Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zoo Day!

We went to the zoo today--The boys, my niece Francie and I. We were supposed to go a couple other times, but one day it looked like rain, the other, Johnny had football camp. I said, "Watch--the day we go, it will be the hottest day of the year."

Saving the zoo for the hottest day is kind of a tradition. As the temp crept toward the triple digits at around 1:30 p.m., I turned to Johnny and said, "You have to go to the zoo on the hottest day of the year, or else you lose your edge, and once you lose your edge, it's gone forever."

"Yeah," he said, laughing. "Wait, what does that mean?"

"Your competitive edge," I said. "When you lose it, it's gone."

"Yeah," he said, clearly thinking I had lost something.

Hot days are actually a great time to go to the zoo. I remember it used to mean the animals were off hiding in the shade, but now it seems like the shade is close to the viewing area. Lions were laying right up against the glass, and chimpanzees were grooming each other right by where we could sit.

On the information sign, it said chimpanzees have five or so behaviors, such as teaching the young how to hunt for termites, but the only thing I've ever seen them do is groom each other. A mother's work is never done. As soon as she's finished biting bugs off the baby's bottom, and moves onto the rest of the body, it's time to remove more bugs from the bottom.

I'm so glad humans had the common sense to lose our body fur. Seriously, removing bugs from my children only takes about .00000001 percent of my overall time, and only when we've been to a farm. Which gives me the free time to do important things like write a mommy blog.

I love taking J.J. and my niece to the zoo.

J.J.: "What's your name, seal? Seal, seal, what's your name?"

(He was talking to a sea lion. It must be frustrating to hear visitors talk when you're a zookeeper. They're probably like, FYI, the animal kingdom is not limited to monkeys, seals, and babies of bigger animals you're more familiar with. For the last time, servals aren't baby cheetahs! Learn the names, people, learn the names.)

Johnny: The seal can't talk, J.J.

J.J.: Oh.

Later, Francie: Hi, elephant. Elephant! Hi.

J.J.: The elephant can't talk, Francie.

Francie: Bye, elephant.

Francie said hi to all the animals. (Just because they can't talk, doesn't mean you can't talk to them!)When we came to the rhinoceros, she said, "Hi, dinosaur."

J.J. said, "That's not a dinosaur, it's a wino."

The best was when she came to the gorilla. She said, "Hi, granddad!"

It was like a scene from Inherit the Wind.

We were all laughing about that when the gorilla ran up and pounded on the window.

I was like, "Oh, no, he thought we were laughing at him."

I would never laugh at a gorilla! Chimps, yes. They just make the funniest faces at each other, and you're like, "What does that mean?" You soon find out they were asking if they could groom each other. What a surprise!

It was almost too hot to walk to the exit, but we made it. There, we saw that the sea lion show was going on. The sea lion hugged the zoo keeper, jumped through hoops, dove from great heights, and even played Frisbee. J.J. kept laughing and looking at me. I know what he was thinking, "Are you sure seals don't talk? Because it looks like this guy can do anything he puts his mind to!"

J.J. was right. That sea lion certainly hadn't lost his competitive edge! Which is why he has his own pool, front and center of the zoo.

All the kids agreed they were the sea lion. (Don't you love how kids always say who they are? And it's always the best one. I was at Karate Kid, and during the final Kung Fu tournament, the kid next to me nudged me, and pointed to Dre. "I'm him. Not that one. That one," he said.

I thought, "Yeah, obviously you're not going to be the mean kid who's about ready to get his butt kicked and dishonor his family.")

Anyway, they were all the sea lion because he got the most attention, the most fish, and the pool.

On the way home, I said, "What a great day to go to the zoo."

"Yeah," Richie said. "And it would have been a great day to go to the pool, too."

Good thing we're all sea lions. We don't have to choose!

Monday, July 05, 2010

I Love This Pool

At the city pool again. This time, with waterguns. I'd like to take a moment to describe our city pool, or mi amour, as I sometimes call it when I'm being French. Is that French? I think that's French.

The cheapest city pool around (Our Pool) happens to be in the toniest city in Johnson County, aside from Mission Hills, which I'm pretty sure only has a country club. For obvious reasons (they don't make their Shirley Temples right,) Justin and I opted not to join "the club." So we go to this awesome city pool in this awesome city in Kansas. Sometimes, when all the lawn chairs are taken, I lay in the grass and pretend I actually live in this city. And the lifeguards are like, "Oh what in the ever living hell are the mothers smoking now?"

I'm smoking the air in your city, lifeguards. Because I love it that much.

Well, this year, one of our lifeguards has a tattoo. I was like, "When the lifeguards in Toni Town start getting tattoos, I start buying stock in tattoos."

Okay: so, the waterguns. They're a gray area at our pool. They're not "outlawed," but they're frowned upon. Usually, kids with waterguns get kicked out of the shallow pool and into the big pool, where the lifeguards defy them to tread water while operating a modern watergun. (Have you seen these things? Pretty awesome. But requiring two hands.)

Today was overcast and cool, so the shallow pool was pretty empty. Richie came into the pool with his watergun. He started shooting at this kid who--for reasons I couldn't understand at the time, let Richie shoot him. I was like, "Are you crazy, kid?" I mean, a kid might join a watergun fight without a watergun, but it's either with the intention of engaging in hand-to-hand combat (splashing) or tricking the other kid out of his gun. Richie actually handed this kid the gun and he handed it back.

Nearby, Richie saw a gentleman who looked to be in his 80s with a tattoo of...I couldn't see what...on his bicep. The only tattoos I take seriously are a. on people 70 or over and b. on the bicep. These people got tattoos when they actually meant something. Nowadays, everybody has a tattoo. Therefore, no one does.

So Richie shoots this guy in the chest.

The guy gets a funny glint in his eye. Is he going to tell him to get some manners? Is he going to make a joke?

I said, "Richie! Don't shoot grownups or babies!"

Meanwhile, the guy disappears. He comes back with one of those big waterguns that's made of foam. He starts spraying Richie. I mean full combat. He's sneaking behind mothers in tankinis and coming out full barrel. (At one point he had two waterguns that he was shooting at the same time.) Richie loved it. He was like, "He's got waterguns now, mom. That means he's no longer a grownup."

I looked at the tatoo again: a cannon, I think. I was like, "Of course. Only Richie would pick a watergun fight with a sailor."

Then the guy's granddaughter started attacking. She was shooting water straight into Richie's ear. The guy turned to me and said, happily, "She usually doesn't like watergun fights!"

So that's what he was thinking when he got that glint in his eye: "I'm going to go get my granddaughter's watergun. Yes!"

A little while later, the guy took his grandson over to the big pool, and Johnny and Richie continued the fight with the kid who I had thought was crazy. (Have you noticed that--to avoid getting shot with a watergun--kids go underwater? Interesting.) Well, as it turned out, every time the kid picked up the watergun, his mom went ballistic. She marched over from her lawnchair and sat him in time out. Johnny thought that she thought her son would wander off with the watergun and not be able to find us when it was time to leave. I think maybe she didn't let her kids play with toy guns. Which is great--I get that. But it made me feel bad for thinking her kid was crazy.

Anyway, a little later, I was trying to teach Johnny how to swim. (I mean, he knows how to swim, but he weaves his legs back and forth like an alligator in distress.) The same guy comes over and starts giving him pointers. He was wearing a Navy baseball cap. (I guess my Nancy Drew sleuthing skills are sharp as ever.) He said he was a Navy instructor, which touched my heart because my grandpa was an Air Force instructor. This guy had prequalified Navy Seals.

"Did you notice that he was an awesome watergun fighter, Richie?" I later asked.

"Yeah!" Richie said enthusiastically.

"Well, that's why."

Not that people shoot each other with waterguns in the Navy, but you know what I mean.

See, I love our city pool.

Freedom Fest

The Fourth of July isn't the same without traveling to Boston, which is what we usually do, for a giant tent party with family and friends. This year, we're going to Boston later in the summer.

Meanwhile, here in Kansas City, the boys paid tribute to the Americans who have built our country brick by brick...by rebuilding our patio brick by brick. This is Justin's declaration of independence from weeds. He's using a special kind of sand guaranteed to prevent weeds until we sell out house. I don't know how the weeds know when we are going to sell our house...because I sure don't. But apparently it is going to happen at some point.

Justin also declared independence from mowing the grass...by teaching Johnny how to operate the lawn mower. I almost cried when I looked out the window and saw my oldest wearing a football t-shirt with the sleeves cut out and pushing a lawn mower. When he came inside, he was beaming. "It wasn't at all like I thought it would be, mom," he said dreamily. Did Justin pull a Tom Sawyer on him or what?

That night, we were going to see fireworks at something called the Star Spangled Spectacular (Question: How do Independence Day events manage to make the tenets and symbols of our great nation sound dorky as hell: Freedom Fest, Star Spangled Spectacular, Red White and Boom. Come on. How about: F.U. England. We're Doing Our Own Thing Now. That's just one of many festivals I'm considering getting started.)

Unfortuantely, it rained, so we didn't go to the fireworks. Instead, I regaled the children by reading the Declaration of Independence, which the newspaper had printed. (Newspaper=freedom from ignorance. I still believe that, even though they are going through hard times.) I only read the first paragraph to Richie and J.J. I figured that was all they could handle--well, J.J. anyway.

Earlier in the evening, J.J.'s Nana explained to him that it was America's birthday. He was like, "It's your birthday?" Um, J.J., is your Nana's name America? Jeez. Talk about needing freedom from ignorance.

I made Johnny read the whole thing, which he absolutely loved. Some moms buy their kids bottle rockets. I say, set your mind on fire, son, not your head. (The lawn mower makes me nervous enough.)

Today, Justin got rained out from work, so they are back to laying bricks. Which the boys actually do like. Justin is a fun boss. He even let the boys bid out the job. He is big on teaching them to bid out jobs. Johnny got a job in the fall raking our neighbor's yard--$20 front and back. Well, the leaves fell faster than he could rake, and soon, he had twice the work. I went over to help him, wanting the lesson to be, "Hard work pays off."

Justin said, "I'm too old to rake people's leaves. Johnny needs to learn to bid higher." For him, the lesson was, "Charge a realistic price." In the end, our nice neighbor saw that the job was bigger than Johnny had thought and paid him $20 for the front yard. He did the backyard by himself. I don't know what the lesson was. Maybe: It's nice to have nice neighbors.

Anyway, while they're outside, I'm going to write a book about crocodiles and alligators. So, goodbye now. Or should I say, See 'ya later alligator.