From Goddess to Victim in Seconds Flat

The little goddess was bored after several days stuck mostly inside because it was too hot and humid (for this family, anyway) to go do anything outside, even visit the beach 15 minutes away. She was getting poopy, and so the wife sent her and me outdoors (since mama wasn’t feeling all that well…hmmmm…convenient…oh, OK, she legitimately wasn’t feeling well but let me get my dig in because I didn’t want to go outside and I got bit four times even with bug repellent on!)


Anyway, that’s how we ended up outside with my wee deity spending most of the time doing chalk art. She’s always loved doing it, but one of the artists who volunteers at my wife’s neighborhood center for local youth has been sharing more than just indoor arts and crafts skills with my daughter (who likes to go to the center a day or two each week so she can distract mom from running the place as executive director), so she was really into it.

Also, she was not pleased with the ants walking across her art as she felt their feet would mess her work up somehow. So, she exhaled on them with all the fury of a very mini femme version of the Big Bad Wolf, actually blowing them away, and taunting them with threats like, “How do you like that hurricane? Want more?”

After she had vanquished the ants whom she simultaneously praised for being fans of her work even as she cursed their trespassing (so like a deity, right?), she had this to say:

Yeah, take it like a maaaaa-aaaaan! That’s right: go home crying to your maaaa-maaaa! That’s what you get for crawling on my art!

Less than a minute later…

“Ahhhh ahhhh aiieeeee! Oh! No!” (as she jumps away from a harmless beetle buzzing around then tries to leap away from a mosquito that was already on her ankle attached and sucking).

Such a harsh goddess one moment, and then a panicked child the next. But, anyway, how’s about I share the art with you:

chalk-art_July2013_01The object in the center I assumed to be a golden delicious apple on a table. The petite goddess told me I was wrong. I then guessed pumpkin. Then, after informing me it was an orange, she drew the pumpkin on the left so that I would understand what a pumpkin looks like, apparently, because I’m a mortal dunce. The tree on the right was just bonus material for the director’s cut version of the DVD, I guess.

chalk-art_July2013_02Random yellow smiley face with purple eyes and smile. I know it’s not the sun because no way would my daughter draw a sun with no rays coming out from it.

chalk-art_July2013_03Even though we didn’t see Fourth of July fireworks (don’t worry, just a couple weeks before, we saw a big fireworks show for our local La Kermesse festival)…and even though the fireworks people were illegally setting off in our neighborhood on Independence Day were scaring her, my girl produced some of her own in chalk form.

chalk-art_July2013_04Not sure what kind of flowers these are, but they’re pretty, and the butterfly ain’t bad either.

Does She Know She’s a Goddess? Let Me Clear That Up…

In case you’re wondering whether my daughter realizes she has a powerful personality, the ability to get what she wants down the road in life (and often now, too) and understands what it means to be named after a goddess?

Well, here’s Exhibit A:


That’s an iPad in the foreground. (Don’t be jealous or think the little girl is *too* pampered…I got it as a Christmas gift from my employers a few years ago and it’s strictly first-generation iPad tech. I can’t even update the operating system anymore.)

Weekend mornings and the short time between breakfast and going to school, she will often watch Netflix in bed on the iPad to get in her favorite shows. Does she lay down to do this? No. Sit with her back to the wall/headboard and hold the iPad in her lap? No.

She places the cooshy Dora chair she’s had since probably three years old (and she’s almost 8 now) on top of her two bed pillows, and she sets the iPad down, gets seated, and watches it from high above in her seat.

Or, I think you all realize by now, her throne.

There Is Hope for Her Taste Buds

The goddess…she is picky.

A picky eater, that is.

Most nights, she doesn’t eat the same dinner as her mother and I do, because there’s something she doesn’t like about it, usually something to do with the seasoning. It’s too spicy. Or too sour. Or too chewy. Or it has too many green bits (oregano or basil flakes, usually) on it. She usually declares this after sticking the tip of her tongue to a bite of the food and holding it there for all of a quarter of a second. (This post from earlier in the year, recycled from one of my other blogs, will give you a better idea of the battles over food around here.)

So, we are reduced to having to put aside a portion of the meat to be cooked outside of whatever seasonings or sauces we are using…with only oil and salt to ready them for her belly, and figure out some alternate vegetable for her to eat out of the three she will tolerate. Or I have to cook angel hair pasta and serve it to her slathered in soy sauce.

My beautiful pictureWe have despaired over this for years, particularly when we visit someone else’s house for dinner and dread her not eating what’s on her plate or making her dissatisfaction known by too much scrunching of the face. We have spent so many years having to be careful to only go to restaurants with kids’ menus.

We’ve stopped catering to that to some extent in recent months. If we want to go to the Indian restaurant for dinner, and she doesn’t want to eat the chicken tandoori because it’s red and therefore spicy (even though in reality it’s simply roasted chicken and isn’t spicy at all)…well, she can order some nan (Indian fried flat bread) and munch on that.

However, I give credit where it is due, and there are signs that her taste buds are starting to mature. When we went to get our first pier fries (crinkle cut french fries) of the season in Old pier-friesOrchard Beach this year,  and again the second time, she demanded that we slather them not only in salt but also vinegar, which is a substance she didn’t want a drop of on her fries last year. When we go to the Mexican restaurant, she now ignores half of the chicken fingers she orders to raid my carnitas (heavily seasoned and marinated, though not spicy, pork). When we went to a barbecue place tonight, she had ribs and loved them. More importantly, she had a bite of corn bread and liked it, and munched heavily on the homemade potato chips, which were thoroughly seasoned with the same dry rub used on the ribs. A few months ago, she would have declared the chips “spicy” (even though they aren’t) and spit them out with all the drama of an opera diva.

Progress is being made. One day, perhaps soon, we might be able to enjoy dim sum together. Or lobster with clam chowder. Perhaps some enchiladas.

Not today perhaps, but soon.

Her tongue has started to grow up with the rest of her.

Thank God.
In the interests of full disclosure, that is me at our dinner table in that first photo, but I don’t know if I was actually even upset about anything, much less her eating habits specifically. I don’t know why I’m holding my head. I don’t even remember our 7-year-old taking this shot this winter, though she did. Goddess of photography, she is not, but it’s not terrible. (Also, it is her Disney kids’ camera that took this shot). The second photo was taken by me and my iPhone, and really was our first pier fries of this year. The box overflows when you get them before tourist season begins.

Daddy Was Up Late, Sooooo…

I went to a tweetup here in my neck of the woods in New England. My first-ever tweetup, in fact, which gave me the chance to meet a lot of cool people in my state, the vast majority of whom I’ve only ever before interacted with personally via Twitter. Lots of fun, lots of drinking (though I only got one beer since I had to drive), tasty appetizers aplenty, and good people.

Also, a late night. Which got later when we returned home. Number-one son is home for part of his Spring Break, with girlfriend in tow to meet his mom and check out the part of the world he considers home. We corralled them to watch the little girl goddess while the wife and I went out for a rare night together sans child, but then of course we got caught up in the late-night conversations that traditionally take place around here in the kitchen, made longer since there were four of us this time rather than three.

Don’t tell the goddess that these talks happen; she’ll feel left out, refuse to go to sleep and then sneak down to eavedrop, probably.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that while I can ramble on (as I already have), I don’t have anything much to say, so…um…since I’m in a joyous and not-hungover mood, here’s a photo of my wife and daughter dancing from summer 2012 (yeah, that’s my pale-ass leg):


Six Degrees of…Utter Madness !!!!!

Remember the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game? You know, how many degrees of separation exist between any film celebrity you can name and Kevin Bacon (or some other actor via Kevin Bacon), who once jokingly claimed to have worked with everyone in Hollywood? Rarely could you get more than six people distant, and it probably works with any actor or other folks involved in films, I’d guess. For example:

Michelle Pfeiffer to Julia Ormond (via Kevin Bacon)

1. Pfeiffer to Jack Nicholson in “The Witches of Eastwick”
2. Nicholson to Kevin Bacon in “A Few Good Men”
3. Bacon to Brad Pitt in “Sleepers”
4. Pitt to Julia Ormond in “Legends of the Fall”

Linked in four degrees

If you have ever had a child with any level of serious curiosity about life and the kind of focus normally only seen in butterflies with ADHD (in other words, 90+% of kids) or spent plenty of time around a much younger relative, you will know that every topic has only a few degrees of separation from any other topic, no matter how illogical it might seem to leap from one to the other, and the speed with which the topic changes can be dizzying.

For example, Pisces to flying cars via my daughter.

In the car last week, my daughter asked about Pisces.

This led to a discussion of the Zodiac and astrology…

…which led to a discussion of adoption and child abandonment (“What if a child is adopted, Daddy? They wouldn’t know the birthday to know what animal sign the baby was”)

…which led to me barely avoiding the still-too-early in my opinion “birds-and-bees” discussion, dodged by me simply clarifying that a man and a woman are needed for a baby to be made, but only the mommy needs to be present for birth (“Daddy, how could a girl have a baby if the boy wasn’t there”)

…which led to discussion of early human-like hominids/proto-people/cavemen, with dashes of evolution tossed in plus speculation on how fire was “discovered.” (“Daddy, the whole deal with cavemen was that they spent their time looking for fire or trying to make it, right?”)

…which led to a discussion of extinction followed immediately by advanced genomics and possible future cloning technology (“So scientists could have a person’s hair maybe and make a person from that? Like in ‘Spongebob?’ Or create a polar bear, which are going to be extinct soon, right?”)

…leading to a discussion of hovercraft and the fact we could make flying cars, but why it would be a really bad idea if most people were allowed to operate such vehicles (“Daddy, won’t it be cool when we can have flying cars and floating schools?”)

So that’s what…six degrees of separation (more or less) between an astrological sign and advanced transportation technology?

In any case, while I’m glad to have filled my daughter’s head with a combination of useful knowledge, trivia and a number of things that she will immediately forget about and ask me to explain again soon, this meant some 60 minutes or more (while driving mostly) of nearly non-stop talking on my part. By the time we got home from the errand we ran, I was literally lightheaded.

Moral of the story: If you can’t handle a police interrogation or intense job interview, do not have a child.

St. Regret’s Day

So, my goddess-child started her St. Patrick’s Day pretty much like any other Sunday. Wake up too early (even though she’s got a bit of a cold), fire up the iPad and start watching streaming on Netflix (“Wizards of Waverly Place” was on tap this morning).

Regret was coming though.

My wife got up a bit on the late side because both she and I decided to ring in St. Patty’s Day in the wee hours of midnight to around 2-ish rather than mingle with drunken masses during the daylight and early evening hours today during the usual celebratory period.

Regret was still coming…though not really in the form of a hangover.

When my wife did get up, our little girl, who’d been pretty chipper and happy to do her thing in her room up to that point, whipped out the poopy-face and got the pouty lip and hung head and general vibe of sadness. Mostly fueled by…

…you guessed it! Regret had arrived.

When queried by her mom what was wrong, the small goddess announced that she was sad that the Leprechaun, who for the past few years had left small gifts and candy after eluding our Leprechaun traps, didn’t visit us this year. Which I would have felt bad about, if it weren’t for the fact she doesn’t believe in a St. Patrick’s Day gifting leprechaun anymore. (See the post here for more about the death of him and another magical creature.) Both my wife and I resisted the “I told you so” urge, which would have gone something like, “This is what you get when you keep asking so many questions about fun childhood things.”

Instead, we tried to be sympathetic while also not making a big deal about it.

Still, I felt a little bad for her.

Which is why this green bouquet currently decorates her room (since I had to go to the store to get fixings for making my wife a breakfast burrito today):


Goes well with the fuchsia jack o’ lantern trick-or-treating bucket and aluminum foil mermaid, don’t you think? We’ll see if they dry out later on nicely enough to stick around as a semi-permanent addition to her dresser-top.

What’s In a Name? Apparently, a Whole Lot

Naming our daughter was very important to me and my wife, and a process we took very seriously. Seriously enough to keep several publishers of baby name books in business, possibly. This wasn’t a situation in which we wanted to be short-sighted, indulgent, cute or anything else potentially disastrous.

We didn’t want our child to have a name that everyone else was handing out that year or in the previous few years. We didn’t want her to have a name that could be easily turned into a jibe or jest. We didn’t want her to have a name she’d hate in later life (granted, you can’t predict that, so we gave her two very “normal” middle names if she wanted to use one of them later). We didn’t want her name to be something too overtly exotic, culturally inappropriate or…worse yet…made up from our own fertile imaginations. Also, we didn’t want to name her after our favorite drinks, common objects in nature or any U.S. states or foreign nations.

I’m sure we had other rules, too.

In the end, we went round and round and round with unwieldy lists and little agreement between the two of us on the best ones, though we certainly agreed plenty on the ones to reject.

The first name she got was right after the first ultrasound during my wife’s pregnancy. We nicknamed her “Peanut.” Of course, 90% of parents who see the first ultrasound probably name their unborn kids Peanut. Shortly thereafter, I decided to honor my vocation of writing and editing and nicknamed her “Comma.” Frankly, she was shaped more like a comma than a peanut anyway.

And certainly, since the time she received her actual legal given name…the name of a powerful goddess…she’s received plenty of others, a few choice ones among them being Honey Bunches of Love (or Honeybunch), Sweetie Petite-y, Sweet Petunia Pickle Bottom Butt, Oogah-Boogah, Icy, Goofalooficus and Silly-Butt.

But *THE* name; that was the challenge.

It was so important to us to get it right that we didn’t name her right away. We left the hospital with our daughter simply being Baby Girl Bouley and we didn’t commit to naming her until several days after she came home with us.

You see, by that time, we did finally have a short list of names: Zoe, Soledad and the goddess-name-I-don’t-know-if-I-will-publicly-reveal-any-time-soon. We figured that we’d be able to get a sense of our daughter, even in those early days when the only two notable things she could do were nurse and poop out that gross, gluey, black crap-like substance.

We were right to do so, because it was clear from very early on that Soledad would not suit her. Despite being the name of a highly respected television journalist, Soledad O’Brien, the name also means “solitude.” Our daughter was clearly not one to be left alone for any length of time, or be ignored for even a moment.

Scratch one name off the list.

Still, we wrestled for a bit longer between the last two. Ultimately, though, it was clear our daughter was going to try to boss us around, even before she could speak. It also seemed clear she would be a strong personality. And so the goddess name won out, for those and other reasons.

Did we name her true…or have we created a potential “monster” by giving her a name weighted with such power and authority, investing her with more bossiness than she would have naturally possessed?

I don’t know.

But it seems clear to me it’s the right name for her, so I guess we did good. Day by day, the inner goddess comes forth, and all her mom and I have to do is try to ensure she remains mostly benevolent.

The Birthday Fairy

So, after my recent post on the fact that I offed the Tooth Fairy not that long ago, one of my Twitterfolk inquired about the birthday fairy I mentioned in passing in that post. I figure that’s my in to have another topic for posting, right? Y’all care about our little family traditions, right? You wanna hear about this, right?

Sit down! Those were rhetorical questions. I took out the Tooth Fairy. I took out the Leprechaun. You better take a lesson from them and not get on my bad side.


Anyway, I’m not sure exactly how it all came about, but a few years ago, we introduced the concept of the birthday fairy. We were doing a lot of the fairy-house-building kind of thing and my little household goddess was (at the time) more into the fairy thing than the Barbie thing, so it seemed natural. She’d already heard of the Tooth Fairy, though I don’t think she’d lost any teeth at that time yet. She knew about Santa and the Easter Bunny. And to me, it seemed like birthdays got the short end of the magic stick.

Also, we had these pretty stalks growing in our side yard in a near-perfect circle maybe 18 inches in diameter. They got up to a couple feet high and in the summer, when our little goddess has her birthday, they would have these pretty, white, bell-shaped little flowers growing on the top third or so of the stalk. We came to think of that as our home’s fairy ring, and one year the birthday fairy started leaving a modest gift each birthday in that ring for our daughter to find.

The fairy ring is gone now, a victim of overeager landscapers we had doing some yard work, but the tradition persists. At one point, I felt the need to create a history for the whole birthday fairy thing and even gave her a name, which is my wife’s full first name backwards. This is what I came up with and printed out for my girl so she could have some kind of tangible record of her birthday fairy (and I included a picture of a fairy…with skin roughly as brown as my daughter’s own…can’t have just Caucasian fairies now…):


Birthday Fairy

Akimahs is the birthday fairy for all children born on the day of your birth.

(Each day has its own fairy)

She is responsible for remembering everyone who has a birthday that day, and in special cases, when a child is really deserving, she will give one or more gifts to that child.


So, feel free to create your own birthday fairy traditions. After all, I’ve established that each day of the year has its own fairy, and there are 364 slots left open; I won’t sue you or charge you royalties for using my fantastic idea (unless you’re Hallmark. If they steal this idea, I will *ruin* them). I bet the fairy for February 29 is some lazy, drunken lout, since he or she only has to work every four years…

All In the Presentation

So, I try to occasionally go that extra mile so that my daughter can get some kind of tangible evidence I love her, since I don’t know if the mere expression of love through kind behaviors, hugs and tucking her in every night is quite enough for her. One day in fall 2011, she was being a bit persnickety about eating lunch, so I tried to dial into creative skills other than my writing and editing skills, since I was pretty sure a well-worded note about eating lunch wasn’t gonna cut it.

So, I made her this lunch:


That, folks, is a hamicorn, and a tasty example of the species, I’m sure. A body and head of ham, with horn and tail of carrot julienne, legs of dill pickle and eyes of blackberry, traipsing under a full moon of ranch dressing across a field of pretzel sticks and blackberries (those ones aren’t eyes…that would just be *gross*…as well as suggest the hamicorn had just used its horn to pluck out the eyeballs of rival hamicorns…jeez, how do you people get such sick thoughts in your head?)

She loved this lunch. So much so that I was inspired (nay, compelled and forced, rather!) to do similar visually stunning lunches for several days thereafter, and periodically over the course of several more months. Occasionally, she remembers this meal and entices me to do something similarly ambitious again.

Sadly, though, none have matched the creativity of this effort (though copying prior meals seems not to matter to my little goddess…devouring one hamicorn to sate her divine and ravenous hunger was enough, apparently).