Monthly Archives: August 2009

so money

26 August 2009
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At the dinner table tonight, all 7 of us in attendance

Rob: so we just need to find a couple of schmucks to watch the kids and you can join me in Vegas for a weekend.

Sarah: No, we need to find some fabulous, experienced, caring babysitters to watch the kids.

Miranda: No! I want Grandma to stay with us!


Henry has 3 dollar bills fanned out in his hands. He keeps saying “I want to go to Vegas!” My mom asks him what he would do in Vegas. He isn’t sure. I say, well, he’s got the dollar bills, he’s ready.

goodnight tales

25 August 2009

Miranda had a fabulous birthday. I think we will spend a week recovering. Around 7 tonight, I was convinced that it was Friday night at least.

The pre-birthday week has been fraught with bad sleeping, no sleeping, stomachaches and the like. Of course, now we’re staring at the pre-start of school week, so I don’t think trouble is gone for good. My latest technique has been total body relaxation. Just like in yoga class, first relax your toes, then your foot, relax your heel, and on upward. When I was young, my mom could lull me to sleep saying nearly anything. It was her voice. So when Miranda was wee and sleeping poorly, I tried all of the tricks. Songs. Stories. And Miranda convinced me my voice did not have that effect on her. At all. And I have tried the relax your feet, now your ankles, etc. in the past, No dice. This week, it has worked for 3 nights running. The staying asleep did not work the first night, it worked beautifully the second, and the third is tonight and I am typing away rather than sleeping. Dumb!)

Tonight, I am lulling Miranda with my voice. Your feet, legs, relax your stomach, up to the shoulders, down the arms. And as I headed back up the arms and to her neck, I catch myself saying “your book list.” And I realize I have lulled myself half to sleep and am having a weird dream about libraries. Or book stores. Luckily, Miranda was asleep. Score!


Meanwhile, across the hall, Rob has bent his long standing “no talking after lights out” rule. No talking turns into some talking. Some giggling. Then usually Rob falls asleep and the child does too. I try to rouse him. Unless I think he’s really tired. Can I just say, we’re not great at bedtime. We’re not running a zone defense, we’re much better at man-on-man. Unless I don’t understand my foodball. Maybe we are running zone? Either way, Bella is downstairs with my mom while we are upstairs with the big kids.

Tonight, Rob had a funny story. He and Henry were discussing all of the things that didn’t exist when Rob was a kid, ’cause 35 is ancient, you know? They discuss walls, beds, ceilings, clothes. All, sadly, existed. Henry thought he had trump with what about the shiny round things that have movies on them? Rob conceded, but pointed out they did have VHS, the same technology Henry still uses sometimes.

Even Rob thought Henry had him beat with this one.

H: Did they have macaroni pizza?

R: Huh?

H: Macaroni pizza!

R: I guess not, what is macaroni pizza?

H: Pizza with the round things. I love it!

R: Round things? Like meat?

H: Yes

R: Pepperoni pizza? We had pepperoni pizza!

Rob recounted the conversation to me, so the dialogue is loose. But I really wish Rob had thrown in a Mr. T voice to pity the fool who didn’t think we had pepperoni pizza. Of course, Henry wouldn’t know who Mr. T was, so that would be purely for my amusement.

And aside to say that Romano’s in Cedarburg does have a mac and cheese and a mac and meatball pizza. And Henry and I have discussed this pizza. I don’t think we have ever eaten it. Henry also talks about macaroni pizza all the time. I usually tell him that the place we’re getting the pizza from today doesn’t have macaroni pizza and besides, macaroni pizza is weird. Now I feel like I have wronged him. Now wonder he thinks pepperoni is scarce.

on this night

24 August 2009
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I went to bed 8 years ago and didn’t suspect a thing. Until 2 am, when my water broke. And we went to the hospital, believing it was a false alarm, because whose first baby comes 2 weeks early? Ours did!

Miranda continues to amaze and surprise us. Today the pediatrician had to measure how tall she was as he thought she had grown. She seems so tall, but still 1-2 inches from the olly-olly-oxen-free car seat freedom. No matter, tomorrow, she can skip the booster seat. Age supersedes the height and weight rules.

In proof that the first year was a blur, Bella is starting to look like I remember Miranda looking as a toddler. The resemblance was strong at birth and now again this week. And that first year was tremendously hard what with Miranda learning how to get her point across and roll over and sit and stand and walk, but at least we didn’t have to start school! The last week of summer vacation is heavy, dude, heavy.


In off-topic television tunnel vision, I had to share how much it delighted me to learn that the voice of Ferb, on the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, is played by Thomas Sangster, who played Sam in Love Actually. (And yes, the deepness of Ferb’s voice confused me until I realized that that Love Actually, timeless though it may be, is more than 5 years old.) And Ferb has been crushing on Vanessa in the episodes on repeat this week. And Vanessa is voiced Olivia Olson, who played Joanna in Love Actually. You know, Sam’s huge crush. Love actually is all around, I guess. And a good inside joke is priceless.

Mildly Amused

18 August 2009
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Henry and Miranda spend hours of our lives (hours I will never reclaim) discussing which animals they will buy when they are adults. And don’t live with me. And don’t expect me to sleep at their house. I may be prematurely vocal on this issues, but I am very allergic to cats and dogs and rabbits, hamsters, horses, ferrets, etc all make me sneeze. I love you dearly, my children, but not enough to sleep with a cat. Currently, the plan is that we can meet at restaurants.

Henry has also started to think about rich and poor. In the grand tradition of Miranda’s district attorney questioning, Henry tries to pinpoint our socioeconomic position – are we rich? No? Then we are poor? No? What are we – guilty as charged your honor.

These ideas converged yesterday:

H: I am going to buy a tortoiseshell cat when I gets older. [we have a board book of pets and the tortoiseshell cat intrigues him].

Me: OK, that’s a pretty cat. When you and I don’t live together, you can certainly have a cat if you want.

H: I think I’ll wait until I gets married.

I nod and smile.

H: I’ll bring my wife with me when I buy it. Because Papa doesn’t have any money, does he?

Me: Well, Papa has some money. We share it. Will your wife have the money?

H: Yes.

I find his idea that the moms / wife controls the money hilarious. Rob makes the money – he works full-time. I work freelance a little bit. I do tell the children I work and they see me deposit my checks. And spend money. groceries adn Target and I usually pay for dinners out, but that money comes from the joint checking account. But it may be really funny to me because Henry is determined to figure out who is the boss of the family. Darned TMBG Malcolm in the Middle “You’re not the boss of me” song. Henry is sure, because Rob has assured him, that Papa is the boss of Miranda, Henry and Arabella. But Mom, that’s tougher. We have compromised by saying Grandma is the boss – she even has a keychain to prove it.


As we headed to McDonald’s for an ice cream and happy meal toy run – long sad story involving leaving the toy at the restaurant and the natural consequences being unacceptable – Miranda wondered why McD’s didn’t have chocolate ice cream. Rob and I guessed they hadn’t had twist or chocolate cones in 20 years? 25 years? And yet, Rob, the ice cream cone connoisseur, said he hears people ask for chocolate all the time. So we started thinking about all of the things that it would amuse us to order at McD’s:

a pork chop sandwich

Asparagus and green bean burger

chicken fried steak

collard greens on the side




Miranda had to top us by saying we should order our meals to drink through a straw. And eat our soda with a fork.

near miss

16 August 2009
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We spent last week at a cottage in Waupaca. It was a family affair – us, my parents and my grandparents. The cottage was on a pond, the water was weedy but it was sandy underneath the muck. And the 3 inch fish were eager to eat our worms. Or hot dogs. Or bread. And there was even a  turtle to lure to the dock. There was a canoe and a pedal pontoon boat. Rob paddled or pedaled us around the pond, through the channel and into the bigger lake to our north. Other than the near-death experience, the trip was a rousing success.

I thought that the worst was going to be the crib at the cottage. It was not solid or stable. We had been debating trying to tighten it up when I put the drop side down and then up. And some of the spindles gave way on top. I felt like I dodged a bullet – Bella would not and did not sleep in the crib. Phew.

Last Sunday, I tried fishing with my pole and promptly got snared in the weeds. After playing on the pedal pontoon for a day, we decide to try fishing off of it. Miranda and I will fish off the back and Rob and Henry will sit up front and pedal us around. The front has seats the back has a platform. We had put a person on the back and it seems to balance out fine. We didn’t notice the small metal on metal warning not to put people on the back.

loading up

loading up

We have done some mental math to say that Miranda plus Sarah is heavier than Rob plus Henry. But this picture shows the boat is listing backwards before I even get on.

I get on. Miranda and I put our feet out. I retrieve my fishing line from the snare. I notice that we had a ton of weeds trailing behind us. But we keep going. We get past the weeds by the shore, toward the deep middle of the pond. About 10-15 feet deep we figure.

going down

going down

I can remember getting the fishing line undone. I remember telling Miranda we’ll be more comfortable with our legs uncrossed. I remember the lurch of the boat as Miranda and I leaned forward. And trying to right ourselves. And realizing that we were going under. Primitive mother-bear instincts kick in. I remember being under water and having a scratchy cloth in my hand, realizing it is Miranda’s life jacket. I pull. I swim up. I am in a life jacket. I pull up and up. And then Miranda and I break surface. Miranda climbs on top of me. I realize that my life jacket is not as snug as a life jacket should be. I have enough adrenaline that I consider swimming the 25 (40?) feet back to shore with Miranda on my back. Can I just say that Miranda is a far better swimmer than I am. She’s in lessons. She’s awesome. She is completely freaked out.

We’re above water. The boat is upside down. I see Rob, who had slid out on the other side of the boat. My grandparents and dad were watching us pedal out, first in delight and then in horror. My grandfather figures the boat went from listing backward to completely flipped over in 3 seconds. I see Rob. And then I scream, “Where’s Henry? Henry!” I have this crazy idea he is on the other side of the boat, but really Rob was on the other side of the boat. Henry is upside down in the water.

Henry and Miranda had their life vests on. We figure Henry was not upside down for long. His life jacket pushes him up against the boat, but no air pocket, darn it all. Rob starts reaching under the boat. He find him and untangles him from between the front  seat and front shelf. He pulls him out. Henry comes out of the water with a still face, closed eyes. Rob’s heart stops until Henry opens his eyes. He says a word. “What?” I think, but really all I remember is it that it was a word, not a cry. And that that meant he was still thinking. As soon as he was out and crying, my heart started beating again. And then I needed Miranda not to be on top of me.

Henry was under water for about 30 seconds. He held his breath the whole time, so that makes us think it couldn’t have been the 3-5 minutes it felt like. I screamed loud enough to alert my mom and a neighbor who came down to the water, hopped on his tiny pontoon and tried to rescue us. My mom thought Henry must have playfully jumped off the boat and was horrified to walk down to the water and see the boat upside down and the people in the water.

now what?

now what?

We hoisted the kids onto the upside down boat. I started pulling seaweed off. There was a lot of it. We tightened my life jackets and wondered whether it was worth Rob diving under the boat to look for his. The neighbor offered to push us to shore. And I was so high on adrenaline, I said no, we’re fine. The children were alive. That’s all that mattered.

The neighbor watched us swim the boat most of the way. And then he helped us push it the final 10 feet. We handed the kids up to my mom on the dock for showers and hugs and probably chocolate. And then my grandfather and father helped us flip the boat over with a  rope. And we took showers. And put on dry clothes. And I was a bit manic and blase and OK about it. Until later when my hand that I pulled with started to ache – I think I sprained the muscle between my thumb and fingers. An ace bandage helped. My middle finger on my other hand still feels sprained. I had a set of bruises. Rob was OK until bedtime. At bedtime we both felt crazy with the what-ifs.

Miranda wrote a book about the incident. Henry asks about when he was stuck under water – he was pretty shook up. Rob started having sinus pain that laid him out. His whole body ached.I was so glad I had no foolish ideas about taking the baby along on the pedal boat. Both of my shoes popped up (who knew Merrills floated?) as did Rob’s Keens. My fishing pole was lost to the depths, but we retrieved the kids’ poles, the tackle box, Rob’s life vest.

We very much had that sense that you have to get back on the horse again, although I don’t think we did more with the pdeal boat than sit at the dock with it. When Rob and I went out later that week, I fished with his pole.  And caught the line for my pole. So even that we recovered.

The rest of the week was nice. The next worst thing that happened was having to go to Culvers to check my email on because I went after the library and its free wi-fi closed. I got lost no less than 67 times. I found my way all but one of them. One damn time I had made a complete circle and had to start over.

Rob and the big kids ran their appropriate triathlons on Friday and Saturday. And that was good. Maybe a story for another night.

A near miss in every way. Rob and I discussed whether we were lucky and dumb or unlucky and smart…we rescued the children, but it would seem we put them in peril. I still think lucky.

11 months is almost a year

6 August 2009
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We’re in a  flurry of preparation for a little vacation time, and I have been generally unmotivated to write here. But Bella will be 11 months Sunday and I might as well record my thoughts so the baby book can some day have actual content in it.

As a 10 month old, Arabella has been increasingly mobile. She crawls quickly, efficiently, happily. She will pull herself to standing by your leg, the table, an oncoming toddler. She has even let go and stood for microseconds. She wanst to keep up with everyone. It would be preferable if we moved en masse. Grandma or Momma are much desired. She calls to us if we leave her line of sight. Shr calls to us if she notoces the gate at the bottom of the stairs in unlatched. She is quickly up 3 or 7 stairs. She “uhhhh’s” us until one of us retrieves her.

She is still fascinated by Miranda and  Henry. She also likes other babies – namely the newborn across the street, who she regards as a sort of doll that surprises her by crying. We say an 18 month old friend, F, last weekend. She adored him. She wanted to pull/stroke his hair, pull herself up on him to stand by him, lean on him, have no regard for personal space. He was very tolerant of her pulling. When Miranda or Henry are home and doing anything interesting, or doing anything that isn’t watching TV, she will not nap. She is clearly exhausted when they head outdoors or to an activity. I think she will sleep all day the first week of school.

She is quite vocal. Her receptive language is growing. She doesn’t quite follow commands, but she notices where we point or when we refer to something or someone. her fearfulness of new people at 5-6 months has changed. She still holds herself to look, then look away, then bury her head in my arm. But then she smiles and “uhs” until the person reacts to her. When she is comfortable, she crawls over and climbs up.

She is a smiley smiley girl. Her dimples pop out with her sunny disposition.She does have a temper. It is a gauge of how tired she is when she starts getting into trouble. Trouble like unrolling the toilet paper off the roll in the bathroom. Or shredding tissue. Or taking off her socks. Or climbing up your leg, then demanding to be put down. Then begging to come up. She resists diaper changes unless you give her a toy to hold for distraction.

Just the stats: Bella is 18 lb 6 oz, 29.5″ long, wearing 12-18 mo clothing.

I didn’t know, honest

3 August 2009
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I was perusing my Google search stats. As a general observation, people only seem to find there way here via image searches. Well, the vast majority of you come here directly, but that’s not an interesting search story.

In a roundabout way, that’s how I found this book. Bella Arabella by Liza Fosburgh, which is about a 10 year old girl named Arabella, upon being threatened with boarding school, is asked by her cat, Miranda, if she would also like to become a cat.

Strangely enough at our house, it is Henry who is most obsessed with becoming a cat. Has he been trying to join his sisters?