31 December 2008

hopes float

Last year on this day I said:

And we hope in 2008 that:

  • I'll get a job - check
  • The other house will sell - nope, but it is rented
  • We will add another Clumber to the family and I will get back to doing fun dog things - half and half -- we added a rescue Clumber and I tried judging dogs, but we continue to wait patiently for a new show dog
  • Our kids will continue to thrive and make us laugh more than cry - check
  • The smallest kid will sleep better, learn to walk, wean, and grow a little more slowly - check
All in all, we did well with our list.

I also looked back on my post of December 30, 2007. I bemoaned the problem of napping children. Not that napping children are a problem, but that having one kid napping nearly all the time certainly cramps one's style. Back then, Eleanor was taking two naps a day and Oliver was napping once a day, smack in between her naps. Perhaps the most significant change this year is that the kids nap at the same time now. On weekends, we can actually plan to do something as a family. And the adults have about 2 kid-free hours in the afternoons. Totally life-changing.

30 December 2008

second prize is three days in Philadelphia

As Blog365 winds down, I'm looking ahead to January and to taking a break from blogging. I'm also taking a break from everything else and going to a dog show. Chances are excellent that trip will provide some blog fodder. There's usually a train wreck or two that could prove worthy.

My blogging plan for 2009 is simple. Don't suck.  I got through Blog365 by setting the bar low, even for me. That wasn't a lot of fun for readers, and wasn't much fun for me either. On a typical night, 10pm would roll around and I would remember I needed to blog. I would fire up Blogger and see what happened. Frequently an idea would come, one that would benefit from some percolation, and I would hit the publish button whether the idea was fully developed or not. In 2009 there will be no reason to hit publish if I don't want to. There will be no blog before its time.

29 December 2008

even more rambling than usual

So with just three posts left in blog365 I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm pretty sure it's not an oncoming train. Still, I'm rambling more like someone who hasn't slept in 362 days, not someone who has blogged that many consecutive days. (I really did more than that. This is post number 429 for the year.)

Coughing continues. Eleanor is sounding less bark-y, but she coughed most of the day and is again having some trouble sleeping. We'll be off to the doc in the morning.

Also in the morning I'll be taking Oliver to Gymkhana camp. I wasn't sure he would like it. Silly me. He had his shoes and sock off and was gone before I had finished filling out the last of the paperwork. (They use scary words on the consent form, like "paralysis"  and "death". I tend to struggle with those, and glaze over a bit.) We knew two of his friends would be there, but there were two more we had not heard were coming. He isn't terribly forthcoming about what went on, but he had fun and wants to go back tomorrow.

While O was off doing whatever and E was hanging with CD, I cleared out his closet and rearranged his bookshelves and toy storage. It was oddly therapeutic, so much so that as soon as both kids were down for naps I attacked the shelves in the kitchen and hall closet that have become the dumping grounds for a lot of junk. They are now organized, on the verge of scary. I should probably take a few pictures since this is not likely to last (but we are going to try very, very hard).

Pity our trash guys tomorrow morning. After all the purging we've been doing, there are many more bags of trash than usual, a ceiling fan, and a dead plug-in cooler. I may be eating all the chocolate that isn't nailed down but I feel lighter anyway. My closet gets cleared tomorrow, then on to the guest bedroom. I might even get my summer clothes put somewhere I can't see them.

28 December 2008

E is not O

Eleanor seems to think I have forgotten she is not her brother. She's been telling me this in a wide variety of ways since I was just a few weeks pregnant, but has decided to redouble her efforts tonight anyway, just in case. My two pregnancies could not have been more different. Oliver's was easy as pie. With Eleanor I was nauseous most of the time, had sciatica, lost vision in one eye for a few minutes, and made multiple trips to triage.  With Oliver, once I was obviously pregnant, I looked like I swallowed a basketball. With Eleanor, I looked pregnant by the time I was 10 weeks along and gained weight everywhere. Oliver's was a tough delivery. Eleanor's was easy. Oliver didn't sleep for the first year. Eleanor was a great sleeper. And on and on and on. They really could not be more different.

Today's strategy...coughing. Sounds croup-y, but since Oliver never had croup I am not entirely sure what it sounds like. I saw The Nanny Diaries but my memory is fuzzy. It's not really barky, but it's not like Eleanor's "normal" cough either. She didn't nap this afternoon due to the coughing (and a poop, but we're used to that happening mid-nap and she generally goes back to sleep after clean up). Tonight she's not sleeping, again due to the cough. I just got the humidifier going, something we haven't used since before she was born. We'll try the steamy bathroom approach if she doesn't settle soon.

As I've been typing, she has stopped coughing, at least for a few minutes. And as soon as I typed that last sentence, she coughed again. She wouldn't want me getting complacent or anything.

27 December 2008

purging feels good

The purging of the house continues. We did a bit more in the basement today, before turning our attention to the kitchen. We went through every cupboard and drawer, and I'm pleased to say we now have some space on a few shelves and homes for all that needed one. We got rid of a lot, or we will have by tomorrow. I posted some items on Freecycle and all were claimed within half an hour. One item was gone in 90 seconds. If you haven't tried Freecycle, check it out. I'll be placing a few things on Craig's list, like our Kelty backpack carrier and the pack n play, but for stuff that isn't worth the effort, Freecycle it is.

Some other baby stuff will go on Freepeats starting tomorrow. I have bottles out the wazoo and none had very much use, especially by Eleanor.

The basement is looking great too, with many empty shelves and some re-purposed shelves above the washer and dryer. I see a useful family room in our future. 

I think we head upstairs tomorrow. I'm not sure where to start, as it is all daunting, but I will start somewhere.  

26 December 2008

you can tell the nerds early

You don't need to have painted the quadratic equation on your bedroom wall for me to spot a future geek. Oliver is learning to use his new Leapster, under CD's watchful eye.

As you can see, Oliver recovered from whatever plague he had yesterday. He woke up early this morning, hungry and thirsty, and with no sign of fever. He was more than ready to open a few presents. (lots of pictures from the festivities are at Flickr)

All the presents were a hit with the kids. They especially liked the microwave and mixer, and the talking tool box. Oliver was especially peeved that we didn't take him outside to play t-ball but it was too cold. And when it got warmer it also started to rain. Maybe tomorrow, when the high is supposed to be in the 60s. We might even break out the chalk Critter Prints and Spiro the Chalktopus toys. Fresh air is top of our list for tomorrow.

We have found a way to amuse ourselves while the kids are napping too. A grand household purge is happening, starting with our basement storage. It's a big set of dominos. Once the storage room is sorted, we can move on to the family room, also in the basement. Then we can move upstairs to the office, that needs to be cleaned out before the new windows arrive. And on and on. We still have nine days left.

25 December 2008


Today was not the Christmas any of us had in mind. Oliver woke up miserable, with a temp over 104. Motrin brings it down but he just wanted to curl up on the couch with mum or dad and watch Cars and Finding Nemo. He isn't interested in food and only will drink under protest. He gets sick rarely, and I don't recall him ever having a temp this high, so he just has no idea how to handle feeling crappy.

Despite a living room filled with presents, neither kid showed any interest. Eleanor didn't even look at the play kitchen until late afternoon. We got through the stockings but the presents remain under tree. Maybe we will get to them tomorrow, if we are not at the doctor with Oliver.

24 December 2008

Santa brought us a play kitchen

I had this crazy idea a while back, one I originally saw on a blog (fancy that!), to build a play kitchen for the kids. Both of them are drawn to the play kitchens in their respective classrooms. I procured nearly all the pieces and thought it would something fun for CD and I to build together. I seem to have forgotten that the man works alone. 

In any case, the kids are going to have a way cool play kitchen tomorrow. Come back and see it with the bow removed!

23 December 2008

a few things left to do

I'm a little behind. This isn't the whole list, just the top ten, including a few of my usual digressions.

  1. I haven't wrapped anything yet.
  2. I haven't made the gingerbread cookie dough either.
  3. Wow! I keep hearing people say Mike Tomlin looks like Omar Epps. I just figured out who that is. Yeah, there's a resemblance.
  4. I still have a few Christmas cards to address.
  5. The list of things to accomplish during naptime over the next twelve days is long.
  6. I still haven't located the only thing CD asked me to get him for Christmas, lens cleaner for his camera lenses. I keep thinking a camera store is going to appear before my eyes. This may require more effort.
  7. One string of lights on my pre-lit tree has given up the ghost. The non-replaceable light seems to be burnt out. Lovely.
  8. The new panarello for my espresso machine finally arrived. I can't figure out how to install it.
  9. I still need to deliver peppermint bark to the neighbors.
  10. I should probably check the fridge for the salad supplies I need to take to a playdate tomorrow morning.

22 December 2008

it was for money?

I interrupt our regularly scheduled coverage of the 24 days of Christmas (CD opened a glass penguin ornament that looks a lot like the one I opened yesterday) to bring you a newsflash. I WIN. And I win money. This part was a revelation to me when email from the commissioner arrived yesterday. I somehow missed the money part. No idea how. Suddenly I was either sending ten bucks to someone, or receiving payments from others. Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, FFB will support my Starbucks habit for another month or two.  Congrats to my worthy opponent on a stellar rookie season. She won more games than I did and this last one was no gimme, not by a longshot.

Now I just need to stick with my promise of never doing FFB again if I won. I'm far too competitive and obsessive, and that's not generally a pretty combination. But if an invitation from a certain yinz league came my way I doubt I could resist. I'm weak, weak I tell you.

21 December 2008

seriously, ANYTHING can be a hat

Eleanor and her love of hats are making yet another appearance today. In this photo she has just helped me open my ornament in the 24 days of Christmas and has decided to turn the box into a hat. She's also having a little iChat with Aunt Suzy. 

The hat is practical as well as stylish. It has ear flaps for winter and a neck flap to keep that pesky sunburn at bay.

Head over to Flickr to see the beautiful glass penguin ornament that came in the box. I keep saying I'm going to do a second tree with just penguin ornaments. We really have more than enough to pull it off. I think a second tree might just qualify us for a little Christmas Crazy. Maybe.

20 December 2008


The 24 days of Christmas turned its attention to ornaments for the tree yesterday with a beautiful and fragile ball and glove ornament for Oliver. Tonight it was Eleanor's turn and Aunt Suzy found a very appropriate "chubby santa". Since I started hanging up the Christmas cards Eleanor has become interested in Santa (and snowmen too, equally).

All the photos of Eleanor with the ornament involve tears. The notion of "delicate" was entirely lost on her, but she recovered quickly.

I am hoping there will be no mysteries about ornament ownership later on. They can always refer back here to settle any disputes.

19 December 2008

nom nom nom

My boss shared Wilbur Buds with us at our holiday party on Wednesday. Wilbur's is an interesting story. I look forward to taking the kids to the factory in Lititz, PA someday.

the home stretch

Just six days left in the 24 days of Christmas. The last six boxes all look the same and I was warned their contents are fragile. Oliver was first tonight and found a baseball and glove for the Christmas tree. Glass. While he said he thought the baseball was for throwing he didn't actually throw it. I managed to get it on the tree before any damage was one. There seems to be room for the next five on the higher branches. The ornaments will make great keepsakes, and with any luck they will survive until Oliver has his own tree. In 30 or 40 years. I probably won't be ready until then.

18 December 2008


Sorry for the lack of photographic evidence tonight. I was too busy trying to figure out how to properly adjust my MacBook so Aunt Suzy could witness local events. Oh how I long for the old iSight cameras that clipped on and were nicely adjustable. What the heck am I going to do at Christmas? But I digress...

It was the dogs' turn for a present tonight and Oliver was sure they needed lots of help. Bubba slept through the whole thing but Penguin was sniffing around. Still, she wasn't interested enough to dive in so Oliver happily did the honors. He's such a helpful boy.

In lieu of photos from tonight, I offer an interesting comparison: Oliver and Eleanor pictured at the same age, or as close to it as possible. In this case, both kids are about 19 months old. Eleanor is significantly bigger but both know how to enjoy themselves.

17 December 2008


Eleanor's turn on day 17 of the 24 days of Christmas. She is such a bookworm that all the new books are a huge hit with her. She about jumped out of her jacket on the bus this morning when the dad who rides with his 4 year old daughter sat down next to us and took out a book. They usually sit across the aisle and she tries to see the books he reads. Today she had no trouble seeing and hearing.

At school she will frequently get a book and look for a teacher sitting on the floor. She then backs into them, sits on their lap, and waits. She rarely waits long.

16 December 2008

can you ever have enough?

Another day, another Skippyjon Jones book. Kind of appropriate, since Oliver has been in the doghouse a bit himself. He had to have a "sit down and think" at school each of the last two days. This is the first time since school started in September and in both cases it was due to not being a good listener and doing as he was told. The teachers tell me not to worry....it's December....all the kids are having issues....blah blah blah. He's acting up at home too, and spending a lot of time on the quiet stair. It really is the season, I suppose. And I'm way too much of a hardass. Bah humbug.

15 December 2008


CD opened chocolate tonight. Really good chocolate. Really good photos? Not so much. What little photo mojo I had has left the building.

I therefore present a little gift from me, Big Papi, and the rest of the Red Sox to you. Pay no attention to the cheesy menorah and tree. 

14 December 2008


We're back to photos to document the 24 days of Christmas. It was my turn tonight, though when Oliver heard that he decided we needed some "teamwork" and we should be partners. He has just started doing things with a partner at school so this isn't too surprising.

Oliver's psychic abilities were found to be faulty tonight. He saw the wrapped present and predicted it was Steeler socks. Um, no. How about McVitie's Rich Tea biscuits? I'm a lot happier than I look in the picture. Nom Nom Nom. No tea required.

13 December 2008

he's psychic

As predicted by Oliver yesterday, Eleanor opened a lovely pair of Steeler socks tonight. Oliver would like them to wear their matching Steeler shirts and socks tomorrow when we go to Music Together. Oliver can wear his, but I would like Miss E to go with something a bit more festive. She's so darn cute in her red stripes, especially when she's dancing. Besides, she isn't yet expressing a preference with her clothes. I plan to enjoy that as long as possible. There will be plenty of time for us to argue over fashion later.

Unfortunately, Oliver was my photographer tonight as Eleanor opened her gift while sitting in my lap. As I am utterly clueless on downloading pics from Oliver's camera, I will have to come back and add one tomorrow, or whenever CD downloads them.

12 December 2008

day 12, the video edition

It's day 12 of the 24 days of Christmas. Due to the nasty weather in the northeast, Aunt Suzy experienced an untimely power outage so she was unable to join us for the present opening activities. At the time I didn't know why she suddenly logged out but I made an educated guess and shot a little video. The quality isn't stupendous but my little point and shoot camera does the best it can.

He was not coached in who the Steelers are playing this week, or anything else. You can hear CD, Eleanor, and me in the background, and the music was not added. It was part of our dining experience. I will come up with a prize in the gift card realm for the first person who identifies the music correctly in the comments. 

11 December 2008

pizza face, jaffa cakes, jingle all the way

CD opened the jaffa cakes in the 24 days of christmas today. Oliver immediately appropriated them. The boy has excellent taste in cookies.

In the background, there on my laptop screen, you can catch a glimpse of Aunt Suzy. We were on live chat so she could see the present opening. I hope the resolution was such that she was spared seeing Oliver with a mouthful of green beans. [Yes. Green Beans. You know. The betchtuble. Not that other thing.]

catching up on penguins

This is what I opened yesterday in the 24 days of christmas. They will nicely replace a pair of penguin socks I recently wore out. And the scarves are so darn cute. Thanks Aunt Suzy!

10 December 2008

bacon gets a little christmas crazy

I'm taking a little break from the 24 days of Christmas today but I'll catch you all up tomorrow. It's time for Wednesday Bacon!

And if you'd like to ornament your bacon, check out this article, courtesy of Nerdette. Bacon + sweet = nom nom nom

Just one of the many reasons I still love the pacific northwest.


Aunt Suzy is up to her usual tricks. She's elfed the family again.

Please, leave a comment telling her to get her own blog so I don't have to post this stuff myself!

09 December 2008

slam dunk

Day nine of the 24 days of Christmas brought another book and CD from Aunt Suzy. Little Quack's New Friend was definitely a slam dunk for both kids. We had to read it twice after dinner. As usual, there are a few more pics on Flickr.

Eleanor had another sort of slam today, in the "backpack to the head" variety. We were on a crowded bus this morning and, as usual, there were students who seem to have no sense of how large their backpacks are and no concern for what might be in the path of said backpack. Eleanor didn't cry. She just kept patting the spot on her head and saying, "bump, bump." The culprit stood next to us for more than 10 minutes yet couldn't manage to apologize.

I must be getting old and crotchety. Get off my lawn.

08 December 2008

until he shouted out with glee

Good heavens....more Skippyjon Jones in the house. Thank goodness these books are coming with CDs or my head would explode. How many days do we have left? (16, for those keeping score at home.)

Speaking of exploding...moments after I took this photo there was an accidental collision, many tears, and a smidgen of blood. This is the first real crash between Oliver and Eleanor. It's a good thing CD and I were both here to comfort them. Of course, I had Oliver and he wanted his dad, and Eleanor wanted her mum. Good times!

Finally, we had one of those classic little boy moments this morning. It happened where all the great conversations are happening lately, in the bathroom. Oliver had just gotten himself seated and, ahem, arranged, when we had the following exchange:

Oliver: My penis is little.
Me: Okay. (not wanting to guide the conversation in any way)
Oliver: Mum, sometimes it's big and sometimes it's little.
Me: Do you know why that happens?
Oliver: I don't know.

He then started telling me not to cover up Elmo when I got the diaper I just removed ready to throw away because, "Elmo doesn't like that."

It really loses something in the translation. The tone of his voice when he said, "I don't know" was priceless, a moment I wish I had on tape.

07 December 2008

only looks like a vibrator

Penguin and Bubba received the oddly phallic "furminator" as their gift today in our 24 days of Christmas. I tried to get Pen interested in helping to open the gift, thinking it was treats and would therefore smell good. I should have just listened to Oliver when he told me Penguin and Bubba don't know how to open presents so he would do it for them.

I think the motivation for this gift was likely the pile o' hair Aunt Suzy removed from Bubba during her visit. Don't blame me if the poor guy is bald by the end of the week.

06 December 2008

anything can be a hat

It was Eleanor's turn again in the 24 days of Christmas. She looked briefly at the book she opened (The Tale of Pip and Squeak), but was fascinated with the wrapping paper. As she often does with her plate or just about anything else she holds, the paper became a hat. A little later in the evening I removed her sweatshirt and it too became a hat. It was also a jaunty little scarf/wrap for a bit, but I failed to capture it.

05 December 2008

skippito bandito

Today's gift in the 24 days of Christmas went to Oliver. It was the book, Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones and accompaning CD with the story read by the author. As it happens, the author lives in a town I once lived in, just a block from one of my co-workers, whose husband also happens to be an author. He even wrote the screenplay for Minority Report. But I digress....

I have a lot of trouble reading Skippyjon Jones books. They make me feel like I need to practice in advance. I can't do the accent and generally feel pretty incompetent and silly when I read them. Oliver thinks it's a riot, no matter how much I mess up. That's unconditional love.

04 December 2008


It was CD's turn for a present today in the 24 Days of Christmas. Suzy sent one of his favorites, Twiglets. Oliver called them "Piglets" the first time he tried them, but they are a favorite of his too. Eleanor tried one and seemed to like it too.

In other news, it is Bubba's birthday today and he is 13 years old. That makes him the oldest Clumber to live with us. Chewy made it nearly to 13 but missed by just a few months. He started as a foster dog last January but we flunked that little exercise and he never left. Though his IBD prevented any sort of gastronomic celebration, the kids sang "Happy Birthday" to our completely deaf old guy anyway.

03 December 2008

penguin socks

It was my turn to partake of the 24 days of Christmas and my gift was penguin socks. I have a pretty large collection of penguins and socks are a significant part of it.

Thanks, Aunt Suzy!

Oliver seems to be enjoying all aspects of this exercise. This morning he wanted to look at the calendar to see who would get a present. He's learning about calendars, and about sharing the fun. Good stuff all around.

02 December 2008


Day 2 of the 24 days of Christmas was a present for Eleanor, Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy. As you can see, this made her very happy. [More photos on Flickr.]

Aunt Suzy, architect of this 24 days thing, has this book in her bag when she takes her dog Maggie to her public library. Maggie is a READ dog, and once a week, children read to her. The local paper recently did an article about them.

01 December 2008

and so it begins

Our 24 days of Christmas, courtesy of Aunt Suzy, began today with Oliver opening the first gift. It was a Curious George book with CD (great for long car trips) and he loved it.

I'll be documenting each gift daily, and all the photos will be collected in the 24 Days of Christmas set on Flickr.

Also fitting with the title, Oliver tried a new trick tonight. He tried to convince me that CD approved something when that was not the case at all. Don't let that innocent face fool you.