Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Goodbye 2008, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I can't say as I'm going to miss it, despite the fact that '08 brought us our first African American President and as real a sense of hope as I can remember.

I won't miss it because 2008 also brought us full-force into the debauchery of our times. It forced us to stand in front of the mirror of our own making and see how much we've actually lost. How much we squandered.

On a personal level, 2008 has been good to our family. It's brought us back to the place we started; it's made us see what's important. We have two, healthy, growing children who happen, at the moment, to adore each other.

We have even prospered enough to risk our sanity and future solvency on a new business venture, which means moving a few houses down the road (hopefully by the summer of the New Year).

But it also means deciding to sell our barn: the place we've realized ourselves and raised our infants. It's where we were married, and where we planted our first tree. It's even where we buried our beloved dog Maggie. Someone else will be walking across the tile floor I installed. Someone else will open and close the big barn doors my father-in-law made. And eventually, someone else will paint over the marks on the wall charting our children's growth from the time they could stand until now.

All of that has next year to play out, but the deciding has taken place in this year.

I'm choosing to look at it as an opportunity to make a new home out of an old house. I'm deciding to look on the bright side and be excited.

Time moves on, so will we.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just a little sniffle

*sniff*, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

That's what it started out as, anyhow.

Or maybe it started out as that overreaching gastrointestinal microbe that threatened to make our family host Christmas in the crapper (literally).

Whatever the case, we had hoped it was just the residual effects of teething: Cranky, check; runny nose, check; low tolerance for just about everything that doesn't go his way. CHECK, PLEASE!

He hasn't got an ounce of patience for the hat that covers his eyes, or the four seconds it takes you to figure out that he wanted a bite of your toast, or the removal of any object from his hand ... even if all your doing is moving it to his other hand.

No. Patience.

And that's not like him.

As of today, even with his jamming both fists into his mouth and the visible protrusion of molars in his upper gum, it is apparent that he has a whopper of a cold now that the coughing and sneezing has set in.

Sure, he's still a whirling dirvish. He's still able to eat and sniffle and drink all in one fell swoop. (Well, unless there's a sneeze and the eating and drinking turn into spraying and splattering ). But he's still just a miserable, draining ball of phlegm.

I'm beginning to think winter and toddlerhood go together like a goldfish and snowshoes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Control issues

blue, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

The new year is coming. The new year is coming.

Lots of people are hanging their hopes on the next digit in time.

For me, the new year is just a moment in time. A moment not unlike any other moment wherein a person looks to the future and wonders at its potential.

I rarely wait for the end of one year so that, in a wine-attled haze, I can resolve to be a better person in the beginning days of the next year.

Mostly I try to change the error of my ways as it occurs to me, whenever it occurs to me, lest I forget.

Not that it matters. I don't really change. My diet doesn't get better, my clothes don't become stylish. I don't keep up with the laundry or count to ten before I snap angrily at a child who annoys without intent.

I speak my mind even when my mind is telling me to shut up.

I'm always the same person I was yesterday, and the day before that and the year before that day. Even in the new year. So forth or hense. Whichever applies.

And yet, I'm one of those persons who THINKS they let things go, but in reality we tie our grievances to really long leashes just in case we need to haul them back in when it's cold or raining or otherwise inclement.

I'm not particularly proud of this.

Nor am I fond of the fact that I am a mule with the stubborn.

Fester. Fester. Fester. Rot. Rot. Rot.

A circle of misunderstanding and rage.

I didn't say the things you thought I said. I acquiesced.

Acquiescing rarely means agreeing fully or accepting with the power of ownership.

It just means giving in. It means compromise. Your desires don't just disappear, but your will to fight for them does.

When I bought Annabel an unfinished doll house I knew that she'd want to decorate it. I could have guessed she'd want to scribble on it with markers, or that she'd get tired midway through and stop being careful.

I would have left it alone. I would have wanted it to be clean and fresh and new -- the opposite of how I see my life and everything in it.

I couldn't help but to try and dissuade her from coloring it with the new princess markers and stampers. But she is not me. She has no qualms about what is or isn't pretty. She sees opportunity where I see the trap of imperfection.

And I back off.

It's not my house to decorate.

Now I'm trying to accept it for real and not just acquiesce.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas ... the good, the bad and the ugly (or cute, depending on what you think of squirrels)

my favorite things, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

So. Christmas. Christ. Mas.

Let's dispense with the bad, shall we?

Because, sheesh!

I don't know about you but I'm thinking the people who know a thing or two about a thing or two also know better than to get involved in any heated debates on a day that roughly translates (in my imagination, anyway) to "More Christ."

I'm adding the following conversation topics to the list of things I won't discuss on Christmas ever again:

How I really feel about the new house ... The one I haven't much written about but is mostly likely moving full steam ahead in the new year.
Home renovation.
Credit (how it works in general).
Debit cards (how they work).
Which is better, credit or debit?
Misspellings on personalized items. ... (Just say thank you).
Does bubblegum really kill birds? Google's not decisive and T-shirt humor might DEPEND upon it.

Now, on to the good.

Did you notice the photos up there?

Annabel MADE those for ME.

She sewed the pillow herself, and she painted the three scenes on the candleholder: Snowman, gingerbread house and Christmas tree; not to mention glued on the ribbon embellishment at the top.

She even got her own gift on the evening of Christmas as she was watching one of her favorite gifts, "The Little Mermaid."

"Mama! I have a wiggly tooth!"

I fished around inside her mouth, and lo and behold, her lower right chopper in the front is indeed wiggly.

It's hard to believe I will soon have to tell the Toothfairy our address so she can Google/Mapquest us when the time comes to collect her prize. Where does the time go?

And finally ... The ugly/cute.

My mother-in-law said on Christmas morning that she had the sensation of a small critter crawling around on her in the night. We tossed about the idea that it might have been one of the neighborhood cats, as they have been known to seek shelter from the cold in our humble abode from time to time. But we eventually came to accept that the most likely senario was that she had dreamt it.


Didn't dream it.

It was a squirrel ... a baby one. Running around the sunporch next to where she'd been sleeping.

Jed cornered the rodent in the linen closet and eventually coaxed it into a Madam Alexander babydoll box with the window-front. (I'd have a picture of him, but my stupid camera tricked me into thinking I had a data card inserted).

The kids were able watch the tiny little beast freak out at his sudden confinement, and exclaim with glee . ... "oh ... so cute ..." before Jed took him outside (with a handful of Cheerios) and let him go into the trees.

So if Cheerios kills squirrels, please keep it to yourself. I promise won't discuss it next year, anyway.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Random Question Thursday: Navidad edition

What would be your Mexican Wrestling name?

And what would your "Bio" say?

Ladies, if you're looking for the female circuit, you can also go here.

I am Sassy Esposa (Sassy Wife)
Twice voted least likely to make an edible meal.

"Baking is a contact sport."

Jed is Sombra Sundance (Sundance Shadow)
Nine-time world champeen art mover extraordinaire.

"I don't need no stinkin' directions."

Annabel is Lynn Fabuloso (Fabulous Lynn)
Heading for a fifth year of unchallenged fortitude.

"I fed the fish."

and Silas is Chico de Cohotes (Kid Rocket)
Finishing up his novice ranking with tremendous strides in both strength and volume.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Life Imitates Art: The two-minute comedy special

my heart, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

ITTYBIT: Mommy! What's around your neck?

ME: It's a necklace. A friend in my mommies' group made it for me as a present with a picture I gave her of you guys.

ITTYBIT: Why are we just lines?

ME: Well, it was taken last year using only the light of the Christmas tree. I thought it was pretty striking.

ITTYBIT: (Pointing to the profile on the right) That one's ME, isn't it?

ME: Nope. That's your brother.

ITTYBIT: No, you're wrong, mom! It HAS to be me because I'm taller.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Music man

he's got a talented tush, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Silas,

I've been joking that you have a musical tush, but I just wanted you to know that I wasn't be metaphorical or gross, I was speaking literally. Hense the photographic evidence of you playing your sister's keyboard with your posterior.

You have the nubbins of four more teeth, bringing your total to eight in the headcount.

And that's not all your doing these days. In addition to climbing up on the kitchen stepstool, you are also saying please (prompted) and thank you (unprompted) for everything that's handed to you.

Your vocabulary is starting to expand. You can call us all by name: Mama, Dada, Bel, Maddy (who you also refer to, appropriately, as DOG! and GO!).

Of course cookie, chocolate, cracker and pretzels you refer to as the all-inclusive "CA-CA."

It's been tough, lately, since you've been down with the gastro-intestinal badness that is making its way around the world. You've kind of been your usual smily self, but with a mix of "Surley, Frustrated Boy" thrown in to keep us guessing.

This morning, however, I never saw even a glimpse of SFB at the breakfast table, and you ate - without spitting out in various locations around the house - an entire bowl of Rice Chex, so my guess is we won't be seeing much of him around unless you're tired or your sister won't let you play with the Leapster she got recently for her birthday.

Of course you are still amusing. You will try an repeat almost everything we say (unless we ask you directly) and it usually comes out either sounding lost in translation or a battle of wills:

Merry Christmas = May Kiss
Dinner = Do
Play = Pay
Eat = NO!
Shoes = NO!
Diaper Change = NO!

But there are times when you know exactly what you want:

Bye = Bye!
Milk = Milk
NO! = NO!

There's also the thing where everything is "mine." You sound like those Stepford gulls from "Finding Nemo."

Your dad is teaching you to ask for "boob" instead of "milk."

I'm only telling you that because he thinks this is funny, and who knows what he's going to be telling the first girl you bring home to meet us. I suppose I just wan't you to know it wasn't ME who drilled it into your lexicon is all.

There's so much you can do, it's hard to forget your growing up.

You can put on one shoe (I'm sure you can put on the other one, too, you just choose to limp around the house unevenly). You can turn off the television at the crucial moment when the surprise ending is near (driving your sister insane). You can bang around on the computer getting the train in Kneebouncers to show you its crazy cargo. And you can play peek-a-boo with the next table at breakfast.

You are also learning to sing along on one of your sister's favorite songs.

Together, you're singing it loud every morning on the daily commute, and oddly enough, the screaming, laughing indecipherable lyrics are music to my ears.



Monday, December 22, 2008

So ...

no really! this just looks CRAZY, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

How was your weekend?

Our's was pretty smooth ... even if I do think the person who looked at a pair of boots and thought putting wheels on them would be fun might have been a few apples shy of a bushel.

But that's just me -- your old friend, stick-in-the-mud -- waving from the sidelines.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


cupcake, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

You can say it. I won't be offended.

You would have married him, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another reason to wish her birthday was in July

tree lights, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

There are NO PLANES leaving Detroit.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't concern me. However, on this day one of them tin birds in Motor City was winging a very special Ama Linda to our side of the country for the briefest of brief stays.

And we just got word her flight's been cancelled.

Having already told the little miss that her Ama would be here tonight, and at her birthday party tomorrow, I'm not looking forward to going home and saying: "well ...?"

THIS is exactly the reason SMART parents spring surprises on their children. They don't even tell the kids grandma is on her way in when they see her making her way up the walk lest she slip on a crack and have to be rushed to the ER.

They WAIT until gran's gotten into the house and taken off her coat, and even then they let her yell SURPRISE in her own special way.

Why steal thunder? The stuff will only make you deaf, anyway.

We've still got Christmas in a week. She'll be back for that for sure.

Of course then there's the lightning. And you know what they say about lighting rarely strikes twice?


What do they know?

Too bad the travel holidays aren't all in July.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interrupting the regularly scheduled Random Question Thursday to note

sunday 7 a.m ., originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Annabel turns 5 -- that's F.I.V.E. -- today at exactly 7:14 p.m.

Even she doesn't believe it.

"Are you sure I'm five?"

Didn't we have this talk last year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A gift for the weary

I've been cleaning up various bodily fluids, in a variety of forms, for the past few days. Last night I was treated to a surprise explosion of vomit from the boy, who previously had been improving, as I was bringing him to bed.

The mess spread through three rooms. Even when I got him to the bathroom ... or the sink. ... or a bucket, the kid had no idea I've done so in order for there to be less putrid for me to cleanup later. He's poker straight, spewing forward. Trying to get him to curl up even enough to point his mouth in the right direction is like trying to bend iron.

So when Annabel appeared in the middle of the night, I resigned myself to being a third-shift worker in the sick house: part nurse, part orderly, and, with my own gurgling stomach, part patient.

She said she had a "bad dream," but I suspected their might be more to it. I instructed her to go and get her pillow and blanket and we'd camp out on the couch, watching the tail end of 27 Dresses.

A few minutes later, she's off the couch and running. By the time I got to the bathroom she'd already managed to position herself right over the bowl. All I had to do was rub her back until her stomach had emptied, give her glass of water to rinse her mouth and wipe her face with a warm cloth.

Not only does she know the cues that would lead a person to fleet-foot it to the commode, but it's pretty apparent that she's chewing her food pretty well, too.

Growing up sure has it's pluses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today I was (this) close to feeling sorry for myself

the finger(s), originally uploaded by toyfoto.

We've been without power (but not without generator) since Friday morning. Effectively this puts us back, I'd say, somewhere in the affluent '50s. Our refrigerator is running, but there's not much else in the way of ammenities:

We're washing dishes by hand

We're able to watch television but not cable. And as a result of limited light we're turning in early.

We're cooking on a hotplate.

The laundry has to wait until the power returns or we can schlep ourselves to the Laundromat, which mightn't be soon as:

I've had a sore throat for two days.

Silas got some vomity illness Sunday night that is inconsistently realized (usually in the middle of the night when the generator has quit or run out of gas).

I will be wearing my prom dress to work tomorrow (If I can muster the will to drag my sorry-for-my-Self out of bed again) because the laundry is piling up with aforementioned vomity duds and no way to launder them until the power comes back up or Silas musters enough vim to make it through a trip to the local Sit and Spin.

I went to a doctors' appointment today and learned that my insurance isn't accepted anymore. I had to pay the full boat and submit the claim myself. Even the lady in the checkout area looked shocked for me when she whispered the total: $180.

So much for health insurance.

I got to work and learned our struggling company will - as of January - stop contributing to our 401Ks (that are only two years old) in order to get itself in better fiscal standing.

So much for retirement.

There's more, but I won't bother you with it. It'll just make me wish I were home with my vomity boy and my silly husband and my ice princess daughter. I'll just try and count the one blessing this week had in store for me:

I filled the gas tank up from empty (for the first time in I can't remember how long) for under $20.

Although, I'll tell you, the cost of petrol isn't going to change my primary philosphy of NOT taking any uncessesary trips.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frozen world

price freeze, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Woke up this morning to the sound of ice sliding off the metal roof.

"WHAT! was THAT!?," asked Annabel, who had taken advantage of her father's travels to sleep in our bed.

"Ice sliding off the roof," I answered matter-of-factly.

It was cold, the heat hadn't kicked on. Silas was still in a warm little heap between us.

I checked the clock. It was dark and empty.

No power.

Nothing to do but dress and leave; maybe there'd be electricity at the babysitter's house. I phoned. Nope. But she's got a fireplace and a gas stove, so there's heat.

Our ghosts -- the ones we'd hung from our two mighty black walnut trees but didn't take down after halloween -- had fallen to the lawn with dozens of tree limbs.

The firetruck had blocked the road so I decided to turn right and see the rest of the neighborhood. Trees and limbs downed everywhere.

"What kind of world is this?" exclaimed Annabel from the backseat. And then she was silent. The whole car was silent for a moment until she answered her own question.

"It looks like a beautiful FROZEN world."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random questions Thursday ...

dukes of hazard, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

How old were you when you got your first pet?

What was it? What did you name it? Did you take care of it (like you promised you would) or did your mom end up feeding the poor thing before it starved to death?

I was about seven or eight when my dad took my sister and me to the home of one of the farm families who attended our church.

I can still remember walking into their barn and seeing a moving ball of fuzzy heads and wiggly keisters. I was giddy. I couldn't really believe what was happening: We were going to get a dog of our very own.

I think every rural community has this sequence as part of its cultural identity: A well-known farmer's much beloved dog, which isn't spayed and has at least one litter a year until she meets her maker, has about eight of the cutest, fluffiest, nicest puppies you-ever-did-see. When the pups get old enough to leave their mom, a cardboard sign gets pinned to a tree: "FREE PUPPIES." Since the mother dog and its previous spawn of nicest-dogs-on-earth (not to be confused with the smartest kid from eighth grade math), the new pups are in hot demand.

This particular blend of farm bitch was a St. Bernard-collie mix, and she was sweet.

Somehow we managed to leave with the very one they'd considered keeping -- The runt: a mostly white fluff ball with a few large tan splotches and a curvy tail of cascading fur. If we hadn't known she'd been born on that farm to an brown mutt and whatever managed to get over the fence, we might have mistaken her for a Great Pyrenees.

We named her Sheba. And she cried for hours that first night until mom couldn't stand it any more and put her in the garage, where she'd fallen asleep immediately. She was a barn dog through and through.

But she was also a family dog, her care was a family endeavor; my dad fed her (for the most part), my mom cleaned up after her (especially when she was sick), and I taught her to sit, to stay and to heel.

She roamed all over the neighborhood, and to places that seemed too far for a dog to go all by herself ... especially when she was always home at 3 o'clock to meet the bus and walk us home.

She was a kind of magical dog, too, some of her exploits etched in our family's lore. We all remember the day when mom looked into the refrigerator and made the grand announcement that she was out of bread. She'd have to sent us out the door that day with money for the school cafeteria instead of sandwiches. When we'd gathered our coats, and boots and bookbags and were ready to trudge to the busstop -- dollars in pocket and dreams of Turkey and Tator Tots -- we were all surprised to see the dog sitting on the other side of that door, carefully holding a loaf of bread in her mouth and looking up at my mother. It was an offering nabbed, no doubt, off the back of a truck delivering to the grocery store one block away.

We all loved that dog.

**Coming soon ... I forgot to look through old pictures that I might scan. So perhaps tomorrow, I'll show you my first dog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hair today ... still grow'n tomorrow

Mature, dad, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

It was going to be a busy day: dance lessons, a date with Santa, a holiday craft workshop AND a playdate.

To fit one more thing in between the time slots, we'd need Vaseline and a shoehorn.

Jed made breakfast for the kids and coffee for me -- as is his usual morning routine when he doesn't have to rocket out the door before the crack of dawn -- and then turned to me and suggested we add a trip to the barbershop to our itinerary.

HIM: Hey? I have to get my hair cut. Why don't we stop by Scotty's on our way out of town. I'll take Silas, it can be a two-fer."

ME: *Bugged-eyed Silence.*

HIM: I just pissed in your Christmas stocking, didn't I?

ME: Yup! Sounds about right.

Jed has it in his head that I'm going to be one of THOSE mothers who let their boys hair grown down to their feet, tempting all sorts of school yard bullies (not to mention the high-pitched praise of the stranger-ladies wanting to know the age of our precious little girl.)

He's not entirely wrong.

At 17 months (and discounting each and every day until the very hour of his 18th month milestone ) I'm just not ready to excise Silas' baby-like locks. In my mind to do so would give up the baby and replace him with a real boy.

I've made all kinds of bargains with myself.

When the hair is in his eyes. ...
When it just looks too scraggly ...
When it stands on end ...

(Ok ... that last one has happened on numerous occasions, but a little No More Tears and some fingers combing through the Alfalfa-like protrusions normally does the trick).

I know it's not going to last forever. He doesn't have that beautiful, rock-star thick hair with curling tendrils that inspired legions of groupies. His hair is like mine; fine and thin with only a slight humidity-styled wave. His tresses are more like some buffoon of a billionaire.

I'm just not ready to see my baby turn into a boy in the course of a haircut. Just not yet.

ME: Why can't we wait until he's two?

HIM: "Well, O.K. But lets let him just see me get mine cut. Then he can see it doesn't hurt."

I agreed and we moved our clownshow from the warmth of the house to the cold of the street, and finally the brief stillness as we climbed the steep stairs of the second-floor barbershop.

Silas was the only one who was silent as we took over the waiting room, and waited our turn. Even the television blared sports scores over the non-stop chatter of men, scissors and suggestions.

When it was Jed's turn, Silas wasn't having any of it.

I knew he'd be on my side. He is, after all, my son.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Adding insult to irony

The only reason I ever thought of buying a shopping cart cover was to pad the skinny little wires, which, from my vantage point as an adult, look mighty uncomfortable for small tushes. But then I'm always shoving my coat, or their coats, hats and all manner of pillowy belongings in right beside them anyway.

But physicial comfort is not what the makers of these cute little liners are selling us; they're selling us supposed protection from the big, bad germ bugs looming on the handlebar; leftover, no doubt, from the unwashed, diaper diving hands of some other mother's little heathen.

That's what they're selling.

Of course, according to, with this particular cover -- The Shop 'n Learn Cart Cover made by Fisher Price -- you also get 153 parts per million of lead, 240 parts per million of bromide and 19 parts per million of Arsenic.

Kinda glad I opted for the common cold.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

happy snow

Is there anything better the snap of winter with a fresh dusting of snow in which to make snow angels?

Perhaps snowball fights, catching snowflakes on your tongue, the building of snowmen or an afternoon of snowshoeing or skiing are just as good.

However, the only thing that even comes close to those is that mug of hot chocolate and peppermint stick waiting for you in the kitchen when you come in from the cold.

The only way to love winter is to get out and play in it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Planning for lack of planning

low down

I’ve got birthdays on the brain.

Most people are probably thinking about Christmas, wishing it were New Year’s Eve already so they can just drown their sorrows in some sweet and tasty beverage.

Not me. I'm planning a gigantic moving party for a soon-to-be five-year-old who wants to usher in her last months as a preschooler rolling around a gigantic skating rink with a minimum of 30 of her closest friends.

Total cost $350.

Really? For a child's birthday party?

Yup. Said so right there in the contract.

"Includes: rink admission, skate rental, private skate for two hours, sheet cake, pizza and two choices of beverage."

It’s what some might call overcompensating for an original lapse in planning.

See, when we decided to have children somehow it never occurred to us that the baby would likely arrive nine months (give or take) after the proverbial rabbit died.

When the doctor smiled and told me Ittybit’s due date I realized my first mistake as a new mom.

A Christmas BIRTHDAY! Really?

Really ... says so right there in the calculator.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Random question Thursday ...

07 psv ornaments in 08

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

We live in a town where Santa actually visits each and every child in their own home.

A Christmas elf from the community arranges it with parents beforehand, gets all the fact-finding information the big guy needs for his visit and tells you 'round about what time to expect his horse-powered "sled" to pull up in your driveway.

And being Santa and all, he won't let you wait around like the cable guy sometimes does. He is jolly-well punctual.

Not to mention, when he arrives he brings a healthy snack, a juice box and an age-appropriate toy for each child he visits.

It's an amazing little slice of mid-century Americana, born from war-era frugality, that has somehow continued into the modern era. The town elders (in our case the fire department) collect monetary donations year-round and canvas residents to see who'd like Santa to drop by for a visit. It doesn't matter if you're wealthy or poor, this particular Santa's an equal opportunity elf.

So now it's your turn ... spill it. I'm looking to absorb some new holiday traditions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fresh air

For the past three years and then some, I've been pasting little bits and pieces of my life -- and the lives of my family -- here in the vast bloggesphere.

Ittybits and Pieces began the way most baby books get their start: I wanted to keep the memories of my children alive in words and pictures, and in a place I would always know where to retrieve them. I wanted my children to be able to find them, too, one day if and when they are interested.

Although I write hoping to be read -- because I am a writer and that's what writers do -- I also continually reevaluate how I'm meeting that mission. I am constantly holding myself back, chastising myself for going outside the lines. But I know this business of living and writing and recordkeeping is messy stuff. I trust time to sort it out.

However, in October of last year, the people who pay me to sit behind a computer terminal in a newsroom and design pages, proof copy, write a couple of columns and do whatever else has needed doing (dependent on the day) asked me to link my blog to their Web site.

Newspapers, as you know, are struggling. And they’re looking for new ways to get readers and revenue. Blogs are in demand. (Maybe not mine so much, but you see my point).

I was hesitant. ... Another reevaluation. Would it change my mission, which has always been intensely personal, intensely focused on putting MYSELF on the page in a way that my children might one day be able to discover me as the woman I think I am? Would it get messy? Sure it's my blog but it's their dime.

I could see a time when ownership of the words became an issue.

Already there had been overlap. The blog I was producing personally had proved invaluable to informing the column I write professionally.

Yet, like the clutter that piles up in our real lives, there IS so much on the periphery of this blogspot room -- namely the ads, and bells and whistles and gizmos piling up (which is also a part of me ... you should see the contents of my CAR!) -- that it becomes difficult to parse "readerships" and "ownerships" and who's paying whom and who owns what and on and on and on.

You see the dilemma. My blog preceded the business, but the business pays the bills.

And yet, aside from all of that, I’ve come to believe that by inviting the newspaper's readership to join me three-quarters of the way through the party (so to speak) they may have gotten lost and overwhelmed by the weight of the past.

You see, they've known my children for the past three years only as "Ittybit" and "The Champ" (formerly "Thing 2") as they sat down with their Sunday papers and thumbed their way to the back to follow our pursuits.

So I think now is the time to open the windows and clear the air, which is why I've decided to start a mirror image of Ittybits and Pieces for the newspaper.

Ittybits & Pieces will always be my baby, and it's not going away. But Tiny Babel will be here, too.

And for those readers from The Record who really haven't been properly introduced to my children ... Please allow me to rectify that:

Please meet Annabel and Silas.


Ittybit and Champ.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

G'morning son shine

Dear Silas,

It's going to be a good day.

Unless you knock over the tree that your sister worked so very hard to decorate this past Sunday.

Yes. I know it's just barely December. But after her Academy Award worthy performance of the Nutcracker -- she danced with dramatic flair (and what seemed to be four-part harmony) -- the point of which was making yours truly buy the earliest cut tree EVER in the history of this household. ... What could I do?

It was either get the tree or watch the "Barbie Nutcracker" DVD for the zillionth time. And saying 'No' to decorating it after the Royal WE had hauled the dang thing upstairs and cemented it into its stand would have had the same effect as trying to stop train barreling down an an icy track.

No one wants that.

But I digress.

Back to you, and the thing you've started doing ... hurtling yourself into the tree from your lowly position on that little pushcar you so love.

Please, just don't do it. Ok?

Because if you continue to charge headfirst at the evergreen, we shall have to wrap you in a duct tape leash, measured precisely to stop your forward catapult one measly little foot away from the stately fir. (Picture the tree holding a midget at arm's length and you will get the drift of what I'm trying to get at here).

Of course I realize you may need a sweet incentive, so here's the deal: If you stay away from the lights and the baubles, I will make waffles.

You like waffles.

Fluffy, hot waffles bathed in maple syrup are SO much better than some dumb old tree that's sticky with pine sap, anyway!

Wishing you love and soft landings,


Monday, December 01, 2008

My heart's center

heart center, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Annabel,

You will soon be five.

In any other message I would bemoan the fact that you are growing up. I would wonder where the time went. Five years is no time at all but, by the same token, it's an eternity.

But I am not sad that you are growing up. I don't miss the baby you were as much as I love the girl you are right now. I love that you are so curious, that you are not shy. I love that you are so interested in the world around you.

You've gone from a tiny baby to a tiny little girl. I'm still able to tote you about; swing you around, but you are heavier in my arms. I have to take breaks and regroup my strength. I have to employ the "mommy's tired" approach to such activities in earnest.

I know that you are dealing with a lot of growing up stuff right now. There are frustrations. There are miscommunications. There are some bad days that end with fewer books read at bedtime and angry "Goodnights" ... more of a command for silence than a wish for sweet dreams.

I am not proud of this. I AM the adult. I DO know better.

It may not seem like it, but whenever there is sadness on your face it settles in my heart.

You should know that while I don't consider you an "easy" child, I love you for all your complexity.

You are sensitive, robust and inquisitive. You are kind and loving. I hope you are resilient, too. I know that any effort people make on your behalf will be repayed with interest.

I know I can't always protect your feelings, even from my own thoughtless outbursts. But I know that I love you always and forever.
And I woudn't want you to be anyone else.

You are my heart's center.