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Archive for June, 2008

I have this friend, let’s call him Bob, since that’s his name, who has a saying about when somebody does somethinimg_Jun_29_2008_30_45g stupid. “Does he not know the meaning of the word embarrass?” Bob will say. Almost always, the answer is an obvious “no.”
So I was thinking of Bob yesterday. Fontaine has been carrying three dolls around and saying they are her children. There are the twins, plus the baby, Sofe (Sophie, phonetically spelled).
Fontaine said yesterday was Sofe’s birthday, and all day was waiting for us to gather for the party. It finally went down around 4 p.m., right as a real guy named Tom had finished building a handrail for our new entrance. I had told Tom to come inside, I wanted to ask him about one more job. So he came in and there we were dressed for Sofe’s party. Everyone was in Royal Wear: Fontaine was the Princess Queen, Elizabeth was the Fairy Princess (purple gown, etc), the poor one-year old had been strapped into a tutu and a tiara, and my wife found a vintage gown and, by default, was declared the “Plain Princess.”
Being the only guy, I got to wear the Brave Knight costume, a fake chainmail hat and cape. I looked kind of like the guy in the picture (only better, of course, because I had Grammici shorts on).
So I was telling Tom that we needed a door mounted on a closet in my study, and I was wearing the Brave Knight outfit, and asking Tom about how to measure for the door we needed put up.
Tom was just answering my questions, rather the Brave Knight’s questions, with a dead serious look on his face. He never smiled, so I assume that meant he thought I was completely nuts. Or maybe drunk.
That’s about when I thought about my friend Bob.
I assume Bob would conclude that I have no idea the meaning of the word embarrass.
But, you know, a Brave Knight would do just about anything for his daughter. Especially if she’s a dictatorial Queen.

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OUR UPSTAIRimg_Jun_24_2008_53_20S BATHROOM — Authorities in our house are searching for a fairy princess, who seems to have disappeared without a trace late yesterday afternoon.
Leads in the case are as <a href=”http://wyninspires.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/cinderella2.jpg”>thin as a Princess’s waist.</a>
Investigators described the situation as follows: the father of the house returned home from work, went to the master bathroom and discovered the scene pictured above. A fairy gown, a fairy tiara, a fairy hoop, fairy shoes and fairy wings lay on the floor as though a fairy had gone “poof” right there.
An incongruous My Little Pony satchel lay next to them.
Police have asked neighbors to remain on the lookout.
Considering the pile of clothes, they expect she is <a href=”http://members.iglou.com/riplou/TheStreak.htm”&gt; wearing next to nothing.</a>
She is wielding a wand and should be considered magical.

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img_Jun_22_2008_52_30For Fontaine’s sixth birthday, my wife found a red-headed doll for the red-headed daughter. She pulled it out of the wrapping paper and gasped:
“She’s got my red hair and my red face! She’s me.”
I had always kind of shrugged off the need for kids who look different than most dolls to have dolls that look like them, but when you’re wrong you’re wrong.
Fontaine’s always had a brilliant shade of red, which isn’t even red but orange and luscious yellow, and people have always talked about it. And she loves that. Every drawing she does, like the one to the left, features her in brilliant red locks.
So when I heard on the radio that http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/living/2002266852_redhair09.html redheads were becoming extinct, I laughed because we’ve got three in our family of five. The world may be two or four-percent, but here in this family we’re sixty percent redheaded.
Then I did some looking into it and found out that the whole redhead etinction thing is as fake as most red hair, which had ticked off at least <a href=”http://www.brendanloy.com/wp/2007/01/are-redheads-going-extinct-or-are-journalists-just-really-gullible-and-lazy.html”>one Irish dude</a>, who is pretty obviously a redhead.
Anyway, if there is an extinction threat, maybe two of our three would become highly sought rare college applicants. Redheads are smart; smart enough to say yes to a college scholarship offer.

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img_Jun_19_2008_56_05It’s 10:17 p.m., and I know all too well where my child is. Or one of them.
Elizabeth (3 and a half) has been downstairs, way past her bedtime, reporting that upstairs consists of nothing but a bed of horrors.
Seems she’s got an upset stomach.
And there’s some kind of wound on her leg.
Her bedroom is too hot, and she saw lightning outside, which further exacerbated whatever’s wrong with her leg.
And…”What’s Daddy watching on TV?”
My patient wife, after getting her some milk, which of course probably put a continued pounding on whatever’s wrong with her leg (that thing’s more pulpy than Tiger Woods’ knee), finally laid down the law:
Elizabeth, Your performance is…I think your gig is up.
And now Elizabeth is upstairs. And now, we just saw a lightning flash and heard thunder.
And guess who is scared of thunder?
No, no, not me. I’m tough.
Elizabeth.
“She’s going to have to sleep in our room, isn’t she?” my patient wife just said.
Mm, hmm, I grunted.

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Having a favorite color seems important, if you’re a kid. So I always feel badly when I’m watching sports wimg_Jun_17_2008_26_38ith the girls. Fontaine will say, “I’m for the red team,” and usually there is one, and Elizabeth will say, “What about the purple team?” And there isn’t one. Think about red and you got about a fifty-fifty chance one of the teams playing is in that color.
Purple? As they say, not so much. When I was a kid there was one purple dynasty, the Minnesota Vikings defense was called the <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_People_Eaters”&gt; purple people eaters</a>.
Yet right now, as we speak, rather as I type this note to myself, the <a href=”http://www.nba.com/lakers/index_main.html”>purple team</a> is getting stomped in game six of the NBA finals, and I’m unable to root for them to turn things around.
<a href=”http://www.insidehoops.com/hate-the-lakers-120405.shtml”>Just don’t dig the Lakers</a>, and luckily, Elizabeth’s already in bed and didn’t even know the purple team played tonight.
Anyway, if the purple team wins tonight, I’ll mention that to Elizabeth at breakfast. If they lose, I’ll keep quiet and smile.

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img_Jun_14_2008_58_05I saw a story in the paper (that’s this thing that lots of people over 35 read to gain knowledge and figure out what’s going on in the world) on Wednesday. An advancer for Father’s Day, about stay-at-home dads. One of the dads quoted in the story said when he took his kids to the library, the moms would stay at arm’s length: There would be a gap, then me, then another gap, the dad said.
I thought about my Mr. Mom friend Brian. He’s been staying home with his two children for seven years now. Drops ’em at pre-school, goes into the school office to load money onto the lunch card, takes ’em to the doctor.
Brian’s got some hippie in him, and he smokes Camel Lights and wears saggy jeans sometimes, and in the wintertime a Pittsburgh Steelers wool beanie pulled down low, and when I read the story in the paper (knowledge, local happenings) I wondered how far of a gap there is on either side of Brian during storytime at the library. Bigger than one space, I guessed.
But here’s the thing. Brian’s doing the hard work that the stay-at-home parents do, the real day-to-day mental sloggery. When I stop by to visit, he often reports first not about the Steelers, but what’s going on with his kids. The other day, he related a true reverse psychology ploy he had pulled on his son, and it worked, and he concluded with a satisfied, rumbled, “Yyyyup.”
So here’s to all the parents, including my stay-at-home wife, who endure the daily sloggery without completely losing it.
And on father’s day, cheers to Brian, one heck of a unique Mr. Mom.

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Yeah, OK, the below entry? I know the three readers of MTD are dying to know whether Fontaine yelled “Yaaay” in a child-like manner on her last day of kindergarten.
I can tell from the posts on the site, and the back-channel emails, that our public is demanding the right to know.
There was no cheer. In fact, I don’t think I heard anyone cheer. I think all the kids were too distracted by it being the last day to cheer.
I did though. The kid makes it through something, I now know, so did the Mom and the Dad.
So, under my breath, the 6-foot-1 kid standing in the kindergarten line said, “Yaaaaaay.”

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Every mornimg_Jun_11_2008_15_33ing at precisely 8:15 a.m., when the first bell rings at Fontaine’s elementary school, the kids waiting in line outside cheer.
It sounds like a really innocent, kid-like cheer that you might hear a clump of 7 and 8-year-olds do on a Charlie Brown special.
<i>Yayyyyy!</i>
Fontaine doesn’t cheer. She thinks it’s silly. She’s in kindergarten.
But that’s why I’m excited about tomorrow. She told me way back in September that she wouldn’t cheer all year, but she would on the very last day, because that, that would be a happy day.
So that’s tomorrow, last day of school, no more pencils, no more books…School’s out, for the summer.
The day, by the way, ends with early release at 10:05 tomorrow. The school <i> day </i> will be less than two hours. Let’s just say that was going to be your work day tomorrow, like you wouldn’t cheer for that?

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What Goes Up…

So, I was feeling pretty, pretty good. Fontaine, before she hit Heartbreak Hill around milemark 20 of kindergarten, she got picked to be one of a small group of kids who made a book from scratch. She named it, drew the pictures, wrote the story. The whole bit. So now when she’s a famous writer, her bio can read: “I wrote my first book at the age of five.”
It’s about a unicorn named Isabelle, which is cool, but here’s the point. In the “About the author” section, she dedicated it to “her daddy because he is always very nice to her.”
Is that fantastic or what? (I’m not always, by the way, sometimes I go totally Dadalistic and my face turns red and I turn into a, a, a guy who would never have a book dedicated to him. So I appreciate the look-away).
But a few of us at my job worked this metaphor for a while, that we were on a Ferris Wheel, so if you are getting a lot of praise (at the top of the ferris wheel), just hang on, you’ll soon be swinging back down to the bottom.
And it was, an hour or so ago, putting Elizabeth to bed.
“Want to know why I got so upset?” she asked.
(It wasn’t at the top of my list of queries…there’s upset-ness around here all the time and my main question is usually: When’s this going to end?)
“Yes, I do,” I said, instead of all that parenthesized stuff.
“Well,” she said, “I want <i>Mommy</i> to read me a book…and I always get youuuu.”
(Hey, that’s cool, I get that, but you don’t have to rhyme it with ewwwww.)
And down came the Ferris wheel.img_Jun_09_2008_52_50

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This house is lousy with Princesses. Elizabeth (3 and a half) takes Princess life seriously. Dresses as one. Has a Princess lamp. And I’m pretty sure her first successful execution of a subject-verb sentence was: “I am a Princess.”
Saturday afternoon several three-inch tall Princesses that previously decorated Princess Elizabeth’s third birthday cake found themselves in a death defying situation, in the living room.
I was alerted by a high-pitched shriek: “Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhhh!”
I looked in and saw three Princesses perched precariously on a toy freight train. Elizabeth rallied her older sister, who most times, doesn’t give a rip about Princesses.
“We have to save the Princesses!”
We do?
“Yeah,” Elizabeth explained, “it’s a hurricane, a real hurricane!”
Oh no.
“Yeah,” Elizabeth continued, showing perhaps a future spark for tabloid journalism, “and a mean MONSTER!
“And a hurricane.”
I’d make Elizabeth proud if I could name the Princesses in the picture. She knows them all.
Care to hear the starting lineup of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds?img_Jun_03_2008_19_11

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