her room for her stuffed animals. She says this guy had pink-eye. And it spread to his butt.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Obviously When You're Going To Be 9, Three Months Is Nothin'.


Most days lately, Caroline wakes up, hugs me, kisses me and then excitedly reminds me "Mom, my birthday is almost here!".

Her birthday is October 30th.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And I Hope It Never Changes


Caroline, today you were silly. I loved it. You walked around the commissary with me, serenading me with an on-the-spot made-up song about pineapples, chickens and mold spores.
You had me doubled-over laughing with your ever-ready and quirky humor.

And I love how easily you "get" things and are made to laugh yourself. Hearing you laugh is the best sound I can think of.

That's it. I just wanted to record this, since these are some of my favorite things about you.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bliss Is Short-Lived


A conversation between Caroline and myself while we were sitting in the movie theater last night, waiting for Ice Age 3 to begin:



"Do you know what I'd do if I were the ruler of the world?"


"I'd make sure all the homeless people got some food that very instant. All the starving children and their moms and dads would get food."


"Yeah, lots of food for anyone who needs it. That way moms wouldn't have to watch their babies be hungry."

"That's a really good daydream, Honey. I wish you ruled the world."

"Yeah. Also, kids would be able to drive."

"Kids? Like, how old?"

"Any age they want!"

"Um...are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Yes! I know I can drive! Kids can drive!"

(blank stare)

"What? I'm making starving people happy too!"

"Until they are hit by cars."


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DNA Through the Eyes Of An 8-Year Old


Caroline and the things she thinks of out of the blue! She was eating breakfast this morning, and this is how the conversation went:

"Mommy, how many people am I related to by blood?"

"You're related to a lot of people by blood. I can't name them ALL. Why do you ask?"

"Because I was just curious. I'm related to you and Daddy by blood, right?"


"But you and Daddy are not related by blood?"

"We hope not."

"That's confusing. And my Uncle Gordon? I'm related to him by blood?"


"But not my Aunt Tanya?"

"Right. She's family, but we're related to her by her marriage to Uncle Gordon, not by blood."

"Oh..." (sounding disappointed)

(and perking back up again)

"Well, but I share blood with you, right Mom?"

"Yes, you do. But I should clarify..... it's not actual BLOOD we're talking about when we talk about being related by blood. It's more a matter of genes. We share genes, which are---"

"Yeah, I know, the instructions in my cells."

"Right, more or less. So you share genes with me and Daddy because we put our genes together to make you, and that's what we mean when we say 'blood'."

"It's kind of weird knowing that the stuff I'm made of was once a part of you."

"Pretty neat the way it works, huh? How does that make you feel?"



Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Gave Birth To An X-Acto Knife.

So other than Caroline being Calvin's miniature spitting image, there was one more incident this week which added to the long line of incidents that have sealed the Envelope of The Undeniable; this kid is more him than me. Indeed, other than her inability to get through a day without injuring herself repeatedly, it is becoming clearer and clearer that I was simply her feeding-machine for the 80 months that I carried her in my womb.

Background: Calvin can't cook. Well, ok...he can, but only if there are VERY. SPECIFIC. INSTRUCTIONS.
In the absence of painstakingly specific instructions, he won't even acknowledge that anything can be done with those broccoli florets in the crisper. And taking those cookies out one minute before hand to ensure they stay soft? NO, THE DIRECTIONS DID NOT SAY SO! Adding a splash of chicken broth to the stir-fry instead of ONE EXACTLY-MEASURED tablespoon? Did the directions say to do that? THEN, NO! YOU CANNOT!

In short, cooking is no joy for this man. Even a frozen pizza becomes an endeavor performed on the most treacherous ledge. The pizza will be left in for EXACTLY the 12 minutes the directions say; no more, no less. You want to leave it in an extra minute or two for a crispier crust? Tough, the directive from the proper authority was not given.

Well, guess who inherited Daddy's refusal to take culinary risks?

The other day, she got a treat: one of those Kid Cuisine frozen meals. You know the ones, right? The ones you wish you hadn't read the nutrition label on because you then realize that feeding one to your kid is pretty much the same as giving her a heroin needle, slapping her on the back and saying "Go nuts, Buddy!"? Yes, those.

So she's in the kitchen and she's reading the directions and following them exactly (taking things out of the tray, microwaving, taking the tray out, stirring, adding the previously-removed items, putting it back in....etc) when suddenly she runs across a direction that has Mommy putting breaks on. The photo on the front shows the little fried death-patty in a bun with the whole thing cut in half seemingly at the same time. But the directions...those diabolical directions...seem to call for the cutting of the bun and the fried death patty separately before the joining of the six peices back together again. And, according to the directions, she was about to get a knife, cut the patty in half, then cut the bun in half top-to-bottom (it's already halved length-wise) and then assemble the whole thing back the way it should be. This seemed a waste of time to me (as well as an unnecessary prolonging of the time she's holding a knife), when the patty can just be put IN the bun and the whole thing cut ONCE at the SAME TIME. And I pointed this out to her. See, I said air-demonstrating, you can just put the whole thing together and THEN cut. It'll come out more evenly and save you some cutting! Voila!

"No, Mommy, look! The directions don't say to do that! They say to do it THIS WAY."

"Caroline, I'm only showing you an easier way. Directions don't always have to be followed exactly."

And that's when her head exploded.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Maybe We Should Call The CDC.



(3 second pause)


"Yes? What is it?"

"This computer is moving very slowly. It keeps freezing up on me!"

"I know, honey. It does that to me and Daddy too. You'll just have to be patient with it."

"But WHY?"

"Because it's old and full of big files and there isn't a lot of memory left."

"Are you sure it didn't catch one of those germs?"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Trip And The Time Since

Yes, clearly it's been more than awhile since I posted here. Not because there isn't much going on....indeed, there is ALWAYS something going on with Caroline...but because I have been going through this phase of not being able to concentrate on anything for more than two minutes. No focus whatsoever. Nada. It does make things rather difficult, as you can imagine. And why? Adult onset ADD maybe? That lingering crack problem perhaps? Or just too much coffee? Well, I cut out the mere three cups of coffee and tea I was drinking (per week) and here I am posting once again, so I guess it's safe to continue with the crack.

In the haze of the last few months though, while promising myself I'd write down all the noteworthy stuff Caroline said, I procrastinated until I forgot most of it. Let this be a lesson to me. My mom was right: Write It Down!

Here's a quick run-down of the events instead: In April, Calvin's brother, Gordon and our sister-in-law, Tanya, came to visit. It was decided that because their visit was so short and they might not come again before we left, we should fit as many things into 9 days as possible. And did we ever! In 9 days we saw Paris, Venice, Florence and we did the obligatory tour of Stuttgart as well as made a visit to the Fruehling (Spring) Fest. It was great fun that went by all too fast. We really hated to see Tanya and Gordon go back home. We kept offering to keep them. They only had to be willing to give up their gorgeous, custom-built and immaculately clean house, as well as their glamorous single-people life of wine parties, street fests, exciting, cultured friends and loud sex whenever they wanted, to stay here with us. It's a complete mystery that they didn't take us up on it.

Throughout the whole trip, Caroline was wonderful. It's not easy for an 8-year old to get up early, walk all day, change a million trains, planes and automobiles, stay up late every night and still be well-behaved for 9 days straight. But if any kid can do it, Caroline can, and did. It really comes in handy to have a kid who's genuinely interested in history and culture. She was actually excited to see the Louvre, the Acadaemia and the winery (where she squawked at chickens and played with the owner's dog....and held a funeral for a dead baby bird she found). In between sites and scenes, she happily plowed through the the last 4 Harry Potter books in their entirety. I am so thankful that we've got such a kid. Other than the occasional smart-ass attitude she's got (it's astounding to behold when she gets going) and a penchant for dry sarcasm (she's admirably adept at this) that leaves me speechless sometimes, she's very easy to get along with. It's fortunate, too; that trip would have been impossible otherwise. This, by the way, is one of the reasons we're not having any more kids. The next one would surely be a little hellion, the universe's way of reminding us we had an unfair advantage the first go-round. I know it.

Here are some photos of the trip:

Other than that, our lives have been taken up with Caroline's numerous activities. Piano, Running Club, Baseball, Guitar and Robotics Club. My school is still a big factor that takes up a lot of time too, of course. I think we overbooked the season. This summer we'll have to make up for it by staying home, sleeping 'till noon, and eating popsicles all day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thank You, Caroline....

....for kicking my lungs and ribs so hard I couldn't breathe sometimes. The first time you did, I was in the bath tub and it was the first time I'd ever felt you really kick like that. I knew you were going to be strong.

Thank you for each and every labor pain, even the ones that were so bad that I was made delirious and unable to scream or cry or move.

Thank you for every sleepless night spent walking you around, patting your tiny back, waiting for your tiny burp.

Thank you for every dirty diaper, and for every time you peed in the diaper I'd *just* put on.

Thank you for every bit of spit-up in my hair and on my shirt. You taught me that vanity is nothing next to the love you feel for your child.

Thank you for every fit you threw as a toddler, every bit of food I had to scrape off the floor and every crayon mark I had to remove from the walls.

Thank you for every midnight ER visit and every time you wet the bed when you were sick because you were too out-of-it to get up and go to the toilet.

Thank you for every morning Daddy and I didn't get to sleep in because you decided that it was a sunny day and time to get up.

Thank you for every smart-alec reply and every back-talk.

Thank you for all the Goldfish crackers I've had to vacuum off the car floor and all the mud I've had to clean up off the house floors.

Thank you for all the days I couldn't go out with my friends because you had a basketball game or a piano lesson or a Robotics meeting.

Up until today I have only thanked you when you behave, when you smile, when you're kind, when you're considerate, when you laugh, when you're funny, when you're "good". But when the realization comes upon me that one day you'll leave our house and go out on your own, it occurs to me that I'm grateful for all the rest too, and I am and always will be so, incredibly, unfailingly grateful for every moment I have with you. No matter what you're doing or saying, and no matter what action I have to take because of it. I love you when you're messy; I love you when you're cranky; I love you when you're ornery; I love you when you're selfish; I love you when you refuse to clean that room.
And when the day comes that you'll fly away, none of those things will be enough to keep me from wanting you back with all my heart.

Thank you for being my daughter all the way, and everything that comes with it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Every Good Barbarian Has One


This morning in the bathroom as I'm combing her hair.

"Mommy? Do you know what I reeeeally want? What I've always wanted but have never got?"

"Um...yes. That pyramid toy you keep talking about. Everyone knows about that."

"No. I mean, yes. I want that. But there's something else that's even more important to me and I would do almost anything if you would get one for me for my birthday."

"Oh yeah? What is it?"


Sunday, March 8, 2009

What The Future Holds

A few weeks ago, we took a very short trip back to the states, where we visited my family for exactly a day and a half, and Calvin's family for 2 days.

Caroline was looking incredibly forward to seeing my parents, to whom she's very close, and got to spend a whole 4 hours with them before SHE STARTED THROWING UP.

Yes, after that miserably long trip, complete with frequent train changes, a cramped air plane, screaming brats running up and down the aisles and kicking flight-attendants, bad food, and a long drive to NC, and Caroline behaving impeccably throughout the whole thing, that poor kid was gifted by the universe with a miserable stomach flu. She had a high fever and was able only to lay on the sofa and dream of the Disney store she otherwise was promised a trip to.


Well, mom and I did make a trip to the Disney store for Caroline and brought her back an armload of gifts from both there and A REAL BOOKSTORE, another place Caroline had hoped to visit. Still, it wasn't the same. I wish we could have stayed longer. Sadly though, the next stop was to Calvin's hometown where we spent the next two days visiting his mother in the nursing home where she is recovering from a leg break.

So, I'm sorry, Caroline. That trip was really no fun for you at all. Next time, huh?

Before she got sick though, we had dinner with my parents. During which, I learned about my daughters future hopes and career aspirations.

My Dad: So Caroline, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?

Caroline: Yes! In fact, I have a list!

MD: A list! What's on it?

C: A lot of things!

MD: Like what? What's number 5?

C: An archaeologist.

MD: Number four?

C: A veterinarian.

MD: Number 3?

C: An astronaut.

MD: Two?

C: A paleontologist.

MD: And number one?



Friday, January 30, 2009

Grace and Brains

Well! The big day came! The Spelling Bee arrived.

My darling Caroline. I could not be more proud of you. You added a "K" to the end of "Frolic" and so did not make it to the final rounds........but you took the chance and you made it this far.

You got up there, you stood tall, and you spoke clearly. It didn't matter that you were the tiniest one on the stage and that your little green shoes dangled a foot above the floor when you sat in your seat. It didn't matter that you have been nervous to the point of nausea since yesterday. You did it.

Your class was proud of you, as evidenced by the posters they made, and the gifts some of them brought for you, and the love note one boy left in your mail box that read: "Good luck at the spelling bee. I love you.", [Whoa, are they starting them early! ;o)] and they supported you with cheers and pats on the back. You took this all with grace and humility.

And when you were eliminated and had to sit down, you behaved beautifully. You didn't mope or cry. You sat calmly, you continued to cheer for those still up, and you took your medal at the end with a smile on your face. You're a class act, Caroline. I wanted to hold you up and remind everyone that you are MY DAUGHTER.

Congratulations on making it this far, and congratulations on learning the lesson that many adults still don't know: how to bow out gracefully and be happy for the winner. You rock.

Your dad and I love you.

*pictures to follow when the desktop is back in service after the move*

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spelling Bees, Breakfast Orders and Elton John

Well, once again it's been awhile since I sat down to do this. But that doesn't mean that nothing's been happening. On the contrary, every day with Caroline is interesting, and this morning was no exception.

At 4:30am I woke up because the hall light outside our bedroom came on, causing me to dream that I was being interrogated in a dark room by the Inquisition, Stuttgart Chapter.

When I came to and my eyes focused, there was Caroline standing in the door way staring at us. I asked her what she was doing up so early and she replied (in a chirpy way entirely unsuited to the time) that she'd been up since three, was fully dressed, and would like breakfast now if we didn't mind.

Mind? Nah.....

I asked her to please go back to her room and try to lay down for awhile, because ONLY CATS AND OLD PEOPLE ARE UP THIS EARLY. Being the giving person she is, she trotted cheerily back to her room, read her books and waited until we woke up again at 6.

When I got up, I saw that before I'd ever woke and noticed her standing in our doorway earlier, she'd written us a note containing her "breakfast order" and left it on our dresser.

It read: I would like a chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, banana shake for breakfast, please.

Who IS this kid that she's playing today? Normally getting her up before 11 am is as easy as trying to make a republican say NUCLEAR properly. And she made a breakfast order? On paper? And nowhere on the order did I see the foods Gummi Hamburgers or Kinder Eggs? I am growing increasingly suspicious of that brownie I ate last night.

Bizarre early risings aside, it's been a pretty tame 30-ish days since my last posting.

Caroline has learned to play Sudoku, and is reguarly whooping the ass of the whatever board her DS pulls up. I'm a little hooked on it too, which is causing me to compete with my child to see whose turn it is to use the video game.

Christmas and New Year were fun. Christmas was spent at a resort down south in Allgau. For five days we let others do our cooking and cleaning for us as we lounged around, drank wine, swam, sat in the sauna and watched German Christmas concerts. We came back late Christmas afternoon, opened presents and sat around snuggling and relaxing for the remaining 4 days until Calvin had to return to work. It stunk when he did, as we hadn't had him to ourselves for that long a stretch in I-can't-remember-how-long. It was niiiiiiice to have him home. Wish we had a break like that far more often.

For New Year we had some guests over; our neighbors Alex and Tom & kids Mila and Luca, as well as some new friends my mom distance-introduced us to, Bonni, Jim & their daughters Ashley and Haley. They all joined us for a redneck buffet (black-eyed peas, collards, ham, salad and pizza) on New Year's Eve, and stayed the night with us watching fireworks and holding sparklers. It was a great way to get to know and spend time with them. And as Bonni & Jim & Co. were automobile-less (as of yet) they were pretty much a captive audience, leaving us free to overwhelm them with chatter and bombard them with shamelessly nosy questions. Mwa-hahahaha..! They did take it well though, which means they're allowed to come over again.

The kids all got along well, and they all found Calvin to be a huge instrument conducive to rambunctious fun. He makes for a nice set of monkey bars (I knew this, but most people don't) and he's very fast and hard to catch when one is chasing him (I knew this too).......unless he's had a few glasses of champagne, at which point he just stops running away and becomes a willing set of monkey bars again. Calvin, The Kid Magnet.

Caroline and Mila playing make-believe with their Playmobil sets.

For academic news: For the last few months, we knew that Caroline's school would be holding a spelling bee. And Calvin and I both have tried and tried to talk her into it. Her teacher has too. To no avail. She just won't, she says. She's too embarrassed to stand up in front of people and spell words. We were disappointed, naturally, because we know her talents lay in writing, reading and spelling more than any other subjects. But we also know you can't push a kid who's unwilling, or they grow up and turn out to be that relative we all have that we don't talk about. The one who thinks he's Ghengis Kahn and talks to light sockets.

Mr. Zappey, though....Mr. Zappey decided to try one more time to give her a little nudge toward it. He did this on the day of the event, just before the class headed to the auditorium. And what do you think? Not only did she agree finally to do it, but she came away in the top four. One of the only four students to spell all three of her words in the preliminaries correctly. AND the only girl of those four winners. Her words were, as she related to us, "Complex", "Elephant" and "Screen". Of course, anyone who knows Caroline well knows this could have been a disaster, as she could have spelled Elephant one of five ways: Violet, George, Jim, Rose, or Paul. But she chose the universal way....E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T. And now the finals will be on the 30th of the month. Stayed tuned for the results. Whatever happens, it should be said that I'm just incredibly proud that she got up there. My kid rocks. Have I said that before? She just rocks.

The herd that goes everywhere with us.

Speaking of Mr. Zappey, Caroline came home the other day and breathlessly told me "Mom, I've got some very sad news."

"What news?" I asked, prepared for some seriously bad news.

"Mr. Zappey is getting married! To Mrs. Shives, the teacher next door!"

"And why is this bad news? They're both really nice--aren't you happy they've found eachother?"

"No! I don't want to have to start calling Mr. Zappey MR. SHIVES!"

Later that night she sat down and began to write a memoir "Mr. Zappey Is Getting Married and Other Catastrophes".

Today is Friday, thankfully. 'Cause that weekend just can't come soon enough.

Tonight I'm taking Caroline to see Swan Lake, performed by the Russian Ballet who are in town for a short time. Our friend Kristina was kind enough to arrange these tickets and gift them to us. Thank you Kristina! I'm eager to take Caroline to this. My mom took me to the ballet of Sleeping Beauty when I was 4 and I remember being so fascinated that I thought of very little else but being a ballerina for a few years. In the end, I picked a much cooler career. One that would allow me to occasionally eat.

Incidentally, Caroline is going through an Elton John phase. Her particular favorite is Crocodile Rock. Watching her rock out to this in the back of the car is worth every time I have to hear that supremely annoying song. She's just too charming.

Lastly, before I end this, I'd like to send a Happy Birthday out to my little brother, Jonathan, who is and always has been too big for his britches, but who makes me laugh like no one else and was the only baby I ever knew that I loved as much as I love my own daughter. I love you, Jon-son and I am so grateful for every year with you. XO