Saturday, May 31, 2008


Today was grocery day. I usually try to go by myself (anyone with toddlers knows the joys of grocery shopping with them); but, my husband thinks it's a fun family outing. So, after taking the usual precautions (pre-shopping pizza, snacks for the store, toys ...), we headed out for our adventure.

I used to praise the genius of the person who invented those toddler-sized shopping carts that make toddlers feel grown up and helpful in the store. Now, not so much. Each cherub immediately requested a cart of her own. About two aisles into shopping, Cakes started running into canned goods and into my ankles. When I told her to stop, we had an instant meltdown that continued throughout our hurried trip through the store. I carried a screaming Cakes, Bean pushed one miniature cart, and Big Daddy hunched over the other miniature cart like Magilla Gorilla.

After a while, Cakes started gagging from all her screaming, and that was when we were bum-rushed by a seemingly endless stream of elderly women, offering an hysterical Cakes everything from candy to toys to money in an effort to quell the dry heaving screams. Nothing was effective, of course, and I ended up going out to the truck with Cakes while Big Daddy stayed in the store, buying bags of lollipops (aka "suckers," to the Southerners) and Skittles for Bean, the non-screaming cherub.

I know that the "polite" thing to do when your cherubs begin shrieking in a public place is to exit that public place. But, we live in the middle of nowhere. It took us half an hour to get to the grocery store, and I'm not about to waste my time and gas money. I'm getting my groceries, darn it!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Yes, I took her in public like this. I like to encourage creativity and freedom of expression.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I love food. I love looking at food, smelling food, chewing food, swallowing food .... I love food. But, lately, I've been very bored with food. I have a ton of cookbooks (because I love cooking food), but nothing is jumping off the page at me, screaming, "Make me! Make me!"

And so, I haven't really been eating a lot these past few weeks. I nibble enough to keep myself nourished, and I manage to feed my children three meals and three snacks daily (although, it's been very boring food, and I really don't feel like making it).

So, here's the deal. I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian (loosely; I could probably better describe myself as a picky eater whose tastes most mirror those of a lacto-ovo vegetarian). Basically, I eat all veggies (except Brussel sprouts - blech!), and egg and dairy products. I also eat ground turkey breast, and boneless, skinless, veinless, connective tissue-less chicken breast if I can prepare it myself so that it meets my specifications. I'm allergic to shellfish, so I avoid seafood like the plague.

And now, I will put my blog to work for me. If anyone has some yummy, quick and easy, not too expensive ingredient-wise recipes that will release me from my current food apathy, please post some recipes or some links to recipes that conform to my pickiness!!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Being a new, small-business owner is nice, in that you can set your own hours, you can pick and choose which jobs to go for and which to pass by, and you don't have to answer to one or more bosses. But it can be rough, too. I mean, you can set your own hours, but you don't make money if you don't work. You can pick and choose jobs, but you can't guarantee that the client is going to pick you, and you have to constantly be looking for new jobs on which to bid. You don't have to answer to a boss, but you have to answer to sometimes very picky clients.

At any rate, being an owner of a new business venture, my husband works some long hours. Then, it's home to the mini-farm to help with the yard and the gardens and the cherubs. So, I like to let him rest on holidays like today. The girls don't always have the same mindset, though. So, Big Daddy will lie on the couch, trying to catch a little shut-eye, while two toddlers crawl all over him like a jungle gym.

Today, Cakes was napping, and Bean wanted a snack. So, I gave her some Goldfish (we should buy stock in Pepperidge Farm just for their Goldfish) and sent her to torture my longsuffering hubby. She was actually relatively calm at the time, and snuggled up on his sleeping frame to munch her cheesy treat.

Later, I went to check on Big Daddy. He was lying on the couch, his arm up under his head, nodding off occasionally to the Rachael Ray Show and muttering something about chili cheese fries. I knew in an instant where Bean had been sitting as she ate her afternoon snack.

Nothing like waking up with crumbled Goldfish in your armpit (note the 18-inch biceps - he's very handy when I have to lift heavy things).

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I wish I had taken my camera to lunch today. Just when I think I'm adjusting to small town life here among our population of 933 ....

My parents are here for a visit, so we wanted to go out to lunch together. There are four restaurants in town - one is a fast-food restaurant, one is a pizza delivery place, one is a family-owned Americana grill, and one is a Mexican restaurant. We opted for Americana cuisine, but found that they were closed so that they could go watch the high school girls' softball championship game. Hmmm. Okay, that's a little hokie, but whatever. On to the Mexican restaurant across the street from the high school.

Shortly into our burritos and enchiladas, we noticed people starting to line up along the street in front of the high school. Not a lot of people, but they were noticeably lined up. Then we heard a fire truck coming, sirens blaring, and the little line of people began to cheer. The fire truck turned into the high school. It was followed by a police cruiser, siren wailing. The line of people continued to cheer. At this point, I was thinking this was a pretty pitiful Memorial Day Parade. Then we saw a school bus full of high school girls' softball players, followed by cars full of parents all honking their horns and cheering. The fire company and the police were actually escorting the (I'm assuming) victorious high school softball team back to the school. And people actually lined up on the street to greet them with cheers and clapping.

Right about now, my friend Tanya, who grew up in a small town like the one where I live now, is probably wondering why I think this is so weird.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Okay, well they enjoy (or at least tolerate) it, so I guess it can't really be deemed "torment." But, there are certain things I can do to the girls that get a fun response.

Take Bean, for example. First of all, she has a really deep voice for a three-year-old girl (people are always asking us how long she's been a smoker). She's also a very intense kid. When she's involved in something, she's involved with every fiber of her being. This, of course, makes it very easy to sneak up behind her, say something like, "Boogety, boogety!" and scare the snot out of her. She will invariably jump about a foot (okay, maybe two or three inches), let out a deep, gutteral "ungh!", and then laugh and beg to be scared again.

Cakes, on the other hand, is not as much fun to scare. She's pretty even-keeled, and her reactions aren't as dramatic as Bean's (don't get me wrong, both my girls are drama queens, but Cakes provides slightly less drama than Bean does as a general rule). What I've found during the course of our gardening adventures, though, is that she has a great reaction to getting squirted with the hose during watering time. I discovered it the first time I accidentally sprayed her. In her sweet, little voice, she said a sing-songy, " 'Prayed me." And she says it every time I spray her, in the exact same, sweet, sing-songy voice. I've started giving her a quick squirt every few minutes, and I always get the same response. It's a riot!


My husband and I are both suburbanites. Our agricultural/ horticultural experience is limited to keeping our lawn green. So, now that we are actually trying to plant a garden, we are constantly amazed with how much we don't know about gardening, dirt (I mean, soil), and all those pesky critters that are out to destroy all of our hard work.

In a way, the lack of gardening experience is a good thing, because it's so amazing to us when we go outside and see, for instance, big ol' bean sprouts where there was nothing the day before. We love checking out each row for any new growth, and we feel like kids at Christmas.

But, the lack of know-how definitely has its downside. We spend a lot of time on the internet trying to figure out how to grow things, how much to water things, where to plant things so they don't cross-pollinate and taste like something else (did anyone else from the suburbs even know that could happen?!), etc. Today, we had Mr. David (remember him from My Little Doctor?) over to do up some contracts, and he helped us water our garden. Big Daddy ("If a little bit's good, a whole lot more's better") was concerned that I wasn't putting enough water on the plants. I replied, "Well, the internet said that I should water it until it until it takes three seconds for the water to absorb into the ground." This caused David to shake his head and mutter, "Yankee internet farmers ..."

Yeah, maybe, but our plants are growing!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


It's been a few days since I last blogged. This was mostly due to the screaming, fighting cherubs who, for some reason, have been especially annoyed with each other lately. In an attempt to quell the racket, I've been spending a lot of time outside with the girls. This means that I've been gardening, weeding, vacuuming the pool, running errands - pretty much anything to keep the girls distracted and busy.

I started watching a movie on IFC the other day called "A Love Song for Bobby Long." Critics gave it three out of four stars, but didn't grab my attention right away, and I ended up falling asleep towards the beginning of it. But the point of this verbal vignette is not the movie. The point is that Scarlett Johansson played a girl who was (for lack of a better word) a "trailer trash" character. Not everyone that lives in a trailer is trashy; there were subtle visual clues that gave one the "trashy" impression, such as a filthy mess of leftover food and beer cans littering her trailer while she sat on the couch in a tube top watching soap operas and smoking, occasionally running her hand through her "femme-mullett." What struck me is that my hair looked exactly the same as Scarlett's when they were trying to make her look trailer trashy. Not the look I was going for (not that I actually go for a look - I'm happy when I get time to bathe daily, but I certainly don't want a femme-mullett, even if they are supposed to be coming back in style), and I began leaving desperate voicemails for my hairdresser friend. Sensing the urgency of my hair situation, she obligingly cut my hair in her kitchen, and I feel much better about life.

I have fought a losing battle with my youngest over weaning. Yes, she's almost two and still nurses. I keep reminding myself that breastmilk is good for my child. I keep reminding myself that in other cultures (New Zealand, for example), women nurse their children until they are four or five years old. I keep reminding myself that she will not graduate high school unweaned. I keep reminding myself of this when we are in public and she thrusts her hand down my shirt, starts squeezing my ... um, my "breastfeeding equipment" and chanting in her not-so-quiet toddler voice, "Boobies, Mom! Boobies, Mom!" Any suggestions from successful weaners are welcome. Anyway, this morning, the girls were playing on my bed while I tried to catch a few more minutes of sleep. I heard Bean say, "Cakes, I have boobies." I cracked open my eyes to see Bean trying to nurse Cakes. Later, as I changed Cakes' diaper, she tried to nurse Bean. I guess my girls have a future in lactation consultation?

We planted a second garden. All together now, what is my husband's motto? "If a little bit's good, a whole lot more's better!" Hence, garden number two, full of corn, watermelons, and Big Max pumpkins. Burnie wanted to plant pumpkins for the sole purpose of making Jack-o'-Lanterns with the children in the fall. He saw the name "Big Max" on the pumpkin seed packet, and the motto kicked in. Now, we can look forward to Jack-o'-Lanterns that are six feet in diameter and weigh 100+ pounds. Maybe we'll climb into the hollowed out pumpkin and carve it from the inside out. Anyway, we planted a virtual plethra of corn and watermelons. While I was getting my "femme-mullett" removed, I wondered aloud to my hairdresser friend what we are going to do with approximately fifty, 25-35 pound watermelons and a couple hundred ears of corn. She wisely suggested piling all excess melons in the back of Burnie's pick-up truck and parking on the side of a busy road with a sign. Sounds like a plan!

Thus concludes my random thoughts and occurrences since Saturday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Bean was old enough to play soccer at the Y this year. We had to sign up with a Y in a neighboring county, because our town of 933 people doesn't have one. We do have an open field with a really old sign on it that says "Future site of Recreation Center."

But, as I was saying, Bean was old enough to play in the three-year-old soccer league at the Y. We paid the dues, got the uniform, bought the smallest shin guards ever made, and a size 3 soccer ball (who knew they came in different sizes?). I signed up to coordinate who brought snacks to each game. Bean couldn't stop talking about soccer, she was so excited. She learned the rules of the game (at this age, the two rules are "No Hands" and "Have Fun"). They played scrimmages, and Bean was thrilled and had so much fun!

Then came game time. We dressed her in her uniform, put on her little shin guards, grabbed her soccer ball and headed to the field .... where she stood on the sidelines, absolutely refusing to play. And so it was with every game. Maybe it was that so many three-year-olds were clustered around the ball, kicking little cleated feet every which way in an attempt to make contact with the coveted size 3 soccer ball. Maybe it was the cheering of all the grown-ups on the sidelines, flashing their cameras and yelling. Maybe it was the little boy that kept tackling everyone else on the field and laying on them until the coach pulled him off. Whatever the reason, Bean was not going onto that field during game time.

One game, I decided that we needed to get our money's worth this soccer season. I took to the field with Bean during the game. She seemed content to be on the field as long as I was holding her hand, so I spent the quarter dragging her around after the toddler cluster, yelling, "Kick, Bean! Kick!" whenever we got close to the ball. She would instantly freeze and shake her head vehemently.

Today was the last game of the season. Wouldn't you know it? She went onto the field for half the game, and even kicked the ball once! We went out for pizza afterwards with the team, and everyone got a trophy. I guess all she needed was the first 12 games and 14 practices to warm up for this last game.

So, maybe she's not an athlete. She sure looks cute in her uniform!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


As you can surmise from the title of this post, my husband is a snorer. Now, some snorers will stop if you roll them over, some will stop with Breathe Right Nasal Strips, some will only snore when they're sick or when their allergies are acting up. My husband, as he is well aware, is a freight train no matter how he's positioned or what he puts on or in his nose. To help me sleep through the roar, I wear earplugs and sleep with my head inches from two loud fans.

I even have a portable fan that I keep in the car just in case I get separated from my beloved green fans for the night. It wasn't always this easy, though.

When we first got married, I had an extremely hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep with the chainsaw going all night. I actually resorted to sleeping head to foot with him. So, there I was, my head at the foot of the bed, with earplugs, a box fan about half an inch from my head, and my husband's black hooded sweatshirt on, with the hood pulled up. We slept this way for ... oh, for probably the first six months of our married life. If my patient and ever-accommodating new husband wanted to cuddle with his bride, he got to do so with my feet. He also got kicked in the face quite a bit (I'm an active sleeper).

One night, I woke up to use the facilities (in other words, I had to pee). When I came back to bed, I saw my beloved lying there asleep, and I thought he looked so adorable! I was flooded with affection for him, so I walked over next to him and bent down, slowly, to give him a gentle kiss on the forehead without waking him up.

My lips were just about to make contact with my husband's cute, sleeping face when his eyes popped open. If you look at the photos in my Mother's Day post, you will see that I am not married to a small or feminine man; but, the shriek that came from my husband was the most womanly and bloodcurdling scream I have ever heard come from a grown man. At that moment, I was very happy I had just emptied my bladder.

And now for my husband's perspective. He was sleeping peacefully, when he sensed something near his face. He opened his eyes to see a figure with a big, black hood leaning over him (aka, the Angel of Death). Positive that he was on his way out, his only recourse was to ... scream like a girl? I don't know how that would have curtailed the Angel of Death, but ....

Needless to say, I no longer try to kiss my husband while he's asleep.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


So, lately my youngest, who is almost 21 months old, has been showing a keen interest in going pee-pee on the potty. I think this is mostly due to watching big sissy get praised heaped upon her little head for the slightest tinkle. Anyway, today I decided to put some big girl panties on her and see how it went. I then sat down at the computer to post my blog about our garden, and the girls played rambunctiously throughout the house.

About half an hour later, a whiny Cakes came into the kitchen and asked to be picked up. I set her on my hip and began to do some laundry, when I recognized a warm and wet sensation on my clothing. Apparently, there is a urine puddle somewhere in my house, courtesy of Cakes and her big girl panties. Where? I may never know. I've gone through the house pretty thoroughly and have yet to find it ...

Cakes is in a diaper now.


I have learned that gardening, like pretty much everything else in life, is easier without two "helpful" toddlers. I spent hours thinking of activities that would distract my children while Big Daddy and I planted; but, as far as the cherubs were concerned, none of those well-thought-out activities could compare with the joy of digging up freshly planted seeds and plants. Or with the joy of moving all of my carefully placed plant labels so that I was unsure what was planted where. Or with the joy of stripping all the leaves off of a tomato plant to see if they tasted as good as the basil and peppermint plants' leaves.

Or with the joy of dumping spadefuls of poo-dirt on each other's heads.

And, since we spent so much time in the dirt, we got to start and end the day with a bath. Fortunately, the evening bath was happily received by the kiddos, who were covered in the afore-mentioned poo-dirt, plus soaking wet from playing with the hose (another well-thought-out activity planned to divert their attention away from the garden).

So, we're waiting with baited breath for the first signs of life from our seeds, and for the first fruits (well ... veggies) of our labor to appear. In all, it was a productive (albeit lengthier than necessary) undertaking, and we're thrilled to have our garden.

Happy belated Mother's Day to me!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Yesterday was Mother's Day. Mothers all over the country were waking up to breakfast in bed. They were greeted with flowers and jewelry, hugs and kisses from adoring husbands and children. They were taken out to restaurants for all their meals, didn't lift a finger, and had a day of pampering to thank them for all the hard work they do every day of their lives. Fortunately for my beloved Big Daddy, I don't care about those things.

By the time I woke up sandwiched between my little cherubs, my husband had already eaten his cold cereal and finished up the baked ziti. He was out delivering his special, homemade meatballs to our neighbors. So, I got up, made the kids a nutritious breakfast of Goldfish and macaroni and cheese (fortified with pureed squash, a la Missy Chase Lapine's The Sneaky Chef), and put the dog out. By the time my husband came back, I was reclining in front of the tv, and the girls were playing in the kitchen. Suddenly, Bean came running into the living room saying, "Malik made a big, big mess!" (Malik is our ancient Cocker Spaniel). Sure enough, Malik had gotten into a garbage bag on the back porch, and garbage was strewn from one end of the porch to the other. I looked at the garbage, surveyed the sink full of dirty dishes from our dinner party on Saturday night, and watched as Cakes smeared Goldfish and macaroni all over the breakfast bar. That is when I decided I wanted to go out for lunch on Mother's Day.

It being Mother's Day, the restaurants were, of course, all packed to overflowing. Wait times were creeping up on two hours. Since I'm not too picky about where I eat, I opted for a nearby (and near empty) deli, where we feasted on grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches. Then, Big Daddy thought of a perfect Mother's Day gift. And we were off .... to Home Depot and Tractor Supply Company. We spent the next three hours looking at weedwhackers and rototillers, until we finally settled on purchasing some peppermint plants and a yellow tomato plant for our soon-to-be-planted garden.

I told Big Daddy that his Father's Day gift was going to be a bouquet of flowers and a waffle iron.

That night, as I picked up garbage from the back porch, washed a sink full of dishes, and wrestled the girls into their pajamas, I couldn't think of a better way to spend Mother's Day than by being with my wonderful husband ...

... and our beautiful girls.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

HORSE ... ER ... POO

We live in the country now. This means Big Daddy has some big plans for our little 7.03 acres. Most of these plans involve livestock of some sort, but that's not going to happen any time soon (or ever, if I have anything to say about it). However, one plan of his that will soon be a reality is a vegetable garden.

Those of you who know Big Daddy, know his motto - "If a little bit's good, a whole lot more's better." He applies that to, well, pretty much to every area of his life. The vegetable garden is no exception. He was ready to have half of our property plowed up. I talked him into a garden the size of our neighbor's (about 20' X 40'). We'll have plenty of room for corn (which has become somewhat of an obsession with him for some reason), and all the other peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc. that he wants to plant. We may even have room for some daisies and black-eyed susans.

So, the plants are sitting in little pots on our back porch, awaiting the tilling of the ground. Our neighbor is going to get a roto-tiller today or tomorrow for Burnie to borrow. In the meantime, Big Daddy has been gathering manure. For a while, he insisted that we travel an hour away to ride around his business partner's neighbor's pasture picking up cow pies. But, he eventually reconciled himself to going to the woods behind our house and picking up the manure our neighbor's horses have left on the trails. He has spent almost every free moment yesterday and today collecting horse poo and making a big pile behind our house.

And, of course, if a little bit of poo is good, a whole lot more poo is better.

Did you know that horses "produce" 50 pounds of manure a day? I believe it.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Today was bath day. As my friend Tanya likes to say, "Once a week, whether they need it or not!" We strive for more than once a week; but, honestly, I lose track. I'm pretty sure I bathed Cakes the day before yesterday. Bean .... hmmmm ... I know I've wiped her down with baby wipes within the past day or two ...

At any rate, we are all clean and fresh-smelling, but that's about as far as I've gotten with the morning routine so far. It is 1:41 p.m., and Bean is still naked. I managed to diaper Cakes (after, of course, she peed on the floor next to the computer). I also managed to get a nutritious lunch into them, after a breakfast that consisted of Goldfish, pretzels, and a banana.

But, I digress ... bath day. That means I spend 15 minutes lathering and rinsing two girls who are screaming at the tops of their lungs that they don't want to be in the bathtub, there's a hair in the water, the bubbles are touching them. Then, once they're clean, I start to drain the bathtub to a shrieking chorus of, "I don't want to get out!!!!"

I like to have an activity planned for immediately following bath time, just to keep the screaming at bay. Today's activity was eating baked ziti. Hindsight tells me I should not have fed two clean toddlers anything with tomato sauce. Two wet-wipe sponge baths later, and I'm hoping we can have a nap today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Over the course of my life, I've said many things that have embarrassed me, and most likely those around me as well. For example, when I was three and was introduced to a friend of my parents', instead of saying "hello," I said, "Wow! You have ENORMOUS ears!" Yes, his ears were a bit larger than average, but I probably didn't need to point that out to him. My parents were mortified (as they often are when I speak, I'm afraid).

Well, one such occasion of self-humiliation sticks out in my mind more than most (*names have been changed to protect the innocent). Keep in mind as you read this story, that I have nothing against people who are heavy. My own beloved hubby has some meat on his bones, and I love that he's got something extra to grab onto.

I went to a wonderful summer camp as a child. I was a camper there starting at age 11, I worked there in the kitchen and as a counselor as a teen and into my early 20's. I LOVE Camp Sankanac, and would like to send my own children there when they are old enough. One of the things I love about this camp is that it is not coed. For four weeks of the summer, it is all girls. That's right, no sneaking out of the cabin in the middle of the night for a make-out session with a cute boy, just hairy-legged females sleeping well and having fun.

Camp Sankanac is very family-friendly. Entire families would work there year-round or over the summer months. One particular summer I was working in the kitchen, and one of the families that worked there had a very cute (in my opinion) teenaged son named *Tim. He was working maintenance while his sister attended camp and his parents did ... well, something around camp. I wasn't sure what.

One day, I was talking with my friend *Jane. She was a counselor at camp that year. I vividly remember us sitting by the pond, chatting about this or that, when *Tim came walking over. I started acting all goofy and giggly, and being generally stupid. *Jane, in an attempt to rescue me from looking like an idiot, said to *Tim, "I was talking with *Andrea this morning."

I said, "Who's *Andrea? That big, ol', fat woman that works in the Craft Loft?" Yes, those were my exact words. I can remember them as if I uttered them five minutes ago. I'm not proud of them. And here were *Tim's exact words:

"That's my mother."


Apparently, Cakes told Bean that she had a boo-boo this morning. Enough said. Dr. Bean sprang into action. She carefully prepared the "bandage."

She explained the application process to Cakes.

She dressed the "wound."

And Nurse Cakes practiced what she had learned.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Bean is our caregiver, our nurturer, the one we are going to have to start saving to send to medical school. She loves to take care of you, whether you are sick or not. And one of her favorite things in the whole world is a bandage. She LOVES to stick bandages on people's boo-boos, real or imaginary.

Yesterday, Big Daddy's business partner was over to do some estimates. This gave Bean a new patient on which to practice her particular area of medicine. I was folding laundry when she came running into my room and said, "Come see! I gave Mr. David a Bandaid!" I followed Bean to the kitchen, where Mr. David was sitting on the floor, an overnight-sized "feminine napkin" stuck to his knee. The very obliging David walked around with the pad on his knee for several hours, removing it only after he was sure Bean wouldn't notice.


So, each day in our household begins the same way. I am asleep in bed, Cakes is asleep on my left side (having arrived some time between midnight and 1:00 a.m.), Bean is asleep on my right side (having arrived some time between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.), and the long-suffering Big Daddy is asleep on the couch, having been kicked out of bed by Bean's arrival. So, Big Daddy gets up for work, which usually wakes me up (this morning, he woke me up by taking some of my Peppermint Patties out of my diaper bag stash). Then, I lie trapped between the toddlers until they wake up, usually about an hour or two after Big Daddy has left for work.

And so, semi-rested, I begin the day with my cherubs.

Task One: get them out of their diapers and pj's. That's simple enough. They don't like being in diapers that are sagging to their knees.

Task Two: get food into them. Now, I'm not one of those mom's that believes only breakfast food may be eaten at breakfast; so, some mornings begin with cereal, some with eggs and turkey bacon, some with pizza and Cheetos. I like to give the girls some control of their breakfast choices, because that ensures they will eat at least a portion of their food.

And that brings us to Task Three: get them dressed. It's so much easier said than done. I usually target Bean first, because Cakes will more happily comply with clothing if she sees her big sissy is wearing something. So, I go into the girls' closet and get all required articles of clothing. Bean sees me coming, and the chase is on. My nudist elder child runs, laughing and screaming and completely naked, all over the house, with me in hot pursuit. When I finally catch her, it is a 15-minute ordeal of trying to corral naked, flailing limbs into leg holes and arm holes amid screams of, "I want to be naked!" That ordeal is compounded with the introduction of buttons, zippers, or strings that need to be tied (needless to say, we like clothes with elastic). I ultimately leave a fully-clothed Bean panting on the couch, watching Teletubbies, and move on to Nudist #2. The chase is not as extensive, because Cakes isn't as nimble as Bean, but getting her diapered involves both of my arms and both of my legs and, occasionally, my neck and armpits.

And that is our typical morning. We'll save toothbrushing and hairstyling for another day ....