Thursday, March 29, 2007

good mom/bad mom day

gus is back from texas! he and rich got in late last night and it sounds like they had a blast. i am putting together all of rich's pictures for a new post hopefully by tomorrow. he (gus) was sad to leave little man, but he brought home like 100 pictures of him so he is okay. i'm so happy to have my other baby back!

today is kind of a good mom/bad mom day. for example, i cooked gus a hot breakfast (good mom):

however i baked pop-n-serve orange rolls (bad mom--but sophie and i ate most of them, so i guess it is bad mom times 2).

i encouraged gus and sophie to play together (good mom):

however i let a 7 year old carry a 10 month old over the bricks (bad mom) and

i let them roll around on the kitchen floor rug pad while the rug is getting cleaned (bad mom) and

i let him use sophie's playpen as an indy car stand-in, with sophie in it (bad mom)

for a while

i think they are still at it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: gus has his own horse!

gus riding "little man" while thing 1 or thing 2 looks on warily

the previous owners of this house did keep horses in the backyard, but fortunately (for me) little man will continue to live in texas with his friends. i know gus is sad about this. look how well he is doing!

sophie and the easter bunny

there really isn't much more i can add, except that i kinda felt the same way about this bunny. i told y'all i was a mean mom! the really funny part is that EVERY single kid had the same exact reaction to it. poor sophie!

Monday, March 26, 2007

new pets for the allen family?

oh my.

this appeared on my cell phone yesterday. horrifying color saturation aside, the thought of keeping a goat is just plain scary for me. someone in the valley would steal it for cabrito, anyway. they do look like they are having fun in texas!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

rich and gus' excellent adventure

my parent's pets (photo by gus, two years ago)

i singed all the hair off of my forearm this morning trying to make my tea--i friggin' love that stove!

rich and gus left early this morning for texas--they are driving to my parent's ranch in washington-on-the-brazos to go ride horses and stare at the longhorns for a couple of days. the longhorns actually stare back. and poop. and eat. and that's about it (they are what is technically called a "vanity herd," because you can't eat them or do anything with them really but stare at them). rich is excited to go because he is taking a detour through el paso on the way there to go to the lucchese outlet. i'm just hoping gus doesn't end up with a pair of luccheses at age 7...that might ruin him for other boots! so, danger girl (aka "sophie," "astrid," "sopaipilla," "miss fussy britches," "mommy's little swiffer," etc.) and i are holding down the fort on our own. sweet.

we have had so very much rain recently, and everything is green in the desert! take a look at these lovely trees that are blooming like crazy in my front and back yards:


another apricot?



this is a new mexico plum (it makes yellow fruit)

as is this

and this

and this

this is a mexican plum that is, sadly, dying but has amazing fruit

and my apple trees haven't even started to bloom yet! granted it isn't quite iowa spring, but really, what is?

Friday, March 23, 2007

i love this stove!

if i were feeling really crass, i would quote dickie greenleaf and his icebox sentiment (go watch "the talented mr. ripley" if you need a hint)...but seriously, i love this stove! the old one always gave a pause, a really loud WHOOOOSH then a shudder when we lit it--it was exhilarating, but not in a good way. my water boiled in 3 minutes; i was drinking my tea in 10, which is a record. LG can design a beautiful product!

my new awesome stove

look how massive that flame is under my teakettle!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

gus' 7th birthday party

gus being silly

i think i can say, without a doubt, that this year was gus' best birthday party yet! we had 10 absolutely crazy, over-sugared, extremely loud and totally hyperactive kids running around the backyard and through the house for two hours last saturday. the noise was impressive--but they were all happy noises so it was okay. no injuries; nothing got broken that couldn't be fixed (two sprinklers in the backyard bit the dust). the theme of the party was "american idol" and we got gus and a couple of the other boys to perform for us. gus sang "baby you're a rich man" by the beatles, george sang "you're beautiful" by james blunt, and cole sang "lime in the coconut" by harry nilsson. it was fun. thank you so much to everyone who sent birthday cards and gifts to gus--he loved all the attention and had a remarkably good day!

the moms, of course, congregated in the kitchen (i provided beer)

rich, single-handedly, trying to get the cd player to work

george singing "you're beautiful"

gus singing "baby you're a rich man"

me and sophie

mmm, cake

these kids are trying so hard to be patient

erika and valerie

back outside for some craziness

and more craziness

juliet takes a mighty swing at the piñata

scramble for the goodies!

i am so wiped out by the time it is over...

Friday, March 16, 2007


my boy is the big 7 today! happy birthday gus!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ahhhh, iowa...

there are things i do miss about iowa--when all the bulbs and flowering trees are starting to come out; taking a walk outside for the first time since the previous summer without getting a migraine from the cold; the cheap and readily available organic beef. and there are things i do not miss--the winters (obviously) and getting inundated with crap like this on a weekly basis:
(click to enlarge)

this lovely letter was written (by me) to answer that one:
"March 14, 2007

Jeni Lewis
Cashier’s Office
5 Calvin Hall
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242-1316

RE: Acct. 180758 ($60.12)

Dear Ms. Lewis:

I received your letter dated March 9, 2007 stating that my Iowa tax refund was being held by you for alleged delinquent accounts. I would like to formally appeal this action.

I received a bill from you in September notifying me that charges had been made to my UBill during the month of July; my wife called your office at that time (and again in November when I received another notice) to let you know that I was not even residing in the state during the month of July and could not have made the alleged charges. I can only imagine that someone pretended to be me and used my old hospital badge after I had relinquished it (it was returned on June 30, 2006 to the administrative offices). Perhaps someone should check and see if my keys have been misused as well.

I absolutely and completely refute these charges and strongly request that you release my Iowa tax refund of $358.00 immediately. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further service to you in this matter.

Richard C. Allen"

we used to get notices about once a month firmly explaining why the garbageman had not picked up our weekly garbage, which forced us to live with rotting chicken skin and the like for another week (we developed a bit of a raccoon problem over this). the reasons usually fell into three categories: your garbage can is too big, your bag is too big, or my favorite, "i see some lawn waste in there so i'm not going to pick it up." we were only allowed two medium-ish bags of garbage per week by the city--this is a great way to force people to recycle, which they should be doing anyway--so when they skipped you it was actually kind of a big deal. fortunately we lived near the university and found many a vacant dumpster that gladly accepted our refused refuse. i so wish i had kept those notices now--i wonder if the city would send me some to post here?

Monday, March 12, 2007

separated at birth?

i'm not sure what kind of look rich is going for right now with his hair as it is, but this can't be a good road to go down.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! she is in washington-on-the-brazos now, sick with the flu. but she will be here in the land of enchantment next week--get better soon! we love you!!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

monster trucks, revisited

notice how my hair matches my belt? that, sadly, is a coincidence. rich came up with all sorts of pseudowitty petty humiliations for my hair color: "isn't your hair supposed to match your belt? no wait, that's your shoes...or is it your purse?" assclown.

gus and i went to go see bigfoot at rich ford this weekend, and gus was fairly frightened. i don't blame him--the aisle the guy drove through was like 20 feet wide and, aside from being deafeningly loud, the driver seemed a bit overeager to show off how he could almost tip the truck for the entertainment of us gawkers. gus kept backing away from the security tape...just a little more...and a little more... the driver only made two passes to smush the junker cars, but that was enough excitement for us--gus looked mighty relieved when it was over, exactly like his first experience seeing a monster truck at zangara dodge (across the street from rich ford) in 2004. watch the movie here.

gus pretending to have fun

after the engine turned on this his hands were glued to his ears (and if i had half a clue, i would have brought earplugs)

i thought it was kinda cool, though

"thank god that's over! where's the bouncy house?"

i'm sure gus is thinking "is this going to fall on me? am i going to die?" the whole time is was taking this shot...i am a very mean mom.

Friday, March 2, 2007

gus update

i have been reluctant to write this (because i didn't want to tempt fate) but i think i can now say that gus is beginning to get better. he has improved a good deal--he isn't as anxious or obsessive as he was a month ago. he still worries about germs, bacteria, big unlikely diseases (like tetnus, diabetes--thngs he does not have) and the bathroom completely freaks him out (if he could wear a biohazard bodysuit every time he goes in there he'd be fine), but he isn't asking me a hundred times if he is going to die because of whatever. now it is more like he asks once, maybe twice, and it is usually for a more logical reason (like he touched the bottom of his shoe and put his hand in his mouth, etc.) rather than i saw a poisonous plant and i think i walked too close to it therefore i am going to die a horrible death. he isn't checking things as much either, like checking twenty times to make sure he didn't eat the poisonous that is good, too. he isn't in the clear, but he is better.

i think his antibodies may be beginning to die off--at least that is my understanding of the mechanism (via rich) causing this. as the antibodies die off the swelling in his basal ganglia will go down and the symptoms will hopefully recede completely. until the next bout of strep. (for anyone interested, this is an excellent article on PANDAS from the journal Pediatrics.)

it has been rough for everyone, especially gus. and it has been really hard on me because i have been watching my son struggle with a mental illness he probably would not have ever had (at least not in that intensity) and because however i tried to help him it tended to make things worse--if i reassured him constantly that he wasn't going to die because he smelled a funny smell or whatever then he continued to worry about things because i could reassure him. if i didn't reassure him he started to panic. he really involved me in his compulsions, but what the hell can you do? i'm not going to abandon him, but at the same time i had to figure out how to get him to tell himself that he was okay. i don't think i succeeded at teaching him anything about any of this; he is getting better on his own both biologically and psychologically. but, my god, the kid is only six--he has had to develop a ton of reasoning and logic skills that six year olds just normally don't have. gus has always been an exceptional kid in that area (he usually seems older than he actually is), so i think he is better equipped to handle some of these symptoms than the average six year old (or thirty-eight year old) is anyway.

i don't really know where we go from here--gus has seen his pediatrician a ton; he was going to a behavioural psychologist but i just ended that relationship a couple of days ago (and with good cause: aside from the pace being glacial, she was quite rude--she kicked us out of our first session with her because sophie was too fussy--and told me we had to make a commitment to her time if we needed her help again! yes it was all about her...forget about gus...i hate harvard grads). he was scheduled to start seeing a pediatric neurologist, complete with a sedated MRI, but i cancelled that as well because honestly what can they do? tell me that a part of his brain is affected? i already know that--neurosurgery is not even a consideration and isn't indicated for this anyway. (the pediatrician was all for cancelling the neurologist as well--i'm not denying gus care.) now he is scheduled to start seeing a developmental psychiatrist who specializes in children's mental health. i don't know if that is the answer either but it is what i am currently looking at. (rich has not wanted to be involved in these decisions, which is why i am writing in the first person singular. this has been a MAJOR point of contention between us, but we are trying to resolve it.)

this experience has sucked most massively and continues to (just not as badly as before). i will keep you posted. as an aside, the almost 7 year old gus wishes to remind everyone that his birthday is mighty close at hand--march 16th! we are already beginning to celebrate.

sorry, no pictures today.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

never trust an overeager aesthetician

i was a willing participant in an event last night, and now my hair is red. like glowing red. sophie keeps looking at me like i am some stranger trying to kidnap her; gus thinks it would have been better blue. he may be right. the worst part about this, aside from the fact that my hair is very long and this will probably take years to grow out, is that now i look even less like gus or sophie. details to come.

pictures of my beautiful, non-peroxided children to follow.

sophie eating her bananas

this was probably the last time she played in her playpen willingly--she is crawling all over the house now!

me and gus a few weeks ago, back when my hair was still a color found in nature