While the cats away. . .

The last time my husband traveled he came home to find the bedroom all rearranged. It was something I had been mulling for quite a while but hadn't ever acted on it. Well there I was, older child at preschool, younger child amusing herself with goldfish crackers and suddenly the bed in a new spot seemed like the only thing that could make my day complete.

When my traveling spouse returns home this weekend, he's going to walk into a slightly redecorated kitchen. If I had the time and, frankly, the money I'd redo the counters while I was at it. I'd put in a new backsplash. Hell, I might even redo the floors. Instead, I'm settling for a few coats of paint. Two walls a nice butterscotch-ish color. One wall, a warm, inviting, brick-sort-of red. It's not easy to describe. All I know is that it matches the curtains I bought months ago and have been using with the walls that were never quite as true a 'tan' as I had intended them to be when I painted them 6 years ago and I don't care that this is a giant run-on sentence. Blame the paint fumes.

The kids went with me to buy the paint. They loved the paint store and each stuffed their pockets chock full of paint samples. When I'm done inhaling fumes I am going to search for kiddie craft projects using paint chips. Something good will come of this collection.

I had a plan. It was a great plan. Red paint takes many coats. My plan was to get primer on the red wall during Meg's nap. Logan could help apply the grey tinted paint. Then I was going to paint at least one of the butterscotchy walls, but preferably one and the corner of the other adjacent to the red wall. When the kids were tucked neatly into bed this evening, I would paint the first coat on the red wall, finish the butterscotch wall, attack the trim on the 1st B wall, apply second coat of red. Sleep.

Next night - repeat process.

Only it didn't work out that way. Logan and I painted the primer. We started the 1st full wall. I had it all trimmed. Logan had the golden paint dripping off his brush onto the wall. He was excited. He shouted a wee bit too loud. Meg was up. Megan - not conducive to real house paint. Bad, bad, bad.

What did I do? Well I ruined Grandma's plans to quilt today. I called her. Please help me! She came. She played. I painted. I painted two full walls with time to touch up both. As soon as I post this, I'll tackle the red wall. I'll sit and veg. I'll apply coat two. I'll sleep.

All this, and I paint knowing the last time I had whispered the "R" word as a potential wall color, Bruce's eyes did that funny little thing they do when he thinks I'm crazy. But you know what? The man is in Paris tonight - without me. And tonight, my friends is my 9th wedding anniversary. So damn it. I'm getting a red wall.


Photo Challenge - the summer edition

Anyone up for a photo challenge? All right. How about this? I'm playing even if I'm the only one. The thing with the new toy, ahh, I mean digital camera, is that it allows me to photograph absolutely anything I feel like without the associated development and film cost guilt. This means that I take more photos than ever. Easily upwards of 30 a day in the week I've had it. Which in turn, means I'll be sharing photos more often because really, what fun are photos if no one ever sees them?

I was flipping through the files tonight preparing to send an album link to the traveling husband so he can have his fill of smiley kid faces. It occured to me that a few of the photos I had just screamed summer. Thus the challenge - if you're game - what image just shouts summer to you? Share it in the comments here or post the image in your own blog and share the link. Come on. You know you want to!

My summer screamers? Check it out:


Thanks before Welcome

By the time I post this, it will be Monday. Not just any Monday but Memorial Day.

Around here, as in many communities across the nation, this Monday signifies the start of 'summer' no matter what the calender says. We get caught up in the trappings of the season - bar-b-ques, warm(er) weather, school ending or preparing to end, vacations, swimming, fresh fruits and home grown-veggies.

We get so hyper focused on the little things that mean summer, that we forget what the day really means. And so, before I too get caught up in the 'stuff', I want to take pause to say thanks.

Thanks to the men and women who take/have taken the mantle of soilder on their own backs on behalf of the rest of us. Thank you for the sacrifices:
- time with your family because those are days you can't replace.
- your innocence, because eyes that have seen pain and suffering and war loose a bit of the wistful ignorance the rest of us keep part of whether we realize it or not.
- and sadly, sometimes your lives.

My son loves books. He loves stories and lately, he loves one in particular series. I've mentioned it before - Logan is smitten with the Magic Tree House books. In each story, the two young characters travel to different places and times in a, well, magic tree house. They've been to pyramids. They traveled to the jungle. They've been to the plains and survived a tornado with pioneer children in a one room sod school house.

And to date in our reading, they have also been to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Seeing those stories through my child's eyes put them into new prospective for me. I put those books down in even more awe of the sacrifice men and women have made over the years - both in literal and figurative battle.

I looked around this morning as our pastor invited any veteran able to stand to do so. Among these individuals were old men bent over by age. They had seen a lifetime before they hit 30. They nodded at the applause as they stood. Humbled and yet proud.

Thanks to these men. Thanks to the ones that came before them. Thanks to the men and women that have come after them and to those that are yet to come. Thanks to you all.

Truth in Advertising

I was attempting to email my husband, who is again on a business trip. That's how we communicate when he's away overseas - we email a whole lot.

One child is still asleep. The other is the reason I am not.

As I sat typing my tale of last night's dinnertime saga Megan appeared at the doorway. She was crying the fake cry she cries when she wants her way but does not want to burden herself with wiping away actual tears. "I WANT MOMMY! MOMMY HELP ME!" she was saying over and over.

She stood in the doorway of our porch/playroom/office. It's a sliding glass door with a single step down into what used to simply be a sunroom without heating or A/C. We'd extended air ducts for both over the last 8 years. She normally can navigate the step on her own but only when she's got a free hand. At the moment, her hands were both full with Little People - Farmer Jed in one hand; Maggie in the other.

I lifted her and placed her on the floor next to me. That was not good enough.

"I want sit Mommy lap!" Megan declared. And that is never good when I'm trying to type because Meg's only content with being on my lap while I type for so long before she's stealing the mouse and removing my hands from the keyboard. (For example, at the moment, the mouse is sitting atop the scanner just out of her reach for it's own saftey.

I sighed as I lifted her. Moments ago I had excitedly informed her that it was Sunday and that meant Church and that meant she'd be in the nursery with "Miss Sue." Meg is a recent 'stay without a fuss' convert. She smiled sweetly at me and told me, "No. I want Mommy." And that just won't do today since Mommy can not bring squirming toddler to the front of the church to read her scripture verse today. Of all days for Daddy to travel, Grandma to be home with stitches and Meg to be extra clingy, it would have to be the day I'm scheduled to read.

Happily settled down on my lap, Megan grinned. She had gotten her way. She had won. She was putting her Little People in and out of their red car. "Watch out Mommy!" she yelled as she crashed the little red car driven by Sonya Lee into my wrist.

Planting a kiss on the my little 20-month old boss' cheek I said, "You are going to be a handful today, aren't you?"

She smiled at me with the seemingly angelic smile that fools so many others. She nodded and said very simply, "Yeah."



I've listened to the same radio station for nearly 20 years. Well, ok, so I'm not consistent. I dabble in other dial stops. I crank up the CDs. Sure. However, if I'm in the car during the morning rush-hour block, I have my same old station on. This particular cast of characters has been hosting the morning drive show for over a decade.

Every year they kick off the summer the same way. The Friday of Memorial Day weekend is broadcast live from the beach just up the road from me. Each year, at roughly the same time, the traffic guy pays tribute to summer, his youth, and Springsteen as he introduces Born to Run. I hear those first few notes start to play and I spin my finger along the dial to pump the volume louder. I sing along and smile, thinking, "I've driven up Highway 9!"

This morning I missed the broadcast. The only place I can get this particular station in clearly is my car. The radio in our living room never gets a clear enough single on anything out of the county and even that is questionable since we moved the unit around and failed to reconnect the antenna properly. I never think to pull the station up on the computer. If we're in the house it's CDs, it's TV or it's nothing.

I wasn't in the car when they were blasting off into summer.

I also wasn't on any major highway in town long enough to feel the summer crunch. Today is when the flood gates open. Now that I don't work on Fridays, I avoid the major highways like the plague in the summer. Everyone and their stock-pile of beach-related gear heads south the moment they can sneak out of work on a Friday. Those that don't do so as soon as possible Saturday morning.

If we go over to the beach, we roll out of bed and right head over. We can be on our way home by the time *they* start showing up. We stick to local roads. We avoid the mall and movie theatres on rainy weekend days.

We were home for the day by the time the higher volume of cars was starting to materialize.

Today also marks the time when most of our beaches go from free and easy to where's your badge please. We don't go to the beach much in season and so I don't tend to have a badge. When we go, we use the State park's beach. We have the pass on the car for that.

I didn't step foot on a beach that required a badge and so I didn't experience the shift there either.

I didn't do any of the things today that normally remind us that the unofficial start to summer has arrived - that we've kicked off the "money-making tourist" season.

And yet, I had enough reminder without all that. It started out gray and cool. It was even foggy on the bay when the kids and I burnt off energy at the playground. It was warm with a slight cool breeze when we chased ducks along the boardwalked river front. We wore our shorts anyway.

By afternoon it was edging in on hot. Meg and I took a walk while the boys took time to play. She caught sight of a sprinkler running. It fascinated her. The girl does not stop talking often, but especially not when we're walking. It's a running commentary for the mile or more we go (too much longer and we have to fight about the stroller.)

I wiped a bead of sweat from my brow. Brainstorm! "Hey, Meg! When we get home we can put our sprinkler on in the backyard. If you want to put on a swim diaper and your bathing suit you can run through it."

It sounded like a great plan to her. She talked about it the rest of the walk. She talked about it as we climbed the stairs to our front door. She ran to tell Daddy and Logan about it. She went back and forth between her two suits before finally pointing to the pink checked one with flowers. "Me wear that one," she said.

We got out back. I hooked up the sprinkler. Turned it on. She ran in to get Logan. Begging him to join her. I followed him down the hall to help him into his suit. Bruce waited outside with Megan.

I heard her as Logan and I were about to walk into the yard.


Blood curdling screams followed by, "I WANT MOMMY!"

She stood there in tears, her arms outstretched begging me to lift her up. She buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed, "Rain cold!"

Logan, however, happily darted in and out of the sprinkler all afternoon. Meg refused to change out of her suit. She was quite content to model it for us, just not to put it to use running through the sprinkler.

Instead, three of us laid in the green grass and watched clouds drift across the sky. The sound of Logan's laughter lulling us to a peaceful state. It was certainly summer time in our yard. And that's the only reminder I needed.



I had a good childhood. I had lots of love, lots of opportunity, lots of faith invested in me and from me, lots of all the healthy good things I needed, AND quite frankly, lots of stuff.

My mother was one of those crazy circa 1980-whatever it was women that stalked toy stores looking for the perfect Cabbage Patch Kid. Back before the time (aka today) when the mass-produced dolls came in a mountain of variety with trendy little names. Your choice was simply what color yarn your doll's hair would be and what color eyes she or he would sport. I, of course, had to have the doll that looked like me. Do you know how hard it was that first year to find any of these dolls, let alone one with red hair and green eyes?

Mom, however, was determined to do just that and succeeded. My doll's "given" name was Dulucy Mariam. Upon official adoption I renamed her after the young Irish student we had hosted that summer - Marina. I wish I could remember the doll's middle name. I think the re-issued birth certificate is long since been lost.

This all important and much too stressful quest had a limited range of locations dedicated to the hunt. It was mom, a phone book, one major toy chain and a few cheapy-type department-ish stores.

Today the kids, Grandma and I took a short road trip. We went to the place Logan nearly swoons over any time you say its name. It's a small shop. I'm fairly certain one department of our local mega-chain toy store could outsize this quaint place.

You find a few well known brands there - Legos, Thomas, Cranium games. Most of the store, however, is bursting at the seems with high quality toys I've not seen anywhere else local. Logan has amassed a small collection of Bruder trucks thanks to these toy proprietors. Meg is collecting an array of soft dolls and doll related stuff. The majority of the store's stash is educational in nature - real tot-sized instruments, sturdy, realistic trucks, craft kits, science projects, hands on building, exploring, learning, having fun.

It's kid heaven and a parent's dream. Things that can be fun and educational.

Today we went to shop for two birthday gifts - a soon to be 9-year old girl and a pending 4-year old boy from Logan's class. And of course, per usual, my kids left the store with a little something. When at mass-market-toy-giant I can say no to purchases. Itty-bitty brain food store, I'm a wimp.

Shopping for the nine-year old gave me a chance to look at shelves at which I do not normally get to look. It made me want to keep digging. Keep finding. Keep, dare I say, spending.

And it wasn't just about the kids. I found myself, as I pondered one potential gift after another, pushing down the pang of jealously.

All I had as a kid -the games, the figures, the dolls - and yet we had nothing like this. I was jealous. I mean, really, I think I would have trade in Marina that Cabbage Patch Kid for a chance to shop there. Yes, the same doll my daughter now pulls around by it's yarn pig-tails. (The photo shown here was taken roughly a year ago.)

I've marked a date on my calendar. Grandma and I are returning to the little store where wishlists are made before Logan's birthday arrives. I will spend more money than I ought to on toys he spent his fair share of time oogling today. Detective kits and board games. Dinosaur excavation and trucks. Oodles and oodles of stuff we won't find elsewhere.

And maybe, just maybe, while we're there, I'll pick up a little something for myself.


And it was a grand day after all. . .

When you're a kid it can be almost fun having a birthday on a school day. At least it was when I grew up. Once you were in a school with lockers, friends had something to decorate. It's something I had forgotten about until this moment. Walking up to my locker to find it wrapped in bright colored paper with streamers and bows adorning it. There would be notes scribbled all over for me to read and a balloon to take with me from class to class - to advertise "Be nice, it's my birthday!"

As an adult, things are different. Rarely do they decorate your little cube. (Although one year they did decorate mine but that's another story.) If you try to walk from meeting to meeting with the big balloon or the pin that flashes "I'm the Birthday Girl!" you get sneers directed your way. I suppose it is awfully hard to take someone seriously with mylar spheres tired to his/her belt loop.

I actually hate working on my birthday. Work is a place where I tend to get annoyed at least once during the 8+ hour stretch. There are occasions upon which I wonder where they recruit my cohorts. There are even times I wonder if the person on the other end of my phone got their degree inside the Cracker Jack box instead of, you know, a real school.

Certainly there are moments throughout a normal day at home with a toddler and a preschooler where I find myself outside the 'happy zone.' I don't pretend being home is nirvana - but annoyance with one's own off-spring is different than irritation caused by one's boss.

Yet here we were. A birthday. On a Tuesday. Working only two days a week, I tend to forget I still can't avoid the work day birthday.

I was about half-way though my day and I was feeling bummed. It was one of *those* days in the corporate jungle. The kind where I swear I will buy a real lottery ticket instead of imagining how I'm going to spend the money on the pretend one I typically buy. No one I still wanted to talk to was able to leave the office to grab lunch. It was looking like another dash to the food court and bring back something to gnash on at the desk.

But damn it, it's my birthday and I wanted cake. The food court offers lousy cake options. Instead I bought a magazine. I headed to my favorite quiet eatery. Got a table for one. I sat. I ate well. I read. It was actually quite nice.

I returned to find a giant (and quite HEAVY!) vase of long stem red roses on my desk. My husband clearly understands how much I dislike the work day birthday. He sent me a perk.

I left early. Kids had to be picked up so Mom could leave for an early meeting. It was a rough start to our time together. They were a little high strung and hard of hearing. Yet it settled down. Time in the yard. Time to play. Time to tinker some more with the camera toy.

We started baths. We ordered dinner to go from the local steak place. I read stories. He picked up the food. The kids went to sleep. I ate Filet Mignon.

When all was said and done, it was a good day. It started with family and it ended that way. Another year older. Another year wiser. Another year loved.

Can you ask for more than that?


Toying around

It was supposed to arrive late. Instead it appeared a day early. The digital camera my parents bought me for my birthday entered my posession today. I've not stopped playing with it since I got it home. So much it can do. So much to learn. So much to try. So much fun to have playing.

I'm giddy.

I've snapped photos of children. I've taken photos of plants. I've taken short video clips. I even took a picture of my eye - and the decided it wasn't worth keeping.

Sure, there's more impressive things I could write in a blog entry. There are were other ideas rattling in my brain. I'm simply too busy enjoying my new toy to bother.



We hadn't planned on starting an allowance with Logan yet. He's still a month shy of 4 years old. However, the exposure of mass media and older kids put the idea in his head. He asked for an allowance. We discussed. We decided we'd give it a try. He had chores to do that matched up to his abilities and did not include the things like keeping his own room clean, which he was to do regardless. In return we were going to give him 50cts a week. After the first week we re-evaluated, added an extra thing or two and upped the 'salary' to $1. Still pretty much slave labor. He gets paid every Friday and that assumes he did his list of chores without arguing and without having to be reminded repeatedly.

When Logan gets his money he puts it in a small bowl we keep on his dresser next to the fish and the piggy bank. This morning's dollar made it a total of $3.50. He was ready to go shopping. I handed him the money, Logan put all he had earned in the little wallet he had gotten two years ago when he first got his library card. He waited patiently by the door for me to catch Megan. We headed out to Target - where Logan walked nicely by the cart carrying his wallet in both hands. We found the aisle with the action figures and he ran to find Green Lantern. . .

Only they didn't have any left.

And if they did, he'd not have had enough money because I remembered incorrectly.

The figure within the same product line that I had thought I paid $3 for was actually $5. The one that was $3 didn't have moveable limbs and was about 1/3 the size of the other. He was willing to go with the smaller, immoveable one anyway. Instead I found a 3 pack of the right sized figures that included Lantern and another character that Logan absolutely covets but I've never seen before in toy form. The pack was $10. I told him we'd buy it but it was going to be put away for his birthday. He was more than happy with that solution and decided to put the smaller figure back. Instead we walked every aisle in Target's toy department. Logan would pick out something and ask "How much is this?"

I'd show him the tag on the shelf, "That ball is $10. How much do you have?"

He'd sigh, "I only have 3 dollars and two quarters."

We found a small Lego kit. It's rated for a slightly older kid but Logan adores Legos and is happy to have help putting the harder things together. The little Pod kit was $3.49. He held out his wallet and asked again if he had enough. I told him he did. Of course I also told him that he'd have to pay tax and explained that when we buy things we pay a little extra that goes to the state so we can have roads, schools, parks and "stuff like that." I promised him an extra quarter to help pay the tax since I had made the mistake about the original figure. When we got to the register he placed his purchase on the belt. We separated it from my stuff. He got his money out of his wallet and stood quietly waiting for the cashier to tell him what he owed. He handed her his three singles and told her he had quarters for her too. She counted out his singles for him and then took his quarters. He took the bag on his own. Then he stuffed the change and the receipt in his pocket.

And that was it.

So, there you go. He asked. We leapt and so far so good. For now, I think the bigger part of this exercise is helping him understand that the things he wants cost money, which does not just appear in our pockets. He didn't argue with me once at the store. He understood what he had to spend and that he wasn't getting any more added to it. For now, I'm glad we decided to humor him. I'll let you know if I change my mind.

In sleep related news, not only is Megan now an put myself to sleep and stay asleep all night kind of gal - she's also a "do it without demanding milk in a bottle" kid. It really isn't a surprise though. Meg merely confirmed what I've come to believe.

There are certain things a parent must insist upon - you will learn not to touch the hot stove, for example. You will learn not to run into the street. There are there things a child ought to have some say in - potty training would be a big one. Some children lead a little nudge to move to developmental milestones dictated more by willingness to grow in that area than evolution of physical skill. Logan has been like this.

Megan, on the other hand, is a girl with her own mind. We can hold our breath until we pass out and she still won't budge on our say so. She will, however, flip the switch on herself, in her own way, at her own time. One night she'll be screaming bloody murder unless she's got someone to rock her to sleep. The next night she's contently singing lullabies to "baby" (aka her doll) as she drifts off on her own in her crib. This latest mini-milestone was the same way. One night she was demanding a full bottle before bedtime stories. The next night she was refusing it out right and asking "More books. Mommy read Bob Builder now."

And so I read. And now that's what we do. We bathe. We dress. We play a little. We read a lot. We go to sleep.

All on her say so.



My brain is blank. Last night I managed to eat something I clearly should not have. It did me in. I feel better today, just drained. I actually have work to do and yet I can't bring myself to do it. I know nothing coherent will leave my fingertips for the computer screen.

Instead I will waste brain cells on computer games until I'm ready to find sleep. And I will post pretty pictures I took to adorn the walls of the little girl's room if only I could remember to buy the damn frames.


his own perspective

I bought Logan a geode. The exeterior is bland and unexciting - even a little ugly. The inside, if you're lucky, is beautiful and sparkling.

We placed the round rock in an old sock and whacked it with a hammer. I heard it break, felt it give under the weight of the swing. We pulled the remaining in tact half from the sock along with the smaller bits to reveal the sparking bits of crystal inside the hollowed stone. Logan was admiring his treasure when I decided to get all philosophical on him.

"You know," I began, "this geode is like sort of like a person. You can't tell what a person is really like from what they look like in the outside."

Logan seemed to think about my great wisdom. I continued to explain, "The way a person looks won't tell you if he's kind or funny. You won't know if she's smart or helpful."

He studied his geode. He looked at me.

"Mommy," he said, "You are much prettier on the outside than your intestines inside."


Different takes

We're here. We're ok. In fact, some of us are hardly phased by the events of yesterday.

The spouse - he's had it rough. It's sad. He's sad. He's not despondant but it's still there with him - the grief of losing a life that's been apart of yours for some time.

Me? I'm ok. I cried when I got up yesterday and sat petting the dog. I cried when she left. I cried when I dumped her toys and remaining bits of food into the garbage. I cried a bit when he came home with just an empty leash and collar in his hands. I got teary thinking about telling the boy. But today is different. Sure, something is missing. I find myself moving to the backdoor to call her in when we're leaving the house. I still walk a wider path when I enter the kitchen to avoid the water bowl that is not there. I step over her missing body when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Yet it's not quite as sad today as it was just a mere day ago. I know this was best for her. I know it's better now. And because of that I'm ok.

The boy? Hardly phased. He came home from his night over the grandparent's. He was excited about his new shoes - the ones they took a trip way out of the way to find because these are the ones he's wanted for so long and now, now his feet had grown enough to fit them. He held out his feet and admired them yet again. Sketchers. "I've wanted them for so long!" sighs this child of mine who is not quite four.

I asked him to help me feed his fish or to at least come say hello. I wanted him out of ear shot of Dad, who was pulled together but on the verge of renewed expressions of grief if the boy let loose with a good wail. It's not that I didn't want Logan to see his parents cry and mourn. It was more about guarding my husband from the picking of a scab that hadn't even had a chance to form yet. I didn't want to irritate the grief briming below the surface. He was the one there with her when she took her last breathe and, truth be told, he's more apt to simmer in a "half-empty" type of glass than I or, it would now seem, Logan.

"Logan," I said softly. He looked up at me with a big smile. I picked him up and plopped him on his bed. Sitting next to him, I put an arm around him.

"Do you remember how I told you that Tasha was very old and very sick?" I asked him. He nodded and stared at his new shoes. "Well, Tasha died this morning. She's not with us any longer."

He just looked at me and then, he said (thankfully without a shrug) "Ok."

Ok. That was it. Ok.

"It's ok to be sad," I told him, just in case maybe he was being the stoic male. "I mean, it's ok to be ok but it's also ok to be sad."

"I'm ok," he said. "I have my fish."

I wasn't sure he quite understood the finality of it. The complete end and all that. "Honey, you understand that Tasha is not coming back, right?"

"I understand. She's up in heaven now playing with Uncle Mike. They both died and they won't come back to play with me. It's ok. I got Swirly Whirly (the fish) so I wouldn't miss Tasha when she died. I knew she was sick and really old. You told me that. So I wanted my fish to help me not be sad," he said in the 'heavy' stuff delivered so simply way only a young child can pull off.

He got down off his bed and, calling over his shoulder as he walked away from me, said "Can we play a game on the computer now?"

I sat on his bed a little stunned. I hadn't known what to expect but it hadn't been this. When I had to tell him my uncle had passed, a man he knew before but scarcely remembered out of a wheelchair, he had cried a bit in my arms. This news, however, was met with less emotion than when I had to tell him I accidently threw out his spy glasses.

He went with me today to the supermarket, as is our Sunday custom. I don't even recall what it was that triggered his comment but I do remember it was present tense - Tasha likes those! I almost didn't say anything. In fact, perhaps I should have not said anything. Yet I did, perhaps smarting a bit from the dog's death, I did correct him.

"You mean Tasha did like those," I said, and then quickly added, "Remember honey, Tasha isn't alive any more."

"I know," he said.

"Are you still ok with this?" I asked him. I thought back to the dogs we saw out walking last night - two huskies running with a man on his bike. I have no idea how he got them to do that, even with leads connected to the back of the frame. Tasha would have been the first dog to audibly laugh if we had ever attempted such a thing. Then, I'm sure she would have articulated the words, "You friggin' kidding me?"

Those two dogs ran by us - two Siberians the same shade of light frosted grey as ours had been. Two with the same ice blue eyes and the same full, fluffed and curled tail. As they had passed, Meg pointed to them and giggled, "Ta-cha!" she said and we expected it. At 20 months she has no concept that the dog is gone. In fact, she was still tossing food on the floor to her this morning.

Logan saw them too. "Wow! They look just like Tasha!" he had said. Bruce looked away and said nothing. I said simply, "Yup, they sure do, huh?"

This morning, in the supermarket parking lot I thought about those dogs and his observation. I thought about the slip to present tense. "You're still ok?" I said again.

"Yeah, I am," said Logan. "I'm ok. I have my fish to love and to help me not miss Tasha too much. She's ok in heaven. I bet she's having fun with Uncle Mike."

And he reminded me, without knowing it, that death is sad for those of us left behind - but not so much for those that have passed on. I let myself slip into my child's imagination for a moment and I saw them - my uncle tossing the ball to my dog, who would, in normal Tasha fashion, refuse to fetch it. I wondered if my cranky grandmother, who was terrfied of dogs to begin with not to mention our husky she swore was a wolf, would join in. Sometimes tells me she'd not. And that, is just fine. Normal is comforting.


Farewell Furry Friend

In just four hours the dog will take her final ride to the vet. She, of course, has no idea what's in store for her. Neither do the kids. It's something we grown-ups hold close to the vest, pausing to pet her gently from time to time and whisper, "Poor Tasha."

I thought I was ok with this but sitting here thinking of it, remembering her better days has me wiping the tears. In recent years she's gotten old and cranky. She's not typically playful or cuddly. That wasn't always the case.

The first time we talked about a future, our future together, we drew the same picture.

"I always wanted two kids," I said.
"Me too," he said, "And a dog."
"I'm sort of partial to huskies," I confided. "Not that I've had one yet."
"Me too," he agreed. "We could name her Tasha."

We were newly engaged - perhaps a week if not less - when Bruce called me at work. "I found her," he said simply.

"Found who?"

It was the dog. He found an ad for 8 week old Siberian Husky pups. Did I want to leave a little early to go see them. "Not that we're buying one tonight, but let's go check it out."

We left the breeder with a 10 pound puppy in my arms who enjoyed chewing my ear the whole way home. It was cute that time. The next time, not so much. We brought her to the engagement party at my parent's house. I was going to Bruce's apartment after the party and would drive the dog back with me. Do you know how hard it is to safely drive down a 50 mph road with a puppy that refuses to stop biting you?

It was less than a mile from my parent's house when I pulled off the road and placed Tasha in the back seat, yet again. I wrapped her leash around the front eat leaving her with a short lead. She tried a few times to find a piece of me she could nibble on but gave up and finally napped on the floor of my cruddy Neon. We purchased a canine seat belt contraption.

Tasha loved to run. We'd take her to parks and to the beach. We'd find places for her to go off leash and just burst in full sprints. She, as you'd expect, loved snow. She'd bury her face in it and pop her head up to make sure we saw her. Her fur dressed with shimmering flakes and clumps of snow. We'd toss a snowball to her and she'd leap to catch it in her mouth. She'd shake her head a few times as if it were prey and then she'd settle down in the spot she'd hollowed out a bit and flattened - a nest - and eat her prize.

When Logan arrived she seemed to handle the transition well. She'd lay near his bassinet and listen for his cries. She'd stand next to us as we changed him - her neck extended toward him and her nose twitching. She really loved the introduction to solid foods.

By the time Megan arrived Tasha's health was starting to decline. Her thyroid was bad. Before they had a real diagnosis they had treatments for skin infections and ear infections. The pain went away and the weight slipped back to normal once she got on daily medication.

But that was short lived. The nose started. It's never been fully diagnosed but they believe there is a blockage. It started with sneezes - reverse sneezes the vet said - where she seems to struggle to get air in. It went to real sneezes where her clogged up nose gets unclogged and we all recoil in disgust with the stuff that she's clearing.

The ear infections came back. The thyroid treatment keeps her thyroid in check but it no longer helped prevent her ear troubles. We seemed to find her relief for shorter and shorter periods of time. The nose got worse. The skin infections returned. She was drinking all the time and running out nearly as often. The vet said it was most likely Cushings Disease but without extensive testing we'd not know for sure. The treatments were highly involved and extremely expensive. There was no real cure.

She was limping. She was occasionally losing her back-end when she hopped down the single step into the porch. She'd rise from sleep and gingerly put her back paws down, almost wincing. Her ears were off limits - no petting the head. It hurt her. She couldn't hear. It was time. We elected to skip the testing knowing that the treatments would have been something we'd have done if she weren't as old a dog as she is.

I remember now, as I see her lying nearby me half-asleep, those puppy days. I remember lying on our bed, bruce and I and the dog curled up between us asleep. I remember petting her head gently and thinking outloud, "I wonder where we'll be when she's 10. This breed averages 10 years old right?"

I remember the May just prior to Logan's birth. I was sitting on the couch with my swollen ankles up. The dog sat next to me licking my cheek on occasion. I was scratching her neck - wiggling my fingers into her thick fur that was shedding in handfuls at the sign of warm weather. "She's 6 now," I said almost more to myself than to Bruce. "Do you realize that if she lives an average life span, Logan will be 4 when we have to explain death to him? Wow. I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready to be Mom."

And now he is almost 4. And she, she would have been a full 10 years old next week. And I'm still not ready for this.


Happy Thoughts

I ignored the last phone call.

There were four this morning.

The first was to see if one of our people had been registered for the two-day show that opened this morning. I reminded the caller of our discussion yesterday. The one that went like this: "I tried to get him registered but I'm not getting the confirmation. I need you to find someone on site while you're setting up this afternoon to make sure he's ok for tomorrow."

My reminder was met with a simple, "Oh."

The second call came while Meg and I were at Gymboree and it was about the other event held today. "Are you busy?" said the one that is actually my favorite of the group.

"Well, we are in Gymboree. What's up?"

She was excited. And that was fine. I was happy for her, and, well frankly, for me. It was her first event. She had started the planning and I was asked to take over. It wasn't that she couldn't do it. It's that the big man didn't want a newbie running the show. I kept her invovled. I worked with her closely this week to make sure she was prepared to be our onsite point person. I had confidence in her.

We had promised the company we partnered with on this particular event that we'd get 20 good contacts to attend. I told my co-hort that we'd need at least 30 postitive RSVPs in order to get in the vicinity of 20 the day of the event. We closed yesterday with exactly 30 expected. She called me during Gymboree to tell me that the speakers had just started their presentations and we had just welcomed #20. There were at least one or two others wandering in.

She called about an hour later. I missed the call, which was ok because she called right back.

"When you placed the lunch order, what headcount did you end up with? I'm wondering I need to find someone. Think we have enough food? I was thinking we need food for at least 36 which, you know, includes all of us and the other company," she was starting to think outloud. I stopped her. I had ordered for 40.

"Excellent. This place, by the way, is amazing. It's just as pretty as the pictures. I mean [company founder] came over and asked me if I found the place and I said you did but I didn't know how and then he gushed about you and this place and then I gushed about it..." she went on. I love her dearly, but I was standing at the bottom of my basement steps with my arms full of bags and child.

"I googled," I admitted.

"Huh?" she seemed confused.

"I googled meeting venues and found it in the search results," I explained.

We chatted some more and then she decided she had to get back to the event before they wheeled lunch in. "I'll call you later and tell you how it went! Or I'll email you the attendee list and all that. I'll do both!" she hung up.

The phone rang again a few hours later. Meg was sleeping. Logan and I were playing. I worked a lot yesterday. Typically I don't do any work on a Wednesday. It's the day I reserve (if I can help it) for kid only focus. Last week I ended up attending an informal business lunch with the kids by my side. This week I put in nearly a full day from home. Logan and I didn't get to play much yesterday. We missed our "special" time together during Meg's nap.

The phone sang out from my purse. I started to move for it. I checked the clock. No. The event is over. It's done. There can be no emergency. The only possible question will be "What do I do with the extra stuff we didn't hand out?" and I figured the slew of management level types onsite could field that one. I let the call go to voice mail.

She was excited. She was calling to celebrate and tell me the details. I rubbed Logan's head. It could wait.

There were no mushroom clouds from the south. There were no ranting VPs on my phone. All was right with the world. Two successful events. (At least that's all I can assume since no one has called me in tears since that last ignored call.) It's over. I can now turn my focus on the big event of June. Four weeks to pull of a full-scale trade show. At least most of the work on it is already done. At least we just have one booth. At least I can ignore it for tonight and refocus tomorrow.



My son smiled as the phone stopped ringing. He knew what had happened. He knew I had made a choice right then. He retrieved the laminated project he had brought home from school. He drew a picture of me - I promise to scan it in. It is probably the thinnest I've looked in ages.

He had filled in six blanks with the help of his teacher. He provided the answer. She provided the handwriting:

My Mom
My mommy's name is Mommy.
My mommy is 100 years old.
My mommy is the prettiest when she puts on her makeup.
My favorite thing my mommy makes to eat isbroccoli.
My mommy is funny when she acts silly.
My mommy is special because she takes care of me.

He handed me the paper. "I think you should hang this up right there with all my art projects next to your desk. That way when you work or when we play games you can look up and remember how much I love you."

I hugged him. I thanked him. I told him I didn't need the reminder but I loved him for wanting me to have it. I suppose at 100 years old I could always use the little memory nudge.

And lest my occasionally smart ass-like husband think it's funny that my child thinks I'm 100. I have to point out Logan, who really does know my 'big people' name and my age, has told me Daddy is 151. So there.


Me stressed? Naw.

This is the week. The one with two big work-related events held on the same day. The week with oodles of last minute ends to tie up for both events on a day I'm normally 115% kid focused. The week where the work can't wait to be done after little eyes close at night. The week where other work related deadlines press and screech at me. The week that ends with *the* trip to the vet and we come home pet-less.

Yes, welcome to my hell week.


Take notice

I think it's important to take note of and relish the little surprises that cross our paths each day. Sometimes the unexpected is bold and right in our faces. Too often, however, we're so wrapped up in whatever ranks of highest importance at a particular moment that we miss, for example, the grey-haired woman with the metal studded collar around her neck. (No, I am not being creative with my examples, I was not too caught up in my own little world to not notice said woman at the supermarket today.)

The unexpected may be important. Perhaps it alters the course of our lives. It may define a new path or a new stage.

Other times these little quirky occurrences are also completely inconsequential. Whether we notice them or not has no direct impact on our lives. At least in theory. I think, however, missing the little things which have no immediate bearing upon our lives is bigger than we think. Perhaps I'm over analyzing it -- it'd not be the first time -- but I think missing the little unimportant things may be indicative of a bigger important issues.

Perhaps, just maybe, it's a signal that we're too wrapped up in something, too introspective, too pre-occupied and life is passing us by. When you spend enough time watching your children march through a day you realize the young approach life differently. They can waste oodles of time simply squatting close to the ground to stare at marching ants. They seem to relish the most unimportant moments of their day. They take notice of things we all too often overlook.

My son was not at all that 'old' when I first realized an important truth. As much as parents are here to nurture, raise and teach our children, children are here to nurture, raise and teach their parents. It's not about living vicariously through another generation. It's not having a second chance through your off-spring. It's about seeing things from a new vantage point. It's being reminded of what you've forgotten.

My kids have taught me much. The most important is to walk with my eyes wide open.

Capre Diem - seize the day - is certainly an important reminder. Yet it falls short. Don't just seize it. See it.


It's fun and it's educational

In order to earn a degree in communications I had to take a class in Social Psychology. There were very few classes that made me wonder if I ought to change my major - this was one of them. Not that I think I'd have enjoyed a career in a related field, but because the class was a blast. I wanted more. No, I never did take another, I was on a mission to graduate at a certain time. Adding classes to the required list of credits would have loused that up.

To this day there are several things from this class that float around in my head. Things I see that make me say "A ha! I remember covering that in Social Psych!" Funny, I don't often say that about my ID Science class nor my "Programming in Basic to avoid real math" class.

We were once assigned to challenge a social norm. A classmate spent the day in his medical scrubs. I don't think any of us flinched. Another decided to attend a movie on her own and talk loudly through the whole thing. You can imagine her results.

I had a plan. I needed a helper. We weren't supposed to have them. I made my pitch to the professor. Sure it was easier to buck tradition with an accomplice but really, my project couldn't be done other wise. She agreed, although in the end I think I was docked a few points on my grade for it.

Joe and I hit the mall one deary rainy day. I had such a crush on him, not that he ever knew it. We were pals. He made me laugh. I made him smile, just not as much as his girlfriend did.

We walked a lap around the upper tier looking for the right victim to test our theory on. We found her, or actually them. Three bored employees at a branded jewelry stores. Joe made himself comfortable at the engagement ring counter. I stood behind him with a hand on his shoulder - perhaps not totally necessary for the assignment to be successful, but do remember my crush.

Predictably the sales person waiting on us would take rings from the case and hand them to me while she directed her conversation on price to Joe. She started with a big hunk of marquis-cut diamond. Before I could speak, Joe shook his head. "No, I don't like that. I like this shape better." He pointed to a lovely square cut stone with smaller stones on either side.

The woman stopped and stared at him for a moment. She looked at me with alarm. I could see her thoughts. "Oh sweetie, run from this controlling son of a b(*$&." I smiled sweetly and told Joe to go ahead and look at whatever he liked. She sighed a little and handed me the ring he was pointing to with excitement. I looked at it briefly and handed it to Joe.

"Yeah, this is what I like. Let's get this one," he said.

"Sure, honey, whatever you like is fine with me," I said as I hugged him with on arm around his shoulder. He slipped an arm around my waist to one-arm hug me back.

The woman turned quickly but I still saw her scowl. She had no idea what we had in store for her. It wasn't what she thought. "Do you know your size?" she asked with her back to us.

"No, actually, we'll need help figuring that out," I told her.

She grabbed her collection of sizing rings and selected one that is near average for a woman's ring finger. She started to reach for my hand. I pulled it back. "Oh no! It's not for me. He's wearing the ring!" I said in mock-alarm.

She didn't blink. She didn't speak. She didn't switch sizing rings. She grabbed Joe's hand and shoved that size 7 sizer right over his not-size 7 knuckle. Yes, she got the sizer neatly stuck on his hand. She panicked. He panicked. The other two employees on shift located hand cream in hopes of helping the sizer slip off. As they worked to wiggle the wrong size off the "engaged" man's hand, I kept pushing forward.

"I'm going to wear my Grandmother's ring. We want to honor this as a partnership so we're both getting engagement rings," I explained as I watched Joe's red finger emerge sizer free.

"You know," he said, clearly bent on making a point now. "Back in medieval times the man did get the diamond." He glared at the store's staff and rubbed his sore finger.

They started to trip over each other. They couldn't get us out fast enough and that was fine with me. I was done. I was hungry. The food court was calling and then we had promised to stand with my roommate while she flustered employees at a toy store trying to find a baby doll for a her 9 year old nephew - yes she was in my class as well.

Joe, however wasn't done. He sat there and pushed further. He wanted to know about their credit policies. He wanted to know what the warranty was. He wanted to make them squirm as payback for his throbbing finger. They were clearly doing what they could to get us out.

"Well clearly you don't want our business," Joe said. He adjusted the gold chain around his neck and touched his watch briefly. He fingered the small set of pearls on a gold chain that hung on my neck. "That's a shame because we both like jewelry and we buy a lot of it." He walked out. I gave them a weak smile and shrugged. I ran off behind him trying not to laugh before getting out of the store.

As a parent, I realize that this was excellent preparation for life with young children and sales clerks with hard and fast gender rules. Do you know if you want to purchase a child-size broom you need to look in the "girls" section of the toy store? We didn't mention to my son where it came from.


That'll sum it up

Instead of whining about the sort of morning I'm having, I decided to just share a snippet that might really sum up the "them vs me" theme I've got going on.

We were late for for Gymboree because I was stupid enough to pick up the phone at 10:05. While I rushed to get something completed and back to the office, Megan watched a Little People video. If you've never seen them, they tend have cutesy repetitive songs throughout them that dig deep into the recesses of your brain and refuse to get out.

As we rushed from Gymbo to preschool for pick-up, I sang the one that was rattling around my head. "Welcome home. Welcome home. Glad you're back, right on track, welcome home," over and over and over again. I was silly enough to think Meg might giggle at hearing it again as I sang to relieve the nagging repeat of it in my mind.

"Mommy, no sing," she commanded instead.

"Huh?" I said, which is par for the course this morning.

"Little People sing that," Megan informed me. "Mommy too big. No sing."


Did you ever get an email from someone and wonder if they were drunk when they sent it?

I have one of those in my inbox right now. It's work related. I'm sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out what this person is talking about. I called my immediate supervisor. "Am I missing something?" I said to him, as he picked up the call which had been forwarded to his cell phone so very nicely early in the am.

Since he was dressing and not near a PC he has no idea if I'm missing something or not. He's looking in to it. I'm resisting the urge to respond to this very high-level person who sent the original email until I talk to mid-level guy. I'm holding off because I'm sure my reply of "Huh? What the hell?" is going to get me in trouble.


Whoah May

May is always been "my" month. The weather is my kind of weather - starting out on the cooler side of warm and ending with the opening act of summer.

When the month debuts we locals tend to flock to our beaches. The rides and stands begin to open. The sun starts to warm the sand. We don't swim; we just relish. At month's end the flood gates open - the 'season' begins. The crowds come with their large coolers and black socks. Time to lay low and visit the beach only at notoriously slower times. We head out early in the morning while the others creep on to the highway ready to sit in traffic with one another. We leave the beach as they arrive.

I age by a year each May. My birthday falls at the end of the month. Some tell me birthday's stop being looked forward to after 30. I say bring it on. My inlaws like to ignore the aging process; it's a point on which we do not agree.

Four years ago, May marked my 'almost a mother' Mother's Day. I got flowers. Two weeks later on my birthday the 'almost father' presented me with a heart shaped ruby and diamond pendant. Logan was due on July 10th. His birthstone would be rubies. He showed up a tad early on June 30th. Bruce has since bought me pearls (the birthstone for June.)Needless to say, Bruce did not buy me anything relating to a birthstone the second time around until after Megan was born.

Nine years ago we walked down the aisle. I wanted an April wedding. Bruce wanted June - we could honeymoon with better weather in Bermuda then. I turned my nose up at the sterotype "June bride" role. We settled on the very last day of May. We did have perfect weather both at home and in Bermuda.

This year, as in many years past, it's also the full reign of chaos in my professional life. I have two events to coordinate for next week, another for the first week of June, a fourth for the second week of June. Those are just the events. My plate seems to grow leaps and bounds this time of year without my resources keeping up. No wonder my various hobbies sit long ignored.

I sit here tired. Overwhelmed and yet excited. So much whirling past me, through me. It's time to take a deep breath and leap right in. Wish me luck!