There is very little that better clears the cobwebs from your brain than a hard, make the sweat drop-off of you, work out before sunrise. And its very rare that I get motivated enough to do such a punishing thing.

Today I did. Today, I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes, located my sneakers and sped over to the gym. I climbed up on my bike just before the clock struck 5:30 am. And I survived the hardest spinning class I've ever taken. Each time the instructor barked out "Give that resistance one more full turn!" I wanted to slide off my seat and bonk my water bottle on his bald head. But I didn't. Instead I let my stress energize my legs. I let my tension muscle down the pedals.

Last night I made a very difficult decision. This morning, although in my heart I knew I had made the right choice, the pit of my stomach churned with indecision. I still had to tell the boss. (Something I *still* need to do.) I wavered. I started to waffle as I stopped rubbing sleep from my eyes long enough to adjust seat height. Then I started to Spin.

My Saturday instructor is very big on the whole "Mind/body" connection of Spinning. You're supposed to close your eyes and picture yourself on that road. Picture yourself climbing. Picture yourself gliding down the side of a large hill. Picture the wind in your hair. Yet when I close my eyes or focus on my feet pressing down on the pedals, I often find myself meditating and ruminating. Today was no different.

I didn't see a road beneath my wheel, I saw my career path. And what I saw, is that it didn't diverge from its current course today.

See yesterday I was offered a promotion. I'd retain my current task list, and I'd take on a whole lot more - including three direct reports, a set of SOPs to create and a system to measure performance. I would be responsible for the success or failure of a very vital organization. As I mulled it over in the office yesterday, it sounded great. It's something I know I can do. It's a step I know I *need* to make.

Then I got home and I started our bedtime routines. I sat in the recliner feeding Megan and I started to cry. The more I thought about the other change this new job would bring, the more I cried. Taking the promotion would mean more money, it'd mean more responsibility, it would mean better resume fodder - but it would also mean more days in the office. I'd have to give up my quasi-stay-at-home status for a 4 day work week. I'd sacrifice the very thing I had sacrificed my job for in the first place. And I wasn't ready to do that yet. My career needed this type of move, but it didn't need it now.

When we found out I was pregnant with Logan we mapped out a plan. Bruce being older and our income being what it is, we knew that at some point during our children's lives we'd both be working. We knew that I'd have to go full-time and start the corporate climb in earnest in enough time to be able to take over the role of "primary bread winner" before the kids left for college if necessary. But, we also knew that we wanted to be able to have me at home as much as I could be while they were young. So we made some hard choices and we arrived at our current arrangement.

I've been working two days a week (plus time at home as needed)as a contractor on hourly rates for three years. I've given up a complete sense of job security. I've give up my 401K. I've given up several things. And I don't miss them (well maybe I miss the 401K, too bad my IRA isn't seeing an influx of cash either.) Often I have the challenge of fitting in a full-time project load into 16 hours. I have the stress of meeting those challenges so that no one second guesses this agreement. People that hear of this set-up often chuckle and say "how do I get that deal!" They say it in the same way people marvel at the bliss stay-at-home-moms must have as they sit on their couches eating their bon-bons. They have no idea how hard it is sometimes to just survive until your head hits the pillow in exhaustion.

I closed my eyes tight on this work-out ride. I focused on the individual beads of sweat that trickled down my body. I focused on the working muscles. Then I left honesty flow back in. When honest with myself I knew I was doing the right thing. If it were solely a career decision, I'd have taken it almost on the spot. But I'm a mom. I have a family and so nothing is simply a career decision. This was a life decision.

I had comfort in knowing he'd understand. My boss is a lot of things, but he can also be human. We had talked at length yesterday and I knew I had a choice. This wasn't a "take this or be black balled forever." This was a "we know we're asking you to change more than just your to do list here. Here's the alternative if you say no." And the alternative, while not *as* attractive is more than doable. So I'm doing it.

The class came to an end as the very big, muscle-bound teacher led is in some very 'zen-like' stretching. I rushed to the car, sped back home and ran up the stairs so Bruce could leave the house to get to work in time. The children still slept. I took the time to shower and cool off. I stood in their doorways watching them. And I knew once more that this was right.

Logan has had his moments today. In weeks gone by it'd have been one of those high stress days where I wonder what people would think if they found me wandering the street babbling to myself in a crazed daze. But today is different. I've still had to take a moment to reprimand. I've lost my patience once or twice -having to repeat one's self will do that - yet I've felt calmer. I've felt more in control. I've felt more patient. And I know its because I stood at the brink of not having it like this.

I found clarity.


Stomp and stump

My son is now a little bike riding nut. He pedaled himself around the block today. He's still slow enough, thankfully, that I can walk behind him at a sometimes fairly brisk pace and other times a downright stroll. He gets stuck on uneven concrete. A little push sets him on his way again. As we made our way up one street, Logan stopped pedaling so he could look over his shoulder at me without falling over. "Remember when I got this bike?" he asked. I did, and I told him so. "When Santa gave it to me, I couldn't even pedal. Now I can. Now I'm using it properly." I managed not to laugh loudly at his statement.

He was quiet as he focused on pedaling again. Once he hit his stride he said, perhaps more to himself than me, "I bet Santa is proud of me."

I almost replied "I am, sweetheart, I am."

Then later I stopped laughing. Look, I have no useful aptitude for math. I was a good math student, actually, right up until they introduced multiplication tables. It went downhill from there. I knew, what with my rotten head for numbers if nothing else, that there would come a day when my children would ask me a question that I wouldn't be able to answer.

That said, I didn't expect to be stumped by a three year old.

We ate dinner outside tonight. Meg did her usual "one for me, one for the dog" meal routine. (Isn't self-feeding grand! Tasha thinks it is.) Logan did his normal "talk so much who has time to eat" And Bruce and I did our best to reply to Logan and keep Megan from eating the bits of food the dog failed to pull from her extended fist. In between whatever various things that popped into his head, Logan threw out the big stumper.

"What does symbiosis mean?" His brow furrowed in that way it does when he's deeply focused and endlessly curious.

I stopped chewing. It was a word I knew I should know. I had this fleeting blurred memory of my freshman year Biology teacher clip-clopping around the room in her circa 1960s shoes as she droned on about symbiotic something or other. Bruce started to do that funny little "ahh, well" dance I remember adults doing when they didn't know what to say. He reached for something. Some answer.

He started to head for the definition of osmosis. "No, that's not it, is it?" he asked me.

I grinned. "Nope." I decided not fluster them both by fleshing out the whole osmosis thing, which I was relieved to realize I could have answered had it been the question. At least I did remember something.

Bruce gave Logan that honest adult face - the one you get frustrated with sometimes when you're a kid. You don't want honest, you want answer. "I don't know," Bruce said, "We'll go in and look it up when we're done eating. Ok?"

"Logan?" I started, wondering if I wanted to know. "Where did you hear the word? Do you remember how it was used?"

He went back to his dinner plate, mushing around what he didn't feel like eating, "Stanley said it," he finally replied. Which confirmed that it was in biology class that I'd heard the word. Yes, of course, it must have to do with animals if he'd seen it on Stanley earlier in the day.

As Logan settled in for his bath I pulled out the book Megan had given him for his birthday - Stanley's Great Big Book of Everything. We found a definition for symbiants there. I read it to him. I found the page about the Oxpecker bird that lives on big mammals like elephants and eats the bugs off the mammals back. I explained how sometimes two very different creatures could live together and help each other. He stared at me.

Apparently I had just defined symbiant for him, but not symbiosis. He asked me again. I defined again. Then he grinned. His eyes twinkled. And he asked me yet again.

That little bugger.


Yeah, something like that...

Logan clearly has a rudimentary understanding of marriage: a man and a woman that love each other and live in the same house.

A few weeks a go he decided that when he grew up he'd be a Papa. Well a Papa needs a Grandma and he adores his. He informed my mother that my dad would need to move out and get his own new Grandma because grown-up Papa Logan would be marrying her.

Yesterday Logan handed me a small plastic heart on a satin string. The little bottle had been filled with colored sand during one art class this past Spring.

"Here, you have to wear this." he said with a most serious look on his face. I didn't ask why, just put it on with a barely noticable shrug. Still he felt the need to explain. "Its like the ring Daddy gave you because I'm going to marry you one day."

I thanked him and hugged him. "Oh Logan, I'm so glad you love me, but I'm confused. I thought you were marrying Grandma. How many wives are you going to have?"

He didn't even think about it. He just smiled and walked away to begin his next task as he said "Just two."

All right. So I know there are those of you mom's out there that despise little Elmo. The red furry preschooler has not met a pronoun he likes enough to use. I know. I know. But really, Logan was addicted to Elmo for quite some time and he never ever did that whole "self as 3rd person thing." He was using proper pronouns as soon as he was using simple sentences by 15 months old.

It remains to be seen what my latest Elmo addict will do. She hardly actually watches anything on TV but when she does, its most likely Sesame Street. She's in love with it. I can say that looking back at my accountings of Logan at one year, Megan's verbal skills are truly on tract to mirror his so I'm not concerned that Elmo is going to adversely impact her speech.

Last week, while at Target running errands, my fairly spoiled children were amusing themselves in the toy aisle. Megan latched on to a wide array of items - most of which were over the $5 limit I had set when I agreed to let them each pick out something. She finally settled on a small, four-sound option See-and-Say featuring Elmo. She hugged the hard plastic image of her hero monster. She kissed it. She chanted his name over and over "Elmah! Elmah! Elmah!"

Logan pushed the arrow button for her. The thing sings. Its Elmo La-la-la-laing his way through his theme song. The arrow points to four different sounds that complete the song. the "Elmo's World" part. We've got bubbles for the underwater part, cell phone for that electronic ring, trumpet for brass sections, and crayon for nails on chalkboard...er, squeaking.

She played with it the entire way home in the car. I put my ear piece in and made a phone call I had been putting off. I had sort of hoped my conversation would drown out the "wah, wah, wah..." repeated over and over. Megan had just figured out how to turn the arrow and liked the trumpet sounds apparently. Voicemail. I was leaving a message when Logan's laughter pulled me back into the middle of Elmo's World. Meg was singing it. She was really singing it. I mean the girl, my little 11 month old child, was actually "Da, da, da" singing IN TUNE the moment Elmo finished his la-la-la'ing. I thought maybe it was a fluke. But no. She's done it every time she gets that toy in her hand.

It makes me remember a dream Bruce once had. At the time I was pregnant with Logan but we didn't know it yet. He had dreamt that we were all, as in the whole extended family on either side plus a slew of other guests, sitting in our yard at a BBQ of sorts. There was a young school-aged girl with long, strawberry blonde hair that curled at the ends who seemed to be our daughter. She was singing. She sung well and she loved to do it.

A week later we found out about Logan. Daddy had been convinced he was a she until the ultrasound. Perhaps he was just dreaming a child too soon.


Kids have growth spurts. That's not news. Its barely even bloggable. But let's face it, sometimes you put a kid to bed and he wakes up all different. Or at least it feels that way.

I've been looking at lot of photos as we prepare for Megan's first birthday (not that we go overboard with circus tents and petting zoos or anything. If nothing else clowns make her cry at the moment.) I'm not doing anything with photos for her birthday other than moving them from the dusty pile near my computer to a more hidden pile in a storage bin next to the desk the computer sits on.

I've expected to see the change in Meg's pictures from then to now. Goodness she's evolved from a newborn bundle of wiggley need to a fleet-footed toddler. It was Logan's metamorphisis I wasn't prepared for. Sure, I knew he'd gotten bigger. I knew he'd aged a year. I just didn't expect his face to change that dramatically. He's gone from this rounded-out baby-faced toddler of two years old to this boy. He's a real kid now.

Sure, we tell him he's a "big" kid to humor him, but in a way, I suppose, he sort of is. He's got plenty of growing left in him, certainly and there are plenty a kid bigger, but in his own way he's left that baby-hood 'little' stuff in the box of memories tucked away in his closet.

Our second butterfly emerged from her cocoon Monday night. We took her into the yard, opened the cage door and watched her fly off. As she sought freedom Logan sighed farewell and said "I guess it's time for her to grow up." Wow, right. What he said.

Logan Then and Now:


Like home. . .

Memories from my earliest years are more like snapshots lined up on the pretty papered pages of a scrapbook tossed together years later. Next to each photo are scribbled notes trying their best to get the story straight despite a lapse in time. Its hard to discern what's a real memory and what is something cobbled together by photos and related stories.

There are a few things, however, that I know are real first hand recollection. I remember the big fire in the woods at the end of our block when I was nearly 4 years old. Although its not actually the fire I remember. Its the events that happened around the burning forest. I remember being with a neighbor. I was there only because my parents were at the hospital for my brother's birth - something I know because someone else has filled in the blanks. I remember the neighbor getting down on her knees to be eye-level with me. I remember her holding onto my shoulders as she asked, "Do you know if Daddy has any piles of newspapers at home? This is very important honey, I want you to think hard." I remember sitting with the older boys - the neighbor's sons - as we ate chocolate frosted donuts at the firehouse, waiting until it was safe to return home.

I remember the things that make family traditions, although sometimes that word is used rather loosely. I mean making a salad isn't, in and of itself, a tradition, right? But I do remember, very vividly, my mother lifting me up to sit on the counter top to help her prepare them. I remember my little hands tearing into the lettuce and dropping the sometimes still too big pieces into the bowl.

I remember going to church as a little girl. My parents were both very active - they still are today. Back then my mother was the superintendent of the Sunday School. Dad taught the High School class. I remember arriving early every Sunday morning and walking through the narrow passage that separated the old classroom building from the sanctuary. I remember walking down the side aisle to the back, grabbing several bulletins for the various teachers and then stopping mid-way up on my way back so I could say hi to the little old lady that sat there just so she could talk to me each week. I remember being Mary in the Christmas pageant. I remember sitting in a circle with all the bigger kids, all of us holding hands, as we sang our farewell.

When I went to college I was terribly home sick. I was only an hour and half away, but it was far enough that no one was just popping in for a visit. My roommate went home on every weekend - she lived about 20 minutes from the school. My best friend on campus also went home on the weekends to work. I was alone. I was lonely. I started walking every Sunday morning to the nearest Presbyterian Church. It was just over 2 miles each way.

At first it had little to do with my need to *go* to church. I had spent my High School years teaching the younger grades just to avoid sitting through sermons. I went because it created a connection for me. I knew that as I sat in that beautiful, grey stone building, my parents sat in our home church. I knew that as we sang the Doxology, my family was home singing it. Over time I got involved in that little church near school and it started feeling like home in its own way.

This morning, as I watched my children explore the santcuary after service, it occurred to me that this family tradition has been passed on already. You'd have to see them in action to understand what I mean, perhaps. They are fearless in that room - that big, expansive room with all the trappings of religious ceremony. Logan climbs up the handful of stairs to the pulpit where he stands on his toes and tells us to sit so he can teach us.

Megan wanders around the aisles and then around the chancel, delighting in the many colors of the stained glass windows. They each spend endless moments of wonder standing on the sill of every window in that sanctuary, carefully studying its every nuance.

At three years old, Logan has already helped me refill the trays that hold the communion cups. He's already worked feverishly with his friend to lay-out the hymnals before service starts because Noah's parents were ushering that day and Logan was bored of helping me lay the linen clothes over the bread plates again.

At just shy of a year, Megan has joined her brother and I at several toddler/preschool 'youth group' programs - really a playgroup run by the church for 1-5 year olds. At two months old she went to her first committee meeting with me. She attended those until she had reached an age where her patience for sitting still lasted less time than the committee members could drag out a decent meeting.

They know our pastors on sight. They go to them and talk comfortably. Feeling as if these are safe people. These are people that are part of their world.

I watched the two of them walk around the chancel this morning giggling. They were at ease. They found family in those walls. There were at home.


A Jumble

I'm blogging instead of sleeping because the last four jars of 'canned' tomato sauce are in their boiling water bath. Once they come out and I hear them pop, I can rest my head on the pillow and snooze. If you're keeping track, I canned 10 jars today. I only had 24 empty jars to fill. I have at least as many tomatoes waiting for me on the vines as I've picked. I'm thinking I may need more jars.

I had so many things on my mind last night as I struggled to fall asleep. Things I thought I might put down here as way of clearing my mind. Instead everything is too much a jumble in my brain to be of any coherent use.

I was going to write about how it seems we're more lax and yet, at the same time, more reluctant to 'let go' with Meg than we were with Logan. I wanted to write that it wasn't really an issue of her being "the" baby - as in the youngest not just in our immediate family, but in the extended family on both sides since it appears my brother will never marry or have children if his current commentary is to be believed. No, the 'babying' of Miss Megan, at least as it seems to me, is because she's subjected to the comparison of her brother.

Don't misunderstand. I don't mean to say that we're looking at Megan today and comparing her to Logan when he was her age. To be honest, I'm sometimes hard pressed to remember what he was like 2 years ago. It seems like such a distant memory suddenly. What I mean is we look at this infant on the verge of toddlerhood as she stands next to this young boy. Its a stark difference. Her inability to understand and control impulse is so much clearer to see. Her size and age induced physical limitations become more noticeable. Her lack of social skill and all those other things that the boy about to begin preschool is starting to show a clear grasp of stand out more when she's standing near him.

I'm wondering if I'm making any sense.

Its a funny thing, really. When we sit and watch those early movies of Logan, we see a little boy very much like his sister. It just wasn't as noticeable to us then.

I hear the last jar pop. The jars are good and done. The sauce is canned. I'm off to bed. Perhaps some time when I'm more lucid I'll embellish on this topic some more. Please do feel free to ignore the mindless ramblings of bleary eyed gal.


A day with Dora

- or at least a few minutes

Logan likes Dora the Explorer. Megan LOVES Dora.

I'm not sure either has actually seen much of the show, or in Meg's case, ever seen it at all. But they know her. Megan once tried to steal a Dora doll from the library and so now she owns a stuffed Dora doll that lives at Grandma and Papa's house. Not only that, but little Meg can pick Dora out on anything -- cups, chairs, clothes...it doesn't matter. The girl knows her "Doe-rah."

So when Grandma called to say they had just passed the Mall and the sign said Dora was in town, we knew we had to go. The Mom's group also started sending off emails that Dora was coming. And then we found more info on the Mall kid's club web site. Logan's been a member of this club. Now Megan is too.

The lines were VERY long. But Logan knew why we were there so there was no escaping the event without massive mid-mall meltdown. We waited. We played. We made friends on the long line. When we got closer to the Picture People for our chance to get close to Dora during a hasty photo-shoot, Megan amused herself with the plastic Pooh Bear sitting in the window. The bigger, taller kids were busy chanting about Dora. Megan though they were nuts and chanted "Bear" over and over.

When we finally got our turn, Logan decided he no longer wanted to be that close to the big tall lady in the bad wig that only bore some slight resemblance to the cartoon character of a 7-year old. Megan had locked her eyes on the camera and was debating whether it was worth her time to pose. The photographer urged Mom into the photo. Dora smiled. Logan squeezed Mom’s hand as he got inched closer to the Dora-ish lady. Megan snapped her head up in surprise as the photographer hooted, whistled and called out "Megan!"

And the result was this:

At least Dora and I were happy. ;) Meg looks like she's in some sort of police line-up for 11-month olds that steal sippy cups and Logan was just on the verge of yelling "GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE MOM!!"


NJ summer

As far back as I can remember my mother had a garden. Over my years at home a range of things grew in that garden - cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn, pumpkins, radish, carrots, and cucumbers. Some years she grew all of those things, sometimes just a few. But every single year, without fail, she grew tomatoes.

Sure, we had beefsteak tomatoes - big, juicy, deep red fruits that dripped with the amazing taste of summer.

But, we had an awful lot more plum tomatoes. I remember watching my mom drop each oval shaped, red gem into a pot of boiling water. She'd pluck it out the moment the skin started to split and drop it into a bowl of icy cold tap. Once the tomato was cool to the touch she'd peel away the skin, carve out the hard green spot the stem attached to and then drop a halved fruit into the food processor. It was the beginning of her homemade, from the garden, tomato sauce. She'd make batches and batches of the stuff. The house would smell of garlic and herbs. Then she'd carefully pour the steamy hot red sauce into Ball glass canning jars. She'd fix the lids and the screw caps on tight before placing the whole jar into a huge canning pot of boiling water.

I remember the sounds of those cooling jars popping. I remember those jars sitting in deliberate rows in the garage. I remember the taste of summer in February.

I've got my own house and my own family now. With it, I have my own garden. Last year was the first year I canned. It was the first year I had the garden. I was hugely pregnant. The idea of standing over vats of boiling water to seal tight my sauce for winter storage made me cringe. Mom helped. She taught me her secrets. She moved the bottles from pot to board to cool. We listened together for the pops.

I finished my last jar of sauce sometime in May.

It's August in Jersey now. That means the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. We've nurtured these plants - Logan and I - since the warming days of May. It's paying off today. We've been eating the final products of our cucumber vines the last few days with the first set of red beefstakes tomatoes. We've pouted that our yellow tomatoes are getting too much sun and starting to orange.

And today, we dropped a basket full of bright, juicy, red plum tomatoes into a pot of boiling water. I moved them quickly to the bowl of cold tap. Peeling them gently. Showing Logan how easily the skins gave. Letting him tug at some himself. We placed them gently in the food processor and he, being all boy and all preschooler, delighted in pressing the button to make the firm-ish fruit go splat. We pureed it. We poured it into big pots. We added our secondary ingredients and we cooked ourselves edible summer. My house is filled with the smells of sauce making. It hugs my nose in a way that only pleasant memories of childhood can.

Tomorrow we'll hit the store for the non-reusable lids we forgot to buy. We'll stock up on more small cans of tomato sauce and paste. We'll restock on the salt we used up today. We'll be ready because the over-laden tomato plants are nearly ready to be picked over again for red plums.

Its summer in New Jersey. Tomato time is here. I've got my memories of it, I hope my children are beginning to make theirs.


Something to work on

Overheard tonight at dinner:

Logan, on an almost dare from Mommy, took a big bite of the lone shrimp included on his plate of "Great Big Salad" (aka, my "damn it's hot out there! No way in hell am I cooking!" fall back dinner.)

"See," he said. "I like it."

"You know, shrimp come from the sea," said Daddy.

Logan laughed. He actually nearly snorted.

"Oh, daddy. That is *so* silly!" he chuckled. "Shrimp don't come from the sea. They come from the supermarket."


Friday was one of those days where I start to fantasize about owning a private island. In this daydream I also have my very own private jet to whisk me, and me only, to said island. When I get there I lie around on the white sand beach just close enough to the water's edge to let the ebb and flow tickle my toes. I sip on frozen drinks that come with fruit hanging off the sides of the glass. Someone else is making them, serving them and cleaning the dishes. I don't need to invite you to my island because you have your very own just a short wade through shallow water away.

Ahh, but where was I? Oh yes, Friday I was wondering where Wonder Woman parked my jet. Three wasn't so fun that day. Or at least my three year old. When the kids were tucked into bed, I took the opportunity that night to vent and then vent some more. My dear spouse appropriately nodding his head in sympathy and agreeing that I had had a rough time of it. The venting helped. It put life back into prospective. Instead I've made the effort to focus on the other days - not just Friday. On days like yesterday and the day before "hell" day. In those days I find gems that remind me how amazing and educational motherhood is:

1. I won't get into details because frankly I'd worry what sort of google searches would lead here if I did. Suffice it to say that mothering a boy has taught me that there are certain fascinations men really just can't help. It's innate. They are born amazed by their own bodies and they do manage to view themselves as even grander and larger than life. Yesterday my child uttered the phrase "Wow! Its even bigger than I am!" I'm sure you can figure out what he was referring to.

This Y-chromosome feature has repeatedly both enlightened me and amused me. I've also learned that men are born with selective hearing.

2. One day while playing outside, Logan asked me what the bees were doing. We had an impromptu 'biology' lesson as we talked about bees eating nectar, collecting pollen, making honey, etc. For yucks we added in the idea of hummingbirds and butterflies eating nectar.

Thursday we were outside playing during Megan's nap. Logan swatted his arm and yelped. Before I could ask him if he was ok he made me laugh.

"I had to squish away that mosquito. He was trying to eat my nectar."

3. Logan felt whiney the other day. He sat on the toilet feeling like he had to go but not going. Not only was he undoubtedly uncomfortable, he was also bored of sitting there. He whined something to me about "need chewy..." and then I lost him. Well sort of. I 'heard' him whine "I need a chewy vitamin." So I left him on the toilet. Headed to the kitchen and retrieved a "My First Flinstones" purple Dino. I had forgotten to give him one earlier and perhaps he was reminding me as he often does.

I handed it to him. He stared at it. He stared at me. He spoke in a normal voice, "What are you giving me this for?"

"You need it."

He put it in his mouth and bit down. "But why you give it to me now?" he asked.

I was frustrated. I mean hello! He JUST asked for the thing and now he's arguing about taking it. "Logan, you just said he needed a chewy vitamin."

He laughed. He actually bent over laughing. "No! Silly Mommy!" he said. I was not feeling silly or amused. "I said I need chewy raisins. Member? I need chewy raisins to help me poop. You can't hear me when I whine."

Well at least he listens sometimes.


Wry Update, or why as the case maybe

I had forgotten that I whined about our visit to the specialist this morning until I got Mandy's comment. Oops.

It was what I expected. Perhaps I should back up for those new to the party. At Meg's two month well-visit she was diagnosed with Muscular Tortcollis (which I apparently misspelled way back when as Torcollis. I should just stick to wry neck and be safe. ha!) Basically it just meant that the muscles on the left side of her neck were tighter and shorter than those on her right. It caused her to tip her head to the left like this:

Not only did she tip left, if she wanted to look to the right, she did so with her left ear down to a shoulder. If she wanted to look right, she tended to have to turn more of her upper body.

The first visit with the specialist (pediatric orthopedics) was scary. He uttered the "s" word, as in "If this does not correct itself through harmless stretching she may need surgery to remove scar tissue." Yes, I was a bit unnerved.

Each visit since, however, makes me wonder why I bother going back. She showed improvement each month with the stretching we did - mild stretching. I'm talking about kissing her chin on the right side with enough pressure to make her look to the left by turning her head. The idea has been to stretch the muscle by making her tip her right ear down to her right shoulder. We also had to make minor modifications to the way she ate and slept. All of it had her holding her head higher and straighter.

The visit prior to this one was three months ago. I saw no evidence of tippy head, yet the doctor did. At least she thought he saw enough to have her go through an Xray. Ever try to hold an eight month old perfectly still? Let's just say it was the first visit Logan had accompanied us on and he cried thinking his sister was in pain.

The xray showed nothing skeletal was contributing to her condition so we were back to neck stretches. The doctor looked sternly at Megan and nodded his head saying he could see that she had to turn her upper body when she wanted to look left and not just her head. That was about the point when I thought about asking him if he just liked me for my co-pay. Trust me on this one - 8-month old Megan was not turning her upper body to look left. I know this because after he said it, I watched her like a hawk to find out what I had been missing. Mommy missed nothing.

Anyway, we went back up today - the three of us. We played for roughly 10 minutes in the lobby and another 4 or 5 in the exam room. Then the doctor arrived, med student in tow. This merely meant that we had one older man showing off his medical prowness and a younger goofy man nodding as if he knew what the old guy was saying.

But, I have little reason to complain other than having to drive up there with both kids for a 5 minute visit that told me what I knew -- she's fine. Actually what he said was, "Keep what you're doing. She's got a slight favor to the left but she's much, much, much better. Come back in three months." And then he said something about how she could relapse if we stopped stretching her at this point.

I nodded and made my appointment for November, although I guess we'll wait and see if its worth keeping. He again instructed me to do everything he had been instructing me to do for 9 months. And I nodded as if I followed his advice word for word since she stopped tipping.

1. Feed her with her chair turned away from you and the spoon coming down from above her so that she has to turn and look up and to the left to eat. -- Ok, folks, Meg thinks anything that requires a spoon is good for one thing and one thing only - spitting out all over me. If she can't pick it up herself and "chew" it (the girl STILL only has two teeth!) she won't eat it. Its a good thing she can gum up small bits of just about anything!

2. Gently force her head to turn to up and to the left. - Ok, so I do that with the kiss thingy.

3. Sit to her left and talk to her so she has to turn and look. - Ahh, we do this sometimes. Other times I'm lucky I'm still speaking in complete sentences and not babbling incoherently. Three is fun. Three is fun. three is fun. Remember that. When Logan turns four do I really need a new chant?

4. Make sure she sleeps so that her neck is stretching the proper direction. -- Ok, buddy, look. We bit the bullet and got her out of her car seat 9 months ago. Fine. Done. But buddy, I like my sleep. I am not messing with a sleeping child. If she's asleep, she's staying that way. I'll just kiss her chin some more in the morning. Honestly, we put Megan down the right way. She just tends to migrate all over the place during the night. She's even known to sleep on her side, on her back, and on her stomach with her face buried into her hands straight down.

I don't worry to much about it though. Here's what she looks like today at a day shy of 11 months:

Thinking. . .

- In 30 minutes the three of us will pile into the "mommy van" and head up to Meg's specialist yet again. It makes me cranky having to go. I head up expecting another annoying brief visit in which the idiot doctor displays why med schools REALLY need to offer at least 3 more classes on bedside manner.

- Of the two parsley-eating caterpillars, one is now hanging upside locked up in a cocoon. The other is getting fat and happy on his daily ration of my flat-leaf herb. He'll be suspended for metamorphosis soon enough.

- My neighbors are nosy.

- The boy is re-devoted to being "big" which now includes solo-trips to the bathroom. Yipee!

- The girl wants to do whatever the boy wants to do. Which means if she sees him trick Grandma into holding a cup out for him, she wants Grandma to hold a cup out for her.

- Masons take a long time to build stairs during a heatwave.

- Should I worry that everyone that works the photo-lab at the drug store knows us by name?



I'm a lazy cooker. When it comes to preparing meals, I much prefer sticking with the ones I know by heart. Truly, I even prefer the ones that don't need 'real' measuring of ingredients. Let's be honest, there are certain measuring spoons I can't even find anymore.

Don't mistake this for a complete dislike of cooking/baking or an inability to do so. I do enjoy working in the kitchen and I'm not half-bad if I do say so myself. I'm just lazy.

Every now and then, however, I get bored with my stand-bys. To spice things up I do one of two things.

a) Go wild and experiment. This sometimes leads to disastrous creations like the time I tried to 'wing' pesto. Other times it turns out pretty darn good, like the recent herb encrusted chicken I designed. Only problem becomes I don't write down what it was I did so the chance or recreating it is nil to none.

b) Break down and locate a recipe. I have my sources and on occasion I bother to use them. Tonight was one of those nights. I broke into my 'trial offer' Cooking Light magazine and I found beauty in the form of shrimp. Trust me, heaven. Shrimp Pie - havarti cheese (my favorite), egg, dill and shrimp. Yeah a few other things including crust from scratch. Not only did it taste great, it looked great.

Come to think of it, on Sunday I made another recipe from that issue - Grilled Chicken with Grape Glaze. That was particularly good too. So good, in fact, that even Logan ate it without complaint.

Perhaps I need to start flipping through recipes more often. Or at least memorize these two recent experiments!!



I once owned a car that offered some fancy security option that involved window etching and databases. We didn't pay for the database, yet our windows had been etched before we even considered a test drive. Basically, I had a car with numbers frosted on it its windows, but if anyone ever stole the glass, not a single "official" person would have record of what those numbers were.

Infertility is sort of like that once you leave the trenches with a baby in hand.

Almost a month ago, Dawn wrote a post about "the other side." She wrote with simple raw truth about the mere uneasiness of being pregnant when you're still looking through the eyes of someone who "can't" be so. When she wrote it, I commented and mused that perhaps some day I'd write about the topic in more detail here. The time has come.

When you are pregnant you reach that point where your uterus begins to define you. Everything you do is tinted with something baby. I'm going to get this trip in, before the baby arrives, for example. Or, in my pre-pregnancy days I'd have downed that latte like it was water.

Your life is lived first by trimester, then months, then weeks...then days. At that point it becomes clear that every encounter with another human being is just seconds away from ticking you off because that person is bound to utter *those* words: Wow! You haven't had that baby yet!

What most people don't realize, because most people haven't been in the trenches, is that when you're infertile, your uterus defines you.

Each chance encounter is at risk of pissing you off because unless they 'know' your pain, they may innocently refer to that time "when you have kids." They do so without knowing that just the day before your beta came back negative. Your life is lived by the breakdown of a drug defined cycle. Your schedule becomes predicated on what the ultrasound indicates your ovaries have been up to. "Sorry, we just can't commit to that dinner date. We may need to trigger that night."

Who you are comes second to the war you're waging on your rebelling reproductive system. You meet a new person who introduces herself as "Sally, a lawyer, mother of two, wife of Stan." And you resist the urge to say "Hi, I'm unexplained with gross failure to produce offspring, married to depressed and thankfully I still have a job even though my repeated dates with the ultrasound wand have increased my 'late' start work-days to something *I* might consider firing me over."

No matter how hard you try to be normal. No matter how hard you try to live a regular life and just be someone that happens to be trying to conceive with her husband and Dr. Brown - but not in *that* way that makes neighbors cluck their tongues about 'open marriages' - you fail. You're not living a normal life. You're infertile.

But then suddenly you're not. At least not in the sense that you're unable to produce offspring. Suddenly your puking your guts out for a good cause. Suddenly you don't mind that your jeans are getting tight because the rounding of your abdomen means that long awaited, hard-fought for child is on his/her way.

Your body manages to switch gears on you faster than your emotions can. Faster than your identity can.

In the truest sense of the word, I am not infertile any longer. I not only had children, I had them without medical intervention. We *did* do it the 'old fashioned' way. Yet for 4 years we struggled. For four years I was either charting or pill popping, or fertility drug injecting and living for the news the ultrasound wand would bring. For four years I was crying each month. That's not something that goes away - all the way away - because I've got a full-house now.

Its like those numbers on my car window. No one is keeping track. I'm not playing the game. But I've still got the scars.

Scar is a good way to describe it. A nasty gash on the emotional skin that ran deep to your core. You're left with lasting proof that it happened. In the early days, the scar is red and raw - its nasty looking to the point that people want to avert their gaze. Over time, however it fades. It becomes lighter shades of pink. It may even flatten a bit.

When I was 11 I got on this muffin making kick. I'd get up every Sunday morning and I'd bake muffins for the family breakfast. One morning I grabbed an old pot-holder, not my usual one. I reached in the oven and grasped hold of the pan. I found out too late that the potholder had worn thin. In pain I dropped the pan and pulled my hand away. As I did so, the pan landed on the top of my hand at the base of my thumb. I had a nasty, ugly, discolored blistery mark on that spot for weeks.

As the years passed the rough-edged circular scar on my right hand began to fade. It got lighter in color. It got harder to see. Today, 21 years later, most people wouldn't even know it existed. Unless I had spent the day out in the sun. That spot on my hand tends to get rather dark pink when exposed to the sun for long periods of time. The color fades back into hiding by the next day.

When I'm sick and pale, you can see the pink circle more clearly. As the the color seeps back into my skin, the evidence of my scar disappears again. Still, its there. Whether or not you can always see it, its there. And similarly, so is the scar left by infertility.

The difference now, however, is that my past struggles with infertility no longer define me. My reflex isn't to introduce myself as "I'm Sandy, recovering infertile, mother to two..." I'm just me. Mom to two beautiful souls, wife, daughter, sister, gardener, lazy-quilter, friend, marketing guru who happened to once be an IVF patient and who knows darn well that trigger shots in the rear-end hurt like hell and that Clomid can cause the most horrendous migranes known to women.

I don't flinch over news of someone else's pregnancy. Any pang such news brings to me is typically the sort of sympathetic stab I feel for a friend currently out on the battleground. See that's what the scar does for me. I can feel the pain today's infertile warriors feel because I felt it. The scar's flare-up isn't often for me, but for her - all of them and their partners.

When you're first catapulted to the 'other side' it feels like its a place you'll never feel quite at home. But you will. When your child nuzzles her infant head in your neck and coos softly as you rock together in gentle rhythm you'll not immediately head for that place where you dwell on how close you came to not having her.

You don't forget your past, but you don't wallow in it either. You can't. You're too busy with your present. You're too busy wondering about that baby's future. Your scars fade. They don't disappear, but they don't define you. The other side is nice, you just need to give yourself the time to get acclimated to the water.


Begin Again

The hose was slowly dropping cold water down my arm. I was aiming for the base of my tomato plants. They're so laden down with gorgeous heavy tomatoes that their long branches are drooping to the ground making it hard to water them well. I moved from the row nearest the wildfire we call watermelon and pumpkin vines to the row of two tomato plants separated by a single parsley plant.

"Logan! Get the bug cage!" I called out. Of course the command was first met with the obvious 3 year-old question: "Why?"

By the time he appeared with the cage I was ungracefully diving over the garden fence and hefty tomato plants while trying hard not to drop the spring of parsley in my grasp. On it crawled a relatively small stripped caterpillar similar to the former inhabitant of our bug cage. This new friend is not as plump or quite a long as our old one, but its clearly the same species. He's lighter in color but as we've researched that's often due to the amount of sun exposure the host plant has. Of course its hard to think that parsley plant gets a whole lot of sun with those monster tomato plants surrounding it on four sides! Ah, but I digress.

I put the new Black Swallowtail caterpillar in the little bug hotel with his dinner of flat leaf parsley. I asked Logan what we should name him, reminding him it wasn't Newchur so we needed a new name.

He smiled that devilish little smile he has. "Nooch!" he declared. I have no idea where he gets these names from. God help my future grandchildren!

Logan settled in the house to play trains while I walked around to survey the availability of the rougue parsley we had found our original caterpillar on. The first plant was stripped bear. Not a single leaf left.

"Uh oh" I thought. That wasn't a good sign. That meant there was another parsley-eating caterpillar afoot. I highly doubt little Nooch had wiggled his way from the side of our house to the back of our yard - albeit not a large yard, still a great feat for a small caterpillar. I looked down at the second parsley plant in the otherwise vacant bed. (Vacant that is, unless you count the weeds.) I almost missed him. The other caterpillar.

So now there are two little parsley ingesting future butterflies taking up residence in my living room in the bug box. The second one is much longer and wider than the first. I'd expect it to go to cocoon sooner. Logan's named that one "Newchee." I first thought he said "New-cheese" but no, just Newchee.

It is important to note that there is at least one particular Black Swallowtail butterfly that frequents our yard. In fact, as I returned to watering my garden, this butterfly kept settling upon the my cucumber plants. It bears the familiar blue patches on the lower end of her wings. I like to think its the original Newchur back to visit her home.



How to visually see the difference between Logan and Megan. When Logan first began walking we bought every imaginable baby proofing item you can think of, including two baby gates. One of them has been back up for well over a month.

Now that Megan is constantly exploring her world on two feet (which means she gets into EVERYTHING more than when she just scooted and crawled) we've taken the never before used 2nd gate out of the box, assembled it and installed it.

This truly isn't an issue of "with one child I could him like a hawk." This is "even the hawk couldn't keep an eye on Megan."

How to keep a 3 year old boy happy and in his own personal heaven? Pay a mason a lot of money to tear down your crumbling front steps and install brand new ones. They arrived today to start work on the 12 steps plus mini-porch area and a small retaining wall.

They arrived about a half hour ago to start work. They brought with them a dump truck towing a skid steer. Logan has not left our glass front door since. He's even in love with their jack hammer. He keeps telling his sister "Look Megan! Look! Its a skid steer! Isn't that neat! They brought a skid steer my very own driveway."

Wonder if they'd let him sit in it for a photo op. ;)
Just over heard in my house:

One of Logan's favorite shows lately is Calliou on PBS Kids. Logan stood in the doorway that seperates the hall area by our front door and the living room swaying side-to-side so he'd lean closer to the door or the room with the TV. As he did so he was saying:

"Calliou or the men. Calliou or the men. Calliou or the men. Which do I watch!"

For the record, he's still firmly ensconsed at our front door. They are now operating the aforementioned skid steer to load the bricks they're removing into the dump truck. I don't think his day can get much better than this.


Work in progress

I've gotten bored of the same old templates so I got brave. The 'outside' is all jazzed up but that the comments page is still not catching up with the fun. Still same old template when you head into comment world i'm out of time to tinker. Any ideas on how to fix it?

Edited: Never mind, fixed it. Real post to come later...maybe. We have a child without ears today. UGH! Three is fun. Three is fun. Three is fun. If I keep saying it, it will be true. Right?