Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Grammar nerds

Anna says, "Mommy, please pass me a napkin. I need one really badly."

I pass the napkin, and Anthony and I smile. Our daughter has good manners and uses her adverbs correctly.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


"This is a very important dog," the woman said. I was looking at her adorable 8 month old Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix puppy. He was a charmer, and so sweet! Unfortunately, he inherited a long bottom jaw and a short upper jaw from his jumbled heritage, and it was giving him quite a malocclusion. The lower jaw was "overshot" but also uneven. This was the reason I was looking at him.

"My daughter is so sick..." she started to say, then her eyes welled up with tears. "I'm sorry," she said, "But my daughter has anorexia, and this dog is part of her therapy. He's helped her so much already."

She told me that she and her family live overseas, but when her daughter went in for her 15 year check up, she weighed less than the year before, something like 82 lbs on a 5'5" girl! They immediately decided to come home for a year, and have her seeing a army of therapists. One suggested getting a dog, and it has helped her to learn to take care of her pet, to have someone to accept her unconditionally, and to have a little life to live for. Like most anorexics, her mom said she is a perfectionist overachiever. Caring for the dog helps her shift her focus from herself.

This dog was special. He stayed very still while I examined his mouth for a long time. Pulling 2 of his small upper incisiors will allow more room for his lower canine tooth and make his bite more comfortable. It seemed like an honor to be allowed to help this important dog.

Amazing how much therapy you can pack into 8 lbs...

Friday, April 21, 2006

In England they call it a plaster

"Oh, Mommy, that's a bad boo-boo," Anna said. I mowed on Wednesday and got a burst blister on my thumb. "It's bleeding! You need a band-aid."

This is because my children's daily goal is to get a bandaid.

I really hate bandaids on my hands, because I wash them a lot, and then its just soggy and hanging grungily on. "I'll get one when I get to work," I told her.

"Oh, do they have bandaids for women there?" she said.

"What?" I said, "Oh, you mean, like not kid bandaids. Yes." We also have animal ones!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Blowing Bubbles

I just got this picture of Colin trying very hard to blow bubbles (a prize from the egg hunt). He purses his little lips, then unfurls them with a puff of air: "FFFfffoooo!" Look at that furrowed brow! Watch out, birthday candles...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Somethings never change

So now we are struggling with potty training Colin, which is of course, 2 steps forward (goes potty all by himself twice in one day), 2 steps back.

Since potty training goes better "nudie bum" as we say, Sunday evening that was the state of Colin's lower half. He did spend some outside, spraying the plants and playing with his bubble-blowing lawn mower. Last night, Anthony ran out to water some plants in the dark, and came back holding up his sandal in disgust. Since there is no dog detritus in our yard anymore (and this was way grosser), we knew who laid this turd. Actually, he did try to cover it up with a gutter drain spout.

Today when we were running to the store, I put the kids in their new sandals, then searched for mine - where are they? Oh, yeah, under my desk where I left them last night. But they're wet...and smell of pee. "Argh!" I yell, "Who peed on my shoes?"

"Not me!" Anna says.

"I do dis," Colin says.

Continuing the repetitive loop here at our house, Friday night Vino had another mishap. Fortunately he has not lost any more body parts. I got home to chaos - we wanted to go out to a local show, I was eating dinner, the kids were finishing their bath, the babysitter was arriving - and Anthony starts hollering, "Jennifer! Jennifer!" from the bedroom. Since he's not saying, "Mommy," I know its serious.

Vino had a little fake coral decoration in his cage, the kind you'd put in a fish tank, a present to him from Enricka (rodent goddess). It had little holes in it for fish to swim through, some big enough for Vino to crawl through. For some reason, he decided to crawl through a tiny hole, about the size of a quarter but triangular, and got stuck. His head fit, and since he only has one arm and shoulder, his thorax fit, and her got his abdomen through, then was wedged in at the pelvis. I tried pushing him back, and tried helping him through, but all I did was make his little eyes bulge out.

"I think I can get him out with the hack saw," Anthony said.

At first these words scared me, but Anth assured me that if I could just protect him a little bit, he could carefully cut the coral and get him out. So, we put a small piece of wood over one side of Vino and a corner of a blanket on the other, and cut Vino out of the coral.

Within minutes, Vino was hauling hamster booty around the cage again.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

We had a busy Easter. It seemed like we celebrated forever, maybe because it was so late this year. Last weekend the kids went to 2 egg hunts, and then Colin had one at school. This weekend, we went to a great birthday party that also had an egg hunt.

He can't be my son. He's eating celery. Other than that, the party food was fantastic. I knew I could count on my friend Lisa to serve delicious and healthy food at a lunchtime party.

Birthday girl, Lyra, about to blow out the candles.


Lots of children, hunting lots of eggs. Its great when there are so many eggs that the hunt lasts a long time. Also the weather was sunny and dry, and all the kids looked so nice in their springy clothes.

Anna got a LOT of eggs. I felt a little guilty at the end when I saw her haul. Maybe I should have monitored the situation more closely. However, it did seem that everyone got plenty of eggs.... and Anna got a TON!

Anna, Colin, and me opening the eggs under the shady oak. Anna was really enthusiastic about her loot. "A squishy lizard! Tattoos! Kitty cat stickers!" she hollered. "A green necklace! My favorite color - what a wonderful day!!!!" Where does she come up with this stuff?

Today I cooked a leg o' lamb on the grill, as well as asparagus and potatoes with herbs in papillote. Okay, I enjoy the lamb way more than the rest of my family, but it seems much more appropriate to me than ham. Isn't ham what they cured and ate in the dead of winter, then when there were lots of new baby lambs in the spring, they ate one of them? So why do we eat ham at Easter? Maybe it was to empty out the larder. Anyway, we dined well then ate chocolate.

Colin shows off his Easter bunny. The bunny's eye fell off and Colin stuck it back on, giving the bunny serious strabismus! Also note the stye on poor Colin's right eye, which I'm hoping resolves itself tomorrow. If not, don't worry, I'll take him into his pediatrician, since I do believe in Western medicine.

Biting the bunny's ears off.

Colin shares his chocolate bunny with Daddio.

Anna and her chocolate bunny. She actually said, "Mommy, can we eat a piece of the bunny every day until its gone?" I told her yes, then let her consume the whole thing in one go.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Today I walked in to see a patient. There was a mom holding a baby to her discreetly covered breast, while her 3 year old daughter peeked over her shoulder.

"Sorry, we're nursing here," said the mom, and I assured her it didn't bother me in the least, it just might make me miss nursing. The older sister patted the baby and touched her head to his; it was absolutely precious.

Later, as I examined the dog, the little girl got a little worried that I was hurting her pet. I started my standard your-veterinarian-is-the-doctor-for-your-pets spiel. I picked up the otoscope and said, "I'm going to look in his ears. When you go to the doctor, do they look in your ears?"

"Actually," her mom said, "We're Christian Scientists. We don't take her to the doctor. The last time she saw one was when she got checked right after the midwife delivered me."

Hearing this sent an eerie chill right down my spine. I looked at these beautiful, precious children, and realized how vulnerable they were. Here I am vaccinating this canine, and these kids are susceptible to whooping cough, diphtheria, chicken pox, polio, etc. And I thought, what if they have an ear infection, don't you even take them in or give them advil?

I forcefully had to push these thoughts to the side so I could continue with the job I had to do with the little dog. I couldn't think about why the dog was getting regular medical care but not the children. Also, when I mentioned he needed a dental and an X-ray of his tooth with the root canal, the mom did say to the little girl, "...just like when you go to the dentist." So, dental care is OK, but not medical?

The mom seemed really neat, and so was her dog, but I just couldn't bond with her after that revelation. I thought, I wouldn't want her kids to go to my kids' school or play with them, because who knows what either party would be exposed to. When we live in a time and country with so much health care available, why would you risk your children's lives - but vaccinate your dog?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Play it again, Sam

When Anna was 2 1/2, she became an Avril Lavigne fan. (Although I think it makes perfect sense for a preschooler to like a teen pop star, don't ask what her parents were doing with Avril's CD in their car!) Anyway, we were charmed when out of her mouth came the lilting lyrics of "I'm With You," without prompting -- especially since "its a damn cold night" became "its a dan coll nigh...". Soon she was identifying every track on the CD from the first few bars, and vehemently requesting her faves from the car seat.

Fast forward 2 years. Same song, second verse:

Colin loves Green Day. The 3-chord head bangers have put out a decent new CD. "I wan' Bubbebard Boken Dreams!" Colin shouts from the back seat. He knows all the words, in his garbled toddler speak. Unlike articulate Anna, he always sounds like English is not his first language, and I love the way he talks. No articles and few verbs, just the important stuff -- kind of the way I speak Italian!

If we are in the Prius (the car without the Green Day CD) he is fortunately content with my acappella version of it, and he gamely chimes along, even singing the "Ah-ah, ah-ah, aaaaahh-ah," wordless part.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams is definitely his all time favorite cut, but he will tolerate "the drums song" that follows it (We are the waiting). He also quickly recognizes and likes "Holiday," (a great anti-war rant to jog to) and "Novocaine," (Take away the sensation inside/Bittersweet migraine in my head/Its like a throbbing toothache of the mind.../This sensation's overwhelming.../Give me novocaine!). Sounds like me in labor with him, asking for the epidural.

Today we were running errands, and each time we got back in the car he requested Track 4. On the way to pick up Anna, I told him that since we had listened to it FOUR TIMES, we were going to listen to Fresh Air now, alright?

"Uh, Okay, Mommy." He said. Then, "Mommy, can you turn up the music, please?"

My mom told me once that a toddler's personality mirrors their future teenage personality. For my kids, at least musically, we know what's in store.

Monday, April 10, 2006

To the Gills

I'm feeling pretty stuffed tonight, since I made Tofu Lettuce Wraps for dinner (my family loves them some fermented soybean curd!) and we all pigged out! I served the kids noodles with their tofu on the side, but even Anna wanted to try the romaine lettuce, masquerading as a tortilla. We were all surprised and delighted that she liked it.

But what really sent me over the edge of gastric capacity was this, which was easy to make and LOVED by all.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What's in a Name?

We were driving to dinner last weekend, in the car with Emily and her boyfriend and Anna.

We started talking about Anna's Nana and Grandad, and asked her if she knew their last name (which happens to be DOWNWARD - an English name, but very uncommon in the US).

Auntie Emily said, "I'll give you a hint - its not your last name."

Anna said, "That's not a hint!"

Emily said, "OK, here's a good hint: its a direction."

I helpfully added, "It starts with the letter D."

Anna screwed up her face and said, "De-Left?"

We laughed all the way to Chuy's.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Party Pictures

Hold on to your hat, partners, because there's a whole mess of pictures in this here post! Click on any of them to get a better view.

The Cowboy/Cowgirl party was great fun, especially for the birthday girl:

The Pony Ride Lady arrived early to set up. She'd promised 2 ponies, but brought FOUR! Here's Anna, checking them out. My sweet sister Emily and her boyfriend got "roped" into walking kids on ponies for over an hour. That poor guy didn't know what he was getting into! No, really, they were very kind and enthusiastic. Not all the kids wanted to ride a pony, but most did -- especially Anna! She rode a lot!

Anna rides!

Anna waves to her party people.

Here's Auntie Emily leading our cousin Henley on a ride. They were both all gussied up!

We also played a game called, "There's a Snake in My Boot!" Basically the children dropped a very realistic looking anaconda into an old boot. Once it got in, I gave them a gold (chocolate) coin.

Ruby demonstrates her technique, and Quentin admires his hard-won gold, while pony rides continue in the background. I was amazed how all the children wanted a turn at this non-competitive game.

Meanwhile, Anna enjoyed another trail ride with Grandad.

Party planning is a lot of work, but I never have to worry about the cake. Anthony made the beautiful flower cake on the left, and my MIL Marion made the cute Western shirt on the right.

In this photo, everyone is happily eating cake. Moments before, it was a feeding frenzy of small children, all shouting at us, "I want chocolate cake! I want white cake! I want chocolate!" at the tops of their little voices. We couldn't serve cake fast enough -- nothing motivates like sugar. Colin is at the bottom left. He had a great time at the party, but was totally uninterested in the horses or the games. He got Nana to give him lots of pushes in the swing.

Lil cowpokes heading for a potty break.

Yes, a good time was had by all. They even got me on a horse. I look enormous on this tiny appaloosa! I was "racing" Anna, but she (of course) won.

Happy Trails To You!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Immigration reform is sparking intense debate and protests here. For an interesting perspective on this topic, see Leigh-Ann's blog.

BTW, the Cowboy-Cowgirl Party was a great success today. I have sunburned shoulders and sore feet.