Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rise of the Humpdacat

Four-year-olds have healthy imaginations. They don a superhero cape and magically develop superpowers. They're able to spend hours playing inside pirate ships or fortresses that to the rest of us looking cardboard boxes. And they think that having ice cream for dinner is possible if they ask enough times. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the existence of the humpdacat - a creature birthed from Benjamin's very active four-year-old brain.

A month or so ago, I noticed a figure popping up again and again in Benjamin's drawings - it looked vaguely anthropomorphic with wide-set eyes, two arms, two legs, and a thick torso. After watching him furiously putting the finishing touches on yet another one of of these creatures, I finally asked Benjamin what it was. He shrugged his shoulders, and said, "It's a humpdacat." I assumed that "humpdacat" was a mouthful of gibberish that Benjamin made up on the fly, so I didn't think I would hear the word again. But I was wrong. Colorful humpdacats continued to show up in his watercolors, hastily doodled humpdacats decorated the margins of his workbook, and the word "humpdacat" peppered his speech. The humpdacat was here to stay. 

I decided it was time to get to know the humpdacat. What is it? What makes it tick? I sat Benjamin down for a humpdacat Q & A.

Mommy: How big is the humpdacat?
Benjamin: THIS BIG. (spreads arms out wide and stands on tippy toes)

M: What is the humpdacat's favorite color?
B: Black and red and orange and brown and purple. That's a lot of colors.

M: Is the humpdacat quiet or loud?
B: The humpdacat is very quiet and very loud and very noisy.

M: What is the humpdacat's favorite toy?
B: Messy dump trucks.

After that last question, Benjamin stood up and demanded ice cream for dinner. The interview was over, and I felt as though I were no closer to understanding this enigmatic creature.

One day, I saw Benjamin writing his name in large letters right next to a humpdacat. A-HA!!! I excitedly asked him, "Benjamin, are YOU the humpdacat?" He rolled his eyes at me and said, "No, Mommy, CALLIOPE is the humpdacat." Hmmmm...

She does have humps...

...And she does sort of look like a cat.

I can't believe I didn't see it before!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Indigo Chans

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's the Little Things

I know... It's been ages since my last post. So that means that now that I'm finally writing, I should have something phenomenally, fantabulously exciting to report, right? Well, no. Not really. See, the thing that's finally inspiring me to update you isn't all that exciting or important. It's not a milestone, a major occurence, or anything to really write home about. Not that there hasn't been a lot going on in our lives. Come to think of it, there have been any number of things that I could have devoted multiple blog posts to. Such as our recent trip to Hawaii.

What made this trip so remarkable was that we took it sans kids. Yup - our first vacation as a couple since our first child was born! A real grown-up vacation! One that included real grown-up meals in real grown-up restaurants followed by dimly-lit, romantic and passionate real grown-up se-- Nevermind.

We had greatly anticipated this trip for months before, so it seemed like a cruel trick that seemingly everything we saw reminded us in some way of our two rugrats. Sigh. Guess that's parenthood for you.

A week after our trip to Hawaii, we packed up the entire family for a trip to Asia. The excruciating plane ride over there deserves a blog post all its own. The thirteen hour flight broke down like this:

HOUR 1 - Calliope sleeps. I give myself a smug pat on the back and start reading People magazine.

HOUR 2 - Calliope abruptly wakes up, realizes she's in a tin can hurtling through thin air and begins to wail.

HOURS 3-8 - Calliope does an incredible impersonation of Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I alternate between feeling horrified by the realization that I am the parent of THAT screaming baby on the plane and being in awe of my daughter's sheer stamina.

HOUR 9 - Calliope passes out. I use the restroom for the first time in eight hours.

HOURS 10-12 - Calliope wakes up and stays calm enough to eat something and watch the first five minutes of all two dozen DVDs I've brought with me about five times each.

HOUR 13 - Calliope starts to get upset again and ramps up for another epic Linda Blair impersonation. Thankfully, we land before her head starts spinning.

Torturous flight notwithstanding, our stay in Taiwan was wonderful. It was great to visit with family we hadn't seen in years and introduce our relatives to Vince and the kids.

After Taiwan, we flew to Singapore, the country where I lived before going to college, and the place I consider home. We visited various museums, historical locales, famous restaurants, old friends and the world-reknowned zoo, but what did the kids love the most about Singapore?

The bed in our Four Seasons hotel room.

Aside from the bed, I think what made the biggest impression on them during our Asia trip were the various modes of transport. Forget national monuments or breathtaking natural vistas. Bring on the planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention the subways and monorails). Speaking of modes of transport, I picked up a nice souvenir while I was in Singapore - a nice new stroller. I also got a nice new...! Well, technically I didn't get a NEW tattoo; I simply added onto an existing one. You see that dragon? That's the tattooI got on my last trip back to Singapore in 2001. See the cherry blossoms and the Chinese characters? That's the new part. In case you're wondering what the characters say, it's "midlife crisis." Just kidding! It's the kids' Chinese names.

I was lucky enough to have the same guy who's been tattooing me since I was a teen give me my latest one. His name's Chak, and he's the one who gave me the dragon tattoo eleven years before, as well as some of my other ink. When I first met him 18 years ago, he was just one of the artists at Johnny Two Thumbs Tattoo. Now he owns the place. I'm hoping that that means that when I go back again in another ten years, he'll still be there to add the names of all my new children to my arm. ;)

It seemed like we barely had a chance to recover from the jetlag of our Asia trip before the holiday season got into full swing.

Keeping the Asian theme going, Benjamin melted our hearts with with a spirited rendition of "Jingle Bell Wok" in the preschool holiday show.

Then before we knew it, Christmas was here! We got the best gift ever when Benjamin rode a two-wheeled bike (with no training wheels!) on Christmas Day.

Not to be outdone, Calliope decided to surprise us by giving up diapers a few days later.

Along with diapers, it looks like she also lost her sense of style. Luckily, her modeling career didn't suffer from her fashion faux pas.

Do you have any idea how terrifying it is to walk unawares into TJ Maxx and see a larger-than-life-size poster of your child hanging over your head? Most people don't realize that just because you're hired for a modeling job doesn't mean that the company that hired you tells you when or even if your photos! So believe me when I say that it was a shock to suddenly see this picture of Calliope. As for the pic on the right, that's for a costume company called Disguise. Little do they know, dressing my daughter up as a witch can hardly be called a "disguise."

The most recent of the many milestones that have happened since my last blog post was the kids' birthday. We celebrated with a rock star party at Music Stars and Masters in Westwood where Benjamin channeled Billy Joel and Calliope dressed up as an 80s fashion victim.

So you can see that a lot of pretty major things have happened, any one of which I could have devoted a blog post to. But it's not the big things that made me want to get off my butt and start writing. It's the little things.

Like the fact that Benjamin still doesn't understand a critical aspect of playing hide-and-seek.

Or my constant wonder at the size of my daughter's appetite...

...and temper. Lawd have mercy!

It's Benjamin's recent strange new creation, a creature he calls a "humpdacat."

And speaking of strange, it's Benjamin's cross-dressing tendencies. After he put this outfit on, he proclaimed that he was a Superman Princess. I find this endearing but distressing. Any child of mine should know that that cape doesn't go with that tutu!

So yes, it's the little things that want to share with you. Which brings me back to the first image in this post:

This is Calliope using a Nosefrida Snotsucker. On herself. The Nosefrida is a nasal aspirator for babies and children. The pointy end of the plastic receptacle goes in the nostril, the end of the tube goes in your mouth, you suck, and a little blue filter prevents you from gagging on your beloved's boogers. Yum! Last week, Calliope was sitting on her potty and somehow got her hands on this Nosefrida. I thought it was pretty funny that she was using it on herself, so I took a pic. A moment later, I heard the sound of bubbles blowing. I stopped and saw that she'd put the nostril end of the gadget into her potty and was blowing bubbles into her pee. WARNING: If you think that's gross, stop reading now. Ok, ready? The next thing I heard was silence, which I correctly assumed meant that she was now sucking her pee UP. EEK! I shrieked, grabbed it out of her hands, and took it apart to be cleaned. I was pleasantly surprised to find that none of her pee had made it past the filter into the tube. I guess that thing really does work!

You'd think that I'd be more excited to share stories of our world travels or my son's first bike ride than stories of my daughter sucking pee up with a nasal aspirator. But in a way, I'm not. I have a hunch that, more than these big trips, it'll be these little things which I'll remember and treasure in the years to come. You see, people take trips all the time. Everyone eventually gets potty trained (I think) and learns how to ride a bike (except for my mom who rides an adult-sized tricycle). And everyone has birthday parties. But humpdacats, Superman Princesses and unfortunate Nosefrida-pee incidents? Those are special, because those are the stories that make my babies all mine.