Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm going to have to rename this blog "Eew! Gross! in Booland."

Because apparently the only events of note in my life lately are poop- or digestive- related.

Viz. to wit.: (I don't actually know what that means. But I think I'm using it here correctly.)

Renaissance Woman went away with some friends for the weekend, and Mermaid Girl and I babysat for 2-year-old Little Latke for four hours yesterday. This child, you might recall, was born to my friends at something like 25 weeks gestation, and had us all very scared. Well, hah! The joke was on us. She has gone on to be the easiest, most placid kid in the entire universe. She didn't even cry when her mom dropped her off; just turned to MG and me as if to say, "Well, okay now! Let's do something fun! Because everything is fun when you're me!"

She toddled merrily around the living room but made no attempts to get into any of the sharp or dangerous objects scattered about our no-longer-babyproofed house. She played willingly with whatever we dumped in front of her: rhythm instruments, blocks, train tracks (which she put together rather skillfully). But when MG started grabbing things and insisting that she needed ALL of the (trains, blocks, instruments, etc.) to do whatever project she suddenly decided needed doing, Latke just basically shrugged, smiled, and turned away to play with whatever tiny scrap of rag MG allotted to her. It was this bizarro playtime cage-match: The World's Most Territorial 6-year-old Meets The Only Non-Territorial Toddler Ever In Existence!

Whatever MG lacked in hostessy graciousness, however, she made up for in helpfulness in one crucial area. See, I was (and am) still sick, and can't smell anything. ANYTHING. And Little Latke, smiley and accomodating as she was, is not that verbal yet (beyond an ingratiating "crackoo pease!" at snacktime). And certainly not up to informing us of crucial bodily functions. And she was wearing a one-piece outfit that didn't allow for easy peeking.

Those of you who have had be-diapered kids around lately will see where this is going.

MG performed her job with courage and aplomb as I hoisted Little Latke to her feet. And all I had to do was look at her to know that Latke was due for a change.

I would give a lot of money for a photo of MG's face at that moment. It turns out that there's nothing quite like the expression of thrilled disgusted ecstatic horror on the visage of a 6-year-old who has just smelled the poop! of a baby! in diapers! Because her mom BEGGED her to!

In any case, I don't think we'll have much whining for a baby sibling in the future. Not that we've had any lately. But I think yesterday sealed the deal.

P.S. It's Moron Monday! Go tell Rachel (and the world) something dumb you did lately. Because I can't be the only one...can I?

Friday, January 26, 2007

O, Bitter Irony

For two weeks, I had stomach flu. Not the horrible gut-wrenching over-in-two-days kind but the slow torture kind that had me confined to a diet of plain crackers, plain chicken, plain noodle soup, and ginger ale for two weeks. TWO WEEKS, people. And I am a girl who likes food. In a simple, uncomplicated, not-confusing-it-with-love-but-just- enjoying-it-for-its-own-sake way. I like how it tastes. I like cooking it. I like the over-the-top descriptions of it on restaurant menus. I like sitting around convivially eating it with other people. I like different colors on my plate. For me, food is one of the rare few unalloyed (well, except for the waistband thing) joys of life.

And for two weeks much of that joy was denied to me. Every once in a while I'd go wild and have some applesauce for the vitamins. But venturing farther afield than that, I quickly learned, was courting disaster.

Then, finally, blessedly, the flu subsided. This week, for the first time, I ate a normal variety of food and felt fine. And it tasted GREAT.

That lasted a couple of days. Then I got a nasty head cold, complete with scratchy sore throat and completely stuffed nose.

Now I can eat whatever I want. But I can't taste it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dog Poop: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts

Not for the weak of stomach. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Act I

Scene: Twinkie the van.

elswhere and Mermaid Girl have just driven from the Groovy Shul to the Fish & Chips place for lunch.

elswhere: I smell dog poop. Do you smell dog poop?

MG: *sniff sniff* No.

elswhere: *pulling into Fish & Chips parking lot* Argh, it is dog poop! It's on my shoe! Yuck! Igh!

MG: Eew!

elswhere pulls shoe off and cleans it with the aid of paper towels, Twinkie's running-water sink, and a wooden chopstick that happens to be handy, then stuffs towels and chopstick in the garbage.

MG: *helpfully* There's dog poop on the floor, too.

elswhere: Oh, no! Yick! Don't move! Stay in your seat! *scrubs van floor with water, dish soap, and paper towels, while MG watches from her booster seat in horrified fascination, occasionally making supportive comments like "I'm glad I didn't step in it!" and "Don't blame me! It's not my fault!"*

elswhere: Okay, it's all gone now. Let's go! Let's wash our hands!


Act II: Chez Booland, a couple of hours later. MG has been playing with her growing hoard of Pet Shops in her room. In the adjoining bedroom, elswhere is sitting on the edge of the Big Bed, surfing blogs.

MG, on her way to the living room: *pointing at elswhere's right knee* Mommy? There's dog poop on your jeans, too.

elswhere: *in deep denial about now-dry but unmistabably brown stuff on knee*: No, that? That's just dirt.

MG: No, I think it's dog poop.

elswhere: Oh my God, you're right! I must have knelt in it while I was cleaning it up before! Yick! Eew! (etc.)

elswhere, uttering further exclamations of disgust all the while, rips off jeans and tosses in laundry hamper, (which incidentally will be run in the next few hours,) making mental note to put in hot-water wash.

elswhere: Thanks for telling me. Blech.

MG: *in an uncanny imitation of the patronizing amazed tone we use with her when she does something vaguely impressive* I can't believe you got it all the way up to your knees!

elswhere: Um, well, I guess I just have a talent.

MG: Yeah. For dog poop!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The faces don't change

I love jo(e)'s blog dearly. Like a lot of people, I think, sometimes I envy the continuity in her life: she lives in the same town she grew up in, right near her parents, who grew up there too. She runs into friends in the supermarket who she knew in elementary school. I don't mean to romanticize too much--I know small towns aren't necessarily ideal for everyone (and not really for me)--but there's a depth of community there that you can't just parachute into.

I tend to forget that there's community in our lives here, too, even if we live more typical peripatetic North American existences. Three incidents today--two of them really minor, almost too trivial to blog about--reminded me of that:

MG's been obsessed with these Littlest PetShop toys lately. The best way I can describe them is that they're like Bratz dolls, only they're cheap little plastic animals with bobbing heads. I can just picture the glee of the Hasbro employee who came up with this stroke of marketing genius, figuring that kids will glom onto the cuteness, the weird edgy hipness of the oversized heads and long eyelashes, and parents will thank the toy-manufacturing gods that they don't have to wrestle with the political and ethical implications of yet another creepily oversexualized girl doll.

Plus, there are dozens of different animals, and you can collect them seemingly endlessly; MG claims to know a girl who has 100. Predictably, she has taken this as a challenge and has made it her new life's goal to dedicate her allowance and chore money towards obtaining as many PetShops as possible. Since apparently every other girl in her school has the exact same goal, our local Fred Meyer's is constantly out of them.

The other day she and Renaissance Woman were in another part of town-- a northern suburb, actually--and stopped in the Fred Meyer's there for a couple of things. To MG's delight, their toy department was discovered to have an entirely different selection of PetShops, including a seahorse, which she'd never seen before.

Since that day, her mind has never been far from that seahorse. This morning (yet another snow day! our sixth!) she bounded out of bed and immediately began offering to do extra chores for money. We have a relatively elaborate system for this which I won't go into now, but suffice it to say that after she'd cleared the breakfast dishes, wiped down the table, and helped wash the bathroom sink and floor, she'd racked up enough cumulative jobs to earn a dollar, which put her over the threshhold for the cost of the PetShop plus tax.

Then we had to call Fred Meyer's right away and ask them to hold the toy. MG was actually willing to do this herself, but was first stymied by the phone tree system and then suffered an attack of shyness upon finally encountering an actual human voice, and after stammering out a fair bit of information about herself and her parents and absolutely nothing about what she wanted, handed the phone over, leaving me to try to give the bemused young woman on the other end some sense of the importance and location of this particular seahorse.

"They're called Littlest PetShops," I explained. "All the kids at Smartypants Yuppie School are crazy about them."

"Smartypants Yuppie!" she shrieked. "Ommigod, I wentto that school! Then we moved up here when I was eleven!" She couldn't get over it. She put a fair bit of effort into finding the seahorse (Eventually Renaissance Woman got on the phone to describe it) and assured us that she'd put it on hold for MG until next Friday, when she and RW will be in the neighborhood again. She even wrote MG's name right on the packaging, so it wouldn't get lost. Previous Fred Meyer's employees have lectured me rather sternly in the past that they absolutely can't hold anything for more than 24 hours, so I can only assume that the old school ties accounted for this special favor.

By then the snow had melted enough that it was safe to go out, so we headed to the nearby Fred Meyer's (the one that's perennially out of PetShops) so I could choose some new glasses.

This is always a nightmare for me, since I'm so nearsighted that I have to wear glasses practically every waking moment, and glasses are so prominent on the face that it's almost like buying a body part: I know my glasses form a big part of the first impression anyone will have of me, so buying a new pair is a huge amount of pressure. Plus, since I'm so nearsighted and don't wear contacts, I can't actually see myself or the frames very well when I'm trying them on. The whole process is a huge ordeal, during which I'm constantly convinced that I'll make the wrong choice and look like a big cross-eyed puffy-cheeked dork for the next two years.

So I always beg Renaissance Woman (and, lately, Mermaid Girl) to come help me choose the frames. RW has a better sense of my face than I do, and is good at steering me away from the big clunky rectangular frames that look so cool and hip on other people and yet always make me look like my eyes are too close together.

But I was taking so long to choose that eventually MG got restless, and they went off grocery shopping, leaving me and my 7 or 8 finalist frames in the hands of the optical shop manager. I sat down across the table from her and laid out my dilemma: I'll be interviewing for jobs in the next year, looking for work as a children's and/or teen and/or reference librarian. I want to seem cool, but not like I'm trying too hard. Competent, but not stodgy. Warm, but not boring. And I don't want anything that makes my cheeks look too fat.

She gave me a hard look. "You're a librarian? I know you from somewhere. I used to work for Humungoid Book Fairs."

"Yes, I'm..." but before I could go any further, she had it: where I worked and what kind of school. She remembered helping me set up a book fair several years ago, and as soon as she said it I remembered her, too: "Oh, you were the one who wasn't flaky! You were good! I used your design the next year, too."

Between frame tryouts we chatted about Humungoid and about my school, and she even took out some scratch paper and sketched out some suggestions for arranging the cases the book fair we'll have this spring. She was patient with my indecisiveness, and ruled out several frames right away. "I can see what'll work for you," she said. "I've been doing this for years; much longer than I did book fairs. Styles come and go, you know, but people's faces don't really change."

So there is a web of community for us here: friends and co-workers, sure, but also people like these whose lives cross and crisscross with ours over the years in the most seemingly casual of ways. It's scary to think of leaving it, as we'll be doing this year. Why not bloom where we've planted ourselves?

On the other hand, we have roots all over the world, RW and I. It's how our families are, both of them, and how we've lived our lives. Just recently I got news that someone who is related to someone I knew a long time ago, on another continent, now lives in Vancouver and is looking for contact with people who knew her relative, who died fifteen years ago and who I think she only met when she was a little girl.

For some reason, this news that this person I've never met, and, who knows, may never meet, lives in the city we're moving to makes me so happy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Good Stuff: A Literary Rant

You might have noticed that I'm something of a literary sort. I've been reading what we in the ed biz call "chapter books" for the last 23 or 24 33 and 34 [edited because I can read but apparently I can't subtract] years, and (at least until I discovered blogs and my print reading went all to hell) I read probably between 100 and 200 a year. So, allowing for rereading, it's safe to say I've read a few thousand novels in my life (roughly 3/4 kidlit or YA lit of some kind and the rest generally categorized as adult fiction), probably at least that many picture books, and maybe a couple hundred nonfiction novel-length books. Not to mention just about every issue of the New Yorker printed in the past seventeen years. I have a BA in English from a fancypants liberal arts college where intensive reading, writing, and textual analysis took the pride of place that football has at many state U's. And I read, purchase, and recommend books to kids for a living.

So you you'd think I would be able to join the fascinating and eloquent discussions over here and here by coming up with some kind of coherent literary philosophy: an opinion about what makes books great as opposed to honorable near-misses, or some ideas about the future of fiction, or about what makes a writer a writer.

But here's the thing: I can't. Not really. I mean, I could, I guess, if forced (or paid enough), but I'd really rather not. I hate articulating why I like what I like, or delineating great from near-great from trashy literature, or declaiming on what makes a novel worth reading. There's a reason I didn't go into academia. The monthly reviews I write for my librarians' group are torture for me, because really all I want to say is "I loved it," or "I hated it," or "Meh, it was okay." When pressed, I can tease out some rationale for those opinions, but mostly they feel like after-the-fact bullshit. I'm not even that crazy about book groups.

I just like to read. Yeah, yeah, it's great that reading expands our horizons, opens a window into other lives, develops empathy and imagination, pushes us to change our world views. But what I love, have always loved, about reading is that it does those things in a way that doesn't feel like WORK. I've enjoyed (and hope to continue enjoying) the work of being a beta-reader for friends' novels, partly because it pushes me to think about why something works or doesn't. And I've done my share of work-y, big-girl reading, and in many cases I've gained a lot from those experiences and those books have stayed with me in a meaningful way. But if most of my reading felt like that, I'd have done a lot less of it, and I wouldn't be a reader or a book person; I'd be doing something else for fun.

I never thought I'd be quoting Dan Savage in this context, but I think he's the one who said, in reference to sexual orientation, "your dick knows what it wants." In general, outside of work or school obligations, people don't read in a particular genre or form because it's good for them or for Literature or for The Human Imagination. People read what they like to read because that's what they like.

It would be disingenuous to claim that those likes and dislikes are totally independent of literary fashion or the greater cultural/political context: the novel, to take a well-known example, wouldn't have become the multi-century hit that it has been without widespread literacy and the rise of the middle classes, and the current popularity of TV and other licensed-character tie-ins for kids speaks to the capitalism-driven media- and marketing- saturated lives of even the youngest American children.

But basically, given enough exposure to a variety of genres and literary forms, people who like romance novels like them because they like them. People (of whatever age) who love fantasy just really click with that way of looking at the world. Folks who enjoy mainstream adult realistic literary fiction, well, some of them might pick it up because they saw it on the front page of the New York Times Book Review (and, yeah, the NYT and a few other gatekeepers have way too much power in terms of canon creation these days, and that is a problem), but they won't go on reading it for long if they fundamentally hate it.

I don't read children's books because it's my professional obligation or because I think kidlit is inherently better than other genres; I became a children's book reader because I just love that kind of literature. I could expound upon its virtues as Isaac Bashevis Singer famously did, but the truth is, if your idea of a good time is to settle into your armchair with a dense experimental tome that challenges the boundaries of linear character-driven narrative, I could rant until my keyboard falls apart and I wouldn't be able to convince or guilt you into liking From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or Understood Betsy. And vice versa.

I like what I like. You like what you like. When enough people stop wanting to read novels (for personal and/or cultural and/or market-driven reasons that I've chosen not to spend my adult life puzzling out), people will stop buying them, and stop reading them, and stop writing them, and other forms will come into ascendency. Will that be a sad day for me and other fiction readers and writers? Yes, emphatically. Will it be a loss to the world? Well, maybe; depends on what replaces it.

Will the fall of the novel signal the death of the mind, or of human imagination? Probably not. People have had imagination and (in various forms) empathy for as long as they've been people, as far as I can tell. Whether its expression is "The Song of Songs" or White Teeth or "Six Feet Under" or "Hamlet" or We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families or Five Children and It or "49 Up" or "Star Wars" or the true stories on "This American Life" or the late, great Chez Miscarriage, those qualities have been and will be expressed: in fiction, in nonfiction (which can express imagination in its own way), in whatever form--it's there, it'll be there.

Whether that expression is of high literary quality, or equal to or better than other forms of expression--well, I leave that to the academics and literary essayists. The truth is, I don't care that much. And I don't care what you call the people who produce it. I just want to have enough good stuff to read.

And by "good stuff," of course, I mean stuff that I like, more or less.

Doesn't everybody?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

O Canada, We Stand In Line For Thee*

This post is brought to you courtesy of yet another Snow/Inclement Weather Day in the Pacific Northwest. Our FIFTH this school year. Out here in the upper left-hand corner, five school-closure days in a year is pretty much unheard of. Chalk it up to global warming, I guess.

But, hey! It gives me time to post. So, go, snow days!

Here's the big news:

Yesterday The Renaissance Woman mailed our completed Spousal Sponsorship/Permanent Residency Application to Immigration Canada, and it is even now winging its way to Missagua (that can't be how it's spelled, but it's something along those lines and damned if I'm going to look it up), Ontario, where according to all reports it will sit for a year or so before the Gods of Immigration Canada see fit to communicate with us and give us a yea or nay on my fitness as a Permanent Resident of the True North Strong and Free and RW's fitness as my sponsor. That's the speeded-up version for spouses of Canadian citizens; the timeline for regular old skilled workers seems to be closer to two years.

A few dedicated readers may recall that we started the application process in July. That would be six (6) months ago.

Now, it's true we have jobs and a kid and are prone to procrastinate. But here's what we did in that time, in no particular order:

1. Downloaded the requisite forms and procedural guidebooks. Two sets: one for the immigrant (me) and one for the sponsor (RW). The Mermaid Girl didn't need to fill anything out because she's a dual citizen like RW and isn't trying to sponsor anyone, not to mention that the Canadian Immigration folks probably aren't up to reading guess-and-go spelling written in purple marker.

2. Searched out and downloaded the elusive and critical Country-Specific Requirements document (containing Appendices A through D), which was not linked to any of the others on the Immigration Canada site. I link it here as a public service.

3. Filled out the relatively straightforward sections of our respective applications. You know, the basic stuff, like our complete list of addresses and jobs going back to our 18th birthdays. This took days and days and much rummaging through old files for addressed letters and outdated resumes. Who knew, when I was 23, that I would forget the apartment number of my place in Brooklyn? Or the philosophical/legal dilemma invoked by the question: "What does it really mean to live somewhere? Does college count? How about that summer internship? Where did I live then, anyways? And why don't I remember? And do I have ANY BRAIN CELLS LEFT at all?"

4. Composed--separately, and in different formats to meet the requirements of our respective applications--a narrative of our relationship from its earliest days to the present, which involved reconstructing and agreeing upon such important data as the place and date of our proposal of marriage ("You asked me. It was that time we were sick and didn't go to Portland and spent the whole weekend in bed with fevers and runny noses." "No, you asked me, and it was at that restaurant in Vancouver, in...July sometime." "July? When in July?" "Crap, I don't know. Let's pick a weekend.") and ruminating upon the previously unexamined question: "Did you have an engagement party? And if not, why not?" (to which I could only answer, "It honestly didn't occur to us." I dunno-- did any of you have engagement parties?)

5. Supported said narrative with a small (7 or 8 page) selection of photos ranging from our earliest kissing-in-the-photo-booth days up through the picture of the three of us from dinner with RW's dad last month, MG sticking out her tongue in convincing 6-year-old fashion.

6. Offered further proof of our relationship status in the form of a sheaf of documents including our Canadian marriage license, our mutual wills, our commitment ceremony programme, our old Seattle Domestic Partnership paper, the receipt from the hotel where we spent our honeymoon (after our first, non-legal wedding), the titles to our jointly-owned cars, and much, much more.

7. Gathered letters of support and reference from seven or eight friends and relations, attesting to the longevity and authenticity of our relationship and to the improbability of RW landing us on welfare in the next few years. (And I need to just say, especially since several of the letter-writers read this blog, that reading those letters was one of the more gratifying parts of the process and in several cases brought us to near-tears.)

8. I got my fingerprints taken and sent them off to the FBI so they could send proof of a clear criminal history on the Federal level. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process in terms of waiting time (as opposed to people-hours of work time): fourteen weeks from the day I sent the fingerprints in to the day I got the document from them.

9. Got my fingerprints taken again to send to Washington State so they could clear me on the state level (this one only took two weeks).

10. I got a special four-hundred-dollar medical exam, complete with AIDS and TB tests, from one of the two doctors in Washington State okayed by the Canadians to perform it.
The document proving I'd had that exam is by far the most expensive piece of paper in our dossier; I'm even now petrified it'll get lost in the mail somewhere.

11. Gathered various proofs of citizenship and status, including both our birth certificates, MG's second-parent adoption papers, and copies of our passports.

12. RW also had the special joy of assembling various financial documents attesting to her income in the past year (a year during which she's had three different jobs).

13. And the extra-special joy of tracking down her own Canadian citizenship history, which is not completely straightforward as she was brought there as a child and so does not know, nor do her parents, the super-important landing number she was given upon immigrating there almost forty years ago.

14. We assembled the whole thing in an accordion folder, and then I photocopied it, painstakingly, removing and replacing the sticky-notes scattered about where we had questions or had to sign.

15. RW took it to an Immigration Consultant in Vancouver, who was supposed to look it over, only her mother got sick and I think maybe she only looked over the first part before sending it back to us. She seemed a little hazy on the details when RW got back to her later.

16. Finally, RW had the super extra special joy of working out exactly how and how much we were supposed to pay our application fee (online? Or is that only if you're applying within Canada? Different sites, conflicting instructions) and where to send the whole sheaf (Missassagua? Buffalo? Missassagua and Buffalo? Again, different sites, different instructions...)

17. Oh, wait, I forgot getting my picture taken! 4 US-standard passport photos (for the medical exam), and four Canadian immigration photos, which are a completely different size and have different requirements, and I could write a whole post about how I dragged MG to three different photo/copy shop places trying to get them, and each time they took my picture and made us wait ten minutes or so before admitting they didn't have the special photo paper or couldn't make 4 identical copies or whatever, and finally one guy said he didn't have the special Canadian cutting machines and couldn't do it but I think I must've looked like I was about to leap over the counter and sink my fangs into his neck because he quickly said he could cut it to Canadian dimensions by hand. And that's how I got my photos.

But I think that's it.

And now it's done.

We celebrated with a small dance party in the kitchen, featuring music by Canadians such as k.d. lang, Danielle Martineau, the Barenaked Ladies, the Arrogant Worms, and the Wailing Jennies. Oh, and They Might Be Giants, even though they're Merkins like me, because MG insisted.

Now, we just wait.

*Post title courtesy of Renaissance Woman, who taught me the parody of the Canadian National Anthem that she'd learned as a child. Apparently it was the winner of a contest held by the Globe and Mail just after "O Canada" was officially adopted (the anthem before that, of course, had been "God Save the Queen"). I was going to link to it here, but apparently no one on the entire Internet (except me, in a comment on Rachel's blog a few months ago), has ever posted the lyrics. So here they are, as another public service:

Air Canada
Across our Native Land
Through Rain and Sleet we Dash
At Your Command
My bags have gone to Ecuador
Or possibly Dundeeeee
Yet I remain, Air Canada,
To stand in line for theeeee
[dum, da dum dum dum dum]
Air Canada, Beloved monopoly
Air Canada, we stand in line for theee [2X]

If I ever have to sing the real anthem to an official to prove my Canadianicity, I'm sunk. This is the only version I know.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Let that be my first blogged word of 2007: Phooey! Because my computer just froze up and I lost my post, the one I spent over an hour writing, a beautiful (if I do say so myself), lovingly detailed post about the week Mermaid Girl and I just spent in New York, with special attention lavished on our evening out on the town during which MG haggled with some pedicab drivers and got us a ride from Rockefeller Center to Times Square for $6, which was the best $6 I ever spent (actually I didn't spend it, she did), and the most harrowing, thrilling ride I've ever been on.

Afterwards I forgot how terrified I was that we'd be in a terrible car accident (what with the bumping over potholes and swerving in and out of lanes and through red lights etc.) and told MG that night around midnight when we were finally tucked in to bed that it was my favorite part of the day, and she was surprised because for most of the evening I'd maintained firmly that we were ABSOLUTELY NOT going on a bicycle cab ride, not when I'd just taken her out for tea at Alice's Tea Cup and for a carriage ride through Central Park and then down to Rockefeller Center to look at the tree and the skaters and then let her buy a whirly light-up thing and wave it around among the crowds.

But I'd forgotten all about that, that it was something she'd whined and nagged for and we only had that whirlwind ride through the middle of the city with the wind in our hair and cars and bright lights flashing all around us because I finally caved and said okay, okay, if she could find someone to take us for the money she had, we could do it.

All I remembered was the ride, and the way MG's eyes lit up as she took it all in, the lights reflected on her face.

If only all my parenting goofs turn out that well, we'll have a pretty good year this year.