Why I'll have grey hair by 33

This morning, as we slowly pulled ourselves together, it occured to me that I could not avoid the inevitable. Logan was actually going to need more new pants. I pulled out the final pair that would fit him and didn't currently reside in the hamper - olive green sweat pants that were actually a tad short on him. Drat. My memory of what he had left this spring had failed me. He was about 2 pairs of pants short to get him through a normal span between laundry runs.

I rounded up the troops. "Kids, we've got to do a little shopping." I figured we'd head over to our favorite stand-by: Target.

"I want to go to the other big Target," Logan said.

"Logan, there is only one Target around here," I replied, trying to figure out if I had taken him to another one at some point in his short life.

"No, there are two. I want to go to the one by Pizza Hut."

"Ah. I see," I say grinning. "Honey, that's not Target. That's K-mart." Then I ask him how he knows he wants to go there. I say how I'm not sure he's ever even been there before.

"Yes, I have," he says confidently. "That's where we got the cups for the toothbrushes. Remember? I lost the ball I got at Pizza Hut when we were shopping there."

I'm sure my mouth hung open for a moment. Holy crap, he was right. We had gotten the bathroom odds-and-ends there. . .A YEAR AGO when we re-did the bathrooms. And, he did lose a ball that day.

Remind me to watch what I say in front of him lest he decide to recall it during circle time sometime in April.

The little one is not without the ability to grey my head. She is barely over the 12-month mark. She's been walking since 9 months old. She's been attempting to climb shortly there after. On Friday, she began to succeed.

I put her down on the ground in our back yard to help Logan locate his baseball. Normally this is a non-issue. Megan will wander behind or she'll find herself something to play with. But Friday was to be different. I heard her giggle. I turned around to see what it was amusing her and I nearly spit my heart out.

Megan Rose was half-way up the big slide of the new swing set.

Not even the ladder (rope ladder actually). Nope, the actual slide.

She did it again today. She's hellbent on making her way up there. She'll decide she needs a hand after repeated attempts to escape up the stand at the bottom of the slide (ON IT!) waiting for you to hold her arm so she can walk herself to the top. She giggles as she goes. Turns herself gracefully at the top, sits and then holds her hand so she can slide down -- only to hop to her feet, get up again on the bottom of the slide and repeat her newest trick. This time I took a picture or two.

She can also get part way up the rock wall of the swing set. Gone are the days poor Logan could have attention and focus in the yard with only one adult home. Give Meg a little bit of slack and she's embracing her inner mountain-goat. Now the only way we can do more than spot Megan's exploits is to get both kids on their respective swings at once, convice Megan that her littel red Coupe is worth riding around in or tricking her into trying to climb the infant slide on the old set -- something she actually can't do right now. Too steep.


Smarty pants

Overheard in our car on the way home from preschool:

"Why did the avalanche want to run over people?" asked Logan, obviously remembering one of his Rescue Hero videos.

"Well, the avalance isn't alive, honey. It didn't know it was running people over. It doens't have a brain, or a heart, or lungs. It's just part of nature." I said.

"No it's not," said my eternal debater.

"Yes. It is," I said. "It's a whole bunch of snow that falls down the side of the mountain really fast. And snow is just frozen rain."

"No Mom!" quipped Logan, rather self-assured. "That's ice. Frozen rain is ice. Geez, you're silly."


Worth a gander

If you've not yet seen the blog Operation Eden, check it out. Professional photographer Clayton James Cubitt digs beneath the 'newsworthy' shots of the Katrina aftermath and produces humanity on film.


First, I have to confess that the plural form of "apprentice" just trips my tongue up. I feel the urge to drop a few letters and use "apprenti." However, I have no real authority to go screwing around with the English language. The plural form, therefore, remains as is.

I turned my nose up at the first season of Trump's Apprentice. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps I had my fill of reality TV at that point. Perhaps I was just full of the business world. Or perhaps I couldn't imagine staring at that bad hair throughout an hour each week.

The second season, however, I broke down and climbed up on the bandwagon. I was quickly addicted. In truth, I think the appeal for me is that I feel some sort of familiarity with the show content. Not that my work week includes putting together large scale, important projects on ridiculously short timelines and budgets for a Type-A, driven, high-maintenance wealthy man....or wait...that actually does describe my job. You think I jest?

I watch the show and I see people I work with in the 'applicants.' Bruce and I sit before our TV and we trade notes on who is like who. "Oh, that one! She reminds me of that chick in accounting." "You think he's bad, you ought to see the guy I work with in sales!" "Speaking of sales, that guy looks like one of our reps!"

Ever since Trump selected his last apprentice, my Thursday nights were blah. I wanted the bad hair and the cheesey tagline back. Then they handed me Martha on Wednesdays as an appetizer. I was apprehensive. Perhaps having two shows would water it down. Over kill maybe.

But two weeks in, and I'm having fun. It's similar and yet different. Its familiar - the pace of the show. The basic premise. The format. Yet it's a new creature. And it leaves me giggling.

- There is one contestant that seems to think dropping the phrase "It's a good thing" through each task will brainwash Martha into thinking she's found the second coming.

- Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Ms. Stuart get community service as part of her sentence. Tonight's winning team got to help a community center in NYC build a beautiful garden. One girl was raving about how fulfilling it was and commented on how Martha did a lot of community service herself. I'm sure she did/does on her own accord, but all I could think at the moment was "Well sure, it's court ordered."

- I'm sort of wondering who thought it was a good idea to define teams of "creative" and "business" when the business folk include people that work in creative atmospheres. The creative team operates in total chaos. If there's one of them left standing at the end, I'll have to nibble on Megan's "So Big" Crayolas.

- When they did decide to seperate themselves as such, I began to wonder which group I'd have identified myself as. Still pondering. . .


Yes, I'm aware it's still September

Some say I'm a bit pathetic. Others say I'm practical. Either way, the truth is simple. I have started my Christmas shopping.

Really it is my mother's fault. For as long as I can remember, my mother was never one to partake in the panic and rush of the season. Presents were bought and wrapped by Black Friday. Christmas cards signed, addressed and ready to be sent by December 1st. Not always sent on December 1st, but ready.

Her approach makes sense to me and so I've modeled my own adult habits on it. I always have some shopping to do in December. A few last minute gifts that suddenly seem "must have" status and whatever items we decide to pick up for the various giving trees at our offices and church. The bulk of my list, however, is checked off and done before we sit down for turkey in November. I find it easier to relax and enjoy the season when I'm not crazed trying to run through and prepare for it.

I haven't, however, actually started *this* early before. Typically I'm shopping around the time the kids are trick-or-treating. However, I'm a girl that can't pass up a good sale. The giraffe is having a some good sales in honor of his birthday. So Shop I must. And shop I did.

Let's just say Santa is nearly done with his list and now Mom has to pick up a few items to round out the tree. Its going to be a good relaxing December for me.





A day with them

We've got this hand-me-down book of unknown orign that we just discovered and read for the first time last night. Its about a monkey and his sister trying to earn money to buy a t-shirt and hat. The sister monkey says "If you had five peas and I took away three and gave you back two, how many peas would you have?"

And Logan, without missing a beat, pushed his extended fingers in my face and said "Four."

With Logan splashing happily in his tub as Dad kept an eye on him, I took to getting Megan ready for bed. She's really developed a thing for books lately. She has a few she prefers. She'll search them out, then toddle over to the nearest grown-up. She holds the book out to you with both arms outstreched as she says "Buh. Up." (Or "Read me this book. Pick me up.")

"Meg, do you want to read a book?" I asked her. She giggled. She clapped and she ran, yes ran, to a set of books she had been dragging around earlier. She rifled through. She frowned. She toddled to another set of tossed aside reading materials. She pilfered. She clapped. She came back and handed me the American Doll catalog that had arrived in the mail the other day. She climbed onto my lap, turned herself around and clapped again.

"Doll buh!" she said over and over until I gave in and began flipping through the pages with her.

We took the kids and the grandparents apple and pumpkin picking today. It was Megan's second time, technically speaking, but since she spent most of her first one asleep in the front carrier I'm not sure we can truly count last year's. Logan, however, keenly remembers apple picking. The moment he saw the outer reaches of the orchard he began to clap and cheer. He located the carts quickly and he plowed ahead to the nearest tree.

Meg was just delighted to have a place where she could walk and walk and walk and walk. She made her way up and down the rows of trees with an adult close enough behind to redirect if need be, but far enough back to give her the illusion of freedom.

It was a rather interesting trip. As much as Megan loves a doll to cuddle, she loves a ball to throw. Lately we've taken to saying that Miss Meg is a real honest-to-goodness girlie-girl who is in touch with her inner-tomboy. She's not met a ball she can't throw, a bat she can't figure out how to swing, an object she won't attempt to climb, a doll she doesn't want to hug and mother, or an item (even a plastic cup) she can't walk in her toy stroller.

As you might imagine, an apple orchard and a pumpkin patch can be amazing places full of colorful "balls" to a wide-eyed one-year old. Megan especially liked the apple balls. She carried one around for a while before doing what she does with most items - pulling it to her mouth. For a girl still stuck with just two teeth she did fairly well with that apple. She got pieces of it off and she smiled wide as she mashed it down to a pulp. Meg likes Winesaps.

She found the pumpkin patch to be irrestible. So many big orange balls to pick! Logan quickly located one. Then another. And another. We had to put our foot down with four pumpkins - one large, three small. He sighed, resigned to forgo yet another pick. He happily darted back to the check-out booths where he took great care to trip over his own two feet and land full-out in a very dry, very dusty, very dirty making dirt. He stood - covered head to do in red clay-ish soil.

"Don't worry. I'm ok," he said. His smile seemed to magnify the complete layer of dirt that now coated his legs and his torso, not to mention his arms and face covered with a noticable layer of dust. "I'm just a little dirty."


Our "exciting" day

Last night Logan hopped down off his chair declaring he was done with dinner. He ran off down the hall to retrieve something or other he wanted to show Daddy and as he did so he said "ow." We asked if he was ok. He brushed us off annoyed at being questioned. He turned to trot back off down the hall to retrieve yet another thing. And that's when I noticed he was limping. Logan wanted to go out back and play baseball with Daddy. He wasn't happy to be told he couldn't go because his leg was hurting. He insisted it wasn't. And he tried to show us how much it wasn't by running. He fell to his left side.

He said it was his knee. And then it was in his calf. And then his foot. He told us the pain was shooting down his leg from top to bottom but only if he ran so if he walked to play ball it'd be ok. Instead we looked closely at his leg. No noticeable swelling. No bruising. We gave him some Tylenol. We gave him a warm bath. We put him to bed after stories.

He woke up Saturday morning and immediately announced that his leg hurt. He grabbed his left hip. He got out of bed to walk and started to crumble to his side when he tried to put weight on the leg. We carried him down the hall. We called the Pediatrician's answering service. They paged the doctor on call. Logan slid off the chair we had left him in and tried walking again. He did, but with a limp. The Ped called back. She asked us to bring him into the office for an eval. She thought we'd wait too long at the ER and that we could get the x-rays done at another place this morning. Meg went to Grandma and Papa's and we went to the doctor's office.

To calm Logan I told him how the doctor's we'd see were like Matt Medic - the Rescue Hero who is, surprise, surprise, a doctor. He told me he needed to get Matt Medic now to be brave. I told him we could talk about it. He said "Hey, I have an idea, let's talk about it now!" We didn't.

The doctor arrived and began poking at Logan's leg and watching his face for clues of pain. He told her where it hurt. He told her when it started hurting last night. He then showed her his mosquito bite on his right ankle and told her his leg hurt there also. I don't think she was nearly as amused by that as I was. She wrote an order for an x-ray. She talked about going to see the Orthopedic Specialist next week. (The one that we see for Megan's neck who I find to be arrogant and irritating.) She told us to first try the x-ray place in town for an appointment today and if that didn't work - head to the ER.

We ended up at the ER. Now, to those that don't know, the hospital in our area has undergone a huge renovation. What used to be the ER entrance is now Out-Patient. The emergency department has new digs. We, however, parked in the wrong spot and headed to the old spot because we came into the complex at an entrance not conducive to getting to the right spot. (Got that?) We asked the security guards what the best way to get down to the emergency dept was. They sent Bruce back to the parking garage to move his car to the "free" ER lot and then one of them escorted Logan and me to the right place through twists and turns in the building. The guard looked at me carrying Logan and told us to wait. He got Logan a wheel chair to ride in. Logan loved that part. He also got a pack of crayons and a new coloring book all about the hospital. As we traveled down a floor to the right area of the building, Logan chirped "Wow! I've never ridden on a wheel chair in an elevator before! This is fun!" The security guards were amused by him. Logan then told us all that he didn't want an X-ray because it would hurt. The very nice older guard leaned down to talk to him. He showed Logan his badge and told him that the hospital took his picture and put it on the badge and it didn't hurt one bit. He said that the X-ray would be just like that picture - wouldn't hurt. AND then he said that if anyone did hurt Logan, he was to come find this guard and let him know who did it, because they'd have to answer to the guard. Logan liked him a lot.

They checked us in quickly and moved us right back to the Pediatric section of the department. Logan got to sit up on a bed shaped like a fire truck. He liked that part too. He was restless, understandably. The doctor arrived quickly to evaluate Logan's leg. Logan calmed when he realized he could lay back and watch Sports Center during the exam. I kid you not. The doctor agreed to x-rays but said he didn't expect to find anything wrong on them. Another nurse arrived to ask more questions. She showed Logan a chart with different faces on them and asked him to point to the one that most looked like how he felt when his leg hurt. He pointed to the crying face - 10 on a scale of 1-10 in regards to pain. I asked him if it really hurt so much he wanted to cry. I told him it was ok if it did, but that the nurse wanted to know how bad he hurt. Logan looked at the faces again and pointed to the smiling face. "I'm a happy boy!" he said. I told the nurse Logan was more like a 4 or 5 on the scale. She grinned. She then gave him little hospital slipper socks. He loves them too. We got to keep them. He thinks it's the neatest thing. In fact, as he rode, once again perched in the wheel chair, from the exam room to the x-ray lab in his nifty new skidded teal socks and his hospital gown, he showed everyone we passed those socks.

He was terrified of the x-ray. I stood behind him rubbing his head and hugging him. We told him it was ok to be scared. The tech told him it was ok to be scared but she promised not to hurt him. I told him it was ok to cry, but he said no, he just wanted to hug. He made it through three pictures and then one more to replace the fuzzy knee image from where he had moved a bit too much. He was so happy to be off that table and back in his nifty wheel chair for another ride. He got to stand in the doorway of his exam room with Dad and see the pictures of his bones as the doctor viewed them on the LCD monitor in the hall. He thought that was pretty neat too. He sat back on his fire truck bed and started in on the "can we go yet?" mantra. I told him we were almost done and if he was just patient a little bit longer we could stop at Toys R Us for Matt Medic. I figured he'd earned it with all that he'd endured thus far.

The doctor came in and told us the x-rays were clean. No breaks. No bone damage. Nothing structural in that regard. "It's just a sprain and some bruising." We're to give him Motrin or Advil (there goes mom out to the supermarket to find the chewable variety!) and encourage him to rest it as much as we can but to follow his lead because kids, hey, they bounce back quickly. He'll know, the doctor said, when it's hurting and he can't use it.

When the third nurse of the morning came into to discharge us, Logan asked her to take off his "annoying" hosptial bracelets. She told him she didn't have scissors, then whispered to us that they got mad if the nurses took the bracelets off people. Logan showed her his arm and said "See, it says L-O-G-A-N, Logan. That's me, but I don't like these bracelets they annoy me. Please take them off."

She looked at his chart and said "Is this chart right? He's 38 months?" I confirmed it. She stared at him and then said he was impressive. He fiddled with his wrist bands ignoring her. She offered him an ice pop. He said "No thank you. I'm ok." She commented on how poliet.

Logan got his new Rescue Hero. It came with a video. He sat in the recliner - feet up - and watched it. He sat through lunch. He played with Meg and me without running. He played computer games. He conned us into taking him outside onto his swing. He snuck in some baseball but with the caveat that he'd hit and we'd run for him. He walks tonight with only a slight drag on the left. Something I'm not sure we'd notice if we hadn't spent the morning getting it checked out. Logan says he had an "interesting adventure" today but he doesn't want any more x-rays.

Let's hope he keeps to that!



A few snapshots of a big day for one little boy:


Snippets - trust a pro, preschool crush and baby talk

Two weeks ago my mom called me after one of her church meetings. "They need someone to do PR," she said. "You ought to call." And since this is this sort of work is what I do and because I enjoy it (and because I always enjoy resume fodder), I called.

I met with Pastor T who is over-seeing our building program. We talked about how to get coverage for the church and the nursery school with the opening of the newly renovated section of the school wing. How we could incorporate information about the addition that ought to be completed next month and the pending 'alumni' reunion in planning stages.

"We don't expect coverage, actually," she had said to me. "We've tried this in the past. Actually we've tried it quite often. We never get anything."

I placed two phone calls, followed by two emails. One to the main two-county daily and the other to the rinky-dink single county rag. I spoke to the editor of the big paper who urged me to send a note with the release to a different editor in the local bureau.

The big paper is coming out on Thursday morning with a reporter and a photographer. The school has asked if its ok if they bring the photographer to Logan's class. I said "Oh, sure, I guess."

On our way home last night Logan and I were talking about his day at school. Mrs R had helped him up on the potty again.

"You like her, huh?" I said to him and again reminded him of her name since he insists on calling her "the helper."

"Yes, I do," he said and then giggled. "She's really pretty."

"What about Mrs S. She's nice. You like your teacher?" I asked him.

"Oh yes, she's very pretty too."

Men! They get an early start!

I guess we can almost call it a sentence -- a 12-month old's sentence.

Megan had a teething biscuit. Tasha wanted it. Megan pushed Tasha's nose away from her yelling "No! No dog! Mine. Mine. Mine!"

Of course since that moment, Megan has handed Tasha the food in question and has placed herself in the small motorized lime green VW Beatle Logan got one Christmas from his aunts. She figured out the gas pedal this morning but can't reach it with enough force to make the car move. Instead she throws her weight back and forth to make it inch forward. She chants "Vava! VavaooommM!" as she does it. Vroom, vroom!

She then calls me to take her out of the car by singing "Maaaaama! Maaaaaaaaa MAAAA!" I lift her up. She hugs me. She sticks her face close to mine and says softly "nose, nose" which is her way to say "Rub noses." Then she points through the large windows at the back of the room that face our yard. Her finger settles in the direction of her new swing.

"Ow Baa" she commands.

I shake my head no. "Megan Rose, it's too cold and too early to go out back. Logan is still sleeping. And you, miss, still have your footy pajamas on."

She giggles. "Brabah ni-ni." (Brother night-night or Brother is sleeping.) She wiggles around to let me know she wants me to put her down. She toddles around the playroom looking for something to amuse herself with. She settles on pulling colored paper from the art box and then working hard to get Logan's toy tools from their plastic case.

I'm thinking being the little sister to a chatterbox preschooler isn't impeding her language development after all. In fact, it seems to help. Logan had a large vocabulary for his age at a year old, but he was still sticking mostly to single word communiques. Megan easily uses as many words but has been combining them into phrases for some time now. Granted the average stranger would not understand much of what she's trying to say, but those of us that spend time with her pick it up easily.


a better day

Apparently he really does listens. At least, when he wants to.

We practiced again this morning:

"Ok, and when Mrs S says its circle time, what do you do?"

"I put my toy down and I run to circle time!"

"You can walk," I said just like I said every other time.

"I know," he said with a smile.

"And what about when its time to come in from the playground?" I asked.

"I go in. I don't even argue. Not one bit!"

We're back to our normal schedlue this week so I went off to work and Logan waited not so patiently at our home with Grandma until it was time to leave. As she dropped him off, Grandma went through rotation of questions with Logan one more time. He responded the same way again.

Mrs R patted his shoulder and said, "Oh good! I see we have a good listening ears on to! Good job."

And those good listening ears stayed on the entire school 'day.' He was smiling and proud when Grandma picked him up. He handed her his artwork happily chattering about what he had painted for her to hang in her kitchen. He sang his clean-up song for her and he talked about how he couldn't wait to go back on Thursday.

Now if only he could come here and teach some of my co-workers a thing or two about "good listening ears"!!!


Do two balls count?

I can't juggle. I try. I get one ball going. I add in a second. I keep two in the air fairly well. Add a third? No dice. So, do two balls count? Can I really claim to juggle with just two?

Here's the thing - I don't think it does. And so, frankly, I'm an inept juggler. And that sort of sucks since so much of parenting is juggling. At least figuratively.

But figuratively speaking, sometimes I juggle in that context enough to 'get-by' and other times enough to even shine, but other times just barely by the skin of my teeth in such a way that I wonder if it counts. I feel like I'm there, tossing two parenting balls up in the air at one time and hoping I can claim it counts as juggling.

(Or perhaps the better analogy is balancing - but I can sort of survive the balance beam as long as we're not demanding fancy tricks and flips and so the whole "performance art vs parenting" thing gets lost a little.)

The other day when I wrote about Logan and his failure to listen, he happened to be in rather rare form. He had a cold coming on and that is never a recipe for an calm, well-behaved, low-maintenance Logan. His overall behavior made it even harder to relax and stick things in prospective. Obviously part of preschool is learning to listen and follow directions and so he's just getting it over with early. Right? ;)

We've talked at it, of it, around it a few times with him. In theory he gets the concept in the context of school. When I picked him up he was just so sad about it. From what I could piece together, what stuck out most for him was the playground -- he didn't want to come in and I think, although no one has come out and said it, he argued with the teacher about it. He hid behind his art paper when I picked him up and then as soon as he got to the corner of the building outside he broke down in tears. I was a little concerned that this would make him reluctant to go back, but nope, he was begging me to take him back within hours of being home. So I suppose he's over it.

The hardest thing, sometimes, for us is really remembering that he's still at the maturity level for three. He communicates very well. He's not only got a sizeable vocabulary, he can also readily identify his emotions/wants/needs and communicate that to us. He is very capable of telling us he's angry and why, for example, and typically does. But he's still three and so sometimes, he ends up in a torrent of preschooler outburst. When you're tired and frazzled to begin with, knowing he can talk it out sometimes clouds the fact that you also know he's still just barely out of that "baby" stage. There are times I can juggle those different balls -recognition of his verbality, his maturity, his rushing littlehormoness. And then there are times I can't.

But truly, the thing I struggle with the most is finding that balance between raising a child who can be respectful and follow direction and yet who can feel comfortable in asking questions and not just be a sheep. I want him grow to be secure enough in himself and his relationships with authority that he's able to push back in appropriate ways. Obviously at three I'm not talking about setting him up for a peaceful protest march or a letter writing campaign, but it is a decent time to start laying the groundwork.

There are moments on our challenging days where I wish he could just do what he's told and leave it at that. Then in a moment of clarity I realize that while that's easier for me, its not what's best for him. And then, when I think about it, I realize that its not what I want. I hate feeling like its a battle, yet I do want him to grow to analyze and not just accept. I do want him to take ownership and not just follow blindly. I do want him to think and not just move robotically. I want him to get to that point and I know, in some way, that it means I can't push him into complete submission now.

Yet its a series of balls I can't seem to juggle. I'm looking for some way to keep those conflicting balls up in the air -- the one where he can follow simple directions without ignoring and debating at every turn, yet where he learns to think for himself and make his own choices.

When I ask the question, "what is it that I truly want for my children's future?" I know the answer. I want them to be happy. I want them to be confident. I want them to be inspired to do whatever great thing dwells in their souls. I want them to be able to feel like they were given the tools they need to be emotionally healthy. I want them to be loaded with self-respect which I strongly believe leads directly into respect for others.

Then I put the pressure on myself to equip them with what they need to be/have all those things. And I know, deep down, that some of that equipping must start now. I'm just trying to figure out which set-of balls I need to learn to keep in the air to do so.


Excuse me, ma'am

Today I got to be the mom of the problem child. Or at least one that needed to be reprimanded. I have to admit to not being surprised about why. A typical day in our house includes me whispering into Logan's ears "Are these things on? Testing, Testing!" Apparently the teacher ran into the same problem.

So now our quest to work through the refusal to listen and respond steps up a notch. I don't expect a three-year-old to achieve this with perfection, but it would be nice if he didn't have to leave preschool trying to tug me out the door before the teacher could talk to me because "instead of listening he was intent on doing his own thing."

He swears he went to circle time when called over. Then later he clarifies for me - "I went after three more times with my car." He admits to debating whether it was time to go in from the playground.

So we're looking for games that focus on listening. Simon Says. Red Light/Green Light. Any other suggestions?

Why I love them. . .

Daddy stayed home today to bring Logan to preschool. The four of us went over together because Logan decreed it a family experience. We were getting ready to leave and I attempted to pry Megan from the Dora books in the corner.

"Go tell Logan good-bye!" I urged her. She toddled over to where Logan was busy playing with a few trucks. She patted his head a few times and smiled at us. Mrs S and Mrs R both said, "Awe, how cute."

Then Megan giggled. She leaned over her brother who was seriously ignoring her attempts at cuteness. She grabbed hold of his head in both arms and bear hugged it. She kissed him and said "Bye-bye brabah!"

And then she ran back to the table covered in a Dora table cloth.

Mrs S commented on Megan's farewell and said to Logan, "Wow, you must be the very best big brother for your sister to want to hug you like that!"

And Logan said "Yup, I am."



Logan's preschool does a half-class-half-day thing on the very first day. Meaning today, 7 members of his class attended from 9-10:10 and the remaining 6 went from 10:20-11:30. Logan was in the 2nd half, which sort of stunk because he began yelling at me to hurry up or he'd be late at 7:15 this morning. Thank goodness he was easily distracted by a Clifford game on the computer and then some "exercise" (he likes to jog & walk around our neighborhood). I knew he was nervous even though he wasn’t saying it. He was up a few times in the night with nightmares. He was acting out more than normal. And he was more likely to get upset over little things. However, when we got to his classroom he found a toy he liked and jumped right in. He smiled for a photo. He humored me by looking at his name written on a star on the class bulletin board. Then he said "Hey, Mommy. You can go now. Bye." So I went. Except Megan didn’t think that was a great idea, because apparently Megan thinks she's ready for preschool to. She screamed the whole way out of the school wing until she found balloons to play with. She enjoyed her special time of play and then amused herself by visiting every member of the church staff as we waited outside the nursery school wing to pick Logan up.

They opened the doors that section off the church from the school. We walked down the hall and found the classes still behind their own closed doors. Logan was seated at a table with his classmates doing the hand motions for the clean-up song the teacher was teaching them. Megan was trying to grab the picture of Dora the Explorer from off the classroom door. And then the door opened. Logan saw Megan first. Then me. He ran over to say hi. Gave me a hug and said "I had a great time. I love school!" Megan was off and running. She loves preschool toys. Did we mention that? Logan decided to show us everything in his room. His teacher asked for a hug goodbye and he ran over to oblige. Meg, again, cried the entire way out because she wanted to stay.

Logan was one giant smile the entire walk out. A smile that got bigger and bigger the more he talked about his school day. He told us about circle time and telling the kids his name. He told us about the book Mrs S read to him. He talked about his cubby saying "it’s like a backpack on the wall." He talked about how he used the bathroom and Mrs R had to help him up onto the seat. He said "Oh, Mom, the bathroom is so big! I was very impressed." He can’t wait to go back and he asked if next time he got to stay longer. He does. We drop him off at 9 and he stays through to 11:30.



I've been sitting here filling out paperwork. Not just paperwork, mind you, but the sort of forms actual parents get to fill out when their child starts something like school. In this case it's my child and he's starting preschool tomorrow. Today was a big 'milestone' day for me as parent, not to mention my children.

There's the whole preschool thing. We spent today eating meals picked out/prepared by Logan (grilled cheese for dinner for example). We took a trip over the bridge to the boardwalk as a mini-last day of summer celebration. We read through the names of the kids in his class on his request - three times. Three times of me reading each first name and him repeating it. He seems to understand memorization techniques suddenly as he worked hard to store away these names for his later use.

He's nervous, but he won't say it. Or at least he does not recognize it. He's giddy and he's been having a few more episodes of acting out. It got easier to deal with the attitude when I could understand where it came from. He'll do fine in school. He'll enjoy it. We've talked about all the great things they're going to do in class. Painting, reading, playing, singing, cutting, glueing - all things he adores doing. He's excited enough to tell people that he's excited about going without prompting. He volunteers the information every time we pass the building.

I just stare at this little boy that has replaced my little toddler and find myself in awe. This person that he's growing into is an amazing, kind, loving little soul with a zest for life. I caught myself remembering today; I was thinking back to when he was just a helpless infant that couldn't quite keep his head up. We walked by the brochures for the preschool and I was commenting on how far away three years seemed then. But it wasn't. Those three years have come fast and now with a 2nd kid around to demand attention it moves faster.

Speaking of the other kid. Today was Megan's birthday. I referred to Megan, out of habit perhaps, as "baby girl" this morning. Logan stopped me and reprimanded me, telling me she wasn't a baby any more she was a toddler.

And he's right. She is clearly very much into toddlerhood. She's abandoned the hestitate steps of the early walker for the confidence of a runner. She's starting to work on her climing.

She's got a clear aptitude for mischief. Her latest great joy is shoving things in unsuspecting toilets. We try to keep bathroom doors closed but the child has a sixth sense. No matter where she is in the house, she knows when the door has been opened and she can appear in the bathroom before you can shut her out of it. Today she attmpted to toss Logan's sneaker in the toilet...while he was peeing.

She also has a great sense of when someone needs a pick me up. Somehow she knows when a well placed cuddle or big sloppy wet kiss is most needed. If it's her brother needing to feel the love, she'll throw herself on him as she attempts to yell "tackle!" only it never quite sounds like that. "Ta-ul!" is more like it. Then she raises her head and moves herself so that they are practically nose to nose before she busts out into giggles and pets his head. It brings a smile to his lips every time. She clearly knows this.

The active, always on the go child, has developed a real joy for reading. She pads over to her bookshelf and pulls out whatever strikes her fancy. She'll often plop down with her find and flip through pages herself. When she's through admiring the pictures she'll come over to the nearest adult, hand them the chosen story and then lift up her arms in a gesture that says "pick me up now!" She snuggles into the crook of your arm and mummur 'book' until you begin to read. Some of her books now have names - namely the ones of her favorite characters. There is the "Elmah book" (a book on the letter B featuring Sesame Street characters including Elmo.) And of course the now very clearly enunciated "Dora Book." (She actually over enunciates it - Door-rah).

She loves to be silly and to tease. She tries hard to wink on her own for some reason which always results in two eyes scrunched up really tight. She adores her new toddler swing. She loves her dolls - she drops them in the new toy stroller and takes them for walks. She cuddles them and loves them. She drags them around by their arm or hair.

She's typically moving and/or talking. She's got a fairly large vocabulary for someone just very newly 12 months old. But not knowing a word never stops her for 'talking.' She babbles incessantly. She yells and points. She shrieks. She makes a load of sounds.

And then, when she's mad she really lets loose. She'll yell. She'll scream. She'll get red in the face and scrunch up her fist. She turns on the tears. If she's overtired and just beside herself, she'll throw her body around too. Try holding an overtired tantruming toddler! Today as we rushed off the boardwalk she was crying as loud as she could with her head buried in my shoulder. She suddenly threw herself backwards, flinging her arms out wide as I supported her head in my hand. The melodrama has already set in.

She is a girlie girl. She loves her feather boa. She loves dressing up - give her access to hats, sunglasses and/or animal ears on a headband and she's all over it. She puts them herself. Sometimes she gets them on right. Sometimes she does not. She loves having her hair brushed and her feet rubbed. She loves to dance. She loves to feed the dog her lunch.

Megan is a little girl who strongly exhibits a very clear passion at a very young age. She loves life it seems. She's generally a happy child that loves to make others happy too.

I held her as she drifted off to sleep this afternoon - freshly off her mid-day meltdown. Kids tend to look so angelic when they sleep. She's no different. She smiles when she sleeps. A faint grin never leaving her face. It traced it with my finger and I thought of how it wasn't that long ago that I sat in a hospital bed holding a 7 pound baby doing the very same thing.

It goes by so fast. Savor it, I told myself. Savor.


As promised, sort of

Well the photo of Megan all decked out in her boa-best with the pig tails didn't quite come out. I wasn't sure it would. We were in our sun room and the resulting photo has more light in some sections than in others - placing her face in a giant dark shawdow. Bummer.

However, I can share this photo of Meg in pigtails:

As well as this boa-decked and sunglass holding Megan. This photo is the one that will be added to the hallway gallery of annual kid pictures. She actually can/will put those glasses on properly. But sometimes, as you can see, she'd rather chew on them.

There is a whole lot more where those came from. ;)If you're a glutton for punishment drop a comment with your email and I'll send you the link if I like you. ;)


1 year ago today

I was packing my bags and preparing for an end. It was my last day home with my son as an only child. The very next evening I'd be checking into the hospital to begin induction. My daughter would arrive less than a day later on September 12th.

To mark the occasion we threw her birthday party today. A few kids of assorted ages and their assorted adults. Lots of gifts. Loads of food for a delighted nearly 1-year old to smush with hands and mash with gums.

She is understandably exhausted.


Well she is a firecracker. . .

I am taking a breather from birthday party preparations. Tomorrow is Megan's 1st birthday party. She's got the whole girlie girl pink "1" theme featuring a red headed little fairy princess. Her cake is a castle. It was intended to be a pleasant shade of pink castle with purple roof tops and deeper pink windows and trim.

I should not be trusted with gel food coloring and frosting. I put in a tad too much of the "rose" colored dye for the main section of the castle cake: Megan now has a hot pink castle for her first ever birthday cake. I suppose its only fitting. The brightly colored cake will match her bigger than her size exhuberance for life!

Yes, yes, yes. I took a photo. I even took one of the cake I finished next to the picture of the cake I was sort-of-kind-of aiming for. The photo is a bit paler than I had thought I'd do, but its a hell of a lot closer than where I ended up!


It's coming

I promise, per Cath's request, that photos of my Diva will be coming in short order. I need to make a confession: I am a digital camera hold out. Yes. I. Am. It's sad; I know. I am in love with my current camera and I refuse to move on to the "D" world until I can afford my current love's digital equivalent.

That said, a photo of my Diva is currently ensconced in my Nikon N65. Her birthday party is this weekend. I will be using the current roll of film and then some. As soon as its all developed, I promise to scan in and share.


Uh oh

I think I'm raising a night club singer.

It occured to me the other day that Meg's hair may now be long enough to get it up in the "oops, too small for me!" pony tail holders. I had picked up months ago and then, upon realizing my error, I tucked them away in Megan's drawn for "someday".

So yeah, now she can get to pig tails at either side - they just stick out to the side of her head. Its actually cute because the ends curl up a little. Well the moment she was decked out in her new do, she wrapped her feather boa around herself and is now playing the maracas.


Go ahead, make my day. . .

Bruce has taken an unexpected trip to upstate NY to visit his ailing mother. Ailing is putting it mildly, for what its worth. It always rattles our routine when he travels, but more so when its a last minute thing. Today I had to work, as I normally do on a Tuesday. We were running late because just as I was about to step into my slacks, a child woke up. And then just as I was going to to attempt to finish dressing, the other one called me to his room. By the time Grandma showed up and then by the time we all made our way out the front door, I was frazzled.

I bent down to kiss Logan goodbye and he admonished me for not getting to the van quick enough so he could press the numbers on the garage door code panel to close it. I pecked a kiss on his head anyway, and then I kissed Megan. I backed out of the driveway and paused to be sure the garage door was staying down - its been quirky about that lately with one of the senors misaligned. I waved to Logan. He giggled and waved back.

I waved to Megan and she yelled "Buh-buh!" as she flapped her arm. Then I blew her a kiss.

And she blew me one right back. She touched her finger tips to her lips and then she pulled her hand away until her palm was flat out before her. Yeah, that made my day.



As adults its easy to get pulled into the chaos of the world around us. As parents, our children have a way of pulling us back into our own little microcosm. They have a way of reminding us that sometimes we need to step back from the big picture and just focus on the little unimportant things.

My kids have done that for me this past week. With Internet news outlets and cable TV it'd be easy to get sucked into the vortex of "all horror, all the time." It'd be easy to become consumed by the sorrow. Yet my children have held back the onslaught by being their very unique, naive, adorable selves.
While at the craft store the other day I broke down and picked up pieces of what will become Meg's Halloween costume. She's going to be a black cat. I'm fully aware that Halloween is two months away - but the last time I waited to buy any holiday related stuff at a craft store, I was Thanksgiving craft kit-less in mid-October.

Anyway, we bought a set of furry ears on a headband and a fluffy, fake-furry boa that I will convert into a tail and a neck ruffle for her. She clearly loved rubbing her face in the feather boas on display. She liked having them draped around her shoulders so they tickled her neck and cheeks. So I bought her two - a black one for her outfit and a white one to play with.

When we got home, I placed the white one on her. She got all smiley and giddy to have it. She played for a while but it became clear her wardrobe addition wasn't going to stay on, so I took it off. I started down the hallway to put it away in her room. Megan moved as quickly as she could - almost all out running behind me as she yelled in her very well rehearsed, pissed-off-toddler voice, "BOA! BOA! BOA! MAH BOA!"

Logan wasn't with us when we purchased the cat-supplies. He did, however, get a good look at them today when the two of them located the bag I thought I had hidden away. Megan has become fairly adapt at putting things on her head/face like sunglasses and headbands. She proved it again with her cat ears. I adjusted them slightly for her so the band wasn't sticking in her ear. She took off giggling, prancing around the house with her ears on. Logan taught her to meow.

"Mahow, mahow, mahow," she says, not quite able to get the long e out well.

Then Logan wanted the ears or at least a costume. I've been working on him for Halloween lately because he was hellbent on being a character I felt was impossible to recreate. (No, don't offer to help. I am too lazy to even try to work this one out.) Instead, I've been encouraging him to be a different Rescue Hero than he'd originally talked about. That seems to be what he's settled on for now - Billy Blazes, a firefighter. He also wanted to be a lion, "just in case we can't find the right Billy stuff," he said. Or maybe a dog. Or a tiger. Or maybe even wear his Superman pajamas.

We headed back to the craft store. I wanted to preserve the cat ears by providing another option. We're now the proud owners of a tiger ear headband, a snow leopard headband, a princess hat (complete with long flowing netting), and a purple foam crown. Not to mention to more boas. Did you know that Logan's tiger has a neon green tail?

We spent the afternoon trading ears and wearing feather boa tails as we chased each other roaring. Logan decided to be a dog on a neon green fluffy leash. Megan walked him. Then the dog broke free and ran away. So Megan and I had to find him and track him down. They both found such delight in this game, you couldn't help but catch the giggles from them

Of course the only downside - Megan has given up, at least for this evening, calling Logan nothing more than "brahba" (brother). Right, yeah. Now she calls him "dawg" (Dog.)


Point your finger elsewhere, thank you

I'm frustrated.

I'm frustrated but not in the way that it seems so many others are, because frankly I'm frustrated with those very people.

Look, let's get one thing clear - I don't think the response to the unimaginable disaster in the Gulf States has been all it could be/should be.

However, I also don't think NOW is the time to give a hoot about who's fault that is.

Really people, we're less than a week into the worst natural disaster any of us can claim to have seen in our natural lifetimes. People are still dying on the streets. They are hungry. They are scared. They are at risk of disease and gunshot. They are thirsty. They are homeless. And instead of investing our time and energy into helping then, we're going to bitch about who's fault it is? I'm sorry, but I just don't see how that's productive.

So much blaming happening. Blame FEMA. Blame Bush. Blame the police. Blame. Blame. Blame. How about we take a deep breath and actually blame the one and only thing truly responsible for the entire disgusting display of hell on earth? The damn storm.

How about we take a moment from bashing the Feds and recognize that local officials had no plan. They had no mechanism to communicate in the wake of the destruction because they did little beforehand to prepare even though they knew this powerful storm was barreling down on them. How about we give up the notion of comparing the horrific event of 9/11 to a multi-day natural disaster. One ripped our sense of security to shreds. The other left a city and its infrastructure under water -- inaccessible, unsafe and unhealthy.

We make a lot of assumptions about what should be done, what COULD be done, because we watch one of those obnoxious 24/7 "news" stations. Yet who among us really is feet on the streets there to know for sure what really could take place? I've heard reports today that the National Guard is having difficulty getting through the high waters around the Superdome to bring much needed relief. Do you get it? Do you? Its not just that no one tried to get in -- no one *can* get in.

I've heard some pontification about the common sense in just dropping supplies in. Is this truly thought out? I mean really? There is looting and murder in the streets now. Dead, bullet-ridden bodies in the flood waters. Rape in the bathrooms. Horror and evil crime. Do you honestly think a pile of supplies dropped from the air is going to make it to the people that need it? That's not going to cause a stampede/riot or be grabbed by some lawless thug with a gun?

But, now is not the time to blame. Now is NOT the time to deal in "should of" and "if only." Frankly, does it really matter who fucked up the rescue and relief efforts? No. It does not. At the end of the day the family huddled together in fear in the Superdome doesn't really care who's fault it is that they're still there - they just want to get out and be safe. They want to be able to be thank God they're alive. They want food. They want clean, safe water. They want to be able to use a bathroom without fearing for their lives.

So yeah, you, the one with the finger wagging. And you, the one that thinks you're above the whole finger wagging despite derogatory comments about some group or another failing miserably. Oh, yes, and you too, the one that clucks your tongue and places the blame on those that didn't get out. Take that energy you're using to be bitter and judgmental and use it for something worthwhile. If you've already given to some cause, well figure out how you can give again. This mess isn't over the minute those people get out of hell or those waters go down. This horror is with us for a very long time to come.

If you can't give any more, well then get down on your knees (figuratively if actual kneeling isn't your thing) and pray. Or meditate or do whatever it is you do.

There will be a time to look back and figure out what went wrong...and we'll do so as a lesson in how to do it right the next time we, God forbid, face tragedy. But now is not that time, so really, give it a rest.


Eye of the Storm

When I was about 12 we were hit with a hurricane. It wasn't anything near the brutality of Katrina, of course. It wasn't anything even remotely close to anything that slammed into Florida a year ago. I mean really, let's face it, by the time a storm trucks up the Eastern Seaboard, its not packing a full-strength punch on the coast of Jersey.

No one could stand in my parents garage today - too many boxes and old junk there now. Back then, however, it was functional. I have very clear, vivid memories of sitting in the garage, door open, as the eye of the storm passed over. The eery calm that suddenly appeared and then suddenly disappeared as ravaging winds and driving rains resumed. The moment it appeared the storm was starting its second round of assault we hurried back inside. We sat in the innermost parts of the home, away from the windows my father had placed big taped "X's" on.

We lived about 10 blocks from the Bay. We had been invited to evacuate, but didn't. My mom quickly reminded me of that the other morning when I wondered why those people wouldn't leave when encouraged to. "But, Mom," I said softly, "it wasn't a category 5 barreling down on us. It just isn't the same thing."

I ache for the people that have lost everything. I grieve for the families that will learn someone they loved didn't survive. I shiver when I wonder how long this area will suffer the lingering effects of nature's cruel side. But I have to say - sometimes I wonder what type of news from that region upsets me most - the leveled cities left in the wake of the storm, or the worst in human nature surfacing in the turmoil.

I read about a first responder who was shot while trying to rescue someone. I emailed my best friend. She's an emergency medicine doctor whose job entails leaping on a plane and rushing to the sites of major disasters and medical crisis. When the world is not upside down on its head, she works in the ER of a hospital. Things like Katrina, however, would normally pull her from her home. She'd leave her husband and 2-year old to spend 10-14 days in hell trying to put pieces back together.

But she didn't go this time. They won't take a pregnant woman with them. Its weird, listening to her talk about it. The logical side of her, the mothering side of her, is relieved to not jeopardize her unborn child. The doctor in her, though, seems disappointed that she's not down there doing what she's trained to do. I'm very proud of her. It'd embarrass her if I told her, so I don't, not directly. But I will tell you.

When we were 5, staring at our own shoes lest we have to speak to each other, I'd not have dreamed we'd be mother's exchanging emails about diapers and potty training. Normally, in my mind's eye, we're still 10. We've got on our swimsuits and towels. We're shoving our feet into flip-flops as we flee her house on bicycle. We race each other then handful of blocks to the water, moving off our bikes in a fluid movement that includes flicking our towels to the sand. We dig our toes in the bottom the bay and we splash like girls that forgot they were trying to be 'women.'

But really that's not us any more. We're grown up now, and when I can see past the memories of that girl my friend was, I see a hero in her place.