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Casper goes to sleep with the curtains open, because she likes to look out the window and up into the big magnolia tree silhouetted against the dusky sky. She looks for shapes and faces in the voids between the leaves.
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Yesterday I was on furlough, Dillo's school was closed for the day, and Casper had her first day of spring break. We had a pretty nice day. Dillo watched TV in the morning while Casper helped me bake biscuits and played Sasha dolls. At 11 we went for a walk to Ike & Jane's, the local indy coffee/donut shop. The kids were very sweet at sharing their donuts - Dillo would give Casper a marshmallow off his "lucky charms" donut, and she's give him a bit of her chocolate (she had red velvet chocolate frosted.) I was hoping to visit the liquor store and a consignment shop over there, but the troops were a bit restless, so we visited the hardware store (where they did not have stakes, broccoli seedlings, or low-impact paint stripper, but did have polyurethane and wheelbarrows, both of which I ogled.) We walked home and had lunch on the porch in the warm warm sun, and then Casper built fairy houses in the garden while Dillo did water gun stuff and I washed window frames. A very brief TV break and then Casper spontaneously asked if we could go to the playground at her school. We coincided with people we know, which was fun. No real problems until 5:30 when we started making oatmeal cookies and they started bickering and whining.

Today started off with a huge ball of suck, however. We got to the YMCA for spring break camp, paperwork filled out and check written, only to be told they were full. Oops. It never occurred to me that might happen. I'd have signed up earlier if it was online, but they only sign up on paper and their office is only open 9-6, and we just didn't make it over there what with one thing and another. So Casper came to work with me. mr. flea suggested we call Good Dirt, the local pottery shop, which we know has spring break camps and I was just lamenting would be fun for Casper except it's so pricy and their hours are not geared for working families. Well, they had space, so I walked Casper up and signed her up for the week. It's $55 a day, but a small group (10-12), nobody we know but a bunch of little girls in her age group. It only runs 9-3, so I have to go fetch her. I am still working out how we'll swing it with my 8-5 work day. It's a 15(me)-20(me + Casper) minute walk from my office. She was happily watching Secret of NIMH on Hulu before I got through to Good Dirt, so maybe we can do some office afternoons, and maybe my neighbor can pick her up some days.

While Casper is adequately cared for at the moment, I am still feeling completely terrible about the mixup, and expect to be for some time. As usual, I feel like our lives are just barely hanging together, and the house of cards may tumble at any time. It's not a good feeling, and this mishap adds extra "you're an idiot" feelings on top. Joy.
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Casper's complaining she's got only two pairs of shoes that fit. Which is true. She has some Target sneakers with sparkles on the toes that were an Xmas gift and are size 2. She's got Lands' End mary jane trekkers from last summer that are a 1, I think. Maybe a 2.

How is this possible? A mere year ago she had no shoes and we bought her 2 pairs of sneakers right after Christmas. Both are now outgrown (one she barely wore, the other were worn out). We had shoe and fashion trauma like whoa over the summer.

She wants boots, I'm not sure what exactly, but I am pondering buying her some clearance boots in a 3 hoping they will still fit next year. Target still has some black fashion boots and Ugg knockoffs in the $20 range online. She could use another pair of sneakers - something in the punkier Keds, Converse, Vans universe. Unless I am lucky and catch a sale, these brands run $30-45 new!! And soon enough it will be summer. She needs and will get new flip-flops (thank you Old Navy for shoes I can afford). Will the Lands End still fit in 4 months? Doubtful. Should I spring for Keen sandals? Those at least have hand-me-down or resale value - assuming she doesn't wear them out AND outgrow them. She's hard on shoes.

In scouring ebay for boots in a size 3, I discovered that a girls' 3 is about the same as a women's 5. Yes, my 6 year old who stands 4'1" tall has feet nearly as big as some actual adult women. Heaven help her. I hope there are more styles available at sizes bigger than women's 10 than there used to be, because I am pretty sure that's where she's heading.
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I am nursing Dillo in his bed; Casper is brushing her teeth, flossing (she doesn't actually floss, but we have some berry-flavored floss that she lives to chew on; it's a start), and "cleaning" the bathroom (=rearranging the things on the sink top).

Casper comes in to say, in tones of distress, "What if my old friend Logan was my true love? Now I don't see him any more!"

I explained that if Logan was her true love, she would probably run into him later in her life, such as possibly when she was a grownup. We also discussed her possibly calling him on the phone (although what would they say to each other?)

We also talked all the way home from school about being "cool." There is a kid at after school named River who is cool, and he got Heelys (these sneakers with wheels inside, so they're semi-rollerskates) for his birthday this week. Casper asked when she would be old enough for Heelys (she didn't know the name, but described them very well) because she wanted to be cool. I asked if River fell down a lot, and she said yes, and I asked if it was actually cool to fall down? We talked about how cool isn't about the stuff you own, but it comes from knowing who you are and feeling confident. She mentioned a commercial ("Hannah has high tops" is the jingle; she was singing it all night) where a girl walks down the hall at school and everyone is like, (quoting Casper here) "Oh, she is precious!" because of her cool shoes.

Often before bed, especially if we've watched Avatar, we talk about Prince Zuko, and why he keeps switching sides. He mystifies her; I have been trying to explain that Zuko is figuring out who he is inside, and learning to listen to himself and not other people.

Lot of ideas about identity here!
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Conversation this morning:

Casper: How old do I have to be to get a Tendo DS?
me: Hmm, I don't know. What do you know about the Nintendo DS?
Casper: It has a little board that you hold and you can play video games and draw on it with a stick. If I was sick one day I could play with it and not be bored.
me: Does anyone you know have one?
Casper: No, none of my friends.
me: Maybe it's for kids who are a little bit older.
Casper: How old do I have to be in our house rules to get one?
me: Well, I don't know much about the Nintendo DS, so I'll need to get some more information about it to decide.

The house rules thing makes me laugh - we have one house rule about age, which is she can get her ears pierced at age 10 if she wants to.

I hate video games, though. I have childhood trauma around sexism, video games, and being ignored. So we'll have to see where we go with this.
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I talked to the after school program coordinator, who is also Casper's classroom aide, this afternoon, and it was a good window into how she's doing and how she's viewed at school. Mrs. E said that she makes them laugh all day long, by being so outspoken and firm. She related a story about Casper complaining about being woken up in the morning ("I'm not ready!") and the story she told about a recent night that Dillo was up crying a lot and I had to sleep with him ("my brother had a cold and was crying and kept waking me up!") She also apparently grabbed a boy in the class very forcefully by the shirt at gym and told him, "Stop following me! I told you that I don't like it when you follow me!" No steel magnolia she - all steel.

Mrs. E said Casper is settling down into the routine and seems to be more focused on her work - at first she tended to rush through it, but she takes more time now. This is good to hear since this is a classic issue with Casper. Mrs. E described her as very articulate.

She has been taking milk at lunch, which I didn't realize until late last week, but I guess is fine. She insisted that the milk was free for everybody, but we got the bill today. I am fine with her drinking school milk - Mrs. E assures me she chooses plain 2% even! - so we'll start an account for her. I just wish it hadn't taken 4 weeks for us to figure out the situation, but no harm done.
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We're back from Athens again. The inspection was good, no real surprises. The closest thing to a surprise was polybutylene pipe in the upstairs bathroom, but the connectors are copper which is good. Just something to keep an eye on. It will need a new roof in about 3 years, which was known, and the front porch needs some serious understructure work and new decking, which was obvious when one stepped on to it. Job interview went well. I'm not counting on getting the job, but I have good hopes.

I think the money is going to come together okay for us to actually put 20% down. Do people feel uncomfortable about me talking about the finances of this house? I know there's a taboo about talking about money, which I kind of like breaking, and I also think it's fascinating to look at the way three factors - family support, thrift, and luck - are letting us buy this nice a house. Kind of sociologically analyzing our own situation. I could write a long post, but I worry that people would take it as bragging. I feel that there's value in talking explicitly about this kind of thing, to de-mysterize it.

Anyway, the kids. Casper said in the car on the way to Athens Thursday night: "Mom, you are all ass." We think that came from the YMCA... also, I am so NOT all ass that it is doubly funny.

(Another funny, I tried on some J. Jill knit pants at the mall today, and I tried a size too small but even so I could tell they were going to be clingy as hell and revealing of every panty line and body bump, so I asked the saleswoman, "What do people wear under these?" and she said, "Um ... underwear?" I think even a thong would be problematic, so it's probably got to be spanx of something horrible like that. So, no.)

Dillo is getting to be such a big boy. At the mall he ran straight in to the play area and even was able to climb on things by himself. he last time we were there, only a couple of months ago, he was too shy and clung to a leg. And this morning we were out to brunch and he sat at the kids' table like a grown-up boy. He talks and talks, not always very intelligibly still. At this age, Casper had full grammatical sentences, pronouns, verbs, and was clear as a bell, so I need to keep reminding myself that Dillo's mumbley two and three word phrases are actually average to above average. Another way he and Casper are different is in their play - she has always been into ordering things and creating scenes with little dolls and bears and eventually making them talk to each other and do things. Lots of lining up toys, arranging them just so when she was almost two. Dillo likes to disassemble and reassemble things, most notably the two Lego Duplo Thomas trains we have. He throws things a lot - balls and silverware - and drives cars and planes and any vehicle. He loves to play outside and begs for playground in this was he and Casper at this age are alike). He "draws" on paper - does seem to know a few colors - and asks me to draw cats all the time. Eating out he loves french fries, won't eat much else at fast food (with all this driving there has been a sad amount of fast food lately). Up and down steps, with a hand if they are steep. A bit cautious physically, but once secure in his ability he is all out. Loves to run, sometimes saying, "Running! Running!"

I really feel as he is approaching two that his babyhood is going. I feel lke our family is changing into a family with two kids, not a family with a kid and a baby. Dillo and Casper deal well together, normal squabbling over sharing stuff, but they also have fun together increasingly.

Kid update

Apr. 28th, 2008 02:29 pm
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Last night Casper finally learned how to operate the mouse, so she happily spent, um, two hours watching Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers on Youtube. I'm glad she's learned how to mouse competently, but now I have to think a little more about the web for her. I should look into filtering YouTube, for example; there was a Chip & Dale fanvid set to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun that included what I think were fanart pictures of the female rodents (are they all meant to be chipmunks?) in bikinis that I thought was a little questionable.

Parenting is hard. Thanks god she can't read yet.

She spent the weekend whiny, whiny, whiny. We decided to give up soccer, as it was causing too much stress for all of us (the coach actually suggested it, and said we could ask for a refund, which I don't think is worth bothering, since she does love the jersey, anyway.) Something's up with that child, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I guess some one-on-one time would help; mr. flea worked most of the weekend, so I was double-teamed. Things I must do: enforce reasonable bedtime, think of some way to extricate ourselves from the candy demands (we are still rewarding poop in the potty with candy.) She told me this weekend that she wants to be nocturnal when she grows up. I told her teenagers are nocturnal but she got confused and now thinks that cheerleaders are nocturnal, which makes her want to be a cheerleader even more. Heh.

Dillo, in contrast, is pretty easy. He naps easily, generally goes to bed easily, has been sleeping better (up only once in the night, fairly often now; had been twice). He loves playdoh and his trains and just going about doing little busy-ness. He's been dancing like a hilarious hoe-downing farmer to the music-making toy my father got him at Christmas lately (video to come). He's a happy, expressive little dude, not much angst. He's still quite shy in regards new places, new people or even just lots of people, and big noises (honking the car horn makes him cry), but this existential angst that Casper's got, he ain't got. It's a delightful age, with the communicating, too.
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She likes "scary" stuff. She seems to really like movies that scare her a little bit - M.r flea rented Happy Feet on Monday night (against our no movies during the week rule) and when the penguin is being chased by the toothful leopard seal, she clung to my knee but at the same time seemed to enjoy herself. She also loved the Spiderwick Chronicles book that came in the Cheerios box (it was apparently at least a little scary - sounds like a rip-off of A Series of Unfortunate Events to me, though I haven't read it yet). And she likes to read the Lego catalogs and skips over the Town stuff - she wants to hear about the skeleton-fighting knights and the skeleton pirates and the Star Wars stuff and the undersea robots stuff. (She does like the one page of pink Legos for girls, too - little sets of horses and dogs.)

Last night she sat down with mr. flea while he was working on dissertation stuff and he showed her his code and explained that he was a kind of Code Monkey (TM Jonathan Coulton - she likes to watch the Youtube videos, especially one that's made from an anime movie). She gave him a big hug and said he was her furry little Code Monkey. Hee!
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My goal is to write a 3-4 page essay analyzing my textbook chapter by 5:30, when I am attending a parent advocacy group event (with FREE DINNER!)

I have eaten a cookie and had coffee to motivate me.

Waits.

So, Dillo is walking pretty well now, and has stopped crying at drop-off in his new classroom. At least for mr. flea dropping him off; since he sometimes cries when I leave the house in the morning, I am sure he would still cry if I dropped him off. The walking makes him seem like a much older kid, now that's he's decent at it. He can stand on the toilet and play with stuff! (Can't climb up there by himself, though he wants to.) It's amazing what a difference a couple of months makes at this age - there are kids in his class who are 2-3 months older than Dillo who are just so physically active and able, and some good talkers too, in the 18 months + group. (Of course, there is also a LOT of variability in skills at this age.)

Casper had a hard day at school Tuesday, though we're not sure why. I neither drop her off (mr. flea does) nor pick her up (Beth does) so it all feels a little distant to me. I do pack the lunches; we are working on reminding Casper every day that she should eat her lunch first and talk to her friends second (they only have 1/2 hour for lunch), and that she should get herself milk. She has money on an account that she can use to buy milk, but she has to go ask for it. We are thinking maybe including a straw in her lunchbox will help her remember about the milk, but that trick didn't work yesterday. Casper has two friends she talks about a lot: Logan and Alejandro. I am amused by her interest in the gregarious and slightly wild (to hear her talk about them!) boys. They are just like Chase in her day care class was. mr. flea has figured out who they are, and reports that they seem like nice kids. We're not sure that Alejandro speaks much English, but this doesn't seem to inhibit communication at all. Casper also really likes Emmett, her after-school buddy. Does not talk about any girls, not even the one who she's known since she was 2.

She got a Melissa and Doug brand dry-ease/chalk/magnetic board with letters as a belated birthday present last night, and took to it right away. She wanted to write "thank you" in chalk, but still only knows a few of the letters. I was trying to help her by finding the right magnetic letters so she could use them as a guide, but Dillo was 'helping' and I was trying to cook dinner, so it was not a great learning moment. She made an excellent T and a good H and then seemed to get mad at herself over a botched A. Then we tried her name - she knows E best, of course. But then I went to fry bacon and she started coloring herself with the dry-erase marker so the moment was lost.

It seems the opening curriculum at school is about "Grace and Courtesy." We are invited to an afternoon snack in a week when the kids will show off their manners. This week is music class, and Casper spent the stroller ride home from Emmett's singing, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!" Seems like a good lesson.
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Dillo is still in GO GO GO mode. He gets excited and bounces up and down while sitting - he was very wound up on Sunday night (past his bedtime) and was practically levitating, and also crawling over to Sumi (his birthday twin) and pressing his face into her, which is how he shows love.

He can clap, and also likes to take a toy in each hand and clap them together.

He is increasingly interested in pulling up on things and standing. Not really cruising yet, but I think he will walk sooner than Casper did (13 months).

At day care he steals pacifiers and toys, tries to take finger food from the bigger babies (we've given them the okay to give him finger foods).

At home we hear the smack smack of his hands on the bare floor as he crawls - usually heading for the bathroom, where he likes to play with the bath toys and is fascinated by the metal strip with brads that separates the linoleum from the wood floor.

He'll eat almost anything, though he does not like yogurt and hasn't really gotten into single beans or chick peas. He's rather messy and indiscriminate - he grabs a fistful of cheerios and half of them end in his lap. In contrast I remember Casper as much more focused on individual food items (and by this age, wanting to feed herself and clamming up.) His willingness to eat had made the course of amoxicillin he's on pretty easy to administer.

He's sleeping like the very devil right now. I think the GO GO GO bleeds over into the sleep. He's worse than he's ever been, and that includes newborn. And hungry to a degree he hadn't been in the night - he'll nurse both sides every 3 hours, and sometimes wakes wanting to nurse an hour after I nursed him (and then yells like crazy when I won't nurse him, but I really try not to). We are all tired - Dillo is up by 5:30 most days and mr. flea and I are getting up with him, and Casper is spontaneously getting herself up by 6 often enough (and then still not going to sleep any earlier).

Casper was sent home from school yesterday for throwing up all over the place (I got there and she looked at me and said, "I barfed!") but I think it was probably coughing up yucky phlegm that did it and not a stomach thing, as she was fine the rest of the day. She's had goopy eyes the last two mornings, which I *think* are more congestion and not pinkeye. (Well, they aren't pink.) We've sort of had another phase of teenage melodrama from her lately - some testing deliberate rudeness, some total breakdowns when any little thing doesn't go her way, some jealousy of the Dillo (trying to push him out of my lap, etc.) I think more sleep would solve some of it, but she's a toughie. Last night I was lying with her dozing, and she was still wide awake when Dillo cried to nurse at 10pm.

American Girl sent us a catalog yesterday - our first - and Casper was fairly captivated. She thinks the colonial dolls are princesses.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/475865940/
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In Casper's new class at school, the teachers send home a daily summary of the class activities, a weekly lesson plan, and a weekly note specifically about Casper, all by email. I like this method a lot, and I always try to make a point to talk to Casper about a specific book I know they read that morning.

Today I got an email from a woman who was a teacher in Casper's old class, and has just moved to her new class. She commented on the fact that this new class has brought out a lot of new things in Casper - a greater degree of independence, more willingness to talk to the other students. We were just talking about this at home, how Casper seems more mature now and also how happy she is to be in this class. Part of it is her favorite friends, the twins, are in it, but I think it's mostly that the vibe is where she's ready to be - she was ready to move up from the younger class some time before there was an opening.

One thing about this day care that makes me astonished is the poor level of literacy of the vast majority of the teachers she (and Dillo) have had. All of them are high school graduates, and many of them have Associate's degrees (generally 2 year degrees in childhood development from a community college.) I am so used to communicating on the internet (at work, and in my social life) with highly literate, highly verbal people. We even tend to use grammar and punctuation, and many of us spellcheck obsessively!

I don't think it's bad for the kids that their providers are not Word People, but it does make it hard to feel like I'm clearly communicating with them. This, more than anything to do with race (most of them are not white) or class (most of them are not paid much less than me, although I am much better educated, so it depends how you define class) makes me feel different from them.
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Running down the hall pulling the hospital-issue sitz bath (as yet unused) by the tubing, with toy animals riding in it like a sled.

In her bed in the dark; she is banging her foot against the wall.
Casper: Can I hit the Dillo?
me: No. I would hurt him.
Casper: He would cry.
me; That's right. We don't hit anybody, but especially not babies because they are so little.
Casper: Can I hit the wall?
me: Well, it wouldn't hurt the wall, but it might hurt you. Walls are hard.

Yesterday morning, I am nursing Dillo in the big pink chair and Casper climbs up so she is lying parallel to him and behind him, with her head on the arm. It's nice to hold both my babies - the tiny one and the HUGE one.

She's wanted a lot of attention from me that I don't always have to give. It's good to have Grandma Debbie here - this morning they polished the silver and went off the the Gardens ("before it got hot" which was 10:30, and already beastly in my view...)

I should go nap, but Dillo is awake and making faces and people keep calling on the phone.
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Yesterday, while we're watching This Old House, she comes out with this one:
Casper: I don't want to live on the land.
me: You don't want to live on the land?
Casper: I want to live in *space*.

Today she fell asleep sitting on my lap, butt naked, while I was watching the penalty kicks in the World Cup final. Clearly completely immune to the tension!

Now mr. flea and Casper are trying to build block towers as tall as Casper.

We had TWO swimming play dates this weekend. (Signs that my child is a modern kid: she asks for play dates and asks to have her grandmother on speaker phone. Neither of these things were invented when I was 2.) Today at the Looni faculty club, as guests of friends. It is like a country club, basically. Nice pool (including baby pool with shade over it), tennis courts, weight room, snack bar. Of course, I am ineligible to be a member - membership is restricted to employees who are paid on a monthly basis (i.e. "professional" staff: no secretaries, groundskeepers, bus drivers or nurses, thank you very much.) And they wonder why the Looni is still referred to as The Plantation. Plus it costs $1000, but that's for a lifetime membership as long as you are employed by or retired from the Looni, which is a decent deal if you like to swim and have long-term job intentions.
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Born to coworker Seth, a son, Jackson. Big brother is Max.
Born to Russell Crowe, a son, Tennyson. Big Brother is Charles.

Casper plays two official games now: one is "tag" which is actually junior hide and seek. It workes best if the parent is the one who hides, and the hiding should be pretty damned obvious, and occasionally the seeker gets bored and wanders off before finding the hider. The second game is "little lamp" and derives from ther Pixar short Luxo Jr (in which a small goose-neck lamp plays with a ball). It involves rolling a ball back and forth across the floor and much giggling when it goes astray.

Casper turns our big pink living room chair into a boat in the evenings, by dint of moving the back pillow to the front of the seat cushion. Different animals join her in the boat. She could also spend hours in the bath, with her ducks, cups, and various small plastic animals. She often does spend a whole hour.
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Harvest:
6 more pole beans (running tally: 22!)
2 zucchini (running tally: 5)
1 4-inch carrot from carrots 1 (the first official one that didn't count as weeding)

In a day or two I will have red zebra tomatoes. All others are still green.

In celebration of the fact that it was 96 degrees yesterday, we didn't leave the house. (Well, mr. flea went to the library and worked for 4 hours, and also did a grocery run to fulfill a hot dog craving - his, not mine.) Casper and I watched a lot of children's TV and played a lot of games and baked a cake and frosted it. The cake was a flag cake, with blueberry and strawberry decorations. Recipe for the cake was Joy of Cooking's "blitztorte" which came out just like a pound cake baked in a sheet cake pan (not that this was a bad thing, just not what I was expecting.) Frosting a basic buttercream. During lunch Casper scraped the frosting bowl with her carrot sticks and enjoyed the results.

In the evening as it was still hot we did not venture down to the ballpark to see fireworks but instead watched "A Capitol Fouth" on PBS. Elmo was featured, much to Casper's joy. After he left she kept asking when he was coming back, and cried when I explained that it was probably his bedtime. She was not mollified by Stevie Wonder. We did a lot of dancing to the other music, though - Casper's interpretive dance to "The Star Spangled Banner" as sung by popette Jo Jo was something to be seen. It involved slow bending over and sticking out her butt, hopping on one leg, and spinning around. (Okay, all her interpretive dance looks much like this, but it's so much funnier when it's slow and done to the national anthem.)
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Two Casper-coined words:
bibble. Generally used in the phrase "you little bibble!" Endearment.
snarnob. Generally used in the phrase "you snarnob!" Spoekn with wrinkled nose. A criticism.

We have a motley assortment of stainless flatware; half from my grandmother, and half from mr. flea's grandmother. I like the ones from mine a great deal, but there are only 6 place settings so we use a mix. But today I applied some effort and found the pattern name! It is Oneida Community stainless, in a pattern named Frostfire which was only discontinued last year (1981-2005). Probably my grandmother got it from Betty Crocker. Replacements Ltd. has it (http://www.replacements.com/webquote/OHSFRO.htm?s1=KX&11154&, fairly pricey at $10 a piece) and I can get my mother to haunt Ebay.

Some day we'll have everyday dishes that I like; right now we have two sets, from mr. flea's two sets of grandparents, neither of which I am crazy about.

(In contrast, see my silver, inherited from my great-great grandmother, and bearing her monogram: Old Newbury, by Towle. http://www.replacements.com/webquote/TWSOLNN1.htm)
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Casper is 2 years and 10 months old tomorrow.

Sleep:
She goes to sleep in her bed, with a parent lying beside her, and woe betide us if she doesn't have a stomach full of milk ("regular milk" as opposed to chocolate, happily). Unfortunately, the falling asleep part is quite often nearer 10pm than 9 during the week, when she naps at school. No weekend naps mean she's generally quite tired by 9 on the weekends; on the other hand so am I. Happily, she almost always sleeps all the way through to 7 am or so. There are occasional cries out in her sleep, but she only needs attention from one of us (i.e. me) in the night once or twice a week, and often that's around 4:30 or 6 am, when I tend to be up anyway.

Eating:
Favorite foods now include banana chips, watermelon, and popsicles (both homemade oj ones and Locopops "pink ones".) Still kind of a finicky eater at home; it's not that she doesn't like a lot of things, it's just that she's highly variable in her eating. I think it evens out. The only thing she really doesn't like, consistently, is raisins, and that extends to any dried fruit (well, except banana chips, I guess) and even blueberries in blueberry muffins.

Potty Training:
We plug along. No accidents at school in weeks. Accidents at home and elsewhere occasionally. Will still only very rarely poop in the potty, preferring to save it for a pullup. Still in proper diapers at night. We're not pushing for more progress at the moment.

Talk:
Generally has a good command of grammar, verb tenses, etc. Occasionally still gets the gender of pronouns wrong. Does use irregular verb tenses for most verbs, and will occasionally catch and correct herself ("goed" to "went"). Nice long complex explanatory sentences, although she is still on the quiet side with everyone other than us. Can recite from memory entire books as we read them, and corrects the reader if a similar but wrong word is substituted. Excellent singer, and can mostly carry a tune and knows lots of songs. Is a very creative baby talker, which leads us to...

Behavior:
We are in a big phase of "playing baby." She will tell us she is a baby, ask to wear a diaper, refuse to speak and only talk in her beautiful baby talk, and stomp her foot petulantly when she is told we don't speak baby talk so we don't know what she wants. We treat this routine as a game, and let her be a baby whenever she wants, basically - I feel like it's an important thing for her to feel like she can still be our baby as we prepare for the actual baby's arrival and talk about "growing up to be a big sister." So I say, "Come here, baby," and take her in my arms and cuddle her, and usually she is ready to be a big girl again after that.

In short: my baby, my big girl, all mixed up in one.
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We are in the car.

me: When we get home, I want to lie down right away in Casper's bed. I am so tired.
Casper: No, you should lie down in your own bed.
me: Do you want to go to sleep with Daddy tonight?
Casper: Yes.
mr. flea: You know, did you ever think about going to sleep by yourself?
Casper: Huh?

We laughed and laughed and laughed.
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It is pouring rain, as it has done at aproximately 12-hour intervals since Friday afternoon, and is predicted to do for most of the week. On the plus side, no need to water the garden; on the mnius side, it's hard to dry the hand-washing on the line.

In garden news:

Recently harvested: 1 zucchini, lots of basil, parsley. Need to harvest the approximately 10 pole beans that have been produced so far. Have some more zucchini in progress, many tomatoes still bright green, and one little eggplant.

Rabbit depredations have now extended to the bush beans as well, and japanese beetles discovered the pole beans. Note to self: beans are hexed. Do not bother in future.

Recently planted things have germinated: more canteloupes, more carrots, more beets (original beets are a desolate wasteland), marigolds.

I have a second wave of climbing rose blooms, and under them the four o'clocks are blooming. A funny flower I'd never heard of until Nutty sent me a packet of seeds a few years ago, but they're like iron in this difficult climate, and so very useful. 3rd wave of lilies are blooming - some beautiful orientals, just like in the stores, which it amuses me to be able to produce so easily in my garden. Will have gladiolas, which I hate anyway and these are peach-colored, so doubly hateful, but I can't throw away a thriving plant, soon.

I finally inserted the new needle in the sewing machine and am again progressing on the Armadillo's quilt. Next need to make a measured drawing and some design decisions (can do at work tomorrow, where I have graph paper).

Casper's bonk is actually not photogenically horrible enough to bother, although I think there is actually a *dent* in her head. Well, now if she doesn't get into Harvard, I'll have something to blame.

We are thinking of going to the mall to get out of the house, but for now Casper is dancing to music in her Elmo underpants and shaking her maracas. (Literally.) mr. flea is dissertating in the bedroom.

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