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Thanks for Everything, Paul.

Turning on the tv just now, the first thing I heard was that Paul Newman had died.  What a man he was, what an example he set.  My thoughts are with his family in their pain; I hope they truly understand how much this anonymous Californian, along with so many others, appreciated what their husband/father/brother/grandfather did for others through the opportunities he was given.  He set a standard of citizenship that is hard to meet but always worth aiming for.  Thank you, Paul, for everything.  And yes, you're forgiven for "The Silver Chalice."

Yesterday was my last Friday morning with BabyJ.  I am going to miss that beautiful little dude.  Yesterday I taught him 'ghost' and 'bat' through the aid of a board book with a Halloween theme.  BabyJ liked saying 'ghost'--that was a fun word to shape with his mouth and he happily exaggerated the long O sound, saying, "ghoooos," with his mouth a perfect circle of sound that would have pleased any choir director.  And after saying "ghoooos" several times, he went to a basket of soft toys and pulled out a small stuffed snowman, clearly identifying the white ghost with the white snowman.  Later I checked to make sure he had the connection between the words and the actual meaning, hiding the Halloween book in a pile of other books, then asking BabyJ to find a 'ghost.'  He went right to the proper book, opened it up and flipped through the pages, then triumphantly showed me the 'ghoooos.'  He did just as well then showing me the bat.

For our daily outing, I popped him in the stroller to take him to a park a few blocks away.  Usually, I don't use the stroller when taking him out, as I think outings for children should be times of exercise and exploration, but this time I needed it to take him further than he could go on his own little legs.  The playground we went to was designed specifically for the youngest toddlers, with a very small climbing structure with little bitty steps and short little slides.  BabyJ liked being able to climb the steps without assistance, and happily went down the slides, but his real joy was the small grassy slope off to one side of the play area--he ran up it and down it and up it and down it, over and over again.  It was just the right degree of slope to be a bit of a challenge to his developing motor skills, a challenge he was easily able to meet.  

At the end of our morning together, BabyJ's lovely parents gave me a parting gift of a handmade potholder with an outline of his hand stitched on it and a $50 gift certificate to Borders.  What nice people.  It felt good to have my care of their baby recognized; I hope they go to many, many Sunday matinees so I can get occasional BabyJ fixes.  And now I have the fun of going into a bookstore and being able to buy books!  I knew right away what I would get: Robert Fagles' editions of "The Odyssey," "The Iliad," and "The Aeneid."  I've wanted the first two for a long time and was so pleased when I read that he followed them up with a translation of the third.  Now I get to go in and buy them, just for me and all for me.  If there is any money left over, I'll buy some "Thomas the Tank Engine" books, as they are BabyJ's favorites.  Then I'll be ready when his parents get to the point of letting me watch him over here instead of in their home.

Last night KidThree and I watched the presidential debate.  It was interesting.  Afterwards, we watched the commentary on MSNBC and FNC both, so I could see how each side was spinning things.  I thought John McCain did better than I expected he would: he was stronger, and spoke more clearly (mostly) than usual.  It was fun watching him flub the name of the president of Iran (which you notice I'm not trying to remember how to spell, but which I can at least pronounce).  I'd like Barack Obama to stop saying "let me be clear," as it sounds a little too professorial, a trait which seems to bother a lot of people, and I say that as a strong Obama supporter.  I'm sorry they got so wrapped up in the economic crisis that foreign policy didn't get as long a time as it should have.  I'd like to have seen Obama nail McCain more on the failings of the Bush administration, as they are so egregious and so numerous and such obvious targets for puncturing.

KidThree's 'cousin' who was shot down in LA was only twelve.  The reports so far are that she was grievously injured but should pull through.  The shooter was apparently aiming at her older brother, a gang member.  Sigh.  KidThree awoke from a nap yesterday thoroughly freaked out from a nightmare in which her bio-mother's home came under gunfire while she (KidThree) was helpless inside.  All I can do after my girl has those dreams is get on the bed with her and put an arm around her and listen as she recounts her dream and her fear.  It is such a helpless situation, to be so totally unable to protect her from the demons from her past that still live in her head.

R.I.P., Paul, thank you for everything.

A