Birthdays Kids Pictures

Happy Birthday Valerie!

Valerie is 4 years old today! Four years and a couple hours ago she was our least eventful of the three arrivals. She seemed so mellow for a while! Still, no amount of temperamental could ever make me regret my angel girl.

Now to go make the strawberry cake she requested…

Humor Kids

Happy Anniversary

To Michael and Esther, Deb’s awesome brother and his wife. They were married just three days after us, marking six years for them, but they knew each other longer, and had a good idea what to expect even after they were in a household of their own. Very important.

They are so astonishingly good at shopping for clothes for the kids we’d be tempted to delegate them the task, if they were a postage-free distance away. At least it’s good practice for when they produce some cousins. Because our kids have just waaay too few cousins. And none younger than them.

Kids News

Rest In Peace

My cousin Wanda died at the age of 47 on Wednesday. I don’t know details beyond that, but in keeping with modern times I found out online, rather than via a call, and from my cousin’s elder daughter, rather than from my mother.

It strikes me as dreadfully young, and that makes me sadder, as tends to be true of less expected and less “appropriate.”

For all Valerie uncannily resembles my father’s mother’s family (“the Foster/Washburn look”), she has often reminded me almost eerily of Wanda, who was my mother’s late older brother’s daughter (not sure if that’d be more Irving/Johnston or Tranmer/Howland, but I believe it’s the former).

There’s also one particular scene in an episode of Firefly in which Jewel Staite, playing Kaylee, looks just like Wanda to me. Enough to always take me out of the story and make me think of her. Which I suppose makes a funny sort of connection, since we only mostly jokingly considered Kaylee as a name for Valerie.

I’m actually completing this post the next day. Kids. Still have no further details, and still haven’t talked to my mother. Neither here nor there, apart from being unexpected.

Cars Food & Cooking Kids Medical Money Totally Random

Teeth and Acid and Gas, Oh My

Due to genetics compounded by parenting errors and circumstance, all three kids require a mouth full of dentistry under general anesthesia to fix their teeth, relieve pain mainly in Valerie’s case, and set them up to get through to their adult teeth and do better with those. They’ve gotten better about brushing. We’ve all but eliminated drinking things with sugar, and thrown away the sippy cups. Oddly enough, the youngest was the one most comfortable using a regular cup, and most willingly ready for the change.

Valerie has massive cavities in rear molars, and has had a course of antibiotics on suspicion of infection.

She has a long history of flipping moods like a switch, dropping into full blown irrational tantrum mode for no apparent reason. That includes asking for random this or that, then vehemently not wanting the same thing she asked for. I’d wondered if she had sugar crashes and maybe had a food-related issue that way. A snack could help, after all, if she calmed enough to eat it. I’d wondered if it was a psychological thing. It was a matter of time – not much time – before I’d have asked the doctor.

Her back teeth are especially rotted.

She tends to get a strained sounding voice, almost hoarse. Noticed but didn’t give it much thought. Sore throat, maybe. Not a tendency to cough, though, or to spit up.

While she was on antibiotics, helped by her being able to distinguish and communicate more clearly what hurts, it became clear she had a major gas and heartburn problem, probably reflux. Turns out the sudden tantrum thing is a symptom. She’s missing some of the possible symptoms, but once suspected, I could see that it would come on like clockwork a while after meals, varying with what the meal was. She seems to get heartburn from some of the same things I do, so I can predict it more easily, or get it at the same time she does.

I need to find out what to do for her other than mere gas drops, which help but not always as much as I’d like. It can be almost like an off switch, though. She’ll be hysterical, let out a belch, then be fine. The whole thing got more pronounced and obvious on the antibiotics – that is, she had obvious gas, so there was no way to miss it.

She still confuses and conflates the two. I am sure she has tooth pain, plenty of it, but it appears that most of her “my mouth hurts” pain and tantrums are on account of gas and acid. I feel for her, because I know just how awful it can be when that hits. I give her a lot of latitude in choice of treatment. She’ll ask for gas drops if that is the problem from her perception. She’ll ask for ibuprofen if it’s the teeth, or if gas drops didn’t work yet and she’s frantic, which is the tough part.

Thus I’ll be glad when she gets the teeth fixed and the immediate aftermath pain of that is done. Then if she hurts the same way, it’s not teeth. Hers are scheduled first, on January 11. Sadie goes on the 14th, and Henry on the 18th. Three back to back trips into Boston in the car I am not sure will pass inspection it’s due to have before the end of December, for which I don’t have the money. Fun.

Worse than the confusion between things causing pain or discomfort, she uses “my mouth hurts” like an attention getting cudgel. That is challenging to distinguish from the real thing. Sometime, anyway. Other times it’s obvious, though not sure I could explain how.

Anyway, how weird is it to get a real post here? Time to get a shower, throw in still more laundry, maybe call the doctor about what to give her for the above, get the kids dressed, go pay my car insurance, get gas, and probably go to my mother’s to get the camera I left there and some pea soup they have for me. Maybe leave kids there and get my hair cut, but don’t think there’ll be time. It’s long overdue, though, and that would save a trip. We’ll see.

Humor Kids

No More Hats

Looks like next year we will have to put out a stop request on all hats, mittens, and scarves. The kids have multiple each now. As many as half a dozen.


Sometime In October…

blogging Business Kids Massachusetts Medical Money

Dead Zone

One problem we’ve had lately is exactly this dead zone, which you can see as a sharp drop in the 30s before the steadier line upward. You have to click the chart to see a bigger version.

And basically if I do anything other than what I am now and/or work at home/online work as allowed, we then run into daycare issues. If I were on my own, I’d keep what I have for security and bootstrap from it. A part time other job even if I could get nothing full time. Return to being available for unpredictable side computer/support or other gigs. Use any spare time for building more passive but by no means self-constructing income streams. Six months and I could probably be back to “real money” without even relying on a single “full time” thing.

Right now our net effective income is actually down because our income went up, but not enough. A full time job roughly opposite the other full time job would net less than I do now up to hourly rates that start to approach those of a “real job.” It’s a conundrum.

The good thing is the kids are becoming more self-contained, so I’m starting to see clear to being able to do some of the passive side stream and work from home stuff without having to leave for on-site/emergency work of the sort I used to do. Just trying to work out a system where that is organized and balanced against housework…

This is the source and has more, and a second, more impressive chart of how implicit marginal tax rates fluctuate.

Birthdays Kids

Happy Birthday

To Sadie, who is 5 today.

Okay, so this is retroactive, but who’s counting.  I’d post birthday picture(s), but none were taken.

Seriously, though… time flies.

Birthdays Pictures

Birthday Boy

Henry turned two today! Time flies. Well, kind of.

It’s been kind of hot for baking, but I made a cake we had at my grandmother’s Sunday, and you’ve never seen a kid more delighted to be the center of the happy birthday song. Sadly, the leftover cake is keeping ants fed on the lawn near the car, where the cake holder my mother put it in for ease of transport back here failed on me. Deb didn’t get any, and I was going to make another, but she didn’t think it was worth it in temps high eighties and above recent days. She did get to eat my experimental lemon spice cake based on the same Henry-safe recipe for chocolate cake. It wasn’t bad, but too mildly flavored and with a baking soda tinge. I still need to work on the frosting for the non-dairy non-egg cake. Even with less honey, it tasted overwhelmingly of honey.

Anyway, grandparents brough Henry a cool Spiderman sweatshirt for cooler weather, and it lights up the way Sadie’s beloved Cars shirt does. All three of them got bouncy balls that are like snow globes inside, so the glitter and color will settle when idle, then go nuts when they are used.

Sadie picked a cool stacking peg set with pegboard, which he loved. She shopped with Deb, and they also got him a wooden toolbox with wooden nuts and bolts, wood strips with holes, screwdriver, wrench, hammer, and wooden pegs. They loved playing with that today. Finally, a coloring book and crayons of his own, which also went over well. I supplemented it with a small plastic chair, red with Mickey on the back. He loves litle chairs that are more or less his size, so he appreciated it.

Poor kid has a checkup I have to take him to tomorrow. I should probably arrange to drop the girls with someone, but they’ll probably all come along as usual.

I’d like to post more pictures, even just recent ones, but I’ve been lucky to write this post. He has twice tried to occupy my lap, and part of the way through it he and Valerie played with and spilled a pitcher of red Kool-Aid all over the kitchen and living room, while Sadie neglected to mention this to me as I’d expect. Even if I can remember what needed to be worked on, it’s hard to do anything, sometimes even the most urgent of things, with them taking all of my time. They’re like free radicals mutating cells of productivity.

Anyhow, one of the best Henry pictures ever, at the playground in Lakeville recently:

Art Kids Movies Pictures

Sadie Does Watercolors

Sadie insisted, supported by the others, on letting the Tinkerbell movie DVD play over and over and over for more than two days. I noticed it went all through the “making of” parts in the process, and turns out Sadie was studying the art aspects of it. She was intrigued with how they created the characters.

Then this morning she demanded to paint.

They haven’t painted in months.

She draws amazingly, with a distinctive yet evolving style. She has never painted anything that was clearly something or shown the same talent as she has for basic pen drawing.

Using it as a bribe to get them to help pick up things, I set them up with their watercolors and off they went. I have a tiny rainbow and a princess in a multicolored dress she painted as well, but this was the first and most dramatic of the three things Sadie painted today. In keeping with the inspiration, it’s a fairy. Click for larger:

Food & Cooking Kids Medical


He may not be allergic to strawberries, but man is Henry allergic to something in a big way.

We spent much of the afternoon and evening with my mother and grandmother. Late in the day, my mother doled out M&M’s, being Pandora before I could remind her it’s milk chocolate. I consented to his having a few, but she reduced the number he got. It was probably half a dozen. Though perhaps there were a couple more thrown in. Of course, I also used to worry about something like M&M’s due to his clear reaction to the azo dyes in things. That seemed to be related to sensitivity to salycilates, which he also outgrew.

That was the last thing he ate before we came home, and pineapple has never bothered him before. I am sure nothing bad was in the other food, and the timing doesn’t fit.

When we got home, he looked fine but for one lumpy hive/welt I took to be a strong reaction to a mosquito bite.  I swatted one in the back seat as I strapped them in, so not unlikely to have had them feasting on him, and I have thought before that he’d reacted strongly to bites.

Then his face blew up with multiple hives and redness, one of the more severe attacks I’ve seen, if not up there with what happened when he ate a pile of eggs.

He’s had Benadryl and his face scrubbed in case there was a contact component.  He seemed to be a bit itchy.  Figured that’d help, whatever the cause.  I still lean toward the milk chocolate, though, and that’s impressive beyond anything I’ve seen him have to what amounts to a tiny trace of allergen.  I’m watching it go down even as I type, to where it’s mainly crimson cheeks and a couple peripheral spots.

Anyway, just when you figure you can relax…

Food & Cooking Kids Medical


For the record and any who might care to know, given his history, Henry not only seems unambiguously not allergic to strawberries, but also has decided he likes them a lot.

He’d mostly snubbed them previously. That seemed significant, given his dislike of eggs and peanuts, both of which are allergens. On the other hand, he loves dairy products, which give him a rash on contact, whatever they might do internally. That also tested positive. And he loves bananas most of all, but while those tested negative, he reacts worse to them than anything but significant ingestion of eggs. Apparently this is an “allergy” related to latex allergies, as opposed to the “oral allergy syndrome” food allergy they test for.

He wasn’t tested for strawberries, because we had no suspicion, and they limited it to the biggest (thus wheat and soy being included) and the supected (thus banana, which wouldn’t have been otherwise).

The remaining ones I can think of that are not yet known and potentially serious are a couple of the tree nuts and shellfish. There are allergies to Brazil nuts, walnuts and shellfish in the family, as there were with eggs and dairy.

I still see him get a little red from ??? when eating things that should not be a problem. The most recent instance, and it was minor to the point I’m not even sure it had anything to do with food, was basically just fries and iced tea at Wendy’s.

Anyway, glad that’s one more thing out of the way.

Birthdays Controversies Humor Politics

Happy Birthday

To Deb’s father!

And a buncha other people, like my friends and former colleagues Rich and Steve, former President George W. “LBJ” Bush and thanks for making Barack Wilson Nixon-Carter possible, etc. But for our purposes here, David is the one who matters most.


Many Names of Sadie

Sadie has acquired an impressive number of names, first and/or middle:

Obviously there’s here given name, Sadie Rose, and I didn’t even include in the list our sometimes reversing it to Rosie Sade. There’s her own poor enunciation of iy we won’t let her forget, Shayro. And indeed, she thinks of herself not as Sadie, but as Sadie Rose, almost as one word.

Zephram Rose is the alternate name we dubbed her with ages ago. We joked about her inventing FTL (faster than light) drive. In the Star Trek universe, the guy who invented warp drive for humans was Zephram. What the heck, it could also be a girl’s name, right? Kind of like Leslie. Or, for that matter, Rory. The only Rory I ever knew was male.

Veruca is my name for teasing her when she is being a brat, from the spoiled girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She hates being called that, seeming to know what the point is, even lacking the context.

Rory is what Valerie calls her. We have no idea why! Or where it came from. It’s so persistent, though, it verges on becoming a true alternate name in the family, and everyone knows who Valerie means when she refers to Rory. Despite being fully aware her name is Sadie. Too much watching of Gilmore Girls in utero or as an infant? It’s weird. So now I sometimes call Sadie things like Veruca Rory or Zephram Rory or Sadie Rory or Rory Veruca or Rory Shayro or whatnot. Or the entire string of them. Which makes her say “Just Sadie Rose!” So I joke that her name is Just.

Mostly, though, the whole Rory thing is a kick. Valerie is so matter of fact and unswerving about it. Maybe she had a sister that name in a past life, or expected to be born into a family with that name in it, or had a dream.

Kids Movies


Deb had suggested recently that it was time sooner rather than later for Sadie to go to her first movie in a theater, which I’d been thinking of, but in terms of later this year or sometime next year. Sadie heard us talking about it and latched on, so just as well I’d realized Up might be a good one for the purpose.

Ended up going yesterday, to the theater in the mall in Kingston. It was the close one with non-3D version. Didn’t want to have to deal with that, given the circumstances, not to mention the added cost. Luckily she didn’t get excited about not going to Wareham, where I’d driven through the parking lot Sunday on the way home from their first trip to the beach – it’s a week of firsts, apparently – to show her where I planned to take her. They only had 3D. Kingston had the benefit of being near Walmart and having the food court right there.

Anyway, she was more than ready. And I felt bad, seeing kids much younger – and well behaved! – at the 12:45 showing. We got M&M’s, which took most of the movie to eat. During some of the “dull” parts she’d grab more of them. She sat still, was quiet, was entranced, like she’d always gone to movies.

What a great one! I loved it. Cried and cried. Would have anyway, but it was worse because I was emotional about it being an experience for Sadie, and then the fact she seemed so happy.

The short beforehand was exceptional, too, and I loved how that tied in with a scene in the feature. Even having read a description in a review couldn’t prepare me for the silent sequence showing their entire adult relationship.

Anyway, highly recommended.

Afterward, we had pizza at the food court and went shopping, which was also cool. Usually it’s either just me, or it’s everyone, Sadie seldom gets to do stuff like that alone.

Business Controversies Kids Money

These Things Aren’t Always Simple But…

His wife, who used to look up to him as a glamorous writer, begins to view him as an “unreliable employee.”

From Patriarch to Patsy

Via Dr. Helen, via her hubby.




Phone Picture

This is a picture taken with my new phone. Thus the fuzziness, but it’s kind of cute.


Favorite Sweater


TGI Spring