18 December 2009

we have a winner

Thanks to random.org we have a winner! Andrea, please send your address to clumber at gmail dot com so I can put Getting Things Done into the mail for you. With any luck, it will not get lost in all the holiday hoopla.

And please keep me posted on your progress. If you need an accountability buddy, I'm here and struggling too.

12 December 2009


[Read to the end. There's something in it for YOU.]

I spent Tuesday downtown at a seminar, one that I forked over my own cash to attend. Let me start at the beginning. Back in 2002, not long after it was published, I happened upon David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. It seemed to be just what I needed to get my act together. I read it and knew it made a lot of sense. I tried to implement the system but failed miserably. I have re-read the book over the years, each time having the best of intentions but always lacking the 2 days it seemed I would need to get the ball rolling properly.

In the meantime, GTD has exploded in popularity. The best site for learning more is Merlin Mann's 43 Folders, named for the folders needed to create a GTD-esque tickler file.

Fast forward to October of this year, when I was once again feeling overwhelmed by everything on my plate. Time to get out the book and give it another whirl. I was looking at the company website, noticing what an industry the book had spawned. There was a deal on offer for a CD set. "Time to try something new if I want different results," I thought. I bought the CD set.

With the CDs came a discount on a seminar. I looked at the schedule. Yep. Pittsburgh, December 8. I later discovered I could get a bigger discount by telling them I work for a non-profit so I registered. And the CDs sat on my dresser, along with another copy of the book.

Last weekend I decided the seminar would be more helpful if I listened to the CDs. What I discovered was mind-blowing. I didn't *have* to find 2 days to do it right. I could make small steps in the right direction and that was okay. Holy moly. Unfortunately, I fell asleep about 20 minutes into the first CD. I decided not to take it as a sign.

So, Tuesday, I'm at a downtown hotel for the seminar. Found another copy of the book in my packet (can you see where this is going yet?). And for the next 8 hours I barely peeked at my iPhone. I was mesmerized by the ideas in the book coming to life. Apparently my reading comprehension is a bit lacking, and has been for at least seven years. Or maybe I'm just not someone who can learn from reading a book alone. Regardless, lightbulbs were going on for me.

On Wednesday I started putting one principle, getting one's inbox to zero, into practice on my email. My personal email inbox was at 1944. In 90 minutes I had it down to 37. By the end of the day it was under 10. My work inbox was over 500 and it was down to about 45 by the end of the day as well. Not to zero, but a serious dent was made in a relatively short time.

I have a long way to go but I'm moving in the right direction, on the way towards "not overwhelmed". I want to share the energy with my readers. If you would like your own copy of Getting Things Done just leave a comment by midnight on Thursday, December, December 17 and the random number generator will work it's magic Friday morning.

05 December 2009

hair-raising good time

Haircuts and kids are always an adventure. Oliver has gotten better about it over the years, which is a very good thing since his hair grows fast and looks best very short. Eleanor mostly gets hysterical when I even mention cutting her hair. We've done a few bang trims at home without much of a scene but otherwise it's been kind of uh, hairy. There's a place around the corner that does a passable job so that's where we go most of the time.

Once or twice a year we go to Little Snips, a really cool hair salon specializing in kid hair cuts. Most of the chairs look like vehicles such as tractors or taxis or firetrucks. Each station has a TV and toys that help kids look down, or up, as needed. Their prices are very reasonable and we'd go there for every cut if the place were closer and I had more time.

A trip to Little Snips was on our agenda for this morning. I talked to Oliver before we left and asked if he was okay going first, so he could show Eleanor not to be scared. He was cool with that. Going first is always his preference anyway. The opportunity to display a little bravery was just a bonus.

Oliver's haircut went mostly without incident. He declined sitting in the tractor, opting for one of the non-vehicular chairs. He looked very grown up. I had to say, "No, shorter. You can't get it too short. Really." a few times but he ended up looking good and didn't complain. Eleanor was next. She chose the taxi to sit in and Dora on TV. That was a rare treat for her since Oliver has mostly lost interest in Dora (praise the deity or whatever of your choice). Her cut went well too. It was just a trim to clean up her ends and bangs so it didn't take long.

I sent the kids to the play area while I paid the bill. They got so absorbed in playing with the toys that it was hard to pry them away. It was snowing harder than when we arrived and I knew the traffic back into the city would be ugly so I really needed to get them moving. One threat to leave without them was all it took. The put on their jackets and we headed towards the door but before we left Oliver stopped to hug Eleanor. He said, "I'm so proud of you," and I melted into a big puddle of goo.

04 December 2009

14 is the new....something

Bubba, our rescued Clumber, is 14 today. Various sources report their lifespan to be around 12 years. I know a few who have made it as far as Bubba, but not many at all. He's not in great shape, what with bad hips and IBD and deafness, but he still eats with typical Clumber enthusiasm and barks at me if his meals are not prepared with the alacrity he deems necessary.

He was supposed to be with us just a short time. A foster, really. I was worried about bringing a dog that old with a hearing problem into a house with very young children, but my fears were unfounded. It was soon clear he wasn't going anywhere. Though we've had him less than two years, he's part of the family. We're just trying to enjoy every day he's with us.

30 November 2009

the end, or the one where I get all linky

As the world continues to conspire against me and my attempts at sleep, with football as the most recent conspirator, I'm going to end NaBloPoMo with a link fest. I have been planning to put them under one of those new links in the upper left of the window but those just aren't working for me. (The switch to WordPress is imminent.)

These are the blogs I read when I should be sleeping. Some have been doing NaBloPoMo, but not all. Some have cute kids, some have no kids. There's smart, funny, inspiring, geeky, crafty, beautiful and various combinations of those qualities. I'm taking a stab at categories here but there's a lot of overlap. Most of these could go in more than one category.

How About Orange?

Smart and Inspiring

Funny. Very, very funny


Draft Day Suit (sports geeky, not the other kind)

When I get over to WordPress the list will be longer and permanent but for now, this will do nicely.

29 November 2009

baby, look at you now

Two years ago Eleanor had just mastered sitting up on her own and was rocking the turkey bib. She may have had a tooth or two but the turkey came out of a jar. I'm pretty sure she was still preferring her mum's milk and yogurt to turkey back then.

Now, she's still not eating much turkey, but she walks, talks, and has lots more teeth. The hair is a bit longer too, though it's still not entirely sure what it wants to do.

(Many thanks to Peter Su for taking the current photo and letting me use it here.)

28 November 2009

satisfied customer

It seems there is no shortage of bloggers with gift guides this year, even in light of the FTC's new scrutiny of the blogosphere. So I'll say it up front: I've received nothing for free and no one has asked me to review or promote their products. So there. I'm a satisfied customer, nothing more.

Sarah Jane Studios: This is my favorite etsy shop and I'm utterly addicted. Prints hang in both kids' rooms and Eleanor is getting a calendar this year. (Shhh....don't tell!)

The Rocking Pony: This is my favorite etsy shop, too. (Do NOT make me choose a single favorite.) My kids LOVE the shirts and get sad when they outgrow them. Fortunately, Karen keeps making more for us. Every time Oliver wears one to school I get questioned about the source. If you have a little Eleanor who wears 2T, let me know. I have an adorable, reversible jumper with her name on it for you.

Romp: Eleanor is getting a Home On the Go for Christmas. I think I am a little too excited to play with it. But why have kids if you can't play with their toys, right?

Zingerman's and Stonewall Kitchen: My favorite sources for food gifts. 20% everything at Stonewall through Sunday, too.

If all goes well, my shopping will be about 85% done by the end of the day tomorrow.

27 November 2009

can't quit now

NaBloPoMo day 27 is here so we're down to the last four days. Quitting is no longer an option. Ahem. And thank you to whomever didn't choose October or some other month with 31 days.

So Thanksgiving...not a total bust as I previously predicted. Kids ate a little turkey and mashed potatoes. Oliver ate more turkey, Eleanor ate more potatoes. They both ate mini pumpkin pies. At this rate they may eat stuffing before they drive. Woo hoo.

Black Friday? As much as I enjoy shopping, the thought of venturing into a store the day after Thanksgiving is not at all appealing to me. I didn't see anything in the sale flyers to change my mind. I watched my inbox fill up with emails for on-line Black Friday deals but I have mostly ignored those too. Leapfrog's $5 Tag books sucked me in briefly but I still got off their site (relatively) unscathed.

Yep, that's it. Our only trip outside today was to go to the library. New books and DVDs! For free! Happy Recessionmas! I'll probably make up for my restraint today later on this weekend. Most of the web deals run through Sunday anyway.

One goal for the weekend, holiday cards, is getting done tonight (thank you, Apple iPhoto and your printing service too). My excel spreadsheet of addresses for cards has mysteriously disappeared from my hard drive and all of our backups so I will have to reconstruct it somehow. If you usually get a card and I miss you, don't be shy. The kid pictures are especially cute this year.

26 November 2009

jingle all the way

Oliver's class guinea pig, Jingles, is spending the long 6 day weekend with us. This photo, taken yesterday, may end up being the only one of her on his lap. This afternoon he discovered her claws are a little sharp on 4 year old tummy as she tried to crawl under his shirt.

She spent the first night in his room but he's kicked her out for making noise the last two nights.

This morning we discovered she likes red pepper. The noises she makes are a bit of a mystery, and the book that was sent with us isn't much help, but the red pepper disappeared very rapidly.

In honor of Thanksgiving, we're thankful the dogs have not discovered Jingles. There really isn't enough of her to spread on a cracker anyway.

25 November 2009

thank your first commenter day

I'm seeing tweets about thanking one's first commenter. I had to look to see who the lucky winner might be for this blog. My money was on my sister Suzy but no, it was Matt, a former co-worker. Matt is responsible for my relocation to Pittsburgh, my husband's relocation to Pittsburgh (a month after me), and quite possibly, also responsible for us being together at all.

The post that Matt commented on first appeared on July 4, 2005, when Oliver was just 12 weeks old and the blog was a bit younger.

Matt has a food blog. Go see what he's making for Thanksgiving.

because muppets can't say "just killed a man"

This one speaks to me. And should you feel the urge to make a Freddie Mercury joke, resist. I beg you.

24 November 2009

turkey vu

Last year I predicted Thanksgiving would not be fun. Unfortunately, I was right. This year I'm afraid it will feel a bit like Groundhog Day. I'll be cooking, again, and the kids will be not eating, again. I hope saying it out loud will cause them to prove me wrong. I can hope, right?

The only difference is Jingles, Oliver's class guinea pig, is staying with us. We have squeaky toys larger than she is. May we all survive the next six days.

23 November 2009

What's In My Bag

I'm not sure if this is better or worse than the bulleted list. Click the photo to go to Flickr and see a few notes.

22 November 2009

meme time

NaBloPoMo day 22, meme time (and frankly it's a miracle I didn't get here sooner)

Here's a Free Association Meme from Luna Nina that I discovered thanks to my parenting oracle, Mary P. What do you need to know about this meme? "Rules are, there are no rules." There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head.

I can do that!

  1. Marathon :: parenthood

  2. Debt :: real estate

  3. Turn :: the page

  4. Image :: is not anything

  5. Sofa :: I'll take two

  6. Envelope :: bacon!

  7. Cart :: horse

  8. Process :: people, place

  9. Question :: everything

  10. Rumor :: run away!

21 November 2009

books you've never heard of

As the holidays approach, all too rapidly for my tastes, I'm thinking about gifts. And since, it's November, I'm grasping for blog fodder. Put these together and you get my list of favorite, and in a few cases obscure, children's books. They all get a big thumbs up from at least one of my kids and most are favorites of both.

So here they are, in no particular order. Nearly all are under $10.

and last, but certainly not least, a few from Mem Fox:

20 November 2009

the other woman

When we come home in the evening he goes to her immediately for a little quality time. A little caressing. Seeing what kind of day she had. It's very sweet.

No, he's not petting one of the dogs. It's the robot. And I don't mind a bit. Truth be told, I'm kind of falling in love with her too. Every morning I look to see if she made it back home the night before. (Good practice for later? I hope not.) And I think kind thoughts about her every time I notice the lack of dog hair tumbleweeds around the house.

This is our robot. She still needs a name.

19 November 2009


Mammograms are a hot topic this week. It seems some people think that mammograms save lives, but not enough to balance out the false positives and such. Excuse me? "Enough lives" is exactly one if it saves yours, your mom's, your sister's. My son was in the car this afternoon. He heard the word "mammogram" on NPR and asked me what it is. I told him it's a test I have every year to make sure I'm not sick. He didn't ask any more questions after that.

My relationship with mammograms got off to an early start, before I was 40. I was 35 and about to have breast reduction surgery. I had pre and post surgical mammograms. While I was having kids and breastfeeding I got a little break. Then I found a lump while I was still nursing Eleanor. My doctor found it too, a week after I did, without my mentioning it. (If she had not found it I would have said something, of course.) Since I was nursing I had an ultrasound and all was well. When Eleanor weaned I had my first real "mandated" post-40 mammogram. I went again this year. Then back a few weeks later for two more rounds plus another ultrasound, due to some inconclusive results. I spent three weeks with some mild worry and 2 hours suppressing a full-blown panic attack. And I walked out with the news that all was well, again.

I can live with that. For many years, with any luck. I'll be having an annual mammogram, even if I have to pay for them myself, and even if I have more worry and panic over possible problems. Entirely worthwhile, in my opinion.

Go read more:

18 November 2009

too young

Three women I know, one only virtually, have had strokes this year. This is not how it is supposed to be. Young, vibrant people do not have strokes. But they do.

Today I'm thinking of Anissa, who had a stroke yesterday. We had a funny little twitter exchange back in September but I've been reading her a lot longer. She is one of the people who inhabit the internet and steal your heart immediately, and by the sounds of things, she'd probably cop a feel in the process. Here's what folks who know her well are saying:
Please think of Anissa today, and help if you can.

And do this for me: Check out the American Heart Association's page on the warning signs of stroke. It's happening to far too many people and age doesn't seem to matter anymore. If it can happen to Anissa, it can happy to anyone.

17 November 2009

100 things, part two

It just gets randomer and randomer.

11. I'm obsessed with golf, yet I've never swung a club. (Miniature golf doesn't count.)
12. My honeymoon was in Paris, about 5 months after the wedding.
13. The weekend after my wedding I went to a dog show.
14. Both of my kids were born on Monday mornings.
15. The bigger baby was the easy one.
16. I can't cook without improvising a recipe, unless I am baking. Baking is chemistry.
17. I was a fan of Duke basketball before it was fashionable, before Coach K.
18. I've had great first timers luck in college basketball brackets and fantasy football. Things go rapidly downhill after that.
19. Standardized tests are fun for me. I passed the foreign service exam with zero preparation.
20. I skipped out on the interview.

16 November 2009

in which we resort to the bulleted list

We've reached day 16. I think we call it NaBloPoMohshit.
  • Major fail at cupcake equality today. Oliver made me promise (please, let him never learn the pinkie swear) to take him to Coco's for cupcakes today. They were closed. So we tried Vanilla. They were closed too. Mother of the year, once again. Bless the boy's heart, he settled for a snickerdoodle and chocolate milk at Border's. And then an explanation of how we don't always get what we want, where I used the example of wanting a second car and not having it. That one is going to bite me in ass, one way or another.
  • I won!!!
  • I am supposed to be making money at this blogging stuff. Who knew? (more about this one later, if I have time -- remember, I have a day job)
  • My children ate broccoli tonight, in pretty substantial quantities (for them). Wish I knew why, or how to duplicate this little miracle.
  • Fantasy football will be the death of me. Next year, one league. Having players on my roster that are my opponents in the other league is making my little brain explode.
  • Oliver's class guinea pig, Jingles, is coming home with us for Thanksgiving. That's six days I will be grateful I have a blind dog and a deaf dog. Hold me. And please come over to eat the ginormous dinner I will make, and my children will not eat.
  • Finally, this blog post had me laughing until it hurt, and that was before I got to the comments. Then I remembered I have a son.

15 November 2009

Dr Oliver

Me: I ate too much at lunch. My tummy hurts.

Oliver: Do you have a tummy ache?

Me: Yes.

Oliver: Maybe you should not eat so much next time.

14 November 2009

Toddler vs Cupcake

On Friday I saw Eleanor for about fifteen minutes. Total. She was asleep when I left for work in the morning, and Mr C and I left for the symphony right after he brought her home after work. She was also howling when we left. I felt awful.

Today wasn't much different. This morning I took Oliver to lacrosse and then to watch the Williams - Amherst football game with a bunch of alums, while Mr C took Eleanor shopping with him. I was determined to have some time with my girl when she woke from her nap. We headed out to Coco's for a cupcake and as it was post-nap, she was a very happy little girl.

All through the drive she asked if we were going to Coco's house so it's not surprising she kept asking, "Where's Coco?" while eating the cupcake.

Why does she keep turning around? Workmen were hanging holiday decorations on the street lights. Fascinating stuff, if you're two.

EDITED to change video to a MUCH shorter version.

13 November 2009

with a view

I spent most of my day fighting with some technology, ultimately unable to bend it to my will. When my anger threatened to boil over, I looked outside.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I felt better.

I can't see anything from my usual location in a cube. The window is behind me and off to the side. I have to get up and climb on a table to see anything. I could get used to a view like this.

12 November 2009


Mr C will be taking one less trip next year. He's pretty active in two organizations that meet three times a year, all over the world. Add to that the obligatory trips to the mothership and yeah, you know where all the sleep deprivation comes from. So one less trip sounds nice. Really really nice.

CalConnect is coming to Pittsburgh in May, hosted by CMU. In an interesting turning of the tables, it was my husband volunteering me for something. The opportunity to organize hotels and catering is a little like Christmas to me. It's a lot better than the stuff I typically volunteer him for.

It will be a fun project (even if he's making use a blasted wiki instead of playing with Google Wave) and at the end I'll get to meet some twitter/facebook friends and with any luck, sit in on some sessions and learn something. Or maybe I'll just remember that calendaring makes yer head 'splode.

11 November 2009

believe in me

Oliver has been making up some pretty fantastic stories of late. Over the weekend he concocted an entire soccer league and was able to tell me which teams played and who won, all out of his (over-active) imagination. This started because of a pair of socks sent by Aunt Suzy. He has Penguins socks, Pirates socks, Steeler socks, and soccer socks. One of these things is not like the others.... He wasn't quite sure what to do with socks that were not associated with a team. (Sorry, Riverhounds, but your logo isn't on the socks.) So he made up a league. Makes perfect sense, if you're 4.

Sports at his school have appeared to be over for more than a week, so when he told me on two days ago that there would be a field hockey game tomorrow, varsity vs faculty, I was skeptical. No, I flat-out didn't believe him. To me it seemed just as fantastic as his made-up soccer league.

Imagine my surprise this afternoon when I learned such a game really IS scheduled for tomorrow. I think you know where I'll be.

10 November 2009

100 things, part one

It's about time I do the whole "100 Things About Me" thing, so here we go, 10 at a time, probably on Tuesdays.

1. I am doubting I will get to thing 100.
2. I have lived in five places: Maine, Williamstown, Swarthmore, Walla Walla, Pittsburgh
3. All of my full-time jobs have been with higher education institutions.
4. I hope my next job is not with a higher education institution.
5. I read books and blogs about parenting, hoping to learn how to do it better.
6. My husband is the calm parent. He doesn't need to read books and blogs.
7. I am the kiss of death to television shows. If I like it, its days are numbered.
8. Same goes for Trader Joe's products.
9. When I was seven or eight my goal in life was to be a statistician for the Boston Bruins.
10. In order to get my master's degree I drove a 500 mile roundtrip once a week for two years.

09 November 2009

can't pry him away

Oliver likes school. That may be the understatement of the year. When I picked him up from that first day I asked him if he liked it and if he wanted to go back the next day. "I want to go back EVERY day," was his reply. And he's been unwavering in that sentiment. My problem is that he is putting his money where his mouth is. I frequently have trouble getting him to leave at the end of the day. His latest stalling tactic is to ask what's happening on the athletic field.

The field has been a busy place with practices and games for soccer and field hockey, and Oliver doesn't discriminate. If there are kids on the field, he wants to go watch. Now, suddenly, all that activity is over. The seasons ended, even the playoffs. The field is empty. Oliver doesn't care. I have to go play soccer with him, assuming someone has left a ball lying around (always), or get a little football out of his backpack and let him make me feel inferior because I can't throw a spiral to save my life. He can. Beauties. He's 4 and already running circles around me.

Today the field was empty again but Oliver didn't care. He found a soccer ball and was perfectly happy. Then all the extended day kids came outside and he was in seventh heaven. A small group of fifth graders has kind of adopted him and they started playing football. All over the field minor skirmishes were breaking out (mostly amongst siblings, I noticed), but none in Oliver's group. They played. And played. And played, for nearly an hour and all I heard was encouragement and laughing.

Some days I have to haul him away crying but today when it was time to go the older kids helped me out. There were fist bumps and high fives, and one seriously grinning kid who can't wait to go back to school tomorrow.

08 November 2009

dinner in a hurry

Regulars around here know I'm not a "food blogger." In my dreams maybe, but really I just dabble. Remember, I have been known to classify food as "Bacon and Not Bacon." Classy, no?

Weeknight dinners are my most frequent and daunting challenge. We try to eat as a family but it doesn't always work. I always swore I would not be one of those moms who cooked separate meals for the kids and the grownups, but here I am, doing just that, more often than I care to admit. The kids are not adventurous. They eat things that are separate. (Mac & cheese might be the only "combo".) Pasta is not covered in anything. Chicken nuggets are not dipped. Not even a little ketchup for the fish sticks most of the time. Compared to a lot of kids, my kids are good eaters, but it is still exasperating to me, the one who loves sushi and appreciates a well-constructed one-dish meal.

Whether we eat as a family, within 20 minutes of walking in the door, or the grownups eat after kids are in bed (8pm, when I can barely keep my eyes open), quick and easy is critical. My main man and nearby neighbor, Trader Joe, is a master at helping me accomplish this task. Tonight it was spaghetti and meatballs. The pasta took the most time.

Another quick meal that makes people think I worked a lot harder involves TJ's frozen chicken breasts, a jar of TJ's curry sauce (they are all good), TJ's frozen brown rice (I actually prefer Whole Foods' version but only because of packaging that enables better portion control) and TJ's garlic naan. I might cut up an onion and throw in a few other veggies. That's another under 20 minute dinner, but one the kids will not touch. And please don't tell my MIL or SIL this is how curry happens in our house, except on rare occasions when I have time to make as they taught me.

A whole family favorite is TJ's mandarin orange chicken. Oliver will dip things in this sauce. I add the brown rice again and broccoli (usually florets in a bag from TJ's). Voila. Orange chicken and broccoli in under 20 minutes. Kids keep it all separate but the adults mix it up and hope someday the kids will catch on.

I would love to cook everything from scratch. I would not have built my kitchen as I did if I didn't love to cook. But these days, my brain is too fried to do anything that even requires reading a recipe.

What's your favorite really fast, no brain required dinner? Bonus points if it's something my kids will eat.

07 November 2009

get the picture

He got one of these, so I might get the cast-off one of these. We'll still have one of these left over.

Photography is not my strong suit, probably because I have no formal training. Point and shoot is all I've ever tried. Hold me.

06 November 2009

picking up speed

Six months ago, Oliver finally mastered the trike, after nearly two years of trying. And now? He's got a big boy bike with a trade-in program. He'll be ready for Le Tour any day now.

05 November 2009

equal time

I've been a bit too Oliver-centric lately so let's try to give Eleanor equal time, shall we? The trouble is, I hardly see her. Since the big shift in schedule, necessitated by Oliver changing schools and the whole one car thing, there are mornings I leave before Eleanor wakes up. In the evening we get about 2 hours before she goes to sleep. I miss her.

Conversely, I get at least two hours with Oliver in the morning (whether I want them or not...). And some afternoons I am with him for four more hours. I'm not complaining. A lot of that time is just the two of us and it is very special, it is just all out of balance and may not change for about two years.

I got a bonus hour today. Eleanor's school had some open studio time and I jumped at the chance to take her. She adores the studio, especially painting and clay. Today it was all about the clay. We made a snowman, complete with a top hat and a little bag, like the one she likes to carry. It was the best hour of the week so far, without question.

Just look at that face. Who wouldn't want to spend more time with that?

04 November 2009

lean on me

One of the many things I love about Oliver's school is how the older kids treat the younger ones. Since everyone changes classes, even the PKs, they are out and about in the school. It's a small place (600 or so students in PK - 12) so they get to know each other quickly, but imagine a three and a half foot tall PK kid walking the halls frequented by 8th graders. Many of them are taller than I am! The school has some planned opportunities for interaction (5th grade buddies for PK, 8th grade buddies for K) a lot seems to happen outside the lines.

While I would expect a little intimidation, that's not what I am seeing. Oliver walks around like he owns the place, knows many of the kids by name, and they know him. Case in point, an 8th grader he met last summer. She makes him friendship bracelets and helps in his class during a free period. Her little sister is Oliver's 5th grade buddy and I'm certain he couldn't choose between them. The 5th grader drew him a picture today and he got very angry with me when I dared fold it (to fit in his backpack) without his permission.

He spotted the 8th grader when we arrived at a recent field hockey match and promptly sat on her, instead of sitting with me in the bleachers. I couldn't pry him away and if she was bothered by him, she hid it very well.

A few days later we were watching soccer, faculty vs varsity. Oliver was getting fidgety and went to kick a ball on the sidelines with some other kids, all older than him. Not only did they welcome him into their play, the middle school goal keeper took all the little kids behind the field and kicked the ball around with them.

In my experience, bigger kids tended to ignore the little ones (if I was lucky) and could be downright mean (if I wasn't so lucky). I see not the slightest hint of that sort of behavior at this school.

Since this is the norm at the school and not in any way exceptional behavior, I am confident Oliver will pay it forward and be kind to the little ones once he is a big kid.

03 November 2009

houston? come in, houston

Do I have any readers in Houston? I need a favor. Kind of a big one, I know, but I have to ask anyway.

Could you go root for the Pittsburgh Angels Rugby Football Club in the Women's Div II national championship on Saturday at the University of Houston? 12:15pm is their first match. I'll also need you Sunday since we know they will be dominating their opponents right to the end. City of Champions, n'at.

While we are loud here in the 'burgh, I don't think they will be able to hear all of their fans from here. Help?

02 November 2009

one oh oh oh

Here it is. Post 1000. I should look back and do a quick review but I really just want to move forward (and drink!). But a bit of looking back is apparently required. I offer here just a little. We're not going to be doing any of that wallowing thing. Ahem.

I started this blog on a whim a couple of months after the birth of my first child. Our families don't get to see the kids much so I thought it would be a fun way for them to keep up with Oliver (and later, Eleanor). It has evolved into something far less focussed than I planned, for better and worse, with more ranting and complaining than I ever anticipated.

Numbers seem to figure prominently around here. I offer just a few examples.

Here we have Oliver's weight chart (of misery and insanity). We were crazy enough to weigh him every day for far too long. Kids, DO NOT try this at home. No breastfeeding woman should have to do this. I was far too wrapped up in how many ounces I pumped and how many Oliver did or did not gain that I felt a lot of needless stress in my life. Once a week or two is plenty. Seriously.

In 2008 I did Blog365 and we experienced the 24 days of Daboo family Christmas. More insanity, on both counts, yet fun. There have been lists like this one, this one, and another one.

So, moving forward (feel free to drink again) is what we'll be doing around here, forward by getting back to where I started. Growing kids wait for no one.

01 November 2009

NabloPost 999

Here we are. November again. Somebody please tell me what happened to October. I seem to have blinked at some point and now it's gone.

I have continued to be a bad little blogger for the last few months so of course, signing up to do NaBloPoMo for the fourth year in a row seems like a great idea. Today, anyway. It seems I'll have lots of company in my misery.

Seriously though, I know what I'm in for and know I can do it. I have all these great ideas for regular features and I'm not going to tell you any of them. The enterprise will be doomed as soon as I hit publish, so I will keep them to myself. Only I will know when I fail.

Here's my annual plea for people to join me in this effort. Come on. You know you want to. And there are prizes! Don't have a blog? Start one! You can even post to the NaBloPoMo site itself if you want. This is not rocket science. (I'm going to say that one to myself as often as possible.)

Come back tomorrow for the 1000th post to my blog. And excuse me now, while I go try to wrap my head around that one.

31 October 2009

a gorilla and the best banana ever

Here's the annual photo of the kids on the front lawn, just prior to embarking on a little Halloween fun. (see also last year's photo, and the year before that)

Once again, Oliver chose the costumes back in August, but I think it is the last year he is going to choose for his sister. For the last few days Eleanor has been telling me she wants to be a spider again and I should put that banana thing in a bag. We had a couple of traumatic attempts to try it on and I was sure she was going to have none of it when the moment of truth came.

Trooper that she is, she let Mr C get it on her, then I took over with some encouragement. I told her how cute it looked and took her up to a large mirror so she could see. Wide eyed, she liked what she saw. I told her she was the best banana ever and she ate it up with a spoon. Just another parenting problem solved.

26 October 2009

are you ready for some...rugby?

I renewed my strange and wonderful relationship with rugby yesterday, as Eleanor and I caught the second half of the Pittsburgh Angels' decimation of their opponent in the Midwest Division II tournament. We had to cross two of Pittsburgh's three rivers to get there, multiple times even, but get there we did. Founder's Field is a very nice venue. Much nicer than anywhere I ever played.

I played rugby (badly) in college. In six seasons I racked up a very long list of injuries, including three concussions, and never once scored. I was marginally better in the third half of competition. Let me know if you ever need an anchor for your boat races or a dirty limerick that contains the phrases "concave or convex" or "iambic pentameter". I am definitely your girl.

After graduation I moved to take a job where my boss just happened to be the faculty advisor to the women's rugby club, a club who had been coached by a couple of guys who had just graduated. I wasn't any better as a coach than I was as a player. Fortunately, they didn't really need me. The two captains were outstanding and there was a lot of talent on the team. They needed me to drive and be the grown up. Ha!!!

In the twelve years I have been in Pittsburgh, the only rugby I have seen has been on tv. Going to see the Angels seemed like such an occasion I even got out my old jersey And.It.Fit!!! I will admit it was much baggier back in the day (it was purchased in 1985, for goodness sakes! twenty four years, two babies, and a hell of a lot of nutella ago) but it was comfy, like I remembered.

Many things about the game, however, were very different. What is this business of lifting in the line outs? That was illegal and dangerous in the olden days when I was playing. Now it is normal and, seemingly, expected. There were a few other things that seemed odd (no, not the scrumcaps but I still wouldn't wear one!) but in general, the experience left me feeling awfully nostalgic. I have no interest in ever playing again, unless someone comes up with a wheelchair league, but I'd still be all over that third half. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine....

As for Eleanor, she LOVED rugby. Tonight at dinner she was still talking about it. Maybe love is too strong a word. She loved rearranging the gravel and thought seeing the women running around and clapping for them was cool. I told her she could play some day but asked that she please wait until after I'm dead.

E and UC

01 October 2009

high maintenance

Every week I fill these boxes. For the dogs. True story.

Though this is the glorious four months of the year when I am younger than Mr C, I still feel ancient on a daily basis. But it's nothing compared to my dogs. Bubba, our rescued Clumber, will be 14 in December. He totally acts like he's 98, sleeping 98% of the time. Penguin will be 12 in January. She's in better shape and if she could see, you'd never guess her age. That is at least in part due to the pills I put in the box. She also gets eye drops and ointments 2-3 times a day.

It's hell to get old.

30 September 2009

last gasp

When I heard frost predicted for tonight I was glad to have taken this picture last weekend. After a few weeks of no daylilies blooming in the yard, this one appeared. It is called Inner View and holy moly, was it enormous. I should have put something in the picture for scale. Those are nasturtiums in the lower left corner, if that helps.

I'm not at all sad about fall's arrival. I look forward to it the other three quarters of the year. Cold will always make me happier than heat and humidity, but I will miss the flowers, especially the surprises my garden tends to throw my way.

29 September 2009

I want my, I want my, I want my NPR

In an effort to break the monotony of Music Together CDs in the car I finally broke down and bought Songs from the Street, a 3 CD set of classics from Sesame Street. It's great, until we've listened to it for two weeks straight. At that point, R.E.M. and Hootie & the Blowfish make me want to scratch my eyes out, even if Eleanor does declare each track her favorite.

But there's one song I don't tire of, probably because Oliver looks so darn cute singing it. He asks for Number 6 on the third disc all the time. (I swear it takes him all of one time through a CD to memorize a playlist.) Unfortunately, I haven't dash-mounted a video camera to capture it. This will have to do.

I look forward to the time when the kids are old enough to tolerate what they call "mommy moosic" (aka WDUQ, our local NPR affiliate), but for now, we'll talk some trash with Steven Tyler & Oscar the Grouch, slide with the Goo Goo Dolls, and sing with the Dixie Chicks.

28 September 2009

oh how they tease

It was a full family assault at PNC Park on Sunday. We bought two tickets (Oliver and the parent to be named later) to eight Pirate games, and bravely bought four tickets to the last Sunday game of the season, hoping Eleanor would be old enough to make it through to the end. Wow, did she surprise all of us.

To be fair, we cheated a little. With all the rain we were getting Sunday morning I was sure the start would be delayed a little. We gave the kids an early lunch and got them down for naps. Letting Eleanor sleep until the very last minute meant she got just over an hour for nap and woke up happy. We got to our seats at the start of the second inning. Other than a one-inning wander around with Mr C, Eleanor was remarkable. It was Oliver who declared he was bored at the beginning of the seventh and asked to go to the playground. We held him off though, reminding him of the approaching opportunity to stretch and sing. Good thing, too, Oliver soon spotted Manny loosening up in the dugout, about to pinch hit.

For the second time in a month, we missed a ninth inning walk-off 6-5 victory for the Pirates because we were in line to run the bases, but that's okay. MLB at Bat enabled us to watch the video highlights on the drive home. And the look on Eleanor's face as she ran down the first base line hand in hand with her brother was worth it.

So the Buccos of Suckitude took three out of four from the division-leading Dodgers. They love to tease us into thinking they might actually have a clue. Good thing we know better. Now what ticket package shall we buy for 2010?

27 September 2009

enormous changes at the last minute

I've been a bad little blogger. Not that I haven't been thinking about it. This post has been rattling around in my brain for weeks. It started in late August when I knew the family was in for some schedule changes when Oliver started at his new school. I started trying to modify my sleep schedule, and the universe proceeded to laugh its ass off at my expense. We have yet to miss the 7:25 am bus but it has not been easy or painless. I am not getting to bed early enough and the kids and dogs regularly conspire to interrupt my sleep. This part of the change is not working well but I know that when I do get to bed by 10:30 I feel great. Scary great. I need to do this more.

My work schedule also changed to accommodate picking him up at either 4 or 4:30 pm. I love the extra quiet time in the morning. I typically eat some banana, shared with Eleanor and the dogs, before leaving the house and then have breakfast at work. My drawers are stocked with food (more on that topic later) so I eat at my desk. On Fridays, when most of my co-workers are off, I'm the first one in the office and it's utterly silent for nearly an hour. This part of the change is working really well.

Since I am a glutton for punishment, I went back to Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. I'm also participating in Sarah and Devra's Biggest Loser competition over at Loser Moms. I wish I could say I've dropped ten pounds but no, it's only 4 but I have learned a thing or two about weight loss and my own behavior over the last few years. In a nutshell, perfect isn't possible and imperfect is inevitable. An off day is no reason to get completely de-railed. I'm accepting my mistakes and forgiving them, as quickly as possible. I no longer think, "Screw it, tomorrow is another day." Now I think about the next meal or snack and get back on track faster. I wish I could say this is all my doing but my leader is a genius. She gets me. This part of the change is going okay. Lots of work left to do but moving in the right direction.

Now, for proof I have lost my mind entirely, I said, "yes" when asked to be the Room Parent for Oliver's class. I did not know at the time that I would be responsible for hosting the Parent Social, a parents-only event. At our house. Where my children live. I think we worked that out but it's going to be interesting. The school has also asked me to be a parent ambassador, fund raiser, and a few other things. Love the school but they are trying really hard to occupy nearly every day of my life. I'm learning to say no. Apparently not fast enough, however, since I also said yes to chairing the Finance committee for the Girl Scout board of directors. Thankfully, the third volunteer-y thing I said, "yes" to didn't pan out or I would have been well and truly screwed. This part of the change is definitely a work in progress.

Since I'm changing just about everything, say hello to my new blog look, courtesy of NapWarden who worked her magic for me once again. For someone who had never hear of, let alone seen, a Clumber spaniel until the last couple of weeks, I am insanely impressed.

30 August 2009

I made this

Fanciness at #crappypizza on Twitpic

photo by Abby, pizza by your's truly from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen -- someday I might even follow the recipe

21 August 2009

shifting time

I'm a morning person. It took forever to figure that out, with it finally being a matter of realizing I don't typically get squat done in the afternoon. Living with a confirmed night owl also helped reinforce this discovery. Lately I have tried to do it all. Get up early with the kids, or to be more specific, get up early with Oliver who is the other morning person in the house, (Gah, that apple did not fall more than a few millimeters from this tree.) AND stay up too late with Mr C. This is where my twitter bio, "testing the limits of sleep deprivation", comes from. Ahem.

All this fabulous no sleep-ness is about to change in a very big way. On August 31, Oliver will have to be at school by 8:15. (For comparison, we've been taking an 8:20 bus most mornings. Sometimes 8:10 or 8:40, but usually 8:20.) Google's handy transit mapping feature tells me I have a number of options, none of them what I would call "fun." We can leave at 7:05 and get the bus that takes us right to school in time. Not bloody likely. The other options involve varying lengths of bus rides and walks, with the best one having us on a 7:25 bus and a 10 minute walk at the end. It's the shortest bus ride (about 10 minutes) but the walk isn't a short one, especially since I will have a 15 minute walk to get to work once I leave Oliver's school. It will be especially challenging in bad weather.

Another contributing factor is that I'm changing my work schedule to enable me to pick Oliver up by 4pm most days. See, tuition only takes us to 2:30. For 9 bucks he can go to the after school program until 4. That jumps to $20 if he stays longer. Not to mention the 8:15 arrival means an awfully long day for a 4 year old. Fortunately, my job is cool with the change.

Obviously my late nights are quickly coming to an end and I'm anticipating a few problems. I like reading blogs in the evening, and a few nights a week there is tv I really like. We don't have TiVO or any sort of DVR. I have a feeling Hulu and I are going to become very tight, though I have no idea when I will squeeze in actually watching the shows I am going to miss.

I'm not worried about falling asleep. Lately that has not been a problem. At.all. It's the waking up part I struggle with, especially when Oliver decides 5:45 is a fine time to ask for an update on baseball scores or to decide he's starving and can't possibly sleep any longer.

On the bright side, I am hoping to squeeze in exercise before we leave in the morning and that all that walking will contribute to some weight loss. I know I need to do more, but every bit helps, right?

If you're faced with a time shift yourself, or you just want to be an earlier riser, check out Zen Habits for some suggestions I will be trying to follow (especially the part about making getting up early a reward, not a punishment!). Hell, check out Zen Habits anyway. It's jam packed with good info. I was surprised to discover Dumb Little Man had nothing to say on this topic, though it does have a number of good articles on sleep (and is another just plain smart site).

So tell me, have you changed your sleep schedule? How did you do it?

19 August 2009

candlesticks always make a nice gift

To badly quote Bull Durham, we're dealing with a lot of shit. Nothing major has hit the fan but there are lots of little piles contributing to the mess and the stench. Nothing I can't clean up. Eventually.

Here's a quick and dirty list of the piles making their presence felt in my little life:

Summer is nearly over. Classes start Monday. I'm not ready. Starting this job last summer in July was like trying to work with one arm tied behind my back. Now I know it doesn't make any difference. The extra month doesn't matter one little bit.

Summer is nearly over. I didn't get a vacation. The one I thought I was getting in September isn't happening either. When I think about it, there is no way it was going to be a vacation anyway. Two small children, four flights, two of those flights in the 7-8 hour range. Yeah. Not a vacation.

Summer is nearly over. No new show dog. Harrumph.

Summer is nearly over. Oliver starts pre-K in less than two weeks. It's only pre-K but it's at a real live school, the one we hope he will attend for the next 13 years (and his sister too). Ho-ly.... I was feeling a lot better about it until the magic teacher switcheroo the school played. I don't get to meet his teacher until next Friday and he starts three days later. Not feeling at all good about that. I adored the teacher we thought he would have. On the up side, there are 8 kids in the class, not the 16 we expected. A tiny little bright side effect of the economy. Very, very tiny, in the grand scheme of things. I would trade it if all my unemployed friends could have jobs and all my uninsured friends could have good, affordable health insurance.

Summer is nearly over but it's too effing hot. I know it could have been like this all summer instead of just two weeks of it. It's my blog and if I want to bitch about the heat and humidity, that's exactly what I'm gonna do.

Have I mentioned summer is nearly over? I would like to flip it the bird and send it on its way now.

04 August 2009


Borrowed from my child rearing hero and woman of many superpowers, Mary P.

A – AVAILABLE: Not so much.
B – BIRTHDAY: Jan 23
C – CRUSHING ON: a couple of adorable 4 year olds in Oliver's class. I wonder if their parents would entertain a trade.
F – FAVORITE SONG: Accidents Will Happen, or anything from Imperial Bedroom.
G – GUMMY BEARS OR GUMMY WORMS: If I have to choose, bears but neither one thrills me.
H – HOMETOWN: Auburn, Maine
J – JUGGLE: Kids, spouse, job, dogs, house, and volunteer work. Something hits the floor and makes a mess regularly.
K – KILLED SOMEONE: Only in my dreams.
L – LONGEST CAR RIDE: Pittsburgh to Worcester, MA with a 2 year old and a 9 week old. Definitely not my idea of a good time.
M- MILKSHAKE FLAVOR: Vanilla. And don't mix any junk in with it.
O – ONE WISH: An unlimited number of wishes.
Q – QUICKIE: Yes, please.
R – REASON TO SMILE: My daughter made me smile this morning. She's adorable and silly first thing in the morning. I have usually been up more than an hour by then and am not at all adorable.
S – SONG YOU LAST HEARD: I Love Trash, the Steven Tyler version
T – TIME YOU WOKE UP: Which time? Dog got me up at 3:15, then a kid at 5:20 (to ask if about baseball scores), then the same kid at 6:15.
U – UNDERWEAR COLOR: Black but it's decidedly not the least bit interesting.
V – VEGETABLE(S): Mushrooms
W – WORST HABIT: Lateness
X – X-RAYS YOU’VE HAD: Fingers, teeth, ankles, knees. I should have been glowing before I got out of college.
Y – YOYOS ARE: fun! Pass one over. I'm not at all skilled though.
Z – ZODIAC SIGN: Aquarius

20 July 2009


Much as I wanted to hold them hostage in my backyard (with beer, of course), Sarah and Devra went on their merry way to Canton this morning. Last night's meet up at AlphaLab, hosted by iTwixie with produce donated by Isidore Foods, cupcakes from kdiddy, blueberry zucchini fabulousness from Abby, and pastries from....I dunno. The HoHos and lemon meringues must have put me into a sugar coma.

Having my own private little BlogHer actually helped to ease some of the bitterness. I didn't have to fret about packing, what to wear, who I was or was not seen with, or which parties to go to. I got swag, and the only cute shoes I thought about were Eleanor's.

As we walked to the bus stop this morning Oliver was asking why our guests were getting in their car. "I want them to stay for 10 years!" he said. Me too, Bunny, me too.

18 July 2009


Crawling out of my foxhole kitchen just briefly to update you on a little get together scheduled for tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Two fab bloggers, Devra and Sarah, are visiting us as the first stop on their roadtrip to BlogHer. (I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter. I'm NOT bitter.)

In less than 72 hours, kdiddy and I organized a little meetup/tweetup for them, tomorrow at 6pm. We have an awesome host, iTwixie, and got some wonderful fresh produce donated by Isidore Foods, and the terrific AlphaLab is letting us invade their space on Carson St in the South Side.

My kitchen is in high gear, especially since I have two short windows of opportunity (aka Kid Nap Time) to get it all done.

If you're in Pittsburgh, you really want to join us. This is NOT an event just for MommyBloggers. These ladies are entrepreneurial bloggers operating in the stratosphere. We have a lot to learn from them. And I have it on very good authority that Sarah likes beer.

So join us. Let me know with a comment, an email, a smoke signal, a tweet...whatever method you want to use.

[UPDATE: Someone else is cooking for the meetup too. And she's bringing Twister!]

11 July 2009

a boy and his bear

It was a quick trip to the zoo this morning but very worthwhile as we finally got to see a polar bear from the tunnel. According to a sign near the bears exhibit, polar bears spend just 10% of their time in the water. I would say our odds of seeing the bears from the tunnel are not even that good.

Given that "impatience" was the theme of the day, it was a challenge to get Oliver to stay very long. He saw the bear make one lap of the area and was ready to roll. I was lucky to grab this shot. The bear was rubbing his face with his paw as he swam. I doubt he was really in deep thought.

05 July 2009

branching out

Readers who have been around two years or more know that I usuallyblog about the Tour de France in July. It looks like I skipped the blogging part of the Tour last year, probably due to going back to work and such. I was watching, honest. I was recently asked to contribute to a sports blog, Draft Day Suit, so I'm going to put my Tour posts over there. My first post went up today. Go check it out! I use cool words like "pfffft". And get your fantasy fix by creating a team on the Fantasy Cycling Challenge at Versus. Join the draftdaysuit league and kick my butt. If there are three or more participants I will come up with a Tour-related prize for the winner. You have two more days of practice. It starts for real with stage 5.

Huge thanks to Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah, for asking me to join her merry band at Draft Day Suit. I didn't pee my pants when you asked, honest. Okay, maybe a little. Our little secret, ok?

01 July 2009

a very nice little word

Benign. Nice little word, don't you think? It was my favorite word two days ago, when we finally got the results of Penguin's biopsy.

A few months ago I found a tiny lump in Pen's shoulder area. I took her to the vet, where they aspirated the lump. Nothing troublesome was found and we agreed to just keep an eye on it. Then the lump got a little bigger. Not huge, but a little bigger, about the size of a marble. (The biopsy report says 2cm but that surprised me. It didn't feel that big.)

Since it was time for her annual exam anyway, I made another appointment and took her in. This time when they aspirated the lump the composition of the cells was different. Still not screaming "cancer" but worrisome enough that my vet thought it worthwhile to put an 11 year old dog under general anesthesia.

I was in for a big shock when I picked her up from the surgery a week later. The incision was enormous!
Frankenclumber on Twitpic

Apparently the thick and loose skin of her breed made the giant incision necessary. So there you have it, FrankenClumber. She was groggy when we brought her home but back to normal within 24 hours. Though I had five days of pain meds for her I stopped giving them when she started trying to climb the dining room table on day three. She was not a dog in pain, that's for sure.

We thought the biopsy results would be back in a week but it took more like 11 days. The vet's office received the report via fax while I was in having Penguin's sutures removed. And there was that beautiful word...benign. She's a happy dog and we look forward to more healthy time with her.

[Can't believe I forgot to throw in a plug for the Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation. We're young but already doing great work to improve the health of Clumbers everywhere.]

26 June 2009


We hit two milestones today. Eleanor started talking about bedtime while we were in the car tonight. That should have been my first clue. When she starts says, "No bath! No bath! Brush teeth!" she is thinking about bedtime. She said she didn't want any dinner. She says a lot of things that are not true these days so I didn't think a lot about it. Then she barfed. No biggie. Every few months she barfs, usually at school. She falls asleep soon after and is fine when she wakes up. I tried to get a little dry toast into her but she was having none of it. I put her to bed and she conked out immediately, without any of her usual chattering.

She woke up when I checked on her about 90 minutes later. And promptly barfed again, all over her bed. As I was trying to comfort her, she barfed one more time. All.Over.Me. That's our milestone, the first barf on mom or dad. Since we have six kid years under our belts, we should probably consider ourselves lucky. The funniest moment? Eleanor telling me to clean up the "crumbs". No, dear, those are "chunks" but close enough.

Within a couple of minutes she was asking to go to the dinosaur playground so I'm thinking she's got it all out of her system.

And the second milestone? That's easier. This blog is 4 years old today.

25 June 2009

ladies and gentlemen

Pardon me as I ease back in to this blogging stuff. Apparently I have a bit of a performer on my hands. A ham, even. Though he left his old school a couple of weeks ago, he was invited back for the end-of-year party and puppet show. His teacher gave him the emcee and stage manager duties. He introduced the show and manned the lights.

Learning the lines was pretty simple, giving us a few days to work on his delivery. I just wanted him to speak slowly and he accomplished that. The rest? All Oliver.

24 June 2009

tomorrow, not today

In yet another blinding flash of the obvious, when I said in yesterday's post that I'd be back for real tomorrow, I didn't really mean today. More like day after tomorrow. Or Thursday. Follow?

23 June 2009

dippy kids

Stay tuned. I'll be back to blogging tomorrow. For now, enjoy a shot of the kids while CD was away. We amused ourselves one morning with a visit to Dippy the Dinosaur.

28 May 2009

it worked! and then I felt crappy again

With apologies to all the therapists out there, shortly after hitting the almighty publish button on that last post, I felt better. It was so utterly unexpected I almost dismissed it, attributing it to chocolate or some other source of comfort, but no, it was the blogging. For reals.

I decided this wasn't some grand conspiracy after all. (JT, I must have missed a dose of paranoid pills!) I wasn't nearly as pissed off with Mr Clumber or the kids or anyone within a 100 mile radius. It was good.

Then I got a phone call that my Aunt Edith passed away yesterday morning. Pffffffffffft. She was 94 and had lived a pretty remarkable life, but that doesn't mean I am not sad. We are lucky to have had some great, albeit brief, visits with her in the last few years. She met Mr Clumber and both kids, and I got to tell her about my work with the Girl Scouts. She liked that.

I'm off to Maine in the morning so I can attend the funeral on Saturday. Then I will race back here Saturday night so Mr Clumber can make his flight Sunday morning. Two weeks of flying solo, whoohoo! Yeah, maybe not so much. This is not how I planned to rest up, but it will be great to see immediate and extended family, some I have not seen in years. I wish it were under different circumstances, of course, but this is how we have to roll sometimes.

26 May 2009

not what I signed up for

My blog is about as close as you want to get to me right now. When it rains, it pours. Let's just say there are flood warnings in my vicinity. If I were the Mon Wharf, there would be no parking for months.

It all started last Thursday when CD informed me he'd have to work a bit over the weekend. No biggie, I thought. He squeezes work in at every possible opportunity, anyway. This surely won't be different. (And don't call me "Surely".)

Saturday morning he decided he couldn't come to Gymkhana with us. We had 30 people coming in the afternoon for a potluck so I let that slide. He wouldn't bail on me for that. And he didn't. But jeez-lou-effing-wheeze has he bailed on everything else. 

On Sunday he worked some more, and I amused the kids. Knowing I'd have two hours to myself on Monday morning and would get to meet RedPenMama for coffee kept me going. The pin was stuck in that little balloon as I was about to leave, when CD suggested I needed to take the kids or not go. We compromised and I took Eleanor, but it was hardly the kid-free hours I had in mind. Oliver would have been easier, but he's also better able to amuse himself so I got the short straw kid. In a minor fit of pique, I bought new shoes. 

Then came the annual neighborhood picnic on Monday afternoon. This is the one day a year we all go out on the street, eat, and socialize. We realize we have hibernated all winter, and the older folks marvel at how the little ones (twenty under 10, at last count) have grown in the last year. It's a pretty good time, especially when we divide and conquer the kids. Nope. Not this year. I was on my own. I finally got tired of Eleanor terrorizing Oliver and both of them screaming at the top of their lungs. I took them home, gave Eleanor a bath (I should get combat pay just for that. It wasn't my turn.), and put her to bed. Oliver and I then rejoined the party for a few more minutes. CD at this point had been working nearly 12 straight hours without a break. He didn't even have breakfast before he started working and that NEVER happens. I know he was still working at 2:30am. 

Today he got up an hour early (after getting no more than 3 hours of sleep) and was back at it. He needed me to take both kids to their schools, of course. At this point I was starting to wish he had just gone to California a week early. At least I would know what to expect. He's going to be gone two weeks anyway. After one week, it hardly makes a difference if he's gone two or three more. 

Going to work this morning was a relief. My tolerance had been getting shorter and shorter. A few hours without a kid saying "mummy" every 5 seconds was really, really nice. It was quiet, except for the sound of steam pouring out of my ears. Since I had the car I came home at lunch time to get the dry cleaning and do a few other errands. CD didn't hear me come in and started yelling at me when I came out of our bedroom, thinking I was a burglar, apparently. Big fun.

Finally (at least up until now), my plan to go to a study group meeting tonight was also foiled. I was away last month so I was really hoping to go. 

At some point on Sunday, with what passes for a shit-eating grin on his face, CD informed me his trip to Stockholm in July was approved. This is after we had talked about it, decided it was unlikely he would go, and I registered for BlogHer in Chicago. Silly me, for thinking I would get three days to myself this summer. I'll be lucky to get three minutes. That was my ENTIRE summer vacation. Poof. Now I get 8 days of flying solo instead. Gee, what's second prize? He also made sure to tell me next year he'd probably be going to the Netherlands. So unless BlogHer '10 had a date change, I'll be SOL for that too. This is the same as last year's Dublin trip. I'm going to start referring to IETF as the Intensely Evil Task Force, unless I can come up with something worse. Does any organization really need to meet three times a year? (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Calconnect, too.)

I've been a bitter old bitch for the last three days, and since I saw my shadow this afternoon, I predict it lasts through the summer. I got CD a book for Stockholm today. A peace offering? Perhaps. Or maybe I feel guilty for my bitchiness. It's not his choice, after all. He loves his work but it's clear he's not having fun. In all likelihood, I will get over this. It is just too much all at once and finding a happy place will take time. I even bit his head off as he tried to give me good news about something in August. Inside that cloud, I found the dark gray lining. Go me!

Would love to share more but I've been asked to clear the guest room for him, so I won't be awakened by his getting up in the middle of the night to do more work. How considerate. 

Yeah, I'm gonna be bitter just a leetle bit longer.


23 May 2009

mine mine mine

Go see what Tara made for me! She totally indulges my desire for crafts, and she knows I  have some sort of anti-craft gene and thus cannot fend for myself.

Feel free to give her some encouragement. She should have her own shop, don't you think?

20 May 2009

can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

Long time. No blog. Anyway.

It's hardly a newsflash but Sesame Street is on YouTube. This was handy with Oliver when he was younger, as in the days before iPhone. He would watch videos of Elmo singing with a wide variety of celebrities, from Andrea Bocelli to the Goo Goo Dolls. Oliver killed one screen on my laptop but I still thanked MetroDad every day for the tip. (Are you not reading him? Go. NOW! I'll wait, though I know you may not be back for days and you'll probably laugh so hard you'll need at least one wardrobe change.)

Eleanor has now made the discovery. Her favorite for the last couple of weeks has been Put Down the Ducky, also a favorite of Oliver's. Then today we discovered this:

Hysterical. If my kids start asking for celery, I'll know why. And I'll do a little happy dance.

11 May 2009

Pittsburgh Marches for Maddie

Our Team
Originally uploaded by biodtl
Thanks to all who donated to the March for Maddie and our Pittsburgh team. And thanks to Gina for letting me steal the photo. This is what we looked like before the walk got underway, in our killer matching t-shirts.

I was having far too much fun catching up with friends and their kids to notice that three miles was passing by. It sure didn't feel like 3 miles. For a few hours. Then I went to bed early.

For links to lots more photos of our team walking the walk, head on over here.

08 May 2009

as promised

Since y'all so kindly helped me reach my goal for the March for Babies, and put the team in very good shape ($28 away from FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS! as of a couple of minutes ago), here are the updates I promised. Fasten your seat belts. It's been a bumpy week.

On Monday Oliver came home with lots of red paint on his shirt, his arms, and a very large patch under his chin and on his chest. Hmmmmm. I didn't understand his explanation but it washed off easily and I forgot about it.

On Tuesday, Oliver went to the doc and got three shots. He does not like what he called "the pens." When you're little, shots hurt and then you cry and then it's over and you forget about it. When you're four, it sticks with you longer, as in days. He's still talking about the pens.

At pick up time I found a note from Oliver's teacher that explained the red paint. It seems the class was doing a painting activity that involved straws. It took Oliver a long time to learn to suck liquids through a straw so it's not surprising that he's proud of this skill. A little too proud, as it turns out. The note described how upset he was and what steps the educators took. It implied he didn't ingest any of paint. Hold that thought.

After dinner Oliver went to the potty. He asked for privacy, then asked me to come back. When I wiped his bum, the toilet paper was totally red. The poop in the bowl was totally red. After about 7 seconds of panic, I remembered the note, the paint, the straw. It all made sense. Then I sent the teacher an email of thanks for the note, as she had just saved us a trip to Children's.

Moving on...

On Wednesday I went to the dentist for my first cleaning in way too many years. Double digits. It wasn't bad at all and I will be a good girl now. Flossing and everything. Six month visits. You know the drill. Pinky swear. 

Then the kids had their appointments. Oliver was doing great until some tartar was spotted on his bottom teeth and had to be removed. He didn't like that much. Worse than the pens, he said. Cleaning postponed, but only momentarily.

Eleanor was next. They never saw her teeth. Ahem. We'll try again another time. While she was being tortured (or so it sounded) Oliver and were negotiating in the waiting room. We made a great deal. He would sit in the chair and let the nice lady clean his teeth if I knelt down next to the chair and let him play with my hair. It was quite a sight, or so I assume from the looks on people's faces as they walked by the room. Mission accomplished however, and Oliver will now happily show you his shiny teeth.

Then the dentist came in to take a closer look. We suspected Oliver had a cross bite, complicated by enthusiastic and chronic thumb sucking. It seems that would be a walk in the park compared to what is really going on. He's got something skeletal and funky with his jaw formation. He's got two extra teeth on top. One is fused to another tooth. We're headed to a specialist in a few weeks. And though we only have three more weeks with his current teacher, she's agreed to help us get started on the thumb issue, bless her heart.

(Still with me? I'm just getting started, unfortunately. I suggest the faint of heart stop here, and that means you, Jenn.)

On Thursday we decided Eleanor needed to see the doc for her eczema. It was out of control and she was scratching herself raw. As a bonus, she also had a nasty cough. CD took her in and doc was worried she might have scabies. (I itch just from typing that word.) I looked at the pictures on WebMD and didn't think she had it but I itched for a couple of hours anyway. We got her an appointment that afternoon with a dermatologist. Right at naptime, of course. We kept her amused until about 30 seconds before the docs (4 of 'em) walked in, when she promptly hit THE WALL that 2 year olds hit when naptime is 90 minutes late. It was the fastest appointment ever. They all looked, did a minimum of poking, one guy wrote a script, and they all promptly bolted in an effort to get as far away as possible from the screaming. I picked up the vat of cream as soon as she was asleep. After two applications, it seems to be working. She's sleeping better and not scratching herself nearly as much.

While picking up the cream I finally remembered to get Eleanor a new hairbrush. We've been having world war III every morning and night as I try to get the knots out of her hair. I've been very close to cutting it all off. It seemed worth a couple of bucks to try a brush before taking drastic measures. This too has been wildly successful. 

In all the craziness I forgot to pick up my veggie crate. Say it with me. FAIL.

On Friday I had to explain to Oliver that his favorite baseball player was given a 50 game suspension. I kept it as simple as I could. He has started telling me he has sad news, or happy news so I told him I had sad news. Manny broke the rules and had to have a very long "sit down". That's what happens to him at school occasionally so I ran with it. We talked about how Manny will be back in July and how long that is from now. He seems to understand and took the news surprisingly well.

Then we all went to the spring fling at Oliver's new school (come the fall). They are being so very nice to us. The head of the lower school came over to greet us. So did the head of admissions, and one of his teachers. For a change, Oliver got over his fear of trying the various games and ended up having a great time. Eleanor joined the fun as well. I love that place more and more all the time.

Alas, it's not over yet. On the schedule for tomorrow:  March for Maddie, CD taking kids to Gymkhana, all of us meeting up at the Spring Fair at Oliver's current school, and me heading back there after naptime to volunteer for a couple of hours. 

Sunday is Mother's Day and our sixth wedding anniversary. All I want is to sleep until noon. Place your bets.