Thursday, February 28, 2013

Penelope's Sentences

Penelope's Sentences from Wet Legs, Crab Trap, and Frog Cops:

1. I had a red nutcracker, but it turned alive and killed me.
2.  There was a nutcracker begging and begging for his dinner, but a pirate came and stole him away and cut him to pieces.
3.  I wrote a letter with a pen to my mommy who lived far, far away, and it said, "Dear Mommy, me and Grandma love you."  Isn't that sweet?  And I was just a little boy!
4.  "I beg you to give me that red bottle that's locked in the pen where the chickens live," said a little boy.  And his grandpa said, "No! No!  I don't like you!  I hate you!  I'm going to throw you into that pen to drink your water, and the chickens will eat you!"  His grandpa was a bad wizard named Headlock.  He eats grown-ups, but he throws the children into the chicken pen.

1.  A crab snapped my toe.  (It was a little boy's toe.)
2.  A crab got my jam.  (It was still me, the boy.)
3.  A little boy left out a trap to snap a mouse.
4.  A crab snapped somebody on the toe.  He was going to eat the person's toe with cherry jam.  He said, "Oh this person will be delicious!  All the bites I can take!"  But he had lots of jam, so he ate the person in one gulp.  That must have been a huge gulp!

1. A frog jumped in the fireplace.  (Her: Isn't that good?  Me: Not for the frog!)
2.  A little boy threw a log into the pond where frogs lived, and then they all jumped out and said, "Croak! Croak!  I'm gonna bite your toe!"
3.  A frog was going along the path, just stealing a little bit of stuff, but then he happened to see some cops going by.
4.  The frog was doing bad stuff in the pond, so the cops arrested him, but he was really only jumping along.  The cops didn't understand the frogs and how they always jump along in the pond.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spring Movie Diary: Dark Skies

Date: February 26, 2013
Time: 5:05 pm
Place: Tinsel Town
Company: Derrick
Food:  Coke, popcorn
Runtime:  1 hour, 35 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Directors:  Scott Stewart

Quick Impressions:
For the past couple of months, whenever a Dark Skies trailer has come on during movie theater previews, I’ve squinched my eyes shut and kept them closed through its duration.   I mean, except the first time, obviously.  I stopped looking because what I saw the first time—i.e. a glazed-eyed Keri Russell repeatedly banging her head into plate glass—really freaked me out.

As I rule, I don’t like horror movies.  Maybe I would like them if I watched them—new thought, I’m considering it—but usually I don’t.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love movies dripping with oh-so-spooky atmosphere, but that’s not really the same thing.  I want to be intrigued, not disturbed.  Anything that’s kind of flickery like the frame rate has been strangely accelerated—you know, something’s so horrible it can only be shown to you in quick, conspicuously choppy flashes, maybe something directed by Rob Zombie like one preview we saw tonight—that’s not for me.

Basically, the supernatural fascinates me, but if you couldn’t show it on network TV, you can usually count me out.  (That’s not saying I hate all horror movies.  I love Scream, The Orphanage, and the 1941 Wolf Man.  I thought The Woman in Black was okay.  I like that cool-looking guy with eyeballs in his hands from Pan’s Labyrinth.  Misery was good.  My sister and I loved Firestarter as kids.)  I just don’t enjoy being actually disturbed by the movie.  Plus every time my sister has convinced me to watch a horror movie with her, the plot goes to pieces before the audience.  (Is Poltergeist a horror movie?  I liked that.  Is The Birds horror?  I love that.)

I’m also not big on torture porn or excessive Satanic vomiting (by which I mean any Satanic vomiting).  Vomit is unpleasant enough as it is.  Do we really need occult vomit?  I thought evil was supposed to be seductive and alluring.  What’s alluring about vomit?  I saw The Witches of Eastwick at a friend’s slumber party when I was nine, and thought, “Wow, if I had powers, that is not what I would do with them.”  Give me Elizabeth Montgomery’s Samantha Stephens over people who use magic to induce random barfing day.  (That movie ruins witchcraft and cherries!  Good grief!)

I guess what I’m saying is, I like beautiful horror, not ugly horror.  (I hit on that just now when I remembered that I liked Gothika—except the dumb ending Ugly, scary people locked in an insane asylum would be bad.  Halle Berry and Penélope Cruz locked in an insane asylum is entertainment.)  Real life is ugly and scary enough, thanks. 

So anyway, why I decided to see Dark Skies in the first place is beyond me.  It’s from the producers of Insidious, Paranormal Activity, and Sinister, and I haven’t seen any of those (by choice). 

For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed it.  Seriously, I liked Dark Skies far, far more than I expected.  In my book, it’s a perfectly decent, reasonably entertaining, and very thought-provoking movie. 

Given what I’ve just disclosed about my personal preferences, though, a fan of horror might well assume that Dark Skies is not much of a horror movie.  That’s possible.  I haven’t seen many, so I have little basis for comparison.  I will say that it didn’t scare me—though there were one or two moments that made me (and my husband) jump.  But the preview is nine-hundred times scarier than the movie itself.  Still, it’s a good movie (though kind of a downer until the end).

The Good:
I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Dark Skies is about aliens.  Apparently, the preview tells you that (if viewed with open eyes and ears).  When my husband broke the news to me, suddenly seeing it sounded like a much better idea.  I mean, when aliens are tormenting you, it’s usually in the name of science and all just a big, cultural misunderstanding.  No vomiting.  (Nobody has to wonder, “Is it E.coli?  Is it a virus?  Is it all the powers of Hell?”)

It’s been a while since I saw a good movie about aliens discreetly causing trouble on this planet.  Lately, the box office has been inundated with monsters and super heroes, but there aren’t so many good-old-fashioned we’re-experimenting-on-you-in-your-sleep aliens.  So in that way, Dark Skies was refreshing.

I enjoyed watching it because it made me think—about all kinds of stuff really.  It’s the type of story that raises a lot of the sorts of questions that I enjoy.  Why do certain things scare us?  Why is what scares us right now kind of unique?  Like comedy, horror is really most effective in its own day.  I mean, it’s very cultural-moment specific.  Elements are included in Dark Skies because those are the things we find scary right now, the stuff of nightmares.  And it’s definitely very true that there are beings here already screwing up our planet and making our lives a nightmare (usually thoughtlessly).

The movie is extremely topical.  The family faces everyman (or at least everymiddleclassamericanin2013) kinds of problems.

Honestly, I expected the movie to be light—either scary or unintentionally funny, perhaps both—just a popcorn munching good time.  It’s not that.  It’s very serious.  The problems this family faces are basically the same kinds of problems faced by all young families right now, and they feel very real.  The existing issues of the family aren’t swept aside by some new wave of horror that starts.  Instead, they remain very much a part of how each family member experiences the terrible things that happen next.  What I’m saying is, these aren’t empty characters who suddenly experience something extraordinary.  The unusual events they experience only exacerbate their existing difficulties (and those difficulties help shape their characters and determine how they respond to new challenges). 

So honestly, the movie is kind of a downer in parts.  (I personally was more concerned about what society would do to the family than what the aliens would do.)  In fact, at one moment, I even started crying.

The movie also makes the point that things are expected to happen in a certain way.  We all have well-ingrained cultural frames for interpreting reality.  Once something happens to you that doesn’t fit into that mold, you’re really pretty screwed because nobody is ever going to believe you or help you.   The moment something weird happens to you, most people respond by thinking you’re weird.  That’s much easier than trying to figure out what’s actually happening.  Nobody cares what’s actually happening because if we question the things we know, then society might quickly begin to fall apart.  Nobody wants that.

So I thought the family responded to what was happening to them in a particularly realistic way.  And that’s where most of the actual horror comes from in my opinion.  It’s not so much that things are happening that can’t be stopped.  It’s that things are happening that no one will believe.  People who say crazy stuff are usually crazy (at least, that’s what everybody tells me.  I haven’t thought too much about it).

(That was a joke.)

Several times, the movie reminded me—in a good way—of an old episode of The Twilight Zone with just a bit more action.  For a while, it plays with the same kinds of ideas as “The Monters Are Due on Maple Street” (so much so, in fact, that I have to think that was a partial inspiration).

Best Scene Visually:
The most exciting part to look at comes when all the birds show up.  (Honestly, though, that probably would have unnerved me if I’d viewed it as a ritual killing rather than the side-effect of an intergalactic science project.)

Another great moment comes in the father’s nightmare (although it’s kind of creepy and awful, of course).  When it happened, it was only mildly disturbing to me, but later on, there was a moment when I thought the same thing might happen again, and for some reason, the anticipation of it possibly happening again was a hundred times more horrible.

Funniest Scene:
I’ve forgotten the exact dialogue leading up to it, but there’s this great moment when Keri Russell’s character is saying something hysterical, and her husband is being dismissive, and she gives him this look of death.  My husband was already whispering to me about how that dynamic seemed familiar, and then she gave him that look.  It was awfully funny—and also something she really didn’t have to do with that degree of intensity.  It was like a little added bonus thrown in at the end that made the scene that much more enjoyable.

She’s really funny in the dog scene, too.

Best Scene:
Even though it was the reason I stopped watching the preview, the Keri Russell/plate glass scene is probably the scene I enjoyed the most.  For one thing, the movie does something kind of clever there.  (I didn’t think it was up to any tricks like that, so I enjoyed the way that unfolded.)

Best Action Sequence:
Everything is most exciting when people aren’t themselves.  There’s not really a lot of actual action, though the scene with the kids in the woods is actually pretty weird before anything paranormal happens.  That’s definitely an element that might make the movie worth re-watching.

The Performances:
Keri Russell is a better actress than she often gets credit for.  She’s definitely much stronger than the guy playing her husband (Josh Hamilton).  He has all the best lines, but she makes way more of her silences than he does of his lines.  I’m not saying that he’s bad.  He plays the part adequately, but he’s a little one-note and based on this performance I’d guess he has limited range.  We spend quite a bit of time seeing things from the father’s point of view, and in terms of the dialogue he’s given, the character seems really well developed.  But I think a more talented or experienced actor could have taken the performance to another level.  On the other hand, practically all of Keri Russell’s best moments don’t come from what she says, but how she reacts.  She makes more of less.

I also really like Dakota Goyo.  (This time I swear I’m going to remember who he is.  I said that when I looked him up after watching Real Steel and again after watching Rise of the Guardians, but this time I mean it.)  He’s a talented young actor.  He kind of reminds me of a young Josh Hutcherson.  I don’t mean that his screen persona is the same.  I mean he displays the same kind of potential I used to see in the really young Josh Hutcherson (who was great in Zathura and made Firehouse Dog watchable.)  So let’s hope he grows into it as well as the still pretty young Josh Hutcherson.

J.K. Simmons is a welcome presence in any movie.  He’s very subdued here, but gives a strong performance.

The Negatives:
The scene with J.K. Simmons is great, but after that, I think the movie falls apart a little.  The big problem is that there’s really nowhere for it to go.  Why continue after that?  Well, I mean, I see why they do, but I can’t say I admire the way they do.

Until then, the movie is reasonably well written (particularly for its release date) and highly engaging.  But the ending is just a little bit silly.  At least, I think so.  (It’s suddenly very mockable.  In light of their stated goals, their actual strategy just really makes no sense.)  But what are they supposed to do instead?  (Well, they might start by doing what they said they were going to do.)

Actually, when J.K. Simmons showed up, and then Keri Russell wandered into his back room, I suddenly hoped, “Maybe there’s about to be some really big twist!”  But no.

I mean, there is a twist, but I have to think it’s more of a surprise to the family than to the audience.  At least, it didn’t surprise me all that much.  (I won’t say that I thought it was inevitable, but we get quite a few heavy handed hints, including an entire scene that’s whole purpose is either to draw attention to this possibility or to convince us that the mom is a terrible realtor and so the family is doomed to starve.)   I do think it's interesting that the family is blindsided by this "twist" because like their neighbors, they see only what they're expecting to see.

Sometimes I think it might be fun to have one screenwriter complete a screenplay, then pass it on to someone else and ask him to write a different ending.  Maybe they already do that.  But I think the ending should either have been more surprising or more disturbing or bigger and more conspicuous (and therefore, weirdly, happier).

Also, it probably won’t be scary enough for most people because it didn’t scare me (while the preview for it did).

I really enjoyed Dark Skies and found it both more thought-provoking and more coherent than I had expected.  The performances are pretty good, especially from Keri Russell, Dakota Goyo, and J.K. Simmons, and the movie is consistently engaging.  It’s not exactly fun to watch, but it engages both the intellect and the emotions and doesn’t become unavoidably mockable until very near the ending.  Even then, its conclusion is coherent (if a tad lackluster). 

Dark Skies isn’t disturbing in the way that I feared, but is legitimately disturbing in some other ways that horror fans might find diverting.  I don’t know if you’d call it good horror, but it’s a decent throwback alien movie for sure.  It surpassed my expectations.

Penelope Says

February 18

Penelope: Wow these stink.
Grandma: Are you smelling your feet?
(I turn and look. She is sitting on the couch by Mom with her toes up both nostrils, rubbing her foot all over her face.)
Penelope: Yes, I am. I always smell like this. Every day.
Grandma: I think you must be part wolf.
Penelope: (indignantly) I am, actually. (Long pause and she continues to rub her foot all over her face and sniff, then irritated) Why did you say that? I've been trying to keep that a secret.
10:13 pm

Penelope: I'm the queen. Bow to me. I'm the queen and the princess, and Daddy's my king. And get to be the witch. It's like a play!
11:52 pm

February 20

Penelope (as we run around the room to Winnie the Pooh songs, grabs me by the hand): STOP IT! STOP THIS! YOU HAVE TO STOP RIGHT NOW!
Me: Why? Why are you screaming at me?
Penelope: You have been daydreaming, and you have to stop! YOU ALMOST RAN INTO THE FIREPLACE!
Me: No, I did not! I wasn't running anywhere near the fireplace!
Penelope: YOU WERE! When I stopped you, you were right over there, and you didn't even know you WERE RIGHT BY THE FIRE PLACE! YOU ALWAYS RUN INTO THE FIREPLACE!
Me: (indignant) I haven't run into a fireplace in almost 30 years! You are basing this entirely on anecdotal evidence you don't understand!
Penelope: I'M NOT!
Me: I wasn't going to run into the fireplace!
5:06 pm

Me: Would you rather be a ghost, a vampire, a werewolf, or a zombie?
Penelope: A zombie.
Me (surprised): Really? What would you do if you were a zombie?
Penelope (rolling her eyes because it's obvious): Eat brains.
Me: So why would you want to be a zombie?
Penelope (like I'm an idiot): Because brains are good.
3:55 am

Penelope: Cheese! Cheese! I must have cheese!
(Fifteen minutes after I sliced some cheddar cheese for her.)
Penelope: (with a sigh) Mama...Mama, I can't bear to eat my cheese! Will you get me some buttered toast, please? And cut off the crusts?

No melodrama in this household, no sir.
11:46 pm

February 21

Me: Should we take a walk to the playground? Are you going to be warm enough in shorts?
Grandma: Well, it's pretty warm today.
Me: Yeah, but she always gets cold.
Penelope: (who doesn't want to put on pants) I can't get hot. I'll just die if I get hot!
3:54 pm

Penelope: Daddy, how about this? If I be a bad girl, you give me old worms from the garden. But if I'm a good girl you give me worms of candy from the store. Do you know what I mean? I'm talking about gummy worms.
5:18 pm

Penelope: (a block from our house) Why this is a lovely area. I think some of these houses look new. That one is quite pretty. We should do a destiny drive here. Look at all these birdies out today up on the wires. Those birdies are quite unusual.
Me: What makes them so unusual?
Penelope: Because they're so teeny tiny. That one is saying to the others, "Come on, friends! Let's move to a new wire!"
5:25 pm

Penelope: Let me tell you a question, Daddy. When we die, will all the stores be closed?
5:27 pm

February 23

Me (as Penelope yells incoherently from the shower and seems to say both our names): Are you calling me or Daddy?
Penelope: Mommmmmy! I said MOMMY! I need my MOMMY. MOMMY! I AM TALKING TO YOU, MOMMY!
Me: (sitting beside Derrick on the bed where we are now both looking directly at her) Yes, what is it?
Penelope: Tell Daddy to come and wash my hair.
1:44 am

February 24

Penelope: (loudly "singing" over Barbra Streisand) LET THE SKY FALLLLLL, WHEN IT CRUMBLES...
When Adele was performing...
Penelope: What song is this?
Me: This is Skyfall.
Penelope: I don't think so. It sounds like Zero Dark Thirty to me.
Adele: Let the sky fall...
Penelope: Okay, now I get it.
10:14 pm

February 25

Penelope: Mommy, I'll have some of that delicious strawberry ice cream, please.
Me: Penelope, I'm sorry, we're out of strawberry ice cream.
Penelope: Let me come check.
Me: No, I'm sure. I can see the carton in the trash.
Penelope: In that case, I'll have sherbet.
Me: I don't think we have any sherbet.
Penelope: Yes, we do. I mean that lovely chocolate sherbet I had yesterday.
Me: Sweetie, that's rocky road.
12:42 am

Me: What was your favorite part of the Oscars?
Penelope: (who didn't like it much, grumpily) I could not tell you. I really don't know.
Me: Well, what was your favorite song?
Penelope: Les Mis. AND THAT'S MY ONLY FAVORITE SONG. (suddenly realizes) Oh wait! I like Les Mis and Skyfall. Those are my two favorite songs.
Me: What was your favorite movie this year?
Penelope: Wreck-It Ralph.
Me: What about Brave? Did you like that?
Penelope: Unh uh. Too scary. (Shrugs) Bear.
Me: Were there any other movies you liked?
Penelope: Hotel Transylvania. That's it. Click post. That's it! I'm getting UNPATIENT! DON'T PUT THAT ON! DON'T PUT THAT ON EITHER!
12:46 am

Penelope (arranging the pieces of slate Mom brought home from her walk for her on the kitchen table): Does this look like our state? (exasperated) Oh great! I'm trying to make our state, but all it turns out is a tall woman in a slippy evening dress! Oh my gosh, this woman is tall! She looks like a snake woman! She must be standing on a hill!
4:02 pm

While working on Penelope's reading...
Me: So if you already have ill, what do you need to make "pill"?
Penelope: (immediately) P!!!!!!
Me: That's right! Very good! Great job! What about "kill"?
Penelope: C!!!!
Me: Good job. C can make that sound, but this time it's a different letter that makes that same sound.
Penelope: K!!!!!
Me: Great! Now what about if we have "ill" and want to make "hill"?
Penelope: (slapping her hand on her head dramatically, closing her eyes) Wait just a minute. Something is coming to me. My powers are coming over me, and they're going to tell me the answer. They say (starts speaking in a weird, deep moan) I don't knooooow. Let's do this laaaaaater.
4:17 pm

Penelope (jumping out from behind the island): Here I am!!!!
Me: (surprised) Oh! I was looking everywhere for you!
Penelope: And I've been down there eating dust, meanwhile!
4:21 pm

Apparently Space Werewolves enjoy reggae. Penelope wanted "space music" while we work her solar system puzzle. I let her pick the station on Pandora, and she was like, "Ooh! That one!" I asked, "You want to listen to reggae?" She was like, "Yeah, it's going to be great!" A random reggae song started playing, and she scrunched up her nose and grinned saying, "See?" Now the song "Jamrock" is playing, and she's periodically howling.
4:57 pm

Penelope: Wow! It sure is wind-ing today! Practically that whole fence fell down! Oh my gosh, there are a lot of shingles blowing all over this place!
6:11 pm

Penelope (from the back seat): I've been thinking about this song, and I think maybe one of them wanted to get back together, and the other one really, really didn't!
6:40 pm

Penelope (noting an X marked on a light pole in the parking lot): What is that X there for? I think maybe somebody really bad died there, and they want to remember.
6:43 pm

The full moon is amazing tonight because the crazy wind keeps blowing clouds around it in different designs. Penelope says, "It looks like a giant cookie with orange frosting."
7:11 pm

February 26

Penelope: Howwwww(freezes before she can finish howling with a shocked expression on her face).
Me: What happened? Are you transforming?
Penelope: The moon has been full for hours. Can't you tell I've already transformed? But something else is happening to me. (suspiciously) Maybe it was one of my enemies. (With a gasp) Spooky Kitty has done this!
Me: Why would she do such a thing?
Penelope: Because she's my enemy! It's what she was born to do! She's so evil! Bad people killed her family, so she came to live with us, but she's such a bad girl! I would throw her in the trash if I were you!
Me: Well, it wouldn't be very nice to throw her in the trash.
Penelope: But she's bad. She is evil, I am telling you. She is trying to destroy me.
Me: Oh no! What will you do?
Penelope: To tell you the truth, I just don't know. It's going to be very hard to capture her without my weapons.
12:20 am

Penelope: Let's go upstair...(Stopping in her tracks, frozen, gasping out, looking stunned) Something has come over me! (After about five seconds, goes completely rigid and falls dramatically to the floor.)
12:23 am

Me: What makes Spooky Kitty do such bad things?
Penelope: Some kid stole her yarn of ball.
Me: You mean her ball of yarn?
Penelope: Yeah, that's what I said, so she's been evil since then. (quickly, dismissively) And that stuff about bad guys killing her family. You know.
12:24 am

After Penelope read Rub-A-Dub-Cub, we were answering the questions in the back...
Me: Can you use the word "mud" in a sentence?
Penelope: It was Christmas time. It was very grassy...
Me (interrupting): That's very good, but that's a whole story. Just one sentence is shorter than that. It's just one idea, like, "I fell in the mud" or "A dog ran through the mud." Now can you make up a sentence using "mud"?
Penelope: I was eating an apple, and when I ate another bite, mud came out.
Me: Yuck! Good job! That was great! Why did mud come out of the apple?
Penelope: I bit it too hard, and the mud squished out and dropped on my head.
Me: Oh, well, now can you make up a sentence using the word "stuck"?
Penelope: As I was going on, some of my clothes fell and dropped into the mud. I was a little boy, so I didn't know how to get them out.
Me: Did you use the word "stuck"?
Penelope: (like I'm an idiot) UM, they were STUCK in the MUD!!!
Me: Okay, so a sentence would be, "My clothes fell off and got stuck in the mud."
Penelope: Okay.
Me: Now can you make up a sentence using the word "tub"?
Penelope: As I was going to take a bath, a goblin jumped out. I was like, "What?" Then I jumped in the tub, but then there were baby goblins everywhere in the tub.
Me: That was very vivid. Can you use "mud," "stuck," and "tub" in the same sentence?
Penelope: Of course. Mud was stuck in my tub!
4:18 pm

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Bramlinkin

The other night, I asked Penelope, "Who was our greatest president?"

She answered, "Barack Obama! No! Wait!" (Wicked Smile) "Mitt Romney!"

Those are the two "presidents" she knows because she remembers watching all the debates last fall.

I asked her, "So what do you think of Abraham Lincoln?"

She replied blankly, "What's a bramlinkin?"

With a sigh, I thought, I knew I should have bought her a book about Abraham Lincoln!  I really thought about it for President's Day, but then I thought, Oh, we talked about Lincoln so much before and after the movie.  We can just talk about him.  Or not.

Tonight, she was telling me how Spooky Kitty hypnotized Other Penelope and made her do evil things.  "So we have to hypnotize her back."

"Hypnotize her back?" I repeated with a chuckle, laughing at the idea that the way to fix brainwashing is further brainwashing.

Penelope misunderstood.  "Oh, did you say, 'hypnotize her back' like"--she twisted around and pointed to her back--"a human back?  Good one!  No, I said, 'hypnotize her back.'"  She's like Tobias on Arrested Development.

Listening to a video of herself tonight, she corrected the video.  "No, I didn't say X.  I said Y."  It's so funny because the video isn't repeating what she's saying like I do, it is a literal recording of what she said.  Evidently, she doesn't pronounce things as clearly as she thinks she does.

Windsday + Werewolves

The wind is crazy today.  As I told Derrick, all day long, I kept glancing out the window thinking, We should go outside; it's so nice.  And then the neighbors' cars would blow by.  (Of course, that's an exaggeration, but there was trash blowing all over the neighborhood.)

Penelope and I spent most of the afternoon working on her lessons.  She read Pig Jigs all the way through.  She's gotten very good at sounding out, and I'm proud of her for that.  She's also brilliant at brainstorming rhyming words and has an impressive vocabulary for her age, I think.  Her attention span, however, leaves a little something to be desired.  Also, no matter where we start out sitting, she always ends up sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.  She's not so great at holding still.  Now that I know Grayson has ADHD, I keep wondering about Penelope, but she is only four years old, so possibly, she's just not used to paying attention to school work.

Before our reading, we did about thirty minutes of math.  We used Mom's dinosaur counters to do some addition.  When we first started, I thought she was much more brilliant than I'd expected.  I told her to count out three dinosaurs.  Then I told her to get two more dinosaurs.

"How many do you have now?" I asked her.  Without counting, she just said, "Five."

I was thinking, Wow!  I expected her to count all of them.  So then I asked her, "So what's 2+3?"

Squinching her nose, she answered, "Six?"  Then watching my face, she rushed to say, "No, no!  I meant 27!"

So it took us a little while to learn the concept.  But finally by the end, we made it work.  I'd ask, "What's 3+4," and she was able to use the dinosaur counters to tell me the answer.  At first I had to remind her of each step, but by the end, she was doing it on her own, so I thought that was pretty good since we just started.  (However, her kindergarten teacher will probably not want her to rearrange things in the room, partially strip, and sit in the middle of the table as she answers.)

Sometimes she doesn't count right because she goes too fast and fails to count each one.  (Then she always argues with me that she's done it right, and she'll do it again and actually pause over the one she failed to count and deliberately not count it and glare at me.)  She also sometimes got distracted by deciding mid count that she actually wanted a different color dinosaur counter.  And sometimes the dinosaurs got in a fight.   But still, she did a pretty good job for what was basically our first math lesson.  She did three problems in a row correctly without having to be prompted at all, so then we stopped for today and read Pig Jigs.

Then she wanted to take a break and listen to Pandora on TV while we worked her solar system puzzle, and I thought that was a very reasonable suggestion.  Lots of times when we play pirates, we listen to World Radio, which I call "pirate music."  So today, Penelope decided that we needed space music.  However, she then selected reggae.  I was surprised, but she was adamant, and she seemed to love it.  She kept periodically howling (because she's a werewolf, and it's a full moon).

We really considered heading to the park when Derrick finished work, but at that point, it was 57 degrees with a severe wind advisory.  That's not really park weather, particularly with a four-year-old (who might turn feral at any second), so we decided to run to Target instead because we needed to pick up a few things.

Penelope was elated.  "Target!" she cried.  "Well this is great news!  We can finally get some more Jelly Bellies, Daddy, because that's where Grandma got them, from Target!"  (In possibly related news, Penelope's dentist called today to schedule a cleaning among other things.)

On the way to the store, we observed that the next-door-neighbors' fence had blown down on two sides, and in many houses on our street (though thankfully, not ours), a number of shingles had blown off the roofs.  Lots of ambulances and firetrucks were out, too, and traffic going the other way was horrible.  Apparently, there was an out-of-control wildfire near Mom and Dad's old house this afternoon.

Safe in our van, we listened to Slacker Radio on Derrick's phone, and Penelope (for the first time) decided she wanted to analyze Taylor Swift's song We Are Never Getting Back Together. She kept asking us questions and finally decided as we pulled into the Target parking lot, "I've been thinking about this song, and I think maybe one of them wanted to get back together, and the other one really, really didn't."  Nothing gets past her.  She added that she also suspected one of them might have been a boy, but she wasn't completely sure.

Tonight we caught up on three episodes of Modern Family we had missed on Hulu Plus.  Going without Direct TV is working out just fine so far.  We watched the Oscars live on ABC using the antenna last night, and that came off without a hitch (though, of course, we had to sit through all the commercials).  I can't believe what TV looks like through an antenna these days.  The last time I remember watching TV that way was when we lived in Friendswood, and I was in high school.  Certainly a different level of picture quality today.  Often, it looks better than the Direct TV did.  (Derrick reminded me that the Direct TV signal is compressed.)

We've been watching lots of Netflix and Amazon Prime.  My mom seems to be in heaven because so many British shows she watches can be found in their entirety that way.  Earlier, we all got really hooked on a show called Gavin and Stacey.  All of us enjoyed it.  We watched it every night, and it went really fast that way because there are only three series with about 6 episodes each.  At first it seemed kind of weird, but I got totally sucked into it awfully quickly.

Now we've been watching the British being human, but we were in the mood for a sitcom tonight.

Penelope loves finding new shows on Netflix.  She's discovered Blues Clues, Super Why!, and Go Diego Go.  Her favorite show that we all watched as a group?  Freaks and Geeks.  At first, I thought she just liked the music (because she was dancing so much), but she got really annoyed and informed me, "No, I like the entire show.  I like all the people and everything."  I asked her why she liked it so much, and she told me, "I was very surprised.  I expected them to be scary, but these are actually just normal people having their life."  My parents didn't seem as enthusiastic about the show, though, so we really haven't watched very far yet.  Possibly we'll watch some more without them at some point.  I like finding something we can all watch together in the evenings once everyone is home from work, and we're having dinner.

Penelope also likes Keeping Up Appearances, Marple, and Poirot.  

Tonight she discovered this strange anime show called Rosario + Vampire that she thought was the best thing ever.   Because of the full moon, she was changing into a werewolf all night, so she wanted to watch something spooky that was also a cartoon.  She's very good at using the Roku remote to find new shows.

Rosario + Vampire was definitely compelling.  I'm not sure that I should let her watch any more of it, though, because it has a very strange emphasis on squeezing people's breasts that is a little weird.  She really wanted to watch it, so we watched an episode, but then the next episode got much stranger.  It's about a boy who goes to a private high school for monsters by mistake.  It's very funny and cute and compelling and weird--but then suddenly for no apparent reason, you're getting an upskirt shot of a girl--an animated girl with panties on, but still--or someone is squeezing someone's breasts.  Penelope didn't seem bothered by any of this.  She explained to me, "I'm sure the person doing it was new.  They meant to show her face, but they kept getting her toodlebutt by mistake.  Sometimes it's hard to use the camera."  Very charitable of her, I think.  The second episode--which we only watched part of--was about a succubus who kept squishing her breasts into people.  Penelope thought that was "very rude" of her and decided she "probably didn't know any better ways to make friends."  (She'll make a very generous film critic some day.)

We probably won't be watching this again, but it is strangely compelling, sort of baffling.  (All the characters are dressed, and they're young teenagers going to school, and there's lots of driving plot and character development.  It's just very weird, though.)  I don't really watch a lot of anime, so it was all very intriguing to me.  One minute, you've got a fuzzy cartoon bat acting like he's on a children's cartoon from the 80s.  Then suddenly, there's a scary monster fight.  And then a girl is falling into ice cream while singing a song.  It's quite odd because sometimes it really seems exactly like the shows that are targeted at children--say upper elementary aged--then it has these random bursts of needlessly objectified cartoon girls.  It's very hard to stop watching because you keep wondering, "What on earth is going to happen now?"

Penelope, meanwhile, had an explanation for everything.  I noted, "I don't know why it's called Rosario + Vampire because there's no one named Rosario.  The girl is a vampire, but the boy isn't named Rosario."

Penelope helpfully explained, "That's because she turns into a vampire if she's not wearing her rosary, but when she has her rosary on, she's like a different person.  She's like two people, but she's just one person."  I felt so stupid when she said that because it's this very obvious plot point and somehow I expected there to be a character named Rosario.  I'm a little slow.  I guess I was just preoccupied wondering what people falling into a giant portion of very creamy strawberry shortcake had to do with the plot.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How I Give Kisses Now

Lately Penelope has developed the weird habit of sidling up to me and announcing, "I have something for you that you'll really like," or "I have a surprise for you, and I think you'll really enjoy it," or "I've got something wonderful, just for you."  She usually follows this announcement by either 1) Burping in my ear, or 2) Passing gas in my general direction.  (She actually points her butt at me as she does it.)

The other night, I complained, "Did you just toot on me?"

She replied, "No, I didn't toot on you.  I just tooted near you.  That's how I give kisses now."

I've never seen her do this to anyone else--just me.  It's such a stereotypically little boy thing to do, the whole, "Let me tell you a secret," followed by a belch in the ear bit.  I've been racking my brains trying to think of where she's getting it.  It seems like the kind of thing a little girl would pick up from an older brother, but Grayson never tells jokes like that--at least not to me.  I haven't noticed anything like that on any of the shows she regularly watches.  I'm not sure where she's getting it.

After getting up early (for me) two days in a row, I'm actually feeling totally exhausted right now.  When was the last time I was in bed before 4:00?  Seriously, I can't keep my eyes open, and I'm thinking of going upstairs to sleep.  I'd write about the Oscars, but what is there to say?  They're over.