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August 2009

Tons-hell

I did not anticipate that Patrick would start fighting in the operating room, sobbing and pleading with me not to let them near him. I did not anticipate that they would not come and get me before he regained consciousness; so he woke up alone and frantic and by the time I got in there his eyes were swollen and red with misery. I did not anticipate the choking or the fact that the anesthesia made him claw at his face with his hands. I did not anticipate that he would be desperate to cough but be unable to do so and as a result he struggled for air until his face was dark purple and the veins on his neck stuck out like cords. I did not anticipate that he would vomit in the parking lot after being released, showering the side of the car with every last bit of the rainbow-colored popsicles he had obediently consumed despite having zero enthusiasm for them. And I did not anticipate that he would proceed to throw up repeatedly in the car or again at home... or again or again or again.

Fortunately, you had warned me about all of these things and while I was not truly expecting any of it I was somewhat prepared for it. As Patrick cried in the OR I remembered the comment Sarah left about how hard the same thing had been for her and her child. When he woke up in misery I was reminded of what Isa had told me about the choking and the blood and how it would get better as the anesthesia wore off. And Gina and Jennifer, to name just two, had warned about the nausea and vomiting; so I had brought in my purse a big Ziploc bag lined with a paper towel or two, as well as a stack of wipes and a change of clothes for Patrick. Cris had told me that outpatient means anything less than 24 hours but can mean as many as 23 and she reminded me how important it is to bring your own pillow if you are sleeping at the hospital. So I packed a just-in-case overnight bag and I remembered the pillow. It served a dual purpose because Patrick saw the bag with the pillow and asked about it as we were leaving. I said the plan was to come home after the surgery but any number of things might happen to change that plan and I wanted to make sure he had a lot of special things from home in that case. Patrick thought that sounded reasonable. We didn't need it but we had it and I was glad.

All of which is to say: Patrick had a hard day, I had a hard day; however, the blog comments that I had received prior to this hard day made it better for both of us - significantly, measurably - and I am  more grateful than I can say for your generosity in sharing your experiences.  

I made the BONEHEADED decision not to wake him up at 7:30 this morning for his next dose of tylenol with codeine. Yesterday he was not able to fall back asleep afterwards and I thought I would let him wake up on his own this time (I still woke him up last night at 11:30 and 3:30... why is it that they can make regular tylenol taste like bubblegum but the addition of codeine tuns it into battery acid? Patrick keeps wanting to punch me in the middle of the night.) When he finally got up at 10:00 he said his throat hurt. It was the first time in recorded history that he has ever said this. I think we can conclude that Patrick either has an insanely high pain threshold or he has diminished nerve function in that area for some reason. I asked him to rate his pain on that nifty hospital 0-10 scale - immediately after the surgery he was at 3.5, last night he was at 1/8. This morning after almost seven hours without pain killer he hit his all-time high of FOUR. I gave him more medicine and he ate a bowl of sorbet and another one of oatmeal. He seems to be eating better than ever although he obviously feels terrible. I guess giving him carte blanche was all he needed to be an enthusiastic diner.

Despite the, what, two hundred comments you guys left all more or less saying that the first couple of days can be very rough, I am surprisingly overwhelmed by this whole thing. Patrick is being... there are no words to describe the mood he is in. Awful? Godawful? That's during the day. At night he is pitiful and still sleeping in our bed. Yesterday afternoon he curled up in there around 4 and slept until almost ten. Then he was awake until one in the morning; I starting reading him Ribsy and did not even notice when he fell asleep and I just kept reading. Yes, last night I stayed up until 2 am reading a Beverly Cleary book - and not even the sublimely good Fifteen or the slightly less good but still ok Luckiest Girl. Nope. Ribsy. 

I feel drained and tired and I hate listening to Patrick's raspy breathing and watching him dissolve every five seconds.

So I have got nothing funny, nothing...

oh wait.

BEFORE surgery Patrick was in rare form.

My mother was flying in while he was in surgery so the plan was that she would come from the airport directly to the family waiting room. The nurse asked if I was alone. Patrick answered for me, saying yes, for now. The nurse said, oh who else is coming? Patrick said, well, if she (pointing at me) were me; then her (pointing at me again.)

I said, what?
The nurse said, what?

Patrick sighed and said, my mom's mom is coming.

++

The ENT asked if he has any questions.

Patrick said, "Yes. In your office you said you had removed 8000 tonsils. Was that 8000 individual tonsils or 8000 pairs?"

"Pairs," she said promptly, "so 16000 total."

"Have you ever removed just one tonsil?"

"Almost never and then only if the patient was already missing the other one for some reason."

"Have you ever considered removing half of each tonsil?"

"No."

"Did you just tell my mommy... my MOM... that you would probably remove the adenoids too?"

"Yes."

"But I have never had an issue with the adenoids before!"

"Actually you have. Your file shows that your adenoids were severely inflamed during your hospital stay. Also, removing the adenoids does not increase surgical risk or recovery time while keeping them in does increase risk of future illness. So if I think they need to go while I am in there I will take them out."

"Are you trying to kill me?"

"No. I have never killed a kid. Never. It is not happening."

"OK," said Patrick.

++

The anesthesiologist asked if he had any questions after telling him that he was going to "take a little nap" after breathing "some goofy gas" out of a "cool fighter pilot mask."

Patrick asked, "Do you still use ether?"

"Uh, no actually we use [long name] but it is a great great grandchild of ether. That and nitrous oxide to help relax you."

"Why did doctors stop using ether?"

"Well, the two major reasons were the incredible risk of fire associated with ether and the difficulty of controlling the dose."

"Did people used to wake up during surgery?"

"Uh, yes, I have heard that they did."

"Will I wake up during surgery?"

"No way."

I said, brightly, "Is nitrous oxide a combination of nitrogen and oxygen?"

"NO," said the anesthesiologist and Patrick in unison. Patrick looked mortified and said, "I think we're done here."

++

If I could I would curl up in a ball on your living room rug. This suuuuuucks.

In the meantime I am working through all of the non-traditional households stuff. THANK YOU. Your response was exactly what I was hoping for and I should have more than enough material once I interview gobs of you to write something interesting. It is, by the way, tentatively slated for January but I'll let you know when we get closer.

Speaking of writing, I have another request for interviews. This article is dear to my heart (for obvious reasons): I am looking for stories about close friendships that started online or, as my editor put it, ways that women have been able to use the internet to "find their own tribe." For me the starting point was infertility/pregnancy loss but I know there are about a billion other little subcultures out there and I would love to hear about them (as well - don't feel like you are being redundant if your friendships started with infertility too.) So if you met your very best friend or close group of friends through blogs or message boards or chat rooms or mailing lists or... YOU KNOW... and feel like talking to me please let me know. Send me an email or leave a comment. I am really looking forward to this one.

I know there was something else but... meh. I need to get back to Patrick. The eating is ok but he only seems to drink anything if I am sitting next to him offering sips every other minute.

This is hard. Hope you are well.

PS I got to use my voice recorder last night. It was totally cool.

PPS I just asked this at Scrambled but... any protein suggestions for a kid who hates eggs?


For Posterior-ity

I don't even know what Steve and Patrick were discussing down on their end of the table (dining with Caroline and Edward, acrobats in training, is a harrowing experience) but I heard Steve say, "Because I am the decider."

Then he laughed and said, "That's not really a word. The former president used it once and got some grief because it isn't really a word."

"Oh," said Patrick.

Steve looked thoughtful. "Now what was that other word he made up*?"

I shrugged and pushed Edward back into his seat while trying with my other hand to prevent Caroline from doing a back-flip.

"What WAS it? What was that word the president came up with? It... it is almost... ."

"Shitting?" Patrick offered, helpfully. Then he saw our expressions and blushed.

"What?" he said. "I just made that up. I mean, didn't I? I did!"

Trying very very hard not to laugh I said, "No that is an actual word and it is not a very nice word and it is not a word a seven year old is allowed to say and it is absolutely not a word a seven year old is allowed to say at the dinner table."

Patrick blushed even more deeply and said, "Ohhhhh right, I forgot the swear part."

He went back to eating.

"But... I am not going to say it again... but THAT word... it was made up by a president, wasn't it?"

"Probably."

+

I don't have many moments of maternal greatness but I feel pretty confident on the whole naughty language front. At some point during first grade Patrick came home fascinated by swear words. Specifically his ongoing theological debates with young Whatsit had led to his being somewhat misinformed about what constitutes profanity. For instance he had it on good authority that, and I quote, when you show someone your middle finger it means you do not love God.

I get where Whatsit's parents and/or youth group leaders were going with this, really I do, and I have no problem whatsoever with the sharing of same, but in our family the middle finger most often means that you are going 54 mph in the left hand lane; personal relationships with a Creator having nothing to do with it. Further conversation elicited that Patrick was a little murky on such things as "stupid" and "butt" and a whole host of other words that might be inappropriate in certain situations but are not necessarily completely forbidden (you may recall my own kindergarten struggles in this arena.) So one night I sat in his bed with him and I took him through the whole gamut of swear words from the innocuous to the really really Big Ones. I said them. I explained them (sort of. I am only human and "fuck you" does also mean that you are really mad at someone.) I told him that in my opinion people who swear just aren't creative enough to come up with better ways to express themselves (AHEM. do you ever marvel at the incredible hypocrisy of parenthood?) And that was the end of the fascination with Words We Do Not Say.

Where was I? Oh yes, Bush invented profanity. The World According to Patrick.       

So, about two years ago I got assigned my very first actual magazine piece. I was very excited and I realized that I was going to have to interview people for it. Actual interviews of actual people for an actual magazine article. I further realized that my shorthand is not what it was back in 1937 so I would need to record these interviews somehow and that some of them might be over the phone. In my hour of need I did what many generations of journalists have done before me... I went to Radio Shack. At the time I was exactly 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant with Caroline and Edward and a little tippy on my pins. As I crossed the parking lot I suddenly tripped. My cell phone went flying, my purse scattered and I landed, hard, on my side. I will never forget the care with which the car coming at me slowed down enough to drive around me and keep going. THANKS KIND STRANGER. I mean, yes, thank you for not running me over but really? Not so much as an Are you ok?

Anyway, I stood up, looked with dismay at the fact that the only pair of maternity jeans that fit me were torn, found my phone and my purse and went into Radio Shack to buy my recorder. Then I drove to pick up Patrick from kindergarten and sat in the parking lot while I breezily called my OB's office to say, no big deal but I fell and I am contracting... see ya. Fast forward fourteen hours and I was in a hospital bed hooked up to machines and loaded with terbutaline and half the room was getting ready to transport me to the nearest hospital with an adequate NICU and the other half of the room was trying to get the contractions to stop.

The next morning I was shaking so hard my eyes were rattling in my head and I was uncertain as to whether we would be having babies that week. I tried to get my life in order as I started bed rest and among other things I sent a message to my editor saying that I was terribly sorry but I was not going to be able to write the article after all.

[22 months later...]

Today I spent hours trying to figure out where in the hell (whoops) where in the halliburton the voice recorder had wound up. I knew it wasn't still in the car. We don't even own that car anymore. But as I tried to reconstruct the events of that day with a focus on the Radio Shack bag rather than, oh say, my guinea pig sized twinkles... I was at a loss.

I thought and thought and I looked and looked and finally I gave up. Then as I was getting a bedroom ready for my mom (whose long-planned visit is fortunately/unfortunately coinciding with Patrick's tonsillectomy) I decided to cram something into the guest room window seat rather than take it to the basement where it belongs and voila! The voice recorder! Buried under a pile of wrapping paper rolls and still in its black plastic bag. I am pretty sure that this has never before happened to me in my entire life. Usually I lose something at least until after I have gone to the trouble and expense of replacing it.

So I have a favor to ask. As of this morning I yet again have an article to write (yay!) and I could use some help with it. I was interested in exploring the creative ways in which people are building non-traditional households. There is a nod here to what my mother calls These Days, meaning a tightened economy, but I want to highlight the positive aspects of such things as multi-generational family homes or roommates who are able to help each other with co-parenting. Or even college students eschewing the dorm to live at home. Military spouses living together or with family during a deployment? I don't know. I am sure there are lots of possibilities. I have a handful (a big handful but still) of people lined up to interview but I would love to widen my approach. So if you (or someone you know well enough to shove my way; or vice versa) are currently or have recently been in a living situation that does not resemble a 1950s sit-com leave me a comment or email me. Then we can chat. Like on the phone (or in person I guess if you're local.) Just you me and my miraculously recovered voice recorder.

PS Oh, also, any realtors? Family counselors/life coaches/financial planners who are seeing this with their clients? Lemme know.     

*Misunderestimated was the word for which Steve was groping. Not shitting.

PPS The hospital called to set up Patrick's surgery time. Toward the end of the call the nurse said he would be kept overnight. My understanding was that it was outpatient and he would, barring any complications, be coming home the same day. I called the ENT's office and the nurse said they almost always send them home but she was unsure if there were different instructions left for Patrick specifically. She was going to call back but has yet to do so. I want to prepare Patrick for his procedure but I do not want to freak him the freak out unnecessarily. Under the murky circumstances would you tell him he is staying the night or he might be staying the night or just leave it with the understanding that he is coming home afterwards? He hated the hospital stay SO. MUCH.                      


If Yes Then No

Patrick woke me up this morning to tell me that Caroline had just said "cat" with the 't' perfectly articulated at the end. Actually what he said was, "Mommy! Caroline just said "cat" like a normal person! Don't you want to wake up and hear her?"

My family has an unerring ability to make me feel like I stumbled home from the casino at 5 am having forgotten to pick up any milk or generic toilet paper - again. Patrick is especially good at it; like when he lifted Caroline up so she could peer under the pillow covering my face and said, "You remember Mommy; don't you Caroline?" Steve rushed in smelling like sunshine and pancake batter and said reproachfully, "Oh Patrick! You know Mommy is still sleeping. We haven't even finished breakfast yet." And EddyBear stumped through the door behind Steve and said, "Car? Up? Go? Yo-Yo?" which no doubt was also intended to convey disdain over the fact that I was still in bed with the best of a bright and beautiful morning already behind us.

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. I thought that once the twinks stopped waking me up every night I might become a little more of a morning person than I have been for the past two years, maybe, but... no. Now I am just a slightly less puffy insomniac getting six straight hours of sleep.

I wish I could do a neat little flowchart here because I want to go in three different directions:

- Patrick drives me crazy. Quite often. But to give credit where credit is due he is without question the greatest big brother ever created (rivaling my own big brother - and that's saying something.) He could not be any prouder of or more invested in Caroline and Edward's accomplishments if he had constructed them himself out of playdoh.

Last night Caroline stood up in her chair for the twentieth time. Steve, also for the twentieth time, said, "Caroline, sit down and eat." The first nineteen times she sat back down and giggled, or at least squatted a little lower in the chair. This time, however, she put her hands on her hips and thundered*, "NO!" And pointing at Steve she repeated, "No! No! No!" Then she stood there (STOOD there) with her chin stuck out at a belligerent angle.

Steve and I were speechless, having missed the whole toddler jerkface stage the first time around.

Patrick, however, beamed.

"Wasn't that the cutest thing you have ever heard in YOUR ENTIRE LIFE?"

* well... "thundered"... Caroline sounds like a pixie on helium. Edward has a fairly deep voice for a little kid. They are two very different gerbils

-- Edward had a mini language explosion this week and has added new sounds. He is also at least trying to scrape a consonant onto the end of some words rather than letting them gargle off any old way. We can understand him a little better and we are highly amused to discover that he converses like an abecedary.

"Apple?" he says. "Boat. Book. Bear. Car. Dog. Duck. E! E! Flower. Frog**... ." And so on until you get to his new favorite word, yo-yo, an item which he has never actually seen. You would be amazed at how often yo-yo can come up in conversation when you aren't too particular about context or narrative flow. My friend Noelle was over the night and she was drawing things for Edward on a Magnadoodle, which is when we discovered that he can identify roughly half of the letters in the alphabet. Suddenly all of his late evenings with Patrick's handed down books and a nightlight make sense.

Patrick, it almost goes without saying, is thrilled by what he considers to be a right and proper interest in letters and promptly began drilling Edward on the other half of the alphabet using a book he wrote this morning for that express purpose.

IMG_5658_2

I love Patrick's prissy lip compression in this picture. Very School Marm.

I tried giving Edward and Caroline a little water in an open cup today. You can see that Edward is still wet. How do kids learn that skill, again? Is there a trick to it? I am pretty sure I just gave Patrick a sippy cup until... forever.

** Ah-puh. Boh-ut. Buh. Bah. Cah-ur. Dah. Duh. E! Whuh-whuh. Fuh... and yo yo.

--- Someone left a comment on the last post saying that Caroline bears a striking resemblance to Susan Boyle. I have deleted maybe five comments in the past six years and that was one of them. Not that I don't think Susan Boyle looks very nice, I do, it was just that I suspected that the comment was not intended to be complimentary. I don't know, maybe I was wrong. I try to be appreciative of the fact that an open blog with zero comment deletion presents so many more opportunities for learning and growth and realizing that I am wrong about things but I read that one and my teeth snapped shut and the next thing I knew... zing! I had deleted the comment.

Personally, I think she is the cutest thing I have ever seen in MY ENTIRE LIFE. Just ask Patrick.

IMG_5599_2

 Previous Post Round-up:

Thank you so much for the tonsil help. I really appreciate it. I especially was thankful for all of you who assured me that we are doing the right thing. I realize I did not say in so many words that I was waffling but it must have been obvious that I was biting my nails over this decision. So thank you. Also thanks for all the book and movie thoughts. I got Frank Asch's Cardboard Genius (Patrick pronounces this word with a hard G - Gee-nuous. I find this fact mildly hilarious) from the library and Patrick read the entire thing in the car. He loved it. I am also looking into Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl and... I don't know. Lots of others. I opened the library catalog page in one window and the comments in the other.

And I loved that Sally mentioned her son was also hesitant with non-animated movies and that it helped to read the book first. I had an awwwwww connection moment (Patrick's teacher used to press both her index fingers to both her thumbs and interlock them for "connections" - Patrick still does this when he puts two previously unlinked ideas together in his mind, like putting Tupperware over Caroline's head and calling it a space helmet - connection!)   

Going even further back I randomly stuffed series suggestions from you into our Netflix queue and we have been watching some new stuff. Well, first we watched a new season of old stuff because I had not realized that the next season of Weeds was out. Oooooooh! Ooooooooh, I say.

Although

*please don't read this if you have never watched Weeds but plan to do so*

I try hard not to randomly judge other people's parenting but I have a really hard time letting go and enjoying Nancy Botwin's antics when she makes these HORRIBLE maternal decisions. Good GOD. 

It's funny and entertaining and I want to rescue her children and set appropriate boundaries for them. Does that make me all middle aged and Lovejoy? It must.

We tried the first season on Pushing Daisies and I wanted to somehow cast Zooey Deschanel as the lead. Not that she doesn't have better things to do, and not that the show was without its own charm, but it began to gnaw at me. Also, the pie maker had a lopsided sincere smirk thing that bugged me.

I know we are supposed to try The Wire. We want to try the Wire. But... is it over-the-top horribly unnerving like Oz or just kinda gritty unnerving like the first few seasons of the Sopranos? Please advise.

I have a few new recipes up at Scrambled and I think I am getting a better grasp on photographing food. The new blog has become my creative outlet. Steve said, I thought your normal blog was your creative outlet? I said, no, my normal blog is like my best friend. Steve said, that is very very sad.

Kisses.

PS They have not yet hired one of the four teachers who might be Patrick's homebase teacher next year. We got the educational equivalent of a Save the Date card from the school; like, this is the letter that would be telling you about your child's teacher for the upcoming year but it isn't and here's why. I suspect Meet the Teacher night is going to be a surprise for everyone including the teacher. I think we should go the reality show route - bring in 12 candidates to Meet the Teacher and then eliminate them one by one as they deal with such challenges as: How do you get a puking kindergartener into the Childrens Theater bathroom without abandoning the rest of your class in the lobby? How do you teach reading to 31 K-1 students when they range in ability from picture books to chapter books, two speak English as a shaky second language, five have aggressive helicopter parents (Hiiiii!) and three didn't get breakfast? I doubt the principal will take my suggestion though.

Two years ago I would have been breathing into a paper bag over not knowing who Patrick's teacher might be. See how I have mellowed like cognac?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Aw He-ctomy

Five days after Patrick was released from the hospital we went to his pediatrician for a post-antibiotic deluge tonsil check. The upshot was that Patrick needed to stay inflammation free for about a month after which time his doctor would be willing to consider the severe bacterial infection more of a fluke and less of a trend. Patrick circled the day on the calendar.

Four and a half weeks later the pediatrician and I were peering into Patrick's mouth and tsk'ing over the scarlet and white masses that were on the verge of strangling his uvula.

"I agree," said his doctor, "his tonsils are enlarged again."

Patrick knows that his pediatrician said that he would give him one more shot with antibiotics to clear out those tonsils and after that he would probably need to get them taken out. That was even before he wound up in the hospital.

Patrick said, "OH NO!"

Patrick pointed out that it had been more than a month since he was sick the last time.

Patrick started to cry.

Despite all of these things his pediatrician called the ENT (the same one who treated Edward when he kept trying to drown himself in two ounces of milk. I really like her) and said he had a kid about whom he was worried. She agreed to squeeze Patrick in as soon as she could and today we saw her for a consult.

Actually, before we saw her I made three major directional errors (for those of you with a pop-up map of the Twin Cities in front of you, picture this: the appointment was in downtown Saint Paul and the mistakes I made forced me to make not one but two U-turns; one at the airport and one at the Mall of America. bear in mind that I approach Saint Paul from the east, which means I overshot things by about ten miles. yes. I know. I am an idiot.) Once we finally arrived at our appointment I discovered that I had gotten the time wrong and we were an entire hour early. Then I lost my parking ticket. Twice. When we returned at the actual appointment time after having lunch the receptionist asked "Are you checking in?"

Patrick said, "I have no idea what we are doing today. Going in circles mainly."

The ENT read over her notes from the pediatrician, listened to me explain what happened in the spring and early summer, and then took a look at Patrick's throat. 

It is always helpful when you show up with a handy visual, so the fact that Patrick is waltzing around like a dandelion seed in May despite his significantly inflamed tonsils made a nice counterpoint to his claim that he is Capital F-I-N-E Fiiiiiiiiiiine.

She said there is a clinical something something in which white blood cells simply cease to function in the presence of chronic infection. She said it appears that Patrick is playing host to a perpetual low-grade whatsit and that additional antibiotics would most likely be ineffective. She acknowledged that she has no crystal ball but in her considered opinion Patrick will continue to cycle through tonsillar infections of varying severity with the unlikely but possible risk of another hospital stay. She said she has seen several many dozen thousand tonsils and that she thinks Patrick will be healthier if his come out.

Patrick was sitting in the exam chair that looks a lot like a very old-fashioned dental ditto.

As she made her recommendation his eyes swam with tears, he gripped the seat arms and he said, brokenly, "This... this is not what we were hoping to hear."

I said, "Patrick, I... "

He waved one hand and dropped his face into the other. "I'll need a minute," he said.

Somewhere in the imaginary distance a violin held its plaintive note. 

I said, "Patrick, baby, I know it is a little scary right now but it will be ok. And I really don't want you getting so sick again. Neither do you."

The ENT told him exactly what she would do and how it would all go and feel. She admitted that he would have a very sore throat for a week. His major worry was the IV (god he hated that IV in June) and he was marginally reassured when she told him they would give him "goofy gas" (he liked this) and he would be unconscious when they put the IV in this time. Still, he wept as she talked.

He was mostly silent as she went through her description of the procedure and expected recovery times. When he did speak it was to make morbid observations, like, "But everyone at school will know I am not like them! I will walk among them... BUT I WILL HAVE NOOOOO TONSILLLLLSSS!"

At that point I stopped feeling quite so guilty because clearly he was enjoying himself on some level. When she asked if there was anything she said that had sounded confusing or especially scary he said, "I'm sorry but I haven't liked a single word you said since you walked in the room."

She was halfway out the door when she looked back at Patrick, still crying in the chair. She came over. She bent down.

She said, "Sweetie. When I was just about your age my parents decided not to have my tonsils taken out. And I missed every class trip. Every class party. My mom had to keep picking me up because I was sick again. And when I was seventeen I knew I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to medical school and I knew that I could not keep missing school. So I had my tonsils out when I was seventeen and it... it was pretty hard because I was older and bigger. And when I went to med school I decided that no kid was going to go through what I went through. I really think that if we don't take your tonsils out now you are going to be sitting here when you are seventeen telling me you don't want to be sick anymore. And I don't want that. OK?"

Patrick stopped crying and said, "OK."

He is going in a week from Thursday. I feel bad for the poor little pumpkin but I believe that he is being worn down by battling a chronic infection and I am hopeful that his iron ability to disregard throat pain (to this day he has never ever once said his throat hurts) will serve him well.

Any tonsil experience to share? We (and by we I mean everyone I know - I just asked) have never had our tonsils out and are unsure how it will be. I could also use some recovery time help, namely: book suggestions (let's say ages 7 to 11 range?) movie suggestions (Patrick loves Tom & Jerry right now. also this is probably weird but Patrick has never watched a non-animated film. I think he is probably due although he prefers the sweet security of Pixar) and sit around on the floor while your throat hurts suggestions (my brother sent K'nex for his birthday. wow! highly recommended with the caveat that they are NOT for kids who are not pretty savvy with spatial relations. I literally could not follow the diagrams and I am 37 - of course I get lost when I drive to a hospital I have only been to like twenty times.) Oh and food! What sounds good when your throat hurts?

Hey, can you tell I am sort of stressed about this? I mean, look at him driving his brother around. He's so full of life! And tonsils! (oh golly, you can see his weird swollen lymph thing even in this picture, can't you?)

IMG_5147 

And Caroline, just because.

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PS And for you, Patrick likes to read lots of things: A-Z mysteries, Weird School, Weird Planet, the Littles, he just started the Warriors series, very abstruse astrophysics stuff but ignore that, Calvin & Hobbes of course... I am drawing a blank.


Four point

Estrella

We woke Patrick up just before midnight on Tuesday and took him outside to watch the Perseid meteor shower with us. It would have been better a few hours later and many many miles further away from shopping center light pollution but it was still pretty and cool.

Patrick was pleased.

Pipistrelle

The people who built this house put a double-sided gas fireplace between the living room and the entryway. When we moved in six years ago we made the dual discovery that: 1) the glass panels get so hot they could sear tuna; and 2) the ignition for the pilot light is wired to a wall switch that even a very short child can reach on his or her tippytoes. So we disconnected it. A few years later we had a guy out to see whether it might be possible to convert the gas fireplace to a woodburning one; partly because I prefer a nice wood fire and partly because we are completely surrounded by trees here; trees that fall over. So the guy looked at the chimney and the hearth and the floor and gave us two quotes, one was for what it would cost to convert the fireplace from gas to wood; the other was for what it might cost to tear the house down and rebuild. They were comparable.

So we have this (temporarily; say another five years until we can be mostly sure the children will not get first degree burns from the glass) useless fireplace in the living room. Recently Patrick noticed its resemblance to a fish tank and suggested that we could fill it with water and aquatic life. Because it would be so educational for the babies, he said. Patrick has twigged to the fact that I have a weak spot for him when he is all brotherly so he tends to frame outrageous requests under the broad mantle of philos adelphos. Regardless, I said no. He asked why not. I said because the fireplace is not remotely watertight and aquariums require a lot of special equipment and even if neither of these things were true it is impossible to actually get inside the glass space without prying off the metal surround so there would be no way to get fish in and out. Finally, I said, nobody wants to squat in front of our fireplace and watch things flit around in there.

It is almost like Fate and Patrick have worked out an arrangement so that a week never goes by without my being forced, grudgingly, to admit that I was wrong about something.

Yesterday a bat - a very very cute chocolate brown bat with bright button eyes and weird webbed wing hands - got trapped in the fireplace and the children and I spent the entire day sitting on our sit-us-down-upons watching the bat flit around in there. He hung upside-down. He crawled on the fake logs. He ate a mosquito. We were all entranced. Well, almost all of  us. Edward came over during the initial excitement, peered at the bat, then retreated to the far corner of the living room and started reading a book. Every time someone would mention the bat he would smile and say "Bah" and point to the fireplace but he was not going back over there. I could read his thoughts as clearly as if he had written a treatise on the subject: maybe this bat was friendly, maybe it wasn't; seemed to him the prudent course was one of caution. Caroline, having not a single thread of wariness in her entire body, was beside herself with glee and served as a one woman bat welcoming committee. "Hi Bat! Hiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaeeee!" she waved and cooed. She tried to give it raisins by smashing them into the glass. She kept bringing her music over to share until I confiscated the player (I assumed that bats need sleep. also that bats have very sensitive oversized bat ears.) When she started to cry I hauled her into Steve's office.

Steve looked at the screaming Caroline and then at me, like why I was I bringing him a crying child when he was trying to work?

"She was bothering the bat," I explained.    

"Oh," he said.

Overnight the bat escaped up the chimney again - which is good, although I miss him - and Patrick this morning suggested we could keep hamsters in there. I actually hesitated for a fraction of a second.

Dah!

I always wonder when I read about other people's toddlers and their cutey-cute expressions (that sounded snarky but it is sincere. I really do love reading about other people's kids and their SCOOZmepeaz's and whatnot) whether they actually say excuse me please or, you know, scoozmepeaz.

Patrick had a speech delay of epic proportions. When we finally took him to be evaluated at two and a half he was below the fifth percentile for expressive language. The speech pathologist warned us ahead of time that kids often under-perform during evaluations and that it was better to skew a little low and qualify for services etc. I think she was used to parents freaking out when their child was deemed to be subnormal. During the eval Steve and I sat there while she had Patrick identify things on cards: "dog?" "DA" "rabbit" "DADA" "strawberry" "DUHDA."

She then looked at us.

"Is this about what you get at home?" she asked, delicately.

Steve and I were beaming, like, "Yes! Isn't he great! We are so sorry to be wasting your time!"

She looked at us with pity and then booked Patrick into speech therapy, twice a week. She told us that it might take a few years... .

As it so happens it was a terrific experience, our health insurance covered it, Patrick loved his pathologist and he was out in six months speaking mellifluously of dogs, rabbits, strawberries and the joys of selling seashells by the seashore.

And then I never thought about it again until I made a discovery during Patrick's weeks of fever and swollen glands. Why I had never before asked him to stick out his tongue I have no idea but it was only a couple of months ago that I did so and I suddenly realized that Patrick has a tongue like a lily pad. It is very blunt and the frenulum is connected so far in the front that the moment his tongue pokes in front of his teeth it gets pulled back in the middle. I looked at it and thought AH HA! No wonder he sounded like he was speaking with a mouth full of gumballs. My second thought was that I wanted to go back and STRANGLE that lactation consultant from seven years ago. I TOLD HER it was the baby's fault that breastfeeding was a neverending ordeal of incredible suffering and that he was always hungry and I never got to sleep more than an hour and I hated it. How we did it for a year I will never know but we did. Oh right, because it all got much better after eight weeks. Anyway. I still think a little clipping of the ol' tongue-tie might've gone a long way. But that is all wa-wa-water and buh-buh-bubbles under the buh-buh-bridge. I forgive. Mistakes on both sides (hers and Patrick's, with me as the innocent victim) no doubt.

The reason I bring this up is because Edward sounds just like Patrick did. Caroline says "Baaaa-tuh" for bat. She says, "Teeeeeef" for teeth. She says, "Gooooo nonnah buhleeduhnow fuh dassen?" for something; we have no idea what but she sure is a chatty little thing. And she has this poky pointy agile little tongue with which you could slice cheese. Edward's tongue is like an Oreo cookie and his words all begin and end at the back of his throat. "Cah" (car) "Crah-cah" (cracker) "dah" (dog) "dah!" (star) "kwah" (square) "cahcah" (circle)... huh. Edward is really into shapes. Shapes and cars. First he walked. Then he started running everywhere. Now he has his riding trike push car thing he rides. He rides from the living room to the bedroom, the bedroom to the kitchen... he's such a suburbanite. Why walk when you can drive?

Where was I?

Oh right. I cannot decide if this is just normal (or normal for him) speech development or if I should be more proactive this time and have someone listen to him before he develops his own vowel-based language like Patrick did: Oh mama nah ah duh ahn! (Look, Mother! The light is on!)  

Nineteen months: are they supposed to sound like Edward or like Caroline? Please advise.

I requested a book on seven year olds ("Your Seven Year Old: Life in a Minor Key") that Angela recommended in the comments on the last post. Today I took the children to the library and I picked up my reserved copy and Patrick got a stack of things that looked good to him (Asterix ho! some odd looking mouse-based comic book - not Maus, I checked lest I accidentally find myself trying to explain the Holocaust at 11:30 one night; The physics of compact objects - my mother firmly believed that it did not matter what children read as long as they were reading; Captain Underpants kills me, you know, but Patrick thinks it is funny.) I let him use the self-checkout machine because it is fun but as he got to the book on seven year olds his hand froze.

"What is this?" he asked.

I blushed. I actually blushed.

"Is this a book to help you figure out how to get me to do what you say all the time?"

"Yes," I said. And I narrowed my eyes at him. He opened his mouth. Shut it. Then scanned the book and I put it in the library bag.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I actually blushed.

Starred

Books. I saw a friend at the library and asked how she was. She said she was struggling to find a good book to take camping. I asked what she wanted. She said, fluffy? Light?

I thought for a minute and said, "Ohhh! What you want is 'To Say Nothing of the Dog'. Not fluffy exactly but very charming and delightful. And, incidentally, the library has a slim and campable paperback copy."

This was a book that you recommended to me on bed rest and it was such a perfect book for the occasion that I take great pleasure in passing it on (the recommendation; not the book. I never get books back so I am never loaning that one out.) I have an ad up for two books right now. The, um, Buttafucco story? Did I even spell that right? I saw that and had to think for a minute before I realized that she must be that poor woman who was shot in the face by her idiot husband's idiot underaged girlfriend. Did she stay with him after that or something equally horrible, do you know? I did get the other book, The Eight, out of the library because I liked the cover. I have read the first ten chapters and it's fun so far. I'll let you know what I think when I am done.

So I am reading that and a manuscript that one of Steve's business partners has written. I am taking a really long time with the latter because it's so far from what I would usually read (like oh my god soooooooo faaaaaaaaar - think serial killings) and I keep trying to decide if I should make helpful notes as I go or just get through the whole thing and then go back and be helpful. He asked for it, by the way. The help I mean. I'm not just taking a pen to his life's work at random. But a serial killer. Slow going.

What are you reading? Is it good?      

PS Good GRIEF. I cannot believe I forgot the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. I just finished the first five books (written for young adults but who cares?) and gave them to Steve to read and we both enjoyed them so much we adjusted our austerity budget to enable us to order the next three books in the series from the only place they are available... Australia. Adventure books, well written and well told. Also, my dear friends down under, you probably know this already but DAMN do you pay a lot for your reading material.


PPS I have gotten into my food blog a bit and I am really enjoying it. I appreciate the comments from those of you who have taken a look, so thank you. Tonight's recipe: mint lime and vodka cocktails.


Cubed

I am having second thoughts about the Chicco chairs. Not about whether Caroline is going to break her neck if we continue to use them (with her it is not so much the table crawling that Edward does as the fact that she started standing up in the seat to dance) but whether my expectations for the chairs were in excess of reason. I keep thinking about my nephew who started escaping from his crib at some crazy early age. Fourteen months? Fifteen? My brother and his wife were afraid he would hurt himself so they ditched the crib and moved him into a toddler bed that was about an inch off the ground. Then they spent a horrible month holding the bedroom door shut while my nephew pounded on it and wept because he was no longer in bed and he wanted to come out and play. Eventually they all adjusted and it never occurred to anyone to return the crib. After all, it wasn't the crib's fault that the kid was some kind of mini MacGyver.

A few of you suggested that maybe Caroline and Edward are just past the point where they can be expected to not turn cartwheels on the dinner table. I said no no no no no no no no no and began to weep quietly but I suppose it is possible. The new Regalo seats arrived from Amazon and although they have a shoulder harness Caroline instantly shrugs herself free of it. I think if she really put her mind to it she could be completely out of these new seats too. However (loose shoulder harness notwithstanding) it would be a lot harder for her. These seats hang much lower on the table and they are more cheaply constructed (not surprising as they cost half as much as the Hippo Hanging Chair) which is actually a positive because the floppiness makes it difficult for the twins to get a foothold; imagine using a sagging director's chair to reach the highest shelf in your kitchen. In contrast the Chicco seats were very sturdy and Edward in particular used the frame to support himself while he lunged up and out. 

So I think the new seats will work for a while and now I am waffling on whether my irritation with Chicco was unfounded. Does a seat belt thing need to actually keep a kid seated or is there just a natural life cycles to these things that varies by child? Do you want to know how long Patrick slept in a crib? Until he was three. I found Caroline the other day with both feet and both hands on the crib railing, her face was pressed against the bars and her bottom was a good twelve inches off the mattress - it was a classic uneven bars move and she was very good at it. However, as soon as she gets taller and a little more creative I think she will change position to vault upwards and out she'll go. And when she does it will I call the crib company in a huff? Of course not. On the other hand, the seat has a lap restraint! Shouldn't it restrain? What do you think?

Caroline refused to nap today. She wasn't rude about it; she just went into her crib for an hour to play and then proceeded to jabber more and more loudly until she cried. When I went into get her I was met with a celebration to rival that which greeted the American liberation forces in Paris - it's hard to tell a child to go to sleep when she has been in there for almost ninety minutes and she is looking at you with her hands clasped together in exultant deliverance.

... I was just trying to come up with that classic line delivered by some journalist or (Mencken? no couldn't be) or somebody (I don't remember) who watched as the soldiers marched down the Champs Elysée in 1944 and observed, "Any GI who doesn't get laid tonight is either [I can't remember] or [I can't remember this part either.]" I was trying to get the actual quote and instead I googled my way into a BBC article from April which discussed the fact that de Gaulle wanted the first troops in Paris to be French and the British and Americans insisted they be white. But since the majority of soldiers fighting for France by 1944 were Africans this was a challenge. So they eventually located an armored division in Morocco that was 75% white and they decided this would work since they only had to substitute a quarter of the soldiers ... it is so hideous and shameful and repugnant I don't know what to say. Talk about ruining the liberation for me. I hope to god no one can ever does anything to denigrate the little ships of Dunkirk. I was talking to Patrick about the rescue at Dunkirk one day over dinner and I became so choked up that I could no longer speak. After a pause Patrick asked, "Um, were you THERE?" in a way that let me know I was embarrassing not only myself but the rest of the people at the table; namely him...

So. Caroline. No nap today. I am coming to the conclusion that we need to do something about Caroline's sleep schedule since she is currently doing a credible impression of me, circa college. We have to wake her up in the morning for breakfast otherwise she will sleep until 9:30, easy. She and Edward take a nap (usually) around 1 and we have to wake her up again at 4. This is all good and well but by bedtime she is wide awake and ready to, I dunno, tend bar or something. She will play and talk in her crib until 9 or 10 when she gets fractious. I go up and turn on some music for her and she usually drifts off by eleven. Since she has been in her crib at that point for about four hours... I've been getting letters from Amnesty International. The logical solution would be to curtail the naps but I LIKE naptime. Of course I like bedtime, too, or I would if it was just Edward. Edward is like one of those dolls who eyelids shut when they go past 45°. He still wakes up at intervals all night long but he no longer feels the need to summon me to experience this with him so I don't care. He is up for good at 8:30, takes a solid three hour nap every day and goes down like an oyster at 7:30.

All hail Edward.

Say hi, Edward.

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I know I should not say this about my own child but MY GOD he is SO PRETTY.

Edward likes cars. I mean, Edward REALLY likes cars.

"Cah?" he says. "Cah cah cah?" 

He likes to ride in the car. He likes to point to other cars as we drive. He finds cars in books. He fell asleep with two little cars last night, one in each hand.

I would say that he is indulging in a boy's wheeled passion and I was about to resign myself to a childhood of Nascar pillowcases (and me a Formula One fan; does Lewis Hamilton have a line in crib bedding?) when it occurred to me that he also likes crackers. I mean he REALLY likes crackers. He likes to eat crackers and he likes to ask for crackers (Crah-cah? Crah-cah?) and he likes to point out when other people are eating crackers. So I have concluded that it is the one sound he has totally mastered and he wants to draw attention to it in much the same way I spent my time in Central America apologizing to everyone because Lo siento was the only phrase I had really nailed (yes yes I know I owe you more back story and the tale of my first marriage - I will get back to it.)

So cah cah cah. But his sister, CARoline? He calls duh-duh-doh, which I think (I am not sure) means Edward Too. 

I took Patrick to tumbling class again tonight. This was his third time (ever) and he is showing some improvement. I no longer fear he will strangle himself with his own feet when he cartwheels; I now worry that he will decapitate the kid next to him.

Patrick has many gifts. He is funny. He is cute. He is generous. He is loving. He is a shockingly good mimic. He has great small motor skills and if I ever needed anyone to get inside my toaster oven with a tiny screwdriver he's the first person I would call. And, you know, he's a card carrying genius, so that's kinda fun. At times. But! Patrick has not yet mastered the trick of coordinating his limbs and it makes things like, oh, swimming lessons or learning how to ride a bike or sixty minutes of tumbling class... well *I* am enjoying it. The look of bafflement on the face of his twenty year old instructor during stretches was worth the price of admission alone.

I feel guilty about this but the older Patrick gets the less patience I have with him. I was just talking to someone about the fact that I have boundless tolerance for the foibles of infants (you want to wake me up every twenty minutes for five months? fine) and toddler intransigence (Edward got so angry about something today that he managed to move a dining room chair by hitting and kicking the wood floor beneath it - I smiled at him and told him to let me know when he was done.) However the 5s and the 6s and now the 7s? Seem to be heavily laden with mines that explode my patience. Or maybe it's just Patrick. He talks me to death and he argues about everything and he never ever ever does something the first time I ask. Or even the second.

Tonight's dinner. The disputed item: two (2) garbanzo beans. The general rule of thumb being that you (not you, if you had come to dinner you would have been welcome to eschew anything or everything; I mean "you" = "my children") need to try everything even the stuff you have tried before and you know you don't like. A simple regulation.  A reasonable code, I think, and  one designed to encourage familiarity breeding greater familiarity. Right? Well, Patrick must've argued about those two fucking chickpeas for a solid thirty minutes. His points ranged from the fact that no matter how good they are for you the small quantity I was asking him to eat could hardly produce much in the way of benefit to the fact that he already enjoys good health and, frankly, he does not wish to be any different than he is.      

Then, literally mid-sentence, he stopped his garbanzo manifesto.

"How would you multiply three by eight?" he asked.

"How... what?"

"3x8. How do you do it?"

"I just memorized it. Fourth grade. Mrs Barbary's class. Why?"

"What if you forgot it? How would you get to 24?"

So I said I would add 8 to 8 and get 16 and then I would add 8 to 16 which means in my head I would get 14 and carry the 1 and then... 24.

Patrick looked just as baffled as the tumbling teacher.

"What good would that do you?"

So I asked how he would do it.

"Well," he said. "You multiply 3 by 2 and get 6. Then you double that so 3x4, which is 12. Double again 3x8: twenty-four!"

"Ah," I said.

Now as a good parenting story I would get to the end of this little mathematics discussion (I still think you Brits are wrong. Maths. Just sounds weird) and we would discover that Patrick had gotten so engrossed in our conversation that he had absentmindedly finished his dinner while we talked. But the truth of the matter is that as he asked me about the multiplication tables I got a little unnerved so *I* ate his damned garbanzo beans while we talked.

I am almost positive he hypnotized me. You know, like a cobra.

PS Track down that quote for me if you can.

PPS I am signing up for communist playgroup for Caroline and Edward. For those of you who haven't been around for the past five years, communist playgroup is what I call the district sponsored parenting class/pre pre preschool that meets once a week. For an hour you do circle time and play with your kid in the classroom, then you leave your child with the teacher and go meet in a conference room to participate in structured parenting discussions and eat banana bread. I did it with Patrick for several years. Once I liked my fellow parents and really enjoyed it. The other four times I wanted to use the informational handouts to self-inflict paper cuts until I passed out.

However, I think we could all use a morning activity this Fall. Caroline can do every hand gesture to every song (wheels on the bus, itsy-bitsy spider, open shut them... the Cricket's a nursery school natural) and she is dying to perform before an audience larger than me and Edward. And Edward would like a friend with whom he discuss both cars and crackers. As for me... well, how bad can it be really?

So here is the question. I am trying to decide whether I should sign up for the regular 18 months to 30 months class or the multiples class. In the latter the kids would range in age from birth to five and they would all be twins or triplets or heavenstobetsy. The parenting topics are supposedly twin+ specific.

My inclination is to go with the normal one, largely because I do not feel like a parent of twins. Is that weird? I feel like a fraud when I see stuff about twin parenting or multiples challenges. I have no idea why. But maybe there are things coming up in development that I could really use some twin specific guidance on? I think Caroline and Edward might have more fun if it is just toddlers but I am willing to accept opinions on the subject.


Subtotal Recall

A Tale of Three Things; Two that have Failed Me and One that I have failed:

#1

So remember two months ago when I bought those Chicco hanging seats (or, to be technical, Chicco Hippo Hook-on Chairs?) And everyone was happy because we could all eat at the table together and I could help Caroline and Edward feed themselves without contorting into unbearable positions and the space around our table became miraculously uncluttered?

[Exhibits A and B]

IMG_3296   IMG_3300

Yeah, well that lasted just over sixty days. On Monday Edward was sitting in his Chicco Hippo hanging seat and decided that he wanted something juuuuust out of his reach. So he leaned forward, hoiked up his knees and did a little bottom wiggle and... huzzah! He was on top of the dining room table.

[Exhibit C, a re-enactment. note: Edward is theoretically secured in this photo]

IMG_4761

I was startled to turn around and see Edward acting as a centerpiece and I thought, yikes, we need to tighten that lap belt on him. So we did. This is when we discovered that it is designed such that there is actually no way to tighten the three-point harness so an active or even semi-active child cannot escape.  

Caroline watched him like a bright-eyed sparrow, looked at her own belt, and proceeded to shimmy out of it, sylph that she is.

So we had two children on the table.

Damn it. We just spent $100 on seats that were functional for a mere two months. I thought about it and concluded that a lap belt should offer more than a suggestion that the child should remain seated and I called the Babies R Us store from whence I bought them. My hope was that I could return them because they are dangerous and useless and then I could buy something else that is safe and useful.

The Babies R Us store person listened and then said they would be happy to accept the return provided that the seats were unused, repackaged in their original packaging material and accompanied by the original sales receipt. Oh, did I say they listened? Maybe not. She then told me that I can call the manufacturer and maybe they can help. Or if there is a formal recall, you know, when more children than just mine wiggle out and maybe fall and gash their heads and break their arms, THEN they will take them back.

Whatever.     

I called Chicco. I explained that I had used the seats for two months and that both of my nineteen month old twins had recently figured out how to escape the seats and that there was no way to secure the belt to prevent this.

She said...

[this is when I got annoyed and decided to write this post]

"The three point harness is only intended for use while the parent is in the room and within view of the child."

It was the WAY she said.

My response, like Milhouse the night watchman, "Of course I was watching. First he started to fall over; then he fell over."

What? They think I cannot run a meth lab and feed my kids breakfast at the same time? The nerve.

As I type this I realize that I am not quite enough in the right to justify a refund. As she said, the lap belt only works as well as it works. And despite the fact that it is advertised for use between the ages of 6 months and three years, the unwritten caveat is that these ages only apply to preternaturally still children. So Chicco told me to go fuck myself as did Babies R Us corporate who I called next (and who could have done something. I worked corporate retail. we were insanely powerful. even as a grocery buyer in Chicago I was permitted under federal law to have people killed, if I so chose - getting a shabby product returned would have been a mere bagatelle; something I would do as I flossed with the bones of my P&G rep) suggested ditto (provided I had my original packaging to do so.)

So I have ordered different hanging seats with a five-point harness from Amazon (will advise as to efficacy) and in the meantime I have to sit in between Caroline and Edward as they eat, shoving them back into their seats every five seconds with a firm, "No standing. On your bottom please."

I really resent this.

My online product review now goes something like: Chicco Hippo Hanging Chairs are great unless you do not want your baby to sustain a concussion.

If you were considering getting these seats I would strongly advise against it. Or any Chicco product for that matter. I mean, what if something goes wrong with it? I can personally attest to their unwillingness to provide recourse.

#2

In delightful contrast, let me tell you about Playskool Hasbro.

Caroline, as I mentioned, developed a passionate devotion to the Playskool Made for Me mp3 player. She carried it everywhere, listening to the music and dancing (or smirking, as illustrated here)

[Exhibit D]

IMG_3931      

A week ago the mp3 plug-in part stopped working. I think it has a short in it because sometimes it plays and sometimes it does not. When it does not there is much sorrow.

[Exhibit E]

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I bought the thing in December for Edward's birthday present and, although it is not that old, I admit that it has been taking a daily beating from two toddlers. So I think it is reasonable that a wire might have loosened. In fact, I do not think the product was intended for use under eighteen months, although I might be making that up and I do not feel like looking right now. Anyway, my point is that I was disappointed that it was no longer functioning properly but I was willing to consider that the fault was ours.

Regardless, I emailed Hasbro and explained when we bought it and that a part was broken and asked if there was anything they could do. Within three days I received an email back. They apologized for the problem and said unfortunately they have discontinued this item (a real shame, I think, and I note that they are now selling for $40 online - you might want to consider it.) However, they said, they mailed an item of equal value to us and hoped that it would help ease our sense of loss. Or something like that. I have not gotten the package yet (I am very interested to see what we get) but WOW.

Chicco. Hasbro.
Hasbro. Chicco.

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn't the same.

#3

I have no idea where I read that nonstick cookware is not intended for extended use but I did. Something about the nonstick part turning toxic or breaking down on something. I read this aloud to Steve (whatever it was) and we said, huh, we might need new pans since ours are at least ten years old and look like they were used during the Battle of Hastings to hit the Saxons.

Then Steve had some sort of psychic break on Monday. In the morning I reached for a pan that was sitting on the stove top and then recoiled like I had been burned. Because I had been burned. Because Steve had made himself some sort of fried egg and wild mushroom thing for breakfast and then returned the empty pan to a still lit burner where it sat smoldering away for at least an hour. Uh, DANGER.     

What the hell, Steve, I asked.

Oh, sorry! he said

Later that same day we were eating lunch and I said, "Do you smell something burning?"

Steve looked stricken and ran over to the stove where he had yet again left an empty pan over an open flame. Same pan. My ten inch nonstick saute pan is now deader than dead.

So two questions:

Do you have a good skillet recommendation? Something affordable, please, as we are in reduced circumstances this summer and I just had to buy two more freaking seats for the twinkles.

What's your worst customer service experience? I feel like continuing to burn with self-righteous indignation and my Chicco ire will only get me so far.

PS I will shortly be posting a caprese salad recipe over at Scrambled that I think is pretty good. With a twist! Get your tomatoes ready.


Grows Merry In Time

Those who know us well might tell you that we never leave our house. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact we rarely leave our house. Note the difference.

Today we packed up the children and went down to the creek. Yesterday we went to the county fair (Dead Milkmen now in my head.) Growing up in DC I was familiar with the school fair and the church fair and the street fair, but county fairs have remained a sealed book to me until very recently. We took Patrick to one two years ago but between the heat and the morning sickness I failed to see the appeal. The swine barn was no Chanel No. 5 boutique and as for deep fried peanut butter sandwiches... the less said about them the better. But yesterday, my goodness. If there is anything more charming than a shed full of 4-H projects I don't want to know about it.

Caroline was so excited by the animals she started waving the instant we entered the cow barn. Elbow bent, wrist rotating like a fan she greeted each one, "Hiiiiiiiiii!" Actually it is more like "Haaaa-iiiii-ee!" since Caroline has a mysterious Southern accent that adds syllables into otherwise monosyllabic words. She was born Queen of the May. When we read books she will happily identify various and sundry things: "Cat! Dog! Car! Rabb-ut!" but when she gets to something she does not know she gives a slight pause, bright smile still in place, and says, "Seeeeeeee?" This is known as a redirect. Like "Do I support health care reform?" [pause. big smile] "Well, I support sunshine! And happiness! And I believe in peace! And I think flowers and children are dipped in golden innocence!"

Seeeeee?

Here Caroline finds a baby cow who is just her size and kisses it.

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Then the cow kissed her back.

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Caroline loved the fair.

Edward? Not so much.

I think he thought it was very, very messy. And, unlike Caroline, his desire to greet and embrace every living creature on God's dirty earth is nonexistent. He liked the fire trucks and he really liked it when they got an emergency call and had to race to leave with their sirens blaring and lights flashing. Other than that he morosely ate a hot dog bun for lunch when it became obvious the fair really and truly did not offer a single fruit or vegetable that had not been deep-fried or pickled or both.

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Is that all there is, Eddie Lee? Is that all there is to a fair?

Patrick liked the canning display and all the kids' projects. He was especially interested in the judging of the original Lego creations. He was pretty sure he could win something next year and - as it looked like every entrant received a ribbon - it is hard to fault his logic. Have I talked about Patrick's Legos lately? He does funny work. I was particularly fond of his Lego waste water treatment facility which used Lego flowers to remove Lego bacteria... do I have a picture of that one? Aw rats. No. You should have seen my face when I asked, "So what are you building? A school?" and he said "No, I am trying to do something about the sewage in Lego City" with an emphasis to imply that my failure to be part of the solution meant that I was obviously part of the problem. It reminded me of that time an acquaintance attempted to describe her political inclinations by saying, "I think we are fairly conservative. I mean, we don't recycle" which still ranks as one of the most baffling things I have ever heard. I think reasonable people can disagree on the best way to spend tax dollars but surely we all want to keep the planet tidy? Is there not a little Edward in all of us? That is an actual question (not the Edward part; the only-Democrats-recycle part - surely the Republican party is not for pollution? feel free to clarify for me. maybe she was just... misguided?) Anyway, I was surprised the residents of Lego City feel that I am against responsible waste management, although I suspect this is somehow linked to my refusal to allow Patrick to move Lego NASA into my bedroom in his effort to get it away from the town center.

Where... right. County fair. Good lemonade. A cotton candy purchase the size of a large bag of potato chips from which I dealt out tiny pinches to Patrick as we walked. I then closed up the bag and announced we were done with cotton candy for the morning. After lunch Patrick asked for more, which put me in the embarrassing position of trying to explain why the bag was empty.

I love cotton candy.

Conclusion: we are in favor of fairs and have decided to all go to the state fair later in the month with the exception of Edward who very well might have an apoplexy at the Great Minnesota Get Together. He almost punched that baby cow, you know. Right in its sweet little face.

In other news I started a new food related sub-blog and I began putting up posts/recipes this weekend. I love food. I like to cook. But that hideous hour before dinner irritates the fuck out of me and, frankly, lunch with two toddlers and a Steve and Patrick home for the summer isn't exactly a magical time in fields of gold either. My plan is to write about what I am making and what we are eating and to talk about what you are making and eating. My theory is that it is always less boring when we are in it together. I could stick up a million caveats about my limited skills and my appalling photography and my unsophisticated palate (I don't like duck. I like chicken) and my picky child limitations (although if I do say so myself some of my work-arounds for food aversions are quite clever) but I am not going to do so. I mean, beyond that sentence. It is what it is and I am excited about it, so I hope you will check it out.