Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Like Watching Fireworks Detonate In His Mind

We've been spending some time this week visiting with John's brother, Eric, and his family, who are in town from Albuquerque. Cousins Finney and Will have been getting to know each other for the first time, really, as the last time they were together they were way too young to acknowlegde another human's permanent existence.

This time, it's been fun to watch the boys gradually warm up to each other. To explain to Finney that Will is his cousin. To point out that Will's dad, Eric, is Papa John's older brother. He smiles and nods, but doesn't seem overly impressed.

But what clearly blew his little-boy mind is when he discovered that he and Will, as sons of brothers, have -- brace yourself -- the SAME....LAST....NAME.

That one stopped him in his tracks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Anatomy Of A Recovery

Healthy, happy three-year old

Begins to feel a little woozy, a little weird

Turns into conjunctivitis, which looks at bad as it sounds

Add lots of medicine and naps on the couch

And some banana shakes and TLC from Grandma

And, before you know it, boy is back to his old, crazy self

Friday, March 24, 2006

Still On The Mend

Just as I predicted, it's been a long week of recovery, with lots of time indoors together. We've done every last puzzle, read the same books a dozen times over, and watched all our favorite DVDs an embarrassing number of times.

(Quick aside: Have you ever had to answer this question every week: "But why did Anakin turn into Darth Vader?"* It's an
answer as loaded and complex as Truman Capote, one filled with subtle shades of giving in to the dark side, embracing his anger and hatred instead of following the nobility and honor of the Jedi order, and not finish his vegetables at dinner, by the way, depending on the mood I'm in when asked.)

To make matters worse, the sun came out yesterday in a full springtime blaze,
beckoning us to walk to the park. Within minutes of Finn scaling the jungle gym I knew we weren't quite ready, as his still sickly lungs caused his little body to convulse in coughing-fit spasms. We quickly retreated, defeated, back to the loft, where we settled back into Day 6 of Getting Better.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the weekend.

* Finn asks this question repeatedly because, 1) he's three, and the three-year-old rule book clearly states that all questions directed to your mother must be posed a number of times equal to the number of minutes she was in labor with you, and 2) although
we've allowed him to see, with a parental chaperone with him on the couch at all times, the original Star Wars (Part IV) in its totality and parts of V, VI, I, and even II (he tells us to forward past the scary parts, like when Darth Maul fights with his double-sided light saber or when Hayden Christiansen, bless his pouty lips, tries to act too much), we've deemed part III to be much too violent and graphic and will probably hold off on letting him view it until he's about 26.

What this means, unfortunately, is that his narrative cycle is completely fractured because he's never seen for himself how/why Anakin becomes Darth Vader. We keep hoping our descriptions of the metamorphosis from dark to light, from good to evil, will suffice, but his curiosity keeps this subject close enough that we discuss it constantly. He also wants to know if Darth Vader gets sick, which makes me giggle because I imagine Mommy Vader leaning over her boy, feeling his masked forehead for a fever, then trying to somehow fit the dropper full of bubblegum-flavored antibiotics through his sleek mask into his pie hole.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

And Then There Were Three

Overcome with sneezing fits, the chills, a stuffy head, and fitful, restless sleep, Papa John stayed home sick from work yesterday. It can never be said that we don't share in this family; even with our germs and sickness, it's share and share alike.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sick And Tired

Bleeccccccccchhhh! Both kids have been sick since Saturday. Finn was his worst so far on Monday, just before his pediatrician officially identified his ongoing misery as Bacterial Conjunctivitis and Otitis Media. (He's got a nasty, runny case of Pink Eye and an ear infection.)

Baby Shea's coughing like a barking seal and sleeping like a newborn, in maddening little two/three-hour stretches.

The top shelf of the fridge is filled with prescription meds and plunger droppers, while Finn's magic eye drops are nearby on the countertop. John and I have been gathering everything within Finn's reach to be laundered in extra hot water or wiped down with antibacterial solution. He's extremely contagious and won't be back to school for many days.

It's gonna be a loooooooooonnnnnngggggggggg week.

Monday, March 20, 2006

But Finney Has MUCH Better Hair

My Mom, bless her New York-born-and-raised heart, thinks Donald Trump is "real classy."

(I, however, beg to differ.)

She'll be glad to hear, then, that Finn said this to me last week:

"Mom, I'm going to fire you."

(Don't be too indignant on my behalf about this, by the way. Twenty minutes later, he told me, "You're the best, best, best Mom." I'm quite used to the bipolar party that is a three year old's emotional landscape by now.)

I've got to admit, though: The Donald would probably admire the little guy's fortitude.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Bloggies

The winners of the 2006 Bloggies were announced yesterday. Yep, that's like the Academy Awards of the blog world, except nobody dresses up (nobody really shows up, either, unless they're already at SXSW in Austin), and the prizes are usually around 20 bucks (2006 cents this year) and whatever random prizes fellow bloggers donate to the pool.

Some of my favorite blogs were nominated in various categories, including
Loobylu, PostSecret, Finslippy,, and, of course, the Mother of all mother blogs, Dooce. Some of them won and some of them didn't, but each speaks to a different part of my personal interest bank. I'm excited now to check out some of the other nominees and winners in whatever spare time I can carve out in the wee hours of the night.

Have you started a blog yet? No, I don't get kickbacks from any secret blogging agency for recruiting new bloggers, I'm just a devotee who's sold on the wave of self publishing that's giving a voice to the masses. Plus, the whole process just appeals to the family historian/scrapbooker in me; I'm hoping this blog is a great gift for my kids one day--to see what life, and they, were like when we were all younger.

Creating a blog is easy, it's free, and it's a fun way to stay in touch with family, share recipes, chronicle your family history, share a bit of your culture, or just write about things you love and want to buy. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Let me know your new blog address once you get set up so I can stay in touch with you, too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Little Mermaid

When Finn was a baby and I was still getting used to the almost incomprehensible difference between childless life and life as a parent, I would regularly compare notes with friends who were going through the same process. This was how I learned that many of us were having similar experiences--that they, too, also missed adult conversation, having the time to read magazines and books, and wearing clothes that stayed clean throughout the day; that I wasn't the only one to rely on coffee and chocolate as a daily crutch; that sleep deprivation affected almost every aspect of our lives and could be so impairing as to compromise our ability to drive, let alone care for another human; and that we all cherished those rare, quiet moments when baby would nuzzle into our shoulder and let us rock him/her to sleep.

I was always so grateful for these regular maternal noteswapping sessions because they showed me that, although parenting brings many of the same challenges and rewards for moms and dads, every kid is vastly different. Comparing children is inherently problematic, as it repeatedly boils down to the old apples-to-oranges paradigm. Some of the things that were hard for Finn, for example (sleeping through the night and coming out of his shell in social situations), were much easier for other kids. Other things (learning to speak and communicate his needs) were easier for him, while other kids struggled in speechless frustration.

Certain things, though, like bath time, I simply took for granted as being neutral: not hard, not easy, just there. Finn never really complained at bath time, nor did he ever really seem to relish it. It was more of a mechanical stop on the route between dinnertime and bedtime, one that didn't usually elicit very much of a response. Rarely a fight, but rarely a party. I was sometimes even a little disappointed that Finn didn't act like one of those babies on the Johnson & Johnson commercials who, while being bathed in a sink full of bubbles, splashed and squealed and smiled as every pore filled with sheer, slippery joy. He acted more like he was in a jacuzzi and it was time to unwind after a long day of negotiating plea bargains. Maybe he'd push a toy boat around the tub or chew on a plastic lobster, but if there were no toys there were no complaints.

It wasn't until I heard from a couple of friends how vehemently their kids hated their daily baths--some with such intensity that their screaming and often violent protests suggested they were being rinsed with molten lava instead of warm bathwater--that I realized that I had dodged the bath bullet. But now that I have a second child--a very different child from the first, mind you--I'm reminded about the old comparison trap as I've discovered that the bath-hater bullet comes in an inverse--and, I'd argue, as challenging--form: the zealous bath lover.

(If you're reading this at home and are about to run a bath, by the way, I feel compelled to warn you to first make sure the bathroom door is fully closed before you read any further because the second the water hits the bottom of the empty tub, suggesting with its splash that it's about to fill it up, baby Shea will come crawling towards it at full speed from whatever crib, car seat or high chair she may be sleeping or sitting in.)

The girl's just loca-crazy-nutsy for baths.

And it's not a girly, Esther Williams/Doris Day bath love, either--nothing like the Go Go's Beauty and the Beat album cover; she's not luxuriating in a pampering pool of Calgon bubbles. The girl's there to throw down; to splash and squeal; to hurl herself at toys at the other end of the tub that must be played with immediately; to stand up and sit back down 23 times each minute; to dunk her face, accidentally, while reaching for toys, choke on the water intake, cough it off, and then do it again a minute later; and to scream, writhe, arch and howl in protest when we inevitably have to take her out of the tub. (By which time, of course, whoever's bathing her is drenched from head to toe and exhausted from trying to keep her from inadvertently knocking herself unconscious from her indefatigable bathtime play.)

The flip side of this, of course, means that she barely notices when I pour ENTIRE VATS of water over her head to rinse the shampoo from her hair. I babysat on a pretty regular basis during my adolescence and have given plenty of children baths in my lifetime, but I've never seen so much of a waterbug at such an early age. She loves it so much so that, even if she's had a bath in the morning and I'm getting ready to give Finn his evening bath, she'll hurl charges of favoritism at me and try to crawl her way into the tub with her brother to even the apparently unjust score.

Usually, I indulge her. But lately bathing both kids at the same time has been like wrestling a pig in a mudbath while giving a lecture on phonics. (Finn, as you might be able to detect in these photos, adores his foam alphabet and spells his favorite names and words with them on the tile wall during his baths these days. Sometimes, we'll spell slang words or even turn the "Z" on its side to pretend it's a second "N" so he can spell his name. Yeah, that's about how crazy he gets in the bath.)

And so it goes: At least in the bathtub, my little apple and my little orange couldn't be more different.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sometimes She Reminds Me Of Japanese Anime

Thanks, Jody, for the hilarious shot of our frumpled ragamuffin.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Next Diane Arbus

While visiting Daisy, Cari, and Flip last week, I pulled out my camera (shocking, I know) to capture some of the sweet childhood antics unfolding around me. Before long, Daisy nestled up to me, interested to see how the magic silver box I perpetually have in my hands and in her face actually worked.

Once I showed her the basics--this setting allows you to take pictures, while this setting displays what you took--she quickly got the knack of things and was off and shooting. I was so pleased at her interest and immediate prowess that I started filling out my Christmas 2006 Gift Idea List in my mind, starting with a basic digital camera for the little five-year-old after my own heart.

While we were saying our thank-yous and goodbyes for the day I promised to show Daisy her photographs the next time I saw her, after I had a
chance to print them out.

Cari, you see, Daisy's mother and my dear friend since we were 10 years old, is one of the best homemakers I know and is gifted beyond belief in decorating, sewing, party throwing, cleaning, organizing, reorganizing, cooking, juggling three kids without breaking a sweat, and most domestic things that perplex and vex me to no end, but she still hasn't mastered e-mail. And my blog? That's just something she snickers at for wasting the time I should be spending cleaning and redecorating my house, after handstitching new linens for the kids' beds and whipping up a six-course meal--with dessert!--in less than 20 minutes. Go figure. (You can already detect the distinct ying and yang in our enduring friendship, can't you?)

When I got home, I half expected to find a memory card full of random floorboards and sidewalks, of blurry faces and overexposed places, which I would simply delete into the great digital trash can in the sky. What I discovered, however, showed great promise and range, and I'm thinking Christmas needs to come a little sooner than usual for my favorite little blond flower.

Here, then, is a sampling of Daisy's first digital photoshoot.

Yeah, she's still in preschool.




Still Life

Action Shot

Self Portrait

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lady And The Trampoline

Finney had a much-anticipated playdate with Daisy, one of his very bestest friends ever, last week. After spending about an hour together nibbling on lunch, playing on the swing set, giggling on the couch, and blasting off into outer space in an empty television box, Daisy--little nurturer that she is--finally helped Finney muster enough courage to join her for a round of jumping on her backyard trampoline for the first time ever in the nearly ten months it's been sitting there.

As one could expect, once he tried it he was hooked. Twists, belly flops, bottom bounces, tandem springing--you name it, they did it, over and over again, giggling all the while. The two pals jumped their hearts out for what seemed like hours, reminding me once again just how deep the stunning energy reserves of kids extend. And before long, the once shy and reserved landlubber was trying to talk Daisy away from her Yoohoo and back up and into the trampoline for another go.