Monthly Archives: February 2009

breaking news

26 February 2009
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Bella can roll from her back to her front and now from her front to her back.

Gates are a-comin’ to our house, yes, indeed.


25 February 2009
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Like Joe Biden before us, we headed to Ash Wednesday mass today. Miranda and Henry were both nervous about having ashes on their heads. Would it burn? Grandma explained that ashes were more like dirt, an idea that the priest repeated in his homily. The ashes remind us that we are from dirt and will be dirt and are dirt. And it was the cycle of my favorite Ash Wednesday gospel*, which I am noting for future reference as Matthew 6 something. It is the one in which Jesus reminds us that we should pray inside our rooms, privately. That the only glory to be had from public expressions of prayer, almsgiving and acts of charity is on earth, by hypocrites. And then we all get ashes on our foreheads to mark us publicly for the  rest of the day. The finer point of theology eludes me.

And an entirely too long intro to the Henry story. Rob came with us but didn’t get ashes. When we returned to the pew, Henry said quite loudly, “Papa! Don’t you want dirt on?”

*I am surprised as anyone that I have a favorite gospel passage. A particularly good homily on this passage in my teens has kept me from going to daytime Ash Wed. masses ever since. Too showy.

This one goes out to my…

24 February 2009
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Henry had a rough week last week. He went to the podiatrist on Monday. (cryo-freeze) Then he had his 5 year old check-up on Tuesday. (4 shots!) And on Wednesday, he went to the optometrist. (looks like someone is getting glasses). That hazard pay plus $12 from Great-Grandma plus $10 from Uncle N and Aunt M plus $4  from A&W equals Mario Kart for Wii!

I had no luck buying the game locally. I ordered it from NewEgg. And it arrived on Friday, when we weren’t home. On Saturday, when Rob helped Henry open the package and play his first glorious course of Mario Kart with the wheel…Henry said, “Papa, I think we should give the mailman a thank you note.”


21 February 2009
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It is not unusual to have snow in February. It is still winter, even in the groundhog’s mind. The counties to the north of us don’t seem to remember that. We drove up to see my grandparents yesterday. And drove back today. It snowed overnight. It was on the local news. I knew it was going to snow. I called Rob, who stayed home to work, and reminded him that he’d have to blow the snow tomorrow. So even Rob knew.

I should have called Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties I guess. The interstate was in terrible shape this afternoon. A shout out to Ozaukee county. You have hoarded your salt or have a bottomless budget. The road was dramatically improved once we hit the border.

In one amusing note, we went to the rest stop. The man clearing the sidewalk asked us to move our car so the plow could plow. We moved the car, the plow followed us. We move again, the plow moves again. When we leave the rest area, the plow seemed to be following us out the exit. But it turned around and I was quite pleased not to be behind it.

I am delighted to have 1 more day of weekend. Hope it doesn’t snow more. Or at least, that I don’t have to drive the interstate.

and that was the weekend

15 February 2009

I think the thing I learned this week is that you can never really order too much ice cream cake.

Henry is 5! That would have happened whether we celebrated or not, I suppose. I enjoyed seeing him with his preschool friends on Friday. And we headed to Family Fun Land on Saturday. I think they should consider getting a jingle or the Menards guy to say “Quieter than Chuck E Cheese, No people dressed as rats running around.” Alternately, “we have really easy ticket games.” Miranda was delighted to again earn 400 tickets. And lest you think I am too soft of a touch, she didn’t get that much cash out of me. Henry used a portion of his tickets (he played Deal or No Deal and won the jackpot of 200 tickets) to buy a miniature billiards set. He was so excited to play it with Grandpa. And by this morning, he thought it might not have been the best buy.

At the end of the evening last night, we were delighted to have one more day of weekend. Today, we played Wii Outdoor Life. And Guitar Hero. Looked at bikes for my mom’s birthday. And bought Miranda’s dress for First Communion. We sang Happy Birthday to Henry one more time after supper.  Rob lit his candle 4 or 5 times – I hope the extra wishes pay off. Arabella looked yearningly at the cake, but was denied again.

In other news that amuses me, a video I watched at a parent’s meeting at church suggests we give our 2nd grader small sips of wine in order to make her taste of wine at her First Communion less disturbing. First of all, the sour face of the First Communicant is almost as amusing as the cry from the baptized baby as the water hits her head. It amuses the congregation and that builds community. And second, maybe Wisconsin’s well documented love affair with alcohol is really tied to our high percentage of Catholics?

The really weird thing to come out of that meeting was that it was suggested that Rob would want to  (and perhaps could) take communion with Miranda, as a solidarity measure, I guess. Even though, Rob is not Catholic. And First Communion is an introductory rite toward affirming Miranda is Catholic. While I don’t want the official party line to question Rob’s goodness, purity of heart or afterlife real estate, I think this is going a little too far.

Bonus story:

I think our young friend S is showing executive ability. She and Miranda were babysitting the little brothers. One little brother’s glasses went missing. The girls were sent upstairs to look for them. Miranda suddenly became intensely busy with other things. And S went up. And didn’t come down. I decided to go up and look. I found the glasses in the middle of Henry’s bed.  S had created about a half dozen signs advertising the lost glasses. “Gglas” A picture of glasses and “look,” which is pretty terrific for a kindergartener. She was taping them to the wall, the door, the hallway. She was not actually looking for the glasses, as far as I could tell. But the signs were out to direct all passersby to pay attention.

Happy Birthday

12 February 2009
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Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Coincidence always begs for meaning. The Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines were swayed by the importance of this birthday to write about these men and their stories. Lincoln and Darwin are fascinating figures whose legacies still impact our society, science, politics, crazy conspiracy theories. I like that both figures are in vogue. It seemed strange when I was younger, to realize that history had fads. How can it? But it does.

Five years ago, I was not hoping to go into labor on the 12th. As I have had no control over when any of my pregnancies ended, hoping would not have moved Henry’s birthday. I went into labor on Friday, February 13th. And sometime in the hazy stretch between midnight and 3 am on Feb 14th, it was decided that I would be having a c-section when the regular day began. (Why that mattered on a Saturday, I don’t know.)

I was mildly disappointed when I realized that the baby who would be Henry would be born on Valentine’s Day. I questioned why we tried labor. In an objective way, I know they wouldn’t have done the c-section the moment we walked in 10pm, so I would have had to labor for >24 hours to avoid the 14th. The 14th was destiny. At the time, I was crushed to not bestow a Friday the 13th birthday. And now, I can only think Feb 12th would have been even cooler than that.

Henry is turning 5. If Bella hadn’t been born, I could make perfectly understandable laments about my baby growing up. My baby! Five years old! Fives year olds are not babies. I registered him for kindergarten for next fall. I signed him up for T-Ball for spring.

Here he is playing ball in the snow with Grandpa.


The Valentine’s Day birthday issue – preschool has, of course, a Valentine’s Day party; this year celebrated on Friday the 13th. Of course, the 13th, is the school day closest to his birthday. And so we brought in our birthday treat on the 11th. And Henry got to wear the hat. And what an awesome hat it was. I am trying to not sigh and seem frustrated when I mention Henry’s birthday is on the 14th. I can imagine a future of him giving presents on his birthday, of having combined gifts, of having school parties preempted, of red heart wrapping paper, of sadness at being alone on his birthday and the most supposedly romantic commercial holiday. I am trying to think of it as an opportunity, that his charm will fill that day. Maybe only I’ll be pushed out of the celebration early…maybe we can have the 12th. Every year I vow this will be the last year it bugs me. Maybe this year that will be true. I do think when I am over it, we’ll have a rocking Valentine’s Day party.


Henry has grown up so much this year. I got pregnant shortly before his 4th birthday. In the first and second trimester…oh my, the whole pregnancy haze and tiredness and inability to bend over, Henry learned to dress and undress himself. Thank goodness for velcro shoes.

In summer, Henry went to day camp. He liked it well enough. I got to experience having other moms say, oh you’re Henry’s mom. My son talks so much about Henry. And Henry may have started talking at 2.5,  but he is still the silent type. He doesn’t talk about what he did, who he played with, the good or the bad. So I would smile and nod.

We had some hiccups when school started. Bella was born the day after preschool started. We had not adjusted to the new teacher, new room, new kids. It was hard. But Grandpa was a steady, quiet bringer to and fetcher from preschool. When I filled out my goals for preschool, I wanted Henry to be able to write his name and all his letters and his numbers. And probably more things. In later fall, letters and numbers suddenly were interesting. At first, Henry found his first name on a card each morning. Now he finds his last name. (Which is really tricky when you’re first one inside and there are 15 names). And he writes his first name. The rital, while educational, makes me think of a bizarre little Flintstones punch clock.


Henry is so funny. I want to write down everything he tells me. But I forget. He thinks about being funny – sometimes he is sorting out the world and its nonsensical words and systems. But often, he is playing with words. He is laughing so hard, he can barely tell me that cars can’t fly or teenagers climb trees.  He is wild and bouncy and loud. And sometimes he is so shy he can’t speak louder than a mouse’s whisper. The local grocery store gives good little boys and girls a token for the vending machine. Henry always picks the tiny ninja toy. If it were possible to turn our house upside down, we would find 100 of those little guys. I think they are his favorite toy. (And will be my enemy when Bella is crawling and putting little tiny ninjas in her mouth.)

After a rough start during which Henry suggested Arabella might leave, be eaten by cats or be given to giants, I think he has come around to his baby (he decided he was Uncle Henry today, wrong, but an improvement over Little Henry from summer). Her eyes light up when he dances for her. He wants to stroke her head. And have the ninjas dance on her head. He holds her hand – and she better learn to run soon, because he’s ready, willing and able. He doesn’t seem to mind being squished between his sisters.  He is so much happier when Miranda is home, unless she takes the toy that he is ignoring.  He lets her mind him and babysit him and watch him.

Henry makes me laugh, even if I am afraid he’ll never learn to swim. He likes books and Wii and cars and action figures. He can play Mario Brothers and hit a ball. I am so proud of you, Henry. You’re kind, you’re fair, you share well, you likes people, you hold my hand when we cross the street. You don’t use your words all the time (we’ll remember this year for some spectacular crying and hitting…not at the same time). I hope you know we’ll always listen.

the 9th

9 February 2009
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Arabella is 5 months old today. She loves cheeries, oatmeal, pears, sweet potatoes, peas. She is OK with squash and peaches. Applesauce doesn’t seem to agree with her. She is rolling over, from her back to her tummy. Usually over her left arm. She wants to sit up very much.  She doesn’t quite have the balance, but sitting is coming. She loves to stand up, but she can’t hold herself yet. She talks through meals. She smiles in sheer delight when she sees me. When the kids make faces at her. When Grandma picks her up from her nap.

She cries a loud piercing cry when she gets stuck on her tummy. When she wants to be held to go to sleep. But it isn’t long. Sometimes she’ll get loud when she is hungry. She likes nursing, but bottles are OK. When she has more bottles, she nurses more. Like just to keep track of the milk. She likes to sleep. She is growing -she fits into the feet of the 6-9 month sleepers now. She is about 14 lb. But quite long, according to the charts.

The kids don’t like it when she cries at all. We are all quite spoiled. 20 seconds of crying is not problematic.

We tried otu the front pack this weekend. She liked facing out. She did not like facing my chest. She was happy to bob along. She plays with her toys now. She holds onto blankets, arms, fingers, toys, shirts. She is very happy, seldom cross. We have taken many many photos of her. So many, that we barely take photos of anything or anyone else. Setting up Henry’s “Special Person of the Week” board showed me that she is in 90% of the ohotos we have since Sept 2008.

There is no funny in this story. She is too little to do funny things. She likes Elmo, but I can hope that will pass.

brunch bunch

6 February 2009
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Miranda and I are joining a friend for the American Girl experience on Sunday. We’re having brunch and shopping. I hope we don’t stay the average visit, which is reported to be 4 hours. American Girl is genius, scary genius.

In the car tonight:

Miranda: We’re going to brunch.

Henry: What’s brunch

Miranda: Brunch is lunch with toaster waffles.

Oh sweetie, I hope you’re not disappointed.

My path to a federal cabinet position

5 February 2009

Or maybe not, as I don’t have the expertise, experience or desire. But I did file my taxes last night. And today. I am a late comer to this crazy online thing called eFile. The IRS seemingly forced the tax prep software companies to give you free federal eFiles. But they could still charge for the state, which Turbo Tax still wanted $19.95 for. As a small business owner, I already pay for the most expensive Turbo Tax product.  I have stubbornly mailed in my taxes, federal and state, for the last, well, forever. I am annoyed enough that my interest-free government loan seems to get larger each year. Paying money to get my money…no thanks. (I realize I have annoyed all of the accountants I know. I’m sorry.)

The state of Wisconsin skirts ever closer to the line of just offering free online tax software. (I think there is a law that prevents them for  just doing this – I had to type in a lot, but they did all of the math and even the calculations.) And a free eFile. Rob let me prattle on with my worries and wonder if I could TurbTax the feds and use the state website for the state. And let me say, having done it, you can! I hope. It looks like it was accepted.

Taxes bring out my neuroses about screwing up and having very bad things happen. I think I am following the rules – I certainly am not planning to defraud, cheat or lie. But could I have made an error egregious enough to have a tax judge or the newspaper doubt my stupidity? I don’t want to go to jail! Or owe anyone other than my mortgage company hundreds or even tens of thousands of dollars!

On the bright side, our interest free loan to the government was up this year only because of Arabella. It turn out the cash payment last summer, was only preliminarily based on 2007 taxes. Babies born in 2008 will net you another $300. In addition, she brought us another child tax credit.

Over the years, we have owed the IRS more money than I thought I could save in 3 months. In other years, we have gotten back large-to-me amounts. It does make the first run-through of the taxes sort of exciting. What’s a word that means exciting in a roller-coaster sort of way, during which you may laugh, scream or vomit? I usually dilly-dally with the information from January until March. This year, the 8-14 days direct deposit come-one marketing effort from the IRS paid off. I looked them over. I was delighted that the state came up with the exact same numbers as Turbo Tax. And I clicked the button in TurboTax and again from the state.

I just hope I survive the vetting.

Only 6 more weeks of winter

2 February 2009

Hallelujah! The groundhog has seen his shadow! Only 6 more weeks of winter!


You don’t think of it that way? That the shadow is a bad thing and that winter will drag on for 6 more weeks.

You don’t live in Wisconsin.

The snow has taken a (probably, pessimistically short) break. I think it has been 2 weeks since snow fell. This is the longest reprieve since, well, November. It has been a snowy winter. I am tired of it. In 2000, when Rob’s mom was ill and we were driving back to Milwaukee every weekend and some days in between, we had the snowiest December on record. Then we moved to Milwaukee and it stopped snowing. It was a treat to show snow to Miranda as a baby and toddler. In fact, the snow stayed away until we moved to Cedarburg in 2007. The fact that we do not have enough garage space here and so we have to clean off the snowy cars is not lost on me.  Last year, we had the second snowiest winter on record (96 inches). The snowiest winter was 1885-86. They suffered under 109 inches of snow. When it gets really cold and inhospitable in winter, while I am snug in my house heated by the forced air gas furnace, I try to imagine how cold, wet, yucky and tiring snow would have been in the 19th century. But I have to admit, I think nearly everything would have been tiring in the 19th century.

blue bonnet

Miranda and Texas Blue Bonnets

6 weeks from today is March 16th, a full week before spring is even supposed to start. And about 4 weeks before I would expect spring to spring around here. I’d love to see spring peeking green buds on the trees and tulips making their locations known. We drove to Texas in late March 2005. We watched spring blossom like a time-lapse photography movie. It was delightful. And then depressing to return to the brown and chilly north a week later.

As much as it would enrich my soul to think that we’re done with snow for 9-10 months, I think we’ll see more. And I will try to think positive things about snowmen, sledding, and snowshowing, while I am dreaming of green leaves, bicycling, and short sleeves. 6 weeks? I can only hope.