Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Maya and Layth

We had lovely prolonged cuddles with our children the other night, but unlike some parents who might just doze off contentedly with their warm and snuggly little ones, we lay awake feeling anxious. Why? Well, I'll tell you.

When Mina and Layla were with us, they weren't allowed into our bed to cuddle until it was light outside. By some blessed chance, on their last night on this earth, I allowed them to sleep the whole night in our bed. K has missed those cuddles so much that he has tried on several occasions to get Layth to sleep with us, but Layth wouldn't sleep unless he was in his own bed. So when Layth climbed out of his bed (a recent accomplishment) in the wee hours of the morning and found his way into our bed to cuddle quietly, we didn't feel much like sending him back to his own bed. Indeed, it reminded us of how it felt to cuddle Layla. As we lay there in the bittersweet predawn darkness, Maya woke with an uncharacteristic restlessness and wouldn't go back to sleep until I brought her into the crowded bed. As the children lingered on the edge of sleep, we lay in quiet wakefulness, unaware that we were both thinking the same thing until K whispered, "Take care of them today."

I would normally take offense at such a comment, because I take care of them every day, but I knew what he meant. When we last cuddled Mina and Layla like that, we had no idea that would be the last time. I'm not a superstitious woman, but I felt anxious as I buckled the children into the car and refused to let Justin drive, just in case. We made it through the day without incident, though I did have an epiphany during our trip to Ft Worth.

I've been unhappy about the fact that the private practice K has joined doesn't cover insurance for the family, so our coverage is going to be very expensive. When I lost the girls, I said I'd give up everything I had to have them back. If I were to lose one or more of my remaining three children, I'd say the same thing. Well, I have them. They're here, they're happy (sulky teenager notwithstanding,) and they're healthy. Suddenly, I have no complaints about the cost of insurance.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rumpledoodle Day

Try these! You won't be sorry.

If you don't have a little one to use as an excuse for watching Pooh's Heffalump Movie, you're missing out. Not only have three of the songs been stuck in my head for days, the rumpledoodles are delicious! This was the first movie that Layth officially sat through, and while I'm probably not supposed to be proud that I can get him to sit still in front of the television, it does open up a whole new world of G-rated movie-going opportunities.

For those who don't know, a heffalump is a child's mispronunciation of the word "elephant." Layth has now taken to calling us Mama Heffalump, Gaga Heffalump, Laythy Heffalump (aka Baby Heffalump,) and Baby Maya Heffalump. We're also expected to make elephant sounds periodically throughout the day. I don't make very good elephant sounds, but he's kind, and lets it slide. The little heffalump in the movie is distinctly British and very cute, reminding me of the five-year-old daughter of a couple of our friends in England. Layth can (and does, quite often) quote his favorite line in a British accent: "Do you have any rumpledoodles?"

I was delighted to find that there is indeed an official recipe for rumpledoodles, and today was Rumpledoodle Day. You won't find it on any calendar. I just decided it was so because I knew I wouldn't bake until today and wanted to give Layth something to look forward to. I even stole the tune from The Howdy Doody Show's theme song to sing a Rumpledoodle Day song, which has now joined the other heffalump songs dancing around in my head.

Layth was allowed to help me make the rumpledoodles today. This was his first foray into the kitchen for official kitchen business, and he did very well. I measured ingredients, and he put them in the mixing bowl. He helped me mix the ingredients and grease the cookie sheets. Just out of curiosity, if you discover too late that your toddler licked his buttery hand in the middle of greasing the cookie sheet, then proceeded to finish greasing the cookie sheet with a combination of butter and saliva, do you have to ban that whole batch of cookies from being served to guests? Fortunately, we're not expecting any guests for Rumpledoodle Day this year, but in all honesty, I think I'd probably serve them anyway and tell myself that what they don't know won't hurt them. Mom, you've been warned. For everyone else, there may be comfort in knowing that I have no aspirations to open a restaurant, though I suppose I won't be surprised if my desserts are eyed a little more warily in the future.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Nutmeg and Layth

Here's a little ditty I wrote about our kitty:

Nutmeg is a funny cat,
She loves to have a drink.
You’ll find her in the baby’s bath
Or in the kitchen sink.

Whether she is far or near,
If there is water running,
The jingle bells around her neck
Alert us that she’s coming.

She’ll drink right from the faucet,
Or try to sip from ours,
But most of all she really loves
To sneak in people’s showers.

She’ll leap into the tub with them
And bask in the warm spray,
She’ll weave between their ankles then,
Before she runs away.

She’ll shake and fur goes flying,
Yet still she’s dripping wet.
She’ll sit there in a puddle
As happy as cats get.

Best of all in Kitty’s eyes
If one of us gives in,
We’ll scrub her well between the ears
And underneath her chin.

She also has some funny ways
And tries to prove us fools.
She likes to try to make us think
She follows all the rules.

We know better, yes, of course,
But we just play along,
And let her think that we think
That she can do no wrong.

She’ll sneak onto the table
When we sit for a meal,
But when we look her in the eye,
No closer will she steal.

In fact, she’ll turn the other way,
Lay down and close her eyes.
She’ll feign disinterest and make plans
To take us by surprise.

If we dare stop watching her,
She’ll edge a little nearer,
And though she’ll turn away again
Her goal could not be clearer.

Now should we chance to walk away,
We’ve made a dire mistake.
No doubt we will return to find
A cat upon our plate.

The reader will be glad to know
This won’t happen to them.
When guests come, there’s a kitty room
That she is locked within.

Another trick she likes to play
Is when she’s left alone,
Whatever she’s been up to then,
She doesn’t want it known.

She’ll quickly sprawl by the garage
When she hears a car door,
And act as though she, all along,
Has slept there on the floor.

I know this is an act, because
As I approach the house,
I hear a sudden rush of bells,
Then … silent as a mouse.

All in all, a clever cat,
Though cleverer are we,
Unless she lets us think we are,
For cleverest is she.

She tolerates our cuddles
And the pulling of her tail,
So she will always have a home
And never be for sale.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Our UK version with the adult cover.

Let's muse over Harry Potter theories, shall we? Be warned, if you have not yet read this book and plan to do so, this post contains many spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk!


I was given this book on its release date while we were in England. It was the perfect gift, and Justin and I immediately started arguing about the logistics of who would get to read it and when. Since Layth and Maya get most of my attention, it was determined that Justin could read it whenever he felt like putting away his Gameboy, with the condition that I could take it whenever I would sneak off to nurse the baby. He could also read it until he was ready for bed, but he had to put it outside my door before he went to sleep so that I could have it first thing in the morning. With this method, Justin finished it in three days, and I finished it in four. Once Justin finished, he urged me to hurry because he wanted to talk about it.

The first thing he asked me when I finished was whether or not I had cried when Dumbledore died. I hadn't, because I had been so sure he wasn't really dead. I kept expecting him to reappear at any moment until the tomb appeared and his picture joined the pictures of other deceased headmasters in his office. By that time, I was sad, but the tear-inspiring shock had passed. I wanted to know why Dumbledore didn't speak from his picture like the other headmasters did, especially given Harry's distress. Justin pointed out that he had only just died, after all, so was probably very tired. Somehow, I accepted that at the time. We hoped that Snape was still really on the side of good, rather than evil, though it seemed a stretch, considering that he had just killed Dumbledore. We speculated that perhaps Snape had to sacrifice Dumbledore to prevent Voldemort from becoming suspicious. And RAB? No idea. I wondered briefly if Snape could have had a different name or if RAB was an acronym, but decided those possibilities were unlikely.

A friend of mine thinks it wasn't Dumbledore at all who died, but Wormtail under a spell. Wormtail's silver hand may have caused a problem, explaining why Dumbledore's hand was blackened and shriveled and unable to be healed. He also mentioned that the things he said while drinking the potion sounded more like Wormtail than Dumbledore, and that it would also explain his begging Snape for mercy. I don't remember him begging for mercy or exactly what he said while drinking the potion, so I want to reread the book with that theory in mind. My arguments were that the picture appeared in his office after he died, that he froze Harry to save him when the Deatheaters were coming up the stairs, and that it would have had to be Wormtail throughout the whole book, but he had the subtle humor and gentle manner that could only be Dumbledore's. Wormtail could never have pulled off that personality. My friend argues that while the picture did appear, we never saw Dumbledore speak from it, so maybe it's a fake. He isn't sure how Dumbledore got his personality to come across, but thinks it's rather more complicated than a polyjuice potion. He's fairly certain the whole thing was a setup of some sort to make Voldemort think that Dumbledore is dead and Snape is loyal. As for RAB ... Regulus Black! That one never even occurred to me. Regulus was Sirius's brother. I'm thinking now that I'm going to have to read the whole series again. Too much time has passed and I've forgotten too much.

I have another friend who believes that Harry himself is the last horcrux. Perhaps Voldemort never really tried to kill him, but instead intentionally transferred a part of his soul into Harry. I need to reread what was said about horcruxes now to see whether I think that would be possible. I do vaguely remember Voldemort being able to see things through Harry, so maybe he did it so that he could keep an eye on things in Hogwarts. I think this is an interesting theory, but it seems that Voldemort has tried to kill Harry more than once since he started at Hogwarts, and I'm not convinced he'd do that if Harry were a horcrux, assuming people can be horcruxes. Perhaps he was only pretending to try to kill Harry all those times, to make Dumbledore and his people work even harder to keep him safe, thus keeping Voldemort alive, as well. If this theory were true, Voldemort could never be killed unless Harry died, as well. Oh, the horror! Mike, this is an interesting theory, to be sure, but I have to say that I like the other theory better, as it sounds like it will have a happier ending for all but Wormtail.

I'm going to reread the book, but not until I finish This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, by Frank Peretti. The library is no doubt getting annoyed with me for renewing these books for what seems like the umpteenth time (I was going to say gazillionth, but that's such an exaggeration. Unlike umpteenth, of course.) I may even reread the first five Harry Potter books, as well. Once I get back to the Half-Blood Prince, though, I'll read it slower and I may revisit these theories just so I can actually sound like I know what I'm talking about. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 04, 2005



As I wrote the post on gypsies, I was distracted by a video called "Untitled," by Simple Plan. It is probably the most powerful video I've ever seen, focusing on the tragedy of drunk driving. The scene that most affected me was the cars going into slow motion as they came nose to nose, then rather than showing the impact of the cars, they showed the impact in the victim's home. If you have time, this is worth watching. In my humble opinion, this video deserves an award. I was going to tack this onto the end of the "Gypsies" post, but decided it was worthy of its own post. Bring the tissues, leave the beer behind, and click
here to go to Simple Plan's website and watch "Untitled."


Walkden Fun Fair

I've been thinking a lot about gypsies for the past month. It turns out I had a lot of misconceptions about them. In fact, I thought I'd better do my research before writing, and it turns out that even my corrected conceptions were misconceptions. Let's just start with my original misconceptions.

I was under the impression that gypsies were dark, mysterious, beautiful, romantic, and a little dangerous. I wouldn't think it a good idea to trust them to babysit your wallet or your babies. I had heard of Romani gypsies, and had decided all by myself that Romani must mean they were from Romania or somewhere around there. I had absolutely no idea where they lived now, though I imagined they lived in lavish tents, moved frequently, and gathered around campfires every night. I thought all the women dressed like belly dancers and wore coined belly-dancing belts. All the men, of course, would wear bandanas covering their hair and be dangerously seductive. The children would be dusty urchins well-trained in picking pockets.

Before any friends or families of gypsies, or actual gypsies, start sending in their complaints, let me reinforce that I acknowledge that this was a misconception, and I apologize for any offense. If it's any consolation, when I heard I was moving to Texas at the tender age of eight years old, I figured I'd have to learn to ride a cow to school and would never see trees or grass again. I just tend to fill in any blank spots in my knowledge with my overactive imagination.

While we were in England, we were taken to a funfair in Walkden. Our host (and the source of my newest set of misconceptions) shall remain nameless. The whole funfair seemed to be run by one family. I named them father, mother, oldest sister, oldest sister's baby, oldest brother, sensible sister, pretty sister, youngest sister, and youngest brother. There were a few more I couldn't really place, so I designated them cousins. Our host informed me that this was a family of gypsies, and I was immediately fascinated. They weren't dark or beautiful, they didn't seem terribly mysterious, and they sure didn't seem romantic, though I thought they might still be a little untrustworthy, if not exactly dangerous. Father looked a little intimidating and was weathered by the sun. Mother was also weathered by the sun, but could have passed for any farmer's wife. Oldest sister was heavy and her baby was chubby, and neither one ever got up or moved from their resting places (that I saw,) and she kept sending youngest brother off for food from one of the cousins' stands. Oldest brother was fun to watch as he danced to the earsplitting music, but I was wary about watching him openly, so I watched out of the corner of my eye, feigning indifference. He seemed to think he was pretty sexy, but I just thought he was pretty funny. At least he was happy. Sensible sister was in her early teens and came across as the girl next door. Pretty sister was braided and made up and stood around posing a lot near oldest sister. Youngest sister shocked me into judgmental silence when she stood right there next to oldest sister and smoked a cigarette. She was no more than twelve, tops, if that old. Youngest brother was in his early teens, and seemed very pleased with himself that he was in charge of rides.

Overall, they looked like an average family. No dark hair except for oldest brother, and most were shades of dark blonde or light brown. Not a single coined belly-dancing belt in sight, which was probably a good thing. Our host explained to me that according to English law, gypsies were allowed to set up camp on any land, private or not, as long as they moved on within a specified amount of time. My new image of gypsies was this: lower income families, some of whom ran funfairs, undereducated children who were allowed to smoke and have children at very young ages, pitching tents in people's front yards or in pastures as they moved through the country.

After researching these things to be sure I wasn't going to lie to my readers, I realize I was wrong again. To summarize the things I've learned about gypsies: there are several types of gypsies, Romani being one type. Romani gypsies are not from Romania, but from India. When the gypsies came to Europe, Europeans just knew they were from somewhere vaguely non-European, like maybe Egypt. They were called, among other things, Egyptians and 'Gyptians, which is where the term 'gypsies' comes from. While they might have once had the reputation (or nearly) that I assigned to them in my original misconception, they are modern people who wear jeans and live in trailers (caravans) and move from caravan site to caravan site. The Caravan Sites Act is a little more complicated than allowing gypsies to set up on someone's front yard. As I read about their history and their lives, I was ashamed for being so judgmental. It's not a life I would envy, though they seem to be, for the most part, very proud of their heritage. Last but not least, most of the funfairs are put on by traveling families who belong to a Showmen's Guild and are not considered gypsies. I think after all is said and done, I'm mostly disappointed that they don't wear coined belly-dancing belts. Call me shallow. Read more about Romani culture and history here.

Related article: "Rome's Tiny Thieves: Mischief at the Coliseum"

Monday, August 01, 2005

Daddy's Boy

Daddy's Boy

Layth is officially a Daddy's boy now. Neither Justin nor Layla had a distinct preference, and Mina was definitely a Mama's girl. This is my first experience with being shunned by my own child, and I have to say, while it has its advantages, I don't like it much. On the one hand, I don't have to change his diapers or carry him when he gets tired, but on the other hand, I don't get to kiss his boo-boos or tuck him into bed at night. I've resorted to taking advantage of the few times he asks me for something to get a big squeezy hug and a kiss first. I know he still likes me, and he's happy to see me in the morning, but it's Gaga (Mina's version of "Daddy" ... we don't know how or why, but it stuck) he calls for when he's hurt, tired, hungry, dirty, or finished sleeping.

K started his first day in private practice today, so Layth is going to have to get used to me again. I find that it's really not so bad to be the one depended on for everything. Now that I've had a taste of what it's like not to be needed so much, I think I'd rather play mommy than have all that time to myself. I know the day will come when I won't have a choice. Although he's still asking for Gaga quite a bit this morning, he seems to accept that he'll have to settle for me while Gaga's at work, and we even put big-boy underwear on this morning and transitioned the stand-alone potty onto the big potty. So far, so good, and very few complaints from the Daddy's boy. I'm not redundant yet!