Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We finally got our gate fixed a few weeks ago, so Robbie is able to play outside with the cats and dog. Everyone is thrilled to be out of the confines of the condo, especially Robbie. I didn't realize how much Robbie liked it until we were on our way home from the gym today. From the back seat, I heard a little voice say, "Pay, Mama. Pay."

Now, a novice mother would have perhaps thought her son was offering cash for all the services she had provided - chef, chauffeur, therapist. However, I am no novice. I knew there was no way my child was at all aware of all I have done for him over the past 22 months and 3 days, much less having any concept of cash.

But, I digress... Being familiar with Robbie's pronunciation patterns, particularly when he shouts "Pane!" whenever he sees a plane, I figured Robbie actually wanted to play. And I was right. As soon as we got home, Rob ran to the back door, throwing a haphazard wave toward his father. He got to the door, looked at me, and said, "Pay! Pease!" as he tried to open the door. He managed to let me carry him down the stairs, but, once he got to the porch, he was on his own.

He ran around the yard like a manic, racing up and down the stairs and around the table. He threw balls to the dog. He poured an entire Diet Coke into a bowl on his pretend grill and then swept it all over the place. He swept up yard debris. He rearranged chairs. And then he crashed, barely making it through dinner.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time to Eat!

Apparently, I don't feed my child enough. You know, between breakfast, lunch, and graham crackers at church, I had some other things going on. This was unacceptable to Robert Manna. He came down from his nap raring to go, making rounds of the downstairs, checking to see that everything was just as he left it.

I was making the filling for a pie while he did this, and Rob came into the kitchen and stopped for a few minutes. He looked at me and shook his head. Then, the child went to the kitchen drawer (we actually only have one), opened it, got out his fork, closed the drawer, walked over to me (fork held high), and proclaimed, "Eat!"

Well. Of course. When you put it that way, how can I say no? After wrangling a "please" from the cherub's lips, I found the only kid-friendly thing left in the house. Peanut butter. And Rob happily walked away, licking it off his fork.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Family Time

We were the epitome of class today. Justin and I took Robbie to Suffolk Downs. For those of you not familiar with the Downs, let me tell you it's a cultural experience. Now, I come from Kentucky, and, until we moved to Boston, the only race track I'd been to was Keeneland.

Keeneland is everything racing should be. The place is always packed; the grounds and staff are impeccably kept. The horses are fast and the races intense. Standing at the fence as they come down the stretch at Keeneland is an experience everyone should have.

Suffolk Downs is the exact opposite. There wasn't even anyone collecting admission when we got there, so we walked right in. I wheeled the stroller through the Keno machines and simulcast monitors, swerving around people who hadn't showered in a few days and needed to get their racing fix. Outside, regulars had their own lawn chairs set up. Men wander around without shirts. The favorites always win at Suffolk Downs. They're the horses that are just shy of looking emaciated.

So why do we go? Did you just read the paragraph above? We go for the culture. OK, OK. We actually needed to cash my ticket from the Derby (I won $109.50!) and figured we'd have a free day at the track. Plus, the planes landing at Logan come in right over the course, and, as Robbie is in a plane phase, that seemed like a good idea. Actually, it was just a convenient excuse.

There's a playground and we thought it might keep Robbie occupied while we looked at the program. He liked it, but the whole thing terrified me. It. Was. A. Death. Trap. The slide looked like some sort of tongue, with no sides. I probably would have fallen off, never mind my 22-month-old son. Fortunately, all our efforts paid off. We left after cashing in on a trifecta. After being down $48, we walked away up $41.

From Suffolk Downs, we thought it best to continue with our family adventure by going to Chuck E. Cheese. I'm not even sure where to begin. The entire way there, Robbie told us he was hungry and wanted to eat. All we heard was, "Hungry. Hungry. Hoon-gree. Eat, please. Eat. Eat." But, once he saw the games and lights and other kids, it was, pun intended, game over. He did not want to sit down and eat. He did not want to drink anything. He just wanted to run. This became problematic when our food actually did come, and I had to eat with a struggling toddler in my arms. We managed to survive the meal without much trouble.

At home, it was time for some yard work. Continuing with our classy streak, Robbie had to be stripped down before he was allowed to enter the house. He sat in mud puddles, shoveled mud in his mouth, and did his best to scrub down his toys. He picked up leaves and swept dirt. The only way to deal with the mess was to strip him down. He got to the door, naked, looked at me, and said, "Bath, Mama. Bath." And took off up the stairs faster than I've seen him move in a while.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yard Work

Our yard is a disaster. Epically so. With rain nearly every day for a month, all the stupid helicopter seed pods are stuck to the ground. I figured a Thursday night would be a great time to try to uncover everything. For the first time this year, I was able to be in the yard with Robbie, the dog, and the cats without worrying that someone would slip through the broken gate and out into the street.

Although I did get some things done, Rob made progression extremely difficult. Every time I picked up the broom, he wanted to sweep. When I grabbed the rake? He wanted the same rake. Even though there was an identical rake right next to me. We went back and forth ten, eleven times before he figured out a more fun game.

Last year, a friend from work gave me two mini lawn chairs for Robbie to use. This afternoon, Rob uncovered them. He sat on both of them together. He moved them around the yard, changing from one to the other, lounging while he watched me pull weeds.

I'm starting to realize how different this summer will be than last. Robbie can play and entertain himself. He doesn't just have to watch other kids have fun. I think that once the yard is picked up, we're in for hours of fun. And I, for one, can't wait!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three Scares

Every time we go somewhere, my stepdad tells us he gets three scares. Apparently, Robbie got the message from Pops loud and clear today. Fortunately, he only gave me two scares instead of three. I'm not sure I could have taken the third.

After we got home from the gym, Robbie, Barkley, and I started off for a walk around the block. We stopped to talk to our next-door-neighbor who was out doing yard work. Within minutes, Robbie had run down the street back towards our house. And then he was headed for the street. Now, we live right across the street from a grocery store, so things get pretty busy. I dropped the leash and my phone and dashed after him. I'm not sure what scared Robbie more - the fact that I was so upset he'd been out in the street or that a stranger was holding his dog's leash.

We recovered from the event nicely, having dinner and bath time and reading some books. Then it was time for a little Elmo. It started off simply enough, but then Robbie reached for the cat who was jumping off the bed. And followed him. Even though he's big enough that slipping off the bed isn't a big deal, it's still a decent way to the ground. I couldn't tell you the last time I jumped off the bed that fast. He was up and cuddled in my arms in seconds. Within a minute, he popped his head off my shoulder, smiled at Justin and me, and said, "Ready, Mama. Watch. Elmo."

Some days I think a girl would have been so much easier... But I'm a teacher. And I know how it gets once middle school hits. I think I'll pay in advance with a rambunctious toddler. Remind me of this tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Small Pleasures

I get so busy that I forget how amazing the world can be. All it takes is one walk from the gym to the car with Robbie for me to remember that there's magic all around us; I just have to slow down to see it.

Robbie burst out of the gym doors and ran down the sidewalk, muttering, "Running! Running! Running!" He loves it! Remember when running was fun and not something you did for an hour on the treadmill trying to undo the piece of chocolate you had at 2:00 in the afternoon? I didn't - at least not until my kid thought it was hilarious. And, boy, does he. He laughs like a maniac, loving how his voice vibrates as his feet hit the pavement. He could run for hours.

Or, until he spies flowers. Robbie stopped, mid-run, and yelled, "Flowers!" And then he was off, running into the field next to the gym, hopping from one patch of dandelions to another. He finally found the perfect one, crouched down, and carefully picked it. Robbie recently learned about the magic of dandelions, and, as soon as the flower was in his grubby little hands, he started blowing. And blowing. And blowing. The poor little boy didn't realize that the dandelion wasn't "ready" yet. Undaunted, he continued blowing the dandelion the rest of the way to the car.

You know what? I thought about carrying Robbie to the car today, rushing to get home. But then I wondered why I was in such a hurry and let him have a little fun. I'm so glad I took the extra five minutes. It was worth getting to remember the magic of being almost two.

Daycare Drama

Zhining hit me with the news on Friday afternoon. One of the girls from daycare wouldn't be coming back, partially because of my son. The little girl stopped sleeping through the night when she started going to daycare. As the father was talking to Zhining about it, Robbie walked up to her, and smacked her in the face. I. Was. Horrified.

Zhining assured me that it was just what kids do, and I know she's right. After all, I've watched Robbie's best friend at daycare slam him into the side of a crib. I've watched Rob play with the boys - anything goes. But that doesn't make it any better when I find out my kid's doing it at daycare. To make matters worse, as Zhining and I were talking about what happened, Robbie walked up to the little girl, grabbed her face, and started squeezing. Then, after I managed to untangle his fingers from her face, he slammed his bag of snacks onto the top of her head.

I'll be honest, this has happened at home. A lot. We've tried talking to him about it, but it doesn't do any good. And I will not be the mother who sounds like a broken record saying, "No, Robbie. We don't do that. No, Robbie. That's not very nice." So, we had a family meeting and explained the new procedure to Robbie. Any time he tries to bite, hit, or pinch, we will tell him no - once. After that, it's time for a swat on the legs. When he does anything else, we'll tell him no once and then it's a time out. So far, we're doing OK. Rob seems to have a grasp on consequences, and everyone's been happy at home. And daycare.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Doing the Dishes

Rob's really growing up. Tonight after dinner, he walked around the dining room, gathering everyone's dishes and stacking them nicely. He looked at Justin and myself, gave us a big grin, and took the dishes into the kitchen.

I was marveling at how impressed with Robbie's manners I was when Justin started laughing. My darling child, in an attempt to help, was throwing the dishes in the trash. He then waltzed back into the dining room and proclaimed himself, "Helper!" Indeed, Rob. Indeed.

Disco Date Night

We've gotten into a rut. Call a babysitter. Go to dinner at Tango. Come home. And, as nice as it is to have a favorite restaurant and time to actually go there, it was time for a change. So I trusted Justin's judgment on date night selections, even though it was something I would never actually do. We went to The Donkey Show.

For those of you as uncultured as I, The Donkey Show is a gay-tacular, disco version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Can't quite picture it? Neither could I.

After surviving the apocalypse and having dinner with friends to celebrate our pardon, Justin and I headed to the show. We lined up outside of the theatre-turned-night-club, complete with bouncers. The show started with an argument in the middle of Mass Ave., much to the dismay of all the motorists trying to make their way down the busy street into Harvard Square.

The first hour of the "show" was spent dancing in a night club with male dancers donning more glitter than I've ever seen in one place. Women flocked to the floating stages, being pulled up to dance. Now, if you know me, you probably know that I don't dance. Ever. So this was not destined to be a fabulous date, especially because Justin opted for dance floor tickets instead of table tickets. There was no where to escape all the dancing people. However, after a few adult beverages, I started having a little more fun.

And then the real show started. Mis-matched lovers, potions, fairies (you know those dancers - they played the fairies), donkeys, sex. It was everything a Saturday night could need. And, despite my initial feelings of dread about our date, I can't wait to go back again.


Or at least gym, since Justin took care of the laundry and there was no sun in sight for tanning. I escaped the house for two beautiful hours today. I went running. By myself. I got caught up on The Biggest Loser. I got to stay at the gym as long as I wanted without worrying about anyone throwing a temper tantrum or clawing another child.

And, as nice as that was, it was a little lonely. I like my gym buddy. Rob actually makes going to the gym fun. I like watching him play and laugh. It's a lot more fun than starting straight ahead on the treadmill.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


It's been forever since I blogged. I've thought about it. Really, I have. But I just haven't done it. I've been too busy living my life to write about it. That sounds harsh, and that's not how I intended it. For a week, though, it was really nice to be so wrapped up in everything I was doing to have time to stop and write about it.

Last weekend, I finally realized that I was jealous of Justin. He gets to travel occasionally for work, goes to the gym after work without a two-year-old, and ventures to Boston College twice a week for class. And my jealousy was killing me, making me angry and unfair. Once I realized this was what was going on, I was able to articulate my feelings to Justin. And you know what? He heard me.

I spent Saturday night at a movie - all by myself. Well, almost all by myself. I had a whole row of four seats to myself until five minutes before the movie started. Someone asked me if the two seats by the aisle were taken, and I said no. Then she plopped herself down right next to me. No buffer seat. No friend meeting her later. And she was an enthusiastic movie watcher - nearly jumping out of her seat every time something was funny, loudly commenting her disbelief. I wasn't sure if I should be irritated or enjoy feeling like I was watching the movie with someone who was my friend, someone who so unabashedly enjoyed life. Or at least a movie. But, I was a little irritated.

More entries to follow on how I actually lived the past week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday Night Dinners

Every Tuesday night, we have dinner with Micah and Allie. Dinner is really the excuse we put out to the public; it's really a cover for watching Secret Life of the American Teenager and Make It or Break It. You know, classic ABC Family staples. Robbie joins us for dinner, and then it's bedtime in the Pack 'n Play in the guest room.

Seems simple, right? Put a few toys in the Pack 'n Play, and eventually Robbie will go to sleep, right? That's what we thought. Until it was time for us to leave. Justin went in to get him and found the havoc that had been wreaked by our beloved son. The floor was littered with Micah's socks and underwear, the dresser drawer pulled out and hanging at an awkward angle. His toys were strewn across the floor. The blanket on the bed had been dragged across the bed, and the backpacks on the bed had fallen to the floor.

Then my eyes wandered to my child, sitting in his empty Pack 'n Play. Upon hearing us, he turned and said, "Cheese!" And then he lifted up Allie's camera and uber-fabulous lens. Yes, he had been very thorough, using the blanket to move the camera case within his grasp and somehow opened the latch.

Fortunately, there was no damage to the camera and Micah's unmentionables were easily refolded. But, we now have nowhere to keep Robbie that involves keeping any of Micah and Allie's items safe. Several months ago, he reached all of their files on the shelf and resorted them. It's days like this that I miss my little baby - you know, the one who couldn't reach anything from his crib. Or, better yet, the one who just went to sleep instead of finding something to break...

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Shopping for clothes has not been fun for the past decade. It was fun in college, when I got myself down to a size eight. But even then I didn't really enjoy it. Trying on clothes in sizes that I hoped would fit but didn't left me in tears in many a dressing room, especially as my size kept increasing.

I have a big event tomorrow, and I needed to buy a suit. I wasn't looking forward to this outing, but Justin had faith. Friends had recommended White House Black Market, but I was sure none of their clothes would fit. Somewhat daunted, I made my way through the mall with Justin and Robbie in tow. I was crushed when I looked at the racks and saw they only went up to a size 14. Feeling tears springing in my eyes, I turned to Justin and told him we would have to leave. We could try Macy's. Maybe they would go up one or two more sizes.

Justin gave me a stern look and told me to try on the clothes. So I did. I had to call in one of the fitting room attendants; I had no idea if the dress actually fit. It seemed OK, but, after all, it was a size 14. There was no way it could fit. She looked at me like I had three heads and assured me that it not only fit, but it looked fabulous (surely she was working on commission, right?). But, you know what? She was right. Not only did that dress fit, but so did the suits and the shirts that she brought in.

I felt like I had arrived. For the first time in nearly a decade, I enjoyed shopping for clothes. They made me feel fabulous. They made me feel worthy, like I fit in with the rest of the world. And, even though this week hasn't shown it, more determined than ever to continue to work for myself and enjoy my life in my new body.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Robbie found a picture of me eight months pregnant yesterday. I saw him looking at it and asked, "Where's Mama? Can you show me Mama?" He looked from the picture to me three or four times, shook his head, and tossed the picture aside. My own child didn't recognize me. I know, I know. He's not even two. But he loves to show me people he knows in pictures. And he couldn't find me.

I'm getting close to "one-derland". You know, being under the 200 pound mark. Not so long ago, I would have been horrified for you to know this about me. But not so much anymore. I'm so excited to meet this goal, but I'm also having a little bit of a hard time with it.

I've spent some time trying to figure out who Erin is now. I haven't been under 200 pounds for over eight years. No one who has met me since I left Kentucky has known me that way. I'm trying to rectify who I find myself becoming with who I was for so long. It's gotten more difficult as I've realized all the things I don't like about who I have been for the past eight years. While I'm excited to shed that skin and lose all of the judgments that come with it, I'm not sure what to do with the person left.

I sing a little louder now and I smile a whole lot more. I talk to more people; I take more risks personally and professionally. But how do I forget the impact the past eight years have had on my life? Is it something that I need to forget? I know there's a certain amount of forgiveness that needs to happen on my part, and it seems like that is going to be the most difficult part. After all, how could I treat my body so horribly for so long? Perhaps I need to take the advice that I so often give my students. I cannot let my past define me. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to reinvent myself, and I don't want to spend anymore time hating who I let myself be for so long.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chinese Miracles

I don't know why I didn't just go to her first. It seemed logical: chronic dental nerve pain? See a dentist. Sinus infection causing said chronic pain? Call my doctor. But, no. It wasn't either of those that gave me the real relief. It was, of course, Zhining, with her crazy voodoo green water in a tiny glass bottle.

I must have looked pretty terrible when I came to pick up Robbie. I hear that, for two days, I looked like Death. Plain and simple. Not even warmed over. Zhining looked at me and told me that I must not be feeling any better. She said, "Wait one minute. I have your cure. Just one minute." And she was gone to the back room, rummaging for something while I waited, hoping for a miracle.

And, boy, did she have it. The glass bottle probably measures no taller than two inches, but I only needed two drops to know it was the miracle elixir I'd been hoping for (and that Zhining had promised, assuring me that everyone in China keeps a bottle of this in their pockets, just in case). Feeling another round of throbbing pain taking hold on my temple as I merged from 128 to Route 2, I opened the bottle and rubbed a few drops onto my forehead and across my jaw. Almost instant relief.

Vicodin did nothing to numb the pain initially. Forget about any over-the-counter remedies. And the antibiotic took next to forever to cause any relief (well, 36 hours felt like forever at the time). And I couldn't very well keep going to the dentist and begging for shots of Novocain. Who does that? So, thank goodness for glass bottles of green water. After all, as the pamphlet claims, it cures anything from "evil winds" to mosquito bites. Unfortunately, it's only sold in China. I'll be sending money with Zhining this summer to stock up. We'll definitely be keeping a bottle in every coat pocket and purse. You never know when you might encounter an evil wind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Holy Sinuses, Batman!

Yeah. About the vanilla. That remedy lasted about fifteen minutes. I didn't think I was ever going to get to sleep last night. I took a hot shower, two Tylenol PMs, and covered my mouth in a generic numbing agent. Then, when the headache really started pounding, I sent Justin downstairs for some (generic) Excedrin. Ironically, when I woke up this morning, I found the box of headache medicine on the kitchen counter. Unopened. So what, you ask, did my darling husband give me? An additional three Tylenol PMs!

Despite an excellent night of sleep, the pain started up almost immediately after I woke up and continued to get progressively worse throughout the day. The ladies at Gentle Dental were kind enough to let me come in at 3:00 instead of 5:30. After three rounds of x-rays, there seemed to be nothing really wrong with me. The dentist gave me a shot of Novocain, and less than a minute later I was pain free. No toothache. No headache. It was a miracle of modern medicine.

Apparently, your sinuses can cause tooth pain. I had no idea this was even a possibility, having spent the entire day sure I was going to need a root canal or a tooth pulled. But, I saw it for myself on the x-rays: my sinus, sitting right on top of the nerves. The dentist kindly told me he'd prefer not to start drilling through my teeth, which my mouth (and bank account!) greatly appreciated. He recommended Mucinex, a neti pot, and some Vicodin (just in case).

Now here I am, four hours later. On the couch, Novocain slowly wearing off. Pain in my teeth and pounding in my head. I've done the Mucinex. I've done the neti pot. I'm just waiting for it all to kick in. I figure it's good that the pain in my teeth is just a dull ache instead of a sharp pain. I will get better. I will feel fabulous. I will avoid the dentist until my cleaning in August. I do believe in miracles!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Back in the fall, I had seven cavities filled. Seven. In two of my back molars, they had to drill all the way down to the nerve and told me that I was just biding time until a root canal. On top of that, I grind my teeth. Compound all of that, and you have a major toothache. Well, actually, I have a major toothache.

It got so bad tonight that even pain relievers weren't working. Tylenol. Aleve. I resorted to Googling "toothache remedies." There are some real nut jobs out there. And people with terrible teeth. One of my favorites? "Put the clove on the tooth that aches. Or, if you can, in the rotting or decaying tooth." Really? If I have a hole in my tooth big enough to put a clove of anything in it, don't expect me to admit it here. Or at least not on a public forum where I don't have trusted readers...

At any rate... If you're ever in the same position, I recommend using vanilla extract. It actually works. My toothache is gone. My headache is gone. And I feel remotely human again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day started like so many days: up before the rest of the family to start laundry and let the dog out. And then Robbie was up and the day was officially started with no chance of catching a few more minutes of sleep. But, he was all smiles and hugs and kisses, almost as if he realized that it was Mother's Day.

Justin took great pains to make sure I had a perfect Mother's Day. We went to church as a family, took a trip to Barnes & Noble, had brunch at Dalya's, and took a family walk. He sent me for a massage and took me out to dinner, leaving Robbie at home with a babysitter. It may very well have been the busiest Mother's Day. But it was pretty perfect.

About a month ago, I read an article in Real Simple magazine about the perfect Mother's Day gift. It's called the Mom Book, and the author's children write in it as their gift to her on special occasions. I told Justin that was what I wanted to start, so we went to Barnes & Noble for me to pick out just the right book.

While I was gone for my massage, Justin and Robbie got to work making Robbie's first entry in the Mom Book. It's a colorful expression of Robbie's enthusiasm for me as a mom. But, perhaps the most touching part, is the three flowers taped inside. While we were on our family walk, Robbie picked three dandelions and put them in the seat of his riding toy that he took with us. Justin went out to the yard and found the flowers to include in my book, so I would always remember our walk.

I'm not sure that there is a good way to preserve dandelions, but I'll be researching online just in case. I love that now I can have memories from special occasions like this all in one place.

Cinqo de Mayo Miracle

Robbie and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants with our good friend Julia. I had an extra coupon for $6 off dinner that I shared with a gentleman at the table next to ours. He was pleasantly surprised, and I felt pretty nice about my good deed for the day.

Upon leaving the restaurant, the gentleman stopped by our table to talk to Robbie, who had a death grip on his newest balloon. He looked at Robbie, handed him a $10 bill, and said, "Here you go, young man. Tell your mom to buy you something nice. Happy Cinqo de Mayo!" And then he walked out of the restaurant.

Robbie spent the rest of dinner playing with his new $10, very pleased with the attention from a new person. And I learned a valuable lesson about doing something nice for other people.


I never planned - or wanted - to have a child enthralled with Elmo. Ever. Sure, I have cats and a dog named after Sesame Street. But, Elmo the cat is actually my least favorite. And Elmo has now infiltrated our lives.

I don't personally have the words for all the Elmo that has taken over our lives... Perhaps it's best to just show it in pictures.

Robbie picked out his own Elmo shoes at Marshall's this week.

Wanting to be a good boy and have his picture taken, Robbie grabbed his Elmo book and hopped on the potty.

The most recent additions involve a chicken dance Elmo and a dancing/story telling Elmo. Both are a hit, especially now that Robbie has learned how to make them work. But, I'll be honest, I like that he has something special that interests him. Between Elmo, cars, trains, and planes, Robbie has some things that he's interested in. For a long time, I just bought toys that I thought he would like, and he never really played with them. Now that I can focus on something he loves, it makes picking out surprises that much more fun. Now, if only there was some place to put all the other toys...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sick Baby

Well, Zhining was right. Justin really does need to dress Robbie warmly because, when he doesn't, Robbie gets sick. He had a little bit of a cough on Sunday and, against my better judgement, I took Robbie to a play date. When we got home that night, Robbie was exhausted and couldn't stop coughing. And he didn't stop all night long.

I stayed home with Robbie on Monday, not feeling well myself at all after staying up all night listening to coughing and then waking up with horrible congestion. I would have given anything to send him to daycare by 10:00 in the morning. He cried and fussed every time I breathed and it made him uncomfortable. He didn't want to eat, and he would only drink out of a bottle. Robbie wanted to be held but freaked out if I needed to shift my body. At one point, all he could do was hold his balloon and cry. Pitifully.

Justin couldn't get home fast enough for my liking. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make Robbie happym, and it broke my heart. And split my head. Which was pounding by 10:00. I want to be able to cuddle my child and make him feel better. But I have absolutely no idea what to do when none of my regular strategies work. Thank goodness he was feeling better by Tuesday morning and I could escape the confines of 9 Bartlett Avenue for the relative peace and quiet of Lawrence Public Schools.

Fortunately, within a day, Robbie was happily holding his balloon and back to Swiffering the floor for me.


We finally did it. We ventured out into the world with Zhining. She had been wanting to have lunch in Chinatown for a few months, and, last Saturday, the timing finally worked. Her daughter, Lily, had a dentist appointment at 11:00, and we drove in to meet them for lunch at China Pearl (she finally had to write the name of the restaurant down for me to understand what "China Puhl" was).

I've never had a culinary experience quite like this. Zhining ordered everything from the carts that were pushed past our table. I still have no idea exactly what we ate. There were noodles, dumplings, mushrooms filled with something or another, some sort of Chinese potato that I din't think actually had any potato in it. Robbie was in heaven, shoveling rice and dumpling into his mouth as fast as he could. Of course, he knew the "real" names for all of the food and kept asking for more.

About halfway through the meal, Zhining looked at me, shocked. She immediately called the waiter over and told him I needed a fork. Zhining then told us that she wasn't sure why everyone else needed to make eating so difficult with extra utensils, since the Asians were able to make everything so simple with chopsticks...

As the meal started to wrap up, Justin told Zhining that he would like to pay for everyone's lunch to thank her for everything she does. Zhining stood up, grabbed her purse and the check, and bolted to the cashier. She was having nothing to do with anyone paying for lunch. Justin and I just stared at each other, dumbfounded. I don't think we'd ever seen anything like it.