Thursday, April 28, 2011

I've decided that DQ can go to Theater Camp this summer.  At first, I thought to myself, why throw gasoline on a fire?  However, I've offered up soccer, golf, tennis and dance hoping to elicit a reaction fitting an excited five-year-old with no success.

Her onstage debut May, 2010
I had never mentioned theater camp to her, because, let's face it, she doesn't need an actual stage to perform.  Yesterday, she had my 65-year-old mother and her two-year-old sister positioned as backup singers on our front porch.  Today, while a friend and I snacked on overly processed grilled cheese, she presented her 2011 swimsuit line for us.

Our family has spent countless hours positioned just so on the couch watching her parade around in different costumes while singing, dancing and waiting with fake modesty for the rousing applause due to her at the end of each performance.  I usually spend this time oscillating between amusement at this little girl lost in fantasy and horror at the prospect of someday having to do the pageant-mom thing.

Over the last few months, she has become very interested in helping with household chores.  Specifically, dousing the windows with Windex and smearing it around until they are so cloudy you wonder if it's foggy or if the neighbors house is on fire.  Of course, the best part about her 'help' is that she has to 'get dressed' before beginning.  She has a sundress with matching kerchief that is 'perfect' for doing chores.  It's the kerchief that makes it so perfect...she wears it while walking slowly around the house, singing and cleaning like the most down-trodden of all the princesses!

This really had to be the final straw.  If I'm going to spend the money on a week long daycamp, it might as well be something she enjoys because, after all, it's not about me (oh yeah, and I spent four summers in a theater group).  I reluctantly mentioned that a nearby candy store (yes, downstairs candy store, upstairs theater) offers a weeklong "theater camp."  Her interest piqued, she asked, "what's theater?"  I explained it's a camp where she and other kids her age get to sing and dance on a stage.  The response was ridiculous...and loud.  Who knows, maybe she'll learn to channel her drama, to save it for her fans in the audience instead of those on the couch.  (Can I pay extra for that?)  Wish me luck.

PS - I did manage to get her to agree to soccer.  When she's concentrating, she's great and she is actually incapable of running without a smile.  Oh, she's also pretty good at working in the occasional post-score twirl.  And, the only pink she wears in the game is on her shoes...awesome!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Welcome to the Neighborhood

When you move into a new home, you have many hopes for what your house will have.  For me, I hoped granite or Corian countertops, a main floor 1/2 bath, solid-core doors and neighbors with a great sense of humor.  What was that last one?  It's not because of my great joke-telling prowess, but because with my family comes a certain amount of chaos that could lead to a) a lot of laughs for the witnesses or b)my family being run out of the neighborhood.

Many of you remember my FB post about my daughters' Crayola 'huffing' habit.  Yes, Crayola made scented markers and my girls now associate their coloring books with the sweet smell of artificial pine, lemon, raspberries and lime, among others.  This 'addiction' has led to many an afternoon spent wandering around the Rizzuto homestead with a rainbow-colored mustache that would put the Lucky Charms leprechaun to shame.

Well, today, we took our habit a little too far when I found them peer-pressuring the neighbor girl in our game room.  I walked in to find her with a marker up each nostril and Chuckles and DQ shouting, "Heew, mell dis wun," and "Oooh, this is my very favorite!"

I venture a guess that we have made quite an impression on our neighborhood, the current situation not withstanding.  My toddler, who was potty-trained before age two (there, I got in a snarky, braggy parenting remark), is quite capable of taking off her pants, scaling the toilet and doing her business all by herself.  But, being a toddler, she has not mastered the all-important skill of putting the pants back on.  And, being a Rizzuto, she does like to be naked.  So, neighbors, landscapers and door-to-door solicitors have all had the unfortunate experience of witnessing my toddler streaking the neighborhood.  (Sad thing is, her brother is totally jealous and yes, he's six).

And, you have all heard about DQ's propensity toward the scream.  Well, she uses the scream without discretion and the volume is quite impressive (again, her father's side of the family).  Whether she is being pulled around by a canine or her brother has turned the hose on her or her sister is holding her watering can, she has managed to bring more than one neighbor to their window to make sure there isn't a murder being committed on the sidewalk.

And, then there's Sharkbait.  Where to begin.  Actually, I'm not going to begin because I only have a few minutes to write.  I'll just share with you that within the first three months of living here, one neighbor made the comment to me that "he's the most appropriately named kid I've ever met."  And we'll just leave it at that.

So, here we are.  We cleaned up the friend before she made her way home, but who knows what information is now being delivered to her parents.  I'm sure this is only the beginning of the excitement we'll be bringing to the neighborhood.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monon Mayhem

So, since we've moved to Indiana, I've been purposely avoiding the Monon.  The Monon Trail is 16.7 miles and stretches from 10th street in downtown Indianapolis to the north side of Carmel.  It's loaded with restaurants and art exhibits and people.

My kids spent their first years walking, wagoning, triking, biking, skipping, scooting and running the 35-plus miles of paved walking trails in Maple Grove, MN.  Our neighborhood had direct access to one of the larger trail systems, complete with a brand-new footbridge over CR-81 and directly into Elm Creek Park.

These trails are great for kids and full of fantastic views, scurrying wildlife and, of course, dog poop.  They rarely cross a major road and even on weekends, they aren't very crowded. (Which is handy when your kid unexpectedly drops his pants and urinates on nature.)

The Monon trail 'culture' is radically different than the trail culture of Maple Grove.  The Monon is serious business.  It's busy at nearly all hours of the day and the runners, bikers and walkers who use it are there with a purpose.  It also crosses several major roads.  So, you can imagine the concerns I have had for my offspring who are used to treating trails like a golden path on which chaos is king.

But, last week, I decided to try it.  My friend, Raygan, lives right on the trail so I thought, what the hell, we're Hoosiers now and we should experience the Monon.  Which brings me to the other theme of this story: my less-than-stellar parenting decisions.  Raygan is the very proud owner of Charlie, a 3-year-old Springer Spaniel (he's actually a special sort of Springer who, funny enough, was born in Minnesota).

So, after much shuffling and coordinating and urinating (in advance this time), we hit the Trail.  The kids couldn't wait to walk Charlie and DQ (the Drama Queen) was up first.  Because my kids lack dog-walking experience, I suggested to Raygan that we tie the leash around her waist in case she dropped the leash. WHAT?!  Yes, I actually suggested that for Charlie's safety, we should tie a 50-pound hyperactive pooch to my 38-pound five-year-old.   From my perspective, what happened next took place in slow motion.  DQ's waist was pulled forward and her long skinny legs tried desperately to catch up but to no avail.  Within a moment she was facedown on the pavement being drug forward by a most-excited dog.  She went maybe five yards but as I felt the guilt set in, it looked more like 50.

In the moment after that, a funny thing happened on the Monon Trail:  there was silence. There were no birds singing, no rhythmic tennis shoes hitting the pavement and even my oldest, who was already 1/2-mile ahead, paused to take notice.  They were waiting, as was I.  They were waiting for the wail that only this particular five-year-old can produce.  And, she delivered.  Blood began running out of the hole in her new leggings and that's all it took.  The screaming could be heard for what I imagine to be miles.  So, there we are, two adults trying to catch a dog, call a six-year-old back from his 1/2-mile lead and wrangle two toddlers back the way we came all while I was carrying a five-year-old who is screaming repeatedly, "WHY?  WHY OH WHY did you tie me to the dog!!!!!????" (A valid question for which I did not have the answer.)  Needless to say, we left the Monon.

I am still paying for this particular bad parenting decision as she keeps banging open the scab and reliving the 'pain' with every bath.  The screaming begins as the water starts to run and I scurry around the house closing windows.  We are new to this neighborhood after all.  We avoided any reports to CPS while I was on the Monon but you can't get in your car and drive away as fast as possible when you're in your house and half your offspring are naked (that's a different division of CPS).  It's not the first time that punishment has been spread out over weeks, maybe years and I know it won't be the last.

AFTERWARD: I spoke with Raygan today and found out that Charlie and another of her friend's had a similar incident this weekend.  The latest victim was an adult who sacrificed her wrist and knee in order to shield her camera.  After our incident, we hit a park, where Charlie was let off his leash and had no less than six kids throwing sticks for him to chase.  We didn't realize that by moving our party to a more manageable location, we were in fact, creating a canine monster.  So, if you see someone being pulled along the Monon by a crazed Springer, throw a stick toward Raygan and be sure to say 'hi' to Charlie!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Take your sunshine and ...

Well, I opened my blog three months ago and now, here I am, actually writing a post.  Better late than never?  Most likely, I won't be actively be working on this site until July but I have a lot of thoughts rolling around and wanted to get some of them down as a promise to all of the other thoughts so desperate to get to print.  

Why July?  Well, because at the end of June, my job is going away and I have no replacement.  Nnooo, Child Protective Services is not taking my children away.  I'm referring to my part-time job, consulting in the retail industry.  My current gig has offered a manageable workload and its accompanying paycheck have been most welcome for the last three years.  However, California employment laws and our relocation far, far away from my beloved Twin Cities have brought me to a crossroads.  To stay in the game will require a full-time effort for an uncertain outcome.  Or, I could walk away completely...again.

Let's be honest, it's a pretty easy decision.  But, there's more.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to write.  When I joined Facebook a few years ago, I finally had an easy outlet.  I began using the 240-character statuses as a Cliffs-Note version of a journal but it wasn't enough.  I promised that I would go back and write about each instance in greater detail when I had more time.  And, that brings me to July...

I'm not young enough to be afraid to do this anymore.  I believe that at 34, lack of self-confidence isn't a valid reason.  Plus, I'm finding that the words are getting out anyway and possibly impeding my ability to do my full-time job as parent.

Well, practicing writing with my kindergardener
didn't go so well.  I'm not sure but I think taking his
 writing book and starting a journal, didn't help.

 There have been great supporters all along the way like my husband, TJ, Raygan Swan and my mom, among many others who deserve (and will get) a shout out.  It's time to start and if nothing else, someday my kids will have type-written blog posts to provide their therapist.