Creative Camera

When you're starting to feel frazzled and the troops are getting restless, I've got a little tip for you. Dig out the web cam you got for free with your last computer, install the upgrade for the "Create and Share" software so you can use aforementioned camera with your newer operating system. Curse the fact that the video capture portion of the software is not working. Calm again when you realize an almost 4 year old and a 19 month old can be amused for more than enough time with instant snapshots of themselves.


And over.

And over.


The appointment

I did it.

After a year of thinking the time was around the corner, it has arrived promptly on our door step.

I called the vet and made the appointment.

We enter Phase II of family life the afternoon of May 13th; life with only a fish for a pet, assuming the fish lives that long too. Confused? See the previous post.

Tasha's health has been rapidly deteroriating for some time. She does not hear well any more - a result of the her ongoing struggle with ear infections that never totally go away. Her bad thyroid seems to be no longer staying under control with medication. We could mess a bit with her dosage yet that still only fixes a fraction of her health problems. Although we've not been able to do the formal testing, the vet is 99% sure she has Cushing Disease also - a problem with her pituitary gland. She also has some sort of blockage (most likely a tumor) in her nose that causes her to struggle with breathing at night (We've nicknamed her Darth Dog for a reason) and to have this really gross discharge out of her nose when she gets excited or has been exerting any energy beyond stalking children for food. She also has a degree of arthritis that makes it difficult for her to get up and move after she's been down. . . and yet with the breathing that's all she does all. Night. Long. Up and down the hallway trying to find a place to be comfortable, which just seems near impossible for her now.

She's getting snappy. Not at the kids and not yet where she's bitten someone, but it could happen - which has motivated the spouse to finally agree with me. It is time.

I called the vet this morning. I held it together fairly well while working out the arrangements. Then I hung up the phone and cried - hiding in my hallway hoping to be done with the water works before the kids came searching. When Tasha is gone we'll grieve openly but at almost-4 years old and 19 months, we're not prepared to explain to the kids now that the dog has an appointment with death.

This has been harder than I expected. I expected hard. I did not expect this hard. She was our first major purchase together - we brought her home within weeks of getting engaged. When we didn't think we'd have children she was there to fill a void as best she could. We spoiled her. We took her everywhere we could.

Things changed some when the kids did arrive. Tasha's place in the pecking order slipped with each child entering mobile ranks. Someone else to scold her for stealing food. Someone else to shush her when she howled for another treat. Someone else to let her out and to chase her down for some good grooming. Someone else to hug her and pet her.

I know this will be harder on us than on them. Bruce and I remember the days of puppyhood and energy. We remember when she'd play for hours - now she sleeps for hours. We remember when she'd walk for miles. Now she's lucky to go out and when she does, she's laying on a lawn and panting after a block.

The kids will miss her. They'll notice the hole left by her passing. They will grieve and then they will go on. Logan has handled the death of my uncle well. We shared our beliefs with him and he's used that as a source of comfort. He talks about Uncle M being in Heaven. He will include Uncle M as he talks about the people he loves and who loves him. "He's in Heaven but he still loves me," the wise little man says. "He's happy there because he doesn't hurt now and he doesn't need his wheelchair," he adds as an almost after thought. I don't recall us actually ever telling him that. I think we said when my uncle died, he'd not hurt any longer. Logan has understood the concept and developed it further.

He'll be ok with his pet's death also. I know this. I know he'll image his dog feeling frisky and lively. He'll tell us about how Uncle M and Tasha play catch. He'll be fine.

I might not be. He will.

We could have done this sooner. Yet sooner just didn't seem right. This weekend is Bruce's first one home after the long trip. I didn't want to mar what the kids have been looking forward to - two full days of DADDY! The next weekend may have been fine and yet the one after that just seemed better. Logan has his sleepover that weekend. He won't even be home until dinner time on Saturday. We can leave the house for the vet without him seeing the dog leave. He won't have to try to figure that one out - how she leaves ok and never comes back.

He won't be home. He'll come home and he'll learn she's gone. We'll remind him she was sick. We'll tell him she died. We won't have to say how.

He was forking over the dog treats this afternoon much to the dog's delight. I told him she appreciated it.

"You know," I began, thinking we ought to start laying some groundwork. "Tasha may not be with us much longer." I choked back a tear or two.

"I know," he said as he reached to pet her head. "She's very old and she's very sick. I'll miss her but it'll be ok."

And unknowingly he made me feel a little better about it all. We'll miss her but at least she'll be ok. It'll be ok. We'll be ok.


Victim #92

Fish fear me.

I'm not quite sure what it is. I can keep two kids in one piece. I can keep a dog around for over 10 years. A fish, however, is in absolute danger when under my care.

Tanks with filters. Tanks without. Doesn't matter. I'm not quite sure what it is I do, but somehow, in short order, my fish pets end up dead.

At my college, technically speaking, you couldn't have a pet in your dorm room. Fish were the exception. (And of course, all those rodent variety pets people smuggled in and kept out of sight when someone that cared about the rules was nearby.) One year my roommates and I decided to get a fish tank. We picked these wonderfully elegant black fish - two of them. They died in about a month. We, being quite lazy, kept the filter running in the empty tank just because none of us ever got around to cleaning it out.

I suppose it's a good thing we were lazy. Several weeks after "Mollie's" passing we noticed the tank had sprouted several black little dots floating to and fro. One of those dead fish had produced offspring. We had little baby fish. Lest you think this has a happy ending, we managed to kill those off too. It was a very sad end. K lived nearest to campus. She was supposed to take the fish babes home with her over the winter break. She forgot.

Not only did she forget, but when the oil company was refilling the tanks in the basement of our building they overflowed a tank. The heat stopped working well. A horrible ice storm hit over break as well, closing roads in at least two states for at least two days. By the time we returned the smell of oil was strong in our room. We had to camp out in other residence halls while they got everything squared away. By the time we got back, the fish tank, which had ended up sitting hear a window that had been left open to air out the oil smell, was a big ice block.

In case you're wondering, little toddler fish do not survive the thaw process.

At that point, I swore off fish. In fact, the 10 gallon fish tank one of the brothers-in-law gave Bruce as a Christmas gift 10 years ago is still sitting unopened in it's box. Neither of us felt like we could be adqueate fish guardians.

The boy, however, wanted a fish. Around his second birthday we caved. We were at a street fair in town and Bruce won a small gold fish complete with bowl and food. We set it up and put it in Logan's room. The bright orange unsuspecting scaled pet was named Dennis after the goldfish in the cartoon Stanley on Playhouse Disney. Two days into fish ownership I had to tell Logan that Dennis decided to go back to live with Stanley.

I swore off fish again. In fact, I even tossed the bowl and various acccessories we had picked up for Dennis.

Today we went to the pet store to visit the hamsters and buy the dog some treats. The kids were admiring the fish. I was drawn to the Betas. I'm not quite sure what happened. One minute I was looking at this beautiful blue one and the next I was asking Logan which one he wanted. I bought a tank, some food, some plants, and the damn fish.

It's all set up nicely on his dresser. We opted to see the lovely fins displayed often by placing the poor guy in front of a mirror. Well sort of. He is in front of a mirror, but primarly because that was the only spot we could find in Logan's room that afforded some degree of safety from Megan's reach while allowing Logan the chance to really see the fish. The taunting reflection is simply a bonus.

I left the house at 6 pm for a business dinner. I got home just a bit ago and I'm almost wondering if I ought to go in and make sure "Swirly Whirly" (yes, the boy named him) is still alive before Logan finds his new favorite creature belly up in the morning.

I mean really. Someone tell me what the hell I was thinking?

Me. Fish. Nothing good can come of this.


brain dead

I have so many projects on my plate between the press releases I do on a volunteer basis and the marketing/pr I do for pay. I struggle even now to write a coherent sentence explaining the brick wall of writer's block my blog has fallen victim to. Someone tell me how the hell I'm going to write four press releases, two sell sheets and two event invites by the end of the week?! It's not the time, although frankly, with two kids to manage during the day, the return of the spouse later tonight and a dinner meeting tomorrow night, time is an issue. No, it's not just the time, it's the inspiration.

If someone locates the marketing muse, please send her my way.


Flower Power

First, if you came this way before and could have sworn you saw something my redecorating spree, you are not crazy. It was here. I have since decided I didn't want to leave the mindless prattle up there and deleted the post.

Carmi has been talking about color in his recent posts. Starting with a bold display of yellow and moving to the more subtle tones of tea. Perhaps it's these observance, or perhaps it's the grey sky and rain that covers my town today - either way, I find myself standing at the front door at staring at the row of tall, full red tulips. They now dwarf the once vibrant and dominate daffidols that inhabit the same bed. The yellow daffidols are starting to shrivel and fade. Those that are left are no match for the full velvety red.

I'm tired. I've not been sleeping well - I never do when Bruce travels. I tend to stay up too late trying to find time to unwind without my two shawdows. And despite all my hard wished wishes, I still end up rising early with the two little red heads.

The rain is needed yet when we've got errands to run and energy to burn it starts to become depressing. The house starts to feel confining. The mood starts to feel as drab at the sky.

The kids are tired too. Meg hardly napped and Logan's extra hour of sleep this morning hardly seemed to make up for going to bed the hour late last night for his "special" time. (Something I started this trip. He gets one night a week that Dad's away to be up after his normal bed time once his sister goes to sleep.) They're punchy. They're whiney. They're clingy.

We've cleaned the house and fixed up the rooms. Logan's room has long looked like the tornados he's been reading about lately have hit his room. Much to his dismay, we cleaned it. It took the presence of the "away box" to get his butt in gear.

We need a splash of color in our world today. We need to remember the bright and happy.

We'll rely on the red right outside our door:


Change in the air

For many a reason it seems we'll be transitioning the girl to her 'big' bed before her 2nd birthday. With the inevitable looming (and the new bedroom set ordered) we decided to give the whole "sleep in the bed" thing a go this afternoon.

You have to understand something. I tend to parent much the way I live life - by the seat of my pants. I'm very much whim-centered. I consider it part of my charm, please do not try to disillusion me. Of course the serious stuff I weigh thoroughly. I measure. I research. I do the whole due diligence thing. Yet the serious stuff seems to arise on rare occasion. Most of my little existence is very much gut based and slightly impetuous.

As the last bits of lunch were picked at I reminded Megan of our routine. Lunch. New diaper. Nap. She nodded, as she usually does now. She picked out the toy that would nap with her today - a giant, over-sized Winnie the Pooh long since stripped of his Santa suit. She bear hugged him so she could drag him out of his cave between the book case and the toy chest. She tossed him on the floor and threw herself down upon him, still hugging him tight.

"Nap on floor. Night on Pooh Bear," she told me. There was no grin on that little 19 month old face. No impish tickle in her eyes to tell me she was teasing yet again. Meg meant business.

"You can not nap on the living room floor," I told her. Then, hit with the whim, I turned ever so slightly to face Logan. "Would it be ok if we borrowed your bed?"

He nodded. "I'm not using it," he said.

Megan was excited. She picked up Winnie and bolted down the hall. Remember, this bear is nearly bigger than her. She never moved this fast before with him in her arms. I found her in her brother's room trying to hoist her buddy to his bed. I helped her up. She cuddled in. I left her.

Moments later I headed down to check on her. It was silent. I heard the sound of feet running. I was ready to scold my son. He has a habit of not contibuting to the 'quiet' conducive for nap time. Then I saw the blur of color that was Meg darting from behind her brother's door to his bed. I stood now in an open door way and said nothing.

Realizing she was caught, she crossed her arms and placed them and her head on the corner of the bed. "Shhh, night night," she whispered.

I gently placed her back on the bed and whispered in her ear, "If you're not going to sleep on the bed, you'll have to do it in your crib."

I checked her three more times. The first time I found her lying peacefully in the center of the bed petting Winnie's arm. The second time she was laying with her feet on the toy box at the foot of the bed. She seemed to be crawling off a little at a time. I moved her back to the pillow area. The last time I found her standing on the bed, pulling back the shade and looking out the window.

She was put in the crib. She cried. "No! Want Brabee bed! Me big girl. No crib." I reminder her of our deal. I told her we'd try tomorrow. Yes, change is in the air.

Later in the day my son reminded me of another transition he's made from toddler to boy. He had been playing with two cardboard nail files my mother had been using. Logan decided they were either sandpaper for the edifice he was imaging or they were swords. We were playing hide and seek when he wasn't doing battle or architecting greatness.

I sat behind a large chair in the living room waiting to be found.

And waiting.

And waiting.

He finally came. I teased him a bit. He was terribly dejected. I felt awful. Did I do it? I asked if he was ok. And he kicked at the rug with his toe. He half-confessed to doing something wrong.

"I wasn't looking for you. I was hiding something so Grandma wouldn't see it," he said in a soft sad voice.

I prodded him for more details but he refused to give them. I hugged him and looked him in the eye. "Logan, you need to tell me what you did. Trust me, Mommys, Daddys, Grandparents - we all have a way of knowing things you don't think we know. You're better off telling me the truth now. Show me what you hid."

He took me to the sewing room - my old room. He pulled open a drawer on a small side table and pulled something out. He looked at me sadly with his hand behind his back. "I broke them. I tried to fix them but I can't. They're just broken forever."

He held them out to me - two cheap cardboard nail files snapped in half. On the grand scale, it meant nothing. These two items costing maybe a dollar between them. Yet, within the big picture they meant so very much. This is his newest stage. He knows he's messed up. He knows he's done something he shouldn't and he tries to keep us from finding it so he doesn't get in trouble.

The "old" Logan would have just come running out to us crying because something he had been playing with broke. The new Logan has an understanding that he broke something that wasn't his and someone may not be happy about it. He knew someone may be angry. That was worse than any form of punishment that could come his way.

I was already eye level with him. "I know you're scared, but you have to tell Grandma about this and you have to apologize. Logan, hiding them wasn't the answer. She'd have found them the next time she used the drawer." I told him about our super sleuthing powers - we'd have known it was him. (Sure his sister could have broken them, but she's not saavy enough yet to hide the evidence.) I told him that he'd be in more trouble for lying about it and trying to hide it than for breaking these boards. I hugged him tight. I reminded him that even if he got in trouble or we got angry, we always loved him. "You'll be in less trouble for telling the truth about a mistake, than for trying to hide it." I told him. I could see the wheels turning. I told him I'd go with him to talk to Grandma.

We found her and he held out his hand with the broken boards exposed. He told her what he had done - how they had broken and he tried to hide them so she'd not be mad.

"Do I look mad?" she said to him. "I'm not happy that they broke because you played with them like we asked you not to do. I am happy that you came and told me though." She hugged him. I hugged him. He said he was sorry. Moment over.

When the moment past I reminded him again how important it was to tell the truth and to come to us instead of trying to hide something from us. I hugged him again.

He got it. He understood it. Yet I know that this isn't the end of it. I know this is just the beginning. It's a new stage for him. It's a bigger leap in many ways than all the stages he's passed before it. He seems ready for it. I wonder if I am.



After dropping Logan off at school this morning, Megan and I took the rare trip to the Dunkin' Dounts that actually still requires everyone and anyone to get out of their car for service. Mama needed her coffee and this happened to be the closet outlet.

We left armed with my mega-big cup of liquid alertness, a container of milk, the munchkin Megan sweet talked the staff into giving her, and a sprinkle laden treat for the boy when he came home later in the day. I was juggling Megan (who was busy hoarding her milk container with both hands and chanting "My milk!"), the bag with the treats, and my mega-big cup when a man in a great big hurry two-stepped his way around us and out the door. He let the door go just in time for it to close inches from my face.

I got us settled in the car and did the quick turn onto the back road to avoid the work ongoing in front of the shop. This backroad dead-ends at a major highway in town. I was waiting for traffic to clear enough for me to pull out into a lane. A big, SUV-and-a-half came up tight on my right and whipped into the lane I was about to pull into. As he pushed his way past I caught a glimpse of the driver - the door man from the shop.

I pulled in behind him and our light turned green. As he pulled ahead, as fast as the traffic around him would let him go, I saw the license plate. At least the man values truth in advertising.

His plate? Ego 1.

I. Kid. You. Not.


Pictures in motion

When my dad sent me the video clips Sunday night I completely forgot I had the ability to drop them here. Truly I am not this flighty in real life - at least not usually.

This particular video makes me laugh and I even know what's coming. I mean really, if Logan's measured response to successfully finding an egg was any more passive we might have fallen asleep. (And of course I am totally facetious.)

Video Hosting - Upload Video - Photo Sharing

And then because we can't have one child starring without another, here's a little bit of Meg:

Video Hosting - Upload Video - Photo Sharing


Elusive Easter photo

I wanted to get a photo of the kids together in their holiday finery. Something set against a spring inspired, simple back drop. I wanted two cherubic faces with four wide-but-not-too-wide opened blue eyes staring back at me. I wanted photographing-nut-mom's nirvana.

Instead I got this:

The moment I sat them at the top of our little hill and put the camera to my eye, Logan yelled out "CHEESE!" and put on his *best* phony smile. Can't you tell? And I swear, I know my daughter. I know that face. That is the "What the heck are you doing, Brabee?!" face.

Clearly the photo I had longed for and Grandma already had a frame picked out for was not to be mine this year. We'll be settling for two seperate photos instead.


Little boy logic

Easter dinner for us consisted of two grandparents, an uncle, his girlfriend, her 8-year old, my two little people and me. It makes for a loud table at the grandparent's house -- one ripe with possibility for good blog fodder.

Logan was ansty. Being tired + being three + holiday excitment + a few handfuls of jelly beans will do that to a boy. Some tried to cajole him. I gave him the look followed by a stern "Knock it off." He did, yet he still didn't feel he needed to eat at the moment.

Grandma tried a new tactic that ended in, "you're sitting in such an important seat! You're at the head of the table just like Papa. See him there, at the other end and you are at this end."

Logan is new to the jargon. He didn't quite understand "head of the table." The girlfriend and the grandma tried to explain it to him. He nodded as they talked and it began to make sense for him. They thought they were in the clear.

"But this is the front of the table," he said as he turned in his seat and pointed to the front door. "See, there is the front of the house so this is the front of the table. That's the back of the house so Papa is at the back of the table."

We all nodded, yeah, ok, you are on the end of the table that is to the front of the house. Papa can literally turn half way around and touch the back door. We get it. Front of table. Back of table.

Logan thought a minute more. That look came over him. The one that says we're all in trouble because the wheels have been turning and he's sleuthed something up.

"So if I'm at the front and this is the head of the table, does that mean Papa is sitting at the butt?"

Just a note to you innocent bystanders, when this sort of things happens at your table resist. Just. Resist. The. Urge. To. Laugh. God help you, just do it. If you laugh, the joke goes on and on and on and on and on and on as the 3-year old boy in your midst elects to repeat it over and over and over.

The adults in us started to return to our senses. If we didn't react he'd not do it. At this point it was all about the laugh.

He said it again. No one flinched. Even the 8 year old sat stoicly, carefully warned by her mother not to even grin. Logan looked from face to face for the tell-tale signs of amusement. Not one of us made eye contact. We ignored him and the joke.

He humpfed. He crossed his arms. "Hey! Did you hear me? Where is the all the laughing?!"

He got another one of those looks from me. He sat down with a simple, "No fair!" Is it any wonder why the toddler girl uses this as her favorite phrase?


Skipping stones

In a few moments I'll shut down the PC. I'll finish up the work of a legendary rabbit. The overstuffed baskets have already been placed on the bay window ledge. The eggs have been filled with small chocolate bits just waiting to be hidden. Two toys nestle deep in two eggs daring me to be stealth as I gently place each one in the respective beds of two sleeping eager children.

I'm a lone Easter Bunny this year. I take pause in my holiday secret to reply to emails written half-a-world away. Tonight my husband, the other half of the bunny, is moving closer towards Monday as we prepare to begin Sunday. We'll be rubbing sleep from our eyes and hunting eggs as he's hunting out properities for new office space in Asia-Pac.

It's not the same without him here, but having access to email at least means we're in frequent contact without cashing in the kid's college funds to afford phone calls. I write him long emails filled with the minutia of our day. I know these sometimes dry, rambling round-ups can seem pointless but he looks for them upon waking and before hitting the pillow. He checks for them as often as he can get acess until he finds one - something to keep connected.

He'll come home after nearly 2 weeks away and he'll ask our son about the matching PJs he refused to wear tonight. The unintentional purchase of warmer weather PJs that suddenly seemed like a great idea to ensure adorable Easter morning photos. He'd be in blue Mickey Mouse pajamas. She'd be in pink Minnie Mouse. Logan put his foot down - "No way. I don't want to match."

Daddy will smile and say "But Logan, I'm sure you really would have rather worn the Darth Vadar PJs, but perhaps it wasn't the best thing for Easter morning. I think those fire truck jamas were perfect!"

He'll pick Megan up and he'll tell her she must have made a pretty princess in her Disney Princess nightgown - her first ever nightgown that even had a layer for silver stars on soft sheer fabric to rest over the hot pink pseudo-ball gown design. She'll smile and pat herself on the chest as she says, "Pretty princess."

He'll know he missed the real moment but he'll not have missed the detail. It's not much, but it's something.

And we, we know that he's with us in some way. He's telling us about the things he sees and the places he's gone. He's sharing stories of the office spaces he's touring and the people he's met. He's commenting on the pictures we've sent him of the new bedroom furniture that's been ordered for each kid room. He's not here, and yet in a way he is.

Logan knows his days of the week. He has a decent concept of time although going too far out gets understandably too abstract for him. We count off in milestones - we'll be going to see Thomas the Tank Engine just before your birthday. First it's Easter, then Mother's Day, then my birthday, then Father's Day and THEN Thomas...and then you'll be 4. Something tanglible. In school they count the days between class in "sleeps." As we leave on Thursday the teacher hugs each child tight and reminds him/her, "I'll see you in five sleeps!"

We've been counting Daddy's return down in sleeps and milestones. We've simplfied it to school days - Logan, you will go to school THREE times before Daddy gets home and then he might get home Tuesday night after you're in bed so you may not see him until dinner on Wednesday.

Logan sighs. "That's a very long time," he says.

And it is. Email might be nice, but it's not the same. It's only half real - half there. Yet right now, it's what we've got.


Zip, zip through seasons

Spring has arrived here and with it has come the first whiff of summer.

In my world, if any part of your warm sunny days are to be filled with rides at either local boardwalk you will end up buying at least a pocketful of tickets. There are a variety of ways to buy these things - one of which comes in book format.

Today we partook in an annual tradition. We headed to the more family-friendly of boardwalks and purchased a book of tickets (good all season and then some.) With our purchase came a second book for free. Grandma and I pulled our money and bought the $50 books. That means a $100 worth of tickets will giddily be used up by two little red-heads - or, in the terms that really matter, 240 tickets.

It seems like a lot. I know.

Yet before we could leave the boardwalk, the young imps had to christen the start of the season with whirl around a favorite ride or two. Logan went solo on the truck loop. Megan went "round-and-round-up-and-down" on the merry-go-round.

Gone were 8 tickets.

The three of us then enjoyed a spin on these over sized dragons. My PBS Kid fans call it the "Dragon Tales" ride. You sit in the belly pulling yourself and your dragon round and round, faster and faster until you're all laughing too hard at your own dizziness to spin any longer. As soon as the ride ended Megan declared "DO AGAIN!" Logan agreed. Grandma took them.

Between the two rounds we turned over 30 tickets.

We left. $50 (plus lunch and a few rounds of Skee Ball) lighter. 38 tickets spent. Good time had by all.

It was as we walked to one of the indoor pizza joints on the boardwalk that I smelled it. At first it came with a normal breath and then I had to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Deep inhale. Yes. It was. There was a strong smell of summer in the air even though the ocean breeze was keeping the air cool and damp.

I don't know if it's something specific about this coast - or to these beaches - but it's there. A very distinct mixture of sand, salt water, taffy, coconutty-sun tan lotion and perhaps a pinch of cotton candy. It mingles together in a scent that always acts as balm to my soul.

My smile must have had passer-bys wondering about my sanity.

"Can you smell it?" I asked my mother.

She inhaled and then nodded. "It smells like summer."


Egg-cellent Adventures

Normally I'd wait another day or two to dye the eggs yet with the big trip looming, we opted to get those things colored tonight so Daddy would be home to help.

We started out with 2 dozen eggs. I had decide we'd aim for a good 18 dyed Easter eggs. We'd leave some with Grandma and some here but in the end, each kid ought to get enough joy out of 9 eggs each. I boiled 18. 3 cracked in the pot. Three cracked getting out of the pot. To hell with it, we'll go with 12 eggs total.

Megan refused her smock. We settled on a too big t-shirt. She got the concept of egg coloring. She just wanted to toss all her eggs in one basket quite -- literally. We had her convinced to split her six between various color pots. She was fine until she ran out of eggs. She began redying. She dropped one and demolished it.

Down to 11 eggs.

Logan was into the multi-color dip process. Not half an egg here and half there. Nope, whole egg making the color rounds. We decided to try two eggs in the tie-dye process. Eggs in the colander. Splash (read: drench) in vinegar. Drip liquid food coloring on the eggs. Swirl lightly and let sit for 30 seconds. Repeat 1-2 more times (or 3 in Logan's case). When the last color sets, rinse with cool water. Then air dry on a towel. Or, if you're me, wipe them down with Bounty and call it a day.

He left me to dry his creations so he could dip a few eggs over again. He was admiring one. He dropped it.

Left with 10 eggs.

Ten eggs for Easter plus two tie-dyed Mommy hands:


Outside the box

To some a wheelbarrow is a simple utilitarian tool. If you're like me, you wheel it into your backyard. Fill it up with rotting compost and then wheel it over to the spot of your garden you're preparing for cool weather crops. You dump it's contents and abandon the one-wheeled wonder while you work on tilling the Earth.

Children, however, have a knack for seeing amusement park rides in the most mundane of things. To them, a wheelbarrow is a grand joyride if only an adult were to make it so.

I, of course, am a willing cog in their grand inventive schemes. Well, that and I do find pleasure in anything that keeps them both in one spot at the very same time. And so, with a two simple pleas (pleading, nagging, PLEASE MOMMY!), we put gardening spades aside and took a ride around the yard, pausing only to photograph the moment:


All good things. . .

It's that time again. It's growing late on a Sunday night and I sit here hoping to prolong the weekend just by a little. I'll take what I can squeeze out of it. Yet alas, it never works. Time moves ahead without my consent.

My work week is a short one in reality. Once we're past Tuesday I work when and if I feel like it for the most part. However, with the other half of the parenting team at work a normal full week, the weekends are still very well defined and very welcomed.

Those two days are packed with as much as we can fit in and yet it never seems enough. This morning we watched the boy march in with his Sunday School class. The kids aged 2 through 10 were waving palm branches and escorting their little fish banks full of One Great Hour of sharing contributions. They marched up the center aisle and to the front to sing for us - with us. Logan, who two years ago would hardly leave our side, marched proudly waving his branch in greeting to everyone he made eye contact with. He's just slightly less than two months from his 4th birthday. When standing with the other kids in his class - this morning mostly 2 year olds with a few 'newly' three year olds - he seemed so very big. And yet, when surrounded with the kids from the older classes, he also looked so very small.

It's just moving too fast. He's growing faster than I can keep up.

The girl went on her very first "special" outting with the Grandparents. They began taking Logan for special trips out when he was about 20 months old. That led to what has become the once a month sleep-over extraganza. Meg will be 19 months old at the end of this week. Today she got her turn.

She left just after her nap. We told her about it this morning and she was very excited. "Papa, Gam boardwalk!" she'd tell us when the mood struck her. She'd not been to the boardwalk since the weather got cool in October. I wasn't sure she really knew what it was, but she caught on that it was something good. We told her about the carosel. We told her about the ice cream. She couldn't wait to go.

She clearly had a good time. Upon leaving she cried "No Fair! More boardwalk!" When she got home she told me softly "Papa horse. Round, round, round. Me, Papa go horse." Which loosely translated is "Papa took me on the merry-go-round." She told me about playing Skee Ball ("Throw ball. Gam do.") She told me about the ice cream, apparently it came with sprinkles.

"Megan, did you have ice cream with Papa and Grandma?" I asked her.

She nodded. Her eyes grew wide in what is her most serious expression. "Rainbow!" she told me.

"It had sprinkles on it?" She gave me a puzzled look in return. I continued, "Your ice cream had a lot of colors on it?"

She nodded. "Rainbow!"

Time has marched ahead quickly. The little infant girl I held on to as the toddler boy bounced out the door for his sleepovers a year ago is now her own person full of ponies and rainbows.

I sit here late at night on a Sunday. I watch the sand of time slip between my fingers as the seconds waste away. My weekend is over and those two little imps are yet another set of days older, only sometimes it feels like it's much more than that.



I had never thought much about how one developed language skills. You simply did. It never occured to me there was a process - almost by osmosis - in which an infant grows into conversationalist.

Then I had children.

My son was an early talker. His first word, "duck", came at 6 months old. By the time he was 13-months old he spoke in phrases with nouns and verbs, he knew his letters on sight and he could count to 10. Today, creeping closer to four, he tells us things like "Mommy, you don't give [the accountant] your taxes, you have to mail them to the Government" or the more endearing, "Mommy, I'm sorry you hurt your knee. I'm sure that really hurt." And the heart-string tugging, "Promise we'll be friends forever, ok."

When we learned a second child was on her way we wondered what she'd be like. We wondered if she'd learn as quickly as her brother has seemed to or if she'd set her own pace. We read some on milestones. We tried to ground ourselves in forgetting when he'd done what. She was to have a clean slate.

Only perhaps she didn't need it.

She began talking around the same time. She wasn't as clear in her ennunciation as her brother was at a year old, but she certainly knew as many words. When her teeth finally came in, so did her ability to pronounce things so that most people could understand them. She's moved into bigger phrases and sentences. It still sounds odd to me. This little girl voice coming from the not yet 19-month-old body - "Mommy help me. Peez put Legos on. Mommy do. Build."

Yet what has intrigued me more than hearing her communicate is hearing how her mind works. Things that seem so very simply and almost silly at face-value have such deeper meaning when you stop and examine it. I can see the wheels turning in her little head. I see her making connections - the understanding of language falling into place.

Recently she shed some basic baby-talk. I'm no longer Mama. I am Mommy. Dada is gone. Daddy reigns. She sat one day and began to rattle off our names. It's something my son used to do too - roll call. She got to herself. She used to refer to herself as baby, but in an attempt to help move her towards certain behaviors (like going to sleep on her own and giving up bottles) we've convinced her she's no longer a baby. We offered up "little girl." Brother said "big girl" and that one stuck.

She started with that. "Mommy. Daddy. Buh Girl. . ."

Then she stopped.

She, working hard to grasp pronouns but not quite getting it right, will also use "Me" in reference to herself, as in "Me go too." We also call her "Meggie" as one of her many nicknames. When she's feeling feisty she'll mimic the moniker as "Mimi."

She began roll call again. "Mommy. Daddy. Mimi. . . "

She stared at her brother. She knows his name. She can say his name. She still won't. She calls him "Brabah" - brother. She began her drill again.

"Mommy. Daddy. Mimi. Brabee."

It clicked. I saw it happen. Word endings. Right there. We, all of us except her adored sibling, had the long 'E' sound. She was determined to right that wrong.

He hates the nickname. I got yelled at for using it. He tried to ignore her when she called him repeatedly. I got down to eye level and told him he ought to be happy she's calling him that because it's her special name just for him because she does love him. He bought it. She's the only one permitted to use it. And use it she does -All. The. Time.

This morning she came over to me and smiled brightly. She pointed to herself. She tried to cross her arms over her chest but she rushes it so she gets one arm up and the other already moving to the last sign - she points at me. The only sign any of us ever really worked to teach her and she knows it "I love you." She says it as she does it but she can't really get the word "love" out. Instead she does her gesturing and she says "I. You. Mommy!"

I know what she means though. I hug her and I tell her "I love you too, sweetheart."

She's proud of herself for telling me. She starts her signing again. "I. You. Daddy!" she yells even though Daddy is in other end of the house and not hearing her. I tell her Daddy loves her too.

"I. You. Brabee," she says as she signs and it's clear she does with all her heart. I assure her it's mutual.

She smiles one last time before running off to play. "I. You. Choo choo trains." She heads down the hallway, still loving things - her dolls, her Dora collection, her sippy cup. At least we were first though. And at least she can tell us.



Sure. I admit it. I'm stubborn. Hell, the proverbial mule occasionally looks easy-going next to me when I really dig my heels in. And, truth be told, that's exactly what I did today.

Last week the weather was just perfect. Yesterday it snowed. Nothing stuck, but talk about disheartening. Today, it's neither warm nor cold. It just simply is what you might call "seasonal." You don't pull out the short sleeves, but you can walk out without the jacket and not regret it.

I stared out at my garden - barren and waiting to be used again. I started to think about something my mom had said the other night: I should plant broccoli this year because the boy insists it's his favorite vegetable. (Though truth be told he only likes the stalks, weird child of mine, and he rarely eats more than one.)

"Oh, but that's a cool weather plant, you'd have to be putting that in now if not in already," she lamented.

We dropped Logan off at school and then headed to the shop we buy most of our plants from. Megan was excited. She's on a truck kick lately and this place has oodles of them. What they didn't have was broccoli.

"Too early," the clueless woman at the register said. I was surprised, the folks at this place are normally very well informed. I didn't bother to argue with her. It was pointless, they didn't have it.

Back in the car and off to the place we get the rest of our plants from each year. This is a smaller shop owned by a couple with really thick accents. I parked and before I got Megan out of the car I saw it -- a table with cool weather veggies. Broccoli, cabbage, varieties of lettuce and even peas. I bought up two packs of broccoli, a set of peas and for the fun of it, a strawberry plant to put in the smaller planter I inherited from a friend. Megan got a free banana out of the deal. She charmed the owners.

We trucked over to the big bulls-eye store again. Logan had managed to misplace his blue plastic spade. Couldn't plant gardens without it. Yes, gardens. Last year I gave Logan the plants I had no room for. I like several varieties of tomato and oodles of cucumbers. I always end up with a few extra plants though. The solution was simple, Logan could have his own garden.

The plants and supplies waited patiently for us through an hour of Gymboree, retrieval of the boy from school, lunch, and getting Meg to nap. Logan was anxious to get outside with his new shovel and his watering can. We turned two rows of my garden - mixing in compost as we went along. He helped me plant the six plants tagged for my garden.

We moved to the corner of our yard where we set about expanding the size of his plot. Comfortable it was big enough to fit a proper sized garden for a boy who will turn 4 as he tends it this summer, we put his three plants in the ground. He watered his own veggies with great care. He pet the leaves and admired them fondly.

We dug out Megan's space. She joined us shortly after we began. She squatted close to the ground with her pink shovel and the little hand rake. She wore her slightly too big pink gardening gloves. She smiled, happy to be digging in the dirt. She dug herself a whole for her first plant. She helped me pat the soil around it. She left me to put the others in the ground while she located her little watering can. She doused the first plant generously then held the heavy can out to me. "Here Mommy. You do," she said. She watched me though and she clapped.

And so here we are. The first week of April - temperatures not quite warm enough to do more than think about my beloved tomato, cucumber, herb, pumpkin and other veggie plants. Yet we have gardens. We have weeded. We have watered. We've made it Spring time in our yard whether it wants to be or not.

Yup. See. I know. Stubborn.



This morning on my way into work I got bit by a whim. I wasn't happy with the black shoes I had on. They hurt my feet. (Did you *know* bearing children can make your feet grow?! Here I sit two kids later at a half a shoe size bigger that I had been before!) Not only did they hurt, I didn't think the black shoes worked well with my light and airy Spring inspired skirt. I ran into that store that has the ability to suck money from my wallet the moment I cross through the door - you know the one with the big bulls-eye for a logo. I was dashing quickly from entry aisle to children's clothes. I had to pass through shoes. I bought a pair. Cute little tan linen sling backs. . .with a heel higher than I've ever worn before. Ever.

I slipped the new shoes on when I got back to my car. I pulled into the office parking lot without having actually walked in these new heels. I got out, took a few steps and realized that I couldn't move fast in them. Crap.

By the end of the day, however, I was feeling quite grown-up and capable in my cute little shoes. In fact, when I got home, I even ran after a kid in them. Sore, my calves are a bit sore at the moment, but I have to say, for a while today I really did "get" the whole "shoe obession" thing.


When I wasn't admiring my well-clad toes, I was dashing out at lunch for a haircut. It's been a while. Ok, it's been too long. Not only did I have a spring in my step, I had bounce in my neatly cropped, just-above-the-shoulder hair.


Logan's school pictures arrived today. When the teacher handed them to Grandma at pick-up today she said simply "Wait until you see them. I mean, they're all cute, but just wait until you see these."

Grandma, being a grandma, smiled proudly and replied, "Well they did start with a perfectly adorable subject."

Grandma's doting aside, the photos are fantastic. Logan very nonchalantly glanced at it this evening and said "Yeah. It's good."


Megan has moved from words and occasional phrases to bigger phrases and actual sentences. The other night during dinner, she began to slide out of the chair. (She's given up on the booster seat, preferring to mimic her brother in the "big" chair.) Before we could say a thing to her about it, she declared very clearly, "I am all done."

Her current favorite word? Come on, the girl is 18 months old. Her favorite word is "No."

Her favorite phrase? "NO FAIR!"


It's all relative

It was just the two of us in the van off to run an errand. It came out of nowhere.

"I hate being three!" Logan said in a tone I rarely hear from him. He was clearly not happy.

"What? Why?" I said, confused as to what sparked his contempt or the need to share it.

"I can't play monkey in the middle. When I'm the monkey, I'm too short to reach the ball," he began to explain. "When I'm not the monkey, I'm too short to throw it over the monkey. I always lose because I'm three."

"Umm, honey. If you play monkey in the middle with other people that are three, you won't be too short."

He sat and pondered that one in silence.

That'll teach me

Last year we took Logan to see "the real Thomas" for his birthday. Just weeks before he was offically three, and therefore weeks before he required a full-fare ticket for the combo ride, we brought baby Meg to her grandparents, waved goodbye, blew a few kisses and drove the three hours to Lancaster County, PA.

I had booked our tickets for Thomas and a second ride on the Strasberg Railroad's usual steam engine the day the Day Out with Thomas tickets went on sale. Getting our desired time was no problem. Confirmation number for Thomas in hand, I immediately picked up the phone and made hotel reservations. No problem. Got a room for the three of us on my first try.

We had a blast that weekend. We toured the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. We shopped in stores where everything was Thomas themed. We saw toy trains. We saw toy trains. We saw real trains. We played games. We road in cars Thomas pulled. We road in cars the "Polar Express" (aka Strasberg's Robert Fulton) pulled. We even went camping one night - Logan's first trip.

The boy now approaches the ripe old age of four. He still plays with his trains. He still covets his Thomas clothing. He still asks for Thomas items of all shapes and sizes, yet Thomas is no longer an obession. He's branched out into more things over the last year. We weren't planning on a return trip, thinking he had been there, done that, not as absorbed any longer. Why spend the cash?

Megan, however, is spending more and more time with her brother's train table. In fact, as I type this, she naps in her crib clutching a tender from Gordon and Edward in either hand. She has toys she favors over the trains, and yet those trains rank up high on her list. Yet we still hadn't thought of taking them back for the event.

And then Logan focused on the picture. We have a photo of the three of us - Mom, Dad, and Logan - sitting and smiling on a bench placed just at the front of Thomas' broad grin.

"Can we go see Thomas this year?" he asked. I told him I wasn't sure.

"But Megan didn't go last time. I know she'd really like to see Thomas. Please. Please! PLEASE!" he begged for the right of his sister's joy. Or something like that.

On a whim, days after this chat, I checked the website from where we'd have to order the tickets. They were for sale. I called Bruce. I told him what Logan had asked. He said "Sure" before I even finished. We've not taken a 'real' vacation in years. We take day trips with the kids. We live at the beach. When Bruce takes off in the summer we tend to spend a lot of time on the other side of the bridge enjoying what's local. We're planning a 'real' vacation for next February. Yet nothing was slated before that.

And so we now have this. Another three day weekend in Lancaster dedicated to kids and Thomas. Logan is right, Megan will enjoy it. He will too. And so will we. I've been excited about it since I ordered the tickets.

The moment I hung up the phone securing our spot, I pulled up the hotel's web site. It was telling me there were no rooms available that day. I actually wrote it off to the site being in a funk - it'd happened before. I kept forgetting to call though. I was in the office that morning and caught up in the things you get caught up in at work.

Today, when we got home from church, my guys climbed into the car and went south for another Daddy-Son lighthouse trip. Megan went in for a nap. I did what I should have done a week or so ago. I called for the hotel.

Sold out.


I called another hotel - one clearly not my first choice, but a chain which offered some bit of comfort. It was also very close to the railroad.

Sold out.

I started cringing in fear. Thoughts of having to stay farther from the event that we'd rather do started creeping in my brain. I stared at hotel names and addresses trying to place their locations and exteriors. I'm very familiar with the area having gone at least once year for the last 8 years. Nothing was clicking.

I tried another place. Same result.

I clicked yet another place. A small inn. I crossed my fingers and took a deep breath. Inn. Big house with guest rooms. On the verge of being a large Bed-and-Breakfast without the formal breakfast. B&Bs I love, but they don't often welcome children. I dialed.

Two rooms left with two beds. I took the one with the Queen beds and the farm view. (Of course this also means "open your window to smell cow manure" but frankly, that's fairly hard to avoid in this area.)

Now I'm nervous. I know nothing of the Inn. It's just past the turnoff I typically take. I'm hoping it works out. I'm hoping it's ok. I'm sending my parents over to tour it when they're out there in three weeks.

I'm kicking myself for not calling the day I booked the tickets. Mostly though, I'm excited. I've taken some pretty incredible vacations in my life. Yet I'm coming to realize these simple trips - or even the more complicated ones in the future - that thrill my kids are the best kind of trip there is.


Bubble Boy

There were things we decided to keep our children ignorant of as long as possible. I had hoped some of those things - death, for example - could have waited to make it's introduction longer than they did. Certainly there are still things we keep him sheltered from. At three-nearing-four, he's not ready for so much the world has to offer and yet every day he's learning more and seeing more than perhaps we're ready for.

Another hard lesson of parenting - you really can't keep your kid in a bubble. Not that we tried, well, ok, there is photographic proof we did sort of try. Yet the bubble in his photo quickly popped and so we learned our lesson.

Joke aside, we never considered over-protecting our children, just protecting them enough. I know we still are. Now is time to let up on some reigns while holding tight to others. It's just that become clear that my little boy is moving away from the "little" stage faster than I had expected him to.