Thursday, April 27, 2006

Not Just for Salads Anymore

Every packaged food you can buy comes with a warning if it includes, or has come in contact with, peanuts, other nuts, wheat, dairy or soy. Not one package includes a warning about avoiding contact between the contents of said package and a halogen light. You could go for hours trying to figure out what that smell was before wondering aloud, only to be told that "It's probably ranch dressing."

I must say, I was a little alarmed to find that something in ranch dressing, when heated, is capable of melting the frosting off of a frosted light bulb.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hidden Dangers of the California Sunshine

I think that I've mentioned before--one, two, thirty whiney times--that it's been rainy and cold here for the past half-of-forever. Anyway. Today was, in a word, glorious. One of those days that reminded me why I love, love living in the Bay Area.

So this afternoon, I took the girls to Peet's (we're not allowed in the within-walking-distance Starbuck's anymore since Hannah told the barista that Mommy didn't like Starbuck's coffee, that we were only there so she could have a snack). It was sunny, 74 degrees, huge cloudless skies. Everyone in town seemed to be there, all overjoyed to finally shed the long pants (for shorts, for shorts!), jackets and socks.

Before the door had closed behind us, Hannah saw the two tank-top wearing biker babes in line and immediately asked (I'd like to be able to say sotto voce, but it was not to be) "Why does she have all those tattoos all over her arms and neck, Mommy? Mom? Mom--look!" We've had this conversation before, about how we don't talk about how other people look in front of those people. If she has questions, I'm more than happy to answer, but it's so much easier to do if I'm not choking on coffee or nervous laughter. So far, we've had "look at that fat lady" and "where is that man's hair? he has no hair!" and "why does she have earrings in her face?" But her fascination seems to be with tattoos. So lots of "why does s/he have a tattoo on his/her ______." And today was the official kickoff of tattoo-baring season. Thank god she doesn't have a thing for breasts--just blondes.

Snow Job

Well, I guess Rupert Murdoch's wettest dream has finally come true. One of his star news personalities is now Bush's Press Secretary. So it wasn't enough to use Fox News as a virtual mouthpiece, now it's literal. And Snow allegedly only took the job after being assured an active policy roll. Yay. Good for us. Anyone taking bets on how long Helen Thomas will get to keep her front row seat? Will the NY Times even bother sending anyone to the daily briefings anymore?

I know this sounds cynical, but this seems like a Karl Rove move--get someone who is a staunch, even outspoken Conservative and supporter of the administration. Bonus points if he has recently criticized said administration. After all, this is supposed to look like a shake up, right? It's not like I expected them to appoint Al Franken, but to choose someone who is so virulently anti-Democrat is just further evidence that Bush doesn't give a rat's ass what We the (Rest of the) People think of him.

I think this is what you call putting lipstick on the pig.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Something Not to Like

I've said before that I like John McCain. The way he talks to you rather than down to you. That he seemed to always speak his mind. The self-deprecating humor. The sense that he was always giving it to you straight. I was appalled at the speculation that he might join Bush on the ticket in 2004 and then briefly intrigued at the thought of the cross-party ticket of Kerry and McCain. (Of course, I think that we ought to vote for the President and Vice President separately anyway--add another layer to that quaint notion of checks and balances. But that's another post.)

I was willing to overlook his pro-life stance because, as important as it is, there are a lot of other issues to which attention must also be paid. And McCain had stated previously that, while he was pro-life, he believed that the decision had to be made by the woman. But now as he looks to the White House again, he is learning from "mistakes" made in 2000. He has to get the right wing of the Republican party to trust that he is no maverick, and no friend of the Democratic party, either. Translated into action, this means sucking up to Jerry Falwell, that self-appointed arbiter of morality and Christian decency.

To further burnish his credentials, McCain recently stated that he would have signed the South Dakota abortion ban--the toughest in the nation--as long as exceptions were made in the case of rape, incest or to protect the life of the woman. Is he trying to have it both ways here? If these provisions had been included, the South Dakota ban would not have gained the national attention that it has. It would not have become such a hot issue and his opinion would (probably) not have been sought. So: Evangelicals could be swayed by the fact that he didn't condemn the ban outright and would have signed it with a few tweaks. Moderates could find comfort in the knowledge that he would have required the provisions, and then maybe they would overlook the fact that the law wasn't roundly condemned in it's existing form.

I know I'm not alone in my disillusionment, nor in my embarrassment at being so thoroughly taken in. Perhaps, as Andrew Ferguson writes in Bloomberg, we wanted to be taken in. We wanted to believe that John McCain, Republican war hero, was actually a closet progressive. But throughout his 25 years in the Senate, McCain has voted with the most conservative members of the Republican party often enough to earn high marks from the National Right to Life Committee (82 in 2003/04), the American Conservative Union (80 in 2005) and the Christian Coalition (83 in 2003). On environmental issues, he scored a 50 from the American Wilderness Coalition (granted, this is much higher than other Republicans scored: Ted Stevens, anyone? Anyone?) and the ACLU rated him a meagre 22 (2003/04) on civil rights.

Why were we so desperate to find a champion that we would willfully ignore the record? It was all there in black and white. I just have to hope that it wasn't based on personality--that worked out really well the last time, right? How many millions of Americans have decided that, on second thought, they'd really rather not have that beer with W after all?

Since it seems to be in the average politician's nature to mislead, misinform and, in some cases outright lie, we have to better educate ourselves and anyone else we can get to listen. I like to think that I'm fairly well-informed on the issues and the players, but I still get the warm fuzzies when John McCain shows up on The Daily Show. Up until about a month ago, that is. So, a couple of resources to get started with:

Project Vote Smart is "a national library of factual information, [that] covers your candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings" (the numbers I cited above came from here), as well as plenty of political resources.

Polling Report is "an independent, nonpartisan resource on trends in American public opinion." NOTE: A subscription is required to access some content.

More to come in another post.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Challenge

Before we moved to California, Thomas and I had a fairly nice wine cellar of just about 100 bottles ranging from nice drinkables for the random Tuesday night to the holy-crap-I-was-just-nominated-for-a-Pulitzer bottle. (Needless to say, that bottle is still waiting to be opened.) So moving the entire collection with us seemed a no-brainer until we got the shipping estimate. Then it seemed a better idea to make every one of our last days in Virginia an occassion worthy of the wine. With friends, we went through a respectible amount of it and then gave a few bottles away to friends and family. There were a couple of cases that we wanted to bring west, though, so they went in the car with Thomas and Argus. When each day's driving was done, Thomas would lug the cases and Argus up to the hotel room for the night.

In Virginia, we had a full-sized basement that was always the perfect temperature, so the space under the stairs became the wine cellar. But in California, basements are not as easy to come by, so we converted a coat closet into our new wine "cellar" and quickly filled it with wines from the nearby Santa Cruz mountains.

Over the years, we've tried many of the more expensive labels--a few are still in our closet--but Thomas and I recently decided to start looking for great wines under $15. It's become The Challenge, a challenge that Thomas is winning (I think he has an advantage in that he plays sommelier for the monthly wine tastings at his office). My choices have not turned out so well. Two nights ago, I opened a California Pinot Noir that I had selected and ended up spitting it down the drain. And as anyone who knows me can attest, that can only mean that this was a truely bad wine. The only way I could describe the taste to Thomas was: "Think of a local wine festival. You've been there all day. It's hot. People are getting a bit . . . tipsy. They're hot--and not in a sexy way. The booths with fried foods and fajitas and chocolate dipped ice cream are almost out of food. Now take all of those smells and swirl them together in a glass with a bit of fresh grape juice. Inhale. Sip. Spit. Do NOT roll it around in your mouth and do NOT repeat." I can't imagine why, but Thomas refused to try the wine!

But back to The Challenge: For flavor, complexity and, yes, price, we've been happiest with wines from Chile. Our introduction to Chilean wines was on a trip to Café Atlantico in DC. Amazing dinner plus guacamole made table-side and great mojitos. The wine was a 1998 Veramonte Primus, a lovely carmenére cabernet sauvignon from Chile's Casablanca Valley. We liked it so much that the next day we started buying up every bottle we could find on the east coast. Then we tried the '99. Very good, but not the same. There is still one bottle of the '98 Primus in the wine closet. I can close my eyes and still smell it--the aroma is so earthy and smokey and peppery that burying your nose in the glass is almost as satisfying as tasting the wine itself.

I think I'm going to have to open a wine import business just to be able to write off the tasting trips to Chile. But do you actually have to sell any of it? I might need a bigger closet.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Village Idiots

Some people seem to think that they have the right and/or duty to send out into the world, unfiltered, everything that pops into their head, whether through the usual channel (aka: fat mouth) or the new favorite: comments posted anonomously to a blog. Because these people seem to go trolling the Internet for something to be offended by or outraged at, they are commonly and appropriately referred to as "trolls." I like it.

You might wonder why this came up: Trolls leave their claw and tooth marks on a lot of blogs, covering thousands of topics. But there is one blog that really got me thinking about this. I really, really like this blog. And I like to think that, if I met her in the offline world, the author and I might become friends. But she gets some of the nastiest, snarkiest, truely horrible comments from readers who can always find something to hate, from her parenting style to her hair to the ads on the site. One ass of a troll (trollass?) even wrote to tell her not to worry; he'd heard that some kids get cuter as they get older. That's right: He delivered a virtual kick to the head of a toddler because he didn't like Mom or what she was writing. Does anyone think he'd do that to her face? Of course not. But he felt fairly safe in doing it because he was hidden behind whatever identity he chose that day.

So why can't these Trolls just log off? Delete the bookmark? Shut up already? Because they are the same people who try to get books banned from schools and public libraries. Who boycott movies and amusement parks and sponsors of television shows they deem objectionable. Who think it's ok for them to decide what is best for all families, not just for their own. Maybe it does take a village to raise a child, but some of us would prefer to leave the village idiots out of the process.

I guess my bigger question is whether this is human nature, or just an unfortunate subset. It's like asking if someone would steal a lot of money if they knew there was no chance of being caught and punished. Or if some turn to cybercrime because, without the human interaction, it is a seemingly victimless crime. I'm not saying that people shoudn't feel free to criticize or comment, but common decency should still apply. If you don't have anything nice to say, try using a little thought and creativity to put it more politely. And if all else fails, don't say anything. After all, telling a mom that her kid is ugly isn't going to make her stop writing, but it might get your email address posted publicly.

Note to Self: Might want to stop calling them "village idiots" and "Trolls." That whole "practice/preach" thing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kos Music

I usually stop by Daily Kos every couple of days to get my political junkie fix and any new info floating around out there. Today as I was wandering through, I came across two sections I hadn't visited before: the tracking numbers (very impressive) and the musical compositions of Markos Moulitsa--founder of Daily Kos.

As I listened, I found myself wondering why we tend to look at people as one or two dimensional (maybe some part of our brain never gets over the shock of seeing our second grade teacher in the grocery store?) and why we pigeon hole them: You're an actor? A musician? An athlete? Nope, thanks. Don't care to hear your political opinions. Unless of course, you're selling what I'm buying. The right hate Barbra, Susan and George (Clooney). But Arnold, Clint and Sean (Astin) are more than welcome to opine. And lets not forget Ronnie, though that's kinda hard when everything in DC is soon to be named after him. But I digress. Again. Back to the music!

I'm sure Kos gets this a lot, but I was reminded of George Winston. Or rather, the way I felt the first time I heard a George Winston recording. Just struck by the purity of each note, every composition fraught with joy and a quiet passion. The type of music that, like Aaron Copeland compositions, imprints a very clear image, and makes one long to know this person, to see if he is indeed the one glimpsed through the music. I would have thought that so much political crap could have drowned out the beauty. And who knows, maybe it has; there don't seem to be any compositions post 1999.

So I'll admit it: I was surprised by the music. That was me pigeon-holing him (that sounds disgusting, but you know what I mean). After all, he's a progressive blogger who occasionally gets death threats from "fans" on the right. So what's he doing writing music? And such lovely music, I might add. I'll use it to remind me that there is almost always another side to everyone--even Ann Coulter can't possibly be the shrill one-note composition she appears to be.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Things I'll Do for a Little Peace and Quiet

This morning, I was able to experience once again the joy that is the mammogram. Because of family history--my mother had breast cancer twice, resulting in a double mastectomy--my doctor recommended that I get a baseline mammogram now instead of waiting until I turned 40. There was an abnormality, most likely just an area of denser tissue, but the radiologist recommended that I come back in six months to have it rechecked. Today was the day.

I love it that they tell you not to move or breathe: Your breast is crushed between the plates. The edge of the machine is rammed into your armpit. You're contorted into a position you haven't tried since college. And you're vaguely aware that someone had the foresight to roll the machine out of the freezer a whole two minutes before you walked into the room. So breathing and moving are the not activities you're going to want to engage in, knowing that the whole process would just have to be repeated.

I wasn't worried about the result of the exam (I know, very strange for a recovering hypochondriac) but it's not something any woman looks forward to. Especially those of us who were less blessed with the body part in question. But there I was, bright and early, sitting half-dressed in the exam room, trying not to be annoyed that the technician kept interrupting the Jon Stewart interview in Oprah. It's not like I can tell her to go watch Noggin for half an hour.

At the start of the exam, she (the tech, not Oprah) told me that they would only be taking two photos. When she came back to do two more, my mood tilted from annoyance to a teesny bit worried. Right in the middle of Jon and Tracey's first date, the tech returned to say that everything looked fine but that they were going to do a sonogram just to be sure. Now I was more intrigued than worried; everyone has seen lots of breasts, but it's not every day you get to see the inside. Well, unless that's your job, of course. It's actually quite beautiful, sort of a landscape with an ocean and rivers and beaches. And no tumors! Just glandular tissue, as expected.

While the pictures were printing and the radiologist was being consulted, I was told to "Just relax. Don't get up, as the radiologist will want to recheck this before you leave." That was the easily the best part of the morning. There I was, all alone in a dimly lit room, listening to nothing but soft music and the faint hum of the machines. "Please," I said as the tech left, "Tell the Doctor to take her time. I'm in no hurry."

Note to Self: Next time remember the Tylenol.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Good Day Sunshine!

This morning when I woke up, I felt that something was . . . different. Dappled sunlight danced across the room, pausing on the pillow next to my cheek. It took a couple of minutes for the brain to wrap around the concept--SUN!

As of yesterday, the Bay Area has had 13 rainy days out of April's first 16. San Francisco, which normally gets only 1.5 inches of rain for all of April, has already seen 4.8 inches. But today SUN!

We can go to the park! Walk the dog! Plan the garden! Still need two weeks of dry weather to add the "t" to the plan, but still: Sun today, sun tomorrow and for the rest of the work week. I'll take it!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

She Came This Way

Saturday mornings, Hannah goes to gymnastics. She loves it, so we recently added another class on Wednesdays. Very different demographics. Instead of Dads in sweats and baseball caps, think Moms in head-to-toe Burberry. Burberry scarf, Burberry rain boots and everything in between. Better yet, think Nanny. The first Wednesday class we went to, there were two other moms and three nannies. The kids all look as pulled together as their mothers do. And there goes my beautiful Hannah, pony tail half undone, leotard riding up to expose one diapered cheek . . . And this from the kid who normally considers herself to be a bit of a fashion plate, mixing color and pattern with abandon and somehow always (ok,almost always) making it work.

I don't dress Hannah. I am expected to provide the clothing--all of which must first meet her approval--and then just let her do her own thing. Jeans? Not a chance. Long sleeves? Only if you're really fast and/or have a big piece of chocolate handy. Pants? Ask again on laundry day when there are no skirts or dresses clean. And each and every dress, skirt and nightgown (gasp! There are dresses you can SLEEP in??) is tested for general twirliness, with preference given to those scoring the highest. This past autumn, we came back from Old Navy with a cute, cute brown skirt that she had apparently not seen before it went into the bag. I had to beg to get her to even try it on. It stayed at her waist for 2.3 seconds before being tossed aside.

"Hannah, it's so cute! Don't you at least want to try it on with the shirt?"

Very decisive shake of the head followed by:

"I guess you'll just have to take it back. We still have the receipt."

"But Hannah . . . "

"No. I don't like brown."

And she doesn't. Not even brown shoes. The pair that most people would call brown are actually sparkly gold shoes. For dancing in twirly princess dresses.

And when I asked why she was being so stubborn, she replied: "I don't know. I guess I just came this way."

So while employing a nanny wouldn't actually work for me (not that I wouldn't be willing to give a try, you know, just to be sure) sometimes I think about asking one of them for some pointers on getting Hannah to listen. To get things done a little faster. To not be so stubborn. But then I remember all the times I thought, "Huh, I would never have put that X with the Y, but somehow it works." (I was never very good at algebra, either.) Or just how easy it is to lose track of time with a pad of paper and a box of crayons. Or how I had never noticed that earthworms are shy.

So instead of asking for advice on getting Hannah to do what I want when I want it done, maybe I just need to spend a little more time in her world, at her speed. After all, does it really matter if she hates to brush her hair or wants to wear the same dress three days in a row? And is it really such a bad thing for her to go without a coat just because I'm cold? She's smart, funny, only a little sarcastic and very sociable, so I must be doing something right. Now if only I could get the antidote to selective hearing . . . .

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Hippity Hoppity

Tomorrow is Easter and I've been struggling with whether or not to do the whole Easter Bunny thing. I mean, we don't do the church thing, or even the religion thing, so it was a matter of deciding whether I felt it was disrespectful, or if Easter has become another Christmas, celebrated by anyone with even a remote connection to Christianity. It almost seems as if there are two different holidays, Easter/Bunny, occupying the same space on the calendar.

And of course, I have NO idea how the Easter Bunny ever came to be. I mean, when I was growing up Catholic, I don't recall the priest ever mentioning rabbits of any sort. Rams, lambs, asses, lions, goats: Check, check, check, check, check. Rabbits? Not so much. The eggs I can understand--life, renewal, rebirth and all that. I think it was one of those traditions adopted from the pagans. The chocolate? Well, let's just say that chocolate is something that I can really get behind.

So do I deny the girls the joys of the Easter Bunny because of my residual Catholic guilt (otherwise known as "the gift that keeps on giving")? Or do I let them get all hopped up on sugar before, during and after breakfast knowing that they have a lifetime to make their own decisions about God and religion?

I think I'm going to have to vote for chocolate. After all, if there is a god, s/he would surely understand.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Big Sister At Last

It seems that it wasn't that long ago that Hannah was asking (telling) me to take Charlotte back to the hospital. I guess she thought that if we still had the receipt, maybe we could all just go back her only-childness. But over the past couple of months, she's moved on to dressing Charlotte like a princess; dragging Charlotte into the playhouse whether she wanted to go or not; and now my favorite, teaching Charlotte. Yesterday, I was in the kitchen and heard Hannah in the living room, explaining how a shapes puzzle worked.

"Look Charlotte, this one is called a tri-angle. And you know what this is under it? Pizza! Do you like pizza?"

"This one is called a pen-ta-gon. And look! There's a house under it."

"Can you say circle? And what's under the circle? A CLOCK!"

This one of course made me laugh. Hannah's first word was "clock" but she wasn't able to say the letter 'L" for another six months or so. That was fun! Imagine the phone conversation with Grandma:

"Hannah said her first word today!"

"Really?! Hurray! What was it, Mama or Dada?"

"No, it was 'clock!'!"

"CLOCK? Well put her on! I want to hear it!"

"Oh, um. . . . . . She's taking a nap right now . . . .Maybe in a couple of weeks? Hours! I mean hours!"

How the hell was I going to get her to say it with the "L" in just a couple of hours?! So I had to 'fess up. It was pretty funny after all. Until she learned to say "Flag." Then we just told her that was called a banner.

Of course, we'll be happy no matter what Charlotte decides to say first. Well, as long as it isn't "No!" Hannah's pretty much got that covered.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Moment of Bliss

I glanced out the window not long ago to see an extra-long white van come roaring into the driveway. As if on cue, the doors all opened at the same time, unleashing an army of white-clad maids, each with a broom or mop or bucket in hand. My heart leapt. Visions of sparkling glass and counters, dust-free shelves and gleaming floors danced in my head. "Hallelujah! It's Christmas!" I wanted to shout.

Alas, it's only Wednesday. This particular Christmas wasn't scheduled to arrive until Thursday. Tomorrow. Another 24 hours to wait for my once-again spotless home, as temporary a condition as that may be. I must admit, I was torn: They were here, who not do it today? Surely we could go somewhere for a bit. But not ten minutes before, Charlotte had started rubbing her eyes and fussing for yet another nap. And because we had hosted playgroup yesterday, there was not a single uncluttered surface and I have yet to find the playroom floor.

Bliss will have to wait. In the meantime, I need to go move a few piles of books and magazines and toys.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ignorance is Never Bliss

I recently saw the beginnings of a minor flame war in the Letters section of the San Jose Mercury News. OK, I started it. Anyway, another letter writer thought that abstinence-only programs to fight HIV/AIDS shouldn't be so controversial, as he credited this approach with cutting by half the infection rate in Uganda. I thought he was an idiot, which I tried to say a little more diplomatically:

"It is disingenuous to state, as did Mr X (Letters, March
30), that Uganda used an abstinence-only program to reduce that
country's HIV-infection rate. In fact, Uganda devised a program that
employed a variety of approaches. Referred to as the ABC program, it
promoted Abstinence, Being faithful and using Condoms. It was not
until the Bush administration started attaching more strings to funds
given to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa that the focus
stated to shift to abstinence-only programs."

My initial reason for responding to this man was that this was another instance of the half-truths put forth by the extreme right, evangelical wing of the Republican party, using distortion of fact to bolster their arguments against using government funds for anything other than abstinence-only programs, both in the US and around the world. Their reasoning (if one can call it that)? Promoting the use of condoms encourages promiscuity. This is the same group of people who are against making the HPV vaccine part of the routine vaccination schedule for girls. And the same people fighting to keep the FDA from approving over-the-counter use of Plan B.

The Bush administration has allocated huge amounts of money to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, which is commendable. What is not is that there are now complicated formulas that must be applied by anyone receiving these funds, leading many groups to just put their efforts into the "approved" abstinence-only programs. The administration has also been aggressive in courting faith-based programs that promote abstinence and faithfulness over, rather than in tandem with the use of condoms.

As for the HPV vaccine: Some researchers have estimated that as many as 75% of Americans have been infected with HPV at some time. Most of them don't know it. Some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer, and the American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2006 alone, there will be "about 9,710 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in the US" and that approximately 3,700 women will die from it. So by rejecting efforts to make a vaccine available to all girls, almost 4,000 women are being condemned. Why? It is possible that, even if a woman did abstain from sex until marriage, she could then marry a man who is infected and doesn't know it. Is she to be punished because a small, vocal group squashed the vaccine because it offended their moral sensibilities? Do we really want to go back to the days of "she was asking for it"?

Now (sorry to be one of those annoying people who ask and answer their own questions) would I prefer that my daughters wait until they are in a committed relationship before having sex (many, MANY years from now!)? Of course I would. But the reality is, I can't control that. Neither can I just close my eyes and wish the world or human nature away. What I can do is give them a solid foundation of self-respect and common sense. We have to teach them everything we can about trusting their instincts. We have to teach them that it's OK to say no. We have to give them any and all information they might need, whether it's about abstinence or using a condom or the existence of Plan B. And most importantly, we have to let them know, every minute of every day, that they can come to us for anything, tell us anything, ask us anything.

When it comes to the health and well-being of children, ignorance is never bliss; it's just plain stupid.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Walker Built For Two

Did you ever have a moment that seemed to confirm your choice of a life partner? That you were fated (for good or ill!) to be with that person for life? A couple of weeks ago, as the girls and I were driving to Peets, we passed an elderly couple, toodling along on their motorized scooters. As I was waiting at the light, they were holding hands as they passed me going into the shopping center. I couldn't help but laugh, because my first thought was "Man! Thomas and I have to get a pair of those!" (The scooters, not the elderly couple.) Can you get a Great Dane on the back of one of those?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Little Bit--Not So Little Anymore

Charlotte, also known as Little Bit, Bugga Bugga and Butchee Butchee (the last two courtesy of Hannah!), is now 15 months old. It seems that it was only yesterday that we were anxiously watching through the NICU incubator as her tiny tiny chest rose and fell, keeping time with the soft beeping of the monitors. Born six weeks early, she weighed just 3 pounds, 11 ounces, and was 16 inches long. But we were very fortunate, as she had first tried to escape the womb at 28 weeks. There had been a couple of scouting missions before that, testing the fences, so to speak. Which is why I'm a little surprised that she is not already walking. Maybe she's afraid that if she tries to make a run for it, she'll be pumped full of magnesium again! Ah, good times.

So Little Bit is now 18#, 13 ounces and 30 inches long, which puts her on the stringbean side of the chart--just under the 5th percentile for weight and between the 15th and 20th for length. Translated to retail numbers, she's wearing 12-18 month size for length, but we have to roll pants down to make them stay up. Belts for babies=trouble, so hopefully we're getting the baggy-arsed thing out of the way before the teenage years.

It has been amazing to see that, as much as she has changed physically, her personality has stayed pretty much as it was at birth. Now that she's out in the world, she is one of the most patient, easy-going children I have ever met, which is a good thing as Hannah is . . . what's the word? Oh yeah: NOT. With Hannah, everything is " Now! Now! Now! Me! Me! Me! Me!" Charlotte is more of a "When you get around to it. If you don't mind . . ." kind of baby. (I vaguely remember Hannah being that way as a baby, but then we hit the 18-month speed bump. And just for the record, Kerry: Anyone who tells you that the Terrible Twos start and end between the ages of two and three is lying. Scratch them off your Christmas card list immediately!) But Charlotte is also mischievous and always in motion, whether just kicking her feet and watching her hands move, or crawling at light speed across the room. She has never bothered to stop or even pause to turn around when going down the steps into the playroom--it's always full-speed ahead. I can't WAIT until she decides to take on the staircase! No doubt Hannah will be right there, cheering her on.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rainy Days

As of today, San Jose has already had 138% of average rainfall for the year. If we didn't get another drop, we would have enough stored water to last for two years. And if we didn't get another drop, I would be one happy mother. Take that to mean whatever you like!

Think of it: the last 10 days in February. At least 20 days in March. (Maybe 26--my brain is water logged and I can't remember.) It's only April 4, but it has rained every day so far this month and is expected to continue to rain for all but one day of the next week. Translation: Cabin fever. Wired 3-year old. Seriously constipated dog (he won't go out in the rain).

We obviously can't go to the park; the mall is out because if there are no little red cars, Hannah whines and whimpers and dead-drops her weight until I'm dragging her by one arm. And if there ARE little red cars, getting her out of it at the end of the trip is, to put it nicely, a nightmare. I end up praying for a fire alarm to go off so I can say "That's why she's screaming."

So instead, we stay home. I've almost stopped saying "Hannah! Don't jump from that!" because I rarely get to the exclamation point before she's in mid-air. I should be used to it by now--she climbed from her crib the first time at 15 months. Didn't fall, just scaled the side and dropped over. But I'm still worried that I'll have my first heart attack before I'm 40. Fortunately, Charlotte is not yet following in her sister's footsteps. Just sitting back and taking it all in. Probably taking notes so that there are no repeat performances.