Having children is sometimes like holding a mirror up to yourself. My son appears to be developing a healthy sarcastic sense of humor. I asked one of my best friends where he might have inherited such a trait. She flipped back "Gee, I wonder."

Think she's pointing a finger at me?

When I mothered only one child, I'm not sure I would have labeled my son "easy." Now that I've had the chance to see his sister in toddler-action, I'm telling you that boy is a cake-walk.

In one recent day, the little girl managed to burn her finger AND fall down two stone slab steps landing flat faced on concrete. The same day she also knocked a toy wooden ironing board on herself. The pediatrician, luckily, understands the reckless abandon under which some toddlers operate.

The previously made offer to evolve my current career path was re-issued in a informal way today. 5 years ago I'd have jumped at it the first time they asked. Today things are different. Today my job is just that - it's what I do to pay the bills. Being able to be *with* my kids more than I'm not with them is my priority. Not the best move for an upward-and-onward career path but incredibly more satisfying.

Recently I re-connected with two old friends. The first was my senior prom date. No, not old flame, just old friend. We have a colorful history and then things just went cold for some unexplained reason. Yet we've been exchanging emails again and it's wonderful to have such a good, old friend around again.

The other was my roommate my freshman year of college. We were better friends when we weren't sharing a room. In fact, she eventually ended up in a single while I went on to live in a big, fantastic suite in a castle (I kid you not) with four other gals. I took that to me it was her not me. The thing is now that we're all grown-up, I think we've got a chance at being better friends today than we ever did 12+ years ago. Amazing what a little time will do.


For the birds

Winter is getting in one good last hurrah, but I've got photographic proof it won't last long. Here are the photos from our bird invasion last week:

And then there's the robin:


In like a lion

March arrives next week and so I'm going to assume today's outside performances are simply an early arrival of the spring lion. It's not windy here. It's down right blustery. Cold. Howling. Strong. Bluster.

Yesterday, however, the yards on our block were loaded with birds. Not just any birds (well ok, some of them were "just any" birds) but robins. I always know spring is knocking at the door when:

1. my tulip and daffodil bulbs start to appear - check.
2. pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training - check (and a big YIPEE!)
3. my yard fills up with red-breasted robins poking around for grub (literally and figuratively, of course) - check!

Logan noticed them first. "MOM! Look, there are thousands of birds out there. What's up with that?" I couldn't answer him before he had moved on. He was pulling at my hand. "Can you take me a picture of the robins?"

I tried. I really did. Yet a preschooler and a toddler hardly make it easy to photograph wildlife. "Mama! Bird!" Megan kept yelling louder and louder until I'd reply, "Yes, birds, I see."

I gave up on the idea of capturing a ground level robin on film. I even gave up on the one that kept landing and fleeing the swing set in our yard. Swapping out lenses for something 'bigger', I zoomed in as tight as I could on a bird high up in the trees next door to us. I think I managed two shots for Logan - neither of them will be "close-ups."

Megan, now used to Papa's digital camera and our quirky-hardly-working video camera, pulled at my arm. She wanted me to flip the camera around. "Baby?" She asked, trying to see the photograph I'd just taken.

"No, Meg. I took a picture of birds and really, you can't see it until the lady at the store makes it into a picture." I tried to explain it to her.

Logan looked at me with that look that says I'm in some sort of trouble. "I could see the bird if that was Papa's camera," he said somewhat miffed with me.

Megan nodded, "Baby."

I really do need to get off my rear and buy a digital camera. I think my sanity may depend on it.


Ha! You make me laugh

I went to the doctor yesterday. She listened. She poked. She did that concerned gaze at me and said "Hmmm." She informed me that I have an acute upper respiratory infection - not too far off from bronchitis.

"Should I write you a note?" she asked. Seeing my confused expression she elaborated, "Do you need something from me for work? You really ought to do nothing more than rest and lay around be lazy for the balance of this week."

I laughed. She looked confused.

"I really don't think the three year old and one year old will care much what your note says. You can try though."

She seemed defeated. Not sure she quite appreciates my humor.


The little wise man

If nothing else, preschool has done a good job at getting Logan's immune system some heavy duty work-outs. He's battling another round of massive tissue box destruction. Fevers. Aches. Goopey gross nose. Another visit to the doctor. Another round of antibiotics and miscellaneous meds.

His first dose of his latest prescription started last night. He doesn't fight taking the antibiotic. The rest of it, sometimes; the antibiotic not ever. We've got him convinced he needs to get the "little soldiers" into his body to fight the bad germs. That and a few well timed bribes are keeping him nicely medicated.

After a few chewable acetaminophen tablets and a shot of chalky looking antibiotic - coming on the heels of a healthy nap and some dinner - Logan was displaying more energy than he had in two days.

"I have an idea!" he said, as he often does. "Let's play monkey in the middle."

He volunteered to be the monkey. Daddy knelt on one side. I on the other. We tossed the ball gently over his head. (Oh hush. Yes I know some day I will regret the whole ball in the house thing. However, if it keeps the sick whiney kid happy, i'm all for it.) He tried hard to catch it. He didn't. Something about keeping "an" eye on the ball wasn't working for him.

Megan climbed on my lap and announced it was hug time. Daddy got up to let the dog out. The Monkey had the ball. He was still looking to play. He tossed it hard somewhere in my vicinity. He missed by a mile and the ball was lost in the toy clutter behind me.

"It's gone now," I said, some what annoyed he tried to take my head off with a flat tennis ball.

"I have an idea!" he said again. The boy would snap his fingers as he says it if he knew how. He at least gets the index finger high in the air instead. "Let's be detectives and look for it."

We looked. Me half-heartedly. Him all sorts of Sam Spade. (Or maybe, more like Nate the Great).

It was bath time. Hunt was called off. Daddy headed off to let the dog back in. I rose to herd Megan to her bath. Logan scrunched up his face in disgust.

"But guys! We haven't found it yet!" he protested.

"Logan, we can't find it. It's gone," said Daddy.

"No way. I never quit!" he declared.

So fine, we said, keep looking. Or look in the morning, it's bath time, story time, bed time.

He didn't put up too much of a fuss. He agreed that perhaps we needed a break so we could be better detectives in the morning. I helped him with his bath. Daddy read him his stories. I walked into his dark room to kiss him good night just after his head hit his pillow.

He sat up slightly and looked at me - the little eyes clearly staring at me in the not-totally dark night-light lit room. "Mommy, don't you feel bad?" he asked with the unabashed sincerity only a young child can muster.

"Feel bad for what?" I asked him.

"For giving up."

"I didn't give up Logan, I took a break," I said in my defense.

He nodded and smiled as he closed his eyes and put his head back down to his pillow. I kissed my private eye good night and started to leave his room.

"Mommy," he said without lifting his head or opening his eyes, "Don't ever quit."

Both kids are sound asleep now. Bruce has headed off to bed. I took in the last few minutes of a documentary that had my attention and then dropped a few odds and ends in the assorted catch-all baskets around the living room. I heard his little voice in my head "Don't ever quit."

Peering under the blanket chest. No ball.

Looking behind and in the puzzle basket. No ball.

Nudging the sleeping beast of a dog over a bit to look behind her favorite spot. No ball.

Reaching around Meg's toy basket. Jackpot! Wedged between the stuffed Elmo and forgotten bear was the missing ball.

I'm heading off to bed now. I'm going to leave our treasure on his night stand. If I thought he'd bother to read it, I'd even leave him a note:

Mommy never quits.


Not same. Just equal.

In the last issue of January, Newsweek ran a story about boys and education. It used to be, once upon a time, that girls were pushed into a cookie-cutter educational approach tailor made for the male brain. Now, however, the pendulum has swung. Titled, "The Trouble with Boys", Peg Tyre's article caught my attention, as well as the attention of many others. Some of the hub-bub fell into the blogsphere. Clearly I'm late getting to it.

The topic sat in the back of my head until I could better form my thoughts surrounding it. The more I observed my children, the more concrete my thinking became.

I think it's safe to say that outside of a few extreme thinkers, there isn't anyone that wouldn't support equality between the sexes. Granted, I'm not sure everyone understands exactly what that would mean or how far we are from it still in some ways - but, I think we could all, for the most part, agree in theory.

The problem, as I see it, is that some of our loudest trumpet blowers confuse equality with sameness.

Granted my little petri dish world is a rather small sample, but having a boy and a girl has taught me something. No matter what we do in their earliest of days, there are very specific gender-typical traits that will emerge regardless. The keyword, for me, is 'gender-typical.' There will be exceptions. There will be varying degrees. I do believe, however, that within a statistical sample, you will find particular traits and attributes more common in women than men and vice versa.

There isn't a thing wrong with this.

There are those, however, that think there is. They want to deny the difference, when in fact we ought to celebrate it.

My son has two dolls. Or more accurately he had them. He's grown bored of them and dropped them neatly on their heads in his sister's room. He was about 18 months old when we conceived our second child. Those two dolls became a big part of our day during that pregnancy. They'd sat long ignored in his room - my old Cabbage Patch Preemie and a doll willed down from someone else. We dusted them off and started to baby them. We taught him how to hold the dolls, how to cuddle then. His favorite part - burping them. He was more apt to drag one around by it's foot letting it's head bounce along the floor.

On the other hand, my daughter seemed to gravitate to dolls and stuffed beasts. Around the time she started to walk (9 months old) she started to mother. She'd cuddle her dolls and stuffed things close to her, laying her cheek into their faces and rocking them gently. She feeds them. She lays them down to sleep as she rubs their backs and sings to them. Now 17 months old, she spends her fair amount of time knee-deep in Thomas trains and Hot Wheels cars, yet it's those dolls and the Little People House that bring her the most joy.

Of course that said, my son's first 'non-baby' toy was a little broom found in the "girl" section of the toy store. Damn he loved that thing right up until the handle broke off. Now he uses the real vacuum. Both my children love to help in the kitchen. In fact, we have home-made pizza month every now and then which they prepare mostly on their own. Yes, my 3 year old and 1 year old make dinner. I merely assist.

They see parents that share household chores and child care duties. They see parents with their own careers. They get it. We're equal. Yet we're also different. And that is the beauty of it all. We're equal, but not the same.

The big picture with education, in my mind, goes beyond gender differences. Certainly there are some gender-typical tendencies that prove one approach more effective for more boys and yet a different approach for more girls. Yet, it's may not be effective for *all* - and that's the real key.

I don't think it's a matter of one method screwing up boys vs girls or vice versa. I think it's an inability - whether lack of desire, lack of funding, staffing or otherwise - to recognize we ALL have our own individual learning styles. Perhaps the the best tactic in any classroom ought to be a variety of learning approaches.

I am not an educator by trade. I admire those that are - they have a hard, thankless job. Yet that said, I can't imagine approaching a subject from a few different angles is asking too much.

I, personally, can only learn so much through lecture. I do much better hands-on. I couldn't do a thing with Algebra II/Trig. Yet I could solve the very same type of problems in Chem class because the lab work helped me to visualize it. I needed to *see* it. But not always quite so literally. Sometimes a simple good story would do it. Something that caught my attention and held it. Yet the student sitting next to me might not have operated on the same plane.

Clearly there is so much more one could say on this topic - so much more depth and debate. Yet only so much space to put it out here. Instead I'll just leave it with this:

We can't fix anything if we're not willing to understand we're all equal as individuals regardless of gender or race or creed or whatever. But equal is not always 'same.' Celebrate difference - don't look to eliminate it in an attempt to level the field. It's a disservice to us all.


Kids at Play

Logan managed to amass a nice collection of BC Builders at Christmas. Not heard of them? Imagine cartoonish dinosaurs put to work as construction vehicles. They come complete with blockish cavemen in animal skins, sporting goatees. Being construction focused, each set contains either a building to erect (and destroy) and/or plastic boulders.

Megan was napping and so we did what we normally do during that time - we play. I took a moment to check my email and Logan started to busy himself by using the T-Rex of his BC Builder collection to load boulders into the volcano. He called me to look at him and so I complied.

"Watch me fly the meteorite!" he said. He held a boulder in a hand high above his head. He moved his arm lower and lower, coming down at an angle. . .aiming at the T-Rex.

"See, the meteorite is coming to crash down to earth and kill off all the dinosaurs," he said matter-of-factly. "BAM!" he yelled and knocked over the unsuspecting construction crew.

"See," he said as he smiled up at me, "Just like the scientist said."



When Megan arrived a year and half ago we emptied what used to be my office and made it her bedroom. We converted our porch to an office/playroom. Up until that time it had been a quaint little sitting space we stuck the Christmas tree in one month of the year and rarely did much with the rest of the time.

When the holidays ended this year, I took things one step further. 80% of the toys in this house no live in this sunroom. The remaining 20% is split between the living room, main bathroom (oh come on, we're talking bath toys), and both of the kids bedrooms.

My intent, at the time, had been to contain a majority of the mess related to playing and not tidying well. I had foolishly figured we could at least carve out a space for my work where the clutter respected the border of "adultness" a home office should deserve. Yes, go on. Laugh. I know.

Instead, I sit here and reply to my boss' email with an array of Little People, plastic tools, misplaced trucks and a few different sized balls under my feet. Behind me is the village of Little People, the train table, some dinosaurs working as construction vehicles and an overturned art box.

Surely, it is a disaster area waiting to be condemned.

Truth, however, is that I have little interest in making this a battle worth fighting. Yes, we work to tidy it up along side the two little mess-making imps, yet I never insist that it's 100% put back together all the time. We live within the mess out here. We co-exist with the jumble of toys left behind in the child created cyclone.

I'm just wondering, do you think I can still deduct the square foot total of my office space on my taxes in spite of the toys that spill into it?


Icy Slippers

My slippers are wet. A nice, snow encrusted, icy cold sort of wet. I went icicle hunting in them.

The boy has another cold. It started on Saturday with just a bit of a stuffy nose. Today he had a fever, lethargy and a need for lots of tissues. If we manage to convince him to cooperate with the cold medicine, the fever goes down and he gets peppy. If not, he sits on our lap and complains about anything that moves him to do so.

Winter decided to dump it's annual February 'substantial' snow fall on our area today. It never fails. We get at least one good, mounting snowfall each year and it tends to show up in the second month. How much we got depends on who you listen to. We're going with the weather gurus in Philadelphia. They say our area got 6-10 inches which seems about right when you're the one outside with the snow blower.

Logan got up yesterday morning at his grandparents house. It was his monthly sleepover. Typically he balks at having the "spotlight on me!" two day extravaganza end. It takes some cajoling to get him home without a nary a pout. This time we enticed him with snowmen. We thought the snow might start earlier yesterday and give us time to make use of his snowman kit. It didn't.

He went to bed talking about the snowman he'd make today. He woke up with a low grade fever of 99.9 and a cranky little outlook on life. No outdoor fun for him, not that he wanted it any more. He wanted a lot of cuddling and some orange juice - we were happy to oblige, especially as his temperature crept higher.

At dinner, however, he had a change of heart. He was nicely doped up on Motrin Cold and ready to bring Frosty to life. It was dark. It was cold. And there was no way his little snot-filled head was getting in the backyard no matter how many layers of snowpants he could wiggle his butt into.

Instead I got a brain storm.

This morning I had tried to catch snow flakes on black construction paper for him to look at with a magnifying glass. Clearly this works better when you're doing the looking outdoors because our flakes melted in seconds in the warm house. In a moment of fuzzy-headedness, I filled a small plastic bowl with some snow and stuck it in our freezer where it sat forgotten most of the day. As soon as Logan finished his last bite of Mac and Cheese, I produced the bowl. He wiggled a few bits of it's contents on the frozen paper and tried to get a good look at the variance in the flakes.

Megan was jealous. She wanted a bowl of snow. So I, being the fair parent that I try to be, filled another small bowl with the white stuff and dropped it off on her tray. I was now on a mission. I dug around the plastic container cabinet, which is in wild disarray. I selected a large bowl and a rectangular lid. The lid was left on our kitchen table as I, and my rose colored, beat-up slippers, headed for our back door. One big scoop snow returned with me.

I can tell you, from recent experience, that bare hands and snow don't mix even if you're sitting at your kitchen table surrounded by the remnants of dinner and good fellowship. I molded a snow ball and placed it on the plastic lid. Then a second, slightly smaller ball and finally a third small ball. I stacked them in size order and shouted, "Ta Da!"

"NO-MAN!" Megan said as she clapped. Logan just grinned. We stuck him in the freezer so he'd not melt right away.

I had a lot of snow left in my big bowl. I made another ball and when the sick child of mine was not expecting it, I launched a small snowball at his collar bone. He tried to look annoyed but he couldn't keep his smile away.

"What are you doing crazy Mommy?!" he said with a laugh.

"I'm bringing snow day to you, sicko," I told him. Daddy shook his head at me in that "You are nuts" type gesture, so I pegged him with a snowball in the forehead. That, of course, put both kids into giggle fits. So, again, to be fair, I tossed a little snow Megan's way. The dog, in her glory anytime snow is involved, gleefully cleaned up our mess.

Logan launched a few snowballs. Daddy got in one or two decent throws. Megan even tried it out. The dog kept cleaning. The rest of my bowl got dumped back outside. I used the empty vessel to knock down an icicle. Just a tip survived. I handed it to Logan who turned it over and over his palm trying to study it. He wanted a bigger piece. He asked. We said we couldn't - we weren't dressed right to go leaping past the small cleared section of concrete just out our backdoor.

He said please. He asked for a tissue.

I walked out into snow drifts with my slippers, armed with a plastic kid-sized golf club. I returned with a larger bit of icicle. Logan dropped it almost instantly and shattered it. At least he didn't cry.

Instead we took Frosty out of his frozen cave again. We stuck toothpicks in his sides for arms and used glitter glue to paint on an orange nose and blue eyes. He's back in the freezer now where he'll stay until we're bored of him or I need room for an Easter ham. Whichever comes first.

Nights like this make me think about the future. The day when my kids get together with their families - perhaps without my husband and I around. They start to talk about their childhood and they laugh as they talk about the crazy things their mother would do to make them smile. I hope they realize then that it wasn't insanity - it was love.


Knock Knock

Does anyone know of a good first knock-knock joke book? Logan's starting to get the concept of the knock-knock joke and has two he likes to tell that actually make sense and then a bunch he makes up that confuse the hell out me. We found a web site with a bunch of jokes but some of those go over his head. We've been hunting through and picking ones we thought he'd understand. I'd love to find a good joke book for him. Perhaps something we'd hold off and put in his Easter Basket. Any suggestions? Or, if you've not got a book, what's your favorite joke?

Logan's current favorite joke:

-Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Who who?
-You sound like an owl!

Then there's the one he just told me:
-Knock Knock
Who's there?
Fire who?
-Fire banana.

And he bends over, holding his side laughing so hard at his humor. Megan finds my forced side splitting cackle and Logan's gut busting hysterical. She laughs hardily anytime Logan responds to "[fill in blank] who?" This just encourages him, which granted is a great thing.


Blatant Mommy Brag

This morning we, with toddler-terror in tow, sat in a small little conference room with Logan's lead teacher for our very first, real, honest-to-goodness, parent-teacher conference. The child up for discussion was working away diligently on today's sorting station back in his classroom with the assistant teacher.

We had no idea what to expect. Mrs Teacher is very good about bringing issues to her parents' attention as they arise. We know same day if there's been a problem or if it's been a great day of achievement. It's something I truly appreciate, and yet, it had me a little nervous. We knew he had struggled the first week at least with listening. He'd been a boy that tends to want to do his own thing when he wants and not be bothered with neat little things like rules and structure. In other words, he was a rather typical three-year-old with a summer birthday starting his first real experience in a classroom, albeit one focused on learn through fun play and creativity.

We knew he still struggled with sharing and taking turns. It was a big day when he didn't balk at one of the 'friends' joining him in the block station. We knew he had moments when he struggled to not melt down when he couldn't have his way. We knew he could be incredibly stubborn and a bit lazy at times. He'd rather have it done for him than do it.

These are things she knew too. In fact she mentioned them in not so many words at the start of our conversation today. She admitted that when the year had started they were wary. They had thought he might be one to have trouble throughout the year and they were ready to watch him closely and potentially suggest holding him back if he didn't improve or improve enough.

This admission came after she asked us if we'd noticed growth at home. I said we had. He'd become more independent - more willing to do for himself and to try to do for himself even if he didn't totally succeed. He's also handled Megan's knack for "forced sharing" much better than he used to. He wasn't happy about it. He'd balk. He'd complain but he'd not melt down.

She nodded and said that they had noticed a HUGE change in him. In fact, she'd even venture to say that he'd had the most dramatic growth so far this year in the class. That's when she told us where they were in September in their evaluation. But now, five months later, they've seen the sort of growth they had expected to see by June. No qualms.

He'd gone from leaving circle time early to hunt out his own thing, to staying and participating. He's sharing without upset. He's moving from parallel play to interactive play. He's following direction. He's responding to requests. He's willing to move past the "I can't" to the "I'll try."

She talked about his intelligence. She labeled him "very verbal" and said sometimes when he talks to her she almost wants to check the records again and make sure he's actually only 3. Apparently last week, in the midst of one shape lesson or another, he asked her when they were going to learn about the octagon. I'm not sure what she told him, but she told us she was taken back for a moment by the request. She said he has a scary good memory - which we knew. It gets us into trouble. Apparently she has the same issue. She commented that he clearly knew his letters, colors and shapes. We nodded but didn't elaborate on the other stuff he knew and did.

Going to preschool never had anything to do with the 'academics' of it. Instead it had everything to do with nuturing social maturity. She recognized this and agreed that to date it's served it's purpose.

We asked for input for next year, although my mind, at least if not B's too, had been made up already. This year Logan has done the 2 day a week program - it's all he could do with a birthday in June. Next year he'll go 3 days.

Our time was winding down. We were full of information and feedback - all of it reassuring. Megan was getting bored. She had started to remove tissues from a box on the table. She held it out and said simply "Dada? Ti-ou. Nose. Dada nose." ("Daddy? I've got this tissue and I want to wipe your nose with it.") She wiped Daddy's nose. Then she reached to wipe my nose. And then she pointed to Logan's teacher, made an attempt at her name and said "You nose." She wiped Mrs Teacher's nose too.

Mrs Teacher asked us when Meg's birthday was. September we said. "She'll be two?" she asked. We nodded.

"She's very verbal for her age also!" she said and commented that at least based on what they've seen of her so far, she didn't think Megan would have any problem starting preschool the same month she turned three. And this is a good thing because frankly, I think if Meg had her way, she'd be in that classroom now.


Problem solving

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again and again. For me, one of the neatest perks of parenting is the chance to watch someone grow. It's getting to see the synapses fire and make connections. The ability to observe the learning process first hand as an outsider.

It starts at the very beginning. It's the first time your newborn turns her head to the sound of your voice as the delivery room nurse hands her over to you. You know what has just happened even in your potentially epidural and exhaustion inspired fog. That brand new little person has just made a connection - the voice she's listened to day and night for 9 months is the same one that now holds her.

There are remarkable "a ha!" moments and more discreet "ah, I get it" realizations peppered throughout every day of a young life (and frankly throughout all of life.) What's become notable, lately, is how the process changes with age.

I've witnessed my three-year old's problem solving ability evolve lately. Infants have the ability to witness an impediment and work their way around it. Maybe it's trying over and over again to get that foot in their mouth or perhaps it's finally figuring out how to sit up on one's own. As children grow, the way they process information, distill it and turn it into something matures as well.

Logan likes to count. He likes to count nearly everything he encounters. Sometimes he does it loudly and boldly. Other times he mutters it to himself. One day recently he was muttering his way up to 120 before he got bored of the game and announced to his unexpecting audience, "That's it for now. I'll count 121 tomorrow."

He had started counting backwards from five confidently when playing with his toy space shuttle. Every good space mission needs a countdown to blast-off. He wasn't, however, comfortable counting backwards from a higher starting point. He'd just head right for 5 and settle on down to the loud "BLAST OFF!"

But then he wanted to sing a song. When he learned it in Gymboree it had no numbers. It was simply "All the little monkeys jumping on the bed." That was no longer enough. He had heard numbers linked to the song and he wanted to use them. He didn't ask us what to do, which had been his normal course of action in the past, he just navigated his way around his obstacle. He started singing in his loud, proud, slightly off-key voice:

"10 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Megan clapped. She loves doing the monkey song in "gym class." She grabbed my hand and pulled me to the couch as she said "Mama. Monmee? Peeeze!" (Translated: Mommy! Can we do Monkeys? Please!" She climbed up herself and sat giggling, waiting for the song to continue so she could rock a bit and then fall back into my hands waiting to catch her at the edge. I started to give Logan the next number out of habit. I didn't need to. He was whispering to himself and then suddenly launched into the next verse.

"9 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Megan laughed, slipped backwards into my hands and then stood at the couch edge beating on the cushions like any good Gymboree kid knows to do during the doctor's edict. She scampered back up.

Logan wasn't whispering as softly as he had before. I knew what he had done to figure it out.

"7,8,9," he muttered to himself. Then satisfied he went full throttle into the song, "EIGHT little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"



If you ignore the start of December, it's been a fairly mild winter around here. We've had stretches of 60 degree days, little to no snow, and frankly I can't really think of any prolonged spells where we hit temps that made your bones shiver.

The weather folks keep telling us that will change. First January was supposed to normalize. It never really did. Then they said we'd hit deep freeze last week. Then perhaps this week. It's cooler this morning and fairly blustery. We're already above freezing though. They tell us to expect a day with temperatures below 30F at some point this week. Perhaps some snow between now and the end of next week.

Or not.

Regardless, nature has been sufficient tricked around here and it's enough to give us hope even if the wind does blow and the snow does fall. The kids and I have spent a fair amount of time outdoors when the temperatures feel more like April than February. On one of these outings we've found this:

These little buds from my border of Lupine plants nestle between the bits of browned leaves that feel after the big "rake." The green delicate looking fans burst through the cold ground not far from the green leafy bits daffodil and tulip plants beginning to appear throughout the property. Our early spring plants are starting to show up for the party.

As we bundle up today and perhaps for the next two weeks, at least we can run our gloved fingers along the green hint of spring. We can take comfort in our shivers knowing that the warm days are coming to stay sooner than it might seem. Granted, I might worry a bit that the cold snap which represents something a bit closer to normalcy could harm the early risers. Yet we've seen this dance before and each spring we're greeted with a burst of color for our patience.

If you're getting snow (as we very well may before March arrives) join me in holding the image of this little plant in your mind's eye. I'll be holding on to it tightly.


Deep exhale

Every year my company has a big raucous company meeting to kick-off the year. Traditionally we kick it off late...as in we tend to end up doing it in February. This year was no exception. We met last week.

For your average person this is no big deal. In fact, it might even be a bit of a respite. Instead of going about the daily grind, you get to sit in a swanky hotel ballroom listening to a few speeches, having a great lunch and playing some "build team spirit" HR designed games.

But that's not me. Part of my job, you see, is organizing the big to-do. Not just one big to-do, but two of them. The 'day after', ever single year, is also my departmental kick-off - another big deal. I've got meeting space to book, A/V equipment to allocate, speeches to proof, and PowerPoints to design. It means I work one extra day and one day so long it may as well be two days.

It's exhausting.

And now it's over.

Here me breathe that big sigh of relief. Life can now return to normal. . .until the next big to-do which looks like it'll fall in June at the latest.