The kid view of holidays

We wade through the remanents of Christmas here at my house - the piles of unwrapped toys that slowly make their way from tree skirt to new resting place, the decorations that will eventually come down, the left-over food in the fridge, the birthday decorations the kids insisted we put up on Christmas Eve. (Including a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday banner because Baby Jesus is a boy so he'll like Thomas.)

And now we prepare for New Year's.

Logan 'got' Santa a few years ago. This year he's asking questions that start my wheels turning fast. "Doesn't Santa get full?"


"He gets cookies at every house. Doesn't he get full?" he asks with one eye partially squinted at me in way that tells me the question is really about him analyzing every itty bitty detail.

"Well, all that hard work makes him very hungry."

"I'm leaving him one cookie. He's going to get fat eating too many at every house."

"Honey, Santa is fat. That's party of his charm."

"Yeah, but I think he needs an apple."

There was the discussion Santa coming to his school: Mommy? Is it the *real* Santa coming to preschool or just a fake one?


And finally, "Why can't I stay up to see Santa on Christmas Eve?"

"Well, Santa is shy," I say with a wink to Dad as we sit in the front seats of the darkened car.

"He wasn't so shy when he talked to me at school," Logan quips back.


Megan caught on to Santa too. She requested a big, fat, squishy red Veggie Tale tomato. Ask her today why she begged Santa for one.

"Because Mommy said no. I tell Santa can bring it."

Mommy said no to a lot of things leading up to Christmas. Apparently Santa hasn't learned that word. (For the record, Grandma bought the tomato and gave it to us to stick it with the rest of the Santa loot.)

Yes, they both "got" Christmas. This year, however, Logan actually 'gets' New Years Eve. He's understood days of the week prior to this. He'd even had an understanding of the months. This year, though, he's got a full appreciation of a year change beyond the realm of his own birthday. To boot, this year he wants to party, baby.

And so we are.

No. The preschooler and the toddler will not welcome the year with the drop of the sparkley ball in Times Square. But they will get party hats, noise makers, confetti and sparkling apple cider in fake champagne glasses before their natural bedtime. I've told Logan to start thinking - during the celebration he's to share one thing that was special during 2006 (his soccer team, he's already decided) and one thing he looks forward to in 2007 (the school bus and Kindergarten.)

It'll be a nice start to a new tradition.


15 years too early

I told Megan that we had to leave to pick Logan up from his youth group program at our church. She was resistant to leaving. She had plans to play Thomas. I made it clear this was not negotiable. She thought about it and then nodded.

“Ok. I’ll drive, you sit in the passenger seat,” she said and headed off to find the car keys.

“Ahh, Meg, you can’t drive,” I said because sometimes you have to state the obvious to a two year old on a mission.

“Why?” she asked.

“Well for starters,” I told her, thinking I had a good angle, “You’re still wearing your diapers.”

You could see the little mental shrug. “Ok. I’m going to use the potty ALL. The. Time.”

For the record when I got her strapped in her car seat and stuck the keys in the ignition myself she cried and cried and cried, “I was going to drive! Bad mommy! I’m going to use the potty all the time and drive!” (And, as a matter of fact, she’s in the bathtub as I type this telling Bruce all about it – I wanted to drive the car and I tell mommy I will use the potty but she still say no!”)

I’m so much in trouble with this one!


4 year old frienship

Today was cuddle-and-story time at preschool. I dropped Meg off at Grandma's and headed over for my date. Logan was quite excited to see me arrive. I was instructed on how to sit (criss-cross-applesauce...or for those that don't have children in a PC world - Indian Style.) Logan snuggled himself onto my lap and leaned back against me.

He turned slightly to look at me and whispered with some measure of excitement, "I asked Mark if I could go to his birthday party and he said yes."

"Oh, ok. Well that's great," I said. I glanced at the row of cubby boxes on the wall but my vantage point wasn't one that allowed a good peak. I assumed I'd find the invite when Logan retrieved his papers at the end of class. I mean surely this came up because the kids were talking about a party - right?

Yet, there was no invite. No sign of any pending party.

We walked out the car - Logan yammering on about this and that. I helped him with his seat belt, climbed into my seat and waited for a pause in his running commentary.

Finally my chance.

"Logan? When is Mark's birthday?"

" I don’t know. I guess he’ll tell me when it is and when I’m supposed to come to his party."


Mushy Mush

If you're easily nauseated by outright parental gushing, a word of caution - proceed at your own risk.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm simply an emotional girl with easily misting eyes; I don't know. Sometimes one of my kids can say something or do something that makes me so proud of them I start to tear up a bit, which is what happened tonight.

Today is Meg's December sleepover. It's also Bruce's big trek to the perfect barber night. This left Logan and on our own - a date night. He picked the where and the when. I had to supply the wallet. We had dinner out together with plans to come home for a rousing Monopoly match and a good video before bed. We got sidetracked at the mall.

First it was to peek at Santa. Not speak to him, just peek at him. We peeked. Then it was chocolate at the forbidden zone (aka, peanut laden). And then it was the Disney store. I reminded Logan that he had recently spent the generous porition of his helping bucket money on a gift he'd donate through the church school program this weekend. He nodded. I pointed out the Toys for Tots table and asked if he wanted to get someone else a toy this Christmas. He nodded again and clapped.

The Disney store presented lots of nice options and so we rooted through their giant white plush winter animals marked down generously. Logan picked out the winner - a big, soft, cuddly white Heffalump. We paid. He marched back through the ball - both hands on the oversized Disney bag. He was determined to do this himself. When we got to the donation bin, Logan reached inside the bag, removed the prize and placed it gingerly in the bin with a giant smile. The two volunteers exhaled deeply and told him he was sweet. They offered him a candy cane. He took it with a nod and thanked them.

As we walked away he took my hand, clutching his reward tightly in the other hand. "You know what?" he asked me. I responded appropriately - What?

"My favorite part of Christmas is giving gifts to other people," he said with the sort of complete sincerity 4 year olds have yet to figure out how to fake. He went on to explain why he picked the toy he did - it was soft and squishy. Certain to make someone really happy and so therefore perfect for this sort of thing.

I was so proud. I *am* so proud. And I'm just a little teary eyed.


What would she say to John? and other kid stuff

We have the original Little People Nativity.

Of course that's not as antique as it sounds up there in italics. We got ours about 5 years ago when you could only order it from the catalog and the animals were not yet the new "touchy-feely" variety. We have no shepards quaking or drummer boys drumming. Just a few wise men and a new family with a angel to watch over them all.

It's been a favorite toy in our house from it's debut, in large part because it only appears in December each year.

Megan has spent a great deal of time playing with this thing since it came upstairs a few weeks ago. Sometimes she replaces the wise men for Little People kids dressed as Easter Bunnies and (LP styled)Dinosaurs.

We egg her on. After all, the baby did come for all and not just a select few.

Tonight, as we huddled with our collective runny/stuffy noses under quilts and watched the Grinch steal Christmas yet again, Megan dragged out a camel and a handful of wise men.
She'd place each of the two kings she was toting around upon the camel's back and take them for walks. Until she got bored of that. Then she retrieved the poor baby laying in a manger. She pet him with one finger as gently as a two-year old can. Then she tilted her head to one side and said, "Come on. You have to take a bath Baby Jesus."
Luckily the Grinch and Max distracted her before she filled a bowl up with water from the water cooler in the kitchen.
In other holiday goings on, Santa's going to get this mom in trouble. We were shopping for a book at small shop. Megan spied the tomato from the Veggie Tales. Mind you, Megan has never actually SEEN the Veggie Tales unless they've shown a video or two at church that I didn't know about. She just knew this big, red, stuffed tomato was soft and squishy....and something she did not already have.
"Mommy, I want the tomato," she said to me quite sweetly.
"Honey, no. I'm not buying you a stuffed Veggie Tale that you'll play with today and then forget about tomorrow. Besides, it's so close to Christmas and you're going to get so many neat things."
"I want the Veggie!" she wailed.
And I stood firm.
When we got home she was still pouting. I reminded her again about Christmas and the lovely gifts that awaited her. She didn't care. Instead she's launched a new mantra -- one that continues a week later:
"I want tomato but Mommy say no. Santa will bring me Veggie Tale!"

Damn it.
At least I'm not the only one she's harping on. We took their soon-to-be cousin (pending a family wedding) Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon. Three kids - 9, 4, 2 - and me in the massive chaos that was Target. I know.
As we stood in line waiting to check out, Megan spied a small stuffed elephant with a tag around it's neck - the tag is where you're supposed to put a gift card.
Stuffed? Check.
Cute? Check.
Not already in inventory? Check.
Megan wailed, "Elephant! I want that! Can Santa bring it to me?" (Now, frankly folks, Santa's all done with her shopping and she's not buying another thing no matter how cute the kid is.)
Instead cousin-to-be-G stepped in. She decided to get it for Megan as her Christmas present. "But you have to wait for Christmas," she said to Megan as she put it up on the belt. I didn't bother trying to explain the whole "two-year-olds-lack-patience" problem to the 9-year old.
Megan saw her new toy-in-waiting when we got back to our house. She asked. G said no. Megan flew into full pout mode: “G say no. I can not have my elephant. Bad G.”
To prevent future outbreaks of toddler scolding big kid, the cousin decided to hide the elephant at our house. Logan suggested they hide it where he has Grandma’s gift hidden. G decided to put it near Logan’s laundry basket. Long story not so short – Megan found it tonight. We won’t telling her cousin.
Movie review? Happy Feet - Logan loved it and is now on a real "don't liter" kick. Megan says she liked it but she's judging the total of 20 minutes she sat still (scattered throughout the film, of course.) She will also tell you that when Daddy took her out of the theatre the fourth time he would not let her return again.
"Daddy say no I can not go back in. Bad Daddy not let me see Happy Feets."
Unless you catch on her on happy upswing in moods. Then she'll say "I saw Happy Feets Pang-in in the feeture"
Logan saw his first movie at 29 months old -- The Polar Express. He did not flinch the entire time except when he was clapping wildly in the right places. Megan, on the other hand, clearly *not* ready for the cinema.
Speaking of the boy. . .his teacher is working on a 'good citizens' unit at the moment. They've started a "Good Behavior Chain." Each extraordinary good deed is considered for the day's link. (Being preschool everyone is going to end up with a link sooner or later.) Logan loves this and has instituted his own chain at home -- for him.
When I pick the kids up on my work days, they both have a tendency to talk. Without. Pause. At. All. No. Stopping. Ever. On these days I sometimes have to work at talking over them saying repeatedly, "Logan. Logan. Stop. Talking. Listen. Shhhh....."

Except today I could not talk over him because it made the throat hurt too much. I told him this. He got quite and then started talking again after a pause too short for me to say much more.
"I think when we get home, I need to get your water so your throat might feel better." he said. He's thinking of what we do for him in the morning when he wakes up with a dry mouth/dry sore throat. The water always helps.
As soon as we got in the house he ran for the kitchen, dug out his favorite plastic Diego depicting cup and added water from the water cooler. He handed it to me (with about a sip worth of water in it - haste never equates to full cups.)
The hand off complete he eyed me thoughtfully and said “Ok, do I get a link on my chain for this?”

Cough. Hack. Sneeze.

The girl is sick - her nose runneth and runneth....and runneth.

The boy is getting sick. He coughs at night and occasionally races his sister to the tissue box.

The husband is sick. Sore throat he says. Tired.

The mom is sick. Mack truck ran her over. Lack of sleep compounds the problem. Did I mention the girl spent most of last night either awake and complaining or asleep and complaining?

Send chicken soup. Send much caffeine. Send lovely little videos that mesmerise children for hours. Send Grandma.

Ahh, yes. Grandma is coming. She is taking the children. Mom is going to work. Some how I think work will be more restful. Hey, I'm not new here.


That little big thing

Something fairly little has gotten in my way of blogging this week. It goes like this: I want to write about something in this outlet - I NEED to write it in some outlet - but I can't. That's the little part.

The big part - well what I want to write about is fairly big I guess. It does not impact me directly, per se. But it does impact someone close to me. I'm worried this person is making a mistake -- the sort of mistake that alters the rest of your life. I just can't tell him that. And since I can't tell him that and since I never know who's going to read this blog...well I can't blog about it either.

I've spent a lot of time mulling this. Loads of time biting my tongue and smiling sweetly. I'll keep doing it. And I'll keep wishing I could write about it while not writing about it.


Shameless Plug

So there's this bloggity friend of mine that had a pretty neat idea. First, let me say, that outside of this pretty neat idea, Nicole of Sitting Still is one of those bloggers that make you thankful you took the time to poke around sites beyond your 'inner circle.' Seriously, if it was possible to hold a coffee and/or drinks mom-a-thon across the world wide web, she's the sort of person I'd want to include. I know we'd have a great time.

So anyway, she has this great idea - a political blog. But not just a political blog, mind you, a political blog centering around the voices of an important voting block: The Soccer Mom. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. That mini-van driving, carpooling, thinking-all-the-same block of voters either side of an election likes to woo. Except we don't all think alike (and some of us don't even have mini-vans.)

This blog, The Soccer Mom Vote, gathers many different voices from this demographic in one place. Each day a different team member waxes poetically (or debates fervently, depending on your view) on the political or social issue of her chosing. And who is that wearing Jersey #2 (and therefore posting on the 2nd of each month)? Why it's me.

First post goes up tomorrow. It's nothing earth shattering. I'm sure neither political party will be quaking in their boots in the aftermath. But it's a start.

If you're blog hopping around, come and say hi. You don't even have to wait until tomorrow. Go say hi to some of the other roster members now. Great stuff showing up there already.


Kid at heart

Some people spend their "Friday after" knee deep in crazed shoppers trying to get the best price on whatever hits their must-have lists for the holidays. Not me. At least not this year. (I do confess to storming the doors of a particular craft store at 5am one year so I could use a 60% off coupon on a particular wooden train set only to return two hours later to use the 50% off coupon on smiley faced trains for said set.)

No, this year I spent "Black Friday" at a children's museum in upstate NY near the in-laws. We spent last year much the same way and with good cause. The moment we mentioned a potential return visit my now four-year old began to shot off a long list of questions relating to whether the things he remembered (quite accurately) from last year would still be there. Luckily the answer was yes, plus a whole lot more.

I'm not sure which of us enjoyed the visit most - it's a toss up between me and the two people under 4 feet tall that are in my charge. I do know that Logan did not enjoy my favorite excitement as much as Meg and I did. He had this notion that butterflies actually LANDING on you was quite horrific and not nearly as much as fun as knocking over giant chess pieces in the Giant's (of Jack and the Beantalk fame) playroom.

I (as well as the two other adults and the two-year old) found the butterfly garden to be nothing short of amazing. My only disappointment is that those two beautiful bright blue insects did not stay still long enough for a photo. And that's fine. Perhaps I'm just a glutton. I did get photos like this (click to view larger image):


Obligatory Thankful post

We leave tomorrow for the annual pligramage (pun intended of course) to the in-laws'. It'll be...well it'll be. It's a long ride. It's two young children. It's, oh never mind.

I am thankful, however, that I have two children healthy enough and articulate enough to complain on that long ride. I won't enjoy their "are we there yet?" ritual, but I rejoice in their ability to say it. ;)

I am thankful for the inlaws because they mean I have the husband.

I am thankful for my own health. For my family. I am thankful for the chance to sit and take it all in. For the reminder that I need to step back and take a deep breathe long enough to appreciate the things I've been gifted with.

I am thankful for the challenges because they make who I am. I am thankful for the easy roads I've stumbled upon because they give me a rest.

I am thankful for those I've yet to meet for they represent tomorrow's adventure. I am thankful for those I no longer see because their impact is still felt. I am thankful for the things it's sometimes hard to be thankful for because they help me appreciate what *is* easy to be thankful for. They also help me learn and grow.

Happy Thanksgiving.


out shape or old

There's this tree in our back yard that I've hated for a very long time. It's an evergreen - long and scraggly with feathery green fingers instead of pine needles. Late in spring I noticed it wasn't doing well. It had two primary trunks and every branch growing off the back trunk was dead.

No green. Just brown.

And then, as spring passed into summer the brown spread. With fall, came bare branches.

I don't normally nag the spouse but sometimes he just asks for it. This tree was one of those occasions. I asked him to cut it down. I nagged. I reminded. I nagged some more. I gave up. Life just got in the way and when we did have free time, other household and yard tasks demanded our attention. (Did I tell you my subconscience knack for getting rid of things I hate is to break them? The garage door last year, the storm door this year...and then the outside light fixture that I managed to break off the base of a lightbulb in?)

The boy and I headed out back today as the girl napped. I started pulling up the annual flower beds despite the few live bloosoms that clung to them. I stood back and admired the raw earth thinking how sometimes the empty bed in the crisp air felt so clean and fresh - ready and waiting for a new beginning. Then I thought of that dead ugly hated tree. The boy wanted to help - because he thinks he thinks he's much older than he is. His job, easily enough, was to stand a safe distance away and cheer me on.

I retrieved a saw. Then an ax. And hacked away. I sawed away. I worked. I swore silently under my breathe realizing why my dad used to have "under the sink language" when doing various household projects. I slung the ax again. I heard some give. I grabbed hold of a branch about as high up as I could reach while flat footed. I pulled. I changed angles and pulled again. Snap. I got better grip, a new angle and I pulled with all my might. Down came the tree.

I put the tools away in the garage home. The boy hung onto a lower branch and "helped" me drag the monster dead trunk to the front yard. It's up to the husband to discard of the thing. I have no idea what he'll do with it but I'm sure having it in his way will prompt him to do it faster than it took him to cut it down.

I felt good for about 2 minutes.

Then it hit me. I was hot. Very. Very. Hot.

I was winded. At least I was with each swing of the ax.

And my arm is killing me.

Years ago a heavy dose of spreadsheet work for a catalog I was developing started the twinges. The right hand. The repetitive stress injury (rsi). It got bad. It got better. It went a very long time without recurring. I lost the wrist brace. I forgot the way it hurt. But lately it's been back. Perhaps the height of the desk in the new office or the time spent working/playing/emailing/blogging at home. I don't know. What I do know is that using an ax clearly is not 'RSI' friendly.

I'm trying to make myself feel better about this panting for air and nursing the sore arm by believing anyone weilding an ax on an old tree would feel the same - at least anyone with an old 'mouse-related' injury. Yet I'm not sure that being relatively out of shape (despite the regular spin class attendance) or the fact that I'm not 23 any more (which would have been the last time I slung an ax, I think) wasn't a contributing factor. Then again, I'm not sure I care why it hurts. Instead I will take my sore forearm, stop trying to close my fingers into a fist (because I can't at the moment), locate the ibruprophen (nicknamed Vitamin I in our house) and convince the boy child to remain quiet long enough for me to take a hot shower while his sister finishes up her nap.

Wish me luck.


Thanks Stuart Smalley

I've had a few conversations about happiness lately. With different people. Completely independent of each other and always initiated by the other person. How to be happy. Where to find happy. What to do get happy.

Is this a hot topic in anyone else's world?

The talk always lands at the same spot. Me saying gently, "You know what. The *only* way you're ever going to be really happy is when you stop looking outside yourself to find it. Happiness grows inside out."

And then I wonder where my big mirror is so I can turn to it with a huge, loving smile and purr, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."


So much to say

It's been one of those weekends - the kind where you run around a lot and get almost nothing done. Nothing. Almost.

Instead I spent it relishing the final vestiages of warm temperatures mixed with the crisp smells and sounds of dying leaves beneath the feet. I mean really, who can get anything done when you've got this:


And now we remember. . .

The old bossman had a bad habit. He'd toss out a project with a deadline. Very clearly and emphatically let you know that you had best meet that deadline. Then the resulting draft would sit in his inbox for untold lengths of time. Out of the blue one day you'd get an email with multiple puncuation marks. (As in "Where is my draft???????") To which I would usually reply, "Draft is attached. Please refer to my email below dated xx/xx/xxxx for details."

Yeah, because really I can be discretely bitchy. (Or not so discrete perhaps.)

Well yesterday I get another email from the old place. The old bossman is missing a draft. Or more specifically he's fired off an email in the "what happened to this?????" vein. I spend time last night finding it. I send it with a reference to the original draft date.

Are you ready?

I submitted the original draft for editing in April. APRIL! Seven months have gone by from a piece I did (by the deadline) and when it's deemed important enough to review.

At least I get to bill for the search. Not to mention I've been reminded once again why I left in the first place.


I'm back!

The trip was fantastic. The shopping was divine (and prolific!) The bonding time was perfect and the photo taking opportunities to die for.

I have nothing else to say. I'm tired. My poor little shopaholic feet are aching. My "lugged lot of bags around" shoulders are sore and my head yearns for it's pillow.

Here's a sample of the photos I snapped in between bleeding my wallet dry:

The rest of the photos can be viewed here: Lancaster Trip Album


Buy me some quilts and shoo fly pie

Truth? I've never eaten Shoo Fly Pie. The heavy smell of molasses makes it seem so very unappealing to me.

That's not the point however.

The point is that this week marks my 10th annual "girl" weekend. Me. Mom. And inn of our choosing. No house to clean. No children to chase. No dinner to prepare.

Nothing to do but shop and languish in the complete and utter lack of responibility for three days.

For the last 8 years we've been going to the same place - Lancaster, PA. The last 6 years we've stayed at the same Bed and Breakfast. This year we're returning to the Amish land, but we've selected a new inn. . .one we're 'testing' to see if it's "Megan appropriate." Next year she will join us in our girlie bliss. (So much for the 'no children to chase.)

So there you go my bloggity buds. I will not be around to blog hop and commiserate. I will be forking over my cash for crafty things to scatter about my house and a vast array of items purchased at the very, very big outlet mall. I will be wearing real "dress-up" clothes that no one can smear runny nose or remenmants of mac-and-cheese on. I will be sleeping late. I will be having adult conversation that no one can interrupt with "But she took my toy!" I will have someone else clear the table without looking for praise in doing so. (Tip, yes, pack on the spousal back no.)

And then, after two nights and three days I will return home very content and very happy to be wrapped up in three sets of loving arms. I will laugh (not cringe) at the "What did you bring me back?" that all expectant sets of hands will be pulling for. I will settle in amongst my pile of bags and locate the different "I was thinking of you" gifts and I will feel quite loved and estactic to be right back home.

And I will be refreshed.

And then the next day I will begin planning/saving for next year's trip.


What the?

So I'm going a bridal registry looking for Christmas gift ideas for the couple awaiting nuptials. And I'm hoping you can help me with something my dear friends in the computer.

What the *hell* does one do with this: Stainless Steel Chocolate Fountain

My apologies to the person reading this that owns said $50 fountain of chocolate delight (although perhaps when you got it, it was still over $100.) I'm sure it's lovely the few times a year we opt to pig out on fondue.


Our town has a very big tradition -- the very big Halloween parade. It's probably safe to say that anyone that spent any of their childhood here has marched in that parade at least once. I know I marched several times. Once as laundry on a clothes line; it was my mother's (aka troop leader) way of keeping a gaggle of young girls in one place for a few miles. We all wore Dad's dress shirts and they attached us to a rope with clothes pins.

We've not taken the kids to a parade yet. Too much chaos. The folding chairs have been curbside for almost a week saving places for the big night. You can't near a curb unless you're ready to arrive with your coffee and a bagel Tuesday morning. The parade, mind you, is after sunset.

With this behemouth tradition comes a little unconventialism. We trick-or-treat the day before Halloween. Yes, my kids will be out mooching candy tomorrow afternoon. And tonight, tonight I sit with the front door open and the front lights blazing in an attempt to ward off mischief nights miscreants. I'd comment further on that but I don't want to jinx myself.

If I'm a little a head of myself here, perhaps now you'll understand why. Happy Halloween!


Highs and lows

I haven't really mentioned it here before. I don't know why actually. I just didn't. There's this big thing going on at a particular company. It's one of those things that leads to lay-offs. Not only that, but based on what we know, chances are good - like 99.9% good - that one of those dissolved jobs will belong to the primary "breadwinner" of our family. Yeah, that sort of sucks.

There is worry, of course, but no panic yet. Last week we worked together on polishing his resume. We both take time scanning job boards and want ads. Today one of those led to a preliminary phone interview with a search firm for a job that is a) within the same distance my dear husband is currently commuting, b) within the right salary range and c)exactly the sort of work he's got experience doing. It's a great opportunity really. At least it sounds like it. The initial talk went well and a 2nd talk is now being scheduled. Keep all appendages crossed.


As hinted at in the last post, a member of my family is planning a wedding. My head hurts and never wants to see another brick wall. Enough said.


The future-aunt came into a few hand-me down Halloween costumes. My little imps were already outfitted for the holiday but they never turn down a chance to 'dress-up.' Am I the only one that finds the "unicorn riding a horse" thing hysterical?


If your ears were here. . .

If your ears were here you would have heard:

Me: Ok then, what is 8+3?
Logan: (pausing a split second as he holds up his little four-year old hands, then sighing with annoyance) Mommy! I do not have 11 fingers.

Me: Megan, what are you doing?
Megan: (who had managed to get her-2-year-old-self up on the potty seat without assistance) I am concentrating.

Daddy: Can I go see "Santa Clause 3" with you too?
Logan: Ok, but you have to sit in the back row.
Daddy: Where will you be sitting?
Logan: Not in the back row.
(For the record he is going with Grandma. She tends to be his 'movie date.')

Grandma: When Uncle S gets married to Miss J, she'll be your Aunt J.
Megan: Mommy steps on ants and spiders.

While watching one of the most mind numbing children's DVD's I've ever seen - Tiny Planets - featuring the aliens Bing, Bong and assorted "Flockers"

Daddy: Ahh, those crazy Mother Flockers.



I you read my pouting last night, you'd know I was starting to freak a little about the boy's Halloween costume. Not all of it - just that darn vest.

Logan can be quite particular when he wants to be. The vest, you see, could not be any old plain tannish looking vest. It had to have pockets. It had to have the little patch on it just like Diego's - the animal rescuer patch with Mama and Baby Jaguar. These were exact specifications that any short-cutting around would surely lead to one very unhappy boy come Friday morning.

I had already looked in nearly every store I could think of. I even, I shudder to admit it, dragged Megan into that big monster store that I despise - the mega-store with that starts with "W". (Now, now, now. I know some of you love that place. I also understand that in some places, the big monster W place is nice and tidy. The ones near us, however, are not. They are chaos spilling across multiple aisles. The smells, the disorder, the nasty people slamming carts around - none of it makes me happy. And friends, normally I am a *very* happy shopper.

So we left that place empty handed. We left the store with the giant K on it too. We left the sporting good store without the hunting vest. We went back to the place that tends to suck my wallet dry. Target. I really do love Target.

I had looked there already and I honestly wasn't going in to look for this vest. I had a list of other 'must gets' that I knew I could find there. We picked out my new winter gloves. We headed to the kid's department to find Megan a pair of mittens. And there it was.

Tucked on the end-cap of a rack near the main aisle was my sanity. A three-piece, regular, wear it every day Diego outfit. . .complete with *the* vest. THE vest, people. The real vest with the pockets *AND* the animal rescuer patch. There it was. Ripe for the taking. So I took it.

Creativity and cost savings be damned. We're talking about sanity here.

Of course, when all is said and done I saved myself about a total of $2 by not getting the actual costume. After you total up the 3 piece clothing set and the orange plush (but usable) Rescue Pack, I didn't pay much less than I would have with the actual costume. The difference, however, is the outfit can be worn again and again and again...and the one piece - vest, shirt, pants all printed on the same cheesey nylon-ish fabric - could not be worn again.

Logan will be home from school soon. I will show him my find. He will be estatic. We will try it on. In my excitement I grabbed a 5T. Sometimes he is. Sometimes he is not. We will see how big it is. We will assume the pants - very normal, non-stamped with any signs of branding pants - will sit in his closet until he grows into them...but grow into them he will. He will wear the long-sleeve Diego laden shirt at will. He will have his vest with pockets and patch.

And I. I will get another night off without having to curse at my sewing machine.

This is a good thing. It is a very good thing.


Running out of time

Let's be honest. I have several creative bones in my body. I can't blame this procrastination on the lack of right brain abilities.

The thing is, you see. . .well. . .oh all right. I'm scared.

I've sewn before - quilts, pillows, various household sort of things. Even a place mat or two and maybe a table runner. Yet I've never sewn a thing that didn't come with a pattern or at least a book of instructions.

But now it's nearly Halloween and I'm pretty much screwed.

It was about a month and half ago. Logan was sitting on the floor with a brown padded envelope tossed aside near him. It had the long-sleeve t-shirt he had picked otu as a gift for Meg's birthday. Tucked neatly inside the envelope, as all good "mail order" marketers know to do, was a new catalog of yet more things we could buy. Logan was flipping through it with a crayon in his hand - a crayon to circle his great big wish list.

He got to the Halloween costumes.

"I have an idea!" he said quite excitedly. "For Halloween this year I can be Diego and Megan can be Dora [the Explorer]!"

"Oh, wow. Yeah. That'd be fun," I said quite convincingly - honestly happy this meant he was giving up whatever not such fun for Mommy idea he had just prior to this one.

"See, we can buy our costumes here!" he said, still in that giddy 4-year old way of his.

"Ahh, yeah, see, I'm not going to spend that much on your oufits for Halloween," I said, eye balling the prices. "What if we make them ourselves."

I wasn't thinking really. I mean really, how hard could this be? The boy has navy blue shorts and a light blue shirt already. I simply had to pick up the bright orange shorts and hot-pink t-shirt off a clearnance rack for Meg's outfit. I even solved the hair problem with brown temporary hair color. We already had a 'real' purple Dora Backpack. I even managed to locate the matching orange Rescue Pack for my little Diego.

But that damn vest.

How in the world am I going to make that vest?

I keep hoping I can cheat and find something close enough in a store. I went to the sporting goods store around the corner and looked for a child's hunting vest. (And people, if you're wondering, they did indeed have one. The blind-you-it's-so-bright orange and camoflague, however, is so very *not* our favorite Animal Rescuer Diego.)

The fabric, if you must know, is sitting in a bag in my room. A yard of cheap muslin. Waiting for me to be brave. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And "Diego's" school Halloween party is Friday. "Please come in costume" they say.

Awww, crap.


Meggielocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time there was a blue bear covered in snowflakes. Logan the Lionhearted was bequeathed the small squishy-bellied bear as a thank you from Queen Mommy's co-worker. He had helped the Queen and her cohort complete a rather mudane task - then demanded $500 for it. He got the bear instead from the lady that thought he was quite funny

This bear was originally tossed aside with distain. It was too girlie. It was too babyish. It was not fit for a noble and wise "big boy." Then the mischievous Princess Meggielocks got a hold of the bear. Suddenly Snowy Bear earned "special" status. He was off-limits to the oft-sticky handed princess.

This did not make the sticky-handed princess very happy.

And so, she took her pleas for equality to her Fairy Grandmother, who rectified the situation on their very next trip to the craft store. The result? A pink, soft bear the same size and shape as Snowy.

All was right with the world.

Until one day, "Teddy" went missing.

They looked high. They looked low. They looked left and right. In and out. Behind and in front. Teddy was gone.

Meggielocks was most upset. Queen Mommy was to, fearing set backs in nice things like sleep - Teddy had become quite the comfort object at bed time. The Fairy Grandmother promised Meggielocks a new bear the very next day.

When the sun came up and craft stores again opened, the Fairy Grandmother, Logan the Lionhearted and Princess Meggielocks set off to secure a new and much cleaner Teddy. At the same time, Queen Mommy located a store of the same chain near her office - Teddy was, after all, a limited edition bear. Can't be too careful.

The sun set with two bears in Meggielocks possesion. One drying in the sink after a good cleaning (she had attempted to clean the noble Grandpa's car with it) and the other nestled close to her as she drifted off to sleep.

Many weeks went by. Or so it seemed.

One afternoon, the sun already low in the sky, Logan the Lionhearted drove a small toy car under a big heavy loveseat in the family's multi-purpose room. The Queen pulled back the loveseat and let the brave boy venture into the unknown. As he was poking around for his car, the queen found a small cuddlesome pink bear. Princess Meggielocks had been playing with Teddy moments before in that very room. The queen assumed she had tossed Ted on the top edge of the loveseat and that he had fallen to pending doom when the seat had been pulled out. Queen Mommy tossed the bear back into the playroom floor behind her and didn't think twice about it.

Moments later Princess Meggielocks was hugging two pink bears tight. "I found him!" she kept saying over and over.

Queen Mommy said something wise, because isn't she always wise, about that second bear being the one that was most recently cycled into 'cleaned' status. Logan the Lionhearted shook his head.

"No Mommy," he said with such reverence. "The bear you just cleaned is still up high in the shower where you put him to drip dry."

So the Queen ventured down the hall to see if the lionhearted lad was correct.

And he was.

Tonight, the fair-haired princess is nestled into bed with her three bears - newly minted (thanks to the sometimes off-her-rocker Queen) "Inky, Pinky, and Stinky."

Princess Meggielocks is quite happy.

And so is the Queen.


How about now?

The medium that is the Internet is quite a paradox. On one hand it opens up whole new worlds to us - people and concepts that before would be out of reach are suddenly at our finger tips. On the other hand, it can also be a secretive place - intentionally or not.

If you knew me in person and we got together on a fairly regular basis, you'd see me in my good and my bad. You'd get to know the parts of me that I disclose and you'd get an idea for the parts I close off. Here though, you only see what I'm willing to show you. Sure, you can draw conclusions based on that. You probably have a pretty good idea of who I am from what you read here, if you read often enough. Yet, there are still things that might surprise you simply because you are wholly dependent on me to feed you information and I've, undoubtedly, over looked a few inconsquential details. Or perhaps I've remained silent on things I'd not want people in my 'brick and mortar' world to stumble upon one day.

It's not a direct tie-in, but that one certain wireless company and it's annoying little ad-persona that runs through the wild blue yonder shouting into a phone, "Can you hear me now?" sometimes makes me think of this bloggity-conundrum. When I write, are you hearing *me* or the person you paint in your mind's eye?

And does it really matter?

I am a strong believer that all things evetually come out in the wash. Regardless of what you hide or what you don't, people tend to figure out who you are - in an abstract sense - sooner or later. If I forget this, my children have a way of reminding me.


I've got nothing

I've not been the best 'keep it current' blogger lately. That didn't mean a lot back when it was just me reading these little peaks into my insanity. Now, however, a few of you gluttons for punishment like to visit on a fairly regular basis. I like having the company, but sometimes it makes me feel guilty for avoiding the 'create posts' screen.

Avoiding may be a harsh word. I'm not going out of my way not to pontificate. I merely struggle to find anything compelling me to write it. I'll be honest, I like the comments. I like the feedback. I like knowing I'm not talking to myself all the time, because frankly, with two little kids and a grown man in the house sometimes it feels that way.

Yet frankly I've always written as a way to lighten my load. There are things that rattle around in my head, sometimes even in my soul, that beg to be released. This has been my outlet to do so. My lack of blog writing (and subsequently blog reading to a degree since they seem to happen in tandem for me. Write a little - read a little) has little to do with concerns that I have nothing 'good enough' to write. It has everything to do with having little demanding to be written.

Certainly I could fill the space with something for my beloved friends inside the computer. Do you really, however, want to read about the extreme glee and pride I experienced today because my feisty little two-year old went nearly 8 full hours in underwear before creating a puddle on my floor? That included multiple "fruitful" potty breaks. See, aren't you glad I shared?

I could share how I'm jealous of the adorable photos so many are capturing at apple orchards and pumpkin patches. Ok, granted, we got a few cute ones this weekend. However, I was really hoping to snag one of both kids looking "Christmas card perfect." Instead I got the following. Of course, I'm biased. I tend to think they're adorable any time they are not channeling demonic beings. This just wasn't that "we are having fun just standing together and smiling for you" type photo I was going for.


Crisp. Colors. Change. It's all good.

When pressed to pick my favorite season, I tend to muddle through a response that makes me sound like politcian courting both sides of the coin. Usually I say that I prefer the autumn and spring best. Except that I love winter holidays and I really do enjoy summer days at the boardwalk, in the pool, long stretches of sunlight. . .no school buses on my commute. You get the idea.

Lately, my favorite season is autumn. Namely because we're in the midst of it. I've begun to drag my sweaters from their storage boxes. I pulled up a bed of impatients and replaecd them with mums. (I know that photo is barely focused, but I love it just the same.) I even picked the giant pumpkin to display on the front step.

At one point I thought that perhaps it was as simple as I didn't have a favorite. And ok, so yes, that's true. Yet I've now come to realize why.

I'm in possession of a restless soul that grows easily bored.

There are certain things in my world that don't ever grow tiresome - mostly people. Relationships, if you're lucky and wise, evolve constantly thus avoiding the "staleness" that wreaks havoc.

Yet other things in my path. . .they are not safe. Sometimes small modifications soothe me. I can paint the kitchen and rearrange the living room to calm my restless itch over the house. I can clean the collection of jackets and toys from the van to make it seem almost new. I can even take long breaks from hobbies and then reacquaint myself with them as a means to shake things up.

Mother Nature gets me. She shakes up the seasons to help my spirit. I do love summer but after several months my garden loses it's appeal. The last crop of tomatoes often sits unpicked waiting for me to muster the motivation to harvest. The attire in my closet and drawers starts to seem drab and unexciting. I begin to long for something new and different. The routines, the rituals, it all begins to wear thin. I start to yearn for something different.

And then autumn enters.

The closet changes over. The garden begs to be pulled out. The flower beds rotate into something new. Nature starts the great process of metamorphsis and the nights arrive earlier. Suddenly it's a new ball game and I'm revitalized by it.



This morning I rolled into the gas station and filled the tank at $2.15/gallon. This excites me very much.

Of course the fact that it excites me depresses me. I have already become that person that bores today's youthful drivers with tales of time long ago when gas cost less than $1.

Who knew I'd get to that point in my 30s?

Tonight I completed the first draft of the first project as true outside consultant for the old job. I'm still gloating.

Speaking of jobs, have I said here how much I love the new one? Well, if not, I love my new job.

It's absolutely wonderful to be working with sane people again.

This weekend we plan on heading to the orchard to go apple picking. Take this as your weekend forecast. If you live anywhere within driving distance of me, it will be unexpectedly hot and humid. No matter when we go apple picking, we end up in the orchard on an incredibly hot (unseasonably hot) day.

Up until recently, Logan would select 'special' one-on-one lunches out at a limited number of places. I convinced him to try Applebee's one day as a change of pace. It is now the only place he'll agree to without a debate. In fact, if he sees the road side sign he begs us to take him there.

The week after our exquisite mother-son excursion, Grandma attempted to take him elsewhere to lunch. He put up quite a fight. She asked him why this one place. Cleary my four-year old has a future as a food critic.

He said, "It has a delicious menu, wonderful atmosphere and it's quite educational because of that little book and crayons they give you. Besides, it has a soccer ball on the wall."

In response to comments on the last post - the day got much better and the girl-child's runny nose is 'there' but not awful.

Also in response to the previous post, Nicole commented: He tried to install an IM program?!

Umm, well yeah. He did.

The computer in Logan's room arrived via a shuffle of PCs that included an inherited machine, a new purchase that lead to another hand-me-down and a failure to upgrade after one of those hand-me downs. It's actually a bit complicated if you try to keep track of who got what, but long story short: he got someone else's old machine.

MOST of the content was cleaned off. Certain child friendly programs remained or where added. Among these, although he has no Internet access in his room, was a web browser. That package apparently included a certain company's instant message package.

Logan found the icon for it as he was looking for another game to play. He decided to IM Grandma - which he actually does do on our family PC as we sit with him. When he double clicked the icon the install shield launched. When I found him he was about to start step two of the install. He knew exactly what he was doing.

"I want to send Grandma a message so I'm putting the program on the computer."

This is what I get for loading new software with him on my lap.

Oh and because I keep forgetting to reveal the answer I will do so now - that door in a previous post is actually part of an old bunker at a decommisioned military base.

I'd bother to spell and grammar check this (ok, who am I kidding, I rarely do either. I would have, however, checked that I wrote what I meant to) but frankly, it's playoff season and I really must leave you now so I can watch the Yanks. Gosh I love October ball. (Except, that it does erase my guilty pleasure. I admit here and now that I am so quite hooked on Prison Break. Why? I don't know. Bruce thinks it has something to do with good looking bad boys. I deny that in its entirety.


Chugga your choo choo

It started off looking like one of *those* days. Any parent that has survived 'sick, cranky, toddler' says knows exactly what I'm talking about. It's a tantrum because Mom is not talented enough to butter french toast AND hold squirmy 2-year old at the same time. It's a heightened tantrum because the initial fit has cause a runny nose flood. It's one of those days when you stop and realize that you have no prayer of a shower, let alone clean clothes that you didn't sleep in the night before -- at least not without a fit ensuing.

That is, unless, you have a preschooler in the house that is worshiped by the aforementioned toddler. If you do and if he's not also dealing with a bad-mood inducing head cold, you may have hope.

You might lean over and whisper quietly, "Can you do me a favor." You'd tell him about the game he could play on the computer in his room with his sister perched at his side. He's nod and smile. He'd understand a) the game is fun, b) it's nice to help Mommy sometimes.

You'd head down to help set-up the game, but the PC would already be turned on. You'd help locate the right disk. He'd launch the game. (You'd make a quick dash to get the camera of course.) You'd find him later trying to install an instant messaging program so he could send love notes to his grandmother. You'd remind him he does not have Internet access in his room. He'd grouch about that a little.

They'd keep playing even though you were out and in their way. The toddler would be over her general crank and malaise. She'd be tackling her brother and begging him for hugs. They'd settle in around the train table. She'd be sweetly pushing Thomas around the tracks. He'd start bouncing Percy - loud, banging hops.




She'd stop moving. She'd look at him and shake her head. She'd start to wrinkle her nose in the way she does when she's about to scold him good.

"No! Woden Daniel. You have to chugga your choo choo!"

Then you'd leave the room because there was no controlling your laughter. No chance at all.



It is said, at least in the business world, that no one is irreplaceable. I don't disagree with this statement. As much an asset as one maybe to a company, there is always someone that can step in and assume responsbility. Perhaps it's not quite the same. They may do the job differently, but, the job does get done.

My former boss was a very big believer in this theory.

It's been two months since I left.

The req to fill my former job is still open. The tasks I did are piece-mealed out to various invididuals...some of them high priced consultants from the outside world.

I got an urgent call late last week. They want a quote from me - a price - to take on specific project work because they simply can't go any further without getting it done.

The irony, of course, is had they left me alone in my little cocoon of part-time employment this work would have been completed already and at less cost. I must now, to be fair to myself, as well as other clients I've taken on from time to time, charge fair market price for the services they seek. And frankly, that equates to more than what they'd have paid me in hourly rate wages to do the same work three months ago.

Is it wrong that this makes me giggle?


Holding Court

Megan's aunt got her a small chest of princess shoes (complete with crown) for her birthday. It arrived on our door step this evening along with the Disney Princess Memory game. Logan likes playing the Memory game even if it is with the "Silly Girlie Princesses." Megan, however, didn't even notice it was there. She was all about the shoes. We made the mistake of telling her the wing chair in the corner of the living room was her throne. Logan explained that princesses get to make the rules. Megan demanded her "magic wand" (although I never did find the right one - oh come on, you know all good princesses have at least three!) and her "fetters." She then held court right through bath time.

Logan, on the other hand quite frustrated that Her Royal Highness kept switching shoes, asked, "Why doesn't she just wear ONE pair?!"

I said simply, "Honey, she's a girl. She needs variety."

He's still quite perplexed.



I had a few things swirling in my brain but frankly they are all pretty much drowned out by the fuzz of cold medicine. I really hate the whole sore throat clogged up nose thing.

Instead of an attempt at wit or insightful banter, I give you the chance to be witty and insightful for me. Come on, humor the girl clinging to the box of Tyelnol Severe Head Cold and the steamy cup of tea.

I took this picture on our walk this weekend. So, tell me, where does the door lead?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(this photo is here care of PhotoBucket because Blogger is being a pain in...well never mind.)



The boys in our house our fasincated by lighthouses. It's how they often spend their special "Father-Son" time -- touring lighthouses. Sometimes they let Megan and I tag along. Yesterday was one of those days.

Living at the coast it's easy to find a lighthouse or two within a relatively short drive. This time our mission was to tour Twin Lights of Navesink. A deep brown monster of an edifice with two lit towers. One is square, the other is octoganal.

In the base of the building lies a small museum. Megan was quickly fascinated by the reflective lense on display. (As you can see in the photo.) She looked at the way it made small rainbows. She admired the faint image of herself. She seemed to even listen to the volunteer guide that explained how the lense helped magnify the light. She ran, gleefully, with her brother to see the larger than life full-sized lense in the small annexed building. They both admired it's glowing magic.

From there we headed out around the bend in the road to Sandy Hook. Near the end of this sliver of island that houses both a State Park beach and a decommissioned military base (Fort Hood), stands the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It's magestic and awe-inspiring...and closed to visitors under 48 inches tall. Logan is still bemoaning this fact. Yet they had fun inspite of it. We toured bunker remains and batteries. We walked in the cool shade of old trees and hard concrete slab walls. Above all else, we simply enjoyed the silliness of bad knock knock jokes and the constant chatter of two young kids.

It was growing late in the afternoon. Time to move home. We had two options for our drive - the big road with tolls but no traffic lights or the slightly smaller road with lights and beach traffic that ran along the coast. We opted for the scenic route. We stopped at one last lighthouse, a small brick house with a light a top .

This small house is only open for visits on a limited basis. This, was not one of those occasions. Instead we took time out to walk along the boards. There were no games at this particular spot. No rides or arcades. Just fresh ocean breezes and plenty of room to run. And run they did.

We took a break along the walk way in a little gazebo boasting two park benches - one sitting just ahead of the other. The kids scrambled up on the back bench with Dad. I quietly moved to the bench ahead of them. It made for a better spot to take their photo than sitting next to them.

I watched them for a few minutes before speaking. The beach always makes me a bit introspective - maybe it's the sound of the pounding waves or the smell of the salt air. Something about it tends to turn my thoughts inward than outward like a spiritual revival.

I thought about those lighthouses. I looked at my children. A conversation I had had earlier in the week came back to me in bits and pieces. How does one effectively grow a child with strong values and deep rooted beliefs? How does one create a good citizen? I had shrugged a little. I have ideas. I have notions put to practice but I have no live proof that it sticks for a lifetime. My two, will giving, caring, compassionate souls today are still so young. Who knows what really comes tomorrow.

I said something to that effect only a bit more vaguely, or succiently depending on your interpretation. I had it and then I replied - you need to model it. You need to "live" it. You need to BE it. You have to speak it, you have to tell them sure. But most importantly you need to be that beacon, that lighthouse in the dark, to show them the way.

This came to me again, the comparison between large lighted tower on the shore to parenting, when I saw that photo of Megan peering deep into the lense. Her reflection is so faint. Almost an aberration. You need to look close to see her small face in the large glass.

That's parenting. When a child leaves our pervue and starts to live life on their own, we are that reflection. As a child cleaves tight to their own self - defining their lives as they see fit, there is still that reflection we've left behind in their hearts, in their souls, in the back of their minds. It's always there and hopefully it's illuminating.


The shame of it (aka Not that I'm Bitter)

It happened a week or two ago. See, I'm so heartbroken I can't even bear to remember the details.

Last year, or maybe it's even longer than that now, yes, it might be closer to a year and a half, I left a local mom's group. It's a long story with oodles of sordid details. Let's just say this - those gals were nuts. Logan was getting ready to start school at the time. Meg was too young to care if she had play dates or not. I had no 'need' for the constant catty bickering and backstabbing. (And THAT was just the moms!)

Recently, however, I've been thinking that Megan could stand a few fellow toddlers in her world. Something outside the realm of our once-a-week-paid-for Mom and me class and her new Sunday School class. I headed back to the web site where I had found my old group. I looked for one like it but not it. I found one. I joined.

I found half the fruit-loops that caused me to leave the original group entrenched in this new one. I considered running as fast as possible.

But I didn't.

One day I open my mailbox to find the new group was shut down without notice. I had an invite to join yet another new group -- one formed as a way to purge itself of members that engaged in catty infighting. I had high hopes the fruit-loops had been let go. I joined (again) and shared insights about local pizza joints and whether or not we'd make it to the story time at the library next week.

My hopes were dashed. Fruit Loops showed up.

And then suddenly, as quickly as I had been invited, I was unsubbed.

Now, unless people found offense to my suggestion that the Pizza Joint was better than Carlos, I have no idea what happened. Ok, I take that back. I do have an idea.

Fruit loops.

One of them is mad at me because I refused to gossip with her about a friend of mine. Our girls are in the same Gymboree class. She has yet to admit I'm there. Another is still mad at me for telling the old group that I didn't think we were the appropriate format for constant advertising of home businesses (just as she was widing up a pitch for her new at-home business) and a third is riding along with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

So there you have it. I have offically been booted out of a mom's group. I am a playgroup pariah.

I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud. What do you think?



Happy Birthday little girl. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. That is "Big Girl." She's quite insistant lately. Although, according to her brother she does not meet the basic requirements of 'big.'

We don't always agree with Logan's pronouncement however. Megan Rose is a BIG spitfire. She's quite big in feistiness. She's got a large amount of love to share and a bucket full of giggles.

She's stubborn. We have no idea where this comes from.

She's a bit bossy. Ok a lot bossy. Again - big question mark. (See me be facetious?)

She's incredibly compassionate and innately mothering. All her brother needs to do is stub his toe and she's all over him with hugs and "That's ok Woden. I here."

She's got a great sense of humor. Her eyes literally twinkle as she teases us...for real.

She's confident and yet she's shy at times.

She's got a memory that gets us in trouble and a set of smarts that gets us into even more.

She's creative and daring. She's girlie right down to the feather boa she requested and the dress up shoes she scuffs around in. She's a tom-boy that can scale the slides with the best of them. She adventurous.

She's talktive. She's musical. She's not even quite in her sleep. She's rarely still. Always on the go and always exploring. She's a parrot with a big brother she follows around and worships. She's his shadow and he's usually happy to have her.

So are we.



Eight years ago I said something that seems so amazingly naive in retrospect.

I was working for a public relations firm at the time. The person I interfaced with at my largest client had become a friend of mine. Still is. She was born and raised in Idaho. She was currently living in Utah. She had never been to New York City. She was afraid of heights.

When you want to meet with members of the technology press, you can easily set up clusters of meetings by heading to three major US cities - San Francisco/San Jose, Boston and New York. We were in Manhattan for the New York leg of our press tour. Her and I in the "Big City" with time on our hands between appointments.

She had a list of places her grandmother told her she simply could not miss while in town. Grandma wanted her to see the Statue of Liberty. *That* we did not have time to do. We'd never make it over to the little island and back. Instead we agreed on seeing it from a far. We headed downtown.

When the cab dropped us off on Manhattan's southern tip, she decided she'd never get a good view of Lady Liberty unless she pushed down her fears and went somewhere high. We got online at the Trade Center - we'd go to the top. I didn't tell her of it's past. I simply rode the elevator up with her and held on to her hand for support as she stood next to the great windows on the upper level admiring the views.

She was happy to set her feet on the ground again. She stopped a moment in the courtyard between the two towers and did what I had told her earlier would make her look as much the part a tourist as she really was - she looked up and exhaled deeply in awe. I did too.

I told her then. "They tried to bring these down. Can you imagine?" I said softly.

"Here? That was here? Those bombs underground? That was here?" she said. I regretted saying something. She was clearly uneasy being there.

I didn't think much about my response. I felt it. I felt safe and secure and I told her why - "But they already tried. Don't you see. They already tried. They're not going to try it again. They'll try something new."

Three years later I heard a plane struck the Trade Center through the interoffice grapevine. I couldn't fathom it being on purpose. I rationalized it being a small prop plane with a novice pilot losing control. They told me of the second. That one somehow made more sense - a plane getting lost in the smoke caused by the fire of the first.

I couldn't get online. Every web site of any sort of news outlet was unaccessible - overloaded with people desperate for news. I couldn't get a phone line out. Lines were jammed. I finally pulled up a baseball bulletin board I sometimes frequented. A college student in Alabama and a former New Yorker living in New England began feeding the rest of us news. They'd transcribe reports from the television so we could feel not so in the dark.

When Alabama typed "commerical airline" into his update I began to feel sick to my stomach. When New England typed "hijacked" I wanted to throw up. I read "Pentagon hit" and I walked away from the computer.

My mind raced. My stomach churned. I wanted to call my friend in Utah and tell her I lied. Tell her I was so very ignorant of evil back then. Instead I went out back for fresh air - only the air was not fresh.

I was in an office building an hour and half south of New York by car yet you could see the skyline from the beach. The air to the northeast was filling with black smoke. You could smell the fires. I'm not sure that's something I'll ever forget.

My office mates and I headed back in - most of us. We left behind a group of women crying and praying off to the side of the building. The rest of us couldn't stand to see or smell the evidence. Somehow seeing the details on TV was bad but not quite the same as seeing the real thing somewhat removed.

One of our accounts was pushing a news feed into our customer support center. We all huddled in and around that space staring at the three screens broadcasting CNN. Tears flowed without inhibition. People muttered prayers. Our president walked around in a trance saying over and over, "I was supposed to be there today. I was supposed to be there. Oh. Oh Thank God they canceled. It could have been me."

I do not personally know anyone that died that day. I know lots of people that could have or should have been there. I do know lots of people that did lose a loved one. In fact I'm about to email one of them to let her know I'm thinking of her...and him. I know people that were injured - the effects of which still linger for some.

It's been 5 years since four planes erased my ignorance. Five years and yet to this day I can not drive up the New Jersey Turnpike without a lump in my throat because until September 11, 2001, the skyline I knew always had two giant Towers at the southern end of it. I always turn to my husband and say quietly, "It still doesn't look like New York to me."

And he, who was a boy when those big monstrosities were erected nods, "I remember the city without them and then with them...and I agree."

I look at my children and I realize they'll never see the same hole in the skyline and pray it's something they only ever have to read in history books. Yet I'm not that naive any more.


The illustrated prattle

Don't you just love a mom with a camera?

Logan headed back to school this week. This makes me very happy because I finally stop answering the question, "Is it time yet? Can I go to school?" Now I can start answering, "How many more sleeps until I see Mrs. D?" I really hope he never loses this passion for the classroom. (If you're wondering, as Daddy had, what in the world Logan is doing with his hands - that'd be two thumbs up for school.)

The very next day we began life as a soccer family. Logan had a blast for the first 35 minutes - 30 of instruction and 5 of a game. Then the coach decided a few other kids needed a turn on the field and Logan had to wait on the sidelines until he was called back in. The first bench warming went well enough. The second? Not so much. Grandma is blaming the boy on the team that cried the entire hour we were there. She thinks he set the mood. Grandma's are fun.

Fresh (or not so fresh as the case may be) off of soccer, the family headed over to the party store. We had balloons to retrieve and a party to throw. Although her birthday is Tuesday, Meg is pretty much done with the whole 'year older' thing now that her little party and that pile of gifts is behind her. (We blame the rotten quality of the photo on the fact that someone - I'm not saying who - forget to tell the photographer he had to manually open the flash in order for it to go off inside.)

If you ask Megan how old she is you might be surprised. "I am eight," she could say with utter distain that you dare ask a lady her age.

One day, however, she surprised Grandma and told a lady at the store her real age. Grandma, in some bit of shock perhaps, said, "I thought you were eight? That's what you usually say."

Megan sighed and said, "No, I just two. I *want* to be eight."

I am so sunk when she's a teenager, aren't I?

The Uncle and Aunt-in-waiting gave Megan a certificate to Build-A-Bear. She's been there once before and she loved it. When we suggested a certificate to The Uncle he rolled his eyes. We reminded him he didn't have to go make a bear, just send Megan to do so.

It's apparently an immature male response. Logan wanted to buy Meg's Ribbit (the frog she made last time we went) an outfit as a birthday gift. Grandma took him in. He picked out exactly what would look good, helped pay and then handed Grandma the bag to carry.

"I can't be seen with this!" he said in horror. "THAT is a girl store."

About a month ago Megan started picking out outfits from a catalog for "Baby" - her American Girl Bitty Baby. She found the one she wanted and told her grandmother to buy that. After correcting the behavior that would have sent Miss Manners into convulsions, we created the "birthday list."

The list grew and included specifically assigned items. Grandma had two - Baby's outfit and a blue dress. Grandma, being a good spoiling sort of Grandma, looked high and low for a blue dress. Finding none she settled on a demin skirt and a shirt that honestly and perfectly described Megan.

We told her once what it said. Meg smiled. We dressed her in it today for her very first day of 'real' Sunday School. She walked into her two year-old class for crafts and stories. She came home carrying both her worksheet and her project in her hands. She refused to change out of her little outfit for our trip to make her dog (and get it's bed, and it's puppy...and it's bowl.) I stuck her in a tree out front to take her annual black-and-white photo.

"Do you know what that shirt says?" I asked her as she began to quip a series of humorous and yet twerpy remarks. I switched over to the digital camera for a few 'just because I can' photos.

"Yes," she said with a big smile. "My shirt says Cute and Sassy. That's me! I cute. I sassy."


The flu would have been better. . .

On Saturday Megan ate a peanut-butter chip or two as we baked.

A few moments later Megan threw up a peanut-butter chip or two. Then she emptied her stomach some more and sported a nice set of big red splotches all over her stomach and chest.

She got a special ride with Mommy to the doctor's office where they handed down the diagnosis: potential allergic reaction.

Today we got the referral. We called the allergist. We saw the allergist.

It *is* a peanut allergy.

Frankly, I would have preferred she had simply picked up the stomach virus her uncle and grandmother seem to be sharing lately.

I know that *we* can manage this. I know we can read labels and watch what we give her. I'm actually quite ok with that. I'm even ok with managing her non-allergic brother's disappointment in the asbsence of some of his old stand-bys. For the time being, anyway, he seems to understand the severity of it. I have every confidence that her grandparents will cooperate fully with the list of restrictions - the obvious and not so obvious. They've already begun to clear out certain potential threats.

It is, let me be honest, the other people I worry about. It's the relatives and aquaintences that are caviler and don't quite 'get' that "may contain peanuts" is as a bad as "Get your 100% nothing but peanut here." It's the other kids she'll run into when she's entering school. It's the young teacher she'll have beginning this week in Sunday School. It's the meal I didn't prepare.

There is a chance she could outgrow it. I'm not clinging to that possibility since it's a statisically low one. There's also a chance a future reaction from some potential accidental ingestion requires use of the EpiPen that now sits in my purse. There is that chance that we'll be rushing to the ER after I've stabbed her leg with that thing. That doesn't scare me for some reason. What scares me is that she'll have that reaction and someone that doesn't think fast enough to give her the injection will be there not reacting in time.

Shortly after picking Logan up at Grandma's I began to explain to him what Megan had to cope with.

He first said to me, "But pollen bothers me."

"Yes it does Logan, but the worst that happens is you get a runny nose and maybe you get a cold that medicine makes better."

He remembered Megan vomiting all over this weekend. He asked if peanuts made her belly sick. I told him it did but it might also make her throat swell up and make it hard to breathe. He thought a moment and then said very seriously, "But if she can’t breathe she could die."

I agreed with him. "Yes she could, but that's why we're going to get her some very special medicine to help her if she ever reacts that badly." We talked about all the things that could cause her problems. He nodded in earnest as he agreed to give up certain occasional treats and limit particular stables (the boy could LIVE on nothing but PB without the J sandwiches!)

When we walked into the pharmacy to pick up the Epi-pens, he walked a wide berth around the candy aisle. An older woman was at the register as we waited on line. She was buying these store brand bags of candy – buy one get one free. She asked Logan if he was getting any candy. He told her no. She said something about the sale and how he should.

He glared at her and said a bit more polietly that I wanted to at that moment, "I am not getting candy because I want to help my sister. She is allergic to peanuts and so I am helping her not want candy. Please don’t tell her about it."

I love that kid. I really do.


Another reason to love 'em

Logan's long been fascinated by the night sky. As an infant there would be nights he'd simply not settle down. The only thing that would settle his crying jag and eventually lull him to sleep would be bringing him outside. Hot night, cold night. Didn't matter. We'd be out there in our yard with a infant still softly sobbing until the momentum of his fit subsided. He'd tip back his fuzzy little head and just stare.

As the nights began to arrive earlier sometime after that first birthday we started to include the night sky into our bed time routine. Bath. PJs. Stories. Good Night Moon for real. New moon or cloudy nights really messed things up.

This ritual introduced astronomical words to Logan's vocabulary - he knew planets. He knew certain constellations. As he grew he expanded the depth of both his fascination and his knowledge. The point is, although he's only 4 years old, Logan has been quite attached to the idea of 9 planets for at least the last 3 years. Seriously. And quite frankly he loves Pluto.

When the vote came down and outer space changed recently we didn't tell him right away. "It'd confuse him," said Dad, "No need to break it to him now."

"This is Logan," I said. "He's going to fight with the first teacher that tells him there are only 8 planets. We need to start weaning him off Pluto now."

Days passed. Almost a week. We told him.

He said simply, "That's silly. Why'd they go and do that. When I grow up I'm going to be a space scientist first so I can change Pluto back into a planet."

Go right ahead young man. Knock your socks off.

Tonight, as we pulled up the covers and shut off the lights Logan started with his nightly routine of questions. "How long does it take light to get from the sun to the moon and then to Pluto?"

Really, this is not something Mommy knows. I, aching to sit down and relax, flippantly said, "A very long time." He glared at me through the darkness. I added, "How about we look it up tomorrow?"

It was my turn to ask a question. "If you discover a planet some day what would you name it?"

He didn't even think. "Pluto!" he said with conviction. "And then I'm going to tell those silly people Pluto's moon Charon is really a planet too."


Fountain of Youth

Although my bug bitten legs would not agree, Saturday was a nice evening. An old friend came over for dinner. We used to get together so our "babies" could play - mine had bright orange-red yarn hair. Her's had brown yarn. I'm not sure about her's, buy my Cabbage Patch Kid is still around. Meg likes to drag it from place to place by it's ratty looking pig-tails.

We sat chatting in the yard - perhaps we were giddy on the fumes of our non-effective bug spray (although perhaps spreading it on one's legs might lend more protection from said bites then forgetting about one's legs.) It was like old times - times in green heavy canvas tents hung on the wooden frames of Girl Scout camps where we'd huddle with two other giddy girls and giggle under the glow of flashlights.

"You know I'm going to end up having to write this in my blog," I had said. She knew. (Now, you all take a moment to wave to her because she is currently shaking her head at me and laughing as she reads this. Go on. I'll wait. Wave to her.)

It wasn't the evening I wanted to muse on. It was one particular topic of conversation. There we were, two grown women in our early (but inching closer to 'mid') 30s and both of us wondering exactly when it was that we'd feel like grown-ups.

I had expected to feel more grown-up when I got a 'real' job. Nope. I thought maybe when I got married. Nada. Certainly children would make me feel all grown-up. And yet, it hasn't. At least not completely.

Sure, I have adult responsibilities. I have bills. I pay them. I have young charges to keep in one relative piece. I raise them. I have a career. I have a house with a mortgage that has my name on it -- my married name.

And yet, I still don't feel like a "grown-up."

As a kid, grown-ups were "old." They were 30. They were 40. They were my people my parents' age. Here I am now -- my parents' "age", at least what they were when I was a child musing about what constituted grown-up. The funny thing is my perception has changed. Grown-ups are *still* people my parents age, only now that has shifted to '50' or '60.' I am some sort of stuck-in between adult that's not done growing.

It's true, of course, None of us, no matter what the calender says we should be, are ever truly grown-up then. We never stop growing, evolving. . .adapting. We are in a perpetual state of growing-up. This is something I never knew way back then. I expected 'grown-up' to feel so very different than what being "adult" feels like.

There are times, as my friend and I discussed, when we step back and think "Wow, holy crap, I'm an adult." It's not when we're paying bills or settling into our desks in our offices. No. it's when we're standing on fences, glaring at those loud, obnoxious "kids" in the yard behind us and telling them to keep that racket down so some of us could sleep because hell, we have jobs to go to in the morning.

I do feel decidely grown-up when a young new hire giggles about blowing her first ever real paycheck on new designer duds because really, she's still at home with her parents and can afford to go crazy with what seems to be so very much money at that moment. I grin at her and think of how very far that same check wouldn't go if she had a home to finance and children to feed. I feel a bit of envy for her zeal. I also, however, feel a bit smug knowing I have what she does not - that loving group of arms to greet her when she gets home at night - the big ones to hold her up when she needs it and the little ones to bolster her spirits.

I feel rather grown-up, but only briefly, when someone uses the term "your son/your daughter." Or, when someone refers to me as Mrs. [last name], Logan/Megan's Mom, or, better yet, Ma'am. Those grown-up feelings though are only fleeting because in the moment the words fade from the air, their weight fades too.

Sometimes, as that feeling of 'grown-upness" dissipates it leaves behind this sense of being young and over my head - a kid dressing up in her mother's clothes, playing in the make-up bin. I used to like to put on my mother's only remaining vestiage of the 60's. Her knee high, white stretch leather go-go boots with the big chunk heel. I could barely walk in them but I loved to try.

Today, my daughter, all 23 months of her, likes to pull my rarely worn heels from the closet. She pushes her small feet into them - slipping deep down into the leather toes. She stands next to me in the little master bathroom and begs, "Do my eyes please. Color my eyes too!" I use the side of my finger to gently brush across her closed, expectant lids, fooling her into thinking she's all made-up. She smiles. She twirls. "I look like mommy!" she coos and she shuffles off down the hall way in her blue satin and white netted princess tutu pulled up high over her shorts - her pig-tails bobbing up and down as she goes.

And in that moment, she does look like me - the me that's not yet grown-up deep inside. I hope the two of us keep that little girl within us forever.


Offically a demographic

It's offical. I am now a real, honest to goodness soccer mom from the mini-van right down to the kid in cleats.

Earlier this summer we heard that the local soccer clubs had instructional leagues for the preschool set. Bruce and I agreed. When the kids got old enough to really be 'joining' things it was going to be their choice, not ours. We let it slide. Didn't even mention it. We didn't want him to think we were urging him or 'hinting.' When he came to us asking to play, we'd discuss it.

He plays soccer in the backyard with Dad. Up and down the backyard. Passing the ball. Kicking the ball. Sometimes guarding the net. He loves it.

One recent day he said to me, quite matter of factly, "I want to play soccer."

And I said, quite naively, "With Daddy after dinner or with me now?"

He looked at me like I had four heads. "I do want to play with you and Daddy, but I mean I want to play on a team with kids my age."

I was dumbstruck. Huh? Team? Kids? Organized sports? You're 4. I mean really? You want a team?

The best I could do in response was, "Oh yeah? When?"

He shrugged. "When I'm a bit older and they have teams for me."

It's been nagging at me. Those last words he left me with - when they have teams for me. They do, I wanted to say, but I didn't.

I thought we were past the registration deadline. I didn't want to get his hopes up. I finally got online today to check. Deadline was extended to August 31st. We conferred. We agreed. I sat him down and asked if he really wanted to play. He beamed. I mean the boy practically glowed.

"Yes!" he said with the largest smile I may have ever seen on his face. The smile so big traces of it continued to linger around his mouth all day long. All. Day. Long. The boy is giddy with anticipation. He even giggled.

So I did it. I signed him up. His first game is September 9th. He has 20 minutes of instruction and 20 minutes of a skirmage amongst his team mates. 10 little 4 year old boys out to have fun and learn how to kick a ball without nailing each other in the shins. . .or something like that.

He even gets a uniform. And cleats. And shin guards.

Did I mention he's still giddy?

Did I mention *I* am? I'm so excited for him. My little trigger finger is practically itching to get all the photos of him in uniform...and in action.

I'm a soccer mom now. And some how it's yet to make me gag.