Monday, December 29, 2008

No Man's Week

Folks are penning lovely, reflective posts about the-year-that-was, but I'm among the legions of parents who won't feel like it's 2009 until school is back in session on January 5th. This week, then, I'm suspended happily in a no man's land of peaceful putzing around with my little family. Today was Ri and Vi's 9th birthday, and we took them to the new California Academy of Sciences, where they discreetly shrieked their way through the rainforest (green anaconda! piranhas! freakiest frogs EVER), worked their way around the aquarium with their jaws dropped (I could have sat in front of the Philippine coral reef for an hour), and became giddy with slight motion sickness in the planetarium (Vida raised her hand in front of the whole auditorium and correctly answered a question posed by the planetarium lady; I think this portends a future appearance on Jeopardy). If you have zero aversion to crowds, I recommend a thorough exploration. Other random facts about our visit:

1. Risa has a pathological fear of butterflies. The air was thick with them when we reached the rainforest canopy, and my poor little 9-year-old started to shake. After a few minutes, one of the butterflies—royal blue and big as a bird—landed on my arm (you realize what this means, do you not? It means that I am a PRINCESS), and a small crowd gathered around. Risa was right beside me, breathing normally, so I thought she'd conquered her discomfort. But then the butterfly flitted away, and she was back to cowering. At one point, she became so agitated that she SWATTED at a butterfly, so I had no choice but to rush her back down to to the rainforest floor. Weirdo.

2. I like penguins.

3. They served pretty good pho in the cafe. *scratches head in confusion* They are so green and healthy in there, though, that they only offered natural sodas and water (pfffft), which means that I was deprived of the lunchtime Diet Coke that basically ensures my daily survival.

4. I also like moon jellies.

5. Lea wanted to touch a starfish in the tidepool area, but kept saying the water was "too deep." We finally gave up on her and started to move on to the next thing. She then realized that she REALLY, REALLY wanted to touch a starfish. I led her to the other side of the tidepool (since we were, by this time, closer to that end) but she didn't want to touch any of THOSE starfish, she wanted to touch the starfish that we had all touched, which meant working our way back against the tide (get it? get it?!!). Normally I would have done my oh-no-you-don't-young-lady-the-whole-world-does-not-revolve-around-your-whims-and-wishes thing, but there was something about the situation that made me give in. I brought her back, held her hand, put it in the water with mine, and together we touched the starfish. I said, "Okay?" and then she just leaned against me and a single, heartbreaking tear slid down her cheek. Weirdo.

6. And also electric eels.

7. There are many times when the spousal unit's significant height comes in handy, but never more so than in extreme crowd conditions. Others may be swiveling their heads around or standing on their tip-toes to locate their partners, but I never have a problem finding home.

8. But not so much the albino alligator.

I have no decent pictures from today's activities, so I will post two from yesterday's when Risa and Vida spent three hours playing tetherball, a sport (is it a sport?) for which their passion knows no bounds. Here they are engaging in one of their cutthroat matches:

Lea has no interest in tetherball. Instead, she spent her time perfecting ever more dangerous tricks on her scooter. Behold her death-defying deep squat maneuver:

Don't try this at home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eat, Drink, Merry

I am sitting here in my trainwreck of a kitchen, simultaneously cleaning up from last night's festivities and making a shopping list for the next two days. Yesterday was all about crab. My dad schooled the girls on crab anatomy:

And then, much to the delight of everyone under the age of 9, he insisted that two of the crabs participate in a foot race prior to their demise:

Let's hope he has no such plans for tomorrow's prime rib roast. Speaking of which, I am off to Pape Meat Co. to pick it up! I have mentally prepared myself for being jostled around by people who, for reasons unknown, strongly believe that they should be served first. But never mind them! They are but specks in my sea of happiness!

I'll meet you back here after all the merrymaking! And here are a few more exclamation marks: !!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

17 Random Things About Me

Marianne tagged me, so here I sit. I confess it's challenging to come up with seventeen random things about your Nesting Ground Mistress, especially because this entire blog is made up of random things about me. But here goes:

1. As a child, I insisted on having my fast-food hamburgers "plain," which inevitably caused my entire family's order to take an unholy fifteen minutes to fulfill. But did they stop me? No! They never stopped me! In this sense, I think you will agree, they enabled—nay, encouraged—my selfishness. Were one of my children to cause such a disturbance, I would say, "You cannot be serious right now," and ignore them. How I became so mean, I will never know.

2. Two days ago, I watched rapt as Arnel Pineda played "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Afterwards, in a WTH moment, I wondered why host Kris Aquino chose to wear a voluminous black ball gown for the occasion. I also noted that Arnel has not been using a flat iron on his hair while at home in the Philippines.

3. This morning at the post office, when presented with my choice of either a) nutcracker stamps or b) Madonna and child stamps, I said, "Well, I'm gonna have to go with the...nutcrrrrrrrackers!" The postal worker found me neither funny nor charming. I hope she will rethink this as her day goes on.

4. I would rather stay up until 2 am than wake up before 7 am.

5. While I was in Reno, Nevada, canvassing for Obama, a man opened his door and a black pitbull (whose rhinestoned collar announced she was a "DIVA") took a flying leap at your terrified Nesting Ground Mistress. I instinctively turned my back and felt her nails dig in just below my bra strap. The man then grabbed DIVA by the aforementioned collar and threw her back into the apartment. "Sorry about that!" he said. My cousin Lui (she of the gifted tweets) will attest to this...this...this assault on my physical and psychological safety.

6. I do not like crispy cookies. I like chewy cookies.

7. Even though it takes "10" as its basic unit, I don't understand the metric system.

8. I don't think I'm doing this correctly.

9. I once successfully faked my way through fifteen minutes of being spoken to in Pilipino.

10. I can easily identify people by the back of their heads. I can do this if I've known you twenty years, five minutes, and/or if I have only seen you on television or the movie screen.

11. I've never had a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or bottle of beer because I do not like the way these things taste.

12. I have had the same pair of contact lenses for about twelve years. I was fitted with new ones a few years ago, but they were so uncomfortable, I turned back to these.

13. I sometimes talk to my inbox (it doesn't reply).

14. I am currently reading, among other gleanings, Bolaño's The Savage Detectives, Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (to Lea), The Tale of Desperaux (to Risa, Vida, and Lea), this week's issue of The Nation, the December issue of The Atlantic, and the Fall issue of All-Story.

15. These are my rain boots. I'll be wearing them all day, even if it stops raining. I'm lazy like that.

16. I wear three rings.

17. Last night, while putting Lea to sleep, I sang a Carpenter's song.

I'm tagging any 17 people who read this (yes, that means you).

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Post In Which I Use the Word "Kulangot"

I've been reflecting on the way that social networking has changed my relationship to blogging (and now I'm reflecting on how ridiculous that sounds). I started tweeting because tweeting is...silly. You have 140 characters to make your statement, plead your case, or just tell the world that you're headed to the gym. It's quick and often hilarious, as when Weez demanded that her Twitter crew must tweet in haiku, and they did it. Such is the power of tweets and/or such is the power of the lovely Weez.

Facebook is another animal altogether. You can throw down larger chunks of text, plus it's easy to link, share what you're reading, etc., so that in many circumstances it has taken the place of (my) blogging. These days, blogs feel a little bit like an Auntie, while Facebook and Twitter are like hyperactive cousins. It's fun to hang out with hyperactive cousins, of course, but there are times when the less frantic, more fully realized existence of Auntie is the only way to go.

In this post, though, all worlds converge as I reveal my favorite blog post, favorite tweet, and favorite Facebook status updates of the week:

My favorite blog post was A.D.'s because 1) I thought he fell off the face of the earth, and I am relieved to know that he did not and 2) he cites Bolano's The Savage Detectives, which I am also reading. In the early pages we witness a poetry throwdown in a classroom at a Mexican university. "There's a time for reciting poems and a time for fists," says the narrator.

My favorite tweet came from my little cousin Lui, who posited a simple question: "There's a New Yorker in the trash can at this BART station. Dare I?" There was no follow-up, but I bet the fear of finding pages 57-58 stuck together with...I don't know...some kind of monster kulangot (okay, I can't believe the Urban Dictionary has an entry for "kulangot") was enough to keep her hands in her coat pockets.

My favorite Facebook status update is a tie. First there was Rich Villar's "Rich is LMAO at Rod Blagojevich getting arrested in a blue jogging suit. OH PLEASE GOD LET THERE BE PICTURES." Basically, he just cracks me up. And then there was Patrick's "Patrick is rockin' it," with a link to this, which made the odious task of unloading the dishwasher just a little less pain-in-the-ass-y.

Thus ends my first ever post in 5 years that includes the word "kulangot." Banner day, my lovelies. Banner day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Flying Food Particles OR Kids Are Gross

Monday is my volunteer day at the girls' school. I start with Writing Workshop in Vida's classroom, move on to 3rd/4th/5th grade yard duty (where I try to even things attention-wise by over-chatting with Risa), and finally head over to Lea's classroom to help with reading groups. I find all of this enjoyable and rewarding, with the pronounced exception of the 40 minutes I spend supervising the lunch tables.

Kids are gross.

They are so, so gross.

Unleashed after more than 3 classroom hours, they are like rabid feral beasts. They have no sense of personal space, and despite the fact that there is plenty of room to keep a good ten inches between their butts, they prefer to sit on top of each other the better to push and elbow and tickle and lean. They also like to scream directly into each other's ears. Everyone touches everyone else's food, and they are laughing and guffawing in a way that encourages semi-chewed food particles to fly out of their mouths and land, let's say, behind the ear of someone else.

Last week one of the kids picked up a handful of tater tots, smooshed them on top of his hamburger, and then covered the whole thing in two packets of mustard. The worst part? HE ATE IT. Someone didn't want their carton of milk, so I walked amongst the tables asking if anyone wanted it. This set off a frenzy between two boys, and I was only able to quiet them down when I told them they'd have to Ro Sham Bo for it (Ro Sham Bo works in a variety of situations, actually, and because there is always a clear winner when using the "best of 3" option, there is never any argument afterwards). One kid asked me if he thought he needed plastic surgery. I told him I'd get back to him next week. Another scowled when I said I liked his haircut. One kid's garbage was free floating all over the place. "'Scuse me, Mister," said I. "Can you please pick up your garbage?" He then rolled his eyes, which ignited a stare-off between us.

I won.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Appropriate as a Tweet, But...

...I'm listening to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass at the moment. In related news, I find this image uber caliente:

Am I wrong? No, I am not.