This blog has moved!  Please come see me at my new site, Making Lemonade.  You’ll find all the same good things — my personal musings, links to worthy reads, sentences longer than should be allowed, and the continued adventures of Acorn — as well as some new things which are still being planned.

Daily work plus commute: 14 hours
Nightly sleep: 7 hours
Basic personal hygiene: 1 hour
Household maintenance (meals, cleaning, pet care, laundry): 1.5-2 hours

Very small margin of error, that. Good thing Acorn’s perfectly willing to shoehorn in some quality time, forcing me to multitask time spent with him while doing everything but the first item on that list.

But you’ll notice writing’s nowhere on that list. No time. Or energy either. I’ll return after things slow down a bit at work.

Last night, I rang in the new year with one of my preferred ways to celebrate the occasion: pretending to be an imaginary person, and rolling dice to determine how the imaginary person I’m pretending to be interacts with the imaginary persons populating the rest of the room. Loads of fun.

Eventually, I came home and slept. Woke, spent time with Acorn, heard all about the wonderful time he had with his grandparents (they saw fireworks, his favourite thing in the world), visited my own grandfather. Came home again, started the final few preparations for starting back to work tomorrow. Needed to hem my new slacks, so I laid them out and brought out the sewing machine.

And the case for the sewing machine came open while I was carrying it. And I dropped the whole thing on my foot.

If this is to be a portent for the coming year, I prefer “Wear shoes in 2008” to “Your best-laid plans will go horribly awry.” Thank you in advance.

Today, I had a hit to my site from someone searching for “little boys in girlish clothes.”  Please pass the mental floss.

Seriously? You flag “Google?” And “blog?” Shouldn’t knowledge of certain words be part of the job requirement?

Edited to add:  Spellcheck.  Really?  Yep, but spellchecker is A-OK.  Disturbingly, it seems the spellchecker doesn’t check post titles.  Hat tip to SueWho.

Monkey or giraffe?

Giraffe, please. Acorn fills the monkey slot in our household neatly, what with all the jumping about. Besides, I was once bitten on the eye by a monkey, and I’m still mad at it.

Wood fireplace or gas fireplace?

Wood. Do I look like a dinosaur killer to you?

Jump off a cliff into the water, or bungee jump off a bridge?

Since my imagination is leading me to a tall cliff with either not enough water, or so much water I’d have trouble getting back up to the surface (have I mentioned I’m not a strong swimmer?), I’ll go with the bungee jumping.

Almond or hazelnut?

Almond. I’ve never had hazelnuts, just hazelnut-flavoured something-or-others, which I didn’t like. But I don’t like almond-flavoured anythings either, so who knows really. I do love almonds, though.

Walk or ride?

Ride my bike! Whee!

Piano or guitar?

Piano, though I don’t play either.

Roller coaster or ferris wheel?

Ferris wheel, because Acorn’s not big enough for roller coasters yet. What fun is it to ride one by yourself?

Scrambled or poached?

My grandmother would make poached eggs when I was a kid. That was almost the only way I’d eat eggs, and even so I would only eat the whites. Nowadays, it’s scrambled egg sandwiches.

Sunburn or windburn?

Windburn. In my experience it’s easier to treat and doesn’t do as much damage.

Jujube or jelly bean?

Um… jelly beans? I guess, based on the fact that I had to visit Google to find out what Jujubes are.

Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble?

Scrabble. I love words, it’s better suited for two-person play, and I stink at the kind of pop culture trivia that pops up so often in Trivial Pursuit.

Radio or music you bring with you?

Mp3 player, alternated with NPR. (If that’s waffling, just tell me what type of syrup you prefer.)

Gloves or mittens?



No, that’s not even a choice. Next question.

Orange chocolate or mint chocolate?

Mint chocolate. Orange chocolate is disgusting.

Flannel or smooth sheets?

Smooth. Geeze, what are you trying to do, cook me in my sleep?

Bubbles or confetti?

Bubbles. Great for entertaining cats and kidlets, and not as much mess to clean up as confetti makes.

Buffet or plate service?

Plate service. Buffet always seems to have been left sitting out a little too long. Unless it’s potluck.

The smell of cinnamon or the smell of vanilla?

Cinnamon. Once in college, I returned from a trip abroad and baked batches of cinnamon cookies and lit a cinnamon candle, because I had just spent two months in a country that considered cinnamon an optional ingredient in apple pie.

These choices were posed today by Meg Fowler, who regularly hosts Choose Ye segments. Feel free to play along, either in my comments, in Meg’s comments, or on your own blog — if you choose that last option, please comment to let me know so I can read your post!

I’d never before had a teacher who played favourites so blatantly. You were also the first who showed me a grudge held against the elder siblings you’d taught years earlier (and of course against my strong-willed mother). I told the tubists and drummers I didn’t know why you, the director, were picking on me; but I lied.

I am a participant in x365.

Since Acorn will be with his father Christmas morning, Santa made a special visit to our house Friday night/Saturday morning.

Friday night I read the poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (more usually known by its first line, “‘Twas the night before Christmas”) to Acorn. Saturday morning he woke a bit earlier than usual. I heard him stirring and went in to check on him. “Santa was here?” he asked sleepily.

“Yes, he was,” I said. And a joyous day dawned.

A week or so before, I had taken Acorn to visit a mall Santa Claus. He spoke very quietly with Santa, and I couldn’t hear most of what was being said, except that he told Santa he wanted a train; Santa couldn’t get Acorn to name anything else he’d like for Christmas; and, apparently mistaking him for an older child, Santa tried fruitlessly to suggest that Acorn might like something besides toys for Christmas. “No, just a train.”

Afterwards, I asked Acorn what he had asked Santa to bring. “A blue and grey train,” he told me. That was the single thing he asked for. I assumed it was a Thomas train, and asked if he knew the train’s name, but Acorn didn’t know. I tried looking for a blue and grey train among the Thomas engines, but I couldn’t find one. In the end, I shrugged it off as a mystery and didn’t worry too much about it.

Until Santa time. After we’d read the classic poem about Santa’s visit. After I’d tucked an overtired Acorn into bed. After I retrieved all the gifts from the closets where they’d been hidden and arrayed them on the floor, and sat down to play Santa. Then I saw it: a blue and grey train, with three cars.

My mother and I had been shopping at a discount gift store, the kind that sells overstock from other places, sometime in the weeks before Thanksgiving. We found gifts for various nieces and nephews, cousins and grandchildren. And a few things, mostly some books, for Acorn. We arranged to keep these secret from Acorn by taking two carts; one held Acorn and our coats and handbags, the other our intended purchases, which we shielded from his view.

Acorn saw a couple of things he wanted enough to ask for, but he’s more relaxed about disappointment than the typical three-year-old. Oh, he’ll ask why he can’t have whatever it is he wants, but 99% of the time he accepts a “no” and moves on. It was that way this time with the remote control helicopter. With the overpriced toy firehouse. With the enormous plastic cement mixer.

But not with the blue and grey train. We’d have snuck that into our cart regardless, but he threw a fit wanting that train. He yelled about how much he wanted that train. Not having enough money was not an acceptable reason. He cried. Finally I was able to convince him to come to the bathroom with me, and he leaned his head against my shoulder, exhausted with longing, when I lifted him from the cart.

And he didn’t ask for that train again. Didn’t mention it, in fact, for another six weeks: not until I told him to sit on Santa’s lap and tell Santa what he’d like him to bring for Christmas. “A blue and grey train.”

I remembered buying the train, of course; but I had forgotten what colour it was. Now it was staring me in the face. The train was originally to be a gift from my parents, not from Santa, but with it being the only thing he asked Santa to bring… We rearranged our plans for which gift would be from whom.

And on Saturday morning, our Christmas morning, the first thing Acorn saw was his blue and grey train. His whole world, all that morning, was filled with that train; even as he opened and admired other gifts, he kept returning to the train. The only thing he had asked Santa for. The train we didn’t have enough money for when he saw it at the store (as he later explained to his grandfather). Santa came through. And my son just had his first experience with a Christmas miracle.

Until now, I was a little bit torn about the whole Santa business. It felt like I was manufacturing a pretense; and though it’s a strongly supported pretense culturally, the whole thing just felt strange to me. Encouraging my son to believe in a myth, rather than simply telling him about the traditions surrounding exchanging gifts this time of year.

Now, though, I see the power of this story. It’s a little bit of magic that we, as adults, can make real in the lives of our children — for just a few years. Mama and Gran-Gran couldn’t afford to buy that train, but when Acorn asked Santa for that one thing, Santa made it appear. To him, that makes the train a tiny bit more special than it would be if it came from me, either now or back when he first wanted it so badly.

And to me, that light in his eyes and contentment in his whole body language is all the Christmas magic I need.

I am a participant in Holidailies 2007.

“I don’t want peanut butter on my sandwich, just jelly.”

“Well, you should have peanut butter.  It has protein.  You need protein.”

“Potein?  What that?”

“Protein’s one of the things you need to grow up to be big and strong.”

A thoughtful frown.  “I don’ want that on my sandwich.”

“Hey, do you know what muscles are made of?”  I feel Acorn’s skinny bicep, and flex my own and to show him.  “They’re made of protein!”

He giggles.   I turn back to the bread and the knife.

“So.  How about if I put just a little peanut butter on your sandwich?”

“No… I want WOTS of peanut butter!  Put wots of peanut butter on my sandwich!”


The sole focus of Acorn’s speech therapy for the last five months has been on getting him to correctly pronounce /f/ sounds.  He can do it most of the time when reminded, but in casual speech it usually comes out as some other sound.  A couple of months back, he learned the word “fart,” and while he didn’t find it as amusing as some people’s children seem to, he’s usually a very polite child and wanted to excuse himself after that.

So he started saying, “Excuse me, I charted!”

Doesn’t quite have the same effect, does it?  And thus I found myself painstakingly teaching my three-year-old to say “fart.”

“It’s ‘fart.'”


“No, Acorn.  Fart.  Fffffffffart.  Fuh, fuh, fuh.  The sound that an F makes, remember?”

“Fuh, fuh.  Fart.”

“Very good!”

I was inspired to share this last story thanks to a comment at Finslippy. It amused me to realize that unlike the commenter’s child, my son can say Nemo just fine, but one of the major taboo words in our culture would come out of his mouth as “chuck.”

I am a participant in Holidailies 2007.

A difficult baby, a difficult child, now a difficult teenager.  Your alphabet soup of diagnoses didn’t help for years.  But when your little cousin hugs you during the worst storms of your misfiring brain, you stop to reassure him.  I can see your struggle, holding in those too-large feelings however briefly, and I laud you for making the effort.

I am a participant in x365.

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