Perhaps it's time

When I began blogging 6 years ago it was a release. This virtual home was a place to come and let out whatever was pent up. I enjoyed it. I looked forward to it. I read blogs. I made new friends. I wrote regularly.

And then I began to write less.

And then less.

And now, if we're being truthful, this blog has become a more labor than love.

When I do come around to post something, it's done as a duty. Rarely do the words flow of their own accord. They come forced. I'm writing here because I "have to," which, really, makes the blog itself pointless. It's not fair to me...and it's not fair to you the reader.

So, what do we do now? Well, I think perhaps it's time to hang-up the keyboard - at least for a bit. I'm not going to take down these pages. I'm invested too much heart into them to just dump them all. I'm not going to say it's "forever" because it's nice to know I have an outlet when I need it.

I am saying I'm on indefinite hiatus. Perhaps as the calendar relaxes some or the urge to release the words building inside me finds no other place to erupt I'll come back. But the hanging and the lingering isn't fair to any of us - those that check in for new words and 'those' of us that feel guilty for not writing them.

I did make some wonderful friends over the years. Some of you have my email address already. Others are welcome to it -- for such folk that want to keep in touch or at least get a heads-up if I reverse course on this decision, leave a comment here with your email (you should be able to put it in the designated field outside the comment itself...but do what works for you!)

For those that have stuck in there with me these years, thank you. Your words and your friendship are much appreciated.


Six years gone by

Behind my desk sits a tall white dresser. It's not an expensive dresser. It's not an old dresser. It is a spare dresser, however, and it's loaded to the gills with photo albums and loose photos I've yet to get into other photo albums.

One weekend not too long ago, we pulled some of the collection out. Logan spent well over an hour marveling over how tiny he had actually been.

And I spent the same duration marveling over how tiny he no longer was.

In just a handful of hours he'll wake up. He'll rub the sleep from his eyes. He'll blink until the clock comes into focus. And then, deciding it's an acceptable time to let free his proclamation, he'll wake up the rest of us with the news that he is indeed an official 6 year old.

In the hot days of summer 2002, Logan spent a lot of time clad in a simple cotton onesie, lying on his back admiring clouds and blades of grass. Today he spends hot summer days mastering the latest video game, trying to perfect his "underwater hand stand" and striving to solve the ever-baffling mystery of riding a bike without training wheels.

Back then he took the world in through those big inquisitive eyes that seemed to dissect the unknown into small manageable pieces. Today, well today he's the same - the unknown just got bigger. Confronted with something new, Logan will study it with a fierce intensity. Sometimes the hands start to move - mimicking the motion of an item's internal mechanism or the way an insect moves. He may even whisper a particular math problem or phrase to himself over and over. When he's done that film of concentration leaves his eyes and he refocuses on whatever else surrounds him. He may have left "the zone" - but whatever it was that got him locked on is now etched in that little head of his.

Logan spent those early days visiting Grandma at her office - a non-profit organization in town. Perhaps the place rubbed off on him. Logan's a regular volunteer by his own desire. He gives time to everything from Meals on Wheels to fundraising walks and food bank collections.

He's an adoring brother who will also, at last from time to time, readily wish his sister would take a permanent vacation to someone else's house. He says this, often with a growl and a rage in his eyes over something or other she's attempted to do to him, but he'd be lost without her. He's always there with a pep talk or a hug when she needs them most. He's her champion and her best friend. Her "Brubee."

He's a good friend, not just to his little sister, but to any kid that comes into his orbit. He's the sort of kid that stops his own race to help another up from the ground. He's the one that's on the bench cheering his team mates even when he's having an off day. He's a kid that doesn't let a little thing like "language barriers" get in the way of some good play time. His philosophy is, "English? Spanish? French? Hey, a Lego is a Lego. Just smile nice and build."

He's a perfectionist and sometimes that's really hard. Things come easy to him and sometimes that's a road block. When something doesn't come easily he's quickly discouraged. There's a tight rope walk we work to master - bolstering his esteem over the tasks that need a little extra work on his behalf while keeping him level headed and realistic.

When Logan was a baby he discovered certain sounds and actions could trigger a cascade of laughter from the grown-ups around him. Little has changed. Logan has a sense of humor and enough self-awareness and confidence to apply that sense of humor wisely. Usually.

Sometimes he struggles to meld the two contradictory aspects of his personality. He can be reticent to change...almost to the point of unease. Yet he's terribly adventurous and curious. He's a serious soul that is a jumble of nerves as he leaps into new situations. He tends to lean back on reserved to almost rudely silent when walking into new places or meeting new people. Yet, he yearns to discover and explore. He looks forward to new opportunities with zeal and he relishes the chances to grow from them. He happily stand before a classroom full of peers and their assorted grown-up types to perform magic trick after magic trick. Moments later, however, he'll stare down an adult he does not know well refusing to speak more than a few words and most certainly not willing to shake their hand.

He loves numbers. He loves to tally up columns of them and then slash that total by subtracting even more digits. He likes to challenge himself with multiplication and he's decided that division might be worth his while. For fun he plows through pages of math workbooks levels ahead of what he's expected to have mastered. And he wants even more.

He's downright enamored with science. He declared himself a future doctor well over 4years ago...and he's sticking to it. Sometimes he even challenges his own doctor. And sometimes he's even right.

He's reader that lacks confidence in his own abilities. He reads well. He reads with inflection and even in varying voices associated with different characters. He doesn't always realize he's doing it. He sometimes doubts he can. He's a phonetic writer that has been known to slam down his pencil and declare "those people that made up the spelling rules" tremendous poop-heads. I struggle not to say "Well sometimes I have other names for them."

Above all else, however, he's my little boy that's not really so little any more. He's six. Just six. Little, although I'd not tell him that. He's just six and the proud owner of two, count them with him, two "grown-up" teeth. His face already slightly more mature for having sprouted them.

There are certain times the light catches his face or a particular way he smiles and I can see that small 6 pound, 13 ounce baby he once was. There are other times, even at this young age, when the shadow catches his jaw just so or the small furrow of his concentrating brow creases a particular way that I see a hint of the man he'll some day become. When he burrows his head into that hollow just above my shoulder and below my chin each night at "tuck-in", I know that even when that very routine becomes passes, the light and creases will still play these tricks on me. Who he is, who he was, who he will become - they'll all reside in that same face, under that same red hair every day I see him.

And, I also know that who he was, who he is and who he will be, will always move through this world as my hero. My inspriration. My masterpiece - who took the reigns and helped to sculpt himself.


Seven minutes TO heaven? Are you aware?

Seven minutes in heaven conjures images of teens exchanging kisses in dark closets. Maybe the phrase niggles at your memory pulling bits of an '80s teen flick that you can't quite remember who was in it or what it was about.

For many, however, the phrase is ominous and sounds a lot more like "seven minutes TO heaven." For individuals with food allergies, seven minutes after the onset of an anaphylactic reaction can be the difference of life and death. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction involving two or more bodily systems. Severe cases involve a sudden and precipitous drop of blood pressure and/or breathing complications. People that survive a severe case received as shot of epiphedrine within 5 minutes of the onset of symptoms. People that did not recieve that shot end up a statistic of people killed by food.

Tossing out a bunch of numbers and statistics doesn't really do much to drive home the point, however. Knowing that ninety four percent of school nurses reported having at least one child with food allergies in their school is unlikely to sway you. Nor is reading that more than one third of the nurses indicated that they had 10 or more students in the school with food allergies, and 87 percent stated that, compared with other health-related issues, food allergies among school-age children is somewhat or very serious. (as reported in a 2004 study published in the Journal of School Nursing)

Instead let's break this down and make it personal - what do those numbers mean? As a parent reading you and/or your child(ren) already know or will know someone juggling food allergies. Now let me make it a little more personal.

A year and a half-ago, my daugher attempted her first peanut butter sandwich. She was a month shy of her second birthday and more than a littel intrigued by her big brother's favorite lunch. She took one bite and spit it out. She hated it. She pawed at her tongue pleading with us to get it off. It was her only response and we assumed she simply disliked the thick. stick to your mouth texture. Hours later she vomited. Somewhere deep in my gut the little word "allergic" nagged at me. I pushed it aside with the cushion of hours that her sick stomach and her exposure had between them.

A week later we were baking cookies. We had chocolate chips and peanut butter chips to toss into the dough. The kids plunged their hands into the chip bags. Megan ate one peanut butter chip. She popped a second one in her mouth and her face quickly turned from that giggling, happy smiling face she'd been wearing to one full of dread. She began to paw at her mouth again as the tears came down her cheeks. In seconds she was off the chair she had been standing on and vomiting profusely all over my kitchen floor. We cleaned her up. We calmed her down. So we thought. She began to vomit again and this time bright red hives started to emerge on her stomach and back. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were filled with tears and fear. I called the pediatrician to confirm what I knew for certain.

Megan is allergic to peanuts.

Since then, we've seen her allergist three times for general visits. She's now twice endured a skin prick test to confirm her peanut allergy and, after breaking out in a rash from body lotion that contained nut oils, to confirm an allergy to almonds and walnuts as well. She's had blood tests to confirm the skin test and to set a baseline for where she falls on the severity scale of her allergy. (On a scale of 0-6, she's a 5.) Megan goes no where without two EpiPens at arms reach and a bottle of antihistamine close by. We are pros at reading food labels and navigating eateries.

Overall, Megan is a bright, vivacious three year old. She understands her allergy better than many adults in her world. She knows that her reactions have gotten more severe and faster with each exposure - including a recent vomiting episode on the heels of eating a pretzel that came from a batch "processed in a facility that also processes peanuts." That cross contaminated pretzel confirmed a truth she already knew, it doesn't take much to trigger a reaction and while we've not yet had to confront it, the next one could be one to compromise her breathing. She understands, in a way so many grown-ups don't, that previous reactions and the severity level of one's blood test do NOT indicate the way a body will react to future exposure. That's part of what makes food allergies so scary - you can't anticipate. You always need to be prepared for the worse case scenario.

Megan won't eat anything handed to her without asking "does this have nuts?" as she points to the label on the package. And this is the part that makes me nervous. Our family, my parents, her preschool teachers, her dance teacher, even her 5 year old brother, are aware that the dreaded "may contain" or "processed in a plant that also process..." labels are as off limits for a food allergic person as the label that reads "This product contains: [allergen list]." This isn't something, however, that is top of mind for everyone else.

A recent study indicates that up to 1 in 10 products with a "may contain" or processed in" label contains enough peanut protein to trigger a reaction in an allergic person. Or, in real life terms, when the mom in our dance class, remembering the two nut allergic girls in class, put the small Snickers bars back on the shelf in exchange for the Milky Ways she still had selected goody bag candy that neither allergic girl could safely eat.

As parents you have, or you will, bring in cupcakes, cookies, and any other array of snack items to class functions at some point. If you're in Meg's class, please don't take it personally when she's sitting with her own homemade cupcake instead of the pretty bakery cupcakes you sent in. It's not a snub. It's a cross contamination concern. When we're standing off in a corner with her trying to calm her down for feeling 'left-out' please understand, for a three-year old it's hard to have a graham cracker when the rest of class is having Munchkins.

This blog post is the sort that rankles some parents. Listen, I also have a picky eater who would exist on nothing but potato chip laden peanut butter sandwiches if we let him. Although my picky eater HAS given up his staple food at home for his sister's sake, I'm not asking yours to give up his/hers. This isn't a campaign to ban peanuts from schools. Frankly that'd be awfully near-sighted of me. Food allergies are much more extensive than one little legume - there are children with deadly allergies to eggs, wheat, milk, soy, shellfish, corn, and many other less publicized foods in addition to the kids like my Megan with her peanut and tree nut allergies.

I'm not campaigning for an end to Reese's. I *AM* trying to share a personal glimpse at a growing trend. And ok, I am asking that you take the extra moment to look carefully at labels when you're providing a snack for a group of children. Sometimes the "not safe" product is seemingly innocent. It's the plain M&Ms. It's an overwhelming list of jelly bean brands. It's the bakery cookie or cupcake. It's a particular brand of pretzels. I am asking that you do your research because even if it's not YOUR kid, it's your friend's kid or your kid's friend. I'm asking that you ask questions - ask the teacher "I want to send in something for Logan's birthday next week. Are there any allergy concerns in the class?"

I am also asking that eating products with the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish, wheat) begins to equate to "washing hands and face." Think of it this way, you're at the park eating your PB&J. You run off and leap back into the action - touching various surfaces as you go along. There is likely trace amounts of peanut butter left on your hands if you've not washed thoroughly - and THAT little bit CAN trigger a reaction in some allergic individuals. A ring of milk proteins left around your lips can transfer to an allergic person with a kiss. It may not send them into anaphylatic shock, but any reaction, for an allergic person that knows anaphylaxis is a possibility, is a terrifying reaction.

Maybe you've not made the personal connection yet to food allergies. If not, allow me to introduce myself again. My name is Sandy. This is my daughter Megan. A peanut can kill her. A walnut or almond can send her to the ER.

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. If you made it this far through this long post, I thank you. Now pass a link to this along to help spread the awareness to one more person.



When I'm not juggling the array of things the family likes to toss at me, I sometimes don my PR maven hat and write a release for my daughter's preschool. The last week we've been working on something to give the interested local TV station about the school's annual butterfly release project. Each year the 400-ish students watch roughly 70 caterpillars morph into butterflies. Then, on a day dedicated to spring and flying things, the classes take turns letting their multi-colored captives take flight with a release organized in one of the property's flower gardens.

Two years ago I rooted the symbolic celebration in the school's renovated building and new addition. This year the butterflies symbolize growth and milestones - the school's newly minted (or soon to be minted) 5 year olds leaving preschool behind as they begin their kindergarten journey. Not just them! Wait! This year's crop of 3 year olds have completed that milestone of "first year of school!" and now pick up the mantel of "big kids in the building." Symbolic joy all around.

This morning I polished the release one more time, got the big smiling nod of approval from the director and considered the project complete. The boy and I dropped Meg off in her classroom, of course, taking time check on the caterpillars in her classroom and admire how quickly very hungry caterpillars can grow. (And imagine! They've done it all without eating through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, AND one slice of watermelon!! I wonder if Eric Carle knows?)

It wasn't until later this afternoon that the words I had written really struck home - and it came in the very same symbol.

Megan was piecing together puzzles on one of her favorite web sites. I had been called over to admire her latest completion. Just to our right, on the same table the monitor and keyboard sat on, was our very own butterfly habitat. It had been a Christmas gift to me from Logan. It was something he knew we'd enjoy together based on our summers of hunting for little 'capperpillars' (as the kids have each called them at one time or another) to keep in our little bug box until they emerged with wings. Earlier in the day we'd noticed something different about our 10 little chrysalises. Three of them were empty and brown mottled winged butterflies clung to the netting drying their new wings.

My three year old was ignoring her new pets - the puzzle was demanding her attention. I heard rustling. It was either one of the flying things fluttering around (which we hadn't really yet witnessed) or it was another hatchling. The movement caught my eye. A butterfly emerging. Pulling itself out of the cocoon that had held it captive for 10 days.

It's wings were folded up and damp. It took steps away from it's former home and shuddered. Each pulse seemed to add more volume to it's wings until it appeared much like it's friends currently hanging around the netted tower.

I had been able to catch my breath long enough to get Megan's attention. She sat next to me, face pressed to the netting watching the process (and wings) unfold. "He's so beautiful," she whispered, already deciding every "painted lady" in the place was a boy.

An hour later I was standing outside and silently thanking the clouds for holding their rain in during "bus stop" time. Meg stood at the front door as I waited at the base of the driveway for the bus to pull to a stop. As soon as I returned with her brother, she gave him the most recent butterfly report. He ran to the porch to see for himself. He spent the next several hours, nose to netting, looking for clues that another one was about to emerge. So far they haven't.

Just before we got the bedtime routine rolling, they checked in with the butterflies one more time. It was then, watching my almost-done-with Kindergartner and my soon-to-finish-her-first-year preschooler, that the words of the release I had written came flooding back to me.

We're going to release our new friends on Sunday. Somehow it seems only fitting that these symbols of new milestones spread their wings and leave their habitat on Mother's Day. Although my own little caterpillars aren't about to make that leap, quite yet, they're growing fast and in the grand scheme...it won't be long.


Seeking. Finding.

I like to take pictures. This is no surprise to anyone that knows me.

Looking back over my stash of photos, it seems I like taking photos of pathways. Why? Well, that's what I've been trying to put my finger on.

The good news, for me anyway, is that I think I finally did pin point the cause of my obsession. It's about possibility and the chance to define where you're headed - even if it means a change of course.

When I'm standing there, camera perched upon my palms, finger hovering over the button, the trail before me has a purpose. It has it's own destination. Yet the photo is simply a road open before me - one that is pregnant with possibility.

Today I found another one of those poetic moments. Take a moment to look into the distance. The tracks run off into the horizon seeming to go on without end. Such infinite array of places await. Which stop do you take?


Dear Sanity-fairy

I know you're awfully busy ensuring the marbles stay put in so many other heads, but if you could just spare a moment I think I might have an idea that could save you some precious time. Life for moms and dads every where would be so much saner if you could, you know, maybe, see to it that their children didn't already know everything. It's awfully difficult to keep it together when the 5 year old or 3 year old is smarter than you. Or at least when they think they are.


Loopy Mom in U.S.


It'd be peachy without you

I've learned something very important over the last 6 years.

I don't like other parents.

Ok, let me clarify. I have lots of wonderful friends that are parents - these parents I like. There are lots of other parents that I can readily identify with or feel at ease with - these parents I like.

It's the rest of them: the prima-donna-mom's that force their crying girls into the dance studio because "she will dance and she will like it!"; the parents that do all of their preschooler's 'child led' project without the child's input; the dads that coach little league like it's make or break for their son's future in MLB; the parents that decide the teacher is unreasonable because she didn't want 80 bottle of bubbles coming in for "Spring Fling"; the parents that are peeved the preschool is not "academic" enough; and the ones that wonder what in the world they'll do to amuse their children if they can't quickly find some sort of extracurricular activity - every day of the week. Yes. THESE are the parents that make me cranky.

Instead of launching the giant tirade loaded with specific examples that I had been winding up too, let me ask you this. When is it that our kids get to be kids? When do they get to just sit and play? When do they get to explore the world and learn by experience? When do they get to do the things *they* want to do and build the life they want - not the one you missed?

Yet it's even bigger than that, isn't it? Why do we remove the biggest teacher of all from our children's lives? What's wrong with learning by falling? We do a great disservice to our children when we hand them the world on a platter - when we make it 'easy.' I'm not suggesting strife. I'm saying we all need to learn to get knocked down again so we can figure out how it is one goes about getting back up. It's not an easy thing to watch your child go through, and yet it's a gift that we can give them. That chance to learn they ARE not perfect but they are resilient. It's the one that says they aren't good at everything, but they are great at the most important things:

- Being loved
- Giving love
- Having the courage to go out on that limb
- Having the fortitude to try again and again

The more I grow into these parenting britches, the more soap boxes I find calling me. At times it seems that there are just too many when in truth they are stepping stones to the same box.

This one:

Young minds are sponges - but they absorb best when they're allowed to expand through age appropriate leaning opportunities and in directions they're most interested in going.

You had your childhood. You ran that leg of the race. Your job now is not to carry your children on your back as they toe the starting line Your job is to be the cheerleader holding out the cup of water for them as they run their race.


Waiting on deck

The air is crisp. The night still creeps in on the early side of evening. The grass has yet to green up. Yet they are showing up on ball fields all over the place - young children clad in over sized jersey's and caps featuring Major League logos.

Logan's first outdoor t-ball practice was today. For the last 6 weeks, he's been playing in the indoor practice center our VERY serious Little League program boosts. (This town takes baseball seriously. It's almost comical.) A week from Saturday he will march with his team in the Little League parade complete with homemade banner to be judged. Later that afternoon he'll play in his first game.

We've been doing a lot of talking to set expectations. Oh you know, stuff like:

Me - Logan, do you know that the very best player in baseball today only hits .340-ish in his very best season? Do you know what means? That means for every 10 times he goes up to bat he's going to get a hit only 3 or 4 times. Even the very best players in the major leagues make an out more times than they get a hit.

Logan nods and takes a pretend swing with his make-believe bat at some imaginary ball.

Me - Ok, but let's think about this in terms of your t-ball game. If you go an entire game with just one hit what does that mean?

Logan (with a great burst of pride and enthusiasm) - It means I'm just as good as A-Rod!!

Look, if it prevents tears on the field, I'm ok with it. If he starts to call some super-powered, egotistical, monster agent to neogiate a contract with his t-ball team, then we'll reset his parameters of thought.


Catching my breath

Six years ago, I made the choice to quit full-time work and find a solution that allowed me to meet our financial needs without giving up more time at home then necessary. It was an easy choice to make but a hard one to implement. In the back of my mind was Harry Chapin's song "Cats in the Cradle." I never wanted to be "that" parent. So far. So good.

Lately, however, the corner of the blogosphere I'd been frequenting could easily say I've been neglectful. I don't blog regularly and I surely don't read elsewhere all that often. I'm not apologizing for it; it's simply been a causality of a busy life. It does mean, however, that I've fallen out of touch with some friends. I'm slowly trying to catch up here and there. Bear with me.

Back to the kids and the cat. Well no, I don't own a cat. Real cats make my eyes itch and my nose stuff up. I'm talking about that song again. It's been a while, so you might have forgotten - I'm one of those stream-of-consciousness writers.

In January I struggled to find a "50% off calender" I really liked. This thing has to hang on my wall for 12 months, I need to adore the images at least a little. I finally settled upon one of those "family organizers" with big, lined blocks that stretched the wall calender to two pages and the graphic to a mere header. I never thought I'd fill up those blocks, but I went with it.

The truth?

I've run out of room in some of those blocks.

Sometimes it's the incredibly mundane. Other times its a tad off the wall. "2 slices of bread into K. Easter Grass for K. Press release to T. Dog sit - Let S out am." That's my Monday. And that's just what I fit in the little space on my wall calender.

There's dance class and t-ball games. There's "read Dr. Seuss to Kindergarten" and "Family Fun night at preschool." There's meetings. There's haircuts. There's work. There's all that stuff that makes a family dash.

And it's all good.

Somewhere between scheduling and the fullness of life, we sneak in some down time too. These are the moments I cherish. The ones I think about jotting down in a blog or a journal somewhere so I can preserve the daily nuances that make these quirky people mine. Yet the intent barely makes it past the idea stage.

The truth, however, is that I'm ok with that. I'm too caught up in living it to document it - well ok, so I do often photograph it.

Here's the quick summary. The boy is mind-boggling good with numbers. He's 5 1/2. He multiples stuff like 15 x 3 or 12 x 12 in his head without missing a beat. He subtracts stuff like 247 - 24 or 1299 - 20 - 100 without pause. He's constantly asking for equations to play with or pelting us with numbers to manipulate for him. If this stuff is inherited, then he's got some mutated genes. Math and me? We do not get along. Numbers aren't a big fan of Dad either.

The girl is determined to read. We work on it when she wants; she is, after all, only 3. There's no hurry. Last night she wanted to try. She proceeded to sound out most of the words on the first 5 pages of Hop on Pop. Logan reads everything in sight - Meg will be there sooner rather than later. Clearly their blog fodderness will need to find it's way 'press' after bed time.

Girl is in love with her dance classes. Boy is loving t-ball. They have picked up a passion for photographing anything in their path. They're really pretty good at it. They play. They sing. They write. They draw and create. They love. They are the two best huggers I know. That makes all those challeneging moments worth it.


New Math

We play a lot of hide-and-seek in our house. It burns energy. It amuses them immensely and as a side-benefit, it helps hone their ability to count. All good stuff, right?

Yesterday they begin playing and my 3 year old decides to change up the rules. "Wogan," she says to her 5 year old brother, "Don't count to 10. Count to 20 so I have more time."

He starts to argue but the look on her face tells him it's only going to mean a long drawn out, game ending battle. He relents. He's 5, after all, he can work his way around her rule. With a nod he turns to face the wall and she starts to dash off giggling.

"2....4.....6...." he counts out loud.

She stops in her tracks. "Wogan!" she yells, "You're doing it wrong! Mom!! My brother is doing it wrong. Wogan you're missing numbers!"

Logan smiles at her sweetly, "No Megan, I'm counting right. I'm counting by twos. It's called skip counting. I'm going to skip count to 20."

She weighs this and then finally decides it's time to hide. She takes off running again and he returns to his count. He comes down the hall seeking - and he does so like a good big brother pretending not to know where she is even though she's been in the same spot the last 4 times. He inches closer to that very spot, looking everywhere BUT the space behind the recliner he knows she's wedged into. She leaps out and yells "BOO!"

He feigns surprise before calling out "Ok. My turn to hide!"

She, who usually remains in her spot to count, rises from behind the chair and starts to hop from foot to foot. "1" she says as the first foot fits the ground and her knee desperately tries to reach waist level. "2" she says as the opposite foot hits the floor. "3, 4, 5...." feet alternate as she hops out of the room towards the hall to seek her prey.

"Meg honey?" I ask my bopping and hopping child, "What are you doing?"

She looks at me like I've got those extra heads sprouting from my shoulders again. "Moooom!" she drags the word out to display her annoyance, "I'm SKIP counting! Geesh."


Fairy dust and milestones

Some milestones come and go marked only by some momentos or photographs. Some leave lasting changes - sitting unassisted, first steps, first words, first teeth. Then there's the milestones like the one Logan marked today.

Logan was about 6 months old when the first edges of a tooth broke through his gums. We have pictures of that baby smile with little white, sharp edges flashing out of pinky flesh.

Nearly 5 years on the nose from the emergence of that first tooth, that very same baby tooth began to wiggle. Today, that baby tooth fell out.

Understandably the boy is estatic. He's told nearly everyone he knows today with plans to tell the rest when he sees them tomorrow. He went to bed with high hopes of waking up to find photographic proof of what the tooth fairy sculptes with all those colleted teeth and a gold coin waiting for him. He's gleefully traded in "Mr. Wiggles", the nickname I gave him, for a new nickname, "Gap." He's anxious to wear the new long-sleeve tee that is emblazoned with this nickname. (Of course, remarkably it looks much like the logo of a certain clothing chain. Imagine that. Let's all give thanks to the clearance rack.)

In his young mind this is huge. This is on par with the first day of Kindgarten and that day way off in the future when you get your driver's license for the first time. This is a right of passage.

Of course, his view of it really isn't off the mark is it?

It was easy to still see him as that 'little kid' who was part of the little ones in the school even though the bus took them to and fro. It was easy to see him as a bigger version of what he's always been. Yet today the tooth became a symbol, a reminder that there's more to it than that. Today he lost a little piece of babyhood to make room for the next stage of his life.

I've been told that his face will change as those big teeth move in. Those remaining vestiages of his 'baby-face' will make way for his next rendition. The process still lies ahead of us, certainly. This is but one tooth. And yet, it's the first step.

Tommorow he'll wake, giddy to find his golden coin, his note, a toothbrush and some "fairy dust" (aka star shaped glitter.) He'll enjoy another day of showing off his new look and then he'll begin pulling and pushing on his other teeth - waiting. Hoping. Ready for step number 2.


Take me back to '84

Tonight I was 11 years old again.

As a child of the 80s it shouldn't be a surprise that I did my time as a Knight Rider groupie. I was 9 years old when "The Hoff" was cool and a black T-top convertible was THE car to pine for. From it's debut in 1982 to it's sign-off in 1986(yes I had to look those dates up) I watched faithfully. For my best friend and I, Knight Rider was the grade-school, and then junior high, equivalent to water cooler fodder.

Tonight the latest attempt to revive a little 80s flair took to the air. I watched. How could I not? I watched and I found myself glued - again. I'm not reviewing the made-for-TV-movie-pilot-in-disguise. I didn't watch it with an eye towards it's own merits. I watched it as the catalyst to take a trip down memory lane.

For a few hours tonight I was 11 again and it was 1984. The chill of a winter wind and rain storm meant nothing to my feet thanks to my beloved wigwam socks. My copy of Thriller was idle in my boom box - who can listen to the one-gloved wonder when "my" show is on, especially when, for a few hours anyway, he wasn't some freaky, bleached out middle-aged guy? My big poof 80s hair was doing it's big poof thing.

The moment it went off, 2008 came trickling back. Of course, I did manage to use my non-80s-esque Internet access to email the aforementioned best friend a little water cooler talk. While we're sipping our virtual beverages let me ask you - do you think KITT is any good at disipline? Can I get my mommy-car outfitted with that voice module?

Seriously though, now all I need is for Scarecrow and Mrs. King to make a comeback.


Madness of the TV deprived

Irregardless of which side I'm on (writers), this whole strike-so-no-new-programming-just-oodles-of-reality-tv is putting a real damper on my mission to completely veg out on the couch after a long day. While I'm finding myself oddly addicted to programming I had never in a million years imagined I'd enjoy (Project Runway), I also found the clicker finger stalling out somewhere in the 24-hour news network range of channels the last two nights.

Yes, this means I watched the debates.

Now, don't get me wrong. Deep down I'm a political junky. In fact, in other places on the web I even wax poetic on all sorts of political/news/social issue topics over at The Soccer Mom Vote . But debates? Really? It's rare that I sit still long enough to absorb anything relevant from them. I've never found them to be anything more than some verbose posturing by giant egos who have spent hours and hours of prep time being coached by the little people that live behind the scenes. Nothing new is ever said. A good debate, in my view, is a regurgitation of some decent sound bytes. (Lockbox? Read my lips? It's the economy stupid? Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy? Am I ringing any bells?)

Except that was all in the past. That was not in the era of the WGA strike. The lack of alternative programming means I've developed a new appreciation for the debates. No, I'm being serious. These things are the best reality TV show going.

Of course, if we're talking issues and reasons to vote for a person, I still can't tell you much more than sound bytes from any of the 6 people I saw on a dais the last two days. BUT, I can tell you lots of other things I learned from watching them fight it out amongst their respective parties.

For example:

- Did you know Ron Paul has ears like Ross Perot? Not only that, but he also has that same "eccentric little guy" thing in common with Mr. Independent.

- I'm not the only one that thinks Mike Huckabee bears at least a slight resemblance to Richard Nixon. (Go ahead. Google their names together and find more like me. It's down right spooky.)

- To be a (near) front runner in your party's race, you need to perfect the "Holier than thou but I'm still sincere" smirk. McCain, Romney, Clinton and Obama all have it. Don't believe me? Watch any of them when their opponent speaks. It's all Miss America smile while the eyes say "Oh give me a break."

- If you're in distant, distant third but refuse to give up, it's really cool to whine to the moderators "You know, I didn't come here to referee. I want questions too." Do that a few times. It amuses people like me sitting on the couch at home. I was waiting for Simon Cowell to roll one of the CNN folks out of the way so he could lay down some snark on Gov. Huckabee. Now that might have been fun.

- I heard that the senior (and I do mean senior) Senator from Massachusetts has compared Senator Obama to his late brother JFK. This came flying back to me around the same time I decided Gov Mike was channeling Nixon. "Oh! Can we do an two party debate right after the Super Bowl?!" I asked my husband. "I want to see if we can recreate 1960."


Google images don't fail me now

This morning we made an important discovery. One of the bottom center teeth in the boy's mouth is loose. At 5 1/2 years old, its his first loose tooth. To say he's excited is an understatement.

After running laps around our house yelling "“MY TOOTH IS LOOSE!!!”, he made a couple of phone calls - Grandparents and Daddy. He insists that Dad tell the boss too. Being a good listener (sometimes) Dad does just that. The boss, being humored by a 5 year old, sends home a gold dollar coin.

By dinner time, Logan had regaled a slew of people with his news including: Grandma, Papa, sister, Dad, Dad's boss (indirect), the bus driver in, the substitute teacher, the art teacher, the kids on the bus to and fro, the kids at his table in class, the bus driver home. I'm sure if he could have figure out how to do it he'd have commandeered the PA system at school too.

When he's not talking about that tooth, he's wiggling it with his finger or his tongue. That thing is going to pop out sooner than it may want to. I find comfort in the fact that there's a gold dollar sitting in my jewelry box - something I had discovered was erroneously given in place of a quarter weeks after the fact. When I made the fine in my "spare change holder" in the car I stashed it away assuming sooner or later we'd find ourselves right where we are.

But then there’s tonight. The boy is going to be the death of me. Here, ease drop on our conversation as I tucked him earlier:

Logan (seemingly out of no where) – What does she do with them?

Me – Who do with what?

Logan – The teeth.

Me – You mean the tooth fairy? Umm, well that’s a good question. What do you think she does with them?

Logan – I think she uses them to build a castle. Or maybe sculptures in her garden. That’s why she leaves money. She’s buying them.

Me – Maybe she just uses magic to change them into money.

Logan – No. She’s building something. Instead of money I hope she leaves me a picture of what she’s building.

Me – Oh, wow, yeah, that’d be neat.

Logan – Instead of a paper dollar, I hope she leaves me a quarter dollar like the boss gives you.

Me – Logan, that’s not a quarter-dollar, that’s a whole dollar. A gold dollar. It’s just the size of a quarter.

Logan– Ok, well when my tooth falls out I hope the tooth fairy gives me a golden dollar AND a picture of what she’s building.

Ugh! Ok, so now I’m off to find a photo I can pass off as a tooth sculpture. Drat. I hope that tooth hangs in for a good month or more. I’ve got work to do!

(Oh and for lest you find yourself in the same predicament some day - Google Images came through again. Do you know there's an artist from Ballarat [Australia] that builds sculptures with teeth? Yeah. I know.)


Sports Cynic

I was never a baseball fan until I was about to turn 23.

When I talk about my 'fandom', I usually qualify which season drew me in by saying "I was hooked on the game in April!", lest someone thinks I threw myself at the first bandwagon rolling by.

It's true. I never really watched a baseball game until that year. However, I was dating someone (who I have since married) that practically eats, sleeps and breathes Yankee pinstripes. It was hard to ignore the sport with a baseball fanatic around.

One morning in April 1996 we sat on Bruce's cracked brown faux-leather couch and debated how to spend our day. His eyes got wild and big. He flew for the phone book, made a quick call and came back triumphant. "Let's drive to the Bronx and go to a Yankee game."

"Oh goody," I thought, while my mouth formed the sounds, "Ahhh, umm, k? Baseball, huh? I know nothing about baseball."

It sounds cliche, I'm sure, but it's a factual statement - when we walked out into the concrete cathedral to the sport I was in awe. There's something about the lush green grass and the climbing rows of stadium seating that gets your attention. I had a good time even though the Yankees lost. More seasoned fans were actually even more elated than I was - the team might have fallen short but that game was the best one Doc Gooden had pitched in his return that season. It gave them hope even though they couldn't guess what would lie ahead.

Days later I was on a plane headed out to a trade show. The coworker sitting next to me said, "Did you see Doc pitch? Isn't that great?"

I confessed my status as neophyte, adding that I had been at that game. Dennis took it upon himself to tutor me in baseball. From that day forward he'd send me emails and instant messages that went something like this: When you talk to your man tonight, say "I don't know about you, but I swear Boggs was safe in the 7th inning. That 6-3-4 double play with a hard slide coming down is tough to execute and I don't think they did it! Those umps are blind."

I, of course, dutifully repeated his lines, often adding in "At least that's what Dennis told me to say." Over time I didn't need his insights. I knew Doc Gooden's no hitter was a big deal. I knew Jeter was having a rookie-of-the-year caliber season. I knew it was worth staying up late and watching the World Series underdog surge to take the crown from Atlanta. I was hooked. I was a Yankee fan.

I still am.

Even in 'Roid era.

Of course, the events leading up to, through and beyond the Mitchell report have left their mark.

I am also a football fan, although not as glued to the set each week as some (read my husband) people are. I'm a Giants fan and I have been since childhood. I had no expectations for them this playoff season and so I'm not only elated to find them Super Bowl bound, I'm unbelievably shocked about it.

We were watching the game last night, as you might expect having read this far. I watched the offensive and defensive lines take their places for the first drive. I turned to my husband with a snarky smirk on my face and said:

"This line up brought to you by Balco."

And he laughed in return saying, "Yeah, no kidding."

It's sad, isn't it. An athlete in any sport can't excel, can't hone their skills or build their body without the shadow of doubt looming over them. A player can't hit a peak and then fall off the statistical cliff without a fan wondering if the guy's simply "Giambied" (as in Jason who earned multiple MVP awards while admittedly juiced and then, upon giving up the cheating aspect of his game, failed to break out of the mid-200 batting average range...which for you non-fans out there, is a bad range to be mired in.)

It's sad that each record set in the last decade or more is looked at with a question in the eye of the beholder. "Did he really win that many games because he's that good or because his trainer injected HGH? Can that guy really knock the cover off the ball that many times in a season...in a career...after 40? Is that rookie really that good? Is that superstar clean?"

It's sad that the greed and self-doubt of some cast a shadow on all.

It's not stopping me from watching, I admit it. It is stopping me from watching it with the same innocent awe at a person's raw talent.


Best of 2007

I know. I'm a little late. Not quite a week late, but late just the same. Last week, probably when it was actually New Year's, Jenn tagged me for the "Best of" meme. In the interest of being a good blog-bud, I now give you, albeit belated (have I said that enough?), my best of 2007 entry.

There were rules and all that too - start copy and typing and end copy and...well it's a meme so there was some tagging. Yet, as we've already covered ad nauseum I'm late to the party so we'll skip the formatlities of the meme rules. Work for you? I thought so.

Vacation, all I ever wanted
BK (Before Kids) we traveled quite a bit. Sometimes to exotic places. Sometimes to the inlaws. After kids the trips took a drastic cut back. Some of it logisitics. Some of it budget. The last week of January 2007 we moved back to the "on the go" mode for a trip to Disney World. The kids loved it. The husband loved it. I loved it. All is right with the world.

As a matter of fact, I am glued to this camera
When we were deciding when to get married I put up quite a "mature" argument that I did not want to get married in May. Why you ask? Because my birthday is in May. I didn't want my birthday and my anniversary to get all mushed up together. I wanted to get married in April. The man, however, assured me that if we got married in April, he'd still find a way to mush together my birthday with our anniversary and that the weather in Bermuda (where he was advocating for our honeymoon) was so much nicer in late May, early June. In the end I relented. My birthday and anniversary are 1 week apart. Sometimes they do get squished together...along with Mother's Day like it they did in 2007. And I'm ok with that because this year the man decided to splurge BIG time on an anniversary, birthday, mother's day gift -- he bought me the Nikon D80 I'd been lusting over for quite some time.

My finger is rarely far from the shutter button.

Speaking of Anniversary
May 31st, 2007 marked 10 years of marriage for the man and me. We celebrated the milestone by taking our first long-weekend trip sans kids, which of course simply gave us permission to act like children:

Since we're on the topic of weddings
My brother got married this year. Not so much a highlight.

The kids, however, were adorable in their flower girl-tux attire.

Bucket full of milestones
The first half of September was a really busy month for us. Within the first two weeks, Logan started Kindgergarten, Megan started preschool...and then she went and turned 3-years old. I'm all teary-eyed and proud just remembering it.