Thursday, October 30, 2008


Mihret throws the ball to my parents' dog - Angel. Listen for, "Angel! Ball!" and "Go get it!"

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Tagged by:

We’ve been tagged to come up with seven facts, but since all three of us post to the blog (Josh, Kara and Mihret) I’m going to try to divide up the factoids a bit. Let’s see how I do.

(For those of you who claim that Mihret never writes anything here, I would like to point out that while she does, they are mostly angry political screeds that we set as protected. We don’t feel her opinions on the possible presidents should be published until her arguments extend past “No way!” and “Obama, shoes on!” and, when asked who the president should be, states something besides, “Daddy do it!” Clearly, she doesn’t understand that I must be at least 35 years old to assume this position, so it’s hard to take her other stances seriously.)


Seven Totally True Facts, As Far As You Know:

1. Kara and Josh have performed music for three weddings. In all three cases, none of the people getting married had ever heard Josh play the piano or sing until the day before, or the day of, the wedding. The first time we performed for a wedding, the man officiating asked us if we had a business card – to which we replied, sure, if the couples in question were willing to fly us to Pennsylvania to perform.

2. Our first child was originally going to be adopted from Kazakhstan, a country hardly anyone had heard of until the movie “Borat” came out. We never got past the initial paperwork, as we didn’t meet one of Kazakhstan's adoption regulations.

3. Kara is an award-winning poet.

4. Josh has been a judge in two different film festivals – The Wildwood Film Festival, and Films on the Fox.

5. Mihret has, on one occasion, spoken two very full sentences back to back. They were, “I’m sitting in the water,” and “I shouldn’t throw the toys. Shouldn’t throw them.” We’ve captured these on video, but they will not be shown here as proof because they were taken in the bathtub. Rest assured, however, that my mother knows speech pathologists, and both of these phrases were authenticated by professionals.

6. Despite that fact that Josh is a journalist, columnist, award-winning screenwriter, and has been working as a professional writer for the last four years, the last writing or English class he took was as a senior in high school.

7. Kara's memories of what movies she has watched is sometimes hilariously weak. Many is the time she’s gotten halfway through a movie, turned to me, and said, “I think I’ve seen this before…” To be fair, my memory for names is terrible, and when pressed to the names of friends or family members at a moment’s notice, my brain will frequently stick the name down a mental well, allowing me access to it only after several hours have passed.

We tag:


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cuteness and Development

A sampling of vignettes from the daily adventures of Mihret, who turns 2 on Jan. 28, 2009:

The scene: Walgreens, during what should be the kiddo’s dinner time, only we need to pick up some medications.

The problem: The folks at Walgreens have tried to substitute a generic for Kara’s meds, which is a big no-no. We have been running around doing nothing for fifteen minutes, and the wee one is bored.

Finally, we get paged.

I walk over to the medication dispensing section of the store, and wait in line. Again.

We get to the front of the line, and I start paying for the medication.

Another woman behind the counter sees that Mihret is a bit fussy, and hands her a coloring book.

Mihret: Color book!

She takes the book and starts to flip through the pages, as though she were reading People magazine.

Woman Behind the Counter: Um… how old is she?

Me: 17 months.

Woman Behind the Counter: Uh…

Me: Yes, I know. She’s very smart.


The scene: Culver’s restaurant. Mihret has gotten tired of sitting her seat because she is done eating, so we put her on the booth’s bench with us. Mihret proceeds to look over the back of the bench, where other people are eating.

A woman turns around and sees Mihret:

Woman: Hello.

Mihret: Hello.

Woman: Who are you?

Mihret: Mihret!

My mom, who is sitting across the booth from me and Kara, physically demonstrates that she is shocked by Mihret’s ability to self-identify.

My Mom: I didn’t know she could do that.

Me: I didn’t either.


Mihret has slowly been learning how to string sentences together. These can be hilariously random.

The one that cracks me up every time is when Mihret walks up to me, points at my feet, and announces: Daddy, shoes on!

Mostly because I wonder why it’s so important that she has to point it out. Who is she telling? I know my shoes are on. Perhaps she’s letting me know that she knows?


Recently, Mihret has started pulling her shoes off in the car. At first, I thought it was because of the kind of shoe she was wearing – some white patent leather things that can easily be slipped off.

But then she started doing it with her sneakers, which are pretty firmly Velcroed.

Once, while we were sitting and waiting at a stop light, I discovered that both of her shoes and socks were off – a habit I hope she gets out of before winter fully hits around here.

I reached an arm back and twitched my fingers over her feet until she giggled. “Tickle toes!” I said.

For about a week, our little one kept pulling off her shoes and socks. At which point, she would, without fail, cry out, “Tickle toes!” until I got to a light and could perform the magical act of toe tickling.


Back when walking was still a kind of new trick in Mihret’s arsenal, a friend of mine called her not-yet-two daughter over.

“Watch this,” she said. She took her little one by the hands and said, “Jump! Jump!” and her daughter dutifully leapt into the air.

“Did you see that?” said my friend. “She actually jumps with both feet off the floor. That’s a really big deal.”

“Oh,” I said. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

Last weekend, my daughter started jumping in the air, taking both feet off the ground. She wasn’t being supported by me, or Kara, or any furniture. She was just jumping in the middle of the room.


I am starting to suspect that Kara and I might spend a little too much time on the computer.

If the computer is off, Mihret isn’t all that interested in it.

But if the computer is on, she will:

Ask to sit in the computer chair.

Tap on the keyboard, as if she were typing.

Move the mouse around, and click the buttons.

Pick up the nearby phone and say, “Hello!” into it.

I’m considering finding her some work in an office with a reasonably low Words Per Minute typing requirement. I doubt a lot will get done in that office, but it’ll be the friendliest place to work, ever.


Mihret is not the world’s greatest shopper, but she does enjoy putting groceries away.

The shopping part is rough because she can’t really do all that much in the shopping cart, and as a bonus, mommy and daddy are constantly putting new and exciting things into the basket behind her and then refusing to let her play with them.

So we try to shop fast, because at the end of the trip, we’ve pretty much devolved into the “let’s scream and see how much it echoes in the big store.”

Home is another matter, though, because we set all the bags on the floor and let Mihret take things out and hand them to us.

If she knows what something is, she’ll identify it. Which is hilarious, because we’ll be standing by a cupboard, putting something away, and suddenly hear, “Yogurt!” and have to turn around and take the yogurt from her and put it in the fridge.

The only flaw in this plan came to light when Mihret couldn’t identify a few things. Kara kept saying, “Thanks, honey,” every time Mihret would give her something. So unidentified objects became, “Honey!”


Friday, October 17, 2008

Planet Bed ™

Mihret, pre-Planet Bed era, finding out how much fun an empty laundry basket can be. (Photo taken in June 2008)

One of the things pretty much any parent will tell you is that kids need routine.

Having been a parent for a little over a year, I question this somewhat. If you’re like me, and you take your kids to day care five days a week, you’re probably all too aware of the fact that trying to maintain that same schedule on a weekend is impossible.

For example, at my day care, they put kids down for a nap at noon.

Which I guess works fine for anyone who goes to church at eight AM on Sundays, and is out by nine, but which doesn’t work at all for folks like us, who finish church at noon and really, really need feed their kiddo, rather than allowing them to fall asleep with an empty tummy.

Because what kind of parent does that?

I even question how well the bedtime routine “works,” on the whole. I imagine that if there are kids who have problems going to sleep on a regular basis, that maybe they benefit from having a regular, “Okay, first we do this, then we do that,” routine.

But our kid?

When we first brought the wee one home, this was the routine:

At 7 PM, we’d go upstairs and start the bathwater running.

We’d get her undressed, and then put the little one into the tub and give her a semi-thorough scrubbing.

Then we got her out of the bath, dried her off, lotioned her up, and put on her jammies.

One of us would give her a bottle while the other one read a story.

We would do prayers, and if Mihret was having trouble going to sleep at the time, one of us would rock her until she passed out.

Then she got a little older.

The story was the first thing to go. Mihret engages very easily – she’s a social butterfly, which can be a problem when we’re trying to get her to go to sleep when we have guests over.

So no more story, because we’d get to the end and she would be wide awake, instead of slowly moving into dreamland as she finished up her formula.

Then came the question of when to get rid of the bottle. After she was a year old, people started telling us horror stories about decayed teeth and other such maladies. But we weaned her off the bottle almost by accident. One night, she was just so tired that we put her down and she went to sleep without one.

The next night, we didn’t have formula upstairs, but we did have some water. So we gave her a couple sips of that and she went to bed.

We did the same thing the next night.

And I declared us bottle-free, and we cleaned all the dirty bottles and never used them again.

There have been other changes as well. We used to turn on a low-wattage lamp so she could have a night light, but after a few weeks she stopped going to sleep. So that went off.

Then we discovered that the hall light was sometimes enough to keep her awake with, so that goes off now, too.

And there have been other problems. There were a couple of weeks where she was waking up screaming, and we got some nice advice about that. The best guess we were offered was night terrors, we’ve gone back and forth between the problem being that or something teething related. From what I’ve read, teething may actually cause night terrors, which lines up pretty well with the issues we’ve had.

(Two teeth to go. I am so looking forward to those last two chompers poking out of her gums, so that her bottom stops getting red at the slightest provocation, and her nose stops doing the consta-run.)

Eventually, Mihret’s “routine” became a little bit less routine. We still have a bath most nights, and lotion most nights, and we always have some version of pajamas.

But she doesn’t really like to be held and/or cuddled anymore just before bedtime, and even if she wants water, she’ll only drink about an ounce and then be done. So we started handing her a sippy and letting her wander around or play with us until 7:30, depending on what mood she was in.

We still do prayers, but we say them as we’re getting into bed, and they’re usually met with a very enthusiastic “Amen!” from the tiny one.

Over the last few months, however, we’ve grown (Kara more so than I) sad about the fact that we lost the nightly bedtime story. Pretty much any teacher will tell you just how important reading to your kids is, and while we try to do it during the day, it always added a nice cap to the evening.

And then, Planet Bed was accidentally born.

The birth of Planet Bed arrived thanks to a collection of nearly-unrelated events.

Mihret has her very own laundry basket, which, from time to time, is devoid of clean laundry. On this particular evening, she stepped into the basket, sat down, and looked up at me. “Ride?”

I figured why not, and picked up the kid-filled basket and carried it through the four rooms upstairs – Mihret’s room, the bathroom, the office, and Kara’s and my bedroom.

As it happens, the bottom of the basket was sitting about mid-thigh on me, which is roughly the same height as our bed. Without really putting any thought into it, I solemnly declared, “We’re landing on Planet Bed.” Then I set the basket down, and Mihret stood up, and I plucked her from the basket.

Kara was lying on the bed, working on something-or-other, when this happened. So I asked her if she wanted to read Mihret a story. And Kara said, “Yes,” and I grabbed one of Mihret’s books which currently resides in our bedroom.

And I left the two of them alone to read.

It’s not that I don’t value family time, but I am well aware that a) Kara could use some extra Mommy-Daughter time, and b) another person in the room would just be a distraction.

When the story was over, I came in, picked up Mihret, and we did prayers as we headed back to her bedroom. And then there were good night kisses, and then it was sleepytime.

Afterwards, Kara and I pretty much agreed this was a nice idea, and that we should stick with it. Mihret was reasonably calm during storytime, and given the chance to read to her, Kara was happy to take it.

So we did it again the next night. “Get in your basket, honey. We’re going to Planet Bed.”

And then the next night. Only Kara wasn’t there, so I had to fly Mihret to Planet Bed, and then read her a book, and then fly her back. Which is tiring. She keeps getting bigger.

But last night, it all paid off. In the middle of bath time, I said, “Mihret, are we going to Planet Bed after we take our bath?”

And Mihret said, “Planet Bed!”

Once her jammies were on, she went over to the basket, and sat down, and I picked her up, and she got her ride.

And when she landed, she said, “Planet Bed!”

I can’t say that I think routines are always necessary. But they can be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Beegabug

(Kara's photo addition and caption: Mihret sports her "beegabug" onesie. "Don't Bug Me," it tells the political phone-survey peeps. Kara's shirt says, "Talk Nerdy to Me." She'd prefer to be reading instead of answering the phone. Josh, that day, was wearing a shirt that said "I Make Stuff Up." Very fitting for a fiction writer and screenwriter!)

In order to fully appreciate this story, you’ll have to know a couple of things.

Our home is not a terribly political one. We have our beliefs, and we do our best to carefully consider who we vote for. But Kara, in particular, keeps her views to herself because she’s a member of the press.
Despite the fact that Mihret can say words like “helicopter” and “new diaper, please,” so well that people who aren’t around her all that much can understand her, she is unable to say the word “ladybug” – instead, she says beegabug.

It was bath time, and as per usual, Mihret was sitting in the tub playing with her toys. This has its own entertainment value, most nights.

Lately, she’s been playing with her beegabugs a lot. There are four of them. A “mommy” beegabug, which is large and has a flat back, and three smaller beegabugs, which fit onto mommy’s back.

They can also all float around the tub on their own.

Mihret will do any number of things with the beegabugs. Sometimes she pushes them around separately, sometimes she shoves a few of them closer to the front of the tub, and a few to the back, and then yells out “beegabug” and points, which is my cue to float them all back towards her.

Last night, the phone rang during bath time. I could tell someone was asking for me, because Kara started asking who was calling. I yelled out that she should tell whoever it was that I was giving our daughter a bath.

Instead, Kara brought the phone into the bathroom.

I sighed, and wiped off my hand on a towel, and took the phone from Kara.

Me: Yes?

Phone Person: So-and-so is running for thus-and-such. Can we count on you to vote for so-and-so on Election Day?

Mihret: Beegabug!

Me: I’m sorry, but I’m still looking at the issues, and I haven’t determined who I’ll be voting for just yet.

Mihret: Beegabug!

Phone Person: (Who, by the way, sounded about fourteen. What, does so-and-so have their kid making phone calls?) So you’re undecided?

Mihret: Beegabug!

Me: Yes.

Mihret: Beegabug! Beegabug!

Phone Person: Thank you for your time, sir. Have a nice evening.

Mihret: Beegabug!

Me: (In my brain: What, you’re not going to try to convince me to vote for so-and-so? I guess you don’t like your parent very much.) You too.

Mihret: Beegabug!

Me: I’m getting the sense that I should vote for Beegabug.

Mihret: Beegabug!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bye, Pee!

Music by: M. Patterson

Lyrics by: M. Patterson

Performed by: M. Patterson

Things to note about this video:

It was totally spontaneous. She wanted to play the toilet, and we let her, because it made us laugh.

"Bye, pee!" is one of her many new phrases. Yes, we're getting ready for toilet training. No, we're not planning on starting in the next few days, or anything, but the sooner you introduce the potty, the better.

(For the record, we have taught her other things. She can now identify an astonishing number of body parts, for example. She knows the word helicopter, and can say it so you can understand it, and most importantly knows what a helicopter is.)

Check out her playing. Although she doesn't do it for a long time, she's very much in rhythm. I'm not saying she's a great drummer, but the girl can carry a beat.

That funny squeak at the end of the video is me losing it. What can I say? My little one makes me laugh.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Volunteering as a family

Josh, Kara and Mihret at The Building for Kids children's museum in downtown Appleton during the 2007 Boo Bash, an indoor community Halloween party for kids. We volunteered through Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis, a civic organization of which Kara's a member. Mihret, a.k.a. "Happy Feet," helped us run the beanbag toss.

Here's my latest column from The Post-Crescent (

September 29, 2008

Kara Patterson column: Volunteer work at different level now

At a recent church rummage sale, I came away with a unique 10-cent find. I'd never seen a book like it before.

It's a flat, hardback journal from Aid Association for Lutherans that helps families document the volunteer projects they complete.

There are spaces for photos and reflections on experiences, and pages for writing down "wish lists" of what to do next.

With our 20-month-old daughter, Mihret, there are limitations on what community service we can undertake as a family. But it's important to us that she's right there with us whenever it's safe and feasible.

Last fall, we stroller-walked Appleton's Memorial Park during the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Walk, a fundraising and awareness-raising event for the local affiliate, NAMI Fox Valley.
We stopped at rest stations along the way to give a bottle or change a diaper, and were one of the last teams to finish. But we felt good that we had stepped out as a family to support NAMI.
We also brought Mihret when we ran a beanbag toss game at The Building for Kids' Boo Bash during Halloween week with the Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis Club.

Mihret dangled from my husband Josh's chest in a Baby Bjorn carrier in her penguin costume.
She was a good icebreaker, especially for the children who saw her and laughed, "Happy Feet!"
She made people smile and often her presence started conversations, especially with parents of other little ones.

The Boo Bash evening and the NAMI Walk are the first two photos that will go in our family volunteer journal.

Both events are coming around again, and we're looking forward to making more memories.
We're also excited for the time when, a few years from now, we can ask Mihret what's on her volunteer "wish list."

-Kara Patterson

Post-Crescent staff writer