Friday, August 31, 2007

Urgent and Alarming Arachnid Update

Umm, have you all seen this? Is it giving anybody else the shivers? My favorite quotes: "Millions of mosquitoes can be heard screeching..." and " '...we really won't know what species of spider we're talking about.' "

And why is it that, afraid as I am of them, I can't help but click on any news link that has the word "spider" in it somewhere?

ADHD, or Spoiled 5-Year-Old? We Report, You Decide

Enough time has passed that I feel okay talking about my little darling's problems adjusting to kindergarten. Being a teacher, having a note and call home about Ainsley's behavior before it's even September hits me where I live. It has been a jagged little pill, indeed.

Ainsley hasn't been "bad." She just hasn't been completing her seatwork, and she's having a really slow go of falling into the day's routine. The teacher is having to remind her repeatedly to put her name on her papers, to put her folder in her backpack at the end of the day, and to line up for recess. She is getting very distracted during her seat work and is leaving most of her little papers and exercises unfinished. She's not getting distracted by other kids and being a social butterfly; her teacher said she gets wrapped up in, "Wow! Look how sharp the point on my pencil is!" and "This eraser feels really neat!" She's being kinda dreamy and unmotivated, but the only time she's disruptive is during the one-hour quiet/nap time when she just can't seem to sit or lie still.

I was completely with the teacher during most of our talk. We have had a terrible time this summer with getting Ainsley to listen to and pay attention to us. This is a pretty new development; she has always been a little slow finishing coloring pages and basic chores, but this summer we've really struggled with having to tell her a dozen time to get her shoes on, wash her hands for dinner, etc. She has seemed very un-focused, and it has been making me nuts.

But I almost dropped the phone when the teacher said she suspects ADHD. This was after her telling me how hard it had been for Ainsley to be still during nap time. I actually said to the woman, "Are you sure we're talking about Ainsley?" My kid? ADHD? Really?

This is a kid I can schlep almost anywhere and expect good behavior. I have taken her to long weddings outside in 80-degree heat, to sit-down restaurants, school meetings, and recently, to Catholic mass. She has been known to sit in the floor and work jigsaw puzzles for hours. When it's just the two of us at home, I can bring a few toys back to our bedroom and grab a shower and get pretty without worrying about her running loose and getting antsy. She can sit still in a story time both at school and at the library, and she can spend an entire hour listening to her books-on-CD collection. This is a child we took to the musical Lion King, to a movie, and on a 14-hour drive to Florida this year. It's a kid who only got in trouble once in preschool, and that was for a defiant 3-day nap protest that the teacher told me was a common thing for 4-year-olds, anyway. She is my shy, relatively quiet kid. And her teacher is already thinking ADHD?

I know the teacher doesn't see her at home, and we don't see her at school, and I trust that what the teacher is telling me is going on is going on. I just can't help but think there are other factors at work here. I think we as parents are guilty of doing too much for Ainsley and not letting her be more independent. We let her get away with not listening to us this summer. We have spoiled her in some ways. And we haven't been doing her any favors with this.

After telling the teacher how we didn't see these behaviors in preschool, and that the fidgety-ness and inability to be still is not something we see at home, we've decided to try some other things before we jump on the ADHD bandwagon. First of all, we're trying getting her in bed a little earlier; she's been falling asleep in the car on the way home every day, and the teacher said the fidgets are sometimes a sign of a sleepy kid. Hubby and I also had a long talk with her about her behavior. Ainsley is eager to please, and hearing from us that she is not meeting her teacher's expectations has already made a big difference (she got a smiley in her folder yesterday for improving her work.) And then there's the fact that she just turned 5, and is an only child with no older brothers or sisters to learn from. Even though she has been in daycare and gone to preschool, this is a huge step. Preschool was happy fun time and seat work intermingled with play and there were no real deadlines. Full-day kindergarten is a big transition, and one that perhaps she wasn't ready for developmentally.

On a positive, the teacher has told me Ainsley is bright and really wants to be in school. Other kids come in to class grumpy in the morning, but Ainsley is smiling and laughing and happy to be there. She knows her letters and numbers and understands the work. The teacher said it's because of that that she wanted to call and see if we could get Ains on track with her behavior and habits. I am glad she is pursuing this, even if it did feel like a slap in the face at first.

I know there are a lot of faces of ADHD, and you don't have to be hyper to have it. If things don't improve, I will pursue whatever avenues her school thinks is best. I don't want to be one of those parents who thinks, "Oh, no, my kid's perfect, and there's absolutely nothing you can say that will convince me otherwise." On the other hand, I don't want my kid to be labeled as something she's not, or heaven forbid, be medicated for something we can fix with better discipline and rules. At this point, I don't know how much of what we're seeing is a stage of Ainsley's personality and how much is a possible disconnect in her synapses. I don't know how much is possible ADHD, and how much is being 5-year-old.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Ask Me On a Straight Tequila Weekend

Cranky's not having a good week, kids. Three after-school meetings, a note home and phone call home from a teacher about Ainsley's work habits (that one's a story for a separate blog), and then comes tonight's little turd on top of the poo-poo sundae that has been my week: a water main broke in our little corner of the world and our water is brown. Actually, it has progressed in the past hour from "water with a pinch of dirt" to something that can only be described as, and pardon my language, shit water. And I didn't realize we had this little problem until after I took my post-workout shower. I guess the river of mud flowing into the drain should have alerted me, but I didn't have my contacts in, so I just thought it was a really interesting shadow.

If I can't drink our water tomorrow, I won't despair. It is a long weekend, and with the week I've had, I am sure I can find something in the fridge or pantry that will suffice.

So if you don't hear from me for a while, or if I post a blog this weekend that makes less sense than usual, you'll know it's just the tequila talking.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My One and Only

One of my sisters-in-law just announced that she is pregnant. This brings the tally of pregnant women in Jason's family to 3; both of his sisters are now expecting, and one of his brother's wives is due any day now. This soon-to-come baby will be child number 5 in that family. Which leaves our little family as the only one among married members of the clan to have an only child.

I am happy for these women and their larger families. But a part of me always shrinks a little when I hear the stork is bringing a new baby to another of the brothers or sisters; it makes me feel a little like I don't belong. Like I'm not a member of the club.

Jason is one of seven kids, and it seems as though most of his siblings want to continue the large-family tradition. I am one of just a pair, and with my sister my elder by an entire decade (I was a surprise, to say the least) I grew up essentially an only child. My sister married before I was even out of grade school and was more a second mom than a sister. I came into our marriage accustomed to solitude and having my parents' attention (and also their needs) almost to myself, while Jason was used to sharing and compromise and having other people around constantly. We made it work, and when we discussed our own family we decided we would like to have just 2, but have them be close in age so that they could grow up together and be closer than my sister and I were. I didn't sign on the dotted line or anything, but this was sort of a contract of our marriage. We even talked it over with a priest during our pre-marriage counselling. Of course we wanted two kids; aren't those the ingredients for an all-American family?

In the months following Ainsley's birth, I still planned on a younger sibling. Ainsley was a very colicky, fussy baby who didn't let me sleep until she was five months old, but I still knew I wanted to do it all over again. I even had it worked out in my head: when she got about 18 months old, we would start trying again. Hopefully, there would be no more than three years between the kids, and our eldest would be potty-trained and in a big-girl bed right before the new baby arrived. It was a solid, well-thought-out plan. Which made Fate laugh. Soon after, I got sick.

With my medical history, I have no idea whether another child is going to happen for us. My oncologist has said I should wait until I have been in remission for five years before we even think about it, and my fifth anniversary is a year away now. I have some chronic health concens that are a result of the chemo and radiation, and these are also issues that would make a second pregnancy a little scarier. Some guidelines have also changed since my diagnosis, and the 5-year remission mark is no longer the be-all, end-all "all clear" it used to be. I will need life-long monitoring and yearly scans and mammograms. Those tests can't be given if I'm even trying to conceive because of the radiation risks for the baby. I am keeping an open mind and not closing any door, but I am also being realistic. Ainsley may very well be our one and only.

Most days I am OK with this. I've made peace with it. I can even be happy with it. Ains is at an age now where she is doing a lot for herself and is easier to care for. I actually have time to exercise, watch a few TV shows, and write. We can usually find a willing sitter in the family when we want one, and more often than not that sitter offers for Ainsley to spend the night. We're starting to have fun planning family vacations now that she's old enough to sit in a car for more than an hour. And there are days when I am run so ragged working and taking care of our little family of three that I can't imagine how people do it with 2, 3, 4, and 5 kids.

Other times it's a struggle. I feel only-child guilt. I think about how lonely our house must be for her with only two adults to play with and talk to. I think about what a help my sister has been when Dad was dying and with my mom's needs. I think about things no parent wants to think about, like something happening to Ainsley and Jason and I being left alone and childless. Finally, I feel like I am going back on a promise if I decide that even if I can bear more children, I shouldn't.

When there's another pregnancy in the family, I feel like an actor playing a silent bit part on stage who suddenly and unexpectedly has the spotlight focused right on him. I can almost hear the whispers, wondering when it will be my turn to walk again in the baby parade. Sometimes a pregnancy in the family will make someone come right out and ask when we're having another one. I've been healthy for so long now I think even those I'm close to forget that 4 1/2 years ago I was getting pumped with horrible drugs and enough radiation to practically make me glow in the dark. It's easy to assume that our only is an only because we had a choice in the matter.

What I have to keep coming back to is this: I am extremely fortunate to have been able to carry a child at all. I shudder when I think about how I had cancer when I was pregnant with her, but didn't know it. I realize the hand of God was at work; what if we had waited another month or two to try to get pregnant? What if the cancer had been discovered early in my pregnancy and I had been urged to terminate it so I could begin treatment? My only child is a gift. Regardless of whether or not Ains is indeed my one and only, I am as blessed as the mother of a dozen kids. I have the daughter I always wanted; who am I to ask for anything more?

Goin' Home to Glory

We are now the proud owners of a Black Moor goldfish named Glory. Praise Jesus. Hallelujah. And also with you.

Ainsley got an aquarium for her birthday (not from us; from someone who will never have to clean it) and after one week of cycling the water, testing the pH and ammonia, and earning Associate's degrees in goldfish care and management, we felt we were ready. We took the plunge Friday, and we let Ainsley name the fish entirely on her own. As it happens, she learned a little song to go with the "Glory Be" prayer this week in school, so she was inspired to give fishy a religious name. Ahh, Catholic education.

So far, so good. Glory is still alive. (Amen, sister!) And she/he is fun to watch. We have a talent for getting stupid pets, though, and Glory is no exception. She is pretty oblivious to the whole feeding thing. I thought the first time we threw some flakes her way, she'd do the typical aquarium fish feeding frenzy. She didn't even seem to notice that we had lifted the lid. I caught myself calling her name and making kissy noises like I used to do with Scout, but it didn't quite have the same effect with a fish. Glory just watched, doing that cute little fish-mouth thing, as flakes drifted right down in front of her nose (do fish have noses?). She eventually found the flakes on the pebbles and now spends her entire day looking among the pebbles for something to eat. At least her stupidity entertains her.

I was shocked to learn that with good care a goldfish can live a dozen or more years (!) and that if we don't kill her off, she will need a larger tank when she reaches full growth. I had no idea we were in for such a commitment.

I am already attached to the dumb little thing, so I've been worrying and fussing over her ammonia levels and her roughage intake. Hubby has been doing the necessary water changes to keep everything healthy. And Ainsley says Glory is her best friend (I can't wait until she tells that to a stranger.)

So every day, I can say I'm going home to Glory, and it will be the truth. I'm testifyin'! As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world with out end, amen!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

No Rain

I'm 20 years old. It's a breezy, mild September evening that hints at the cool autumn ahead. I am walking from my college dorm room to the fraternity "quad" to attend arguably the best fraternity party of the year, the annual Phi Tau Air Guitar competition which takes place outside on a makeshift stage. There are banners made out of old bedsheets waving in the wind as I cross the quad to my boyfriend's fraternity house to watch the acts. All around me, young men and women carry plastic cups concealing illicitly gotten beer and cheap bourbon mixed with store-brand cola. I am proudly wearing a Phi Tau sweatshirt, bestowed upon me by the guy I will later marry. I am young, and I have no responsibilities other than to work hard at school. Blind Melon's "No Rain" is blasting from the stereo speakers.

Actually, I am a 33-year-old mom driving in my car. It's a Sunday afternoon, and I've just finished running errands to get ready for the work week ahead. "No Rain" has just come on the radio for the second time this weekend, and just like the first time, I have gone to my happy place. Every time I hear the opening "Dir rir riiiiir," I flash back to mid-90s college bliss. In particular, I go back to that September night, to that one party, when that song was my siren call to blow off steam from a week of studying and generally being a good girl.

I can't help but crank up the volume. This song, more than any other 90s alt-rock tune, propels me into a simpler time when my biggest worries were turning in my papers on time and wondering whether or not my little on-campus job as an usher would pay well enough to let me order pizza once a week.

Sure, college had its stresses. I was always challenged by my coursework, and money was always tight. But my time was pretty much my own, and if I wanted adult conversation I could just knock on the door of my friends down the hall. The cafeteria food sucked, but at least I didn't have to cook every night. No one depended on me for anything. If I had to stay up until 3 in the morning finishing an assignement, I knew I could crawl back into bed for a nap after class. I did what I needed, but also what I wanted. Life was pretty fabulous.

Not that it's not fabulous now, in its own hectic way. But, oh, how I miss cool September nights spent outside, unoriginal beverage container in hand, moving to "No Rain."

We've all got a song that takes us back (there's even a country song about songs that take you back.) What's your happy place song? Where does it take you?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Become an M and M!

Check me out as an M&M! Quite charming, no?

If you need a little lunch-hour diversion today, go to the M&Ms website and go to "Become an M&M." You can customize your own chocolately character. You can make it look like you, or be completely imaginary. They don't have quite as many facial-features options as a Wii does, so your M&M won't quite be your exact replica (as many Miis I have seen are.) But you can get pretty close. Those of you that know me will see quite a resemblance to my M&M (who I have nicknamed Madame Marmoset of the Mountain; the M&Ms website asks you to give each character a name from their extensive drop-down menu of first-and-last name choices.)

And no, that's not really my house! Oh that it were.

Try not to melt out there today, plains and peanuts. And if you create yourself as a candy-covered confection, do pass your portrait along.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Please Keep Your Phlegm to Yourself

If you know me, you know I have phlegm issues. I have been known to gag for an hour at the sight of someone else's respiratory fluids. I could pick up your severed arm and hand it back to you easier than I could pick up a boogery tissue you dropped. If I had to choose, I would rather be squirted with a spray of arterial blood than have someone spit on me. You get the idea.

I was shocked yesterday at the gym when I saw an old man lean down to get a drink at the water fountain, make my favorite hocking noise, and then spit into the water fountain. Yes, he did. I would have said something if I hadn't been afraid of puking if I opened my mouth. Apparently, he still thinks he's in 1st grade.

As I was warming up, trying to get that image out of my head, and wondering what I was going to do for water while I worked out 'cause no way in hell I'm drinking from that water fountain, I found myself staring into space in the direction of the mirrors facing into the free weights. A guy staring intently at himself in the mirror while he did seated bicep curls caught my eye. He put down his weights, and I saw his index finger find a home in his nose. This wasn't just a scratching thing. He wasn't just touching the end of his nose to check for dangling crusties. He was mining. His finger was lost up to the first joint. And this went on for a while. When he was through, he wiped his finger on his shorts! If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'. I was well and thoroughly nauseated by the time I left the gym, and it wasn't because I was working out on a 101-degree day. Well, maybe partially because of that, but still.

What is up with people this week? Was my terrible movie-going experience not enough pain and suffering to meet my karmic obligations? Am I just surrounded by jackholes? Either way, I am about one booger away from going off on someone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Major Award!

Fellow teacher and blogger Shan gave me an award! For being an Inspirational Blogger! Hell, yeah.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I See London, I See France...

We got our first note home from Ainsley's teacher. An issue came up which required correction.

The note read, and I quote:

Ainsley looks so cute in her jumper! However, she is having problems sitting like a little lady in it. Until we have this problem solved, please have her wear shorts under her jumper to quell the curiosity!

After I read the note, I asked Ainsley (still in her little uniform jumper) to show me how she has been sitting at school. She grabbed a chair and proceeded to sit cross-legged in it, knees way up in the air, lime-green Hanes prominently on display.

Aww. I couldn't be more proud of little Britney Spears.

In the big scheme of things, this isn't so bad. It's correctable, and not entirely unexpected. Ainsley is a tomboy, and she's never comfortable on those rare occasions I slip her into a dress. I've never really taught her how to sit like a lady; the only time we say anything about how she's sitting is when company comes over when she's in her nightgown. I guess I just assumed the uniform would make the girl and she would automatically know to be prim and proper because the jumper's so stiff and starchy.

Because I am such a, well, freak, I've been more worried about this than I should be. I couldn't help but feel it was some sort of indictment of my mothering skills and Ainsley's kindergarten-readiness. Surely she's not the only little girl who arrives at kindergarten not skilled in the womanly art of crossing her legs at the knee. But then again...

So we've been practicing not sitting "Indian-style" (so un-PC, but old habits die hard) in our chairs. And she's in shorts today; they can wear shorts and not the jumper until October 1. Hopefully, she'll put this all behind her (har!) and move on very soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Hate People

Why do humanity's lowest common denominators hang out in movie theaters?

The last year, I've read a lot of articles blaming Hollywood's recent slump on the public's reluctance to see movies in theaters. Part of that relunctance, I've read, comes from the growing anger people with manners and sense feel toward the increasingly rude theater-goers who talk on their cell phones, provide play-by-play-commentary, and ignore their rabidly misbehaving children during movies. I had heard of these things, and been annoyed myself by some of these things during movies, but couldn't believe that it had gotten that bad. After all, as the mom of a young kid, I don't get to see very many movies in theaters any more. But after Satuday night, I completely agree. The bottom-feeders have taken over our theaters.

When the hell did it get so bad? Is there some correlation between global climate change and general assholery?

Mamaw wanted the kid to spend the night with her Saturday night, so we finally got a chance to see The Simpsons. After a long day doing the birthday-party thing with Ains, a nice night out with a funny, long-anticipated movie was just what we needed. But our movie-viewing experience was darn-near ruined.

A group of people down in front talked through almost the entire movie. Not just to each other; they talked to the characters. And made general comments on what was going on, loud enough for all of us to hear. And turned the Spider Pig scene into a sing-along. I mean, come on--we've all seen the previews, we've all heard the Spider Pig song, but that DOES NOT mean it's OK for you to turn that part into the Rocky Horror Picure Show. And it did not make Marge's serious monologue to Homer more poignant when you cried out, "Dag! That's harsh!" All it did was, you know, piss a lot of people off.

Then there were the kids. The Simpsons is a cartoon, yes, but it's not a kids' cartoon. So why were there half-a-dozen small children there? Wait, maybe the fairer question is, why were there half-a-dozen talking children there?

My parents didn't really have a sitter when I was very small, so I got taken to quite a few movies before age 5. Some of them, like Star Wars, were movies I would have even chosen to see anyway. Others, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, were way over my head. The reason they could get away with this was that I was very quiet and well-behaved and knew my job was to sit relatively still and not talk. That has always been a golden rule for me: when the lights go down, close your mouth and just watch and listen. I know not all kids can do that. Hell, apparently some adults can't do that. I was just a docile kid who enjoyed the whole experience of seeing something larger-than-life on a screen with my parents and liked that they were able to take me with them rather than leave me at the mercy of a teenaged stranger.

Here's the thing: my mom and dad did that because they could. If your kids won't sit still, and won't be quiet, and the movie is way over their heads, DON'T TAKE THEM. I know I'm shouting, but seriously. Seriously. How is that fun for you? It's not fun for the rest of the audience. I know you want to see some movies when they first come out, and get the digital surround sound thing going, and see these flicks on the 10-foot screen. But it's selfish of you to insist on that experience when you have to bring your not-quiet kids in order to do it. It shows no consideration for the rest of us, who shell out a ridiculous admission price (and still have to watch ads, by God), and wait for the stars to properly align so we can get a babysitter, and look forward to something for weeks only to not be able to hear half the dialogue, and not be able to focus on the story, and not be able to get lost from our own everyday garbage and just frickin' enjoy a movie. I don't bring my kid to adult movies because those rare movie-going excursions are a break for me. Its's 2 hours away from, Ainsley, don't touch that and Ainsley, be quiet and Ainsley, stay in your seat. Be respectful of this and don't make me want to say this to your kids during my escape time.

Sorry. I am preaching to the choir. Most of us complain about the state of manners today. So many of you, my readers and friends, tell me you don't go to movies as often anymore. Or if you do, you go to late, late movies well after opening weekends so the moron factor is diminished and the theater crowd has thinned. Is this what it's come to? Is that the solution, that those of us who know how to behave ourselves, and who give a crap about other people, have to tiptoe around the unwashed masses? Is this where we're headed, to a society where the rude have their way while the polite stand back in the shadows and shake their heads (and go whine about it in blogs that other polite people read)?

Let's take a stand. Let's take our theaters back.

Solutions are welcome below.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dave Barry Is Responsible for the Birth of My Daughter

Five years ago today I gave birth to my daughter. And it's all Dave Barry's fault.

No, no, not that way. C'mon, I've never even met the guy. Though I would very much like to. And have you seen my baby daddy? No denying the parentage there.

The part I blame Dave for is the date. Ainsley wasn't due for another 2 1/2 weeks. Had it not been for his Book of Bad Songs, I actually may have given birth on my Labor Day due date, which sooo would have satisfied my love of irony.

I've been a Dave Barry fan since we lived in Lexington and I used to read his syndicated column in the paper. Then I moved on to his books, and I've devoured every one he's written. If you've never read Dave, check out a column or his blog here. His columns make me laugh out loud. And not just like hee hee hee. Like, full-body convulsions. Jason always knows when I'm reading a Dave Barry book because I can't control myself. An ordinary night becomes a giggle-fest that usually ends with my spraying whatever I'm drinking out my nose and getting the hiccups from laughing so hard.

On my last night as a pregnant woman, we met some friends for our old Friday-night routine of drinking beer (or near-beer, in my case) and throwing darts. My librarian friend checked out a book for me that she couldn't believe I hadn't read yet: Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. While everyone else got sloshed and played cricket, I sat and read the book. And laughed. And blew O'Doul's out my nose. And got the hiccups. And gave the baby the hiccups. It was a fine evening.

Maybe not so fine for Jason. I pretty much tuned him out, and when he asked what was so funny, I couldn't even make it through a complete sentence without erupting into breathless giggles. And I took the book to bed with me, and read until he asked me to stop so that the bed would stop shaking and he could get some sleep. Poor guy was scheduled to work a rare Saturday the next day.

Needless to say, he didn't have to go in that day. I woke up at 7am, sides still sore from laughing, and made my humpteenth voyage to the bathroom. Something was different that time, though. I cursed myself, thinking I hadn't made it to the toilet in time. A little investigative work showed that my water had broken. 14 hours and an epidural later, we had Ainsley. She didn't seem ready for the world and was a colicky, angry baby from the beginning, and I am sure it's because she was jostled from the womb by her mom's laughter, triggered by Dave Barry's (and his readers') commentary about the worst pop songs of all time ("Someone left the cake out in the rain...And I don't think that I can take it, 'cause it took so long to bake it, and I'll never have the recipe again...OH NOOOOOOO!")

Yep. Still slays me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Free Wine Makes It All Better

"Would you like to try some wine?"

Yes, please!

I love it when Kroger gives away free samples. I love it more when the Kroger liquor store gives away free samples. In case you're interested, the Silverlake Kroger does a free in-store wine tasting every Thursday evening. Nothing fancy, but it was a nice surprise after a rough day. I had stopped in to get a bottle of wine for when my family comes over tomorrow night to celebrate both Ainsley's and my sister's August birthdays. My mom won't buy wine for herself, but she loooves to have a glass at our house. And let's face it; when the family comes over, you can almost tolerate everyone if you have a glass of wine or six. When I actually got to sample a couple of varieties before I bought...that's a good way to end a random Thursday night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Big Day

Tomorrow's the big day. Ainsley goes off to kindergarten.

I think we're ready. The supplies have been bought (her list called for 16 packs of 8 crayons; how in the world could they need that many crayons?), her clothes are laid out, her teacher's been met. We just have to get her up and out the door and into her classroom in the morning. With no tears (hers or mine.)

She will be riding the bus to my school tomorrow afternoon, which gives me the heebie jeebies. I have been praying that they get her on the right bus. And that we can find each other when she gets off the bus; our students will be leaving just as her bus is coming.

And that she has a lovely first day of school.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Something Fishy Is Going On With That Kid

Some kids go for the Chicken McNuggets. Others like pizza. My little weirdo? Sushi.

It 's taken me by surprise. A few months ago, I read an adorable little book called Yoko to her (by Rosemary Wells, author of the "Max and Ruby" books) and in this book, the main character gets teased by her classmates for bringing sushi to eat for lunch everyday. The teacher organizes an international food day to try to get the kids to try Yoko's sushi and foster a little multicultural understanding, but in the end, only one kid in the class tries the sushi. But it's OK; he and Yoko become good friends and share their different cultures' food. Aww. Anyway, after reading this, Ainsley went on and on about sushi so we took her to our favorite little Thai restaurant and let her try a California roll.

We didn't think she liked it. She took two bites, and said that was enough, and that was fine with us. I myself didn't think I liked sushi, but I enjoyed that California roll we got that night, and Friday night after a loooong day at school (we had an open house until 7) I was kinda thinking I might want to give it another shot.

Here's the weird thing: I had been thinking about our little Thai place's sushi the whole way home, and when I got home and we started discussing where we were going to eat, Ainsley immediately and without prompt from me piped up with, "Let's go to the sushi place!" Cue the Twilight Zone music.

We went, and hubby ordered his usual pad thai, and Ainsley ordered her popcorn chicken, and I decided a California roll would just hit the spot. Ains's chicken came out first, and she started inhaling it. But when the sushi arrived, she started pointing with her chopstick and asked for a piece.

And she ate it. An entire piece. And said, "Yummy!" And before it was all said and done, she ate two pieces and said she wanted to eat more next time we go there.

I know a California roll is a pretty Americanized version of sushi, and there's nothing offensive in it, but still. Wow. I love it that she's open to trying things, and that she has broader tastes than I had at that age. There's not much I don't like now, but as a kid I was picky. I ate the "crispies" off my mom's fried chicken but wouldn't touch the meat, ate the icing off of our family's favorite jelly dougnnuts but wouldn't eat the pastry itself, and wouldn't so much as look at pizza (weird, I know.) Sushi probably would've sent me into a gagging fit.

She can be picky, too, and sometimes gets worked up over those green things we insist on putting on her plate, so this whole sushi thing has me very impressed. I guess either Yoko had a very strong impression on her, or that Thai place's sushi is just that darn good.

If it's the first one, I need to find a children's book that makes eating salad cool...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wonder Pets Are Killing My I.Q.

OMG. Ainsley is watching Wonder Pets. It is truly the worst of all the kiddie shows. As I watch it I can feel all rational thought and reasoning slip out of my head.

For the non-moms: Wonder Pets follows a troup of school-house pets (a guinea pig, chick, and a turtle) as they rescue animals in trouble. It's not traditional animation; they use still pictures of real animals and move their heads and limbs collage-like and animate the mouths to simulate their talking. And their singing. And oh my lord, the singing.

The character that really turns me into a mouth-breathing drooling idiot is Ming-Ming, the chick. It has a little speech impediment where it says all l's and r's as w's. This is cute for about 30 seconds. And then as it purposefully says things containing many r's and l's, I find myself wanting to put an ice pick in my ears.

There's really nothing taught in the episodes as far as I can tell, except for the vaule of working together and blah blah. In the one Ainsley is watching right now, the WP's are off to help a puppy that really has to pee and is stuck in his house unable to relieve himself outside. They're singing a little ditty right now with lyrics featuring the words "pee" and "tinkle" ad nauseum. I think I might cry. And Ming- Ming just sang, "I'm not suwe he can howd it much longew!" Oh, mercy.

Why not change the channel, you ask? Good question. Something weird happens to my brain when she watches this show and it's like a car crash...I can't look away. That's why I say it lowers my IQ. I seriously sit there with my mouth agape when this comes on, unable to figure out the complicated process of picking up the remote and changing the channel.

We don't watch it much as she's more of a Playhouse Disney girl, but on Saturday mornings our TV just seems to turn on to the channel where this is on. So here we are.

It's almost over, though. They just had their celebratory celery, and that wraps up every episode. Ming-Ming just hit us with a classic line: "Celewy always tastes gweat aftew a good pee!"


Friday, August 10, 2007

The Haircut

I lopped Ainsley's hair off today.

Well, not me personally. I left that task to more capable, trained hands. But I made the decision that, since her bangs had finally grown out to her chin, she would join the ranks of other girls sporting bobs.

She was excited about it and couldn't wait to go this morning. She kept checking out her new 'do in the mirror in the car, and it took her 5 minutes to wash her hands when she got home because she couldn't drag her attention away from the mirror.

That one thing made her look so much more grown-up. She was a little baby-face in pigtails yesterday; today, she looks the part of a big kid going off the school.

It took Ainsley so long to get hair. She was a bald little melon-head her first 18 months, and even when she started getting hair it took until age 3 before it first brushed her shoulders. She was still getting mistaken for a boy at 2, even if I had her decked out in pink and purple. When as a toddler she finally got about an inch of good, thick hair, my mom and I immediately began twisting it into teeny-tiny pigtails using teeny-tiny butterfly clips so she would look more like the little princess we knew she was. Since then we've both enjoyed braiding, pony-tailing, and head-banding her hair as it has kept getting longer and longer. In so many ways I hated seeing that precious hair go.

But it was time. Growing out the bangs has made us both nuts, and I was determined one way or the other that she would eventually have hair that is all one-length. And I don't know what that kid does at night, but every morning she emerges from her room looking like Swamp Thing with a tangled, frazzled, twisted bed of seagrass-like hair that takes far too long to detangle and tame. With our new, earlier kindergarten schedule, she needs hair that we can manage quickly at 6am.

Coming on the heels of her kindergarten orientation meeting last night, it was one more heart-wrenching step to the next phase of her childhood. I am less than a week away from putting her on a school bus, and waving goodbye as she goes off on the next journey of her lie. From there, I know it will all start going too fast. Sometimes I want one more day with the little baldie who still said "ma-ma" and "da-da" and who waited every morning to be rescued from her crib, the little baby for whom we were the center of the known universe. Now school will become the center of her world.

When I see her next week wearing her little uniform for the first time, carrying her backpack and a packed lunch, it will be hard to hold back the tears. I will try to be happy for her; I loved school, and some of the friends I met there are still my friends today. She has, I hope, a wonderful road ahead of her.

And a great new haircut to start that road with, and that's always something.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mice Don't Like Wheat Bread:Classic Words of Wisdom from Joan

I love my mom. No, really. Sure, she gets on my last nerve sometimes, and she can be as stubborn as I am, which leads to arguments that become standoffs. But she keeps life interesting.

Every now and then something will come out of her mouth that is so hilarious that I titter every time I think about it for weeks afterwards. She doesn't try to be funny. She just is. She has a unique way of looking at the world that is both hopelessly clueless and naive and agelessly wise. When one of these gems come along, I have to tell people. It is, as the credit card commercials say, priceless.

She had one today that got me pretty good, and provided a few laughs between me and Jason at the dinner table, and it got me thinking back to her greatest hits. With today's included, here are the top 5 "Joan-isms" of all time.

5."Mice won't eat wheat bread."
This was today's quote. Mom has a mouse in her house, and it's been making Scout nuts and eating all her food for a couple of weeks now. She gave up on that poor-excuse-for-a-cat catching the mouse and broke down and bought mouse traps today. She asked Jasonand I to come over and bait them for her. We agreed. A few minutes later she called and asked me to bring the hotdog buns she knows we have leftover from grilling out for bait, and not the wheat bread she knows we eat, because "Mice won't eat wheat bread." Wha? She was adamant about this. I always thought mice ate, you know, whatever was lying around. Heck, I had one in my office two years ago that ate my Slim Fast bars. Don't they eat grain from silos? I would have thought wheat bread would have been right up their alley. Apparently, Mom thinks her mouse has her taste for refined carbs.

4. "I guess I have to switch to Diet Coke." (Said while eating her third powdered-sugar donut of the morning.)
Mom's had heart trouble and has been trying to get her cholesterol down. It has come down, but her triglycerides are still too high and her doctor just told her she's probably getting too much sugar in her diet and could be at risk for diabetes. The above quote was her solution; however, as she was scarfing down her usual breakfast of Coke and donuts as she was saying it, I'm not sure she gets it. Ah, irony.

3. "It's a Mexican cat. It doesn't understand English."
Years ago a Mexican family moved across the street from Mom and Dad. Pretty soon they had a kitten roaming around their yard (and everyone else's on the street.) I saw it in the street one day and tried to call it over; it was a cute little thing. Mom told me she thought they brought the cat with them from Mexico ("It doesn't look American," she said) and warned me against calling it over using English. 'Cause that's really the only thing that was stalling my communication with the cat. If I'd hollered out, "Venga aqui, gatito!" it would have come running. All you have to do is speak the cat's native tongue and it will obey. Everyone knows that. (And I have been wondering ever since: what exactly are the physical differences between Mexican and American cats?)

2. "The tire's only flat on the bottom."
This was my dad's favorite story to tell on Mom. She went out to start her car one day while Dad was at work and she had a flat. She called my brother-in-law to come look at it and see if she had a spare. He came over, and he's quite a joker, so after realizing it would have to be towed in he left her with, "Don't worry about it. It's only flat on the bottom." Hours later, Dad came home and sat down to eat and ask about the car. She repeated what Tim had told her, utterly sincere, utterly believing that it would be easier to fix. Dad looked at her for one moment, mouth agape, not believing she was serious, and when he realized she was, he burst out in a laugh I can still hear to this day. We were crying before we could stop. Every time the whole family gets together, someone brings it up.

1. "Nobody can't never tell you nothing."
She said this to me when I was a teenager during an argument, and Jason was present to hear it. It's his favorite. When we talked about it later, we counted the negatives: a quadruple! Wow. I couldn't have come up with a sentence using a quadruple negative if I tried, but she did it...effortlessly. And since it's a quadruple negative, it's really a positive, right? It's a compliment: Somebody can tell me something. And I'll listen. I have no idea why she was so angry over this.

I hope I haven't made my mom sound...well, dumb. She's really not. I've had intelligent conversations with her about everything from the secret to cooking a good mess of green beans to civil rights to common childhood illnesses. She loves reading and learning about surgery and medicine, and we tell her all the time she missed her calling in the medical field (I think she would have made a terrific pharmacist if women in southeastern Kentucky in the 60s had been encouraged to do anything higher-reaching than beauty school, which she finished.) But like many other smart people I know, she lacks common sense. And she tends to open her mouth before she engages her brain. Mix those traits with a small-town girl's naivete and throw it all into a well-worn cast-iron skillet, and you get my mom. And conversation that's never dull.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Moist Snack Cakes

Jason and I went to bed angry last night, not speaking for the last hours we were both awake. The source of our argument? Eating noises.

Jason and his brothers have severe issues with the noises people make while eating. They claim it's from the strict table manners enforced by their mother and mostly they joke about it. When we were dating, dinner at the future in-laws' house often deteriorated into an exaggerated display of mouth smacking and cavernous crunching by the boys so as to make light of the issue. It was kind of a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality they employed to keep themselves from going crazy when there were a dozen people sitting tightly together at a dinner table with no music or TV, eating, say, corn on the cob.

It's just been something I've had to deal with. If I grab some chips with my sandwich during a weekend lunch, I'm going to get a look across the table if I get overzealous in the chips' crispness. If my TMJ disorder is acting up (and it did all summer) and my jaw is popping and cracking, it's probably going to get a comment (to his credit, comments about my jaw show more concern about my general health than annoyance at the noise.) And heaven forbid if I slip up and make anything resembling a smacking noise with a particularly saucy meal.

Speaking of "saucy", I have to mention that other hangup of the boys: what they call "sauce" words. They get sincerely grossed out by certain words used to describe food, particularly any word that might connotate extreme enjoyment of food. "Sauce" gives them the shivers because of the multiple "s" sounds, which they will purposefully drag out when torturing each other at the family table. Really any word with an "s" sound that is used to describe food will get a shiver or two. Some words they say just sound disgusting: "succulent", "savory", and the combo of "meats and cheeses." The number one disgusting word? "Moist." If one of the brothers ever becomes a vampire or zombie, and attacks me in search of blood, I could repel him better by saying, "Moist! Moist!" over and over again than by using the strongest garlic or the shiniest cross in the world. Just saying this word around them makes them cover their ears and shout as if their ears are going to bleed.

I know I married in to this, but sometimes, with my rampant self-consciousness...I just can't take it.

I am what the brothers might call a "canyon mouth." Their mother is one, too, so it's not a fatal sin. I try very hard to use good manners, as loud chewing and smacking noises make me a little crazy, too. However, I can overlook the normal, natural noises well-mannered people make eating. It's only the mouth-breathers who chew with their mouths open that make me nuts (I have an aunt who does this, God bless her heart.) Even if I try my best to chew quietly, and take small bites, and turn the TV on, and remain placid, and not look like I am actually enjoying my food, I still make what my husband would call "loud chewing noises." And when I get called out on that, I get pissed.

I have been doing exercises that have made the jaw clicking better, so I thought things were fine. Last night I made some chicken pad thai, and it is, if you'll excuse me, a bit of a saucy dish. The noodles are long, and there's some crunchy peanuts in it, and I guess in retrospect it's kinda a loud thing to eat.

I got a phone call at the beginning of dinner, and it was important, so I didn't get back to my food until Jason was pretty much finished. It's always worse when Jason isn't eating; your own chewing noises usually drown out your spouse's. I noticed twice while I was eating that Jason looked my way, and I was about ready to ask him if I had something in my nose, when he said,

"Tonight's just a bad dinner for that, I guess."

And I knew by the "that", he meant my mouth.

It got ugly. I got up and took the rest of my dinner from the dining room to the kitchen, to which he said I was over-reacting, to which I said maybe he should start eating in another room since it's his problem, not mine, to which he said he didn't mean anything personal, that he just said that to make light of it "to keep [his] sanity." As if my chewing is making him crazy. As if it's normal or sane to get THAT hung up on eating noises. Hmph.

Other things were said, and feelings got hurt (mine), and since we can't see eye to eye on this and probably never will, it ended in avoidance and silence. I went to bed wondering if "thinks I and everyone else for that matter chews too loudly and can sometimes be a complete a-hole about it" is grounds for divorce. I concluded it probably isn't, but it sure would enliven the paperwork if that were a choice.

We haven't even discussed it today, and we're back to talking, and if he got offended by my mastication of grilled chicken tonight at dinner, he didn't say anything. Which is as it should be.

And after Ains got in bed, we savored a moist, buttery pound cake with ripe, juicy berries smothered in a creamy, whipped dairy topping.

Take that, honey! I bet you'll be in agony for days after reading that one! Revenge is...saucy.

Little Daredevil

She feels the need. The need...for speed.

Ainsley might be afraid of dark places and loud noises and any combination thereof, but she sure isn't afraid of heights or the pull of gravity.

Friday I had a day off, a day to recover from the hell of being the technology setter-upper for a 3-day teacher workshop. Seeing as how we've had highs in the upper 90s for a week now, I thought Friday would be the perfect day to take my little one to Sunlite Pool, a very large pool/amusement park in Cincinnati.

We started off with Ains's favorite aquatic event, which looks like this: jump off the edge of a pool, paddle to the ladder, repeat. And repeat. And repeat some more. Which is great fun for her, but not so much for her responsible adult in attendance.

Pretty soon, though, she spied the very tall slide in the middle of the pool with a rather scary-looking ladder. The slide throws you up in the air at the end, and you land in about 3 feet of water. Ainsley is very tall for her age, but when we paddled over to that part of the pool to investigate, the water came up to her neck. Given confidence by her swimmies, she said she really wanted to ride it; given that I saw no signs with a height restriction, I told her to go for it. As high up as that thing was, and as fast as kids were propelling into the water, I fully expected her to chicken out.

Chicken out she did not. She looked terrified on the way down, but as soon as she hit the water she laughed and said she wanted to do it again. And then again. And before I knew it, she had spent almost an hour zooming down the slide.

She asked if there were any other slides in the park. As it so happens, Sunlite Pool has two "Zoom Flumes", which are your typical waterpark body slides. I loved them eventually as a kid, but it took some talking into by my sister to get me on them the first time as they start off really high and spit you into the water fast enough to knock you under. You don't have to be very tall to meet the height requirement for these slides, so I agreed to give them a shot.

As we kept climbing and climbing the steps to the beginning of the flumes, I gave Ains every opportunity to ditch. I showed her how high we were going. I pointed out how fast the people were coming down. I told her how, if she laid down, the water would be around her face. I showed her how people went under water at the end and made sure she knew she'd have to hold her breath and raise herself out of the water. With every precaution, she just said, "Yay! I'm so excited!"

When it was her turn, I stood behind her, assuring her I would be right behind her and making sure she knew not to wander off without me. I asked one more time, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Before I knew it, the lifeguard gave her the OK to go and off she went.

That may have been the longest 30 seconds of my life as I waited for my own turn. I could barely focus on my own rush down the slide; I half thought I would meet her somewhere down there, holding on to the edge for dear life, refusing to ride it out the rest of the way.

I shot into the water, fixed the inevitable wedgie that comes from water slides, and looked up to see Ains jumping up and down with glee. "That's the bestest thing ever! I want to do it again!"

We rode both of their giant water slides in a constant rotation for the next 2 hours. She didn't mind waiting in the 15-minute-long line each time. And she told me that she was laying down the whole way each trip because she had figured out it made her go faster.

We eventually stopped for refreshments, and she wanted to go back to the first slide in the middle of the pool for a while. She begged me to do that one with her, too, and when I was on the top of that thing I actually got nervous. That sucker sits way above the pool and goes down in one steep swoop with little or no ledge to make you feel secure. And you go fast. I had dismissed it as a kiddie slide while she was doing it, but it made my heart race more than the "adult" flumes. I had a new admiration for her bravery after that one.

She wants to go back next year and ride the innertube slide that she was too short for this year. And she's already asking to go to King's Island's waterpark, which she sees advertised on TV and which has slides that look "superfast."

So this little thing who was afraid of hair dryers and exhaust fans for 3 1/2 years because of the noise, who nearly went into a conniption on the Dinosaur ride, and who has been driven to tears before for fear of automatically flushing toilets, has a thing for fast-moving, free-falling rides. Go figure.

I guess she gets it from me. As a kid, I would ride anything; the faster and loopier and scarier, the better. I couldn't wait to be tall enough to ride The Beast, King's Island's premier coaster at the time, and never met a carnival ride I didn't like. (Even the "iffy" ones run by 3-toothed mutant carnies who smelled like stale beer.) In fact, the only ride I've ever been on that I refuse to ride again is the Drop Zone ride, that lovely free-fall ride that was recently shut down due to a design flaw in a similar ride that made a cable snap and amputate a young girl's feet. Hubby, on the other hand, doesn't have the stomach for many rides and prefers sitting a lot of them out.

I was so proud of my brave little speed demon. I know we'll have to have some serious conversations when she starts driving, but for now I am content to let her experience the relatively safe world of roller coasters and water slides for her adrenaline rushes and speed fixes.

Of course, her bravery has a down side. She spent a couple of hours on Saturday watching Arachnophobia on cable with her dad. I started to turn it off, 'cause, you know, spiders send me into panic attacks. But she begged to watch it, and everytime a scene with a spider ended (and this happened too much for me; I bailed out of the room) she asked when the spiders were going to come back. She seemed to...enjoy them. She was even...laughing.

She does not get that from me.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Shock and Ow

I got the shock of my life today in my library. No, literally. I got juiced by a DVD-player-and-extension-cord mishap.

Let me just start by saying that I'm an idiot. When setting up media equipment, which is almost always powered by electricity, one should not do it "by feel" because she is too lazy and/or busy to walk to the other side of the library to flip some lights.

For the past 3 days I have been the technology wench for a big conference our school district hosted to provide PD to all its teachers. It has been my experience that audio-visual equipment in schools operates under the following law of nature: the likelihood that a piece of technology will break or freeze up is directly proportional to the user's need for the item and inversely proportional to the amount of time the user has before his presentation. In other words, if the success of your 2 1/2 hour workshop depends solely on your ability to play sound through your laptop, and you've got 5 minutes to set up before you're on, you ain't getting sound. Your laptop knows it has you, and it will laugh silently at you while you sweat and swear and call for the technology wench. But neither you nor she will be able to get the sound to work until the last 5 minutes of your now-improvised session, just as people are filing out of the room, dropping off negative evaluations for your hard work, when it's too late. You really should just plan on that happening so you're not ruined and so that you don't take it all out on the technology wench.

Anyhoo, as I knew it would, something went desperately wrong with a piece of library equipment this morning, and the presenter started just unplugging crap, so I jumped in. The DVD player I've used for 4 years now with our library's big-screen presentation TV with no problem stopped sending out sound to the TV. The presenter really needed to kick off her session with a DVD clip, so I raced around, grabbing a new RCA cord and when that didn't work a whole new DVD player. I had turned the lights off for her on that side of the library so people could see the screen and her fabulous PowerPoint. All of our stuff for that TV is in an ancient wood cabinet with two small holes drilled in the back barely big enough to slip our cords through. So it was completely dark back there. I groped around, found my little 3-outlet extension cord I keep in the back of it, unplugged the old DVD player, and plugged the new one in. So I thought.

A quick glance showed me that the DVD player wasn't turning on. The presenter was getting short with me. She said she would have to go ahead and start but that she would still like to have the DVD working for her next session. Natch.

So I reached back in. I had plugged the DVD player in by feel, and I knew I may not have gotten in plugged in right. I knew this. And yet I didn't turn on the lights. Or unplug the extension cord from where it came out of the cavernous cabinet into the open. I just freakin' reached back there to see what was up.

When I had pushed the power cord into the extension cord, I had been successful in getting one prong in. The other prong had been left sticking out over the side of the narrow little cheap-ass extension cord. My ring finger managed to find the prong, and ZAP! I got juiced.

Let me stop for a minute to tell you what I do when I get startled. I yawp. I don't squeal. I don't let out a cute little "Ooh!" I don't even let out something so normal as a scream. I make a noise that comes not from my lungs, but from my gut. No, not even my gut. From my very soul. It's a sound that has greeted my husband many times; if he tries to come quietly back to bed but makes the door creak while I'm half-asleep, he gets it. If I come out of the shower and he's coming around the corner, he gets it. Hell, I've yawped at him just for turning over in bed while I'm having a bizarre nightmare that a serial killer has come into the bedroom, killed my husband, and taken his place in the bed (oh, I must blog about that one someday.) He tells me my startled yawp is one of the loudest and most ferocious noises found in nature, second only perhaps to the noise Kentucky Basketball fans made en masse the day Rick Pitino went to Louisville.

So of course I yawp when I get electrocuted. In a room filled with about 45 people. In the dark.

I threw out some kind of lame, "I just got a little juiced, but I'm fine", unplugged everything from the wall like an intelligent person, plugged the DVD player in the smart way, and got the sound to work. During which the goofy presenter didn't even offer any expression of sympathy or thanks. I could have collapsed down there and I'm pretty sure she would have made a snippy comment like, "Well, now I'll never be able to show my DVD," and gone on with her engrossing presentation.

Except for a sore and slightly swollen spot on the pad of my ring finger where I touched the live prong, I'm none the worse for wear. I worked out this afternoon and my heart seemed to have all its normal rhythms, so I reckon I'll live.

Though I think next time I help with a conference I'll ask for hazard pay.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Win, Place, or Show Up

Omigod! I just saw the results from the 5K I ran Saturday, the one that dang near killed me, and I came in third in my age group! I am, like, so proud! This was for you, Ains! You complete me! We....are the friend....

OK, there were only 6 people in my age group. So I am still hanging tough at the 50th percentile.

I beat my previous best time by 40 seconds; no wonder I about died. I got all excited when Jason first saw the results and told me I came in third. Then I saw what I suspected to be true: not very many people in my group. And I was a full 7 minutes behind the 2nd place finisher. So it wasn't even, you know, close.

I'd like to think that one day I will place for real in my age group (for many local 5Ks, awards go to the top 15% in each age group), but I am seeing that you have to have actual athletic ability to do that. (Duh.) It doesn't matter how in shape you think you are, or how much weekend-warrioring you do; if you ain't fast, you ain't fast. And Cranky ain't fast. I thought maybe I would be after a season of competing, because I used to run track and do pretty well for my age, but I'm no natural athlete. Oh, well.

At least I am consistent in my 50th-percentile finishes. If you have to be average, you might as well be consistently average. Hooray, medium-ness!