Monday, February 23, 2009

Do I hear Shakespeare?

[This entry is about 3 weeks late due to many extenuating circumstances. Getting laid off, contracting a computer virus I still haven't gotten rid of and some laziness. So, the following events are no longer real time.]

This entry will start out in the present because I just went in to Abby's room to get her up from her nap and...was promptly kicked out. The bouncer wasn't very nice either. I can't believe it, Abbers would rather stay in her bed than get up and hang out with me. So, I guess I'll journal about it...yeah, no I'm still straight. I will simply take it as a compliment and that she adores her new room. More about that in a bit.

So what does she do in there when she's not sleeping? For as long as she's been able to make sounds Abby has talked in her crib/bed. Before she goes to sleep at night, after she wakes up from naps, and sometimes even in the morning...she talks. Not only does she talk, but she sings, makes noises, does monologues, anything she can do for entertainment. We've always had the monitor on and can hear the sounds emanating from her room and I've always wondered what's going on in there? I sometimes imagine her like Peyton Manning standing at the line of scrimmage (her crib rail) pointing (at her stuffed animals) and yelling out an audible. Puppy you go out and up; Baby Jaguar-sideline route; Mickey, you're the hot diggity dog route...Dora butterfly, Blue forty-two, Swiper eleventeen set hut! Sometimes I think she's putting on a Shakespeare play in there. Other times I picture Abby standing in her crib conducting a symphony of color, sound and light. It's like Woodstock or Lollapalooza, that is until Mommy or Daddy opens the door. I'll literally open it up really quickly to try and catch any piece of the concert. Perhaps the biggest reason I think she's producing some type of performance is because anytime I've popped my head in there she looks at me with a mischevious stare as if I've interrupted something. All the stuffed animals hold up their bic lighters and aim 'n flames behind my back just waiting for me to leave so they can witness the encore. And sure enough, as soon as the door latches behind me it's off again to never never land for our Abber Dabbers. I truly hope I am not alone in my imagination of what goes on behind closed toddler doors, but it wouldn't be the the first time I've been on a solitary island with my crazy thoughts...

All of that brings me to the moment I just experienced. I walked in to Abby's room to get her up from her nap and was greeted with the aforementioned blank stare. I had missed another show. For all I know it was her year two of life opus. I'll never know. But I do know that this was the first time she actually snubbed me. In fact, her little "I'd rather stay napping than get up" bit almost got me in the dog house. Anna woke up from her nap and while I was typing away here she went in to get Abby. When she noticed I was home and was, of course, goofing around on the computer instead of attending to our daughter, she gave me "the look." Anyone familiar with Garage Logic will know what "the look" is. In fact, any guy who's married or who has been in a relationship for 72 hours will know as well. Anyway, I quickly talked my way out of that one by informing my wife that I had been brutally rebuffed by our 2 1/2 year old.

So about that new room of Abby's. Well, things have been hectic in this Brett household as we are preparing for the July arrival of the 4th member of our family. We moved rooms, Abby moved rooms, our office moved levels and Abby's old room is now vacant. We acquired some old furniture from Grandma Barb and I picked up another painting and finishing two dressers, a night stand and a bookcase for Abby's new room. Where do I find the time? Well some time has certainly been stolen from this blog, oh well. But really, time is something I've had a lot of lately. I've been working for myself going on three weeks now. I've decided to go out on my own doing anything and everything home related. So, for whoever may be reading this, here is my shameless plug: spread the word to anyone and everyone who may need a new deck, a finished basement, painting, bathrooms, tile work, windows, doors, you name it. Ok, I feel cheapened, but what the hell, it's my blog, like six people read it, and I'm related to all of them one way or another...ha.

Anyway, we finished with all the room switching and Abby is officially in her big girl room and in her big girl bed. Wow, how did she get to be so old? She now says her favorite store is Target, well she says "Tahget" and since she has her mom's taste in stores and says the name like a mobster, I'm hoping she'll have my taste in movies and she and I will be watching The Godfather sooner rather than later. She also loves to come with me to Menards and Home Depot. Everytime we go by the paint department she makes me stop so she can get a color sample to bring home to Mommy.

During one of our most recent trips, with Mommy, Abbers and I went down the tile section and she spotted some yellow sponges. I didn't notice that she noticed them, but when we came back down that aisle a few minutes later we stopped paying real close attention to her. We were looking at tile and this and that and before we knew it we looked up and saw what, to us, was both hilarious and amazing. Well, Home Depot has these black bumper type poles in strategic areas so their displays aren't dented or run over by runaway carts or fork lifts. One would never really notice them or pay them any attention. That is, unless you're 2 1/2 and they're just about as tall as you are. We looked up and saw that Abbers had stealthily crept around to at least seven or eight of these black bumper poles and adorned each of them with a nice fluffy yellow hat. Anna and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. Abby was happy to see we didn't care about her little sponge distribution project and let her continue spreading golden pourous rectangle cheer. Maybe the cutest part of the whole thing was that she went about her business as happy as a little beaver sucking on a dum dum the nice lady who worked in the floring department gave to her. The only side effect is that now everytime we're in Home Depot she asks where the suckers are...

I think my entrys have been pretty rant free, but that's about to end. Anna and I have been looking at various tile for a backsplash we've been meaning to do for awhile now. We recently ramped up our search and have been buying samples to bring home and test out. Well, I have ordered samples of hardwood floor online before and things went great. I suspected that would hold true for tile as well. At least I was hoping as much since I had found a great looking copper colored pillow tile online which I wanted to see in person. The tiles are 4x4 inches and one square foot costs about $11. So the company said I could get a sample for $8.98 and they would ship for free. Great deal I thought. So my package finally came and I open it up to discover one, count it one 4x4 tile which is chipped, scratched and generally beat up. Nevermind the fact that if I decided to actually order this tile to put up in my kitchen I couldn't use the one tile they sent me because it's crap. I do have a problem with that. But I paid $8.98 for a sample of tile. A sample of tile that costs about $11 per square foot...and do they send me about 4/5 or 9/10 of a foot? NO, they send me exactly 1/9 of a square foot. What is that? I'll have to write another entry dedicated to concept of "getting it" and when I do will certainly be on the list of people and/or companies who do not "get it"!

This weekend we went to the Minnesota Zoo with Johnny, Missy, Ella, Jen and Brian. It was pretty darn cold outside so we decided to stick with the inside exhibits. Probably a wise decision since Ella was just getting started with her pink eye medication and Abby stumbled upon some sort of illness sometime that morning. Overall the zoo trip was uneventful. It should be noted that I think Abby's favorite part was the "money game". Yeah, the one where you slide coins down the slide and travel around and around the giant funnel before plopping down into the donation bucket locked below. At least fountains and wells implore the kids to make a wish before throwing all that change our new president sees so fit to lead us towards, into the water. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I have the right definition of "change". But I digress, aside from the "money game", the bird show we saw was likely the highlight. The dolphin show was the main attraction for our group, but that promiscuous sea mammal got knocked up and is out for the rest of the regular season. We'll have to hit up Como Zoo this Spring to compare...

I'll end with another good Abby quote,

"Daddy these pieces of licorice are little like me."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Anna and Rocky LaPorte

My wife has been wondering when she will get her pub on this oh so popular of venues to view the written word (can you hear the sarcasm). Well, she need not wait any longer. This story must not be suppressed.

So, one night a couple weeks back Anna tells me she received a DVD in the mail. She had taken a call from a market research company asking for her opinion on a new sitcom. She was supposed to watch it on a certain night because she was going to be called the next day to answer questions about it. I figured Focus Market Research is letting people get paid to do research in their homes now? And, all you have to do is watch some tube? Not bad. The timing worked out so I was able to have a front row seat for the DVD viewing. Anna was told she would be watching a new sitcom that may or may not be picked up by one of the networks. We pop in the DVD and the curtain draws on Rocky LaPorte. I liken the ensuing half hour to watching The Hills. Meaning, I don't really want to watch it, but some sort of unseen tractor beam makes me sit and follow along. Rocky LaPorte is the name of the guy in the show, a la Seinfeld and the Drew Carey Show. Well, Rocky doesn't so much look like LC from The Hills and his show is a lot like According to Jim but without Courtney Thorne-Smith and the gal who's married to Brad Paisley. It does, however, have the guy who Drew Barrymore's character is supposed to marry in The Wedding Singer (you know, Mr. Gulia). So, I don't know who's counting but that has gotta be enough strikes against this show for one or two K's already.

Now I did, indeed, say 30 minutes. Oh yeah, the first commercial break comes and, by God, there are actual commercials we have to watch. "They" have removed the fast forward option so it becomes pretty clear that the purpose is to pay attention and potentially evaluate the commercials as well. It is at this point in the evening when I learn this little experiment is being done pro bono. That's my wife, she's a giver. I am not "them" forward to the next night: The phone's a ringin' exactly when they said it would. We ignore it the first three times it rings not remembering Anna's phone appointment. It's clear Rocky LaPorte left a lasting impression eh? Anna finally does answer and finds herself waist deep in the most snarly of thickets. Answering question after question about what?...yep, the commercials. Bless her heart, Anna thought she would be giving her opinions on what might be the next Friends or Seinfeld. Instead she spent an hour plus on the phone critiquing 30 and 60 second TV spots. Perhaps the best moment in the entire saga came the following week when, after taking a few jabs from me, she attempted to explain the scenario to her sister Steph. In her best "whiny-victim" voice Anna groans her way through the lead in to the story, sending every impression that she was bamboozled in to this. If I hadn't been there to call BS Steph would still believe her sister to be the victim of what could have been known as the "Rocky LaPorte Ploy". Funnily enough, one of Steph's friends got the same call Anna did and immediately saw right through it. This news was met with the sourest of looks from my bride. It's one of the things I love most about my wife, her trusting and innocent spirit. You could do business with her simply via a smile and a handshake...something I think we all miss about the world we live in today.

One of the themes of 2009 thus far has been our Abber Dabbers blazing a path towards becoming a "big girl". She's completely done with diapers, she plays games on the computer, she has her own camera and "iPod" and even more impressive, she's now clogged a toilet. I'm sure she'll be thrilled at the mentioning of this feat when she's older, but please, I can't think of many better ways to show you've arrived at "big girl" status than to have to call in Mr. Plunger to take care of some things. She got done, lit a match and said, "That was a doosy of a twosie."

Swimming class is in full swing again and Abby loves it. She and Anna go every Wednesday with Missy and Ella. The reports are always good. All four gals like the water because they keep it at about 89 degrees. I went last year once and, it was awfully nice. The schedule is setup so the geriatric group has their pool time just before the munchkins' turn. I suppose they may have the water heated up for those two groups so the kids actually swim and so the elderly women don't...well..."freeze" and shatter something. I remember hopping in the pool the one time I went last year and it seemed so fresh and fragrant. I didn't realize until now that it was likely a combination of Aspercreme, Ben-Gay and Chanel No 5. That potent combo of ointment and eau de toilette was like having built in floaties...absolutely magical. It truly is funny to see the elderly women exit the pool with the kiddies waiting in the wings. Watching the expressions on their mugs as they walk by the little ones really tells a story. At least it does to me, but I suppose I may have a more active imagination than some. Some women look excited, some look annoyed, others have the look of actual anger, and then at least one flashes a look of bewilderment. My mind runs on and on...

Time will tell if Abby's going to become a swimmer. As far as Olympic sports go it's pretty good. It sure beats gymnastics or figure skating since once you hit 20 years old in those sports you're already washed up. I can hear Anna's voice in my head right now tell me that our little girl just started sleeping in a big girl bed, so we don't need to think about the 2024 Summer Games or 2026 Winter Games anytime soon. Not a bad point...

Well, we just got back from Ella's birthday party. Anna, Abby and I were the last to leave, and out of the Konrad and Brett families, I can pretty much guarantee that I'm the only one who's not currently napping. Abby had been waiting for this party for a very long time (in her world anyway) and it finally came. It was clear she was physically able and mentally prepared to shine. In fact, as the party wore on it became quite clear that Abby was determined to steal Ella's thunder, and probably her lightning too.

Ella was, of course, the first contestant to attempt to pin (stick) the tail on the donkey. She strapped on the red paper mask (which I am not ashamed to say I stole to use as the foundation of my 2009-2011 Halloween costume. That's right, this one is gonna be so good it will be worthy of a 3-peat...more details to come). Anyway, Ella's tail hit the eye/ear region of the two dimensional paper donkey, a pretty solid benchmark. When all was said and done it was obvious the other kids understood the concept of point shaving or "throwing" the game. Ella's cousin Serene is almost three years Ella's senior and could have easily snubbed the birthday girl by placing her tail inside Ella's. Serene, in the true spirit of family, placed her tail by the hoof keeping Ella in first place. There were many other would-be challengers, Cole (4) fired wide left with his tail as it landed closer to the bathroom than to the Ass's ass. Carli (1), Allie (almost 2) and Leyna (5 mos) bowed to the birthday girl as all three DQ'd, either because they declined to participate in honor of Ella, didn't want to wear the mask, or, in one case, simply was too young to even really hold up her head. Finally, Riley's attempt was clearly an intentional botch job as the tail sticker, which was stuck to his hand, could have just as easily been a piece of poo the way he was flinging his hand up and down. Props to all the kids...well, all except our Abbers. Not only did Abby not purposely miss on her attempt, she cheated...and won. Yep, she creeped towards that wall where the donkey was perched, leaned in to stick her tail to the board, ever so slyly pulled the mask down, and slammed her tail sticker right on the donkey's butt. It was as if she had been planning and practicing it for three months. I was equal parts ashamed and proud...sorry I can't lie...I was all parts proud.

The next incident wasn't quite as brash, but that's not why I wasn't proud. Her next offense was not something she would have learned from me, but rather Ella's daddy. It was a little more than half way through gift opening and many people had already left to get home for nap time. Ella had just finished unwrapping her gifts from Abby when Missy prompted her to give Abby a hug and/or kiss to say thank you. In my daughter's defense, Ella had already hugged and kissed each of her departing guests (she's a very friendly girl), and now was jonesing for some more action from Abby. Well, Abby gave a couple subtle clues that she wasn't having it, then followed those up with a not so subtle hint...she sneezed in Ella's face. Ella was humiliated...err wait no...a cake/snot/saliva filled sneeze couldn't stop her. She kept on a comin'...what a dandy that Ella is.

As if Abby hadn't stripped the spotlight from Ella, as it was time to leave Abby asked if she could have a balloon to take home. "Absolutely," said Johnny, "What color do you want?" "Dora" she said. Out of the entire arrangement of about eight balloons, Abby wanted the unique one at the top which was clearly meant for the birthday girl. She settled for lime green. Was it because she finally understood it was Ella's day? Maybe. Or maybe she really wanted all of the lime light for herself? Either way, if the below picture is any indication, Ella didn't care one bit...

Big Finish: recent Abby quotes

We were driving in the car when a tow truck pulling a car drove by and Abby said laughing, "Look Daddy, those two cars are stuck together."

After I asked her if she could please pickup a couple of her toys she said, "After I'm done listening to this song I can."

I was putting her to bed for the first time in her big girl bed and we were discussing how we said she doesn't need binkies in her big girl bed. She had already told us 25 times that she wanted to sleep in her big girl bed and was adamant about it...

Abby: "I want binky."
Me: "Remember? We said no more binkies in your big girl bed?"
Abby: "I want my binky."
Me: "C'mon sweetie you're a big girl, you don't need a binky in your big girl bed."
Abby (getting sad): "Binky"
Me: "Abbers I know you can sleep without it."
Abby: "I wanna sleep in my crib"
I caved and she got her binky...