Bits and Pieces/What’s Going On

November 2, 2010

Oh hello, friends, do you know that I think of you often and have many things to tell you? But that, while in many ways adding a fourth kid hasn’t really added much in the work department, it has taken away much in the time department. Some days I honestly get about thirty seconds to myself. Plus there’s the problem of my computer, which has started to (literally) make a death rattle, and has generally adopted the speed of a top-of-the-line Radio Shack desktop circa 1987.

But first I want to tell you that Ramona is a total peach and generally just a happy little bubster. Though right now she’s going through some kind of five-month about-to-do-some-big-developmental-things Sleep Issue, wherein she wakes up all the time, and the last few nights has woken up at 11:00 or midnight and been AWAKE, and excited and wanting to play. Or maybe this is just a fourth kid thing, and she has already figured out that midnight is the only time when she can have her parents all to herself.

I will also tell you that she continues to have various skin issues, mainly major eczema — dry, red skin. We took her in for a blood test which came back with a possibility of allergies to (are you ready?) wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut. Which means I have had to give up those things (read: I have had to give up all the things I eat all the time). Mostly I eat rice cakes with almond butter, and salad. Her skin did get better right away, and it seemed like some great miracle, but then her skin got bad again. And then it got better, but I caved and had a piece of pizza, and it got worse again. So who knows. We have an appointment in December with an allergist, when they’ll do a skin test and determine what for real she’s allergic to, if anything. Until then I get to test out how strong my willpower really is. Ah, toast! Ah, butter! How I miss you!

There is not much Halloween candy you can eat if you’re not eating wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts.

And, speaking of food, I want to tell you that for years the citizens of the Portland metro area have been telling Trader Joe’s that they really should open a store here. For years Trader Joe’s said, “We have no plans to open a store in Maine.” Well! Finally! After all our rabble-rousing, we now have our own Trader Joe’s store, and it is THE LARGEST TRADER JOE’S IN THE COUNTRY. And the opening day, last Friday, was the largest opening of any store the company has ever had. The employee I talked to in the store said, “We will never doubt Maine again.” I feel foolish for being so excited about a grocery store, but it’s true, I am. What are your Trader Joe’s staples? What can’t I live without?

I want to tell you that I bought a bag of these bag clips, and I love them. Am I the only one who finds those little squarish bread-bag clips to be one-time-use items? I can never get them back on the bag in a satisfactory manner. Or the twist tie will get lost. I am very happy to have a bunch of reusable bag clips in my drawer.

I want to tell you that my camera died. Apparently it’s a common problem for my camera (a Canon PowerShot SD1200) to get this lens error that pretty much means death (or prohibitively expensive repair). I’ve only had it for a year and a half. I’m having trouble dealing with the thought of researching a new camera and actually ponying up the cash to get it. Sigh.

Besides the fact that sometimes I only turn on my computer every four days because the death rattle is so depressing.

I also want to tell you that I randomly bought a kitchen timer, and it has made such a huge difference with kid discipline. It’s like I’m suddenly able to foist the nagging off on this inanimate object. “Playroom needs to be clean in ten minutes! Timer is set!” and then I walk away. It’s also great for bedtime chapter book reading: we set the timer and when it goes off, it’s time for bed. I will say that I mistakenly bought a battery-operated timer, so it doesn’t just go “ding!” but beeps annoyingly for a minute and a half. And while, yes, it’s an incredibly irritating “time to get out of bed” kind of noise, it is helpful for proving to the children that yes, indeed, the timer really is going off. Sometimes when I time them using the microwave timer, they deny that it ever went off, since it only beeps once.

I also got this book called 365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly, to try to make our kids not so much mannerless monkeys. It’s divided into sections, with a different manner for each day. A lot of them are fairly esoteric, but hey, you never know when your kid will be going to a formal dinner or to the symphony, and plus a lot of manners sort of fit into a general idea or frame of mind about how to act in public, so I think it’s all good to know. The book has a different manner for each day of the year, but we started in the table manners section and are going to skip around as we see fit. I like the one-manner-a-day format, because just learning one small thing (we read it at dinner, and discuss) seems just enough to let it sink in and not be overwhelming.

I want to tell you that Dave and my 12th wedding anniversary is this Sunday. We will most likely have a glass of wine and maybe some wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free delicacy after the kids go to sleep (because nothing says, “The first 12 years were fun; let’s do it for 112 more years” like almond butter on a rice cake). But if we do somehow decide to go out to eat, where should we go? I haven’t been to a restaurant in Portland (besides Silly’s) in years, and I know there are a bunch of new ones.

Though if you want a tasty allergy-friendly dessert (besides rice cakes), I tried this apple cranberry crisp and it was amazing. The only esoteric ingredient is coconut oil, which I happened to have.

I should end this, because my window of being able to blog has opened and closed many, many times since I started typing. Let me just show you this (blurry, taken-by-cell-phone, everyone-has-redeye) Halloween photo. Henry is Harry Potter, Eli is Buzz Lightyear, Ramona is a monkey. Zuzu couldn’t decide between all the various dress-ups in the dress-up bin, so she combined some and was a pirate crossing guard.