Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Random

* Our computer offed itself. I don't know how else to say it, except that it just gave up working...seemingly out of sheer exhaustion. Hence, no recent photos to post. Hence, not much time spent online. Hence, a new computer almost ready to go.

* My sister Ali suggested that I add a virtual Poetry Corner to my blog and has graciously offered the first submission. That will be up shortly.

* Gage is still finding his way in Kindergarten - it's been a more dramatic change for both of us than either of us expected. But he's hanging in there, and beginning to enjoy it more, and his handwriting is totally blossoming. He learns a new sight word every week, and is solid on at least ten of them so far. (I, am, we, can, go, like, see, the, play, and)

* Lila is completely in love with preschool and always looks forward to her time there. She's an eager and happy student.

* Josie is almost a year old (!!!) and she and I are, sigh, finished nursing. I had hoped to go longer but it just wasn't going to happen...for either of us. I have a lot of feelings on the subject that maybe I can go into in another, not-random post.

* Mike is busy, busy, busy working and doing side jobs and putting a fence in our backyard.

* I just watched the movie Temple Grandin and loved it, would definitely recommend.

* Tonight I am making twelve pounds of meatballs.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We've Been Busy....

What have we been doing lately? (Not blogging, obviously)

We've been busy....

Picking tomatoes,

Eating tomatoes (Lila assembled these...see how proud she is?),


And having some wonderful surprise company.

We've been sleeping,

Experimenting with new hairstyles,

Eating ice cream sundaes,

And tie-dying. (That's a crib sheet.)

We've been planting some Kid seeds

Watering them

And watching them grow.

Then before we knew it

We were sending them off

To school.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Something you didn't know about Mike

We were on vacation (Rehoboth Beach, DE) in June. One morning Mike walked to the coffee shop to pick up our morning fix (two larges, black). He came back with just one cup, and when I asked him why he explained....

The coffee shop we favor has a fairly rickety screen door. It also has lots of newspaper-reading patrons propped on benches on the roomy sidewalk near the entrance.

Mike bought the coffee and stacked one cup on top of the other to navigate said rickety screen door. He made it outside, but when he let go of the door the top coffee teetered and fell, smashing in a hot liquidy burst on the sidewalk. Mike picked up the empty cup and the lid, tossed them in the trash, and turned to see many faces looking at him sympathetically. Mike, suddenly embarrassed, held up the one remaining cup.

"That's why I always buy a spare."

Monday, July 12, 2010

They "Help" Me

Last week Gage volunteered to make breakfast for me. Once assured that he knows the rules for no knives, no stove, etc. I said Sure. Ten minutes later he presented me with a plate, on which sat a perfectly reasonable-looking sandwich.

"Try it!" he urged. "It's samami." (Samami = Salami) "You like samami!"

Indeed I do. I took a quick peek at the sandwich and it seemed okay. Two slices of whole-wheat bread. Spicy mustard. Samami. And thick slices of cheddar cheese. Okay, I don't usually put cheese on salami sandwiches, but how bad could it be? I take a bite. I chew...Gage watches, with a hopeful smile. I smile back, and then my mouth starts to burn. I chew some more and try to keep smiling. My mouth is on fire...what did he put in here? Horseradish? I swallow and take a swig of coffee.

"Delicious!" I declare. I open the sandwich to look closer and that cheddar cheese? Is jalapeno cheddar. VERY, VERY STRONG jalapeno cheddar. I eat it on crackers, but I put a piece of cheese the size of a pea on each cracker, it's that strong.

"I know you like that cheese," he said, seeing me notice it.

"You're right. I do. In fact, I think I'll eat it a little later so I can really enjoy it. Thanks for the sandwich!"

"Okay, Mommy!" He runs off to play. Thank goodness he's still distractable.

On Saturday Gage and I had a lazy afternoon while Mike was working and the girls took naps. We sat around and read books, played games. I did laundry and dishes.

"I've noticed you've been doing a lot of chores lately," Gage said to me at one point.

"You're right, I have," I said. I pulled him to me for a hug. "Thanks for noticing."

"When I do chores for Grandma and PopPop they give me a reward." (It's true. They give him a dollar of "Pay.") "I was thinking that we should try that here, to see how it feels for us."


"I'm going to make a surprise for you. Don't come in the kitchen!"

(Oh no! No more jalapeno cheddar!)

Several minutes later Gage returns with with a glass mostly full of a chunky-looking tan concoction. He pokes a straw in and hands it to me.

"It's a smoothie!" He said cheerfully. "Good job on your chores, Mommy."

"Wow, thank you!" (OMG, am I going to have to drink this!? But he's SO SWEET.)

"It's milk, peanut butter and sugar. I used your whisk." I stir my 'smoothie' with the straw and discover that it is actually overwhelmingly peanut butter...probably 2/3 peanut butter and 1/3 milk.

"Okay," I take a little sip. Not much happens...apparently peanut butter can't easily BE whisked into milk...but finally a few globs of peanut butter slither up the straw and swoosh past the too-sweet milk. "Mmm," I say. "It's good!"

After that, I DID deserve a reward.

This morning Gage and Lila woke up before I did and "washed the windows" with a bottle of Febreze. (1) The windows need to be re-washed. Soon. (2) My house smells great!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Third Child

Yesterday Josie was in her high chair munching on a handful of cereal and I was folding laundry five feet away. The overhead lights turned on, then off. I looked at the switch, and there's Josie...standing up in her highchair, turned around to face the wall. She has her hands on the back of the chair to balance herself and she's bumping the lightswitch on and off with her head.

With her head.

Needless to say I tightened the heck out of those highchair straps and our darling little Houdini will be under a higher level of surveillance from here on out.

Going from one child to two was was going from two to three. I was surprised at the switch from Gage to Gage and Lila - it was so much smoother than I'd feared. Even easier was adding Baby Jos. She has had a comfortable, defined place in our family from the day she was born. But strangely, it's more difficult with each baby to let them cry it out at bedtime.

I know, logically, that Josephine can't talk yet. But that doesn't stop her from babbling 'Ah-dah' whenever she sees Mike. It made me grin big yesterday when he kept redirecting her attention...she was getting distracted when he was feeding her peaches and yogurt...and she gave him a little baby glare and scolded, "Ah-dah'!" in this annoyed way. Like..."Leave me be, Daddy!" Mike and I both felt her wrath...or at least enjoyed the way it seemed.

We took Lila to her first movie over the weekend - Toy Story 3! (Gage's third...his first was Up, last summer.) She enjoyed the movie, for sure, but we should have prepared her better for the whole "You must stay in your seat the entire time" part of it. She kept squirming around, flopping left and right, forward and back, and saying, "Is it over now?" I tried to get her to sit in my lap but she would have none of that. She did, however, enjoy the box of candy and bag of popcorn we bought. Who wouldn't!?

And Gage, in true Gage style, liked every scene of the movie (including the fiery-inferno-imminent-death scene) except the one where the toys were rude to each other.

I know what you mean, pal. I don't like rude, either.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yay! It's Summer!

Last night we settled down to play a game with Gage - a great, creative game called "Now What?" It's lots of fun and we play it often. There are cards with short paragraphs describing a scene, and then there are picture cards that you can choose how to complete the scene. I'm not explaining this well, but it's an awesome game and Gage really likes it and it's fun for me and Mike to play, too, unlike many (repetitive and simple) kids' games.

So I'm skimming through some of the 'story' cards, trying to find one that's easy to follow, since Gage is four. Many of the stories are geared toward slightly older kids. Mike is watching me and says, "What are you looking for?"
Me: "Some of these cards are a bit...." I search for the right word.
Mike, leaning forward conspiratorially: "Advanced?"
Gage, leaning forward conspiratorially: "Overwhelming?"

Well. So much for trying to sneak that one by him.

Lila was watching me prepare a whole chicken for the grill last night. I massaged a dry rub onto the skin, tied back the wings, etc., and she watched me all the time. Then she pointed and said, "Are those legs?"
Me: "Yep."
Lila: "Was that alive once?"
Me: "Yes, it was."
Lila: "But not in our country."
Me (hiding a smile): "Even in our country."
Lila: "But it's deaded in the store."
Me: "It's no longer alive before it even gets to the store."
Lila (quiet)
Me: "How does that make you feel?"
Lila (looking uneasy): "Funny."

I wonder if we'll have a little vegetarian in a couple of years...? I couldn't very well lie to her. Mike helped me out by adding that the chicken we eat is raised responsibly and happily, which is true, and I think that must help a little. It helps me, anyway.

Lila and Josie both had well-child visits to the doctor recently, and the doctor recommended that Lila have an echocardiogram done to see what's causing a heart murmur, which has been persistent since she was 12 months old. We went for the echo two days ago and she was a real champ, but we won't know the results for another several days.

Josephine is pulling herself up into a standing position now. She just turned seven months, and has two bottom teeth and her hair is beginning to lighten in the sun. She is a charming and funny baby. I swear she made her first joke. Gage often comes close to talk to her and stroke her hair while she nurses. A few days ago he was doing this, and she turned her head and latched onto his arm. He squealed and she started laughing. I swear she did it on purpose. She is also very 'talkative' lately, stringing sounds together often and loudly. I love to listen to her "Da-da-da-das" and "Mum-mum-mums."

Gage and Lila are both on a seafood kick lately - wanting steamed clams and shrimp for dinner. We indulge them occassionally, since Mike and I love seafood, and we're tickled that we can enjoy these foods with our kids now.

Gage used to be put off by spicy foods, but now is beginning to enjoy and crave them, as long as he has a glass of milk nearby. Lila has always liked spicy food, that funny girl. She got mad at me recently for finishing the buffalo chicken dip without letting her grab a final scoop.

Josie has just started yogurt and she loves it. I also love the yogurt stage of babyhood, because it is so nourishing and flexible. She loves graham crackers, too, and bananas.

Mike is back at work, and while we're very happy about that there is also some adjusting to do. I love having time with the kids in the afternoons, but without a fence enclosing our backyard I can't leave them alone for a second. I think that's what I miss the most about Mike being home - not having to herd the kids inside every three minutes to grab something else that we need (the phone, crackers, water, sunscreen, a towel, etc.). I mean, that's the most practical thing I miss. Mostly I just miss having all of us together for much of the day. That was really nice.

I dropped off the last of Gage's Kindergarten registration paperwork at his new school, so he's all set to begin at the end of the summer. My boy. My big, big guy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rice. It's so, so good.

I set out on a modest quest this past perfect my rice. I know it sounds small, but all the rice I had ever made before, like, December of 2009 was okay. And just that- okay. Not great. And rice is something you should really just understand, you know? Something that should come easily. I try to challenge myself a couple of times a year to really study, like, REALLY study one specific food and learn how to make it really well. 2008 was the Year of The Yeast Dough. I made so much bread, so many sticky buns, so many delicious cakes that 2009, by default, also happened to become The Year of Losing Ten Pounds. But I learned a lot.

So I figured that I could do something relatively simple for late 2009, since Jos had just been born and I needed at least a little of my wits about me.

Anyway, I'm not saying that I make the best rice. I'm not saying that I learned all there is to learn about rice. But I did learn one thing, at least, and that is that the instructions on the package DO NOT make the quality of rice that a few little adjustments will allow....

So make this rice, and tell me if you like it. This is our go-to rice now, the side dish that accompanies at least one meal per week. After a couple of times it's old hat...this recipe is from memory (it is so simple!).

Oh, one more thing. We try to eat pretty healthfully but I gave up on brown rice a few years ago because I missed the deliciousness of starchy, wonderful white rice. I missed it so much! We'll give brown rice another go someday, I'm sure, but for now we use plain old white, long grain rice.


One cup dry long grain white rice
1.5 tsp butter (2 tsp if you've had a bad day)
.5 tsp kosher salt
1.5 cups boiling water (boil the water then doesn't have to be literally boiling hot when you add it, but it should definitely be hot)

Rinse the heck out of the rice. What I do is soak the rice in a 2-cup measure in cool water for several minutes, stirring occasionally. I pour off the starchy water and refill with fresh several times. After ten minutes or so, when the water is more or less clear (the starches have been rinsed away) I pour the rice into a metal strainer and give it one last rinse...then let it rest on a clean cotton towel (to sap away some of the moisture - important for later).

Put a 2 quart pot on the stove, and turn the heat to medium. Put your butter in there.

When the butter is melted and sizzling a little (but not yet brown!) add the salt and drained rice. This is where your draining of the rice is important - you don't want a bunch of water hitting that melted butter.

Leaving the heat on medium, stir the rice with a wooden spoon. If it creeps up the sides of the pot, push it back down. Keep stirring for three minutes. What you're doing here is toasting the rice a bit. It brings out a kind of nutty flavor.

Add your hot water, jack the heat up to high, and stir until your rice is boiling. This will happen quickly, probably within twenty seconds. As soon as you have a good boil, give one last stir, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat down to the lowest setting on your burner. For me, it's just above low, like just between low and one, but more toward low.

Set your timer for seventeen minutes and leave it the heck alone.

When the timer rings you have two options - serve right away or move off the hot burner, keep covered, and wait until the rest of your dinner is ready. It stays hot and doesn't lose much quality if it waits there in the kitchen while you're getting other stuff together. When you're ready to serve, scoop it out very gently into a serving bowl using a fork, scrape at it like you would an Italian Ice, going one layer at a time.

So simple, yet so delicious.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nursing Josie

Josie is a very active baby. She has never wanted much to do with snuggling. When you hold her she constantly tries to sit up or arch away from you so she can watch everything happening around her. On the floor she can get wherever she wants to go...either by rolling, creeping or (new!) doing the inch-worm. She is always on the go, and rarely has the patience to rest with us.

All of that changes when it's time to nurse. Especially when I nurse her at bedtime, in her room, in a rocking chair, with the lights dim and the air still.

When Josie nurses it's like her body was poured into my lap; she's like an armful of sleeping kittens. She lets her eyes droop closed and she pats my skin with her far hand, knowing that I'm hers and she's mine. She rests luxuriously, and her head lolls on her neck a bit when she's full. She lets out a little hiccup and blinks several times, grins sleepily at me.

There's no better part of my day.

I love that I can provide for her, that my body is still sustaining her. Breastfeeding is a nice transition from pregnancy to full-fledged baby.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Time to Move the Shoes

We have a toy kitchen for the kids (my dad built it for Gage's second Christmas). Among the toy foods are these grapes, over there on the right. A few days ago Lila found a pair of kiddie scissors, cut the string that keeps the grapes together, and watched as they all spilled off like a handful of marbles. "Oh no, Lila!" I was surprised. (But I shouldn't have been. Lila is very impulsive and naively destructive with toys and books. Also, she's 2.) "So-wwwwwy!" she answered immediately. I sighed and gathered up the grapes, tried to figure out a way to restring them. "Lila. We do not use scissors with toys. Ever. The only thing we use scissors on is paper, and that's only when Mommy and Daddy say it's okay."
"Sowwy! Sowwy! Sowwy!"
"I don't want this to happen again."
"Okay. I won't."

Later that evening I was telling Mike about this, and I wanted to reinforce the lesson with Li, so I said, "Lila, what's the rule about scissors?"
"Throw your trash away!" she eagerly replied. I laughed because she had barely let me finish my question before pouncing on an answer.
"That's right, when we open a package with scissors we throw the trash away. But what about food--" This time I didn't even get to finish my sentence.
"When you peel a banana you throw it in the trash!" she had a little bit of a wild look in her eyes, like she was on a game show and knew that she had these questions. She could do this. "Like this!" she held up her hands and began miming peeling a banana. Then, with a little "Shoop!" sound she mimed throwing the peel away.
"Good, sweetie," I'm still laughing, because we're not at all talking about what I meant to be talking about. "But how about toy food and--"
"You don't eat it! You don't put it in your mouth!"

I guess there's a lot to know, even when you're two.

The game we've been playing lately: "Cindewella and the Fairy Goff-Muffer."

Lila is really starting to understand joking, which is way fun.

Every evening before bed we give the kids an option of having a mug (warmed milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast stirred in) or hot chocolate (warmed milk with Ovaltine stirred in). We give Gage about eight ounces, because he's skinny and could use some extra calories, and we give Lila about four ounces, because she never really drinks all of it but we don't want to exclude her from the routine.

Last night Mike calls from the kitchen: "Mug or hot chocolate?"
Gage: "Hot chocolate!"
Lila: "Mug!"
Me (in a high-pitched voice): "This is Lila. I want hot chocolate."
Mike: "Okay, two hot chocolates, coming up."
Lila (grinning): "No, I want a mug!"
Me (squeakily): "This is Lila. No matter what I say, I want hot chocolate."
Mike: "Hot chocolate. You've got it."
Lila (laughing): "No! A mug! A mug!"
Me (squeakily): "This is Lila. I'd like a coffee, please."
Mike: "Okay, a coffee and a hot chocolate."
Lila (cracking up): "No! Not coffee!"

She was laughing so hard, it was awesome.

I hope this newfound understanding of jokes helps her with her knock-knocks. Here's a typical Lila joke:

Lila: "Knock Knock."
Me: "Who's there?"
Lila: "Tree."
Me: "Tree who?"
Lila: "Why did you build a nest in me? Because you're a bird? And you build a nest?"
Me: "Ha, ha. That's a good one."

I really hope her joke-telling improves. I mean, I know she's young and all, but jokes about trees? And birds? Kind of last year. Somebody's got to tell her she needs some new material.

Mike and I were having an argument several days ago, which, thankfully, is not very common. But it was one of those times when we each interpreted a situation very differently, and we just kept trying to explain why our interpretation was the right one, and, sorry, but your interpretation is the not right one. We just kept going around in circles, and while we weren't yelling at each other or anything we weren't getting along either. And we were just saying the same things, for like five full minutes.

Gage finally came over to me and whispered something in my ear. I snorted with laughter and my anger immediately fell away. I looked at Mike, who looked even more defensive, as if I was betraying him by interrupting our argument to laugh.

"Gage has a good idea," I said to Mike. "He said, 'I think you should just stop talking about it.'"

Mike smiled, relieved, and we did just that.

I'm not above taking advice from a four-year-old.

Not when it's good advice.

Gage and I go tomorrow morning to register him for Kindergarten. I feel like I'm in a bit of a different dimension. (My baby!)

Josie is 'creeping' or 'army-crawling' now. What's that you say? She's only five months old? I know, it's crazy! She actually started doing this at the very end of four months. She plants her elbows down and drags her body behind her, and she gets wherever she wants to go. It's amazing, really. She's very determined. She gets into trouble, though, because she can move forward fairly easily but backward not at all. So she scoots until her head bumps into something, and then she's stuck. We spend a lot of time rescuing Josie.

I saw her do it for the first time about two weeks ago. I set her on a blanket on the floor, on her belly. I noted that one of Lila's shoes was nearby, but a good four feet away, so I didn't bother moving it. Less than a minute later I look at Jos and she's chewing on Lila's shoe! (I know, gross, right!?)

So you know what this means.

It's time to move the shoes.

Mike should be back at work in another month or so. Cross your fingers for us...or knock wood, or whatever it is you do for luck. Please. Thanks!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Unintentional Spring Cleaning

Well, it's been a rather miserable week. We're all sick (except the baby! Knock wood!) and it's taken a lot out of us. Poor Lila got it first (Monday), then it waterfalled day after day to Gage (Tuesday), me (Wednesday) and Mike (Thursday). Lila is better today (Friday), so I'm hoping we all waterfall back to health now.

Yesterday I took a sick day from work. In the afternoon when Lila and Josie were napping Gage settled on the couch to watch a movie (with some moaning and groaning just in case we forgot how sick he was) and Mike and I started cleaning the heck out of the house.

I'm something of a...saver. I don't like to get rid of things. Practically everything has sentimental value to me, and it's a problem. But...I don't like when the house looks cluttered, and the only solution to that is to get rid of extraneous stuff. A couple of times a year I turn heartless and throw away everything that's been collecting, all the stuff we don't need. I wish I could get into the habit of throwing it away daily, but it's hard. I'm working on it.

Like...I buy these HUGE packs of construction paper at Sam's Club. It's 700+ sheets of paper, all different colors. I buy this once every three months.

Because my kids go through 700+ sheets of construction paper.

Every three months.

Suffice it to say we have a lot of artwork in the house. The problem is, all of it is beautiful. All of it.

Anyway, back to yesterday afternon. We lifted furniture to sweep out the collected dust (and marbles, and socks, and books, and raisins) from the hardwood floors. We sneezed. We packed up winter clothes to put in the attic. We blew our noses. I filled two garbage bags to the brim with toys from Gage & Lila's room - toys to be rotated every couple of months. (A good solution to wanting less stuff in their room, but not wanting to throw / give away all of their toys. Yet.) We sneezed some more, and took cough medicine.

We vacuumed everything repeatedly (by the way, have I told you lately how much I love Dyson's long, long cord?) and then had to stop so Mike could fish a plastic quarter out of the vacuum hose. Of course.

I don't know what was driving my mad cleaning spree, but I was glad it was getting done. The more we worked the more energy we had to finish - I swear it was like a frenzy.

In the middle of my frantic, frazzled orders to Mike as we cleaned ("Throw it! Throw everything! Have no heart!") Mike looked at me and said, "Are we...Spring Cleaning?"


Yes, I guess that's what this is called.

In the evening, after everyone had baths and all the little ones were tucked into bed Mike and I put on a movie and got comfortable on the couch. Time to relax! Finally!

I was sleeping like a baby less than five minutes later.

Like this baby:

Friday, March 26, 2010


When I had Gage a part of me longed to be more primitive, and I allowed it. I gave into my instincts and, actually, welcomed them. So much changes when you have a baby - I think my potential to function at a more basic level changed, too. Where my kids are concerned...I can't afford to think everything over. I need to act quickly, from the gut, and have a constant sixth sense of where they are and whether or not they're well.

Because it works, because the more old-fashioned or animalistic I am with them the closer I feel to them, I allow it to keep going. I completely give in to the urge to sniff them, to smell their sweaty or clean or sun-warmed hair. All three of them are completely used to me sticking my nose deep in the crook of their necks and breathing deeply, just breathing in their smells.

Since Gage was a baby I'd smell him and half-joke: "Yep, that's my baby," as if the visual or aural were not enough - he had to pass the sniff-test, too. Now Gage jokes with Josie - he smells her all over her head and says, "Yep, that's my girl."

I rub my face on their faces, on their heads. I feel very much like a lioness, and the kids respond in cub-like kind. They smile gently and lean into me, half-close their eyes and allow me to rub heads with them. We're like a pack of wild cats, all madly in love with one another.

I breathe in the air from Josie's open mouth, not knowing quite why but choosing not to think too hard about it. It feels right, on that primitive level, so I do it. Her breath smells healthy and milky, and she smells, in a word, familiar.

The first time I left Josie with our 18-year-old babysitter she smelled 'off' for the next several hours. It was the strangest thing. Every time I caught a whiff of her I smelled the babysitter's perfume. It didn't make me jealous or angry, but it made me feel as though something was just a little strange. And it kept happening - I kept smelling that unfamiliar smell and being just a little curious about it, a little alarmed. She didn't smell like my baby, and that really jolted me.

We also snuggle together, the kids and I, a mess of arms and legs and tickly-haired heads, and coo at each other. We make happy little wimpering sounds, just delighted to be so cozy and close. Weird, maybe, but I've never felt better than this.

Gage and Lila made up a fantastic game recently: "Baby Polar Bear." We take turns being the baby, the Mama, the brother/sister polar bear, and the two 'older', well, baby the baby polar bear. If Gage is the baby, Lila and I curl around him in a snuggling pile and she pets his head, I rub his back. We murmur to each other and pretend to feed him fish. We tuck his blanket around him to keep him warm.

I say, over and over, "I will take care of you. I will feed you when you're hungry and make sure you don't get cold. I will protect you."

He closes his eyes with a smile on his face, allowing himself to be entirely cared for (easier when he's a polar bear), and it strengthens all of our hearts, our souls.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Alice Obsession

Lila's obsession with Alice in Wonderland is not going away. In fact, it may be getting worse.

Gage is OVER IT. He doesn't want to "play white rabbit games" anymore. He doesn't want to watch Alice (we stream the 80s live action version from Netflix for Lila), he doesn't want to talk about her, read her at bedtime, nothing. He's done. He will still call Lila 'Alice,' but that's only because she doesn't respond otherwise.

The weather has been great lately. We've had a few rainy days, and a few windy days, but overall it's been in the high 60s and sunny. Wonderful. We've spent a lot of time outdoors, and Lila is slowly and steadily "digging a rabbit hole" by the swingset.

My mom jumped off the Alice wagon quickly (and smartly), by telling Lila "I'm not a good white rabbit. But your mommy is!" Lila considered this, and accepted it. Now she tells me, "Grandma's not a good white rabbit, but YOU are!" (Thanks, Mom.)

Gage caught on, because yesterday I heard him telling Lila, "I'm not a good white rabbit."

"Me either!" I interjected, kind of frantically. "Neither am I!" My allies are abandoning me!

Gage fixed his eyes on me and said, "Yes you are. Mommy's a great white rabbit." His steely gaze clearly told me: 'You're on your own.'

So it's down to me.

I can't tell you how many times a day we play Alice in Wonderland. She consumes much more than her fair share of our daily lives. Since Lila's birthday is coming up (May 23rd) I'm playing with some ideas of an Alice-themed party. Lila would be overjoyed, I'm sure.

On another topic, we had Gage's preschool parent/teacher conference and it went very well. Gage will be entering Kindergarten in the fall! My big guy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Running & Updates

Six weeks after Josie's birth I was given the go-ahead to start exercising. Given the amount of butter I consumed throughout my pregnancy, exercising was high on my list of priorities. Mike and I started working out immediately, using these videos: The Biggest Loser 'The Workout' and Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred.

I know exercise videos aren't for everyone, but they work really well for me and Mike, especially during the winter. February in Pennsylvania = not much time spent outdoors. Plus we have this house full of little kids...we can't just take off for the gym. If I get an hour to myself I'm going to Borders to page through a cookbook while sipping a coffee (in blessed silence). There's no way that Mike and I can each have 6 hours a week to ourselves to go to the gym. Plus, it's expensive.

And the videos seriously offer quite a good workout.

There's a point to all this.

We worked out for two months, six days a week. I stopped eating so much butter and started eating more salad. Dinner every night is 1/4 protein, 1/4 carb & 1/2 vegetable (one green, one other). No more binging on meat & carbs. Actually, that's not fair. We've always eaten a lot of veggies, but now we're eating more.

Two weeks ago I started running - just to see how it would go. I've never been a runner. Heck, I've never been anything even approximating a runner. But I wanted to give it a shot, because I could tell that my body was stronger and tighter than it has been in years.

The first day I ran two miles.

I was ecstatic and shocked and I couldn't wait to try again the next day.

The second day I ran two and a half miles.

I decided to add 1/10 of a mile each day and when I hit three miles I sprained my ankle.


So I've been giving my ankle the necessary rest for the past several days and I actually feel really antsy and I want to get back to working out. I'm really very eager to begin again - and this feels alien to me, but good. I can't wait to start running, especially since it's getting nice outside.

Yes, me. Jen. Can you believe it!?

Of course, I still have a long way to go. But that's fine. I'd rather do this slow and steady, to build up to a proper lifestyle change.

The kids.

Baby Jos was at the doctor yesterday for her four month well baby visit. She is quite healthy and very strong. She is 12 pounds, 5 ounces and 23 1/4 inches long. She is rolling over both ways and she loves to, when she's lying down, grab your fingers and pull herself up to a sitting position. She is grabbing things and trying to get them into her mouth now. Her favorite thing to grab? Gage's fingers. He thinks it's hysterical when she gnaws on his knuckles, and this never gets old...for either of them.

Lila and I had a problem yesterday. The booster for her chair at the dining room table broke, and it was one of those times when you see the broken thing and know that you can live without if for quite some time, but regardless of that you clap your hands together and say "We need to go to Target. Right now." Lila happily agreed to go with me, but when I went to buckle her in her carseat she freaked out.

Acceptable way to handle this: "I changed my mind. I'd rather stay home and play."

Strong-willed two year old's way of handling this: (screeches like an injured monkey while contorting body and arching back to degrees previously assumed impossible without sustaining major bodily injury)

Me: (carried her, kicking and screaming, back into the house where she sat in time-out for several minutes until she could pull herself together)

Lila: "Sowwy, Mommy." (chin quivering, cheeks blotchy red, eyes swollen)
Me: "That was absolutely unacceptable, Lila. We do not throw fits in this house."
Lila: "But I won't do it next time."
Me: "Let's try it again."

The trip to Target was uneventful, which was good. We had a nice time together, and Lila was a good listener (despite pointing at practically everything and suggesting that we buy it. Good idea, Li, but we don't really need a helium tank. Also, men's pants will not fit you.).

On the way home I asked her what she wanted to listen to. Mike and I normally play whatever we're in the mood for from the iPod but once in a while we let the kids choose. Gage often pipes up: "Funk Soul Brother!" (Fatboy Slim). Lila usually picks Bob Marley, which she did this time.

I'll give you her half of the conversation. You can probably fill in mine.
"What's a buffalo soldier?"
"What's taken from Africa?"
"What's war with America?"
"What's fighting?"
(I tell her that she and I had a fight earlier, when she was throwing a fit about Target)
"Oh. But I was Alice then."
(I assure her she was Lila)
"No, I was Alice."
"No, I was Alice."
"No, I was Alice."

-Long Silence-

"What's agree to disagree?"

Mike and I were standing in the front yard chatting with the neighbors last week, and Gage was playing with the last of the snow. He used a shovel to fill a small wagon with snow, then ran inside. He came out with two bottles of beer, which he stuck in the wagon, nestled in the snow. He pulled it to Mike and the neighbor, saying "Beer delivery!"

I laughed and said, "That's great service! You know, I could use a sandwich."

His eyes brightened and he leaned toward me seriously. "What kind do you want?"

Gage and I went out to lunch last week, just me and him, and he chose a Chinese restaurant. We had a very nice time and I was impressed that he used chopsticks for the entire meal. He has little kid 'learning' chopsticks at home (they're hinged at the top) but these were proper 'adult' chopsticks and he had very little trouble with them. What a big guy!

Two shoutouts:

My poor Mom is having a rough time. Her father was just diagnosed with Shingles and her dog (a 12-year-old lab) had surgery yesterday and is not doing well. I know this is a difficult time for her and I know that there's not much anyone can do to help...all we can count on is good doctors and the passage of time. But I wish to send her strength in these stressful days.

On the lighter end, congratulations to my dear friend Raine, who had a baby girl two days ago. Abigail joins a big sister and I'm so happy for Raine and her family. I'm thrilled that Abigail and her mommy are healthy and strong. Congrats!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Gage and Lila have been playing "Alice" the past several days. We're reading Alice In Wonderland at bedtime, a chapter a night, and the kids *love* it. (We finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - for the second time in a row - about a week ago and they requested Alice next.)

Usually Lila is Alice, and Gage is The White Rabbit. Lila walks around carrying a cookie in one hand (the 'eat me' cake) and a little bottle in the other (the 'drink me' drink). She nibbles and sips, and frantically repeats "Which way? Which way?" and pretends to grow and shrink. Gage hops around saying "Oh, my whiskers. Where is my fan? Where are my gloves?" Then Lila cries a lot and swims through her tears. It was the cutest game ever (the first 100 times).

Which brings me to nicknames. Lila often likes us to call her 'Snow White' or 'Sleeping Beauty' (which she knows nothing about - other than they are 'princesses'). After we kiss Sleeping Beauty she smiles at us and says "Now I'm Awake Beauty!"

She loves, right now, to be called Alice. What she does NOT like to be called? Alice Walice Palice Talice. She SHRIEKS when Gage calls her this, she screams: "My. Name. Is. ALICE!"

But Gage got this from her - she sometimes calls him Gager Rager Pager Tager. And me Mommy Wommy Pommy Tommy.

She can dish it out, but she can't take it.

We call Lila: Ms. Lila, Monkey 2, and, often, Li. Gage sometimes calls her Sweetie Pie, which is adorable. Also: Little Girl.

We call Gage: Gager, Gagerdoo, Monkey 1. Lila calls him Gager Rager Honeydew and Gagie.

We call Josephine: Josie, Jos, Baby Jos, Monkey 3, Josephine Jellybean and Josephine the Dancing Queen.

I did have to tell Lila that I don't like the nickname 'Mommy Wommy Pommy Tommy' (partially because it took her an hour and a half to ask me a simple question). Her response? "Okay, Princess Mommy."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Josie The Great

Jos is rolling both ways already - front-to-back *and* back-to-front. We had to pack the bouncy seat back into the attic because she sits up in it, and can tip to the side (and fall out). As soon as you put her in it, she sits up. It's ridiculous.

Have I mentioned she's three freaking months old!? HOW do Mike and I make such wiry children?

Gage keeps asking me when we're having Baby #4. My head swims.

He wants another sister. Honestly, he's the best big brother I've ever met. He's eternally patient with Josie. He is gentle, quiet, soothing, protective. Lila...he seems to figure she can more or less stand up for herself (which, really, is accurate). But Josie is the love of Gage's life.

I vote we wait a few years before we broach the 'Baby #4' topic.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lunch with Lila

The upside to Mike being laid off is that we've been able to have more one-on-one time with the kids. And we spent a Monday, a couple of weeks ago, at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. It was awesome - the kids had a lot of fun.

I have been going into the office every morning from 9-noon, and then I drop Gage at preschool Mon-Wed. This Monday, after dropping Gage off, Lila and I went out to lunch. Just the two of us. I was really looking forward to our lunch date. Lila was excited, too. We went to a small, fancy sandwich shop / caterer not far from our house. For some reason I kind of expected us to chat, not really remembering that Lila is two. Gage can hold real conversations, and Lila is always piping up with her opinions so I guess I thought she was participating in the conversations more than she actually is. Once we were alone I realized that, charmingly, Lila's speech is made up mostly of observations combined with anything major that happened to her recently. She was not interested in the back-and-forth of conversation...she wanted to entertain me.

"Snowflakes!" she cried, pointing. Every couple of feet a sparkly wooden snowflake hung from the ceiling. "Can I reach it?" she grunts as she reaches her arm up as high as it can go. Not coming close, she begins to stand up in her seat.

"No, sweetie, you must sit in your chair. What do you want? Tuna salad? A hamburger?"

She settles back into the seat and, still looking up, says "I will eat snowflakes for lunch." Then she giggles as though she's told a hysterical joke. She reaches up again and pretends to grab a flake, makes a chomping noise like she's eating it.

"You're funny," I smile.

Chomp. There goes another snowflake. Chomp.

"What should we order for lunch? Do you want turkey?"

"I will eat alllll the snowflakes." She's grinning and bouncing in her chair as she reaches up again and again, pretending to pull all the decorations from the ceiling.

The waitress comes over to take our order.

"Milk!" Lila exclaims, as though she's gone days without a drink.

"Lila," I squint at her warningly.

"I mean," she begins again, and switches her voice to quiet, sweet and high-pitched, "May I please have some milk?" This polite voice is like a parody of a polite voice. Too sweet, too girlie, too wheedling. I love it.

"That's much better. Coffee for me." By the IV, if possible. "She will have the chicken soup and a bowl of fruit." I order my own sandwich and the waitress retreats.

"I like that nice lady," Lila says, watching her walk away.

"So, how was your morning?" I ask.

Lila holds up a hand, and I see a small, colorful band-aid wrapped around one of her fingers. "I was jump-jump-jumping on the trampoline," (the kids have a small, indoor trampoline with an attached rail to hold for balance) "And I hit my finger with my tooth and I was crying and crying. I was crying so hard and then I stopped and I didn't turn into a piggy." (Thanks, Alice in Wonderland.)

"Oh my," I say sympathetically. "That sounds like it really hurt."

"Daddy gave me a band-aid."

"I see that."

"I was jump-jump-jumping on the trampoline," Lila begins again.

"Yeah, and you hurt your finger."

"I hit my finger with my tooth." (Wait, didn't we just have this conversation?) "I was crying so hard. But I didn't--"

"Yeah, you didn't turn into a piggy," I'm trying to rush her through the instant replay because the waitress is back with our drinks. Lila says a quiet Thank You as her milk is placed in front of her.

"That lady is nice," Lila says again, and wrinkles her brow in concentration as she opens her straw wrapper.

"What else did you do this morning?"

"Played with Gager." She looks up, and chomps a few more snowflakes. "Here, Mommy," she picks up her milk and passes it to me. I lunge for it - it's full and wobbly in her little hands. "I want to share my milk."

"Oh, thank you. But that's okay. You drink it."

"No, I want to shaaare."

"All right," I take a tiny sip of milk and make an appropriate yummy sound. "You want some coffee?"

"No!" she laughs.

"Good girl."

"I have to poop!"

"Let's go," I take her hand and we start the amazingly long journey to the bathroom. It's like a quarter mile from the table, through many skinny, ill-lighted hallways. Some places have the strangest bathrooms, and you see them all when you have little kids.

No action, but lots of hand-scrubbing later (Lila loves to wash her hands) lands us back at our table.

"Why don't you tell me a story?" I ask.

"Once upon a time," she begins immediately, "There was a pointy tree and it was chasing us! It was chasing the big girl and the mommy and the daddy. They said, 'Oh no!'" She's getting a little loud, and I shush her a bit so we don't make any enemies. "They were running and the big pointy tree was chasing them!"

"Wow, that sounds scary."

"Yeah. And once upon a time there was a big girl and the big girl said 'I hate Baby Josie!' and the big girl went to time out in her bunk bed all day."

My eyes widen. One the one hand I'm surprised, on the other hand not really. "Well, anyone who says they hate someone should go to time out, because that's not a nice thing to say." Lila looks at me, like, I know. Weren't you listening to the story?

Luckily our food arrives, sparing us both from any more stories involving the tiny screamer who replaced Lila as the baby in the family.

Lila enthusiastically spoons up her soup, pleased with the celery 'moons' in each bite. She's content to eat peacefully for several minutes, and so am I. She turns her attention to her fruit and picks up a cube of green melon with her fork.

"What's this?" it's been a long time since we've had summer fruits.

"That's honeydew. Melon."

She gobbles it, spears another piece of fruit. "What's this?"

"That's canteloupe. Melon."

"What's this?"


"What's this?"

"A grape. You know what grapes are."

"What's this?"

"Honeydew. Sweetie...." I try to think of a way to change the subject.

"Have some," she pushes the fork toward my mouth.

"I wish I could, but I'm allergic."

"Just have a little," she urges. She puts on the polite, wheedling voice again. "Just have a little, Mommy."

"I can't." No means no, Lila! I'm getting peer pressure from a two-year-old!

"I have to poop!"

Back through the hallways we go, under the flickering, buzzing lights. Past the strange and unwelcoming doorways that must lead to storage rooms. Why does the bathroom have to be so far away?

"You really have to go this time," I tell her, "Because this is the last trip to the potty."

"Okay," she says.

Back at the table I finish my sandwich and Lila finishes her fruit. She's eaten a decent amount of soup. The waitress refills my coffee and packages up the remaining soup for us to take home.

"I like that nice lady," Lila says.

"Yeah, me too." Lila has been eyeing the spinning display of cakes and now the restaurant is mostly empty, save for a handful of older women (who think Lila is "Just adorable! How old are you, sweetie, three?" "Yes," Lila nods. I hide a smile and say "She'll be three in May."). I figure it's safe now to let her look around a little, since the display is in plain view and not far away.

"Lila, you've done a good job of staying in your seat. Would you like to go look at those cakes?"


"Okay. You may, but you have to come back when I call you."

"Okay!" She trots off, and stares at the cake display while I sip my coffee.

"Mommy," she stage whispers. "Call me back."

"What? Oh, um, Lila, come back please." She trots back to me, then breaks into a run. "Walk," I remind her. You must walk." She immediately slows, taking slow-motion, exaggerated steps.

"Let's go pay," I say, taking my last gulp of coffee. At the register Lila picks up a tin of candy.

"What's this?"


"You like mint! Here you go, Mommy." She slides the tin onto the counter while I'm getting money from my bag.

"Oh, thanks, sweetie, but we're not going to buy these." I put the mints back on the rack and hand the money to the cashier.

"And what's your name?" the cashier asks. Lila, suddenly shy, turns her face into my legs.

"Say, 'My name's Lila,'" I prompt.

"My name's Yi-yah," she whispers.

"Aww, how sweet," the cashier smiles. "You want these mints, too?"

"What? No," I put the mints back again - this kid is slick. I didn't even see her put them up there the second time.

We get our coats on, and we've survived a nice lunch together in peace, repetition and observation. I love this kid.

We had a great time, and it was truly lovely to get out with just Li. I'm going to do a solo-Gage trip sometime this week, and then Mike will do solo trips with them next week.

Last night I said, "Tell Grandma who you went to lunch with yesterday," and I had to laugh at Lila's memory of it.

"Baby Josie!" Lila cried.

"No, was just Lila and...."

"Daddy! And Mommy! And Gage! And Baby Josie!"

"Left quite an impression on her, our alone time," I joked to my mom.

But I'll remember it well. Me and my girl.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Enjoy Every Sandwich

Mike and I have been talking a lot lately about making every moment count. We have sort of different ideas about it, and I can really only tell you mine, since I really only understand mine.

I am having lots of fun with my kids. I love being married to Mike. We laugh every day and I can't imagine being happier than I am right now.


And there's always a but, right? Things are busy. Things are crazy. Last night we had three crying kids at the dinner table, and that's hard. (Gage could not swallow the bite of roasted eggplant in his mouth and it started dribbling chunkily into his lap in a most disgusting way, Lila fell out of her chair and landed sharply on her hip, and Josie was...well...she's a baby.) Mike and I stared across the table at each other, half-grinning in that insane "Where do we go from here?" way.

There's always more to do. I cannot take care of the kids, prepare meals, keep up on laundry *and* have a spotless house. I just can't do it. And I don't really care. Who cares? I'd like to have a clean house, but it's not going to be me who keeps it perfect. I have priorities, and there are a lot of things that I need to do in a day before I collapse from exhaustion and stare unhappily at the cherry juice stain on the table, or the pile of socks and undies on the bathroom floor. Everything is sticky and nothing is perfect. And I'm okay with that.

Mike likes to quote Warren Zevon who, in his last days, advised us all to "Enjoy every sandwich." Sage advice, words that put a lump in my throat, but, of course, impossible to do. I propose that maybe part of the joy of this time is being overwhelmed. I am living (struggling through, at times) a very special time in my life, a time that I will forever look back on with want. Maybe it's okay to be so immersed in picture books and paint and flour and markers and tape and laundry and, yes, crying, that it's a privilege to be snowed under by it. There's so much little kid in my life right now that later, when I miss it, I'll remember fondly the gluttonous overflow of little kid.

It's what Mike and I call the "Steak Again?" phenomenon. I worked for years in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant, and employee meals were on the house - whatever the restaurant had a surplus of on any given day. Some days were light - a big bowl of pasta with fresh tomato sauce. Other days were fantastic - a thick slice of shrimp and crab and cheese heaven with a flaky crust. Most days it was steak. The first couple of weeks I was thrilled to have tender strips of medium-rare meat, with a big serving of buttery garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was so pleasing to have this fine meal, for free, after an evening of hard work.

After a couple of months, though, and then years, those of us in the 'back of the house' began jokingly complaining, "Steak again?" And then kind of groaning for real, because there's only so much red meat a person can eat.

I don't know if this makes any sense. It's hard to explain.

I used to babysit for a four-year-old boy - a clever, creative kid, actually smart as a whip. One day his dad was kissing him goodbye and said, "I love you. You know I love you, right?" and the boy said "I know," in an eye-rolling, give-me-a-break kind of way. How delightful! How amazing to be so often reminded of your parents' love, that you can brush it off, just completely knowing that it's there.

Steak again?

Imagine having the overabundance of such a happy thing that it's actually, pleasurably, too much. It's a benefit to be so full of something wonderful, that it's everywhere you look.

So while Mike tries to enjoy every sandwich I'm more content to acknowledge the craziness of my life right now and bask in it. I have the privilege of being annoyed by mopping spilled milk for the third time today, and I have the privilege of reading this book one more time, when we all already know it by heart.

It won't be like this forever.

As for my favorite Warren Zevon quote, it's also rather live-in-the-day:

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back to Work

Sitting at my desk at work I feel a wave of nostalgia for being pregnant. Around me are reminders of that time that already feels so long ago. That big, awkward, round, uncomfortable time...that also happened to be miraculous.

In my drawer there are individually wrapped Jaw Breakers, for the sweet cravings. Also packets of sunflower seeds in their shells, for the salty cravings.

A bottle of Mylanta for the constant heartburn.

I have pictures of my kids taped to my computer monitor. My eyes hurt from staring at the screen - I'm no longer accustomed to this.

It's strange to have more than one life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Maternity Leave

I go back to work in two days. Sigh.

I've had three months off, and it's been wonderful. Josie is often quite a fussy baby, but she also has sweet times (Gage was fussy full-time, and didn't get sweet until he was an older baby). So Jos requires a lot of attention, which I am happy to give her. We've had some very long days of lots of crying and no naps, but we've also had plenty of all-around excellent days to make up for it.

My stint as a stay-at-home mom has been priceless. I love to cook and bake and have enjoyed family dinners made from scratch, with lots of help from Gage (this weekend he picked Black and White Cookies from a recipe book and we made them together - they were good!). We've also had many fun evenings together, which we don't normally have when I'm working. There's just, of course, not enough time.

Some highlights from the break have been:

The Polar Express Train Ride. We went in mid-December on a two-hour train ride in Phillipsburg, NJ. The Polar Express was read over the loud speakers, the kids (dressed in their PJs) got hot chocolate and cookies. Santa came through and talked to everyone. It was charming and cold and loud and the kids had a blast.

Christmas. My favorite memories from this Christmas were (1) Gage wrapped seven presents for me and put them under the tree. He was worried I'd feel left out because I spent one morning wrapping presents for him, Lila, Jos & Mike and I put them under the tree for decoration. Gage was concerned about my not having any gifts, so he collected some items from around the house and wrapped them for me. On Christmas morning I opened the calculator I use for balancing the checkbook (which I had blamed Mike for stealing), a bottle of super glue, a roll of packing tape, some stickers, an invitation to a birthday party (I'd had to call the mother of the birthday boy to say "What time is the party again? I can't seem to find the invitation anywhere!"). I told Gage that I was happy that he had chosen so many things that I really like (for real - I love super glue and use the calculator all the time). He smiled and said "I watched you to see what you like so you'd have nice presents." Such a sweetheart. (2) My parents bought a certain Cabbage Patch Doll that Lila has been eyeing for months (you can style its hair). When Lila opened it her face lit up and she just kept saying "I wanted this! I wanted this!" over and over. She was clearly thrilled. (3) Both the older two were really interested in Josie's gifts and happy for her when she got something neat. I love these kids.

New Year's. We had our friends' kids, Bella and Wyatt, sleep over on New Year's Eve. Gage voted himself the supplier of snacks and set out a lovely plate full of candy - decorated beautifully and colorfully. It was enjoyed by all.

Gage and Lila have always done a lot of art projects but Gage has ramped it up even more in recent weeks. It's like he turned a corner, or a lightbulb went off or something, because now his artwork is recognizable - people look like people, trees look like trees. He still likes to do scribbles and random shapes, too, and he is quick to explain these: "It's abstract."

Lila has a new dream - to be a ballerina. She loves to watch ballet on TV and I pull her hair back, she slips into a gauzy skirt and she prances and spins around the living room. She lifts one foot high into the air, balancing with one hand on the coffee table, and shouts: "I'm doin' it!"

Josie is almost three months old now, and is very strong. She likes to be held in a standing position, with her feet in your lap, so she can put weight on her legs. When she's on her belly on the floor she lifts her head way high up to look around. She smiles and coos at us and playfully sticks her tongue out. Her eyes are so bright and alert, and have been since birth.

Gage made up his first poem today, and is quite proud of himself. Here it is:

Let me through
To get a tissue

He carefully wrote it out, letter by letter (with prompting from me), on a piece of construction paper. Then he spilled soup on it and started all over again. "Wasn't that sad luck?" he asked me. But he wrote it all again, cheerfully. He added "To Grandma, From Gage" on the bottom of the page and we mailed it to my mom this afternoon. I'm sure she'll be thrilled to get such a lovely poem in the mail.

I'm trying to face returning to work the best I can. Of course I'm disappointed, but we have no choice at this point. Mike was laid off two weeks ago and *should* be rehired in March, but we don't know yet for sure. It's scary for him to be out of a job, but not unexpected in this economy, nor in his line of work in the middle of winter. We're taking things week by week, and trying not to picture the current situation as long-term. He will be back at work sometime soon, and if things go well maybe I'll be able to take more time off. We'll just have to see how it plays out.

So, remaining present, it's supposed to snow another 18 inches today on top of the six we already have. So tomorrow may be a 'snowed in' day, which is my very favorite part of winter. I'll bake bread, maybe sticky buns, and roast a turkey for dinner. There's nothing like a warm house full of good smells to combat the snow. And Sunday is Gage's Second Annual Valentine's Day Party, so we have baking and crafts to do for that, too.

I have loved the last three months of my life more than I've loved any other time, as long as I can remember. I'm sad to change my schedule, but we'll do what we have to do and we'll try to smile our way through it. Nothing's easy, and keeping busy is better than not. Right? (Well, it's got to be when you don't have a choice.) Right.