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November 2008

Prime

If I had gotten a new camera for my birthday instead of the koshigatana that Steve felt I needed I would be able to post this as a video (I also would not have blood stains on my mactop keyboard - but... oh well.) However, I am able to cut through first a tin can and then a tomato (hello? 1970s? knife infomercial? probably Ronco? anyone?) so you will just have to believe me when I say this is Edward singing:

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And he is electrifying. Better than Cats.

Meanwhile, Caroline has decided that she can walk; despite all evidence to the contrary.

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Gravity - 1894560 : Caroline - 0.

Actually she would be great at walking if 1) she was able to stay upright for more than two seconds at a time and 2) she moved her feet. Instead she seems to believe that she should be able to move forward with no practice whatsoever; that she should be propelled solely by the sheer force of her will. I sympathize since this is exactly how I feel about playing the cello.

Patrick loves Caroline and Edward. He really really loves them and it is tremendously gratifying. However, I am afraid that he is going to accidentally kill them with his exuberant affection and it is robbing me of my ability to enjoy their sweet childish enthusiam for each other in quite the wholehearted fashion that I would like. Seriously. Six year olds are all bone and bounce and I cannot count the number of times I have finally grabbed Patrick while they were playing and pinned him bodily to me; saying, "Ha ha ha isn't this fun yes great very nice but holy mother of chr... GENTLE GENTLE GENTLE!"

This is Caroline moments before Patrick thought it would be a good idea to make her both the chocolate and the marshmallow in a pillows-as-graham-cracker s'more.

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Did she like it? Yes. Emphatically. Did I? NO.

This is a legitimate question: is it the age difference? Maybe two year olds are less likely than beefy first graders to maim their baby siblings, but how in the name of all that is holy have younger children ever survived to adulthood? I hate telling Patrick no no no no no every time he tries to play with the babies but it's so nervewracking to watch his gigantic limbs swinging arcs around their little lemons. Steve thinks I worry too much and that my constant hovering will sour Patrick's pleasure in being a big brother. I don't know. What do you think?

Finally, Patrick clearly does his best thinking at night because he wakes me up in the morning with the most pleasantly bizarre observations. His most recent reveille was this (honesty compells me to admit that I had an actual pillow over my face during this entire conversation) -

Patrick: "I put the one up and the two down and the three up and the four down and so on until I realized that there was a pattern, you know, and then I realized that the even numbers were all down and THEN I realized that I don't really like the odd numbers, I just don't do much with them and I thought about it and do you know what Mommy? Do you? Do you know what I realized?"

Me: Uhhh?

Patrick: I realized that I just don't care about seven. I just don't. And the other numbers don't have much to do with the seven either, you know.

Me: Ah.

Patrick: I'm going to look into this! The numbers that I don't do much with must be, sort of, like each other in some way.

[Pause]

And you might want to get out of bed some time.


Nothing At All

 - Letters. Patrick acquired his wooden letters over a long period of time from various sources. There is a rather amusing story (if I do say so myself) attached to the initial purchase but for those of you who asked where to buy them I can direct you to two online sources: the striped and the googly-eyed ones are here and the animal letters are here. Patrick's favorites, by the way, are the ones with the eyes.
    
- Teeth. The dentist just slapped some bonding on the chip, filed it down a bit so that if you were to take a ruler to each of my front teeth (not that I would let you) you might be able to tell that one is slightly shorter now, and that was it. You quite literally cannot tell that there is any difference between the patched part and the real tooth. AMAZING. I ate another Charms Blowpop to celebrate.  

- I added these to my menu:

Chris V's Martini Tomatoes (scroll down - I did a trial run last week with these [Steve and I pretended we were a cocktail party] and I wish I was eating them right now. delicious and I don't even like vodka)

I also scratched the smoked trout and apple roulade that I was so excited about. Rather than slice into neat little circles as anticipated they smushed into small heaps that looked like cat food. Since it already smelled like cat food that was enough for me. Pass.

Somehow my obsession with hors d'oeuvres blinded me to the fact that we are hosting a small Thanksgiving this year. Just my father and step-mother but still... I expect they will want to eat something on Thursday after coming all the way from Arizona. My hope is that the grocery store is not too awful tomorrow because I need to get my act together and buy things. Like a turkey and, uh, everything else. I should probably also think about lunches and breakfasts and make sure the guest bed still has pillows and, oh god, find clean towels and whatnot. Not sure how this week snuck up on me but there it is.

- It has been over a nine days since I neatly sliced my thumb through the nail but every time I try to remove the tape it starts bleeding again. Steve reminds me of the elementary school nurse who - when informed that my arm hurt when I twisted it thusly over my head - suggested that I not twist it over my head. He, obviously, told me to just stop trying to take the tape off. 

Thanks, Steve.

Seriously, is it worth it at this point to take my thumb into some sort of thumb specialist or should I just invest in festively colored duct tape?

-This picture amuses me because Caroline couldn't figure out where Edward had gone. She had crawled all the way to the door certain that he was right behind her as usual; but Edward's desire to follow Caroline everywhere met Edward's desire to hear music. Edward loves music, all music, even the tinny annoying plastic kind. Caroline is in the background saying "Hellllloooo! I'm over HERE! EDWARD!"

Edward is oblivious, lost in the magic that is... vaguely like Mozart performed by ducks.

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- And this picture charms me because it captures Caroline in a mood I don't see very much

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I can see what she will look like as an adult for the first time; provided she inherits my excellent taste and continues to wear mismatched bows stuck at weird angles on her head. What can I say, FUNCTION OVER FORM, people. You know what else? If no one had told Steve that he had a Russian (Latvian, but... he grew up thinking he was half-Russian then we met his birthmother and she told us Latvian then last spring we met his birthfather and he clarified by telling us that he (the father) was half-Russian, half-Latvian born in Latvia) birth father I never would have guessed it. You can see Steve's dark Irish side but I have never thought he looked remotely Eastern European. And yet Caroline looks so much like Steve and in this picture I can totally see that ancestry. Can't you? It's like you could crack her open and keep pulling smaller Carolines out until you reached the really tiny one in the middle.


Adds Up

I feel very fortunate to be Patrick's mother. I know that sounds cheesy and sometimes it is less true than others (4:05 pm - Patrick has been home from school for three minutes - he says "Can I have some Jarlsberg cheese and crackers" - I say "Oh, I'm sorry but we're out of..." - he shrieks "Then I'm going to bed FOREVER!" and slams upstairs - oh.my.god) but for the most part I am just happy to be along for the ride. I take an inordinate pleasure in the absurd and Patrick is like a carnival fun house, all bright lights and distorting shadows. He is me plus Steve plus rocket fuel and Hershey's syrup and a small cage of radioactive grasshoppers.

At his parent-teacher conference tonight Patrick shared his Progress Folio with me while his teacher met with another family and Steve wheeled the babies around the hallway and ordered a pizza for pick-up. While we went through his work we were supposed to complete three-quarters of a worksheet: three things Patrick believes he does well plus one thing he wants to work on; and then one thing I think he does well plus one thing I think he needs to work on. His teacher would complete the other fourth.

I handed him the sheet and said, "Write your name and the date up there and then start thinking about three things you think you do well."

He took the paper and wrote, "1-Math; 2-Reading Chapter Books; 3-Gym."

He then handed it to me and said, "Now you put down that you think I write really good stories."

I said, "Hello? Name? Date?"

So he SIGHED and then wrote this elaborate flow-y  Patrick followed by 11/11/11=121/11.

"Come on!" I said.

He erased it and wrote the date; tomorrow as it so happened but whatever.

I started flipping though his folder. He had written a long story about a party at Sassy's house that looked quite wild. I might need to talk to him about these parties at Sassy's house. Did you know that all 92416 cats on her guest list always show up? Crazy. There was also a photograph of himself next to a drawn self-portrait that I thought was pretty good. It's taken three years but Patrick's drawings of himself no longer make me want to fly him to Zurich - if you know what I mean. This latest one was of a smiling blond kid in a striped yellow shirt. "Oh I know that shirt!" I said. Patrick was pleased.   

Then we got to the math section and I couldn't decide if Patrick was trying to be funny or trying to be cheeky or just trying. In any event his valiant struggle to Show His Work was writ large. The first problem was something like Mark has 12 apples and Sue gives him 8 apples how many Macs will China need to consume in order to drag the USA out of this deepening recession? I mean, how many apples does Mark have; show your work.

So Patrick wrote 20. Then he drew a bubble number 12 skipping toward and bubble number 8. The next line shows them meeting and joining hands. The final section shows a bubble 20 rushing over to join them.

Apparently this had gone over poorly with his teacher so the next page attempted to be more representational. This time Patrick had drawn a lovely fruit bowl (complete with encroaching ants) and he then attempted to show apples floating from one fruit bowl to another. In a corner he had scribbled the answer to the problem.

The final page showed a cross-section of a head in profile. Inside the head was a demarcated blob, clearly a brain but just in case we had missed it Patrick had written My Brain with an arrow. The problem asked for all of the ways one could make the number twenty and inside Patrick's penciled brain were littler blobs with 15-5; 20-0; 16-4; 5-5-5-5; etc.

When his teacher joined us she mentioned that page and noted that she had told Patrick she could not see inside his head so... . Got it, I said. 

Then said she had spent an entire sick day hacking up a lung (can I get an AMEN for the public schools and a standing ovation for Patrick's amazing teacher?) and putting together a curriculum for Patrick for their next unit. Steve returned at that moment and we started a round (row row row your, row row row your, row row row your boat) in which we all exhorted him to work his ass off in the next few months and that was it.     

Oh wait, no it wasn't. Before his teacher joined us I wrote that I thought he needed to work on following directions. He hotly contested my assertion and we were still arguing the point when Mrs I Like Her arrived at the table. We went through some other stuff and then she noticed that he felt he was good in Gym and she inquired about that. What do you do best in Gym, she asked.

"Well," said Patrick, gazing at her with eyes like limpid pools, "I am really good at following directions... ."

He amuses me.

PS BIts and pieces follow up post tomorrow re. furnace, vasectomy argument the final chapter, cocktail party recipes, my growing conviction that I probably should have gotten stitches in my thumb damn it... let me know if there is anything else I have left hanging and I'll try to catch up.  


Rats Desert the Cold Dark Ship

I noticed last night as I went up to Edward and then Caroline and then Edward and finally Edward again that their rooms seemed a bit chilly. Downright cold, actually, and I made a mental note to ask Steve what the deal was. Then I wondered if maybe I was getting sick because I felt so cold in our room that I cranked the electric blanket to HI and left it there. 

Around four in the morning Patrick started poking me on the arm. I opened my eyes to peer at him.

"I just woke up for some strange reason," he said "and it was like time has stopped in my room."

It was too early for a metaphysical discussion with anyone so I accepted his explanation without comment and moved over. He climbed into bed and I fell back asleep. By morning, however, it became apparent to even the meanest intelligence (mine) that our furnace is broken and the events of the previous night - Caroline's icy hands and Edward's desire to crawl into my pajamas and Patrick's certainty that there was a rift in the fabric of time - all made much more sense.

Steve refused to call a heating company until after he had driven to Home Depot, purchased a new thermostat, dismantled the old one and swore a bit. It took a few hours and the house grew colder and colder but at last his ritual was completed and we were able to crack open the yellow pages and call someone who actually knew... well, call someone. That someone had an appointment scheduled for noon but he promised to come to us as soon as he was done. I plugged in some space heaters, we added layers to the layers Caroline and Edward were wearing until they could no longer move their limbs and we hunkered down to wait. Then, the power went out.

"What have you done!" I asked Steve, horrified, but he claimed the electrical issue and the furnace issue were distinct from each other. He tried to call the power company repeatedly but got strange results. Fast busy, no tone, answer but immediately disconnected... it was odd. Steve decided to climb to the top of the hill behind our house where it is possible to get cell service and try from there. I waited for a bit and then picked up the phone to call my mother. No answer. Then I tried my brother's cell phone. No answer. I put the phone back down and it rang.

"Hello?"

"Yes?" said Steve from his cell phone on the hill.

"Yes what?" I said.

"You just tried to call me?"

"I did not!"

"Well, my cell phone just rang and caller ID said it was Home calling."

 "CREEPY!" we said together.

I have no idea what is going on but it seems like Patrick's explanation makes the most sense. Time has stopped at my house and it is affecting everything from the phone lines to the microwave. So I left in search of supplies (let's be honest - I left in search of internet access and warmth and possibly lunch) and it is reassuring to see that everyone at the library is behaving in a normal fashion. Clearly the anomaly is just restricted to our little hunk of paradise... FOR NOW *crashing minor chords*

After Steve gently removed my finger from the garage door opener (why wasn't it working, I wondered as I pressed again and again) and even more gently told me not to be an ass when I asked him to remember to move the space heaters back near baby jail when the twinks wake up from their nap; he asked that I hurry home. And I am. Look at me go.

Sigh.

We may and/or may not be temporarily relocating depending upon the next few hours and the status of the power, the heating, the phone lines... wish me luck. The idea of moving into a hotel room with three kids and one Steve makes me blench


Thumbs Up

How goes the party prepwork with my beautiful-but-scary birthday knives, you ask?

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Great!

Steve did the gauze and tape. Patrick provided the superfluous bandaid. He also left the following oblique commentary on the floor of his bedroom.

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Tours

Caroline and Edward succumbed to head colds and Steve came home from his trip a day early. That sentence makes it sound like his return was the result of a generous and loving impulse but it was actually a coincidence.

When I said over the phone, "The babies are being obnoxious and I think they are getting sick" - he replied, "Oh really?"

When he said, "I spent five hours in a tree this morning and I felt like I was inside a snowglobe and there were no deer at all anywhere and I am pretty sure I got frostbitten" - I replied, "Oh really?"

It is nice that we share our complete lack of mutual interest. But I was very glad to see him and he was very glad to be home and Caroline stopped sobbing onto my left shoulder in order to sob onto his; leaving me an extra arm with which to better console Edward who had been crying on my other side. True story. Steve walked in the door and found me sitting cross-legged on the floor of Baby Jail; two slimy, screaming babies plastered against me, one per arm.

"Aw," he said, "my beautiful family. How I missed this."

Apart from these times of great gunkitude and misery I have decided that it is still easier to have two babies than one. They're kind of like kittens that way. You can ditch them places (baby jail, exersaucers, high chairs) and because they are together they don't realize they are being neglected. Where a solo baby might think, "Hey, what is she doing over there by the oven? Having fun? The nerve!" Caroline and Edward just pity me. There they are with all the toys and Cheerios and I'm mucking around on the other side of the room like a sucker. What a chump she is, they think, and hand each other blocks to gnaw.

When they are on the loose they are invariably together; largely because Edward follows Caroline everywhere. He's her aide; her trusty side-kick.

When Caroline got into the toilet paper he advised against it but he did not abandon her to face the consequences of her actions alone.

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And the laundry basket incident? He was there for that too.

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Of course, he has his weaknesses as well; namely, cooking magazines. Edward is addicted to pulling these off the shelf in the kitchen. Then he delicately flips through the pages. I am convinced that not only will Edward sing; he will cook. He will live with me forever and when I am elderly he will escort me to the theater and he will never be too busy to whip me up something in a bisque. I can't wait. 

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PS Speaking of food, I asked Steve what he wanted to do for his birthday next month. Did he want a party? Yes, he said. Dinner or cocktail, I asked. Cocktail. Big or little? Big, he replied. We settled on a guest list of about fifty but he has subsequently added, I dunno, another ten or fifteen. He keeps emailing me addresses and I keep writing invitations. I haven't sent any yet because I apparently have a drawer full of 41 cent stamps but I suppose I will get around to upping the postage this week. Which begs the question: what should I feed them all? My plan is to set a table with various stuff. I also want to have some things to circulate. I made a couple dozen leek bacon and cheddar mini quiches yesterday and then another couple dozen tiny spanakopita triangles (spinach, feta, sundried tomato, black olives, lemon) tonight. I have a recipe for a smoked trout and apple roulade that looks good; and one for tomato bread pudding that came highly recommended. I was going to make more spanakopitas at some point and I want to do a vegetarian quiche option. I just sauteed a billion mushrooms and I thought that would go well with swiss cheese but I cannot settle on how to flavor them. Mushroom, swiss and... what? I figure if I start making and freezing things now I will be done in a month.

Any thoughts on what to make? This is more people than I am used to hosting and although they are all our friends and it doesn't have to be perfectperfect I would like it to be nice.       

PPS Huh. I just re-read this and realized that I never once mentioned babysitters, which is what I sat down to talk about. Next time.


Alarming

 Steve left yesterday for another long weekend that he will spend appreciating the magnificent changing foliage and the thwipppp sound an arrow makes as it zings from the bow. Technically he has been gone for about thirty-one hours but my calculations indicate that it has been just under eight years. My god I'm tired and my god our children are annoying. Why have I never noticed how demanding they are? Do you know that if you make eye contact with Caroline she will throw her hands up in the air and keep them there until you say, "How Biiiiiiiiiig is Caroline?" Then you have to clap and she will join you in applauding herself. This was precious the first fifty times today, adorable for another forty, cute for about ten and finally, frankly, pretty obnoxious. Also she is cutting a fang - no, seriously. a fang. she is about to produce her right canine as her first upper tooth and she will look like a badger - and she has dropped her previous aplomb in the face of teething in favor of nonstop neediness.

Patrick, meanwhile, spent ten minutes tonight doing nothing but leaning on me while I tried to read email. I pointed out that he had about half an hour until bedtime so perhaps he would like to go find something more constructive to do.

"No," he sighed.

So he leaned and I read and he leaned harder until he was resting all forty-plus pounds against me and I was this close to pulling my leg away really quickly which would no doubt have caused him to fall over and clunk his head. I didn't do it but, man, I was tempted.   

Edward... well, to be fair, Edward has been pretty charming today. Unlike his sister he is not an itty-bitty circus pony so his tricks are less showy. Caroline can clap and point and wave bye-bye and show you how big she is and do the hand gestures that accompany Open Shut Them in perfect time. Edward just smiles like a foreign exchange student when you ask him to do any of these things. However, he can sing (if I hold a note around G he will go "aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh" with me; not in tune of course but, still, he's trying - oh how I love him when he sings) and he will raise his hand when he wants something.

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I said, what is it, Horshack? He smiled wider. So I gave him some toast and he put his hand down.

I have mentioned before that the people who built this house were whackaloons when it came to home defense. There is the gate at the end the driveway, the interior motion sensors, the exterior motion sensors, the doors, the windows, the cameras... they were nuts and we inherited it all. Most of the time it's just sort of there; but when Steve is gone I find that I appreciate the fact that Homeland Security will show up within 90 seconds of a squirrel falling on our roof. It makes me sleep... well, I would sleep beautifully if Caroline wasn't teething and Edward didn't wake up every four hours regardless and Patrick hadn't moved into my bed again and spent the night kicking me and stealing my pillow.

So Patrick was in our bed and I am always cold. However, Patrick - like his father actually - is always hot. The fact that I had tucked him in and then tucked him tighter every time he kicked the blankets free resulted in my rolling over around midnight to find a sweaty mess of boy beside me. I thought, oh, I'll just crack the window a little and let some cool air in... whereupon the security alarm started blaring and I bit my tongue hard enough to draw blood.

I ran for the panel, entered the code and stood there in a pitch-black house with my heart racing. Then the phone rang and I had to bumble around the kitchen trying to find a handset. It was the security company: was everything all right? Yes, fine, codeword, I'm an idiot, sorry. Miraculously, none of the children woke up, my adrenaline finally receded and I went back to sleep. A couple of hours later I went up to Edward and as I fed him I noticed he was a little sweaty, too. Oh, I thought in my sleep hazed state, I'll just open the window and let some cool air in... AAAIIIIIIEEEEE! I set the stupid alarm off again. This time the security company noted that it was the second alarm that evening, was I certain I was fine? Yeah just tired, I said. After that Caroline was up, then Edward, then Caroline for good around 6:30. She had a dirty diaper so I changed her and then put her in baby jail while I started the kettle for a cup of tea. After much experimentation we have concluded the least offensive solution in our house with two children in diapers is to keep the diaper pail on the screened porch. So as I walked toward the kitchen I veered to toss the diaper outside and... I set the goddamned motherfucking alarm off. Again. Third time. Six hours. My theory is that subconsciously I was trying to get the alarm company to send over a babysitter. And doughnuts.

They did not. No wonder I'm so disgruntled.


Fable-ous

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was very happy with her new pink hair bow; despite the fact that she had been dressed that morning in such an unlikely combination of colors as to prompt her mother to inquire whether her father had intended for her to be the punchline of an unkind joke.

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Meanwhile her brother posed nearby, displaying how becoming an harmonious ensemble of green, blue and white can look upon a child dressed by his mother.

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So the little girl crawled over to ask how she wound up being styled by the naked mole rat while her brother glowed with quiet good taste; little realizing the danger into which her new pink hair bow was being placed.

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Wait. Hair bow? What hair bow? Where did it...

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Oh EDWARD!

The moral is that Caroline did indeed benefit from a hair clasp, as per your recommendation; unfortunately Edward stole it off her head and tried to eat it.

PS When I took this photo I wanted to capture one of the many beaming smiles Edward was shooting out in all directions. I did not realize that he was so happy because he had mistaken Caroline's pretty pink hair bow for something delicious and was in the process of trying to choke to death on it. If I had I would have put the camera down and rescued him sooner.

PPS Caroline looks like she is almost as tall as Edward, but it's just that she is standing on her tippy tippy tippy toes. She's quite good at it.

PPPS I thought maybe Steve might surprise me with a new camera for my birthday. As it turned out he got me a set of Japanese knives that are so beautiful I keep bowing to them but so terrifyingly sharp I am afraid to take them out of their sheaths. Either way my picture quality remains as poor as ever.

PPPPS As much as I deplore sexist generalizations I must ask: do you think the outfit that Caroline is wearing is attractive? DO YOU? And yet when I asked Steve what was with the brown and the pink and the brightly patterned yellow he merely looked confused. Because he has a penis.

~Fin~


Four Little Magics and Halloween

Steve's recent (misguided) foray into low-fat, high-fiber eating caused him to abruptly lose ten pounds last month. Maybe fifteen. His jeans would creep off his backside as he walked; revealing his underwear and forcing him to hoik his pants up a million times a day to keep from tripping. It made me feel like I was living at the Mall with one of those white suburbanites who think maybe they'd be gangstas if it they didn't have the hook up at PretzelTyme. Which is not how I want to spend the late late summer of my years.

I have been force-feeding him butter, but while I wait for it to take effect I decided to buy him some smaller pants. Jeans, actually, Levis, specifically, 560s, numerically - same thing he has worn for at least a decade. Medium blue. At least that was my intention but apparently styles change (!) and the popular sits-at-waist loose-fit tapered leg of 1998 has given way to all sorts of innovations that can only be expressed by new numbers like 559 and 514. The nice child in the menswear department told me that Steve's beloved 560s are now an internet-only item. Tsk. So I just grabbed a couple of pairs that looked about right and threw in some cargo pants and returned home.

Note: "loose fit, tapered" and "regular fit, tapered" sound like they should be similar, right? And yet Steve had to pull these things on with a shoe horn and when he was done he looked like an ice dancer. I laughed so hard I fell off the couch. He would have been more modestly attired if I had simply drawn on him with a blue marker. The jeans had to be returned so he tried on the cargo pants. They were more successful. Steve put them on with ease, gave a manly little shake, and then walked across the room. Stride, stride, pivot, hand in pocket and... huh.

Steve pulled a tube of used Chapstick out of the pocket of his brand-new pants. Then he reached into the other pocket and extracted a ballpoint pen. Further investigation revealed that all of the tags on his pants had actually been reattached using either white thread or loops of Scotch tape. He was repulsed (the Chapstick was rather... unpleasantly mauled) and said that obviously someone with poor oral control had bought these pants, worn them at least once, and then went to rather elaborate measures to return them again.

My theory, however - and I am sure you will agree with me - is that these are actually magic pants. Somewhere out there is the matching pair and some poor guy keeps reaching into his pocket for his Chapstick only to pull out Steve's handkerchief or car keys or the rock that Patrick asked him to keep forever. You always assume that magic would be vast and purposeful like flying or going back in time or shooting blue flames from your fingers but why? Why not something as prosaic as cargo pant pockets that act as a direct and mysterious conduit to... other pockets.

I kill me.

Steve, by the way, returned the jeans but kept the pants. He said they were comfortable and he was not obligated to use either the Chapstick or the pen simply because they were free.

+

Edward had some great appointments recently. I wrote about this at REDBOOK already but the pediatric opthamalogist said his eyes look much better and we do not have to come back for another two years. I'm not entirely sure how it worked since I am under the impression that iris cysts neither grow nor shrink nor disappear but she said they were much less oppressive and he appears to have full vision in both eyes. Maybe his eyes grew? Observationally I would say that his irises are just bigger than they were but I'm not sure if that could be true either. In any event Edward is no longer blind (he most likely couldn't see at all for the first couple of months - it caused concern) and we are pleased.

I took him back for another swallow study last week. This time they did not have to pin him down to check for reflux; they just had him sit in front of a fancy real-time xray while I gave him a bottle of barium. The fact that I was wearing a chin to shin lead apron to protect myself from radiation while Edward was just sitting there in a pair of cotton rompers gave me pause but what do I know? The good news is that he passed the swallow study and is back to normal liquids. He still seems to aspirate when he refluxes but the current prevacid dose is helping with that and I was so excited to get him off the rice cereal that I didn't want to push my luck by getting too nosy with the pathologist. As it is she said we do not need to come back unless we have concerns.

+

I have issues so forgive me if I relapse into euphemism here but I wanted to pass along something we have found useful. Edward was getting an enormous quantity of rice cereal daily and the effect was... binding. In the extreme. I found that a single serving of first stage baby prunes every day helped to manage the situation, mostly. Meanwhile, Patrick has had similar problems for years and years; to the extent that he has been on a small dose of Miralax for, well, years and years. However! We discovered a new Sunsweet product called PlumSmart that combines the efficacy of prunes with, I don't know, fairy dust, and extra fiber. It tastes a bit like cranberry juice and it has gotten and kept Patrick off both the prescriptive and over-the-counter drugs. It is amazing and I offer this for what it is worth; in case you are in need of digestive aid recommendations.

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Caroline is looking a little grubby in this picture but it is the only one I took of her (today) and I wanted to say look! see! Can you tell how much better her cheeks are? Well maybe you cannot tell from this picture but they are. All hail the miraculous Maalox-Aquaphor combination! She's still really bumpy etc but the inflammation is significantly reduced.

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I am very grateful for all of your skin suggestions, you know. Oh, and speaking of suggestions, what am I supposed to do about her hair? Patrick's hair is like Steve's and always just grew perfectly; so much so that we have never even brushed it. Caroline's is thick and yet wispy and it is growing straight into her eyes. I took a pair of scissors to the bangs a few weeks ago and it was... REALLY unbecoming. Hedge trimmers meet flowbee. I cannot bring my ten month old baby into a salon to have it dealt with by a professional; largely because I want a clear conscience as I stand before the guillotine and the crowd roars to hear of my excesses. Which leaves me throwing myself on your wisdom again. Is there some special trick to cutting baby hair that would enable even a styling half-wit like myself to keep the child from looking silly? Again. Silly-er.

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Two nights ago Patrick said he was worried about his Halloween costume. What if people do not know what I am, he fretted. I stared at him: "Did you actually think that ANYONE ANYWHERE EVER will be able to guess that you are supposed to be your imaginary cat friend Sassy dressed as the letter C?"

No, he said.

And do you care enough that we need to go shopping so you can be an easily identifiable pirate or something?

No, he said.

Well then.

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Because we live in Minnesota no one thought he was supposed to be a Clemson Tiger, which frankly would have been my guess. Patrick told one guy who asked that the C stood for "Concept". The guy said, "Ohhh well Happy Halloween there then."

You betcha. Man, I love Minnesota and everybody who lives here.

My friend and I drank wine and waited for trick-or-treaters while Steve and her husband took Patrick and their girls around town. We were shocked by the scarcity of visitors. Despite being a warm(ish) night and a Friday we saw about a third as many trick-or-treaters as years past. I have gotten similar reports from New England and DC. True? Did it seem light where you were?

Oh and Patrick's carpool buddies burst into my house on Friday afternoon and asked, "Is it true that Caroline and Edward are going as garden gnomes?"

I'm not sure if Patrick made this up or they did but I could just kick myself for not thinking of it myself. Next year. Totally. I can just see them in pointy little hats and beards. Delicious.