Friday, September 26, 2008

Meet Fred

(I wrote the majority of this post in June, but never posted it. The update is at the end.)

Jason, Patrick, and I first made Fred's acquaintance last year on our front porch. He wasn't very big but we liked him anyway. We got a kick out of his ability to show up and leave with hardly any fanfare, and the fact that he was content just to sit around with us. He didn't seem to need much from us other than some admiration, which we were happy to provide. Since then, Fred has shown up repeatedly: several more times on the front porch, twice on the back porch, and even one time in my greenhouse. Melkamu has met him as well, but seems less impressed with Fred than the rest of us.

Fred is a toad.

We only get to see Fred when he chooses to show up. Until recently, the strangest place Fred had chosen to show up was in a flat of flowers in my greenhouse, when a large clump of "dirt" hopped halfway across the flat as I started watering it and startled me so much that I dropped the watering can. Thankfully, we knew Fred by this point, and he us, and was happy to hop into a cup so that I could tote him out of the greenhouse, in which he probably would have otherwise died (it gets very hot in there).

A few months ago, though, Fred decided that only seeing us upon occasion was wearing thin and he'd like to make a more permanent committment. He chose to inform us (read: me) of this at a few minutes before midnight as I was, uh, indisposed.

I had heard a gentle thump on the closed bathroom door a few minutes previously, but just assumed it was one of the dogs settling down outside the door. I didn't even look up. Several minutes passed. Then I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. And then Fred hopped a good foot into the guest bathroom. He had crawled under the door.

Well, despite Fred being a friend of the family, this was a little too much. I suppose he did try knocking, though he didn't exactly wait for an invitation. But he hadn't been invited into the house in the first place.

Oh, and there was one other matter. The guest bathroom is ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE HOUSE. I have no idea how Fred got there. He came in from the hallway.

Needless, I quickly became less indisposed and scampered walked calmly into our bedroom to inform Jason of the new member of the household. Jason mumbled something indistinct from the shadowy recesses of the bed. It sounded something like "Just step on him," but I know that Jason would never have suggested treating a friend in such a manner. I also caught something about "Scoop him up in a dustpan," and decided to employ this strategy.

After taking pictures, of course.

With a dustpan and Tupperware dish in hand, I found Fred again. He was completing his tour of the guest bathroom with a look behind the trashcan. I popped the Tupperware dish over him, slid the dustpan underneath, and brought him out to the front porch. He hopped down into the ivy, clearly affronted at the rude ejection from our house.

It will be interesting to see where Fred shows up next. I can only request of him that he choose a lively cucumber or tomato plant next time, preferably in the light of day.

***Update: it was months before we saw Fred again. I was sure he was so insulted by my lack of hospitality at midnight in June that he was off to find a new family to surprise at strange times. A couple of weeks ago, though, I lifted a box off a chair on our back deck--and lo and behold, there was Fred! I thought he was a leaf at first, so his hop took me by surprise and I jumped. We all had a hearty laugh--well, Fred just hopped again but I know he meant "Surprised you, didn't I?"

Oh Fred, you kidder you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A few tidbits

We went out recently to celebrate Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year. Admittedly, we didn't go out to celebrate until two days afterwards because it fell mid-week, but we still had a lovely time and really enjoyed our lunch. Ignore the goldfish on Melkamu's side--they were a pre-lunch snack. The injera and kik alicha on the table are always his favorites while we're there (as was evidenced on the table right in front of him).

I can make decent injera, after a bunch of unsuccessful tries, and will be trying kik alicha soon. My doro wat isn't bad. I need to try some new recipes, though! It's hard when Patrick won't eat Ethiopian food (he's tried it...once), but I still make it. The rest of us like it. Patrick can eat some Cheerios or PB&J.


Melkamu's starting to use the potty! I won't go into potty-training details here (because I know some of you might be reading this on your lunch breaks and also...eww), but I intend to have him do Na.ked W.eek over my winter break. Or, given that it will be winter--yes, even in Atlanta it gets chilly upon a December morn--perhaps Half-Dressed Week. It worked wonders with Patrick and since Kamu wants to use the potty, we'll give it a go. Until then, we'll continue with trying the potty several times a day, with lavish praise anytime he actually uses it. And since he'll let us know when he needs to use it sometimes, we'll continue to watch for signals.


I'm supposed to be writing a test. I don't want to write a test. If I write the test, I'll have to grade the test. Actually, if I write one test, I'll have to grade 38 of them. Why can't my money return that kind of investment? Why don't I have money to invest? Why would I want to invest money in this kind of market?


This is where my tests will be graded. My office*. I have to find time to review the pile of textbooks on the left corner of the picture. I'm not sure when I'm supposed to do that. This is the second weekend that I've brought one of them home, and the second weekend that I've utterly failed to even take the shrink-wrap off it. Have I mentioned that I also need to write a lecture for tomorrow? I'm not sure when I'm going to do that either. It's almost midnight. I have choir rehearsal tomorrow night. Heroes starts their new season tomorrow night while I'm at choir. And my DVR isn't working. Is it wrong to skip choir rehearsal to watch a TV show?

Probably. Alas.


We went to the zoo today. We love the zoo. The new lion cubs were on display--they were as boring to watch as the adult lions. Zonked out. But they were cute. Our new baby panda, while still too young to be on display, is also very cute. Patrick had cotton candy for the first time. It validated our decision not to give him cotton candy before now--or ever again. While it was lovely to see how quickly he managed to clean up all of his toys when we got home today, the hyper child who kept running through my Bradley class this evening is someone we'd like to avoid in the future.

*Lest you worry that the poster in my office is one of those sappy motivational posters, rest assured that it's not.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"It's time to dismember the baby!"

Everyone that I know must immediately start following, starting with this link:

Jason showed the site to me a few weeks ago and we sat at his computer, practically falling off the chairs laughing as we scrolled through the archives. (We're really cool people.) Trust me, you'll feel the same way.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I have not fallen off the face of the earth

Instead, I am buried in the pile of 46 tests and 76 papers that I received between 11 a.m. on Wednesday and midnight on Thursday. Hooray for on-line paper submissions. Yay. Really. The environmentalist in me rejoices at the lack of trees that were killed in completing the paper (especially since it was for my environmental science classes) but the teacher in me wants to cry that now I actually have to grade them all.

Speaking of being an environmentalist, have I mentioned that I actually like not having a dryer? I had already started hanging out the laundry before ours died, so I do take some credit for not freaking out about it. I find that, believe it or not, it saves me time. I throw in a load of laundry at night about 5 nights a week, do an extra spin in the morning to dry it a bit, and put it on the racks. I take off one person's clothes at a time and fold them into the basket, which makes putting them away incredibly easy. Everything dries flat and wrinkle-free, so I haven't ironed in months--which is different than my normal not ironing in months and having wrinkled clothes everywhere. I don't ever have to do 7 loads of laundry in a single weekend, which means that I never go up to bed and find piles of (really) wrinkled laundry covering it. I do occasionally get screwed up by rain, but I try to anticipate it and put the racks inside if I know it's coming. I know we may have to reevaluate come winter and heavier clothes that don't dry quickly, but it's not like we get frost warnings in September down here (just mentioning it, Siobhan...).

What, you're not here for my environmental updates? The kids? You want to hear about the kids?

It's OK, Jason and I are used to being non-entities in our own home.

Patrick--is in preschool this year. He's having a great time with swimming lessons once a week, and also gymnastics again. He's learning to write and is one of the few kids in his class who can draw a person that is actually recognizable as a person...and I thought he had my genes! He's already surpassed my artistic skill. His people do have lots of fingers and toes, and he recently drew a person with a large circle for a stomach with two dots in mid-chest region. Instead of simply assuming the obvious, I asked what they were. "Those are his lungs," replied Patrick.

Lungs. My child thinks lungs look like nipples. My child draws pictures of people with lungs. I'm not sure which is more disturbing. Yet I'm strangely proud that this anatomy teacher's child is drawing people with lungs at age 4. And strangely embarrassed.

Anyway, he's learning to write letters more clearly and is really starting to want to read. He likes to spell a lot and is getting quite good at sounding out the spelling of simple words. He still likes numbers and often counts as high as he can...currently 48. I'm not sure why 48. If you ask him what comes after 48, he will say 49. If you tell him 50 comes after that, he can continue on past 50 with ease. But if he counts on his own, he stops at 48.

He's 39 lbs and is the second-tallest child in his class. He's an awful lot of fun to be around! It's hard to imagine that he'll be 5 in less than 3 months.

Melkamu--he's just blossoming before our eyes. He's been home for 6 months now and is such an incredible little boy. He has, in the last week, started talking quite a bit. He's imitating a lot of sounds and has picked up probably a "word" each day of the last week. Some of those words include "va" for water, "O's" for Cheerios, "babuh" for bubbles, and "pah" for pop. He wants to be able to communicate in the worst way. Ironically, once he started getting a few words, he started getting more frustrated when he couldn't communicate with us. We've had some good tantrums lately, let me tell you.

He's still my little water baby. He will jump into the water without any thought for safety (which is a little scary, so we are extra careful to keep an eye on him) and try his hardest to swim all over the place. Tonight in the bathtub, he laid down on his stomach, put his face in the water, and started blowing bubbles. Unprompted. He has never been told to try to do this before. He's never done it before. He just suddenly decided that would be a good thing to do. He'd blow some bubbles, look up at Patrick and I, laugh hysterically, and do it again. I've decided he's my little Michael Phelps. He's got the same body type (long torso, short legs), so expect to see him in the Olympics in 2024, where he will win NINE gold medals. Just my prediction.

At just shy of 22 months old, he's 29 1/2 lbs and only a head shorter than Patrick. From what I can tell on the growth charts, this means Melkamu went from 25th percentile in weight at 16 months to 50th at 18 months to above 75th at 22 months. I would also imagine Melkamu is now beyond the 75th percentile in height that he was at 18 months. Even the nurse at our pediatrician's office remarked that he looked like he's been stretched! He is a big boy, and quite the bruiser as well. Kamu's got almost 8 teeth (the 8th is almost through), but the lack of teeth doesn't stop him from eating anything he likes. Obviously.

He likes school now and no longer cries when we drop him off...but he bounces up and down with excitement as soon as I get there, and comes running for a hug. He especially likes the alligator bounce room.

Kamu's been having some trouble with his breathing. A slight cold at the beginning of last week led to nebulizer treatments every 3-4 hours by Wednesday, and practically going to the ER on Wednesday evening. Fortunately, he was OK once he fell asleep, and we went to the pediatrician the next morning. We're still doing nebulizer treatments 4 times a day, and we've upped his daily preventative inhaler dose. We'll taper them off over the next week, but it does make me worry about him during cold and flu season if a simple summer cold did this to him. He got his flu shot this past Thursday and hopefully it will help keep him safe. We'll just have to be careful and vigilant.

OK, I've got to get some sleep. Another fun day of grading tomorrow. Whee.
Patrick doing yoga with me

Couldn't you just eat this kid up???