The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Friday, September 30, 2005

Choked up

Almost every mother of a child old enough to eat solid foods has had a moment like I had this morning or lives in fear that she will one day have one. Evan took a bite of toast. He chewed it a bit and swallowed. And the toast went down just far enough to get lodged in his throat. First he tried to cough. I sat and watched, knowing that he always manages to get wayward bites like this out on his own. But that didn't happen this time. His eyes got wide. He started to gesture wildly. And I suddenly realized that my child really and truly couldn't breathe.

I know intellectually that a finger sweep is a mistake in these cases, that I could have lodged the toast further into his throat by doing it and that I should have tried a Heimlich or something first. But I'm a tad unclear on the Heimlich. Evan was strapped into a booster seat with a tricky-to-remove tray attached. And the kid wasn't breathing. All I could think of was getting that toast out so he could get air in his lungs again. Fast. So the finger sweep it was. The piece was jammed so far down, I could barely reach it. Thankfully, it was also soft enough that I was able to scoop it out.

I sat for a long time afterwards, holding Evan and trying to compose myself. He was breathing normally again, but I wasn't, not by a long shot. As he squirmed out of my arms, I couldn't help think how tenuous my grasp on him really is, how easily he could just get away from me -- permanently. If I could have, I'd have held him there safe in my arms forever, not even caring what a cliche that was. Instead we returned to the kitchen table, where I fed him teeny tiny bites of toast as if he were a baby again and watched him like a hawk. Our morning progressed as if it had never been interrupted. Evan babbled happily about Cookie Monster and Julia sang a little song she'd learned in preschool. And I just sat there, trying to breathe around a lump in my throat much larger than any piece of toast -- and much harder to remove.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

If I were the typecasting type (who, me?), I'd put myself in the "slow to learn" category

Today's ministone is brought to you courtesy of Evan, who happily spent 2 hours in babysitting at the temple today while I attended a school committee meeting. I was hopefully optimistic that he'd enjoy this activity, particularly since a couple of his buddies from this summer's Mommy and Me class were going to be there as well, but I've really only left him with a select few people before, and never out of my home or with other children, so group babysitting with unknown adults had the potential to be a complete disaster. It wasn't though, and the opportunity to sit in a meeting with other grownups and sip coffee while both of my children were playing cheerfully was pretty darn nice. (Yes, I ended up volunteering for more committees than I'm already committed to. But I also may have picked up a little bit of freelance copywriting work in the process, so it's all a good tradeoff in my book.)

When I came back to pick Evan up at the end, he was happily playing ball with one of the volunteer sitters. "How old IS he," she asked me, and when I responded that he's 19 months, she commented on his great fine motor skills. "He spent a long time with those puzzles and he did a great job with them," she told me. I wasn't at all surprised, since Evan's been obsessed with puzzles at home lately and seems to spend hours on end fitting wooden pieces into oddly shaped slots. But I was surprised at the warm fuzzy I got when I heard him complimented in that way. Evan's my charmer and people are always telling me how sweet he is. But the "bright" compliments are always reserved for Julia. Even I'm often guilty, I'm afraid, of pigeon holing my kids into far too narrowly defined categories. Julia's smart. Evan's gregarious. It's sometimes as if even I forget that one trait doesn't necessarily negate the other.

Today's unexpected Evan compliment came on the heels of unexpected Julia praise. Just a few days ago, Julia's teacher stopped me to mention how incredibly well Julia's doing socially this year. She's got a whole posse of little girlfriends, her teacher reported, and particularly when they get out there on the playground together, Julia's 100% in the mix; animated and loud and full of boundless enthusiasm for the games they play together. It was nice to hear her teacher confirm what I've seen for myself when I arrive a little early to pick her up and get a moment to spy on her on the playground. My shy, reserved child is finally coming out of her shell and blossoming socially, and the Julia her classmates see at school is starting to look more and more like the happy, talkative child I'm used to seeing at home. She's never going to be outgoing, but she's getting out there, and I couldn't be prouder of her.

I guess if Julia's going to be social and Evan's proving himself to have a decent head on his shoulders, I'm going to have to resist the urge to typecast my kids quite so much going forward, and thank God for that. I've always hated the way some parents limit their children by too narrowly stereotyping them, yet I've turned out to be guilty of that very habit on more occasions than I'd like to admit. Old habits die hard. It's easy for Evan to be cute and it's easy for Julia to be bright and it's far too easy for me to just think of them that way. But my kids have proven this week that they can rise above those silly titles I've saddled them with. The least I can do is try to do the same. Lesson learned and duly noted.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

File this one under "things I never thought I'd do" and cross-reference "crazy"

I've done many things in preparation for our trip to Arizona to visit Paul's mother, sister, brother in law and 4 nieces next week. I've booked our flights, reserved a minivan with carseats, found a place that rents cribs and booster seats, identified fun kid activities in the surrounding areas, purchased plane diversions for the kids and fervently prayed that weather or child illness or some other act of God will save me from taking this trip. (So far, everything's come together nicely except the last item on my list, but we're not leaving until next Thursday, so there's still time for some unexpected disaster to save me from flying cross country with a very vocal toddler who refuses to remain in one place for longer than 28 seconds.)

Never let it be said I'm not one to plan ahead, and so today, my friend Froogle and I found the final item I needed to order before our trip. And as I pushed the button to confirm my willingness to pay $7.15 in shipping costs alone to ship the only brand of soy milk my children will deign to drink, I knew I'd gone over the deep end from prepared person to crazy mom. I'm quite certain my inlaws will think me certifiable when this package arrives before us (please, dear God, let this package arrive before us as scheduled). But without soy milk -- and not just any soy milk, but the kind that comes in the red box, thank you very much -- my children will throw tantrums the likes of which their extended family has never seen. I've spent $1,307.66 on airfare, $363.14 on the minivan, $66 on rentals and another $100 or so on VideoNow Jr. players and disks, all for a long weekend at my sister in law's house. What's $21.73 for 3 boxes of Westsoy Plus Plain soy milk? Just the cost of my sanity, that's all.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Baby, you and me got a geeky kind of love

This weekend, Paul surprised me with a little program that he'd written. His nifty new tool extracts all of my blog entries (even the comments!) and stores them offline for safekeeping. "It just occurred to me that you've got so much here now, and it would be terrible if it ever got lost," he told me. And in less than a minute, his program did what I've been meaning to get around to for months now, in a far more organized way than I ever would have done it.

Flowers and wining and dining and romantic moments that involve gazing into each other's eyes? All lovely ideas. But the reality of a man who understands what matters to me and uses his talents to safeguard it? That's a man I'll love forever. Thanks, hon. The program's nifty. But the fact that you saw the need for it without my ever saying a word? That's the best part of all.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Maybe my 8th grade math teacher was right, and math IS life after all

One of the few things that Paul actually remembers from his childhood is the nightly math problems his father used to toss out at the dinner table. It's one of those traditions I think he'd probably like to share with our kids (a far healthier one than the restricted TV tradition I've saddled them with, no doubt), but we so rarely eat as a family that it's never really happened. Julia has a real affinity for math, though, and considers addition and subtraction grand entertainment (clearly, our genetic connection stopped at the physical resemblance). So Paul tries to squeeze in a facsimile of his father's old game whenever he can -- in the car, during mundane activities, etc. And in the process, we've learn some fascinating things about the way our daughter's mind works.

"Julia," he said the other day as she was watching him get ready for work, "if I had 1 and I took away 3, how many would I have?" It was a trick question for a kid far too young to grasp the concept of negative numbers, but Julia didn't miss a beat. "I'd need 2 more to answer that," she promptly replied.

Turning the negative into a positive. What a nice idea. Now if only she could learn to apply the same concept to bedtime and sharing with her younger brother...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I was ahead of the times with my behind-the-times way... just ask the Times

How come no one was writing front page New York Times articles about me when I said the exact same things 15 years ago?

It seems like half the parenting world is up in arms about this article; working moms are horrified by the trend away from women in the workforce and stay-at-home moms are offended by the implication that their work doesn't matter. Same old shit, different day. I refuse to get caught up in the fray. Sure, the Times wrote a deliberately controversial piece. What else is new? Me, I'm just delighted to discover that I'm still a trendsetter. Your life plan worked for me, ladies. Just think twice before you name your kids Julia and Evan, OK?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Did you hear the one about the stay at home mom and the lightbulb?

A lightbulb burned out in my kitchen today. It will be the 5th lightbulb I have replaced in my kitchen or family room in the past month alone. There are 10 high hats in these two rooms, and I buy approximately 70 lightbulbs a year to keep them all burning bright. 70 lightbulbs a year. And each one comes in a package promising me 20 months of light. I was no math major, but if I'm going through 7 bulbs a year in each socket, I'm not getting any 20 months of illumination.

I finally read the fine print on that 20 month promise today, thinking the lightbulb industry owes me a boatload of restitution here, and I found the problem. That guarantee is based, they say, on an average 4 hours a day of usage. 4 hours a day. I think I probably use mine about 15 hours a day. Who the hell only needs to see things 4 hours a day?

The answer is obvious, of course. People who have jobs and lives require only 4 hours of light in their homes a day because they are out doing interesting and important things the rest of the time. They do not require floodlights for three year old dance recitals that look suspiciously like rodeos featuring small horses in tutus. They have no need of illumination to show their 20 month olds for the gazillionth time how to fit the triangular block in the triangular hole. There are no art projects being created at their kitchen tables that will necessitate bright lights to ensure all of the glitter glue has been scrubbed off their surfaces and children after certain chaos has ensued. They simply leave the house in the morning and go do what they've gotta do. And when they come home, maybe they flick on the lights for about 4 hours, but really, I don't see why they need to because hell, it's not like they're likely to trip over Legos or Little People if the room's a little dark.

My brother wondered aloud yesterday why I haven't shared this blog with him before, and I pondered the same question myself after reading his comments. I'd have felt a little awkward saying "hey, come read my narcissistic ramblings," and that's part of the answer, certainly. But the larger answer is that I simply find it hard to see how this, the minutiae of my life with small children, could possibly be all that interesting to anyone not currently going through the same crap I am. I remember how boring it was, pre-kids, to listen to parents prattle on ad nauseum about the cute things little Suzie and Joey were up to. I remember how self-absorbed they seemed and I recognize in myself now many of the same qualities I always abhorred in those people. And I hate the fact that I often simply don't have that much to say about that many things other than parenting these days. So sometimes it's easier to say nothing. I know that my brother is interested in his niece and nephew in the abstract, and I imagine he'd like to know my kids better than our 3,000 mile distance allows for at this point in our lives. But he's still using his lightbulbs the way the manufacturers intended. And until you're burning bulbs 'round the clock, you just don't think too much about lightbulbs. (Have I killed this metaphor yet?)

Dan, thank you for saying you came to know us all a little bit better through this blog. It made me feel good about what I've written here, like the hours I've spent recording this snapshot of our lives was worth it. I hope that some day, reading this blog will give my kids insight into their childhood and will give me a nostalgic walk down memory lane. It's hard to feel significant sometimes, when your days are spent screwing in lightbulbs. When I take a step back and write things down, sometimes I can find the hidden value in what I'm doing here. And on the days I still can't see it, when someone comes along and leaves me a comment like you did yesterday, well, at least I know I'm not sitting alone here in the dark.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

He aint heavy, he's my brother

So, uh, hi there. Welcome to my blog. I don't know if I'm supposed to be acknowledging you or waiting for you to mention this to me, but I see you there on my stat counter, and there just aint that many eBay employees who would Google Sunapee Arts Camp, land here and spend the next 2 hours and 47 minutes surfing my archives.

I guess I figured someone would find me sooner or later. The Internet, it just aint as big a place as everyone thinks it is, and I haven't exactly made much effort to hide who I am. I've never set out to conceal the fact that I've been blogging per se, it's just not the kind of thing that often comes up in casual conversation.

Keep reading, come back whenever, it's all good. But, uh, don't tell Nana I've been making fun of her housecoats on the Internet, OK?

The Grammar Bitch strikes again

As part of my ongoing quest for activities and interests that have nothing to do with small children, I'm participating in a film symposium with a group of friends this fall. Sixteen of us are splitting four passes, enabling us each to attend four screenings over the next three months. It's a nice opportunity to get out of the house, share some interesting discussions, and see first run films -- often indies or art house flicks -- that we might never have otherwise seen. The schedule isn't printed in advance, and you never know what you're going to get or which guests might show up to discuss the film until you arrive, which adds to the appeal as far as I'm concerned.

Last night was my first night to attend, and both the film and the discussion with the director that followed were well worth my while. I would never in a million years have sought out a documentary about American soldiers in Iraq, but I found myself riveted. The film felt important and I was glad to have the opportunity to experience it. But one split second on the screen nearly ruined the entire thing for me. In the final third of the movie, a title screen detailed what was happening with the "platton." No, not the platoon, though I assume that's what they meant. The screen said "platton." And right there, all of the credibility of the movie, the idea of the documentary as important journalism, went out the window for me. Because truthfully, if you want to say something really important in your film, how do you go and release said film without, you know, PROOFREADING it?

I'm still glad that I saw Occupation: Dreamland and I would encourage others to see it if given the chance. It puts a real face on both the soldiers and the Iraquis and brings home a conflict which often simply feels far away. But when I think of the film, the first image that will always come to mind for me now is that single title screen with its glaring error. I'm fairly confident that's not the image the director meant to leave his audience with. And now instead of wondering about whether our troops are doing the right thing in Iraq and how this conflict can ever reach a conclusion, I'm left with a different set of questions. Does a chyron machine not come with SpellCheck? Am I really the only person who has screened the film to notice the error? What does that say about the value of proper language usage in today's society? In the end, Occupation: Dreamland left me wondering what the world is coming to. But not, I suspect, in the way it was meant to.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A little apology (or two)

To the dozens of visitors who come to this page each week after Googling things like "Mirena cramping" and "Mirena strings missing" and "Mirena surgical removal," I do apologize for scaring you half to death. Statistically, my experience was quite rare and likely will not happen to you.

I must say, however, that there sure do seem to be a lot of you searching for information on Mirenas gone bad. More of you, even, than there are perverts looking to get off on the details of my daughter's elimination training. It kind of makes me wonder about the accuracy of those side effect statistics a little bit. I think I'm glad to have bid my Mirena adieu, icky side effects and surgical drama nonwithstanding.

(And to those of you "regulars" around here who are now squirming awkwardly in your chairs, I'm sorry to have shared this with you. Don't worry... I'm sure all of your Mirenas are just fine.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

From zero to 60 (600? 6,000???) in one week

I know, I know. I dreamed of this week. Waited somewhat (OK, incredibly) impatiently for it. Begged time to move faster so it would get here already. Came damn near close to going completely off my rocker in my quest for the beginning of the school year and its' accompanying organized activities, truth be told. And I am happy that the time has finally come and delighted to have some semblance of a schedule again.

So I am really not complaining. But I must... observe that this has been one hell of a week. School drop offs and pick ups, dance class, swimming, Evan's music class, all of the errands I have been delaying until I would have only one child in tow... I'm pretty sure I've slid behind the wheel of my car no less than 29 times since Monday. I have no sense of continuity or schedule yet, just a constant pit in my stomach and a feeling like I've taken way too many amphetamines. I'm continually rushing, rushing, rushing because oh my God, it's time for (fill in the blank here). And I'm slowly recognizing that while I will eventually learn the schedule and the knot in my belly will presumably lessen, the rushing will not. Nor will the chauffeuring. Not until next August. And possibly not even then. Possibly not until Julia gets her drivers' license in 2019.

Julia seems to be taking the new school year in stride. Every day at school this week has been "great," ditto dance and swimming. Evan's a little more confused by it all and spends the majority of every morning asking "A Doodah?" over and over again. When we finally pick her up each day, he tackles her with hugs and kisses, jabbering "I Doodah" over and over again was he pats her happily. But today, when he finally for the first time in his life got my undivided attention in music class, I thought he was just going to explode with joy. So he, too, is going to be fine.

Me? I'm definitely having bigger transition issues than my kids. Like a preschooler who dreamed of big kid school only to find herself completely overwhelmed when her desires became reality, I've been tempted quite a few times this week to sit myself down and have a good cry. I haven't, though. Because then I'd be late for pick up. Or drop off. Or something else I've completely forgotten about until we're embarrassingly late. No time for tears. September is finally here, and like all things I foolishly put too much stake in waiting for, it has arrived with a vengeance.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


When I said in passing yesterday to a friend that I was going to have to totally clean out my freezer to make room for all of the tasty meals I'm about to be storing there, I didn't actually mean that my freezer should break that very day, costing me hundreds of dollars in repair bills and spoiled food, plus countless amounts of aggravation.

Obviously, I should have been more specific. I'll choose my words more carefully next time, rest assured.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I'm just saying...

It is a sad, sad state of affairs when it costs me $57.50 to fill my gas tank and I actually find myself saying to the attendant "Really? That's so much better than I expected!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Here's what I don't understand about my daughter. Today, when she walked into her classroom for the second day of school, she went right over to her cubby to hang up her backpack. "Wow, you already know which one is yours," her teacher chirped. "Do you see your name?" And Julia, who can read her name, spell her name, write her name, you name it, pointed to her friend Jake's name. "You recognized a J. That's great," her teacher praised her. "This one actually says Jake. But here's your name. Look. Julia is spelled J-U-L-I-A." Julia solemnly nodded as if she'd just been taught something very new and hung up her backpack on the correct hook.

The same child who labels every picture she draws at home ("How do you spell 'rainbow flowers', Mom?") rarely even drew a recognizable shape in school last year. The same kid who can tell you without a pause that if 2 of the 15 kids in her class are absent, there must be 13 yellow birds today will never volunteer to count the class at lineup. The same girl who was assembling 24-piece jigsaw puzzles in under 10 minutes at home when school began *last* year is still pausing over 4 piece wooden puzzles in the classroom today.

I'm not saying I want Julia to be ostentatious or show off her knowledge extensively. And I certainly don't need her to perform party tricks. If she wants her teachers to know that she knows how to spell her name (and Jake's, as she ironically demonstrated for his mom in a diner just a few weeks ago), I presume she'll share that information. But I wonder at the vast discrepancy. Is she trying to blend in with the other kids, most of whom she sees scribbling and puzzling over 4 piece puzzles? Seeking her teacher's attention by appearing to need instruction? Simply so shy that questions or attention fluster her into forgetting what she knows? I would never ask her, for fear of making her even more uncomfortable. But it is this piece of my daughter's personality that puzzles me the most. And unlike Julia, there is no teacher hovering at my elbow to help me figure out how the pieces fit together. I can simply watch and wait and see.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A ministone reached far too early for my liking

Today, I made Julia a very happy little girl. We went on a back-to-school shoe shopping spree and she came home with the shoes of her dreams.

Notice I said the shoes of HER dreams. These are not the shoes of my dreams. Far from it. I keep saying things like "well, at least she can put them on herself" and "at least Merrell's a well-made brand." In truth, I wish they were not so well-made, though. I wish they would self destruct by Tuesday so that I would not ever have to see them again. The shoes themselves are fine, trendy even. But the color Julia just had to have... oh, God, the color is heinous. There should be no such shade of pink in this world. Period.

I used to love shoe shopping for Julia. Little girl shoes are so cute and we both love them so much. We've always agreed instantly on the perfect Julia shoes. Until today. Today, my daughter's fashion sense veered off course of mine, beginning a trajectory which I suspect will now not correct itself for a couple dozen years, if ever. And with visions dancing in my head of my own battles with my own mother over my own burgeoning sense of style, I let her make her own choice. The shoes she selected fit her well, will provide proper support for playing and were not outrageously expensive. And so I bought them for her, shielding my eyes from their blinding pink color.

They will clash terribly with 3/4 of her outfits and I know I'm going to cringe every single time I see her hot pink sueded feet running toward me. But my daughter, did I mention how happy she is? The beauty of her smile almost makes up for the ugliness of her shoes. Almost. But truth be told, not quite.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A tale of two Lillys

Julia's Sweet Streets Schoolhouse, a birthday gift this past year, came with 6 little dolls. Their names, as decreed by Julia a week or two after she got the set, are Miss Cindy (the teacher), Jonathan, Jon, Carrina, Lilly and Lilly. Yes, two Lillys. And both a Jonathan and a Jon. Multiple kids with the same name, you see, are a fact of Julia's life.

I knew years before Julia was even conceived that if I ever had a girl, I wanted to name her after my grandparents, Julius and Fay. "Julia Fay," the nurse smiled at me the day after she was born. "What a beautiful name. I'm surprised that we don't hear it more often." I laughed. "I hope you don't start hearing it too often," I replied. I'd hate for her to have to be Julia T."

Fat chance.

Apparently, that nurse was either new on the job or she sent out some sort of immediate naming memo, because there are no shortage of Julias in this area. In fact, everywhere we go now, there are boatloads of Julias. Julias at the playground. Julias at the pool. Julias on the Internet, even. So far, we've escaped any Julias in her class (there are 3 Abbys, 2 Rachels and 2 Madelines in Julia's small preschool age group, but all of the Julias in the school are a year older or younger), but it's only a matter of time. "We already know of 3 other 3 year old Julias in our elementary school district," another Julia mom told me at the pool last week. It's not our district, thank goodness. But there are God knows how many more around here, and they'll all meet up by middle school. At the rate we're going, Julia's going to get off lucky if she's the only Julia T.

When Evan was born, we thought we'd be smarter about this naming thing. We still loved Ethan, the boy name we'd selected for Julia, but it had shot up in the rankings in the past several years and seemed too trendy now, so we settled on Evan, which had the same sound and cadence and flow with our last name, but none of the popularity of our first pick. Or so we thought. "Evan Benjamin," friends said when we introduced them to our new son. "What a great name. I just met another Evan recently..." And so it began again. Evans at the playground, Evans on the Internet, and this time, Evans at school. Unlike Julia, Evan is already Evan T in his Mommy and Me classes, and his friend Evan H will be in the same schools as our Evan straight through high school. And wouldn't you know it? Not a 1 1/2 year old Ethan to be found.

Being one of several kids with the same name isn't all bad. Abby J's mom tells me that the highlight of Abby's last school year was being "one of the Abbys" (go figure). And Julia certainly doesn't seem to mind -- perhaps even welcomes the idea -- of sharing her name. Even though I giggle every time I hear her playing with Lilly and Lilly, she seems completely oblivious to the fact that there's anything unusual about her naming choices. "Do you think our Julias are this generation's Jennifers?" I asked the other Julia mom at the pool last week. "Oh, God, I hope not, but I guess they may well be," she replied. We both looked sadly at our daughters for a moment, mourning the small amount of individuality they'll miss out on as a result of having such a common name. "I still love the name, though," I said. "And I can't imagine her as anything else." She promptly agreed.

Julia T. and Evan T... they both have a nice ring to them. Not quite the ring I had in mind, but I'll adapt. And if Julia gets annoyed at me some day for giving her such a common name, I'm going to remind her of the two Lillys. Those poor girls don't even have a last name to help people differentiate between them, and yet they seem to be doing just fine, thank you very much.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday is the new Monday

I wasted all my energy on a zippy title for this blog entry and have none left for the entry itself.

Three day weekends aint what they used to be...

Friday, September 02, 2005

One generation's legacy is more than enough

This morning, I threw on my swim coverup over my underwear after I got out of the shower. I knew I looked a little silly, but I had my reasons. We weren't leaving for the pool for a few hours, so it was silly to put on a swimsuit, yet it seemed equally foolish to put on an outfit I was only going to wear for a short period of time. So the coverup it was.

I breezed through my morning; feeding the kids and myself, checking my email as I sipped my coffee, redirecting my kids the couple of times their games went astray. I was in a pretty good mood, and eventually I realized that my high spirits might just have something to do with how comfortable I was. I should wear my swim coverup around the house in the mornings more often, I thought to myself. Hell, I should really even buy a few more. And then suddenly I froze as I recognized the truth.

I was, for all intents and purposes, wearing a housecoat.

Accepting my mother's legacy? That I can handle. But when I start to channel my grandmother, the queen of the housecoat? So. Very. Much. Not. OK.

I suppose technically, my shorts and t-shirt are slightly more constrictive than the swim coverup was. And yet, I feel so much more comfortable now. Let Nana find her comfort her way. I'll stick with mine, thank you very much.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

There but for the grace of something I'm not even sure I believe in go I

I don't think I really got it until I saw the 48 Hours special last night. I had heard the news of course. But hearing it and seeing it... so very different.

As always these days, I can't help but look at the news with the filter of a parent's perspective. What must it be like to control young children in the midst of all that chaos? What do you do when you run out of diapers? When the 3 foods your children deign to eat aren't available and you have to try to convince overtired, frigthened children to eat what little you can find to offer at all? How do you explain what's happened to an oversensitive 3 year old who's wise beyond her years? How do you keep your family together? How do you keep them safe? It's hard to envision what the devastation would be like for my little family. I certainly can't wrap my mind around the massive number of families facing that kind of devastation right now.

New Orleans has always been on my must-see list, but I haven't managed to get there yet. I suspect it will be a good long time before I have the chance. I've sent my money in my stead, though. And as I continue with my cushy life, I hope that the people who call that part of the country home can get back to theirs some day soon.

If I'd a-known you were coming, I'd-a baked a cake

Every so often, my husband reads my blog. (Hi, honey! Yes, I see your visits on my stat counter. Slow day at work today, eh?)

The fact that I maintain this blog is no secret between us, nor is any of the stuff I write about. He's usually witnessed or heard all of the stories before he reads them here anyway, although not with whatever spin I might put on an anecdote when I write it down. Nonetheless, I always feel a little funny when I see that he's dropped by here, as if he's temporarily gotten a peek directly into my mind. I have to confess, the idea makes me a tad squirmy. I'm pleased to see that he's interested in my writing and my thoughts, but somehow I feel more accountable for what I say when I know I'm saying it to someone who knows and loves the people and situations that I write about as much as I do. (No, don't stop visiting. I'm just saying it's a little weird to just "see" you there. It has to feel the same way to you reading this, no?)

Only one other "real life" friend reads this blog. Caroline's my closest friend and in many ways more of a confidante than Paul, so for whatever reason, her daily visits don't faze me as much. She kept her own blog for a brief time before her children decided napping was a fool's pastime and I enjoyed checking in on her as regularly as she now checks in on me. (It's never too late to start writing again, Caroline!) Occasionally, she'll reference something she reads here ("I had to find out about a lump in your mom's breast on your BLOG?"), but for the most part, her reading what I write here just seems to be an extension of our 27 daily conversations, most of which consist of stream-of-conscious babbling by one of us anyway. Despite my comfort level with sharing this with her, I'm never even tempted to tell anyone else I know that I blog. I can see how my writing would change if people I interact with regularly were to read it, and I'm not interested in that kind of self-editing.

Strangers on the Internet? Come one, come all, and read my rambling. People I know? Far less sure how I feel about that. Not quite sure what that says about me, but I suspect I'm far from the only blogger to feel that way.