Thursday, December 27, 2007

More about gingerbread

We finished the gingerbread house last Saturday:

Like it? We do. Bethie was soooo proud of herself helping hold up the house pieces while the icing dried, and helping to put on the roof tiles, and planting gumdrop bushes. (She was also so, so sick after eating tons of candy off of the communal candy table! She came over to where I was working on the house, climbed up in her chair, and said, "Mommy, I throwed up." Poor kid. I felt horrible not letting her eat any more candy...but....)

I mentioned to the girl who'd organized the whole thing that I thought the concept of a gingerbread house party was hilarious — she said, "Oh good, I'm glad somebody got that!" Apparently mine isn't the only warped mind in Belmont.

On Christmas Eve we made more dough — for eatin' cookies this time, not construction cookies — and cut out dozens of gingerbread men, Christmas trees, candy canes, angels, stars, snowmen, holly leaves...any Christmassy cookie cutter Beth found, we used. That afternoon we decorated them with royal icing and goodies (red-hot buttons and holly berries, raisin eyes, lots and lots of sprinkles). Beth set out a plate for Santa. Glorious.

I love love love having a two-year-old who's just learning about Christmas! She's terrified of Santa (but intrigued), wants nothing more than to help me bake cookies, and is impressed with the ritual of it all. Happy stuff!

(Oh, and the cookies are GOOD. Really, really good. We took a bunch of them to our downstairs neighbor, and Santa ate three, but I've been snacking away at the rest...unfortunately.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Some things I've learned about gingerbread in the last 2 1/2 hours:

Bethie and I are going to a gingerbread house party tomorrow (which I think is endlessly funny: it's a house party, right? But it's a gingerbread house party. What tunes do you bring to that? The elves be gettin' funky, yo) and after dinner tonight we started making pieces for our gingerbread house out of the dough I'd oh-so-thoughtfully made and chilled last night.

Alas, I'm a novice at this. But, thankfully, a quick study.
  1. The great elastic-band-over-the-rolling-pin-to-roll-dough-out-to-the-perfect-thickness slide thingies that you gave your husband 'cause he's enamored of That Man and His Cooking Show? They're great. Just have the husband put them on the rolling pin, 'cause they have a mean snap.

  2. Don't try to roll out large construction-ready slabs of house and then transfer them to the cookie sheet. Roll everything out on the back of the cookie sheet. Or, better yet (I love this solution), use the elastic bands on the rolling pin and roll out the dough on a Silpat, cut the dough, and transfer the Silpat to the cookie sheet.

  3. After you learn Rule #2, above, make sure to redo the first gable end piece you cut out, somehow peeled up off the counter with a pastry blade (which you own thanks to the husband and his Food Network obsession with That Man), and baked. Sure, it looks nice, but it's an inch shorter than it should be. Getting it onto the pastry blade squished it.

  4. But the squished piece doesn't have to go entirely to waste/waist. It happens to be just the right size to cut two trees from. Even with a rather dull-edged plastic cookie cutter. (We now own a set of eight Christmas-themed cookie cutters, a dollar store find. I have quite a few more dollar store finds that are going to make it into the girls' stockings. Beth was sitting in the cart playing with the 30 or so tins we'd picked up to put homemade hot chocolate mix in, and Sarah's oblivious to everything but trying to kick off her shoe, and I snuck lots of good stuff onto the bottom part of the cart without them noticing. I think.)

  5. A pizza cutter doesn't leave messy edges like a serrated knife does. (And it contributed to a major flashback to high school sewing class, when I first used a rotary cutter to cut out a pattern. Bliss.)

  6. And I knew this one before, but:
  7. Gingerbread dough ALWAYS tastes better than the cookies. Mission accomplished, then, because I introduced Beth to gingerbread dough and she loooooves it. "Can I have another window, Mommy?"

Okay. Off I go to take the right-sized gable end piece out of the oven. And to cut out a door, and some more trees, and some chimney pieces.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Two-year-olds, and logic

"Beth, why is the jingle bell ornament on the floor again?"

"I was using my imagination."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I thought I heard Christmas music!

Remember the video that made its way around the Internet a few years ago? Some guy in Ohio rigged his Christmas lights so they'd sync with holiday music he (considerately) broadcast on low-power FM so people driving by could hear it.

Well, apparently Ohio doesn't have a monopoly on tacky. This afternoon I could hear Christmas music, and I knew it wasn't coming from my house, and my downstairs neighbor is away for a few days. I finally looked out the window — and, well, it's pretty awful. I took this from my deck a few minutes ago:

If you turn up the volume, that's "Jingle Bells." I'll try to get a daytime video of this tomorrow. They're amateurs compared to the Ohio guy, but imagine having this on your street!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm pretty sure this is a federal offense, but...

Last week I had Beth write a letter to Santa: she told me what to write, I wrote it, and she drew the pictures. It's darling. Something along the lines of "Dear Santa, I need a kitchen please" and going on from there. She's been a good girl, so has baby Sarah, and baby Sarah wants a dolly.

We then folded this up, placed it in an envelope, and let it sit around the house for several days. Last night we finally put a "stamp" on it (a Christmasy stamp-shaped sticker that came in the piles of junk mail) and this morning Beth drew a picture of Santa on the front (a few red and brown squiggles) and helped me put the letter in the mailbox.

I then told Scott it was his responsibility to take the letter out of the mailbox before the letter carrier came — you BET I want to save my kid's first letter to Santa! — and the girls and I headed to the mall to do some Christmas shopping.

Well, the husband forgot. And the mail came before I got home (at top speed, racing up my quiet suburban street hoping to beat the mailman). And it just broke my heart, and I told Scott it was his job to call the post office to see if maybe, just maybe, there was any way we could get the letter back.

"They won't do it," he said. "There's no point in asking."

"Just ask," I said. "I don't care if they won't do it. I want you to do everything possible to get that letter back."

(I should explain, too, that I'm royally pissed off with Scott for forgetting this, and that he's likely to be sleeping on the couch tonight regardless of the outcome.)

But Scott was teaching a class, so I figured I'd have a stab at the post office (with Beth safely ensconced in front of The Wonder Pets! and me upstairs feeding Sarah her pre-nap bottle), and I finally got through to the little post office in my town and explained (in a whisper, in case Beth wasn't as glued to the TV as I hoped she was) what I needed. They couldn't have been nicer. "We keep all the letters to Santa right here," the woman on the phone said, "until it's time to, um, deliver them to Santa." But she didn't have the one I was looking for. Everything was addressed to "Santa, North Pole," or something similar — nothing with just two-year-old scribbles.

"Is it possible that you don't have all of today's mail from the letter carriers?" I asked.

"Oh, you want today's mail? They're still out. Let's see...what street do you live on?"

So I told her, and she looked up the carrier on my route, and called him on his cell phone, and it turned out he'd just put the mail from my street into the outgoing mail box, and Beth's letter had gone in with it because it looked like it had a stamp on it. But he was perfectly willing to go back and (get this!) dig through the outgoing mail until he found the letter. Which I'm pretty sure is a federal offense.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," I told the postal clerk. "Tell him to ring the bell when he comes by and I'll have some cookies for him." Cookies! I could have kissed him. I will never, ever, ever complain about postal workers again. No more jokes about mail traveling by postal squirrel.

Scott, as it turns out, felt guilty enough that he called the post office right after his class let out (without checking his e-mail, where he would have learned that I already had the letter back). They told him he was a few steps behind the game. Bethie's letter is safely tucked away in a file drawer, and when she's about twelve I'll tell her this story.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Winter blues

We're all sick: runny noses, sore throats, grouchy temperaments. And it snowed really wet thick snow, which is now icy and frozen-0ver-ish on the top. And my car, which wouldn't even start yesterday morning, is in the shop, probably to the tune of several hundred dollars. And on top of everything else, Scott got an e-mail from a creepy ex-girlfriend. Ick.

I suppose I should be grateful for a bunch of things: my awesome next-door neighbor Kiersten who's more than willing to trade babysitting while I run the car to the mechanic and she goes in to work for random things; having a snow removal service (even if they don't come when we expect them to); getting the last mostly-full bag of ice melt at Home Depot (and getting a discount on it); getting the Christmas tree up and decorated; the fact that my kids, even with colds, are mostly healthy and happy. But I just hate the onset of winter, and how much more difficult it makes everything. I mean, going to the grocery store should be a snap, right? But worm two kids into winter coats, and troop out to the car, and get your feet wet in the process, and then bundle them into the shopping cart, unzip the coats so they don't overheat in the store, wipe their noses while you make your way around the store, bundle everyone and everything you just bought back into the car, and then try to get it all inside without leaving puddles all over the kitchen floor. Yeah. Things are much easier in the summer, which is why I think everyone should live in Southern California.

(C'mon, what were those Pilgrims thinking? They couldn't head farther south? Couldn't steer the Mayflower a little to the left and wind up in, say, South Carolina? These guys were seriously into martyrdom, if you ask me.)i

I'm just not ready for winter, even if it does mean Christmas and hot cocoa and teaching Beth to make snowballs (if I ever get the will to go outside with her). Think I'll go turn on my halogen lamp, and bask in its nice bright sunny light, and pretend I'm on a beach somewhere.

On another worrisome note, I took Sarah to the doctor last week and she's all of 15 lbs. 4 1/2 oz. (that last 1/2 oz. was her binkie, I think, but let's just let it be) — which puts her off the bottom of the chart for weight. I'd be okay with it if she were even in the fifth percentile, but off the chart has me worried, especially because she eats constantly. Where does all this food go? So I'm gradually weaning her onto formula, and we'll see how it goes. She's obviously healthy, developmentally speaking. She waves, claps, raises her hands over her head and throws herself at us while giggling. She says "hi" occasionally, and this morning Kiersten swears she said "Oggie!" when she saw the doggies next door.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A few of my favorite moments from the last week:

  • Jeffrey crawling into bed with us one cold morning, huddled between our knees like a sleeping puppy, with his blanket over his head.

  • The girls in their hammocks at the USS Constitution Museum

  • Beth and Eleanor "taking a nap" one afternoon (oh, the decibel level on the giggling!). I heard Beth get out of bed at one point, and when I went in to wake them up (they did finally fall asleep), Beth's doll Baby Margie was in the crib with Eleanor. I guess she decided her friend needed a doll to snuggle with.

  • Snuggling sweet baby William

  • Rub-a-dub dub, three kids in a tub
  • The "We did it!" moment when Brooke and I got to the Children's Museum on the T. I've already written about this, but wow! were we impressed with our cool streetwise urban mommy selves.

  • Bethie and Eleanor giving each other hugs, over and over, and falling down almost every time.

  • Discovering the Danish Pastry House with Brooke ('cause I never would have gone in by myself). Cream-filled marzipan frogs...yum.

  • Radio Jeffrey: all talk, all the time.

  • The morning our friends left, when Scott was pushing the trundle under Beth's bed, and she wailed, "Where's Jeffrey going to sleep?"

  • The chaos of the playroom

  • The Swiffer Brigade, in their newspaper hats!

Some growing up...

Sarah actually started real hands-and-knees crawling the day after I posted the video clips of her scootching around the kitchen. She's getting terribly fast, and is even more daring with her standing-up maneuvers: pushing her belly into the back of the pew at church so she can lift up her hands and grin at the people behind us; attempting the same while leaning against the bathtub (she nearly went over backward that time); actually trying to climb in the bathtub to get to the rubber ducks inside.

Oh, how she loves those ducks! Beth loved them at this age too (her first word was "Huckies!"). Sarah's dragging them with her everywhere, and rolling around on the living room floor with them, and stuffing their rubber heads in her mouth.

Bethie and I both got haircuts today (serious short cut for me, a trim for her) and she got lots of attention from the orange-haired old ladies in the salon. "Oh, look at that curl!" "We used to look like that, huh?" Beth sat atop two cushions in a salon chair, a cape with pictures of doggies on it thrown around her little shoulders, gnawing on an Italian sesame cookie someone had given her. This haircut was serious, grown-up business, not to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

She speaks! (Kind of)

So, this morning I was getting wiggly little Sarah dressed, and Bethie came over to say hi, and as her head got close to Sarah's, little bitty Sarah exclaimed, "Beh!" With major glee and excitement and obvious pleasure. Sarah loves her sister.

I think she knows her sister's name, and she just has to work on the "th" sound ('cause, you know, even Beff can't say it yet). That's my story. And I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Five kids, two strollers, and a trip on the T

My friend Brooke, and her three kids, and (until yesterday when he took a train down to Philly) her husband Brian are staying with us this week, and it's been a whole heap of Adventure Days in a row. Beth is thrilled. Exhausted and all, but thrilled. She has two friends to run around the house with, which is what they've done for HOURS — they run shrieking and chasing each other around the loop in the house. It's going to be Very Lonely when they leave, and I'm not looking forward to the tears and the hangdog looks. (Beth may handle it fine. The tears may be mine.)

Today we took them to the Boston Children's Museum, and we had the extra-brilliant idea of doing the trip on the T. We are INSANE. And it was FUN. We walked down to the bus stop, wrangled the strollers onto the bus, got off at Harvard Station, took the Red Line down to South Station (the view as you're crossing the Charles is gorgeous), got off, found the right elevators to get out, and walked three blocks to the museum.

Silly us — today is Veterans Day, and every kid who was out of school was at the Children's Museum, and the Boston Ballet was doing a special Nutcracker presentation. The museum was packed. We holed up on the upstairs floors, avoided all the little ballerinas standing in line for the performances, and had ourselves quite the good time. I think Beth's favorite thing was playing with the gigantic chess set. And we're going to have to take Scott back just so he can see the Japanese house (shipped in pieces from Kyoto) they have on the third floor.

On the way home we piled all three girls on the double stroller, and since they'd played hard and hadn't had naps, they all conked out. That's a successful outing!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

To the tune of the Yogi Bear theme song...

Sarah Bear is smarter than the average bear
Sarah Bear is always pulling Mommy's hair
Sitting in her high chair you will find her there
Stuffing down more veggies than the average bear

Beth-Beth is Sarah's sister and they're in cahoots
They giggle at each other and it's really cute
Sometimes a girl gets jealous, but it's always moot
'Cause when they work together they know they get more loot

Mommy's here to try to keep our girls in line
They push their bedtime back until it's after nine
Sure her job is tough, but you won't hear her whine
'Cause she gets hugs and kisses, and that suits her just fine

(If you've seen the High School Jim "Yogi Bear" video on Cartoon Network's Boomerang, well, that's what got us going.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This is what we've been up to lately....

Sarah's scootching everywhere using her arms to propel herself forward. She's FAST. Fast enough that she got around me Thursday and fell down the stairs, but that's another guilt-ridden story. On nice non-carpeted flat surfaces she goes like sixty:

She's also walking around furniture (and, in some cases, walking with the furniture, as seen below).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Adventure Day, continued

The plan was to go to the zoo, but since we had two other moms and their kids (and an extra tagging along) with us, and there was rain predicted (which didn't materialize — it's a gorgeous day), we went to the Museum of Science.

(I'm going to digress here just a wee bit and point out how much I love the fact that the Belmont library lets you check out museum passes! We paid $5 each for the adults; the kids were all under 3 and so got in free. Even counting drinks to go with our lunch and the pricey Boston parking, I got out of there having spent less than $20. Hooray!)

The MoS is way, way cool — everything from a push-the-button exhibit showing basic mechanical principles to race cars to a life-size T-rex (and his footprint, Beth pointed out) to semi-precious stones (Beth looooves picking up rocks, and these were really neat rocks — she thought they were flowers at first!) to shells and butterflies and lots of computers and buttons for little hands to push. Bethie and I spent quite a bit of time talking about what a museum is, how it's a collection of things that are similar to each other in some way, and we sat down at a hands-on exhibit that let kids classify objects: sort them, put them in boxes, write on a small chalkboard attached to each box what it was a collection of. She gets, now, that the collection of shells sitting next to the TV from last week's beach trip is a kind of museum. I asked her, "Beth, if you could go see a museum of anything at all, what would be in it?" and she answered, right off the bat, "Trees. And dolphins." So I guess some of our next Adventure Days will have to be to Habitat and to the New England Aquarium. (I'd love to know what Sarah wants to see, but she's not telling us just yet.)

The best part of the visit was last: baby chicks actually hatching out of their eggs! We stood around (and stood around, and stood around) and eventually everyone else wanted to leave, but Beth and I wanted to stay. I even told the other moms to go home, but they didn't — and eventually we did walk away, to see the monkeys and change Sarah's diaper — and then we came back, and one of the chicks had pushed halfway out of the shell! It was all wet and scrawny looking, and obviously tired (come on, pecking a hole that big and working your way out of your own shell has got to be hard), but it would rest for a few minutes and then wriggle more to get further out of the shell. So, so amazing.

See, this is the kind of thing I want my kids to see. You can read about chicks hatching, or puppies being born, or see pictures of rivers or know that glass is made out of sand at very high temperatures, but until you actually see it up close and participate as much as you can, you don't really understand. This sounds pretty trite, as I'm typing it, but it isn't a very complex philosophy, and that's why we're doing Adventure Day in the first place.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beach babes

In an attempt to get some sort of schedule going on in our lives, I've declared each Friday to be Adventure Day, and we kicked it off last week with a trip to (gasp!) the beach. I know, I know — the beach is not the first thing I think of when I think of New England. But there it is, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Beth, after some hesitation (and some screaming and crying about NOT wanting to go in the water!), squatted down and started digging in the sand — eventually helping me make quite the rambling sand castle. Sarah, of course, had no qualms about any of it and scootched herself off the beach blanket immediately so she could scrunch wet sand through her fingers. She didn't eat any of it, but she sure enjoyed the texture.

And then we went to Wendy's for lunch — Beth shoving whole fistfuls of fries in her mouth, hungry kid! — and Sarah chowing down on as many mandarin orange bits as I'd give her. They slept the whole way home. I think we may go to the zoo this week, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Indoctrination, of several sorts

We took the girls to the Bentley football game last Friday, and it was a hit! Beth got her face painted on the way in (a blue and a gold stripe on her cheeks), and she had a sausage sandwich and fry bread while sitting in the bleachers, and she made friends with the freshman guy sitting behind us (and ate half of his pretzel). Sarah got herself adored and held by the three Danish exchange students sitting in front of us. She lapped up the attention. Beamed, actually. She also got her first taste of a frozen strawberry pop, and was INDIGNANT when I finally took it away from her.

When we came in the gates I said, "Look, Bethie! Cheerleaders!" and Scott asked, "Early indoctrination?" (Well, yeah.) After we got settled he pointed out the football players, and the fact that they were actually holding a football and running with it, and Beth was supremely impressed that they pushed each other and knocked each other down. This is big for a two-year-old, I guess.

I'm impressed with the measures the school takes to keep students out of trouble on the weekends. Freshmen aren't allowed cars on campus. A shuttle runs hourly to Harvard Square (where the action is, apparently). Football games — although the team's probably just above high school caliber — are a big draw. Admission to the game was free with Bentley I.D., and food (though not drinks or ice cream) were free too. Students with "Bentley Superfan" sweatshirts roamed the crowd giving out white pompoms (Beth was ecstatic) and offering white hair paint. By the end of the evening we also had two little snow globes with the girls' pictures embedded inside.

The cheerleading thing came up again because Halloween is coming up, and there are indeed cute little cheerleader costumes at Target (read: cheap) and although Beth maintains she wants to be a piggy (or maybe a cow), Scott's been pushing for her to wear something exceedingly girly ("Wouldn't she like to be a princess?"). I've been looking online for piggy costumes, and there's just nothing that's really, really cute. Which is a bummer, because I really like Halloween, even as a supposed-to-be-really-jaded-by-this adult, and Sarah's going to be a chickie, and if they were both going as barnyard animals Scott and I could have a really good excuse to go as farmers. But now I have to find her something else cute, and (here's the kicker) convince her that it's what she really, really wants. (And then find myself a costume to go with it.)

In retrospect, I realize that ALL PARENTS DO THIS, and my parents did it to me too ("Are you sure you want to be a cricket?" my mom asked, and I can just picture her thinking, How on earth do you make the legs? And the antennae? "Wouldn't you rather be a ladybug? Ladybugs are cuter."), and it's only about half as evil and manipulative as it sounds.

Beth's sleep troubles are diminishing again, which is good, and I'd like to think I even had something to do with it. For several nights in a row I asked her, "Can you have good dreams tonight?" and she actually did.

I woke her up Saturday morning with, "Did you have good dreams, Bethie-boo?"


"What did you dream about?"

"Doggies." Pause, pause, pause. "And mommy and baby Sarah."

Then she had to go find her toy football, and run around with it and fall down, and pick herself up, run around with the football again, and fall down again. At one point she dropped the ball and Scott said, "Whoops! You fumbled!" and then she dropped the ball again and said, "Fumble!" Early indoctrination, indeed. Maybe we'll find her a little football uniform for Halloween. In pink, because she'll insist.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Chickies, and sleep troubles

So Scott starting teaching today — he has a Monday/Thursday afternoon class and a once-a-week Thursday evening class, which means that on Thursdays he's leaving by 8:00 a.m. and getting home well after the girls are asleep. I don't think it actually occurred to Beth that Daddy was gone all day today until it was bedtime and he suddenly wasn't there. I think she was more confused than sad, and she spent half an hour crying herself to sleep — though that was probably unrelated to the fact that Daddy didn't tuck her in.

She's had a rough few nights. I think she has night terrors — she starts screaming and crying, and even sits up in her crib, but she doesn't really recognize me if I go in to calm her down. She just stares right through me. This is heartbreaking.

We went to a (real) farm today! (I told Beth about it yesterday, and she's been talking about being a farmer for two days.) Drumlin Farm, operated by the Mass Audubon Society, a little working farm up in Lincoln with a few extras: sanctuary animals that can't be returned to the wild for various reasons. So Beth saw piggies (very exciting) and a bunny rabbit, a skunk, a woodchuck, several owls, some cows, horses, and a whole mess of chickens.

Sarah? I don't know how much of the rest of it she really got. But she definitely got the chickens. They were right at her level, and about her size, and up close — she was fascinated. Completely absorbed. Beth got all excited about the chickens sitting on eggs, and the baby chicks, and had to explain over the phone to her daddy and her grandma about the baby chicks hatching out of eggs. "They come out! Baby chicks talking to me. They say 'peep.'"

She was so excited. And as I'm writing this, she's upstairs crying in her bed — one of those sobbing wails that tells me she's having nightmares but she's not really awake. I'm going to go up and pat her back and tell her everything's okay.

Sigh. Being a mom is hard.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Professor Daddy

Beth has taken to calling Scott "Professor," as in, "Professor, you come here right now!" and "Professor! Professor! Where are you? Oh, there you are." He loves it. We're living in Boston, I'm trying to teach her to say "wicked awesome," and she comes out with "professor." Love my kid.

Yesterday morning I caught her trying to feed Sarah toast. She'd broken off bits and was trying to shove them in Sarah's mouth (Sarah, of course, wasn't complaining in the least — her expression was more "Lemme at it!" than "Toast? I don't think so. Not yet, anyway.").

"Bethie, Sarah can't have toast yet. She can't chew it. She doesn't have any teeth."

A moment of worried concentration, then: "We'll buy her some!" Aha. The solution to all of our problems. I love how her mind works.

"No, sweetie, we can't. It doesn't work that way. Let's feed her applesauce, okay?"

Then Sarah took a morning nap (maybe her fifth? Ever?) and Beth and I were out on the front deck blowing bubbles. (This is hilarious: She can't figure out how to blow just right, so she either spits at the bubble wand or breathes at it.) Eventually I told her, "We're going to have to go wake up baby Sarah and go to Costco."

"And buy her teeth!"

Wow. Oh, just so you know: we didn't really look hard, but we're pretty sure Costco doesn't carry false teeth. At least not for babies.

Tuesday's splash park debacle really needs more explanation.

I'm trying to make friends, really I am. So I'm taking her to the ward playgroup, and the e-mail that went out about it said "splash pool," and I assumed (wrongly) that "pool" meant "pool" (as in short-person wading-style pool) instead of "overgrown sprinklers." She was terrified. Sarah would let me get her feet wet before complaining about it, but Beth just flopped down on her towel in sunbathing stance and screamed and cried when I even suggested going near the water. I kept my cool, though, and on our way out of the park I sat down with her on the grass and said, "This wasn't really a pool, was it?"


"Tell you what. Not tomorrow, but the next day, we'll find a real pool, you and me and baby Sarah. Okay?"


So (this being "the next day") we went. She had an absolute blast. The local pool is insanely, cliquishly, wonderfully local: you have to be a resident of the town just to buy a day pass, the red-suited lifeguards all look like they grew up swimming there in the summers, kids have to pass a swimming test to go in the deep end, and by late afternoon the place is chock-full of kids playing "Marco!" "Polo!" and swimming underwater and throwing beach balls around. Plus, it starts at just a foot deep, which is great for little Bethie who's only about three feet deep herself. We went this morning, slathered on sunscreen, put on hats, and spent an hour and a half walking around the kiddie half of the pool, coming back to our towel for snacks, and going back in again. Sarah finally lost it around lunchtime, so we came home, ate lunch (what's more appropriate for a pool day than PB&J?), took naps (all of us — I was wiped out), and went back. This time she was an old pro: she didn't need to hold my hand every minute, she went in up to her chin, and she even slipped while she was climbing down from the side of ramp and fell in. I thought it would be the end of things, but no — she kicked and splashed for a few moments while I hauled myself (Sarah in tow) from where I was sitting on the pool floor and righted her.

"Are you okay?"


"Was it fun?"


"Do you want to do it again?"


Sarah, by the way (and I feel terrible that so many of my comments about Sarah are "by the way"s — she's tremendous, and calm, and tough as nails — "quietly determined" would be the right words for her), is a total water baby. She stood up in the pool, holding onto my hands; let me swing her around on her back and her tummy in the water, and played beach-ball catch with an older boy (six? seven?) who thought (correctly) that she was a cutie. She also has the cutest baby swimsuit ever. It's a purple patterned halter-style tank suit with ruching on the sides and red and orange beads on the halter tie. I want one for me.

Beth played catch with three kids. She wants to take swimming lessons this fall. She pled with me to let her stay when I told her it was time to go home for dinner. Yay!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Brilliant kids, spacy mom

Sarah's almost, almost crawling. She'll get up on her hands and knees, rock back and forth, study the floor in front of her, then flop herself down like a little inchworm to get her hands farther forward. It's working quite well. I expect her to actually figure out how to alternate hand movements within, oh, a week, at which point we're going to have to buy baby gates to keep her off the stairs. Yikes!

It's been such a week.

Saturday was just awful. One of those days when I shouldn't be allowed around heavy machinery or loaded weapons or small children. It was hot (90-plus degrees), humid, and I had no ability to focus whatsoever. First, on my way out of the house to the grocery store, I actually backed the car into the deck (itty bitty dent on the bumper, no damage to the deck). After battling two children, cramped aisles, long checkout lines and Beth crying most of the way home because she wanted to drive (but wouldn't actually climb in the driver's seat while I was loading the groceries — it was "Too hot! I burn myself!"), I clipped one of the side mirrors trying to pull into the garage.


The mirror was still (mostly) attached to the car, but I figured the universe was telling me to stay inside for the rest of the day. So later in the afternoon, I got domestic and homebody-ish: I decided to finish cleaning the oven.

(The oven was absolutely grimy when we moved in. I don't think anyone's cleaned it since it was installed eight years ago. And this is a self-cleaning oven. All you have to do is set it to the clean cycle and wait four and a half hours. But I digress.)

I ran a cleaning cycle a few weeks ago, and while it mostly worked, it also left some still-icky spots that I figured I'd get with some spray-on oven cleaner. So I took the pizza stone out of the oven, picked up the blue spray can, covered the inside of the oven door with foam, recapped the can, and looked at the clock so I'd know when my two hours of soaking the grease-encrusted mess would be over. And then I thought, "Wow, that oven cleaner really smells good," and I looked twice at the blue spray can, and realized that I had just covered the oven door with spray starch.

Grr, again. I wonder: Should I include stories like this in the article I have to write about our family for the ward newsletter? "Libby likes to read, play the violin, and have completely spacy days where she does everything — everything — wrong."

We got new cell phones, which is a source of endless wonder for Beth. "Is that Mama's new cell phone? I want to hold it. I call Aunt Gigi?" Last night Scott was trying to set up his new Treo (ooo, the tech geekiness we exude!) and had the instructions laid out in front of him on the living room floor.

Beth marched over and picked up the paper. "I have to read it," she explained, and proceeded to peruse the instructions. After quite a bit of deliberation, she gave the paper back. "It says 'cell phone.'" And she walked away.

(For the grandparents who are convinced of her budding brilliance, it didn't. She can't read. It said "smartphone," and it had pictures.)

But today after our wearing trip to the park, where Beth was afraid of the sprinkler-type water play area, and another grueling grocery run (don't ask — it's too painful to tell — but it involves me forgetting to change Beth out of her swim diaper before putting her in the shopping cart), we still had to stop by the tailor shop to pick up Scott's pants that we'd dropped off yesterday morning. I found a parking spot a few doors down from the shop, hauled the girls out of the car, and told Beth, "We have to find the tailor shop. Can you help Mommy?"

"It has a number eight on the door," she said.

And so it did. I'm going to let her park the car next time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Farm girls

We went to a farm! The ward playgroup was held at a farm out in Natick today. Beth thought it was glorious. As soon as she heard we were going to a farm she started talking about piggies.

(It's not really that kind of a farm. It's a pick-your-own-apples kind of farm, but lucky for us there's a petting zoo section with a single placid cow, some ostriches and emus, a big collection of sheep and goats, and a solitary sleeping piggy. Beth was afraid of the ostrich, and when confronted with the big ugly guy's head shrank back and said, "I don't know him.")

She got to pick her own apples off short apple trees, and ride "trains" (a long motorized peoplemover thing, plus a kid-sized caterpillar one), and pet the goats, and play on a playground, and have lunch with some new little friends who are just older than she is.

Sarah sat up in the front seat of the stroller and watched everything: the animals, the other babies, the apples. She wasn't really thrilled about the stroller — Sarah would much rather be practicing her hands-and-knees maneuver right now — but she was patient with our needs to get out of the house.

On the way home Beth had to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" over and over and over. (She was pretty creative with it, too — used a bunch of the animals she'd just seen — didn't resort to kitty cats for several miles.)

Late September is apparently Asian pear season, so we'll be back for that. And we saw pumpkins nestling low in their big leaves, so we'll be back for that too.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yes, all the synapses are in working order

Grandma was taking pictures of the girls and their baby cousin tonight when the itty-bitty digital camera slipped out of her hands. Something was obviously wrong with it — she couldn't turn it on or off — so I said, "Let's try reseating the battery."

At the word "battery," Beth's ears pricked up and she toddled off toward the kitchen. We fussed over the camera and she reappeared a moment later holding out a big D-cell battery on her open palm. "Here you go."

Smart cookie, that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Swimming Sarah

Sarah's having such a blast with the hardwood floors — she can scoot around quite easily on her tummy, mostly backward. And she'll pick up her arms and legs, balance on her tummy, and do a lovely Superbaby. Such a cutie!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The big move

Highlights from the past week and a half:

  • Scott asked me to pack up the clothes the girls would wear on the trip up to Boston, and I replied with, "Yep, I'll pack Beth and Sarah tonight."

    Beth, who had been watching (and occasionally helping) the whole packing process, got this totally worried look on her little face and said, "No, mama, don't put me in a box!"

    "Oh, sweetie, no," I said. "I won't put you in a box!"

    "Not baby Sarah either?"

    "No, not baby Sarah either. I'm going to pack your clothes in a suitcase so that you can have them on the trip."

    "Oh. Okay."

  • Forget the Waldorf-Astoria — my favorite hotel is now the Homewood Suites. There's a kitchenette, enough room for two portable cribs, a swimming pool, breakfast every morning, and dinner most weeknights. It's clean. There are highchairs. It isn't too terribly expensive, especially after you add up what you'd spend on those meals. And the girls lovedlovedloved going swimming last Tuesday night. Sarah, who hadn't been swimming before, was apprehensive for about two and a half minutes before deciding that she was born to be a water baby. Seriously. She kicked her legs and waved her arms around and giggled. Seeing her in a swimsuit is about the cutest thing ever.

  • We read the last Harry Potter book all the way up to Boston and then all weekend while we were waiting to get into the house. Excellent, excellent book. (And if you haven't heard my rant on this before, you're getting it here: What is with the crazy evangelical folks who think the Harry Potter books are evil? Come on.)

  • Beth didn't throw up in the car. Yay Dramamine!

  • Beth did, however, throw up in the Friendly's in Sturbridge. I think I'm at fault for giving her too many fruit snacks to keep her quiet while I was reading Harry Potter to Scott.

  • We figured out on the second day of our drive that listening to a tape of old Sesame Street songs will keep Beth quiet and happy for hours on end. No exaggeration, no kidding.

  • Closing on the house? Totally anticlimactic. We signed a bunch of papers, the girls played in the corner, the sellers' agent was woefully unprepared and glaringly unprofessional. Our agent, whom we adore, actually handed us her garage door opener and let us stay at her house for four days before our furniture arrived.

  • Boston is impossible to get around in. We bought a GPS unit for the car and improved our navigational skills only marginally. It's just bad.

  • Oh — if your profession depends on an internet connection, e-mail access and a collection of software your husband is unlikely to have on his computer, just don't move. Ever.

  • Stephanie, you were right: Bear your testimony the first chance you get in your new ward. All spirituality aside, it gives people a chance to size you up. (Thanks for the tip, girl.) Someone from church actually recognized me today at Costco and said hello. That random enough?

  • Scott got to use his cordless drill to take apart a window on the second floor. Then he and the movers hoisted our couch up over the balcony and squeezed it through the window to get it into the living room. Fun to watch.

  • Today's the first day it's actually been bearable to be in the house without air conditioning (which we only have in the bedrooms, thanks). Ninety-plus degrees in Boston is just hot.

  • Beth and Sarah had been increasingly frantic about the move. The first few days were like a vacation, then Mom and Dad got serious about something, then we took them to an empty unfamiliar house and said, "Hey, this is where we're going to live! Won't that be fun?" Then we didn't actually get to live in the house for a few days, and then it was hot and humid and everyone got cranky and a bunch of men were moving a lot of things into the house and it was past naptime and everyone got hotter and crankier.

    In the middle of the moving-in-the-furniture chaos, the phone/internet/TV guy came to hook everything up. (Somehow this house made it to 2007 without getting cable...but that's another story. And we have co-ax cable draped and duct-taped around the moldings until we can get a contractor in to embed it in the walls. Again, another story.)

    But the technology all eventually got hooked up, and the TV got unpacked and put on top of a great steamer trunk we bought in Pittsburgh, and Mommy found the on-demand kids' shows and found (drum roll please) an episode of The Wonder Pets. And everything was immediately, miraculously better.

    Beth slumped down in her chair — I could actually see her shoulders relax — and five minutes later she was asleep. Poor kid. She really needed it.

  • Oh, we have a terrific downstairs neighbor. She's been saving Bed Bath & Beyond coupons for us, she's fed us dinner twice, and we just genuinely like her. We're counting our blessings.

  • First room to be almost completely set up: the kitchen.

  • Second room: the guest bedroom. We're hoping for lots and lots of visitors (and you know who you are).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mad skills

Sarah's swimming! I put her down today within visual range of Beth's wagonful of blocks and she managed to squirm herself over to it, bat a bunch of the blocks out with her arm, and then play contentedly with the blocks. Hooray! She's learned a new skill. She's so determined. And so determined to be self-sufficient!

She's also started to play peek-a-boo. If she's sitting in her car seat or bouncy chair with a blanket, she'll grab the blanket with both hands, pull it over her head, and then pull it back down under her chin. That's when the big silly "I'm so proud of myself!" grin shows up.

We're cleaning things out as we're packing, and Scott found my big makeup case full of, well, makeup. Old makeup. There were five or six pieces I wanted to save (including my vial of Lip Venom, yum). The rest of it got tossed — but not before it was thoroughly inbethtigated.

Beth loooooves makeup. Part of our morning routine includes the two of us putting on lip balm together. So she had to go through every single tube and pencil, take off the cap, and probe around. She ended up with lipstick and eyeliner all over her face, and she was very, very serious about the whole process. This was important stuff.

'Course, I'm not about to let a two-year-old run amok with makeup. I left her with a bag of makeup sponges, a brush, and two new tubes of lip balm. And the big boxlike makeup case, which zips shut and has a mirror in the lid. She's thrilled. When Scott was putting her to bed she pled with him, "Want makeup!"

"The makeup's downstairs, Bethie."

"No, put makeup in crib!"

So she either wants to sleep with it or put it on in the middle of the night so she can (mad skills alert) climb out of the crib, open the door to her room, and sneak out to hang with her delinquent friends. (Okay, I'm just kidding about the sneaking out part. But she can do the rest.) Sigh. We'll try to keep a lid on this makeup thing until she's, say, thirteen. But it's cute.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beth the acrobat

After being an acrobat at the backyard circus a few weeks ago, and literally dozens of Mommy-assisted somersaults, she finally figured it out on her own! (She went over to hug my friend Margaret after her first somersault at the library this week, but she's had plenty of hugs for her own family since.)

Share the joy, people. Here you go:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Life's rosy! And pink.

Two things:

  1. Scott defended his dissertation today...and passed! (I know, I know — no one's surprised. But it's such a great milestone that we have to celebrate it.) Things are looking nice and rosy for our little family of four: a completed and defended dissertation, imminent graduation, then a move to a Real House and a Real Job.

  2. I took Bethie and Sarah to the pediatrician's office today. We all (and I mean all) have pinkeye. Glargck. We've been fighting off this awful unrelenting cold for nearly a week, with its sniffles and migraines and sore throats and swollen glands and fatigue and general malaise, and now on top of it we all have drippy itchy eyes and a few rounds of antibiotics. So, so gross.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Bethie celebrated her own independence by holding not one but two sparklers at the picnic we went to. It was a solemn little celebration: Beth and a sparkler and a few tentative waves of same. But a celebration nonetheless. She ran around with the other kids, chased the puppy someone brought along, slid down the slide into the wading pool (after the splashing big kids got out), asked for and received a chocolate chip cookie and a sippy cup full of grape soda.

It's kind of a week of firsts. We took the girls to see Ratatouille on Monday night, their first movie at a theater. Sarah nursed for a good chunk of the movie. Beth said "Uh-oh!" during the scary scenes and cried during the sad ones. (Beth, incidentally, loves popcorn.)

Tonight she got on the phone with her Aunt Gigi and told her about the movie: "I saw movie! There was a rat. He cooked cookies! And his friends." If you're going to cook, her reasoning goes, it might as well have chocolate chips involved.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The circus!

My friend Brooke, who has more good ideas eight months pregnant than most of us have when we're in fabulous physical and mental shape, organized a backyard circus for the kids. It was darling. And hilarious. Beth was an acrobat (she did Mommy-assisted somersaults and then climbed Daddy) and Sarah was a clown (strictly a sideshow act, but boy did she look cute).

Beth's buddy Eleanor did a magic act (soooo cute to see a two-year-old do magic tricks!) and had this fantastic moment of "Oh, wow, people are paying attention!" when she got applause. There was a brief flirt with being shy about it...and then she just lapped up the attention. What a kid.

(Tangent: My mom sent Beth another round of books and Grandma-reading-books-on-tape, including a really cute one about Gossie and Gertie, two little goslings who are best friends and do everything together. At the end of one of a whole bunch of readings of the story, I asked Beth, "Do you have a best friend?"

Well, duh. "Eleanor!")

Back to the circus. There was an elephant trainer (with a daddy as the elephant), and an unintelligible but quite dapper ringmaster, and a few trained monkeys, and a trapeze artist, and even a tattooed strong man (those tattoos looked suspiciously like Crayola marker, and I heard several remarks about the incongruity of a CTR tattoo). Afterward there was homemade ice cream, and kids running around the backyard, and the sun hadn't even started to go down when we left at 8:00. Ah, summer!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The wheels on the bus

I went in to get Beth up yesterday morning and found her sitting in her crib, back against the side, legs stretched out in front of her, with her blanket and dolly Annabelle sitting in her lap.

"Mommy! I'm riding on bus!"

My super-literal child's little imagination has finally kicked in — and it's a wonderful thing to watch. She's starting to play with Play-Doh (which usually means picking apart a ball of the stuff or having Mommy make something for her), she wants me to make her a blanket tent in her room (where she'll sit for, like, half an hour with her dolls and books), and she's having good little conversations with her dolls when she goes to bed at night (Scott encourages this when he puts her to bed: "Can you tell Annabelle and Baby Margie what you did today?"). She's building some new skills, too: besides the potty endeavors, she's learned to put on her own shoes — as long as they're slip-ons like her "skate-rat shoes" (the Vans my sister gave her for her birthday) or her rain boots (which she insisted on wearing yesterday and had on her feet while she was still in just a diaper and tee shirt). During my Saturday cleaning mini-frenzy she helped me wash out the bathroom sink. Took her job very seriously, too.

Thanks to my friend Brooke, I'm also flexing the imagination muscle and learning some new skills: she had the terrific idea of getting a group together to make our own quiet books for our kids, and we've come up with this fabulous Pittsburgh-themed book: all the things a little kid can do in Pittsburgh. We have three pages done now: sort the fruits and veggies into the right colored bin at Stan's Market, zip Mr. Rogers' sweater, dig for dinosaur bones (and assemble the dinosaur) at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. More to follow. Mine will be the carousel at Schenley Plaza (move the animals up and down the poles on the carousel) and a button-the-wheels, open-the-door-and-see-the-driver Port Authority bus page. Beth loves the Stan's Market page (she hasn't seen the other two yet) and will contentedly sit at the dining room table taking the little felt pieces off and Velcroing them back into the right place. Somehow I've become the resident sewing expert for the quiet book group, which makes me laugh — taking sewing in high school was one of the ways I kept sane, but it's been, like, 17 years! I'm having inordinate amounts of fun, though.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's baaaaaack!

Okay — temporarily. And somehow I missed four episodes.

Sarah and I got home tonight from our quiet book making frenzy and a grocery run, and Scott bounded downstairs and asked, "How much do you love me?"

Turns out he found Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and recorded a new (!) episode tonight. NBC is airing the rest of the season. They started May 24, so I'll have to find the episodes I missed, but hallelujah! At least I get the rest of the season.

I am such an addict.

Hey, Sarah can sit up (propped on her hands) for about a minute at a time. And she's discovered her feet — she'll grab them while she's sitting in her bouncy chair, hang onto her toes, and grin. Happiest baby in the world! She's growing like crazy, too. She's outgrown her cradle (the lovely one my mom made for my oldest cousin over 40 years ago) and is sleeping tonight in the Pack-n-Play (which will be her bed for a few months until Beth gets a big-girl bed and passes down the crib). And her long, long feet! They're actually a bit too long for the size 2 shoes she wore today, but they're so narrow I don't know how I could keep size 3s on her feet. (She always looks so proud of herself when she gets a shoe off...especially if she can stick it into her mouth afterward.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Numb. Confused.

I just finished reading/proofing Scott's dissertation.

It's actually fascinating stuff. He starts with pointing out that while organizational computer security measures are usually concentrated on technical solutions, anything that's in place can easily be compromised if people who work for the organization don't follow security policies. He's right — be honest now — how many of you have jotted down a hard-to-remember have-to-change-it-every-three-months password on a Post-It and stuck it to the front of your monitor?

Then he goes into his research question: why don't people follow security procedures? What factors influence people's decisions whether or not to follow procedures?

After over 150 pages of truly mind-numbing literature review, methodology, data collection details and construct reliability and validity (gack!), he gives his conclusions — among them, that people consider punishment for not following procedures to be more motivational than reward for following them (interesting), that there's a high prevalence of apathy (probably because the IS people who make up the policies don't have day-to-day management responsibilities for the people who are supposed to follow them), and that the way people perceive risk and what they actually do about it have a really, really dysfunctional relationship.

The end is in sight — defense scheduled for July 11th. It's not really a spectator sport (thought technically it's open to everybody). Maybe I'll invite people after all, and we can sit in the back and do the wave.

Go Scott!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Yep, that's right...Beth finally went poop in her potty. Twice! She did it yesterday and then came back for a repeat performance today. She's so, so proud of herself.

And I am so, so regretting buying the big container of blueberries yesterday at Costco.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Zoo pictures...

...are up, here. A few are even included on the zoo post below. Finally.


Five things Beth is obsessed with:
  1. TV/video characters, including Elmo, the Wonder Pets, and Nemo

  2. Being up high. This includes standing on her stepstool to help me make meals (she stirs pretty well), climbing into her high chair by herself, and sitting on the arm of the sofa to watch the above-listed TV characters.

  3. Stickers

  4. Where her parents are at any given moment. "Where's my daddy? Where he is? Oh, there he is."

  5. Making sure that anything that belongs to her isn't being used or touched or breathed on by anyone else, especially baby Sarah.

Five things Sarah is obsessed with:
  1. Milk

  2. Watching Beth. If she's lying on the floor and Beth is behind her, she'll even crane her little neck around so she can see what Beth is doing.

  3. Watching anyone eat food

  4. Kicking her legs and arching her back. This is going to get her in trouble if we forget to strap her in her bouncy seat or the swing — she's pretty good at kicking and arching herself out of anything we put her in.

  5. The crinkly fabric block Scott bought her over the weekend

Monday, May 28, 2007

The (un)talent show

I'm doing this to the music of "76 Trombones Lead the Big Parade," since watching me blog has got to be the most boring thing EVER.

We're at the family reunion, in Colorado, and it's been fun — and tonight's the talent show. Or untalent show. The big announcement is that Ryan's working toward dental school. I'll have TWO brothers-in-law who are dentists, lucky me.

So Rebecca made balloon animals for all the kids, and Alan's kids sang to Grandma, who reciprocated by reading the kids a story, and we even got Beth to sing "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam." (She did a good job, too.)

After putting the kids to bed, and dealing with the excessive whispering that ensued, we came back for more: rice pudding, poorly told jokes, Ryan actually participating (juggling smooshed dinner rolls), and David singing (over and over). David and Alan sang a great song about Scott getting stuck on the T in Boston. We're getting it all on video, again, and someone (hopefully not us, this time) will put it on a DVD for posterity. It's all pretty cool. And this is a pretty talented crew, even when they're un-talents. Me? I'm blogging, as a spectator event.

Friday, May 25, 2007


We're in Colorado for the annual Boss Family Reunion, and it's a zoo. Really: Ten adults, seven kids, and two more on the way. It takes us four (full) cars to go anywhere. So today we took all seventeen people in all four cars down to Colorado Springs, had lunch at a picnic area in the Garden of the Gods, and spent the afternoon at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Wow. Wow.

This isn't a huge zoo, and it's probably under-funded. But it's a great, great zoo. The animals look healthy and well cared-for, and they're so close to visitors! Bethie got to feed a giraffe, which alone would have made my afternoon. ($1 for three giraffe crackers, walkways right at the giraffes' eye level, so they're up close and personal for kiddies. And adults.) I remember briefly petting a giraffe once at Hogle Zoo when I was a kid. The long tongue! The long eyelashes! Today we stood and talked with one, and felt its horns (they're called ossicones — I looked it up), and petted its nose. Such a treat. We took Sarah out of the stroller to have her meet one of the giraffes too. She's about as big as its head.

There were great signs up to tell about the animals (I've been looking at the spectacled bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo for a couple of years now, but just found out today he's native to South America), and zookeepers who stood and talked with all of us about the four 19-month-old mountain lion cubs, and gorgeous peacocks strutting around. I wasn't about to do the petting zoo with Beth (she's terrified of the big old mangy goats in Pittsburgh), but her cousins were doing it, sooooo...we washed her hands and I went in with her. Two clean, dainty pygmy goats — not much bigger than Beth — were in there with a keeper, and when I held my hand out they licked it and nibbled curiously. I held Beth's hand in mine and they licked her hand, then tried to nibble her sleeve and raincoat. Instead of freaking out (this is the third day this week she hasn't taken an afternoon nap) she took it all in stride. "Again, Mommy! Do it again!"

My favorite moment, though, was walking through the wallaby enclosure and getting to pet a motherless baby wallaby that a zookeeper was carrying in a denim pouch. (I have neither the vocabulary nor the italics to describe this.) So little, so soft, and when it curled up its big legs and feet wrapped all the way around to its little head. I thought: This is like carrying Sarah in a sling, or in her Snugli, and right now she is just as little and soft and vulnerable as this baby is.

(I'll get pictures up, I promise. I'm blogging in the dark while the girls are asleep back at our hotel. But in the meantime, you can check out the zoo's giraffe cam.)

Later this evening, headed north on I-25, in the past-bedtime dark, we heard Beth murmuring something to herself. I turned around. "What's that, Bethie?"

"Goat eat my shirt. Goat eat my shirt."

"Yes, Bethie, the goat tried to eat your shirt."

From the back seat, a moment later, a giggle. "That's funny!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Househunt v2.0

We have a house! Probably. We all know what happened last time. Caveats aside, though, it's a very neat place in a terrific neighborhood: a two-story condo built in 1920 and redone in 2000. Photos are here.

So the whirlwind househunting tour has been a success. I don't think I ever want to do it again, but I haven't felt this much like a superhero since 1978 and the Wonder Woman Underoos.

And Bethie has been just fine. Truly. I've talked to her over the phone several times, and she sounds like she's having a blast: trips to the library and Phipps Conservatory, time alone with Daddy, and the company of her little buddies Daniel and Eleanor. I miss her so much!

(Okay, I miss Scott too. But Scott doesn't need me to put his hair in "bunny rabbit ears" — Beth's term for pigtails — in the morning.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stripped of the (Sunset) Strip

I've been ignoring this for months, hoping the bad reports were premature or wrong or something...but I guess I have to face facts: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is gone.


Scott claims that if he watches a TV show from the pilot episode and likes it, the show's doomed. He may be right about this (remember Firefly? Love Monkey? Even, eventually, Enterprise?) I doubt it's a gypsy curse — the more likely explanation is that what we like and what the rest of the country likes just doesn't jive. I mean, how many CSI spinoffs are out there?

I'm really bitter about this, though. (Yes, more bitter than about the house: see below.) I'm not a Sorkin-head; I never got into West Wing; I liked the show on its own merits. Studio 60 was funny, smart, and had a good sense of its own non-history (my favorite episode is the one where Cal meets the old guy who was a writer on the show before he got blacklisted). People complained that the show was too self-consciously L.A., but that's the very reason I wanted to watch it.

Guess one of these days I'll have to take down my link to the (long-since-deceased) blog about the show...just not yet...I'm still bummed out about this.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Home (bitter, bitter, bitter)

Okay, okay, it's not that bad. But we had an inspection done of the house we planned to buy, and it turned out that it needed $11,000 (yes, that's three zeroes) of repair work done before we could even move in. The furnace doesn't work; there's a crack in the foundation; the darling sunroom has dry rot in the floorboards; there's carpenter ant damage. The list goes on: a bunch of must-do small-ticket items that add up pretty fast. The sellers refuse to pay for any of it (in fact, they insist that the furnace works fine and the home inspector didn't know what he was talking about). So we backed out of the deal, and we're only out $400 for a good home inspection.

So I'm going back up to Boston this week to find us all a place to live. Sarah, sweet baby, is coming with me; Beth is going to split time between Daddy and hanging out with her buddy Daniel (Margaret, you're my hero). Scott and I had a very good, very realistic talk about yard work (i.e., how much of it we're actually willing to do vs. how much we want him to get tenure) and decided that we'll probably go the condo route for the first few years. (Condos, by the way, are amazing! — old houses, newly renovated, split upstairs/downstairs into huge flats.) Cross your fingers for us, y'all: we need a place to live, and I have two and a half days to do it in.

I feel so, so conflicted about leaving Beth for three days/two nights. On one hand, I know she needs to learn that there are lots of people out there who love her and will take care of her, people she can rely on and trust. Truly, I shouldn't worry about this. She's been known to bypass me when she hurts herself and go to Margaret for hugs and kisses. But on the other hand, she's been so clingy and whiny and needy and just-turned-two-ish recently that it gives me a sick feeling to think about how dreadful her few days without Mommy will be.

And then there's an even odder fear: will she be just fine without me? Would that make me feel worse?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Home. Sweet!

I learned something new about myself in the last week. I've always known that I bite my fingernails when I get stressed out. What I didn't know is that when the stress passes a certain level I stop biting them. Yikes.

We flew up to Boston for a five-day househunting trip — told ourselves that we'd look around, get a feel for what was available, and if we found something that looked good we'd make an offer on it. If not, we'd rent for six months to a year and see what turned up. And we found it: a 1963-vintage split-entry raised ranch, hardwood floors, big backyard, two-car attached garage. It needs work, beginning with a new circuit breaker box (I said the house was of 1963 vintage!) and a good coat of (white) paint in the (otherwise gloomy) downstairs den. Then the kitchen, which may or may not even be functional (my guess is not) since the appliances are as old as the house is. I mean, the in-wall oven is yellow. So I've just spent half an hour looking at Ikea kitchen ideas.

I feel like such an adult. Yikes. All of a sudden I have weird homeowner-type questions floating through my head: Are there French drains to keep water out of the basement? How soon will the furnace need to be replaced, and is it worth it to convert to a geothermal system when it does? Do the garage door openers work? ('Cause we forgot to check.) How much will the fact that the commuter rail line passes right behind our backyard affect the resale value of the house?

But we're happy with this. A little freaked out, but happy. Beth is in love with the bathroom in the new house. Everything is pink: bathtub, sink, toilet, all the tile. All the fixtures in the bathroom (and in the tiny tan half-bath off the master bedroom) are the exact same make and model as all the fixtures in the bathroom of our first apartment, which were pale blue. Eerie.

The house is in Belmont. Boston neighborhood names still mean nothing to me; likewise with Boston college names, other than the obvious ones. But every time I told someone we were looking for houses in Belmont, they said, "Oh, Belmont," just as every time Scott said he was going to be teaching at Bentley the reaction was, "Oh, Bentley." Anyway. The house is 2.4 miles from Scott's office, and 1.3 miles from church and the temple, and four blocks from the elementary school. The town is unbelievably Mormon (two wards in the town; neighboring areas have four towns to a ward), has excellent schools, and feels, you know, friendly. Homey. People wave to each other from their cars. Road signs at the town borders say, "Welcome to Belmont. Please be courteous and obey all traffic laws."

Beth and Sarah were angels during the trip — even with the missed naps and the hours in airports and our real estate agent's car and the random stops to eat. Beth complained a bit in the car, especially if I had forgotten to bring along her newest Babybug magazine, but was thrilled to sit down and play with the temporarily abandoned toys belonging to kids who actually lived in the houses we were touring. (She threw up at dinner one night, but that's another story — and at least it wasn't while we were on an airplane.) Sarah grinned at everyone and let us subject her to the car seat for hours on end and slept through the night every night. And we took them on the swan boats — the swan boats! — Sunday afternoon when we went downtown. I loved it. Beth was thrilled. And Sarah, placid Sarah, hung onto her daddy and smiled.

Pictures to follow (I'll embed them in this post), so check back in a day or so. Shots of the house are on our Flickr page.

Monday, April 16, 2007


We have a new nickname for Sarah: Sarah Sunshine. It's true. She's a bright little happy ray of golden sunshine, and "Ray" is already taken as a (somewhat ironic) nickname for my mom. I just wish we were getting as much sunshine outside as we're getting inside.

Oh, and Sarah only comes in snuggly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Bethday #2

Today was the second annual celebration of Bethday — which to you uninitiated folks is also known as Bethie's second birthday. Cute kid! She had so much fun helping me decorate her cake (purple frosting, purple writing, pink and blue sprinkles she put on herself, and lots of frosting tastes)...and fun eating it...and fun with her myriad fascinating presents. Christmas all over again: she couldn't stand to put something down to unwrap the next box. The big hit (and this may change by tomorrow when she and Scott put together her Ikea table and chairs) was a Razor tricycle scooter.

Oh, the Ikea trip. Where do I start?
  1. Beth really, really wants a big-girl bed. (To tell the truth, I want this for her too. But the matching little day beds I want for the girls are a bit more than I can afford right now, and they're bulky, and I don't want to include yet another item in the Boston move. Sigh.) She climbed all over the toddler beds in the children's section, and put her head down and pretended to go night-night, and made sure she inbethtigated all of the kid-friendly room mockups they'd put together.

  2. She was fascinated by the tables and chairs. We tried out a bunch of them, made a decision, and Scott headed out to the furniture pickup area to wrangle a big cardboard box — and Beth was positive we were leaving without the great things she'd just been playing on. Oh, the plaintive cries of "Table and chairs! Please! Oh-kay!"

  3. Now that she has said table and chairs, there's a darling little porcelain dolly-sized tea set that I can't get out of my head and must go back to get her. Maybe it can be a moving present. Ha. Like I need an excuse to buy cute, cute stuff for my kids.
Sarah — sweet baby Sarah! — has discovered her hands. Finally! She's gotten quite adept, in the last few days, at aiming one of them straight for her mouth, inserting her fist, and sucking like mad on the knuckles of her first finger. It's very, very cute. (She's also a kicker, and managed to kick off and lose her big flannel blanket while we were out shopping Wednesday. Conveniently, she did this in the fabric store — so I just bought three lengths of flannel to hem into more blankets. Frustrating, nonetheless.)

Sarah watches and watches and watches us. I'll be nursing her and talking to someone, or watching Veronica Mars reruns, or playing "Talk to Piglet on the Phone" with Beth, and I'll look down at her and see her eyes absolutely riveted on mine. If she's lying on the floor she's watching Beth. And unless she's asleep (or almost so) she can't stand not to be in the same room with us. Such a social little bear. I swear she was as thrilled as Beth was with the birthday celebration, just because she could tell it made us all so happy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

In your dreams, Gen Xers

Last night I dreamed that Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland told a homeless guy in Pittsburgh several things that a character was going to do in his next book. The guy went out and did them, and since then (in my dream, at least) Coupland has written him into each of his books, because he knows the guy will actually do all the things Coupland dreams up for him.

I could get all metaphysical about this — something about life imitating art, or the fact that I dream about dreams becoming reality, or someone finding purpose to his life through service to someone else's ideas — but it's not that deep. I watched Friday's episode of "Raines" last night, and I'm halfway through JPod.

(Also, in my dream, the guy lived in the alley next to Little's Shoes on Forbes. So maybe I'm just dreaming about shoes...again.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Proof that every kid, no matter how sweet, is a manipulative little twerp

My friend Jessie watched the girls tonight while Scott and I went out for the evening — chamber music played by the Pacifica Quartet and dessert at Gullifty's, a Pittsburgh institution with acceptable food and out-of-this-world desserts. It was wonderful, really wonderful, especially the part when we realized that Janáček's "Intimate Letters" quartet is a stalker piece. (I knew the title referred to love letters he'd written, but didn't know she was 40 years his junior and there were 700 letters over a ten-year period. Creepy. And kudos to the Pacifica for the fabulous interpretation.) And then we came home and saw that the light in Beth's bedroom was still on. At 11:30.

It occurred to us that though we'd given Jessie a quick rundown on Beth's bedtime routine, we'd neglected to mention that she protests being put in her crib every night and yells about it for a good thirty seconds after we've left the room. It's just a protest on principle; she goes to sleep almost immediately. But Jessie didn't know this, and Beth figured it out fast.

Sorry, Jessie. You've been played. By a not-quite-two-year-old.

Sigh. And she'd been so cute earlier in the day. I was feeding Sarah, and Beth was attending to her own important agenda while wearing her piggy ears, and she ended up putting two of Sarah's stuffed animals on their backs on the couch, pulling out two size 1 diapers, and pretending to change the animals' diapers. So cute. Her afternoon snack (airplane-shaped crackers my dad nabbed from his flight last week) was a hit: she polished off the bowl I'd given her and asked for "Mosh airplane crackers please o-kay" in her low-pitched little voice. And when we went to the playground with friends this morning she scaled the slides and then slid down on her tummy over and over again.

Sarah's going to learn how to do the play-the-babysitter thing too, I'm sure. Right now she's sweet and calm and watchful, but she's changing: there's a sobbing quality to her cry that wasn't there a few days ago, and she's less enthralled (and therefore less easily pacified) by her binky than she has been. She has a big sister who can't wait to teach her absolutely everything, and Sarah will soak it up like a sponge.

Friday, March 23, 2007

This just in: farm overrun by kitty cats

My dad's in town, and we both love to shop at outlet malls, so yesterday he and I took the girls up to the outlets at Grove City. It's an hour's drive up there (and right at naptime to boot!) so Beth and Sarah both snoozed on the way up. But once we got there Sarah decided she needed to eat right now! Dad went to get us some lunch, Beth woke up and wanted to know (in a rather panicked little voice) where Grandpa Wes was going, so while I fed Sarah in the front seat Beth and I sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."

We've been singing in the car since Bethie was in utero. The songs have changed a bit over time. I don't bother to sing along with the radio any more, and Beth's Top 40 include "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and "Give, Said the Little Stream." Lately, the more interactive the song is, the better it goes over. She likes to think about what the lyrics should be.

I started with a cow (moo, moo here, moo, moo there, yadda yadda) and then asked her what else was on the farm.


"Okay. What does the kitty cat say?"



Old MacDonald had a farm
And on that farm he had a kitty cat
With a 'meow, meow' here, and a 'meow, meow' there
Here a 'meow'
There a 'meow'
Everywhere a 'meow, meow'
Old MacDonald had a farm
And on that farm he had a..."

"Amon ki'cat!"

"Okay, he had another kitty cat..." and I sang the song again. "And on that farm he had a..."

"Um...mama ki'ee cat!"

"Okay, he had a mama kitty cat..." and I sang the song again. More meows.

"Amon mama ki'cat!"

"Another mama kitty cat? Are you sure?"

"Yes!" I sang it again. And again. She eventually threw in a daddy kitty cat, then went back to mama kitty cats. This lasted until Dad came back with a Subway meatball sandwich for the two adults in the car (Beth had eaten at home) and — glorious! — an Orange Julius for me to split with Beth. She was in heaven. So much for fixing the juice addiction.

We did our tour of the outlet mall. I got some good spring clothes, Beth got way-too-cute summer playclothes (how come khaki cargo shorts with flowers embroidered on the pockets don't come in my size?), and Sarah got attention from absolutely everyone who saw us. ("Oh, Martha, look at the little tiny baby! Aww, isn't she sweet!") Sarah took it in stride. I swear she even posed and batted her eyelashes.

By the time we were headed back to Pittsburgh, Sarah had been fed again and Beth was exhausted. And frantic: she'd emit little yelps of "Out! Out!" and "Up! Up!" in the vain hope that we'd stop the car and let her toddle around. So I started singing "The Wheels on the Bus." I went through the wheels that go round and round, the wipers that go swish swish swish, the people who go up and down, and the babies who go "goo goo goo." Then I asked Beth, "What else is on the bus?"



The money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,
Clink, clink, clink,
Clink, clink, clink.
The money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,
All through the town.

"What else is on the bus, Bethie?"

"'ee cat!"

Here we go again. This went on for miles. I started varying what the mama kitty cats said: less "meow, meow, meow" and more "Wash your paws." Then we switched back to "Old MacDonald" and it it kept going. Kitty cats. Mama kitty cats. More mama kitty cats. (My dad's comment was, "Some tomcat's sure been busy on that farm.") Beth was delighted. So was her grandpa.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Night-night time

Scott usually puts Beth to bed, but we switched kids tonight. I should definitely do this more often, because after we've read books and said prayers and put saline drips in her nose it's prime one-on-one chat time. Here's what I learned about Beth tonight as we chatted:
  1. Her favorite book is Ballerina! by Peter Sís.

  2. She loves Baby Sarah.

    "Why do you love Baby Sarah, Bethie?"

    "Bu'fly mat." The butterfly gymini-type mat is a huge hit with both girls. Beth loves playing on it with Sarah.

  3. She wants to have hair like Mama's when she's older.

  4. Beth loves Mama, Daddy, Baby Sarah, and her two stuffed Pooh bears, "Big Pooh" and "Baby Pooh," both of which, coincidentally, were gifts from Sister Eror at church. (When prompted, she admitted that she also loves her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and her six cousins.)

  5. She's very excited to have her cousin Hannah come visit next weekend.

  6. Her favorite thing that we did today? Play with "Baby Sa'a." Never mind that we went out to lunch with one of my friends, that she got to watch a whole bunch of TV shows (yep, it was one of those days), and that she had strawberries — strawberries! — for dinner. This kid loves her little sister.

I love talking with Bethie. She's such a sweet little girl, such a good conversationalist, such a fun friend. How did I survive before she came along?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I know this will horrify my husband — the guy who likes the drugged-out-and-enigmatic later-years Beatles — but my favorite, favorite Beatles song is "Here Comes the Sun." It just makes me happy. So does actual live sun, so getting outside today after a horrible and tearful morning helped tremendously.

One of these days I'm going to have to compile a blog must: a "100 things I love" list. It isn't going to happen today. But on the list I'll have to put "unexpected sunny days in early spring," "my tandem stroller," and "lunch with friends after storytime."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Potty time

Beth, Beth, the amazing girl Beth! She used the potty yesterday. Actually sat down and waited for a few minutes and then peed right into her little potty.

Okay, so it wasn't exactly a picnic — the whole thing started when she woke up yesterday morning and I was changing her diaper (as she was standing up, insistent girl) and she let a few dribbles onto the floor. Eww. I got another diaper and held it under her, but as soon as I asked, "Do you want to go do this in the potty?" she trotted off to the bathroom quite happily. Yeeha. She got a sticker. She gets a sticker every time she sits on the potty, whether it's a productive sit or not. We've used up a whole row of puffy sea creature stickers this way.

Is every little kid as fascinated with stickers as Beth is? She loves the fact that they, well, stick. She'll stick one onto something — usually her shirt — and then, after a "Look at me!" grin, immediately pull it off and stick it someplace else. Ten minutes later all the stickiness is gone and the poor bedraggled sticker is covered with fibers from clothes, the couch, the carpet and goodness knows what else. These little puffy stickers have taken it especially hard — they're little, for starters, and Beth can't seem to let them go. I don't know if they're so very enchanting because they're puffy and sparkly (could be?) or if it's because she earned them by sitting on the potty.

I'd love to get inside her little head and figure it out, because the things she does that seem weird and random to me apparently make perfect sense to her: the mattress in the doll cradle goes on top of the stuffed animals, for example. Yesterday she climbed up on her stepstool and emptied everything out of the kitchen utensil drawer, starting with the baby spoons and measuring spoons and working through meat thermometers (how did we end up with three of them?), the nutmeg grater, and eventually a bunch of knives that I thought were safely hidden in the back (guess not). She was good about the knives — carefully handed each of them to me with a serious, "Thank you, Mama" — before pulling out the wire organizer baskets at the bottom of the drawer. Okay, I thought, she emptied a drawer. Good for her. Then she trundled off to the living room and brought back Regina the frog princess and one of Sarah's diapers, placed them up on the counter next to the pile of utensils, looked at them all with a pleased little expression on her face, then wandered off to do something else. I was left with the inverse of the Sesame Street puzzle: not "one of these things is not like the others" but "what on earth do these things have in common?" I'm still wondering.

Speaking of...we checked the "Elmo's Potty Time" DVD out of the library last week, and I sat Beth in front of it this morning while I took a shower. It wasn't the same format as Sesame Street, so she was a little weirded out. I watched the very end of it with her. Guess what? It's "brought to you by the letter P and the number 2." Heaven help us.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book tag

I've been tagged! What a great game. I don't even mind being "it." Thanks, Rebecca. Here are the rules:
  1. Find the nearest book to you.

  2. Name the book and author.

  3. Turn to page 123.

  4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page.

  5. Copy out the next 3 sentences and post to your blog.

  6. Tag someone else.
Here goes, then.

From Every Living Thing, by James Herriot:

"This is a condition that often affects neutered toms like your Peter. I'll be able to clear it up with a hormone injection and a course of tablets." Peter didn't stop purring as I inserted the needle under his skin — he was a cat who appreciated any kind of attention — but I noticed that his owners looked a little uneasy.

I love the Herriot books! A
nd I found out a few years ago that my friend Andi actually met their author. Very cool.

Tag, Sarah — you're it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I love Sarah's new hat. And the matching little shoes, which unfortunately didn't make it in the picture. That said...she does bear a striking resemblance to the Super Mario Bros character Toad.

Cute little Toadlet! She's a month old now and starting to be more alert. She's blissfully happy lying on her blanket and watching all the activity around her. She'll squawk if she's hungry or she needs a diaper change, but most of the time she just pays rapt attention to whatever is within range: the ducks and mirror above her swing, Beth trying to push a binky in her mouth, me rubbing noses with her.

We threw Sarah a tiny family one-month birthday party on Sunday. I made cupcakes, which Beth helped me decorate with purple frosting and green sprinkles. Beth had a ball: I'd finish frosting a cupcake, then she'd dump sprinkles on top. Any sprinkles that landed on the kitchen counter were fair game for her to stick her wet little fingers in and lick off. Beth also made Sarah a birthday card. And we sang to her. And then the three of us who can eat solid food enjoyed the cupcakes, and Beth freaked out because the frosting got all over her fingers, and then she kind of got into the groove of having cupcake everywhere, and she started to enjoy herself. Since the birthday girl slept through the whole thing, I'm glad her big sister could have a good time for her.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sticky situation?

Scott sent me the superhero dating quiz from, so it's with his blessing (or at least it's his fault) that I can say I'm apparently compatible with Spider-Man. Now, if only I made a better redhead...that henna experiment in college turned out pretty badly.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Friday, February 09, 2007


The big scaly green-eyed monster reared its hideous head today. I guess it was inevitable, but it's come at the end of such a long and surreal week that I really wasn't sure what to do about it. The grandmas are gone, I still can't drive, and we've had single-digit temperatures all week, so leaving the house and getting a change of scenery hasn't been an option. It's starting to take a toll on the toddler and her mommy. Sarah, of course, is blissfully unaware of any of this.

Beth isn't a princess — at all — she would far rather get her own sippy cup from the fridge than have us bring it to her, and she loves being in the middle of doing things, "helping" Scott and me as we cook and straighten up the house and check our e-mail. And until recently she's been such a good helper with Sarah that I've gotten scarily dependent on it. ("Bethie, we need to change baby Sarah's diaper. Can you bring me one of her tiny diapers? Wow, thanks! What a helper you are.")

Within a few days this cabin-feverish week she's gone from beaming at the praise to saying "No!" when I ask her to bring over the baby wipes or (gasp!) throw away a baby diaper. I haven't made a big deal about it at all — it's my job, not hers, and we both know it. And I've tried to give her lots of extra hugs and kisses and (her favorite, favorite thing) reading time. I think we've read Where's My Teddy? about two dozen times this week. But bit by bit the little jealous creepies are taking hold of her. After her nap today (granted, not her best time of day) when we were sitting and talking and Sarah woke up hungry, and I asked, "Bethie, should we take baby Sarah downstairs with us?" and her answer was a defiant and hurt "Nooooo!" — I just didn't know what to do. I couldn't leave Sarah crying forever, and distracting Beth with promises of snacks and apple juice wasn't working, so I ended up going downstairs to change and nurse the Small One, with Beth sitting pitifully on the top stair crying and saying, "No, no, Mama, no, no, baby Sarah, no, no" over and over.

I feel like such a heel. Beth loves sitting on the top stair and talking with me. Of course I've been second-guessing everything: Why didn't I just nurse Sarah there? Why didn't I try some other form of distracting her, like having her bring Bo the transgender teddy bear downstairs for a stroller ride? We've both been a teary mess today at some point or another (Sarah, amazingly, has had a terrific day). I guess we're both jealous: Beth wants her mommy back, and her mommy wants to be back. Somehow we're going to have to figure this out.

(Oh, and kudos to Margaret for pointing out that there's a feminine precedent for the name Bo — Bo Derek, of course — so we won't have to rechristen the bear. Huge relief.)

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Bethie is learning clapping games! We've tried them a few times, but this week they caught her attention and she's been having a ball. Scott taught her "Pease porridge hot" and "Pat-a-cake," and tonight after prayers, completely unprompted, she started playing pat-a-cake with her teddy bear. Right after the "amen," she started into "pa-cake, pa-cake" and clapped Bo's hands together. After she got to "trow in oven baby and me" she clapped the bear's hands again and said, "Yay Bo!"

Bo, by the way, is undergoing some gender confusion. He started out as a boy bear (Scott, who's in charge of naming stuffed animals around here, named him Beauregarde Q. Bear) and we did just fine in that vein...until a package arrived today from the girls' aunts. Meg and Gigi had found, among other adorable things, matching dresses for a toddler and her doll. Since the doll belonging to the toddler in question is much too small for the dress, it got transferred to Bo — who, by the way, looks just adorable in it.

Maybe a girl needs a bear who'll play tea parties with her, instead of one who'll hide out in the garage talking about table saws with his buddies.