Let Them Eat Those Little Whaddaya-Call-'Em Italian Cookies

It's Friday, y'all! Whoo hoo! Let's wrap this week up and then commence with the heavy drinking, shall we? It's what all the cool kids are doing.


Do they still have those alligator wrestlers in Florida? The Seminole ones? I wonder if they ever recruit from out of state, because I think we may have a live one here. Assuming that Seminole alligator wrestlers ever wrestle polyvinyl pool toys, of course. Everybody's got to start somewhere, don't they?


Caption this. No, I mean it: caption this. Because I got nothin'. I'm pretty sure that's some kind of preschool primal-growl-roar-scream thing going on, maybe even a barbaric yawp, but from the right angle ("right" being "correct" or "proper" here, and not the geometric 90°) it looks like it could also possibly be a yawn. Maybe. If you've been drinking enough (or maybe if you have not been drinking enough).


Oh hey, how did this little bit of delightfully delectable deliciousness get in there? Om nom NOM! Look at those CHEEKS! Look at those ARMS! Look at those ADORABLE LITTLE TEEFERS! Also: she has my mother's eyes, and the same missing upper lip that the rest of the women in my family have. This one is definitely related.


As promised (and expected, at this point, because there ALWAYS has to be a picture of my kid eating something on this blog every week or else I feel like a complete and utter failure as a human being): those little whaadya-call-'em Italian cookies. They probably have a fawncey-sounding name that ends in "i" or "o" or possibly "ei" or "ie." Cookie, maybe.


BONUS! Juice box hero. Have a great weekend.



For two years when I was in junior high -- 7th and 8th grades, maybe, or possibly 8th and 9th grades -- I was a cheerleader. There are probably incriminating photos somewhere, but I won't admit to having any in my personal possession. At any rate, when I was cheering, it wasn't a sport like it is now, with all the aerial acrobatics and dance routines and international competitions on ESPN; I was just your garden-variety cheerleader on the sidelines at a Pop Warner game on a Sunday, with the pom-poms and the megaphone and the pleated skirt and the saddle shoes. Boy, could I rock a pair of saddle shoes (and I still do, occasionally, when the spirit moves me).

I wasn't particularly gymnastically inclined: I could do one- and two-handed cartwheels and round offs, back bends, a small variety of basic jumps, and splits in both directions, but my repertoire was decidedly limited compared to what some of the other girls on the squad could do. My primary skill-set included crisp arm moves, excellent spirit fingers, the ability to project my voice without actually shouting due to years of choral training -- and, since I was a swimmer and therefore one of the "studier" girls on the team, I was always, without fail, one of the spotters for any stunts or, more likely, one of the corners of any mounts that we would do for our halftime routines.


My kid, the Flying Wallenda? If she becomes a cheerleader, she's going to be that girl at the top of every pyramid, the one who does double back flips and otherwise spins through the air like a top while she twirls over the 50-yard line, 20 feet in the air, with sparklers in each hand and possibly another one between her teeth.

And it's going to be AWESOME.


I Spy With My Little Eye

Despite all evidence to the contrary, we don't spend the entire weekend in the pool. Most of it, yes -- the vast majority, even -- but sometimes we do find alternative ways to amuse ourselves. Even in the 100°F-plus heat.


Someone got Shae a pair of these Sunny Patch binoculars for her birthday (there is also a boys' version). I don't know why we haven't gotten them out already, or how she even found them in the 80 bajillion metric tons of toys in our living room -- don't ask, you don't want to know -- but apparently she's been learning about binoculars while she's been on "safari" at school or something, because she knew exactly what to do with them.


She headed up into the cornfields behind my grandparents' house and tried to see what sorts of trouble she could get herself into. She didn't see much, but she enjoyed being allowed to run wild in the high grass and the soybean rows. At least, I think they're soybeans -- I'm honestly not sure. Maybe it's alfalfa? I know it's not corn this year (that, I can identify), and I'm pretty sure the farmer practices nitrogen-fixing crop rotation. Anyway, she didn't see much back there except dried corn husks from previous summers, but I came literally face-to-face with several locusts. Make a note: it really HURTS when a locust flies into your face repeatedly.


She also smelled my grandparents' butterfly bush ("it doesn't smell like anything"), which really puts mine to shame. Theirs isn't as tall as mine -- the one in our yard is about 12 feet high, no joke -- but it's much bushier, and it has tons of purple flowers. I love my butterfly bush, but it am partial to the purple-flowered ones, and I especially love the rainbow ones, which I have never actually seen in the wild, but they always look so pretty in the nursery catalogs.


Off The Deep End

Still trying to figure out how to make movies. Well, not make them, exactly -- that's basically "point and shoot and let iMovie sort it out" -- but, you know. I can't always edit my clips to be the right length to go with music I have in iTunes because (1) I don't always get much footage because (2) I am trying to keep my kid from accidentally or intentionally setting things on fire and also (3) if I did that, some members of the peanut gallery might complain when, say, birthday movies are over five minutes long.

Also: sometimes when I am filming, I am doing something "not typical," such as treading water in the deep end of the pool where it is 8½ feet deep while my kid repeatedly, constantly jumps directly at my face for like 5 minutes and I am trying to keep both her and myownself from drowning. Plus, my grandparents' pool has this vacuum that makes these sort of weird helicopter-esque noises that always get picked up by the camera and makes it sound like I have secretly replaced the actual soundtrack with something from The Terminator.

All of this is to say that I have replaced the original backing track from this film with generic "swimming pool" noises that came with the editing software. Nobody needs to hear the Vacuum-Copter, or me trying to direct my kid while she is happily diving into the deep end, sans floaties, showing off for her mama, who is ever so proud of her because COME ON. Apple, tree, falling, etc.

I don't think I will ever get tired of watching this kid being eleventy kinds of awesome. EVER.


Challenge: An Exercise in Self-Acceptance

Shae has been saying things lately that upset me: "I wish I had long blonde hair like Rapunzel." "I wish I were beautiful like Belle." "I wish I could sing like Ariel." "My feet are too big." "I don't want to get old and mean and ugly." "I wish I were perfect like ..."

She has no idea how perfect she already is.

As a feminist, but mostly as a human being who has a working brain, I have an intense dislike for princess culture. We watch Disney movies in our house, because I love the music and the art, but I do worry about the examples that your typical princess movies are setting for my daughter. I don't like the way that physical beauty and passivity are prized characteristics in those women. I understand that they are products of another time, but I don't understand why Snow White and Cinderella are such paragons of feminine virtue.

The world needs more princesses like Leia, is what I am saying.

So to set a good example for her, to encourage her to love all the things about herself that I so admire -- her spunk, her smarts, her take-no-nonsense attitude. And to be a good role model, I need to take ownership of my attitude about myself. Be the change I want to see, and all that. I am following the lead of my online friend and back-haver-in-a-parking-lot-slap-fight, Chibi Jeebs, and accepting this challenge.

Part One: "Think about how your best friend would compliment your best features. I want you to think of five great things about your body. FIVE. And no Christmas-tree ornaments/negative riders on this. Five 100% HONEST, POSITIVE things you love about yourself."

1. I have big, bright, clear, pretty blue eyes that look good in glasses.
2. My hair is healthy and shiny, and I love the color (people pay good money for this color).
3. I love the way I tan gradually, the freckles slowly expanding into one another, like a chocolate chip cookie.
4. My bosoms: They're real, and they're spectacular.
5. I love my laugh lines, because I have earned every one of them.

Part One-A: Extra credit. Five non-physical traits that I love about myself.

1. I am one of the smartest people I know.
2. I am a good singer, and even if I am not, I still love singing and do it every chance I get.
3. I am funny -- I make others laugh, but I crack myself up regularly.
4. I will fight to the death anyone who gets in the way of my family/friends and their happiness.
5. I take commitments seriously, and nobody can make me feel worse about breaking a promise than I make myself feel.

Part Two: "I want you to pick 5 NON PHYSICAL things you can change about yourself (like, read 1 more chapter of a book per day, or take an extra 10 minutes in the shower) to feel better about yourself."

1. Get pedicures regularly. My daughter doesn't want to have "old feet" -- i.e., cracked dry heels and trashy polish -- and neither do I. I resolve to start budgeting $10 from every paycheck so I can get a spa pedicure once every 2 months.
2. Drink more water. I've been trying to drink lots of water, but I don't really like it when it's "plain," so I don't drink as much as I should. I'm going to try to remember to buy limes or lemons or oranges -- maybe even cucumbers -- to cut up and put in my water. I might even buy myself a pretty, fancy glass.
3. Go to bed earlier. I don't need enough sleep, and I am grumpy and irritable and I don't like it. I need to set a firm bedtime and stick to it. Period.
4. Relax. Take a few minutes a few times a day -- a few minutes every hour, if I need to -- to take deep breaths, stretch, stop thinking about whatever and unwind. I am very tightly coiled, generally speaking, and I need to stop that.
5. Make a to-do list, and stick to it. Determine what I need to do, adjust as necessary, and weed out the stuff that can be delegated or rescheduled. (Focusing my energy and efforts better will also help me relax.)

So, who else is in?


Up Up And Away

Not sure if I mentioned it or not, but I got a new computer for my birthday (an iMac) and I haven't yet figured out how to make good movies yet -- well, not that I ever did, really, but I had finally managed to learn how to work Windows Movie Maker just before we got the Flip camera, and that came with its own Magic Movie software (see example movie here) which doesn't run on the Mac, either because of Operator Malfunction or because it just doesn't, and while I think that iMovie is pretty easy to figure out eventually, I still haven't mastered it yet.


Here is a movie of my kid doing her favorite thing in the world right this second -- or perhaps it is more precise to say, she is having her favorite thing in the world right this second being done to her. (That sounds potentially questionable, but it isn't, I swear.)

(Sometimes music seems like a weird choice, but it just somehow fits, you know? Timing of splashes is totally coincidental, because as I might have mentioned, I haven't figured out how to make proper edits yet.)


See You Later Alligator

Return of the Great Polyvinyl Alligator (who never, technically, went away, but it's been awhile since he was featured as a Special Guest Star on the ol' blog-a-vision).


Now, I will be the first person to tell you that THE ABSOLUTE LAST THING that Shae needs is a Partner in Crime, but you know what? My extended family is a more-than-moderate amount of awesome, so as is generally the case, I don't mind. The other adorable moppet in this photo is my (second) cousin AJ's kid, Akira, who is ALSO known as AJ, which certainly makes things interesting at family gatherings. Akira is "Hanna Banana"'s big brother.


I am pretty sure that my kid wore this bathing suit the last time Mr. Gator made an appearance. I am also pretty sure that this swimsuit was more of a two-piece and less of an actual bikini last time. +1 for skinny kids not growing out of their suits too fast, but a big -1 for little girls who grow up all long and leggy like dahlias. (Which is a net zero, I suppose, although her father might argue otherwise, even though he is also coming to terms with the Overwhelming Bikini-ness of Modern Times, but he and I both draw the line at padded bikini tops for our preschooler, because down that path lies Crazytown.)


I believe we are now getting to the point in the summer where  I hope ever-so-wistfully that it never ends, because nothing pleases me more than offloading 200-plus pictures from my camera every weekend, and they're all filled with miles and miles of my daughter's dazzling white smiles.


Let Them Eat ... Watermelon

We didn't eat any cake or cupcakes this week because I am an absolutely terrible parent, but hopefully these photos of my kid eating some particularly juicy watermelon will satisfy your craving for the pictures of my kid eating stuff that have unexpectedly and inexplicably become the trademark of this here blog-a-roonie.


Like her mama, she gnaws off every teeny bit of pink that she can find on the rind. Can't waste one little taste of that delicious, delicious melon. It's kind of inspiring.


She's not really offering to share, you know. She's just showing you how she chews right down to the white part, like I taught her. She's no dummy -- the best part is the sweet stuff right next to the bitter rind. I'm so proud of her.


You're welcome. Have a nice weekend, you guys!


Went To A Garden Party

After Shae had her tea party with Tinkerbell, she kicked around my mother-in-law's garden for a while, trying to see what kind of trouble she could stir up.


More than you might think, actually.


I am pretty sure that she found this impatien on the ground, and didn't pull it off a plant, but I can never be 100% sure with this one. She's kind of a ninja.


She also spent about 15 minutes tormenting a huge fat squirrel -- and while, in theory, I whole-heartedly approve of squirrel harassment (squirrels in my neck of the woods have far too much power), it's still not setting a good precedent to allow her to torture the neighbors by screaming like a tree-rat, so we had a brief time-out.


How she manages to turn even time-out into an opportunity to give "good face," the world may never know. I know I sure as hell don't.


The red mandevilla is probably my favorite plant in my mother-in-law's garden. I'm more of a "medicinal wildflower" kind of gal (my own garden has a lot of bee balm, purple coneflowers, and mountain bluets, plus the butterfly bush that ate Cleveland), and generally speaking I prefer roses and native perennials to tropical transplants (primarily because they're a hell of a lot easier to maintain), but I can appreciate a good showy vine once in a while. And the red of that particular mandevilla is quite otherworldly and divine.


Tea Party in Pixie Hollow

Over the least year or so, my mother-in-law has been redoing her backyard, and now there is this little space kind of made of dappled light hidden behind a young tree that she calls "No Man's Land," but Shae took one look at the area and declared it to be "Pixie Hollow." And, by gum, she was going to have herself a tea party with her pixie friends.


Okay, maybe it was more like an iced-tea party, because it was so hot, and maybe it was technically more of an iced-tea snooze at certain points, but whatever.


And also, I don't know if it's technically a "tea" at all if there are no little-bitty sandwiches with the crusts cut off and scones and clotted cream and stuff, but what do you expect? She's FOUR, and I suspect she was a little bored.


She totally believes she saw Tinkerbell, though, hanging out near the bird feeder with the little sparrows, heckling the squirrels and chipmunks who were trying to figure out how to get their grubby mitts on the deluxe seed mix, which included whole nuts and dried berries. The songbirds eat VERY WELL at my mother-in-law's.


We're still working on sticking out our pinkies when we sip, but we're making great progress. By this time next year I fully expect her to bring a small emergency backup tiara with her everywhere she goes, just in case. You never know when you'll be called up to exercise your responsibilities as Her Grand Highnessty the Princess of Everything.


Guess What? Chicken Butt!

I will give you one million free Internet points* if you can guess what we did this weekend.


If you guessed "Went swimming!" or "Looked like a drowned rat!" or "Got chewed up by insects carrying God only knows what diseases!" then you can collect your points.


Oh and also! We had a Lazy Sunday yesterday, were we sat around and watched movies and vegged out and I ACTUALLY FINISHED A BOOK, OH MY LANDS, but I didn't take pictures of any of that because it's boring. But trust me.

* Points are free** but tax, shipping, fees, and penalties are additional. "One million" refers to total value of points if collected as a 26-year annuity; collecting your points in one lump sum will reduce the total value. Void where prohibited. Offer not valid in Vermont, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, Detroit, Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, small little countries in the EU with "X"es or "Z"s in their names, on Mars, any of the moons of Jupiter, or outside our immediate Solar System.

** Points are not good for anything. They are just free.


It's Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

I have pictures similar to these of Shae and Joey when he was around the same age that Makayla is now.


Joey was a little older -- almost 9 months old, where Makayla is only almost 7 months old. But still: just a little bit of history repeating.


Shae loves her cousins, and Shae loves babies, so Makayla + baby + cousin = Shae's personal brand of catnip.


Coat Makayla in a fine layer of Dorito dust and Shae would never leave her alone. Not that she does anyway.


Okay, every once in a while -- but never for long.


And only for Very Important Projects, like taking late afternoon naps with Pop-pop in the dappled shade of the redbud tree in the side yard. And even then -- never for long.


Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows

Some more pictures from the weekend. (With a lot of parentheses, just because.)


Ring pops: the great social equalizer. (Also, apparently, a paparazzi potential repellant.)


Passing the cake-eating torch. (Donuts totally count as cake, right? This one is frosted AND it has sprinkles. I think that's close enough for government work.)


How YOU doin', Smiley? May I eat your face? Please? (If you squint really hard, you can see two teefers in there.)


Clearly Makayla had something VERY IMPORTANT to say, which is why Shae and Joey are thinking about it really hard. (My guess? She said "Pop-pop." He's Kind Of A Big Deal in these parts.)


Nobody is looking at the camera except the baby, but at least everyone is smiling at (more or less) the same time.


It took four additional adults -- my sisters, one brother-in-law, and one cousin (and a partridge in a pear tree) -- to get everybody to look at the camera at the same time. And believe it or not, my parents were the hardest subjects to wrangle. EVERYBODY wants to eat the baby all the time.