Tuesday, December 29, 2009

31

Today is my birthday! I'm 31, another year older and presumably another year wiser since this time last year. I've had some nice presents, but honestly, the best part is that I got to sleep in, I haven't cooked a meal or washed a dish all day, AND Stuart and I went to see a movie this afternoon in a theater, something we haven't done in so long I don't even remember the last time. And now I'm going to go have a beer. It's been a good day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

letter

I may have a husband, a house, two kids, and an 11:00 bedtime. I may listen to NPR and have hobbies that are very stereotypically domestic and feminine (knitting, sewing, baking - the trifecta!). I may allegedly be a grown-up. But here I am, nearly 31 years old, and I have yet to write a Christmas letter or send out a single bona fide Christmas card. I like getting other people's cards, mind you, and seeing the pictures of their adorable children and reading about their lives, especially those friends who live far away and are rarely in touch. But I just can't bring myself to do it, and I don't know if I ever will.

I do, however, blog! So anyone who wants to see our pictures and keep up with our comings and goings can read it. That counts for something, right?

Anyway, the end of the year makes many of us reflect on events of the past 12 months, and since my birthday is the 29th and I'll officially be another year older, it's always a double whammy for me. New Year, new age, new goals. Rather than a Christmas letter, I'm doing this post on the eve of the Solstice. I hope it's not too boring.

The past year for me as an individual has been stunningly uneventful. I made absolutely no moves toward furthering a professional career of any kind. None. I had thought I might take accounting and try to acquire new skills, but I didn't. I didn't even play many gigs, just a few low-stress auditions (low-stress for me, not the kids auditioning) and a couple choir concerts. Some days I am okay with this, and some days I am not.

As far as parenthood goes, though, it's been a really good year. Around the end of June, Daniel finally decided to use the toilet all the time, and that had been coming for a good long while. He learned to write his name and spell a few dozen words. Sometime in the spring, perhaps a little later than average, Anya left babyhood behind and became quite the delightful toddler. She finally started to talk around Halloween, and since then I think her vocabulary has doubled every day. They both enjoy and absorb the world around them with the kind of excitement, wonder and enthusiasm that is present only in the very, very young. Whatever direction my professional life takes, I'm glad to experience this time with my children.

Stuart's big news is that he is finally finished taking Computer Science classes at the UW, which he has been doing the past 2 years on top of working full-time. Yesterday afternoon was his final final exam. We celebrated with our friend J, who works with Stu and toiled alongside him all four semesters of those classes; J spent many an evening here on pair programming projects while I cleaned up the kitchen and got the kids to bed myself so they could work. They're a little smarter for it and I'm a little tougher, so we all celebrated with fancy beer and a feast of falafel, pita, hummus, salad, roasted vegetables and cupcakes, all made from scratch. Well, not the beer. J bought the beer. And you know what? Next semester will be the first time EVER in our adult lives that neither Stuart nor I has been enrolled in an institute of higher education for some reason or other (except those few months after Daniel was born, but that doesn't really count, since I wasn't finished). Stu is glad he'll have some leisure time in the evenings to do what he likes and spend better time with the family.

It's been a year of truly distressing medical news for many of our family and friends. Two cancer diagnoses and a broken leg eventually led to recovery and healing, thankfully. But there are other things causing concern. Stuart's cousin had a very premature baby this week, and of course we all hope for the best, but she still has a long way to go. And one of my family members, an aunt, may have a rare and untreatable degenerative brain disease; supposedly we will have a definitive diagnosis by Christmas. As much frustration and anxiety I experience with day-to-day life, I am constantly trying to remind myself to be grateful for the big picture, to live in the moment more, to love the good moments, to breathe steadily through the bad ones, and every once in a while send a little something - you might call it a prayer, I might call it something else like a hope or a wish of good intention - out there for those who need it more than I.

And so, Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice to all of you! I hope you are finished with your holiday shopping and got your flu shots and finished your final exams and donated to a worthy cause or two and all those things that seem so hurried this time of year.

We are traveling to Kentucky for Christmas this year. Hopefully we can leave Wednesday night, but the weather forecast is looking dicey. I expect I'll post again before too long, but in case I don't, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

realities of winter

1. Bubbles don't last long in the cold.



2. If it's 12 degrees (F) outside and you're blowing bubbles, the droplets freeze on their way to the ground after the bubbles pop.



3. If it's 12 degrees (F) outside, you spend 10-15 minutes bundling up to go out, and come in after 5.

4. You don't get much daylight less than a week before the Solstice.



5. You allow more TV watching than you should (or normally would). Thank goodness for Curious George...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Anya!

My baby girl turns 2 tomorrow. Because I'm a lazy mom I don't have a party planned or a cake baked or the presents wrapped. (The party can wait until we're in Kentucky for Christmas, the cake might wait until the weekend and as for the presents...I'll wrap them tomorrow afternoon IF SHE NAPS).

I've been thinking a lot about when Anya was born, so I'll share some of that here. I remember December 13 two years ago. My due date was over two weeks away and I was already starting to lose my mind. I had finished my dissertation, defended it, revised it, and that Thursday, December 13, my committee finally finally signed my paperwork to turn into the graduate office so I could become Dr. Susan for good and forever. I woke up having sporadic contractions, though, and wasn't sure I was physically able to go anywhere, so I called my advisor and called the graduate office to reschedule my final appointment with the dean for the next day because I assumed that this was the same false labor I'd experienced the week before and that I would be all fine and dandy for turning in my stuff and signing this and that a mere 24 hours later. And if not, I fully intended to send Stuart in by proxy because December 14 was the deadline for graduating that semester and by God I wanted the deal sealed and done with.

Uh, not so much. The contractions went on and off all day, my doula came over in the afternoon, and by 6:00 that evening, it was clear that this was The Real Thing and that we were going to the hospital to Have The Baby. First we ordered Thai food, though, because we were all hungry and I knew I was in for a few days of hospital food. I remember eating spicy pad thai in between contractions and thinking to myself "I hope I don't regret eating this." (I didn't regret it at all.)

When Daniel was born, I was in labor for 30 hours and ended up getting a shot of narcotics, then later an epidural with lots of pitocin and who knows what else. When Anya was born, I didn't have so much as an aspirin, not a drop of painkiller. Frankly, I preferred the latter, but it's not something I care to do again. Natural birth is physical pain beyond what you think you can bear, but you do because you have to. Imagine taking the biggest crap of the century while simultaneously being split in half while a bunch of people stand around watching your privates and you might have an inkling as to what it's like. I remember screaming. I remember that the hormones made my muscles cramp and shake and it took 5 people to hold me down. I remember the enormous, consuming sense of relief when it was finally over, and that Stuart was so shell-shocked (bless his heart) that he forgot to tell me whether we had a boy or a girl and the doctor was waiting for him to tell me and I had to say "Well? What do we have here?"

I also remember that she was the most beautiful little girl I'd ever seen. She still is. (Sorry. It's her birthday and I'm her mama, so I'm allowed to say it this once.)



In all the excitement, of course, my paperwork didn't get turned in until after the New Year, so I didn't officially graduate until May. She was worth it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

winter update

After a record 19" of snowfall yesterday, which shut down our whole city, including the schools, the Uni, and even the bus system, it got really cold. Really cold. When we got up this morning the thermometer read -6 and the windchill is something like -25. Poor Daniel doesn't understand why he's not allowed to go outside and help Stuart shovel more snow off the deck. A few minutes ago, Stuart went outside to scrape ice off the car and came right back in to inform me that the ice scraper snapped in half when he tried to use it!

Honestly, yesterday was rough. The kids got up at 4:30 and except for an hour in the late morning when Anya fell asleep to catch up on her short night, no one napped all day. The snow is pretty, but way too deep to play in safely, so we spent the entire day inside staving off boredom with only moderate success. We have good friends across the street, but everyone was too tired and crabby to invite them over even for a little while.

I am determined to make today better. This morning we got up at 5:00, not 4:30. It's bitterly cold, but the streets are cleared off enough that once the temps are above zero, we'll venture out somewhere, like maybe the library. Not to be trite, but after yesterday I'm trying to improve my attitude and count my blessings. We are warm. We are safe. Thousands of people in southern Wisconsin lost power because of the blizzard and we were not among them.

And now both of my kiddies are running stark naked around the house, and only one of them is fully potty-trained, so I better wrap this up!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

blizzard

I'll say this about Wisconsin: there's no half-assing winter around here.



Last night we had a blizzard. I'm not sure how many inches of snow have fallen, but it's enough that we can't open the back door.



The entire state is in a snow emergency. Snow emergency! Garrison Keillor once did a bit about how the men of Lake Wobegon love snow emergencies because it makes them feel so manly and important. I admit there is something a little exciting and awe-inspiring about the sheer volume of snow that has fallen in the last few hours.



Schools all over the state are closed. Even the UW is closed, the first time that's happened since I moved here over nine years ago!



But Stuart will be going to work. I wish he wouldn't. I wish he would use the weather as an excuse to stay home with us today and play in the snow and help me entertain the kids (who, by the way, got up at 4:30 this morning and refused to go back to bed even after we begged with them to.) I mean, the University is closed, for goodness sake! But Stuart can walk to work, so as soon as he and Daniel have shoveled a path through the heaps and mountains of snow off the back deck and front porch, he'll trudge to work like a good employee.



I'm not sure what we'll do today. We'll stomp around in the snow some, because it's not actually that cold out there yet, though we can't be out there for too long because the snow pants I ordered for Daniel haven't arrived yet. I have bread to bake, and maybe we'll make cookies, too. I'll try and come up with some crafty projects for the kids; we may even get out the glitter glue and poster paints. And I'm sure I'll resort to letting the kids watch the Curious George DVD a little too early and for a little too long. But that's okay. It's a snow day.

ETA: Here are a few more pictures! Also, all the city buses have stopped running for the day. That's never happened since I moved here!




Monday, December 07, 2009

10 ways to remove a skunk from your lunchbag or cafeteria

My parents were here for Thanksgiving this year, which was quite lovely, and before they left - right before they left, in fact - they deposited a(nother) box of stuff from my old room at home for me to peruse and dispose of as I like. This one contained the following: a little bit of junk, a good-sized stack of flute music that I doubt I'll ever play again, a framed certificate for being a good speller in 1987 (it went downhill after that, I'm afraid), a couple recital programs from college, and a folder full of my original creative writing from elementary and middle school. Some of it I tossed, but some I just had to keep. And tonight, I'm sharing just a little bit with you.

The following was hand written on lined notebook paper. There is no date but it's cursive and legible, so it had to have been late 4th grade or 5th grade. I'm preserving all the original grammar and spelling. (Yeah, I know. Slow day here in blogland.)

********
10 Ways to Remove a Skunk from Your Lunchbag or Cafeteria
By: Susan

#1: Make sure that the lunch monitor doesn't scream when you show her. Then, call the vet. As he performs surgery on the lunchbag, tell everyone to be very quiet and exit the cafeteria.

#2: Have a trankurlizer gun ready in case the skunk wakes up. If he/she wakes up, shoot him with the gun, and when he goes to sleep, put him/her in your little brother's bed. Ask your "brother" how the skunk got into the bag.

#3: First, get a very quiet pair of scissors and cut him out of lunchbag. Then, carefully put him in a waterproof sack. Put a clothespin on your nose, and give him to the Hummane Society. Steralize your lunch, and EAT!!

#4: Tranqualize skunk to make sure he doesn't wake up. Put him outside and give him plenty of beetles so that he is not mad when he wakes up.

#5:

********

That's as far I got, evidently. What should I have added to the list? Anyone?

Friday, December 04, 2009

oh, parenthood

At some point in parenthood, you completely relinquish your dignity. I think for me, the moment was before Daniel was born, after I'd been in labor for 20+ hours, when I was naked, sweaty, panting, whimpering in anguish, begging for the epidural, and I recognized the anesthesiologist as the recently divorced father of one of my piano students. I thought it prudent not to mention that to him, and whether he knew who I was or not, he was professional enough to keep it to himself.

I've had lots of those moments over the last not-quite-four years. There was the time I was 12 weeks pregnant with Anya and I was supposed to play in a masterclass for a Very Important Pianist and Daniel fell into a big fountain of water and I had to approach the teacher, who was (is) both famous and infamous for his teaching and temperament and ask to go last so I could comfort my whimpering toddler and change our soaking wet clothes. There was the time, not so long ago, when Anya decided to stuff her mouth so full of goldfish crackers in the checkout lane of a grocery store that she gagged and spit everything out, and I had to ask the kind-yet-freaked-out cashier for a paper towel to clean her up. And there was this afternoon in the Target parking lot when the early Christmas present I bought for the kids - a basketball hoop with adjustable height - wouldn't fit in the car until I took it out of the box and shoved it piece by piece into the front seat. That was after ripping the assembly instructions off the side of the box using a pen knife and my bare hands.

Why the basketball hoop? Why the early Christmas present? Because the other reality of parenthood, at least parenthood of children under 5 who are not yet spending most of their time in public school, is TEDIUM. Daniel is doing a little bit of preschool, but most of the time he hangs out with me and Anya, and truth be told, he's getting a little bored. I guess I'm a sucky mom for not keeping him more entertained, but here's the scoop: Anya's naptime is sporratic and unpredictable, there is precious little daylight, it's cold outside and folks, there just isn't a lot to DO around here. I mean, there is, but not when you have a cranky toddler who gets up at 5 and doesn't nap until 3, which puts a huge cramp on afternoon activities that involve leaving the house. So, basketball hoop it is.

Gosh do I miss summer.

I used to think I was a smart person with a lot of potential. Now I'm just trying to make it to 4:30 in the afternoon when Curious George comes on PBS and I can start dinner without anyone hanging off my leg (literally). I can blame the long, cold Wisconsin winters and tight job market all I want, but those are just excuses. Sometimes I just don't try hard enough, I guess. Sometimes, the best I can come up with is buying big plastic toys at a big big store three weeks before Christmas because that is the only way I can get through another day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

quick getaway

I took the kids for an overnight visit with my friend Stephanie, who currently lives in a very rural town in southwest Wisconsin. It's a lovely part of the country; in fact, here's a view from the side window of their house:



We left yesterday and returned this afternoon. Driving there is no picnic - lots of little county roads in places that aren't marked very well - so we met her partway in the small town of Blanchardville when she was done with work. Blanchardville is small enough not to have any stoplights but big enough for a café and public library. We went to Rivery Valley Trading Co, a little eclectic shop full of all kinds of fun stuff, the sort of shop that can only exist in a town like this. There was an antique sewing machine, shelves of used books, handmade pottery and hand knit hats, organic groceries (including a bucketful of Jerusalem artichokes which look like clods of dirt), and yarn (oh!) made from the fleece of sheep who happily graze on an organic farm just a few miles out of Blanchardville (this one). In fact, that sheep's owner, a tiny vivacious woman named Linda, was more than happy to share all kinds of information and stories about her sheep and how they take care of them. Unfortunately, the kids were getting bored, so I missed out on a lot of that conversation while I ran to get them snacks and keep them entertained while we looked around.

Once we got to Stephanie's place, the kids were in seventh heaven. She's staying at her parents' house for the time being, and it is just the sort of house you expect a retired couple with lots of grandchildren (there are 11, I think) to live in. They are kind, generous people who love having visitors, especially young visitors, and we felt at home right away. There are cats to watch and play peekaboo with. There are plenty of books to read. Also, there is a whole attic closet full of toys. I'm not sure what was more exciting for Daniel: the toys themselves or the fact that he could go in that closet, close the door, turn on the light, and go exploring all on his own. Blocks, trucks, marbles, games, stuffed animals, and the big hit of the evening: a plastic apparatus with balls to pound through holes in the top and run on a track to a tray on the bottom. Daniel took this picture of Anya playing with it:



Before coming back to Madison today, we visited Stephanie's cousin on her farm. P raises a few different breeds of sheep plus a wide variety of poultry. I was hoping the kids would enjoy watching the animals, but by the time we got there they were getting tired and ready to go home. We visited for a little bit, took some pictures, and headed back home.












Oh, I'm sorry...did you want to see some pictures of Daniel and Anya? Here are a few:






I really am grateful that I can take the time to make these trips with Daniel and Anya. Since I don't have a paying job outside the home (I refuse to say "I'm not working"), and since they are not in school full-time yet, I have the luxury of time, and I'm trying take advantage. On bad days, I call it "staving off boredom one day at a time." On better days, I simply consider this part of their early education: seeing different parts of the country, visiting different kinds of farms, and bonding with the people who are important in my life and interested their learning and development.

Monday, November 16, 2009

halfway there

I love how Daniel runs into his preschool class every Monday with a huge smile on his face. Most of the time he doesn't even turn around to say "Good-bye" to me. When I pick him up later, he runs to me with an equally big smile and a brief report on what their project was for the morning. Today they made butter, each kid taking turns shaking a big jar of heavy cream until that magical moment when it separated. Then they made pancakes, and according to one of the teachers, Daniel ate so many she was pretty sure he wouldn't want lunch.

She was right, and it turns out I was glad because while Daniel was in his class, I had spent twenty minutes on hold with our clinic trying to schedule H1N1 vaccinations for him and Anya. There's a shortage now, as you probably know, so only the high-risk groups are getting the vaccine. Children under the age of five are among those on the priority list, so when Nurse Kathy (we luuuuurve Nurse Kathy) said they had three doses left and we could have them, I scheduled appointments for right after Daniel was done with school today. When Anya and I went to pick up Daniel, I was trying to rush him into his jacket and down to the parking lot (rushing a 3yo is NEVER EVER a good idea, by the way), and I explained that we had to go get flu shots. "I don't want a shot!" he protested meekly, but he didn't make a big issue of it, fortunately.

On the way there we passed a fairly large cemetery. "What are those things sticking up?" he asked. I answered as directly as I could: "When people die, they are buried there, and those things are called headstones, so we can remember them." This prompted many more questions that I was, frankly, not ready for. I think it's important to address these things as head-on as you can; besides, I wasn't prepared with any kind of fluffy story or explanation of headstones and cemeteries. But after about the fifth time he asked, "Why do you have to go there when you die?" I changed the subject back to shots. I know he doesn't understand; Daniel's experience with death is thus far limited to witnessing day-old roadkill and stomping on ants on the sidewalk. Still, I plan to avoid driving by the cemetery until I'm better prepared for these questions.

Anya fell asleep on the way downtown to the clinic. She didn't wake up when I unbuckled her. She didn't wake up when I pulled her out of the car. She didn't wake up while we checked in at the reception desk where everyone in front of us in line, hacking and puffy-eyed, was delicately handed a mask with pinched fingertips and directed to the walled-off area of the waiting room reserved for people with a "fever, cough, or sore throat." She didn't wake up when we took the elevator to the next floor, sat in the next waiting room, or walked back to the exam room where Nurse Kathy asked if Daniel might be able to take his vaccine via the nasal spray to save the shot for a younger child. (He couldn't. We tried to teach him how to sniff, but he just wrinkled up his nose and exhaled every time we tried to practice.) She didn't wake up when Daniel got his shot. She only woke up when I placed her on the exam table and gently pulled down her britches for her own shot, and by the time she got it, she was too groggy from her little nap to complain. I'm proud to say neither kid uttered so much as a whimper, so we went to a nearby café for a reward of cocoa for Daniel, a cookie for Anya, and a latté for me (we had an early start this morning).

We're only halfway there, of course. Kids as young as mine have to get the H1N1 vaccine in two doses, so around this time next month, I have to call the clinic again to see if they have enough doses that day to finish up. By then they should have enough seasonal flu shots for us all as well (our county ran out of the seasonal flu shot a month ago.) I hope it goes this well next time around.

Friday, November 13, 2009

i'm phoning this one in

It's Friday afternoon. Both kids are sleeping (rare) which means bedtime will be hell and a long time coming, but I don't care. The dishes are done, the bread dough is rising, the laundry is washing, the other laundry is folded, the other other laundry can wait for the weekend and by golly I intend to enjoy this peace and quiet with a cup of much-needed coffee.

It's been kind of a long, boring week and I don't have much to say about it. However, I think it's high time I shared some choice pictures from the Daniel-cam. Enjoy.








Tuesday, November 10, 2009

silly me

I am about to send a check for $1 to the Illinois Tollway system. Why? Because on the way to Kentucky, I forgot that our I-Pass is still in the other car. I breezed right through the fast lane, realizing too late that I had missed my opportunity to pay cash. The toll in Rockford, IL is one dollar. ONE DOLLAR. A buck. I worried a little at the time that I'd get a notice in the mail with a picture of me driving blithely through the tollway, with a notice of a big old fine attached. But then eleven hours later, when I finally pulled into my parents' driveway with two sleepy kids in the backseat, I'd forgotten all about it.

On the way back home last Wednesday, as we prepared to go back through the tollway, I remembered and confessed to Stuart. Yes, confessed. You see, I NEVER break traffic rules. I'm not a rule-breaker in general, (except for being a political lefty and really feminist, but that's different.) The worst I've done is accidentally park in a disabled spot on campus, which, by the way, was only temporarily for the disabled; it was usually metered, which is why I didn't realize I had done anything wrong. My argument didn't fly with the UW traffic nazis, sadly, so I was stuck with a hugely unjust fine. Bastards. I won't tell you how much that cost me, but it was a huge chunk of my piddly little graduate assistant paycheck. Huge. (I pointed that out in my plea for mercy, but they didn't buy that, either.)

So tonight we looked up on the IL tollway website what to do if you blow through the tollway like that. Well, I say "we" but it was really Stu because he's even more of a rule-follower than I am. And it turns out they forgive you for doing that a couple times, because we are human and we all make mistakes and besides, for pete's sake the sign that says KEEP RIGHT FOR CASH ONLY only shows up about 6 feet from the concrete wall that divides the I-Pass lane from the cash lane. Golly gee whiz. I owe the toll, so I'm going to pay it, but I won't get fined unless I make that same mistake twice more.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write that check.

(I didn't rebel much as a teenager. Can you tell?)

Monday, November 09, 2009

out of whack

Everything has been a little screwy the last week or so, like the weather. And sleeping. Over the weekend, it was warm enough both Saturday and Sunday to wear sandals and flip-flops. On Saturday I dug out a pair of shorts for Daniel to get ready for a trip to the park. Yesterday I hung a load of laundry on the clothesline outside, something I didn't think would happen again until another six months from now.

And the sleeping. Oh, the sleeping. While we were in Kentucky, the kids were going to bed freakishly late. One night Daniel didn't get to sleep until almost midnight (that nearly broke me). Now that we're back, we are evidently still adjusting to the two-hour time change (having moved over a time zone two days after the end of Daylight Savings.) Anya has been getting up between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning, despite my desperate pleas to just go back to sleep. Yesterday she was up at 4:30, DIDN'T HAVE A NAP, and then was in bed a little after 5:00 in the evening. It's just after 6:00 now and Daniel is in bed, having nearly fallen asleep on his dinner plate. Other nights they've had their usual bedtime of 8:00 or so. I have to admit the unpredictability is getting to me a little bit.

On a completely different subject, will someone please Joe Lieberman to get his stupid head out of his ass? He is trying to classify the Fort Hood shooting incident a terrorist attack. A TERRORIST ATTACK. A tragedy committed by an individual who was clearly mentally unwell? Yes. A terrorist attack? Hardly. Sadly, these shooting tragedies have happened in our country before. Columbine, Virginia Tech, the D.C. sniper, the factory in Goshen, IN. Why were those not terrorist attacks and this is? Because a Muslim guy did it? Maybe there's something I've missed here, but last I heard being a Muslim doesn't automatically make you a terrorist.

Sorry this post wasn't more coherent. I clearly need more sleep.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

back home

The family and I made it back to Madison intact yesterday. No one got carsick, thank the lord baby Jesus, and the kids managed to hold off on major whining until the last 45 minutes of the drive. I don't know what it is about car trips and kids: you can be on the road for 3 hours or 10 - it doesn't matter how long, really - yet they can somehow sense when you're on the home stretch and your back aches and your head is pounding and you have to pee but there is No Way You Are Stopping One More Time So Stop Asking and that is precisely when they start wriggling and complaining and asking "Are we there yet?" (Daniel) and whimpering "Home! Home! Home!" (Anya). Who can blame them, really? It was a long drive.

Anyway. It seems the large maple tree in our back yard belched off all its leaves in one go while we were gone. Daniel and I had some fun piling them up and spreading them around again this afternoon while Anya was napping:










As you can see, he quite enjoyed himself.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Ky trip, part the second

As it turns out, blogging from here is no picnic, even though my parents have high-speed internet, which has not always been the case. The main impediment to blogging from here is: DANIEL. He sleeps in the room with the computer, so I can't be in here after he's asleep. And the other problem is that every. single. time. I want to get online to check my email and read the news he's clamoring for a turn. I can take the insistent pleas for him to use the computer (he likes a couple youtube videos, but he can also write an email and work the DVD player) for about 3 minutes before I lose my patience with the whining, at which point I either let him have a turn, or put the computer to sleep so no one will use it.

It's REALLY annoying.

Not only that, but the kids, as good as they are, have been thrown completely off routine by this trip. It's worse than usual, for some reason. Every night at least one, if not both, has stayed up until 10:00 or later. It's a combination of unexpected or late naps, the fact that we should have changed our clocks back to standard time a couple weeks ago, and the fact that we moved one time zone east when we drove here. One night Daniel wasn't asleep until almost midnight, and he was a complete disaster the next day.

Despite kooky sleeping habits, though, we are having a really good time and, for the most part, decent weather. We did our trick-or-treating a day early. The downtown businesses had trick-or-treating Friday afternoon (they didn't do it on Halloween this year because banks and such wouldn't have been open on Saturday), so I dressed Daniel and Anya in their costumes...





...and took them to Main Street. Yeah, you can see it wasn't easy getting them to pose for pictures. Daniel, in case you can't tell, was a goat. He was dressed in brown from head to toe with floppy gray felt ears, a brown tail and black horns reclaimed from an ancient childhood puppet I found in the basement. Anya was a little black kitty cat. I knit her hat and tail, and she has little white mitts, too, but it was about 80 degrees on Friday (unusually warm even here), so I didn't try to put them on her. I'm afraid even the hats didn't last too long.

Daniel's favorite part of Halloween, though, was handing out the candy to trick-or-treaters last night. They came in droves, and the 100+ pieces of candy I bought for the occasion were gone within 45 minutes. He and his Oma sat outside on the porch next to a glowing jack-o-lantern with their funny hats (my mom wore a horned viking helmet strongly reminiscent of a certain Wagnerian character, and Daniel had his goat hat on), handing out candy, one each to the costumed kids that came by. I was inside making pizza, and Anya fell asleep on my dad at 6:00 (I told you the sleeping was jacked up!)

We made another trip to Evan's Orchard this afternoon, taking advantage of the sunny weather. No school buses on Sundays, you know. Oh, how I wish I could have stopped and taken some pictures along the way! Kentucky countryside, when not spattered with litter, is just beautiful, and it doesn't get much better than the drive out to that orchard. But there's no shoulder on that little road, and the kids wouldn't have had the patience for picture-taking anyway, so you'll just have to believe me that black fences and rolling green hillsides and black tobacco barns and those old, old stone walls from before Emancipation create scenery that will take your breath away.

The other major event of the weekend is my mom's birthday today. Wish her a good one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ky trip, part the first

We are in Kentucky, the kids and I. We did the whole trip in one day, much to all of our surprise. Daniel was so excited to see Oma and Opa he kept saying, "Mom, I'm not tired of being in the car yet. Let's drive all the way to Kentucky today!" and I kept saying "We'll see how we feel after dinner." As it turned out, everyone was doing just dandy, so after dinner we kept going and going...and here we are.

The kids behaved spectacularly the whole drive, so their reward today was a trip to a local orchard with a huge playground. Daniel and Anya managed (barely) to avoid being trampled by the throngs of school kids there on field trips (I counted five buses when we drove in) and had a really good time.

Here is some photographic evidence from the morning, largely for Stuart's benefit, as he is still in Madison nursing a(nother) cold and preparing for a midterm:







(We came home with apples, cider, pumpkins for carving, cider doughnuts and FRIED APPLE PIE which is so Southern and so friggin' tasty...Jessi, you were right!)