22 January 2009

they call it a play date

Tomorrow morning Oliver has a playdate at a private school. Except it feels more like an audition. I'll be in a nearby room, pretending to be calm but trying very hard not to throw up. I have been trying to convince myself for the last two months that it doesn't matter, and it was working pretty well until yesterday. I learned two things. A child in the recent past barfed all over said playdate and was admitted anyway. That was very calming. And then I found out about another child who was charming and smart, not unlike Oliver, who was not admitted. It was a quick trip down a slippery slope to hysteria. Due to its proximity to a girls' school, this school is pretty competitive for boys. And since they value diversity, charming and smart white boys can be over-represented in the applicant pool. Then there are the spots taken by younger siblings of current students. When the starting point is space for 16 students, my little panic attack doesn't seem nearly so irrational, except the part where I starting plotting ways to highlight the fact that Oliver is half South Asian.

Here's the part where I convince myself to go back to thinking it doesn't matter.

  • Oliver really is smart and charming. I have yet to find a teacher who didn't gush all over him.
  • We have a plan B and it's not bad.
  • We even have a plan C that's pretty good.
and most importantly,
  • I don't want to be part of a club that doesn't want my kids
There. I feel better. Maybe they will have the coffee spiked with just a little bit of xanax.

19 January 2009

the end of an error

Barack Obama was not my first choice for president. I never did drink the kool-aid, but I voted for him. After the convention I was set on staying home, for the first time since becoming old enough to vote. Then came Sarah Palin, sending me entirely over the edge in a matter of minutes. I still didn't fully support Obama but the republicans had given me something to vote against. That was good enough for me.

Now that the election is over and the inauguration is upon us, I am generally impressed by the way president-elect Obama has handled the transition. I'm not sure about the costs of the celebration that are not being paid by private funds, but I'll be watching a historic and positive moment in American history, no doubt about it.

I am a little worried about what is being placed on the shoulders this guy who is only a couple of years older than me. I don't see how he can live up to the astronomic expectations, despite his best efforts manage them. He has my sympathy in that regard.

You remember where you were when horrible things happen. Now we have an entirely different sort of moment to remember. And that's a good thing.

Dick Cheney in a wheelchair tomorrow is just a bonus.

18 January 2009

jump for joy

I'm expecting a similar reaction when I give him the news tomorrow morning, and tell him that his beloved Polamalu sealed the deal.

He watched the first half, putting him way past bed time. Tomorrow could be ugly. Too bad I'll be at work.

17 January 2009

some serious sucking up

Contrary to popular belief, I have some friends out there on the internets. A few of them have even met me in person. And they still talk to me! Incredible.

Jennifer is one such person. She cracks me up regularly and I secretly wish her daughter was a little younger, or my son a little older, so there might be playdates and weddings in our future. I covet a spot in her dinner group. Bigtime. So when she tagged me today for the sixes picture meme, I had to get on it right away. 

Here's the scoop on the meme:

Go to your picture files.
Go to your 6th folder.
Go to your 6th picture.
Tell us about it.
Tag 6 friends to do the same.

This photo was taken (not by me...hope that's okay, Charles! we miss you!) almost exactly three years ago, at a potluck dinner at Cyert Center, back when Oliver was about nine months old and hanging out in the Infant Wing. I think it captures the joy of fatherhood so well, better than I ever have. CD is an amazing dad and you can see his love for his son in this photo. 

Looking back, I am reminded of how easy it was when there was two of us and one kid. I didn't realize it at the time, and used my blog for plenty of whining about it, but we had it pretty easy then. I'm sure when this photo was taken I was in another part of the room, chatting with another mom or dad, and having a great time. Now that we have two kids to keep track of, catching even the briefest of chats happens rarely. There's a kid to chase, a nose to wipe, etc.

Seeing this photo again also brought back memories of the snowflake pants, one of my favorites from Oliver's infant wardrobe. I don't know what I would do without Hanna and her wiggle pants. Eleanor is still wearing the wiggle pants. Nothing fits a diaper-clad bum better.

The last bit of the meme is tagging six more people. Who's left that hasn't been tagged already? If you fall into that category, consider yourself tagged. Please come back and leave a link in the comments.

16 January 2009

not dead, dormant


Reports of my death have been slightly exaggerated. In fact, I'm back and ready to blog regularly again. I didn't realize how much Blog365 took out of me. I don't think of myself as a "real" writer. I just open up the Blogger window and spew. I don't agonize or even edit very much. (Yes, I know it shows. Thanks for mentioning it.) So the thought of burn-out didn't occur to me. If I'm not doing it for real, I couldn't possibly burn out. Blah Blah Blah

Anyway, I burned out. Feeling better now.

Part of why I am feeling better is that I have scratched and crawled my way back to the Weight Watchers wagon. I didn't stop paying them, and I didn't stop going to meetings entirely, but I did stop writing down everything I eat and for me, that's where it all ends. I hate doing it, but damn it if it doesn't work. On Wednesday, when I started journalling in earnest, I weighed 171.8 pounds. Yesterday I was 169.6. Today 168. That's 3.8 pounds in two days of being careful. Though I know it's mostly from drinking more water, I know it's also from not eating anything from the basket of cookies in front of me at a meeting too.

Twice I have lost about 25 pounds on WW, and both times I got pregnant at about that point. I have never been at goal, though I did get within 7 pounds once. It's really time to solve this problem, and it's not going to get any easier as I get older. Since I would like to live long enough to see my grandchildren this is something I can't let slide any longer.

I'm aiming for making 1-2 habit changes a week. This week, I will eat a good breakfast every day before I leave the house, and be in bed before midnight (with a trend towards being in bed by 10:30pm eventually). Next week I will focus on adding regular exercise. That tends to be my biggest problem and it will require a creative solution. My hunch is that solving the sleep problem will also solve the exercise problem. If I can get to bed at a reasonable hour, getting up to exercise before I shower should be easier. I already trained myself to get up before the kids so I can get a shower. I just need another half hour. Piece of cake. Or maybe tofu.

12 January 2009

kudos, and a few small requests

Dear USAirways,
A 50 minute delay in my flight does not entitle you to change the departure time on the monitors and still list it as "on time". 50 minutes is LATE, DELAYED, TARDY, and generally crappy of you.

Please also put some employees at your customer service desks in Philadelphia. Even one of the dudes who is supposed to be telling the pilot where to stop the plane at gate F34 but cannot let his coffee be interrupted would be a step up from nobody.

I am disappointed, again. Alas, not surprised.

Dear Radisson,
Get rid of your silly SleepNumber beds. They suck. A lot. Even when they work right they suck. Get some TempurPedics and I might stay with you again.

Also, when I call for Room Service I expect someone acquainted with food to answer the phone. If they spoke English that would be a bonus.

Dear Budget Rent a Car,
Thank you for not noticing the giant crack in the windshield of the cute little Outback you let me borrow for the weekend. You're a peach.

Dear Starbucks,
Build more stores near Valley Forge, PA. Parking at that monstrosity of a mall sucks. And the shop I finally found on DeKalb Pike is just BEGGING for a drive-thru window.

Dear Legal Sea Foods,
I love you. I love your clam chowder. I love your tuna sashimi, your shrimp cocktail, your steamed dumplings. I love your friendly service, and your bartender with both a sense of humor and a clue about wine. And I especially love that you found my iPhone and gave it back. I would like to hug you.

Dear American Spaniel Club,
Thank you for figuring out how to schedule your Flushing Spaniel show such that Best in Show is over around 4pm, instead of 10pm. Due to your brilliance, I was able to watch the Steelers short-circuit those silly Chargers. Watching the Golden Globes was also nice. I really appreciate it.

05 January 2009

re-entry roundup

After 12 days of togetherness, it was back to the real world for everyone in the family. Kids to their respective day cares, and the adults to their offices. Though we're going at 110% at my office to get ready for the semester to start next Monday, it was still a welcome change. I think all the daycare teachers were bracing for the worst but at the end of the day all reports were positive. Eleanor was fussy on the drive to fetch Oliver. I suspect she fought to hold it together while at school, then fell apart once she was with us. Overall, re-entry was a lot easier than I expected. Maybe keeping my expectations low is the best strategy.

During our time at home, thanks to both kids taking a post-lunch nap each day, we got a lot done. The clean-out is about 75% complete. The two rooms that remain are critical when the new windows arrive in a eleven days so we can't afford to lose momentum. We didn't get all the pictures we have to frame sorted but we did take one very important portrait for framing. I can't wait to get it back and hang the pair of them in the living room.

I am experiencing a few more problems with re-entry into blogging. My plan was to blog a little less, get the quality up, and have a little more time for reading and commenting on my favorite blogs. So far? Epic FAIL. I'm not even getting more sleep. I will be working on this in the coming days. Thank you to all the terrific bloggers who have continued to read and comment here, despite my appalling lack of reciprocity.

One year ago, we had a special guest in our house. When we "flunked fostering" he became a permanent resident. Bubba is doing pretty well for being a 13 year old Clumber.

Finally, my fingers may be writing checks my cooking skills can't cash. Uncle Crappy has challenged me to a crab cake cook-off. His original tweet was too damn irresistible. You can't throw something like that out there and not expect someone to respond. Should be interesting.

02 January 2009

the shrew is dead

Other than breakfast, meals around here haven't been a lot of fun. Since we've been home for the holiday break, and today would be day ten of this little adventure, dinners have gone from major bummers to some really serious unpleasantness. In general, it goes like this:

  • Ask Oliver what he would like for dinner
  • Make what he asks for
  • Fight over whether we are washing hands with soap and water or a baby wipe (his preference)
  • Listen to him say he doesn't want what I have made
  • Beg, cajole, threaten, and bribe him to eat
  • Listen to him scream
  • Listen to Eleanor scream in response
  • Listen to him bang the table
  • Listen to Eleanor bang her high chair
  • (repeat previous four steps)
  • (one more time, just for good measure)
  • More begging and cajoling and threatening

Last night it became abundantly clear that no one is enjoying this and that I am being a total shrew about it. I had to take a step, or maybe six, back. In my head, food is not a battleground. The reality is so different. I am talking the talk but not walking the walk, and Oliver is calling me on it.

Then we made a plan.

I told Oliver I will no longer comment on what he chose to eat from his plate or how much. If I make what he asks for and doesn't eat it, oh well. There will be another meal in the morning. I will comment on table behavior I find unacceptable, but the shouting of, "Eat Oliver!" and the counting to get him to eat were over. On those rare occasions when dessert is available he will still need to eat a good dinner and "earn" dessert, but I will only remind him once during the meal.

Dinner tonight was darn near delightful, by comparison to last night. There was a little shouting and banging, but not too much. He did make one quick trip to the quiet stair, but it was, for the most part, without drama. Eleanor continues to mimic him, and he continues to find it funny while I continue to find it incredibly frustrating, but I have to let it go. They are feeding off my anger and that doesn't solve the problem.

This is one of those times, and they happen at least once a week, when I want to send a plane ticket to Canada. I want Mary P to watch over my shoulder and set me straight. I am going to start paying more attention to breakfast and try to figure out what is different. My hunch it is because he usually eats by himself, with Eleanor eating later. If that's the case, there isn't much I can do. He has to learn to eat with his family and to behave appropriately at the table. And I need to learn to take a few deep breaths and think twice before unleashing the shrew.