Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On-A-Manna Who?

We just watched the movie Short Circuit, one my husband and son have wanted to see. My daughter, at fourteen, is at an age where a campy 80’s robot movie is the perfect target for snarky comments. With every wisecrack we had to warn her not to spoil it for everyone else. But she did make one comment that struck me.

There’s a scene where the robot Number 5 is parachuting from a bridge and he yells, “Wheeeeee!”

Then right away my daughter snapped, “Robots do not use onomatopoeia.”

Something about that comment surprised me. Never mind the fact that even though the robot was using facial expression and following butterflies, the thing that bugged her the most was that he said wheeeee. What really impressed me was how effortlessly she recalled the word onomatopoeia.

I can appreciate reading and using examples of some cool literary devices, but the names don’t exactly roll off my tongue. I can’t remember them without first saying something like, “You know, whaddya call it…whaddya call it…that thing where the word sounds like the sound?”

Then of course I got distracted wondering whether the expression wheeeeee actually is an example of onomatopoeia. Is it meant to indicate the sound of wind rushing past our ears when we’re enjoying something like swinging, or parachuting off a bridge…wheeeeeeeee! (Of course, if we weren’t enjoying it we’d probably yell something more like aaaaaaaaaagghhh!) Or is it just an expression of emotion that only counts as onomatopoeia once we try to spell out the sound in writing?

So you can see the kind of thing that occupies my brain. At least I don’t spend time thinking up cute alliterative animal names like Wilhelmina Wombat or Sammy Slug. Oops, I just did.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dependable, Needs Some Work

My son has a best buddy who is a complete car fanatic. We had him over for supper one night and at some point in the conversation he started rattling off the different car models of he’d collected on some video game. The list went on for so long my son started humming. It sounded just like an acceptance speech at the Oscars that had to be cut short by the orchestra.

Then the conversation turned to what type of car each of us would be if we were a car. We decided my daughter would be a Jaguar. We weren't sure whether my son would be a Porsche or a Mini Cooper. The young friend had no complaints about being dubbed a Rolls Royce.

Then the friend looked over at me, his face scrunched in thought. I was afraid of what was coming. I gave him my most threatening friend’s mom face and told him under no circumstances should he tell me I’m a minivan.

“Hmm,” he said, and thought about it some more. “Could you live with being an SUV or a crossover?”

I laughed. Can’t say it’d be my first choice, but I thought I could live with it. Or at least I thought I should stop him before it got worse.

So, what about it? What kind of car would you be? Or, how would you describe yourself as a car? Sporty, maybe? Sensible? Frame slightly bent?

Just don't ask an eleven year old.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saying Thanks

When I was growing up my family said grace before dinner. But it was always the same grace. Just the one. Every time. I have to admit as a kid it was just rote mumbling that had little meaning to me. Except that it was the only thing standing between me and my mashed potatoes and pork chops.

It wasn’t a practice I kept up as an adult. Then a few years ago while visiting Lake Arrowhead I found this book in a gift shop. Saying Grace, Blessings for the Family Table edited by Sarah McElwain is a collection of blessings and sayings from around the world and throughout the ages. Covering a range of cultures and traditions, it has pretty much everything from ancient prayers to rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub.

We started an instant tradition of taking turns reading from it each night. We flip randomly through the book and read whatever page we land on. Since it’s a surprise each night, the words are more likely to be heard. I like having a simple way to incorporate a thank you into our daily lives.

And on the subject of gratitude, recently I was tagged by Kim and Bish and Anne for the Lemonade Stand Award, which is given for showing great attitude and gratitude. And what did I do to show my great attitude and gratitude? I let it slide.

Oops. I don’t always get right on top of passing these things on. They make the rounds so quickly I feel like I’d just keep tagging the same people over and over. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them. Heck, I’m still amazed anyone takes time to read my blog or comment. Visiting my creative and funny and inspiring blog friends really is a bright spot in my day. Bright and refreshing. Like…well, lemonade. So thanks!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Now I Could Use a Stuffed Puppy to Hug

My son is away at sixth grade camp. It’s a shock after having the kids at home for two weeks – now my littlest chick isn’t here.

When we were getting his things ready he informed me the boys get a reward if one of them brings a pink stuffed animal with him.

“Do you want to do that?” I asked him.

“No way.” He held his hands up, palms out, to emphasize the point.

“But what if it’s something cool, like a dinosaur or something?”

“Yeah, Mom, like Barney. That’d be really cool.”

“Not like Barney,” I argued. “Not even as a joke…?”

His eyes registered danger on the dorky mom meter. I decided not to press the issue.

I remember the days when he thought pink was just fine, and couldn’t go anywhere without his stuffed puppy. He’d had it since he was two months old. He was so attached to it I tried to find a duplicate. I’d probably have been willing to pay a lot for it. I was afraid he’d lose it; then we’d all be paying dearly for it.

But the toy was discontinued. I sewed a decoy, copying it as best I could. I didn’t notice 'til I snapped a picture of them side by side that Puppy Two looked like the original puppy on steroids. When one puppy got filthy, I brought out the double and the other went into the wash.

At first sight the freshly laundered puppy passed with flying colors, but as soon as my son got hold of it he’d howl in protest. His objection – the ears (his favorite part to chew) weren’t stiff enough with drool. He wasted no time fixing the problem.

It’s been years since any stuffed animals have come out to play, although we do have a tradition of sneaking stowaways into suitcases of traveling family members. In this case, I’d been warned - it had better not be stuffed. And under no circumstances would it be pink.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It Was Unintentional. Really.

We went out to dinner, something we don’t get to do often as a family. We were all a bit edgy because there hadn’t really been a consensus on where to go, and not everyone was convinced. As we sipped drinks and a couple of us pushed romaine around on our plates, I glanced at the empty bread plate next to me.

“Who ate my garlic bread?” I demanded.

There was mumbling about some confusion, and then despite my objection, my husband called the waitress over.

“Could we get another piece of garlic bread?” he asked.

“Would you like a large order for the whole table?” she asked.

“No. Just another piece. I accidentally ate hers.”

As the waitress walked off looking thoroughly confused, I just had to ask. “Um, how do you accidentally eat something?”

I realized he meant he didn’t know the bread was mine and he helped himself, but I got really amused at the idea of eating something by accident.

Maybe by some quirk of fate you accidentally fell on a piece of bread with your mouth open. Or someone took you by surprise and stuffed a piece of bread into your mouth. But how would you explain chewing and swallowing repeatedly? It’s like saying I accidentally spent that $100 that was in your wallet, sandwiched between the ten dollar bill and the Costco receipt. Or I accidentally backed over the neighbor’s ugly plastic lawn ornament nineteen times.

Anyway, I’m still curious. I might accidentally eat whatever’s left in the kids’ Easter baskets, and I’m going to need a good explanation.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Venturing Out

On a whim we made an overnight trip to Palm Springs. We’d never been, and we wanted to explore someplace new.

Discovery number one was that we’d been cyber-duped. Our hotel was the homely cousin of its online description. First item of business was to negotiate a room with something more appealing than a panoramic view of parked cars. Outside the lobby we met a woman with two boys who was facing the same problem. “This isn’t at all what we were expecting,” the woman lamented. Unfortunately for them, we snagged the last room overlooking the pool.

As we settled into our new room, the kids amused themselves by making sarcastic remarks:

“Is there such a thing as a six star hotel? Because if there is, this would be one of them!”

“Hey, Mom, this town looks just like home. You could’ve driven one hour up and one hour back and just told us we were in Palm Springs.”

My husband said, “Relax, guys. We’ll start having fun in a minute.” That made us all laugh, because he’s usually the first one trying to convince us we are having fun, even if we’re not.

Picking a restaurant for dinner in unfamiliar territory is also tricky. We wanted affordable, but decent. We spotted a crowded parking lot - possibly a good sign. Fingers crossed, we hoped for something trendy. Instead we found artificial flowers and early bird specials. This eatery was as far away from trendy as a mushroom is to the moon.

Still, it was affordable. The food was decent. Two out of three isn’t bad. We got our fill of trendy by strolling downtown and browsing in upscale shops.

The highlight of the trip was hiking in the Indian Canyons. As you can see from the pictures, the scenery is awe-inspiring. But the most exciting part was when a wasp flew into the car window and disappeared somewhere inside the roof of the car. We plugged up all the obvious entryways and hoped it would be dead by the time we returned from our hike.

As we drove back to the main road, I heard shrieks from the back seat followed by a *thwack!* against the window. Upon the wasp’s reappearance, my daughter had instinctively hurled a backpack in its direction. The car screeched to a halt; four people plus one wasp made an emergency exit. The people in the oncoming car (which fortunately stopped) look puzzled by our synchronized leaping and hopping.

Despite the shortcomings, or maybe because of them, we had a blast. Before we checked out of the hotel, I noticed a family arriving. A pouty teen-aged girl led the group, arms crossed. “But this place isn’t anything like it looked online.”

And the dad behind her pleading, “Well, the pool looks all right. C’mon, it’ll be fun.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Break

The kids are home from school for the next two weeks. Yay! The arrival of spring tempted me to work on my little flower people painting. It's one of the illustrations inspired from some pictures I took in the back yard. The first sketches I made from those photos are here.

And speaking of sketches, my blogging will probably be a little sketchy for the next couple of weeks. We have no big plans for spring break, but we're looking forward to a change in the same ol' routine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hope Sizzles Eternal

Can I have some?


I thought not.

Can I have some now?

How 'bout now?


Can I have some now?

Can I now?

I'll watch this for you.


Now? Now?

Now now now now now?

I think I heard a noise upstairs. Maybe you should check.

Go ahead. I got these. Really.

Can I have some now?

Ooh. Do I smell fish? And, um, can I have some?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Guess It Really Does Happen to Everyone

After I posted some of my more ridiculous moments last Friday, my husband reminded me of the following story. And what better day than April Fool’s Day to celebrate tales of foolishness:

A scientist attended a banquet in his honor. He became distracted during the dinner and started figuring equations in a notebook. He was lost in thought when the crowd stood and began applauding. His personal secretary caught his attention and motioned for him to stand.

Noticing the standing ovation, he quickly stood and enthusiastically joined in. His secretary then had to come and inform him that the applause was in fact for him. The daydreaming scientist was Albert Einstein.

That anecdote is mentioned in his biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Another story describes how Einstein enjoyed taking long rambling walks. On one such occasion he phoned his institute and asked for Dr. Einstein’s address. When the person on the phone informed him that information was private, he lowered his voice and admitted that it was Dr. Einstein on the phone, and that he couldn’t remember where he lived.

At least I feel better now.