White Rabbit

Apparently yesterday Shae decided to do some spring cleaning or something, because when I got home from work at least half the contents of her toy box were scattered all over the living room. It was a virtual minefield of forgotten plushies, derelict noisemakers, random puzzle pieces, and these see-through blocks that have totally bizarre things inside them, like half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something. Not a real sandwich -- a plastic sandwich. But think about that -- half a plastic PB&J, inside a block. Am I the only person who thinks that's completely deranged? Yes?

She also found last year's Easter bunny ears, and she just thought they were the best thing ever. For like ten minutes she hopped around the living room, going "Boing! Boing! Boing!" and giggling and not standing still because of course she found those things right at bath time.

She could not manage to get them on precisely correctly (they were backwards), but at least she put them on. Voluntarily. Which only happened because we wanted her to take them off and go upstairs and take a bath already, you filthy boogery creature with your germs and your stinky butt.

Her new thing to say is "What happened?" all the time while making that exact face, in response to any and all questions. We don't know why. I have no idea where kids pick this stuff up. Sometimes we don't even need to ask a question. When she wakes up in the morning, or gets up from her naps: "What happened?" When we pause the TV or fast forward to the end of Sesame Street so that we don't have to watch even one frame of Barney: "What happened?" When we find cheese sticks or fruit snacks in the cat food bowl or in the cushions of the couch: "What happened?" It's cute, but it's getting old.

I also gotta say, I'm kind of sick to death of snot. I had the plague or the swine flu or whatever last week, G has it now, and Shae's had a runny nose on and off for the past year. I'm not going to lie -- I kind of resent that wadded up tissues are taking up valuable space in my handbag that could be dedicated to, I don't know, recreational narcotics or something. Anything. But judging from both my mother's and my grandmother's purse contents over the last 35 years, that's not going to change, is it?



This just in from the CDC and the WHO: we're fucked.

Stories about the swine flu are everywhere, of course, what with half the world suddenly dropping dead all around us, and the other half developing a bizarre and inexplicable unquenchable zombie-like hunger for baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacon!

I don't really watch the news any more, but I do listen to NPR on my way into work, and Morning Edition spent a good chunk of today's broadcast covering the developing pandemic; on their homepage there are eight different stories about it, covering everything from school shutdowns, Kathleen Sebelius and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and an uptick in crime in relation to the outbreak.

So in case you've been living under a rock, I reiterate: we're fucking fucked.

As a hypochondriac, this is possibly my worst nightmare. Do you know what the symptoms of swine flu are? According to a handy webpage from the CDC cheerfully entitled "Swine Influenza and You," like they're trying to sell you on the benefits of a new deep freezer or something:

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: "The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu." So, basically, that plague I had for the past week or so? The coughing, congestion, upset stomach, tiredness, and general malaise? SWINE FLU. I could be dead in a week. I hope my life insurance is paid up.

That's what makes the combination of hypochondria and internet access so dangerous. I made joking references last week to possibly having emphysema and West Nile virus and Legionnaire's disease and asbestosis and an aortic aneurysm, knowing full well that I didn't actually have these things. What I had, I thought, was a bad cold.

Until I found out that I actually have the fucking swine flu. I don't know how I got it -- I haven't been to Mexico lately, I haven't been around anyone who's been to Mexico lately, and I don't even think I've been around many Mexicans. Well, my husband, but unless he's been doing something he isn't supposed to have been doing, he didn't give it to me. Maybe it's been dormant since we visited Tulum? Back in 2006?

In any case: I just want you all to know how much I love you. Please make sure that Shae is well-provided for; the insurance money should more than cover her tuition at Berkeley in 16 more years if it is invested well. My favorite flowers are peace roses, purple irises, and Gerbera daisies (especially pinks, peaches, and yellows). Bury me in red, and play lots of loud and inappropriate music at my funeral.

Until then, if you need me, I'll be over here in my hole, whimpering and eating BLT's.



Man, it's hot today. Like, almost 90°F hot. Unseasonable for April, even with the global warming and all. We're putting off busting out the air conditioners for as long as possible, so today we decided to go to the park down the road and check out the splash park they put in last year in lieu of a public pool.

The good news first: it's a nice "sprayground" (that's their term, not mine, although it is the kind of obnoxious pun that I would have come up with), and Shae had a pretty good time. We were there for about half an hour, 45 minutes tops, and she already has tan lines. No, I am not kidding.

And now for the bad news -- no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, with our fancy camera and our beautiful girl, we kind of live in a bad neighborhood. Like, really bad. Something is off when we're the classiest people in a five-block radius.

Maybe some of it is because we're a bit on the doting side, parentally speaking. If you are willing to accept that by "doting" we actually mean "responsible." We took our toddler to the public water park, yes -- but we also kept her at arm's reach so we could make sure she would stay safe.

The same was not true of other parents, who let their kids run amok, shoeless in some cases, where there were all sorts of ages and sizes of people, probably a hundred if there were a dozen, and grown-ups who could not easily be matched to their children. Possible perverts.

We also had a couple of collisions, all caused when other kids who were not watching and not watched ran smack dab into the Boo. We have a skinned knee, a scratched ankle, and a brush-burnt-bruise on an elbow. Not one other parent asked if our child was okay.

But Shae had a good time, which I guess is the important part. We put Neosporin and enchanted unicorn band-aids on the boo-boos -- she calls them stickers -- but I think that from now on, except in dire emergencies, we'll stick to family pools for our water sports. Devils you know and all that.


Well I Never!

When she isn't busy organizing the bus trip to Boca or giving the what-for to the guys from the lawn service, Gladys likes to stare out the window, watching the passersby ...

... and judging them.

She would not approve of me, I don't think.


Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours

I've written about our anniversary before -- that's the thing about anniversaries, how they keep coming around every year. Last year I kind of didn't make a big deal out of it, since we were in the middle of having our lives turned upside down, but this is one of those anniversaries that ends in a Big Round Number, and since some of our friends who are now married hadn't even met on the day that we exchanged vows, I think this year it's worth a little more notice.

So, to begin with: four hundred thousand and ten years ago, at one o'clock in the afternoon, we got married. We got married in a beautiful Catholic church, a church that has been a part of my family for a long time, the church where my father's parents and so many of my father's siblings were married, the same church where my own sister will be getting married this summer.

To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, from this day forward, until death do us part. I did then, and I do now, and I always will, as long as you never make me say "obey." I agreed to love and honor, yes, but not obey.

Ours is not a Great Love Story, but it is a pretty damned good one. I've said before, eleventy hundred zillion times, that you are not perfect, but you are perfect for me. You have tolerated a great deal of insanity and foolishness, even more insanity and pigheadedness, and did I mention the insanity? But at the end of our days, I still feel now like I did then.

You and me, we're a pair of ducks.

And I love you.
Always, and all ways.
All photos by Troy Schnyder.


Take Me Out To The Ballgame

We went to our first baseball game of the year the other night. Spring is probably my favorite time of year for baseball -- well, May and early June, actually, when there is a better chance of nice weather (read: not freezing your nuts off), but I am not adverse to April baseball if it is at least 15° above freezing and not actively raining.

Fortunately it was a great night for a ball game (until the middle of the 6th inning, anyway), so we took our free tickets and headed to Citizens Bank Park. Some days I miss the Vet and the rats and the mutant pigeons and the ever-pleasant smell of a giant public urinal, not to mention the judge in the basement, but now that we have Shae I am glad the Phillies play somewhere nice. Somewhere clean. Somewhere with the world's greatest ballpark sandwiches.

Our seats were in Section 134, right along the third baseline. The view was fantastic -- here, let me show you:

And what we could see of the field was even better:

On the mound here is Jamie Moyer who is maybe the only guy on this entire team who is older than I am. Oh, wait, I lied -- Chris Coste is older than I am. (And hey, there is an infielder who I never heard of who has my exact birthday!)

Oh -- have I mentioned that I love our new camera? With the "old" camera we would never have gotten that much detail in the "wide" shot, although we would have gotten amazing pictures of the back of the head of the person sitting in front of me:

It was a good game. The Phils won, 11-4, and Shae got to see what I believe is her first major league home run, hit by Pedro Feliz, who I believe must be my new favorite Phillie or something, because I took about 300 pictures of him, like this:

I just don't know. Makes me look like a stalker, which I don't think I am. He does have a nice butt, though, if that counts for anything.

We did NOT get our picture taken with the Phanatic, which was a huge disappointment: Shae declared him "not nice." Hopefully she'll get over it.


Funny Face

So I have this kid, right? And she's a piece of work, you know? She's talking more every day, and making more sense every day, if you can define "sense" as "I know what she means by 'monkey hat,' even if I am not entirely sure why she calls that thing 'monkey hat' when it's a monkey wearing a hat, like shouldn't that be 'hat monkey'?"

But anyway. It is perhaps to early to consider what my toddler is going to be when she grows up -- or even if she wants to grow up, although I have to say, I am not going to be paying for her Berkeley education and then let her live indefinitely in my basement, thank-you-very-much -- but I have been thinking that perhaps she might be suited to a career in The Theatre.

"Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?"

I understand that Yahoo Serious was able to get a film deal pretty much based on having this exact hairdo:

(I would have gone with the more obvious "Eraserhead," but that movie gives me nightmares, and does this really look like a face that gives you nightmares?)


I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

It's a hideously gross day outside, all dark and damp and rainy, and I completely lack inspiration, plus for some reason I am suddenly feeling very, very old, so I hope you will excuse me for borrowing song lyrics today while I indulge myself and wallow a bit. These pictures are from a week ago, before we all caught "the ick:"

I'm dreaming dreams,
I'm scheming schemes,
I'm building castles high.
They're born anew,
Their days are few,
Just like a sweet butterfly ...

... And as the daylight is dawning,
They come again in the morning.

I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky ...

Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

Want to hear or buy the song? Click here to listen and purchase from Amazon.com: I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.


On My Way To Where The Air Is Sweet

Still haven't made my way through all the pictures from yesterday, but here are some more:

We should have known there were going to be shenanigans afoot, because this was the first picture of the day, taken before we even left the house. I don't know what she was doing -- G took this picture -- but you know it must have been something terribly important, because it involved a rake. (Looks like sooner, rather than later, she is going to understand what "I solemnly swear I am up to no good" actually means.)

"Gert, you're going to have to speak up, I'm on the cordless and I can't hear you over the lawn mower. Yes, I know that lawn mowing is man's work, but Herb won't get off the couch until the ball games are over and this crabgrass is getting out of control. What do you mean, 'you have a service'? Must be nice. Herb would never hire a service. We hired this neighborhood kid once, Gregory I think his name was, and let me tell you, he almost ate me out of house and home. And then he sat on the couch with Herb to watch the ball games. Tsk, tsk. Kids these days, I tell you."

Totally unfazed by rubber snakes. There are a few in the yard, I guess to keep the birds away from the garden beds while the seeds are still sprouting -- their efficacy is anecdotal at best. In any event, I don't remember being two, but I bet I was afraid of snakes. I don't think I ever really got over my fear of snakes until I went to Reptiland. Shae just ... doesn't even care. She even pretended one of the snakes bit me. Not Uncle Bill's relation, this one.


Sunny Day, Sweeping The Clouds Away

It was one of your garden-variety beautiful early spring days today -- 80°F or so, sunny, not too humid. We're still not feeling 100%, and being outside while half the known Universe was mowing their lawns didn't really help, but we still managed to get over 200 pictures (no, really!) of Shae ... being Shae, pretty much. We haven't sorted all the way through them yet, but here are a few from the playground up the road from my grandparents' for those of you (*cough*TINA*cough*) jonesing for a hit of the sweet stuff.

Oh, the swings. Shae loves the swings. Although for some reason she is always looking down, not up, so it's hard to get her face without the, you know, swing getting in the way. I like how this picture "blurs" the background -- not sure if this is because of the "Kid" focus feature on the new camera, or the lens we used (the 55-200 zoom), or what. Eventually I will figure it out.

I took this picture while I was on the other end of the teeter-totter, so honestly I'm surprised you can even see her face. I don't think we like the see-saw quite as much as the swings, but maybe when we get bigger ... ?

Here we're at the top of the spiral sliding board. Shae loves the sliding board, almost as much as the swings, but this one is all plastic and it's really staticky, and actually kind of high, so it's hard to get good pictures from the bottom because I spend time panicking no matter which end I'm on. This one is probably a three-man job.

I don't think Shae's ever drunk out of a water fountain before. She picked it up pretty well, although let's just say that at the end of the day, rushing home for bathtime was a bit, how do you say, superfluous?

So to sum up: we had a nice day. And there will be more pictures coming up to further prove it.


Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

While I sit here dying from the plague, or walking pneumonia, or tuberculosis, or consumption, or whatever the hell it is that I have, why don't you enjoy this gorgeous picture of Shae from before we went to court on Wednesday?

OK, so the composition needs a little work -- I am still figuring out the new camera -- but doesn't she look here like a perfect little lady, a character from a Shirley Temple movie, straight out of central casting? Curls, perfect skin, white sweater, blue-and-white seersucker dress, stockings with ruffles on the butt, black Mary Janes, her head cocked just so?

Couldn't even decide how to crop this picture -- I mean, really, doesn't she look like a (significantly less creepy) Madame Alexander doll? How freaking lucky are we?


Just Like Starting Over

I wish there were words in the English language to describe what we are feeling right now; if such words exist, I don't know what they are. "Elated" doesn't quite say everything, nor does "relieved," and although "phlegmy" is technically accurate, it's not directly related to the adoption. Perhaps there is a turn of phrase in another language that suits the complexity and scope of emotions surrounding us, like "schadenfreude" but without the bitterness.

For now it will have to be enough to say that it is done. Finally, it is done. Our adoption journey has been a lot less complicated and a lot less fraught with drama than most, I am sure, but that does not make the end result any less rewarding to us. Truth be told, our transformation from "couple" to "family" has taken us the better part of five years, but none of that matters now -- all that matters is yesterday, and today, and all of our tomorrows.

At the risk of sounding like an Oscar® speech, we owe a lot of people a lot of thanks. To everyone who was there with us yesterday, both in person and in spirit -- thank you for taking the time out of your day to share in such an important moment in our lives. Thank you for encouraging us, and believing in us, and opening your hearts to a tiny, beautiful stranger whom you made a part of your lives as if she were part of yourselves from the beginning.

To everyone else -- thank you for being so supportive all along. We are sorry you couldn't be there in the courtroom when the pronouncement was made, because unfortunately you missed out on excellent future blackmail opportunities when I forgot my own name for a minute, and G forgot how old he was. When the shock and awe have faded, we will be laughing about that for a long time to come.

Hopefully, this will be my last unfunny post about the Cupcake for a while. God willing. In fact, although we will still continue to call her Cupcake at home, because she remains our sweet and delicious little thing, I think this will be the last post in which I refer to her as Cupcake here, because as of yesterday, as we were all previously promised, her name has changed, and she is now officially, legally, irrevocably our Shae. And not a moment too soon.


Stop -- Hamper Time

Alternate Title: U Can't Bleach This

What can I tell you? My kid is just as much a crazy wackaloon as the rest of the family. Right now her favorite "free play" activity is to climb into an empty hamper for us to carry her around in it:

Unfortunately, we almost never have an empty hamper. Having a toddler has, like, tripled our laundry duties, because so many of her things need special handling.

Still, I think it's a riot to have our own warped version of Oscar the Grouch. Approximately the same fuzzy hair, but our Grouch is way, way cuter.


(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Bun With The Swag

So, listen: I was going to take the lyrics to "(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With The Bag," one of my very favorite modern-Christmas-carols-cum-Target-commercial-jingles, but then I looked at the actual lyrics to "(EWF)TMWTB" and I decided there are just too many words, oh my head. I mean, seriously, too many words even for me. So, no redone song, except for the title. Sorry. Instead, just lots and lots of pictures, with intermittent snark.

Without further ado, I present to you EasterSwag 2009 - Part One:
Honestly, I should have known that Easter was going to be out of control when I myself had problems, well, controlling myself. A lot of that stuff was last-minute additions, except for the two wrapped presents, which were supposed to be the entirety of her Easter basket. But I needed eggs! So I bought eggs! But then I needed something to put in them! So I bought little bracelets, and crazy hair bands that can be worn as bracelets! And that silverware set was cute! And oh my God will you look at that Little People tube!

I will say this much: all that loot, and NO CANDY, except one pack of fruit snacks from the box in the kitchen that I added at the last minute, because I felt guilty about not giving her candy. What I didn't feel guilty about? Stuffing some of those plastic eggs with money from her own piggy bank. What? She didn't know she had it, so it's not like she missed it -- and it isn't like we didn't collect 10x more in change throughout the day.

We had Easter dinner at Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ed's, and as always it was wonderful. They sure do know how to throw a nice Easter dinner. Not that Cupcake even noticed, because Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ed have a real live dog:
She spent the better part of the day crawling around on the floor after poor Rosie. I hope she slept well last night. (The dog, not the kid -- the kid was conked.)

Then there was an egg hunt, which was fun but weird. Like, whoever heard of an egg hunt for one kid? But Cupcake loved it -- my Uncle "Quack" pretended to race her, and let me tell you, she's quite a scrapper for a little kid:
And what is it with my family and the concrete deer?
It's bizarre -- everyone in the family has one except me. (Guess I know what I'm getting for my birthday, huh?)

After that, we had a costume change (but no nap) and then we went to my Aunt Cyndy and Uncle Wiggy's for another egg hunt and more swag, not necessarily in that order. I'll cut to the chase and tell you that there are now approximately 538,652 Little People in my house, and Cupcake loves every single one of them the best. You can just imagine the fun I had trying to get her to go to school this morning.
Oh, yeah, and Pop-pop gave her a bike. Guess who the favorite grandparent is? (What can I say? Cupcake has excellent taste.)
And how can you enjoy pretzels and jellybeans without Aunt Shelleybeans?
We also had an Easter bunny. Aunt Cyndy and Uncle Wiggy know how to throw a party, too. Couldn't stay as long as we wanted too, because it was surpringly cold and also -- hello! no nap! we're exhausted! And we needed to make one more stop:
At my grandparents', where we had ANOTHER egg hunt, and got a pack of all-yellow M&M's in an Easter basket that was once mine, and then we had an ice cream cone for dinner. The end.

I really, really love Easter, but you'll all excuse me if I sleep until Wednesday, right?


Somebunny Loves You


... to have a Happy Easter.

(And also to help me see how many Google hits I can get for the phrase "giant stuffed carrot.")