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March 2010

Because A Rundlet Is Tiny

This morning Caroline asked for oatmeal. OK, I said.

"With a spoon," she continued.

Well, of course.

"And some milk."

Like always...

"In a cup."

Caroline reminds me of a boss I had once who would dole out work to me in thirty minute increments, thus insuring that I was just bored/busy enough to devise but not implement any of my numerous plans to murder her. Not murder Caroline, of course, because she is mommy's own little rumbly-tumbly sweetie sweet girl but my former boss, who was... not. My point is that Caroline is a micro manager, a mini micro manager, and it is a disconcerting to have someone 34 inches high (growth spurt!) not only telling me what to do but exactly how to do it.

Patrick dressed her the other day, which is why she wound up wearing a hand-me-down flowergirl dress that is two sizes too small over a turtleneck and leggings. Patrick kept asking her if she was a pretty princess ballerina girl in that squeaky-high baby voice most people reserve for addressing dogs of the toy variety and she spent the entire day twirling and walk en pointe.

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I guess she is a pretty princess ballerina girl. Who knew? I always think of her as more of the kevlar-and-keds type but if she wants to let her older brother treat her like a particularly spoiled cotton candy Pomeranian who am I to interfere.

We went to the playground yesterday and I took this picture and I like it.

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And I took this picture the other week and mentally bookmarked the fact that I wanted to post it, along with the comment that Edward is such a tidy, careful child that he even paints neatly.

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Which was true as far as it went but as far as it went was Tuesday.

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Note the feet. It's like he's rebelling.

Back when my days started around noon and ended with off-brand Kahlua milkshakes my roommate Doug and I used to play a lot of Balderdash. Balderdash is a board game based upon the premise that your vocabulary is not nearly as large as you think it is and it introduced me to the word merkin. A merkin is a pubic wig and it is such a pretty-ugly gnome of a word that I have loved it ever since. Merkin. Merrrkin. Unfortunately outside of the Regency (a ribald and artificially hirsute era) you don't encounter it all that often. Even if a dear friend does succumb to complete alopecia you don't offer to accompany her merkin shopping; if anything you promise to cancel her Brazilian and take her to lunch.

Anyway, when Steve said that his friend Ted (married to my friend Noelle) had invited him to something called a Firkin Fest the first and last things I thought about were merkins. Firkins, merkins... I liked the idea of Steve and Ted strolling past booth after booth admiring all the latest in short-haired wiggery. I am simple and it amused me. After numerous peevish repeats, "No Firkin. Firkin. With an F. FIR-kin. Fuh fuh fuh FIRKIN, you idiot, stop talking about pubic hair... it's a beer tasting, damn you, called Firkin Fest" I finally gave up on merkins - however and alas - and turned to the concept of the firkin.

"You mean a puncheon," I said with the confidence of a former Balderdash champion who likes both history and liquor and the history of liquor.

A puncheon (or tertian. or firkin. not merkin) is a measurement used in the casking of wine and it equals 84 gallons which is a coincidence because I am pretty sure that is the exact amount Steve consumed on Saturday. Noelle dropped them off in Saint Paul and I agreed to pick them up and in between she and I commiserated over the fact that we felt like it was prom night and we had agreed to turn a blind eye to their implied inability to behave in exchange for knowing they were not going to be endangering themselves or others.

In general Steve is an abstemious man but he does have his moments and I think on Saturday he had about twenty of them. I talked to him a little after one in the afternoon because he had tried to convince me to pick Villanova in the suicide pool and I had said that I had a bad feeling about them and went with Cornell and it was important to me that I call him in the middle of his beer tasting to gloat. So I did. And he sounded fine and was properly appreciative of my overwhelming basketball bracket awesomeness. A few hours later I called again to tell him I would be packing up the children and coming to get them and the conversation was a little less... lucid. First it took four tries for him to even answer his cell phone and then when he did he yelled "Hello! HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!" into it about fifty times like someone who has never before used a mobile telephonic device. Once he shut up long enough to hear me telling him to stop shouting Hello at me he said, all surprised, "Oh is that you? Did you call me?"

Good LORD.

I read once that men around the age of forty are a billion times more likely to cause their own accidental deaths than any other age/sex. It's like they reach d'un certain age and their brains short-circuit and they suddenly decide that they might have a knack for chainsaw sculpture after all.

Is this sexist? I suppose it is. God knows I love men. A LOT. My brother is a man and he's one of my best friends, not to mention Steve to whom I devote my slavish adoration. But sometimes - like when I am rolling a specific someone out of his coat because he has "fallen asleep" fully dressed after Firkin Fest or when that same person climbs on the icy roof with pitchers of hot water to melt the snow off the satellite dish - I wonder about them. Do I ever drink one too many glasses of wine and wake up with a slight headache? Sure. Do I ever drink so much in the middle of the afternoon that I am unable to figure out why my pants are ringing? No I do not.

Huh. Am I going anywhere with this? Apparently not. Do you want to tell me a story about the dummy dope(s) in your life? Of course you do. Then we can all sit (safely and daintily) on our couches and drink a (small) glass of wine and smirk at each other. Prissily.    


Encompass

I know that not all of you are of the Faith but to my fellow celebrants I wish you a very very happy March Madness. I have Kansas to win it all this year but along the way I expect Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia to do good things. And in the suicide pool (you pick one team each day; if the team wins you survive to pick the next day but the twist is that you can only pick a team once during the entire tournament - tricksy) I am going with New Mexico. And because we like to increase our chances by attributing picks to our children I gave Zazka Northern Iowa because that is just the sort of bold first round choice I expect she would make if she was old enough to gamble.

Clearly we did not look too closely into the new school's affiliations when we moved Patrick because it was the least of our worries and we don't really care all that much when it gets down to it (it is public but there are different flavors of public, you know.) We have our beliefs and traditions and we realize that other people have theirs and we know that Patrick will need to realize this too unless we want him to grow up all stunted. Nonetheless, Steve and I did brush away a few happy tears when Patrick brought home his bracket homework this week along with a vaguely protesteth-too-mucheth note from his teacher explaining that the students would be watching the tournament on Thursday and Friday in class. You know, using it to calculate percentages and fractions and whatnot... math, damn it. Basketball math.

When I saw his teacher on Monday I said, "NCAA, I see" and when he plunged into his spiel about learning opportunities I gently stopped him and explained that we, too, follow the Way. So he laughed and said that in the past he would just take these days off but when he started with Patrick's school he realized that he could bring in a TV, give the kids calculators and they'd all be as happy as happy geeky clams. You know, I can see the appeal of parochial schooling. It is nice to have one's family values reinforced in the classroom. We just want to know when they will be starting their casino unit. 

Actually, seriously, Patrick came home the other day and he was beyond impressed because, as he explained it: "We started decimals, you know, today and one of the girls said she could do pi and Mr. * said ok so he got out a book and kept track and she knew pi to fifty digits. Five," Patrick emphasized, "Zero. It was amazing. She got it all right." 

I presume she stopped memorizing at fifty because it was a nice round number but I see no reason why she couldn't remember digits up to fifty-one or even, hey! fifty-two! or fifty-two times six and I could be the blackjack chaperone.

And then there's this other kid... wow. Just... wow. He has a disconcerting habit of leaping onto a chair while he bursts into song, like, in the middle of a grammar lesson and Patrick tells me he spends a lot of time cooling his heels in the hallway and (I just wrote 'but' except it isn't. it is an 'and') and he is crazzzzy good at math. Like holy Archimedes capital G Good at math. I'm not entirely sure what his specific area of expertise would be but he can be in my field trip group too. Hmmm. All I need is a charming but unscrupulous front man in sneakers, a computer expert and someone to handle the communications and I have just written myself into a Disney movie. Provided Disney doesn't balk at the idea of second graders who take on Vegas... maybe Touchstone.

Moving on.

I am telling you this bit just because you are the only people who will appreciate what a secret ass I was.

My friend Noelle's doctor did not have any new patient appointments any time in the near future so I decided to go back to my current doctor since I am still having the weirdness and I do like the guy except for the difficulty in getting an appointment with him. He had one space free yesterday afternoon and although it was cutting it very very fine to see him and still pick up Patrick I took it. When he walked into the exam room I saw that he was obviously very tan and I thought AH-HA! I knew he was off lollygagging on the sand somewhere while I had to deal with a dismissive shrugger in my desperate hour of woogy need and what price the hippopotamus oath, beach boy?

But because I do not really begrudge the hard-working internist a little time away I smiled and said, "You look like you got some sun."

And he said...

Ready?

"Yes. I was in Haiti."

At which point I shrunk down to a mere three inches tall and fell off the table and his nurse had to come in to help him find me.

I could play compare and contrast this week's appointment with last week's appointment all day long but I will just give you one example. I told him about the ongoing nausea and he asked if I was pregnant. I said, "Well... I have the paraguard IUD... ."

When I told this to the woman last week she instantly said, "OK so that's not it" and moved on.

My doctor merely laughed and said, "Well that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Just ask Doctor... " and then he caught himself, "... Doctor Who-I-Am-Talking-About about their surprise. We should rule it out."

In addition to a pregnancy test (I asked if I could just go to CVS and get one of my trusty pink and white First Response boxes for old times' sake. He said "let's just do it since you're going to be here anyway" and I thought that my plan had not including being there and peeing on, well, anything but whatever) he is checking thyroid, infection markers, Vitamin D, glucose, liver function and four other things of which I have never heard. Because I literally had to run out the door and across the parking lot before speeding to get Patrick on time I wasn't able to do any of them, though, and I need to go in tomorrow.

Steve looked at the orders I brought home and choked over the pregnancy test, which made me laugh heartily. Serve him and his vasectomy-fearing self right if we did have another blessing to brighten our lives and delay his retirement indefinitely [note: there is NO WAY I am pregnant. I mean, technically possible but... no.] Then he said that he had told me I wasn't being poisoned, which has been my latest self-diagnosis. We'll see.

I have spent the past two weeks trying to figure out what to do with Caroline and Edward next year. In another part of the country - say DC - I could call any one of the million or so church basement preschools and sign the twinkles up for two mornings a week of wholesome, mommy-free, paint-filled play. For some reason, though, Minnesota does not start nursery schools until three. This wasn't so much of a problem with Patrick because he turned three at the end of June and started preschool in September. Caroline and Edward do not turn three until the end of December which means they are a year and a half away from being able to go anywhere. There are, of course, lots of communist playgroup options but I don't know. Early Childhood Family Education (aka commie playgroup) requires parental involvement: first I am supposed to play with them in the classroom for an hour then I get to leave them with the teachers so I can talk about them for the next hour; and although there is a lot to be said for this... I just don't want to do it. I want to drop Caroline and Edward off with some nice woman and a pack of other children and return three hours later to graciously accept cottonball bunny art that I had nothing to do with either creating or cleaning up after.

Any thoughts? Are you local and know of a preschool that takes two year olds? The closest possibility I found was something through the YMCA called Kid's Day Out. This would actually be perfect but it is one day a week and goes from 9 until 2. In order to get them home in time for lunch and a nap I would want to pick them up at 11:30 (supposing they still nap by then - Caroline doubtful but Eddybear likely) and although this is possible it would mean that we would be spending about three hundred dollars a month for eight total hours of childcare which... not so much.

My oldest friend Carrie was in town last week and we went out to dinner, during the course of which I was lamenting my options. She suggested an in-home daycare provider might be willing to have them for a couple of mornings a week, particularly as many might have older kids that arrive after school lets out and therefore have some morning flexibility. Do you think so? How do you even find someone?

What do you do when they are two? I just want them to be able to have some new experiences, preferably in my absence. Please advise.

PS Oooooooh it's an exciting start to the tournament already. Love it.

PPS Thank you for the book recommendations. I got the pie book (um, "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie"?) and am excited to start it but I decided I should probably re-read The Order of the Phoenix first as Patrick keeps asking questions about it. It's a hard book, actually, and I tried to suggest Patrick might want to start it again later but he is pretty insistent despite not being sophisticated enough to get a lot of it. Like he keeps asking me why Harry is being so difficult and angry and my reply "Because he's 15" doesn't help.

Would you believe I had never heard of Skippyjon? What a treat. Thank you.


Three Day Dog

I needed your encouragement to go to the doctor because I was afraid if I explained that I am dizzy (without actual unconsciousness) and nauseous (without throwing up) and my vision is strange (without blindness) that my primary care guy would dismiss my wooginess with a casual wave of his hand and chalk it all up to hysteria. And I would feel like a dummy dope. 

But he did not; largely because my primary care guy was not able to give me an appointment until the week after next so it was the PA I saw Monday who did the hand waving. And she did not say "hysteria" she said "migraine" but when I asked if there was anything I could do about it or if there are possible triggers to avoid or if it would be worthwhile to see a neurologist she said, "No." And when I asked if she would consider testing for Lyme's (per the considered opinion of my secret doctor - Noelle's husband) she said, "No."

To quote Miss Marple she was a bit like the young lady at the boot shop who wants to sell you the black pair because she has them in your size even though you tell her you wanted brown. So the visit was a complete waste of time and I am still feeling gross and I finally did what I should have done in the first place, which is I asked my friend Noelle whether she likes her primary care doctor and I am going to schedule an appointment with her. Nothing against my current doctor; I just never get to see him because he is never there. I assume he has a second home that he visits regularly. In Greenland. Which means that whenever I have something come up (the post-influenza sinus infection that lingered forever; the time last year when half my face went numb) his scheduler despairs of my seeing him before October (unless it is October, in which case he is booked through Thanksgiving) and I wind up in urgent care explaining to some jaded stranger that if my lips were always numb I would not be there.  

In the meantime I have spent every afternoon for a week feeling like I am in the middle of a rough Channel crossing and I have started avoiding my computer because something about the light from the screen makes me feel like the Morning After. Oh, and I am taking your advice and starting a headache (excuse me, a "headache") journal.

I was serious when I said the other week that there have been good things about going without any income for most of the past year. We were fortunate (or prudent, I guess, a little, but it was mostly just luck) that when Steve's business flat-lined we were debt free (except for our mortgage but what are you going to do?) and we had savings. We were unfortunate, true, in that much of these savings were in the form of investments that went belly up at the same time Steve's business started pressing its hands to its temples and saying it... it didn't feel well; but... it was abrupt, you know. Over the course of about three months we went from feeling nicely comfortable to wildly uncomfortable. Like, backseat of a Volkswagen uncomfortable.

*** Digression ***

I was writing this down in the basement where the light is easier on my eyes and Edward and Caroline can frolic in the enormous - and I do mean enormous - toddler habitrail that Patrick constructed for them out of play tunnels and couch cushions and blankets and chairs and a pet carrier.

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Which is why this little girl spent most of the morning in a cage.

We came back upstairs for lunch and Steve mentioned with modest pride that his first ever eBay sale has a bidder. Oh! Not so much of a digression after all. Our finances are not so dire that we have resorted to selling our pants in desperation but as we have learned to live with less new junk (one might almost say no new junk but then one would be exaggerating to the point of falsehood) we have begun to assess the need to hang on to quite so much of our old junk. Among the items currently littering Steve's various work spaces are something something and something (heavy cable? a blue box full of wires? a weird white cone thing?) that were purchased in an attempt to boost our ability to get cell signals here in the valley of the elves. It did not work. Not only did it not work; it will never work. Not ever. So the cable and the box and the cone that originally cost umpteen hundreds of dollars are sitting on a shelf in anticipation of the last judgment. That seemed like a waste so Steve set up an eBay account and now he has a bidder and he is like a kid with a lemonade stand. When I came upstairs with the twinkles Steve showed me his sale page and I read it for the first time and laughed aloud because it is really witty. Truly. Who knew that Steve could write all funny like that?

I said, "Oh! We should write something together! We should write a romance novel with a wry but tender hero and gamine heroine with wide feet and it will be for men and women and it will sell a hundred billion copies in fifty languages and we'll get our own Wikipedia entry and... "

Steve said, "And we will call it... Butt Rompers."

So much for that idea.

** Digression Sort Of Over **

In the absence of new stuff I have been enjoying the process of taking our old stuff (that which Steve is not selling on Ebay - I hope he doesn't get too into this; we'll have nothing left to sit on or play with or wear) and shuffling it around the house. You know the HGTV shows in which they remove everything from the living room and then the designer finds some pieces by AndrĂ©-Charles Boulle in the homeowners' garage and they swap those for the Ikea TV stand after painting the walls a nice terra cotta and you think, "Oh that really does look better"? It's kinda like that only my sole objective is to get the giant plastic toys out of my bedroom and to hell with a unifying theme. 

We went to visit friends when Patrick was a newborn and they had turned their dining room into a play room for their two-under-two complete with a baby gate to block the entrance (or the exit, depending upon your point of view.) I thought this was very clever and when we moved into this house we did the same thing. In the beginning we used the space to contain Patrick as needed - a sort of jumbo sized playpen - but eventually we took the gate down and it was just his play room. Most of Patrick's project stuff was in there: Legos, Knex, science experiments, my old computer that he inherited... that sort of thing. Years passed, twins were born, Patrick was thoroughly entrenched in play room so when the twins started to become mobile we put the gate back up again; this time to keep the babies away from all the chokables and the breakables and the don't touch that-ables. And it was fine. We had Patrick's play area on one side of the kitchen and Baby Jail on the other and peace reigned. Sure, sometimes Caroline and Edward would stand outside the gate and gnash their gums in impotent fury at being denied their right to swallow 2x2 bricks like Pez but for the most part it was a system of segregation that served us well. But as the twinkles have gotten bigger and their toys have gotten both bigger (kitchen) and smaller (Duplos) it has begun to suck. The house is divided into Patrick play areas and Twinkle play areas with literally nothing in between. Every night Steve and I move the plastic house that has gotten shoved against our bed during the day and pick up the billion little trucks and books and whatnots that are scattered all over the first floor. The living room looks like there was an explosion at the Fisher-Price plant (In Pomato, in Pomato you will find no meat... .)

So I told Patrick that I wanted to make the play room more toddler friendly but I wasn't sure what to do with all the itty-bitty pieces covering every surface in there; not to mention my concern that Caroline and Edward might accidentally smash one of his masterpieces to smithereens. Did he have any ideas? And this is what Jeeves called following the psychology of the individual because Patrick took the need to tear down that wall as a given and focused his attention on how to protect his belongings after the hordes arrived.

He suggested that we move the Legos up to his room and leveraged his agreeableness to gain exclusive bedroom rights to the multicolored bin rack that is currently in the living room full of baby stuff. He has been coveting it for some time. In his rich fantasy world he thinks he is going to use the bins to organize his Legos by color which... ha. Good luck with that project.

To make a long story even longer we all agreed weeks ago that we were going to turn the area off the kitchen into a space that everyone could use and I determined that first we would need to clear out Patrick's room, then we could shift his toys upstairs and finally we could get the xylophone out of my bed. So almost every day since then I have said to Steve or Patrick or Steve and Patrick, "Hey! Who's ready to go upstairs and sort books into piles? Hah? Who's with me? Who's ready for some fun?" 

But somehow both of them have been wildly disinterested no matter how many times I promised that after we finished sorting we could redistribute the books by category and then clean out the closet. 

I am reminded of the Simpsons in which Apu was part of a bachelor auction. When asked to describe himself he says, "I am not much of a talker but I love to listen. I also like to design and build furniture and then to have a discussion about where it could be placed in a room."

All of the women gave a collective sigh of appreciation and started a bidding war.

Steve is no Apu. Not only does he possess the ability to tune me out even when I am holding both of his ears and speaking, very slowly, directly into his face but he seems to have no interest in moving the file cabinets. In fact, you would have thought I was asking him to give up his only kidney when I finally (after many weeks and zero cooperation on the parts of Finks 0 through 3) finished organizing the books and clearing the closet and I asked if he wouldn't mind moving Patrick's bed to a different wall and carrying a couple/four bookcases downstairs. OK. If he wouldn't mind moving Patrick's bed again since I didn't like the first two arrangements.

Did this have a point? No, I guess not. Maybe an answer to the question nobody asked: what have I been doing to entertain myself as winter stretches into its sixth month (damned pomegranate)? Moving furniture and toys around.

Patrick has been lukewarm on the new setup. First, he hates change. Second, he realized after we took all of his Legos upstairs that he had reduced his total Lego play space by about 7000 percent. Bummer. Caroline, however, has more than made up for his lack of enthusiasm by being so! excited! about! the! new! space!

"Welcome in! Welcome in!" she says. Or maybe that is "Well, come in!" I'm not sure. One of her very most adorable habits is to say "um" and "well" and "hmmm" while tapping her chin as if she is thinking things over when I am quite certain she is just giving the audience (me) more time to appreciate how cute she is (very) before completing her thought.

Then she tells me to sit! sit! sit! on the rug while she brings over pretend food.

Edward is happy that they inherited all of Patrick's letter magnets which was sort of like an art enthusiast being told that the Met called and it will be shipping over its entire collection in the morning. Patrick has a staggering assortment of magnetic letters and numbers and Edward likes both letters and numbers and the play room has a bulletin board at just the right height. Edward has spent two days putting up letters in pairs, "Mommy E," he says sticking up an uppercase, "Baby e."

He's cute.

Unlike a similarly aged Patrick, though, his interests (wasn't I just talking about this?) extend far beyond letters and their various serifs. As Daimler said to Chrysler, there are always cars.

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I was interested to see that so many of you think the accelerated reading program was designed by demons. Since I had never heard of it prior to three weeks ago I cannot say I have put much thought into the subject but it seems harmless enough to me? Are there different ways it is structured? Patrick's class has their in-class group book (they just finished "The Whipping Boy" and are starting "Sign of the Beaver" prior to that they read "The Phantom Tollbooth") and then they have the opportunity to read books for AR points outside the class. I did notice that when I looked them up online there seemed to be AR quizzes for almost every book I could think of (Patrick's favorite Number Devil among them) but when I helped Patrick get setup for his first quiz in the school library I realized that his school only has access to a teeny tiny fraction of them (Number Devil not among them.) I guess schools have to pay for specific quizzes? A few of you mentioned on that post that you thought limiting the kids this way sucked the joy out of reading but, I dunno, isn't all mandatory reading joy-sucking on some level? Or not as the case may be. I once took a class on writing women of the Renaissance and I hated every single word (sorry Aphra Behn it wasn't personal) with the surprise exception of the colloquies of Erasmus which I loved so much I still read them. Not that Erasmus was a woman, of course, but he did have that humanist/feminist thing going on... my point was that you never know what you might like and isn't it nice to have a way to encourage children to look at different things to read by bribing them with a party? This is a sincere question. Patrick started the Order of the Phoenix last night specifically because it is worth a billion AR points; otherwise he would have probably re-read one of the Murderous Maths. I did warn him that book five of Harry Potter gets pretty dark and he stared at me blankly and I said that people start to die rather a lot. He asked if Ron or Harry or Hermione die in the fifth book

*SPOILER*

and I said no and he said well ok then and I thought well yeah but

*NO SPOILER*

------ ----- does die and I am still upset about it.

Speaking of books I always like it when we recommend things so I might as well end with asking whether you and/or any small people you know are reading anything good. I noticed that "Sign of the Beaver" was written by the same person who wrote one of my all-time favorite elementary school books "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" so I'll start with those two, also "Constance" which is another early American historical fiction book that was terrific with the slightest little hint of romance to it. Which doesn't make it a girl book necessarily although... Butt Rompers. Enough said. I think I have now mentioned the Septimus Heap series in every post but it is really such a fun read/listen. We started the fourth book yesterday. I am eying both Percy Jackson and Eragon next; any thoughts on those two? Caroline and Edward are moving beyond board books into a desire for more complicated picture books and their tastes are kind of eclectic. Edward likes the Chicka Chicka books (letters and numbers) and this old book of Patrick's that consists entirely of songs for beginning recorder. He likes the way the music looks ("Note?" he says, "Note note note two note?") and he keeps asking me to read it and I am, like, um, doh doh doot doot doh doh... oh Edward go find Mommy a book with WORDS. Caroline is a crazy obsessed Mo Willems groupie fanatic and vacillates between asking to read Leenard the terrrrrrrrribuh monstuh five hundred million times and sighing and saying, "Ahhhh PUPPIES" and then asking to read one of the pigeon books. Five hundred million times. And me, I just started "The Collected Works of TS Spivet" out of which I am determined to make either a head or tail but I think it is too clever for me and maybe I should just go back to the sweet soothing treacle of the Regency (I read Tessa Dare's debut novel "Goddess of the Hunt" last night when the diagrams became too much for me with Spivet - it was ok.) Speaking of Regency and then I swear I am done (Caroline is just finishing lunch and keeps saying, "Take a naaaaaap pleeease. Take a naaaaaap please") I saw "Secret of the Pink Carnation" at the library and took it home with the idea that I had heard it was good. It was only later that I realized that I had "heard it was good" from an ad on my own sidebar. Word of mouth marketing at work, right there. I seem to be running quite a few ads right now so feel free to be similarly subconsciously influenced; I'm sure my nice bookish advertisers would appreciate it.

Anyway, are any of you (bigs or littles) reading anything good?


Sub Rosa

Patrick woke me up this morning at an unprecedented 6 o'clock. I moved over so he could climb into our bed and tried to go back to sleep for a few minutes but Patrick was fidgeting and complaining. He was too hot, he was too cold, the pillow was too poofy or not poofy enough... I was just about to tell him to cram it where the monkey put the nuts when his whole body shuddered and he ran to the bathroom and threw up.

Ohhhhhhhh.

As we learned last spring and summer during the Great Bacterial Whatsit Patrick has an odd disconnect between how he feels and how he thinks he feels and no one is ever more surprised than he is when his eyes suddenly roll back into his head and he curls up like a salted slug.

So I guess he is sick? Last I saw him before departing with Edward for speech therapy this morning he was lying in my bed with Caroline patting his hand saying "All better, Patrick." I had a fleeting moment when I thought aiiiee! don't touch him! quarantine! but I remembered that she fed Patrick half her dinner last night so I suspect that cow is already in the garden. As an aside, Patrick is completely fatuous where Caroline is concerned: under any other circumstances he would not be caught dead eating something suspicious off a pre-licked spoon but when Caroline extended her offering of black beans and rice last night with a squeaky, "Open up Patrick" he did as he was told.

So our night away was kinda disappointing. In retrospect we probably should have made more of a plan for the evening. What I was anticipating was a madcap spontaneous romp; a series of spoiled self-indulgences completely unfettered by any sense of obligation whatsoever. What we got was a lot of walking around downtown wondering what we should do until our nine o'clock dinner reservation. Not that it was a disaster. In fact, parts of the evening were really very fun. At one point we wound up in a lounge (don't remember what it was called but it's in the lobby of Graves 601) that prided itself on the fussiness of its cocktails and I had a revelation about what alcohol can be when it grows up. They served a liquid amuse bouche in tiny daiquiri glasses that unfurled in the mouth with layers of rum and bitters and fresh pineapple and I don't remember what else. I wasn't even sure that I liked it at the time but I keep smacking my lips as I remember it. It was comfortable there on the Roman couches and pleasantly dark and we enjoyed theorizing about the people near us; like the ones at the only table with flowers on it. I assumed he was going to propose, Steve said no one would propose to a woman who was that dressed up [complete with bridesmaids' hair] while he himself was wearing a graphic tee - Steve was probably right although I was surprised that he could be so insightful. Steve's not exactly the most, uh, aware person when it comes to the ways in which other people might behave. Anyway we did not stay long enough to find out because it was only five in the afternoon and I was afraid (rightly, I am sure) that if I had another one of their potent cocktails I was going to keel over on the couch and fall asleep. So we wandered around downtown Minneapolis for a couple of hours and it was about as entertaining as you might expect. The other thing - and I know this is going to sound stupid but I am going to go ahead and admit it anyway - was that I felt a little shy and awkward for chunks of the evening. It was our Big Night Out and I think we both wanted to make it superawesome and as a result I wound up feeling self-conscious. The saving grace of the evening was going back to the hotel before our second loop of the skyway and splitting the bottle of wine we had brought. We then considered ordering room service and watching the Olympics but rallied after an hour and showed up for our dinner reservation after all.

Thoughts for next time: plan something (ice skating, theater, karaoke, poetry slam, Over 30 Mixed Beer Pong tournament) and have sex before leaving home so as to get it out of the way. I swear Steve was like a kid at the prom: we walked in the door, admired the decorations and he was, like, well this was fun shall we go back to the hotel? I was reminded of the admonishment the good sisters gave when I was growing up on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s: never let a boy take you to a restaurant with white tablecloths; it just makes them think of bed.

Patrick has been lying in a semi-coma on the couch all day. I just checked on him and recoiled when I discovered that the whites of his eyes are now completely blood-shot and his face is the color of moldy cheese. He looks like a vampire at the beach at eleven in the morning. Clearly he will not be going to school tomorrow either, poor kid, and poor me and lucky Caroline and Edward who cheerfully rode his television watching coattails all day.

A couple of pictures from happier times, like yesterday:   

Caroline and Patrick Poppins       

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Edward's gray eyes

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Gypsy Rose Cricket

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Most frequently heard sentence at our house this week:

"Caroline where are your PANTS?"

Second most frequently heard:

"I don't know, Mommy."

Followed by:

"Don't worry about it, Mommy."

*

And in no particular order:

Caroline: 176 Potty: 0

Training is going terribly. Caroline has urinated in every possible place but the toilet and Edward stood up from the potty last night in order to walk over and pee in Steve's lap. You would think the law of averages would dictate that one of them would get it right at least one time but... no.

I always meant to return to the subject of birth control and this seems like a good a time as any following our little talk in the last post. I have had the Paraguard IUD for almost two years now and I quite like it. The first six months or so were horrifying in a slasher movie kind of a way - AHEM - but I either shifted my perception of normal to the more sanguine or my body eventually adjusted or both. Probably both. I know some of you had mixed results with the IUD (both the low-dose hormone Mirena and the no hormone Paraguard) but as a semi-permanent birth control option I have no complaints. For what it is worth.

Finally, do you know anything about migraines? I have had a few actual fetal-position in a dark closet migraines in the past; one in high school, a couple more over the years and then several while I was either pregnant or during an IVF cycle but nothing that seemed chronic. Lately though I have been getting the visual stuff with increasing frequency - double vision, very sharp shadows and a sense that the lights are blinking rapidly in the room - and nausea but no headache. I am on my third day in a row of this - blurred vision starts around noon and lasts until about five or six. I hesitate to call it a migraine because it doesn't hurt but Steve went to pick up Patrick from school yesterday because he didn't think I could drive with one eye shut. I am also hesitant to go to the doctor because I don't know what they can do about it and in the absence of crippling pain it seems a little silly to go tell him my eyes feel woogy. Any thoughts?