Thursday, January 26, 2017

Zoe vs. Zoë: Or, Not a Lot of Umlauts

We begin today's post with a shocking discovery, which we're going to address, then pretend I never made.
What I've always thought was an umlaut is actually a diaeresis.
Take a few deep breaths if you need to.
These two diacritical marks are typographically expressed the same way, that is, two dots over a vowel, but are meant to indicate two different types of pronunciation. The umlaut occurs often in the German language and lets the reader or listener know if, for instance, someone is saying schon (already) or schön (beautiful), two different words. Here's a stereotypical German husband (husbands in Germany are ready to go before their wives, too) telling his wife she's making them late by saying, "Lass uns gehen. Du bist schön, schon!" (Let's go. You're beautiful, already!)
A diaeresis, on the other hand, is meant to show when to pronounce the second vowel when two vowels appear side by size, as in Zoë.

Umlauts and other accent marks

My Zoe's name is not spelled with this accent mark. Which is something you might not know because I don't think I've ever used accent marks in any of my previous posts. Mostly because I assumed I wouldn't be able to do it. That's how I roll---on a wheel of technological knowledge that dates from the invention of said wheel.
I think most accent marks in English words are superfluous. If you don't know how to pronounce naive or cafe without the accents over the "i" and "e," respectively, then I have no pity for you. There, I said it. 
Of course, people often behave in ways that thwart my finer sensibilities, and so it is I've met those who, upon reading Zoe's name, pronounce it: Zō, with a long "o" sound (indicated by the line above the letter called a macron). There's even one person who pronounces her name Zoo.
Even so, I eschew the umlaut.
And, yes, here's where we forget all about "diaeresis" because it sounds like something biological that happens if you have too much or not enough water in your diet, and let's just say umlaut because it's a more pleasing word.
I don't use umlauts or most other accents in my writing, not just because I'm lazy but because, as I've said, I think people should be able to pronounce words from context or just life. However, because I work in publishing, I often must use them, and I admit I delight in knowing all their names.
Shall I list the most common accents? Is that your heart I hear beating wildly in anticipation?
First is the acute accent, which looks like a line over a vowel that starts low and angles up to the right. Here's an example: 
"If a white girl orders a PSL in a Starbucks café, is she a cliché?"
(Yes. Sorry, me. I'm afraid it's true, but don't let it stop you.)
The accent mark that goes the opposite way, i.e., a mark that starts high and angles down to the right is called a grave accent:
"Stepping on a Lego, the mother cried, 'How is it this blessèd child has cursèd my life?'"
(Upside, there are no Legos in the grave---non-accent meaning.)
Then there's everyone's favorite, the party accent of piñatas and jalapeño poppers, the tilde, as in:
"I love piña coladas. However, I'd prefer not to get caught in the rain."
Next up, the circumflex, which looks like a vowel got chilly and decided to wear a little hat .
"Chapeau means hat and yet the similar word château is the one with the circumflex."
(The Husband says he thinks the circumflex also looks like a tiny roof so that's fair.)
Finally, I really like the word cedilla even if I refuse to use one.
"Did that pretentious guy just ask for a soupçon of vichyssoise? His education is a façade."
There are many other accents besides these, but they mostly involve other languages.
Now, for the pièce de résistance, I will share a brief tête-à-tête between me and Z, my raison d'être, my cause célèbre, my bête noire.
The other night, I waited for a break in her long scientific exegesis on whether it's possible to have diarrhea while vomiting, and when she finally paused I said, "Zoe, I have a very important question for you. Do you prefer your name with an umlaut or without?"
"Mommy," she answered slowly, after giving the matter the same amount of thought she gave to her scatological musings, "you can call me anything you want, just don't call me late for pie à la mode."
Touché, Zoe, touché.

Zoe: 154; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like this one, 
in which Zoe confronts all things phonics.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

Hasta mañana (but really semana), click here to subscribe.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Zoe vs. Legos, i.e., Daddy vs. Mommy vs. Legos

If you read my post about Zoe's New Year's Resolutions two weeks ago (and if not, what are you waiting for? Do you want me to beg?! Cause that's totally not a problem), then you saw number 2. Get all the Legos that come in pink or purple boxes.
Before Christmas, we got a Lego catalog in the mail, and Zoe went through it circling all the "girl"-colored boxes like a small, greedy, conscientious sexist. She drank the gendered-toy Kool-Aid, probably also because it was pink, and Santa and family came through: On Christmas morning Zoe unwrapped box after box of Legos.
The Husband and I were glad because we needed something with which to occupy her over her Christmas break. I helped her with Lego construction one day and The Husband helped her another, which led to the first Ridiculous Couple Fight of 2017 over whose project was harder.


I asked Facebook to settle our dispute, and now I'm asking you. In the comments below, tell me who had it worse, The Husband or me, your gracious hostess who only ever wants what's best for you.
In The Husband's corner we have the Elves Dragon Sanctuary, coming in at 585 pieces and requiring 93 steps to create.
In my corner, the Heartlake Friends Horse Stable. It has 575 pieces, 10 less than the sanctuary, BUT it had 127 steps detailed in five VERY LARGE booklets.
The Husband and I have different strengths. He is far more distractible, while I'm proud to say my focus has been called a disorder. I have Brain Suction, which means I have an irresistible compulsion to finish what I start. It's an ignore-the-phone-ringing, I'll-eat-later, maybe-I-should-acquire-that-astronaut-underwear kind of focus.
My weakness: spacial relations. If I need to figure out what a 3-dimensional object should look like from its rendering in 2 dimensions . . . It's bad. This is not the Husband's problem. He's also good with directions in general. Hand him a map, he'll get you there.
I wasn't there to witness his struggle the day he (and Zoe) put together the Dragon Sanctuary, but I did see his face when I got home. Take "man cold" and multiply that by "tax day" and "putting together IKEA furniture." That's the look.
Normally I would've felt pity but just the day before I'd spent hours building the stable, which was its own test of mental fortitude.
The stable had three different foundations and two levels, and it kept coming apart.
"Mommy, you said a bad word," Zoe said at one point.
"I did?"
"You called that piece stupid."
She was right. I'd told Zoe there were "adult" words and also "bad" words. She shouldn't use either even though the "bad" words were not curse words; they were lazy words like "stupid." Also, "hate" and "whatever." 
Of course at this point I hated many, many things, from particular Lego pieces, to the stable itself, to the orange thingie you can use to take pieces apart, to Heartlake Friends Emma, Mia, Stephanie, and Liv, whose countless iterations littered our floor separated from their hair pieces even though, I admit, I kind of admired the all-female utopian society they were attempting to create with its economy based on ice cream shoppes and puppy day cares.
Legos, leading cause of divorce
We're your worst nightmare.

Now. A word about the orange thingie, which is actually called the Brick Separator Tool.
Reader, I watched a YouTube video. I suspected, and hoped, there was more than the one use that I'd figured out all on my own, so I watched a video about it. It turns out there are four ways to use the brick separator.  
And not one of those four ways would help me, since the piece that was in the wrong place was in our foundation, and the only solution would be to take the whole stable apart and redo it.

Meow do it werk?

Here's where The Husband says that though that is indeed sad and unfortunate, just because he didn't make any mistakes doesn't mean the Horse Stable should be considered harder.
And I have to give him that, mostly because I didn't take the stable apart and redo it. I just kind of added another piece and half-assed it, identifying very much with President Business from The Lego Movie as I longed for some Kraggle.
So there you have it.
Whether I win or lose our argument, my  main concern is really for Ninja and Spice, the horses living in the stable, because not only is their home unstable, but they're living next door to a dragon sanctuary. It would be better to relocate the dragon sanctuary rather than the stable because every time Zoe tries to move the latter, it comes apart. At which point, in my head, I use all the adult words.
Zoe: 153; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Zoe vs. 2017: A Six-Year-Old's New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! December was busy, what with me shopping for the presents on Zoe's list, wrapping those presents, and then listening to the sound of my world crumbling when Zoe told me she'd written a new list. But now we're back and raring to go with our New Year's resolutions!
Mine are the usual pipe dreams about sleeping in on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee while it's hot, and showering without interruption. But, truth be told, since I first started reporting on Zoe's resolutions (see 2014's here, 2015's here, and last year's here), life with Zoe has been getting easier regarding certain quality-of-life issues. She's more independent and able to occupy herself. By that I mean, change the channel on the TV. So I'm no longer at her beck and call as much as I used to be.
However, there are new challenges. Most relate to the specific hell that is making sure she does her homework.
Zoe's in first grade. This means each night she has ten minutes of homework that she stretches into an hour that feels like twenty-four. The crying and carrying on, the drama and emotional upheaval. You'd think we were shoving bamboo up her fingernails instead of asking her to subtract.
Unsurprisingly, many of Zoe's resolutions for 2017 have to do with avoiding homework.

A Six-Year-Old's New Year's Resolutions

Zoe's New Year's Resolutions for 2017
1. Take acting classes since Mommy remains unconvinced of the cruel torment I suffer when I'm asked how many apples Seth originally had if Molly took 25 and he now has 42. I don't know. A lot of apples. Whatever. The bigger question, the one no one but me is asking, is why does he have that many apples? Is he going to eat all of them? That's crazy. Are they red apples? I don't like green. And why did Molly take 25? Did she steal them? That's bad. Even if Seth is a selfish apple hoarder. The ethical issues are being treated like they're beside the point when to my mind they're the main point. At least, they should be. Or what kind of world is my generation inheriting from the Mommys and Daddys with their surfeit of apples?
2. Get all the Legos. Especially the ones that come in pink or purple boxes. Pink is my favorite color. Also purple, violet, red, and white. And rainbow.
3. Learn how to fall so when I throw myself on the floor in front of Mommy when she tells me to do homework I won't really hurt myself, though naturally I will feign grievous injury. (Note to self: confirm  your dominant hand since last time you cradled the wrong one, and Mommy said you could still write the answer about Seth and his stupid apples.)
4. Get all the powers so no one can defeat me, even Universe World Rainbow Everything Anything power.* And ones no one's even heard of.
5. Teacher keeps saying I need to follow the destructions.** This year I plan to make my own destructions and follow those.
6. Defeat boredom. Mostly by avoiding homework. And by sighing a lot and saying "so boring," anytime I'm doing something that's unhappy. Whether that something is boring or not is irrelevant, like brushing my teeth.
7. Don't go to any more movies. My aunt, Connecticut grandma, and my cousins forced me to see a movie in a theater against my will. Admittedly the movie was pleasant. But I told Mommy I won't go to theaters because they're dark and big and she could lose me.
8. Work on my trust issues.
9. Try new and exotic foods. Haha. Nah. Maybe I'll take one bite of a green apple as long as I can immediately spit it out into Mommy's hand. Apples = boring.
10. Get woke. This was something I heard another Mommy talking about in 2016. My understanding is I'm to wait in my bed on Saturdays mornings for someone to come wake me up, that way I can get woke, not wake myself. Mommy needs her sleep if she's to be a match for my acting skillz.
Mommy says I'm the product of a post-truth era. But truth or lies---what matters?---as long as I'm not bored.
Happy new year! I hope you get all the Legos you asked for.

Zoe: 152; Universe: 0

* She says this all the time. I think she might really have this power.
** She gets this word mixed up with the word "instructions." Perhaps that's not an accident.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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