Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not Waving But Drowning

There was a moment this afternoon, around 3:30 p.m., when Annie realized that we weren't going to go anywhere this afternoon (pouring rain, Jemma's cough spoiling our plans to go to the gym) and she wailed, "But I don't WAAAAAANT to be stuck in the HOUSE all DAY!" and I was sorely tempted to join right on in, crying in the middle of the living room.  It's just been one of those days, with a morning playdate that involved a lot too much high-pitched screaming and running (Annie's choice, not so much the other little girl), a coughing Jemma, and yes, of course, MORE RAIN.  Jemma has somehow (I assume Annie is to thank for this, via a friend or preschool) learned to use the word "butthead" appropriately in context.  The goat cheese I planned to use as part of dinner had tiny white mold colonies growing on it.  As an extra added bonus, I discovered a load of (forgotten) laundry in the dryer that never got fully dried and now smells questionably mildewy and must be entirely re-washed and dried.  

I tried; I really did.  I brought out the Play-Doh and let the girls use my cookie cutters on it to their heart's content.  We made cookies together.  I took them outside to draw with sidewalk chalk under the roof on the porch, where it wasn't wet.  When all that failed, I made a last-ditch effort to abandon said children for a few hours tonight and seek relief in drinks with Jason. Alas, babysitter = booked.  

Of course, in the midst of it all, I'm trying to keep it all together - hair blow-dried, dinner on the stove, smile on my face - when what I really wanted to do was put into action what I refer to as "Plan Q," where I plain old give up, retire to my room with a book and a beverage, and let the girls wreak whatever havoc they will for the rest of the day.  One of the struggles, I think, when you're fortunate to even have the choice of being a stay-at-home mom, is that you know it's an unthinkable luxury for a majority of women who don't even have the option and you don't think you should complain.  So you smile, you wave and chat appropriately with neighbors, you put the next load of laundry in the dryer and pack some cookies in a Tupperware to send home with the playdate.  You keep it together, right up until you DON'T, and then you probably take it out on one of your children by, oh, perhaps getting right down in their face and yelling "Absolutely Not!" over and over.  (Totally hypothetical.)  Then you feel horrible about THAT for the rest of the day.

But even as I'm typing this, I'm ashamedly aware that close, beloved friends of mine are right this minute struggling with things so much bigger and harder than this - with illness and death and new colicky babies and family stress.  And if that realization doesn't totally make up for a crappy struggle of a day at home with children, it does, as always, put things in perspective.  I'm drinking a glass of red wine, trying to will myself to do something productive with the rest of my evening instead of collapsing in front of the couch, and looking forward to tomorrow:  long run with Sarah, lunch with friends, pedicure, rain ending.  Because things are always changing, and this, too, shall pass.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Afternoon Card-Making

After resting today, Annie and I played together (dollhouse, Tickle Monster) before getting out the Art Project bin.  We had been talking about how much she loved her teacher, Miss Susan, and how she was sad that she wouldn't see her anymore, so we decided to make her a card. Annie got out markers, flower stickers, and glitter and went to work.  She was still decorating and writing when Jemma woke up from her nap.  

Jemma stumbled out of her room, still groggy with sleep, and instantly demanded, "Me, too!" So I pulled out a chair, helped her climb up, tried to tame her crazy nap hair, and asked her for whom she'd like to make a card.  "Baby Charlie," she replied.  She colored and fought Annie for some flower stickers until she deemed it "done."  Then I asked her what she wanted to write. She dictated:

"Dear Baby Charlie,

Sanks.  I love him.  I like his paci.  Love, Jemma."  

She helped me write the J.  Then we took a bike ride around the block, Annie flying ahead with her hot pink helmet askew.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I'm wondering, instead of a choice between either 80-degree sunny gloriousness with bathing suits and sprinklers and ice cream or three days straight of dumping-down buckets of rain, could we just get some normal Spring around here?  Or does that not exist anymore?  I'd like a few days of 60 degrees, partly cloudy, please.

When I awoke to rain this morning, I decided to take the girls on a Target run.  We've decided to use our "vacation house" this summer, since we're still paying that lovely mortgage and it's just sitting empty, so I wanted to stock up on a few things we'll need when we go down for the weekend (read:  Orla Kiely for Target plates; sunscreen and beach toys; cleaning supplies, paper products, and kitchen essentials; Orla Kiely for Target bowls . . .).  

When I announced this plan to the girls, I gave them a 10-minute warning about finishing up their play.  After the ten minutes were up, I requested that they get their coats and shoes on. This request led them to run, screaming, to Annie's bedroom, strip off their clothes, and try to put bathing suits on, all the while insisting that they needed to have a "Beach Party."  No, I said, it was time to go to Target; they could have a beach party right when we got home.  Fits were thrown, time-outs ensued, and I finally wrestled Jemma, at least, back into her clothes.  Annie continued to run through the house, defying my every request, and now I started having second thoughts about the wisdom of taking them anywhere out of the house this morning.  Jemma already wasn't feeling well, as she kept announcing in a pathetic voice designed to break a parent's heart, and now Annie was acting up, too.  But the more she whined and insisted she wanted to stay home, the more determined I was to go:  if I gave in now, she would just think that she'd gotten out of a trip to a store because she threw a successful fit.

We went to Target, in spite of the several time-outs that preceeded the trip; in spite of Annie asking at 9:35 a.m. on our way there, "When's lunch?  I'm HUNGRYYYYYYY;" in spite of the way she threw herself on top of one of those big, red, cement balls in in the parking lot when it was still drenched from the rain and got herself soaked; in spite of how Jemma kicked her rain boots off so many times and had to hold the Band-Aids; in spite of the fact that Annie's incessant talking about nothing ("How old was Dad when I was born?  When I'm eighteen, I'll get my ears pierced.  Can I get these earrings?  How old will you be when I'm eighteen? Is this dog food?  What do cats eat?  What KIND of cat food?  What's IN it?  Look!  That's a bathing suit for a born baby!  Can we buy that for baby Charlie? . . .") almost prevented me from remembering to buy laundry detergent, the one thing that we absolutely needed to get today.

Now we're home.  Jemma's coughing in her bed, Annie's singing in her room, and I'm noticing that the rain has stopped and the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds.  I'm looking forward to my hair appointment tonight and to our first trip of the season to our "vacation home" (I will continue to put it in italics, as it's such a ridiculous comment) this weekend.  We went to Target, dammit, and there's a bag full of Orla Kiely melamine waiting to be used.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hardly Anything Cuter

We did a lot of fun things as a family today once I had my long morning run out of the way:  ate chocolate croissants and cookies at Wealthy Street Bakery and checked out the PB&J tasting event next door at Art of the Table; went to the GR Junior League Kids in the Kitchen event, where the girls got to have their faces painted and try healthy food samples, among other things; played "Sleeping Beauty" and drank hot cocoa once the sunshine turned to rain and we were stuck inside; ordered Chinese for dinner; played Memory; and went swimming after dinner.  

Whenever we go to the pool at nighttime, we pack the girls' jammies.  We swim, then we shower and warm up in the saunas before getting jammies on and heading home, where it's great to be able to pop them right in bed.  I love the swimming.  I love sitting in the sauna with Annie's wet little body and watching her cheeks turn pink from the warmth.  I love her constant jabbering while we get dressed.  I love how she thinks she can blow-dry her own hair, how she turns the dryer on, lifts it up, and points it directly into the space on top of her head.  

Arriving home, their two little wad bodies in pink Gap jammies marching through the puddles with their rain boots and their hair still damp, I took a mental snapshot of the moment and thought that hardly anything is cuter than a little girl in jammies and rain boots on a rainy spring night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What I've Been Up To

-Taking melatonin (as recommended by my doctor) for my insomnia issues.

-Been awakened three nights in a row with uncomfortable stomach issues that last for two hours, then go away without any results.

-Googled "melatonin side effects" to see if it's causing my tummy troubles.

-Stopped taking melatonin.  

-Convinced myself (at 2:30 a.m.) that I am pregnant (HIGHLY unlikely) or have a rare form of intestinal cancer (Note to self:  Stop Googling things at 2:30 a.m.).

-Dragging both the girls (but mostly Jemma) all around town in the jogging stroller:  preschool, grocery store, playdates, park, library.

-Listening to Adele radio on

-Making homemade granola and, with the family, eating the whole batch in less than 12 hours.

-Loving the book, having good intentions, but not doing a single, solitary thing to de-clutter my home (surely making Peter Walsh, Expert Organizer oh-so-proud).

-Writing here and here and here.  (That last one is my mom's much-loved chicken lasagna recipe, which gets the most recipe requests out of anything I make.)

-Agonizing (still, still) about whether to send Annie to Kindergarten or Young 5's next fall.  (This deserves its own entire post, which I might get around to doing if I can begin to think rationally about the decision.)

-Oohing and Aahing over spring flowers everywhere we go, and stopping to smell them once in a while, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

She Has a Few Opinions

She'd like an ice cube in her water.  She wants to go down the stairs by herself.  Do not stand at the bottom to watch; go in the bedroom.  She wants to walk to get Annie from school, not take the car, and she will emphasize this by general screaming and back-arching when you put her in the carseat.  She does not want to hold your hand in a parking lot, nor does she want to be carried.  She does not want to wear a bib.  She wants one, specific story before bedtime and no other story will do.  She wants to use Mommy's toothpaste.  She wants to wear a dress today.  She wants her purple crocs.  She does not want apricots for a snack.  She does not want to share her scooter with Jonathan, nor does she particularly want him to hold the bubbles or use the slide.  She does not want to wear socks.  She does not want you to talk on the phone while you are playing dollhouse with her, but if you are, then she does want to talk to Grandpa.  She does not want help getting in the tub.  She is "fimming;" she does not want to get out of the tub.  If Annie is having a Band-Aid, she wants one, too.  She wants the blue pajamas.  She does not want to go to bed.  She "can do it myself."  She "did it!"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Best "Finale" Yet

After a few days in a row where we got to trick ourselves into thinking it was actually SUMMER instead of SPRING (Sunscreen!  Water toys!  Eating outside!), we woke up to cold rain this morning.  By 3:30 this afternoon, we were all in a funk, already tired of being holed up inside, bored by all our games and activities.  (How did we make it through the winter, I ask!  One day!  One rainy day, and we're climbing the walls!)

So we went to the pool, somewhere we haven't been all together for I-don't-know-how-long.  I bring the girls there approximately once a week, and Annie's going to start swimming lessons there in May, but it's been a while since we all went together.

When Annie and I got out to the pool from our locker room, Jason and Jemma were already in the pool, and Jemma was jumping in to Jason repeatedly, going under every time and loving it.  She's always been brave in the water, but never this brave.  Annie strapped on her life jacket and started jumping in, too, not minding going under and popping right back up every time.  We swam for half an hour or so, trading kids back and forth, encouraging Jemma in her enthusiastic kicking, watching Annie paddle around.  Then, on a whim, I unstrapped Annie's life jacket and started towing her around the pool, just hanging on to her hands.  She was OK with this.  So I put my hand under her tummy and made her kick and paddle, which she did only while making me promise every three seconds that I WOULD NOT LET HER GO.  I promised, but I was tempted, because I knew - I knew! - that she could stay afloat by herself.  

We'd been doing this for five or ten minutes when I took her a few yards away from the edge and said, "I bet you can swim to that edge all by yourself."  In response, she wrapped herself around the front of me like some sort of frog.  "Noooooooo!" she wailed, as I tried to tell her that I'd never make her do it but that I knew she could.  

"What if you try, and then you can have a prize just for trying?" I asked when she stopped wailing.  She froze.  

"How about . . . " she hardly dared breathe the word, "GUM."  And I had hardly had time to agree when she promptly let go of my neck, flopped down in the water on her stomach, and swam straight to the side of the pool, not going under at all.  She reached the edge, stood up, and turned around with a look on her face that was both ecstatic and scared.

"You did it!" I yelled.  "Annie!  I knew you could do it!"  She smiled then, a huge grin, and she realized that she had been swimming all by herself.  We called Jason and Jemma over so she could show them.  She swam to Jason.  She swam to me.  She swam four or five more times, each time becoming more jubilant and confident.  When she was finally tired, we did one more "for a finale" before bundling up into our towels and heading to the sauna.  She was practically skipping down the hallway to the locker room, so jubilant she was at the thought of her accomplishment (and, of course, her reward, which she had already specified had to be "the blue-green kind that doesn't lose its flavor, like the kind Grandma gave me in Florida, the long flat rectangle in a shiny silver wrapper").  I followed behind, so glad we had decided to break out of our house on a dreary Sunday afternoon, so proud of my brave girl in her striped swimming suit, so sure that these moments are exactly what make the hard work of parenting so worthwhile.

We went home and ate dinner, then curled up on the couch to watch Planet Earth while I painted toenails (red for Annie, purple for Jemma) and Annie chomped away on her much-loved, hard-earned gum.  Rainy day = not so bad, after all.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just Like That

 . . . Jemma gets her hair cut into a sweet little bob, and she looks like such a big girl as she rides Annie's old scooter down the sidewalk, kicking her right leg up for effect as she glides along.

 . . . the winter coats, boots, and snowpants are banished to the basement.

 . . . the neighbors gather to grill out, kill a case of Sierra Nevada, and let the kids tire each other out on a Friday night.

 . . . the girls' cheeks are a little pink after a day playing outside in tank tops and shorts.

 . . . we sit in our living room at 7:45 p.m. with the windows wide open, the sun streaming in, feeling tired-in-a-good-way after a full, happy day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

By Unanimous Agreement of My Bookclub:

It is far, far better to go around looking like a complete train wreck while secretly having the most important things in life going well than to be that perfectly-coiffed, always-together, seemingly-perfect mom whose life is actually falling apart from the inside out.

Phew.  I'll carry on showing up to preschool pickup looking like hell.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I was still feeling half-asleep yesterday morning when it was almost time to pick Annie up from school, so I decided that walking there - in the brisk cold - would be the perfect thing to wake me up.  I bundled Jemma up, grabbed her a snack, and put her in the jogging stroller.  It was sort of freezing, but the longer I walked, the more likely I thought it was that I'd have enough energy to get some work done during rest time instead of taking a nap myself.  

When we got to Annie's school and extricated her from her classroom (always a fun adventure), I put her next to Jemma in the stroller and gave her a snack, too.  She devoured the whole package of Annie's Bunnies in about two minutes, finishing (and immediately elbowing and fighting with Jemma) just as I turned off the busy road onto one with a sidewalk.

"Mom, I want to get out and run," she said.  Fine.  I was happy to let her out so the fighting could stop; I figured she'd run for a block or two, then get back in, too tired to fight with Jemma.  Instead, she ran the whole way home.   That's over a mile.  And when she trotted up the driveway, all she said was, "Whew!  That was a good workout!  Now I need some Gatorade."  I gave her some.  It was purple, her favorite and mine.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009

We had a fairly happy Easter, considering that we make much less fuss about this holiday than most others, kid-wise.  I guess it's just hard to convey that whole "Jesus who is also God died but then rose again a couple days later so you don't have to go to hell" concept to young children; instead of even involving them in the more-meaningful rites of Easter, we're still in that phase where we talk about it broadly and vaguely, then focus instead on the sugar-fueled, bunny-themed fun parts.  Last night, we had a great time setting out a carrot and lettuce for the bunny before the girls went to bed.  After they were tucked in, I made little bunny "tracks" through our living room while Jason stuffed plastic eggs with jelly beans and hid chocolate eggs all over the house.  

The first twenty minutes of this morning were hysterical; the girls could not believe their great good fortune.  They hardly knew where to turn first: baskets full of little toys and Peeps?  Bunny footprints?  Candy strewn around home?  Jemma kept cramming fistfuls of jelly beans into her mouth, looking sideways at us, disbelieving that we were OK with this as a pre-breakfast snack.  We got them all dressed up in their (matching) Easter dresses and spent the morning at my grandparents for brunch, where it was nice to see everyone with the exception of the small, yappy dog who virtually paralyzed Annie with fear.

This afternoon, after naps, we took advantage of the sunny spring day and headed to the park.  The Chandler family happily had the same idea, so all four girls ran and laughed together.  Last time we were at the park was the first time Jemma's been brave enough to beg for underdogs on the swing.  I praised her that time, saying, "You're so big!" and she disagreed, responding, "I Tiny!"  Today, however, Amelia kept bringing Jemma little gifts and referring to her as "the baby."  Jemma's response?  To look indignant, march away, and say, "I Not A Baby!"  Just now, in her crib, I hear her repeating, "I not a baby.  No.  I not a baby."  

And now, for an Easter treat of my own, I am going to finish a piece of chocolate silk pie that I bartered for some blueberry muffins, and then, let's be honest, probably sneak a chocolate egg or two from the girls' Easter baskets.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Every Saturday morning of late, when I've woken up and been faced with the prospect of a ridiculously long training run, my brain has been having the same thoughts:  I'm not doing this next year.  Is it EVER going to be above 30 degrees on a morning when I have to run more than ten miles outside?  Note to self, you are NOT doing this next year.

Then I fill my water belt with Gatorade, put on my ugly black ear wrap, lace up my Nikes, and kiss my family good-bye.  Sarah meets me outside.  We walk for a minute or two, I complain about being up and outside in the early-morning cold, and then we run.  And we talk.  And we run some more.  Sometimes a beautiful white cat comes out of the woods and follow us for a minute or two.  We stop to pet it, laugh at its run, remember all the cats we've ever had.  Sometimes we see a handmade sign, written on cardboard in black marker and tied to a streetpost with red yarn:  "1.  Get up off your ass.  2.  Find something you love and do it.  3.  Repeat step 2 indefinitely."  We cheat a little, stopping to walk the hills and have a drink, and before we know it, the sun has come out.  The daffodils and crocuses are blooming.  The people we meet move over for us, say "Good morning."

Coming back into the house, fourteen miles behind me, I have changed my tune.  I am glad to have started the day this way, glad my body still listens when I command one foot to fall in front of the other, glad to have a short break from serving breakfast to small people and negotiating what they will wear today, glad for the steaming cup of coffee Jason hands to me when I walk in the front door.  I don't know; maybe I'll do it again next year.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Things

1.  Watching Jemma hula-hoop from my vantage point on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon.
2.  Watching an entire episode of 'Oprah' on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon.
3.  Holding baby Charlie while he slept this morning.
4.  The Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA I am currently drinking.
5.  A new post up at Bodies in Motivation (click on "Bite-Sized" from the home page).
6.  Jemma's new favorite, wholly-made-up word, "Butty-yah!" which she yells merrily after seeing anyone's, well, butt, and which cracks us up every time even as we try not to encourage it.
7.  Reese's chocolate-peanut butter Easter eggs, which I've been sneaking all day long.
8.  Playing a new car game with Annie called "Which is More?" where I ask her which of two numbers (ranging from 0 to 100) is more and she always gets it right.
9.  Blowing bubbles with the girls outside after dinner.
10.  An interesting blog I've started following called The Happiness Project.  Check it out.


We spent an hour or so this morning visiting our next-door neighbor and her sweet new baby, Charlie.  Each of my girls got to take a turn holding him, and they were both breathtakingly still and gentle (and strangely proud) as they supported his tiny, wobbly body.  Charlie's big brother was romping all around, alternating between joyous rambunctiousness and wailing despair, much as Annie did when she was the newly-christened big sister; the house had been invaded by all those newborn-y things (teeny-tiny diapers, breastmilk storage bags, the bouncy seat); and my neighbor was, I suspect, both blissed out on newborn love and the most tired she's ever been.  

I was reminded of my own similar experience, now over two years ago, balancing the needs of a newborn with the demands of a toddler.  Back then, I was the household's attending surgeon:  my presence was required every single minute of every single day.  I was nursing exclusively; nobody could "fill in" for me and do the procedures I usually did.  There were no sick days, no vacation time.  No matter how tired that surgeon is, how weary of performing the same procedures over and over, she must show up every day and every night or those in her charge will not thrive.  

We're not in that phase, anymore.  Now, it's more like I'm the on-call ER physician.  She might get a day or two off, here and there, and there might be whole stretches of time during the shift when it's quiet and nobody needs her services.  But at any given moment, her pager will go off, and she must drop everything she's doing to attend to the emergency.  Other doctors can fill in for her, but her patients notice when she's gone, and they complain.  Sometimes lots of emergencies happen simultaneously and the ER physician has to perform triage, deciding which need gets first priority and which problems will be dealt with later.  

This phase is less physically exhausting (there's more sleep to go around, for sure) but more emotionally draining.  It's hard to start something (a piece of writing, a phone call, dinner) and give it my full attention, knowing that in all likelihood I'll be interrupted at least three times before I'm done.  It's less predictable, harder to quantify.  I recently finished the book The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer (and my book club will discuss it next week); here's a section I highlighted that I think describes this phase particularly well:

There was always so much to do:  There were lists and plans and schedules that were essential to a well-run household and that were still laughable, almost hysterically, tedious.  You, the brainy, restless female, were the one who had to keep your family life rolling forward like a tank.  You, of all people, were in charge of snacks.  Your hands tore apart the cellophane on six-packs of juice boxes, while your head cocked to hold a cordless phone into which you spoke the words "Maureen?  Hi, it's Mason Buckner's mom.  I'm calling to set up a playdate with Jared."  

You had to say "playdate" - that nonword that had been so easily welcomed into the lexicon - and you had to say it without irony.  Certainly, you could focus the thick, keen lens of your intellect on the greater world if you wanted . . . but you would have to do this on your own time, between plans.  You were the gatekeeper and nerve center and the pulsing, chugging heart of your family, the one whom everyone came to and needed things from.  You were the one who had to coax that unconscious child from his bed, day upon day.

After the girls held Charlie, I scooped him up and onto my left shoulder, paused to smell his small green pajama-clad wad of a body, thought about how, if Jemma had been a boy, we would have named him Charlie (after my dad).  And wondered (still, again) if this ER doc has it in her to go back to the surgery rotation one more time.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recipes for . . .

A Wonderful Day:

Start with one part energetic mom plus two parts cooperative children.  Cover all with better-than-expected weather.  Mix in new friends at the park, two successful bike-rides by Annie, new bravery on the swings by Jemma, one trip to the ice-cream store, and lots of giggling.  Finish with a warm bath, a long story, and the words, "You're the best mom in the whole world."

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 stick butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 1/2 c. chocolate chips

In large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment), cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and mix until batter is light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix.  Gently fold in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.  Don't over-mix.

Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes.

Drop 2 rounded tablespoons per cookie onto a cookie sheet, spaced 2 inches apart.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes.

My modifications:  I often skip the second chilling (after the cookies are on the sheet); I like them best when I use a combination of different chocolates, like 1 c. semi-sweet chips and the rest made up of chopped-up Ghiradelli milk chocolate and dark chocolate baking bars; I sometimes add dried cherries or white chocolate chips; I sometimes add about 1/4 t. cinnamon to the batter; I like them slightly under-baked, so I sometimes take them out after 13-14 minutes if they look done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Apparently, in spite of all my intentions to raise strong, interesting, confident daughters, I am raising two total wussies.  Below, an ever-growing, probably incomplete list of the things they currently fear:

  • The noise the toaster makes when it pops up a bagel or toast.  They cover their ears while waiting for something to pop up because, you know, it's SO LOUD.
  • The vacuum (also too noisy).
  • Tornadoes, as of today, thanks to Annie's preschool for having them do a drill.
  • The possibility that flipping a light switch on and off very quickly over and over might start a fire; that a broken electrical cord might start a fire; that a candle will start a fire; in short, of fire.

  • Of all the neighborhood dogs, most especially the sweet, good-natured golden retriever Zoe who will let children climb her and ride her.  When we see her, Jemma won't get out of her stroller and does a lot of asking me if Zoe will "get her" or "eat her face."
  • Of a bike.  Annie had outgrown her old bikes and tricycle, so we went to get her a new one.  While she was trying it out in the parking lot of the bike store, a big gust of wind pushed her toward a cement barrier and she forgot how to use the brakes.  Even though Jason stopped her just in time before crashing or falling, we now have a cute Trek bike sitting in our garage, ridden exactly one time since we bought it.

  • The act of flushing the toilet, not only in public bathrooms (which might flush by themselves like at the ballet on Sunday!) but also in our own house, because it might overflow, even if it is just pee and one miniscule square of toilet paper.
  • Bugs, even ones that are clearly DEAD and just smashed on the pavement.
  • Butterflies.