Glad to be Home: We are back to real life here in Kansas. Atticus has had mixed feelings about being here. He really enjoyed "Grandma's house" and didn't want to leave, then again didn't want to leave after an overnight stay at his friend Elijah's house. He wasn't really happy to be in Kansas until today when he remembered the University of Kansas Natural History Museum is in Kansas. Parts of our windows are icy (inside our apartment), and the weather is piercingly cold. It is a bit to get used again after warm days in the 70's and 80's in Texas. I am most glad to be sleeping in past 6:30 in the morning. Samuel and Atticus seemed to rise 10-15 minutes earlier than the morning before, and an accumulation of those minutes over two weeks time equals a morning wake-up time somewhere in the hour of 5 am. This morning the boys both slept in until 7:00--our normal wake-up hour. Yes, it is good to be home.

[Comments] (3) Book Club: Went to a book club meeting tonight, and I spotted knitting needles and a sweater-in-progress in a basket on the floor. I asked the hostess, Susan, if she had any #7 double points I could use to finish out my toque I've been working on for two years now (supposed to be a Christmas present for Dave in 2002). Ta da! I challange myself to finish before the frost lifts (for the season, that is).

[Comments] (6) Like his Aunt Amy: I bought a mix of olives at the grocery store so I could make a nice greek salad. Samuel found them in the refridgerator, brought them to me begging, and I gave him one expecting it to be spat out. Instead, he loved it and is currently inhaling them. He especially loves the green olives--just like his Aunt Amy. Word is that as a girl, she would watch cartoons after school with a Costco sized jar of green olives in her lap, eating them like popcorn.

Sourdough Success: Now that I have my sourdough starter from Aunt Frances, I am anxious to use it. Last night I made a black bean chili recipe from a Deborah Madison cookbook I checked out from the library. To accompany, I made Great Aunt LeJeune's sourdough cornbread. I felt like the little red hen in some way, but instead of no help with my work, Atticus' eagerly followed me around the kitchen volunteering out the wazoo. Unfortunately, the prep work on this meal was not the most child friendly. Instead, I put him to the task of making orange juice. He had fun with that.

The chili recipe was too fussy for everyday eating--steps like toasting cumin seeds in a skillet, adding additional herbs, and then grinding all of the seasonings using a mortar and pestle. But the outcome was delicious, especially the cornbread. I worried about that because the batter was about the consistency of a runny pancake batter. But it came out of the oven firm, moist, delicious, and ready to be gobbled up. In Atticus' words, "MMmmmm, Mama, this dinner is 'elicous!"

Tonight's venture is to bake bread with the new mixer Betty and Tom gave me for Christmas. Mmmmmm.

: Ahh--to have the power to heal all ills with a kiss. One of the great gifts of motherhood, I presume.

: Another day, another bedtime. I love the peaceful moments that come after the children are tucked asleep in their beds. I've taken two Ibuprofen, and I think I'll scratch the idea of baking bread tonight. Too drained. This is the second day Dave has been gone all day until after bedtime doing normal GRA work and then ethics training stuff in Kansas City for the county commission and some other local government group I can't recall at the moment. We thought that responsibility was going away after teaching ethics classes to civic personel last semester, but it turns out that the manager Dave was working with has been called to active duty in Iraq. Since the only other person involved is lecturing at Balliol College of Oxford University (Dave's advisor), guess who is next in line to pick up the duties. So, needless to say, this semester will be an interesting one with all that Dave has on his plate.

I'd like to be in Oxford right now.

[Comments] (1) : We were driving around town when Atticus said, "Look at this place--I LOVE this town." Then he chuckled and added in a whisper, "This is Kansas."

[Comments] (1) The Crowning Mark: Early in the day, Samuel was playing with the contents of a drawer he had emptied onto the floor. When he stood up, his forehead went right into the corner of the open drawer, and immediately blood was spurting in all directions. The results of this mishap were two hours in the Emergency Room, and two stitches across a deep laceration only a centimeter wide. This cut is a pittiful addition to an already bruised forehead; Samuel has been sporting three shiners from other encounters earlier in the week.

The upside of all this: Atticus was thrilled to watch the blood stains on my pillow cases foam and froth and lift as I dabbed them with hydrogen peroxide.

: We are working on a scholarship application for Atticus, so that he can be funded to attend the Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association retreat in Wisconsin this summer. The application is a one page information sheet, and all they ask for is a declaration that we cannot attend the retreat unless we receive funding to do so, and also a piece of artwork (done by Atticus) describing why he wants to attend the conference.

I am nervous about this because it seems so loose. Maybe CHASA has so much funding available that pretty much everyone that applies gets funded. That is what I hope, anyway.

So much for the stitches: Samuel woke up this morning with one stitch in his forehead; the other was buried in his blanket.

: We went to the U of K Natural History Museum today. Atticus was sad to see that the colony of bees had died. We spent most of our time enjoying the fossils as well as the interactive Rain Forest Discovery exhibit. After nap time we went to the park and enjoyed the 55 degree weather. Dave caught up with us for that. It was a great day, and except for a 2nd visit to the ER (Samuel's cut was oozing and seemed to be pulling apart), went off without a hitch.

Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?: Still thinking on the CHASA application. Dave says not to worry about it--we have nothing to lose, he says. But I can't help worrying about it because, on the other hand, we have everything to gain.

[Comments] (2) Another Triumph I Cannot Fail to Mention: Today at the park, Atticus finally succeeded in "pumping" his legs while on the swings. I was working and working with him into the fall to teach him how to synchronize his movements so that he could swing himself, but the timing was hard for him to get down. Today, once he was on the swings, he started pumping properly right away! This is an acomplishment not to be underestimated--the first major gross motor activity we've worked through on our own. We might be fine without those weekly physical therapy visits after all!! We'll see--our 6 month P.T./ O.T. evaluation needs to be done soon.

We also met a little girl today (5 years old) that shared her two-wheel bike (with training wheels) with Atticus. He was so pleased to be sitting on it and "riding" around. Though he is very capable of peddling his three-wheel bike, he had a time avoiding back peddling on the brake with his friend's bike. After she had gone away, Atticus kept checking over his shoulder to find her, and finally said, "Where did that girl with the beautiful bike go?"

: Danced to the Beatles with the boys, then rode "bikes" around apartment. Had fun with my kids.

[Comments] (6) : Secret weapon for teething babies: frozen blueberries.

: I love Fridays--there is hope in the weekend, plus today was payday (not that this means we have any more money now than we did yesterday, but the bills are paid!!!). I took the boys to story time at the library. This was our first time at the Lawrence Public Library, and I must say I am impressed. The librarian who does the three-year-old story time is a very engaging and enthusiastic woman. She had just the right sense of the crowd, too--moved on when the children grew restless and took advantage of moments of attention. Very animated. The theme today was diversity, and in particular it was a celebration of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. After stories, the children were invited to color pictures of Martin Luther King and decorate paper dolls--each cut out of different colored construction paper--and glue them hand in hand. Atticus really liked this project, and his artwork is hanging on the refrigerator. Samuel's paper people are torn up all over the living room floor.

We also took lunch up to Dave today. Samuel earned another goose egg on the side of his head falling from a seat he was standing on to reach the chalk board where he was coloring. Fortunately I was quick enough to deflect him away from the coffee table. I didn't mention that yesterday, we were playing outside. Samuel bent over to pick up a rock from the ground, toppled over, and planted face first on the concrete. That fall left a bump with abrasion from the initial impact of the fall, AND a good abrasion where he slid into a full face plant. When we went to get Samuel's remaining stitch removed at the ER, I was ready to be questioned by Social Services. Ah, these one-year-old babies live with bumps and bruises on their foreheads. We had a really fun day.

: Today was Atticus' first day of gymnastics. We enrolled him in the community rec. class, and it looks like a real winner of a class. The two teachers are willing good sports (there are 9 3-4 year-olds in the class), and two of the other children are friends of Atticus from Primary. What fun!

[Comments] (1) : Since I received my Oregon Trail sourdough starter, I have been experimenting with as many sourdough recipies as I have my paws on from my Great Uncle Carl. Today we feasted on sourdough pancakes. I doubled the recipe, hoping to have enough batter to use as a base for sourdough dinner rolls for tonight, but we used every last drop of it, and have nothing but pools of syrup and a half of a pancake left to show for our fine breakfast.

[Comments] (1) Reasoning: Atticus dragged a cardboard box out of the recycling bin. He tore it open, and spread a mess of cardboard pieces throughout the living room. When I moved to start cleaning it up, he protested,

"Mom--NOOooooo. That's my BED!"

I responded, "But Atticus, Papa is coming home. Do you want the first thing he sees to be this big mess?"

He disagreed. "No, Papa will say, 'Ah! What is this bed??' And then he will lie in it."

Concessions: "Do you like cookies?" I ask Atticus, as he eats very gingerly the first of a batch of cookies, dipping it in milk and nibbling.

"Yes. They're my favorite colors. Brown and black."

[Comments] (4) When the Circus Comes to Town: We were in the bulk foods area of the grocery store when Atticus informed me that he needed to use the bathroom (using his own terms, of course, "Mom, I need to pee!"). So I stop in my tracks, turn the cart around, and head to the bathrooms. Luckily I already know where they are. We get to the restroom, and I help Atticus onto a very tall toilet, like all toilets seem to be in public places. Then he says, "Mom, I really need my energy." "You mean your 'privacy?'" I confirm, then I step out of the stall until he gives me the ok that he is done. I open the door, and notice that he has missed his target, and instead of only going IN the toilet bowl, he has managed to soak his underwear. But his pants are dry. I am glad for this little bit of good fortune, and begin to take his shoes off so I can take off the undies and redress him commando style. Meanwhile, someone else comes into the bathroom, and Samuel continues to look around, but he isn't touching anything yet.

When I finally get Atticus' pants back on, I notice that Samuel is trying to peer under the door to the stall next to us where the stranger is seeking her own "privacy." I grab Samuel, and pull Atticus out of the cramped stall where I can more easily put his shoes back on. Samuel takes off into the stall and begins to go for the sanitary napkin container. I pull him away, and crouch in front of the door so he can't open it, Atticus sitting on my lap, and again I try to get those shoes back on. Samuel crawls under the door, I open it, grab him, and finish tying the shoe laces. OK. Atticus dressed, now we need to wash hands. I pick him up, begin to wash our hands, Samuel crawls under the door again, going for that nifty box on hanging by the toilet paper dispenser again. Yada yada yada. Somehow, we made it out of that bathroom with clean hands, and the appearance of being under control.

One-Year-Old Disgust: Samuel turns up his nose at oatmeal, now. I can't say for sure where he learned the concept of being picky, but I am guessing that his elder brother had some play in the matter. He will devour an orange, which Atticus visibly refuses to eat, so the battle is not all lost.

Guilt Complex: Coming into the apartment from the car, I startle Atticus.

"Woah, you scared me."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"That's okay. It was my fault."

[Comments] (2) What's for Dinner??: Hoping for some menu ideas for the upcoming week, I ask Atticus, "What do I make that you really like to eat for dinner?"

He gave this question careful consideration, and then answered, "Hmmmmm--cereal. I would really like to eat more cereal."

In case you're wondering, we eat cereal next-to-never for dinner.

Get Me to the Church On Time: I guess the meteorologists weren't lying when they predicted freezing rain today. I just looked outside and our car is sheathed in ice. Our trouble is that I left our ice/snow scraper in San Antonio when I was cleaning out the car for our trip home (they will surely have no use for it there). In Samuel's words, "Uh-oh."

: Everything is so beautiful outside. It looks as if the sky rained down molten glass which left every bare tree branch and every blade of grass encrusted in its own crystal. Atticus saw this as an opportunity to kick icicles off the cars in the church parking lot.

A Boy and His Stick: I don't think I've mentioned that Atticus is taking a tumbling class through Lawrence Parks and Recreation. He really loves it, but on his way home on Saturday, he was collecting large sticks that had fallen from the mature oak trees by the rec. center. This reminded me of one of our first wanderings around KU campus. Atticus, as is his custom, was then gathering sticks like he still does today. He found a particularly large one, and was waving it around wildly. We were near Blake Hall, where the Public Administration Department is located. Blake Hall is very near the on campus residence of the Chancellor. Well, it just so happened that the Chancellor came strolling by Atticus, who nearly clubbed him with his branch. It was quite embarrasing until I saw that he was amused.

Highlights of the Weekend: We had a great weekend. On Friday night, I checked out our local video store, Liberty Hall Video. They have an extensive collection of foreign films and art films. We had been awaiting the video release of Spellbound, so I went to see if it was in. It was! We enjoyed it. This is a fun documentary of 8 young teenagers who are seeking to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. I recommend it.

We also went swimming at the Aquatics Center here in Lawrence. The Center has water slides, a zero depth pool, fountains, and those floating lily pad things. It was a lot of fun. My real accomplishment was swimming laps for half an hour. I think I've found an exercise I can enjoy!

: The high today is supposed to be 8.1 degrees, and already my children are sick with cabin fever from past days of cold temperatures. We might strike out regardless of the cold.

[Comments] (1) Golden Moments: Both boys are asleep. I don't dare hardly to breathe. The peace is so wonderful.

[Comments] (5) (Is There Such A Thing As) A Memorable Mess: I was playing with Atticus in the boys' room, and left Samuel unattended for a little too long, until I heard slapping and smacking noises coming from the kitchen. What I found: Samuel on the kitchen linoleum with our little Pooh Bear jar of honey poured all over his shirt, arms, legs and hands, and of course, all over the floor. As soon as I came into the room, Samuel startled and hurriedly crawled to avert being caught. I took him straightway to the bathroom and peeled his honey-saturated shirt off of his head, leaving clumps of sticky hair standing on end. He clapped his hands and touched everything within reach while I started a bath and put him in.

Meanwhile, I forgot all about Atticus.

When I finally went into the kitchen with a wet rag for cleaning the honey mess, I found Atticus crouched on the floor. He popped up quickly when I entered the room, a glistening honey goatee on his face.

: Well, we did go to a friend's house to play yesterday, and we cured our cabin fever, but ended up with colds instead. Today we took things easy, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

: We are all barking like seals, or as Atticus prefers to say, we all have "froggies in our throats." He is begging to go to "that swimming pool where the life guards live." I am trying to explain to him that swimming is not a good idea for a person who is sick. But he has a protest to any argument, and today he says we need to go because his "froggies will all jump out into the swimming pool" and evidently he will be cured.

: Feeling better, but still not so well. Atticus seems to be the only well member of the family. We will stay home from church and sip hot lemon water to soothe the aridness in our chests.

[Comments] (1) First Bad Word: Atticus overheard me hollering out the window to our neighbor (the one with two boys) that she should come over if she is bored. Well, that was the beginning of my doom. He learned the word. Now he is 'bored.' I'll never hear the end of it.

A Few Good Movies: Dave and I watched Bend It Like Beckham this weekend. It was GREAT. Really clever, and more substantial than you would think. What I mean is that this movie is playful and thought provoking at the same time, and I really appreciated the candor of the filmmaker's look at stereotypes and prejudices. The film is almost like a loose adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Maybe Austen is on my mind because Juliet Stevenson (who plays Mrs. Elton in the film Emma) plays a great character in Bend It Like Beckham. I also went to see In America at Liberty Hall on a "Mom's Solo Afternoon Date." Equally great, though different, of course. About an Irish immigrant family (with young daughters) struggling to make a life in America.

: I've finally rejoined the ranks of the living. Being sick is the pits, but being sick and needed by ruthless toddlers at the same time is worse. So now I am trying to climb back on top of my life. I feel like I am putting a brush fire out with my measuring spoons. Better get back to the kitchen floor.

Snow Days: The winter clouds are dumping on us right now. In 24 hours, we've seen about 6 inches of snow, one class cancellation, and one Kansas City meeting cancellation. Last night we bought two of the last pairs of snow boots in Lawrence, and the boys are loving playing outside. We visited a friend this morning that had a nice field of untouched snow. Atticus was rolling in it, falling into tall banks, and trying to make snowballs, but the snow was too cold and powdery for that. Samuel enjoyed the experience as well, but since he can hardly walk in his snow boots indoors, I held him up as he blundered around. The hot cocoa and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies we ate after our play were heavenly.

[Comments] (5) Conversing with Atticus: "Mom, I'll be Sadie (the "family" dog). Who will you be?"

"I'll be Tiger (the family cat)." I say. A look close to terror crosses his face.

"Noooo! That would be too scary. You be Aunt Lorna, okay?"

The Bad Kind of Milestone: Samuel's crib has become the playhouse. Atticus and Matthew like to climb in and pretend to be dogs, etc. Samuel has observed what a cool place his bed is, and has endeavored join the big-boy play place. Today he pushed over his riding car, stood upon the seat, stepped onto the handlebar so he could reach the side of the crib, lean over, and fall in. I would prefer him to know how to climb IN rather than OUT of the crib, so there is consolation in this new skill.

: Getting out of bed is torture when the only warm surroundings are under the blankets. It is three degrees outside, and the cold really seeps in through our bedroom walls.

Cold Showers: Our water heater has gone out on us about ten, maybe twelve times over the weekend. This morning there is no warm water to spare. It is time to take action.

: Atticus: "Mom, you be a nice person. And I will be a nice person. Let's play nice person!"

: The plumber came and fixed our hot water heater. He also fixed the dripping fawcet in the bathroom. Sometimes I am glad to be renting, and I don't have to deal with bills for household repairs.

[Comments] (2) Sweet Chicken: We were missing our cousin Jeff tonight--Dave took a cooking class at the Merc on homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch, noodles, stock and all. We bought the chicken from a family farm just outside of Lawrence. I cooked the chicken and the stock during nap time, and Dave rolled out the noodles when he got home from work. The results were fantastic. But we had a giant pot of great soup, and noone to share it with.

Chicken noodle soup in this region is a unique dish, and we ate ours accordingly. A person is supposed to top the soup with a piping hot spoonful of mashed potatoes. Kind of like a chicken noodle a la mode. We give it a two thumbs up.

Great Sleeper: I've never seen a boy so pleased to see his pajamas as Samuel was tonight. When I pulled his sleeper out, he gushed and raised his legs, waiting to be dressed. He is always equally happy when we tuck him into his bed with soother and silkie in hand. One day we'll have to wean him of his pacifier. Not today!

Fingernail Snag: Atticus tore one of his fingernails tonight. You have to know Atticus; he detests having his nails cut. Dave patiently urged him to put out his finger so that we could trim the jagged edge off the one nail. He resisted, but finally gave in. When Dave opened his hand to cut the rest of his nails, he protested, "No, Papa! Only ONE per day!!"

Sweet Dreams: Atticus: "I had a nice dream, but it didn't have a grandpa in it. It should."

[Comments] (3) : "Some days are yellow, some are blue." That's what Dr. Seuss says. Today is definitely blue. How do I do this day after day after day?

[Comments] (2) : I just discovered that Atticus and Samuel, while dumping out the contents of my dresser drawers, also poured a small bottle of potent perfume all over the bedsheets and themselves.

: Today is going to be a great day, because my cousin Leonard is coming to visit me, AND he is bringing a cool friend, Brendan, whose blog I've been reading. Safe travels to you two.

What is in a name?: I have silly nicknames that I use interchangably for both Atticus and Samuel. These are "Gus" and "Boo." Gus I mostly use as a tack-on. Ex: Atticus-Gus, Samuel-Gus. I've tried to veer away from "Boo," especially in referring to Atticus, because I don't want to distract from the special allusion to Atticus Finch by using Boo (as in Radley) as well. But somehow that name is often stuck on the tip of my tongue.

Anyway, the point of this ramble is that Atticus is more and more confused by these nicknames, and the ways I use them. He is starting to ask me, for instance, when I say something like "bring me your cup, Gus," "Which Gus, Mama?" And then wait for clarification. I don't know why this is so funny to me, but it is.

: Today in the shower Atticus was using these little frog and turtle soaps that his friend made him for Valentine's Day. Atticus thinks they are pretty special. When Dave informed him that his shower time was up, he protested, "But Papa, I'm washing my favorite body!"

: Leonard and Brendan were privy to one of the unfortunate realities of life with little ones: night wakings. Thanks for being good sports, guys.

: On our way home from picking Atticus up from gymnastics, Leonard asked him what he did in class. He answered, "I played 'Motor Boat,' and I crawled around like a trilobite!"

: Atticus was distraught over Leonard and Brendan's leaving today. His sadness slowed him down enough for an afternoon nap, though. After he woke up, I asked him if he had a good sleep. He said "Yes, my body was saying 'Ahhh, this is so nice.'"

: Last night I was explaining to Sumana over the phone that my life is not boring. Today, as I was picking herbal tea pouches out of the VCR, I realized the meaning of my statement. When you are a parent, you never know when you are going to walk in on your children peeling all the labels off your canned goods. Yes--this did really happen to me last week. That kind of anticipation makes life anything but boring.

[Comments] (2) Dr. Visit: We had our first visit with our new Pediatrician yesterday. It was a good visit, with good reports. I really like Dr. Riordan. He didn't dumb things down like doctors sometimes do, and he seems very knowledgeable, but willing to defer to the experts when he doesn't know (Ex--I asked about botox losing efficacy). He's referred Atticus on to a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at Children's Mercy in Kansas City and provided referrals for PT and OT visits.

I think we've found a great doctor. The office is very pleasing as well, kid friendly with toys all around, and even an exam room with an electric train that circles the room.

We also went to the lab and had the boys’ blood taken for a lead test. Pretty traumatic. Atticus still has his bandage on. But we bought lollipops afterward, and Atticus is sure he is so brave.

[Comments] (2) : I went today to get a haircut. Two months have past since my last cut. The story of my hair is like the O. Henry story "The Gift of the Magi." But unlike the character Della, who cuts her hair when she is destitute, I grow mine out when I lack the funds to keep it short. I guess that means I'll be growing my hair out starting today. Good-bye wonderful feeling of having my hair off my neck and out of reach of little boy hair-pullers!

: The monkeys have taken over. Trying to secure the area and impose order upon chaos.

[Comments] (2) Favorite Things: Contents of Atticus' backpack (which he defends with ferocity): Two matchbox cars (with glow-in-the-dark features, from Grandma Matkin), a blue saucer, a top, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, empty Smarties box (Canadian choc. candies), two toucan birds, two giraffes, two lions and a lioness, a blue peacock, crocodile, 13 wooden alphabet blocks, favorite boy riding blue car, motorcycle, Nightwing action figure, rubber dinos (2 T-Rexes, 3 Brachiosauruses, 1 Dimorphodon), two plastic butterflies, a centipede, a scorpion, a millipede, a preying mantis, Spiderman action figure, a blue peg and green washer (these belong to his tool bench from loved one Jen Taylor), a suction cup, 4 pennies, a nickle, an ant, 4 turtles (gifts from Frances), and a small Cabbage Patch Kid figure (wearing a blue dress) that is a remnant of my own childhood.

[Comments] (3) : Dave is in Wichita, Kansas attending his first academic conference. I drove him out Friday morning (2.5 hours), and after I dropped Dave off, I took the boys to the Exploration Place, which is in downtown Wichita the Arkansas River. Some favorite attractions were: the Dr. Seuss exhibit, Atticus dressing up as a leopard and growling at other children, digging faux fossils out of chalky plaster while Samuel ate dirt, the live scorpion and live prarie dog exhibits (separate exhibits, of course), and the microscopes with slides of bacterias and such.

[Comments] (1) Updated Photos on Matkin Homepage: Hey, Dave and I updated the family photo's on www.matkin.com/dave.

[Comments] (1) : Okay. I'm back. I've been on a self-imposed restriction from the internet because I was growing more and more consumed by the computer, and my little muffins were feeling the brunt. I know this because they were hanging at my legs begging me away from the keyboard. But now balance is restored, and I can break away a bit here and there.

Three weeks ago, I started swimming laps in the evenings. I really enjoy this activity, and I feel like I am making a lot of progress quickly. This is only because I've never swum more than 20 yards in a stretch before now. With the help of his own swimming experience and a great book with drills and discussion of technique, Dave is coaching me a bit. The swimming is a great change of pace for my day, and my every-once-in-a-while nights with insomnia are over.

Ah, the Wonders of Young Life: Atticus peers into a cup of crackers and cheese I have prepared for him to snack on. "Marble cheese," he declares, "I am SO LUCKY to have MARBLE CHEESE!"

Miracle Grow: I am sure that Samuel grew three inches in the night.

: Dave was in Kansas City all day teaching an ethics courseon Friday, but we the weather was so nice, we still rode the bus up to campus. We went to the Natural History Museum, and I'm afraid the boys are becoming disinterested in the exhibits. We've been so many times. Well, winter will eventually end, and our visits to the museum will subside for a while. Then in a few months, the museum will regain its intrigue.

[Comments] (1) : Atticus had several nightmares last night, waking up twice and remaining awake at 6:15 this morning. Said he, "I had a letter "A" dream. It was scary."

[Comments] (4) A Rant of my Own: It's funny, life with young children. My apartment might be spotless, pristine, perfectly ordered before I go to bed. But by twelve o'clock noon the next day, you would never know it had ever been anything but a pig sty. Is there anything I can do about it? Not really, unless I want to a dreaded figure in the lives of my children.

The other issue that plagues me (or eludes me, depending on your take) is sleep. Dave shares this deficiency with me as well. Take last night, for example. I managed every activity so that we might have a decent bed time. Both of us were weary from a string of bad nights. The boys were in bed by 8:00, things were tidied up by 10:00, and I was under my covers by 10:30, waiting for slumber to overtake me. At about six after 11:00, Samuel began wailing, and come to find out, he had a foul diaper that needed changing. Dave changed the diaper, I rocked him back to sleep, and we were both back in bed by about 11:20. You're thinking this isn't all that bad, and an 11:20 bed time ISN'T so bad, unless you consider that we were already sleep deprived. Samuel woke up at 5:15 am, and wouldn't go back to sleep. We ignored him as well as we could, but an hour later, Atticus was in our room, demanding that we get up. One cannot ignore Atticus' morning demands.

These children of ours are relentless early morning creatures. We are lucky if they stay asleep until 7:00 am. It doesn't matter if they go to bed at 6:30, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00pm. They ALWAYS are awake by 7:00. Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and sick days are ALL included. In fact, the later they go to bed, the earlier they seem to arise.

I am growing accustomed to the dark half-moons beneath my eyes.

Story Time: I've always been pleased with the story time hour they do for three-year-olds at our Lawrence Public Library. Today, we met a new friend, a guest who read the story of Rainbow Fish in Korean. I wish I could remember her name, but she is here temporarily while she earns a Master's degree in English as a Second Language. She is from South Korea. She was wearing a traditional cold-weather dress and robe in vibrant yellow, hot pink, and red. Atticus leaned over to me during her reading and asked, "Mom, why is she saying those beautiful words?" We even learned a few words in Korean, like thank you, and octopus.

The library always provides a really fun craft after story time. Today we received a small baggie of cards with pictures of a few characters from the book along with scales cut from shimmery paper to be glued onto the cards. Each of the characters is labeled with Korean characters as well as the English letters describing the sound of the Korean word.

[Comments] (6) A is for Atticus: Atticus can now recognize the letter "A". He is quite excited when, driving down the street, he notices the letter "A" in an advertisement, or on a street sign. He announces every time he notices an "A," "Hey, there's an 'A' for Atticus!!" For Dave and me, this new awareness of letters is thrilling. Now I am kind of grasping for ideas to make letters more interesting. Any ideas out there??

The other new development in our household is "why questions." Atticus extends all of our conversations to their limits by asking why. For example, tonight I told Atticus it was time to brush his teeth.

"Why," he asked.

"So that your teeth are clean."


"So that they are healthy and don't fall out of your mouth."


Etc., etc., etc.

Today, while loading up the car, I noticed Atticus was putting twigs and sticks into the muffler. That "why, Mom" conversation went on and on, too.

Jane Austen Got Me Through This Day . . .: Poor little Atticus is so sick he laid listless on the floor all day, moooaaning. He had a temperature over 102 (only slightly over), and he complained that his whole body hurt. Samuel is also in anguish over two molars that are erupting. I joined Atticus on the floor for a lot of the day (he needed lots of cuddles), and read Pride and Prejudice.

[Comments] (2) : I suffered last night from a disconcerting dream in which Atticus was poisoned by a snake. We were, as I dreamed, in the reptile house of some zoo when Atticus removed a small red snake from it's glass cage when I was not looking. When I noticed the snake in his hands and tried to safely take it away, he shoved it into his mouth, bit off and swallowed a large portion. This ingestion is what poisoned him.

It is silly of me to even remark on this dream. What is it about dreams that seems so poignant in the night? On the other hand, Atticus is well today, and Samuel is not gnawing his hand off as much as he was yesterday. I should check his molars to see if they've cut through.

A Mess Worth Mentioning: Today, while Atticus and I were uneventfully eating our lunch (Samuel had previously eaten), I noticed the eerie silence--the kind a parent intuitively knows means trouble--coming from the boy's room where Samuel was playing. I went right in to check on him, and things were just as I'd suspected. Samuel was very contentedly sitting on the end of Atticus' bed with a 42 ounce canister of oats. He happily continued dipping his small hand in for a scoop and scattering the oats on the bed and on the floor. When Atticus discovered this activity, he jumped in on it and expanded the mess to include the hallway, my bedroom, and my bed.

Oats, evidently, are difficult to vacumn--they break apart when they enter the mouth of the vacumn, and though most of the fragments end up staying IN the machine, a good amount is transformed into a coarse dust that is even more difficult to remove from the carpet.

In an effort to keep my humor and temper my frustration with the mess,(and as my dear mother-in-law, Betty, once told me she's done in the past on such occasions) I pulled out the camera and took a picture.

: It seems to me that the zoo would be a better equiped place for my children to live, and a zoo keeper would be a better supervisor than myself.

[Comments] (3) : I was tucking Samuel in his bed for nap time when I noticed a green stringy mess all over his blankets. I knew that his nose was a little runny from all of his teething, but I had no idea it was THAT bad. But then I saw underneath all the covers a ziploc bag of leftover guacamole that one of the boys had fetched from the fridge and squirted all over Samuel's crib. Well, I'd rather have a guacamole mess than a snott mess on my hands.

[Comments] (1) : Tonight was our Enrichment Night talent show and dinner in celebration of the birthday of the Relief Society. For the show, I memorized "Jabberwocky," by Lewis Carroll. It was fun to recite, but I was surprised how nervous I was during the presentation.

My Boys are Growing: Atticus is now recognizing the lower-case letter a, which is fun. And Samuel figured out how to reciprocate a hug. He started patting my back in response to my squeeze. Both new skills were heart-warming to witness.

[Comments] (1) Freshly Shorn: We buzzed both boys today. Now, one can't help rubbing their little heads as they toddle around.

[Comments] (2) : Dave has been slaving away studying for an advanced statistics exam that is being given in two parts. The first part took place Monday, and tomorrow he will complete the final half in class. In order to give him a break and let the boys see their beloved Papa, I picked Dave up from school around 4:00 and we went swimming.

Samuel was doing a great job manuvering around in his life jacket, and with a little help, he was flipping onto his belly, putting his mouth in the water and motor-boating. It was a great day at the pool.

On the way home, Atticus had an emergency need to go to the bathroom. We were on the very edge of town with pretty much fields to the west of us, so we pulled over and Atticus had his first experience peeing in the grass. You can only guess how much this new awareness thrills him. When he got back into the car, he informed me, "The grass is a really good place to pee." And then added in afterthought, "When there's not a potty."

St. Pat's Day: Atticus, Samuel and I went to a little "green day" party at our friend Julia's house where we decorated shamrock cookies and threw yellow bean bags into a "pot of gold." Then we went to the St. Patrick's Day parade which was great. Parades seem to be one of those events where the idea of it isn't really all that fun, but somehow, once you get there, sitting on the side of the road watching floats, horses, fire trucks and such drive by is enjoyable.

[Comments] (4) : I made lentil soup for lunch, and sneaky little Atticus went to our neighbors and asked to eat with them.

Busy Weekend: On Friday we walked to the nearest park, Samuel riding in the Kelty on my back, and Atticus walking. It was a great, warm day, and the boys really played hard. In fact, they both took naps in the afternoon, which meant more Pride and Prejudice reading time for me.

On Saturday morning, all four of us took off for Omaha, Nebraska to visit the Children's Museum and the Winter Quarters Temple. It was a rewarding trip, but the 7 hours worth of driving alone made for a long day, not to mention everything else we did while in Omaha/ Winter Quarters. Those boys LOVE the Omaha Children's Museum, and I wish so much that we'd remembered to pack the camera. Oh, well--next time!

[Comments] (1) Get me out of here!!: We all suffering from acute cabin fever. Yes, this is the week of KU's spring break, but that has meant Dave leaving by 7:00 am everyday to drive to Kansas City to teach ethics classes to various government employees until 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening. Most of our friends are home with their daddies/ husbands, so we haven't played much. The weather has been gloomy and rainy most of the week, and without a car, we have spent almost every day inside trying to make the best of our time. I will be very glad when spring break is over.

[Comments] (1) : Atticus was invited to give the opening prayer for Primary today. He was so excited to do such a big boy thing. He sat on the chair with the "prayer" seat cover so reverently before Primary began, and was so pleased with himself as he stepped up to the microphone to pray. He is surely the sweetest little Sunbeam I know.

[Comments] (1) Adventure Lurking Everywhere: This morning I was dicing a jalepeno pepper to go into a crock pot of chili and I got a splatter of jalepeno juice in my eyeball. Dave promptly called the poison control center, and they advised that I keep flushing my eye out with saline solution to soothe it and minimize the chemical burning. So, for future reference, if you ever get peppers in your eye, just rinse it with saline solution (apparently tap water has chlorine and all sorts of other chemicals that would further irritate the eye).

A Celebrity On Campus: Dave said he saw James Carville running across campus today. I asked him, jokingly, if he was wearing jogging shorts. He was.

ASL Attitude: Samuel is doing really well with his sign language. He seems to have undergone a language explosion; he is learning one or two signs a day, and mostly needs to see a sign demonstrated only once in order to remember it. He discovered a new use of his signing one day when he signed "baby" and pointed to Atticus. Atticus was incensed that his baby brother would taunt him in such a way, and Samuel, in return, was amused at the powers of communication. Teasing in our little family is no longer a one way action.

[Comments] (1) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On . . .: Today is going to be a georgeous--the first day this year to get into the 70's. We will go to the park for sure. Another really great omen is that my kids slept in until 7:45. Let me tell you, that is a rare and glorious event, anytime Atticus and Samuel sleep in later than 7:00 am. Granted, a lot of this is due to the Daylight Savings change, but hey, I'll take extra sleep any morning, even if it is mostly in my mind.

Dare Devil: Atticus was a brave boy today at the Aquatic Center. He was jumping feet first in the two foot deep pool, letting his whole head go under before popping out of the water. At home, he lined up two chairs and jumped from the first over the one beside it to the floor, all the while chanting, "Dare Devil, Dare Devil."

I'm sure our down-stairs neighbors love us.

[Comments] (4) A Whirl of a Week: This week went by so fast, and somehow it was so busy I've hardly had time to just sit idle. I'll try and review all the fun we've had. Monday was a swimming night. I picked Dave up from campus around 5:00 and we took off for the aquatics center with a bag full of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Somehow those always hit the spot with our hungry boys after a few hours of swimming.

Tuesday was book club night, and the book of the month was Pride and Prejudice, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We enjoyed a guest lecture by Valerie Hodges, the head cataloger at the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library who is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. It was our best meeting yet, and all of us enjoyed discussing the novel so much that we didn't notice the time passing, and our meeting lasted until 10:00.

Wednesday I spent trying to finalize my plans for the presentation I was to give at Thurday nights' Relief Society Enrichment activity. Those preparations were not complete, though, and I also spent most of Thursday afternoon finalizing my presentation notes and my handout. This presentation I gave with a friend, Alyson Von Feldt, on gardening and cooking with herbs. Alyson taught the cooking aspect of the class in the kitchen, preparing wonderfully fresh salsa, a Southwest salad with lots of cilantro and basil, pesto, tortellini with a sage cream sauce, cream biscuits with dill, two different herbed cream cheeses, and a lemon verbena pound cake with fresh strawberries. All of the food was heavenly, and the cooking-class style of teaching was fun and different.

I talked about gardening herbs, and considering I am a gardening dummy, this went pretty well. I had seeds for a few types of herbs and a seed starting mix of soil for the ladies to begin their own plants. It was a fun activity.

That's my week in review, including all highlights except our trip to the ER, but that's another story. . .

Visitation of the Easter Bunny: The Easter Bunny made a visit to our residence last night. He left two baskets of goodies: each with a chocolate bunny, a matchbox race car, a classic Cadbury filled egg, a toothbrush, and a package of stickers. Samuel's basket had Elmo stickers, and Atticus' had superhero stickers. Dave and Atticus are now drawing a city so that the superhero's have a place to fight evil (Atticus insisted that the city must be dark). The Easter eggs that were hidden in our front room contained yummy treats: jelly bellies, trail mix, yogurt covered raisins, and yogurt pretzels. Atticus found all of the hidden eggs while Samuel enjoyed his chocolate bunny in his high chair.

: Hey--our pics are updated. Check it out at www.matkin.com/dave.

[Comments] (4) : There is good evidence that Samuel is turning out to be left handed. He eats and draws with his left hand. This is very ironic considering how rare lefties are in addition to Atticus' uncommon struggle with his left hand. Life continues to be interesting.

[Comments] (3) Blunders of a Beginning Swimmer: There was one other swimmer doing laps tonight at the natatorium when I arrived. I took the lane beside him--there are only three lanes, and he was in the middle. As I eased myself into the water, I noticed that at the end of every lap, when he reached the wall of the pool, he would dramatically flip under water and push off to continue his strokes without the slightest pause. Very impressive.

I thought this would be a nice transition to learn, so I observed his form for a few minutes, and then struck out to give it a try.

I swam a few warm up laps, and then, reaching the side of the pool, I thrust my front toward the bottom of the pool, trying to turn. My hind quarters floated to the surface, and I inhaled water. Choking and hacking, I heaved my head out of the pool and struggled to clear my sinuses. At the opposite end of the pool, the life guard stood and walked the office behind her to get the floater thingy that most life guards keep on their laps while on duty.

This was a pretty embarrassing ordeal. I will not be trying this stunt again without an expert to advise me.

[Comments] (2) Kite Issues: I never had a kite when I was a kid. This has left a deep emotional void in my adult psyche. I think my mother was so busy that she didn't realize what a depravation not having a kite is for a child.

Today was so beautiful, sunny and windy, that I went straightway to the Children't Toy Store downtown and bought two kites. One is a small kite made of "rip stop nylon" for Atticus, the other is a stunt kite with interactive CD-Rom that supposedly teaches a person how to perform kite stunts.

We went kite-flying as a family this evening. This was such a pleasure. Magical. The stunt kite is untouched in its packaging. Today was for Atticus. Tomorrow I will have my turn. . .

[Comments] (2) School Days: I started a little preschool with two moms that have kids Atticus' age. We take turns organizing activities for our three-year-olds and hosting a class on Wednesday mornings for two hours. Today was my first day. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!! Samuel went to play with one of the moms (who lives next door), so it was just me with Atticus, Matthew and Julia.

I made a large tree out of that butcher paper like stuff, and tacked on little blossoms with songs on the back. The kids loved that. Then we talked about Kansas--the state bird (western meadowlark), tree (cottonwood), flower (sunflower) and such. I gave each child a coloring page of the United States with Kansas colored in so they could see our state placed in relation to the others. Then we talked about the letter "I," listed a few words that start with "I," and traced a capitalized "I" and lower-case "i" cut out of sandpaper (thanks for the idea, Frances).

Our number for the day was "1," so we talked about counting only one thing, and then I pulled out the potato stamps I'd carved out of "I," "i," and "1." The kids stamped their letter and number, and then looked really interested in painting, so we dug out the paint brushes and painted, talking about mixing primary colors to get secondary colors, etc. Our last activity was making a yummy bird food concoction. I had each ingredient in a separate bowl, so the kids counted "1" bowl of p-nut butter, "1" bowl of bird seed, "1" bowl of cornmeal . . .

This class was so fun. The kids were so interested in learning that I felt totally rewarded.

[Comments] (2) Mourning Doves: Our bird treat has attracted all sorts of birds to our backyard, mostly robins, of course, cardinals, and different varieties of finch. We are really hoping for a visit from a blue jay. I must get a bird guide so that we can identify the birds that live in this area. Atticus and Samuel really love to stand at our back window and watch the wildlife.

There is a pair of mourning doves that must have decided our yard is a friendly habitat, because they are building a nest on my bedroom window sill. I heard dove purring before I got out of bed this morning, and low and behold, we have new neighbors.

Its a bird, its a plane . . . :

Dave asked Atticus, "Do you hear those birds chirping?"

"They're not, Papa, they're landing safely on their feet." (Atticus thought Dave had said 'tripping').

: Dave popped popcorn out of a pot today. It's really good! I guess you could say Dave pot popped popcorn. Mmmmm.

: Someone smashed the rear-quarter window on our Subaru wagon last night. The glass stayed together until we went to go clean it up. That is when it broke apart into a million pieces. The worst of it is that the weather is ominous and raining continuously. Ah, well. I certainly have very little to complain about except for the mess we had to clean up. The vandal(s) didn't try to force entry at least.

[Comments] (1) : When Samuel woke up at 4:30 this morning, I decided that today was going to be a bad day. Now I've spent all morning trying to change my mind on the matter. Atticus even said to me, "Mom, it is hard to be nice on a Monday." But now my luck is finally turning. Bring on the rest of the day.

[Comments] (2) : Okay, I never pulled out of my slump today. I even overheard Atticus tattling on me while talking to Dave on the phone: "Mama is being kind-of grumpy," he said. Well, I had What-About-Me? perched on my shoulder all day long, and I find it extremely hard to keep a smile on my face when I can't get over myslef.

[Comments] (3) : For his exercise routine, Dave has been swimming a mile every afternoon. I decided to actually count my laps instead of journeying to La-La land while in the water. Yesterday I swam 3/4 of a mile. In the past I've simply swum 30 minutes and that was the end of it. The 3/4 of a mile took just over 36 minutes, and it was invigorating.

: We went to the Young Women/ Young Men's silent auction, and now we are listening to old Bob Edwards NPR clips. Dave and I will miss hearing him daily on Morning Edition.

[Comments] (1) I am pleasantly surprised . . . : This weekend I received a very beautiful cookbook (and autographed by the author, too) in the mail from my cousin Leonard. Thank you Leonard!!! Today I will go to the Merc to get ingredients for our feasting.

[Comments] (1) : Happy Birthday Jennifer Lynn!!

[Comments] (1) Strange Dreams: Atticus was giggling and telling me about the dream he had last night. This imaginary tale included his conquering of monsters and strange images of his father: "Papa looked like an acorn in my dream," he said.

[Comments] (3) Macaroni and Cheese: I've figured out that if I hide a little bit of broccoli in Atticus' mac & cheese, he'll eat it without a fuss. Samuel, on the other hand, will only eat macaroni and cheese when I've hidden it in broccoli. They are a strange pair.

[Comments] (7) Fortunately, Unfortunately . . .: I attended an Enrichment Night which featured children's literature last summer. The presenter, a children's literacy specialist, read this great book that followed the formula of something good happening followed by something bad. Every sentence began with "fortunately" or "unfortunately." I can't really remember the exact events of the story, but the format was charming. I really hope I find the book someday, but for today, I have my own story to tell using the "fortunately, unfortunately" convention, so here it is. . .

Fortunately, I have an especially acute sense of smell. Unfortunately, yesterday I felt haunted by some foul odor coming from some area of the kitchen. Fortunately, this motivated normal to extra deep cleaning on my part: doing all the dishes, cleaning out the fridge, throwing out old food, taking out the garbage, moving the fridge and mopping the floor underneath, taking recyclables out to the car for a trip to the recycling center, etc. Unfortunately, this business kept me up until midnight. Fortunately, I got rid of the smell. Unfortunately, in the morning, Samuel was simultaneously feeling thirsty and independent, and he decided to take the lid-less pitcher containing two quarts of apple juice out of the fridge by himself. Unfortunately, a great mushroom cloud of the sticky liquid came crashing down and the juice went *everywhere* inside of the fridge--and outside a little bit, too. But fortunately, I laughed and didn't cry. In situations such as these, little else besides humor can keep a person together.

An Little Love from Atticus: This morning, as our neighbor was leaving to drop her three-year-old daughter at the baby-sitters for the day, I asked Atticus if he would like going to a baby-sitters house like Ana, or if he wanted to stay with me. Throwing his arms around my neck, he very gushingly replied, "I want to stay home with my mama!" And then with a grin, "And have Matthew to come over."

[Comments] (1) An Update on our Mourning Doves: Our mourning doves abandoned their nest building and must have relocated because of their noisy neighbors, the starlings, who decided to build their nest in our dryer hose. I don't know how those birds managed to open the flap outside and wiggle their way into the hose, but when I took the tube outside to empty out all the twigs, it was half full of stuff woven together. What crazy birds. I miss hearing their pretty warbling ourside our window, but I am glad I have use of my dryer hose again.

Just for the Record: As a result of Atticus' tutelage, Samuel is singing his first complete song. We're still working on his enunciation, but the song goes like this: "Da na, na na, na na, na na, da na, na na, na na, na na, BATMAN! BATMAN! . . ."

Random Thoughts: Atticus announced this morning, "Hey, Mom--I'm forty-three!"

"You are?" I ask.

"Yeah. That means I'm BIG!"

[Comments] (4) It takes a villiage . . .: Our neighbors had their baby girl Tuesday morning around 6:00 am. Rachel called at 1:30 in the morning when her water broke, so I grabbed my pillow and a blanket and spent the rest of the night on the couch in their apartment. First thing every morning Atticus begs me to have Matthew over to play, so he was surprised when I brought Matthew and Caleb over at 8:30. I know I'm not the one who had the baby, but I don't think I've had five minutes to relax since I got that phone call in the middle of the night. I've had the Rowley kids a lot so that R.J., their dad, could spend as much time as possible with Rachel. I'm glad I can be some part of this magical adventure of the birth of a new baby.

[Comments] (2) Atticus Quotes: "I miss Uncle Leonard. Sometimes Uncle Leonard comes to visit, and gets something to eat at the Merc."

: Few things are cuter than Samuel trying to reciprocate a wink.

[Comments] (4) Food for Thought: One of my favorite cookbook authors, Mark Bittman, writes this article about the growing appeal of vegetarian cuisine in the States. Many of his thoughts on the subject resonate well with mine.

[Comments] (1) : We've survived our first tornado warning! Last night, there was a terrible thunderstorm with ear-splitting thunder and lightning. The sky was a grayish-green color, and the wind was whipping branches off the trees. Luckily, the weather didn't escalate into a tornado here in Lawrence. There were funnel clouds spotted in other counties, but no full tornadoes! Phew.

[Comments] (3) Thank You, Thank You Sam I Am: Atticus has been leery of strawberries this season. When I fed him an early berry, it was a not-really-ripe sorry-excuse-for-a-strawberry sort of fruit. A few days ago I finally coaxed him into trying a nicely ripened, sweet berry and he said, "Mmmmm. I would eat this on a boat, and I would eat this with a goat, and in the rain, and in the dark, and on a train!!"

[Comments] (7) : Dave dreamed that Gary Crowton died (football coach at BYU), and the school hired me to replace him. Knowing my total ignorance of football, Dave bought a Nintendo, a stack of football games, and began training me for my new job.

[Comments] (2) Shhhh, Don't Tell Yet: I just got back from buying Atticus' birthday present. He'll wake up to a big surprise, let me tell you!

[Comments] (1) : The fireflies are out and they are beautiful.

[Comments] (1) : I was admittedly swerving and weaving in traffic to get to a store before closing when Atticus exclaimed in alarm, "Mama--you're tricking the cars!!"

[Comments] (4) : Our neighbors brought us a few pieces of "applesauce cake," and Atticus couldn't stop admiring the sweets. "It's like Christmas . . . it smells like Christmas . . . it tastes like Christmas!!!" Truly, the dessert reminded me of the holidays, too, but I didn't put my finger on why until I recalled (while smelling and nibbling the treat myself) that Amy, my sister-in-law, had homemade applesauce-cinnamon ornaments hanging on her tree this past holiday season. Aha! These were the "cookies" that continually lured Atticus, Grant, and Joseph to admire the tree (to the demise of a few of the decorations).

It pleases me that regardless of the miles and months that have separated us from much of our family since our move to Kansas, Atticus' memories and nostalgia are still connected to past experiences with loved ones.

[Comments] (1) Tall Tales: Atticus, as of late, has invented some pretty interesting stories that he stands by with unfailing confidence. He will occasionally share these with friends and strangers. Sometimes this is quite embarrassing, as you'll understand when you read them.

#1 Atticus is absolutely convinced that he was born in Chicago. I don't know how or why he designed this idea, but he is sure it is true.

#2 Since the birth of Laurelin, Matthew's baby sister (Matthew is Atticus' good playmate next door), Atticus will randomly tell people that I have two baby sisters growing in my tummy.

Note: this is NOT an announcement.

#3 The last, which he has been spouting off for a few weeks now, and which comes up more and more since our drive to take Aunt Kristen to the airport, is that we are flying on an airplane to Canada tomorrow. This is the only tale that has any inkling of truth. We are flying on an airplane to Canada, but not for another three and a half weeks.

[Comments] (2) : We watched Moonstruck last week while Kristen was visiting. It was so fresh and funny, I was plesantly entertained.

When Dave and I rent movies, or borrow them from the library, we usually like to pick two: one safe pick and one risky pick. What I mean by "safe" is one that has been reccomended, or has gotten good reviews, etc. We select our "risky" pick by scanning the shelves and letting something catch our eye. This leads to some interesting movie experiences. Here are two of my favorite "risky" picks: The Wrong Guy (though I didn't care for any of Mr. Nagel's scenes) and Rubin and Ed.

New Boundries: We have eliminated Samuel's crib from our apartment. Now, my brothers' old bunk beds are set up in the boy's room. Actually, we started making the change-over while my mom and sisters were visiting. This way Atticus AND Kristen both were able to sleep in comfortable beds through Kristen's 10 day visit. Samuel is struggling with the change, though. Not that he really stayed in his crib very well (he's part monkey, like his brother), but at least he didn't wander in the night, once he was asleep. He's pretty restless now, when we put him to bed. I think his new bed is too open for him. He seems to miss the confines of his crib.

[Comments] (2) For all who care to know:: My mother wears an engagement ring on her hand. The final details of her wedding are forthcoming, but Ben has proposed and congratulations are in order. Hurray for your happiness, Mom!

: Dave says to Atticus, "Hey, Atticus, did you hear the thunderstorm last night?"

"Nope. I was hiding under my covers."

: Atticus watches a school bus as it drives down the street and says: "Look, my school bus! It's not for girls, it's for children."

[Comments] (5) : I swam my first mile today!! It took me 45 minutes, but I did it.

[Comments] (1) : Dave: "What's that rubberband doing on your ankle?" Atticus: "Papa, I'm being a rhubarb!"

[Comments] (2) My Son Flatters Me: Atticus says, as he clears a place for me to sit beside him on a bench, "You need a big spot, Mom, because you have such a big bum!"

: My voice has gone and left me, the main remnant from a very sick weekend. But on a good note, we safely traveled by airplane to visit our Matkin family in Canada. We'll be here until the 14th of August. Now that's what I call a vacation!

[Comments] (4) : My voice has gone and left me, the main remnant from a very sick weekend. But on a good note, we safely traveled by airplane to visit our Matkin family in Canada. We'll be here until the 14th of August. Now that's what I call a vacation!

Cold Feet: Atticus is tentative about the idea of starting pre-school in a few weeks, so every once-in-a-while we'll mention some fun detail that might convince him that he wants to go. Today, Dave was testing his interest and asked if he wanted to go to "the fun place with the playground," and Atticus perked up. He said, "I'll go to the part that is recess!"

Can Pigs Fly?: Nope, but it is 9:15 in the morning and my boys are still asleep! That is equally amazing to me. I don't know what happened on our vacation, but both Atticus and Samuel are late sleepers now. Did they over-correct in adjusting to Mountain Standard Time? Did their sleep habits mature? Who knows, but I think I'll not tempt fate by asking too many questions.

A Semantic Debate: I was scolding Atticus for continually scratching a mosquito bite on his arm when he protested, "this is not scratching, Mom; it is called massaging!"

[Comments] (6) : Atticus has decided what he wants to be for Halloween: The Wrong Trousers. I don't know what he expects to do dressed up as fiendish pants. That's the part that scares me.

[Comments] (4) Newsworthy: We don't come up on a Google News search or anything, but our family picture was in the Lawrence Journal World on Saturday. Check out the picture here. Double-click on the pic to see it a little bigger.

[Comments] (8) The Cupboard Under The Stairs: We spent a good deal of last evening curled up in the only safe place in our apartment: the cupboard under the building's main stairs. The city tornado sirens went off around 7:40, at which time a tornado touched down literally 7 miles away from our home. It was scary, but exciting in a surreal, hard-to-explain sort of way. The tornado warning lasted until 9:50.

Our street was flooded from the torrential rainfall that accompanied the thunderstorm that created the tornado. Apparently, the drain at our next door neighbor's curb is one of the main feeders to the Haskell-Baker Wetlands just south of us. The water was pouring down the hill above us, creating a rapid moving river that filled the street full of water above the curb, submerging at least two front-yards worth of lawn. It is hard to do it justice, writing about all the rain fall. The cars that stupidly drove through that stretch of the street were up to their headlights in water, and most often stalled in the middle of it. Crazy weather.

[Comments] (2) Remembering My Trip to Canada: "Are You Ready to Go Honking?": Part of the reason for our trip to visit Dave's family in Alberta this month was to attend the wedding of my dear sister-in-law, Patty, to Sean Pitcher. After the beautiful temple ceremony and family luncheon were finished, the Pitcher family began gathering people who were ready to go "honking." I asked Dave what honking was, but he wasn't familiar with the post-nuptial practice, either. In fact, most of the Matkins were unfamiliar with "honking." That was okay; we were up for participating.

We all gathered into our cars. Patty and Shawn sat on the back of a Toyota Celica Convertible, and as their chauffeur drove out of the reception hall parking lot, we followed, along with about 10 other cars. Together we paraded down Cardson's two-traffic-light Main St. several times, and looped around town a bit, honking our horns continually. People in town waved and smiled. It was wonderful fun.

Update on Monday's Storm: During the thunderstrom that spawned Monday night's tornado, lightning struck not one, but two tornado siren towers. They were located in different areas of the city.

: I really enjoy living in college towns, but I don't particularly care for sharing roads with the students. Considering what line of work Dave is going into, I guess I'd better come to terms with this annoyance.

[Comments] (2) Sushi Lover: Since the start of fall semester, life has been good, just busybusybusy. I haven't neglected writing because I lack the time, just the mental stamina. By the end of the day I can hardly muster the attention span to do much more than rote tasks, let alone write blogs that I over-deliberate on anyway. But, I wanted to re-enter the world of the virtually living tonight with a small story about Atticus. I had just taken a fillet of marinated salmon out the fridge and put it on the table to sit for a minute while I prepped some other ingredients for dinner. Then, I heard Atticus relishing the raw fish: "Mmmmm, Mom, this chicken is so delicious!" I looked over at him, a soy sauce smile stretched across his face, and he had the entire two pound fillet in his hands like a giant slice of pizza, a bite carved out of the edge.

[Comments] (2) : I spent almost three hours of this day at the hospital and pediatrition's office. During lunch, Atticus pushed Samuel, who fell flat on his face on the hard linoleum floor. There was blood and crying and Samuel's nose and upper lip swelled badly. We went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for x-rays, and then to our doctor to decipher the images. Dr. Riordan wasn't in, so we saw another pediatrition who informed us that Samuel has "severe facial trauma with no fracture." Samuel is very sensitive about his poor nose, and will likely have two black eyes by the morning.

I am trying not to be too hard on Atticus. That's the hard part of everything. After all, twas I who casually tripped Kristen, who fell brow first into a marble stair. I didn't intend to hurt her, only to tease her and make her look clumsy. Surely, Atticus didn't intend cause "severe facial trauma" either. What goes around comes around, I suppose. I'm getting my just desserts for being a mean big sister.

[Comments] (8) In measureless oceans of space . . .: I just got back from swimming my laps. My shoulders and arms are really tired today, from swimming but also from lifting Atticus and Samuel to reach the basketball net at the Aquatics Center earlier this afternoon. I love swimming because of all the sounds of water and quiet. It is a very restful sport. I try to focus on things sometimes, like my form as I take strokes, or sometimes I feel how my body is pulling its weight through the water. It is a very tranquil practice. My favorite thing to do is memorize poems. This is tricky because I'm in the water. Obviously I don't have a book in front of me, but I try to have a few stanzas or such that I let run through my mind over and over. Then I can think about how the words are arranged, what the phrases mean, what images are conjured up by the poem. Tonight I was thinking of the poem "A Noiseless Patient Spider," by Walt Whitman.

This morning I picked up a pile of clothes left after morning showers when I heard a scattering, like that of a small mouse. There was no mouse, but a very large, very scary spider. Who knows how long this spider--a wolf spider--had been living in my bathroom, but he lives there no more. I caught him in a mason jar, showed him off to our neighbors, and released him into the wild (a corn field near the Aquatics Center). Atticus found all of this extremely exciting.

: I feel like I am continually head-butting with Atticus. The power-of-wills fight does nothing for a trip to the grocery store, let alone a parent/ child relationship. Right now I am completely drained of patience and there is no end in sight. AHHHHH!

[Comments] (2) : I was having a meltdown yesterday, and I'm kind-of embarrassed now for venting online. Dave came home at 4:00 from studying, I went out for a sandwich at the Merc and had a break from the kids for a couple of hours. All is well, all is well.

[Comments] (3) Little Man of Words: Samuel is doing a lot of story-telling these days. One of my favorites that he repeats grew from an experience he had a week and a half ago when we went to the Deanna Rose Farmstead in Kansas City. This farm has a fenced into an area where visitors can enter and offer food pellets to about six eager and seemingly-starving goats. The goats were abnoxious and pesty the day we visited, but in a way that almost seemed cute. They amused me because their behaviour resembled that of two little runts I spend my days with--you know who I mean. One of the goats was so assertive, he grabbed the ziplock baggie of food out of my hand with his little teeth and then devoured the pellets when they fell out all over on the ground. Well, Samuel was very frightened by these goats (for good reason), and he sat on my hip clinging to me the whole five minutes it took to offer our dollar's worth of feed. At one point, while my attention was not on Samuel, a goat came over and bit into his shirt, tugging for his attention. Samuel now reminds us of this over and over, saying, "Goat!" He then pulls at his shirt saying, "shirt!" Then he covers his mouth with his two hands, shruggs his shoulders to his ears, and giggles with hilarity. The moment wasn't funny to him at the time, but Samuel continues to laugh about it now. So. . . if you see him soon, and he looks at you and says "Goat!," you'll know the story he is telling, and you'll be able to laugh along with him.

The Long Journey to Graduation: This week marked a very important milestone for Dave in his doctoral work; he made his debut as a fledgling public budgeting academic at the Association for Budget and Financial Managment conference in Chicago. He presented two papers he's been working on for about the last 6 months. One of the papers was a duet piece with Kurt Wood, who graduated with his doctorate from KU in May. The other was a collaboration with Justin Marlowe and Jocelyn Johnston, both professors at KU. Dave came home last night from his trip pleased with his experience, but feeling like the little fish in a big pond.

Jocelyn and Justin suggested that Dave think about pushing through and finishing his PhD in three years instead of four, which is already an optimistic, fairly aggressive goal. This would mean two more years of extremely rigorous work for Dave, and a decent extra load of my own. I'm not sure what I think about it all; I'll have to decide some other less-stressful week.

[Comments] (3) Disclaimer: I didn't edit this at all. Read at your own risk: I should say that the kids and I had a week full of fun outings to kick off October. We went to the pumpkin patch with Atticus' preschool on Monday. They had pony rides, racing pigs, a very benign corn maze, and a pumpkin patch, of course! Atticus chose a small green and orange speckled pumpkin, and Samuel chose (with my suggestion) a small orange one. They both were very proud of their choices, and I took pictures that I hope to get on the web in the next week, when Dave can help me upload them.

Tuesday was my night out at the Merc for another cooking class with Chef Paige Vandegrift. Paige likes to organize her classes around foods that are in season, so we learned about all sorts of wonderful ways to use apples! Yum. Ah, but I'm forgetting the day out we spent at the Kasnas City Zoo with Natalie Houghout (a former Lunt from San Antonio) and her two children, Adam and Sara. This is the first zoo I've ever been to that seemed to be arranged more for the animals than for the humans. We spent all day visiting all the animals. We even had our own visit from a kangaroo who hopped out of his pasture to see what we were having for lunch (the kangaroos were enclosed with nothing more than a boundry of large boulders placed here and there). The boys absolutely loved every moment of the day. Wednesday was a school day, so we didn't do too much, and we left the house at 5:00 am on Thursday to take Dave to the airport, so we played at home with our neighbors most of the day.

On Friday morning, I put Atticus' bike and the jogging stroller in the Subaru, and we went to Prarie Park; thie place has lots of paved trails through a protected "wild space." Atticus biked, Samuel rode and I walked the half mile to the Prarie Park Nature Center that has all sorts of fun displays about animals, and even a few furry, slithery, feathery animal friends. We went for a swim Friday night.

Saturday morning was the farmer's market, so we treked off there as soon as breakfast was over. We bought a pasture raised chicken, a gallon of honey and a pound and a half of apples. And I locked my keys in the car. The locksmith charged 40 dollars to retreive my keys, which I was glad to pay. This was my most expensive outing.

Well, the week was full, and I must say I'm glad it is over. We'll see what fun I can cook up this week.

[Comments] (3) It is hard to share a bathroom with a four-year-old boy: Atticus has learned some new things in preschool; he has learned how to follow the leader to the playground for recess, he's learned a few new Halloween songs, and he has learned about peeing standing up. I've finally trained him to at least lift the toilet seat, but he still misses his aim sometimes. Yuck!

[Comments] (8) : I'm kind-of frusterated because I haven't received any e-mail since Monday, which makes me think something is wrong with my account.

We are having second breakfast right now at my house. I can't believe my kids, they hardly ever eat dinner, and in the morning they are famished. Samuel has already eaten a bowl of cereal and two bananas and it isn't even 9:30 yet.

Last night, in celebration of a great fall day, I made cream of tomato-fennel soup with parmesan croutons and gremolata (garlic, parsley, fennel fronds and lemon zest chopped up finely and sprinkled on the soup), which gave the soup a really nice lift. I had bought an assortment of olives at the Merc olive bar when I went to buy the fennel, so I also made a greek-ish salad with lots of types of greens, feta, tomatoes, and thinly sliced green peppers. It was pretty yummy. The boys asked for grilled cheese sandwiches so nicely that I made those, too.

[Comments] (2) : Yesterday we played in our backyard for a couple of hours, and when we came in, I noticed that Samuel had an unnatural posture, the kind that comes from a poopey diaper left too long (I couldn't smell it outside because of the wind). I had to strip him down and rinse him off in the bathroom sink because his diaper rash was so bad. The whole time Samuel was screaming in pain (poor baby!), and Atticus was rushing around, finding favorite toys to give him, and trying and comfort him with cooing words. As soon as I had spread Desitin all over Samuel's rear-end and inner thighs, put a diaper on him, and wrapped him in a cozy quilt, Atticus informed me that his hand felt itchy. Who knew that we have poison ivy growing in our yard? I washed his hands with soap and water, put hydrocortizone on the blistery-red-bumpies, and I wrapped all the irritated parts of his hand in gauze and first aid tape.

Victory!!: Samuel went into nursery today without even a wimper! That is the first time (he has been going since May) that we have dropped him off without going in at all, and he didn't even cry.

Atticus Says: "There are beautiful flowers all over the earth. I will pick them for you, but not the neighbors', no."

[Comments] (6) Pumpkin Pictures: Dave taught me a little bit of html last night, and I posted two photos on www.matkin.com/dave. Just adding the two took me an hour, so I'll be ambitious another day and add more when I have time.

Juggling With Friends: I have a friend with two daughters around the ages of Atticus and Samuel, so last week I called her and proposed a baby-sitting trade so that we can each get in some laps at the swimming pool. She said yes, so today we met at the Aquatics Center with our little chummies in their swimsuits. I swam laps for a half and hour first while Tiffani watched the kids in the pool, and then she had a turn while I watched the four. It was so nice to have a middle-of-the-day break, and the boys loved it, too. They enjoy any chance they get to swim. Tiffani and I hope to do this routine on all Tuesdays, Thursdays, and some Fridays.

[Comments] (11) Charmer: Atticus said, as he sat down at the dinner table, "Wow, Mom, look at this neat soup you made." He sampled it and then continued, "Mmmmm, this is so delicious!" And it was lentil soup! How lucky am I?

Is the rule of thumb to feed a fever and starve a cold, or the other way around?: At any rate, I'm starving the cold, mostly because I have no desire or appetite for eating. I am sipping my chamomile tea and I've sent Atticus to play at the neighbor's so I can have a rest during Samuel's nap. I really don't like being sick, and my "lifestyle" doesn't lend much room for taking it easy, very easily.

[Comments] (4) : You know, I take that back, the thing I said about "my 'lifestyle’ not lending much room for taking it easy." Nobody likes to be sick, and I am no exception, nor is my life exempt from the hassle of feeling not well. In fact, I do have it pretty easy. I just said I sent Atticus away to play with Matthew, and with Samuel asleep, I've negotiated a good hour of down time. Here is too all the sickies out there, especially the chronic sickies that suffer much more than I. I'll keep my wimpishness to myself now.

[Comments] (1) Making Mischief: I decided tonight to dust the boy's fan, and in doing so, I had to dust all the furniture, as the dust rained down all over the boy's room. I began knowing that I had pasta boiling on the stove. I moved a chair under the fan and wiped the dust away from the fan blades, until the moment I thought the pasta was done cooking. I put the wood polish oil up on top of the high bookshelf, and left for mere moments to drain the pasta, not thinking anything of the chair I'd left conveniently behind.

Children create an amazing amount of damage at lightning speed when they know their time is limited.

When I came back into the room, the boys were smiling their devilish smiles, and Samuel had, in hand, the spray bottle of wood oil. He aimed a spray at me as I came close. Imagine my fury. I even yelled, I was so mad. They had sprayed toys, the wall, all over the carpeting so that my toes were squeaking as I walked across the floor. They even sprayed each other.

Their feelings were hurt after I had finished scolding them, so hurt that they cried out mournfully in unison the most punishing words a mother could hear after such an interaction: "I WANT PAPA!!"

I said my sorries and gave many kisses, still fuming a little, but feeling badly that I had reacted so.

[Comments] (2) I Only Have Eyes for Blue: I pulled a wagon full of boys--Atticus, Samuel, and Nicholai--to the pet store this morning (Nicholai comes twice a week for a few hours so his artist mommy can work on her projects). We arrived at feeding time, so we saw tortises munching their lettuce, a Burmese Python sleeping with a fat round-of-something in his belly, lizzards eating crickets, and Oscar fish messily gobbling goldfish.

We've had an empty Beta fish vase since this summer. Our first Beta, "Little Fish Big Fish," died under the care of friends while we were on vacation in August. Today was the day to chose a new one. Atticus inspected about every Beta in the tanks at Pet World. Most of them were red. He finally came to a blue one, though, so we brought him home. I asked Atticus what name he wanted for the fish, and he chose "Batman Fish," or "Blue Batman." I'm not sure which name will stick permanently. Maybe he will keep both names. Either way, I hope Batman Fish will stay around longer than Little Fish Big Fish.

[Comments] (6) : This week has been especially long and tiring. Atticus has been scheduled for heel cord transfer surgery on his left leg since April, but the reality of it all hadn't sunk in until we saw Dr. Olney at Children's Mercy Hospital for a second opinion on Thursday. Dr. Olney explained to us that we've pretty much exhausted all of our non-surgical options, like botox shots, serial casting, stretching, etc. Now we have the choice of following through with the heel cord transfer surgery, or scheduling a heel cord tendon lengthening surgery. The transfer seems pretty aggressive and invasive; here the surgeon detaches the Achilles tendon and attaches it to a new spot a little higher up on the heel. On the contrary, with the lengthening, the surgeon simply snips the tendon in several places, weakening it and allowing it to pull apart a bit, making the tendon longer. Both require a long recovery in a cast (4 weeks for the lengthening, 6 weeks for the transfer). The one benefit of the transfer is that it hypothetically is a one time only deal, while the lengthening surgery must be performed as needed through the growing years (typically 2-3 times). So, the short of it is that we are going through with the transfer this week, hoping for the best.

I have a dear friend, whose husband is struggling to recover from a bout with cancer while dealing simultaneously with the frustrations and complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She has passed on a quote by Plato the pretty much says it all: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Everyday for everyone is different and challenging in some way, sometimes especially so, even in simple ways. I guess a looming surgery isn't an ordinary challenge, but everyone has something difficult to face, and this is our "thing" this week. Good luck with whatever you are tackling.

[Comments] (4) : Tonight Dave asked Atticus what he would like to be when he grows up. He said, "I don't want to be anything, really. Except Batman. I want to be Batman."

[Comments] (3) Halloween Bummer: Well, I thought I should at least mention Halloween, though it was somewhat of a disappointment. I sewed two black wizzard robes for Atticus and Samuel; Atticus has known for weeks and weeks that he wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween. I figured Samuel could dress as Ron Weasley, so we bought spray on hair dye, black for Atticus and orange for Samuel. On Thursday we went to a little mom's group Halloween party during the day, so the boys dressed. I drew a lightning bolt on Atticus' forehead and he wore special Harry Potter glasses. Both boys wore their robes, and with their "hair spray," the costumes were complete. We did a heavy hair coloring on Atticus, and he absolutely LOVED his transformation. The down side was when he came home looking more like a chimney sweep than Harry Potter. The other drawback was the ring in the bathtub when we washed his hair out.

On Friday I sent Atticus to school all dressed up, but with a light spray of black on his hair this time. His pre-school celebrated Halloween with a costume parade. Unfortunately, Atticus came home with a fever. He walked in the door looking so vacant that I cuddled him close and he was asleep in minutes. He napped for three hours. So, the short of it is that he got sick, then Samuel got sick, and we stayed in for the rest of the weekend. Good thing these two are too young to know they missed Halloween.

[Comments] (8) Surgery Revision: After meeting with our surgeon today, we are feeling a lot better about our decision to go with the heel cord transfer. Dr. Anderson described the procedure in detail, so I thought I'd pass the information on to give you all a better understanding of what we're dealing with. Apparently, the routine is to drill a canal through the calcaneus (heel bone). Then, when the Achilles tendon is detached, Dr. Anderson will sew a suture to the end of the tendon. He will then thread the suture through the opening in the calcaneus, poke the end through the tissue and skin of his foot, and tie the end to a "button" that will anchor the suture from the outside of his foot. The tendon will, over time, attach itself to the new insertion in his calcaneus, and as the bone and muscle heal, Atticus will have much better range in his lower left leg. Atticus is most excited to have a cast; I pointed out a boy in the waiting room today who had a blue cast. As per his request, Dr. Anderson promised a blue cast, so Atticus is anxious to go and get it as soon as possible. He is also waiting with anticipation until he gets to spend the night in his special hospital room. I'm really surprised that he is looking forward to this so much.

[Comments] (3) : Atticus is coughing up a storm this morning. I hope he is well enough to go through with the surgery.

[Comments] (2) To the Hospital, and then Back Again: Well, we went to Children's Mercy this morning. Atticus was fasting, according to pre-operation instructions we'd been given, and crying, "I'm so hungry, my body needs food, I didn't even eat my vitamin, my body says it wants to eat . . ." When we arrived at the hospital, Atticus had already removed his shoes, "So that I'll be ready for my blue cast," he said. He was so cooperative and good for the nurse while she checked him over. The bad news is he is congested and has a little wheeze in his lungs. Not good for anesthesia. They let us go, and we will reschedule the operation when Atticus is well.

[Comments] (2) More Surgery Frustration: Our Orthopedic Surgeon is booked through March. This thing is going to loom in our future forever!

[Comments] (5) The Measure of my Happiness: The weather has been beautiful this weekend, and we have taken advantage of it, for sure. I took the boys to the farmer's market this morning and bought three and a half pounds of apples, two bunches of chard, one bunch of cilantro, two sugar cookies for the kiddies from a group that donates proceeds to the local leukemia society, and one scrumptious brownie from a grandma named Mary for myself and Dave to share (Dave did less of the sharing and I did more of the eating). Here's an idea for you: this brownie, and we've bought them before, is made from scratch, baked, topped with marshmallows and put under the broiler until the marshmallows melt and roast a little. Then Mary drizzles the whole delicious treat with freshly made chocolate syrup. Very yummy.

I put the boys in a Radio Flyer wagon, walked them to a park downtown, we played for an hour, then walked up and down Massachusetts (downtown main street) looking at all the shops and doggies out on walks with their owners.

I've decided that I am happiest when I am out doing things with the boys; they are entertained, they don't fight (much), and I get to be around people. When we are all stuck in the apartment for more than six hours without either visitors, naptime, or Dave coming home, it is like a death sentence. Okay, I'm exaggerating, it isn't death, but I get really angsty.

[Comments] (2) The Things My Child Learns In Pre-school: As the two were on a drive together, Atticus announced to Dave, "A bear market means you lose money, but a bull market means you make money." Dave and I were baffled that he knew such things, but then I remembered that Friday and Monday are "Dads visit school" days. One of the fathers is an investor.

[Comments] (1) Samuel Dramatizes his Life through Play: Atticus and Dave went to see The Incredibles last night, and not wanting to chase him all over the theater hallways, I stayed home and had a special one-on-one playdate with Samuel. We were playing with our Little People figurines and circus toy. Samuel loaded the two farmers onto two of three ferris wheel chairs. Then, he picked up two other figures and knocked them together again and again, saying, "'It's my turn,' 'No, it's my turn,' 'No, it's my turn. . .'"

He's really learning the facts of life.

What I do to Try to Get my Children to Eat Vegetables, or The Dinner Table Conversation Gone Awry: Tonight at dinner, I was encouraging Atticus to eat his roasted beets. I explained the nutritional benefits, promised that they would taste sweet, and then, desperate, I said, "Atticus, these beets will turn your poop into an awesome purple color!" He started to get excited about this possibility, and then was quiet for a moment. Then said, "Nah. I like my poops to be brown."

[Comments] (5) Celebrating the Bird that Got Away: I know you will (most of you) snicker at me, but I took a cooking class tonight on how to make a tofu turkey. It was awesome! There was stuffing, and Miso gravy (so delicious I'd make this for a non-tofu turkey), and the most remarkable sweet cherry cranberry sauce. For dessert, the presenter made pumpkin pie from scratch. The class was fun, and I plan to put this recipe to use. Anyone feeling adventurous?

[Comments] (5) "I'd rather be running to catch up than standing around wondering what's next"--Chef Sula: The boys woke up at the crack of dawn, so we went out for donuts and hot cocoa, and then to the grocery store for a few things. Our afternoon was full of fun: we toured our neighborhood Great Harvest Bakery (Bob the Baker assisted all little hands in making a loaf of bread), visited our favorite toy store for a prize for Atticus (he has been wearing his brace so dutifully while we wait for surgery), and then home for naps. Then we had our afternoon swim with friends (and I swam some laps). My (second) treat of the day was "Simple Meals for Holiday Company" *hint hint* with Chef Sula Teller and Chef Ali Olwenik at the Merc. We made such delights as roasted Balsamic garlic tomatoes, salmon wrapped in grape leaves with carmelized onions and lemon, red chard and garlic stuffed chicken breasts, roasted artichoke hearts and cumin dip on crusty European bread, walnut cake, and cream cheese pound cake with poached pears. Well, there were other things, but those were the highlights for me.

I'll be cooking when you come to visit *think about eastern Kansas.*

By the way, I must warn you that I am THE WORST about passing on recipes, so if any of these foods appeal to your holiday menu plans, you must hound me for the good reward, and I apologize for times I've fallen through in the past. Only those who persist will get me off my rump.

[Comments] (1) Evidently, as I was leaving last night . . .: Atticus called out "Where are you going?"

Mama is going to a cooking class," Dave replied

"Oh. I already know how to cook," the boy says while stirring pancake batter for his supper.

[Comments] (4) : We all went to see The Polar Express tonight at the theater. I couldn't believe that an adult ticket cost $7.75 and a child ticket cost $5! Inflation. Boy do I sound like my grandfather.

The movie is excellent, and was enjoyed by all. I think Dave and I enjoyed watching the boys watch the movie more than the movie, though.

[Comments] (4) : Poor Atticus got the pukies last night, so I'm washing bedding and giving him the royal treatment. This means warm apple juice and unlimited tv (an otherwise highly regulated activity). So far, this hasn't been the best season health wise. Hopefully we're getting it all behind us.

[Comments] (3) : Happy Birthday Samuel!! My baby isn't a baby anymore.

[Comments] (1) New Surgery Date: We finally firmed up a date with our orthopedic surgeon: April 4th. That is forever away, but oh well. I guess we have no choice. Even with privatized health care people have to wait for these things. *wink wink Joe*

[Comments] (2) : I sliced my finger tip the other day while chopping walnuts for our morning oatmeal. Atticus took a look at my injury and said, "Ewwww, I'm not gonna kiss that, Mama. You need a band-aid!"

It is a pretty gross looking wound. Sometimes I think I should be barred from using knives. But that would be like taking away my driver's license!

[Comments] (4) Holiday Travels: I leave for San Antonio with the boys in the morning. Well, actually, I'm staying the night in Dallas. Dave will fly in on Wednesday morning.

As I was listing the family members we are going to see, Atticus asked if we would see Aunt Frances. He was disappointed when I said no, and then it dawned on him that no Frances meant no Sadie. Then he was really sad. Feel loved, Frances and Sadie!

[Comments] (2) Breaking the Ice: Okay, when I've not written in so long, I find it difficult to break the pattern of silence, for what could be material for a worthy entry after so much blank space? Here's a little story to get me going again . . .

Ben, my mom's new husband, had a little ice breaker game he played with the boys where he'd blow on their hair just so, making them think he'd spit on their heads. Anyway, while we were visiting my family, Atticus was thrilled to discover that Ben has a swimming pool in his backyard. He asked Dave, "Does Ben like to share?"

Dave replied, "Of course, Grandpa Ben loves to share his pool and everything else with you."

"He also likes to spit in my hair!" Atticus said.

: We went to the Annual Old Fashion Christmas Parade downtown this morning. Well, the boys and I went. Dave is in purgatory until he finishes a research project that is due soon. It was a lot of fun; we saw horses, ponies, donkeys, buggies, a stagecoach, carriages, lots of fun things like that. The paper reported that there were around 280 horses altogether. I bought a dozen doughnuts from Joe's bakery to share with the friends we met. Now that the boys have tasted the sweet life, I can't seem to get them to eat anything else. I guess they'll eventually change their minds when they are hungry enough.

[Comments] (6) Adventures in Parenting: It is time to start thinking about potty training Samuel. For the second time today, he ran out from his bath, threw off his towel, and peed (in the same place as yesterday) on the carpet. He does this to entertain his brother. Heaven help me.

[Comments] (2) Poor Dave!!: It is after 10:00 and Dave is leaving for campus to finish a project. He's been going on about 5 hours of sleep a night for a week, and it looks like tonight might drop his average. Poor, poor graduate student!

[Comments] (2) By the way: The only reason he came home at all was to spell me off so I could go to my book group night. Very considerate.

[Comments] (3) *Sigh*: Dave came home for breakfast and a shower, then went back to school again. When will I have him back?

[Comments] (1) : Atticus went to his friend's house for a mac-and-cheese dinner (is he old enough for this already?). We ate miso-vegetable soup and tempeh club sandwiches here. I imagine one day that Atticus is going to come home and ask me "Why don't you ever make anything normal for dinner?"

[Comments] (2) : Last night we bought our extended DVD of The Return of the King. What a treat! Fifty minutes of extra scenes. The film is really fleshed out with all the extra character development and story telling. I love it.

[Comments] (4) Close Calls, Misses, and Dead On Messes: Samuel is making trouble at every turn. Today he dumped out a carton containing 9 eggs, which went splat! on the kitchen floor. The other day, I caught him just before he poured a cup full of apple juice inside the drum of our empty dryer. He flushed half a roll of toilet paper down the toilet that luckily didn't overflow. He sucked his "silkie" piece of comfort blanket into the vacumn hose, and I cannot get it out. Then one other that I can think of that has vexed me this week was when he took out my precious 1/2 gallon of grade a pure maple syrup and started pouring it over the kitchen bench. I found him licking his fingers.

Admittedly, some of these are my own fault, born out of my own negligence (I was washing dishes and letting him play with the vacumn when he lost his silkie, shame on me), but what a mischevious little boy. If I could chain my fridge closed, that would solve 50% of his messes. Three steps forward, two steps back. That is the story of my life. At least I'm mostly one step ahead.

[Comments] (2) Measure of Success: I asked Atticus how his day at school went. "Um, nobody called me names," he answered pensively.

That would constitute a good day at school, now, wouldn't it.

[Comments] (1) To Yell, or Not to Yell . . .: Do I yell at my kids, or do I hire a babysitter so that I can escape the frustrations of parenthood for an afternoon. Yikes. I hate these kinds of confessional/ grumbling posts, but I have to vent.

[Comments] (1) In All Fairness: Dave was away for a dinner with some professors and a potential faculty member, so I took the boys out for pizza last night. This meant I didn't have to cook or clean up. Then I put the monkeys straight to bed, turned on the "baby monitor," took the speaker over to my neighbors (in the apartment building--I'm not neglectful), and went to a friend's house to make Christmas treats. This was a night off. Why wasn't it enough? I had a break, so why don't I feel like it? I can never figure out this strange juggling act of parenting.

[Comments] (5) Dark Times: Batman Fish has gone to a watery grave! This is our third beta in 6 months. I'm going to leave our fish bowl empty for a while until I get brave enough to try again with a new one. Poor Batman Fish. I hope he was happy during his brief existence.

[Comments] (6) Anniversary: Dave and I have been married six years today. We celebrated with Christmas shopping and lunch at Thai House. Dave ordered a green curry dish, and I ordered a red curry dish. The food was superb. There was a little Thai place in Provo, the Thai Chili Garden, that Dave and I really enjoyed. We are glad that there is something comparable to that here in Lawrence.

And about the Chrstmas shopping, I'll just say that Atticus and Samuel are going to have a really swell Christmas.

[Comments] (1) Life In Kansas: People always make a big deal about the tornadoes here in Kansas, but few mention Kansas winters, unless you are talking to Kansans. We warmed up to 14°, and tonight is supposed to dip below 0°. Last night around 10:00, when I was bringing in groceries, I heard geese honking. I felt so sorry for them; their honking sounded a little frantic (I was warm in my down ski jacket, and the irony did not escape me). They are a little late flying south. Maybe these were the slacker geese. Well, I've been late before, too. Best of luck to them.

BTW, if you haven't seen the film Winged Migration, a unique documentary of birds in migration (hence the title), you should get on the ball and watch it this Christmas break!

[Comments] (1) First Sounds on Christmas Morning: Pitter patter of little feet running out of the boys room. The flick of a light switch. Pitter patter returning to the bedroom. Samuel calling: "Get up, get up! Santa Come. Santa Come!"

[Comments] (6) Breakthrough Morning: Wonder of wonders, my children woke up and entertained themselves for almost a whole hour without disturbing us. The boys played nicely while Dave and I slept in! This has never happened before. I'd better not get used to it.



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