Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not with a bang, but a whimper

Thursday was supposed to signify the end of the substance of my law school career. No offense to my Negotiations professor, but that topic-- while quite practical-- isn't exactly substantive. Sure, it's nice to know the fancy names for strategies like good guy-bad guy (a.k.a. good cop, bad cop), splitting the difference, and the visceral opponent, but really, that class comes down to practice. So my last class of substance was to be this past Thursday. The culmination of four long years of law school in my Constitutional Law II course.

It happens that I really like the professor in that class. I find him entertaining. The material is quite relevant and timely (because it's all about civil rights), and it's a subject matter that will be tested on the Bar exam.

But I didn't attend class on Thursday. You see, my throat has really been bothering me, and at the gentle prodding of one of the administrative professionals in the office, I decided to take a trip to the doctor for a strep throat test. It came back positive. Along with a diagnosis of a double ear infection. And I found myself thrown back in time to my first year-- my first semester-- of law school.

Now, when you're a first year law student (or a 1L), you don't miss class. Because you're scared to. And your professors make a really big deal of it. There were two pregnant women in my first year property class. Neither one missed even a full week after giving birth to their children. Our professor wasn't what you might call understanding about these sorts of things. As someone who's been out in the work force for more than a decade now, I find it slightly appalling that no adjustments are made for women giving birth, but whatever. When we went to China to get Marcie in the fall, I missed two full weeks of class. I didn't exactly have an option. And I didn't give my professors one. ABA rules allow you to miss a certain percentage of class, and I knew as long as I didn't miss more than those two weeks, I'd be fine. And I was.

In fact, in the past four years, I've missed 11 classes. Total. That includes the two classes I missed the spring of my second year for work travel. And the one class I missed in the fall of my third year because I was in the semi-finals of a moot court competition which conflicted (I eventually won the competition). And the six classes I missed this past fall for our trip to China. And the class I missed to do my mock trial, which was my final exam for a class this spring. And then this past Thursday.

Eleven sounds like a lot. But it's not, considering I attended class four nights a week for something like 30 weeks a year. Some nights I had more than one class, even. In fact, I have taken twenty-two academic classes. Say an average of two classes per week, fifteen weeks each. So 22 (courses) x 2 (classes/week) = 44. Multiply that times 15 weeks, and you get 660 class meetings. Wow. Can that be right? If it is, and I've missed 11 of 660 classes, that's around .016 or 1.6% of course time total in four years. Not bad. Though, that depends on whether or not you think attending class is worthwhile. For me, law school is just far too expensive to justify blowing off a class.

Anyway, I was saying I have strep throat. So I didn't go to class on Thursday. Instead, I picked up Casey from preschool, grabbed Marcie from her grandmother's house, and took them to the pediatrician to be tested. Casey spent our time in the waiting room running back and forth across the area while I timed him with my stopwatch. When we got into the room to see the doctor, he drove the toy truck around, loudly providing sound effects. And after the doctor swabbed his throat to run the quick culture, he sat on the table and sang. Loudly. When she came back in to run the same tests on Marcie, she commented on his energy level. "Yeah," I quipped, "he doesn't seem sick. But if you think this is high-energy, you should see him healthy!"

The culture sat while she checked out Marcie. Who has two ear infections. Hmm. Sound familiar?

It turned out Casey was positive for strep. Marcie was not, though they agreed to run the longer culture and start her on antibiotics anyway for the ear infections. The kids and I spent Thursday afternoon eating ice cream and watching Ice Age together.

So I missed class. I left a long, rambling, apologetic voice mail message for the professor, and I followed up with an e-mail. . . . what a bummer of a way to end law school. Absent.

When I was a 1L, I attended my final property class of the semester. With strep throat. I told the professor I had it, and I asked if I could sit in a different seat because the woman next to me was pregnant. I was expecting him to tell me to go home, but he didn't. So I stayed through class. I grew progressively sicker over the days that followed, despite the antibiotics. I stopped eating. Couldn't drink. My throat was swelling larger and thicker. I was listless. I was dizzy. I couldn't drive. My mom flew in to help take care of me, forcing Popsicle after Popsicle into me to nurse me back to health. My doctor later confided that he was surprised I didn't end up hospitalized due to dehydration. I missed my first final exam. I called the school and asked if I would be able to lay down if I needed to during the test. They told me to reschedule it, and I did (I did need a doctor's note for that). I laugh when I think about my question now. It must have sounded very strange to them because in law school exams every minute matters. There would have been no time to lie down for a minute if I became dizzy.

It all sounds so crazy to me now. How frantic I felt. And even this time when I found out I had strep throat-- I called a friend of mine who sits next to me in class:

"Should I go and wear a mask?" I asked him.
"Don't be crazy," he said. "You should stay home and take care of yourself."
"But what if he talks about the final?"
"Then I'll tell you what he said."
"And what about the new material?" I worried.
"You took a class on the topic last semester." (He was right; I did.)
"Okay. Then I'll stay home. But please e-mail me the notes right after class."
"I promise. I will." And he did, too.

So even though I do have a Negotiations class on Monday evening, I feel like law school is kind of over. Except for finals, of course. I've been a student for half my married life. I was a mother for a mere 8 months without also being in school. Don't get me wrong-- I'm in for one heck of a summer of studying while I prepare for the Bar Exam. But my last class-- well, I guess it was rather anti-climactic. Since I wasn't even there.

It reminds me of the T.S. Eliot poem The Hollow Men, which ends like this:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

His poem was about the Lost Generation, lost hope, and the emptiness of humanity. I don't think law school has been been hopeless or meaningless. But I sure didn't go out with a bang. Me with my strep throat and double ear infection. I think it's pretty fair to say I went out with a whimper. Or at least whimpering.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rude New T-shirt. Seriously Rude. **UPDATED**

A blog I read recently posted about how offensive this new sale item is. I actually hesitate slightly to post it because I don't want to give this company's website any additional traffic. Now, I'm not particularly savvy about fashion trends, or really any trends for that matter. So I had to ask my much cooler, hipper co-workers what this means. Here's the item for sale:

So this is a reference to fashion, apparently. "Black" is very trendy and hip in fashion (so I'm told), and when new styles or colors are "in," people say they are "the new black." As in: Green is the new black.

Hmm. So why would Urban Outfitters think adopting is the new black? Because Angelina Jolie and Madonna have recently received a lot of publicity for doing it? That's a lame reason, if you ask me (and clearly Urban Outfitters didn't). Because, truth be told, celebrities have been adopting for years and years and years. Decades, even. Look at Mia Farrow, who has ten children through adoption. Or Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Or Calista Flockhart. Or Meg Ryan. Need I go on? The fact that there has been a lot of publicity about it recently-- does that make the act of adopting a trendy activity? Or even newsworthy, for that matter?

I mean, I've always kind of thought that if Angelina could expedite an adoption because of her celebrity-- or if she could draw attention to the plight of children in Africa or Cambodia or wherever, then good for her for using her star power for something good.

But I've never thought any of those celebrities adopted because they wanted good publicity. I cannot imagine anyone adopting a child so that people will pat her on the back and tell her what a good things she is doing. That's just not what adoption is about. It's not about "saving" a child. Adoption is about creating family. Adoption is about love.

So you can imagine why equating adoption with some fashion trend would be, well, offensive to anyone who has or is adopted. And that's a lotta people. So, if you feel so inclined, and would like to let Urban Outfitters know their misguided attempt at humor is . . . less than funny . . . please e-mail them at


To those of you who have e-mailed me and posted comments about this, thank you. To those of you who have written to UO, thank you, thank you. You can see in the comments that Kyndra let me know UO is no longer selling the item. Which is great news. Now I think it's time for them to take the image off their website, though, don't you? (Yeah, I know it's weird for me to say this seeing as I have a picture of it on this blog. But I'll remove it when they do.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Casey's Antics

Some time last weekend, when I was off changing Marcie's super gross diaper and filling in these lovely specimen containers (pictured to the left), which came complete with tiny spoons attached to the tops, Casey called out to me from the family room. "Mommy! Mommy! Help! Help!" Elbow deep in poo, it just wasn't a good time for me to drop everything and go running. Instead, I yelled back, "Are you okay?"

Casey cried out, "Mommy! Help! It's Mickey!"

Mickey is not Mickey. Mickey is a small Minnie Mouse doll Casey's older sister (his birth sister) gave to him when he was first born. A tiny infant. That first week we were there, both his sister and his brother carefully selected small stuffed animals from their personal collections and gifted them to Casey. At the time I recognized it as thoughtful. Now that I have a four year old myself (Casey's brother was four when he was born), I recognize the enormity of the gift-- of giving away one of his own toys. Anyway, Casey loves this Minnie Mouse doll Haley gave him. He knows it's from her. Sometimes he insists he can't sleep without it.

So I finish changing Marcie, and we return to the family room. This is what I saw:

Need a closer look? Here's poor Minnie:

We turned on the ceiling fan, and down flew Minnie. Casey thought this was hilarious and insisted on trying to get Minnie stuck on the ceiling fan again, until I finally took her away for the rest of the day.

The next day, Casey surprised me by getting dressed all by himself. Take a gander:

Yeah. The pants are backwards (I think the shirt might be, too). And he's wearing two different colored socks (though each had a match, I think). And the outfit's not exactly matching. I was able to convince him to turn his pants around, but that's what he wore all day. I'm just hoping the people at the grocery store understood this was a four-year-old asserting his independence and not a lunatic mother who was color and pattern-blind in an extreme way.

He sure does make me laugh . . .

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tragic, really

I mostly opt not to write about whether or not I agree with China's decisions regarding . . . well, just about anything. As the lucky recipient of their generosity in sharing one of their nation's richest resources (their children), I mainly choose to feel grateful and keep my mouth shut. Okay, it's true that I kind of defended China when that one guy wrote about how they are selling their babies to Americans and setting unreasonable requirements to qualify. But this is a little different.

You see, from what we know, China places between 400 and 700 children each month in homes outside their country. We don't know how many children are in orphanages in China. But we do know that there are many, many, many waiting families around the world-- just longing to be matched with their children.

It seems like if China wanted to, they could place more children with families abroad. If they wanted to. They like to keep the number to a certain range, though. And I suppose that's their sovereign right. As is the one-child rule in the first place. But the fact that the wait for a Chinese adoption has grown so dramatically in the past couple years makes this story(Cases of Forced Abortion Surface in China) from NPR all the more tragic.

Here's a brief summary of the article, which you can listen to at the above-link:
Chinese law prohibits births to unmarried couples. It also sometimes allows families to have a second child if they pay the hefty fine to do so. But recently, in one area that is over quota on its birth statistics, officials have been cracking down and literally forcing women to have abortions-- late, late, late in pregnancy. At the seven-month-mark and beyond.

Now, I've never carried a baby to term or anything. I don't know what it feels like to have something wiggling around inside me. To feel that life grow. But I imagine if I had, I would be horrified to have someone literally rip the child out of me against my wishes. Whether or not you are pro-choice or pro-life, I think we could all agree that when a woman chooses to carry a baby to term, she should be able to. I know that these are examples of women who wanted to keep and parent their children. But if I were a betting woman, I'd venture to bet that those women, given the choice of a forced late-term abortion or placing those children in stable, loving homes-- well, they'd choose the latter. And I guess that what seems particularly sad to me about all this is that it's a lose-lose-lose. The baby loses. The baby's mother loses. And families anxious to have additional members lose.

Call me judgmental, but I think it's just tragic, really.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

So Much for THAT

Last night as we were getting Casey ready for bed, he insisted he wanted to wear his underwear and not a pull-up. This isn't something we've ever discussed with him. His pull-up is soaked when he wakes up in the morning, and it doesn't matter if we let him have water before bed or not. It's pretty much always soaked. So I know that nighttime toilet training will take quite a bit of effort for us. We'd sort of decided we'd wait until after I took the bar exam and try toilet training him in late summer/early fall. I have no idea if this is particularly late for nighttime toilet training, but our pediatrician told me at his four-year-check-up not too worry too much about it. He explained that many kids wet their bed well into their elementary school years (good times) and that some kids just don't have that kind of control until around age 6. So I haven't worried about it.

But when Casey asked, we weren't going to fight him on it. We made sure we put the rubber sheet/pad under his sheet. We kissed him good night, and he snoozed away. Around 10:30pm, when I was getting ready for bed, I woke him up and took him to the bathroom to urinate. And he did. Quite a lot.

When Jason came to bed at 2:45am (don't ask), he checked on Casey, who was still dry.

At 5:45am, I heard Casey coughing, so I went to check on him. His bed wasn't soaked or anything, but he was definitely wet. And a little upset about it. I sent him to the bathroom to pee while I changed the sheets and got him some dry clothes. He'll shower before he gets dressed.

I feel a little badly for him. But I'm not sure I have it in my to wake up every 3-4 hours all night long just to check on him and take him to the bathroom. Well, that's not exactly true. I mean, I am up every at least every 4 hours between the two of the kids as it is. . . but it seems like waking him up twice between 8pm and 6am would be awfully disruptive to his sleep. Sigh.

So I guess we'll just have to see how it goes . . .

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Aw, Shucks!

A couple of months ago, I asked Jason what a meme is. I see them all the time when I'm perusing the blogosphere-- and I still don't really know where the name came from. But for those of you who don't know, a meme is kind of like a game of online tag. You are asked to participate in writing about a topic (often related to yourself), and then you tag a certain number of people to do the same. For instance, there is one out there called Real Moms. And the originator has a whole blog in which she posts links to this topic.

So, on Thursday I received a comment to my Pigtails post from Amanda D. over at Tumble Dry. Now, as you can tell from my links, this is one of those blogs I read religiously. I check it every day. Sometimes more than once a day. For me blogs are like miniature autobiographies. Some of them are practical, like Parent Hacks. Some of them are heartwarming. Some are hilarious. Some are just brutally honest. But in all of them, I see some reflection of my own world, or at least a world I'd like to be participating in, and so I return again and again.

Anyway, I was immediately drawn to Amanda's blog from the very beginning. Maybe it's that she has two children. Maybe I felt a connection because she lived in the Pacific Northwest, and I also spent some time there. Or maybe it's because I sense a kindred spirit in her political viewpoints-- and I envy her willingness to bravely discuss her views, while I worry about disclosing mine for loss of readership (me and my self-censorship, darnit). Sometimes she cracks me up. Sometimes she makes me cry. Often she makes me think. Mostly, I return to her blog, though, because she is such an eloquent writer. She just describes things with such an aptitude-- she is a writer. So when I got her message that she'd nominated little old me for a thinking blogger award, you can imagine the honor I felt-- I feel! Thanks Amanda!

I'm not the best at commenting at others blogs and remembering not to just lurk-- but I suspect (based on the number of comments I get compared to the number of page hits I receive a day) that I'm not alone in this lurking phenomenon. So it's especially nice to be asked to participate in the blogging community with such a thoughtful award nomination (no pun intended).

Now it's my turn to nominate 5 other bloggers for Thinking Blogger Awards. I hope that they will come back to this post and leave a note in the comment section telling you all where they posted their own Thinking Blogger Award nominations. . .

My first nomination goes to Danielle over at South Cackalackin'. Yeah, she's been a little . . . uh . . . remiss in her blogging responsibilities in recent weeks. But really, if blogging becomes a chore than it loses its purpose. So I don't really mind. When Danielle does post, she speaks the truth. Now, in good faith, I should disclose to you all that I know Danielle. Really know her. Like, since second grade. She is my longest-lasting friendship and my childhood best friend. And I still can't imagine the world without her. She is one of those people who does the right thing and for the right reasons. I really admire her.

My second nomination goes to Mike, who blogs over at In It But Not Of It. Now this is a blogger whose blog I don't think I've even left a comment on. Ever. I can't remember why I was looking at law school blogs, but one day I was, and I came across one called BarelyLegal. The writers had completed law school, and this one had begun a new blog. His posts on life as a Walmart employee almost caused me to spit soda out during my lunch break one day at work (Of course, I can't find that blog post now that I'm looking for it-- but trust me, it was funny). He is hilarious.

Next, I'd like to nominate Julie at Son of My Heart. Julie's son is from the same part of China that Marcie is from, so I hope she and I will always stay in touch-- at least for our kids' sake. The reason I'm nominating Julie's blog is because I am so impressed by her frankness. Sometimes, as an adoptive parent I feel like I can't be frustrated with my kids. Like I should be so happy because I'm so lucky to have them that I should never be depressed or feel overburdened. I worked so hard to get them-- I should just feel blessed all the time. I suspect this is actually not just an adoptive parent phenomena. I suspect that many parents, especially those with an infertility past, also feel like they have no business feeling frustrated by their kids. But with adoption, at least, I feel like I'm always being watched. Perhaps it's those follow-up reports by social workers just "checking in" to make sure we're being good parents. Now, I wouldn't want it any other way for the sake of the kids, but you gotta admit, there's some added pressure there. Anyway, I digress. The point is that Julie really struggled with her son when they returned from China. And she tracked those struggles. Now anyone who adopts a child, especially a child who has been in someone else's care for an extended period of time (like months), knows that attachment can be an issue. And people who haven't struggled with it look at you like you're nuts and tell you that you are nuts and that things will be fine. But that's just not always the case. . . Anyway, I think Julie has done an amazing service to people just by telling her story. Thank you, Julie.

My fourth nomination goes to Mary Mia at Salsa in China. She and her husband Rod recently adopted two beautiful girls from China. Twins. I started following their blog when I met Mary Mia in a yahoo group for waiting parents. I don't think I've posted more than a couple times (if that), but I love reading the girls' antics. And I am always impressed by Mary Mia's positive attitude toward parenting.

My last nomination is for Gene at Brother Blue. I don't know that he'll respond to this award-- I've never seen him write about a meme before. And I won't be hurt if he doesn't. Gene's blog is different from all these other blogs. I can't explain how that is. His blog is about his daily life. So maybe it's what he does for a living that makes his blog unique. You see, Gene is incredibly self-reflective. This is something I strive to be-- sometimes online, but often I do this reflection in the privacy of my own mind. Gene's willingness to share his progress makes him a nice role model.

So there you have it. My first meme. And you know I'm super lazy about linking to things from my posts, so this took me forever to do. Check out some of their work. . .

P.S. In trying to find examples in their blogs about why I enjoy them, it was super useful when they had labels for their posts and I could essentially search within a topic. So I think I might start doing that now. . .

Friday, April 20, 2007

And Now a Word on Virginia Tech

I've given a lot of thought to writing about what happened at Virginia Tech on Monday. I have mainly avoided news coverage on the topic, since reading about the horrific events on CNN's website Monday. I gleaned all I needed to on the shooter in my less-than-five-minute drive from work to school the other day. And I heard an earful from investigators about the (in)appropriateness of the media's use of the shooter's packaged photos and video, sent to NBC.

Of course, there are two schools of thought on the media's reaction. One is that it is news. It is information. People have a right to know. The other is that giving the idiot who shot up a college campus a public forum to ooze his offensive manifesto gives him exactly what he wanted. For surely, NBC wouldn't have broadcast the information had he not shot up a college campus.

I feel badly for NBC. I understand why they shared the information. And, of course, their behavior falls well within their First Amendment constitutional rights (at least as this almost-finished-with-law-school-and-terrified-of-the-bar-student understands). But there is a big difference between what is permissible or legal and what people should do. NBC's ratings shot up something like 26% from sharing the material, so there's certainly an incentive for them to do so. And I have to wonder if we should admonish a news agency for sharing information the public clearly wants to know about.

On the other hand, television and radio is what I consider a push medium, as compared to the Internet, which I think of as a pull medium. What I mean by this is that when I flip on the television or the radio, I'm not doing so because I'm seeking the particular news story the media has to share. (It is true, of course, that sometimes I am looking for news on the topic on which they are reporting, but there are always many other topics on which they report, even in the same newscast, about which I am not interested.) So the television and radio stations push the news they want to push. With the Internet, on the other hand, I use my search engine to actively seek out information on a given topic. I've pulled the material from cyberspace, and I can control what I read or don't read. Sure, I could turn off the television of radio (and I have), but sometimes not before it's too late. And sometimes, information so permeates the TV and radio, that a topic is difficult to avoid.

So what do to? A part of me wishes the media had reported that there was this information, and if people were interested in it, they could hear all about it in 1. a single broadcast, to be aired at X time on X day, and that would be it; or 2. on the Internet at X URL, where there would be information available for those seeking it. While these seem better than broadcasting photos of a shooter brandishing weapons and spewing ignorant hatred, I'd still prefer they not give him any air time at all.

I was thinking about how this might all lead to copycats-- or just other crazed maniacs who might want to make themselves famous by shooting up some public place. Really, what we're teaching people is that all you have to do is shoot up a fast food restaurant if you want to be famous (which actually happened near here when I was a kid. The guy killed 21 and wounded 19 in a McDonald's- and I still remember hearing about it more than twenty years later) .

What should we be doing instead?
We should be focusing on the lives lost and injured because of this tragedy. And I know we are-- today is a day of mourning for them. But I mean more specifically. I mean the individual people. I would like to know who they were, what their hopes, dreams, and plans were. What kind of people they were. I'd like to hear about what we lost as a nation because of this tragedy. I can't help but wonder if these kinds of tragedies gave more air time to the victims (both living and deceased)-- if it became a tribute to them, an opportunity for their personal manifestos (pieced together by families and friends) to air, if there would be less of an incentive to kill in the first place. Yes, yes. I know the guy was likely a deranged lunatic. But I'd much rather hear about where these students were headed in the next days, weeks, months, and years of their lives than about why this guy killed them. I'm satisfied by knowing he was mad because of x, y, and z (and I'm not writing his reasons here intentionally); I don't need to hear his reasons in his own words.

I was in Oklahoma back in 2001 coaching my high school students at the National Forensic League Championship Tournament (speech and debate). It was the week in June that the Oklahoma City bomber was executed. I remember it clearly because all the university televisions were silent, rolling the names of all the victims lost in that bombing. The media didn't spend time recounting the bomber's motives or his crime. It focused squarely on the victims. And this is where the focus should be. Sadly, I don't remember a name of a single Oklahoma City victim. Even after visiting the memorial. Yet I know the names of the bombers.

I wish, instead, I knew more about the victims. I wish we all focused on that. Giving shooters and bombers a public forum to decree their beliefs just fuels the flames of future would-be maniacs. So whether or not there is a newsworthy reason to report on it, I don't think we should be spending our time there.

You'll notice throughout this very long post, I never once mentioned the name of any shooter or bomber or other terrorists. This was quite on purpose.

Post-script #2
After thinking about this post today some more, I realize that I referred to all bombers and shooters as deranged, maniacal, idiotic, and a whole slew of other pretty hostile terms. But I also want to acknowledge that I don't know much about any of them-- these so-called psychopaths. And I suppose it is possible that at least one of them wasn't an angry a-hole, but instead a seriously sick bastard. And I mean that with sincerity and not the bitter sarcasm with which it may appear to drip. I don't mean to suggest mental illness excuses the behavior. But i can't help but conclude that if there are sick people out there-- isolated and angry ones in particular-- we need to do more to search them out and help them. Sigh. I sure do wish our country did a better job with mental health care-- which is a diatribe for another day. We have terrible systems in place for healthcare. . . and that's an even bigger topic for another day. . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pig Tails

This morning, in between meetings, I received a very important e-mail from Casey's grandparents (the ones she stays with while I'm at work). Take a peek for yourself:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


One of my favorite things about watching the kids grow older is how their language has evolved.

Here are a few more things Marcie says with clarity, now:
  • grandpa
  • sticker
  • popcorn
  • milk
  • water
  • truck (that one, she says duck for)
  • mine
  • belly button (which she can identify on herself)
  • nose
  • ears
  • eyes

And Casey has been having fun with words, too. This morning, after he convinced me I should be the one to take him to school today, instead of going with Jason, he sang this as he (literally) skipped out the door:

The Farmer and the Dell
The Farmer and the Dell
Mommy's taking me to school
the Farmer and the Dell.

I was pretty impressed with the creativity of using the rhythm and beat but changing the words. He's always enjoyed music. He watched the Leap Frog Letter Factory maybe five times to learn their phonetic alphabet song.

For me, language is so important. Well, for everyone, really. But while many people think in terms of pictures, I think in terms of words. When people describe how something is going to look to me, I don't get an image of it in my head, necessary. I see the written, descriptive words. I'm just not very spatial. So it's been especially hard for me to watch Casey struggle with language-- and when he pulls out a little ditty like that one, it really warms my heart.

The Best Diaper Rash Cream EVER

So the past 9 days have been a little traumatic for poor little Marcie. Maybe it was only 8. It doesn't really matter. One day is one day too many.

You see, last Monday, Marcie came down with a bad case of diarrhea. This is so different from the little girl we met a mere eight months ago. Back when we had such worry over her constipation. Anyway, I will spare you the details (for once). But I will share that it was acidic and painful. Every time she pooped, she cried. We knew exactly when to change her diaper because she'd cry and ask us to hold her.

Around 6 days into it, I called the pediatrician's office. The triage nurse explained that they would see Marcie, but there wasn't much they could do-- most stomach bugs like this one run a 7-10 day course, and we should call back in that window of time.

That was Saturday. Over the course of the next 48 hours, things got progressively worse. She went from 8 diapers a day to more than 15 during day time hours (and another two at night). Her smooth, pale bottom grew splotchy. Then angry. And it was painful for us to even pat it down with the softest, gentlest Charmin (because the liquid on the wipes irritates the skin).

And we used Vaseline. Lots and lots of Vaseline. Which I've come to recognize as something of a miracle worker. I used to tease my husband that he and his mom reminded me of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Remember how he used Windex to cure any problem? Zit? Use Windex. Rash? Use Windex. Well, Jason and his mom are kind of like that with Vaseline. Dry skin? Use Vaseline. Dry lips? Use Vaseline. Scrape on the leg? Use Vaseline. It turns out that Vaseline really does protect the skin-- anywhere on the body. And it creates an amazing barrier to acidic poop. So we used lots and lots and lots of it on Marcie.

Monday Jason took Marcie to the doctor. Since then, we've been collecting stool samples into these smallish vials that have formaldehyde in them. I say we, but I haven't actually had to do any of the collecting. We'll drop them off tomorrow and have the lab run a culture just to make sure there's not some out-of-control bacteria floating around in there, since Marcie was on antibiotics a couple week's ago. And the doctor showed Jason the best diaper rash cream EVER.

Want the recipe? Here goes:

Dry a stripe of lotrimine on the palm of your hand.
Next to it, draw a stripe half that size of hydrocortizone.
Drop on a splash of milk of magnesia.
Rub them all together in the palm of your hand.
Spread on child's privates.

We've been using it for less than 48 hours.
The bumps are gone.
The angry red is gone.
The irritation is gone.

We'll keep using it for a few more days because there may be some yeast growing that we can't see with the human eye.

But WOW. What results. Someone should create that mixture into a paste and sell it. And send me some royalties if they do since it was my idea to market it. Hey, maybe I should patent the mixture? Nah. No time. But use it. It really is amazing.

Oh. And it doesn't hurt that Marcie's feeling much better-- stomach bug is definitely clearing through her system. . .

One other note on this topic--
We've been very fortunate to have Marcie stay with her grandmother while we are away at work. This means she gets one on one attention all day long. A personal playmate. Who cooks for her. And sings to her. And speaks to her just in Cantonese. A person who holds her when she's sick. And loses sleep worrying about her at night. And who collects stool samples during the day.

In the fall, Marcie starts preschool full time. When she gets sick, Jason or I will have to take time off to take care of her. Of course we don't mind doing this. But I was thinking how this stomach bug lasted 6 work days. And yesterday and today, although better, I couldn't send her to school like this. So that means 8 work days. And since she wasn't 100% today, I couldn't send her tomorrow, either. Which makes 9 work days. You get the point. Nine days is a lot of days to miss work. Especially for Jason, whose company doesn't appear to have a sick-leave policy. What do people do when their kids are sick? We sure have been lucky to have the help of family . . .

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Crossing Over

Last year for Mother's Day a good friend of mine bought me the book Mommy Wars. It's a collection of essays by working moms and stay at home moms (who are also working moms, in my opinion-- just that they focus only on the job of motherhood, as compared with juggling motherhood with another, different obligation). The title sets the scene, doesn't it? That we moms are in a war. It starts with the premise that there is a divide between working moms and stay at home moms. Maybe there is. But I bet both sides feel judged by the other. And that's really too bad.

When I grew up, I lived with both my parents. My dad who worked outside our home as an airline pilot and an Air Force reservist. My mom who worked inside the home as a mom-- preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning up, carpooling us, making sure we completed our homework, setting boundaries-- the usual things parents do. That was how my parents opted to divide the labor.

One Valentine's Day when I was around 11 or 12 years old, I asked my mom what was wrong with her. My friend had just received a pair of Guess! jeans from her parents. I got a box of drug store chocolates. My friend's mom worked at a "real" job. I actually think my exact words to my mom were: "Are you stupid or something?"

Yeah. It was terrible. I wasn't an easy middle-schooler. I like to think I was much better as a high schooler. I hope I was. Now that I'm a mom, I can actually imagine how much the question must have stung. Of course my mom isn't stupid. And really I just wanted to know why she didn't have a job outside the home, like everyone else's mom did.

My mom handled the question with incredible grace. This doesn't surprise me in retrospect. My mom is very gracious. She didn't slap me, didn't yell at me. Didn't even turn on her heels and walk away. She actually took my question seriously and explained that she, just like my friend's mom, had her college degree. That she had chosen to stay home with us. I'm not sure why it was that up until this point in time, I never even contemplated whether or not my mom had gone to college. I guess it just never came up. It wasn't until I was applying for college that I learned my dad had an M.BA. Which he earned while working full time for the Air Force while I was still in diapers.

Anyway, my mom explained that she and my dad made a decision together that one of them should be home with us kids. And she liked doing that job. I don't know how uncommon it was to be a stay-at-home-mom in the 80s. I had friends whose moms stayed home and friends whose moms didn't. It wasn't called being a stay-at-home-mom back then. Nowadays in the occupation category if you write SAHM, people actually know what it means. Back then, they were called housewives or homemakers. I like the second better than the first. She was more than a wife at home. But homemaker doesn't really do it justice either. She didn't just make our house a home, either.

I have since apologized for the clear disrespect I showed my mom, of course. Numerous times. It doesn't undue the pain I caused her, I imagine. She has never brought it up.

A few years ago, I asked my students to interview their parents. I wanted them to get a sense of the sacrifices many of their families had made so that they could provide a better life for their children than they'd had for themselves. It was part of a unit on immigration, and I hoped my students would see a connection between their parents' hopes and dreams for them and the hopes and dreams of many generations before. I never asked my students to do an assignment I didn't do myself, so I called my mom and interviewed her about her hopes and dreams for me. It was a conversation we'd never had before. And I was surprised by her answers.

When I asked her where she saw me in ten years, she told me she saw me working and raising a family. I was stunned.

"Working?" I asked. "You mean teaching or something?"

"Yeah," she replied. "I love you, Karen. But you are meant to be busy. You would be bored if you didn't work outside the home."

"But you stayed home with us. Don't you think it's best for the kids if I'm home with them?"

"I think you'd be a great at-home mom. I think you'd be great at whatever you decide to do." [Does my mom know the right thing to say, or what?!?] "But is that what you want? I just imagined you working at least part time and having kids, too."

Now I had always assumed that I would either stop teaching once we had kids or I would work part time, but hearing my mom say it was so . . . stunning. For some reason, I had assumed that because she chose to stay home with us, she thought it was the best and only right choice for a mother to make. Obviously, I was wrong. How liberating. Now there's a mom who is NOT at war with women who made different choices.

Does she believe that staying home made a difference in our lives? Probably. I know I believe it did. I'm sure my parents made financial sacrifices to make it work. Four kids don't come cheap. But I was never really left wanting. Somehow, from my perspective, it just seemed to work out.

When Casey was born, I took a few months off of work. I was bored. I asked them to give me some work to do at home. After I went back to work part time, I tried joining a playgroup. I didn't like it. They were all at-home moms. Most of them had multiple children. Older than Casey. I don't know if they made me feel unwelcome or if I just made myself feel that way. I won't join that particular group again. I was the only mom who had a job outside the home. I felt judged. I didn't have anything in common with these women on an individual level, except that we were moms. And for me, that wasn't enough.

I did make friends with a couple of moms of kids in Casey's Little Gym class. And we'd get the kids together every week or two to play after Little Gym. And that was nice. But when we sent Casey off to preschool instead of Little Gym, those tentative friendships waned. We just didn't have much in common other than that class.

When I was home on parent leave after we returned from China with Marcie, I thought I would be insanely bored again. I was surprised at how busy I was, toting Casey from speech therapy to preschool, playing with Marcie, making lunches, and taking care of the house. And studying. But something magical happened during that time. I started to learn who Casey's best friends at school were. I found out what his preschool teacher likes to do in her spare time. I had the time to volunteer in his class. I was involved on a whole new level. When I accompany Casey to birthday parties, all know all the kids by name.

Last week, when I visited Casey at school for his class Spring Parade and Egg Hunt, I was part of a small group of parents (there were dads and moms present). Many of them chit-chatted with me. Some asked about Marcie. Some asked about how I was doing with law school. Some talked about how the kids were doing in preschool. They were friendly. They looked surprised when I said I was stepping out so I could get back to work. I think they momentarily forgot I had a job outside the home.

I felt, for the first time, like I had finally crossed over. Like it didn't matter where each of us worked, or how many hours we spent working each day. Like we were all moms, and that was genuinely all we needed to have in common to understand each other. And more importantly I sensed respect for my choice to work outside the home. It is a respect I return for their choices to focus only on motherhood.

I get frustrated when I hear people say they don't work because they stay home with their kids. It is work. It is hard work. It's undoubtedly rewarding work. But it is work nonetheless. Really, we are all working moms. I admire women who stay home. I admire women who balance their work life with their family life. Mostly, I admire women who know that what's best for them and their families can't be decided by politicians or social pressure. That it's an individual choice each family must make. Mostly, I admire women who value the fact that we have choices and honor the choices other women make.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Like Mother, Like Daughter

This is me in my hand-me-down football pajamas. I think I was just over a year old here-- maybe even just over two. Next to me is Marcie. In her feetie pajamas the night before Easter. Our hair is about the same length. We both have "big girl" builds (though as you can see below, by the time I was a little over 2, I had slimmed down substantially). It's fun to compare!

This is me on Easter, when I was exactly one year older than Marcie is now. We share a birthday, so I'm certain of the age difference. Do we look alike?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Last night was a rough one. Marcie woke up every time we tried to move her from the bed to the pack n play, so we kept putting her back in our bed. Ugh. Poor Jason. She was a major bed hog on his side of the bed. At least we're on the same anti-family bed page. No offense to those of you who are big fans, but this mama just can't do it. I don't get enough sleep. I worry about smushing the kids. My sinuses fill up and keep my head stuffy the whole next day (okay, maybe a cold is causing that last thing).

So this morning started with both kids climbing into our bed:

Then we went to see if the Easter Bunny made it safely to our house:

He did! (Or she did, as the case may be.)

Next, we got all dolled up for church and headed out to mass:

Now I know I wrote about this last week, but this week was much the same conversation with Casey. And he seems to enjoy having it during the homily (which is when the priest gives the sermon). This morning went like this:

Casey: Mommy, where's the baby Jesus?

Me: Remember, Casey? He grew up?

Casey: But where is He?

Me: He died Casey, but He came back to life and lives forever in heaven. If you're a good boy, you can live forever in heaven, too. Would you like that?

Casey: Slight hesitation. He died?

Me: Yes, He died. But it's okay. He came back to life.

Casey: Is He here?

Me: Kind of. His spirit is here. His spirit is everywhere.

Casey: Was he sick when he died?

Me: No, Casey. The people got mad at Him and they killed Him.

Casey: Unsure. They killed Him?

Me: Yes. But He came back to life. That's called the Resurrection. Can you say "Resurrection"?

Casey: Jection?

Me: Pretty good, Casey.

We repeated this conversation two or three times. Then I just shushed him and told him Jesus grew up. I relayed this story to my older brother Bob, who said it reminded him of the movie Taladega Nights. That totally made me laugh-- you know what part he's talking about? The part of the movie where the Will Farrell character Ricky Bobby is saying grace and he insists on praying to the baby Jesus because that's his favorite image of Jesus. . .
You know, if you have any suggestions for how to explain all this to Casey, I'm open to them. I don't want to give him more information than he can comprehend. And I haven't really liked any of the children's books I've read. But, like I said, ideas are welcomed!
Anyway, after church, we returned home, where we were met by Casey's cousin Joey and his friend Lucas, who is about 6 months older than Marcie. The kids all participated in an egg hunt (of plastic eggs filled with stickers, jelly beans, and MnMs):

After the hunting, the kids ate and they all went down for a nap. Well, almost. Joey had trouble falling asleep. But he was quiet enough that we adults still got to sit down and have a nice meal together.
When the kids woke up from their naps, just as we finished our meal, they played for a while and then we had dessert. For dessert, we ate our traditional family bunny cake. And I just realized I forgot to take a picture of it this year! Oh no! This was the first year Casey decorated it, and I completely forgot to take that picture. Darnit. Oh well. You'll just have to trust me-- it was cute.
The kids all played together quite nicely. There was a three-year spread in age, but that didn't seem to slow them down. Lucas knows quite a lot of Spanish and ASL (American Sign Language). He seemed startled when I said a couple things to him in Spanish. But Tram really stole the show for Lucas, who climbed right up on her lap and lounged there for a while. We joked that he liked the lumbar support (from her pregnant belly). Boy, was he enamored!
So that's about how things went around here. The sun never came out, but it was still a cheerful afternoon, filled with laughter and good conversation--
It was a nice Easter Sunday.

Easter Preparations

Easter Parade

Casey's school had a spring parade and potluck brunch on Tuesday. The kids made their own hats. This is Casey's. It's pretty tame. One kid had a giant fuzzy ball sticking out the side of his head. It looked like a cross between a tumor and a giant eyeball-- like the character Mike has in the movie Monsters. It just made me smile. One class made bonnets out of paper plates-- the tied them to the tops of the kids' heads with ribbon down around the chin. It was pretty neat looking. I have lots of pictures from the morning, but in the interest of privacy of the kids at Casey's preschool, I'm not posting them. I just don't think it'd be nice of me to do so. . .

After the parade, the kids had an egg hunt put together by the school. Casey had a blast running around finding the eggs. This is the first year he's really understood the whole egg hunt thing, and it was fun to watch him enjoy himself so much. After the hunt, the class took photos. Casey managed to place himself in the middle, in the back row. He had his egg-hunting paper bag with him, which was a big mistake. Because he held the bag over his head, and he covered his own head-- the head of the child sitting beneath him. He giggled. And he waved it. He is definitely going to be a class clown. Exactly the kind of kid that would probably irritate me to no end. . . which is why I don't teach preschool.
Birthday Parties Galore
Casey was invited to a couple birthday parties for Saturday. Grandma took him to one in the morning, and I forgot to send the camera. But I remembered it when we went to the one that afternoon. Marcie was invited to join Casey for the afternoon party, and she really enjoyed herself. She rode around on a little rider, played on a little wooden school bus, and gobbled up cake. In fact, she gobbled up all the snacks put in front of her. At one point, the little boy sitting next to her got up, and while he was gone, she glanced at his plate sideways and then stole all the pretzels off the plate! Then, once cake was served, Marcie put on her best independent mannerisms and fed herself!

Casey had a good time, too. He played with his friends, climbed in the fire truck, slid down the slide, and sang Happy Birthday at the top of his lungs. He even took turns with the toy truck, letting another little boy drive it around the Kidsville play area.

Coloring the Eggs
After the party, we connected up with Casey's cousin Joey and his parents. They came over for dinner, and we let the boys play with the Thomas trains. Then my brother Bryan and I set up the egg coloring kits and let the kids color eggs. The thing about Easter egg coloring is that it lasts all of about 5 minutes. Really, with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old, they don't have the patience to dip it in multiple colors-- so you drop the egg in, let it sit, and pull it out. Not that exciting. But then again, it's good to set up traditions now. And egg coloring will be a family tradition.

I also feel compelled to mention here that we don't use these eggs in the egg hunt. I'm much too worried that one won't be found by the hunting kids, and we'll end up with rotten egg in the front yard-- blech. So these colored eggs are used for deviled eggs as part of the Easter meal.

The Busted Toilet

It wouldn't be a family holiday if something didn't go wrong, now would it?!? We had set aside Saturday for Jason to clean up the back yard-- it still has straw from October!!! But as luck would have it, the toilet busted Saturday morning. The bottom of the tank already needed a new seal, but then the screws holding the top tank onto the seat base rotted and water gushed out whenever someone flushed. I didn't even know there was a top and bottom to the toilet-- I thought it was all one piece!
Now I joke about it being unlucky, but really-- if the toilet is going to break, the best time for that to happen is a day you've set aside to work on house projects anyway. Needless to say our back yard did not get cleaned up. It took Jason and his dad all day to repair and replace the toilet's parts. It wasn't as simple as replacing those screws. Some custom gasket of some kind also blew (and I'm sure even though I'm calling it a gasket, it's not)-- and there were at lest two runs to Home Depot involved. But we got a new toilet seat, and the toilet functions like new. And just a note to those of you out there using those blue tablet things to keep your toilet water clean--- I'm pretty sure they are the culprits for rotting the rubber screws. We won't be using them again!
Ready for Bed
We wrapped up the evening by setting out Easter baskets and reading bed time stories. We even left the Easter Bunny some carrot sticks to snack on as he worked his way through the neighborhood. Casey was worried he'd need some "dippin' sauce" (Ranch dressing), but we convinced him that the Easter Bunny doesn't need anything fancy. . .

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Letter to the Sun

Dear Mr. or Ms. Sunshine,

Hi. My name is Karen. I live in San Diego. You might have heard of the place? I think you have some special contract with the city to be shining because people call this place sunny southern California. I know we aren't the sunshine state or anything, but does that mean you have to disappear at random times, leaving us to wonder where you've gone?

In December, when we had that week of amazing weather, I told you how much I appreciated the warmth and the blue skies I could see. But I also told you that it was winter-- and not to be ungrateful, but in the winter time, even when the sun is out, it's okay that it's cold. Did you take that to mean that I didn't want warm weather? Are you punishing me? Because that's totally not what I meant. And I'm really sorry I offended you.

But now it's April. And we bought some cute dresses for Marcie. And even some shorts for Casey. And I got some cute light-weight capris at Costco. We'd really like to wear them outside without freezing. So, please Mr. Sunshine, do you think you could bring back the warm weather? I thought the gray and gloomy sky was perfectly reasonable for Good Friday, seeing as it marks a gloomy Holy Day. But what about Easter? Do you think you could maybe give us some rays for el Rey? And how about just in general? Could you please stop teasing us by just letting the sun last a day or two before bringing in the overcast sky? I sure would appreciate it.

Oh, and just so you know how much I do appreciate the sunshine, here's evidence of how happy it makes the kids.

Thanks so much!


P.S. Even though it hasn't been that sunshiny this spring, the kids are still all smiles-- but that's just because Marcie recently learned how to smile for the camera!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spoke too soon (and other information)

So last night wasn't so great. So much for my three nights makes a pattern theory. Casey did swimmingly well-- slept all night in his own room. Marcie, on the other hand, did not want to be in that pack n play. She was up at 10pm. Again around 1:30am. Again (for the day) at 5:00am. Not good for this sleepy mommy. It's no wonder the girl needs an afternoon nap!

In other news, today while I was kissing Casey good night for his nap, we were talking about his birth family and how we are going to visit them. We went through the whole family-- everyone we're going to get to see. Casey seems especially excited about seeing his cousin Kayla-- who must be around 13 years old by now! Anyway, this morning I had read the book How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole. When we were talking about seeing his birth family, he asked if he grew in a belly. I told him he did-- he grew in Angie's uterus, and she picked us to be his mommy and daddy. He asked if he'd see her, and I explained that she died. Then I told him how lucky we were that she picked us. "We're so lucky, Casey!" I exclaimed. "We are so lucky Angie picked us to be your parents. We love you so much."

And Casey looked at me and said, "Grandma's lucky, too."

"She is?" I asked. "Why do you think Grandma's lucky?"

He explained, "She says she's lucky all the time!"

I guess he's been listening. . . just another lesson in why we need to think about what we say in front of our kids and the messages we send. They don't miss a thing!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Made a Top 100 List!

I was checking out my stats (I do this periodically, just to make sure people are still reading this blog, heh heh), and I noticed this link from Mother's Day Central. So I clicked it to check out the site, only to discover I made their Top 100 Mom Blogs list. How cool is that?!?

Check it out!

Grandma's in Town . . .

so move over Mommy, 'cause "I want Grandma!" is the newest chant heard in the S. home.

My mom arrived last night after the kids were in bed. Marcie in her big-girl bed-- the one Grandma will be sleeping in this weekend. Casey in his bed, too. We managed to move Marcie to the pack n play in our room without waking her, and she dozed until about 10 to 6 this morning, blessedly. Likewise, Casey slept through the night in his own room. Hallelujah! That marks three nights in a row that both kids have sleep essentially through the night in their own beds.

Now for those of you who are family-bed people-- good for you. I'm not. Sleep is somewhat sacred to me. Like food. I'd give either of them up for my kids if I needed to, but the thing is that I don't. They get plenty of food. And there is no good reason for either of them to be up all hours of the night. Sleeping with us just doesn't work-- three (or four) in a queen sized bed is just too many. All that rolling and kicking and kneading. And me in bed with them? Well it removes the space issue, but if I'm sleeping with one of them, then I'm not sleeping with my husband. And that's just not good for anybody in the family! So trudge forward I must, angling to get my kiddos to sleep soundly in their own beds. Anyway, I'm of the opinion (I must have read it somewhere once) that three nights makes a pattern, so I'm celebrating! How? By sleeping, of course!

This morning it was still dark when we rolled out of my room at 6:00am. (Seriously, what is up with that? Between morning darkness and San Diego spring weather in the '60s, I'm really beginning to question the effects of global warming! Even if neither has to do with this complaint, I'm still questioning the effects!) I was trying to keep Casey and Marcie quiet so they wouldn't wake up Grandma. But she was already awake (we could see the light on under her bedroom door). I managed to keep Casey from barging in, and we just knocked.

Casey is delighted to have a playmate in the home-- one who gives him plenty of individualized attention. Marcie is . . . well, less sure. She did give my mom a high five, though. And that's always a good sign. And later on, after she'd eaten the small snack I gave her to tide her over until breakfast, she managed to convince Grandma to give her some Life cereal by doing the sign for "more" and holding out the little bowl she had in her hand. Sneaky little thing!

Just as well it took her a while to warm up-- it gave Casey some special time with Grandma. Like when I told him I'd race him to the bathroom so he could brush his teeth. And he told me:
"No! I don't want Mommy. I want Grandma. Grandma help brush the teeth." And he closed the bathroom door in my face.

I guess if I'm going to play second fiddle to someone, it may as well be my mom. :)

Monday, April 02, 2007


Yeah. I don't have blonde hair. But I liked the notion of being famous. I also don't have a waist that tiny. So use your imagination. Pretend it's an image of me. Then go read my interview!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Big Girl Bed

Tonight Marcie is sound asleep on her big girl bed. You know, the one that's not a crib. It's a double bed. There's a safety gate. She already managed to climb safely out of it three times on her own tonight. But now she's asleep.

Where's the Baby Jesus?

This weekend I tackled some big issues with Casey: where babies come from and what happened to the baby Jesus.

His aunt came over for dinner Saturday evening so Casey and his cousin could play a little longer (my brother and I had taken the kids to Sea World for a couple hours after their afternoon naps). Aunt Tram is pregnant and due with their second child mid-June. She's a petite woman, so the baby really has no place to grow but out.

I tried explaining to Casey that Aunt Tram had a baby in her tummy. He lifted his own shirt and looked down at his stomach. "No," I chided. "Only girls can carry babies."

"She eat the baby?" Casey asked.

Tram and I chuckled. "No, honey. The baby is in Aunt Tram's uterus." I pulled out Casey's How I Was Adopted book and turned to the page which shows the insides of the pregnant woman's middle. "See?" I pointed. "The baby grows inside the uterus. It's inside Aunt Tram's belly, but not in her stomach."

"Baby belly!" cried out Joey, Casey's 2 1/2 year old cousin.

"Oh . . ." Casey looked uncertain. Aunt Tram let Casey rub her belly, but the baby wasn't kicking.

"Casey, your birth mom Angie carried you in her tummy."

"Angie?" Casey asked tentatively.

"Yes. All babies come from inside someone's belly-- from their uterus."

"You went to China to get Marcie?" He asked tentatively.

"Yes, Casey. We went to China to get Marcie. And we went to Ohio to get Casey. But both Casey and Marcie came from a uterus."

This last sentence was met with this response: "Joey, let's go play Thomas!"

Then, this morning, we went to church. In retrospect, perhaps Palm Sunday was not the best day to drag the kids to mass. But I have been going on my own during lent at school, and there was not going to be a student mass this week because of spring break. So off to our usual church we went. We sat in the back row, close to the cry room. I came with toy trains. And cars. A block. Two books. And plenty of snacks. I'm pretty sure the church frowns on snacks-- but that's clearly a rule created by people who do not have toddlers. So snacks I brought.

I thought things started out okay. The priest led a palm processional (we stayed inside during this). Then we had the first reading. Casey helped me sing the responsorial psalm. Then we had the New Testament reading. So far so good. Then, the passion. This has to be one of the longest Gospels of the year. And it was hard to hear. And Casey started asking questions.

Here is essentially how our conversation went:

"Mommy, where's the baby Jesus?"

"Aha!" I thought. "Apparently I did such a fine job teaching Casey the story of Jesus' birth, he still thinks of Jesus as a baby."

"Mommy!" His whispering became more urgent. "Where's the baby Jesus?!?" Slight pause, followed by, "Are we going to sing happy birthday?"

"No, Casey," I whispered back. "The baby Jesus became a big boy. And then He died. But it's okay, Casey-- because He came back to life. That's called the Resurrection. And that's what we celebrate at Easter." Hmm. Perhaps that's not a totally clear explanation. Casey looked a little confused.

He furrowed his brown. He whispered a little louder this time. "Mommy, where's the baby Jesus?"

"Casey, the baby Jesus became a big boy. He died. But He came back to life."

"He was sick before he died?" Casey asked. This has been a bit of an obsession for him. Casey keeps asking us about Chuffy, our pet pug who died in late June 2006. Casey keeps asking when he's coming back and if Chuffy is still sleeping. This is a hard concept for any four-year old. But particularly for one who has a hard time processing language.

"No. He wasn't sick Casey. The people got mad at him, so they killed him. Then he came back to life." Hmm. That might not be a good explanation-- what if Casey thinks we'd hurt him if we got mad at him? Yikes.

"He died?" Casey asked.

"Yes," I replied.

Then he was quiet for a while. Later, while Jason was holding Casey, Casey turned to his dad and asked, "Daddy, where's the baby Jesus?"

Jason explained, "He grew up Casey?"

"He grew up?" Casey asked.

"Yes," said Jason.

"Well, where is he?" Casey wanted to know.

Jason and I exchanged furtive glances. Then Casey craned his neck around someone in front of us, pointed at the choir director and called out, "I see him! I see the baby Jesus. He's all growed up!" We almost busted up laughing at him and had to shush him.

This was followed not long after by Casey and Marcie enjoying a bowl of popcorn quietly (thankfully). They did a terrific job not spilling the food. Until it was time to say The Our Father prayer. Casey was standing up on the pew, Marcie was on my hip, and Casey was holding the hand attached to the arm holding Marcie in place. Jason was holding Casey's other hand. I sort of pushed Casey down the pew so Jason could reach out his other hand to the woman across the aisle. Casey's shoe hit the contraband bowl with just a few pieces of popcorn and several kernels of corn, and the food went flying over the back of the pew, spilling onto the floor behind us.

So I'm sure everyone is looking forward to our reappearance next Sunday. . .