Spring flowers

Two weeks before Mary was born, I planted several hundred bulbs. It hurt.

But the pain is a distant memory, especially as we’ve enjoyed the splashes of color: first the yellow daffodils…then the purple tulips…then the yellow streaked with orange tulips…then the pinkish tulips…and now just a tiny bit of purple irises.

Recently, Katie realized that bulb plants come up year after year. “Will the people who live here after us see the tulips, Mommy?”

She, like I, thought that was neat. Next spring, some other family will be watching little plants push up through the ground and wondering what surprises await them. Even if they recognize tulip plants, they won’t know what color until it opens up and shows the world.

It was probably just a federally paid worker and not a private gardener who planted the azalea bush in the front that is finally losing its purple flowers. Same thing with the cherry or crab apple tree in the back. But it doesn’t matter who planted them or why. I just wonder if the gardener anticipated the joy his or her work would bring to me years later.

The leaves of the tree in my back yard are now pushing the flowers off. Pink gives way to the green. Bill installed a birdhouse Billy made for Scouts on that tree, and sparrows seem to have claimed it as their home. How lucky we are to be able to watch them from our dining room table as we do school.

My only disappointment, if you could call it that, has been the irises. Unusually hot weather in October caused the bulbs to grow instead of sleep. By November, they were all out of the earth and wondering why the days were not getting longer. In early spring, while tending to the beds, I pulled the dead leaves off, but left the green ones. A few weeks ago, I considered trimming them to the ground, but they just looked so hardy that I decided to wait. Sure enough, I have a few blooms and see more coming. But they are pathetic looking! The fall growth and improper dormancy caused them to be stunted. That’s okay. Next year someone else will see them in their full glory.

Even more on HPV

On Friday I received an email from Russell Goldman of ABC News. He had seen my blog entries about the HPV vaccine, and wanted to interview me for an article.

OK, I’m game, I thought, as I emailed my phone number.

A few minutes later, I was telling him my problem with the vaccine: that the government mandating its use without sufficient proof of its safety and for something that is only spread through sexual contact is wrong.

I don’t have a problem with a parent making that choice for their child (although I do fear that parents are overly trusting and ignorant of the risks, including death). I’m not saying my children will never receive the vaccine, and I can think of reasons why they should get it. My problem is with governmental interference and the use of my children as human lab rats.

After several minutes of making my point and sticking to it, Mr. Goldman thanked me for my time, but he admitted he was looking for someone who was basically just opposed to the vaccine because they felt it would encourage their children to have sex.

No kidding, I thought.

His article is here. He did manage to find a mother who could provide the quotes he wanted, so my voice of reason is missing. It reminds me of research papers in high school and college where I would blatantly ignore any literature that didn’t agree with my thesis and selectively quote those that did. In essence, the HPV vaccine is all good, and the only people who are opposed are religious nuts.

Now, that last sentence was sarcastic, but certainly somebody could quote me out of context to make it seem like I approve of the vaccine.

School on Saturday

I had to run an errand in St. Joseph, Mo yesterday and dragged the kids away from the usual Saturday mid-day neighborhood happy hour where adults and kids alike were outside enjoying the pleasant weather. They were not excited to be leaving their friends to go to a museum for mandatory family fun. Heck, I didn’t want to go myself. But I wasn’t going to waste all that gas to get to St. Joe’s and not do something else while there.

We went to the Pony Express National Museum. It was great. Well, good. I wouldn’t build a major travel vacation around visiting it or even visiting St. Joseph’s, but it was worth the 45 minute drive, and Bill was happy to have four hours of peace and quiet.
Peter in the saddle.
Katie pumping water for the horses.
The kids at a relay station waiting for the mail.
Fritz in buckskin.
Billy in a coonskin cap.
Across the street at a playground they had this stagecoach. Katie is the horse, of course.

It cost $4 for adults and $2 per kid over age 7. In the bookstore, I picked up three books for kids, including two based-on-fact easy readers. Total cost for tour, books and one piece of candy per child for good behavior: $30.

Dining Out

Yesterday evening, I was putting on my coat, and Bill was buckling the baby in her seat when the phone rang. The restaurant where we had dinner reservations at 6 pm was calling to apologize, but the entire place had been booked for a private party, and they couldn’t accommodate us that night. Had this guy waited another minute to call us, we would have been out the door.

We went to the Kansas City Originals website to look for another restaurant. This website is great:

The Kansas City Originals exists to promote dining in local independent area restaurants, to provide diners with a unique local flavor and to raise awareness of independent restaurants both locally and nationally.

I totally dig that idea. When we traveled out here from Virginia last summer, we stopped at chain restaurant after chain restaurant. It was fine, because I needed to feed little children and didn’t need any extra stress related to noses turned up at the different ways individual chefs prepare similar dishes. McDonalds chicken nuggets in Ohio taste just like McDonalds chicken nuggets in Missouri.

But when we got to town, I pointed to the local Applebees and said, “We will never eat there.” And so far, we haven’t. We don’t go out often, but when we have, it has been to privately owned places (although we have done take out pizza and an occasional chicken nugget lunch at nationally known chains).

So, last night we picked another place and off we went. It is so nice to eat at a place that does not have a children’s menu. Mary was the only person in the joint under 25. She received lots and lots of attention, and behaved perfectly. She made me look like a fantastic mother. There was a pregnant woman dining nearby, and I really hope it’s not her first. She’ll be sadly mistaken that babies are really easy, and cry herself to sleep when her little one doesn’t sit nicely for twenty minutes quietly babbling a chorus of “uh-BUH-buh-buh” before settling down to discreetly nurse to sleep and allow herself to be placed on the upholstered bench next to mom.

Babies, by the way, kill the social life of a woman. I haven’t been hit on for ten years. If you are a single woman looking for love, do not take your little niece or nephew out in public.

But babies do wonders for men. I don’t know why it is, but single women flock to guys with babies. My husband, who is a dashing fellow, has been hit on more times in the last ten years than he ever was in his whole bachelor life. And the more children he has, the more attractive he becomes. Go figure.

Apparently, single gay men also are attracted to men with babies. I did not hear the man, who was obviously flirting with my husband, when he asked, “Yours?” If I had, I would have quickly said, “Oh, we’re just friends,” just to see if my husband could have scored a phone number. But Bill proudly admitted to being the father of six and ruined any fun.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening out. The house was trashed when we got home (why did I bother to straighten up before the babysitter came?), but everybody was happy.

Prayer Warriors: To Arms!

Yesterday, I received the following comment on this old blog post:

We found a lump under my daughter’s chin on Tuesday. After 2 antibiotic shots and oral antibiotics the doctors have decided it may not be a swollen lymph node and have arranged for a CT scan. I was scouring the internet for info and found your blog. I found your words comforting and identified with your thought of only God can truly comfort you at a time like this..our husbands may try but that is too much to expect of one person. I pray our outcome is as positive as yours, but covet the prayers of your family and any other prayer warriors who read your blog for our 2 year old daughter, Sarah.

Please pray for little Sarah, and also for her family.

Katie at Bat

Billy and Katie are on the same coach-pitch baseball team: the Orange Dragons. Their first game was yesterday evening. Billy is a solid player and has last year’s machine pitch experience to build upon. Plus boys naturally like to play with balls and bats. I’m not being sexist; this is merely based on observing two girls with older brothers who will set up “house” or “school” with each other and friends and their stuffed animals and dolls in the same yard where the boys are assembled wearing their favorite team colors as they try to decide whether the Cincinnati Marlins will play the Washington Braves or the Atlanta Nationals.

Peter, who is not yet three, has played more ball than my girls.

So, I was concerned that Katie would be like most girls I see who play ball and are clearly one of the weakest members. It’s not that I want her to be a great player. But I want her to have fun. And she won’t have any fun if she can’t hit the ball. And one bad season could make her unwilling to try again the following year.

Happily, I watched her get a hit each of the three times she batted. She was forced out at third one time, but she was able to score the other two times. Good for her! She was clearly pleased with her ability.

Now I just need to work on her fielding ability.

What remains to be seen is if her enthusiasm continues post-season. But I’m willing to bet that the dolls and the tea sets will once again dominate her time come June.

Songs about girls

My whole life, I’ve had the Beatles’ song, “Michelle,” sung to me. When I was little, I thought it was cute. When I was a teen, I thought it was embarrassing. By the time I was in my twenties, I thought it was old. I think I dated my husband because he didn’t sing that song. When I worked, after college and before “retiring” to be a stay-at-home mom, I spent a lot of time on the phone with slimeballs salesmen. At least half of them would sing that to me…and think it clever and original.

Since naming our daughter Mary, I’ve had the line, “Mary, Mary, why you buggin’?” running through my head. This past weekend, Bill and I found Run DMC’s video. It’s pretty funny. But I think you had to be a teen/young adult in the 80’s to truly appreciate it.

Here are the lyrics:

Mary Mary Mary you cold thumb suckin
Lookin for you, but you keep duckin
I wanna find you, I gotta tell you somethin
So just be quiet and don’t say NUTTIN
Mary Mary Mary why you out there stuntin?
Supposed to be with me, but now you’re FRONTIN
We started out new, you used to be true
Now you’re buggin, what’s wrong with you?

“Mary, Mary..” WHY YA BUGGIN?
“Mary, Mary..” I NEED YA HUGGIN

Now that I’ve heard the line in context, I’m trying to get it out of my head. “Michelle, my beautiful” might be annoying, but it’s nice. “Mary, why are you prostituting yourself?” is not a question I’d like to sing to my little girl! (Although the line after that isn’t bad.) I asked my neighbor, named Mary, if she knew of any songs about a girl named Mary. She didn’t.


I spent the first year after Jenny was born singing 867-5309.” I still haven’t found a good song with her name in it.

Katie, though, is much luckier. My parents started singing this one right away, and I sang it often when she was a baby.

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy,
You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore;
When the m-m-m-moon shines,
Over the cowshed,
I’ll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.

The art of digital photography

The best thing about digital photography is the ability to take lots and lots of pictures and merely delete the bad ones. If you have kids who want to express themselves through this medium, you won’t have to pay a ton of money to discover two dozen blurry shots of stuffed animals.

This is Pink Puppy. I fear Pink Puppy will one day accompany a certain daughter on her honeymoon.

Every so often, a kid takes a shot that makes me laugh. I’m pretty sure Jenny is the photographer here. I think kids will ham it up differently for each other than for mom.

Love the eyes.

So what if I have to download 30 or 40 pictures…of pictures

…to get to the one good one? It’s worth the time.