Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Princess-Ballerinas!

And the two Bat Boys are over here!

Cute! And no, we hadn't coordinated ahead of time.

Rosie at 5:30 AM

Here's my front-tooth-free girl after getting her Tooth Fairy $. So
much energy for early in the day! I'm just as glad her dangling
snaggle-tooth is gone--this gap will look nicer for Picture Day on

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Camilla Cream, Fully Costumed

It's very bad case of the stripes indeed. Camilla's bag is full of the
Lima beans she won't eat. We're ready for Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween 2009: A Bad Case of Stripes, David Shannon

Has anyone out there read "A Bad Case of Stripes" by illustrator David Shannon? It's about a little girl named Camilla Cream who wants to fit in with her friends so badly that she decides to deny herself her favorite food, lima beans (because nobody likes LIMAS!?!) to be more acceptable. What happens next? She wakes up with THE STRIPES!

Rosie's class was reading this adorably illustrated book a couple weeks ago and everyone couldn't help noticing how much she looked like Camilla. Her teacher even started calling her Camilla in class and told us that Rosie had "celebrity status." On top of all that one of the very few vegetables that super-picky Rosie eats is lima beans.

For Halloween, Rosie told me that she wanted to be some sort of princess, but I sort of blew that off and told her I'd make her a Camilla Cream costume. Last night, I made her a pink ribbon hair clip, cut the legs off of her 2nd pair of striped tights and sewed them onto a sleeveless white tank, and all that's left to do for Halloween is the face paint!!

I love this costume. Here's hoping that Rosie realizes just how much more awesome it is than any old boring princess.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rosie loves her Grandma

And loves that Grandma S is always thinking of things to do with her!
(Especially taking her to the pool, hint, hint.) :-)

I think that Grandma & Rosie are at the pool, swimming, in the thought-bubble. Don't you love your sparkly silver hair, Mom?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm a volunteer in the Medical Reserve Corps

I first learned about the medical reserve corps a few years ago when I was having waves of panic about Avian Influenza (H5N1). I'd heard on the news that one metropolitan region was more prepared for a pandemic than others and I thought, what about my county? How are my local government and districts were planning to handle a disaster? I also wondered how individual communities would organize if the infrastructure broke down.

During an internet search, I found the Medical Reserve Corps. They were traveling to communities and giving presentations on preparedness and I thought this would be great for my neighborhood association! Or at the very least, maybe somebody else would listen to their messag and share my urgency. They gave a very polished presentation, complete with a well-produced video, which stuck with me. The presenter suggested that I volunteer for the MRC, but I demurred. I had two young, very demanding children at home, and didn't think I could easily pull away.

Fast forward to two months ago, the swine flu has been identified as a pandemic and they were anticipating that a vaccine would be ready later in the season, and I remembered the MRC. They needed volunteers! I signed up online and received an activation notice just last week. I attended an orientation a few days ago and am currently sitting in the preparation session to help with distributing vaccines next weekend on October 24th.

They notified me that my role on the 24th is "administrative assistant" since I have no medical training. I'll be helping with whatever non-medical tasks that need doing, like traffic flow, checking people in, helping with forms, or helping people find the exit when they're done. Of the 1.2 MILLION residents, they're hoping to treat 50,000 of the 220,000 school-aged residents this coming weekend. With this goal, MRC is about 4,000 volunteers short.

The distribution centers are going to be at middle schools with school-age children as the target population. Do go and get your vaccination! Volunteer if you can. It's going to be tough, crazy, and lots of work. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I love watching movies with my family

We sat down to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark because Dash wanted to see Indy shoot some Nazis. In the first few scenes, I hear:

"That's Indiana Jones! He also played Han Solo in Star Wars and Mr. Deckert in Blade Runner."

And, "that guy is going to double-cross Indy! He also played Doctor Octopus in Spiderman II."

"Hey, there's Indy's friend Sala! He also played Gimli in Lord of the Rings and did Treebeard's voice."

It's like this ALL THE TIME, for every movie with big actors. Why not? It gives the kids a better idea that acting's a job and this is all pretend. It takes the edge off the fantasy a bit, but not a big deal. Like Harrison Ford likes to quote, he's just an "assistant storyteller." And a good one he is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Something's Missing!

On Thursday at dinner, Rosie was barely eating—her front tooth was wiggling. She couldn't stop moving it around, utterly distracted. Friday morning, she found me in the shower, tooth in hand. It fell out!

This morning, around 6:30 am, she came into our our bedroom, disappointed that the tooth fairy didn't leave money. I got up and ran an errand. Rosie had been sleeping in Dash's room, so thinking quickly, I suggested to her that the tooth fairy might have been confused and left the tooth money in her bedroom.

Her eyes lit up. "Oh, I hadn't thought of that!" and, "Hey! There's money on my bed!" She's been considering all morning how she'll spend it.

UPDATE: She spent her $5 on her brother! What a sweetheart.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Brandi Carlile live

Wednesday night, I met a few close friends at the 9:30 club to see a live show. I really was just happy to be out—I jumped all over the invitation and didn't even check out the acts aside from looking at their promo photos on the 9:30's homepage. We totally missed the first band (doors opened at 6), but I was stunned by the main act, Brandi Carlile. Accompanied by just a ukelele and her two backup singers, she opened with a achingly beautiful song, Oh Dear, that quieted down that rowdy crowd in the first bell-like notes. "The twins'" and her voices are just amazingly lovely, powerful—I can't remember the last time I heard such range and quality, live. Alternating between hard rock, country, and mainstream pop styles, her endearing twang and friendly, adorable stage demeanor added to just how delightful the entire show was. She had us completely silent for an unplugged song and singing along in three-part-harmony for another. Everyone was utterly charmed by her.

Here is an excerpt from a performance of hers earlier this year. They must have decided to tone down the "country" for the DC audience, because we didn't hear this comedic segment or her covers of these "terrible, uncomfortable," hilarious country tunes. Brandi is incredibly talented, and just so freaking cute! Take a look:

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I Was a Crafty Bastards 2009 Volunteer

Originally uploaded by Dots, Lines, and Polygons
Crafty Bastards was fantastic this year! It's impossible to imagine why (ugh, I hate to admit this) I'd never gone the previous five years. Well, maybe because we'd moved out of DC and we had kids, and the event always fell on my wedding anniversary weekend, but NO excuses. IT WAS GREAT!!

The Washington City Paper sponsors the Crafty Bastards(sm) Arts & Crafts Fair, an exhibition and sale of handmade alternative arts and crafts from independent artists. The fair is all-day, outdoors, free to attend, and offers goods for sale, food, entertainment, prizes, and more! I think there must have been thousands of people there on Saturday.

I chickened out of applying to be a vendor (more excuses) this year, but wanted to participate in some way, so I volunteered. For the early shift. I got up on Saturday at 3:45 a.m. (yes the morning after the events of my previous post), dressed comfortably and with an extra layer, and drove to Adams Morgan to arrive exactly at 5 a.m. Heather McAdams, the volunteer coordinator, was very organized and set all of us hapless, sleep-deprived volunteers up with a buddy and directly to work. I was on "vendor support" and spent the next three hours hauling & setting up large tables around the Marie Reed Learning Center's basketball courts. When we finished with the tables, we hauled and set up tents. Did I mention that there were 147 vendors?

When the vendors started arriving around 8, I helped them haul their stuff, and set up more tables & tents. I was a bit of a tent expert by then! The very last tricky thing my volunteer crew and I did was move a booth that was already set up with delicate ceramics to another location at the event. I think everything went very smoothly and all the vendors were very gracious. Heather sent us a few thank you notes from the vendors, which was just so nice of her! Here is an excerpt:
"[Crafty Bastards] was so thoroughly well thought-out and advertised—a true testament to the hard work of the volunteers and staff. The sheer volume of people in attendance blew my mind and the fact that it seemed to go off without a hitch was equally impressive, I can only imagine how much organization and planning it takes to do something like this and I just wanted to let you know that, as a vendor, I am thankful for all the hard work. Congratulations to the whole crew!"

I spent about an hour after the event shopping at the vendor's booths, as everything was so attractive, colorful and wonderful, it was hard to resist. I made purchases at My Paper Crane (my happy kids are pictured with Heidi Kenney's plush donut and acorn), The Candy Thief, Tina Seamonster, Bossa Nova Baby, This Chickadee, and Maryink.

But, oh. my. god. I was so fracking sore and exhausted. At around 3:30 pm, once all the kids' activities were over, I totally crashed and had a nap. I even needed to slather salve all over my lower back and shoulders before bed. It was totally worth it. I am so very psyched to get more involved next year! I would volunteer again, but hear my vow: I won't chicken out of applying next year!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Empty Bed, or Sneak-out of 2009

The following is a very long post, and it actually happened to us, the Strings, this past Friday, October 2nd.

4:50 a.m. “You Call 911.”
Monkeyrotica (whom I’ll call Joe for the rest of this post) woke me up, suddenly, with urgency.

“Rosie’s gone,” he said.

Still mostly asleep, I didn’t respond.
“She’s not in her bed, she’s not in the house. Help me look for her.”
Blearily, I responded, “She’s probably hiding somewhere. You know, in the closet or under the bed. I’ll check in her usual spots.” I got out of bed, now a little worried.
“No. The front door was open,” Joe told me. “We always latch it before bed, why would it be open?” He was freaked. I started to get cold all over with a lump in my stomach.

I looked in her room, in her bed. Dash was still sleeping on his side of the double bed, but on her side, there was no Rosie. Instead, there was one of her blankets loosely covering several small pillows, arranged to look like a prone body in bed. This scene convinced me that her leave-taking was premeditated, that she was not abducted. My rising anxiety came down a notch. Several high-profile childnapping cases have made the news, and while I’m certain abductions are rare, they do happen and they make good money for the news media, working on the emotions of parents who can’t stop reading the dramatic, terrifying stories. One of a parent’s worst fears is to lose a child. I was terrified.

Joe grabbed a flashlight and went outside to search around the house, calling her name in case she was hiding in the bushes or playing with toys in the backyard. I did the same, inside, looking in closets, the basement, bathtub, under beds. She sometimes hides on us, well past it being a fun game, so I hoped she was just playing an overused trick on us. Dash was awake, so I asked him, “Did Rosie tell you that she was going somewhere, sweetie?” “No,” he answered, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. Joe came back inside.

“I’m going to take the car and drive around the neighborhood. You call 911,“ he directed, then walked outside.

5:07 a.m. “What Was Your Daughter Wearing?”
“What is the nature of your emergency?” the 911 dispatcher asked.
“My daughter isn’t in the house,” I answered, shakily.
“How old is your daughter?”
Under her breath, it sounded like the dispatcher muttered, “That’s wrong.” In a normal tone, she continued, asking for our address, her full name, and other details. She asked, “Is there any reason your daughter left the house? Does she sleepwalk?”
“She has, but she’s never gone out the door before. She’s never gone out the door by herself without asking even during the day. She doesn’t do this.”
“Has she said anything to you about wanting to leave?”
I thought for a moment. “She’s been asking for a lot of playdates and sleepovers lately. I’ve been working late and haven’t been able to schedule them very often.”
When she asked me, “What was your daughter wearing?” I choked up.
“Uh, I… I don’t remember! She dressed herself. I dressed my son, and I… don’t have any idea what she wore to bed.” Long pause.
“Do you know what shoes she is wearing?”
“Can you look around and see if there are any of her shoes missing?” After I fitfully stomped around the house, accounting for shoes, I discovered that one pair was not around.
“Her pink mary-janes aren’t here. They have a Velcro strap.” The dispatcher made notes.
“Is there a creek nearby?”
“Yes, at the end of our street.”
“Does she know how to swim?”
“No! (I cringed inside) But the creek is only a few inches deep, just runoff.”
“Officers are on their way to your house. They should be there shortly.” We ended the call.

I found Dash lying in his own bed, awake and told him, “Dash, Rosie’s not in the house and Mommy and Daddy are very scared. Do you know where she is?”
“No, Mommy.”
I went to the open front door and looked out onto the dark street. It was about 50 degrees that morning. What was she wearing? What was she THINKING? Where would she go? I thought about what I told the 911 dispatcher about playdates and sleepovers and the friends Rosie had named. Fiona was the closest friend, just a block and a half away. My cell phone was still in my hand; I phoned her house. While the call was connecting, two police cars were on my street, headed for my home.

5:13 a.m. “That’s Her in the Orange!”
Brian, Fiona’s dad, picked up at the second ring. “Hello?”
“This is Nylon, Rosie’s mom. I’m sorry to bother you so early…”
“She’s here,” he cut me off. “Kathy just put her in the car.”
“Oh my god. Thank you!!” I took a deep breath. My brain reeled with all the things I wanted to say; what came out was, “What the hell?!?” and, “The police are here—thank you so much.” I hung up and looked outside.

There were two police cars parked in front of my house and three policemen were walking through my yard. At the same time, Joe was parking at the top of our driveway and Kathy was pulling her minivan in behind him. The light was on inside her car and I could make out a small figure in the backseat, wearing an unfamiliar orange hoodie. The policeman was close enough to address, so I announced, “That’s her! My neighbor brought her home!”
Following my gaze, he said, “Your daughter? That’s her in the orange?”
Rosie got out of Kathy’s car and I could see that she had on a long, bright orange, terrycloth beach coverall that I bought her for swim camp. I never would have guessed that was what she would have put on to go outside. She ran into the house, past me, straight to her room, slamming her door. The policemen conferred; two of them stayed, the rest left. “We almost had the search helicopters in the air,” Officer Cook told me. “I’d like to talk to Rosie.”

While I went to get Rosie, Dash was doing what any four-year-old boy would do with big, uniformed men with weapons in his house would do: he was showing them his toys. “Look! I have a big duck!!” I heard him say. Joe tried to talk me out of getting Rosie; he was so worked up, he was afraid to explode at her in front of everyone. Rosie was on her bed in the dark. I told her she scared all of us especially her daddy. She needed to come out right now, apologize to Joe, me, and the policemen. I had to practically drag her out of her room, down the hall as she dug in her heels, grabbed door jambs, trying to stay out of sight. She kept her head down and locked her arms around me as we entered the living room. I sat in a chair and she sat in my lap, still tucked up, trying to stay small. I hugged her to me and she grabbed my arms, looping her hand around them, adjusting them. I realized she was trying to hide behind my arms, from the policemen, from everyone.

The policemen talked to her, asking her to calm down, telling her not to be afraid. Officer Cook explained to her how unsafe her actions were, how scared she made everyone. She made short, quiet responses, unwilling to talk. I was torn between wanting to yell at her myself and wanting to hold her forever.

What in Hell Was She Thinking?
Joe left for work, the police took more information and left. Everyone was up and it wasn’t even 6 a.m. I wanted to take a shower, but what if Rosie walked out the door while I was showering? How was I going to keep her from leaving? Wait, that’s illogical, but my world was off-kilter. My trust in my daughter’s good sense was shaken. Somehow I got through the morning, got to work.

Later that morning, I called Fiona’s parents to learn their side of the story. This is what Kathy told me. Kathy and Brian are early risers, getting up before 5 a.m. to talk before they start their days. They were in their kitchen having coffee together when they heard a tapping on their back door; Brian peered out the window but didn’t see anything. Then their front doorbell rang. Brian was shocked that Rosie was at the door. Kathy told me that Rosie was completely calm and asked, “Can Fiona have a playdate with me?” Rosie only started to seem shaken when Fiona’s parents’ anxiety showed. They asked, “Do your parents know you’re here?” “No,” she told them.

Kathy had a talk with Fiona after she woke up and learned that the two girls had made plans for this. Rosie was going to come over after dark so she and Fiona could have a secret sleepover. Neither of the girls had thought through any other details. Kathy asked, was Rosie going to tell her mother? No, because her mommy would say no.

Got that right.

I had to leave work. I couldn’t think, couldn’t be productive. I was just phoning friends, other parents to see if they had insights for me. Pretty much everyone was shocked that Rosie did something like this at six! Isn’t this more of a teenager thing? Where did she get the idea for the pillows? (I’m guessing it was from a scene in The Iron Giant). How would I keep her from doing it again? I visited my friend Staci, who has a psych background and she helped me guess that Rosie was seeking independence and suggested I call the school counselor.

While the school counselor had no experience dealing with this particular activity in any grade school children under her charge, she had ideas. Before yelling and setting punishment, talk what happened through with Rosie. Find out what motivated her. Was she scared or excited? Whatever logic drove her to make the conclusions might surprise me. Rosie’s an artist, she said. Ask her to draw a story about her experience. That might help you all understand what was going on in her head.

All that I’ve gotten out of Rosie was that she “wanted to go for a walk” and that she “wanted a playdate with Fiona.” We are considering all of this carefully and are trying not to go overboard. So far, her punishment is that she can’t have any playdates for a week. She knows what she did was wrong, since she deceived us when she snuck out to see her friend. Having the police come to our house and seeing everyone so upset must have shaken her up. I hope to g0d anyway.

Does anyone have any similar experience or advice? Please leave it in the comments.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The plight of the barrista

Most days, my mom comes by to watch Rosie until her bus comes, I drop Dash at daycare, then head on to my office to spend my day in an insular office compound. I get stinky office coffee and eat bland cafeteria food. Once I'm there, I rarely leave the building until it's time to head home. I eat at my desk and do my work. On Thursdays I mix it up a bit.

I telework on Thursdays. With this school year's 30-minutes difference in the bus schedule, I have time to take Rosie to her bus stop. We still leave at the same time, because there's ridiculous traffic if we linger. So, on the way back to the neighborhood, I have time to get a decent, properly made coffee.

Today Rosie said, "No coffee for you, Mommy!"
And I was all, "Huh? why not?"
Rosie replied, "I don't like you bringing your coffee to the bus stop."
I said, "Okay, I'll leave it in the car."
"No, none for you! No coffee at all."
"How about if there's a cookie in it for you?"
"Yay! Yes!"

As we entered the cafe, there were two customers leaving. While I made my coffee order (french roast), I noticed that the barrista looked depressed. We were the only customers in the cafe, so she was talking loudly with her coworker.

Barrista1: "This was an absolutely PERFECT latte! Just look at it."
Barrista2: "We were out of vanilla syrup. She wanted vanilla syrup."
Barrista1: "But I think it's the best I've ever made! It's beautiful."
Me, chiming in amiably: "A work of art."
Barrista1: "Exactly! I can't stand to let it go to waste..." (looking meaningfully at me.)
Me: "I like latte...and the foam on that one is really superbly done."
Barrista1: "You can have it for free. You'd be doing me a favor to drink it."
Me: "Sounds great!"

Rosie and I left the cafe, me with two coffees (one of them an exquisitely made, specialty coffee), and her with a very small, fresh, delicious chocolate cookie.

We were both starting the day off well.
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