Elliot has found a way to keep his thumb in his mouth. He's been a cuddling, thumb sucking charm all day. Here he is passed out on the floor in the living room.

Joshua's birthday balloon still has enough helium to float. Elliot loves to chew on the string when Josh isn't throwing it into ceiling fans.

Joshua tells us we need to go to the playground more. We plan to go this evening after dinner. Dinner tonight is stuffed pasta shells: ground beef, spinach, onion, parmesan and spices stuffed into jumbo pasta shells with tomato sauce and mozzarella on top, baked to yumminess.

Elliot can now sit up- yay!! I've been waiting for this milestone. The plan is to start potty training Josh next weekend. I theorize that it will be easier to help Josh and clean up if Elliot can sit and entertain himself for a moment. I'll keep you posted on that next weekend.

Josh has become a tattle-tell. He tells on his brother all the time. Mommy, look at "Adderate". He's touching me. He's kicking. He's making noise. He's got my toy. I'm sure this is only the beginning of years of tattling to come.

I took Josh to play at a nearby McDonald's for lunch. It's too hot to be outside with Elliot with no shade or water to play in. Josh befriended a 6-year-old boy there. While they played chase in the tunnels, the dad made conversation with me briefly. He first inquired about my sons' ages and asked if that was a lot of work. "I assume you have help," he said. He was asking if I was married. It was a fair question (I haven't worn a ring in 5-6 years) though it threw me for a moment. I replied that my house has way too much testosterone sometimes. Apparently he's a new single dad. We talked about boy stuff for a little bit: obsession about vehicles, mud, their energy, toys. I got Josh to sit down for a few bites of lunch between playing hide-n-seek in the tunnels and somewhere in that time the dad got a call to read a letter he'd written to his ex-wife. I'm talking about pages and pages of a letter in a legal pad. It took him nearly ten minutes to read it all! I tried not to look like I was eavesdropping because it's hard not to listen when he's sitting right next to me! I didn't catch any juicy details but I did feel sorry for the guy. My dad raised me for a few years on his own and I can imagine that was tough. Here's a double standard: if this had been a single mom, I would have offered to exchange numbers so the boys could play together again giving her an outlet for friendship and support. But because it was a dad, a single and looking dad, I had to let him go it alone. When we left, Josh and his friend said good-bye like ten times while I said good-bye to the dad hoping to myself that he would end up okay after this divorce.

Merlin was in kitty jail last night. We left him out Monday night which isn't totally uncommon though we try to get him in before we go to bed. Anyway, he was out and I didn't see him all day yesterday. We searched for him after dinner but he wasn't around. Rusty spoke to a neighbor last night just before Josh's bedtime and discovered what happened to Merlin. The neighbor apparently has an animal trap in their yard to catch other animals like, well, I can't think of any animals we have wandering around our inner-city suburban besides small rabbits and geckos. So Merlin got caught and so the neighbor called animal control to pick him up.

What ticks me off the most is that the guy didn't let the cat go. He didn't catch a raccoon or skunk or rabbit, he caught a healthy looking domestic cat. I would think a normal person would let the cat go. But no. Now we have to bail Merlin out and get him to the vet to check for fleas and ear mites. Thanks neighbor. You suck!

This was shot the day after Joshua's birthday.

Josh's 3rd birthday was a hit! We had a good turn out- 11 kids, and their parents. The kids made their own mini pizzas, bounced on the bouncy house outside, ran around, there was running, swinging, screaming (the happy kind), playing and toys scattered EVERYWHERE! It was crazy. But a good crazy. Josh loved his cake, loved opening his presents and was thrilled to see so many of his friends over to play. Logistically, I ran out of cups for the kids to drink out of and almost ran out soda and juice, but food wise I over compensated for the cake (too much).

There's a new show on Animal Planet that I love to watch. Creature Comforts is created by the same people who created Wallace & Gromit. People are interviewed and asked to speak about various topics. Their voices are then set to animated clay creatures. Bickering couples become bugs, birds, cats or dogs, friends become a group of animals, and kids are represented as baby or young animals. Anyway, the show is highly comical and relatively family friendly if your kids don't follow adult conversations well.

Tomorrow is Josh's third birthday! We have lots of fun stuff planned for him starting with breakfast at Denny's in the morning. We'll do something fun late morning or mid-day in an effort to get him down for a nap. The idea is to set up the house while he sleeps. We're expecting about 11 kids (!!) and about 15 adults plus one teenager from the neighborhood who will be our pizza chef.

I'm looking forward to starting tomorrow as much as I'm looking forward to getting past it.

I feel bad that we may have killed a bird egg. Rusty found a nest in the vents on the side of the house. I looked for an egg first and when I didn't see one, I began pulling out the nest material. Then I found it! A tiny Lima bean sized speckled egg. I knew right away this egg would either never hatch or the chick would be abandoned b/c I had ruined the nest and touched the egg. In vain, I stuffed some material back, but the bird that used to sit on our window sill at the top of the stairs hasn't been here since that day.

Next time I'll assume there's an egg and leave the nest alone. :-(

A haiku representing a typical Monday, by Sarah.

Elliot- easy.
Josh, not so- all energy.
Time to rest, unwind.

Today Elliot is 6 months old! He's grown from a tiny helpless baby into a larger still helpless baby. He isn't sitting yet, but hopefully soon. He's a rolling fiend, and drooling goblin of two teeth. He likes peek-a-boo, funny faces, music and loves watching his brother. He's wearing 9-month sized clothes and chewing on EVERYTHING. Even my shoulder sometimes.

Elliot got baptized last Saturday evening at our church. He was so adorable in his white outfit. I took the extra precautions to avoid any messes by putting a vinyl cover over his diaper and a bib on at all times except when he was up front. I don't have any pictures to share yet. He was a charm to the congregation smiling at everyone. Joshua was handsome and well behaved too. We talked about how to behave at church on our way there. He was so well behave! He didn't run, talk loud or have a fit. He sat next to us at the front then went with older kids half way through. I was so worried Elliot would need to be fed or would fuss but he didn't. He just chilled out in Rusty's arms at the back. After the service everyone in our group came to our house for sandwiches, cake and refreshments.

One odd thing- Joshua didn't nap that day like I hoped he would so by 7pm, just after we got home he told us he wanted to sleep, to make room dark and make it quiet. He then slept for twelve and a half hours! In his church clothes even. In ultimate laziness, we just let him stay in those clothes the next day.

Mother's Day was relaxing. For me. Rusty and Josh cleaned out my car inside and out, which took nearly all day. Normally I'd ask what I can do to help, but not that day! I napped when Elliot napped, ate a good breakfast that Rusty made (and cleaned up) and watched TV or read my book between child caring. I was hoping Rusty would have taken both kids out for a little bit but the timing didn't work out for that to happen.

Today we celebrated Vincent's third birthday. He's been Josh's buddy since they were babies. I can't believe how much these guys have grown up! I have to see pictures of Josh as a baby to remember those days. And in just the past few weeks he's gotten a new language explosion. Now he tells us things more articulately and jabbers on about whatever comes to mind. After I read his books and turned off his light for bedtime tonight he told me "Thank you for going on a walk with me." We walked around the neighborhood after dinner.
"Thank you for talking to me." I like talking to you Josh.
"Thank you for talking to Daddy." I like talking to Daddy too.
"I'm tired now. Are you tired too Mommy?" Yes, I'm really tired. It's almost my bedtime too.
Within thirty minutes, he was fast asleep.

In other news, Rusty seems to have honed in on his hand shaking problem. It appears to be related to a thiamine deficiency (that's the B vitamins) due in part to his body's inability to absorb it. After drinking a glass or three of alcohol every night for years, his body lacks thiamine to the point that it's causing him neurodegeneration in his arms. We never gave it a name but his nightly night-caps had the appearance of alcoholism. I've been very sensitive to this subject (those in my family know why) so I have a hard time articulating how much I detest chronic drinking. After a couple of doctors tried (and failed) to correctly diagnose his arm shaking problem, Rusty took the issue into his own hands (pun!) doing research. He came up with a theory, ran it by our family doctor then got a few prescriptions to treat his problems. He's on a new beta blocker for the nerves, an anti-depressant for stress (that one's temporary) and Antabuse to stop his drinking. That one is powerful stuff. If he drinks alcohol, he'll vomit. And the drug's effects stay in the system for weeks after he stops taking it, so he can't skip taking it for an occasional drink. We'll see how this goes. Hopefully it will help with his shaking and improve his overall health.

The school is teaching Joshua and his classmates how to say their names. This is great in theory. If they get lost, they can tell someone their first and last name. Problem is, the teacher is mispronouncing our last name so he says he's Joshua "Nej-dul" instead of "Nay-dul". After we failed to correct him at the dinner table, Rusty has promised to have a word with the teachers. Obviously the teacher's wisdom to our last name is more gospel than ours.

In other news, Elliot seemed to be cleared of his ear infection for a couple days then his other ear began filling up. So I filled a prescription for amoxicillin ad he's begun the antibiotic. Enough is enough. I'm worried his hearing could be effected. Hopefully he won't have an allergic reaction like Josh does.

We measured Joshua's height this evening. He's a little over 38" tall. That's 3 inches from last year. Afterwards, he wanted to measure Daddy so Josh told Rusty to hold one end while we looked at the numbers on bottom. It measured 84" because Rusty was holding his arm up high, the cheat. Next it was my turn. Rusty helped Josh look at numbers on the floor.
"What's that say?" Rusty wanted Josh to read the numbers. Josh huffed a second then said,
"It say mommy tall!"

- - - - -

In other news, I've prematurely started Elliot on jarred carrots. I say prematurely because I didn't finish introducing the grains, like rice cereal and mixed grains cereal. I was hoping a new flavor, something tasty, would inspire him to open wide. Uh no. He's still very stubborn about eating solid foods. Maybe this is the kind of kid who needs to start with fruits first then graduate to veggies.

Speaking of fruits, has ayone else noticed that apples aren't as flavorful as they used to be? I got apples from the grocery store last week (Wal-Mart, non-organice, Red Delicious) but half way through one of them I was totally bored. It didn't have an apple smell, it wasn't sweet, the inside had no flavor at all. It was bleh. I'm testing a theory that it's grown overly processed. I took the boys to Whole Foods to buy a couple of organic Red Delicious apples. Same size, same color, but the organic smells WONDERFUL! Problem is, it's hard to buy organic when we're trying to be frugal. Correction: I'm trying to be frugal, not necessarily we. Anyway, organic fruit (apples anyway) may be one of those items I'll have to spend extra on because it's totally worth the extra buck. We buy some things organic already (I buy organic/chemical free meat) or foods that are close enough to organic. Milk from Braum's comes from cows without growth hormones or antibiotics and the company owns their cows so they regulate what to feed them, although they don't label the milk as organic.

I got pictures from my great aunt Carolyn. There are some pictures of me that I wish never existed. And yet I keep finding those same ones over and over and over... I wish someone had just told me my glasses were too big and that bangs didn't look good on me. I suppose we all have a picture or two of ourselves that we hate.

Elliot has gotten onto a much more reasonable sleeping pattern the last couple of nights. He zonks for the night around 8 or 9, wakes to be fed around 1am, wakes again at 5am to be fed then snoozes an hour or so. I'm not sure what caused this pattern, but I'm loving it! It's much better than waking several times a night. And now I can have dreams.



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