Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The First Joke

It is DOB's custom to read D1 one story before bedtime. This was supposed to be exclusively for her after D2 goes to bed, but sometimes we are running slow on getting D2 to bed. But regardless, the story is definitely for her. She gets to pick it, although sometimes DOB tries to persuade her that something other than Stop That Ball! for the sixth night running might be desirable.

Anyway, the other night she was looking at the bookshelf (and the pile of things in front of the bookshelf that hadn't quite got put away). She reached down amid the rubble and picked up a tube of A&D ointment that had fallen out of the diaper-changing supplies. Grinning mischievously, she said, "You want to read this book?"

Finally she had settled on Stop That Ball! yet again. Seeking for variety, DOB asked, "Shall I read it backwards?"

"You want to read it frontwards."

Friday, October 27, 2006


This is one of their favorite things to do. I don't know why. The toys are, as you can see, a random assortment of old vitamin bottles, film canisters, and useless CDs. You would be surprised how much fun they can be. They serve equally well as dishes for a tea party and soldiers in a war.

I was just enjoying a few quiet moments in which to cook supper while I heard peals of happy laughter from what I thought was their bedroom. After this continued for awhile, I decided I really should see what they were up to. Cautiously creeping to the back of the house, I soon realized they were not in their bedroom. They were in the bath tub, dancing about with the shampoo and soaking their socks.

Grownups live here, too

This is from a night out early this month. In my estimation, it was our first real date, as we'd only gone out to eat dinner alone twice since we met, and both of those were at truck stops, which hardly counts. We had a wonderful evening. Who knows? Maybe we'll start going steady.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On the Street Where You Used to Live

Last Saturday we traveled back to our old town to help B2 out with his "new" house, which of course is in fact very old and smelly with loathsome carpet, having been formerly occupied by college students, and is going to need oodles and oodles of work. But he's a bachelor and he likes sheetrocking, so more power to him. I cannot fathom how my parents managed an equivalent task with two toddlers. I would not even begin to think of trying.

There really was not anywhere to let the children play, except on the couch, which could only keep them busy for so long. It was the sort of day on which a Hallmark movie script would dictate a visit to the Old Hometown: blue skies, golden leaves, brisk but not chilly breeze. So the ducklings and I left DOB helping with the gutters and went out to our old park, with the duck pond and the castle. A goose tried to attack me while I was putting the children in the car, but I gave it a stout kick across the parking lot and subdued it.

After we tired of the park, we went to our old library, which is a huge and elegant Carnegie building. Since we moved they had added some toys and a rug to play on, and that kept the ducklings quite occupied with something besides pulling books off the shelves. I found all kinds of books I wanted to check out, but couldn't because who knows when I would get around to returning them? So we just went back and had lunch, which involved persuading the guys to actually set up a table, and then hauling everything outside where the ambience was considerably better than in the living room.

As we were driving in to town, DOB said, "Wouldn't it be funny if our old house was for sale again?" We drove by, and sure enough, "For Sale By Owner." Our buyer had also apparently decided to compensate for my perhaps-rash removal of the bushes from the front flower bed by putting in a monstrous urn, which I did not think helped much. But the sweet gum tree was as lovely as it always is in October. I miss that tree and all those prickle-balls it dropped.

After lunch I drove the children down to Grandma's house for naps, past the lake framed with maples and the little farm stands overflowing with pumpkins. I miss those, too. I even miss the everlasting corn fields.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Suffering Little Children

No, the ducklings aren't particularly suffering, except for another round of colds, which, while somewhat nasty in the nose department, seems to be affecting their spirits not a whit.

One would think that having done five children for a day last week, I would find caring for two a walk in the park. One would be wrong. Actually it left me feeling rather tired of the presence of small children for several days.

Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me. After all, I used to like being around small children. I even sought out opportunities to be with them. Now, I find myself rather unenchanted by small children in general (excepting the ducklings) and certainly not eager to multiply my opportunities to interact with them.

Well, really, it's just a matter of saturation. When my days consisted of staring at a computer or a book and trying to have Profound Thoughts, naturally a round of "Duck, Duck, Goose" was a nice relief. On the other hand, when my day consists of endless rounds of diapers and Very Hungry Caterpillars, it's the Thinking Profound Thoughts that is a welcome relief. It's not as if I would choose being a preschool teacher out of other career choices; I spend time with my children because they are mine, not because they are children.

Of course, when all the children in the world were equally unrelated, they were roughly equally charming. Now my own so vastly surpass all the rest in my esteem that my feelings toward the rest seem rather indifferent.

That said, why is it that churches so easily fall into assigning the mothers of small children to work in the nursery and preschool Sunday School classes? Yes, they're handy and well-qualified; yes, they're bringing half the class. And yes, they probably volunteered. (I just did. Stupid of me. It should be short-term, though, while the existing teacher is out having a baby.) But wouldn't they perhaps enjoy doing something different for a change? And perhaps some teenagers or empty-nesting mothers would really enjoy spending two hours with babies.

I think I'll ask about working in the library.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Shoe Sales

Before I begin, I should note that we are really quite grateful for the shoe company in question, which does sell excellent shoes. Thanks to them DOB has been able to find dress shoes he can wear without agony, which means his footgear options are not limited to a choice between black and gray tennis shoes.

Still, having to come up with enticing descriptions for dozens of only very slightly different shoes must be a taxing job. Hence, let the mocking commence.

Perfect for moving from bustling downtown venues to side streets and out-of-the-way bistros. However, if you want to move from "elegant seaside villas to countryside hamlets," you'll need the shoes on the opposite page.

As you observe this handsewn calfskin slip-on, you're quick to realize that Spain's reputation for brilliance, theatrics and intensity of life seems well deserved. Once you put them on, though, you will be disillusioned.

It's not unusual to come across a Spanish fiesta and get swept up in the exuberant celebration. Well then, why has it never happened to me?

Italian craftsmen have created a handsewn dress loafer that is truly inspired. So if you catch your shoes writing sonnets, you'll know why.

Wear the premium leather casual that begs you to test the elements, rain or shine. Like dogs, only they don't bark or mess up the carpet.

Europeans would say this woven calfskin slip-on bespeaks an elevated level of sophisticated nonchalance. We would refer to it as "confidence." Because, um, we don't know what all those long words mean?

There's a quiet magnificence in our soft, supple deerskin slip-on that you'd be hard-pressed to find in a shoe of lesser caliber. Our shoes are better than shoes that are worse! Who would have thought?

There's something of the traditional country gentleman in this soft leather scuff slipper. Poor fellow.

Nobody in the Duchy seems to have much of a gift for marketing. I fear we will never strike it rich in business.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Yes. We survived. Three potty accidents resulting in two extra loads of laundry (after I had carefully arranged it so I would NOT have to do laundry). Four dirty diapers. One falling off a chair. Assorted emotional trauma. Unwittingly swapped sippy cups. Parents two hours later than initially forecast. But no one got sick or suffered any permanent emotional or physical scars, so it was a success. And none of the accidents were on the couch.

Most of the activities on the list below were well-received. The craft was fun; not only are open-ended art projects more nurturing of creativity, they're a whole lot less work than the kind that have an actual goal. The Bible story was heard by at least some, and everyone loved making their slings go 'round and 'round. (Indeed, one little girl wanted to do nothing but listen to me sing for most of the time. I got rather hoarse.) Jumping on the carpet squares was also very popular, even though only one of the children could technically jump.

The most popular activity, of course, was one of which I never would have thought and probably would have rendered impossible had I had the foresight to predict it. It was climbing in and out of D2's play yard (dubbed the "OK Corrall"), and driving it all around the living room. So much for the instructions that say it is suitable for children from 6 to 42 months. (Or perhaps they just leave open the question, "Suitable for what?" It certainly kept them entertained, even if not contained.

In conclusion, I would like to remark that I have now put "opening a home daycare" somewhere on my list of desired professions below "providing janitorial service for junior high bathrooms." And I fully intend to take advantage of the two evenings' worth of free babysitting I've been promised in return.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Tomorrow morning, I am taking care of five children for at least four hours. The oldest is three. There was going to be someone to help me out, but I think I'm on my own now. Two of them, of course, are the ducklings. Two others are the pastor's children, with whom we play quite often. The fifth is the child of visiting missionaries, who when I saw her in the nursery on Sunday looked like she had had about enough of strange places and people. Rain is in the forecast. We do not own a video player. Three girls in the 2-3 range and two boys in the 10-13 month range, neither of whom is walking so even going to the basement or attic would be unreasonably difficult.

Now, I'm generally all for children learning to find their own activities. But experience has taught that having a plan--a long, long plan--is essential when dealing with a crowd. So here is my list of Things To Do:

Bible Story (David and Goliath is where we are, that should work)
Collage for the girls (old wrapping paper and glue to do with as they wish); ripping paper for the boys or putting things in and out of containers, which children of that age find incredibly absorbing
Snack: apples and cheese
Playing swamp with carpet squares (as much running and jumping around as possible)
Reading books
Stringing beads for the girls; matchbox cars for the boys
Lunch (should be sent with them)
And then . . . . I hope their parents will return. And we can all take naps.

Fortunately tonight's menu is pizza. If all goes well, I'll make it myself. If not . . . we have some welcome-to-the-neighborhood coupons to use up.

I suppose this would all be old hat for someone who did daycare or something, but it seems mind-boggling to me. Wish me well.

This and That

Posting was rather light last week because I was working very hard to get the house cleaned and organized (well, more or less) before the long-anticipated arrival of friends to spend the night with us. Much got done. It's been three months now since we moved in and things really feel like home. I don't think I'll fully relax until we pass the six-month mark without any impetus to move.

The weather is bouncing around from warm to cold to warm again, so we seize whatever chances we can to enjoy the last fragments of Indian summer. I don't regret all the days we ignored the dishes to go spend time at the park; we've had many good days together, the ducklings have grown amazingly in coordination and observation, and the dishes did get done eventually. (Well, except for the skillet full of eggs I burned this morning.)

I'm not too inspired to do more household organizing for awhile now, though. What I want to do is work on Library Thing. The books already listed are ones I could see from the computer. Someday I shall get around to the ones that involve actual work to enter. Besides being enormously fun, it has two practical applications that I immediately see: (1) Making it easier for my book-buying sisters to determine whether we already have something; (2) Doing a topic search of our own shelves when we want to study something in particular. Sometimes it's too easy to go get books from the library when actually we have perfectly good books here; it's just that the library is more searchable.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On the move

After a few tentative steps last month, D2 seems to have given up on the idea of walking. Walking, in his view, is an activity of limited usefulness. As far as you go, and as steady as you walk, you still remain on the same level. If we could teach him flying, he would be all for it.

In the absence of flight lessons, he'll settle for learning to climb. In this he needs no encouragement. One carelessly abandoned toolbox and he is on his way up. Monday he was climbing on and off the piano bench, although he tended to get stuck and howl in protest on his way down. Yesterday he figured out the dining room chairs, without even needing a prop to get started. He's not awake yet today, but I shudder to see what it is today. The table top remains unconquered, but not, we are sure, for long.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Twenty-five Ways I Save Money

This idea is borrowed from Meredith. However, I have to come up with all the ideas myself. I'm not sure I can make it to twenty-five, but I'll try.

1. Mothers of Twins Sales. It's like hitting twenty kid stuff garage sales on the same day. The prices might be a weensy bit higher than you'd get on the street, but still better than a thrift store or resale shop. And the time saved hunting around is definitely worth it for me. I can go to the spring sale and the fall sale and get everything I need for the kids at once. Today's find was a large play yard for $15.

2. Procrastination. If one puts off until tomorrow what one could have bought today, one may discover that one can keep muddling along without it a bit longer. Or perhaps even ever.

3. Library movies. The selection in our library system is awesome. DOB just checks at work as to which of the branches on his route home might have something we want to see, and we can watch anything for free. Just have to watch those late fees.

4. Cooking everything from scratch. I would do this anyway, for health and allergy reasons, but I presume it saves money. I don't know for sure because I've never tried doing anything else and I'm too lazy to calculate the difference just for the sake of knowing.

5. Cloth diapers (and training pants) at home. I'm still using the same diapers and covers on D2 that I bought for D1; I only have to buy a package of the store-brand diapers for outings every few months.

6. Hanging laundry up to dry. Actually I hadn't done this much until last week, because I needed the full allotment of training pants to get through the next day. But some long-awaited progress by D1 at a certain necessary life skill has made it possible for me to hang up the diapers and let them dry twenty-four hours.

7. Making baby food. I'm too paranoid about allergies to serve table food to babies under one. So my blender and I are very good friends; I usually puree a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays. And that celebratory whoop you heard last week was D2 progressing to table food.

8. Aldi's. It was a great day when DOB discovered there was one near his work and offered to go there every other week. We're still working out the bugs in our system, but each of us now only has to go shopping every other week; I get the stuff not available at Aldi's on the opposite weeks.

9. Reserve meals. Canned beans, cheese, salsa and tortilla chips is not the healthiest or cheapest meal. But it's a lot cheaper and healthier than ordering pizza on a day of desperation. So I try to keep it in stock.

10. Laziness. I hate shopping. I don't do it unless I absolutely have to.

11. Being nice to DOB's family. We save incalculable amounts in handyman work and babysitting thanks to their help.

12. Being low maintenance. I still haven't needed to replenish my makeup supply since we got married.

13. Trash for toys. You know how people complain their children ignore the expensive toys and play with the boxes? We just give our kids the boxes. You wouldn't believe how much fun a Kleenex box (or rather the Aldi's brand of tissues) can provide.

14. Moving closer to work. This saves an amazing amount on gas, insurance, and DOB's psychiatric bills.

15. Sunrocket. This is DOB's department, but he researched it incessantly so it must save us money over the other phone/internet options.

16. Waiting to call the doctor. Unless a child is behaving seriously ill (which hasn't happened so far), I wait at least three days to call the doctor. By that time, they're well.

17. Family discount at the chiropractor. We go every week; we pay a flat fee for the month. We think this is why the kids are always better in three days.

18. Beans. They're cheap. They're healthy. They're a lot more filling if you combine them with a little meat.

19. No tv or cable. We do have cable internet service, though.

20. Drinking water. It's cheap; it's healthy. It tastes good. If you never give your children juice, they'll never ask for it.

21. Library book sales. These don't really save money. But they're certainly cheaper than buying the books new.

22. Buy packs of blank cards and make up my own appropriate for the occasion. This is fun and more special than something off the rack. D1 likes to help.

23. Packing meals. DOB carries his lunch and breakfast every day. When we go out to some (free) event, I fix a meal we can take along. On vacation in a hotel for two days, I cooked in a crockpot.

24. Pain Free. DOB is skeptical that this saves us money. But it saves us a lot in pain and suffering, and I think that makes us more efficient. If we would take pain killers, it would save us on pain killers, but we prefer suffering.

25. Have cheap friends. That way you can do cheap things together.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Do not bother to ask,
“Is it naptime?”
“Did I wake you up?”
Because if it was (and it was),
And you did (and you did),
Then it is too late.
I am awake;
They are awake;
You might as well get it over with.
What did you want to say?

Do not ring the bell.
Leave the box on the porch.
I will see it, someday.
If I am not too tired to walk so far.
But whatever you do,
Do not ring the bell.

There is no rest, they say,
to the wicked.
The Beloved of God receive sleep.
I am, no doubt, of a deceitful
And wicked heart.
But is it really that bad?
Couldn’t I merit a thirty-minute nap, at least?

Are there not sixteen hours in the day
In which you could get drinks of water
And fill your diaper
And claim parental reassurance?
Must you need it now?
At three in the morning?

Do not drive your car by my house
With its subwoofers and bass boost
I am sure it is impressive
I wish you all the best.
May you impress that girl.
May you have a large and noisy family,
Who keep you up all night.

Excess of sleep, the wise man says,
Leads to poverty.
If that is true, I ought to be rich.
Very rich.
Rich enough to afford voice mail
And a butler
And a nanny
And a sound-proof room.

Rich enough to sleep.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My life clearly has been dull

Or maybe I just have a different definition of adventures. Stolen from C.
Bold is what I've done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath
08. Said “I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper (Yeah. Duh.)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten tipsy on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (I don't remember exactly when, but I'm sure it's happened.)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run (Probably doesn't count if it was a two-person Calvin game.)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign (I did have one of questionable origins in my closet for awhile, but it wasn't mine.)
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs (I cannot even IMAGINE.)
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day (not voluntarily, to be sure)
60. *edited* (Sure, I edit things all the time. Oh wait, that's not what was originally there?)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites (If Roman ruins in London count.)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert” (I have been on radio, though.)
83. Got flowers for no reason (You mean from someone else? Or bought them for myself? Or bought them for someone else? Too many possibilities.)
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. *edited*
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (Just not very far. See above on diapers.)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication (if a newspaper in a good-sized city counts)
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart (Not that I know of, but I left a few bloody noses behind me.)
111. Helped an animal give birth (after the fact, anyway.)
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced (not for cosmetic reasons, anyway)
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
26. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad (I'm only halfway through.)
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (if a fish counts)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office (unless you count being a delegate at a county or state convention.)
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident (Fortunately it doesn't ask how many you've almost caused.)
150. Saved someone’s life (Well, as a mother of toddlers, that's sort of my everyday job. But I don't know if that counts either.)

Sick in style

While you're busy discovering your children's love language, and learning style, and personality type, don't forget to categorize your child's sickness style.

DOB is a Sleeper. Give him a good strong sampling of virus (he doesn't get sick over little things), and he will go to bed for twenty-four hours. Ask him how he is and he will moan faintly. This scared me for the first few times it happened after we were married, but now I know to just keep his water bottle filled and the children at bay and he will be perfectly fine tomorrow.

I'm a Martyr. I can pick up little bugs, too, but no matter how small or large the illness I insist on dragging myself through the daily routine, sniveling all the way. I am never completely out of commission, but the sickness drags on and on.

After observing the rounds of sickness since we moved in (moving always seems to mess up our immune systems), I have concluded that D1 is another Sleeper. When she had roseola, she barely dragged herself out of bed for a drink of water and a couple of bites of vitamins. Two days of that, and she was fine again.

D2, alas, is a Martyr. His fevers come and go, and he wants to do everything just like normal, except with considerable beefing up of the Attention and Nursing portions of the day. Also like me, he doesn't sleep well when he's sick.

The really unfair part is that in general illnesses we Martyrs will always be stuck taking care of things while the Sleepers sleep. No wonder we're so cranky.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Vignettes

QOC (watching in anguish as DOB's queen collides with her rook): I never see the most obvious things!

(DOB snatches the last tender fragment of peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie out of her hand.)

QOC: Hey, that's my cookie!

DOB: See, you don't always miss the most obvious things!

If only I cared about my chess game the way I care about my cookies.

Yesterday morning I was bristling with efficiency. I started rice for supper and cookie dough. I had breakfast all fixed. I actually went and woke the ducklings up, instead of waiting until they wailed in protest. This, I thought smugly, is the result of finally being caught up and having things ready the night before.

And then DOB, rushing to get out the door, asked, "Aren't you going to iron my clothes this morning?"

I should know by now: For me, being ahead is always the result of completely forgetting something essential.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Birthday Boy

I'd like to say something profound about D2's birthday, but I'll stop with saying that I'm very thankful for the year we might not have had. He enjoyed himself thoroughly on his birthday, showed due appreciation for each of his gifts, and considerable relish for the apple crisp we offered in lieu of birthday cake, as I'm cruelly strict about sweets for children not yet potty training.

In preparation for the great event, we actually put most of our pictures up on the wall. Here is D1, enjoying their wrappings.