Thursday, September 29, 2005

I haven't been ignoring you, I've been busy and then sick. But here's a quickie to hold you over.

Julia, on the way home from taking Alex to the airport on Sunday:

I know how to make people be dead.

(Me: Really? How do you do that?)

If you don't eat any fruits and any vegetables, then you will get sick and you will be dead.

(The ensuing discussion touched on the fact that the getting sick was an opportunity to take better care of yourself and get better, but in the end we did allow as how if someone truly, permanently refused to eat fruits or vegetables they could, in fact, die as a result.)

I mean, it was her idea after all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What it's like to be them

I was just looking for something in my E-mail drafts folder and found some notes I took a couple of weeks ago when the girls were playing out of sight but not out of earshot:

Robin: Hey Julia, want to play your Dora game?
Julia: No tanks.
Robin: But why?
Julia: Because I don't like it because every time you win every time.
Robin: But Julia, losing is something that everybody does all the time. You shouldn't be upset because losing is what somebody does every time you play a game.

[5 minutes later]

Julia: I know! You can play the Dora game by yourself.
Robin: No, I can't play by myself.
Julia: Yes you can. Just put the Dora there and then pick a card, and then pick another card.
Robin: No, because if I play the game by myself then I'm sure I'll win.

[10 minutes later]

Julia: I'm going to play with my dolls.
Robin: I'm going to play the Dora game. Can you go with me to get it out please?
Julia: Sure. It's over here.
Robin: But just play with me one time, please?
[Negotiations inaudible]
Robin: ...promise, promise, promise, promise, promise.
Robin: If you don't play with me, it won't be the last time.
Julia: Okay, okay. Just a minute.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A bonanza, a trove, yea verily a wealth of photos

But first a thousand words...

Actually, another thousand words. I had this post just about ready to go yesterday when the power went out. I had saved the uploaded photos, but not the yards and yards of text. Bad words were uttered.

Anyway, now I'm using the less sexy but more secure method of writing into a blank E-mail and saving it from time to time instead of composing straight into the browser window that can only save if I'm online, and only then by going through several links & slow stuff.

So. Julia has been warming up to the idea of going to "Robin's school" and I have been realizing that we really should get her going pretty soon, since the remainder of this semester will be her only chance to be in the same class as Robin. I had been telling Flor (the principal and one of the kindergarten teachers) that I was hoping to have Julia start soon, and that she was beginning to seem more interested.

Today is Costa Rica's Independence Day and there is no school today or tomorrow. I thought a short week--with special activities to boot--would be a good time to have her start, so last weekend we talked about it a bit while Robin--and her enthusiastic but often pushy commentary--was at Yolanda's house. Julia was agreeable, and proudly got ready for school with Robin on Monday morning.

She marched in with us and I told Flor that Julia would like to know if she could start today. Of course she said of course, and all of a sudden Julia realized the implications of that and promptly freaked the hell out.

I stayed with her for about an hour, but she really didn't calm down much. The flag and national anthem business at the beginning of the day was extra long this week because each group was rehearsing their song/recitation/etc. Eventually I checked with Flor and took Julia inside so she could play with some of the materials around the room, which she has always longed after but been told (by me) are for "children who go to Robin's school."

Finally the kids came in and sat in a circle, whereupon I discovered that me being there had thrown Robin straight back to the teary "how COULD you leave me here" stage. She, along with some of the other older children, was dispatched upstairs for English class. Julia paid minimal attention to what the children were doing in the circle, occasionally making a slight attempt to join in but mostly scooting here and there and demanding to be TAKEN HOME NOW.

When the circle time was over and the other kids had been sent to choose their activities I asked Flor for her advice: Take her home? Leave her there? Stay with her? I was told the same as with Robin: the child will always choose to go home, but it's not really their choice to make. Once the option is no longer there, they can get on with adjusting to being there.

Oh yeah. Damn. Sucked into it AGAIN.

So I left. Robin was back down from English and had to be pried, finger by finger, off my shirt and physically taken across the room. Then Julia was handed off, kicking and screaming and I left.

They didn't see me right away when I came back to pick them up, and of course they were both just fine, participating in the group activity. Julia said she had had a great time and Flor said she had cried for a while, then joined in.

The next morning, Julia started out with a good attitude--she's a morning person, and almost invariably bright and chipper from about 5:30 on. She announced that she would go to school for one more day, but then changed her tune as it approached time to go and said she was NOT going. I had to pretty much place her in the car, where she declared that when we got there she was NOT going to take off her seatbelt. And indeed she didn't. Fortunately, most of her protests were verbal; a really determined child could make things very difficult for an adult from a car seat in the back of a two-door car.

I carried her in (fortunately Robin was back to normal), pried her off of me, handed her off to Flor, left her screaming and then had four hours to ponder the psychological damage I was inflicting on my child.

Then I went back to pick her up and learned:

From Flor: That Julia had cried for about as long as it took her to cross the room and find something to do
From Julia: That she had "MANY new friends"
And from a note to parents: That children "may wear traditional costumes" for the Independence Day activities the next day.

Robin has a store-bought variation on the traditional dress from last year. Does Julia have anything even resembling a traditional dress? Not so much. Is there time to borrow one from a cousin? Not so much. Buy one? Not really. Make one? Yes, as it turns out, although I didn't tell her what I was doing, in case it didn't work out. Fortunately, the traditional costume is relatively simple. Ideally, it's a satiny three-tiered skirt in bright solid colors and a white blouse with rickrack around the large circular yoke. I didn't bother with the blouse; she has a plain white blouse that would do fine. And, much to my surprise, I actually found solid red, white and blue fabrics in my stash. Not satiny of course, but just the right shades.

I did all the thinking and measuring and a little bit of Internet searching in the afternoon, and made the skirt after dinner. It took three hours and came out quite well.

So the morning went well. The girls were excited about their dresses and the "parade" they would be in (the kindergarten class does a circuit of the park a block away). Julia got extra big-girl points because I took her car seat out and let her use a regular seatbelt so her new skirt wouldn't get all bunched up. Not sure if I'll leave it like that or not; Costa Rican law calls for carseats up to four years old, so she's legal, but of course the seat is safer. Robin has been using a regular seatbelt for a few months now.

I stopped on the way down the hill and got the girls each a paper flag to carry, which went over well. No fuss getting out of the car. No fuss going into the school. No fuss at all. Julia's comment: "Today I don't miss you mommy." And that was it. I went back to the car to get the camera and took a couple of pictures, then headed out to the park to wait for the kids to come out. I had asked Flor about it and she said it might be better not to (for Julia's sake) if it was going to set her off again, but I was pretty optimistic. I got myself a coffee and a danish thing, then picked up Yolanda and we got back to the school a few minutes before they came out.

When Julia saw me she started to get weepy and wanted me to hold her hand, but then she snapped out of it and enjoyed being part of such an important event. There were about 30 kids and maybe 10 parents or so, following along and taking pictures. They stopped in the park and lined up all the kids on a bench for additional pictures and to sing the national anthem, then marched back to the school and went inside. Both girls had a good time and went right back in without protest. Julia didn't actually seem aware that we weren't following - she just followed everyone in and didn't look back. One other little girl started to cry when she realized her mother wasn't coming in with her, but Julia was out of sight by then, so if she had a moment of doubt we didn't know about it.

And that's the end of the story. Here are the pictures of the kindergarten section of the school, and then of the girls and the parade:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sheryl at PaperNapkin totally gets me (not that she knows me...)

Paper Napkin: All the news that's fit to wrap your gum in.: Lesson Of The Day

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In which she wants her turn on the computer, but she sabotages herself by saying something that must be blogged immediately

Julia: My bottom hurts.
Me (Absently): I'm sorry.
Julia: It hurts, it hurts.
Me: What happened to it?
Julia: I don't know, it just hurt by itself. You have to kiss it! (Giggles)
Me (Gives her a look)
Julia (Assumes "praying to Mecca" position): Kiss it! You have to kiss it!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Poor Baybee

Emily got a reprieve yesterday because it didn't occur to me that she needed to be fasting. I didn't think she'd eaten much, but the vet said it would be best to bring her back today if it wasn't too big a hassle, so that's what we did.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Friends in high places

And now, because I love you, I will provide you with answers to questions you never knew you had, thanks to the official FAQ of the U.S. Postal Service.

New information: God does, apparently, have a zip code. And yet. Your God and mine have different addresses. And yet. Presumably, they are still the same God. I think I like that.

(My favorite part: "The USPS will see that the letter is received at the proper place." Just doing our job, ma'am.)

They've got to be kidding (Now with pictures!)

I suppose I'm probably the last one on my block to be convinced. It's one of those things. Someone you trust can swear it's true. They've seen it with their own eyes and anyway doesn't everybody already know it's true? But you remain unconvinced. It just doesn't sound right. Maybe they're exaggerating - it wouldn't be the first time.

Well now I know. It's true. Mating dogs really can get stuck. Stuck, like they're done and they're both ready to go their separate ways, but...they can't. They literally can't. They just have to stand there at a 140-degree angle and wait it out.

Now why would this even be possible, much less true? What natural purpose could it possibly serve? I would think the potential for frustration, impatience and, ultimately, catastrophic damage would be much greater than the reproductive benefits of inseparable genitals.


I should have known it wouldn't happen just once.

Everyone be extra nice to Alex, who for some reason had a pack of AA batteries in the car, without which this oh, so tasteful photo essay would not have been possible.

So here's the...well, the beast with two fronts, I guess you'd call it.

Which of course was followed by:

Which in turn was followed, inevitably, by:

Tune in Monday for a very special Coasting Richly as young Emily comes to terms with the surgery brought on by her burgeoning womanhood...

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