I thought I had surely mentioned to you that a visit to the doctor, for me, is torture (and not the good kind). In fact, I have a whole tag devoted to it. I can trace this back to childhood pediatrician Dr. Downey although we can scatter blame around liberally if you want. There’s plenty.

You can imagine my delight (which, in this case, is equal parts relief and terror that she might retire despite being my age) in finding a doctor who not only sees the whole family, but is nice, approachable, doesn’t wear doctory clothes, and often gets us in on the day we call. She manages the family’s health without being condescending or judgmental, things you would hope are a given in one’s doctor but, in my experience, are not. We treasure her. And she took our insurance.


Used to.

Past tense.

A month ago we got a pleasant but frank letter about a change in her solo practice. She is moving to a new model of care that more closely mirrors the golden age of house-calls except she can’t be paid in chickens or fresh bread. Nope. She can’t be paid in anything except actual money that is not, to be clear, the money already deducted for our health insurance. In exchange for old-timey, part-of-the-family, care, each person pays a monthly fee instead of a copay.

There were tears, my friends.

Without some serious tightening elsewhere, we can’t afford to pay monthly above and beyond our insurance. Legislation is pending to allow payments like these via a flexible spending plan but pending is not actual. My bank account doesn’t actually get the ideas of pending, patience, or eventually. My credit card does but he’s a wily bastard and not to be trusted.

And so here we are. We’ve a month left to decide whether we’re staying or going and while all signs point to staying, we haven’t yet figured out how to manage the costs. I think I’m a bit paralyzed about it all, especially about the idea of finding a new doctor and starting over. My medical history is a smorgasbord of awesome (if you consider awesome to be both baffling and predictably catastrophic).

This is the second doctor I’ve had stop taking insurance. Are lots of other doctors doing this? Is this some sort of medical industry trend? Is Aetna (our only choice) so horribly awful (we don’t think so) that providers run for the hills? And the million dollar question, how worth it is it to pay, essentially, twice for a really great doctor?

The decision is mostly made but, jesus, I wish it weren’t so complicated.



Frozen Solid

What is the CRACK that is Frozen?

Is this because we never watched movies before Frozen? I feel like we need a B.F. and A.F. notation to denote which part of our lives happened before they were accompanied by Let It Go and the parts after which involve a lot of serenading.

Also a lot of braiding – LIKE ELSA MAMA! – and dress-wearing – LIKE ELSA MAMA! – and towel cape wearing – LIKE ELSA MAMA! – and long, involved conversations wherein Debra and I are are some combination of Anna, Sped (or Swed), Olaf, and Hans. There is also lots of “Hans Kissing” while RR holds your chin, ever-so-gently, and kisses you. You mustn’t kiss back and, if you keep your eyes open, you can watch her go cross-eyed as she zooms in on you.

This child, who has never touched a doll, suddenly discovered the two she has and christened them Elsa and Anna. They appear suddenly together in odd places although only Anna (my old doll with has clouded over eyes*) goes to sleep with her.

photo 2

Last night she asked me to sing Let It Go to her and Anna but, since I’m not a talented singer, she had to sing it all. the. way. through. twice before I could try again. Spoiler alert: I failed and the ensuing meltdown reached epic proportions.

Friends, I am not alone. Youtube is riddled with other children serenading the camera. Pearl Jam covered it at a concert in Italy. The Boston Globe tries to capture why it’s so popular. It’s not just the 4-yr-olds. It’s catchy, even Jimmy Fallon thinks so.

We’re a little late on the Frozen train but it appears there are no stops to get off. I don’t mind much (she’s super cute when she sings the word fractals) but I’m amazed at her capacity to remember every single word in the script as well as every single move that accompanies it. It all makes sense though. Clearly the reason she hasn’t mastered the potty is that there is physically NO SPACE in her brain for anything else.

Glad we’ve figured that out.

* Mine at 4. Cloudy eyes courtesy of that time she spent the night under the yews on a wad of Big League Chew:

photo 1


The Neighborhood

New neighbors, again. How is it that none of you rushed over here and bought the house next door (not that one*, the other one) saving me from the sword of damocles that every queer person nestled snug into a right-wing state fears? I sometimes wonder if any of you remember that I’m flagrantly living in sin with my wife. But is it living in sin if you can’t get married? Every time I see an new follower alert I wonder how quickly they will unfollow once they realize I’m not straight. Way to go, Mer, marginalize yourself so they don’t have to!

Back to the neighbors. We’ll miss this particular lot more than the last ones. But she’s newly pregnant and once that happens the timer starts ticking on our little houses. Three bedrooms and one itsy-bitsy bath seem a little snug (first-world problems) for a three person family and live-in relatives. Having just done this for an agonizing five months, I know. They are the sort that let our dog out when we’ll be home late and call if there is a strange person skulking around (not to worry, this happens infrequently). Their principal downfall is not being as concerned about zombies as the other neighbors are. We’re all in this together, folks.

We ran into their realtor at the grocery who, over her kombucha filled cart, which, to be honest, left me in an uncertain awe, told us that the incoming family was young and also expecting. I suppose one man’s three bedroom shack is another’s palace. While I was glad to hear this, there’s no automatic young=open-minded pass and so I’ve got my fingers crossed while we wait for them to move in.

The other side of the street is also in peril (and not just from zombies and hosta-munching deer). Of the three directly over, one pair permanently moved to the dementia unit after a winter mishap involving the fire department and an axe, another is facing increasing home care needs from her daughter with worsening MS, and the third couple was just recently hit by a semi after going the wrong way on a highway ramp (they are fine, miraculously, though after his stroke, he has dwindled alarmingly fast). They are all closing in on 80 which means we do a lot more Christmas tree installing and lightbulb changes.

We are astoundingly lucky, aren’t we? I think so. I’d like the luck to hold out for this next family, too. Cross your fingers!


*also, that turned out totally fine. I’m not a worrier. At all. Ever.



Perhaps my expectations are too high. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that my four year old would consistently use the toilet but perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s tantamount to my mother putting trash in the can and NOT in the sink. Physically impossible.

I realize that after almost two years of lamenting about this to you, I neglected to share the pay off, the really exciting news, the actual pee in the potty. You deserved it and I’m sorry I cheated you. On the other hand, I’ve probably saved you the letdown I’m experiencing which, when I say letdown, is more of a catastrophic deflation.



Now that you know that, I feel like I can share the excitement without the disappointment because you will be reading and thinking aha, I know this does not end well and I will have saved at least one of us from wondering if I’m a terrible mother, an inept caretaker, or both, probably both.

After a marathon weekend attempting to potty train her, employing our friends (and our friends’ children) as back-up, we finally achieved one incidence of pee IN the potty on Memorial Day weekend. We took her to school that Tuesday, armed with panties and the promise of a reward (specifically a DVD. Specifically Frozen. And I have plenty to say about that.) if she managed a repeat. She did not. In fact, she simply wet her pants all day. I kept her home the next two days in a boot-camp style effort which…worked. By Friday, she was reliably peeing in the potty.

Mind, this required reminders. How do you do foreshadowing in a blog? Doom noises? This?



And so we have continued on in panties, rarely making it a whole day without a change, although I can’t tell if that’s because of a long nap (which I understand), or poop (which, I can’t even figure out how to train), or because she just…doesn’t manage it. Even at home, where we have some more control over the situation, she sometimes just wets her pants. And it’s not as though she tells us, she just carries on as if nothing has happened. I could belabor this point but, suffice to say, after spending a weekend with her, I’m not sure she’d go if we weren’t reminding her.

This is not potty-trained.


Montessori, while working for her wonderfully in every other aspect, isn’t into reminders. So if she’s wet, they send her to change and, since that’s often, she comes home reeking of urine every other day. At least. I want to unequivocally love them but I am getting increasingly frustrated by the combination of my inattentive child and the hands-free staff.

A month in and I’m not convinced she’s getting it. I don’t think it’s oppositional although she sometimes gets belligerent if you ask her to try and she’s already wet. It is definitely not making a point or being on purpose. I think it falls more into the category of forgetfulness. She is, and has always been, so committed to any task she undertakes that she simply doesn’t notice the world around her. It is no surprise that she isn’t listening to her own body either.

Which begs the question, if the solution to an intensely focused kid is timers and reminders AND she is in school all week where there are no timers or reminders, how long will it take for her to get it? I can tell you, it’s longer than a month. Which then begs the questions, am I a terrible mother for allowing it to continue, a terrible mother for not being a stay-at-home mom who can magically manage all things potty-training, a terrible mother for not being aggressive with the school, a terrible mother for not taking her to a new school, a terrible mother for dwelling too much, a terrible mother for not taking her to the doctor (more on THAT gem later, my friends), a terrible mother for letting her smell like urine, or a terrible mother for being frustrated? Tell you what, I’ll bet the answer is simply a terrible mother.

So no, there is nothing to celebrate around here.



Oh have we played fast and loose with RR’s world. Several nights this week she has gone to be after 7pm.


Oh. You were thinking about her 7pm bedtime. I saw that side-eye.

hippo side eye

My friends, we have put RR to bed at 7 from the start and she likes it. In fact, when we keep her up, she delivers a package of noyoujustdidn’t that would fell even the mightiest of parents. But for one reason or another we haven’t had her to bed before 8 and if you come to our house you can see the very foundations of our world crumbling before your eyes. It’s like the moment before the sinkhole. It’s not good.

Before you know it we are IN the sinkhole. And we’re making it worse by scrabbling around looking for ways to distract her from her sugar/excitement/chaotic high in ways that turn her into even more of a monster. They are well-intended gestures. Here, baby, watch a little TV while we get ready for work turns into PUT YOUR SHOES ON OR I WILL. Well, I don’t know what. I’ve never gotten to the point before where every other sentence is “So help me god if you don’t…”

When I do finish the sentence I follow through. This, of course, results in epic tantrums because for some reason she hasn’t yet caught on that if I say “Please listen or I will leave the room.” I actually will leave the room. I don’t fool around, you all. Suddenly I can see why people start to drown in a pool of time-outs. That route would be ineffective for RR who puts her own self in time out, cackling happily at the break from you, me, life, everything.

We’re trying to bring the bedtime routine back, but weekends of birthday parties and late nights and dinners drawn skeptically from the depths of the refrigerator have resulted in a the return of the wolverine*. I am not happy to see you again, no sir. Please tell me this is not what four is like**.



*Given the number of times I have compared RR to a wolverine, I’m considering a domain change. It’s a good thing is available.

**Unless you are Becky who makes no secret that four is what makes her child an only child.

Not MY Child

Depending on who you talk to, RR looks just like Debra. Or, she looks just like me. It’s what we hoped for when we went down the donor list selecting for things like tooth size and shape and height of cheekbones.

It’s a small consolation for having to pay for what lots of folks get free. We looked at my features and chose a donor who reflected them almost exactly. The almost was even our choice. It was fun to fine-tune my own features in an I wish I longer lashes way. We even ended up with the same hair color (that one was luck).

photoPopsicle on face courtesy of grannie and, yes, we let her sleep in it. The dress and the popsicle.

Monday we took her to the US-Ghana game at a local theatre. The venue seats 1000 and it was full to capacity and then some (shh, don’t tell). I wasn’t sure how she’d do with the certain chanting, cheering and, as it turned out thunderous stamping and hollering. I certainly wouldn’t have been okay at 4. I am barely okay at 40.

At the half we distracted her with the iPad (in all, 45 minutes is a pretty solid attention span for a small person watching men bat around a ball without explanation) but she spent the last 10 minutes of the match inexplicably sobbing. I was certain this was proof that she got more than my hair. When we finally got to the car, she took a deep breath and said, “Mama, I’m crying because I couldn’t hear the dolphin (on the iPad) when my new friends got so happy.”

Her new friends had leapt to their feet, Debra and I included, when a late goal put the US ahead. The noise was tremendous and I was sure the new friends had terrified my child for life. But, no. We’ve heard so much about her new friends, all 1000 of them, that I almost feel bad for leaving her at home for the next US match on Sunday. Almost.

Her new friends. Now that is Debra through and through.


My first, and only, experience with soccer prior to 1998 was sitting in the frozen bleachers to watch a girl who I had an enormous crush on but, tragically, had no idea that’s what it was, play. Was she any good? More worryingly, did I even tell her I was there? My only memory of the game is that I spent it shivering. Nice start in the romance department, self.

A handful of years and a new city later, I was playing on two co-ed adult teams as one of two token females because, “well, we have to have at least two girls to get to play.” I don’t suspect I was any good. I have terrific aim but I hate to run. That same summer, I was spending afternoons skipping out of State Department Portuguese homework and watching the World Cup in a local pub with other diplomat delinquents. My friend Matthew, a perplexing combination of American diplomat and British accent, took my football schooling to heart. We dated once or twice, maybe, but I admit I was dating the soccer fan, not the boy. Outside of the sunny pub and sober, he lost some of the shine.

In 2002, I was in Mozambique, ground to pieces by my job. I have almost no memory of those weeks beyond turning my TV out the window every day so that the guards at my house could watch from the yard. The woman I was dating had no use for soccer and, as it turned out, I had no use for that woman. It also turns out that I lost a few more years getting past my job and her to life now (and thank goodness that’s done).

More than a decade later, I am taking my daughter to soccer class and watching her learn to handle the ball. Or rather, I am taking my daughter to class and watching her consider the ball and then lay in the grass counting clouds. She tells us, I yove soccer, mamas. And then she weeps because you are not yistening to me! and I am too hot! and we are perplexed because she’s not telling us anything at all and, baby, we are also TOO HOT. This evening I’ll no doubt be watching birds, counting clouds, and investigating beetles with her instead of playing soccer and, sadly, instead of watching the opening match.

There’s probably a whole post here, in and of itself, about my daughter inexplicably opting out of things, but it turns out the World Cup is on so it will have to wait for another time.



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