October 30, 2008

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

On a lighter note, I hope all of my readers know where their apostrophes and commas go. Test yourself here.


Some of you (I'm pretending that more than three people are still visiting this poor neglected blog) may remember that my second daughter had a large hemangioma right in the middle of her forehead. At first it looked like a caste mark, then like she'd bumped her head and then like nothing but a big red bump. Then it started fading, she grew bangs and now other than a slight discoloration and wrinkled skin, I hardly think about it. The two year old boy didn't have any birthmarks, which wasn't too surprising because these things are more common in girls.

Now I have another baby girl. A week or two after she was born, I noticed a teeny red mark on her neck. Something about it made me suspect that it wasn't going to get huge like her big sister's mark and so I didn't do more than point it out to the pediatrician and move on. That would have been that, except that on Tuesday afternoon when I was giving the baby a bath, I noticed a rather large lump on her back at the base of her neck. Not in the spot where the tiny red mark was, but a new place with another tiny red spot on top of the big lump.

Although I was pretty sure that this too was some sort of hemangioma, it is certainly different from the other kinds I've dealt with. This one seems to be more rapidly growing and deeper under the skin than my older child's. So we went to the doctor. The doctor agrees with my basic diagnosis that it is benign and probably some sort of hemangioma. It still isn't a great thing to have growing on your little girl's back.

Tomorrow morning we'll be going to the hospital for an ultrasound to try to get more information about what's going on and how the lump is growing. Personally, I wish it would all just go away.

October 23, 2008

Gruesome Game


"Hey kids! Remember those two princes that Richard III had murdered? Remember the staircase in the White Tower where their bodies were found? Let's play a game about it!"

That's not a conversation we've had recently in our house, although my kids probably do remember the two princes and the staircase where their bodies were found centuries after the fact. However, I was flipping through the Story of the World Activity Book and noticed that one of their activities for the chapter on "The War for the English Throne" is a "Princes in the Tower Game."

I know from experience that coming up with exciting ways to fix the stories of history in kids' minds can be a challenge, but I want no part of playing this grisly little game. Two young boys were murdered. That's hardly the stuff of children's play and I'm a bit disgusted.

October 20, 2008


The word for last week was definitely overscheduled. A wonderful friend of mine from college arrived last Monday to spend the week with us. We haven't seen her since last fall, so it was wonderful to have her here, but it was also good that she's perfectly capable of entertaining herself most of the time, because other than our Wednesday all day trip with my five children to our alma mater two hours away from here, I wasn't a great hostess.

Every day seemed to have overlapping and conflicting requirements and schedules. For instance, on Thursday the oldest had Latin, two of the others had check-ups in another part of town. My husband was in court and I had to get a friend to bring the oldest home while I raced back from the pediatrician's office. On Friday, I'd agreed to watch a friend's five children while she took classes to get started on her doula certification. Since she helped me with my last labor and birth it was the least I could do. Except that I forgot I was supposed to take my six year old to the other side of town for a meeting with her Little Flowers group. My husband had to stay home for the morning so both could be accomplished.

Saturday found me up bright and early driving with the baby over to the fabulous Blissdom conference sponsored by Epson and filled with lots of wonderful and interesting bloggers. I got to meet some local bloggers like those behind Blonde Mom Blog, Front Porch Legacy, Mrs. 007, and Sarcastic Mom. I got to renew my acquaintance with Michelle, Karla, Alli, Elizabeth and a few others and of course met lovely bloggers who had come in from far away like Tsh. I'd show you pictures, but my camera decided to die.

Of course, going off to something like that couldn't be simple. I couldn't stay for the whole thing. My friend was still in town and I wanted to actually see her some before she left. Plus there was a lecture at 1 o'clock about my confirmation saint. So promptly at noon, I bowed out of Blissdom not having gotten to hang out nearly as much as I might have liked, raced for the car, wolfed down some lunch at home, picked up my friend and sped off to the Cathedral to hear about St. Gianna. I suppose I could have gone back to Blissdom, but I'd lost momentum and was exhausted. I just wanted to sit down and let some one else take care of the baby for a while since I'd been carrying her in the sling all day long.

Sunday was mostly a day of rest, but even with a nap, I was still tuckered out and having trouble getting out of bed this morning. My plan for this week is to keep it simple. Stay home, educate the children, do laundry and try to go to bed early. Let's see how it goes.

October 12, 2008

Book Review Time

I've been mulling over the last book I read for most of the last week. The funny parts have returned over and over and made me laugh almost as hard the second or third time around as when I first read them. The poignant and thought-provoking parts also wander in and out of the recesses of my brain and I ponder what they all meant. For both poignancy and humor I loved the book, but can I truly recommend a book to anyone else that contains frequent use of the f-word (among others) and where the main character has, um, shall we say a vivid imagination about his wife?

Oh well. I'm recommending it anyway, because despite those parts, I think the book is definitely a worthwhile one. I have not giggled, chuckled and laughed so hard reading anything quite a while. Nor have I read a book that made me think about life and the living of it in quite the way this one does.

I suppose you want to know the title? It's Straight Man by Richard Russo. The story of a middle aged English professor coming to terms with middle age, his parents, and the fact that he can't pee.

I haven't lived in academia for some time now, but I'm the daughter of a professor and I have two graduate degrees, so I have some inkling of the dysfunctional side of academic departments. Russo's imagined English department is more dysfunctional than any I've ever seen in real life, but he catches the essence of academia and raises it to new levels of craziness as the protagonist Hank Devereaux reluctantly leads the department through a job search for which position there is no funding, a general lack of budget for the coming year, rumors of a mass layoff threatening even those with tenure, and, of course, dealing mediocre and downright crummy students (and faculty).

While the English department carries on its usual unhappy and back-biting way, his wife is out of town, his daughter's life is falling apart and his long gone, philandering father is returning to Hank's mother. Through it all, Hank finds himself unable to pee and often yearns more for that than great deeds or marvelous events. He is a man of middle age, learning that he is what he is -- no more and no less.

Although I am not middle age yet, I have, of late, been struck by the need to be what I am -- to be content where I am and living the life I have. Which is not to say that one cannot strive to be the best at what one is, but I sometimes need to realize that if we were the ones to do great deeds we would have done them -- as Hank considers that if he had been meant to write more than one novel, he would have written it. This is what has been sifting through my mind, although with all the laugh lines. Sometimes the smallest of physical things are what we need and long for most. The great deeds that in our youth we imagined within our grasp were never there, but the life we are leading as we age, the path we wandered down in living is a good one and a valuable one even without the splendid palaces and golden crowns.

I don't know. Either I'm making too much of it, or there is probably more there that I'm missing, but I still say in spite of the, ahem, naughty bits, it's a lot more than those and worth the read -- even if just for the laughs.

October 09, 2008

The Old Grey Mare, She Ain't What She Used to Be.

The older kids were blowing up some balloons for an experiment we are doing, when the six year old said, "Hey, that looks like a nur-nur!" (Nur-nur being the word in our family for the mammary glands themselves as well as the milk and act of feeding a baby.) At first as the only family member with these particular appendages I might have been almost flattered at the thought of full balloon shaped bosoms, then I looked up and noticed my oldest was blowing up one of those long, skinny balloons. Sigh.

Is Catching Up with Old Friends a Good Thing?

A while back I signed up for a Facebook account. I can't remember why exactly -- curiosity or boredom probably. I really didn't understand the point of it all, but signed up for an account. Before I'd filled out any details at all, my friend Blair had found me. I still didn't really get it. I have her e-mail address and she has mine. If we want to keep in touch we already can.

Slowly, I started adding friends, although I went through a mini-crisis trying to decide what the meaning of "friend" is. If I actually stuck to real friends -- people I care a lot about and really want to keep in touch with on a regular basis -- I would probably have about five Facebook friends. I soon discovered that friend on Facebook really often means you have a fleeting memory of passing some one in the halls of high school or college and saying "Hi!" once in a while. I'd feel pretty popular with my seventy-two friends, except that there are a few people who asked to be my friends that I remember only the face and/or name of. I don't even remember saying, "Hi!" to them back in the days of my youth.

I do "get" Facebook now. I really enjoy seeing the status updates and sending brief little messages back and forth with people. It has been nice to regularly be able to check in with actual friends I often only heard from once in a blue moon and there have been a few people I've become reacquainted with about whom I often wondered "Where are they now?".

On the other hand, I've also found out where these people are now and sometimes am struck by how weird they now seem to me and how weird I am sure I seem to them. A few past acquaintances have radically altered their political positions. Others are now followers of pagan goddesses. Some of the more wild ones have settled down -- gotten jobs, spouses and responsibilities. I'm sure also that reading about my being Catholic and having five children has raised more than a few eyebrows amongst people I haven't heard from in years.

Facebook has been an interesting experience to see where I came from and figure out where some of us have gone, but the "friend" thing is still strange to me. Would I be friends with these people now? Would they be friends with me? Some would and are. Others, if we hadn't chanced to grow up in the same town or go to the same college, would never be people I'd seek out in my daily life as it currently stands -- even if we were all back in the same place again.

October 08, 2008

Seriously Disturbing

My six year old is sitting across the room reading Llama Llama Red Pajama and amusing herself by substituting Obama for the word Mama in the text. A cute story becomes rather icky this way. Where does she learn talk like that? She certainly didn't hear it from me, even if I am supposedly a centrist.

Read More "Seriously Disturbing" »

A Centrist???

You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(66% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

And I wonder, am I the only person out there who finds it slightly appalling to be described as a centrist?

Read More "A Centrist???" »

October 06, 2008


Nobody threw up on me today. Nobody wet the bed. Nobody went to the ER. Nothing horrible happened and yet I'm having one of those days any way.

I suppose it all began with my first grader flunking her language test. We've been working on these spelling words for a week and she seemed to understand and know what she was doing. But a little phonics and spelling test undermined that notion. She just doesn't get it at all today.

And the eight year old makes a lot of careless errors in his math and he constantly writes "w" instead of "u" when doing cursive.

It was all getting me down; so I gave them some free time to play and read.

Then whilst making lunch, I let the water boil out of the pot I was using and came near to ruining it. It's my favorite and I use it for everything, of course.

When I was reading to the older kids, the three year old wrote on the tablecloth in crayon and told me her brother did it -- he was taking a nap at the time. Then I caught her scratching the finish off the end tables with a fork.


Am I the only one who has days like this? My husband informs me that this wasn't a bad day, but it sure feels like one. Everything seems not to be quite right. Annoyances are more annoying today and I'm tired of doing all the usual things. Laundry piles engulf me, dishes are never ending and there is always another meal to cook. I know these things need doing and it isn't all about me, but I am tired and having a hard time adjusting today.

October 03, 2008

Friday Fun

Myrna Loy

You are class itself, the calm, confident "perfect woman." Men turn and look at you admiringly as you walk down the street, and even your rivals have a grudging respect for you. You always know the right thing to say, do and, of course, wear. You can take charge of a situation when things get out of hand, and you're a great help to your partner even if they don't immediately see or know it. You are one classy dame. Your screen partners include William Powell and Cary Grant, you little simmerpot, you.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

Take The Classic Dames Test at HelloQuizzy

From Diane, the quilter extraordinaire!

October 01, 2008

For the Love of All Things Anne

Last week on library day when I was walking through the new fiction section, a book with a yellow cover and a photo of the back of a young girl with two long red braids caught my eye. "Hmmm," I thought, "Before Green Gables? I wonder if it is dreadful?" I'm such an optimist about these things, obviously.

As most of the women I know do, I love Anne though and have read and reread all the books about her many times over. (As an odd aside, although I own several L.M. Montgomery books -- practically everything else including tons of short stories -- I've never owned any of the Anne books.) The author of this book, Budge Wilson, though I had never heard of her, seemed to be a writer in her own right, which made me wonder, "Would she stick to the story Montgomery hints at in Anne's past or would she try for something different?"

Obviously I had to check out the book. I got home and started reading. Despite my original skepticism, I think the author nailed this. It's a darker book in many ways than the Montgomery books, but then the story of Anne's early life has always hinted at being rather dark with death, "intoxicated husbands" and the drudgery of a great deal of hard work with women who never really wanted her.

In the midst of the difficulties, a reader learns about Anne "meeting" Katie Maurice, kindred spirits who befriend her, and how a young orphan girl with little schooling knows so many big words and bits of poetry before she gets to Prince Edward Island.

The trip through Anne's early years is well done, well researched both historically and in reference to the original books. The author has her own voice, but also stayed true to Anne and L.M. Montgomery. Anne's indomitable spirit shines and I feel a great need to read the rest of the original books again. I think I know what I'll be checking out on the next library day.