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August 2010
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September 2010

Eos

Caroline and Edward missed school on Tuesday due to gunky colds. I always loathed when toddler Patrick was sick because I could never figure out what to do with him all day but the twinkles were perfectly content to lie on the couch and watch stuff. Apart from the fact that they were cluttering up my alloted kid-free time - and they were both in moods as fragile as spun glass - it was sort of pleasant. Caroline has alternate titles for most shows, my two favorites being when she asks "Can I watch the Cat, the Mouse and the Hammer?" (aka Tom & Jerry) or suggests a viewing of "The Princess and the Beef" (Tale as old as time... .)

Caroline felt crummy enough that she fell asleep in her own bed two nights in a row. It is a nice feeling to open her door at night and see her lying peacefully in more or less the same place that I left her. Yesterday she felt better and celebrated by alarming me with her matter of fact assumptions about her own capabilities, like when she looked thoughtful and suggested that she could drive rather than me or when she said she wanted to try out "the big knife" I was using to cut cantelope. Later she lay on my bed gazing out the window and said dreamily, "I want to fly."

I said, "NO FLYING CAROLINE" very firmly.

She said nothing for a moment and then said, "I want to fly like a bird and climb like a chipmunk." 

Edward said, "No Tayayine! NO FY-ING!"

Caroline sighed and said, "Ok ok OHHHHKAAAAAAY."

We left it at that.

Thank you very much for pointing out that her eye looked weird in those last pictures. I hadn't noticed but as soon as you mentioned it I realized that you were right. Looking back over photos from the past few months I can see her right eye gradually sliding toward her nose so I took her into her pediatrician who is sending her onto a pediatric opthamologist. We'll see what the eye doctor says this afternoon.

So last week I saw Someone and she was not the right someone for me. I did think briefly about the advice I had gotten here to give it three sessions but... no. Not right for me. I left her office and felt totally horrible, not because she was rotten or anything; it was just that I could not imagine randomly scheduling appointments with people over and over again until we clicked. It would be like going on a neverending series of blind dates arranged by whatever system matches college roommates. And meanwhile I had gotten all excited about finally living without all this worry. 

I asked Steve if he thought I should go see my primary and ask if he had any ideas. Steve said yes. Then - because historically my primary care doctor and I have not communicated very well - I asked Steve what I should say. Steve, who speaks psychobabble fluently (one might almost say it is his first language) launched into an ex tempore explanation that was so lucid and perfect I asked if he would just come with me and say it again. He said sure. So last week I went to see my primary and Steve came along as my translator and I left feeling much much better with a referral to a different Someone who does more cognitive behavioral stuff (the first Someone advised yoga and teetotalism - both admirable, sure, but not exactly what I was hoping for right now) and a prescription for the newest generation of Paxil.

It's only been a week but so far the effects have been... funny? Apart from feeling sleepier I noticed that I am also a little more chipper. A little sunnier. A bit of the ol' joie de vivre is creeping back into the day. I started putting on lipstick and mascara again - just because - and yesterday I looked at my jeans, long sleeved Target t-shirt and slumpy grey cardigan of unknown origin and decided on a thirty second make-over. I took off my jungle mocs and put on clunky high heels and I wrapped the sweater into what I thought was an interesting silhouette and then I put a belt over it. I pulled my hair into a chignon and smoothed the frizzy bits down with hair paste. I added a darker lipstick and thought I looked pretty good. I drove to school.

Patrick said, "Your hips are down here and your waist is up here and the belt... did you MEAN to do this?"

Tim Gunn, junior cat edition.

I'm supposed to go back to my primary in a month and check in on how the Paxil is treating me. At that time if I feel exactly like I do right now I would say it isn't touching the anxiety but it might have managed to unearth some previously unsuspected depression and is beating the tar out of it. So that's ok and I'm going to give it more time. I suppose there are other anti-anxiety medications if this one doesn't work for me?

I have to pick Caroline up early from preschool for her eye appointment and I wanted to get some stuff done around the house without my belovable leg shackles so this is going to be brief today but I had two very hypothetical questions for you:

Very Hypothetical Question #1

Suppose your (male) child was in an elementary school class close to the beginning of the school year and the teacher has behaved in a manner that indicates that she might have a problem with boys. Examples of this would include having all of the boys in the class do worksheets (as a punishment for "misbehaving") while the girls were allowed to play a game - twice - or sending home notes to the parents saying that "the boys" had broken the pencil sharpener (what is this? Death on the Nile? How do over a dozen boys collectively break anything?) or the fact that she has placed many boys at desks of their own facing the wall while the rest of the class is grouped into tables. Now suppose that your own Damien has been more or less unaffected with the exception of the mass male punishments but the very idea of singling out any group (black Catholic foreign-born penised) to be punished jointly for the transgressions of a few makes your cuticles ache. Do you... what do you do? Wait it out?

Very Hypothetical Question #2       

In the most general of ways: how much is one obligated to socialize with people one's spouse considers to be important business contacts? It seems so odd to create faux frienships with Mr and Mrs Spacely Sprocket but what do I know; I live in a hollow tree  - do you ever see your significant's boss/clients/whoever socially regardless of personal inclination? Sincere question.

Actually they both are. Also how do you keep an eye patch (maybe. but probably) on a girl who cannot keep her pants on?

PS DAMN IT. Murder on the Orient Express, of course.


Somewhat Lower

So, yeah, we could not find Caroline and when we finally located her she was on the roof. Sort of says it all, doesn't it?

In retrospect - once she was asleep and I had checked on her four times and Steve put some pants on and we both had a Scotch - I realized a few things. I realized that we should have thought to lock her windows. Because, of course, Caroline would climb on the window sill. And, of course, once she was up there she would then be able to combine Cirque du Soleil balance with gecko-like adhesion and truly insane upperbody strength to push up the pane no matter how much it swells with humidity. And, of course, having gotten the window open and the screen out she would then peer into the chilly, inky night and think "What ho! Better investigate the roof!"

Menace Girl, indeed.

I also realized that when I discovered she was gone with only one probable exit I should have used that exit to start to look for her. At the time I was blinded by a suffocating image of her lying on the ground below me, broken, but a more methodical search would have been better. Steve pointed out after we found her on the roof that it had been stupid of us to call for her from the ground - what if she had tried to come closer to the edge when she heard us? A lot of what ifs. What if I had gone to check on her two hours later? What if she had turned right rather than left and gone over that edge? What if she had slipped tripped or decided to practice jumping? What if she had fallen asleep and rolled? What if she hadn't done any of this and the window had actually been opened by a stranger who had taken her? What if... I can do this for hours. 

On the other hand it seems ungrateful to perseverate on every hideous possible outcome when the actual ending to the most frightening fifteen minutes of my life involved a sodden, filthy Caroline beaming around the room at us (Steve: naked and paler than death; Patrick: twisting his hands into knots on her floor; me: shaking and hyperventilating and squeezing her hard enough to pop off her head) and asking if we all wanted to join her in the cuddle cave? We did.

[A cuddle cave is when you pull a blanket over yourself (and preferably a friend) and when Caroline isn't jimmying open windows she loves them.]

What NEXT? That is what worries me with Caroline. It's not the deviltry we know that scares me so much as what she is pondering while we are fastening the exits. Steve can make those windows so secure that even light won't be able to get out but who knows what she will get up to next time. Krissy in the comments talked about leveling up - like when the baby decides to roll for the first time at the exact moment you turn your back for a second and he's on the changing table - and with Edward and Patrick, two cautious souls, they - the next level has always been achieved after a great deal of toe dipping. Caroline's strides are more atomic and...

I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE WAS ON THE ROOF.

All she needed was a snake up there with her and it would have triangulated into my perfect nightmare. Aaaaahhhhh aaaaaaahhhhh aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh

She's fine though. Completely unfazed. A little been there, done that; like,"Ah yes, the roof, Edward. Have you... no?" Smirk.

Caroline has a dramatic streak in her that appeals to my own and I like seeing what she comes up with when I ask her to show me different moods. This is the face she makes when I ask for mysterious. I guess the mystery is why she has her eyes shut?

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You can tell her chin is a little worse for wear after her adventures. I am trying not to think about causality. This is her mad face.

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This is surprised-but-happy.

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This is curl your tongue.

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Not sure when that one will come in hand but I suppose it's always nice to have variety in one's repertoire.

In other much less heart-stopping news Caroline and Edward started preschool. I'm surprised by how much of a non-event this has been, especially for Edward who decided about three weeks ago that he was only happy when I am wearing him as a hat. Seriously. He is in the throws of the most major mommy-attachment phase I have ever witnessed and I dreaded what I anticipated as horrendous separation anxiety when I left him at preschool. But he's been fine. I mean, he got teary when I left today but he's been fine at pick-up and the teachers don't seem significantly older after a morning with him so I assume he settles down with all the cars and trucks after I leave. Caroline didn't bother to say goodbye this morning and all weekend she talked about Miss Whosit and Miss Whatsit and how they must be missing her. She has a very healthy sense of self.

I was supposed to See Someone yesterday but she was ill and rescheduled for this afternoon. I am - not surprisingly I guess - worried about it. I am worried about what I will say and how this could possibly work and I am worried about how I will come across.

Here. True story. About anxiety.

Steve and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Our return flight was supposed to take us from Maui to Honolulu and then to the Cities. But it was delayed for hours in Maui and we watched as they worked on one of the engines. Finally they boarded us and flew us to Honolulu where we were delayed for additional hours while they worked on the plane some more. Eventually we took off and were in the air for whatever it was... four hours?... when they announced that they were experiencing a mechanical problem and as we were just that tiny bit closer to Hawaii than California they were turning the plane around and heading back to Honolulu. Which they did and as we landed we saw all the emergency equipment on the tarmac waiting for us.

Scary, sure, but not completely awful. At the time though I was absolutely convinced that the plane was going to crash and I refused to get back on it. Categorically. Refused. My logic was that we were on our honeymoon and that added a tragic glamour to the whole thing that Fate would be unable to ignore and therefore we were literally doomed. So I insisted that we get tickets on a different plane. One-way tickets to Minneapolis from Honolulu in January with three hours notice. Which... what? I think it cost almost as much as the wedding and when I recently asked Steve why he enabled this lunarific behavior (I'm really not psychic. why would I decide that I was?) he just looked at me like a long-suffering golden retriever.

Anyway I have my appointment today and although it is not entirely unreasonable for me to fear that my children will fall (AHEM) it is unreasonable to never take them to a playground (AHEM.)    

Three different Edward moods, all of them - unlike his sister's - sincere.

Amused

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Very amused

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Not amused

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Thank you so much for your comments. It made me feel better to share how scared I had been and it was even nicer to be wrap up afterwards in your concern and kindness. Very much appreciated.


Of Falling

Caroline falls asleep on the floor. Sometimes under the bed, sometimes under the side table... once inside an open dresser drawer. I usually check on her around nine; move her into her bed, pull up the quilt, smooth the hair away from her face.

Tonight I took Patrick up to his room. Gave him an apple. Left him with a book.

I kept his door open just a little for the cat and went to Caroline. Her room felt cold and I remembered that she only has the one heating duct and thought it might be time to add a duvet to her bed. Her bed was empty. I checked under it - not there either. I moved to the other side of the room and looked under her little table. My heart started to pound. I looked under the bed again. Felt the piled up quilt, opened her closet door, crouched to peer under the dresser. My heart was racing as I looked toward the window where the shade was drawn. The room was cold.

I shoved the shade out of the way - ripping it - and saw the open window, saw the screen pushed onto the porch roof a few feet below, felt the wet air and I almost threw up.

"Caroline?" I put my head out. I looked along the length of the porch roof. It was so dark. "CAROLINE?"

I ran.

I ran into Patrick's room.

"Caroline's gone. Her window is open. Patrick get daddy."

I ran downstairs. Out the front door. I looked along the front walk, in the bushes - to the right of her window the porch roof drops off two more stories onto a concrete patio. I looked there too.

I ran back inside. Found Steve in the shower. Shouted at him. Shouted nonsense. Tried again, said "Steve my god Steve Caroline's window is open. She's gone. I can't find her. Steve I can't find her."

We searched outside. Called her name. Looked into all the dark edges around the house.

Steve went up to her room. I followed and stood there as he crawled out the window onto the roof, calling her name. Over and over.

Then I heard, "Caroline, Caroline, oh sweetheart, here, I'm coming, Daddy's right here, I'm coming."

And he was handing her through the window to me, wet and dirty, holding her pink blankie. She had been crouched in front of Patrick's window on the porch roof, twenty feet away from us. Had she fallen asleep out there?

I held her for a long time. Tucked her into bed. Told her to never ever climb out the window again. Told her I loved her more than salt.

And then we double-locked every goddamned window in this house.

This is a post of thanks I suppose. An acknowledgement that something unthinkable could have happened, almost happened, did not happen. We were luckier than we deserved to be. How did she open that window? I may never sleep again. Caroline, strong tiny beautiful, Caroline, alone in the dark on a wet sloping roof. I will never sleep again.

But I can be grateful. And I can tell you to go lock your windows, too, just in case.


Cry Havoc

My obstetrician said something to me once about the miscarriages that stayed with me. She said that just because the unbalanced translocation was killing off the embryos it didn't mean that we didn't have something else going on that was more subtle but just as murderous. Like Margaret O'Brien's doll who had four fatal diseases and the ice man who noted, "An' it only takes one."

I was thinking about this as I glumped around the place. I'm probably all funked for a lot of reasons and just because I am a gordian knot of Fears it doesn't mean I am not also tired or undernourished or in desperate need of a project that I can both start and finish.

One of the suggestions here had to do with accumulated lack of sleep and melatonin. I have significant insomniac cred - my mother swears that I was a baby who never slept and I am intimately acquainted with the three a.m. panic that only the sleepless know - so I greeted with skepticism (scorn even) the idea that something I could buy in the vitamin section at Target would put me to sleep. Me! But I asked for your help in lifting me out of this pervasive intolerable funk and melatonin was one of the suggestions and I happened to be at Target anyway and... melatonin kicked my ass. It was less like falling into sleep and more like drowning in it. One minute I was reading Georgette Heyer; the next I woke up at four in the morning with my tongue stuck to the pillow and no clear idea of where or who I was. 

I looked up melatonin online and found an MIT study that suggested 0.3 mg is the optimal dosage for adults. Normal OTC tablets are 3.0 mg and although I suppose there are plenty of people for whom that amount does not act like a sock full of nickles to the base of the brain I am not one of them. So I cut one tablet into 8 tiny pieces and I have taken them a few times and it is... quite nice. Like the sleep equivalent of climbing into a hot bath. Even on the micro dose I still wake up a little gummy in the morning but I think it is worth it. So thank you.

Caroline and Edward met their teachers yesterday and toured the preschool classroom. It was all very low-key. Caroline cruised the perimeter (cubbies - climbable, check; windows - climbable, check; sink and cabinets - check and check) and Edward evaluated the things with wheels and then they both went outside to the playground and found things they liked. The few other children who were there at the same time seemed to be about the right size and shape to be peers and both of the two mothers to whom I introduced myself said something wry. All in all it was a successful opening salvo and I am looking forward to having them start. Oh and I learned that we do have to bring all their stuff back and forth with us because they share the space with the three day class and in addition to the clothes and the diapers and the snack and the lunch and the eventual snow stuff we also have to bring bedding (nap mats? I am unfamiliar) every day so I am thinking the Lands Ends Tiny Takes that had seemed so roomy might need a clip-on sherpa. 

I shouldn't tease but this is what Edward looks like when he realizes his hands are dirty

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and meanwhile we have Caroline who spent half an hour shoveling dirt into that wheelbarrow and then she climbed into it and rolled around

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... but they're couuuusssssins, identical cousins and you'll find...

Anyone? Patty Duke? Hello?

My point is that Caroline and Edward would sue the administration if they ever found themselves assigned to the same dorm room.

--- Steve has the twins outside right now so that I can write this. He just scared the beejeezums out of me by pounding on the window behind me and then he shouted "I can't find Caroline!" before running off again. I just spent a scary ten minutes searching the woods in my socks while Edward trotted next to me saying helpfully "She must be hiding somewhere." 

Just because you are anxious doesn't mean the world isn't a terrifying place full of danger -- 

Good lord my heart is still pounding. Random picture of Caroline the lefty inserted like filler while I calm down.

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Patrick started school on Tuesday and they leapt instantly into work, which startled both of us as his old school favored a more gradual approach to settling into the year. Patrick came home on the second day and said he needed to have the 2's and 3's tables memorized by next Friday. I thought he was joking. Yesterday for homework he had to finish writing his spelling words into sentences

(Sentences Patrick came up with that I remember: 1. The woods have no conveniences, unlike home; 2. After painting the cat blue the two-year-olds continued with their escapades; 3. The cat crawled cautiously out from under the bed after he was painted.)

He also brought home a couple of sheets that they had done as a... can I call it a teambuilding exercise in the third grade?... teambuilding exercise, which included Things I Know (Maybe) and About Me. I found some of his answers (or lack thereof) amusing:

1. My name is Patrick

2. I like to be called Patrick

7. I live with the two year old twins, Caroline and Edward, my mom & dad, and 1,805,972,366,241,000 dust particles.

8. My favorite music group is (I hate music!*)

9. Three things I have never eaten: anchovy pizza, sunflower seeds, people

16. Last thing I lost was (I keep track of my things!**)

18. The youngest person I know is Edward

1. The name of our president obama

2. The name of our governor ????????

3. The name of a popular movie star ??????

5. One state that touches our state north dakota south dakota wisconsin iowa

8. The name of one artist Pablo Picasso

11. Two countries in Europe Turkey and Finland***

and my personal favorite

7. Four famous inventions that changed our lives the toilet, the lawn mower, the vacuum cleaner and the hot glue gun****.

* What?

** WHAT???

*** Quick, name the first two European countries that spring to mind. Were they... Turkey and Finland? No?

****When I mentioned that I was contemplating a sewing machine for Patrick a very very nice woman left a comment offering him one that she swore she never used. I dithered a bit but eventually accepted and she mailed it and when it arrived Steve and the mailman carried it into the hall like one of Tut's fatter cousins.

Patrick was beside himself when he discovered that there was a sewing machine in the box in the hall. It was like a very crafty Christmas as Steve admired all the (bobbins?) and Patrick read aloud from the manual about (serging?) and I gathered up the paper it had been wrapped in.

Patrick said he wanted to get started sewing something right away. I said fine and suggested he make a pillowcase, all rectangular with nice long straight lines.

Patrick said, "Actually I would like to make a hat."

I said a hat sounded like a great idea and he should definitely do that some day and in the meantime... how about a pillowcase? He responded by sketching the hat he had in mind. I looked at the hat design and reminded him about gravity and said that maybe it might be fun to make a pillowcase. He added some bling to his sketch. I said, pillowcase? and he just stared at me.

So I told him I would take him to the fabric store and we could look for materials and see if they had anything fun that might interest him; something perhaps in a nice, soft fabric that we could cut into rectangles, sew together and then flip inside out. He said sure and we would need to buy some wire. For the hat.

So Patrick and I went to Joann fabrics and he went through the remnants like a sirocco. Then he hit notions and then he swung into the jewelry making aisle and as we shopped we squabbled about the impracticality of making a hat.

"We don't know HOW," I said.

"Take some wire, twist it into a shape you like, stretch fabric over it, sew it along the rim and then," he waved his hands around, "we'll figure out the rest."

I told him it wasn't going to work and he said it would and two days later... 

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I stand corrected.

Seriously. I know I am the least nimble-fingered person in the upper Midwest and I am therefore easily impressed but isn't that hat mostly superb? And it fits him. And it is a HAT. A little loud for my taste, true, but still. If I knew how to stick up one of those facebook like buttons I would and then I would ask if you liked it and then you would say yes (wouldn't you? how could you not? it's a HAT) and Patrick would be able to see the likes and he would be pleased. You know, it's hard to be in a funk when you live with someone who might one day consent to make you a hat.

Like like like.

PS Sorry. What a horrible storyteller. Caroline was found in the woods and we all lived happily ever after. The end.


And Nothing To Dread

I tried to get an appointment to See Someone using the online scheduler but my request to see [ANY PROVIDER] at [ANY] time between [August 30th] and [FOREVER] was met with a regretful "We are unable to process your request for an appointment. Please expand your request and try again." I was tempted to take this as a sign that I should just forget the whole thing but I persevered, largely because somewhere in the middle of the comments (with notable and gratefully acknowledged nudging from Jan and Katerina) I realized that: 

1. I have suffered from anxiety my entire life (see: Preschool, The Dropout Year; Kindergarten, Where Older Brothers Come To Eat Lunch; Grades 1-10, A Guide to Truancy, From Faking Sick to Faking Signatures; and, finally, Everything After: Is That a Drink in Your Hand or Are You Just Terrified to See Me)

2. I need to do something about it, because

3. it isn't normal to worry so much and

4. I don't want to do it anymore

So I mastered my fears

[Actual fear with which I grappled: I will see a mental health specialist and this will become part of my permanent health record and we will lose our health insurance due to some unspecified financial catastrophe and when I try to get new health insurance I will be rejected because of the behavioral file and two weeks later I will be diagnosed with a survivable form of cancer but we will be unable to pay for treatment and I will die a slow death and then Steve will be left widowed at that dangerous midlife crisis age which will cause him to remarry a voluptuous but completely unsuitable younger woman who will cause my children life-long harm through her selfishness and lack of compassion]

and scheduled an appointment for mid-September.

I am still in a funk, which I think is only tangentially related to the anxiety and more directly connected to the fact that Caroline no longer needs a nap but if you try to put her in her room for quiet time she will instantly fall asleep on the floor. There is apparently no amount of sleep too small that it does not reset her clock so once she is out for five seconds she is then completely wired for another twelve hours. So I have had her with me every fraction of every moment of every day for weeks and I am getting nothing accomplished. Nothing. Clutter always makes me feel like my life is out of control and as I have frequently observed: happiness is setting obtainable goals and reaching them. For me unhappiness is setting obtainable goals and watching them turn grey and floppy while I fish my arm down the heating duct pipe trying to get back a puzzle piece and as I do so someone who shall remain nameless pees on the rug six feet away.

Someone in the comments suggested that perhaps my malaise might be related to worry over what I am going to do with myself now that all three children will be out of the house two mornings a week and I admit that I barked when I read it. Ha HA! I am so oversaturated with children (and love. loving children) that fifty hours a day to myself for the next fifty years will barely scratch the surface of what I want to get done without having one eye peeled for a naked, marker-wielding, wall-climbing Spidergirl and without the eternal presence of her sidekick, the calf-gripping Mamasboy. I have a book I want to write. I have articles I want to pitch. I have a deconstructed eggs benedict recipe I want to try, a basement to FlyLady*, a Lego Robotics team I want to coach, a sewing machine owners manual to translate, a husband with whom I would like to take bridge lessons. Caroline and Edward are wonderful beyond words and loved beyond all measure but it's time for them to have a little break from me and vice versa. Actually you know what? It IS about the anxiety because do you know what I just imagined as I wrote that last sentence? I imagined the relief I will feel when I have several hours twice a week during which time I won't be listening for a crash, a scream, and the crescendo'ing MOOOOOOMMMMMEEEEEEE that indicates something terrible has happened.

Anxiety and an introvert's nightmare (I once read that an extrovert is someone who gets their energy from social interaction and an introvert is someone who can only restore theirs when they are alone. This made sense to me and I wondered if "alone" can include people you adore and I have recently concluded that it can not. "Alone" means "alone" and yes, Patrick, shouting the details of your plans for a tri-level cat condo at me through the bathroom door does count as "bothering your mother while she is taking a bath") my recipe for a full-blown funk. 

Sorry, I shouldn't complain, and thank you. You're nice to listen.

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If you had asked me two days ago how the Ffarm was I would have said that I didn't want to talk about it. If you had asked me again I would have said I really didn't want to talk about it and then before you could change the subject I would have harangued you for an hour with my peevish descriptions of the heat and the humidity and the mosquitoes and the odd smell in the barns (not so odd, actually - the previous owner at one point raised over 400 sheep) and the fetid, partially drained koi pond with the tippy surrounding stones with which Edward was fucking obsessed and the helpful dogs who would open the screen door for Edward so that he could run back to the koi pond no matter how many times I tried to incarcerate him. And I would have mentioned the fact that Steve had sworn on his Cabelas Master Catalog that he would watch the children while we were there but I was unable to remind him of this promise as he essentially disappeared the moment we arrived.

Since then I have lost patience with my own crabbiness and - although all of these things were true and irritated the hell out of me at the time - I have decided to make a pointed effort to be sunnier.

The farm is really very pretty

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I don't think I am ever going to be as hopelessly in love with the place** as Steve and his friend are but I can imagine developing a fondness for it. There is one room in particular that I already love; it has the most beautiful light all day long and while I was watching Caroline and Edward putter around rather than nap I sat in a puddle of it and read the entire Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which you had recommended. I enjoyed it tremendously. The book, I mean, but also the light. And the room.

Speaking of books and book recommendations and... ah... jewelry it seems like the summer advertising doldrums might be over and I have some ads up again.

My beloved Clarity (blog reader, jewelry designer, wearer of hats, buyer of ads) has purchased space on my sidebar and she makes lovely things (back to school treat! pre-Halloween present to yourself) that she sells at reasonable prices and you can see them all if you click right here.

The Well-Read Wife reviews books here

And the Sierra Club is encouraging people to get involved with community service projects to honor 9/11 with more information available here.

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If you know how to put a banner ad into Typepad email me please.

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When my mother was here she observed that Edward is the only one of our three children who plays with toys in their intended fashion. His toy cars drive. His toy planes fly. When he looks through a book he starts at the beginning and flips through the pages one at a time and right side up. When he wasn't throwing rocks into the koi pond he sat in the driveway with his steamroller and his bulldozers and he did road work.

I like his straightforwardness.


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Caroline is the opposite of straightforward. What would that be? Twisty? Every time she latches onto to me with one of her pellucid stares I always know she is up to something.

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Why does Patrick always try to look like Oliver Twist on a bad day when I take his picture? Contrary to what he might have you believe with his woeful expression he was having a great time when I took this picture. He and the other kids disappeared when we got there and would only show up again for meals and anti-itch cream. Mosquitoes, holy cats, the mosquitoes.

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*I signed up for Fly Lady emails a couple of months ago and I tried, I really tried to like them. I love some of the ideas; like setting a timer and tackling big projects in small stages and doing a load of laundry every day and staying on top of clutter-prone zones. I am skeptical about others: if I only vaccum or mop the center of a room what the fuck is supposed to happen to the giant cat hair berms that would then form on the periphery? But my major problem was that I was receiving 'testimonial' emails at a rate of about one every fifteen minutes and 98% of them made me want to claw out my eyes.

So either there is already a slightly less sticky alternative that you can share with me or I am going to start one. Whaddya say?! Who wants to spend the next month cleaning out their bedroom closet with me?

Eh? Anyone? I'll get the giant leaf bags.

Oh you know what I did start doing that was kinda quasi-Fly Lady and very useful? At the end of the day I carry one of the giant LL Bean tote bags around the first floor and I throw everything into that is in the wrong room and then I go around again and unload it in the right rooms. Is it helping? Well not much (see: enormous funk) but it is certainly better than my old technique which was to move each item individually.

** I think everyone has a visceral response to certain regions and I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with where you grew up, either. Personally I am happiest when it is cool, raining and bright green and a little gray. I also like Maine and the Maritimes - that area. You know that fantasy you have (well I have but it is possible I am depressed) about where you would go if you had all of the money in the world and no one needing you elsewhere? I always picture something in a cottage - but modern with good windows and an excellent kitchen - on one of the northern coasts. Midwestern agriculture, in contrast, does little for me and mountains almost nothing at all. Meanwhile, nothing sets Steve's heart racing faster than a well-tended mostly flat field and he looooves Colorado. I sometimes wonder if we will retire to separate latitudes and meet for naughty weekends that will scandalize the children.

You? Where do you see yourself?