Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mother May I

Today's post is from guest blogger Amy of Binkytown. You can find me there today!

These posts are part of our May Blog Exchange on the theme
Mother May I. Click around to read some of the other posts: Nancy, Vicki, Julie, Chase, Stacy, Christina, Jen, Mabel, TB, Mel, Izzy, Amy, and Laurie. If you’d like to participate in the June Exchange, please email Kristen at kmei26 at Enjoy!

Mother (In-law) May I...

Say that even though I’ve known you for seven years I didn’t know before today that you and your sister really wanted to go to college, but your father wouldn’t send you because you were women.

Say that I still can’t believe that when your son and I were living together and engaged to be married that you gave our phone number to one of his old serious ex-girlfriends who proceeded to call us on a Sunday afternoon before caller ID so he stood there talking to her while I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, but I’m glad I never said anything to you about that because I wanted to—but I’m pretty sure you really didn’t think there was anything odd about that.

Say I’m sorry for the way I treated you when I spent the night at your house and I put a post-it note over the picture you had hanging in your spare bedroom of my husband and someone else. I left it up intentionally so you would see it. When the photo was taken he was your son, not my husband and he was with his then-girlfriend, before he met me, but the photo was taken in your backyard that no longer exists and was probably a moment you wanted to remember. That I did that in your house embarrasses me. I was young and not yet a mother to a son. I think I get it now.

Say thank you for bringing me food the day I came home from the hospital with my baby. Even though I’m too fussy to eat chili made with hamburger it was thoughtful of you and nice for me to open up the freezer and have the illusion that I was stocked with food.

Say even though I know you would have happier if your son had married someone else, someone who wouldn’t have kept him living farther away from you than you’d like, you’ve really made an effort lately to talk to me like I’m family. I noticed.

Say that even though we show affection in different ways and varying degrees, I’m grateful that my son has a grandmother who talks to him in a sweet voice and tickles him softly all over while he lays there and smiles a big toothy smile.

Say wow. I love your son. He’s so many things and all of them good. Well done.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fly away home

The weather just turned nice here recently. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, we hauled out all the outdoor toys on Easter weekend and we've been playing outside as much as possible. (We even added a trash-picked Fisher-Price basketball hoop to our collection. Score!) Aside from being convenient, it means we get to bump into and chat with our neighbors more often. The other day my friend from one street away walked by with her kids in their little red wagon. Her son offered Jo a flower he'd found on the ground. (A few minutes later, she disappeared into the house. She'd decided that Tinky—her fish—would like the flower, so she was putting it into the bowl.)

Then, Thursday night, I read an article in our local paper about how the lake flies (OK, so the picture is from Africa; but it gives you a good sense of what's coming my way) were beginning to hatch. It said that the last few years had been pretty light, but this year wouldn't be. (What's sadder: The fact that this was front-page news, or that I read the whole thing, avidly?)

Sure enough, we woke up Friday morning to a smattering of flies perched on our window screens and buzzing around our backyard. Now, their numbers seem to increase every hour. I just counted 47 on only the lower half of the nearest window. Jo is horrified. Even though the flies don't bite or sting—they're just gross and annoying—she insists on arming herself with her Strawberry Shortcake umbrella each time she ventures through the backyard to the car.

The hatch only lasts a week or two and then we're safe until August; and playgrounds and friends' homes just a few blocks away from us are fly-free. But as for our own backyard: I think it's off-limits until the flies fly away.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Coupla updates

OOS (Operation Opie Sleep): We had some bad nights, which had me hustling the boy back yet again to the doctor's office for an ear check (I think it would be simpler at this point to issue me my own otoscope, no?) . Ears were clear; gums were being punctured by some ouchy molars (I diagnosed that on my own). One of my favorite kids' songs:

Here come my teeth from the north and the south
Here come my teeth--what's these things in my mouth?
Here come my teeth, so slow and so cruel
All of my t-shirts are covered in drool.
--Brady Rymer, Here Come My Teeth

But the past two nights he's slept from 7ish to 4:30ish. And unlike his sister (awake at 5 for good, for several months straight), he'll nurse at that time and go back to sleep for another two hours.

Tube-a-licious: He is, in fact, sleeping right now after having his ear tubes placed this morning. He wasn't allowed any food/milk/water after midnight, so I couldn't feed him when he woke up at 4:08 a.m. Therefore he did not go back to sleep. At the hospital they gave him some Versed (sp?) to calm him down and get him sleepy. It worked for about 45 minutes; he was very drowsy and pretty much high. Every once in a while he'd just gaze at me and give me a huge, drunken smile. But eventually the goods wore off and he was very unhappy. The procedure itself was very short and it sounds like it was worth it; the doctor said he removed, and I quote, "a lot of bad stuff from back there." (Insert Osama bin Laden joke here.) Opie was totally spooked after he woke up from the anesthesia but fell asleep in the car on the way home and has been out cold ever since.

Lunchmeat: We have eaten it twice a day, every day, since Sunday (Jeff is brown-bagging for the first time since he was 8 years old). I gave a bunch to my friend/neighbor who just had a baby. We had a family of three over for sandwiches last night. We're still. not. done. I may start gobbling or oinking very, very soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Celebs I have sighted

Obviously, these are all from my NYC days. No celebs of note here in Mayberry.

And obviously, some of these sightings are pretty old. Judging from the, uh, deadness of the sight-ees. And others are of dubious "fame." But I still thought they were worth noting.

  1. JFK Jr. in Central Park (shirtless)

  2. Pope John Paul II in Central Park (robed and Pope-mobiled)

  3. Madonna eating dinner in the same restaurant I was

  4. Monica Lewinsky eating lunch in the same restaurant I was

  5. Harrison Ford on 57th St.

  6. Muhammad Ali on 57th St.

  7. Liam Neeson on Central Park West

  8. Peter Jennings on Central Park West

  9. Mia Farrow downtown near the courthouses

  10. Colin Quinn at church on Easter Sunday (c'mon, you watched Remote Control on MTV, didn't you?)

Anyone else want to play?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Does anybody want a sandwich?

No, seriously. Are you hungry? Because we have more than 6 pounds of lunchmeat in our fridge right now. Yesterday was the kids’ birthday party and sandwiches were on the menu. Jeff did the shopping. And I forgot to mention this in my previous post, but the man shops and cooks as if he a) were on staff in the canteen on an aircraft carrier or b) just survived the Great Depression or c) both. I told him there would be 8-10 kids, and he decided that meant 20 adults. In fact, there were 7 children (including our own, and of which 4 ate peanut butter) and 4 parents (including ourselves). Hence the overstock of deli delights.

Other than that, and the fact that I had to wipe two little behinds that weren’t attached to my own offspring, the little shindig went well. We had a butterfly theme, chosen by Jo. I’d handed her this book of party themes and said she could choose from butterflies, puppies, fish, or jungle animals. We had (still have) construction paper butterflies scattered everywhere. Jo carefully placed one atop each pillar candle on the screened porch, for example. She also mopped the porch and the front steps, while singing her own little tune: “Cleaning up... for the butterfly party! Cleaning up... for the butterfly party!”

Here’s what we did (for the historical record; I’m sure this makes riveting reading):

Craft: Decorate butterfly wings (we pre-cut the wing shapes and gave the kids markers, glitter glue, pom poms, and tissue paper; then we tied them on with ribbons, backpack style). Good thing the rugs in the basement are cheap because I’m pretty sure the glitter is with us to stay. Opie had dragonfly wings. Aww!

Game: Toilet-paper cocoons. This was a suggestion from the book. The idea was to have the kids wrap each other up in TP, then break out of their “cocoons.” They loved the idea, but the TP kept breaking before they could get it all the way around. We should’ve sprung for the expensive stuff.

General hullabaloo: After they had their wings on, we held up hula hoops wrapped with fake-flower garlands for the butterflies to fly through. A big hit. (Side note: when I bought the hoops and garlands, the 17-year-old Goth dude cashiering at Politically Incorrect Discount Store asked me right away: “Are you going to wrap the hula hoops with the flowers?” Why, yes I am.)

The second squeal-fest was playing Elefun. Worked well as a post-lunch, pre-cake energy-burner.

Menu: Sandwiches (cut in triangles and placed points-together to look like butterfly wings) and fruit-kabob caterpillars (melon and pear balls, strawberries, and string licorice for antennae); pretzels, aka “twigs,” juice, cake (here we took a shortcut and bought one with iced-on butterflies), ice cream.

Goodie bags: I bought boxes which look like take-out containers, but close with interlocking flaps shaped like butterflies. Jo decorated them with stickers and wrote each child’s name on the outside. Inside we put a small magnifying glass, a teeny clay pot with seeds (from Target’s One-Spot), a couple gummy worms, some stickers, a tattoo (temporary, not a GC to our local biker shop), and a ring with bubble solution.

So. Our first stab at an at-home birthday party. I’m sure my friend who told me that at-home parties end up costing just as much as destination ones was right, and I know we’ll go that route later. But this was fun.

Bonus cuteness: Jo had a dance recital on Saturday. So stinking adorable. But am I the only one who finds it weird that another group of 4-year-olds (not her class) danced to "All that Jazz" from Chicago, and some 5-year-olds to "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"? Yick.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Song of my spouse

Here's my take on Julie's special Thursday Third Degree, Spouse/Partner edition:

List five annoying things that your spouse or significant other does regularly.
  • Count me in on the countertop problem. It’s just gross.
  • “Washing” dishes with a rinse and a prayer. Again, ew.
  • I’ve mostly cured him of this, but he was raised to believe that a used tissue must immediately be flushed down the toilet. It can’t go in the garbage can. What a colossal waste of water! If you must put it the toilet, at least wait for the next real reason to flush to get rid of it.
  • Shoes in the house. Not just because of the easily avoidable dirt-tracking, but also: hard-soled shoes on the hardwood floors, right outside the bedroom door, at the crack of freaking dawn.
  • Bringing home a giant bag full of work plus a laptop every single night, complaining loudly and extensively about its weight, and then not touching it until he leaves for work again the next day.

List five things that you believe your spouse or significant other would say about YOU.

  • When I cook, I leave the dishes in the sink until after. He’s a clean-as-you-go kind of person (although “clean” is relative, see #2 above), but I can only handle one project—the actual cooking—at once.
  • Control-freak tendencies (hi, Julie!). I’ve banned him from doing the laundry, for example.
  • Corollary to the above: Redoing things he’s done (such as loading the dishwasher) to my satisfaction.
  • Internet addiction. Must… check… e-mail… Must… read… blogs…
  • Letting the kids strew toys all over the floor and not picking up for hours or days.

List five UNIQUE reasons why your spouse or significant other is the greatest. Unique means I don't want to hear about what a great father he is. I already KNOW that.

  • He’s extremely generous with both material goods and praise/compliments, for me and for everyone around him.
  • He’s a creative dad (not the same thing as “great,” OK?). He comes up with fun projects (see below), games, and goofy songs, and is excellent at getting us out of disciplinary jams with distraction and humor.
  • He’s very handy (as well as a good cook). He can fix or figure out anything, and he’s usually at his happiest when he has some sort of project going on. After all, he built this. He can also draw, a talent I admire since I utterly lack it.

  • He can be quick to anger, but he’s usually quick to get over it too (much quicker than I am). He doesn’t hold grudges.
  • He’s very loving and loyal to his family. I know that the kids and I are his first priority, with his mom, grandmother, aunts, and even my parents and siblings immediately behind. This January, he flew back to his hometown just a few days after we’d returned from there. His great-aunt, wife to a beloved uncle and mother to a beloved cousin, had died, and he wanted to be at the funeral. He also sends his grandmother fresh flowers every month.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Found a peanut

Both kids had their well-child check-ups last week. See? Another advantage (for me) to having birthdays one day apart. All is well. Both are firmly in the 10th percentile for height/weight. (Jo is a perfect square at 37 inches and 37 pounds; Opie is 28 inches and all of 19 lbs). I was a shrimp myself as a kid so it's no wonder. I enjoyed it since it helped me stand out a bit; I felt special. So I'm sure Jo will work it to her advantage (the ParentCenter Height Predictor says she'll be 5 feet even as an adult). As for Opie, I hope he gets a growth spurt somewhere along the way. It may not be fair or right, but short girls are cute, while short boys are wimps.

The appointment also confirmed that I love our doctor. He's a family practitioner so he treats all of us, and I really appreciate how much respect he has for parents' intuition and knowledge. We bump into him all over town and he actually knows who we are and remembers us (unlike our old pediatrician back in New Jersey; once when we saw her on a weekend because she happened to be on call, she said "...and you'll follow up with your regular doctor..." Uh, that's YOU, sweetheart). A few months ago when I discussed Opie's crappy sleep habits with Dr. B., he gave me some suggestions and handouts, but mostly his message was that there's no right answer, since every kid and parent is different; you have to do what feels right to you. That was really comforting.

...and a good segue to a report on Operation Opie Sleep. I don't know what snapped, but last week, with absolutely no forethought, discussion, or planning, we started sleep-training the boy. I don't have the stomach to let him cry it out. Call me a sucker, but I just don't think it's fair. So the new rule is that if he wakes up after he's been put into his crib (or when he's first put down for the night) he doesn't come out of the crib, but we don't leave him alone either. One of us stands next to him and gently lowers him back down every time he stands up and hurls a pacifier or three onto the floor.

The first few nights this took 2-3 hours (for a during-the-night waking), with Jeff and I alternating cribside duty every hour. The last two nights we've still had one wake-up, but it's been dispatched (by Jeff, no less!) in 30 minutes or less. So we have high hopes (please, PLEASE don't let me have just jinxed the whole deal). The nice side effect has been that Jeff has actually stepped up to help. Prior to this he handled very few wakings. At first this was because Opie wanted nothing to do with him, and refused a bottle; eventually it just became a habit, I think. So, wish us well. I'll report more in a few days.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter weekend bibs and bobs

(That's an expression my British sister-in-law uses—worth adopting, no?)

My parents visited this weekend and we had a great time. We hit our local children's museum for an egg hunt, which was a big success (we opted not to attend the one at our supermarket, which started at seven a.m.). Even Opie found a couple of eggs and was most proud of himself. Then I watched in disbelief as a bigger kid—she had to be at least 4 or 5—tried to take one of his eggs right out of his hand. I stopped her and said "No, that's his egg," and she wandered off. Pick on someone your own size, brat!

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day, in the 70s and sunny. Jo and my dad chalked a huge maze all over our driveway. It's been a big hit ever since. Every time we go outside we must walk the maze at least once. Our backyard and driveway are now officially strewn with all the big plastic toys of summer.

By 9:30 that night both my parents and Jeff were exhausted. I, on the other hand, was wide awake... anyone for a movie? Scrabble? Ice cream? Then I realized it was because they all had way more hands-on kid time than they're used to, while I had far less since our adult: kid ratio was 2:1.

The bunny hid some eggs for Jo to find. She's still talking about how hilarious it was that one of them ended up in her shoe. Of all places! Jeff is still complaining that the basket that same bunny left was sorely lacking in chocolate. Apparently the Peeps, jellybeans, and color-your-own-cookie-with-these-markers-made-with-supposedly-edible-chemicals were just not sufficient.

Then, this afternoon I was chatting with the mother of one of Jo's classmates. This is a woman whose motto is "more is more." Her daughter's birthday party lasted 5 (count 'em) hours and featured swimming, movies, dress-ups, face painting, food, cake, candy, games, two craft projects, and two goodie bags. So guess how many eggs she hid? Each one contained candy, coins, or some small trinket (a barrette, a seashell, a superball). A dozen? Two dozen? Try over a dozen dozen. 150 eggs. For one child. My mind is well and truly boggled.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The sun is shining, the tank is clean

Since I do my share of whining here, I thought I should post a happy note. This morning was one of those rare ones where everything went right. Jeff left for work a bit later than usual, so I didn't have to handle all the morning prep singlehandedly like I usually do (translation: I was able to spend 8 minutes alone washing my face, getting dressed, etc., without Opie parked on one hip). Jo ate her breakfast, got dressed, used the bathroom, and turned off the television after one episode of Little Bear without any protesting or stalling.

Yesterday, both kids were crying and had to be peeled off of me at school; today, they both were excited to be there and had that "see ya Mom, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" mood going on. Jo's class was headed to the Y for swimming lessons this morning, so she had her new swimsuit on under her clothes. She flashed it to every teacher she saw, and each one responded with enthusiastic admiration. She couldn't wait to go on the school bus for the very first time. (Aside: How cool is it that "take Jo to swimming lessons" has been wiped off my calendar/to-do list, thanks to child care? I love it.)

Since we arrived earlier than usual (because of swimming), Opie got to eat breakfast with his class. How cute was it to see six teeny-tiny kids sitting on teeny-tiny chairs pulled up to a teeny-tiny table, each with a teeny-tiny bowl of Chex? You'd have to be a real Grinch not to smile at that scene. Opie had the biggest grin on his face. Having his own bowl and spoon is the ultimate power trip.

Then I hit the grocery store, came home and threw some stuff in the slow-cooker for dinner (oh yeah, Crock Pot, baby!), and was at my desk by 9. Sure, a perfect morning would've meant I didn't even wake up until after 9, but happy kids + mom feeling productive = a good start to the day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Good riddance

Last week, I thawed my last frozen breastmilk pop (for Opie, not for myself. In case you were wondering). Now that he’s a big boy of one, he drinks cow’s milk at day care; no more ferrying sippies of breastmilk every morning. Like Jo did, he hasn’t looked back; he barely seemed to notice the transition. He still nurses two or three times a day, but the breastpump has been retired.

Do I miss it? Hell no. It was, and will remain, one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had—that strange combination of duty, diligence, drudgery, pain, humiliation, and no small amount of pride.

When I was pumping for Jo, I came up with a list (not again!) of secrets to my success. They’re not really secrets at all and if you are a pumper, you’ve probably figured out most of them on your own (Mrs. Wheezer has a nice collection of tips, which I heartily agree with and won’t repeat here—see right sidebar on her page). But for any new moms that may wander by, I present:
  1. Start with good luck. I was blessed with effortless breastfeeding from the start, which I know is far from the case for everyone. I never had trouble with supply or letting down for the pump. I had a generous maternity leave and a slow transition back to work, which gave me plenty of time to keep my supply up. I had a reasonable amount of accommodation at the office (although I pumped in so many borrowed spaces that I began to think of myself as Medela, the Lactating Gypsy). I even had a male officemate who was such a Sensitive Ponytail Man that he regularly offered to make himself scarce so I could stay at my own desk to pump. Lastly, I had a supportive boss who never begrudged me the time spent pumping. With Opie, I was working exclusively from home so things were even easier.

  2. Start early. Way before my maternity leave with Jo ended, I started pumping at least once a day at home. This gave me practice with the pump and a nice large stockpile of frozen milk—an invaluable backup for those days when I left my milk in the freezer at work, or missed a pump session, or (the worst, most sinking feeling ever) spilled some of the milk. I didn’t do this with Opie (I don’t know why—just lazy I guess) and really regretted it. The day before he started child care, I had to pump after every nursing session to try to come up with enough milk to send with him the following day. That was not fun. He also went through a voraciously hungry time when he was around 4 months old. I had to add early morning and late-night pumping sessions to keep up with him. If I’d had more of a frozen stash I wouldn’t have been so stuck.

  3. One is good, two is better. Speaking of backups, it’s nice to have an extra electric pump. I kept one at the office and one at home so I wouldn’t have to haul it back and forth every day. I just washed the washable parts in the sink at work, and brought them home periodically to throw them in the dishwasher. I also had a manual pump as an additional line of defense (good for random moments of engorgement while traveling).

  4. But one hand is better than two. Mastering the one-hand, two-breasts pump session was a revelation. (I balanced one collecting cone/bottle thing in the crook of my left arm, then held the other one with my left hand, leaving my right hand free. There’s also the Whisperwear, which seems freaky, but if it works for you I’m all for it. I’ve also heard of people securing the cone thingamajigs with their bra, but I was always too afraid of spillage to try that.)

  5. Go with the flow (har, har). As with All Things Motherhood, when you’re pumping you have to be ready to think on your feet, soldier on in the face of adversity, and maintain a sense of humor. On the very first morning of my very first day back at work after Jo was born (after I’d been successfully using the pump for weeks, see #2 above), I couldn’t get the pump to work. I was painfully engorged and freaking out. I tried everything, but the stupid pump wouldn’t turn on. Finally, I had to figure out, on the spot, how to express milk by hand (in retrospect, I should’ve just popped downstairs to the nearby drugstore and bought a manual pump, but that didn’t occur to me at the time). It turned out the pump needed a new A/C adaptor. And the same damn thing happened when I started pumping in earnest for Opie. What the hell?

    I never pumped in a moving car like Julie, but I had my share of wacky moments. Who knew that at precisely the moment I was busily pumping away in front of an open window, a strange man would be measuring my neighbor’s roof, right at boob-level about 20 feet away? I shared another one of them at The Pumping Project—go there for laughs and solidarity. And if you're in the stretched-nipple, millileter-measuring, outlet-searching, "discreet backpack"-toting throes of pumping, consider this a virtual high-five—you're one tough mama.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Totally tubular

My last post was sort of mistitled. Instead of being about the boy, it was really more about me, me, me. So here's an extra dose of Opie.

Aside from sleeping, which he most definitely prefers not to do on his own, he is very independent. He rejected bottles in favor of sippies at eight months, and he now uses just one hand to hold up the cup, like he's Mr. Cool. He loves table food and please, no itty-bitty, there's-no-way-to-choke-on-this bites. He wants something he can grab onto and gnaw.

As I think is typical of many second children, he plays on his own quite well. Current favorite activities are pushing a toy broom and stirring the pots in the kiddie kitchen (the picture is pre-haircut, obviously). He loves toy phones and remote controls and holds them up behind his ear as if having an important conversation.

He crawled at nine months, and seemed to care less about getting from point A to point B on the floor than about getting to the nearest vertical surface. He immediately started pulling up, cruising, and climbing. Put anything taller than about 8 inches anywhere near him and he's immediately trying to figure out a way to get on top of it, hoisting his left leg as high as it can go. He's already done a swan dive off the top of Jo's bed — over the safety rail.

He doesn't say any words yet, but he has quite the repertoire of sounds and snorts. His hearing is muffled by the constant presence of fluid in his ears (more often than not infected) so he's getting ear tubes in a few weeks. We're placing all our eggs in this basket, hoping it's the magic cure to his inability to sleep through the night. If it doesn't work, I'm hiring a night nurse. Or enrolling him in baby boarding school. One or the other.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

About a boy

Yesterday was my Opie’s first birthday. I’ll never know if it’s because he’s my first boy or my last baby, or just because he’s a different little person than his sister is, but I feel such a fierce love for him. It’s nothing at all like my feelings for Jo, who I (of course!) love deeply too. But she was, and mostly still is, easy to adore. She was a sweet, charming baby, captivating everyone around her effortlessly and completely. Now, at 4, she has plenty of spirit and sass, but she’s so clever and cute that you can’t help smiling at her.

But Opie. He was and is a challenge, a finicky little boy who knows just what he wants and protests mightily when he doesn’t get it. And what he usually wants is me. For months I was the only one who could hold him, soothe him, feed him, put him to sleep, comfort him in the night. Since none of us had any choice in the matter, he adjusted to the caregivers at his child care center. But at home, he wouldn’t stand for Daddy or Grandma or anyone else caring for him.

Anyone who’s held this favored status knows that it’s both a blessing and a curse. Of course I sometimes resented being on call all the time. Of course I loved being so special and important in my little boy’s eyes. But I also developed a defensive stance, a tough armor that envelops us both. While I can complain about his crying, his night wakings, his constant tugging at my pant legs, no one else better say a word—that’s my baby boy you’re talking about!

I’ve heard lots of moms say that they’d throw themselves in front of a train to save their kids, that they’d fight off a wild animal. I never felt that protectiveness, deep in my bones, until Opie. I believed it, in theory, when I had Jo and even before that. I mouthed the words. But it took Opie to awaken the feeling for real. If we’re ever confronted by a locomotive or a bear or playground bully, I’m ready. And I thank him for that.

Happy birthday, Opie-O.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

4 things I like about her

In honor of Jo’s fourth birthday tomorrow, four stories. Oh, crap. It’s another list! Sorry.

1. The other day she put on a fancy dress (for no reason except vanity), then reminded me that it was the one she was wearing when Opie “got appetizered.” Well, yes, there was water, and oil, and we ate a big meal afterward, but…

2. Our next-door neighbor, V., told us yesterday that the previous day, our neighbor from two doors down, K., had called him just to tell him to look out the window at Jo parading down the driveway in her red raincoat and pink rainboots, twirling her Strawberry Shortcake umbrella over her head. K. was swooning over the cuteness and had to make sure someone else saw it too. I’ll say it again—I love our neighborhood.

3. One day last summer, her daily report sheet from child care read: “Jo spent a lot of time trying to get across the monkey bars today. She is determined.” You said it, Miss Ann. She may be the tiniest kid in her class (or in any group of 3- or 4-year-olds she’s a member of; she only recently topped 36 inches tall) but she is fearless. Jump into the pool, then bob her head under water 5 times? She’ll give you 10 or 20. Ditto for tall slides and climbers and bigger pushes on the swing. If it’s a physical challenge, she’ll take it on. It’s one of the things I most admire about her, since I was an unbelievable chicken as a kid.

4. We asked her what she wanted to have for her birthday dinner, fully expecting her to say “chicken nuggets” or at least “macaroni and cheese.” Do you know what she asked for instead? “Cous-cous [which she calls “cous-coo”]. And meat.” What kind of meat? The red kind or the white kind? “The white kind.” Chicken, or pork? “Pork. And something special to drink: Lemonade!” So, there you have it: Tomorrow night’s menu. Is my kid a freak or what?

Plus 4 pictures, and one to grow on. (That's the famous Tacy in the 2nd one, at Jo's first birthday party.)