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.