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. ;-)

October 18, 2005

Welcome, Little One!

Many congrats to our friends, Joe and Carol (and new big sister, Ella!), as they welcome Hannah Clare to the world! What a great name...

And Joe, welcome to your own "House of Estrogen". :-)

October 16, 2005

What I Read

We had another action-packed weekend. We were originally scheduled to go to a baby shower for Joe and Carol, but it was cancelled. But then many of the invitees were invited to dinner (we took our goodies anyway--two meals for the freezer, conveniently prepared last weekend on the Big Cooking Day!) Before going up to Battleground, we had a much more relaxed trip to the library than our last few have been, and as a result, of course, brought home lots of books. Today was a whopper in terms of getting things done around the house, most of which desperately needed doing. I am tuckered, but glad. None of those things make for particularly exciting reading, though, so I thought I'd get around to some book reviewing at last.

First up has to be the Wiley books: "Wiley's Lament" and "Wiley's Shuffle". I was surfing the library's catalog one night, and came across a name I remembered: Waiwaiole. That's my college debate partner (and general buddy) Poeko's last name....You'd remember it, too, if you had to spell it over and over again for judges ("W A I. Then W A I again. O L E. It's Hawaiian.") So I looked, and the author's first name was Lono. Hmmmm....wasn't that Po's dad's name? So I checked, and sure enough, when I looked at the author's website, that was definitely Po's dad in the picture!

So I had to read the books (it's meant as a series; two are out, and a third is due this December, I think). They are GOOD. He even got a starred review in Kirkus, which is a big deal in the publishing world. They are very "noir"; if Raymond Chandler were writing today, it would be stuff like this. There's a certain amount of violence, and definitely more graphic sex than my usual diet of "cozy" mysteries (often peopled by little old ladies, maiden aunts, etc. ;-) ), but I really loved the characters. That made reading about 'most any of their adventures enjoyable. They also seem to be "buddy" stories; there are two main characters who stand by each other through thick and thin. Wiley is a down-and-out type who consistently screws up relationships with the opposite sex, but has a true heart of gold (sometimes it's kinda violent gold, but he means well.) I think that's part of what makes him such an endearing character; he's definitely human.

(and I have to mention, there's a minor character who shares my name--an exotic dancer, but that's actually pretty high-class in this gritty series--in the first book. She gets to give a great smackdown, too. Thanks, Lono! [even tho' it was probably just a coincidence, I enjoyed the smackdown more because of it.])

A final plug for them is that they're set in Portland (with the occassional roadtrip). It's sorta fun to read about the place in fiction.

More another day...

October 15, 2005

Bad Genes....

Sadly, I seem to have passed on some "klutz" genes to my darling toddler. She smacked herself badly on Thursday, but as usual, it could have been worse. Having pasted together the clues about what happened (based on her answers to interrogation the next day, and where she was when I got to her), she was on a chair in the living room, got distracted and fell off. VERY fortunately, she wasn't standing up or anything--probably, practicing her "baby yoga" instead--so it was more of a rolling out than a falling from. Of course, being my daughter, she found the one spot in the living room, near a seating area, that is NOT covered by the rug we purchased for just this reason. Naturally, she fell onto the hard wood.

Anyway, she gave herself a very fat lip, and her gum is pretty bruised. It looks disgusting, but her teeth all seem to be secure and it is healing. It doesn't seem to bother her much anymore, either (at least as long as we keep the Tylenol and Motrin flowing!), and since that's more than we can say for teething pain with her sometimes, I guess it's not that much to worry about. This sort of thing always makes me feel like a bad mom, especially since I wasn't in the room when it happened. Matt kindly pointed out that it probably wouldn't have mattered; I was right there when she snapped her toe or foot the other day, and could have done nothing to prevent that, either.

This has to be my least favorite part of being a parent: watching my little ones get hurt. I can be pretty stoic for shots, but actual injuries and sickness get me every time.

October 11, 2005

Peanut, Peanut Butter

How do I get myself into these things?

One of Laura's nicknames is "Peanut". Matt dubbed her with it when she was a tiny, tiny babe, and she did look a bit peanutty. The rest of you could probably see this one coming.

Yesterday, I gave her some peanut butter, which was a new taste sensation, so I emphasized its name: peanut butter! She repeated it gleefully a few times, and decided she liked both the taste and the name.

Then she toddled over to Emily, who was sitting placidly in her bouncy seat, and said:

"Emily butter!"

If anyone has brilliant suggestions about how to explain, I'm all ears....

October 9, 2005

A Freezer Full...

Saturday was long, but worth it. (That's pretty much what we always
say after a big batch of cooking.) We made manicotti, meatballs, and
four other dishes, and it is all stashed away in the freezer (except
what's in the fridge, awaiting cooking for tonight!) Except for not
having quite enough (one of the trips to the store...), the yogurt
processing process worked out really well. I have dubbed it
"performing the Acidophilus Charm," in nods to bacteria and Harry
Potter. It's a good feeling to know that not only is the freezer
stocked, but that it's full of food that's really, really good for us:
low fat, low cholesterol, and mostly un-processed.

Adding to the excitement were the Borah girls. They are all pretty
well behaved, but it's still a bit of a zoo when you have four little
girls, aged about 20 months, 23 months, 3, and 5 (and one baby, aged 2
and a half months) all in two rooms and a hall. Plus the four
grownups, who took turns cooking, tending girls, and holding the baby.
Plus my mother, who came by to play with Laura and found herself
surrounded by little girls instead! My mother went home when Laura
went down for (and actually took, amazingly enough) her nap....

But Tamara ended up coming over not that long after; we called her to
see if we could borrow some catsup, and save ourselves a third trip to
the store (we are good cooks, honest; but when dealing with many
multiples of things, we always seem to trip over some amounts. The
selling by weight versus cooking with volume gets me every time. Why
can't they come up with another name for one of those two different
kind of ounces??? Is that too much to ask??? Anyway, check in with us
in five years or so; I'm sure we'll be perfect! ;-) ) Charlotte, the
youngest of the Borahs, ended up going home with Tamara for a little
while (she was at the door, Tamara--joking, I think--asked if she
wanted to go with her, and she said yes! It just struck me funny
because Laura is sooooo not like that.), and returned with bears for
everybody between the ages of 1 and 6. That was a big hit, let me tell
ya! Tamara, if you have not figured it out yet, is a gem (yes, Ross,
we like you, too. :-) ).

Having exhausted ourselves and our children, we took ourselves out for
Chinese. We tend to patronize Canton Garden, since it's directly on
Matt's route home, and partake of their take out when necessary. How
much has been necessary over the last few years was apparent yesterday
when the nice lady who works the counter there had to come and see the
kids, and said to me, "I saw Matt come through the door and panicked a
little, since we didn't have an order in for him!" Finding out that we
were eating there allayed her fears. She told me I was lucky, and I
concurred, adding that not only did I have two wonderful girls, but a
husband who brings me dinner from time to time.

We made it to church this morning, which was a good thing since I had
signed up to read. I was glad of both my poker face and speech
training, since the last line of the Bible reading I was doing was
covered up inadvertently (and I didn't realize it until I got there, so
I couldn't stand there and pick at the overlapped, glued on paper...but
fortunately, I had a pretty good idea how it ended...). And then, when
I had another reading, the book it was in had been moved out of the
way, so I spent perhaps 10 seconds searching for it (at the front of
the church, of course). I'm sure a little adrenaline rush now and then
is good for somebody with blood pressure as low as mine. On the up
side, in spite of her best efforts, none of Emily's spit up ended up on
either Matt or I. Of course, the day ain't over yet....

October 6, 2005

Laura's Limp

Almost forgot. Laura's doing better, though she obviously is "feeling it" when not on Tylenol or Motrin. I can tell because when I ask her how she is, she'll say "ankle hurt" and point again to the affected area when the drugs are worn off; when medicated, she generally just ignores the question. Still, improvement is occurring. She runs a little lopsidedly, but at least she's running (and jumping, and dancing) again. She even stood up on the couch today, which is not exactly cause for rejoicing since we discourage it actively, but it does mean life is returning to normal. Yay!

Just the usual...

Crazy, as always. I know that, ironically, things will get a *little* easier when Emily's more willing to be put down. I remember getting an amazing amount of stuff done during the time between Laura being o.k. not being in my lap, and getting pregnant (and exhausted thereby). I know there will be other challenges--like keeping the new toddler safe from the bigger kid, and that exciting stage where anything and everything will have to go in Emily's mouth--but at least I'll be able to "move about the cabin" on a more regular basis.

Emily also ate for an hour and a half at a stretch last night, and that may have colored my vision a bit! She's definitely on a growth spurt; she passed through most of the 3 month clothes over the last two weeks, and now I am digging into the 9 and 12 months things to stock the drawers as she keeps elongating. She is going to be tall, I think.

Anyway, Matt had a meeting Monday night for parents of the team, and yesterday he and Rebekah went to the store, to get ready for a big cooking day on Saturday, so I've put Laura to bed on my own twice this week (last night went better than Monday!) Now our busy-ness is from getting ready for Saturday; tonight I made 15 cups of rice (filling our bigger dutch oven...that's a LOT of rice! But we'll use it.), and started some yogurt turning into cheese (a nice solution to the vast wasteland that is non-fat sour cream; basically, you eliminate the water from yogurt and you have a much healthier version). I'll post a link to directions when I get around to it; my version of the process involves a bowl, a colander, some coffee filters, and the nf yo. Overnight gets you sour-cream substitute consistency; longer gets you up towards cream cheese texture. Nummy! Oh, and it works better supposedly (though I haven't tested this, I'll know by tomorrow) if you get "natural" yo, without any gelatin added. When I get time and energy to make bread again, I'll even recycle the drained whey and use it as liquid in the bread dough. "Waste not, want not," or whatever.

October 5, 2005

Minor revision...

Matt says the snake DID hit something, about five feet in from the street. I think that would put it smack under the dogwood, making a root rupture a real possibility. Although I understand the dangers of erosion and runoff, I'm still not in any hurry to fix it and go back to being at the whim of the city's sewer system (yet another good reason to be an organic gardener; we are not flushing extra ookey stuff into the river, in spite of rearranging the water flow! And since our lawn is mostly crab grass and clay, I'm not real worried about erosion, either.)

October 4, 2005

Après la pluie, le beau temps

Sunday morning dawned fairly calmly. Matt went and rented a carpet cleaner at the earliest opportunity, and he had just finished and brought the cleaner back to the ground floor as the incident with Laura occurred.

Emily was just finishing a snack, around 10:30, and Laura was cheerfully bouncing around on the floor. Jumping up and down, actually. She stumbled, fell forward onto her hands and knees, and I heard a distinct "snap". She immediately started screaming/crying and calling for Daddy (not typical behavior for her for a stumble!) Fortunately, Daddy was nearby; she was soothed and asked where she hurt. "Ankle hurt", and pointed to the ball of her right foot. We took a look (she had on footie pajamas), and indeed, the area was already swollen.

Matt got her to sit still while he put on some ice (a major miracle! Glad she loves to read...) and gave her some Motrin, while I called the doctor's office. There were no bones sticking out or anything, and she could take a few steps before refusing to walk, but that snap worried me, so I wanted to check in with a nurse at least. When they were able to get back to me around noon--the nurses don't come in until 11 on Sundays, though I could have paged a doctor--they said it could be a ligament, or a bruised joint, probably not a break as there was no obvious disfigurement or bruising, she could walk, and she hadn't been coming from any height, but offered to x-ray if we were worried. But the nurse also mentioned that, considering where it was, there wasn't much they could do for her that we weren't already doing, even if she did break something. By then, we had established that the ice had reduced the swelling a bit, so we decided just to wait and see. I'm happy to report that she is still limping quite a bit, but the swelling is down and it's definitely better than on Sunday.

(And while I would NEVER wish her pain, it has subdued some of her more dangerous climbing tendencies temporarily; also she's been going to sleep amazingly fast. Pain is wearying. Poor kid.)

So, Matt got her down for a nap and went to take the carpet cleaner back and dash to the store for the week; dashing because his folks were coming down around 3 to celebrate his birthday. Matt had been gone about twenty minutes, when I noticed it was raining somewhat hard; not a gully washer, but hard enough that I figured I could see what might have happened to flood the basement Friday.

As I mentioned, the last time we had this problem was in May, when a veritable deluge soaked the city, and many storm drains couldn't handle the runoff. Our front downspouts "V" together underground in front of our house, and drain into the street (the back ones just drain onto the ground, away from the house). So, when the street floods, the downspouts can't drain down, and the water backs up and, in one case, overflows. Sadly, this happens right at one corner of our "spider closet", and some of that water (we're talking about a LOT of water) finds its way into the closet, down onto the floor, across it, down the sill, and into Laura's nursery.) So that's what happened in May, and I thought might??? have happened on Friday. But there were no reports of flooding elsewhere, so we thought maybe there was something going on with the gutters (even though we have gutter guards; we do live under a maple.)

So, it's raining, and I went over to look out the window to see what I could see. The downspout was, in fact, overflowing, although the street was in no way flooded. Hmm. Help! I called on our wonderful neighbor, Tamara, to come hold Emily while I braved the rain (I could have just set her down, but Laura was asleep, and already using the monitor. Did I want to wake up Laura (if Emily cried in her room), after the morning she had had? I did not!) Happily, Tamara was home and willing to drop everything and come over.

I went out into the elements, armed with a coat, a big plastic garbage bag, and a BBQ skewer to see what I could do. (wouldn't that make a great first line for a novel???) The coat was to keep me somewhat dry, since I was still wearing jammies. The bag was to wrap around the downspout strategically, to direct most of the water towards the yard and away from the basement (that worked, by the way, at least until better help arrived.) The skewer was to poke into the downspout and the outlet in the street, in case the blockage was nearby and easily dislodged. No such luck, but at least it eliminated one possibility. The coat didn't work so well, either, since it was now really pouring, but at least I hadn't showered yet so I didn't care that much.

I returned, poured my soul out to Tamara, and she kindly said, "Why don't I just take Emily next door for a half an hour or so, so you can shower and have some calm time?" (or words to that effect). I gratefully accepted, and got to shower away the showers. About the time I was done, Matt had returned with the groceries (having been briefed by cell phone on the issues), put the perishables away, and suited up to battle the elements. By the time I went and retrieved Emily, Laura had woken up (unhappily, of course), but Ross had come over to help Matt; he brought a short "snake" with him. Tamara and Ross's daughter, Molly, came over to run interference with the girls, too, and enjoy watching the men in the rain.

The "snake" found no impediments between the house and street, but it couldn't stretch the whole distance; I figure, best case scenario is that when the street flooded in May, some debris was pushed up into the pipe (possible, since the water level was well over the sidewalk and into our yard). Worst case scenario is that a root has broken the underground pipe, or something else has, and that's why it's blocked. I was already thinking of calling the people who fixed my mother's storm drains on Monday, but now I'm not so sure I will (keep reading).

About the time the men finished doing what they could, Matt's folks arrived. "What they could", consisted of disconnecting the downspout from the pipe leading underground, and connecting it to some flexible plastic gutter pipe we had left over from a project on one of the back gutters. Now the water was directed into our yard, which has a nice slope towards the street. An excellent, and very workable, solution.

We chatted with Pat and Bill for a while, and Matt got to enjoy his goodies. Among other things, his mom had found an old baby quilt of his for us to enjoy. It had Pooh characters on it. This explains a lot, to me at least. ;-)

Matt finally got to shower around 4, which he very much wanted to do since we planned to go out to eat.

By the time he was done, it was raining hard again. We stopped talking to watch, and Matt noticed the street starting to fill up a little. He went out to make sure the storm sewer on the corner of East and 14th wasn't blocked (leaves tend to collect there), and came back. More rain. The street began to flood! My car and Bill's car were both on the street, and looking like they were in imminent danger of getting wet inside. Matt got keys, moved both cars out of harm's way, and came back. Still flooding. At this point, I was immensely, HUGELY glad that our downspout had been redirected. (The basement stayed dry as a bone, at least on that side).

Since our cars were saved, we figured we could still get out to dinner, so we began "gathering weapons and ammo" as we call it (diaper bags and little girl gear). Matt came upstairs from the basement saying that the central "emergency overflow" drain--across the basement from the spider closet, near the back of the house in fact--seemed to be backing up. Ack! Call Noah! Build an Ark!

As it turned out, it was just the usual water we get; when it really pours, we get about a cup of water that runs in behind our washer and trickles a few feet over to the central drain. Mostly, I don't care; it's seldom, there's nothing that important that it could hurt, and it just drains right back out across the cement. Sunday, we got about THREE cups of water, and the drain just couldn't handle it all at once. But it did, eventually, drain away. So, no flooding from below, which was my fear when Matt gave the initial report. Phew!

We successfully got to dinner, ate, came back, and finally got to rest. Checked high and low, and no more water inside anywhere. In retrospect, I am so happy that the pipes got blocked when they did. We may put off fixing them; if the street continues to flood from time to time, which we really can't control, and our gutters do drain to the street, the basement WILL flood again. This way, we're pretty safe, which I much prefer. Talk about a cloud with a silver lining....Hence the title of the post; if you don't know French, it roughly translates to, "After the rain, the good weather."

October 3, 2005

The novice tournament

We arrived in good time, rather incredibly, considering the morning so far. Really, everything went pretty smoothly. The people who run Matt's tournament are, basically, the same ones who run State, so we usually have things run well and get to catch up with our "second family" a bit.

That part was absolutely wonderful! Since we spend (well, I say "we", since it has been and will again be both of us, though I'm a bit out of the loop with children at the moment) more time with these folks than we do our own families, I missed them. June pointed out to me that the last time she saw me, I didn't have kids (I was pregnant with Laura; it was at State, in April 2003), and now "suddenly" I had two! Even though Jane was mostly the one in charge of running things (she's in charge at State every year...for how many years now? Many, anyway.), we also got to talk a bit about how her retirement's going: BUSILY!

Another bright spot was Catherine. She is a wonderful lady from Prince of Peace, and it turns out she's a speechie from way back; I was talking about speech (explaining, in fact, why we don't make it to church every Sunday due to tournament fatigue) at the retreat a week and a half ago, and she said she'd love to come and judge. Done! Even better, she watched what we were doing in the tab room, and figured she could handle helping (it's not difficult, just complicated). She fit right in, and we had another willing helper. This could be the beginning of a beautiful thing; she's been looking for volunteer work, and Matt can always use more adult help.

I was able to help a little, too, since Matt had detailed a few of his team members to watch our girls for us as needed. Laura had a high ol' time, running around the stacks in the library, playing peekaboo around them, and eventually realizing that we were in a library. Full of books. YUM! She found the French version of "Where the Wild Things Are" first ("Max et Les Maximonstres"), which I read to her (glad for my minor!) Later, she discovered the English version, as well as Dr. Seuss and some others, which some of Matt's kids read for her. Most amazingly of all, she took a long nap in the afternoon (I took a few pictures to prove it, perhaps even to myself). We did have a little trouble when I took her into the room for awards; it was a big cafeteria, filled with cheering teenagers, and was basically her idea of a nightmare (noise, strangers, space--it had it all!) So, we went elsewhere to wait for Daddy to finish.

Many teens and adults got to hold Emily (including one girl who had never held a baby before; I took pics of that, too.)

We were all tuckered at the end, but it went well. No fire or other alarms went off, and no vending machines were broken (both happened in previous years...) We even finished ahead of schedule!

October 2, 2005

So much to tell...

Emily sleeps at last--it's been a loooooong weekend--so I can finally type, if only with one hand.

Matt's birthday was duly celebrated. Laura picked up the phrase "Happy Birthday, Daddy" without any prompting, and when she delivered it, Matt thought it was a pretty good present all by itself. We went to McGrath's for dinner, the children were no worse than usual at the restaurant, and I drove home (draw your own conclusions :) ). Though Matt's official present was given months ago, in the form of DSL, I did most of his chores for the night so he could relax; he also escaped the entire day without changing a single diaper (certainly a record, since we've had two diapered bottoms to change, at least!)

The next day, Saturday, started inauspiciously at 3:45 AM, when Emily woke up. Matt's alarm was set for 4:30, but Laura woke up, crying, before that. Matt went to get her, and found that the nursery had flooded over night; one of the two rugs was soaked. This happened once before, in May, when other parts of Salem flooded; I thought I had heard a lot of rain Friday night, but didn't realize there was quite that much. As it turned out, there wasn't quite that much, but it was enough under the circumstances.

Sadly, we couldn't stop to do much about the rug, apart from pulling it up away from the floor, since we had to leave shortly for Silverton. Matt hosted his Novice tournament on Saturday, and we had all decided to go (and the rug was no reason to stay, since I couldn't really contemplate the thought of going to get a carpet cleaner, bring it home, drag it downstairs, clean--running up and down the stairs to refill it, etc.--take it back, and come home again, all with both girls (oh, I'm sure I would have had to stop in there many times to breastfeed, change diapers, etc.)) So, we left.

Sorry to leave you hanging, but it's bed time; I'll try to finish the sordid story of our weekend tomorrow or Tuesday.