Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jack's Creative Play

The alternative title to this post should be "or How an Empty Container With Lid is More Fun Than a $30 Toy." Once again, I'm going to treat you to my observations of Jack playing in his natural habitat -- the living room. Sometimes I wish I could see into his mind to understand what he's thinking. Some of the things he says while he plays are intriguing. Anyway, here are my observations:

"Windmill! Windmill! Where's the Windmill?" he says while holding two DVDs in his hands. He throws them down and picks up the little satin box Lily got in Chinatown. He brings it to me. "Take it!" He put it on my lap and examines the little Chinese men with braids that are all around the box.

He goes over to the high chair and then comes back. "Milk!" He trips on his Hot Wheels track and falls down. "Ow!" He picks up a Play-Doh container and sys "Coffee! My milk! Milk! Milk" He starts crying. He struggles to climb into my lap. "Up, please!"

I lift him up and he points to the plastic tea pot lid next to me. "That one, please." I hand it to him. He half reclines next to me and puts the lid on the Play-Doh container. Then he takes it off and puts one of the chips from his snack into the container and shuts the lid. He opens it and says " Look!! all gone! No, all gone coffee!" He dumps out the chipand gets down from my lap, saying "B. U. B. U. B. U." He walks over to the radiator cover, turns around and says "Nope! All gone!"

He walks back over and climbs onto the sofa. He shows me the Play-Doh container. "Please, please, please. Look! All gone. Look! Hot hot! Look, all gone, hot! Look!" He pretends to take a sip. "Nope, all gone milk." He pretends to sip again and sings "me me me me my L L L L L." He gets down and walks over to the radiator cover again. He pretends to sip, pauses a moment to look at the TV, where they just showed an explosion. He comes back over to the couch, humming "MMMMMMMMM." He eats one of his snack chips and climbs back onto the sofa. He puts the lid back on the Play-Doh container. He opens it and says "All gone, no more. Uh oh!" He shakes the lid and then puts it back on. He cuddles next to me, and continues to open and close the container.

Suddenly he gets down. He carries the container to the middle of the room, turns and shows it to me, saying "Here take, take, I make bed. Where's blanky?" He goes over to the chair to get the brown throw. "Brown ! Brown! Brown! Little brown, brown brown, play. I make brown please. Brown, brown, brown. A brown. I make bed. Mmmmm, MAMA, make the bed, please. Make the bed please! MAMA! MAMA!"

I fold the throw to make it into a "bed". He gets in and lies down. He lies there playing with the Play-Doh container and lid. Suddenly he says "OWWW!" He turns onto his stomach and crawls out of the bed. He stands up. "I out of, please. Out." He whistles very faintly and walks over to the couch. He eats another snack chip and sings "'Doot doot doot. Dun dun dun dun dun, hmm hmm hmmm." He walks closer to me with his container and lid. He eats more chips. He holds the container with its lid on in two hands. "Hot! Hot! Oh, all gone!" He opens and closes the container repeatedly. "Oh, all gone! Oh, uh-oh! Breaking! Uh! Wow! Where'd it go? Uh? Uh-oh! Hee hee hee hee (giggling). Up high! Oh! Mommy, uh, way up. Uh oh. I hide, I hide. Uh oh, Uh! Uh-oh, where'd it go?" He pretends to twist the lid while opening and closing it. He pretends to sip and a chip he stored inside falls into his mouth. He eats it.

He climbs up on hassock at my feet and lies down. He kicks one leg into the air. He hops down and then gets up and lies on my leg. He hops down. "Other one, one, one," he says as he gets another chip and stores it in the cup. He comes back to hassock. He puts the lid on the container. "Uh-oh!" He opens it and closes it, and then "drinks" the chip out of the cup." He hums tunelessly "hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm." He tries to climb into my lap while continuing to hum. I ask if he wants to sit with me. He laughs and says "Uh oh, please!" He climbs onto me and the lid falls behind the couch. No doubt the lid will make it onto this week's couch detritus list!

What's Under My Couch This Week

I spent about 2 hours cleaning the living room today and there was a bumper crop of detritus under the couch. Here's this week's list:

Windows software box (empty)
small rubber octopus
a Bionicle toy from McDonald's
1 Hot Wheels car
Jack's toy cookie jar
about 30 foam stickers
3 children's books
a wooden frog pull toy
1 red marble
a plastic donut hole
1 blue rubber ball
1 red marble
1 pink rubber ball
an empty potato chip bag
1 knit alphabet block
Lily's stuffed penguin
1 pair of Play-Doh scissors
a nectarine
1 screw driver
a yellow marker with no cap
1 and 1/2 chocolate chip cookies from last weekend
1 lens from my sunglasses that Jack destroyed
a plastic teapot lid
a pair of manicure scissors
Jack's toy mop
a wooden jewelry tray
2 magazines
2 cat toys
1 child's croc
1 Lego piece
1 binky
my knitting pattern book (I'm crocheting a sweater)
1 child's sock

Most of the toys that were under the couch are already out of the toy basket and on my floor again. This room never stays clean for long if the children are in here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lily Checked Out Her New School

Well, possibly her new school, anyway. As some of you already know, we have to register Lily for kindergarten in a couple of weeks. In our town, there are 10 kindergarten classes at five different schools. Because they try to keep all of the classes the same size, you have to enter a lottery to determine where your child will go. Apparently, 95% of the kids get into their first choice school, so we are hoping Lily will get into the school closest to our house, which is supposedly the best primary school in the district.

Anyway, in preparation for the upcoming registration period, all of the primary schools are holding tours. I thought it would be a great idea to take Lily along on the tour so she could see what her new school would be like. We've been talking it up to her for a couple of weeks, and she seemed excited. When I first told her, she asked "Will you be coming there with me?" and when I told her I would be there, she said she wanted to go by herself.

The night before the tour, her tune had changed. She started telling us she didn't want to go. We tried to explain to her that it was just a tour and she wouldn't be staying there, but she was adamant. The morning of the tour, she had a meltdown and refused to get dressed to go to the tour. It took both Jim and me an hour to get her calmed down and out of the house. Since Jim had to go to work (or so he claimed!) I was dreading what would happen when we got to the school.

Sure enough, once I parked, Lily clung to her carseat with a grip of steel and screamed "Nooooo! I'm staying in the car! I hate this stinky school!" Jack just sat there and enjoyed the scene. I had to promise I would not make her talk to anyone and I would not let go of her hand.

When we got inside, the school principal came over and introduced herself. She asked if Lily was the one who might come to the school. In accordance with my promise, I answered yes and said that Lily was already familiar with the playground, where she'd been going since she was a baby. The principal commented that the playground wasn't as easy to use in this weather (we recently had a foot of snow). Suddenly, out of nowhere:

Lily: You have to be really careful when there's snow and ice. You could fall on the slide or fall down.

Principal: That's right! But if the kindergarteners have snowpants and boots, we let them play even if there's snow and they seem to have a lot of fun.

Lily: They could play but they would have to be careful. I know a lot of safety rules. Look! I have on two different socks! (Sticking her foot out).

Principal: I thought that was on purpose because it looks very cool.

Lily: I know.

Lily would have happily continued the conversation, but another parent arrived for the tour.

The parents were very interesting. There was a couple who asked a lot of questions about curriculum, after school programs, volunteering, advanced education programs and lord knows what else. There was another mom who inexplicably asked "Does this school have a kindergarten? I'm scrambling to find a kindergarten!" and then mentioned that her child was already enrolled in the early education program. It seemed odd that she would already be in the system and not know that all of the primaries have kindergartens. The other parents were me and a mom with her younger child in a stroller. The other mom mentioned that she had already been to one of the other schools and would be touring a third after this one. I felt ashamed when the principal asked me where we were touring and I said "Just here." Jim and I will probably look at a couple of the other schools, but I didn't want to confuse Lily by taking her to more than one.

We saw Lily's friend Tyler's classroom, and our neighbor Matthew's classroom, which was very exciting for Lily. She also loved the library. Both she and Jack said "Look at all the books, Mama!" and "BOOOOOOKKKS! OH! BOOOOOOKKKS!" The principal asked if Lily liked books and she said "Yes, I really do."

Overall, the school looked a lot like the one where I went to kindergarten, only more cluttered. As we left, Lily mentioned that the school was nice, and then asked me "What if I forget what it looks like before I have to go there?" I reassured her that we would be visiting it again for an orientation before she had to start school.

Registration is next week. I have the paperwork ready and will drop it off on the first day. Hopefully, we will be in the 95% that go to their closest neighborhood school.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

16 Safety Rules

Lately, Lily's has been telling us a lot of "did you know?" things. Like, "Did you know animals have ways of telling you how you're feeling?" She learned that on Zoboomafoo, a kid's show she likes. Her "did you knows" also include something she calls "good safety rules." She told us she is learning them at school, but I suspect most of them are of her own creation. Last night, she woke up around 11 pm and came into the living room to sit with me. She told me these sixteen safety rules so that I could share them on my blog.

1. No hitting people while they're driving. They could have a car accident or get hurt.

2. Don't go inside a treasure box in a creepy place, or a closet in creepy place, or in a refrigerator. You don't have air in there and it could lock and you couldn't get out and you couldn't see.

3. Don't put water on anything it because it could have a fire. You can only put water on stuff that's not electric, like yourself.

4. Don't eat things in a jar that look like candy. Ask your mom and dad if you don't know. Ask them to eat it or to get you food you can have. Also, don't eat little round things, they could be pills.

5. Don't get dessert by yourself. You could spill it or get a different bad dessert. Your mom and dad know what's good and bad.

Nobody knows what God eats. Probably whatever he likes. (I know this isn't really a safety tip, but she did mention it at this point in the conversation. I think it's hilarious.)

6. Don't climb a rotten tree. Here's a funny joke. What if the tree falls on our house? In my book, Wemberley Worried, Wemberley thought it. She also worried that something would come out of the crack in the tree.

7. Don't lose your pet. They can get lost. Keep on a collar. If you lose your pet, your mom will be mad if it's her pet, but not if you find it.

8. Don't give a pet to a friend that you don't know. They could keep it forever, and then you need to find out her name and where she lives. Keep your pet at your house with mama and you.

9. Always turn the front and back lights on when you drive so cars can see you and you can see them. If you don't, you could get in one big accident.

10. Don't touch hot lights.

11. Don't hurt the cat.

12. Don't step near a slide or swings. Someone could slide down or their feet could bang into you. It's good to be a grownup, because they can push you, but not when they're little.

13. Don't have 3 people on the seesaw, because then they can't get up. You need just 2 people, unless you have two seesaws. Then you can have 4 people.

14. Watch out for bad bugs. They can hurt you and do anything bad.

15. Don't eat candy unless dad and mom tell us to, and clean up. Always bring a napkin. Candy will rot and get all over the place.

16. Don't tug dogs and cats on the leash, they might scratch or bite.

I hope these helpful safety tips make your week a lot safer. This has been a Lily Deeds Public Service Announcement.

Friday, January 25, 2008

May Today Be a Better Day

Yesterday evening was rough. Jack knocked an entire glass of milk onto the kitchen floor and then later used his broom as a bat and took swing at my glass of iced tea on the table. It went flying and the glass broke into a million pieces. Did I mention that he broke three of these glass last week by throwing them on the floor? No? Did I mention that I had just replaced said three glass yesterday morning at IKEA? Yep. Now I am one glass short. Again.

While the whole iced tea/glass mess was going on in the dining room, Lily was in the kitchen kicking the basement door with her heels and screaming "Argue! Argue! Argue!" over and over at the top of her lungs. What, that seems odd to you? Let me explain. Lily got mad on the way home from school because I told her that I bought bins to organize the clothes in her closet. See? Doesn't that explain the 45 minute temper tantrum that led to her time out in the kitchen? Seriously, what kind of a mother would buy bins and organize clothes? Making it so one can look in the shirt bin and, lo, find a shirt! is just EVIL. And mean.

Annnnnnyway... the evening was difficult. This morning, at 9:11 am, all appears to be calm so far. I'm a little nervous that things will degenerate into the hell that was last night. Will keep you all posted.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two New Blogs

I just added two great sites.

Skull A Day features artwork by a man who is making a skull art piece for every day. Some of them are pretty amazing and clever.

Bent Objects is another art site where a man makes humorous scenes from bent wire and every day household items.

Check them out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Faster I Go, The Farther I Get Behind

Yesterday, I had big plans to clean out the second closet in Lily's bedroom, which was packed full of my business attire and other clothing. After I did that, I was going to shred the three bins of old paperwork in the office and organize and file all of the other random stuff that has showed up in the last couple of weeks. I also planned to simultaneously do the laundry that's been piling up since I got sick.

Right. Yesterday, I cleaned out the closet. It took me almost 3 hours, because I had to deal with two children who would not stay put in the playroom and wanted to "see what you're doing, Mom!" I also had to deal with "Why are you throwing THAT away? I need that!" and "MILLLLKKK! Mama, MORE MILLLLLKKKKK!" I ended up throwing some stuff on the newly cleaned top shelf, and promising to go through it and organize later. I never got to the shredding or filing. I did one load of laundry (and I realized this morning it was set for the lowest water level, so I don't even know how clean the clothes got).

Today, I woke up with a plan to clean and declutter the living room and dining room, shred the paperwork, file and organize and do the laundry. Today, Lily would not put on her ballet outfit, Jack dumped an entire container of yogurt on the carpet, chair and couch before I could stop him, and I ended up agreeing to watch Emma while her parents went to an appointment at 2pm. In the midst of that, our freezer stopped working and started leaking water onto the floor. I had to clean the kitchen up before the repairman came. He just told me that they don't have a replacement part for me and if he can't find one in one of their floor models at the store, it may be 3 or 4 days before we have a working refrigerator. Terrific.

I did do two loads of laundry this morning and I was able to vacuum the rugs in the living room and dining room. I had picked up all the toys, but Jack immediately walked over to the bin and dumped everything out so he could find his hot wheels. plans for tomorrow are:

1. Go to IKEA in the morning to buy boxes, baskets and folders to organize the stuff in the office and from Lily's second closet. I also need to buy a coat rack. I'd planned to do this trip on Thursday because Lily is in school.

2. Organize the pile of stuff thrown on the top shelf of Lily's closet into labeled boxes.

3. Sort, organize and file the things that have turned up in the office over the past few weeks.

4. Shred the three cartons of paperwork in the office.

5. Take the clothes from Lily's second closet (2 garbage bags full!) and drop them at Salvation Army.

6. Declutter the living room and dining room. By this, I mean that I hope to either throw away, donate or find a home for anything lying on a flat surface in those two rooms.

7. Wash and fold any laundry that I don't finish today.

8. Deep clean the kitchen and bathroom (my usual Thursday chores).

Obviously, I'm not going to get anywhere close to completing all these things. What I really need is a week at home alone without kids. That would catch me back up to a normal level of cleanliness and order.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hey, Check Out The New Links!

I just added a few great websites to my list in the sidebar.

Hello Kitty Hell is a funny site about a man with a wife obsessed with the Japanese character "Hello Kitty." He regularly features new products with a Hello Kitty theme. He's funny and it is really unbelievable how many random Hello Kitty themed products are out there.

Unclutterer has great tips for getting rid of your unwanted clutter and organizing what is left. Since I'm in the process of decluttering our entire house, I really like this site.

Jumble Puzzles Online has the daily flash animated Jumble puzzle with limited access to archived puzzles. Fun time waster, and you can challenge yourself by trying to beat the timer.

WebCrosswords has a daily crossword puzzle with limited access to archived puzzles. You can play the easier level, which notifies you as you type whether your letter choices are correct, or you can play the master level (without notification). I really enjoy these puzzles (I usually play with the notifications).

Anyway, enjoy!

What's Under My Couch This Week

This is the worst it's been so far. I haven't cleaned it out in a couple of weeks, so stuff really had an opportunity to pile up under there. Also, Jack's new favorite naughty thing is to throw things behind the couch whenever I leave the room. He may have been doing this along, which would account for the assortment I find every time, but I only caught him doing it last week. Anyway, here's this week's list. Enjoy!

Oskar's Electronic Chip tag (we had him tagged when he was altered)
3 plastic marbles (two grey, one red). I have no idea what these are for
1 yellow dump truck
1 piece of wooden bread
2 pieces of the bath toy set Jack got for Christmas
Activity bar belonging to the kid's walker
Wii travel bag (Jack uses this to "go work")
1 Stride-Rite sandal (Jack's)
3 spoons
1 roll of scotch tape
1 pair of scissors
1 small bear
6 Hot Wheels cars
2 pieces of Lego
a bent hinge from the kitchen cabinet we removed over the stove
the air tube from our old fish tank
1 clear plastic ruler
1 curtain wand
1 yellow marker
2 automatic pencils
a spool of ecru thread
1 lip gloss
a clear plastic container of unknown origin
1 sippy cup with dregs of milk
1 hair elastic
1 yellow plastic ball
2 rubber balls from Lily's Cariboo game
1 inflatable ball with bell inside from Jack's baby play mat
1 pink adult croc
1 pink child's croc
1/2 box of kleenex
Jack's Christmas book
Hello Kitty Ornament
1 plastic hammer
1 pink plastic drinking cup
1 pink plastic measuring cup
1 business card case
1 rattle
4 Apples to Apples game cards
1 empty Play-Doh container...again
1 magnetic part to our Ipod stand
CD containing our old MS Windows software
Small yellow plastic cup


Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Jack

I'm finally starting to get back into my pre-holiday and pre-illness routine. Today, Jack and I dropped Lily off at school and went on our usual Monday errands -- grocery store, butcher shop and fishmonger. Jack spent the entire trip to the grocery saying "Papa - P! Papa - P!" We've been practicing letters and we told him his special letter is J, Lily's is L, Papa's is P and mine is W (or "doubles") as he calls it.

When we got to the store, Jack yelled "Shopping! Yay!" Is that my child, or what? Once we got inside, he pointed to everything he recognized and told me what it was -- apples, grapes, oranges (anj-ooos) and bananas. A lady heard him and was holding up her things for him to name. Then we stopped at the deli where his favorite deli worker gave him cheese. He said "Jackie LOVE cheeeeeese!" This is usually his favorite part of the trip. As usual, he sang to the music for most of the trip, pausing only to point things out, like chicken and juice.

One thing we've noticed him doing lately is talking in a whispery voice whenever someone other than his immediate family addresses him. He was singing and talking in a normal (even louder than normal) voice until a lady came up and said hello, at which time he practically whispered "Helloooooo." He also makes his voice get really high pitched when he does this. Weird.

I started this post yesterday, and it serves to remind me how quickly a toddler can go from a delight to a terror. Today, Jack was all about breaking and hitting things with any stick-shaped object he could get his hands on. If it weren't for the days when he was a sweet, weird little comedian who loves to cuddle with me, I don't know what I'd do.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Fun Time Was Had By All...Except Me.

We have been very busy this weekend. On Saturday, Lily had her friends Tyler and Emma Lau over for the afternoon. They had a lot of fun playing dress-up and making paper airplanes.

That evening, our friend (and Tyler and Emma's mom) Beth invited us to dinner and made homemade macaroni and cheese that was to die for. The kids played upstairs after dinner and the adults had a few beers and played "Apples to Apples," a hilarious party game. Once the kids went to sleep, we played "Scene It," a video game on the Xbox 360. Everyone got a handheld controller to buzz in their answers about various movies, actors, characters and famous lines. It was a lot of fun. We left around midnight with Jack, but Lily stayed over with Emma. Beth and her husband Alex live across the street, so we've had a few of these game nights and hope to do it more often.

The next morning, we picked up Lily and then headed into the city with the Laus for dim sum at the China Pearl in Chinatown. Jim and I love to get dim sum and were taking the kids into Chinatown once a month or so. We were happy to learn several months ago that the Laus do a regular dim sum there, too! This is the second time we've all gone to China Pearl together. Alex is part Chinese, so he always recommends something new and different for us to try, and the kids love it when our families go out together. This morning, Tyler was on a playdate with one of his school friends, so it was just Lily, Emma and Jack.

Unfortunately, my chest congestion had been getting worse. This morning, I noticed I was having some trouble breathing after going up and down the stairs. By the time we got to China Pearl, I was really having a lot of trouble breathing. We finished dim sum and then Beth and Alex offered to take the kids home while Jim took me to the hospital.

I don't like to go to the emergency room, and I didn't feel like my breathing issues were an emergency. On the other hand, I didn't feel like I could wait until tomorrow, when my doctor has office hours, because my difficulty breathing felt like it was getting worse. Once we got to the hospital, I was relieved to see that the walk-in medical clinic was open, so we went there instead of the ER.

After a chest x-ray and a nebulizer treatment, it turns out that I'm having an asthma flare up. Jim and I were both pretty surprised -- I had medication induced asthma when I was first on heart medication, but it cleared up almost immediately once they switched me to a new med. Neither of us thought I could get asthma from something else, but apparently this chest cold triggered an attack. Good to know. I'm breathing much better and was prescribed some prednisone and albuterol to keep everything clear until this cold goes away.

As a result of my side trip to the hospital, Lily and Jack got to have another afternoon of play time with their friends. When we got home from the hospital, Jim and I went over for a beer and some snacks while we watched the Pats game. I left after a little while to have a nap at home, but Jim and the kids stayed until the game was over. Jack was completely worn out when he got home!

So, everyone had a great weekend, except for me. My weekend was only *mostly* great. I do hope we continue the game nights, though. I haven't laughed so much in years!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alastair Cooke Presents: Lilybug Theater

As I was writing my earlier posts, Lily asked if she could contribute some stories. Here they are:

The Surfing Penguins

Once upon a time there was a surfing penguin, a boy and a girl. They both liked to surf on their surfboards across the ocean. But then one day, they surfed across the ocean and a big wave came and they splashed over into the water. Then they came back home and they saw no surfboard on their feet and they were just surfing with no board. They used to have a surfboard! Then they jumped and there was the surf board, then they jumped again and they were standing on a magical surfboard. The end.

The Princess and the Frog.

Once upon a time there was a princess and frog. They always played all day at castle. But one day, they forgot all about playing and they didn't even play. (At this point, Lily picked up one of Jack's picture books about Christmas, which begins to inform the rest of her story, as you will see) They were decorating the tree because it was Christmas. They couldn't play because it was Christmas time, and also, if they didn't hang it on the tree no one would like what it is. Whatever they did, they always liked to play. It was a tinkling bell under the bush one day when they found it, and then they saw that no cookies were in the cookie jar and no milk in the cup. Something had ate everything. And then when it ate everything, Santa wouldn't be happy and come to their house so they got sad. Soon, when they woke up it was back there all munched and crunched like a big chubby head and...(here she paused and we had the following conversation)

L: What color are Santa's socks, mom?
Me: I don't know.
L: You have to guess, mama.
Me: Red?
L: (Shows me the picture book, which has the socks hidden under a flap). Get it, it's green. They're green, get it? Like that! (showing me the stamp on her hand from ballet class). What do you think the penguins got for presents? (indicating the next flap in the book).
Me: Are you done with your story?
L: Yes. The End. Can I write my name on it?
Me: Yes.

And here it is:

lily d

As typed by Lily all by herself.

The Lily and Jack Stand Up Hour

The kids were quite entertaining this evening. I'm proud to introduce the following jokes as told by Lily:

L: Knock Knock
Me: Who's there?
L: Ivan
Me: Ivan who?
L: Ivan working on the railroad all the day! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Jack: (sings made up words and laughs)

L: Knock Knock
Me: Who's there?
L: Banana
Me: Banana who?
L: Hello, I'm an orange! Squeeze my juice please! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Jack: Orange! Orange! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

L: Knock Knock
Me: Who's there?
L: Kitty
Me: Kitty who?
L: Kitty let me in the door and don't slam it on me! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Jack: Slam door! Slam door! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

As well as being Lily's biggest fan and imitator, Jack has also been doing a terrific impersonation of Michael Jackson all evening. He took one of his navy blue and green stripped mittens, which he refers to as a "hand," and has been wearing it on his left hand all evening. He even ate dinner while holding his fork in the mittened hand (notably, he hasn't managed to get his thumb into the thumb hole, so I found his fork handling pretty impressive). He refuses to take it off.

Oh yeah, Jim performed a little comedy routine earlier in the day. While I was in court, Jim dressed Jack. When I got home, Jim left to go into work and I took Jack's shoes off to get him ready for a diaper change and a nap. Jack was wearing forest green socks that I'd never seen before. I was wondering where they came from as I pulled them off, which is when I realized that Jim had put a pair of my cotton peds on Jack. You know how hard it is to tell the difference between a pair of Women's size 9-10 peds and a pair of Toddler size 6 socks....NOT. When I asked Jim about it this evening, he said "I thought they seemed a little big." I would like to state for the record that Jack had an entire package of brand new socks in his clothing drawer and my peds were downstairs on the folding table, so I'm really unclear on how this happened.

A Whole Lotta Nuthin'

Jury duty went off without a hitch and was much as expected. Framingham District Court is very small, so there were only about 35 people in the pool. I was Juror Number 1. Before the process got started, a few prospective jurors were asking questions about the process and I answered. One man said "Wow, you must have a lot of experience being a juror!" I said "Actually, I used to be a trial lawyer. I've never been picked for a jury." A couple of people asked why and I said "No attorney in his right mind would want a former Commonwealth attorney from a law enforcement agency to serve on criminal jury."

After a while, we watched the dorky video about jury service with an introduction by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margaret Marshall, whose Austrian? German? unknown accent, combined with her inability to say the word "r," made her sound a little bit like a foreign "Baba WaWa" from Saturday Night Live. The video, which I have seen before, is ridiculous. After Justice Marshall finishes her speech, the scene fades into a mock courtroom. There are two women who portray and attorney and a judge, both of whom discuss aspects of a typical trial. The other portion of the courtroom narrative is done by a 60ish man in a navy blue suit with Buddy Holly glasses. He tends to pose with his hands grasping his coat lapels, and he likes to punctuate the important points by putting on and taking off his glasses. People were actually snickering during his portion of the film (and during Justice Marshall's cwazy pwesentation). I felt a little humiliated to be represented as a lawyer by that movie, but what can you do?

After about 2 hours of sitting around, we were called upstairs. Just as I predicted, the case was a DUI with a female defendant. She was nicely dressed in a black sweater and red plaid wool pants. She looked to be my age or older. I was really curious to hear the circumstances that got her charged with a DUI, but before a jury is chosen, they don't give you any details. Since I was Number 1, I was the first person seated in the jury box. I was really excited because that meant I would most likely be chosen as the foreman.

As soon as they had the first 8 jurors in the box, the lawyers went to sidebar. The people at sidebar are supposed to be quiet, but I could hear the defense attorney saying "Number 1 should be dismissed for cause because she wrote here that she was an attorney for the Commonwealth." After a few more minutes, the judge called me over.

Judge: "Do you think you can be impartial even though you used to work for the Commonwealth?"

Me: "I think so."

J: "When you say 'think,' what does that mean?"

Me: "I would certainly hope that as an attorney I would be able to put all bias aside and consider the case on the facts."

J: "Do you think you would find the testimony of a police officer true solely because he was a police officer?"

Me: "Absolutely not. I would weigh the officer's credibility just like any other witness."

J: "I find that you can serve as a juror."

Me: (thinking to myself "Awesome!")

DA: "I have no problem with this juror."

Defense Attorney: "Can I be heard?" (Uh-oh...)

I had to step to the side while they argued. The judge made the defense attorney use up one of his 2 peremptory challenges to take me off the panel. I hoped he wouldn't think it was worth it, but I got dinged back to the waiting bench with everyone else. The man sitting next to me said "Wow, just like you predicted."

It was sad, really. I tried very hard to get on. The poor woman next to me, who really didn't want to serve, ended up getting selected. I think I would have made a good juror, too. Oh well. Maybe in 3 years!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There's Not Much to Tell

We haven't had much going on here, mostly due to my illness and the 10 inches of snow we got yesterday.

The good news is that I finally feel like I'm getting over whatever evil disease I've been suffering from. The bad news is that I have not been cleaning the house since I got sick and it is terrifyingly unclean. This means that I'll be doing a whole lot of cleaning on Thursday and Friday in order to make sure it doesn't cut into family time on the weekend.

Jim's company was closed during yesterday's storm, so we had a snow day at home. The kids had fun playing snowball fight with Jim and our neighbors Alex and his two kids, Tyler and Emma. I got a few pictures, which I'll try to post later this week, along with some shots of our new office and Lily's new and improved bedroom. Oh yeah, and the kitchen, which a lot of you haven't seen since the (mostly completed) makeover.

In other news, I have jury duty tomorrow in Framingham. I haven't been in a court since May when I was finishing up my last jury trial. My panel is assigned to Framingham District Court, which means that I'm probably going to be up for selection on a criminal case (misdemeanor, since all felony trials in Massachusetts take place in Superior Courts). My educated guess would be a DUI case, since that's mostly what you see in district court -- that or drug charges.

The last time I was called for jury duty, I had to go to Marlborough District Court. As I handed in my juror information sheet, I asked the court officer whether my address would be kept from the criminal defendant. He glanced at my sheet and said "Don't worry, you're never getting on a criminal jury."

He's probably right. When I was trying cases, the last person I wanted on a civil jury was a lawyer. The big concern is that other jurors will be persuaded by an attorney to adopt his/her point of view because the attorney "knows the law." That means that you could end up trying your case to a jury of one, which is never a good thing. In the criminal context, not only would you try and avoid a lawyer, but you'd also want to avoid anyone who has relatives in law enforcement or who has worked themselves in law enforcement. Why? Because these people are more likely to believe the word of a member of law enforcement than the word of a criminal defendant.

I'd actually like to serve on a jury if I could be sure it would be a one day trial. I think it would be interesting to see how a jury panel thinks about evidence. Unfortunately, I don't know any lawyers who have ever served on a panel once they were admitted to the bar, so I'm pretty sure I won't get to, either. I thought I could call myself a homemaker on the questionnaire, but they make it so you have to tell what you did before you were a homemaker. I had already cleverly disguised my law degree as a doctoral degree, but having to state what my last job was kind of blew that out of the water. Oh well.

It is going to be somewhat of a nightmare to drive to Framingham during rush hour tomorrow. Although I really dread the commute, I am trying to psych myself up for the day by imagining what interesting people I will get to see. More on that later, I hope!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Still Sick Over Here...

By the time Thursday rolled around, my cold was getting worse and it was complicated by a swollen gland or lymph node (I'm not a doctor, so I don't know) under my chin that made it hard to chew. Sadly, my scheduled trip to the doctor proved to be humiliating and of little help. Jim met me in the waiting room so he could entertain Jack during my appointment. As I was checking myself in, the receptionist heard me cough and made me put on a blue surgical mask. I then had to sit down in the crowded waiting room as everyone stared at me as if I was a leper.

The mask was made of paper formed in a dome, and it had a metal strip over the bridge of the nose so that you could make it fit. After about 30 seconds, the mask made my face sweat. Also, I had to keep pulling the mask down to blow my nose. I decided to leave the mask around my neck and pulled it over my mouth only when I had to cough. Big mistake. The receptionist saw me and said loudly "Ma'am, you need to keep that mask on." I said "I am keeping it on when I cough. It makes my face sweat and I can't blow my nose." She said "No, it has to stay on at all times."

Now I'm not only the waiting room leper, but I've been identified as one who is recklessly exposing everyone to my evil germs of doom. I put the sweat dome over my nose and mouth again and suffered in angry silence for the next thirty minutes. I just know that there were a bunch of dangerously ill patients around me with no upper respiratory symptoms who were sitting there, mask free, enjoying my torture and spreading *their* evil germs of doom to all of the unsuspecting patients.

Of course, once they finally called me in for my appointment, my temperature, which has been between 100-101 for almost a week, was normal, according to the nurse. Apparently, taking the cold medicine that morning was a bad plan, because this bit of information ultimately led my doctor to believe I had a virus and not a bacterial illness. I guess he saw the misery and pleading in my eyes, because he said "I'm 95% sure it's viral, but I am prescribing you a Z-pack to take on Sunday if you aren't getting better by then." He also gave me some cough medicine with codeine to help me sleep.

You see, my doctor does not like to prescribe antibiotics unless the bacterium are standing on your face and waving at him. He is of the opinion that Americans take too many unnecessary antibiotics and are therefore increasing the number of resistant diseases. I know he's right, but his diagnosis (or lack of one) left me feeling at a loss. I felt so sick, I could barely make it through the day taking care of the kids, but I ended up agreeing that I would wait until Sunday to start the antibiotics.

Jim agreed I should wait to take the Z-pack. The doctor also recommended that I take Claritin, and since Jim's company makes Loratadine (same thing), we have tons at home. Jim felt that the Claritin was going to fix my situation. So I followed instructions.

...and I got sicker and sicker, and my jaw hurt even more. I finally broke down this morning and took the first two pills in the Z-pack at about 8 am. Now, maybe it's a placebo effect or maybe my "virus" was already turning the corner, but by 4:00 pm, the soreness and swelling under my jaw was significantly better. I personally believe that the antibiotics are playing a role. When I mentioned it to Jim, he told me "It can't be the Z-pack already." Later this evening, however, he said "I told you to take the Z-pack on Thursday."

Huh? Apparently it was his evil twin that told me to follow the doctor's instructions. Whatever. The jury's still out on whether my other symptoms are abating. I got a lot of rest today, courtesy of Jim watching the kids and I hope I'll start to feel better when I wake up in the morning.

And Jim? He's been out with his friends 3 times since I got sick. He's out tonight with our neighbor, who is watching his two kids alone this weekend while his wife is out of town. Alex, the neighbor, called me 30 minutes into his time alone with both kids and asked if they could have a play date at my house, but I digress. As Jim was getting ready to go out, I mentioned how often he'd been out this week.

Jim: "But it was at night when the kids were in bed."

Me: "Did you ever think I might like someone to take care of me after I've been taking care of the kids all day feeling sick?"

Jim: "Oh. I'm sorry. But I have to go because I promised I would."

I don't begrudge him time out with his friends, and lord knows that no one really wants to hang around with a sick spouse who spends the evening coughing up a lung, but it would have been nice to have someone take care of me for a while. Just sayin'.

Child Prodigy

Everyone in our family knows that Lily has verbal and motor skills in advance of her age. She rolled over early, sat up early, walked early and then talked in sentences early. As a result, we kind of expected Jack to learn skills in advance of his age, too.

Except...he was pretty much right on target for his age. This is not a bad thing by any means, but after a while, I just kind of expected him to develop skills more slowly than Lily did. The only skills he has learned in advance of his age are taking things apart and defeating child safety cabinet locks.

So just imagine my surprise when he crawled up on the couch next to me the other day and started identifying letters on my Nintendo DS crossword puzzle game.

Jack: "Double!" (pointing to a W I had just drawn in) "I see Y!" (pointing)

Me: "Huh?"

Jack: "L! O!"

I was stunned. I thought to myself "he taught himself his letters! He's a prodigy!" I switched the DS to a drawing program and started drawing letter on the screen for him to identify. We went through the whole alphabet. He turned out to be a little shaky on most of the letters, but he definitely knew L, O, W and Y, and he usually got B and D. Even more amazing, when he got the answer wrong, he was using a real letter name, so he definitely knows most of the letter names.

You see, we haven't spent as much time reading to him as we did with Lily at his age. Lily was interested in books at 3 months old, but Jack didn't really show more than a polite interest until a few months ago, when he suddenly became obsessed with books. Now he wants to look at books all the time, but he mostly wants to point things out and identify them rather than have the story read. So, in the last few months, I've spent a lot of time working with him on identifying pictures and colors. I never once thought to teach him letters or numbers. I did notice that when Lily was trying to sound out words we'd spell for her, Jack would often repeat the letters out loud. I figured he'd just learned them by watching and listening. A prodigy!

I couldn't wait for Jim to get home. "Guess what Jack can do? He knows some of his letters!" Jim looked at me blankly and said "Yeah, I've been working on them with him for weeks now."

Oh. Well, I guess he's not the prodigy I imagined, but I am thrilled that he is interested in learning letters so young. Maybe he's going to gain a few more skills in advance of his age than I thought.

Today, as I was talking on the phone with my mom, he called out to me, "Mama! I find a D!" Sure enough, he had identified the letter D in a magazine lying open by the window. I was pretty proud of him, both for finding a letter on his own and for his sentence "I find a D." Of course, soon afterwards he went about his usual business of "breaking" and "jumping,"

I think Jack has unsuspected depths. I don't know if I'm excited or afraid to find out what they are.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Readers Can Comment Now!

My mom mentioned that when she tried to comment on the blog, it told her she had to have an account. I finally figured out how to turn that feature off, so if you want to leave a comment, feel free.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Observations From My Field Guide

For fun, I thought I'd write down my observations of what Jack did during one half hour of play. Here it is:

Jack is jumping up and falling face down the carpet. He says "Funny! That fun! Whoa!" and laughs. "Oh, Funny, Fun. That fun! I'm jumping." Activity continues for some time.

Jack stops his jumping and walks over to the couch. He picks up Jim's Nintendo DS and closes it. "Bye," he says, and then walks to the middle of the room. He bends over and puts his head on the ground. He looks at me from between his legs. Then he comes back over to the couch, picks up the game, says "Bye" and throws it onto the couch. He turns around and goes back to the middle of the room where he does his jumping and falling game for a while, shouting "Whoa!" each time.

After a bit, he grabs my keys and tries to insert them into an unidentified plastic item that is sitting on the coffee table. Then he turns back to the middle of the room and jumps and falls. He crawls back over to the coffee table to get the plastic item and the keys. He's singing "Doo doo doo doo doo doo" as he does it. Suddenly, he throws everything and makes a loud noise like "BBBBBRRIIIIIIINNG!" He laughs.

He turns back to the middle of the room and starts his jumping and falling while yelling "Whoa!" Then he rolls around on the ground for a bit. Eventually, he rolls onto his back abd pauses to watch TV. He taps the bottoms of this feet on the ground in a little rhythm. While doing so, he accidentally kicks his talking garbage truck and it makes a noise. He sits up and rolls the truck back and forth for a while. He pauses to lie down and look at TV. He taps his feet on the floor and kicks the truck some more.

After a few minutes, he sits up and spots Oskar. He crawls over to the cat, stands up and says "Meow! meow!" Oskar backs away behind the TV cabinet. Jack closes the doors to the TV cabinet and then goes back over to Oskar, who peers out from behind the cabinet. "Meow! Meow!" He tries to grab tail as Oskar runs towards the dining room. He chases him and successfully grabs Oskar's tail and pulls. He says "Meow! Meow!" Oskar hides under the dining room table, so Jack lays down and looks under the chair. He gets up and goes after cat under the table. "Meow! Meow!" Oskar bats at him and then runs out from under the table, so Jack stands up and chases him for a bit. Jack does a little dance and sings "Hoo hoo." The cat comes back and Jack runs around the table. He crawls under the table and tries to grab the cat, banging his head. Then he says "Ow ow ow." He crawls out and comes over to me, pointing at his hand. "Poke a cat. A poke cat. A poke cat." I'm guessing Oskar caught him with his claws.

Jack goes back to his jumping and falling game and then lies on his back and looks up at me.
He sits up and looks around. He crawls in a circle and makes nonsense noises. He goes over to the hot wheels track, which is in two pieces and picks it up. He says "What happened?" He tries to put the track together, without success. He knocks the top part of the track on its side and says "A gate! A gate! A gate! GAAATTTE! A Gate! A Gate Jackie." He steps over it and puts his head on the ground and looks at me between his legs. He says "Funny, A funny." He gets up and steps back over the track, tripping a bit. "Oww. A Gate!" He steps over again and this time purposely kicks it "OWWW. "Breaking GATE!" Then he stands on the other portion of track and says "A Gate! A Gate!

He runs over to me and butts the laptop cover. He tries to close it with his head several times. Then he runs to the chair and flings himself onto it, yelling "Down!" He gets down and tries to fix the tracks with no luck. After a few second, he stops and looks briefly at TV. He turns back to the tracks. "Gate Stepping!" He steps over and throws himself back into the chair. He takes the throw from the chair and drags it onto the floor, saying "No, No, Don't. Ha Ha!" He covers the track with the blankets and yells "Gate! A Gate! Gate stepping!" He throws himself back into the chair and says "Jack jumping!" He stands up and jumps on chair, saying "I jump!" He slides off and then gets back on the chair, lies down and looks at me. He gets off and then back on. This time he rests on his tummy. He gets down and says "Breaking. I breaking. Break! Break gate" and then gets back into the chair, saying "No no no." He gets off again, saying "No no! No no no break my gate. No gate."

He finds that plastic thing again and goes into the dining room "A house!" He comes back and gets my keys, yelling "AHHH" "Ahhh!" all the way back to the dining room. He sticks the keys into the fake outlet on wall, and then into the plastic thing. You can see him concentrate really hard to get the keys into the plastic thing. He comes back into the living room saying "Jumping!" He puts the key and plastic thing down on the heater cover and works on getting the keys in. Then he moves it around like car, picks it up and brings it over to the pie safe. He drives it around on the middle shelf like a car, concentrating very hard. Then he starts scratching it back and forth quickly. He moves the plastic to the bottom shelf andscratches there, then to the top, and then to the inside of the door. When that palls, he drops the plastic and brings my keys over. As he returns, he sees his binky. "B!" he yells, dropping my keys to pick it up.

He puts the binky in his mouth and goes to the coffee table. He goes over to the chair and leans on it for a second. He straightens up and says "Mmm-hmmm! (his way of saying yes)" He walks over to the hassock and plays with some small, empty boxes that he took out of the pie safe earlier. He says "Mmmm-hmmm" He starts throwing boxes down to the floor, saying "No no no no no noooooo!" He repeats the word "no" as he throws all of the boxes onto the floor. He turns and kicks the boxes into the bottom of the pie safe. He picks one box up and puts it into the pie safe, and then pulls several boxes out onto the floor. He is talking to himself, but I can't understand him because of the Binky. He brings some boxes over to the hassock, and talks to himself some more. The only part I understood was "Jack jack." He opens a box, and takes out a square piece of styrofoam with a hole in the center.

At this point, my recorded TV show ends and Sesame street comes on. He pauses and notices Sesame Street. Then he takes out a second foam square with a hole in center and puts on floor "Potty!" He grabs the first piece and says "Another one potty!" He tries to sit on one piece like a potty. "Nooooo." He tries to break the styrofoam. "A potty." He sits on second piece and scoots across the floor on it. He puts both pieces together and sits on them. He looks around room. He pauses to watch Sesame for a bit. He goes over to the window and pulls himself off ground up on table. He gets down and knocks a few of the videos on the table onto the floor, saying "MM-hmmm." He kicks the videos and then pushes them away from portable heater which is under the table. He spends quite a bit of time trying to turn the heater on and off (it's not plugged in). He does it while sitting, standing on one leg, and then crouching. "Where light?" Where light? Hot, hot." Eventually, he puts heater back under the table, stands up and looks at the children's books on the table. He picks one up and then drops it back on the table. His attention is caught by Sesame Street and he sits down to watch. He's pretty tired now, and frankly, so am I for typing this up!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Now I'm Sick...

Lest anyone think I'm not keeping up on my blog, I just wanted to let you know I'm getting slowed down by my cold/flu/infection or whatever it is I have going on right now. Jim was recovered from his illness by Tuesday, and Lily and Jack both seem fine (although Lily still has a croupy cough). I can't seem to shake the sickness I've had since last week, probably due to the fact that Jim feels he's "taken enough time off from work lately" and can't help me with the kids this week. As a result, it's difficult for me to get much rest.

So, today my neighbor Beth took Lily to ballet and kept her at her house to play with her friend Emma so that I could take a real nap this afternoon while Jack slept. That was nice, and I feel much better this evening as a result. Jim was supposed to be home at 3:30 to give me a break, but he ended up walking in at 5:30, so Beth really did me a favor keeping Lily all that time (11:45-5:30). Once Jim got home, she invited both kids over for a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. Jim took Jack over there so I have a bit of quiet time to myself.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon, and I'm actually hoping that whatever I have can be treated with antibiotics so I can get rid of it quickly. We'll see.

Lily had a terrific day at her friend Emma's and I found out her ballet costume will be ready soon! It sounds like they will be dressed as little Santas, but since this is based on a 4 year old's description, I'll have to wait until next Wednesday to see what it really looks like.

If anyone is interested in attending Lily's first ballet recital, it will be on Sunday, May 18th. According to the newsletter Lily brought home, there will be a lottery for the tickets. I have no idea why. This is what the newsletter says (all grammatical and punctuation errors are in the original):

Recital tickets are done by a lottery, starting Monday, January 28th - February 2nd students will be able to pick a number out of a jar and we will record that number next to your name on our studio roster. This will be the order your tickets are pulled for the lottery. In April you will pick up a recital ticket order form, with your name and number on it. You fill out how many tickets you need and for which show and hand it in paid in full. You will be able to pick them up at the front desk starting April 28th -- May 3rd. Any tickets still available will be on sale starting May 4th.

I have a few questions about this information:

(1) Why is a lottery necessary? Is it because there are a limited amount of tickets available? Or does it have to do with where your seat is in the audience?

(2) I have to PAY for my tickets? Whaaaaat? I'm paying for her lessons and the costume (quite a bit for the costume, actually). I hope at least two tickets are comped and I'm only paying for additional seats.

If you want to attend, please let me know before April 1st so that I can put in my order.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Still Sick at My House

Jim got sick in the middle of the night, and Jack started throwing up this morning. Lily seems to be fine now, so she went to school. I'm suffering from a chest cold, but so far I'm staving off the stomach virus.

Jack got much better after he napped this morning, and is now running around the living room playing with his trucks and hot wheels. I had to go into the kitchen for something, and I told him "Don't do anything naughty while I'm gone." As I stepped out of his sight, he kept repeating "anything naughty!" over and over again. Then I heard some crashes, so I ran back into the room. He was dropping everything he could find behind the couch. Perhaps this explains the large number of items I keep finding there!!!!

Lily asked me more questions about God on the way to school this morning. She asked again if God had any pets, and I told her he had all the pets who went to Heaven. Then she asked if the cats took turns sitting in his lap. I told her that God was so big, all the cats could sit in his lap at one time. We then had this conversation:

Lily: "Is he bigger than those trees?"

Me: "He's bigger than the whole world, because he made the world."

Lily: "Are we in his stomach?"

M: No, but we are all a part of God and God is a part of all of us.

L: He must be humungo! Did he make that house?

M: Yes.

L: Did he make me?

M: Yes. He made everything in the world.

L: Did he make all the worlds? (To Lily, a "world" can mean a different town or country)

M: Yes. And he did it in 6 days.

L: That was so fast!

M: On the seventh day he rested.

L: He was probably tired out.

M: Probably.

Then we got to school. I asked her if she wanted to go to church some time.

L: No. I don't want to go to church.

M: But at church you can hear people talk about God.

L: I already know about God.

M: They sing songs about God there, too.

L: No thanks!

I'm really curious what is making her ask all these questions lately!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lily's Unicorns

Just a quick post for tonight. We're all kind of under the weather here with some kind of cold/stomach bug. Accordingly, not much of interest has occurred lately!

I did want to telly everyone about Lily's new invisible friends, Snowflake and Uni. She invented them a week or so ago. Today, they made one of their increasingly frequent appearances and she told me quite a bit about them. They were sitting right next to me, but of course, I couldn't see them. They are both female unicorns, and only Lily can see them. She's not sure what they look like, except that they look "kind of like a rainbow."

They are not very well behaved in the car, let me tell you. Today, they kept pulling on their leashes to let Lily know they wanted treats, and she had to repeatedly remind them that there were no treats in the car. The only treat they want is orange circus peanuts. They also like to drink water "like dogs." The other naughty thing they do is to push Lily aside to get in front of her "so they can see things." They have to see whatever she's seeing. In Lily's words, "they are always interested."

At home they like to watch whatever Lily is watching on TV. They sleep in the livingroom in special sleeping bags "made for them out of stuff that unicorns like." The bags are pink, purple and "rainbowy, like the unicorns." They can't sleep in Lily's room because they snore and keep her awake. They do not like loud noises and they are scared of the city, monsters and "bad things."

Oh, to be 4 again!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


My, didn't we have fun last night?

First, Jack woke up 6 times between when I went to bed and when Jim got home, thus ensuring I never actually fell asleep. Second, Lily woke up as soon as Jim got home and asked to come in our bed. Third, Lily tossed and turned in the bed and kept me awake for another 45 minutes as Jim snored blissfully next to me. And then...

Lily said "My stomach doesn't feel good, Mama." That made me sit right up. I asked if she was going to vomit and she said "Yes." That made me jump out of bed and grab her. We started running to the stairs, but poor Lily couldn't make it. She threw up right at the top of the stairs. It was a great shot -- she missed herself and me, but managed to hit every single stair and both walls.

As soon as she was done, she tried to head back to our bed. I told her she had to sleep downstairs with me to be close to the bathroom. "Why?" she said "My stomach is fine now." 4 years of experience has taught me that kids rarely get sick just once. I got her settled in and then spent 40 minutes cleaning up the mess on the stairs. Lily kept up a running commentary from her bed while I worked:

"Why do you keep making that noise, Mama?" (I was gagging repeatedly because while I can clean up almost any kid mess, I am not good with vomit.)
"I'm cold. Can't you hurry up, Mama?"
"I feel fine now, let's go upstairs to your bed!" Yeah, right.

We moved into the guest room bed and I loaded her up with blankets because she was cold. We just lay there staring at each other for a long time. She asked me why I was still awake, and I said "In case you get sick again, I can help you." "Oh, I'm not going to be sick. I'm better now."

That lasted about 10 minutes. Just as I started to doze off, Lily said "Bucket." That made me leap up and grab the plastic bin next to the bed. We waited and nothing happened. "It went away. Sorry. I feel fine now." It became a little routine. Lily would get into the covers and complain of being cold. Then she would kick off the covers because she was too warm. Then she would toss and turn restlessly and I would reach for the bucket, because I knew then she was about to say "Bucket!" again. We played this duet for some time, but Lily could not throw up. When she finally did, I could see how relieved she felt. It truly does feel awful to be nauseated like that all night. She fell right to sleep after she was sick, and I went and cleaned up.

Just as I was crawling into bed next to Lily to go to sleep, I heard Jack wake up. I waited, but it was clear Jim was going to sleep through Jack's cries, so I went upstairs. Jack was crying "Mama! Mama!" I settled him in bed next to Jim, but as soon as I moved away from the bed, Jack started shrieking for me. I decided to take him downstairs with me, too. At first, he wanted to get up, but after I sat up in bed for about an hour holding him, he was finally willing to lie down next to Lily. He was really croupy, so I suspect that's what kept waking him up. After some experimentation, I found that propping him up on a pillow kept him sleeping comfortably. Remarkably, Lily did not wake up once during the entire process.

When I finally had both kids asleep, I inched in next to Jack. The guest room bed is only a full, so I was clinging to the edge to keep from falling out. Just as the sun started to peek through the shades, I fell asleep. Just in time for both kids to wake up and ask me for breakfast.

Both kids seem just fine this morning. Why is it that if a kid gets a stomach virus, it inevitably starts in the middle of the night? There must be some explanation for it.

I'm willing to bet that Jim will remember nothing that went on during the night, even though I woke him up once to warn him that I'd removed some of the treads from the stairs to clean them. Any takers?

Friday, January 4, 2008

More Troubles with Gas

Remember how we had the gas company here? All day? Digging the giant hole in the street to fix the terrible gas smell?

Right. Well, after they left, an asphalt truck came and patched the hole. Not thirty minutes later, Lily said "I see firemen!" I looked out the window, and, lo and behold, the firemen were investigating the empty house next door. Again. The hook and ladder was at the end of the street. I opened the door to see what was going on and was hit in the face (there is no other way to describe it) by a wall of gas odor. As usual, the firemen ignored me and then left.

Jim drove down the street right after the hook and ladder left (he saw them driving down main street on his way in). I mentioned that the firemen had been here again. He said "The gas smell is even worse than it was before they "fixed" it." Those words were still hanging in the air as I watched a Keyspan truck drive up and park in front of the house.

It was like deja vu. The gas worker went next door, used his sniffer on the road and then knocked on the door. He said "Hello, I'm here..."

I interrupted him and said "Hello, Mr. Gas Man. Let me take you downstairs to look at my meter and the sewage line. Right this way." As he followed me, he said "Has someone else from the gas company been here?" I said "Why, yes. Two people, actually. And they spent the day digging a hole in the street, ostensibly to fix the problem." He seemed stunned. "Where did they dig the hole?" "Right in front of the house next door." By that time we were in the basement.

Per my usual routine, I threw open the door to the gas meter and removed the board covering the sewage line. I said "They haven't found any gas in the house here yet. They seem to think the problem is in the road. Where they dug the giant hole."

He says "I didn't see the hole." He sniffed around and didn't find any gas in our house. I said "Would you like to see where they were digging?" He followed me outdoors into the stench of natural gas. It was pretty dark, and the road is pretty messed up from the snow and ice, so I can see how he missed the giant square of newly paved road right next to his truck. Yeah. Whatever. I then went through the list of how many times the gas company and fire department have been to our street this week.

"How long was the gas company here today?" he asked.

"All day. Pretty much from 10:00 until 5:00 pm. The fire department showed up less than an hour after they left."

[NOTE: This is my favorite part of our conversation coming up]

"Were they driving a Keyspan truck?" No, they were driving a little car full of clowns. The clowns got out and dug a giant hole in the street and then paved over it. I'm so stupid, I thought it was the gas company. I think the orange wigs threw me off. Ooops! Sorry!

"Yes, they had a Keyspan truck. You know, the kind with the backhoe and digging equipment inside."

"Oh. Okay."

I shouldn't make fun of the poor man, because he's just the on-call guy and the fire department called him in without going through the gas company. Again. I guess the now overpowering gas smell really concerned him, because he made a few calls and the Keyspan truck with the digger and jackhammers came out again and dug an even bigger hole in the street around 7:00. This time, the hole was so deep the workers had to climb down inside it with a ladder. Jim had plans to get a drink at the Dockside Restaurant down the road with our neighbor Alex, so he and Alex walked over to the hole and checked it out before they left. Alex had to drive, of course, because the hole prevented Jim from taking his car out of the driveway.

The workers left about an hour ago. I'm afraid to go outside and smell the air. If they have to come and dig a third hole, it would be the width of the street, and that makes me a little nervous. You have to safe are we if the fire department isn't communicating with the gas company about the issue on our street, and the gas company has to come out here and dig twice? And no one at the gas company who comes here seems to know anything about the previous calls....

Are You There, God? It's Me, Lily.

Lily has been asking a lot of questions about God lately. I think I triggered it on Thursday morning when we were driving to school and we had the following conversation:

Lily: I'm the boss of Jack, right Mom?

Me: No, you aren't the boss of anyone. If you saw Jack doing something wrong, you can stop him from doing it, but you're not the boss of him.

Lily: But you're the boss of me and Jack, right?

Me: Yes, and so is Papa.

Lily: And the teachers are the boss of me at school?

Me: Yes. And do you know who the boss of me is? (I asked because I was curious to see if she would say my parents or Jim were the boss of me).

Lily: God. Because God is the boss of everyone.

Me: Well, I suppose that's true.

Lily: Does God love everyone?

Me: Yep.

Lily: Even if they're bad?

Me: He always loves you, but he gets very disappointed and sad if you're bad and wants you to stop it and try to be good.

Lily: Even bad men?

Me: Especially bad men. God loves everyone the same.

Then we got to school, so the conversation stopped. I felt pretty comfortable with our discussion, but I was totally unprepared for the questions that she asked at dinner that night.

Lily: Papa, who's the boss of God?

Jim: (looks at me in a panic) I guess God is the boss of himself, right?

Me: Yes. He is in charge of everything.

Lily: Does he know everything I'm thinking?

Me: Yes.

Lily (concerned) Does he know where I hide all my secretest treasures and what I'm going to do with them? I don't want anyone to know that!

Me: (praying that her "secretest treasures" are not Sharpie markers) Yes, but God would never tell your secret to anyone in the world, as long as you aren't planning to do something bad (I said this in hopes of thwarting any plans that might damage our house or furniture).

Lily (relieved): Oh, okay. Does he know everything you and Papa are thinking?

Me: Yes. He knows what everyone in the world is thinking.

Lily: Does he have a mother?

Me: (not sure how to answer) No.

Jim: Yes, he does. Mary, Mother of God.

Me: Oh, that's right.

Lily: Why isn't his mother the boss of him?

Jim: I don't know (looking at me. I shrug, I have no idea how to answer that one).

Lily: Does he have cats and dogs at his house?

Jim: I don't know.

Me: Yes, in Kitty and Dog Heaven (because I gave Lily a book about Kitty Heaven when Cooper died, and it quite clearly states that God lets his cats eat their supper on the counter and sleep on his bed).

Lily: That's right. If he's God, he can have whatever he wants at his house, right?

Me: Right.

Lily: And heaven's up in the sky, right?

Me: Yes.

Lily: Okay. Can I be excused?

I would like to think that she is asking about God because she's interested in the subject, and not because she has secret plans to do something naughty and wants to make sure God won't find out and dime her out to us. I'm keeping my eye open for any large amounts of time spent out of our sight, just in case.

Papa Breaking Dump Truck

For those of you who don't know, we've been having major gas issues here. No, no one is sick. We have a gas leak in the street in front of our house.

We noticed the gas smell on Saturday when we got home from our IKEA adventure. It was pretty strong, and it was close to the new home next door, which is currently unoccupied, so I called the gas company and reported it. That evening, when we returned from dinner at Friendly's, a female gas employee was checking our street. She checked our basement, gas lines and sewer line to make sure we had no problem, and then assured us the leak was in the street. Since it wasn't an emergency, she said someone would come to fix it within a few days.

I guess the smell got stronger that evening, because someone called Melrose Fire Department. I woke up around 1 am to see a hook and ladder at the end of the street, and a bunch of firemen trying to open a window at the unoccupied house next door. Eventually, another gas company employee turned up. He checked our basement again and reassured us that the leak was in the street. It turned out that MFD called him directly since he was the on-call guy, and he didn't know we'd already reported the leak and had it checked out.

We've had a few gas company representatives come by in the past week. Someone marked up the area where the leak seemed to be strongest. Someone came out from dig safe and marked where it was safe to dig. A couple people came out and took measurements. I guess it was all leading up to today, when they brought the big truck out.

Jack was thrilled. As you know, he loves trucks and construction equipment, so he stayed right by the window watching them work this morning. He has also learned "big" and "small" this week, so he was enjoying telling me that there was a big box truck and a smaller backhoe (that they keep in the back of the big truck). Because we've had a lot of snow and freezing rain lately, they spent the first part of the morning just clearing snow and ice from the areas where they needed to dig. By the time they got out the jackhammers, it was nap time for Jack.

As an aside, did you know that the gas company not only keeps a small backhoe in its truck, but has a giant mechanical arm that comes out through the truck doors carrying two jackhammers and the compressor hose? It was a pretty efficient set up. I enjoyed watching it almost as much as Jack.

But I digress. Jack went up for a nap, and after an hour and a half, I went up myself to read and wait for him to get up. Before I went upstairs, they started digging a huge hole in the street. It was about seven feet long and five feet wide. When I went upstairs, it was about three feet deep. After I got upstairs, I could hear the conversation between the workers outside (we still have an air conditioner installed in the window by our bed and it isn't very weatherproof). It occurred to me that, even though Jack was sleeping in the other room, he might be able to hear the noise. I guess he did, because once they started to use the backhoe to fill in the hole and tamp it down, Jack sat right up in bed and said "PAPA! NO!"

I went into his room and said "What's wrong?" He pointed at the window and said "Papa breaking KITE! No, PAPA! Papa breaking DUMP TRUCK!!!" I don't know why this made me laugh so hard, but I thought I was going to wet my pants laughing. The kite part cracked me up just because he is so hung up on that word. The idea of Jim breaking a dump truck outside also cracked me up. I guess Jack heard a man's voice and the loud noise and assumed Jim was using heavy equipment outside. He was clearly really distressed, so I took him right downstairs to the window.

He looked outside and said very sadly, "Ohhhhhhh. Dump Truck all gone." He didn't mention the kite. In reality, there never was a dump truck, and the "big truck" and "small truck" were still there. In fact, he wasn't that interested in watching them do what little work remained. I think Jack was a little put out that he missed Papa naughtily breaking a dump truck out on the street.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Another Round of Photos!!!


This is a picture of "Princess," Lily's favorite fish in the koi pond at our hotel in San Francisco. She named it Princess because it had a sort of rainbow sheen to it. It doesn't really show up well in this picture, unfortunately.


Here are Lily and Jack riding the lambs at Grandma and Grandpa's house. They both got a kick out of the little statues.


Jack in his little fireman outfit at the children's museum in Paso Robles. He loved playing on the big fire truck they had in the first floor of the museum, which was a converted fire station.


Lily hugging her "cousint" Claire. Claire just wasn't that into a hug...I took several pictures trying to get a nice one of the two together to no avail.


Lily opening the camera Grammy and Granddaddy gave her. Do you think she liked it?


Jack eating his Christmas Munlie. Mmmmm, chocolate chips!


The kids reading Bambi with Grandpa.


Lily in front of a giant wooden propeller at the Aviation Museum. A better mom would be able to tell you where the propeller came from. Me, I have no idea.


Jack checking out the mock-up of a Blue Angels plane.


Jack pressing goldfish crackers onto his eyes at the airport (I told you he was strange). This shot gives a lovely view of the bandage covering his injury from Christmas Day, as well as the fresh bruise and scratch he picked up at the Aviation Museum.

That's it for pictures. I liked these the best of all the ones I took. You want to see more? You know where to go!

More Photos, Hopefully

Okay, I was relatively successful with the last post, so I'm going to try some more.


Here's Lily dancing on the wharf. You can see the San Francisco skyline in the background (or you will be able to if Blogger doesn't cut half of the picture off).


Here's Jack hugging Clifford (or CLIFF-oooool, as Jack would say). It was such a sweet moment, and he was jumping for joy and waving his hands in the air afterward.


Lily peeking out of the boat at the children's museum in Sausalito. I love this picture!


Lily waving from the same boat. You can see Golden Gate Bridge in the background!


Lily running up the stump steps. We really liked the outdoor features at this museum, and the kids thought they were terrific!


Jack staring at the bubble wall in one of the jumping areas at the museum. The floor of the little room was a waterbed sturdy enough to bounce around on. He really liked that area.

You know what, I think I finally beat Blogger on this post. Nothing appears to be too large or to be cut off! Yay!

Round 6: Will Wendy Prevail?

Okay. I stepped away. I went to pick up Lily and got some exceedingly cold air for my trouble. I'm going to try and post a few pictures. We'll see how it goes.


Can you say "lawbreakers?" Here we are sitting on the steps of the port authority. I'm not sure if you can read the sign (thanks to Jim who never takes a good picture), but it says "Please do not sit on the historic steps." It isn't clear why the steps are historic, or why they need to tell people not to sit on them (as far as I could tell, we were the only ones tempted to do it), but there you go. Edited to Add: No, you can't see the sign because accursed Blogger has cut it off. Whatever.


Here are Lily and Jack at the fountain in Ghirardelli Square. You may recall from my earlier post that Jack had a little cupcake meltdown there. Neither of the kids look too thrilled in this photo, which I took after the whole meltdown incident.


Here's Jim enjoying a burger at In-N-Out.


Like father, like son.


Here's the picture of Laughing Sal from the Musee Mechanique (I think I called her Laughing Jill before, but that turns out to be wrong). She laughed in a creepy way for about five minutes. Now take a look at Jack as he watched the show:


His expression is just priceless.

Okay. I talked with my Mom on the phone and she advises me that the picture in my previous post is not giant (as it appears on my computer). I'm hoping that these photos are not giant or too small. If they aren't, I think I may have finally beaten the Demon Blogger.

Photos 5, Wendy 0 (or Death to Blogger!)

This is getting so ridiculous. After another two hours of uploading, messing with the HTML code and searching through the help files, it looks like I have two problems: photo file size and some kind of a broken code issue. Do I look like a computer programmer to you? Once again, I cannot avoid the "post one photo and blog" issue that makes me hate Flickr with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns unless I want to monkey around with the pictures a whole lot. I don't want to monkey around with the pictures! Do you hear me, Internet? No more monkeying around with pictures! I won't do it!

I had twenty five photos to show you. I am not going to make 25 separate posts. As a result, one of the following will be the outcome of the mortal battle between me and Blogger:

1. You will have to come to my house to see the pictures. This is starting to sound like my favorite option because it requires NO EFFORT on my part. Take that, Blogger! You and your cursed low megabyte storage issues!

2. You will have to follow a link to my Snapfish account to see my pictures. The plus to this option is that you can order copies of photos if you want them. The downside is that it takes me even longer to upload a lot of photos to Snapfish than it does to Flickr, Photobucket or Blogger. Again, we're having that whole time suck issue that I want to avoid.

3. I will post a couple of pictures and you will just have to imagine all the cute Lily and Jack goodness you are missing (or come to my house and look at the pictures). If I could get over my irrational desire to poke Blogger in the eyes with a fork, I would probably go with this as a compromise option. As it is, I think I need to step away from all laptops, photo storage programs and anything with the word HTML on it for some time.

Is there no other option for the Mac user? Why do I have to struggle with these stupid programs. Does the Internet not know people want to look at my kids?

Let me try one thing here:


Do you see a photo? If so, you should see an image of Jack ready to roll out of the parking lot when we got to San Francisco on day one. I know it's huge....this is my problem. Let me see if I can make it smaller. Hmmm. One of the wonderful features of Blogger is that I can't always see it when I've made a change. I'm pretty sure the picture is still huge, but whatever. You don't like huge pictures, you can come to my house. You see, we can always go back to my favorite option, No. 1.

Now it is telling me I can't save this post, so who knows if anyone will see it. Do you think it's because I wrote "Death to Blogger" in my title?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas (and Why I Hate Photo Blogging)

I'm going to tell you all about Christmas Eve and Christmas, but I'm going to complain about freaking photo blogging first. AAARRRrrrrghhhhhh! (That was me screaming while grasping the hair on both sides of my head). I took 400+ photos on our trip. I spent an hour downloading them onto my laptop and honing them down to 24 photos that really represent our trip. Then I tried to upload them to my online photo storage account so I could blog them.

45 minutes and one computer crash later, they are still uploading. Actually, as I typed "still uploading" they "finalized" and now they are up. Still...after almost two hours of futzing about with the photos, don't expect to see them in this post. Typing is soooooo much better.

Anyway, I can't remember where I left off in our trip description, so I'll just start with Christmas Eve. Lily and Jack got to play with their "cousints" all day long. Lily and Claire seemed to get along very well, and the Buddha Baby (Andrew, who is delightfully baby-pudgy) kind of laid on the floor and laughed all day. Jack was his usual destructive self. He broke the little windmill he got from Grandpa and told everyone very sadly "Jackie Breaking RainMOOOO." He still speaks about it after more than a week. It was a sad day for him, because he now loves rainmoos almost as much as kites. Jack also fell down and clocked his head on the french doors TWICE. The second time, he got a scrape that bled and had to be bandaged. This becomes important later on, so remember it.

We all had a family photo, which you can look at through the Creston Deeds link at the side of this page. It was nice to be with everyone, and we were sad that Jon and Marcy had to leave before Christmas, although with their hectic schedules recently, we totally understood the need!

We checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Luis Obispo. We were really happy with the room, especially since it had a bathroom that opened onto the living room instead of into the bedroom. The kids were pretty worn out from playing with their cousins all day, so they went to sleep just fine. When we woke up, we dressed them and drove back to Creston.

Lily loved her Mooshabelly doll and was so excited about her princess dressing table. She also loved her camera and the little pet shop toys her grandparents bought her. Jack didn't really get Christmas this year, although he knew the hot wheels set was for him. I'd love to give you a detailed description of all the wonderful things the kids got, but they were boxed up that evening and shipped out, and still haven't arrived here. It will be like Christmas again when they arrive (hopefully tomorrow).

We had a lovely Christmas dinner with a terrific soup that Aunt Nile made (please send us the recipe) and other dishes all contributed by everyone in the family. It was delicious. We left as early as we could to get the kids in bed before the five hour drive to San Francisco. The kids were wiped out by all the excitement.

The next day, we headed out to San Francisco. The kids were amazingly well behaved and amused themselves with some of their new toys during the drive. We had no set plans for a rest stop, so I asked Jim if we could stop at Fry's Electronics. I'd been there once about 10 years ago and wanted to check it out again.

It was such a bad idea. Fry's was packed. Lily wanted some little stuffed animals on a sale rack and we ended up having to wait half an hour at the register while our holiday temporary cashier tried to figure out how much they were. By the time we got into the car, everyone was cranky. We decided to stop at the Aviation Museum just outside of San Francisco, eat a late lunch and look at the exhibits.

The nice restaurant next to the museum only served dinners, so we ended up at Burger King. Then we went next door to the museum. What a fun place! They had a lot of exhibits and the kids loved running around the hangar and climbing in the hands-on exhibits. Unfortunately, we didn't get there until a hour before closing, so we didn't have much time for the kids to play.

Ten minutes before we left, Jack ran toward a mock-up of a plane in the kid's play area and cracked his forehead on the metal carpet transition. Remember how he cut his head in Creston? Well, now he had a bandage on his temple from his earlier injury and a giant goose egg right between his eyes from his fall in the museum. We ended up calling Dr. Brewer (our Melrose pediatrician) and asking if it would be safe to take him on the plane. Based on our description of Jack's latest injury, Dr. Brewer told us not to worry. Actually, my real concern was that someone would arrest us for child abuse because it looked a lot like Jack had been beaten about the head by someone.

We were really dreading the red-eye flight, but I think it was a good plan. Lily stayed awake for about an hour watching the Cartoon channel and then fell asleep. Jack fell asleep about 10 minutes into the flight. They both slept until just before landing. Jim and I even managed to catch a few winks. We got home at about 6:30 and all went to bed for a few more hours.

Anyway, I hope to show you some pictures in my next post. There are some great shots -- Jim at In-n-Out Burgers, Lily dancing on the wharf in San Francisco and Jack staring in fascinated horror at the laughing automaton are just a few of them. Keep your fingers crossed that I can get them all posted on here in a manner that makes it easy for you to see them. I've been having some trouble with Blogger and photos recently. It wants to either make them extremely large or to cut them in half. It took me hours of epic battle to post the last pictures, and I ended up just uploading them into Blogger. That option has limits, so hopefully I will be able to do a little fooling with HTML codes and work it out this time. Stay tuned.