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October 2012

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We took a long weekend and went to visit friends at their place on the Upper Peninsula* of Michigan.

Oh, wait. Let me put up some pictures before I digress too far from what I am expecting to be my main point.

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What? Who? Patrick? Oh yeah, he came too.

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See him stalking through the woods there with two other boys? This was pretty much the only time I saw him all weekend. 

Caroline, meanwhile, was thoroughly spoiled by our host eleven year old who treated Caroline like her own personal Barbie; braiding her hair, painting her nails and letting her help bake a three-layer cake that they then frosted in pink.

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I tried to tactfully broach the idea of an exchange (our fifth grader for our friends' fifth grader) but then Patrick and his gang of woodland thugs broke a ceiling light fixture while playing bunkbed football and somehow negotiations broke down. Pity. I could really use someone around the house who can braid hair.

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She just looks so... shiny when she's kempt.

Anyway we went away for a few days and I learned how to play Mancala and Steve defended the cabin against a vicious grouse and there were old friends and wine and lots of dogs and a half dozen children and it was all lovely.

Inevitably someone asked me what I have been up to since last we all well met and I opened my mouth to reply and then I shut it again as I tried to formulate a response that did not involve the words "Patrick" or "Caroline" or "Edward" or "driving".

Here it is four days later and my mouth is still shut. 

You know the life-coaching-for-free exercise that asks: if time and money were no object what would you do with your life? And then you are supposed to take that answer and do it? Well if you were to ask me I would say I would like to write because I do. I do like to write. I like to tell stories and I like to write them down. And you know what I don't say? I don't say, "Well, thanks for asking, Marlene! Let's see. Anything? I could do anything at all? Gosh I guess if I had four hours free three days a week I would spend that time cleaning my kitchen. That's what I'd do!"

Something is obviously wrong with the way I structure my time.

PS I turned 41 yesterday. I continue to like my 40s and I see them as a time of unlimited opportunity... if only I could get the damned dishes put away first.

PPS HALLOWEEN! Patrick is a Minecraft Wither in a square head he crafted himself from the club-sized instant oatmeal box. He obviously has a narrow head. Edward is a SuperFast SuperStrong SuperAmazing Green Bay Packer Football Player of Power. Caroline is Tinkerbell's buddy, Silvermist. Originally she wanted to be Fawn, the animal fairy, since Caroline loves all the creatures great and otherwise but when I started talking about getting something in an autumnal brown fairy dress she was, all, hold the fairy up, and decided to be Rosetta. You know, the pink one. So I ordered it from Amazon. Ten minutes later she changed her mind. So I cancelled it. Then fifteen minutes after that she changed it back. So I re-ordered it. Then she changed her mind again so I cancelled it and then she said... well wait... maybe... and Amazon sent me a note saying that they had noted unusual account activity.

I bought the blue one.

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Not Halloween. Just a Monday that Caroline decided she needed to Dress for dinner and arrive on horse(Patrick)back.

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* I originally wrote penisula. Which I think makes more sense. I mean have you SEEN one?


Reports Greatly Exaggerated

Sorry I didn't write earlier but I had to take Edward to get a haircut.

Before:

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After:

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Cute, right?

Wait. What? THREE weeks? Three WEEKS?

Huh.

[I'm at tumbling and the two women behind me - a mother and grandmother - are congratulating each other on the shifting of Junior from one preschool tumbling group to another. The grandmother, who usually accompanies him, has just explained to the mother, who does not, that he was in group A last week but his clear mastery of skills has propelled him into group B. Far be it from me to disabuse them of this notion of hierarchal grouping but... the kid was with Caroline last week and is with Edward right now. Personally I think the groups are random but if there is a skill element... well.]

Ackshuwee, it's not that Edward isn't coordinated. He is. It's just that Caroline is so outrageously precise in her movements that she makes the rest of us look like a bunch of the lurching undead. She and Edward wound up in the same swimming class this session (because the Y aquatics director took pity on me when I realized that her class was at 4:55, Edward's was at 5:30 and Patrick didn't start until 6:40; so she let Edward move up to Ray even though technically he ain't nothing but an Eel) and Caroline - literally! - goes underwater to swim circles around him. She emerges with a gleaming Esther Williams smile to pat his shoulder and say things like, "Don't worry Edward. I'm just... better than you."

One of these days she is going to stoop to conquer just that little bit too much and he's going to knock her and her swimmier-than-thou attitude into next Saturday. I do not encourage intra-twin violence, of course; I merely note it might happen. Oh and when it does they are the exact same level in karate so... aii yaaah!

Generally, sisterly patronizing aside, they work well together. Caroline can read the TiVo episode descriptions so she knows which Octonauts they haven't seen before but Edward is better with the remote control so they can get there. Edward is better with numbers so she'll hand the book over to him when whatever they're reading has digits. Yesterday the two of them sat down with Caroline's mermaid dolls and a large portion of Edward's cars. Each car got stuck with a tiny heart sticker which Caroline called their "mermaid kiss marks" and Edward added "of AWESOME POWER." And Edward was perfectly happy to help Caroline sort her Squinkies by color as long as he had his bow along. You know, for protection.

I swear by all that is holy I had nothing to do with their gender role perceptions. I swear it.

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What? The bow there? Yeah. Makes us look like lunatics, doesn't it? Lo these many years past Steve bought a cheapie yellow kid's bow for Patrick as he envisioned a first-born son who would share his passion for archery but Patrick could not have been less interested if he tried. Seriously. Steve would suggest a Daddy n' Me trip to the range and Patrick would fall out of his chair, sound asleep. Edward, though. Whooo boy. Edward took archery at the Y camp this summer and he came home all a'twitterpated about this amazing thing he called bow-and-arrowing. 

Steve heard him from the other side of the house and, pausing only to locate Patrick's old bow in the garage, came running to clasp Edward into his arms, brokenly muttering "My boy, my boy" like a Victorian melodrama.

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When we asked Edward if he wanted to take Chinese with Caroline on Saturday mornings he said, emphatically, no. All he wanted, he explained, was to learn more bow-and-arrowing. Also, he added with a flash of xenophobia that he certainly didn't get from my side of the family, he never wants to speak anything but Engwish in America. So there's that.

(Caroline's Chinese class is adorable and it is totally hardcore. We leave her in this high school classroom sitting at a giant student desk - her feet sticking out in front of her - looking at the teacher and the chalkboard. It's like, anti-preschool. She's totally digging it.)

With this encouragement Steve promptly went out and bought Edward a much fancier bow and Edward now carries the thing from room to room with him. Or he did, rather, before I disappeared it and explained the bow only emerges when Daddy is around and they are both outside.

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This is just archery for Edward, by the way, not a child's introduction to bowhunting. Things were looking like they might head that way so Steve and I had a come to ASPCA meeting, in which I reminded him that over a decade ago he and I made a deal, a deal set in stone, the net of which was he was welcome to hunt until his eyes bubbled but the whole thing creeped me out and I was damned if our putative children were going to grow up in a household where hunting culture is celebrated. Acknowledged, sure, but not normalized to the point of mindless acceptance. I am not - by the way - judging families who hunt together. We live in the Midwest. I get it. It's just that I, personally, me, I, I don't like it.

Steve said yep ok no problemo whatever you want my sweet treasure. He says that a lot about everything this time of the year. He can afford to be agreeable because he plans on being gone every weekend and some extra weeks from now until December. You know, I always wondered how people who disagree on fundamental things, say politics or religion, can be happily married and I understand it better now. I set spiders free and I am still not old enough to watch Bambi and yet here we are, Davy Crockett and me. 

I sometimes worry that there is so very much Caroline that Edward will feel shadowed or suffocated but the older they get the less concerned I am. Edward has a pretty good grasp on who he is and what he thinks is important. Just yesterday he said, "I'm cool and fast and smart and strong and handsome and goofy."

I said, "Wow, you sound like a perfect kid."

And he said, "I am, mostwee."

Oh hey, do you think it's worth it to get his speech evaluated again? He not only mangles L's and TH's but he talks so quickly he is really hard to understand. I know it's probably age-appropriately abnormal (if you follow) and he might outgrow it but if he doesn't it would be easier to get speech therapy now than when he starts kindergarten.

Finally, Patrick.

I told Patrick I was taking him to a naturopath and he said a... what? I said, a naturopath is someone who focuses on more natural ways to treat the body than is traditional in western medicine.

He said, "You're taking me to a witch doctor? Will he stuff herbs up my nose?"

And I said, "No no no no no, well, maybe, I don't know but at least it won't involve surgery or blood draws."

He said, "So after you park at the state forest and we walk through the trees for a while, how will we know which structure in the tent village belongs to the naturopath?"

I told him it would be the one with the skulls of obnoxious children hanging outside and we left it at that.

The naturopath was good. It was also so eye-wateringly expensive that I almost dropped my wallet as I checked out. To be fair the bulk of the cost was for a comprehensive test she ordered to look for allergies and sensitivities but holy hannah. Pricey. Also? The test was a blood test so Patrick was all et TU, you brute? I said sorry. Who knew a naturopath would use a phlebotomist? In the meantime she thinks we need to boost his immune system (no kidding) so she has him on some billion to the billionth strength probiotic powder twice a day plus some kind of sinus capsule plus elderberry and... I don't even know what the last one is but it seems harmless enough. Patrick calls them his potions and notes that they all taste like the bottom of a birdcage but he's resigned at this point. He's also feeling better, which might be due to the elixirs but could be due to the fact that after seeing the naturopath he started getting Headaches and I finally got him in to see his actual ENT. Apparently I just needed to speak to the right nurse and use the right words ("no" "not three weeks" and "THIS WEEK" plus "he is SICK") - silly me for trying to schedule him through the triage line. Anyway the ENT took one look up Patrick's nose and one look at the report on his most recent culture and gave him a choice between cipro (for three weeks) or clindamycin (for three weeks) or some other darker, future alternative that she hinted at by doing the jabby jabby IV in the arm motion. Patrick picked cipro. He's upstairs whistling right now.

I think I am going to take him to another infectious disease specialist. As my friend Noelle pointed out he is dealing with a chronic infection so perhaps we should shift from the where (face) to the why (who knows?)

Oh, he says to tell you that he owes a blog post and for those of you who have sent him license plates thank you so much, a million times over. He is so excited to go check the box and he loves the different plates and the notes he gets. One lovely woman this week even wrapped a license plate in a gorgeous purple batik for him and, hand to my heart, he got a little choked up when he saw the fabric. 

So that's that. Busy, happy, good. Lazy.

PS I just finished the Bromeliad trilogy (I started it with Patrick but he never got into it) and need a new Pratchett line to listen to. We've done Tiffany Aching and this one. What next?