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Tag Archives: nephew

Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

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It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

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Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

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I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

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One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!

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Hippos eat hippo bread: Christmas recap, Nephew-style.

I am finally at rest, after a day of running around like a crazy and doing all the things. Dinner is in the oven and there will soon be delicious ham and vegetables and rolls and chocolate, all provided by Mom (thanks, Mom!) and then I will go into a food coma. I have been attempting not to nap for a while. I have to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure if I fall asleep and nap at 5pm, sleeping tonight is going to be nigh-on impossible.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases (or Wednesdays, if Christmas isn’t your thing; I’m perfectly ok with you having a wonderful Wednesday.) Today worked out very well here in Amy and Dumbcat-land; it was a very good Christmas. Very happy all around.

This morning I went to visit The Nephew – and yes, as predicted, not a single photo was taken. Too busy hanging with my best little guy. I always do that. He greeted me at the door with an epic case of four-year-old bedhead and wearing the happiest pair of Christmas pajamas you’ve ever seen, with Santa and the reindeer in rocketships. “AUNT AMY!” he said. “Hey, buddy, Merry Christmas! Did Santa visit you today?” “YES!” he said. “Do you want to see my presents?” “Yes, I do, but I have to take my boots off first, ok?” He sighed, a long-suffering sigh. “Oh-KAY,” he said, and waited none-too-patiently for me to take off my outer layers so I could look at all of his Christmas goodies.

He got LEGOS! And an ANT FARM! And a TRUCK! And a SPIDERMAN THAT CLIMBS THE WALL! (That one confused me; I had utterly no idea how that thing was staying on the wall, to be honest. It was loud like a vacuum. Maybe it was vacuuming itself to the wall? No clue. It was pretty neat, though)…

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

…and some games and books and cars and a game for his LeapPad where he got to be a pirate and “get DOUBLOONS, Aunt Amy!” He wanted to make things with his gigantic Lego set, but it was time for brunch and that was going to be a whole thing. So we lured him away from Legos with the promise of cinnamon rolls, which he called “monkey bread” and said was his favorite food of ALL TIME! and then we had a conversation called “what animals eat.” “Do you think monkeys eat monkey bread?” “Yes!” “What do you think rhinoceroses eat?” “RHINOCEROUS bread!” “What about hippos?” “Hippo bread!” “What about nephews?” “NEPHEW bread! But also monkey bread, because it’s my favorite!”

This is The Nephew's FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

This is The Nephew’s FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

Then we opened presents. I got him books, which he was ok with, but then he was like, “Aunt Amy, is there anything else for me, do you think?” and I said, “Yes, I think there might be” and then he opened his remote-control plane and he was MOST excited and ran around driving it here, there and everywhere and laughing when it ran into people and his mom said I won because that was the longest he’d played with ANY of his toys that day. I WIN! (I do so like to win Christmas.)

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

I also got lovely presents like the most beautiful jewelry! The Nephew’s mom is very good as shopping. She has excellent taste!

Then we played Superhero Chutes and Ladders. I got to be Iron Man. (I kept saying, “I AM IRON MAN” in my best Robert Downey Jr. voice, which made me totally happy.) He wanted to be Ice Man, who was really Silver Surfer but when The Nephew says “NO! IT IS ICE MAN!” you listen to him, yo. So we Chuted and we Laddered and when The Nephew realized he wasn’t going to win he was like “I think I don’t want to play anymore” and then cheered for his mom, but then I SNUCK IN FROM BEHIND AND WON! Much like Iron Man would, I think. And then The Nephew said, “I wanted you to win all along, Aunt Amy” which was a very politician-like thing to say. Well-played, The Nephew. Well-played.

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Then it was time for me to go home, so The Nephew could go to his other grandparents’ house for ANOTHER Christmas (he gets lots of Christmases!) and so I could open MY presents. YAY FOR PRESENTS! The Nephew told me he loved me and Merry Christmas AND thank you and gave me a heroic little hug with his cuddly pajamas and poky-uppy sleepy hair and my Grinch heart grew three sizes that day.

Then it was home for me, and I totally put off opening presents for another hour while I emailed and generally futzed around on the internet because a., I wanted to tell my people Merry Christmas, and b., because the longer I could put off opening gifts, the longer Christmas would last. I’m no fool!

But then it was opening gifts time. And whoo, was there a lot of opening gifts all up in here! I got money and an ornament shaped like sparkly bacon and gloves that are specially formulated for using your smartphone while staying warm, and sparkly nailpolish, and honey to put in tea (because for some reason my grocery store is hiding it, and I really wanted that while I was sick and was SO SAD I couldn’t find it) and gift cards and warm socks and super-cuddly pajama pants and lots of soap and pampering-myself things because I am obsessed with them and these solar light things that look like little frogs that I can put on my porch, and a toy for Dumbcat that’s supposed to be a mouse that runs around in a circle but he’s just confused about it and walks away from it whenever I turn it on, and a cookbook of bacon-related recipes called Fifty Shades of Bacon (hee!) and salt and pepper shakers that look like kissing penguins and lip gloss that smells delicious and pins to put in my hair to make me look like a lady and delicious chocolatey treats and all the orange Tic Tacs because I am obsessed with them and MANY MORE THINGS that I probably should have documented but I’m not the best at such things. In summation: I got all the things for Christmas. No one else got any things, apprently, because I got them ALL! (Thanks, Mom and Dad and BFF and Nanny and The Nephew’s Mom!)

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I'm not the best at documenting things.

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I’m not the best at documenting things.

Then I made a delicious meal, thanks to my mother, who provided all the items FOR that meal, and now I am completely all’s-well-with-the-world and watching television and lazily thinking about going to bed so I can be prepared to go back to work tomorrow. Work’s going to be quiet this week. Most people took the rest of the week off. Which was probably smart, but I’m planning on saving as many of my vacation days as I can for next year…because BAM, I’m going to need 10 of them for late May/early June, yo. You need a couple of weeks if you’re flying off to Europe to visit some of your favorite folks, you see. IN LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS NOW! I mean. Not that I’m at all psychotically excited about it or anything. NO NO NOT ME.

So. It’s been a wonderful Christmas. It made up for last year’s terrible Christmas. MORE than made up for it. Also, were you aware that sometimes, the best gifts you get for Christmas aren’t even something you can wrap? I got a few gifts over the days leading up to Christmas that weren’t the kind you wrap, or the kind you put in a gift bag – and you know what? Those gifts won Christmas. They were the kind that you can’t put a price on, because they’re priceless. Actions and deeds and kind gestures. So as much as I like winning Christmas (and I do, I SO do) – don’t underestimate the weight of a simple action, or word, or deed, especially around the holidays. They sometimes mean just as much, or more, than a gift you spent months shopping for, and wrapped in the prettiest of paper tied with a bow.

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Hope you all had the best of Christmases, or Wednesdays. One more week until 2014. Can you even imagine? Come on, new year, let’s do this thing!


How to make a perfect birthday

It was a lovely birthday, and to cap it off I am going to bed early, because I think a good night’s sleep is important. Don’t you? Well, you SHOULD. (Mostly I just want to curl up with a book and read a little before I nod off, because that’s one of my favorite ways to fall asleep. I like to fall asleep with exquisite words in my brain. This book isn’t especially exquisite, but it’ll do.)

I had a kajillion good wishes today: from Facebook, Twitter, email, REAL mail, text, the phone…I really was surrounded by all the love today. Can anyone wish for more on their birthday? Some people might want fancy meals and dancing and drinking and all that flash and such. I really want for nothing more than people telling me they remember me and love me once a year. (Well, they can tell me ANYTIME. But it means just a little bit more on your birthday, doesn’t it?)

Best of all (and there was a lot of best) I got a card from The Nephew (and his mom) and The Nephew wrote MY name and HIS name and I’m telling you right now there were tears on that card when I opened it. What a smart kiddo. He’s going places, that nephew of mine. He’s only been in school for a month, and he can write his name! And apparently MY name! Get ready, world, kiddo’s going to take you over ANY DAY NOW.

And, then to top it all off, I got a call and guess who it was? THE NEPHEW! And he said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and he actually talked to me for a little while, which he never does!

Things The Nephew and I discussed:

How much I loved his card and how smart he was that he could write both of our names on it (“I know!”)
How he was liking school (“I do NOT like school!”)
WHY he was not liking school (“BORING BORING BORING”)
That school is often boring for very smart kids, and it will get better (“How do YOU know?” “I was a smart kid too, buddy.” “YOU WERE?”)
A strange thing (“I don’t think my daddy thinks I am smart.” “Oh, buddy! Of course he does!” “NO. My daddy never told you that.” “Of course he did. He thinks you are the smartest kid he knows.” “HA HA! No. Daddy didn’t say that to you!” This was all very curious, as I am quite sure his father has OFTEN told him how intelligent he is. We all remark on it regularly, because he amazes us with his super-quick brain. I asked his mom about it and she said, “I have no idea where he comes up with these things. Then he argues with you about them until he gets SO ANGRY. It’s a new thing he does.” I think he’s honing his speech and debate skills, maybe.)

Then the hung up on me, and called me right back (well, I assume his mom did) and I said, “Did you hang up on me?” and he said, “Yes, but not on PURPOSE” and then he said nothing else and I said, “Are we done with the phone now, buddy?” and he said, “Um. Yes!” and I said, “OK, does your mom want to talk to me?” and he said, “YES!” and I said, “OK. I love you so much! Bye!” and he said, “Bye! I love you!” and my whole heart lit up like a Lite Brite.

Kiddo’s got me wrapped all around his little finger, you know. It’s shameless, how much I adore him.

That was a very good birthday gift. The best.

It was, overall, just a perfect birthday.

Thank you for such a happy day. Onward into the next year! Soon it will be time for a very exciting trip south to have a very grand adventure! Only two more days of work! Which I’m sure will feel like seventeen years of work, because that’s how time works, isn’t it?

Happy rest of your week, people. The bed’s calling me, as is the book. Best way to finish a birthday I can think of at the moment; I’ll take advantage of it, I believe.


Winning at Aunting is Exhausting

In news of THANK GOODNESS, the power is back on. I have never been so happy to see lights in my life. IN MY LIFE. That was 48 hours without power. I’m not made for roughing it. I’m a soft-bellied city mouse, dammit.

But that comes later in our story, really.

SO! What have I been up to, here in the mountains on vacation, most of that time spent without power?

So many things. Most of them happily Nephew-related.

So early Sunday morning, my brother brought The Nephew up for a day of camp adventures. I was a little nervous. I love my nephew more than…well, anyone, but I’ve never watched him for a whole day before. Not by myself anyway. What if he hated me? What if we ran out of things to do?

Plus there still was no power, so watching DVDs was out. The kid sure does love his DVDs.

I wasn’t allowed to bring him outside because he reacts badly to insect bites and there are many bugs up here. Big ones like bitey horseflies and small ones like pesky blackflies and almost-invisible ones like gnats and midges. I also react badly to insect bites, but not like he does. He swells all up and itches and itches.

So I took out ALL THE TOYS (that’s a lot of toys) and despaired over the fact that we had no power for cool beverages or toilet-flushing or hand-washing (or showering, sigh, but that was more a selfish wish) and then THE NEPHEW ARRIVED!

I immediately won him over by giving him the gigantic Geico gecko that Klout sent me a while ago. “His name is Gecky!” The Nephew said happily. It’s easy to win over children. I think when he’s 15 or so it’ll be a little harder to win him over, but I’ll take what I can get.

Here are things about four-year-olds that are important to know.

They are VERY ACTIVE. It’s all one thing, to another thing, to another thing, all day long. And not very long on each thing. Legos to books to card games to games to cars, back to card games. It’s like babysitting a hummingbird. An adorable, beloved hummingbird.

They are VERY PUNCHY. He likes to hit. And run at me from far distances and tackle. And headbutt. And leap on me from things like ottomans. I’m all over little nephew-bruises. If I asked him to stop, he would be sad. “But I LIKE it!” he would say, with a very trembly lip. “But it hurts me!” I told him. “That’s ok, because it’s fun!” he replied. Hmm. That seems like suspect logic to me. (But also like the logic of many of my exes…so maybe he’s just really advanced for his age, I don’t know.)

They say wonderful things. When I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he said, “This is LOVELY!” and “You must really love me, to have made this for me!” (I do, kiddo. I really, really do.) When I tried to get him to take a nap, he stalled with things like, “Aunt Amy, I am very sad because my blanket is too small” and “I can’t sleep because your hair is too beautiful.” He finally fell asleep, and when I woke him up, he said, “I wasn’t really sleeping. I was just on the bed with my eyes open the whole time.” When we went out to dinner with his dad that night, he said he couldn’t eat any more because he had “too much full.”

They are little sponges for knowledge. It’s glorious. He asked me why a billion times and I never got tired of it. “What’s this book?” “That’s the book Aunt Amy finished while you were napping.” “It’s not a book for me?” “No.” “Why?” “It doesn’t have any pictures and it’s really violent.” “Why?” “Because grownup people like that.” “Why?” “Because it’s an escape from their boring lives, I think.” “Why?” “Oh, life’s confusing when you’re a grownup, kiddo. You have to do a lot of things that aren’t fun to earn the money to do the things you want to do.” “Why?” “Capitalism, I think.” “Why?” “Well, if you ask your grandfather, he’ll tell you the liberal agenda…but I think it’s just life, to be honest. You make the best of what you’ve got.” “Oh. Can we play that Pooh matching game again?” “Yes, we can.”

He also loves rhyming words and nonsense words right now. If you tell him not to throw the ball, he’ll reply with “Can I throw the tall mall doll?” and giggle. If you reply with “No, but you can throw the fleegall” he laughs SO HARD and says “fleegall fleegall fleegall!”

They love snacks, but not food that is good for them. “Can I have Kit Kat bars? What about those things that are under the Kit Kat bars that look like cookies? Do you know why I am very sad? Because you won’t let me have more candy. I think it would be good to have more candy because I love it.”

(I think this should be a category all on its own: they are very manipulative. But not very good at it.)

However, at the end of the day, they say things like, “Aunt Amy, do you know what? I love you,” and your whole heart melts into a puddle.

We played games, we played with toys, we watched movies on his dad’s very small DVD player he brought up that plugged into a charger-thingy, he took a nap, we read many books (one of them four times, he loved it so) and we had a good time, despite two tiny breakdowns that I was able to jolly or distract him out of. (Said breakdowns were due to me not allowing him to hit a ball with a paddleball board into a wall full of glass-framed photographs. He was SO SAD I didn’t think that was a good idea.)

I’m pretty sure I win aunting. I kept him in one piece, unbitten by bugs, fed, laughing almost the whole time, entertained, and when he was on his way home, he said, “Goodbye, Aunt Amy, I love you!”

Win.

When I got home from dinner, there was POWER!!!

!!!!!

I was able to put food in the fridge, do dishes with REAL HOT WATER!, and – SIGH – take a shower. A nice hot shower. Utter luxury, that shower. Do not underestimate the glory of a shower after you are unable to have one for a while.

Today I have been the laziest human being alive. I read. I napped. I played on the internet. Said nap was interrupted by Dad calling, worried he hadn’t heard from me in a few hours and thought I might be dead. “Dad! I called and left you a message not to call because I was napping!” I said. “Oh, I deleted that because I was going to call you,” Dad helpfully said.

The rest of the week will be less relaxy, I think. We have plans for movies with The Nephew, a trip out of state (Dad has come up with a grand plan!), lunch with Mom, a trip to see Helper Mule, visiting my grandmother, and dinner and a play with Mom. All the things! Not to mention more reading and blogging and internetting and napping. All hail vacation!

I hope you are all having the best weeks. More mountainy adventures soon. And lots of photos when I get home (it’s much too hard to upload photos in a post from the app – they appear at the bottom, and to get them in the right place, you have to do this really time-consuming thing I won’t go into because it will bore you to tears. Photos soon. Promise.)

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(I had to give you ONE photo. Here’s the kiddo sound asleep. I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in life, but this one’s one of my most proud.)


And I’m not even being sarcasmic.

This is the only photo of me at the party. Those are my hands protecting the Buzz Lightyear candle from blowing out in the wind. I AM HELPFUL!

This is the only photo of me at the party. Those are my hands protecting the Buzz Lightyear candle from blowing out in the wind. I AM HELPFUL!

Things The Nephew told me at his birthday party yesterday:

“You can never have enough ketchup, Aunt Amy.”

“I like ketchup on hot dogs. And on meatloaf. And on eggs, but only SCRAMBLED eggs. But not on cake!”

“AUNT AMY SAYS SHE IS BEING SARCASMIC, MOM!”

“Are you done with your drink? Because I need this cup in the pool so I can make a waterfall and also soak the other kids.”

“Nocturnal animals are active in the NIGHT and sleep in the DAY. They are like bats, and also owls. Sometimes bunnies, but not always bunnies.”

“No one ate that cake, so if you hide it, I can eat it tomorrow and it can be all mine. Can you do that?”

“Do I have to eat the eyeballs on the cupcake? I don’t think I would like to eat eyeballs.”

“Do you know what I like to eat the best? Watermelon. If you don’t like watermelon, you COULD eat strawberries. It’s ok.”

“I can’t bring my remote control car in the pool. It could probably float, but battery toys don’t go in the pool, Mom said.”

“Someone needs to go get the car out of the grass because it stopped working and it’s not fun for me anymore. Who do you think will go do that?”

“I don’t want to say goodbye to you right now because I am making waterfalls in the pool but maybe I will later.”

Happy fourth birthday, my most amazing, wonderful, brilliant nephew. You make the whole world better by existing. You can always have my cup for making waterfalls in the pool, and when no one’s looking, I’ll eat those pesky eyeballs off your cupcakes so you don’t have to.

Love you more than I ever thought possible. And then a little bit more besides. You’ve got my entire heart, kiddo.

(He got his wish, whatever it was. Powerful lungs on The Nephew.)

(He got his wish, whatever it was. Powerful lungs on The Nephew.)


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