Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wonder Pets, we love you...

One of Abby's favorite shows is The Wonder Pets. For those of you not hip to the toddler TV trends, The Wonder Pets are three preschool classroom pets--a duckling named Ming Ming, a turtle named Tuck, and a guinea pig named Linny--who rescue baby animals from various quandaries after the preschoolers have gone home for the day. There's lots of singing--it's sort of opera-ish, where they sing instead of talking (though not always) and the theme of the show is always teamwork--they always work together to save the baby animal, and always employ some outside-the-box solution which they used previously to put together the Fly Boat. It's a cute show, overall, despite the disturbing hints of gender identity issues Linny (supposedly a girl, but not quite) displays.

Anyway, I've been noticing lately how much Abby has picked up from this show. Anyone claiming kids aren't influenced by what they watch should just observe her for a week and see just how much--good and bad--she soaks up from this show. Some samples:

1. She's BIG into teamwork, which overall is a good thing, though not when you're trying to sweep or change the baby's diaper. She'll say, "I need some teamwork over here!" when she wants help, and while you're working together she'll make you sing the teamwork song from the show.

2. One of the episodes involved helping a baby rooster who didn't know how to crow loud enough to wake the farm. After they give him some suggestions, he says, "Okay! I'll cock-a-doodle do it!" This is now Abby's favorite thing to say.

3. Lately she's talked about "being in trouble." I was confused for the longest time about what she meant since we never refer to her as being in trouble and, as far as I could remember, none of the shows she watches have characters who get in trouble, either. But just the other day I remembered one of the lines to the theme song is "There's an animal in trouble somewhere!" I realized she always says it when she's stuck or unable to get something to work right--like today, when trying to get her shoe on. "Mama, I got my foot in this one, but I in trouble with this other shoe because it keeps closing!"

4. In one of the shows, Ming Ming and Tuck get in a fight and Ming Ming sings, "I'm not going to talk to you anymore!" Well, now every once in a while Abby sings the same thing, complete with dismissive head-toss. Oops.

5. The Wonder Pets always reward themselves with celery after a successful rescue. Now she eats celery. Woohoo!

6. Dozens and dozens of "Hey! Like on Wonder Pets!" that occur throughout the day--animals we see (like the cranes at the Wild Animal Park), instruments (there was a mouse in a saxophone once, then we saw a sax on Riverdance), etc. I'm stunned sometimes by the details she remembers. Just one more reminder to watch our p's and q's around her. She's soaking it ALL in.

Catching up

My apologies for all the spotty blogging lately; there's been a ton on both my mind and my plate and I just haven't had the energy to sit and write anything. But now that we're back from our vacation in La Jolla (which, in all honesty, wasn't all that relaxing) I feel ready to at least post some updates.

First off--make sure you received my newsletter from August 17th. If you know you signed up but don't think you got it, check your spam and it should be there. If you aren't sure if you signed up, go ahead and do it again--the system is smart and won't list you twice, so if you're already signed up you're not going to start getting multiple copies of the newsletter. And if you haven't signed up, then you can do it right now--just put your email address in the little box up there in the right-hand column and click the wee button. When your submission goes through I'll send you a copy of the August newsletter, and if you want you can read the the June issue in the archives.

Second off--I have officially begun working on book #4, and since I'm sick and tired of calling it Book #4, I hereby dub it with the working title of "Guilt." Though, to be completely accurate, I actually haven't started working on the book itself--I've just started the marketing for it. That's a kick--filling out a marketing packet for Zondervan for a book that doesn't exist yet except in my snowflake notes. Which ROCK, by the way: of the 5 things Zondervan (hereby called Z) requested in the marketing packet, 3 of them were steps in the snowflake and are thus already completed. A little cut-n-paste and I'm done. Woohoo! Unfortunately, one of the other things it asks for is 15-20 pages of completed manuscript that is representative of the whole of the book, and since I haven't started writing yet I am not only short 15-20 pages, I am clueless as to what section of the book would actually *be* a good representative of the whole. The marketing stuff is due in to Z on Oct. 1 so I've got some time to sort it out. And who knows--given how comprehensive the snowflake is, I may have half the book done by then! Wouldn't that be a trip?!

Third off--If you're ever in San Diego, you've GOT to go to the Wild Animal Park. We went the other day and had so much fun! Though I did learn some things:

1. The Wild Animal Park is nowhere near the Zoo, which is, of course, in San Diego. It is in Escondito, which is inland quite a bit. Therefore...

2. ...when planning a trip to the Wild Animal Park, do NOT check the weather in San Diego and get all excited at the thought of a nice day in the mid-70's and decide to wear jeans. Because when you get to Escondito it will be 93 degrees and you will feel like a giant sweating pig by hour #3.

3. Bring strollers for ALL children. Do not assume that the forward-facing carry you read about online will work with your sling and that your baby will want to be in it all day, thus freeing up the stroller for your toddler. And when you're on the Safari Walk for 45 minutes and are going up the third hill, your toddler is going to want to ride, or else be carried, and then you're really stuck.

4. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the prices. No, it's not cheap, but it's not highway robbery the way some places are. And their kids' meal is awesome! (Though the bees will want to sample everything, too, which makes for a sort of dicey eating experience.)

Giant sweating pig-ness aside, it was a fantastic day and we can't wait to go again. It's only about an hour from us here in RSM, and since we have annual Zoo passes we get free admission and parking, so there's no reason for us not to go back a bunch, especially before the crowds start picking up. We went on the day the public schools all started classes, so the place was really empty, and the parking attendant said it's usually pretty empty through October. We're going to just keep an eye on the Escondito weather and head down there on cool days.

The only two things Abby said she wanted to see while we were there were, "a cat and a giant chicken." All the big cats were in hiding because of the heat, but we did see some meerkats, which she seemed happy with:

And while there were no giant chickens to be found, there were flamingos aplenty:

We also saw gorillas during feeding time--the trainer was atop their rocky enclosure and dropped whole bell peppers, corn on the cobs, and carrots to them, prompting Abby to say, "I want to be a monkey so you can throw food at me!" And there were tons of elephants, including one giving himself a bath, which Abby really enjoyed watching. Next time we go we're going to take the safari bus tour--can't wait for that!