31 August 2008

wall to wall bears

I'm going to date myself with that title, I know. Some of my older readers will understand and I'm okay with that.

This morning I drove rescue dog Jack to Breezewood, PA, where he was picked up by one half of the couple that is going to be his foster family. In the two hour trip east on the PA turnpike I saw at least a dozen marked and unmarked troopers. Who knows how many I may have missed?

It being the end of the month, and a holiday weekend too, I probably should not have been surprised. Fortunately,  I did not get up close and personal with any of them.

Eleanor's new words:  duck, and she learned to blow kisses

30 August 2008

leave the diapers at home

Though I have spent the last two weeks second guessing our decision to have the kids in different daycares, in opposite directions from our house, I got a little reassurance on Friday. Oliver's new teacher asked if we had made any potty progress since last spring. When I told her we had made no progress at all she said words that sounded like music. "Leave the diapers at home." 

She would like us to bring a large supply of "big boy pants" and extra clothes. No problem. I'll bring her flowers every morning, and chocolate every afternoon if she can convince Oliver to join the ranks of the diaper-free.

Eleanor's new words: outside, ball

29 August 2008

oops....I did it again

A few weeks back my plurk buddies were privy to something they probably wish they had been spared. I shared that on that day, just before noon, I discovered why my panties suddenly felt like the waistband had shrunk dramatically. That's how it feels when you don't put your legs (one at a time, of course) through the proper holes in the panties. Give it a try and you'll soon discover what I mean. Not.Fun. 

At the time I blamed lack of sleep, dressing in the dark, anything I could think of. Today the only thing I can say is that I didn't make it out of the house without rectifying the situation. Progress!

In other news from the realm of déjà vu, we have the nomination of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. As I said earlier in the day, though I still have not consumed the Obama kool-aid, McCain just handed me the straw. The announcement struck me as shockingly similar to the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. It came out of no where, seems a little bit silly, and voters willing, won't go anywhere.

Couple of updates from old stuff:  I didn't hear any new words from Eleanor today but she did say "thank you" when CD gave her a cup of milk tonight, entirely unprompted. I guess she does know what it means!  And our rescue girl, Jill, went to her forever home this afternoon. It wasn't easy but I didn't cry.

28 August 2008

going home

Jill, the rescue Clumber, is going to a forever home tomorrow. I could not have imagined a better future for her. The new owner has had other Clumbers and has the complete trust of our rescue chair, even saying she would give her own dogs to this woman. High praise indeed. 

It also makes me happy to know Jill will be nearby, with someone who promises to keep me posted on how she's doing.

Now I just have to find a way to get Jack to New Jersey, the next step towards a long term foster home.

Eleanor's new words:  zebra, bee  (and more catching up: no, yes, hi)

27 August 2008

da da da...da da da

Since going to Maine and spending a few too many mornings watching Breakfast With the Sox, Oliver loves to watch SportsCenter in the morning. He asks for "highlights baseball" (not unusual, since he also talks about the "fieldouters") every morning. This morning we turned it on just in time for him to see a  bit about the Red Sox and the Yankees. Almost immediately he started shouting excitedly, "I see Kevin Youkilis! I see Jason Bay! Jason Bay, mummy! Jason Bay!"

You would have thought he had just seen Santa Claus.

Eleanor's words:  up, high, short (not new today but missed in the prior list); new today: beep-beep!

26 August 2008

open mike

I heard Michelle Obama referred to as fearless today, not so much for her speech at the convention last night, but for letting her young daughter near an open mike! Four years ago, I would not have understood. Today? Different story entirely.

While we're on the subject of the things kids say, Eleanor is in the midst of a little language explosion. She's gone from saying about six words for the last couple of weeks (mummy, daddy, bubba, baby, byebye, uh-oh) to more than ten almost overnight. There were at least two new ones just today (see below). I almost forgot her big one from last weekend, "swirl" (which translates to "squirrel").

In an effort to keep better track of her words, I'll be adding notes at the bottom of my daily posts with any new words. I didn't do a very good job as Oliver started talking. He had a bizarre word for elephant and none of us can remember what it was. Lots of his words required translation. Some still do, but his word for elephant was not anywhere close to being recognized if he had not said it while pointing at elephants consistently.

Eleanor's new words for today:  thank you, dancing

25 August 2008

all the news

Jack and Jill are doing well. Jack is spending a night at the vet after being neutered. Since he barked all last night I thought we could all use a break and they were willing to keep him.. Jill is starting to answer to her name and is being a very good girl. She's going to make someone a great dog someday soon. If all goes well, they will be in foster care by the weekend and another step closer to forever homes.

Eleanor had a great first full day at school. 

Oliver's new teacher wants to do a home visit. I thought that was just when he joined the school, not every year. Good thing the cleaners come tomorrow!

Classes started at work today and it's chaos. I still need another month to get ready.

I'm doing fantasy football and the draft is minutes away. Yet here I am, blogging, instead of poring over the rankings and stats. Why? Because I really don't care. A week ago it seemed like it would be fun. Now? Sleep messes with your head.

24 August 2008

rescue me

I have two new rescue dogs tonight. They did not come with names so we're calling them Jack and Jill. They do not appear to have any experience with leashes and limited experience with people. The little girl is coming along well. Her little tail wags all the time. The boy has a long way to go, but I think he will be okay eventually. They are both about three years old.

At the moment, the boy is barking his fool head off in my garage. Could have something to do with the girl being in full standing heat, at the other end of the garage. Ugh. We'll be taking care of that in the next day or two, once my vet can give them a few vaccines and tests. 

If all goes well, they will be in foster homes by the end of the week.

23 August 2008


I believe I mentioned belly bumping recently. Here's proof.

sewer lady

Oliver loves baseball cards. He got a small pack at at Pirate game a while back and has taken to holding them in the car. As soon as his buckle is snapped into place he asks for his cards, usually remembering which two he brought along and asking for them by name. Not all the cards are Pirates. He has one of the Portland Sea Dogs' mascot and a couple of others.

I was puzzled when he started asking for "sewer lady" on Friday. I had no idea what he was talking about. Then CD enlightened me. He wanted the Xavier Nady card.

Does Oliver know something I don't about Xavier's exploits since being traded to the Yankees?

22 August 2008

summer friends

Today was our last official nanny day. I warned her yesterday that if she cried, I would cry too and that would not be good. We all managed to hold it together nicely. I'm sure she will be back to babysit soon. Too bad that probably won't include all the other great stuff she did for us. It was a lot like having the wife so many women with full-time jobs outside the home need.

I will miss her! And so will Eleanor.

21 August 2008

in which, we meet the baby of Eleanor's dreams

It's no secret Eleanor is large. She's tipping the scales at 28.4 pounds this week, at 16 months of age. That's well over the 95th percentile for a girl her age. I recently became electronically acquainted with a BOUS (baby of unusual size) named Sumo. He could be the perfect match for Eleanor, a TOUS (toddler of unusual size) herself. Not everyone can truly appreciate her thighs and their fat rolls. Yes, women of a certain age tend to want to take a bite out of them, but it's not really the same.

I think if he really wants to live up to his name Sumo should visit us and let nature take its course, so to speak. I predict much belly-bumping and giggling, as only the under-2 set can do.

20 August 2008

running on empty

This isn't the first time during Blog365 that I have felt like I have nothing to say, but it IS the first time I have seriously considered saying, "Screw it. I'm going to bed."

Instead, I'm going to say, "There. I blogged. Now I'm going to bed."

19 August 2008

theater, with rabbits

It's not every day that bunnies hop through the set of a play, let alone appear on cue, but tonight at Quantum Theatre's production of Cymbeline that's exactly what happened. 

It is staged in a park, with a very sparse set, but it is a beautiful setting and we had a perfect night. We started the night off with a little picnic, and our first chance to talk in days. The play is crazy, with plot twists and turns that reminded me of roller coasters and soap operas, made all the more complex by having six or seven actors play more than 20 parts. Some of the switches are instantaneous and aided by very creative costuming.

I know I'm not doing it justice. There are only a few nights left. You really should go see it for yourself. Bunnies may or may not show themselves.

18 August 2008


Eleanor is having her first nap at school.

Mobile post sent by clumberkim using Utterz. reply-count Replies.

17 August 2008

with apologies to Venus Williams

As usual, Oliver saved his best material of the week for Sonday. We were watching the ladies' doubles gold medal match this morning. Tennis is one of Oliver's favorite sports. He asked the names of the American girls and I told him they were Venus and Serena Williams. He's been studying his planets placemat of late so "venus" was not a new word for him.  And yet...

When CD came downstairs after the conclusion of the match he wanted to tell Daddy who won. "Penis and Serena Williams!" he announced proudly. I think maybe we've been pushing the potty stuff a little too hard.

16 August 2008

baby boom

There are two baby elephants at the Pittsburgh Zoo. I'm not sure if this is Angelina or Zuri but neither of them look real when you see them. They look a bit like toy elephants standing with their mums. Then they move and the cuteness about kills you. The baby tiger is cute too, but there's something extra going on with the elephants.

It was a quick trip to the zoo for us today, less than two hours. We should have aimed to get there at 9 because the crowds are nuts. We may try to go again on one of the days Oliver doesn't have school later in the month. Fortunately, we live about 10 minutes away and really can go anytime.

15 August 2008

the dark side, the brown side

Regular readers are probably thinking this is going to be one of those TMI posts. Fear not. This is not a post about that kind of brown. No, we're talking brown dogs here. Sussex spaniels, for a change.

I spent the afternoon handling Sussex at a judges' clinic, where judges go to learn about breeds they are not yet approved to judge from breed experts. I'm just a volunteer but a little face time with judges never hurts.

The dog I was given, Hughie, was adorable. He's a two year old and still a baby by Sussex standards, since the boys don't really come into their own until 4 or sometimes even 5. He's on the small side, though within the standard for the breed. He even has a good bite, which is somewhat rare for Sussex. Best of all, he has my favorite Sussex attitude.

I have mentioned JT before. She has two brown dogs. Widgeon, who cannot stand to be outside of her oxygen and PG, who loves everyone, even me, and especially loves children. Hughie reminds me of PG and has the pedigree to confirm it. In short, I want this boy badly. He's perfect for us. I want to show a little bit, maybe once or twice every two months, as I ease my way back into showing. He's not ready for a serious campaign, but showing here and there would not be bad for him. I could also play with him in the hunt and tracking fields if he likes that sort of thing.

The stumbling block is CD. He likes Clumbers a lot. So do I. A Sussex would be fun but will never supplant the Clumbers in our house. CD hasn't spent time with Sussex so I think it's just that he doesn't know what they are like. They are smaller, goofier Clumbers. The other problem is that anything that is my idea tends to be discounted. I don't have a good strategy for solving this problem but I have a few weeks to work on it. Wish me luck.

14 August 2008


The pre-semester panic has officially set in, with a vengeance. Even if I didn't sleep or see my family for the next ten days we would not be ready for classes to start. We'll function, but not at full strength. There will be things not done, equipment that hasn't arrived, students not hired. Not exactly the first impression I hoped to make, but the summer is barely long enough when you can hit the ground running after graduation. This year we started six weeks late, with me coming on board in late June and a new department head starting July 1. It's a little like trying to get it all done with one arm tied behind your back.

To top things off, Eleanor starts going to daycare Monday and we have to do "the welcoming process." I have blogged about this before, even referring to it as daycare for people who don't need daycare. In a nutshell, she can only be there part of the day for the first week, and one parent must be with her the whole time. Hello? It's the week before classes start! This is university daycare! Do they not look at the academic calendar? I know they do, and I know there are good reasons for the schedule and the process, but I don't have to like it. The next two weeks were going to suck, even without this added complication.

What I am dreading most of all is the end of the nanny. I am going to miss having my errands done, dinner started, laundry folded, and the floor mopped. It's been just like having a wife. Every woman working outside the home should have one.

Enough whining. Time to go to bed so I can function tomorrow.

13 August 2008

two great tastes redux

Bacon and cheese has been done here on Wednesday Bacon. But what about bacon and chocolate? A few of you have mentioned this combination to me, either in comments or privately. Though Vosges is one of my favorite chocolate companies, I have not yet tried this delightful-sounding concoction of chocolate and bacon. (Thanks, Susan!)

If the Vosges bacon chocolate bar were dark chocolate, wild horses couldn't keep me away. But it's milk chocolate, so I'll probably choose it only if I don't see the Red Fire bar, or something that combines dark chocolate and hazelnuts. On second thought, you know I talk a good game but you know I'm buying both!

12 August 2008


I've been at my new job for nearly two months now. You may recall I wasn't exactly sure this was going to be a good thing. I wildly understated the grimness and wildly overstated my optimism, mostly because I wasn't sure who might be reading. I can now say much of the grim is gone, and there's a plan for fixing a bit more soon. Some things I did not expect to get better are going surprisingly well. The week I was in Maine there were even a few moments, mostly around 5:30 in the morning and two kids were looking for breakfast, when I started looking forward to getting back to the office. 

One really fun part of the job has been researching some new equipment and spending some serious coin. Did you know it's possible to spend $14k on a scanner? Until very recently, I would have guessed no. I've bought three plotters (one also weighing in around $14k), fifteen PCs, the aforementioned scanner, and just for good measure, a server. That's some serious shopping endorphins! 

There's been a bit of software to buy too. Last Friday we were looking at renewing some licenses that cost around $21k last year. The quote came in at $29k. By the end of the day on Monday, by virtue of a couple of serendipitous phone calls my outstanding research and negotiating skills, I had bought more seats of the same software and paid around $11k for it. Gold star on my forehead, no?

I may be spending someone else's money but it's still pretty fun. Now I just need to work on getting the students to stay away for a few more weeks. We are not ready, and will not be ready for classes to start in less than two weeks. I may be working financial miracles but that one is just a little bit beyond my skill set.

11 August 2008


Oliver is a bit under the weather with a very stuffy nose and slight fever (which developed later in the day). He insists "I am feeling well!" quite authoritatively one minute, then says, "I am not feeling well" with just as much conviction the next. And in between he's asking for a "nosewipe" every 2.6 seconds. We really need to buy stock in Kleenex.

He was up a few times in the night too, mostly due to the congestion, though he trotted out the standard "bad dream about baseball" a few times too. I keep telling him there are no bad dreams in baseball (except maybe Manny as a Yankee).

We are scheduled to bring snack to his school tomorrow. The handbook does not seem to cover what to do if one's kid is sick on their snack day.

10 August 2008

sonday sportscaster

Oliver saved his best material for the end of Sonday. I should not have worried that I would have nothing to blog tonight. While CD was giving Eleanor a bath, Oliver and I headed outside for a little ring toss. We haven't played in a few months and I almost forgot we had it but I was desperate for something other than baseball.

It was yet another time I wish I could record all the little moments. At one point he removed one of the plastic sticks from the ground and started using it as a microphone, breaking into a "Pinky Pinkerton" (of Bunnytown fame) impersonation. I'm not sure what made our little game of ring toss qualify as Super Silly Sports, but it clearly did in his mind. He gave running commentary, pulled a blade of grass that he presented to me as a trophy, and "signed off" just like Pinky. Then he realized how silly it all was and we both rolled on the grass giggling our heads off. I thought I would die right there of a cuteness overdose.

Other than this blog, and occasional video and photos, all I have is my increasingly faulty memory to keep track of all the little moments of childhood. As BurghBaby's Mom recently noted, we can't put them in bottles. How do the other parents out there solve this problem?

09 August 2008

of olympic proportion

I realized today this is the first summer olympics for my kids. They won't remember, of course, just like I don't remember much before the winter olympics in Lake Placid in 1980. I always watch the Olympics. Always. My first summer out of college, 1988, was the Seoul games. I was living alone in my first apartment, and pretty determined to NOT have a tv. I made it through both the republican and democratic national conventions with just a radio. Then the Olympics were starting. I think it was an hour before the opening ceremonies that I succumbed to the lure and bought a tv.

Oliver watched a little women's basketball, a little beach volleyball, and a little soccer today. All things being equal, he'd rather watch or play baseball. Maybe four years from now the story will be different. The summer games will be in London and we have family a short train ride south. Kids will be 7 and 5, so there's hope for it being a memorable experience. Maybe I should warn the family we're coming. (Hi Laura! Tell your mum!) I should also start trying to get CD on board with this plan since it needs to be his idea or it won't happen. (harrumph)

All things being equal, I'd rather go to the winter games. Figure skating tops my list, since skiing is better to watch on tv. Back in the day, when they started planning the Salt Lake City games, I was living in Walla Walla, WA and had every intention of going. Then I moved to Pittsburgh before they happened. I wish I could say that had no bearing on my decision to move but it was a (very small) factor, as I went back and forth trying to decide whether to make the move or not. Ultimately, I'd say I made the right choice.

08 August 2008

kiss it goodbye

Our highchair days are numbered and much as I love its Eric Carle/Hungry Caterpillar design, I am tired of its presence in my dining room. I cannot wait to see how much larger the room seems when it is gone. Been looking at it non-stop since September of 2005. Long enough.

As of yesterday, Oliver is in a big chair with a booster and Eleanor has his tripp trapp chair. She's doing better in it now that I remembered to adjust it back to where Oliver started.

This is only a preview of the big furniture shift slated for January. The crib in Eleanor's room will morph into a full size bed and relocate to Oliver's room. His toddler bed will go to Eleanor. The dresser in Eleanor's room will lose the changing table top and land in Oliver's room with a new hutch-style top. His dresser will move to Eleanor's room. Got all that?

07 August 2008

it's in the bag, but which one?

In about 10 days I will start schlepping a kid on the bus with me in the morning. It will be Oliver for a week, then Eleanor for the foreseeable future. (Long, complicated logistical story. Very, very boring.) It's not a long ride, and I'll get a seat most days, but it's still the bus, with a kid, so I'm looking for ways to make it all go as smoothly as possible.

Step one is finding a really good bag. I'm a bit of a bag junkie and find searching for a great bag to be fun, but in this case I am looking to you, oh wise internets, for suggestions. I have looked a little and nothing is speaking to me yet.

Here are the key things I will likely be carrying most days: 
  • kid (almost 16 months old and about 28 pounds)
  • lunch (mine)
  • mom crap (I don't have a huge purse but I carry more than a wallet)
  • kid crap (not consistent, anything too big I can send in the car with CD for arrival later)
  • work crap (the occasional file folder, nothing more)
Sometimes I may have a laptop but I am working hard to make that a rare event.

Ideally, the bag would be lightweight and fairly professional looking A diaper bag with cute little elephants and flowers isn't gonna cut it. Neither is a 10 pound leather number. Since I work in an academic environment I don't have to go with a corporate look.

Leave your suggestions in the comments!

06 August 2008

who put the salad on the grill?

Wednesday Bacon is back. In my search for some new bacon recipes I discovered an odd, at least to me, idea -- grilling salad greens. Even during the summer when throwing anything and everything on the grill seems like a good idea, I'm not entirely buying it. 

Sara Foster got me thinking about this a little more by throwing scallions on the grill during the class I attended last week. I never would have thought to do that on my own. Then I started wondering what other grilling opportunities I was missing.

So maybe it's not a trend but here they are, recipes that include grilled romaine, grilled radicchio, and more grilled radicchio. And they all have bacon, in one form or another, in them too. How bad can they be?

Have you tried grilling radicchio or romaine? I want to hear about it!

05 August 2008

the trade

It's taken me a few days to recover from last week's monumental event. No, not the day I spent without children in Maine, doing whatever I wanted (shopping, eating, shopping, and a cooking class). I am referring to The Trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to the Red Sox, and four guys I'd never heard of to the Pirates.

I was in denial as talk of an imminent trade revved up, and it was a happy place to be. No way could Manny leave. He's a volcano, I said. He erupts every once in a while, then settles back down. I hoped the Red Sox could let yet another episode of Manny being Manny slide. Um, no. At the last second, Theo pulled the trigger on the three-way. (Did you know Theo's grandfather was the co-writer of Casablanca? Wow.)

Then I spent a day whining about how crappy Jason Bay has played in Pittsburgh the last two years. And how the Pirates probably still ended up with the poopy diaper in the deal. (What can I say? I take my metaphors where I find them.)

Of course, it's now looking remarkably different than I anticipated. Oliver, who last week thought Manny and his "locks" were all that AND a bag of chips, is taking the whole thing very well. He will now tell you Manny plays for the Dodgers and Jason Bay plays for the Red Sox and all is right with his world. He asked me to take his picture of Manny off the wall this morning. Then asked to have it put up again tonight. We will probably do a few rounds of this but that's okay. It's just a cork board. 

Manny has been shooting off his mouth and looking silly. Bay has been talking with his bat and his glove. And the Pirates? Meh. Are they still playing? And me? A few days of NESN has left me completely spoilt.

04 August 2008

must have done something right

I kept my expectations low for today's travel adventure. The idea of CD's flights all being on-time, and me getting to Boston with the kids, including returning the car and checking in alone, at the right time to meet him was too much to even consider. 

Remarkably, it all went well. Eleanor was fussy during the drive to Boston but Oliver slept through it so the only one she bothered was me. And I'm used to it.

Once again, Ellie didn't nap and didn't sleep on the plane until we were landing, but she screamed a lot less this time, perhaps because she was hanging out with CD instead of me. And the best part? There were no nearby adults who were visibly allergic to children this time.

We're all tired but glad to be home. Back to work tomorrow.

03 August 2008

sacrifice to the travel gods

I know about burying a St Joseph to bring good luck when trying to sell a house (though I wasn't smart enough to actually do it). But what is the appropriate sacrifice to make to the travel gods? 

At present, I am in Maine and CD is near London. In about 5 hours he flies from Heathrow to Dublin. Then he catches a plane from Dublin to Boston, with a stopover in Shannon. We are scheduled to arrive in Boston at about the same time, though I will be arriving with the kids in our rental car. The plan is to meet at the gate for our flight to Pittsburgh, since he has to claim a bag, clear customs, and re-check his bag when he gets to Boston.

There are so many things that could go wrong, I can't even run through the possibilities without risking total brain implosion. 

I do know this, though. If I get to Pittsburgh without CD I'm going to have a hell of a time finding the car in the vast wasteland that is long term parking.

02 August 2008

not to be outdone

Eleanor wants to be a ship's captain too.

01 August 2008

hay maze

hay maze
Originally uploaded by clumberkim
Excuse the exceedingly lame blogging. The kids have decided that sleeping at night is optional and torturing their mum at 5am is mandatory.

Today Aunt Suzy and I took Oliver to "A Day Out With Thomas". As much as he liked the train ride, the hay maze seems to have been the biggest hit of the day.