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.