Quasimodo vs. Frankenstien

So, I play in this handbell choir at Christmastime.  This is what the bells look like:

These are the four bells that are in my charge:

This is me and my mom just before a performance (although I will admit that the black gloves don’t say “holiday music concert” so much as “bad heist movie.”  C’mon, Mom!  Grab your F7 and we’ll knock over a casino!):

And THIS is the text message I got from Brian 2 minutes before that performance:

We are at PCMC ER getting Wim stitches

ME: Whaaaaaa???  Also, WHAAAAA?!?!?

There was just enough time before the performance began for me to call and find out the details.  While Brian was getting the children in the car to take Jeffrey to his Tae Kwon Do class, Wimmy tripped and bashed his head against the corner of the big coffee table in our living room.

It wasn’t a big wound, but it was deep.  Off to the ER, ho!  With Jeffrey still in his Tae Kwon Do uniform, huzzah!

I raced home as soon as the performance was over (hope you enjoyed it, residents of Valley Mental Health).  They were just leaving the hospital when I got back to Salt Lake.  Wimmy had a nasty raw-looking thing on his forehead, laced up with that horrible black surgical thread.  Everyone praised him for his bravery (he didn’t cry a bit while the doctor sewed him up) and he was whisked off to bed.

Brian was the real hero, juggling four kids in the ER by himself.  I am so thankful for such a resourceful, trustworthy husband.  And I’m also so thankful that William was Frankenstien for Halloween.  It’s just a little too delicious that the kid with fake stitches is now the kid with real stitches.

Miss Snuffleupagus

Katie has started doing this thing where she squnches up her face and snuffles.  It only happens when she’s excited about something, not upset or unhappy.  Her face looks like this:

I even managed to get a squidgen of video showing Katie doing her snuffle thing.  But it’s brief.  I have many, many more videos of Katie surrounded by her siblings, all of whom are snuffling away, trying to get her to do it, too.  In fact, in this clip, you even hear me snuffling behind the camera, trying to get a repeat performance.

My parents are charmed by the snuffle face.  They say I used to do it, too, when I was a baby.  This is kind of nice to know, since Katie doesn’t look much like me or Brian.  It looks like she’s going to have gray eyes.  Gray!  Or maybe a gray-hazel . . . grazel?

More Gross Anatomy

William is very much in love with his little sister.  Last week, after the big siblings had gone off to school, William came and nestled up to where I was sitting with Katie.

“No Jeffrey, no Eleanor,” William whispered.  “I get Katie all to myself.”

However, just recently William has been appalled to discover that Katie is different from him in a fundamental way.  In a basic, anatomical way.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” he cried, hands on hips, as he examined Katie’s diaper changing.  “Where is it?  Is it tucked away up there?”

I found this both hilarious and odd, since William went through a long — perhaps over-long — phase of making lists of who in the family did and did not have a certain piece of male-ness.

He liked to declare this list loudly.  Especially whenever we were in a public restroom.

I explained to William that Katie is a girl, and in reply he crinkled his little brow.  “Katie is a girl?”


“She can’t be a girl.  She has short hair like a boy!”

Oh, the quandary.  This isn’t the first time I’ve had to explain Katie’s sex, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.  Hooray for gender socialization!

Allergies vs. Cold

The cottonwood is blooming, which means itchy eyes, a runny nose, and more sneezes than I know what to do with.  For me.  Nobody else is affected, which means I spend a lot of these sunny afternoons watching my children through panes of glass as they frolic in the backyard.

Katie, meanwhile, is dealing with her very first cold.  This means a runny nose and weepy red eyes for her.  It also means that if she’s awake, she needs to be held.  By somebody.  Most often, me.  You put her down?  WAAAAAAA!  (From her.  And then, me.)

I have essentially turned into a human Barcalounger for a three-month-old.  My activities are limited to what I can accomplish with only one hand:

1. reading

2. surfing the Internet

3. loading/unloading the dishwasher

4. goading children into homework/piano practice with a riding crop

Well, maybe not the riding crop.  But that’s about it.  I made an attempt to stir-fry green curry vegetables while holding Katie, and ended up accidentally dumping half of the vegetables on the floor.  Aaargh.  And keep in mind that during all this, I keep sneezing — and I’m a repeat sneezer, ricocheting off at least 5-7 sneezes with every go.  (My personal record?  23 sneezes in a row, set when I was fourteen.  It hurt.)

In other words, not a whole lot is getting accomplished around here.  But I’ve found that, when parenting newborns, one of the secrets of success is to have very low expectations for yourself.  Caring for the baby is the Main Job.  Everything else is just gravy, right?


If only I could convince my nagging sense of guilt that this were true.


I was feeling so smug, thinking I had finally managed to capture one of Katie’s smiles on camera.  But then I realized that Katie smiling . . .

. . . really isn’t all that different from Katie not-smiling . . .


. . . oh, well.   But I see the difference, and trust me, the smiles are cute.  They go a long ways towards moving her away from what I call the “Beardless Orson Welles” phase.

In the meantime, when I was downloading pictures off of my camera, I also found about fifty different variations of this photo:

This, according to Jeffrey, is titled “Blueberry Muffins in Mountain Landscape.”  The foil represents the mountains, and he referred to the muffins as “the villagers.”  Ah, there’s nothing better than child-created Outsider Art.  Do you know of any good examples?

Ten Days Old

My sister in law, Debbie, came over this past Monday to take photos of little Katie.  Here are some of the results: whaddya think?


I’m a big fan of the one where’s she’s crying.  Maybe because it makes her cheeks look even more like dinner rolls than usual?  (Mmm, delicious baby dinner rolls . . .)


Jeffrey does not have ADHD.

Jeffrey has Asperger’s Syndrome.

We’ve suspected it for quite some time, so the diagnosis comes as zero surprise.

Any questions?  I’ll be explaining more later.

“But they’re couuuusinnnns, identical cou-sins, and you’ll fiiiiiiind . . .”

My sister just posted this picture of her daughter, Sarah, on her blog:

When this photo was taken, Sarah had just looked in the mirror at herself and exclaimed, “I’m Eleanor!”

Yes, it’s been noted before.  The two little cousins look remarkably alike.  For those of you who have you doubts, I present to you a photo of Eleanor taken when she was approximately the same age (about 2 1/2):


It’s not just me, is it?  I mean, my kids look at Eleanor’s baby photos and insist that they are really looking at pictures of Sarah.  I mean, I know they don’t look exactly alike, but it’s enough to be remarkable.

(And for those of you who are wondering, the title of this blog post comes from the theme song of The Patty Duke Show, which I am familiar with owing to Nick at Nite, alas.)

Good News

footballToday my mother had a cyst removed from her ovaries that was roughly the size of a football.  This was a surprise, since we were all under the impression that it was more the size of a softball.  Ew either way, although Brian says he’s heard of a case involving a cyst the size of a MEDICINE ball. 

Doctors always win gross-out story contests.

But the best news, of course, is that Mom’s cyst was benign.  All previous tests had pointed to this, but it was a relief to get the confirmation.  Our good friend and next-door neighbor in Pittsburgh died from ovarian cancer just a few weeks after we moved to Utah, and it was difficult not to think about her slow decline when thinking about my mom’s case. 

I couldn’t think about my dad being left alone.  So I didn’t — strangely, although I am something of a worrywart, I’m good about putting stress aside when it’s something I can’t do anything about.  And now I don’t have to think about it at all.  Hooray!

Sick Week

Last Saturday was the fall book sale at the Salt Lake City Public Library.  I love, love, love this sale; hardbacks are $1 a piece, and there are many books that have been discarded with no or little wear. 

I came home with 61 books, all of them children’s books — picture books, novels, non-fiction.  I won’t gush too much over my finds, because most of my friends would simply roll their eyes and scratch their heads over the squeals of glee I emitted when I found the Opie/Sendak collaboration I Saw Esau, or American Folk Songs for Children, edited by Ruth Seeger and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

Or Gloria Whelan’s Listening for Lions.  Or Brock Cole’s Buttons.  Or a hardly-read copy of NBA winner What I Saw and How I Lied.  (For those rare nerds who know these books: see?  The book sale is AWESOME!)

And it was a good thing I had those books to read, because shortly after the sale ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN CAME DOWN WITH THE FLU

Oh, yes.  The good, old-fashioned wasting fever kind of flu.  I didn’t leave the house for days, didn’t talk to any other adults except Brian and the few people who called me on the phone.  Ack.

Jeffrey was the last to get it, which was a good thing, because he’s the most high-maintenance of my kids when sick.  Ella and Wimmy spend their sick days taking 4+ hour naps, but Jeffrey follows me from room to room, drapes himself over any available furniture, and moans, moans, moans, asking for me to play games and read stories.

Which, really, isn’t that daunting of a task.  I fished out my old CD-ROM of King’s Quest VI and played it through (which I have already done half a dozen times since I first played it sixteen years ago.  Love that Prince Alexander).  Jeffrey loved helping me solve the puzzles, find the magic map, answer the riddles, cast the magic spells and rescue the princess.  He covered his head with a blanket when Prince Alex travels to the Land of the Dead and challenges Lord Death.  And he laughed like silly when Alexander finds the genie’s lamp at the very end.

But beyond that fun stuff, I went more than a little stir-crazy.  Now the children’s fevers have gone, but Jeffrey and Eleanor have developed nasty coughs — the kind that lasts all night.  When they are in the same room, the coughing is frequent and loud enough that they sound like a pan of popping corn.  Poor kiddos.