Sunday, January 22, 2012

Child Labor

The game is played like this:  2 kids, 2 shovels, 1 cow pasture.  Each player may stand no more than 10' from the other.  When a player finds a fresh pile of cow manure, player must strike the pile with the back of the shovel and splatter opponent.  After 1 hour, player covered in lesser amount of poop wins.  Or this:  2 players, 2 bb-guns.  Ok, you probably know what happens next, right, One-Eyed Mike?  This is a small sampling of the games I played growing up.  Not once did I sit for a game of Monopoly, but Rat-Batting?  A little too much.  Some "games" were thinly disguised ways of my parents getting free ranch-work.  Castrating calves is fun if you save the fuzzy little scrotums for Evel Knievel action figure helmets!  I bought it then, and now Dylan is all in on the concept, too.

I haven't sold her on the fuzzy helmet idea, yet; she still is a little freaked by the bawling and clatter of working cattle.  Grady's the same, and I can't blame either.  Cattle work is a messy, loud day.  Grady, when he joins us in the corrals, simply yells at the cows (or me), then sobs.  Dylan turns her head, draws dinosaurs on the back of vaccine boxes, finds a happy place -- then falls asleep.  Sometimes, though, I'm able to get some work out of her.  Remember the game "Pick up Sticks"?  I don't either, but I told Dylan it was a game all kids played and it was easy to learn.  I just put her in the feedlot and told her, "Go pick up sticks."  We piled branches while her pink school-shoes and white tights got covered in "dirt" (remember, it's a feedlot).  We had a blast.  Dirty work that culminates in a giant bon-fire, what could be better?
Sometimes, especially if there's a very special episode of Team Umizoomi on, it's hard to get either kid out of the house to help me.  I have to result to bribery, which I'm not above.  With Dylan it's simple: clothes and candy.  So, I stuff my vest pockets with Tootsie Pops, Regina packs a snack bag, and Dylan gets to wear a tiara and a tutu for her workwear.  Nothing says "cowgirl" like a pair of Wranglers, a Carhartt jacket, and a pink tutu spattered in manure.

Grady's starting to work with me a lot more, but at his age, there's little I need to bribe him with more than, "You want to hang out with Dad?  Come with me!"  I'm sure I'll be packing a snack bag full of candy soon enough.

Until Dylan is big enough to swing a shovel or pack a bb-gun, we'll keep her in cowgirl-princess workwear and hopped up on candy.  And I'll be getting the one thing that has kept agriculture alive in the U.S. for the last one-hundred years:  free child-labor.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nariz Naviblah

This year for Christmas break, we went to Mazatlan.  We made our grand entrance into the country with a plop.  No, it wasn't the sound of our plane bouncing its wheels on the tarmac; it was the sound of the contents of Grady's full diaper spilling onto the floor as we were trying to get through customs.  When Dylan was younger, the sounds of her crying would guarantee us a quick escort through customs without any hassles.  Apparently, the smell of Grady's poo has the same effect.  We breezed through, no problemo.

The morning we left home, it was 8 degrees.  The week before, we'd had nothing but bone-chilling fog that wouldn't burn off until late afternoon.  We needed a good thawing and spent our first day or two regaining the feeling in our extremities.  Dylan and Grady gathered seashell ornaments for the little Christmas tree we brought.  After our tree was decorated, we figured we should make an attempt at blending in with the locals by brushing up on our Spanish.  "Un tequila y limon, por favor," Regina repeated, over and over.  I'm not sure what it means, but it seemed to make her happy, so I'd add, "Yeah, sounds bueno," and Dylan would throw out her version of Merry Christmas by telling everyone we saw, "Nariz Naviblah."

We rented a car and spent afternoons exploring downtown Mazatlan.  I thought we'd head north, out of town, for the Advanced Elusive Driving Techniques, Cartel Experience class that the resort offered, for that "real Mexican experience you'll never forget!", but Regina navigated us to the historical downtown instead.  Dylan grabbed her purse full of pesos and searched for her perfect toy (at one point she tried to buy a stuffed kangaroo.  Nothing says "Mexican vacation" like a kangaroo.), while Grady and I found a shop that made homemade salted caramel and coconut ice cream.  I was pretty sure, at that point, that we'd never leave.

Christmas day was perfect.  Santa came to our room and left presents, then Mexican Santa came by the pool that afternoon to dole out more gifts.  Given Grady's Santaphobia, we let him skip sitting on this one's lap.  Dylan was given a make-up kit, which she promptly applied liberally to her face.  The yellow lip/neck gloss looked okay, but the purple unibrow was a little much.

Grady and I took a little afternoon snooze, then went back to the pool to find Regina and Dylan.  They weren't in their usual places (Regina soaking up sun, Dylan leading a game of tag in the shallow pool), so we headed for the beach.  We were distracted by shouts and screams and I assumed that an iguana had wandered into someone's pool bag.  Instead, I found a big white dude wielding a club and beating the snot out of a pinata while a line of small kids, Dylan included, cheered him on.  Regina told us that the little kids had gone through three rotations and couldn't crack it, so they called in some Jim Thome ringer to take a few swings.  "I wish that was me," I jealously whispered.  He spilled the pinata's contents with a few expert swings and the kids dove in.

There's nothing wrong with an uneventful vacation.  Last trip, I got food poisoning from ceviche and pulled over by a cop -- two things I'll never forget.  So, this trip, when nothing happened, we were relieved.  We ate great seafood, we expertly lounged by the pool, we built terrible sandcastles -- all the things that should happen on vacation -- and it was perfect.  Regina's tanner, I'm fatter (mmmm, flan), Grady's addicted to seafood, and Dylan keeps asking where her new make-up kit is.