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February 2004
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April 2004

Raphael learned to climb out

Raphael learned to climb out of his crib months ago. If I were a good mother, I would have switched him to a big-boy bed by now. But I figure, hey, I’d just have to find a suitably sturdy set of guardrails to keep him from falling out of his bed, and his crib already has these bars all around…sort of like a full set of guard rails! Nice, huh? It has nothing to do with the fact that once he’s out of his crib he’s no longer a baby and my life is utterly, completely devoid of babies. Oh noooo. It’s a practical decision.
Anyhow, my solution has been to keep the side rail of his crib down, so he doesn’t have too far to climb. This works well. He’s safe from falls and clambers in and out with ease.
The problem arises at naptime. He really doesn’t have a concept of time, or sleeping, or any of those abstract details. Most of the time when I put him down for a nap he’s exhausted, and falls asleep within minutes. Then when he wakes up an hour or two later, he climbs out of bed and staggers to the top of the stairs. He doesn't remember sleeping, so he's never sure if his nap is over or not. He tentatively calls out, “Mama? Ah just waked up?” I come and stand at the bottom of the stairs and smile encouragingly up at him, “You sure did, baby! Why don’t you come down here with us?” Mightily relieved, he scampers down the stairs and back into life.
But sometimes when I put him down to nap he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Sometimes he lies there and chatters to himself for a few minutes, then grows bored and climbs out. Today he’d been in bed no more than three minutes when I heard the thump and trot of an escaping small boy. I was already on my way up the stairs when he rounded the corner. His happy expression melted at the sight of me marching his way. He skidded to a stop then worked up his best innocent face. “Mama? Ah waked up?”
“No, son. You didn’t wake up because you didn’t go to sleep.”
“But ah don’ wanna go sweep.”
“I know, but it’s time for your nap. If you don’t sleep you’ll be grumpy and sad.” I leaned over to scoop him up and we headed back to his room. He was clearly not convinced that his nap was not, in fact, over.
“But ah talked and talked an’ den ah waked up!”
“No, you haven’t slept yet. You need to stay in your crib and sleep a little. Sweet dreams, honey.” I deposited him in his crib and pulled his blankets over him. He eyed me suspiciously.
“Mama? Maybe yoo bein’ mean.”
“No, Raphi, I’m not being mean.”
He kicked the covers off and sighed. I turned to go.
“Mama!!”
”What, honey?”
“Can yoo cover to me?”
“Ok, I’ll put your covers on you, but this is the last time. You need to sleep.”
“Yoo not bein’ mean?”
“No, I’m not. Sweet dreams, and I’ll see you soon.”
As I turned to go, I heard him mutter to his stuffed giraffe, “She bein’ mean.”
I am unjustly accused.


The good thing about being

The good thing about being cooped up in the car with your kids for long periods is that it gives you a special opportunity to spend time with them. In the quiet and monotony of the car they open up and talk like they rarely will in normal life. That, plus the fact that they sometimes fall asleep. Always a good thing.
Today was such a day. With one thing and another the boys and I spent about three hours in the car. Or, as a rabbit might say, many many hours. There was mass sleeping (everyone but me – again, always a good thing), and there were moments to be cherished. Or at least remembered.
At one point Tre piped up from his seat, “You want to know what Craig James and Zach and I did at the park today?” I had let him ride his bike to the park with the neighbor boys whilst I stayed home and nervously congratulated myself on letting him spread his wings.
“Sure, honey. What did you guys do?”
“We threw rocks at each other.”
Long pause. I was turning this over in my mind, trying to imagine what he could have said that sounded like “we threw rocks at each other,” but actually made sense.
“You threw what?”
“Rocks. Well, those little gravel pieces. We had a gravel fight.”
“You…why?”
“We had a gravel fight.” He said it slowly, to compensate for my clear lack of mental ability. “It was fun.”
Another long pause.
“Well, were you guys careful not to throw rocks at faces?”
“Um…” he could tell there was a right answer, and he didn’t think he was about to give it. “Sort of. Not really.”
“Ah. You should do that. Or maybe consider finding something less…rocky to throw at each other.”
I don’t know which of us was more mystified.
At one point we had stopped for some food at Sonic. (I use the term “food” in the most forgiving sense here.) While we were waiting for our order, Mom called my cell phone. This necessitated much passing around of said phone so everyone could talk to her. While Max was talking Raphael started wriggling free of his car seat. I crawled back to disabuse him of the notion that car seats are optional, causing him great mental anguish. He wailed, actual tears streaking his cheeks. I was able to calm him enough to hand him the phone for his turn. He sighed a shuddery sigh and moaned into the phone, “Ah’m just so sad!” When Max heard that he shook his head at me.
“That just hits my heart,” he declared. He smacked an open hand against his chest, right in the middle of where the seat belt crosses it, “It hits my heart right here.”
I nodded in agreement, doubly smitten at the heart.


Toni asked in the comments

Toni asked in the comments a few entries ago if I would write about gardening in Colorado. I avoided it for a while, because the weather was so lovely and warm that I just couldn’t bear facing the truth of being a gardener here, in the cruel Rocky Mountains. But today it snowed and tonight a freeze will probably kill all the fuzzy new buds on my peach tree, thereby robbing us of peaches. So now I’m in the right frame of mind. Here, for your “pleasure” (for lack of a better word) is a step-by-step tale of a garden in Colorado.
March/April (depending on when the weather first turns warm and how ambitious you are) – our intrepid horticulturist heads out to the plot of land that will soon harbor her beloved plants. Visions of heirloom tomatoes, charming in their lumpy uniqueness, dance in her head. A small smile plays across her lips as she toys with the idea of placing a few flowers among the pepper plants, simply because they’ll be pretty there. She jabs the tip of the shovel into the soil and here she encounters her first problem. Either the ground is too wet or too dry. If it’s too wet, she can manage to pierce the soil, no problem. But she knows, given the amount of clay in the Colorado soil, that if you work wet dirt you end up with rock-like chunks of dirt. All summer long these sullen clods will resist hoe and spade and choke the roots of baby plants with their heavy intractability. On the other hand, if that clay-ey dirt has dried too much, it is basically a slab of adobe. Chip at it all you like, you aren’t turning it into a garden any time soon.
Well, fine. She lightly waters it or waits for a sunny day to dry it sufficiently. Finally, FINALLY, one bright day the dirt is perfect for digging. She digs. And digs and digs. Mixing in huge quantities of compost and pitching aside rocks, she sweats and toils and knows it will all be worth it. Before the day is over she has tidy furrows in the dirt, each layered with that soft, dark, damp compost and lined with a row of seeds. She looks at them in satisfaction.
Days pass and one morning our gardener discovers one –no wait, two! Tiny plants breaking through the soil. There’s another, and another! This is so exciting! Over the next few days she comes out to the garden often, thrilled to see that each row is positively bristling with new plants.
Then one morning as she’s walking into the kitchen she glances sleepily out the window to note that it’s snowed.
A lot.
She runs to look at her garden, but now it’s a winter scene. She curses snow and cold and meteorologist who never seem to know what’s going to happen, damn their overpaid hides.
But it does no good. Her tender, pale green shoots have crumpled under the snow. They lie on the ground, black and limp. Dead.
So she re-plants. If she’s wise she waits until after Mother’s day, the only date real Coloradoans trust for putting out cold-tender plants. She goes to the garden center to buy tomato and pepper plants. She commiserates with other gardeners, and then bravely plants out her garden. And sure enough, the snow is gone (95% of the time), and the weather is warm.
A few days later she goes out to see her new plants slumping against their stakes. They are pale and dusty looking.
It is, after all, 90 degrees outside.
In May.
She mulches. She sprinkles. She swears.
Many of her plants survive, much to her joy. They are blessed by rain in June and by the beginning of July the tomato plants are studded with little green marbles, the jalapeños sport wee nubbins of fruit.
Every day she watches them grow. They swell and warm. One afternoon as she stands there, holding a satiny tomato in her hand, feeling its heft on the vine and guessing by its color that it will be ripe in a few days, she notices clouds rolling in. Thunder rumbles and she ducks in the house.
She’s puttering around when she hears the first thud. Thump, thump, ratatatatatat. She freezes, then runs to a window.
Hail.
The leaves of trees shimmer as they are pelted with bullets of ice. She can’t bear to look at the garden until the storm has passed. She crunches her way out there over the detested hailstones to survey the damage.
Her garden looks like a sea of salsa. Tomatoes are pulp on the ground, littered with the shreds of leaves. Jalapeños lie shattered. Bell peppers are smacked off their plants. Basil plants are a tangle of broken stems and torn leaves.
Those plants that survive are choked by the heat in August. And, unless this seven year drought breaks at last, the air is so dry that even if she can water them enough (she can’t) their leaves curl up and brown.
By September she sullenly collects her pitiful harvest, swearing she’s done with this gardening folly for good. It’s a fool’s game, she mutters. Go to the farmer’s market and spare yourself the pain.

Until a particularly warm day in March. She wanders out to the garden area and nonchalantly feels the soil (too wet). She closes her eyes and enjoys the sunshine, and wonders if it’s too early to plant lettuce.
Just a little.


When Raphael wakes up in

When Raphael wakes up in the morning he likes to climb in bed with me and snuggle for a moment. This morning I heard the thump of his escape from his crib, followed by his bare feet trotting through the hall to my room. His face appeared at the side of the bed, shining with delight. “It’s ME,” he announced with great glee. I held out my hand to help him up on the bed. He wriggled his way down next to me and sighed contentedly. He reached up to pat my cheek and cooed, “Ah nuv you too, Mama.”
That, by the way, means “I love you too, Mama.” It was an answer to exactly what I’d been thinking.
This morning I was trying to get the boys in the van. It’s like funneling a windstorm into a coke bottle, I swear. I looked down to see Max still standing by the back bumper, exactly where he’d been the last time I’d told him to get in his car seat. I marched over to him to give him a bit more incentive. He turned to me, holding his hand aloft. In it crawled a tiny black ant, sugar ants we call them. Max loves them, and spends good portions of the summer carrying a few around in his brown little hands. “It was right behind your wheel, Mama. I knew you wouldn’t want to drive over it.”
And he’s right. Had I not had Max the ant lover for a son I wouldn’t have minded running over an ant, but now…
This afternoon Tre noticed that his pocket knife was missing. He came charging over to me, yelling that he couldn’t find it, and what had happened to it, and what if Raphi found it…Tre can be a touch high-strung at times. I told him it was ok. “I just…put it away for a while.” He looked startled.
“But why?!”
“Well…I just think it’s a good idea for you to not carry it until the splint’s off your hand…just a few days.”
He looked at me for a moment, then shrugged.
“Ok, I guess that’s fine. Maybe by then you’ll feel better.”
Um…I hadn’t said anything about ME. I was just thinking about HIM. I was…
How did he know?
Mom says your kids know you better than anyone. I always wondered about that. I can see it with adult kids, but these little ones? They just don’t seem that attuned to the big people.
Maybe I’m wrong.


I took Tre into the

I took Tre into the doctor’s office today. He’s not sick again, but his allergies are acting up. Tre has allergies. That sentence calls to my mind the image of a band of evil little rodents that follow him around, nipping at him, causing him varying amounts of discomfort. Oh yes, we hoped they would fall away as he aged, but they’ve held on. He has allergies.
Most of the time he’s not all that bothered by them. This is the source of some contention between his doctor and me. Dr. S feels that Tre should be on a varied cocktail of pharmaceuticals year round. I, on the other hand, can’t bring myself to dose him up during the winter, when all the worst allergens are frozen, or the middle of the summer, when he lives in the pool and the air is fairly clear. During these times he’s fine. He gets a touch stuffy at times, but for the most part he’s normal. His band of tormenters falls behind, appearing small and squeaky and insignificant.
But then spring or fall arrives and with it the allergies. They swarm on him with surprising ferociousness, and I relent on the drugs. This spring was the worst ever. Tre started sneezing and snorting. His clear brown eyes, normally luminous as two dark marbles, turned dull and puffy. Worst of all, this time around he coughed and wheezed. He’s never wheezed before and although I didn’t want to think about it I knew it sounded like asthma.
So I took him in, thinking Dr. S would prescribe the magic nasal spray. It really is magic, one squirt per nostril a day and allergies flee for their dark hiding places. No side effects. Except it’s a steroid and part of me trembles a bit every time I spray it in my wee boy’s head. I mean, a steroid. Up his nose.
Ah well. I may not like it, but Tre hasn’t been sleeping well, or learning well, or behaving all that great. The whole of him is overwhelmed by this attack, and it had to stop.
Dr. S prescribed a bit more than the nasal spray. Tre now has two inhalers, an oral steroid, an ointment for his tormentingly itchy legs, and the magic nose stuff.
When he gave me the stack of prescriptions I stared at them, then asked him, “Is all this necessary? Really?”
He gave me a little lecture on allergies. How one reaction triggers another and another.
“This cascading response in the body is what we have to deal with. Once we stop that we can asses where he is, in terms of asthma and ongoing medication.”
Once again I pictured this swarm of creatures, pouring over my son, pulling him down.
So I filled the prescriptions, even though most of them seem a bit like poison to me. I suppose this is war.
This afternoon as I was getting supper ready Tre was playing in the back yard. I was glad to have him home, rather than at a friend’s house, because he’d just taken one of his new medications and I wanted to keep an eye on him for a reaction. He was using his pocket knife to cut some tape off a stick. When I heard him scream I just knew he’d cut himself. He came running in, holding out his hand. Blood ran between his fingers and dripped on his grubby bare feet.
I applied pressure and comfort where necessary. He’d taken a chunk out of the skin over the knuckle of his left index finger. It stopped bleeding pretty soon, so we washed and bandaged it and applied a finger brace to help it heal without breaking open every time he used his hand. (It is, by the way, a fine thing to have a nurse in the family. If Mom hadn’t come home to calmly look at it I would have taken him to the emergency room for sure.)
Now he’s in bed, sleeping peacefully. His finger will be fine, and I’m sure his medications won’t kill him. Somehow I’m feeling guilt for the fact that he wasn’t on allergy drugs all along and that he’s on them now. That I allowed him to have a pocket knife and that I’ve quietly tucked it away on a high shelf.
I just wish tonight, sitting here with the limp feeling that follows adrenaline, that the risks in life were fewer or that my sons were not so very mortal.


Ok, so help me figure

Ok, so help me figure this out. The boys have this play room. It’s a sun room (although I call it the son room and nobody knows). Anyhow, they have shelves with bins full of toys, bookshelves loaded with books, and two wee recliners for sitting in to play GameBoy.
But recently I decided that I was sick of the toy clutter. Sheesh, the mess! Little broken bits of McDonald’s toys, stray Legos, plastic horse-and-knights that go with the castle upstairs in Max’s room, twelve bazillionty hundred million Hot Wheels cars and accessories, a scary steering wheel toy that chirps “LET’S GO!” at random times. TOO MANY TOYS.
I decided they have too much to keep track of, too much to enjoy. So I took all the toys and locked them away. I soothed their worried looks and told them that every night when they had put away their two remaining toys (Seriously. Two), they would earn the privilege of picking out a toy from toy jail.
It was brilliant. They would slowly learn to keep track of their things. It was non-threatening, I wasn’t throwing anything away. In the end they would be able to cull the herd a bit and enjoy what they kept more. And I would step on less small sharp plastic things.
So it’s been a week, and why haven’t they asked for anything back?


Well, this weekend Spring arrived.

Well, this weekend Spring arrived. It even seemed like spring, warm and breezy. I actually put out some seeds in the garden – madness this early in the season. But I was buoyed by the warmth and the buds poking out on trees everywhere, so I threw caution to the wind and about $4.67 worth of seeds in the ground. Call me a madcap fool. Check back here for snow-related bitterness next month.
Anyhow.
Saturday was not only the first day of spring, it was my birthday. All you of the luv thang who are 32 had best get busy respecting me now. At 33 I am now your elder. And fortunately for you youngsters, I’m here to share the wisdom of my years.
Once upon a time in my looooooong life I heralded the arrival of my birthday loudly and insistently. Something like a car alarm outside your bedroom window. You know, the one that goes off for no reason and somehow wakes everyone EXCEPT the actual owner of the car who sleeps blissfully on, ignoring the honkhonkhonkhonk that is driving you absolutely mad?
Well, I was somewhat like that about my birthday. I would announce with glee March 1 that for joy for joy, my birth month had arrived. I would helpfully tally the shopping days. Not that I wanted anything, for if asked what I wanted for my birthday I would respond with a smile, “A fuss. I want a fuss for my birthday.”
But not this year. This year I held my tongue. Those who remembered and remarked on my birthday were answered with a curt, “I’m not doing my birthday this year.”
It’s not the aging thing. I don’t mind one bit being 33. I believe women in their 30’s are awfully cool. I would not be any other age. 33. The morning of my birthday I stood in my shower, practicing saying it. “I’m 33. What? Oh, I’m 33. No, I know I look too young to be the mother of all these kids, but no – I’m 33.” I liked it. It’s a good, solid age to be. I’ve never come upon my birthday and not found my new number appealing. It’s just as true now as it was when I was finally trading 7-and-a-half for 8.
So I don’t mind getting older, but there’s this shadow. See, Friday was my ex’s birthday. He’s 35. I assume. I mean, I suppose someone would tell me if he were dead, right?
If I loved being fussed over on my birthday, he loved fussing over me. In our years together he gave me three surprise birthday parties. And a surprise wedding shower and a baby shower. He loves parties.
I was spoiled I suppose. It’s hard now to really enjoy “my day.” It’s preceded by his day, and that makes me sad. I don’t know very much about his life, but I don’t think it’s very happy. I liked making him happy on his birthday. And no matter what I did, he tried to out do me the next day. He usually succeeded.
I’ve tried to celebrate March 20 like I used to since he’s been gone, but it never felt the same. I think I’d enjoy it more if I knew he was ok. But mostly I worry about him and feel sorry for myself, so this year I said forget it. I’m not doing it.
A few days ago an old friend called me to wish me a happy birthday. “I’m not doing my birthday anymore,” I replied.
“Tired of celebrating your 29th for the fourth time?” she joked.
“No.” I was irritated. Did she not know how cool 33 is? “It’s just not fun anymore. It just reminds me of him. So I’m done. I’ll get older, but I’m not having any more birthdays.”
“Oh.”
There was an awkward silence, and then we chatted for a while. But the conversation bothered me for a long time.
How ungrateful of me. How rude. She’d called to be kind and I’d used it as an opportunity to complain.
Ick.
So I’m sorry to everyone I’ve whined at. Thank you to everyone who kindly overlooked my complaining and wished me a happy birthday anyhow. Despite my self-centeredness it was a happy birthday. I had a picnic with my family yesterday, complete with roasted marshmallows. Today my friends let me share a birthday barbeque with Tracie (whose birthday was Wednesday), despite my bad attitude. I was even given gifts and cupcakes.
When will I learn, after all this time? There are the moments, the patches of pain that will come up. But life moves forward and I am so unbelievably, undeservedly blessed.
Thank you.


I was doing something of

I was doing something of great importance (probably cleaning the kitchen) when Tre came tearing into the house.
“Mama, come here! I want to show you something!” He grabbed my hand and I could tell by the smile on his face that he was pretty sure I’d love it.
“Honey, couldn’t you tell me about it? I’m in the middle of something.”
“No, come here!” He tugged at my hand and I relented. I followed him out into the back yard where the boys were playing in the 70 degree golden afternoon. Why is it that spring air feels warmer – better – softer - than the same temperature any other time of the year? Tre hopped up into the raised bed of the garden. My garden, a desolate landscape of hills and valleys from a winter punctuated by digging expotitions by boys. He trotted over to the far corner where one furrow had escaped the boys’ explorations.
“Look!” He waved a triumphant hand at it. I didn’t see anything. “Garlic! Your garlic is growing!” I knelt down and peered at the dirt. Sure enough, spears of green and brown had pierced the soil. I brushed my fingers over them. They were soft and cool. So very alive.
You really should plant garlic in the fall. I seem incapable of planting anything in the fall, so for the past few years I’ve stuck a few cloves in the dirt in the early spring. But never early enough in the spring, because I always dig up wan little knuckles of garlic in the fall. They taste wonderful, but it gets a little old, peeling 19 tiny cloves of garlic to make enough for one sauce. Well, this year I managed to get the garlic in the ground in the fall. Ok, actually the early winter. Nonetheless, Tre and Max and Raphael and I all went out into the garden and dug a trench. I placed the cloves at the right distance and Tre and Max carefully took turns poking them under the soil. Raphael tasted one of the cloves, and then decided gardening was NOT for him. We patted the dirt over them and the boys took turns dribbling water on them from their watering can. I told them rapturously about how all winter long, every time the weather warmed up enough, those little cloves would send out slender little hair-like roots. Just a few, here and there. By the time spring rolled around they would be ready to take off and grow madly.
And now here they are, taking off. “Just like you said they would,” Tre said.
He’s amazed that I seemed to have known what I was talking about. It did seem unlikely, on that chilly winter day, that these little knobs of garlic were going to do anything but rot in the ground as it froze and thawed and froze over the winter. Together we counted the tender shoots and called Max over to see what had happened. Raphael trucked up for his first lecture of the spring about not stepping on the baby plants.
Every year when the winter starts to relax its grip and the plants come back to life, I’m surprised. I may act like I know it will come, but I’m always taken aback. It’s happening, yet again.


On Wednesdays some of my

On Wednesdays some of my best friends come over for lunch. The kids run wild (between the four of us we have nine kids – plus two in utero), we chat and food is eaten. Today in the middle of the chaos of children and mothers arriving the doorbell rang.
“Oh, that’ll be the Chinese food,” I said.
No, that would be the neighbor, holding Raphael. She gave me a stern look.
“I didn’t think you wanted him running around outside. Alone.”
I grabbed him and thanked her profusely. He had skated out the front door at some time during the noise and bustle of people coming in. I closed the door and gave Raphael a stern lecture on not going out the front door without a grown up. This had the effect of ping-pong balls flung at the hull of a battleship. He shrugged and ran off.
A few hours later I was cleaning the kitchen as the boys played in the back yard. The doorbell rang and this time I had the sense to worry. Sure enough, there stood Raphael. He grinned and patted his belly. “Ah DID it! Ah do dat ding-dong!”
“Yes you did, didn’t you? Um… honey…how did you get out of the back yard?”
“Come ‘ere! Ah show you!”
He took my hand and trotted me around the corner to show me the box that he had climbed onto to climb onto the fence to brace himself on the rake handle to just reach by the tippy tips of his fingers the string to the latch of the gate.
*sigh*
I dismantled his climbing structure and flung the latch string over the fence. Another lecture on not going outside without a grown up. He gazed over my left shoulder as I spoke, and then interrupted to ask for a juice box.
I really think he got it that time. Except that he escaped out the door twice more today. But now, NOW, I’m sure he understands.
When I told my mother the sad story of how my child is hell-bent on escaping and how it’s making me old and anxiety-ridden, she laughed. LAUGHED. Can you believe the heartlessness?
“It’s like he’s got this drive to run away,” I explained to her.
“Eighteen months,” she said. “You were eighteen months the first time you ran away. We lived in Chicago – DOWNTOWN CHICAGO, on a busy street. You got out the door and it was a HALF AN HOUR before we found you, having tea with the neighbor. I swore I was going to kill you when we got you home.”
I guess it’s a good thing she didn’t kill me. If she had she’d be missing out on all the hilarity of watching me try to keep Raphael alive.
*sigh*


Mom came around the corner

Mom came around the corner this evening to discover Raphael, standing in the middle of her antique octagon table. One hand was on his hip and the other was held aloft as he gazed into the distance, prepared to fly away at any moment. Mom picked him up, saying, “Oh no, I don’t think so.”
“But! Ah just trying to stand on da table!”
This is his favorite refrain currently. When Tori was packing her car to leave last Thursday, Raphael snuck out the door behind her. She looked up to see him trucking off down the street. She grabbed him and hauled him back into the house, with him protesting the entire way, “But! Ah just trying to go outside!”
Over the past week I’ve heard: Ah just trying to use da keys (in the ignition of my van, thankyouverymuch)! Ah just trying to throw the glass! Ah just trying to hit da dog! Ah just trying to get up (4.5 seconds after being put in bed for the night)!
These declarations are accompanied by a look of wounded innocence. And I feel for him, I really do. The thing about Raphi is he’s not all that intentionally difficult. Ok, about half the time he’s intentionally difficult. But a good portion of the time he’s just exploring some new idea. And it’s gotta be discouraging to discover yet again, for the zillionth time in one day, that your mom does not think your new idea is a good one. Even if you really want the hammer.
Plus I feel just like him sometimes. I get an idea that I think is wonderful, and the world interferes. At times I feel like scowling and shrieking, “But! Ah just trying to read a book! Ah just trying to get everything done on my list! Ah just trying to finish this essay! Ah just trying to get a good night’s sleep!”
Oh well. It doesn’t work for Raphael, and it doesn’t work for me either.

Update on Heidi: She’s doing very nicely. She can’t handle large crowds of kids, and tends to bark somewhat manically when people come to the door, but other than that she’s a pretty good dog. And I have to admit, she’s growing on me. She likes to sit at my feet and gaze at me with undisguised devotion, and it’s hard not to warm to that. She also seems to like all the activity of our household. One of her favorite things to do with Raphael is to go out in the back yard and run along beside him. Raphael pushes his popping lawn mower toy and belly laughs while Heidi runs and barks. It’s going to be hard to send her back to my grandparents. Not for Claire (our beautiful stupid cat), who has been sulking under my bed or in the basement pretty much since Heidi arrived, but for the rest of us. She’s sleeping under my chair as I type this, and she’s awfully cute.