Thursday, December 20, 2007

Virgin Mary

I mentioned in my last post that the girls' performances were over. Both of them had parts in holiday shows, just of vastly different scale.

Zoe, my three-year-old, goes to a small, home-run (but still licensed!) preschool with only three or four other kids. It's been great for our most anti-social child of the bunch. Apparently, when we're not there, she's the most outgoing and happy girl around. She sings, she talks, she plays with the other kids. This is all stuff she does with her sisters at home and some of the neighborhood kids, but would not even think about doing if she saw someone new around.

We like to call her our turtle. When she's in a bad mood or near someone she doesn't feel that she knows well enough, she'll crawl into her metaphorical shell and stay there until the situation has changed. This can take the form of her putting on the Pout of All Pouts and lowering her head to dropping on the ground and curling up like she really has a turtle shell to hide under. It's very cute, but sometimes a bit much.

Her preschool put on a small (read: tiny) production of the Nativity. They gave Zoe the perfect part, Virgin Mary. Mary just sits there gazing lovingly at the baby Jesus. No big deal, right?

She was excited when we got there. She went right down to get into costume (a scarf over her head and shoulders) while the rest of us, Stacy's visiting family, and the other kids' parents and grandparents, took our seats in front of the little show area. Zoe's teacher brought her out and had her kneel in front of the basket that would serve as the manger.

As soon as she entered the room, we knew the turtle was with us.

She sat there, eyes downcast, lips pursed, mouth frowning, eyebrows knitted, everything as if cast in stone. It was the cutest thing (is it bad that I consider my daughter's extreme shyness adorable?) The best part was when the angel, one of her fellow students, tried to place the baby Jesus into Mary's arms. She didn't move a muscle. The angel gave up after a few seconds and just put the baby Jesus into Mary's lap, where he stayed, untouched, for the rest of the program.

Thankfully, the program was short. Afterwards, we all sang a couple of Christmas carols and then adjourned for some refreshments. Zoe was perfectly fine after the Nativity scene was over. She was laughing and playing with the other kids like nothing had happened. Just don't put her in front of an audience.

Her Highness is not amused.

Equally Funny Sibling Idiosyncrasy Dept.
Casey nabbed a shot of Scarlett at her most evil right after we put a sticker on her nose for a rousing rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I'll see if I can get a photo up within the next couple of days of both of them.

Stink Eye Update:

Here is the shot Casey took of Scarlett while at the Nativity celebration:
Tell me that's not the greatest Pissed Off Toddler Face you've ever seen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Houseguests No More, Wii-Related Injuries, and Mr. Monocle's Malicious Money Mongering Machine

Birthdays are over, kids have finished their performances, extended families have left for home, life is good.

It was a hectic week for Stacy and I. Having her family in town was fun, but stressful. Sleeping on the constantly-deflating air mattress in the cold basement wasn't pleasant, but I can handle something like that for three nights. We got in a few good games of Wii Sports Tennis, enough to show me how out of shape I am. Did you know there is a medical condition that has been nick-named Wii Elbow? Yeah, apparently it strikes those that play a lot of high impact Wii games and adolescent boys. Not sure where the correlation is between those two groups.

We celebrated Scarlett's second birthday with some friends at Chuck E Cheese the week before last. She had so much of a blast that we thought we'd take her back along with her uncle, Ryan, and his son, Mason, since both of their birthdays are pretty close to the same time. We have a house of mouse near us, but since we don't enjoy skee ball games with one ball or driving games that run in circles, we opted to go to the one about 45 minutes north.

It's a good thing we don't live near a casino, because the light chase machines at those places taunt me until I dominate them with my superior light-stopping skillz, coaxing out the sweet stream of tickets like a soothing cascade of spring water to a desert nomad. I can usually master the infernal machines with a relatively low investment of tokens, but this particular location has one branded with a certain top-hat-wearing, monocled, mustached debonair that brings a little extra Atlantic City charm with him. Instead of a single token with a single progressive jackpot of tickets, he has three levels of payout with which to taunt me.

"Just one quarter?" he seems to say, "You know that will only get you 50 tickets if you win and three measly ones if you get close. C'mon, it's not worth it unless you drop in three. Just think, 200 tickets, imagine what you can buy with that!"

(For the record, that'll get you one bag of cotton candy and a couple of party favors, seriously.)

Mr. Monocle is devious. I won the jackpot on our first visit with a relatively small investment. He knows how to draw me in. I cashed in an undisclosed amount of money (I ain't tellin'!) and approached my nemesis, confident in my superiority, safe in the knowledge that I had mastered it before and it would do my bidding. Why, with as many tokens as I had, I could afford to hit the three-token bonus and then the two-token jackpot!

Oh, it's an evil little thing, that machine. It sucked the tokens out of my little cup like a kid gulping down water during a midnight potty break. The most insidious part of its little token-stealing plot is the payout for missing the jackpot by one light: 12 tickets. That piles up pretty quick. I look down at my feet and see the big stack of tickets and figure that even though I haven't hit the jackpot yet, I'm doing pretty good.

Then I look down and see the bottom of my cup through the few remaining tokens. I look up at the machine with dawning realization. Do you know what that fella with the monocle was doing?

He was smiling.

Oho! You're an evil, squat, ticket taunting devil, light chasing machine! I ripped out my tickets from its stingy innards and walked away with what little dignity I had left. I parceled out the remaining tokens to my kids and nephews and sent my tickets through the counter.

With the stack I had accumulated that night and the ones we had left over from the week before, I had enough to get five jeweled bracelets for all of the girls there, two sticky spiders for the two older boys, and a weird floppy-spiked little pair of eyes for the helluvit.

Who's smiling now, Mr. Monocle?