family

The House that the Jungle Cruise Built

Oh my gawd, I haven’t blogged for fun in forever. Hello, everyone! I missed you. I’ve mostly been writing blogs for corporate entities of late, in exchange for money. It’s a great system! But I had a joyful little moment the other day that’s prompted me to get back on the Hipster Mother wagon.

Earlier this week, we took Charlie on his very first Jungle Cruise ride. Andy and I first met while we worked on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, approximately one million years ago. (Yesterday was our 16th first-date-aversary. We both forgot until mid-day, and then celebrated with Mexican food.)

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This is the best picture I got. It will do!

We’ve avoided Jungle Cruising with Charlie up to this point because he thought it looked too scary. What happens to that boat when it goes around the corner? Death? Probably death. He’s not interested in death right now. He has a lot of magic tricks to look at on YouTube, and he’s not about to throw that all away for a chance to take a boat ride straight to the pit of hell. We had the same fear issue with the caterpillar train in Disney California Adventure. Where does it go after it gets through the giant box of animal crackers? To the pit of hell? Probably to the pit of hell. But now that damned train is his favorite and literally the only thing he wants to ride. Over and over and over again. With Jungle Cruise, we once got as far as taking him through most of the line before he started screaming and panic-crying.

But Tuesday, he asked if we could go on it. He asked if it was still daytime, because it would be too scary at night. He asked right at dusk, so we had to move fast.

Charlie fucking loved it. He’s all about cheesy jokes right now, and our skipper was polished and totally on-script. When our skipper did the line about most people taking these rocks for granite, Charlie laughed like a goddamn lunatic. He has no idea what granite is, but he knew this guy was using a joke-telling voice, and Charlie loves to be in on the joke. His favorite part was “when that elephant joked at me that it was going to splash me.”

To see the love and family that we’ve built off of this puntastic theme park attraction was a special experience that made me feel feelings, like joy and hope, that have become harder to come by since right around November 8th of last year. I thanked our skipper, conveyed the momentousness of the occasion, and told him what a bummer it would have been if this evening’s ride had sucked.

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Charlie at Trader Sam’s House

We also took Charlie to “Trader Sam’s House” at the Disneyland Hotel, which has become part of our pre-game ritual when we go to Disneyland. We sit outside, because the inside of this themed restaurant is obviously completely horrifying. They’ve got moody lighting, so that probably means that terror and death await. Charlie’s smart. He knows that blue gels on your overhead lights mean you’re evil.

Oh, he also asked to go on The Haunted Mansion for the first time, so we took him. It went poorly.

“It was supposed to be spooky fun, but it was just REAL spooky. I’ll never be happy again! Ahhhhhhhhhh!” – Charlie

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Pumpkin Soup and the War on Squirrels

Preparing for an evening of spite-fueled domesticity.

Preparing for an evening of spite-fueled domesticity.

My father-in-law lives with us and takes care of Charlie while Andy and I are at work. For the record, this is a fabulous arrangement. He is, however, at a crucial point in his ongoing War on Squirrels. Few things make him happier than being able to deny happiness to the squirrels who live in our yard. Those decorative porch pumpkins? It’s November 2nd. They have to go. Today. Because Halloween is over and the squirrels have taken an interest. We cannot leave them out until the day after Thanksgiving as I’d planned, because the squirrels are already sniffing them, and probably licking them too. And if the squirrels enjoy a festive holiday gourd, the terrorists win.

Our squirrels are, in fact, a tremendous pain in the ass. We have this lovely apple tree that we’ve never been able to eat one apple off of, because the squirrels get to them first. Though I really enjoy the idea of having a home-grown apple, I was always too taken with the adorableness of my fluffy little squirrel friends sitting on our porch and gnawing away at an apple bigger than their head, like they think they’re people. Even when a squirrel made a nest right outside my bedroom window and I could hear the scratching inches from my head in the middle of the night as she nibbled through our screen, my primary thought was, “Oh! How nice! She’s getting the nursery ready for her baby, just like me! We’re like twins! And she goes so well with the ‘Critters of North America’ decor I’m working on in here!” But then I did let the cats into my room to stare her down, because in practice, I don’t need a next of baby squirrels sleeping next to my head, no matter how goddamned adorable they are.

When Ed moved in, the squirrels went from adorable nuisance to The Enemy at Home. They’re into the bird seed, they’re digging up the flower bed, AND they’re still eating the apples. Probably they would kill us in our sleep if we let them. So the last 14 months, while primarily being dedicated to the care and nurturing of my child, have secondarily been committed to contraptions, concoctions, and incantations directed at the Enemy Squirrels: pepper spray on the apple trees, peppermint oil around the bird feeder, pepper seeds in the bird feed, cages around the plants, wire around the everything, plastic owls and eagles placed menacingly around the porch, an ever-expanding and increasingly greased up bird-feed-holding pole (that the squirrels continue to climb by simply modifying their previous behavior), and, most importantly, dropping everything at a moments notice to run our back and turn the hose on a squirrel when caught in an offending action. Since the squirrels have outmaneuvered us at every turn, getting stronger, jumping higher, and getting less picky about what they want their pilfered crops to taste like. It would seem that the conclusion is the resignation that we just can’t have nice things, and neither can the squirrels. Ed recently uprooted the vegetable garden and removed the bird feeder; I give it a week before he chops down the apple tree while shouting, “If I can’t have you, nobody can!”

Lest the enemy get a pleasant meal, we’ll be having decorative autumn gourd for dinner tonight. I’m searching the internet for a “wow your guests when you bake this soup in a pumpkin and be festive!” recipe, aiming for one that I have most of the ingredients for. Since I’m an ideal homemaker, this will work out perfectly. There’s no need to wish me luck.

I totally have this autumnal domesticity thing down. Look at these amazing Tootsie Pop Ghosts I crafted for dozens of apathetic trick-or-treaters! Cooking show-worthy gourd soup should be no biggie.

I totally have this autumnal domesticity thing down. Look at these amazing Tootsie Pop Ghosts I crafted for dozens of apathetic trick-or-treaters! Cooking show-worthy gourd soup should be no biggie.

18 Ways to Celebrate Football / Groundhog / Grandma Miriam Day

Grandma Miriam looking somewhat horrified as she sips tea (or possibly coffee) on her wedding day.

Grandma Miriam looking somewhat horrified as she sips tea (or possibly coffee) on her wedding day.

Today would have been my Grandma Miriam’s 89th birthday. She passed away a while back, but she had a lot of admirable traits and I’m sorry that Charlie won’t get the chance to know her. As such, I’ve decided that we will celebrate her life today by doing some things she liked. As luck would have it, she enjoyed watching football and having chili, so most of America will be celebrating her legacy today. I hope to make this a tradition on the birthdays of relatives that Charlie didn’t get to know. Since Grandma Miriam’s birthday won’t always fall on Super Bowl Sunday, here are some ways we might celebrate in years to come:

  1. By playing gin rummy
  2. By listening to Sousa marches
  3. By making cream cheese-based dips that go well with potato chips
  4. By smoking a Camel cigarette
  5. By listening to “Those Fabulous Hits of World War II” on cassette tape
  6. By wearing a floral mumu
  7. By voting
  8. By not fooling with it
  9. By declining to associate with no-goodnicks
  10. By watching Yankee Doodle Dandy on VHS
  11. By going to the movies
  12. By going for a walk by the beach
  13. By wearing a sweatshirt with a rabbit illustration captioned, “Oh no! Another grey hare!”
  14. By going to the race track
  15. By playing penny slots at The Four Queens in Las Vegas
  16. By sleeping with our feet uncovered so they don’t get hot
  17. By accomplishing the tasks set before us with minimal fuss
  18. By watching Groundhog’s Day. I don’t know that she had a strong opinion about the film one way or another, but it’s a great movie, yeah? And when your birthday falls on February 2nd, this is how people are bound to celebrate.

UPDATE: Grandma Miriam’s birthday is actually tomorrow. But I’m not going to be home tomorrow, and we’re not having chili tomorrow. Next year, we’ll celebrate on February 3rd, like good grandchildren.