free hit counter Snacks, please!: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Assorted Photos

Josephine loves the vacuum! When I turn it on (every single stinkin' day!), she hurtles her body across the rug and then lovingly lays her cheek against its teal green body. Oh, vacuum... You take away the stale Cheerios and hum sweet lullabies, and you don't scratch me like that other animal. Someday, when I get big, I will drag you through the streets like that girl in the Irish movie. BFF!!! I promise! (I tried to get a picture of her with her cheek pressed against the side. But every time I got close, she'd pop her head up and grin, like, "Look! Mommy, look! It's my vacuum!")

Oh, Margaret.
I don't know why she is yelling, but let me tell you this: She means it! Josephine and/or Lucy might screech or weep or sadly sob about the many injustices of life. (For example, sometimes we are deadly mean and wash Lucy's hair.) But Margaret yells. Let me out! I want that! I am the queen! And you will love me! And fear me! NOW!

Look closely. Now compare. Margaret needs to do a little work on her self-presentation (what the hell, she's only a baby...), but I think she can eventually run for office too.

And finally, because that's a bad note to end on...
Here's the little bunny! She likes jewelry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


What the Big Baby ate for dinner tonight:
A great deal of ham dipped in melting strawberry ice cream (you may assume that this dish involved Chef Lucylu);
Two baby carrots;
At least a half-cup of refried beans (not including the ones thrown on the couch five feet away, smooshed into her hair, smeared across my black pants, and stuffed up her sleeves);
One blue magic marker.

What the Bunny ate for dinner tonight:
Three teeny-tiny bites of ham;
Five bites of broccoli;
A whole bunch of tomatoes.

What Lu the Butcher ate:
Fried fish with ranch dressing;
One swirly cheese stick;
A few tomatoes.

Hidden treasure!

I knew a couple in West Palm Beach that found thousands of dollars hidden in the attic of their house. It is possible! It does happen! Especially if you buy an old-lady house, like David and I got last year.

So I've been hopeful that we might find treasure. And...well, so far we've found 400 bricks buried in the backyard, as well as a St. Francis statue, a half-dozen concrete squirrels, an assortment of flammable liquids, and countless hand shovels. (But just the blades, the handles have long rotted away.) Hidden in the attic, David found a stack of bodice-ripping romance novels from the 1950s.

We know they were gardeners. (A wealthy person's habit? Hm.) We know they liked to keep their romance on a shelf. Based on incoming mail, we also know they contributed cash to public radio and Catholic causes. The Catholic mail! Jesus, Joseph and Mary! Every day we get a personal missive from one dead saint or another. (A miracle, right?)

So, it was quite a surprise when we found the naked people books in the basement. (David was tracking some ancient electrical wiring above a heating duct and...) They purport to be "clinical studies" written by a 1970s psychologist (the well-respected, fully credentialed Dr. Leatherman), replete with black-and-white photos that are all captioned like this, "Figure 7.1 -- The subjects begin to..."

Sigh. Where's the money???

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm not sure I can keep up.

Easter was fun. Lots of milk chocolate, ricotta pie, babies and bagels. (Not enough lox. Oops.) The mini-egg frittatas were a good idea. (Mine!) We've got photos, but they're still in David's camera...

(Speaking of Easter, I stopped at Safeway on Saturday to pick up a spiral-cut ham, 36 eggs, and dye kit. The cashier says to me, "Happy holiday!" Huh? I can kind of understand the "Happy holidays" thing around Christmas because there are, in fact, other holidays: Hanukkah, Festivus, etc. But there was nothing but the resurrection of Christ last weekend! And I had a ham in my cart!)

Anyway, yesterday morning before work -- the crazy hour -- I found Margaret perched on the coffee table, eating her way through a foil-wrapped bunny. Oh, Margaret! Your poop is going to have pink and gold foil in it! She was delighted, of course. "It looked like a toy. But it smelled like heaven and I just took a bite... and found chocolate!!" So I was trying to pick up the tiniest bits of chewed foil -- I can't even be bothered with the shards of chocolate -- when I heard the kitchen cabinet close. Hm.

Into the kitchen, and I find Josephine eating cat treats out of a plastic canister. Josephine! How did you open that? That's not for babies. I steal it out of her hands. Outrage! She scrunches up her tiny nose, squeezes her eyebrows into an angry devil point, and opens her mouth -- oh, it's Lucy!

"I don't waaant to go to school today!"

So, that's Crazy Hour 1.

Brace yourself for Crazy Hour 2. Lucy and I get home around 5. David gets home after 6. In the interim... I'm making dinner for the kiddos -- chicken in a pan, broccoli and French fries. Busy, busy, busy, throw everything on/into stove, and then go play. Oh, Margaret needs a new diaper. Wait a second, Margaret! You can't run off with a naked tushie! Oh, all right, fine, I need to turn the chicken. I'll be back! Hm, Margaret, you look very thoughtful...

Josephine, please don't crawl in Margaret's pee!

Lulu! What are you doing?! Get out of Margaret's pee!

Okay, girlies, I have to drain the broccoli. Be good. Oh, hi Margaret! What's on your face, big girl? Is that jelly? It's all over your stomach! And your big ol' leg... Margaret! You're covered in... BLOOD!! Quick, into the sink, what happened to you!? Josephine!! Put down that can! Lulu -- can you take that can away from Josephinie? I think Margaret cut herself on that can. WHO LEFT THAT CAN THERE??!

Yes, Margaret is fine. She cut her little finger and it was so small that I can't find it anymore.

But me?!

I think I need the rest cure. Does anybody know what that is? I just looked it up on Wikipedia. Developed in the 19th century -- the pinnacle of medical thinking, I'm sure -- it calls for four weeks of bed rest, no contact with family members (!), regular massages, and a diet of high-fat dairy products.

Ha. The closest I will come is a glass of milk.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Odds and Ends

I think Margaret said Daddy on Sunday night. Clear as a bell! But, since then, she hasn't made any sense at all! Just now, she was standing in her crib, furiously shaking the bars, yelling, "Hi-ja! Ja! Hiee! Ga-nanana, AaaaAA!" Oh Margaret. I have no idea what you're talking about, but it's time for bed!

Poor Margaret. When I picked her up, she threw up on me. (Poor me!)

She's also got the hang of waving good-bye. And she does this funny thing where she tips her head to the side -- waits for you to do the same -- and then leads you to the other side, and back and again.

Josephine says she can walk too! One step, twoooo steps, and then... she topples forward, with an excited shout, pretty darn confident that someone is going to catch her. (Someone does.) She didn't like tonight's refried beans nearly as much as Margaret, but she did like her melon, which came to her all the way from the fields of Chile. (Sorry Kingsolver...) Lately she's been playing a little game where she climbs onto my lap -- hello Josephine the Goat! -- and then tilts her head back, exposing her skinny little neck. Oh, what a target! I can not resist! Kiss-kiss! Yum yum! Giggle, giggle, shrieeek!

The two of them are so busy these days! Walking, talking, making dinner. Oh wait. No, that's me. I make dinner. Every night.

This morning Lucy said to David, "You don't know stuff. You're a Daddy." Hysterical! But not especially... nice. Where did she get this idea??

I've sold my breast pump. This doesn't necessarily mean there won't be any more babies in the house, but it certainly means I will not be using this breast pump. Wheeeeze, wheeze, buy-bye! ("Whaaa?!" you exclaim. "More babies?! You don't have enough already??" Good grief. Calm down already. Probably three is enough. Probably.... ;)

We're up to four miles! Woo-hoo! And I have Bon Jovi to thank for it all. We'll never say good bye. Next week, Pamela and I will go back down to three and then we've got the Scope It Out! 5K a week after Easter. I'm hoping that somebody will reward us with challah French toast and crispy bacon at the local diner afterward... hint! hint!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

From the rats

To: Fellow residents of Rat Hill
From: The Chief Rat (aka Plaguerist)
Re: The People

Bad news. They've found our burrows. Some of you may have heard the Man stomping across our yards Sunday, battering our doors with a stick. A stick! He could have poked an eye out! Certainly you heard the Woman shrieking. What a big mammal!

Let's get one thing clear: This is our property. We have no interest or inclination in returning it to human habitat. But if they're serious (and the Woman is our chief enemy, I believe), we must consider appropriate strategies to stop the incursion.

1) My cousin T-Bone reports that the Woman runs across his front yard every morning at 06:10 hours. Is the best defense a good offense? T requests permission to bite her ankle. (Pros: Hahaha! I can hear the screaming now! Cons: The screaming! We've got 262 rat babies in the burrows and they need their sleep.)

2) My second cousin (once removed) Rat Fink wants to kick his long-standing house guest to the curb. Comrade Osama, he says, takes up too much room in the burrows and refuses to share his grain. (Pros: Best distraction ever! Who worries about rats when you've got an international terrorist in your yard? Cons: Comrade Osama says he'll take us to Rat Paradise. No fleas and free peanut-butter toast!)

3) My uncle Ratticus Finch suggests you never really know a Person's point of view until you walk around in his skin. I believe that means we infiltrate the house, eat the Oreos, and swim laps in the toilet. (Pros: You heard me say Oreos, right? Cons: The Fat Cat lives there. Would she attempt to eat us?)

These represent the best thinking of the Department of Defense, but we're open to hearing new suggestions. For example, should we arrange for the delivery of Ratatouille? (Pros: Perhaps they would learn to like us! Cons: None of us actually cooks.) Or should we underline passages in Harry Potter about our magical cousin Scabbers?

Take heart, comrades. Although we certainly face trying times ahead, I am confident we will win. The People have dull teeth, no tails (!) and absolutely no ability to chew concrete. We are superior animals in every way.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

For St. Patrick's Day, a little story about my grandmother:

My grandmother liked America. She wasn't the kind of Irish who took the boat, then joined the local Hibernian club, tearfully sung Kevin Barry on Saturday nights, and sent money to Noraid.

She was more the kind of Irish who whispered Hail Mary in bed every night, picked fresh mint for her tea (until the neighbor's German Shepard peed on the bed and then my father had to rip it all out), and kept a Kennedy Family coffee table book on display. ("If he did what they say he did with those women, well... who could blame him? They were throwing themselves at him!")

And now that I've seen her father's farm, I can understand why. She traded stone floors for sheet linoleum, and she wasn't looking back -- because what was the point of that? Grammie wasn't a romantic. And she wasn't much for moaning and mooning around, thinking about what might have mean, could have been, should be? This what she'd say, "God is good."

Go play outside.

Anyway, I think she mellowed a little as she got older. It started to be cool to be Irish. Plus my grandfather was dead, so she didn't have to listen to him carrying on... And I came back from Ireland with news of the Cotters, and Crawfords, and Murrays, and Tuoys, and her little blond nephew Francis, she stood for him at his baptism just days before leaving, and now he's an old bachelor who chews raw garlic for his health, the last on the family farm, living alone and talking to his cows, and he's finally got a phone and a television! And you know what? They don't even save the hay anymore. They buy silage.

In her old age, I think she finally liked Ireland again. From a distance, of course. Or maybe she just appreciated her grandchildren's interest in it -- because she was all about the grandkids.

Inside her Cape Cod-style house on Brunswick Street in Hartford, sandwiched between two sets of Portuguese cousins, waiting for my father's lunch visit (every day for 30-plus years) she sat on a pink La-Z-Boy, with a Connemara blanket across her knees and Oprah on the television. Above her head, there were nearly a dozen 8 by 10, silver-framed portraits of her grandchildren.

She liked to sit there, sipping ginger ale and holding court like Rose Kennedy. ("Well, I think Bert's not a bad man, but he likes his drink. How will he ever find a wife if he's drunk in the bar every night of the week?" or "I hear your cousin Brian and that girl of his broke up. Well, good for him!")

(When my cousin Kerry and her husband Michael visited Grammie for the second year in a row, perching on the couch to tell her that they were expecting their second (and third) babies in as many years, she leaned back in the La-Z-Boy and exclaimed, "Again!?" And Michael said, "Well, Grammie, you had four children, didn't you?" And she said, "Not in one night, I didn't!")

So, I had high hopes when my hipster cousin Gerry came from Dublin. I thought she'd enjoy meeting the younger generation. (Gerry was her sister's grandson.) I called all of the cousins to meet on Brunswick Street. First we'd have Chips Ahoy and chit-chat, then we'd move on to my father's bar. I should have thought better.

"Are those earrings?" she asked.

"Yes, Auntie," he answered obediently, his ponytail bobbing.

"Well..." she began.

"Now Grammie," I interrupted. "A lot of the boys in Ireland have earrings these days. And just look at Brian's picture!" I said, pointing to the Wall of Fame. "Your own grandson has an earring in his high school graduation picture."

"He does not," she said flatly.

"Well, it's the style..." I soothed.

"Well! When I was in Ireland, the only things that had rings in their ears were the bonnets! The pigs! If this is the style now, then the only thing I have to say is, Ireland has gone straight to H-E-L-L!"

Classic Gram.

P.S., I've got a little note here from God. It says:

Dear Sinners,
My friend Patrick has been bugging me for 40-plus years to pass on this message. (Between Ike Turner, Kim Jong-il and those Cabbage Patch demons, I've had other priorities, Pat!) Anyway, he says (and I'm trying to get it right...), "Unless you heathens stop messing with my lager, start tipping your barkeep, and learn the words to the songs, I'll release the snakes! Dia duit!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

No, no. They're babies!!

Somebody came to my blog because they were looking for "monkeys dressed like leprechauns"!

Pop, pop, fizz, fizz

Josephine's heart is fine! The hole in the heart wall is gone. Poof! Voila! Away with that white rabbit! And the aortal arch, whatever it was, has grown up and put away its tricks. Amazing! I'm not quite sure how it all happened -- my understanding of her cardiac history, as complex as it has been, is somewhat limited by my interventions to make her lie still, lift up her chin just a little bit more, kiss-kiss the cardiologist's plush Barney, Josephinie! No no, baby, just a few more minutes...Hey Lulu, it's okay -- that's a picture of Weenie's heart! Oh, what?

It's fine??


If anybody ever needs a pediatric cardiologist in the DC area, call Dr. Hougen. And I'm not just saying it because he's got great toys in his office -- from the multi-culti wooden dollhouse to the super-duper camera that takes pictures of baby's hearts. He's so sweet with the girlies, and he's awfully nice to the parents too. He's got a big rubber heart model that reminds me of Biology B and he takes it down to show us all of the pistons and carburetors. Plus, he copies us on all of his reports, which is not as normal procedure as you might think.

We also went to see their developmental specialist -- the "play doctor," Lucy calls her. We don't often get to sit back and observe the babies doing their baby things, so I like these visits. And they always give us new appreciation for Josephine's more quiet talents.

While Margaret blabs and bombs, Josephine has really great persistence skills. She kept at this little peg and hole toy in the doctor's office until she finally, with great precision, fit the peg in its hole. (Margaret tried. Harrumphed loudly. Then put the peg in her mouth and made off with it.)

The doctor also gave them this test -- where she took a cool toy and then put it behind a sheet of glass. The frustration test! After a few, uh, what's going on here??, they figured it out. What smart babies! Except for their verbal ability, which is a little lacking, they're pretty much good for their age. So that's nice too.

In the meantime... Josephine says she likes ketchup.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The taking!!

I don't know if I can stand this for... how many more years??

First Lucy decides to play with her little frogs. ("I'm an ANGRY frog and I'm going to eat you! Argh, yum, um!" "I'm a happy frog and I want to be your friend!") Then Margaret decides she wants a frog too. "Noooo! Margaret! I had them first!!!"



"Lucy! You have TWO frogs! Give Margaret a frog!"

"But I had them firrrrst," she whines. Then, assertively, "I told her! I had them first!"

"But she doesn't understand you! She's a baby!"

No longer interested, Margaret rolls on and steals Josephine's favorite pink plastic worm out of her hands. Josephine collapses on the floor, cheek pressed against the carpet, and criiiiiiies. "Ohhh, Margaret," I sigh. Pick up Josephine. Try to find the worm. Give up. "You know what? It's bath time," I announce.

And that makes Lucy cry.

It does seem terribly unfair. Margaret doesn't have to follow any of the rules about sharing because she "doesn't understand them." (Is she a secret White House operative?) Meanwhile, we force Lucy to share with these little people who knock down her towers, eat her horses, and spend a whole lot of time plotting to remove her ponytails. Is this good for her? Is she learning to be a benevolent big sister? Or is she recording all of these insults in an internal diary that will someday be revealed when Margaret runs for office.

The other day, Margaret stole a spoon from Josephine and Josephine smacked her in the face. "Oh no! No, no, no, no!" Lucy said. "We do NOT hit!" (Secretly, I think -- go Josephine! Stand up for yourself, little baby! But, oh yeah, no hitting...)

Mostly, they do get along. Lucy says, "I am your big sister! Listen to me!" and they do! They stand there, mouth agape, their little minds turning, "What is she doing? What is she saying? If I could just get that ponytail...I could be just like her!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Aaaiee! She walks!

Margaret walks!

Not too far yet, just a couple of teetering, Frankenstein steps, but she can definitely do it. The problem is, she's so excited!!! that she steps, steps, stepsteptssteps!!! and then collapses on her knees in a fit of giggles.

I'm going to try to get video, but you know I've just barely figured out digital pictures.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Be Green!

Look! Milk in glass bottles, delivered to our door by a friendly farmer who feeds wildflowers to his cows and votes Democrat. How lovely!

Not only does it make me feel like a good resident of our fragile planet, but it also makes me lose myself in Irish reverie, thinking about the days when my roomies and I got milk delivered to our second-floor flat in Galway. We'd dump it all in hot tea, dip chocolate-covered Hobnobs, and gossip about who was shifting who. (Me: The alcoholic lead singer of a so-so campus rock band. My roommate: A nice boy with 200 head of sheep.)

Anyhoo, like good minions of Kingsolver, we've signed up with a dairy not too far away, and we've got a standing order for whole milk, salted butter and cage-free eggs. I told David it's like drinking melted ice cream. Yum, yum, yummy. The non-homogenized variety comes with cream on the top that clings to the sides of the bottle like an empty pint of Guinness.

Yesterday Lucy and I took our "farm milk" and made a bunch of little chocolate puddings. She happily cracked eggs, dumped milk, and hid chocolate chips in her upper lip -- "What's this?! You've got a lump!" I said, poking her chipmunk lips. She'd giggle and then give me a big ol' chocolate-smeary smile.


Oddly -- and irritatingly -- the original hippie member of our household has been remarkably uninterested in our nascent efforts to go green. Of my "small gestures," he says, "it's not enough to save the world." I'm starting to wonder if he just isn't mad that the very local Health Department, of which I am the director, refuses to reopen the Rat Restaurant in his compost heap.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Duck, duck, duck.... GOOSE!

"Look!" Lucy said, surveying her dinner with delight.

"I have goose food!"

Giggling, I said, "Noooo! That's couscous!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Escape from Witch Mountain!

The other night, I was making dinner in the kitchen -- baked fish for everybody over 2. (I had no idea that babies weren't supposed to eat fish until I made that uh-oh face in the pediatrician's office last week... She said, "You already fed them fish??" Glumly, I said yes, I feed them whatever they'll eat...) Anyway, the babies were playing in the family room, a few feet away.

First I heard the back door quietly close.

And then I heard Margaret SCREEEEAM!

So I quick ran like a bunny into the room, thinking that she must have jostled the door open a tad and smushed her little fingers in the crack, but no -- she was just sitting there. Alone!! Somehow, Josephine had actually opened the door and crawled outside to the deck, where she was sitting, also alone, surveying our messy backyard.

Aigh! She's a sneaky one, that little baby!

Conclusion: I told my father this story last night and he said, "And Margaret sounded the alarm! Wow! She knew it wasn't a good thing that Josephine had done." Ha. I don't think so. I think she was outraged that Josephine had managed to escape, while she -- the big baby! -- was stuck on the wrong side of the door!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Running on

Thanks for all the music suggestions. Keep 'em coming... Aside from the fact that the left "bud" keeps falling out -- my ear isn't appropriately shaped like a lily?? -- the iPod has worked really well. Not so much of that, "Is it a mile yet? It must be a mile. What if it's not a mile yet?? This sucks... It must be a mile now."

For example: Oasis. "I'll start a revolution from my bed." A clear reference to John Lennon, no? They were brilliant! But self-destructive. Hm. Compare and contrast to behavior in recent staff meetings.

ZZ Top: What the hell are they saying? Very much like staff meetings!

Britney: Is she really pregnant for a third time? "Oops! I did it again," has become a remarkably prescient personal anthem. Hm. Maybe I need an anthem. Oh! Oh! Dixie Chicken is up! Heehee. That is not my personal anthem.

And, when all else falls, there's always my favorite running game: "Rat or Chipmunk?" I can keep myself going for a good quarter-mile with questions like these: "Was its tail up? Think, think! Tail up? Oh, I can't remember. But I think it was grayish. Was it? Yes! Definitely grayish. Or brownish maybe."

We're up to three miles! And we've signed up for the "Scope It Out!" 5K to benefit... colon cancer, of course. I can't wait to get the T-shirt!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tag! You're it!

Look what appeared on our front steps last week! Lucy says she doesn't know anything about it, and neither do I. None of the other houses on the street have been tagged. A blue triangle! Pink, I could understand. (David has these very hip-looking eyeglass frames...)

Does it have something to do with aliens? This, from a Welsh newspaper: "In May a 100ft high triangle was seen hovering over Pont Robert, in Powys. This was joined by a second object covered in ‘pink pulsating lights’."

In fact, the aliens are more than welcome to camp out in our backyard shed. (Watch out for the raccoon!) Or possibly the red-carpeted storage room in the cellar, if temperatures dip below 40. But how do they know that??