Which End Up?

Last Friday I was supposed to work from home, but I encountered technical difficulties with my laptop. I called our Support Staff and a guy walked me through some steps to fix the problem, but none of his suggestions were working. After ten minutes of trying a certain thing over and over again I realized that part of the problem was that he was telling me to type “something something forward slash something else” and I was instead typing “something something back slash something else.”

That was kind of embarrassing, because I am after all a web designer and also somewhat intelligent, and you’d think that I’d know the difference between a forward slash and a back slash. But here’s a secret: I don’t! I mean: you have \ and you have /. I don’t understand what makes one forward and one back. I guess I can see that this one leans forward: / but doesn’t this one slope forward: \ ? So how do you tell which is which?

My slash confusion is part of a larger problem with my brain. I can’t think visually at all. My boss and I were working on something last week and he pointed out that a certain element on a page wasn’t centered. “It looks centered to me,” I said respectfully. He said, “It’s centered vertically, but it’s not centered horizontally.” I said, “Oh, okay” but I was thinking, “Huh?” It was only through a serendipitous click of the mouse that I was able to get it to look the way he wanted.

Don’t count on me to hold the elevator for you, if it’s an elevator that has symbols on the buttons instead of the more civilized buttons that spell out “Door Close” and “Door Open”. I have to stare at <> and >< a long, long time before figuring out which button will perform which operation. (This is in fact a serious problem for me; ever since I read about a doctor being decapitated by a hospital elevator in Texas a few years ago, I have been pretty freaked out by elevator doors, especially when the kids are with me. I’ll be glad when we can ditch the stroller and use escalators more often. Mallory calls both modes of vertical (is that right, or is it horizontal?) transport “alligators,” by the way.)

And don’t even remind me of the horrible weeks in elementary school that were spent on “greater than” and “less than.” Clearly I knew that 88 is greater than 73; did we have to bring the < and the > into it? And calling it a crocodile’s mouth, while whimsical, did not help much, but thanks anyway, Mrs. Neill.

I think someone else is going to have to be in charge of teaching my kids to drive.

Just Finished Reading

The Prestige by Christopher Priest. Here’s something you don’t hear every day: The movie was better. In fact, I bet when Christopher Priest saw this movie, he thought to himself, “Huh. Why didn’t I think of that?” It wasn’t a bad book, but it had a horrible ending, and lots of loose ends. So, again I say: See the movie! But don’t necessarily buy the book.


Good Dental Hygiene is Particularly Important for Lions


Phoebe is, as you can see, going to be a lion for Halloween. She's going to be a lion because Mallory said for two months that she wanted to be Dorothy for Halloween, and we thought it would be cute to have a theme going on.

Of course this weekend Mallory decided that she did NOT want to be Dorothy, how dare we even SUGGEST the wearing of the Dorothy costume, any mention of her being Dorothy was cause for tears and shrieking.

So now she's going to be a ballerina. "I'm going to be the kind of ballerina who has a pet lion!" she said, helpfully.

In preparation for Phoebe's lionhood, we taught her how to roar on cue. It's very cute. But you should also know that last week it rained a lot, and so Phoebe has also learned to say "rain" when we pull her jacket hood up. I'm sure you all know where this is going: I put Phoebe's lion costume on, pulled up the hood, and said, "Phoebe, what does a lion say?"

And Phoebe said: "Rain!" Posted by Picasa


This was fun

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Clearly this isn't exactly right; obviously there is one person in the US with my name. It's just statistically unlikely that there is anyone in the US with my name, which is actually kind of cool. Same goes for Mallory and Phoebe; I think there were four Chris-es. There are three people with my maiden name, by the way.

Go try it for yourself!


A very special...Always Remember That

On Sunday, Mallory said to me, “I want to get a box and put stuff in it that I don’t want and give it to some other people.” Coincidentally, I had just read about a US soldier who was collecting stuffed animals to pass out to children in Iraq, so I found a box and we started filling it up. Because if there’s one thing we have too much of, it’s stuffed animals. (There is something way off, grammatically, about that sentence, but you get the idea.)

Mallory was not at all discriminatory about which stuffies she flung into the box. “Hold on,” I said. “You don’t have to give away any that are really special to you.” From that point on, she very earnestly said, “Well, this one isn’t special!” of each one before she consigned it to the pile.

It was on the tip of my tongue to protest. Not special? The ducky I bought when I found out I was pregnant? The doggie I bought for her when she had her first ear infection? The floppy bunny that sat in the corner of her crib? The bear with “2001 Baby” embroidered on its foot? The half-dozen Beanie Babies given to her and Phoebe by my grandmother? Of course those were special! Except they were special to me, not to her – she’s never been had a particular “lovey,” she’s equal-opportunity about which toy she sleeps with or hauls around throughout the day. (Phoebe, on the other hand, was watching us suspiciously while clutching tightly to her fuzzy Elmo. Not to worry, no Sesame Street stuffies made the cut.)

So now I have a huge box of bears and frogs and dogs and ducks and bunnies to send to Iraq. And I hope that each one becomes very special to a child over there.


Busy, busy, shockingly busy...

...much much too busy for you!

(That's from a Veggie Tales song. I hereby admit that I find Veggie Tales really, really charming. Mallory was never much into them. Oh well.)

Anyway, really busy at work this week but I can't neglect my adoring public. Ha! So here's something for you: You must go see The Prestige. Such a wonderful movie, the best I've seen in a long time. So good that I had to run right out and buy the book. Not, you know, that it takes a great deal of encouragement for me to run right out and buy any book. But -- excellent movie. Highly recommended. (Now you will all go see it and hate it and wonder what I'm going on about.)


A Picture Post

A poster Chris drew for the annual Harvest Day Bake Sale, proceeds to benefit Mallory's preschool:

A poster Chris drew for Mallory's class. What did Phoebe say when she saw it? "El-mo!" She's good at spotting that little red monster, even when he's not red.

Our beautiful new chair! Which actually matches our beautiful new couch!

Phoebe looking pretty.

Mallory looking goofy.

My girls.


A Hodge-podge. A mish-mash, if you will.


Words Phoebe Has Learned To Say Since The Last Time I Made Such A List:

Elmo (pronounced correctly)
Nurse (“urse” – yeah, I know, once they’re old enough to ask…)
I’m stuck
Who’s that?

Two Reasons Phoebe May Not Be My Actual Child

She doesn’t like doughnuts.
She does like raw onions.

What Mallory Said To Me After I Apologized To Her For Us Having A Rough Morning:

“It was rough because you’re mean.”

My Review Of The Make-Ahead Meal Experience

Excellent! Chris and I really liked the Taco Soup, Marinated Flank Steak, Chicken Enchiladas, and Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole. Chris liked the Cilantro Shrimp Scampi; I thought the seasoning was a bit weird, but it was all right. The Smothered Burgers were good but a lot of trouble to make. The Mini-Pizzas…it was nice to be able to customize toppings, but they didn’t taste any better than Target brand frozen pizzas, so, eh. We haven’t tried the Gruyere Quiche yet. But overall, it worked out really well and I’m going to sign up for another session this month. Hooray!

Something That Made Me Sad Today

A report on the radio about a lawsuit being filed against camel racers in the United Arab Emirates…apparently they’re using 3- and 4-year old children as camel jockeys, and making them live in really deplorable conditions. (The kids, not the camels.) Can you imagine these poor little kids having to ride on camels? Can you picture Mallory on a camel? (Actually, I’m sure they wouldn’t want Mallory, since she’s not exactly a lightweight, but still.) There are so many ways to harm children. It’s just depressing.

What We’re Going To Do This Weekend

Go to the pumpkin patch with my friend Julia and her kids. Possibly go see The Prestige.

My Goal For The Week

To clean one room of the house every night. Last night I tackled the dining room. We use the dining room for dining maybe three times a year; at all other times, the table is a repository for Mallory’s crafts, shopping bags, wrapping paper, and other junk. But right now it’s actually clean! I got a little carried away and threw out a whole bunch of stuff that maybe I shouldn’t have: greeting cards, jars of play-doh, perfectly good hair barettes and bows – just because I am so sick of all the excess crap in my house. Trust me, no one will ever miss the stuff I threw away. Tonight I’m going to scrub the bathrooms. Fun for me!

Something Mallory Said That Made Me Proud

She was playing with the 5-year-old girl who lives next door to my inlaws. This is a homeschooling, fundamentalist type family. The girl said to me: “Why is Mallory over at Miss Claudia’s so much?” I said, “Miss Claudia takes care of her while I go to work.” She said, “Well, my mother chooses to work at home so she can be with her kids. Why don’t you choose to do that?” I said, smiling very politely, “I choose to work in an office instead.” Mallory chimed in, “Yeah, and when I grow up I’m going to work in an office too!”

Things I Admire About My Siblings

Jana – Her determination (going back to school as a single mom is one example)
Aimee – Her creativity
Amy (my sister-in-law) – Her generosity
Casey – The excellent way he’s raising his son

Two Things That Will Make Me And Chris Laugh Like Loons (That No One Else Would Understand)

What? I want a jellybean!
All these lovers! Posted by Picasa


Mostly I Never Cry At All

This is one of my very favorite pictures. It was taken in October 2004 at a pumpkin patch farm near our house, just a few minutes after I realized I was pregnant again.

Whatever do I mean by that? Partly it was that – sorry, I hate this expression – we’d just started “trying” and conditions seemed favorable. But mostly it was that there was country music being playing in the background at the farm and I kept getting weepy. At one line in one particular song, something about “living here in Arkansas working at a Wal-mart” I got actual tears in my eyes. Because I’ve never lived in Arkansas, nor want to, nor worked at a Wal-mart, nor wanted to, I wondered at my bizarre sensitivity to this song for a few moments before thinking, “Hey! I must be pregnant.”

Crying at odd moments defines pregnancy, for me. (Although the first warning sign of Mallory was an out-of-the-blue craving for cocktail wienies.) One night when I was pregnant with Mallory, Chris and I saw a segment on a Food Network program about a dog who, every day, got an ice cream cone from his neighborhood ice cream truck driver. Something about this happy dog and his unconventional treat just really got to me and I just started to bawl. Chris has probably never laughed so hard at me. Fortunately he wasn’t around to witness what happened with Phoebe – I was driving to work one day and suddenly remembered that Cheerios Christmas commercial. You know the one, with the grandma sitting with a baby in his highchair, and she’s pushing Cheerios around saying, “This is your uncle in Dallas” and “Here’s your cousins in Cincinnati” and then she pushes two O’s together and says, “But we’ll always be together at Christmas.” Oh my how I cried at just the memory of that commercial.

Anyway, I was right, that day at the pumpkin patch – I was pregnant. And now we have two little girls to take to the pumpkin patch this year, and I couldn’t be happier.


Yard Sale. YARD SALE!

Anyone who doesn’t hear Tom-Hanks-as-Woody-the-Cowboy screaming that line…hasn’t spent much time around small children. Or at least around small children who like to watch Disney movies.

We had a yard sale this weekend – we being me, Chris, his sister Amy, and his mom. Yikes, it was exhausting. There was much hauling of boxes and furniture and standing around and chasing Mallory and Phoebe about the driveway all Saturday long. I made a hundred bucks – not too shabby, I guess. Chris made about $75 selling the “dregs” of his toy collection. The main point, however, was to sell our old living room furniture because we’re getting a new sofa and chair today (it’s being delivered as we speak!). We did sell our beat-up love seat for $25, but there were no takers for the beat-up sofa sleeper or the recliner. Alas, but that’s the way it goes.

Most of what I sold was baby stuff – clothes, bouncy seats, playmats, and so forth. It was a relief to see it go. Right after Phoebe was born I had the urge to have another baby – that has long vanished. I am so done. I love my kids, and I love watching their personalities unfold and seeing them grow and all that, but man, it is grueling, this parent business. I don’t think I could do that first year of babyhood over again.

Just Finished Reading

Little, Big by John Crowley. It took me about six weeks to read this novel, and it’s about a family who believes in fairies. If that doesn’t have you running to your local bookstore I don’t know what will. But honestly, this was a beautiful, beautiful book, so well-written and full of wonderful characters. Here’s a quote:

She held his hand, but oh, he was too big now for her to gather him to her, hug him, cover him up with herself and tell him all, tell him the long, long tale of it, so long and strange that he would fall asleep long before it was over, soothed by her voice and her warmth and the beat of her heart and the calm certainty of her telling: and then, and then, and then: and more wonderful than that: and strange to say: and the way it all turns out: the story she hadn’t known how to tell when he was young enough to tell it to, the story she knew now only when he was too big to gather up and whisper it to, too big to believe it, though it would all happen, and to him.

Isn’t that just a perfect description of the difficulty of being a parent? Isn’t it lovely? I don’t think this book would appeal to everyone, but the whole time I was reading it, I was wondering why it took me so long to discover it. And when I finished it, I went right to my local bookstore to buy another John Crowley novel.


Things That Are Bugging Me Today

1. For the past couple of months, I’ve had an extra $175 in my checking account. Every time I try to balance my checkbook, there it is -- $175. I’ve re-added and re-subtracted and re-counted many many times and I always get that surplus. Where did it come from? I guess I should just be grateful for my good fortune but I’m certain that the instant I try to spend that money it will disappear and I’ll be $175 in the hole. So I’ve just been using it as a “cushion” – like when I need a tank of gas on Tuesday night (I get paid on Wednesdays). But it never goes away! I’m so confused.

2. I tried on a pair of khaki pants and liked the way they fit so much that I bought the same pants in denim and black as well. The denim ones are too big and the black ones are too small, but of course I didn’t realize this until I’d already ripped off the tags and washed them. Same pants! Same size! So why don’t they fit the same?

3. My four-year-old’s recent horrible behavior. This deserves a longer post but I don’t have the energy for it right now. Because all my energy is being sucked into the black hole of her bad attitude. And yet! Her teachers think she is the sweetest thing ever and her grandparents say she’s a complete angel. So why is she so awful around me? Me, her very favorite person in the world!

4. My boss and I (who between us comprise our entire department) had to move to a new office this week and I can’t get my keyboard and mouse arranged to my satisfaction and I think I now have carpal tunnel syndrome and my bad shoulder is hurting as well. Plus now Boss and I are thisclose to one another and there’s no one else around and he can hear and see everything I say and do. Which, as a model employee I shouldn’t be bothered by that, but still.

5. The vending machine on my floor is out of Diet Coke.

Last Friday night we were driving to dinner in the rain and noticed that Phoebe would laugh every time the windshield wipers swiped. She was just delighted. It’s funny to think that she may have never seen or noticed windshield wipers before (she’s only been facing forward in the car for a short time.) How lovely it must be, to be a baby and to have so many new experiences in each and every day. It must help to make up for all that falling down that babies do.


Lucky baby; poor kids


As you can see, Phoebe found her Christmas present. It was craftily hidden right the middle of our bedroom floor. Is anyone surprised that Chris was able to find one of the elusive and coveted Tickle Me Elmos? I personally think we should just sell it on ebay; I can't stand talking Elmo toys. Phoebe will of course love it. The first thing she does most mornings is sit up in bed, peer over the side, and say, "Mo? Mo?" until someone fetches her an Elmo toy.

On January 19, 2005 (which happened to be my 33rd birthday), my fair city was hit by a freak snowstorm, and the result was a traffic gridlock that paralyzed all the major highways, byways, and boulevards for hours. I left my office at 2:30 p.m. and didn’t get home until midnight. I could’ve driven to Chicago in that amount of time.

The worst part (other than the fact that I was pregnant and after three hours on the freeway I really, really, really needed to pee but it was another four hours before I could get off the freeway and find a bathroom) was that Mallory was stuck at daycare while I (and Chris) were stuck on the highways. Luckily, I was able to get through to my father-in-law (the phone lines were jammed too) and he was able to go rescue her by 6:30 or so. She ended up sleeping at their house that night – her very first night away from me.

This impromptu sleepover has become one of Mallory’s strongest memories; she often talks about the “day it snowed.” Last week we drove by her old daycare and she said, “Do you remember that day it snowed and you were stuck in straffic?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Papa came to pick me up and I cried because I missed you,” she said.

“Yes, I missed you too,” I said. “But you know, you were really lucky that Papa was able to come get you. Lots of kids had to spend the night at school because their parents were stuck in traffic too and couldn’t get to them.”

“Why didn’t their Papas come pick them up?” she asked.

“Well, not all kids have papas who live close by the way you do,” I said.

Mallory sighed. “Those poor kids,” she said. Pause. Then she asked, “Are they still there?” Posted by Picasa




This past weekend was a hard one for me-as-a-mommy. I don’t know if it was the constant rain, or that the kids were both getting over illnesses, or just the fact that I haven’t had twelve seconds to myself in, oh, about 15 months (I exaggerate) – but I spent the whole weekend wishing I had a nanny. Or a decompression chamber. Or at least a set of earplugs.

But at the same time, I realized how very lucky I am. No, I don’t mean lucky because I have two (mostly) healthy, bright, funny, sweet kids, although that’s certainly true. (On Sunday night, when Phoebe was finally back to her old self, I said to Chris, “I’m glad she’s feeling better. I was beginning to wonder who took my baby.” Mallory said, “Who cooked the baby?”) I’m lucky because I have help. My inlaws live exactly twelve minutes away, and although sometimes I joke and say that’s twelve minutes too close, the truth is, I don’t know what I’d do without them there. On Friday night when I thought I couldn’t take another minute of my demanding 4-year-old and my whiny 1-year-old, I was able to leave them both with the inlaws and go out for a quick bite and a trip to the grocery store with Chris. On Sunday, we were invited over there for dinner and I was able to relax for a bit while Mama and Papa gave the girls a bath. I’m so spoiled in this regard. Two of my siblings are single parents, and my other sister (I don’t know why I’m being mysterious here – I mean Aimee) lived far away from family when her second baby was born. I don’t know how they do it, or did it. I mean, I know that I, too, could manage on my own if I really had to, but man, I am so glad I don’t have to.

That makes me feel guilty, sometimes – that maybe if I were a better mother I wouldn’t get so overwhelmed. But speaking anthropologically, I’m perfectly normal. (Aren’t you glad to hear that? I’m sure you were worried.) I read a fascinating book last year called Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection. It was a multi-species examination of the evolutionary aspects of motherhood and infanthood, and the bottom line is that infants of all species have had to develop specific traits to encourage their parents to take care of them, and that mothers have to make certain decisions about whether any particular offspring is worth the investment of care -- for example, human babies tend to be born fatter than they strictly have to be, because parents assume that fat equals healthy, and thus more likely to survive, and thus more worth the time and effort it takes to raise them.

Also, different species have vastly different levels of investment, depending on how fast their infants develop. Baby mice, and kittens and puppies, are born completely helpless, but they mature really fast and leave the next at seven days, or ten weeks. Human babies are also completely helpless (and in fact are born about three months before they’re ready – mothers have evolved to deliver earlier because our brains have gotten so big – that’s why newborn babies are so twitchy and squally and generally unsociable – they really should have more time in the womb) and stay helpless for a really, really long time. Really long. Can we say really? And, to get to the point I began so very long ago, in other primate species (monkeys, chimps) and in the “primitive” human societies that anthropologists have been able to study, mothers and fathers are very, very rarely left to carry the full brunt of parenthood by themselves. These mothers, after all, have to continue to be productive members of their tribe, and to gather food and build nests and arrange for protection and so forth, and they can’t do that effectively while providing 100 percent of their infants’ care. So they are surrounded by “allomothers” – grandmothers, aunts, younger females – who help out with the babies and with the daily tasks of survival. It really does take a village; we’re not supposed to have to do it all alone.

I guess knowing that doesn’t particularly make it any easier when you have a bad day with your kids, but hey, there it is, for whatever it’s worth.

And I will add that it’s not only for selfish reasons that I’m glad my inlaws live so close – I’m also glad that Mallory and Phoebe know that there are other people who love them and can take care of them. My only wish is that we lived closer, or at least equi-distant, from MY parents, so they could get to know them better (and so my inlaws could catch a break too!).

ART for the Day
You’re going to think I’m making this up but it’s really true. Mallory loves to write letters, by which I mean, she dictates a note to me, folds the paper up in an envelope, and puts it in the mailbox, usually with a Sesame Street sticker affixed. (Mostly I remember to fetch them out of the mailbox, but not always, which means that our mailperson must think we’re a bit nuts.) The other day she dictated thus: “Always remember to write this: ‘Dear Mama and Papa, here is a candle for you in case your lights run out, and always remember that. Love Mallory.’ The first ‘always remember’ is for you so you’ll remember what to write, and the second ‘always remember’ is for them, so they don’t forget about the candle.’ ” Did you get all that? Posted by Picasa


Sick Days

My mom's comment last night made me remember my own bout with chicken pox. First, sorry, Mom! I remember we were all sick at once (and that I was the first one to catch it) but I didn't remember it took us so long to get better. I do remember that I was sick on my birthday (my 7th), that my grandma brought me popcorn (I don't know why), and that I was so spotty that I was scared to look at myself in the mirror. Oh, and that Jana brought some schoolwork home from me and one worksheet was about syllables and it took me forever to understand. I'd been reading for two years already but I guess I'd never noticed that some words were longer than others.

I also remember getting strep throat a lot, and that the whole family had to get shots of penicillin each time I did. Am I remembering that right? Because that sounds kind of weird. I don't think that happens nowadays -- the random shooting up of antibiotics, I mean.

My most memorable sick day, however, was in fourth grade. I woke up with a stomachache that mysteriously disappeared once everyone else had gone off to work and school. I had the whole day in front of me so I did what any 10-year-old would do: I decided to read a book. I selected one that had intrigued me when my mom had read it: Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul.

That book scared the crap out of me. It's about a blind girl named Amanda who gets pushed off a cliff by some hooligans and then her spirit comes back to wreak revenge, and there's some creepy doll and a bloodstained carpet that won't come clean. I read it straight through in six hours and when I was finished my stomach really did hurt. I not only put it back on the bookshelf, I crammed it behind a stack of other books in an attempt to contain its evil essence. For at least a year afterwards I added this postscript to my nightly prayers: Please God, don't let Amanda get me tonight.

That was a good sick day.


Mother of the Year

Mallory has chicken pox.

Mallory has had chicken pox, in fact, since last Thursday. In the interim, she has gone to preschool twice and had three separate playdates.

You can pin my medal on my lapel. The trophy can go on the mantel.

We noticed the first spots last week, but chicken pox didn't even occur to me; I thought they were bug bites. She's had the vaccine! (Note: The vaccine is not foolproof.) And she wasn't sick at all. And she did not itch. And I was preoccupied with Phoebe, who is just miserable with her sore throat and hasn't eaten a single thing since Friday. But last night while giving Mallory a bath I noticed that she had more spots, and that they were kind of blistery-looking. So this morning we went to the doctor's (my third trip this week, hooray) and it was confirmed. She has a very mild case (because she has been vaccinated), which is why she hasn't felt bad and why she's not absolutely covered in spots (they're mostly on her stomach and chest). But she's still of course contagious.

So I extend my apologies to the entire preschool and to her friends and their little siblings. Hope no one else gets the pox.

I do, however, hope that Phoebe gets the pox, in spite of her existing level of misery. Since she's so young, she'd probably have a very mild case anyway, and then she'd have natural immunity, which is much better than the vaccination. As I now know.

ART for the Day

Last night while driving home, Mallory pointed up at the moon. "Look, it's a circle moon!" she said.

"Well, not quite," I said, because in fact the moon is not full this week.

"Yes it is," Mallory said.

"Okay, it almost is."

"It is!"

"All right."

"Is it a circle?"

"Yes, it's a circle," I said.

Pause. "How do you know?"


Phoebe infected; Mallory in denial

Phoebe update: Ear infection and Coxsackie disease all at once! Poor baby. But she slept from 6:30 last night to 8:00 this morning, which is some kind of record for her.

My mother-in-law, Claudia, occasionally volunteers at Mallory's preschool. Yesterday she was there checking all the kids for lice. (She's a nurse. None found.) On the way home she mentioned to Mallory that one of the kids in the 3-year-old room cried the whole morning. "Why did she cry so much?" Mallory asked.

"Well, why do you think a kid would cry so much at preschool?" Claudia asked.

"Hm. It must have been that mommy thing," Mallory said.

After she stopped laughing, Claudia confirmed that Mallory's guess was correct. "I would never cry just because I wanted my mommy," Mallory said. Which, of course, is a huge lie because she did that very thing all the years she was in daycare and even last year and even a few days ago when I dared to go upstairs without informing her first. Sigh. How quickly they forget.



I hate trying to decide whether one of the kids is sick enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. On the one hand I want to wait and see if the symptoms go away without intervention; on the other hand I'm convinced that the symptoms will get much, much worse unless someone with medical training examines the child right away. On the one hand I don't need a doctor to tell me that yes, she has a fever and needs some Tylenol. On the other hand I need reassurance that yes, she has a fever but in a few days she'll be okay. And now I've run out of hands.

So Phoebe seemed legitimately, need-a-doctor sick on Saturday morning; she'd been running a high fever since the night before. Since it was Saturday, I had to take her to Urgent Care (double the co-pay, but half the wait). On the one hand (here I go again with the hands! Stop me!) the doctor I got was a real jerk. He took, I'm not lying, three cell-phone calls from his wife while he was examining Phoebe. In fact he had just checked her ears and said, "Well, it's not an ear infection, so it's probably --" when his phone rang and he left the room to jabber to his wife. Talk about your cliffhangers. It's probably what? Meningitis? Pleurisy? Bird flu?

No no, it was a sore throat. (And the doctor's wife had thrown her back out and his son had a soccer game and his babysitter had quit and I was oh so sympathetic but I also had a sick baby on my lap, so turn off your phone.) Just a virus, nothing to do but wait it out. And here's the other hand about the doctor -- he was refreshingly specific about what I could expect. Fever for 48-72 hours, no appetite, no sleep, very fussy and clingy. Next!

He was absolutely right. Phoebe stayed on my lap for all of Saturday and most of yesterday (she did perk up a little bit last night). And if I'd had only the one child, I might have enjoyed it just a little bit. Of course I don't want her to suffer, but there is something sweet about a little person -- who is usually running around destroying your home -- all cuddled up and sleepy on your lap. I could've read a book! Or watched a whole movie on TV! But of course I don't have only the one child, I have another child, and Mallory was not thrilled with the devoting-the-entire-weekend-to-nurturing-Phoebe agenda. She wanted to go to the park, or to do a project (oh the many projects the child has cooking), or to play with her friends. Sorry Mallory, next weekend we'll make it up to you. Or maybe you'll get sick next weekend! One never knows.

Drat. Just as I'm sitting here writing this, my mother-in-law called to tell me that Phoebe has a fever again. This is outside the 72-hour window promised by the doctor and I'm back at square one. Do I take her back in? Do I wait it out? Is it pleurisy after all? Stay tuned!

ART for the Day

Mallory: Mommy, how aged are you?

Me: I'm 34.

Mallory. Wow. That's a lot of money!