Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still Here

...though I'm not sure how "here" I am.

I am "here" enough to realize that people have been checking my blog and have noticed the lack of activity over the past month. I am not "here" enough to care about reassuring their queries with my okay-ness.

I am "here" enough to want to post something special on this Day. Something that speaks from my depths to the depths of others. However, I am not "here" enough to be able to dredge those depths and procure something of worth.

I am "here" enough to look out over this snowy Michigan landscape, it's unbroken white, and feel absolute stillness and acceptance inside my heart. Though I am not yet "here" enough to translate this vision to voice.

Is there a voice left?


Somewhere in there.

It is a quiet day.

And I'm still here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I officially renounce my parenting privileges

Sigh. Well, today Ari lost his TV privileges. Ally is on the verge of losing her eating privileges (Ari having voluntarily relinquished his own last week). And Sascha and I are on the verge of leaving them both with a casual acquaintance and high-tailing it for the border.

Pass the rum.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

from the mouths of babes

Ari, after handing me his art project:

"Don't break my heart, Mom. Don't break it."

I'll try not to, Ari. I really, really will.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"I am woman...

...hear me roar. "

That song always plays through my head as I walk back through the parking lot after a day at an amusement park with both the kids and zero adult back-up. Today, the early evening sun was slanting across Sea World's parking lot as I pushed my spawn through the Back 40 to our patiently waiting orange chariot. "...oh yes I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain..."

As Sascha had other "adult" errands to attend to and couldn't share the parenting responsibility today, I decided "why the hell not have a little fun?" and packed up the kids to go see Shamu. It wasn't until I was almost at the park did I realize that a) it's a Saturday and b) it's a Halloween Spooktacular weekend at Sea World. Oh God. A lethal combination. Very quickly my flippant "why the hell not have a little fun?" turned into "what the hell have I done?" as the friendly parking attendants kept motioning us further and further away from the main entrance. How many people are here today? and Will we have to take a shuttle into the park? and I don't think they have a shuttle. However, I kept up a brave front and chattered away with Ari about Shamu and the dolphins and where-oh-where are we going to park? Luckily, we grabbed a spot, I popped the kids, several changes of clothes (ahem, potty training, ahem) and the sunscreen into the stroller and off we went.

Really, it wasn't that bad. Navigating the crowds of Elmo-clad children provided the biggest challenge...a dualie stroller isn't exactly the most deft child-hauling implement. Overall, the kids were great and I discovered yet again that if you toss enough snacks at Ari he'll sit through as many breast-feeding sessions as you want.

I also discovered anew that theme parks are some of the best places for people watching. Especially theme parks during Halloween. Children dressed as Nemo, Elmo, various levels of princesses and fairies, pirates, etc. etc. Beleaguered parents pushing strollers with screaming children (doubtlessly coming off a sugar high) slung over their shoulder. Pink-haired teenagers in the strangest moon-boot-high-top shoes...although I don't think that was a costume. "I told you to keep that thing in there or I'm taking it away," says a highly tattooed dad pushing his sword-wielding pirate in a stroller. A middle-aged woman in a walking cast and two elderly women cowgirlin' up and mincing through the throngs with their canes. As a young mom lost her daughter for about 90 seconds, I watched the panic bloom across her face and witnessed her thoughts fast-forward through the next 20 years without her little girl. "...Yes, I've paid the price. But look how much I've gained. If I have to, I can do anything..."

There were several moments that I had to force myself to keep a straight face. Yes, because some situations were simply laughable but also because I was reminded time and again of how we're all a part of this humanity-sludge and we all pretty much walk the same line when it comes right down to it. Our little trio was probably the subject of people-watching as well...At the Shamu show when Ally decided it was time for her nap and threw a Fuss while Ari was trying to sit on my lap so he could see Shamu. Grabbing Ari tends to calm Ally down so I allowed her to do this until the repeated grabbings provoked a Fuss from Ari. The Shamu Show wasn't nearly as inspiring for Ari and I this time around, although we got some chuckles from our seatmates...And again when I had to push through the throngs of waiting parents, with a nursing baby still attached, to pull Ari out of the bouncy house when his turn was up and he refused to come out on his own. As we all sat back down on the bench I had formerly been feeding Ally on, the mom next to me chuckled and said, "I've been there. I think I've walked across this whole park nursing one kid or the other. You basically just survive it, huh?"

And it all comes back down to that. We're all in this together. And yes, you basically survive it...this life thing. And if you're lucky, and if you actually try a little, then you end up living it. That's what I'm shooting for...the living it. Julia Alvarez wrote, "We are all the same size, don't you know? Just some of us stretch ourselves a little more." So I guess that's why I take small children to theme parks by myself. Why I'm determined to run another marathon. Why I choose to do childbirth without drugs. That's why I can't blow certain ideas (not to be mentioned here) out of my head. Just trying to stretch, trying to live. And as I look at a lot of the women around me, I see that I'm not alone.

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

~Helen Reddy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wiggle Room

In a rare moment when both children are napping, I find myself drawn to the idea of change. How life changes, how it has already changed and how it will yet again and again and again. And so I went to QuoteGarden and looked at quotes on change and found the one I've posted in the margin. true, it is. Each major change I have gone through, even the improvements...the positive changes, have involved a bit of grief. Some more than others. Some less.

Right now, I'm pondering the change our entire family has recently begun...Ari starting preschool. What was initially "not such a big deal" in Sascha's and my eyes had morphed into a "let's rethink this whole thing" once Ari began his first full week at school. The entire family's schedule changed...Sascha, of course, was the least effected...Ari the most...with Ally and I left spinning in his wake.

For two years, well, since Ari could make himself understood, he has begun his day with this question: "We going now?" or "Where we going, Mommy?" The kid had an itch to go, to get out, to meet and greet and discover. Every day. If we didn't leave the house by 11 am, I faced retribution in the form of tantrums, whining or a boycotted nap. So, Sascha and I understandably assumed that preschool would be a boon for him. Imagine! A place to go every day!" But, it didn't turn out like that. As most things in life, there would be a breaking-in period...a period we, idiotically, were not expecting. Ari cried at drop off, clinging to my hand and begging me to sit on the steps with him. Or he would sit on the couch in the morning, crying that he didn't want to go to school today. He would refuse to get dressed, refuse to leave the house and take inordinate amounts of time picking out a toy(s) to bring with him in the car. Diversionary tactics, all. So we started thinking that this was too much. Too many days a week. Too soon for him to be away from Mom. I started talking to the teachers about decreasing his days. I started to doubt myself and my choices for our son.

As for me, I did in fact long for Ari to begin school. And then, the week before the blessed event, I started feeling sad. Sad that we wouldn't have time during the week to go to the beach, the zoo or to have morning park time, although each of these things involved a bit of planning now with a baby in tow. I had to grieve the stay-at-home-kid time that had passed for Ari and me, even though it had been such a huge challenge while it existed. It surprised me, this grieving. And Ari's simultaneous grieving surprised me even more.

And then, one day out of the blue, he brightly bid me "'bye!" over his shoulder and skipped in the door without a backward glance. He stopped fussing over his clothes and crying on the couch. The morning toy selection still takes a while but it now happens cheerfully instead of desperately. And a couple days ago he told me, "I love my school. I have fun at my school."

Ah, how one wiggles into a new role. Rolling, nudging, turning around until it feels snug and comfortable once again. For some, apparently, this happens easier than others.

Change. With each big change, several smaller changes trail behind. You would think that, after having so much change occur in my life, I'd be a bit more savvy to all it entails (more savvy than, say, a three year old). That I shouldn't be surprised by the peaks and troughs so much anymore. That in fact, I should be expecting them. But each time, I flounder through, learning as I go and trying not to berate myself for not having it more together. Slowly, I'm finding that forgiveness must walk hand-in-hand with change.

The changes will keep on coming. May grace and forgiveness follow alongside.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bam, Bam, Bam!

Ari's newest favorite activity involves the bottom half of a white turkey baster (which he calls his "white thing"). He carries this around the house, aiming it at various objects and/or beings and shouts out "bam, bam, bam, bam!" with a vicious little battle face.

He is playing "guns".

He is three years old.

Being a pacifist and also knowing and loving someone who very nearly lost his life to gun violence, I am strongly unthrilled with this new development. But every time I express displeasure and disapproval and try to explain "why we don't shoot at people with turkey basters or anything else", it only seems to ignite his passion as he merrily proclaims, "Yes we do! Yes we do! I like it!". What am I to do? This kid has a vicious streak that no one but his parents seem to notice. The parents of all his little cronies think he's "so sweet, so cute" while I know there's a tiny little anarchist inside him, busy exercising his second amendment rights and honing his skills of argument. Sometimes I'm at a loss for how to guide him at home without the use of a firm hand on the backside...and how could that help as that, itself, is violence?

Sascha believes that guns are an unavoidable essence of boyhood (cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, etc.) and, while he doesn't encourage the behavior, he also does not discourage it. Although, I take that back as, just today, I heard Sascha exclaim, "bam bam bam" in response to Ari's turkey baster report. So, no help from that quarter.

I staunchly disagree that guns are innate to boys. And even if it were, for God's sake he's three. He's been on this earth all of thirty-six months. I doubt that's enough time for his little gun-totin' chromosomes to kick in. So that begs the question, in a gun-free, non-hunting, non-ghetto-urban household, where did he learn that "guns are fun"?

I believe the answer is three-fold: the older and very crazy boys he hung out with this summer; the video games they taught him to play; and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, The Adventure Begins. Damn that movie and the fact that we bought it for him, I had no idea...

So what's a mom to do with a son who shoots at her and then argues and yells when she tries to explain about not hurting people? Well, she says, "Don't shoot at me, I don't like it" quite a bit. She would like to move, preferably to Switzerland. She plans on hiding or chucking that damned Buzz Lightyear movie and his turkey baster. And finally, she is wondering if three years old is too young for a talk about death and how shooting people makes them go away forever.

Any thoughts?

Friday, September 25, 2009

she's got a hat

The Things We Say, Revisited

You may bring one toy with you. One. I said one. No, one. One or none. One or none. Oh, okay, none then. ... ah, that's what I thought.

You have five minutes left before we turn off the TV and get in the car. Four minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes left, babe. One minute. Okay, I'm turning the TV off now. Ari, I gave you five minutes. No, the five minutes are now over, you don't get five more minutes. You may walk to the car or I can carry you. Well then use your legs to get off the couch and walk if you don't want me to carry you. Okay then.

No, don't eat the napkin! (to the baby)

No, I don't want to play right now. It's my quiet time. It's your quiet time too.

Do you have a poop? You're still working on it? Remember if we wait too long it gets ouchie. Okay, you have five minutes to finish up what you're doing and then we change the diaper. Four minutes...etc. Time to change the diaper! Yes. Yes. It's time. You can walk or I can carry you. Well, I told you it would get ouchie if we waited. We have to clean it. I KNOW it's ouchie. I have to clean your penis, there's poop all over it. No, it's not naked time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Things We Say

As I was perusing my friends' blogs (and laughing my ass off), I was inspired to share here some of the things I've been saying lately:

Get your fingers out of your butt. Does it itch? Well then put on some big boy underpants and then scratch it. Because there's poop in your butt. I know you wiped but there's still poop in there. Yes, even though you can't see it. No! Wash your hands before you eat that! Because you were touching your butt.

Please stop touching your penis. Yes. Okay, then please go to your room and do it. Because that's a private thing that you do alone. ... Okay, time for clothes.

No more naked. You're getting too old to be naked all the time. Okay, 5 more minutes of naked. ... Okay, naked time is over. Big boy underpants or diaper? Yes. Please pick one. Shall I pick for you?

Now what's the rule when you're wearing underpants? That's right. And where do we pee and poop instead? That's right.

Let's have a potty break! What do you mean "no"? It's time to try the potty. So you don't pee in your underpants. They'll get wet and icky. Remember, we pee in the potty when we wear underpants. Okay. 5 more minutes. ... What do you mean you peed on the floor? Oh, now you're skating in it.

We're at the park. Please get your hands out of your pants.

...You see a theme are some more, off-theme:

Please don't chase Mo. Don't shine the flashlight in his eyes, he doesn't like that. Well, he's probably running away because he's scared. He doesn't know you want to pet him, the last time you followed him you shined a flashlight in his eyes. Please speak gently to Mo. No, you don't need to yell. He's just being a cat. He's not being bad for running away from you.

Leave the spider alone. Watch it wi
th your eyes, not your fingers. No,
we're not going to "shmack" it...or catch it. What did I just say!! It doesn't matter that you used a cup and not your fingers. We leave spiders alone. Wait a minute...that's a...that's a black widow...let's just go inside now.

What is that?!

Please come here. I have something to show you. You see how there's poop in your chair? That's why we wear a diaper when we eat. No more naked eating. Let's go wash hands.

Friday, September 11, 2009


"Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America,
there will be no forgetting September the 11th.
We will remember every rescuer who died in honor.
We will remember every family that lives in grief.
We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls,
the funerals of the children."

~George W. Bush

A Thousand Words..

Sascha's unofficial summer project has been to get one of those sweet father-daughter shots.

Ally has been less than cooperative.

I could have so much fun captioning each of the below but I think they're better off speaking for themselves. View and enjoy...and Sascha, I love you, my good sport :).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baby in a Barf Bucket

Remember the family barf bucket from your elementary school days? You know the one. We all had one, whether you called it the barf bucket, puke pail, or vomit can. I have a few non-dear memories of staring into our own dear barf bucket's ringed bottom and feeling the panicky rise of something not-so-pleasant.

Being the practical folks that they are, my parents have saved the barf bucket because it has myriad uses aside from its sordid past. Below, I share a picture. Yes, 25 years later, we're washing the baby in it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scene From Our Days

It is 4:30 p.m. I'm in the kitchen trying to prepare dinner. I emphasize "trying".

Ally is producing a sort of whining, grunting shrillness from the swing positioned in the middle of our small kitchen (around which I continuously dance in my attempts to chop broccoli and stir the onions lest they carmelize).

Ari is plopped in the living room, taking in another Veggie Tales and 1/4 cupful of yogurt raisins while asking good-naturedly every 15 minutes if "my dinner is ready". No. It isn't. Dinner will not be ready until Daddy is home. Is Daddy home yet? No. He is not. I have repeated this I-don't-know-how-many times. It has yet to sink in.

Mo is hanging in the kitchen doorway meowing plaintively for his dinner. As if, in our 9 years of feline-human companionship, I have missed a meal. I repeat, it is 4:30 p.m., he does not get fed until 6:30. Two more hours of meowing to go.

I move Ally from the swing into the Bjorn. Instantly, her mood improves as she jerks back and forth with me in the kitchen, watching me chop, saute and peer into the hot oven. This, of course, requires that I curve my back, keeping her away from the chopping knife, hot pan and hot oven door. Yes, funny you should mention, my back does hurt.

Ari, again, requests that his dinner be finished. This time before Daddy comes home. I would be extremely excited that he wants to eat real food so badly...if I didn't know for a fact that he would later eat three bites and declare himself finished (aside: this did later happen)...probably because he filled up on the random pieces of Mac & Cheese scattered over the kitchen floor from lunch with the neighbor boys.

By now, Mo has worked himself into a lather requesting his own dinner; eliciting repeated "No, Mo" from even Ari.

Ally begins to squawk from the Bjorn.

It is 5:15 p.m. The veggie pie is in the oven. No, Daddy is not home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


It is Sascha's job to bathe Ari. And they frequently go round and round about which body part Ari does not wish to be washed on any particular day. This day, it was the penis.

Ari: No, Dad. No. Don't wash my penis!

Sascha: But Ari, we need to wash it too.

Ari: No no no no no no no.

Sascha: Why, Buddy? Is it ouchie? Does it hurt?

Ari: Noooooo.

Sascha: Then why don't you want me to wash it?

Ari: Because it will fall off.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

7 a.m. Musings

Sometimes I'm afraid I will never have another original thought...and then sometimes I'm afraid I already have too many.


Sunday, July 12, 2009


Well, my little boy is growing up. As is his vocabulary and language skills (as evidenced in an earlier post). Following are some anecdotes providing further evidence of said skills.

Here It Comes
I was changing Ari's diaper on my bed one day last week and was letting his bottom air out when he got That Look in his eye. All of you with toddlers know That Look. Uh oh.

Ari: Pee in Mommy's bed?

Wendy: Noooo, we pee in the potty or in a diaper, Ar.

Ari (grinning and nodding): No, pee in Mommy's bed...Here it comes...Look out...

He never actually meant to pee on my bed but he did mean to tease the heck out of me. Where he got this idea, I don't know.

Music Man
Whenever Ari is jamming on a guitar or rocking out to something inappropriate on the stereo, this is his favorite line to bellow:

"Yea, baby, yea. Yea, yea baby. Yea, yea baby. Yea, baby, yea!"

Babe Ruth
Over the past couple of weeks, Ari's gotten quite good at baseball. Not T-ball, mind you, baseball. He and I headed out to the street after dinner one evening last week intent on getting some ball in before bath. We set up the bases and I began to drag out the T, as usual. He vehemently stopped me. "No mom, not that. Just throw." Completely confused, I kept trying to set the T up. He finally got frustrated, threw the thing towards the garage and said, "Throw the ball! I knock it out of the park." Ok. I will. And damned if he didn't do just that. Two years old, no T...and he knocked it out of the park (or at least to the opposite end of the street).

Music Snob
As we were driving along on an errand one day, I was attempting to enjoy a little "mommy music" as opposed to the endless requests for the Wiggles or "The Batman Song" or "The Rock CD". My "mommy music" that day happened to be JoDee Messina's Greatest Hits (fantastic girl CD). About 30 seconds into the first song, Ari pipes in from the back seat, "No Mom, I don't like that moogoo (music)." "Well Ari, we're listening to my music this morning." A pause as he considers this, and then, "No, not that moogoo, good moogoo." Well excuuuuse me. Persecuted by a two-year-old for my love of girlie country.

I took a stroller fitness class last week and one of the stationary exercises we were doing gave you the option of adding a jump to make the exercise more strenuous. This being my first class, I opted out on the jumping portion. As I turned around to answer one of Ari's questions (he and Ally were in the stroller behind me), I noticed him eyeing the mom next to me who, of course, was doing the jumping part. About 5 seconds later, Ari yells out to me, "No, no Mom. You're supposed to jump." This amused my neighbor immensely. Me, not so much.

Love of My Life
While laying in bed this morning, Ari says to me, "Mom, you're my best friend."

Yeah, I melted too.

Apparently he said the same thing to his father 5 minutes earlier when I was in the next room. So he's fickle as hell. We couldn't care less.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ally O'Malley

"I love to beee diaper freee."

Not stoned. Just dazed and confused.

...and happy.

We call her The Lizard...loves to pop that tongue out.

My first non-jammy outfit!

Raising a Heathen, Revisited

It being a "disorganized and running late" sort of day earlier this week, I was a little lax in my cuss-word-restraint. Ari brought this to my attention in two instances:

At I pushed the cart into the store, Ari bumped his head against the side when we wheeled over the bump at the threshold. "Oh shit, shit, shit. Oh shit. Shit." He proclaimed to whomever would listen. In my attempts to ignore, and not laugh at, his outburst, I probably did not provide enough attention to the much celebrated ouchie. Which is possibly why he tacked on that last "shit".

At the grocery store...again, a cart incident. Trying to maneuver the gigantic grocery-cart-with-kiddie-car-on-front (if you don't have small children you probably have no idea what I'm talking about) through the freezer aisle, I got hung up on a freezer door (don't ask). "Son of a bitch," I mutter as I struggle to free the cart. Ari, all the way in the kiddie car on the front of the cart, cheerfully calls out, "Son of a bitch!" Sharp ears on that one.

And a couple more anecdotes from a precocious two-year-old...

Two Mondays ago, I was having a rough mothering day. Everything seemed to be going wrong. I caught Ally's skin in a buckle. Ari kicked her swing as I was pulling her out and she bumped her head. He flew a wooden toy airplane into her head, on purpose. Ari and I were butting heads on almost everything. By lunchtime I was pulling my hair out and decided to throw caution to the wind, build a blanket fort on the patio and have some dinosaur sandwiches inside it...thinking that "fun mommy" would save the day. Um, no. It began with Ally starting to fuss because it was getting pretty hot in the fort (she hates to be hot). Then Ari refused to sit still and eat more than a bit of his dino sandwich. After some supreme frustration, I held it for him so he could take a bite. Whoops, bad precedent. He wanted me to hold it for the next bite, then the next. I refused and said, "I can't do that, Ari, you can use your hands." He threw my parent psychobabble back in my face with, "You can do it, Mommy!" with as much enthusiasm and encouragement as he could muster. I sat there as stoically as I could before cracking a smile (one can only hold back so much) and picking up the sandwich. He took a bite, grinned at me and blessed me with, "You did it, Mommy!"

Two minutes later, Ally was in a full-fledged tantrum because of the heat so I took her inside, followed by Ari, and tucked her into her infant seat then went back to the patio to clean up. I hear the sliding glass door slide shut behind me. And then..."click". Damnit. I knew it was a bad thing when Ari learned how to work the door locks. You see, our patio is enclosed by a six-foot wall and picky shrubs. Slowly, I stood up, turned around and walked to the door. "Ari, you will unlock this door now." He smirks at me. The little shite smirked at me. And walked away. What the f...when I get my hands on him... What to do? Baby inside with insidious toddler. Am stuck on patio. Please, God, help.

Ah, inspiration! I decided to work on my tan. I laid down in the middle of the patio and pulled my shirt up over my head. And waited. Sure enough, through the glass I hear, "Mommy, what you doing? Mommy? Mommy?" And then, a click and a whoosh as the door opens. Slowly I get up, walk to the door and sit down in front of him to give him the 411 on why we don't lock Mommy out of the house. As I begin my speech, he interrupts with, "But Mommy, I was being patient!" As in "I was being patient while I waited for you to be able to come back into the house." Since we've been working on "being patient" lately, I wasn't sure if he was genuinely learning a lesson here or if he was snowballing me. I'm leaning towards the latter.

Sometimes it's very funny in our house and sometimes it's very tiring. Usually it's both at the same time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Girl

Please, only Grandparents watch this...because I sound like an idiot. (or turn off the volume)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

We've Made it 6 Weeks

Well, now that our out-of-town guests have slowed to a trickle and Ally has graduated to 6 weeks old, we've decided to transform the guest room/office into the baby's room...mostly so we can stop climbing all over baby furniture and sneaking around at night in our own bedroom.

Ari helped...gotta love power tools.

It was a big job but, whoop, there it is.

Ari looks like quite the enthusiastic helper here, doesn't he? In reality, his enthusiasm is more the product of having a "project" and playing with his toy power tools. The quantity of his enthusiasm for his baby sister can be summed up in two examples:

"Mommy, the beebee's crying." ..."Ari, can you rock her a little, please?" ..."No. You do it."

...and one rare instance that almost landed me on the floor:

(as Sascha carried Ally away to change her diaper) "I like dat beebee." (We're still not sure if he really meant that.)

Ally is the doll of a daughter that I had always hoped for. Her patience, grins and baby chuckles are what get me through the times when Ari declares that he does not love me or turns his back and pushes me away. Sometimes I think what have we done? only because my firstborn seems to be unravelling, not because of the adjustment to sleep deprivation and a crying newborn. Whatever. We're still here and we'll live to fight another day.

Six-week-old Ally. Hello Old Soul. If only babies could share their wisdom.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sigh #1

And what does one do? At a time that should be happy, yet chaotic, and full, yet sleep-deprived and overwhelming, I'm sitting at the kitchen table reading a paragraph and dissolving into tears because the author is talking about her two very small boys and the friendship and mutual admiration they've developed.

Here is a scene from this morning:

I wake at 7am to Ally stirring next to me, knowing full well that Ari will be walking in our door (in a questionable mood) in approximately 5 minutes. I sit down to perhaps nurse Ally quickly before he arrives and then hear a loud thump from Ari's room and his door opening. Shit. Quickly, I set Ally down as Ari comes barreling into our room, his face crumpling and his arms outstretched to me. We sit down in the chair together and rock. He won't look at me. Won't talk to me. Ally starts to cry. Sascha picks her up. Not good enough. Ari is still catatonic on my lap. Ally increases the volume. So I figure, "Well, there's room for two, right?", and ask Ari if perhaps Ally needs to eat in order to stop crying. No answer. With nothing left to lose (presumably, I've already lost him), I plunk a pillow on my lap and nurse Ally in a football hold while holding Ari with the other arm. He arches away from the baby, frowning. "Ari, as soon as she's done, I'm only going to hold you," I placate. No go. After two minutes he twists away from me, slides off my lap and runs to his room. Ally finishes. I hand her to Sascha and make my next move to Ari's room to see if I can fix the wrong-doing of which I am guilty (mothering two children). As soon as I walk in he starts crying, whining and writhing. The prefix to a tantrum. Again. I sit down with him and try to resume "our time". No go. So I ask if he really wants me to leave. Yes. Really? Yes. Okay, I'll be downstairs when you need me. Okay. Would you like me to cover you? Yes. I tuck him in and he allows me a kiss (amazing). Which brings me to the kitchen, a cup of coffee, Guideposts, and tears of frustration. And that's one of the less dramatic starts to our day.

Needless to say, there is no friendship or mutual admiration present here. And though it may only last a few months, I am sad.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reality Check

Scene: Two days ago. Sascha and Wendy eating cinnamon rolls at 10am. Clutter and chaos reining all around. Ari watching Clifford on PBS, about 30 minutes away from his morning meltdown because he wants to "go out". Ally asleep in her infant chair, oblivious to the fact that her morning nap and post-nap nursing delays Ari's going out time indefinitely.

Wendy (looking around her): So. We really need to get our shit together.

Sascha (with wide eyes and mumbling around a mouthful of roll): Mmm-hmmm!

The above exchange basically means that Wendy needs to get the collective shit together.

The shit is still all over the place.

Because Wendy is tired.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Birth Story

I just want you all to know up front that I am skipping a nap in order to update the blog with the "birth story". So...if there are moments when I make no sense or misspell several words or let fly with a cuss word or two...please don't call me on it, just blame severe lack of sleep.

As far as the story of Aletha's birth goes...I guess that I'm not all that anxious to share it. Which is, perhaps, why I haven't as yet. Nothing out of the ordinary happened this time around, thank the good Lord. No hemmhorage, no going into labor in a parking lot, no breaking point at 8 cm and almost asking for the epidural. This time around we knew what to expect (a load of pain and a lot of mess) and for how long to expect it (at least as long as last time). We didn't go into this thinking I could "hypnobirth" my way through and smile as the "birth surges" passed (what complete crap). We weren't expecting a 5 hour labor because our birth class instructor said we could put our desire out into the universe and receive it in kind (again, what crap). We went into this expecting solid reality and that's what we got. But in a good way. No, really.

My parents flew into town three days before Ally's due date. My dad could only be in town for one week and as the days ticked by and I didn't feel anywhere near labor, a slight panic set in as I realized that he may have to fly home without meeting his granddaughter. Since we were naming Ally for my grandma (Dad's mom), I was not happy with this possible scenario. So. I had a little talk with our little fetus...No pressure or anything, kid, but you've had a lot of time to cook in there and we're all very anxious to meet you. I'm ready whenever you're ready. But let's be ready in the next couple days, 'kay? She was due on a Wednesday, we had our "talk" on Friday, contractions started on Saturday and she came sliding out on Sunday. Since a frank discussion worked with her, I'm thinking her personality is light years different from her brother's. Again, thank the good Lord...because I'm not smart enough for two of Ari.

So Saturday around noon I started feeling icky and exhausted and went to lie down. Some people get an energy burst before labor starts...I get an energy drain. I'm not kidding. Saturday afternoon random contractions started and Sascha and I actually got to take a walk by ourselves through them. I woke up at midnight with more contractions and got up and went downstairs to get things ready for the hospital (second don't have a hospital bag waiting weeks in's the night before). Around 3am I got too tired to stay up and keep the contractions going so I fell asleep for a while and woke up to stronger ones around 6am. After hanging out in the shower for a while with Sascha "timing" the contractions (i.e. "How long was that one?" "Oh, I forgot to look at the clock." Again, second kid.), I called in to the midwife on call and in response to his "What can we do for you, Wendy?" I said, "Yeh. We're coming in. Now." At this point, I had no patience for excess verbage.

Ari threw a fit as we tried to leave for the hospital without him and the only way we could get out the door was to give him the gift-from-his-new-baby-sister early...meaning, right then. So we left with tears dropping behind us as I muttered over and over "we waited too long, we waited too long" through the contractions.

In reality, we had not waited too long. I was only 4cm dialated when we reached the hospital, though it felt like 8. As soon as we walked into our lovely birthing room, I promplty headed for the bathroom and threw up (same thing happened when Ari was born). Yep, I'm a birthing puker. Some women scream and throw hysterics while bringing their children into this world. I moan loudly and throw up.

I'll spare you the details of the next nine hours. All I will say is that birthing tubs rock. Always, always, always ask for a birthing tub. And nurse midwives are the saviors of the birthing world. Always, always, always go with a midwife if you can. Our midwife, Rebecca, was fantastic...humor at the appropriate moments, wisdom at others and an endless source of tips and suggestions. She was truly "with woman" (which is the meaning of "midwife"...only intervening when necessary) in that she didn't deliver our daughter, she intead received her. Because Rebecca held to the true meaning of being a midwife, we felt that Ally, Sascha and I were in charge of our own birth process and it was just the three of us that brought Ally into this world. It was a wonderful thing and I have nothing but good memories from her birth.

Thank you, Rebecca, for standing by with patience and wisdom and for gently handing me my girl. Thank you, Sascha, for holding me when I needed to be held, breathing with me through the pain and for politely asking me to release your nipple as I blindly grabbed it during the "ring of fire". Thank you, God, for guiding us safely through our daughter's birth and for giving us such a beautiful gift.

And thank you, Aletha, for trusting us to be your family throughout your journey on earth. May we always do right by you.

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living my baby you'll be.
~Robert Munsch

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aletha Marin, Our Sweet Girl

Aletha "Ally" Marin Freiwald
April 26, 2009 6:22 p.m.
7 pounds 4 ounces


Aletha: Wendy's grandmother's name, meaning "truth"
Marin: meaning "by the sea"


Noisiest baby. Ever. She's not even quiet when she sleeps.
(Despite the above noisy claim, you will have to turn up the volume for this video.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

40 1/2 weeks...and counting

Things are getting...uncomfortable...

Friday, April 10, 2009


You reach a certain point in your pregnancy when you would love to don a tshirt that states, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give damn." This week, I reached that point. Have a pointless question? Need to test my boundaries? Would like to rethink the baby's name? Well I have lost my capacity for bullshit. I defer to the shirt. This may make me look short of patience, obstinate and, at times, grouchy with those who cross me. But I prefer the word "firm". I am busy perfecting "firm" and am putting the finishing touches on "the look". Because sometimes that's all I have energy for anymore...a look. So it'd better be good.

Those of you who have not the child-producing capacity (ahem, men, ahem) don't get this and can be pretty insensitive to it. I'm sure they're thinking something along the lines of "oh suck it up". Trust me. I'd love to suck it up. I'd love to plow through the housework, meal preparation and freezing, endless loads of laundry and toddler tantrums with a serene pregnancy glow. Barefoot, too. However, when climbing the stairs has me resting at the top for 30 seconds lest I pass out; when bending over sends me into contractions; when I'm battling my 4th sinus "thing" since February; when a ligament in my groin spasms and sends me to my knees throughout dinner prep; and when a healthy sneeze or belly laugh forces me to cross my legs or reap the's a little hard to "suck it up". Basically, I defer to the shirt. Think what you will, I don't give a damn.

**Ari sings "Shimmy Shake" along with the Wiggles while I type this. He doesn't care if I don't give a damn.**

All of this isn't to say that I am ready to have this child. Sometimes the thought of a second child terrifies me and sometimes I am overwhelmed with curiosity and a desire to meet her. Ah, the dichotomies of parenthood. They begin even in utero. And, really, there are only three things that frighten me in respect to this blessed event: a) parenting two children - when I previously believed Ari took everything I had; b) the possibility of another hemorrhage; and c) postpartum depression. People frequently say that you fear the unknown. However, I don't. I fear the known. I know what it feels like to give your all to a child and know that it's still not enough. I know the fear of hemorrhaging after birth. And I know the darkness of postpartum depression. I'm taking steps to prevent and/or deal with each of these things but how much can you prepare? Will nature even let you? Sometimes you just have to trust and take the leap.

I think of people I know and love who are taking leap after leap after leap. My grandma, who is giving up her home, her things of 70 years, and moving to a retirement home. For good. A friend who just moved to Chicago to begin a new job and a new life. A strong woman who will follow her husband to a new state and start all over. Someone who is beginning his life again with someone new. An amazing woman still healing from the sting of loss. Leap after leap after leap. Life.

Another dear friend of mine wrote in her blog about a man who predicts that in 35 years we, as a human race, will have merged with our technology and may be able to overcome death. He did not state that this is a positive thing. And even so...even if this is true someday...can it detract, make less of, the Life we follow here? Our Path? Can our knowing that death or struggle is not inevitable make these leaps of faith less significant? Maybe. Our Lives are about lessons learned and choices made. Consequences. And what if, someday, there aren't that many consequences left? That may be a scary day for our children and I'm not sure I want that.

This has become more of a monologue on the virtues of technology v. the sacredness of Life than a rant on the weariness of pregnancy. And that's okay. I guess, when it comes to the former, time will tell. Hmmm, looks like a give a damn after all. Rats.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The screwdriver goes in the drawer, Ari.

I was making rice crispy treats today...with brand new coco crispies and 6-months-past-the-best-by date marshmallows (pretty typical in our house)...while Ari tried my patience from the living room, then the kitchen, then the living room, then hanging on my leg and standing on my foot. I was slowly losing my cool after a day of "I want, I want" without the please, whining and general American-bred entitlement that only a two-year-old can display with such vulgarity at times. Finally, he opened the junk drawer next to the stove, peaked in, pulled out a screwdriver and looked at me with the devil in his eyes. My first thought: My goodness, he's getting tall. My second thought: Why that little shit...

Ari: Mommy, I pay wif shooshiver?

Me (giving him my best regal-queen-of-the-Amazon-I-take-no-crap look): Ari, do we play with screwdrivers in this house?

Ari (actually looking abashed): No.

Me: What do we do with it then?

Ari: Put back in dwawer.

Me: That's right. Thank you very much.

Ari (slight chuckle, shaking head and smiling as if suprised by his former silliness): Okay.

I was shocked that the above exchange went so smoothly and so according to what I wanted. Could not believe that he actually looked embarrassed when I called him on the screwdriver thing. My God, my kid is growing a conscience!! And then...he pulled the same stunt again with a second screwdriver. It played out exactly the same way again but I knew he was testing a) his boundaries, b) how tired I was and how much I was going to give, and c) my benevolence in not yelling. Mission accomplished, lesson learned, I announced that I was done with my krispy treats and that we could go into the living room for two more songs before naptime.

Aside: One of his favorite activites is rocking out to adult music and seeing his parents dance along with him. See below post.

So I played the "Animal Song" and the "Move Song" (renaming compliments of Ari) and danced with him, pulling out some fomer clubbing moves and shaking my pregnant belly for all I was worth. Consequently sending me into another contraction. However, the Ar-man bellowed out, "Go, Mom, go!" so I knew I was doing just fine and the contraction was worth it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday Night Dance Party

On any given night after dinner, the three of us can be found in the living room jamming to volume-pumped "Apple Bottom Jeans" and several other highly innapropriate songs. Here are some glimpses from our post-7pm life...I'm sure our neighbors just looove us.

Right now, Sascha and Ari are rocking out to songs with lyrics that should be labeled with a Parent Advisory sticker. Sascha sings the lyrics (yes, he does, out loud) and Ari repeats whatever words he can keep up with. Case in point: Ari called the last song on the playlist the "Animal Song"...that's not the actual name and I refuse to share it.

Someone is going to call Children's Services...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tim, The Tool Man, Taylor

Because I'm avoiding my housely duties, I thought I'd share another "thing we've been up to". In our efforts to prepare our home for this baby (yes, we're nesting) and make room for everything and everyone that will be entering our lives over the next few months, our little townhouse is undergoing some "renovations." DIY renovations, that is.

Overall, we've moved the "office" out of the "office/guest room", turning it into a "baby/guest room"...the office being relegated to an IKEA P.O.S. desk in the corner of the living room. I've never heard someone cuss so much when putting together a piece of furniture...yes, each component seemed to have been created in separate international factories without any communication whatsoever, but it contains our paperly chaos and keeps nosy little fingers at bay. This move displaced our CD racks, which are now living, backwards, in the kitchen. In order to find a CD we have to pivot a case at random and glance in sideways. Of course, all we ever play anymore are Jock Jams and the Wiggles so I guess it doesn't really matter. We've repainted and big-boyed-up Ari's room with some bright colors and a toddler bed (pictures to come). And...our biggest project, we removed our old TV solution and, thanks to Sascha and his Dad's ingenuity, rigged a whole new space-saving way to watch TV. Here begins the odyssey...

Our former TV and armoire, a beloved wedding gift that we just don't have space for in this house...maybe in a future house. It was butted up against the built-in TV alcove with a curtain covering the wall and alcove behind. Adios armoire. It now resides in the garage and our old TV with our babysitter.

Hello built-in. With a little work, you just may do...

You see, we had to fit this new flatscreen (37") into a 26" space. Ain't. Gonna. Happen. I tried to tell Sascha that maybe we just had to settle for smaller this time ever try telling that to a man? Nope, 37" it had to be and thank goodness we have an engineer in the family. Maybe two now...

No, not him. Although he was a big help...

...and provided a bit of comic relief.

Sascha and his Dad (Arnie) collaborated via phone on this project and came up with an amazing solution. I was SO impressed watching it all come together.

Our couch and living space will eventually be across the room from the TV (it's a completely whacked set-up in this house) so the TV had to be able to articulate and turn almost 45 degrees. So this is what happened...and it happened beautifully.

Of course, Sascha had some help...

Et voila! I'll post some pics soon of it completely finished and looking nice. Probably after we try rearranging the living room today.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Portland Trip

Okay. Yes. I know. This trip happened three weeks ago. And I am, just now, posting some shots. Well, we've had house projects. And out-of-town guests. And laundry. And I'm eight months pregnant. Whaddyawant? So here you are. Better late than never.

As Andy walked us out of the Portland airport and an icy 40 degree wind blasted us (truth: gently buffered us), I knew we had been living in San Diego too long...the wussification process was almost complete...that, and I had neglected to pack appropriately for 40 degree weather. Hopefully, there's a parka I can borrow somewhere...

Our first night at Andy & Mel's was spent meeting their dog Bodie, eating some delicious pasta and drinking some great Oregon wine...yes, even I decided to partake. Ari and Bodie quickly took a liking to each other and as long as we kept wine glasses clear of wagging tails and flying balls, things went pretty well.

On our first full day in Portland, we walked along the river until Andy had to head to class. And then the three of us headed into town to explore and grab lunch. Ari was introduced to pad thai (my favorite)...and chopsticks (his favorite)...when we visited the Nob Hill neighborhood. Kickin' neighborhood. Check it out if you're ever in the city. Andy and Mel took us out to dinner that night at a great little place not far from their house. Wine, crayons and toddlers...that's about how our dinners out with friends go.

The next day, we all took a walk through their neighborhood (Alberta Arts District) to get donuts. Ari decided that Melissa needed help walking Bodie. The walk turned out to be longer than anticipated and all I can say is Thank God Andy gave me a parka to wear.

Sascha can't say no to donuts. He'll down a half dozen in one sitting. Like father, like son.

After the donut melee, we drove through the Columbia River Gorge and checked out the fantastic views and waterfalls. Winds were blowing so hard at one spot that the cars were shaking (hence, the flying braids on the right). Sascha was in his element: the forest. Ari was a little grouchy that day and decided to simply sleep through most of it. Actually, I think he was cold...time to move back to the North...

Our last night there, Andy and Melissa so kindly offered to babysit while we went out on the town. Since we were pretty tired we decided to just walk around Nob Hill together, pick up some Indian for everbody and then head home...where they were giving Ari a bath, God bless'em!
All in town, good trip, great to see family. Love you guys!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hedonistic Adventures

"Okay, ready. Let's go. Now!"

I swear we did not put him up to this. This is 100% Ari...we're very proud.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A fly on the wall

A couple days ago...

Scene: Sascha and Wendy are loading up the dishwasher one night.

Sascha (chuckling and shaking his head as he rearranges plates): Did Ari help you load the dishwasher today?

Wendy (strange look): No, that's where I put those plates when I want to make room for something bigger. (beat) Whaddya mean "did Ari help you"?

Sascha (deer in headlights look): Oh. Sorry. Nothing.

Wendy (you're not foolin' me look): Mmmhmm. Nice, honey.
This morning...

Scene: Wendy walks by as Ari is watching PBS.

Wendy: Whatcha watching? Clifford?

Ari: Yeh. Cool guy.

Wendy (pauses): Did you just say "cool guy"?

Ari: Yes!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

30 Weeks

(for those of you not on Facebook...:)

Sometimes You Gotta Be Grateful


The walking trail behind our condo complex. It's become my early morning quiet time.

The rain over the past couple days. It washes things.

Ari's cuddly, sweet and loving moments. They ensure his survival. And mine.

My cats. And their 6am alarm clock meowing. I'd never get my morning walk otherwise.

Ikea. For its $4 pillows, $10 comforters and 99 cent Mac & Cheese. And its ability to entertain a two year old for 3 and a half hours.

My husband. Who does the dishes and the vaccuming if it needs to be done.

Craig's List. And the fact that I can buy a year's wardrobe for my daughter for under $75.

Peanut Butter M&Ms. Enough said.

Sunday night Pizza Night.

George at the Saturn Service department. I will never entertain the thought of a different car.

San Diego weather and the ability to get a tan on your arms in February simply by walking to the park.

A couple of good girlfriends, some coffee and Java Mama.

Holding my temper during those rough moments at the dinner table.

Being okay with sitting on the couch and wasting two hours on the computer. where are those M&Ms?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ban This Book

Our financial advisor's family got Ari this book for Christmas: Don't let the pigeon stay up late.

It's all about this pigeon that tries to finagle a later bedtime. He doesn't succeed but, boy, does he work it. It's hilarious for adults and, we're finding, quite influential on the two-year-old wheedling process. For example, this evening:

I tuck Ari into bed and as I walk out the door...

Ari: Wait, Mom. Wait, wait.

Me: Yes, Ari?

Ari: Um, um, um, um, um, um. Choo choo book.

Me: Yes, we'll read it together in the morning.

Ari: Wait. No. Choo choo book here. (pointing at the mattress next to him)

Me: Okay. (retrieving the choo choo book from the bookcase)

Ari: No. Wait. Not that.

Me: You want the Toby book?

Ari: Yes.

I swap out the choo choo book for the Toby book.

Ari: Wait. Wait. No, not that.

Me: (with growing fatigue) Ari, I'm going to give you one more book and that's the end of it.

Ari: (quite cheerfully) Okay!

I add one more train book to the crib, say good night and begin to walk out the door.

Ari: Wait, wait. Wait, Mom.

Me: Yes, Love?

Ari: Um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um. Sixteen.

Me: Sixteen?

Ari: Yes!

Me: Sixteen, huh? Okay, I'll see you in the morning. I love you.

I close the door to the muffled sounds of more random numbers.

Pancakes and Toe Jam

During breakfast today, Ari determined that his toe fuzzies needed to be examined. This is a normal occurance as he likes to remove the sock fuzz from between his toes. He ripped his socks off and started picking between his toes. "No fuzzies, Mom." Bear in mind, this child has not been bathed in an undisclosed amount of time...He then started to pick at some accumulated toe jam. Even after I warned him that those feet may be a bit stinky, he put his fingers to his nose, made an awful face and proclaimed, "Oh! Grrghak! Yucky!"

I told you.

My Wish List

To awaken in the morning, not to the sound of dramatic whining from a baby monitor or loud breakfast-demanding meows from the hallway...but to the cheerful sound of birds chirping...during daylight hours. Please, cats, about the 6am. You have got to be kidding me.

To shower and dress for the day before leaving my room and walk downstairs to prepare breakfast on my own terms. Without the pajama-bottom-losing effects of toddler-induced gravity. Please, with the pulling down of my pants while I'm preparing a meal.

To drink a cup of coffee in the morning. The whole cup. Over a reasonable amount of time and not having to re-heat it in the microwave several times over a four-hour period.

To leave the house for the day quietly, quickly and gracefully, without 15 minutes of shoe-application, explanations and convincing enthusiasm or loaded down with kiddie coolers, water bottles and diaper bags. Pack mule, I am not.

To schlep through errands and daily work efficiently and completing the list of intended things to do. Without back-up plans, Cheerios crushed into the bottom of my purse and stuck to my sweater, throwing toys into the back seat or listening to the Wiggles on the car stereo.

Oh, to stop multi-tasking, even while driving.

To finish a thought.

To remember I used to be an intelligent adult capable of holding deep conversation.

To just do things. Without making it all a game or thinking 10 minutes ahead of every moment or explaining why. To just do it.

And despite my losses and my learnings from those losses...Oh for the pre-people-in-my-house days when I could decorate as I liked, cook what and when I wanted, write when I wanted, come and go as I pleased and when my career plans were my career plans and didn't have to take into consideration the well-being or convenience of three other people.

Oh for the days when I could be selfish, self-absorbed and completely oblivious to the needs of a spouse and children.

...I miss that sometimes.

But then...who would I kiss good morning and good night? Who would I laugh with over silly Thomas the train faces on TV? Who would give me a pat on the shoulder and a "hi Mom" at the oddest of times? Who would chastise me when I drop the f-bomb or let the s-word slip? Who would tell me I'm doing a good job and scrape me up off the floor when I fall? And what on earth would I write about? Yes, life would be all about me...but would it be nearly as full?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Choosing Creativity Over Crying

An Ode to Insanity

For there is nothing like 2 year old insanity.

It rages and stomps and calls you by name.
     "Hey Mom, Hey Dad. No, no, go away now, Dad."
It is waking at 7:30, yawning for two hours, and then
     refusing to go to bed until 10pm.
It is instantaneous mind changes and mood changes
     and taking high offense when the term "bipolar"
     is employed (how does he know what bipolar means?).
It is...tiring....

For there is nothing like 2 year old insanity.

It will rage irrational and then shrewdly bargain for
     "just one more cookie".
It flirts and cuddles and then screams, "No Mommy!"
It is disagreement at its most volatile...and frequent.
It frustrates...

For there is nothing like 2 year old insanity.

It throws tantrums at a restaurant as parents glance
     longingly at the bar.
It then gazes adoringly at the waitress as she brings
     the Mac & Cheese.
It does not gaze adoringly at Mom when she brings
     the Mac & Cheese.
It enrages...

For there is nothing like 2 year old insanity.

It creates babbling idiots out of highly educated adults.
It defines the phrase "a rock and a hard place".
It makes a grown woman want a nap at 10 am...
     or reach for the rum at 4pm.
It will make you stronger, they say...
     ...if it does not kill you in the process.

For there is nothing like 2 year old insanity.

(case in point...of the more positive side of insanity)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

6 Month Health Streak!


And so I sit, curled into the fetal position breathing wetly into a fistful of Costco Kleenex (i.e. not the kind that come with "Plus") and wondering if an orange, 5 strawberries and a couple spoonfuls of organic mac & cheese will constitute the wonder-food I need to magically reconstruct my former glowing health. Being six months pregnant, it is frowned upon to imbibe in any pharmaceutical aid...and so I sit, rasping out a "hey buddy" and offering a wan smile to the little urchin charging into my room every so often to "see Mommy".

Blessedly, said urchin has avoided the bugs passed back and forth between mom and dad. Sascha started this germ fest off a couple weeks ago with one of those "oh-my-god-i'm-dying" sinus infections that lasted three days (of course, he still claims the residual "draining"). With any hope, I'll be wrapping up this familial episode of viral drama entirely on my own with a stellar presentation of clogged sinuses, raw dripping nose, 80-year-old-large-man sneezes and body aches that I'm starting to confuse with contractions. And I need to finish it all by Monday.

As I write, my two boys are in our bathroom, trimming Ari's nails as he tells me all about life. "Shower there - wash wash." "What got there?" (referring to my laptop)...and launching into a description of watching Handy Manny on daddy's computer while Skyping with Nana. When I ask Sascha if I spelled "Skyping" correctly, Ari answers with absolution, "Yes." He's become quite the chatterbox, even though we can only understand about 70% of his verbal stream. Now preferring to call us "Mom" and "Dad", I can see him babbling his way into a prom date 15 years from now. A terrifying thought. But for now it's "football, soccerball, baseball" in "Daddy's car". And that's all I could ever want.