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January 2011

Perambulin' Prose

I am on day five of the cabbage soup diet. If you have ever been silly enough to try this borderline eating disorder food plan you will understand when I say STEAK DAY.

The cabbage soup diet goes like this:

Day one - Eat soup and all the fruit you want. No bananas. No sugar. No alcohol. Limit liquids to tea, water or unsweetened fruit juice.

Day two - Soup plus high-fiber, no starch vegetables. Think broccoli, spinach, carrots... no corn, peas or beans. That night you get to treat yourself to a baked potato with butter and it is pretty much the most delicious thing ever.

Day three - Soup plus fruit AND vegetables. Score.

Day four - Soup plus skim milk and up to eight bananas. I mixed the milk and bananas with a couple of ice cubes and some cinnamon and pretended it was a shake. It tasted pretty good.

Day five - STEAK DAY. Up to 20 ounces of beef (or chicken or fish. plain, no skin) plus up to six tomatoes and the soup. Drink lots of water. I marinated flank steak in soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest and a little water and grilled it. It is now the new most delicious thing ever.

Day six - Beef plus soup plus vegetables.

Day seven - Brown rice and soup.

Now, doesn't that sound ridiculous?

A week before we left for vacation last summer I realized that none of my nicer summer things fit properly and I decided that I needed to either buy new clothes (not happening) or lose about five pounds, preferably in my hindquarters. So I asked google if there was a way to lose five pounds in seven days and google suggested that a healthy lifestyle which balances a reasonable diet with moderate exercise is the best way to reach and maintain an appropriate body weight. I told google not to be an ass and it grudgingly brought me to the cabbage soup diet pointing out that it was monstrously unhealthy and the sodium levels in the soup recipe were insane and living on nothing but soup for days was liable to cause otherwise doting mothers to fling their children out into the snow for talking about waffles.

I said uh-huh but does it work?

And google said, well, yeah, I guess but...

So I tried it and by the end of the week I had lost eleven pounds and none of my nicer summer things fit properly because they were sliding off my emaciated frame. I spent the first half of our week in Vermont hoiking up my trousers with my thumbs until regularly administered doses of ice cream and red wine brought me back to normal again. It was an interesting exercise in the luge run of asceticism ending in the snow pile of gluttony. I loved it. I loved it so much that I made a mental note that I am capable of becoming semi-addicted to anything including self-denial and I should probably steer clear of such things in the future.

But after Christmas I was feeling like someone who had spent two weeks consuming vast quantities of alcohol and whipping cream (not together. but not not together either) and I remembered how great I had felt the last time I starved myself (apart from the dreams about french bread) so I decided to try the diet again. Not so much for the weight loss as for the exhilaration I felt when I was sloshing with soup and smug.

(Although now that I think about it Patrick and I are going to Arizona next week - my stepmother has been quite ill and it's been much too long since we've seen them - and maybe a recessed part of my mind was wondering how 5000 snowflake shaped peppermint patties are going to look in capris.)

So that's what I've been doing all week. Eating soup. Oh and I hope it goes without saying that I am in no way endorsing this - because it is bad for you. I'm merely telling you what I initially did to temporarily drop a couple sizes in seven days and what I am now doing because my fondness for Fat Tire beer (of all things) is causing me to inflate like a pool toy.


Thank you for all of your thoughts on the school question. You were extremely helpful, as always.

I had actually presented the problem to Patrick a few weeks ago as we drove to school.

His initial response was, "I am NOT changing schools again."

I sympathized but explained that the situation required that he would most definitely change schools again; the only question was when. And then I detailed the grade gap that he was facing between his current district and our home district and why we were talking about it now rather than just waiting a couple of years.

Patrick listened and then said that he should probably just skip sixth grade.

I said yeeeeeeeaaaaaaah, that's possible? And we might decide that skipping into seventh is the right decision at that time? And we will certainly keep it as an option? But the difference between a single year at that age can be enormous and I was worried that he might be uncomfortable if he were surrounded by bigger kids all day. I pointed out how much Edward and Caroline changed between the ages of one and two and said that sometimes the difference between 10 and 11 or 11 and 12 can feel almost that huge.

He nodded.

Then I pointed out that going to a closer school that was designed like his current one would mean he could sleep a little later in the morning and that he might be able to do after school playdates if he had school friends who lived closer to us.

He said, "So I would have even more friends?"

And I said, "Yes! I guarantee it!"

[What's he going to do? Sue me?]

He said, "I'm in" and then realized that he might have just committed himself so he hastily changed it to, "I mean, I'll think about it."  I said we would go take a look at the options later in the winter and it might all be a moot point because the school that was closer to us is highly competitive and lots of kids wanted to take just a few spaces and I wasn't sure he could even get in. His eyes narrowed and he started to casually tell me about some piece of mathematical wizardry he had performed in class recently. I was secretly very pleased with myself. It's not often that Patrick falls into one of my psychological traps.

- speaking of mathematical wizardry (or complete lack thereof) I am baffled. Patrick's class was asked to memorize multiplication and division facts in anticipation of starting more complicated stuff this trimester. We made flashcards. He learned them. I mean, he's a little erratic on anything having to do with 24 (he seems to have an actual dislike of that number "Ah my old enemy 24," he said last night when he said 8 rather than 6) but apart from that and a little finger-wiggling as he brings up the numbers he's pretty solid at home. At home, I repeat, because he keeps bombing the timed review tests at school. I've asked him (nicely) what the hell and he has offered that the class is too distracting, that he just forgets, that he is afraid of success and therefore fails or that the sun was in his eyes. Meanwhile his teacher is sending increasingly larger notes to the effect that he must learn his math facts

Any thoughts? Like I said I'm baffled. I'm going to ask his teacher at conferences in two weeks but if you have any ideas on the whys and the what nexts of selective memory I'm open. -

As for school next year we'll see. The closer school is having an open house in February and we'll all go see what we think of the place. Someone in the comments mentioned what a shame it is you cannot test drive a school by sitting in classes for a few days and I agreed wholeheartedly. It's hard to get a sense of how things actually function by studying the wall decorations and watching a powerpoint presentation. The charter school meeting we attended spoke at length about how they were able to tailor their curriculum to each child individually and the hoops through which they leapt to make sure that fast learners were given accelerated work while those who needed more help in certain areas were appropriately supported. This all sounded great but when they got to the Q&A the first question was from a parent (not me! I am NOT this parent) who asked, "What do you have in place for gifted children?" (emphasis hers)

The guy said, brightly, well, we meet the needs of every child and gave a couple of examples and then said, "Of course very rarely you get a kid who is so extreme that we have to talk about extra steps. I can only think of five that we've had - like the second grader who could do eighth grade math. I mean, what do you do with that? We tried to approach it like he had a disability." Steve and I looked at each other.

I do understand and even appreciate what the guy meant but it is not the place for Patrick.

Anyway, we'll see. I feel quite fortunate that we're in a good situation right now and only need to change it if we think it will be a better situation for all of us - short term and long term. It's not an awful problem to have.


Edward's teacher called in the middle of this post and said that he was coughing so hard they were worried about him. Poor Edward - everything always goes right to his lungs. I went to get them and it was obvious that his mild cold from this morning has morphed into a bad one.

They had their three year appointment last Friday, which is where I assume they picked up the virus. They both got vaccines (Caroline got the prevnar 13; we discovered that we had skipped two vaccines at Edward's two year appointment so he got those plus the new prevnar) and by dinnertime their eyes glassed over and Caroline just put her head on the table and moaned. The next day she had her highest fever ever and although I am hesitant to attach causality to something that may merely share temporality I have to say that I think her 104 temperature was caused by the vaccine.


They went into my bedroom and got pillows and then made themselves a foot-to-foot bed on the couch. It was pretty cute. Then they demanded television, juice and medicine. That was less cute.

Not much new from the three year appointment. Edward is 50th percentile for height, 50-75th for weight; Caroline is 25th percentile for both. She was in her element - there is nothing she likes better than a meeting convened expressly for the purpose of talking about her. So enough about me... what do YOU think about me?

She shook hands with the doctor when he came into the room and said, "It's nice to meet you again" before offering him his choice of treats: would he like to look in her eyes or see her balance on one foot? Would he care to hear her views on the lack of realism in the Noah's Ark poster on the wall ("Why aren't the tigers eating the sheeps?") She sang a few bars of a song of her own composition, the lyrics of which change every time but it generally includes something to the effect of "If I'm so happy why do I cry and cry and cryyyyyyyyyyy."

He pronounced her healthy, appropriately proportioned and very precocious. He said, "I think you're going to have trouble with this one" in that cheerful singsong of therebutforthegrace. 

Which reminds me, I was talking to my mother this afternoon and somehow the subject of elaborate Spring trips for high school seniors came up. My mom said she only let my brother go to Rehobeth and I said, "And me!"

Then there was an awkward silence as I remembered that actually it was my junior year and she had forbidden me to go and I went anyway. By Greyhound. After saying I would be staying the night with a neighboring friend.

My mother clearly was thinking about the same thing because she gave an ominous cackle and said, "I cannot WAIT until Caroline is a teenager."


Neither can Caroline.


We were in Joann fabrics again last weekend so Patrick could buy a few yards of corduroy he had coveted but when he saw the fleece with cars all over it he chose that instead and said he wanted to make pants for Edward. Then he found a ladybug print that he thought Caroline would like and when we got home he went to work.


Two hours later he had two crazyadorable pairs of elastic-waisted wee trousers. 


Caroline loves hers.


Edward took a little convincing


But eventually agreed.


He's a nice kid and damn is he able to do things with his hands.


I know I know... wrapping up.

Patrick and I have narrowed our next audiobook choice down to...

1. Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series

2. The Charlie Bone books

3. The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Which one do you suggest?

For you: The Septimus Heap series is still our favorite and Patrick is reading the books now because we liked it so much on audio. Really smart, fun fantasy. I loved the Graveyard Book SO MUCH as read by Neil Gaiman - talk about an embarrassment of riches; how can someone who writes so well also be such a talented voice actor? And we are enjoying the Artemis Fowl books (narrated by Nathaniel Parker only. we wound up with one by the other guy and couldn't stand it) very very much.

Imminently Eminent

Steve believes that the recent cavity in my molar is somehow related to the fact that I like to eat peppermint patties in bed but Steve also believes that Tuesday's prokaryotes became Wednesday's bunnies so clearly he buys into a lot of superstitious foklore. Whatever the reason (personally I think I was hexed by one of my many parking lot nemesii) the left side of my face is now numb and I spent an hour this morning trying to field questions without the use of my tongue or lips.

Did we travel for the holidays? Unhhhnnnuh uh uhn.

As I left the office my dentist cheerfully reminded me to keep flossing and it was all I could do not to roll my eyes at her. What - does she subscribe to Steve's newsletter? I suppose she also thinks that just the one heaping spoonful of sugar in my tea is plenty even though everyone knows that two is so much better.

It's like dealing with Druids.

The children are all in school today and it is so nice to have some time in the house without them. I cannot believe I once thought 9 to 2 was too long for Caroline and Edward to be away from me. HA! I just submitted my application for them to continue there next Fall and - although I hated to pass on the local preschool we liked so much with Patrick - I am giddy at the thought that they will go three days a week next year. Of course the three year old class presupposes that Edward will be paper trained by then but surely he will be. Right? RIGHT?

Currently he parries my every attempt to ease him toward the bathroom with: blank incomprehension, flat refusal, impeccable logic or devilish sophistry

1.     Me: Edward, would you like to try to pee on the potty?

        Edward: I have five carth.

2.     Me: Edward, how about you go sit on the potty and we can read that book?

        Edward: How bout no.

3.     Me: Would you like to wear underpants with cars and trucks on them?

        Edward: I can thee carth and tructh in my bookth.

4.     Me (carrying a befouled Edward to be changed while he struggles): Enough! You need a new diaper! You have poop in your pants. Nobody likes that. It's uncomfortable and it smells.

        Edward (gazing at me with his wide grey eyes): I thmell flowerth.

True story.

Also, whatever, Edward.

On the plus side Caroline did, indeed, toilet train herself just before their birthday. One day she dragged the little potty into the living room and used it. The next day she decided she preferred a potty seat in the bathroom and the day after that she asked for a foot stool and ditched the seat. I found her sitting on the toilet like an elf perched on the rim of a volcano. The proportions seem wildly off to me but it doesn't appear to bother her. At first she was a little reluctant to, um, fully commit to the new system but a package of Dora stickers got her over the initial hesitation and there it is. Two children down and I still don't have the slightest idea how any of it works. Patrick was ridiculously old and needed to be bribed. Caroline didn't didn't didn't and then she did. And Edward seems to be toying with me.

As far as I can tell it is all completely random and this is one of the many many reasons why I will never write a book on parenting.  Potty training, sleep or lack thereof, eating... . I used to believe that children who were given healthy normal food (as opposed to, say, deep-fried cheese and ketchup soup) would eat healthy normal food. And to an extent I still believe this. If your morning choices are oatmeal Cheerios and yogurt I think you will probably eat oatmeal Cheerios or yogurt for breakfast. It's when you add Sugarsmacks into the equation that all hell breaks loose. I got Patrick a box of FrootLoops around Christmas; partly because he asked for them and partly because I love Frootloops (huh. it was almost as if I could hear my dentist muttering her voodoo nonsense in the wind.) Caroline had never had such junk in her life but she got one look at the box, narrowed her eyes at her oatmeal and said, "I want colored Cheerios. I WANT COLORED CHEERIOS!"

I let her have some. Mistakes were made.

Patrick has - has always had - self control. He will eat a bowl of FrootLoops, enjoy it and then possibly want another bowl in about six months. Caroline took three weeks to detox from her first taste of sugared cereal and will still interrupt conversations about the snow to moan, "More colored Cheerios. Mooooooooore. I want mooooooore."

It's very disturbing. So limiting her food choices to healthy options (not to mention keeping her away from nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, crystal meth, off-shore gambling, and Amazon Prime) makes sense. Where Patrick can be trusted to take the occasional treat in moderation Caroline is clearly one M&M away from mainlining pixie stix. Stixes.

So she usually only gets to choose between, say, brown rice and browner rice and as a result the little she takes in is fairly good for her. That said, she will not eat a green vegetable. Or most proteins. Or almost anything mixed together. I once read that you sometimes have to offer a new food to a child as many as twelve or fifteen times before it will be accepted. I think that's complete nonsense invented by people who lucked into a good eater that just didn't take to squid right away. Caroline has looked down a plate of broccoli/asparagus/spinach every day for the last year and a half and has never swallowed so much as a mouthful. I tried using dip as an enticement but she would simply put the broccoli in the dip, put both in her mouth and then she would delicately spit the broccoli onto the floor where we would have to bodily prevent Edward from going to retrieve it. 

Edward loves vegetables. And fruit. Curry, tofu, lox, wheatberries, cod and blue cheese. He finished an entire bowl of exceedingly spicy salsa the other day and then licked the bowl afterward; Patrick will not eat anything upon which he can see visible black pepper. Caroline once rejected plain yogurt as "too hot." Same family, same nurture - different species.The only things Edward will not eat - oddly - are eggs and potatoes, putting himself firmly in Patrick's camp on these two items. How is it I have the only three children in the world who will not eat a frenched fry? It's so weird. And how anyone can dislike a nice egg... 

Good grief where was I? Talking about how children develop at their own pace and are born with their own pre-dispositions and I think parents take a lot more credit/discredit for things than we should... but why?        

Dunno. Moving on.

A little over a year ago a reader sent me a note telling me that she had a small business making interesting things for children and asking if she could send Patrick a cape. I said yes thank you and in due time a purple and silver cape arrived in the mail. Patrick loved it mightily. Later, another package arrived and inside were two littler capes - one blue/silver and the other maroon/gold.

They have kicked around the play room ever since and it is a constant source of pleasure (and amazement) to me how much fun they get out of the things, especially now that Caroline and Edward are starting to take a more intelligent interest in Patrick's madcappery*.  

UltraPatrick, Menace Girl and MegaWheels, ready to fight crime




* the letters on the board were intended to represent a rainbow trapped in a time stream. Patrick kept exhorting the twinkles to "Defeat the powers of darkness! Free the spectrum!"

I keep meaning to talk about life on Celexa but I'll have to get back to that next time because I have been writing this piecemeal all day long and I have vowed to just finish the damned thing before Steve and I start our movie in five minutes.

Before I go, though, I'd like to ask your opinion on something headed: It's January, I must be worrying about school for next year for somebody. Caroline and Edward, next year, three days, nine to two, get to take swimming in preschool - check and check.

Patrick - hmmm.

Here's the dilemma. Patrick's current school is fine. Great, even. This year isn't the cotton candy tilt-a-whirl of freeform creative impulse that he floated through last year but I think that's a good thing. Patrick has a tendency to prefer to do things his own way all the time and I struggle with this; sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Just tonight I pointed an indignant finger at his school planner and asked why the page that was supposed to keep track of this week's homework was covered with a sketch. Patrick peered over my shoulder and said, "But it isn't a vulgar sketch!" like his self-restraint should have been commended. Not amused.

A month ago though I found myself telling him that he is welcome to flout all sorts of conventions in life but it is necessary to do so in a way that indicates his originality is rooted in knowledge not ignorance. He blinked at me. Then five minutes later he returned and said, "Oh! I get it! You mean that I need to know how to do something before I can do it my own way!" Eureka.

Anyway his teacher is gently but firmly letting him know that he really cannot keep capitalizing letters at random and I think that is an excellent thing.

So the school is a good fit and would be fine for another two years. HOWEVER

(there is always an however)

it ends in fifth grade. He cannot continue in this district after that (for a lot of reasons.) And our home district continues elementary school through sixth grade and doesn't start middle school until seventh. Which means unless we come up with a different plan Patrick will show up at our local elementary for sixth grade only. The social ramifications are pretty big, I think, and he will have already completed the sixth grade curriculum by then so academically it kinda blows chunks as well.

The alternative is that our district offers a version of Patrick's current school (school within a school specifically for highly gifted kids who test into it) which starts in fourth grade and goes through sixth. The pros include the fact that it is about fifty percent closer to our house (which not only cuts my drive time but also means that any friends he makes might actually be able to come over without giant scheduling problems) and it feeds into the middle school where they cluster them. The con is that it would be Patrick's third elementary school without any of the others, like, burning down or something.

Any thoughts? Did I explain that well enough? Is it better to leave him where he is and deal with sixth grade when it arrives or move him proactively and hope the transplant goes as well as the last one?

Patrick made his first pair of pants, by the way, using a pattern and fabric he most totally picked out by himself. He wanted to know if you (he has the vague idea that I am friends with a couple hundred people who we never see but whose opinions we value) think they're snazzy.


PS He says to tell you there are pockets on the knees that are camouflaged. 'Camouflage' being the very word I was going to select to describe those pants. Just imagine trying to find him in Jimi Hendrix's house.


Happy (1) holidays; (2) birthday; (3) to see you again; (4) anniversary; (5) that I got the flu last time; (6) New Year

1. Patrick is exceedingly droll and a reward unto himself but for the person hoping to experience classic parental moments of lip-curving pleasure he has always been something of a trial, especially around the holidays. Not for one second of his existence has Patrick ever believed in elves. Rather than clasp his hands in surprised joy at the sight of the presents on Christmas morning he has been known to raise his eyebrows and say, "Really? Did we really need more stuff?" When I told Caroline and Edward that Santa might put presents in their stockings on Christmas Eve Patrick sat them both down and asked them to consider - seriously consider - whether the concept of Santa Claus made any sense whatsoever. And for the first six years of his life Patrick would open one gift and then devote his entire attention to it, firmly refusing to open anything else because (see?) he already had a gift and, really, that was plenty.

Killjoy, that's the word I was looking for. Curmudgeon. That's another.


I call this: The Magical Wonderment of Christmas Eve through a Child's Eyes. Scoot over, Norman Rockwell.

Patrick does like decorating the tree, though. And Edward likes whatever Patrick likes.


Actually, pausing Christmas for a moment, Edward has become Patrick's shorter, stockier, sportier doppleganger.




Patrick played constantly with the twinkles over the break and when he went back to school yesterday I thought Edward was going to go all suttee. It took four back-to-back episodes of Wonder Pets to coax him back from the edge of madness and despair. It was sewious.

Meanwhile back in Whoville

IMG_2877 IMG_2871 IMG_2882 IMG_2884  
Caroline was so excited about Christmas she broke into spontaneous interpretive dance. She wasn't just merry; she was funky.

On the consumer front:

Edward got the parking garage from page 42 of the catalog (excuse me, magazine) that he has been sleeping with since Halloween. We helped him unwrap it and after a moment's stunned silence he said, "Oh it's Edward's parking lot!" and hugged the box.

My Dad and stepmother sent Caroline a thing called a funroller which is basically a giant inflatable hamster wheel for children. It was just what she needed.


A few weeks ago I went through the billion sticky notes that Patrick had placed in the Edmund Scientific catalog and discovered that there wasn't the slightest chance we were going to get him anything he coveted. Is it possible he may one day apply for a grant that will enable him to acquire a Celestron telescope? Sure. Am I going to buy him one? NO. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas that he might actually he get and he looked all liquid-eyed and said, "Christmas is really just about being together as a family" which of course made me want to slap him. So I said, "Ok, if you only got ONE thing for Christmas what would you hope it might be?"

He said, "Wait! What?? I'm only getting one present for Christmas?" (which... what price family-togetherness now, eh Saint Patrick?) and I said at this rate you aren't getting any so he stopped goading me and picked... a Lego set that I later discovered is out-of-stock until January. But Citiblocs. That's where I was going. In sheer desperation I ordered him a couple hundred Citiblocs which are a less expensive but perfectly serviceable version of Kapla blocks and they are absolutely terrific. Seven thumbs up.

All in all a very nice Christmas.


2. Caroline and Edward turned three.


Caroline got a doll who she named Tia. Tia now spends a lot of time stuffed between couch cushions unless I happen to walk by with a camera whereupon Caroline instantly becomes all maternal solicitude. She's not the most nurturing of personalities but she has great dramatic instincts.

Edward got a train table. I do not have a picture of Edward with his train table because any time someone walks within twenty feet of it Edward yells NO! MINE! and flings himself bodily over the trestles and bridges. I haven't really wanted to capture these moments of fraility although I did inadvertently get a pure Edward moment on Christmas Eve. Here he is a milisecond into a rage. Note the flared nostrils and the wild gleam in his eyes. It's not pretty. Actually, it IS pretty. Edward is always pretty. But shortly after the teeth clench he starts smacking things. I suppose in a way it is fortunate Caroline is a biter.

Anyway they turned three and opened their presents and were cute and pleased and said appropriate things like "Oh SANK you" and "Here, Tarayine, it's for you."

I told them we would have a party that night and our friends would come and there would be cake.

Caroline said, "And party hats?"

Party hats? 

I said, "Sure."


I grew up in Washington DC where there are lots of different people who believe and celebrate lots of different things and where the expression "Happy holidays" is meant to convey both a friendly greeting and an acknowledgement that you are deserving of happiness however you spend the year's end; not - I don't think - as an intentional slight to the franchised majority. But I digress. Growing up I was friends with lots of different people and some of them were Jewish and one of my favorite childhood memories is of attending an all ages New Year's Eve party where the hosts had set out the largest bowl of candy I had ever seen (good stuff, too, like Tootsie rolls and Bazooka gum) along with dreidels and I sat there and spun for hours.

I wanted to recreate something similar this year at our house (what can I say? I like candy) so I stopped at a place called Party City one afternoon to buy a dreidel or seven. In the store I went up two hundred linear feet of Christmas decorations and then down another two hundred ditto of ditto without seeing so much as a single Star of David anywhere. I thought I must be in the wrong aisle so I asked a store clerk where the Hanukkah stuff was and she said, "Sorry. We don't carry anything like that."

I thanked her and looked at the angels and the Santas and the green and the red and the crosses and the tinsel and I vowed that I would never shop there again. I appreciate savvy merchandising as much as the next girl but really.

So imagine my chagrin when Caroline said she wanted party hats. DIEGO party hats. And something with trucks for Edward. And I found myself back in Party City for the second time in a week because where else was I going to fulfill such specific birthday wishes in less than four hours?

I still need a dreidel for next year but this time I am going to do my shopping somewhere other than the eastern suburbs of Saint Paul Minnesota.
On the plus side the hats were a big hit.


After the singing and the cake Edward stood on his chair and applauded, presumably for all of it. Caroline stood up next to him and wrapped her arms around him and whispered something. She has never done this before in her life and I would give anything to know what she said to him but I never will.

3. I woke up on the morning our Christmas houseguests left and enjoyed the feeling that comes with successfully dispatching one's hostessing obligations after a fun but hectic seven days. I had nothing to do that morning but keep the children mostly alive and possibly break down another 300 cardboard Amazon boxes.

Steve walked through the room, looked at me lying bonelessly in our bed and said, "I think they're coming around lunchtime."

I said, "WHAT?"

Steve was instantly defensive. He said, "I TOLD you my friends were coming to stay for a couple of nights. Last week. I told you last week." You can always tell when Steve secretly knows he's wrong because he gets so very strident about how right he is. Also he tends to walk away in the middle of a sentence.

I followed him into the kitchen.

"Who? What? When? Guests? Now? Today? Are you kidding?"

So he reminded me who and what and when and I reminded him that the last we had spoken on the topic it had been a month ago and at the time the friends had been uncertain about their plans.

He said he was pretty sure he had told me, which WHATEVER. Do I look like a person who would forget a whole new set of houseguests arriving minutes after the last ones leave? Like hell.

I said, "Like hell."

Then I asked what on earth was I going to feed them and he looked at me all sulky and I said, "Nothing, apparently, if you keep looking at me like that." So he laughed and said he was sorry and he agreed it was barely possible that he might have forgotten to mention that they had decided to stay with us and he'd go wash the guest sheets.

Then he promptly got the flu and went down as if he had been poleaxed.

4. Steve and I got married on New Year's Eve twelve years ago and to the best of my recollection we have never both been healthy on December 31st again. The only time in recent memory that we actually made it to a restaurant was three days after Caroline and Edward were born. She was in the NICU and Edward got admitted as well for jaundice so with our $3000 a pop highly qualified babysitters in place we took Patrick and went to the Outback near the hospital. I had no idea it was New Year's Eve and wondered why on earth it was so crowded. I had also somehow managed to lose my shoes during labor (a nurse put them in a drawer; I assumed Steve had taken them home) so before we went to Outback we drove to a shoe store. I walked through the snowbank in my socks and when the sales clerk came to help me I told her I needed to buy anything she had in a 7 wide wide.

She looked down at my wet socks and then looked around the floor, "Um where are your shoes?" she asked.

"It's a long story."

Patrick said, "Don't people who need shoes usually come to shoe stores?"

I digress again.

Poor Steve was a wreck for five days. He shivered so badly during the night that I finally threw an extra blanket over him and sat on him until he stopped shaking. Extra body heat you know. I learned that on MASH.

5. So happy new year and I apologize for the long delay in posting but I haven't had a moment to myself in EONS. My new year's resolution is to update my blog more frequently. I'm also going to learn how to drive the lawn tractor. I think that last one is related to Steve's flu but if I examine it too closely I suspect my motivations are excessively morbid.

How were your holidays? Did you have fun? Did you get anything good? Did you give anything good? I need a new recorded book recommendation for Patrick and me; we're almost done with Artemis Fowl and I cannot remember which post I asked about books last time. So feel free to repeat yourself.   

I missed you.