30 April 2008

it's the little things

I got a shower today! It required waking up half an hour before Eleanor but I somehow managed it, my major accomplishment for the day.

Turned out to be a good thing, since I was interviewed for the local news later in the afternoon. I hear it was good, though that would require a kick-ass editor and I can't imagine one of those is really out here in the middle of nowhere. I suppose stranger things have happened.

Eleanor took about four unaided steps in a row this afternoon. When the tv news interviews me in a few years, when Oliver and Eleanor are competing in Junior Showmanship at Westminster, the only brother and sister finalists, I will be able to say that Oliver's first word was "doggie" and Eleanor learned to walk at a national specialty.

Tomorrow is the actual specialty show. I have a lot of grooming to do. Penguin may be bald by the time I'm done.

29 April 2008

kiss of death

It was not a good day in the show ring. Everything I touched, it seems, lost. Penguin placed second in her veteran's class, though her feet looked truly mah-velous, thanks to some grooming help. Cheating, I suppose, but necessary. 

Then I took a bitch in for a friend in the breeders' showcase and our group lost as well. 

To top things off, I missed Ben & Jerry's free cone day. I guess things can only improve from here.

28 April 2008

eau de wet dog

It's a lovely day in shawnee on delawhere. Lovely and WET. It's been raining cats and well, dogs all day long. Pouring, in fact. The Clumbers are living up to the "snow pig" moniker all too well. And the hotel is starting to stink. The staff vacuum and spray every five or six minutes, but it's not helping much. Should be really delightful by tomorrow.

My decision not to bathe Penguin before we left is looking better and better all the time.

27 April 2008

I stink good too

The tracking test went so well it was scary. All I hoped for was that the Clumber would pass. After that, I hoped that I was the tracklayer for the Clumber. And that is exactly what happened. The Clumber drew track #1, mine. He had a little bit of a slow start but once he got going it was a thing of tracking beauty. When I looked a little more closely I found the dog's grandmother is one of my favorite bitches. She even lived with us for a short time and it was painful to send her home. And his papa is a dog I adore. Just perfect.

Not surprisingly, the dog on the track CD put in passed too. But we already knew he was sufficiently stinky.

26 April 2008

getting on track

Today was for getting settled at the hotel. We spent the morning figuring out where things are, and terrorizing our fellow diners in the restaurant with screaming children. Eleanor, it seems, cannot bear to be out of my oxygen. (Jenni: You know what I mean! But she's louder than Widgeon.) And sometimes, no - make that most of the time, she is needing to be held. All.the.damn.time.

Today was also for track laying. We discovered the directions we published were wrong so there was a little scrambling but the judges found us without incident. Other than brushing off a few ticks, which are entirely to be expected in this part of the world, that too was without incident. I'm the test chair and CD is chief tracklayer. We are each putting in one track, with another willing victim kind volunteer joining us to do a third track. It's all a bit delicate with timing and such, but three tracks makes for an easy, simple test. Should be all over before noon. My articles are firmly ensconced inside my boots and should be sufficiently stinky by tomorrow. [If you think I have lost my mind, or am suddenly from Mars, go read this!]

The hotel is nice, though our room remains hot despite the drop in outdoor temperature. And having kids that go to bed early makes things interesting. I should NEVER book a room that isn't a suite. We did get a fridge, so I will stop complaining now.

I hear it has started raining. Of course it is. We have white hairy dogs and there is lots of dirt just waiting to become mud. Should be fun. And messy. Time to go walk dogs one last time before heading off to bed.

25 April 2008


After 6 1/2 hours of driving (and stopping, and trying to get kids to eat without screaming in a public place) we all made it to Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA for the national specialty. Everything fit in the minivan, with room to spare. Plenty of room for all the things I didn't bring, like bowls for the dogs and rubber shoes for early and late dog potty runs, and a whole host of other items. 

[Hotel has wifi but I had not tried things out enough to get this posted on arrival. So it's late for Blog365 but I get in on a technicality. I can post the time I wrote it, not the time I published. It matters not that I wrote it in my head, during a sleepless night while kids and dogs and adults were very unsettled in a very hot hotel room. It's going to be a long ass week.]

24 April 2008

what I should be doing

Panic has set in. We are supposed to leave tomorrow for a week of root canal national specialty fun and frolic. Here's what I should be doing right now:

washing dogs
trimming dogs
formatting documents for a website
learning a new cms
loading music onto my iPod for Oliver
folding laundry
not blogging

23 April 2008

truth in advertising

The following is billed as showing how bacon is made but it really should tell you before it starts that what is being made is pre-cooked bacon. I have had pre-cooked bacon and it is dead easy and tastes pretty good. I wonder if it will taste as good next time, now that I know the flavor is all coming from liquid smoke.


In any event, what you see is 5 minutes of bacon. Nothing wrong with that. And the metal detector is a nice touch.

22 April 2008

confessions of a reformed political schizophrenic

Forgive the digression into politics for just a moment. I guess it relates to the kids since I took Oliver with me to vote this morning, and have had a kid strapped to me most of the times I have voted for the last three years.

My political past is somewhat schizophrenic. I worked on my first campaign when I was seven years old. It was a state senate race and my candidate was Olympia Snowe, now the senior Senator from Maine. I grew up in a household where Richard Nixon was revered. The summer of the Watergate hearings was a particularly rainy one and I watched them for hours. I must have been 8 or 9 at the time. I read both volumes of Nixon's memoirs when I was 12. Then, being a rebellious teenager, I registered as a democrat at 18 just because the family was republican. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After dipping a number of toes into a number of disciplines, I ended up a political science major in college back in the mid-1980s. I was an international relations concentrator, with a special, and no doubt somewhat twisted, interest in cold war nuclear weapons policy. I was also a bomb 'em back to the stone age conservative republican by my junior year. There. I just fessed up to one of the more sordid aspects of my past.

In one of the world's many little jokes, I graduated with a degree that was immediately rendered obsolete. Mr Gorbachev tore down that wall and the rest is history. No one really cared what I knew about the cold war anymore. I took the foreign service exam (without doing a bit of preparation) and passed, barely. But I bailed on the interview. It just seemed pointless.

A few years later I dated a really smart person (CD is still the smartest person I know though) who happened to be a bit more left of center. He helped me to see the error of my ways and it stuck, even after we parted company. So for nearly 20 years, I have been back where I started, a registered democrat. For the right reasons, though.

After a pretty good streak (Reagan, Bush (the first one), and Clinton) of voting for the winner in the presidential election, I have tanked it in the last two. Haven't enjoyed that much. 

This time around, and finally in a state that matters, I voted for Hillary Clinton. So many of my friends are for Obama and I like him, I just don't believe everything he says. In many ways it boils down to a matter of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know. I would have liked a few years to get to know Obama better.

I got a serious rush out of voting for a woman. (more fessing up) I hope I get to do it again in November. It's about damn time a mom sat in that chair.

21 April 2008


THUD. That's the sound a plastic bat makes when it comes in contact with the back of a 34 month old girl's head, at the maximum velocity generated by a three year old boy. It causes severe panic on the part of the boy's mother. Internal organs migrate northward to the throat. There are tears, boo boo bunnies, and hugs. And an apology from the boy, after much coercion. 

Little girl recovers much faster than boy's mother. She has a lump on her head but is smiling before she gets back home. Boy's mother may never recover. She makes apologetic phone call to girl's parents, who both happen to be doctors. They laugh. This does not help mother recover. Nightmares will undoubtedly follow.

20 April 2008

the skirt walks

Eleanor was wearing her first skirt yesterday, and pushing the walker wagon all over the backyard. It should just be a few more days before our lives are over she walks all.by.herself.

19 April 2008

not bad for 10 years

You are 97% Pittsburgh.

Great job! There's nooooo doubt about it. You're from Da Burgh. You deserve a reward, so go have an Ahrn City or two. And GO STILLERS!

How Pittsburgh Are You
See All Our Quizzes

Except I'm from Maine.

18 April 2008

apparently it's bitterness day here at TDaaB

It's supposed to be  Fabulous Food Friday and I slacked off last week. Here I stand, typing in my kitchen, waiting for some Thai food to arrive. You would have thought the return of my working steamer would have made my week all sweetness and light but Eleanor continues to have trouble sleeping and that makes all manner of things suck ass.

I predict the Thai mixed vegetables with tofu and brown rice, spice level 8, will easily be the best thing I have eaten this week. I keep hoping that sleep deprivation is just messing with my memory.

Perhaps by tomorrow all this bitterness will be out of my system.


Apparently 45 for brunch is a drop in the bucket where three year old birthday parties are concerned. Thanks CNN. This makes me feel oh so much better. 

I'm still sticking with the "one friend and a baseball game" plan for next year.


I planted 80 bulbs last fall and the tulips are opening at last.

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where's my t-shirt?

I guess the difference between being a girlfriend and a wife is that you get t-shirts when you're a girlfriend.

Video found at Mactropolis.

17 April 2008

bait and switch

I went to a workshop last night on how to build a rainbarrel. There were a couple of instances of bait and switch that were really disappointing. First, of the 90 minute workshop, more than 60 minutes were a lecture about water that was mostly gleaned from the presentation they give to school children. It was boring as all get out and most of the people in the room did not learn anything new. I felt like a hostage, waiting to get a couple of gutter elbows, a few couplings, and a bit of hose...that I paid $30 for.

Second, and most disappointing, many of us thought the barrel that was constructed during the last bit of the workshop was going to be given to one attendee. At least that's what it said in the flyers and on the website. The workshop leader acted stunned and said, "We did that last year but we aren't doing it anymore." Alrighty then. I guess that makes it okay.

There's 90 minutes of my life I'm not going to get back.

16 April 2008

you think I'm over the top with the bacon?

It has been suggested that Bacon Wednesday is indicative of my somewhat obsessive tendencies. Today's edition will convince you that on the bacon-obsessive spectrum, I'm not even close to being over the top.

The Bacon Show - One bacon recipe, per day, every day, forever. (Since 2005!)

And that barely scratches the surface of what is out there.

Even if you still think I am obsessed, it makes me feel better.

a year ago

A year ago right now I think I was making my way to a labor and delivery suite, and probably starting to ask for an epidural. I was soon to hear about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. So many lives lost and one new one brought into the world.


And now

Eleanor at the baseball game

We are also marking a year of nursing, without any supplementation. Unlike her brother, who was losing interest by now, Eleanor shows no signs of being ready to stop.

15 April 2008

daddy, by Oliver

Oliver got a camera for his birthday, after using a wide variety of objects as cameras for the last few months. This is one of the photos he took last Friday, shortly after receiving the camera.

He's very cute with it, telling everyone to say, "Cheese!" Of course, since CD has taught him about many different cheeses, he is likely to tell you to say, "Stilton!" or "Wensleydale!" too.

14 April 2008

I made it myself!

Oliver shows off his handiwork at Pizzeria Uno tonight.

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is there such a thing as "successful computer repair sex"?

Last night I dumped a glass of water on my MacBook. Tonight I am typing this on the same MacBook. You do the math.

13 April 2008

sonday in the (ball)park with Oliver

Oliver at the baseball game

It was a rainy day in Pittsburgh, but not quite enough to rain out the baseball game. In yet another demonstration of how he is growing up, Oliver made it through the entire game in very good humor and without a nap. The game started at 1:35pm and he usually naps from 1-3pm on weekends. At bedtime I asked him what was the most fun thing about today and he talked about singing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame". I have him well-trained to "root root root for the Red Sox".

Since his nap was late, beginning in the car on the way home from the game, he stayed up late, watching an inning or so of the Red Sox and Yankees. As long as he gets to see Manny Ramirez he's a happy boy.

Oliver is enjoying the visit from his Nana and Ernie, and Aunt Suzy. He has had a great birthday weekend, though he likes to remind us that he's three but Eleanor is still "zero!"

12 April 2008

mission accomplished

The party, it is done. And we're all still standing. Or sitting. Or sound asleep. I was up until about 1:15am. Then Eleanor decided to be hungry about 1:45. I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep. Probably not the best strategy but the party happened and there were no disasters (not counting the cake). Oliver was overwhelmed at times, but held it together well after some brief cuddling. Next year he is going to be allowed to invite one friend to a baseball game. 

As always, there was not enough time to visit with friends we haven't seen in far too long, or to play with all their children. I hope we can stay in touch with everyone with some summertime dinners on the back porch.

In other news, there's a job prospect looming out there. More about that soon, I hope.

10 April 2008

the countdown begins

I am about 10 minutes away from having the, "Oh shit. 45 people are coming for brunch in about a day and half," moment. So while I still feel like I can hold it together, I better post. I've made it this far in blog365 so it would be silly to bail out now. (Though probably no sillier than inviting 87 people for a birthday party!)

There is still plenty of cooking to be done for Saturday but the cookies for snack tomorrow at Oliver's school are made. Reinforcements, my mom and stepfather, have arrived. The basement room is nearly inhabitable. It just needs dusting and vacuuming. I have two planters to fill with pansies, and one more shopping trip to do. Then I can start making the cakes and other food.

The thing that is scaring me most is decorating the cakes. I picked up the Wilton giant cupcake pan (but at Michael's, with a 50% off coupon), and have planned to make one chocolate and one yellow but how I am going to decorate them remains a mystery. I have some simple decorating tips and bags, and everything I need to make frosting in a variety of colors. I have some cookie decorating colors in tubes from Christmas. I think I have the tools, but I am entirely lacking in inspiration. I have looked at lots of pictures but still can't decide exactly what to do.

Any suggestions?

09 April 2008

bacon in October

Zingerman's is a pretty cool company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I discovered them in 1989, while on my very first business trip. The trip is notable for a number of reasons. The San Francisco earthquake occurred during the trip and my boss at the time, also on the trip, had two sons living about 10 miles on either side of the epicenter (both fine, thank goodness). There were also a whole bunch of silicon valley computer geeks there and we quickly discovered that email was getting through when phone calls were not. The shape of things to come...but I digress. One of the things I remember vividly is a visit to Zingerman's for breakfast and seeing the massive wall of olive oil. I didn't know there were more than the three brands my local grocery store carried. That single event changed my cooking life.

I have been meaning to mention Zingerman's Bacon Club (it's not a sandwich!) since I started Wednesday Bacon. Alas, the club is on vacation until October. In a nutshell, it's a bacon lover's dream...bacon of the month. And not just any bacon. It's from lots of different sources and locations. Eating one's way through them seems like a worthwhile endeavor for any bacon aficionado.

08 April 2008

no better use of 76 minutes

I'll be very surprised if any of my readers (all three of you) have not heard of Randy Pausch, but just in case....

Last year Professor Randy Pausch did what a lot of Carnegie Mellon faculty get asked to do. He gave his "last lecture" except this time, it had new meaning. Professor Pausch has pancreatic cancer and the lecture was mind-blowing. If you haven't seen it, find yourself 76 minutes and watch it. If not today, then tomorrow. Don't wait any longer than that. Really.

ABC is devoting an hour to Professor Pausch tomorrow evening at 10pm. I'm not sure I have enough tissues in the house but I'm going to watch anyway. Crying is not what Professor Pausch would want anyone to do, but since I have been known to cry during commercials and the Olympics, I will ask to be cut some slack.

The lecture has also been expanded and made into a book that was published today. Professors always have more to say and I'm looking forward to reading.

some pig

As previously blogged, we went to the Biggest Bedtime Story on Saturday. All kids left with a bag of stuff that included a free book. It was entirely hit or miss on age appropriateness but Oliver's bag contained Charlotte's Web. This was one of my favorite books as a child so I thought it might be fun to read it with Oliver, a little bit each night. We started on Sunday and he was very fidgety. I thought we should give it another night before deciding it needed to wait a few years. Last night's chapter was short and held his interest a little better. This morning he asked, "What happened to Wilbur?" Ah, success!! I see lots of chapter books in our future.

[Forgive the light blogging this week. Trying to figure out the food for the birthday party that ate Pittsburgh and trying to get a few other projects done is sucking my will to live at the moment.]

07 April 2008

cooking for a crowd

I'm in full-on party preparation mode. I have sliced and diced (and julienne fried) the guest list data. There are adults, older kids (5-8 years old), little kids (2-4), and babies. And about 20 people in 6 families who haven't bothered to respond. 

Much as I would like to take a hard line and be the goody bag nazi ("No bag for you!") towards those who have not rsvp'd, I don't think I have the heart to do that. I'll make a few extras, but only a few. My creativity is waning on these. I keep hoping for inspiration to strike. Maybe when I get to the party supply store. So far I have bags and little tins of play doh. 

I'm also trying to figure out how much all these people are going to eat. Eleanor easily eats as much as Oliver but I know that's not the norm. I'd rather have too much food, obviously, but I don't want more leftovers than I can reasonably store. The other problem is choosing the best foods to serve. My strategy is to make what I think kids will like, as I firmly believe that if the kids are happy, the parents will be too. Much as I will probably want to hook myself up to a mimosa IV, we are going alcohol-free this time. Margaritas were flowing at Oliver's first birthday party but I think this will be a better approach. I'll have a beer after everyone goes home (and I get the dishes done!).

More about the party plans to come. Stay tuned for menu details and "plan B" for the cake.

06 April 2008

how hard could it be?

We started going to Picture People when Oliver was just four months old. The results were great and we were hooked. Two or three times a year we've gone for pictures, and each time it gets more difficult. It's like the first one was "free" and Oliver is making us work harder and harder, testing our patience and that of the photographer. Perhaps we were paying the price for packing too much into yesterday but I don't think so. Looks like we're sliding out of terrible twos and careening head first into threatening threes. I'm starting to think whoever called them "terrible twos" had not made it past that stage yet, or they would have found two to be a walk in the park.

Still, the intrepid photographer managed to get a few reasonable photos, including one I love of the four of us. It's black & white, with all of us wearing white t-shirts (and jeans but that is cropped out in the framed version we purchased). The only thing wrong with it is the nasty set of crow's feet I am sporting. CD, of course, is aging gracefully. I am simply looking old.

05 April 2008

jam packed

Today was a remarkable test of how much we can pack into a day with small kids. Everyone, adults included, held it together very well. Tomorrow isn't looking much better as, once again, we're over-scheduled but if it goes as well as today I will have no complaints.

Here's a rough sketch of our day:
7:15 am - Oliver wakes up, breakfast
7:30 - Eleanor wakes up, breakfast 
9:30 - Eleanor down for a nap, Kim and Oliver do errands at the dry cleaners and vet
10:30 - Wake Eleanor up and we all head to the southside
12:15 pm - Lunch, including Eleanor's first peanut butter and jelly sandwich
12:45 - Naps, except Eleanor decided she wasn't tired after all
2:15 - Oliver wakes up, about half an hour earlier than normal
3:00 - Eleanor goes for a nap
3:15 - Oliver and Kim go to a playdate with one of Oliver's buddies from his old school
5:00 - Return home, get everyone ready to go out again
5:30 - Biggest Bedtime Story on the Pitt campus
7:00 - Pick up dinner to go at Chipotle (about an hour later than we usually eat)
8:06 - Kids are both in bed! 

Not everything went well today. Our old house was supposed to have been sold at auction, but wasn't. This is getting a little ridiculous. We are now past a year of having it on the market. We have some decisions to make and they are not going to be easy.

Tomorrow is looking almost as full, with a zoo class in the morning, followed by a family photo shoot at noon. Definitely not prime time for that sort of thing but it was the best that was available. I would say I was going to recover from all this on Monday but that isn't going to happen. The whole week is going to be insane as we get ready for family to arrive and the birthday extravaganza next weekend.

04 April 2008

can't live without, the breastfeeding edition

I was putting together a list of things I can't live without while breastfeeding for the daughter of a friend. She is a brand new mom of less than a week. I realized I should post it here too. As I see the end of my breastfeeding days coming, I need to do this before I forget everything. 

Eleanor is down to nursing 3 times a day, and she is drinking whole milk cold out of a cup. I mixed with frozen breast milk for a couple of cups but quickly discovered she didn't care. I would venture to guess she will drop the midday feeding without protest. I am not as sure about the first feeding of the morning and the last at night.

Yesterday I shipped out my beloved Pump In Style. It was probably best that I didn't have a lot of time to think about it. I had about 10 minutes to get it all packed up and off to Fedex. I will miss that pump and the way it talked to me sometimes, saying things like, "pizza" or "painful". If you've ever used a pump, you know what I mean. (Or is it just me that hears the voices?)

So, without further ado, the list of items I consider the must-haves for breastfeeding moms. This is what I have found to work well. Of course, your mileage may vary. [Note:  I have purchased each of these products on my own and have no relationship with the companies other than that of a satisfied customer.]

Blessed Nest pillow - I have tried Boppy and My Brest Friend but this is right one for me. I just wish I had found it sooner, like during pregnancy. It would have been great belly support at night. I also like to use it for naps and see myself using it long after breastfeeding is over.

Tough Titties nipple rub - Lansinoh is great stuff, and I use it before every show, but it stains. I have never leaked so I don't use pads. My bras, camisoles, and bed sheets were getting stained with Lansinoh. Tough Titties doesn't stain and works great. The company website is a hoot and a half and the items I ordered arrived wrapped in an unbleached disposable diaper. 

Motherwear nursing camisoles - Other nursing camisoles, like the ones I found at Target, leave you exposed as soon as you drop the flap. Not these. The openings are very discreet. In the winter, the warmth provided by wearing an extra layer is appreciated. Despite being all cotton, I find them a little warm in the summer, but they are otherwise perfect nursingwear.

Slim Lines milk trays - Unbeatable for freezing milk. Freezes it in 1 ounce sticks, that then go into freezer bags. When you just need an ounce, that's all you need to thaw. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Just don't put them in the dishwasher.

Lansinoh milk bags - Tried the rest but they are all flawed. These are just right. But if you use the milk trays, you can also use a plain old zip top freezer bag.

Medela steam bags - Terrific for sterilizing pump parts. All you need is a little water, a microwave, and 90 seconds.

03 April 2008

Bubba & Dolly

My friend Chris painted another picture for us. (See String of Pearls for another.) This one is for Eleanor's room. "Dolly" is her favorite toy. She sleeps with it every night and at all naps.

I could not quite fit all of it on the scanner. Just a bit of Dolly's hand is cut off. Better Dolly's hand than Bubba's paw though.

Can't wait to get this framed and hung.

02 April 2008

no words

I really have nothing to add to this, except to suggest taking a peek at the date of the post.

01 April 2008

baby ultrasounds are much more interesting

So here's the news:  my ultrasound was fine. I think they thought I was nuts, even if my doc did find the lump too. Just for fun they found something in another area but decided that was really nothing too. I still have to go for a mammogram once Eleanor is weaned, but I needed to do that anyway. Mammograms, colonoscopies...the future is just loaded with medical amusement.

I was pretty impressed that they were able to locate my pre- and post-operative mammograms, though they didn't have them when I arrived and my surname was different then. They have also relocated since those were done. It made us all feel better that they were able to compare findings today with those films.

Eleanor, I am told, was entertaining the crowd in the waiting room. Nurses kept coming back to the waiting room to tell me I have an adorable baby. Yep, she's adorable. Except for the hour or so she cried tonight after going to bed. It remains to be seen whether she will sleep through the night. I am not holding my breath.


Me and my big fat fingers. Did I say Eleanor slept through the night three nights in a row? No, couldn't have been me.... Eleanor exacted her revenge by waking up screaming at 11:15pm last night, about 10 minutes after I fell asleep. I was aiming for bed at 10pm but got there at 11. Still better than when I aim for 11pm and get there after midnight.

That's the last time I make such bold pronouncements here. Eleanor does not, I repeat NOT, sleep through the night.