On Monday nights Berta goes to bowling with some people from work, and Abby and I get to hang out.

Berta was making dinner when I got home from work, and so I took Abby out front to play a little bit.  I chased her around the tree and back to the bench where Abby was "safe".  We played this kind of "I'm gonna get you" base tag for a while until dinner was almost done.  In the middle of our play (and much to Abby's dismay), I noticed that the old lady next door was out with her weed killer again.

In case I didn't write about this before, there's this nosey old lady that lives next door that only comes out of her house to mow her grass and tend to her flowers.  Actually, she mows her grass quite frequently and does so whenever it coincides with something happening in the neighborhood or, more often, my back yard.

There is some problem grass that grows on the fence that separates our property.  That is, it's not a weed, but it doesn't get cut because it's too close to the fence, and hey, it's the back yard, so why bother with the weed whacker?

Anyway, I caught her out there again yesterday spraying herbicide into our property.  I said, "Hey, is that weed killer?"  And she's like, "It's growing onto my property."  And I'm like, "Buy a weed wacker!"  And she's like, "I can't be bothered with that."  And I'm like, in a much more stern and serious voice, "Don't spray that stuff there again."

Oh, but she will come to regret it if that grass does what it did last year and turns into a large brown patch the length of my fence.  Yes, she will.  I have several pairs of hedge clippers and I don't like how her carefully tended flowerbed looks from my yard.  Besides, if it kills grass and weeds, it's probably not good for Abby to play in.

Anyway, I used the same voice talking to the woman that I usually use when I'm really angry at Abby (you know, the "I'm angry" voice), and since we were playing prior to my discovery of the grass-mrdering old hag, Abby overheard the whole thing, and didn't want to hang out with me for a while.  So now the old lady is influencing my relationship with Abby.  Some awful revenge must be exacted.

As you can tell, thoughts of this consumed me and I wasn't a very good playmate anyway.  So I hurried Abby inside for dinner.

When I came home for lunch earlier in the day, Abby was begging Nana to watch the Aristocats.  Or as Abby likes to say, "The Alley Cats," referring to Scat Cat and his gang of swingin' alley cats.  So when Berta left for bowling after dinner, we watched the cat movie.  It was as good as the last time I watched it.

However, now the song is stuck in my head.  And it's pretty bad when you know the words, but this particular tune is sung by a French guy, and I'm not quite sure what he's saying through the whole song.  So I'm having brain seizures trying to synthesize comprehensible words to this song.  Something about how these cats won't be found in alleys digging in trash cans.  "Na-tu-ral-mont, the Aris-to-cats."

After that we went outside and played a bit, because it was still light outside.  Abby wanted to take a ball, since that's how I conned her into going inside for dinner.  "Let's get a ball," I said, leading her up the porch.  And when we get inside, dinner was ready.  Good planning, Dad.  (Pats self on back.)

So we got the ball outside and were having a nice game of catch.  This consisted of me being told, "Stand back, stand back," while Abby would come running forward and throw the ball a couple of feet, which would roll to my feet.  I would throw it back to her and let it roll to her feet where she seemed able to "catch" it.

Soon after our fun finally settled into a routine, Katie and Caleb showed up.  Abby really likes Katie, and apparently doesn't like Caleb, which pretty much reflects my sentiments of the situation, too.  While I'm sure that Caleb is a fine boy, he's much too violent and unaware of himself to be around my daughter.

Before anyone gets all, "oh, you're gonna have trouble when Abby starts dating," on me, let me give you a couple of examples.  First, playing ball.

When Katie showed up, all Abby's intentions for playing catch with dear old dad vanished, and she moved on to play ball with Katie.  Katie and Abby threw the ball back and forth very gently, and Katie made sure that Abby actually received the ball back.

At certain points during this exchange, though, Caleb saw fit to steal the ball during the throw in a violent professional basketball style turnover.  There was no regard for the physical danger he threatened to Abby or Katie whenever he leaped in and snatched the ball.  We're not talking about a subtle snatch here, we're talking about a full-body leap through the air to tackle the ball.  He would then hold the ball and tease the girls with it, which would send Abby into fits of, "No, that's mine.  I need it!"  And that pissed me off.

Abby would get her ball back eventually (usually by Katie righteously pounding on Caleb) and would hug it, not playing with anyone.  It's clear that she has some idea of who she likes to play with.

My second example is the swing.  Abby, deciding that she didn't want to fight with Caleb or Katie over the ball, said that she wanted to swing.  So Katie took her over and lifted her into the swing and started pushing from the front.  This seems odd to the casual non-parent, because you would think that pushing from the back is usually how it's done.  But it's actually better to push from the front in a baby swing because you can see the kid's face (and know whether they want out) and you don't end up smacking their head against the plastic seat back like when you push from behind.

Caleb started pushing from behind.  Ok, kids are kids, and I wouldn't expect him to know that this is probably not a good pushing position.  But then Katie tells him that his pushing is bopping Abby's head on the seat.  And then he starts "pushing" the swing with (more likely letting the swing violently collide with) his butt.  I explain that this isn't acceptible.  And finally, when Abby is screaming, "I want down," Caleb his holding the swing far too high in the air for a safe swing.  This had to end.

All of this is in addition to the typical fighting stances that Caleb normally takes.  I think that he must watch too many violent cartoons.  He acts an awful lot like someone I would imagine watches too much Dragonball Z.

Anyway, you can see that if any other kid behaved this way near Abby I would be equally concerned for her.  Sometimes even Katie gets a little rambunctious.  Well, ok, sure, Katie is always rambunctious, but just not usually in a way that could hurt Abby.

So then Rosie showed up and Katie was distracted, and Abby started playing with the loose rocks on the front porch.  Normally, this isn't allowed, but what's the point in stopping her from tearing the porch apart when we're supposed to have it re-built anyway?  When is that going to happen?  As soon as the cement guys call Berta back.  It's been at least 2 weeks now.

Abby was then sitting on the porch when I noticed a small wet spot forming under her.  Clearly, the diaper was not working as expected.  Upon later inspection, the application of the diaper was somewhat less than what would be desired for full containment.

Anyway, rather than report that, "I need to change Abby's diaper," to the entire neighborhood and the kids who were also sitting on the front porch, I decided to just take Abby in, change her quickly, and then come right back out.  Katie didn't seem to understand what was going on, because she implied that I was being rude for ending Abby's evening playtime altogether.  This point, of course, was lost on me until I changed Abby and tried to return Abby to the fun outside, and found that everyone had gone home.  Well, ok.

So we ran around the living room for a bit, playing with a few things.  Abby decided that another movie would be a good idea, and seeing that I'm not really feeling all that well lately, that sounded good to me, too.  I let her choose a new one, and surprisingly, she chose Castle in the Sky.  If you have not seen Castle in the Sky, you should.  It's a very good movie.

Spirited Away was pretty good, but at the end it's as if the whole thing never happened.  Princess Mononoke was pretty good, but made so much less sense that I can't really rate it on much but the splendid animation.  I haven't seen Miyazaki's other movies, but I'm interested.  I've seen only part of Kiki's Delivery Service, and I don't know what else might be out there.

Anyway, Abby sat through the whole thing in a strange and rare kid/dad (ear) bonding experience.  It was all very moving.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I put her in pajamas.  We've been trying to get her to pull up her own pants, but I really think she'll do better with that if her diaper isn't so bulky that it clogs up the whole works.  That is, if she wasn't wearing a diaper, the pants pulling-up thing might go more smoothly.

And after the movie, off to bed.  That didn't work out so well, since Berta came home in the middle of it.  But we finally managed to get her to sleep by simply leaving her in her room.  Actually, more may have taken place after I went to bed, but as I mentioned, I'm not in top health these days and I pretty much passed out when I hit the mattress.