Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Neighbors

Bump and I met our next-door neighbors at an afternoon barbeque, two weeks before we moved in. She was heavily pregnant and he was chasing around two little boys, aged three and one and a half. The little guys stopped running long enough to grin at us, showcasing their gleefully stained faces and shirts. I think they were wearing ice cream, or maybe it was juice, and no one cared. They were happily sticky and very sweet, inside and out. We remarked that their children would be spaced exactly like ours, only their boys would be a year younger.

The neighbors' closing date was two weeks after ours, and they had to schedule their move around the baby's delivery. They knew the birth would be complicated - the baby had a heart defect.

We had just bought a house and moved, and we were exhausted. A year earlier, we had a baby within days of moving, and it nearly swamped us. The thought of doing all those things together made us weep. The additional stress of a sick baby was unfathomable. We marveled at their strength. Their burden.

Their boys bounded over to splash in our wading pool, and we celebrated the baby's successful surgery. While our children laughed on the playground, I was told of a small setback - the baby required the post-op ventilator for longer than expected. As Lumpyhead and Lula traded backyard toys with the boys, their au pair relayed that the baby was having good days and bad days.

The neighbor was always upbeat. Serious surgery, yes, but the baby had excellent doctors. He was cheery and optimistic.

His wife was more reserved. "How are things?" I would inquire quietly. "Okay," she would shrug with a smile, after a small pause. I backed off, never pressing, but you can bet I milked that au pair and the mother-in-law for everything they would spill. How is the baby? How are they doing? Do they need anything? What can we do?

I saw the neighbor walk by with her older boys in the stroller one day, and I envied her body type. She is one of those naturally thin people - I remember how slender her arms and neck were when she was eight months pregnant - and six weeks after delivery, she didn't have a speck of baby weight. "Genetic good fortune," I muttered to myself. Guiltily, I later realized her movie star weight loss could be due to, you know, STRESS. (Way to go, Insensitive Dumbass.)

Lumpyhead and Lula were psyched when the neighbor got us into the Toy Story double feature. But as he delivered the tickets, he was more restrained about his infant son's condition. The baby had contracted an infection, and the ongoing steroid treatment wasn't effective. His heart was in great shape, but the rest of his organs were struggling.

Bump saw the neighbor and his boys at the movie on Saturday, along with others from the neighborhood with whom the neighbor had shared tickets. They waved and exchanged pleasantries, and an ill-timed fire alarm gave them a chance to chat.

We have so much in common with these people: parenting small children, living in a new neighborhood, anticipating kindergarten in the near future. We like them. We are them.

The baby died on Sunday. He never came home to his family's beautiful new house.

I am heartbroken.

I am lucky.

I am grateful.

But today? I am mostly heartbroken.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Day Late and a Bullhorn Short

Dude, and it's not even the correct child.

Meh, whatever. It's not really a bullhorn, either, it's an antique milk funnel, which . . . maybe it's best to walk away from this post right now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Make Up Yer Damn Mind

Nutjob Watch

Number of Nutjobs with Bullhorns outside my office today: 0

I'm a little disappointed. Do you think they don't care about us anymore? I hope they're okay.*

*You know, I hope no Unfortunate Incidents involving bullhorns shoved in inappropriate places have befallen them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

They're Multiplying

There's a new Nutjob with a Bullhorn on the corner outside my office today. Yesterday's Nutjob moved two blocks down the street.

This better not be a fucking trend.

Not only is it annoying (with the bullhorns) and disturbing (with the posters of aborted fetuses) and sad (You've got nothing better to do with your day, old man? You've clearly got too much quality health care. Let's do something about that), but there also seems to be a career path for the Nutjobs. Start on my corner, get promoted to the corner down the street.

The guy outside is not just a Dumbass, he's a Trainee Dumbass.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm Not In Favor of Limiting the First Amendment. Just Regulating the Volume

Dear Nutjob on the Corner Outside My Office Window:

I fully support your right to protest (abortion? health care?) whatever it is that you're protesting. Really, I do. Free speech and all that. It's great.

But I STRONGLY OPPOSE the bullhorn.

Lumpyhead's Mom

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It was Lula and Nathan Jr's first day of school today; Lumpyhead started his school year on Tuesday. Lula has none of the separation issues Lumpyhead did his first year. Lumpyhead cried at dropoff for the first - I don't know, six weeks or so? Lula cried today at pickup.

Leaving a crying child at dropoff fills you with guilt and dread. Hauling a weeping child home who wants to stay at school makes you feel like the least popular person in the world.

Seriously. That dude spreading H1N1 at the mall is better-liked than me. (I even took time off from work to pick her up, that Little Ingrate.) At least Nathan Jr was mildly pleased to see me.

As I was driving home, a police officer turned on his lights behind me. I changed lanes to let him by, but he changed lanes, too. I pulled off into a strip mall parking lot. So did the cop.

Internet, I ran a red light. Right in front of a police car.

Sure that was stupid - particularly the "right in front of a cop" thing - but it was completely unintentional. I swear I didn't notice the red light, and I travel that road all the time.

The whole thing makes me uneasy. How many other red lights have I run, completely unaware? Had the officer not been there, I would have never known. On occasion I might try to squeak through an intersection on a yellow, but mis-time it and run a red. That wasn't the case today.

I blew right past a stoplight, with my three children in the car.

With my three children in the car.

And that makes me positively nauseous. While I can think of much better uses for a hundred bucks (or however much this ticket will cost me), this incident could have ended much, much worse.

I don't think I want to drive anymore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preschool Forms

One of the many forms Bump had to fill out for the kids to attend preschool is a questionnaire about each child. The form introduces your child to his or her teacher, chronicling the child's likes, dislikes, allergies, and personality quirks.

Some questions are pretty straightforward. Like:

"Has your child ever been stung by a bee, if so did s/he have a reaction?"


"If your child is toilet trained or in the process, what language and procedures are used?"

But others have left us a little stumped.

"What kinds of situations allow your child to express himself or herself the best?"

Uh . . .

"When she's well-rested, well-fed, and getting her way"? I don't think that response would be helpful.

On Lula's sheet Bump wrote "U.K. House of Commons-style debate."

We think Lula's teacher will find that funny. But if the classroom is green with two benches facing each other, we'll know we should have taken the damn questionnaire more seriously.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This is my favorite snapshot from our trip to Maine.
Her brother was juuuuust tall enough to ride Cascade Falls with an adult. She was not.

I probably shouldn't get this much joy from photos of my kids crying. But I think it's really funny.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Yep, Still Haunted

Hey, remember when I told you my new house is haunted?

Sure, you can explain that incident away with another baby monitor on the same frequency as ours, in range of our living room, in a house with a baby named Nathan.

Even though no one in our neighborhood has a baby named Nathan.

Still. Easily explained away.

But here's a puzzle for you skeptics: Why does my fireplace turn itself on?

This is the third time this has happened. The wall switch is in the off position and the remote is in a drawer. Neither the wall switch nor the remote will turn off the fireplace.

The only way I can get it to stop is to turn off the gas. Maybe I'm being a big sissy, but tampering with gas lines makes me a little nervous.

Last time this happened, the fireplace shut itself off eventually.

So, what should I do? Crank the gas line off and keep it there? Let my friendly ghosts enjoy a nice moment by the fire? Call the builder and scream my fool head off?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Recent Blows to My Self-Esteem

1. I used the scale in the nurse's office.

I entered Sarah and Devra's weight-loss contest, so immediately got right on that whole "starting weight" thing. Um, or not. I finally stepped on a scale three days after the contest started. My hesitancy to seek out a scale in the first place was well-founded.

2. My new bathroom.

There's a big mirror directly across from the shower, so every morning I'm graced with my own Full Frontal when I step out. I think I need to start removing my contacts before getting undressed.

3. I'm bird-sitting for the neighbors.

Nothing like the beautiful interiors of people with good taste to make your own home feel like a primary-colored-plastic-strewn dump.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rabbit Rabbit

On Day One of every month, Aunt Bob likes to tell me "Rabbit Rabbit." If you're able to say it first, the phrase brings you good luck. Or something.

There are rules to Rabbit Rabbit. You can't Rabbit Rabbit someone via voicemail, email, or text. You have to say it to them. Telephone is okay, but in person is better. You can only Rabbit Rabbit people who know about Rabbit Rabbit, otherwise you look like an idiot.

Caller ID has done great things for the Rabbit Rabbit industry.

If you have questions, ask Aunt Bob about it. I have imparted upon you my full knowledge of Rabbit Rabbit.


Sarah and Devra are holding a contest over at Loser Moms. (It starts today, but I bet if you ask real nice they'll still let you participate.) I gave them $10 because I do whatever they tell me to, but I'm not completely committed to the program yet.

Here's the thing: there is no easy way to a smaller me. My lifestyle plus my metabolism equals my current weight. I can't change my metabolism. Can I change my lifestyle?

I recognize that many of my choices are not healthy ones. I drink a lot of my calories, I have a big appetite and really enjoy great food, and exercise is not my friend.

Is six weeks enough time to change my habits and see results? I dunno.

But Sarah and Devra told me to give them ten bucks, so I did. [Sarah: That's right, you heard me.] [Devra: Strongly agree.] [You: Oh my god, shut your yammering trap already.]

Ahem. That would be my fat yammering trap, thank you very much.

But I brought in a salad today for lunch. Rabbit food.

Rabbit Rabbit, indeed.