Monday, November 28, 2005

First fishing trip

As you can imagine, this was an exciting moment for Trey. I found a cute little pond in a park that supposedly has some fish, so T and I took her there for her first fishing experience. We stopped by Academy to purchase a brand new Dora the Explorer fishing pole and some "extra large mealworms" for bait. On the way to the store, we witnessed a small grassfire on the side of I-35 ("Should we call 911?" "No, someone's already called, I'm sure."). By the time we went around the freeway to get to the store, the two small, 12 ft diameter fires had spread up toward the actual freeway! Fortunately, the FD had showed up and were spraying them with water. I can't imagine what caused the fires. Cigarettes? Probably not, because there were two, spaced about 20 feet apart. It was weird. But I digress.

We got the fishing supplies and headed out to the park. It was a beautifully windy, if a bit warm for November, day--perfect for a nice family outing. Trey set up the line with a hook and a bobber, because Zoey wanted a ball on the end of her line. She'd seen a little boy fishing the first time we went to the park and really liked that there was a ball on the string. T cast out a number of times as we moved along the shore, trying to find a good spot, you know, where Zoey could actually catch some fish. The whole time, Zoey is way more interested in putting her hand in the water, or splashing a small branch she had found in the water and then taking it out to show me how wet it was. She stepped into a hole near the shore and soaked her tennis shoe in mud. (Note muddy right foot in picture) Trey kept casting. Zoey and I pulled out an extra large mealworm and watched it writhe on the ground. Zoey kept inching toward the water to grab leaves and pine needles floating near the edge. Everything was right with the world for a few minutes, even though there were no fish.

Then Zoey leaned over to grab at something in the water, and fell completely in. The look of shock on her face was priceless. I reached over for her, and wondered for a second if I could just grab her hand and pull her out; then thought better of it and went into the water halfway myself to get her out. She was soaked. I was halfway soaked, and she started to cry so I just held her for a minute and told her everything was all right. "We're finished," Trey said. I agreed and we walked toward the car with a whimpering, wet Zoey; me sloshing through the grass in my wet tennis shoes. Halfway to the car, Trey and I started giggling, because it was really very funny, and perhaps a necessary thing for Zoey to experience. See, every time we take her to some kind of watery body, she just wants to walk right into it and we have to pull her back forcibly and tell her she can't just walk into the water. But she doesn't ever really understand why. Maybe now she does. Does that sound harsh? It isn't, really. I mean, the water was only about two feet deep. She was never in any real danger. And the look on her face really was priceless. It's too bad I didn't get it on video, but the camera was in my back pocket--on the side of my butt that fortunately did not go into the water. Unfortunately, my cell phone was in my other back pocket, and it stopped working completely.

I had been planning on ending this entry with a little aside to the people who may care about how I was going to e-mail them with a new phone number, but this morning I put my phone back together and it seems to be working fine (please call me again BB!).

Oh, and happy 6 months birthday to Lucas!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Happiest Place on Earth

Or so they say. And it was, honestly, a pretty happy place for Zoey, who was so excited about meeting Mickey Mouse, even though we had to stand in line for over 30 minutes for the priveledge of a 2-minute meet and greet. Little kids do not understand waiting in line, or waiting at all, much less the concept of "get out of the way kid your time is up." Still, she spent the rest of the day saying, "Did you give Mickey Mouse a hug?" (She's currently conversing in question mode.)

It's amazing how an oversized rat in ridiculous clothing can make little kids so happy. I know that underneath that costume there's a tired wannabe actor who makes the same 10 poses over 300 times a day and is damn thrilled no one can see his face. But to Zoey, wow, he's a superstar. Along with every other big-headed character roaming around the place.

Needless to say, she had a fantastic time. Me and Trey, well, we got alternately tired, irritated, overwhelmed, and cynical, but it was hard not to feed off some of Zoey's intense joy. We didn't ride all that many rides, because Zoey was too small for many of them, and the wait was just too long for the rest. But we did enough to make a small child happy. We rode the Cinderella Carrousel, with its smiling white horses, first, because Zoey loves her some carrousel. I should correct myself, because we actually went to Toontown first because Zoey really wanted to meet Mickey Mouse. He was there when we walked in, and we got in line to meet him at the front gate, but the line moved slowly and Trey got impatient so we bailed and headed past Cinderella's castle to toontown, where the map promised Mickey likes to hang out. (Wait a minute, if he's in ToonTown, how come we just saw him at the front gate....) We mistakenly went through Minnie's House, and it's long crowded line of people walking past and just looking at stuff. But Donald Duck's park was just next door and we were able to let Zoey run around there for a few minutes before getting back into a line to meet Mickey.

I'm such a nice wife, I let Trey go wander around and find some coffee and aspirin while I took Zoey to meet Mickey. And while it probably took us 30 minutes to get in to see the mouse, get our picture and get out, Trey still hadn't returned. So I let Zoey play some more in Donald's park, which was a pretty happy place for many of the smaller kids, until they fell or ran head on into another kid and started crying (I saw this happen at least three times). Because the kids, you know, they're crazy at Disney World. Crazy or tired. Or crazy tired.

Trey finally made it back, though for a minute or two I was really worried that he was lost. He brought me an iced coffee that I immediately dropped in the restroom stall, much to the surprise of the mom and kid in the adjacent stall (heh heh, I left rather quickly after that). Oh well. We decided that the first ride of the day should be Cinderella's carrousel (see above), and that the second ride should be "It's a Small World," because I remember when I went to Disney World, oh, back in 1981 or so, my sister really, really loved that ride. And she was pretty much the same age as Zoey at the time. After a 40 minute wait, we boarded the little boats and floated through the disney-fied world of multiculturalism. It was great, mostly because it's just so much fun to watch Zoey be amazed.

Oh, and there's video of it here. It's very dark, but I think it conveys some of Zoey's excitement. ( quicktime version )

Then we ate a surprisingly good lunch: a turkey bacon pannini, which Zoey and I shared because she didn't like her turkey and cheese wraps. After lunch, we got fast past tickets to the Winnie the Pooh ride. Fast Pass is Disney's alternative to waiting in their giganto lines. You get one fast pass at a time, and it tells you when you get to come back to the ride, where you get in the fast pass line right onto the ride. The ticket told us to come back between 5:55 and 6:55, and as it was only about 3:00, we had some time to kill, so we went into Piglet's park, which, like Donald's playground, is an enclosed space especially designed for the smaller kids. She played around in Pooh's house for a bit, and went down the slide, and all was well and good until she discovered the water fountain feature in the park. She jumped right in to the fountain to play in the water, because, like all kids, she loves to get wet. And me, like all parents, just cringe at these fountains because it always induces such a contradiction of feelings. On the one hand, I really want her to have a good time. On the other, I don't want her to run around in wet clothes and I didn't bring a change of clothes with me into the park. But oh well, because the kid always wins and gets to get soaked. And then Disney wins, too, because we had to buy her a new shirt, but that's okay, because I wanted her to get a shirt anyway.

At this point, I'm wanting Zoey to take a little nap. She's tired and getting alittle fussy. She doesn't want to ride in the stroller (did I mention that renting a stroller was the best thing we did that day?); she wants me or daddy to hold her, but her shorts are soaking wet and it's not really comfortable to hold her. Trey and I need some more coffee, because we're getting a little tired, too, so we start walking toward Tomorrowland. Zoey's starting to cry because I've belted her into the stroller thinking she'll just eventually fall asleep. I mean, there were hundreds of other kids sleeping in their strollers (or parent's arms). There were also hundreds of other kids in various states of unhappiness--so much for the happiest place on earth. This kid was tired and overstimulated; I was just sure she'd pass out in the stroller. But she never did. She cried through much of our walk through tomorrowland (there were no good rides for little ones there). We finally just let her out of the stroller to run around a bit, which not only stopped her fussing, but also woke her up. Oh well.

We exited tomorrowland and came upon Cinderella's castle with about 10 minutes until the next showing of the Cinderella show. It's not that much of a show, just a little song and dance and into of the princesses who all came to watch Cinderella get crowned a princess. But it was Cinderella, and Zoey loves Cinderella, so we had to stay and watch it.

After the show, we still had some time to kill before our fast pass tickets were valid, so we went into adventureland and came upon a deserted Pirates of the Carribean ride. There were people streaming in, but as we walked up a disney employee pointed to the other line and let us know there were two, so we went into the empty line and literally onto a boat. Yeah! Another boat ride! Zoey loves boat rides. But uh oh, tunnels. Dark tunnels. Zoey hates tunnels. I had forgotten how frightening that ride can be. It starts out really dark, and then the boat drops off about three feet. Zoey started with the "no more! no more!" cries that she uses when she's scared and both Trey and me are starting to think we made a mistake. Fortunately, the ride livens up quite a bit once you get past the fake gun battles, and start seeing all the mangely animals interacting with the drunken, dancing and laughing pirates. By the time it was over, it had become one of Zoey's favorite rides.

We then got in line for the Jungle Cruise ride, but after about 30 minutes we bailed on the line. It gets frustrating to wait and wait and then watch all those fast pass people walk right in front of you. We meandered into Frontierland, but all those rides are too big, so we headed back to Fantasyland and the winnie the pooh ride. On the walk over there, I noticed the line for small world had gotten smaller, and so had the one for the Snow White ride. It was getting dark, so maybe a lot of the crowd had left. We walked right into the Winnnie the Pooh ride, which is one of the typical get-in-a-cart-and-wheel-around-a-track-to-look-at-scenes-from-a-story ride. It was cute, but really, meh. Then we rode Snow White, which really scared Zoey. Do any of you really remember Snow White? That story is terrifying, really terrifying. Everything about it is dark and sinister.

Surprisingly, Zoey wanted to ride the Dumbo ride, which she called the elephant merry-go-round, so I took her to stand in line while letting Trey sit down for a while. It was a long slow line, exacerbated by the fact that you could easily watch people get on the ride. And with Zoey, you just have to pick her up and hold her while in line, because otherwise she would wander off, maybe try to walk to the front of the line. She kept saying, "first they finish, then Zoey." Yes, that's right, first they finish. ANd then they finish, and then them and them and them.. Then Zoey. But it was worth it because Zoey loved the ride, which is a good sign for amusement parks in our future. I rather like riding the faster rides, and it would just suck if Zoey decides they're not for her, because I'm really looking forward to taking her on some.

Anyway, we're almost done with our day at Disney. We rode the carrousel again, because there was no wait (and again, Zoey loves her some carrousel), same with the small world ride. Then we found a place to watch the SpectraVision parade. I don't think I've ever seen Zoey's face more full of awe as during the parade, with it's millions of lights and every Disney character you've ever heard of riding electrical floats in front of you. She waved frantically to Mickey, who waved back to Zoey's sheer joy. She saw Cinderella and Snow White and Arial and Belle and all the princesses she's never heard of yet but will someday probably worship. And Donald and Goofy and Pluto and electic fairies and crazy looking creatures with funny faces, all dancing and fake singing to this really stupid, typically Disney orchestral soundtrack. For an adult, it's horrifying and magical. But for Zoey, it was just magic.

We got more pictures. Go here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Zoey was a princess/cinderella for Halloween this year. She wanted to be Cinderella, though she's never seen the movie and only knows about Cinderella from a certain Blues Clues episode. In any case, as they've recently released the DVD, target was overflowing with Cinderella stuff. You could actually buy a kids Cinderella costume for less than $16 (for an extra $10 you could get the glass slippers, too). I, however, didn't really like the official costume, thought it would probably be too big for her anyway, and instead bought a random princess leotard I found discarded in the costume section for $20. My thinking sort of was that this way she could play dress up ballerina or princess with it for the next two years (provided it doesn't get destroyed before that). Besides, it's Texas, and one never knows whether it's going to be hot or cold on Halloween. When I bought the dress, it was hot. The picture is actually from the weekend before, at the Houston Zoo's "Zoo Boo," where we went with Kelly and Olivia.

Zoey had a good time at the Zoo Boo; she got to ride the carrousel and dance to the DJ spinning in front of the monkey exhibit. Halloween, unfortunately, was a different story. She was excited to wear her princess costume ("I am a princess!" she'd say, her arms raised high over her head in exclamation.) She wore it to school that day, and to Kelly's friend's Halloween party in South Austin, where the plan was to take all the kids trick or treating together. I was excited about the trick or treating, because even though I don't really let Zoey eat candy, I certainly allow myself some sugar and the idea of having a plastic pumpkin full of sweets sounded pretty good to me. Plus, I thought Zoey would get a kick out of seeing all the other kids playing dress up. Except, sometimes the parents play dress up as well, and well, they like to be scary. So, at the party, there was an adult who dressed up like one of the Misfits, complete with scary face paint. He absolutely terrified Zoey. Everytime she saw him she ran into me and squeezed me so tightly I almost choked, tears streaming down her face. "No more! No More!" Poor guy. He felt so bad. The other adults kept telling him to go away from her sight. Supposedly he's actually a really nice guy. But after seeing him, Zoey was pretty much done. Even the kids started scaring her. We had to curtail the trick or treating after three houses (which means very little candy for me).

We went back to Kelly's friend's house to wait for Kelly and Gerry and Olivia (who, btw, was having a great time trick or treating), but even that was too long of a wait for my scarred little girl. Some kids came up to the house and tried to make her feel better, but one of them was dressed as a witch and Zoey wouldn't even look at her. She was a sweet witch, though, promising to not put a spell on her. So it was back to the new telephone room.

I did allow her to eat one peanut butter cup, which she said was "very good." Of course, now she just wants to eat more candy, and keeps asking for something from the pumpkin. Except, well, the pumpkins pretty empty.