Monday, August 31, 2009


Sarah sat drawing pictures while I helped Kate with her homework. "See mommy, that's you" she said pointing to an amoeba-like doodle with one eye. I declared the likeness amazing. "This is my baby" she went on to explain. Indeed, the shape next to me was much smaller. "This one is me..." Jeremiah had wandered into the kitchen and asked who her baby's daddy was. She scrunched up her face and looked at the drawing. It clearly contained no figure for the daddy. "I don't know" she confessed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Friday evening when I returned home from work the 4' tomato plant, which to date has failed to bring forth fruit, was standing strong in the yard. It's the lone vegetable plant we've put in the ground so far. I walk past it nightly and acknowledge its presence and its lack of tomatoes.

Saturday morning was, as Saturday mornings always are, very rushed. The girls must be off to their gym & dance class at 9:30 having been fed and properly attired, with their hair fastened out of their faces. It never gets easier. Jeremiah took them to the Y so he could work out during their class and I took Lola on a long walk. When Jeremiah returned, I was already home cleaning.

"You've got to come out here and see this" he said to me, indicating the back yard. So I headed outside and there, weight swaying the top rung of our 4' tomato plant, was the fattest caterpillar I'd ever chanced to meet. I fully expected it, as I leaned in for close inspection of his all-too busy mandibles, to rear his head and demand "Whoooo are yoooooou?" The main difference here being that this caterpillar had clearly only partaken of the side that makes you bigger.

The bottom 18" of the plant remained leafy. Everything else was pretty much gone. One caterpillar. One night. Worse, there was a pile of turds on the ground directly beneath him, no smaller than rabbit pellets. "Holy crap" I said. The girls were also fascinated. Kate decided she wanted to bring him to her class for show and tell. I happily complied, pounding small holes into the lid of a mason jar and filling it with the remaining top leaves of the plant and the giant larva. Further investigation taught us that he was a tobacco hornworm. Within minutes of being placed in the jar he'd worked through another leaf (we could watch him chowing down, it was cool) and generated 5 more turds. "I don't know if this guy's going to make till Monday" I warned Kate.

Throughout the remainder of the day she carried the jar of caterpillar and poop around with her. They built a large fort in the living room and he was moved in as the "fort mascot". A mere hour or so into his tenure in the jar I was seeking out more leaves to give him.

It was an extremely busy day. We're leaving for vacation next week and I want the house to be clean when we return, so I was cleaning like a maniac. The girls colored, drew, played a game, held an elaborate birthday party for my old doll Mandy, who lives with Kate now, and generally undid everything I spent the day doing. I forgot about the bug.

This morning, wandering around the house with a cup of coffee in a cheerful Sunday morning haze, I suddenly thought of him. I located his jar amidst the rubble of what had been the fort. That must've been some birthday party. Not only were the leaves entirely gone, so were nearly all their branches. There, at the bottom of the jar, atop an astonishing pile of his own excrement, lay Mr. Tobacco Hornworm. "Kate, " I said "I'm very sorry but your caterpillar didn't make it." Kate looked up at me, "he 'didn't make it'? What does that mean?" I sighed, sipped my coffee and replied "he's dead, love." She pursed her lips and looked off just beyond my shoulder. Finally she shrugged and said "Oh well."

I threw out the entire jar. Let us remember him as he was in life - fat, happy and a little blurry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tales From Pre-School

Sarah told Jeremiah the following today:

[Some kid, let's call him Fred] was [doing something] and I didn't like it. I told Fred to stop it because I didn't like it. He said "So?" So I hit him.

It's hard to teach a kid to be gentle when you're so impressed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More About the Bike

On Friday, I made the majority of my commute on my bike. At about 5:30 I parked at Toco Hills shopping center and biked the remaining 9 miles down North Druid Hills to E. Roxboro to Wieuca to Roswell (yikes). I went into my office and stretched then showered and changed into my work attire and ate the breakfast I'd left for myself the day before. Then, the day drew to an end and I took my extended route home (beautiful, though historic Brookhaven...hilly). When I got back to Toco Hills my car was waiting patiently, safe and sound. I put my bike back on the rack, fired up the car and stuck my face in front of a vent with the AC on full power for a few minutes. Then I sat in the seat for a couple seconds trying to get my brain to switch from "biking" to "driving". They're very different.

I felt fantastic. First, I reached a long-standing goal. Second, I was all charged up from the physical activity. My legs felt alright, too. Joy had picked up the girls, so I went straight home, changed out of my sweaty clothes and headed over to see my wee ones. Steve and Joy were on their front porch with our friends, their next door neighbors, Brendan and Kore, while the kids played on their bikes on the sidewalk. The kids greeted me excitedly and Joy greeted me with an ice cold cocktail. How outstanding an afternoon is that?

Most of my route home is gorgeous and free of traffic. The route I've worked out now keeps me on N. Druid Hills for entirely too long, though. That road is all traffic in the afternoon and there's nowhere for a bike to go. Usually I insert myself in traffic, where bikes belong, but in that kind of traffic, on a road where there's no shoulder, the sidewalk is the only real option. I'm already reviewing the maps to figure out how to avoid more of N. Druid in the afternoon. I'm prepared to add another mile if I have to. That would still only make my ride back 11 miles, which isn't bad on a bike. I'm hoping to bike to work next Wednesday, so - back to the maps with me now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moments with Sarah

This is my current favorite Sarah outfit. She knows she shouldn't have her shoes on the furniture, but it's a good shot of the total ensemble, so I let it slide for the moment. She's also not supposed to have food in the TV room. These kids today, I tell ya.

Here's the witch, zapping us with a spell, sending her familiar off to do her evil bidding. Yes, she's wearing a cowgirl hat. That's how this witch rolls.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

She Has a Great Personality and She Makes All Her Own Clothes. Telekinetically.

As you know, Joy has made the girls several delightful dress-up ensembles. She shared with us the other day that Kate, upon being shown the peddle that controls the sewing machine, was astonished. Up in the office where Joy had the sewing machine set up to make the latest creation, Kate saw how Joy makes the needle function and said "Ohhhhh!!!! I thought you were doing that with your mind."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Want To Ride My Bicycle I Want To Ride My Bike

For years now, I've fantasized of combining my workout with my commute. The traffic in Atlanta is so dreadful (I believe we were actually #1 for badness in a few traffic surveys this year), and I spend so very much time sitting on my ever-augmenting backside...why not do something useful with all that time?

Last year, I began seeking out alternate routes to work. I found one that's all surface streets that I really enjoy and when I learned it was only 13 miles I began to think more seriously of biking it. There is a shower at my office. It's a weird thing, just sitting there in one of the bathrooms in the basement. No one has ever used it, from what I can tell. I consulted with our building manager who liked my plan to bike to work so well she had the plumber check to be sure the shower was working properly the next time he was in. That was very nice, but it suddenly meant I was probably going to have to do this thing. Deciding that the humiliation I'd experience if I had to admit to her that I wasn't really biking to work was the key to forcing myself to achieve this goal, I started telling everyone my plan.

Though my route is all surface streets, they're extremely busy surface streets. I pass schools and cross over the interstate and end up on Roswell Road, which is insane. That's all fine for the ride in, since I would only be doing this on days I pick the girls up from daycare and therefore arrive at work at 7:30. I'd be riding in before the traffic shows up. I leave the office to head to daycare around 4, though, and by then it's full-on rush hour here in the ATL. I would need another route home, and I would need to make it in an hour, so I would have time to put my bike away, jump in the car and get to daycare.

There are a lot of logistics involved. But I've told everyone, you see. Now I have to do it. I've been biking more, trying to get my speed up a bit and planning. I went to see the nice folks at Bicycle South, who sold me my bike and who were extremely helpful with my loose gear cables and in answering my bevy of questions. I did a test run on a Sunday morning a couple weeks ago. Twenty-eight miles round trip, and lots of hills. Oh the hills. You see them in your car, but the intensity of the change in elevation is something you just can't wrap your head around until you've biked them. I remained only slightly daunted.

Then it happened. The other morning I was biking with one of the women in the neighborhood nuts enough to go riding at 5AM and we were talking about the obstacles between my goal and me and she said "can't you drive part of the way and bike the rest?" As I pondered her question I realized something. I am dumb. Of course I can do that.

So now I've checked the weather and am planning a trip back to Bicycle South for a road safety kit. I'm thinking I'll make my initial biking commute this coming Wednesday, barring incident. For some reason the idea of it is sort of scary to me, even though I bike all over the place, often in a great deal of traffic, without much thought at all. If I park at Toco Hills shopping center, I shave just 3 miles off the entire trip, but that's plenty. So I'm ready. I think. I'm telling the blog now, so I'm leaving myself no choice.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kate's First Day of Kindergarten

I was surprised when I literally had to drag Kate out of bed this morning. Usually when something big is up, so is she. Once she was alive, awake and alert, though, she was over the top enthusiastic. She got herself dressed, brushed her teeth, washed her face and demanded a waffle. Spunky. Then off we all went, dropping Sarah off in her brand new 3-year-old class (next year she'll rule the school!) and then off to Drew. As we pulled into the parking lot I could hear Kate quaking with giddiness. Then we got out of the car and she donned her fabulous Hello Kitty backpack (a birthday gift from our next door neighbors) and she couldn't stop giggling. She grasped my hand and we headed for her classroom.

Before we got into the building she said "I'm laughing because I'm just so excited" and giggled more. Then came the shock and awe. Drew goes from 3-year-olds (that's new, we didn't know or we might have tried to get Sarah in there, too) through 8th grade. There were big kids everywhere. Kate fell silent. She didn't stop smiling but her eyes were huge, taking it all in. When we arrived in her classroom her teacher, Mrs. Cone, greeted and her and showed her how to check in. Then she gave her a big notebook titled "My Writing Journal" and asked her to find her assigned seat and put her name and a drawing of herself on the first page of her new journal. As the other kids filed in, Kate set to work. And the camera, wouldn't work. After a few moments of me thinking that if indeed the camera wasn't going to work (neither of us brought our phones in with us) I just might cry. I'd managed to avoid it until that moment but not to have photos of this moment...I got a little choked up and then the camera began to click away. Close shave.

When I picked Kate up she looked as happy as she had when I dropped her off, all pink-cheeked from outdoor play. When I asked her how her day was she reported that she was just too tired to tell me. It wasn't until 2 hours later when she spoke on the phone with Uncle Steve, recounting every second of her day, that I found out what she did all day. It was a lot. She had fun. One day down, 179 to go.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How to Beat the Heat Out on the Street

Well we had a good run in July. I think we probably had the AC off and the windows open for at least 5 days and even more nights. In July! Now it's August. Things have changed. It's August in Atlanta. I can't really complain, I mean, we knew about the weather before we chose to move here and anyway, this king-ka-maya-maya heat is pretty brief and then we get a nice, mild winter.

It was 95 and sunny today. Here's our short list of how to have fun without outdoor play (our preferred Fun Mode).

1. Take in a show at the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts (we learned today it's the largest program of its kind in the WORLD.) We're thinking of joining. We've been to 2 shows there now and they were both most awesome. Today we saw Pinocchio with found-objects puppets. The girls got meet Pinocchio after the show and the didn't even have to show their boobies to get to say hi to him.

2. Take a trip to the library. Last week Kate's daycare program was officially over and school doesn't begin until tomorrow (big day!). Kate got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Jo Jo while Sarah was at daycare. Sarah was pretty good about it but I promised her she and I would do something special of her choosing, just us. She thrilled me by choosing to go to the library. I love that kid.

3. See actual kids in a candy store. It's like Geeks in an electronics shop. There's a candy/fudge shop in downtown Decatur called Green's. We hadn't visited it before. We went today and all it was missing was the Oompa loompas (I wouldn't say I was missing them, Charlie).

4. Go home, head up to the office and watch 80s videos on the Mac. Kate was transfixed, I tell you. Sarah danced all over the room. My favorite was watching her get down to Walk Like an Egyptian.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Morning Vingettes

Kate is seated with her little drawing/writing tablet that erases. She begins aloud:

Kate: This is going to awkward because she's standing right here. I wanted to watch a movie and she wouldn't let me. I wanted to play a game and she wouldn't let me.

Me: What? I tried to get you to play Memory with Sarah and me!

Kate: [ignoring me] I wanted to go outside and she wouldn't let me.

Me: I told you to go outside! It's beautiful out! Maybe you should go outside right now.

Kate: [still ignoring me, continues writing] I wanted to put a puzzle together and she wouldn't let me.

Me: You're outta line, Drueke.

Kate: I wanted something to eat and she wouldn't feed -

Me: WHAT? Who made you that waffle with Nutella?!? Who got you a glass of milk?

Kate: [Looks at me impassively, blinks, falls silent but continues writing].


Later that same morning.

I am in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I hear a yell from the kitchen.

Sarah: Sorry mommy!

I stop brushing and stand as still as a deer in headlights. Then I spit out the toothpaste.

Me: Sorry for what?

Sarah: Sorry I had an accident on Kate's book bag.


Aftermath. Kate is still writing on her tablet. She walks her falsified report over to me.

Kate: See mommy? I drew a heart. It says I love you. Even though you won't let me watch a movie.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hermia and Helena

I sent the girls to Aunt Jo Jo's in their usual attire. When they returned, it seemed they'd gotten caught up with the woodland fairies, and were victims of the nymphs' spells and mischief.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Heard The Lady

The other night we dined at Steve & Joy's. We were there a bit past the girls' bedtime and they were stinky. In fact, I'd realized it had been 5 days since their last bath. Oops. Since it was so late and since they were so stinky Steve gave them a bath while the rest of us sat around the table talking about how nice it was that they were getting a bath. We could hear the goings on from the bathroom. I listened while sipping my wine and relaxing. Best bathtime ever.

Anyway, so they're all clean and what-not and out comes Sarah, buck naked. She climbed up onto the bench of the kitchen breakfast nook where we sat. "Naked girl!" I called out to her. She stood proud, arms akimbo, lips pursed and addressed the group with, somewhat accusingly I might add, "Don't touch my boobs!" She has a funny little accent and the word "boobs" came out with an extra long "oooooo" that very nearly turned into a liquid "u" there at the end. I resisted the urge to say "but just look at the way you're dressed!" because I'll be happy if she will continue to say that for a few years. Twenty would be good.