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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Feeling posh

Dinner this evening: Quinoa, fennel and radish salad, Italian rice sautéed with onions, and Kombucha Botanic No7 (kombucha, hibiscus, orange peel, chamomile, fresh-pressed ginger) to drink.

Does any of this sound tasty? Truthfully, it all is. But I would never think that I'd be so close to driving a Smart Car unless it was a Smart Forfun2.

Although, speaking of Smart Cars, this one is cool, too.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stories from Texas: AJ & Anya in WalMart


I began this post in July of 2009. I just noticed today that I never finished it. You may notice a change in writing styles.


As I was working one day, AJ and Anya came scampering up to me, their faces all lit up with the predicted enjoyment of their large rubber ball. They were going outside to bounce it, and they begged me, "Uncle Anthony, come watch how high we can bounce this!" Well, it was the middle of the afternoon, so I was working, but since I'd been telling them "No," and "Later," all day, I figured that I needed to say, "Yes," this time. I couldn't let them get discouraged or to think that I didn't want to associate with them, so I agreed.

We went outside, and AJ said, "Watch how high I can bounce this!" He then slammed the ball onto the deck with as much force as a 7-year-old could muster, which amounted to about 10 feet in the air. He shouted, "WOW! I've never seen anything bounce so high!" So Anya had to get in the action, "Let me try!" AJ handed her the ball after a minor confrontation, the subject of which had to do with AJ's turn not being over yet, but within about 45 seconds, AJ had bounced it once more, thus ending his turn, so Anya showed me how high she could bounce it. She also achieved about 10 feet, and tried again, as AJ had. So I got my turn and bounced it about 15 feet, which was met with, "WOW! I've never seen anything bounce so high!"

This is a bit of a prequel to the fact that my sister's kids have stock phrases which they use quite often, and which are very exclusive and universal. So, back to the story.

I got a second bounce, and this time the ball flew off the deck. The giggles and the "wow!" chorus ensued as expected, and the ball landed in Mom's tall flowerbed, just off the deck. The problem is that some of the stalks of the floweres wre broken. One such large specimen pierced the ball and popped it, and that ended all the fun. In light of the fact that I had ruined their toy, I promised them that I would get them a new one to replace the one I broke.

Hey, it's an effort to teach them integrity. Give me a break, I'm still learning it myself!

Well, they ran through a few different solutions to fix the ball: tape, string, glue. None of them worked, so they took me up on my offer for a new ball.

That Saturday, I had to go to WalMart to pick up food and such, and AJ and Anya wanted to go, too. My usual routine is that if they are good, I'll give them a quarter to get a treat from the quarter machines up front. A small handful of M&M's goes a LONG way to appeasing a youngster's patience with boring old shopping, and the promise of it makes them really helpful in the store. If you give it to them before the trip starts, they'll only want a second treat as they leave, but if you give them the treat after the fact, they are really helpful in the store in anticipation of the thank you gift later.

Anyway, I just realized that I'm one of the few non-parents who are actually reading this. All of a sudden, it seems that I'm discovering things that everyone else already knows...

Anyway, so we went into the WalMart and began shopping. It was a short list: bread, cheese, milk, eggs, and small candy bars for energy throughout the day. Mom needs it: she deals with 5 little ones most days!

Well, at the end of it all, when we left, I paid for everything on my card. I then realized my mistake: I couldn't get quarters to give the kids! My promise went up in smoke before my eyes. I told AJ and Anya about my mistake. AJ is very forgiving; he immediately piped up with a smile and, "That's OK, Uncle Anthony." You could tell he was disappointed, but he wasn't going to let it ruin his day. Anya was much more visibly disappointed, but she followed her brother's lead in accepting my apology and forgiving the broken promise.

Well, we went outside, and as I was loading up the groceries into the car, I remembered the incident with the ball. I thus loaded the groceries in the car and took the kids back inside to replace the ball. WalMart didn't have the right size or type of ball, so I said that I would get them something else. Both kids ran all over the toy section scanning for stuff they wanted. AJ picked up a MASSIVE jar of bubble soap which came with a fantastically large wand. Anya looked and looked and finally found a large toy doll house that she fell in love with. No, that's too expensive (about $50). We kept looking, and the next thing she saw was a large stuffed dog which was also expensive, but it was a higher quality than your average stuffed animal (about $30). She was now torn between a doll house and a stuffed animal, trying to make up her mind.

This was the scene, and it's much better acted in person, but it will have to do. Sadly, I don't remember the exact words, but this is a good paraphrase.

(drops to her knees, almost in childlike awe of the doll house)
Oh, Uncle Anthony, it's PERFECT! I love it!

(stands behind her)
No, Anya, I can't buy you a dollhouse. Do you know what your mother would do to me if you came back with that?

But it's so beautiful!
(leans in closer to admire the picture of the model little girl playing with it and having a grand time)
And it's so nice!
(looks back at me, stars in her eyes)

Anya, I can't buy that for you.

(looks at the house again, stars and maybe a tear in her eyes)
But it's JUST what I've ALways WANted!

Anya, I still can't buy it for you. It's too big for your room!

(still ogling the dollhouse)
No, it's not! It can go right in my room!

(gets tired of this conversation)
Anya, I can't buy it because it's too expensive. I can't afford to buy it for you, so please choose something else.

(looks wistfully at the stuffed animal)
Well, I guess that this will do.

Anya, that is also too large for your room. Your mother would kill me if I got you something that big!

(looks at the stuffed animal, stars and maybe a tear in her eyes)
But it's JUST what I've ALways WANted!

Anya, I'm sorry, but we can't get that.

(looks back at the dollhouse)
Well, if I can't have the stuffed animal, can I have this dollhouse?

(rolls eyes and tries to repress a smile)
No, Anya, we can't do either the dollhouse or the stuffed animal. Please look for something different.

(having watched the majority of this scene, he comes into the conversation to help ANYA get something awesome)
Anya, why don't you get one of these?
(points at a smaller doll, that was about $10)

No, I don't think so. I don't like them.

(points at a tiny stuffed animal in a tiny purse, about $5)
What about this? This is really CUTE!

(looks back at the bigger stuffed animal)
No, I don't like it at all.

(gets excited about the smal stuffed animal)
But look! It's so cool! You can carry it around with you, and you can even put things inside it!
(demonstrates by putting his finger into the purse)

(gets excited)
Wow! That's neato!
(looks at ANTHONY)
Can I get this?

(playing hard to please, but rejoicing internally)
Well, I don't know. Don't you think you'll lose it?

No, I promise I won't! Please, can I get it?

Welllllll, OK. As long as you promise.

I DO promise!

And that was that. We walked up to the register and I paid with cash. I still wanted to give the kids quarters, so when I got my change back, and I had two quarters, I gave them each one. AJ went to the gumball machine and got himself a nice juicy gumball and began blowing bubbles. Anya, thoughtful as always, paced the machines, looking for the perfect money-spending gift. Her choices were limited: demonic tattoos, gumballs, and a tiny handful of M&M's. She then saw something else: little troll dolls with jewels on them. Her eyes lit up.

I want THAT!

But you only have one quarter and it costs two!

(looks at the sparkly troll dolls again, stars and maybe a tear in her eyes)
But it's JUST what I've ALways WANted!

I'm sorry, dear, but you'll just have to wait. Maybe you can get one later when you get another quarter. If you keep the quarter you have now, you'll only need to earn one more, and then you can get one!

(sticking the quarter into her dress pocket)
I'll keep it here!

(notices that the pocket is very loose and the quarter would fall out of it's own weight)
Do you have anyplace else to keep the quarter?

But Anya, you can stick it into your new purse with your puppy!

(sticks it into the new purse with the stuffed animal)
I'll do that! I won't lose it there!

Are you sure, Anya?


And then we went home.

She came back to me the next day, saying that she had lost her quarter. I didn't give her a new one, but I did say that I was sorry to hear that, and that perhaps she should keep her money in a better place next time.