Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Pixar Halloween!

Colin finally consented to wear his Buzz Lightyear costume. Handsome devil!

Here's Anna, aka Lightning McQueen!

Look at that beaming smile! Notice anything missing?

The tooth is gone. It literally FELL out of her mouth tonight at dinner, plinking onto the floor. She was so pleased with herself, and wiggling with anticipation of the tooth fairy's visit.

Here they are, ready to go out and get some candy! Poor Anthony missed it all; he's away at a rare business meeting.

Sorting the loot afterwards.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yes, Auntie Norma, the dog ate 1.25 lbs of wild salmon!

But here's what we ate tonight:

"Boo Burgers" and sweet potato fries with a salad. The kids are so excited about trick or treating tomorrow!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fresh Fish

Today at Central Market, the kids chose Coho Salmon for dinner. While they were outside, enjoying the glorious sunny cool weather, I prepared the fish for our "Welcome Home Daddy" meal (he was in Dallas with his mom post-back-surgery). I skinned it, made cutlets, seasoned and breaded them, and prepared the sides.

Mis-en-place, I bathed the kids before dinner...

...and Francesca decided to have sushi.

Much consternation ensued. Wine helps.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Engage tummy muscles!

At dinner tonight, Anna serenaded us with a new song from school (sung to the tune of "Farmer and the Dell"):

Stop, drop, and roll,

Stop, drop, and roll,

If your clothes catch on fire,

Stop, drop, and roll!

Quite a handy little tune to sing to yourself in case of emergency, don't you think?

Not to be outdone, Colin came up with his own version:

If you go in the street,

If you go in the street,

If you go in the street,

You'll get dead!

Again, such handy advice!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Proud parents

Today Anna read a book all by herself to the principal. Her teacher has been sending home extra books for her to read, in addition to the simple kindergarden homework (mostly pages practicing writing one letter over and over... which she finishes in about 30 seconds). She did really well with a Clifford the Big Dog book - it was pretty long, and too complex just to be memorized. So her teacher sent her to the principal's office - to show off her reading skills.

We are so proud of her! I think watching her learn to read is more exciting than watching her learn to walk. This weekend as we were making breakfast, she shouted, "Mommy! I just read this! Fat...free...skim...milk!"

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Is your neighborhood littered with little air gun pellets the way mine is? All the little preteen urchins on my street have these fake firearms that shoot tiny pastel colored spheres, which accumulate in the cracks in the sidewalk. Sure, its all fun and games until someone shoots an eye out...

My children call these things "balls." As in, "Wait, Mommy, a ball! I have to stop and pick up this ball!"

Colin found 2 more "balls" at the park this morning. I had an all-afternoon planning session for work, so lucky Anthony got the kids all afternoon. They set up an elaborate track with their wood blocks and were racing their balls across it, until Colin started crying, "I can't get my ball!"

Great, thought Anthony, "Where is it, buddy?"

Colin wailed, "In my nose!"

Yes, Colin stuffed the little sphere, just slightly larger than his own nostril, up into his sinus. Anthony told me, when I finally called him back on a break, that he'd even used my little "pliers thingy" (aka hemostat) but it was too far up there to get out, so they were headed to the emergency room.

The waiting room was as expected, packed with sick children. Anthony sat with two bright, healthy children and waited. Fortunately, he rechecked Colin as they waited, and noticed the ball had descended. By pushing Colin's cheek out, mashing on his nostril and digging it out with his pen, Macgyver-style, Anthony actually extracted it himself.

A nurse saw him and said, "Way to go, Dad!" I second that! Way to handle the kids on your own and save us $150 in ER fees!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some people should not be allowed the privelege of having a dog

On the internet you can say anything, including dispensing medical advice. Most people know that you should actually consult with a doctor before following through on such advice.

There were some people who purchased a Chinese Crested. This is a freaky looking dog with no hair on its body, but an exuberant little poof on its head, feet, and tail. They are unusual and expensive. This new owner read on the internet that if your Chinese Crested's ears didn't fold over the way you wanted them to, you could tape them down to get the desired result. She taped them down over a hard piece of plastic, cutting off the blood supply. The tips of the ears died.

My colleague surgically debrided the dead tissue, leaving the pup with one decent, half notched ear, and one ear basically gone. And still no hair. He's so ugly he's cute, and he's got a great personality.

Now, apparently, the dog has gotten "too big." I think confined to one small room of the house and "ran a lot" when let out. How big is too big? About 18 lbs.

One of our large hearted staff members agreed to foster him, but I am sure it won't be long before this dog with no hair and 1/2 an ear finds a home that will love him to death.

Meanwhile, we think of names for him:

Vincent Van Gogh
Beautiful Joe (sisters, I actually found someone else today who also read this book!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sundry things

Cool shot of the mist rising up on our back fence as it comes rolling across the field (photo by Anthony).

Anna says, "BOO!" in her nifty Halloween dress. Thanks, Auntie Steph!

It was my wonderful mother's birthday yesterday. My sisters said such kind and eloquent things about her, I was in awe and had nothing more to add. But, I do hope I always look as great as she, at 40, at 50, and now unbelievably vibrant at 60!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yes, we live in Texas

I am fortunate that my kids love to play together so much. Today, Anna was orchestrating a game of pretend store. "Let's go shopping. Colin, you be the pear," she said.

Her dad: "Colin has to be the pear?"
Anna: "No, he's the pear."
Her dad: "Pear, like the fruit?"
Anna: "No, pair."
Her dad: "Pair, like a pair of socks?"
Anna, more frustrated: "No, pair. Listen to my words. Pai-RR. PaiRR!"
Her dad, finally: "Oh, payer!"


And now for something completely different-

I am thinking about doing this:

National Blog Post Month

As recommended by Fussy, committing to making a post every day in the month of November. Of course it feels like I do this, since I am often writing blog posts in my head. I actually post about 3 times a week. Do you think it would get tedious, mundane? I can certainly think of blogs I wish would post daily...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mercy killing

This afternoon a receptionist approached me and said, "Can you work in a euthanasia?"

Grr... it was late, already 4:30 pm, we were booked. I asked who it was and she said, "The owner said her cat was diagnosed with cancer." I looked at the record - we hadn't seen the cat in over a year, and the last few phone calls the owners declined the recommended diagnostics. "Do you want me to fit it in tomorrow?" the receptionist asked me, and that got me back into the realm of common sense. "No, if they are ready, have them come in now." I didn't know this cat or these clients, but at least euthanasias don't take long.

Of course, I was running late with my last few appointments. I could tell by my nurse's face this cat's condition was poor. "Is it as bad as we feared?" I asked her, because usually when cases like this finally come in, they've lost half their body weight and probably should have been put down long ago. "Its the worst ever," she said, pulling back the poor creature's blanket.

I saw an emaciated cat, not just so skinny you could see all of its bones, but so skinny you wondered what was holding those bones together under that skin. Because the skin was thin, hairless on the last half of the body, covered in sores, and smelled really bad. "HOW could they let this cat get like this?" my nurse asked indignantly. "HOW COULD THEY! You can't let an animal get this bad and not bring it in."

It was alarming, but I focused on the task at hand. I pulled up the euthanasia solution, took a deep breath and walked into the room.

The woman there was quietly sobbing. I introduced myself and said, "He looks pretty bad..." That's when the story of this cat came out, with her tears. "He's been gone for weeks," she said. "Despite the cancer, he's been a really good eater. Then he disappeared, and I figured he went off to die. But I kept looking for him, you know? And then today, he came back. I don't know how he did it, but he dragged himself back into my yard. I was going to let him have a natural death, but this is too much..."

Immediately, we had nothing but sympathy for this woman and her poor cat's ordeal. The cat obviously was not ambulatory, so I don't know how he got back to her either. He was half-rotten, and literally looked like death warmed over, yet she said he ate for her once he got home.

I told her she was absolutely making the right decision, helping him with a peaceful painless death to end his suffering, and that there was nothing I could do to help him, except to help him die. I also told her that clearly this cat's will and spirit exceeded the limitations of his body.

As she held him in her arms, I gave the injection that slowed his breathing and stopped his heart. She cried and kissed him good-bye, then thanked me for "still being open." All I could think was, what kind of monster would I be if I had not stayed and helped them this night?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Froggy weather

It rained all day today, leaving a warm still evening at the end of a dark day. As I took Francesca on her evening walk, we saw at least 20 toads. They are easy to spot in the distance, little triangular sentinels at the edge of the sidewalk. If they are smart, they jump into the tall grass before Francesca approaches - she likes to give chase.

Many of them are large full-grown adults. I'm impressed when I look at them, and think, "You really are survival of the fittest!" Thinking back on the thousands of tadpoles in ponds and creeks over the summer, these big guys are the top 1%. Some of them are tiny half-grown things, perched on delicate little forelegs, all eyes and mouth.

It has been so long since we've had much rain, surely these guys have been in arrested development since high summer, revived from their hibernation hidey-holes by today's long steady soak. Wonder if any of them are ones we raised?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

All together now

We really had a great family day today. After working 6 days in a row (covering for someone on vacation plus my regular schedule), I was ready to see all of them.

Our hens have finally started really producing again, so I celebrated with scrambled eggs this morning. After a lazy morning at home, we all went to the Austin Symphony's Halloween concert.

The kids were so primed for this after watching many episodes of "Little Einsteins." The show is barely passable in my book - my biggest complaint is the contrived nonsensical plots - but they do teach a lot about orchestral instruments. My kids know the difference between woodwines and strings, and sometimes when listening to the car radio they'll shout out, "I hear brass!" They also have learned what accelerando and staccato mean.

The Halloween Concert was great - it was in a small venue and obviously geared toward kids. We of course encouraged them to sit still and be quiet, but it wasn't a huge deal if they didn't. Its a smaller version of the full orchestra, but all of them obviously care about teaching the next generation about this type of music.

The kids could wear their costumes (we just wore Tshirts since Anna's is not ready and Colin refused to wear his) and so did some of the orchestra members. During the first piece, a Berlioz march, both of my kids were enraptured and dancing in their seats. They loved the very low-tech special effects - spiders and skeletons dangling dancing from the ceiling, and later a spotlight broom dancing on the ceiling.

The music was great - lots of movie themes. We decided the best was "Superman;" it really is exciting. Colin had a hard time sitting still, until I told him it was the last song. "Then we can go?" he said. After the last note faded, Anna said, "No! Its too short!" and actually started to tear up. We pacified her by going to the stage to get a closer look at some of the instruments. Her favorite is the French horn. This girl might be ready for a longer adult concert.

After the concert we walked up 2 blocks to the Texas State Capitol and ate a late picnic lunch on the beautiful grounds, under huge stately trees. The kids recognize the dome from the highway but had never been inside. We walked in the beautiful pink granite building, and the kids climbed many steps up to the top of the dome with youthful exuberance. Afterwards we found the afternoon pleasant and the kids were in such a good mood, we were inclined to linger on our outing. We went to a Starbuck's in South Austin Anthony had wanted to show me. It has a green roof, solar panels, and rain collecting barrels. We enjoyed our beverages and the kids ran around, playing hide and go seek.

We picked up some groceries on the way home, and then enjoyed our third meal all together. No major melt downs, no big problems all day. Bravo!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Photo update

Colin got a haircut this weekend. Anthony did, too. I'm their barber, which is great because it saves money and I get to be creative. But sometimes, its a chore. Man, I look so serious, and wrinkly!

I bought Colin's Halloween costume today - Buzz Lightyear. He tried it on for a nanosecond, then wanted Anna to try it on. She really hammed it up, and he loved looking at her in it.

Here Anna demonstrates her loose tooth. Anna wants to be Lightning McQueen for Halloween, but wants to make her costume, not buy it. "Mommy, I'll just get a box and color it with my red marker!" I think it will be a little more laborious project than that, but we are going to give it a whirl.

Tonight at bedtime, Anna tripped and knocked her head on the end of the bed. She cried a lot, then said, "It hurts like all the teeth in your mouth were loose, it hurts!!!"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wiggle room

On Monday Anna started whining after she bit down on her Kashi waffle. "Something hard in there hurt my tooth!" she wailed. I thought maybe some pebble or hard blueberry accidentally got in there. I couldn't find any problem with the rest of her waffle, so I blew it off. But off and on she kept complaining about her gum hurting. Once I even spied her flossing her teeth.

Today she tried to eat a hard pear and started crying about her tooth again. "My whole mouth hurts when I bite down!" she said. "You have to check it!" Colin was having a tantrum at the same time, so the wailing fit right in. I brought Anna into the light and examined her, then felt her teeth.

One of her lower incisors wiggled.

"Anna! You have a loose tooth! You're going to lose a tooth soon!" I told her.

Anna personified the phrase turn that frown upside-down. She went from utter pathos to complete joy. "Really?" she giggled. "The tooth fairy is going to come? When? What day will I lose my tooth?"

I looked at her pretty smile, and thought of how excited we were when she was a baby and celebrated the arrival of each of those little teeth. She'll probably look a little gawky in the next few years, with a gap-toothed grin then big adult teeth, and I'm sure braces are to come...

This is all going way too fast.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

No News Update

I really thought I would be posting more about our wonderful getaway, about all the delicious food and wine, but I have been working a lot and I'm pretty damned depressed about my missing cat. Everyone at work was so sympathetic, but it was so sad, too, because Kareen's cat Al, who had been missing for a month was found but with severe head trauma and died within 24 hours, and Shawn's cat was found dead, hit by a car, all while I was gone.

Add in a couple of euthanasias on my schedule (nothing out of the ordinary, but still adds to the sadness), plus lots of reminders of Montana, and you get the picture of the sorry state of my mind.

Thank you all for your positive and empathetic thoughts. Unfortunately, I don't think Claudio insolently wandered off. I know there are coyotes in the greenbelt and I think that they got him. No calls yet. After talking to lots of neighbors, two of them saw him the night he was let out between our house and next door, and nothing since then. Yesterday another neighbor found his collar between our house and the trees.

Just don't ask me about him in person unless you're ready for the waterworks.