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.