Monday, May 31, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Tattoo Parlor

Empathy leads you to very bad decisions, many times.

Glenn Beck
(don't worry, I am not watching him. I watched a bit on the Daily Show while I was sewing)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Potions and Notions

On hair washing day, Ada decided she wanted to be the one to pour water on her head. She put water into a bottle, but then decided she should add some liquid soap and some shampoo. This quickly moved from being a "get my head wet" project to a "make some potions" project. As she combined the soaps and other items in her assembled bottles, she narrated the following explanation:

In the old days, witches, when they were good, they made this and gave it to the wise men. And they brought it to the baby. Baby Jesus!

Do you know why you make it? Because when Jesus is a grown up he can drink it. You can make it and put it on your porch and the wise men will come and drink it.

This one is for Jesus for when he was a baby. It was called "formula" but it wasn't made of milk, it was made of horses' brains and they were mushed up. Actually, it was a certain kind of drink called "formula brains." It wasn't from brains.

(and then she said something I did not completely follow about how the drink could help you find your home.)

People used to make this kind of thing for the three wise men. See the bubbles? This will remind the three wise men, when they come by, of home. This is a famous drink.

The three wise men need it, really. They need to put it in a bottle. And they give it to the Village People.*

*She probably didn't mean it this way, but I kept picturing these Village People.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am in a rut, blog-reading-wise. I have my favorites and my daily reads, but during the past year, when things were stretched and I didn't have time for blogs that didn't either make me laugh, cry or swoon on a regular basis, I dumped a bunch of the blogs I followed. Now I want some new ones, but have not had a ton of luck so far.

Can you help? Tell me two of your favorite blogs. (More if you are inclined, but at least two.) Also, why? Are they funny, beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring? I don't care if the authors are moms or not (or women or not). I read parenting, personal, crafty, photography and political blogs. The writing should be good or the pictures better be stellar. I need some new reads. (because I have so much extra time on my hands these days!) Right. Well, in any case, can you help a sister out?

Yay for my BIRTHDAY!
On the topic of new favorites, check out this great sweater Grandma Sally made for Mira. 
She made one in blues and green for Ian.

Edited to add: as long as I am asking for help, if you have any ideas for how to use approximately 50 billion leeks and six baby heads of napa cabbage, let me know that too, will ya? (I love leeks, but in the past week we've grilled, roasted and sauteed them, and a new load of them arrived tonight. Napa cabbage is so far not really in my repertoire.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Number Games

As I was getting Ada snuggled in her bed for the night, she told me: Now the babies are two.

Me: Well, there are two of them, but they just turned one.

Ada: Yes. One and one is two!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

So, that went well

We had THREE birthday parties this past Saturday. Nine-thirty, one-thirty and three o'clock. In between I picked up a little and hung the bunting I made from various dotted scraps:

Bunting (dotty)

Friends came over. We ate, talked and then busted out the cake. Cake that Ellen made, chocolate with raspberry in the middle. It was beautiful, and surrounded by yellow roses.

Year One Cake

Ellen brought all but one of the candles. I am not sure how we ended up saving the candle from Ada's first birthday cake, but once Ada found it a couple of years ago she got very attached to it. She had it squirreled away and pulled it out when this cake arrived. She asked if we could put it on the cake. That seemed like a good idea to me.

This has been a hard year for Ada, in the way it is hard for any older sibling when a new baby or two comes along. We have had our rough moments, but for the most part she has done well. She is a great older sister to Mira and Ian. She takes good care of them. She plays with them, looks out for them and helps us do things for them. She is not always happy that our life together is not always about her, but she mostly accommodates these annoyances, at least after a fashion. Being a big sister is good for her, and she is really living up to the role.

And in any case, she knows a good excuse for cake when she sees one. 

Ian, ready for cake
When everyone gathered around the table, Ian was excited to see what was coming.

Cake Eater
Mira was by far the more enthusiastic cake eater of the pair.

Ian tasting frosting
Ian decided that cake was interesting, but maybe
not worth getting completely messy.

Mira, happy about cake
Mira had a slightly different perspective.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A year ago...

I started the day at work.

Week 36 - take 5 
I looked kind of like this

After a visit to the doctor I was sent to the hospital.

Where I went into labor.

Which made Ian's heart rate drop every time I had a contraction.

I argued with the anesthesiologist about whether I really needed that epidural and how likely it was that I would end up getting a cesarean.

you can see how that conversation went

I slept in the labor room.

I was only hours away from this:

and a quick year from this:
Ian peeking out behind Mira

Three kids in a box

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saving the best for last

The other night Chris and I took the kids over to Ellen's house so that we could go out to dinner with my parents. Before we went out we all spent some time together on the patio enjoying some prosecco and the beautiful weather.

The Muddy Mira 
There was some water on the patio.

Ian, playing
Ian didn't seem to mind. 

Mira, plotting her next move
Mira wondered if this meant she was going to get a bath.

Ada enjoyed the weather.

Fancy Sweeper
The best part.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scenes from last summer

I wrote the following last summer (with paper and pen, no doubt at some odd hour when I should have been sleeping but couldn't). We were deep in infant-land but not so deep that we could see the horizon clearly. I found these scribblings yesterday, and then this evening read this report from the wilds of life with a newborn. I wanted to share this as further evidence that things change, and that what feels so heavy at one moment can recede into hazy memory fairly quickly. It never seems so from the moment when things are hard, but nevertheless it is true. 

**     *     **     *     **

Several times Ellen has told me how well we seem to be doing. Other people have made similar comments. It has felt doable, sort of normal even, but I don't think we are doing well. Not enough alone time, not enough time as a couple, not enough sex. Not enough anything.

Chris collapses, falling into sleep moments after he gets in bed. I lay awake, my mind spinning. I wish we could talk. I wish he was awake to whisper with me about the funny thing Ada said or how scared we are about getting through the summer months with very little income.

It is rare for Chris to express his fears. He pulls inward when he's under fire. I reach out. He listens, but he doesn't reciprocate.

I am not alone. I have my sister, my parents and friends. I have you. But I want him. I want him to wake up and tell me he's scared and that we'll find a way through this.

4 of 5
Looking more okay than we felt (late June 2009)

Peeking into the Cracks

I just found the work of this fantastic artist Ana Ventura who finds cracks and peeling paint and other imperfect spaces and turns them into people and monsters other fantastic creatures.

Wow. Check it out.

She also takes lovely pictures of her children and showcases some of her other work on flickr.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dozer Day

While my parents were in town this past weekend, we went to Dozer Day with Ada and Monkey Boy. Dozer Day is exactly what it sounds like - a bunch of construction equipment is set up for kids to climb on (including giant Caterpillars with wheels as tall as me) and a whole mess of other equipment (mostly of the earth-moving type) into which kids could climb and "help" run with the aid of volunteer operators.

Holy Giant Wheel!

Of course, Monkey Boy would have been just as happy if we had just played in the dirt 20 yards from the entrance the whole time.

He could have stayed HERE all day

Lucky for the rest of us, we decided to branch out:

Fun to climb

After Ada and Ave checked out the monster Cat and other equipment, we hopped on a giant dump truck and rode up and around and down, bumping all the way. After grabbing some kettle corn, we got in line so that MB could help run a digger. Ada decided this was not for her, but yes she'd like some more of that kettle corn please. Later I found out that there was one line that allowed a parent and kid to join the operator in the machine cab. A neighbor's husband and son did that one, which would have been fun for me. I wonder if they would have let me on if Ada refused to go with me? (Next year)

Helping to Operate

MB, like every kid who sat with an operator running a digging machine, was completely stony-faced during the event. Afterward he came bounding back to us and seemed happy about the experience, but during he was completely serious.

Although she did not want to run a machine, Ada enjoyed getting inside an ambulance, sliding through giant pipes and crawling around, on and in super huge tires. Other than the kettle corn, I think this last bit was her favorite part.  

Peeking Out
Ada, hiding in a giant tire

By the time we left, the kids were wiped out. (So was I, for that matter.) As I took this last picture I started to worry that MB hadn't had a good time. There was no way to coax a smile out of him. Then I realized he wasn't upset, just so tired he could barely sit up. 

Scooped up (tired, end of day)
American Gothic, with Balloon

And yes, Ada wore her pink sparkly shoes all around Dozer Days. I was actually kind of surprised she did not insist on wearing a party dress. It would have made for some good photos!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mysterious Disappearing Chocolate

Disclosure: No one paid me to say this or gave me anything free. I just like this stuff and wanted to write about it. 

Late last year ago I read a post on Angry Chicken about a line of flavored chocolates, one of which features tortillas, lime and salt. I ran out and bought 6 bars, 3 for my sister and her husband, and 3 for my (other) brother-in-law and his gal. I wrapped up and mailed three bars in time for them to get to Karen and Anthony while they were on the east coast at the holidays.

comforte chocolate
Photo originally from the Meadow's website
you can buy this chocolate through them

In the mean time, one of the bars of chocolate I'd saved for Dylan and Melissa's stockings went AWOL. No one copped to knowing where it went. Chris hadn't taken it, nor had the nanny. Ada probably wouldn't have liked it, and if she'd taken it I would have found some evidence. (she isn't the best at hiding candy wrappers and the ones she squirrels away from Easter baskets or Christmas stockings tend to pop up around the house.) So I took the two remaining bars and gave them away at Christmas, but I was annoyed that I'd lost one of these bars.

Then I asked Karen about the chocolate I'd sent to her and Anthony. They never got them, much to my disappointment. I was a little worried that these chocolates were cursed, delectable yet uneatable!

When Karen and Anthony visited in February, we stopped by the Meadow and I bought several more bars. We enjoyed tasting them, and eating the tortilla/lime/salt one inspired Anthony to suggest that I make a fondue on this theme. (At the time I'd been planning a fondue for a neighbor-dinner.) I followed through, making a chocolate fondue into which we dipped chips, followed by a spritz of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt - it was delicious. Even better, it fit the evening's Mexican theme.

In March Karen sent me an email saying that the chocolate had arrived at her mother-in-law's house.  MARCH. Her mother-in-law ate them, which worked out well as she was working on Karen and Anthony's taxes at the time. Nothing like a little sugar-based motivation to get you hunting for tax credits.

After eating the chocolate with Karen and Anthony in February, and more recently buying and consuming a bar for myself, I think the curse may be broken. I hope so at least, because I just bought a couple of bars to send to some friends in Chicago. I hope the postal service is more on top of things this time.

(cross-posted here)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Mexican Food

People care what I think! I have a prestigious blog, sir.

Roman DeBeers
Party Down

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Still the King of No Pants

Ada, running into the room in a shirt and underwear: Mama, my legs are COLD!

Me: I'd suggest you put something on them.

Ada, genuinely perplexed: But WHAT?

Me: Um, let's see...Pants!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May Faire

May Pole

Ave with bubbles

May 8: Purple hanging plate


Monday, May 10, 2010

In which I decide I've been a hypocrital ass

I work in health policy. My paid hours are spent thinking about how to improve Oregon's and the U.S. health care system. How to improve quality, expand coverage and yes, lower costs. From that perspective, I have always thought that it made good public policy that insurance does not cover invitro fertilization. It is expensive and for many people with infertility, a last ditch effort for which cheaper and less invasive treatments can be substituted. Adding it as a covered benefit in health insurance, even if it was only used by a few members, would increase premiums for all members. I have held this view even as I went through a round of IVF in 2004 and four rounds in 2007-08. I knew that Chris and I were lucky to have family support (both financial and emotional) as we went through this process, but I did not think much about what this process is like for people who can only afford one $20,000 attempt, or who can not afford it at all.

And then I watched this, by Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed:

What IF? A Portrait of Infertility from Keiko Zoll on Vimeo.

And I cried. I cried not just because I could relate to the "What IFs" raised in this moving piece, but also because unlike many women in my situation, I never had to worry about whether we could afford to try, or when one round failed, to try again. My family is wonderful and supportive. They are also financially able to help us pay for the multiple rounds of IVF we needed to build our family. I know that not everyone is that lucky, but it wasn't until I watched this video that I really felt the fear that many women go through when facing the knowledge that they have only one very expensive but iffy shot at getting pregnant.

I am sure my mom is reading this and feeling disappointed in me (hi Mom!), but this video changed my mind about insurance funding for IVF. In many European countries, insurance coverage for IVF is paired with limits on the number of embryos that can be transferred. Our last IVF involved the transfer of three embryos and I know that a one-embryo rule could have meant that I didn't get pregnant at all. But from where I sit now, with a complete family that is more than I could have asked for, I think it would be a fair trade to have financial assistance paired with embryo-transfer limits. I got the help I needed. It pains me that money can be the difference between building a family through IVF and not being able to do that.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Infuriatingly Charming

On Tuesday morning Chris and I woke to Ian calling from his crib: "PAPA! MAMA! ADA!"

I am thrilled that Ian is starting to talk. I am also completely charmed that he was calling out to all three of us, no doubt with the hopes that SOMEONE would hear him and pick him up.

I was less excited about the fact that he was doing this at five in the morning.

After deciding to let him stay in bed for another hour, I fell asleep thinking how smart my boy is. He didn't call to Mira. No doubt he knew that she was a crib-bound as he is, and unlikely to help him.

boxed up

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

phone booth face

How great are zippers? Don’t even get Mr. Feibusch started. They are watertight for deep-sea divers, airtight for NASA. “Nothing replaces a zipper,” he said. Buttons? He made a face. “A button is unpleasant,” he said. 

Ralph Blumenthal
For Eddie Feibusch, a Life in Zippers

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Not Quite Five

I expect a lot from myself, and often expect as much from others. When I find myself getting frustrated with Ada, I have lately tried to remind myself that she is not quite five.

When I ask her to stay and keep Mira company while I put Ian in bed, she whines that she wants to come upstairs too. I start to get annoyed, but then think "she's not quite five." I tell her how much it will help me and how much I appreciate her.

When she whines "but I want you all to myself" I think, wow, that's pretty self-aware for not quite five. I tell her that we all need attention, and that the quickest way to get time with just me is to let me get the babies to bed. Slow that process down with whining and demands and "I need it NOW" and it will just be longer before you get that special time with mom. This is a lot for not quite five. She just knows what she wants, but can not always do the things that will make that happen.

When she falls asleep on the couch 90 minutes before her usual bedtime, I think about how much emotion and energy and desire is wrapped up in being not quite five. I carry her up to bed, foregoing the face-washing, books and tooth-brushing in favor of a blanket laid over her sleepy frame, a quick kiss and even quicker exit.

Even as she becomes more self-sufficient and articulate, I realize how much love and careful attention she still needs. She is my big girl, but she's still not quite five.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Everything but Pink Eye

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this was just the perfect month for Pink.

Picnik collage

I could have taken a picture of blooms every day this month. That I didn't have to was incredible. My off the top of my head list of pink things I saw but didn't get a chance to shoot this month includes peonies, rhododendrons, the Vintage Pink building and fabrics at Cool Cottons (where the bolts are organized by color). There is just so much pink out there.

The other day Chris told me that Dorothea Lange said: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." This is so right on. Each of the past four months, my eyes have been trained to find color coded subjects, and this exercise has helped me to see things that might normally escape my notice. I'm not saying that my photographs are making the mundane beautiful (sometimes my efforts seem to have the opposite effect) but by looking at the world in a new way, I am seeing more than I usually do. It is really inspiring.

Speaking of inspiration, pink is the first color month that has inspired people to send me their own Pink pictures. Karen sent me this stunner from just north of The Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio:
Karen's pink picture
Photo by Karen

My friends Mike and Ann sent me photos of themselves with a couple of the pink-blooming trees in their Chicagoland area yard. In a separate email, Ann told me that it had been 70 degrees there. I am pretty sure that never happened in April when I lived in Chicago.  

mike and magnolia
Mike and a blooming magnolia (photo by Ann)

Ann & Crabapple Tree
Ann and a blooming crabapple (photo by Mike)

Mike also sent me some jealousy-inducing photos of the work he's done on his back yard. He has some really impressive vegetable beds. Then again, I should not be surprised, since he is a master gardener who runs his own garden design business. If you live in the Chicago area and are looking for a good landscape garden designer, let me know.

April is the first month in which the end of the month did not find me ready to leave a color behind. I am finding it hard to move on from pink, but spring is a pretty colorful time around here, so focusing on purple in May should be great.