Tuesday, July 6, 2010

* * * * Huh? * * * *

Some days, [interruption] I [interruption] think I've given birth to Fred and George Weasley. Some days [can't hear self think] I think I'm the mother of Beavis [chaos] and Butthead. Some days I don't know the difference.

Today I am the mother of Rodgers & Hammerstein [interruption] because [interruption] the boys made up an epic broadway style song about molecules, complete with harmony and crisscrossing [loud lip-brrrr-ing and siren like loodle-loodle-loodle sounds] vocals [I'm getting dizzy] stuff [William filling every last crevass (or molecule) with sound effects and falsetto singing and questions and explanations of the abstract and clarifications and jokes about pyramids that I don't get]

* * *

What was I talking about again?

Why is it I don't blog anymore?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's in the Pudding

Proof that my kids are on some kind of natural hallucinogenic drug:
Mom, tired, distracted, tries to put off kids' clamoring by telling them to go find out what color the neighbors' jumpy house is. Kids return one by one, asserting, "It's PINK!" Mom takes them to party -- complete with yellow and green palm-tree themed jumpy house and not a sign of pink.

Proof that kids will buy anything:
William: "Mama? What is that not very nice, really...yucky...smell?"
Mama: "Hmm? I don't know. All I smell is this really yummy dinner I'm cooking!"
William: "Oh. Oh yeah! There's the yummy part!"

Proof that I'm out of practice as a carnivore:
Alex: "It's foggy in here!"
William: "The house is on fire!"
Mama: "What? Oh. Oh! Um... No, that's just the yummy meat smoke." Mutters to self about the exhaust fan, dammit.

Proof that kids are awesome:
William and Alex, running full tilt through the first floor, eyes alight, grinning from ear to ear, shrieking with glee. "Meat smoke! Meat smoke! Race me through the meat smoke!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dr. Phil Show #1

One of the Dr. Phil episodes we saw taped was on Thursday. Here is the most you see of me during the show (thankfully -- don't know if I could have stood seeing my whole face).


I am not the jowly old man. I am the one on the left above the show title (in the purple shirt and gray coat).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Perhaps I'd Better Audit that Pinocchio Movie a Wee Bit Better!

Thanks to my mom, I enjoyed a few hours of freedom tonight, attending a friend's play.

My mother, on the other hand, enjoyed a show from my boys, courtesy of the monitor (post bedtime).

A glimpse into the minds of my sons -- twisted as always.

###

William: I wish for a little Pinocchio who could make my wish come true. I wish I may, I wish I might, make my wish come true tonight. I will put Pinocchio in the closet at my house.

Alex: If they find him, they will shoot him.

###

William: I wish for a real boy named Pinocchio.

Alex: I wish for a real boy, Pinocchio, to shoot all the bad guys. He has to shoot all day to get all the bad guys.

William: But what if he has to go to school? I want him to go to school.

###

William: Honest John has a silent "H" -- so it's Ohnest John. Honest isn't a word because it sounds too scary that way.

###

William: Maybe Nana has a different "come down" time. Like a hundred -- that's a long time.

Alex: That would make me really mad.

###

Alex: I don't like it when she spanks me. [Nana: I don't spank them!] But I really like and love Nana a lot!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun at the Mall

William: "Mama? Can you please turn on your signal so that strangers who want to kiss us can follow us where we're going?" (What the...? Um, NO.)

Making wishes at the mall fountain...

Alex: "I wish..."
William: "NO! DO IT IN YOUR HEAD!"
Alex: "NO! I WANT TO DO IT IN MY MOUTH!!!"
(Strangers staring)
Alex: "I wish that I can throw this penny into the water and make a wish!"
Me: "Excellent wish. Excellent chance of coming true."

At The Gap, checking out, chatting with clerk and maintenance guy...

Clerk: "How are you boys today?"
Alex: "When boys grow up? They become mans, right?"
Clerk: "Yes, aren't you cute?"
William: "Actually, I was hoping that I might get to be a girl when I grow up. I am going to ask the doctor."
Maintenance Man: (face wobbling from efforts to stifle laugh) "Well, good luck with that."

And then there was the whole joy where someone loosened the lid on a vial of perfume at Sephora and carefully replaced it in the bin upside down so that an unsuspecting victim (moi) would come along later, lift the vial while distracted by jabbering children, and dump a quarter cup of cold, wet fragrance down their forearm. Let me tell you, they named it Clean, but in quantity like that? Not so clean. I can still see the stink lines coming off my hand an hour later.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thanks, Sprout

In the words of Grouchy Smurf (the kids being on a Smurf kick lately), "I HATE commercials." For this reason, I am not a fan of Sprout. Too many ads leading to strangeness like this morning.

My three-year-old. "Mama, I want rug cleaner!"

"Rug cleaner???"

Both boys tear their eyes from the television screen. "Yeah! The Rug Stick! We want that! When are you ever going to buy it for us?!"

"I don't know."

"It's taking too long! The man says 'order now'!"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dr. Phil Says Scream or Else!

“Look. The Hollywood sign.”

I tried to take a picture with my phone to send to my sister, who we’d roped into watching our boys all day, but my phone camera sucks. Looked like a gray blur. Just as well. My sister lived in that area for years doing movie makeup. It was more of a geographical tracking thing than a brag about being somewhere she wasn’t.

The day was gray. The bus was dim, cold, full of groggy people. Quiet but for the drone of the motor and the hiss of the air vents.

I was wondering when someone would finally stand up and say something to our group – forty of my husband’s coworkers and/or guests. Something like hello. Or welcome. Or Drew Carey has the flu today, so all of you giggling over the t-shirts you made to wear later on the Price Is Right are going to be sorely disappointed. Or anything.

I thought maybe they’d do it when we made it through traffic and got to our first stop, The Dr. Phil Show at Paramount Studios.

Wrong.

We pulled up in front of the building covered by a Wyland whale mural, and before the bus’s brakes were set, a blue blazered studio page was leaping up the stairs.

“Okay!” He was jarringly chipper for the early hour, his loudness a harsh contrast to the muffled sound before. “The show is starting! We have to get you all out of here and into the studio ASAP! No cell phones or cameras! Leave them on the bus!" Waving his hands, "Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Suddenly, we were all on our feet, flinging electronic devices onto the bus seats as though they were about to detonate and running like mad through a roped-off line area and through security.

“Go, go, go!” They kept rushing us. “Dr. Phil is about to go onstage!”

Thirty seconds before, we’d been half asleep. Now we were racing into a studio full of screaming, clapping people. Music blared, the bass line shaking the floor. Lights flashed.

A toweringly tall Blue Blazer urged us toward seats in the front row of the back section. Other pages were waving their arms around, demanding that we scream, clap, act like Elvis was re-entering the building. Cameras were everywhere. People were going nuts!

Then this big Mafioso type came swaggering out on the stage, waving blue Dr. Phil mugs. With a meaningful leer, he pumped one mug-filled fist toward a section of the crowd, and they went nuts. [Enter man with mugs, said the screenplay in my head. "Clap or the mugs get it!"] He did this a few times, urging bigger applause with a tight smile that also promised broken knees to those who didn’t comply.

Then another Blue Blazer was directly in my face. As the announcer’s voice thundered that the moment we’d all been waiting for was here, the man himself, blah, blah, blah, the page furiously scanned the crowd and suddenly settled on me.

With an imperious finger, he said, “You! With me!”

I was on the run again, across the center aisle and down a perpendicular set of stairs straight toward the stage. A shorter Blue Blazer directed me like a taxiing airplane toward an empty seat in the center of the second row. I didn’t have time to remove the “Reserved - Guest” card from my seat. I flung my purse down and obeyed the fleeing page’s final orders to throw my hands in the air and scream like I’d won the lottery (mimed at me, of course – couldn’t hear words at this point to save my life).

And then he was there. Not Elvis, alas (or perhaps fortunately at this late date), but Dr. Phil. Maybe three feet away from me on the stage. So strange!

I stood among a gaggle of what looked like teenage girls from the corner of my eyes and pretended that my life’s dream had just been fulfilled, wondering what on earth prompted the page to choose me to come on down. I wished that this was American Idol or something where it would be fun to be down front. I had an unusual moment of self-esteem where I wondered if I looked cute that day or something (ha). I wondered if it was because my shirt was purple, like two of the ladies in my row. Then, more like my usual morbid brain, I suffered a moment of paranoia that this was some bizarre form of intervention set up by my friends and family. Any minute now, Dr. Phil would look down and tell me to come on up. Then I’d be picked apart on national television and never show my face again. Luckily, this was not the case.

At last, it was time to sit, hands stinging from forcible clapping, and I suffered the pangs of self-consciousness, wondering how to sit and resist the urge to rearrange myself. Remember, not five minutes before I’d been half asleep on a gray, drab, silent bus. There had been no time for primping. Imagine someone coming into your room at dawn, shouting you out of bed, racing you downstairs and telling you to jump, scream, clap, make it convincing, and then have cameras aimed in your general direction that the entire world could watch you on ad infinitum.

So what was our show? A follow-up with a family of fourteen children who’d been abused by their cult-leader father. I hadn’t seen the original show – sorry, I don’t watch it – but the giant video screens filled us in. Cheerful.

Things calmed for a minute or two after that. He decided to redo the intro with a warning for parents to make their children leave the room before the episode began. He made a few different versions. I started to relax, nothing being asked of me for a minute. The girls next to me jingled and rattled as they adjusted their clothes, their bracelets, figured out how to fold their hands in their laps. Some older women behind me murmured to each other about how sad this one was, remember when they saw that show, etc.

After a minute, stage hands dragged out a camel-colored leather couch, an end table, and a matching chair for Dr. Phil, positioning them on tape markers. A glass of water was placed with extreme reverence on a very specific spot upon the table.

Show time again. Dr. Phil came back. More video footage was shown of the struggles of the grown children of this family, and then three of the sisters came out. They were very near, since I was in the second row. I listened and thought the craziest things. I obviously wasn’t genuinely in the moment. I was worried about how to hold my face – how to seem engaged enough to be worthy of my mosh pit seat, but also how not to react in an offensive way to their story since they were looking right at me half of the time, it seemed.

I found out why it seemed like they were looking at me a minute or two into the show. The man directly in front of me in the front row started saying, “Amen,” in an increasingly loud voice as they spoke. I had just enough time to wonder if maybe the audience got rowdy at this show, when Dr. Phil turned toward him and said something about how their brother had something to say.

Then I knew. I was sitting with the family. Lord. Hopefully not surrounded. I could just see trying to get a job someday and someone saying, “But aren’t you part of that cult? I saw you on television!” I hadn’t thought about the laminated “Reserved – Guest” card before that. I was so out of it. So not a morning person and so jarred out of reality.

Now I didn’t just worry about my face during the possible random audience shots. Now I had to watch my hands. Looking up on the monitor, I was in the shot a lot of the time when they would talk to those right in front of me – not only the brother but two sisters and their therapist. My hands were right at the level of the brother’s face, just to the side.

I am neurotically self-conscious in day to day life. Now I was inwardly freaking about what respectfully folded hands would look like versus the frightened clutching hands of someone under an interrogator’s lamp. I worried that they could see my stomach and strove to pull it in tighter. I could see from my peripheral vision that my hair was a mess and longed to push it behind my shoulder, but I didn’t dare move. I never saw my face on the monitor, just the zone between my neck and chest, but I’ll see when the show comes out just how terrible I looked. It’s all about me, right?

The show went on. The siblings bickered. He said, she said, you’re lying, no you are, etc. I could hardly concentrate. It was just that surreal to me. And I must be a closet narcissist because I kept having thoughts that any minute now, these people might stand up, explain they were all actors, and the show was really all about me after all. Man do I need coffee to be a person in the morning, and I had none yesterday.

Despite all my paranoia, I was having a good time. I swear. It was very interesting.

I thought the commercials were odd. In the mid-nineties, I went with my friend Ken (now Tiger) to see a taping of the Price Is Right. They did the show in real time, and Bob would talk to the audience during the commercial breaks. On the Dr. Phil show, he’d say they were going to take a break, a Blue Blazer would clap threateningly in the wings, and we’d all join in. There would be about ten to fifteen seconds of silence, and then we’d all be urged to clap again by the extra loud hands of that same page. Just enough time to wiggle in your seat for a second and glance up at the infinite lights and cameras.

As we entered maybe the fifth or sixth commercial break, a page was abruptly at the end of our aisle, glaring at us. The two girls to my right and I had just been adjusting our shirts, rearranging our hands, wiggling in our seats, and I thought maybe we were in trouble, were being switched for more obedient audience members. He did, in fact, bark, “You three! With me!” Out we went, and he took us back up to where I’d started – first row of the back section. I waved to my husband. They ran out with more chairs for us, and we sat, confused.

I think what happened is they needed our seats for the family members on stage. They came out into the audience for the last shot. Because that was pretty much it. I didn’t even hear what they said or did. It was too quick. And then Dr. Phil left the stage, we all went “nuts”, and then the pages were barking at us to leave in sections.

And now I remembered that no one had ever talked to our group that morning. We didn’t have badges, didn’t know each other, had no instructions, and we were being released into a very crowded alley of sorts with more pages marching around, peering at people, calling out things I couldn’t understand. I knew there was no Price Is Right on the itinerary anymore, as was the original plan, because I’d done my Googling the night before.

At long last, I thought that one of the guys in the crowd might be with us. I asked him, and, yes, he was. We were pushed aside by some blue-blazered pages. The crowd pressed in on us, deafening as they shouted over the din of the HVAC ducts overhead. He didn’t know what we were going to do, but he pointed out the woman who was supposedly our leader.

I worked my way over to her, and she didn’t know the plan. They were calling around to see what to do. She didn’t say anything about TPIR, and I didn’t ask. So, more milling in a crowd, trying to not lose sight of her.

Remember our phones were on the bus. If we got stranded, we would be in some trouble.

Coffee was put out, and we joined the throng. I took one sip, though, and I remembered the activities that follow coffee drinking and threw the cup away. Didn’t need to worry about that in the chaos.

And now people were being shouted at. The second taping was seating. The anonymous crowd began flowing toward the studio door. My husband said he saw some people from our group in the line. We saw no signs of Fearless Leader. Should we go? We decided yes.

In we went, and this time the page took us directly to the front row – but all the way over to the far left, so not prominent.

This time, we got to hear more from Man with Mugs. This time he was Man with CD Collection -- bribes for a few audience members. He was the crowd warmer. He warned us of the things I’d figured out on my own before – don’t you dare fidget, pick, adjust, etc. ("Remember, you're not watching television. You're making television!")

After he gave away his prizes, doing the old, “Hi, how are you, where are you from” routine, the music and lights went up, for some reason, a video of Cher was shown on all the screens, her music blared, and they set about riling us all up into a screaming mob again. The madness began anew.

This time, the show was about men who needed to re-examine their dreams of a career in music versus taking care of their families. A little more humorous than the last show, but still sad at points. David Foster advised them on their prospects – but just from a taped video on the big screens. What was fun was seeing Kimberly Caldwell from American Idol. She was the final guest, advising these guys on how to balance their dreams with their responsibilities.

I was much more relaxed for this show, knowing what to expect, being in a really close but less prominent seat, being allowed to sit with my husband. It was fun.

At the end, Kimberly Caldwell came out and sat about eight seats away from me in our (curved) row. It was so strange. I remember watching season two of AI during Hollywood week and the whole thing they did, vilifying her versus Julia DeMato. I grew to like her as the season progressed. I’ve seen her host shows and do red carpet stuff – get asked out by David Cook, who I love (not that way). I was more excited to see her than Dr. Phil. Nothing against him. I just never watch his show, but I’m a big AI fan.

And now we were ushered out into a different chaotic, industrial alley/holding pen. After a long minute or two, we saw our fearless leader handing out phones from a box – I guess a few people didn’t want to leave theirs on the bus. And no one said anything to anyone else. What the heck came next? We didn’t know. It was hard to find a place to stand without getting knocked around or glared at by Blue Blazers.

At some point, a Blue Blazer shouted that our group’s bus was that away, so we just went and got on. Other people followed. The woman in charge took a head count, and she conferred with the bus driver. I heard them bandying ideas around. At last, someone shouted that we could go to the Farmer’s Market or Hollywood Boulevard for our lunch. A few people (who conveniently had sack lunches) yelled to just go home, but most of us were hungry and foodless. The bus driver decided Farmer’s Market (I swear it seemed like he made the choice), and so, off we went.

I didn’t care where we went. I just wanted food, a bathroom, and the security that I’d be able to get back on the bus and get home afterward.

I am old school. Last time I went to the Hollywood farmer’s market, it was a farmer’s market only – stalls, tarps, etc. Now it seemed it was just a mall. A nice one. Russell and I took off – we had only an hour before the bus left – and after hiking up and down the length of the mall, seeing no produce, just Banana Republics and Cheesecake Factories, we chose Marmalade CafĂ© because it had a nice patio and seemed central. (Turned out that the farmer’s market was behind the mall – just couldn’t see it.)

While we were there, I noticed all kinds of lovely people, many of whom seemed familiar. Just types, I figured. Clones. One guy looked just like Sean Penn, holding a tiny video camera over his head, filming something as he walked along the street. I meant to take a closer look as he passed, but just then my husband told me that his fish was still frozen in the middle (ick), and I missed my chance. I shrugged. What would he be doing at a mall? Later, my sister told me that the mall we were at was The Grove, a mall I always hear about on the entertainment/tabloid blogs. She confirmed that she always saw stars there, and that might very well have been Sean Penn. We’ll never know.

I had a lovely lunch, though – grilled goat cheese and spinach salad, iced tea, hot sourdough rolls. We walked around a little afterward, and then we headed for two-hour bus ride home.

And, so ends our field trip. Now we have to tape Dr. Phil every day until our shows air. They “couldn’t” (or wouldn’t) tell us when they would air. I can’t wait to see what the shows look like finished. And I hope that if I made it into any of the final shots, I look less like an idiot than I felt.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to Mommy


As I posted over on Facebook, I experienced a miracle today in honor of my Jack Benny birthday.*

Quiet children!

First, they played in their playroom for over an hour, making up intricate stories involving my Best Toy Ever (the early '70s Fisher Price castle).

Next, the great outdoors! If I'd known that a simple fifteen dollar investment in vinyl frog galoshes would have led to my boys rediscovering the joys of the outback that doubles as our backyard, I would have forked out the dough a lot sooner. Fifteen dollars was painful, but it was an early Christmas gift. For me, apparently! The boys spent two hours out there today. Two hours! Peacefully! Cooperatively! Not needing my interference but once (we do not throw toys over the fence, young man). Ahhh, bliss.

Lastly (for now, hopefully not forever), my two boys took off their frogs, came in the house, got two stools, and sat shoulder to shoulder in silent companionship while watching a show on TV. They've gotten up to eat a snack since then (evenly dividing their crackers without argument -- what's that about?) and now are back, little angels on little pencil-legged stools.

Sooooo nice. How long can it last?

[I kid you not, I had hardly entered that last question mark when the boys reverted into their usual whirling dervish-ness. ]

Update (5:44 p.m.) -- The miracle continues, shh. That earlier relapse was very brief.


*Because folks have asked, Jack Benny claimed to be 39 for over forty years. Sorry, channeling my inner Dennis Miller. (Do I have to link that, too? ;) )

Friday, December 5, 2008

How My Children Think

They wore me down today. I bought them plastic tubes of critters. They were very pleased.

This is the result.



It's a feeding frenzy.

Really!

Of all the games in the world they could have come up with, this is what they chose to do first, and with great effort, over the course of an hour or so.

Ah, fine Stephen King imaginations, like their mama.

I also appreciate their careful arrangement of sea mammal zones, snake zones, etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trouble

Today I was grocery shopping, and I kept hearing this guy belch loudly for the amusement of his companion. Each belch was louder, longer, accompanied by more snickering. Later, that same guy was strutting around, calling out to girls, "Hey, hi!" "Hey, what's your name?" Later, I saw him looking around, just yelling, "Girl! Girl! Where's that girl I was talking to?" That guy was my three year old son, Alex. Sometimes I can already see the frat boy waiting to happen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sing with me, "Rolllll out the barrrrels..."

The cat came back. Yep, yep, yep. Uh huh. Stopped in to say hello to Alex. Wish him a happy three week anniversary or something.

Say it with me a few times, "One time only! One time only! One time only!"

Maybe he was just passing through on his way to catch a plane. Far, far away. Never to return.

One can hope.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Camp Songs

When I was in sixth grade, I went to camp, as per the usual. Five days of Lord of the Flies fun in the mountains east of San Diego. I took two things away from that week -- how to identify poison ivy and the lyrics to one epic-length ballad about a cat whose second name must have been Rasputin. They could not get rid of it. They tried to send it away, they shot it, they sent it into the stratosphere in a balloon, they tied it to the railroad tracks. Nothing. Always the chorus:

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away
Oh no, no, no, no, no.

Ladies and gentlemen, that cat is back again, and this time its name is Stomach Flu. Ras-flu-tin? Only the addled mind of one afflicted would even try for such lame humor.

It was in the wee hours between October 20th and 21st that the first strains of double bucket fun began. Many times now, we have felt that we were through with it. Ahh, that lovely feeling of glowing health returning, being able to eat complex foods once again, returning to public places without fear of becoming Typhoid Maries. I'd say we've had at least three "recoveries" now, and none have stuck. Nope.

Today is November 8th, nearly three weeks since this all began, and I think we are maybe done. Maybe. But I will knock wood, spit over my shoulder, and light a candle now because I don't want to tempt fate. Both Russell and I were sicker yesterday than we've been in decades. At the same time. And the boys were in a well phase. Luckily, Russell was one iota healthier than me, in that he could lay on the couch downstairs and watch the boys from underneath his blanket. I couldn't move an inch, not even to roll over in bed, from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. I'd been force fed psychedelic drugs, pushed in front of a speeding semi, and left in a ditch to writhe in head to toe pain and jabbering, nonsensical voices. And then? This morning? Poof! Voila! No signs of illness at all. You're better!!! ...or...not... We'll see. Wish us good luck. This is getting ridiculous. When we're really well, I am not going around people for several months for fear of catching it again.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween, and although I feel like we're Scroogey this year, we aren't alone. The level of holiday decorations on our block is about 1/3 of what it was last year. We have one small pumpkin, and I didn't even carve it. The flu hit hard here. My boys had it for a week, and then I have had it -- Sunday will be a week for me. And that's flu on top of a week of no sleep from taking care of my sicko boys plus a visit from my inlaws -- who also got the flu -- and... There was something else, but my brain lost it. I forget. That's me all over these days. ;)

Anyway, creativity was low.

The boys don't seem to mind. They're just excited to go trick or treating. I've had numerous questions today about how it can possibly be Halloween during the daytime if there is no trick or treating.

William is going to be a fireman, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Alex is going to be Eeyore. This is the third year in a row that we've been able to use one of those $5 Disney costumes, probably the last. They were a good buy.

Nana and Daddy will take the boys out. I'll stay home and pass out candy. Just walking to the kitchen wears me out today.

A few pictures. Note Alex not letting go of that crazy axe for a second. Kind of a twist on the gentle Eeyore costume.

From October 2008 Photos
From October 2008 Photos
From October 2008 Photos
From October 2008 Photos
From October 2008 Photos

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ups and Downs of the Habitrail: There's more than just "fun inside"


The month of October has opened my eyes to the wonder of the McDonald's Play Place. Oh, the marvelous McDonald's Play Place! For less than a dollar, I can buy a 42 oz. cup of something sweet, fizzy, unhealthy, delicious, and caffeinated, sit on a bench for an hour or two, and write notes on a story while watching my boys have the Best Time Ever without getting into trouble, not even once. They'll even run over from time to time to fling their skinny little arms around me in a fierce, possessive hug. Aw. It's like paradise! Right? Well...

It does have its pluses. A fun place to play, even when it's ninety-plus outside (as it has been since July), is always a good thing. They aren't going to run out into the parking lot or get too far afield. There are no yellow jackets, and the sun doesn't get in my eyes. Maybe it's a by-product of how controlled the environment is, but the parents even seem more mellow there. There are less tightly clustered knots of moms looking around sarcastically and suddenly cackling, making me feel like I'm in the junior high cafeteria again. The people talk to me, smile, share wisdom such as hidden bouncy places in the nearby industrial park, good preschools, bargain nights at other kiddie places, etc. I don't even buy food there. I just drink my drink, then I take the kids home for a nice, boring meal.

But share. Did I say share? You see, that's turned out to be the minus. We've taken the kids to umpteen outdoor playgrounds with hardly a sniffly nose to show for it. Two weeks containing three or four visits to the marvelous plexiglass habitrail (you know, for kids), and we won six-plus fun filled days of rotavirus -- in stereo!

Ugh. In the wee hours between Monday and Tuesday, William started throwing up. This is how healthy this kid has been (other than his melanoma) -- he didn't know what was happening to him. He was seriously freaked out. An hour later, his brother joined in the fun. It took all the energy and good will that Russell and I had to make it through that night. The next morning was our seventh wedding anniversary. For his gift, I let Russell go to work, and I stayed home on bucket detail.

Looking back, I could tell exactly when and where they got it. For most of a week, they'd seen no one but Nana and Auntie M -- both healthy. Except...the day before, they'd been blissfully whirling through the habitrail, carefully stepping around this little blond boy who was draped limply across the bottom step of the structure. His grandfather kept trying to urge him into the tubes, but he just looked glazed. He told another mom, "Oh, he...He just didn't sleep much last night." LIAR! I fully suspect that was not the full story now because William spent a lot of his time this week in an identical spaced-out lethargy.

We thought we had a reprieve for a day or two there, late in the week, but then it came back. Then it was done again, right? No, late last night we heard the tell-tale wail of despair that precedes our blondest son becoming ill, and it was on again.

William is very stoic. He is very brave about it all, other than one or two wails.

This is how our little tough guy, Alex, is.

He's making all kinds of odd noises that we recognize from the days of cats and hairballs.

We ask him, "Allie, do you need your bowl? Are you about to get sick?"

"No!"

"Are you sure?"

"Nooooooo!!!!! I'm not sick!!!!" (gets very sick)

As he's throwing up, he is screaming, "I am not getting sick!!!" He is not arguing with us. It's like he's yelling at himself, in denial.

Last night, when we went in to clean up the colossal mess that William made, we were dragging along. You kind of get into this weird mood that is both blase and despairing. We were exhausted. Scrub, scrub, scrub.

Then Russell looks over at Alex to tell him to stop doing something obnoxious he was doing, and I hear him say, "Alex, did you throw up, too?"

"No!"

"Yes, you did! Look at your hair!"

Without getting too graphic, let's just say liar, liar, pants on fire, and that it had happened a long time before, judging by the spikiness. Our little tough guy had gone straight into denial that he was sick and went back to sleep. Glory. :(

"Why didn't you call us, Alex?"

"Because! I didn't want to hear that noise!"

Later, they gifted Russell with the fun of double messes from the other end.

Please tell me I'm immune and that this is almost over.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Annyong, Hermana!

The boys have finally perked up enough from their week-long stomach flu to have their paternal grandparents over for a visit.

This morning, Alex grabbed a pre-school activity book, sat in a patch of sun on the couch, and told me, "Let's play the Which One Is Different game with the two sisters!"

I figured that there were two sisters in the game.

No. He then looked around, frowned, and demanded, "Where are my two sisters?!"

I was getting the drift by then, but I asked, "Who are your sisters?"

He looked around, found his Grandpa Cecil, and pointed. "Where's my girl sister?!"

I explained that those were his grandparents, not his sisters. He looked disappointed. "Then where are my sisters?"

"You don't have any, honey."

A fierce glare. He didn't believe me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Must pick up...

...Just not with your bare hands, ew!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taking Shortcuts

Yeah, this is me. Ms. Johnston already summed up my day, so here ya go.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is a new one

Our boys are in bed. From the monitor, we hear them calling urgently, although the words are muffled. Russell goes up, and I hear things clearer -- I guess as they turn their heads toward the monitor in their room.

"What do you need?"

"Oh, we're just playing Stella."

"Stella?"

"Yeah. Stella! Stelllllla!"

Sesame Street has introduced them to Tennessee Williams at a rather early age.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Room for Improvement

I'm hoping it's not a sign for my day that the salt shaker I was using for the boys' oatmeal turned out to be black pepper instead. Mmm. Spicy oatmeal.

Shh. Don't tell them. I'm not starting over, and a little spice never hurt anyone. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Children Smell Like Pickles

Just a few minutes ago, I was sitting on the couch, reading something online, when suddenly I heard the meaty thwap of my youngest son's feet as he tore into the room. Looking up, I was presented with the sight of him frozen in place, glaring intently in my direction, upper body leaned toward me , fireman helmet on his head, visor down. Swinging a plastic axe up and pointing it ferociously at me, he screamed, "POOP!" Then, even more assertively, poking the axe toward me for emphasis, "POOOOOOOOOOP!!!" You'd think he was insulting me, not just announcing that it's time for a change of diaper.

From September 2008
From September 2008
From September 2008


Seven o'clock this morning found me deeply, deeply asleep. Something startled me awake -- Russell kissing me goodbye as he left for work. Then I noticed that the boys were already hooting and hollering in their room. The noise of the fan had masked the noise from the monitor. No-o-o. I fought getting up. Just let me lay back for a minute... Back into the abyss. Several minutes later, I'm swimming back up from sleep again, reluctantly. If I don't get up soon, they'll be diving off the edge of their bed and breaking the whole house. Okay. I get up. It hurts. I haven't washed my hair in days, but I manage to pull off something almost civilized with the assistance of some barrettes -- forget makeup -- and I go get the boys.

I figure the best way to keep from drifting back off to sleep is to keep moving, so I start bustling around, getting the boys dressed extra early, getting their cups made, their snack bags packed. Then I think, hey, it's going to be ridiculously hot today, why not go out to the playground now while it's still cool? Wow! I'm feeling so virtuous. I throw extra cereal and raisins into their snack bags, call it a picnic breakfast, and off we go. I'll eat later.

What do I get for my troubles? An angry arm flailing from a woman in an SUV who was on the phone, drinking coffee, and who obviously felt that the fact that she veered six inches to the right a few blocks before the new right lane opened up and a few seconds before I (the car ahead of her) did so gave her DIBS on that lane, so I was obviously out of line for getting into the lane without letting her around me first. I'm not a morning person. It took me a long time to be able to detatch from that and just write it off to her having issues that have nothing to do with me. When I did relax, though, I was back to feeling good about being out.

Wrong.

A few blocks later, I was driving up a quiet tree-lined road with no one around when a motorcycle cop pulled out from a side street behind me, and I knew. I just knew what would happen next. Yep. Blue lights. Expletive.

"Why does that police man want to talk to you, Mommy? Why is he coming over here?"

"Because he doesn't like the color of the sticker on my license plate, sweetie. He is going to write me a note to remind me to change it."

Fix it ticket. Phooey. When we were not able to pay a lot of our bills, yeah, the sticker had to take a back seat for a while. At least now we'll be able to pay it, thanks to Russell's new job, just embarrassing that it had to happen this way.

Feeling soooo glad that I'd ventured out into this early morning, I finished the drive to the playground. At least from there, things were fine, just dandy. At first we were alone, and the boys tore around the sidewalks on their Big Wheels. When other kids arrived, the terrorizing tricycles were packed back into the van, and the small arsenal of sand toys came out. Soon, every child in the place was walking around with one of our shovels or rakes, and my own children were armed with whatever toys those other children had brought. It's a funny kind of co-op toy swap in the playgrounds near here. A good way for the kids to see if the toys really are greener on the other side, I guess. At least no one makes a fuss when it's time for me to take the toys back as we leave.

Then it was time for a mommy treat. A trip to Target. It's embarrassing how well that works. Along the way, I found some good back routes to get there. I love building up my interior map of my world with silly, not-always-scenic alternate routes to commonly visited places.

As soon as we entered, my guys were shouting, "We want to see the bad guy! We want to go see that great big bad guy here!" The who and the what now? Oh, yes, the bad guy. Yesterday, before I had to drag a screaming, scolding, tantruming William out of the Target in another town, they'd been delighted by the seven-foot tall skeleton in a man's suit who rattled his jaws and said spooky things about Halloween. No home is complete without one this fall, apparently. We made our way back, but this savvy Target had removed all batteries from their shrieking, clattering Halloween decor. I don't blame them. I worked for a few years in the children's departments of book stores, and I well remember the pavlovian response (nausea, in our case) that followed each and every repetition from one of those ghastly talking books. All day long, jabber, jabber, cutesy-noise, shriek! Not.Charming.At.All.

Anyway.

While we were back there, I decided to check out costumes for William. He hemmed and hawed in front of the Dorothy costume for a while (hee), but then decided, very emphatically, that he was going to be a fireman. Nothing more, nothing less. Yay -- firemen were half the price of police officers, knights, pirates, and said Dorothy. Proudly, ever so proudly, he carried that giant, sticky, plastic costume around the store for the next fifteen minutes. Every so often, a kind stranger would ask him if he was a fireman, and he'd get so excited.

Thus the angry fireman back at home, shouting, "poop," at me.

It was adorable as heck watching William walk around in his knee-length coat, fondling the tiny fire extinguisher. It was disturbing as all get out to watch Alexander's energetic bliss with the hollow, plastic axe that was part of the costume. He has been dying to get his hands on a "cutter" or a "chopper" for weeks now, and at last he had one.

Should a parent really have to say things to a three year old like,

"No axes on your face, dear."

Or,

"Please stop chopping your brother up."

I didn't think so.

Anyway, our outing finished with a trip to the grocery store. I was very hungry. I had the bad judgment to allow both boys to walk free (usually Allie is in the cart). Maybe it was both of those combined that led to me impulse buying the Extreme Dill Pickle flavored Pringles. Why, they sounded so delightful in the store. What on earth was wrong with me? Half of one was enough for me, back at home. The boys wanted some, though, so I gave them three or four with their lunch.

Alex yelped when he bit his.

William said, "Mama, why do these chips taste like ouch?"

I offered to take them away, but they both quickly scarfed the rest of theirs, cheeks chipmunk full, to prove that they didn't have a problem with chips that tasted like ouch. That's my boys.

And now they're both sleeping, William only parting with his sweaty plastic coat with the utmost reluctance. I am off to work, but a nap sure sounds better.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two Very Happy Things

One, William's six-month, post-melanoma check up was today, and, again, he has a clean bill of health. The dermatologist and his cohort found nothing of interest. We are happy to bore them!

Two, I got to take William to the dermatologist today by myself because Russell was AT WORK! How momentous those words sound! Going eleven months without a paycheck and twenty-two months without benefits kind of reminds you of how good it is have Mondays again. Along with the joys of back to work day, we have also been rediscovering the concept of "weekends" again. For the longest time, Saturday and Sunday were very little different from the rest of the week, except for being extra annoying for not bringing any new job listings or calls from interested recruiters.

Most of you know the story by now, so I won't bore you with details. We are just so grateful. We couldn't have held out much longer, and it was literally down to Russell moving out to find work and send paychecks back home. In fact, the very day that he got the phone call with the job offer from his new, LOCAL, well-paying, fully-benefitted employer, he also got his only other official job offer of the past eleven months -- from a camp in the mountains a few hours north of us, where he'd be required to live on site in employee housing, occasionally getting snowed in during winter, rarely coming home for visits. We would have been very grateful to have even that in this economy, after this long job search, but we are so much more grateful for this local option. So far, so good. He is enjoying it, and he seems to be working with a great team.

And that's about it for now. I am just adapting to being alone with the kids all day long, after several years of having Russell around, either unemployed or telecommuting from a bedroom upstairs and running down often for snacks. The kids are adjusting to me, too. There's been some testing going on, which I hope subsides soon. More about that as the adventure continues.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Pictures Posted

Just a note to say that I finally updated the boys' albums for July-September.

From September 2008

Thank Heaven for Little Mondegreens

In the car on the way to San Diego this weekend. Radio tuned to some oldies channel or another.

William: "Mama? Why did that man sing 'I don't like to share'?"

I listen. Bob Marley is singing "I Shot the Sheriff". I start to explain that he misheard the lyrics and what they really are, then I catch myself. Gunfire, law enforcement corruption -- eh, let him hear what he wants.

Me: "I don't know honey. That doesn't sound very nice of him, does it?"

William agrees. Conversation over.

* * *

Only, more precisely, the conversation actually went like this.

"Mama?"

"Yes?"

"Mama?"

"Yes??"

"Mama?"

"What!"

"Um, Mama?"

[Grit teeth, deep breath, raise eyebrows in desperate attempt at patience]

"Yes?"

"Mama? Why did that man ... [long moment of silence] ... Um, Mama?"

"Ye-e-e-es???"

"Mama? Why did that man sing 'I don't like to share'?"

etc.

It's not that he doesn't hear me answer him. He's just in some stage where if he gets the slightest bit distracted -- by his brother's laughter, by a bird flying by, by something shiny -- he feels the need to go all the way back to square one and start the whole thing over again. I try not to let it drive me nuts. I can be as patient as all get out when he stutters, but for some reason, this really gets me. Perhaps because it requires my interaction, and I am no good at suspense.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

learning to be people

Daddy here: It's a privilege being around my little boys. The most amazing things keep happening, and today was a good example.

The boys were climbing the playground with screaming abandon in a crowd of kids. They're always excited to see other kids around, but it's rare that they actually play together or with much intention for long. Today was different. I watched William playing more and more with one little girl in particular. He made a point to play with her and near her. He looked for her, and waited for her when she wasn't around. At one point she asked him to hold her hand when they climbed the spiral staircase, and they went down the slide together. They conversed, looking at each other and away, and got distracted occasionally, but were also intermittently determined to keep the other near. By the time we had to leave, William was literally squirming with excitement the way only a little kid can. He kept wrapping his shirt around his elbows and over his head and grinning. He was smitten. I've never seen that before, and I'm grateful to have witnessed it. It makes me ache.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On a roll!

Yesterday, Alex one-upped his older brother by peeing actual, measurable quantities in his potty chair! Way to go!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maybe he just didn't like my bathroom's decor?

And then it finally happened! What no one in this family thought would ever occur! We were walking through Pottery Barn Outlet today, when, out of the blue, William told me, "I have to pee. I want to go to the bathroom."

Whahh??! I think I just gaped blankly for a minute. William? Wants to go to the bathroom?

He said, "I just want to use the potty like Nana wants me to." Never mind repeated pleas by Daddy and me.

His little face was composed in angelic sincerity, so I looked around wildly. Not just five minutes before, we'd helped some elderly ladies out in the mall who had discovered there are only four bathrooms in the entire half-mile long shopping center. We'd had to give them complex directions to the polar opposite end of the mall where the business offices were. However, now, beams of heavenly light shone down upon a sign that said, "Bathroom," not twenty feet away. Oh great gods of Pottery Barn, we thank you. We hustled past the glitzy West Elm botanical collection and scores of pictures frames to enter the bathroom, which, once through the door, more resembled a gas station restroom, but it was clean.

Thinking of my friend, Mickie, and her recent confrontation in a disabled stall, I nevertheless pushed into it. I didn't want to leave Alex out in the room alone or freak William out with the claustrophobic conditions on his first ever try. He was meanwhile prattling on and on about how he really wanted to do this, and how it was going to be fun, and how much he had to pee, etc.

He gamely pulled down his pants, and there was a moment of panic while I tried to figure out if he should sit or stand. Luckily, this boy is tall, so standing wasn't an issue, and he didn't seem to question it. Hilariously enough, his little brother was excitedly jabbering away right next to him -- pants and diaper still up -- saying, "I'm peeing, too! Mmmph! I'm peeing, too!" It was crazy.

Long story short, did he pee? No. He didn't. He already had. I was still pleased as punch, though. No child has ever shown less interest in the process, previously, and no child has ever thrown such loud fits of fury as he has when presented with the situation. Hopefully, this is the start of some quick training. From all signs, his little brother is ready to join in the fun if he is.

Of course, how did it all end? With him pulling up his pants, looking me dead in the eye, and demanding, "Now give me candy." Yep, he knows we've bribed Alexander with a candy corn for trying. He was lucky because there was one small lollipop deep inside the diaper bag.

Monday, August 4, 2008

M-O-O-N, that spells tired.*

"Mama, what does f-i-t-n-e-s-s spell?"

"What does fitness mean?"

"But why does it say that?"

"What is D an abbreviation for?"

"Mama, how do you spell wake?"

"What does a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b spell?"

"What is s-t-o-p an abbreviation for?"

"How do you say R in Spanish, Mama?"

"Mama, what is samacho Spanish for?" (It's totally made up, as far as I can tell.)

"What does... um... um... h-e-l-l- (Mom and dad grow pale) -a-n-d spell?" (Whew.)

"Mama! What is in your brain?!" (They're very interested in brains lately and what causes new brain wrinkles.)

Who! What! Where! When! How! We had to go half an hour north today to take care of some business, and all the way there and back again, it was non-stop, double-barreled question asking of the above sort (and more).

I love that they're asking questions, and I love the questions that they come up with. I really, really want to be the calm, patient kind of parent who answers all of their questions clearly and promptly. I try. Most of the time I do well, but sometimes... Ugh, sometimes! My brain just gets full ("Of what, Mama? What is in your brain?"), and I cannot even hear their questions anymore, much less answer them.

Then it becomes, "What does d-o-g spell, Mama?"

(Sagging eyelids, drooped head) "I don't know."

"Why is that flag waving, Mama?"

(Clutching head) "I don't know."

"I saw the light turn green. Why is it green, Mama?"

"I'm not sure, honey."

My boys are going to grow up thinking their mom is sooooo stupid.


*I'm a total dork about The Stand --read it about twenty times.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Joy

A joyful morning = watching your eldest child proudly read an entire book aloud while your grinning youngest child energetically wrestles, hugs, and kisses you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thinking of Cameron

Tonight, we're thinking of Cameron and his mom, Lori, a friend of mine from my parenting message board. Cameron was diagnosed with leukemia at age four and has undergone several bone marrow transplants since then. He just passed the hundred day mark after his latest transplant, but today brought news that he has once again relapsed. Sending wishes for his recovery!

His blog

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quick Update

Just a quick update on the job front. No word back yet from "Daddy's Work" after his interview there this week, but he has an in-person interview with the big company next week. Wish him well!

It is deliciously tense and ominous outside today. We have a chance of thunderstorms until tomorrow, and I'm happy. They are so rare out here that I can enjoy them. I caught a few widely-spaced drops of rain on my arms this morning, and it made me smile. One very nice thing is that our temps have dropped from 105 to 79, and, muggy though it be, it feels great. The boys were actually able to play in the backyard after lunch for a change. Daddy bought them some $2 gardening sets at Walmart, and they were having a blast (although Alex insists that hoes are golf clubs for his ping pong balls).

No other big news with the family. Just jaunting back and forth from San Diego so often (for interviews, holidays, etc.) that I often forget where I am when I first wake up!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I've been tagged

My lovely friend Sam tagged me today, so here's my meme.

What were you doing ten years ago?

Is it a sign that I'm getting old that when I see "ten years ago," I automatically think of my teenage years, then realize that was more like twenty?

Ten years ago I was working at UC Berkeley's Regional Oral History Office, completing my thesis, and living in a small in-law studio on top of the Berkeley Hills overlooking campus and a million-dollar view of the bay. Approach to this studio was via a very steep, narrow, twisty road, then down some steep, narrow, rickety wooden steps. I had no bathroom of my own, just one shared with the rest of the family who owned the house -- especially fun one Thanksgiving when my father walked in on their grandmother using the toilet!

5 things on today's to-do list:

1. Try to get over the horror of finding a JUMBO green caterpillar on my jalapeno plant (think Alice in Wonderland -- I was looking for his hookah). Major phobia there. Darn near put me off my breakfast. I couldn't touch it. Russell will have to dispatch him.

2. Work. No, really. Work! Stop organizing your sock drawer and being distracted by shiny things. WORK!

3. Spend a little time with my wild boys before their nap, and try to interpret their crazy stories into the real story of their trip to the movies with Daddy this morning.

4. Work!

5. Contemplate what to make for dinner in a house devoid of produce.

Snacks I enjoy:

Salty popcorn
Pink lady apples
Hostess cupcakes
French fries
M&Ms

Places I've lived:

San Diego, CA
Albany, CA
St. Petersburg, Russia
Berkeley, CA
El Granada, CA
Oakland, CA
Vallejo, CA
Winchester, CA

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

William's Check up and Summer Fun

Ach, look at those boys in jackets in the previous entry. It's incomprehensible to me now! We did have a brief respite from the heat for a few days last week, but before that it was (and is again now) 100 degrees and climbing each and every day. I was just outside, plugging in our crock pot in the backyard, ready to cook a roast where the heat of the process won't affect the fragile coolness indoors. I also got a chuckle at our Beverly Hillbilly-ness. Our "patio" is a desert-toned camouflage tarp from Harbor Freight (really, it looks like an outdoor rug from a distance, ;) ), covered with a metal and canvas canopy from Wally World. I was muttering to myself while leaning over the retro slow-cooker about all these fancy neighbors with their cee-ment tarps and gas-flame outdoor cookers. What we have out back isn't much, but we enjoy it a lot. I even have a small herb and butterfly garden growing in two half barrels -- just about the right size for this absent-minded gardener to manage successfully.

Anyway, it's been a big week. The boys have had a few freebie movies, a morning picking blueberries at a local berry farm, trips to various playgrounds, the San Diego Zoo, and a party with my fellow internet "newlyweds". (Most of us have at least half a decade of marriage under our belts by now, as well as a kid or two, but we've been chatting since we were first engaged and won't cut it out.)

Monday was the busiest day. William had a check up with the dermatologist scheduled in the afternoon, and, since we were in San Diego for that anyway, we decided to squeeze in a trip to the county fair before it closed for the year. My mom and sister decided to join us (yay!), and, thanks to some kind friends from said newlywed board, we were able to get in very cheaply. (Thanks!)

...

We had perfect weather -- sunny, low seventies, good breeze -- and the crowds were absent. We almost had the kiddie midway to ourselves for a while. The boys only rode a few rides (averaging $2-3 each, eek), but they had a blast. They drove bumper cars, flew a fast, swooping blue airplane, and twirled inside a green dragon's belly, grinning madly all the while. Both declined a ride on the elephant this year. A kindly carny assisted William in winning a stuffed dog, which made him so proud! He's even been good about sharing it with his little brother. I suspect that Alex truly loves Delmer (named by Auntie M) more than William does, but William values him for being his prize and for the fun he gets in seeing Alex's jealousy when it's William's turn to hold him.



Although I eyed each amazing food stand's deep-fried-on-a-stick selections with big, wistful eyes, I only had a few bites of fair fare. We all split one chocolate-dipped cheesecake wedge and half a dozen garlic-battered mushrooms...all on a stick (well, not the same stick...you know what I mean). Budget woes, Weight Watchers, and a peanut-allergic son all conspired to keep us in good health, alas. Well, all the better for us, I suppose, but someday I'm going to go crazy tasting all the ridiculous food that's offered at the fair. Watch out.

The time to leave for William's appointment coincided perfectly with the moment where my ankles started to ache from four hours of slow shuffling across blacktop and sawdust. We dropped my mom and sister off at home, and we headed for the doctor. I was starting to feel nervous. After all, it was possible that the whole nightmare could start again if the doctor found another incriminating mole. I was also completely exhausted and sunburned and didn't know if I'd be able to stay alert enough to be of help. I needn't have worried. Alex fell soundly asleep shortly before we arrived at our destination, and Russell encouraged me to stay in the van and keep him company while he slumbered. So, while Russell and William headed upstairs, I got to relax (guiltily) and read my book (Those Who Save Us) for 45 minutes until Alex woke up. At that point, I knew we wouldn't be able to find the others in the exam room, so we just sat in the courtyard in front of the building, eating apples and people watching. Then we rode the glass elevator up and down the six floors of the building half a dozen times. Alex was thrilled, which was particularly funny when a woman got on, blanched in terror at the glass walls facing out across town to the ocean, and had to turn around and face the steel doors as the elevator plummeted. Not that I didn't feel for her, but it was such a contrast to my son, who was squealing, "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" I'm sure it didn't help her.

At long last, Russell and William returned to the van, where we'd retreated to rest. Russell was smiling, and William was holding a green lollipop with serene smugness. All was well. Russell said the intern told him that he was "unimpressed" with William's myriad freckles, and the main dermatologist concurred. We have another appointment in three months that we're hoping will end similarly well.

As for Russell's job search, keep those fingers crossed. It's been up and down. One small company seemed really interested, but it's been radio silence from them for over a week now, so that doesn't look good. However, he's sure they'll tell him one way or another, so maybe they're still just debating. The job he applied for that we thought was in the bag, although in a different field, has declined him for this current batch of hirings but he's "on file" for two more years, hrmm. He was feeling low about that, but then he had two phone interviews yesterday from companies that had told him he was overqualified before, including the big company he's hoping for the most. He feels they went well, so we're hoping for more contact soon!

Update--A little while after I wrote the above, Russell got a call from the smaller of the two "overqualified" places. He has an in-person interview early next week and is so happy about it. Wish us good luck! One funny thing about this place is that we would never have thought to apply there, but the boys have always pointed to the building as we passed on the freeway and called out, "There's Daddy's work!" We have no idea why! It does not resemble anywhere that he has ever worked. It would be funny if we could someday accuse them of foretelling the future.