Sunday, December 31, 2006

Quick cute kid video

Right before Christmas, Liza finally admitted that the cow says "moo," the sheep says "baa," etc. We've gotten her to say something that sounds vaguely right for cows, sheep, pigs, cats, dogs, snakes, bears, lions, tigers, and probably a few others I've forgotten. As you can see from this video, cats don't say "meow," they wail like they're being run over by a steamroller. And I've learned it's best not to quiz her on camera when she'd rather be rolling Fisher Price cars to their death off the two-foot drop at the end of the parking garage ramp.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas round-up

I won't even try to go through everything that's happened in the past week or so. It's sort of been a whirlwind of dollmaking, cooking, baking, woodworking, happy screaming kids, ticked off screaming kids, D&D miniatures games, Munchkin games, buying expensive new yarn, and that sort of thing.

Christmas day was pretty much what you'd expect from a not-quite-two-year-old ... she had the attention span of a small insect, wanted to play with the bows as much as with her toys, and it took us forever to open presents. Gifts that were supposed to be big hits were received with barely concealed contempt ("Oh, a wooden apple I can lace this fake worm through. How nice."), while small things bought on a whim stole the show ("A fairy wand that's like a tuning fork and goes "TING" when you hit things with it? Hot diggety! Look it dings on the coffee table, and mama's forehead, and the cat, and the glass storm door, and ...").

Here's me and Liza with our two favorite presents - the $5 fairy wand and a pair of $10 slipper socks (with pompoms on the ties!) that Jason bought me so he'd get free shipping on the rest of his order:
Liza has been moderately enthusiastic about her "big" present, an inflatable ride-on bouncy horse thing called a Rody.
I think we'll be returning the rocker base we bought separately, since it makes the horse too high for Liza to get onto by herself, and she doesn't seem to have the hang of rocking, anyway. She likes to sit on it and bounce up and down, though, and she was absolutely enthralled by how our friends' kids used it, bouncing laps around the house at the pace of a thoroughbred. Absolutely frightening how fast those kids could go on this thing, especially with two toddlers around who don't know enough to get out of the way.
Of course, Liza was just as enthralled with the air mattress we had set up for the boys to sleep on, and the bouncing and leaping and cracking-open-of-skulls opportunities it afforded. We've been halfheartedly trying to convince Liza not to jump on her bed, and I think that air mattress has set our effort back by at least a week or two, if not more. On the positive side, though, she can now jump off of a short thing (like an air mattress) and land on her feet on something lower (like the floor). Can't wait until I turn my back for a minute and she tries that off of her regular-height bed. Yep, we've got 911 on speed dial. How'd you know?

Comfort me with apples

Several weeks ago I was out doing yard work when I heard a rustling in the bushes nearby. Ever mindful of the local skunk and raccoon population, I edged closer, brandishing my plastic rake in an attempt to look menacing to whatever rabid animal I found. I'm sure I scared the bejeezus out of the squirrel that was commando-crawling out of the bushes and across the driveway separating our house from our neighbor's.

As far as I could tell, it had fallen off of the very large tree nearby and broken or otherwise hurt both of its back legs, which were dragging uselessly behind it as it scrabbled pitifully across the pavement. I felt sorry for it, especially since my back yard is a stop on the Underground Cat Railroad, judging by the number of strays and/or neighborhood cats who stalk things near our patio.

I went back to raking, but I couldn't put the poor little bugger out of my mind. Should I kill it? With what? I know you can chop the head off a snake with a sharp shovel, but this wasn't a snake, and my shovels aren't sharp. Maybe whacking it upside the head with a brick? Was that any less disturbing of a mental image than the current one of Rambo the squirrel heading for cover in the bushes?

By the time I got back around to look for the squirrel, it had taken cover near the base of the tree, close enough to our other neighbor's frequently-barking-dog to probably be safe from cats for a while. Now I switched worries - instead of a quick death at the hands of Blackberry, the poor thing was going to starve to death. Should I try to find something to feed it? Would food attract cats? What do squirrels eat, anyway? Could it eat acorns now, or do they need to soften up over the winter to be palatable?

As I raked and kept mulling over the problem, it occurred to me that my instinctive response to almost any sort of crisis is to fix the problem with food. Death or illness in the family? Bring a casserole. Feeling sick to your stomach? Ginger ale and crackers will fix that. Baby cranky? Time to feed her. War in Somalia? Maybe if we all sent over some cookies, they'd stop fighting.

This point was driven home later that same day, when I took some of the cookie exchange party leftovers over to a friend who couldn't make it because her kids were sick that day. When I got there, I found a note on the door saying that they had left to take their child to the emergency room because it was the only thing open and she had gotten worse that afternoon. It was about 5pm, and my first thought was, I wonder if I should stop by McDonalds and pick up some food for them to eat while they wait in the hospital?

I guess cooking is safe for me. While I'm not that comfortable lending a shoulder to cry on, I'm perfectly willing to provide soup for you to cry into. Offering food makes me feel like I'm making a contribution, but it generally doesn't involve a whole lot of effort on my part. High positive karma points, low effort required.

I know I'm not the only one who responds to a stressful situation by firing up the oven. I recently read a series of autobiographies by Ruth Reichl, the former food critic of the New York Times (among other things). Many of her anecdotes involve how she used every stressful situation as an excuse to hide in the kitchen for days, making ever more complex meals and dishes. Her second book, Comfort Me with Apples, was easily the worst of the three. It really should have been called Comfort Me with Semi-Anonymous Adulterous Sex, but I guess that probably wouldn't have sold as well as a book titled after a line from the Song of Solomon. I found it difficult to read about her affairs while married to someone she admitted was a very nice man, and I find it difficult to believe that she can actually recall in perfect detail every course of the meals she ate with her lovers. I'm lucky if I can remember what I had for dinner yesterday, much less what I ate on my first date with Jason.

But aside from that volume, the Ruth Reichl books are entertaining and enlightening. She sprinkles them with a handful of recipes, none of which I've tried, but few of which seem beyond the scope of an average cook. I mean, how hard can it be to make scrambled eggs with matzoh?

So if you have a chance to check out Tender at the Bone or Garlic and Sapphires, I highly recommend them. They won't change the world or fix the problems in Somalia, but they did make me forget about Rambo for a few hours. Now THAT'S a review any author would be proud to receive :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Baking central

My parents arrived early last week, and since then we've been sewing, baking, slapping wood filler on a cabinet I'm rehabbing, baking, and more sewing. Check out my other blog for details on the sewing ( ).
I thought I'd a scene from my kitchen this morning, where my mother was making caramel rolls for tomorrow morning and I was working on the red velvet cake for our big dinner tonight. My mother knows that I absolutely despise making pie crusts, even thought I much prefer pie to cake, so every time she comes to visit, she fills all my pie pans with crusts I can freeze and use later. It's a better present than anything I'm likely to get under the tree tomorrow.
Here's my mother in action:

I hope everyone out there has a great Winter Holiday Of Your Choice, and I hope everyone has someone out there to make pie crusts for them. Take care, and I'll see you in a few days!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Selective Blindness update

Well, I'm doing pretty good at actually stopping to enjoy the season (and my kid), although the stomach flu didn't really help much. Maybe it did, as I was so incapacitated that all I could do was lay on the couch and read to Liza, the same four library books over and over and over again. Oh, and kick a balloon across the room so she could hop down from the couch, go get the balloon, spend 10 minutes trying to get herself and the balloon back on the couch, and repeating the whole thing, to shrieks of laughter. Good times.

I think the best part of the whole last two weeks was yesterday afternoon, when I was driving home from Lowe's and realized that it was 67 degrees and sunny ... in December. I immediately declared a new holiday - National "It's 67 Degrees Outside in December and God Will Strike You Down If You Don't Go To The Park" Day. I packed some sandwiches and snacky bits for Liza, stuffed my family in the car, and joined the flocks of people over at our town's big playground. We chased Liza around (mostly to keep her from going on the big kid equipment, which was teeming with, well, big kids), managed to get her to eat most of her dinner, and figured out exactly how far Jason could kick a miniature basketball. Nothing special, but definitely a nice change of pace from the non-stop cleaning that was the rest of Sunday. In the past I would have spent the whole day cleaning - the house DID need it - while looking resentfully at the nice weather outside. But I managed to stop that impulse before it took hold too far, and we had a nice afternoon instead of clean kitchen floors.

So, mom and dad, when you get here tonight, feel free to blame the sticky spots in the hallway on your granddaughter and global warming, not on me :)

THE little red dress

If you've spoken to me in the last, oh, 3 years or so, you've probably heard about THE little red dress from Hanna Andersson. I've been obsessing about this dress almost as much as I did the crab-butt pants and monkey-butt tights you heard about a while ago. I swear I think if I had given birth to a boy, I STILL would have dressed him up in this dress and pretended he was a girl, it's that cute.

So of course, Liza had to have one for this year, but I wasn't about to pay retail prices for the set. Enter eBay, where I managed to find the dress and tights (gently used) for about $40. In August. I wasn't sure whether her size would come up again closer to the actual holiday season, so I went ahead and bought it. Since I wasn't sure how much Liza would grow between then and now, I erred on the size of caution and bought two sets - a size 80 and a size 90, just in case she turned into an Amazon before Christmas. I'm sure you can imagine how I justified this to myself - including, but not limited to, next year I can resell the one that doesn't fit; now I'll have a dress ready for next year, too; maybe one of our friends will want the extra one; what if she outgrows the 80 in September?

Of course, we had two Christmas parties to attend, both of which were going to include the same people. I couldn't have my daughter looking all ghetto and wear the same dress to both parties, so we needed a second dress for the second party. And shoes to go with both. It's a sickness, really, it is.
Anyway, Liza looked adorable in THE dress, and I managed to take some photos despite the raging stomach flu I had the day she and Jason went to the first party. Check out the precious pumpkin:
"Hi, I'm going on two. You won't see a picture of me for the next year that doesn't involve either a snotty nose or a sippy cup stuck to my face."

I love the hairdo, which one of the other preschool moms calls "The Cindy Lu Hoo Do," as in the cute little girl from the Grinch movie. Personally, I just call it adorable, and since we're trying to grow out her hair, you're going to be seeing this a lot over the coming months. Must ... not ... buy ... more than ... 10 ... cute ... hairbows ...

No photos yet of the second dress, although I'll probably have to shove her in it one more time so we can take at least one picture. Then it's getting wrapped in plastic and stored in the back of the closet until it's time to sell it on eBay next year (so I can buy her another cute dress, like the Twilight Taffeta dress, maybe?).

Oh, and one more photo, this time of Liza posing in front of her Christmas tree wearing her favorite hat (the sock monkey hat our friend Sybil made for her this summer, which she now has to wear at least once a day, every day, preferably putting it on and taking it off a dozen times or more):

I am especially fond of her signature "one fleecy slipper, one bare foot" look, which I think is going to take off like the bustier did when Madonna wore one in her concerts a few years ago.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cute video I found on Youtube

I think Jason's sister's cat Casey needs one of these. When Susan weighed her recently, Casey was 19 pounds. My daughter weighs 24 pounds. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now that's a good Santa

You can barely tell she's sitting on my lap, not his. If only I'd moved my hand out of the way ...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Phrases you don't really want to hear ...

"Hold still while daddy cleans the cat litter out of your hoo-hoo."

Why, oh why, is it inevitable that my daughter discovers the joys of flinging cat litter everywhere at 8:15 at night, when she is freshly washed and ready for bed, and her hair is wet so the litter sticks to it and turns into little mud balls in her hair? I had to sweep up several cups of litter while Jason tried to get her clean, which ended up requiring a high-powered shower setting and a lot of scrubbing. And how on earth did she manage to get that much litter in her diaper?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wasted week

Too sick to ...
... write
... cook
... quilt

That last one's the tip off that I was firmly parked on death's doorstep. If I've got baby-free time and decide to sleep instead of work on a craft, something is seriously wrong.

I'll spare you most of the gory details ... basically I've had some sort of non-puking stomach flu since Sunday. Last Sunday. 24-hour bug, my foot. I gave in on Friday and went to the doctor, who basically said what the online research I'd done said she would say ... 'not much we can do until we know what it is, so let's have five samples to culture over the weekend, and here's some industrial-strength anti-diarrhea medicine. Oh, and drink something, for god's sake, you're peeing BROWN, you're so dehydrated.'

The prescription was a disaster, doing nothing to stop the symptoms and giving me a world-class case of gas to boot. Imagine all the worst toilet humor you've ever seen or heard; that's what it was like around here on Friday night.

The regimen of drinking water, then Gatorade, then water, then sugar-filled soda seems to be working pretty well ... I wouldn't say I'm properly hydrated, but at least it no longer looks like I've poured my mother's iced tea in the pot when I pee (you know, the tea that isn't properly steeped unless it sat on the counter with the teabags in it for most of a weekend?).

Still don't know what the hell this is or why it's hit me worse than the others I know who have gotten it. And pretty much everyone has gotten it ... Liza got it a day ahead of me but was cured by Thursday, and my playgroup friends and their families have been succumbing every couple of days like clockwork. And as if the actual illness itself wasn't enough, my intestinal symptoms have meant that my body hasn't had the chance to absorb either my birth control pills or my antidepressants, so I got to spend the weekend sick, depressed, and spotting two weeks early. Grrr.

I'm feeling mostly better now, as evidenced by my debilitating desire to clean up a week's worth of household clutter and crap on the kitchen floor (no, not actual crap, although I make no claims about the cleanliness of my bathroom at this moment). I promised myself that I would use Monday mornings (when Liza's at preschool) ONLY to work on freelance stuff, developing patterns or writing or sending out query letters. So far I've been good, only taking one week to do mundane household stuff because we were flying out for Thanksgiving the next day. But I think I'm going to devote this morning (or what's left of it) to getting the house back in shape and relatively sanitary, lest Jason come down with this, too. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Must-see tv

Well, not actually tv, more of a kick-ass home video made by someone with wicked editing skills and access to a green screen. And a cute kid. And a Queen song. Yes, I plan to marry my daughter off to this kid as soon as she's legal in whichever state he comes from.

I seriously laughed so hard I have to go change my undies, but since I'm on day 3 of a wicked case of what I suspect to be that mysterious "Norwalk-like virus" that people keep catching on cruise ships, needing fresh undies is really nothing new for me. Trust me, when I'm reduced to eating Jell-O and plain rice, and I am drinking the Pedialyte left over from my daughter's last illness, you do NOT want the details. If only I had caught this on a cruise ship, at least I could have spent the last few days visiting toilets in tropical locations, rather than cooped up in my house. Oh, well. At least we didn't have to pay cruise ship prices for an illness this fun!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Party on!

Pictures from after our Christmas Cookie Exchange on Saturday.

She wore the Santa hat for like half an hour, and cried when one of the other girls took it away.

Here she is in her sparkly red overalls and fake-Mary-Jane Robeez.

Yep, time to start toddler-proofing the place. Soon.

"What do you mean, 'Put it back'? It's got a Muppet on the cover, so I must watch it NOW.

Peekaboo! (or, in Kentucky-speak, Pea-Pah! Don't ask ...)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cashier in training

Over Thanksgiving we got a chance to play with Jason's old Fisher Price cash register, which still has all of the original plastic coins that came with it. Liza only had to be shown what to do once, then she was all about making change and ringing up sales.

Monster creation, step one: Stickers and crayons

Little Miss Fine Motor Skills was introduced to the wonders of stickers yesterday. Given the lukewarm reception that other art supplies have received, I wasn't expecting much. Ha. Let's just say, if she and the stickers were consenting adults, they'd be smoking cigarettes and eating breakfast by now.She made those stickers her bitch, I'll tell you that. Peeled them off the sheet, stuck them to the page, peeled them off the page, stuck them to her clothes. Peeled them off her clothes, stuck them to the floor. Peeled them off the floor, stuck them to her hand. And the furniture. And me. And these were regular, cheapo, nonrepositionable, rips-when-I-try-to-peel-them-up stickers. She's got mad skills with her fingernails.

And somewhere in there she managed to scribble all over the hardwood floor with blue crayon. Thank god for Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser. It took longer to give Liza the guilt trip about scribbling inappropriately than it did to clean up the scribble, which I think somewhat blunted the effectiveness of said guilt trip. Next time I think I need to scrub fruitlessly with a wet paper towel until she looks suitably chastened, then call in Mr. Clean.

So freaking wrong

There's just something so fundamentally wrong about baking Christmas cookies and trying to put the garland on the bannister while wearing shorts:

And it's supposed to snow tomorrow ... stupid freaky Kentucky weather. I'm dreaming of a Christmas which is cold enough to actually wear a sweater without sweating.

Advent calendar complete!

Check out my craft blog, , for details and photos.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So funny it made me spit out my Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper

I won't violate copyright laws and reproduce the strip here, even though I know a lot of you won't bother to follow the link. Trust me, it's worth the click, if only for the line "Sweet jumping Kiwis, my pet gerbil could make better business decisions than that one!" I'm hoping Jason makes that panel his screensaver on his office computer :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving photos

are available at

My personal favorites are the ones where Liza is scared to death of a baby chicken her grandfather brought in for her to see. Nothing like being spooked by something the size of a baseball that does nothing but poop on the floor ....

I knew it would come some day

... my daughter is doing exactly the same thing Dooce's daughter did at the same age ...

From , when Leta was about 17 months old:

The morning we left Leta, never a very happy morning bee, was waking the dead with her early morning moaning and wailing. I had to finish packing and showering and undertake the ever laborious blowing dry of my hair — I’m seriously on the verge of shaving it all off. Jon couldn’t get Leta to stop banging her head on the highchair and decided to give up, but I had an idea. I brought the thrashing ogre to the bathroom with me, set her in the sink and handed her a box of medium-sized tampons. She shut up instantly.

I was able to get dressed and put on my make-up while she pondered the wonder that is female hygiene products, and then I set her on the floor while I blew my hair dry. Mid bang blow-out my mother showed up, peeked around the door of the bathroom and SHRIEKED. Leta had opened at least seven tampons and had three in her mouth, the cotton absorber expanding in her saliva.

“LETA IS EATING TAMPONS!” My mother didn’t know whether to laugh or call the police.

“Is she choking?” I asked her.

“No, but — “

“And, more importantly, is she screaming? I DIDN‘T THINK SO.”

I left feeling quite proud at my parenting skills, knowing that at least once in my life I had shown my mother that she had raised a responsible and innovative daughter. WHO’S IN CHARGE NOW, HUH? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.


Here's my daughter, thinking, "Was this where Mom told me to stick it?"

She had more luck getting it in there once she pulled off the wrapper and pulled out the little pusher tube thingee ... just the right size for aural insertion. Good thing I'm fast, or I'd have had a lot of explaining to do at the emergency room.

Selective Blindness

I have come to the realization that pretty much everyone suffers from Selective Blindness - that is, we have so much information coming at us that we have to screen some of it out to keep from going nuts noticing every detail. I've read somewhere that this is actually a protective mechanism that our brains have developed to help us focus on what's actually important ... if our ancestors went around noticing the movement of every blade of grass, they would have gotten eaten by some large carnivorous animal pretty quickly. While this information screening is unconscious, and therefore not our fault, it does at times keep us from noticing some wonderful things.

Case in point: I went to college in a small town surrounded on all sides by the Appalachian Mountains. It was possible to look out my dorm room window and see wave after wave of ridges rolling off into the distance. The mountains were misty blue, or dappled in fall colors, or the peculiar yellow-green that meant there was pollen covering every surface in town.

But 90% of the time, I would look out the window and see ... the dorm across the quad (if I even bothered to look out the window at all). I remember maybe half a dozen times when I looked out the window to see if it was raining (the answer was almost always yes ... they didn't call it Bleaksburg for nothing), and my eyes would drift up a little bit and the sight of the mountains would take my breath away. I had been too busy with classes, and research, and my friends, and whatever else was going on to just LOOK at what was around me.

I think that Selective Blindness is also at the root of a phenomenon that I used to experience at the end of every vacation. I would walk in the front door of my house/apartment/dorm room and everything just seemed wrong. It felt like someone had come into my house and moved everything - knicknacks, furniture, walls - about 1/16th of an inch away from where it was when I left. Rooms seemed smaller, or more dirty, or less gracious. Even our cats looked different than I remembered.

But the last few times we've come home from vacation, nothing has seemed out of place. The cats aren't skinnier, the walls haven't moved, and if the house is dirtier, it's from the cat hair that's accumulated in our absence.

I don't think this is due to some sort of improvement in my Blindness ... actually, I think it's gotten worse. I spend so much time chasing after things - chores, writing, Liza - that I don't have time to mark an image in my head to compare against what I see when I get home. I've taken Selective Blindness to the next level, adding a metaphorical blindfold to the metaphorical blinders I was already wearing.

In some ways, this is a good thing - the feeling of displacement I used to experience at the end of vacations was unsettling, and it would take hours before I felt like I was truly home. But I wonder what else I am missing by being in motion all the time.

On our way home from Thanksgiving I purposely left my craft project in the suitcase so that I could take a nap in the car on the way to the airport. The nap never materialized because there was just so much going on outside the car window. First there was a field where the heavy morning dew had covered the spiderwebs draped over clumps of weeds, leaving a carpet of sparkling lace in place of the normal sight of mown crops and roadside litter. Then I noticed that the light coming from behind us was hitting the dew on some of the fields just right, creating a moving band of rainbow in each field. Jason and I had an actual conversation, one where there was a repeated back-and-forth exchange of ideas instead of "So, whose turn is it to change the stinky britches?" During our flight I saw rainbows where the sunlight reflected off the body of our plane, and in the airport I took the time to show Liza how she could see into the cockpit of a plane pulled up to the gate ... the pilot waved to us as they pushed back from the terminal. None of this would have happened if I had been trying to finish another crocheted animal or cross stitched advent calendar marker.

Would I be happier if I slowed down to experience all the beauty and joy that I'm undoubtedly ignoring in order to get more things done faster? Or would I find out that I've been mostly overlooking negative things (like the level of grunge on the floor in my shower) and end up being both grumpy and unproductive?

I have no idea, but I'm going to try to find out. I've got a busy week planned, culminating in a party for my play group buddies on Saturday. By then I have to have the house cleaned and decorated, food made, etc. Add to that my ambitions to get a little writing done, and all the laundry and grocery shopping I have to do since we were on vacation, and this week's going to be a bear.

But after 3 or 4 pm on Saturday, I'm done. No more decorating, precious little shopping or wrapping or cooking unless I really feel like it. I'm going to take my daughter to see a Christmas tree farm, and we're going to see how much colored sugar we can spread around on the floor of the kitchen while decorating sugar cookies. I'm going to put her in her fancy dress and get her photo taken with Santa ... and if she screams her way through it, I won't treat it as a tragedy. I'm going to let Liza have her way unless she wants to do something dangerous or downright stupid, and I'll do it with a smile on my face if it kills me. And I'll have my eyes open, looking for sparkling veils on the weeds, rainbows in the sky, and people to waving to my daughter.

Yet another good kid video - only this time, not my kid!

Video of a baby laughing hysterically. I mean, total guffaws and belly laughs out of a kid who's less than a year old. Possibly edited together, the laughing sounds so fake, but who cares - it's still cute.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Snot Wars, Episode II - Revenge of the Snot

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope all of your turkey was moist, your weather was dry, and your gatherings well-lubricated. And that there's less snot in your family than there is in mine.

Well, Liza is mostly cured, with two days left to go on the course of antibiotics she started last week. I think tomorrow I'll take the pillow out from under the head of her mattress so she stops slipping downhill in her sleep.

I have to admit that while the zinc and Zicam routine didn't stop the cold in its tracks the way I had hoped, it did probably reduce the severity of the symptoms, and almost definitely reduced the duration of suffering. I'm still having occasional coughing fits, but otherwise feel fine. There were a couple of crappy days there in the middle, but this cold has been much more manageable than any of my other recent illnesses.

Jason was diagnosed on Monday with bronchitis, given a Z-pack of antibiotics and a nasty-tasting OTC cough suppressant/expectorant/kill all the other cold symptoms solution. The Z-pack ran out last night, the OTC cold medicine ran out today, and Jason isn't better. His doctor told him to come back on Monday if he wasn't feeling better by the time we got home, and he'd run some chest x-rays to make sure that Jason doesn't have pneumonia. Personally, with how wiped out Jason has been this week, and how nasty his cough sounds, I'm going to do everything short of dragging him bodily to the emergency room to get him in to see somebody tomorrow, even though we're out of our normal provider network right now. Pneumonia isn't something you let linger any longer than necessary, lest it send you to the ICU for a week (see Ellen's recent posts of her experience on blog).

Jason is balking about going to get x-rays here, although he has agreed to call his doctor tomorrow to at least schedule an appointment for Monday. I'm off to look for the doctor's phone number online ...

Disturbing thing I heard today

"Come on, honey, let Pop-Pop's horsey nibble the corn off your cob."

Apparently this involves some sort of leg tickling game, but it just sounds WRONG.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mama, this white stuff wasn't here yesterday

I don't know which is cuter, the hat, the coat, or the kid. Tie, I guess?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I have been sick during every vacation and family trip for the last, oh, three or four years. Colds, headaches that won't go away, pregnancy malaise - you name it, it's felled me at least once in recent memory. I have a feeling that Liza's grandparents think I'm faking in order to get a break from childcare, but hopefully the mucous helped convince them otherwise.

Thursday I started to feel a tickle in my throat at bedtime, the tickle that means I have stuff dripping down the back of my throat, and it's only a matter of time before I have to wear the box of tissues in a side holster and sleep propped up at a 45-degree angle. It is, of course, only a few days before we fly to Jason's family's house for Thanksgiving. Yet another vacation where I'm doomed to snot and foul moods.

But this time I have decided to fight back. Fueled by comments posted on one of the blogs I read regularly ( - yay! Ellen is posting again!), I have decided to throw every possible potential fix at this cold, in hopes of warding it off, or at least reducing its severity so I don't sit around in a foul-tempered coma for most of my trip.

Friday I started my mother's patented "gargle hot salt water and spray your throat with Chloraseptic a few times a day" routine.

Saturday I went out and got some Cold-Eeze lozenges and some of the Zicam nasal swabs, and I've been using those in combination with my mother's routine all day yesterday and today. I've been sucking down herbal tea with lemon, and keeping the humidifiers cranked up, and trying to get some rest (except last night when I stayed up late to finish the sweater). I've been irrigating my nose in the shower (don't ask), and washing my hands like I've got OCD. Today I even split a can of Double Noodle Chicken Soup with Liza, that's how desperate I am.

Sunday - Throat's still scratchy, stuff is still dripping and draining and making it hard to sleep. Zinc lozenges don't taste particularly bad, but they take FOREVER to dissolve, and you're not supposed to chew them, so just about the time I finish one it's time to start on the next one. The Zicam swabs aren't too bad - much less nasty than when I used to get impentigo as a kid and had to have gooey antibiotic smeared inside my nose. I have no idea what they're supposed to be doing, but at least I feel like I'm doing something official and medicinal.

I'll keep you updated on whether I manage to kick this sucker before we leave for the holidays. Unlikely, but even if I manage to keep it to low-grade sickness for the length of my trip, I'll be happy.

UPDATE: Sunday night sucked, with the draining and the coughing and the stuffyness and the sleeplessness. I think all these remedies are full of shit. Monday morning and I feel marginally better, although still with the sore throat and drippy everything. Still doing the Zicam and zinc, still gargling and Chlorasepticing when I remember to, still relatively miserable. I broke down and got some Benadryl Allergy Sinus, which so far hasn't done squat to help with any of my symptoms. I remember the good old days, when I'd take a Dayquil and could actually feel my cold symptoms get better within half an hour or so. But now one Dayquil keeps me wired for half a week, as does anything that actually helps dry up my nose. Stupid drug sensitivities. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got another bowl of chicken soup with my name on it.


Meanwhile, Jason has the hellacious cough that even the "I think this might be a controlled substance" prescription cough suppressant can't shut up, and Liza's taking antibiotics to try to fend off whatever's been making her snotty for four weeks and has given her the beginnings of a sinus infection and an ear infection. I hope my in-laws' immune systems are ready for us, because we're dragging an entire laboratory full of nasties home with us.

New photo of me and my latest project

I started this sweater on Thursday. Of this week. Crochet Rocks! The pattern sizing, however, leaves a little to be desired. I could have used about an extra 2" vertically in the torso, and a little lower neckline, and maybe 2" extra all the way around so that I don't feel like people across the room can see my pulse through my sweater. Fitted? Yes. Flattering? Maybe in a "Christina Aguillera before she went and recorded a bunch of standards" way. I'll let you know if I ever get brave enough to wear this in public.
Still, it's more attractive than the only other sweater I have made for myself. I crocheted The Sack when we lived in Cleveland ... if you ever stumble on it at our local Goodwill store, you'll be able to recognize it as the one where the sleeves were 4" too long, Jason could have fit in it with me, the collar was barely big enough to squeeze my noggin through, and it was ugly brown/black boucle yarn. The only upside to that sweater was that wearing it was like sitting in a sweatlodge, which came in handy when gaming at our former neighbors' chilly house. I won't be using this new sweater for that purpose, although I'm sure my former neighbor would like it if I made one for his wife :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Must not buy anything more to decorate Liza's room

.... but these are so cute! Alphabet cards that feature hardware and tools ... who'd a thunk it? Lizzy Rockwell, apparently. If you like them, you can find them online at:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Miracles R Us

Sunday night Liza woke up screaming in the middle of the night because not only was she entering week 4 of her cold ("Hello, I'm the Ambassador from the Land of Snot and Phlegm, pleased to meet you. You might not want to shake my hand.") and choking to death on her own phlegm, but her teeth were hurting and apparently invisible demons were sticking her with pins and the babies were starving in Africa ... that sort of screaming. After liberal doses of pretty much every OTC drug I could find in our bathroom without turning on the light (hmmm, could be Benadryl, could be vaginal suppositories ... what the heck!), I finally managed to get her to drift off into sorta-sleep. She was still startling awake every five minutes, looking around wildly, then falling asleep again, but at least she was quiet. After a while the startling stopped, and I looked down, and not only was she dreaming, she was talking in her sleep. Whole freakin' sentences, with inflections, and appropriate gestures. She's not any more coherent when she's asleep than when she's awake, but it's nice to know that she's got the patter down well enough to handle it while semi-conscious.

And today, after dragging my daughter in her Benadryl-induced coma to the library for story time, we got some food and attempted to eat lunch. As usual when she's teething, she wouldn't eat, although she did manage to choke down a few bites of an oatmeal raisin cookies in between attempting to burrow into the wooden tabletop. And as I'm sitting there watching her attempt to pass out in a vertical position, not only does the Benadryl haze lift (which it was scheduled to do about that time, according to the dosage instructions), but I swear to god, she healed herself. It was like one of those Claritin commercials where the fog lifts and you can see everything clearly ... this huge sheet of snot and phlegm and coughing and whining and throwing things and not sleeping and being generally miserable and evil just ... went away. Five minutes later, as we were changing her diaper and reading stories prior to naptime, she was as perky and non-sniffly and non-whiny as if the past three days hadn't happened. She went down for a nap with no problem (and no drugs), woke up two hours later as happy as a clam, and even ate a snack, for god's sake. I took her to run errands ... in the afternoon ... before dinner ... which is normally about as much fun as oral surgery. She was an angel, getting in and out of the car on command, not whining, and even walking nicely in the parking lot, holding my hand and not rolling around in the huge puddles.

If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. Somewhere out there a nun has missed out on her chance at sainthood, because my daughter snagged the miracle first. You go, girl!

Product recommendation

Liza is the last child on a couple of hand-me-down lists, and consequently she has more toys than most preschools possess. We recently got a package in the mail that included the Playskool Air-tivity Ball Popper, and let me tell you, it's a hit. Not only does it involve balls (or BAHHHHHHHHHHH! as Liza likes to say while jumping up and down excitedly) and have goofy music, but more importantly for parent sanity, there's an on/off switch. As far as I'm concerned, there's a special place in Hell for people who invent, manufacture, market, or buy battery-powered children's toys that don't have off switches.

Anyway, basically you put the balls in, they go around a track, and a stream of air pops them out the top, where they do the whole thing all over again. In reality, most of the time the balls bounce badly when they come out the top, necessitating chasing them all over the room and occasionally using a yardstick to fish them out from behind appliances (Liza thinks that's the best part). Left to her own devices, Liza would happily sit there and play with this thing until either she starved herself to death, or she ran out of balls because they were all stuck behind the oven. We have to use a timer and put it away where she can't see it after 10 minutes or so, she likes it that much.

If you've got an infant or toddler in the family, you should stick one of these on your shopping list. Better include the yardstick, too.

Monday, November 13, 2006

But mom, it's dark out here!

It's 70 degrees in November, dammit - you'll take a walk if I tell you to take a walk!

Sunset on our street

Proof that I have the best friend, ever

For the record, being the best friend ever requires sending me a birthday package that contains:
  • Apricot Ginger chutney
  • Poppycock Just the Nuts
  • Trader Joe's Bits o' Brownies
  • Trader Joe's chocolate covered pretzels (milk and dark)
  • Mexican vanilla that's so authentic it's misspelled as "vainilla"
  • Homemade crabapple jelly is optional

This is the kind of mother I want to be

Not the kind with three kids, the kind who lets her kid sit in the middle of a huge puddle and doesn't worry about ruining clothes or catching a cold. Laid back, I guess. I'm trying, Liza - really I am. As long as you don't try this in one of your Hannas, you'll be fine.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Talk to the hand ... er, mitten

New video up on YouTube - Liza is entranced with her new mittens, and her ability to take them off, and she wants to tell the world all about it. Check it out:

Oh, and in case you don't have time to watch the video, here's a still:

Yes, I'm aware that the mittens are both too small and thumbless. That's what I get for trying a free pattern from the Internet. Stupid Internet.

Signs ...

... That the soup, delicious as it was, probably could have used a little more stock:

... That two years is probably too long to wait to change the water filter in our refridgerator (this is what came out of the old filter when I changed it today):

... That Zach, ancient as he is (Happy belated 9th birthday, buddy!) is still as limber as a kitten:

... That Sybil will never read my blog again:

... That Liza has a future in Argentinian tango dancing, as soon as they replace the roses with cat toys:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Open Letter to Air Wick

Sent to the company this afternoon via their web site:

Yesterday I purchased an Evergreen Essence Decosphere. Within an hour of opening the package, the Evergreen Essence smell had pretty much permeated my whole house, so congratulations on making the decosphere so effective.

I'd be really pleased with how quickly the scent spread, if it smelled ANYTHING AT ALL LIKE AN EVERGREEN TREE. Given the marketing and packaging of this product, I was hoping for something that would smell at least sort of like a Christmas tree. Instead, my entire house now smells like an airplane bathroom, and I do not mean that in a positive way. When my husband returned from work yesterday, he wanted to know why our house smelled like a urinal cake. This is NOT the effect I was hoping for when I spent $4 on the decosphere.

I am not sure how you decided that this scent was a) similar to an evergreen tree, or b) appropriate for holiday use, but you've got it wrong on both counts.

The Decosphere is now sealed in two plastic bags, and it is still stinking up my desk area. It's hitting the trash as soon as I send this message, and I pity the poor trash guys who have to deal with it next week.

I know it's too late for this season, but please, please, please - for next year, think about renaming this scent, or at least not marketing it in a way that makes it seem like you're getting something Christmas-y. Because I for one was extremely disappointed with this product, and I'm guessing there are many other people who feel the same way.

So be forewarned - that little green glass ball is evil. Evil, evil, evil. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a urinal-cake-scented-birthday to celebrate. Humph.

Update - the customer service people at Airwick responded the following day, and supposedly they're sending me a coupon that will give me any of their products for free. Wonder if they've got anything that doesn't smell like a public restroom?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finally, she eats

Well, we've finally found a vegetable Liza likes almost as much as still-frozen peas. The only problem is, that vegetable is green onions.

Picture this - I'm fixing dinner, and I've got a pile of chopped scallions on the cutting board. Liza can see them from her vantage point on the floor, and starts saying "Pea! Pea! Peeeeeea!" Since this is pretty much the only word she says that doesn't sound like "Bahhhh!" we know immediately that she has mistaken the stuff on the cutting board for peas. Several minutes of "No, that isn't a pea," later, I break down and use the tried-and-true strategy "Fine, if you're so sure they're peas, why don't you just eat one and be disgusted."

So I hand her one of the small pieces of the green stem, and she wolfs it down like it was, well, a frozen pea. And then she attempts to grab all of the rest of the scallions from the counter. We fed her half a dozen more pieces before giving in and letter her stuff fistfuls of them into her mouth. She ate so many that I had to get a few extra onions out of the fridge to have enough for my recipe ... and when I cut off a 4" long piece of onion greens and handed it to her, Liza ate the whole thing. Twice.

J - "Gahhh! Don't give her that much! We don't know what it will do to her when it comes out the other end!"
G - "How exactly are we going to tell if it has dire diaper consequences? She's already got a raging case of Baboon Butt ** from the whole teething thing."
J - "Oh, right. Nevermind."

I'm starting to think that onions and chili are all the kid can taste, thanks to the raging runny nose and irritating cough she's had for, oh, TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT. But hey, at least we've found something she'll eat. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to google recipes that call for as many scallions as I can cram into one dish. Oooh, maybe she'll like leeks, too ...

** This link takes you to a graphic but not too disgusting photo of a moderate case of yeasty diaper rash. It's pretty close to what Liza's got right now, and yes, we're treating it. I was going to post the nastiest photo I could find, but I didn't want to get sued by people wanting to get reimbursed for the charges to clean vomit out of their keyboards. Nasty, nasty, nasty - google it and see for yourself. How anyone could let their kid's genitals get that messed up is beyond my comprehension.

Mercury transit

In honor of my birthday, the planet Mercury will be passing in front of the sun tomorrow, and its transit will be visible from the US. Of course, Mercury is only 1/194th the size of the sun, and you'll burn your eyes out before you manage to see it without special gear, so it's a bit of a non-event as far as being able to go outside and take a gander at the spectacle. There are, however, plenty of websites that will offer near-real-time webcasts of the event. Here's a link to one:

Some of the transit facts from the NYTimes article:
Mercury's five-hour trek starts at 2:12 p.m. EST. People in Western time zones of the United States should be able to see the entire trip.
The last ''transit of Mercury,'' as it's called, was in 2003. These events occur about 13 times a century, with the next one happening in 2016, according to
That's more frequent than the transit of Venus, which happens in pairs, roughly twice in each century. (The next one is 2012).
Because of the timing of this year's transit of Mercury, it will be visible in North and South America, Australia and Asia, but not in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, where it will be nighttime.

Monday, November 06, 2006

19th post of the day

Just a quick note to say that I'm trying something new and spinning off all of my craft talk to a separate blog, Lazy Mama Speaks. Yeah, I know - what craft talk? That's just it - it's not getting done, so maybe a new location will help spur me to write about it more. I'm hoping to use the new blog to keep folks abreast of new projects I'm working on, etc. It's going to be a little more professional than Mind Flush, and there won't be hardly any kid photos in it at all. But if you're interested in my business, check out the new blog at .

Mind Flush will continue to offer the same mix of way too many kid pictures, uninteresting commentary about my town, and, in the near future, a list of 147 reasons why my parents have too much stuff.

Way too funny

Check out this site for one of the funniest wedding songs I've ever heard. Kylie-Ann, this one's for you!


Looking outside my front window just now I noticed one of the reasons I don't mind paying my property taxes in this town - we have ridiculously good trash service. Not only can we leave pretty much anything ... appliances, yard waste, probably even dead bodies if they were properly labeled ... out for the trash, but they come around every week during the fall to get rid of the leaves. It's taking a crew of five city workers to vacuum up the huge pile of leaves I dumped on the sidewalk this weekend. I really need one of those vacuums - they just took care of a pile of leaves about 40 feet long and between knee- and waist-deep, in about a minute. Just think how much fun that would be to play with in my backyard! Of course, an occasional squirrel might get sacrificed to the Great Gods of Leaf Sucking, but that's a small price to pay for a spotless yard, right?

Oh, and here's my favorite of the shots from Longwood Gardens last week. This variety of chrysanthemum was so white it was almost blue ... except for these two, which apparently didn't get the memo instructing them how to dress this year.

I just love this shot, and I have just set it as the wallpaper on my computer. It's the first time in about a year that Liza hasn't held the place of honor on my desktop. Step aside, sweetie - mama's feeling artsy!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, that isn't a honeybee on the flower. According to the signs in the conservatory, it's some sort of non-stinging wasp that happens to pollinate flowers just as well as bees, only without the pesky risk of anaphilactic shock. Who'd a thunk it?

Plug for an artist on etsy

I recently bought a whole boatload of original art from emi, an artist I found on She does small (5"x5") cartoon-y pictures, mostly ink and watercolor. It's a ridiculously good bargain at $4 a pop for original art. And I found some inexpensive 5x5 frames that should be perfect, so everyone's getting framed, original art for Christmas!

If you're looking for small art, or for small gifts, check out her site on etsy:

And if you're a nosey parker and want to know what I bought, you can find it partway down this page, everything from the green-eyed cat to the killer whale. I've contacted her about doing a commission for me of a couple of vehicles for some little boys I know, and I'm currently trying very hard not to buy this to go with some of the stuff I already bought someone for Christmas.

Love, love, love her stuff. Must ... not ... keep ... all ... 10 ... paintings ... for ... myself ...

Here we go again

The summer after we moved into this house, our neighbors across the street began the process of finishing their basement and putting an addition on their house. Because their basement had some water issues (unlike mine, which should be labeled on local maps as a flood plain), they did the all-out waterproofing job on it ... excavating a trench around the house, putting in new drainage around the walls, coating the outside of the walls with waterproof stuff, etc. I'd say the waterproofing alone probably set them back 20 or 30 thousand dollars.

Because of weather delays, a project that kept hitting snags and unexpected problems (such as, hooking their drainage up to an existing line made sewage back up into their next door neighbors' bathtubs. Oops.), a project that just kept getting bigger (ooh, let's add a two car garage while we've got everything torn up!), and various contractor issues, their remodeling went on for TWO YEARS.

Two years of them having a 10-foot-deep hole somewhere in their yard. Months of having an 8-foot-high pile of gravel in their front yard. Two years of me having to drive around excavators, dump trucks, flatbed trucks, slate delivery trucks, etc. to get out of my driveway. Two years of their three kids tracking every bit of dirt in the world into their house, necessitating several months of floor refinishing once the project was done. Not that it bothered US - every morning I'd guess which equipment would be parked in front of their house. We should have started a neighborhood pool to predict when they would be done, but I don't think any of us would have guessed it would go on that long.

Anyway, when I went to drop Liza off at preschool this morning, there was a backhoe parked in front of another neighbor's house. Backhoes never mean good things, at least in this neighborhood. Either they're next on the list of "houses that really need to have their sewer lines replaced," or they're starting some fairly large construction/demolition project. It will be interesting to see which it turns out to be. Now where's the pool sheet I drew up? I've got my eye on a completion date of summer 2007, whatever the project is.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Longwood Gardens

With Jason out of town AGAIN, Liza and I flew out to visit my parents for the week. We'll be heading home tomorrow, but I thought I'd go ahead and post the link to our photos from our trip on Tuesday to Longwood Gardens. Liza wasn't so interested in the Chrysanthemum Festival, except the parts that had gravel. Loved the gravel. And in case that link doesn't work, here are a couple of my favorites:
Liza enjoys her grandparents' attention

One of the statues in the conservatory, designed to look like an origami crane.

One of the coming attractions in the Children's Garden, which is being renovated. Who could resist coming back in a few months to visit the spitting animal sculptures?

Halloween was a complete washout, with much screaming, crying, not sleeping until the wee hours of the morning, snot running down faces, etc. More on that when I get home to a computer that doesn't do funny things if I try to type in the non-HTML mode. If I see another carat, I'm going to scream.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More lessons I've learned from my houses

  1. When buying a house, it's all about location, location, location. Try to avoid buying the house that's in the lowest spot on the street, because in the fall you'll end up with everyone else's leaves, in the spring you'll end up with everyone else's rainstorm runoff, and you'll end up with everyone else's litter year-round.
  2. Pessimist's corollary: Don't buy the highest house on the street, either, lest it be struck by lightning and you find out that your homeowners' insurance doesn't cover acts of god.
  3. Just because the previous owners installed replacement windows doesn't mean they bothered to caulk around them. After two years of feeling a persistent draft on my neck when sitting on the couch, I finally bought a couple tubes of sealer yesterday and took care of all of the uncaulked windows. Took maybe 45 minutes, and I swear the house is warmer already.
  4. When caulking windows, doors, or anything in the bathroom, about 75% of the caulk ends up getting scraped off when you smooth down the bead. This is unfortunate, but normal.
  5. Most of the quick and easy repairs recommended to improve the insulation in your house are neither quick nor cheap. The caulk wasn't terribly expensive, but I went through six packs of those little foam things that are supposed to keep drafts from coming through the light switches and electrical outlets, and I haven't even finished the first floor yet. And the estimated cost savings per year if I do the entire house is about $15 ... we'd better be here for another few years if we want to get our money back on the foam.
  6. If you insulate your home up to the current suggested R-values for your area of the country, you can deduct part of the expense from your federal taxes. But only if you install the stuff in 2006 or 2007, so check for more information. There's also a tax rebate for installing more efficient heating and cooling systems, and links to some of the state tax incentives for energy conservation.
  7. Am I the only one who finds it funny that the electric company sponsors a program that is designed to help consumers use less of its product? That's like tobacco companies running smoking cessation programs, or Weight Watchers selling food. Oh, never mind.
  8. Good teething toy for toddlers? Phillips head screwdriver.
  9. Jason needs to be careful what he says, even in offhand remarks. Yesterday there was an article in the newspaper about "reseasoning" your house - that is, reorganizing furniture and using different accessories when the seasons change. "So, when are you going to reseaon our house?" "Well, there aren't many ways we can reorganize the furniture in most of the rooms, so probably 'never.'" Then he goes and takes a 3-hour nap, during which time I manage to move my entire office out of the (unheated) porch room where it normal resides, and put it in the (heated) dining room. And I think I've worked out a way to reorganize the family room so that the couch is away from the drafty windows and over the heating vent instead. Dude, next weekend will be one horror show of moving dusty furniture, unplugging and replugging electronic equipment, and then me deciding I liked it better the original way. Sounds like fun to me!
  10. Preferred order of doing the fall clean-up tasks: a)trim the bushes, b) blow the leaves and bush trimmings out of the flowerbeds, c) mow the grass, d) weed the flowerbeds, e) put all the terracotta pots and weather-sensitive yard stuff away, f) put the hose away. It hardly ever gets done in the right order, so usually I end up blowing out all the leaves from the flower beds, then deciding to trim the bushes, so I have to rake out all the clippings again. Add to that the fact that all of the various trees surrounding our property drop their leaves at different times over the course of two months or more, and you've got a homeowner who has a leafblower in her hands most of the fall.
  11. Leafblowers are not quite as easy to use as they look. First you have to remember to try to blow everything with the direction of the wind, because otherwise it comes flying back almost as fast as it left. Then you have to take into account that it's easiest to blow leaves downhill, but most of the time the leaf collection point is somewhere uphill from where most of the leaves are. In the end, I don't think leafblowers are much faster than raking, but they sure are easier on your back.
  12. If you let it dry out for a few days first, dog poop will go airborne when confronted with a leafblower on "high." That's one of the many reasons it pays to stay upwind of the leaves you're trying to blow.

Unsolicited product plug

When Jason and I first moved to Cleveland, we had the good fortune to move into an apartment complex across the street from a homemade frozen custard store. Only open during baseball season (and a few weekends up through Halloween), Weber's had some of the best soft-serve ice cream ... er, custard on the planet. The chocolate and other normal flavors were great, but the standout was the pumpkin custard. Available only in the fall, and only in limited batches, it was like sucking down a heaping helping of frozen pumpkin pie filling. And I mean that in the best way. If you're anywhere near Fairview Park, I highly recommend a side trip to Weber's to check it out. It did, after all, win the best frozen custard award from Cleveland Scene magazine this year.§ion=19125&year=2006

If you have the misfortune of being nowhere near Fairview Park, you do have another option. Dreyer's, the makers of Edy's ice cream, has a pumpkin flavor that's pretty good. Not the same ultra-rich mouth feel as Weber's frozen custard, but the flavor is crisp and clean and pumpkiny, and it's a heck of a lot easier than driving to Cleveland. You can check on their web site to see if it's available in your area:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The debut of Biker Baby

Complete with rasta skullcap and dreadlocks, mean jeans jacket (just ignore the cute flowers embroidered on it), authentic Daytona Biketoberfest Harley t-shirt (thanks, Sybil!), pleather pants, and jingly boots. Given the amount of kicking and screaming that accompanied getting her dressed to go out to our town's Halloween Hoedown, this may be the only time you're ever going to see her in the complete outfit. Oh, the screaming when the pleather pants were put on. She wouldn't even stand up once they were on ... just sort of writhed around on the floor like a fish out of water. If only we'd had the video camera close by ...

I think on Tuesday I'm going to try putting her in tights or a pair of pajama bottoms underneath the pleather, so it doesn't feel quite so weird to her. I've got two and a half days to teach her how to say something that sounds vaguely like "Trick or Treat," or at least "please." Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October orchard jaunt

This is the second year we've dragged our daughter to the far side of Lexington to take her picture with pumpkins. Why do we do this, when there's a pumpkin patch 4 miles from our house? Because the orchard we go to has a whole little amusement area for the kids, including two slides you ride down on burlap bags, a very nice petting zoo, swings, hay rides, a snack bar that features cider slushies, etc. Since Liza is so young, the only thing we had to pay for was our lunch, the pumpkin we bought, and entrance for one adult to go to the petting zoo with her. And the petting zoo was totally worth the $3 or whatever it cost, because the animals were really vocal. Liza got to hear the noise a camel makes (don't ask me to write it out ... go rent The Story of the Weeping Camel and hear it for yourself ... excellent movie, by the way) and got to hear the donkey braying. The goats were maaaahhhh-ing, and I'm sure the kangaroo would have been making its own noise if they made noise, which I don't think they do. Anyway, she was suitably impressed.

Anyhoo, we took lots of pictures, way too many to post here. They're available online at Snapfish, but you have to access them through this link because the album is private:

I've been trying to post a picture from last year's trip to Boyd's, but blogger is being recalcitrant again. I'll try one more time, and then you'll just have to imagine the cuteness that was my 6-month-old daughter propped up against a pumpkin. Ha! Success at last!

(I really wasn't kidding about my hair loss)

What it's like

A New Orleans newspaper columnist describes his battle with depression, a disease he was reluctant to even admit existed. I wasn't quite as bad as he let himself get, but it was close.

Here she is with Bob the Blanket, so named because Liza pronounces "blanket" as "bahhhhh". Come to think of it, she pronounces most things as "bahhhhh." It's like living on a sheep farm around here some days.

Today at the library she kept saying "bahhhhh" and pointing to the door to the room where babytime was being held. "You already have your blanket," I said, since she was clutching Bob in the hand that wasn't pointing. Sometimes she forgets, you know, and when you point out that she already has what she's asking for, she acts like it just magically appeared there or something. Anyway, she kept saying the same thing, and so I looked around for other things that she says the same way. "Do you want the ball, sweetie?" Swat ... "Bahhhhhh!" "I'm sorry, but I don't know what you want."

Finally, after half a dozen rounds of "guess which thing she's trying to ask for," it dawns on me that when we were walking in, I told her we would go see our friends at babytime, then we would go see the parakeets over by the copy machine. "Do you want to see the birds?" "Bahh! Bahh! Bah!!" No change in pronunciation, but she's jumping up and down, trying to reach the door handle. I grabbed our stuff and opened the door for her, and she took off at full speed, stomping everything in her path with her jingly biker boots, making a beeline directly for the parakeets. Mom's Translation Service - we may not be fast, but we get it right eventually.

And, lest you think that my daughter has a speech impediment as well as a host of physical delays, let me just tell you that the other day my daughter said "river" after only hearing it twice. And she said it with the "ver," not some toddler-ized version of it. So the kid can talk when she wants to ... I think she's just too lazy to get out more than Bahhhhh except in special circumstances.

If you could take a biological culture from Bob, you'd find he has a germ population at least has high as the human population in the US, possibly higher, thanks to the cold Liza's currently sniffling and hacking her way through. Her nose has been running like a faucet, and since kleenex are apparently evil, it's easier to just let her wipe her nose on Bob. We do, after all, have four of them, and so far she doesn't seem to notice when I swap the stanky one for a clean one, even when I do it in plain sight. There's also enough yogurt and chocolate on today's Bob to sustain Liza for at least a day or two if there's some sort of food shortage, and I'm fairly sure I could knit a nice hat out of the cat hair it's picked up since I last swapped blankies after preschool on Monday. At least it hasn't made a trip through the maple syrup (yet).

On a side note, every time I see Liza toting around her little half-sized blanket, which is about the size of a hand towel, I get all misty-eyed thinking about Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and towels in general. Jason and I were supposed to be going to see the opening night of the (relatively crappy) new movie version of Hitchhiker's on the day when I was induced and had Liza, so we didn't get to see it until it came out on dvd like 6 months later. If you aren't familiar with Hitchhiker's lore and the exalted place held by the towel, here's an excerpt from the book, as related on, which explains some of it:

To quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

One of the characters in the book actually has one corner of his towel soaked in a nutrient solution as emergency rations, which is why I always think of it when Liza is smearing barbecue sauce all over it. For, you see, the character also had a spot of barbecue sauce on his towel, to get rid of the taste of the nutrient solution. Ah, Douglas Adams, how I miss you. I'm adding Towel Day to my calendar as we speak.

Ahem. Getting back to real life. The cold doesn't seem to slow Liza down much during the day, but it's been a pain in the butt to get her to bed the last two nights. I've had to rock her to sleep both nights, restraining her to keep her from emptying the bookshelf next to the chair for the fifth time each night; and to keep her hands out of my mouth, nose, ears, eyes, hair; and to keep her from hitting me; and tonight I got to threaten to just leave her there if she bit me one more time. I know she's sick, and I know she's teething, but this just isn't cool. I mean, I've got the same cold she does, and nobody rocks me to sleep when I've got postnasal drip so bad I have to sleep propped up at a 45 degree angle in bed.

And whatever happened to postnasal drip as a symptom? When I was a kid, I distinctly remember one of the types of Triaminic that I used to take listed postnasal drip as one of the symptoms it treated. Now all I see is "cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation." Yeah, that's one way to describe it. Another way is "there's crap dripping down the back of my throat and making me wake up gagging and gasping for air." See, I'd know which medicine to take if that was listed as one of the symptoms. Annnddd ... thanks to the wonders of google, here's more than you ever really wanted to know about postnasal drip.

On a more pleasant subject, how cute is my daughter?

Oh, so very cute. When she's not trying to eat holly berries (yeah, I know they're poisonous), or bite me, or shove her entire hand up one of my nostrils. Some days, cute is the only thing that saves her. That, and the fact that if she's gone, who will I dress up in the biker boots and monkey butt pants?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

These boots are made for ...


Remember how I had to return part of Liza's Halloween costume because she refused to let the boots anywhere near her body? Sometimes things work out for the best, because yesterday I found the most perfect pair of biker boots, in her size, and she loves them. They were in a store I almost never visit, in a part of the store I wouldn't have even passed if there hadn't been major obstructions in the aisles between the baby section and the cash registers. We were walking past and, as a joke, I picked up the display of these boots and handed it to Liza, asking her if she wanted to try them on. Knowing her previous reactions to boots (aka "instruments of the devil"), I expected them to come flying back at me. Instead, she tried to pull off her Robeez, and when that didn't work, she tried to shove the boots on over top of her shoes. And when I found a pair for her and tried them on, she took off across the store at breakneck speed, stomping and jingling as she went. Here she is this afternoon, checking to see if they still jingle:

(yes, that is the Hannah Andersson Jungle Journey fleece jacket and monkey-butt pants I've been trying to win on eBay for the last two months ... I finally managed to find an auction that didn't go for an outrageous amount)

Other, less butch boots were rejected (aka heaved back in my face at full velocity), including a really cute pair of hot pink cowboy boots from Carters. I think she likes the original pair because a) they've got a soft shaft, so they're more like shoes with long socks attached, and b) these boots have bling!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the best part. The shoes she hated? $45. The shoes she loves and wore all day today? $17. Cha-ching!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Apocalypse Now

One of the benefits of a membership with Netflix is that I am finally catching up on some of the movies that I'm "supposed" to see ... you know, the ones that everybody seems to think are the best on the planet. Since a lot of movies in that category came out before I really cared about movies that didn't involve Mel Gibson, I've got a lot of catching up to do. And since these classics are always available, we can slot them in whenever we feel like taking a break from Lost or The Sopranos (or Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which I have to say was much funnier when I used to watch it in college).

Tonight I finally watched Apocalypse Now, and I've got to say, it's a good thing the Wellbutrin is at full strength and I had a craft project to do. Good god, is there a more depressing and slow-moving movie on the planet? Sure, the fact that Martin Sheen in the movie looks scarily like Charlie Sheen does now kept me amused for a while, and my mind boggled for at least 10 minutes over how absolutely green the future Han Solo looked in his role. I killed a few minutes trying to estimate how many gallons of fake sweat the actors went through during filming, and trying to figure out what was shot in Asia vs. faked in the US. Good thing I sat through the credits at the end, too, because otherwise I never would have recognized Larry - now Laurence - Fishburne as Clean. And who knew that Dennis Hopper wrote one of the songs in the soundtrack?

Yes, some of the scenes were very cinematic and beautifully shot, and the overall effect of the movie was probably what the director was going for - amazement at the pointlessness and brutality of the war and the things people did as part of it. But dude, I wasted 2 1/2 hours of baby sleep time on that? Crap. Not as bad as Mulholland Drive, but it's right up there.

Oh, and speaking of Dennis Hopper, does he ever have roles where he isn't some spaced out nutjob? No, I didn't think so.

Not that anyone at Netflix probably pays attention, but if anyone bothered to look, they'd get a chuckle over our queue. Returning Apocalypse Now, shipping Mary Poppins. Hee.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What really goes on when I sleep in on Sunday mornings

On weekends Jason is usually the one to get up when Liza wakes up, since I'm able to sleep in and he never can get back to sleep. In reality, I don't usually go back to sleep, but just lay in bed, revelling in my uselessness. It's heaven. Meanwhile, Jason fixes breakfast for himself and Liza, checks on his fantasy football stuff, etc.

And, apparently he boogies down and films it. I've cut out the worst of my husband's singing along and dancing, so you can focus on the absurd cuteness of my daughter. Without further ado, I present: Superfan!

Mental health update

Warning: this is a serious post. If you just come to this site for cute baby pictures, scroll down to the posts I put up a few minutes ago.

Are the new readers gone yet? Good.

As many of you know, after Liza was born I suffered from a relatively bad case of post-partum depression. I didn't have to check myself into a mental hospital, but it probably would have ended up that way if I hadn't gotten help when I did. Remember all those jokes I used to make about me scouting out locations to abandon Liza, like near the dumpsters at Kroger? Not so much jokes as rationalizations that if I told people about it, I couldn't actually do it, because then everyone would know that I had done it and my mother-in-law would hunt me down and kill me, she loved the kid that much.

I used to imagine I heard Liza crying, even when the baby monitor clearly showed that her room was completely quiet. I would be so convinced that she was crying, I would get out of bed, turn the monitor off and turn it back on again, just to be sure it was working. And I would hear her screaming when I was in the shower, and I'd turn off the water and grab a towel, only to realize that I was imagining the screaming and she was sleeping peacefully. Eventually it got to the point where I would just ignore the screaming when I was showering, whether the screaming was real or imaginary.

But I DID get help, and I started taking Zoloft, one of the few anti-depressants you can take while nursing. I wouldn't say that Zoloft was a cure-all, but it helped, and Liza got to be less colicky and I got to be better able to predict her schedule, and I never did have to put the dumpster plan into use. It was still rough, particularly around the 6-month mark when I was having thyroid issues and was absolutely exhausted all the time and all my hair was falling out. Did I ever tell you how for like 4 months every time I took a shower, I would lose so much hair that I would end up pulling a wad of hair the size of a small mouse out of my butt crack, where it had gotten wedged on its way from my head toward the drain? That was in addition to the mouse of hair that made it to the drain on the first try ... every time I took a shower. I had to keep a Swiffer in the bathroom and sweep every day or two, just to prevent the tumbleweeds of my own hair from overwhelming us, and I think we went through like three bottles of Professional Strenth Drano. Not fun.

The standard length of treatment for post-partum depression is to continue the medication for at least a year after the patient has stabilized, which for me ended earlier this summer. I talked with my doctor about what we'd do then, since I wasn't that thrilled with some of the side effects of the Zoloft, especially compared to the Wellbutrin I had taken for depression before we decided to have a baby. For example, the Zoloft didn't really help me get to sleep, but it did leave me yawning uncontrollably for most of the day anytime I didn't get the exact right amount of sleep (i.e. - perpetually). The Wellbutrin, on the other hand, was perfect for sleep - it shut up the little voice inside my head that kept making lists and plans and critiques of my behavior (see the masthead of this blog). I would lay down, and five minutes later I would be asleep. For those of us who have had sleep issues for years, it was bliss.

So about a month ago I started taking the Wellbutrin again, at the same dose I took prior to getting pregnant. Wellbutrin isn't an SSRI like Zoloft, so the two drugs can be taken together, and it doesn't require any ramping up or down of dosages when you start or stop taking it. It does, however, take a few weeks to accumulate in your body to a level that makes it most effective, so the plan was to start the Wellbutrin, get it up to full effectiveness, then taper off the Zoloft (which you can't quit cold turkey or your head explodes, or some such thing).

I'm up to full strength on the Wellbutrin, and I've spent the past two weeks at half dosage on my Zoloft. As soon as I started the Wellbutrin, my sleeping got better - not spectacular, but at least I am now less familiar with the topography of my bedroom ceiling than I was when I was spending hours staring at it trying to get to sleep. And almost as soon as I cut back my Zoloft dosage, I began dreaming again.

Just to back up a minute - I don't dream. Even as a kid, I would have nightmares occasionally, but only had dreams I could remember once or twice a year. Yes, I know I was actually dreaming, just not remembering them, but the effect is the same. As an adult, the only time I consistently remembered my dreams was when I tried St. John's Wort for depression, and when I was pregnant. But in the last two weeks I've had probably 10 mornings where I woke up and could remember at least fragments of dreams. I had almost forgotten what that was like. And I had forgotten how much I missed it ... it's like how you don't notice how bad the reception on your tv is until you get cable, and then you wonder how you ever watched tv without it.

And last week I actually felt good. Not just "not bad," not just "I promise not to kill the kid today," but actually, factually good. I got the house clean, I got most of the yard sale stuff priced, I got yard work done, I played with Liza, I came up with several new designs I want to make for my etsy shop, I cooked, I even made sugar cookies, for god's sake. Again, it was like my eyes were open for the first time - you mean normal people feel like this most of the time? Jesus Christ, what have I been doing?

I don't know if it was the Wellbutrin kicking in, the Zoloft dropping out, the particular time of month it was, or some sort of random abberation in the fabric of the universe, but by god, I hope it happens again. It's been a little tough this week because Liza's been teething - hard - and when her mood is shot, so's mine. And we're all a little short on sleep, which doesn't make any of us easier to deal with. But even so, I have noticed that during the sleep troubles over the past few weeks, I've been a lot less despondent and a lot more patient, trusting that Liza will eventually get back to a normal schedule and we'll all survive. Sure, letting her climb on me like a monkey for two hours in the middle of the night is annoying, but it's not the end of the world. It helps that Jason has been willing to take over on weekends and give me some time to myself some evenings - he's been great through this whole ordeal, especially early on when we were both sleep deprived and I'm sure he wanted to run away from home just to get some sleep.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of feeling good is that I write best when I'm miserable and have something to complain about in a wry and witty fashion. I just can't make it funny when I'm talking about how great things are, if you know what I mean. And because I've been so productive and been feeling so creative, I haven't even been feeling the urge to write much beyond the standard "isn't my kid so cute" posts. I've been making a lot of progress on my patterns for etsy, and I think that's sucking up all of my writing energy right now.

So I guess this is a warning that I may not be posting quite as often, or my posts may be different than they have been in the past. Sorry if you miss the old, sarcastic me - but as much as I'll miss the funny writing, I'd rather skip the sarcasm and have the me that's able smile when I look at my daughter, even at 1 am when she's jumping up and down on my kidneys while I lay on the couch.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some laundry to iron and a quilt to make. Hooray!