Saturday, April 14, 2007


Lest Wren be forgotten in Spring Break fever I have taken a few pictures of him. This is Wren having his first swing ever. He liked it, I think.

He had another swing yesterday and liked riding facing forward in the stroller. Even though it was naptime he sat quiet and alert for the whole walk.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh the places you'll go [with a ladder]

Yesterday, Frost and Dylan had a playdate in which they hammered nails, hit power lines and climbed fences with a ladder.

The ladder started out okay when they used it to provide a way to climb from our front weeds down to the driveway below. That was fun. It was a shortcut. I asked one of them to hold the ladder while the other was climbing and I noticed while watching from the window that they took this very seriously until I took a picture and Frost did the "no hands" trick.

After a while they bored of climbing up the wall and wandered around the yard finding things to mount with their ladder.

The fence was the most fun. They spent a lot of time climbing along the fence and back again, finally settling on top of the pagoda where I plan to plant a vine this year. They sat up there eating snack and practicing standing up with no hands. I had a photo opportunity and they did a lot of poses for me.

So, this post is all about Frost and Dylan and their ladder and not about all the fizzy fake soda they made with baking soda, water and sugar and drank up there. Yes, you can say "yuck" to this.

Here they go:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fishing with Trout

Frost, Wren and I went to Uwajimaya yesterday as part of our exploration of things Chinese and to restock our cupboards. While there Frost took some pictures and said "Yuck" a lot. I tried to explain that things uncommon to him such as BBQ duck and sea urchin roe are delicacies for some people but the reaction that really surprised me was when he saw the whole fish for sale. In Seattle fish are generally bought in cutlets...
[aside: Wren is asleep in the sling and just coughed, dislodging a large piece of onion from somewhere behind his ear. Someone should invent a bib for baby-wearing women. Wren always has rice and goodies left in his hair when I eat wearing him.]

... and Frost had never seen a small gutted fish. He stared at them in horror, turning away and then looking again as if compelled. He said: "they have big holes in their tummies!" Then paused and asked "Where are their bones?" None of my explanations made any sense to him so I decided to buy a fish. The cheapest and freshest looking was the trout which is how I ended up grilling [broiling in US parlance] an Idaho trout for dinner.

There was a Plan B dinner for Joshua and Frost who, while fascinated, would not eat trout because he is a vegetarian. They had potstickers and I ate the trout with the vegetables.

So, we sit down to eat and Frost is yelling "disgusting, disgusting, its burned, its burned!" as I put the grilled trout down. He is right, it has black blistered skin but its perfectly done. I squeeze lemon on it and say "I wish my mum was here right now". Mum is a great fish lover. "Is that what the fish is saying?" Frost asks. Clearly, he is not cut out for the business of being a carnivore so I explain myself to him and add that he and Josh wouldn't eat my rhubarb crumble either. What's a girl to do with these people?

Finally, I try a ploy to get him to taste it. I say that its a Ninja Warrior Level 3 challenge to eat a piece of trout. He rushes away into the living room as if I am going to chase him with it so I tell him I will shut my eyes. He asks from the living room door, "do I have to eat it?" I answer, "no" but its a challenge. You can come close and just smell it and touch it if you like. I think I have heard somewhere that this kind of thing works to desensitize arachnophobes and am willing him to have a go. I don't know why I am so keen on him trying new things - I guess i want him to not eat meat from principle not from a narrow view of "its not something I have eaten so I won't eat it."

He comes close to look at it. I show him how I eat the cheek out of the trout, that its a tasty piece then I hold out the fork. I shut my eyes and feel a slight tremor on the fork, a shiver on the line. I open my eyes and Frost is chewing open mouthed with a look of triumph.

"It tastes kind of okay and kind of delicious" he announces.
"But I don't want any more."

I have a trout picture I will insert here later but I have so little time in the evenings that I can't start the digital download, import, upload process or I won't have enough sleep.

Like a bird on a wire

Frost and Dylan had a playdate today and all I can say is "Halleluyah for the younger generation! " From the way they play I think that Frost is finally entering that stage of childhood which I remember in which grownups are believed to be slightly dim witted obstacles to freedom. I came to this conclusion when I was watching them playing with sticks in the front garden. They were hitting things and talking about it. Then they walked up the steps and starting hitting the electricity wires bringing power to our house!

I rushed out shouting at them with Wren dangling somewhat. They stopped. I asked what on earth they thought they were doing.

Frost: We are hitting the wires.
Dylan: We hit them already and we didn't get electrocuted.
Me: But if a wire was a bit broken you might get electrocuted. You should NEVER hit electrical wires.
Frost: But we threw a ball at them at Ariadne's party and you said it was safe!
Me: But electricity needs a pathway. It doesn't shoot through the air from the wire to the ball. Your stick is giving the electricity a pathway.
Both: The ball hit the wires!
Me: But then it flew through the air.
[Frost quietly examines his bamboo pole]
Dylan: But we can see where the wire is broken - its up there - we didn't hit there [pointing at the junction area]
Me: But sometimes wires can be broken in a way you can't see. It is much better not to hit them.
Frost: My bamboo can't be a pathway because its hollow!
Me: Okay. Its just a rule. No hitting the electricity wires. Do you agree?

There was reluctant assent and I stayed watching them until a new game was established.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Jump Slip and Bang aka Spring Break Day 2

Frost: "I will show you this game I made up called the Jump, Slip and Bang. First I like jump, then I slip across the room [carpet] and then I get up and jump on the couch and hit my head on the back and then I jump and stand up again"

Frost has again showed great ingenuity in the face of a boring recuperating mother. When the cleaner arrived at noon she complimented me on my pants which were actually my pajamas - black velour with pink stars on. These are the same pjs that I wore to fetch Josh unexpectedly one night after which he warned me I was close to driving a van and wearing a pink track suit and uggs all day (I have asked him to do an intervention if I ever reach this point.)

Wren continues to eat scantily during the day and eagerly all night. I am not sure at what point to put a stop to this. I think I will wait till this cough and cold subside. I am always excusing him for his sleep negligence and waiting for that perfect moment to insinuate Plan B. It never comes - to paraphrase the old hikers dictum - "there is always another cold."

Frost's most ingenious game of the day was called Jumping Numbers. In this game he stood on a bar stool perched above the living room persian carpet and leapt off it onto various points on the carpet. If he landed on the central medallion it was 50 points, a flower off left was 100 points and a particular blue line was even more. Level 2 of this game involved writing numbers on tiny paper squares and laying these all around the carpet then trying to jump on them. The problem with level 2 was the arithmetical challenge of adding 10 000 and infinity to 100 and 55 was too great so I was called on to assist.

Frost is very keen on numbers thesedays and particularly on the notion that numbers don't start anyway. I have lobbied for recognition of ZERO as the point of origination but he asserts that since negative numbers exist that numbers never begin or end. He even made his first totally geek joke:

"The boy couldn't even count to one!" [laughing at his wit]

Meanwhile, digging through the zipper pouch from school I found a journal activity Frost completed. The task was to fill in the blanks on the following sentence and illustrate it:
"My ---------- loves me even when I -------------"

Frost filled it in as follows:
"My baby brother loves me even when I hit him with pillows"

It was illustrated with a picture of Wren on his wedge being bludgeoned with a pillow. I do not know what his teachers think but CPS has not yet arrived to interview me so I presume they take it with a grain of salt.

Calling our children names

When Frost was a baby we used to call him Piggy. He was very large for his age - at about 97th percentile by 4 months - and nursed all the time for hours. In fact, Frost was the benchmark by which I measured Wren and thought he was starving when he nursed for only 15-20 minutes at a time (and still gained weight.) We stopped calling him Piggy when he was almost 3 and noticed our Friends starting to use it too. I could see him hating us when he was 8 years old and being called Piggy in public.

My parents called me "sausage", "monkey" and "cooks". I think these are names born of the British Empire (the English love sausage). I never knew where cooks came from until I read Alexander Fuller's books and learned that it was a pet name for children in her family and derived from a shona word. I wish I had bookmarked that page but I shall have to find it again. Perhaps Dad picked it up from his family in Zimbabwe.

So with all this family history I have been thinking about what we call Wren. Josh started calling him "grunty" when he was born because he grunted all the time. This name disurbed me a little because I worried that it was a symptom of his cardiac defect and so it was a bit like Naming him to Be This Way Forever. I want him to stop grunting - an he has almost done so although he is a famously noisy nurser producing splendid guzzling and gulping sounds. Still, he was Grunty for a few months.

Wrenling and Wrenlicle are easy off the tongue and Frost and I use them all day as pet names. Josh also calls him Wrenly sometimes (reminding me of Renly in the Game of Thrones). I think the ling and licle endings are cute diminuatives and follow in the family of Frostling although Wrenlicle is associated in my mind with barnacle (as in you latch on so hard you are a little barnacle.)

Then there are the less public pet names that are usually only between the sleep deprived mother and her infant. I often call him Boo Boo (I think that Taren was called Boo for a while). I have no idea why this name came up. Perhaps, as ma-ma and da-da are common first sounds in any language Boo is a common first word for mothers reduced to a monosylabic state.

However, the phrase that rolled off my tongue this morning at diaper change and was the impetus for this post was:

"Are you my poopsicle? [checking diaper] No? Are you my leaning tower of pee-za?"

The tragedy of the situation was that I thought this very witty. I have been calling Wren a poopsicle regularly but the pee-za bit really made it Nobel Prize for Literature material [among my few remaining dendrites of course] and I had to show it off.

So, Wren is still without a nickname that sticks. Frost calls him "Cutey", "Mr Love" and "The nicey baby." "and that's it" he says. Its spring break and I have no independent existance so "that's it" I guess.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Wren and I are sitting on the bedroom floor watching Frost jumping on the bed doing his "exercise". He says he is going to live to 100 because he eats healthy food and does good exercise. Mind you, this is the kid who I caught eating candy for lunch scant hours earlier. He tells me that Max is also going to live to 100 because although he eats desert it is desert that "has protein in it."

We are sitting on the floor watching Frost because he complained that "since Wren was born he gets all the entertainment and you never play with me anymore." I conceded that I played with him less than I used to, to which he added:

"Perhaps since you are sick Wren will get sick and die now"

I asked him (in a nicely neutral tone) if he was upset with Wren to which he gave me the mature response:

"No, I don't really want him to die or something bad to happen to him but I wish he would nap more or nap longer so you could play with me."

I agreed. So we sat and watched Frost jumping which was all the non-digital entertainment I can manage right now.

Games boys play

Things are improving since I took my double dose of Tylenol. I woke from a nap with Wren and found Frost sitting in the corridor eating all the easter candy from the bag. It was lunchtime. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was scared by the noises in the house because there was nobody there but there was a scratching noise and the window and at the door. I guessed the noise at the window was a branch blown by the wind and the scratching at the front door was Fat Cat who finds it inconvenient to walk around the back for the cat door.

So thats when I took my Tylenol early and made frost a healthy snack plate.

Frost says "I am wearing two pairs of underwear so if I pee in one pair I can take that off and put on the other pair again"

He has made up a game in which he sits on the couch and throws a pillow in the air. Depending on whether the pillow lands on him or beside him he gives himself points. He does sound effects like "WHAAAB" and "BEE BEE BAAAH" as he makes the throw.

I still have a fever and pain but am able to do some rudimentary housework - those unforgiving things like laundry and garbage which has to go out tomorrow - which has a timetable. Frost is being very helpful but makes every helping thing into a game by hiding things, carrying things in his underwear or pretending to throw out my library books.


I am sick with mastitis (breast infection). I have had a fever since yesterday and am alternating between freezing and boiling. I feel like a donkey kicked me in the chest. I started antibiotics last night but my OB says they may take 24 hours to take effect. This is not fun.

Wren is okay. Frost is cursing at the TV on which he is trying to play a snowboarding playstation game and is wanting to eat easter eggs for breakfast. Josh got up with Wren early this morning but has now gone back to bed.

Outside the wind is gale force. It is churning the spring leaves around like dust motes in a sunbeam and literaly howling at the windows.

Wow, spring break is so much fun!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Quick update

Wren has the sniffles. Frost has a sniffle. Josh has a sniffle and I have a sniffle. We are also sneezing. Josh says its allergies since spring has be suddenly thrust apon us. I don't know since I have never had allergies but its just my nose so he may be right.

Wren slept badly again last night but he now has his sniffle as the excuse.

I am making progress with the Great Milk Donation Drive. I have found two families that want it and now feel guilty denying either of them. I should take this up in therapy!

Spring break has begun and Frost and I have started reading about China. This is my plan to provide some overarching meaning to my days with two kids. This week we are going to learn about China. There is no real reason for doing this although Dad and Ingrid will be flying in to Hong Kong and Taipei on the 18th April and then Dad will be coming to visit us.

Tonight we read about Chinese calligraphy and how to count from 1 to ten in Mandarin. Frost wants to practice painting Chinese letters so we are going to buy some paint at the University bookstore tomorrow. That will be fun.

We are trying to streamline Frost's bedtime down from 2 books and teeth cleaning in the middle to TEETH then ONE BOOK. It is hard on me because I like book reading time but the general tension as Wren shouts and Frost jumps around the room trying to get some last minute lego built is mitigating my pleasure. Tonight it all ended badly as he tried to avoid getting into bed by running away and hiding and then was distraught when I ordered him to bed and didn't come when he cried (because I was nursing Wren). We had a heart to heart discussion about "feelings" and "helping" and "why we do things" and all is now well.

As I said to Josh, we have to honor Frost's feelings of self-righteous grief as well as point out that he is a being a tad unhelpful and there are other people in this family with their own needs.

I have need for ten minutes of book reading and chamomile tea before bed. The good omen is that Wren has not woken in the half hour since he was set down.