Monday, November 30, 2009

How 'EASY' crafts look when made by the not-so-crafty

heart felt letters

Well, from this distance they look pretty good, actually.

I got the idea for these felt letters at Better Homes and Gardens. I thought they'd look nice on the tree.

It took the whole family (and Silas, who uneventfully found three missing tapestry needles) and one afternoon to complete seven letters.

I just printed Helvetica letters at a 600-point font size for use as a template. We used regular embroidery floss for the stitches.

Stuffing them was a little more difficult. First I tried stuffing them in increments, and then I tried finishing most of the sewing before attempting to stuff in the batting. It was kind of a draw as to which was better. I found the stick end of a paintbrush was instrumental in getting the stuffing in the right places.

We're going to attempt a few more for teacher gifts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Potty Mouth


There's nothing worse than refering to a bench in one's dinning room as "The OUTHOUSE."

Well, maybe the fact that the children think it's fun to play in the "Outhouse" is worse.

Although, what do I know? I seem to have no trouble "doing business" under a photograph of "The Fall 2003 PROBABLE Champions" of Chatham's Over-30 Soccer Team.

downstairs bath

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good days, bad days and holidays

We might not be sitting around a table this Thanksgiving day, sharing a meal and a laughing with our families, though that was the plan.

Early this morning, just as I was getting to sleep, Ittybit woke up, sick. Every 20 minutes since she's been up wretching some small amount of stomach acid almost into the toilet. Almost.

As soon as the time softens the fright of the phone, we'll be making some calls to tell people that maybe they should not come to the house of ill repuke after all.

We'll add the disappointment to a growing list of concerns.

We know life isn't always roses, often it is thorny.

But we'll still be thankful ...

Even if we're eating Cheerios and milk come dinner time.

We know we are blessed with Works-Too-Hard Dad, and Little Sick Miss, and Mad Boy Bites Occasionally.

We wouldn't trade our incontinent, geriatric mongrel for any other pedigreed pooch.

And though I call her Stupid Cat, she's Lovable, too.

I'm thankful every time I look at my kids, when they're screaming or running around like banshees. They are people I'd never imagined I'd ever meet, and now can't imagine life without.

I'm thankful for you folks, who have spoken up. And for those who just read silently.

I'm thankful for time and space and hope.

I'm thankful for this joyful mess.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bucking the norm since 2003

Losing her two front teeth was more in line with what she wanted this Christmas.

Mission accomplished!

Plus, as and added bonus ...

Two days later a lateral incisor wriggled its way out of her mouth and under her pillow.

For those keeping score, five baby teeth have made Ittybit $25 richer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Throwing the book at holiday shopping

I know it’s not too early to be thinking of holiday shopping …

*Looks, behind her … to the left … pretty much all around …*

I just feel a little weird about writing "Holiday" and "Shopping" in the same sentence BEFORE Thanksgiving.

But I feel I must, since the nice folks at Simon and Schuster sent me a few books for review and my kids ripped the packages out of my Mom-Fu-GripTM, demanded I read them every night since their arrival, and made me retool my disclosure statement.*



Ittybit took one look at David Carter’s latest book and started jumping up and down. "It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs! It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs!" she screamed.

She’s loved Carter’s "Peekaboo Bugs: A Hide-and-Seek Book" since she was barely a year old. So his "Snow Bugs," with its familiar bug-eyed characters and its beautiful metallic sheen, was a welcome addition to her collection despite the fact that’s she’s starting to read on her own.

Her reaction to "Snow Bugs," however, paled in comparison to her enthusiasm for "White Noise," his simultaneously released pop-up book, modeled it seems after the mid-20th century Modern art movement hallmarked by such masters as Alexander Calder and Paul Klee. The book, which is meant to be touched, is beautiful in its clean-edge simplicity but also riveting for its playability. Readers will notice the tiny tinkle of dangly paper bits, the crinkle of folded papers and the whimsical ricochet of a paper xylophone right off, but word of warning: once your kidlets learn they can use the book to amplify their voices … look out. You might want to start bedtime a full hour earlier. White Noise, $23 Snow Bugs $12, both published by Little Simon.

Similarly fond of the "David" series by David Shannon, Silas has been glued to the illustrator’s latest picture book: "Robot Zot!" Written by Jon Scieszka, The slightly skewed figures of the tiny but destructive alien Robot Zot, who finds foes in the kitchen of a middle class household (such as the blender and the coffee pot) easily conquered. Robot Zot also makes light work of destroying the toothpaste-shilling television foe only to find his circuitry slightly rewired has he finds a damsel in need of saving -- a toddler toy. The illustrations are breathtaking and carry the story forcefully from page to page, even though the story could lose a few lines for simplicity’s sake.

Spoiler alert: Silas was a little worried Robot Zot would bring harm to the family’s curious little black lab, but relieved when the pup was lifted to safety by the gigantic Dad.

The dog, however, does not seemed to be saved for long as the wordless end page shows the forlorn looking canine surrounded by the appliance detritus as an angry Dad looms overhead.

As the boy is breathing a sigh of relief, I am laughing my fool head off: Everyone blames the dog. Published by Simon and Schuster, $18.


"A Child’s Book of Faeries," Celtic tales from the British Isles are retold by Tanya Robyn Batt and illustrated by Gail Newey. Children of all ages will be introduced to the enchanting, if not dark mischief, of old-world faeries. The book, published by Barefoot Books, features an audio CD that is perfect for long car rides. Hardcover, 64 pages. $20.

"The Best Pet Of All," elegantly written by David LaRochelle, and with retro-styled illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama, is a seemingly straight-forward story of a little boy who wants a dog, but, when his mom says ‘NO!,’ settles for a dragon. How bad could a dragon be? Find out as the charmingly simple tale of a childhood rite of passage takes you down an unfamiliar path. Dutton Juvenile, 32 pages. $17.

What little girl doesn’t love Fancy Nancy? Not mine, that’s for sure. I picked up "Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire," last summer, and in addition to the introduction of new vocabulary words, the book is packed with information about flora and fauna. It was even helpful in calming the heebie-jeebies Ittybit gets from garden-variety creepy crawlies. Even a trashcan full of flies didn’t turn our new reader’s stomach. Published by Harper-Collins, 32 pages. $13.

Yoga Pretzels: This 50-card pack has been a staple at our house for mother-daughter yoga sessions. It offers a complete yoga practice from warm up through relaxation, and it helps Ittybit run the class. She picks the poses and off we go. At $15, the set is a bargain for any yoga enthusiast in your life.


*Disclosure: I had planned to donate all new books received for review from publishing houses to the Pajama Program. Since my kids have fallen in hot, germy love with them, however, I have arranged with one of my favorite independent book sellers, Politics and Prose, to send equivalent books to the organization. As luck and timing would have it, my favorite bookshop hosted David Carter earlier this month and the books will be signed by the author.

Since it’s not only the Christmas season but also the danger season, I urge you to support this wonderful organization, which provides new pajamas and books to kids in homeless shelters and who are new to foster care.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I've never seen this smile before


No doubt, this is what happens when she's NOT ignoring the photographer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spirit of the season is what you make of it

By now I thought I'd be a seething mass of rage about public eduction.

I thought I'd be one of the parents beating down the door at Kindergarten demanding to know exactly what was behind the thought process of making kids color trees realistically instead of imaginatively.

I expected to roll my eyes every time some piece of paper made its way home that asked us to buy-bring-donate something toward the mission of establishing school spirit.

I didn't expect to find it all so charming. I didn't expect to love how the teachers talk to the kids, or get their attention, or encourage their participation.

I also didn't think I'd actually want my kid to wear pajamas to school when she would rather not.

But. Here were are. Spirit day.

pj day at school

Now ... back to a little eye-rolling.

All hale the spirit of the season: Profits

Bah humbug.
Before the last of the Halloween spiders were summarily swept from store shelves, shopkeepers dusted their stock with the downy flake of polystyrene snow. JCPenney trademarks "Joy of Giving," and economists are wringing their hands, predicting a sad year for retailers, as shoppers vow to live within their means.

Can anyone really blame us for wanting to rain a little on the retailers’ parade?
This Saturday why not help the Nimbostratus clouds open up by attending the Buy Local Bash from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Troy Atrium, 297 River St.

The bi-annual vendor fair features 50 businesses from Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties including food producers, potters, jewelers, clothiers, health services and more. North Country acoustic duo Eddy and Kim Lawrence will perform live music. A $10 donation is suggested.

Why not rewrap last year’s toys?

Take the kids to the Albany Institute of History and Art’s 100th Anniversary celebration of the Albany mummies, featuring a talk by Egyptogist Peter Lacovara this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

In addition to new exhibits and lectures, there will be plenty of hands-on, art-making opportunities for the kids. Children are also encouraged to bring toys from home to recreate the mummification process in the museum studio.

Lacovara, senior curator at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emerson University, will speak at 2 p.m. He will lead a discussion about the mummy Ankenfenmut, his coffin and the connections the Capital Region has with ancient Egypt.

The event is included with paid admission, $10 for adults $8 students, seniors $6, children under 12 children younger than 6, free.


Thanksgiving weekend is being heralded by AIH&A with a series of free events beginning Friday, Nov. 27 and running through Sunday, Nov. 29.

Come see the new exhibits during this admission-free weekend. There will also be special events on each of the three days.

On Friday from noon to 4 p.m. drop in to the art studio and create a 12-inch texture tile there will be storytelling from 1 to 3 p.m. by museum educators and docents and a lecture at 2 p.m. by award-winning author James Bruchac, about Native American storytelling.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday there will be a musical performance and book signing with Hudson Talbott. Students from the region will perform selections of his book "River of Dreams," an adapted story of the Hudson River that tells its history through song.

From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, learn about fresh water fish and create "gyotaku" – an 18th century Japanese art form that combines fish and printmaking. It appears the museum will be using three-dimensional models instead of fresh fish.

Don’t miss a special performance by fifth graders at Giffen Memorial Elementary School, who will perform a hip-hop composition under the direction of teacher Jeremy Dudley. Dudley (also known as Origin) has been teaching at Giffen for nine years, and is a three-time winner of the Best Hip-Hop Artist in the annual Metroland readers’ poll. The students' piece recognizes AIH&A’s exhibition: Hudson River Panorama, 400 Years of History, Art and Culture and the 400th anniversary of the river’s exploration.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shutting the door

It's been a week or so since I've had my main camera, having sent it off in a package to New York City so that someone in a repair shop can cut and paste in new parts.

It's been a while longer since it has worked properly. Mostly I muscled through, appologizing to people for the random clicks that just didn't sound right as every other frame the shutter stuck open.

In the past when I've been without my main camera, I've felt anxious and edgy. Missing something important in my life.

But when I sent it off this time, with it's cracked gaskets and sticking mechanisms, I felt relief. I didn't want to haul the heavy body here and there; or drag it out at the mortification of my children. I didn't want to be the official photographer of our lives or someone elses.

I thought I might even break out the film cameras, or the toy ones that once intrigued me enough to make it a moniker. But I didn't.

I took a few snaps with the old camera, and actually said "NO" a few times to my kids, who asked for me to take a picture of something or other.

Today, as I trucked over to the FedEx office to retrieve the package containing my reconditioned camera, I realized I wasn't excited to have it back.

I didn't dig it out and affix a lens.

I didn't test it to see if it was in better working order.

I just trusted it would work when I needed it to.

Then I tucked it away in the back of the trunk and shut the door.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seriously ...



I wish my mind worked this way creatively and not just appreciatively.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How bland would life be ...

without sugar ...

and spice?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to make a grown man (nearly) cry


BE THE TEACHER THAT TELLS HIM: "Your daughter is delightful. When she sees another student is all alone or not having a good day, she makes a point to go and play with THEM on the playground. She's a great influence on the other kids."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep cycles


I remember the last time I slept through the night.

It was Thursday, last week.

It was a fluke made possible by hope and the husband.

Prior to that, the last time I recall sleeping six consecutive hours was a few weeks before The Champ was born.

Lately the sleep deprivation has been so horrible, though, I've missed the real baby baby-days when naps just seemed constant and an appropriate amount of sleep could be achieved by collecting it throughout a 24-hour cycle.

The night routine, however, goes something like this:

6 p.m. Dinner.

7 p.m. Bath. Act out a pre-apocalyptic version of Waterworld using two wooden salad bowl "boats" and three bendy straws. Brush Teeth. Dress for bed. (No one is really sure which chore is done in which order as most of the time pajamas are wet).

8 p.m. Reading.

8:30 p.m. Bed.

8:30 until ? Mom (sometimes dad) sleeps in toddler bed until sleep sets in. Could be five minutes could be an hour and five minutes. It's a crapshoot.

10 p.m. (regardless of when child fell asleep) Parent will unpretzel them self from the sleep position made famous by a sloth in the Movie Ice Age, and tiptoe downstairs to finish one of 3,000 ordinary household chores that have piled up.

10 p.m. and two seconds Itty-bitty will awake and ask for water ... or why the parent trying to sneak away down the stairs didn't stop in and say a final "good night."

10:30 p.m. Parent who may (or may not) have finished washing the dishes will tiptoe back upstairs and go to bed.

10:35 p.m. Dog will bark at the bottom of the stairs until one of two adult humans gets out of bed and shows the dog that the gate HAS, in fact, been left open.

11 p.m. Dog will finally settle down after walking around the second floor, looking for toilets to drink out of and food to eat.

11:05 p.m. Dog will bolt up for no reason and run to the other side of the room.

11:30 p.m. Dog will resettle.

Between midnight and 1 a.m. The Champ will wake up and start crying.

He will not be consoled.

1:15 a.m. The parent who tried to get him back to sleep will bring him to bed.

1:30 a.m. He will sleep.

2 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 2:45 a.m., 3 a.m., 3:15 a.m. The Champ will want to nurse.

At 4 a.m. cat will crawl into the mom's hair and lay down.

4:01 a.m. through 5:30 a.m. Mom will try to get the cat to sleep on the dad while simultaneously trying to get The Champ to fall asleep.

She will lose.

From 5:30 a.m. through 6 a.m. The boy will want to nurse.

On alternating days of the week, which might potentially line up with the tides of the moon, the dog will become incontinent and require the work of a hazmat team during the above-mentioned hours as well. (Last night was one such occasion. I'll spare you the details.)

*You are welcome.*

From 6:30 a.m. until 7 a.m. the non-sleeping boy will want to sleep.

7 a.m. The mother - who no longer understands herself when she speaks - will get up, untangle the cat from her hair and try to take a shower.

7:05 a.m. The hot shower and warm suds will make the mother feel somewhat human again. She may even sing.

7:08 a.m. The daughter -- all tousle-haired and unintending – will sneak into the bathroom and sit quietly on the commode. She will say 'Good morning, mommy' and then will flush the toilet. Singing will stop.

And thus begins another day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ernie, Bert, Big Bird ... You don't seem a day over 5

For those of you living under a (Fraggle) Rock: Sesame Street turns 40 today.

The Big FOUR-O!

So much has changed on the program since I was a young viewer:

The set has sloughed its gritty, inner-city edge;

Ernie and Bert have lost their furry-puppetness;

And even Cookie Monster has been compelled to eat vegetables.

Characters have come and gone. Most notably when the real-life death of actor Will Lee caused the Children’s Television Workshop’s progressive decision to allow Mr. Hooper – his character – to die on the show.

It was riveting television for children and adults. It still is.

Perhaps what makes Sesame Street so successful as a television show is that it is consistently changing while still protecting its mission to provide quality children’s programming focused on education.

It has interwoven cognitive curriculum with current events, social awareness and multiculturalism. It has taken risks and held to core values.

And though each of us – myself included – can point to at least one thing on Sesame Street that ruffles our feathers, what we can’t deny is that the educational experiment has been a rousing success for not only generations children but their parents, too.

Sesame Street didn’t let us off easy. It wasn’t just an address we could park our kids to get things done. It was a place where questions brought more questions. Sometimes tough ones to hear, and tougher to answer.

I didn’t look forward to telling my then four-year-old why her favorite character at that time – Mr. Noodle’s brother Mr. Noodle – had no new episodes. He’d died the year she was born.

But I told her about Michael Jeter's death, in much the same way Gordon told Big Bird why Mr. Hooper couldn’t come back.

I may have my petty issues with a lisping bear and a little red monster who refers to himself in the third person, but I can’t deny what each has meant to my kids.

I can only thank them for the gentle wisdoms they’ve offered throughout the years, and for being there when they really needed some monsters that weren't really that scary.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I believe, I believe, I believe

iv hand

Amy Wallace writes a blunt but factually accurate piece in Wired about how parents’ unfounded fear of vaccination is putting us all at risk for epidemic, and there is a sh*tstorm of response.

No one is really surprised, although Wallace claims she wasn’t prepared for the intensity and bullying tactics of some of the vitriolic responders.

I have to admit, however, because of this piece and because of the positive response it has also gotten, I’m feeling a little less afraid to say what I’ve been thinking about the subject all along.

I am not on the fence about most vaccines. I believe in them. I believe they, above most other forms of medical advances during the last 100 years, have made the quality of our lives better. I believe they still have tremendous potential.

I know there is a lot I don’t know. I know that there is a lot scientists don’t know and there will always be established understandings that study will overturn.

But I also think that if you take what parents don’t know about science and medicine and heap it into a gigantic pile and put a match to it we could heat the planet.

It kind of makes my head spin when folks point to their fears, such as the very slight risk of getting Guillain-Barre Syndrome from a flu vaccine as reason not to vaccinate, especially since Guillain-Barre is most often the direct result of illnesses such as flu and bacterial infection and is rarely linked with vaccine.

That’s not to say that there aren’t people who SHOULD NOT BE VACCINATED for certain things. That’s not to say that there won’t be rare and serious side effects, even death.

But it makes me a little crazy when folks point to the government and call it a vast left/right/center (whatever) wing cesspit of conspiracy and throw up a wall of disbelief at study after study that concludes no link between immunizations and autism. They don't trust anyone but themselves. Yet they will put their children through a litany of unstudied and potentially dangerous procedures -- such as chelation therapy – based on speculation.

A flu shot, especially when they are scarce and when flu mutates so rapidly leaving even the immunized somewhat unprotected, seems like a small thing compared to all that.

I can understand skipping the shot.

There has also been some compelling work in epidemiology that suggests flu vaccine doesn't really work to protect the people we'd most like to protect.

We do, after all, have choice.

And while I believe in immunization, I also believe in choice. I am cautious of new products. I am wary of firms that are the sole patent holders, as is the case of the vaccine to prevent HPV and some cervical cancers. I feel fortunate to have time to see what happens with that particular vaccine before the decision is at hand.

The risk vs. reward still seems unclear, especially since regular pap screening is still the single best way to prevent cervical cancer.

But for other illness -- ones that show up without warning or ways of prevention such as polio -- I think vaccinating as much of the population as has been done for generations is really important.

I believe Wallace is right. We have a feeling of safety from these illnesses because of vaccine. Wild polio infection hasn't been seen in this country in 20 years because of widespread vaccination. Africa, Asia and other developing nations still see polio infections regularly. And when you think how global we've become as a society, my guess is the gaps in vaccination will allow these devastating illesses to come right back eventually, just as we're slowly seeing the return of whooping cough and measles.

I understand fear. I am not immune to it. But I also try to keep it in check; I try to realize those fears aren’t coming from a rational place. I also try to realize communication is one of the most difficult things we will ever do as a society. I misinterpret all the time. I also see so many misinterpretations that it makes me wonder if we even know what the people we trust are saying.

Dr. William Sears, for instance, is often referred to as being a doctor who doesn't accept the safety of vaccine. Yet from my reading of his work, I think that assessment is utterly wrong. He wants children to be vaccinated. He's a proponent of vaccination, but he realizes there is fear. He believes that if parents had better control of when and how their kids were vaccinated the medical community would see better compliance. A lot of what he talks about is intended to make parents feel safer, not that they will be safer.

I view what he touts as a kind of a “Love and Logic” for parents. Give parents choices - choices that won’t put anyone in jeopardy - and they will take the path you want them to take. Yet for some it seems to just give credence to their fears.

And those fears seem to be leading many of us to thoughtless behaviors. Our children come first. We know what’s best. Damn the torpedoes. And that saddens me no end.

It pains me to talk about "underlying conditions" as if those with underlying conditions deserved what they got … I’m safe. We feel safe because we are healthy. We think those who are unhealthy are so by choice or lifestyle. But really, we are healthy because we are lucky not because we’ve been responsible.

We have responsibility to those around us who aren’t so blessed, and we shirk it time and time again. We are willing to risk the health of those with the underlying conditions, needlessly, because of philosophical and unfounded fears.

Seriously, if I can prevent another mother from sitting by the side of a hospital bed while their child is tethered up to IV lines because of rotavirus, like I did, I am happy to do it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

'That was me'

The real deal has been entertaining boys for centuries ... iFart Mobile has been doing it since 2008.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You and Media

sports section ... while waiting for the ferry

Not always but more and more often I cringe when I hear or read about "The Media."

Usually the reference is under the context of the Big, Bad Mainstream MediaTM blowing something out of proportion.

By way of disclosure, I must come clean and admit that I myself have been guilty of such thinking. In the 24-hour news circle of life what journalists cover often gets amplified in our collective psyche.

I roll my eyes like nobody's business when television talking heads put their best "I'm shocked" lilt in their voice as they jovially discuss the topic du jour.

One need only think about recent (and not-so-recent) "hammer heads" to understand and nod one's own head in stiff-necked anxiety: Terrorism, Abduction-Murder, Pandemic.

But then I think: Newspapers are dying! Professional media - people paid to research, edit and produce stories about current events - itself has become endangered.

I must also admit, it has been a while since I've watched television news, or read the New York Times from cover to cover. I can't remember the last time I sat down with The New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet without having been called into a doctor's office a few minutes later.

Like many folks these days, I get the majority of my news now from YOU in the bloggesphere.

Sure ... many of the links I click lead to stories in one Post or another. Some lead to peer-reviewed medical journals. But many lead to the great, big interconnected Web of us.

Whatever IT is, I -- like you, the new media -- Tweet and re-Tweet it; paste it into my Facebook page; put my concerns about it in essay form, complete with first-hand experience and links to other blogs. I discuss everything in minute detail, then show you where you, too, can find out more ... usually another blog. In addition to alerting others to the original news story, we provide analysis and directions on where to go to engage in heated argument.

These days, much of what I know about healthcare, foreign policy, parenting, shopping, corporate ethics, the common cold, vitamin D, green smoothies and how swine flu is spreading, has come from you - my Internet community.

Yes, we are the new media.

We pride ourselves in being smart, articulate and unafraid to speak our minds.

Some of us are journalists, that is true. Some of us are also doctors, scientists and statisticians. Those and many, many more of us, here in the ethosphere, however, are just folks with opinions.

Likewise, fewer and fewer of us (as a nation) are studying science or mathematics in school. Fewer of us even understand imperical formula. We trust our instincts and our inner voices. We look to pat each other on the back. We seek like minds.

So when we talk about the media and how it slants, when we point a finger, we should be looking in the mirror at ourselves.

We are the way information spreads.

Virally, imperfectly and with a heavy dose of bias.

When we speak of how the media is scaring the pants off of us, we must remember that while the message might have originated from The Big Bad MediaTM the interpretation likely came from a more "trusted" source: YOU and MEdia.

Monday, November 02, 2009

It rained, it poured, it stopped (wash, rinse, repeat)

oh man

Looking back over the last 72 hours, I'm not at all sure why I like Halloween.

We aren't talented at making costumes.

My camera isn't working properly.

Doesn't matter, I can count upon at least ONE of the kids not wearing their costume. And the other one to fight, tooth and nail, for the most illogical footwear ever. Neither will really let me take their pictures.

We are REALLY low-brow with decorations.

We get NO Trick-or-Treaters.

But that doesn't stop us from buying too much candy.

We spend all day trying to get normal things done around the house while Ittybit asks "Is it time to go Trick-or-Treating yet?" All. Day. Long.

Of course, then it rains.

And Ittybit's hard-fought-for-shoes make it impossible for her to keep up with the pack.

Which means getting caught in the rain, and getting drenched.

Which brings on tears.

And changes of plans.

And more tears.

And even when they are so exhausted that they can no longer keep their eyes open ...
No one sleeps.

First one. ...

And then the other ...

Make their way into our bedroom.

The dog barks until we let her in the room, too.

Then the cat creeps in.

And jumps on the dog.

Who jumps up with cat-like speed but old dog-like grace, and skitters around to the other side of the bed, where she circles and circles, her unclipped nails clicking against the floor, until she finally drops with an "ooomph."

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

All. Night. Long.