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January 2013

Little Miss Brightside

If the hand-inked posters I read this weekend are to be believed - and why would they lie - the high school in which Caroline takes her Chinese classes will soon be hosting its winter semi-formal. The theme? A Night on the Titanic. I laughed (aloud) when I read that and I have laughed every time I have thought about it since. My first thought was that they're throwing a fancy costume pool party... and I know parties. My second thought was that at least I'm not still in high school. Yes, I believed my prescription pain med label when it said I could take one or two before bedtime last night and thus was ultra-sedated, literally unable to open my eyes before ten thirty this morning, but it's not like the cutest boy in school (the John Hughes nice one. not the John Hughes ass one who drives a Porsche and pronounces it porsh-AH. accurate, yes. affected, most assuredly.) Where was I? Oh right, at least I am not trying to figure out how to incorporate the dress I want with the dress my Dad bought me with a shingles-hiding neck brace so that the cutest boy in school doesn't think/know that half of my neck is covered in sores.

So YAY ME! I am not in high school and no one has asked me to go to the Springtime Pumpkin Dance. I am not planning a valentine's day wedding. I am not a neck model on the eve of the biggest pearl choker catalogue shoot of the season. I do not have an unvaccinated baby (sorry Allison! that SUCKS.) I do look awful in turtlenecks but who am I trying to impress, anyway? Steve? The only way I know that Steve has plans that will be taking him from home is when he shaves more than once in five days  and the last time

[warning: if you know me, especially if you know me so well that you are related to me, and you feel that confessions from the marital boudoir might scar you for life, scar you like a bad case of the shingles, skip this part]

the last time Steve sought to seduce me with his masculine wiles he did so by jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of our bedroom. When I asked whether this approach had proved successful for him back in his salad days he said, Uh, YEAH and when I pointed out that even the taciturn steely-eyed heroes of romantic novels treat these delicate negotiations with more tact he looked baffled.

I said, "Oh you know. If the sight of me in my bathrobe has inflamed your passions you might want to flash me a glimpse of your well-turned ankle, laugh at my jokes, pull me into your arms with a soul-bruising kiss and then whisper naughty things about dewy rose petals and the forbidden entrance to a salt-scented cove."

Steve said, "Cove?"

I said, "Cove."

He said, "OK. Fine. Permission to come ashore?"

I DIED laughing.

Huh. Totally off the rails here again, sorry.

Anyway, I still have the shingles and things could still be much worse.

Oh. One more thing totally unrelated thing.

Today as we left tumbling Caroline and Edward were sitting on the floor putting their shoes and socks back on. A woman and her daughter were standing about a foot away from us waiting for another child. Caroline put one of her socks on her hand and said, "Hey Eddybear! Let's play sock puppets!"

Edward said, "OK" and pulled one of his socks onto his hand too.

I let them continue this for about sixty seconds before I said, "OK, c'mon, we've got to go. Socks and shoes on your feet please."

The child standing next to the woman next to me said, "Can I do that with my socks?"

And the woman, the one standing so close to me her hand was practically in my pocket, said, "Of course not."

Kid said, "Why?"

And the woman said, "Because your socks have been on your dirty feet. That's disgusting."

Now I know that one person's choice is not a tacit condemnation of another's alternate choice (I mean your decision to breastfeed should not be interpreted as saying that there should be a worldwide law that makes breastfeeding mandatory [Hiya Bundchen - Go Ravens]) but I couldn't help but feel a little slapped by this exchange. I mean, I was always careful to be neutral when I explained to my children why they weren't allowed to ride in the basket of the shopping cart LIKE THAT KID RIGHT THERE. I might have thought "Because unlike THE WOMAN STANDING NEXT TO ME I love my children and I don't want them to sustain a head injury" but I always said, "Because we don't."

Of course that was back before I just let my kids ride in the damned basket, which also preceded my willingness to let them put socks on their hands and, I dunno, lick things.

In retrospect, I probably should have shown her my neck.

PS Just so you know, I was more amused by the sock comment than offended or anything. It was in total harmony with my week. 

Steve Keeps Inching Away From Me, The Coward

Oh yes, or rather, oh no, it is definitely shingles. The red patch has resolved itself into a red swathe with bumps and I briefly contemplated clawing out my own throat as I tried to fall asleep last night. The itching, my god, the itching. On the plus side it still only hurts like a bad sunburn and not even the worst sunburn I have ever had, either.

Per your much appreciated advice I called the doctor's office first thing this morning and said I had changed my mind about the drugs. Better to get them and discover that I don't need them then to wake up tomorrow in such pain that I am forced to call around to friends, asking if they have any spare opium. That's how rumors get started in small towns, you know. So I spoke to the nurse who read me the note the doctor had left (I was amused that I had said no, no thanks, no narcotics and his note said: Patient will call for painkiller) and while I had her on the phone I also asked for something to help manage the itching. She asked if I had tried Aveeno with oatmeal and I laughed. Did I mention that IT REALLY REALLY ITCHES?

And hey! For those of us that cannot seem to produce the requisite titers no matter how many times we get vaccinated I found the most apropos pubmed article. The link is here but the money bit is this:

"CONCLUSION: ... [in] a subgroup of individuals the antibody response to VZV vaccine may be low despite an adequate cell-mediated response. Commercial VZV ELISA assays were designed to measure higher titers associated with natural infection rather than the lower titer induced by the vaccine. Repeated immunizations plus more sensitive measures of VZV-specific IgG should be used to validate protection rather than the current commonly utilized ELISA screening. Clinicians should be aware of the variability in VZV-specific antibody assays when assessing post VZV vaccine titers prior to determining protection in health care workers."

I don't speak science very well so feel free to clarify for me but I think the gist is that some people need more sensitive blood tests to detect the presence of the low-level of antibodies produced in response to the chickenpox vaccine. So although I might have tested negative for any trace of the virus it was there nonetheless and now I have shingles. Oh and the point about the chickenpox vaccine was not that it should have prevented shingles. Quite the opposite. If one believes that I never had chickenpox then I got the virus from the vaccine and I got shingles from the virus. The good news - for me - is that shingles in such cases tend to be more mild. We - I note darkly - shall see. 

In the meantime when I picked up my prescription today I also bought a medicinal can of Pringles, two boxes of Junior Mints and a bag of mini Kit-Kats. Then I went home and slept for three hours.

Life could be much worse.

PS Not to be a purist but the word "shingles" annoys me. A shingle can be a pebbled beach. It can be a roofing element or a way to describe a roof thus created. It can refer to the sign that professionals used to hang outside ye olde firme of law. I fail to see any connection between these things and my rash.   

PPS I forgot to tell you about my insult to injury moment. I had covered my... my affliction with a large bandage in order to reduce the risk of spreading it. When I went to change band-aids this evening I discovered that I am having an allergic reaction to the adhesive. So my super-pretty shingles rash is currently surrounded by a big red welt.

Oh Shi...

Many years ago I had a brow waxing debacle that started with half of my face swelling up and ended with antibiotics. I will always remember the party we attended that night and the stories I concocted to avoid explaining that I would apparently rather look like a beaten pumpkin than Leonid Brezhnev.

Anyway, when I woke up yesterday and discovered that I had a warm, red spot on my neck I assumed that I had somehow gotten another skin infection although I could not for the life of me figure out how. The redness spread throughout the day and by this morning even Steve (who is always so brave in the face of my afflictions) was willing to admit that I might need more medical attention than google was able to provide.

I made an appointment with the first person who had time at our primary clinic and wound up seeing a guy who put the B in Breezy. He walked into the room, glanced at my neck, said, "Oh! So you have shingles! Let me print out some information for you. Where do you want me to send the prescriptions?"

I said, "Wait. What? Shingles? Nonsense."

He said, "Definitely shingles. Caused by the same virus that gave you chickenpox. Lies dormant for years and then... there you go."

"But I never had the chickenpox."

"Probably had such a mild case that you or your parents didn't even realized it."

I said, "No. Never."

He said, "Ah, well, did you ever get the vaccine?"

And I said, "Yes, actually, several times but... ."

He cut me off. "They don't do it several times. Just the once plus maybe a booster. Where do you want your prescriptions?"

I told him our pharmacy and then asked, "Prescriptions? Plural?" and he said, "You'll want to start an anti-viral right away and most people find that they require prescription pain relief. We use either k;jhhdf*^% or ueyruhf7fy [don't remember] although you'll want to be careful as they are both powerful sedatives."

I told him I was only mildly uncomfortable and would pass on the narcotics and he said, "Hmmmm wellllll just call if you change your mind."

Then he left and I was never able to tell him about my chickenpox saga but you'll listen to me, right?

I never got the chickenpox as a child, even when that entire slumber party was felled by them in the fifth grade. We assumed that I must've had a subclinical case at some point and left it at that until twenty'ish years later when we started trying to, you know, conceive. I went to see a doctor (because that is what the internet tells you to do) and he stared at me blankly when I said I was there because we wanted to start a family. I think he was afraid that I was going to ask where babies come from and when I explained that I knew that part I just wanted to make sure I was all optimal and whatnot he said, "Huh. Well. Start taking vitamins, eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water and how about a chickenpox vaccine?" I said, sure.

Several years later I went to do IVF in Maryland and they required either a chickenpox vaccine or proof via a blood test that one possessed some immunity. I opted for the titer and was surprised to learn that I did not have any immunity to chickenpox. So I got the vaccine. Again. OK? OK. Well! Mark this.

A scant two years or so later I did IVF in Minnesota and went through the whole vaccine/titer thing again. Since my vaccination records were in Maryland and it seemed like a hassle to have them sent I asked that they check my blood. Lo and behold, I was again negative for whatever it was they look for and at that point I said this is weird and I am not getting vaccinated again, what do I have to sign to waive it?

So! When I say I have never had chickenpox I mean that I have never had chickenpox and when I say that I have been vaccinated for it more than once I mean that I have been vaccinated for it more than once.

There. Thank you for not walking out the door before I was able to share that fascinating piece of trivia.

And yet now I have shingles so obviously somehow, some time I have had the virus. Damn it.

PS I just remembered Monthy Python and their sketch about Death and the dinner party. I'm the lady who trails out the door to the afterworld, saying, "But... I didn't eat the salmon."

Not Anti-Vaccine, Just Pro-Disease

Patrick came running over to me a few minutes after the start of his new tumbling session.

"Are you sure I am in the right class?" he whispered.

I asked if it was Tuesday and he confirmed that it was.

"You're in the right class," I told him.

"But they all come up to my elbow," he explained and, sure enough, he is the oldest in his group this time by about four years. I think many/most girls tend to do gymnastics rather than T&T and boys his age are starting to do other stuff. 

As we drove to tumbling yesterday he told me that his coach had asked him to act as a big brother to some of the other kids.

I feigned surprise. "What? He wants you to ban them from your room, patronize them when they tell jokes and violate their personal spaces until they bite your fingers? How odd."

Patrick said, "I know, right? If I give any more wedgies I'm going to sprain my wrist."

Caroline and Edward had their five year well child check yesterday. Edward is a little tall and average weight; Caroline is a little short and a little skinny. Caroline failed her hearing test so we have to come back in a month (yes! another chance to take a healthy child to the pediatrician in mid-winter) but our doctor duly appreciated the massive improvement in Edward's speech and his hearing is finally perfect. They continue to have all of their bits and parts in all of the right places and although the pediatrician said they are both "fine" I am pretty sure he meant that in his fifteen years as a physician he has never seen such gorgeous, brilliant, glowing testaments to the fact that man is truly nature's last word. I mean, it was implied.

At the end of the appointment the doctor bade them a cheery farewell and then two nurses bustled back into the room (the one, in fact, being the same nice lady upon whom I thrust a tiny Edward in order to accompany an even tinier Caroline in the ambulance after her one month Well Child check went awry.)

She said, "Who wants to go first?" and Caroline leapt to her feet, fluting, "Me! Me!"

When Caroline realized that they were looking for volunteers to be shot in the arm it was quite a bit like that scene in Free to Be You and Me with the girl and the tiger. Caroline went from "Ladies First!" to "Eddybear! Save Me!" in the blink of a battered eyelash. 

They both got vaccinated. They both squealed and wept. Afterward I helped them get dressed and said, "Yeah, I know. It hurts to get a shot but do you know why we get them?"

They sniffled, no.

I said, "The vaccines keep us from getting sick. And not just cough cough oh my throat hurts but very very sick. Like the polio shot you just got? Kids who had polio many years ago would get so sick that they would lose their ability to walk. Can you imagine how awful it would be to get sick one day and then never be able to run again?"

Caroline nodded and looked suitably solemn but Edward shook his head.

"No," he said. "Not me! I'd like poyee... poleeoh. I'd sit in the basement all day and play Scooby-Doo and when I needed to go poop I'd just call you and you'd carry me where I want to go." 

He smiled, "Polio would be awesome."

And that, my friends, is why trying to rationalize with a preschooler is stupid.   

Four Day Weekend? REALLY?

All of a sudden Edward started nailing his l's. 

"Caroline!" he said this morning. "Wake up! The New England Patriots went home for the year! Baltimore won!"

Just like that. No -yine. No New Eng-yand. He even managed to purr out Bawlmere like a native-born crab eater, hon. I suppose it was a little bittersweet (although he still tells me when he finks he's firsty and he calls the long thin pasta skapetti - so I don't think the BBC will be snatching him from me and sending him to mandatory broadcasters' school any time soon) but more than anything I am astounded by the fact that a child of mine finally managed to move from sub-average to average all by himself with just the mildest of parental coaching and zero (0) professional intervention. I honestly did not believe it could be done.

I mean, I know I know. I have read the articles that suggest reiterating mispronunciations clearly and patiently will help a child to self-correct but I have also read that you have to put some foods in front of a kid as many as a dozen times before they fall upon the previously hated food like wee ravenous wolves, which is a total freaking lie concocted and perpetuated by people who lucked into eaters and mistook their good fortune for skill. I mean, what price broccoli, eh Caroline? Or eggs and potatoes, Patrick? Was tonight (Shepherd's Pie Night!) the four or five hundredth time I have put mashed potatoes on Patrick's plate only to eat them myself as I cleaned the kitchen? Five hundredth I think.

Meanwhile Caroline declared that the potatoes were 'delish'. Edward pushed them as fas as possible from everything else he was eating. He would, however, sell his soul for broccoli and zucchini and tomatoes and most mushrooms. Caroline's vegetal acceptance only extends to carrots and the occasional pea. Peas gross Edward out. Patrick is suspicious of the rice in sushi but he will eat raw fish until someone drags him bodily from the restaurant. They all like trout and venison - neither of which I will touch with a forty foot fork. Caroline prefers regular milk to chocolate and water to both. Edward would drink simple syrup if I let him. Patrick likes cranberry juice and sparkling water so he's easy to please anywhere there is a full-bar but out of luck at, like, school.

Huh. Where on earth did that come from?


Edward can say his l's now. Even... sigh... ackshulee.

Other items:

Edward Gets Organized


(Go Ravens!)

Patrick Gets Crafty


I wish I could remember who it was that emailed me out of the blue with the idea that Patrick might like a little potholder loom from Harrisville Designs for Christmas. The colors are lovely and he has, indeed, enjoyed making woven squares. I suspect he will want to graduate to a peg loom soon since it's very much his sort of thing and I am grateful for the suggestion. So, thank you whoever you are. I also got him a soap making kit as another gateway craft. The melt and pour stuff is a nice start but I think we could do better. I should get a book on the subject from the library I suppose. In the meantime he has put quote trinkets end quote into all of the bars of soap he has made thus far and I am nervous to use them for fear of what might eventually fall out.

Caroline Gets Serious



I can never get enough of Caroline in her karate uniform. Never. Also, she's a badass. Her punch, punch, kick is deadly.

PS We have been surprisingly busy. Houseguests. More houseguests. Invitations. My car died and I was able to accurately tell the nice people who gathered over the remains that it felt like it couldn't find a gear. Transmission! they all chorused in unison. Sure 'nuff. Also, damn it. Then my oven ratcheted from a cozy proof temperature to Hellfire while I was making pizza dough and I wanted to beat it to death in my rage over the plastic wrap icicles that covered the oven rack (and my favorite sheet pan. and the dough.)

I think that sums up the week.

PPS Children eat what they eat, is what I am saying.

The Word Judgmentally Makes Me Nervous Too

I'm sorry but it is true. At the parties that I have attended for the ten-and-unders gifts arrived covered in giftwrap, nestled in tissue paper, and stuffed into bags. All three. Look, I'm not advocating for this method. I'm not saying it is right. I'm just telling you how it is. I'm pretty sure for adult gifts we just do the tissue and bag (at least, I did on Friday with the wine and the book) but out here in this specific wedge of Minnesota we go all out to celebrate the natal day of a child. I'm surprised the bag itself is not then placed inside the trunk of a tree felled just for the occasion.

My new plan though (once I work through my existing bag stash, naturally - shouldn't be long since I am already back to 2003) is to follow Stephanie's idea and buy some of these charming (reusable!) lunch totes and gift 'em. Aren't those cute? Or... oh for cute as I can say now that I am a Minnesotan.

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify this: wrap, nestle, stuff.

I also wanted to thank Heidi for her kindness in pointing out that I have been writing "lead" for "led" since... I'm not sure if it has been since forever but certainly for the past several weeks. I do remember looking at it critically after typing it a few times ago and thinking, "Is that right? Maybe I should look it up" but then my inner editor said, "Nonsense. It looks grate" so I left it at that.

True story: when I was in third grade I was confused as to whether the word is spelled "their" or "thier" so I wrote it both ways. My third grade teacher never corrected it so I decided that either spelling was acceptable (like color and colour) and it was not until college that someone pointed and laughed. Oh! And speaking of pointing and laughing (at me. in college) I was in a seminar my senior year when I said something something was the epitome of something but I pronounced it eh-pih-tome.

My professor actually stopped the class and said, "Did you just say eh-pih-tome?" and I said, "Um, yes?"

And he said, "Eh-pih-toh-mee! Eh-pih-toh-mee! Christ! Aren't you a senior? And are they letting you graduate with an English degree?" 

I said, "Yep."

And he said, "Who's your advisor?"

And I said, "You are, actually."

He paused and said, "You do brilliant work."

I thanked him.   

I just read that over and it sounded kind of harsh but really it was all very jolly and amusing.

Speaking of misspelled words: Patrick blocks on 'friend' (he always puts the e before the i - it's cute) and I cannot spell 'occasionally' without having to look it up every single time. Something about the c's and s's and n's and l's always makes me want to double them up all wrong. I suppose we all have certain word enemies, no?

I'm A Keeper

I don't know if gift bags are a Minnesota thing or a new millenium thing or if they were always around and my family was just out of it (all possible) but at first they baffled me. I refer, of course, to the gaily colored paper bags (usually lined with tissue paper) into which one places a wrapped gift before bringing it to a party.

At first I ignored the gift-in-bag protocol since I am a frugal person (no, no, Steve. I am. really) and the idea of spending money on something that is used for a millisecond appalled me but eventually we hosted enough whatits of our own that I managed to acquire a nice stash of gift bags. You know, every now and then I wonder how the bag manufacturers have ever managed to sell more than a dozen of these things because surely everyone does what I do. Remove the gift, fold the tissue paper, flatten the bag, store it and then pull it out again later to use for someone else's gift. You think you'd only need about ten or so in circulation at any given time, right? Of course I am right. 

Tonight my new friend (have I told you about my new friend? I have one. I like her a lot) has invited us to the surprise birthday party she's hosting for her husband. I bought a bottle a wine and a card and Steve found a book he thinks the husband might enjoy. In the old days I would have just carried these items in my hand like a lemur but I am a Minnesotan now. I know better. So I went upstairs to my magical guest bedroom window seat of many uses and rummaged around until I found a bag that was about the right shape, size, age and gender.

I wrote the card, wrapped the book, dusted the wine and inserted it all into the gift bag, remembering at the last moment to check and see if the attached gift tag had been used. I'm glad I did. It had. It was addressed: Steve Patrick and Julia - Congratulations on your new home!

We moved here in 2003.


When Caroline gets an idea she puts one finger into the air and carols, "Liiiiiiightbulb!" more or less to the tune of the opening bar of Born Free.

I had that reaction a few times as I read the comments on the last post and not just when Cori articulated my own peeve so nicely. To wit: as long as I am obeying the local traffic and parking ordinances by putting my car in a legal spot on the street and crossing at the marked crosswalks why the effing eff do my fellow parents [or more importantly The Rules] care how I reclaim my child? It's not like I am trying to land my helicopter on the basketball court.

To briefly advocate for the angels, however, I should probably note that the pick-up procedure that the school has devised is quite logical based upon the fact that they host a school-within-a-school that pulls kids from the entire district, which is biiiiiig. In fact our district is 50% longer and four times wider than the island of Manhattan - roughly 120 square miles, if you can believe my thumb which is what I used to measure the distances. We live at the southernmmost tip of the district (one of Patrick's friends lives all the way to the north - we did a playdate once and it was a 50 minute drive) and the school is in the approximate middle. I clocked it today and it's 9.9 miles door-to-door, which I think is about average for most families. To further complicate things, budget constraints prohibit the district from offering bussing so - with the exception of the handful of children for whom this would have been their home school anyway - everyone in Patrick's program is driven. They did go to great trouble at the beginning of the year to connect families for carpools (someone in the comments asked how that would work - the carpooling families have all of the last names printed on their windshield cards. It makes them look like the last of the landed gentry; all hyphenated hyphenations: The Wysckoski-Jonsen-Filbert-Jansons) but, you know, 120 square miles. Patrick, for example, is the only kid from our town at this school.

Anyway! The point is that although three-quarters of the school walk or take the bus the remainder are stuck being driven and to that end the carpool lane does seem the most efficient solution. I mean if every one of those people tried to park on the street at the same time there would not be enough parking so... I guess the only reason that I am/was able to do so is because all those other people are willing to sit in the line. And that is why I am ashamed of myself because as much as I want to believe I am justified in bucking the system I'm not, really*.

So my lightbulb moment - or one of them - came when Kristi mentioned that she picks up her child deliberately late. Her daughter gets homework done and they avoid the crush. Since my primary reason for staying out of the line is to give Patrick adequate time to get his act together (a transitional process that can take anywhere from two to twenty times longer than it should depending upon what is going on in his sphere at the moment) it occured to me that a modified version of this could work for us too. Rather than have fifteen cars stuck behind me in line while they attempt to locate a Patrick who has paused outside the school library having just noticed after two years that there is an aquarium there, I could plan on always picking him up ten minutes after dismissal.

And! Another illuminating thought came when... I'm sorry I forget who it was at the moment... someone mentioned that their school makes you go back through the line if your child isn't ready when you are. I think that is brilliant. Talk about a natural consequence. If, say, your child is making snow angels rather than standing at attention then he can just continue to make snow angels for another ten minutes until you work your way back up to the front of the line again. Ha!

As always I thank you for your interesting comments. I found myself not only playing with mapquest as I tried to figure out just how far I drive and why (I put what would be Patrick's home school in as well - it's five miles from here. we're doomed to drive or bus) but as I contemplated all of these apple-cheeked children in charming faraway countries walking to their schools I found myself wondering if there are simply a billion schools elsewhere or if everyone lives very close together and if they do where is the, I dunno, the arable land? That lead to the fascinating rabbithole of food importation and exportation (the only thing we can walk to from my house are working farms and the trout stream) from which I emerged considerably surprised. I really had no idea who grows what and where - go Australia; not only are you people crazyfun, you're practically self-sustained. But to return to my original thought: do kids in the Netherlands or Finland or Switzerland or Spain or whatever walk (or ski!) four or five miles to school or are there more schools or are the populations universally that much more dense? Surely everyone does not live in cities? I have actually been to some of these countries but at the time I just noticed that there were very desirable tavern/pub/cafe-to-person ratios and left it at that. Did I notice schools? Not so much.

Legitimate question.

*Unless I hide out in the church parking lot. Which should bother, exactly, no one.

PS AH HA! Public transportation! Clearly I have been out here waaaay too long. I seriously forgot that public transportation is even an option. I, who took the metrobus to school starting in seventh grade (after walking half a mile to the bus stop - uphill.) Criminey. I wish you could see my face right now.

PPS Hmmmmm bicycles. M'yes. I am trying to think of some perfectly reasonable, regional reason why Patrick and I could not hop onto bikes every day and breeze up to school. I'll let you know when I come up with one. 

Rebel Without A Clue

I don't suppose you remember that time last year when I wondered aloud why I was the only person with a child attending Patrick's school who chose to walk to the door after availing myself of the copious on-street parking rather than stay in my vehicle, creeping along in the crazy-ass-pick up line? Well, this year I acquired a few disciples and thus several of us have been doing the park-and-walk since September (which is fine with me - plenty of parking spaces for all) although one mother confided in me that she had heard whispers that we were... unpopular. And I asked her in all sincerity: why? I mean if we wanted to park and they wanted to drive what did it matter? Some people had babies sleeping in their cars while some felt the need to get a little exercise and still other people, perhaps, have a child who's flakier than a well-made biscuit; a child who would never ever manage to bring home his lunch bag and his boots and his binder and his gloves and still make it to his place in the carpool line if I... if someone were not there to prompt him. Wasn't this simply a matter of personal preferences, I asked?


A letter - a firm letter - went home from the school after the New Year reminding us of the Drop-Off and Pick-Up Policy. Reminding? I read this and felt like Patrick with his surprise stash of uncompleted online math quizzes. This had been mentioned before? Who knew?

So I registered first shock and then consternation. Shock because I never realized that a policy even existed and consternation because when I read the damned thing it clearly states that we who drive need to go through the carpool pick-up line to fetch our children. Or else. Or else what you ask? As far as I can tell from the newsletter, the consquence of failing to comply seems to be that the combination of snowbanks and heedless pedestrians (crossing, I would like to add in my defense, at the crosswalk and assisted by a crossing guard but whatever) will inevitably cause a schoolbus to plow into a skein of baby geese.

I forwarded the letter to Steve, who shrugged and said I should park wherever I like and be damned to them. Steve, however, is a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules whereas I am a Rule Follower. The idea of parking and walking under the disapproving gaze of so many idling eyes was too much for me. So I told Patrick on Monday that I would be getting him via the carpool pick-up lane after school and he would therefore need to have all of his stuff organized before the bell rang in order to present himself in the correct line on time.

He looked at me.

I looked at him.

We communed silently for a while and then I said, "Ok, right, that will never work. How about I meet you at the corner of that church parking lot adjacent to the playing fields?"

He agreed that would probably be for the best.

I added, "Tell no one. Come alone. Knock three times for admittance."

That afternoon I pulled nervously (Rule Follower, people) into the church parking lot and waited. A few minutes later a carpool'esque vehicle pulled into the spot next to me. I thought, a-ha, another outlaw and I grinned at her. She looked back with such outrage that I turned hastily away. When I glanced back she was still glaring at me. Remember the airplane scene in The Twilight Zone when the guy looks out the window? It was like that. So I pretended that I was very busy reading the influenza vaccine health sheet that I had just gotten and was relieved when Patrick finally appeared and climbed into the car. As I looked up the woman glowered at me again. Then it seemed as if she were about to - horrors! - roll her window down to address me so I beat a hasty retreat. As I looked into my rear view mirror I saw that she was pulling out as well, but that she had done so in order to join the very end of the carpool line.

Whoops. Not a fellow radical at all, just a mom who knew her child was going to be exiting late and did not want to inconvenience anyone by placing herself into the carpool lane too early.

Shameful. I am full of shame.

Yesterday I was leaving to pick Patrick up from school and I stopped into Steve's office to let him know I that he was in charge of the twins.

I said, "Oh, and I'm taking the blue car."

Steve said, "OK."

I started to leave and then said, "Aren't you going to ask me why I am taking the blue car?" and Steve said, "Because you are hiding from that woman in the parking lot yesterday and you hope by changing cars she won't recognize you."

First, I am an idiot. Second, he knows me so well. Third, I also wore a hat. And mirrored sunglasses.

PS And I am still breaking The Rules.


I was looking for an old picture to underline an observation I am about to make when I found this.


I mean, honestly. HONESTLY.

And I know I put these up at the time but




they cracked me up all over again.

Anyway, of all of the things that strangers said to us when they twins were little; the one that always wafted Steve the breeziest was when a friendly stranger first asked, "Are they a boy and a girl?" and - upon being given an affirmative - followed up with: "Are they identical?"


I mean, did they look identical*?


But! [and this is where I was heading, albeit in a leisurely manner that lead me to spend the past hour looking at baby pictures and saying awwwwwwww and ohhhhh and also, on occasion, ick - I had forgotten how very... leaky they were]



I just realized that they are starting to look more alike. Similar hair color, similar noses, similar fascination with their birthday Kurios.

*Ha ha ha ha ha. Get it? We knew the boy and girl weren't identical because he had curly hair.