Pessimistic Optimism

Life as I see it… sort of.

Want to See Some Cool Bugs?

My daughter loves insects and I think it’s great.  Without her around I would’ve never known which ones actually bite or taste the best.

Her fondness of the winged buzzing types and the creepy crawling ones has been taken to a new level this year.  She actually looks for them on her own or with her little bug-hunting posse and she’s definitely NOT afraid to pick them up and let them crawl on her (this isn’t new, see Ladybug Crawl).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been relaxing in the back yard pretending to be paying attention to the wee ones when my daughter’s standing before me with a huge grin and asks, “Want to see some cool bugs?”  Who could resist an offer like that?  I know I couldn’t, because even if I’m dead-tired her enthusiasm is like a jolt of adrenaline pumping through my veins.

I follow the leader of the bug hunters to the various “homes” of our arthropod friends.  These are under strategically placed cinderblocks and logs around our expansive backyard.  The best spot is right behind our pool deck.  There’s a leftover log from the October Storm (see No More Power… for a long while (part one)) which houses a lot of cool bugs, like beetles, earthworms, potato bugs, milipedes, ants and one of my daughter’s new favorites, slugs.

“Can I touch them, Daddy?” She asks politely.

“Of course, young lady, just don’t hurt them.”

To her credit, I haven’t seen her sqash one yet… at least not recently.

When she doesn’t have an adult next to her on one of these expeditions she takes it upon herself that it’s okay to pick up her somewhat little tickly friends.  My wife had the pleasure of seeing this first-hand.

“Mommy, I found a spider.”

“That’s great, dear.”

“Wanna see it?”

Before she could answer our little angel opened her hand to show off her find.  My darling wife wanted to bolt when she saw the somewhat large spider in her daughter’s hand but fought hard against it.  She said that on the inside she was terrified and somehow kept her outside demeanor in check as to not guide our daughter into the world of being afraid of insects.  Yes, most of those fears are inherited through action, not genes.

“Look, it’s tickling me,” she said as the spider crawled on her arm.

“Th-th-that’s nice.”

Just so you know, no insects were harmed in the writing of this post and neither was my daughter. 

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June 30, 2007 Posted by | Bugs, family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 3 Comments

Little Superstar… sort of

Somersaults, high-beam leg lifts, assisted vaults and somersaults were all part of my little angel’s repertoire for her gymnastics demonstration.  This was the first public performance of her three years and eleven months on this earth and she shined, so much so that she received two sets of flowers, compliments of both Grandmothers, and a gold medal.  The significance of the color of the medal was minimal; they all were gold.

When the classes began last September it was difficult watching my daughter doing things without my wife or me.  I wanted to go out and help her or even to tell her to listen to her teacher, but I couldn’t because it was time to cut the cord… time for me, that is.  She loved the idea of being out of her parents’ reach.  She didn’t say it with words, but she’s never looked back once she’s in the gym.  Okay, she has waved to me a couple of times and gives me the kind of smile that says that she’s having the time of her life without me.  Give me a minute to wipe off the keyboard; somehow it’s a little moist.

My daughter’s parents have totally committed themselves to her being as successful as possible by making sure she attended all but two classes all year and those absences couldn’t be avoided.  One was due to an illness and the other to Anna Nicole Smith’s death.  Who could play on that day?

It’s been exciting watching my daughter develop her skills, social and gymnastic.  To be expected, she appears to be the apple of many of the older girls’ eyes.  They all call out to her and treat her like a little sister that they actually like.

Even though I see a few mistakes here and there, it seems as though my wonderful ball of energy has really taken to this sport.  It suits her daredevil personality perfectly.  If something’s in front of her she’ll want to climb it, just like her little brother, but that’s another story that I’ll get into at another time.

The day of the demonstration arrived before we knew it and I could feel the energy in the air at our house.  Luckily my daughter was there to calm me down enough to help her into her outfit.  My wife told me that the tights would be best without underwear because our gymnast wouldn’t be wearing shorts over them for the first time.  I couldn’t get it in my head that it’s similar to a bathing suit, so I ignored this advice because I couldn’t send my daughter out in public without underwear, who is she… Britney Spears?

At the event our star had seven fans wholly devoted to her: paternal grandmother; paternal aunt; maternal grandfather; maternal grandmother; mother; brother; and me (father).  We all couldn’t get enough of seeing her in action with the exception of her little brother who ran from each one of us whenever we set him free on the floor.

The events were spectacular, I think.  Most of them were way down on the other end of the auditorium.  Those not as important, to me, older kids impeded our view.  From what we could see, our very own Nadia Comaneci was excellent on the balance beam.  Meaning that she kept her balance, with a little help from her teacher.  She excelled at everything that we didn’t have a great vantage point of.  That’s my belief until someone tells me differently.  Fortunately, we did have a great view of her best feat; she somersaulted across the width of the auditorium without stopping.  It reminded me of kids rolling down hills in the old days inside tractor tires to get that sense of euphoria or nausea depending on your equilibrium.

I think it was around the time of the somersaults that her now seen wedgie got progressively worse.  She unsuccessfully tried to fix it, but ended up having the underwear that I put on her hanging out the back of her leotard.  Fortunately, she’s too young to be self conscious about such things.

It was now time for the athletes to receive their just rewards.  Our little superstar’s face shined brightly as she raised her arms on the podium and had the GOLD medal placed around her neck.  Her mother, grandmothers, grandfather, aunt and I soaked in every second of it.  My guess is that this is only the beginning of many events and games and plays and competitions to come for both my kids.

I don’t care if they are the best as long as they do their best.  Who am I kidding; they’re both clean slates so far, so they will be the best… I hope… not that it matters. 

June 24, 2007 Posted by | family, gymnastics, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 3 Comments

Paris Hilton, the Space Shuttle and Harry Potter

Let’s get the least important stuff out of the way first, Paris Hilton’s in jail.

As for the space shuttle, Atlantis, it’s return has been delayed because of a problem with the Russian part of the international space station or so they say.  I guess if you’re going to blame a space station problem on someone, the Russians are as good a scapegoat as anyone.  I’m actually not sure what the problem is or if it’s delayed because of it or the rumor that NASA rented out Kennedy Space Center for the next month to J.K.Rowling for her Deathly Hollows catch and release program.  I think someone said she’s going to set books free by tossing them out of one of the unused shuttles, like Enterprise or Endeavour, while circumnavigating the globe.  If you happen to be one of the lucky people who catches one of these freebies, maybe she’ll visit you in the hospital and sign it, if she has time and you promise not to sue her for being responsible for a seven hundred page missile raining down on you. 

Before you spend all your waking hours staring into the sky take into account that none of this has neither been confirmed nor denied as of this posting.  For some reason I couldn’t find a listing for JK Rowling in the phone book to check my facts and NASA wasn’t in there either.

The posts have been few and far between as of late because of my kids and the great weather in Western New York.  For some reason they expect me to take them outside all the time and that cuts heavily into my writing.  I’ll try to spread my joy more often soon, but I’m not making any promises.

June 14, 2007 Posted by | fiction, Harry Potter, Humor, life, Paris Hilton, Ranting, rumors, space shuttle, weather, Writing | 3 Comments

It’s Not What You Say…

Children are a great barometer of a person’s likability, especially with something like a language barrier.

We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with my sister-in-law’s mother, Paw Paw- I think it means grandmother in Manduran-, who happens to be right off the boat plane from Hong Kong and only speaks un poco English.   Just about my entire life has been spent in a predominantly English speaking setting, a week in Puerto Vallarta being the only exception, so this would be a new experience for me.

The initial introduction went as well as can be expected; she smiled, my wife and I smiled, and the kids hid behind us.  Then, I think I might have said something like welcome, nice to meet you, or would you like some cheese.  I don’t remember what exactly, but I’m sure it was just gibberish to the nice woman.

The kids avoidance of this woman lasted less than ten minutes and then they were all over her.  It seemed like our soon-to-be four-year-old understood that her new found friend couldn’t speak English because she and her little brother decided to use the photographs as flash cards.  The woman was inundated with “Daddy”s, “Mommy”s, “Papa”s,”Grammie”s, and “Fred Willard“s.  I’m not sure why my wife had all those pictures of Mr. Willard; I thought she was more of a Martin Mull fan.

The most amazing and amusing thing I witnessed during this experience was something my little boy did.  We decided to read both kids a bedtime story downstairs where everyone was instead of upstairs with just our nuclear family like we do at home, minus the dog, and it kind of blew up in our faces.  All the extra activity helped the usually captive audience lose interest in the story quickly.  First, our daughter drifted away toward her Aunt and then our son followed his big sister’s lead and wrestled his way off of my lap.  Because our listeners abandoned us, we stopped reading Good Night Pillow Fight half way through.  That’s when my two-year-old little boy grabbed the book out of my hands and brought it over to Paw Paw and wanted her to read it to him.  She looked stunned.  I’m sure she must have been thinking what do you want me to do with this nonsense.  The best part was that he kept returning the book back on her lap after she would set it aside.  It was his way of “insisting” that she read to him.  I didn’t know how to break it to him that there was no way for him to win this time.  Fortunately he eventually gave up on his own and we all shook our heads and laughed.

The boy obviously didn’t take the book snub personally, because he spent a lot more time “conversing” with the nice woman that only speaks a little English.  Our daughter enjoyed her time spent with Paw Paw just as much and never once seemed to care that the adult couldn’t speak her language.  It’s probably very similar to when she hangs out with her brother who just started speaking somewhat recently and she always seems to know what he said.  Because of this we learned that the boy is generous to a fault, because through her interpretations he always tells us to give his toys or cookies to his sister.  I guess we’re just fortunate that she’s around to help. 

June 6, 2007 Posted by | family, Friends, house guests, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 5 Comments

Sunshine and Sloppy Tea

The local weather guy said that the Buffalo area had its sunniest May ever this year and my brown lawn agrees with him.  The last eight months have been a weather roller coaster ride.  We had a freaking snowstorm in October, and then only a smidgen of the white stuff came down until well after our “Green Christmas”.  The real WNY winter reared its ugly head in mid-January and decided to stick around until late April.  Finally, May was awesome, if you like warm or hot weather with lots of sunshine and being able to go outside without a parka and snowshoes.

This brings me to what takes place around my humble abode when the weather finally breaks.  WeMy wife scrubbed out the little plastic kiddy-pool and I dragged out the little plastic kiddy-sprinkler and we sent the children out into our yard in their bathing suits to have their annual bath while we hung out in the central-air filled house.  Okay, okay on the chance that the authorities are reading this, we hung out on the deck enjoying drinks with little umbrellas in them and supervised the children, of course.

Like their Mom, the kids put on their little thinking caps and placed their Little Tykes slide into the pool.  That combined with the sprinkler and the the play fountain of theirs created their very own mini water park.  With all this going on you’d think the kids would be self-sufficient, but you’d be wrong, because the little leaches wanted something more; attention.  I guess all the cool material objects weren’t enough, because we actually had to play with them.  What’s next, affection?

My daughter did what most people like to do on a sweltering day; she had a tea party.  She gathered her tea party essentials, you know, a teapot, sugar bowl, toy Shrek and two tea cups from her playhouse and placed them on a table near the pool.  Her ability to adapt to the situation at hand presented itself when I witnessed how she ‘played’ tea party.  She filled the two tea cups and then drank them both herself.  I was a little disappointed that she didn’t offer one to me, my wife or her little brother until I saw what she was actually doing.   She didn’t really drink the grass-laden water she had scooped out of the pool with the teapot; she put the cups to her closed mouth and let the water drip down her body.  At first I thought that she was imitating how I usually drink my coffee in the morning, but then I realized that she was just cooling herself off in a unique way.

I would have joined her, but I didn’t want to get my thong wet. 

June 2, 2007 Posted by | Buffalo, family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting, Ranting, weather | 5 Comments