Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The funny post that wasn't

I've written before about how I can't seem to write funny, but I've been working, with varying degrees of success, on humorous pieces for the blog. I've managed to get questions posted over at Dear Frannie, and my rant about the Tooth Fairy garnered me more comments that I've ever gotten on a post - ever.

So as I was trying to fall back asleep at 1:30 this morning after being woken up by Campbell, I started writing a funny post in my head about how my family is conspiring to prevent me from ever getting a full night of sleep. It started like this:

9:00 - Fall asleep while reading in bed due to the after effects of a migraine.
9:15 - Get woken up by Lily and Ella, who arrive hand in hand to inform me that Lily's belly itches. I suggest maybe she has too much gack in her belly button and shoo them back to bed.
9:30 - Get woken up again by Lily and Ella, who arrive hand in hand to inform me that something is making scary noises on the front porch. I tell them it's just Grey Kitty and shoo them back to bed.
9:35 - Hear wailing from the girls' room and get up to investigate. Find both girls in the top bunk crying about said scary noises. Poke my head out the front door and confirm that it is indeed Grey Kitty chasing a leaf around. Inform girls of discovery and put them in separate bunks.
9:45 - Fall back asleep.
10:00 - Get woken up by Elizabeth, who wants to eat.
11:00 - Get woken up by B, who is finally home from a meeting with clients.
12:00 - Get woken up by Elizabeth, who wants to eat.
1:30 - Get woken up by Campbell, who starts crying every time he coughs. Give him a touch of cough syrup and a cup of water. Start drafting this post while trying to fall asleep.
3:00 - Get woken up by B.

And this is where I stop trying to be funny.

B has this weird thing with his heart where it decides to go haywire every once in a while and it gets out of rhythm. The first time it happened, we were in Lower Podunk, Louisiana, visiting his brother and sister-in-law. B woke me up to tell me he needed to go to the hospital. By the time we got to the ER, which was half a mile down the road - the only hospital for 40 miles, by the way - his heart rate was over 200 and he was having a hard time staying conscious. The ER nurses at first didn't believe him that he hadn't had any crystal meth or heroin and ran a tox screen on him.

The docs there tried several different medication that should have gotten his heart back into rhythm and lowered his heart rate, but none worked. I freaked out when they brought the crash cart into his room before administering one of the drugs. It ended up taking close to 12 hours to get his heart back to normal, and he spent 2 1/2 days in the hospital.

Last night his heart went haywire again. Fortunately, his heart rate didn't go through the roof, but his heart beat went arrhythmic and wouldn't settle back down after an hour. So he went to the award-winning heart hospital that is two miles from our house.

The docs gave him the medications that should have restored his heart's rhythm, but they didn't work. Finally, they had to to put him under twilight anesthesia and zap him with the defibrillator. I arrived at the hospital shortly after the procedure, while he was still loopy from the anesthesia. I was able to take him home at 11:00, and he's been asleep ever since.

It's been a long day here, but at least B is safe at home. Now if I can only get some sleep.

And I'll try for funny another time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The stealth child

My mom has always referred to Lily as the "Stealth Child" because she looks so innocent and sweet that you would never suspect her of being up to no good. Ella has an impish grin that lets you know when she's done something slightly devilish, but Lily just bats her big blue eyes and lies through her teeth.

Last night was the perfect example. At bedtime we always instruct the girls to put on nightshirts and clean panties, and until last night, we thought they always complied. Ella danced past to the bathroom to brush her teeth, but Lily sauntered by. Something made B ask if she had put on clean panties. Lily said yes, but when B gave her the raised-eyebrow stare, she admitted that she hadn't changed panties. When he told her to go back to her room and try again, she said, "But I never like changing panties at bedtime!" which elicited a collective groan from everyone in the room.

A few minutes later Lily came out of her room to show us that she had on new panties. This morning, when I climbed into Lily's bed to give her morning snuggles and wake her up, I discovered that she had indeed put on new panties - over the dirty ones.

She had obeyed the letter of the law, if not the spirit.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The same outfit on two different babies, eight years apart. Who is whom?

Everyone talks about how much Elizabeth looks like Lily, but I see more of Ella in her. Elizabeth may have blue eyes and fair skin like Lily, but her face and smile are all Ella.
The top picture is Ella, by the way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Must be Stopped

The whole Tooth Fairy routine around here has gotten way out of hand, and I'm not sure how to return to simpler times. By the time all four kids lose their baby teeth, I the Tooth Fairy, will have lost my her mind.

Things started out easily enough. When Ella lost her first tooth, she got a special silver dollar and four quarters. But then her friend M lost her first tooth, and the Tooth Fairy left a note and fairy dust. So when Ella lost her next tooth, she left a note for the Tooth Fairy asking for a note back and for a picture. So I the Tooth Fairy wrote a note back in very swirly writing and drew a picture of what one might assume was a fairy. Ella was thrilled and still has the note and picture.

Things went along normally from there until Ella lost a tooth at a slumber party. The hostess mom told the girls that if Ella left out a jar of water, the Tooth Fairy would dip her wings in the water and turn it a special color. Ella came home with a baby food jar filled with pink water that is now on display, for all perpetuity, on her bookshelf.

Of course, the next time Ella lost a tooth at home, she just had to leave out a jar of water for the Tooth Fairy to dip her wings in. There's now a second jar of colored water on display.

When Lily lost her first tooth, she left a note for the Tooth Fairy, and of course she got a note back, along with a special silver dollar and four quarters.

But things are getting more complicated now. Ella lost a tooth this past weekend while on a camping trip with B. And since I the Tooth Fairy wasn't on the trip, she didn't get her usual dollar. Ella set out her tooth the night she got home, but I the Tooth Fairy fell asleep before taking the tooth and leaving quarters. When I got Ella up the next morning for school, she started crying, saying, "It can't be time to get up! The Tooth Fairy didn't come yet!" Boy did I the Tooth Fairy feel awful.

The next night Ella left a note for the Tooth Fairy asking all sorts of questions like, "What do you do with the teeth?" and "Is there just one Tooth Fairy, or are there lots of you?" Before she went to sleep, Ella asked me whether the Tooth Fairy was really me. I paused a second and then asked, "What do you think?" She said she thought there really was a Tooth Fairy. She is believing as hard as she possibly can.

I The Tooth Fairy left a note saying that she used the teeth to build castles and that there were lots of Tooth Fairies who took turns visiting kids. Big mistake.

Ella brought the note in the car to school and showed it to her friends M and L. M said that she always had the same Tooth Fairy because her Tooth Fairy always writes notes in the same backwards handwriting. And that her Tooth Fairy draws really cool pictures of herself. M's mother Tooth Fairy is an artist, so of course she can draw cool pictures. B*tch.

Then Ella and M started talking about how their friend O also has the same Tooth Fairy every time, which led Ella to ask me why she has different Tooth Fairies.

That's when I fell apart. I started ranting about how when I was a kid I didn't leave notes for the Tooth Fairy or get notes from her or jars full of water. I just put my tooth out and got a quarter in return. That's when L, a boy in the car pool, said, "You didn't get five dollars?" I started shouting, "Who gets five dollars for a tooth? That's ridiculous!" All the kids just laughed at me.

Later in the day I called M's mom Tooth Fairy and told her it was all her fault that I couldn't keep up with Tooth Fairy shenanigans. She in turn blamed another mom Tooth Fairy who started elaborate traditions for her daughter.

So parents Tooth Fairies, I'm putting out a call to stop the insanity before I lose my mind. Let's return to a simpler time of the simple exchange - one tooth, one dollar - without notes or jars full of colored water or fairy dust scattered around the room.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Summer is the cruelest month

It's carnival time over at One More Thing, and today's topic is one that's been on my mind the past few weeks - Summer. Why? Because I.HATE.SUMMER.IN.AUSTIN.

I hate it, there's no other way to put it. I hate the heat, the days on end with blistering sun and white-hot skies, the Ozone Action days that cause migraines and asthma flare-ups.

I really and truly believe I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summers. I get depressed and hate having to leave the house. My running, which has a tremendous effect on my mental health, always suffers in the summer heat, which makes me feel even worse.

Right now, the weather in Austin is spectacular. (Well, not today - we're supposed to have storms.) The mornings are cool and the air just feels good. And as much as I love the springs here, I know they are harbingers of the heat to come.

If I ever win the lottery, which would require my actually buying a lottery ticket, the first thing I'm going to do is buy a summer home in the Adirondacks. I know it can be cool and rainy in the summer up north, and my mom swears that it snowed during a camping trip in July in New York, but I'll take cool and rainy with a chance of snow any day over 100+ degree heat for weeks on end.

We have lots of resources here in Austin to escape the heat. The city is rife with pools, but the idea of loading everyone into a hot car to go somewhere just exhausts me.

So I tend to hibernate inside with the AC cranked up to 11 and deal with whiny frustrated kids who seem to be impervious to the heat. Perhaps they don't mind the heat because they're native Texans, while I am, as my husband likes to remind me, merely a Yankee.

Until the heat arrives, I'll be spending as much time outside as I can and throwing the windows of the house open wide, enjoying the cool spring air while I can.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Once upon a time

Twelve years and one day ago . . .

she married him . . .

and they lived happily ever after . . .

so far.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Beezles in "Pace"

I "met" Cheryl through Wendi. When I visited Cheryl's blog, I came across her adorable creations - Beezles - and I instantly fell in love with their scrawny legs and buck teeth. So I was delighted when Cheryl announced that she was selling Beezles on Etsy. I visited her shop and dithered over whether to buy a Beezle of my own, but in the end I decided that I just couldn't bring another thing that needs to be dusted into my home.

Instead, I bought a mixed media creation with Beezle robots in space. It complements Campbell's favorite quilt, which he calls his "pace" blanket. The quilt has squares of vintage fabric with 1950's style space robots. I think I may ask Cheryl if she'll create a few more little Space Beezles for me so that I can have a small collection to hang in Campbell's room.

Campbell loves the Space Beezles picture so much that he carries it around with him, saying "Mine! Pace!" I'm going to wait for the novelty to wear off before I attempt to hang it up. Otherwise he'll spend his days trying to figure out how to get it off the wall - and that can only lead to more trips to the ER.
(you can click to embiggen the picture)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Missing the elephant for the trees

Once a year or so, I get a wild hair and turn into Cruise Director Julie and decide to organize different outings for the kids. And me being me, I invite lots of people to come along thinking it will make things more fun. I'm a "the more the merrier" kind of person.

I turned into Cruise Director Julie again this week, organizing an outing to the San Antonio Zoo on Tuesday since the kids are on spring break. I invited a bunch of other moms and their kids. Two other moms, LR and LE joined us, plus their kids, and we took one of Ella's classmates with us. So that made for 3 moms and 9 kids total. That's a lot of noses to keep track of.

Part of the reason I wanted to take the kids to the zoo was that I thought Campbell would really love seeing all the animals. Turns out, not so much. He liked the monkeys, standing in front of their enclosure laughing hysterically and asking to go in with them. And I think he liked the hippopoptomi hippopotimeses hippopotomuses hippos and the leopards, but that was about it. He was supremely uninterested in any of the other animals.

Here he is with the girls watching the gibbons, who were playing tag and making quite a racket. Campbell laughed and laughed and yelled, "Wait me! Wait me!" at them. He didn't want to stop watching to go find other animals.

Once we left the gibbons, Campbell spent most of his time running around. While we were all marveling at the lions, the kangaroos, the hyenas, and the tiger, Campbell ran around this tree about a zillion times, cackling all the while.

We spent the longest in front of the elephant enclosure. We happened to get there just in time for the zoo keeper's presentation, and we had an excellent spot to watch. As you can see, we were maybe 15 feet from Lucky the elephant. Campbell could have cared less. While the other kids were lined up along the fence, hanging on the zoo keeper's every word, Campbell entertained himself by climbing up and down the fence and, when he got tired of that, by sitting in the stroller eating cookies.

I don't think he even noticed the 7,000 pound elephant right in front of him. I kept pointing to the elephant and saying things like, "Look at his trunk, Campbell. Oh look, he's lifting his feet." But Campbell just kept on climbing the fence and eating cookies.

We left the zoo just as it was getting hot and crowded, and just as the kids were beginning to melt. I think everyone had fun, even if Campbell didn't notice the animals.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It's carnival time over at One More Thing, and today's theme is Friends. I wrote a rather long post in my head at 2am while I was up feeding the baby AGAIN, but now I can't remember any of it. Sigh.

So now I'm writing something different.

One thing my "real world" friends don't get is my relationship with my bloggity friends. I'll say something like, "My friend Soandso told me suchandsuch," and a RW friend will ask how I know Soandao. When I say, "I know her through blogging," my RW friend will inevitably give me a strange look, like I'm a five-year-old talking about her imaginary friend Princess Puffyfeathers.

But I don't care. Even though I've never met these women, I do count them as my friends. That's not to say every blogger whose blog I read is a friend, but the ones with whom I communicate off-blog, or with whom I trade lots of comments.

There's Fishygirl, who has become a good friend in the year-plus we've been reading each other's blogs. She's also a mother of four, but has two more years experience with it, so she can talk me off a ledge when I get frantic about how hard it is. Plus, she's really cool.

There's Wendi, who is one of the funniest writers I know, and who has become a RW friend to boot. Double score.

And Barb, whom I met before she was a blogger then reconnected with after she started blogging and then she up and moved to New Jersey, so now she's a bloggy friend again.

I can't forget Kate, the sponsor of this whole carnival thing. I started reading her blog last summer after MadMad (another wonderful bloggy friend) did a guest post, and Kate and I started exchanging e-mails, and one thing led to another, and now I consider her a bloggy friend. Plus, her mother-in-law makes mine look positively normal.

I'm very glad I have all these extra friends in my life - there are more I haven't mentioned because I was up with the baby all night and I haven't had my coffee yet. I love reading about their lives and getting their e-mails and sharing my life with them.

(I may read this later and cringe at what I've written, pre-coffee.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ah, spring break

The kids started spring break today, and I couldn't be happier. We don't have any plans for the week, except for the San Antonio Zoo tomorrow, and that's just fine with me.

The morning routine had descended into pure chaos the last few weeks, especially with the start of DST. Most mornings I was having to drag the girls out of bed by their feet and propel them into the kitchen to eat. I also found myself yelling things like, "I don't care if your socks feel 'weird,' brush your teeth now!" It wasn't a fun way to start the day for anyone around here.

The after school rush had gotten hard, too. On Mondays Lily has ballet right after school, so I would have to shove a snack in her while cramming her into her leotard and tights so that we could sprint downtown and find parking. Ella has rock climbing practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so she was always getting home after the rest of us had eaten dinner. Bedtimes on those nights are particularly hard, and Ella always wakes up cranky the next morning.

But this week we don't have to be out of bed at any certain time, we don't have to rush out the door in the mornings, and we don't have any after-school activities. Bliss. Plus, after a week of rain, the weather has turned lovely, which means I can shove the kids into the back yard to play when they get on my nerves.

We all needed this week of nothingness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Random knitting things

Thing 1.

The other night I pulled myself together and organized my stash, what there is of it. Ella wandered into my room during the process, and her eyes positively lit up when she saw all the balls of yarn scattered on the floor. I had to shoo her away with the promise of some of my leftovers before she could dive in and help herself. B witnessed the exchange and just sighed, saying, "You're indoctrinating her early, aren't you?"

Thing 2.

I had lunch a few weeks ago with a friend who is a non-knitter. She knows I knit, so she told me a story about her neighbor. The conversation went something like this:

J: My neigbhor knits, and she loves to show me her yarns. They're all from alpacas raised in the Peruvian highlands or something.
H: Yes.
J: The yarn is all hand-dyed and spun and costs a small fortune per skein.
H: Yes.
J: She gets together every Saturday morning with friends, and they knit and then go to lunch and knit some more.
H: Yes.
J: So none of this sounds strange to you?
H: No.

Thing 3.

A friend from high school, R, is in town this weekend for SXSW, and I met her for dinner last night along with another friend from school, J (but not the same J as in the last story), who moved here last summer. It was fun to get together with them. R and J had seen each other this summer at our class's 20 year reunion, which I had missed. I hadn't seen R since graduation, 20 years ago. Anyway, R is a knitter, so we had dinner at Guero's on South Congress precisely because it's across the street from Hill Country Weavers, which I had promised R I'd take her to.

After dinner we strolled up the stree to HCW and promised J we'd try not to scare her in the store. She said she promised not to touch anything, and R and I both immediately said, "No, that's the point of going! You're supposed to pet the yarn and feel how soft it is and think about what you'd make with it." J looked a little concerned. She really did spend most of her time in the store sitting in the corner, trying to stay out of the way, while R and I wandered around exclaiming over the yarn. I had thought maybe we could convert J, but no such luck.

Thing 4.

After a few weeks of almost no knitting, I've gotten back in the swing. The rough spot I went through during the last few months sort of sucked my will to knit out of me. But now I'm back. I've finished one sock for B and have a good bit of the second done. I also finished a gift for a friend who just had a baby. Now I need to manage to get the gift to her before the baby grows out of it. I can't wait to get B's socks done so that I can start on socks for me out of the Mini Mochi I bought while shopping with my mom. Plus I need to knit Uncle T a hat, not that he'll need it for months and months.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Look, grown-ups!

That's what my dad said when he saw this picture of me and B. We went to a wedding last weekend and got all duded up in grown-up clothes. I even wore lipstick AND stockings. B wears real clothes fairly often for his job, but never a suit and tie. It was a big night out.

We tried to get a good picture of us with Elizabeth, but she wanted no part of it. She behaved herself very well all evening, only blowing a few raspberries during the ceremony, but by this time she was tired and ready to go home - as was I.

Now if we could only get a good picture of us with the four monkeys we call children. But I think that may be asking too much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The larch

Ten points for anyone who gets the reference.

And now for something completely different . . .

I figured I'd take a break from the photos of my greats and grands for the day to show off Elizabeth, who turned five months old last week. She has more than made up for her shaky start - at her four-month check-up she was on the regular growth chart for weight, length and head size. Just this last week she stopped needing to be swaddled to sleep, AND she's been going to sleep on her own without needing to be nursed. (I feel like I shouldn't even say that last bit out loud just in case I jinx myself.)

Here are some new pictures, just because she's so cute that I can't help myself.
Here she is with her "twin" Bitty Baby. When Elizabeth was born, she was smaller than the doll. Elizabeth also figured out how to catch her feet this week, which has provided her with an endless source of entertainment.

Elizabeth still sleeps in her cradle in our closet, but she does like to nap in our big bed. I usually put her in the bed during the day so I can hear her when she cries if I'm in the front of the house. I can't hear her if she's back in the closet.

And finally, another adorable hat from my mom. B says she looks like a baby Rastafarian, which is appropriate since the hat pattern is the "Marley."

Monday, March 09, 2009

More pictures

I had so much fun going through the old pictures for Saturday's post, that I decided to put up some more. But first, to clear up some confusion on names. We called my grandmother "Nona," but she wasn't Italian. Her name was Mona, and somewhere along the line, someone dubbed her Nona as a nickname. She was Scottish. And her mother was named Ella, but we called her "Lala." Lala's husband was William Henry, or Harry to friends, but grandkids and the like called him "Boppy." Confused yet?

These pictures are of Lala and Boppy.

Except for this one. This cute little guy is my dad - RunnerDude from the comments.

This is Lala outside her house in Scotland in 1921, which makes her about 22.

Here are Lala and Boppy from 1960. The photo says it is the HMS Carolina's North Cape Cruise, but I have no idea what North Cape that might be. My great-grandparents and grandparents cruised A LOT, mostly because for much of my great-grandparents' lives that was the only way to get to Europe. My grandmother went on so many cruises on the Holland America line that she became an honorary admiral of the fleet and always got bumped up into a two-room suite with a private balcony. I went on two cruises with her as a teen-ager, and she just loved to sit in the shade and read or knit or do crossword puzzles. It was her idea of a perfect trip.

I LOVE this picture of Lala; she is totally vamping for the camera. The man with her is her brother-in-law, Rob Hill. I have no idea what year this is from. Rob was married to Lala's sister Evelyn. Rob and Boppy were best friends, and apparently they both arrived to take out the Robertson girls and had a discussion ahead of time about who was taking out whom. I guess it all worked out in the end.

More pictures tomorrow!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

One year later

Today marks the first anniversary of my grandmother's death, and it is still hard to believe she's gone. Last week I was telling someone about the "Big House" and I couldn't remember some detail. I said, "I'll have to call Nona and ask her." Then I teared up because it hit me, again, that I can't just call her.

But instead of dwelling on the sadness, here are some fun pictures.

Here she is at the beach with her father, William Henry Brown, known to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as "Boppy."

This was taken in 1940. I love the hat. The dashing man is her brother, William Donald Brown. Many family members think my dad looks like his Uncle Donald. In fact, when Uncle Donald was courting his wife, he took my dad, who was five or so, with him on a date at the Central Park Zoo. Aunt Rose Marie later told us she was convinced that Uncle Donald brought my dad along so he could break it to her that he had a son.

This was taken in 1946. From left are Great-granny Robertson, for whom my sister is named, Nona, with my dad on her lap, and Ella Robertson, Nona's mother. My Ella is named for her.

And finally, Grandpa Tom and Nona in 1995. I love this picture of them - they look so happy. Granpa Tom died in 2006 of cancer.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Getting better

It's been about six weeks since I wrote this post about how things weren't going well at all. I worried a fair number of people with it, which wasn't my intent. I just needed to get my feelings out there.

Since then I've been more honest about how I'm doing with my closest friends and family. And I've been asking for help more often. Things are going better.

That's not to say I'm not still overwhelmed, because I am. Take yesterday afternoon for example. I was working on a fun but complicated homework project with Ella when Lily sliced her thumb with the apple peeler. Even after I got the bleeding under control and her thumb bandaged in a glow in the dark SpongeBob band aid, Lily was crying like she had cut her thumb off completely. So I sent her to her bed to snuggle with a lovie, and she promptly fell asleep. While all this was going on, Campbell was following me around asking for milk and for me to pick him up. And Elizabeth, who still won't take a bottle, wanted to eat. Argh.

I'm still exhausted most days. From 2:00 to 5:00 each morning seem to be the witching hours when Elizabeth and Campbell both wake up repeatedly. I end up sleeping in fits and starts, which is almost worse than not sleeping at all. Many nights, I fall asleep as soon as I get Elizabeth to bed at 9:00, which means I don't get to spend a lot of time with B.

Despite still being overwhelmed and exhausted, I am doing better. The biggest change is that I've made a concerted effort to take better care of myself on a daily basis so that I don't get to the point of writing a frantic blog post or running away from home.

If I can't make it out for a run, I put the baby in the stroller and go for a walk, just to get outside. I've managed to meet a friend for lunch at least once a week so that I can have contact with adults other than my husband. I've treated myself to a pedicure and to a few new items of clothes. I'm sitting still and knitting or reading more instead of worrying about laundry and dishes, and I'm setting regular work hours out each week so that I'm not cramming work in whenever I can. I also told my project manager that I can only handle 10 hours of work a week so that she knows what to expect.

So it's all still day by day, but things don't feel as bleak as they did a month ago. Bit by bit, things are getting better.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Post number 601

I hit a landmark on Sunday without even realizing it - I published my 600th blog post. I started on blogger in November 2006, but I'd been writing bloggish posts on my own website for a while before that.

At first it was an effort to remember to post on a regular basis, but now it's become such a part of my day that it feels odd not to post something. There are days when I write multiple drafts of different posts but then scrap them all because they aren't working. But mostly, I write and publish every day.

So here's to 600 posts down and at least 600 more to go.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fourth Place

We went to Dallas this weekend for a climbing competition. Ella placed fourth in her division, which is pretty cool considering she was the youngest one competing. More importantly, she had lots of fun. This was a traditional comp, with roped climbing. B was Ella's belay partner throughout the day, and it was really fun to watch them working together.

I think the above picture says it all.

Here she is on her last climb. My camera's flash wasn't strong enough to fight through the gloom and swirling chalk dust in the gym.
I asked Ella what the best part of the weekend was. She said, "I got a ribbon, a climbing magazine and TWO stickers!"
Goodness I love that girl.