M. Giant's
Velcrometer
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Wednesday, May 31, 2006  

Summer Vacation

Tonight was pretty special. After we got M. Small home from day care and fed him his dinner, Trash and I loaded him into the car for some errands. I dropped her off at Target to do some shopping, and M. Small and I went on to the kids' hair place (imaginatively named "Kids' Hair") to get him an overdue trim. We got home and gave him his evening snack, and then put him to bed. And here's the special part: I cleaned house and did laundry for more than an hour. It was great. You know what's even better? Aside from the errands, I'll probably do it again tomorrow.

Perhaps I should explain. As you may have heard, last Monday the non-stop season of 24 finally stopped. For the past nineteen Tuesdays in a row, I've been sitting at my computer within minutes of M. Small's bedtime, one hand on the keyboard and the other on the VCR remote. Recapping is just about the most fun you can have writing for money, but it does tend to eat up a lot of time. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying the break. Plus one feels guilty leaving the entire running of the house to one's wife/mother of one's toddler, no matter how much she tells one not to.

This is the first time in almost a year and a half that I didn't know where my next recap was coming from. After Season Four of 24, I had one week off before starting to recap Six Feet Under. Then when that was done, I went right into Rome. By the time that was over, it was the holidays. During which I spent a lot of time working on another writing project. And then two weeks after New Year's 24 started again. And now here we are. No recaps due, my other project is in waiting mode, my semi-annual freelance gig is several weeks away. It's like the first day of summer.

Yesterday didn't count; it was a holiday, and the whole day felt like Sunday anyway. This morning I got up at seven, helped get the kid ready for day care, got ready for work, drove us all to our respective destinations, put in a rather busy/stressful eight and a half hours at the office, drove home, and got a bunch of stuff done. And I feel like I'm on vacation. Last night I finally loaded Half Life 2 on Trash's computer, and the hour I spent playing it was like a gift. The hour and a half I had to spend loading it beforehand was like a different kind of gift, the kind one normally finds in flames on one's doorstep, but on balance I ended up happy. Later on I'll play it some more. And like I said, earlier tonight I did house stuff, clear of conscience and clear of deadlines.

I of course know that it's only a matter of time before I start missing recapping again. Weeks, if not days. In fact, if the bosses offered me a summer show tomorrow I'd jump at it. January 2007 is a long way off, after all. But in the meantime, I'm going to practice filling in the void with my home, and my family, and my cats, and hours of noisy, gratuitous violence.

That last thing should probably be separate from the other three, I'm thinking.

posted by M. Giant 1:52 PM 3 comments

3 Comments:

Just a quick "fan-note" to you - I love your 24 recaps and always look(ed) forward to them. The question is: will we ever see Jack ducking into a bathroom or hitting up a vending machine? Dude never eats, sleeps or pees, does he?

Don't the cats/M Small provide a certain modicum of gratuitous violence? My two cats certainly do, and we don't have an M. Tiny/Small. Enjoy your break - you've earned it!

By Blogger Meepers, at May 31, 2006 at 4:48 PM  

I know the feeling. I saved up $22,000 and quit my job two months ago. I've been kicking around doing this, that and the next thing. It's like being a kid on summer vacation...including the part where I got a stress fracture in my foot yesterday. And it's still awesome. --Sayer

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 31, 2006 at 4:56 PM  

After a reasonable vacation, I hope you recap something else. And let me know in advance so I'll have a reason to actually watch a tv program while it's on tv, rather than just netflixing it years later.

By Blogger Nancy, at June 5, 2006 at 7:03 AM  

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Monday, May 29, 2006  

Play Date

M. Small had a play date on Saturday.

A couple of friends of ours, who we hadn't seen in a very long time, have a son who's almost the exact same age as M. Small. Most of the contact we've had with each other over the past couple of years consists of pictures of each other's kids on our refrigerators. We'd been trying to get the boys together for a play date for months, but if there's anything harder to coordinate than the schedule of the parents of a toddler, it's the schedules of the parents of two toddlers.

But we finally made it over there this weekend and they met for the first time. They look like they could be cousins: both blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, smiles that make you want to give them things. They practiced playing together and sharing, and did pretty well. A.R. especially, because it was his house and his stuff. M. Small did recognize a few of the toys that he also has at home, including the little thing with four balls that you roll through, even though his only has two that we haven't lost.

The two kids do, however, have different strengths. A.R. has more words than M. Small -- for instance "water" for water, whereas M. Small calls all beverages "milk." Plus A.R. can do impressions of family members, which we need to get on top of soon.

M. Small, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming what you might euphemistically call a "climber." Actually it wouldn't even be a euphemism, because he recently took up the new hobby of scaling chainlink fences. One keeps one's hands ready to catch him if he falters, but one finds this less and less necessary.

After they spent a little time together, we noticed them absorbing each other's strengths. A.R.'s parents noticed him being a little bolder physically later in the visit. By the same token, after A.R. went to bed, M. Small uttered his first-ever complete sentence that doesn't begin with "I want:" he looked at A.R.'s dad and said, "Where da baby go?"

Trash said they'd be good for each other. A.R. would soon be having intellectual discourse with his parents, while M. Small, A.R.'s dad said, would be saying, "Okay, here's how we're going to knock over the armored car."

So when we left, we all pretty much agreed that we'll have to do this again soon. M. Small didn't say so in so many words, but his "Where da baby go?" is a pretty clear indicator that he had a good time.

posted by M. Giant 7:34 AM 3 comments

3 Comments:

A climber, eh? Here's something that I think is super-kewl: going to the climbing pinnacle at the REI in Bloomington, and seeing the tiny lil' four- and five-year-olds ascending three stories up. With climbing harnesses, of course.

And you can tell who the cool parents are by the way they encourage the kids without being dillholes about it.

I can totally see you guys there, in a little while.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at May 29, 2006 at 11:07 AM  

Go, M Small! From little tiny baby to super climber in a matter of months.

By Blogger Lady M, at May 30, 2006 at 10:30 PM  

I am sorry, but M. Small is NOT old enough to say things like"Where da baby go?" nor is he old enough to climb a FENCE. What have you done with the real M. Small?

By Anonymous Erin, at June 1, 2006 at 6:34 AM  

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Thursday, May 25, 2006  

Color My World

M. Small loves to color. "KA-whoa," he says when he's in an artistic mood, and either goes to the kitchen table or the front door.

Perhaps I should explain. These are the two places where M. Small does most of his coloring. On the kitchen table, he uses his big-old crayons and, under extremely close supervision, the occasional ballpoint pen. We don't really worry about him coloring inside the lines. Not least of all because the paper he likes to color on doesn't have lines. He prefers the blank canvas of cheap-ass typing paper. But as unconcerned as we are about keeping him inside the lines, it sometimes does become a challenge to keep him coloring inside the room. Fortunately, the crayons we give him to use are specially formulated to wipe easily off of walls, tables, chairs, cats, and ceiling fans.

The other place he likes to color is a little more unconventional. The last big home-improvement project we did before our adoption home-study was to have the fugly yellow linoleum in our entryway replaced with a striking, dark-gray stone tile. You might almost call the color "slate." But M. Small likes to take his colored sidewalk chalk and act on an entirely different interpretation of the word "slate." This is perfectly fine with us, because it turns out that chalk erases off the entryway floor just like off of a blackboard. In fact, more easily than a blackboard, because if one were to try erasing a blackboard by walking on it in one's stocking feet, an injury would likely ensue.

The only challenge there is to discourage him from coloring on the walls and the front door. So Trash tries to distract him from that by joining him on the floor and coloring with him.

Now, I'm not saying that Trash is worse at drawing than M. Small is. However, it is fair to say that her artistic skills are on the "picked-last-at-Pictionary" level. And yet M. Small is able to recognize most of her drawings. For instance, a solid yellow crescent is identified as "moon." An animal face with pointy ears is "kitty," while an animal face with round ears is "puppy." Which really isn't that much of an achievement any more, since she draws it the same way every time.

"He can recognize 'puppy' from just the ears now," Trash told me tonight.

"Maybe you should learn to draw a different puppy," I suggested.

"Maybe you should shut it," she suggested right back.

But together they're branching out of their respective comfort zones. Trash figured out how to draw one of M. Small's favorite words, "car." And in turn, she's trying to teach him to say one of the few other things she can draw, which is "house."

"He can say 'purple,'" I remarked. "You should see if you can draw that."

Again, my suggestion was not received in the spirit it was intended.

He's learning more words every day, of course. The vacuum cleaner, for instance, is no longer "AAAAAA." Now it's "BAKyumeen," as in "vacuuming." "Aw, honey," I said proudly. "His first gerund!"

Trash didn't really appreciate the significance the same way I did. But maybe that was because she was busy trying to draw "please" and "thank you." Or maybe washing crayon off our walls, furniture, and feet. He seems to be entering a kind of Harold phase where just having a crayon in his hand turns him into a graffiti artist. We're quickly learning which surfaces are and aren't easy to clean Crayola off of.

"Mayby we should give him a break from crayons," I suggested. "Just for a few years."

posted by M. Giant 5:37 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Dude, quit it. For real. I'm not old enough to have a baby. But I read your M. Small entries, and all I want is to get knocked up.

By Anonymous elizabell, at May 26, 2006 at 3:39 AM  

Two things (from the mom of 4 kids) 1) Never never never allow cheap crayons into the house. They are a bitch and a half to clean up. 2) WD40 will get crayon off of just about any surface. Follow up with a soapy wash, and presto, good as new.

By Blogger ElleStarr, at June 1, 2006 at 9:38 AM  

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Monday, May 22, 2006  

Tag You're It

Edited become SOMEONE slipped up and included M. Small's real name in this entry.

We were down in Iowa this past weekend for Trash's mom's birthday and belated Mother's Day. But we weren't the only ones. M. Small's cousins on his maternal grandmother's side of the family were there as well. I won't get into all the convoluted interrelationships involved, but suffice it to say that there were four children under the age of five there. Staying the weekend. And it's not all that big a house.

We knew this going in, of course. Trash even tried to get her mom to let us stay in a hotel, but she wouldn't have it. On our way into town Friday night, we passed the Super 8 that's six blocks from my mother-in-law's house. "Let's just check in there right now," I told Trash. We'll tell your mom that M. Small just couldn't go any farther." But my pleas fell on deaf ears.

As it turned out, I was surprised to find that the place wasn't nearly the zoo I expected it to be. For one thing, when we arrived at 11:25 p.m. everyone in the house was asleep. Not that M. Small was impressed. Even though we left at his bedtime and he fell asleep in the car as is his wont, by the time we had him transferred to the fold-up crib in our guest bedroom, he was awake and ready to rock and roll. "Hi!" he kept saying, in between maniacal peals of laughter.

The next morning, Trash told me that she had spent the night between one person who was throwing cars at her head, and one person who was snoring even louder than usual. She did add that every time she said, "Go to sleep," I would rouse myself enough to blearily slur, "Yeh, go seep." Trash thought this was rather "lazy" of me. I prefer to think of it as both "presenting a united front" and "leading by example."

Breakfast the next morning wasn't as chaotic as I anticipated either. The babies used the high chair in shifts that managed to naturally work themselves out with little effort on the adults' part. Once everyone had had breakfast, Trash and I foisted our kid off on his grandma and went back to bed. We wouldn't have been able to do that in a hotel. Okay, maybe a much nicer hotel, but not in a Super 8.

After we woke up, M. Small looked out the front door and saw his two older cousins playing outside. "Babies!" he cried excitedly, which is his word for everyone under age ten. He insisted on going out and joining them. I wasn't sure this was such a good idea, as they were busily painting the driveway with something, but once everybody assured me that the paint was chalk-based and therefore completely water-soluble, he and I joined the girls outside. Where he quickly lost interest in the "babies," and instead found his attention drawn to the "car," which he insisted on painting. Again, I am assured there will be no trace of it after the next rainstorm. As for the mess I was sure he'd make of his clothes, those fears did not turn out to be unfounded. After the few minutes that comprised his "pink period," he looked like he had either a) been nailed by a squirt gun full of Pepto-Bismol, or b) been in a bar fight with a Klingon. "You should see the other guy," I told his mom when we came inside.

But we didn't come inside until after his first game of tag ever. "Let's play Tag You're It!" Deniece announced after a while. Now, M. Small can run, but at nineteen months he has neither the speed, the stamina, nor the attention span to keep up with a six-year-old and a four-year-old. And I wasn't about to let him get excluded. So while he was sitting on the edge of the driveway, trying to figure out how to work the various functions of the dandelion in his hand, I let Deniece touch his shoulder and say, "Tag you're it!" And then I picked him up and started chasing the other kids around while holding him out in front of me.

I'm glad to say that he was able to remain fairly competitive that way. "It" changed hands quite a few times, and I'd have to say that all three kids came out even. Plus M. Small seemed to dig it, as did the girls. Sadly, I'm not as young or fit as I used to be, so between that and a series of airplane rides for all, I was pretty relieved when everyone got called in for lunch.

And then it was time for M. Small's nap, and then all the other relatives and kids left early that afternoon, which was actually kind of disappointing. On the other hand, it does give me a little more time to get in shape for M. Small's next game of tag. Although by the time that happens, he'll probably be able to do his own running.

posted by M. Giant 7:22 PM 9 comments

9 Comments:

Soooo cute!

By Blogger Lady M, at May 22, 2006 at 7:53 PM  

M.Giant, I love reading your blog and your 24 recaps. This description: "or b) been in a bar fight with a Klingon. "You should see the other guy," I told his mom when we came inside." is totally why. I nearly spewed out my coffee this morning. Thanks for the laugh.

By Anonymous Jodeci, at May 23, 2006 at 6:23 AM  

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 23, 2006 at 6:43 AM  

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By Anonymous Jeremy, at May 23, 2006 at 7:42 AM  

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 23, 2006 at 8:35 AM  

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By Blogger Kay, at May 23, 2006 at 11:19 AM  

Dude! How could the quality control system allow someone to put Reynaldo's real name in there?

Ummm... nevermind.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at May 24, 2006 at 1:32 PM  

Helloooo... it's called a macro! Didn't you watch The Office? Dwight = Diapers!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 24, 2006 at 2:18 PM  

Speaking of Macros - which may actually work - my IT friend used to tell us tricks they would play on each other at work. When someone would get up to use the rest room, they would rush over and do things to his computer. One of the fun things they did was change his auto correct in Word, so when he typed in "the", it would change to "kill the". Apparently it takes a second or two to auto correct, so by then, he's already moved on to other parts of the sentence. Apparently, the guy turned in an "altered" report and the department was reprimanded for pranks. The pranks continue... (And people turn off their copmuter before using the rest room now)

By Anonymous chao, at May 25, 2006 at 6:19 AM  

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Thursday, May 18, 2006  

The Escape Artist (Part Zillion)

I was supposed to write a blog entry last night. Instead, I did something else. Because Strat escaped again.

As I've said before, it happens a lot less than it used to, ever since we fixed the front storm door. But somehow he still got out last night. It's been over a year since the last time that happened, but this time was the worst one yet. Here's why.

I was a little late feeding him and giving him his insulin shot. Normally he gets a shot at 8:00 a.m. and a shot at 8:00 p.m. It was about 8:08 and M. Small was asleep in his crib when I spooned a little soft food into Strat's dish. Which I then carried around the house looking for him, as I always do twice a day. It was about 8:10 when I began to suspect that he wasn't in the house. At 8:12, I was out on the street, trying to figure out when and how he'd gotten out.

Not that I was worried. It wasn't dark yet, so I didn't have to rely on a narrow, little, neighborhood-watch-attracting shaft of illumination from a Maglite to peer in between houses and under bushes. Yet it wasn't full day any more, which meant that anything white--like Strat is, for instance--really popped into view from a distance. I am able to say this with some authority, after spotting any number of things from a block or more away that turned out not to be my cat.

As for his insulin shot, it's not ideal for it to be late, especially with his glucose running a little high like it has been, but he's gotten it up to an hour behind schedule before. A time or two, even later. In fact, in the two and a half years since he was diagnosed, I couldn't swear that he's never missed one entirely. Giving it to him when I found him at 8:30 wouldn't be a big deal.

When it was 9:00 and I still hadn't found him, 8:30 seemed a long way behind me.

Trash stayed behind at the house, of course, because she couldn't leave the kid alone. And every ten minutes or so, she'd call my cell phone. Every time I answered, I was hoping she'd say, "He was in M. Small's closet" or "he was under the refrigerator" or "he was on top of the drop-ceiling in the basement" or something, but all she ever said was, "Anything?" I would always assure her that I wasn't holding out on her, and go back to searching.

What sucks about looking for Strat is that the neighbors also have a white cat. He's an indoor/outdoor cat named Fievel, and every time we saw him outside we used to make sure that Strat was safe in the house, just to be sure it wasn't Strat we were looking at. Not that Fievel's a threat, mind you. On the contrary, this feline inspired the phrase "scaredy-cat." It's terrified of everything and everyone. We once saw him "chasing" a squirrel, and even the squirrel looked bored. The closest I ever got to him was one time when I was letting him into the neighbor's house, and he thought I had "cornered" him, and he tried to leap over the back door. The cat has no nerve, but a wicked vertical. He's also easily mistaken for Strat, until I try to get close to him and he teleports the fuck out of my sight. Strat doesn't do that. But the disappointment at realizing I've spotted the wrong cat is kind of a downer.

Here's what else sucks about looking for Strat: you are never, ever, ever going to find him. Once he's left the area defined by the three houses on each side of us, he is in the wind. Searching is futile. You just have to wait until he comes back.

But you can't not search, because he's your kitty, and he needs his medicine, and he needs it an hour and a half ago. So here you are, at 9:45 in the evening, full dark, relying on a narrow, little, neighborhood-watch-attracting shaft of illumination from a Maglite to peer in between houses and under bushes. If he's hiding, he's going to stay hid. Your only chance is that you'll happen to run into him as he crosses a street or driveway, or that on your next stop home you'll look in the garage and he’ll be curled up in the half-trashed armchair you're keeping out there.

Trash called off the search at 10:10. I sat in my study, working on my recap for about a half hour or so, even though I felt the opposite of funny (TWoP haters, keep it zipped). I also felt cold, because the back door was open in case Strat wandered into the back yard to eat the tuna we'd left on the deck. Of course the door from the study to the hallway was closed, because the last thing we needed was to also lose a cat that doesn't come back. Every ten minutes or so, I'd get up and go outside, looking for him in the garage, checking to see if the tuna was on the front step, what have you. Every time I went out, there was no sign.

I gave up writing at about 11:00, and I went out the back and around to the front. In the front yard, I met Trash, who had happened to step out the front door at about the same time. She wandered a few doors north, while I went to the south corner of the block. We regrouped again in front of the house, wondering what to do next, looking around instead of each other.

Which is when I spotted a moving white smudge in the darkness behind the high school. "There he is," I said, a bit prematurely.

I slowly approached it, not wanting to spook it. Even if it was just Fievel or an albino rabbit, I wanted to be sure before I scared it off. It dropped into a nervous crouch when I was about thirty feet away. I did the same. And then Strat came to me.

Trash carried him home and gave him the tuna we'd been saving for him. After calling both the 24-hour emergency vet and the 24-hour Walgreen's, we were satisfied that the best thing to do was to give him his regular dose of insulin, three hours later. And lots of love, of course. Because once again, we didn't find him. He came back.

So that's why I didn't write a blog entry last night.

posted by M. Giant 10:00 PM 3 comments

3 Comments:

I'm so glad that you found him and were able to keep your cool. I would have burst into tears by 10 pm. Drat that Strat!

By Blogger Weetablog, at May 19, 2006 at 7:48 AM  

Damn it, Strat! You should scare your people like that. I'm glad he came home, M. Giant. You have had enough kitty troubles in the last couple of years.

By Anonymous Erin, at May 19, 2006 at 10:03 AM  

We jokingly refer to our oldest cat, Budddy, as our LSD cat because he has a brain disorder which makes him resemble someone with Alzheimer's. He forgets that he can jump up onto the counter where the cats are fed but remembers that he can jump into my lap. We are always on alert when he goes into the fenced backyard because he sometimes forgets where the back door is. Pets can be so trying.

By Blogger just sayin', at May 19, 2006 at 12:47 PM  

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Sunday, May 14, 2006  

Plumbing a Mystery

The last time we had a plumber out to fix out bathtub drain, we knew it wouldn't be the last time. The plumber even said so. "Now you can start clogging it up again," had been his parting bon mot. I bade him farewell, secure in the knowledge that when he came back, M. Small would be M. Edium, the plumber might be replaced by his own son, and we might not even be living here any more.

That was four months ago.

I knew something was up the other day. What was up? M. Small's bathwater. It was up because it wasn't going down the drain after we were finished with his bath. Trash had been the last person to take a shower, and the last one I'd taken had gone down the drain just fine. So, having watched a lot of cop shows in my time, I decided to try and extract a confession.

"Did you try to eat your breakfast in the shower the other morning and end up dropping most of it down the drain?" I asked smoothly. Trash, naturally, denied it. "You sure?" I pressed. "Not even a big, flaky Danish that would have expanded when it got damp?" Trash reminded me that the only way she would have had a Danish is if I'd gone out and gotten her one, which I hadn't. Undaunted, I refused to let it drop. "I could understand," I good-copped. "It's busy and hectic in the mornings, you want to shave off a couple of minutes. So you think, hey, I'll multitask. Eat my Danish in the shower." Trash insisted that she would have remembered doing any such thing, which she didn't. I pretended to let her off the hook for now, but I was merely trying a different tack. "Okay," I said, knowing the next thing I said would fold her like a deck chair. "Looks like I'll have to call the plumber again."

Trash thought that was a great idea. "I'm willing to pay $85 every four months if I have to," she said. Clearly I was dealing with a very cool customer. Even the threat of the evidence against her being discovered didn't worry her.

But I called her bluff. And the plumber. M. Small happened to be home from day care with the sniffles that day, so Mom was at the house to let the plumber in. Which she did. When Trash and I got home from work that evening, the plumber was gone and the bathtub drain worked great.

"Did my mom say what the plumber found?" I asked Trash that night, all casual-like. Trash said Mom hadn't asked. Clearly, she'd gotten to her.

"That's cool," I assured Trash. "I have the plumber's personal cell phone number. I'll call him tomorrow." And then I went to sleep, secure in the knowledge that Trash would be up all night stewing in the inevitability of her busted-ocity.

As good as my word, I called the plumber from work the next day to ask him what he found. "Walnut Danish? Raspberry Bismarck? What are we looking at here?"

"Nah," the plumber said. "It was one of those baby washcloths. And some hair."

Oops.

Of course we have a little plastic strainer for our bathtub drain, but I take it out for M. Small's baths. Otherwise he spends the whole time trying to take it out and play with it, and would probably try to put it in his mouth. Makes it hard to get him clean when he's fixated on the little item. And, as I learned, it makes it easy for one of his tiny little squishy washcloths to escape when I drain the water.

That's what sucks about this. I can't even blame the kid, because I know he didn't do it. I never take my eyes off him for a second when he's in the tub, and I'm able to foil his 15-20 attempts per bath to stuff his washcloth down the drain. No, this is because after he was in bed, I went back in and drained the water and didn't make sure I wasn't also draining laundry. Laundry which would certainly clog our drain and cause me to make scurrilous and unfounded accusations against my lovely wife.

Naturally, I did tell Trash what the plumber found, and apologized for trying to pin it on her. To make it right, I should really sneak out and buy her breakfast some morning this week. I'll give it to her after she gets out of the shower.

posted by M. Giant 9:10 PM 3 comments

3 Comments:

Awwww, sweet! Your story reminds me of two bathroom things: One, that episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer decides to live in his shower and Jerry was horrified that he was eating in there.
Two, a well known story from my schoolyears in which one of my friends who had just finished having a bath, called out to her mum to tell her that the water wouldn't drain. When her mum came in, she found my friend sitting in the bathtub with her foot jammed in the drain pipe, having somehow popped the grates. They had to call out the firetrucks. My friend stood by her claim that "I didn't do it".

By Anonymous Cafrine, at May 14, 2006 at 10:53 PM  

A more expensive Baby + Water related mishap: My sister and BIL had to call in a repairman for their washing machine when it stopped draining and starting spewing sudsy water all over their basement floor instead. The culprit? My nephew's socks. (At least we found out that THAT is where they go!)

By Blogger Heather, at May 15, 2006 at 6:47 AM  

Do you read Dooce, by any chance? You should be thankful -- they found an enitre beach towel in the sewer lines.

By Anonymous Deb, at May 15, 2006 at 7:01 AM  

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Friday, May 12, 2006  

Last week, Trash and Bitter and our sister-in-law were hanging out on the front steps, just chatting. And then suddenly Trash shushed them. It seemed she had heard a voice over the loudspeaker a block away, the one at the high school race track. And this time, she didn't want to miss it.

Bitter and Sister-in-law, of course, had no idea whatsoever what she was talking about. So after making sure it wouldn't happen again, Trash told the story from a few years ago. And she convinced me to repost it here. Please see below, and forgive the re-run.

***

This is what I heard the other night while I was watering the front yard:

“ALL ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS! PLEASE MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

No, I hadn’t mistakenly filled my drop-spreader with PCP or accidentally kicked over a wacky mushroom growing on my property. The local high school has a football field and race track a couple of blocks away, right next to the park. Every once in a while we hear what’s going on over there; a football game, or commencement ceremony, or whatever. This fell dead center in the “whatever” category. I went back to watering.

“ONLY EIGHT PEOPLE ARE IN THE CENTER OF THE FIELD. I SEE MANY PEOPLE MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. ALL ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS PLEASE MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

I had to ease up on the spray nozzle to hear properly. I listened for a few more seconds, but no more Hokey-Pokey-related announcements were forthcoming and the nascent blades I’d planted a couple of weeks before were crying out for moisture. I started spraying again, then stopped a minute later.

“IF YOU HAVE MISPLACED A PAIR OF SIZE 7½ TIGERS, COME TO THE ANNOUNCER’S BOOTH TO CLAIM THEM. THEN RETURN TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

At this point, I probably should have gone into the house to fetch Trash; she might want to hear this. But I figured that by the time I got her outside where she could hear, there’d be nothing to listen to. I figured wrong, as an announcement several minutes later demonstrated:

“WE ARE STILL WAITING FOR ALL ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS TO MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD. PLEASE MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD NOW AND FORM A CIRCLE FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

Whoever this guy was, he had a microphone and a PA, he was not afraid to use them, and he was not giving up on his Hokey-Pokey. By the way, my backyard looks great now, thanks for asking. I mowed it for the first time this past weekend and it looks like a golf course.

“PLEASE FORM A CIRCLE NOW FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

The front yard, on the other hand, still has some dead spots where I’m waiting for seeds to sprout. I’ve learned that it’s almost easier to restart a lawn from scratch than it is to patch a damaged one. I finished up and coiled the hose next to the house.

“PLEASE FORM A CIRCLE. THAT IS NOT A CIRCLE.”

Okay, I know that, it’s really more like a long, narrow, messy oval whose length is more or less equal to that of the side of my house,, but I’m not going to waste time coiling up my hose all anal-retentive-like when I’m just going to have to pull it out straight again in twelve hours or so. And for the life of me, I can’t think of a way to rephrase that to make it sound not dirty.

“THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION. PLEASE STAND BY FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”

I went inside to fetch Trash for our evening walk around the block. We stepped out to the sidewalk in front of our house, Trash bearing in a direction away from the park.

“YOU PUT YOUR LEFT FOOT IN, YOU PUT YOUR LEFT FOOT OUT…”

I didn’t know she could turn around that fast. She wanted to know what was going on at the athletic field. By the time we arrived, I’d brought her up to speed and the Hokey-Pokey was over by the time we got there, in less time that it had taken to make it happen in the first place.

Trash and I giggled at the mortified high-school track stars slinking onto their buses, avoiding each others’ eyes like frat boys the morning after a long, debauched party with more beer than women. It’s only days away from graduation for the seniors, and we just knew some of them were thinking that they were at a point in their academic careers where they could immolate a litter of kittens in the principal’s office and still expect a diploma, yet some announcer’s-booth General Ripper had debased them so thoroughly.

And what can one say about that, other than the fact that that’s what it’s all about?

posted by M. Giant 8:52 PM 4 comments

4 Comments:

If it had been the hokey-pokey, could you have run to the field in time to see all the shuffling about? That would be quite an internet video. ;)

By Blogger Lady M, at May 13, 2006 at 12:02 AM  

No problem on the rerun - it was still hilarious the second time around.

A big Happy Mother's Day to Trash!

By Blogger Nancy, at May 14, 2006 at 1:14 PM  

I can think of few things that would be more upsetting to a high school senior than doing the hokey pokey with ALL ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS in the center of the track field. What was that guy thinking? And can I hire him for parties?

By Anonymous Maureen, at May 15, 2006 at 6:52 AM  

2 years of schooling to become a radio announcer: $8,000

Having to purchase your own microphone and amp: $2,000

“ONLY EIGHT PEOPLE ARE IN THE CENTER OF THE FIELD. I SEE MANY PEOPLE MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. ALL ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS PLEASE MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD FOR THE HOKEY-POKEY.”: Priceless

By Anonymous Michelle, at May 15, 2006 at 9:57 AM  

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Thursday, May 11, 2006  

Now that the weather is nicer, M. Small loves to spend as much time outside as he possibly can. He also likes to spend as little time on the changing table as possible. This last bit is true regardless of the weather.

So last weekend, after I finished changing his diaper, I set him down feet-first on the floor. Without pausing or looking back, he immediately stomped out of the room, grabbing his jacket off of his doorknob as he went. He continued storming down the hall towards the back door, angrily saying, "BYE!"

His dramatic exit would have had a lot more impact had he not then required me to put his jacket on and open the door for him.

posted by M. Giant 8:46 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

At least he let you finish changing him. My neice is 18 months old and leaves without pants on...so naked baby runs away. And yells bye at the top of her lungs.

By Blogger Libragirl, at May 12, 2006 at 2:34 AM  

Sorry, M. Giant, but it sounds like you have a teenage boy in the house. Perhaps you could think of this as practice?

By Anonymous Chelle, at May 12, 2006 at 6:27 AM  

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006  

The Heartbreak of Infertility

We've had lots of rain the past week or two. Which is good, because it means I don't have to spend as much time watering the new grass back there.

Yes, I've seeded the back yard. For the fifth year in a row.

Right now it's the best time, when it's been a few weeks since the seeding and the bright-green blades are popping up. It's always a heartening sight. One tries to forget that in a few more weeks, all those adorable little plants, symbolic of hope and rebirth and the circle of life and all that happy crappy, will be dead.

But I'm making progress. There's a little less bare ground every spring. Even Trash has to admit that every year, when the snow melts, there's a little more green underneath. Which is a nice change from what she's been doing the past couple of years, which is to come up with reasons to minimize the yard space and thus the area of dead, barren land.

"Why don't we extend the patio a little further this year?" she might say.

"How far?" I might hypothetically respond.

"To the property line," this entirely speculative exchange would end.

But now she's pulling for the grass. I knew she'd come around. All it took was persistence, and she's recognizing that now. It's been a lot of work, but I can now definitively say that a healthy, green, resilient lawn in our back yard is at most fifteen or twenty years away.

While the grass has been making progress, there's one thing I don't understand. Trash's favorite flower is the lilac. We didn't have any lilac bushes on our property when we moved in. We always said we'd have them at our next house. But eventually I got tired of making her wait, and I went to the nursery and bought her one, which I planted next to the garage. This was a gift for her anniversary, which is in September, so I of course wasn't expecting any lavender blooms that year. We'd just have to wait until spring.

Spring came, and nothing. But it was still relatively new there, and it had been a rough winter. Something would come out next spring, we were sure. And the next, and the next.

And the next.

Here it is now, I think the fifth spring since I bought that stupid thing, and we've never gotten more than a greenish-brown sprig or two. Purple is bursting out all over the neighborhood, and all we get of it is when we ask M. Small to say it.

Maybe it's the stubbornly arid soil of my backyard. Or maybe the lilac bush just doesn't get enough sun where it is.

I know: problem solved. If it goes another year without blooming, I'll just knock down the garage.

posted by M. Giant 8:53 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

Strangely, I planted a lilac tree (a bush, really, it's so young) in the front yard five years ago. It's strange because while it bothers to push forth a few wilted leaves to show that I shouldn't mow over it just yet, it has yet to bother with the whole bloom thing. I'm not sure whether it's a dude, a runt, or just taking its bloody time blooming.

By Anonymous Gingre, at May 11, 2006 at 2:33 AM  

My mother has seeded and carefully tended our large back lawn every year for the last 23 years - and it still looks like crap. Except for that one time someone left a bag of fertilizer out all night and it rained - so we had a steroidally green patch that year. And we too have bought flowering bushes that never did much.

By Anonymous elizabell, at May 11, 2006 at 2:59 AM  

I bought a lilac bush 6 years ago and it didn't bloom until this spring. I did some checking last year and found out from a local nursery guy that it's not uncommon for them to be bloomless for 4-5 years. Or maybe it was the threat of the woodchipper....

By Anonymous Annie R, at May 11, 2006 at 4:50 AM  

Lilacs do need a lot of sun to bloom. Some idjit planted a whole row of them along the property line of my old house -- in the shade zone of the neighboring woodlot. They were already mature bushes when we moved in, and they never bloomed once in the fifteen years I lived there. The four little ones I planted out in the full sun at the front of the yard bloomed the first Spring and every year after.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 11, 2006 at 5:22 AM  

I know there must be a way to blame Dr. Jellyfinger for this. Maybe you should tell the U of M you found part of a Lakota settlement. Then maybe they'd get that archeological ground-sonar thing and scan the backyard.

Can't be more than, what, a couple drums of medical waste down there. How long did the guy own the house?

By Blogger Febrifuge, at May 11, 2006 at 12:10 PM  

We have a lot of mature trees in our backyard that put out a lot of shade, so a lawn was thought pretty much impossible for a long, long time. We've been here like 16 years and my dad never really bothered with trying to grow grass. Last year I had the brilliant idea of trying yet again, and buying one of those mats that's supposed to help germinate the seed and then breakdown in an awesome environmental way. Except it needs sun to do that. So we spent an entire afternoon digging up the soil, getting rid of roots, mixing in good dirt with the clay, seeding, and fertilizing, and have nothing to show for it, because while some grass did grow, it all died. This year I went at it and just threw down some grass seed, and it seems to be working, although it still doesn't seem strong enough to walk on, so we've been circumventing all traffic down the side of the house and around to the patio, which is a pain. Good luck with your mission, it is possible, just give it another couple of years, then buy sod if you're desperate.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 12, 2006 at 4:08 PM  

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Sunday, May 07, 2006  

Word Up

M. Small is at the age where he learns a new word almost every day. According to the list we've been keeping, he's got more than sixty overall. That's if we count sound effects, words he hasn't said for a while, and "E-I-E-I-O." Which we're totally counting.

They're written in three columns on a sheet of printer paper. Bitter was over the other night, and she saw it on the center island, picked it up, and looked at it. "Do you like my story?" I said. I don't think she heard me.

As of this weekend, he's got four words for food, whereas he originally only had one: "cookie." A few weeks ago he also learned "peas," which believe it or not he actually likes more than cookies (freak). And he also knows Jell-O, which is surprising considering it's not something he eats all that often. Maybe once every week or two. But can he say "milk" or "toast?" Nope. This weekend he learned his fourth food word, "apple." He pronounces it "AP-ohhh," of course, and it seems to apply to all fruit, but it counts.

He's also got a more general food word, which is "hungry." He pronounces it similar to the way he pronounces "honey" and "hurry," which are also words that he uses when we're getting a meal ready for him. Probably because Trash and I use those last two words a lot with each other at those times.

He's also learning the names of colors. He was watching a Baby Einstein video a couple of weeks ago, the one where there's a little vignette for each color. The little girl on the screen said "purple." M. Small responded, "Puh-pohhh." His first color. I think that's probably true of all children in Minneapolis. You know, because of Prince.

He doesn't know many adjectives yet, but a new one he learned this week is "heavy." He was at my mom's for the evening, and he kept picking up stuff off her coffee table and saying, "Heavy." Unfortunately, I wasn't there to see him messing with my mom's stuff and to say, "Then put it down, genius."

He can only say the name of one of our cats. Naturally it's Turtle (or "TURT-ohhh"). But today, when he and I and the neighbors were hanging out in the back yard, he also learned the name of their ginormous chocolate lab, Oscar. He understands the "Can you say_____" construction, well enough that sometimes he'll be convinced to pronounce a word that I'm not sure he understands. The rest of the time he'll just sort of smile shyly, like he's flattered that we think he could aspire to something as lofty as saying Strat's name. But once he managed to get one "AHK-guhhhh" out, he just couldn't stop.

Trash came out a minute later.

"New word," I said in that way that I hope doesn't mean we're getting jaded.

"What?" she said.

"AHK-guhhhh!" M. Small said.

"That," I said.

"What?" she said.

I started to tell M. Small to say it again, but by that time he was already saying it. Trash understood it this time, possibly helped along by his laser-like focus on the giant dog in the driveway.

He spent a fair proportion of the morning yelling at Oscar from on the deck. That's pretty much the only way he ever hears Oscar's name, because whenever they're outside together Oscar wants nothing more than to go up to M. Small, lower his head, and lick my son on the face. Today M. Small got his revenge by yelling over and over again, "AHK-guhhhh! No! AHK-guhhh! AKH-guhhh! AKH-guhhhh! No!"

He couldn't get enough of that. In fact when I was putting him into his PJs tonight, he gave up his usual flailing and just lay on the changing table, glaring and shaking his finger at a spot on the ceiling, repeating. "AHK-guhhh! No!"

"No!"

"No!"

"No!"

"No!"

We're really glad that he hasn't figured out yet that he could try that word on us.

Trash is no longer "Mama," for some reason. She's graduated to "Mommy." From there it's only a matter of time before he starts calling her "Mom," "Mother," and/or "Jeez, maahm!"

And "Mommy" was also part of his very first complete, grammatically correct sentence, which he uttered Thursday. "I want Mommy!" he sobbed into her shoulder as she held him tightly. Maybe he's not entirely clear on the meaning, but there was a subject, and object and a verb, so it counts. Also, it wasn't so much Thursday night as Friday morning, at about 1:30, and he'd woken up with some cold symptoms. So like some of his other milestones, it was a bittersweet moment. He couldn't say it happily, at six in the evening?

It's like another one that came out of the blue last week. I was snacking in the kitchen and he came in and asked, "Cookie, peeee?" ("Peeeee?" Is how he says "please"). I handed him a cracker and said, "There you go." As he turned and toddled away from me with his prize, he said, "Ankyoo."

Totally blew my mind, just like the first time he said "please" out of nowhere. We sure hadn't started teaching him "thank you" yet. We didn't think he was ready. They must keep those kids polite at day care or something.

That sheet of typing paper is almost half-full, and one of my fears is that he'll start learning words faster than we can keep up with them. But then I realize that this time next year, I'll be able to have conversations with my son.

That might be a little weird when I'm changing his diaper at the same time.

posted by M. Giant 7:56 PM 10 comments

10 Comments:

Ahhhhhh! That's it -- I'm getting me one of those!

By Anonymous Terri, at May 7, 2006 at 8:23 PM  

Oh my god, that was cute. What a great way to start the morning - thanks. And how great that you're writing everything down; we didn't (confident of our superior brains and all) and now we can't remember a damned thing about either child. It's a wonder we remember to pick them up every day.

By Blogger Sweetie Darling, at May 8, 2006 at 4:11 AM  

Cute, cute! We wrote down all of our daughter's first words too (she was a slightly late talker so we were keeping track for the therapist). Once she hit 97 words (at 22 months) they were coming at a rate of 10-15 a day and I just couldn't keep up. Having conversations with a toddler is the best, though! You have a lot to look forward too!

By Blogger Katie, at May 8, 2006 at 6:07 AM  

No, no. Not because of Prince. I hate to break it to you, but you're raising a Vikings fan. Poor kid.

By Anonymous Erin, at May 8, 2006 at 6:50 AM  

See I was going to be even more negative than saying "Vikings" for Prince, and point out the whole Barney conspiracy that creeps into the toddler lifestyle, even when the parents try to protect from it. All kids seem to pick up purple, when Barney is that color.

By Anonymous mommylap, at May 8, 2006 at 9:13 AM  

My goddaughter has a cat named Oscar, and her third word (after mama and dada) was OX-ahhhhr. Or, yes, Oscar. Everytime the poor thing heard "OX-ahhhr!" from the other room he would jump straight to the top of his kittie tree. They have since made amends and are now friends, though the kittie tree is still his sanctuary.

By Blogger lumenatrix, at May 8, 2006 at 9:55 AM  

M. Giant, would you stop making my ovaries twitch, please? Like working in a neonatal ICU wasn't enough, geeeez.

By Anonymous elizabell, at May 8, 2006 at 10:24 AM  

At just over one year old, Sam says "Da" for "Dad" and "Daw" for "Dobbs" (our dog). He says both these words with happy excitement. And how does he say "Ma"? Usually angrily, because it means he wants me to do something and I haven't snapped to it quickly enough. Kids.

By Blogger Doppelganger, at May 8, 2006 at 8:34 PM  

Do you read Dooce? Because I think M. Small should marry the little girl over there -- her current language development is almost as cute as M. Small's.

By Anonymous Mary Anne, at May 9, 2006 at 8:30 AM  

What's with toddlers and purple?! Lucas is 2, and he's fascinated with the color purple... I think it's because of his favorite of The Wiggles, Jeff. It figures that his favorite would be the lamest one whose "thing" is that he sleeps all the time!

Kat from jersey

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 16, 2006 at 2:06 PM  

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006  

Tale of the Tape

Trash is the one in this family with the grasp of high technology. She can take a computer apart and put it back together and everything. What's more, it'll work afterwards. It took a few years to train our families that when they had computer questions they should ask her and not me, but now they do.

She does have the odd blind spot, however. For instance, she frequently finds herself flummoxed by the TV remote. There have been numerous occasion when she's called me downstairs, unable to operate the television because of something M. Small or I have done to the device since she last used it. I'll go downstairs, hit a couple of buttons, and hand it back to her, its functionality restored. I still acknowledge her technological superiority; this is just one little glitch. It's like how I can never decide when to capitalize the word President in my 24 recaps. Apparently I'm guilty of looking a little irritated when I have to help her with the remote, for which I am sorry. For reasons that will soon become apparent.

Last night, she was watching American Idol in the study, on the little TV/VCR I use for recapping. The study has a back door that opens out into our backyard, and M. Small was going in and out of there while I was working on Trash's new bike outside. After I finished with that, I gave M. Small his bath and got him put to bed. A few minutes later, the show ended and Trash complained that she was unable to change the channel.

I became filled with a sense of foreboding.

In the mornings, when we're both hurried and harried and trying to get out the door, we sometimes let M. Small watch a few minutes of a Baby Einstein video in the study to take some of the pressure off of us so we can do what we need to do. And when it's time to go, the door to the backyard and the garage is right there, so we're able to effect a smooth exit. Normally, at the end of a late evening of recapping, I'm supposed to take the 24 tape out of the machine and swap it for a Bay Einstein tape. One less thing to deal with the next morning when things are hectic. I'm pretty good about remembering. But Trash's complaint about the remote not working clued me in that maybe the night before…I hadn't.

Indeed, I took the remote, hit the display key, and discovered that the VCR had been recording for fifty-two minutes. When I'd left off recapping the night before, I was fifteen minutes into the episode. Now the last forty-five had been replaced by so much amateur warbling and judge feuding. Suddenly, the capitalization of the word "president" became the last of my 24-recap-related concerns.

I asked Trash what the hell had happened. All she could say was that M. Small had been in there, playing with the remote, and that she hadn't been able to change channels since. "Why didn't you tell me that?" I demanded. This is where my history of irritated faces at having to fix the remote control for her becomes germane to the story.

Now, I could ask Sars for an extension, but that'll just put me behind for next week, which I don't need. So with Trash's help, I was able to get a hold of an electronic version of the episode by means which I am assured are completely legal (and also kind of expensive, so I'm inclined to believe that). Now I'm the proud owner of a membership to some website, and a hole in my fourth tape of Season Five that'll have to wait to be filled until reruns come around on A&E or a local affiliate some time this fall.

Trash feels really bad that this happened while she was in the room, and that she didn't say anything to me until it was too late. As for me, I'm going to try a lot harder to remember to swap out that tape before I go to bed at night.

And also work on looking less irritated. It was tough last night, though.

posted by M. Giant 8:46 PM 4 comments

4 Comments:

A friend of mine who had carefully arranged to have her wedding video-taped some years ago was dismayed to find her husband had taped an episode of "Dr. Who" over it, only a month after the gala event. I think she's got you beat — no website to recapture that.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 4, 2006 at 7:22 AM  

Ahh yes.. wedding videos - a friend of our was going to video our wedding, and despite his wife's (repeated) reminders to put new batteries in the camera, he missed that bit. So somewhere out there (I've never seen it, 6 years later) is an interview of my husband all cute and nervous in his tux n' tie...but that was where the battery died.

By Blogger Meepers, at May 4, 2006 at 12:31 PM  

So are you telling us yout STILL don't have Tivo? Are you NUTS?

By Anonymous Pam, at May 4, 2006 at 6:50 PM  

I thought you were going to say that you found Small watching 24 in the morning.

"Daa? I gon' needa hacksaw."

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 6, 2006 at 2:06 PM  

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