December 30th, 2005


There's not much actual nut-cracking

I've got some use-it-or-lose-it vacation days accrued, so I'm taking essentially a seven-day weekend around the New Year. We don't have anything planned beyond getting household stuff done and enjoying each other's company.

Yesterday our accomplishment was The Dismantling Of Christmas. We'd normally let the tree stay up much longer, but it was getting droopy and dessicated and looking more like a firetrap -- and not even an attractive firetrap -- so we extracted the ornaments, returned them to the attic and dumped the tree in the back yard until chipper-day comes. (Shortly after we got the tree it ran out of water -- I put water in the tree stand, forgot to check it for a few days, and then it was like no water had ever been in it. But maybe it would've dried out on its own.)

To compensate for the premature tannenbaum removal, we gave Sweetness an extra Christmas present yesterday. (Supposedly it's bad to give kids a long build-up to Christmas, and then cut if off cold turkey -- so to speak -- immediately thereafter.) We would've given her one anyway -- goudabonbon got a ballet outfit from Toys R Us, then found a better one elsewhere, so Sweetness had something "extra" coming to her. goudabonbon was reluctant to send me out to get the present myself, imagining I'd come home with a toy called something like Mr. Glass Breaker or Li'l Bullseye Ammo Launcher or The Junior Electrician Kit.

So yesterday I braved the exchange line at Toys R Us (exchanging the various stuff that needs to be exchanged is another goal for my New Year's Break). At Toys Rn't Cheap the exchange process is a delightful procedure that involves examining the receipt, inspecting the item, consulting the Rosetta Stone, performing differential calculus, crashing the computer and paging the manager for a key at least once. The hours flew by.

While in the line, I saw a box for some kind of electronic party game called "Chicken Limbo," but at first glance I thought it said "Chicken Limb." Which doesn't sound like much fun -- and yet intrigues me.

I also saw a sign for a sale on Bratz Big Babyz Twiins, which made me shudder, both for the "clever" spelling and the whole concept of the 'Bratz' line, which are basically mean-looking dolls with tons of outfits and accessories, many of which are surprisingly trampy. We say they should call them Slutz. I dread the day one of the Bratz enters our house.

So Sweetness discovered a "forgotten" present from Santa: a car wash for matchbox-sized cars. It has little chambers and a track, and she likes fiddling with the "blowers" and moving her cars into the parking spaces. I love watching my daughter handle things with moving parts and figure things out.

Sweetness's current obsession is The Nutcracker. She saw a video of the ballet somewhere out with her mother, and since she's kind of ballerina/tutu-focused these days, I reserved the Maurice Sendak-designed film from the mid-1980s, which she's been watching lately. It's totally f'ed up, with lots of dusty toy shop imagery and Freudian dream-overtones, so it's like being stuck in Terry Gilliam or Jan Svankmayer's junk drawer. Plus, it seems to rearrange The Nutcracker Ballet story and dances, so the "plot" is sort of incomprehensible. Sweetness is fascinated by it, so when I watch it with her, she asks questions non-stop. "Is that the Nutcrahckah?" "Who is dat?" "What he doing?" And my answer is invariably "I don't know." "I STILL don't know." And Sweetness wants to be told The Nutcracker story at bedtime, so we have to be wildly creative in making stuff up. We're in dire need of a good picture book (or even a mediocre one) that lays out the bones of the plot with relatively few sentences. I get all the business with the broken nutcracker and the mouse king, but then they go to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy (which is like half the film), and it totally loses me.

goudabonbon and I stayed up late (for us) to watch 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' last night (she'd never seen it). The video edit is 17 minutes longer than the theatrical version, and even though there are plenty of fun bits, I really don't think it's a movie that needs to be two hours and 10 minutes long. Even the theatrical cut could be five minutes shorter and not suffer.

BTW, this week (starting Monday) Sweetness has slept past 7 a.m. every day -- this morning she slept until almost 8 p.m. This is unhear of in our household -- usually she's up and has one of us out of bed at 0-dark-thirty. Simply getting to sleep "late" all week is like a vacation in and of itself.
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