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[Comments] (2) : I both hosted and lead the discussion on The Chosen for my book group tonight. After a day of tidying, preparing refreshments, and organizing my thoughts on the book, I am exhausted. I always over-prepare for these discussions when I lead them. Better be over-prepared than under-prepared.

[Comments] (2) Perils of the Wild: There was a squirrel walking our fence this afternoon that had a very short tail. I wonder what happened to the other half. In all other ways, the creature looked very plump and healthy. But what happened to its tail??

[Comments] (7) Comprehending Baldness: Atticus said to me, "You know, one day when I get big, I'm going to have scratchies all over my face."

"Oh, yeah?" I reply.

"Yeah, my face is going to be scratchy, and all my hair is going to be cut off."

That does sound like someone I know.

[Comments] (4) : There was a terrible wind storm that lasted through Friday night and woke Atticus up. He was so afraid. I walked into the room around 2:30am where Dave was already comforting him. There was a new loud gust, and Atticus cried, "See, the witches are howling!!"

Poor kid. He has enough night terrors that he doesn't need witches adding to the problem with their loud howling!

[Comments] (8) They Paved Paradise, and Put Up a Parking Lot: I should be doing "tasks" right now, since Atticus is at school and Samuel is napping. Gotta be a slacker once-in-a-while.

Ben and my mom sent us an Audible subscription for Christmas, and I just finished listening to our first book order: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. The book is haunting me. In Atwood's own words, the novel is about "what ifs": "What if we continue down the road we're already on? How slippery is the slope? What are our saving graces? Who's got the will to stop us?"

Genetic engineering, environmental carelessness, the media parade of intimate things that leaves individuals full of lust, but alienated from real relationships: these issues and more are followed through to their destructive end, and Atwood makes too much sense. This piece of speculative fiction is not for the faint-of-heart. If you do read it, tell me what you think.

: Dave laced and tied Samuel's shoes for him. He came to me, pleased, and said, "Papa tied me up."

[Comments] (7) Full House: I hosted a playgroup brunch this morning; 14 moms and 22 kids came. Every one of the 750 square feet of our four room apartment was buzzing with toddler and pre-schooler energy. I made cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip and cherry scones, and a frittata with eggs, cheese and green chili peppers (the Walch family Christmas morning dish). Everyone that came brought something to share, and the event went off with more success than I thought possible with the number of kids in attendance. We laced licorice strings with Fruit Loops. I think that activity was the saving grace.

[Comments] (1) : Poor Atticus is sick, so last night, his sleep was restless. Around 1:30, I heard him cry out, so I went into his room to check on him. He was muttering, "No. . . no. . . not that one, I want the green playdough, up high . . ."

I wasn't so worried about him after that.

[Comments] (5) : I am so cold!! My Texas body thermostat is not adjusting to Kansas winters. But I never adjusted to the Utah cold, either. Only one full month of winter left to endure. This year.

[Comments] (3) Nakie Time: The boys love to have what we call "nakie time" after their baths. It fits my agenda because they are too squirmey for a toweling off. So, with our arrangement, they get dry and have fun running around like freed maniacs for five minutes. Of course it is all fun and games until someone pees on the floor.

[Comments] (3) Granola Mouth: I haven't made granola, typically a Matkin household staple, in over a month. We made so many batches as Christmas presents for important-someones in Lawrence that I haven't been able to bring myself to the task until today. But since my cousin, Leonard, mentioned granola on his blog, my tummy has been rumbling for it.

I had this great idea to include Samuel in my project, since Atticus was playing at a friend's house and cooking seems to be a perfect kid-helps-mom kind of activity. I gave him a spatula and let him stir the oats and stuff. Before I knew it, he was taking huge fistfuls to his mouth, crumbs falling off his face and into the bowl. Then he was pinching bits of ingredients in his fingers and dropping them onto the floor. Now I have a great mess to clean up. All said and done, it isn't so bad. We did something constructive together, and this time I wasn't so uptight about it. But there is a lesson to remember: theory doesn't always translate perfectly into practicalities.

Fumbling in the Night: The boys and I are all stricken with scratchy throats and coughs. I'm not sure about Dave; one can never detect when he is sick. He is a soldier for those types of things. Last night, I was having such trouble falling asleep that I raided our cupboards for anything that would soothe my throat. A well stocked medicine cabinet is one of those things that goes unnoticed until something is lacking. I found some Coldeze tablets on a shelf underneath all our hats in a random closet. What an odd place for such a thing.

We're in for a trip to the pharmacy today.

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Well, I finished the book yesterday. It was very interesting, though with 150 something years of added insight to such issues as slavery and the subjugation of African Americans do expose many problems with the text. For example, Stowe seems to trade one set of stereotypes (that of moral-less, unfeeling, barbarians) for another (simplistic, child-like, dependent creatures). One step forward, at least, in the context of history.

The novel also begs the question: is it possible for a white female to fairly represent the characteristics of a culture and race completely different from her own? Can any outside writer succeed in writing the lives of the "other"? Stowe's characters seem to be caucasion personalities dressed in "mulatto" and "negro" skin, terms she uses to categorize characters. All things considered, Uncle Tom's Cabin is an important book, and I'm pleased that such a gutsy piece of fiction came from a woman.

I'm wondering why this is one of the most banned books in the US. Strange what people get up in arms about, sometimes.

[Comments] (3) And to finish the week . . . a trip to the pediatrician : I thought we were all on the mend, except for a few minor complaints. Atticus has been more and more tender each day about his ear hurting (but he has no fever), and he's waking up in the night to remind me several times. Samuel also seemed to be doing well finally, though he has had the most stubborn diaper rash that I figured had turned into a yeast infection. So I called and made appointments for Dr. Riordan to look at Atticus' left ear and Samuel's hind quarters. And boy did I get a few surprises! Atticus has a really bad ear infection--in both ears!! Samuel is recovering from bronchitis, and has ashma like wheezing and coughing. And that diaper rash? Perianal strep, like strep throat, only in the, well, you know. My poor babies are sickies. Now that I have amoxicillin for each and an airway opener for Samuel, we'll all get a little more rest around here. Here's to hoping.

: I took away a styrofoam egg carton that Samuel had begun to tear to pieces. "Man, it is so hard to control that kid," Atticus says, "he's so crazy."

Nachos, anyone?: Dave had this groovy dinner idea when we had leftover black beans: scatter tortilla chips on a cookie sheet (one with a little bit of a lip), heap with warm beans, generously sprinkle with grated cheese, and place in oven under broiler. Watch carefully. Our broiler can be set at a temperature, and we usually put it at 300 degrees. When the cheese is melted, remove nachos from oven, distribute onto plates, and add whatever nacho toppings you desire (fresh salsa, tomatoes, guacamole, sprinkling of lime, cilantro, etc.). Viola! There's supper.

Maybe the children you know will even eat it.

[Comments] (1) : Our thoughtful friends, Liz and John Paul, called up and offered to tend the kids so we could go on a date on Saturday night. We went to the Mediterranean Cafe, which is a little market/ cafe in a strip mall on the northwest side of town. I ordered the falafel with hummus, Dave picked the chicken gyro, and we both had a bowl of red lentil soup. The falafel was the most complex I have ever eaten. I couldn't really put my finger on the spices they used, but I'm pretty sure I tasted cloves! and red pepper flakes. The prevailing taste was not of chickpeas, which is what I'm used to. The Mediterranean Cafe falafel was delish. And the hummus was so tangy and fresh. We thought the lentil soup was good, too, but not good enough to merit the $3.50 a bowl we paid. We could hear the cooks speaking Greek to each other in the kitchen, and we salivated on all the imported foods and treats they had in the market while we waited for our food. We'll definitely go back again.

[Comments] (3) : Atticus and I were looking for a new shirt at the store today. I picked out a nice striped shirt, and he said, "No, I want a shirt my friends will say is cool." Translation: I want a superhero shirt.

Four-years-old and already concerned about what people think of his wardrobe? Boy are we in for it.

[Comments] (4) Early Extortion: Atticus: "You have to give me fruit snacks, or something bad might happen."

[Comments] (5) The Scent of New Horizons: It is almost 5:00 am. Samuel climbed into our bed sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 am. When the disturbance was too much to ignore, I woke up to remove him. Then around four o' something I noticed another moving body in my sleeping space. This time, with more difficulty, I woke up and discovered Atticus. I might have kicked Dave awake to take care of him, but Dave's eyes have looked so painfully bloodshot the past few days. I got up to return Atticus to his bed. Then I burrowed under my covers and tried to fall asleep myself. Instead I stared at the backs of closed eyelids, listening to the heater come on and off. I usually have a hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep after night wakings, but especially after multiple needs in a single night. Be warned, all who look forward to creating offspring in your lifetime: children require round-the-clock care. They don't compartamentalize their needs and activities in day time/ night time periods, like adults. You would-be-parents will always be on call, could be needed at any hour. That might sound like a death sentence. Sometimes it is.

The problem this morning is that I've started thinking about The Future. We're well into the fourth semester of Dave's course work. We have only one remaining. By this time next year, Dave will have completed his oral and written exams, and will no longer be a PhD student, but a doctoral candidate. Then, we will only have one task to finish: the dissertation. Granted, this is the most formidable endeavor of all. We have no idea how long of a time committment it will require, but a year is a fair and generous estimate. So, two years to go. Only two Lawrence Farmer's Market seasons left for sure, though maybe three. But in one year, we'll be scoping out the job market, placing applications, floating resumes. That will be exciting. Dave sometimes pitches me different scenarios for jobs. "NYU or University of Chicago, which one?" "UVIC, University of Toronto, or Acadia University?" "BYU or the U of U?" "U-Dub or USD?" Some of these are realistic options, but some of them are made of dreams only. In the end, beggers can be selective, but they have to pick something, and after a cumulative 6 years of marriage with one or the other of us in school, it will be a welcome change to have a "real" job.

Last October I wrote about ambitious plans to possibly finish school in three years. Realistically, it will have taken us four, and if we keep to the one year allowance for the dissertation, this time two years hence, we will be finished.

: My latest favorite breakfast is oatmeal slow-cooked with a hand full of raisins and a little salt, served with a sprinkling of brown sugar, a heap of chopped walnuts, and a whallup of vanilla yogurt. Yogurt is the "new" component of my staple morning meal. It's like having dessert for breakfast, and it keeps me going like the Energizer Bunny. Try it.

Incidentally, we consume, as a family, a 25 bag of Heartland Mills (Kansas grown and milled) organic old-fashioned rolled oats about every 4-5 months--even in the summer. We've got to branch out.

[Comments] (10) Crummy Addiction: I think that I've become obsessed with reading my little group of favorite blogs, going alphabetically through my own blog to check for comments, then to jabberwocky, joe, kristen, rachel, swishina, traffic, then to crummy.com, to Sumana's site and to Brendan's, then to my friend Sabine's blog, and her husband Mike's, which I added to my list recently. If no one has posted anything new since the last time I've checked, like fifteen minutes ago, I go into withdrawls and I start to hyperventilate. Well, not really, but I'm pretty pathetic. People: I can't go to the cubical or the office next door to see another fully grown human being, so I am sometimes hungering for virtual company instead. Please don't say your life is boring, or resign your blog to silence. I might just go into histerics.

For readers that don't already know, some of my favorite crummy bloggers are also favorite family members.

[Comments] (3) : Some mornings I wake up and deep down inside, I've already decided the coming day is doomed. This is that kind of day.

I don't want to take care of anyone else today. I want someone to take care of me for a change. To make matters worse, Dave left for a conference in Wichita this morning, and he won't be back until tomorrow night.

Man, I hate days like this. Maybe a long, hot shower will lift this malaise better than my lame attempts at peppy self-talk. I'll give it a try. The boys can watch Pee Wee's Playhouse and eat fruit snacks while I try to shoulder the day ahead.

: Well, my day turned out fine after all. I traded baby-sitting with my neighbor for a couple hours. That helped. Now the boys are in bed. I am going to watch Hidalgo and eat Ben & Jerry's. We'll see how well Vigo performs when he's not trying to save Middle Earth.

[Comments] (4) : Check it out: destination vacation spot. Tempted anyone?

: Atticus pushed a piece of paper under his bedroom door. Samuel, walking by, noticed the sheet slide into the open, so he picked it up and started to walk away. Atticus waited a moment, and then opened the door in frustration.

"Hey, I'm playing mail, not steal the mail!"

[Comments] (15) Bought and Sold: Many of my friends and family members are familiar with my vexation of Wal-mart. Dave and I have grown more and more committed over the years to supporting local merchants whenever possible. When we moved to Lawrence, it was like stumbling upon a treasure trove of local economy. Here there is a thriving downtown of stores and restaurants that one cannot find anywhere but in Lawrence. This isn't only downtown; little thriving companies are scattered all over the city. So are cars with bumper stickers that read: "Vote with your Dollar," and "A Living Wage Builds a Better Lawrence." I bring this up because I read a great op-ed piece in the NY Times today, and it made my pulse quicken. I know that I pay a higher price to shop at, say, The Raven Bookstore, an independently owned shop that sits just around the corner from Borders. I know that if I buy pizza from Rudy's Pizzeria I might spend a couple dollars more than if I went to Pizza Hut (I also wouldn't enjoy their made-from-scratch crusts and sauces, their freshly grated cheese blends--mmmm). Friends, I'm not just buying a book or a slice of pizza (as superior as it may be). I'm buying the privilege of walking down Massachusetts street and seeing my town, not just Anywhere, USA. I'm paying for the benefit of standing behind the owner of the local outdoor outfitter at the grocery store, knowing that the t-shirts and swim goggles I've purchased from her not only help pay for her groceries, but also her thriving dreams. These people are my neighbors, and I'm investing in them.

I understand the allure of rock-bottom prices. But this journalist, Robert Reich, is totally right. No matter where you shop, you get what you pay for.

[Comments] (2) The World Is My Cookie: I made my kids chocolate chip cookies tonight. It was so precious watching those boys gingerly dip their cookies in milk and savor every crumble. How delicious and wonderful this world must seem to them.

[Comments] (2) Tantrums Galore: Child development expert Terry Brazelton has this theory: preceding every step in social, emotional, and sometimes physical development, children experience regressions and frustrations. By the looks of Samuel's temperament these days, he is due for one of these leaps. I wonder if he is building up to the stage of taking hostages next.

[Comments] (1) Always in Fashion, Always a Babe:

*talking on the phone to my sister*

Julie: "Well, I've gotta go get ready for a date."

Me: "Woah! You have a date tonight? What are you going to wear?"

Julie: "Probably just a t-shirt and jeans. We're going bowling, and he isn't going to be dressed up, so I don't want get too dressed up. Besides, I have to wear something that will match bowling shoes."

[Comments] (5) : That's it! I'm grounded from the internet until I deal with my nest of papers and the kitchen floor. 'Tis true that a person can afford to be less fastidious about housework, but the bills will not wait.

I have got to get that RSS feed set up. We've downloaded the Thunderbird program, but Dave says it needs some sort of patch??. He'll have it all figured out soon enough.

The Kitchen Is My Therapy Couch: I was angsty and frustrated. I kneaded some bread dough. I feel much better now.

[Comments] (3) Brownie Points: Sumana--you so totally rock!

[Comments] (1) Two-Year-Old Sensibilities: Samuel has an awful habit of not using his napkin at the dinner table. Instead, when he feels the need to wipe his face, he sprints to the living room and face-plants into the couch cushions, smearing food into the upholstery. So, when you come and sit on our abomination-of-a-couch, please be merciful in your judgments. It is not our wish to be unkempt, but the toddler in residence is not fully house trained.

[Comments] (2) Favorite Scones: Make these scones. They are the British kind, not the southern deep-fried sort. If you have any left, share them. Your friends will come groveling for the recipe.

Cream Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup sugar

¾ cup “mix-ins”

1 ¼ cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Whisk to blend well. Add the “mix-ins.” Stir the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula while pouring the cream, continuing to stir until a soft, sticky dough is formed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly (8-10 times). Pat the dough into a circle ½” to ¾” thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and place the wedges an inch or so apart on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with cream and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar.

Bake at 425º until golden brown and springy to the touch-about 15 minutes.

Mix-ins can include dried fruits, nuts and chocolate bits, or a combination. Favorite mix-in ideas:

Dried tart cherries with golden raisins

White chocolate chunks with quartered dried apricots

Chocolate chips with dried tart cherries

½ cup dried currants along with the zest of one orange

[Comments] (5) First Young Love: Atticus came home with a note from Parker that says (in darling preschool handwriting) "A. I. love. you." He also reported that Parker said she wants to marry him. His emphatic response: "Mom--I'm going to stop her!"

Classic case of unreciprocated love.

Hey, I'm the Tax Man: Bills are paid. *phew* Tax return is filed. *phew* Now I can finally get all related loose papers put away out of my sight. *PHEW*

: Meanwhile my children are jousting with their yogurt tubes. Better clean that up.

[Comments] (3) Frogs and Snails and Puppy dog's tails: Samuel peed in the toilet for the first time today. He was very excited about this: "I go pee in the potty. I can pee in the grass. Boys pee in the grass!"

Of all the motivations to toilet train, Samuel just wants to take a leak in the grass.

[Comments] (1) TGIF: There is a breaking point in parenting at which the levels of whining, tantruming, complaining and demanding push me over the edge and I begin to whine, tantrum, complain and demand like a ten-year-old. Thank goodness I'm still an improvment compared to a four or two-year-old.

[Comments] (1) : Playing with corn starch and water is so fun!

[Comments] (4) And I Thought Poop was Poop: Today it was necessary for me to change the diaper of the little boy I love to baby-sit. It was interesting to me that I can change my own kids' diapers with no problem at all, but changing the other little boy had me dry heaving. Even though I adore caring for him, he isn't mine, and somehow that makes a difference. What a wonder.

Atticus noticed that the child is uncircumcised. He said, "Mom, how come his penis is chopped off?" I didn't tell him it is actually the other way around.

While I am on this topic, I will warn you to take care when you decide to teach your son the proper term for his anatomical parts. There are benefits, like when you are potty training. Some things really must be named in that situation, and we obviously chose to use the more accurate term. Sometimes that nomenclature can embarrass a parent, though, like when we were visiting a dinosaur exhibit. A group of adults asked Atticus what he thought of the T-Rex. He announced that he knew it was a girl dinosaur because it didn't have a penis. I wanted to die.

[Comments] (3) Discovering a Six Legged World: The boys and I ventured out today to see Bugtown, the newly opened exhibit at the KU Natural History Museum. In fact, there are special demonstrations, experiments, and hands-on activities going on all week at the museum for spring break. We did a little bee dance by walking on tape-arrows that were arranged in a bee dance pattern, sort of like something one might see depicting square dance steps. There were little activities that demonstrated the benefits of camouflage for insects. We made a bug at the craft table where children could pick one out of 6 types of construction paper wings, legs, antennae, heads, etc. and create a unique insect. There was a taste test station where Atticus tried chocolate covered ants. I ate a dried Bamboo worm, larvets seasoned with Mexican spices, a dried grasshopper body, and of course the chocolate covered ants. Samuel tried every single thing in his reach. I guess he thought that since it was all presented on plates, it was meant to be eaten. He never hesitated to munch away. I pretty strongly regretted eating the grasshopper. Eating it wasn't as gross as burping it up for the next few hours until I finally got home and ate lunch. But really, other cultures would have been equally disgusted with the cheese we put in our quesadillas, so it's all relative. Now we are home and snow is falling outside. Ah, wonderful moisture! The grass is getting greener by the hour.

: I started making chop suey for supper, and then realized that all the mung bean sprouts I bought on Saturday were slimey and gross. I fished out a few that were still okay, but it was a big bummer.

[Comments] (1) Dreamy Wedding: While we are sharing dreams, I had an interesting one last night. I dreamed Dave and I were at St. Paul's Cathedral for Prince Charles' and Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding. Outside the cathedral, there was chocolate cake instead of grass (watch your step!), and on the cake, an icing of daffodills and tulips instead of real ones. One had only to reach down and dig up a serving of cake to be eaten with one's fingers. It was the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten.

[Comments] (7) When I Grow Up: Atticus is continually planning his future occupations, though more often than not, what he is really planning is a persona he wants to become when he grows up. "I want to be Wally West when I grow up, I want to be Batman, I want to be Spiderman, Green Lantern, I want to be a Bionicle, I want to be a construction worker, an airplane pilot, I want to be a bad pirate!" He's always scheming. Tonight at dinner he said "I want to be an Easter Bunny when I grow up--but not the Bunny kind. I want to be a human Easter Bunny."

I think he's really onto something.

Grrrrrrrrr. . .: My entire address book that I had saved in my BYU e-mail account has been erased. Wah!!! Please e-mail my gmail (alysonmatkin@gmail.com) account so I can keep track of you. Please?

[Comments] (1) : Okay, nevermind. I already have e-mail addresses (or at least links to addresses) for you if you are reading this. But what about all the lost e-mail info for old high school and college friends? Gone. Woe is me.

[Comments] (5) : I didn't really like my last entry--too much of an expose, so I'm deleting it. Sorry guys!

[Comments] (1) Inaugurating Spring: In celebration of the warmest, nicest day of the year, we spent the evening flying kites and eating a pizza picnic at the park. Happy Springtime!

Woohoooo!: It is already 59 degrees outside, and we haven't even yet hit 9:00am! Good Riddance, you miserable Kansas winter time!

[Comments] (8) Keeping Up With the Joneses: Our neighbors bought light sabers on clearance at Target this afternoon, so guess where I was an hour after they brought their toys home. At Target. Buying light sabers. These things light up, make noise, and protract to over 3 feet.

As I trudged my way to the register to purchase them, I kept thinking about the numerous times I'd said in the recent 24 hour period "Don't whack your brother with that!!" And there I was. Buying light sabers. *sigh*

[Comments] (6) Ginger Cures All Ills: Tomorrow is our big day: Tendon Transfer Day. Today we go to Children's Mercy Hospital to see our Orthopaedic Surgeon for Atticus' pre-surgery physical. Then we are going to the airport to get Aunt Ginger, who will be tending us for the week. Ginger is going to take care of Samuel while Dave, Atticus and I are at the hospital tomorrow. Then she will help us nurse Atticus when he comes home (Ginger is a nurse). Everyone is so looking forward to her arrival. In fact, everytime there is a bump or a knock in our four-plex building, the boys are convinced Ginger is waiting at the door. They can hardly wait to see her.

[Comments] (13) Surgery Update: Well, we're home now, but here's a play-by-play of Atticus' big day.

When we arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning, there were no vacant beds in the hospital, so the nurses said we'd probably have to go home unless a patient was discharged, thus opening up a space for Atticus. We were sure to let the nurses know we wouldn't be leaving (not for a second time!) until they sent us home, so we waited around two hours. Then, a little after 2:00, our nurse informed us we were all ago, so we went into pre-operation mode. The surgery was completed around 3:30. Dr. Andersen then met with us to tell us he had to do an extra lengthening procedure in Atticus' gastrocnemius because of the increased spasticity (caused from waiting an extra five months for the surgery, of course). He also told us the anestesiologist gave him a "coddle," or a localized anestesia (kind-of like an epidural, a shot in his lower spine) in addition to the general anestesia. We knew each of these might be necessary before-hand. The coddle prevented Atticus from feeling the pain in his leg while he was coming out of general anestesia, so this was a good thing. When the coddle wore off, however Atticus found himself in great pain, and all he wanted was to go home. Poor guy had to stay (with that awful IV that he hated having in his hand) all night, and he didn't rest until around 2:00 am when his pain meds finally kicked in. Dave stayed with him overnight, so during his unsettled time, he took Atticus on a tour of places where he had gone during the day (surgery wing, recovery room, etc), as well as where Dave and I had spent our time while we waited to see him again. It was a long night for them both.

When Ginger (Dave's sister), Samuel and I arrived Wednesday morning to pick Atticus up, he was very anxious to go home. Our nurse came to take out his IV, he saw a physical therapist for a little gait training with a walker, and after lunch, he was ready to go home. We were discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon around 1:30.

He's doing pretty well now. He's finally getting some sleep and feeling comfortable, but he is suffering from a considerable amount of pain through his left leg. Atticus gets around well with his walker, which is now decorated with Batman and Spiderman stickers, but mostly he wants to stay off his feet. When we engourage him to extend his leg, he is likely to protest, "If I straighten my leg, I'll need more pain meds!!" We're hoping that he'll be able to straighten it and do some weight bearing in the next few days, but we're taking things slowly.

[Comments] (1) The Matkin Globe Trotters: I'm in Cardston, Alberta with the boys. We just got in a couple of hours ago. Atticus is doing really well with his walking. His left heel is getting closer and closer to the ground every day, which is a relief to see. Anyway, I've been staring at the road so long that I'm not wanting to look at this computer screen anymore, so that's all I'll report today.

[Comments] (2) I'm No Sharon Stone: I took this picture to a hair stylist today and got my hair really chopped. It was short before, but now there isn't much of it left. I don't really like to feel hair in my face, or over my ears, or on my neck, so the cut suits me that way, even if the look doesn't.

I must confess that I don't like the look as much as I'd hoped to, mostly because all the hair I have left on my head is so uniformly mouse-brown colored. Becky, the hair expert that cut my hair, talked me into making an appointment on Thursday to get highlights, so we'll see if that's remedied. Yikes!! Now I'm really a fussy woman! Dave's Aunt Barb is going to treat me with some gift money she left. We'll see if I get the tousled-urban-hippie-mom look I'm going for.

Boy, that's kind-of scary, that I can put a label on the "look I'm going for." Was I going for a look? I guess I was. And I like to tell myself I don't care how I look.

[Comments] (3) The Great White North: We are having the third snow fall since I've been here in Cardston, Alberta. My brother-in-law, Shawn, is a farmer, so I don't dare complain about the weather. The moisture is a great benefit to his canola and wheat crops. But I've got to think of something to make the day pass more smoothly than yesterday; I already have two stir crazy beasties on my hands.

: Sorry--Repeat entry.

When the Wind Blows . . .: Today is sunny, so the snow has mostly melted, but the wind is brutal. Where are these warm chinooks that everyone talks about when they discuss the tempermentality of Southern Alberta weather? We took the occasion to eat out at Pizzas and Cream, a charming pizza joint downtown Cardston. Here is a list of Cardston restaurants: there are two pizza restaurants, two Chinese places, and one Yotee's (a sort of Shoney's, or Denny's, or the like). Pizzas and Cream is my favorite because of the ambience: there are mini juke boxes at each booth, the seats are upholstered with glittered red and white vinyl, and there are 1950's-1960's antique things on high shelves along all the walls. Besides, the name Pizzas and Cream just makes me hungry. We ordered one medium pizza, half with pepperoni for the boys, and half veggie supreme for Ginger and me. It was quite good.

[Comments] (2) Bittersweetness: I overheard Atticus answering questions about his leg in the other room, where he was playing Nintendo with Mark's eleven and twelve year old friends.

"What did you do to your leg?" Another boy asked, "Did you break it?"

"I had surgery." he said, and then went on, "I was born with it. I kind-of crawled weird."

I'm not sure if Mark's friends understood what he was telling them. It is also hard to know what Atticus understands about his own body. I wonder sometimes how he feels about himself. Does he consider himself to be different from other children around him? Does he recognize that his left side is partially, mildly paralyzed? Does he see that as a limitation, or a challenge?

I want Atticus to grow up a self confident, happy child. I hope that our conversations help him to understand his uniqueness in a positive way. I sometimes want to cry about the whole thing, except that Atticus has so much sweetness and optimism.

He handles things better than his mother.

[Comments] (3) Cowboys: Shawn, my brother-in-law, not only farms, but he also raises cattle. We had a family dinner out at Shawn and Patty's farm on Saturday. Atticus enjoyed it, but Samuel was in heaven. We saw cows, bulls, and calves, including one that was barely newborn (mama cow was still licking off all the "stuff" from being in the "womb." There was a premature calf, about a day old, that was in a warming box in the barn. We watched that little guy take a bottle. That was a thrill, but no match for each of their short turns sitting on a cow that was in a pen. Then we watched Shawn AI two cows. The bull-donor lives somewhere in Brazil.

We had tacos for supper, made from the ground steak of one of Shawn and Patty's own cows. One of the conveniences of modern living is that one doesn't usually consider the source for what is on the dinner table when food comes from the grocery store. Eating the meat from a cow just like the ones I'd just been watching was a queer experience. I felt a mixture of reverence and discomfort eating that beef. It was top quality meat, but somehow that quality was hard to enjoy. Don't think I'm a total saint, though. There is compassion for living beings on one hand, and then there is the recent memory of stinking manure and the mess Shawn had to clean off the to-be-mother cows in order to artificially inseminate them. I have to say that the latter was more disturbing than the former in my case.

I also gave a second thought to the title of the Spielberg movie AI, which I'd previously only thought of as referring to artificial intelligence. Now I think the title is purposefully ambiguous. Does anyone else follow me there?

[Comments] (2) Just a Spoonful of Sugar: I have this awful habit of sticking papers in between books in our bookshelves when I am in a hurry to tidy up. This works great for getting rid of clutter, but it is a big problem when I need to find things later.

[Comments] (1) Where do my kids come up with this stuff??: I haven't been updating since returning from my long-long trip because first, I was so happy to be back I spent every moment basking in the feeling of home. Then we entered into the phase of re-setting expectations, which was awful, and who wants to hear me complain about my otherwise sweet children (but they are, after all, children). Then we entered into our third phase of being home: rehabilitation when Atticus' cast came off on Tuesday. **Remember that this is also finals week (which explains as lot in itself)! Ah, the struggles never cease!

The one I really should feel sorry for is Atticus, who has gone through so many abysmal sufferings in the past two months. But I've been feeling sorry for myself (I am, after all, human)!

On to the cute kiddie story: I served pancakes for supper tonight, leftover ones from the dinner I made yesterday (at least they were from scratch). Yes--that means we had pancakes for dinner two days in a row. I know I suck. I mumbled my apologies to the kids, and Atticus responded, with gusto, "Mommy, we are honoured to eat this supper tonight!!"

SO, just when I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide in shame over the day's outbursts, Atticus makes it all better by enthusiastically eating his leftover pancakes. The moral of the story is: kids have a special sense for those that really need some loves.

[Comments] (1) Post Script: I at fudge for dinner!

[Comments] (4) Chaos Theory in Daily Living: Sometimes I feel like my life is a Twilight Zone episode along the lines of the Fox and the Chicken and the Egg riddle. Have you heard it? It is the puzzler where one has to cross a river in a boat that carries only two passengers. The fox can't be left alone with the chicken or the eggs, or he will eat them. That means four passengers and only two can ride in the boat at a time. So, how is it done??

This is the riddle of my life. How do I get the groceries and two children into the apartment without losing one, two boys, or whatever groceries splat down the stairs because I am falling over myself, carrying too much?

How do I get from the atrium of the Aquatic Center to the car with the boys, an armful of swimming noodles, a life vest, and a duffle bag of wet towels and suits without a boy sprinting into the street (hopefully dodging the cars), dropping all of the precariously balanced stuff, or losing my composure in front of the spectators?

How do I take a pee at the park in those disgusting restrooms without some risk of indecent exposure as the boys come in and out of the toilet stall, or perhaps contract some awful disease because they are army-crawling all over the floors, running their hands along the toilet seat to get back to the flushing-lever (which they pull, repeatedly)?

Ah, the joys of parenthood. There really are nice moments, too. I'm sure of it.

[Comments] (2) To Market, to Market: We went to the Farmer's Market and bought a refill 12 pound jar of honey, a head of lettuce, a couple bunches of bok choy, emu hot dogs for our Memorial Day bar-b-que, and honey stick treats for the boys. We love our Saturday market. Dave and I go for the food, Atticus goes for the treats, and Samuel goes to meet all the doggies. I think the dogs like meeting him, too.

[Comments] (1) : Made a chocolate cake last night for a gathering of friends. I messed up on the ingredients and put 3/4 cups of both white sugar and brown, when the recipe called for only 2/3 cups of each. It turned out to be more like a torte than a cake, but it was chocolate. What can be wrong about that???

Really Lame: I've known this since the day I named my blog, but not until now am I fessing up. How awful to have so publicly misspelled "Seuss."

[Comments] (12) Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Movie: Dave and I aren't of the camp, necessarily, that doesn't watch any R rated movies. There are some that we make a point of seeing. But I am really bothered by nudity and sexuality on the screen. I'm a kind of romantic that doesn't like to imagine my bedroom activities happening anywhere else to anyone else. I feel a sort of revulsion even when I'm watching mouthy kissing in movies. It is partly a privacy thing, I'm sure. So, we thought we'd try the 30 day free trial subscription to "Clean Flicks," a company that edits out language, gratuitous violence, nudity and sexuality.

We've watched some really great movies that we have wanted to see for a long time. Here is my list of favorites so far: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Cold Mountain, Love Actually, and others that are not as worth remembering as the ones I've listed. I realized last night, as we were watching Eternal Sunshine, that some things weren't making total sense. Obviously, having been edited, there were some holes in the story. How ironic. I couldn't understand because someone had erased those moments from the memory of the DVD. So I started thinking. Most of these movies say really meaningful things about life and relationships. They are much more enlightening than most of the PG and PG-13 fare that are supposed to be "good movies," but are little more than mindless garbage. So I should bring those into my life?

Then there is this question: would fabulous movie makers like Wes Andersen, Michel Gondry, Richard Curtis, and Anthony Minghella who made my list of favorites be so happy about their movies being changed? I'm glad that the situations that make me uncomfortable are not playing in my living room, but is that really fair? After all, there is a little bit of sex in life, and I'm sure I see more nude bottoms running around my house in a day than I've ever seen in movies (I'm not saying nudity in movies is the same thing). But how much should art imitate life, and how much do I miss when I explore sexuality by myself, without suggestions from movie makers? Blah, blah, better stop before I start to ramble.

[Comments] (2) Rainy Day Picnic: Last night was the Annual Merc Member Picnic. Of course, it rained all day long up until an hour before the picnic was to begin. That means there were lots of puddles for boys to splash in. I look forward to this event every summer. The food is fabulous, and it is The Merc's gift to members, so it is also free. This is the occasion for announcing the board election results and reporting on the co-ops progress over the year. BTW, both individuals I voted for were elected. Yay!

I always look forward to mingling with other members. Merc lovers are pretty eccentric, and some of them are just plain iconoclastic. I am not of the latter camp, obviously, but I do feel like I stick out among my peer LDS crowd when it comes to food. Sometimes I don't mind being considered quirky, but other times it makes me uneasy.

Last week, at a Memorial Day picnic with a handful of church friends, we brought a Mediterranean-like lentil salad with feta, herbs, tomatoes, green peppers and olives, lemon juice, olive oil, yada yada. It was hardly touched by the crowd of 15 or so couples with some children. Granted, food at a potluck is always a different situation when one can't guess who-brung-it. But then we had our emu hotdogs, which caused quite a stir. I can say now that we've officially dispelled the common belief that the Matkins are vegetarians (because we love tofu--why else would anyone eat tofu, if not because of vegetarianism??). What a way to break the news.

Anywho, the fare last night was bar-b-qued free range chicken from Good Natured Family Farms (out of Bronson, KS), tofu from Central Soy Foods (out of Lawrence), honey wheat buns from Great Harvest Bread Co.(Lawrence), and the delicious salads were made from locally grown produce. The bar-b-que rub on the chicken and tofu was delish; I'll have to beg the deli for the recipe. Dessert was strawberry shortcake (which we found out was for the fast eaters, because it ran out pretty quickly), and a dense, moist chocolate cake.

When the Merc does food, they go all the way. Anyone want so sign up for next year??

So Far Away: Frances is feeling bad that she isn't at Melea's funeral today. I feel bad that I've had such a normal day, enjoying Dave, Atticus and Samuel, while faraway loved ones are suffering from devastating loss. Theirs is a tragedy.

[Comments] (1) Bushes and Trees are Twinkling: I was eighteen years old before I saw my first lightning bugs. Now I get to enjoy them every summer.

[Comments] (4) : Time is ticking away; Atticus' birthday party is tomorrow. So far, eight of his friends have RSVPed. I am very nervous about this event. Kid-os are hard to entertain, even if only for an hour and a half. We've reserved a pavilion at a park and planned a water balloon fight. We have a piñata with piratey prizes (Atticus requested a pirate themed party). The problem is that the weather is threatening rain. This would devastate a few of our plans, but not all. Gah!! I guess I'd better pull together an inclement weather party schedule.

[Comments] (1) Happy News Today: The boys have played marvelously all day!! I thought I'd better report that, since I only seem to talk about our nasty days in this blog. Thank goodness for a taste of harmony.

[Comments] (6) Dark Introspection: I'm stuck in string of fox-chicken-egg days. For instance, yesterday, I had a WIC appointment at the Health Department. While I was scheduling a follow-up visit, Atticus and Samuel ran out of the office. I excused myself, and went to search for them. They were not to be found in the waiting room, not in the atrium of the building, but outside, swimming in the fountain.

I wish I could laugh at this, but not today. I sometimes get into a rut of hoarding my frustrations and perceived indignations. I can't let it all go. I wish I were naturally equipt to deal effectively with my children. Maybe when I'm done I'll know what I'm doing. Maybe I'll at least be a calm and collected grandma.

[Comments] (7) Poisoned!!: I have the coolest spider bite on my arm. I noticed it about ten days ago (a Friday). The back of my arm started itching, so I looked at it in the mirror. It appeared to be a large mosquito bite. I put some non-itchy cream on it and forgot about it until the next morning. It was still itching, so I went to put more cream on it, and I noticed it had grown. In stead of a little bite mound, I had a hive the size of an apricot! At the top of the oval there were two tiny, perfectly circular puncture marks where the spider sank his fangs into my flesh. Even today, the area is still itchy, and looks like an old bruise.

So now what do I do? I've always felt that I could co-habitate peacefully with spiders. Poor Charlotte friends. I don't know that I can let them live so freely in my apartment anymore.

[Comments] (6) Grandmas Live in Kansas, too: This morning, as we were driving to a playmate's grandmother's house to swim, Atticus was surprised, "We're going to Becca's grandma's house??"

"You've got it," I replied, but I could tell Atticus was confused.

"In Kansas?" He queried.

"Yes, in Kansas," I said.

"Ah," he said, with great realization in his voice, "So, some grandmas live far, while other grandmas live close."

Good observation, kid-o.

When I told my mother Atticus had said this, she shot back, "No, some GRANDCHILDREN live far!"

'Tis true that we moved ourselves to this Kansas wilderness. But I thought we were close, compared to Provo, Utah! We all function on our own relativities.

[Comments] (3) Chocolate Connoisseur: Tonight, in celebration of Dave's birthday (though he is in Kansas City teaching a night class), we made chocolate chip banana pancakes. I almost always make pancakes one of the two nights Dave is teaching late during the week. The boys love Pancake Night. The chocolate chips were a special addition to the pancake batter (in honor of the Birthday Boy, of course). Side note: tonight I sprinkled the chocolate pieces on the batter as it cooked on the griddle, but next time, I'll try stirring them into the batter before cooking. Maybe they won't partially burn that way.

Anyway, Samuel was helping me with the cooking, so I asked his opinion on which chocolate chips we should use in our pancakes. I had a small bag of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate callets with 65% cocoa solids on hand, and a 12 oz. package of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, no cocoa content listed. He thoughtfully tasted a Ghiradelli chip, swallowed, and then tried a Callebaut chip with the same deliberate manner. And what do you think he chose? He liked the Callebaut!! I thought for sure he would prefer the sweeter, milder Ghiradelli chocolate pieces. Ghiradelli produces great chocolate. But he liked the dark, rich, bitter one. I guess he likes his Belgian chocolate better than his American. Little rebel.

[Comments] (1) The Chopping Block: I was slicing the last chunk of marble cheese in the fridge, and I didn't even know I was creating a geography lesson for snack time. The cheese is shaped like Minnesota! That reminded me of Leonard's Wyoming cookie cutter discussion.

[Comments] (2) Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City: Kansas City is the featured destination for Southwest Airlines, so air fare is pretty cheap (around $95 for a one way ticket), but only for today. Anyone up for a visit?

[Comments] (1) : Atticus and I are suffering from an awful head cold. Moaning on the floor, Atticus said it all when he cried, "Oh, my head feels as heavy as a bowling ball!" What more can I add?

[Comments] (3) : I've tried to raise my boys as nice, pacifist human beings. I've never bought them guns, not even water guns. I do try to be reasonable, though. I don't forbid them to play with their friends' toy guns, and they have received a handful of water guns that we use for water games outside. Even with all my efforts, Atticus and Samuel have found many alternatives for symbolic gun play, despite my attempts to avoid having toy guns in our home. They've used sticks, Duplos, vacuum accessories, and today, they were using train tracks. But there was a strangely reassuring moment as I watched them shoot at random objects in the room. When Samuel aimed his "gun" at me and made shooting noises, Atticus turned in alarm to face him. "Samuel," he said, "you've shot your own mother!!"

[Comments] (2) Counting Atticus: I keep a running tally of where the name Atticus pops up, and since it is a rarely used name, this task isn't too hard. People who know other Atticuses always tell me about their such-and-such friend who named their dog Atticus, or their kid who plays with an Atticus. So far, I know of a young boy Atticus that lives in Logan, Utah, another boy living in the San Francisco area, a dental patient that Dave's cousin cares for in Calgary, Alberta, and even an Atticus of about 9 years that lives somewhere in Lawrence. There is of course the Atticus clothing line made popular by the band Blink-182. I wouldn't be aware of this except that my siblings are pretty hip human beings, and they keep me informed. And last but not least, there is the bookstore Atticus Books that no longer has a shop location, but sells online.

Last night, as Dave and I watched the excellent Manchurian Candidate (critics said to skip the re-make and watch the old one, but the old one doesn't have Meryl Streep!!!), I learned of another Atticus, the sinister and unethical scientist Atticus Noyle. I wonder why they named that character Atticus.

[Comments] (1) : Oh, woe is me! Harry Potter is torturing me! I am like Tantalus! I have my book, but I cannot read because I'm up to my neck in mommy business! Woe, WOE!!

[Comments] (1) A Bit of Holiday: My brother, Dave, is flying in for a visit tonight. We're going to stay at a hotel in Kansas City for the next two nights (Dave W.'s idea and gift) so we can enjoy the upmost efficiency of fun while seeing the sights in the city. I think the water park Oceans of Fun is in the plan, as well as the American Jazz Museum with an evening at the Blue Room for some live Jazz for sure. Looking forward to it!! Maybe I'll even get in some more Half-Blood Prince reading. *only half way done*

[Comments] (3) Waking the Senses: I'm so devoid of wakefulness this morning. Too many late nights. Trying to pep myself up with local-dairy-chocolate-milk and oj.

[Comments] (9) Bumperstuck: My new favorite bumpersticker: "Oh well, I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway!"

[Comments] (2) Updates: Update: I finished reading Harry Potter 6 and loved it. Sometime soon, I'll post some of my theories on Snape, the character I am most fervently hopeful for.

Update: We've survived the summer, as well as leigons of family visitors that we enjoyed tremendously.

Update: We've also survived the first week of school for Dave. School for Atticus begins after Labor Day. That is when I do my happy dance (on behalf of Atticus as well as myself, I must add).

Update: I feel life returning to my mind and soul. If you want to hear more about my summer funk and blogging silence, you'll have to e-mail me or call me, and I might feel like talking about it. Ha!

[Comments] (1) Just Like Old Times: I had three friends over for lunch today. We were chatting away, and in comes Atticus wearing Batman underwear on his head, his eyes peeking out of the leg holes, wielding an extra pair that he shot across the kitchen table like a sling-shot (by the waist band). I felt like I had little brothers again.

[Comments] (5) Proud New Parents: No, not of additional human beings. Our PC was causing us major headaches by crashing randomly, so we bought an iBook. We are now Mac users. And it feels like I've entered another dimention. How does this thing work?!

[Comments] (6) Oh, hear that old piano, from down the avenue. . .: A long-standing hope is realized: yesterday Dave and I saw Garrison Keillor in the flesh. We thought we'd have to sojourn to St Paul to hear a broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion as part of our residence in the Midwest, but when Dave heard Keillor was coming to the Kansas State Fair back in May, he bought me tickets for Mother's Day (he also made me an NPR contributor, I might add). This show was such a wonderful pleasure! I was astonished to see all the unheard commotion that goes on behind what appears to be a seamless production over the radio. It was a special treat to be part of a Kansan audience; Keillor tapped into some of our social and political quirks and made great fun of them. Listen to the archive recording when it comes online and you might hear me chuckle, clap, or sing "Home on the Range" will all my Kansas neighbors.

Since we drove 3.5 hours to get to the State Fair in Hutchinson Kansas, we thought we'd better stay awhile after the show. We saw some animals and ate some Fair concessions. We ate the requisite something fried (battered cheese curds), something on a stick (a freshly battered corn dog--okay it was fried, too), and something dipped in butter (roasted corn with a dash of lemon pepper). We stood in a line for a deep fried Snickers, but decided enough was enough. We skipped the carnival rides for the sakes of our neighbors who watched the boys most of the day and were waiting up late for us to drive the 3.5 hours home. We had a wonderful time.

[Comments] (9) You catch your breath and winter starts again, and everyone else is spring bound: We drove the 18 hours straight each way to and from Utah last week to attend my grandfather's funeral. Driving, I cried listening to Dar Williams. This summer has been very difficult for me. I feel like I'm mourning my fractured family for the first time in my life, though I know it isn't the first time. It is just the first time I'm neck deep in parenthood and trying to sift through all the poor nurturing that went on when I was a child, trying to find any crumbs of good that I might want to use in caring for my small boys. I've been so angry at my father and mother. Somewhere in my mind my grandpa got lumped in with all that emotion, so I've disregarded him for the past five years. Sad to say, I didn't feel the loss of his death until after the funeral when I visited with family at Grandpa's apartment. I walked into his bedroom, smelled his scent mixed with Old Spice calogne, and realized I once was a little girl who adored her grandpa. But it is too late. Dead is dead. Live and learn, I guess.

Dave says I need to eat more ketchup :).

[Comments] (2) The Summer Ends: I love the Midwest. I love it for many reasons, but there is one special reason that comes to mind today. Each season is robust and true to it's character, the way an almanac says it should be. Today begins the change from summer to fall here in Lawrence. Rain is falling outside, and the day has been cool. Leaves are beginning to fall off the trees. I feel like snuggling up in a quilt and reading something by a Bronte sister, or by George Elliot. I've had a giant pot of black beans simmering all afternoon, and tonight I'm going to make a black bean and pumpkin stew. There was such a beautiful, organic pie pumpkin at the Merc on Monday, begging to leave in my cart. I've been waiting for a true fall day to enjoy the festive vegetable. Today is that day.

[Comments] (5) Breaking Curfew: Poor Dave. He has spent the last two nights in his office on campus working on statistical models and writing papers. Here I am, awake at 5:00 am on a Saturday morning with an empty space next to me in my bed. Poor, poor Dave. I've often joked about sending a sleeping bag and Thermarest for napping on desparate nights like these. Even a short sleep might really improve his efforts at this point.

[Comments] (1) Prognosis: Today was Atticus' six-month post-operation evaluation with our orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Anderson was absolutely pleased with Atticus' recovery following the heel cord transfer surgery he received in April. The best news of all is that Atticus has no need for his brace anymore! Atticus has been wearing an “ankle foot orthosis” for over three years. When he heard Dr. Andersen pronounce the happy news, he threw his arms around my neck and hollered a big "yipee!" I'm so glad his progress has been such that the AFO is no longer a necessary part of his daily life. It was a cumbersome thing, but very helpful and vital to getting Atticus where he is today.

[Comments] (5) Engrossed: I've just finished reading Jane Eyre today. All last week I was suffering on the couch with the worst cold, but enjoying immensely Charlotte Bronte's novel. Then Atticus became ill with the same fevered, achy sickness, and it was easy to continue reading. The book was spellbinding. I think that being sick and sleeping poorly contributed to this feeling. I like to think my sleepless condition paralleled Jane Eyre's, though on very different grounds. First, Atticus needed attention in the night because of his cold. He needed Ibuprofen, a cool washcloth on his forehead--even had delirious dreams (he was convinced Samuel had left the house and gone to the neighbors). Then, with that phase of night-wakings over, Samuel had a mishap with his soother that gave us opportunity to get rid of the thing altogether. So Samuel spent a restless night getting over the deprivation of his plastic comforter (this is a blog entry in itself--the process of weaning an almost three-year-old of a pacifier).

Anyway, now that the novel is over for me, I'm a little sad. I feel like I'm cut off from some friend that has become important to me. I feel as if I've spent a good deal of time with Jane Eyre, visiting on the living room couch and over lunch, talking late into the night about Mr. Rochester like friends do (Dave has been away for every evening for the last week and a half, at least). Now I have to find a new friend to keep me company.

[Comments] (5) Goodbye for a While: My friends, Dave leaves this morning for a Public Managment Research Association conference in LA. This conference has been the reason for his recent crunch; he's been gathering data, developing statistical research models, and writing a paper so he is a prepared little presenter at this very important conference. He has been working very hard. Anyway, our iBook will be going with him, so I won't have easy access to a computer until he gets back on Sunday evening. Here's to academic conferences, and I'll post again when I have the chance.

Happy Wha??: Oh, I forgot the turkey. Oh well. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving anyway.

I'm sorry I can't seem to keep all the balls up in the air (this blog being one of many). Life is trotting along. Dave returned safe and challenged by his conference in LA (sorry Frances and all Cali cousins that I didn't get anyone connected during this trip), and he returned last night from last week's conference in Little Rock. That means only two conferences left to go until American Thanksgiving. The iBook (also known as computer-who-has-not-been-named) has become Dave's trusty travel companion. The darn computer travels more than I do--I do have some excuse). Anyway, wanted to shout out that "we are here, we are here, we are here. . ." Though silent I may be.

[Comments] (4) By the way: After a summer of therapy and ruminating, I'm finally making peace with the cosmos and I no longer feel like the scum of the earth. Horray! I can finally see the silver lining again!

[Comments] (14) Freudian Slip: I absolutely despise shaving my legs, and for many reasons. Why should I bow to some arbitrary construct of "femininity" that costs me time and hassle? Every once-in-a-while I rally my confidence and decide to "quit" shaving. After all, I do live in a town with a strong hippie representation. But I never was one to feel comfortable thumbing my nose at society; I care too much about not sticking out. Nevertheless. . .

I'm in one of my "I'm not shaving" phases right now. I've got about six weeks of growth going on. Today I was with Atticus during physical therapy, sitting beside him (with Sasquatch ankles exposed), while Kyu, our P.T., worked on Atticus' leg. Atticus was describing the pumpkin he had selected from the pumpkin patch earlier in the day when Kyu asked, "Are you going to shave, uh, I mean carve your pumpkin tonight?" *Kyu blushes, avoids eye contact*

Maybe I will shave again after all.

Take heed all who enter, Beware the Phog . . .: We went to "Late Night in the Phog" last night, the first appearance our 2005-06 basketball teams. KU basketball mania is a phenomenon that must be witnessed, so we took the boys for a night of fun. The "Phog" is named after a legendary KU coach nicknamed "Phog" Allen who won a NCAA national championship. The "Phog" Allen Fieldhouse has a formidable reputation among KU's opposing basketball teams. KU fans are so expressive, and the noise reverberates so long in the arena that it really is distracting for opponents while building morale in Jayhawk players. The home advantage I guess.

I'm not a very good sports spectator. I get easily distracted by all the people-watching-moments in between myself and the court, so I don't keep my "eye on the ball" very successfully (must be why I'm a lousey ball athlete altogether). But there was plenty of entertainment last night. The band was great. And, as always, there are plenty of flippy girls and other performers to keep a person entertained in one way or another.

A week ago this day: I took the boys to see Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit and it was great!!! The boys were entertained, and I laughed a great deal! Very intelligent, cheeky, and funny! Go see it! *exclamation point*

[Comments] (3) Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou are more lovely and more temperate: My fondness for fall is growing every day. We had a spell of cool, soup-weather days in the early part of the month (I love soup weather), and this week has been so breezy, cool, and sunny that we can hardly stand to be inside. Today was so beautiful that I loaded the boys' bikes into the trunk of our Subaru and we drove to the nearby nature preserve to ride on the bike trails. I walked behind as the boys peddaled the three-quarters mile distance to Mary's Lake. Atticus and Samuel found some sticks, and they played on the dock for a while. Then we retraced our tracks and spent some time at the nature center looking at the animals, reptiles, and birds. What an ideal way to spend a fall afternoon.

[Comments] (3) Home Economics: The student loan came. . . The student loan went. I am amazed at how quickly we go through money when we aren't keeping track of all our expenditures. We always catch ourselves right before going over the edge into financial disaster, but geez! There are simple ways to stay ahead of the game, and keeping on top of the books is an easy way to keep the lean times at bay.

I must say that Dave works very hard (and always has) juggling several jobs while fulfilling full time graduate school obligations. Right now he is teaching an undergraduate class and acting as an assistant to the Ethics Administrator of Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kansas) and the Bureau of Public Utilities (also in KC, KS). What a dedicated worker!

[Comments] (2) Pecan Goodness: 'Tis so late, I can't do today's adventure justice tonight, but I must mention that we went to a pecan farm today to gather pecans!! My fingers are stained brown from shelling the nuts from the pods. I love these ten badges of a fabulous morning. This farm is the dreamiest thing I've seen in a long time. I want to grow up and be a farmer!

[Comments] (3) : Geez, I am so boring these days. Actually, I'm exhausted, and that's the reason I'm a worthless crummy contributor. And now I've got to fold the laundry before it becomes a heap o' fun when the boys wake up in the morning. I'll just list a few recent happenings. . .

Halloween: Atticus was a darling (but he thinks very threatening) spider and Samuel was a most exuberant, roaring lion. Anyone want any candy?

Last week we went to see Charlotte's Web performed by the Theater for Young America company in Kansas City.

Dave went to and returned from a conference in Detroit that went well. He leaves Wednesday for another conference in D.C.

I guess I don't have so much to list afterall. Oh well. We're busy and content.

Shirt Stains: Why does yogurt stain clothing? You say you didn't know that? Beware.

Mutt Run: Took the boys to the dog park to meet a friend and her doggie today. Atticus and Samuel were afraid of the dogs for about half an hour, then they warmed up and we ended up staying almost two hours. My friend, Emily has a boxer, Ruby, and I think Ruby was the most playful dog there. Atticus dubbed a pug puppy "bat dog." "Why do you call him 'bat dog,'" I asked. "Because his face looks like a bat's face," he replied, and by george, when I looked, his face looked all scrunched up like a bat's with big perky ears just like a bat!! Samuel named another dog "yogurt dog," but I wasn't ever able to figure that one out.

[Comments] (2) signing off for a while: Dave leaves for Washington, DC this afternoon. He is presenting a paper at the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management conference, and will be gone until late Sunday night. This is pretty exciting for our future job prospects, but will also mean a few lonely days for the boys and me. These are the kinds of times I especially dislike living so far from family. Friends are very helpful, but a person can more easliy impose upon relatives than on friends.

As always, the computer is going with Dave. Farewell until I'm back online.

[Comments] (4) My Worst Fears Confirmed: Samuel joined me in the shower this morning (I know he's getting a little old for this). He looked up and said, "Mommie, what are those flat things?"

So it is true!

[Comments] (2) Kidspeak: Says three-year-old Samuel, in his deep bravado voice, "I'm not scared of the dark. I scare the dark!"

[Comments] (1) Cha-ching!: The PA Department Holiday Party was this evening. The traditional activity for this annual event is a gift exchange. Dave and I picked a "Cooperate and No One Gets Hurt!" tote bag with a $15 gift certificate for The Merc. Atticus received a Jayhawk t-shirt, and Samuel got a little Jayhawk basketball hoop.

What a lucky day!

[Comments] (1) Hostage to the Stomach Flu: Do bouts of vomiting always occur in the middle of the night with kids? In my experience with stomach sickies, I've never seen kids puke during the day, only in the middle of the night. Hence the confusion and fumbling to get a barf bowl, and then laboring to strip off the bedding and remake the bed when the barf-bowl isn't fetched in time.

When Atticus woke up at around 11:30 on Monday night and cried with urgency for a drink of juice (I was just barely in a deep slumber), it took me a moment to realize what was really happening. I was franticallly searching for a sippie cup straw when it dawned on me: thirst isn't the problem, here. My kid is about to throw-up! By then, it was too late. A bath, two more vomiting sessions, several minutes of suffering on the toilet from the Screaming Mimis, a trip to the grocery store (for Gatorade and Saltines), a mound of gross laundry, and three hours later, Atticus was fast asleep on a little make-shift bed on my floor. Phew.

Let's hope we don't run another round with Samuel.

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