Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Exciting Weekend

Over the weekend, Anni came down to visit from Michigan. Saturday night, several hours after Anni's arrival, Kate informed me "I like that lady". I hope Anni hadn't planned on getting any rest while here. If Kate was up, she was looking for Anni. When she got up from her not-nap on Sunday she stalked after poor Anni, who was attempting to take a nap as well. She came down the stairs yelling "Annnnnni where aaaaaare you?"

Sunday afternoon we went to a pumpkin carving party at Joe and Bucky's house (we were not present for the duration of this event in previous years, missing any part of this year's festivities was grounds for humiliating dismissal next year, see...). Sarah was somewhat indifferent to her surroundings so long as someone was chatting her up and telling her how cute she is. Kate, meanwhile, had a blast. She ate at least 2 of the cupcakes I made for the event (look away from those little grubbing hands for one minute, I tell you) and spent the next hour running laps around the house and abusing all the dogs there.

My pumpkin was ridiculed and won no prizes and we received no homemade pumpkin pie and yes we are bitter about that. However, Kate won some delightful items for her attempt (she really only added a few black lines with the marker, I did the hard part! Where's my glory?) The best of her prizes had to be the teeth. Here we see her sporting them alone and with Uncle Steve and Aunt Jo Jo.
Yes, fun was had by all. After each child had her own "I'm way too tired to endure another second of this" fit, Kate settled into my arms and fell asleep on my shoulder. As we were putting her in the car to go home she told us that, yes, she did have a good time and then she informed us repeatedly "the tea party's all done". She told me that again the next morning when she woke up, gazing off ruefully - "the tea party's all done". All I could think was "Great, I didn't get a pie and no one offered me so much as a drop of tea!" Thanks a lot, Crazy Joe, you big, mean jerk!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance

I hate when I'm in traffic behind someone whose bumper stickers I wholeheartedly agree with, but they're driving like an idiot and I want to kill them. If that guy who kept stopping at the green lights this morning had only had one of those infuriating "W - Still the President" stickers I would've felt so much better about my road rage. I know, you don't care about that, so here's a picture of the girls watching TV in their fuzzy bunny slippers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


When I picked the girls up from daycare today I found myself on the periphery of a conversation about gifts for teachers. Kate and Sarah go to a NAEYC accredited daycare where the care they receive is outstanding. Low kid to adult ratios, highly qualified staff...it's great. And it's costing us what feels like all of our disposable income. But they seem really happy there and besides, everywhere else has looooong waiting lists. I've checked. I'm on one. Still.

The parents get gifts for teachers for Christmas, teacher appreciation month and end-of-the-year, right before all the kids shift classrooms. In addition we're all expected to sign up for a month during which we single-handedly let the teachers know, with little thoughtful items, how much we appreciate them. And I do. But when the conversation went from "what are we doing for the Tree Top Room teachers for Christmas" to "well, and then there's all of their birthdays..." I wanted to sit down on the floor and cry. Birthdays? It got worse - "...we were just doing cards but now apparently everyone wants to do gifts..." Gifts? My dearest friends only get a phone call from me on their birthdays and now I have to buy gifts for all the daycare teachers?

I do not leave work early to attend the mid-day events at the daycare center. I often miss the quarterly "parent/teacher conferences" (What?!? Sarah's failing Physics?), I already have plans for the day of the big, fund-raising fall festival that do not include attending the fall festival. I will be working during their Fall Fashion Show. I don't go to the "Coffee Talk" chats at 8:00AM. I've missed every single 5PM PTAC meeting for more than 2 years. I am a terrible daycare parent. But I don't get it - who has time to be a good one? I have even less time than money and if I had enough of both to participate in all this stuff I wouldn't need daycare. I expect this kind of pressure once my kids are in school, but they're both still ages many people refer to in months. Am I a terrible person for wanting my daycare to take good care of my kids and expect little more from me than payment in full, random baked goods and frequent "thank-yous"?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mad Max

Those of you who know her know that Max the Cat is pure evil. Max is Jeremiah's cat. Jeni brought her home for him when Max was such a tiny kitten she had to be fed with a dropper. Max is easily the most beautiful cat I've ever known. A giant ball of fluff with cute Lorax feet (you know, those big tufts of fur that poof out between the toes) and big, round green eyes, you can't help but want to pet her. In her especially evil youth she would look at new-comers beguilingly, maybe even rub up against an innocent visitor and purr. It was all a ruse to get you to put yourself in harm's way. Back when she had claws, touching Max often meant you would pull back a bloody arm. One unsuspecting visitor to Jeremiah's abode left with a bloodied lip. Evil. A few years ago I learned that it wasn't necessarily so that a cat could be too old to be declawed. Calls were placed...and Max's front WMD were neutralized.

To my surprise, she immediately became a much happier kitty. She will let us pick her up and carry her around, she will even let some people go near her. But not Joy. She hates Joy, we have no idea why. And she hates most strangers. She is evidently aware that she can't do much damage so now instead of trying to lure people in she just growls threateningly when someone new approaches. And she might bite you. Hard.
But here's the point of all this. Max loves Kate. Kate pokes her, pulls on her tail, rubs her belly, lays on top of her and screeches with delight in her ears. From day one, Max has had nothing but somewhat indifferent tolerance for Kate. For Max, that amounts to unconditional love. It brings a tear to my eye, I tell you. Each day when she gets home from daycare Kate runs over to the kitchen table (we feed Max up there so Lola won't eat all her food. Don't worry, we don't do any food prep on it anymore) and says "I want to go up there!" Up she goes while one of us hovers near-by, waiting for Kate to tumble to the floor and burst her skull wide open, spilling brains all over the tile. There she torments Max in ways no other sentient being would dare. And Max just hangs out. Purrs, even, sometimes. I guess wonders really never will cease.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Preparing for her Wheaties box photo

Kate took her first gymnastics class yesterday. What's cuter than a 2-year-old in a pretty dress? Of course, a 2-year-old in a leotard and ponytail! Here's Kate warming up with a little help from Piglet -

She clung to that little Piglet nearly the entire class. In fact, I think she would've had him the whole time had Jeremiah not snagged him when they came out for a water break.

The class involved running, stretching, jumping on the trampoline and walking on the balance beam. It kind of made me want to go roll around on the mats with the kids. They're all so cute. I bet all the parents who were crowded around the windows to the main gymnasium, watching their little ones tumble, would like to have joined them. The overwhelming mitigating factor, though, is that the whole room stinks of little, sweaty feet.

Here's another shot of Kate, training for the special forces. ("gymnastics"? You're not fooling anyone Young Military Covert ops Academy!)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


When you start a family everyone tells you "Everything is going to change". Like maybe that hadn't occurred to you. Of course there's lots of obvious changes - the budget, the weekend activities, the occupancy of the house... But my life has changed in a lot of ways I would not have expected, maybe these things are the sorts of things people are trying to convey when they tell you that everything will change.

-Sometimes when I'm nowhere near either kid I could swear I smell baby poop.

-With every new location or activity my brain now automatically assesses the peril and presents me with at least 3 ways my environment could cause the gruesome, bloody death of one or both of my kids ("K is for Kate, who was struck with an axe").

-I have Hippos Go Berserk memorized and consider Sandra Boyton a national treasure. Before kids, I had no idea who she was.

-Now that I have kids, I have, on occasion, picked a nose that wasn't on my face and (this is the alarming part) thought nothing of it.

-I wonder if maybe I should be a little more conservative with my declarations to Jeremiah that he is "a big, gay homosexual". We have, after all, determined that Kate is not yet familiar with the concept of sarcasm or facetiousness.

-We take far fewer pictures of the dog

-If you'd asked me before what my favorite sound was I'd probably have paused thoughtfully, then offered some type of music or some natural sound - "uh...I don't know...waterfall?" Now I can say without hesitation that the best sound in the world is that of my kids' laughter.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Oakhurst Arts Festival

Saturday was the day of the annual Oakhurst Arts Festival. Since it takes place .03 of a mile from my house, there's just no excuse not to go. Plus, it's fun. Jeremiah had ditched me in order to attend his friend, Graham's, wedding in Virginia, so it was just us girls. Sarah wasn't terribly impressed with the whole scene, but she's cool like that. Kate, meanwhile, was thrilled to find that Uncle Steve & Aunt JoJo were there, along with a few of her buddies from daycare. Also, there were balloons. And lots of dogs. And a booth containing dozens of exciting hats to try on. And the booth where we got the skirt she's wearing here. (Jeremiah brought her downstairs after she insisted on wearing this ensemble and implied that she may be a bit retarded.)

Later I left Kate and Sarah in the capable hands of Steve & Joy. They fed Kate a hotdog and some cookies for lunch. Then she got to watch the bellydancers perform. And she beat the living daylights out of her stuffed dog when she "walked" him by his balloon string leash all over the park...wearing her new skirt. Now it's Tuesday and I don't think the skirt can be considered new; she's worn practically every moment since its purchase. She is still snoozing currently, and I am dreading having to tell her the skirt is in the laundry. That out of sight, out of mind stuff just hasn't worked since she developed object permanence. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Yvonne "Grammy" Provost, 1904 - 2006

Grammy came to stay with us 2 weeks each summer and 2 weeks at Christmas time every year while I was growing up. My dad would pick her up at the airport and when she got to the house she'd greet me with the predictable "you've grown SO MUCH!" One year she arrived and after giving me a big hug she held me at arms length (which wasn't far, she was a tiny woman), drew breath in preparation of her usual greeting and then stopped. After a beat for scrutiny she said "You haven't grown at all since the last time I saw you." Another thoughtful pause, and then "You know what? I don't think you're going to grow at all anymore!" She was very close to spot-on about that but given my gene pool it was a safe guess.

Once she was settled in, the baking would commence! Due to her diminutive size, she'd stand on a little step stool in front of the counter. From there, she'd whip out all manner of delicious pies. I loved her pies and even more, I loved the croquinolles, the little pastries she'd make with the left-over pie dough. The big event, though, was The Making of the Doughnuts. As grandmothers do, she made the dough from memory. Then my dad would tear open several paper grocery bags and lay them out on the counter for draining purposes. Grammy would heat up a mess o' Crisco in a dutch oven and, with my dad as her kitchen assistant, she'd make dozens of buttermilk doughnuts. DOZENS. The counters were piled with doughnuts, it looked like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (will fewer socialist themes and no scary Oompa-Loompas). After that you could open any cabinet in the kitchen and find a Tupperware container filled with doughnuts. That was the way it went. Until the time Grammy caught the kitchen on fire when she confused "high" and "off" on the burner. While that is unfortunate, it did provide my parents with just the excuse they were looking for to remodel the kitchen and, while they were at it, put a giant addition on the house.

After 102 years, Grammy has called it quits. I will miss her pies and her French-Canadian accent that sounded so sweet when she said "Eddie" to my dad and when she approvingly said "Katherine Louise" at her 100th birthday party when she met Kate. And I will miss those doughnuts. Now my mom is Grammy Provost! Those are some big shoes to fill. (Though technically speaking, they were pretty small.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

This is what I was talking about

In these photos, I'm fresh from the shower and have just donned clean clothes. I'm not really in the picture, but I think you can still get a real feel for which of us is not the "happy" part of "Happy Spitter".

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Throwing up a couple more pictures

Sarah spits up a lot. In fact, nearly everything she does is punctuated with a bout of spitting up.

I pause here in my tale for a note on the term "spitting up". I have come to the conclusion that it's only considered "spitting up" if one dines solely on breast milk or formula. People say "the poor little dear had the flu and spit up for days". They do not say "Last night I drank a liter of Jack Daniels and spent the hours between 3 and 7AM spitting up" or "Botulism can cause fever, chills, violent shaking and spitting up (so if you're bold enough to eat the contents of the mysterious can, bring a burp cloth!). No, in those cases it's "puking" or "vomiting" or "talking to Ralph on the Big White Phone". I've got news for you, friends. When Sarah does it, it's puking too. Call it what you will, that kid spews. And I'll tell you something else while I'm on about it; calling it spit up does not make it not stink.

When I took Sarah to the doctor for her 2-month check-up I mentioned this less-than-charming habit of hers. "I'm flummoxed" I told the doctor "because she isn't fussy, she's not losing weight, she's not running a fever...she just spits up all the time". The doctor smiled benignly, nodding and then cheerily said "She's what we call a Happy Spitter!" How nice, I thought. Then her doctor went on to say "She probably won't quit that before she's 6 months old." Oh joy.

I left the doctor's office wondering what brilliant medical mind came up with the term "Happy Spitter". It sounds to me more like the work of the marketing department of the doll division at Fisher-Price than something you'll see in the Physicians Desktop Reference. Come to think of it...I did have a doll that peed all the time...maybe I'm on to something here.

Bear scat

Kate has been watching Winnie the Pooh of late (oh sweet, sweet relief from The Muppet Show!) She was viewing some Pooh bear this morning. When it was time to leave for daycare, Jeremiah turned off the TV and said "Time to go bye-bye!" (we would not have chosen to use the term "bye bye" for leaving, but daycare uses it like mad and now it's all she seems to get. Kate collapsed on the floor, crying and saying "No! Poop! Poooooop!"

Either she thinks that Silly Old Bear is named Winnie the Poop or she is delivering a rather unfavorable review of the DVD. I suspect it's the former but you never know - she may have inherited her mother's genetic need to voice all her opinions, frequently in an undiplomatic fashion.