Monday, December 21, 2009


In the summer of 1997, my friend Kristen and I were at my friends Avery and Kim's house. I don't remember why now, but we were there on a Saturday morning and Avery and Kim decided we should all go to the animal shelter to help them pick out a dog, so off we went. I spent some time with the cats, just checking things out, wandered out to the dogs, and checked in with Avery and Kim frequently, as they looked at various options. And I poked around some, and kept circling around one enclosure that held the cutest little white dog and its companion, a cocker spaniel. I pointed the bright eyed curious white pup - young, about a year old - out to Avery and Kim, but they dismissed her quickly without much of a glance. I pointed her out to Kristen, who agreed she was cute. A volunteer wandered over, and suggested I take her out of the cage into a grassy area and interact with her a bit. Oh, I'm not here for a dog, I protested, but the volunteer suggested it would help the dog to get out a bit and what was the harm. The label said Aja (which is a Steely Dan album pronounced kinda like Asia), and the volunteer told me she and the cocker spaniel had been dropped off a few days before. And honestly, the volunteer continued, I think the poor dogs were relieved they were left here, relieved to leave those previous owners behind.

So out to the grass Aja trotted. There were other people there with others dogs, trying them out. Aja stayed close to me, and when I knelt down she kept beside me, warily eyeing the other dogs and people, seeking shelter in my shadow. Kristen was delighted with her, and the volunteer smiled at how friendly she was. But no, I said firmly, not for me, I rent, I have housemates, I have a cat. We left that day with Eddie, a gorgeous shepherd for Avery and Kim. Don't you want to put your name in for the westie mix? the shelter volunteers asked. But I said I couldn't.

And yet I couldn't shake her from my mind. I checked the website and their phone hotline. The little westie was described as brighteyed and smiling all the time, and indeed she had been. Kristen phoned me and said I should think about it. I talked with my then-boyfriend Rich, and mentioned it to my housemate Ryan, who seemed agreeable. So I called our landlords, who said a dog was fine with them. And a couple of days later, I called the shelter, only to learn she had been adopted. Oh well, not to be. The volunteer on the phone said to me, I've never seen a dog bond with a person they way you two did and not have the person put a hold on her. It's too bad.

Life continued that week, and that weekend I went to pick up my mom, who was traveling up from Florida visiting my Aunt Betsy (Elizabeth's namesake). I picked her up at the airport, we drove down to the Shore, I dropped her off for the visit, and I was spending a day or two with them in Virginia before I headed home. The next weekend I was to do the reverse - picking my mom up and dropping her back at the airport. At some point I checked my messages (pre-cell phones, remember calling in to see what messages had been left?). First message was Avery - the animal shelter had called them, trying to track me down, and could I call them? The next message was the animal shelter. The adoption on the westie had fallen through - a home visit had nixed the adoption - and they had remembered someone else had been interested, so they looked back through records, found Eddie's adoption, and called Eddie's new owner to see if I might be interested. I flew downstairs - Mom! Aunt Betsy! I think I'm getting a dog!

After relaying the whole story, they agreed it was meant to be. The only thing left was to decide on a new name, because a Steely Dan album title was not going to cut it. I had a much-loved cat I had acquired at FSU. My housemate at the time had agreed I could get a cat only if he could name it. Matt was more than a little unusual, which mostly manifested in his obessive love of Andre Agassi. He cut his hair like Agassi, bought all the Agassi outfits from Nike, including the neon wristbands and headbands, and played tennis like Agassi. I believe he even had a Rebel camera. I intro'ed Matt to a friend in the oceanography department who started playing tennis with him, and said, Matt could actually be considered an idiot for the Agassi obsession, except he was so sincere about it, it was kind of charming. So, no big surprise the cat's name became Andre. My mom, Aunt, and I considered naming the dog Brooke, but probably a good decision to rule it out. My mom actually came up with Aggie - short for Agassi, kinda, and similar enough to Aja to not confuse the dog. So somehow, thanks to a random housemate from 1991, who I haven't seen or heard of since I don't know, 1993, probably, ended up with pets named for Andre Agassi. I don't even remember Matt's last name (and it took me a few minutes to even come up with his first name), so can't even look him up on Facebook. He was an undergrad I had found through the student housing office, since I moved kinda blindly from Maryland to FSU without even a visit before enrolling. I remember he was planning to go to law school, and had political ambitions. I wonder where he is now. Nice guy - I wonder what he thought of the crystal meth admission from Agassi? Anyway.

So I came back from the Eastern Shore and called the shelter. They told me the home visit had failed for the previous applicant because she had other pets that appeared uncared for. I eyeballed the 18-pound Andre and knew we'd pass that test. The home visit showed up a few days later. He said, yeah, I should tell you that the dog's companion had been adopted, leaving Aja in the cage by herself, and she had gone a little pound crazy by herself. The shelter was not a good atmosphere for her, and she was slated to be put down if I did not take her. He suggested she not be crated, since she was chewing the bars of the cage at the shelter. But he said it all looked good.

So I drove back to the Shore, picked up my mom, and stopped at the shelter, meeting Rich there, to pick up my cute new dog Aggie on our way back to my house. And my god, she looked terrible!! The shelter had NOT been good for her. She had slowly, over those roughly 2 weeks there, lost her little mind. She was gnawing through the cage, so much so she had worn sores on her snout. Her little smile was gone, replaced by a frenzied, panicked barking. Her bright eyes and shiny coat were dim and grimy. Rich's and my mom's look of alarm gave me pause, but it was me or the kill room, and so Aggie came home. It was a weekday, and we stopped by my office, who all knew the story, and buzzed them to come down and check it out. There I was driving, Aggie crazy in my mom's arms, and my colleagues gathered around the car. My friend DJ called her Bandit, and to this day refers to her by that name.

The home visit guy had suggested gating the small bathroom off my bedroom, so she would be contained but not crated and could see me. But she chewed on the doorframe, on the bathroom vanity, on the floor trying to get out. The shelter had described her as housebroken, but that appeared not to be the case.

Let's just say the first two weeks were pretty much a disaster. Rich and Ryan were in mutiny, and I wasn't exactly happy myself. I think it was Rich who said, let's try a crate, at this point what have we got to lose? And so we did, and presto - biggest problem solved. She slept in the crate just fine, and we could put her in the crate when she needed to calm down. This by no means solved everything. Thank goodness Comcast only charged $1 for replacement remote controls. She developed an obsession for stealing the remote control and chewing it to pieces. A vet later said it showed her love for us, as the remote was strongly scented by our hands. I don't think Ryan bought that explanation. I think we went through nearly a dozen, and once she chewed a remote in less than 20 seconds. Ryan was watching the news one morning, left the remote on the coffee table, and went back to his room. He and I passed in the hallway and said good morning, and by the time I made it to living room, mere seconds later, the remote was destroyed.

About a month or so after getting her, I took her to be professionally groomed, dropped her off and came home to an empty house. Ryan was out, new housemate Cynthia was gone, and the house was all mine and Andre's. We napped on the couch and just enjoyed the sounds of nothing. No chewing. No worrying. No wondering what the dog was into. Nothing. The grooming place called and told me she was ready and I replied, when do you close? How long can I leave her there?

There's more, so much more to the Aggie story. The failed clicker training. Ryan's dress shoes. The linoleum in the kitchen. The barking. The endless barking. The escapes. The energy. The shake can. A simple hush command. Ryan in a frenzy flipping the couch she would hide under, and then building a plexiglass barrier so she couldn't hide under that couch anymore. (It is a miracle Ryan still speaks to me). The pee that she couldn't control when she was excited.

It took many a year, but she did mellow. And she did try to be a good dog. Due to the barking and some unfriendly neighbors, she came to the office with me every single day for about a year and a half and made lots of friends (though despising John, the Fed Ex guy). Andre had a fairly high level of disdain for her, but she loved him - and even jumped in to defend him once during a tussle with a neighbor's cat. And she was fun to walk. And she was a whiz when hiking. She'd stick close enough, and turn back and look when she reached a fork in a path. I'd point the direction and she'd head that way. Early on, we had many a fun hike at Catoctin with Kristen. And she was amazing at the Billy Goat trail at Great Falls. I remember us hiking with Murph, who kind of rolled his eyes at her white fluffiness, but she could do that entire tough, rocky trail with just one assist at one high drop - she'd find a way up and down every other rocky area. She was depressed when Andre was gone in 2000, and I worried about another cat, but Harrison put her in her place quickly and she respected that. (OK, she was scared to death of Harrison.) And of course, when Elizabeth and then Andrew arrived, Aggie took that displacement in stride. One thing that Rich did not type in November, when we first thought something was wrong, was that she had bitten a neighbor child, and snapped twice at Andrew - a clear sign something was wrong and she was not feeling well. When Andrew had started crawling, we had watched him crawl over and over Aggie without her batting one of her long eyelashes. So something was up. We didn't know it would lead to this, and so quickly.

On Friday Rich and I said goodbye to our 12.5 year companion. She was woven tightly into our family story, and her loss leaves a hole. Her flaws and bits of crazy made her what she was, and we weren't ready to say goodbye. She loved a good snowstorm, though my former housemate Cynthia remembered another of her earlier quirks - she couldn't, or wouldn't, relieve herself on snow, so we had to dig down to the ground to allow her to go to the bathroom, or wait til she found an area with minimal snow out on walks. Just another quirk that made her her. And more practically, that dog was a vacuum cleaner - just the amount of sweeping we've had to do around the dinner table has amplified her absence. And living in the city, walking a dog twice a day plugs you into the neighborhood. We have to tell many of our neighbors - some whose names we don't know, though we know most of the dog's names, that she's now gone. I wonder if Edith, the corgi down the street and her arch enemy, will miss her.

And now, she and Andre are together again.

I just never expected to miss her this much.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Not quite

I know, we've been bad bloggers lately. Just sort of gave up on NaBloPoMo and never came back to it. We both were sick in Florida, and I never really got better and developed a nasty sinus infection that is only now clearing up. So it's been a bit of a break.

And we continue the break from regular programming. Sadly, we have learned that the little dog isn't exactly indestructable, at least when it comes to cancer. We just found out she has a particulary insidious form of cancer, one that is untreatable. We had hoped for more time, but it looks like that is not to be.

So a roundup of her greatest hits. She's always been a photogenic dog. In 2002, just before Ryan was leaving for New Zealand, we came up with a brilliant plan. Knowing how much Ryan would (not) miss Aggie (though Aggie desperately misses Ryan), we designed a way for Ryan to remember Aggie all year through.

(this remains one of my all time fav pics of her)

Why yes, yes we did used to have a lot of spare time, why do you ask?

(Ryan's wedding was in May, hence the bridal shot)

We had a bunch of copies made, and gave them to family as well. But giving it to Ryan - it was priceless.

Priceless! We laughed SOOO much. It makes me laugh now to remember.

We don't have pictures of anyone else receiving it except my parents. I also remember laughing hysterically as we hinted to my sister that we had something good for Christmas. She came close to guessing, but was surprised by the finished product.

Aggie has been many things over the years, but she's always been a good sport. And a cute dog, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Happy birthday little guy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Visiting friends

We're on our way to visit friends pre-holiday. Rich's college friend Adam has three boys, 10, 8, and 6 years old. We last saw them a year ago, and E was particularly taken with Connor, the middle boy.

Driving on our way back from seeing them, Elizabeth leaned forward and said dreamily, mommy, do you know what I'm finkin' about?

I'm finkin'about.....Connor! she said with a smile.

She talked about him for a long time after (never mentioning the other two).

Rich has got his eyes on this already.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

more milestones

In September, my friend Vickie (now a private blog so I won't link) posted that she let her daughter, just a month older than Andrew, pick out which book was read to her at night. This never even occurred to me as an option, so we tried it. And darn if Andrew didn't pick Goodnight Moon every single time. We'd offer 2-4 books, rearrange them, and he consistently picked Goodnight Moon. And then he started letting out a little giggle (a real giggle, heh-heh, not the inhalation hiccup) when we would open the book.

He's still a big Goodnight Moon fan (a book that never really appealed all that much to Elizabeth - she liked it but could take it or leave it), but now he loves Doggies by Sandra Boynton.
Each dog makes him giggle. And nine dogs - well, the 9 dogs howl on a moonlit night. Aaaooooooooooooooooohhh.

Two nights ago, I opened to that page and he let out a very gentle, tentative ah-ooh. Last night I took Andrew into the bathroom, where Rich was getting Elizabeth ready for bed, to show Rich what he was doing. But there was too much other excitement in the bathroom so he wasn't interested, and then somehow Doggies ended up dunked in the (clean) toilet (perhaps this is TMI, but when Andrew is in the bathroom when Elizabeth is conducting her evening business she calls him the poop grabber. Not that he's ever actually grabbed any poop, but that's merely because we have prevented said grabbing from occurring). Luckily, Marshalls today had another copy, and when I brought it home this afternoon Andrew again tested out Ah-ooh. And then looked so pleased when Elizabeth and I laughed with him and started howling ourselves.

And tonight, when Gee left for the day, he waved and I swear he said bye bye.

And he's also become a pointer. Just happened a couple of weeks ago. He wasn't doing any pointing at all, until suddenly he was. He makes another litle sound when he points - Rich thinks it sounds like 'look!' but I think it sounds like 'wha?'

These are the fun milestones. Can't wait to hear what he says next.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a little football

Some pics from September, our first football game of the season. Since the camera cord is MIA, time to catch up.

We picnicked on the lawn pre-game. A friend was married that weekend in Charlottesville, and while we couldn't make the wedding, we did make the post-wedding next day football tailgating party.
We had a great time.

Elizabeth really does intently watch much of the game. Andrew was pretty into it, too.

Though I've forgotten the boy actually did nap at one point. Even in a stadium full of nearly 60K people. Now, quiet house, no one around? Not so much.

He does love football, though. TV doesn't capture his attention the way it did (does) Elizabeth's. He'll glance at her shows, or dance to music. But when football comes on? He loves it. It even merits the special Andrew chuckle. (And once we have find the camera cable, you'll hear it too - actually managed to get it on video).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I think it was Rich - or possibly Ryan - who first started calling Aggie indestructible. So, a hefty bill (ouch) later, we find out the dog has an UTI. A little medicine and she'll be fine.

At 13, anytime something seems a little off with her, I think, ok, this is the beginning of the end. So tonight I asked Rich what else the vet said, and he said, do you really want to know? Of course! Well, her bloodwork was perfect and the vet said she's in excellent shape.

This dog is going to live forever. Or maybe it will just feel like forever.

(I kid, I kid. But you try sleeping while she's yipping her fool head off for 40 minutes every night. She's still in lockdown for a few days - we hate to do it, as she is generally great at sleeping in E's room or ours, but you try stepping in a cold puddle of pee after you're awakened at 3 am by a crying child and see how you like it - seriously there's only so much we can handle, and we are maxed out right now.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poor Old Dog

We depart from the usual stories of our children for one about our poor old dog. This isn't an Ol' Yeller story. She's more or less fine - she goes to the vet tomorrow for a check up.

We've had Aggie since Susan adopted her as a 1 yr old pup from the DC animal shelter in 1997. She was not treated very well by her previous owners and kind of went "pound crazy" just before Susan rescued her. To say she was a challenge out of the gate was an understatement (about half a dozen cable remotes, a roommate's shoes, and the linoleum floor in the group rental house can attest to that) Over the years she's become a very loving, loyal dog. Overall, she's adjusted very well to the addition of Elizabeth and Andrew. It may be though that her age is catching up to her.

Ag is over 13 yrs old, and she's beginning to show her age. Even when she was 11 or 12, she could muster the energy of a 2 yr old pup. Not anymore. She has more and more difficulty getting up and down stairs and would rather saunter for walks than her former brisk pace.

Ag in snow (from 2005)

The past few weeks have been a real challenge with Ag. She's been doing her business in the house, particularly on the rugs in the living room, Andrew's room, and Elizabeth's room (we recently bought a steam cleaner which has come in handy). She wants/needs to go outside much more frequently that usual, so I'm thinking it might be a treatable condition. Still, it could just be a sign of her age. She's sneaky - she'll quietly slink off to a room, do her business, then go curl up somewhere until we find the mess. The last straw was the other night when I went into Elizabeth's room in the middle of the night to find 3 spots and a pile of poop. Unpleasant. She was still curled up in the dog bed in E's room acting as if nothing was wrong. Could be that she's sending a message. More than likely though she just needs to be checked out, thus the trip to the vet tomorrow.

We now have her overnight in her crate in the kitchen. She doesn't mind the crate but has really become accustomed to sleeping upstairs. She whimpers, whines, and yelps for about 40 mins each night. We feel bad, but we just can't trust her in the middle of the night in our room or anyone else's. Hopefully, we can give her some meds and get past this troublesome time.

And now back to your regularly scheduled escapades of Elizabeth and Andrew...

- Rich

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bath Time

A quick one as it's getting late and kind of tired from a long weekend. And still fighting this #$!% cold.

I've posted on the bath time routine before. That was only with Elizabeth though. The routine is quite different with Andrew in the mix.

Andrew is a very busy little guy. The shelf that runs the length of our tub is at the perfect height for him to peer at and grab things. He'll start with toys then move on to the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body scrub, etc. It keeps him entertained which is important. Except that he is constantly up and down, up and down, grabbing something, playing with it for a minute or two, then getting back up there to grab something else. Eventually, most of the contents of the shelf ends up floating in the tub.

Since he's not walking yet, he's not all that surefooted and so I keep one hand on him at pretty much all times. We used to use a handy little seat that would keep him slightly contained. He learned pretty quickly how to climb up out of the seat which became more dangerous than just keeping him in the tub. So the seat sits on the shelf.

Elizabeth likes the seat and is still small enough to wedge herself into it. It's kind of funny. She really gets a kick out of sitting in there. It makes it easier to wash her up because she actually needs help climbing out so she's somewhat held hostage. Most of the time she doesn't use the seat, which makes it challenging to wash her up while keeping a hand on the little guy. Not to mention that she likes to "help" me wash Andrew which mostly amounts to dumping buckets of water on the little guy's head when I'm washing his hair. This amuses Elizabeth to no end. Tonight, she took it upon herself to put some conditioner on Andrew's hair as well. He didn't get any in his eyes and actually seemed to enjoy the attention from his big sister.

Washing Elizabeth's hair is exhausting. It's a constant negotiation usually resulting in my dumping water on her head and causing her to cry, "My eyes! My eyes!" It's just water. She can be quite the drama queen when she wants to be. I have to do this twice - shampoo and conditioner - because of all the frizz and knots in her hair. It's a tough routine and usually leaves me pretty exhausted/exasperated.

I had to take my hands off Andrew temporarily tonight to finish Elizabeth's hair. In the seconds that took, Andrew managed to pull himself up by the knobs of the faucet and began dancing around while shrieking with delight. I could not stop laughing. It's not all bad.

Forgot to Add: Elizabeth did something that she has never done after the bath. After she was completely ready for bed, she noticed all the toys, etc. in the tub and said that she wanted to clean it up. She hopped in the tub and proceeded to put everything back on the shelf in mostly the right places. Daddy was very pleased!

- Rich

Saturday, November 14, 2009

dance class

We enrolled Elizabeth in dance class this fall. She loves it. Over the summer, she and I would watch So You Think You Can Dance - I would DVR it and she and I would watch the dance segments together, and then attempt to recreate some of the moves. So I knew it was time to bring in a professional. Two of her best friends in the neighborhood also signed up, so it's been fun to see them all in class together. She loves her leotard and tights and really, really loves the ballet slippers.

The big shocker of the class happened on the first day. The teacher opened the door of the studio, ushered all the girls in, and firmly shut the door. So the parents and caregivers wait in the lobby, taking turns peering through the glass door to catch glimpses. The class seems perfect - lowkey, just learning to move their bodies. I have to check in with the other parents. There is a Dance Institute that is closer to our neighborhood than the current studio, but the age requirements meant the girls couldn't all take class together there until this upcoming winter term. But it seems more serious than our cozy studio. So we'll see what we decide next.

View from the door - Elizabeth is on the far right

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grocery Trip

I had the opportunity to get out of work early this afternoon and spend some quality time with the kids. As I've done before, I decided to take both Sweetpea and the Little Guy to the grocery store. Cheap entertainment, right?

The store has these cool grocery carts designed like spaceships with a double seat, two seat belts, and two steering wheels. Thankfully, both kids wanted to ride (well, Andrew didn't exactly have a say in the matter) so that made things easier. The only downside of the carts is that they are like Chevy Suburbans -- they're absurdly long and difficult to navigate. I definitely catch the glares from the people with the new mini grocery carts zipping around the aisles. I guess it's karma -- I commute in our Mini Cooper, zipping past gas guzzling SUVs every chance I get.

The other great thing about the store is the free samples. There's usually no shortage of fruits, cold cuts, cheese, and bread (with dips) to snack on. Elizabeth needs to get the samples herself. Andrew was shoveling samples into his mouth like a madman. The turkey breast particularly fascinated him. His eyes got wide, his jaw dropped open, he lurched forward in his seat reaching out to grab he rolled turkey breast on the toothpick. I think he even drooled a little. I tossed the toothpick and gave him the meat. He smashed it into his mouth and gobbled it down. That's my boy. Andrew just ate whatever I handed to him - he didn't care. He was just loving all the snacks. Which helped keep him occupied and less interested in trying to escape from the cart.

Elizabeth must have had about 4 pieces of turkey. She loves the stuff. She wanted more bread - a specific kind of course, not just any bread will suit the Sweetpea's taste. Problem is the basket was empty. "It's OK, Daddy. We can wait." We weren't in a rush so we circled back around a couple times but they didn't put any more of her bread out. The woman behind the counter was probably like "Move it along already, Dad." So we did.

We had a good time and got some necessary shopping done. The cracker/snack aisle was the most challenging. E kept picking up boxes of cookies, crackers, etc. and wanted to buy them. I have her trained however.

"Daddy, I want to buy this. Is it on sale?"
(I check tag on shelf.) "Sorry, baby girl, but it's not on sale."
"Ok." (finds another box) "How about this one?"
If we can't find something on sale, we usually just move on. It works.

The only real hitch was at the end of the trip. This particular store offers kids free cookies and balloons. It's not possible to leave without getting them. (I have tried - it's just not worth the trouble) E grabbed a handful of cookies - "One for me, one for Andrew, one for Mommy." "What about me?" E grabs another cookie. "One for Daddy!" Not sure if Mommy got her cookie. Andrew definitely did not because, as E said, "He's a baby. He can't have cookies." Not true - they're harmless sugar cookies. So I let her get away with the scam.

We only got one balloon mostly because I didn't think Andrew would know what to do with it. He was fascinated with E's balloon though. He would look up at it with eyes wide and reach out his hands as we were getting loaded into the car. I had them both in and I stepped away for 5 seconds to move the cart to a proper location. I come back to the car to see Elizabeth full on sobbing - tears running down her red face. Andrew was sitting there happily, playing with E's balloon. The horror! She definitely can be a little drama queen when she wants to be. After trading the balloon out for a bad of toys, all was right in the world, and we drove home.

I need to find a way to do this at least once a month. It's good quality time.

- Rich

Thursday, November 12, 2009

tuckered out

Elizabeth is still loving school. And so far, she is a good student, except the teacher tells us she is a bit of a trouble-maker when it comes to naptime. They nap after lunch and recess for about an hour, and we were pleased that was in the schedule, because she needs a nap. However, school is too exciting for her - she refuses to sleep, which is ok, but according to the teacher, she also does not rest quietly and tends to get into mischief.

We asked her recently why she did not fall asleep or stay on her mat. Well, she said, the other kids throw things at me and I have to throw them back, or they whisper to me and I have to whisper back. So I can't sleep.

I suppose we are pleased she appears to be popular.

Which is why she comes home completely tuckered out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

one word

When Elizabeth was very small, I used to say to Rich that if I had to pick one word to describe her, it would be delighted. She was just delighted to be here, she took great delight in her surroundings, and her days were quite delightful.

I've been searching for a similar one word descriptor for Andrew. When he was quite small, my friends with children similar ages would talk about how the baby would follow the older sibling with his/her eyes and smile at the older sibling. For nearly everyone, that adoration of the older sibling started quite young. Not so for the little guy. Elizabeth would appear and Andrew would show one emotion: alarm.

We're over that stage, thank goodness. He mostly enjoys when she picks him up and hauls him around. He is furious when she takes things from him, and it's only a matter of time before he learns to hit back.

But one word for him. It's somewhere in the realm of interested-curious-calculating. When he looks around, I think his thought process mostly is: what is that, can I eat that, can I climb on that, once I climb on that what can I do then. But he's also pretty darned delighted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Caramel apples are tasty
But crayons are even tastier!

Monday, November 9, 2009

a brief list of things Elizabeth never did

  • ate dog food (many, many times)
  • climbed the steps repeatedly
  • ate crayons (heck, there were no crayons in the house 4 years ago)
  • gnawed on the remote control until the rubber backing peeled off
  • splashed in the dog's water
  • climbed on the coffee table to bang on the TV
  • tried to climb out of the crib before she was one
  • shrieked in anger, fists shaking, when something was taken away
  • ate a lollipop before she was one
Yeah. We're in for it. I'm sure we'll be adding to the list.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

long day

It was a gorgeous day today, and even with wracking coughs, we are slowly getting better. So despite everything there is to do around here, we decided to hit the zoo. two cool kids out for a day of fun
let's go!
Andrew watching the lemurs. When something strikes Andrew as interesting or funny, he lets out the oddest little chuckle. It's almost a cross between a loud inhalation and a hiccup. And totally unpredictable, so we'll never get it on video. The lemurs warranted.

Elizabeth has inherited one thing from her mother - after glancing at each exhibit, she was quick to say, let's go see something else. So we missed any pictures of her today as she was constantly on the move.

With the trip to the Zoo, Andrew didn't get an afternoon nap. We were eating dinner, when Rich said, is Andrew ok? Looked over and he was shoving his face with food, as usual, but while bobbing and weaving and closing his eyes. I put out my hand to steady his cheek, and he just sort of melted into dreamland. This tickled Elizabeth to no end.

One tired little guy.

And while I'm here typing, here's what passes for a typical night now -
8 pm - Andrew out in his crib
8:30 - Elizabeth out
9 - Susan crawls into bed, watches a DVR'ed show
9:30 - Andrew crying - put in the paci, and back off to dreamland
10 - Susan out
10:30 - Susan wracked with coughs, but back asleep quickly
11:30 - Andrew up again, but this time awake. Susan doesn't move. Rich rocks him back down in about 30 minutes
12:30 am - Elizabeth wracked with deep coughs. Susan doesn't move. Medicine, water, cough drop, a little story reading to calm her down, cuddles
2 - Rich gets to bed
5:30 - Andrew awake, nursing does not result in sleep. Perhaps mommy coughing prevents Andrew from drifting back off
6:30 - Susan gives up, take Andrew downstairs to play
7:50 - Andrew decides he is tired, wants up to be held, settles in for a nap
8:10 - Susan grows tired of sitting on couch holding Andrew. Maneuvers so she and Andrew are both laying on couch
8:50 - Elizabeth wakes and gets Rich up, both come downstairs. Elizabeth amazed at Mommy and Andrew
9:15 - Susan extricates herself, and heads to bed
11:30 - Susan awakens to Andrew's cries. Comes downstairs to find he has eaten a green marker. Crying because Daddy took it away.
11:45 - Rich takes both kids out, Susan gets ready and cleans up a bit
12:30 pm lunch
2 - head to zoo

Hmm. Rich is also sick, though much better. But after typing it out, he really is the hero of last night. Despite a fair amount of sleep, I'm still dragging.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Prognosis negative

Well, diagnosis negative is the accurate title, but bonus points to anyone who can identify the source.

Anyway, pediatrician suggested cough suppressant, since the cough is mostly horrific at night. If it's still bad, bring her in Monday.

Clinic turned out to be a breeze. But the strep test was negative, lungs are clear, so just (just!) a cold. Warm liquids, rest (ha), cough drops.

Friday, November 6, 2009


and tired of being sick. Time to test the Saturday services of our pediatrician, and figure out if we can find a health clinic open on a Saturday for Susan, too. Boo.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Cuddler

Elizabeth believes that the greatest reward she can bestow upon us is to cuddle with her at nighttime. I admit, that Daddy does like to cuddle with his little girl. But she literally dangles it in front of us like a carrot. If we do something that she wants:

"Daddy, I'm going to cuddle with you tonight!"

If you don't continue to give her what she wants or upset her in some way, she takes it back:

"I'm not cuddling with you tonight, Daddy. I'm cuddling with Mommy!"

The other day when she said this, my response was "Yay!" The look on her face was the definition of befuddled. She said it again, and I said "Yay!" again. She was momentarily confused, but I don't think she ever really thought that Daddy wouldn't want to cuddle with her. Ah, how the mind of a 4-yr old works.

Then there's the "bait 'n switch" which has been happening a lot the past several weeks. She'll say throughout the day/evening that she's cuddling with Daddy. And, at the last minute, after story and prayers,

"I want to cuddle with Mommy!"

Mommy does her best to encourage cuddling with Daddy, but to no avail.

Elizabeth would set time bounds on cuddling as well. She usually breaks it down into 10 mins, 5 mins, or 2 mins. If she says she wants to cuddle for 10 mins, that usually means she wants you to stay there until she falls asleep. If it's 2 mins, it means she wants to do something - play with her dolls, look at books, or rearrange her room - after a short period of cuddling. 5 mins is a wildcard. It could mean that she's really tired and falls asleep quickly. It could mean that she wants to chat for a while before being ready to fall asleep. Ya just never know.

She's pretty serious about the 2-min rule. She'll ask, "Is it 2 minutes yet?" repeatedly until you answer in the affirmative. After doing this the other night, she looked at me and asked

"Why are you still here?"
"Uh, I'm just not ready to go yet."

*momentary pause*

"Why are you still here? Why don't you go downstairs?"
"Um, ok."

Never a dull moment with the Sweetpea. Just don't let her know that we do still kind of like the cuddling.

- Rich

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the princess and her chicken

What is it about 4 year old girls that makes them deeply desire to be a princess for Halloween? Whatever it is, it's ubiquitous. We went to a birthday Halloween party and the first four girls who came in were princesses. 3 cinderellas and 1 tinkerbell, who I guess is not technically a princess but it was a big poufy dress nonetheless.
And others have already covered this, but when did Halloween become a never ending holiday? When I was a kid, there was trick or treating, plus our church always had a Halloween party. And I guess we sometimes dressed up for school? This year, we went to Ren Fest the Sunday before, and E wore the princess dress. There was a small party at school and Rich's office did trick or treating. Throw in the dress up birthday party, and she'd worn the dress 4 times before Halloween night. Speaking of the big poufy dress, as I fluffed it out repeatedly and watched her swish around, and let's not forget holding it up when she went to the bathroom, suddenly I could not help but think this dress was more of a pain than her wedding dress will be someday.
But it was adorable. Andrew was pretty much befuddled by the entire experience, but still had a good time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Name that Baby Chicken

OMG I love - LOVE - this chicken costume. So happy we could use it again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

And we're off......

Another November, another NaBloPoMo. We're in for the whole at least 30 posts in 30 days things. After all, if we could blog from the hospital last year, surely I can do this? Right?

Well, it's 10:25. Rich is in bed with his cold. Andrew is snoring from his cold. Elizabeth is coughing from from her cold. And I lost my voice somewhere this morning and my head feels like it's two sizes two big. But it's Day 1, and here's the post.

Last week I went through the archives here. We've covered a lot this past year and a few months. But my goodness what we've left out. Did you know we went to Massachusetts this summer? That we have a really fun tradition for Father's Day? That Elizabeth started a dance class and wears the cutest little leotard and tights every Tuesday? That Andrew not only claps and does how big is Andrew, but has been shaking his head 'no' for months? Or that he climbs stairs? Or that Elizabeth met the mayor? Or that we went to the beach a couple of times? Or visited the Polish embassy? Or, or or...heck that we even celebrated Christmas, or had a big party to celebrate his baptism?! I've wanted to post the pictures of Elizabeth the day we brought Andrew home from the hospital, but never managed that. We've done a terrible job of keeping a record! Why, if you only knew us from the blog, you'd think we were sick all the time, never slept, and had a lot of relatives with birthdays. So NaBloPoMo (national blog posting month) is the way to catch up.

When we started the blog, we backdated a whole lot of posts, so that we could launch with some substance to the blog. I had wanted to write back to Father's Day 08, but we ran out of steam and just launched. I've been wondering if I should write about things that happened in the past and then backdate. Which would flesh out the history, but might not make it clear I'm (we're) doing a post a day. Though I guess I could back post, and then do a daily posting pointing to the back post. Can't decide. So dear reader, what do you think? Should we flesh out our archives with events when they happened, or post them now, catch up on the past year, all in this month? Stay tuned to see what we decide, but input welcome. (oh, and at some point I'll get in here and fine tune the blog and add in more links etc). But, now, after the AwwClutter kickoff, I'm taking my too-congested head and no voice self to bed.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Sitting around:

Me: Feels like we've been sick forever
Rich: I know - feels like ten days not just this week
M: When did she first get sick? That's how it started?
R: Dunno. Can't even keep track anymore. What day did she miss school?
M: Tuesday
R: Right, Tuesday.
M: We didn't take her to the doctor though, did we?
R: No, remember she got sick, one day of a slight fever we kept her home, but then it was just a cold the rest of us got.
M: Oh, right. It feels like forever.
R: Wait, it wasn't Tuesday. It was last Tuesday.

So, forgive the infrequent posting as we head into NaBloPoMo. Soon enough you will have your daily fill. Meanwhile, I was too confident our sleep troubles were resolving. The weekend after this post, Andrew had a horrible sleep weekend. However, last night, despite the congestion, he slept til 6:45 am. He's still working on the steps, getting bolder but still prefers crawling.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Queen and prince

Elizabeth is the imperial queen. As an infant, she realized she ruled the universe - we jumped at her every beck and call. We existed merely to serve her. In fact, when she closed her eyes, we ceased to exist. The world slowed - nothing of any possible interest could happen when she was not involved. Thus, she slept the deep sleep of the confident monarch.

Andrew, on the other hand, is the upstart prince. The world moves, fast, and he needs to keep up. He doesn't want to miss a thing. Even when he naps, he must hurry up and get it over with, because new, exciting and fresh things await him on his waking. Besides, everyone wants to be with him and what is a little sleep but an impediment to having fun? And thus, we have what we have.

I love a good metaphor.

For those keeping track, Andrew from age 8.75 months to 10.5 months has been a terrible night sleeper - up once or for an awful week twice a night. And not just up, nurse, sleep, but up for an hour + each time. Last week he slept through (til 7 am) every other night, up an hour or so the other nights. This week has been slightly better. Maybe we are getting there. Maybe.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What else happens at 4

So, 4 is great and birthdays are fab, but there's the dark side, too - the annual doctor visit. And 4 is a doozy. Can you say 4 shots? All i can blame is sleep deprivation for the mistakes I made.

At Andrew's 9 month check up, he had his first (regular) flu shot, which needs a booster. Doc said just get it at the 12 month visit. But, he's healthy right now, we were headed to the doctor, so why not get the booster, too? And since I was taking both of them, why not give the nanny the morning off?

Mistake #1: visiting doctor alone with both kids
Mistake #2: 2 co-pays

So, we get there, get all checked in and sorted out who is getting what, and settle into the room. And that's when it hits me. How am I going to handle two kids crying from shots? How can I comfort one while the other has their shots? Yikes.

Elizabeth's visit is fine. Perfectly healthy, 50% for weight and height. Then, the doctor hits me with a new procedure. OK, go down to the bathroom and have her pee in this cup.

pee in a cup? Wha-?

First off, this is a girl with extreme bladder control who gets angry if forced to 'try' when she doesn't have to go. Gulp. Luckily, we can leave my bag in the room, but not Andrew. So off Elizabeth, Andrew, and I go to the bathroom. Also luckily, the doctor has explained to Elizabeth what she needs, so with this outside request, I am feeling more optimistic. So I ask her on our walk if she will go. She replies, well, I don't have to pee, but I do have to poop. Double gulp.

Into the bathroom the three of us go. Let me also explain that Andrew is one busy baby who cannot be contained. He has reached cruising altitude and is ON THE MOVE. Constantly.

Mistake #3: not asking if there was anyway anyone could watch Andrew during this procedure.

I figure it's a doctor's bathroom, and we're one of the first morning appointments. How bad can it be? So I let Andrew loose to cruise around the walls and crouch down in front of Elizabeth with the pee cup. I explain what we're going to do, keeping one eye on Andrew, and shove the cup under her. Miraculously, she pees right away - all over my hand - but I maneuver the cup enough to catch some of it. All this activity interests Andrew and he drops from the wall to crawl over and check it out, stands back up holding onto the toilet and cruises around trying to get in on the action.

I pull the cup out, whirl around to the sink, put down a paper towel, put the cup on the towel, turn on water, rinse my hand, and whirl back around to wipe and flush all in 10 seconds. And then grab Elizabeth, get her to wash her hands, put lid on cup, wash off cup, and wash my hands, all in 20 seconds, only to turn around and find Andrew happily splashing in the toilet. So I grab him, and wash off his hands. Whew.

We march back to the waiting room. And in comes the nurse. One shot for Andrew, 4 shots for Elizabeth, and we decide on the flu mist for her, too, to avoid another shot. We decide we'll give Andrew his shot, then the nasal mist, then the 4 shots. OK. Elizabeth watches Andrew get his shot, and when he starts to cry, she crawls under the exam table whimpering. I comfort Andrew, put him down, haul her out, hold her on my lap, and she gets the mist and starts crying. And Andrew starts crying, holding onto my leg. Nurse says she needs me to sit on exam table holding Elizabeth for the shots, and at my look grabs Andrew and sits him down on the floor. And he starts to cry. Nurse instructs me to hold on tight - TIGHT - to Elizabeth's upper body, then shoves E's feet between her own legs, and Elizabeth loses it at being so pinned down. And bam bam bam bam, with screams of pain, outrage, and fear growing each time. Nurse lets go, says, sorry, and walks out.

So I scoop up the two of them and collapse onto the chair and the three of us have a good sniffle. Andrew and I recover quickly, but Elizabeth cannot be comforted. I set her down, and she just holds onto her thighs, crying harder and harder. I gather the stuff, and usher everyone out. Elizabeth locks her knees together, still holding her thighs, and walks with a shuffle, still crying. And won't go up or down any steps.

Luckily, I remember there is a small store in the building and I desperately promise a treat. Which helps. A little. Sadly, the store does not offer whiskey shooters, and even if it did I still ahve to drive home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sweetpea turns 4!

My baby girl. She's 4 today. She's getting so big, so "kid like." Maybe it's the school (one of these days I will find out what she eats for lunch) and the fact that she got her first ever homework assignment this week (yikes!).

Maybe it's her growing interest in music and her ability to recognize and request songs. (It's a good thing I like "Beat It" and "Thriller")

Maybe it's the random quotations from her favorite TV shows. (looks in the pack & play tonight and exclaims "What the deuce?!?!" Thanks Penguins of Madagascar)

Maybe it's the drawings she says are of me and, yeah, I can see how they resemble me now.

Maybe it's the times she actually does listen to me. And when she demonstrates something I've told her before. And when she tailors our routines to suit her without losing the intent of the routine. (She makes me close my eyes while she brushes her teeth. Of course, I peek...)

Maybe it's that she's gone somewhat Mommy-centric lately. (Feels like it's been weeks since I've been asked to cuddle with her at bedtime.) I do still get the middle-of-the-night requests though. Yippee. Well, at least it's something.

Maybe it's the "I want to do it" -- and she actually does.

Here's some birthdays through the years:

She may never know the profound effect she's had on me. How she challenges me in ways I never thought I'd be challenged. How I've had to learn and grow with her. How she makes me want to be the best Daddy a little girl could have.

When does a little girl stop needing her Daddy? Not anytime soon, I hope.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

- Rich

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Oh, right

So I've forgotten that Blogger and facebook aren't a perfect overlap. If you're following on facebook, you're up to speed, roughly, on the crap in the past week + in our lives. If you're only reading here, you're totally in the dark on that and thinking only about Elizabeth's first week and what trouble Andrew might have gotten himself into with his new movements. So, a quick catch up.

Elizabeth started school last Monday, the 24th, and it seemed to all go well. She happily went to school each day, chatted animatedly about each day, and just seemed to adjust well. Thursday evening, though, she just lost it at dinner, which I thought meant she had just hit a wall of too much stimulation and was overtired. She was restless that night, woke up slightly warm, and after a dose of tylenol, we decided to send her to school. Got the call from the school nurse at 3 pm, 15 minutes before the end of the day - please come pick her up (I was already walking to school for pick up), she has a temperature of 102.8. Yikes! So we had a fairly miserable weekend, with her tracking a pretty high fever all weekend long and us alternating doses of Motrin and Tylenol. We canceled plans, missed a birthday party, canceled dinner with my brither and his family, and generally stuck close to the couch and the TV. And not sleeping at night. This past Monday, got in to see the doctor. We'd been asing Elizabeth what, if anything, hurt, and she could never really say. So imagine my surprise when she turned out to have a raging strep throat infection.

I was kinda pleased with my facebook update - making t-shirts that said, I went to school for 4 days and all I got was this lousy strep throat.

Now, one of my facebook friends from childhood remembered that strep was my nemesis growing up - I was a regular, at least twice per year. Let's hope Elizabeth hasn't picked that up from me.

So at least we got (a very strong dose of) antibiotics, and she was cleared to go back to school by Wednesday.

Tuesday, coincidentally, we had Andrew's nine month check up. The big news is his head has finally caught up with me and Elizabeth - she was off the charts in head size from birth on, whereas we've called Andrew peanut head since he was average. Now he's at 90th percentile, too - and 75th for weight (22 lb 13 oz) and 50th for height (28 inches). The doctor Tuesday suggested a strep test just to be sure, and it was negative. They drew blood and he had his Hep vaccine and the first of the regular seasonal flu shots (first time in your life you have a flu shot, you need two doses). The bloodwork showed his white count was slightly elevated, which the doctor said indicated fighting an infection, and she asked if he had been sick, which he had not, though I wondered if that explained his recent sleeplessness. He was fine Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday, but woke in the middle of the night Wednesday/Thursday with a fever. We thought maybe we'd wait and see, and he seemed ok Thursday, but we had a miserable night with him, so back to the doctor we went on Friday. I was positive he had strep, too, but surprisingly the test was negative. So we got the generic tylenol/motrin, rest, plenty of fluids talk. He work this morning with no fever, so I thought it was over, but as the day continued the fever returned. So who knows what tonight will bring.

Overall, E is pretty much recovered, and hating finishing her course of antibiotics. But of course we have several more days to complete. A is still alternating Tylenol and Motrin, and we hope is on the way to recovering. A good, solid night of sleep remains an elusive dream.

Meanwhile, Andrew continues his exploration of the world - and has figured out how to flush the toilet!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3 word Thursday


Friday, August 28, 2009


Andrew's developmental milestones are coming fast and furious.

I remember very distinctly when Elizabeth first played a game with us. We were driving back from a friend's wedding in RI, and had stopped for a feeding and change and gas. I was in the backseat with her playing peekaboo with her blanket, covering her head and pulling the blanket down, when she suddenly grabbed at the blanket herself, covering her face and then revealing herself. She was just over 10 months old.

On Sunday, the day before the 9 month mark, I had Andrew on my lap and was playing "how big is Andrew? Sooooooo big!", raising his arms and shaking them above his head. I said just the words, and he raised my hands up in the air and laughed. I thought maybe I imagined it, and was helping him out and he wasn't really raising my hands, so I let his go and asked, how big is Andrew? And he visually searched at his sides for each of my hands, grabbed them, and lifted them above his head. Later that day he did the same with Rich. This week he's built to raising his hands on his own, without holding someone's hands, but he's still a little hesitant and will sometimes resort to his old standbye, enthusiastic but polite clapping.

We're kinda working on the sign language, too. After eating we do our version of done, which was developed by Elizabeth. We shake our hands horizontally in front of ourselves (it always cracked Rich up how Elizabeth would shake just her hands, curling up her arms like a T. rex). Prior to this week, he's found our hand movements hilarious, and giggles each time we chant done and shake our hands. It's just been this week that he's started sort of doing it himself. Though after signing done the other day he proceeded to eat half a cup of blueberries! I've also noticed while eating he will clench and unclench his fist, which is the sign for milk. He's not using it as a sign, but I expect to see it any day.

Sadly, he's also perfectly hit another milestone - the 9 month sleep regression. I'll be honest, with Elizabeth, I wasn't a huge believer in this sleep regression milestone mark. I'd commiserate when my friends talked about their babies hitting it, but Elizabeth was always such a good sleeper - there were times she'd be up, but we could almost always tie it to teeth breaking through or something and the next night she'd do her usual 12 hours, so I didn't put much credence in the theory. This week he's been up at last three times in the night. Every.Single.Night. Not fun, my little man, not fun at all. And according to the theory, it just is what it is, and he'll be out of it soon. I hope. After all, he is still pushing those top two teeth, his crawling improves every day, I've just written how he's processing thoughts and learning how to respond, and he's still figuring out standing, too, and what might come next after standing. (Ack!) So no real surprise.

However, this is all occurring at the same time that we've got to transition him into a different bed. He's been in the co-sleeper, a small little bed, like a bassinet, but that attaches directly to the side of our bed. We love it, and used it with Elizabeth until she was nealry 11 months old, with her toes and top of head nearly touching the ends of the co-sleeper. We moved her into a crib because she just flat out outgrew the co-sleeper. Otherwise we loved it and would have kept her in there longer. We have the co-sleeper on Rich's side, and he loved waking and watching her sleeping next to him. But, Elizabeth was also a baby who didn't move around much. She barely even flipped over during the night, and at 10 months was still months away from crawling. But, an active boy who is already crawling, pulling himself up, and generally moving all around? Guess what, the co-sleeper is no longer an option!

Because one of these nights he is going to topple headfirst out of the co-sleeper onto the floor, and won't that be an interrupted night of sleep, then!

Last night Rich handled Andrew's first waking, at 10 pm. Typically, this first waking is him screaming his head off, and when you go into him he quickly settles down with a pacifier and falls asleep. Usually we don't have to even pick him up, just pat him a bit and he nods quickly back off, almost as if he'd had a bad dream. All bets were off last night, as Rich went into the bedroom and found Andrew on all fours, yelling his head off, in the middle of our bed!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Less Wordy Wednesday

Getting ready

Milk on the porch
She was more excited than this. The school does ask kids wear uniforms (public schools can't require, but can suggest). She insisted on her "church shoes."
Exploring the classroom. Her teacher is in the background.