Monday, May 29, 2006

There Will Be No Eyeball Sucking

For a long time I've resisted the temptation to take the girls to a Build-a-Bear Workshop. This place seemed like the ultimate fleece the parent attraction. I knew if we wandered into a location we wouldn't just build a bear but by the time we left we'd have a $2,000 Bear of the Month subscription and a time share at Camp Build-a-Bear on Lake Havasu.

So when the girls and I saw one of these store's today I tried to scoot them past it. No luck. They both screamed and made tiny grunting sounds. I didn't want anyone having a grand mal episode so we went in. What the heck; our only mission today was to kill some time and buy some groceries so I thought I'd see just how expensive these stuffed animals actually were.

Turns out we won't be packing our bags for an Arizona time share after all. The place does a fine job of collecting your information and upselling you shoes, outfits and sound packs to go with your bear. However, it was a much more low-key experience than I thought it would be.

I could take a lot of time describing the process. It's a little more involved than you might think, including a little ceremony where you install a heart in your bear and bring it to life. After something like that, most of you who know me would guess that I'll be lying awake at night wondering when the bears will come to suck out my eyeballs. I'm not worried. It was all too cute for words.

One of the biggest surprises was the fact that Julia's bear was only $10. Of course, the T-shirt she chose for it was $6 but I didn't think we'd find her a stuffed buddy for less than $30.

Allie named both bears. Her bear is Samantha and Julia's was Carol. Julia later changed her bear's name to Jane. They were thrilled with the bears and the experience of buying them. As jaded as kids sometimes seem to be these days, it was very satisfying to see them get excited over something as traditional as a teddy bear.

At this moment, both girls are sleeping with their bears beside them.

I would have paid the $30 without blinking.


P.S. Deb ran over and thoroughly squished a chipmunk this weekend. For those of you keeping score:

Lee Family - 2
Chipmunks - 0

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Four Screws

I didn't think I'd cry.

When Deb suggested that we drag the full-sized bed out of the basement for Allie I didn't realize the impact it would have on both of us. After all, this was something we'd been planning to do for sometime but we've never really had the time or energy for the project. Yesterday, Deb decided we did.

I got the mattress and box spring out of the basement and released them from the plastic we used to try and protect them for the past six years. Six years. That's how long it's been since we converted the guest room into a nursery.

The plastic didn't do as good a job of protecting the bedding as we had hoped. The mattress and box spring smelled. Nothing overwhelming; just that subtle mildew aroma that reminds you of dank places where air settles and rarely moves.

I put the mattresses in the driveway hoping the breeze and bright sunshine would banish the smell. That and a little help from some antimicrobial Febreeze.

While the bedding waited outside, Deb and I went back and forth between keeping it and buying new stuff. Then we started cleaning and moving furniture. The plan was to give Julia Allie's old bed. This meant the crib had to go.

Deb had been crying off and on the entire morning. In fact, she started the moment she made the suggestion. We had decided it was time to shed every significant remnant of the girls' infancies. First it was the bouncy seat, then the high chair, now the crib. The crib had converted to a toddler bed, but it was still recognizable. A reminder of the place we deemed safe enough to protect our sleeping babies for the past six years.

I took an Allen wrench to four screws and the crib came apart.

Now, in it's place, there is the bed Julia will more than likely sleep in until she decides it's time for her to leave our home. This same situation can now be found in Allie's room. I think the bed still stinks, but not enough for most sane people to notice. So now Allie has a big bed with a pretty brass headboard that she'll probably sleep in on a regular basis for the next twelve years or so.

Deb and I (Deb, for the most part) were a little weepy. But I reminded my wife that the crib will always be close by. Who knows, maybe years from now we'll need it again for another baby. One who we'll love and dote on but can send home when he/she becomes cranky, stinky and loud.

By the way, we also got rid of the diaper genie yesterday. Nobody cried about that.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

I just got off the phone with Marcia. I called to wish her a happy Mother's Day. After we spoke she told me she planned to have a poached egg. Then she's going to visit her mother and mother-in-law.

I love my mom. Believe me when I tell you I know I'm lucky I can pick up a phone and hear her voice just about any time I want (or, to state it more accurately, any time I need).

For obvious reasons (strength, charisma, certain physical attributes) I have a lot of women in my life. Some I've chosen. Some I haven't. Of course Marcia falls into the didn't choose category.

But I would have.

I hate to whip out the old cliché of claiming to understand what it means to be a parent now that I am one myself. But it fits. And it makes me want to say thanks. Thank you, Marcia for making me feel safe, teaching me, making me laugh, telling me the truth, suffering my shortcomings and working hard to try to make me a decent person. I know it was often a difficult job. I also know it's a job that's never really complete.

I am grateful.

So to honor you and express my gratitude on this day we sent you a card.

Not just any card - we sent a Hallmark.

That's the payoff, Marcia.

Still glad you went through labor?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

24 Cents Down the Drain

I think I know how it happened but I'm not sure. It's not a bruise but nothing seems to scrub it off - soap, astringent, nail polish remover, Soft Scrub, sand paper.

One of Allie's new fish is dead already. No one seems to be too upset. Goldie or Frankie (we never got to the point where we could distinguish between the two) got unceremoniously flushed last night. I think the fact that the water in their bowl became a fetid soup of rancid fish shit in just a matter of hours helped speed the grieving process.

The smell was foul. Just a day or so after we got the fish Debbie called me into Allie's room. After the requisite, Do you smell that? we searched for cat poop or a dead rat in the corners of Allie's bedroom. Then I hung my nose over the edge of the fish bowl. The sound of my dry heave let Deb and Allie know I'd found the source of the smell.

So now we're down to one fish. I'm sure that will help slow down the rate at which the bowl converts itself into cesspool. Now all I need are suggestions for helping a fish overcome loneliness. And a few tips for removing this mark on my head would also be appreciated.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

License to Kill

Deb said it must run in the family. She was talking about killing small animals. "It must run in the family," she said. "First your mother with that bird and now you and the gopher."

Some call them chipmunks, others call them gophers. When I get to the part about me killing the animal I'll use gophers. It'll sound less like Chip is wandering around our back yard weeping as he searches for Dale.

I bought the pellet gun at the end of last summer. It was a last ditch effort to stem the flow of migrant chipmunks that decided the underside of my front walk was the promised land. Honestly, I never thought I'd actually hit anything. I just wanted to buy a pellet gun. The possible collapse of my sidewalk seemed like a good excuse.

I've shot at the gophers before. I'll spot them out the window and try to open the front door slowly and carefully. Each time as soon as I swing the door open wide enough to take aim the rodents look at me and disappear. And I'm not talking about them being so fast all I see are their little furry asses as they whip down a hole in the ground. They just disappear.


This afternoon I had an appointment so I was home a little earlier than usual. I saw a gopher in the back yard. I grabbed the pellet gun out of the closet. I pumped it up. I opened the sliding glass door. From inside the kitchen, I fired at the gopher.

He disappeared.

I assumed he ran down his hole just like he always had. But I was pretty sure there were no gopher holes in that particular spot.

Sure enough, I found him/her lying in the grass. There was a tiny, red spot on the gopher's neck.

I felt awful.

Like I said, I didn't think I'd actually hit anything. I honestly assumed that the gun I had would just kind of break the skin, if anything. Turns out I bought the safari model pellet gun because my projectile went through the gopher's neck and out its nostril.

Fortunately the rodent died instantly. That didn't help with my remorse.

A few moments ago I asked Deb if she would have any trouble sleeping. She wondered why. I told her there was a body in the house (for reasons too tedious to explain it's carefully wrapped and buried deep inside our kitchen garbage). Deb said as long as the gopher corpse wasn't in her bed she wouldn't have any trouble sleeping.

I wish I could say the same.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hi Butefuol Ho!

Debbie asked me if I found this drawing Allie did a little disturbing:

At first glance I said yes. After all, I saw a pink bug in the upper left calling someone a ho. I saw a smiling sun saying, "Hibute fuol." I couldn't miss the sinister, bat winged tree declaring, "I'm in love wite hire." And the frowning girl in a wheelchair with an oversized hand moaning, "Weous Mr. Doser" kind of sold me on the word disturbing.

I know we shouldn't have reacted like that. We both knew the sun was saying, "Hi, beautiful." We know Allie intended the tree to say, "I'm in love with her." There's no way I can figure out what the girl at the bottom is actually saying. I'm guessing she's asking, "Where is my doser?" It's probably not doser but I'm sure it's something equally innocuous (Allie's in bed and I'm not waking her up to ask).

So there's really nothing disturbing about this drawing at all.

Except for the bug.

There's no doubt it's got a ho on its mind.