Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun for Nothing

After spending all day cooped up thanks to Tropical Storm Fay, Ray and the kids and me struck out for Monkey Park. In true southern fashion, Monkey Park is really named Municipal Park, but in the almost nine months that we've been here, I've yet to hear anyone call it by that name. And before you ask, yes, there really were monkeys there back in the '60s and '70s, but my long-time Auburn-Opelika friends say that the monkeys were removed after folks gave them inappropriate food and cigarette butts (of all things!).

The kids like Monkey Park because it has four or five different play areas. I like it because some of their equipment is vintage 1970s or earlier, so it reminds me of the park where I played with my sisters. Plus, there's a tiny stream that runs through the middle of the park. I love streams, especially little streams with rocks where the water bubbles over them. How wonderful is that?!

Before our quest for free fun had barely begun, excitement struck. Just as we were heading out from the parking lot, we heard C-RRR-AAAA-CK followed by loud crashing. Right across the street from the park, a branch fell on top of a van. Only a few minutes later, an old, ragged out Mecury Cougar came through the parking lot barely missing our van, jumped the curb, ran over a small tree, turned, jumped the curb and came to a stop. As soon as we recovered from that excitement, a stray dog arrived, and a fellow park-goer commenced to chase it with a 10-foot limb. The dog had the good sense to flee.

In between all this craziness the kids did have fun. Jack tried out and loved the toddler swings, and he and Amelia had a go at the bouncy seesaw. She had to ride this the "princess way," which to us mere peasants is side saddle.

With the return of the rain, I borrowed a craft from SouleMama's The Creative Family and got Amelia started on "sewing" around pictures we drew, cut out and hole punched. She was so proud and promptly requested more pictures and yarn.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

That Wild and Crazy Jungle Animal

There are the flesh and blood members of our family, and then there is Baby Jaguar.

Serendipity brought her into our lives. Back when Amelia was two, Baby Jaguar appeared in her day care cubbie on a daily basis. I would dutifully place the stuffed animal back on the shelf until finally her teacher told me that Baby Jaguar was Amelia's, that Amelia slept with her at every nap.

I don't know who Baby Jaguar originally belonged to, but to Amelia she's as much a family member as Jack or Ray.

Baby Jaguar is patient. She endures all sorts of costumes and indignities with patience. Her whiskers have been cut off (Baby Jaguar didn't like them according to the amateur stylist). She has been accidentally peed on and subsequently "bathed" in the washing machine. Baby Jaguar gets tucked in just like her little human mommy.

But just when I begin to forget that Baby Jaguar is just a stuffed animal, Amelia reels me in. "Mom," she'll say after I've told Baby Jaguar sweet dreams and sleep tight, "It's just pretend."

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Never Too Early to Quit

I guess Amelia really listens to me. Tonight our usual bedtime ritual was interrupted when Amelia announced, "I've gotten better about not smoking." That's pretty good since my four-year-old daughter has never smoked! She continued, "Smoking is really bad. It makes you greasy." Now that's a side effect that I wasn't aware of.

Some times I get so wrapped up in the discipline side of parenting that I forget how delightful Amelia is. How funny and original she is. I love the bright sound of her giggle. I love how she chases our chicken Rachel around the yard and scoops her up in her arms and the pride she has over Rachel's eggs. I love how she calls Jack our "buddy man." I love that she adores her daddy and that she calls "The Mythbusters" mist busters.

But most of all I love that she's gotten better about not smoking!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Hottest Fantasy

My latest fantasy may not be quite what you would expect. I drive to a nearby hotel and retrieve my room key. I place a do not disturb sign on the door, and go into the room where an enormous king sized bed awaits. I crank down the air conditioning as low as it will go. Not even bothering to undress, I crawl into the bed and fall into a deep, blissfully undisturbed sleep - alone!

Lately it seems like our house goes crazy after midnight. Ray stumbles into bed somewhere around 1 a.m. after indulging his helicopter/Vietnam obsession. Amelia makes her entrance around 2 when she wakes up from a bad dream. Then Jack begins crying around 3. I know it's all temporary--well, maybe not the helicopter obsession. And I'm sure that I will miss snuggling with Amelia and the sweet times Jack and I share while he nurses, but I'm really jonesing for some hardcore sleep. I'm not talking about a catnap. I want put-on-the-blackout-shades-sleep-till-noon sleep. I want the kind of sleep where you wake up to eat a snack and then burrow back between the covers. I definitely did not do enough of that before kids!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Been Awhile

Today is Jack's nine-month birthday, and we're coming up on our eight-month anniversary living here in Auburn. I feel like we're already so much more a part of the community than when we were in Louisiana, even though we lived there for more than 10 years. I feel more beholden to the community, a greater responsibility. Maybe having kids and knowing that they'll be growing up here makes me feel that way, or maybe it just feels good to be back home in Alabama.

The mittens for the Afghans for Afghans youth campaign are coming along in spite of my slowness working with the DPNs. I hope they're not too small, but I'm sure they will keep some little hands warm. Amelia was hoping they were for her, so that launched an overly complex discussion about where Afghanistan is and why the children there need mittens. She might not have understood everything, but at least she's getting the idea that there are children who have so little compared to the luxuries she has.

In the spirit of Meg's Fun for Nothing challenge, we made a house out of Jack's old diaper box for Baby Jaguar. It was so much fun! I promise to post pictures soon. Amelia cut out a giant heart and drew a map for the walls. The map featured North America, South America and Auburn all right next to each other. At first I was stumped when she asked me who we knew in South America. Then I remembered Diego! Yeah, he's a cartoon character, but to Amelia he's as real as the boy next door. We cut out windows, a door and made one end a garage door, which was good because Baby Jaguar is too big for the regular door. Then she salvaged the veil from her Barbie's wedding dress and made that into curtains. We had the best time, and best of all, she didn't want to watch TV!

To mark his nine-month birthday, Jack waved to his daddy this morning. It was so cute, so of course, we tried to get him to do it again and again. It's a good thing Jack doesn't know about the actors' union or he'd be drawing a paycheck for all the performing we make him do.