Come, Mommy

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saturn Corporation - Pestier Than Mosquitos in July

I just had the brake calipers replaced in my car, the last of the repairs that about brought me to the brink of apoplexy last month. So now I've put roughly $1200 into my not-even-three-year-old car in the last month. Guess what's in my mailbox now? A letter from the Saturn service department listing things I need to do to insure the health and welfare of my car. My son knows how to handle these things, though:

Me: "It says we need to deodorize the air conditioning for only $299. What say you, Zeph?"

Zeph: "I say I think not. NOOOOO!"

Me: "I agree. What about the complete detailing and paint finishing to protect the beauty and luster of the car's paint? It's only $399."

Zeph: "NOOO! NOOOO! I think 100 pounds-degrees is good."

(Zeph has his temperatures and British currency mixed up, evidently.)

Me: "Well, then. Should we have the upholstery cleaned, deodorized, and sanitized? $249?"


So there you have it, Saturn marketing geniuses. Even my toddler knows junk advertising when he sees it. I will give you something, though. Your flyers, when properly folded, make excellent origami tunnels for Matchbox cars.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Jeremy 8/2002-7/26/2006

We took Jeremy in for his adrenalectomy on Wednesday. The surgery went off without a hitch, he was recovering nicely, and we were planning to bring him home yesterday. Then, during the wee hours of Thursday morning, he began seizing, and he passed away a short while later. We are in shock, and so is our vet. Adrenalectomy is major surgery, but it is also a very common procedure, and most young ferrets do very well and go on to live long and healthy lives afterwards. Our vet is going to do an autopsy in an attempt to find some answers. His thinking is that Jeremy probably threw a clot, but whatever he finds, I will update to let everyone know.

Jeremy came into our lives as a 6-week-old kit back in 2002. He came into a local pet store with his sister, Snowdrop. They were both badly infected with Giardia, which causes life-threatening GI problems in baby ferrets. The pet store owner asked if we could care for them. We took them in and began intensive nursing care. Snowdrop was too sick and too small to make it, but Jeremy improved very quickly, and by the time he was well, he was a member of our family, so there he stayed. He was a cream-puff, a very gentle soul who always followed us around and wanted to be in on any and every activity. He and Bobo were the ones who would show up when a then baby Liam was crying, and they were also the two who commandeered all receiving blankets as their own personal bedding. Jeremy was Liam's favorite ferret, which makes this all the harder. (By the way, Liam took the picture above. The lack of focus has less to do with the skill of the photographer than it does with the fact that Jeremy had to have

I am shocked and angry and sad. I'm also just plain exhausted and touchy about everything due to reasons I will blog about later, but Jeremy's death is a huge shock no matter what else is going on. I wish I knew what happened, but mostly I just want Jeremy back. He was too young and too healthy for this to happen. Today, I am angry at the fates and the heavens.

We miss you, Jeremy. We wish you happy travels across the Rainbow Bridge. And when you cross, find Beau and do the Weasel War Dance and have fun. The Ferretone's on us.

Updated 7/31/2006:

I really love all of you for a the kind thoughts that have come our way since Jeremy passed away last week. It's been a tough few days, and we appreciate all the concern everyone has shown.

Our vet called this afternoon with the results of Jeremy's autopsy. It turns out the sometime, probably in the last year or so, Jeremy suffered a small heart attack, and a small section of his left ventricle was damaged. It was small enough area that it didn't show up during his cardiac work-up. However it was big enough that the small clot he threw after surgery proved fatal. None of this makes me feel any better about his death, but at least we have a concrete answer, and we also know that surgery or not, his days were numbered. He was a terrific ferret, and we were lucky to have him bless our lives.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In Which C and A Meet Zeph

We've mostly recovered from our Chicago adventure. I think all three of us got pretty worn out, and today was the first day that life has felt normal. So with that, Kevin returned to work, and Zeph and I had another fun blogger playdate.

It was our privilege to meet the lovely Chichimama and her youngsters, C and A. What a beautiful and fun family! I'm not sure A thought we are such fun people given that we have an overly friendly big dog, but after we sent Casey outside A seemed reassured and made herself at home. (Don't worry, A, you're not the only little girl who feels this way about Casey.) We played for a bit and then took a walk down the street to a local farm. C is quite the charming young man. He helped me push Zeph's stroller the whole way, stopping to pick up sticks that might otherwise have caught up in the stroller wheels, and we had quite the discussion of trash compaction in garbage trucks.

At the farm, the kids watched the turkeys for a few minutes, and then the plan was to pick corn and peaches. Upon arrival at the main building, however, the kids spied the farm's playground and the idea of picking went out the window. So we ended up buying some produce and then letting the kids go at the playground. Zeph was still a bit worn out from our trip, and had been up since 4:00 AM with teething, so he was content to eat crackers and sit in his stroller while C and A played.

Chichimama and I got to visit for a bit, and she is every bit as sweet and smart as you might expect from reading her blog. We mentioned some mutual blogfriends and lamented the fact that extended adult conversations aren't possible while chasing kiddos. We talked about how sad it is to see farms sold to developers, and how rough the Manhattan commute can be. After realizing it was getting late, we rounded up the kids and headed back to the house. We stopped again to see the turkeys, and I noticed C and A squatting right together watching the birds like two peas in a pod. C was obviously showing something to A, and she was all ears. After we walked back to our house, the Chichimama crew went on home. Not, I might add, without argument from all three kids. They were mostly placated with the promise of a future playdate. I can't wait to meet up again, and neither can my son.

I'm going to string together comments from Zeph (call him Liam and risk a tantrum) to give you the high points of the visit:

"C and A and their Mommy came to our house today. Casey scared A. He's big and black and sneezes. Big and little sneezes. We all played and left toys all over. C's name is C but A's name is NOT A. She is named Bernadette."

"A did something! She climbed all the way to the top of the monkey bars! So did C! And he slid down the slide."

"C likes trash trucks. He also picks up sticks to protect me from the bumps. C is very helpful."

"C and A had to go somewhere. They had to go home to eat their corncobs. They have a truck!!!! It's an SUV!!!"

"Zeph wants C and A to come back. Yeah, that's the plan. They will come back soon and we can play some more. That's the plan...YEAH!!!"

I agree, Zeph. It was a fun morning, and hopefully we'll be able to do another playdate soon. Thanks for the great time, Chichimama family!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Meet Zeph

This morning at the jet museum Liam climbed the farm equipment and was all over the 727 again. We also took a tour of the Pioneer Zephyr, the streamlined train that broke the Denver to Chicago record right before the Chicago World's Fair. It turns out that this train had a mascot, a burro named "Zeph." As you might imagine would happen, Liam is not Liam anymore. He is not Baby Duck. He is not Little Toad. He is Zeph, a little brown donkey who likes to eat macaroni and cheese for dinner. (Zeph's biography and species have been embellished over the course of the day.)

"Heavens to Murgatwoyd! Zeph didn't realize that Mommy Zeph could have a nice lady bring lunch to the room!"

"Zeph is very hungry after riding to Chicago. Also, maybe he likes chocolate muffins.Zeph is doing something! He is eating a muffin!"

"Zeph likes Chicago. But he wants to go home and see Zeph's doggie and Zeph's ferrets. Yup, that's the plan. Zeph wants to go home. It's no problem. Really!"

And so ends the Chicago excursion. Tomorrow we go back to New Jersey, trading the lake breeze for the sea breeze, and the heat and humidity for, well, more heat and humidity. It was a fun trip, but we're all a bit worn out, so it'll be good to go home and get back to normal. Or, at any rate, what constitutes normal in the Menagerie House.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nightlife in Chicago, Family Style

So, did any of you bet on 25 minutes? If so, you are the lucky winners of the "Guess How Long Liam Wanted to Stay at the Shedd Aquarium Sweepstakes! The twist in the plot, however, is that Liam did not want to go back to the jet museum at the point when the aquarium got old. Instead, he wanted to go back to the hotel. It's been a lot of activity for one very small boy, so we stayed at the hotel today, and by 4:00 or so, the "I want to go back to the jet museum. Now!" campaign was reinstated. So, any guesses as to where we're going tomorrow?

But tired or not, we all had a fun night on the town:


"Daddy's doing something, no, Daddy can't touch my rocket ship. It has to bwast off first! Noooo!"

"I'm planning on carrying my new shoes all the way back to the hotel. That's the plan. It's no problem, really! Eh, this bag is doing something. It's doing something! It's twipping me!"

(We bought Liam new shoes as his sandals were all of a sudden too small. I swear they fit well just last week. And the absurdity of this is that we have two Nordstrom's within a 15 mile radius of our house, but we had to go all the way to Chicago to buy the kiddo new shoes. Huh.)

Aren't these two just the cutest things you've every seen?


Tomorrow's post will surely feature more pictures from the jet museum. That's the plan. It's no problem, really!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot Time in the City

Yowza, was it hot in Chicago yesterday. The heat index was something like 114o at the lakeshore. Accordingly, Liam and I stayed inside at the Museum of Science and Industry. There is a lot to see there, but hands down, the farm equipment and the planes are Liam's favorite things. The Farm features real John Deere equipment including a tractor and a combine, while the Take Flight section has a retired United 727 hung from the ceiling for visitors to explore.

"Mommy! I found the keys! Now I can turn on the loud combine harvester!!!"

"Real tractors are loud and also very really big! I dropped my keys here on the ground. I'm going to find them and then drive the tractor, that's the plan. It's no problem, really. Yup, that's the plan!

"We're in the jumbo jet! Oh no! I forgot to tell the pilot to turn on the engines! I'm going to phone him and tell him to turn them on. That's the plan, actually."

"Hi, Mr. Pilot? I climbed the combine harvester and the tractor and now I need you to turn on the engines! Thanks! Bye-bye!"

"The jet and tractor museum is really very cool and also they have really very big chocolate muffins."

"I'm tired!"

The museum was such a big hit that we ended up there again today. We started out at Lincoln Park Zoo. We visited the seals and the lions, which amused Liam for brief periods. Longer periods were taken up with him repeating, "I want to go back to the jet and chocolate muffin museum. Now!" It quickly became clear that our zoo visit was doomed; we grabbed a cab and went back to the Museum of Science and Industry, where we visited the jet and the farm equipment again. Tomorrow we are going to visit the Shedd Aquarium. That's the plan, actually.

Anyone want to take bets on whether we actually stay there?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Board That Plane and Off We Go

Going to Chicago,
and a bye-bye.

Going to Chicago,
Liza Jane!

'Scuse my mangling of lyrics from one of Pete Seeger's famous recordings. We're out of here tomorrow for a six day trip to Chicago. Kevin will be attending a conference, and Liam and I have various fun things planned. Now including John Deere equipment!

I may or may not post during the trip, but I either way I solemnly promise to bore all of you with vacation stories. Photos included, just for Gran-Gran!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Outfit Makes the Man

The toddler fashion trend of the week:

What makes this look is the combination of the pink tie-dyed shirt and red Crocs...

accessorized with the sunglasses holder Liam fashioned out of some curling ribbon.

Thanks for the photo-op, Gran-Gran!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The English Language is a Strange Beast

This morning:

Liam: "Hic...hic...hic."

Liam: "Mommy! I have hiccups."

Liam: "Mommy! Listen! I'm hiccing up!"

Later today:

Liam was making some strange sound or other. The strange sound was then replaced by moans of frustration...

Liam: "Mommy! Come here! Waaaaaaahhhhhhh!"

Me: "What's the matter, honey?"

Liam: "I have a problem. A big problem, actually. Yup, I have a big problem. Waaah!"

Me: "Oh?"

Liam: "Mommy! I don't know how to hicc-down. I just don't know how. Waaaah!

Um, son, I'd teach you, but I'm not sure how to hicc-down myself.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Nothing Runs Like a Deere

As a child, I lived for five years in the town that is home to the John Deere Company. The annual field trip to corporate headquarters was the highlight of the school year. We would spend the morning climbing farm equipment, and we always left in high spirits, each one of us clutching a toy tractor to take home.

Apparently the company's branding strategy was well-planned, since about a year ago I bought Liam his first Deere toys. I hadn't quite realized how many I purchased for him until I found this line-up in the toy room yesterday:

Trust me, this is only part of the collection. I think there's an addictive process ongoing here. Oh well, it's all fun for now, as long as neither one of us decides to redecorate the house. Or our heads.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Weekend With Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop

Liam's grandparents came up fom Texas this week to visit. Liam has had hours of Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop time, and he is thrilled. I have had lots of downtime, and I am thrilled. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

Some Liam quotes from the weekend:

"Gran-Gran shares my trucks very well. Pop-Pop makes them do goofy turns and crash."

"Pop-Pop is old. That's because he has no hair. Yup. That's why he's old."

"I told Gran-Gran to be careful with Miss Houdini. She can be nippy. That means she bites, actually."

"Pop-Pop is Daddy's daddy, and Gran-Gran is Mommy's mommy."

"Gran-Gran is cuddly. Pop-Pop is fun. But he pushes my tricycle too fast."

And finally...

"I really, really, very want Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop to come back. Now!"

Hear that, Mom and Dad? You are simply not allowed to go back to Texas...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Attention Ferret Lovers

I just noticed something. Today's Animal of the Day is the European polecat. But here's the picture that goes with that description:

Am I missing something, or are these two cuties in fact domestic ferrets and not their wild cousins? I'm thinking the European polecat looks more like this. Anybody know for sure?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Only Weather Geeks Would Find This Interesting..

Hi, it's me again, your friendly neighborhood weather nerd. I just was perusing the Storm Prediction Center's website, and I found this fascinating radar loop. It got my attention since it involves a tornado-spawning supercell thunderstorm. It also involves bats, so the small-fuzzy-critter-lover in me is fascinated with this.

It seems that last spring meteorologists saw a supercell overtake a swarm (flock, herd??) of bats that were exiting their cave home in south-central Texas, and they caught it on a radar loop. I'm not at all happy for the bats, since I suspect a number of them never made it home that night. But still, that so many of these tiny creatures could create a large radar echo is pretty neat. Nature is quite impressive.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Ice Cream Truck

Until last night, Liam had never seen an ice cream truck. They are around our town. I hear them from time to time, but have yet to see one in our neighborhood. Kevin and I have been thankful about this, since ice cream trucks seem to have this tendency to show up at dinner time, and we're not really looking for another source of friction during the time of day when everyone's moods tend towards the cranky and tired.

Last night, we were at the park. It was hot and sticky, we'd had a fine time playing, and we were resting on the grass thinking about heading home. At that moment an ice cream truck pulled into the parking lot. Kevin groaned, then apparently thought about the heat, and asked me, "What do you think?"

Liam was all excited at the new concept of a truck playing music. Two of his favorite things, music and motor vehicles, all in one. Then two little boys ran past us yelling, "Ice cream!" He looked quite confused at this development.

A couple of girls ran by yelling, "Ice cream!" Apparently realizing that this exciting new kind of truck not only had music but just might have something to do with his third favorite thing, ice cream, Liam started towards the truck. He then stopped with his hand in his mouth mumbling something about the truck being very loud and something else about what ice cream where.

Then ten or twelve little kids ran towards the truck yelling, "Ice cream." I looked at Kevin and said, "The cat's out of the bag at this point. Let's buy him some ice cream." Kevin opened his wallet.

Liam continued to stare, entranced, at the truck. The truck was a vision of rust, mud, and ice cream ads. The engine was not running well, which is why it was so loud. Kids were pouring out of the woodwork to run towards this rather scary-looking vehicle, and Liam was as confused as I've ever seen him. I'm fairly sure he was having a mental argument along the lines of, "A Truck! With Music! I must go see this. But! It's loud. Too loud. Scary loud. I should stay here. But the kids are running over to it. Maybe I should follow. And what's with the ice cream? Ice cream comes from restaurants, not trucks. There can't be ice cream in that truck. Or could there be? Maybe? I should see for myself. But it's loud. But I love ice cream. Oh, what to do? What to do????"

Kevin handed me some money, I picked up Liam, and asked him if he wanted to buy ice cream from the truck. He looked ever so confused, but allowed as to how he would like some ice cream. We joined the line. (Then I was confused myself since I had never before realized ice cream is available in so many character shapes. I was relieved to find that the old-fashioned Dixie cup of ice cream is indeed alive and well.) We ordered, Liam handed the vendor our money, and we all sat down on some picnic benches to eat the ice cream.

The sun was going down as Liam wiped the last bit of dribbly chocolate on his sleeve, and we headed home. We may have started a bad habit here, and I don't really care. The amazement on my son's face as he figured out what the ice cream truck is all about was worth it. As was the delicious stickiness on his cheeks when I kissed him. Years from now when Liam is grown, this evening will be one those precious memories I hold dear to my heart.

When Daddy Says No, He Means It

I was writing a grocery list yesterday. I asked if anyone wanted blueberries. Liam and Kevin said "Yes!" to that. I asked if we needed cereal, and Kevin said, "No, no cereal." Upon investigation in the kitchen cabinets, I found that we did indeed need some cereal.

I came home from the store and put some grocery bags in the front hall. Liam started looking through them immediately, and I left him there to explore while I brought the rest of bags in from the car. Bringing in the next set of bags, I opened the door, and there stood my son clutching a box of cereal in his hands and looking very, very worried. I got down on my knees, hugged him, and said, "Honey, what's wrong?"

"Mommy....Daddy said NO CEREAL!"

It took several minutes of reassurance from Kevin to calm the poor kid down. Evidently Daddy is quite scary.