Although there are lots of terrific things about three, hearing RR initiate conversations is probably the best. Particularly because her sort of chatter often results in delighted laughter at learning a new word or communicating a point. This morning, while she watched Sesame Street and I was around the corner in another room:

(Under her breath) Heh heh, it’s Ernie and Bert!
Mama! An elephant is coming!
Oooh they are all singing now.
What. Is. That. Mama! What is that?
I emerge to see a shapeless pink puppet singing in the front.
It’s a fizz. (I have no idea what this puppet is.)
That’s his name?
Yep. Fizz.
Ohhhh. Usually, I like him. Fizz. (Cackling)

She is using the words usually and occasionally with abandon, typically with great seriousness. Even when she is sobbing at some great three-year-old injustice, for instance, being told to turn off Sesame Street: USUALLY I CAN DO THAT MAMA! USUALLY I WATCH IT! Leaving me to think: Occasionally, baby. OCCASIONALLY. And now is not that time.

Yep, three has its moments.


Norman Rockwell

On Saturday we were up earlier than usual (thanks, RR) and found ourselves wondering how to spend the morning. Usually we go to a music class and the park but, as fun as this is, I sometimes miss mornings spent wandering through the farmer’s market and coming home with a loaf of bread, a pint of strawberries and a bag of kale. We CAN of course, but we don’t. It’s crowded and smothering by the time we arrive at 10 and we aren’t ever out of the house in time to visit in the empty, early hours. Although RR doesn’t ride in an aisle-clogging stroller*, we still move pretty slowly. I just can’t bring myself to contribute to the congestion. Instead, we go to a music class less than a block away from the place that makes me feel 24 again, sun-kissed, in a sundress, my only responsibility a date that night.

Don’t worry, I married her.

So on Saturday, facing freedom for the first time in awhile, we found ourselves at a loss. With no errands to do and too much rain to work in the yard or go to the park, we were left staring at each other. In fact, RR would happily sit around engaging her crayons, grapes and toy lions in complex conversations. And while I’m happy to let her, that was on tap for the afternoon. So what would I do on a perfect morning that isn’t the farmer’s market? Turns out, what I’d do is pop RR into her bike seat and ride with her and my wife to the library, just a couple of miles away on neighborhood streets. Since it looked like rain,we stuck the books to return into plastic bags and set off. By the time we got to the top of our street (and I do mean top – the hardest part of a ride anywhere is getting up the Everest-esque hill), sporadic sprinkles had turned to rain and it remained persistant until we arrived.

I LIKE to be anywhere in the rain. I don’t mind getting soaked through. D prefers an umbrella. Something about glasses and raindrops. I’m happy to find out that RR doesn’t mind weather much either. Any query about her comfort level (we had her raincoat with us but not on her), was met with delighted shrieks: “go mama, yet’s catch mama!” and “I am going so fast!” and “mama would YOVE this!” (mama is right behind us baby, but yes, she does love this). We arrived wet but not at all miserable.

Our library is small and comfortable. The children’s section is as large as the adult section and is incredibly welcoming. RR noticed a dinosaur book on a tiny table and crawled right up on the chair to read. “This is just perfect, mama. Deeyiteful!” She played with wooden puzzles while I looked for new Madeline books and some old standards, including Where the Wild Things Are. I find Wild Things sad and a little scary although my sisters both loved the story (along with, apparently, the rest of the universe). I thought I’d give it another try. It must be good, RR didn’t even demand an encore reading of Madeline when I finished.

As were were leaving we ran into friends from the community. I’ve never lived anywhere else where this happens so consistently and, while it means I don’t honk at the cars who I think so justly deserve it, it does make me endlessly happy. We rode home in warm sunshine just in time for lunch. It could not have been a better morning. July marks our 5th anniversary here. It’s mornings like this that ensure we’ll be here for the 10th.

*There is some sort of space time continuum that ensure all strollers at this particular market take up three times their actual dimensions and move six times more slowly than actual speed.

I’m Gonna Pop Some Tags

I’ve been torn lately. My daughter isn’t a mimic (yet?) and so doesn’t run around repeating any of the terrible things we say. I like to think it’s because we don’t call each other (or any one else) names except of the occasional douchecanoe reserved for the days when the world is against us. Fortunately we’re in this together because I can’t imagine taking kindly to being called a douchecanoe myself.

She must not hear (or care about) words at school that we’d rather she not bring home. There seems to be a surprising lack of name calling. On the other hand, RR’s penchant for playing alone, on a hill, with a piece of grass, for an hour might contribute to her lack of verbal venom. She does mimic all sort of things we had no idea were were saying, like “that’s deyiteful, mama!” As background noise, we must be pretty pleasant folks.

Enter her love for music. I’m a good DJ, you all. I am not spinning NWA (are they still a thing?). She hears plenty of Singing in the Rain, folk music, and instrumental band pieces. She also hears her fair share of clean-mouthed pop. In fact, it never occurred to me to actually listen to the lyrics because they just seem to wash over her. But you can’t help but hear the lyrics in Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. Which is her favorite song. Surely you are wondering how it got that way in the first place and that story is neither here nor there. The fact is, she began asking for it by name after only one viewing. And frankly, since I didn’t think she could differentiate the lyrics, I was unconcerned.

But then she mimicked. Not the words, but the dancing. She watches Macklemore with an intensity that would scare off Norman Bates. She tries to copy his every move (albeit a few beats late). She lights up with joy. But if she’s copying his dancing, what ELSE will she be copying? I’m pretty sure no one is going to be okay with her saying “I’m gonna rock that mothafucker” in reference to her stained ladybug shirt. No, make that VERY sure.

Back to Singing in the Rain, kid.

Here, Have a Twig

We had a full weekend that reminded me with every last breath that moving away from DC was the best thing we ever did. Mind, I was a city person when I lived there and I liked city sorts of things. But now I am not. As RR says, “I’M A COUNTRY MOUSE, MAMA! I YAM!”

We did things that come with owning a house, like sand the rust off of and repaint our iron railings. This was actually the culmination of many weekends of preparation for the event, which went like this:
Weekends 1-5: Realize the paint for the railings requires 50 degree, dry weather. Lament not having scraped the rust off of the railings at any time during the other 30 dry, warm weekends this year.
Weekend 6: Use fancy spinning sander to create fountains of sparks. Stop. Buy protective glasses, ear plugs, and realize the weather does not plan to warm above 50. EVER.
Weekend 7 (and 8…and 9): Sand like a badass. Retreat inside when it begins to pour for the next two weeks.
Weekend 10: PAINT! Forget to wear gloves or pants while spray painting and end up covered in black rustoleum. Black thumbs are in, right?

D is in a music class and we joined her friends and their families for a…recital. Which. Well. It was more like a drum circle. There was a yurt. And lots of drums. Blankets spread on the lawn, kids running amok, guitars, bare feet, delicious food, a standup bass, and some excellent harmonizing on behalf of the singers. I thought RR would be fascinated by the singing (as usual) but instead she found a rusty bucket, a wiffle ball, and a pair of twigs and tucked herself behind a bush. Where she stayed to play by herself for the better part of an hour.

You know, there’s plenty about RR that would prompt me to say, “Huh. I wonder if there’s something I should know about this kid.” But then she wanders out from behind a bush, takes the twigs she’s been chewing on out of her mouth and proceeds brandish them in the air like some sort of rapid-fire alphabet magician, forming all the letters she can. “V, mama! T! X! I! L!” and, of course, “A!” which she manages by sliding her hand up and sticking her stubby thumb into the triangular void.

It’s fine, kid. Stay behind the bush if you like. Let me know if you need another twig.

Let it Snow

You guys, Let It Snow is my hands-down favorite Christmas carol.  No.  Song.  My favorite song.  I once burned a CD (yes, RR, once there were things called CDs that you made when you needed to listen to music in a place that didn’t digitally stream it.  Like, everywhere.) that was entirely comprised of every version of Let It Snow that I could find.  That included tracks recorded from the radio, downloaded from Napster (RR, we can discuss that when you’re 21), and scraped from the dozens of Christmas CDs, albums and tapes (RR, you have never seen one of these but there’s a box in the basement if you can find something to play them) my family owned.  The one failing of this song is that it’s too short.  That CD had 30 tracks with room for more.

My beloved CD is MIA this season.  And I have no idea what I was thinking that I didn’t bring the songs over to iTunes when I had the chance.  Napster was at least 5 machines ago and I suspect some of those tracks are lost to time.  It doesn’t matter much anyway.  I’m having to do Let It Snow in an alley like crack since RR has a very strict regime of allowable music that includes one stripped down rendition of Jingle Bells and is further populated by endless repetitions of Manamana and all the train songs on the CDs from her music classes.

I’ve been digging around for a comprehensive compilation of Let It Snows crafted by someone else but it appears I’ll have to do the dirty work.  Unfortunately, my aversion to the sax is a serious liability for this project.  It’s okay, I’m up to it.  If I’m lucky, my wife is currently working out her own version to play for me because she she is reading this and knows I need something awesome to brighten my week.  Or maybe she isn’t, because she has secretly been taken in by the Grinch and that weird claymation abominable snowman.

The other great thing about Let It Snow (I say other because the whole time you’ve been reading you’ve been thinking of the great things about this song and I just want to be sure this one gets into the mix) is that you can keep on singing it until March in a cold year.  I totally permit out of season songs.  Except Good King Wensalas.  Wife, I’m looking at you.  Okay.  Except all songs that aren’t Let It Snow.

Speaking of songs, this awesome video is a compilation of more than 50 of this year’s pop songs.  Regardless of what we actually end up listening to in the car, I’m a complete sucker for a good “Best Of” list at the end of the year.  This is almost as good as an epic Let It Snow remix.  Almost.

Gynecology 101

You guys, I spent a whole 5 minutes on the internet today to trying to rustle up some awesomely funny pre-gynocologist visit rituals that we could all have a good chuckle over.  I need these, of course, to keep myself from dying a little inside every time I go.  So we can get on to the humor, let’s go ahead and get the usual Counting Chickens Standard Neuroses ™ out of the way:

I am horrified at the idea of the gynecologist.  I cry.  In that sad, almost silent, fat tears rolling uncontrollably down cheeks, way that makes doctors simultaneously tense and tiptoe-y.  If it’s our first time, they usually ask me if I have had “any bad experiences” and I don’t think they want to hear about the time I broke up with my girlfriend and she took my beloved salt and pepper pots.  If we’re lucky, I can pull myself together on the homestretch so that my eyes are dry enough to see the relief on their faces as they dart from the room.

I have a great doctor and in the past 5 years we’ve grown used to each other (as much as you can, of course, having met only 5 times).  It helps that D goes to the same person AND that the doc has a good memory which counts for extra I think.  Not that I’m exactly a forgettable patient.  I’m pretty sure my file has a giant red sharpie notation in it.  She is gentle, warm, upbeat and fast, which seriously, isn’t that all anyone wants?  She takes a holistic look at health and knows my regular doc well.  Together they are like the superheros of lady parts.  However, despite feeling favorable about this week’s visit, I still found myself out, buying new socks.

Oh come on.  I can’t be the only one.  I buy new, cute socks pre-visit so that they are sparklingly clean and charming*.  I used to lament the current trim of the hedges (too short, too long, god forbid there is RAZOR BURN!)* but this time around I took my kit and caboodle in there and slapped it onto the table in all of its in-between glory.  Now, the internet will promise you that she’s not there to check your wax job*, but since I also wash my hair before going to the stylist, I don’t think my basic personality is going to change.

I do think it’s funny that the same purveyors of advice that promise you that no one is looking at the…ahem…state of your affairs also recommend that you be “fresh”.  Come on man.  Let’s just make that a day-to-day priority.  The jury also remains out on vajazzling, labia dye – seriously, you have to click here and here if you’ve ever worried about your “lackluster labia”, anal bleaching (I’m pretty sure there’s no safe link for that) and other, awesome, inventions that make us look less like ourselves all together.  And seriously guys, who wants rhinestones stuck between their teeth?

Although there’s a dearth of “gynecologist superstitions” or “rituals” or “prep tips” that are funny, there is plenty of advice preparing the first timer for the stirrups.  I only hope my wife and I can do as good a job as some of these sites do in preparing RR.  Things my 16…er…18yr-old self would have liked to have known:

  • They will not walk in on you until you get your gown on.  You do not have to fall over yourself like a three-legged puppy trying to get to the squeaky toy trying to tuck your carefully picked panties into your pants pocket.
  • There will be a gown and either a folded paper sheet or some other unspecified covering.  You wear the gown.  If you don’t know whether it should open to the back or the front, ask.  They should have told you.  Every office does it differently.
  • That weird fabric thing, paper thing, or extra gown goes over your knees.  It isn’t to sit on or wrap around yourself.  It’s going to be the primary drape once things get going but until the doctor comes in, consider it a modesty patch.
  • You get to leave your socks on.
  • Take a pantiliner.  Some doctors (not mine, thank goodness) get a little crazy with the lube, bless their hearts, and you might have a little slippage as you walk out.
  • Don’t panic if normally clothed parts of you see fresh air.  Think of it as making sure your gear is in perfect condition.  The small injustice is worth it.
  • If you have questions, ask them the second there’s a lull.  Ideally, she’ll ask if you have questions but, since some folks are wham bam thank you ma’am, you should grab the bull by the horns.  You’re paying for them to do this shit to you.  If you want to ask about a bump, a lump, a smell, a swell you ask the shit out of those questions.

Bottom line.  It’s over until next November when I hope there will be more blog posts about the awesome things people do to get ready for their appointments.

PS – I know that pap smears are recommended every three years for your average citizen but, having had a scare a few years ago, I am now part of the Pap Smear Every Year! club.  Best thing that ever happened to me.

PPS – Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor.

PPPS – If you have ever been in a fertility clinic or OB’s office, you have clearly transcended this entire post.  Go on, you awesome being of light, go on.

And I didn’t forget the *!

*Your gynecologist does not care.  She doesn’t remember what your business looks like.  She does not have an opinion of your trim job.  Further, she doesn’t remember what your labia looked like after you walk out the door.  She looks at vaginas and cervixes and breasts all day long.  She’s looking for STDs and cancer, big bad serious things, not stupid lame things like razor burn and the nipple piercing that you had because it thought it looked cool until it started growing out and then you went surfing and the waves ripped it out and then it healed over with an odd scar even though it looks perfect otherwise and I wouldn’t know anything about that.  Okay?  She doesn’t care.

Parent-Teacher Success

Because you are so. awesome. we successfully managed the parent teacher conference.

It didn’t look good, folks.  If I were liveblogging the day, the first post would have read something like this: “Oh shit.  I’ve pretty much just alienated the teacher we actually DO like by using quoty fingers behind her back.” 

People, sometimes I cannot keep my problems with authority in check.  Sorry in advance about that, RR!

At any rate, upon discovering we couldn’t make our previously decided late afternoon time, we asked to move into a perfectly fine open morning space.  I was surprised when the teacher waffled, saying we’d have to get permission for the change.  I was pretty much still aghast when a manager walked in which is when I used the quotey fingers around the word “authorized” and promptly identified myself as the sort of person teachers everywhere wish would just disappear.  I’m not proud of it, folks.  I’m working on it.

Thus “authorized”, we began solidifying our game plan.  I suspect this always makes my wife nervous since I’m about as predictable as a swarm of bees when I’m riled up.  I can feel her sitting next to me, tight as a spring, just hoping I won’t be too stern, to sassy, or too confrontational.  I am, as she knows, perfectly capable of being reasonable – smooth, even – but the aforementioned issue with people who relish being in charge for the sake of power fail to…charm me.  But, bygones.  We arrived.  I was on my best behavior.  It was the teacher we’d seen that morning which, despite the hiccup, was the person we were hoping to see.

We heard terrific things about RR.  She’s smart.  She’s physically a cross between Usain Bolt and a team of parkour champions.  She’s having a spot of trouble with the shape “crescent” but, frankly, crescent?  As for the running, the teacher seemed surprised that on her first day of school, they opened the door to the hall and RR took off, cackling and giving everyone a heart attack (surprise!).  I suspect that this has been the foundation for the complaints about running.  She gave them a good scare early on and they haven’t gotten over it since.  We had delicately warned them that she was ahead of her classmates physically and they just said, “oh ho, I’m sure you’re right, oh ho!” (What? Your family doesn’t say oh ho?)

We did discuss the hitting and were appropriately concerned but we learned that the daily lectures are disproportionate to the actual worry the teachers have.  We learned that she’s well within the realm of normal.  We learned that she’s getting better.  We learned that she usually lashes out when someone gets into her (admittedly expansive) personal space.  And then we learned that they make her hug.


Watching her teacher connect the dots was like watching a slot machine come up cherries.  Letting her have a little space is probably far more effective than making her hug or hugging her.  D made some excellent suggestions about letting her high five or shake hands after an incident instead of hugging.  I think we’ll have fewer complaints about hitting.

I welcomed the chance to talk to the teacher we don’t usually see and was relieved to hear that she had some similar concerns about the other teacher.  She agreed to talk generally with the teachers about including positive feedback at pick-up and/or information about the day instead of just a critique.  I also got the impression that we confirmed one of her worries.  I suspect it helps knowing a parent feels the same way.

Overall, I’d call it a success.  Thank you!


Hold the phone.  I think RR told a joke.

I KNOW.  How is it even possible?!  I suppose I knew this would happen but I’m still wondering…wait…was that for real?  Did that just happen?  She’s just a baby, right?  LIE TO ME.  This is my baby!

Me (Handing RR a stuffed dog which has inexplicibly acquired the name “Moose.”): Here you go, baby.
RR: MOOSE!  MY Moose.
RR (slyly peering at me, fiddling with his ears):…Mickey Moose…

Now I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty sure that, given the way she was cackling, she thought it was the FUNNIEST THING IN THE WORLD.

You’re my baby.  My baby.  Hold on just one more minute, okay?

Two For Pete’s Sake

Dear RR,

Being two is apparently a lot like being a drunken despot who snores loudly and trims his nose hair over supper.  I know this is true because I caught sight of the memo you recently received regarding appropriate behavior for the week.  You had, of course, burned one corner of it, made spitballs of the inside address and practiced your name in cursive all over the content.  There were several directions I was able to read through the ornate curlicues –

  1. Try to…smack…possible.
  2. Feet.
  3. …loudly…
  4. Frequently tell your mothers they are un… and …wanted
  5. …poop…
  6. Hahahahahahahaha

I’m pretty sure this explains everything.  I reassure myself that once you’ve mastered killer cute, there’s really no place else to go but Mordor.

Love is a tricky thing though, isn’t it?  I go to sleep at night wondering whether or not I’ll be able to face you in the morning, and watch as you drizzle yogurt all over your arms and demand that I kiss multiple fictional owies through the muck but then I wake up to the sound of you maniacally jumping in your crib yelling JUMPING MAMAS JUMPING and smile all over again.  Every slight lately, and there are many, is made up for twofold by stacks of adorable.

The times you scream at me when I wash your hair EYEEEEEESSSS.
The times you shove me hard so that you can sit with D that much longer.
The times your eyes sparkle just before you bring your hand up to whack me on the nose.

I have you to thank for ninja like reflexes and an ever toughening skin.  It’s a good thing we have an 8 hour break during the day.  It gives me a chance to think about how much I love you before I get home and find you sharpening your switchblade and smoking a cigarette.  Cutely.


Dear RR,

Before you were born, I looked out at our backyard and spied bits of overgrown bushes and thought, “I’m not cutting those down because someday I’m going to have a child here who wants to turn them into a secret place.  Taking away those bushes would be like stealing that child’s imagination and it won’t be me who’s responsible for that.”

Now, I’d just like to say, GET OUT OF THE HOLE.

At the bottom of the hill at the corner of the fence is a dirty patch of shade under arching canes of forsythia and a runaway boxwood.  It is, bar none, your favorite place to go after racing to the bottom of the hill.  It can’t be seen from the house and you hide there, still as a mouse, until someone says your name.  Then you start shrieking with laughter and the bushes rattle around you, betraying that you’re in your hole.  This is what I am thinking everytime you tuck yourself away:

Your shorts will be filthy
Your hair will have leaves, or worse, bugs.
What if there are spiders?
Oh god, there are probably ticks.
Remember to check that child for ticks.
Are you even really down there?
Aww, I love to hear you laugh.
Can snakes hear?
You better laugh louder, little girl!
Do you suppose there are black widows in the woodpile?
I can’t even imagine a two-year-old with Lyme.
What are you even doing down there?
Am I going to have to haul you out?
Oh, you have a place.  A secret place.  A place to fuel your imagination.  You are the best baby ever.
Please tell me there isn’t poison ivy down there.
There totally is, isn’t there?
I cannot believe I have to go down and get you out.  Again.

Believe it or not, I am much more free-spirited about the hole than your mother is.  You should also know that, because we love you very much, we’ve been letting the bushes grow taller.  Your mother spent most of a weekend clearing out suspicious vines, picking up questionable debris and filling holes where we’d ripped out stumps.  I have double-checked the fenced corner for webs, fangs and dead things.  And we have seen you watching us.  Making sure we don’t blur the magic of your spot.  And we have seen you spying other places to hide and cackle just in case.  Between the compost bins.  Tucked behind the compressor.  Under the holly.  And I have noticed you walking heel to toe, ever so carefully, on the wobbly bricks of the flowerbed mostly out of sight while your mother called your name, looking for you.

These things do not mean it’s okay for you to squat there, laughing hysterically, while I fend off swarms of mosquitos trying to reach in your hole to fetch you out.  Nor should you commence screaming in misery and indignation when I carry you back up the hill and into the house.  And please keep in mind that checking for ticks is not a reason to dance around like a rabid squirrel, cackling and shouting TICKLETICKLETICKLE!

And when you are sixteen and full of angry hormones, I hope you and I both remember that we left those bushes long so that you would have a secret place all your own the summer that you were two.