Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu

We've all been sick at our house. Although I'm fairly certain it is NOT swine flu, I can't help but wonder if that's what we will have at our house next. I've been sick on and off without more than a week of feeling healthy, since January.

The scariest thing about swine flu is that no one is quite sure how dangerous it is. The regular flu we get commonly here in the US can be deadly. It takes lives every year. Although we've just had the first reported death here in the US it is too early to tell if this strain of the flu will be as deadly as the flu we are used to having around here.

According to the Center for Disease Control, here are the stats on the normal flu:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
  • about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
As of 11 am today, the CDC reports 91 cases of swine flu in the US. That is well under the amount typically seen for the regular flu.

I'm not joining any of the hysteria that is taking over in some parts of the country just yet. Too much is unknown, and I am not exactly in the segment of the population that is high risk for complications from the flu.

Since I have a young child, I've been taking the following precautions that are recommended for everyone to take:
  • limiting exposure to sick people
  • frequent hand washing
  • coughing into sleeve or kleenex instead of hands
  • limiting our exposure to people with weak immune systems (since we could have the virus but not be showing signs, yet)
  • closely monitoring our symptoms since we've been sick
Moms of young children, what are you doing to keep your kids healthy during this flu season?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Elmo Live

Have you seen this toy? This Elmo talks, dances and tells jokes. String Bean got it for Christmas this year and was scared to death of it. She's no longer scared if it, but very suspicious.

This morning she saw Elmo in her room and decided to play with him. She laughed and asked him to do "more" in her baby sign language. After awhile, you could see a bit of concern on her face and the sign for "all done" quickly came out and she high-tailed it out of the room.

I'm not sure what it is that makes her so concerned about this toy. Is this just a stage?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jacksonville Jaguars

Looks like our friend Pete Ittersagen signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars! He does not have a job with them, but he does have a shot at a job with them. This is really exciting news for him and his family. It is definitely a lifelong dream for him to play in the NFL. Most people don't even get a shot and Pete will be right there at camp getting his.

Pete grew up in our church and went to the college where Mr. Bean works.

Good luck, Pete!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lay-Off Update

As a follow-up to this post, I should mention our congregation decided not to lay off our music pastor after all, provided that the giving increases over the next few days (60? 90?).

I'm interested to see what happens!

Also, at our annual business meeting at church, Amy's husband, Filbert, and I were voted onto the Nominating Committee. (This is the committee that picks the Elders at our church.) Exciting things are happening!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goodbye, Mom

I taught a 2nd grade class for the 2005-2006 school year. Those students are now in the end of their 5th grade year. One of those students, Casey, said goodbye to his mom yesterday. Casey is 11.

Casey's mom, Beth, had a very aggressive form of breast cancer which took her life rather quickly. Beth had an amazing attitude about her illness. You can read all about it on her website.

As of right now, I am not sure if I can make it to the funeral. I am certainly not looking forward to it if I am able to go. Even though it is a celebration of Beth's life, it is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. I can't even imagine what Casey (and younger brother Paul) are going through right now.

Keep them in your prayers.

Spring Colds

String Bean and I are both suffering from colds. We can't breathe through our noses and most of our day is spent coughing. (There is nothing sadder or cuter than a little toddler coughing, especially when you get the stink-eye after each cough.)

I hope this is short-lived. *cough, cough*

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Day in History

Today is William Shakespeare's 445th birthday. At least that's what historians think. No one is really sure. To celebrate, today has been dubbed "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" by Mayor Daley, mayor of Chicago.

If you're interested, you can send a tweet to @shakespearesays and it will be translated into Shakespearean English for you!

Here are some examples:

Today's English: Be careful, you might hurt yourself.
Shakespearean English: Tarry and beware, thou mayst thyself gravely wound.

Today's English:
I love you, but I'm not in love with you
Shakespearean English: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more -- oo, shiny wrapper.

Today's English: I really need a vacation.
Shakespearean English:
Yea verily, a holiday needest I.

I never understood this stuff in high school or college. I'm really not going to try understanding it now!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Anti-Earth Day

In 2014, no longer will traditional light bulbs be available. Legislation has been passed that pretty much forces everyone to use CFL bulbs which are often touted as being the earth-friendly solution.

I found this article on NPR that says otherwise. Since the government has yet to figure out how to safely dispose of CFL bulbs, which contain mercury and can be toxic, it seems that the new earth-friendly option is only creating a bigger disaster. The article talks about the dangers including contaminating the soil, danger to children and unborn children due to neurotoxins, and risk to waste collectors who have to handle the bulbs that break (inevitably) on their way to the landfill. Do these CFL bulbs that save energy sound like they are worth the risk for saving energy? Is this really a earth-friendly option?

Glenn Beck of Fox News had a funny segment where he had one of his coworkers go outside, break a CFL bulb and go through the process of cleaning it up as recommended by the EPA. It is quite an undertaking.

Happy anti-Earth day everyone! Here's your bulb.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I am thrilled because a Goodwill shop opened just a few blocks from my house! My mother-in-law and I went there this evening and I found a few toys for my little one. I am most impressed that I found a starter set of Duplo (Lego) blocks! I've been considering purchasing them for some time. I'll take $1.99 over regular price any day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss USA recap

My friend, Gabrielle, who competed in the Miss USA contest last night didn't place, but I was thrilled to see her on TV! Way to go Gabrielle!

Did you catch the pageant last night? If you didn't, you should check out this YouTube video. In short, Miss California was asked by Hollywood gossip blogger Perez Hilton and pageant judge about the legalization of gay marriage. Her response was as follows:

Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what? In my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.

If you don't know, Perez Hilton is homosexual and has been very verbal about it throughout his celebrity-dom. Following the pageant, he made a vlog (Video blog) on his blog about how Miss California gave "the worst answer in pageant history." I think that dubious honor goes to former Miss South Carolina 2007. He also said, "She got booed!" which is interesting because whenever I re-watch that video, I can't hear the booing. I suppose in person it may have sounded differently.

Interestingly, Miss California finished as the first runner-up. Many news stations are wondering if she would have won first place if she hadn't answered truthfully her feelings on the subject. According to the vlog by Perez Hilton, I can guess that the score he gave her for that answer was incredibly low. He also said if Miss California would have won, he would have gone on stage and snatched that crown off her head. I gotta wonder if there is going to be some sort of look into the judging practices of the pageant if contestants are penalized for answering truthfully. (I don't suggest you try to find his vlog on his blog if you are sensitive to profanity, which is why I did not link to it here!)

I found the answer given by Miss Arizona to be more comical. She was asked by judge whether universal health care should be a right for American citizens. Her response was to cite "integrity" as the only thing you need. Huh?

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My child and Amy's children will never be able to connect over a game of baseball. Since we live in Chicagoland, we have 2 major league baseball teams: the Cubs and the White Sox.

Mr. Bean is a Cubs fan. Filbert is a Sox fan. String Bean is already saying, "Go Cubs!" and I know Walnut roots wholeheartedly for the White Sox (it is just a matter of time for Peanut and Cashew if they haven't started being fans already). Amy and I count our lucky stars that the rivalry between the teams hasn't affected the friendship of Mr. Bean and Filbert, yet.

Right now the Bean family is out-numbered by the Nut family. At least we can agree on football. The Bears are the team to root for! Go Bears!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Free Saturday

Mr. Bean had to work all day because of a well-known artist visiting the college and putting on a concert this evening. String Bean and I took the opportunity to visit 2 of our favorite free places in our town.

After breakfast, we went to the library! It has been more than 6 months since we last went (says my expired library card which has now been renewed). Besides running through the stacks and pondering pulling every book off the shelves, String Bean also picked up and put down several board books, played with puzzles, discovered the duck feet at the bottom of all the chairs in the children's department, charmed the librarians, and almost petted a dog we found in the library. The dog was there for a kids' reading club. String Bean would have petted him, but while she was making a bee-line for him, he stood up and she realized how incredibly big he was and changed course about 5 feet from the encounter. Once we checked out our 8 books, including String Bean's favorite book, Hippos Go Berserk, we came home for nap time.

After lunch and a nap, we went to our local park district zoo. Who knew ducks could be so thrilling for a toddler? We spent about half of our time there standing around the duck pond. String Bean made friends with several tykes and even an elderly Indian lady who spoke to her in Hindi (?) for several minutes. String Bean acted like she understood. Clearly gifted.

We are now home. String Bean is enjoying a delicacy at our house (Honeycombs) and snorting with her nose because there is a booger she's keeping captive there. Bedtime in T minus 45 minutes...if she lasts that long!

Hope your Saturday was thrilling like ours. If this week wasn't, at least Saturday rolls around in 7 more days!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Red Carpet Debut

The long-awaited Red Carpet event was this evening and String Bean loved every minute of it. If you missed the background on this, you can read it here. The paparazzi was out at the event and took these photos for your viewing pleasure!

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Mr. Bean and String Bean pose before the screening since they were both dressed up!

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String Bean runs down the red carpet!

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And the Oscar goes to....String Bean for best supporting actress!! Not really. She lost to the other supporting actress in her film; however, several people commented after the event that she should have won. We commandeered this award from one of the (real) winners.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lay Offs

Our church just announced a second round of lay-offs. This time around, our Music Pastor got the boot. It is really unfortunate when anyone looses his/her job, but we are pretty good friends with our music pastor (his son was in our wedding when he was 8) and we are upset that he will no longer be ministering with us or to us. Mr. Bean, however, has been asked to take on a larger role in our worship ministry to fill the hole. The goal is to replace the worship pastor with 2 part time people.

The economy is really going down the tubes and we are thankful every day that Mr. Bean still has his job. We think his job security is pretty good, but we are well aware that any day his job can be taken from us.

To think, a year ago we were upset because our house had not sold, yet. 12 months later, we realize that the Lord saved us from being in a situation where our mortgage would have been more than the worth of the house had we moved. When the economy goes down the drain, it sure makes you thankful for what you have.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ramping Up

Summer is just around the corner. Wedding invitations and graduation announcements are starting to pile up. It is going to get rather busy around the Bean household in the next few weeks.

I feel a little bad for the new graduates who are entering the job force during this economic time. I also feel bad for all the newlyweds who are likely not getting as great of gifts to start off their lives together. I know for Mr. Bean and I, we were only able to afford setting up house because of the generous gifts of our friends. I wonder if newlyweds this summer will fare as well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Busy Crafts for Preschoolers

Ever have one of those days? Here are a couple simple crafts to do with your preschooler to keep them busy. (And they are educational, too!)

Trail Mix
Have your child practice counting. Get together a big bowl, a spoon, and several dry ingredients such as cereal, M&Ms or small pretzels. Have your child count out a set number (10, 20, 100--depending on your child's counting skills) of each kind of ingredient and toss them into the big bowl. Let your child mix up the snack and divvy it up for mom, dad, siblings and friends!

"Candy" Necklaces
You will need cereal with a hole such as Fruit Loops and about a foot or a foot and a half of yarn. Tie one of the pieces of cereal to the end of the string and have your child string the cereal onto the string to make a "candy" necklace. When finished, tie the end of the string back on the original piece of cereal. This craft helps with fine motor skills. You can also have your child make patterns to practice sequencing.

Using toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls or even paper plates, make shakers. Covering the ends of the rolls (or stapling two paper plates together). In the middle of the roll, put dried beans or dried rice. Once sealed, turn on the music and practice playing with the band! This activity develops rhythm and musical awareness.

What are some of your preschooler-friendly educational craft ideas?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Murphy's Law

String Bean ran a fever all weekend long. On day 4 of the fever, I took her into the pediatrician where they wanted a urine culture and blood test to rule out some things. Of course, to get a urine culture from a baby in diapers requires a catheter. String Bean did not enjoy that at all. For the blood test, it ends up String Bean was a bit dehydrated, so veins in both arms collapsed. It was so painful/stressful (not sure which) that it took 3 of us to hold her down for the attempts at the blood draw. We were sent to the lab across the street to have a phlebotomist draw blood. After over an hour in the waiting room, we were called back. They decided her veins were not in good enough condition to draw blood. So, they did a finger prick to get a CBC, which she clearly did not enjoy.

Needless to say, after her nap, she woke up pretty much acting like her old self and the fever broke. Murphy's law. I guess we don't have to worry much about the rest of those blood tests that were ordered that we never drawn. (Phew!)

Here's hoping the fever does not return in the morning and that we can get some health back in our house!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Rolls

Our family tradition is to make Resurrection Rolls for Easter. They are not only yummy, but also share the Easter story. String Bean, who is 17 months old, was even able to help this year.

Resurrection Rolls

1 package of refrigerated crescent roll dough
8 marshmallows
melted butter

Mix cinnamon and sugar to taste.

The marshmallow represents Jesus' body after he died on the cross.

Dip the marshmallow in the butter and coat it evenly. Then, roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. This represents how his body was prepared for burial with the oils and spices.

Using the triangle of dough, encase the marshmallow in it fully being sure to seal all the seams very carefully. This represents Jesus' body being put in the tomb and the tomb being sealed.

Bake according to package instructions. Usually this is 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes.

While baking is taking place, make believe with your children that 3 days are passing. When the children awaken on the 3rd day, be sure the rolls are finished baking and have cooled. Have them run to the tomb and find it empty! The marshmallow will have melted and you'll have a hollow and sweet roll to eat. This represents Jesus' body is no longer in the tomb because he is risen! How sweet it is that we serve a risen Savior!

Happy Easter. Celebrate Christ's resurrection with your loved ones. If you do not know the Easter story, you can find it here. If you are interested in knowing how to make Jesus your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to visit this site.

Happy Resurrection Sunday to all!

Mandie and Amy

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

We spent most of the day on Friday practicing for today's Easter egg hunt. Ama, String Bean's grandmother, had given her a hard boiled egg to "decorate" with stickers and I hid it around our living room and encouraged her to find it and put it in her basket. With glee, she found it every time and put it in her basket the proceeded to applaud herself for a job well done.

The egg hunt we visited was great. There was a 5 egg limit per child. Ama went with us so Mr. Bean could videotape, I could photograph, and Ama could elbow out all the other rugrats trying to pick up my precious child's eggs.

String Bean found a pile of 5 eggs, patiently put each one in her basket and then signed "all done." Yes, my 17 month old knows how to count to 5 and obey the 5 egg limit. Gifted. The entire hunt with the hundreds of kids there lasted about 30 seconds.

The eggs were empty, which is fine by me since String Bean has no idea that there is supposed to be candy in them anyway. The brochure said, "each child will get a goody bag." When we got to the goody bag table, String Bean put her little hand out for her bag and took it from the nice high school volunteer. She promptly put in her basket and put her hand out for another one. Clearly she knew there were Smarties inside. High School Girl gave her a second bag, but when that greedy little hand popped out for a third one, String Bean was denied. Can't blame a girl for trying.

The rest of the day we spent at the park. String Bean did not enjoy the temporary tattoo. It was a bit too permanent for her. She kept trying to pull it off like a sticker. She gives us the "stink face" every time she fails to pull it off her arm. We then got the obligitary photo with the Easter Bunny. They gave out free polariods and allowed us to take our own photos, too. The Polaroid photo turned out great. Nostalgia swept over me. Looks like a photo you might find in my baby book. Finally, we walked the gardens of the park and String Bean repeatedly threw her eggs out of her basket and found them all again with glee.

All in all, it was a good day and a great hunt! All we had to pay for was the cost of parking. Scratch that. My in-laws gave us a parking pass, so all was free!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ear Aches

I woke up yesterday morning with severe pain in my left ear. It really felt like someone had shoved a stick in there and was swirling it around. Great visual, I know.

I took some ibuprofen and eventually the pain went away. My trusty friend, Google, told me that ear infections often have intermittent pain but are most commonly associated with fevers. I didn't have a fever. So, I went to work. After all, my pain had subsided (despite that living in a tunnel-effect that I was "enjoying").

My office is typically HOT during this time of year. It can be 40 degrees outside, but I'll wear short sleeves to work because the heat has one setting. Let's just say, I'll never freeze there. If we go through another ice age, I'll wait it out at work.

Yesterday's office climate did not disappoint me. I was hot and my coworkers complained about the heat too. Mild relief came, as always, when I used my stapler to prop open the door and get some kind of cross breeze.

When I got home, I kept thinking how abnormal that ear pain was, so I decided to check out the Take Care Clinic at Walgreens. After checking in at the kiosk, I chatted with a father-daughter pair who were waiting for wife/mom and daughter/sister to finish up their turn with the nurse practitioner. 30 minutes later, I learned the daughter/sister did not have strep, but several other (unmentioned) problems.

I was pleasantly surprised that the nurse practitioner visit felt like a normal doc visit. (Where I found out, I did have a fever.) She got my history, took my vitals, diagnosed my ear infection, and gave me an antibiotic prescription. She even took into account that I am breastfeeding and double checked the prescription she was writing to be sure it wouldn't be harmful to String Bean. This particular nurse is a firm believer in homeopathic remedies (especially for nursing moms). She was happy to hear I use a Neti Pot and that I visit a chiropractor on a regular basis. In fact, she said that my use of the Neti Pot is probably why I don't also have a sinus infection.

I was not thrilled that the ear drops I got cost $130. Insurance covered $72 and our health care savings account covered the other $58.

Well, laundry is calling...At least I think that's what I heard.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The De-valuation of Motherhood

I was watching Oprah again this week. I know, I know, I shouldn't even turn it on because I just get annoyed, but I had laundry to fold and I like to watch TV while I fold laundry. I try not to watch too much TV during the day, so I limit myslef to only watching while I fold laundry. This is a helpful tip for those of you like me who need help turning the TV off and keeping up with laundry. Well, that's my nugget of wisdom for today. Anyway, back to Oprah. They had a show about what it's really like to be a mom and I tell you, these women complained more that Walnut when he wants junk food. I just don't understand how a mother can find no joy in her children and I don't understand how hard it is to find time for shower. Now I am totally unorganized and don't even remember what color my family room carpet is supposed to be, but I manange to get my self washed and my kids fed with actual food pretty much every day.

I got into a conversation on Facebook about this with my friend, Tara, the other day and I had what might have been a profound thought about how motherhood holds little value in today's society. You hear statements all the time like "I love being home with my kids, but...", "I have fun with my kids, but...". There is always a qualifier. Being *just* a mom is not something that it's okay to value in our society.

Today I'm making a stand. I love being a mom. Period. End of sentence.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dispatches from the Island

Thanks to my friend, Heather, I now can keep up with some tidbits from Lost and the life of Jorge Garcia (better known as Hurley) on his blog Dispatches from the Island.

I heart Lost. So glad it is a new episode tonight!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Five Generations

Well, here we are. The 5 generations of my family at my Great Grandfather's 100th Birthday party:

My Great Grandpa (String Bean's Great Great Grandpa) is seated. String Bean is the little one. Age difference: 98 1/2 years. My mom in red) and my grandma (in purple) are the other two pictured. We had a fantastic time visiting with family and enjoying celebrating Great Grandpa's life! (That's Great-Great Grandpa to String Bean!

A Great Great Grandfather shares his wisdom with an eager pupil.

This is String Bean and her Great Great Great Aunt Mary Jean. (She is String Bean's Great Great Grandfather's youngest sister.)

Monday, April 6, 2009


I just made playdough for String Bean and friends. It is pretty easy:

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of water and then some
food coloring

Mix the flour, salt and 1/2 cup of water together. You will need more water. Add water a small amount at a time until it makes a dough-like consistency. You probably want to use a spoon first and then your hands (take your rings off first!) to get it mixed well. Add food coloring. You will get it all over your hands, so be careful not to wear your favorite, most expensive white shirt when you do this. It washed off my hands pretty easily, not to worry.

It is edible, but not suggested for those on a low-sodium diet.

I read in a magazine that you can add essential oils to give an aroma to homemade playdough. I'm not that girly. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But it won't be edible any longer.

I have mine in old baby food jars. Using the Gerber stage 2 size jars, it should fill about 6 jars. I didn't have 6, so I put my extra in snack-sized ziplocs.

I did notice that the playdough tended to dry out the more I handled it, so you may want to have a small cup of water available for when your kids are playing with the playdough. Of course a smock wouldn't hurt either so they don't get flour and food coloring all over their clothing.

...Maybe you should just go purchase playdough after all.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Liquid Gold

Many of you moms have heard the term "Liquid Gold" to describe breast milk. Of course, I agree that breast milk has all sorts of benefits for babies and is the natural/organic way to feed them. It is the way God intended. String Bean is 16 months old and still breastfed.

I'm not here to argue with you about the merits of breast milk or to open up the breast milk versus formula debate. The "Liquid Gold" I am drinking today is the free Starbucks drink I got for doing a survey. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to drink Starbucks over breast milk any day!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Three Days Late

Our homeowners association fee was due on April 1. I wrote out the check on March 31. Here is a tip for all of you: If you don't deliver the check, it will not sprout legs and walk there itself!

I discovered it in a pile of papers this evening. Here's hoping the powers that be don't charge a late fee!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Updating the Wardrobe

Mr. Bean is pretty particular about String Bean's fashion. I get vetoed often on the choices I make for her wardrobe. I purchased some shoes and an Easter dress from Target the other day and Mr. Bean made me take them back today and purchase something different.

Luckily, I got the coveted 30% off Kohl's coupon this month. I dragged Mr. Bean along and was thrilled to be able to go and purchase all sorts of things for String Bean and me!

Here are a couple of things we got her. None of them are her Easter dress (wouldn't want to spoil our fun for Easter monring)!

Summery PJs since her room does not have air conditioning:

And some things for me:

(Those last two shirts ARE different colors even though they look the same here.)

How much did I spend on all 16 clothing items we purchased? The cost before sales was $350 (before tax) for the shopping spree. My subtotal after sales was $205.51. Then, I used my 30% off coupon and my final total was $143.85 (before tax). That's almost 60% off the original price! I love being frugal. If I had shopped clearance, I could have done better, but I don't need sweaters.

We ran out of time shopping for Mr. Bean, so we go back to Kohl's tomorrow to work on his wardrobe a bit and to check out that shirt I saw on the way out the door that I didn't have time to try on!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chia Obama?

Let me get this right. For some reason the makers of the chia pets (and other chia products) find it necessary to now introduce Chia Obama? Welcome, Mr. President, to the ranks of those immortalized forever as chia characters including Shrek, Scooby Doo, and Homer Simpson. There has only been one other time an actual person, not a cartoon character, has been made into a chia head. According to this Wikipedia article, that honor goes to Mr. T.

I'm disturbed by the statement from the commercial, "Your Chia Obama is a symbol of liberty, opportunity, prosperity, and hope. Chia Obama makes the statement, 'I'm proud to be an American.'" Explain how this planter in the shape of someone's head symbolizes those things.

The statement it makes to me? "Some Americans will do anything to earn a buck; others will purchase anything given the right marketing."

Should we be offended by this?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All Done!

String Bean has been using Baby Signs to communicate with Mr. Bean and me for several months now. I can't believe how easy it has been to teach her and now we are reaping the benefits of communication!

Today I went to the asthma doctor. Surely there is some clever name for those guys. Something-ologist I'm sure. Being that String Bean is now 16 months old and quite aware of the world around her, she has opinions on who can do what and to whom. When we were ushered back into the exam room, she immediately thought, as most egocentric youngsters do, that this appointment was for her. And she was going to have none of it! When the nurse walked in, String Bean's brow furrowed in silent protest. I think she was confused when everything kept happening to me instead of to her. After my blood pressure, she signed "all done" all while disapproving of the whole event with her facial expressions.

The doctor came in and wanted to listen to my breathing. String Bean's silent glares and disapproval continued. When the doctor was finished listening, he pushed his chair back and got ready to tell me what he heard when String Bean furiously and with grunts for added emphasis signed "all done" repeatedly at him. He looked at her smiled and signed "all done" right back. He said, "Yep, we are all done! No more of that." Under his breath he said, "I know better than to continue to irk a woman!"

Not only is String Bean's mastery of a few basic signs helping her communicate her thoughts with me, but she's also pushing around the higher-ups in the medical community! Perhaps I should put her on the phone with cousin Ginger's COBRA rep and see if she can make some things happen there.

Well, I'm "all done" for today.