Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of November

Today's post ends Na(tional)Bl(og)Po(sting)Mo(nth). So while I'm sure everyone spent much time with the refresh key on their computer, wondering just when the day's post would arrive, you can now go back to checking less frequently, as I know I'll be writing less frequently - although I would like to start capturing more of the funny things Connor says each day, so perhaps I'll make a point of posting more conversation snippets.

Today also was our first full day back from Thanksgiving vacation at Ed's family. I attempted to get a photo of all 5 grandchildren on that side, but what can I say, 3 out of 5 isn't bad, considering the other two are ages 2 and 1. Herding squirrels, I tell ya. Alisa is the glue of this crew!

Connor spent a fair amount of his time "cleaning" my mother-in-law's windows, stove, inside of her dishwasher, playground equipment, and basketball court. The latter two were particularly dirty, being that they were outside in the rain and all. I'm sure she appreciated his efforts, even if he left a few smears on his surfaces. Helen enjoyed the inside of my mother-in-law's washine maching. I would post a similar photo I took of Connor at this age, but I accidentally erased it and I am still sad about that. It is mostly Ed's fault as he was bugging me to do some home maintenance task that was rather urgent, but ended up being a total waste of my time.

Connor also enjoyed hanging out in the basement, where my father-in-law has this nifty ski machine. And it's a good thing Connor got his exercise, because I broke a many year ban on McDonald's and actually took both kids there yesterday for dinner because Helen had spent so much of the trip from Baltimore screaming that my nerves were frayed, and I wanted to be within walking distance of home when we stopped to eat in case she had another breakdown as we tried to strap her into her carseat for the final leg of our journey. Helen adored the french fries, and even remembered that she had tasted ketchup a few weeks ago and when she saw it, she promptly signaled that she would like it and dipped her fries and fist right in. This reminded me that I am regularly surprised at how much the non-talking crowd is taking in.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Budding Photographer

Connor got some early Christmas presents over Thanksgiving, including a new camera. Clearly, he's going for "artistic", rather than standard images.

Friday, November 28, 2008


"What are you doing?"
"Don't worry, Mommy, I'm going to get something wonderful."

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I'm thankful for the village. Looking back on my children's short lives, I can't help but think of all the people that helped get them to where they are today. First, they were guided into this world by a team of caring midwives, whom I will forever be grateful for. Both had help from my lactation consultant, my sister has spent quite a few nights with my children helping me out, and my parents have spent several weeks with them, answering my call for childcare assistance EVERY TIME I needed it. I'm also thankful for my kids' pediatrician and Helen's pediatric gastroenterologist. The former kept Helen at home when she was born and developed jaundice and both are now working to get the last of her stomach issues under control. I'm thankful for my mom's group that provides a consistent sounding board for issues related to being a mom and raising kids.

I'm thankful for the one person who can be brutally honest (that's you, Ed) and the others who know when to bite their tongues (that's you, Mom, Linda, and Dad). Well, at least most of the time they bite their tongues.

I'm thankful for Therese's balance with regards to raising her son (e.g. Eamon is a good eater, I don't mind if he has cake every now and then), and also thankful for the way Ellen seems to know when to take a hardline approach, and when to pull out her undeniably Southern smile. Ellen will kill me for putting this in writing, but I'm thankful for the time she and I were on the phone and she said to Esther "just eat it off the ground, it's OK today". Why? Because that behavior is totally OK in my house EVERY DAY but I never dreamed it happened in hers. I guess I'm thankful she's human.

I'm thankful for bike tires that never go flat, gas tanks that rarely need filling, mice that get trapped in sheds before they get near my home, and grass that's almost always trimmed - and lots more. In other words, I'm thankful for the things Ed does around the home that I sometimes don't even realize he does. I have a feeling our new home will have a lot more of these things than our current home.

I'm thankful for children who go to bed easily - sometimes they actually do that, the way Connor cannot help but run almost everywhere he goes, and Helen's desire to always be in the middle of the action. I'm thankful for every inside joke Connor and Helen share and the way Connor almost always looks out for his little sister.

I'm thankful that library books have to be returned after having been read almost every night for six consecutive weeks because even the good ones aren't that great.

I'm thankful for crisp autumn days, leaves that crunch, and raindrops and snowflakes that land on tongues.

I'm thankful for the gummi bears that Vapiano hands out at the end of the meal, and the middle, and the beginning, and seafood that is delivered to tables fast. I'm thankful I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from, and I'm thankful for Miriam's Kitchen in DC who tries to make that a reality for my homeless neighbors. And I would be thankful to everyone who reads this and makes a donation to them or another soup kitchen in their area. Could you spare a donation of $5 for every year you've lived without worrying where your next meal would come from?

I'm thankful for Laurie who calls any time Ed is home alone with the kids and offers to have a playdate and was the person I felt completely comfortable calling at ridiculous times in the night when Helen was on her way. If I were going to have a third child, even though she has two of her own children, I wouldn't hesitate to hand off Connor and Helen to her during their sibling's birth. And if she felt overwhelmed, I know she would just call someone to help her rather than tell me to find someone else to help out.

I'm thankful to the man on the subway who gave me his seat last week as I was balancing a homemade apple pie, and I'm also thankful for the toddlers that helped make that pie, even if I did eventually have to send them both out of the kitchen when it got out of control. I'm thankful to the dad that was there to play with both of them while I regrouped in the kitchen.

I'm thankful for the first tulips that come up in the spring, signaling the end of winter. I'm thankful for summer days that last forever, bubbles that float up in the sky, and uncrowded baseball games where Connor and Helen can stretch out and Ed and I can watch a few innings.

I'm thankful for every day I take the time to live as if it's my last because those are the days I think my kids will remember most. And I'm also thankful for date night.

I'm thankful that my children have 4 grandparents who celebrate their accomplishments and read them endless stories, chase them on the playground, and try to hug away tears.

But most of all, this year, I'm thankful that the reflux is gone, the hearing test is passed, and both of my kids are incredibly healthy. I'm painfully aware that not all kids have it this good.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Travel made easy - well, at least easier

Today at the aiport, Connor insisted on wheeling his own suitcase around. And of course, I was all to happy to accommodate his request. And wow - it's a whole lot easier to navigate the airport with two kids who can self propel, with one carrying his own bags and ticket than it was last year at this time when I had too much baggage, an infant, and a toddler who insisted on bringing many things but didn't have the capacity to carry them all. I feel like we have entered the homestretch of parenting young children, which I suppose means that soon Connor will enter a new stage that I am totally unprepared for.


Monday, November 24, 2008

New Glasses

Of the people in the house who are capable of describing what they see, Connor clearly has the best eyes. But, he knows where his eyes are headed, so he's been making some glasses of his own.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't question my son's manhood

Yesterday, Connor proudly announced to me that he had "plugged the toilet". Today, he got up from nap, went to the bathroom (after consuming a cup of prune juice) and called in Ed to see his masterpiece. In Connor's words, "I 'tunk up the joint - and I turned the water all brown". I'm not sure if Ed high-fived him or just smiled broadly as he took Connor back to bed to finish his nap. I think it is at this moment that I am delighted that my second child is a girl, and hoping that this character trait is a masculine one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Soft Play Room

I'll add the photos in tomorrow when I get a chance, but Helen enjoyed her first visit to the "soft playroom" today and we all had so much fun that Ed is somewhat inspired to find large soft things to climb on for our new basement. Helen climbed to her heart's delight, and Connor had a blast joining in games with other kids. The noise and chaos did not intimidate either of them. Helen proved she could climb up quite a few stairs, climb onto blocks that are as high as her waist, and bounce around in a ball pit. She was a bit timid the first time she dove head first into the ball pit, but she still did it. Definitely, a good time.

The only problem? Ed and I are heading out tonight and we are both exhausted!


Friday, November 21, 2008

I knew it was going to happen

In August, 2005, a certain perfect little someone entered my life, and apparently there was no room for him and my former best friend sleep, and I was awfully taken by this perfect little someone, so I told my former best friend sleep "sleep, I love you dearly, and I do hope that someday we can be the best of friends again, but for now, I think it's best if we part ways" and of course I added "it's not you, it's me" and then we separated.

Sometime in 2006, my former best friend sleep dropped me a note and asked if I had time for a cup of coffee, and indeed, I was so excited to hear from my former best friend sleep, that I dropped everything, and off I went to hang with my former best friend sleep, and I introduced my certain perfect little someone to my former best friend sleep, and for a while, they got on famously.

But then came 2007 and I got pregnant with another perfect little someone, we'll call her perfect little someone part two, and perfect little someone part two made me really sick, and then depressed because I thought I had miscarried perfect little someone part two, and I felt really guilty doing it, but I had to tell my former best friend sleep again that we would be parting ways because I was so sick. And then perfect little someone part two was born and I felt absolutely horrible, but I had to tell sleep that it was going to be a while before we could be best friends again. As it turns out, perfect little someone part two liked my former best friend sleep a lot more than my perfect little someone did when he was born, but eventually perfect little someone part two had some rough bouts with reflux and then settled into a pattern of waking up every day between 5 and 5:30 and even though perfect little someone part two would go back to sleep after this wake-up until a more reasonable 7 or 8, things still weren't quite right between me and my former best friend sleep, though we were working hard to repair our relationship.

Then Ed and I decided to move and as part of getting our house ready to sell, we had to ditch our lovely king size bed that makes it so when one person moves the other one cannot feel it in lieu of our queen size bed that is not as nice, in order to make our bedroom look bigger. So, until we move, Ed and I will be tossing and turning in what seems like an itty-bitty bed, and I apologized to my former best friend sleep, but said that maybe in the new year we could start something up again.

Last night, I was ALL ALONE in a hotel room. I had a king size bed all to myself. I had two glasses of wine with an incredible dinner. I called up my former best friend sleep and asked if she wanted to spend the night. And do you know what happened?!? She revealed to me that for the last 6 months she'd been having an affair with my husband and I woke up at 4 AM, and 5AM, and 6AM, and 7AM. And I have to say, I knew all along when I started being a bad sleeper because of my kids that I was worried that I would never be a good sleeper again and now I am really worried about that prospect.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Making one's way

It is said that each child in the family must find their place, and I suppose that statement could be extended that each person in the family must find their place. In our house, we have ministries. Ed is the minister of all strange noises, and since Connor was born and I took on primary responsibility for feeding him, I've been the minister of children's health. Prior to Connor's birth, the position of finance minister used to rotate between the two of us, but somehow I talked Ed into keeping it as long as I was breastfeeding - and let's just say that offers a very big incentive to never wean Helen. I'm going on over 3 years of not having to hold the position. This person is stuck with making sure all bills get paid and that we can afford to do whatever it is we're planning. We used to split it up because both of us are equally qualified to hold the position (unlike other positions which draw on our unique skill sets) but neither of us wants the position. If the finance minister position did not exist in our house, I swear we would be facing foreclosure and our lights would be turned off because neither of us would ever pay the bill.

Upon Connor's birth, he seemed to take up the position of Minster of Being Awake at Odd Times - a position that he took seriously until he was six months old and we told him the position was being abolished (though on occasion he still vies for holding this prestigious title). He then took up being the head of the Ministry of Mess Making and together, we argue over who will be Minister of Having Too Much Crap. For now, Connor is winning, but I can make a good run at this when I want. We also compete over Minister of Talkativeness. Connor strives to be Minister of Nice in our house, but that's something that we all try and hold jointly. Most of all, though Connor is Minister of Doing Freaky Intellectual Things That Nobody Expects Him to Do. In fact, the one label that most people give him when they are labeling him is being smart.

When Helen came along, Ed and I wondered often if all of a sudden what we saw as pretty smart things Connor did would turn into being a regular kid, as we saw childhood unfold for another person. After all, each new development amazed us with Connor, but then, we didn't really have a baseline comparison. Maybe all kids were like him. We worried a lot about pigeonholing Connor into being intellectual, leaving no space there for Helen, and perhaps guiding him along a path that he was not interested in.

Once Helen came along, she decided to be Minister of Puke, but thankfully she has grown tired of that position, so she's now feeling her way around for what ministry she'd like to head up. She is clearly Minister of Happiness in our house, because she has always lit the room with her smile and blue eyes and it is obvious that she has no cares in the world. Things that Connor did that our rookie parent selves labeled as "smart" (which other people labeled as "pain in the assness") didn't always apply to Helen. After all, Connor would read books for hours from birth and Helen enjoys looking at the pictures, but is often happier without anyone controlling when the pages turn and where the story goes. Connor would play with the same toy forever, while Helen seems more intent on discovering everything in the room. We've revised our labels, and definitely label behaviors anthithetical to Connor's "smart" as Helen's "smart".

Lately, though, Helen has decided that making people laugh will be her special skill. Seriously. When we are at dinner, eating peacefully I might add, she will all of sudden give a big whoop and start bouncing up and down laughing, which always makes Connor start laughing, and then Ed and I will be laughing as well. A few days ago, she climbed on top of a little director's chair that the kids have and stood there laughing, even as I repeatedly told her to come down, that it was not safe. Her laughter, of course, is infectious and as she climbed on the chair over and over, Connor couldn't help but laugh. Helen finds any and every way to make everyone around her laugh. If she's doing something and no one notices, she will actually do whatever is in her power to get their attention, seemingly with the goal of making them laugh. Everywhere we go, she seems to make new friends. Where Connor was stand-offish to many people until he turned about 2 (and we thought that was really smart!), Helen seems to embrace everyone - unless they try and hold her and she has to leave my arms (and we think that is smart too!). While the joy is lovely, I've started wondering if she's carving out her niche as "class clown", and that doesn't seem all that lovely to me.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dancing Queen!

When Ed and I lived in Crystal City, I made some bet with him and lost. As a result, Abba was banished from our home. Shocking and sad, I know. I contend that the ban was limited to that home, so Abba can be played in our current home, though Ed disagrees. With or without the band, Helen is still my Dancing Queen!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Before Ed and I embarked on our journey with children, we declared (with an air of naiveté only people without children can have) that under no circumstance, would we allow ourselves to become those over-scheduled parents who spend their whole lives figuring out how to get their kids from point A to point B. OK, I’ll give every seasoned parent who just spit their morning coffee onto their computer as they shouted “HA” a moment to wipe their screens off.

OK, that should be enough time.

I have just sat at the computer flipping between websites for two indoor playgrounds and the County to figure out which flippin’ music / movement class I will put Connor and Helen in and trying to decide whether I would also put them in swim lessons, not to mention getting tickets to a puppet show for Connor and me, penciling in our trip to the paint-your-own pottery studio, and figuring out whether I should go ahead and book a few other theatre events that I’m planning to take Connor to. Sheesh. Maybe I should not enroll them in anything so they can finish handcrafting my Christmas cards!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stumbling Around

She's a two trick pony now - three if you count the combination of stumbling and clapping together.

In fairness to Helen, the video was taken several days ago and she's much more stable now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


"The only thing that rivals Connor's enthusiasm for his crafts is my hatred of them."

I'll let you guess which parent said that today!


Saturday, November 15, 2008


This afternoon, I look leave of the family and headed out to coffee with a couple girlfriends - a rare treat, indeed. When I arrived home, Connor, Helen, and Ed were all on the front porch. My girlfriend asked them if they were waiting for the fire department to show up. No, they were not. They were busy sanding a board, in preparation of painting it red and installing it in a toy wood stove I purchased off Craigslist for 10% of its original price. The stove is in fabulous condition, minus the missing shelf. Assuming the toy kitchen I've asked my parents for shows up at Christmas, this will provide the kids two stovetops, which I'm hoping will make cooking a little easier.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finding his religion

On the way to school today, Connor asked if we could go to church. I asked him "church, as in, school" - because his school is located in a church. "No. I want to go to church." As I related the conversation to Ed tonight he looked at me and said "uh...that's your department". I'm actually not so sure it is my department. Any volunteers out there?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someday, I may be mainstream

In college, as I was sorting through the discount book bins, I came across the book "In Labor". The book chronicled the move of birth from inside the home to the hospital, and with it, the displacement of midwives. This, by the way, is a unique feature of the US medical system. In other countries, as birth moved into the hospitals, so too, did midwives. But here, OBs had a rather forceful campaign against midwives as they sought to "professionalize" what they did. Apparently, OBs used to be sort of the bottom run on the medical profession totem pole, and part of this lack of respect came from them doing "women's work". Never underestimate the power a book can have in a young person's formative years when the phrase "rabid feminist" would not be at all too harsh.

When Ed and I first decided we'd have children, I went to the bookstore during lunch one day and was flipping through the pregnancy books. The one that caught my eye? "Baby Catcher" a lovely book with many vignettes about primarily home births, but a few hospital births as well. It's a midwife's tale of her practice in CA, at what she considered to be the height of the home birth movement.

When I became pregnant I knew I wanted a midwife attended birth, so I went to my insurance provider's website and searched for a midwife, and BirthCare came up on the list of approved providers. I went to their website and OMG, I discovered that they attended births at home, and this was just the coolest thing ever and I knew right away I would have a home birth.

And then I told Ed my plans.

He wasn't completely convinced of the sanity of my plan, but I had a few reasonable sounding arguments that appealed to him like - the last time I was in a hospital my ex-boyfriend was dying from leukemia, and frankly, I don't have a lot of happy memories there - and doctors like to do things their way, and if that's not my way, we already know who will lose (and there may be rational reasons for this in our litigious society) - and this may be our only child and I would hate to miss out on this opportunity, because I just know in my heart I am a homebirther - and by the way, did I mention how high the c-section rates in this area are and do you really want to see me cut open because I will totally make you watch the surgery. And by the end, Ed agreed to read this book, and I told him how I'd already made my first appointment and he should come with me.

At BirthCare, Alice (one of the midwives and a cofounder of the practice), interviewed us to see if I was a good candidate for home birth. At one point, she asked me why I wanted to have my baby at home and after I told her, she turned to Ed and asked how he felt and Ed responded "I don't actually have a full voting share in this matter" and Alice laughed and said "I think that's true a lot of the time, but most husband's don't usually tell me that". And after I'd been examined, I was officially a home birth candidate.

I told everyone about my plans and my friends who know me well often said "that's so cool, I want to hear all about it" and then, of course, there was a story about a home birth where the woman ended up delivering a breech baby and wow, was that scary and painful - but everything was fine, and then of course my sister told me I was nuts and my mom somehow knew this was sensitive territory to tread on, so she maybe said something like "it's not what I would choose", but that was about it - if even that. I think she knew my sister would do everything she could to talk me out of my decision so what was the point in her ganging up on me (thank you, mom). But by the end of my pregnancy, my mom had met another home birth grandma on the golf course and this was possibly the best day of my entire pregnancy because all of a sudden, my mom appeared totally zen about the idea.

I have only second guessed my choice twice - and that was moment before each of my children were born. Apparently, this is a classic sign of transition, when a woman has serious doubts about her ability to give birth. What possible biological function this serves I cannot even fathom.

I am intensely curious what Connor and Helen will think about when they learn they were born at home. Will they think I was crazy? Will Helen someday have her babies at home? Will Connor be the dad of kids born at home?

It's been a rough year for home birthers. ACOG and the AMA keep hammering their unfounded point that home birth is unsafe. My only guess as to why they care so much is because if insurance companies in the US ever figure out what a cost savings they could enjoy if they promoted midwifery care, many OBs could find themselves unemployed. After all, presumably c-section rates would fall more in line with the rest of the world and the need for those specialized surgical skills would just be a lot lower. They'd still be needed to handle anything out of the norm and high-risk pregnancies, but pregnancies like mine would never make it into the hospital (or woudl only be there for a few hours if a stubborn baby was lying transverse too close to her due date and needed to be turned downward - like Helen!).

Today though? Today was a good day because rather than reading another story about how midwives are getting the shaft, I read a story in the
New York Times that says home birth is coming back - and I love it!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy 13 months, Helen!

Dear Helen,

I used to tell people if I had to describe you in one word, it would be "happy". But this month, I need two words "happy" and "mobile". It seems as if once you figured out that motion was possible, you just haven't looked back. Let me be the first to officially welcome you to the upright movers club. It's not that you don't crawl around still when you need to get somewhere fast, but starting this month, you have often shown you would prefer to wobble your way upright. Because, as you have so keenly figured out, you can carry things in your hand when you are not using them to support you.

You can follow simple commands, know how to sign "more" and "all done" and can say "mama", "dada", "du" for duck, "buh buh" for bye-bye and occasionally still bust out with a thank you, but it's rare, at best. I think you're trying to figure out a word for Connor but what it is, we do not yet know.
You took many steps this month guided first by two helpful hands, then one helpful hand, and now you can walk the distance of the hallway without any help at all, though you do appreciate having a wall to lean on every now and then. It's hard work balancing for so long.

You also showed your adeptness at motion by climbing the attic stairs, climbing up Connor's kitchen stool, climbing any staircase that was nearby, and generally getting into even more stuff than you used to get into. For a while, I thought you had lost interest in your previous favorite game of unroll all the toilet paper while Connor and I brush our teeth in the morning or while I shower, but you have embraced it with a newfound love the past few days.

At the beginning of the month, we were instructed by our realtor to stop using the top of the refrigerator to store baggies, saran wrap, and tin foil, so instead we moved them to a cabinet. You, naturally, discovered these "toys" immediately and proceeded to pluck every baggie out of a very full box and scatter them about the floor while I prepared dinner. Small price to pay for a content toddler, I suppose.

You are officially a member of the play group that previously you were only allowed to attend because you had "sibling" status. And, after being surrounded by 6 boys Connor's age, a girl your age joined, so now you have an actual peer to play with, or beside, I should say.

You love the idea of being able to color with crayons, markers, pens, and pencils, but I am less thrilled. I only allow it when you are seated at the dinner table in your chair and have no ability to escape. The swing in the basement gets a lot of use these days because I cannot leave you for even a moment without worrying you will be halfway up the stairs. You have the sweetest laugh, and you love "finding" someone. It's funny every time, my dear. Your dad and I took you swimming one day and were reminded how much you love the water. I'm thinking of starting my regular swim dates at the indoor "beach entry" pool up with Connor again now that winter is here, but this time, I'll have TWO kids with me, and I'm very excited about that.

The one thing that continues to perplex me is that while you love to look at books and flip the pages, you almost never want anyone to read them to you. Instead, you take the book and sit next to whomever was reading it and pretend to read it on your own. Well, I think you're pretending, anyway.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy 39 months!

Dear Connor,

Tomorrow, you will be 39 months old. It's been a very busy month around here, and you have done an incredible job of not noticing and digging in and helping, when appropriate. It's been a real blessing to everyone near you. The big thing that happened this month is that we sold our home. Yes, your birthplace will soon belong to a young couple who's planning on starting a family soon. And while I'm sad that you will likely have no memories of this home, I'm not sad to avoid the renovation we had planned. That could have been really tough on everyone.

What does this move mean to you? For starters, we had to keep the house super clean for about 10 consecutive days as first realtors and then potential home-buyers trounced through our place. This meant that many of your toys were displaced and we were in a state of near constant vacuuming. Luckily, I got a new vacuum and you pulled out the vacuum we gave you when Helen was born and together, we logged a lot of miles. I think everyone is grateful the home sold so fast. You are already making plans to paint your new room "rainbow" which will be very interesting, I'm sure.

Outside, there were also plenty of jobs to be done, but that didn't mean we didn't take the time to rake up a bunch of leaves just to jump in. I have to admit though, you were probably more enthusiastic about bagging them up than anyone. You've become quite meticulous when it comes to the outdoors. The first week of school, you announced that you were going to keep the path that leads to the playground clean and every week you have kept your word. You probably spend half of your playground time each week cleaning up the path, but it does look mighty good when you're done. More recently, you've started treating the deck this way and since we always have magnolia leaves falling on it, you have plenty to do whenever you choose.

Occasionally, your dad or I will call you Henry to get your attention and this month, without missing a beat when your dad called you "Henry", you responded by calling him Bob. It was as if you had been planning your come-back for a long time. Smooth, Connor. Very Smooth.

I always enjoy seeing my speech tics show up in your speech, if for no other reason than it seems to show you listen to me. Of course, it also points out to me phrases that get a bit overused. This month, I have been trying to say "unfortunately" and "fortunately" less, as they have crept into your vocabulary with amazing zest. Often, you will pose a query such as "Mommy, can we go to the inside park today" and I will respond "unfortunately, Connor, the inside park is not open today". You have taken this speech pattern to a new level proclaiming everything to be either fortunate or unfortunate - often mixing the the two.

Observing you at school brings pleasure to me every week. Once this month, you picked up a rather large board to add to the train station you were building and shouted "I'm carrying an ENORMOUS board" and Mrs. T. looked at me smiling, so proud of how much you've changed since last year. A big Waldorf principle is that children should be able to hold different relative positions - so while you were the youngest in the class last year, this year you are among the older. You do everything at school with vibrancy and a real sense of purpose. One week we were out on the playground and you hopped up on the balance beam and then announced you were going to fly. You started flapping your little arms and then you leapt, and I almost could not catch you because your arms were waving so wildly. When you were safely on the ground, you looked at me and shouted "did I do it, did I fly?". Later that day, you tried flying out of your carseat as you left the car and nobody was there to catch you, and as it turns out, you probably didn't fly earlier in the day, and you certainly didn't fly then.

You and Helen had an incredible month. You celebrate her achievements, engage her constantly, and the two of you laugh uncontrollably at least once each day at and with each other. You very much try to keep her out of harm's way and will pick her up and move her when you deem it necessary. So far, no harm, no foul.

Today, you and your dad spent his day off heading off to the hardware store to take care of a few small issues that came up in the home inspection and then you took Helen with you to the petting farm. I'm told that everyone had a great time, though you and Helen seemed to have a bit more energy than you dad did when I came home from work.

The days are getting cold and short, but this just means we have to dress warmly when we go out each day and that it's dark in the morning, so the odds of you sleeping in increase. This latter thing is a very good thing, indeed.


Monday, November 10, 2008

White pumpkin

I've heard about people who dreamed of a White Christmas, but until Connor and Ed set out with paintbrush in one hand and old housepaint in the other, I never thought about a White Halloween. If it ever becomes popular, Connor is ready.

Connor would like to leave his masterpiece on the front lawn until all the paint washes off. I would like to get it removed ASAP so no vermin decide to munch on it, given that it has already begun to rot. I think we know who will win this disagreement - if only because I'm able to haul it out to the trash on Thursday and it's too big for him to haul back!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Today, Ed celebrated his 39th birthday. As Connor commented to me when he woke me up this morning "Daddy sure did get a nice day for his birthday" and indeed, the weather was gorgeous. We had intended to meet some friends downtown to play, but I brilliantly dropped the car key in Helen's carseat last night when I was confirming it was installed properly, and locked the door afterwards. So, rather than heading downtown, I waited for a locksmith. Luckily Connor was not phased in the least since there were many leaves to be raked, jumped in, and bagged. After learning that someone was going to charge my mother-in-law $500 to rake her yard, I now realize just how valuable my little raker is.

When the time finally came, Connor went about putting candles on Ed's cake. He did ask how many candles Ed needed, but as he inquired of Ed, I told him Ed could have five or six, because that's all we had in the house. Besides, we have finally replaced the battery in the smoke detector (thanks to having our home inspected by the buyer last Friday which inspired us to do several such tasks), so we might as well try and not set it off again for a while. As Ed and Connor blew out the candles together, I couldn't help think that Ed probably hasn't had this much fun blowing candles out in a very long time.

What did Helen think of all of this hoopla? She thought it was good, very good. She was delighted to have her very own slice of ice cream cake, and hey, it was bath night, so why would I care about the mess?

I think the kids are already looking forward to January when we celebrate the next birthday in our house. Our au pair will be turning 21!


Friday, November 7, 2008

The loot

Every year for Halloween, my mom would make costumes for my sister and me. I had the BEST witch costume ever. It had this outrageous orange fringe on the edge of a black cape and I still remember how fabulous it was and I was probably 7 when I wore it. My mom also fashioned a bride outfit, helped my sister dress as George Brett one year, helped me dress as Cyndi Lauper (in case you were wondering how darn cool I used to be), and many others. My dad would accompany us trick-or-treating wearing some old overalls that he put patches on and a clown mask. I remember a few of the neighbors giving him some candy for his efforts.

So, because I like to think I am as crafty as my mom, I always presumed I would make my children fabulous Halloween costumes. This year, Connor decided he was going to be a giraffe, and I spent many an hour trying to figure out how I was going to pull this off, until one day, after reading a book my mom gave him, he announced he was going to be a ghost. Awesome. Even with my sewing machine packed away I could pull this off. So, off to the fabric store I went, and this is what I came up with. It's not as fabulous as I might have dreamed, but Connor loved it. At each house he would say "Trick-or-Treat" and "BOO!". When one neighbor asked if he was a nice ghost or a scary ghost, he pondered the query for a moment and then said "I'm a little bit of both", which I thought was a pretty good answer.

He went around the neighborhood asking for hand-outs and the loot he brought home? It was deemed acceptable to the masses.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Barack Obama,

Let me be among the millions of people reaching out to congratulate you on winning the Presidency. What you did yesterday is what I call kicking ass and taking names. If you've been reading my blog (you have, right?), you probably know that Hillary was my gal. But, no matter, that's water under the bridge now. I'm proud that all people of color in this country can look up at a President who resembles them and someday, my daughter and I will do the same with a woman in the oval office. Your win makes everything seem possible. Mostly, I'm energized by the fact that my children live in a world that didn't seem possible to a good many people even a few weeks ago. I'll admit it, I thought this thing was going to come down to the wire and it would be either voter fraud or racism. I'm so glad I was wrong. Just yesterday, and old African-American man that works in the mail room of my office was practically singing when I saw him in the morning. He had his "I voted" sticker still on and I said to him "you didn't fall for that old trick, did you? The election was yesterday." And he shouted back "Oh no, Sister, I didn't fall for that one. I voted on Tuesday, but I'm not taking this sticker off until it falls off. In fact, I'm going to wear this same shirt every day this week." All day the excitement was palpable in that mail room, and it made me just a little bit prouder to have voted for you - in a swing state. I used to say that nobody cares how I vote, they care how I spend my money. But this time, I think people cared how I voted.

You may be a black man, and I may be a white woman, but the truth is, we have a lot in common. For starters, I, like you, have two young children. And, just like you, I have big dreams for them. I dream they will live in a United States that is, to quote you "more just, more equal, more free, more caring". Like you, I think the country can do better and can get health care to everyone. I think we have no business being in Iraq. Just like you, I support our troops and I do this by hoping they come home alive. Soon. I think wealthy people ought to pay more taxes because I recognize that much innovation in this country that leads to great wealth is fueled by government investment. I remember meeting Bill Gates Sr. a few years back when he was pushing for an estate tax and he pointed out that without the government's investment in the internet and computing, his son never would have become the wealthy individual he is today. He considered taxes nothing less than an investment in the future. Even those who claim to be self-made, often had government support backing them, though I find it remarkable that most never recognize this. Like you, I think the country could be a more welcoming place. Heck, President-elect Obama, we both even have moms from Kansas.

And do you know what, President-elect Obama? It seems as if the majority of the country feels this way. And together with that majority - you know, the one that covers the rust belt, the Northeast, the West Coast, and the Mid-Atlantic and even Florida - I have so much hope. Finally, after eight years of crap from the oval office, dealt out by a man who seems to care little about human lives, particularly those from other countries (yet has an uncanny fascination with those that are in-utero), I see an opportunity to be proud of my country again. Finally, after eight years of frivolous tax cuts that the country can't afford, we have an opportunity to think about balancing the budget again, or at least not mortgaging our children's futures as much as the current administration.

But I have to tell you, President-elect Obama, I remember having this same feeling of hope and optimism sixteen years ago when Clinton was first elected. I thought everything I wanted from my government was going to happen because, other than a few choice pieces of legislation in the previous 12 years, there just hadn't been much to smile about. As it turns out, I was in for a whole lot of heartache. Not as much heartache as I would've been in for had the other guy stayed in office, but heartache all the same. But through this all, I shared with you this very important fact. I have "an unyielding faith in the decency and generosity" of people who live in the United States. And it is that faith that brought me to the polls to vote for you.

Kindest regards,
A mom of two in Virginia

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Guess what we learned the last time we put the stairs to the attic down? Helen can climb ladders.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It all comes down to today

For over two years now, we've been inundated with a political campaign that ended sooner than some would've liked, but for others seemed like it would never end. Today is the day it all comes down to (hopefully, because I don't think I can stomach a drawn out recount or Supreme Court process). It seems unfathomable to me at this point that there could be more of them than us, but it's still a distinct possibility.

Obama's grandma died last night. She perhaps fell one day short of seeing her grandsom become President of the United States. She may not have been able to vote for him, but you can. Democrats, this is a call to action of the highest order. Get out there and bring this one home!

On a side note, last night when I asked Connor who he hoped would be the next President, he enthusiastically shouted "You, Mommy!". He went on to say that he could be the Vice President because we would make a great team. I then informed him that he couldn't be elected Vice President for 32 more years due to constitutionally imposed age requirements so he decided that he wanted Obama to win. Thank goodness we got that cleared up!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The end of an era

In 2001, Ed and I purchased our first home together. Ed quickly went about making some important improvements. First, he wired the entire house for sound, so that he could pipe his beloved Grateful Dead in both bathroom, basement, living room, kitchen, outdoor deck, and office - pretty much anywhere he might find himself. Then he added some nifty glass racks to the existing bar to hang our wine and beer glasses. Then an acquaintance of his game him a carbon dioxide tank which encouraged him to take his beer brewing to the next level and install taps and keg his beer rather than bottling it. As it turns out, the tank was probably stolen from a restaurant and Ed could not get it refilled. We returned it to the restaurant we thought it came from, and Ed purchased his own tank. At some point, we had a house naming party, and from then on, the basement was known as "Grateful Ed's". That basement bar was host to many a good time and most notably, it was where both of my children were born. (OK - for every customer of Grateful Ed's who had no idea where the kids were actually born, I will give you a moment to shiver and shake the image that is in your head.)

Alas, our house (and Grateful Ed's) is under contract and will have the home inspector coming through on Friday. In preparation, Ed has taken down the taps which will not be conveying with the property, and filled in the holes he drilled into the refrigerator for beer lines. We're not quite sure where the new "Grateful Ed's" will be, but as our friends pointed out, it's more than a location.

Come January, we'll be trading our current crap shack in for this older home a few miles away. It's got the charm that our current house lacks, better layout, and the most incredible hang out space. Oh - and a kitchen that has an oven larger than an EasyBake oven, unlike our current kitchen which is host to the "Caloric Ultramatic" oven. This move is saving us from a renovation that we had planned, and were ready to go through with until Ed and I became overwhelmed with the thought of living in a house under construction. We're looking forward to the next several years.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

High Society

Connor has jumped from the world of 2-D to 3-D art. For now, his cactus sculpture sits atop our dining room table, so we can all admire it each meal.

Helen started eating sushi!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Here we go again. Thanks to Therese's second annual challenge, I'll be attempting to post daily during the month of November as part of National Blog Posting Month - NaBloPoMo. Since I don't have a newborn this year, I assure you more booze will be involved in this challenge than was involved last year. For your sake, I hope the posts will reflect that, because my recollection is that for those of us who are not daily bloggers, this challenge really stretches the limits of creativity.

Why am I doing this? Because Therese has generously offered to host an end of November blogging party for those who blog every day in November, and I do plan to be there, if only to have a chance at winning the "MOST LIKELY TO ALIENATE HER ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY, A FEW OF HER FRIENDS, AND EVEN HER FATHER BY TAUNTING THEM ABOUT THE ELECTION" award. And if I don't win that one, I think I have an excellent shot at the "MOST DEPRESSING POST FOLLOWING THE ELECTION" award. Seriously, my mental health is at stake here people. Please, just vote for Obama already! I have two small children to take care of and they need a mama and papa who are happy. That, and a leader that understands that diplomacy ought to be an option in international affairs - at least occasionally; a leader who wants to actually help people get health care, rather than one who wants to give you a tax credit that loses value every year due to inflation to pay for health care - so that in 10 years the credit will be meaningless (it's an old trick, don't fall for it this time!); a leader who thinks ability to pay ought to be a central concept in tax policy. Bottom line? They had 8 years and few people will say they're better off and prouder of their country than they were 8 years ago. I know I'm not.