Wednesday, October 31, 2007


While waiting in the grocery store line we saw a burly and bearded man dressed in an emerald robe and wearing a crown. Melissa was delighted. "Princess!" she squealed with delight pointing. "Princesses! Princess!" The woman behind us hooted with laughter while the kingly man tried to maintain his dignity and made a point of ignoring us (guess he didn't have much of a sense of humor). I apologized to the man and tried to correct her, but Melissa would not be dissuaded.

I bet that is the first time the man had ever been called a "princess." Oh well, the woman behind us remarked that that was the funniest thing she had heard all day. At least we made somebody's day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We were driving in the car and Matthew piped up, "Grandma gets lost." "Oh? Grandma gets lost?" I queried. "Yeah. Grandma gets lost if I don't hold her hand, so I hold her hand."

"When I grow up I will come back and visit you and give you a hug and kiss. I will leave my kids with a babysitter to come visit you," Matthew explained. "Well, I think Grandma likes seeing you, her grandson, and I bet I'll like seeing your kids too, just like Grandma likes to see you." He thought a moment and then brightened, "Oh! You're right! I'll bring them too!"

"I was a cute baby, wasn't I?"

"I just tricking you!" One of Matthew's favorite explanations for his mischief.

"I am big, but 6 and 7 year olds are really really big!"

I a Pretty Dirl!

A conversation between Melissa and Jonathan:

M: I a Pretty Dirl!

J (somewhat taken aback): Yes, you are a pretty girl.

M: Dada, you a pretty dirl!

J: No, I am a handsome man. You are a girl; I am a man.

M: Datthew a man?

J: No, Matthew is a boy. Matthew will grow up to be a man.

M: Datthew drow up man?

J: Yes.

M: Mama a pretty dirl?

J: Mama is a pretty woman. You will grow up to be a woman too.

M: I drow up woman?

J: Yes.

This was a little beyond Melissa.

M: I a pretty dirl!

J: Yes. Good night.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A letter to Uncle Chris

Dear Uncle Chris,


I broke my toenail. I went to the doctor to fix it. He cut it off part of the toenail and put a band-aid on it. I got shots in my toe. I walked slowly with the blue band aid on it. It's feeling better.

It needs a 2. "Why?" It just does. 222222

I had fun with Mason. (Mason is Matthew's friend)

I went to church happy. And what did I learn about Dada? I don't remember what I learned about. (Jonathan was teaching his class today).

My pet is sick, my penguin pet. (a stuffed animal)

We hanged the pinata at my birthday party. We broke it. With a bat, by whacking it. Ate cake. And opened my presents.

I got sick on Wednesday. "You weren't sick on Wednesday." A long time ago on a Wednesday I was.



Sunday, October 21, 2007

Classic Peanuts

Our neighbor came over to our in a panic and wanted to use the phone. Apparently her one year-old baby had locked her out of the house and her two older children were still sleeping inside and couldn't wake up open the door for her. I gave her the cell phone to call her husband. Meanwhile their baby was crying on the opposite side of the door, while she tried to calm him. Thankfully her husband was only 5 minutes away at this point. This brought to mind a similar unfortunate occurrence...

When Matthew was about 17 months old I took him on a very memorable shopping trip. I'd forgotten to bring a toy and he was getting restless. I gave him my keys which entertained him enormously. We finished shopping, I loaded the groceries into the car, and put my purse in as well. I then buckled him into the car seat and closed the car door. I'd parked right beside the cart return so I pushed the cart in and reached for the driver side door.


Oh crud!!!

Matthew had found the lock button on the key chain. I tried to coax him into push the unlock button to no avail. In a panic I ran back into the store and grabbed a clerk with a phone (my cell phone was conveniently locked along with my AAA card, d'oh!). We called the police and waited and waited. I think Jonathan was teaching a class at the time which is why I couldn't reach him... Thankfully it was early March and pretty cold outside so Matthew was in no danger of overheating. The store employee even brought some blankets out to cover the glare from the sun and help keep things cool. I played peek-a-boo with him for about 15 minutes. He was amused at first but became distressed when I didn't open the door and join him. He then started a full baby wail. It tore at my heart. Poor fellow! I wanted nothing more than to come to him. I got to the point of requesting a brick to bash open a window, but decided to wait a few more minutes.

Thankfully the locksmith arrived shortly thereafter (maybe 30+ minutes total wait time?). Matthew was getting frantic as was I- but I didn't want to show it for fear of freaking him out even more. The locksmith did his work quickly and then informed me that they don't charge in instances where a kid gets locked in, but they strongly suggest a $50 donation. I wonder if the man know that at that moment he could have named his price. I'd have written a check for any denomination. Matthew snuggled up next to me saying "Mamamama" Then I had to put him back into that dreaded car seat in order to get home. He was not thrilled, but I bribed him with some candy.

He took a very good nap that day.


  • The kids watched Star Wars with Jonathan on Thursday night (orchestra night). Matthew is a huge Star Wars fan after playing Lego Star Wars over and over... Every time the movie cut to a new scene he'd excitedly exclaim, "They made it to the next level!
  • Matthew's speech therapy is going well. He can now say "k" sounds and intermittently "f's" instead of "s". He proudly announces to strangers on the street and store clerks that he is now "five" instead of "ssive". Melissa also insists that she too is five.
  • Last night we took the kids out for ice cream. On the way to the ice cream parlor Matthew piped up, "I want blue ice cream!" Not to be left out, Melissa chimed in, "I want red ice cream!" This went back and forth for a while, the kids happily shouting out their favorite colors, when Matthew slipped and said he wanted red ice cream. Melissa corrected him, "No Dachew, you like blue one!" At the store Melissa changed her mind and said she preferred the pink kind. Good thing too, because there was no red ice cream to be had.
  • We can't leave anything out on the counters or on top of the refrigerator any more. Mostly we are pretty good about keeping it clear of tempting and/or dangerous things, but every once in a while we slip. One morning Jonathan caught Melissa on top of the counter happily helping herself to potato chips. "Mmmm, chips! Licious! Mmmm!" (Daddy is a bit of a softy, and gave her some chips at the table before putting the rest away in the pantry.)


Matthew tattles on Melissa.  (Melissa got into the cookies!)  Melissa tattles on Matthew. (Matthew's playing with markers!)

I hate tattling.  But Melissa made me laugh when she was mad at Matthew but didn't have anything to pin on him at the moment.  "Mom!" she tried, "Matthew did something."

A cheap table

My grandmother once said that, as far as furniture was concerned, "Ethan Allen is the cheap stuff."

If that is the case, we just ordered another cheap table.  We checked R C Willey and Granite first (my grandmother would have been horrified) and could not find anything that was not laminate -- the kind that you can scratch with your fingernail, for the most part -- or weird, like one that was all stainless steel.  Or just shoddy construction, like the one that was perfect except that it wobbled if you breathed on it wrong.  That would have lasted Matthew about a month.

We also checked a place called Campo that imports solid wood furniture from Mexico.  But Rachel didn't like any of the styles they had.

So at Ethan Alen we got what was I believe the cheapest table in the store.  The saleslady called it "virtually indestructible," and I think she might be right.  (She kept going on and on about how high-quality EA furniture was, blah blah blah, so I told her about my grandmother to shut her up.  It worked.)

The price on the table itself was actually quite reasonable.  Then they really nail you on the chairs.  (You wouldn't want chairs that don't match, would you?)  All told it was almost $3000, or 10x what I paid for our current cheap table and chairs (a glass-topped iron model that is really patio furniture) 8 years ago.

Darn inflation.


Matthew's favorite birthday present was a late one: Uncle Ellis gave him and me Nerf dart guns.  There was much shooting and laughter in the basement last night.  (I am a better shot than Matthew, but our hit rates were about the same because I am a much bigger target.)

It's a good thing Ellis gave us some extra darts too.

Darts lost by Matthew not paying attention when he fired somewhere in the kitchen: 1
Darts chewed up by Melissa: 2

(I thought she was done with the "let's chew up random stuff for no particular reason" phase.  Good grief!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Those glow sticks sure smell bad when you chew them open

Grandma Ellis sent the kids some glow sticks for Matthew's birthday and the run-up to Halloween.  We gave them one each to start with; then Melissa bent the rest of hers, starting the glow reaction, so I gave those to her too.   She preferred them bent into bracelets.

Some time after putting the kids to bed we heard a disturbance from Melissa's room.  Rachel wearily asked me to investigate.  I poked me head in the door and Melissa told me "Ow, tongue!"  I smelled something funny.  She'd been chewing on one of the glow sticks and sure enough one was broken open and she had glowing yellow liquid on her.  I got her a drink of water (I tried to get her to just rinse and spit but she drank it) while Rachel called poison control.

Turns out it is caustic, as Melissa found out, but not really dangerous in small amounts.

In some ways Melissa is an easier child than her brother.  But we have never had to call poison control for Matthew.  This is twice for Melissa.  (The first time, which I don't think I blogged, was when she ate a handful of Tums.  Which is funny, because Rachel would rather endure heartburn than eat those.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's 10:30 PM

I know where my children are.

In particular my son is in his room, making various not-sleepy noises.

Uh-oh, the water is running. Now he has incurred the wrath of Mommy.

I predict a cranky boy tomorrow.

Why some people never have children

Actually, I think five-year-old birthday parties are pretty low down on the list of reasons why some childless couples choose to remain that way.  But that's only because they don't know how bad it can get.

Last year, Rachel let Matthew invite six (?) friends to a party. Four came. It was fairly manageable.

This year, counting on a similar acceptance ratio, she let him invite nine friends.  All of them came.

Perhaps the best summary was offered by Rachel's friend Jessica, who stayed for the duration of the party with her two daughters that Matthew had invited -- one a little older than he, the other a little younger -- and two younger sons.  I don't know why she stayed.  Maybe she just didn't want to drive back and forth again since she lived about 10 minutes away.  But I think it was more likely simply morbid curiosity, just like you can't look away from a train wreck you know is coming.  

Anyway, Jessica pointed out that "Wow, little boy parties are very different from little girl parties.  Little girls like to sit, and talk, and follow instructions.  They don't hit each other or wrestle or run off away from the activity."  Which our guests did constantly.  When there wasn't anything obvious to hit each other with, like Matthew's lightsabers or swords, they'd find something else.  Like teddy bears.

Rachel reminded me that "testosterone starts affecting boys' brains in the womb."  I believe it.

Matthew's party theme was superheroes.  (Of course birthday parties need a theme!)  Rachel tried to get him to accept an offer of a pirate party, but he would have none of that.  As a compromise of sorts, she managed to get him to broaden his demands for a Buzz Lightyear party into one to which all superheroes would be accepted.

Mostly Rachel wanted a pirate party because it's incredibly easy to come up with pirate-oriented activities for attention-challenged youngsters.  But she did pretty well with the superhero theme: first there was a "training camp," with races and bean bag throwing contests and the like.  Then there would be a "mission," where Rachel had a trail of photo clues leading from one location to the next and finally to a pinata.

We did have to improvise briefly after the last training episode -- a race around the house.  Matthew fell and threw a tantrum, some of the other kids were arguing about who cheated, two kept having sword fights, and at least one was inclined to wander off and explore the house.

Rachel called an emergency meeting of superheros, with popcorn.  The heros ate the popcorn with gusto and order was (briefly) restored.

Then we did the photo clue mission, which went as planned except for the oldest guest running around picking up clues out of sequence, which left me running around putting them back.  Then the pinata was duly destroyed, candy was put into bags for when they left, cake was served, and presents opened.

Then everyone left, we swept up all the popcorn and cleaned away the cake, put the kids down for a nap, and fell asleep exhausted ourselves.

The party ran from 11 to 1, but what with pre-party cleaning and preparation, and post-party cleanup and recovery, it really was an all day thing.  (I woke up from my nap at 5.  I needed it.)

I wonder if there's a way to distract Matthew from having a party when he turns six.  Maybe if we're out of the country for all of October, for instance... 

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Either he's in for a big surprise or I am

Today Matthew wore a suit to church.  (After all, he is now a big five-year-old.)  After Primary he was really excited to tell us that Emma told him he was handsome.

Emma is the neighbor girl he has decided he is going to marry.  (Why?  "Emma is nice."  What about [some other girls]?  "They are not as nice as Emma.")

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Toe trauma

Thursday night is when Rachel practices with her orchestra. (She is viola chair this year.) Thursday is also, not coincedentally, when Daddy takes the kids out for fast food.

This past Thursday I took the kids to Burger King. Matthew rushed ahead. "I want to open the door!" He heaved it open with all his might.

Unfortunately, his toe was in the way, and he was wearing sandals.

He shrieked and kept shrieking. I could see that it had started bleeding but I didn't think it was that bad; Matthew's prone to exaggeration in such things, particularly when he sees his own blood. I carried him inside and put him on a table where I could look at his toe.

It was a mess.

The toenail was shattered and the toe itself was bleeding pretty badly, for a toe. It was bad enough that clipping away the toenail mess myself didn't look like an option.

So I carried him back to the car and bucked him in, still shrieking. Then I went back and collared Melissa, who had run ahead to the slide. She didn't want to go but was fairly philosophical about being caught. "Matthew ow, toe."

We drove down to the instacare a couple miles away. Matthew wasn't in that much pain but he was still freaking out in a big way. I reached back and held his hand, and he made some efforts to calm down by singing, but it was only partially successful.

When we got to the instacare the receiptionist gave him a lollipop and he calmed down instantly. Then some other kids came in and saw his injury, by far the coolest in the waiting room, and started talking about times they hurt themselves. Matthew was pleased with the attention.

It was a good thing that he calmed down because we had a long time to wait. We got there at 7; they closed at 8; we were done at 10. By that point both kids were way past their bedtimes and fatigue was taking its toll on Matthew's composure. It didn't get as bad as my flight back with him from NJ when everything caused massive and noisy hysterics, but it was definitely causing extra crankiness.

First they took x-rays to make sure it wasn't broken. I was sure it wasn't but it's Procedure dammit. At least it didn't add that much time to the wait. Then they got him on the operating table. The doctor took a closer look and didn't like what he saw. "It's deeper than I thought," he said. "He'll need anaesthetic for me to trim the nail. We can either do that with a local here, or you can take him to Primary Children's where they can knock him out through the nose." I'd had needles in my toe when I had a doctor attack an ingrown toenail very aggressively. (He tried to take out the root so it wouldn't grow back. It grew back anyway.) It hurt like hell but I survived. General anaesthetic can have rare but nasty complications, especially if you're young. So I opted to take care of it then and there.

I and a tough-looking nurse held Matthew down while another nurse gave him three barrels of novocain. He screamed again. "I don't like medicine!" Now that I don't blame him for in the least, poor kid. Then it started to go numb and he figured he was good to go home, but we had to wait another 20 minutes or so for the novocaine to be at maximum strength before the doctor could operate. The nurses and I praised Matthew for being Tough.

Fortunately a kind nurse took Melissa into the staff office and gave her papers and crayons at the table during this. She had reached her own limit of how long she was willing to sit still and listen to stories, and we'd exhausted the few child-safe amusements of the OR (tongue depressers and... that's about it), so I was very relieved.

Matthew's toenail was just generally mangled at the front. That needed to come off. But it was also split down the middle almost to the base. The doctor gave me the choice of removing it completely or trying to save it with a little superglue -- the danger being that if he caught it on something it could very easily rip it open along the seam. I opted for the superglue. When he started in, the toe was so numb Matthew didn't even notice, so he put a couple dissovlable stitches in instead of the glue since the stitches are stronger.

Finally we headed for home. That's when Rachel got home, saw the house dark and deserted, and freaked out a little herself. I'd called a couple times but she'd left her phone home. When she called she was relieved that we hadn't been in a car accident or worse.

When we got home Matthew couldn't wait to tell Mom his adventure. Novocaine is wonderful stuff. We gave him some codeine before tucking him in so hopefully the pain wouldn't wake him up during the night. It didn't.

By today he is running around normally, not favoring his toe at all. Kids heal fast.

Travel update 2

So it turns out that January is about the worst possible month to visit Tahiti as weather goes (temperature, not shown, is also lowest in the US summer months when rainfall is lowest). Conversely, US winter months are the best for the Philippines.

Both get roughly the same amount of rain ("a lot") in their rainy season. (The Tahiti graph is in mm -- 15 inches is about 380 mm, so they peak at about the same rate.)

Rachel has put me in charge of getting passports. ("I'm sure you'll get the job done. Plus, I don't want to deal with it!")

Friday, October 05, 2007

Travel update

I did look at some French-speaking African countries. Morocco is currently very popular with Europeans looking for something different (and cheaper). Here is one good Morocco blog by an American.

The main drawback is that these are very Islamic countries and although foreigners are left alone, a Moslem who converts to Christianity is not treated well there. (Since under Sharia the penalty for apostasy is death, I suppose they're making progress, technically.) Perhaps not coincidentally the LDS church does not have much of a presence there.

So we're going to leave these off our list. Besides the part about your religion making you a second class citizen, the church is also a support group of sorts, and when contemplating a drastic change like this it's nice to know that there will be some people there with whom you at least have religion in common.

Madagascar was the only French-speaking country that did have an LDS church presence. But it seems very, very third world. (One ISP I found touted as a selling point that their equipment only uses 25 watts! "Easy on batteries, generators, or solar panels!") Their recent history probably has something to do with that.


  • Melissa was sitting on my lap being cute the other day when she unleashed a series of four loud, moist farts. How unladylike! I was a little shocked, not that a two year old would do such a thing but at the juxtaposition with her picture-perfect cuteness in every other respect. She looked up at me and grinned her dimply grin. "Bubbles!" she exclaimed, clearly pleased with herself.
  • Today Melissa was on my lap again. "How were the kids today?" I asked Rachel. Melissa chimed in, "Machew dood boy." [Matthew good boy.] Rachel confirmed that it was so, and I praised Matthew. "Were you a good girl?" I asked Melissa. "No, I not dood dirl, I dood boy." "Silly little miss, you're a girl!" "I not dirl!" "You are!" "I not!" I changed the subject: "Toes!" I tickled her and there was much giggling.
  • Matthew copies letters and words and really wants to read, as long as it doesn't require any concerted effort. (We are on reading lesson 10... a month ago we were on 9.) He tries to guess words based on context. He claims he can read "Exit" on doors, which works fine except when the door actually says "1st floor," as one did today.
  • Rachel has labels on the linen closet shelf to show her well-intentioned but slightly oblivious husband where things go. Matthew copied the "Towels" label (you wouldn't think I'd have trouble with that one, but Rachel was thorough) and placed his next to his mom's. With his own duck tape. That label is manly.