Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Surely, she jests

Ryan, my first grader, has had a bit of a rough time this year.

There was that initial phase of adjustment that he went through, when he realized that school was indeed an all-day affair, and wasn't sure if he liked it.

Then there have been a couple of <minor> behavioral issues. 

He's a smart kid.  He's just a little immature at times, and what I consider normal seven-year-old behavior, little quirks I'll put up with, are not necessarily what his teacher considers normal seven-year-old behavior.   Since she has more kids to deal with, I have to usually side with her.  (**I have to add, because she says this herself, while she is experienced at teaching--11 yrs at the kindie level, this is her first year at 1st grade--she has no kids of her own.**)

Crying.  Hiding under the table because he didn't want to try apple pie.  Moving about in a way that she described as "Ryan didn't exercise good body control today.  He was flinging himself around, throwing himself on the ground."  <nearly missing other students>  (I asked her about the situation, and she said they were playing music.  My son loves to dance.  His form of dance, however, is sometimes better suited to a mosh pit--which is not something you usually would find in a first-grade classroom.  We talked to him about this.  He stopped.)

There was the time that she said he was speaking out of turn,  which I believe, was related to the time he was speaking too loud in the 'hallway'. 

The time he shouted out an answer to the spelling test.  (So she says, he says he was asking a question or something like that.  Whatever, he got in trouble for it.)

Even if I don't totally agree, and even if I get irritated when it seems that Ryan isn't always with the program, I support her judgement.  I don't want to start a parent-teacher pissing match over something minor.  She has rules for her classroom, and I understand that. 

Besides, I'm biding my time for the real battle, because I know that one will come eventually, by the way things have been going thus far. 

We remind Ryan to be on his best behavior.  I make sure he sleeps, and eats, so that he can put forth his best effort.  That's all I can do.  I mean, he knows the standard of behavior that we expect from him.  But he's still little, and his interpretation of this is understandably (admittedly) loose at times.

Everyday, when I pick him up, I ask him about his day. 

Not because I'm interested in the finer points of counting to one hundred, or what was for lunch that day.

No, I ask because I dread him handing me the dreaded pink "Think Sheet."  The "Think Sheet" is a bright hot pink piece of paper, listing his "Level 2" transgression of the moment.

Yesterday, he waited until we were home before handing me his latest one.

Hmm.  What did he do this time?

"After two very friendly warnings yesterday about burping loud in class, Ryan did it again today."

Are you kidding me?  He's in trouble....for burping?

When did that become an offense that warrants a note?

<Excuse me while I go fetch my executioner's mask> 

All this year, our principal has been sending home notes in our newsletter going on about "instructional time" and how she would like our support in not disrupting "instructional time" (i.e., bringing that forgotten lunch to the office, instead of to the classroom first; not sending them late to school; having the kids line up and go to their classrooms by themselves, etc.)  I had to wonder, was it worth "instructional time" to write me a note that my son is burping-- too loudly

Granted, Ryan is our champion burper in the house.  Upon discovering his talent to burp on command as a toddler, his brothers cultivated and encouraged it, to the point where I had to beg them to stop.  But even so, he always says "excuse me."  And he rarely will do it on purpose anymore.

"Tell me what happened,"  Mr W asked him.  <I had to ask Mr W to do this, because, frankly, I couldn't keep a straight face.  No one can be considered seriously reprimanded if you can't keep a straight face while doing it.>

"I was burping yesterday, and she did talk to me about it.  So guess what?  Today, I just really had to burp and before I could even say "excuse me" she got mad and wrote me a think sheet.  I said "excuse --" and that was all I could get out..."

I've turned my back at this point and am laughing as silently as possible into my forearm.

We let him go, because in the chaos that is afterschool around here, someone spilled a drink in my room.  Cleanup, aisle five.  (Nothing happens around these parts without an interruption of some sort.)

I overheard Mr W later, talking to Ryan.  "Okay, son, try and do better next time.  Behave yourself.   That means no hiding under tables.  No talking out of turn.  No burping.  Oh, and it might be a good idea not to fart in class, either..."  Ever helpful, I pipe up from the kitchen, "You know, mijo, breathing might be something you may want to leave out, too, just to be safe..." 

Our eyes meet as Ryan leaves the room.  We shake our heads in disbelief.  "Burping?  Come on !"  I hold up the sheet, and tell him, "I can't wait to show this one to Remo."  (Who, as those of you who read him know, has been in trouble, at work no less, for gaseous expressions of his own.  Hey, is there a VIVI for that ? :p)

I forgot the think sheet last night on the way to aikido.  So I whispered it into Remo's ear, because I didn't want Ryan to a) hear me discussing his issue, you know how kids get sensitive about these things; and b) didn't want Ryan to hear the tone in my voice--a dead giveaway--he'd know that I thought it was a bit, well, ridiculous.

I wasn't even back to my seat when I heard a full-on burped sentence.  Totally articulated and understandable, I'm not kidding.  And another soon after. 

Remo, I should never forget, is a man of many talents.  I'd expected he'd commiserate with Ryan in that he's been in a similar situation, and I knew he'd say something to him that might make Ryan laugh.  But I didn't expect that.

I can't remember what he 'said'.  On the one level, there's the urge to say "eeewww."  On another, you really have to just appreciate that kind of ability; I mean, it was as impressive as it was potentially gross.  And then there's the level of 'boy-am-I-glad-to-be-sitting-upwind' for which to be grateful. 

Boy, was Ryan pleased.  (Shyah, Remo, encourage the

The other half to the "think sheet" is a section you are supposed to complete with your child, "What can I do better next time?" --something like that--

This morning, I pull Ryan aside in the kitchen, so he can do his part.  Usually, he dictates it and I write it in for him, before signing the form and sending it back in.  For his permanent record, I'm sure.  (Some day, my boy will be running for some office somewhere, and the media will get hold of this scandalous black mark from his past, ruining his chances for political success.  "LIVE at 5...our report on the belching qualities of our frontrunning candidate for the mayoral election--do you want him running your city? --cuts to photo of Ryan, with burping sounds in background...)

"Okay, what do you think you can do better next time?"  I asked him.

"I will not burp so loudly."  I dutifully write it in, but still feel I should say something to him, because, really, I don't agree this time, and I don't think he should dwell on it for too long.

"Um, Sugar, you do realize, that this is a bit...  a bit...  ahm...." I am circling my hands around each other, searching for the right word.

"Weird?"  he offers.

I wanted to hug him on the spot.  Because he gets it. 

"Yes.  But son, that's between us.  Don't be going off and telling everyone how odd this is, just move on and take it one day at a time."

And I couldn't resist adding:  "Remember how funny it was when Remo burped out that sentence last night...?" 

He cuts me off.

With a feeble attempt (because he was giggling) at a burped "Yes."

"Go put this in your backpack,"  I shooed him out of the kitchen with his paper.

He left just in time.

It's not a good idea to get caught smiling when you are trying to be the responsible adult.


(Before I forget, let me point out the graphic in my 'All about me' that Chantal made me.  Fantastico! :D)

White porcelain: more valuable than gold


I'm obsessed with toilets.  Or the lack of one.

You see, last week, before his surgery, Mr W had some nesting action going on.  The toilet in our bathroom had been leaking for some time.  He decided to fix it, which was fine, he'd done this before, but in the process, the crack in the tank, that's been there for a long time, gave way. 

Back to Home Depot he went.  For about the third time.

He bought a new tank, but it was incompatible with our toilet bowl.  It was already after seven, so he said I'd have to go get a new bowl later in the week, and just have it installed.

He'd reached that point in do-it-yourself home repair, the one every homeowner has been at at one time or another, the point of:  "Hire the trained professional.  I wash my hands of this *#@!& mess."  

"Sure, no problem,"  I said.  "We'll be fine, I mean, it shouldn't take too long for them to get someone out to install it.  I can go on Wednesday."

I figured, big deal, we can manage with one toilet.  We are all reasonable people.  (Audrey excluded, as no three year old is reasonable)  Chin up, and all that jazz.

Wednesday rolled around, we went in and got everything squared away, and all I had to do was wait for the phone call to set up our installation date. 

"Next Tuesday,"  Mr W announces as I get back into the car after a quick stop for a drink for the little miss.

My initial response was along the lines of "You gotta be (add expletives to your liking) kidding me."  But, realizing it was out of my hands, I sighed, and said "Fine."  I mean, really, at this point, there was nothing else I could do.  Well, except for the digging in the backyard option, but I'm sure my neighbors would've had a problem with that. 

It's been a loooonnnng week, with six people and one toilet.  I felt I couldn't complain, what with still having the miracle of modern indoor plumbing in one bathroom, at least.  Lots of people live their entire lives with one toilet or nature's toilet, who am I to complain?  Spoiled American girl, just be happy that this one flushes whenever you want and you don't have to resort to substituting the good china in place of a chamberpot.  You can do this.

And I did do it.  But it wasn't easy.

Every time I entered, intent on relief, guaranteed, before my butt warmed the porcelain, someone would be knocking.  Or worse, I'd hear little feet tap-tapping as they jumped up and down on the tile, "Mooom!  I neeed to goooo!"  In a household of boys, there was more than one time that "go outside" crossed my mind....

Oh, and a closed door?  Not sacred.  I'd gone in, while the kids were eating breakfast, thinking I'd manage to actually finish before someone needed it, when <horrors> in marches Nolan, my cell phone in his hand.  I'm telling him to get out, he's telling me it's my friend Jenny on the line, and I'm hissing at him, "Take it out and you talk to her!" while I simultaneously assume the defensive "don't look at me" posture.  Not pretty.

I  forgot to lock the door--my fault.  The fact that it is closed, yet sets off no "maybe I should knock first" logic--alarming. 

Thankfully, the man came and installed our new, taller, toilet today.  He was late enough to make me worry, but as I told Mr W, "I don't care what time he shows up, I want my  Because I can't take it anymore."  

It's blissfully white, and still pristine, in the grand scheme of things.  I almost wanted to put one of those paper strips across it, like in a hotel, and admire it for a couple of hours.

But of course, before I got a chance, someone used it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Uneven distribution

We were in the McDonald's drive-through the other day, and Mr W was asking me questions about my conversation with his doc after his surgery last week.

He always has a bunch of questions once we get past his initial discomfort those first few post-op days.

I know I've mentioned before that his doc is rather good looking.   In a 'omg, I'm staring' kind of way.  Green eyes.  Slightly graying hair. <just a reminder>

This is something I am just not good with.  Good looking like that means I am suddenly that fifteen year old with a zit on her chin, unable to sound like I have a brain in my head.  Every insecurity bubbles to the surface.

Chubby teenager, meet James Bond.

Let's just say there's a lot of nodding and 'um-hmm' going on when he's around.   

Anyway, this time out was easier.  I have decided he is just another guy.  Even tall, athletic types like that put their pants on one leg at a time, so why get worked up about it?  Sure, there's a probably a buxom chick named Bambi handing him his pants, but let's not get into specifics.

I went over the conversation with Mr W again.  And I said, "You know, talking to him this time was alot easier.  You remember what happened last time, don't you?"  <giggle>

Mr W remembered, but I retold it anyway.

Last time, Audrey was with me.  And she was bouncing around, like little ones do, in the waiting area.  We were drawing, or coloring, if memory serves. 

Out strides the doc, resplendent in his scrubs. <wow>  I was sitting at this long table attached to the wall, and as he approached, Audrey hid underneath the table. 

He gets closer to me, and is giving me this explanation of what he did, and I'm thinking, Oh. My. God.  What is that smell?  Dr GQ has a flaw?  He smells after a long day of surgery?  Oh.  Man.  That is rank.  Who knew?

He is talking to me, and then taking a few steps back.  Closer, explain, step back...he keeps doing this.  And I notice he's got an almost amused look on his face.  ??

I'm trying to take it all in,  "stitched it up...stay off of it...must stay straight...for a month"  "A month?"  " he can recover best..."  I'm listening, and hoping to everything that is holy that Audrey doesn't electrocute herself under the table.  And I want him to finish, so I can go in to see Mr W.

He keeps doing that back and forth thing.  Well, maybe he knows he smells bad, I thought.

Finally, all his instructions and explanations are over, and he leaves.  Audrey comes out from under the table, and crawls into my lap for a hug.

Oh.  My.  God.  Wow, is that ever the worst lingers after he's gone... ?

It was her.  She had pooped while she was under the table.  I should've known.  How many kids do I have??

Oh. My. God.

I am mortified, with the realization he thinks that it was  me that smelled bad.  Oy, I bet he thinks I let one rip before he came over to talk to me.  So that's where the amused expression came from.  Doh! 

I resist the urge to charge back towards the way he went, waving Audrey's not-so-fragrant backside around, "It wasn't me!  It wasn't me!!"  Sigh.  The damage is done.

I pick her up:  "Come on, Petunia.  Let's go get you changed." 

As we walked out to the van, I fostered a fervent hope that I'd be spotted changing her diaper in the parking lot, dispelling the notion that I was the one responsible for polluting the air.  Of course, the parking lot was empty.

I'd forgotten (surpressed) the whole incident until last week, when I was sitting in the same waiting area and felt a huge stab of deja vu when he came out to talk to me.   

At this point, the kids are laughing, because the only thing they love more than a bodily-function-gone-wrong story is one in which Mommy looks bad.  As this tale is a two-for-one, they were delighted.

Mr W is looking at me like I'm nuts.  That "how many times am I gonna hear this?" look on his face.  I'm a little irritated, that he doesn't see it, he's missing the big picture.

"You know, things like that never happen to you when you are with the kids.  You don't have stories about them, like I do, like the Home Depot tales, or the "excuse me, ma'am, do you have a mop?" stories,"  I tell him.  "You never have to worry that someone will disclose what color your underwear is, or start smacking you on the butt in the workroom while you are meeting the new male music teacher for the first time."

He couldn't argue with that.  And I saw him, smiling, in spite of himself.

"What 'Home Depot' story?"  Ben asked.

<I'll tell you all in the next entry>

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I'm wondering...

Little Miss, Mr W, and I were out the other day.  She conked out, and he was tired, so I dropped them off and got a treat.

A trip to Target....alone.

Sure, how exciting can toilet paper be, but I was alone.  No need to hunt down missing children in the gaming section.  No need to walk very quickly by the girly toy section.  No need to quickly run to the nearest bathroom.  No need to hurry at all...

I'm lucky I could stay focused and get what we needed, and didn't start browsing.  I swear, I do better with all the kids in tow, timewise, than when I go alone.   (It's all about focus, so I can get the heck out of there before they break something.....or I wind up with yet another pack of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, with a My Little Pony chaser.)

At the checkouts, of course, 3 people were working, and 40 people needed to leave.  I had a little time on my hands, and glanced over at the magazines.

Surprise, surprise.  Something on the cover of Cosmo caught my eye.  I picked up the magazine, and turned to the page in question (88).  I scanned it quickly, and it made me go hmmmm.  As I'm walking out into the parking lot, I'm thinking about what I read, trying to remember it so I could discuss it with Mr W and my more experienced friends, when I stopped myself. 

Duh.  <<<forehead slap>>>  Buy the magazine, dork.

What's this?  Hesitation??

I'm 37 years old, for pete's sake.  I can certainly buy an issue of Cosmo without anyone batting an eyelash. 

Yet I couldn't shake the blush, and felt like I needed special permission from Mom to do it. 

I need to get out more.

I reread it.

Apparently, I really need to get out more.

How is that new naughty number even physically possible?  I can see it....but at the same seems a bit ahm, technically difficult.   

(Did I mention the bonus back cover, with Matthew McConaughey on it?  Dimples, drawl, and a new move.  I'd say it's a decent issue.)

Anyway.  Gotta get my mind onto other things, like the Saturday Six.  I'm feeling a bit dirty, and the Six this week is all about "antibacterial."  That should do it.

Saturday Six - Episode 80

1. How many products throughout your home are labelled "antibacterial."   I'm sure I have several, but not for lack of trying to find things that aren't marked "antibacterial."  It seems like everything is "antibacterial" these days.

2. As a general rule, and assuming any required knocking on wood, how often do you get anything more serious than a sniffle or mild cold? 
 Well, I have four living petri dishes sharing my house.  Colds-r-us is a way of life during some parts of the winter.  With as much Children's Tylenol and Motrin I can go through during the season, McNeil Pharmaceuticals should send me a Christmas card.  Some stock would be nice.  Even with all that, I'm lucky, though, I usually only catch a bad bug maybe once a year.  After they bring it home, of course.

3. John Scalzi ran
this story about research that suggests the increased use of "antibacterial" products aren't necessary for people who are generally healthy, and might be causing the creation of "superbugs" that are resistant to antibiotics.  Are you more likely to avoid these products after reading about studies like this?   I've got a degree in microbiology.  Believe me, there's no end to the horrors my imagination can bring me.  But I was avoiding these products before any studies came out, just for the superbug angle.  (Don't mess with Mother Nature, or you'll piss her off and she'll bite you in the ass.  Natural selection can be a bitch, and just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it's not out there, lurking, biding it's time...)  

This next part is special, for the Moms who carry antibacterial whatnot around all the time, just to make them cringe: Sometimes, when I want to live dangerously, I let my kids pick up their candy and eat it after it falls on the ground.  

You can't avoid everything that's out there, and it's silly to try (unless you need to, in an immunocompromised condition, that's a different story).  Just do what your Momma said, and wash your hands.  Use common sense--plain old soap and water will do.  Really.  No need for napalm.  

4. Take this quiz:  Will you pass the U.S. Citizenship Test?   Si.  8 out of 10, to be honest.  (I went back to figure out what I got wrong, because the quiz won't tell you, and it was getting to my retentive self.  I had to know.)

5. Now that the gas prices have dropped just a little (but nowhere near enough), what's the most you've paid for a gallon of gas so far?   I think, $2.89 (or was it$2.79?)  I don't remember, it's so much any more, I just try to keep it full.

Psychfun:   What was your favorite cereal as a kid?  When was the last time you had a bowl of it?   Peanut Butter Captain Crunch.  I admit, without much guilt, I had some last week sometime.   

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Not that dazed

Mr W had his knee worked on again Tuesday.

It was outpatient, so of course, once he was awake, and semi-coherent, they booted us out.

I was a little worried, that he'd be too groggy to get into the house gracefully.

I was a little worried, that this time, the third time around, won't be the charm. 

All that aside, I got him into the house okay.  I helped him change, and maneuver up onto our bed.  I'm adjusting the ice-bag-machine thing on his leg...heyyy, wait a minute...

My patient...reached out.....and goosed me.  :-o

The nurse mentioned she gave him some Demerol before he left.  I'm sure he was hallucinating that he was goosing Annette Bening.  He usually only gets that dreamy look on his face when he's watching "The American President."

"You're gonna be fine,"  I said, as I covered him up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Not one of my finer moments

As I mentioned, I've been going through the kids clothes, and making a list of what they need.

It's been a while since I bought Nolan shoes, so I decided to check his and see if they still fit.

Because my boys, are well, boys, they aren't the best at letting me know that their shoes are too small.  Since I no longer have to tie them for them, I don't check as often as I should.

I pushed down on his shoe, and luckily, he still has room in them.  I don't feel like the horrible Mom, like the last time, when I pushed down and encountered a toebox full of squished toes occupying every last bit of space.  A little snug on the right foot, but okay.

We were standing together, and I was administering some first aid to Nolan's lip.  His back was to Mr W, who was sitting down not too far away.  "Hey," I said to Mr W, "Can you help me keep an eye on his shoes, because they are starting to get a bit snug on one foot, and he'll need new ones soon?"  (If I tell Mr W, one of us will remember.)  Nolan made a face at me as Mr W said "Sure."

"Sweetie, it's not a big deal," I told him.  "Everyone has one foot bigger than the other."   And before Mr W can open his mouth and agree, things headed south.

I am a big fan of the 'teaching moment.'  I will use them whenever I can, and sometimes, well, I shouldn't.  In yet another moment that he will someday be sharing with his psychiatrist, filed under "Moments that Scarred Me for Life," I pipe up:

"I even have one boob that's bigger than the other."

Where was I going with that?  Body parts are mis-sized?  We are all, really, just one mutation away from being the circus sideshow?  If a woman's breasts are too perfectly matched, they didn't come from nature and he should check for a warranty?


The look, the horrified look, on Mr W's face said it all.  I, too my credit, shut the hell up, avoided everyone's gaze, finished the first aid, and beat a hasty retreat to our room, hoping Mr W wouldn't follow me with a lecture.

Of course, Mr W being Mr W, he followed me, and we made the bed.  I made small talk.  I'm at the foot of the bed, handing him some pillows, and he starts laughing at me.  "I never noticed you had one boob bigger than the other."  "Up close, you can't tell,"  I fired back.  "What were you thinking?" he asked, doubling over with laughter. "I don't know, I wasn't thinking.."  He cuts me off: "I hope not, I'd hate to think that you put some thought into that," <laugh, laugh> "that poor kid.  He's gonna share that one with his teacher, 'Hey, Mrs. ___, did you know my Mom has one boob bigger than the other?  Are yours like that too?"  "Stop it," I told him.  "It was a teaching moment..." I giggle, trying to defend myself.  I'm gasping, I'm laughing so hard, "...a bad teaching moment..."

I should've just taken him to Footlocker.

It used to fit

I've always kept two big bins, full of kid's clothes.  One for baby clothes, one for big kid clothes.

After Audrey was born, I decided, since I knew there'd be no more babies, to start picking out things from the baby bin and passing them on.  It's hard, but I had to do it.  I realized I couldn't possibly keep every little sock. 

The spirit is willing, but the closet space is weak. 

I've kept the outfits they wore home from the hospital, blankets that were knitted/crocheted for them, and a few items that are special to me.

I know that when I am in this baby bin, I'm gonna get a little touched.  I'll remember when I bought it, for who, and why I felt I needed to keep it.

Over the weekend, it became apparent that it was time for the bi-annual shifting of the clothes.  The weather is changing.   I needed to know where we stood in regards to warmer wear.  Besides, Ben decided he wanted to wear pants, and was running around the neighborhood looking like Jethro.  (If he could of found a piece of rope to tie around his waist, he would of been all set.)  We'd been arguing back and forth about his choice, I got sick of it, and marched him to his room.  Game on.

We went through his pants.  (None of them fit.)  I took note of what jackets would work, what shirts still reached his wrists, and started throwing the discards into a pile on the bed for Ryan. 

Oh, fine.  Let's crack out the bins, and get it over with for everyone.  (I have to take the baby one out to get to the big kid one.)

In comes Nolan.  I start handing him things, only to have him hand them back, "Too small."   Pants that fit him not so long ago no longer making it over his hips.  Nothing made the cut on his side of the closet, except for 3 shirts.  All his long sleeve shirts, and two jackets, are now on Ben's side of the closet.

Wow.  No more milk for Nolan. 

I started tackling the big bin in the hallway.  I found Ben the next set of jeans, took out some stuff for Ryan, and was surprised by a few things for Audrey I'd received from a friend that I'd forgotten I'd been saving.

She was thrilled. 

I stood up and winced that my hallway and big boys' bedroom looked like a garage sale gone bad.  Onward, I told myself, and managed to get Ryan in on the act too. 

Lots of shirts for him, and jackets, but  I have some that another friend gave me that are too big (saved them), but all the ones that should've worked for him are gone, sacrificed by Ben on the playground to the gods of big, unrepairable-holes-in-the-knees.  Every family has a kid like this, right?  One that defies all manner of patches and stitchery?

The little miss managed to outgrow quite a few things too.  She was happy to hear that she would be getting some "new dressies" and that she was growing "bigger, bigger, like my boys."

Energized by the fact that I may have to do some replacement shopping (oh, the torture, stop, stop) I started making room in the big bin for the things to save until next time.  I had to move some things out of the bottom, and spotted something familiar, and blue. 

As I picked it up, I knew what it was.  I just didn't know it was going to stop me dead in my tracks.

It was a pair of tiny, maybe 2T sized, Superman pajamas.  They were Nolan's.  He was fond of running around the house with the cape streaming out behind him.  He had Batman, too, but Superman was his favorite.

I glanced down the hall to the back of the child sitting at the computer.  How on earth did this ever fit him? 

I held them up so Mr W could see them, taking in how small they were, and suddenly catching an image of a freshly bathed toddler shouting "Sup-p-man!!" as he jumped off the bed into my arms.

Folding them up, I moved them into the baby bin.

Because you never know when you might need the power of a tiny superhero at your fingertips.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'll have.....

I love coffee.  I don't drink it often, because I know I would be but one cup away from caffeine oblivion.  I have enough going on without adding a morning run to the local java-emporium to my day. 

I save my coffee-swilling for the weekends, when I work and need the boost.  That alarm clock can go off mighty early...some mornings, it's like a dream....

Much to my surprise, the owner(?) of said local java-emporium and I were chatting today.  I've changed up what I get each time I come in, as it's a treat for me, and I seek to find a favorite.  He is trying to figure out what it is I like, so I can be dazzled that he remembers (seen him do it for the other coffee-hounds).  He's very friendly with all his customers, I've noticed, so I am feeling like I walk into "Cheers" when I go there now, and am expecting him to belt out "Norm!" any minute.

It certainly beats Starbucks.

I'm still awake, at any rate, whether it's due to the creme brulee latte I tried today, or not, I don't know.  Here's my Sat Six... 

Saturday Six - Episode 79

1. Who was the last person you sent flowers to?  Don't remember, but probably my Mom.  Who was the last person to send you flowers?  My best friend Jenny sent me a lovely bouquet for my birthday; a big, pleasant surprise. :)

2. What is your favorite single piece of furniture in your home and why?  My bed.  It's big (king); we all fit in it--it's a Sunday-morning-lets-wake-up-Mom-and-Dad bed. I don't spend nearly as much uninterrupted time in it as I wish I could.   

3. You are given the chance to model clothing in a catalog.  What type of clothing would you most want to model and why?  You're kidding, right?  I have to get back to you.  (Somehow, 'model' and 'me' just don't go together in my mind. I'm  telling you right now, it'd have to be kid-proof, klutz-proof, and not require me to iron it in any way.)

4. Take this quiz:  What is your "power color?" It's red-orange, and the quiz says:

At Your Highest:
You are warm, sensitive, and focused on your personal growth.
At Your Lowest:
You become defensive and critical if you feel attacked.
In Love:
You are loyal - but you demand the respect you deserve.
How You're Attractive:
You are very affectionate and inspire trust.
Your Eternal Question:
"Am I Respected?"  (No.  My eternal question is: "What is that on my shirt?")

5. What product are you mostly likely to buy in bulk?  Besides tp and plain m&ms?  String cheese.  Have you figured out whether you actually are saving money by doing so?  Yes. I can get 48 sticks of it for like 7 bucks at Costco, as opposed to 12 for 4 bucks at the grocery store.  My kids and their friends plow through it like mad, so I try to keep stocked up.  I don't worry about the savings with the plain m&m's because, well, those are for medicinal purposes...I'd get 'em anyway. :D

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #75 from Mortimer:  Now that winter is approaching, what is your ultimate comfort food? What guilty pleasure do you eat that is sinfully not good for you but, you can't get enough?  Winter is approaching everywhere else but here; we still have to do some time in the 90's before we'll  even need long sleeves.  It's the time of year when it's annoying that it's still hot, but it's not 100+ every day, so you count your blessings. 

I'm not thinking about comfort food, I'm thinking how big my utilities bill will be this month as I sip some iced tea while sitting under the a/c vent. 

As for the guilty pleasure, well...I have to say, everything in moderation means never having to say you're sorry.  It's all fair game, as long as you aren't using a shovel to eat it. :p

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sure--it's funny to him

I think I missed something in my wedding vows.  I remember love, for richer or poorer, and all that other stuff.  Where did it say "be a continuous source of amusement for your spouse?" 

Maybe it was in the small print.

We have two tvs in our house.  One is in the family room, the other is in our bedroom.  So chances are, on any given evening, the kids will be watching in the family room (and sometimes I watch with them) and Mr W will be watching tv in our room, sitting on our bed (and sometimes, I watch with him.)  

I like his vantage point from the bed, because he will act as my sentinel when I'm in the bathroom.  The kids have to get past him to get to me.  And alot of times, I hear this:  "Where's Mommy?"  "She's in the bathroom..."  <pitter patter towards bathroom door>  "Leave her alone." "But.." "It can wait until she comes out."  "But...."  "Get out." "But...." <Daddy roar...followed by pitter patter away from our room> 

Because of this set up, a lot of our conversations take place with one of us standing in the doorway to the bathroom, while the other one is sitting on the bed.  Usually while we are doing everyday kind of stuff, like brushing teeth or changing clothes.

I'm changing, the other night, bathroom light off so the kids won't approach there first.  Hey, I think.  I match.  Decent underwear.  I think I'll start talking, so he'll look over, and we'll see where this goes later. 

I don't remember what I said that made him look over, but I do remember the gales of laughter that burst forth from his mouth when he did.  What the ?  I'm thinking, is there a hole in my undies?  This is a good set!  Why is he laughing?  That is so not the response I was looking for, and he's crazy if he thinks this is going anywhere later. 

I'm glaring at him, about to shut the door to gather what is left of my dignity, just as he points out that I have a Kleenex stuck in the strap of my bra.  Oh, now that's alluring.  So sssexxxayyy.  I'm going for "Bond girl" vibes (okay, so it's a stretch) and instead, I'm sending out "Golden Girls" ones.  How did I forget about that?

Because I do it all the time.

Yes.  I have been known to stick a Kleenex in my bra strap.  You never know when there will be a snot emergency, and frankly, the last time I used my tshirt to clean Audrey's sudden snot-burst in public, I got a couple of stares.  It's a habit I picked up from my Mom, who picked it up from my Nana, who also hides money in hers.  (I'm not kidding.  Once, I took her shopping, and she mentally added up what was in the cart, and went to the bathroom in the store to extract her funds from her bra.  "Nana, we have these things," <I pointed at hers> "called purses,"  I said to her, as she fixed me with a look only a 4'10" Nana can give, that shut me right up.  That look, before she reaches up and grabs a few of your hairs, is to be heeded and not provoked further, unless you'd like a bald spot.) 

Anyway.  I still turned up my nose and shut the door.  He didn't need to know that did finally see the humor in it, and was giggling too. 

And if I'm gonna be completely honest here, I managed to pull a Kleenex out of the strap the other day, in the Target parking lot, not realizing that the high school kid out picking up carts was looking right at me.  Oh, yeah, baby, yeah. The Hot Moms are lining up, begging me to teach them that maneuver. <eyeroll>

Last night, I waited until Audrey left the room, and snuck in to use the bathroom.  We'd had a steady stream of kids in again, out again, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.  (They are on break, and by this time of night, all over the place. But not at all tired, of course.)  Mr W was at Defcon 4, which for him means he is done with them bugging me and will fire upon the next person who enters the room.

I'd been flipping channels between ER and Southpark (I'd been watching the Comedy Channel, and it was just what was on next.)  I had no sooner closed the door when I hear "Moo-oom."  And I snapped.

"WHAT?!!" I growled, not disguising the irritation in my voice.  At the same time I'm wondering, why didn't I hear Mr W head off that kid at the pass?

Laughter.  Lots of laughter from Mr W is what I hear next. 

I emerged from the bathroom, and he looks at me, "That wasn't one of our kids.  That was Cartman."  He's grinning at me, and I'm exasperated, but it's funny.  I have to laugh too.

No, it's not enough to be pushed to the brink at the end of the night by my own kids, now I'm taking on the kids from the tv, too.

Now there's an argument for reinstating their school bedtimes again, starting....tonight. 

I'm such a dork.  I just have to accept there is no way around it, I'm always going to do something goofy. 

I guess as long as he still finds it amusing, it'll be just fine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I think that we've made some progress here.

We've progressed from the "why?" to the "And guess what?"

Well, Ryan has.  And it's driving me insane.

I try, really, I do, to listen to him as he rattles off something excitedly, then says "and guess what?" 

It's just that at the fifth time he says it, in the same conversation, my eyes are about to roll back in my head.

"I know what happens in "Wallace and Gromit."  He's an inventor, and Gromit is the dog, and guess what?"

<You have to respond, "what?" or at least look interested in what's coming next>

"He invents this thing, and his mind gets mixed up, and guess what?"


"He turns into this big, furry, were-rabbit, and guess what?"

Now, multiply that "and guess what?" over the course of the day, add 3 more kids, and traffic, and tell me you aren't reaching for the strong stuff.

On the one hand, it is adorable, and it'll pass.

On the other, it's enough to make me feel like a robot, nodding and inserting "what?" at the appropriate prompt.

The two of us actually did go see "Wallace and Gromit" last night.  I promised I'd take him when he pitched a fit upon discovering the older two boys were going to a birthday party at a mini-golf place this past weekend and he wasn't.  A night out with just Mom to a movie he knows the big kids wanted to see was enough to calm him down.   It was quite a doozey of hurt feelings, too; I was pulling at strings and just happened to yank the right one that stopped the crying madness.   

It's hard, when you have so many kids, so close together in age.  They have the same friends, they go to the same school.  They get invited, sometimes as a group, sometimes individually.  I don't mind, either way, and I certainly understand when it's one and not all, what with the prices per head some establishments charge when you are having a party: "How much for the 20 tokens, 2 slices of pizza, a drink, yes, we'll bring our own cake...mmmhmmm, a pot of gold?  Per child, not for the whole party?"  That, and the whole each-kid-should-be-able-to-cultivate-his-own-friendships/identity thing makes me NOT one of those "invite one, invite them all" kind of Moms.  (Oh, and they are out there, believe me.)

A bag of buttered popcorn can do wonders to soothe the psyche.  He had a great time.

Which leads me to my next beef with the little personality in the house, who has progressed from "I do it" to her latest Audrey-ism...I told her she wasn't coming along last night, and she was crying (no nap) but managed to throw in:

"It's not fair." <complete with tears and a pout>

I just can't win.  I was about to cave...

Which is where my hero stepped in, and pried her out of my arms, pointed to the door, and said "go."

I left without her, realizing that sometimes the progress comes to me, sometimes I'm pushed into it.

Maybe I can win afterall.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

The band-aid question

I mentioned a couple of entries ago about how I had Band-Aids in my purse, "first aid AND entertainment." 

Tilly is interested in how they can be entertainment, so here I am, sharing trade secrets.

They say that "necessity is the mother of invention."  No, I think it's "desperation-at-having-to-keep-the-wailing-child-quiet is the mother of invention." 

It's not just Band-Aids that you can use...I've used straws; those twisty green ties in the produce section (they make good little twisty-men); and pieces of paper (airplanes, footballs), to name a few.

Did you know, that the book, "Little Blue and Little Yellow," came about because the author was trying to entertain his grandchildren on the subway or something, and resorted to pieces of tissue paper he found?  (I love this book.  :D) 

You never know what might work.  Lol, it's usually a wrapper of some kind, something you'd throw away. 

But back to the Band-Aids.

When my kids were small(er), and into the phase where they liked to unwrap things, I'd let them tear open the little packages.  Then I'd let them peel off the sticky paper, and play with that.  This is even more fun if there is a character on them, and they're not just flesh-colored.

You can make an impromptu 'paper chain' out of them.

You can let the little one cover boo-boos, real or imagined.  (Who hasn't had a child point to a spot, claiming it's a huge boo-boo, only to see a flawless expanse of baby skin?) 

You can fold the sticky sides over, and make a little rectangular 'flying carpet.'

I used one once for a wayward hem.

You can wrap one around each finger, and do a little dance with your phantom fingertips.  Or you could draw faces on them once you have them on, and have a 'puppet show'. 

I've never done this, but you could use some to <ack> tape parts of your face in silly positions (piggy nose), providing an excellent example of "if you make that face again, it's gonna freeze that way."

See?  First aid, and entertainment.

If all else fails, you can bring out the big guns, the super-bribe that works every time.

For me, it is a package of Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

That stuff, is so effective, and more addicting than crack to a two year old.  <shamefacedly, I admit, I let her chew gum at that age, but I blame her brothers for showing her the way> 

Really.  She has been known to use a footstool, climb on the counter, open the cabinet, reach for my stash that's hidden in a coffee mug on the topmost shelf of said cabinet, replace the mug, and close the cabinet door (are you hearing the 'Mission: Impossible' theme yet?) to get to it.

And at 25 cents a pop, a bargain.  Of course, it's conveniently located at eye-level to the shopping cart on our way out of the store.  Who can refuse the wide-eyed wild chant of a toddler "gum, Mommy, gum" as you are wrestling the cart past the endcap full of "I don't think so" items, while you are just trying to finish and go pick up the other kids?

I now look at Juicy Fruit as some kind of dangerous gateway drug that feeds my children's addiction to all things sweet.

And my addiction to a few minutes of peace.

Sixin' exorcism

Have you ever been sooo tired that you can't sleep?  My mind races everytime I lay down, in spite of the fact that I thought I'd nod off easily in hopes of continuing my muy fantastico dream from last night.  

Since it seems muy fantastico is a tough act to follow, I figured I may as well do the Saturday Six. 

Saturday Six - Episode 78

1. What's your favorite brand and flavor of ice cream when you go grocery shopping?  Is there any of it in your freezer right now?

My favorite?  I loooove Dreyer's Vanilla Bean, the full fat one.  However, I can't be trusted with it, so I don't buy it very often.  (It got a little embarrassing explaining to the kids why I was eating it straight from the carton with a spoon.)  I do have the light version in the freezer right now.  It'll do. 

2. When was the last time you ate a fresh fruit as a snack rather than something not "diet friendly?"

Ate an apple on the way home from work.   

3. Take this quiz:  What language should you learn? 
You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

My tongue? Ahem.  

Really, I guess it's a good idea, but my family can barely understand me when I'm speaking English.  "What?"  "I didn't hear you."  So I take my cue from "Finding Nemo" and I speak to them in whale, ala Dory.  Whatever works, even if it means that people in the grocery store look at me like I'm certifiable.  "Whe-eeere's youurrrr si-st-eerr?" 

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #72 from Cdmmw2:  If you could relive one moment of your life and watch it (like a movie) but not interfere, what would it be?

The hard thing here are the words "not interfere."  You can't help but want to relive certain moments with the edge, the insight you have now.  

So I'd have to pick the first time I met Mr W, the moment he helped me gain my footing by holding out his arm, perfectly, so I wouldn't wind up on my butt in the flower bed in front of our high school office.  So adorably chivalrous, I still get a little butterfly just thinking about it.  

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #73 from Debbie:  What was something you were afraid of as a child?  Did you overcome the fear?

Vampires.  I slept with a rosary from the time I was about eight, until sometime in high school, cross at the ready.   I overcame the fear, sort of; because other, more grown-up fears replaced it. 

That's what I get for having an overactive imagination, reading horror stories, and watching scary movies.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #74 from Anna:   If someone were to open your refrigerator right now, what item would it embarrass you most for them to find?

HEEEEY!  This is my question!! :D

Okay, there are six bottles of whipped cream on the door of my fridge. Two were leftover from a recent sundae-making phase the kids went through.  The others were from a trip I made to Costco last week, where I bought a pumpkin pie (Mr W's favorite) and was just tooo damn lazy to get some at the grocery store (after 5 pm, all the kids in tow).  I forgot had some already.  I bought the multi-packaged four (Costco, tsk, tsk) after checking the expiration date and deciding it'd get used up over the holidays.  Really, I swear, I'm not gonna use it for anything else...

Then of course, there's the little jar of baby glycerin suppositories.  "You want me to do WHAT?"  I said to the nurse after regaling herwith tales of kiddy constipation.   Honestly, I was taken aback for a minute or two, but you know how it is--there are some moments in parenting where you are required to get over it, deal with it, and move on.  (and hopefully, the kid moves too, lol)

And last but not least, the inevitable:  My children know where the plastic baggies are...and will "save something for later" without telling me, forget about it, and suddenly, we have the mystery baggie that slid down between the shelves and sat there unnoticed for a month or so....I find with these, it's best to toss it out and not try to guess what it once was.

<yawn...>  It worked!  I'm not even thinking about muy fantastico,  I'm thinking about--

Ice cream and whipped cream.  Great.

One vice exchanged for another.  <resist, resist>

Friday, October 7, 2005

Kid logic

I think that between Mr W and I, in the "your child did ____" sweepstakes, I win.

Exhibit A:  Yesterday, I went to answer the door.  Jane was here, to take me back to pick up the van.  As she comes into the house, I feel/see a blur of kid going by.  It's Ryan.  Running down the hallway.  With scissors in his hand, business end pointed out.  I let out a horrified gasp, and resist the urge to yell at him (I might scare him and make him fall) but start laughing instead (because seriously, folks, this is something that only happens in print, or on tv, not in your own house).  "What are you doing?"  I ask him, while making my way towards him so I can take them away.  "I have popcorn stuck in my tooth," he says, opening his mouth.  "And you were gonna get it out with the scissors?"  springs from my lips before I realize he wanted to cut the floss.  He brings me the floss, and it is wound in such a way that I can see why he thinks he needs to cut it.  Kid logic.  It never ceases to amaze me. 

I did manage to get the offending piece out.  And I almost put the scissors in my purse before I left.  Just in case.

Exhibit B:  Audrey decides to help herself this morning.  To a can of Coke, no less.  Which she drops onto the floor from the dining table.  I spot her, and tell her 1) "No, absolutely not"; and 2) "put that in the fridge."

What do I hear next?  tch-ch <can opening> then splutter, hiss, foam, you name it.  I jump up and run to her, grab the can and open it the rest of the way, expecting the worst but it's a better option than the fizzz-zzzz that's going everywhere.

I don't even bother to ask her what she's doing, I just send her to her room so I can clean up the mess before she tries to do it and winds up painting the floor.  And I put the soda in the fridge.  (It's too bad it was opened, I mean, Mr W's lunch could've had an element of excitement added to it.)

I try to limit myself to one 'emergency' a day.

Which means right about now, I am considering it a blessing that the other two kids are still asleep.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Next time, I'm shooting it

Our van has been making a weird noise lately.  One of those noises that is not just a quirk of the car, but something that needs to be addressed.

I dropped it off this morning, and waited for the call.

The man from the dealership got back to me relatively quickly.

"Okay, this is what we got..blah, blah...and then there's the...blah, blah... and it's gonna cost _____." (This is where he proceeds to quote a number, so exorbitant,  that you wonder if he is saying it with a straight face, or with a big, shit-eating, I've-got-you-by-the-short-hairs-sucker grin.)


"But I have a 10% coupon out that I'll give you to use for it."  (Dude, that'll maybe cover the taxes on this deal, how big of you.  I wonder if he'd up it to 15% if I flash him?  Probably not.)

"I need to call you back." 

Because I need to share the joy.  I call Mr W at work:

"Are you sitting down?"  "No."  "You need to be sitting down."  "What?"  "Okay, this is what they told me...blah, blah, this is what it's gonna cost ____."  <dead silence>

"How're we gonna do that?"  "Well, I thought I'd turn a few tricks..." "Stop it.  I'm serious." (Who says I'm not?  jk ;p)

"Let me call you back."

<number crunching, hand-wringing, yanking on hair commences>

<tears are shed, calls are made>

I call Mr W back, and let him know I've got it under control...and call the dealership back, and tell them that yes, they can have my pound of flesh, just fix my van. 

I think I hear a cha-ching noise in the background, just as I'm hanging up.  I'd say "greedy bastards," but really, now that it's done and over with, I don't see the point. 

<greedy bastards>

Some of this is our fault, for shirking on some maintenance duties.  <I admit it, we suck at that>

<greedy bastards>

The van is home now, and is running very smoothly.  Quietly, like it's supposed to. 

But the next time it starts making noise, I'm taking it out back and shooting it. 

A little I-tag

I've been tagged by dbp2000  --try saying that three times, real fast.   I can barely type it and get it right the first time, without mixing up letters.  Typing dyslexia, you ahve to love that.  :)

Here we go (and it's harder than I thought it would be):

*I AM: a small town girl at heart.

*I WANT: the kids to speak Spanish. 

*I HAVE: a really good man in my corner.

*I WISH: my van wasn't in the shop right now.

*I HATE: that I can't keep the house clean. 

*I MISS: sleeping in.

*I FEAR: phone calls in the middle of the night.

*I HEAR: voices.  All day. 

*I WONDER: about going back to school.

*I LOVE: to see the look on his face when.....

*I ALWAYS: look for the good in people.

*I AM NOT: a mean person. 

*I AM NOT ALWAYS: patient.

*I NEED: a haircut.  And a date.

*I SHOULD: make more time for me. 

Play along, if you dare.  :D

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Sweet dreams

Audrey sleeps about half the night in her bed.  Then she climbs in with us.  Nothing new, right?

Except that she wants to share my pillow, and that cuts into my dreamland real estate.  I couldn't understand that, until last night.

I still climb up into bed with her, and wait for her to fall asleep.  Yah, I know, you're not supposed to do that.  Or let them sleep in your bed.  Or hold them when they're sleeping babies.  "They'll never learn to fall asleep by themselves,"  the experts all say.


Those last moments with her at the end of the day, when she's drifting off, are one of my favorite parts of the day.  She settles in, and pats my cheek.  Or puts her arm around me.  I try not to look at her too much, or she looks right back at me, and we start giggling, and that's not a good thing when I want her to sleep.

As a result, I'm getting good at faking it.

I close my eyes, and sigh, letting my head drop a bit just so.  Breathe slowly, and deeply, peeking out once in a while to see if she's heading off.  If she catches me peeking, I flutter my eyelids so it looks like a reflex, and snuggle in again.

Snuggle in again on her pillow.  We share a pillow in her bed, and that's where she gets the notion to share mine when she climbs in with us.

I chuckled to myself last night as the 'aha' came over me.  Quietly, of course.

As I feel her falling asleep, I will lay there and watch her.  Smooth the errant hairs off her face, trying to preserve the image, because everyday, she looks a little older.

I remember doing this with her brothers, how Nolan always snuggled in close, and fell asleep; how Ben used to snuggle, then turn away, needing his space; and how Ryan also snuggled close to me before he graduated to just holding my hand, Audrey between us.

A coworker asked me the other day if I felt sad with each new milestone Audrey hit, because it would be the "last time" I saw a baby do that.

I've been pondering this question, a lot lately, trying to get a gauge for how I really feel.  So much of what happens around here is a "first time" with Nolan, that the "last times" sometimes pass me by before I realize they are gone.

Last night, as I slowed down with Audrey at the end of the day, I realized that I think this is what I will miss, when it finally comes to an end.  She will be the last that needs my assistance into dreamland. 

Oh, sure, there's the occasional nightmare that sends a kid to stand by the side of my bed, eyes wide with fear, staring at me until I wake up.  Or shaking me, which is Ryan's preferred method, one that has nearly cost him on arm on more than one occasion.

But how much longer, I wonder, will the tucking in last?

Because that is the milestone, I think, that's gonna bother me the most.  The evening someone says, "Night, Mom" and doesn't wait with impatient pajama persistence for me to come in and turn out the light.

So until then, I've decided that I'll be happy to share my pillow.

Even if it costs me a shoulder and a kidney in the process.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

It's finally my turn Six

I have a new person competing with me for the computer.  She's small, but she's fierce.  "I play my game," she says, within minutes of getting up.  Hey, there's only room for one of us in front of that screen, sister, and it's gonna 

It's just so cute, watching her concentrate and click, I can wait a little longer.  Her Dad, well, he has a different take on this...

I actually had quite the laugh at Mr W's expense when I came home from work Sunday, and after we exchanged pleasantries, the first words out of his mouth were "Your daughter..."  He went on to tell me that she was playing her Little Bear 'game' on the computer and printed some items all by herself  then proceeded to glue them together.  "Oh, she knows where the glue sticks are..." "No, she used liquid glue, and I have no idea how/where she got it, and she poured it all over the chair and the rug." 

Welcome to my world, honey.

Maybe now he'll understand why when he gets home my face looks more like Bill the Cat and less like June Cleaver.

I've been meaning to do the Six for a couple of days now...

Saturday Six - Episode 77

1. How many AOL J-landers have you actually met in person?  I've met Screamin'Remo.  (Counsel has advised me not to say anything else. :p)

2. How many photos that you have taken yourself are hanging on display in your home in a size of 8x10 or larger?  (The print, not the frame!) Um, none, the largest size I've put up of my own are 5x7.  They're of the kids, of course.

3. How far do you live from your job?  What is your commute time like?  Has the distance prompted you to consider alternative transportation because of gas prices?  I live around 28 miles from my job.  My commute is usually thirty minutes or so, because I work weekends and go in early.  Alternative transportation?  And give up my small window of alone time that I'm guaranteed each week?  (besides, no one  wants to carpool at 6 am, that's just not a time conducive to civility between coworkers)

4. Take this
quiz:   What decade does your personality live in?  My personality lives in the 80's, baby!  Surprised?

Kris:  What is the funniest, most original Halloween costume you've ever seen?  I don't get out much, so I have to go with the kids...and it was one of mine.  Ben and my nephew are a month apart, and for their first Halloween (they were 4 and 5 months old) we dressed them like m&m's.  A red and a blue one, and we sat them side by side in my double stroller.  It was just adorable. 

Courtenay: What is your favorite paragraph in a literary work?  This might be a thought, or a message, or a descriptive passage which has remained in your consciousness throughout the years.  Be sure to post the name of the book and author.  My favorite one is any panel by Charles Schultz, with Snoopy bent over at his typewriter, "It was a dark and stormy night."  But that is a cartoon, so I'll go with JRR Tolkien, from The Fellowship of the Ring "...not all those who wander are lost..."  Or my low-self-esteem-day mantra, from Maya Angelou, "...Phenomenal woman, That's me."  (It's quite the pick-me-up, check out the whole poem.)