One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Health news: Annika is doing well. The diuretic has pulled off the fluid that left her so swollen, and she's back to wearing her regular clothes (I had to go buy her some 10/12 shirts to cover her tummy a few weeks ago). She does still approach the world belly-first, poking her rounded tummy out in front of her in a wildly exaggerated manner, like Shaggy after too many Scooby Snax. But, overall, she's feeling pretty great. The girls and I have been spending hours in our yard together. We added a butterfly garden behind the playset, which sounds like an incredibly kid friendly idea until you take into account the fact that Frankie shrieks like a horror show teen queen at the sight of anything vaguely bug-like. We had a little snack break at the zoo recently, which attracted a few flies. To avoid Frankie's banshee howls, I had to fan my arms in front of her non-stop to ward off any flying creatures. I can always hope that butterflies will be more magical and non-threatening to her, but I'm not holding my breath, given the fainting spells over the sweetest little ladybug that happened into our house last week. frankie at the park, with treasures Our trusty Black & Decker electric mower stopped working last week. A quick check on-line to estimate the cost of getting it going again revealed that our mower had actually been recalled nearly 4 years ago for a malfunction that could damage the mower and cause damage to person and property. Exactly what kind of damage wasn't specified, but my mind went busily to task constructing all sorts of nightmarish scenarios involving flaming clothes and fire detectors with dead batteries. After having Jörg replace all fire detector batteries,* we tried to call the manufacturer, only to miss their closing time by 3 minutes. It was Friday, and I was pretty sure that the grass would be high enough by Monday that I would have to keep the girls inside, for fear of losing one of them in the turf grass jungle. So I borrowed our neighbors' gas-powered lawnmower. Then I spent the rest of the day with a woozy headache from breathing in all that stinky exhaust. Plus I couldn't keep my hands still, as the memory of that tremoring lawnmower handle still worked the muscles. I know that probably 95% of my neighbors here in town use gas mowers, but I still have to say, "Yuck. Why?" Afterward I felt like I was in some suburban reenactment of that famous scene from Apocalypse Now: the one where the soldiers are surfing on the beach while the crazy captain?/sergeant? paces with his cigar, the one who later watches the helicopters bombing the jungle and inhaling deeply says, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Except for in this version it would be a bunch of suburbanites drowning out the birdsong, and the line would have to be, "I love the smell of gasoline on the weekend." Since we couldn't wait the weekend to find out if the malfunction listed in the recall notice was responsible for the breakdown, we decided to look into reel mowers. Our lawn is already bigger than is recommended for electric mowers, but I always worked around this by just mowing the front one day and the back yard the next. So I had my reservations about a reel mower, which is usually recommended for even smaller sized lawns. Jörg, the European raised in the land of postage-stamp-lawns, thought a reel mower was a great idea from the very beginning, but since I was the one doing the yardcare, I pretty much got veto power on the issue. But even the corded electric mowers were expensive (the rechargeable ones were completely out of question), and I didn't relish having to swing an electrical cord over my head every time I changed directions. I could already see the girls trying to teach themselves to jump rope with the fun, bright orange cord as I labored away obliviously. So I flexed my arm muscles a few times, just to reassure myself what a powerful woman I really am, and we bought a reel mower. I can't believe that we didn't discover the pure one-with-nature joy of reel mowers sooner. The backyard, with its scraggly, struggling grass is super easy to cut through, with no repeat passes necessary. The front lawn has a bit of a slope and the grass is in better shape (no shade trees), so I have to go over the grass twice and my arms feel all rubbery spaghetti afterward (except for not skinny like spaghetti). But that extra work is more than made up for by the completely entertaining silliness of watching the grass fly up in the air as I push the mower along. When I get going really fast, the grass shoots up in the air just like hair in a cartoon with a barber holding scissors in both hands and working too fast for the eye to follow! Or just like when Edward Scissorhands did lawn work! Fun! Best of all, though, is that I can cut the grass and still conduct conversations with my girls. Frankie will go off to entertain herself happily in the sandbox while I'm working outside, but Annika begins to go into communication withdrawal if she's out of conversational contact for more than, say, 45 seconds. Although having to stop and restart an electric mower to hear a question is not such a big deal, it did get kind of annoying. Now we can continue chatting while I trot along, happily Edward Scissorhands-ing my grass. The rest of the week has me composting the flower bed out front, planting zinnia seeds in the bare spots behind the play area, and planting tiny redbud trees for some much needed patio shade. If you're looking for me around town, I'll be the woman with brown-rimmed nails.** *Jörg has proven himself wonderfully responsive to my brain's feverish overworkings. When I told him that I had had repeated nightmares in which our car went off a bridge into a river and I couldn't open the windows, he bought and installed one of those windshield breaking tools for my car. I think it's great that he works to structure our waking lives to ease the stress of my sleeping life. Or it could be that I always sit him down and recount my bad dreams to him in painful detail. I think he would do nearly anything not to have to listen once more to any of my dream stories, which I usually intone with a dramatic air. I probably should stop watching Medium. **You'd think I'd learn my lesson and wear gloves in the garden. Last year I was digging by hand in the raised flower bed out front and stuck my hand right into into some excruciatingly fresh dog doo. Thanks, helpful dog, but I prefer my soil nutrients a bit less odiferous.


Blogger Rev Dr Mom said...

Good for you for buying a reel mower! NPR was just talking about all the exhaust from gas mowers, and the lobbying against requiring emission controls for them. I wish more people would do what you did!

Glad to hear Annika is doing well.

4/26/2006 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a glorious post. I'm thrilled to hear that Annika's doing so well, that the spring is bringing you so much pleasure. Also, this has got to be one of your best lines ever: "I think it's great that he works to structure our waking lives to ease the stress of my sleeping life."

xo Catherine

p.s. Your arms are going to be so sexy.

4/27/2006 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Sounds like you're having a good time--yay!

4/27/2006 6:23 AM  
Blogger DevilMacDawg said...

Hooray for posts about lawn mowers and other mundane household hoo-hah! That just, well, makes me smile. You've now given me fodder to investigate these reel mowers and electric mowers of which you speak. Sounds intriguing, especially in light of the new postage stamp with house I now possess!

4/27/2006 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Crystal said...

What a great post! So happy to hear normal happenings around the house! I am happy to hear that Annika is doing well, and hope to hear more fun Edwardscissor-ing stories soon!

4/27/2006 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Becca - Natalie's mommy said...

Yeah for normal posts...but...ummm...yeah, not giving up my gasoline powered lawn mower monster anytime soon. If I did that, Jason wouldn't mow for me anymore. And postage size lawn, we do not have!

Much love to you and yours!

4/27/2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

We do have teh postage stamp-sized yard and a reel mower. I love the little click-click-click noise it makes. I wish it did a better job of hacking down knee-high weeds, though. What? You say that if I mowed the lawn more frequently, I wouldn't have knee-high weeds?

Huh. I never thought of that.

Glad to hear that Annika is doing well!

4/27/2006 8:47 AM  
Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

Yayayayayayayay for normalcy in the Falling Down household! (And I have one of htose window breaker things, too

4/27/2006 9:20 AM  
Anonymous jeanette1ca said...

Welcome to reel mowers, but please remember that small stones, glass or ceramic chips, can fly just as high and fast as those grass clippings- and cause a great deal more damage. Goggles for you, please, and a 20 foot radius between mower and children, and emphasize that they must not run up to you until you stop pushing the mower. Thank you, and I'll return now to my usually identity as a lurking well-wisher!

4/27/2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

We've been using a reel mower for years now and it really is a joy of summer for us (and we were happy to move out our rental and back into our house so we could go back to mowing). I love the swish swish swish noise it makes when it cuts and the fact that Emily can play outside and alongside the mower with no fear that she'll be blinded for life by something shot out of the shoot. :)

AND you can mow your grass and six a.m. and no one cares (I know. I did it once or twice).

I'm glad Ani is doing well. Enjoy. :o)

4/27/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Hooray for a happy week!

My word is kepmwaq

Question: What is the number one reason students drink coffee during finals week?

Answer: kepmwaq

4/27/2006 5:10 PM  
Blogger angela marie said...

Good job on the grass, but that would never do with our 2 1/2 acres of land. :)

Medium...I love watching that show and everytime I say something about a 'feeling' I have, my husband rolls his eyes and says that I am no Allison DuBois. harumph!

4/28/2006 9:39 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Becca - you know I'm not hating on the gas mower folks. I just don't understand their allure. But I have always had a supremely sensitive nose. A whole "Princess and the Pea" thing going with odors.

Phantom - Yes, those dandelion heads just pop right back up like a little whack-a-mole game going on. But on the other hand, even when I chopped them down with the electric mower, they grew back in about 30 seconds anyway. So I figure I'm not giving up much.

Jeanette - Thank you for the safety reminder. I usually sport sunglasses while mowing, and the great thing about the mower is that the kids can actually stay back and still chat with me, it's that quiet. Of course, I did let them "help" me push the thing around. But, believe me, we were going so slow at that point that there was nothing shooting up *at all*. Of course most of the stuff that might shoot up and be dangerous just jams the blades, since it's not really made for going over anything but grass. And I haven't actually gotten good enough to make anything shoot up higher than 6 inches or so - I guess we all need goals!

Liz - good for you for actually getting your word three times correctly. I usually have to reenter several times before I can post. Puzzle master I am not.

4/28/2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

Very happy that your little one is doing much better. What a wonderful day!

4/28/2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

How nice to hear some good news. I'm glad things are going well.

4/29/2006 2:53 AM  
Blogger Liesl said...

I'm so glad to hear everyday stories from you, Moreena :)

I didn't know reel mowers are even made anymore. Our gas mower scares our 2-year-old. He doesn't like loud noises, and "Big Mow-Mow" is just a loud noise on wheels. I will have to check on tha availability of reel mowers around here.

4/30/2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woo hoo - I love yard stuff!!! Although we use a gas mower. We have a little over an acre - and if we didn't use a riding mower - I'd probably be dead by now. LOL Sad to say but gas weed eater and blower too.

I CANNOT stand to wear gloves when working outside. If digging, I will MAKE myself wear them - learning the consequences are usually nasty blisters! We can be twins - my nails look much the same! LOL

So glad Anni is doing well and enjoying this beautiful time of year. Pictures of the butterfly garden!


5/01/2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Juliane said...

Solidarity anti-gas mower compatriot!! But a Black and Decker electric lawn mower? Don't get me started with that retched excuse of a company and their insulting facade of a customer service department. Be grateful you were 3mins too late calling them! Seeing how you worked a miracle with the insurance companies, I don't doubt you would be successful in getting the spare part you needed to fix it; however, it took us several angry letters and increasingly hostile phone calls up the corporate food chain. We looked into replacing it but *all* the electric mowers for sale are B&D. I'd rather cut the lawn by hand than give them my money!

5/02/2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

We saw that Sears now sells their own brand of electric mowers, and we've always been nothing but happy with the appliances we've bought through them, and their customer service is pretty great, too. Worth looking into, I think.

5/03/2006 12:25 PM  
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