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I will occasionally take off my vegan and cheapskate shirts to go out to eat.

No, it’s not cheapskate. It’s more like, I can cook something tastier, better for us, more beautiful, and cheaper at home (most nights, y’all come on over, I have plenty and love guests). But I actually love to go out to eat, anywhere with some semblance of attractive atmosphere, dressed up people and a bar.

So  Saturday night my husband was back in town and had slept all day after twenty four hours on the road. He called Friday night from LAX to say he was so tired, he’d been on his computer for so long and the activity in the international terminal was so mind boggling that he was starting to hallucinate. Or maybe that was leftover smoke from the concert he attended Thursday night???

Anyway. Better him than me. I don’t handle that stuff well AT ALL.

So when he got up about five he took the baby to Brusters for ice cream, and after work I got my Saturday night bubble bath and we dressed up and went off to Carrabbas.

Yes, in yet another worst mother in the world moment (remind me to tell you about taking her to see “Marley and Me” on LAST week’s date night) I let my kid have ice cream for supper and then put her in all black with sparkly stuff and took her out with us on a supper date.  We didn’t even arrive til shortly after nine.

But it was definitely a night to celebrate and relax. Baby and I had been on our own all busy week, the house was STILL a mess, I’d worked all week, I’d just gotten paid… So. And supper was delicious and we had a great time.

Toward the end of supper baby inveigled me to play tic tac toe with her.  I beat her and she got pissed. Then she wanted to play in such a way that each person went twice on each turn and she always went first– and won, of course.

Then she wanted to play three handed. My husband agreed and went third. She wanted his spot. He said I’ll thumb wrestle you for it.

Her hand is a one-fifth size miniature of his.  At almost six she still has baby smooth skin and baby dimples on her knuckles. She proceded to whip his ass, over, and over.

It was the funniest thing ever. She takes no prisoners. It’s something about the close range combined with her willingness to win. She would pin him, take his spot, win that round of tic tac toe, and say YESSS! and pump her arms in the air like she’d won some sort of Olympic event.

He says it’s not that she’s really better than he is. He says her itty bitty hand, her tiny fat white dimpled thumb about 1/4 the size of his huge hairy brown one, and her aggressive play make him bust out laughing before he can even thinkabout trying to win, and then she’s got him.

Yeah right.

So when we got home we codified the rules of our new game.

First you choose your weapon, er, crayon, and your shape to put in each box of the tic tac toe grid.

Then you find some cutthroat or arbitrary way to determine who goes first. We got down to drawing straws after doing shortest to tallest, oldest to youngest, cutest to not cutest, youngest to oldest, and rock paper scissors. Thank goodness they’re something of rock paper scissors experts in my husband’s office. (And they do what? And make how much money??)

Then, anyone can challenge anyone to mark over their spot.

In six games, I won three and baby won three–she by thumb wrestling, I by guile.  Now if it had been cutthroat rock paper scissors my husband would have whipped us, for sure. But it wasn’t, so she and I did rock paper scissors to break the tie.  She won. 

When I put her to bed she said, I have to go tell Daddy ‘good game.’ I said baby, I am so proud of you for being such a good sport. But why don’t you tell him… I whispered in her ear.

She padded down the hall and I heard a sweet ‘Good Game Daddy.’ During the perfect comedic pause to allow my husband to melt at the cuteness he started to say awwwww… and then with perfect timing she continued ‘even though I KICKED YOUR BUTT!’ He busted out laughing. We’re working so hard to teach her good sportsmanship but when the loser is a huge hairy man five times your size (and luckily a very good sport)– ya gotta enjoy the moment.

We put her to bed and watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Ah, the good life.

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Somewhere between MD, PA and WV

Somewhere between MD, PA and WV

This one’s for you, Jerry Lay.

So we’re at the aquarium in Virginia Beach over Thanksgiving… we happen to catch the otter show on our way out the door.

Did you know that otters (I know, otter is the proper plural, sorry, just doesn’t sound right) are really dangerous?

What? Dangerous like the feral rabbit, you mean? Come ON.

And why are they so dangerous? Because they’ll eat anything and are afraid of nothing.

Wow. I got some respect for the little guys immediately.

The gentleman talked about how the adorable play — more like a nervous tic, almost– one of them never, ever stopped the whole 30 minutes of the program was due to being illegally kept as a pet and trained to do flips. They took him away from his owner and I guess like someone with Tourette’s (I’m reading Oliver Sacks right now, since my Grammy’s stroke) either the trauma of living as a pet and humiliation of allowing himself to be be trained to flip or the grief of losing his owner caused that behavior to be integrated indelibly and forever.

So the dude also said otter are nearly extinct because of trapping for fur. He passed around a pelt.

You know the baby has to pipe right up.

“But why? That *hurts* the otter. It’s NOT FAIR!” 

Some how it’s a lot cuter when she’s talking about animal cruelty than it is when she’s talking about me asking her to clean her room– the room *I* cleaned and *she* messed up.

My good little future PETA donor!

The gentleman mentioned that now with synthetics we have wonderful and warm fabrics we can use instead of animal products.

So the baby marches over to the folks sitting nearest to us to pass around her silky black fake fur coat. “See? This is just as nice as otter! And it doesn’t hurt!”

I was pretty damn proud, but at that point we thought we’d better go ahead and leave.

She asked me about it later. She was still indignant.

I explained that many years ago we didn’t have wonderful fake fur. In places where it was cold, people had to use animal furs to keep warm. In fact, Native Americans lived in harmony with nature, observing it carefully, taking only what they needed and carefully preserving equilibrium out of respect, love, and concern for future generations. When they hunted, they said prayers of thanks to the animals they killed, honoring the sacrifice the animal made so that the Indians could eat and live.

Only lately has it become unneccessary and cruel.

She was still pissed.

I said, okay. Are you angry at a lioness when she catches a gazelle to take home to her babies to eat?

She said no.

I said well, that’s because it’s natural, right? The lion and her babies have to eat. That’s how nature works.

Years ago that’s how people had to eat and keep warm. And that was okay. It was natural.

My own grandpa hunted birds and my granny made the best pheasant pot pie you ever, ever tasted. Just be careful not to crack your tooth on a bit of shot.

But now, we have so many delicious things to eat, and so many yummy options for cool clothes, we don’t have to kill animals to get the nourishment we need. We might want to honor the sacrifice an animal makes for us so that we can eat or have clothes on some special occasion– we might want to buy something leather at the thrift store so that we’re not supporting the industry but we’re not letting the items that cost the animal its life and are still perfectly good go to waste, either.

Gratitude and preservation certainly do as much good as contemptuous abstinence.  

So she was okay with that.

And we are totally, totally all about the fake fur.

I’m in the airport today, exhausted, approximately 3 hours’ sleep before getting up to catch our 8 am plane, probably still intoxicated from the wonderful evening before (thank God for DD husband), with a squirmy five year old.

SHE got a good night’s sleep last night. SHE is too young to drink so she stayed home with her aunts and uncle and cousins decorating cupcakes and watching football or something.

And we just had our lunch.

So what the hell is her problem?

She’s throwing herself all over the place, unable to sit still, blatantly staring at people, watching over people’s shoulders as they did– whatever it was they were doing, I’m too well mannered to be that nosy… She was approaching a little horror.

Then she began to whine.

It was on.

I said okay, you lose your TV privileges then.

She whined even louder. She had her curlymop head squished down into the airport bench seat beside me like a sort of center for all of the flopping around she was doing with the rest of her body. So the howls were coming up from what sounded like parenting hell. I wasn’t there, but I could hear it.

Okay, keep it up, there goes another day!

This was a class A power struggle, right in public. BRAT!

Suddenly I was stricken (even through my impairment) by genius.

I said, perhaps you can earn your TV back by being good. You can earn one show at a time. You can earn one show back right now by sitting up properly in that chair NOW.

Noooooo! She whined.

Then she skipped a beat and from the maw of parenting hell I heard ‘TWO shows.’

I stifled the giggle & wiped the smile off my face immediately.

ONE at a time. Now come here and sit with mommy. I gathered my bad baby into my lap and hugged her all up. Whining over.

But I didn’t let her watch tv.

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