Probably Too Much Information

If there’s something sadder than having your little three-year old pad into your bedroom at four AM covered in barf, I do not want to know what it is. Except maybe stripping her out of her feeties, starting to rinse them in the tub, and looking over to see her shivering on the tile floor: No! Not the pajamas first! The girl first! Wash the girl, bleary parent!

It was like rounding Cape Horn in a sailing romance: periods of relative quiet, followed by brisk all-hands calls to swarm on deck and replace every inch of rigging. Literally, if ships were rigged with flannel chafing blankets and plastic-backed polyester mattress liners.

So I went off to the grocery store in the morning, bought some more small-child fluid-replacement drink (she couldn’t keep diluted apple juice down) and THANK HEAVENS for the “Invisible Clock” which I bought to keep me from falling irrevocably asleep on her floor back when she wasn’t sleeping through the night — I set it to buzz at five-minute intervals, and spent the whole morning reading books to her, then cajoling her into taking a teaspoon of funky-tasting fluid every five minutes. “Lilly showed the class the many special qualities and unique features of her purple plastic purse…” *buzz* *slurp*

There’s a number of places where Lydia could have caught a stomach bug in the past week; the most likely being the nursing-care center where Kate’s dad is staying — everyone on the hall had had a bug, and he was the last to get it. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be recovering from chemo and have a #@k!n& stomach bug at the same time. Actually, talking to Bob on the phone yesterday, he says that it wasn’t that bad — he’s on so much anti-nausea medication, maybe, that it wasn’t terrible. I hope.

Anyhow, I guess it goes to show you that no matter how diligent you are with the Purelle, toddlers will get what they will get. And Lydia spent the day yesterday not complaining about herself, but saying “I’m worried about Boppy” (her name for Bob.) “I want to get him out of the hos-ti-pal.” Which is excruciatingly Dickensian of her.

She seemed better by nine PM last nght; she’s hydrated, and was back to her usual demanding “Daddy, put the covers back on me!” by two AM. So, as of this writing, I’m back on the train, since work has piled up in NYC. I’m hoping to God that both Kate and I won’t come down with it — especially Kate, at least not today — and I’ll be maintaining a ten-foot burn zone around me all day at the office (note to any office readers: I feel fine. I think it’s one of those “old people, sick people, and infants” things. Plus, I’m going to freaking BATHE in disinfectant.)

I’m also hoping that this sweater I’m wearing doesn’t have any toddler barf on it. Right now, I’m a little unsure…

Probably Too Much Information

Third birthday party report! Also, the Best Recipe Cookbook defended.

Kate and I spent Saturday morning baking a cake for Lydia’s birthday, and then spent Sunday morning baking it again — we used the Best Recipe cookbook, and when the first try resulted in a flat, rubbery disk that TASTED like cake but LOOKED like an industrial vibration-dampening mat, our confidence was shaken. Finally, however, we tracked it down. The container of Clabber Girl baking powder we had used turned out to be a container of Clabber Girl cornstarch. Aha! Kate and I are actually more relieved that we get to continue using the Best Recipe cookbook as our One True Trusted Source* than we are upset about having a cake flop on us. A few weeks ago, Lydia had been to a friends’ birthday party where the cake was studded with jellybeans, and she was INCREDIBLY EXCITED to do the same with our cake. So the moment before the party, LBY was carefully pushing lemon jellybeans into the pink icing with the concentration of a Fabergé jeweler. All in one quadrant of the cake.

There are dozens of pictures (thanks, pop!) which you can see if you friend me on Flickr, but they break down into the following sequence that is as old as birthday parties:

  • Backlit silhouette of young girl in party dress pushing her nose up to the storm door, staring out at street: “When will the people come?”
  • People arriving, suddenly-shy girl nowhere to be seen.
  • Photos of cake being consumed, odd hats being worn.
  • Photos of presents being opened. Girl’s arms in photo blurred into mere probability clouds.
  • Pictures of small girl playing with presents.
  • Obligitory photo of girl’s father and girl’s uncle playing with toy train set; girl nowhere in sight (actually, Lydia loved the Thomas train stuff that her uncle Matt gave her, but you have to put that obligatory photo in there if you want to keep your membership in the Thomas Kinkade Folksy Photo club.)
  • Photo of sleepy girl sitting on mom’s lap
  • Burst of energy! Photo of girl, changed into tutu, dancing with daddy.
  • Photos of girl completely sacked out asleep with visible Zs emitting from open mouth.

* A note on the Best Recipe Cookbook: For those of you that pooh-pooh “the scientist’s cookbook” and make snarky jokes about Phil Hartman as the anal-retentive chef, you can shut your damn pie-holes right now. Yes, the Best Recipe is preachy and precise (or, if you prefer, “informative and carefully directional.”) Don’t forget, people, Bruce Lee mastered Wing Chun, a very precise and exacting form of kung fu, before he got all loosey-goosey with his Jeet Kune Do and his “No form is form.” The Best Recipe is like Wing Chun, you dig? Later on I’ll affect the Cajun accent and start throwing ingredients around with carefree abandon.

Third birthday party report! Also, the Best Recipe Cookbook defended.

Snow day!

Snow day! Lydia with her uncle Matt, hanging out in the living room. Matt is wearing his new workout clothes, and Lydia is wearing her “tutu team” outfit: “I’m on the tutu team! I’m going to win! Jump! Jump! Jump!”



Meanwhile, the sleet is piling up and piling up and piling up outside.

Snow day!

Nature, green in tooth and claw

Our gardening proceeds apace. Per Harlan Holmes’ explicit and detailed instructions, we have been subjecting our seedlings to a strict regimen: 12 hours of blinding fluorescent light:
The goggles! They do nothing!

…followed by 12 hours at a ten-degree temperature drop (we put them in the basement.) The light makes them grow; the cold teaches them that the world is a cruel, unforgiving place, and that they should be cautious and not get all leggy. Gardening is one of those hobbies that, apparently, extends to every branch of the sciences, and this is a philosophical decision. No Fitzgeraldian coddling for these seedlings, this is the straight Horatio Alger stuff. Still, the point of selecting a guru is, if nothing else, to learn a point of departure, so we are giving our young seedlings the full-on Spartan regime. Grow, young seedlings! But grow cautiously!

So far, we’ve been getting the desired effect: the lettuce has sprouted, and immediately gone to leaf, without extending tender, leggy, insect-inviting shoots up into the air. It’s really pretty amazing. The damn things actually look like lettuce!
The miracle of life

However — and this is where the Cruel Tutelage of Harlan Holmes continues — we now have to destroy four out of every six seeds that we have planted, making room for only the strongest, the most industrious, and the purest of intention. Kate went in with a pair of sharp scissors, and we ended up with the World’s Smallest Salad:
(Lettuce and molecule shown to scale)

I ate some of the lettuces, which were about the size of an individual clover leaf each. And here’s where you’re just going to have to trust me that I’m being honest with you: IT TASTED AMAZING. I have no idea whether that was because it actually tasted that good, or whether it’s because it’s lettuce that, you know, I’m invested in and stuff. But it tasted like green… in a good way, and like, well, dirt, but in a good way, and it tasted like every hippie-dippie health food store I remember wandering around in when my family lived in Austin, Texas. Believe me, all those back-to-the-land-ers who get all holier-than-thou about the fruits of labor and Gaia and stuff? Like you, I want nothing more than to punch them in the face and say “STAY OFF MY SIDE”, but the lettuce, it was… goood.

And that was just the lettuce that didn’t make the cut, man. I’m starting to understand that gardening really is a pageant of life’s most basic urges. ALL of them, you dig?

Nature, green in tooth and claw

Tonight’s schedule of events

Tonight’s schedule of events will be as follows:


  • 6:30 PM: Arrive home.
  • 6:31 – 6:32 PM: Negotiate whether or not small girls should use booster seats
  • 6:32 – 6:33 PM: Negotiate whether or not small girls should wear bibs
  • 6:33 – 6:34 PM: Negotiate whether or not small girls should have their food served in big pieces, or in small pieces.
  • 6:33 – 6:34 PM: Negotiate whether or not small girls have water or apple juice, served in which cup, and in what amount.
  • 6:35 PM: Eat dinner
  • 6:36 PM: Negotiate whether small girls that are done can, in fact, leave the table.

Let’s skip ahead, here…

ACT THE FOURTH [we join in progress]

  • 8:36-8:37 PM: finish reading second book, per previously negotiated agreement to read TWO books at bedtime, no more and no less.
  • 8:37:05 PM: turn out light.
  • 8:37:06 PM – 8:37:15 PM: Begin singing standard bedtime song.
  • 8:37:15 PM: Standard bedtime song stopped summarily. Request issued for standard bedtime song (alternate).
  • 8:37:16 PM – 8:40 PM: Standard bedtime (alternate) sung. Deep, even breathing detected from mattress on floor, as small girl is transitioning from crib to a big-girl bed.
  • 8:42 PM: Tippytoe out of room, shut door. Begin negotiations with cat over feeding schedule

ACT THE FIFTH [a coda]

  • 2:47 AM: Plaintive summons issued from room. Investigation reveals small girl curled up in ball on rug next to mattress on floor. Girl climbs back onto mattress, requests re-covering with each of precisely three family quilts.
  • 2:47:10 AM: Re-covered, small girl goes instantly back to sleep.

I’m reasonably sure that our girl isn’t spoiled, and she’s not horribly bossy or demanding. She is, however, a three-year-old in a couple of weeks, and various folks have been telling us that two is nothing — three is the hard year. Hey! Thanks for NOTHING, people! You should have warned us that we were going to be living with an ombudsman. Kate is incredibly patient, picks her battles, is flexible for things that don’t matter (“yes, you may pick your own shoes”) and firm when it does (“no, you can’t pick the sandals to go outside in the snow. “)

I know that attrition is a powerful tool in negotiations. Boy, do I ever. 🙂

Update: Kieran tells his own bedtime story on his blog.