Friday, December 22, 2006

Sloppy Santa

This year we can get away with slacker Santa practices. Next year probably won’t be so forgiving. I have worked the past few months to store all presents out of Leif’s view. Leif is getting a number of GeoTrax additions for Christmas from Santa. AB and I decided to minimize the number of presents he had to open by setting these out for him unwrapped, when we open gifts. Therefore, unlike his other gifts, they were unwrapped and in a box in the guest room. (The gifts from mommy and daddy are wrapped, in a box in our closet.) This also jives with the practice when I was growing up, Santa never wrapped our presents.

This morning I was getting ready in the bathroom, Leif was watching Polar (Bear) Express for the 7329th time, or (once again) so I thought. AB had just gotten out of the shower. Suddenly Leif came running in squealing at the top of his lungs, “MOMMY LOOK!! A TRAIN!!” and in his hands he held one of the GeoTrax parts to be from Santa.

He was SO excited! I couldn’t help but be filled with joy at seeing the excitement in his eyes. Too bad it wasn’t when we PLANNED on doing our Christmas exchange. Thankfully Teddy Grahams still work as an effective distraction. The train is back in the guest room in the box it was being stored in awaiting Santa’s arrival this evening.

Travel update: We are flying into Denver tomorrow. The airport is open and we are checked in for our departure. Also I was relieved to see that the same flight we will be on tomorrow, has today left Seattle and is scheduled for an on time arrival in just a few minutes. Cautious optimism. At this point my biggest concern is with getting our rental car. We have reservations, however it is impossible to get guarantees and with people leaving the airport and driving instead of waiting for flights, I fear we could lose out on our car. But there are other options we can exercise if necessary! I am just really looking forward to finding myself at my mom’s house surrounded by snow with nowhere to go!

Reasons not to share

AB had suggested early on after I told him I wanted an iPod for Christmas that we buy one nice video one and share. I didn’t want to share. I wanted to be selfish and have my own. The main reason being that I didn’t want it left sitting on his desk or in his car all the time. And in fact, there has already been one night when he has asked to borrow mine since he left his at work.

And here is the other reason I wanted my own… I am sitting here listening to Prince. I don’t have to listen to any comments about the music I choose to put on MY iPod!! (Except now from you guys, since my secret is out.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Dog

(I got most of my Christmas cards out, some late, to most people. I didn’t include my Christmas letter to most of those people who read my blog as it would be horribly redundant on what we did this last year and the news of our upcoming new arrival. But I thought I would post it here, mostly for posterity sake. Enjoy.)

Yes, it is me again, the Carman dog, Winny. You will notice that last year’s Christmas letter was missing. Apparently even my youngest (so called) master was too busy and so this year it falls back again to me, the family dog, to get the letter out. They think all I do is lay around all day and beg for walks at night, truth be told I have a lot more going then “they” think.

The latest: “NM” continues her job at XXXX as a scientist. “AB” has just started a new position with the XXX Group working as a project manager and in business development for this analytical chemistry group. And the up and coming Master Leif (who thinks he is my full master already) has been busy enjoying his days at his Montessori daycare where they evidently fill his day with lessons on “how to boss the dog around”.

Truth be told, the only interesting being in this house (outside of myself, of course) would be Leif. He turned two years old at the end of July and has embraced everything about being a toddler. Honestly, I don’t know why the term “toddler” is even appropriate, there is no toddling about… he full out runs and has a belief deep within his being that the next step is flying. And not just flying on the airplane to go to Colorado for Christmas either.

Masters AB and NM continue to marvel at the way this bossy little creature learns. (Yawn) There is much song singing, reciting something called the A,B,C’s and counting with some strange emphasis on the numbers 5 and 9, because they were evidently left out of Master Leif’s vocabulary. Leif loves swimming and wishes everyday was “swimming day”. Following swimming, tumbling comes in at a very close second on the list of favorite activities. He has just started music class and specializes in playing a drum (Master NM fears this may only encourage ambitions as a rock star, Master AB hopes rhythm is learned and not inherited, as for me, my ears just plain hurt).

I probably should not neglect one small piece of family information. Master NM’s tummy is growing large again and I fear the impending doom as another small Master enters the house next March and will likely take to ordering me around in just a matter of time.

(There I am done! Can we go for a walk NOW????)

On Writing

Something my dad said in an e-mail got me thinking. He said that if I ever decided to give up life as a scientist I should go into writing. I enjoy writing, I enjoy the process, the editing, the creating. My grammar could use help most days. And I thank goodness for the spell checker. But nonetheless, I love doing it. I have never known if it is one of those things that I would love as a profession, or grow to despise doing and resent turning a hobby into a job. I guess lucky for me, I have plenty of opportunities to write in my current position, it is just boring technical writing.

I went through a phase in junior high. You know that phase, the one where boys suddenly exist and it is no longer cool to be the smart one? I asked my dad for a typewriter for Christmas, much to my step-brothers horror… why would anyone ask for a typewriter instead of some cool toy? I got it and pounded out story after story on that thing for a few years in the name of preparing for my life as a writer. I still have the typewriter and every time AB suggests it hit the dumpster I come up with excuses along the lines of “you never know when you might need to type something up that you can’t use a computer for”. That excuse is soon becoming the relic that my typewriter is. I am not sure I can even get replacement ribbon for it anymore.

That typewriter was going to make me into a famous author one day! I had dreams of writing novels that would make the best seller lists. That dream faded, but not completely. I still think how cool it would be to be a novelist. Particularly as I sit at my desk and daydream about how cool any other job in the world would be then the one I have.

Unlike many of my counterparts in science, one of the most enjoyable parts of graduate school was writing my dissertation. It took a lot of focus, but I really did enjoy it. I still look longingly at the occasional ad in my Chemical and Engineering News that seek professional, full time scientific editors/writers for large journals. If telecommuting ever became a mainstay for that type of position (since moving my Alaskan husband to a large metro area like New York is out of the question) I would be hard pressed not to take the leap.

Time… that is what I am lacking. Ambition… I have an overabundance.

A White Christmas!

Colorado is socked in by a blizzard! I have seen estimates ranging from 1-3 feet of snow in Northern Colorado today and tomorrow. Wheee! I can exclaim being that we travel on Saturday, and not today, and hopefully all the passengers who are now stranded at or waiting to get into DIA will be gone by Saturday.

Of course nothing is guaranteed weather-wise in Colorado. But it is supposed to stay cold through Christmas day according to the forecast. We get wimpy snowfalls here, when we get snow at all. (Although right now we have a “severe weather alert” for tomorrow morning saying we may get up to 2” of snow!) Leif hasn’t seen much snow in his life. At least compared to what I grew up with. Seeing a few inches around here and then snow in Alaska last Christmas just isn’t enough for a toddler. I am thrilled that there will potentially be feet of snow for him to play in.

I have had e-mails and plenty of people stopping by my office to talk about the storm that is making headlines knowing that we are headed there in a few days.

I ran out for lunch today and since I live in constant fear of my son starving to death I added a few Satsumas to my bag (I didn’t have enough “healthy” options before) and also bought a package of Handi-Snaks. The pretzel and plastic cheese ones. These lately have proven to grab his attention since he can “dip it”. I now have enough snacks for the plane ride to feed the entire cabin.

This morning AB announced to me that he is ready for us to get out of here for a little while. Whew. Happy to hear him say this. He finished the book he was reading and was so concerned with not having something to read while in Colorado that he asked me to order the next book in the series and have it shipped to my mom’s. And all I could do was sit and say, “ok honey” and think about the four “perfect” books I bought for him for Christmas and that will be under the tree in a few days.

It seems as though most everyone I work with is sneaking out of here starting tomorrow. With every passing day our parking lot gets emptier and emptier. I made my way over and talked to my Co-PI on my big project a little while ago. Our project manager met with our DC sponsor the other day and has some additional requests for our project. We needed to discuss those and dole them out appropriately. I also figured it was time I tell him I am pregnant and let him know when I plan to be out this spring. He is kind of oblivious… Frankly, most single 50-some year old scientists are a little oblivious about the women they work with.

My goal in the next few days is to continue my daily laundry ritual. Between Leif and I, there are neverending stacks of clothes to be washed for the trip. I just have very few clothes (compared to my normal wardrobe) and between Leif’s occasional accidents and the fact that he just likes to use his entire body to paint with at daycare, laundry is going every night. I have been packing some every night and hope to have packing pretty much done come Thursday night, since Friday night we are celebrating our Christmas at home.

Tonight our house/dog sitter is stopping by to get the key and her instructions. Tomorrow I am taking my former student out for lunch to celebrate her getting and accepting her first formal job offer. She will be in North Carolina working as a biostatistician. She is home visiting family right now.

The days are growing very short as the solstice arrives. Sunrise today was at 7:37am and sunset is at 4:13pm. It is hard going home in the pitch black at 5pm. I love the winter but I do miss those long days where the sunlight never seems to fade. Heading to Colorado will buy us back a few minutes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

One hectic weekend preparing for two hectic weeks

We had a really good weekend. I was particularly thrilled because AB was done with classes for the semester and that meant I had another set of hands in wrangling Leif, getting him into the bathtub (and then out of the bathtub) and in putting him down to bed at night. I am so, so proud of him for working towards his Masters in Engineering, but wow will I be happy when he finishes this spring!

We were lazy Saturday morning and spent some time on the webcam with my Dad. We ran out to pick up a Christmas gift for my stepfather. He was the one person (aside from me) that AB was responsible for buying for. I can never come up with good ideas for him, my mom never has ideas for him and so when AB offered to buy for him I didn’t question it once. And he only needed a little help. My stepfather is now AB’s responsibility when it comes to gifts.

Saturday after Leif got up from nap we ran to the grocery store to get a few things that I wanted for meals this week and some more snacks for Leif to have on the plane. Maybe I can no longer laugh/whine about my MIL trying to stuff my husband with food… as a mom, it comes naturally with your sons. A deep set fear that your son will waste away to nothingness. We have individual packets of Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, yogurt covered raisins, chocolate for bribery… or I mean “rewarding positive behavior”. I will buy juice once past security. And Leif should be set for food on our 3 hours of flights. (1 hour to Seattle, 1.5 hour layover in SeaTac and 2 hours to Denver).

We had king crab legs for dinner Saturday night that were to die for. We like crab. But king crab this time of year is just amazing stuff – and a remarkably inexpensive price. When I was a kid I was horribly picky, but usually wanted to try weird stuff. Heaven forbid I try any normal stuff. My parents liked crab and so I think it backfired on them when I tried it and liked it. I am sure they expected I wouldn’t. I bought two king crab legs the other day at $9.99/lb. And they looked fabulous. I told AB I bought them and his response was “you only got two legs?” AB is the “meat” buyer in the family. I have pretty much given up buying any and all meat and fish since what I pick out is never right. But you can’t go wrong with king crab this time of year.

Saturday night dinner and AB was unable to finish his one leg. I joked about his “you only got two legs” comment the previous day. Leif is showing signs of maybe liking crab. He liked it when I handed it to him, but didn’t like it when AB handed it to him. Give it time… I am sure he will become as big of a crab fiend as AB and I are. And then maybe we won’t have leftovers from two crab legs.

That night AB and I settled down in front of “You, Me and Dupree” for a few good laughs... before I fell asleep on the couch midway through.

Sunday morning we got up and took Leif swimming. He was so excited to go and see C since they had been in San Francisco for the previous week. When we were waiting to go in, it was obvious that they had missed each other. There was much squealing, hugs, kisses and silliness. They had a great time swimming and we headed to IHOP, where our morning took a nosedive. The pumpkin pancakes tasted fantastic, how could they not after we had stood/sat in the place for an hour. At least it was an easy nap transition as Leif was out in the car within 3 minutes of getting in his carseat. We scrapped the idea of the gift exchange, put it off till the afternoon and went home. I sat down with a huge stack of gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows and the last half of the movie from the night before. AB ran off to do “some shopping”.

We had a quiet Sunday evening with dinner and then decorating Christmas sugar cookies. I do have one story about that to illustrate my concern about my son’s mental state.

My 2.5 year old is a little compulsive about cleaning. His teacher routinely jokes about this compulsion and says that she wants to see what kind of dorm room/apartment he has when he is her age. My response is that he will be in therapy saying “my parent’s house, it was a pit and I was forced to clean since I was two years old!” He is a little overboard compared to the rest of the class with his compulsion. It scares me.

We were decorating cookies and Leif dropped the shaker of red sprinkles. There were red sugar crystals on the floor, mind you, not a ton, just a circle of them. Leif jumped down saying, “uh ho, messy!” He ran to the utility room and DRAGGED the vacuum cleaner to the kitchen. I told him we would clean it after decorating cookies. No dice. He wanted it cleaned up NOW. Ok, we plugged in the vacuum cleaner and I attached the wand for him to clean. AB didn’t mind the noise then since it was coincidentally the same time that “Please Daddy Don’t get Drunk This Christmas” came on.

When Leif was done with the sugar crystals (and vacuuming up his dinner mess he discovered down there), I reached over and shut off the vacuum. “Nooooo!” He squealed. “Floor more messy.” As he pointed under the cupboard lips and under the bakers rack. The frosting was starting to harden.

So while Leif vacuumed the entire kitchen and dining room floor, AB and I went over and decorated cookies. Leif was happy as a clam. Finally he admitted he was done and agreed to letting me put the vacuum cleaner away. I have a clean floor now thanks to my 2.5 year old. And I am sure there will be some therapy session at some point where my son will have a repressed memory about vacuuming the floor while mommy and daddy frosted and decorated cookies. Sigh.

Friday, December 15, 2006


19.5 years ago my mom took a job as an admin for a small toxicology research lab. She became the office manager, then the QA manager, took over the accounting, and finally the lab manager for a the growing lab, a pretty good sized small business in Northern Colorado.

Today she finalized the paperwork for the purchase of this business from the chief toxicologist who started the lab.

I am just so proud of her. I don't think my mom ever saw herself as the owner of her own business, let alone the owner of a prospering lab with both government contracts and contracts with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry.

She has her head on straight with it, knows the company inside and out and I have no doubt she will excel and prosper in this position.

Congratulations mom! You deserve it and you make me proud!

The Concept of Time

As adults we don’t think much about the concept of time. For us, it just flies. I remember as a child, how the time would drag along. Having two weeks off over the holidays was a TON of time. The summers were never ending and it took forever for Christmas to arrive. Now there isn’t time for anything.

I realized this morning that I have no idea when kids learn the concept of time. That not everything is instantaneous, and that there is a difference between a day and a week. I learned this after hearing much sobbing when we pulled into the daycare parking lot.

Literally, the turn into the lot and there was sobbing like Leif suddenly had the most hurt feelings in the entire world. I hurried to park the car and get back to him to see what triggered this. He didn’t want to get out of the car and go into daycare. Immediately thoughts of “what happened yesterday and who did this to him” entered my mind. After a few minutes I get him calmed down enough to tell me.

“I (sob sob sob) go airplane (sob sob sob) see grandma and bompa (sob sob sob).”

My heart broke for him. AB and I have been talking the past few days about how we are going to go on the airplane to see grandma and grandpa for Christmas next week. Never did I think about the fact that “next week” means nothing to Leif. Somehow he became convinced that today was the day we were going to go get on the airplane to go see grandma and grandpa.

His two teachers and his former teacher from last year all talked to him about the fun things they were going to do today, music class, movie day, etc. Luckily he was the first one to arrive and they could take this time with him. After much reassuring he gave me a kiss and hug goodbye and went off to help make snack.

I got in the car and called AB. New tactic with regards to vacation… we don’t say a word about airplanes until next Saturday morning.

Christmas Music

Much to my happiness, Leif is ultra-excited this year about Christmas music. This morning as we drove into work, I flipped my XM radio between the five available Christmas music stations. I came across Perry Como’s version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” and Leif was stoked. I smiled as he squealed at the top of his lungs “PEAR TREE!” while mumbling along to the rest of the lyrics. He hit the main points, “turtle doves”, “rings”, etc. At the end he yelled with a huge smile on his face, “good song mommy!”

This just filled my heart. Every night we have been singing the Twelve Days of Christmas before bed, Leif likes it and the repetitive nature (while rocking) seems to calm him some. Plus for the first time in my life I have someone looking at me and telling me he likes my singing!

My two favorite Christmas recordings go back to when I was a kid. John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together (which I swear there was a Muppet Show that went along with this, but I can’t find it on DVD, the Muppet Family Christmas is not the one I am referring to) and John Denver’s Christmas. Yes, I admit it, I am a John Denver fan. Growing up in the Rocky Mountain States that is just a requirement. Laugh if you must.

The Muppets Christmas is still the coolest Christmas cd ever. Gotta love the little things…

We Wish You A Merry Christmas…

Gonzo: Now bring us a figgy pudding.
Gonzo: No, figgy pudding, it’s made with figs.
Miss Piggy: Oh OK. Sorry.
Gonzo: And bacon.
Miss Piggy: What?

And John Denver’s Christmas cd contains my single favorite non-traditional Christmas song of all times, Christmas for Cowboys. It is funny that I like this song since I have always had a serious aversion to anything cowboy related. But this is the vision of Christmas I can relate to in my heart, not the big city Christmas. Second to this song is Aspenglow on the same cd. The last few Christmases where we have been in Alaska have been especially dear to my heart as we have spent Christmas eve and day (and a few days after usually) at my in laws cabin about 1.5 hours outside of Anchorage. Remote, quiet with lots of snow. Aspenglow is my theme song there.

My favorite traditional Christmas song is Silent Night. This is traditionally played at Christmas Eve services and sung during candlelight services. It is a magical experience to me, to be gathered in a church, holding a candle and singing this song. My biggest problem is making sure my tears don’t hit the flame on my candle and put it out. We haven’t attended a candlelight service in a few years now mostly because of Leif. The candlelit services are usually later in the evening and we try to hit the earlier ones so he can be home and in bed at a reasonable time. But this day will come again soon. I do have to say though, this morning on my drive into work I heard the worst rendition of Silent Night. It was by Stevie Nicks. She is an odd duck, but I like her music for the most part. It was the most flat, boring, monotone singing of this song I have ever heard.

My single favorite version of a song is Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLaughlin singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. This song on its own doesn’t normally rank even in my list of favorite Christmas songs, but this version I just want to crank it and dance around my living room. Who am I kidding? Just ask Leif, we do crank it and dance around our living room.

I also have a few offbeat Christmas songs that I enjoy. The one that kills AB, and not in a happy, funny way, is John Denver’s “Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas”. I grew up laughing and singing this song. From the first time AB heard it, he was horribly appalled. Ok, so I can see why. It is a pretty sad song, I admit it. But it is also dark and humorous in a twisted way. When I play the cd at home, it is flat out guaranteed my husband will silently get up, walk over to the cd player and fast forward it within seconds of it coming on.

AB likes Christmas music. But he doesn’t love it the way I do. He has grown used to the Muppets and John Denver (save for the one unmentionable song), and he likes the Barenaked Ladies Holiday cd (there are Hanukkah songs on it), but his preference is for classical Christmas music. It is our compromise in my car since he could care less hearing Wham sing “Last Christmas” or Madonna sing "Santa Baby" on Holly. Ok, so could I. He used to have a rule that the Christmas music couldn’t come on until the day after Thanksgiving and goes away the day after Christmas. I did inform him recently though that carrying, laboring and birthing his child (soon children) has earned me a little bit of a grace period with the Christmas music. Really, how else could he really respond?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Merry Christmas, from your government

Continuing resolution status… new deadline February 15th or September 30th. Why can’t we just tell our congress people that they have a job to do, at a deadline and you can’t leave until it is done? At lunch today there were tales of “the old days” when our congressmen worked hard to meet their deadline, because the air conditioning went off on a certain day and no one wanted to be in DC without air conditioning. Let’s turn off their heat right now.

Best case scenario for those of us depending on new or more money this year is the Feb 15th deadline right now. Although I particularly like this line of bullshit:

“They are considering declaring continuing resolution for the entire year and just starting work on the 2008 budget.” (Hence the September 30th deadline.)

Yes, let’s just declare that 2007 will not happen. It is the end of 2006 and 2007 is just a wash. I could go into a tirade about appropriations committees, new leads taking over committees, Omnibus bills, etc. I got a whole e-mail about it. Who knew that getting a degree in science would require that I learn political science? I sure didn’t, but I know a whole hell of a lot more about it now!

Here is what it comes down to right now. There are people who are pending funds, who are hundreds of hours behind in their chargeable hours goals and if this does not change by sending the additional money that was promised in the budget for 2007, there will be layoffs. Simply saying “well we have new leads taking over committees and so they don’t really have time to get up to speed so let’s just ignore it” is just plain unacceptable and irresponsible. If you weren’t up to speed on the appropriations for your committee you should not be the new lead.

I voted for a Democrat senator this last time around and so I had a hand in this too. I believe that change needed to be made. But damn it, quit making me regret my decision!

Signed, one of the much sought after swing voters.

13 days and counting

I can’t believe that in a week and a half we will be hopping on a plane and going to Colorado for the holidays. The madness has already started on both sides of the family and in record time we are already saying, “next year we are staying home”. Usually that statement doesn’t make its appearance until having been somewhere for a few days. Nothing is a surprise, all the issues are minor, and when it comes down to it, I look forward to spending time with and seeing our families. It’s just all the baggage that rides along with the visit.

I am very nearly done with all of our Christmas shopping. AB has to pick a few things up, we need to come to a decision with family members on a joint gift and there are a few little regional type gifts I want to get to take with us. I need to wrap and package up a couple boxes to ship and get those in the mail.

On Saturday we took Leif to see Santa Claus with our friends and their daughter. They both seemed excited to see Santa from a distance. Leif was pretty wound up, whether it was just from being at the mall or from seeing Santa, I don’t know. When C sat on Santa’s lap we were struggling to keep Leif back and not charging C and Santa. Then C climbed off Santa’s lap and it was Leif’s turn. Things changed quickly when he was within 5 feet of Santa. Suddenly he was shy and a little scared. His picture is one of the very few I have of Leif NOT smiling! It is a cute picture, but there wasn’t anyway he was going to crack a smile. Santa was great, real beard, friendly, kind and took some time with each kid. I hope Leif was listening well when Santa told him to go to bed early on Christmas Eve!

Sunday I was a slug all day, in fact, I didn’t even take a shower until mid-afternoon when Leif had a poopy blow-out of epic proportions and instead of running us out of tp and wipes, he got to shower with me instead. (Which was real pleasant for me…) What really threw our Sunday off was Leif’s adamant refusal to nap. He may not need a nap daily, but I need him to nap! I suppose not too surprisingly this meant that he was asleep in bed at 8pm and slept in until after 7am. So maybe there is a light at the end of naptime, but it is dim, very, very dim. This “no nap” thing is going to be short lived, I assure you.

Leif has said some funny things lately. He still chooses to call AB by name on occasion. Usually after getting out of the bath in the evening he yells for him. On the flip side, apparently AB doesn’t use my name regularly to call me. Because Leif has picked up calling me “sweety” and “honey”. The other day at daycare I just about died when he told me “bye bye sweety!”

And I am not sure I should admit to this one… but Leif was putting the broom away the other day, saw the vacuum and said, “daddy’s vacuum”. It is just another vacuum joke AB has added to the repertoire. The first being a story about how about 6 months after buying a new vacuum I had to ask him how to turn it on.

I am struggling with books right now. I want to read a really good book. Actually, I am reading a good book, Persepolis 2, but that will be finished in another day or so and I am not counting it. I have a stack of books next to my bed that I haven’t read yet, including my January book club book, Snow. I have picked up nearly every single one and put it back down again. Nothing is striking me. I want to read a really good book, kind of like I want to watch a really good movie. I don’t know how long it has been since I have rented a movie I can honestly say, “this is really good”. For AB it goes back to Return of the King. I am sure there has to be something that we have seen since then. (You can probably assume that “Lonesome Jim”, the movie we rented this weekend, was NOT of this caliber and what spawned this discussion. I am tired of movie drivel.) Recommendations?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Things I never thought I would do/say:

"Would you like to watch me go potty and then you can go too?"

Turn up Daryl Hall and John Oates singing "Jingle Bell Rock".

Read a book about poop, with enthusiasm.

Send my son into daycare carrying his breakfast, in a Starbucks bag, neatly packed by Starbucks.

"Yes, maybe a minivan is a good option."

Buy shoes from Lands End.

To my stylist, "I don't care as long as I can pull it into a ponytail".

"Yes, I would like help to my car with my groceries."

Wear yoga pants to work and be completely fine with how I look.

"But you had macaroni and cheese for lunch, are you sure you want it for dinner too?" And secretly be excited.

Be worried that the daycare teacher actually believes Leif when he says, "I eat chocolate lots at home".

Rewind a commercial five times. I bought Tivo so I wouldn't have to watch commercials. (Leif's favorite thing on TV right now is the Pampers commercial with Silent Night playing.)

Have Sesame Street ornaments on my Christmas tree. And all on one branch.

Have no clue whatsoever to get a teenager for Christmas, consult their guest list, and then declare that I will not buy any of that crap for them.

"No, Kurt Cobain only died a couple years ago, I remember I was a senior in college." (I was a senior in college in 93-94.)

Moving Along

While continuing resolution has not ended as “scheduled” today (new talk is “well into January”), things have picked up a little, making me an extremely happy person. It has been a rough two months in this field. One that has, more than usual, caused me to question whether this is really where I want to be. The verdict is still out on that, but my inclination to do something else isn’t based any longer on pure boredom and lack of interesting projects. What is truly frightening is hearing stories at our last directorate meeting a few days ago about people who are in really bad positions, used up their vacation time and have flexed “hundreds” of hours. In a normal company, that screams layoffs, but it hasn’t happened because it is “that time of year” (not Christmas, I don’t work for that great of a company. Continuing resolution). Instead all our projects will likely pay, literally, next year. It was rumored to be a bad year fiscally, but the rumors were confirmed by our ALD the other day. Expect a bad year and help your coworkers find work, he said. However, we are still expected to grow our business volume in the directorate by another $7 million. Go figure.

Let’s see if I can help that out some. Next week is going to be a busy week as Friday the call for proposals from one of our bread and butter clients is coming out. I have a number of meetings scheduled to discuss potential proposals. And luckily, this client allows us to charge business development for them on our existing projects. Phew, funded time to develop proposals. A welcome rarity.

I picked up some work this past week doing some computational modeling for one of the senior staff scientists here. I really enjoy doing computational modeling, but rarely have the real opportunity. Mostly because there is a group here devoted to and specializing in computational modeling, and I am not part of that group. So getting the work can be a challenge. I had a second chat with a relatively new strategic hire yesterday that is fairly sure he is close to landing his first grant since arriving. He came by to “make sure” if it comes through, that I will be available to do his modeling and stated that he wrote into the budget a new computer devoted to modeling for me so that I am not relegated to working on my laptop when simulations are running, and my favorite software. Yippee!

I also had a recent and extensive e-mail exchange with a staff scientist. I was honored that when he needed some advice on a topic, he came to me. I provided my advice to him. He e-mailed me back saying that my recommendations were where his inclinations lay, but he needed concrete proof. The thought of my three to five paragraphs as being concrete proof to a scientist five who was reviewing a proposal and basing his thumbs up or down on this proof freaked me out some. Where is my self confidence that I left graduate school with? (Oh and the poor saps who wrote this lame proposal will be receiving a thumbs down… do a little research people, the individuals reviewing your proposal do theirs!)

So all in all, things are looking up this coming year for me here at work. It isn’t nearly as bleak as I feared a matter of weeks ago. I still have issues and fully expect 2007 to be full of changes on the work front, the level of the changes is the only variable.

Feeling Groovy, a tale of two music teachers

Upfront warning, this post has the potential to be a very un-Christmaslike post. If you are one of those people that thinks everything this time of year should be in the holiday spirit with kindness, go ahead and hit the “Next Blog” button up top.

Still with me? Leif has two favorite songs right now, Jingle Bells and Feeling Groovy. I am pretty sure the kids will be singing Jingle Bells, with bells for their holiday school party. I can’t wait. (Leif’s version of Jingle Bells goes something like this… “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, HEY!” repeat) Feeling Groovy is a kind of weird addition, but after playing a Simon and Garfunkel compilation, the song stuck on him. Now you put on any Simon and Garfunkel cd and you will be graced with squeals for “Groovy song!”

Both of these songs conjure up childhood memories for me. The first one, Jingle Bells, goes back to when I was in kindergarten. I had started piano lessons earlier that summer. My kindergarten teacher knew I was in piano lessons and asked me if I would like to play a song in the annual Christmas pageant. I jumped at the chance to perform. My mom talked with my piano teacher, Mrs. Connoly, who I remember balking a little about how this would usurp her lesson plan. I quite possibly might not be ready to “properly” play Jingle Bells in time for the pageant. But she agreed to teach it to me, reluctantly. She was a crotchety sort, but I did like and respect her.

The day of the pageant arrived and in my tote bag I carried my show and tell item, a Frosty the Snowman snowglobe and my primer piano book that held my music to Jingle Bells. I decided to go down the slide that day after arriving at school. I climbed the long ladder, got to the top and my tote bag fell out of my hand. Crash. I was devastated. Not only was my snowglobe broken, but my sheet music was sopping wet. I went in crying to my kindergarten teacher who assured me that my music would dry by the time of the pageant and that I could tell everyone about my snowglobe at show and tell. Still I cried and cried. My eyes were so red for the pageant.

The pageant time came, sure enough my sheet music was dry. I walked up to the piano, sat down and played Jingle Bells. Awww, the end. (Of the nice, happy holiday story part of this entry.)

The flip side of the story is Feeling Groovy. If Mrs. Connoly was my nice music teacher, Mrs. Peacock was her antithesis. Mrs. Peacock was my elementary school music teacher and the single person in the world that I can truly say I despise still to this date. There are very few people, if any, other than Mrs. Peacock, that if I ever happened to come face to face with I would likely tell her exactly how I felt about her. She was an awful, miserable person. She was small and mousey with brown, straight bobbed hair. She was never happy. I wouldn’t say that Mrs. Connoly was an overly happy person either, but it was different. She was a prime and proper French woman who instilled respect naturally.

Mrs. Peacock was a young woman. My guess when I was in 1st grade was that she was in her late 20’s. I could fill this blog with stories of Mrs. Peacock from every single year of my elementary school existence. My mom, who was always either my sister’s or my room mother, knew her through the school. She laughs now to hear my sister and I speak of her with such extreme rage. She knew Mrs. Peacock wasn’t liked and used to comment about hearing her scream in the classrooms at the kids, but said she never knew it was *that* bad. It was. Music class was not fun. For our annual play productions she always picked the popular kids over and over to play the lead speaking positions. Every year I tried out with hope and belief in my heart I would be selected for a speaking part and never once secured one. It was a popularity contest with her and I am sure my speech impediments didn’t help my case. But I do remember truly wanting a major part of a play. I was often some animal in the background who might get to dance or flutter across the stage, and *never* had a sanctioned costume.

When I was in first grade Mrs. Peacock came in and said we were being prepared for our spring concert where the first, second and third graders all got together in the auditorium and sang to the rest of the school during the day and then at night with the parents watching. This was a huge deal every year. I was introduced to the song Feeling Groovy when it was on our list of songs we would be learning. Most of the songs were songs we, as kids, knew and enjoyed singing. There were murmurs about “why are we singing this weird song” in reference to Feeling Groovy. I remember Mrs. Peacock telling us we were singing it because our parents would just light up when they hear their kids singing one of their favorite songs. She beamed. We sang the song at the concert and I remember looking out and looking for any parents beaming at their favorite song being played. (I knew it wasn’t my parent’s favorite song… my mom was listening to Donna Summers and Saturday Night Fever and my dad was listening to the Rolling Stones and The Cars.) I didn’t see it. She lied to us I told myself. I asked my parents that night if it was their favorite song and they said no, but it was a nice song to sing.

I like the 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy). I really do. But when it plays, I am plagued by memories of Mrs. Peacock.

Because I can’t let this post die without portraying exactly how awful this woman was, here is one anecdote and then I will stop there.

One day in 2nd grade, I was in music class and she was talking. I put a Kleenex (it was unused) in my mouth and was swinging my head around making the Kleenex fly around my head, making my friends around me laugh. I remember her devil eyes seeing me, squinting and seething and shooting me with laser beams. Yes, I knew I was doing something I probably shouldn’t be doing and I should be paying attention to her (truly it was unlike me, I didn’t normally make waves in class). What followed then was a scream from the top of her lungs, my name. I looked at her and removed the Kleenex from my mouth. “Do you know how so disgusting you are? You put that nasty Kleenex in your mouth and think it is cute. You sicken me,” she bellowed. She could have stopped there, but she didn’t. She added onto the end, “Knowing your mom I am sure she just allows you to be a disgusting little child and do things like this all the time, but I do NOT in my classroom.” I was heartbroken, she was talking about my mom. I could deal with her yelling at me, but criticizing my mom as a parent crushed me and ruined elementary school music for me from that point forward. My classmates all stared at me with their jaws dropped. Did they agree with her? Did they think I was a disgusting person? The tears welled up in my eyes, but I refused to let them flow. I also refused to sing the rest of the day, week, month and after that very rarely did I open my mouth in music class. I may have opened my mouth (usually when picked out of the crowd as “not singing!”) But she could not force any noise to come out.

Thank goodness for Mrs. Connoly... who countered some of the peacock's nastiness and therefore my love of music wasn't completely scarred.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My new nephew

I am posting these pictures here so that hopefully my MIL can see them as she is having trouble with her e-mail receiving pictures. Since these are not my pictures, and my blog is open to the public, they could come down in reasonably short order. (But isn't he so darn cute??)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dear Leif

Dear Leif,

Christmas is approaching and we love watching you get excited by these new experiences. We decorated the Christmas tree the other day and I couldn’t tell if it was wonderment and amazement or you were just purely convinced we were nutcases to decorate a tree in the house. At first you helped with gusto and decorated two branches, each with 4 ornaments. Mommy is doing really good at resisting her Martha Stewart side to distribute the ornaments evenly across the lower half of the tree. You tired of this activity quickly until daddy pulled out the ladder to put the star on the top, then you were determined to help again!

Halloween is now over and we haven’t trick or treated in over a month now. Halloween and Christmas really are very different holidays since we thankfully don’t live in Tim Burton’s world. Really and truly, bulbs we have put on our Christmas tree have nothing to do with pumpkins. They aren’t even orange. Calling them “moons” is a little more acceptable. You are really loving the Advent calendar right now and adding a piece each night is really very exciting to you. Stopping at one piece is, however, nearly impossible.

We rented The Polar Express last week and it won’t be going back anytime soon. At least until we get it recorded off the TV and onto the computer and burned to DVD. (Blame daddy for the commercials, mommy just wanted to buy it.) You call it “Polar Bear Express” and ask for it routinely. The hot chocolate scene is really amazing and I do see the hint of disappointment in your eyes when mommy doesn’t tumble across the floor to delivery your hot chocolate to you. Although there was a day…

Little things everyday continue to amaze me. I had thought when you were younger that you had inherited my extreme picky nature regarding food that very nearly dominated my life as a kid. I don’t know if it is the vastly different attitude that we have opted to take regarding you and food as compared to how my parents approached food with me or if you truly just did inherit daddy’s “garbage disposal” tendencies, but wow what an eater you have become. When Grandma visited in September she marveled at the things you ate… and mommy beamed to get the compliment. (Hey, I take them where I can get them!)

Your favorite thing to eat right now is grapefruit. Like mommy, you would eat it at every meal if you could. Who can blame you? I can’t. They are fantastic this time of year. However, this obsession is proving to be a little un-kidlike. On Sunday you helped me enthusiastically make cinnamon muffins. After they got out of the oven I put one in front of you at the table. You looked at it and asked for a grapefruit. After eating the half of a grapefruit you got up and left your cinnamon muffin sitting there untouched. Oh don’t worry, it is gone… mommy ate it. Last night the vast majority of your dinner was steamed broccoli. You called them trees and ate all the tops off leaving the little stumps. Also leaving your steak, potato and macaroni and cheese untouched. I am not complaining in the least! I am just a little surprised is all. Today you squealed with delight to see that you had leftover trees in your lunch!

One of your favorite games to play lately (thanks to daddy) is “shark attack”. Nice, huh? Blame daddy when you have a fear of sharks someday. You have a stuffed hammerhead shark that you like to chase us around the house with screaming “shark attack”! Once again… thank you daddy.

You are increasingly curious about mommy’s growing belly and have started to comment on it pretty regularly. Usually while we are reading stories each night before bed as my lap gets smaller and smaller by the week. I am pretty sure you haven’t any real idea why my belly is getting bigger even though you do acknowledge the fact that there is a baby in there. I do want to assure you however, that despite the fact that other parts of mommy’s body are getting bigger along with my belly, it doesn’t need to be acknowledged (particularly in public, like at Taco Bell on Saturday) and there are most certainly not other babies growing in these other parts.

Your potty training was coming along nicely… until Sunday. You had three days with only one potty accident during this time. (We won’t talk about the poopy issue. New toy, new toy, new toy…) Then came Sunday. Nuff said.

One of your favorite things to do is still reading. You insist on doing a lot of the reading and are proving to be a very “skilled reader”! Your favorite books to read aloud are the Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Panda Bear, Panda Bear books. You have just started really enjoying books that are longer and more involved than most of your board books. Although Tails still reigns supreme. (Mommy will pull it out of its hiding place again really soon, I promise.) “In The Night Kitchen” is a favorite, which you call “the Mickey book”. Mommy hopes that means you will foster a love for cooking as your grow. But right at this moment, “How the Grinch stole Christmas” is number one. Dr. Seuss books aren’t always the easiest to read, and some are quite long. (Or maybe I am just being introduced to the world of non-board books.) But after a week of practice, mommy nearly has it perfected AND in the perfect Boris Karloff voice. Give me another week and I will have it memorized.

You are such an amazing little boy Leif! Mommy and daddy are really looking forward to Christmas this year with you.

Love, Mommy

Slacker or pregnancy brain?

I am normally really not a slacker. So I don’t know what is with me lately. Pregnancy brain? I had two bills I forgot to pay mid-month. I never forget them. Then this next one puts me on Santa’s bad list… The other day, two admin from my former group (the group I was in TWO years ago) stopped by my office and dropped off a card for someone named Ken.

Ok, first off, can I just say I hate this tradition of card passing. When I had my son, I didn’t get a card with everyone in the groups signatures (despite the fact I had always signed everyone else’s cards AND always pitched in $5 or so for a gift card for births and weddings). But that is water under the bridge and something I am only an eensy tiny bit bitter about. I just think the whole organized card activity takes up a lot of time and sets a bad precedence for when something isn’t recognized. And in a group of 70+ people, you can’t recognize everything.

Anyways, they hand the card to me and say it is for Ken’s wife. I tell them I don’t know a Ken. (Afterall I haven’t been in their group for two years now.) I hold it out for them to take it back. They said, “oh yeah you do, you have at least seen him around, shorter older guy, his wife is sick”. I tell them “I am sorry to hear this, but I don’t know who he is”. The older admin rolls her eyes and says, “just sign it please, we need more signatures”.

Am I silly here? I had a nice thought for this person Ken, and I am truly sorry that his wife is ill. But what does a card with a bunch of random signatures from people he doesn’t know do? I grabbed the card, they ran off to a meeting. I signed it and set it on the corner of my desk to return to them later. Then evidently I stacked a bunch of papers on top of it. And then some more on top of that. So “the other day” above? More like “the other week”.

Oops. I ran upstairs just a little bit ago and fully intended on handing it to one of the admins in person with my apologies. I wasn’t very disappointed though when they weren’t in their office and I could just drop it in their mailbox… anonymously.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Obsessive? Me?

Every year I pick a book up for AB for Christmas. He enjoys reading a lot, but so infrequently has the time for it. Traveling at Christmas seems to be the exception to this rule when we are both afforded the luxury of a little down time while spending it with family. Particularly while visiting my family, it is a good idea that AB have a good book to absorb himself in. Not that there is anything wrong with my family, of course.

This year I was at a loss as to what book to get AB. He hasn’t mentioned anything in particular. Actually the only book he did mention was the sequel to my December book club selection, Persepolis. But since I knew he would sit down and read it in an afternoon, it wasn’t a worthy candidate for vacation reading. So instead I ordered that the other day, it arrived last night. Leif squealed “Happy Birthday!” while AB opened the box. I went to the bathroom last night, saw it sitting on the floor and was surprised to see he had already read almost a quarter of the book between the time it arrived (5:30pm), when we ate dinner, and when he had to leave for class at 6:40pm. So I am not the only obsessive one.

AB is a sci-fi fan. Not fanatic. Just fan. He loves all the classics, but is fairly particular about the books he reads nowadays. He just doesn’t have the time to sit down and read every single book that looks interesting. He likes the latest Dune books by Herbert’s son and usually purchases those in hardback immediately upon release. That is the only set he is compulsive about reading. He likes Kim Stanley Robinson, but lately has been less than thrilled with his/her books. He read The Sparrow from my book club and then read the sequel and enjoyed those. All of these together and I could not for the life of me come up with a decent book to order for him for Christmas.

I performed a few searches online and sorry to say, every single book or cover looked like a bunch of cheese to me. (Sorry sci-fi fans.) I actually enjoy some limited sci-fi. Two of my top favorite books are considered sci-fi: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffeneger. I also enjoyed The Sparrow and KSR’s Antarctica (because I am a polar expeditions buff, a little obsessive about adventure stories in the extreme poles). Still what I saw out there struck me as cheese. Cheese somewhat akin to those sweeping romance novel covers with some bare chested beast of a man bending over a voluptuous woman lying on some chaise. Ok, so I may buy books based off the covers… I did start out college as an art major (2nd to biology).

I decided to wander (in the cold) over to the building next to me that houses the real geeks of my directorate today in search of advice on this conundrum. Wow did I get a wealth of information. I could have saved myself a fair amount of time had I just started out over there. Lesson learned, most scientists like sci-fi.

I placed an order for four books today. I fear I may have just doomed my husband’s final semester of school. I only intended on getting him one book. I bought the first book that the nuclear physicists all declared the most real science in a fiction book. (Which I know is always a problem for AB being a scientist.) It got rave reviews and was evidently published before Frank Herbert died and earned accolades from even him. That gave me the thumbs up since AB thinks Herbert to be “the man”. The other three books comprise a trilogy.

The minute this trilogy was mentioned I KNEW it was for AB. The title was the only thing I had to hear before the “ding ding ding we have a winner bell” went off. I knew I had to get it. I raced back to my office and found it, well most of it. The first two books for $6.99 each in mass market paperback. The third book for $69 available used from private sellers on Amazon. I was certain this was a mistake, a misplaced decimel point and did a little more research. It wasn’t wrong.

I headed back out (in the cold) to the building next door to ask more questions. Is the third book really necessary to the trilogy? (The responses filled the building with roars of laughter and adamant “YES’s”.) Ok, so I figured that… otherwise what is the purpose of a trilogy. I was filled with advice not to buy the books unless I can get my hands on the third. AB would kill me otherwise. Of course these are also my friends and there were offers to loan him the third book. A last resort… neither AB or I like to borrow books unless they are from family (who usually don’t care if they get them back). AB is hard on books and me? It just takes me forever to get through a book anymore.

The obsession set in. I hiked back to my office. (Yes, I do actually work throughout the day.) I started my search. There *had* to be some used bookstore somewhere that doesn’t realize the value of the book. Doesn’t there? I searched… and searched… Apparently $69 is the going rate for a USED version of the book and furthermore, used book stores are quite savvy in knowing what books (particularly out of print books) are worth. I felt dejected.

Because I knew it was SO perfect, I finally decided to just order the first two books and keep my eye open for the final book of the trilogy and if I don’t find it, take one of the nuc guys up on their offer that he could borrow it. I was somehow compelled to try one more search.

Which was not in vain! I don’t know how but I found the book for about $12 (₤6), new, in the UK! A quick check to find out that yes indeed it was in stock and new, and capable of being shipped to the US! I plunked down my credit card number quickly, secured the copy and felt incredibly gratified. A paperback book for $25 (including shipping)? I would normally balk. But I was obsessed… just a little.

Now, I have the perfect gift for AB. And one he would have NEVER suspected in a million years.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Returning to a normal life

I had a good week off for the most part. There were a few wrinkles thrown in… like needing to pick Leif up early on Wednesday because he was Mr. Fussypants at daycare. (So much for making the stuffing early.) AB being stuck at the computer working on homework for seriously nearly every bit of time off through until Saturday at 8pm. (So the things I needed his help with went undone.) And then my coming down with a nasty stomach bug on Sunday morning that completely spoiled my last remaining day of time off. (Leaving a number of projects 75% done.)

My stomach bug has apparently abated though as of this evening. I was struck with hunger at about 3:30pm and headed to the vending machine at work where I chowed two chocolate cookies. I know, I probably shouldn’t have come into work. My plan was to sit in my office and catch up with things. Little did I know that nearly everyone I know would have to stop by for a hi and to chat about the holiday. I warned every single one of them to keep their distance!

Thursday we had a traditional Thanksgiving feast that we shared with our friends V, K and their daughter C. Leif and C had a great time playing, when they weren’t fighting over whichever toy the other had found. (And would have likely put down in 5 seconds if the other hadn’t shown an interest.) AB smoked a turkey, we had a sausage parmesan dressing, cream of mushroom soup, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, and zinfandel cranberry sauce. We had pumpkin pie (my favorite) for dessert.

Friday we abandoned leftovers (thankfully) for V’s chicken curry, daal, fried plantains and rice. Yum. All I can say. I chowed.

The rest of the weekend was lackluster to subpar. The highlight was swimming lessons where Leif insisted on “no under”. (No putting his head under the water.) But excelled at floating on his back. I will thank Ballou from The Jungle Book for that one. Leif loves that part where Ballou is floating and Mogli is sitting on his stomach. He took note that Ballou was “floating back” and practiced all week in the big tub and then showed off his stuff at swimming Saturday.

It was good AB finished up what he needed to on his project Saturday night because Sunday morning I was stricken with a death grip on my stomach. Yeah fun. Notsomuch. I was so incredibly bummed by this not only by being sick (and I hate being sick), but also seeing the snow coming down outside and watching Leif play in it from the couch. I really was longing to get out with him and throw a few snowballs or make a (small) snowman. But it was a no go. After he got up from nap Leif was feeling incredibly mommy deprived and spent much of the afternoon and evening with me on the couch. And wow did we pay for this. He did not get nearly enough physical activity yesterday, which made bedtime a hassle (sorry AB) and he was up numerous times last night (again sorry AB). He was up at 5:45am this morning, standing by my side of the bed. He crawled in and despite my rubbing his back refused to fall asleep for another 45 minutes. So Teletubbies it was at 6am.
Today I managed to get another significant dent placed in my Christmas shopping list. I avoided Black Friday like the plague, but eagerly awaited Cyber Monday. I have whittled my list down to only about 25% of it remaining. And that 25% represents my “hard to buy for” list.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A week half spent

I am far too rapidly approaching that 50% spent mark on my week off. I have completely relished nearly five days of wearing comfortable clothes, applying no make-up and pulling my hair back into a ponytail.

I was unprepared for my trip by the grocery store this morning to pick up a few remaining items for our feast tomorrow (namely the turkey, a 16 lbs beast, the smallest I could find). I found more people I work with at the grocery store than I normally see on a day of work. They were obviously unprepared for seeing everyone else as well since I saw loads of sweatpants. I grabbed my few things and ran home to enjoy my last day of solitude at home.

The weekend was good, Leif loved swimming. Monday he went into school, I ran home and got busy cleaning out the guest room, cutting out fabric for the new baby's quilt and making a few Thankgiving dishes that could be prepared substantially ahead of time. Now if I can just keep AB's fingers out of the Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce I won't have to wonder if I need to make a second batch.

Tuesday I kept Leif at home with grand plans to walk he and the dog down to Starbucks and enjoy a warm drink with my son in the shop. The drizzly fog kept us from enjoying this trip and instead we watched Sesame Street and got a jump on our clay ornament making. We went to go meet AB for lunch at noon. We never made it since Leif fell asleep in the car. I turned the car around and took advantage of his timing by transferring him into his bed and enjoying the three hour naptime to work on getting more done around the house.

I took Leif into school again today so that he could enjoy their Thanksgiving party and I could pick up my messy house and cook. So far I have turkey stock on the stovetop, a pumpkin pie in the oven and my ingredients for cinnamon rolls pulled out onto the counter. I need to make my bean dip and the dressing and I will be in good shape for tomorrow.

Have I said yet that I love Thanksgiving? I really do. I love cooking the feast, I love drinking the warm Wassail (yes, I know it is a Christmas drink, but I enjoy it at Thanksgiving too). I love watching the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade (even though AB sits there rolling his eyes sure that he is missing some great football game). And I love reminiscing into the past...

Starting the day out watching the parade on TV, anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus at the end. Because that meant that Christmas was *officially* on the way.

Or like the first Thanksgiving I ever remember helping my mom cook. Me in my little apron, in our little house on Jim Bridger Street and feeling so important in helping her with this feast. It was snowing out, a lot. One of the boys from my class came to see if I wanted to go sledding. I declined in favor of staying inside to help cook. A sign of years to come.

Or preparing our first Thanksgiving ever in Reno with our friends from San Francisco lounging around the apartment while I pondered when in the world that little pop up timer on the turkey was actually going to pop. (For the record, I have *never* seen one pop.) We ate about 7:30pm that night.

We have come a long way in our Thanksgiving meals. Some things remain constant over the past few years. Our gravy usually has problems, despite the fact that any other day of the year I can make a stellar gravy. My cream of wild mushroom soup remains the thing I really just would rather eat as a main course despite that wonderfully cooked turkey that belongs on the pages of Bon Appetit. (I am not a big fan of turkey.) AB is in charge of the turkey and always grills/smokes it. And pumpkin pie, homemade. And family and friends. What could be better?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The poop post

Ok, read at your own risk. You have been warned. Other notes to the post… if you don’t have kids and you want kids someday, also don’t read this post. If you don’t have kids and don’t want kids, don’t read because I don’t want to hear the sarcastic laughing.

AB was showering, I was in the bathroom getting ready and Leif was watching an Elmo video. Or so I thought. Evidently he had instead pooped his pants. Being the smart kid he is, he went to his bathroom to deal with it. Really, mommy and daddy would rather be the ones to deal with it, but Leif’s independence streak runs strong. (Wonder where he gets that?)

Of course I knew none of this and next thing I know, he is standing in the doorway of our bathroom with his pants around his ankles and poopy underwear around his knees. Can I just say that his BMs haven’t firmed up nearly enough since the bout of diarrhea last week? The kid is going to be eating cheese all weekend. I took his hand and lead him back to his bathroom with talks about “remember we talked about getting a new toy if you go poopy in the potty…” yadda yadda yadda.

Apparently I just am oblivious as I walked across the house. We turn the corner to go down the hallway to the bathroom and panic overcomes me. There is poop everywhere. There is a 2 foot long large drizzle of poop on the carpet down the hall, like someone took a bottle of Hershey’s syrup... There is poop on his favorite blanket. There is poop on the straps of the Kelty backpack carrier sitting innocently in the hall for goodness sake. There is poop all over the bathroom floor and toilet seat.

I look down and notice then that Leif’s legs are covered. I strip him over the linoleum and carry him, arms extended back to our bathroom yelling at AB not to get out of the shower yet!! (Noting along the way the streaks of poop through the dining room linoleum and living room carpet that I earlier walked right on past.) I whip the shower open and hand Leif to him. AB has a disgusting look on his face. “Don’t look at me that way,” I tell him, “you got the good end of this stick.”

A little later AB calls from the shower, “I take it you fed him corn yesterday?” At least this time he was in the shower with a huge drain.

Post #500

Wow, there's a milestone!

I simply had to recognize this. Mostly because the topic that will grace post #501 is not worthy of this momentous number. I don't want to remember forever that post #500 was "The Poop Post".

Nine days off!

I was so worthless at work today. Today is my last day at work before my annual Thanksgiving week off. Since I started working here I save my two personal holidays every year, add in a vacation day and take the entire Thanksgiving week off and spend it at home. We never travel for Thanksgiving, instead we love to cook and hang out with whoever can come see us. I take this time to plan our feast, something I love doing, and get caught up on things around the house that need to be tackled. And somedays, I just vege out.

Leif will be going to school on Monday and Wednesday of next week. He is off Thursday and Friday naturally. I had planned on taking him to daycare Monday and Tuesday so I can tackle his new room with paint and do some sewing without his assistance, then keep him home Wednesday to be with me. But then the teachers (who I love) had to go and spoil my plans and plan a special Thanksgiving celebration for the kids on Wednesday. Sure, Leif can miss it, but he really likes food preparation (they get to make mashed potatoes) and I want him to be included. Plus, I won’t have to pack him a lunch.

I have a huge list of things I plan to do. First and foremost is start getting the guest room painted for Leif’s big move. There is a lot of stuff to move and I will have to enlist AB’s help for a lot of this. I will be somewhat limited in how much I can actually get done on my own. AB mentioned working on this “after Thanksgiving”, which made my heart sink a little. Just something I want to tackle on my days home without little hands to help!! But I know he has a good reason for this… he is damn busy with work and school right now.

The second big project is that I want to make the second baby’s quilt. I have the fabric, have it washed, I need to iron it and start cutting pieces. This will be something fun for me to do as I sit in front of the TV and laugh at soap operas and Dr. Phil, Oprah and the like.

I have two or three closets I need seriously cleaned out for different reasons. My linen closet for the simple reason you can’t find anything in there. The two utility room closets because a lot of stuff stored in the guest room is going to wind up there. AB needs to retrieve the Christmas decorations from the attic so I can set about decorating in my free time (happy dancing as I think about my goodies I bought last year from Pottery Barn and Target on clearance). Oh and I need an oil change on my car and should probably think seriously about looking at new tires for my car. Ugh.

On the day Leif stays home with me I plan to make Jay’s salt clay and we are going to make some Christmas presents for him to give. Leif will really like that and since it is salt clay, maybe just maybe he won’t be inclined to eat it?

I will pop in on the internet some, but probably won’t be around a whole lot. Everyone have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Travel safe if you are traveling! Stay safe if not!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


AB or I normally lead Leif in prayers each night. I can’t do the “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer right now, lest I burst into tears. Yes, I am *that* hormonal. Leif has started saying his own versions of prayers this week. Here is last nights:

Dear Got,
Keep Daddy safe.
Keep Tumblebus safe.
Keep C safe (his closest friend and our closest friends’ daughter).
Keep Tubbies safe. (Teletubbies)
Keep the stars safe.
(Pause… I ask him if there is anyone else we want to keep safe?)
Keep Bompa safe (grandpa).
Keep Winny safe.
Keep Happy Birthday safe (?!?!?)
(Anyone else I ask? Pause… Finally I give in… how about mommy?)
Keep Mommy safe.
Thank you Got.
I love you Got.

Follow up to the gender post below

I have copied here my friend, V's, recent rant from August regarding gender stereotyping and the character Abby Caddabby from Sesame Street with her permission. Thoughtful and well written. See the link to the article in question.

"For all my hang-ups about gender stereotypes (to recap, my personal axis of evil = Britney Spears, Miss America, but I really have to replace "Barbie" with Paris Hilton - at least Barbie seemed to have gender-breaking jobs that required an education, and you've got to admire a woman with impeccable lipstick in outerspace), it seems to me that society is refusing to let little girls have feminine role models anymore. There is nothing wrong with being a girly-girl, or embracing parts of that personality type. But for society to say that it is a "bad" stereotype is going to confuse and alienate a lot of little girls. I would have characterized myself as a girly-girl when I was a little girl - because I envied my big sisters' "glamour" (they were 14 and 16 when I was 8 - Glamour is relative!) - but in hindsight, I was most definitely dominantly a tomboy (tree-climber, bug-collector, household "chemist," farmer, and doohickey taker-aparter) and intellectual (reader and puzzle-solver) who savoured the girly moments (my first pair of high heels, the first time I got to wear lip gloss to church, getting my ears pierced, my sister buying me my first little make-up kit and bra for my 13th birthday). This non-"issue" makes me mad enough that I want to figure out to whom I should write a letter. And no - I don't think the Herald is the right forum. I'm thinking the Sesame Street workshop or something. This might even make me start a blog, just so I can voice an opinion and pretend it might be heard.

PS: I LOVE the comment that if Cookie Monster was a girl, the "watchdog critics" would be accusing him of being bulimic."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Raising kids in a gender society

One thing that continues to perplex me about parenting is trying not to force gender issues. I think this is easier if you have girls. But as of yet, I don’t have a girl to say this definitively, so feel free to disagree. As my FIL put it when my MIL asked him if he wanted boys or girls he answered, “girls, you can make a girl a tomboy, but you don’t want to make a boy a sissy”. And they had three boys and one girl.

This has become a relatively minor issue with AB and I in raising Leif. AB balked a little when I picked up The Little Mermaid on DVD for a Christmas present. “But it’s a girl movie!” he whined. Just because the lead is a female mermaid does not mean a boy can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it. A few years ago I saw a statistic that said that children’s movies where the leads are girls are most often flops because parents of boys don’t take their boys to see them. Yet parents of girls will take their daughters to see movies where the leads are boys. We are teaching girls from an early age that you can transcend gender barriers, but we are teaching boys that they need to be masculine and disregard things that concern girls or place girls in the position of power. This doesn’t automatically engender acceptance among the male up and coming population to know and understand that boys AND girls can do anything they want.

My son is just over two. He doesn’t understand gender. When I ask him if he is going to have a sister or a brother, 95% of the time he says “sister”. Not because he knows the difference between girls and boys (although so many of the potty training toddlers in his class walk around with their pants around their ankles, maybe he is starting to learn the difference), no he says this, I believe, because “sister” is easier to say. Both AB and I bathe and shower with Leif and he has not asked any questions yet. He just loves when one of us hops in the “big tub” with him.

The other day I decided at Target that Leif needed a few placemats so that he quits destroying our dining room table. They had a crappy selection (par for the course at my Target, I am anxiously awaiting the *new* Target!). I layed them out and asked Leif to pick one out. I was thrilled when he picked out one of the least offensive. Not that they were “offensive”… I guess least “obnoxious” is a better word. He smiled and said, “Cat” as he pulled it out of the stack. Hello Kitty. About that time AB walked up and balked and put the placemat back in the stack and pulled out a Superman placemat. Leif has no idea who Superman is, he could care less. Thankfully he also let out a squeal that is indicative of an upcoming meltdown that caused AB to think (quickly) about taking away the Hello Kitty placemat and he pulled it back out and tossed it in the cart (along with the Superman placemat).

My husband is a super guy who has always been one of my biggest advocates for advancing my career in a male dominated field. He has provided “the male perspective” when I have encountered issues with working in my last research group full of serious testosterone. My husband was raised by a progressive mom who worked, who made her boys clean the house and who took her daughter fishing. He gets it. He just needs to be reminded of “it” sometimes.

I do understand the inkling in your heart to want your son to grow up a manly man. I remember the teasing the girly boys endured throughout school when I was growing up. I don’t want that either. But what I am striving for is equality. It is important to me that my son see successful male and female role models in the world. I want him to grow up sensitive to his wife, his daughters, his female coworkers. And maybe, just maybe, watching The Little Mermaid and eating off his Hello Kitty placemat will give him a leg up in understanding women that they boy down the street doesn’t have!

I'm not a freak!

Or at least I don't immediately come off as the freak I am at heart!

I was interviewed this morning for the social styles class. I walked in and there were two people I know fairly well in the class, one of who knows my social style since I talk to his wife routinely. The other person I knew well was a woman in my group and who is in my book club. The instructors asked that anyone who knows my style to just "play along".

I had a great time. The questions were hard and had a lot of thought put into them. Many multiple choice questions that really backed me into a corner and very nearly bordered on "well why don't you just ask me outright what my style is". But that was good too...

There were about 30 people in the class I estimate and about 5 labeled me as "Analytical" after the interview. The rest - including the one woman I knew from my group and book club, put me as "Amiable"!

Truth be told I don't think I was very surprised. I know I come off easily more as "Ask" and not "Tell". So the fact that no one put me as "Driver" or "Expressive" was not a surprise. The fact that the class waffled on me being "Task" or "People" thrilled me. Maybe I do have some people skills after all!

Monday, November 13, 2006


I only wish it was a winefest… and if I wasn’t pregnant, it probably would have been!

Leif was sent home from daycare Thursday mid-afternoon with diarrhea. Oftentimes I think that daycare is a little overeager to send them home. I have had more than one experience where I get my “sick” kid home and he isn’t sick at all. This time I think they erred the other way and I was wishing they would have called sooner – and not just because I was craving a day at home. Although it did mean it was one nap I didn’t have to put Leif down for, which lately is a VERY good thing.

He remained home on Friday, recovering and preparing his little body to be invaded by a nasty cold virus that arrived on Saturday morning. Oh and don’t think any of this was spared on the pregnant woman in the house either! I can fully explain why Leif was crying “nose hurts” much of the weekend. Because wow does my nose hurt!

Only a few things put a smile on my little boys face this weekend. One of them was swimming lessons on Saturday. Yeah, I debated keeping him home, but it is one of the things he really looks forward to and loves and I really hoped it would pull him out of his funk. I think he is progressing pretty well there since we have switched clubs. Plus, the water is chlorinated to deactivate the cold virus and hopefully make transmission less likely.

The other thing that put a smile on Leif’s face this weekend was the $7 harmonica I picked up at Target. Leif has an obsession lately with making everything he can find into a flute. The favorite is the spring loaded toilet paper roller holders. He holds the side up to his lips and humms as he pushes the spring part in and out. Seriously weird child, I know. Oh and the fun doesn’t stop there. Since we have TWO bathrooms, we have TWO TP roll holders, which means one for Leif and one for Mommy. I can proudly say my toilet paper roll holders are back holding TP now that the harmonica has entered our house. Leif is obsessed with it. He has played “the flute” for everyone we talked to this weekend both on the phone and on webcam.

There isn’t much else pleasant to report about Leif this weekend. Daycare drop off this morning was a bitch as he sobbed and sobbed. His teacher promised me she would call if he didn’t improve after TumbleBus and she didn’t call. Leif is normally the kid that can’t wait to leap away from me upon arriving. So this behavior this morning was disturbing and indicative of how he was feeling. Turns out though that he had a very good day all in all at daycare, ate all his lunch including sharing a teeny tiny bit of pumpkin bread with his teacher. (He could have shared more, I made 4 mini loaves, one large loaf and 24 muffins this weekend.) She told me he raved and raved so much about it and then broke off a tiny little corner for her to “try it”. Honestly, I was more surprised when his teacher told me she ate it and it was really good.

AB and I had some discussions this weekend both about current issues at hand – one being what to name this baby. I had thought we had very nearly agreed on a boys name, but apparently not, as AB was back to the drawing board. For girls we have our same three contestants vying for favorite status from us both. I am positive that naming this baby is going to be (like Leif was) a question up until he/she arrives.

Another one we actually came to a conclusion on is Leif’s new bedroom design. It has to be cool enough to entice him over from the nursery – since I don’t think he is old enough to realize the obvious advantages of having “the bigger room” with a much coveted walk in closet. We are going to do a sage green on the bottom, cream on the top and I am planning on painting an elephant on one wall, a giraffe on another and a tree in the corner. Ambitious to say the least. AB is going to paint the room in green and cream this coming weekend and I plan to tackle the two animals and tree next Monday and Tuesday. Where I balked at a mural for the nursery, I am actually chomping at the bit to get my hands dirty and test my skills at painting these walls. I am a creative person at heart and haven’t had many outlets for this recently.

And to end this post in a serious upnote and not the whinefest it started out as, I just have to sing praise for long skirts and knee socks, particularly while pregnant. I have always loved long skirts. Tights are normally a hit with me, but not while pregnant unless I really want to find the crotch at my knees. They will not stay up. Serious waste of money. Then I re-discovered knee socks at Target the other day. I am in love. I haven’t worn knee socks since I was probably 8 years old. I had to order another skirt on Friday simply to go along with the second pair of knee socks I bought.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Finally! The truth shall be revealed!

Will I get mine this month? I balked and balked two years ago when I was classified as Analytical Analytical. For those of you unfamiliar with social styles that is the far end of the spectrum for being anal, unfriendly and quiet. Or so the critics say, supposedly there are good qualities too. I have always known I am Analytical, but the subcategory adding the second A has bugged the crap out of me for two years now. I am not *that* bad, am I? Not *that* extreme, I can’t be! My friends tell me I am not, but they could just be humoring me and rolling their eyes behind my back! I want to know how I really come off to people.

I will get to find out for sure, twice this month! The coordinator for the class e-mailed me and asked if I would have time to come in to two of the classes being offered this month to play the role of “Guess my style”. She commented that she thought I would be a great case to examine. Is this because I am so extreme (supposedly) or is it because of my versatility and that I hide my double A’s? Is her goal to trick people or show them a case study? I need information!! (Letting my double A’s shine through for a second…)

The classes will get to interview me and then peg me where they think I belong. So I am either going to get confirmation that I just truly see myself differently then the people I am around, or I am going to get my “ha” moment and maybe a few people will see me (in their short time interviewing me) as something not so extreme (and offensive).


I have frequently sought out opportunities to volunteer, to give back to my community, to offer something to someone who could use it. With as busy as we often are, a lot of my charity comes in the form of monetary donations. But when I find the right opportunity, I jump on it whole heartedly.

I was a junior volunteer (yes, candy striper in my red and white striped uniform) at the local hospital when I was in high school for about a year. I actually didn’t particularly enjoy it because I wanted to interact with patients and help the doctors. Ha ha ha! My tasks frequently included photocopying and collating. The senior candy stripers were the ones who got to deliver flowers to the rooms. Suck ups.

In grad school I volunteered regularly as a science fair judge. I LOVED this task and jumped at every opportunity. I particularly loved judging at a few of the lower income schools because the projects I saw were truly the kids work and ideas most often. Although the mold and volcanoes were just an exercise in nastiness and overperformed demonstrations I could really do without and usually garnered an “average” rating. (Although we never issued “below average”.) I was once invited to judge at a private junior high and my eyes were opened. What 12 year old knows what a chi squared analysis is? And what 7th grader actually was able to apply radiation through the use of x-ray machines on a daily basis to plants? And what about the well designed experiment to drop 100 wine glasses packed in a variety of packing materials from the top of the university parking garage. Thoroughly well designed project… that parent should really be working in quality assurance for glassware companies… if they aren’t already. Yes, many were obviously parent projects, but I hoped that instead of the parents doing the projects that these kids were benefiting from spending time with their parents engaged in a project. I will say it again, I loved judging science fairs and seeking out the truly unique thought that some kids put into their projects.

When we first moved to this area I decided I would find an organization to volunteer with. I picked Special Olympics for no reason other than it sounded like a neat organization to volunteer with and I was fairly active and could serve as a coach (ideally). I went through the State Trooper investigation, was deemed appropriate to work with children and went to my first volunteer event, a 5K run. Being a runner, I was excited to help. I was never so appalled with the lack of organization, advertising and general caring of the people involved. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the proceeds raised went directly to line someone’s pockets. I was called once again to help with a bowling tournament, declined and never heard from them again. No love lost there.

An opportunity recently crossed my desk to serve as an e-mail mentor to a junior high girl through an organization devised and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is an after school club designed to give kids that wouldn’t normally have access to science and technology in their everyday lives (kids without computers and/or internet) exposure to science and technology as well as time each week on a computer and on the internet. To go along with this each girl will be paired with an e-mail mentor working in the field to chat about whatever really. Schools are selected to have clubs, the clubs are amazingly well funded, and the participants are low income, minority dominant schools. This sounded like the ideal opportunity for me to volunteer as an e-mail mentor.

Once again I passed the State Trooper investigation, then went to a four hour training class for the program where I learned a lot about the program, but found that I was mostly being preached to about racial tolerances and sensitivities. Something I thought I never really had a problem with personally. The fact that I work in national security was balked at a little by the organizers (hey, they accepted my application) because they worried that my student might be reluctant to talk to me out of fear I would have her family deported as this is a common concern among these kids. (Truly I have absolutely NO authority in this area.) Still I stuck with it.

The program has very nearly landed in my box of “what a load of crap this is”. Really this should be a great organization. It is heavily funded. The things these kids get to do would make most college professors jealous. The administrators of the program are paid and not volunteers. Still it is run like the blind leading the blind. They are at least a month late in matching the students up with mentors. The kick off event is scheduled for 4 hours on the Saturday before Thanksgiving at a site significantly out of town. (This is 8 hours of donated time for something touted to take “just a few minutes a week” of your time in e-mailing.) I am supposed to RSVP by tomorrow, yet still don’t know if I will even HAVE a student and supposedly many students will likely not be able to attend.

I feel like a huge dolt saying to the organizers if my student (providing I have one by then) can make it, I will be there. Otherwise no, I am not donating half my Saturday before my holiday. I ran the logistics by AB last night and his immediate response was to simply decline the invitation to go. Still I hate doing this. I would hate to think that a junior high girl and her family head out of town to the kick off and her mentor isn’t even there.

I am waffling in my RSVP response to send tomorrow. Either a waffling “yes, I will attend, but only if my student is attending so get your asses in gear, assign me a student and let me know her RSVP status” or “no, I will not be able to attend the kick-off”. Ok, so the first one is only what my bitchy pregnant self wants to write… I wouldn’t actually write that.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The big boy bed

AB has finally listened to the voice of reason (mine). Leif’s big boy bed has been purchased and will be ready to be picked up tomorrow. It started, I think, with my venting to AB about how much there is to do in the less than 20 weeks remaining until this baby arrives. Either my venting took hold, or AB saw things his own way (I think a little of both) and he was adamant Sunday about getting out and buying a bed for Leif. We need a permanent solution to his sleeping arrangements.

Here is where I could use some design input. I bought the safari quilt set for Leif from Overstock, should arrive anyday now, and we will be revamping the guest room for him over the next few weeks or months. AB is leaning towards a somewhat neutral orange background (not orange! like my kitchen, orange as in orange) for the walls to match the quilt and then I can paint safari animals on the wall. (Don’t laugh. I started college as an art and biology major. Painting is not my media of choice, but I am not half bad either.) I might be leaning a little more towards a two toned (light orange and light sage green) painted walls with no animals, but part of me likes the mural idea. I know Leif will LOVE it. It is just the time factor… but then again in 2 weeks I am taking a full week off and will hopefully have time to paint (and do the quilt...). I just need to have the room prepped by then. I need to nail down the design.

I have placed an ad on my companies classified ads site looking for a chest of drawers or dresser that I can strip and paint either for the nursery (if we move the already painted safari themed dresser into Leif’s room) or if it I find a nice quality dresser (where the drawers slide freely), we can paint it for his room. If I don’t find anything suitable for him I think a trip to the unfinished wood furniture store will be on order.

I had planned on Leif having substantial input on his bedroom design, but so far he has no opinions. And given the fact that he chose a Hello Kitty placemat the other day at Target over all the others (all the while AB was encouraging him towards Superman), I think AB has more willingly given up on Leif selecting his own theme. I need ideas, preferably inexpensive ones. Help anyone?

Attempting Halloween pictures again

I have tried this a few times both from home and from work. (shh!) I will try once more and hopefully they will post this time.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What's in your cellar?

I am taking a page from Andy’s Wine Press Northwest blog. I really enjoyed reading about what is in his (very impressive) cellar. I have seen it and also been very happy there is a door on it as my toddler runs back to their cellar room at 40 mph.

Our cellar is a stack of styrofoam lined boxes with inserts for wine bottles. We put the bottles in upside down and hope that the styrofoam saves the wine from serious temperature fluctuations. Our house is heated and air conditioned, the wines should (in theory) be maintained at 70F, which is warm for a cellar. But then again I don’t collect wines as trophies or with the hopes of resale. We collect the wines we like to drink and also to experiment – will this very tannic $10 red age well? If it doesn’t, well then it was a $10 experiment. We are scientists you know.

This storage method isn’t very conducive to showing off our wines. Truthfully? It is a pain in the rear to access. A series of boxes stacked in the guest room unlabelled… bet my guests never knew they were sleeping with their heads two feet from our wine collection. Or maybe the reason they all sleep so well at my house should be further investigated... But this method also keeps us from delving into our “savers” too often and is also toddler proof.

AB and I started collecting wine while we lived in Reno and had an easy three hour drive to Napa and Sonoma where we learned about wine and acquired the taste. Our goal was to always buy at least two, if not three of a wine we liked. One to have now, one to put away. Occasionally when we felt rich we would buy a case, but that means our “cellar” is a lot of single bottles (because we so rarely “felt rich”). I was a graduate student after all.

AB and I are mostly red wine fans. We like big, bold red wines, particularly Zinfandel (which you rarely find up here in Washington), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and well crafted Meritages (someday I will rhyme it with heritage…) or other red blends.

Our “collection” started with the 1996 Franciscan Magnificat from Napa Valley. It was a wonderful California Meritage that we collected through the 1999, or maybe 2000 vintage. It dropped off our radar after moving to Washington but we still have a few bottles of each vintage. I did pick up a few bottles of it at Costco here early this past year and was honestly unimpressed. In fact, I am not sure we even put the other bottle in our collection.

One of our next collector wines was one of Ravenswood appellation specific zins. We became huge Ravenswood fans while in Reno and still are. It is one of the few Calfornia wines we still purchase regularly. We served many of their wines at our wedding when they gave us such stellar deals at the winery. (No joke, this is the single friendliest winery ever.) We used to say that it was our house wine. We bought a case of 1997, put it away and over the last eight or so years have consumed that case. We were highly impressed with how this $12 wine changed over the years. Our last bottle met an untimely demise about 8 months ago. I had brought the bottle out for a steak dinner, AB decided the meal wasn’t really worthy of our last bottle and so instead of putting it back in the “cellar”, I stuck it in our wine rack. About a week later when we decided to open a bottle with pizza I grabbed it, mistaking it for one of the Ravenswood vintners blend zins from Costco and popped the sucker open. (Envision squeals of “it was an accident” a la Phantom of the Opera.) Yes, our bottle that wasn’t worthy of the steak dinner was to be paired with a Hawaiian pizza from Pizza Hut.

So the above paragraph fits into the category of “what isn’t in my cellar”. Back to the topic at hand of what IS in my wine cellar... right now, 40 bottles.

A few California hold-outs remain in our cellar. Specifically a few zinfandels from the Sierra Foothills. Perry Creek zin is one of my favorites, ZinMan. And I probably really just like it because my dad’s name is Perry.

Our “cellar” since moving to Washington has been not surprisingly dominated by Pacific Northwest wines. Mostly Columbia Valley wines with a few appellation specific and a number of individual bottles of Walla Walla wines. I am not a student any longer and I still can’t afford more than single bottles of the wines from that region we like. Among wines from this region we have eight Meritages, seven Syrahs, and five Cabernet Sauvignons. The remainders are miscellaneous varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonney, a few sparklers, a few Rieslings, a Gewurztraminer, and an Ehrenfelser. And even more amazing to me is that every single one of these wines is from a different winery, many are very small, little known places.

Last there is a bottle of 1995 Prager Royal Escort Port that we purchased before we married. This was a fabulous port that AB and I nearly broke the bank in purchasing back about 1998 at $50 a bottle. We swore we would open it at our wedding. Then we swore we would open it when our first child was born. Wow, if it wasn’t opened for either of those events when will it be opened? Our biggest problem with opening it has been that it isn’t a half bottle. It is a full 750 mL. And while I know that port keeps longer than wine, we need more people to indulge in it with us. Well guess what… we are now surrounded by wine loving and appreciating friends. I think its days are numbered. At minimum, of course, it has at least 19 more weeks of life to enjoy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Leif Update

Leif is now 27 months old and wow is he busy! He is such a fun kid to be around, 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time he can be cranky, naughty or just mischievous. All in all he seems to enjoy life and love interacting with his friends and other people he knows and many he doesn’t know!

Yesterday was Halloween and he was a bug. The bug costume has seen its fair share of wear in the past few weeks. This is great, if we spend the money on it I want him to enjoy it for a substantial amount of time and not just one day. Leif was excited about Halloween, I am sure due in part to my enthusiasm for the holiday. To me, Halloween kicks off the holiday season, a time of year I love. My dad was always a big Halloween junky and my sister and I inherited it from him. I got the love of Halloween, she got the love of Halloween but also of all things gory.

Leif seems to have a little grasp of the concept of Halloween, the costumes, pumpkins, cats, spiders and bats, also trick or treating. We carved his pumpkin to look like a cat face and each night we lit it and he went around shutting off every light in the house (ok AB, even Leif knows where the dining room light is…) so he can stand in front of the lit pumpkin and ooh and aah. All the way in to work on Halloween morning he practiced saying Trick or Treat! When we arrived at daycare we put on his costume and he paraded proudly into his room. You could tell from the fun atmosphere that every child to that point had their few minutes of glory as the other kids analyzed his or her costumes. Leif enjoyed every minute of it as the kids touched his antennae and spare legs and the mylar eyeballs on top of his head. He ate it up.

I figure he probably had to take the costume off shortly after I left as it was quite insulating. It was the costume made for kids like me who grew up in an area where 75% of the time it snowed on Halloween and your costume was always made to fit over a parka. This one is a coat in itself with all the extra padding to make him a very round bug.

I picked him up at the end of the day and we went home and started lighting the candles and put the pumpkin outside. Within minutes kids started showing up at the door. At first this caused a lot of angst, Leif wanted his costume on (I didn’t as we were going to eat dinner) and he wanted to eat candy (again we were going to eat dinner). Meltdowns ensued. Soon though, dinner was finished, he was in his costume and we were off to go trick or treating!

He really did well trick or treating, never actually said “trick or treat” to anyone, we did get a few thank you’s out of him though. Most “trick or treats” came as we were leaving and the doors were well shut.
When we returned home, we only hit about 10 houses, Leif took up the charge in handing out candy. He stood by the window and announced “kids coming!” He would then run to the door, pick up the bucket for candy and meticulously and very carefully hand out a single piece to each kid. He ate up the whole evening!

For the past six days Leif has been holding steady at being about 75% potty trained during the day. This morning Leif was gone for a few minutes while I was doing my hair and AB was in the shower. I went to find him when he didn’t come running when I called. Out he comes out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles. “I potty mommy,” he tells me. I was skeptical since he already had two successful potties this morning, so I went in and took a look in the toilet. There, before my eyes, was a poopy in the toilet. I just about fell over.

This is fully on his accord and the slacker mom I am hasn’t put him in underwear yet. Frankly I haven’t seen the reason why, other than to quit wasting diapers since after going potty he doesn’t want the used (but not soiled) diaper back on and wants a new diaper. Leif is fully capable of pulling his pants down, removing his diaper and crawling up onto the toilet by himself. I am pleased that so far he is learning to go to the potty based off him recognizing the desire to go.

I really would like to have him potty trained by Christmas break, but we will see how things go. No pressure on our part.

The brag book… Leif has nearly mastered counting 1-14 and his A, B, C’s. Nearly in that 5 and 9 are often forgotten. And there is some mumbling in the alphabet song particularly at f-k. He gets a sound in there for each letter but it is more of a grunting noise. He has a few books which we are not allowed to read to him. It isn’t out of dislike for the book, it is because those are his books to read to us. And he does so with gusto! One of his favorite things is to read to relatives on the webcam. He doesn’t care to be read to on the webcam, but delights in sharing his new skill with you. (So if you are one of the relatives that is determined to do this… sorry to break the bad news, but trying to hold him squirming on our laps and encourage his attention to you? Just not working, no offense.)

I have a new found admiration for the daycare teachers. I have been working to teach Leif one of my childhood favorite rhymes, Little Bunny Foo Foo. It is one of the few rhymes I have found that they haven’t beat me too. Anyways, after days and days of singing Little Bunny Foo Foo and doing my best not to giggle when he says “Little Bunny Hoo Hoo”, we still have only mastered the “popping them on the heads” part. Leif knows LOTS of rhymes from school, quite well. This means that those teachers repeat and repeat those songs over and over again. I am so sick of Little Bunny Hoo Hoo (giggles) right now. But I have determination! And a little boy who likes the concept of bonking things on the head. (Maybe this is why they don’t teach it at daycare?)

Every morning when we go to the car he has a small meltdown. “I drive!” he tells us. My poor child doesn’t realize it is at least 14 years until he can have that privilege. A special treat is to go out to the car and let him sit in the driver’s seat.