30 June 2008

another day, another daylily

We are gearing up for a daylily explosion. There are more buds than I have ever seen. They seem to like the new house (can I still call it that? we've been here over a year now) as much as the humans do. Or maybe it is the worm castings I fed them. Who knows?

I am hoping to get my daylily connection to visit my little Flickr set and remind me of the names of each variety. I have about a dozen different varieties now, though I have pictures of less than half. If all goes well, I'll have pics of everything before the end of the season. 

I had a nice little map of the daylily bed at the old house but it was so hard to dig up pieces of each one that I gave up trying to keep them organized. Add to that the new ones I planted this year and I'm completely lost.

29 June 2008

sonday at the movies?

This is for all of you who have seen WallE. Should I take Oliver? He likes movies, especially the ones from Pixar. Come to think of it, he hasn't seen one that Uncle Steve hasn't had a hand in. Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Curious George...okay, there's ONE non-Pixar movie on his list, but you get the idea. His attention span is definitely there. This is a kid who can sit through an entire 9 inning baseball game.

But what about the movies? I had a bad experience taking a kid to a movie theater once. I was living in Walla Walla and the kid was 6 or so. His parents failed to mention he had only seen animated movies and this one was live action (The Indian In the Cupboard). Kid lasted about 4 minutes before asking to leave. He was completely freaked out. 

So, if you've seen WallE, please tell me what you think about attempting it with a 3 year old.

28 June 2008

two days late

I'm two days late on my three year blogiversary. I thought about it a couple of weeks ago, but didn't bother looking up the exact date. Then tonight, while looking up the details of Oliver's experience with hand, foot and mouth disease for another blogger who is dealing with it, while trying not to compare what Oliver was doing at this stage of development with what Eleanor is doing, and stumbled upon the date of my first entry, 26 June, 2005.

Happy birthday, little blog.

final sprint

I had the chance to see a bit of the final sprint at today's stage of the Tour of PA, the last before tomorrow's circuit race through downtown. It served to confirm my desire to take CD to France one day for a stage or two of the Tour de France. We watch it every year on TV but this was different. Sure, it's smaller than the Tour de France, but it was great to see live riders and to be so close to the action.

It was a little bit accidental that I was even there. After music class, CD took the kids home and I met up with a friend for a great afternoon on the south side of the 'burgh. We kind of knew when the finish would be but the riders were late due to a headwind. Fortunately, there were plenty of shops to keep us amused.

27 June 2008

fantastic fare

After Monday, when I kind of lost my mind, it really wasn't a bad week. Each night, after Monday, it was pretty easy to get home, get dinner on the table, play with kids, and put them to bed. It was remarkably low stress. How? A Fare to Remember at Home. The owner, Jeanne Lewis, is nothing short of a miracle worker. I first met her in February of 2003. Cyrus had just proposed and we wanted to get married fairly quickly, probably that May or thereabouts. Jeanne had catered Tara's wedding and she raved about the results. We didn't know Tara at the time of her wedding so we didn't have first hand experience but knew to trust Tara.

We let Jeanne choose our wedding date. She had exactly one opening in the time frame we wanted, so we jumped at it and made everything else fit. Our results were equally good. People took pictures of our food, and still talk about it. My dream party includes hiring Jeanne again. Someday....

So fast forward a few years and Tara yet again tells me about what Jeanne is up to. Now she's making food to take home and pass off as your own creation heat. Tara aimed me at some discounted gift certificates and I was sold. The shop is a bit out of the way but I was in the vicinity last Saturday so I stopped by, arriving moments before they closed, and picked up a few entrees and a couple of sides. Alas, Jeanne was off catering some very lucky couple's wedding so I didn't get to see her.

Once again, Jeanne did not disappoint. The food is amazing, easy to prepare, and even easier to clean up. We didn't have it every night this week but just knowing it is there, waiting patiently in my freezer, made me relax a little. It is simple to prepare so I had the nanny get things started and it was all nearly ready when I got home. We had meatloaf on Wednesday (and I added the leftovers to tomato sauce for pasta on Thursday) and Lemon Chicken tonight. I was worried the kids might not go along but they ate it without much protest. No more than the usual from Oliver, anyway.

As long as I plan things in advance, I can do one or two of these meals a week and not go entirely bankrupt. It's well worth the cost to be playing with kids and not fretting about dinner.

26 June 2008

not so original after all

It seems I'm not the only one who thinks about Bacon on Wednesday. (please don't notice that it isn't wednesday, please don't notice that it isn't wednesday, repeat as needed)

Inevitable, I suppose. I am original only in my head.

25 June 2008


No, I only dream of being considered svelte. It's the word for Penguin this time. She had her annual checkup today and has lost 13 pounds in the last six months. All those frozen green beans I've been using to fill up her bowl have paid off. At her age (10), getting rid of the extra pounds was important, as well as challenging. The vet was very impressed, and with the exception of some vision loss, declared her to be in great shape.

Then came the very sad news that her sire passed away today. He was a monument in the breed, the only three time best of breed winner at the national specialty, sire of many champions, I could go on and on. His outline was as close to being a living picture of the breed standard as I've ever seen but to me, the best thing about him was his temperament. It was exactly what I want in my next dog, and utterly impossible to put into words. You had to have met him. I'm so sad for his owners, and sad to be reminded that his daughter will not be with us forever either.

24 June 2008

a little better

Today was significantly better at home. I got to play with the kids more before they went to bed. It seems like Monday is going to be the bad day. I could make it better by having dinner in the crock pot (assuming I replace the glass lid I broke) or something else that can be done ahead. Today I left a few tasks for the nanny, including putting a turkey tenderloin in the oven. It was done as we walked in the door and little else needed to be done (thank you, Trader Joe's frozen brown rice -- done in 3 minutes, the time it takes me to change out of work clothes). CD's conference call was cancelled so that made things easier too. He could play baseball with Oliver and I could let Eleanor wear herself out by walking up and down our street. They got to visit the neighbor's hatching chicks too. A beautiful day, a nice evening, and I'll be in bed before 11pm. 

Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting the hang of this.

23 June 2008

back in the saddle, not sure it fits

So I survived my first day back at work. It was a little grim in spots but should improve.

The even more grim part is that I barely saw my kids today. I had a whole hour with Oliver and half that with Eleanor this morning. When we got home I had to get dinner on the table while CD had a conference call. After they ate, the kids played with CD while I cleaned up their dinner, made our dinner, started laundry, put out the trash and recycling, fed the dogs, and poop scooped the yard. Then it was time for them to go to bed.

I'm not going to keep them up later so I can see more of them. They need their sleep and that's not the answer to this problem.

22 June 2008

T minus 9 hours

I'm supposed to be in bed by now. My grand plan involved, among other things, going to bed at 10pm so getting up at 6am would be less painful. Since it is nearly 11pm, you can see how the plan's execution is coming along.

We have made a few strides towards preventing the family from spinning into chaos tomorrow when I go back to work.  There's a checklist of stuff that has to be done in the morning. I'll check off what I get done before I leave for the bus and CD will have to take care of the rest, possibly leaving one or two items for the nanny (brushing Eleanor's teeth, for example). 

There's also a plan for dinner all week, and with the exception of a vet appointment for Penguin, nothing extra on the calendar, so far. Finally, I have some clothes planned for the week, though not necessarily coordinated with the weather forecast. There will be choices, but in a good way. After some fairly extensive, not to mention expensive, shopping trips last week, I will not look in the closet and say I haven't anything to wear. Shoes were last, solved somewhat today. Since having babies, my feet have expanded. Most of my favorite shoes will have to be donated or given away. Sad, but time to move on, in that and many other ways.

21 June 2008

brushing up

Oliver is having a great time at "summer camp". He is especially excited about Tuesday and Thursday, when there is some form of water play. It was too cold for the sprinklers so little buckets and paintbrushes came out. Oliver and a friend "painted" the outside of the building.

I wonder if I can get him to help me with the trim in his room. It has needed another coat for many months now.

20 June 2008

be a smart ass, without even trying

Actual conversation, just moments ago, after CD changed the channel on the tv. A movie is clearly starting, complete with opening credits.

Me: What's this?

CD: A film.

This must be why my husband sits about six feet away from me on the couch. If he sat any closer I would have to smack him.

19 June 2008

nanny job description

The nanny started working with us on Tuesday and she's terrific. Eleanor obviously likes her and they are having fun. I have been around a lot this week, though mostly trying to stay out of the way. At one point yesterday I heard a "thump" followed by crying and had to remember to stay in my room (near the bathroom...that was important yesterday) and let the nanny handle it. Eleanor stopped crying in about 20 seconds.

I'm wondering about what people with nannies think about the down-time. For example, Ellie sleeps at least four hours during the day, sometimes more. Our nanny has said she loves to clean but should I leave her a list of tasks to do during naptimes, things like vacuuming maybe? Should I ask her to do laundry? She offered to help with that too. I'm paying her more per hour than I usually pay a sitter to be with both kids when they are sleeping in the evening so it is very tempting.

Since we are hoping to get Eleanor in to day care for the fall, I don't want to get spoiled. On the other hand, some extra help with house stuff while I am transitioning back to work might be nice.

What do you think? Should I be brave or am I thinking about asking too much?

see you in 5 years

The short version of the colonoscopy is that all is well, see you in five years. The only slightly longer version is that the day before is the worst part. The neighbor doc and I discussed alternatives to the preparation I was given and decided I would get something else next time, even if insurance won't pay for it. Unfortunately, I had lots of time yesterday to poke around on the internets and discover there are more pleasant ways to make my colon bright and shiny for its closeup. (Thanks Suzy!) If you want to know more, contact me by email (clumber at gmail dot com). 

The only issue now is that I can't stay awake. Ordinarily that would not be a problem but my new office called to ask me to send a bio and headshot. I can't seem to get iPhoto to crop anything and leave the resolution mostly intact. And I cannot turn my resume into a bio that doesn't sound like something straight out of high school. I need to go back to sleep!

18 June 2008

not THAT cold!

It was in the 60s yesterday. After the heat and humidity we have been having, people were suddenly very cold. Still, I didn't see anyone wearing one of these.

17 June 2008

move along. nothing to see here

Forgive the meager blogging for the next day and a half or so. (Will be cueing up Wednesday Bacon tonight.) Tomorrow is the dreaded colonoscopy prep day, followed by the big event on Thursday. I promise the blog will once again be as safe for human consumption as it was previously sometime Thursday afternoon.

Thank goodness for the amazing nanny, who started today. I'll be able to retire to the master suite tomorrow and not emerge unless I want to.

16 June 2008

the house! that isn't sold!

So our house, the old one? The one we haven't lived in since March of last year? It isn't sold. Still. And as of tomorrow, it is also no longer for sale. Not on the market. At all. 

We haven't given up entirely but we decided to try renting it instead. And thanks to the wicked awesome (that's Maine for "way cool") Burgh Moms dinner a couple of weeks ago, it's rented to some really, really nice people.

Between going back to work next week and getting the house rented, we may have stemmed the financial tide. No sandbags required.

15 June 2008


After watching Pittsburgher Rocco Mediate almost win the US Open today, until Tiger Woods tied him with a birdie on the last hole to send it to an 18 hole playoff tomorrow, I'm thinking about golf today. I have previously mentioned a little golf here, though I don't think I revealed the depths of my love of the game. It goes pretty far back. I remember watching golf on tv, willingly, as early as high school, but it could have easily happened before that. Some time in 1991 or 1992 I happened upon a book called Driving the Green and the obsession really got going. It is, as David Halberstam said, "A wonderful account of two of our great national sports, playing golf and wheeling and dealing in commercial real estate." For many years I read that book every year, and I rarely read books more than once (unless they are written by Jane Austen). It wasn't the only book on golf I have read, just the first of many.

The interesting thing is I have never swung a club on a real course. I have walked courses, been to tournaments, and I've played miniature golf (usually very badly) but never real clubs on an 18 hole course. Mini golf is one of the few things, along with pool, that I enjoy immensely in spite of my dismal skills.

I once had a friend call me while he was at St Andrews, waiting for his tee time on the Old Course, because he knew I would understand and share his joy. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

Last year the Open was here in Pittsburgh. My brother, who was working at the tournament, stayed with us and brought Oliver a set of little plastic clubs, ones he still plays with despite some serious duct tape reinforcing. I hear my five year old neighbor is taking lessons. I am going to have to investigate when Oliver can start.

My mom picked up golf in her early 70s so I suppose there is still time.

14 June 2008

widow no more

I've been referring to myself as a WWDC widow this week. No more. CD is home. He took the bus in from the airport and I fetched him at the stop rather than making him board a second bus that would take him steps from our street. The pouring rain made the decision easier.

I took Eleanor with me on the pickup run, but left Oliver at a neighbor's birthday party. He spotted our van when it rounded the corner coming back and was positively vibrating when he spotted Daddy. He had been wound up for days and I was hoping for a release of energy that would calm him down. Forgot I was dealing with a three year old. When will I learn?

No more travel, that we know of anyway, until late July, when we all fly to Boston before going on separately. Him to Dublin. The kids and me to Maine. I get to be the ietf widow that week. That doesn't mean the next few weeks aren't going to be interesting. 

On tap for this week:  Nanny starts on Tuesday and I have a colonoscopy on Thursday. (I know you all are soooo jealous about that one.) And the week after, I start working on Monday. I hope somewhere in there we will figure out how this is all going to work. I've been carrying the load at home, and happy to do it, for the last year and a half. I know I can't do all that and work full-time too. 

Wish us luck. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

13 June 2008

no Colin Firth

I should be cleaning up the house in anticipation of the end of wwdc-widowhood so, of course, I am watching a movie. I kept meaning to watch Pride & Prejudice when was available on-demand and just never managed it. Subconsciously I think I was avoiding it, since this version is lacking a key element, namely Colin Firth. Turns out, it's pretty much okay, except for the Colin Firth part. And Keira Knightley's hair.

dying of cuteness

This might be the cutest thing I have ever seen. Now I know why I have a girl. Love all the blocks and trains and trucks and diggers and such, but "a lass who knows her legumes"? My kind of princess. I'm resisting, just barely. (thanks to ohdeedoh)

12 June 2008

two more sleeps, if I'm lucky

When CD is away, I help Oliver keep track of when Daddy returns by saying, "x sleeps before Daddy comes home." For example, it's Thursday and CD comes back Saturday. Two more sleeps. I have been doing it for a while now, at least a year, but never had any indication that it was helping him. When I picked him up at "summer camp" today, sleep was the hot topic, as in, "Oliver didn't take a nap today." This hasn't happened in, well, I can't remember back that far. He always takes an afternoon nap. It's usually at least 90 minutes too. He's a champion napper. The teachers also told me Oliver was talking about how many sleeps until Daddy comes home. I guess it really is useful to him.

No matter how hard I try, I never get to bed early when CD is away. I think I will. I plan for it. And when it comes to execution I fail. Miserably. I have not had more than five hours of sleep any night since he left for Madison. About the time I have to go fetch Oliver I am soooo ready for a nap. It's a struggle to stay awake through dinner, playtime, and getting both of them into bed. I hope CD takes Father's day to heart and decides he wants to spend the day being a full-on dad. I'll be taking a nap.

11 June 2008

two great tastes that taste great together

The depths of my love for bacon has been amply expressed here, but perhaps I have been negligent regarding my admiration for cheese. I will attempt to remedy that now.

We eat a lot of cheese. There are the usual suspects, like pizza and pasta with a little parmesan. CD got me hooked on the stinky blue stuff, especially really good stilton. Whole Foods had some of my favorite today, from Burough Market. And with CD at WWDC, I get it all to myself. Lately he's been scarfing it down without sharing. 

Then there is my love for mac and cheese. I love making it almost as much as I love eating it. I'll eat the stuff that comes in a blue box and is a color not found in nature and enjoy it as much as the homemade stuff made with Gruyere and topped with breadcrumbs. My arteries slam shut just thinking about it, but what a way to go.

If you want to really make my heart sing, add some bacon. When I was growing up, my mom would occasionally spruce up the mac and cheese with slices of hot dog. We were not particularly adventurous in our cuisine back then. I don't think I saw garlic in the house until I was in college.

As the tv chef I would most like to eat with, Ina Garten, says, this is mac and cheese for grownups. Another Food Network person has a version too, but I'm still trying to pretend she doesn't exist.

first of the season

The first daylily is open!

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10 June 2008

rehashing reunion

The good:  Catching up with so many friends, talking with a few I did not know well while I was a student, just being in Williamstown. Oliver latched on to a few great kids and had an absolute blast. At one point he told me he wanted to go to school there too. Ah, my work was done! Also good was having Clare along. She's amazing and we are so lucky to know her. The long drives were made shorter by having her to chat with. I was initially worried about the cost but now I think we underpaid her. 

The bad:  Not much, really. The weather was hot and humid on Saturday and Sunday. I could have done without that. Due to a power outage, I took a shower in the dark on Saturday before dinner. But I was in Williamstown and can overlook at lot when I am there. 

The ugly:  CD had a nightmare trip from Madison, and getting out wasn't much better. Due to weather, the delays out of Madison were so bad he finally drove to Chicago. Once there, he had more delays. His flight did take off, but returned to O'Hare due to a radar problem. Scheduled to arrive in Albany at 7pm on Friday, he arrived at 11am on Saturday. He got 3 hours of sleep Friday night. After 21 hours in Williamstown, he was delayed out of Albany on Sunday. Then had to sit at least 2 hours on the tarmac before taking off. He barely made his changed connection at O'Hare but did get to San Francisco Sunday evening for WWDC. In an effort to recognize his heroic efforts, a friend is helping me have some tasty chocolate delivered to his hotel tomorrow. (I hope he doesn't decide to read this before then!)

stevenote in 60 seconds

The good folks at Mahalo Daily have done it again.

09 June 2008

in good time

The reunion re-hash will have to wait another day. In spite of some stellar napping on Eleanor's part (2+ hours this morning and 3 hours this afternoon), I didn't get much done. Drop off at Oliver's summer camp took a while, and I spent a bit of time on the phone tracking down some items I left in my dorm room yesterday. Then the steve-note happened and I had to follow all the coverage on-line so I could find out why CD has been crazy-busy at work, and waving his arms in his sleep (always a sign of stress). And there was a Trader Joe's run, and the Oliver pickup. Then five of us from the neighborhood ditched our children (and in some cases, spouses) and went out to dinner and a movie.

In short, I'm exhausted. More tomorrow.

08 June 2008

more dancing cows

I hear the person who built this drove it from St Louis. I'll bet there were some interesting conversations at the rest stops.

It was incredibly hot at the parade but I didn't get close enough to the cows to benefit from the water squirting from the udders.

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07 June 2008

Decked out for the parade

Oliver's dancing cow tattoo! He loved it and showed everyone.

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06 June 2008


Dancing cows seems to be the weekend theme.

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05 June 2008

Evening on the porch

A beautiful evening in Williamstown. A lovely porch, gelato, and my iPhone. Very relaxing after a long drive. Smartest move so far? Bringing the most wonderful sitter along. I can tell we are all going to have fun.

I love this place. Wish I could move back.

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04 June 2008

WB bonus edition

Eleanor and I happened upon this cupcake in our travels out and about today. It purports to be a pancakes & syrup cupcake, with bacon. The bacon was very tasty. The cupcake was average. (For over the top tasty cupcakes in Pittsburgh, I recommend Coco's. The source of this one is a distant second, mostly due to variability in quality. Like Charlie Brown on Halloween, sometimes you get rocks.)


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follow the yellow brick road, but which one?

Thanks to the burgh moms, I have a bunch of new, local readers. I am going to take advantage of that by asking for some advice.

I'm getting up close and personal with google maps today, trying to determine the best route to my college reunion. We leave at 0-dark-thirty tomorrow morning and hope to get there in time for a relaxed dinner before the kids' bedtime. It's a long ass drive, no matter how you slice it, but there are two choices from the burgh to Billsville.

I can head towards Kitanning, take I-80, then 81, 84, and 87, thus saving 9 minutes and avoiding New Jersey but driving on 80 for what feels like an eternity; OR I can take the PA Turnpike, then 81, 78, 287, and 87. The latter is the route we took to central Massachusetts last summer. We saw lots of accidents, went through NYC (GW Bridge even) at rush hour in a thunderstorm and it took 12 hours, but Eleanor was only 8 weeks old and we had to stop frequently.

[I'm all set once I find 87 or the Taconic Parkway. I am consulting an alternate team of experts for that question.]

So, burghers and others what do you think? That's what the comment thingy is for.

nobody puts bacon in a can

Like Baby, off in that corner, someone has put bacon in a can. Sounds truly disgusting to me.

03 June 2008

like I said, toothpicks

Courtesy of Uncle Crappy via Twitter.

my kingdom for a couple of toothpicks

Need something to prop my eyelids open. Too.much.hockey. Way.too.late.

Maybe bring a really big box of toothpicks, for the whole city. We're tired, but it's a very good kind of tired.

Eleanor didn't wake up to nurse this morning, probably sensing her mum didn't really need to be up at 4:30am after staying up to watch the game and all three overtime periods. I am not allowing myself to wonder, even a little bit, if we are done nursing. It does give me hope that the end will perhaps be her idea though. That would make it easier.

02 June 2008

dealing with jobs and peanut butter

The job is a done deal. I'll probably start on June 23, assuming I sort out something for Eleanor. I have been completely shut out on day care. Everyone has room for a three year old. Nobody has a spot for a 1 year old. I'm interviewing a nanny tomorrow. It's not my preference but it would only be for the summer as I am still hoping for a day care spot by fall. It's time for Eleanor to be with other kids.

Without going into too much detail, I'm returning to my former employer. Same job, more or less, different department. It's that fuzzy end of the lollipop thing I have trouble shaking.

In a move sure to trash my chances of being nominated for mother of the year, I bought some soy nut butter and some sunflower seed butter. Deception will commence tomorrow. I have confessed to at least one previous instance of food fraud with Oliver. The fact is I regularly tell him a wide variety of things are chicken. Someday I will have to talk my way out of this particular corner. Not today.

01 June 2008

root root root

Before I took out the camera, Oliver was singing his way through dinner, making up new words to old songs. My favorite was a variation on "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" when he said "root, root, root for the Ma-mas" as I was getting Eleanor's tray for dinner. I will have to make hot dogs more often.

When the camera came out his inner ham took over. I am going to have to start being more sneaky and hiding the camera. I never seem to capture the really good stuff. Still, not bad for a kid who is barely 3 years old.