Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Naughty or nice?

Of course, I am allowed to sit on the dining room table. My parents are totally cool with that. Oh, yeah. It's my milk. Lauren's cup? Nyah. She didn't want it. She said I could have it.

A minute later, Lin grabbed the mouse behind her and hurled it at the floor.

Lauren tried to help Daddy with the closet construction. She fell and hit her head on her own slipper. No, I can't explain that. She has boo-boo bunny in one hand and a screwdriver in the other.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The tree

This year, we broke with tradition and put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Obviously, we have an artificial tree. It was purchased in Green Bay because we lived in a 2nd floor apartment and it was a fire hazard to have a real tree.

Alec got new LED lights this year. They make him happy.

Lauren and I made gingerbread cookies and hung them, along with some small glass ornaments and candy canes. We plan to string some popcorn also, and we have a few cookies to replace because, well, those are yummy.


I belong to a couple of local Yahoo! lists because I thought it would be a convenient way of keeping up with the borough events. Occasionally, people ask questions about professional services. Last week, someone posted looking for an electrician. I thought, how fortuitous! Alec has been working on a project for the last several weeks and will shortly need to employ the services of an electrician.

Alec, building a walk-in closet in our bedroom

The master bedroom in our house is actually 2 rooms. Although the previous owners removed a wall, they didn't do much else. The room was too large and it had 2 smallish closets in 2 of the corners of the room. We decided shortly after moving in that it would make sense to take them down, since they were not built attractively, and build a single walk-in closet. Alec finished putting up the structure of the walls this weekend and placing the outlets. He still needs to run some wiring, but before the drywall can go up, he will need to hire an electrician to patch the new wiring into the circuit, and remove the now oddly placed light fixture from the former first bedroom.

Neither of us know why there was wood paneling on that wall. The unpainted part of it is where my closet used to be. No, we don't know either why the closet was 6-feet tall. It's just an example of the "creative" contruction done by the former owners.

So, someone had posted to the list a week or so ago looking for an electrician and 2 recommendations were made. For some reason, people replied with just names, no contact information. And one of the names is spelled incorrectly. I thought, they must be listed in the yellow pages. Of course not. How entirely useless is that?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The cat is out of the bag and the turkey is in the pot

Scene: Chez Stoll, in the kitchen. Lindsay is napping upstairs. Alec is making turkey soup. Lauren reads her name off of papers on the refrigerator. Heather is sitting on the foot stool near the dishwasher.

Alec (as cooking show host): I'll bet you're wondering how we're going to get the whole bird carcass into the pot?

Heather: Break it! Break the bird!

Alec: Oooh. Ouch. Tough crowd.

Alec realizes the only way to fit the carcass into the pot, and snaps the spine.

Heather: Oooh. Ouch.

Lauren: Mom, don't worry. The bird is dead. He didn't feel anything.

Lauren puts her hands on Heather's shoulders, as if to brace her.

Heather: Right. It's dead.

Lauren: Don't you know? It's been dead this whole time.

Friday, November 24, 2006


1.a person, esp. a man, who waits on tables, as in a restaurant.
2.a tray for carrying dishes, a tea service, etc.; salver.
3.a person who waits or awaits.
4.Obsolete. an attendant.
–verb (used without object) work or serve as a waiter: to waiter in a restaurant.
During breakfast preparation this morning...

Lauren: Let's play restaurant.
Mom: Ok.
Lauren: You're making food so you get to be the cook.
Mom: All right. I'm the cook.
Lauren: And I'm waiting so I get to be the waiter.
Mom: Hmm. Ok.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Four in the bed and the little one said

"I'm trying to sleep, Mom."

"You should sleep in your own bed. Remember we set your Dora alarm clock? You need to be in your room to hear it."

"Mom, she shouts."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stink eye doctor

We went to see Lindsay's eye doctor today. Don't get me wrong, he seems very smart and interested in my girls - he even gave Lauren an eye test today "just because". He has a very nice office with newish toys and a pleasant staff, but I hate being there. Hate it. I would rather be anywhere else including the pediatric dentist with sad eyed kids in the waiting room.

Lauren sat with her coloring book, and Lindsay played on my lap. A little Asian girl, probably around 6, was playing behind us. She smiled a huge smile at Lindsay. Her facial features were askew and assymetrical. She spoke few words.

Her mom sat across from me. She eyed Lindsay and asked how old, and tearfully explained she'd spent a very long time trying to have children before they adopted the little girl. "Thirty thousand dollars for damaged goods," she said flatly.

I tried to manage a smile to acknowledge that she was joking.

"She doesn't have any vision problems? Just that little birth mark?"

I feel like an asshole. "Right. The hemangioma." I don't want to explain how it broke my heart when the 3-year-olds at daycare pointed and said "Baby has a bloody eye" because really, we all just want our children to be...well, normal isn't the right word...we want them to be extraordinary.

I just can't imagine. And every parent I see there has a similar story. So when the doc said, "See you in 3 months, Mrs Stoll!" I felt that familiar dread creep in.

Monday, November 20, 2006


...weighs in the day before she officially becomes half a year old at 13 pounds 10 ounces and 24 1/2 inches tall.

Lindsay discovered her ears last week, which aren't quite as fun as the toes she found 2 weeks ago, but they are sure a lot of fun to squish when you have a handful of pureed carrots. When I feed Lin, I punctuate her bites with "Mmm." For some reason, she punctuates them with "Grrr." Maybe I'm just sleep deprived, but it gets me every time.

More animals in the basement

"I can't wait to see the turkey in the basement."

"Uh...Lauren, you know that the turkey is dead, right?"

"It is?"

"Yeah. It's a turkey dinner, not a pet turkey."

"Oh." And then very matter-of-factly, "I still want to see it."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Please don't sing

I had made split pea soup in the crock pot for dinner last night, which meant that during the time I typically prepare dinner, we had time to just hang out. I took Lindsay upstairs with me on the bed, and sang to her while I played my guitar. She looked on with amusement.

Into the chorus of the song I was singing, Lauren came in and sat on the bed. She folded her chest over her legs and collapse, rear end up, in a sobbing mass of little girl. I stopped playing and set down my guitar.

"What's the matter?" I asked, stroking her back.

"I don't want to tell you," she sobbed.

"Are you worried I will be mad?" I asked, "Because I won't be mad."


"If we talk about what's making you sad, you will probably feel better."

She heaved a heavy sigh, and looked up at me, her face damp. "This will be the day that I...die?" And with that began another eruption of tears.

"Oh honey, it's a's not even a song about's a song about Buddy Holly..."

"I don't like it." she said, jutting out her chin. "Don't sing it any more."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lauren's view

A few faves, as evidenced by the 150+ pictures on Mom's digital camera:

Dora slippers


The bookshelf


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Now taking requests

Why, yes. I just brought the laundry up from the basement. The basket behind the couch is empty. It's for dirty laundry. My wood floors look lovely in that picture, but really they need a lot of work. My walls and curtains look dingy. This room hasn't been painted yet. My favorite thing - other than my kids, of course - is the coffee table. Alec made it for me our first Christmas together. It's a copy of a table I loved at Crate & Barrel, but it was too expensive. It's oak. The leather sofa is handed down. It was in the house my stepfather owned before he and my mom got married. She hates it. I think it's gorgeous.

Maybe it's time to move?!

I thought about deleting my earlier post about the weirdos who live in my borough. It makes me sound like I'm paranoid, I thought.

I took Lauren to school today a little early after a stop off at the bank. Lauren was walking beside me holding my hand and Lindsay was in the snugli. A woman in her late 60s suddenly swerved her Buick and pulled over. She frantically rolled down her window.

I moved Lauren to my left side, away from the car, and held her hand tightly. My right hand grasped my cellphone in my pocket, and my body stiffened. I fully expected to hear this was some sort of a medical emergency.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed with a huge grin. "Your daughters are absolutely gorgeous!"

"Thanks." I replied casually.

"What's your name, honey?"

"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers," Lauren replied.

In the backseat of the Buick, she had a toddler carseat. I've got to assume that this woman is probably a Grandma...but maybe an Auntie. Even so, on what friggin planet do you stop your car to ask a 4-year-old what her name is? Creepy.


If any of you parents haven't wandered over to Ask Moxie from my blogroll, it's definitely worth a look. This post from a few days ago struck me particularly since this scenerio is practically a daily event for me. I go to a store with one or both girls, and someone will inevitably get in their faces, try to touch them, or make some assinine comment about wanting to take them home. It's always a senior who does this, though occasionally cashiers or store employees will also. And as Moxie aptly put it, it makes you wonder what the Hell is wrong with people.

Yesterday, we walked into town so I could stop at the bank. I didn't realize that my branch closes at 3 PM during the week. Now, it's only about a 5 minute walk, so it's not like I was out of my way, but it was annoying. Lauren grumbled because she was expecting to get a lollipop from the bank. So, we crossed the street to go to Rite Aid to buy a lollipop and to see if they had any interesting art projects to do.

Immediately upon entering the store, an old man starting bellowing "Hi! Hi! Hi!" and inching toward us with his walker. I took Lauren's hand and escaped down an aisle. We had to pass him 3 more times trying to find ourselves a shopping basket, and then to check out with the cashier. Each time, he resumed his hollering.

We grabbed a basket from the back of the store. Lauren began singing "A basket, a basket." An older woman was checking out in the back, and commented to the cashier (loudly) that my kids were cute and she wished she could take them home. About 2 minutes later, she approached us in the aisle.

"I heard you singing!" she said loudly, in Lauren's face. "It's not a green and yellow basket, though. What color is the basket?"

Lauren looked alarmed. "It's blue."

"We're in a hurry." I said to no one in particularly as we walked away from her and into the next aisle, searching for art supplies.

A woman standing behind us in the check out line tried to lure Lauren away from me while I was paying for our art supplies.

"I'm sorry, Lauren. I don't know why that woman is calling you. We don't know her, and I need you to stay next to me." I said as I was trying to get my credit card out of my wallet far enough away from Lindsay in the snugli so that she didn't try to eat it.

"I just wanted to show her the candy," the woman said with the sadness of a deflated 6-year-old.

"We've already talked about the candy," I replied, tersely.

It's times like these I feel I know how it must be to be a rockstar with people you don't know approaching you when really, you just want a second's peace to decide which box of markers, Tootsie Pops or Blow Pops, and whether it's too early for a Christmas coloring book.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Slippery slope

It happened. I got sucked into the Christmas preseason marketing and made my first purchase. Here's a view of the downstairs powder room:
For some reason, the walls look gray in this shot, but really they are a very pretty blue green. Note the newly purchased Christmas hand towel. In the reflection of the mirror, you can see the dressform Alec chose. The pair of shoes was a party favor from my sister-in-law's bridal shower. The plastic pumpkin used to be on the banister, but somehow found its way onto the shelf.

Friday, November 10, 2006


It's really amazing to me how much things have changed since Lauren started school 2 months ago:
  • She can write her name. This wasn't something she would've attempted 8 weeks ago. She's started asking me to spell words aloud so she can write them down. Note that unless you know what she's writing, it isn't discernable. Her writing is almost legible if she is imitating - ie, if you write a word for her and she copies it.
  • When she colors with crayons in a coloring book, her coloring is just outside of the lines now rather than all over the page. She colors in objects deliberately now, so the result is dark and completely filled in.
  • She draws people as well as objects. The people in her pictures have faces with expressions and limbs (no bodies yet).
  • During storytime, she now reads a story by herself. She asks about the title, author, and illustrator and states them before she starts telling a story based on the pictures in the book.
  • She loves having a job at school, and often asks to help with chores around the house such as laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and making dinner.
  • Her use of color, particularly when painting, is amazing.
I knew that she would really thrive in a learning environment. It just strikes me how much she has learned in what seems like a very short period of time, and how it has effected almost everything she does. What a talented little person!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lindsay's new favorite pastime

Lindsay at 5 1/2 months, November 2006


Life is just peachy

Lindsay's hair smells like peaches after she gets out of the bath. I love picking her up from her crib in the morning when she's all warm, pink, and smelling like peaches.

Lauren is wearing all pink from head-to-toe. It's not as cool as a "Jammies All Day" day, but almost.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If my kids left notes

Dear Mom,

You're so boring, I am lining up my hopscotch numbers and playing house with them. I've wished them all good morning and good night, and gave them allowance out of my piggy bank. Next, I'm going to play doctor with my socks.

Love, Lauren
and not to be outdone...
Dear Mom,

Please let me climb out of more stuff. Doing a faceplant on the dining room table while you tried to hang up the phone was a blast.

Love, Lindsay

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Portrait of an escape artist

A month ago, I told you how excited I was about the Bumbo seat. I had heard about the Bumbo seat from Cecily at Wasted Birth Control, whose daughter Tori is about 3 weeks younger than Lindsay. It's been a great, non-skid platform for Lindsay's first meals. Every day, we set the Bumbo on the table, and Lin has some cereal, vegetables, and fruit.

As we get ready for meal time, I do a lot of running back and forth from the kitchen to gather stuff for the table: plates with food, silverware, drinks, etc. I was in the process of this dash when Lin fell out of the Bumbo and on to the floor. She was fine, thankfully. I was annoyed with myself because with Lauren, I never underestimated when I needed to modify my behavior to keep her from rolling/crawling off of stuff...and Lindsay has fooled me at least twice.

Alec captured some pictures of Lindsay's Houdini act. She twisted until her left foot cleared the Bumbo's divider, slid the foot under her, pushing off with her foot while twisting until she is tummy up on top of the seat. From there, it's just a short roll to freedom.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

You know what this means

Here's Lindsay, up on her knees and elbows rocking back and forth. All you parents out there know what comes next. She's 5 1/2 months old. I am in really big trouble!


"There are a lot of spooky sounds that come from our house." Lauren reported at breakfast.

"Hmm. You mean like floorboards creaking when we walk on them?"

"Yup. And that big banging sound..." she shuddered dramatically.

"Oh. Yes. That's the steam coming up through the pipes and hitting the cold radiators." I replied. "They make a whistling sound too, as the steam comes out."

"It's all so spooky," she said sadly.

"Well, it is living in an old house. If you know what makes the sounds, perhaps it isn't quite so scary?"

"How old is the house?"

"Older than me."

"Oh." She thought a minute. "Older than Grampie Fisher*?"

"Yep. Even older than Great-Grampie Fisher."

"Wow." she said. "Now that is old."

*Grampie isn't identified as the benchmark of old, it's just that his birthday was yesterday. The Lauren definition of birthday is a year older than you were the day before. He's not Lauren's oldest grandparent. Poppy is, at 61. Great-Grampie also isn't the oldest great-grandparent, but we try to have linear family conversations - Lauren is my daughter, and Grampie is my dad, and Great-Grampie is his dad. The house is the same age as Lauren's Great-Grandpa Leo, who turned 90 in March.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lindsay at play

Lindsay at 5 1/2 months, November 2006

Lest there be the impression of playing favorites, Lindsay's progressing nicely also. Here she is playing on her mat with some toys. She's learned how to rotate herself, using her legs, to move from toy to toy. A few favorites are: Learning Puppy, the jingle ball (also a Lauren favorite, named for my high school's winter formal dance), Mr Chewy (offscreen bottom, a teething ring that looks like a caterpiller), and Alien (also a Lauren favorite).

Progress report

I met with Lauren's teacher at a very early hour this morning.

"Wow. It's funny to see you without any kids," she said.

I understand what she means. I am so used to being out wearing a snugli-full of Lindsay, that I feel unbalanced when I'm not wearing those extra 13 pounds.

None of what her teacher had to say was surprising. Lauren is extremely bright, and is doing well on all the work they're doing. Her teacher showed me the progress of her writing which is truly amazing from week 1 with essentially chicken scratches to week 7 or wherever we are now to recognizable upper and lowercase letters. Her coloring and drawing skills have improved as well. She can now color mostly within the lines and fills the space fully when using crayons. She understands new words of sequence (eg, first, second, third, etc.) and can count to 30. She tries to count to 40 by adding numbers like "thirty-twelve".

We spoke about reading, because I wasn't sure how to encourage her. We have reading time every night before bed when we read between 2-4 stories depending on how quickly the rest of the bedtime routine (bath, teeth brushing, getting "jammied up") happens. Lauren wants to "read" one of the stories and I wasn't sure if we should just let her make up a story or help her to memorize it so she knows what the words say. Her teacher said that they are learning that Pre-K reading is about telling a story from a book, so to allow her to be creative.

She mentioned that Lauren has difficulty not talking, particularly to her new school friend Natalie. She said that they've tried to allow them to talk quietly or a little, but Lauren doesn't do either well, so this week she's been told that she cannot talk while they're working. The teacher was apologetic about it, and said she was trying not to have to separate them, but their behavior is distracting. I replied that she hadn't mentioned it, and Lauren is often told at home that she has to stop talking because she's being distracting. She's adorable and creative with an impressive vocabularly, but the kid will talk to her own socks. She talks in her sleep. I replied that it was something we were also working on at home.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Home economics

"I have an idea about what to do with the money in my piggy bank," Lauren announced this morning from Daddy's side of the bed.

"Oh." I replied nonchalantly. "What is it?"

"Well..." she said thoughtfully, grinning at her sister. "I think we should take some monies out of it so that we can go to McDonalds more."

"Ah." Last week, we had a conversation about how we could only go to McDonalds for one lunch per week because it is more expensive to eat there than at home. There was something adorable and yet heartbreaking that she was willing to dip into piggy so that she could enjoy some Chicken McNuggets and an apple pie. "We had McDonalds this week already, Lauren. We went there on our way to see Ross and Lars for Halloween."

"Right," she said, "but I didn't get an apple pie."

"That's because we had a choice between an apple pie or Halloween candy. Remember? We can choose 1 sweet dessert per day..." The rules had been bent for Halloween, of course.

"Oh. Well next time we go to McDonalds..."

"Next week. And Mommy will pay, ok? We don't need to take money out of piggy."

"Right. Well, we could take out 8 coins so that we can have ice cream. You know, because ice cream costs 8 coins."

I have no idea if this is correct, or even which 8 coins we're talking about. It would seem even the kiddie-sized cup at Carvel costs more than $2. So I say, "We'll see."

It's really difficult to balance making healthy food choices without labeling some food as "bad".
I guess that appealing to her sense of economy has backfired on me, though. I have to come up with another approach.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Piling up

It's amazing how chores pile up in just a couple of days. The laundry is currently apriori - and has taken over what seems like the entire house. The ironing pile has consumed a closet. I noticed that the girls' laundry basket has filled in the time that the other laundry baskets were abandoned in the basement. Mostly, it has been studying that's taking up my time in the afternoon and evenings.

Lauren declared yesterday "the best Halloween ever" and demanded to know when we get to do it again. I told her a year from yesterday, which is when she is 5 and Lindsay is 1 1/2. She asked if Lindsay will be able to Trick-or-Treat next year, and I said I thought so. Lauren was 2 before she went, but then, she didn't have the excitement of having a big sister.

It's amazing how quickly babyhood yields to toddlerhood...I was also thinking the other day, when Alec's stepbrother and his fiancee asked Lauren to be in their wedding, that by the time they get married in late July, Lindsay will be running around.