My little hero

Today is Logan's birthday. At 3-am and a handful of minutes, he will be exactly four years old.

He's reached an interesting precipice of his young life. He stands at the door way of real "kid" - tenuously releasing his grasp on that little boy that's occuiped our world to date. He's growing more independent. His dreams and his desires become more sophisticated. And yet, sometimes he pulls back from it. Secretly watching the shows his toddler sister adores or not so quietly demanding to be carried around.

In his mind, 4 is a magic number. "I can't put my shirt on. Three year olds don't do that. I'm going to do it when I'm four." He's going to do a lot of things when he's four, to hear him tell it. It's as if the magic curtain rises suddenly when the sun rises in the morning. The switch is flipped. Four has arrived and suddenly - power.
Whether it happens as he plans remains to be seen.

Logan is, however, most certainly maturing and growing daily. His evolution, while constant and fluid, has been quite proflific over the last year. He's become the sort of person I'd imagine befriending if we were of the same generation. He's got a wicked sense of humor and a deep sense of empathy and compassion.

He's comfortable in his own skin - a trait I hope sticks with him for life. He's intelligent and seems to have a boundless passion for learning. He finds an area of interest and plows head first into devouring it - reaching, asking, pulling for more information.

He knows how to kick back and have fun. He tells jokes. He teases. He makes up his own stories. He's located an imaginary friend - Pinky, a ghost from PacMan. Oh yes, he's a computer fiend. He loves to play games - both the kind that rank as "educational" and those that don't.

He's giving. He cares for his sister with tenderness that warms the heart. He's a fantastic big brother that takes his role quite seriously - usually. He reaches out and helps people he does not even know with pride and dedication.

Logan is currently enthralled with the Justice League - Superheroes. The truth is, although he's too young to quite understand it, he's my hero without the red cape and the big "S" on his chest. Even at the tender age of 4, he's already taught me so much. He's reminded me how very important the seemingly unimportant can be. To stop and take a moment to just lie on your back and look at the clouds.

He's reminded me that sometimes a little cuddle and a kiss can go a long way to easing the hurt. And, conversely, a little edge in one's voice can sting more than you realize. He's taught me that sometimes being goofy when everyone is watching you is more fun that being nutty when no one sees.

Logan, above all else, taught me what it meant to love purely. There is no give and take required. He simply is what he is and I simply adore him for it. He holds an extra special place in my heart because of this role.

Happy birthday my little hero.


Littlest Chef in the Family

My brother is a chef. Not a cook. A real, honest-to-goodness chef. He even has two degrees, a fancy chef's jacket and an office name plate to prove it. You'd think this means we eat well - at least on holidays and what not. We do, quite frankly, but not because he's cooking for us.

Of course, the lack of tasty treats is quite another post in and of itself. This isn't about Brother Chef. This is about how we all cook in my family - well of us except Bruce who can't do much more than BBQ what's prepared for him or scramble eggs. He's a lost cause. I've tried.

When we were kids my mother always invovled us in the kitchen. There are photos of me helping prepare a salad before the age of two. We were always baking and cooking. It wasn't a surprise my brother ended up in the career he did.

I loved that time in the kitchen. It wasn't just the act of creating something from a lot of different nothings. It was simply another mechanism to spend some great, quality time with my parents and my brother. It was something I wanted to be sure would continue with my kids. (Plus I wanted to know my son could exist some day without requiring a cooking girlfriend/wife or a lifetime supply of frozen pizzas -- unlike his father.)

Logan has, in fact taken to the kitchen quite nicely. He loves helping me. He makes baked goods - cookies, cakes, breads. We take turns kneading the bread dough. He likes to punch it down. We watche it rise. He shapes the loaves or the pizza crust or the french bread. He makes dinner. He makes breakfast. More and more often he's requiring less help - he measures, he stirs, he pours.

Meg also finds the kitchen a joyful playground. She likes to help stir dinner and sample what we're making on her big wooden spoon. She watches us bake cookies, but hadn't yet dug in herself and helped in the preparation. Today, however, we took that next step.

Today, Megan made Logan's birthday cake. She helped prepare the pan by smearing shortening all over it. She helped by putting flour in the pan. She poured the cake mix in the bowl. She poured the various ingredients in the bowl with some assistance and then, all on her own, she turned the mixer on. She was very proud of herself, as she should be. She will be most impressed to see the finished frosted product. Wonder if she'll take credit for that part.


Penny for your thoughts

The person that offered me a penny tonight would sure get more than they bargained for. I sat down feeling like I ought to blog something and realized I had too much I wanted to commit to virtual paper. Alas, you get another of those all over the map rantings.

One of those women
I never thought I'd be one of those mothers - the one that reprimands your child for you while you're standing right there. It's one thing to speak up when you're the only adult in sight. Heck, it's one thing to speak up when your child is invovled. It's another to be alone in a supermarket and take on mom-duty by reflex.

I was standing near the frozen dinners debating, as I often do, what to grab for dinner that one day I'd be working next week. A mom and her two kids were stationed at the freezer just in front of me. Mom was elbow deep in frozen meals and completely unaware of her surroundings. Her children - roughly 8 and 5 - were battling. I mean really battling. The younger, a girl, had a ball she wanted to play with. The older, a boy, felt it is his duty to enforce mom's "We're not buying the ball" decision. Big Bro yanked his sister's head back by the hair and tried to smack the ball from her grasp. Failing to do so, he shoved her.

My gut reacted before my brain could think. I actually had to choke back the words just before the leapt from my mouth. It's instinct now, "Leave your sister alone! You do not hurt her." That I stopped. What I could not stop was "the look." If you're a parent or you have parents you know of what I speak. The glare that says "You, sir, are in deep shit."

I never realized it worked on other people's children before.

The boy, he saw it. He saw me stare at him with "the look" and he released his sister. She saw it too. She relaxed a little. He took the ball and ran. She screamed bloody murder as she watched her brother slam duck it back into the display cage. That's when their mom snapped back to reality. "What's going on?" she asked. I just turned and walked away before she could see my sneer.

I passed by them, the girl still complaining about the lack of a ball in their cart. She saw me approach and stopped whining. Instead she waited until she caught my eye. Then she smiled a great big sweet smile and said "Hi!" I winked at her, which made her giggle.

Geppetto would be proud
Logan hasn't been a big fan of bugs. In fact, the mere sight of a creepy crawl thing near him would send him running in hysterics.

That was until today. Suddenly my son has become an actual boy. The shorts that literally fell off his hips just a month and a half ago, fit him just as they should today. While I could carry him without issue two weeks ago, today I feel like I'm going to drop him if I hold him too long - his weight becomes so overwhelming. He seems taller suddenly. And, when we weren't looking, he became quite ok with bugs.

It started early in the day. I was handing him clothes to put on when I saw it. A tick to the side of his ankle. We live in deer tick country. A small brown spot with legs can spell real trouble. I panicked a little as ticks on flesh often make me do. I told Logan to just sit for a second and not disappear. I went on a hunt for tweezers.

I could not find tweezers. At least not real ones. What I did finally find were bright orange plastic tweezers that came with Logan's bug house. Bugs? Ticks? Why not? For the record, thick plastic tweezers do not pinch tight enough to remove a tick. I could move it. I could lift most of it from the skin -- but not the head. And, as any good resident of 'deer tick' zone knows, that is the most important part to remove.

Off to look again for the tweezers. If this hunt produced nothing I'd have to head over to my parents to borrow theirs. This tick was small. Deer ticks...they are small. Yeah, this will be a fun day. By the time Logan was aware of what was going on. Aware enough that he took matters in his own hands. He called to me. "Don't worry! I got it."

"You got what?" I said taking large strides toward his room.

"The tick. I got the tick out of my leg."

He got the tick out. Out. He sat there on his floor holding the little brown spot on his finger tip. "See. I just pulled it. I did it gentle like you said you would do." I didn't say anything. I tipped his finger over the old babyfood jar and dropped the speck onto the damp power towel. I got the flashlight and stared closely at his leg. I looked closely at the immobile tick. It seemed he actually got the whole thing out without leaving a trace of tick behind.

We took a ride moments later to the the Agricultural Center. They identify ticks for free. If you got yourself a female deer tick, you get to take the walk across the parking lot to the Dept of Health where they test the rotten little thing for lyme's disease. If your pest had it, you get a nice post-card in the mail advising you to see your doctor.

We handed over the jar. The kids amused themselves by watching a caterpillar eat parsley and making friends with the volunteers at work there. One such volunteer called us over. "You have yourself a Lone Star Nymph. A baby tick. Not engored. And, in fact, dead by the time you got it here. All the mouth parts are intact too."

When we got in the car Logan realized we had left empty handed. "Where's the jar?" he said.

"Oh, well we didn't really need it," I said. "The lady kept it."

"But where is my tick?" he asked.

"Umm, well, at the center."

"But I wanted to keep it in the jar as a pet!" he complained loudly.

One should note that later in the day he located an errant bug in our kitchen. Although our chief bug killer (aka Daddy) was just down the hall, Logan took matters into his own hands once again. He stepped on it - and did so hard, sending gross bug innards outbound all around the deceased. He was proud of himself.

"Logan, that's gross," I told him, as I pulled his sister away from touching the squished thing. "Now I can't even vaccum it up. Here, you squished it, now you have to dipose of it. Use the paper towel to pick it up and throw it out."

This is a big thing. At least for me. The idea of touching dead bug - even through layers of paper towel just turns my stomach. I am a vaccum girl. If it crawls and there is no spouse around to do the deed, I merely turn the Hoover on. Logan, clearly, does not have my qualms. He calmly, and frankly a bit proudly, took that paper towel, lifted the bug from the ground and tossed it in the garbage can.

And then Meg, being Meg, insisted on having a wet paper towel so she could clean the spot up some more.

Four years ago
Four years ago today (June 28th) I was checking into a hosptial, having my hand poked to bits for an IV line and beginning the process of induction. My quite annoying blood pressure that had been high in the doctor's office was down to my normal 110/70 range. It didn't matter any more though. I wasn't leaving without a baby in hand.

He was due July 10th. He'd arrive before that...and yet not quite soon enough. It was almost exactly 38 hours from the time they began the induction process until he crowned. Thirty-eight. Long. Hours.

And of course, he's worth every second of it.



We've traveled with both kids before. Short day trips. Long trips to the "Aunts." Yet, we'd not every really taken a vacation with both in tow. This weekend we took a mini-vacation.

Where did we go? Well Thomas was in town. We went out to visit the little blue tank engine. We did go a year ago - with just Logan. Meg, about 9 months old at the time, stayed behind with my parents. Last year's trip was a special birthday treat for our three-year-old first-born. We didn't want to take away from his big moment with a cranky infant that demanded regular intervals of food and sleep.

Logan remembered this. He came to me about 5 months ago and said, "Can we go back to Thomas this year?" I told him maybe. "I think we should go so Megan can come. She's big enough now," he told me and then walked away. I made the reservations the next day.

It was a good trip. Of course, as with all good trips, this one left us with many a memorable moment, including but not limited to:

1. Logan, loudly and in public, "Pennsylvania smells like horse poop. Let's go home."

2. Megan, giddy over sharing a 'Hodel" bed with Mommy, "Mommy? You wake? Mommy? Once upon a time there boy and girl. Mommy? Once upon a time, Maymin (Megan) and Brabee (Brother, aka Logan). Have fun. Dee end. Mommy? Mommmmmmmmy, you wake? Mommy?"

3. An avid Little People fan, Megan quickly decided that any and every Amish man was "Farmer Jed." Of course, that made every cow and horse, Farmer Jed's cow and Farmer Jed's horse.

4. Logan giggling wildly, "Daddy sing the Farmer Jed song again until it makes Mommy crazy."

5. Megan, upon seeing the giant inflated balloon likeness of her favorite Sodor engine, "Percy! My Percy!"

6. On the ride home, Megan, again, decided a van was no place for a nap. This despite the fact that she desperately needed one and would often resort to wailing, "I tired!" Logan, being the helpful big brother that he is, decided to sing her a lullabye.

Logan - "Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little Megan. . ."
Megan (screaming at the top of her lungs and shaking her head vehemently) "NO! BRABEE NO! NO! NO! NO!"


This and That

Recently I wrote a little about my surviving hydrangea. At the time the flower buds were beginning to emerge - some already well formed clusters of small flowers appearing in pale green. Now the color has begun to creep in. I had promised a photo of the progress:

On another topic - why is it that people who have no qualms wearing shorts that are too short for them and clothes that are too tight, won't put on a swimsuit? I mean really. The fitted shirt and the really (I mean really!) short shorts leave little more to the imagination than a bathing suit would. Or, even more mind numbing, why would a former acquaintence of the family go to a nude beach without thinking twice. (And yes, she followed the "when in Rome" adage.) Yet won't allow herself to be seen in a swimsuit without her shorts on and forbid any photography near her, let alone of her. Am I the only one baffled by this?

Yet another thing - Monday I went to the bookstore. I wanted to buy a book. For Logan. But not a kids book. I wanted to buy a classic piece of fiction now considered a 'kids' novel. We had always planned on reading these sort of books with Logan and yet for some reason I hadn't gotten around to starting. Then someone in a parenting group I belong to asked for suggestions of titles and authors.

It was one of those moments where you realize the little light bulb that is supposed to go off in your mind must need to be replaced. Here was my child, at a prime age for starting the tradition we've been waiting on for so long...and we'd not yet thought to actually start it.

The truth is Logan reads. He reads more than he realizes, or at least more than he admits. He won't, however, read a book on his own. Or at least he hadn't been. He's been afraid. He's been afraid that no one will read to him again if he can read to himself.

Thus the big books. We started one from the collection of books my dad once read to me, The Wind and the Willows. I'm not sure if Logan enjoys the book or enjoys the time - but regardless he asks eagerly for it each night. Since we've been reading this comparatively large book, he's begun reading his 'early reader' books *to* us. He reads some sentences effortlessly, a reminder that he's been capable of doing it for over a year. Other's he takes pause over as he sounds out the letters to form words he's reading for the first time. He smiles when he's done. He's proud. It's been a wonderful to see it all come together for him in a way that he's anxious to share.

Which brings me to Monday.

Every gift giving occasion calls for a new book. Our kids get a book at Christmas, Easter, birthdays, heck we even toss in one at Halloween and Valentine's. Logan's birthday is next week. Time to buy a new book - although we hardly need the excuse. I think we buy books almost every time I get near a store that has them.

Ahh, I digress again.

So Monday I go into mega-book store looking for a good book for a young boy. I have several in my hands. I'm wavering on one - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - mainly because I think we already have it at home. I ask the price on another book. The staffer tells me.

I ask her for suggestions on good titles. I explain why I'm looking. She asks his age. She scoffs at the notion that my soon to be 4-year old could handle the story. It's not a difficult story, mind you. Her concern is not that concepts will be over his head or it'll be much too violent. No, she's fretting over dialect.

But I'm reading it to him, I tell her. He's not reading it on his own. I mean hell, I can even adapt the conversations so the dialect doesn't throw him. She snickers some more. I leave with my the Dahl book instead.

I get home and find the Dahl book on my shelf.

Tuesday I return to mega-bookstore and hand the cashier the duplicate Dahl. "He already has it," I say to her simply. I consider walking back to the classics and selecting another book. Then I remember the sneering staffer. I leave and drive around the corner to the other mega-book store.

I find a staffer there - a retired school teacher - who is more than eager to help me find whatever it is my heart desires. I tell her what I'm looking for. I ask where the hardcover editions are - we're building a library, I say, I want sturdy books he'll cherish for a lifetime. She smiles. Her love of books is clear in the way she grins at me.

There. They do have the hardcover of The Jungle Book. Megastore one did not. The staffer here comes over. I've not asked input but she's eager to help me any way.

"That's a good one," she says. She points to another. The book Megastore 1 lady scoffed at. Tom Sawyer. "Oh, this one is good for young boys!" she says.

"I figured as much," I tell her smiling. "And some day I'd like to get him Treasure Island, but not yet. I'm not sure he's ready for all that. And I want Swiss Family Robinson and White Fang..."

She smiles at me again. A kindred spirit. "Sawyer is good," she tells me. "You know, if you were sending him off to read it on his own at 4 I'd say to wait a bit. But you're reading with him. Anything he doesn't get, you're there to explain it to him. He'll be fine. He'll love it."

I picked it up and thanked her. Before heading to the check out, I headed to another aisle - the one with the series of books Logan's been devouring lately. We read these with him too. The staffer was there before I was. She was pulling from this collection off the shelf. She looked at me for a moment and then leaned in close to whisper. "Don't buy that today. They're going on sale next week buy two get one free. Excellent books. I used to use them in my classroom."

I thanked her as put the book in my hand back. I'll be back next week to make my purchase. And then each gift giving season after.


My milestone

Call my mom.

Break out the baby book.

Tonight I hit a milestone.

Tonight I recieved my first ever filling for my first ever cavitity.

Not bad for 33 years old.

Now, granted, I am worthy of quite the lecture from the dentist for failing to see one for, oh, I don't know, way to long. Luckily this was a nice dentist who only gave me a mini-lecture. And I'm sure my appointment in August for a routine cleaning and exam will produce another mini-lecture.

Why am I so very bad about seeing a dentist? It's a trust thing.

As a kid I had an awesome dentist. His office was in an old bank. The vault (with it's door bolted wide open) contained an arcade - pin ball machines, PacMan, you name it. All for free. When you left you got a new toothbrush and a cheap toy from a giant toy box at the receptionist desk.

Not once did I have a cavitity. Not. Once.

He moved out of that office into a new one. He lost the arcade. I was in my late teens. I was content with the magazines. Still no cavities.

He moved to a third office - in less than two full years. Suddenly I had four cavities - two of them really really bad and I needed my teeth sealed. I told my parents I wasn't going back without a second opinion.

A few years later I had my wisdom teeth taken out. All four. Two of them severly impacted - one so bad they had to chip away some of the jaw bone to get it out. That hurt like hell. I vividly recall not leaving my bed for days - the painkillers they prescribed doing little to dent the pain. The only thing that helped was never removing the ice packs from my face.

However, the good Oral Surgeon took several X-rays before operating. I asked him as he stared at the images of my mouth, "Do you see any cavities? Do I have to find a dentist?"

"No," he said. "No cavities, just problem wisdom teeth."

No cavities.

And there went my carefree attitude about denistry. In it's place was extremem distrust and a desire to avoid going unless I was in agony. That worked for quite some time - until last week.

It started with a sore spot under my chin. Tyically when I get a sinus infection, bad head cold, or respiratory infection, my glands swell and the one under my chin hurts like hell. Assuming the infection/cold is bad enough. I figured this was all it was.

Then the tooth. One on my upper right side - the first molar to be exact. It hurt. It hurt when my tongue touched it. It hurt when cold foods or drink touched it. It hurt when I brushed it. Crap. My dental boycott was over.

I'm still numb. I've realized I hate novacaine. The last time I had it was back when I liked my childhood dentist. I had what he thought was a bone chip. It wasn't. It was a cyst. He never gave me enough novacaine. I cried that appointment too. Tonight the doctor gave me enough. An hour and a half later I still can't feel my upper lip. My right upper gum feels swollen and angry. I feel like cotton balls are shoved up in my cheek.

I'm new to this. I'm left standing in my kitchen wonder what the hell does one drink or eat when they can't feel half their mouth?

Did I mention I've not yet eaten dinner?


And so it begins. . .

Last year Logan recieved a little yellow framed, screen walled bug house. We collected a myriad of things in it that first day. The last and final creature to make it's way into the new home was a bright green, black and yellow caterpillar we found on my parsley. We googled "green caterpillar eating parsley" and found it was aptly named "Parsley Caterpillar." Go figure.

We fed it daily. It was ravenous.

We watched it curl up and then hide deep in it's chyrsalis. We watched it emerge and then fly off in it's new form - the Black Swallowtail butterfly.

We repeated the process and 'raised' a total of 5 butterflies over the course of two months.

This spring, much to Grandma's amusement, Logan and I planted a new parsley plant where the old one stood (and welcomed back another parsley plant that just seems to re-emerge every season.) Most people pick little critters off the plants they intend to use for cooking. Not us. We plant the very same plants hoping a mama butterfly will deposit her young on it.

And deposit they have. We have at least a dozen of them - currently in their infant black and white coats complete with little yellow spots. There are some growing into 'toddler' stage. Others little specks of insect. When they reach their big, plump green form, we'll pick off the leaf it resides on and re-locate it (leaf and caterpillar both) into the bug house. Another summer. Another butterfly to watch.

Photo 1 - Our current family of little caterpillars.
Photo 2 - Much loved butterfly resulting from our little experiment of '05.


Big day for little people

Grandma is generous. Grandma is generous on a regular day but when she gets a hold of more inheritance than she had ever thought possible, she is very generous.

First she offered to buy Megan's "big girl" bedroom set. Then, feeling bad that Logan had the 25 year old hand-me down from my brother, she decided to buy him a new set too. That was back on Good Friday.

When it came to timing, luck was on our side. Meg's crib was not in the best of shape. The side that lowered no longer actually lowered. It had cracked at the lower corner and, although repaired safely, was rendered immobile. Add to the crib's issues - Megan was piecing together the process of escape. Although she is only 21 months now, she's a good candidate for crib abolishment. If nothing else, she loves to nap on the 'big bed' at Grandma's house when she's there.

The luck - well although we ordered the two sets at two different places, they both arrived ready to be delivered on the same day.


We've been talking to Meg about the big girl bed. She seemed to accept that something was coming. She knew all about Logan's big boy bed. She seemed to understand she was due one sooner or later. This morning though, when her furniture arrived (the first of the two sets) it hit her. She was estactic. She kept throwing herself on the mattress and sighing deeply. She'd look up at us and whisper in awe, "No more baby bed."

"Is that your big girl bed?" I asked her as Grandma and Papa smiled, content with having brought their doted on grandchild such joy.

Meg shook her head no. She ran a hand on her new blanket and said in a hushed tone of reverence, "This Megan's Princess bed."

The guys (Daddy and Grandpa) had to work a little at connecting the new headboard to the very old bed frame. The frame includes a full-sized twin trundle underneath. It had been Grandpa's long ago. It had been mine. It was Logan's for two years. Now it is Megan's. Grandma and Meg left us. Megan would nap on Grandma's bed again today while her room was pulled together. (It remains to be seen how easily she takes to it tonight - and if she stays in it without making multiple visits to us in the living room. Wish us luck.)

Shortly after their departure, Logan was standing guard at the front door waiting for the Ethan Allen truck. When it pulled up in front of the house he leapt into the air. "My bed is here!! MY BED IS HERE! MY! BED! IS! HERE!" he shouted.

The delivery men put it all together for us. The bed. The desk and hutch. They placed the dresser to the spot I pointed at. Logan stood back - just far enough to be out of the way and near enough to watch the action. The moment they left he was yelling about getting his 'covers' on the bed.
He climbed up the moment the quilt was pulled up, settled in and gave the whole 'bigger boy room' makeover a big thumbs up.

He thought a moment. He seemed to be drifting into that day dream state he tends to wander into now and again. Suddenly he returned to us. "If Megan has a Princess bed maybe this is my Superhero bed," he said. Then he thought some more. "Is this the bed that had the planets and space stuff on it in the store?"

"Yes," I told him.

"Hmm, well then this is my outer space bed," he said. And he snuggled in to it with great peace and joy.


It sounded like a good idea

When I renewed the gym membership I got to thinking. Perhaps I need to do more than my once a week spin class.

The thing is, Meg pitches massive fits if I drop her off in child care. I had to wean her into it and use Grandma's handy "get her distracted and run" technique...with Grandma doing the dirty work. Or, I had to make up my mind to work out at night.

Which I hate.

The thing is, if I work at out night, I can't sleep. At least not when I'd like to be. I prefer to head over to the gym once bedtime rituals are over. Putting me on the treadmill, or whatever, shortly after 8pm. Get the heart pumping. No sleep for me before midnight. Easy.

I could work out in the morning. Yet if a kid wakes up while Daddy's getting ready for work - let's just say, Daddy isn't as gifted at the "home alone with two young kids and still getting showered" trick.

Yet, I had to do something. The lack of exercise wasn't doing me any favors. I wasn't getting any smaller. I wasn't getting any fitter. Taking two stroller rebels (aka - walkers) on neighborhood jaunts did nothing for my exercise quota. They stroll. They meander. They collect stuff. They take breaks on strangers' lawns. They sit on the sidewalk and stare at birds. We take 30 minutes to literally walk around one block.

The gym put out the summer schedule. Hmm, what's this I see? Wednesday's at 7pm Cardio Kickboxing. Oh! Now that sounds fun!

I'm an idiot.

I'm a tired, sore, can barely get out of my seat, no idea how I'm typing because my arms hurt so badly, idiot.

Was it fun? It wasn't not fun.

Was it good? If the fact that I discovered new muscles tonight mainly because they hurt for the first time ever is a positive indication, then yes. Yes it was a good class for those of us that need to be a little less smushy in the middle.

I worked out my arms. I worked out my legs. I worked out "the core." I bopped. I weaved. I jabbed. I hooked. I even kicked. And then I did squats - with punches. Squats without punches. Crunches. Stretches. And shortly before passing out, I got to leave.

It was the sort of work-out I'm not sure I've ever had before. Oh, and it was cathartic. Instructor says, "Really, really give those punches some oomph. This isn't just a work-out. It's stress release. Name your target. Set that fist towards something."

And in my little mind I said, "Hello boss-man!"

Maybe that's why I'm going back next week.

Just for fun photo of the day, "Feather on Mud":



I was watching my latest round of photos upload to the PC tonight. Every few photos I'd catch myself repeating the same line, "Oh, I ought to blog about. . ." And so, with so many little 'ought to's' running laps through my brain, I figured tonight was a good night for a this and that post.

Gee, Thanks kid!
Normally Tuesday is a work day. But not this Tuesday. Today was Logan's last day of school and I wanted to be there to take him in and pick him up. I took a vacation day. Only, technically speaking, I'm self-employed, which means I don't actually get vacation days. I get days without pay. And, since, technically speaking, my boss never actually told his boss I wasn't in today, I ended up with a pile of work to do anyway.

This is not something that often sits well with boy. I put Meg in for her nap and settled in to draft a rather nifty, fairly important document. "Logan," I said with as much calm authority as I could muster being fairly miffed at having my vacation day usurped, "As soon as I get this done, we can play."

That lasted for about five minutes. Around that time Logan's little head appeared next to me. "Mommy," he said sternly, "I think you need to stop working now and you need to start to play. Stop working. Stop. Now."

"Ahh, love to. Can't. Logan, if you let me finish this up without harassing me, I can get done faster and THEN we can play. Isn't Clifford on?" I said with a sweet (somewhat fake, I admit) smile.

"Mommy. No. More. Working."

"Logan. Knock. It. Off." And then I tried to explain it to him. "See, if I don't get this done, then the big boss will be very mad."

He paused. He glared. "And then what?" he asked.

"Well, then he might tell me I have no more work to do because I have no more job," I said. And it wasn't just fodder for my son's future therapy sessions. Big boss is in one of those moods where people get fired for a myraid of reasons. Yet I was annoyed. I was annoyed with working. I was annoyed with him for questioning my working. So I added in one more thought for good measure, "No more work means no more toys. It means no more peanut butter."

He didn't even stop to think. He just smiled at me sweetly and said, "And then you'd be a bad Mommy."

I'm not quite sure I recall what I said to him after I picked my jaw up off the floor.

Starting to blue
The previously mentioned favorite flowers are starting to show their blue tints. As promised, a photo to prove it:

Accidental Art
I'm still doing a lot of playing with the new camera. I like to mess with the different settings. I like to look at various photographable objects from different angles. Let's face it, all this experimentation means a whole lot of photos. My husband is thankful we're not paying to print it all.

This evening I elected to lie on the ground and look up - the bright yellow wild flowers next to the house hanging over me. I spun the dial, selected a color-accented setting. Elected to highlight "Blue." Aimed. Fired.

And this was the result. . .totally untouched by anything resembling Photoshop I swear.


And yet I forget
As we rushed out of the house to get Logan to school this morning I had a momentary glitch in the thinking things through department. I had flirted with the idea of brining my beloved camera and then brushed the idea off like it was a fly on my BBQ dinner.

After deposting Logan with his teachers, Meg and I headed to the park - the park with the nature center. And the butterfly garden. And the marsh with the big birds and the perfect alcove to throw rocks into water without worrying about losing a toddler to the sea.

Megan made herself at home, first, in the butterfly garden. I was watching her try to sniff the flowers when the thought first crossed my mind. "That would make a cute picture. Oh crap. The camera. I left it home."

Just because I'm obessed now, the three of us are going back to the park tomorrow. Mosquitos and pine flies be damned.


Thinking. . .

I'm not supposed to find last year's 'blockbuster' King Kong nearly as comical as I have thus far. It's currently sitting in perpetual pause - waiting for another night for completion as neither of us remembered it was a three hour film. And frankly, with an early start to the work day tomorrow, neither of us is up to stuffing the giant ape into a single Sunday evening.

Halfway in and I'm starting to get punchy. It was a good thing we didn't see this in the theatre because I'm thinking the people sitting closest to us would not find my "You think he takes steroids too? Should we alert Congress and Bud Selig?" nearly as amusing as Bruce does.

I'm also not quite sure they'd be up to hearing my running commentary on the natives - "Really now. There are what, a few million cannibals or whatever they are. You think at some point one of them is going to realize, itty bitty pistol or not, we can take that guy."

At least the big ape has shown up. I was getting cranky waiting for him. "Isn't this thing about the giant gorilla? Where the hell is the ape?"

I'll watch the second half just to say I did.

And then I'm going to have to have to find the girliest, tear-jerker, chick-flick to subject my husband to with the next movie rental. Anyone up for Tristan and Isolde?


A little green

I don't know why I love this photo, but I do.

Perhaps it's the subject. Up until a few years ago, I could care less about shrubbery. My husband had picked up the set of six that used to adorn our front yard the year we moved in. I had been on a business trip when he went to the garden center. The biggest plant in my purview was a hosta in the shade garden on the side of our property.

Then I saw a lush green plant with giant puffs of blue flowers -- a hydrangea. I bought it. I planted it in the corner on the other side of our house from my giant hosta. I fussed over it. I clipped it's flowers. I dried them. I loved having big vases full of dried hydrangeas. I was in love with a plant.

When we put the fence in two years ago, the "nice" men destroyed my plant. There was no salvaging it.

For Mother's Day last year, the kids each bought me a new hydrangea. The one in the back didn't do so well. Something about not getting enough water or being pummeled by the football and the hose caddy and Lord knows what else. The one in our front yard survived - but did so with just a few puffs of flowers. I was hating the fence man.

Today, I have one set of skeletal remains of a long gone hydrangea in the backyard (aka dead wood.) In the front I have a plant that is larger than it had been a year ago and FULL of budding flowers. I took several photos as night was encroaching. The rain dotted leaf shown above is one of those.

This photo of the young flowers is another. Now pale green, these small flower clusters will grow blue before they begin to dry out and whither. We'll clip off the large groupings and hang them upside down to dry. We'll stick them in vases and we'll hold on tight to the remaining vestiages of summer even in the dead of winter.

I think that's what gets me in these photos. The reminder that we get to bring a little bit of the long, warm sunny days with us into the short, cold times. It's a reminder that even though we, as a family, have faced the loss of loved ones, stressful jobs, and fatigued bodies and souls, there is still sun. There is still bits of warmth and cheer - and those bits get bigger and bigger with each passing day. They grow. They evolve. They begin again. Over and over. Perpetual return of better times.


Today in *my* history

I was watching my soon-to-be 4 year old son play with his LeapPad this morning. He had just put aside another hand-held electronic toy (his Pixter) and was passing the time as he waited for his grandparents to pick him up for their movie date.

Suddenly four seemed much too old. Of course it's not. In the grand scheme of things, four is but a beginning. It's the preface of a lifetime.

And yet in this moment, four was seeming well on the way to "growing up."

It made me stop and take inventory. Four years ago today I was counting down the days until my maternity leave began - it would be just two more weeks of work. I was thinking about how my first child, my long awaited, prayed for, begged for son was due in just one month. I was thinking pregnancy would never end.

Eight years ago today I was packing boxes and getting ready to move into an actual house. I was scrubbing floors in the crappy apartment and wondering how much scrubbing the new floors would require on move in day. I was hardly thinking about when we'd start our family. The house was just one step towards getting there.

Nine years ago, I was returning to work after my honeymoon. I was settling back into the apartment and the job I had started just before the wedding. I was answering to a new name. I was keeping house and making shopping lists and being all sorts of grown-up. I was wondering if we'd have kids some day and what they'd look like.

And then here we sit, in the present. The here and now. I look back to those days and marvel at how much my life has changed. So often I don't feel quite grown-up yet and yet I am. I see myself grow each time my children do. A little milestone for them means one more for me.

We're all growing. Inching forward. Bit by bit. Inch by inch. Moment by moment.


One down, 14 to go

There is one day left in Logan's school year - Tuesday, June 13th. They'll clean up the classroom that day and have some final moments of play together.

Today, however, was their end of year party. We grown-up types sat on little tiny chairs with cameras (still and video) resting on our palms waiting to capture preschool magic. They sat on the floor "criss-cross applesauce" (the PC term for sitting with her legs crossed in front of you. We used to call it Indian style - but that has long since vanished from use for obvious reasons.)

They sang songs - one for each season/month/major lesson unit throughout the school year. They giggled. They smiled and wiggled. One (mine) admonished some of us (me) about not laughing loud enough at the right time. (Mommy! You're supposed to laugh!) Some (mine) blew kisses to some of us (me) at other points of the program.

They got little buttons with their photos on it. They got a tissue paper flower to deliver to mom with a kiss. They had cookies and brownies at their specially drawn place settings.

One year down. Another of preschool and at least another 13 years to follow.

We left his room with hugs given and gotten from his teachers -- smiles and high fives from his friends. He was proud. He was happy. He was feeling quite grown-up.

Preschool was never about the cirriculm for Logan. The majority of what they learned in school he had already learned at home. It wasn't about academics. It was about social development. It was about maturing in a comfortable safe setting. It was learning to listen to someone else in a position of authority that didn't share the same gene pool. It was about learning to be his own person and learning to make friends. It was learning to be a kid. He did it all well.

We've seen a lot of growth in him this past year. I'm sure most of it is a maturing he'd have under gone whether we had enrolled him or not. Yet I can't help but think some of it came because he was there. There are still things he'll readily do for himself at school but will balk at doing on his own at home. We don't give in often, but that doesn't keep him from trying.

I love seeing him emerge each school day with the pride radiating. He holds out his papers and chatters about whatever seemed most important at that very moment. He seems to pull back his shoulders a bit when he sees his 'art' hanging on the wall in a way he never did before with his home crafts or art-class projects. On a Sunday morning he drags us to his "school" room before heading to his Sunday School room so we can see the latest changes to his classroom. He waves to the class fish. He feels comfortable and 'at home.'

He sings us the songs they learn or repeats the stories they've read. He tells us all about what the special visitors had to say - the dentist, the fire fighters, the snowman. He talks about his friends.

And that's the part that makes me smile the most.

Logan's birthday is coming. He'll be four the end of this month. We had invited a few friends - my friends and women I knew through various playgroup or child-related activities. These were friends made *for* Logan. Friends by proxy.

He asked for invites to give his school friends, "the friends" as he calls them. At first I was reluctant. That meant time with "the mom's of the friends" and that wasn't typically high on my list of things to do. Not that they're bad - at least not all of them. Inviting these kids meant a large party - a big group between the ones we'd already included and the 13 kids in his class + siblings of all shapes and sizes. It meant managing disappointment if a large number couldn't make it.

He asked again. And again. And again. And then, while we were at a party for another child in the same class, I decided to give in. These were *his* friends. These were the kids he's developed a relationship with on his own - surely aided by school and teachers that call them all "the friends." Yet even with the nudge, it was clear, these kids enjoyed one another's company. They had fun together. They wanted to spend time together.

As we left the party that night, Logan stood in the open doorway of our van. I was buckling Meg in her car seat and he was playing the part of "VIP in a parade." The 'friends' were also leaving. They'd come through the facility door, look around, and then call out to my boy, "Logan! Bye Logan! See you on Tuesday!" And he, sometimes not even sure where the voice was coming from, would wave back and shout "Bye! See you Tuesday!"

My boy had developed a social life while I wasn't looking. He became an actual child with actual friends. He was happy. He was content. He was thriving.

And what mom can ask for more than that?


How lame am I?

Over the last three months I've actually purchased three new CDs. Today I discovered a fourth one I'm yearning for.

The soundtrack to Cars.

Is this what being a mother does to a gal?

There are some songs that make me giggle with their complete hokey-ness. Seriously though, I've been walking around all day helping my son learn to play air guitar as we sing out loud and proud "Life is a Highway. . .and I want to ride it all night long. . ."

The movie opens this Friday. Grandma gets to go for the first round. Apparently, the first of ten. Or so Logan has told us. Not that he's seen more than a lot of merchadise and every available clip stored somewhere on the great world wide web. I'm fairly certain Daddy gets to go for the second viewing and I get the third. I'm sort of bummed. I fear he'll get bored of it after the second and damn it, I want to see the movie.


They say it comes in threes

My friend/former coworker is more superstitious than she realizes. She must always have cotton swabs in the house because the bad things in her life seem to happen when she's been out of them.

She also looks for bad things to come in clumps of three. When she hears of something on the depressing or tragic side, she almost holds her breath waiting for the other two shoes to drop. She can't seem to relax until they do and she's in the clear.

When I told her we had to put the dog down, I knew what she was thinking. Two shoes have fallen. When will the last one come tumbling down? My uncle in December. The dog in May. When and what would that last one be?

She got her answer yesterday afternoon.

An hour before the traveling spouse was to return home I took a phone call from his brother. My mother-in-law was in the hospital. She had been sick but not bad. Sunday morning was different. The nursing home couldn't help her any more. The ambulance came.

When the limo pulled out of our driveway leaving it's much missed and loved passenger behind, I gave my husband a moment to greet his very excited boy. Then I gave him the message. He took a few moments to see us. To take us all in and hold us tight. Then he called.

No new news.

So he called his oldest sister. She wasn't home. She was at the hospital still, but her husband was there to take the call. He had just hung up with his wife - my mother-in-law had passed away moment ago.

She was in her mid-70s. She was sick - Alzheimer's and congestive heart failure that aggressively stole more and more from her with each passing year. Although no one could have known last week that we'd be sitting here today, it wasn't a total surprise - it had been coming.

A year ago I had gone on a quest for pictures books written to help young children cope with dying. My husband thought I was moving prematurely and as it turns out, I was. . .a little. I knew it was all coming though. His mother. My uncle. Our pet. Death was coming soon to shake up my son's innocent and naive existence.

Bruce packed his bags today and made the 7 hour drive to his sisters. The rest of us stayed behind. Logan has gotten as close as he needs to grief. He does not need to be in the midst of it's greatest fervor. I will go, instead, with Bruce when the church he grew up in buries her ashes. It's fairly local. It's going to be just as difficult for him. We'll do it together.

I have to admit that my ache is for him and not for myself. Although he and I have been together as a couple for 11 years, I've only spent a small amount of time with her. We've lived so far apart that entire time that trips are infrequent. She never did catch up to the Internet age. (My husband's aunt, however, has and is a great fan, (God help us) of the email forward.) And well, phone calls always seemed a tad forced and uncomfortable. We had a cordial, not close relationship. As her memory began to fade, I, one of the newest and least seen members of the family, was one of the first forgotten. For some reason, she always assumed I was the waitress - even when we were at one of the sisters' homes. (No, she did not tip.)

My children barely realized they had another Grandmother. Logan had spent time with her maybe 5 times in his young life. She came down for his baptism. She remembered him easily enough then. Why she was here. Who this young boy belonged to. That was the last time she made the connection though. Each visit after that she struggled to remember who he was, why he was with her family. "Who is that adorable little boy with?" Mom, that's your grandson, Bruce's son. "Oh yes, right." Over and over. It flustered her. He was unphased.

Her name he remembers. Her familiar 'title' within the family. Yet to him, as well as to Megan, she was simply "Daddy's Mommy." The link ended there. Neither were able to pull it back to themselves - neither able to see she was just as much apart of them. They too seem more upset that Daddy is sad and that now Daddy is again gone after such a brief appearance.

And so here we sit. Without Daddy again. Missing him and aching for him. Knowing the third shoe has fallen. Hoping it's over. Hoping we can exhale again. And, for good measure, learning the lesson from my friend, checking our cabinets for Q-Tips. Hey, can't hurt.


You asked for it. . .

The kitchen is done. At least if you ignore the crappy floor and circa 1970's countertops and backsplash. I, for what it's worth, have elected to ignore them.

I looked for a 'before' picture. I always forget to take them. When we updated our bathroom I forgot. When we painted the kid's rooms, I forgot. The kitchen - I forgot.

What I do have are photos that show at least the wall color in the 'old' kitchen. Like this one of then 11-month old Megan:

And then I have a picture of the work in progress. Here is Logan beginning to apply the butterscotch wall color:

And then finally....drum roll please....yes I'm serious, rat-a-tap-tap on your computer desk. Here are a few different photos of the final product: