Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's

With sick babies, we're in for the evening. And while I wait for the 20th load of laundry of the day to dry, here's my thoughts on 2008, compliments of a quiz on the great All and Sundry.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
I had a second kid and discovered you can really love the second one as much as the first.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
This time last year, I was so huge all I wanted was a healthy baby and not to be pregnant anymore. Both of those came true.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My cousin Marsue died unexpectedly on a cruise. What was most unexpected was we didn't hear about it immediately.

5. What countries did you visit?
I don't think I left the U.S. in 2008 and even missed the Egan Clan Rally in Ireland this year. Something about little kids at home.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
In the next year, I'm looking forward to the kids being old enough that we can start to do stuff together as a family with her as a more active participant, like going to museums and other stuff.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The obvious, January 26, Meg's birthday. The 25th, the day I went into the hospital to have her was pretty memorable, too. Work-wise, we had a pretty kick-ass media event in September that was a big milestone for me professionally.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
See no. 7 above.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't think I handled the 2008 daycare fiasco particularly well. I think I somehow rushed into making a decision. I am very happy with the outcome, but I don't think I did my research very well. And um, that stock market thing wasn't so great either.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Being pregnant, I had just about every cold you can imagine so I was relieved to end that once I delivered. Sadly, the kids have had some illnesses that have really rocked my confidence. Like right now.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought the services of a night nurse when Meg was a newborn. I don't normally splurge on stuff for myself, but it was worth it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Andy gave up his binky over the summer and potty trained, both of which I feared would never happen. Jennifer graduated from college. Mark got into a four-year college and moved out. Bjorn started a new job. Meg -- well -- everything she does right now is cause for celebration.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The Cowboys. How do you go from Superbowl favorites to not making the playoffs?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Aside from living expenses, most of our money went to tuition for all four kids. What's left over went on some splurges for the house, like new windows which I'm very excited about.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
It was exciting to be a part of the Obama campaign. I was on the fringes, but it was cool to see Bjorn and others get so motivated. I've never really been part of a campaign before and it was all really fascinating. Oh, and all that press for work was very cool, too.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Sadly, the theme song to Little Einsteins.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder?b) thinner or fatter?c) richer or poorer?
I am happier, but more stressed with two kids. I am a lot thinner, you know, not pregnant and all, but still not as thin as I'd like to be. I think we're about the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I'd figured out how to get out with more friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I'd worried less. Everything always works out in one way or another, but in the interim, I spend a lot of time chewing over it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas in Dallas with my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Yes, with a newborn. Oh, and there are a few new good TV shows, too.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
With two little kids, I watch a LOT of television. My faves -- Lost, 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Unlike Bjorn, I usually don't hate anyone. Well, except that Parade magazine columnist. That guy bugs.

24. What was the best book you read?
I read a couple interesting ones: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and Founding Mothers.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Finally getting to use my iPod to download those one-off songs I love, like Romeo in Black Jeans.

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted a healthy baby and I was really blessed to receive it (fingers crossed, knock wood, etc). Well, the past two weeks excepted.

27. What did you want and not get?
Bjorn had a big job opportunity that didn't pan out. That would have been exciting.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We never see movies anymore. In the advent of Tivo, my attention span is just too darn short and I want to Tivo through the boring parts. But I did really like Juno.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 this year. We had a baptism for Meg rather than our usual party. It was nice. I liked doing something a little different.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I get stressed with the kids, money and that kind of stuff. I really wish sometimes I could have taken a deep breath and laughed rather than worrying about whatever it was.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Clean is my goal. If only that always happened. I want to be better in the new year. I am going to vow to wear more colors and less black and grey.

32. What kept you sane?
Bjorn, my television, work and my friends and family. Oh, and my trashy magazines are good, too. My sister, Elizabeth, also has two little kids and is invaluable for helping me take a deep breath when I am freaking out.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I adore Tina Fey. She just rocks. I love how she makes smart girls sexy.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The presidential election was very moving. And once McCain picked Palin, I got really engaged. While I found her personally fascinating, her politics scared me.

35. Who did you miss?
Gay, but I miss Gilmore Girls. I haven't found a show I like as much. I miss our friends Mo and Bill who moved away. I miss my family in Texas. Especially now that I have little kids, I would love for them to be more a part of my regular life.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
The neatest new person was our Obama organizer Nealin who came to our house twice a week for a few months. Too bad Obama was elected and she went and moved away.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
I learned that as much as I want it, there isn't always a right answer. Sometimes there are just a lot of good enough answers. I have finally figured out that if I book sucks, I don't have to finish it. No one is grading me. Oh, and I figured out to almost always check books out of the library rather than buying them. Then there's even less pressure to finish a sucky book.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Bob the Builder -- can we fix it? Yes we can! -- I feel I spend a lot of time trying to make things better for the little people in my life.

Oy, part 3

So guess who was up last night throwing up? That would be Andy! Poor guy. He came to my bed about 11, which is weird, but there are lots of weird things going on this week. He snuggled for a minute, then coughed, cried and when I turned on the light, I saw that he'd thrown up. In my bed. Turns out he'd also thrown up in his bed earlier. He did that for about half an hour while we changed the sheets and then woke up about 3:45 and 8:30 for repeat performances. Bjorn was quite the champ taking care of him and everything. Meg, believe it or not, had a pretty good night starting about 10:30 and woke up looking more like herself. Go figure.

I called Meg's babysitter to see if she could go over there today to give me a break to deal with Andy. She agreed so at least I had a chance to catch up on rest, laundry and e-mail for a bit. Dang, it's been a long couple of weeks! I hope all these bugs stay with 2008.

Oh, and to update on Meg. We spent two hours at the doctor's office yesterday. The first hour was waiting (groan) and the second they ran a bunch of tests. She has a double ear infection so the Omnicef wasn't doing its job so now she's on another antibiotic and a prescription antihistamine that will help dry her out and help her sleep. The doctor said I might go ahead and make the ENT appointment just to get a referral. She said Meg is younger than she normally likes to refer and hasn't exhausted everything else yet, BUT with Andy's family history, we're likely headed there anyway so why not go ahead and make that an option. The surgery makes me nervous, mostly the anesthesia, but the thought of preventing all this recent discomfort makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oy, part 2

After a mostly uneventful Monday, Meg threw up all over the car on our way back from Costco (where I picked up our Christmas cards, sorry folks for the delay). She then proceeded to have a terrible night of throwing up and crying. It. Was. Terrible. I'm likely off to the pediatrician's again this morning. Poor little girl. She would relax for a little bit then cry out in pain. A few times I half convinced myself we were headed to the emergency room, only for her to settle down again and sleep for an hour or so.

Andy, blissfully, slept through the whole mess. Poor guy though. This was our week to play on "in-cation" and I have a feeling it's not going to be too much fun.

P.S. Anyone know how to wash the straps on a Britax Roundabout? The cover comes off easily, but those straps are sure nasty right now.

Monday, December 29, 2008


So we returned and we were all excited to relax and sleep in our own beds...only for little miss Margaret to be up all Friday night, coughing so hard she would throw up. Poor chicken only slept about two hours at a time. Unfortunately, she only wanted me so Bjorn couldn't even really help. She and I were both exhausted and cranky come Saturday morning.

A trip to the pediatrician in the morning, along with most of the rest of Northern Virginia, diagnosed an ear infection so now she's on 3 ml of Omnicef twice a day as well as 3 ml of Motrin and Tylenol for the pain and 1 1/2 ml of Benadryl on occasion to help with the drainage. The humidifier is cranked at full blast and, thank heavens, she had decent nights Saturday and Sunday nights. I did even promise her a pony if she slept through the night Saturday I was so cranky and exhausted. She made it so now I suppose I need to look into ponies.

So far, the antibiotics seem to be working on her ears, but I have a feeling ear tubes are in our future. Fortunately, we've done it once so the whole process is not as scary.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just a few

We took 177 photos while we were gone. Here are some of the highlights. Andy proudly showing his name on his stocking.
Darling Baby Emma who is now 18 months and walking everywhere, especially wherever the Big Kids go.

Darling Baby Meg, pooped from the trip and giving me a much-needed break on the way plane ride back.

Bitsie, Cousin PJ and me at the Christmas Party.

Pop with his oldest grandchildren.

Most likely Mom's Christmas card.

I love that neither of them seems to sure here.

Drake, Andy and Ben at the flight museum.

Susan stuck in the control tower.

Me with Meg with her bow and darling Christmas dress and matching red tights.

All four grandbabies in matching pajamas. I have about 20 variations of this photo. It was like herding cats to get them all together and in the end, not on picture was great of everyone.

Merry Christmas

Once the stomach bug left the building and I got some rest and stopped acting like a baby, we had a really nice visit. Here are the highlights:

1) Megan and Andy had a blast together. They are at that great age where they just got together, giggled and ran off to play toys. They didn't need help although they were able to cause mischief. He had the best time of anyone and wants to come to Texas all the time. Hard to blame him since he got to stay up late, watch movies, eat crap and play all the time.
2) Playing Fact or Crap on Christmas day with Mom, Elizabeth, Uncle Bobby and Bjorn.
3) Watching Andy and Megan delight in picking presents out from under the tree and getting Great Uncle Bobby to tell them whose name was on it so they could distribute it.
4) The pedicure/lunch present from Mary.
5) The deep tissue massage at the DCC, compliments of Dad.
6) Dad calling Andy "Byron" all week and Andy totally getting that they're both Byron.
7) Megan saying ,"Grandmother loves malt liquor," on command.
8) Watching Wall-E and Enchanted with Mom and Dad.
9) Seeing family, including cousins Susie and PG from Austin, and friends.
10) Watching Susan have to climb to the top of the tower at the Frontiers of Flight Museum.
11) Trying to get group pictures of lots of little kids. Talk about herding cats.
12) Meg saying, "Hi" and waving to everyone.
13) Emma and Meg sort of eyeing each other up. I love thinking that they'll be buddies some day like Megan and Andy.
14) Watching Mom take her "Christmas thong" out of her stocking.
15) Watching the Big Kids run around the track on Christmas Day with Pop.
16) Coming home to a clean house and getting everyone into their own beds.

It was a good trip, but I am glad I won't have to fly with two little kids for a little while. That was exhausting!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nothing says vacation quite like a stomach virus

We are in Dallas. The flight was mostly uneventful and the kids were generally well behaved. The added wrinkle was Meg's diarrhea that forced me to make four or five diaper changes in a three hour flight. Fortunately, I packed enough. Her poor little bottom was very red and had red welts, and by Sunday, her symptoms seemed to be getting worse rather than improving. A call to the pediatrician back home resulted in instructions of a 1/2 teaspoon on Children's Kaopectate and a diary-free diet for 24 hours to try to give her system a chance to heal. As a precaution, I also took her to see my childhood pediatrician, Dr. Pharo, who at 83 is still practicing and has probably seen everything. He also cracks me up since he seems sort of old school about things.

He echoed the Kaopectate although he said I could give her adult if I wanted -- the children's just has flavoring. That and diet, he said, should improve things quickly. He advocated no wheat for a few days, including Cheerios or anything else with gluten, and said to go for rice krispies or other rice-type foods. He said she could start drinking 2 percent milk. "Formula?" I asked. "What's she still drinking formula for? You can switch to milk at 8 months? Well, no sense switching her right now. You can give her a little bit of diary, so two ounces instead of six. And be sure to slather her bottom with Desitin or some other zinc oxide as that stomach acid will burn a hole in her skin if you're not careful."

Last night she slept well for the first time since we arrived on Friday, sleeping about 8:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The previous few days she had woken up at 4:30 a.m. My mother even gave me a break and got up with her until Andy got us up at 7:30 a.m. It is amazing how much better every one's mood is when when we've gotten a little sleep and symptoms seem to be improving.

Meg is also going through full-blown separation anxiety right now. To be fair, there is a ton going on and she really cries out when I leave the room or try to put her down. Some of it is probably her not feeling well, but I'll be happy when this phase passes.

Andy, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. He loves playing with his cousin Megan, aged 4, and a little with Baby Emma, aged 18 months. He is also loving all the added attention from his aunts and grandparents. It's been fun to watch. I am hoping Meg will stay on the mend so I have more time (and energy) to play with the big kids and adults. And maybe even drink plenty of wine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I walked into my babysitter's house this week and Meg crawled around the corner and said, "Hi." It was so perfect and adorable, I nearly fell over. I scooped her up for a hug and kiss, she smiled and pushed me away so she could go back to crawling.

She has said, "Mama" before and really seemed to mean me, and now she can with some regularity say, "Hi" on command (well, only when it's her command really, of course).

We leave for Dallas tomorrow and, on cue, Meg seems to have some type of stomach bug. She had a lot of loose stools yesterday and then some full blown (heh) diarrhea last night. I am experimenting with some soy formula that I have a sample of and Ayesha was going to give her rice and other carbs today to try to help solve the problem. I also gave her some yogurt this morning and could hear my mother's mantra in my head about the "good" bacteria. Hopefully the combination of treatments and time will cure her before our trip.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home improvement

Before with the old aluminum, sliding windows.

During when they removed all the old aluminum frames.

Installing the new windows.

Viola! All shiny, new and pretty!

Another classic

Andy: "Uh, Mom, am I wearing any underpants or am I going 'ammando?"
Me: "'Ammando?"
Andy: "Yeah, 'ammando, without underpants."
Me: "You mean commando?"
Andy: "Yeah, cuh-manndo."
Bjorn: "Okay, I did teach him that one."
Me: "..."

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Me: "Andy, why are your hands in your pants?"
Andy: Smiles, "I'm just tickling my penis. Tickle, tickle, tickle!"
Me: "..."
Bjorn: "I didn't teach him that!"

Friday, December 12, 2008


Meg is now standing everywhere. It's been amazing how quickly she's picked it up. I turned around yesterday to find her standing in the kitchen holding on to the kid drawer with all the sippy cups in it. She then proceeded to stand there while she took each top out, licked it and threw it on the floor.

She has also figured out how to climb the landing step on our stairs and is already turning the corner gunning for the rest of them. Although I do have one baby gate that I keep at the top of the stairs, I had borrowed the others I used with Andy from a friend who has since relocated to Missouri. I am thinking I need to invest in a couple to put at the bottom of the stairs in the living room. Otherwise, I'm going to spend my time defending against the stairs.

The Christmas march is on and I am loving watching Andy really get into it. Some things he still finds a little hokey, like the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas special from 1974 narrated by Joel Grey. I can't say I blame him. It was pretty bad. We also watched the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer claymation show from 1964 (I know, 1964, and it still holds up). We liked that one a lot although Andy was really scared about the Abominable Snow monster to the point that he cried he was so scared. That prompted a nice talk afterwards about how monsters aren't real and it was just a TV show.

Meanwhile, I am a little confused how I'm going to pull off this Santa business. The theories just don't hold up -- I tell him the monster isn't real, but then he's to believe Santa and Rudolph are? That doesn't even touch on how to react when we see Santa in the mall. Is that the real Santa? What about the Santa that just drove through our neighborhood on a firetruck? Good thing he's not doing any logic theorems on this or I'd be busted in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hester Prynne

Little Miss Margaret can stand. Problem? She can't sit down. Last night, as we entertained Vickie and Christian on a Monday of all remarkable things, she was having trouble settling down. After Andy came down tell me, "Mom, um, Baby Meg is crying," I went up to find that she was indeed sobbing -- real tears, no less -- as her arms were stuck over the side of the crib and she couldn't figure out how to get down. It was tragically adorable. She did sort of remind me of Hester Prynne there in the stocks. Wait, did the Scarlett Letter actually have anything to do with that or am I mixing my classics?

I believe we are days, if not hours, away from the cruising stage. Heaven help us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy Holidays

Hey look! A picture of the four of us! Together!
We went to Alexandria yesterday in theory for the parade of lights where boats are decorated for the holidays and cruise by. This sounded great except for two things -- apparently the parade started at 6 p.m., not at 4 p.m. like I thought (that's when the music started or something), and secondly, that is was snowing. We ended up tooling around for a couple of hours and then getting home late, like 6:30. Both kids were good sports even though it was late and cold.
Knock wood, but Meg is usually a pretty good sleeper. The problem lately is that she is getting up earlier and earlier, like the unholy hour 5:45 a.m., and eagerly and enthusiastically ready for the day. The books I've read say that an earlier bedtime actually makes them sleep later, but I'm pretty hard pressed to get her to bed at 6:30 p.m. like I want to. I'm a little curious to see how things are going to go when we're in Dallas, what with all the festivities, alcohol consumption by myself and falling back an hour to Central Time.
I also haven't exactly figured out the configuration for the plane. We got seats for all four of us (thanks, Mom!). Andy will be easy so long as the batteries to the DVD player work, but I haven't decided about Meg. She's long outgrown the baby car seat that would be really easy to hook into the airplane seat. We have a cool car seat/stroller combo (again, thanks Mom!), but it's a little bulky and I think I'd like to have a better stroller with me in Dallas. We don't need car seats since my mother has an extra set in her cars for my nieces. She's really a little too small still to sit in a seat without anything propping her up, and most importantly, stapping her down so she can't run anywhere. Thoughts and suggestions?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mundane excitement

The new washing machine arrived yesterday. It looks surprisingly...just like a washing machine. The difference is this one doesn't leak and is more energy and water efficient. The rest of it, well, eh. It was a nice Christmas present to ourselves though.

I initially really wanted one of those fancy front loaders, but the reviews from my friends and Consumer Reports was pretty mixed and for the additional $700, I wanted to get something I really loved that worked great. So instead, I have this basic white one.
The best surprise of the whole thing is the laundry room. I spent some time yesterday cleaning and organizing getting ready for the Sears guys. The result is a room that at least looks a lot bigger. I even figured out how to finally fold up the child bike trailer so I can eventually get it up into the attic.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Andy's language continues to explode. I swear, once a day he says something that I think to myself, "I need to write that down." And then it's gone and he's on to the next thing. Some of the stuff he says just cracks me up. Here are a few:

"No, I'm not ready just yet." What he always tells me when we're getting ready to leave.
"We haven't done that in ages!" He's latest favorite exclamation.
"I'm sad about that." Accompanied by pouty face.
"Let's look at the weather. Is it going to be sunny today?" He loves my weather station.
"Reuse. Reduce. Recycle." Thanks Bob the Builder!

He's also developing quite a repertoire about his boy parts.

"My penis is full."
Or the corollary, "I don't have to pee. My penis is empty."
"When you get big, you can get a penis, too." Lucky me!
"She doesn't have a penis." Usually something said relatively loud to the older lady at library or grocery story.

Updated: Andy had another gem I just remember. At bath time, the other night, he told me, "I'm getting so big. When I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be big. And I'm going to have a big penis." When I told Bjorn the story, he naturally said, "A big penis like his father?" but sadly for Bjorn, that's not what he said.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I did something nice this week. I wrote a letter to Andy's school telling them how great his teacher is. We really like her. In fact, there were a few weeks over the summer and fall where she was out of town and then working in the office. Those were not good weeks for us. Andy was out of sorts at drop off and never really seemed in sync. Once she returned, all that went away. She also seems to really care about him and is great about communicating with us.

I got the idea from the Ask Amy column. I'm a little ashamed to admit I read Ask Amy, but I usually start with the Washington Post by reading Page 3 of the Style section for the gossip. Then I go to the very awesome Carolyn Hax and then if there's time or I have the page open when shoving baby food into a person, I may read Amy. Anyway, there was a recent thread about giving teachers gifts for the holidays. A teacher wrote in to say the gifts are nice, but what they love are letters to the administration about their skills as well as homemade stuff made from the kids.

It was nice to write the letter. Better yet, by submitting it, I turned Ms. Paris in for an award with the school and she's going to get recognized. I sent the copy to the director and printed out a copy to give to her in person. I gave it to her at the end of the day and she told me the next day that she almost cried. How sweet is that? And yes, I am a little proud of myself. The whole experience was so great though that I am on the hunt for other great people that I can say nice things about.

Monday, December 01, 2008


It is so much fun having an almost four year old at Christmas time. Andy is so incredibly excited about all of it. He remembers Christmas trees from the year before, but the rest of it all seems new. Last night we hung the stockings (including baby Margaret Anne's, thanks Mom!) and he was thrilled to see his name. Well, until this morning when he started telling me that he wanted more Santa on his stocking although he's quite pleased that only he and Meg have bells on the bottoms on theirs.

Bjorn's mom gave the kids advent calendars and he was so excited to get up this morning and open number 1, not only because it has chocolate behind it. I tried to explain that we count down until Christmas and it's clear I need to teach the kid something about religion.

Me: Andy, whose birthday is on Christmas? Is it Jesus' birthday?
Andy: ...Birthday? Is it my birthday?

Perhaps I should invest in some religious toys like this one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I have two sets of baby monitors. One for each kids' room and two receivers for each -- one set in our bedroom and one set in the basement. It took some tinkering to get them to work as the frequencies have be set just right to not cause too much static. The system has worked pretty well -- until the battery died in one of the Fisher Price receivers.

I spent part of yesterday going to stores trying to find a replacement battery. I went to Radio Shack first and then finally Wal-Mart. I finally bought something that looked and sounded right, but I got it home and it didn't fit. Damn.

Today I called Buy Buy Baby first who doesn't have any batteries in stock. Then I called Target. The nice lady on the phone (who most likely lives in India) took my information and product info and said that the Fairfax Target has 50 batteries in stock and if they didn't have it, certainly Fair Lakes or Skyline would. So I got to the store, full of convinction, only to find out that they haven't carried it in months. The not particulary helpful sales clerk begrungingly called Fair Lakes who had "something that might work" but he couldn't promise anything. Damn. I looked on Fisher Price's Web site and they don't offer parts. And the instruction manual says to call Fisher Price to get another battery, but naturally they're not open. Grrrr.

Why do manufacturers do this crap? Can't they just settle on a type of battery and make that the industry standard? And why do stores like Target sell products requiring batteries that they don't carry?

Update: Turns out, you can buy spare batteries through Fisher Price. Not that that's obvious on there. If you Google the monitor and battery replacement, the 19th thing that pops up is a Fisher-Price page where through the third page, you can buy replacement batteries for $3.50. I ordered two, just in case.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We started the day at the home of old friends. I hope someday to have good friends we see every year that we've known for nearly 50 years. The thought of getting to see our friends' kids and their familes someday is a really cool thought.
As always, there was lots of football watching. Fortunately (finally!), the Cowboys looked pretty convincing. Texas also looked pretty good against Texas A&M.

My grand idea for the day -- a craft activity. I hit A.C. Moore on Wednesday before picking up the kids. I was initially looking for a great deal on some Thomas crap for Andy for Christmas and instead settled on Christmas ornaments and painting supplies. Nicole and Ryan were very good sports helping Andy with his (note the bib he's using as a make-shift smock). The bigger kids even made ornaments before the evening was out.

Beautiful art. If you're family, ignore this picture as you'll be getting these for Christmas. I personally love this kind of stuff.

Meg is fascinated with hanging upside down. Tor was holding her at the Young's and all she wanted to do was throw her head backwards in delight. Too bad she polished off a day of being a beautiful, good-sported, angel baby without a good nap by having a croupy cough last night.

A gorgeous turkey and the master co-chef. Margareta and Bjorn shared cooking duties to the culinary delights of the rest of us. I think they are even still speaking to each other after being forced to share an oven and stove for hours.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rant du Jour

I am thankful for so much today -- a great family, good friends, our health, good jobs, the works. What I'm not thankful for? The National Zoo continuing to send me mail to my e-mail address, but addressed to addressed to Bjorn even though I applied for the FONZ membership, paid the dues and am the only one to have visited the zoo in the past four years. But because he's the man, all correspondence is addressed to Bjorn. Not even Bjorn and Katherine or Bennetts or something. Just Bjorn. What is this, 1950?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As you may recall, we decided for our anniversary to splurge and get new windows for the upstairs. I had initially wanted a new washer and dryer, but it made sense to go with the windows and put off the appliances since they weren't broken, they just seemed to take a long time. Well, cue to this evening. I was doing a load of laundry only to notice it spewing water from underneath it mid-cycle. Fortunately, we have a cement basement floor so the water just ran off into the nearby drain, but this indicates that we will have to replace the washer after all. Guess what we've giving ourselves for Christmas? And to think people say old marrieds are boring.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we're all very excited. Bjorn and his mother are preparing a feast for 11 and I plan to get the place picked up and presentable before 3 p.m. showtime. I do like hosting the holiday events here. With Meg being so little, it's just so much easier to have all my stuff nearby and not have to spend the whole time defending against her pulling down something terribly heavy heirloom that will not only break, but also crack her skull. I know, I'm funny like that. We have a lot to be thankful for this year, including family willing to accommodate us.

I'm very excited about Christmas in Dallas that is only, gasp, three weeks away. I'm a little nervous about how we're going to cram the children onto a plan, much less all our stuff and presents. I keep noodling various plans about which car seat and stroller combination to bring and sadly, nothing so far stands out as the clean winner. Andy will be fairly low maintenance so long as the DVD player battery holds (note to self: must check that) and the flight attendants deliver juice and soda, but Meg is an entirely different animal who thus far cannot exactly be reasoned with.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Playing together

Everyone said it would happen, that eventually, my kids would start to play with each other and I am proud to report that it's finally true. Granted, them playing together isn't the same as them gently walking off together into a bedroom to quietly do a puzzle together. Rather, it's more he decides to crawl on the floor with her or present a toy to her that he thinks she'll find interesting. I will caveat this by saying it's far from the norm. More often than not, he is stealing whatever toy she is playing with or complaining loudly that she's trying to "get" his puzzle. The signs of progress are there, however, and I'll take what I can get.

Meg is truly crawling everywhere now. I spent a large chunk of the weekend, it seemed, redirecting her from whatever it was that she insisted on getting into the middle of, like Andy's puzzle or the cat food container. She's also figured out how to open one of the kitchen drawers (fortunately, the one with Andy's cups and bowls in it) and she loves pulling everything out. With all this wigglyness though, it's becoming a huge struggle to get her dressed and undressed. Diaper changes are also becoming more of a struggle.

Andy continues to make great strides in his language, both verbal and written. My mother sent a note for a Andy to fill in with his requests for Santa. We wrote some words and he practiced tracing them. He's slowly getting the hang of sounding out some letters, but for the most part, when he knows a word know it's because he's memorized it in context. Like he knows Target and Home Depot because of their logos. Damn those branding people know what they're doing.

We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I, for one, plan to celebrate by eating and drinking too much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drama queen

I am a bit of a drama queen it turns out. I know, you never thought me and queen would ever be in the same sentence, but it's true. Meg has been sick this week and I spent almost as much time worrying about her as I have been worrying about how tough it is on me. I'm a little ashamed of myself, but what self-respecting parent isn't always a little ashamed of him or herself most of the time?

I took her to the doctor today for what was initially a follow-up to her nine-month visit three weeks ago. I had to bring her back because at her visit, we discovered she had an ear infection and her pediatrician didn't think it prudent to give her the proper 9 month vaccinations (Hepatitis B part 2 and the flu shot). So today we went in, three days after Bjorn took her in on Tuesday with her fever. Fortunately, woke up this morning in good spirits. She had developed a weird rash the day before on her face that was also gone today. Dr. Staats could make it out a little and suspects is was related to the fever. I was thinking it was due to the strawberry yogurt things I gave her earlier as an earlier attempt to introduce strawberries made her face break out. I'm relieved it's not an allergy, especially since she hearts these little things.

Meg was a trooper at getting her two shots. She looked scared, but only really cried on the second one, I believe because she knew it was coming. Andy was incredibly sweet and wanted to hold her foot to help her feel better. I nearly melted.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Report Card

I had my first official parent-teacher conference last week. I'll admit I was excited about the idea of sitting down with Andy's teacher to discuss, naturally, how perfect, smart and wonderful he is. The report was about what I expected, he does a lot of things at school that he doesn't do at home, like help with chores and that type of stuff. In general, he's probably a little above average in his letters and sounds, but much more clearly above average in his numbers and even has some basic math skills down.

He is a good kid at school and plays nicely with the other children in his class. We talked briefly about this one little boy that seems to scare Andy a bit (the dreaded Aiden, who will most likely be his best friend next month). She's aware that the other kid is a little overzealous, but says Andy is generally quite good about telling another kid to leave him alone if he's bothered (I wish I could say the same for myself). I got a copy of the report -- a six page, small-type tome with check marks beside all the various factors indicating his mastery.

Some areas for him to work on are writing and coloring, using objects to explore (i.e. tools, shovels, binoculars, that type of stuff) and using charts. I asked what kinds of charts nearly four-year-olds are expected to do (Powerpoint? Excel?), but basically that means kids about that age want to start recording milestones and other stuff in chart form. It's funny, since the meeting, I have been making a point to offer him more opportunities to draw and use tools for examining stuff. He is definitely making strides in his ability to color and even write his name. I have also noticed him asking me to make a chart for this or that so tonight we're going to make a "no-crybaby" chart to record the times that he doesn't cry and whine about certain things. If only the chart would truly make the crybaby behavior stop.

In the meantime, I'm home with Meg who has a sort throat, diarrhea and a fever. Bjorn took her to the doctor this morning and the good news is she doesn't have an ear infection. No word yet on if the sore throat is strep.
P.S. It's gotten cold here, so cold it even produced light flurries today. You know what that means? That's right! Cute babies in hats!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Thanks for all your support about exchanging an anniversary present for a new washing machine. I did a lot of asking around and couldn't find a washing machine that I loved that met all the requirements. And since the one we have isn't broke, we decided to spend 50 times as much as the watch and get new replacement windows for the upstairs of the house. I know, I know, and to think they say romance is dead.

Our anniversary on Friday was very nice. Jennifer came to babysit and Andy loved getting to see her as well as eat Wendy's and watch two movies. Meg was blissfully asleep the whole time. The restaurant itself was quaint, but not as good as I remembered 14 years ago. That could partly be because my entree came with a sauce with stealth green olives that made my stomach hurt.

After dinner, we walked around Adams Morgan. It was buzzing on a Saturday night and it was funny to see what the 20-somethings are wearing these days when they go to get their drink on. Most of the bars we frequented back in the day are gone now, as is our beloved Burritos Brothers. We talked about how cool it would be to be urban pioneers, like our friends Armando and Wendy, who have had downtown addresses half a dozen enormous foreign and domestic cities. Then we went home to our quiet house in the suburbs and realized that mostly quiet at 11 on a Friday night was kind of nice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy anniversary, who wants a washing machine?

Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary. In some ways, the last 3,650 years [corrected: er, days -- thanks Aime. I imagine the time has gone by slower than I thought.] has gone by relatively quickly, but on the other hand, I look back on some parts (like when Andy was a newborn) and I can tell where time crawled. We are going out to dinner tonight where we had our first date. It's a little restaurant in Adam's Morgan called the Little Fountain (Jennifer is kindly babysitting for us .)

Well, to call it our first date isn't exactly right. I technically had a boyfriend at the time and Bjorn was taking me out "as friends." That night, we had dinner followed by a Japanese movie with subtitles at the Kennedy Center. When I told my boyfriend about my evening, he told me I'd been on a date. I denied it, but obviously he was right. And here we are.

So far, Bjorn has given me a beautiful pair of earrings, a manicure kit (that is very cool despite the way that sounds) and a beautiful silver and diamond watch. The watch, unfortunately, lacks a date or day function, which I absolutely must have since some days I'm not sure what day it is so the watch will get exchanged.

Bjorn said when he was shopping, he almost got me instead one of those front loading washer and dryers I have been coveting. He said he didn't get it because he was afraid I would say it wasn't romantic enough. So my question to you, how bad is it that I want to return his lovely jewelry offering to spend three times as much on a washer and dryer? Keep in mind the ones I want come in RED, which no doubt in 10 years will be like me snubbing my nose at olive refrigerators and beige dishwashers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crawling, crawling everywhere

Meg is crawling...everywhere. It's hard to walk in the room she's in because she's all over the place, finding some small leaf or pebble to lick and put into her mouth. It's very cool to see her and hear the little thuds of her hands when she makes her way through a room. It is, however, a lot more work making sure she's not into something she really shouldn't be into or sticking something else into her mouth that is bad.

Andy loves to be her little protector. Except when she's trying to eat his puzzle pieces or take a toy away that he was touching. I imagine I am in for 20 years of "she's touching me." What's terrible is I can't wait. I know, I'll change my mind shortly, but for today it's pretty awesome.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Catching up

With the election over, we spent the weekend catching up on chores. The son of a neighbor came and did the lion's share of our leaf raking (without asking to be paid although Bjorn did slip him some cash) because his mother said we had been too busy with the election. That or she really thought our yard looked like crap. Josh did about 25 bags of leaves and Bjorn did another 10. All that and we still have leaves on our lawn. So in an exciting weekend, we did leaves.
Planted bulbs at Margareta's.

Made a baby laugh (okay, not a chore, but how cute is this picture? Who cares if it's not part of the theme.)


Bjorn replaced the kitchen sink.

And the babies looked all adorable (again, not part of the theme, but how cute are they?) This isn't Meg's best picture, but I liked that both their heads were in the frame so I can see how really similar they look. Her mouth, sadly, is always open these days. I actually don't mind it being open like this because she has also discovered how to grind her teeth and it. makes. me. crazy.

Election fatigue

With Meg figuring out how to crawl, I'm just getting around to posting some classic election photos for the archives. Here is Andy, clearly tired and bored with the whole thing. The Wednesday after the election both Andy and Bjorn were exhausted. I let Andy get in bed with Bjorn since I had a soccer game that night and it was 7:30 and Bjorn was already in bed. I went downstairs to get dressed and found them both sacked out.
I am excited for all the work Bjorn put in (I was only an enabler). I have told Bjorn I really want to attend an inaugural ball. Sure, everyone says they're stupid and overpriced and hoity toity, but I want to go to one in my lifetime and this seems as good as any.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Crawling and other irritating things

Meg is crawling. It is SO awesome. She gets so determined and pushes her little hands and knees forward. She is really getting places. I know, I am s-c-r-e-w-e-d. I have totally forgotten what it's like to have a little person crawling around, pulling up on random boxes and bookshelves and re-distributing the contents after first licking everything. It's adorable and amazing and all that great stuff. And also, so totally annoying.

She's also babbling up a storm. She's saying a whole lot of nothing, but she really authoritatively shouts, "Ga!" or "Ba!" I have been working no her by saying, "Say Mama. Ma-MA!," when she starts to talk to me. Andy often sits next to me saying, "Say Andy" or "Say brother." That part is all adorable. What's annoying is Andy has started calling me Mama. And it really bothers me. How weird is that? Bjorn thinks it's cute, but to me, it's like he's making fun or me. I guess I'm so sensitive that I don't appreciate a nearly 4 year old mocking me.

Friday, November 07, 2008


The election is over. I am thrilled about this for many selfish reasons. This means the robocalls that seemed to come on the hour will stop. The negative ads from both campaigns will finally end on TV and the radio.

It also means I will get Bjorn back. The guy has been volunteering many hours toward the campaign. It's been cool to watch the mechanics of a campaign, but I have missed having him around to play with us. I'll admit though that I've loved meeting all the volunteers who came to Virginia to help in a swing state. Last weekend, I met a nice retired couple from Bakersfield, Calif., who came to Virginia for two weeks to campaign. They were here on their own dime because they cared about the issues and wanted to make a difference. How cool is that? It never occurred to me that people did that kind of stuff. When I get older, I want to take cool vacations like that.

We have also had volunteers come down on weekends all the way from places like Delaware and Connecticut to campaign, not to mention all the locals from D.C. and Maryland who crossed the bridge to try to make a difference. Like their politics or not, that kind of activism is pretty cool.

On election night, I volunteered to be a "poll watcher" at the voting station at my local elementary school. I was there with a nice lawyer from Reston who was there to watch as well. She really knew her stuff, I was just standing there. However I think the other poll workers presumed I had any idea what I was doing. My job was to oversee the process and look out for any monkey business. There was none of that, rather there were probably 15 people who worked all day -- from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. on election day to make a difference. Clearly, everyone had their own political beliefs, but all they really cared about was doing their job well. That was remarkable to see as well.

Virginia has electronic, touch-screen voting. At the end of the day, they print out the receipts from the machines on these little paper tapes, like receipts. Then they get added up, checked against previous tallies, checked for anything funky, signed off by workers from both parties before finally being officially tallied and posted on the door. My precinct had more than 80 percent voter turnout on Tuesday. Just amazing.

Now that the election is over, I can go back to my previously scheduled life.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This and that

Apparently my kids don't understand the concept that "fall back" daylight savings is the good one where you get to sleep an extra hour. Instead, they seem to believe they can stay up later and wake up earlier. Good times. So in lieu of a decent post, here are the highlights:
  • Meg can crawl. No, not fast. Yet. But she gets up on her knees and actually ooches forward.
  • Meg doesn't seem to answer to Meg, or even Baby Meg, but her head turns for Margaret.
  • Andy is obsessed with a book we found on the shelves about Professor Poopypants. It's a chapter book in the Captain Underpants series. In Googling it for this post, I found the Professor Poopypants Name Changer. My name is Flunky Toiletsniffer. You're welcome.
  • Bjorn has been working hard on this election for Obama. He was up until 3ish last night walking a route and putting "Vote" doorhangers throughout Fairfax. The cooler thing is he took a 17-year-old neighbor and her boyfriend to get a route, too. (When I typed that, it somehow seemed sketchy taking a teenager and her friend out at midnight, but it really isn't. Promise.)
  • I got a job working the polls today at my local elementary school. It's a non-partisan job. I get to stand outside the school and hand out sample ballots. Then after the polls close at 7, I get to help as they add up all the numbers. I'm actually pretty excited about it. I hope it's not totally lame.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Wearing Costumes Day

Friday was Halloween. Actually, for Andy though, it was Wear Your Costume to School Day. It never occurred to me that Halloween was anything really except an excuse to get dressed up and pass out candy. But apparently some people and religions take the whole pagan holiday thing somewhat seriously and don't celebrate it. I can sort of see their point, I mean, if you are religious, it seems that dressing up to celebrate a known pagan ritual is probably a pretty serious breech.

What has amused me is the amount of serious backlash from people who believe those people should just "get over it" and be American already and stop taking away all the fun holidays like Christmas from the other kids. Not that I've had the nerve to say it in person, rather, I just politely nod and file it away, but the answer for me is to put your kids in a private religious school and you can celebrate all the Christmases and Easters that your heart desires.

Bjorn's impressive Jack-o-Lantern. You can't really tell from the darkness, but the pumpkin guts are coming out the mouth of the pumpkin like he's "puking." Andy and Bjorn thought that was just hilarious.
Their other Jack-o-Lantern who seems to be feeling fine, thank you.

Andy showing off the bat on his face his teacher painted on for him.

Little Miss Lobster. I intended to put her into a pot like Dylan over here, however, I didn't have a pot big enough for her sturdy 23 pound frame.

Andy in his Thomas the Tank Engine costume as Jennifer paints no. 1 on his cheeks. We all his the cul-de-sac together, then Jennifer later took him to a few more houses and he loved it!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nine months

My precious darling angel baby went in for her nine month doctor's visit today. She was in very good spirits and seemed perfect (just like in this picture), only to find out she has a double ear infection. The only bonus to the ear infection is it delays her getting her shots for another two weeks. She did have to get her toe stuck to draw blood to test for anemia. The nurse had me hold her in my lap when she drew the blood. I winced, but Meg just kept chewing the top on the baby Tylenol and didn't flinch. She clearly has a much higher pain threshold than I do.
Here are the stats:
  • Weight - 23 pounds, 10 ounces -- 95+ percentile (I think it's really 100+, but her doctor is clearly sympathetic to her being a girl and doesn't want her to get a complex so early.)
  • Height -- 29 inches -- 75-90 percentile
  • Head size -- 18 1/2 inches -- 95+ percentile.

The long and short of it (heh) is that she is a big, healthy girl right now. Someone asked me if I was worried about her weight. I am not and generally I find that to be such an odd question. She's a baby. She's not even crawling yet so it's not like I could get her to exercise even if I wanted to. Do they want me to put her on Atkins or something?

The truth (according to my one experience) is that babies bulk up in the first months of life when they eat a lot and aren't that active. Then at about a year, they go off high-calorie formula/breast milk and start eating peas and chicken. At the same time, they get so busy with cruising, crawling, walking and generally cramming toys into their mouths that they get taller and leaner without really getting much heavily.

That said, her size is practically killing my left wrist. I plan to do some shopping this weekend for some type of baby backpack to shift the weight. With Andy going all sorts of places, including many that are not stroller friendly, I really need some way to carry her. She's basically gotten too big for the Baby Bjorn so I am leaning towards some type of Kelty Baby Backpack. Any other recommendations?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A little bit OCD and Pre-Halloween

Andy is going through a slight OCD phase. He recently went through and paired up all the shoes in the house. He also went through all the toy bins in the house (there are several in various locations on three floors) and collected all the stacking cups to put them in order (see picture below).
From when he was a baby/toddler, I think I have three or four sets. They are all made from different manufacturers obviously since some start at with the biggest at 8 and work to one and others start with the biggest at 1 and go to 8. They are also a colorful assortment. After we located all we could find, he spent time organizing them by number. I'll admit I'm totally proud of how his mind is really working these days. Well, when his mind isn't totally focused on how to solicit another cookie out of me or Bjorn. Aw, hell, I find that pretty impressive, too.

We went to the Halloween festival in the neighborhood and I snapped this picture. The lighting is a little too bright (which is sort of good since you can't see the candy remnants on his face unless you really look for them), but I just love how it turned out.

Here he is posing at the festival with his Thomas costume on. After he got a few pictures taken and proudly pointed out the other three Thomases we saw there, he took it off so he could properly jump on the moon bounce and climb the slides.

We went to a Spooky Lunch on Saturday and Andy proudly decorated a pumpkin, which is now adorning our front porch. At this party, he also started with his costume on and promptly took it off after a few group pictures. He has now worn his costume twice. He now has to wear it to school on Friday and then out trick or treating Friday night. I would say we have definitely gotten our $22 worth. After I bought it, he spent two weeks refusing to even try it on so
I am thrilled that he has worn it at all.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Meg got her bottom front teeth a few weeks (months?) ago. Since then, she's been working on her front two teeth. The one on the right is fully broken through and the one on the left is slowly working its way down. Somehow is the slow unfolding drama that is her two front teeth, I failed to notice that she's getting FOUR others. That's right four. She's now also getting the two on either side of her front two teeth and the two on either side of her bottom two teeth. I know, great parenting at work.

After two rough nights of Andy waking up saying he was "scared", i.e. he woke up and wanted attention, he slept okay the last two nights. In more good parenting, on Wednesday evening, I offered him the rest of a package of cookies (five in all) if he slept through the night without waking Mommy or Daddy. I wasn't even ashamed when I served him five Keebler cookies for breakfast Thursday morning. He earned every one in my opinion.

Yesterday, I stocked up on some Nutter Butters to reward him with this morning. At least I got cookies with peanut butter, right? It does have twice the amount of protein as an Oreo (I actually checked.) I think part of what's waking him up is he's starting to wake up when he has to pee. He's not exactly sure what to do about it yet, because I think the urge is waking him up, by but then he's peed in his diaper. I'm keeping an eye on it though in case this is a good opportunity to work on staying dry at night. Frankly, I'm not too worried about it, but if he's ready, I'll give it a shot, so long as it doesn't mess with my sleep too much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nearly three years ago

While cleaning out my e-mail, I came across this picture Bjorn took on his phone from Andy's first haircut. (I made Bjorn take him without me because I didn't think I could watch.) What is amazing to me looking at it is how similar he and Meg look as babies (he's about three months older than her now in this photo). They have the same gianormous heads that thankfully they were not born with. It's also cool looking at the picture below to see how he's grown into that face. I am excited to see where this goes.
Course, I would be more excited if Andy hadn't gotten up in the middle of the night two nights in a row, exclaiming, "I'm scared." What he was, was looking for attention because he sure wasn't actually scared of anything. I am amazed that in many ways (knock wood), Meg as a baby sleeps better than Andy as a pre-schooler. What's up with that?