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!