Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The workers arrived this morning to tear the cedar shakes off the side of our house and begin wrapping it with insulation and wire. It will look entirely different by the end of the day.

The kids are very excited for Halloween. There is a party/carnival at Douglas's preschool this afternoon which should be fun. We will just trick-or-treat on the block.

Thanks to Eileen for sending the Halloween books, which they have enjoyed!

This morning was the parent-teacher conference for Owen. It went fine. He is doing outstanding in writing (in Sept. all first graders were assessed in a writing prompt on a scale of 1 to 20; they are supposed to be at 15 by the end of first grade and he was already at 18), and reading at around a 3rd grade level. He is not doing so well on keeping up with his "work plan" and getting the teacher to sign off on it, and in raising his hand in class. Plus he needs to do better with money. We barely use cash any more so it seems like it is hard to integrate it into his daily life! Need to work on that I guess...

Monday, October 30, 2006


Here are the two pumpkins we carved last night. The one on the right was designed by Owen (but carved by me). I drew the one on the left according to Douglas's specifications.

Poor Violet in her collar. The image doesn't show her tail well, but the end part is shaved with stitches in it.

Almost Halloween

We carved two pumpkins last night. I need to charge the camera battery to take some pictures.

I have a nasty cold, thanks to Douglas. Mostly stayed home and lay around yesterday.

This week is parent-teacher conferences so the kids get out early. Owen's conference is tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Poor kitty

On Thursday afternoon, Douglas was chasing Violet out the door and slammed it on her tail. I took her to the vet and we spent 2 hours there while they put her under, shaved the end of her tail and stitched it back up again. Now she has a collar over her head and she has been shut in the bathroom since then. We have to give her antibiotics twice a day and pain medication once a day.

The bathroom looked like a slasher flick because she would lash her tail around and the blood spattered everywhere. Now it has stopped bleeding (finally) and she seems to be on the mend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


We have found a reasonably inexpensive company that will do colored stucco on our house. Now we have a contract and just have to pick the color. I think we are going to go with a sort of grayish brown ... Hopefully it will look nicer in person than it sounds here. Our house has some brick so the color has to go with the brick and with our cheesy looking gray asphalt roof. They will start soon, possibly Halloween or the day after. First they take off the old cedar shake, then wrap the house in a tyvek-sort of thing and then chicken wire, then do a coat of regular stucco and then a finish of the colored stuff. You never have to paint the colored stucco and it will last supposedly 25-30 years. Of course you can paint it if you get sick of the color, and we will need to paint the trim, which we have been needing to do anyway.

It is really windy today and Owen's class is supposed to go to the pumpkin patch after school. Weather.com says the winds are 23 mph gusting to 33 mph. Hopefully the kids won't blow away.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Charlie Brown

I went to a fundraiser for Charlie Brown tonight, who is running against John Doolittle (CA-04), not in our district but nearby in the Sacramento suburban foothills. We can't vote for him, unfortunately; we are in a safe Democratic district served by Mike Thompson.

He served in the Air Force for something like 25 years and has a son who is about to leave for his fourth tour in Iraq.

Here he is and his wife is the woman on the left side of the picture.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson (husband of Valerie Plame) was there and spoke. He was quite funny. I shook his hand at the end. They have twin 6 year olds. It was interesting to hear his perspective. He is looking forward to a change in this government! He was an appointee of George H.W. Bush and was Ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nut Tree reopens!

The Nut Tree, a Vacaville restaurant, toy store, and mini-airport which opened in 1921 and closed in 1996, reopened yesterday as a family amusement park. We went over there today for their "Harvest Days" festival and to check out the new Nut Tree. Below are some pictures.

Douglas and Owen had a good time playing in the "corn bath."

The Nut Tree Railroad, which the engineer told me is the same train that used to take people from the air strip up to the restaurant; now it circles the amusement park.

Dan and the boys on the train

Owen and Douglas playing on a tractor

Kiddos in front of a "cow"

Friday, October 20, 2006

Caps to the capital

Note to self: Possible knitting project for Owen's class?

Caps to the capital
knitters to make 250,000 caps for newborns to be distributed around the world to prevent neonatal mortality.

Knitting with the kids

I went to Owen's first grade class this afternoon to start teaching knitting. It was a lot of fun.

I started by asking them what their clothes are made of, and then passing around samples of raw cotton, wool, and alpaca that I've gathered over the past few weeks at UC-Davis and the alpaca farm. Then I read a book entitled "From sheep to sweater" that talks about how wool is made into yarn and then knitted into a sweater, and showed them a couple of books of projects kids have made.

I showed them a few things I've made, and then we started doing finger knitting. The kids raided a bag of yarn balls (some I brought, and some were purchased by the teacher). Some of them got it right away - a boy named Raymond did especially well, as did Owen who had done it before at home and another boy named Andrew; the girls did not seem to get it as well for some reason.

It was fun. Next week I'll go back and maybe do some more finger knitting, then perhaps on to trying it with needles. One girl, Kyra, kept saying "Next time bring the sticks!"

Mighty Carlos Strikes Out

No joy in Metville as Carlos Beltran goes down looking with the bases loaded to end the game, and the 2006 season.

It's funny how our maligned starting pitching was the chief concern going into the playoffs, but it was dormant hitting that killed us. How could a journeyman like Jeff Suppan dominate us twice?

Oh, well. There's always next year.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I was a research assistant at Seattle-King County Dept. of Public Health for a guy named Jim Krieger, who is in charge of the epidemiology unit there. There was a piece about him on NPR this morning. Very cool. Here is a link to the story.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


At some point Douglas was sleeping through the night in his own bed, but ever since he got sick with his GI illness he has come in our room during the night every night. For the past couple of weeks he has had a cold, and last night he was lying sideways across the bed coughing between about midnight and 1:00.

It is hard to sleep when he wants to take up all the space on the bed and lie his head on my head.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pumpkin patch

After a birthday party for a friend of Owen's, we took the kids to Cool Patch Pumpkins today. Yes, it's a pumpkin patch with its own website. The kids had lots of fun playing on the haystacks, having pony rides, playing in the play houses and teepees, and, oh yes, picking out pumpkins.

Owen's class will be going to Impossible Acres for its pumpkin patch field trip on October 25th. They have similar attractions but also some very cute baby animals in a mini-petting zoo.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Getting ready for Halloween

Douglas is very excited about dressing up like Spiderman (in Owen's old costume). Here he was saying "Spider-MAN!"

Owen made this ghost at school yesterday. It is made of a bottle with cheesecloth dipped in starch draped over it. Boo!

Friday, October 13, 2006

No, no, no

Douglas started wearing underwear about two weeks ago, and does great at using the potty... for peeing. The other part is not going so well. He decided he is not going to poop any more, ever again. Being two he is not interested in listening to other people tell him what to do, either.

Yesterday it had been 5 days since he had pooped and we started getting really worried. I emailed the pediatrician and he suggested a variety of remedies (milk of magnesia being a last resort, not to be used more than once every two weeks; senakot or a child's version thereof being a less radical helper, along with pear juice, etc.). We had a little luck with the peach juice and senakot, so we'll have to see how it goes.

I've mentioned it to a few people and more than one have said their child had the same problem (reluctance to poop) and it became a long-term problem. My co-worker said her daughter, who is in college, still has issues with it and that it was really a problem when she went to college and had no privacy in the bathroom. Another friend said her 6 year old still retains and will once in a while stop eating and have stomachaches because of it.

Sigh. I hope this is not going to become anything long term.

If it's not one thing, it's another.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Eye appt was fine

I just got back from taking Douglas to the pediatric opthalmologist. It went fine. There is apparently nothing wrong with his eyes. It appeared to turn in because he has a skin fold in the inner part of the eye, which will gradually disappear as he eventually grows a bridge to his nose.

Here is a picture of the mystery fruit growing on the "lemon" tree.

Here's an artichoke growing on the artichoke plant I planted...

and one of the lavender plants.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What is it?

There is a large lemon tree in the back corner of our yard that hasn't ever produced anything. It must have been planted at least 10 years ago since I'm sure the 5 years of renters who lived here before us didn't plant it. For four years I've been fertilizing it, watering it, pruning it, generally desperately trying to get it to produce something.

Yesterday afternoon I was outside watering it and I noticed there is something growing on it.

Something large and round and green.

Something that is decidedly not a lemon.

I don't know yet if it's an orange or a grapefruit. We shall see as it ripens.

I certainly was surprised.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The backbone's connected to the...

I rubbed Douglas's spine and said, "This is your backbone." He responded by pointing to his chest and saying, "This is my frontbone."

Owen has someone in his class whose last name is Schwartz. We were looking at the class list together and he pointed at it and said, "That's funny, his last name is Shorts." I said, "No, Schwartz," and we went back and forth for a while with him saying "That's what you said, Shorts!" and me saying, "No, SchWWWartz!" Eventually he said, "It would be funny if his name was Pants Schwartz."

My department is recommending me for a promotion. Yay me. Now it has to go forward to the dean's office and be approved by everyone short of the Regents...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A few pictures

Douglas and Helena looking at a book on our couch

Douglas and Elizabeth riding his trike and having lots of fun!

Violet taking a nap all curled up.


Owen and mama knitting

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Owen and Patrick

Owen went over to his friend Patrick's house after school yesterday. Patrick's mom took this picture. They had a lot of fun fighting imaginary bad guys, followed by some basketball.

Douglas has a cold and has not been sleeping well. We hope he will be over it soon.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Owen's checkup went fine. He is in the 75th percentiles for both height and weight, which is unusual for him. He spent years in the 25th percentile. Apparently last visit (age 5) he was in the 50th. All that eating seems to have produced some growth.

On Saturday we saw a coyote while driving from Woodland to Davis! It was standing in some brush maybe 100 feet from the road. Very cool. At first I thought it was a fox but as we got closer it was pretty apparent it was a coyote.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Uneventful weekend

Owen had a soccer game, which was quite a bit more competitive than the 10-0 blowout of the previous weekend. Apparently his coaches got a lot of nasty emails from the AYSO people in charge because they shouldn't have let the score get as high as they did. This week it was only 6-2 or something like that, and was actually more evenhanded than even that score reflects.

Otherwise, we went to Home Depot and are hoping to get an estimate on re-siding the house to decide whether to do that or just paint, but gave up after 45 minutes on hold with them yesterday. We went to a party for the Davis Democrats and saw various local bigwigs wandering around. At least as big a wig as you can get in Davis. Yesterday we went to Vacaville and got some yarn for Owen's class and had lunch at Baja Fresh, yum. We can't get Douglas to eat a burrito yet but he did chow down on some Spanish rice. Owen can eat almost an adult size burrito at this point. He has become a huge eater. He has a checkup in about an hour so we'll see how much he has grown.