Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sixth birthday

Yesterday, Min turned six years old. Six! I can no longer carry her for any distance (although Brodie willingly does so and will for as long as she continues to ask to be carried) but I can pick her up for a hug. Her second loose tooth will fall out any day now. She's almost 48 inches and weighs about 45 pounds. Disney princesses are long since out and horses and American Girl are in. She can read an entire book to me without tiring.

She is still such a pleasant person to be around. She never cries and screams to get her way. She rarely whines. She is considerate of others' feelings. She likes school and gets along well with her friends. Every day I am aware of what a blessing it is to have her in my life.

A few weeks ago we went to a birthday party for a two-year-old girl who is the daughter of Navy physicians who are friends of ours. These docs did a rotation in the Bethesda Naval Hospital NICU and they have friends who also did rotations there. Our friends loved telling the other docs at the party about Margot and her stay in the NICU. The other docs - some of whom did their rotations there while Min was a patient, although they didn't specifically remember her - loved seeing how Margot has grown and thrived. Some commented that the NICU was full of 28 and 30-weekers right now, and that they would return to tell those babies' parents about M and how she's grown since her early start.

For Min's birthday, we started with cinnamon rolls for breakfast (her request) and presents. Her gifts were that fluffy robe, a zhu-zhu pet, and a Scooby Doo game for her Leapster.

Later, Margot and I went ice-skating at the Sculpture Garden. We were both unsteady at first, but after an hour we skated around and around while holding hands.

We ate lunch out, and then went to the National Gallery to see Degas' Little Dancer. (This was Margot's request, also. Her art teacher talked about Little Dancer some months ago and M has wanted to see it ever since.) Lunch was pizza and hot chocolate.

Later, we came back to the house and colored. The three of us ate dinner (M's birthday request was chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, and edemame) and then watched Home Alone 2.

Happy birthday, Margot! We love you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The final days of being five

Margot is down to the final hours of her fifth year. To recap what is always a hectic week, here is what she's been up to:

Visiting cousins in New York City

Celebrating Christmas Eve

Decoding the letter left by Santa

Thanks, Santa! An American Girl doll! Just what Margot wanted!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Big Questions

Why is it that the "Big Questions" always come when I'm running around and unable to formulate a good answer?

As I drove Margot to school this morning she asked, "Why did Jesus have a stepfather?"

My frazzled mind was not prepared for that one. You can bet that when I am sitting in my meeting today downtown at HHS, I won't be thinking about the editorial direction of the Office on Women's Health. Instead I'll be composing the best answer to this question (to be delivered after school) so she doesn't stop asking me the big questions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Clara

On Sunday afternoon, Margot and I saw a local production of The Nutcracker. It was called the Mini Nut and was geared toward kids 10 and under (it was only an hour long!). This renewed her interest in ballet. For most of the fall, Margot was uninterested in her ballet class until they started learning a choreographed dance that they practiced each week instead of just doing steps and warm-ups. Seeing The Nutcracker and the incredibly talented ballet dancers reminded Margot how much she loves ballet.

Yesterday, her class performed their dance for parents. I don't have a good video of the dance because the woman next to me kept putting her head in front of my camera lens. Instead of posting a video of someone else's head, I'll give you a few still shots of Margot dancing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Topping the tree in December 2010

She really has grown since December 2006.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Margot and Santa, 2010

Today Margot visited with Santa. She was nervous, but bravely approached him and explained the three items she wishes for at Christmas. By the end, they were laughing together like old friends.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mysteries and more

We have a mystery on our hands. Outside our front door, there are two small evergreen trees that Margot decorated for Christmas with small, silver ornaments. Every morning (and sometimes when I return from work) several of these ornaments are scattered on our front steps. The first time I thought maybe it was the wind (but it hasn't been particularly windy). This morning, the ornaments were everywhere. Something is purposefully moving the ornaments.

I think it's the neighbor's cat, but I can't be sure. I put it to Margot to figure out a way to solve the mystery. We'll see what she comes up with.

Last month, Brodie and I took a long-awaited trip to Hawaii for our 10-year wedding anniversary. It was wonderful, but so hard to go without Margot. We completed a hike, though, that was way beyond Margot's capabilities (24 miles round trip and very steep). Here are some photos:
Surfers on 20 foot waves

Part of the treacherous trail we hiked

Hotel pool at sunrise (the time difference had us rising at 4:30am most days)

This was my shower for three days while we camped

Sunset at the hotel

Finally, Thanksgiving was eventful, as we had to run Margot to the ER for severely swollen glands (they were the size of oranges). She was discharged the same day with antibiotics and has been recovering slowly (5 days later the glands have shrunk to walnut size). But we also got to visit with Tim, Maggan, Madeleine and Declan, which was a treat.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

When you wish upon a fountain...

Margot has $15 to her name (well, actually a $15 credit with me) and it is burning a hole in her pocket. We made a deal over her 5 pounds of Halloween candy: if she donated the candy to the troops in Afghanistan, I would take her to Toys R Us and buy her a toy that costs less than $15.

Can you believe the timing? On November 1, Toys R Us sent a huge holiday catalog to the house.

Margot poured over the catalog for days. She covets an Easy Bake Oven, a Jeep 4X4 that she can drive, and some giant Barbie paraphernalia. All of these things cost more than $15.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, I took M to get her Flu Mist for the season. Beneath her doctor's office is a fountain that she likes to visit. I gave her a penny for wishing. She scrunched her face, tossed the penny into the fountain, and we returned to the car.

She couldn't stand the suspense.

"Mommy, I just want to tell you what I wished for!" she said.

"You can't!" I told her. "It won't come true."

She considered this for a moment. "Well, I just want to tell you so I'll make another wish that I won't tell you about."

"Ok, what was your wish?" I asked.

"I wished that Toys R Us would lower their prices."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010 was pretty perfect, as Halloweens go. The temperature was chilly (but not freezing), it didn't rain, and there were plenty of leaves to crunch beneath our shoes as we walked from house to house. Margot began trick-or-treating with her dear friend Lucille, and then ran into a gaggle of neighbors and a classmate. The groups merged and became a tornado of candy-fueled insanity, and yet the kids still remembered to say "Trick-or-treat,"thank you," and "happy Halloween!"

I am certain that Margot's bag of candy weighs more than she did at birth.

Happy Halloween everyone! Now we are onto November, which is my second favorite month of the year (after June).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Parade

Today was the Halloween parade at Margot's school. I was so impressed with the costumes! Some of these kids (and their parents!) take Halloween very seriously.

As a recap:
Margot and her pal Ariel

Margot marching

Margot marching by

Margot and her pal Princess Leia

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Camping Aftermath

Now that I look at the camping photos, I feel I should have known Margot was coming down with something. Her eyes look a little hollow. Alas, by Sunday evening she had a low fever and a sore throat. A trip to the pediatrician on Monday revealed she was positive for strep throat.

The doc gave the ok to send her to school today if she stayed fever-free yesterday, so she’s back at school today. Getting her to take another 17 doses of grape-flavored amoxicillin is going to be a challenge, though. If that stuff tastes as badly as it smells (and Margot assures me it is, indeed, awful), we are going to run out of bribes before the 10 days are up!

I had to pay an extra $2.99 for the pharmacy to change the flavor of the medicine from "awful" to "grape-flavored and still awful." If they are going to charge for flavor, shouldn't it at least be palatable?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Camping 2010

On Saturday night we camped in Shenandoah. I think two years running means that our October camping trip can now be termed an 'annual event.' This year we eschewed 'car camping' (camping at a pre-established site, complete with a fire ring, bathrooms, and the car parked nearby) and did a proper backpacking camping trip. We carried all our food, supplies, and water about a mile and a half into the forest and set up camp alongside a stream. Margot was a real trooper on the hike and earned a virtual merit badge (I say 'virtual' because she's not an actual Scout yet).

A girl and her dog

These two really love each other. They also like to watch tv together.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chinese Princess (Editorial)

Halloween is fast-approaching. About a month ago, Margot declared that she wanted to be a Chinese princess for Halloween. She wants to wear a dress that we bought for her in Thailand a few years ago, and we picked up some matching shoes in Chinatown last weekend. That's the extent of her costume (at least in my eyes).

When I picked her up from school yesterday, her teacher asked if I would wait a few minutes to talk about something. She shooed Margot away, and the conversation went like this (imagine it fast, and slightly accusatory):

Teacher: "What is Margot planning to be for Halloween?"
Me: "She wants to be a Chinese princess."
Teacher: "What is she planning to wear?"
Me: (wondering where on earth this is going) "Uh, a dress we bought in Thailand a while back and some shoes we got in Chinatown last weekend."
Teacher: "Is she dyeing her hair black? Because that's not a costume, that's dressing as someone of another race which is not ok."
Me: (Laughing) "No, you thought I would let her dye her hair black?" (I mean, c'mon! She's five!)
Teacher: "Well, I couldn't know. She told the class she was dyeing her hair black for Halloween. I had to make sure it wasn't offensive."

This raises all kinds of issues for me. First, I feel kind of sad that it's ok for society to support Margot if she wanted to be a blond princess like Cinderella, but because she wants to emulate an Asian princess that it's not acceptable. Margot sees beauty in Asian-style clothing and wants to wear it. She's not making a mockery of the culture - she admires it! And shouldn't we encourage her to do so? She gets enough twisted messages from Disney about what is supposed to be beautiful (thin, blond, and busty come to mind). Here she is, genuinely admiring another, real, established culture, and her ideas are squashed.

Of course, she is unaware that her ideas are being squashed.

I now know she pictures herself with long black hair for Halloween, but that, obviously, is not going to happen. It never was going to happen. I'm sure she'll be walking around in her Thai dress and red shoes and no one will have any idea of what she is supposed to be. But, in her heart, she will be a beautiful Chinese princess. Some people may project their own issues with race upon her, but I assure you her intentions are innocent. And I think allowing her to dress this way for Halloween will encourage her to be a global citizen, instead of a Disney zombie.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

First Lost Tooth

And even though it seems like these teeth broke through just yesterday, one fell out this afternoon.

Margot swallowed it while eating her lunch. Oops.

Now that I think about it, those teeth came is exactly 5 years ago. I specifically remember noticing her first teeth (the two front bottom teeth) in mid-September 2005.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morning at the zoo is the very best time to go

Margot and I woke up early on Saturday morning and went to the zoo. We were there by 9am. It was the very best time to go - all of the animals (except the panda) were awake and fresh and enjoying the cool morning air. The animals were active - taking baths, climbing trees, and looking generally cute and cuddly.

The panda, however, likes to sleep in. Here he is, snoozing away at the edge of his panda habitat at 9:30am.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The early bird gets the worm

This morning Margot was up and dressed before 7am. Not to brag or anything, but M has always been a terrific sleeper. The only days she wakes early are when she is sick. Even on Christmas morning we can count on her to sleep in a bit. An early and motivated awakening is highly unusual for Margot.

But today she puttered around bright and early. She got dressed, made her bed (!), put her hair in a pony tail, and tied her sneakers. When I went downstairs at 7:10 to make her breakfast and pack her lunch, she had beat me to it. She was spreading cream cheese on an already toasted bagel. Wow.

"Oh, and mommy," she said. "There is a little science experiment in the freezer. Please don't touch it."

Curious but not alarmed, I opened the freezer. There was a plate of silver glitter glue with Hershey's syrup squeezed on top of it. I shut the door and said not a word.

I am not sure what the hypothesis is for that experiment, but I am sure I will find out this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do Unto Otters?

When I cook, Margot likes to pull a chair up to the counter behind the stove, stand on it, and watch me. Last night I made black bean soup in the crockpot (from scratch! I actually soaked dried beans. It was good, too.) and turkey burgers. Margot watched from her usual perch. While the burgers sizzled on the stove, she complained that it was too hot.

"Have you ever heard the saying, 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen?'" I asked her. She looked at me, puzzled.

"No," she said. "That doesn't even make sense."

Ok, so the idiom was over her head. I explained that it was a saying, and I told her what it meant. She seemed relieved that I wasn't telling her to literally get out of the kitchen.

"We have a saying at school," she countered after a few minutes. "Do unto otters as you want them to do unto you."

I laughed and laughed. "It's not 'otters', Margot," I told her. "It's others. Other people. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you."

"No, Mommy," she insisted. "It's otters. The book is about otters."

Alas, she gets the last laugh. I found this on an Amazon search. Clever!

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Margot's first day of Kindergarten. It went well! She was all smiles at drop off and at pick up. She did let me have it a little bit for having her wear a long-sleeved dress when it was 85 degrees, but otherwise things were great. (In my defense, NPR said this morning that it would be cloudy all day and 79 for a high. Instead, it's been sunny and 85. Oh well.)

Her teacher is uber-organized and has a lot of energy. So far, a teacher after my own heart. There is a turtle in her class named Mac. One of her good friends from preK is in her class, so she already has a pal.

I just love the beginning of a school year - clean shoes, some new clothes, crisp notebooks and folders. I wish *I* was the one going back to school this fall.

On a side note, as we left school this afternoon, Margot asked me (again) if she could wear a uniform to school. (This isn't the first time she's asked.) "I like today's outfit," she jabbered as we walked toward the car, "because of my brown shoes and white socks. I would like to wear a uniform to school. A plaid skirt, knee socks, brown leather shoes, a sweater, and a white or red shirt. I want two braids and glasses. Can I wear a uniform in high school at least?"

She really is her father's daughter - there is no doubt about it. They both like to dress the part for their activities.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation

The summer passed so very quickly this year. Margot spent six weeks at one day camp, where she swam and did crafts and learned camp-y songs and had a terrific time. Then, she spent two weeks at gymnastics camp which she kind of enjoyed but wasn't completely thrilled about. Then, she spent one week of bona fide summer down-time, with lounging, and watching cartoons, and more swimming, and eating ice cream. We just returned from a few days in Lake Anna, where Margot perfected the art of jumping off of the dock with her cousins.

Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation before kindergarten starts on Monday. I am looking forward to getting back into a school routine, but M says she is nervous about returning to school. I'm hoping those nerves turn to smiles when we go to school on Monday, but you never can tell. I'll give a full report then, of course.

Goodbye summer! I've loved every moment of you, even though you'll probably be the hottest summer on record in DC!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Long Island - 2010

Margot and I visited Tim, Maggan, Madeleine and Declan over the weekend (we saw Grandma and Grandpa, too!) I'm in a rush, so I'll let the pictures speak the 100 or so words I'd normally type as accompaniment!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Friday Night Picnic with President Lincoln

Last night we picnicked at President Lincoln's feet. It was a beautiful night for monuments - low humidity, beautiful sunset, cool temperature. We had to share the monuments with hundreds of tourists, but it made for interesting people-watching. Lots of international visitors, plenty of Americans with sensible walking shoes, and even a Buddhist monk shared the evening with us.

We started with dinner on the far side of the Lincoln Memorial and watched the sun go down over the Potomac:

Then we sat atop the Lincoln Memorial as darkness crept in:

(Doesn't this photo remind you a bit of the second photo in this post?)

Finally we reflected a bit before heading home:

Monday, August 02, 2010


Yesterday Margot and I were listening to Schoolhouse Rock's Zero my Hero, which lauds the invention of zero. Part of the lyrics include:

My hero, Zero, such a funny little hero,
But till you came along,
We counted on our fingers and toes.
Now you're here to stay
And nobody really knows
How wonderful you are.
Why we could never reach a star,
Without you, Zero, my hero,
How wonderful you are.

"Why couldn't we reach the stars without zero?" Margot asked from the backseat of the car.

"Well," I answered, "because we'd never be able to do the math it takes to fly a rocket into space." By this response, I meant that we'd never be able to figure out the physics needed to launch a projectile from the earth to a star. Big picture stuff. But I didn't say any of that out loud, because it's beyond M's comprehension (to be honest, it's beyond my comprehension, too).

"Oh! You're right!" exclaimed Margot. "Without zero, we couldn't do the countdown for a rocket! 10, 9, 8, 7...There's a zero in the number 10, after all. A rocket could never take off without a countdown."

Good point.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The List of Six

At bed tonight, Margot first confided in me that she's both excited and nervous for kindergarten. Almost in the same breath, she switched gears and told me there are six things she's really excited about:

1. Going to gymnastics camp in August
2. Our upcoming trip to Long Island
3. Going to Lake Anna with her cousins
4. Tubing in Jackson, WY, next winter (I was unaware that was on the agenda)
5. The first day of kindergarten
6. Tomorrow

The funny thing is, nothing in particular is happening tomorrow. She'll go to camp, play with friends, and go swimming. She'll probably get a popsicle at camp, and I think they have free play in the pool instead of lessons (she's a whiz at fetching those sinking toys from the bottom of the pool, apparently). But I wish I could end each day completely unable to wait for the next day to start, even when it's just going to be a regular day. We should all take a lesson from Mini!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Early this morning I awoke to vibrating and shaking. The bed buzzed, the pictures on the wall clattered, and the floors rumbled a bit. My first thought was, "Something in the basement is about to blow up!" I said aloud, "What is that?" A dazed Brodie thought a second and then mumbled, "Earthquake." And he was right. This was my first earthquake. I'm ok if it's my only earthquake.

Margot slept right through it. So did Portia. I thought dogs were supposed to sense these things! I find it funny that Portia slept through, actually, because the other night, when we had a wicked thunderstorm, she dashed up the stairs and burrowed under the covers on Margot's bed. So thunderstorms = terror but earthquakes = nonchalance in P's world.

A bit of irony: a few days ago, Margot asked me how earthquakes happen. I gave a demonstration of how the Earth's plates push on one another and how a quake happens when they shift. However, I think she was asking because she heard more about Haiti on the radio, and not because she is forecasting earthquakes. You never can tell, though.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour de France

Most wives complain that their husbands sit in front of the tv all fall/winter watching football. Mine prefers summer sports. (But I'm not complaining! I love to watch baseball, soccer, hockey, and even biking.) Currently Brodie and Margot are watching the Tour de France. While sneaking around with the video camera this morning, I caught this exchange:

I am fairly certain neither Margot nor Brodie know who Lebron James is but Alberto Contador? Here he's a household name. By the way, Brodie and Margot are currently acting out scenes from the famous bike race with her prince/princess action figures. I overheard M say something along the lines of, "Let's pretend that Lance Armstrong is winning this time."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Freedom isn't free, and clearly it's nothing to smile about.

This photo was the cover of Margot's camp's newsletter this weekend. Here is Margot during their 4th of July parade last week.