Monday, February 28, 2011

Christmas Tree

Penelope and I just finished taking down the Christmas tree. I say "just," but really we finished about an hour ago. My back, however, is still in the moment. She was actually remarkably helpful. We made a game of taking off the ornaments and seeing if we could find the boxes that matched them. Then we took off the lights and tinsel. Mostly, I did that, but Penelope was still very vocally supportive. "I can't get them down, Mom! I can't get it, Mom! It's stuck, Mama! I'm all tangled up! Oh no! All tangled up!"

The Oscars were very strange last night, but I still enjoyed them. I'm very excited thinking about planning our vacation.

Jingle Jumper

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zooing it Up, Part I


Love was in the air at the zoo today--and by love, I mean noisy tiger mating calls. The tigers were definitely doing the tricky dance of love. The male liked to show off; the female was coy. They were louder than I'd ever heard them. At first, as we approached the area, we thought it was some spooky sound effect. Then when we actually saw them--well! Some of my photos were x-rated and had to be destroyed! Penelope's verdit? "They're hungry."

Hungry for love!

Maybe because it's spring and time for jungle love, all the animals were strutting around preening. The lion was like a runway model. He loved posing. He was like, "I'm fierce, and I know it! Check me out!"

This was the first time we'd ever been without Grayson, but I've noticed lately that he seems kind of zooed out. I'm trying to think up activities that might excite him. It's much harder to excite an eight-year-old. When he was three, four, five, he was certainly easier to wow. As it was, we were running horribly late. Oddly enough, Penelope woke up early for her--about 9:30. She's been sleeping about three hours longer than that. But this morning she abruptly had a night terror that lasted almost an hour. Then she wanted to go downstairs. So she was kind of cranky at the zoo.

Last night, she'd wanted to go immediately. Derrick told her that the animals were sleeping. When we got out at our house, I asked, "Do you want to go to the zoo with me?" She kept urgently telling me, "All the animals are sleeping!" but she was so impassioned that I couldn't understand her right away. I guess she thought it was important that I didn't make a mistake and try to go to the zoo right then because I wasn't informed.

While we were reading stories in bed last night, we heard a train whistle. Penelope said, "I'll take the train to the zoo." We really enjoyed her new books last night--The Gruffalo's Child, Giraffes Can't Dance, and various Strawberry Shortcake adventures.

By the time we actually got to the zoo, it was just after three o'clock, and it closes at five, so we skipped the otters, the bear, the fish, the birds, the buffalo, the deer, the snakes, the bees, the owls, etc. We mostly just saw the big stuff, but it was a beautiful day, and we all really enjoyed zooing it up, even though Penelope was being kind of a Grumpapotomus. For a while, it really seemed like we were at the zoo with the Gruffalo's child.

Afterwards, we had dinner at Ninfa's, right down the street from the zoo. Penelope thought her food (a cheese quesadilla with rice, beans, and chocolate milk) was "wonderful" and "so good." She also thought the green dip (kind of an avocado salsa, not quite guacamole) was "delicious" and also "so good." She, apparently, was very hungry.

I'm considering going back next weekend (since we have a season pass), and doing our usual route in reverse, so we see the stuff we didn't see. But I'm really not sure if Grayson will be up for it. He seems to prefer video games and movie marathons these days.

Just now, Derrick went to get Penelope more milk. She immediately climbed up the stairs halfway and started banging on the wall making various animal noises.

"What's going on?" I asked, joining her on the stairs. (So I've been writing this entry for a while now.)

"All the animals are trapped in jail!" she told me. Then she knocked on the wall again and said, "Let us out!" Then she knocked on the wall again and said, "Wake up animals and come see Nelope."

Because she didn't feel like going downstairs, and I didn't feel like dragging her, we sat there and chatted for a while. "I like my Mommy," she said, settling down into her blankies. "I like my Mommy to come to my spot."

"What did you like best at the zoo?" I asked her.

"Lion," she replied. "And something."

"Something?" I prompted. "Like what kind of something?"

"Meersomething," she replied vaguely, then added, "Tigers scary. Elephant was stinky."

She really liked the play area in the Asian Rainforest exhibit. She wasn't very interested in sitting on the horsey, but she ran over to the climbing ropes and said she wanted to "ride these like Bubby." Then she had lots of fun jumping on that musical floor pad. Then she wanted to sit on the "puppy." "Call name?" she asked me. "Orangutan puppy," I answered. "Yeah," she said, trying to pick his nose. Then she wanted to bang the gong. After she got the hang of it, we wanted to leave, but she kept begging Derrick, "More gong!"

Penelope Wants to Stay

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Smile Penelope, No Thank You

Penelope has been saying, "No, thank you," all day. Sometimes it's polite. Other times, it seems slightly more defiant. At the table just now, it became silly, as I asked her, "Smile, Penelope," and she screamed with increasing zany defiance (and volume), "NO, THANK YOU!!!!" She didn't seem to notice in her rebellion that she was smiling.

Her new favorite joke is to say, "I'm hungry" at about eleven o'clock at night.

"What would you like to eat?" I ask.

"Lunch," she replies. Then smiles daringly and suggests, "Spaghetti!"

"Spaghetti!?" I cry in outrage. She laughs hysterically.

"No, thank you," and "Oh, my goodness!" are our two latest Strawberry Shortcake affectations. Earlier, I asked Derrick, "Who's your favorite Berry Friend?" He was like, "Uhm..." Long pause. Of course, later, he got sucked into the first few minutes of My Little Pony at the end of a DVRed Strawberry Shortcake. When I tried to turn on the whole episode, Penelope yelped, "NOOOOOO! Strawberry Shortcake!" I tried to plead with her, "But Daddy wants to watch My Little Pony." Then the whole thing started to seem very funny to me. We're such a cool, hip, sophisticated couple!

Pain in the Neck

When the doctor found the problem yesterday, he triggered the pain again. It was horrible last night, deep pain responsive to nothing, just as bad at rest. I couldn't sleep until about 4:00. Derrick gave me a massage about 2:30, and I finally went down to take some Tylenol about fifteen minutes later. I had to eat a tortilla with it and walk around upright for about an hour afterwards to make sure I didn't have reflux.

I think it's finally starting to get a little better. It was really bad earlier today. I woke up feeling sleepy this morning, but then Penelope started to wake up, too. She looked sleepily over at me with this irrepressible smile in her eyes. (I could only see her eyes. There was a pillow blocking part of her face.) She looked so happy and cute that I decided we should both get up.

She was under the table just now, hiding from a dragon. She'd made herself invisible by closing her eyes. With her eyes shut tight, she yelled up at me at the top of her lungs, "He can't see ME, Mama!"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Animals in the Park

My Girls

Entrapped Nerve

I saw the doctor who did my back surgery back in 2005 today, and he thinks that I have an entrapped nerve. He says sometimes they get entrapped by scar tissue. He referred me to a pain management specialist. Hopefully, with some injections, the nerve can be freed. This is pretty good news, I'd say. He says that no surgery will be needed, which is a huge plus.

The pain management specialist should call us by the end of the week so we can make an appointment. It's kind of bothering me more than usual right now because he had to find the pain place, and he found it. I may take some Tylenol in a minute. I feel like we're finally on track to get this resolved.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Escaping from the Cave


The Dragon

When we went to the cave yesterday, we told Penelope there might be a dragon. Once when she was trying to run away from Derrick--on one of those occasions, not the one time--Grayson said, "But Nellie, we might find the dragon."

"Hiding," Penelope said wisely. Then she looked over to one side and chirped enthusiastically, "I see him! Hi, Dragon!" She waved.

I wondered if she'd seen a rock formation or something, but last night, we told each other a bedtime story about Strawberry Shortcake and the berry friends going to the cave to see the dragon.

Strawberry knew that Penelope had been to the cave before. I asked, "What does the dragon look like, Penelope?"

"Blue," said Penelope.

Then I realized that she'd seen the lights in the back of parts of the cave (that signify, by color, how far back humans have gone from that spot). I guess she thought that was the body of a dragon who was trying to hide. She's so sweet.

She and Grayson really enjoyed their rock candy, too. But I think I might be getting pneumonia like Derrick had.