December 29, 2005

My new printer

Santa brought me an HP PSC 1410. It is at the bottom of a nice line of printers who print, scan, and copy (hence the "PSC"). The main differences I could see between it and those higher up the line were in how much paper the input tray could hold at a time, and small differences in speed of printing...and fairly large differences in cost. So far, I love it. It's fairly compact, and setting it up was a breeze. It prints color pictures on plain paper better than my Epson ever did (I printed out some so that I could stop hearing "Mommy, look at pictures!" every time I sat at my computer), and the black-and-white is crisp, too. Copying has been easy, and as advertised, does not require the computer itself.

I've been busy figuring out some work-arounds for the parts of my computing life that are in System 9, that I'd like to print out. Being cheap, I'd rather do that than upgrade software for money if I can help it. The most important one is in Quicken; that's the one document I really, really, really would freak out if I lost (and I was a little worried when my hard drive crashed a while ago, but thanks to Ty I recovered everything. And there was an old back-up on Matt's computer. I just didn't want to have to hand enter five years worth of check registers....) Keeping that incident in mind, the first thing I wanted to print once I again had a reliable printer was that whole time period of the register in the computer.

I was able to export the data from Quicken. I found a freeware program called AbiWord, which has gotten good reviews, to paste the data into. It's not pretty but it's readable (Quicken's fault, not AbiWord's), and it's nice to have a hard copy now. I think I will have fun with AbiWord, too; after the check book, the worst loss from not being able to print from Classic is all my Word documents (most notably, lesson stuff). This new program *looks* like Word and *acts* like Word--as far as I can tell from our brief acquaintance and its online reviews--but it's open source, cross-platform, and did I mention it's free?

Anyway, not being one to do things by halves, I opened up this 164 page document in AbiWord to see how it'd do. It did what I wanted, but sloooooowly. I haven't figured out how to fix that, although Word would likely have a similar problem, though perhaps not quite so slow. I'm also not sure how much I care, though, since now that I have my Master's, and have done the stoopid portfolio for my shiny new license type (that is now not required--argh.), I can't imagine needing to print out this much at any one time (after today). As I type, the new printer is humming along: 2005 is long since safe on paper, and it's up to 2001 (I didn't mention, but it collates, too.)

December 28, 2005

One more free thing

Electric blanket, twin size, dark green. Worked just fine 9 years ago
(and should still...it's just been in a box.)

Free Stuff

Even before Christmas, we had a pile of stuff that kept growing 'til I
had time to "Freecycle" it. Now, more than ever, it's time to clean
out the old hobbit hole. Let me know if you want any of this stuff
within the next week, and I'll set it aside for you until we connect.

Epson Stylus Color 600 inkjet printer. I took this apart to clean it,
and, well, I never put it back together (I *did* clean it, though).
It's kind of a bear to do, although the directions (complete
schematics) are online (I can tell you where to find them). Other than
having to put it together, this is a great deal: it comes with two sets
of cartridges, AND a refill kit for both kinds (color and black). Its
print quality I would class as "acceptable" (though that might be
because it needed cleaning). A caveat for Mac people: it won't work
with OSX because it only has an Apple Talk connector, not USB.

HP DeskWriter 600. It needs something, possibly just a new cartridge.
Sometimes it will do up to six or so pages in a row, then stop one
third of the way down the page with a "cartridge cannot move" error
(even though the cartridge CAN move). When it prints, it's really high
quality for an inkjet. Again, won't work with OSX.

Keyspan USB Twin Serial Adapter: If you're a Mac person, and you want
one of the printers, take this handy (though expensive!) contraption
off my hands: though you'll still have to use OS9, it lets you connect
AppleTalk devices to your USB ports.

UMax FireWire Scanner. I have the OS9 software for it. The b------s
at UMax aren't supporting OSX, but you can buy software to make it work
with OSX for around $50. It's always worked just fine. Since I have
an OSX ready printer/scanner now, I just don't need it.

Broken glider rocker. The glider mechanism works o.k., but one of the
pins?rods?bolts? that hold the glider part to the chair part broke off.
Cushions are faded green/brown/cream plaid.

Stereo system: two speakers, radio and tape decks work. CD was *very*
temperamental but worked last time (8 years ago?) I tried it. Never
tried the turntable; it does spin, but I'm sure it needs a new needle.
Speakers some times cut in and out; probably needs a good cleaning on
the inside around the volume control area.

Tubing and all the gear for hospital-style double breast pump (but not
the electric pump itself, though there is a manual one included here).
You're not supposed to reuse these for more than one person,
supposedly, but what a waste; they got used, I think, twice in the
hospital, never since. I've boiled them, too.

Some firewood; perhaps a normal fireplace's (top to bottom, side to
side) worth? It's not tons, but it's pine and a little maple. Been
out in the elements for one and 3/4 years.

If I think of anything else, I'll post it here.

Christmas, Days 3 and 4

Well, I never would have guessed it, but there was singing at the Moore
family Christmas. We even went and caroled for a few neighbors. It
was nice to have something to focus on besides food and gifts, and
thanks to my Aunt Barb, we have the grown-up gifts covered for 2006 (a
family calendar, with each family contributing one+ months worth of
illustrations, events, etc.)

The only jarring note was that Emily has not been her usual sunny self
the last few days. She does have a good reason, though: her second
tooth showed up sometime Christmas night. Given the need, Matt has
found a better way to get Tylenol into her than I was using.
Hallelujah!

We saw Julie last night for dinner. Though quieter, of course, than in
years past, it was nice to get caught up a little bit.

And that concludes our official family Christmas-ing, though of course
there's more visiting to be done. I'm also hoping to finally get to
watch the DVD versions of Star Wars (the original ones: 4-6). Matt
decreed that he wanted to see them, too, so as a matter of honor and
fidelity (high), I haven't seen them since we haven't managed a time to
do it together. They were a birthday present. My birthday's in March.
I think it might be time....before my birthday rolls around again.

December 25, 2005

Christmas, Day 2

It's true: sometimes, the best gifts aren't under the tree. Without
going into too many details, last night's festivities were made MUCH
happier because someone in his family gave Matt the gift of......peace.
As a result, both of had fun. At least, as much as we could with an
insane toddler, anyway.

We tried, we really, really tried, but Laura would not go to sleep
yesterday for a nap at her usual time. She finally fell asleep about a
half an hour before we had to leave; usually, waking her up at that
point leads to a really lousy evening, but fortunately church and
relatives distracted her from grumpiness. (She did get to help with the
manger scene at church, and aside from playing for a while with one of
the stuffed sheep, did a great job [she eyed the baby Jesus dolly in
the manger for a looong time...I was sure he was going to get burped,
or even fed, but she let him sleep.])

The lack of sleep eventually took its toll, however, and she was
basically bananas by the time we were halfway through the tree. Nobody
died--or even got hurt, as far as I know--so all's well that ends well.
She slept in for a while this morning, and she's asleep again now.
Rest will help!

Emily was her usual flirty self, happy to be passed around to new and
old faces alike, as long as they were looking at her. I have noticed
that she absolutely hates going to sleep when there are people to see
(I think she missed two naps in a row yesterday afternoon and evening.
Did she care? Nah. She just conked out about the time the buckles on
her car seat clicked together.) That would be our extroverted child.
I guess it's nice to have a set; just like having both salt and pepper.

This morning we elected to forego church (especially as there was no
child care today), in favor of putting together toys. I've also been
taking the pre-emptive step, recommended by others who share my rants
about loud toys, of putting clear tape over speakers while Laura's
somewhere else. I don't think she'll care, but I know I will! Now I'm
off to try the printer Santa brought me (thank you, Santa! It's just
the model I asked for!), and maybe do a few things to prepare for
tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, all. We feel very blessed this year, and hope you do,
too.

December 24, 2005

Christmas, Day 1

In just a few hours, we'll officially start Christmas. First up is
church, for the family Christmas Eve service. I can't predict what the
Vic may do, but last year she had a short sermon involving all the
children and some plastic animal toys. I've been promising Laura that
we'll be singing some Christmas songs, too.

After that, we're off to Matt's mom's house for his family's
celebration (and dinner).

Day 2 will involve our tree here, maybe church again (we'll see!), and
'Mah!' coming over for a casual dinner.

Day 3 is A Very Moore Christmas, here. I'm hoping music will become a
new tradition for us...we have a lot of talent in my family, and seldom
get to share it with each other. If we can convince anybody to sing,
I've got the carols all copied.

Day 4 is our day to be with Julie.

And on the fifth day...we rest (or see some of our wandering friends
:-) ).

Last night, we went over to Ross and Tamara's (and Molly's, as Laura
points out), for dessert and goodies and a good time. Laura decided
she likes the "other Hallelujah song" (it's that little ditty by
Handel... ;-) ), to which she danced for our amusement. I am impressed
by her ear for music, since she recognized the Mannheim Steamroller
version of it this morning (last night's was a classic choral
arrangement). When we got home, she cried and said "go back Ross and
Tamara's!", so I think she had a good time, as did we.

December 23, 2005

We dig, dig, dig the whole day through

O.K., it didn't take all day. Yesterday Matt and I each took some
action to try to keep the basement dry (the spider closet and nursery
have remained dry since we fixed the front downspout so it doesn't
connect to the street).

I went out and looked at the main back downspout Wednesday night, and
realized it needed more help; the plastic doesn't leak (except where
the two pieces of it connect), but it was on ground that sloped up a
bit. So, with my trusty shovel I dug a small trench for the tubing and
nestled it lovingly into it (actually, I shoved it with my foot; it was
raining at the time.) One nice thing about doing this sort of thing in
the elements is that we can always check our work: I saw the flow of
water increase quite a bit once the spout was level. Seeing how much
there was, I decided to extend the trench a bit to give all that water
a place to drain...I'll just plant something in front of the two-foot
long dip in the spring; it's in my herb garden anyway. Maybe mint.
Since I was moving all that dirt (mud) anyway, I sort of dammed up the
trench on the house side of the join in the pieces of plastic; that way
all the leakage will go towards my woman-made lake rather than the
house.

Step two was Matt's job: moss removal. While I was out mucking around,
I noticed what looked like moss growing on the lip of our roofed
gutters, just above the problem area. It wasn't all that much, but
when it pours, *any* barrier there will make the water spill over where
it shouldn't. He cleaned out as much as he could without standing on a
ladder, and we'll do more when the ground dries out.

Here's hoping these two things will fix it, 'cause dammed (heh) if I
can think of anything else we can do.

December 22, 2005

More water...

We got a little more water in behind the washer in the basement this
afternoon; it did really pour for a bit. I went out and cleared both
downspouts (leaves had collected a little at both of them), and tried
to fix the slope a bit on the southeast corner one....water won't run
uphill, usually. On the up side (har), that particular area of the
basement is still not a big deal for water--it's just bare cement (and
having the furnace and the dryer both down there effectively
counteracts mold forming--especially the furnace, since it really dries
the air). Also, the drain works now! Yay!

We're going to get our Christmas cards out just under the wire this
year. I had an "interesting" experience trying to get our family
wallet photos with Snapfish, which slowed us down (to be fair, I got a
full refund and some credits; they get full points for trying, though
not, alas, for speed!) And my insistence that all lettered members of
the household sign for themselves makes it take longer, too. But hey,
we think you're worth a little extra care! Anyway, if we love you (and
have your snail mail), they're on the way soon.

There is no Christmas letter; I just couldn't do it this year. I know
there are acceptable ways to write about losing a loved one, but if
just writing this makes me tear up (and it does), imagine what looking
at such words over and over as I stuffed envelopes would do.
Obviously, I'm not done "processing" through the grief yet, however
quiet I might usually be on the subject. Maybe next year we'll do one
again. Meanwhile, at least there's this blog to entertain you.

Laura still doesn't go for the Play-Doh. Today, one of the open
canisters got upended, and she refused to pick up the Doh itself that
had fallen out. She did try, but then backed away suspiciously and
absolutely refused to pick it up. I'm guessing she's a little creeped
out by the texture....Not being all that thrilled about rescuing it
from the floor myself, a Temporary Play-Doh Moratorium has been
enacted: she can play with the canisters all she wants, but Mommy's
not taking the lids off for a while. Laura seems disappointed but not
heartbroken with this development.

The best news: Matt's finally on Winter Break! We're excited to get
caught up with all those we haven't seen in a while, and maybe even
sneak in one or two quiet nights at home. He's free for a literal
twelve days, so in our house, Christmas can now officially begin.
Bring on the pear tree!

December 20, 2005

iPod

At last, Matt's speechies have given him his holiday present, so I
don't have to keep their secret anymore: they gave him an iPod. It's
the new kind with video capabilities, that holds 30 gigs.

This sort of thing is a definite advantage to having a huge team. And
on his behalf, thanks, Speechies! I know he'll love having it!

December 19, 2005

A bit better....

The laundry pile has abated a bit, though Emily did her part to add to
it today (and the feather pillow is just going to have to wait;
contrary to the labels, it IS possible--even feasible--to wash feather
pillows at home, but drying takes a while and HAS to be done right away, or mustiness develops.) I listened
to the furnace guy's report while holding a burp rag (and Emily) in
front of the wide swath of my chest she had just blurped all over. I
don't know if he noticed, and I suppose it's a sign of my status in
mom-hood that really, I don't care!

Speaking of which: the furnace cover is *not* just jiggling loose; he
said it's not very likely. On the up side, if resetting it by opening
and closing the cover works for us (if the same thing happens in the
future), he said there's no particular danger in going ahead and
running the furnace (basically, if it runs, it's safe; it's usually the
safety features that keep them from running in the first place.) He
fixed the one thing that required no parts--cleaning out something like
a flame-recognizer?--and said that was one of three things that might
have been wrong. So if it's one of the other two, it'll happen again,
and we'll probably be out some bucks to fix it. Personally, I can
handle spending money (not that I *want* to!) ; it was the worry that
we'd all die in our beds that got to me. I know it's irrational, and I
still just viscerally hate natural gas. So I feel better now, though
who knows if it's fixed...I guess time will tell.

In other news, I was called for jury duty for tomorrow, but I deferred
it (for what I think are fairly obvious reasons: not only am I a
nursing mother, but Matt's not out of school until Thursday). At least
in this county, though, there's no acknowledgment that they've gotten
your little card begging to defer, so I called today. And called. And
called. The second try on the second phone number actually got me a
person, who said the person really in charge wasn't there; they did
take a message, and the PIC did get back to me. So the secret to
finding out what day you've deferred to is to call them up and make
sure you *have* deferred; she was nice enough to let me know I'm up on
July 7th without me even asking. I can handle doing my civic duty
then.

Since we were sort of stuck on one floor of the house today (lying in
wait for the furnace guy...it's *very* hard to hear the door when we're
in the nursery), I broke into the Play-Doh Laura got for her birthday.
She had never played with it before, and I just have to share the
lesson I was reminded of today while watching her.

I took the lid off one of the containers, got out the Doh, smooshed it
down to show her how it worked, and used one of her Play-Doh cutters to
show her how she could make a 5! Out of Doh!

I asked if she wanted to do it. "No. Mommy put back in container."
Hmm. O.K., it's your toy, babe. She then brought me each of the other
colors (there are four in this set), had me take the lid off, looked
inside, noted the color ("Lellow!"), and said, "Mommy put lid on."

She spent the rest of her time with them today stacking the containers,
arranging them neatly in a row here and there, having me remove and
replace the lids--often stopping in between to shake the contents from
side to side, and pretend "eat" from them--and repeating the colors.
Never did she remove the Play-Doh from its canisters, though I think
she poked it experimentally with a finger once or twice.

So what lesson did I learn? Well, of course there's "to each his own",
but what I was thinking of was the full enjoyment of whatever life
gives us for fun. If she ever gets around to the Doh itself, it will
just be the icing on the cake!

December 18, 2005

The Amazing Emily, Now Performing

Our baby's hobby is creating laundry.

She and Laura both have colds, and it looks like her next tooth is
arriving soon. Since we got and decorated our tree yesterday, I got a
little behind, and today was one of those days (both Emily and I got
extra bathing in tonight. In a word: Ick. I wish there were some way
to get the Tylenol inside the relevant part of me, so it could just be
mixed with her food. I could handle the shot! Joe? Robyn? Is this
possible?!?) So I'll get back to you when the clothes--and
bedding--and pillows--and towels--that she's polluted are all taken
care of.

I've got to admit: for someone so small, she's got amazing abilities.
I just wish she'd apply them to some other hobby.

December 15, 2005

Thought for the Day

The other morning, we were sitting at breakfast, and the topic somehow
got to diapers and what goes in them. (N.B.: In case you don't have
children, this is not all that unusual...Sorry.)

So I was explaining to Laura that, like the book says, "Everybody
Poops." In fact, I noted, warming to my subject, it's part of being
alive. Even plants poop!

Matt said, "Wow. Right now, we're *breathing* plant poop!"

So. Take a nice, deep breath. Feels good, doesn't it? [in the
background, swelling music becomes clearer; it's "Circle of Life" from
_The Lion King_ "It's the cirrrrcle....the circle of liiiiife."]

Brrrr!

This morning, for the second time in about a month and a half, our
furnace inexplicably shut off. Matt went down, popped the cover off,
put it back on, and all is well. It reminded me, though, that we
hadn't had our annual free checkup this year (the summer was a little
busy!) So to be safe (we do sleep in the basement, after all), I
called Northwest Natural to schedule one.

The first available date was Jan. 25th. Hmmm. If there's something
really wrong, that's too long to wait. So, I talked to a human,
explained the issues, and they'll be out Monday (for free, unless we
need a replacement part). Hopefully it's just the cover wiggling
loose, but I hate messing with gas, and this way we'll *know*.

It seems to be the year for it, but also hopefully this is the third
and last thing of the "coming in threes" things: first the water
heater, then the brakes on the Camry (I didn't mention them, but that
was about three weeks ago; fixed now. New rear rotors and pads.), now
the furnace.

I must say, after setting that date, it occurred to me that I can come
up with at least five places nearby, without thinking hard, where we
could camp out in a pinch if we needed to shelter somewhere warm.
Thanks for being there! (and we'll call if you need to get out the
sleeping bags...)

December 13, 2005

SNOW DAY!!

Actually, it was ice. In any event, it was totally unexpected; Matt
was already getting dressed before we saw the little blinking light
indicating a voice mail had been left. At that point, it was just a
delay, later changed to no school.

Woohoo!

As we told Laura, "We get Daddy home all day, and it's not even the
weekend." (and in case you think it's terrible that a teacher--or even
two teachers--would rejoice in a snow day, let me tell you that it was
a teacher of *mine* who taught her whole class the lyrics to "Let It
Snow", and told us that if we all sang it outside in our yards that
night, maybe it would snow the next day....)

We definitely seized the day. We cleaned; I made bread; we invited Ty
and Jonah and Elisha over; the toddlers played; the babies slept; the
men talked computers. Laura and I each got a good nap. We--all four
of us, which is kind of a dog-and-pony show--went to two stores after
naps.

We are now needing another day off, just to recover!

December 12, 2005

Toothsome Similes...

Like Kilimanjaro rising about the plains....

Like a white Ford Aspire edging around a triple-trailer semi on the
freeway...

Like Jack Torrance's axe chopping through the bathroom door in _The
Shining_...

Like a piece of cheese placed crookedly in a sandwich, sticking out
over the edge of the bread...

Emily's first tooth has made its official appearance.

December 11, 2005

Weekend roundup

As I sit here snacking on leftover shrimp, cream cheese, and crackers
from the CIMmers do, it occurred to me that I hadn't updated the blog
on our weekend.

Before I do that, I want to apologize to everybody I owe emails to.
Very fortunately, the *vast* majority of you read the blog. So that
helps. I do find that most of my time to write ends up going here, and
I have noticed that what was a trickle of mail I managed to keep up has
now dried up almost completely. We all know what the road to Hell is
paved with, so I'm making no promises to change; but do know that it
makes me sad. On the other hand, I think I end up keeping in touch a
lot better this way. On the other, other hand, life is generally all
happy and frisky here on the blog, and that is not always *really* the
case at home (and there are some things I can't write about, due to
confidentiality ethics. Often those are also not happy or frisky.).
On the other, other, other hand, isn't it more fun to read about
positive things most of the time? :-)

Friday, two of my very favorite people came to visit: my Aunt Barb and
Uncle Charles (they are not married to each other, but brother and
sister, each with their own spouse). Charles was in town from his home
in upstate New York, and they had a few hours, so they got to come hang
out with the girls and me for the afternoon (bringing lunch, too.
Yum.) We had fun marveling over our gene pool, discussing children,
and trying to track down an auncient album of A.A. Milne poetry set to
music (it is out of print, to say the least, and unavailable except
perhaps on a lucky eBay day.) Emily was in great form, and when Laura
eventually awoke to join us, she did unusually well, too. (We lured
her with a book: I gave Charles the one she'd been asking for a lot
lately; she started in the furthest corner of the couch away from him,
but as he read, got closer and closer and closer so she could point
things out to him on the pages. I always knew books would be her
downfall!) All in all, it was a great afternoon. I want more!

Saturday we finished the Christmas shopping, decorated a little, and
betook ourselves off to the Davisons for the CIMmers thing. The
CIMmers (I'm not even sure that's the unofficial name anymore) are a
small group of Sprague-eys (or former Sprague-eys, in my case), who are
all sort of the same age and generation in terms of when they started
teaching (and having to deal with the CIM). To further cement our
bond, four of us all had children (Liam, Jonah, Marc, and Laura, in
that order) the same calendar year, which constituted a minor Baby
Boom. So, we try to meet and get the kids together when we can,
especially at the holidays (we--the Ogles--missed last year, which
meant I hadn't seen some folks for two years. Too long!) Those baby
booms are all toddlers now, and it was a lot of fun watching them play
together. Of course, Laura spent a lot of time by herself instead of
following the boys around; that's my little introvert. I must say it
is nice to be around a group that has pretty much all read the Harry
Potter books, mostly likes the Lord of the Rings (books and movies),
and doesn't think I'm a freak for being able to quote the first three
Star Wars movies verbatim (rather, they encourage and compete with me
at it!) Though we met at Sprague, I think it is more these things that
keep me in the gang now. Thanks to Ty and Erin for hosting us all!

Ho ho home free!

I'm smugly satisfied to announce that I'm done Christmas shopping (another way DSL has changed my life; I did most of it via the Internet). I mention it not so much to brag, but in wonderment: I don't think I've ever been done this many days before any gatherings before. I might pick up a few things at Toys 'R' Us (we have to return something anyhow), but my actual list is done. Now, the wrapping is another matter....

Another way technology's impacted me lately is that I've tried RSS. That's Really Simple Syndication, but I'd never really heard a simple explanation of what it was, so I finally just tried installing it. Very nice.

If you don't know, it's essentially a program that searches your favorite web sites for you (no clicking required; mine does it automatically whenever I start the program), and provides you with any updated information that appears there. So far, different web sites will give you different information; with some blogs, you get the whole text of whatever someone's written. Others just give you the first few lines, and some sites (kgw.com) give you just a headline. It saves time for me, since I don't have to actually go to each site to see if it's been updated (and half the time with news sites, I just want to check the headlines anyway).

The one I tried is Net NewsWire Lite, a freeware program for the Mac. (If you want to try it, scroll down to the very bottom of that page to find the free version.)

December 7, 2005

The Five-Second Rule

Ty and Jonah and Elisha came over to play today, and we all (the Ogles,
at least) had a good time.

Among other things, we discussed the ten-second rule (or, more
accurately, I guess, the five-second rule). Ty suggested it'd be a
good blog topic, and as a loyal reader, I'm willing to humor him (send
your topics today! Be tomorrow's lucky winner!).

If you're not familiar with it, it says basically that when you drop
things you plan to eat, if they are retrieved within that brief window,
it's still o.k. to get them from the floor and eat them. (The
discussion here centered on "O's", which are constantly being dropped
by toddlers. Mostly mine.)

I remembered reading that somebody had done research (Google it and it
comes right up :-) ) about this rule, and here, to save you research
time, is the gist:

Bad news: if there's something really nasty on the ground, any amount
of time is enough for contamination to occur. This is much more likely
either if the floor is wet (and has been for a bit), or if what you
drop is especially sticky (peanut butter and jelly...face down).

Good news: most dry floors aren't that dirty, at least in terms of
bacterial levels. Probably because bacteria like damp, wet, ooky
places (sponges, anyone?); deny them moisture, deny them life!

More good news: people who study disease have figured out that,
especially in your own home, especially when you're a toddler, down
around on the floor all day, you're not going to get anything new and
different that you haven't been exposed to already just by picking up
food off the floor. Your toys are down there. Your (tasty) feet are
down there. Your water bottle is rolling around down there somewhere.
So isolating your food is basically pointless (and unjust) segregation,
outlawed by the Supreme Court in the little-known but ground-breaking
Cheerio Decision of 1968. If you're going to get some bacterial nasty
from your local environment, you're probably going to get it regardless
of where your food has been...and you're not especially likely to in
the first place, if only you keep things a little arid.

.......
The toddlers also did some sharing, practiced the "trade" maneuver for
toys, and played a very little chase. Laura enjoyed showing off her
yoga moves (a funny: Laura says and does "Downward Dog." Jonah
Assumes the same Position (which could also accurately be called "Moon
the Moon") and says "Woof, woof!")

Elisha and Emily even got a little face time, trading smiles: "Hey,
that's a baby! She's cute! I must drool now!" (I can't really speak
for Elisha, but I'm fairly sure that's what Emily was thinking.)

......
I am far, far behind in reporting on books I've read, but alas, my time
for today is almost up. I can, however, tease you with titles:
"Living Out Loud", by Anna Quindlen. "The Truth", by Al Franken.
"Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House." And one of
these days, as God is my witness, I'm going to finish the 9/11 report
(I started it the day it came out, and got about 80 pages
in...gripping. But I got distracted shortly thereafter and have yet to
get back to it. Maybe over Christmas; it can't be less cheerful than
Martin Gilbert's "The Holocaust", which I often re-read around then
just to remind me how good life is. Superb book, by the way; full of
first-person witnesses' accounts, as well as scrupulous research and
reasoned commentary. It always makes me cry, and resolve to do more
good in the world, to put it simplistically.)

Finally, a Day Without "Rain"

Yay! Emily wore the same outfit all day yesterday! (This may not
sound exciting to you, in which case, you are not someone who does our
laundry.)

She *is* still teething, though, and that doesn't help. Monday, she
got two baths. The first one was occasioned by time and grime; the
second....well, let's just say the attempt to medicate her for her
teeth didn't turn out well (the medication was successfully
administered, eventually. And the second bath apparently "took".).

Some days, we all teethe together; Laura's still growing her baby teeth
(and chewing determinedly on things), and believe it or not, I'm almost
35 and I still have all my wisdom teeth (seems like that's a rarity
anymore). One of them's been "cutting in" for the last month of so.
If nothing else, it helps remind me how annoying it is to teethe (and
no, I have no big plans to have them out. According to dentists,
there's plenty of space for them: I have a big mouth. I can hear you
laughing. Shut up. Really. Or else. I feel like biting anyway....)

December 5, 2005

The Inquisition, What a Show...

Laura does not wake up well (neither do I...Matt and Emily are both the
annoying sort who roll out of bed all happy and ready to greet the day.
Ugh.)

She's been asking, on and off, for us to sing songs she hears in church.

This morning, as I was getting her up. I was greeted with a VERY
demanding, toddler directive: "SING HALLELUJAH!"

Not liking the tone much, I told her she'd have to ask nicely.

No dice.

"SING HALLELUJAH!"

*"SING HALLELUJAH!"*

I called out to Matt, who was in the next room, that it was a bit like
having the Spanish Inquisition in our house.

Of course, nobody expected that, either....

December 4, 2005

Book Blitz

We went on another of our hair-raising library raids today; they close
at 5, we arrived around 4:35, and scurried. I needed to get out of the
house (it had been a week!), and had books due, and books on hold, and
I also thought it'd be a good idea for Laura to have a fresh crop. My
idea was right, since when we got home, she upended her bag o' books
and we had to drag her away, forty minutes later, to eat dinner.

Emily took her maiden voyage in her new car seat, and did just fine.
Of course, inserting the child into the car is tougher on a different
part of the back than the infant seat was, but at least we know we're
set until it's time for a booster. She "christened" it immediately;
that's what we get for filling her up before each journey, I guess (it
was only a little, fortunately).

The only problem we have now is that, without the infant seat, we don't
have a stroller that would be remotely comfortable for her (mostly, we
just stayed home when Laura was at this stage. Now, however, it's the
holidays and that just doesn't seem likely). She's kind of heavy to
just lug around in our arms, out in the world, where there aren't handy
arm chairs all over the place. Solution: keep the infant seat in the
trunk, keep the handy wire stroller attachment for same in the trunk,
and voila! a stroller. She's grown enough that her head isn't really
*quite* safe in the infant seat in the car--that's why we upgraded--but
she still fits side-to-side, and I figure she's still safe enough to be
driven around on foot (safer, probably, than in our other strollers!)

Matt/Daddy was welcomed home this morning, and he is DONE with speech
tournaments until January. It's a good time for a break.

December 3, 2005

1984 in 2005

An oft-heard conversation in our house:

Ginger: Let's go change the baby.
Laura: Time change Miss EM AH LEE!

[Diaper change proceeds... Approximately halfway through:]
L: Could be Nekkid BABY!
G: Yep.
L: Mommy, zorbit her!
G: You think I should zorbit her?
L: Yeah!
G: O.K.

[Diaper on, shirt off, Emily is thoroughly zorbited.]
G. Would *you* [to Laura] like some zorbits?
L. Noooooo. Mommy zorbit *her*.
G. Are you sure?
L. [slowly and clearly, as if speaking to an idiot]
Mommy....zorbit....Emily!

For some reason, this always makes me think of the Thought Police
breaking Winston in _1984_, until he cries, "Do it to Julia! Do it to
Julia!"

The Grandma Parade

Yesterday, I was planning to report a banner day once Laura was down:
Emily wore the same outfit all day! But alas, in the time between her
bath at 6:15 (it had to be *after* the bath, of course) and Laura going
down around 7:30, she defiled three.

So I thought I'd write about something funny I'd noticed. My children,
through no fault of their own, have a lot of grandmas (mostly because
of my side of the family; Matt's only responsible for one!) This is no
problem; Laura's smart enough to know grandmas are the cat's meow, and
when the girls get older, I'm not too worried about explaining them
all, since they'll be surrounded by people whose grands are half
step-grands (gotta love those crazy Baby Boomers!). If anyone notices
the bounty, they'll probably just be jealous.

It's the language that makes it funny.

In the beginning was "Mah!" Mostly, this applied to my mother, but
very quickly Laura realized there was another Mah, in the form of
Grandma Pat. They were both Mah! for a while.

Then she noticed Grandma Julie. This was the tipping point; she
realized there were too many people with the same name, so my mother
got Mah back, and everyone else was Grandma ______.

And then she added *my* grandma to the mix, Grandma Jan. And then *we*
(the "grown ups") were talking about my mother one day, mentioned her
as Grandma, and needed to specify. Laura wouldn't know her name, so we
said "Grandma Mah," and she knew just who we meant.

What's so funny about this is that, naturally, it sounds like
"Grandmama"--visions of pinafores, pressed linens, _The Princess
Diaries_, etc.--and that is SOOOOO not my mother. She is the last
person on the face of the Earth (except perhaps a male...) to fit that
appellation. Oh, well...it's sticking for now.

November 30, 2005

An endless loop...

I haven't written much lately, since when I look back on my days all I
seem to remember are endless loads of laundry (eventually today, I just
quit counting how many outfits Emily spit up on, and instead spent some
time rearranging her stuff so the currently fitting clothes are more
accessible. It seems like I just did that...they do grow quickly!) In
case you're wondering, I think it's mostly just a situational thing; if
I only had one child, I'd probably rescue the clothes more of the time.
Also, she's been eating a LOT more lately, and probably has some
slight over-indulgence related indigestion. This, too, shall pass.
But it doesn't make for entertaining reading--or writing.

In spite of my ragged memory, we have been occupied in other ways. I
agreed to be the coordinator for people doing stuff at church: readers,
ushers, coffee hours hosts. The Vic billed it as possible to do in
between children, as long as I have internet access; most of the
arrangements take place via email, which we all know I can do. I think
they're trying to lighten some of the load on the office staff (of
one!), in lieu of a deserved raise. We all do what we can. My only
real fear is that I'll be expected to fill in if I can't find somebody,
and since we already pretty much go when we can (without killing
ourselves Sundays when Matt got home at 2:00 that morning after a
tournament), that's just not going to happen. I don't mean to sound
negative; I'm actually glad to have something I can do to help--I
volunteered a little bit when Laura was younger--without schlepping the
kiddos anywhere.

Monday, I spent about an hour and a half arranging Matt's speech
H.U.G.G.s (Holiday Un-Identified Gift Givers--credit, as far as I know,
for the acronym, goes to Eric Q., one of our Gresham speechies--Secret
Santas having been deemed too religion-specific [don't blame me, I
didn't make that decision!]) It wouldn't have taken me so long, but he
does have a *very* large team this year--I didn't count, since I wanted
to go to bed, but I'm guessing around 35 kids. I lost the bid to
include myself on the list, alas.

If anybody wants to be *my* Secret Santa, just start sending me stuff.
Chocolate is always appreciated. ;-)

In other news, that day they warned me about came today: the day the
weaned toddler wants back a piece of the action. I did what the books
I've read suggest, which is to say, "Sure. Climb aboard!" Also
predictably, once she knew it was available, she wasn't remotely
interested; I think she just wanted a snuggle (and had been talking
about the process with her dollies a lot today). She did stick around
for a long time in the rocker, and I offered to feed her bear, too.
She thought that was a good idea (he ate as much as she did, which is
to say: nothing. But we burped him anyway.) So, whew!

November 26, 2005

Japanese Drug

The Japanese are taking over the world. I'd say it was revenge for the
Opium wars, but those were mostly in China.

In our house, this takeover comes in the form of Su-Do-Ku puzzles, to
which we have both rapidly become addicted. How rapidly? Well, I
started doing them when the Oregonian started printing them, just to
see if I liked them. Now I do them even before the crossword (which is
saying something, since I'm a Word Person and these just involve
numbers.)

Turns out Matt's been watching me do them and wanted to try them, so on
Thanksgiving, I made the Supreme Sacrifice and let him do the puzzle.
By today, he was making a little grid and copying the puzzle onto it so
we could BOTH do it (which we did.)

While it's not like we *needed* something else to occupy our time, at
least they say puzzles can help stave off degenerating brain diseases.
And Laura looks at the puzzles and starts counting from one (ending not
with ten, but with the number after: "Goodjob!")

Thanksgiving

Our "turkey day" was nice. We went up to my Aunt Barb's, and mostly
people watched Laura play and drew straws to see who could hold Emily
next (I think she made the rounds pretty well).

Laura enjoyed showing off how flexible she is (with no prompting),
which was particularly toddler-ish since she was wearing a dress: while
standing up, she can put her head behind her ankles. This is why she
wears tights! I know soon she will be at that stage I see a lot at
church; the elbows get wrapped in the skirt, then are lifted up to
flash the world.

Speaking of church, we're going this Sunday, and it's a good thing.
Laura's been saying for the last week, "Go church. Sing Allelu God."
I think she likes the music. (Particularly remarkable since she only
gets to be IN church from Communion on; but I think she's finally
enjoying the nursery, too.)

November 22, 2005

Minor Reflections

Lately I've really been noticing the things Laura does to emulate both
of us (especially me, since I'm around all the time.) Full disclosure:
in addition to the cute things I'm about to mention, she does, of
course, sometimes scream "NO!" at her dollies. But not very often,
which I guess is fairly true to life.

She takes good care of her little friends, including the smallest--her
little plastic Mega-Blocks characters--and the largest--a giant Pooh
Bear, recumbent. She often picks them up, soothes them, tells them,
"It's ooooooooookay", holds them gently on her shoulder, closes her
eyes, and sways with them as she stands. Occasionally while doing
this, she looks at me with a slightly disdainful expression; I'm
guessing this is how I look when I'm wearing my silent, "Please don't
wake the baby! She's been fussing!" look.

Of course, she tries to feed them, too, and what's especially funny
about that is that she has trouble holding up her shirt at the same
time as she's holding them to her chest. She hasn't figured out that
it's a lot easier if you're sitting down! Of course, after, they must
be burped. Then fed again. She tends to narrate this part, though not
the part when she's soothing them down to sleep.

Since she's hit the language explosion age, she's become quite the
little parrot, and I hear some of my phrases coming back to me often.
With books: "Let's see!" To requests: "Just a sec-ant." Before
dinner: "Hot 'tuff, comin' through!" And, my favorite, to Fiona cat:
"She's a baaaad kitty!"

November 20, 2005

Emily WRAAAAAAHR!

We survived having Daddy gone Friday and Saturday just fine, although I think I've figured out how single parents must manage with babies: Somebody's gonna cry.

Actually, my mother came over by prearrangement for a little while on Friday, and that helped me keep up with things. (Instead of just surviving until Matt returned to help pick up the pieces; a much better system, this.) Both children were reasonably cooperative both days, though I hope Emily is teething.

I say "hope" because if it's not teething, it's something else. Judging by the way it comes and goes, though, and the amount of time she's been alive, and when Laura started doing exactly the same sorts of things...I'm pretty sure. Among other things, she has taken to expressing herself without resorting to crying; she growled at Tamara the other day, and all Tamara did was smile at her! Laura says, "Emily WRAAAAAHR!", and that is about right. Happily, she seems to have a sunny disposition in between bouts of tummy discomfort, mouth pain, and resultant hunger from both.

Laura gives me something to look forward to; on days when she, too, hurts around the gum area, she's now able to stop chewing on things long enough to say, "Lawabee med-cine" or even "Lawabee Tywenol". The drugmakers should pay us for the free advertising (not to mention the profits. And yes, I have checked with our doc about how often the kid gets meds, since there are times when it seems like all day, every day. It isn't, though. And fortunately Emily's too young to mind Laura "borrowing" some of her chew toys for a while.)

In spite of the lovely weather, which makes me yearn to be outside, pulling weeds out of the garden and dumping maple and other leaves in as mulch in preparation for the spring, I am staying indoors as much as I can until that darn "inversion" thing goes away and the pollution level drops. I hate that. But it's better than wasting a day in bed recovering, so I'll just say thanks to the weather forecasters for letting us know about it. Hmph.

November 18, 2005

Books Laura Loves

I've mentioned many of these before, but it's nice to have them collected in one spot. I'm sure there are more out there that I'm forgetting, and there are sooo many options we haven't read yet! Send me your favorite titles, and we'll check 'em out, too.

One of her very first favorites was "My Garden Pop-Up Book" (I looked it up in a few places online, but couldn't find a cover image, so you'll just have to trust me: it's cute). Emily is very excited by it, now, too; I imagine it's the book equivalent of Omnimax for movie-goers. Bright colors, funny faces, moving parts, and a catchy rhyming story; how could it miss?

Of course, she had full doses of "Goodnight Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny". Another early love affair was with "Baby Food", and then we discovered all the other books by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. I do like a book that makes *us* (the "grown-ups") laugh, too. (If you haven't seen these before, they are books full of photos of various things, made up entirely of fruits and vegetables. It may not sound funny, but it IS.) We like "How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods" and we also now have the latest, "Food for Thought".


I've mentioned "Madeline" before; I actually picked it up on a whim at the library, since I vaguely remembered liking the rhymes as a child myself. I didn't think Laura would like it all that much...but I was wrong! Two of her birthday books were from the series (one original, one follow-up). The others were: "Mooses Come Walking", which is just plain quirky, but tickled our fancy; "Papa, Please get the Moon for Me", which we knew we HAD to get for her soon (we took it back to the library some time in July, largely in self-defense for our voices; she asked and asked and asked for it at bedtime for a loooong time after that); and the latest Diaper David book, "David Smells".

I can't end this list without mentioning Sandra Boynton. I have always loved her art--seen mostly on greeting cards--so I was thrilled to learn she's written children's books. We have "Barnyard Dance", which has an amazing rhythm (it even reads like a square dance!), and the other night at the Borah's we got to experience a book/CD combo she put together of her silly songs.

I can't believe I almost forgot the one that is now indelibly traced on my brain by repetition: "Where the Wild Things Are"! I guess it's a small price to pay for having such a bookworm in the house.

November 16, 2005

Silly Songs, Silly Singers

One of the cute things Laura has been doing lately is starting to sing.
She still doesn't hit a lot of the notes she's trying to aim for,
though she's got the basic idea of when she's supposed to go high, when
low.

We are a house of silly songs, and sillier singers. For instance, one
of our not-so-dark secrets is that we've cannibalized the '80's
standard "Ebony and Ivory", by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. I
figured out shortly after Emily was born that "Emily and Laura-B."
scans perfectly in the place of the title words, and by changing just a
few little words here and there, we have a lovely family song:

"Emily and Laura-B.
live together in perfect harmony
side-by-side near my piano keyboard
Oh, Lord, why don't we...

We all know
that babies are the same where ever you go"

Etc. Laura's learned most of the words, though she leaves one out (or
part of one out) here and there. Of course, she's a toddler, so her
emphasis is pretty funny, and she enjoys repeating things with even
stronger emphasis sometimes. So we hear from the crib before naps: "We
all Know BABIES are Same WHERE EVER GO!!"

She's also working on "Amazing Grace", and trying to master the tune
for "Hey, Jude" (which she calls the la-la-la song). Just like the
rest of us, even songs she's not that fond of sink into her
consciousness; the last few days, we've been doing a lot of Beatles,
and there's one song for which she always says "New SONG!" when she
hears it. But, sure enough, today before her nap, I heard, "Ob-La-Di,
Ob-La-Da, La la la".

That happened shortly before she started addressing, I'm guessing here,
her crib toys, and saying: "Let's take a nap now, o.k.? Let's
allllllll take a nap now."

November 15, 2005

One more thing...

I forgot to mention one more thing that made it such a festival for
Laura: not only did she get to play with little Borahs on Thursday, and
not only did she have grandmas and aunts and cousins and so on on
Sunday, but we also went to see little Hannah, and she got to play with
Ella on Friday. Now THAT'S a Birthday weekend!

(and Hannah is a beauty!)

Laura's Birthday #2, Part 2

We didn't *mean* to create a whole festival out of the one little
birthday; it just worked out that way. Her actual birthday weekend was
a little too crowded to get the family together, but we didn't want to
deprive both families of a chance to celebrate, so we had 'em over
Sunday. It was a lot of fun: cake, ice cream, and oh, yes, presents!
Laura enjoyed everything she saw, including "two grandmas!" and playing
with her little cousins (one first, one once removed).

Of course, one party does not a festival make. But we went over to
Earl and Rebekah's Thursday night for a joint birthday celebration for
Earl and Laura. So she had another cake there (although she was having
a bad attack of two-ness, and decided not to actually eat any of it, we
did get the obligatory photos.) An embarrassing aside (not for me, of
course ;-) ): at one point, Earl pointed out how far Matt had come.
At one point, he (Matt) was quite a little bit squeamish about changing
diapers, but he's obviously gotten over it: Earl noticed him "Sniffing
my daughter's behind, just like a dog!" in search of a diaper in need
of service. Ah, parenthood....

One day when I have more time, I'll write about the books Laura's into;
she received several great ones, but I want to give you links to 'em,
and the html will take me a while. Yesterday and today were spent
trying to get caught up on dishes and a veritable mountain of laundry
(washed, but not folded) to get me set up for Matt being gone this
weekend.

Meantime, Emily was complacent about getting her shots, as I noted, but
she also had some really spectacular bruises by the next day, poor
thing, and complained LOUDLY about them being jostled. That (bruising)
was a new one on me, but they're pretty much gone now, so it's just
something to file away to ask about/be prepared for next time.

November 11, 2005

Unintended Consequences

So, I've been doing this blogging thing for a few months now, and I've
noticed some interesting ways in which it's shaped my (our) lives.

First, I'm really, really BUSY. I never really noticed how much we
actually do, until I started trying to write it all down (a good case
in point is that weekend we had the novice tournament, and the
flooding, and the birthday. Are we crazy, or what?). We seldom think
of ourselves as overextended because, well, it seems like there's
always somebody (or somebodies) we know who seem to be doing even more,
and making it look easy. But maybe it's all perspective (or maybe
those go-getters secretly have stacks of dirty dishes and
less-than-beauteous bathrooms--or a cleaning service--that we just
don't know about!) Another reason we don't think of ourselves as "too
busy" (even when we're exhausted and out of time and have more to do)
is that we can't really think of anything we'd give up doing. Speech
and teaching are part of who we are, and we love being with our
children....those three things alone take up most of what we have. So
it's a happy thing to be busy, and I'm not
complaining...just...noticing.

Second, the phrase, "Stop me if you've heard this" has taken on a whole
new meaning. Often, the stories that make it here are what's sort of
risen to the top of our minds over the course of a day or so (BTW, ask
Matt about "Puppy"--*if* Laura's not around--he wouldn't let me blog
about it, but I've heard him telling the story verbally!) So when we
see people in the flesh, we might tell the same stories, and often end
up checking to see if they've already read about them. It's not an ego
trip, honest; we just don't want to bore anyone with repetition. :-)

Third, discretion is the better part of valor, but sometimes, one just
doesn't know when to be discreet! For instance, it's occurred to me
that when we get two invitations for the same time, and have to turn
one down, if I write about where we ended up afterwards, someone's
feelings may get hurt. Clod that I am, generally I figure, oh, well,
c'est la vie. But it does force us to at least be reasonably honest
about our excuses (or keep quiet about them here. ;-) ) (Just so
everyone in the families knows, yes, we really *will* be in Hawai'i
over Christmas; Matt's owed me that trip for ten years--see ya in 2006!
[JUST KIDDING!]) There are other examples of this particular
unintended consequence, but it would be indiscreet to write about them
here. They Know Who They Are.

Fourth, I feel darned guilty when I don't appease my loyal readership.
(Fifth, I found out there IS a loyal readership! Glad I installed
those counters. You like me, you really like me! Apologies to
Sally...) If it makes you feel any better, I do feel bad when I lay
down my weary head at night, knowing you're out there, wondering what
we're up to. (On the other hand, if you can't lay down YOUR weary head
without knowing, perhaps you ought to see a professional... ;-) ).

Sixthly and finally, I like writing. I've put off doing this for a
long time, in part because I've always been afraid I wouldn't have much
to say; in the event, I find I'm actually pretty verbose, and generally
have *more* to say than I have time to write. So I'm glad to be doing
it.

November 10, 2005

Night and Day

Intellectually, I knew my children would be unique, each different in
their own special ways; emotionally, it still gets me every time.

Today we took both girls to the doctor. (Whom I really like, by the
way; she's kind and gentle and knows her stuff. We actually thought
about switching insurance plans, but didn't so that we could stay with
her.)

Laura had to be *physically restrained* so the doctor could do a VERY
quick exam: ears, heart, throat and teeth (that last was a bonus; since
she was screaming anyway, the doc didn't have to mess with any "Open
wide and say 'aaah'" stuff. Always a silver lining...)

Afterwards, I asked Laura if she was scared.
"Yes."
"Even though you knew you wouldn't get any shots today?"
"Yeah."
"Do you like the doctor?"
"Yeah."
"Has she ever hurt you?"
"No."
"So, why were you so scared?"
"Yeah."

Sigh.

Emily burbled through her exam, flirting shamelessly with the doctor.
She also got three shots, and although she fussed a little when the
plunger was actually going down for each of them, she never worked up
to an actual cry. Oh, how different from big sister, who left the
nurses shaking a little at the same age (Actual quote : "Wow, she's
really a strong one!).

I know they're both our children; I was there. They even look related.
But some days, it's hard to believe it.

.......
For those who want the box scores, Laura weighs 28 pounds, putting her
in the 66th percentile on the charts of averages; height of 33.5
inches, the 37th percentile. She has slimmed down a lot, but is still
"husky". Emily has more than doubled her birth weight, at 16 pounds
even, which is the 85 percentile, and has stretched out to 25 inches,
the 65th percentile. To make it easier to compare, Emily's about to
sprout some more (I can tell by how much she's been eating), she's
still two weeks shy of an actual four months, and yet she already has
the height Laura did at that point...and weighs two pounds less. Ah,
the miracle of genetics!

November 8, 2005

Lono Waiwaiole's "Wiley's Refrain"

Available Nov. 29th

Wiley's looking up. Most of the book is familiar territory; a couple of people have been "done wrong," and Wiley and his buddy Leon are out for justice. Throughout the story, Wiley asks himself existential questions with no easy answers, but by the end, he's starting to feel like his life has a point again.

The story is set in Portland and Hawai'i, and an example of Wiley's humor shows up in his comparison of the two area's rainfall patterns. And there is more humor; one of the more endearing things about our hero (sub-hero?) is his humor, especially in tight spots.

As I've said before, the characterizations are what make this series. Though most of us (hopefully!) don't lead the lives portrayed in these books, we know people like Wiley: broken but lovable, a rule breaker who follows a strong moral code, a man of action who's not always sure what's going on. The fact that he--and his friends--are always asking about the road he's traveling just adds to the interest: I find myself rooting for him to find his way.

Also as before, there's a certain amount of sex (especially for the bad guys) and violence (pretty equally distributed). Bad things happen to good people, in the typical "noir" tradition. Finally, the writing is just as good as before; you can tell the author loves to play with language. Some of the turns of phrase are just plain beautiful (and the bad guys' swearing provides another source of humor as a running joke throughout the book.)

All in all, a fun ride.

November 6, 2005

Happy Two

Laura's birthday was fairly quiet. "Mah!" came over for a while to
play, and we had one of Laura's favorite foods (multi-color rotini with
parmesan and herbs) for dinner. She learned to say "Two years old",
though won't *just* because somebody asks her. She also really, really
likes the Birthday Song: "Mommy sing Happy Birthday to you Lawabee!"

Saturday was Matt's debate tournament; all went well. His brother
Steve and his wife, Bryna, dropped by to see what it looked like.
Apparently they got to watch a round of Public Debate and see a little
of how the tab room works, and were very interested.

Amazingly enough, the girls were both really fun to be around on
Saturday, so we got an unusual amount of stuff done even without Daddy.
One of the most notable things was the laundry, though part of that
was necessary; Emily has The Current Cold and is quite spit-uppy as a
result. I swear the same outfit got washed three times yesterday! I
willingly made the burden heavier because it was time to get out a new
size of clothes for Emily. In looking at pictures, she's on about the
same size schedule that Laura was, but where Laura popped seams from
port to starboard, Emily is stretching them from stem to stern. Maybe
she'll play basketball?

Anyway, we got out the clothes (Laura "helped"), reorganized the
nursery drawers--I did Laura's, too, since we were right there--got the
laundry plus "new" stuff washed, and even did some of Matt's daily
chores. (I refuse to memorialize the changing of the cat box...but it
is a sign of a good day when I manage to be the one to do it.)

I also finished the latest Wiley book this weekend; I'll get my review
to you ASAP.

Today we went to an open house gathering for some buddies (two
brothers, plus their families and their mom) of Matt's. They were in
scouting and high school together, and he very much enjoyed renewing
the connection. I did, too; they're really nice folks, running heavily
towards teachers. The moms tended to congregate around the smallest
children--some things never change!--and in spite of my inherent
shyness, we talked a bit. Laura enjoyed herself immensely, too, since
there were four or so other preschoolers there, happy to play Chase and
just generally run around. Emily got to hang out with Grandma, since
Bill was the Scoutmaster for a while and he and Pat know the family,
too. (As a side effect of that last, I know what Laura's getting for
birthday and Christmas. But I ain't talkin'!)

November 5, 2005

Why Yoga Is Such a Big Deal

Please understand that I'm not whining. It could be a lot worse. On
the other hand, while it takes a certain amount of what I think of as
selfishness to accomplish anything for myself at all, I figure it's
good for the family if I stay in some sort of shape (when Mama's not
happy, ain't nobody happy!). And, some days I am lucky to just
accomplish my 15 minutes of stretching. Here, for your amusement, is
why.

The following is a partial transcript of a typical yoga session Chez
Ogle:

[Starting positions: Emily is in her Pack-N-Play bassinet, looking at a
crib mirror. Laura is on the floor next to me, and I am on my exercise
mat. We each have an old leather belt we use for stretching instead of
pricey yoga straps. The cats are on the bed, which is right next to
us.]

Y [that's the yoga guy on the vid; being an adult male, to Laura he is
a Daddy; since it's filmed in Hawai'i, he is "Daddy Beach"] : Guided
relaxation. Lie on your back.
[Fiona Cat takes this as an invitation to jump onto my solar plexus and
snuggle. Since she only weighs ten pounds and it'll be a while before
I have to move much, I let her stay. She's warm. She purrs.]

Y: Turn your shoulder blades under. Don't pinch them together; keep
them broad and open. Close your eyes.
[I close my eyes, but immediately Laura wanders off, so I open them
again. She goes to the bassinet and steals the crunchy book Emily was
just starting to get interested in, having tired of the crib mirror. I
get up, disturbing Fiona, retrieve the crunchy book and put it where
Emily can see it but Laura can't reach it. Laura is not pleased, and
being a toddler, doesn't disguise the fact.]

Y: Place your hands on your thighs. With your touch, relax your legs
completely.
[I've laid back down, now, and am following directions. Fiona comes
back. Laura comes back. Dudley comes and bonks us both--Laura and
me--on the head, in turns. I pet him a little, Laura pets him a
little. Fiona bats at him if he looks like he's thinking of joining
her.]

Y: Now, take one hand and place it on your belly. Take the other, and
put it on your solar plexus.
[There's a cat there, so I pet her with the extra hand instead. It's
all good....until Emily starts her "I'm bored and lonely" preliminary
fuss. I go and adjust her toys, smile and coo, and come back to the
mat.]

...Peace reigns for perhaps a minute....

Y: From here, place the heels of your hands over your eyes. Feel your
eyes relax backward.
[Feel the 17-pound cat bonk you vigorously on the head. Feel the
flailing heels of the toddler come whooshing perilously close to your
face. But by all means keep your eyes closed. And relax. Uh huh.]

[Emily's warning sirens have now passed boredom and escalated to
preliminary hunger warnings. Of course, she wouldn't eat ten minutes
ago. We all pause for nursing. Laura is bored: "Mommy do YOGA!
Mommy do YOGA! Daddy BEACH!" she implores. On a good day, she runs
off to terrorize the cats or play peekaboo in the mirror in my closet.
On a bad day, she does things like try to take the grown-up books out
of their bookcases, and ends up quarantined with us in the nursery
until we can finish nursing. Emily finishes her thing, gets up a burp
or two, and goes back to the bassinet.]

Y: AM stretch. This gentle yoga series will help you begin each day
with openness and peace.
[Obviously, he never does yoga with children. Open, yeah, ya gotta be.
But peace???]

Y: Lie on your back, in simple relaxation pose. Take the time to
observe the alignment of your body, and place it in perfect symmetry.
[Here's Fiona, back on her perch. Dudley comes and lays near my face,
which is friendly but tickles a bit. Merlin chooses this moment to
jump down and ask what on earth I'm doing on the ground, in his best
Siamese bark. So much for relaxation...]

Y: Arms out to the sides. Exhale; bring the arms together; inhale,
stretching them over your head.
[Pause to remove one of Fiona's hind feet from my windpipe. *Now* I
can inhale.]

Y: Exhale. Release the arms. Right knee into the chest.
[Fiona is disgusted, and stalks off. She does not go gently into that
good night, either. I check for blood. I seem to be o.k.--just some
red marks that hurt a little--so, back to the saltmines.]

[Meanwhile, Emily is now warning that she's tired. I hit "pause", take
the belt away from Laura--who is chewing thoughtfully on the
buckle--and get Emily. Just a moment's rocking gets her to sleep on a
good day, though it takes a bit longer to ease her down onto the bed.
And a little longer still when Laura's just had to relinquish a chew
toy that really isn't. Again, on a good day she'll be content there
even if she's not asleep. Other days...well, sometimes it takes us an
hour and a half to get through fifteen minutes of stretching.]

Y: Take your right knee, and draw it across the body to your left.
[No problem. Of course, there's a toddler there to my left, thinking
of doing the same stretching thing, and pushing me out of her way. I
win, with no harm to either party. Then I take the belt away again,
and give her the one with the leather buckle instead of metal.]

[Emily has woken up again, even though she was out cold when I laid her
down. She is currently not fussing, just gurgling a little bit, so we
go on.]

Y: Draw both knees up, and drop them open to Reclined Cobbler's pose.
Place your hands on your thighs, and press them down as your spine
extends.
[aaaah--what a great stretch. Quick! Move Laura so she doesn't thwack
me on the pelvic bone with her head as she lays down (it's happened
before. Ouch.) O.K., back to the stretch...]

Y: Now raise your knees into both hands and draw your knees towards
your chest.
[I love this stretch; it really helps my lower back (I can always hear
and feel satisfying popping). It also, however, leaves one
extraordinarily *vulnerable* to passing pets and children. Not wanting
to scare Dennis, I'll leave it to your imagination. ;-) ]

...

And so it goes...As I say, I'm happy to be able to manage it on most
days, and it does help me survive schlepping the kiddos. Having
written just a few minutes of it down, now I know why I'm often not
motivated to get much else done; it's hard work just staying with the
vid!

A final note: the stretches end with a few minutes of meditation, where
one is instructed to focus on your breathing. Laura knows the drill so
well now--and knows that Mommy doesn't usually get to meditate, having
been lucky to finish stretching--that she says, "Bye-bye, Daddy Beach"
and turns off the television once Mr. Y moves on to that part. Even on
days when I *could* do the meditating. Oh, well....So long, Daddy
Beach.

November 3, 2005

A little more good news

Matt got home in time to fix the most egregious of the two rear downspouts (there's nothing wrong, really, with the one off of the garage, except that it's close to a big maple tree that drops stuff on and around it.) The one with the leaky hinge area is now fixed up, and since it poured for a bit tonight, I think I can say with a little confidence (and crossed fingers) that it's made a huge difference: now that the drain is all ready for it, we didn't get any water in the basement from that downpour.

Hallelujah!

Also, this afternoon the city sent one of its monster vacuum trucks out to visit our storm drains in the street. Judging by the sounds when they got to the troublesome one (a bit like vacuuming over several coins and some dogfood, but on a much, much deeper and louder scale!), they hit pay dirt. Guess I'll have to wait for the next time State Street floods, and if our street doesn't, I'll know the problem's fixed.

So, I'm not stupid enough to say "Bring 'em on!" to the storms, but I do feel that the house is much better prepared for them, and that always makes me feel more secure.

Plumbing done

Had a very positive experience with "A-1 Plumbing". It's a one-man outfit (though he says his wife is coming onboard soon), and that one guy did a good job. Initially, he was afraid we might have to replace the water heater (tho' he was not looking forward to it, I signed off on the estimate). It turned out to be the lower element that was dead; it's now fixed, and he urged us to call again if it acts up, since our symptoms were somewhat unusual for that being the problem. On the other hand, he pretty much had to drain the whole thing to do that much, so any sediment is gone now, too. Glad to have saved the extra $500-600 a whole new heater would have cost us.

He also cleared out a few drains, most notably the basement floor drain I've mentioned before. This is sort of funny; we knew for certain our house had had kids living in it when we were cleaning before moving in, and found crayons in the cold air returns for the furnace. The main reason that drain wasn't working was:

It had a "binky" in it.

November 2, 2005

Flooding Follies

Our street flooded again yesterday morning; I was able to call it in
right away, but I don't think the city was able to get here before it
had receded. I understand; they had bigger fish to fry that day. I do
wonder, though, when it would be flooding and they WOULDN'T have some
place else they're needed more. I will dutifully keep calling, anyway,
even though I've noticed the Sassy Onion on State Street always has
flooding issues whenever we do, and that's a much more heavily traveled
street.

As the rain was pouring down, I'm happy to report that the Spider
Closet, and hence, the nursery, stayed high and dry. Alas, the other
side of the basement was not so lucky; there was quite a bit of water
leaking into the basement behind the washer. A *suspiciously* large
amount, more than ever before. Thinking quickly (for once), I ventured
outside, taking a moment to segregate the children into reasonably safe
areas first. Sure enough, one of the downspouts in the back of the
house was completely blocked, while the other was leaking prodigiously
at the bend where it goes from being vertical, next to the house, to
being horizontal, into the yard. So one gutter was just dripping water
towards the ground, while the other was actually routing water towards
the house. Not good. I cleared the one I could, and Matt went to get
more flexible gutter thingies at Home Depot today. I'm hoping he'll
get home enough before dark to at least fix the leaky one. Again, it's
good that we had the previous bout with flooding, since now at least
Matt knows *how* to fix the downspouts.

Another bit of excitement in all of this was finding that, in fact, our
basement floor drain is verrrrrry slow. It does drain, eventually; I
tried a bucket of water on it last night. But when the plumber comes
tomorrow to check on our fading water heater, I'll have them snake that
drain so it'll work when it needs to. (I don't think I've mentioned the
water heater; it's fading slowly. It could be an element, or sediment,
or just the whole shebang. We might be able to drain the sediment
ourselves, but it'd be a pain with the basement drain in the shape it's
in. So we'll shoot a few birds with one stone.)

In my ongoing efforts at thankfulness, I am grateful that our bedroom
has never (knock on wood) been affected, and is not really likely to be
because of where it is relative to the roof line. And at least it's
not a recurring problem; it's different problems. Finally, considering
the long-range forecast for the winter, I guess it's a good thing that
we're dealing with these issues now.

Today, Laura has another toddler cold, which I'm sure will make the
rounds among the rest of us. 'Tis the season! On the up side, she
does not run away *every* time I come at her with a tissue: that's
progress.

November 1, 2005

Love Notes

It's November, and a good time to practice thankfulness. Some musings
for posterity:

I love watching Laura make Emily smile ("ah GOO, baby!"). I know I
shouldn't admit it, but I often just plain love watching Laura; she's a
beauty, when she's not upset. I love how when she wants a hug she
abandons herself completely to it, and just goes limp in our arms.

I love how Emily smiles at me even when she's eating. I love how her
whole face lights up when she makes eye contact, and the smile goes the
whole way down to her toes as she wriggles in delight (I know it
wouldn't be "cool", but wouldn't it be great if we still did that as
adults?)

I love reading "Madeline" with Laura; she's into memorizing, now, so
every other page I have some help. She especially loves:
G. To the tiger in the zoo...
L. MADELINE [just says] POOH-POOH!!!
That cracks us up every time. Some nights, we need the laugh!

I love how she babbles herself to sleep now. (and for those of you who
thought--or, more obnoxiously, *said*--she'd never go to sleep on her
own, since we followed our own choice of expert's advice and let her
sleep with us and rocked her a lot, I have one thing to say, in a
mature, teacherly voice: Neener-neener-neener.) Yesterday while
winding down to her nap, I heard this over the monitor:
"Lawabee take nap. Take nap. OK. OK. OK. Ohhhhhhh kay." (etc.) Today
I heard, in the same calm, sing-songy voice: "Lay down, now. Lay down.
Lawabee laaaaaay down."

I love the sound of Emily's laugh. Laura laughs like Matt; Emily
laughs like me. I love all her coos and burbles and squEALS! of
delight.

That'll do for tonight.

October 31, 2005

Hallowe'eny Weekend

Our weekend started off well, with a flyby visit from JJ and Robin on
Friday afternoon. They were on their way to be wined and dined as OSU
opened a new engineering building; they "sponsored" an office and thus
were looking forward to some free food and earned accolades (and, joke,
JJ's first OSU football game, even though he WENT there!) It's always
fun to talk to such sparkling conversationalists (not to mention, good
friends), when the talk can range from storing baby teeth to patents to
potty training to string theory. As always, too short a time, but glad
to have it.

Saturday was a whirlwind of shopping; the usual trip for groceries,
plus some others. We went to Target and got a new car seat for Emily;
she is soon to grow out of the newborn infant carrier, so we found the
same model Laura's been using, as it has worked very well for her, and
fits in our car (thanks to Butch and Sandi for the gift card that
helped!) Also picked up that hallmark of emerging adulthood, training
pants, for Laura. As I assured Matt, I am not planning to put them on
her tomorrow, or let her wander unattended (upholstery cleaner at my
side...) just yet. But, it's something for her to look forward to, and
while I've collapsed my morals on disposable diapers, I haven't yet
given in to the ubiquitous disposable "pull up". I'm sure time will
test my resolve.

The last trip of the day was to Toys 'R' Us, to spend another gift card
(thanks to Laura--the other one--and Eric!) We decided to get a few
things for Emily to play with--since it was actually HER gift--so she
gets to have some un-chewed and -drooled on teethers, rattles, and
links. These should help keep her little brain occupied and happy
while Mommy does yoga, fixes food, and perhaps even does a lick of
housework, or--more likely--plays chase with Laura. Since Laura's
birthday is coming up, and we are both cheap and confident that she's
too young to know the difference in early date and lack of wrapping
paper, we picked out a few books for her to own with the rest of the
card.

Sunday, we made it to church, which turned out to be an "all's well
that ends well" thing. I had thought the event that happened this
Sunday was supposed to be *next* Sunday, and was bummed because it
looked like we had to be elsewhere then. But, as you already know, I
had my dates mixed up, so we got to see the former bishop and go to the
potluck and socialize all the same. I am glad--also, three lucky
winners got to hold Emily, so it was a good thing all around, you see.
;-)

We came home, poured a tired (from the time change) Laura-B. into bed,
and busied ourselves around the house. When she awoke, we got together
with Ross and Tamara to carve pumpkins. Tamara GREW the cute little
pumpkins, and had generously given us two (one for each girl), and they
brought over their own three to carve here. We decided to all eat
dinner together, and stayed up a little too late enjoying their
company. AND, Laura got another early present from them, which we were
all having fun playing with--a "mega blocks" set with the 100 Acre
Woods crew; how could that *not* be a hit, in this house? (She has
spent most of her free time today with it, too--thanks for the break,
guys!)

Hallowe'en so far has been fairly uneventful; we'll do a costume for
Laura next year, when she'll be old enough to be more involved with the
whole idea. We did sneak across the street and say "welcome" to our
new neighbors (though one of them wasn't home yet). We are excited,
both since they seem like nice folks and because we have not had to
call the police on them yet (unlike the previous occupants.) As
another feather in the bad hat of our used-to-be neighbors, they didn't
even warn these new buyers that they were abandoning their cats--two,
UNFIXED, females, who clearly belonged to them, were just
abandoned--complete, of course, with kittens. Thanks a lot for leaving
us a feral cat population, jerks!* On the up side, though, as I say,
the new people seem to be worthy in their own right, as well as being a
VAST improvement. "Sunny day, wishin' the clouds away..."

One additional grace note was a visit from the City's Public Works
department. A very personable fellow knocked on the door, and
explained that they were going to literally "look into" our friendly
local drain, and see if our flooding issue could be solved. They also
reiterated that we should call their dispatch number if we notice the
problem recurring, so they can see it in action, as it were. Finally,
he said they'd stop in and let me know what they found. I was
astounded, first to even get a visit; I figured they'd just write the
spot down on their clipboard, do what they could, and go on with their
day. The personal touch was definitely nice. Second, I was even more
surprised to hear that they planned to let me know the result. Now
*that's* good customer service. Kudos! (and thanks, Ty, for giving me
the name of the person at the City who got the ball rolling!)

*I would use the language I'm *really* thinking, but would feel bad
posting such on the internet.

Technical stuff

I tried to post the last message via email, and it worked...sort of. I
found that the html code Blogger has trained me to use just shows up as
text if you do it in an email, and that my idea for actually being able
to use things like bold, italics, etc. (which I can't, at the moment,
at least via Safari) doesn't work, either; it just translates the
formatting into html (ironic, isn't it???) and shows that as text.
Even though these things should be fairly easy, they apparently aren't.
For free, I can't complain too much. As one of the top blog sites,
though, I want them to get their act together on this stuff.

I've also added a counter...well, two, actually, since they do slightly
different things. One is all but invisible, at least, again, in my
version of Safari, while you have to look closely to find the other.
Anyway, if you're into it, now you can see how many people are checking
in here, and how often...if you can find the one that's not
password-protected. If you're curious but too lazy to click, I can
tell you that there are somewhat more than I thought, at least on a
regular basis, who are viewing. I don't actually get email addresses,
but one of the two counters does give me fairly specific ISP addresses,
so I can extrapolate some of those (who else but the Kann's would be
checking in, at those hours, from a comcast address in WA? I, too,
know what it is to have a newborn and a computer ;-) Sorry I don't
post more often, guys...I'm workin' on it!).

What I want to know is, who's this:
methodistinternational-14.dsl1.easynet.co.uk ? Stand up and be
counted, you Britisher person!

In any event, Big Brother (Sister) is watching you now, though not too
closely; otherwise I'll never get any blogging (not to mention anything
else) done.

October 29, 2005

O! Frabjous Day! Calloo, callay!

So, we've casually been starting the whole toilet-training thing with
Laura. By casual, I mean we got the little plastic seat for her back
in May, I think, and she's used it as a place to sit--just sit--since
then, while Mommy or Daddy is doing their, ahem, business and needs to
keep an eye on her. About two weeks ago, I decided it was time to step
up the pace a little bit; I think she's plenty ready, Emily is able to
left for a bit on her own without as much fussing, and I'm definitely
tired of the diapers. So, onward!

Friday morning, she asked to go, and actually produced! If you don't
have kids, you may not know the depth of gladness I felt at this
landmark; trust me, it's right up there with graduation. Of course,
it'll be a while before the transformation is complete, but still, it's
a wonderful start.

Sniff. My baby is growing up.

Woohoo!!

Another Exciting Week in Ogle Land

It has been a busy week, looking back on it. Last Saturday night,
Laura used some very effective nonverbal communication to let me know
she was done sitting in her high chair (she refused to put on her bib,
a usual prerequisite for eating, even though I knew she was hungry.
Finally, I asked if she wanted "down", she said yes, then grabbed her
bib off the high chair, put it around her neck, and asked for some
food. I asked if she wanted to sit at the table; BIG smile: "Yes!") Since we haven't gotten around to getting a booster seat yet, she's just been sitting on a towel-covered dining room chair, which seems to work just fine. Saved us twenty bucks or so, which works for me!

As a result, in what time I had on Sunday, I made her a little
vinyl-covered placemat and another vinyl "pelican" style bib, so now
she has a "spot" at the table (and hey, it's portable!). I am now out
of iron-on vinyl, which means--ohhhh,alas!--a trip to the fabric store
is in my future. Laura's been doing pretty well at the table; and on
those rare occasions when she hasn't, we have the high chair to return
to. I figure we have about three months before Emily really needs it,
so we should have most of the kinks worked out by then.

Matt had parent-teacher conferences on Monday, so we went without
Daddy at bedtime. Conferences seemed to go pretty well this time
around.

Thursday, the Borah girls came over (minus Lydia, who's in
kindergarten now) for an hour to play. A good time was had by all,
though Laura was crazy teething and was somewhat bashful as a result.
In the mail that day came the next Wiley book, which will be released
Nov. 29th. I'll try to read and review it this week; meanwhile, I'm
basking in the sophomoric glee of having a book in my hands before the
general public (not to mention the fact that the author sent it to me!)

While I'm on the subject--of reviewing--lest you think I like every
book I read, here's one to be panned: To The Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance. Let me say at the outset that I *wanted* to like this book; I was looking forward to reading it and getting to know more about this contentious subject. You'd think that the author would be writing for a pretty big audience; you'd think he'd want to make his message (whatever it turns out to be) accessible. You'd be wrong.

I had two main problems with the book, both of which prevented me from
getting through the first chapter (I did struggle through the
preface). First, the writer is one of those who "likes to use a
twenty-five cent word when a nickel will do." I'm no slouch in the
vocabulary department, if I do say so myself, and yet I was constantly
annoyed; I'm not sure if the guy used a thesaurus too much, or if he's
just really, really pedantic and obnoxious. The second problem was
the more serious of the two; he had deplorable organizational skills.
The first few pages of the chapter went into great, enormous, mind-fatiguing
depth as to the similarities between Bellamy, the guy who wrote the
original pledge, and his boss. Why? I don't know! and that's what's
wrong; there was no overview, no preview, no roadmap to say, here's
why this is so important to the history and fascinating to boot. So,
sadly, I put it down and moved on; I don't mind being patient with an
author, especially of nonfiction, but he didn't give me a good reason
to be. Blechth. I hate giving up on a book.

October 24, 2005

Done!

The rest of the pictures are up. The only ones I haven't done yet are the ones we took yesterday, and they're still on the camera! You can get there by clicking on "Even More Pictures" at Ogles Online. Enjoy!

October 23, 2005

New Pictures Up!

I've finally got our web page(s) updated; new pictures can be seen at Ogles Online. Featured events include the birthday party for Bruce (sadly, we didn't take that many, and fewer still came out well) and the Silverton Novice Tournament. I still have more to put up; we're not quite "up to the minute", but that's the way it goes. :-)

October 20, 2005

Flu Shots and Murder

With the kind help of Tamara, Laura and I got our flu shots today. Mommy went first, trying to demonstrate good technique, but I don't think Laura paid much attention. She did do better than in the past, though; the tears stopped pretty quickly, and she accepted the proffered sticker from the nurse with good grace. The best part is--I have to check this with our doc, but it's probably true--that since she got two shots last year, she only needs one this year. Yippee!

Another of the books I recently finished was The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill. It was pretty fascinating, and well written to boot (though there are a few things that the author repeats too often). Although he says he was not thrilled about the subject, and in fact had nightmares over the course of the seven years it took him to complete, he felt it was very necessary to examine why murder exists across all human cultures.

His conclusion is that there are evolutionary advantages to murder. (NB: He is very careful, and in fact, states in several places, that he is neither encouraging or condoning murder, but merely trying to figure out why it is so prevalent). Basically, those advantages go beyond "Dead men tell no tales," and have to do with the struggle to pass on our genes. He theorizes that in the not-so-distant past, you bumped off the other guy so you could have access to his mate (who had already proved her worthiness by managing to have a mate, and probably her fertility by having kids; you'd probably want to bump off the kids, too.) This is not, obviously, cheery stuff, but there are an awful lot of parallel examples in the animal kingdom to support his thesis. Regardless of whether one accepts his conclusions, he picked up some pretty awesome "gee-whiz" stats along the way, and has some good advice. To wit:

-If you think you're in immediate danger, you're probably right. Since murder's been around so long, we have also evolved ways to try and avoid it. (Just as with diseases, our immune systems are always changing to defeat the next challenge). The main one of those ways is the ability to recognize murderous signs in others: blind rage, creepiness, "otherness." As a side note, he takes a stab at explaining why racism is so prevalent; in early times, someone who looked different was probably attacking your tribe on a raid, and nothing good was going to come of that. Again, it's not an excuse, but a viable explanation for origination. Anyway, try not to ignore that creepy feeling if you have it; odds are good it is NOT "nothing" or "your imagination", especially if it's coming from someone you know, but your primitive brain trying to tell you something. This is, of course, separate from a more vague sense of doom such as that experienced after 9/11. It's more like, your brother-in-law seems to have finally slipped his lid; it's probably best to get out of his way.

-Deterrents work. Over and over again, survey respondents in the author's study explained that, although they had experienced murder fantasies (most everyone has--some more detailed than others. Personally, I've only ever gotten as far as wishing someone gone, not me being the actual agency of their demise; your mileage may vary. And if it does, now you know you're not a freak!), the fear of getting caught and punished prevented them from "going over the edge." There was no specific analysis of types of punishment--this is not an argument having to do with the death penalty--but the idea of punishment itself. Loss of social status is also one of the big reasons behind murders, ironically.

-Men are criminals. Only about 3% of murders involve women killing other women. About 10% of murders involve women killing men. All the rest have male perps...and that is *across cultures*. Hmmmm....is there some medication we can put you chaps on??? Actually, the author has a rational explanation for this; in the mating game, men have much more to lose. As he says (several times), a woman is really never in doubt about whether a child is hers or not; it came out of her body, and short of modern anesthetics and bizarre childbed switches, she was THERE when it came out. She knows for sure. Men don't have that same assurance, so they spend/spent a great deal of time and energy making sure that it was THEIR genes being passed on, not the mailman's. This accounts for a hefty percentage of murders: Murders to eliminate the courting opposition; murders to achieve or maintain social standing, making one worthy of a mate; murders to achieve a better mate; murders to dispose of a "cheatin' heart." One interesting point he made here was that women are more likely to forgive a sexual escapade on the part of their partner, AS LONG AS THERE IS NO EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT (no, Matt, that does not apply to you--we're talking about human evolution and generalities, here! :-)). An emotional attachment could mean a loss of resources for help in raising the kids. Men, on the other hand, tend to be less forgiving in the same circumstances because they could end up pouring their resources into raising some other guy's kids, thus making him a loser in the evolutionary game.

-Love the one you're with. A number of his most gruesome case studies involved jilted lovers, married or not. Women killed men who wanted to break up. Men and women killed the "other" who had stolen their love away. Men killed women who left them. That's another reminder about the first lesson: If you think your ex is stalking you, be very, very, very careful. Another aspect of "love the one you're with" had to do with step-children:

-A child is something like 100 times more likely to die of abuse if there is a step-parent (male OR female) in the picture. Ouch. There are many fine stepparents in the world, of course....but geez, what odds! That one makes a better argument than 'most any I've heard for making divorce with kids involved more difficult than it is (absent an already abusive situation, obviously). This is where he makes one of his (repeated) points; in a world where we're not fighting over the last huckleberry in the woods to feed our child, a lot of people have the resources to raise their own kids plus some other guy's; but, the biological drive to pass on one's genes urges the elimination of any possible competition. I'm not sure those of us with stepparents should rush out to thank them for not killing us, but it is surely a sobering statistic.

-The most danger is from those you know. Even though we seem to have built-in "other detectors", most of the danger in current times comes from friends and relations. A particular insidious point was about why friends can turn on each other: if you are friends with someone, you probably have something in common. As a result, there are good odds that you have somewhat similar taste in mates, making your mate and your friend mutually attractive to each other. In too many cases, somebody ends up dead because of this--either you (as the obstacle), the friend (for betrayal), or the mate (for threatening to drain your gene pool). I hope I still get invited to parties, especially since...

-He postulates that the reason people flirt is to ensure "back up mates", in case something happens to the current one, or, conversely, somebody decides it's time to "trade up" for a mate with higher status. I may have to cut back; I always thought I was just having fun!

So. It was a good read, though not exactly bedtime story material. Give your spouse an extra hug tonight...but not from me. ;-)