Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mum at U-village Zoka

After birding this morning we went to the U-village Zoka and got a table which is a miracle with all the laptops and netbooks around coffee thesedays. I took a few pictures for Mervyn in Adelaide. Here we are with coffee (and Mum's almond croissant is all gone). I am cut off because we were using the autotimer on my tiny camera and it was balanced on an upturned cup.


We had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday. In the morning Tara, Fred, Alex and Phoebe came over for a rather lavish brunch of smoked salmon, pancakes and roasted vegetables with a few rounds of coffee. We lounged around the house and then headed over to Laurie's in the early evening for a delicious dinner.

Wren and Frost sat at the kids table and we shared a most scrummy turkey cooked in a big turkey pot with a lid which made it most unusually moist. Here is Eric at the "ta-daaa" moment and next a picture of Laurie, Eric and I admiring it after it came out of the oven.

Frost would not eat turkey (he told me this evening that he is not a vegetarian but he only finds a few kinds of meat tasty and then only when there are few options WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND AND LEAVE ME ALONE!) This was because I served him some baked salmon for dinner and he was upset. I remain confused because he will eat a burger from time to time and teriyaki chicken because it has soy sauce on it. Hrmm. Here is Frost eating fluffy breadrolls - he wanted two. Wren eats everything including cranberry sauce and gravy.

This is the grownups table before we put it to use and made a bit of a mess of it.

I was utterly exhausted when we came home but still managed to watch the Best in Show of the dog show. Josh and I are considering buying a minature dachshund (because they are cute and it would fit through the cat door).

Wren was not asleep at 9.20pm. I went in and he said he had a sickness and it was sore "here" (his left chest). Nothing makes the parent of a heart kid more neurotic than a kid saying they have pain around their heart. After some prodding he said it was under his ribs and then was OK - he certainly shows no sign of weakness or misery so Josh says he should be fine. I have checked on him a number of times with maudlin fears and have googled chest pain. I think he is ok but between echos, how do you really know? Its enough to drive you to read detective novels.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This evening, while getting naked for the bath Wren took the bath spout off and put it over his hand. "Does my robot hand look terrifying?" he asked. "Yes," I said. He took it off.

"Why did you take it off?"

"It was too terrifying" he explained. "Now I am putting it back on."

"What kind of robot are you?" I wondered.

"No robot, just Wren." He said, looking at me as if I was stupid. "But I am a ROBONIX robot and I need a robot gun and clothes on. " He went off and put some dimes and pennies in the hand.

"Here comes a bullet, pshhshshshkkkkt shooooooting. Braaaghahgahaha."

Frost is not home so this is all his enactment of the art of war, age 2 coming on 8.

"They are breaking things up. When I was your age I said to the robot please could you spare a little bit of toast and he did and I branged it home."

"Sounds like he's a good robot."

"Yes, he is. Brrrrrgggghthth."

"What's that bgggght noise?"

"Its my robot shooting some bullets. Hear the bullets?" He shakes the hand and dimes rattle around and fall out. "PFFFFFT PFFFT." THey hit the Guinness Book of World Records which crashes end over end to the floor.

"What's happening now?" I get no response as some newspapers fly off the couch. "Robot, robot? What's your name?"

"My name is ROBONIC. I am a nice robot. I tend to play fight."

"Do you bath?"

"Uh huh!"

"Let's go bath then."

I was planning to end the post there but from the corridor, on the way to the bath I hear:

"He is a bionic fluck robot."

Uh oh. Does that mean something or is it a chance creative mispeaking? Should I find someone to blame or confess - this is my 2nd child and sometimes I say "fluck."

Weather that makes poets

With Mum visiting from Australia I receive daily updates on the weather in South Australia where they have been enduring a record setting spring heatwave. There have been days of heat over 100 and outbreaks of fire after thunderstorms. Meanwhile, those of us in Seattle today were surprised by a milky sunshine which was strong enough to cast a shadow. Mum celebrated by taking Wren for a walk to the bookstore while Josh, Frost and I went to Frosts first SPS Parent Teacher Conference.

Parent Teacher Conference
The conference was interesting and a bit surprising. Apparently Frost does well in class, is charming, outspoken and very excited by his work. His teacher finds him responsive and quick to grasp subjects. She showed us his MAP Scores (standardized achievement tests) and he is in average range for his class in reading but a bit behind in math. Ms A is not concerned about his math (he is about a grade behind the class expectation) because she sees that he has not been introduced to these topics and once he has he scores in the middle of the class at the end of unit assessments. We asked what areas he needs to develop more and it seems that its a combination of handwriting fluency and the kind of in-depth analysis of books and ideas that he will need for their next unit in essay writing. Frost tends to rush through ideas and jot things down in a superficial way rather than investigating in the depth that will sustain and idea or message through a longer passage. We are going to do that with him at home and write for him so his limitations in that area are not an impediment to developing his ideas. On the writing front, Ms A suggested he learn cursive along with the rest of the class rather than trying to reteach him the bad habits of improper letter formation he now struggles with.

Wren recovered
Thank you for all your support and emails during the battle for Wren's mouth. His immune system finally defeated the coxsackie virus but it was a bitter duel and Wren lost a few ounces due to his inability to eat for almost 5 days. He is feeling all better although he remains highly strung and in expectation of constant playmates and milkshakes on demand. I think things will settle within a few days.

Mum's Visit
Mum has been a rampaging shopping doing all her Christmas Shopping. I feel as if mine should have been done but only the overseas family have received my attention (this is a cunning distraction for those in the family who might be spying on me). She has also been working on editing old family films from Zanzibar where Mum lived from age 8-16. If you are interested in seeing some of it we have a short excerpt on Youtube here:

Rain moving through us
It has now started to rain. Again. I am not complaining. I love this weather - the long weeks of misty nights, cold mornings and pervasive damp. The cedars and firs stand in uniform green against a sky which is easy to look at. Its perfect weather for Thanksgiving and Christmas because you want to have lights and a fire and to have a soft blanket and all those snuggly things that make company easy. Growing up in the Southern Hemisphere where we had big leafed subtropical trees, flirtatious flowers, long tongued bats and noisy birds that ate fruit on Christmas Day, I never quite understood the appeal of Christmas Trees and lights. Mum saw her first string of popcorn threaded on a tree at anthropology and considered taking a picture because it is so queer.

Even though I love this place, crafting my Christmas Card list makes me a bit mournful. I wish I could have a day with each of my old friends from various continents and fragments of my history instead of crafting a little note saying I am well and living in Seattle. That said, I am not crafting many. I have decided to just let my mournful whimsy guide my Christmas Card sending rather than any attempt to be exhaustive. If I fail to send you one I was just in a good mood and enjoying a cuppa frothy milk and a piece of shortbread. Happy Christmas anyway :)

Frost is hunkered down. Ignoring Thanksgiving he is already counting down to Christmas and his unknown hoard of presents. He has told us that he doesn't want one good present but rather many small ones because its such fun to open them. I am not sure whether to respect this wish or to break something large up into many pieces. Today, I took a load of old toys to the thrift store so they have a chance to be bought for Christmas and to make some space for more thrifty discoveries.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wren improved, chickens attacked

Wren is feeling better this evening. Its been a long day though and his mouth looked awful this morning - clustered with tiny blister-like canker sores. He has alternated between periods of happy play and periods of screaming in pain if he tastes / touches / remembers about his mouth. This evening he has improved enough to drink broccoli potato soup through a straw (sores on his lips make it hard to bite) and have some soft bread with butter between long drinks of flat soda. He has drunk a whole cup of milky cool hot chocolate. Mrrmr! I have hope that he will eat normally tomorrow and feel much better.

Meanwhile, I have neglected to write about a startling day for our chickens. A couple of days ago Wren noticed "a vulture" in our garden. It was in fact a raptor which had swooped down and tried to catch our chickens. They screeched warning and scattered - one under a bush and two under the deck. They spent a long time clucking and squawking alarm and refused to come out. The bird flew off when I opened the door but came back and sat on the fence. It looked like a young hawk. We think that it was unable to have flown off with a chicken but could have done one a serious or fatal injury if it struck while they were on the lawn.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Look at my black greedy eyes looking at you

Wren was distraught with sore throat pain when he woke. He wouldn't drink so it was hard to help him. We played with hand puppets while we waited for the Tylenol to kick in and Wren cheered up immediately.

He makes up vivid stories about the animals, in particular TIGER. According to Wren "tigers eat rats, they eat the meat. They don't eat pigs and our friends. RAAARP. RAARRP. He is eating rats. I am hungry. I am small but I am getting bigger. My mummy got smaller and she went to the CITY but I am getting BIGGER."

His pretend stories are very amusing because the relationship between signifier and signified is very loose. We play with a mole and a tiger who want a flower, Wren's solution? Get a hippo and "'tend it is a flower!" Then Tiger 'tends it is a dog. Hippo (who was a flower) now also 'tends to be a dog. Finally, all the animals (and the real flower) are 'tending to be dogs and barking. Its very easy to maintain equity with imaginative flexibility.

By breakfast time (6.20am+1 hour) Granny had an idea about helping by giving Wren something cold to eat. Wren was thrilled and turned around to tell me: "Mumma, its a breakfast icecream!"

Sadly, this happiness did not last. His sore throat worsened and he kept telling me that "my sickness has not gone away" despite Tylenol. He also gets a mixture of Mylanta and Benadryl which is supposed to coat his throat but all it does is knock him out. He can't eat or drink anything beside water (with coaxing) and icecream and is feeling scared, weak and very short tempered.

Like Wren, I want to make this sickness go away. I am going to buy Tylenol with Codeine which was advised if the pain was bad. I think it is. If TV and non-stop adult attention doesn't make it go away you need the big guns.