31 December 2006

the epistle

When I was a kid Christmas cards would arrive, often accompanied by what my parents referred to as "the epistle", a letter catching us up on all the news from the sender's little corner of the world.

It's been an eventful year at the threedogsandababy house so I thought it might be time for an epistle of our own. I didn't have the guts to send it though. For some odd reason, it seems perfectly fine to post it here.

This is my first attempt at a real, grown-up holiday letter so please be nice and don’t tell me that you put it into the recycling bin immediately after opening. It’s been a busy year and not everyone reads my blog. (Probably a good thing.) The most prevalent theme is CD’s travel. He made 11 trips this year. We will enjoy the frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards eventually but I hope he is able to cut back on his time away in 2007.

January: CD started his new job as Senior Software Engineer with Apple, working out of their Pittsburgh office but with a group based in Cupertino, CA. Penguin celebrated her 8th birthday.

February: Piper succumbed to an auto-immune problem at just 4 years of age. We are thankful she was ill for just a few days but miss her terribly. We created The Piper Fund for Post-mortem Research with the Clumber Spaniel Club of America in her memory, hoping to collect data that will lead to more investigation into Clumber health issues. It is going very well so far. Drop me an email if you’d like to purchase a 2007 calendar to benefit the Fund. The calendar is filled with photos of wonderful Clumbers and Piper herself graces the cover.

March: Nothing happened in March. Oh wait, we did go to Indiana for the Clumber national specialty, but I’m probably trying to block that week from my memory. It’s all kind of a blur since Oliver didn’t sleep much and I had the board and general meetings to attend to. CD shared the driving with me but spent the week in Dallas for IETF.

April: Oliver celebrated his first birthday, or rather, we celebrated surviving our first year as parents. Within weeks of his birthday he weaned, walked, and started sleeping through the night. It was a very good month.

May: CD had a work trip to Boston so Oliver and I went along, spending a few days with Kate in Spencer, MA and a day in Williamstown, before reuniting with CD and heading to Maine for Memorial Day weekend. Needless to say, walking and talking Oliver was a huge hit with the family.

June: Chewy celebrated his 12th birthday. He’s doing very well for his age. He sleeps a lot and doesn’t hear very much but still enjoys life, as long as his meals appear at the right time and he gets his tummy rubs.

July and August: CD traveled a lot, but was home long enough. Baby Daboo v2.0, the girl version, is expected to arrive in mid-April. I finally found out what CD was working on for Apple, thanks to Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC. Working at Apple is a little like working for an intelligence agency. Now that CD’s project is public and open source he can talk a bit about what he is doing without having to kill me.

September and October: CD got the news that he would not be asked to re-locate to Cupertino so I spent most of my time looking at houses. Real estate is fun! We found a house we like in a great location and closed on Halloween. Demolition on the kitchen, including began almost immediately. We are also gutting two, possibly three, bathrooms, removing windows, making other windows and doors larger, etc. Everything should be done by early March, just in time for me to be entirely worthless during the move. I will spend some of my maternity leave sending out change of address / baby announcement cards.

November: Leaving the house renovations in very good hands, we visited CD’s family in England. Oliver liked London Eye and the Zoo, but most of all he liked the bunnies that live with Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Sally, Caroline and Laura.

December: We are spending lots of time deciding on materials and fixtures for the new house. Our dear friend Jenni, who sang at our wedding, flew in from Omaha to help us with the decorating. All those off-white walls are overwhelming to me. Jenni is saving me from committing too many crimes of interior fashion. Alas, she had only 47 hours to accomplish the task. (Sounds like a bad reality show!) CD made trip number 11 just before Christmas, and nearly didn’t make it back in time to go to Maine for the holiday. I had not been there for Christmas since 1997. Other than the lack of snow, it was a great trip and Oliver had a wonderful time with all the relatives.

We hope all is well where you are and wish you all the best in 2007.

22 December 2006

like I just got screwed with my pants on

I have snippets of more interesting posts in process, but for now I'm just going to rant. My favorite airline strikes again, and in the words of Toby Ziegler, I feel "like I just got screwed with my pants on."

CD has spent this week in Cupertino, scheduled to get in late this evening. (Future rants: Once again, it sucks to be sick when CD is away. Petechiae makes me look like I got into a fight and lost.) Yesterday, we (and by "we" I mean CD) finally reached the conclusion that leaving at the o-dark-thirty tomorrow morning to drive to Tika's in Massachusetts was a bad idea, and bought plane tickets to Boston instead.

Now it gets fun....CD's flight is delayed, causing him to miss his connection. Everything is oversold so the gate agent tells him his only option is to go back to the ticket counter. He called me and I started exploring the options. They are all ugly. At this point it looks like he will get back to Pittsburgh around 11pm tomorrow, 7 hours after our flight to Boston is scheduled to leave. And even that requires him to change airports, from San Jose to San Francisco.

It remains to be seen if they will now refund our tickets to Boston. It seems like the right thing to do but that's an all too rare thing for my favorite airline.

Probably just as well. The family is only interested in seeing Oliver anyway.

UPDATE: Kudos to Orbitz for refunding all but $11.99 of the purchase price of our trip. And for not making me try to deal with the airline directly.

14 December 2006

so much for the glucose tolerance test

I really need this place to open in the neighborhood. I've been scooped by numerous other bloggers on this one, including a friend who referred to the flavors page as "cupcake porn". I think he's dead on. I know cupcakes are the new, well, something, thanks to Carrie Bradshaw's visit to Magnolia Bakery in 2000, so it's unusual for Pittsburgh to be so close to the start of a trend. We tend to hang out on the trailing edge, jumping on the bandwagon about the time the rest of the world is forgetting all about it. Lucky us.

They haven't announced an opening date yet. With any luck they will hold off until after my glucose tolerance test next month.


My new MacBook arrived yesterday. I'm probably the only person on the planet who willingly traded her MacBookPro for a MacBook, but the Pro was bigger, heavier, and hotter. It made me miss my 12" G4 PowerBook. The MacBook is as close as I could get to the size of the old PowerBook.

With all the baby weight I'm schlepping around (17 pounds as of this morning but doc says all is well), every ounce in my backpack matters. That it's black is just a bonus. I did have a white iBook once upon a time. It turned into the "crackle glaze" iBook. It seems Apple was painting whitish plastic to make it opaque and mine crackled. All the Apple reps who saw it claimed they'd never seen anything like it.

Oliver had no trouble with the transition to the new MacBook. As soon as I opened it last night he said, "Elmo Goo Goo?" Perhaps Santa will bring a matching video iPod....

12 December 2006

two words

"More cow" has been part of Oliver's vocabulary for a long time but there have not been a lot of other two word phrases, until now. He referred to his very chapped thumb as "boo boo" for many months. Suddenly this week it has become "boo boo thumb". Technically I guess that's three words, but you get the idea. Here are a few more favorites:

  • Mama sits (when he wants me to sit down with him, he also pats the spot he would like me to occupy)
  • ChewChew outside (when Chewy wants to be let out into the backyard - very useful when the babysitter doesn't notice him sitting by the door)
  • Mama cereal (this one was new today - I guess he's letting me know he knows it's not his cereal)
  • basketball game (guess what Oliver and CD did while I was shopping on Saturday?)
  • apple sauce (could be one word, I suppose)

There are more that I'm not remembering at the moment. He's in the midst of a real language explosion, beginning just before we left for England. He's visiting the Infant Language and Learning Lab Thursday. I may have to asked the PI about it, and what I can do to make the most of this interesting window of words.

11 December 2006


I didn't think it was possible, but I was out-shopped over the weekend by my friend JT. She flew in from Omaha to help me with some decorating decisions for the new house and ended up running circles around me. There are a few regular readers who have been shopping with me and know this is not an easy task. I don't usually give up unless I am out of money and sometimes not even then. I wanted to go home and she kept pushing me to look at one more rug, one more paint sample.

It was exhausting, but incredibly productive. For the kitchen, we chose the countertop, slate tile backsplash, pendant lights, and paint. We also selected paint for the dining and living rooms, and rugs for both rooms. Moving upstairs, we found linens, paint, and rugs for the master bedroom, and countertop, tile, and paint for the master bath.

My recommendation is NOT to look at lighting on the web. Too many choices. Between Thursday and Saturday I looked at something close to 1000 pendant lights and chandeliers. I think there were three or four that I liked.

There's still a ton left to do but we made a very good start, and CD didn't gag over any of the choices.

07 December 2006

happy happy happy

It's not at all difficult to make me happy. Three Four Five things that made me happy in the last 24 hours are, in chronological order:

a massage - I still feel like I'm a hundred years old but it was nice to relax for half an hour.

ordering beautiful christmas cards in an utterly painless fashion - I am really excited to send them out. It's always been a chore, except the year we had an artist paint the dogs and make cards for us.

a phone call at 7:30am from my dogs' groomer - She had a cancellation! Doesn't sound like much but when I called a few weeks ago the earliest appointments I could get were in January. Chewy is presently enjoying a day at the spa. He will be fluffy and clean soon.

discovering the Starbucks nearest my office will make a Mocha Valencia - It's not on the menu anymore but they are one of the few stores I have found who will make it. If you are a fan, be sure to email Starbucks and ask them to make it available more widely.

it's snowing! and sticking to the ground! - Again, not a big deal to most but I love the first snow. I'm tired of it by January but it's pretty right now.

8:20pm update: Okay, I think I might hate the snow already. The roads were icy when I went to fetch the dog (5 minute drive took nearly half an hour) and even worse when I went to fetch CD and Oliver (10 minute drive took 45 minutes). I slid sideways down two hills and lost count of how many accidents I saw. We had dinner with friends (just took way too long to get there) and by the time we headed home the roads were much better. Oliver likes Rose Tea Cafe. Yum. I love having a kid with an adventurous palette.

05 December 2006

the destruction continues

master bath
Demolition at the new house has moved upstairs to the bathrooms. It's a mess and I am very glad I don't have to live through it. Curiously, the master bath looks smaller now. Doesn't really make sense since the vanity, toilet and bathtub are gone. Shouldn't it look bigger?

Click the picture to go to Flickr and more photos taken this morning. The floor is down in the new kitchen, and the new opening for the sliding door is marked in pretty blue tape.

words of wisdom

This is brilliant. Everyone who knows a pregnant woman should read it. (Found via Blogging Baby.)

04 December 2006

alive and kicking

Despite not being able to feel this baby, she's doing fine and kicking away on my bladder, or so the ultrasound tech tells me. We had "the big ultrasound" today and all is well. Baby v2.0, the girl version, is the right size and all her parts seem to be in the right places. She's currently breech so the photos and video are a completely different look from Oliver's. And with luck, she will turn sufficiently in the right direction in time for delivery.

The jet lag has really kicked in and I can barely keep my eyes open. Coming home from the UK is always harder than going there. It didn't help that Oliver has forgotten how to fall asleep and suddenly does not want anything to do with blankets. He started sleeping poorly during the second half of our trip and it continues now that we are home. Last night I had to rock him for nearly an hour just to get 20 minutes of sleep before the cycle of rocking repeated. I am having a very hard time putting him down without waking him up, making me think the toddler bed plan, originally scheduled for January, may need to commence now. We were doing so well with sleep before the trip. We rocked for about a minute before Oliver started asking for his blanket and I could put him down in the crib still awake. He would chatter for a minute or two then drift off to sleep. Those days are apparently gone.

01 December 2006

p-p-p-pick up a peckish penguin

Peckish Penguins
I thought a day off after NaBloPoMo was probably in order, but then I started looking at photos from our visit to London Zoo yesterday and changed my mind.

The highlight for me, of course, was the penguins. By 2:15 they had all assembled next to their pool, looking for the keeper to appear with their meal. Unfortunately, the seagulls knew feeding time was coming too, though the keepers knew how to keep them from preventing our view of the penguins.

Oliver enjoyed the giraffes and lions too.

30 November 2006

getting lucky

No, not THAT kind of lucky...it seems my timing has once again been very, very good. First Javis Davis offered me free baby stuff. Today I received email from Jason, the founder of gDiapers, saying I was the 500th subscriber to the Yahoo! group for gDiaper users and he would like to send me a little something. Not sure if that will be gDiapers gear or something cool from Australia but whatever appears, free stuff is always fun.

We thought about trying gDiapers with Oliver but the local shops didn't carry them and I was too lazy to investigate them, and my plumbing, further. The company has really taken off so I'm optimistic I'll see them around here. (NOTE: Looks like there is one shop in Pittsburgh that is selling them, and the new house isn't far from them.) The renovations are giving me a chance to learn more about my plumbing and so far, the reports are fairly good. Now I will definitely have to give them a try when Baby v2.0, the girl version, arrives.

Here ends NaBloPoMo. The bitter end, in some ways. It's HARD to post every day and those bloggers who manage to do it without something like NaBloPoMo hanging over their heads have earned my admiration.

29 November 2006

noodad is for not so noomom too

I needed this yesterday. As is usually the way these things go, I read it a few minutes after I needed it.

One day left in NaBloPoMo. Still can't believe I am going to make it, barring unforeseen catastrophe. I'm really glad a month with 30 days was chosen. 31 might have been a stretch.

Even more surprising, however, is that there is actual blue sky to be seen here in Surrey and not a hint of a cloud (at this particular second). Tomorrow is predicted to be like this as well, which should be nice for our trip to London Zoo. We are going to celebrate the nice weather with a walk and a trip to Granny's (my mother in law's) for tea.

28 November 2006

eyes on London

Oliver enjoys the London Eye capsule
Oliver made his first trip to central London today, including a visit to London Eye. Click the photo to go to Flickr and see a few more photos of Oliver in the capsule. I was worried that he might be afraid but I could not have been more wrong.

We'd planned to go to London Zoo but were detoured into shopping instead, which probably does not come as much of a surprise. Fortnum & Mason, La Maison du Chocolat, the Apple Store on Regent Street (of course) and Hamley's were all visited. Found a terrific, and LARGE, wooden pillar box at Fortnum's. Should make a fine addition to Oliver's new room. Shipping it cost a fortune but at least we don't have to wrangle it on the planes. I should have taken a picture but I will try to remember to do so when it catches up with us in Pittsburgh.

Transportation from where we are staying in Surrey to the city is very easy. We are a five minute walk to the station where we catch a train to Waterloo. It was very dark when we came home as street lights are non-existent and it gets dark even earlier here than in Pittsburgh, but we found our way.

Rumor has it the floor in the kitchen at the new house goes down tomorrow, and the bathroom demolition will occur later in the week. Wonder what they are going to do until January when the cabinets arrive....

27 November 2006

the news from dampville

Rains a lot here. Windy too. We did see a patch of blue sky for a few minutes this afternoon, then it was gone.

Funniest moment thus far: Driving past a place selling garden sheds, spotting a huge sign that says "FREE ERECTION". (This is going to be a boon to my search engine hits, I'm sure....) Wish I had managed a photo. It's in a difficult spot on a busy, narrow road.

Off to London tomorrow. Oliver should enjoy the train ride. I hope he feels the same way about London Eye.

It's too bad I don't have Clumber with me. I could hear shooting when I was trying to take a nap on Sunday afternoon. Today there were beautiful male pheasants in the back garden. They looked a lot like a tasty meal to me.

26 November 2006


I need not have worried about successfully completing NaBloPoMo while in the UK. I'm here, and I'm posting. It seems Surrey is part of the civilized world after all. Not only am I posting, I'm sitting here with Oliver, watching his favorites on YouTube, connected via wireless. Just like home, except the people speak funny so very properly and keep offering me tea.

We seem to have slept well last night. Oliver for more than 14 hours, CD and I for about 10. Not having a clock in the bedroom can be a good thing.

It's raining here. Not much of a newsflash, I suppose. I really do like it here but November is not an ideal time to visit.

25 November 2006

hi-dee-ho man

My father would approve of our latest YouTube find for Oliver:

24 November 2006

off like a prom dress

We're off to London today, though I'm still no where near ready to go. Oliver can say London and the names of everyone he's going to see, but I'm sure he hasn't a clue what is really in store. I told him it was a "big day" today and he's been saying that a lot. Wonder if he knows the difference between "Big Dave" who he talked to on the phone yesterday, and "Big Day", that involves planes.

Wish us, and all of our fellow passengers seated within earshot, a lot of luck.

23 November 2006


It may be Thanksgiving but the best we can do is turkey meatballs with spaghetti tonight. Too much to do and not enough hours between now and our flight tomorrow. I don't even have time to blog. I'm hoping all of my regular readers are safely in their tryptophan comas by now anyway.

22 November 2006

demolition man

demolition man

This is the current view of the new house, looking from the dining room into the where the kitchen will be. Three walls are gone, the floor is gone, and the ceiling and outer walls are almost gone. Quite a change from Sunday when everything was intact.

living room, looking into kitchen

Another view, this time looking from the living room into the new kitchen. The existing opening is on the left. That will be filled in. The new opening, giving the cook a view to the living room, is on the right.

Quite a change since Sunday, when everything was intact. I only wish I'd been able to participate in the demo. I suspect it might have been very therapeutic.

Things are a bit different upstairs.

basking in the new room

Bathroom work hasn't started yet. Work in the bedrooms will be minimal. The floors need a light sand and some polyurethane, and the walls need paint. Oliver seems to like the size of his new room. I think I could probably fit three of his current rooms in there!

21 November 2006

the TLAs of pregnancy

Pregnancy is filled with those lovely TLAs, or Three-Letter Acronyms. For me it all started with an OPK, or "ovulation predictor kit", and an HPT, "home pregnancy test", and goes downhill rapidly from there.

My first doctor visit resulted in the letters AMA being printed large, and in red, on my chart. That's "Advanced Maternal Age", not "against medical advice"! They also asked for my LMP, which was July 11, so they could calculate my due date. This is used as the first day you're pregnant, though conception really happens about two weeks later. I would probably have to go to med school to figure that one out. Since I was charting my temp and other factors, I can tell you exactly when I ovulated, when any associated baby dancing was done, and thus can pinpoint conception within about 24 hours.

Around eleven or twelve weeks, we had the CVS, which we've talked about before. This told us baby v2.0 is a girl and she seems to be okay, from a chromosomal standpoint.

Last week, I had my AFP test done, another one that looks for birth defects. Thought I would hear something by Friday but didn't, and didn't remember to call my OB's office until 4:15pm, or 15 minutes after they closed. I called yesterday and they said they would call back. When they did call it was only to tell me they needed a consult with the genetics department but they'd call me again later on. Nope. No call. By this morning I was a wreck. I know the rate of false positives for the AFP is high, and a positive result only leads to more tests, but still, I was worried. I called again today and they assured me they had not forgotten me and they would call back when they knew something.

Finally, around 1:30pm, the call came that the test was "basically ok". Note to medical students out there: choose your words CAREFULLY!!!! I had to ask what she meant by "basically" and the doc said, "It's fine. All the x's are right in the middle." Whatever that means.... I think it means there is no increased risk of Down's or any of the other birth defects that can be linked to high AFP levels. That's my story and I'll be clinging to it for the next 20 or so weeks.

I was hoping we were now done with the TLAs for this pregnancy, but no, in about six weeks I need to have my GTT. Drink the nasty sprite-like liquid. Sit around the waiting room for a very long time. Give yet another blood sample. Hope mightily they don't decide to make you come back for the three hour version of the test.

And come next April, I hope to have a VBG and no PPD.

20 November 2006

if you knew sushi...

I am resisting the urge to save this for tomorrow. Let's hope I have something to say when tomorrow is today.

I'm not at all convinced this would solve my sushi craving problem, but I am willing to give it a try. And I happen to know someone heading to San Jose in a few weeks.

instant amnesia

I probably should have blogged about all the "button pushing" Oliver did last week but I was usually too fried by the late evening to re-live it. I know 19 month olds should be expected to test their parents and every boundary set by them but he really kicked it into over-drive last week. He pushed buttons I didn't even know I had. My "favorite" was his acting out when I arrived to pick him up at school. He would make sure I was watching and either climb onto a table or hit a friend. By the end of the week I started getting better about anticipating what he was about to do and would turn my back before he could act. It was mostly effective, though exhausting.

It's funny what a difference a few seconds can make. All Oliver had to do was utter two little words and I was stricken with instant amnesia. Last night I put him in his crib and tucked his duvet around him, patted his back twice and said what I always say, "Night night, Bunny. I love you." He doesn't usually say anything but last night he said, "love you." Button pushing? What button pushing? I don't remember any button pushing....

JT, a far more experienced parent than I, reminded me this is akin to why babies don't smile until they are a few weeks old. They wait until their parents are at the end of their rope from sleep deprivation and all the other things that go along with having a newborn. That tiny smile gives them a knot to hang on to. Apparently this concept isn't lost on toddlers.

19 November 2006

fair weather fan

I admit it. I'm a part-time Steeler fan. So many years in New England as a Patriots fan during the years they were known as "The Patsies" has made me feel like I deserve to enjoy the success they have had in recent years. As long as the Steelers and Patriots are not playing each other, I root for both teams to win. And when they do play each other, I lean towards the Patriots or stay neutral, knowing I'll have a team to call my own the following Sunday.

Now that it looks very much like we're staying in the 'burgh for the long haul, I should probably re-think that policy. Winning the last Super Bowl helped, of course. This year, it has been a bit more difficult but here we were today, rushing home to catch the end of the game. We were not disappointed, as the Steelers took the lead for the first time with 33 seconds to go. We've gone from defending Super Bowl champs to, "Wow, they've won two in a row!"

Just so you remember this is really a mommy blog, Oliver said, "Steelers" today. I'd try to spell it the way it came out but all of my attempts don't come close to doing his pronunciation justice.

Question for the Blogger users.....I'm going to be out of the country during the last week of the month and don't want to risk my thus far successful participation in NaBloPoMo. Since I don't seem to be able to schedule my posts ahead of time, do I have any options? I may have web access when I'm across the pond but I don't know for sure. What to do?

18 November 2006

day 18, still kicking

This is day 18 of NaBloPoMo, well past the halfway mark. I should be feeling pretty good to have made it this far, right? Nope. I wish. I seem to get to 9pm every night, after thinking at various points during the day of three or four cool things to write about, and decide I have nothing to say.

Today I thought about telling you all about what it's like to BFAR, the fascinating details involved in choosing a super-duper range hood or cabinet finishes, or perhaps the joys of taking one's 19 month old to have his hair cut. Bah. Bor-ing.

So, you're off the hook for today. I will try to be interesting tomorrow.

17 November 2006

not so tame after all

I think most of the new house is going to decorated with fairly neutral colors. I'm finding myself drawn to various shades of beige, khaki and cream lately. So when I had to choose something for the new nursery from Javis Davis, I was surprised that I kept going to back to some bright color combinations. I've always been a fan of bright colors but lately I have been choosing things like basic blue and sage green instead of anything more on the wild side.

So it was a bit of a surprise to type things like lime and fuschia and black when I was placing my order. I'll have to post some pictures when the blanket and pillow arrive. Later on I'll order a crib bumper and some fabric for curtains. I am hoping I can re-cover the rocking chair as I don't think Oliver's denim is going to work in his little sister's crazy room.

As for Oliver's room, I was turned on to a cool paint technique that looks like chambray fabric. And the person who suggested it even offered to help. It doesn't get much better than that. CD wants to put up chair rail in both kid bedrooms so we'll do the chambray effect on the bottom, and paint the rail itself RED.

The rest of the house may lean a bit towards boring but the kid rooms are going to be a lot of fun. It is such a relief to have a few ideas and a direction, even for a few rooms in the house. There is lots left to sort out but we're on our way. Demolition may begin on Monday!!! The architect emailed last night that he's eager to get started.

Tomorrow we finalize all the appliance decisions. I think CD is going to give in on his wish for a side-by-side fridge. (He's never tried to fit a pizza box in one!) The only real dilemma is the range hood. The kick-ass range needs a decent hood but we need to find one for less than the $1200 estimate. So far, the in-the-counter steamer/pasta cooker and the wine fridge remain a part of the plan. For how long, I don't know, but we are rapidly approaching the point of no return.

16 November 2006

decorating for the design-impaired

I'll be the first to admit I am challenged when it comes to color and design. On my best days, I can distinguish from what I like and don't like but I'm generally hard pressed to come up with a specific reason. I go with my gut, most of the time. Faced with the new house, which is largely a blank slate, I am overwhelmed. Enter my dear friend JT, with degrees in design and impeccable taste. She lives far away but has generously agreed to come to my rescue by visiting Pittsburgh in a few weeks. We've been emailing a lot, and she's seen pictures of the house so I am hoping that her short visit will be very productive. Fortunately for me, what I find terrifying is her idea of a good time.

I received some advice recently, telling me to look for inspiration everywhere. I may have taken that a little far when I emailed JT that I was thinking about using the colors found in an LL Bean dog bed for the living room. I think I probably need to start looking in more interesting places for my inspiration.

One of the many blank slates rooms in the new house in need of JT's help is the nursery. I have been very focused on "boy stuff", or the lack thereof, since September of 2004, when we found out the gender of our first child. Now that I am expecting a girl, I am starting to wish there were fewer choices. After about two weeks of daily visits to the Pottery Barn Kids website I finally settled on a pattern for crib bedding and accessories. Then suddenly it's all on sale, which can only mean one thing....the pattern is being discontinued.

Now today in my inbox comes the loveliest of emails, along the lines of "you have won" but it had nothing to do with a UK lottery. No, much better. It was from Javis Davis, maker of absolutely gorgeous bedding for babies and kids. They want to give me a couple of free products. I assume they found me due to a comment I left on a NaBloPoMo site. Alas, I'm once again left with a decision...they have so many stunning fabrics and combinations I can't decide what to order. Hoping JT can help me choose. Not sure what I would do without her.

15 November 2006

driving the road to hell in a minivan

Once upon a time one could choose between a variety of all-wheel drive minivans. I have happily driven Subarus for years and like all-wheel drive. I drive in the winter, in a place where there's snow and ice. It's a no-brainer, as far as I am concerned. We need a larger van, not any of the little ones. We have dogs that ride in crates and we will have two kids by spring. No small van is going to have enough room for us. I'd also like at least 48" between the wheel wells in order to fit two crates across the back. (Yes, I walk around the auto show with my tape measure. Very few of the van spec sheets contain that measurement, and none of the sales people know either.)

For years I'd though the Chrysler Town & Country was the "one". Lots of my dog showing friends have them and like them. It has 49" between the wheel wells, perfect for two Clumber crates. Then they dropped the awd model. Consumer Reports doesn't like them anyway.

No problem, I thought. At the auto show the only minivan CD and I both liked was the Saturn Relay. All-wheel drive, comfy seats, enough room for kids and dogs. While I have never owned a car made by any of the big three, my sister has had Saturns forever and has always been pretty happy with them. Then they too dropped the all-wheel drive model. Sensing a trend yet?

Today, there's just one awd minivan, the Toyota Sienna. Consumer Reports may love it but the one I saw and sat in at the auto show made me want to hurl. None of the dashboard controls or gauges were easy to view or where I wanted them to be. The seat was uncomfortable. The price? Obscene.

Since I can't have awd anyway, I started looking at the Honda Odyssey, again. It's okay, I guess. Consumer Reports loves it, but they've never been able to get the fold-flat rear seat right. It doesn't fold flat. If you put a dog crate on it, it's tilted, not flat at all.

We have until March to decide, and the auto show will be back in February, but I fail to be optimistic that there's something out there to be uncovered. Anyone have a suggestion? Have a missed a great minivan out there? (Remember, none of the small ones will work for us.)

14 November 2006

big news, nearly forgotten

Can't believe I forgot the biggest news from yesterday. My subconscious must be working overtime on NaBloPoMo crap stuff, knowing I would be well-advised to have a reserve in the very likely event the well runs completely dry.

Yesterday morning I found myself face to face with Dennis Quaid and his puppy, Bear. Though shooting on the film has moved to another part of campus, Bear has a doggy friend named Molly over in our building. Mr Quaid was bringing Bear over for a visit. He was very nice and is obviously attached to the pup. I just wish my camera had not been back in my office.

I have to say again how well Mr Quaid fits in on campus. He was just a guy walking his dog, and didn't stand out in any way. Good casting and great wardrobe. I am looking forward to seeing the movie.

13 November 2006

new toy

new toy
Oliver received a Thomas the Tank Engine set when he was born, a special gift from special friends. We've been waiting to give it to him, thinking the "3 years and up" guideline on the box could perhaps be safely ignored. He was having a rough time on Saturday and it was time to distract him with a new toy. I took a chance on Thomas, and he didn't disappoint. I think we may have to look into adding to the set in the future. This looks like a toy he will use for years to come.

That's a Williams sweatshirt he's wearing. He wore it to watch the game earlier in the day.

12 November 2006

welcome wagon

We had a nice family visit today, just to meet the Clumbers. Goes with the territory when you have a somewhat rare breed. Good breeders and the breed's rescue organization are not going to place a dog with someone who has never met a Clumber. Seeing one on tv or reading about them on the web or in books isn't enough. So a few times a year, we welcome strangers into our home and let the dogs do what they do best.. Few people who have met our dogs end up getting a different breed, in spite of all the hair and drool they end up taking with them.

Penguin was in rare form, showing off the typical Clumber "U", when they are wiggling so much that they bend themselves into a U shape. She let go of the toy in her mouth only long enough to try to lick our guests. Chewy, spotting an easy target, flopped onto his back and waited for the inevitable belly rub.

The family has four kids, all under 6 or so, and all dressed in matching shirts. They were adorable but mostly uninterested in the dogs, save one. They did enjoy playing with Oliver's toys, and fortunately, Oliver didn't seem to mind. He was really overwhelmed at first, but did get comfortable after a few minutes.

After today I can say, without equivocation, two kids will be enough for us, not that it was really in much doubt before today. And while I'm on the subject of kids, I think CD and I decided on a name for Baby v2.0, the girl version, last night. It will be a surprise to everyone but us but I can divulge that she will not be named Esmerelda, Endora, or any other character from Bewitched. We will tell you it's a girl, but you all have to wait for her to arrive before we share her name. We have seen far too many people change their minds based on silly criticism prior to the child's birth. We love the name and as long as it seems to suit her when we first see her, that's the name we will go with. This strategy worked well for us with Oliver and we are going to stick with it. So there.

11 November 2006

the biggest little game in america

The day we wait for all year has arrived, the day the Ephmen of my alma mater beat up on the boys from that other school, home of the defectors of 1821, in football. Williams isn't a big school, about 2000 undergrads, and it's Division III, so no one is there on an athletic scholarship. But there will be alums watching the game in at least 50 locations, including the William Penn Tavern here in Pittsburgh.

This is the 121st meeting of the two schools, making it the most-played rivalry in the US. Williams is currently undefeated, while Amherst has a 5-2 record. But that really doesn't matter. Today begins with a clean slate. Williams could be 0-7, beat 'herst, and declare the season a success. None of the Williams faithful would bat an eye.

Check back later to see what happened. Go Ephs!

UPDATE, 1:15pm: It's not over but at the end of the first half, Williams was leading 27-0. A certain small person named Oliver needed a nap so we had to leave.

UPDATE, 2:45pm: Ephs win, 37-7!!!!

10 November 2006

brugge frites

I need a new food to love like I need a hole in the head, but here I am, already trying to figure out when I can go to Point Brugge Cafe again. I was there last Saturday, and again today. Everything I have tried is yummy but the Brugge Frites are what I think of first. Cooked twice, in the traditional fashion, and accompanied by basil mayonnaise (which I use very sparingly), they are really worth the trip. The new house is just a couple of blocks away. This could mean trouble.

When I was pregnant with Oliver I wanted peanut butter and jelly all the time, and mac and cheese. Thank goodness for Annie's single serving pouches. Now it's the frites. I always "share" with someone else, though I know I eat more than my share. I have started warning my dining companions in advance but I guess I have an excuse, for a few more months anyway.

I'm starting to feel "my excuse" wiggling around. With my first pregnancy, I didn't know what to expect or when (beyond what the crazy-ass books say). This time, I know too much and every day I feel nothing makes me worry there is something wrong. It's very reassuring, though I suppose it could also just be gas.

09 November 2006

21 more days of this?

Oh dear. The well has run dry. This is what I get for posting four times in the last two days. Payback. Here are a few tidbits, apropos of nearly nothing.

1. It is possible to watch too much HGTV. When I was home sick I watched a ton. I thought maybe I would see something to inspire me for the new house. Nope. Nada. Zilch.

2. Google maps covers more than just the US and Canada. You probably knew this. I didn't until I checked today, looking for directions for our UK trip in a few weeks. I will be able to navigate our way from Gatwick to Surrey. I do not drive over there. The roundabouts scare the crap out of me. CD seems to have no trouble switching back to driving on the left so that's his job.

3. IETF audiocasts its sessions. I thought it would be fun to let Oliver hear Daddy tonight, since I knew there would be a well-timed session where CD would likely be speaking. Oliver looked confused for a minute, then he demanded Elmo.

4. I finally broke down and got Oliver a Steelers sweatshirt. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in town wears Steelers gear to work on Fridays before a game. It's weird, like a black and gold bomb went off all over the city. Now I just have to remember to put it on him tomorrow morning.

Pretty lame, I know. Maybe something more interesting will happen tomorrow.

08 November 2006

no justice

There is no justice in the world. While I have had the pleasure of watching Dennis Quaid and his dog, Oliver got to meet them today. He was out on a walk with his class and Mr Quaid brought the pup over to visit with the kids. And Oliver isn't old enough to tell me about it. It's just WRONG!!!!

dropping the v-bomb

Seems "vomit" is the magic word around here. I sent an email update to CD on the state of things here at home and he promptly changed his plans. He's coming home on Friday, instead of Saturday. Oh happy day.

Oliver is much better today. Last night I thought we were headed further into the depths of hell when he woke up at 11pm and was very unconsolable. After 45 minutes of trying to get him back to sleep, I gave him some motrin (much to his chagrin). 10 minutes later he was conked out and was not heard from, other than a brief wimper or two, until 7:15am. He woke up happy and energetic, a lot more like his usual self.

As for me, I got up with the dogs at 6am. A little coughing triggered a lot of wretching. I hope it's just the pregnancy but my gag reflex has gone from average to over-active. V-bomb indeed.

07 November 2006

I voted. Did you?

I decided I wasn't too sick to vote today. As usual, the poll workers were a few ants shy of a complete picnic, and I felt too crappy to find it as entertaining as I usually do. The touch screen machines were fine where I was. I didn't miss the silly lever thingies at all.

My timing was better than usual. Only one person was waiting to accost me on way in to the polling place. It's the thing that burns my bacon every blasted election day. I don't recall electioneering being allowed right up to the door when I lived in Maine and a few other places. Here, it's another story. I call it "running the gauntlet". I find it very insulting when campaigners get in my way and shove papers in my face as I'm trying to enter the polling place. Do they think I haven't decided yet? I usually tell them I will be sure to NOT vote for their candidate if they don't leave me alone.

In this case, there was one tough decision on the ballot. I remain unimpressed with both of the senatorial candidates. I went with the democrat, but grudgingly. His only redeeming quality is that he's "somebody else".

too sick for Dennis Quaid

It's sad. Really really sad. I must be pretty sick if I'm staying home when Dennis Quaid, and his dog, are hanging out mere steps from my desk. Just yesterday I was discussing what he could bring to my bed before I'd throw him out. I think I drew the line somewhere just beyond toxic waste. Crackers would not be a problem. Ah, the crazy hormones of pregnancy.

I saw Mr Quaid and "Bear", his adorable yellow lab puppy, walking together outside when I was heading out to my car yesterday. Nice to see he doesn't staff out the puppy's potty breaks. They didn't stand out in any way on the campus, except for the security-type dude with a wire in his ear watching them a discreet distance away. Not wanting to scare said dude, I didn't get out my camera.

I'm not sure I like the facial hair on Mr Quaid. I go back and forth about that. Always loathed it, on everyone, until CD. He shows more hair than skin on his face, and has for many years. I think he's about eleven years old in the only picture I have ever seen of him without it. If anyone ever told me I'd marry a guy with facial hair, I would have suggested they might be insane. On Quaid, it does seem to fit the part he's playing.

Shooting is supposed to be going through Thursday so I should have a few more chances for another brush with celebrity.

If you are visiting from Blogging Baby, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. I'm actually doing okay for blog fodder (and hope to hold off on a poop post for a few more days at least) but what I could really use is ideas for re-naming this blog. To catch you up on the state of things, we're down to two dogs, the "baby" is very much a toddler, and there's another baby on the way. "Three dogs and a baby" doesn't quite fit anymore. I should have realized it didn't have legs but thinking ahead isn't exactly my strong suit.

So if you want to help, put some ideas in the comments. Please be nice. I have a delete key and I'm not afraid to use it.

06 November 2006

what's with the movie quotes?

I know you've been dying to ask....what's with the movie quotes under the blog title? I mostly stick with Bull Durham, because I love the movie, know nearly every word, and there's so much great material. Today, however, we're branching out to another fine film, The Big Easy. This is in honor of Dennis Quaid who happens to be making a new movie, Smart People, a few feet from my desk. For the next four days, a film crew has taken over our hallway.

The last time a film was made in my building I had a rather unfortunate incident with Robert Downey Jr. The movie was Wonder Boys and I really hope Mr Downey was simply stoned at the time. I had to go through the set to get to my office, then located in the basement. Only one way in or out at that time. I had to follow Mr Downey down the stairs and he seemed to think I was stalking him. Granted, I was walking with more purpose than usual since I was tired after two days of being told I had to wait, be quiet, go away, etc by obnoxious production assistants, but he need not have been so paranoid. It wasn't pretty. And we won't even get into the ridiculous machinations they went through to come back and film a few months later, requiring they put fake snow all around the building.

By all accounts, the folks making this film are being much nicer than the Wonder Boys crew. I haven't been yelled at yet. Mr Quaid's chair is right outside my door and I saw him a few minutes ago. We have been asked if his puppy could hang out in our office for a bit. We are well equipped for canine guests. I have a crate in my cubicle and we have water bowls and dog toys already. If it happens, it will be blogged!

05 November 2006

we have a cold

No royal we, either. Oliver and I are both feeling a tad on the crappy side. Sniffles and coughs, general grumpiness. Oliver is actually pretty happy as long as the muppet videos are on my computer without interruption. Unfortunately, they do not have the same effect on me.

I keep forgetting to report that Oliver eats pasta now. Since I'm doing NaBloPoMo, and thus grasping at straws, now is the time. I thought I was going to have the only child on the planet who would not eat pasta or noodles. It started at the school pot-luck a few weeks ago. (It really started sooner with him eating things at lunch, but as far as acts I witnessed, this was first.) He ate some baked rigatoni. I decided it was either the baked part, or the really big shape part. I leaned towards the latter since he refused the rigatoni if I cut it up for him. About a week later I made some at home and he ate it. A miracle, I thought. Tonight I tried another test, since he's been eating it consistently at school. Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese (the Joe's Diner version, from the Fearless Flyer) was on our dinner menu. Yeah, I know I could make it myself pretty easily but I feel crappy and don't have the energy. Sue me.

But I digress. Suffice it to say Oliver ate the mac and cheese. He asked for seconds. It was good.

Is this morphing into a food blog?

04 November 2006

cauliflower cheese

I know no one cares what I had for lunch, which was here and lovely, but how about dinner? About once or twice a year CD suggests I make something he calls "cauliflower cheese". He doesn't elaborate and I have generally ignored him. Since he's leaving tomorrow for yet another week with geeks, I decided to indulge, though I really had no idea what I was signing up for. But hey, we had a nice cauliflower from the weekly CSA haul so I was feeling game.

I found a few recipes thanks to Google, but settled on two, here and here. Simple enough. I used panko breadcrumbs and pre-shredded cheese (will do better on that next time). Had to crank up the broiler to get it brown but it was nice. Crunchy cheesy bits are always a good thing. I may have to add this to my repertoire.

03 November 2006

house fun begins

Today we had the pest treatment, the radon mitigation system installation, all the locks changed, and yet another fence estimate, all at the new house. We took Oliver along because his school was closed. He loved doing laps around the living room, dining room and kitchen. That will change a bit once the renovations commence but it still should be fun for him. He pressed the maid's bell that's in the floor of the dining room on one lap and scared the stuffing out of the locksmith. Alas, no maid appeared.

He seems to love his new room. He lights up when I take him up there and tell him it's Oliver's room. The awnings were taken down sometime in the last couple of days and it makes the second floor a lot brighter. We will not be putting those back up in the spring, just the ones on the back porch.

I'm afraid there may be a lot of posts like this one during November. NaBloPoMo seems to be pressuring me right into writer's block.

02 November 2006

MetroDad created a monster

Since last Saturday, Oliver needs only a glimpse of my laptop before he starts asking, "Monster?" It doesn't sound exactly like that but that's what he means and I can't begin to figure out the phonetic spelling of what he is saying. This morning, he was asking for "Monster" before I had poured his milk at breakfast.

Blame it all on MetroDad. He put this video on his blog last week. On Saturday, we had to watch the darn thing every half hour. The original is one of my favorite songs, so the first 25 or so times were not that painful. It's getting a bit tiresome now.

Fortunately, one of MD's kind commenters turned me on to this list of great kid video clips, courtesy of Sweet Juniper and her peeps. I have since found more videos on YouTube, like Elmo and the Goo Goo Dolls and Elmo and Robert DeNiro. One that really mesmerizes Oliver is a video with Ernie and a cast of thousands. Now I can't get "Put Down the Duckie" out of my head.

Thanks loads, MetroDad. I owe you one. What say I take you and the Peanut to Westminster in February? You can educate me on the Korean restaurants on 32nd St, and I will introduce you to the wonders of dog shows. Given the celebrity status of the MetroDog, it's only fitting.

01 November 2006


Come on, you know you want to! You still have a few hours to get in on the fun.

closing is really opening

We closed on the new house yesterday. That means the links to the realtor's website in previous posts no longer work. Odd that it's called closing when it's really more of a start than an end. The end of some torturous negotiations in our case, but the beginning of something I expect will be great....in about 3 or 4 months.

We had a 3+ hour meeting with the architect today where we finalized the kitchen plans, and took a stab as some ideas for the bathrooms. I'm afraid the dog crate built-ins are gone, as are the pocket doors I was in love with. They weren't really necessary and the more freaked I am getting over the budget, the more nixing them becomes a good idea. The upside is the living room isn't going to shrink by three feet. As for the doors, they were to be between the living room and kitchen. I could imagine no circumstances under which I would ever close them. The built-in pasta cooker/steamer unit remains however, in the island, which will be a lovely 3" shorter than standard counter-top height.

The bathrooms will be interesting. I would love to witness the demolition, executed by someone named "Rocky" who sounds like he has no neck and is probably from Jersey. Apparently for a mere $700 he will take a room back to the studs in 1 day and haul away all the debris.

I am still in a quandry over colors for just about every room in the house. Various shades of beige are starting to look attractive.

26 October 2006

count down to ecstasy

Pittsburgh has changed a lot in the nine years I have lived here. Tomorrow we make another giant leap forward. Trader Joe's is opening in East Liberty.

I wish I could say it wasn't a factor in our choice of house but the fact that Trader Joe's is about 2 minutes away certainly didn't hurt. Whole Foods is another five minutes further but I don't anticipate going there nearly so often as Trader Joe's.

Oliver will be pleased to see turkey meatballs back on the menu. We've tried other brands but he throws them on the floor. Alas, Pennsylvania's ridiculous alcohol regulations mean there will be no 2 buck chuck, but I can live with that (especially for the next five months or so). The dogs think TJ's dried apples are as good as biscuits. Tika won't have to mail me the apples and orange cranberries anymore.

The real problem is when to go. I hear there were no tents pitched tonight in anticipation of the 9am opening, but I expect it to be insane there tomorrow morning. I originally thought I could hold off until Sunday morning, letting the furor die down a bit and hoping they still had some food on the shelves, but I know I won't be able to wait. I feel like a kid the night before Christmas. I'll be lucky if I make it to noon tomorrow.

UPDATE: It's 2:45pm and I have not yet been to Trader Joe's. I did get to experience the opening vicariously through my buddy's blog. He braved the opening and even called me from inside the store. I think I may have to blow this pop stand in about an hour....

ANOTHER UPDATE: Waiting until 7:30pm to go was a big mistake. They were sold out of a number of important items (chocolate lava cake and joe's diner mac & cheese to name just two). I did test the distance from the new house to TJ's....it was under 3 minutes in the rain. And speaking of rain, their ceiling was leaking.

23 October 2006

let the demolition begin

Things are moving very, very fast with the new house. Closing has been moved up three weeks to NEXT TUESDAY. We met with the architect today to go over designs for the new kitchen. Remarkably, no marital disputes required mediation. We were able to settle on a layout we both like a lot. The cost makes us both wince but it just means a few other other things, like new windows and enlarging the door to the patio, will probably have to wait a few years. We should have a "not-to-exceed" estimate by the end of the week but it's already clear the bathroom plans will be scaled back. That's okay. I spend more time in the kitchen than the bathroom.

In a stroke of brilliance on the part of the architect, by sacrificing a few feet of the huge living room, I can get back the hall closet that was sacrificed for the kitchen, not to mention custom built-ins for the dog crates. CD isn't so sure about this but I like it. He is also giving me a peninsula and an island. I never expected to get both. The final touch is the window. We will lose one window but expand the other to about 5 feet in width. It will give a view of the backyard from the front door, something I also never expected.

We chose some cabinets and narrowed the choices for flooring. I had some ideas about appliances but we'll look at the store the architect likes and see if there are other options we should consider. There will also be counter tops, lighting, storage configurations, sinks, faucets, etc. to choose. All the choices are a bit overwhelming. I have spent too much time on the HGTV website, mostly looking at things I don't like, but occasionally finding the perfect thing. For example, I was adamant about flush cabinets. No panels, no beadboard, no trim. Perfectly flat. Nothing to collect dust! Both CD and the architect tested my resolve but both came around by the time we finished today.

The only downside in all this is it will probably take three months to complete. We probably won't be moving until February. At that point, I'll be too huge to be very helpful. Pity the poor movers.

I have scheduled the radon mitigation installation and the pest treatment for next Friday. I still need to schedule the awning removal and the roof repairs. Still waiting for the fence estimate. And despite the snow flakes that fell for over two hours today (but did not stick on the ground), I am going to attempt to relocate my daylilies as soon as we close. I won't have the front shrubs removed yet, so that could be a problem.

Are we having fun yet?

18 October 2006

whaddya mean pigs say "oink" ?

Confession time...and I really hope I'm not the only one with such a deep dark secret. After a few too many readings of Moo Baa La La La, Oliver is firmly of the mind that pigs say "La La La". I have not disabused him of this notion.

He's obsessed with animals and what they do and say. He has them all down pat. Thus he's very convincing when he announces that cows say "moo", ducks say "quack", lions say "roar", and pigs say "La La La".

Please tell me I'm not the only parent to allow a child to believe something entirely false (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy do not count).

16 October 2006

back on the farm

We visited the farm on Saturday, for pumpkins. And we saw Dell, of course. CD has better pics of Oliver and his pumpkin, taken with his spiffy new camera, but as yet I have not prevailed on him to share.

13 October 2006

what's in a name?

For over a year this blog has been "three dogs and a baby", even though we have two dogs now, and the baby is very much a toddler. Now we have another baby on the way, and maybe another dog. What to do?

I look to thee, o wise internets. Eternal glory, and perhaps a calendar, to whomever submits a worthy replacement. Otherwise, the new title might have something to do with snoring and drool. And we can't have that.

12 October 2006

baby v2.0

Just when I was figuring out this whole "boy" thing, along comes the phone call from the genetics department at the hospital to tell me that baby v2.0 is not going to come equipped with a penis.

Time to order a pair of these, I guess.

10 October 2006

where the hell I've been

To answer the question, I've been right here all along. I have had nothing to say and too much to say, all at once. The quick and dirty updates:

I've felt like crap for a long time, it seems. This pregnancy hit me almost from day one with nearly 24x7 nausea. No puking (except when I gag on a vitamin), thankfully, but it still is icky. And I didn't know what I would feel like eating from one minute to the next. Now that I'm at week 14, I feel a lot better. The sciatica still hits me from time to time but it's not every day and it's not always so bad I can't walk. Woo hoo.

Had my CVS last week. Expected results yesterday or today. Nope. They are making me wait a bit longer. I'm not a very patient person, and we'll leave it at that. Fortunately, I've had something else to distract me.

New House
Yep, you read that right. After not quite three years in the current abode, we're relocating a whopping 3 miles away (and .7 miles closer to work). Could be worse....could be California. It's really a great spot. We'll be about 2 minutes from Trader Joe's when that opens in a month or so. It's around the corner from our vet, doctor, and pretty good restaurant and an interesting coffee house. There are kids in the neighborhood and we're at the end of a cul de sac. Perfect, right? No...not even close.

When we started looking there were three big things on my wish list. In order, they were (1) a first floor master suite; (2) no projects; and (3) a big flat yard for the dogs. I got (3). The house has five bedrooms, all on the second floor and it's a full flight of stairs, unlike our current split-level. And projects? Yep, we got 'em. The kitchen needs to be gutted and have two walls removed to make it a real kitchen and eating area. All three full bathrooms need to be gutted. The backyard needs to be fenced. And we knew all that before yesterday's inspection, which revealed the slate roof needs a little work, the chimneys need a little work, and the bloody air conditioner is 31 years old. I thought making a baby was my winter project.

So I'm spending most of my time on the phone with realtors, roofers, hvac dudes, and mortgage lenders when I should be getting things done at work.

Wishing I'd stayed under my rock yet? Hang on. There is a (potential) bright spot:

Dear friends in Wisconsin have a litter of Clumber puppies and they are kind enough to supply a webcam on the whelping box, since the wee ones were just a few hours old. The dam is Angelina, one of my all-time favorite Clumber girls. I have had the privilege of showing her at the last three national specialties. There are five boys in the litter and we planned on our next Clumber being a male. Paws and fingers crossed, the family will be back to three Clumbers when it's time for these guys to start heading to new homes, or perhaps a little later if I can prevail upon the kindness of my friends to hang on to "our" pup a little longer while we get settled in the new house and have a baby. We still feel the loss of Piper every day. Speaking of Piper...

Buy a Calendar
Way back when, I mentioned we were working on a legacy for Piper, trying to find a way to turn our loss into something positive for the breed. I am pleased to announce we are well on our way. The Piper Fund has been established by the Clumber Spaniel Club of America. Goals of the fund are to educate owners on the importance of necropsy and to provide small rebates to those who contribute Clumber necropsy results to a research database. Our first major fundraising effort is a 2007 calendar, in glorious color, with Piper herself on the cover. Makes a wonderful Christmas gift for the dog lover in your life. I'll provide a link when the sales flyer is downloadable, or email me and I'll send you the (somewhat large) pdf. Cost will be $25 plus $4.05 for priority mail shipping within the US. For more info, contact me here. 100% of the proceeds go to the fund. Did I mention it makes a great gift?

I think that's everything. I'll try to stay away from that rock.

22 September 2006

Oh! (no) Canada

[With apologies to the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves]

Penguin and I will not be going to Canada for the dog show next month. I was really looking forward to it but it seems she's only eligible to show on one of the three days, and that's a long-ass drive for one day of showing.

My recent pregnancy issues also make the long-ass drive pretty unattractive. Sciatica sucks.

20 September 2006

long time, no blog

Many thanks to both of my faithful readers for your patience and your continued reading of this blog that hasn't been updated in far too long. It's not that there hasn't been anything happening. I have snippets of posts saved in draft form, like the one about the guy sitting next to me on the plane to Chicago who had restless leg syndrome. I almost threw up on him because his leg kept making my seat shake. At first I was angry that this guy was making my flight so miserable, and so ridiculously early in the morning too, but then I decided he might not be able to control it. So then I felt guilty. That's way too much angst for 7am.

Why, you might ask, would I be feeling so queasy, so early in the morning? Hmmmm, why could that be? If you guessed, "She's pregnant!" you would be correct. It seems I got over some earlier-reported angst about whether to have a second child. Or maybe it's just too late to change my mind. Baby v2.0 is due to arrive around April 17.

This time around is proving to be a lot more challenging than last, when I felt mostly fine and had no complications at all. I feel crappy and nauseous just about all the time, yet I'm not vomiting and can continue to eat, just not always the things that are best for me. I have some strange cravings, like the night I had to have Pad Thai. What's up with that? I gained a few pounds during month #1. Somehow, I managed to stay steady in month two. I chalk that one up to lighter weight clothing.

I'm also exhausted. Did I say I was exhausted when Oliver was under a year old and not sleeping through the night? HA!!! The joke is on me. I am much more tired now. O. M. G. am I tired. Many days I go home from work, take a nap, and get up in time to put Oliver to bed. I have no idea what CD gives Oliver for dinner on those nights and frankly, I just don't care.

We had a little scare last week that turned out to be nothing, but I did get a bonus ultrasound out of the deal. You can't imagine how relieved I was to see ONE baby, with one little beating heart, on the screen. The "one" part was just as satisfying as the "beating heart" part.

So, we will know if Oliver is getting a little brother or sister for his second birthday in about three weeks. My money is on a sister.

Now that I can talk about the pregnancy here, I hope to be better about regular blogging. Thanks for sticking around during my unexpected hiatus. Can I go take a nap now?

04 September 2006

they go together like chocolate and peanut butter

Nothing better than dogs and kids, right? Check out Oliver and Penguin at NinjaPoodles, a blog you should be reading anyway. Abby and Paige are there too. (Nicole, I hope Shannon doesn't take that personally!)

29 August 2006

five things to eat before you die

I happened upon this fabulous meme from Traveler's Lunchbox entirely by accident, but it was a very happy accident. The only thing I like as much as parent blogs are food blogs. Sometimes I think I like the food blogs even better...so here goes with my list.

1. Cream Tea in London - no skimping on the clotted cream, or anything else
2. An authentic salt bagel with a thin layer of cream cheese, thin slices of perfectly ripe tomato and fresh basil leaves
3. Macaroni and cheese made from the recipe in New Basics, topped with Penzey's India Special Extra Bold black pepper - my arteries clog at the mere thought but what a way to go
4. Lobster, outdoors, in Maine - butter optional, corn on the cob required, preferably picked about the time the pot of water was put on to boil
5. The best hamburger, medium-rare and topped with sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese, with perfectly crispy fries and Heinz ketchup

Now that I've made my list, I have to admit there are quite a few surprises. First and foremost, where the hell is the chocolate? Mushrooms barely squeaked onto the list. I've often said if I had to go to a desert island and bring only one food it would be mushrooms. Sushi is another notable absentee. I've been dreaming of sushi for a few weeks now. No stilton, no croque-monsieur (something else I've been craving lately), no ice cream, no pistacios, no brownies, no nutella (off a spoon straight out of the jar, or on a McVitie's digestive biscuit), no roasted garlic or crispy thin crust pizza, no peanut butter or bananas, no orange-cranberry anything. So depressing to have to leave out so much.

I may have to get more specific later on, like "five nuts to eat before you die" or "five Ben & Jerry's flavors to eat before you die".

Needless to say, naming just five was a little painful.

Your turn.

bumper crop

With the return of students (and their cars) to campus there has been some fine bumper sticker viewing. I was bored with the ones I had been seeing all summer. Here's a list of a few of my favorites, old and new:

Bush for Lawn Ornament
Somewhere In Texas a Village is Missing Its Idiot
1.20.09 the end of an error
Somebody please give Bush a blowjob so we can impeach him
Bush/Cheney 2004: No billionaire left behind
Stop Mad Cowboy Disease
Republicans for Voldemort
My kid reads your honor student's email
Madness takes its toll....please have exact change
There's no place like
I'm blogging this
He ain't Kinky, he's my governor

And an extra special one for the Pennsylvanians who may be reading,


22 August 2006

words words words

Oliver's vocabulary has really exploded over the last two weeks. I still don't understand all of it, but we are communicating more effectively every day. If you ask if he needs a diaper, he's likely to respond, "Elmo?" He is saying "DaDa" and "MuMa" pretty regularly, as opposed to calling us "Anna". If you ask him what his name is he will still reply "Anna". He asks for a couple of songs , such as "duck" (and makes a sign he created himself) when he wants "Six Little Ducks" and "rollover" when he wants "Ten Monkeys In the Bed". He can name a lot of the animals in his books, especially hippo, duck, cow, rhino, koala, lion, doggy, kitty (sounds more like "key"), and perhaps the cutest of all the words he says, bunny. I have been calling him my little bunny since he was a few hours old so to hear him say "bunny" just turns me to mush.

He started to say "thank you" over the weekend, though not exactly in proper context. He likes to pick up bits of dog hair from the carpet, hand them to me and say, "thank you."

Today's new word is "Walter". Thanks, Aunt Suzy.

Unfortunately, he has also learned "NO".

19 August 2006

the other "baby" in our house

Before Oliver, before me, CD birthed another baby, named Mulberry. He tended and cared for it for many years. Mulberry went away last October, but as of today, Mulberry is back.

I don't usually flash my geekier side here, but tonight I can't resist. If not for Mulberry, CD and I probably would not have met so it's pretty special to me too. He would not have moved state-side without Mulberry. Our first date was the day version 1.4 was released. I figured out later it was a date. I thought we were merely celebrating a successful release... (short bus, once again).

Mulberry is one amazing email client. It's got a UI people either get used to or loathe, but no one can dispute its capabilities.

17 August 2006

it was all too much for Oliver

This was our last full day in DC on vacation. We went on the DC Duck tour but didn't get to Tabard Inn or the baseball game. We attempted to visit the National Gallery of Art but Oliver was feeling particularly loud and boisterous at that moment so we didn't stay long in the vicinity of the art. He was better when we were in the shop, choosing a few books for him. A cheap ploy on his part, no doubt.

We had a very nice dinner at Lebanese Taverna, right across the street from the Woodley/Zoo metro stop. It's the same place we went for lunch on Monday and we found it to be very kid-friendly. Oliver once again ate like a champ, scarfing down bread, hummus, felafel, sambousick and kibbeh. (Tabouleh was rejected...looked too much like a vegetable!) I swear his little belly was puffed out when we left. He looked slightly pregnant. It was past his bedtime, and his nap, pictured here, was somewhat brief, but he did extremely well.

Tomorrow we head home, by way of the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles. We just didn't get enough of Air & Space.

This has been a great trip but I'm excited to get home and see the dogs and cat, and for Oliver to get back to a more normal schedule. He has a big week coming up, his first in the Young Toddler room at school.

16 August 2006

family photo

Oliver's school asked for a family photo to put up in his new classroom. This is a challenge for us since one of us is always holding the camera. We found a pillar to put the camera on today, in front of the US Capitol. I can still count the number of pictures of all three of us on one hand.

We walked a ton today. Every day this trip has been filled with loads of walking. I feel not the slightest guilt for all the food we're eating. Afternoon ice cream? No problem....at least not until next week's weigh in!

The Air and Space Museum was a lot of fun. The Air Force Band brass quintet gave a concert, which included a beautiful rendition of "Simple Gifts".

Overall, the trip is going well and Oliver is being quite the trooper. Today was a little rough, since he took a 30 minute nap ALL DAY and was over-tired at bed time, but I can't complain. He's been mostly cheerful and adaptable all week. Finding food he will eat remains a challenge but fish sandwiches are a big hit. I have to remove the coating from the fish but he likes it better that way.

Tomorrow: a tour of the memorials (can't decide between the Tourmobile and the Duck Tour...), maybe lunch at Tabard Inn (thanks for the recommendation, Tika!), maybe baseball.

14 August 2006

a little slow

Today I was reminded of being in the delivery room, being told by a nurse to do 12 things at once. I could only manage 6 or 7 of them at a time and made a joke about needing "the short bus." She wasn't amused, so I stopped making jokes like that. Too bad. Today was definitely a "short bus moment."

We're in DC for the week on a forced vacation of sorts. Oliver's school is closed so we decided to go play. It was a hot and sticky day and Oliver needed a bath tonight. So did I. I decided to give the co-bathing thing a try.

Sheesh...why the heck didn't I try this before? It was a pleasant experience for both of us, not to mention being 100 times easier to get Oliver clean. He sat in front of me and I could actually see behind both of his ears. Fortunately, no potatoes were present.

I also got him to lean back a bit when I rinsed the shampoo out of his head. He didn't like it much but it was better than getting soapy water in his eyes. (The shampoo doesn't irritate his eyes but he still doesn't like the water running down his forehead.)

Perhaps most importantly, I didn't care about all of his splashing because I was already wet. And naked.

This is one of those times I should slap myself upside the head.


For photos from the trip, check out Flickr. We spent the morning at the National Zoo (Oliver slept through the first hour -- just getting there was pretty exciting for him) and the afternoon walking back to our hotel in Foggy Bottom, by way of Embassy Row and DuPont Circle.

On the schedule for tomorrow: Baltimore's National Aquarium

12 August 2006

a last hurrah

Penguin is a show dog. She's also my best 4-legged buddy but our bond was initally forged in the show ring. We learned the ropes together and achieved more than anyone could have dreamed when we started. She was twice the winner of the first bitch award of merit at the national specialty show, and even went to Crufts. Not bad for the runt...

At 8 years old, well over the hill for most breeds, she hasn't shown in over a year. I am suffering major withdrawal from dog shows. Once upon a time I was spending two or three weekends a month at shows. Now I am lucky to get to two or three a year, and when I get there I'm usually showing a dog or two that belong to other people. After being a single parent while CD has been traveling over the last few months, I have earned a child-free weekend, don't you think?

So Pen and I are off to Canada in October for what will likely be her last hurrah north of the border. It's two months away but I am thinking about it every day. I will have four days with Penguin and I wouldn't trade that for a ribbon of any color. Regardless of the outcome in the ring, I always bring home the best dog.

11 August 2006

one more sleep

Oliver and I have been counting down how many "sleeps" until CD comes home from being away nearly two weeks. Okay, so Oliver hasn't been counting as much as he has been tolerant of my informing him how many are left.... We are down to just one more sleep, thank goodness. I have the cold from hell, courtesy of the petri dish that is Oliver's school.

CD has been back at the mothership for WWDC. (Okay, he was mostly working, not shopping much, but you get the idea. See what he did last weekend here.) It was nice to read a few of the unofficial sites reporting on WWDC to find out what he's been doing for the last seven months.

Today was Oliver's last day in the "Infant Wing" at school. It was bittersweet, of course. It's exciting that he's moving up to the "Young Toddler" room but I'm very sad to be leaving behind my favorite teacher, Mary. She did tell me that when putting Oliver down for his nap they exchanged promises to visit each other often. Four of his teachers are moving along with him so the transition should not be traumatic. He will start eating snacks and meals in the dining room and sleeping on a mat, but he will be with most of the same teachers and children. Oliver has never been shy about new situations, and besides, when we walk by the new room every day and he peers with wonder through the glass in the door.

As usual, this transition will probably be more of a challenge for the parents than for the child.

07 August 2006


We've reached a new level of imitation. In this photo Oliver is imitating one of his teachers at school. She often puts a finger on her chin and asks the children what song they should sing next. Now Oliver does this whenever I ask him a question involving "what's next?"

I fear he's starting to figure out just how adorable he is, and may be plotting to use this against me.

06 August 2006

down on the farm

We spent a lovely afternoon at Harvest Valley Farm today. We are part of their CSA program and they had an Farm Field Day for subscribers. It was great to see where our fruits and vegetables are growing. We took a ride on a haywagon pulled by a very large tractor and visited a number of fields around the farm.

All the attendees gathered at the end of the tours to share what we had picked along the way. Oliver especially liked the yellow watermelon. He ate three pieces! He also ate a tomato out in the field. I think it was his first. For a kid who tends to avoid vegetables and is somewhat selective about fruit, he was very enthusiastic.

He also enjoyed meeting the farm's border collie, Dell. She accompanied us to all the fields, resting in the shade under the wagon when we stopped. Though she ran off periodically, she always rejoined us. Oliver was saying her name well before we left and continued to say it when we returned home.

All that fresh air must have been good for him. He went to bed without a fuss and was sound asleep by 7:01pm.