Saturday, June 10, 2006


The youngest learned a forbidden phrase four days ago: shut up. We don't use that in our house. If we need someone to quiet down, we say hush, please. Or just plain hush if we're in stern mode.

I explained to the youngest that shut up isn't allowed. When the oldest and I had this same discussion, at roughly the same age, he nodded solemnly and banished the phrase from his repertoire.

The youngest, on the other hand, tried it out again. And again. And again. When he realized that saying shut up meant an automatic trip to timeout, he used that time to rethink his strategy.

The next day I heard him singing to himself. Thinking it sweet, I came closer to listen.

Ring around the shut up
A pocket full of shut up...


The following day found him playing with trains.

Chugga chugga shut
Chugga chugga up
Chugga chugga shut
Chugga chugga up


Yesterday we were riding in the car when he smiled and said Knock-knock! I smiled back at him in the rearview and replied Who's there? He beamed and said Shut! Knowing where it was going, I declined to participate further.

I'm waiting to see how he tries to work it into conversation today.

stubborn as a mule
Extremely obstinate. This simile evokes the proverbial stubbornness of mules, whose use as draft animals was once so common that the reputation for obstinacy can hardly be as warranted as the term indicates. [Early 1800s]
"stubborn as a mule." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 10 Jun. 2006.

Friday, June 09, 2006


A friend called me at 7:40 this morning, weeping at something completely awful done to her and to her children. And there was nothing I could do to fix it. And there was nothing I could say to make it not hurt. I sat stock still, gripping the phone with both hands, searching my mind desperately for something, anything. It was an act beyond reason, beyond explanation, and I could offer no

1. Assistance in time of distress; relief.
2. One that affords assistance or relief
[Middle English sucur, back-formation from sucurs (taken as pl.), from Old French secors, from Medieval Latin succursus, from past participle of Latin succurrere, to run to the aid of : sub-, sub- + currere, to run.]
"succor." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 09 Jun. 2006.

I just listened. And as much as I like to think that's useful, it's not. It doesn't help in this situation one blasted bit.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Click here.

It's rather like an animated male paperdoll.

Amusingly odd or whimsically comical.
[French drôle, buffoon, droll, from Old French drolle, bon vivant, possibly from Middle Dutch drol, goblin.]
"droll." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 07 Jun. 2006.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

(sing along) very superstitious...

Today, of course, is 06/06/06. I predicted something bad would happen.

And it did.

(deep breath) I forgot to send a towel for the oldest to sit on during his class picnic today. I'm hoping someone else will make room on his or her own towel so that my son isn't eaten alive by

noun, plural
Minute, six-legged, reddish larva of the harvest mite, one of various red bugs widely distributed throughout the world and common in the S United States. Attaching itself by its mouthparts to the skin of its vertebrate host, the chigger injects saliva that destroys cells and may cause an intense irritation known as red-bug dermatitis.
"chigger." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press., 2003. 06 Jun. 2006.

You know what? I'm not willing to take that gamble. I've been bitten. Those things itch like holy hell.

I'm leaving now to drop a towel off at school.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What Little I Understand About Genetics

Litter-mates are not twins. Identical twins have exactly the same genetic complement, coming from a division of the original single fertilized egg, each half of which goes on to become a separate organism. This is apparently something of an anomaly, as identical twins are a rarity.

Litter-mates, on the other hand, are sisters: products of the same gene pool--that is, distinct combinations of the genes of the same father and the same mother--but not the exact same combination of those genes. Puppies from the same litter would be, in human terms, fraternal twins (as opposed to the identical twins cited above); as I understand it, fraternal twins involve distinct, different eggs which are fertilized simultaneously from among the father's (billions of) sperm. This is all covered in greater detail here.

This business interests me because the two girls are so similar in so many ways--strangers inevitably cannot tell them apart except by collar color--and yet they have quite distinctive personalities and talents. Snickers, the larger of the two, is boorish and dominant. Bella is smaller and more wily, often outsmarting Snickers. Bella figured out how to jump out of her potty pen outside, while Snickers looked on in wonder, unable to duplicate the feat (a month later Snickers still cannot get out of the pen). Bella has made much more progress in her potty training (though neither is ready for graduation), and she is beginning to figure out how to deal with stairs. Snickers seems blithely unaware of any of this, looking instead for Bella's next snack which can be easily taken away from her.

And littler things: Snickers will gobble down her heartworm medicine, and Bella simply cannot be enticed to do it. And once she figures out that we want her to eat something, then it's out of the question. I've tried peanut butter, corned beef, even tuna--Bella will have nothing to do with it, though Snickers is ready to break down walls to get to the feast. When we go for a walk on our leash, the two girls behave differently, but in a repeated, predictable, interlocking way--kind of like yin & yang.

So how much is each responsible for what the other is becoming? What role has Snickers's boorishness played in Bella's intellect? How has it affected Snickers to have a submissive sibling always underfoot?

It all raises so many questions about

nature versus nurture
A traditional and long-standing disagreement over whether heredity or environment is more important in the development of living things, especially human beings.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


The youngest had his first nightmare last night. He didn't call it that, of course. Nor did he call it a "bad dream", which is the oldest's term. In fact, he didn't realize it was a dream at all, which is why it was scary to him. He truly believed someone had taken his bubble ball away; he wouldn't stop crying until I showed him that the ball was still here.

His bubble ball is a large (36 inches or so in diameter) hollow bouncing ball that resembles an oversized soap bubble. It is almost completely see-through with just a tinge of purple to it and a smattering of glitter.

1. A small number or amount.
2. A slight or superficial understanding of a subject.
"smattering." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 04 Jun. 2006.