free hit counter Snacks, please!: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Friday, June 29, 2007


Get it? Like okay? But au-k? Because I'm going to write about our au pair applicants...

Anyway, after rejecting applicants from Mexico and Thailand, David and I have accepted a 23-year-old university student from El Salvador (which is not an island, in case you're wondering...) She seems nice. She says she's not afraid of winter or two crying babies. (Shouldn't she be??) She has some experience with infants, which is more than the other two and she speaks English quite well. (I did like the Thai candidate -- she was a Buddhist. And she cooks! Would she have made us sticky rice with mangoes? Because I love that and now I wish I had given it more specific consideration...) Our Salvadorean identified herself as "Christian" -- is that code for something weird?? I would prefer more specificity in my religious labels -- like Catholic. Baptist. Presbyterian. (And then I could put my decades-old, but completely unfulfilled stereotypes to use.) Anyway, her interests are: the beach, soccer and family...

Hey, wait a second, I like the beach too! So there you go! It's going to be great!

Miss Julia (at Lucy's old daycare) is worried that we're going to have some nutcase in our house. Well, I hope not! But how can you tell in a 30-minute international phone call?? Ugh. As some of you know, I have to hire interns at my job and, as some of you know, I have revealed myself to be a downright shitty judge of character. (Who could have guessed that the polite young man tortured kitchen appliances with his fists?? Or that the demure young woman was actually a spiritual sister to the reclusive Emily Dickinson, making it impossible for her to REPORT STORIES.) And I actually met those people in person!

Still, I have a good feeling. We were at the pool yesterday and I sat down next to a woman from El Salvador, who came here 23 years ago and now is the supervisory custodian at a Georgetown law firm. She has 6-year-old twin girls and a 24-year-old son. She immediately picked up Margaret and held her, rocked her, fed her a bottle, and talked my ear off for two hours about family, babies and her brother-in-law's cheating ex-wife. This is a good sign, isn't it? So now I am going to make a sweeping conclusion that Maria M. (who will meet me again at the pool next week) represents all of her former countrymen and our new au pair will be just as nice.

HEALTH UPDATE: The girlies are four months old!! Margaret weighs 13 lb 8 oz, which puts her in the formal AMA weight classification known as "chubchub." Josephine weighs 10 lb 4 oz, which puts her in the formal AMA weight classification known as "peanut."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

David's memorial page for Blue can be found here:

Monday, June 25, 2007

School's Out!

Today is Lucy's last day at her daycare in the city. And I think I'm a little more sad about it than she is. Well, I'd have to be, because she's not sad at all! Still, considering how often she's been going lately -- a total of 6 days in the month of June, at the Breakers rate of nearly $200 a day -- it certainly doesn't make sense to keep her there. We'll have fun at home. All four of us. (All four of us?!! Good God!)

Anyway, when we first brought Lucy there, she was a wee little 4-month-old. I didn't want to leave her. But I liked Miss Julia, the lead teacher in the infant room. She's this gigantic women who wears neat little velvet hats in the winter, talks way too much about her sex life as a 60-year-old newlywed, and gives good hugs. And I liked her assistant, Francella. She has the same birthday as one of my sisters -- the bossy one -- and I used to tell her how much they had in common... Lucy used to come home smelling like her perfume.

A good Francella story: One day, when she accidentally overslept, her phone rang and woke her up. When she answered it, it was silent. And that's because it was Jesus calling her!! He had delivered a personal wake-up call and saved her from getting in trouble at work. Julia also goes to church twice a week, but she had a more secular view of life (and her appliances). When she imagined she was pregnant -- at the age of 60! -- she said she just wasn't sure WHAT SHE WOULD DO!

Still, daycare is not "nanny-care," as Miss Mary says, and we didn't see eye to eye about everything. It was not a good day when Francella told me that I held Lucy too much. Hm, I said. You think so? Well, you're making it hard for us, she snapped back.

And her current room has its ups and downs. The lead teacher is a sweetie. But her assistant... she's like the Giuliani of the Turtle Room. (Can you imagine Rudy as a daycare teacher??!) She likes her rules. A lot. Too many times, we've gone to get Lucy and the WHOLE CLASS is in a time-out because they've been: A) Jumping; B) Squealing; or C) Plain gettin' on her nerves!

Okay, I might be a real softie, because it doesn't seem to bother the other parents, but I say that's what 2-year-olds do...especially Option C. (If you can't take it, well... get into animal control. I've got your first assignment in our backyard.) And I think it's from the Assistant DA that Lucy has picked up her latest mad retort: "I'm not playing wichu!" (She also learned to say a very sincere "graces" from them. Amen.)

Anyway, we'll be hanging out in the inflatable pool; going to the zoo; and then heading off to Cape Cod for a few weeks. In September, Lucy will go to a new school in Arlington where they have Spanish and French lessons and a visiting ballet teacher and everything will be perfect.

The Cat is Out of the Bag

Terrible pun. Sorry.

Anyway, on Saturday night, after three days of "Hm. I don't know..." Lucy wanted a real answer to her question -- "Where is Boo-Boo?" So David told her that he had gone away, that a raccoon tried to eat him. She nodded very wisely. "A raccoon ate him," she repeated. "That was very, very naughty!" Yes, it was, we agreed! Where do you think he went, I asked. (Because basically, even after two and a half years, parenthood is still one big psychology lab for me...) "To a new house, a raccoon house, where raccoons and cats are friends!" she said.

That, of course, made us cry.

But she doesn't really get it. Again, yesterday afternoon, she picked up Kitty Cat's comb and said, "Boo-boo doesn't like this comb." Nope, he doesn't. "A raccoon ate him," she reminded me. And then, "Boo-boo likes his green comb," she added. Yes, he does. "I want to get Boo-booo's comb," she said.


"So I can comb him when he comes back."

PS: As part of the conversation, we also talked about WILD animals -- like raccoons -- that sometimes bite. We should not try to pet them! In the wild kingdom: Lions, tigers and bears. (Oh my.) In the not-wild world: Cows, horses, sheep and elephants.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The monster in our backyard

Well, I called Arlington County Animal Control this morning, as required for any wild animal bite. Their local raccoon expert took our address and gave lots of sympathy and said this: The crazy killer actually was acting "normally" for a raccoon, especially a young one. She also confirmed it probably was a raccoon (the same one?) who shredded Lucy's inflatable pool last weekend -- "for fun."

Ugh. They don't trap them. There's just too many. She was a little worried about whether or not David could have gotten any raccoon saliva on his hands when he grabbed Blue. Even though the raccoon acted normally, he/she still could have rabies. Fortunately, they don't give post-exposure rabies shots in the stomach anymore. It's six shots over 28 days in your arm. But he still doesn't want to do it. He doesn't think he got raccoon juice on him. He used a baby blanket.

Anyway, raccoons are bad. And if you needed more evidence, read this story about a marauding gang of vicious Washington State raccoons responsible for at least 10 cat murders and one human attack. These raccoons are so smart they've actually taught each other how to avoid traps.

Still don't know what to tell Lucy. David said something this morning about the "monster in our backyard," and of course her ears perked up. "Wha' monster?" Quickly, he amended, "Oh, there's no monster anymore. I scared it away." She nodded. Hm. "Where'd it go Daddy?"

Where, indeed!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bye Blue.

Well, Blue is gone.

A raccoon attacked him last night, like really attacked him. It was crazy. David was outside, bringing something in from the car, when he called me from the backyard. He and Kitty Cat had discovered a raccoon eating the cat food on the back porch. (I know, a bad idea...but we had to feed the banished.) You always think they're cute at first because they have those fat rear ends and little hands, and so we watched with a little interest, small delight. The raccoon didn't seem to mind the audience at all, which should have told us right then that he was a crazy raccoon. I like my wild animals to be a little scared of people. But no, he cleaned the bowl and then waddled under the house where David heard Blue hissing at it. And even then, I thought, oh, good old Blue. He's such a crab.

And then David says, "He's trying to eat Blue!"

And I said, "No way."

But he really was. He bit him, over and again. David ran and got the hose and put it on the highest setting and managed to separate them. But then Blue was moaning and the raccoon really wasn't going away, he was just hiding, pacing, just outside the hose spray. And David was trying to get under the house too, which really freaked me out, because it's not a very big space, and it didn't seem like a good idea to go under there with a killer raccoon. Raccoons have rabies! And they can be vicious. But David wanted to get Blue out. He could see the blood on him. And, of course, he didn't want to leave him under there to bleed to death -- or get eaten by that fucking raccoon. I was saying, "Don't go in there!" And he was saying, "I have to get Blue!" Anyway, I think he, David, backed out to get the flashlight or something, and the raccoon went right back after Blue!

David was shouting, "Hey! He's back! Shit!" And then he says, "He's got Blue! He's taking him away!" And I said, "Jesus Christ!" And it was true, the raccoon had actually picked up Blue and was trying to scale the chainlink fence in our backyard. David hit him again with the hose spray and he dropped Blue in the dirt by the fence. And Blue is still moaning and he's bloody and he's wet, because he keeps getting sprayed too, and now he's dirty, and he's hissing and trying to bite David too. And that damn raccoon won't go away! He keeps trying to come back and get Blue! He must have come back like a half-dozen times. I kept running inside to get stuff -- the animal carrier case, the emergency vet address, more towels and blankets, gloves, etc. -- and the truth is, I offered to get all those things because I am a big chicken. I didn't want to be left alone out there with the killer raccoon and a hose to protect myself!

Eventually I had the flashlight and hose in my hands and David says, "Watch the perimeter!" Because the damn raccoon would not go away!! While we're leaning over Blue, the raccoon went back up the stairs to sniff around the porch. And you know what I thought? I thought, "I wish I had a gun." Which is crazy, because one could hardly shoot a raccoon in your backyard in suburban Arlington. And then I thought, I don't even have golf clubs!! (Which wouldn't have been much more useful under the house. No room to swing.)

Anyway, David took Blue to the emergency vet. And this was the choice they gave us: Pay us $1,000 to $1,500 and we will get him into stable condition, so that we can assess his injuries. Any actual treatment of the injuries would be more money -- if they were actually treatable. Or, we'll put him to sleep. Good God. So what do you do? He's 17 years old. He stumbles when he walks. He wheezes when he breathes. People talk about "quality of life," and if I'm any judge, he didn't seem to have much of it. If we were different people -- well, if we lived in different circumstances -- we might have been able to enhance his last years with lots and lots of lap time, lots of petting and brushing, etc. But our laps are full. We have three kids under the age of 3 -- our laps are always full.

Still, he was a sweet cat. You know we've had our differences. I wrote about them. I've been angry about his pooping all over the house and now I feel bad about that. Would it have been such a big deal to take 10 minutes every day to pick up poop and spot clean the rugs? When we had time for each other, Blue had a very endearing way of bumping you with his head, demanding to be petted. Or patting your knee, asking to be picked up. He was always cranky -- sort of French, maybe -- but he was incredibly patient with Lucy, allowing her to grab him around the belly and carry him around the house. Sometimes upside-down. They were actually friends. It was like he needed people and, if he had to settle for a 2-year-old who accidentally bonked him in the head with his brush, well, fine... (We're not sure what to tell Lucy. The truth? A raccoon ate Blue?)

When he was able to jump onto our bed, he used to annoy me by insisting to sleep next to my head. I'd wake up and think, "Somebody is licking my hair! And I know it's not David!" Most of all, he was David's cat. He called him, "My son Blue." The only other man in the house... But Blue and I also lived together alone for a few months, when David first moved up to DC, and Blue used to greet me at the door every night. He used to sit next to me to watch Netflix DVDs and then I'd carry him upstairs to sleep. Even then, and that was more than three years ago, he preferred to be carried up the stairs. He's been an old guy for a long time.

I'm sad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The next round is on Lucy...

I took the girls to Baskin-Robbins this morning. Josephine had milk. Margaret slept. But Lucy had her new favorite flavor -- Lime Daiquiri Ice. Is that wrong? To let my 2-year-old get ice cream flavored like a tropical cocktail? Hmm. She really likes it.

Aaah! Nightmare!

Last night, I woke up in a tizzy at 3:30 a.m., after dreaming that I had to take Margaret to the cardiologist today and I DID NOT HAVE A REFERRAL!!! I was totally panicked! Sweaty, even. Seriously. Isn't that crazy??

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Paper Trails

Just finished Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage -- an anthology of newspaper columns by Pete Dexter. Is he good. (Yes, he is.) How could you put down a column that starts like this: "The last I'd heard of Low Gear and Minus, one of them had shot the other one in the leg, trying to kill a pig that they'd raised from a baby in their backyard in Florida. 'That scream,' Low Gear had said later, 'it sounded so human.'"

Hysterical! And they're all good.

This is what he says about writing:
"It is a fact of life, I think, that some of us are born with talent and some of us are born with shit for brains. Maturity comes into it later, when nou try to figure out which way you are.
"From my own experience, I can tell you that there are mornings when you sit down at the typewriter and knock out three pages in forty-five minutes, and you look at yourself in the toaster over breakfast and your head's all misshapen and pointy, and you say, 'Son, you were born with talent.'
"And there are other days, often the following day, after you have read those three pages, when you say, 'Son, you were born with shit for brains.'"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hava Nagila!

Woohee!! Lucy and I went up to Connecticut on Saturday for the party of the season -- my nephew William's bar mitzvah -- and now our phone is ringing off the hook! "No, Lucy is NOT here...for the fifth time, she doesn't want to talk to you! ...she's busy on Friday... she's busy Saturday too... no, listen, she's busy all the time... it was just a dance... yeah, well, she shows her belly to EVERYBODY, I'm afraid... stop calling us!!"

The highlights:

Lucy and I, and her Auntie Kathy, got to undress the Torah! On our way up to the special Torah place, which is protected by a golden motorized gate, Lucy announces, "I have to poop!" Oh dear. "You have to wait!" I hiss back. Later, she waves off my hand, "I do it MYSELF!" she shouts, and descends from the bima (sp?), one step at a time, slowly, slooowly, while her audience watches enthralled.

The mini green-tea martini.

My brother-in-law's Aunt Florence asks my mother if she's had a facelift!! Oh, the thrill! My mother laughs hysterically. "I can't afford a facelift!" she gasps. What a hottie! She tells me this story THREE more times the following morning. And I don't blame her.

The beta fighting-fish centerpieces.

My brother-in-law's cousin's new husband is there -- and it turns out he is the ex-boyfriend of one of my ex-colleague's from the Herald, and not just any ex-colleague, but the girl who stole my yogurt from the office refrigerator TWICE. And yes, I had my name on it in black Sharpie pen. And yes, I know it was her, because I found them both times in her garbage. She was a yogurt thief! She was also very skinny. I think she was on a diet where she could only eat what she stole. I told her ex and he said, "You got off easy. She stole my heart."

(No, he didn't really say that. But it would have been a good line.)

Anyway, the whole thing made me envious of the Jews. I know, I know, people are always trying to kill them. But I love a good ceremony. And a party! Of course, if I were a Jew, I wouldn't get the big BM. I'd get the little bm, which I think they invented for girls in the late-70s. (Still, on the whole, BM or bm, I think the contemporary Jewish faith does much better by its women than say...the Catholic Church. You don't hear anybody fussing about women rabbis.)

At 10 pm -- TWO hours after bedtime -- I said to Lucy, "You want to leave?" She said, "No! I want to dance!" At 11. we finally said good-bye and Lucy complained the whole way back to my parents' house, "I wanted to stay for cake!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Drinking the Kool-Aid

We were back at the hospital today for Josephine's crazy radioactive milk test. When we showed up, the lovely receptionist gave us all sorts of forms and said apologetically, "Well, I assume she's never been to radiology before..." Ha! I wish! This was actually her sixth trip to radiology -- two head ultrasounds, one spinal ultrasound, and two chest X-rays. (Not to mention the x-ray at Georgetown...but who's counting?)

Anyway, she drank their wacky milk without complaint, although I felt a little uncomfortable when she started to glow. I am kidding... She was a champ. She fell asleep on the machine, leaving Margaret and I entranced by the show on the computer screen. It was like that shooting star screensaver -- all these little glowing particles emanating from her tiny tummy. We'll get the results next week.

In other news, I lost my mind and bought another dress for this weekend's bar mitzvah. It was ridiculously expensive -- think Upper Georgetown boutique prices -- but Lucy said she liked it. (And I think there's a lot of things I can do with beans this summer.) It's pale green, sleeveless with a big raincoat kind of collar and a sash around the waist. Now I need to be invited to more semi-formal spring/summer affairs. Like a wedding. You know who you are, people. Get the show on the road!

What else? I spent $6.10 for a pecan pie recipe. But it's John Edwards's mother Bobbie Edwards's recipe! And you know how I feel about universal healthcare (and the un-insurance companies.) Anyway, I'm not giving away the secret ingredient -- because I think maybe you can fork over the $6.10 too. That is, if you want poor children to get much-needed operations, etc... I will tell you however, that it has cream!! Oh, how I love cream.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You can get one at the shtore!

What does a dog do when it's happy?
"It wags its tail!"
Yes! And what does Lucy do when she's happy?
"I wag MY tail!"
Whaaat? You don't have a tail!
"Not yet!"

(Photo: That's J on the left.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wanted: Excellent Childcare, Cute Accent a Plus!

David and I have been toiling over our au pair application. It seems like every question is fraught with peril. For example, is our house "cluttered but comfortable" or "moderately neat"? If we admit the truth, will they send us a slob? Or a girl with her own supply of Fabuloso? Should we say absolutely no to smokers? I don't want anybody to smoke near the babies, especially Josephine, whose horoscope might as well say, "future asthmatic," but I'm no Bloomberg -- do I really care if she wants to have a cigarette on a Saturday night in the city?

And how do we say fun Germans are okay, but not, you know... the OTHER KIND. (And don't even get me started on the South Americans... my eldest sister says her Brazilian cleaning lady mocks her. I say, well, honey, can YOU scrub the bathroom in stilettos? And then I say, no, you're right, I don't want anybody's pity because I'm 35 and the only makeup that I've ever bought is Clinique eyeliner -- blue, 1980s, and brown, 1990s to present.)

Seriously, we don't care where she's from. Not in the least. We just want somebody to love the babies, make funny faces at them, say, "Hello Margaret! Hello Josephine!" and play peekaboo and pattycake. She should make them swoon over sweet potatoes and smooshed peas, take them on strolls and point excitedly to the squirrels, and push them gently in the park swings. Those are first-tier qualties. Less important, but still good, would be somebody who could teach them to sing in harmony, sew clothes out of curtains, and help us all escape across the Alps.

We want Maria Von Trapp!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Flag of Friendship

We visited the old hood in the city this weekend and had a great time -- as well as an inspired angel food and fruit trifle. Our former neighbors are so nice! And interesting. There we were, performing the ring-chain trick over the pregnant belly of a Guantanamo human rights lawyer, keeping an eye on the kiddies (no peeing in the pool!), and thinking: Why exactly did we move??!

Was it that time our neighbor was sitting in his car, not one block from our house, and a man slid into the passenger seat and jabbed a gun into his ribs? Because he's fine!! Was it the media center at the corner school? The one without new books? Because if you consider it a "classics" library, it sounds much nicer, no?

Well, whatever, we're here now -- in the land of milk and honey, and parks and libraries, and an overwhelming Democratic majority, and I think I have identified our problem in making new friends. It's the damn flag on our house.

Now, I love America. I get tingles from that crappy Lee Greenwood song and I loved, loved, loved Johnny Tremaine when I was a little girl. (I used to try to pick up things without my thumb, so that I could understand his sacrifice!!) My grandparents were very happy to come here -- except for one, who wrote pathetic letters to the Irish government, begging to be allowed back in. (That's a whole other story...) But the flag, which the old owners NAILED to the house...well, I'm afraid it says, "I voted for W!" Which I didn't!! Or even worse, "I support the war in Iraq!"

But what do I do? It's like crucified up there. Would it be unpatriotic to tear it down? Am I going to have to find a troop of Boy Scouts to preside over an official burial? I know I'm not supposed to just throw it in the trash with the poopy diapers and watermelon rinds that I refuse to throw in the compost because that plague-ridden rat is eating them. In any case, it seems like a hell of a lot of work, no doubt involving aluminum extension ladders and Holy Water... is it worth making new friends? Hm. I wonder.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Inside the Mind of a Cranky Old Cat

arrrgh... Everything was fine until these babies came along! I hate them. Now that big milky one forgets to feed me. And she never pets me. Babies, babies, babies -- they get petted! They get fed! Arghhh... And she put their stupid playmat with those stupid hanging animals -- a purple elephant? I am a blue cat, so I can't say much, but I do say it's stupid and idiotic and I hate it and she put it right where my sunbeam is and that's my spot, goddamn it! Cough, cough, wheeze. This is the reward I get for 17 years of living? This is my reward for gracing you with my presence? Mon dieu! and fuck you!

You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to scratch this part here with the zebra, in fact, I'm going to scratch that stupid smile off its face, and then I'm going to... yes, I am! I am! I'm going to poop right on it. Ohhhh, yes, that feels GOOD! Oh? You don't like that? Well, sneeze, sneeze, fine! Then I'm going to limp into the living and poop on your Pottery Barn rug. Oh? You don't like that, either? Well, then I'm going to creep back into the family room and poop on your four-month-old Berber carpet. Oh? You don't like that? Well, I don't like you! So I'm going to heave my arthritic body onto your nightstand and then make the last leap of my pathetic life to land on your bed and piss all over your Garnet Hill (clearance) sheets. And tonight, when you can't stay awake for one more second because your damn babies have been making their insufferable demands all day, you will crawl into bed and wonder what smells so so so terrible! And your husband will say it's the barbeque. The barbeque! Ha, he is an idiot too! It's my elixir of revenge! And then you will be forced to get up and change the sheets and I will laugh, cough, laugh, wheeze, laugh, laugh.

Hey, wait! I can't live outside! Let me back in!

(And you would think that after a night outside, eating ant-ridden dry food and watching for raccoons, the damn cat would be reformed. But, you point out, quite sensibly, do I expect Paris Hilton has been reformed too? No, I do not. Anyway, he snuck back in, while I was taking car seats out to the van, and went straight to the playmat to poop again! So you know what, Blue? You can stay out there all summer!!)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Chicken Nuggets a la Orange

Well, I was hoping to write a very snooty post today about the evils of children's menus -- see the NYT story that suggests the young American palate is turning as beige as the ubiquitous chicken nugget. (Sadly true, I fear.)

Such a post would have started generously: "Lucylu eats chicken nuggets, of course, don't all toddlers?" But it quickly could have asserted my superior parenting skills: "But she actually prefers such things as grilled salmon, chicken pad thai or the baby prawn salad at Ikea."

Anyway, I should have moved my fingers a little faster. Not only did my little munchkin have a chicken nugget Happy Meal for lunch yesterday -- at Old MacDonald's! On the playscape! (And she needed TWO orders because she loved them so!) She then insisted on a half-dozen more in the microwave for dinner, after turning up her nose at my grilled baby back ribs, sweet potatoes and avocado salad. What's wrong with this girl??

"Something else! I need something else!"

Well, most days I think we do pretty well. She does try new foods. She doesn't always like them. (Last week, basil-walnut pesto... a no-go. She prefers butter on her noodles.) But she does eat collard greens. Salami. Black or green olives. And she usually likes avocado. Mango. Almost all fruits really, even kiwi. She loves blueberries. When we shopped together at Giant, I'd let her eat a whole pint in the shopping cart and then wonder, hm, should I pay for this?? (Probably.) Broccoli. Spinach. Asparagus tips. She doesn't care for carrots. And she does not like pancakes or French toast. For breakfast, she prefers eggs -- scrambled or hard-boiled -- and sausages, or cold cereal with berries. Oatmeal too, especially with dried cranberries.

On Saturday, I asked her, "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Hm," she paused. "Chocolate."
Okay, so we're not perfect.

She does not like pizza! (Again, what's wrong with this girl?) And she does not like cake. But she loves Stouffer's frozen dinners, especially the salisbury steak, and she has a weird affinity for Lean Cuisine's Tuna Noodle Casserole. I'd say her favorite ethnic flavor is Japanese -- she likes edamame and miso soup with extra tofu (and insists on using that big unwieldy spoon). Sensibly, she loves her Italian grandmother's meatballs too. And she does love ice cream. Oh, child of mine and David's...

HEALTH UPDATE: I took the babies to the developmental specialist yesterday and I think they did really well! Their social behavior fits their chronological age. They have very impressive smiles and goo-gaa's! Their motor development is more like a 2-month-old, which is their gestational age. They don't grasp things yet (except David's chest hair...doesn't that count?) So that's all good. And then they saw the pediatrician again today. We think Josephine has reflux. She's going to start taking Zantac and go for some wacky ultrasound, where she will drink milk and we will watch it go down, down, down (and hopefully not up, up, up.) She weighs 9 lb 6 oz and Margaret weighs 12 lb 4 oz!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why Barney annoys me!

We have Barney's Good Manners DVD from the library and I can't get this song out of my head and it's driving me mad: "When you use your voice, you have two choices! You can use either one of your two voices!" Achhhh!! That is ONE choice! Indoor or outdoor voice does not constitute two choices, but two alternatives to one choice. Doesn't this dinosaur have a copy editor??? Sheesh.

Germs, germs!

For the second time in two weeks, the girls and I have turned down an invitation to play because I have suspected that our would-be playmates are actually germ-infected demons waiting to take my babies back to Hell (i.e., Georgetown Hospital.) I'm not entirely comfortable with the new paranoid mommy-me, but what can I do? I really don't want them to get sick again! And yes, I do know that the world is FULL of germs and I can't possibly stop them all with a little hand sanitizer, but I can try, right??

Margaret is feeling fine. She still gets that creepy concavity in her sternum when she cries or yawns, and I am going to ask the doctor about it tomorrow, but her congestion is gone. Josephine is much better too -- but she STILL wakes up in the morning like my father (who has smoked for 50 years) with a cough and snort. Last week, after she threw up a hunk of flem, I Googled cystic fibrosis -- and yes, I know I'm crazy, I hope I am anyway, but you'd start wondering too after SEVEN weeks of constant respiratory complaint!! Anyway, I don't think she has it. For one thing, it's a white person's disease, and I don't think David qualifies. (Half-Sicilian Jews are considered Black by the U.S. State Deartment. Really.) For another, I licked their heads after a hot stroll -- you all should be honored that I willingly admit my craziness to you -- and I don't think they had unusually salty sweat. Truth be told, I'm not sure they actually had ANY sweat...which is probably a symptom of some other terrible disease.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Shopping with the girls

I need a dress for my nephew's bar mitzvah in two weeks. I tried buying one online -- but I think its polka dots align in a bad way across my hips -- and I've decided to return it. No more online shopping! I have to pay $16 for postage on this one, basically for the privilege of trying it on at home, and it annoys me.

So, I decided to take the babies to Nordstrom with me. If you have to venture to the mall with infants in two, I suggest going to Nordstrom. The ladies are very nice and they have a very comfortable women's lounge where you can breastfeed (not that Margaret and Josephine have anything to do with that!) Anyway, I stowed the double snap 'n go in the minivan, stopped for gas ($3.11 a gallon!!), and strategically parked where we'll encounter no stairs.

First salesman: "Good morning! My, you have your hands full!"

Second saleswoman: "Good morning! My you have your hands full!"

Third saleswoman: "Hi there! Oh boy, you have your hands full!"

Is this a line from training? Yes, yes, I do. Smile, smile. I am on a mission, no time for small talk. We motor down to dresses and I start flipping through the racks. There is a lovely gold sleeveless dress with beading -- size 14. Hm. No doubt it will be much too big! But it's pretty, so I throw in. A lavender halter dress. Too daring for the temple? Too bad! I throw it in. At least three black dresses. A chocolate brown stretchy Nina Ricco. And another beaded dress that makes me think of Anastasia, the missing daughter of the Czar.

The helpful saleswoman gives me the handicapped stall. The girls wake up -- oh, interesting! They beam. It's a fashion show! First, the size 14 gold dress. It fits suspiciously well. Is it really a size 14? Hm.... I am not buying it. Forget it. Margaret starts to scream. I know Margaret! I don't like it either! Let's see... Little black dress, number one. It's cute. It's a size 10. I can't zip it. Do I have bad posture? Stand up straighter. No, that's not it. Josephine starts to scream. Pacifier here, pacifier there. Black dress number two. Ack. What's it doing to my fountains of milk? Something not good. Babies begin fretting. This is not much fun, is it? Saleswoman returns and asks, "Can I take anything from you? Maybe one of those babies?" Hahaha. I throw out the first black dress and say, "I like this one. Do you have it in a bigger size?" She returns a minute later with a size 14. Oh, she is a funny one, isn't she? Let's try one of these halter dresses instead. I am gratified to see that the size 10 fits very well. I coo to Margaret and Josephine. They are not fooled. They insist on bottles of milk and we take a much-needed break.

By the time they're done, I see the halter top isn't working. It's dropped a rather inappropriate inch or two and I fear the wrath of Abraham (and my sister). But the Nina Ricco looks pretty good, maybe a little tight. The Anastasia dress is weird. Margaret HATES it. And I say, come on, Margaret, it's not that bad!! Where the hell is our lady? I need a bigger size on this Nina Ricco. We wheel out. There is one left. It is a size 14. Is this some kind of message? I am no listening! La-la-la-la! We wheel back to the dressing room. I grab a spotty B&W Maggy London on the way. Margaret and Josephine have had it! Scream, scream, scream. Just one more, I plead. We return to the dressing room. It's locked. I throw myself on the floor, shimmy under. (I'm not too big for that, am I, huh?) I let the girls in too, although I'm a little sick of their telling me how bad everything looks, and try it on. It's a size 12. It fits perfectly. We're done.

Speaking of shimmying, that reminds me of my freshman year in college. My roommate and I, and a visiting friend of hers from home, were eating French fries at Au Pied on Wisconsin Avenue very late at night, when we got the bright idea to visit Arlington Cemetery and see if the eternal flame still burned. The friend had a car so we sped across the Key Bridge, parked right by the gate, and... slipped right under it.

Ha. If only it was that easy. My roommate was a runway model. Yes, she slipped right under it. Her friend, who was training at clown school in Florida, probably could have leaped over it, but he slipped right under it too. But me... oh dear. I could blame it on that night's fries, but it probably was the 17 years of whole milk, fried eggplant and spaghetti in my tummy. I got stuck! Really stuck. Starting to sweat stuck. I began to imagine a whole night there, under the gate, waiting to be discovered by a Marine in the morning. Is this a federal crime? Good grief!! I am going to cry! But I did get out. Both of my companions had to pull (too hard!) and I got a gravel burn on my back.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Crime beat

I'd been avoiding Michael Connelly's new book, Crime Beat, because I thought it would just make me miss the newsroom and feel bad about not being a real reporter anymore. But then I figured, well, even if I was a real reporter, I wouldn't be a real reporter RIGHT NOW, so why not read it? Besides, I got out just in time, people! Journalism is a sinking ship and, since I wasn't even the lead education reporter at the Herald, why should I go down with it? (Oh, I do miss it...)

Anyway, I worried for nothing -- it wasn't so great. But I did like some of the stuff in Michael Carlson's afterward, including this observation: "Too often in our world, journalists move from graduate schools into hermetically sealed newsrooms, protected by security passes and cut off from the real lives of the people about whom they are supposed to report."

So, with Connelly as my inspiration, it's time again for Pick the Real Story. Today's category is offbeat police reporting:

1) A sixth-grader is arrested for bringing a 2-inch Swiss Army pocketknife to school and recommended for expulsion under the school district's zero tolerance policies. His excuse? He had brought it to a Boy Scouts meeting the night before and forgot it was in his still in his jacket pocket. While we chat, his defense attorney gives him a Snickers bar and the little cutie gets chocolate all over his face and hands.

2) A woman calls the newsroom and says she has a huge story to tell -- with national implications! -- but will not discuss it over the phone. Hmm. Lunatic? Well, you be the judge: Inside her home, every window was darkened with tin foil, intended to stop the "rays" that the federal government was beaming into her house and, even more troubling, into her head. (Considering this was pre-Alberto, I vote for lunatic.)

3) A Fort Pierce high school student stabs her friend in the stomach over a boy. She is arrested, spends a few nights in jail, and is expelled. Not even a year later, a charter school hires her as their receptionist -- so that, in a strange twist, she starts getting paychecks from the very same school district that says she's too dangerous for gym class.

4) New Year's Eve, Riviera Beach. Best friends, one known as "Short Dog" and the other known as "Pork Chop," start fighting about God knows what, and Short Dog stabs and kills Pork Chop. When I show up at the bar, not 12 hours later, the party is still going on. A very helpful lady (read: drunk prostitute) shows me the pool table where she says Pork Chop staggered and fell and bled to death. Two men are playing 8-ball on it.

Answer to come!

Anyway, I think those are sort of funny, even though, yes, a man died in number four (or did he?? I'm not spoiling the game!) but I also, very occasionally, covered not so funny crime. Example: A triple murder on Thanksgiving Day. While I waited for the sergeant to talk, the relatives wrote good-bye notes in colored chalk on the sidewalk and a creepy TV reporter cornered one of the victim's father and said, "I know how you feel. I'm a Dad too!"

But the very worst story was this: Two brothers, around 10 and 12, I think, cut school on a clear South Florida day to pick saw-palmetto berries in the woods. They'd heard there were European pharmaceutical representatives in Vero Beach, paying like $50 a bucket for the berries to treat prostate problems. Anyway, their parents say okay, and their dad drops them off in the middle of nowhere, early in the morning. The older brother takes a shotgun, in case of snakes. Well, you can guess what happened, right?

They're jumping over ditches, one after the other, and the gun goes off. The bullet hits the younger boy in the head. He falls and dies. The older boy runs two miles back to the only road in these parts, waves down a passerby. The police are called. The report goes out on the scanner. I'm already in north county, reading the school superintendent's mail, so I'm sent over. I remember my friend Susannah Nesmith already was there -- she was a real cops reporter for the competition -- and she looked way tougher than me in her pantsuit and cigarettes. We all drove down a fire break to a clearing about 200 yards from the scene and stood around, waiting for the sheriff's deputies to do their work. It was hot. I wanted water. And then, after an hour or so, full of nothing, the father came back for his kids.

And what did he think? Sheriff's cars are everywhere. A TV truck has its satellite antenna up. His boys are nowhere to be seen. Did he know, right then, that something horrible had happened? Or did he just wonder -- what's this about... Right then, he had two sons. He got out of his white company pickup truck and a deputy rushed over. They talked. The father stared at the ground. Covered his face with his hands. Now he has one.