Once upon a time. . .

Our bedtime routine has expanded beyond the book. Each night after we read a small bit of personal library, whoever Logan has deemed storyteller for the evening must compose an original piece of literature on demand. When we're done with our tale, Logan shares one of his masterpieces. In the past they've been non-sensical and more about him him twirling around in excitment. Recently they're starting to get well thought out and original -- like tonight's.

We had just flipped the calendar to November and as is our custom, we reviewed the important days of the month. I decided to make my impromptu tale a little over-simplied history lesson. A group of people decide they don't want to live in England any more so they pile into boats and they sail across the big ocean. I have a lapse where I forget to be politically correct and I refer to Indians as opposed to Native Americans and I figure it's going to be something he mentions in circle time if they talk about Thanksgiving much in school this year. I wrap up our story with a big party to celebrate a great harvest. And voila! We have Thanksgiving. Logan claps polietly and takes the helm:

"Once upon a time there were a bunch of Indians. They decided to go in some boats and ride for a really long time across the water. They sail and sail and then they crash into rocks! And crash into rocks. And crash, and crash, and crash. And then crash into some more rocks. Then they get out and they climb up a really, really, really big tower. They climb all the way up into outerspace and they get out on Pluto. Then they walk around and collect some rocks before they climb all the way down, down, down, down back onto their boats. They ride the boats over the water to home and they have a party and say thank you. The End."


Sometimes I break the rules

Tomorrow, Halloween, my not-so-little-anymore town will host its 68th Annual Halloween Parade. This thing is huge. In fact it is so huge, it's reportedly the 2nd largest Halloween Parade in the world. I didn't make that up. They say that on the event web site.

Now, hosting the world's second largest parade complicates the holiday a bit. See, people are so busy on Halloween camping out on the streets as early as they possibly can that no one can trick-or-treat. At least no one can trick-or-treat on October 31st. The town's work-around is to move Trick-or-Treat by a day. For as long as I can remember, we've had mischief night on 10/29. Trick-or-treat 10/30 and huge-ass parade on 10/31.

That means today we had little goblins and princesses ringing the doorbell. At first we thought of not taking our two little infirmed imps out. Then we reconsidered. The boy could go. He was, based on his energy level and attitude, feeling 110% better outside of the small issue the antibiotic was causing for his instestinal tract. He could go out. The little whiney, clingy one could not.

The boy donned his fireman costume, grabbed his plastic pumpkin bucket and dragged Daddy out for some candy gathering. When they left I stitched a part of a fuzzy black boa to the back of the little sicko's black leggings. I painted a small pink nose over her nose and added a few whiskers in black. I dropped the black furry cat-ear headband on her head. If she wasn't going out, at least she could answer the door all spiffed up and besides, she was going over to see the grandparents later in the afternoon.

Medicine, however, is a fantastic thing. A dose of antibiotics and some motrin later, little Megan was back to being her chipper self. In fact if we didn't know better we'd think she was perfectly healthy. As she started to giggle at me taking her picture, I decided to take her with me out to the sidewalk to see if I could get a shot of Logan out on tour. We had to cross the street and walk down a house to do so.

Meg, once again hellbent on doing everything her brother does, had dragged the other, smaller, plastic pumpkin bucket out with us. When she saw Logan marching up the next driveway, she squirmed and wiggled until I let her down. She marched herself right up to the door next to Logan and stood, holding her pumpkin out. My little one-year old seemed to innately know what to do. . .

The door opened.

The kind neighbor smiled at the two little ones holding their plastic buckets out.

Logan, a veteran trick-or-treater having gone out for the first time last year, held up his and said the requisite "Trick or Treat!" followed by a nice "thank you" as the candy was dropped in.

Megan held her bucket as high as she could. She smiled at the neighbor and she yelled "BOO!" And then she tried her hardest to be polite. She has two sounds that she seems to use often at points where you'd expect a nice thank you. She used those sounds then.

She followed Logan down the front path, stopping at the driveway to reach in her bucket and find out what she'd gotten. She happily trotted along, pumpkin in one hand, junior mints in another. She didn't care when we dropped her mints in our distribution bowl and handed her a Teddy-Gram. She was just thrilled to have been "big."

We brought the kids to my parents'. Megan knew what to do. She walked herself to the front door, saw her Grandmother waiting there with the candy bowl and yelled "BOO!" We decided to let her go with us to the few houses Logan would go to on that block. She decided to partake in the first few with him. He'd go to the ones his little friends lived in or to neighbors he knew. He'd make small talk. He'd get candy. He'd ask for a second piece so his grandmother could have one too. He's always looking at for us. I think he even gathered Daddy a roll of Smarties and I get all his gum.

After a few houses, Megan got bored of the whole deal. And that's fine by me. Normallly I have this thing about kids that can't actually *say* trick-or-treat, let alone eat the candy, going out door-to-door for something Dad's going to end up eating. Logan wasn't taken out until he was 2. Meg was only along for the ride. She spent her afternoon collecting sticks and leaves and getting up close and personal to the lawn decorations. She'd attempt to scare every scarecrow and wave to every dog. She had a grand time and if nothing else, she loved being dressed up. She'd take a moment to adjust the cat ears if they slipped too far forward. She'd look up at you, scrunch her little nose up and say "Mow, mow!" (which is the closest she can get to Meowing.)

So we had this rule when we started the day - no sick kids out even if it meant missing Halloween. But we broke the rule. And at the end of the day, when Megan re-dressed into her pajamas pointed up to the little orange plastic bucket and said "My pumpnin," I sort of felt breaking the rules was ok. And if I doubted it, when Logan sighed after story time and said "Mommy, today I had a great day," I didn't doubt again. These two little imps have been locked up in the house for nearly a week. They needed a little time outside on an unusually warm late October afternoon. They needed the fun. And this year, having the world's 2nd largest Halloween parade, meant we had a means to deliver it to them in a special way that didn't include breathing directly on others. :)

Not to be outdone

We expected Megan to get the cold. She's in the grab and snag phase of toddlerhood. If her brother has it, she wants it - including every cup or snack he gets his hands on. Before you can blink she'll be running away with his sports cup, straw in her mouth. Yes, she was bound to pick-up whatever germ set recent events in motion.

Her little nose started running late Thursday. Friday she was clearly stuffy and runny but not anything at all like big brother had been at the start of his recent bout. In the last 13 and half months, Meg hasn't dealt with many colds, but she's dealt with enough for us to know that she's typically a rather easy sick baby. She tends not to whine or cling much. She just goes about her day as chipper as usual, just smearing the mess of a nose whenever she feels compelled to.

Last night was different. Megan was up a lot last night and she felt hot. Her little body lying on mine made me warm enough to kick a blanket off us. I took her temperature. It read 99.6. I decided to double check. The second reading was in the 98 range. So was the third. Perhaps the first was off, I figured. Perhaps she was just warm in her pjs.

When she woke up this morning she was unusally clingy. Even when fighting a cold, Megan tends not to sit in one spot long. She's not the sort of child that wants to feel better by resting. She's also not one to mind if it's Mom or Dad with her. We knew she was off the moment I foolishly attempted to walk down the hallway without her. She screamed. She pushed at Daddy. She called "Mama! Mama! Wahn Mama!" (Wahn = want.)

Her little body still felt hot. Her forehead was warmer than I recall it ever being. The thermometer read 101.5. Megan has her first fever. It's not a milestone we were hoping for. I called the doctor's office, thankful yet again that we selected the practice with weekend hours. Megan's only other 'doctor requiring' sickness also fell on a Sunday. That time it was an ear infection we didn't know she had. She seemed otherwise healthy then except for the little issue she had keeping food down.

We assumed she'd be diagnosed with her own ear infection. She has been covering her right ear with her hand - something I thought had been mimicking her brother, but perhaps not. The doctor's first reaction to hearing her symptoms was ear infection too. Her ears are clear.

Her throat, however, is not. Her throat is raw and red. Doctor ordered an over-night throat culture and a rapid culture. The rapid is positive. Meg has strep.

Little girl is back to sleep now. Her antibiotic is about to be picked up. Poor kid is miserable and it's no wonder why. Now we're on look out for a sore throat with Logan (I'm hoping his own 10-day antibiotic treatment will ward off any strep infection, although it's wreaking havoc on his stomach.) We're also to watch Meg for an ear infection. Doctor is wary that she may develop one with the way she's playing with the ear.

You know, I do like that they play well together and share fairly well considering their ages, I just wish they didn't opt to share this.


A little levity

Doctor said he was giving Logan an antibiotic for his ear infection. "And it actually tastes good too!" he said encouragingly.

"No it doesn't!" said Logan quite loudly. "My ear is not dinner!" Then he grinned and giggled.


Daddy, a NY Giants fan, said, "Tell Mommy what your favorite football team is."

Logan said, "Cowboys!"

Mommy, also a Giants fan, asked why he picked the Cowboys.

Logan said "Because they win."


Logan sat with a one big toy ad disguised as a magazine of hot items for the holidays. He was circling things he might want for Christmas - in other words, he was circling every page.

Mommy said, "Logan, that's not for you. See, it says right here, you need to be at least 8 years old to get that."

Logan didn't even miss a beat, "Ok, well then I want it for my 8-year old birthday."


Highs and Lows

The boy that left the doctor's office just three days ago with nothing more than a head cold located rather completely in his nose, now has a painful ear infection. He, who insisted he felt fine and didn't hurt anywhere, had to be picked up early from preschool Thursday when he melted down over not getting his trick-or-treat bag back when he felt he should. His teacher kept saying he felt miserable. I kept saying - but he was fine yesterday and he was fine this morning until we got into the snit about wearing a winter coat.

Then we hit 2am Friday. At that time, Logan decided he needed to use the bathroom. It should be noted that when he moved from crib to bed a year ago we sort of, kind of drilled into his head this idea that he couldn't get out of that bed on his own unless the sun was up or his clock said it was after 7am. Typically it has its perks, but if he rises at night for the bathroom (luckily not often although he's accident free at night), it does involve calling one of us to escort him.

I got him settled in bed. I fell back to sleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, but I was jarred awake by the sounds of my child paging me again. His ear hurt. In my half-asleep state I figured it was merely from laying on it for a length of time. I told him to lay on the other side and go to sleep.

I left. He cried. Bruce said something about maybe he has an ear infection. I said something about it being easy to be sympathetic from under the covers. The three of us ended up awake in Logan's room debating his ear ache. He took some chewable generic knock-off of Tyelnol. He refused the decongestant. He cried loudly when I left him alone with Dad so I could google treating preschooler ear infections. He woke his sister.

We split the child care duty - each soothing the frazzled nerves of a kid. A warm compress to the ear, some cuddling in the recliner with "Megan's songs" and finally snuggling close back in the twin bed as I gently rubbed his temples, Logan drifted off to sleep. I didn't even move from my spot. We were all back to snoozing by 4am. Megan got up to start her day at 6. It's been a long day.

Before Logan woke up shortly after 9 this morning, I had called and gotten him a doctor's appointment. He was eager to go and had to be talked out of sitting in the van until we left 2 hours later. We brought Meg to my parents. I had already juggled two kids on the 'sick' side of the peditrician's office once this week. It went rather well but I wasn't ready to press my luck and hope for two in a row.

The doctor took one look in Logan's ear and said "Oh yeah, that's infected."

"So fast?" I had asked him. He nodded without saying much more because he was already pressing the stethoscope to Logan's back. He did say something like "lungs are clear," and then something else to the tune of "just that nasty ear and the nose." Logan is now on antibiotics, which does little to ease the actual pain that seems to ebb and flow. Moments of sheer agony peppered between stretches of almost normalcy.

Of course, in most grey moments comes a few shining points of light. This one is no different. Today we learned that at her young tender age, Megan has aquired a sense of empathy - at least to a degree. As Logan walks around holding his ear and moaning, she'll put her hand to her own ear and watch him intently. She did this most of the afternoon. Studying his every move. Seemingly taking note of his winces or his moans. Sometime between dinner and falling asleep on the living room floor at 6:30 pm, Logan was laying face down in a ball on the floor whimpering about his ear. Megan toddled over to him, her hand raised in a familiar stance. She likes to pet Logan for some reason, but her petting is more like heavy patting that drives him insane. I shook my head at her and whispered "Nice, Megan, be nice." She smiled and said back "Nigh."

She got near him and bent down close to him. She pressed her cheek into his back and wrapped her arms around his sides. He started to yelp "She's tackling me! No Megan!" But she wasn't tackling. She was hugging. She nuzzled him a bit - seeming to burrow her face into his spine a bit. She hugged him tighter and she said softely "Ahhh, brabah."

"She's trying to hug you Logan. She's trying to be loving." I explained. He lifted his head slightly and smiled. He glanced at his side to see Megan's knees tucked closely to his rib cage. He put his head down and said "Thank you."

Megan sat up happy at the recognition of her kind deed. She started to "pet" his back. I showed her instead how to rub it. Then I showed her how to tickle. Logan laughed as I gently ran my fingers on the spot where his shirt had ridden up from Meg's bear hug. Megan loves to hear Logan laugh. She wanted in on it. She ran her fingers up and down the same area. He had a fit of laughter that sent her off in hysterics.

He seemed much improved after that. We threw on a CareBear DVD Meg had gotten with a birthday gift. Some folks have Sweating to the Oldies, we, apparently, have low-impact bear areobics. The first clip on the DVD was excercising with the Care Bears. So we did. Or at least I did, at first. Logan balled up on the floor again and Meg elected to be held as I danced around. I put her back on the floor to hug Logan. She stared at the bears running in place and then she ran - three steps up, three steps back. She flopped her arms around as they waved theirs. She got in a good work-out.

We danced together then, the three of us. We collapsed in exhaustion. We switched over to the DVD of Logan's early days. His first days home through his first birthday. Logan loves watching those movies. Megan seems to also. It's the only thing she sits for for any length of time. She smiles and murmurs the names of the voices she hears. She giggles and points at the baby, knowing the baby Logan is her big brother. She climbed on my lap to watch as she cuddled. Logan stretched out on the floor next to us.

"Honey, why don't you lay down on your bed. Or at least let's start your bath now." I said, knowing he knew enough about time now to know it wasn't time for either in the routine of a normal day.

"No," he said, "I'm not sleeping." And with that he closed his eyes and drifted off. Megan was ready to leap on him again. I bathed her instead. The dog was attempting to do uncharactistic obstacle course jumps over him. I gently picked him up and held him until his eyes shut tight again. I laid him in his bed despite a soft protest and said a silent thanks to some foresight of having dressed him in soft sweats today and for having removed his shoes hours ago. I whispered that I'd be back once I got Meg in her pajamas. He was out cold before I got to the door.

Megan drifted off easily a good half-hour before normal. They're both sound asleep but I have my doubts about how long it'll last. The little nose is starting to run now. She's also chewing off her fingers today and one has to assume that her still two lonely teeth will indeed someday have company in that mouth! The boy - well his Advil will wear off in a few hours. He's been laying on two pillows but still its the way he slept last night.

I'm about to head to bed in hopes of sneaking in a few hours before we're pacing the halls again. It's been a day of highs and lows. Which is appropriate I guess in that it's a day in a life and a being a normal life it's one with its notable highs and lows. I hate seeing my child in this much discomfort, but it's been nice to see the little spots of light too. It makes me remember that even in the crankiness of moods, even in the discomfort of the common cold, your child can still touch you in a way no one else can. Makes those moments when you start to consider camping on your roof with a bottle of wine worth it - in fact, it makes those moments seem so very nothing in the grand scheme of things. Just as it ought to.


Sweet Sounds

Normally when I go through our morning routine I do so with a child scaling my leg. At least one of them, sometimes both. I have mastered the art of ironing a shirt while holding a toddler on my hip. I have managed to apply make-up while a preschooler pulls on the back of my shirt whining "But Mom! I want you to come play!"

This morning had started off no different. I showered with two faces outside the shower door. I dried my hair with one child yelling over the sound of hot air blowing fast. Then it was quiet, relatively speaking.

I heard the boy's voice pretending to be some other person holding a conversation with something I couldn't quite make out. I figured he was in his room playing. I heard the Little People A-Z Zoo go off repeatedly. I assumed the little one had pulled it off her short bookcase and was sitting on it again while she chewed on animals. I was happy to hear they were amusing themselves so I could iron our shirts for the day and finish dressing in peace.

The boy came running in looking for a tissue. I pointed to the box near my bed and then gave his nose a good second wipe after he took the first stab at it.

From another room came the little voice that can sometimes be hard to discern, "BRABAH!" Not hard this time though. She very clearly was yelling "Brother." She still refuses to call him by his name, no matter how much we try to get her to parrot it back to us. She'll grin and say sweetly, "No. Brabah."

"Megan must be looking for you," I told him.

He smiled and ran off. "We're playing nice!" he said over his shoulder. I walked as quietly as possible past two open bedroom doors. No one in the boy's room. They were both sitting on the floor of the little one's room surrounded by Little People. Little girl sat so very close to Logan she was nearly on his lap. He'd look down at her every now and then and smile at her. He even rubbed her head and said softly "You're a good girl Meg." And she looked at him and sighed, "Brabah."

A moment like that can warm my heart on such a cold day (its 33 degrees at 8am) all day long.


Little jokester!

Our still relatively new computer has Windows XP Media edition. One of our fancy little extras that accompanies this verison of windows is the "Dancer" program. We can select a number of 3-D dancers that will come on and perform while you play music. I thought the kids might find it amusing so I put in Logan's favorite CD (a mix of 60s music) and pulled up the dancer. I selected the paperclip dressed as ghost, although he occasionally switches out costumes for other gear.

Right now the ghost is dancing to Sam Cooke's "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha." That's 13-month old Meg's favorite song. She's laughing and shaking her body to the music. She sings along, adding her own lyrics, when she's not giggling at the dancer:

"Cha cha cha BOO!"

Best news

Dad, although comfirmed to be at higher risk because of his and his family history, is currently cancer free. Tests show he has a flare-up of Crhon's disease which isn't a real surprise since he's been in remission with it for 30 years and it's not something you actually ever cured of. This is what we had hoped to hear - of all the things it could have been, this is the best case.

A bit of Uncle

My brother is a text book example of a workaholic. He rises early. Heads into work and puts in a 14+ hour day. Makes the 1+ hour drive back to the house where he takes his time putting around before crashing into bed.

This, however, isn't quite the reason he has trouble waking up in the morning. Certainly the lack of quality and quantity sleep compounds the problem, but my brother simply isn't a good morning person. To get up in the morning for work he sets a series of alarms. The first goes off sometime around 3:45am to jar him from a deep sleep. Another at 4. Another a 4:30 and then the "Holy crap I'm going late!" alarm goes off at 5.

When I was off on my "girl" trip with Mom this weekend we stopped in the "EVERYTHING" Thomas the Tank Engine store - only they don't quite call it that. We found a second "EVERYTHING" Thomas store. We bought a lot of Thomas. One of the items, the one I gave Logan when I got home and didn't tuck away for Christmas, was a good old fashioned two bells with a hammer alarm clock. He's learning to tell time but to date he's been reliant on the digitial clocks around our house. I want him to learn to use a standard clock too. We removed the clock radio from his room and put in the new one.

I thought that perhaps we'd avert our recent battles about putting clothes on by setting an audible signal. He can't fight that it is not yet time to dress if the loud obnoxious bell is going off saying it is. I set his alarm for what I thought was 7:30 - the Thomas clock only has one arm for the alarm set. You need to guesstimate anything that's not on the hour.

Logan is typically up by 7am regardless of what we do. Once in a blue moon he sleeps later. I figured 7:30 would get us to a point where he was already awake but enough time before 8am -- our real drop-dead time to start him in motion to get to school on time.

The very loud bells started clanging at 7:10. LOUD bells that don't stop until you turn them off. I ran down the hall. Logan had been asleep still. I thought perhaps the first time he had a real alarm wake him up he might be a bit scared. I rushed to comfort him and explain. Meg ran along behind me singing along with the bell tone.

As I pushed open the bedroom door I said "It's ok, just the alarm. Must be time to start getting ready for school!"

And he answered back with some deep breathing and stuffy nosed soft snores.



My dad has been noticeably pale for about a month. He's been tired. He's also been hounded to go see the doctor. A few weeks ago a friend from church, who is a retired triage nurse in the local ER, told him to get himself to the doctor to have his hemoglobin checked. He finally went on Friday. Yesterday the doctor called to tell him to go to the hospital for blood transfusions. His hemoglobin was down to alarmingly low levels. He put off going for a day for a myriad of reasons but as you read this he's in the emergency department of our hospital, blood work-up done and the first of at least four pints worth of blood transfusion started. He'll stay overnight. When they feel his levels are up to a safer level they'll perform a colonoscopy.

They can't say right now what is causing the blood loss. However, based on his own and family medical history, plus his other symptoms, there are a few potential causes. In the doctor's words – we can't say for sure what it is but we do know it's serious and we need to treat it. When he was younger he had regional enteritis. During that time he had several surgeries to remove the effected portions of his intestinal track. The other thing weighing our minds right now is that my grandmother (my father's mother) and both her sisters had colon cancer – all three eventually died as a result although my one great-aunt enjoyed over a decade in remission before losing the battle when it returned about 5 years ago.

We won't know much more than this until after the tests, which are at least 8+ hours off. If you're of the praying variety, please include him in yours. We know he's got something that needs attention, we're just praying it's the lesser of two evils right now.


I think this means I'm all grown up

Tonight was back to school night. Instead of being the kid sitting at home wondering what in the world your teacher might have to say to your parents, I was the parent. It wasn't parent-teacher conference night, although some parents took the chance to drill the teacher about their kids. That night comes in January. This was come see what we do and ask any questions you might have as long as it doesn't require an indepth anaylis of your child because we've only been in session for a month. Like I said, that didn't stop some folks.

We made our way to the the board of photos taken during Tuesday's class. Word of advice - if you want your child to stand out in group photos, dress him in a shirt with wide stripes. As we scanned the photos to get a glimpse of Logan in action, Bruce said "This is weird, huh?"

"What's weird?"

"Being here? Having him be old enough that we go to back-to-school night."

It was weird. It was new. Dropping him off for his classes was one thing. Being completely grown-up enough to be at a back-to-school night, was another. Yet my first thought was how odd it felt that *I* was old enough and grown-up enough to be there in that role. It didn't really sink in that my child was now a real *student* of sorts until Bruce said something.

When we got home a short time later, the kids and Grandma were just making their way in from the yard. Logan was yanking off his sweatshirt with some help and in the process managed to remove both tops from his body. He stood there shirtless, grinning to see us return. I smiled back at him, holding the self-portrait he'd made in class the day before.

The portraits had been lined up on the window sill and we were to figure out which one was our child's. Each one had to answer the question "My favorite part about school is. . ." and the teacher had written their answers down for them. The first pass through I wasn't sure I could actually narrow down the brightly colored abstract art. The second time I looked more closely. I reached out for a page, pulled back the top sheet from the blue construction paper it was stapled to. I handed it to Bruce with a "I knew it!"

The crayon colored Logan had a long, thin blue body with no arms. Two straight lines represented his legs and two varying sized circles were his feet. A circle sat on the body with two smaller circles - also in blue - floating inside. Only two parts of that picture were not blue; bright red scrawling lines sat atop the circle and a red line floated below the two little circles.

Bruce asked how I knew this was the right one. "It's got red hair see? And he told me that he had to draw a picture of himself and he used blue for his eyes. Besides it says his favorite part of school is jumping on the playground."

"Where do you think his arms got lost to?" asked Bruce.

"He's jumping. He only needs legs," I pointed out.

At home, Logan saw his picture in my hand. He smiled wider. "I made that for you at school! It's me!" I looked at him the same way I had studied the portraits just a short time before. Really looked. He suddenly looked so big. This child that can still look so very small in a group of children older than himself, suddenly looked so very big to me. He looked long and lean. So very different than the one-year-old standing next time still half in her cat costume we hadn't taken off her when our Halloween party had ended just hours before.

When they were both tucked safely in bed, I settled in to my spot on the couch. Bruce had flipped on the baseball game after making sure I wasn't going to miss any programming I had wanted to watch that night. "Not until 9," I told him.

The game played in the background and I let my mind wonder. How remarkable it is the extent at which a child changes in two relatively short years. It's something that crosses my mind quite a bit lately as I watch my two imps play together. I observe Meg explore the world the way only a one-year old can and pull up bits of memory seeing Logan do the same things. It always makes me marvel at how much he's already grown even though the road before him is still so long.

Tonight it also meant, thought, that I had grown quite a bit in the last 3 years. It's different being somebody's mom when it's a doctor visit or a playdate. Somehow being "Logan's mom" at school or amongst his classmates takes away all doubt that you've hit 'real' adult status.


Walk like a crab

He wanted to go for a hike. I reminded him that he was going to walk with me in the CROP Walk today. I explained to him that people had sponsored us, given money, if we promised to walk. So this afternoon we'd turn in our money and walk. He wanted to know where the money would go. I told him it would be used to help people that were hungry and couldn't afford food. I told him that it might help people in some places build a farm. A bit simplistic of an explanation, but the boy is only 3.

We pulled into Church this morning and Logan got excited. He clapped and said "Are we going to the CRAB walk now?"

"Logan, honey, its CROP."

As we left church we asked him to tell Grandma and Papa what we were doing in the afternoon. He giggled, knowing the right answer now, but knowing the point was to tell them his earlier mistake.

"We're going to the CRAB walk!" he said excitedly.

"How do you walk like a crab?" asked Grandma.

So he showed her. He hunched down a bit. He pulled his elbows in, his forearms out and he pinched his fingers to his thumbs repeatedly.

He urged me to bring the umbrella-stroller "in case I get tired." He encouraged me to pack him his Thomas "canteen" of water. He agreed to wear a baseball cap. Safely on our way in the van, Logan asked me where the hungry people lived. I told him that the people helped by the money we and everyone else were raising today lived all over the world. I told him 'his' money might go to Africa. It might go to a local food bank.

"Do you remember the pictures of that very big hurricane?" I asked him. He had seen the satellite images of Katrina and Rita on the Weather Channel at one point. He had seen pictures of the flooding there too. He nodded in the backseat and then remembering that I can't hear a head moving (we don't remind him about my spy mirror) he said yes softly.

"Well some of the money from walks like this went to help the people that were effected by that bad hurricane," I told him.

"Where do they live?" he asked. "What state?" I told him the names of the states. He sat quietly for a block length. Then he said "My money is going to build a farm in Louisana." I told him I was proud of him and his farm.

We got there early. We signed in and placed our stickers on our shirts. The music was blasting already. Entertainment before and after the walk as usual. Logan held out his left arm. He tapping on it with the fingers of his right hand.

I giggled. "What are you doing, cutie?"

He grinned. "I'm playing guitar!" Then he danced. He danced his little preschool butt off. He danced in the midst of a growing crowd that would pass him by and mutter about how adorable he was. He played his version of the air guitar. He had a blast.

When the welcome and prayer was done, we walked. He started out walking. He went the first few yards doing his crab walk and giggling about it. "See, I can crab walk at the CROP walk!" he told me.

A 1/4 mile in he asked for his water. "Excercising makes me thirsty," he explained. I pulled us over to the side of someone's lawn letting the other walkers pass us. I dug in my bag for his cup. I remembered that Logan can't walk and drink at the same time. He meanders and drinks. I told him to sit in the empty stroller I'd been pushing along while he drank. He never got out of it again. Well that's not true, he'd get out if we hit a corner with a curb I couldn't ease him down without popping him out. Then, the moment we hit the other side of the street, he was climbing back in.

It didn't matter though. We had a nice time walking - just the two of us. We talked. We admired the Halloween decorations. We completed our two-mile tour with a few high-fives (between ourselves and others) and a big plastic cup of water.

As we drove on to our post-walk errands, Logan sighed deeply. "I had a great time," he told me. "Can we do the CROP walk next week?" I told him no but we could next year. He replied with "But I want to build more farms!"

Gosh, I'm so proud of him.

Oh is that why?

Daddy was replacing an outlet cover. Logan asked why. (Of course he did.)

"Well, honey, it wasn't working so well with the old one," Daddy explained. Not quite getting into the details. It didn't work as well because we had put in one of those tricked up child-saftey covers that requires a bit of dexterity to use. Not explaining that some plugs are too wide to actually allow you to plug them in properly - the casing never fitting in the space the way it should.

Logan pointed to the exposed outlet, naked without its cover. "Oh! I see why it's broke Daddy! It's upside down!"

And it is. That's not why it wasn't working well, but the outlet is installed upside down compared to every other outlet in our house. We're trying to figure out how he knew that.


Career Aptitude

We finally got to hold the much delayed garage sale today. This thing has been scheduled and rescheduled more times than I can count starting back in May. It wasn't as good as it could have been and I owe that to the damp/windy conditions that started the early morning. Our brightly colored signs kept blowing off the utility poles we attached them to. We'd discover the lack of advertising, retrieve the damp wimpy posterboard and re-hang. A small rush of activity would follow. Then nothing - signs must be down again.

I had mostly baby stuff to sell. . . and I sold not a single piece of it. Well wait, I did sell one pair of Meg's old shoes for some woman's doll and I did sell a bunch of kid toys. But the 80 outfits a friend and I spent hours stuffing into ziploc bags and labeling are still in the bins we had dumped them into just minutes shy of midnight.

That said, I pocketed $60. I sold off the 6 pieces of furniture I had wanted to rid my basement of (one set and one beat up dresser), I sold the old dusty collecting sewing machine that had been banished once I got my "really cool quilt-friendly" machine several years ago. This gets added to the $40 I made selling some of our things at my parents neighborhood garage sale a month ago.

My mom sold off a bit of her stuff - a grand total of $18.

It was Logan who actually raked in the bucks in relative terms. The little hustler made a grand total of $8 selling apple cider, cookies and brownies he made. Seriously, he made them. I was a mere assistant -- a sous chef, if you will. He sat at his Little Tykes picnic table with his cups, cider and baked goods. We had put each individual cookie and brownie in a small ziploc bag.

"How much are those cookies?" asked his first customer (aka Grandma).

"25 dollars," said Logan, not willing to negoiate. We talked him into going with cents. He told his next customer the cookies were 35 cents. Grandma told her they were 10cts. The lady paid of 25.

We hit one of those slow streaks, not yet having identified the trick of the missing signs. Logan saw the man reading the electric meters walking down the street. He yelled out to the guy from his story-reading perch on our front steps. "Hey! You should be a customer!"

The guy turned and laughed and then said "Hey? Is that wicker furniture?"

The next set of people to visit our 'store' of odds and ends didn't get passed the driveway apron before Logan was making his pitch. "Hi! You want to buy these cookies? How about my cider? It's good!"

If they got by him with out treats in their hands, he'd run up and down the display of items making suggestions of things they might like. "What about this? I think you would like stroller!" he says to the old man with no apparent need for a stroller.

People out for an afternoon walk would hear from Logan. "Hey! You should come see my garage sale!" People walking up our neighbor's driveway got pitched for cookie sales. He was relentless. And in the end, he was successful.

It occurred to me that he's got a talent. He'll either grow up to take over the Marketing Great mantle from moi, or he'll join the bane of my existence - the sales department.


Now that is a good question. . .

I'm frazzled. It's been a long week and half with B away. If nothing else the daily rain for six straight days is starting to effect moods. According to the weather station we host in our backyard as B's biggest hobby, we've gotten 3.25 inches of rain in the last 23 hours. Which, of course is nothing compared to parts of the area that got 10 inches of rain in a single day.

"Why is it raining?" says the 3-year old

I start with the scientific answer, at least to extent that I know I'm correct.

True to form he says, "Why?"

"Because God decided the trees and the grass and the lakes and the rivers needed some water," I tell him.

"Oh," he says and gets that look that tells me I'm in trouble. "Doesn't he know he watered them yesterday?"


Verbal inventions won't get you to Vegas

The English language can be a hard nut to crack. There are concepts, for example, that seem to make sense, only as sensical as they may be, they are still wrong. Logan, as a verbose yet still young speaker, sometimes stumbles into this type of thing. These little nuances to his speech make me smile. I know that sooner, rather than later, he'll outgrow it. Just as he has so many of his other verbal idiosyncrasies. Last year Christmas lights really were Christmas lights and not "Santa Lights" as they were when he was 17 months old - something I think he adopted in order to avoid trying to pronounce "Christmas."

He's adopted another little personal adaptation to our language. I get why he does it and I find it incredibly endearing. Here it is used within it's original context:

"I don't want to read that book tonight. We read that yesternight."

Sometimes he latches onto something that he thinks he gets, only he doesn't completely. When I'm done either stifling a laugh or chuckling out loud as I say "Logan, you crack me up!", I try to gently correct his mistake. Of course sometimes, like tonight, I end up throwing my hands in the air and writing it off as a lost cause that will at least make good blog fodder.

Here's what I mean:

We were driving home from Grandma and Papa's house tonight. As has become a recent habit, we detoured a block from home to see some of the inflatable Halloween directions. It was dark already and so I knew that the Winnie the Pooh and Tigger decorations that had been deflated when we passed at twilight a few days ago would indeed be up today. I told Logan this and he told me I was wrong, they weren't up. He knew.

"I bet you a nickel for your piggy bank those decorations are up!" I said.

"No, it's not a nickel, it's a dime." he told me.

Ok fine, I think, apparently he's learned the art of negotiation. Perhaps I should bring him with me to work to discuss a raise. "A dime, huh? Ok, if you're wrong you owe me a dime. If I'm wrong, I owe you a dime."

He laughed heartily. "Silly Mommy! That's not how it goes. If I'm right and the decorations are down, I get a dime. If you're right and they're up I get a nickel."

Nice logic there kiddo. So I correct him. No, that's not how a bet works. If it's up I win the dime! If I'm wrong, you get the dime. He gave me the typical "Why?" I did my best to explain and by the time I had finished we were slowing to a crawl in front of the (Yes indeed!) inflated Winnie and Tigger.

"See?!" I said.

Megan yelled "Yay! Bear!" She clapped happily.

Logan giggled. "Yay! I win! I get a nickel!"

I give up.

Meet my Mountain Goat

Remember the whole "getting grey" thing. The part where I referenced Megan's climbing? Well the photos are back so now I have proof.

First, Megan begins her initial assent:

And then she considers just how high up she must go. She pauses and contemplates whether or not to continue:

But fear not! She has a mean, lean cheering machine on her side. "You can do it Megan! YOU CAN DO IT!"

He cheers some more. She climbs some more. Mom takes one last photo of their adventure and then rushes over to hold Megan's hand for the rest of her hike up the mountain top.


Growing outside yourself

I take pride in the fact that I can point to several nearly life-long friendships. My best friend and I, for example, met on the school bus when we were in Kindergarten. That was 27 years ago. Another incredibly fantastic friend and I met when we were in Brownies together. A smattering of individuals from various stages of my life still play a role in my little section of the universe today.

And then there is my friend N - we met in High School. We were in Western Civ together and passed notes back and forth making fun of our teacher. Truly he was asking for it. The man wore a paper clip on his tie because he was too cheap to buy a tie-clip and too paranoid about getting his tie caught in the engine of his car should he ever need to lean over the open hood of his vehicle. I know this because he told us about it every now and again.

Our friendship had been fairly casual up until our Senior Prom. N had no date. Her 'best friend' had promised to fix her up with a friend of her boyfriend's so N could still go without feeling awkward about going alone. Her best friend failed to produce on the promise. She was heartbroken. I felt awful. I called a male friend of mine and asked him if he'd take her - "I'm not fixing you up. I'm not looking for a blind date. I just want her to get to go. Please?" He agreed. She agreed. We shared a limo.

We spent a lot of time together that summer. We grew closer than we had really ever been throughout our four-year acquaintance. I left for college and she stayed home to commute to the 4-year school she had chosen. We kept in touch. Lots of phone calls and letters. Email was fairly new and neither of us were what you'd call "early adopters."

Sometime during those college years, N met her soul mate. She broke 'dates' with me for last minute dates with him. Her mother urged her to ditch the girlfriends if need be because you don't find a decent man that often. I was hurt by it, but I understood that her approach to the dating world was different than mine. We drifted a part a bit as our lives took different paths. They got engaged. I was asked to be Maid of Honor.

She urged me to bring a date to her wedding. I had no one. She urged me to ask the guy from my office that I talked about all the time. I told her he was too old. She chastised me for it. She got my mom and her mom to gang up on me. I asked him. He agreed to go. We started dating a month before N got married and a year later we were engaged.

With Bruce and I firmly ensconced in couplehood, my friendship seemed on solid ground again. I was ok to go out with because clearly I was no threat of whisking her away to some singles bar - although, if you must know, I don't think I ever set foot in a singles bar...at least not knowingly. Three years into her marriage, one year into mine, N had her daughter. We had just begun trying to start our family. I couldn't image myself that far behind her.

For N, motherhood was something that once again put us into different camps. Her daughter was 10 months old before we met up to go out. That lunch was almost uncomfortable. We didn't seem to have the same ease between us that we once did. She would still come over when we had friends gather for dinner, but we rarely talked.

She got pregnant with her second child. Shortly after she announced her pregnancy, we discovered Logan was on his way. Her son was born in March. Logan arrived in June. Built-in playgroup. We have photos of the boys together from almost birth. In fact, if you ask Logan who his best friend is, he'll tell you its N's daughter and son.

Shortly after we learned I was pregnant for the second time, N discovered she was expecting her third. We'd again give birth within months of each other. Megan arrived in September; N welcomed another son in October. Logan declared little J Meg's baby friend. It all seemed almost too good to be true.

Last week we got together for a playdate/mom time. And as I watched the afternoon unfold it occured to me that perhaps it *is* too good to be true. Big J (the boy that is Logan's age) is incredibly shy. He's almost painfully introverted. It's the same story every time we get together. We arrive at their house and Logan makes his way to J's room to dive into toys that are new to him. Meanwhile J makes his way to the couch to watch TV or to N's side. He won't play unless N or his sister plays. He won't interact. Logan spends much of his time there asking me or N to play with him. And now, playing with Meg.

When they come to our house, J stays glued to his mom. Logan begs him to play - coming up with every conceivable option he can muster. If big sister is around, then perhaps the three of them will disappear and dive into some crazy game of "house." But big sister is quite big now and so very disinterested in playing with two 3 year olds. Who can blame her. And so, J sits by either sister or mother and talks about being tired and not feeling well. N will shrug and mutter something about how excited he'd been to come, just to have it dissipate at the door. I know she's telling the truth. J has answered the phone when I've called before and has asked me if I can bring Logan over to play - the thing is, when we do, he just won't.

And that's become a worry to me. Logan, for now, does notice but doesn't care. To him, J is still his best friend, even if they only high five on the way out the door. But, Logan is also energetic and active and social...albeit with the ability to be shy when he wants to.

When we got into the car this last time, Logan said rather sadly, "Why won't J play with me?" I didn't know what to say and so I just said "I don't know." Then I added, "Maybe he's not feeling well."

And Logan said "He never feels well."

It's happening, I think. Now that Logan is in preschool he's making his own friends. He talks endlessly about the little girl A and the boy R in his class. He missed school last Tuesday and when we arrived on Thursday he was on the look out for both. He couldn't wait to see them again. We're moving to the point his life where I won't be able to make his friends for him any more.

It's not that there is anything wrong with J. He's a delightful, but shy, little boy. He's funny when he feels like letting down his guard. He's empathetic in his own three-year old way. But as they begin to mature, I start to see that he's not someone Logan is connecting to in the way that self-made friendships require.

And with our boys, I fear, so goes our friendship. I anticipate a day when Logan gives me "Oh, Mom! Do we HAVE to go there?" A time when he'd rather be with his friends than with the one I made for him. I remember having 'forced' friends as a child. Kids of my parent's friends - kids I'd not talk to if I didn't have to. We'd play and socialize when our Mom's got together for tea, but if we passed in school it was a polite nod and a "see you around."

I'd like to think that it wouldn't effect the friendship N and I have; but I fear that it will. I look back over our history together and I see those spots where our differences put walls up between us. I see writing on the wall that I'm sad to see.

What hurts about it really, is that those other long-term friendships have endured so many different life choices. Certainly there are friends who I don't see as often as I did back when we were 17-year-old, new drivers with little else to do outside of school and minimum-wage jobs. Yet when we do get together, when we do connect, its as if time hasn't lapsed between us.

My friend from Brownies (Hi Sil! I know you're reading!) has traveled down a different path than I. We don't get together nearly enough between my "mom" status and her "really long commute!" status. We email. We get together now and again. And yet it still seems so natural when we're together, at least for me. It still feels like that perfect pair of old jeans that has been broken in and worn to that unique perfect fit for you.

My friend from Kindergarten lives 5 or 6 hours away. We haven't seen each other in person in over 3 years. We email. We do the occasional phone call. We've got similar roads we travel in life, yet no where near identical. Yet when I need that person to talk to, when I'm ready for a good old fashioned "someone that really gets me" cry or I need to spill a "I can't hold it in anymore!" secret, I call her. I know that even with that distance and that physical absence she's still the best at understanding me.

I had, truth be told, taken N's friendship as something similar even after that little "I've got a man and you don't" hiccup. And then again after the "I'm a mom and you're not" hiatus. Yet now, when I watch the differences in our boys, I start to think that our friendship may not survive the loss of their toddler buddy-dom.

I had expected to make and lose "Mommy-friends." People that you connect with only because you have kids the same age. As your children grow apart, so do you. When I think of it, I can see several that I expect to fall into that group today.

There are others (and you know who you are) that I met through Mom-related stuff but who transcend "my kid plays with your kid." Even if our children decide they would rather eat hot coals than be faced with an afternoon together, we, as women, will remain friends. We're friends that just happen to have children the same age, not women with kids the same age who happen to act like friends.

What makes me sad is that I never expected a existing friend to fall into that first camp. And maybe she won't. We're growing. Our children are growing. And as they continue to grow apart, I'm not confident that the divide won't come between us. I hope I'm proven wrong. Sometimes, I like being wrong.


But usually its awesome being Mom

I had a very long, very mournful post written about the dog's fate. And then I decided it wasn't quite what I wanted to leave out there hanging so I deleted it. It was mournful and I'm not ready to wallow in that space yet. If you read it the brief time it existed, you'll have gotten a peak at the emotional spot I might be in a week from now.

First the important piece - The dog came home from her vet visit.

The reality, however, is that this is most likely a very short reprieve. The vet, after referring to Tasha as a "lemon", basically said that there is nothing they can indentify with certainty in a general exam. They'd need to run test - one of them being a chest X-ray but the X-ray machine was down today. There are a number of things that could be wrong with Tasha and none of them have a great prognosis, especially for a large-breed dog with a long list of health issues and 9 years of living under her belt. In fact, the very problem right now is that there are a number of things with Tasha. Her failing health encompasses several non-connected issues making it near impossible to heal her.

She's currently on antibiotics and pain killers. If she does not improve enough to say she's got a respectable quality of life, then we'll make THE appointment when Bruce returns from his business trip.

So that was the snapshot of the old, now deleted post. I was all weepy when I had finished writing it. I was thinking it'd be a night in a funk where I'd stroke the dog's head and sniff away my tears as I remembered the time we had to carry all 10 pounds of puppy around the park because she decided she'd rather nap than hike the short trail.

Logan is at my parent's for his monthly sleepover. It's just Meg and I. She'd been happily destroying the box of blocks while I had composed before. I had decided to scan in a photo of Tasha as a puppy - one that came with a small story. Megan looked up at the photo now filling the screen and giggled. She turned from the photo to her pet lying, panting on the floor.

"Dog!" she said as she pointed to the computer. She pointed to Tasha and said "Tah-cha." She stared in hard at the puppy photo and said with a sigh that seemed to declare recognition and questioning at once, "Tah-cha!"

I was surprised, really, that she'd connect the puppy photo to the grown animal. Tasha is clearly a Siberian Husky in both, but as a pup she was much more grey. (See the photos. The puppy one is the 'with a story' picture I had on the computer screen. The other is what Tasha looks like all grown up and in her element.)

It made me stop focusing on our pending loss and refocus on my bright, pretty girl. Meg looked at me looking intently at her. She put her head down on my shoulder and nestled in. "Ahhh, mama. Nugg," she said. Nugg, being the way she attempts to say snuggle. Yes, she asks to snuggle.

She does a lot of things. Yesterday I was even teasing Grandma that perhaps we should start working on potty training. Megan had found my diaper bag, dug around in it until she found what she wanted. She came over to me. Threw a diaper my way as she said "Diap!" Then she laid herself down on the floor on her back and held her legs up in the air staring at me expectantly. Hmmm, is that a readiness sign? Oh hush. She's a year old, I'm not potty training. I am just thrilled she's decided cooperating with a diaper change is a better tactic then escaping them!

After the photo identification this evening I moved Megan from my lap at the computer to her booster seat for dinner. I attached her little tray. I gave her a toddler sized fork and spoon. She stabbed her pasta repeatedly until she got several pieces up on the fork. She put the fork in her mouth and pulled off just what she could handle at once. I hadn't quite noticed her do it the first time and she knew it. She threw the fork down on the tray and clapped loudly until she caught my eye. Then she did it again.

After we ate we set about to play. I hid on her in her room. She sought me out yelling "BOO!" when she found me. She loves to play hide-and-seek. When she finds you, she holds up her arms and tries to climb up your leg. As soon as she's in your arms she snuggles in. I put her down this time and told her I was hiding again.

When she entered the room I had selected, she scanned the room with a very serious look on her face. I knew she had found me by the smile that started with her eyes and captured her whole face. She again climbed up on my lap and cuddled. I put her down yet again.

"I'm going to hide again!" I told her. Then I thought about it, we play hide-and-seek often with Logan. This game is how Logan learned to count to 10 before he hit 18 months. I ought to be counting when its just Meg and I too. "Megan, you stay here and count and then find me! I'll say the numbers for you."

I watched her as I walked briskly from the room. She stood still next to the chair I had hidden behind moments before. "1 - 2 - 3..." I said. When I got to ten Meg let out a big squeal and she started to run towards me. I picked up my pace and jetted down to Logan's room. I sat in the dark out in the middle of the room where I knew she could find me despite lack of light.

First she went to her room. "Nope, I'm not in your room, come find me!" I called to her. She stopped moving. She focused on my voice. I figured she'd placed it when I heard her erupt in laughter. She came running right into her brother's room and to me. "BOO MAMA!" she said and she climbed up once more for a great big, celebratory hug.

For such a little girl, Megan knows how to put a big smile on my face. Little things like that remind me why there is nothing quite like being Mom.

Sometimes it sucks being Mom

As often happens when Bruce travels (this time its nearly two full-weeks in Europe) something goes wrong here at home. A year and half ago he headed to Australia on business just as Logan was wrapping up his only-to-date real virus induced fever. The kid was s-i-c-k. With Dad gone no less than a day of his 10 day trip, I, rather pregnant at the time, came down with it. And so did Grandma. It was awful. I was home, alone with an almost two-year old, an unnerving fever, strep throat and pink eye. And morning sickness that refused to leave me in peace the vast majority of my pregnancy.

A month ago when Bruce left for an unplanned visit to his ailing mother, I woke to hear the dog struggling to breathe. I called him the next day and told him I truly had expected to get up and find she had died in the night. But she hadn't. She, instead, returned to what has become her normal - panting as she moves slowly and sleeps often. Snorting as she tries to clear that stuffy nose she lives with constantly. We've known for a while that she's nearing her end but we (as in *he*) hestitate to make that decision "too" soon.

Monday night, suitcase packed and intinary printed, we settled into bed with hopes of an uneventful night out of Megan. We listened to her start to wake and then lull herself to sleep. We drifted. Then we woke to a loud wheezey labored breathing accented with a few snorts and sharp inhales. It sounded like someone choking. It was the dog - sounding just like she did a month ago.

Since that night she's been incredibly lethargic. She very rarely leaves one of her nest-like hideaways around the house. Most of the time she's asleep. She pants, clearly unable to breathe through her nose. She needs to be coaxed outside unless she trails along behind us when we head out. Even then she finds a shady spot to doze in. She's not well.

Bruce asked about her in one of his emails yesterday. He saw how slowly she was moving in clear discomfort. "She's not well" I had written back. We decided, through various emails back and forth, to call the vet. I send my dad an instant message - "Tasha is doing very poorly. I need to get her to the vet and it can't wait for Bruce to get back." I told him about the breathing, the sleeping, the general look of misery, the oozey eye. He wrote back that he'd go with me.

My parents, I know, think that Tasha isn't coming home with us today. I cry as I write it because I don't think she is either. I could be wrong. I thought we were looking at an appointment to put her down two months ago. The vet agreed that the decision was in the short term but didn't think it was a 'must' for the moment. Now it might be. Now we may go in and come back empty handed. Or we may go and come back knowing the day she'll pass.

Either way, Dad's over in Paris planning a day at the Louvre tomorrow and I'm here on my way to the vet.


Gender, safety patrol and stuff like that

My kids seem to be enjoy holiday decorations. This year the area has turned Halloween into Christmas rehearsal. There are inflatables and orange color lights sporadically placed throughout our neighborhood and my parents. We go for long walks hunting for the 'best' displays and gawking at them.

Monday Grandma and the kids found a big blow up witch. She stands before a cauldron looking as if she's cackling an evil cackle. The wooden spoon that is meant to be in her hands flops off to one side. When its breezey the spoon handle bobs around to and fro.

"Look at the witch!" Grandma said. "Isn't she silly!"

"That's not a she-witch," said Logan knowingly. "That's a man-witch." Grandma made the mistake of asking how he could tell. He pointed to the floppy spoon handle and proceeded to tell her which male body part it was.

The next day they passed the same witch. Logan again pronounced it male. This time, however, he had changed his reasoning.

"Well," he said rather matter-of-factly, "That witch has grey hair. My Daddy is a man and he has some grey hair. So it must be a man witch. Men have grey hair not ladies." (Mommy wondered if it was worth telling him that men have grey hair and women have Clariol. However, since Mommy does not color her hair and she didn't want Logan to tell everyone in circle time that she did, she decided to let it slide.)

Yesterday Mommy, Grandma, Logan and Megan took the same walk and passed the same witch. Logan had changed his mind about the blow-up decoration's gender.

"Its a lady," he said. He again pointed to the grey hair. "She has long hair. Men don't have long hair."

We work at being honest and upfront with the kids within the confines of "age appropriate." Sometimes, however, we tend to highlight the 'danger' side of something if we think it'll help with the "obedience factor". For example, Logan is afraid to stray too far from us in public, lest the bad people take him away. He's also incredibly conscience of not walking or riding his bike into the street without an adult next to him to be sure he's not "squished by a car." He knows he can't ride his bike without a helmet both by NJ state law and parental edict. I readily admit these concerns of his are something I've drummed into his head.

There is a child from Logan's preschool class that lives down the street from my parents. The other day this kid came flying down the sidewalk on his razor scooter, down the driveway apron and into the street where he looped around a bit before heading back to his house. He was alone, unaccompanied by an adult who stayed back the 10 or so houses sitting on the front lawn - if that.

Logan saw it. He was on the lawn playing ball with Megan and Grandma. His eyes bugged out of his little three-year old head. Then he yelled "OH MY GOD! And he doesn't even have on a helmet!" He called the boy by name. He scolded him for being in the street. "B! You're going to get squished! GET BACK ON THE SIDEWALK!"

My child forgets nothing. At least nothing he deems worthy of his vault-like memory. I'm praying he forgets this. I can only imagine the conversation that will come up in school today if he doesn't.

When Megan started moving around we started to joke that when our kids were teens, Logan would debate us about curfew and Megan was just going out the window.

We may not even have to wait that long. Suffice it to say that its a damn good thing we had the chain link fence removed last year and replaced with the giant wood fortress. Megan Rose is a girlie girl who loves dresses, dolls, pretty shoes and a great hair brushing. But she's a girlie girl who has fallen in love with her inner mountain-goat. She's a tomboy in MaryJane shoes. She's a dare devil that thinks the word "no" is funny.

Put something off limits and one of two things happens - a melt-down of volcanic proportions or a little girl in a fit of giggles. See her running down the side walk and off on her way for a lazy afternoon stroll....without you. Call her as you take large steps to retrieve her, "Megan Rose, come back here!" She turns, crinkles her nose up so her eyes get squinty (that seems to help the giggles come out) then waves her pudgy baby arm at you "Buh-buh!"

Yeah, that grey hair thing - Logan may be realizing it can show up on Mom heads sooner rather than later.


Well duh. . .

There are people that see my children and say "Where did they get that red hair from?"

Sure, maybe its one of you reading right now and you know what, the vast majority of you are excused because how many of you have really ever seen the whole family (let alone the whole family in person) to know. Right, see, when it's something like that, I get it.

What I don't get is when people see a child in my arms or standing next to me or even in the same room as I'm in and they still can't figure it out. When they look me in the eye and say "Wherever did they get that red hair?" Well, gee, I don't know:

Speaking of idiots. . .

A few weeks ago Megan and I were doing our typical after-church family ritual. We were standing in the sanctuary admiring the stain glass windows. Logan was doing his usual thing - attempting to climb in the pulpit so he could "teach us."

This elderly woman approaches us and starts to wiggle a finger in the vincinity of Megan's nose. Meg does what she normally does in these situations - stares in hard at the woman with the look that says "What the hell is your problem?"

The woman rests her hand on my arm and gives me this rather motherly-I'm-about-to-unload-some-advice-that-will-make-you-want-to-hurl grin. "Don't teach her her letters," she says confidently.

And I, being oh so very eloquent in these situations, return with "Huh?"

She goes on to explain that if I teach Megan her letters then C-A-T will just be C and an A and a T. But *if* I bypass letter learning and teach her letter sounds then C-A-T will be Cah-ah-Tah, cat.

Ah huh, right, I see.

I point to Logan, who has by now, gotten bored of the pulpit and has taken to standing on the sill before one of the great big stained glass windows. "See that other red-head over there?" The woman nods.

"He's mine too. He's 3. He knows all his letters. He learned them early. He also knows all his letter sounds. And he's capable of using both of those skills to sound out words."

She blinked. "He reads?" she said.

"When he feels like it," I said. "You know he *is* three, so we don't press him on it. If he wants to sound out a word, he does. If he wants to be read to, we read."

She said "Oh." Megan pointed to a section of window and said "Purr-bull." She pointed to another and said "Blue." And a third and said "Reh." I said "Yeah, she's not quite as interested in letters right now, she's focused on colors. When she's ready, I think we'll teach her the same way we taught him. It seems to have worked for us."

The woman smiled sweetly. She tugged at Megan's curls. "You know," she said knowingly, "she's a rare breed - a red-head."

I smiled and resisted the urge to say "Oh, really? Wow! I thought she was a brunette!"

She smoothed Meg's hair with her hand and Megan, my 'don't think you can push me around 'cause I'm only one' sassy gal, pushed the old hand away. "When she's in school the kids are going to tease her bad for that hair, but when she grows up, she'll be a knock-out with it."

"Oh. Really?" I said, pretending to be quite confused. "That's funny. I was never teased growing up because of my hair. And I even had a bad perm when the movie Annie came out."

She stared at me. She studied my hair. "Well, her's is red," she said in a voice that seemed to add "you dumb idiot, red. Not brunette. Not blonde. Red!"

Perhaps I should send her the photo of our three red-heads pressed together.


It's 1 am and I should be sleeping

Megan has just entered the "I'm so friggin' tired that girl must be re-sleep trained" zone. One night, what seems to be many moons ago, Megan stood in her crib for less than 3 minutes, got so overwrought and pissed off she quiet literally made herself sick. And from that moment to this one, Mom and Dad were reluctant to let her simmer.

Then tonight Miss Thing got up at 11:30. Daddy got up with her. He offered her some warmed milk. He rocked her. He laid her down. I got up with her at midnight. At 12:30, I slipped back under my covers thinking we were good for the night. At 12:33 am Megan was pissed off again. I went in. I hugged her. I handed her a bear (which quickly got catapulted out of the crib, thank you very much.) I handed her another bear, a doll, a stuffed frog and a squishy animal of undetermined origin because I can only see so well in the night-light lit room with half-opened eyes. I laid her down. She stood right back up. She kicked at the frog. I told her something about loving her but "Please, dear God in Heaven, just go to sleep!"

I walked out.

She shrieked so loud I'm almost surprised our car alarms did not go off. I called back "You're ok. Go to sleep, sweetheart."

I wrote sleeping off. I turned on the PC. I got invovled in blog reading. Meg gave up on protesting (without puking mind you). She got quiet. She lulled. I sat and figured I'd wait a bit lest the squeaky floor boards wake her. She woke anyway and yelled some more, but this time petered out much sooner.

Its 1:30. She's been silent for over 20 minutes. I'm thinking it's safe to return to my bed. If only I weren't so friggin' awake.

Lesson learned: Megan is a girlie-girl in touch with her inner-tomboy and her melodramatic girlie-girl theatrical abilities.

Logan could (and still can) throw one doozy of a tantrum, but nothing he's ever done - not even the full-body meltdown complete with red-faced screaming and rivers of tears - can compare to baby sister. You want to see fireworks, try taking the phone away from her.

"No, honey, the phone is not a toy. Please don't dial 911 again."

Enter 1-year old tantrum that makes the Excorist posessions look tame. Now you can image my evening.