30 November 2008

the end

It's the end of NaBloPoMo, or NaBloSucMo as I have taken to calling it. (And the internet heaves a collective sigh of relief.) I would feel better if I didn't have 31 days of Blog365 remaining, but it still feels good. This is the third year I've done the NaBlo thing and I don't think I will do it next year. Next year I'm turning my focus to quality rather than quantity. I'll try to post every day but I'm not going to blog just for that reason. As you have no doubt noticed, I frequently have nothing to say. I'm thankful for adorable and photogenic kids on those days.

29 November 2008

24 days of Christmas, or why I don't have to worry about surviving Blog365 anymore

My sister Suzy has a long history of extreme generosity, yet she still manages to surprise me regularly. A large box from Suzy arrived on Wednesday. I opened it and saw it was filled with wrapped presents. Thinking I should probably leave it as she had packed it until Christmas, I closed it again. Fortunately, I told Suzy I had done this when I let her know the package arrived. She said no, open it, look at the tags. I found each package had a name and number, and found a calendar at the bottom of the box. The calendar was titled "24 days of Daboo Christmas" and, not surprisingly, begins and ends with Oliver.

So the first 24 days of December will feature a daily photo of someone in the house, or possibly the dogs as they were included too, opening a present. I may have other things to say, of course, but I can  now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm reasonably sure it is not an oncoming train. Thanks Suzy!

28 November 2008


Oliver and I had a perfectly delightful hour this afternoon, one of those "nothing special" hours that I need to write about so I can preserve it forever. He was more than a little peeved when I took Eleanor to Trader Joe's this morning. I decided a post-nap outing was in order, and I'm fortunate that the kid is ALWAYS up for a little Starbucks with his mum. 

We have no less than four possible Starbucks locations nearby. I let him choose first, but said if parking was a problem we would have to try another one. No arguments from Oliver. We were indeed foiled at first, but tried a second location and had better luck. Oliver totally did not mind the parking garage, the "evelator", or being trusted to remember where we parked. 

Though he had hot chocolate on Wednesday and liked it, he opted for cold milk today. Our chosen Starbucks was packed but we found a place to sit, a couple of armless squishy chairs pushed together and the size of a loveseat, right in front of the fireplace. Oliver snuggled right up with his milk and "long cookie" (aka biscotti), and told me he was the best date. I could only agree. He has told me before that he's "amazing and adorbable" and that one is right on the money, too. We had a nice little chat and he even asked for "more cuddles", telling me "I have more cuddles in my tummy." At which point I melted into a puddle of goo.

27 November 2008

I told you so

Since I can't say "I told you so" out loud in my house right now, I will do it here. Against my better judgement, I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner that was pretty close to being complete. My audience? CD, Oliver, and Eleanor. Though I hoped to find a few refugees at some point over the previous month, that was a big fat FAIL. I warned CD that the kids were unlikely to be interested in this fare but he was unconvinced. 

So today I prepared a 5 pound turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. And Christmas pudding. (More about that later.) And as expected, the kids wanted no part of it. Oliver begged for a carrot and ate the one I gave him. He ate a few bites of turkey, telling us it was really chicken, and refused everything else. Eleanor just fussed the whole time. I finally cut up an apple for her, and Oliver wanted some too. Despite being promised some time with a new Dora game on Daddy's "bacooter" this weekend if he ate a good dinner, Oliver remained unmoved.

The only thing I was truly interested in making for Thanksgiving was pumpkin pie. When the meal was discussed CD requested we have the Christmas pudding leftover from last year.  It was pretty good, especially since we waited until the kids were in bed before eating it.

26 November 2008


Since I had a big fat FAIL on Wednesday Bacon last week, despite making a promise the week before (double FAIL), I offer two bacon items today.

First, thanks to my sister Suzy, "pull tie, get bacon". Not sure how I feel about its "silky" 100% polyester goodness but if I thought it would get me some bacon, I would definitely give it a tug.

And second, some late political news, Bacon defeats Fries, quite handily. This does not come as a surprise to me. It's easy to mess up fries. Bacon? Not so much.

[photo courtesy of Flickr]

25 November 2008

big hair

This is what big hair looks like when you're 19 months old.

Fantabulous (and reversible!) dress courtesy of Karen at The Rocking Pony.

24 November 2008

thanksgiving for a slacker wanna-be

For some bizarre reason, CD likes Thanksgiving. For a guy from across the pond, he's quite enamored of the whole turkey thing. This is perhaps because I handle the cooking and most of the clean-up around here. Maybe it's something else. I really don't know.

Two years ago, when we were getting ready to haul ourselves to the UK, when I was pregnant and Oliver was 19 months old, I was let off the hook. This year I made my feelings plain, that it's silly to cook a full Thanksgiving feast for two adults and two kids under 4. In his usual subtle fashion, CD made his feelings plain too. Turkey. Brussels sprouts. You know. He need not ask for stuffing, as I would eat that daily without complaint.

I did manage one small concession. We are having a turkey breast, not a whole turkey. We are also having the aforementioned Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, at least one kind of stuffing, and cranberry orange sauce which may or may not be chutney from a jar.

Where I have been let off the hook is with dessert. I was thinking of making a pumpkin pie but CD suggested we break out that extra Christmas pudding we bought last year. I think it has enough booze in it to be well-preserved. Foiled, the one time I consider not slacking. 

At least there will be stuffing. And turkey sandwiches. I'll be shocked if the kids eat any of it so there should be plenty of leftovers.

23 November 2008

only the beginning indeed

As I said earlier in the week, "boogers" really is only the beginning, and starting to get just the slightest bit stale. Fortunately, Oliver has come up with a replacement. Enter "poopy head" to our household vocabulary. I tried ignoring it completely for a while. When that didn't work, we had a very long talk this morning about how this phrase, like "shut up" which we successfully squashed recently, is something that is not nice to say. Alas, the results were entirely different. There's still a whole lot of "poopy head" flying around.

Worried that he would start shouting "poopy head!" in the middle of the theatre this afternoon, I let CD take him to see The Velveteen Rabbit. Apparently, that went without incident.

22 November 2008

shortbread hearts

I heart Ina Garten. A very funny someone was asking yesterday that her readers fess up to a girl crush. Nevermind Beyonce. Ina might be it for me. She never steers me wrong. As much as I enjoyed meeting Sara Foster last summer, I'd willingly give a kidney to cook with Ina.

Ina claims the recipe makes 24 heart cookies. (She also made these in a breakfast show...another reason to lurve her.) I made a double batch and got 90, but I rolled the dough thinner than she says and used a smaller cookie cutter. I also dipped one half of some of the hearts in chocolate. The chocolate wasn't setting up properly so I put the cookies in the fridge. They stopped being shiny though. I'm sure I missed a step with the chocolate, but I was improvising.  No one complained at the BurghMom's cookie swap.

Though Paula Deen takes all the heat on Food Network for her liberal use of butter, these babies take three quarters of a pound per batch. And they're worth every bit.

Now I'm going to go put the cookie swap spoils into the freezer, before a total cookie coma sets in.

21 November 2008

coult it be? another carl?

This Carl is surely no connection to the original Carl, but I had to take a pic and give a shout out to the Anglophile Football Fanatic, who is doing a very good thing this month. Just paying her a visit will help, and there's a couple more days left in her week of giving away loot.

20 November 2008

it was supposed to be funny

This is the first thing I hung in my cube when I moved in today. The students were immediately suspicious when we put them up near their studio computers. They were sure two of their classmates had been busted. Not what we had planned at all, but a nice bonus.

19 November 2008

cheerio nekkit boogers

As previously reported, Oliver discovered running around the playground and yelling "nekkid" gets quite a rise out of teachers and classmates alike. One of his teacher's valiant attempt at redirection has caused the phrase to morph into "cheerio nekkit". He still has no idea what naked means, though the different answers have stopped. He says it means "outside" consistently now. Tonight at his school's book fair the twin girls in his classroom were shopping when one of them started in with the, "nekkit nekkit nekkit" thing. I fessed up to her mom that she had my son to thank for that. When I mentioned Oliver has no idea what it means she said her kids know and have probably told him! I guess it just hasn't sunk in yet.

Somehow, it has all morphed again. One day last week he stated emphatically, "I am boogers!" at pickup time. I mostly succeeded in not bursting out laughing (since I'm just a 12 year old boy inside) but now he likes to say "cheerio nekkit boogers" with a giggle, just to see how I will react. And he still seems to think he IS boogers on occasion. (Don't we all?)

Yes, I know this is only the beginning. Now that we have boogers, farts (known at our house as "a bit of wind") are surely on the horizon, followed by who knows what else. Can't wait.

18 November 2008

what about the self-united husbands?

The schizophrenic snow in the 'burgh the last couple of days has been pretty wild. Sun, whiteout, rinse, repeat. This photo, courtesy of a really interesting iPhone camera bug, captures well how we're feeling now that we've lost our PittGirl. Cold and entirely out of sorts.

I was going to link to all the other bloggers who put it far better than I can but Woy beat me to it. My favorites are Jim Lokay and UncleCrappy but you really should read them all.

So many of the 'burgh faithful, not to mention several dozen self-united husbands, join me in mourning today. Godspeed, PittGirl.

17 November 2008

cold feet

Eleanor has been a champion sleeper for a while, only occasionally having a few days or a week here and there when she wakes up in the night. We've been in one of those phases. If I go in a vicious cycle begins. She will not let me put her back in the crib. She will let CD, but not me. I am better off just leaving her to work it out on her own. She gets back to sleep a lot sooner if I do, painful as it is to listen to her scream. With CD away again, I was worried about what might happen last night.

Since it is suddenly cold again, and she'd just had a bath, I thought it might be time to try the Sleep Sack again. We used it last winter when she was a baby but she's bigger now and has been sleeping with a regular blanket, one that is never covering her when she wakes up. It seemed like a reasonable strategy.

I hesitate to say this out loud but it appears to have worked. She slept a little more than 12 hours and didn't make a peep the whole time. The only problem is the two sleep sacks I have are 18-24 month sized, 25-35 pounds. They fit, but probably won't make it past December. I hope they make the fleecy ones in bigger sizes.

go win free stuff

The lovely Holly has put together a lovely giveaway on her lovely blog. It's a double win. She's donating all of her ad revenue for November to her favorite charity, Food For the Poor, a very cool thing to do, especially this time of year. And just for leaving a comment, you get entered in her daily giveaways that start TODAY and go on all week.

I had a wee hand in today's prizes, so head on over and check 'em out. I hope you win!

16 November 2008

I have buttons and he knows how to use them

Oliver is a great kid. A little too great for his own good sometimes. He's smart and funny and charming as all get out. He can be exasperating, frustrating and downright obnoxious. As his Mum, I get to see all sides of him, including the charmer he can be at school and the holy terror he can be at home. [Note I said "can be." That was on purpose.] Knowing how great he can be makes the times when he's out of control all the more frustrating.

CD is off to yet another geekfest this week so I will get to see a bit more of the brat than I would like. I try to remember it's tough to be 3, especially when half of your world up and leaves. I try to be more patient when he starts pushing my many buttons and I inch closer to the edge. I try. And try. And don't always succeed. 

Today was a tough one. We took CD to the airport, went to Music Together, and spent the rest of the day at home. It was cold and snowy and we didn't want to go outside. In retrospect, a short walk around the neighborhood would have been a good idea. If they don't sleep through the night I will know I made a mistake.

5 more sleeps.

15 November 2008

no dead horses were beaten

Board meetings...gotta love 'em. They are, I suppose, a necessary evil. I have been forced to endure gleefully attending them for years. I have come to love those that happen via conference call. It's a fine time to catch up on old emails and drink heavily IM with other bored board members. At least the side conversations are quieter on conference calls!

But what really burns me up is the 5-10 minutes of actual content per hour due to the need for people to make their particular point eleventy seven times before shutting the hell up about it. They must think very little of their fellow board members if they think they need to say exactly the same thing over and over before anyone will understand. Really, I got it the first time, thanks. I get that you're peeved or angry or just feel very very passionately about the point you are making but YOU.MADE.IT. We're all gonna move on so we don't sprout roots out of our chairs. mmmkay?

14 November 2008

homework? at my age?

Instead of being a good little blogger, crafting a post worthy of my readers, I watched Casino Royale tonight, because that's what you do the night before going to see the movie that starts moments after Casino Royale ends. I'm thinking this was a good thing. Though the jury in my head remains out on Daniel Craig, I had thoroughly forgotten most of the plot and absolutely all of the details.

A bit more about Daniel Craig.... I know I'm supposed to swoon for him, and he does have rather nice eyes, but I'm just not there yet. He's not Bond for me. I'm a Sean Connery/Pierce Brosnan girl. Craig reminds me of a guy who would be more at home in a Brooklyn bar than Monte Carlo or Scotland. But I'm willing to give him another chance.

And in the realm of random Bond trivia, I happen to know the producer's ex-boyfriend

13 November 2008

gimme an S!

It's sad really. Only the 13th and I'm already begging for help with NaBloSucMo. Fortunately, Uncle Crappy has come to my rescue. This meme is simple. I commented on his post so he gave me a letter, "S" to be precise. I am to list 10 things I love that start with my letter. Then I assign a letter to anyone who asks for one in the comments, thus continuing the cycle. See, it's simple! 

So here's my list:

1. Spawn
My kids have to top the list. Oliver and Eleanor are the best things ever.
2. Spouse
That would be CD. Also the best, and co-producer of the aforementioned spawn. 
3. Suzy
She's my sister. She also loves the spawn and spouse. And doesn't think I'm evil. Most of the time, anyway.
4. Spaniels
I have to admit there are some spaniels I like more than others. Clumbers and Sussex top the list. I'm fond of Welsh springers too. When I'm old and unable to chase those, maybe I'll have a Cavalier King Charles.
5. Shopping
Yeah, I'm a shopping junkie. On-line, catalog, brick & mortar, doesn't matter to me. It's all good. And the only thing that makes it better is also an "s", sale! And let's not forget free shipping.
6. Starbucks
Tall skinny hazelnut latte, please. Or maybe just a doppio. And a tall skim chai. Throw in a salted caramel hot chocolate while you're at it.
7. Shoes
I worked in a shoe store in high school and I'm still not over it. It's probably a good thing I can't wear heels, as that eliminates most women's shoes from eligibility for a spot in my closet.
8. Scones
Other than Harrod's, the scones I make are the best I've ever had. Now I just have to find the time to make them once in a while. 
9. Speed
I like to go fast. I miss having a little car that could handle like my white VW Golf and some twisty mountain roads to drive around. It's probably why I like flying too, especially take off.
It's an "s", honest. And I like it. But I don't suppose that's enough to get entered in TrannyHead's contest.

So now it's your turn. Just ask and I'll throw a letter your way.

12 November 2008

that toddling town

Now that Chicago has been declared center of the universe, and not just because it is the home of NapWarden (designer of this here blog) and the future location of BlogHer 09, it seems appropriate to highlight Chicago's contributions to the bacon frenzy.

Courtesy of Clumber, I bring you deep-fried bacon and an all-you-can-eat bacon bar. I hear arteries slamming shut all over the place.

Coming next week: pull my tie

11 November 2008

walks, shoots, and leaves

It's Neighborhood Walk day here in the 'burgh so I'm joining the RustBelt Bloggers in documenting my neighborhood. I live in the Point Breeze section of town and I stayed very close to home for my photos. I walked down my street, down the adjacent street, and landed at my bus stop. It's not easy to take pictures with an energetic 18 month old who thinks running in the street kicking leaves is way too much fun.

Though my neighborhood is well within the city limits, it can sometimes feel a world away. I know when I pull off the main road onto my little street, it's like I am not in a city at all. That's one of the beautiful things about Pittsburgh. It's a collection of smallish neighborhoods, loaded with character, rather than one big homogeneous urban mess.

I could argue there are more than a few messes around here, but I'll save that for another day. Head on over to Flickr for more from my morning walk to the bus stop.

10 November 2008

buy ammo

Dexter, Michigan is kind of cute. There are some old Victorian homes, with sedate color schemes. and an adorable little three-block downtown. As I got lost Saturday afternoon while trying to find some cold medicine for a friend, I noticed a distinct lack of Obama signs. Driving further out of town I started seeing a few McCain-Palin signs. Then I drove past a house with a series of at least five plywood-and-spraypaint signs, advising everyone to stock up on ammo because "socialists are thieves". I should have stopped and taken a photo or two but I didn't, for fairly obvious reasons.

Yes, I was going in the wrong direction entirely.

09 November 2008

she ate until she exploded

Before getting to the food, I must offer a brief public service announcement. If you are heading to Ann Arbor do not, I repeat DO NOT, consider staying at the Courtyard by Marriott even for half a second. There are lots of other choices and I strongly suggest you explore them. I arrived late Friday night with a reservation. I was told I would have to change rooms for my second night. Ugh. But okay. I can live with that. Then it was so freakin' loud I didn't get to sleep until 1am, only to be awakened around 6:30am with a wake-up call I didn't order. Despite telling the person on the other end of the line that no, I'm not Julie and no, I don't want to be awake now, they called AGAIN!!! When I got back after dinner, in a really good mood, I was put in another room that was kind of nice. I left the fans on to drown out the noise and got to sleep. All was well, until 6:30am when the TV spontaneously turned on. I could not find an alarm "feature" on the damn thing so I have no idea what caused it to do that. So consider yourself warned. I used to like Marriott properties but I doubt I will ever stay in one again.

In better Ann Arbor news, I managed to squeeze in TWO trips to Zingerman's Roadshow today. First for breakfast, when I got my free doughnut, a burrito and coffee, and asked that they save some bread for me. I planned to pass through on my way out of town around 5pm. Plans changed slightly and I got out of there at 2:30pm (enabling me to get home just in time to see the kids off to bed), fetching my bread and a sandwich that will have to be lunch tomorrow since I didn't stop at all on the drive home. On the other hand, I may not be hungry again by then. Maybe Tuesday.

08 November 2008


I've been a fan of Zingerman's since 1989, when I walked into their deli and saw an entire wall of olive oil. That image had stayed with me nearly 20 years. The funny thing is I've never gone back to the deli. My relationship with them has mostly been via mail order, though when I finally went back to Ann Arbor last year I was close enough to the Roadhouse to grab lunch there one day. Their mail order business makes Christmas shopping so easy. 

A return visit to the Roadhouse was what I was most looking forward to on my latest trip to Ann Arbor, and it did not disappoint. Knowing how busy it can be, and expecting it to be insane on a Saturday night, I used OpenTable to make my reservation. (If you aren't using OpenTable, go check it out! It's free, easy, and entirely worthwhile.)

Dinner turned out great. My companion was the judge for the agility trial. Our trial chair wasn't feeling well so I hunted down some meds for her and sent her to the hotel. (She was lucky....not staying at mine!) I have no trouble talking dogs for a couple of hours and I thought he would like the Roadhouse. I was right! My bacon and blue burger was just this side of raw but very tasty. And the sweet potato fries live up to their billing. The best find was the wine. I was thrilled to find a red from L'Ecole No. 41 by the glass. "Recess Red" might have to replace Big House Red in my life. L'Ecole was my favorite winery when I lived in Walla Walla but it's not a big or widely-known winery so I love finding it.

The very sweet waitress gave me coupons for free doughnuts at the Roadshow tomorrow morning. The Roadshow is an Airstream in the parking lot that functions as a drive-thru. Irresistible. 

07 November 2008

and she was

Thanks to a wide variety of strange radio stations, ranging from classical organ to BBC world service to Talking Heads to, I know I will regret admitting this in public, Delilah, none lasting more than 20 minutes, I have arrived in Ann Arbor. It's a lovely little 290 mile trip, across Ohio, in the rain, in a rental car. The minivan has spoilt me forever. I now feel like my butt is dragging across the pavement in normal cars. But I digress....

The hotel appears to have been overrun with 13 year old water polo players, and some other very LOUD teenagers who do not appear to have the water polo thing going on. And to make me feel oh so warm and fuzzy, the hotel folks said they could give me the room I reserved but I would have to move out of it tomorrow (after I get oh, maybe 5 hours of sleep after my 5 hours of driving) because someone asked for that room specifically. Oh, puhleeze. Room XXX at the Courtyard in Ann Arbor is really all that? They are giving me extra points for my trouble but at the rate I'm going I'll never have enough for a free room night anyway.

To top it all off, the internet connection feels like someone poured molasses in it. Can I go home now? Where's the wine?

06 November 2008


Kids never get sick when you need them to. Last year I was scheduled to spend a weekend in November in Ann Arbor, watching an agility trial. I managed to convince the chair to "replace" me. I didn't want to go. Our local hunt test was the same weekend and I messed up when I scheduled myself to be in two places at once. So when they asked me to do the agility thing this year I felt guilty about bailing last year and said I would do it. 

Now the weekend has arrived and I spent the last 48 hours hoping one of the kids would get sick so I could stay home. But no. They are both fine so I have a rental car and a hotel room reserved (and a little reservation at The Roadhouse for dinner on Saturday), and a lovely 300 mile drive tomorrow night after work. And a splitting headache, just as a little bonus. 

So I'm off to bed early tonight. For safety reasons. I'd like to get to Ann Arbor in one piece tomorrow.

05 November 2008

bacon and dreams

Wednesday Bacon is frequently about stuff I want to eat, not necessarily stuff I have tried already, especially now that it is NaBloSucMo time again. Bacon-wrapped cornish hens, the bacon cinnamon rolls, various bacon and chocolate combinations.

This week is no different. It seems one can get pig parts delivered in Pittsburgh. The other stuff sounds interesting, but the famed Farmer Joe's pig gets high praise. I am looking forward to hearing how Jennifer's half of a half of a pig turns out.

04 November 2008


One of Eleanor's teachers played with her hair today. It was cuter when we picked her up but she still looks a bit like Pebbles, hours later. I have some great hair clips for her but she tends to remove them. She liked this. I guess I need to search for more accessories.

It was a big day for language, especially names. This morning she said "Ol-ver", which is exactly the way Oliver said his name for a few months. She also said "Violet", the middle name of one of her classmates, a child who uses her full four syllable first name plus middle name. It's a mouthful any way you slice it.

And to cap things off tonight, Eleanor said her own name for the very first time!!!

03 November 2008

RC everything

CD and I had dinner at Richard Chen last night. It lived up to what we had heard. Expensive. And good. And expensive. We had a 20% off coupon and I still had sticker shock when I caught a glimpse of the check. The food was good. A definite step up from our usual delivered Chinese food but not four times better, or even three times better if I take the wine off our bill. I seriously doubt they will be around a year from now. Pittsburgh will support reasonably priced good food, but this is over-priced and not in the best location for a place with one strike against it. Prove me wrong, Pittsburgh. I dare you.

The food really was pretty good. CD and I shared a duck salad and potstickers. Both were done well. I probably could have eaten the duck salad alone and been perfectly happy. We also had mongolian beef and chili prawns. The beef was a little boring for me, but I had just a bite. The prawns were by far the best I have ever had. The spice level was just right and all the flavors very well-balanced.

I totally didn't get the "RC" cocktails. They were all numbered, as in RC #1, RC #2, etc. Four were sold out so I didn't even bother reading further. And the RC salad was sold out too. What's with the RC stuff and most of it being sold out? RC to me is a crappy cola drink (Royal Crown, I think) with an odd after-taste that is cheaper than Coke. Something to avoid, not order. We went with an okay Washington Syrah called "Basketcase" instead.

02 November 2008

third dog

There really isn't a third dog in there. This is just what Suzy took out of Bubba tonight. And people wonder why there are tumbleweeds in my house.

As expected, the Capitol Steps show was amazing. As much as I am looking forward to the end of this election season, it sure is giving them great material to work with. I have no doubt that the next batch of leaders will give them plenty of fodder too. Along with death and taxes, that's something we can count on.

01 November 2008

nano nano

Welcome to year three of NaBloPoMo! As usual, I have no posts in the bank. And as usual, it's late at night and I'm reaching. So far, so good!

Fortunately, we have a lot going on tomorrow and plenty of potential blog fodder. It should be enough to get me to Wednesday Bacon.

In the morning we've got Music Together. Aunt Suzy will go along to "moosic", as she has done on other visits.

While the kids are napping Aunt Suzy and I will head to IKEA to fetch supplies to make this play kitchen. CD and I will do the final assembly as a Christmas present. Shhhhh! Don't tell! 

CD and I will take advantage of the free babysitting and go to Capitol Steps. With just two days to go before the election, it should be a great performance. It's the only part of this election stuff that I am looking forward to.

Lastly, there's dinner. We are going to give Richard Chen a try. Word on the street is it is really really good, and really really expensive. Those two things are typically the kiss of death around here. We'd better go before the restaurant does.