Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oh heck no we are not going out tonight

Today is New Year's Eve. We are spending the day watching it snow - we are supposed to get up to 9 inches possibly, having a play date with the twins next door which went nicely, and then going to an open house at a neighbors' house. We will likely be home by 7pm because that will be when Cooper will begin his self destruct count down and need to go to bed. Since I seem constitutionally incapable of staying awake past 10pm, we will most likely not be celebrating the new year until we wake up the next morning. The Bob says he is going to try to get coffee in me all day in an effort to keep me awake, but then I will just be very tired, caffeinated and cranky.

And speaking of cranky, Cranky Fitness has a great post about New Years being annoying. I am not a big New Years' celebrant. I have never really understood the fascination with the new year, or at least the new year as celebrated on the standard Gregorian calendar, which was a reform of the Julien calendar which was terribly inaccurate. It seems a bit ridiculous to me that we get all hung up on the number of the year, when we only began counting on this particular calendar 2008 years ago. There is a WHOLE lot of history that happened before the implementation of this calendar.

I am not Chinese, but I prefer the Chinese calendar. First of all, it follows the lunar cycle. While it also was implemented after a lot of history had happened, it has been in use much longer. This year the Chinese New Year will begin on January 26th and it will be celebrating the year 4707. I also dig the Chinese zodiac - we will be going into the year of the Ox. I like that the celebration lasts two weeks, and ends with the Lantern Festival. I have a thing for lanterns. During the two weeks there are celebrations that are family oriented, food oriented, gift giving of items that are designed to bestow good luck. One tradition is for families to clean their houses to get rid of the bad luck and welcome good luck in. If nothing else, you might get your house cleaned out once a year.

I am not Jewish either, but I can get behind that calendar too - they are up to 5768 right now. The new year is celebrated usually in September or October. But this goes to my point - why do we get all hung up on this year vs. that year - cast your minds back to the whole millenium Y2K hullaballoo that came to NOTHING - when the number of the year we are in theory celebrating is so out of sync with the actual age of mankind?

All of this is to say that I don't mind that we don't have big plans to freeze our butts off (it is currently 19 degrees at 2pm in the afternoon and will only get colder) during First Night in Boston, and I don't do resolutions. I like to review and adjust things as they come up, not just once a year. If you want to do it once a year, it almost seems more appropriate to do it on your birthday - the day you entered the world, and the day that you advance another year in your life. It is truly a new year for each person on that day.

The one thing I will do tomorrow, besides have a friend over for dinner, is take the tree down. It is time. It has been lovely, but I am ready to reclaim that corner of the living room. We will also find out if we can live without the grey fencing we have been using to keep Cooper from touching the TV and electronics. The first time I see him near the TV with a crayon though, back it goes!

Monday, December 29, 2008

And I have my brother to thank...

I am a somewhat critical movie viewer when it comes to movie adaptations of comic books. I grew up reading my brothers' comic books. Many of the superheros were represented in this collection, but I have very clear memories of the X Men, Superman, Batman and that whiney Spiderman.

Here is my Spiderman rant: Grow a set. You have SUPER POWERS dude. Get over being guilty about Uncle Ben, let MaryJane make her own choices, she is afterall, a grown up who can decide if she wants to be with a dude who can shoot webs out of his wrists. I do not have issues that the more geeky Spiderman fans have - like if he really did experience a merge of his DNA with a spider, he would most likely shoot webs out of his butt instead of his wrists, or that he would have grown 16 eyes. I just want him to be a SUPER-HERO. And to stop whining. I liked the first Spiderman movie from an adaptation perspective, but still hated Spiderman. The third movie was so bad we turned it off and sent it back without ever seeing the end. The song and dance bit in the bar was more than I could handle.

But on to the real reason for this post - Iron Man. I gave this movie to the Bob as a stocking stuffer and we watched it the other night. It is a GREAT movie. I am partial to movies that have redemption as a story line, and this is true of this movie. And Robert Downey Jr. totally finds his groove in it. The character is such an unlikely person to become a superhero, but then puts those crazy genius brains of his to work and the rest is just fun. I even didn't mind Gwenyth Paltrow in the role of Pepper Potts. She bugged me before she went and named her daughter Apple. But she was a nice addition to the movie.

So if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Stan Lee, comic book artist extraordinaire, is an executive producer so it would have been hard to get it wrong.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Things I learned today

Today I did actually perform two songs at Ryles Jazz Club during their jazz brunch. My friend Harvey and his trio were performing and he had invited me to join them. I sang "How High the Moon" and "Take the A Train". The Bob and my friend TR came along, and the Bob was in charge of taking the video. Only one song was actually documented because he couldn't figure out the camera right away. Which is fine because during the other one I screwed up the lyrics a bit. I am still debating putting the video on the blog.

Things I Learned Today:

1. I need a new pair of jeans that fit. The pair I was wearing are too BIG and I look horrible. Yes, that sounds silly but there it is. Now, this is not the worst thing to have happen, they could have been too small.

2. I need to figure out what to do with my hands while performing. One had was holding the mic, but what to do with the other hand...or either hand or my entire self while waiting to sing again during the instrumental solos.

3. I can survive doing things that absolutely terrify me. This was a very terrifying experience. I haven't performed like that in a veeeeeerrrrry long time and never by myself in front of a jazz trio. While this is not actually a reason to put the video on the blog or not, it is something I learned. It is a lesson I keep learning actually. Like after delivering Cooper, which was more terrifying than I expected because my health issues were making it necessary to deliver him early and while we were in great hands in a great hospital, there was the risk of death for both of us. Or when we tried scuba diving on our honeymoon. TERRIFYING. But thankfully I survived all of those experiences.

4. Now that I have done it, I know the next time I do this I won't be as terrified and it will go better. I am talking about singing, not giving birth. If my doctor did her job, I will not experience that again. However, Harvey said I can join him anytime he is there, and I will do THAT! And it didn't go badly, other than screwing up the lyrics, it went really well actually. Total strangers who didn't have to say anything complimented me. And TR is not known for holding back with the criticism, on ANYTHING, and she was complimentary too.

5. I learned that even though I think I am singing really loudly, I am not as loud as I think I am out in the audience. More volume will help a great deal.

6. It is hard to be louder the lower in my range I go. Will have to work that out.

7. Ultimately, it was REALLY FUN.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I guess I have to learn to bake a pie now.

Merry Christmas! Ours has been nice and quiet. A few years ago I figured out I hate traveling at this time of year, so I avoid it, especially since now it would involve a toddler and a 10 hour flight. Since my family lives in Oregon, which has been getting more snow in a few weeks' time than in the last 40 or so years combined, it is a good thing we were not trying to get there. One college student who was in some new story Bob caught, has been trying to get from Boston to Oregon since last Friday. Yesterday she had gotten as far as Chicago. UGH.

Yesterday we went to the mall to take a shot at getting a picture of Cooper with Santa. Once the Bob has scanned it I will post it. I wasn't paying the extra $20 for the CD. It belongs on that "Scared of Santa" website. He actually was not scared of Santa, he was just on his last leg. It had take about an hour to get through the line, which wasn't so bad since I did the waiting while the Bob chased Cooper around the mall. Cooper only had to stand in line for about 10 minutes. But it was the 10 minutes before melt down. I looked at Santa, who was the same Santa as last year, and is a really GOOD Santa, with a real beard and a very authentic look, and said "This is going to be a crier." "Hit me" he said. So I put Coop in his lap, stepped back and told the lady to take the picture. There was no point in waiting for him to smile, because THAT was NOT happening. It is an awesome Bad Santa photo. Of course I have ordered a ceramic ornament with it on it.

Last night I baked a lasagna, and since I bake an AWESOME lasagna, the Bob decided that should be one of our holiday traditions - a Christmas Eve lasagna. Okay, I can handle that. After Cooper went to bed, the presents were produced for under the tree. This morning he was up around 6:30, and once we were down stairs, he was wholely uninterested in the presents. We could have made the present thing last all day, because each time he opened a present, that was the only thing he wanted to play with. That won't be true in another few years.

The Bob and I decided not to do major presents for each other. We don't have the fundage for it, and it seemed more appropriate to focus on Cooper. We filled each others' stockings instead. But with a price limit! Jewelry would fit in a stocking, but that was not the point. We focused on fun stuff, or useful stuff. I am now the proud owner of a desk top Zen garden and make your own Stonehenge kit. Excellent!

Cooper got more tools. He is VERY into tools. As trades go, carpentry is a good one.

He also got a Mack, from the movie Cars. He LOVES his Mack.

My brother sent me a pie plate. An Emile Henry pie plate. My sister-in-law is a master pie maker. I have NEVER made a pie with my own crust. I actually prefer pie to cake, all that fruity goodness inside a flaky yummy crust. Now I will have to learn to bake a pie.

And in closing, I present you with Buster doing beagle angels. This was taken on Sunday as we were getting another foot of snow. Buster loves rolling in and making beagle angels in snow almost as much as eating. It is beagle joy, pure and simple.

Merry Christmas to all and may your life be full of Beagle Joy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Introducing Birchy M. Birchfield

Two weeks ago the Bob calls me at work and says "What did you order from Crate and Barrel?". I ordered nothing, I assumed it was from my mother. A few years ago my parents and I agreed that for Christmas, instead of trying to buy things for each other we would exchange Christmas decorations. Ornaments, things like that. She had told me that the thing she bought would be arriving soon. Bob says it is HUGE whatever it is. The box was rather large. Inside was another large box, and inside that box was a smaller box, and two decorative holiday kitchen towels. Inside the smaller box was this:

He is about 10 inches tall, and 12 inches long. He is covered in birch bark. Cooper keeps calling him a cow. Gus, one of the schnauzers, wants to eat him. But there he is, a very bizarre but oddly festive Christmas moose. And all I sent them was a set of three ornaments from Pottery Barn.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It is STILL snowing...

It stopped briefly, but started again around 7am this morning and it is near to white out conditions right now. The temperature has risen from 17 degrees to 32 since then as well, so the snow that is falling now is that great, wet snowman snow. Earlier it was like styrofoam. That is when Cooper and I went out and shoveled and made snow angels. I am thinking that with his final words on this video he got himself into the will!

And as my mother pointed out in the comments on yesterday's post, I did not like the snow much at Cooper's age either. I have a very clear memory of trying to go down a slide into the snow. Do you know what happens when you get to the end of the slide and hit two feet of snow? Your feet hit the snow and you stop dead. But the top of you obeys some other laws of physics and keeps moving forward, so you end up face planting right into the cold, hard, snow. Take it from me, that hurts.

Cooper is obsessed with Bob's boots. He was trying to walk around in them earlier.

They are hard to see, but these are our snow angels. And this other picture is our house this morning. Since then another 2 inches of snow have fallen. Where does it stop??

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowy Saturday

It is 12:10pm on Saturday and it is still snowing. It stopped during the night supposedly, but it has been snowing steadily since we got up.

This is Cooper expressing some displeasure with being up to his hips in snow. He got over it when we went out front and he discovered the joys of shoveling. I can only hope that when he is old enough to REALLY help shoveling, he will still want to. He was desperate to get out and join dad outside. Once out there he just kept saying No no no no. However, the lure of using a miniature shovel and hanging out with Fletcher up the street was too overwhelming.

This is the chair on my deck. I won't be sitting there anytime soon.

This is the japanese maple in our front yard.

This is the morning snow measurement - 8 inches, give or take. Since it has been snowing steadily for hours now, we are probably up to 10 inches. Now the snow is the big fluffy flakes that make New England so charming during the winter. Until you have to drive in it. Bob got to break out the snowblower. Our driveway is really short, but there is almost nowhere to put the snow when shoveling. The blower allows him to launch the bulk of it into the yard.

I like snow up until the first of the year. Then I am done with it. I like the Currier and Ives version of Christmas, but after that, I am ready for spring.

Friday, December 19, 2008

4 inches and counting

I am talking about snow. It began around 1:30pm today, and by 5:30 we had 4 inches, by my very scientific method of calculating, which is to take the yard stick out to the table on the deck and measure the snow piling up on it. If it were not pitch black out I would get a picture for you all. It is still blizzarding out.

I went to work this morning, and decided to stop at the grocery store on the way to work to pick up a few things. Me and 100 of my nearest and dearest comrads. Everyone was freaking out about the snow. Cooper's day care follows the Newton school system schedule, and they closed at 11am today. The college closed at noon. I think everyone is still feeling the pain of last year's snow storm and for many, the snow storm of 1978 where cars were just abandoned on the highways for days because the snow fell so fast is still a real and painful memory.

And more snow is due on Sunday morning. My big Ryles debut may be delayed. Harvey is performing there on the 28th too, so worse case scenario I could delay it a week.

But it looks like we will have a white Christmas. They are talking about another storm coming in on Christmas Eve. And this is why I don't like traveling this time of year. The chance of being trapped in Chicago's O'Hare airport for 12 hours waiting for a flight is just too real. That is not my idea of a great way to spend Christmas.

Oh the weather outside is frightful....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it snow...

We received our first real snow of the season yesterday, but not enough for the Bob to break out the snowblower. Tomorrow will most likely provide that opportunity. We are anticipating 10 inches of snow, possibly more, over the course of the day and into the evening. Of course we are at the end of finals week here at the college, so all sorts of plans have been put in place for holding the finals as early in the day as possible, but we haven't figured out Saturday's schedule. We are a primarily residential campus, so the students are a captive audience, but the faculty are the ones who would have a hard time getting here, or getting home again. Last year right around this time we got wholloped with a storm that dumped a foot of snow in a few hours on the region, and it was taking people 5 or 6 hours to make what would normally be a 30 minute commute. My commute normally takes 10 minutes and it took me 30 that day. I was one of the lucky ones and got out early. 5 hours in the car with Cooper would have been baaaaad.

My plan is to go home at noon with Cooper so we get home before the weather gets bad and before his nap. We will stock up on the essentials, like milk and wine and duraflame logs and be ready for hunkering down.

Cooper is not a fan of snow. If his little bare hand touches it, he holds his hand up and makes a grimace. He also hates wearing mittens, so this puts him a difficult space.

And finally, I have noticed a positive side effect to the economic crisis: I am not getting a bajillion credit card offers in the mail each week. A few trees are living a little longer in the world now. I imagine this also makes identity theft a little more difficult too. If no one can get credit approved under a real name, I expect it is that much harder to do so pretending to be someone else. So trees are living longer, I don't have as much shredding to do and people with nefarious intentions in their hearts have to find other ways to steal. Bonus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New developments

So, Cooper has strep. I kept him home today because he had a cough and runny nose and has been fussy about eating. I figured a day off would do him some good. This afternoon after only taking a 2 hour nap - shut up, he usually takes 3 hour naps and I LOVE HIM FOR IT - anyway - he complained about his peepee hurting. He was grabbing at his Mr. Happy and saying "oooow peepee, ooooww peepee". Upon inspection there was nothing visually wrong with said peepee, but he definitely was complaining. So, since he was refusing to eat or drink much and his peepee was bothering him, I called the doctor. One quickie strep test later, he has his first case of strep.

In addition to that, when I reported that both he and I had dealt with a stomach bug over the weekend, the doctor said that strep can actually cuase those symptoms, and that I should probably get checked for strep too. So I will try to do that tomorrow. But that might also explain the complete lack of stomach bug in the Bob. I mean, it is either that or he has some super human anti-stomach bug super power.

Our next door neighbors' kids have been dealing with strep for something like 3 months. They cannot get rid of it. We were at a birthday party with them last weekend, which is likely where Cooper got it. We see the same pediatrician, who said it is unlikely we will have the same experience they are having regarding not being able to get rid of the strep infection. I hope not. That is CRAZY. They have been on some form of antibiotic for months. They are probably brewing some super strain of resistant strep over there.

Anyway, I DID win the Timex Ironman heart monitor thing. They gave me an extension on meeting the deadline for responding because of the whole vomiting thing. Which I greatly appreciate! I never win anything, but now I have!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another fallen soldier

Well, two down, one to go. Cooper came down with the bug last night, at 6:45pm. By midnight he seemed over it and was asking to eat. Huh... a 5 hour bug?

The Bob has not fallen victim yet, but I seem to be over it, and so does Coop. He was decidedly UNHAPPY with the vomiting thing. So we are on Bob Watch, 2008. I imagine if he gets it, it will happen in the next 12 hours.

My sister in law, the ever so funny Cathy, wanted to know if I was sure I wasn't pregnant. HAHA. Soooo funny. NO, I am not pregnant. And it wasn't food poisoning either. It was a stomach bug. My neighbor has also been battling it in her house. Without a functioning washing machine. GROSS. At least we could take all articles of clothing etc. right down to the basement and deal with it. Fortunately I think we saw a delivery of a new machine to her house last night. I don't know who you can buy from that delivers on a Saturday night, but thank little baby Jesus and the three wise men you CAN from somewhere. I am pretty sure that dealing with a stomach bug without a functioning washing machine might just put most marriages right over the edge. At least here in the US.

Enough about being ill. The other thing I did this morning was go rehearse with Harvey Finstein, the guy in charge of our jazz ensemble. He has invited me to sing two songs with him when he performs at a jazz club here in Boston next Sunday. He has a trio he will be performing with and is being very generous. He must think I am capable of this or he wouldn't invite me, right? OY. It will be very fun and very nauseating all at the same time. Back to nausea again. But in a good way this time.

I will let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I have to go see if I still won the Timex Ironman trainer thing. The one time I win something and I may miss out due to vomit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And so it begins...

Erg. I came home today from work around 11:30 and by 2 was becoming one with my toilet. The BUG has hit. So far neither Cooper or Bob have it. I wouldn't mind if neither of them did. I am happy to be the one taking it for the team. What is the hardest part of being sick with the stomach bug for me is the waiting and feeling sooooo crappy. The aching and freezing. I eventually managed to keep some Pepto and advil down, so I am feeling MUCHO much better. I managed to sleep a little. The best is that I wasn't up in the middle of the night feeling this bad.

This means I missed the holiday party that the president of our college hosts each year. Oh well. I had a good excuse.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On swearing or not

I admit to swearing. The Bob swears too. We of course try VERY hard not to in front of Cooper, although I have acknowledged that my child will most likely be the first to curse in school, and teach others naughty words because there are just moments when it gets away from you.

Like the morning I nearly killed one of the other kids in the class and myself because he snuck up behind me and when I took a step back I almost stepped on him, knocking him to the ground. In my attempts to not step on him further, I was flailing around like I was on roller skates in a Popeye cartoon and let at least one 'oh shit' pop out of my mouth. Which made the teachers kind of laugh and be horrified all at the same time. Bygones.

So the question is, if you are trying not to swear, as in say the actual swear words, is it acceptable to replace them with either other real words, like 'sugar' instead of 'shit' or fake words like 'fragadooch' instead of F***. I don't find swear words in themselves all that offensive, mostly because they are just words. Why is shit worse than shoot? It is usually the intent behind them or the force with which they are said that disturbs me. So just substituting another word, but still having the same intention or emotion behind them may not really change the dynamic.

But it certainly would go a long way toward NOT teaching Cooper the words that might get him sent home with a note from his teachers. I am not naive enough to think he won't learn them from someone else. Please. During the summer when all the windows are open, sailors could learn to swear by listening to my neighbor. Her kids will be able to give lessons to the other kids in the neighborhood on proper use and syntax of swearing. Not that she is a bad mom. She is a very good one, she just swears a lot.

Side note: The one and only time the Bob has visited my parents home, the summer I was pregnant with Cooper, he laid a challenge at my feet: Work the word 'nads' into a sentence while talking to my mother. I had commented on the fact that I was pretty sure my mother had never said that word. It isn't technically a swear, it is more of a nickname, if you will, for the longer and actually anatomically correct term 'gonads'. But it is usually used in a colorful way, like the Bob saying 'Ouch, stop stepping on my nads' to one of the dogs and I found it difficult to conceive of a conversation in which my mother would use the term. I didn't actually use it out of the blue, I just told her about the challenge. She thought it was funny. I think. It was over 2 years ago now.

But back to my original thought - should one just try to replace the swear, or should one attempt a much larger exercise, and that is to respond verbally in a way that would not include an expletive at all? When I was flailing around trying not to squash a certain toddler, had I been in training for not swearing at all, I might have resorted to saying 'OH NO' or simply 'AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGG'.

Do you swear? Do you try not to and what do you say instead?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sunflower Valley

Is it weird that after watching 33,567 hours of Bob the Builder in the last year, I have come to the conclusion that I want to live in Sunflower Valley?

For those not in the know, at least in the Americanized versions of BtB, the gang starts out in Bobsville, which BtB's dad, Robert (are you seeing a trend?) build, hence the name Bobsville. After awhile someone decides that a location nearby should be developed, a location called Sunflower Valley. It has sunflowers EVERYWHERE. And rolling hills, and rivers, and pastures. They hold a contest for who will be the designer of the new development, and Bob decides he will enter the contest after he sees that the design of the person considered most likely to win includes a giant mall and housing developments and lost of concrete and metal.

Bob's design is GREEN. He wants to have the development work with the natural beauty and resources of Sunflower Valley. All the houses are solar powered, or in the case of Mr. Sabotini's house, is wind powered since he lives in a windmill. There is a sunflower factory, also solar and wind powered, that processes sunflower oil. There is a seaweed farm, where they grow and dry sea weed that is used both in the valley and back in Bobsville. Mr. Sabotini runs a cafe, and is a baker and grows all his herbs on the roof of a building and makes his bread from sunflower flour. There is a Scottish woman named Meg who owns goats and makes yarn from their wool and cheese from their milk. Quite unexpectedly, there is also a pineapple farm. They eventually build a hotel, all solar powered, so new people can come and visit Sunflower Valley.

I love this place. It is the kind of place that would have grabbed my attention and inspired my imagination as a child, and I am having fun watching with Cooper as an adult. It is idealistic to be sure, but these are not bad lessons to be learning. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is Bob's mantra, along with "Can we build it, yes we can". Despite that fact that I am always questioning things like how do the machines experience cold, why do they wear "talkie talkies" like they have ears, and how do they keep running when they never eat or seem to need to be refueled, I still enjoy the show for its utopian ideals and earthy crunchy sensibilities. I want to find a place like Sunflower Valley for my kid to grow up in, where people are nice to each other and think about sustainability and grow herbs on their roof. Oh, and has the internet, otherwise how would I read all my favorite blogs?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No barfing yet, and another new blog

Barf watch: 12-04-2008 8:56am No barfing or inordinate amount of poop yet. We are on our normal routine, going to work and daycare. Of course we got there this morning to find two more kids have succumbed to the bug. There are only three soldiers left standing who have not caught it, Cooper being one of them. We just have to wait and see I guess. One of his classmates' parents pulled the kid out on Wednesday when they first heard about the bug, because they are going away next week to visit family. Last year the kid infected the whole family with the bug that rampaged through the school. I seriously considered doing the same with Cooper, but then decided to play YATZEE with it all.

New blog alert: While reading I Am Bossy's entry for the day, I found a link to this blog: Cranky Fitness. I wandered over there and found a funny well written blog mostly about how to approach exercise and nutrition from a healthy point of view. I say nutrition, not D.I.E.T because I choose not to diet but be healthy about how I eat. I like her 90% rule: try to a good job 90% of the time with your exercise and eating habits. Don't try for perfection. I pretty much apply that approach to all of my life. I work with someone who thinks perfection is not only attainable, but required. This would be why he never ever ever turns in any report, any project, responds to any request by anyone including our boss, on time. And by that I mean he was 3 months late turning over his part for the annual report because he needed it to be "perfect". Can you say IRONY?

I digress. Check out the blog. Linky link to the left. My own fitness goals are moving along. I am at a 20lb weight loss, and focusing on the next 5lb goal. During the holidays that can be hard, but it is afterall, just a goal. I give myself no absolute timeline on it. More than anything I am excited about how my clothes fit. Even if the weight doesn't drop if I am getting healthier and turning fat into muscle, or at least firmer fat, and I am in the next size down, YIPPEE for me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh the dread

There is a stomach bug going around on the infant and toddler floor of Cooper's schoool. Oooooh goody. This was one of the top reasons I didn't want to have kids. I hate vomiting and kids are petri dishes. I am not someone who could ever be bulimic, I just HATE throwing up. I don't understand people who say they can make themselves do it. Even when I feel like I want to die, am curled up on the floor of the bathroom, knowing it would feel better if I could just get it out, my body fights it every step of the way.

I was a very lucky person in that I never had one day, not even one minute, of morning sickness when pregnant. I had other issues, but that was not one of them. I could handle not feeling my thumbs or first two fingers on each hand for three months when the pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome kicked in, just keep away with the yakking.

It has been a year since Cooper had a stomach bug. At least that time neither Bob nor I caught it. But you just don't know with this stuff. I don't know how he will be if he gets this again. Listen to me, IF. HA. I guess I will go home and clean the toilets so that they are nice and clean in the event one or all of us is getting up close and personal with them real soon.

And why does it seem that they get more sick at night? Can't a 12 hour bug last from 7 am to 7pm? Why is it from 2am to 2pm? Why do we have to be up in the middle of the night with the yakking and fevers? It is just wrong.

On top of it all, the Bob's mother is coming to visit this weekend. She is a very nice person, I have almost no bad MIL stories to tell. She has her quirks, like she is the slowest person I have ever met, and the Bob agrees. What takes me 30 minutes to accomplish in the bathroom is a 2 hour event for her. But that doesn't mean I would wish on her catching a stomach bug by visiting. We shall see how it goes. She gets on the train to come down Saturday morning. If Cooper is going to get it, I imagine it will be before then.

There I go again, with that overly optimistic IF. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MidLifeMama - A Change of Life

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Oh Happy Holidays. Another fabulous tradition is born. HA!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The beat goes on...

Well, tonight was the big debut performance of the group we will probably call the Latitudes. Hopefully you will see embedded here the snippet which is A Train by Duke Ellington. We were minus one female vocalist, Jane, who woke up with a fever, laryngitis, an eye infection and bubonic plague. OK, the last one I made up.

Be kind.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's all about product placement

This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands. Cookies. Chocolate Chip to be exact. I use the good old Toll House recipe from the bag. I have never tried any other chocolate chip recipe. I find this one to be just fine thank you very much.

I realized after taking the before picture that my Ov Glove is in the picture. The Bob got this for me as a stocking stuffer one year, and I love it. I don't eat lobster, so I have yet to try out the whole "you can stick your hand into a pot of boiling water" claim, but it has yet to let me down in the keeping me from getting burned department.

And here is a picture of Cooper and his makeshift drum. First thing this morning he wanted to be drumming away, but since he thought getting up at 6am was a good idea, and the Bob got up with him, he didn't get to drum while the mama was still in bed.

We expanded his viewing options over this weekend. Now he has been introduced to the other Bob, as in SpongeBob Squarepants. And he likes it. Since he has a very highly evolved appreciation for slapstick comedy, SpongeBob is right up his alley. He also finally sat through A Bug's Life. We have had this movie for awhile now, but it was too cerebral, i.e. SLOW and not filled with pratt falls and eye pokes, it has taken him awhile to warm up to it.

MidLifeMama's Wish list:

Cooling racks. I don't have any. I had one, once, but it seems to have been lost in a move. It is hard to cool cookies without cooling racks. We had a neighbor once who cooled her chocolate chip cookies on newspaper. That seemed slightly unsanitary. Besides, we don't even get the newspaper anymore, so I don't have that to fall back on.

It snowed here today for about 10 minutes. Now it is raining. I like snow up until New Year's Day. Then I am ready for spring. Unfortunately, my clock is out of sync with Mother Nature by about 3 months.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bang bang bang

Cooper has shown a decided interest in musical instruments. We were in Target today, looking for a present to give to one of the neighborhood kids who has a birthday party coming up next weekend, and we decided to get this set of instruments for Cooper for Christmas. I could have saved myself $20 had I realized that a set of empty cans and the left over tin from one of those three kinds of popcorn gift sets would be JUST FINE as far as Cooper was concerned. Add one mixing spoon and at least an hour of fun is to be had.

Of course it helps if you don't intend to be able to hear anything else for that hour. Like the TV or talking on the phone, or to each other. But it was worth having him joyfully occupied.

We also went to the Christmas Tree Shop. This, I believe, is a chain that is unique to Massachusetts. One time my friend Crazy Tom was visiting, and I took him there for some reason. He is a dude who is happiest shopping flea markets and yard sales. He LOVED the Christmas Tree Shop. I am not sure how it got started, but it is not just for Christmas anymore. Sure you can buy a lot of Christmas junk. We did. I wanted to put those electric candles in my windows this year. I have great windows for these candles, and I didn't want to pay $10 a pop at Target. So off to the CTS we went. I got them for $1.99 each. I needed 6. $12 vs. $60 is a good deal of savings. I also acquired a new banner for the flag pole ($2.99), an ornament wreath and wreath hanger for the front door ($9.99 and 1.99 respectively). One could really channel your inner Martha at the CTS. Every manner of holiday crap is available there. Giant electric powered snowglobes with snowmen inside, lots of hanging goo gobs for your doors and walls, every kind of stringed light you can imagine, as well as candy and snacks and tea and coffee and whew I am tired.

I got stuck, inevitabely, behind a woman who I thought either was the best stuffer of stockings EVER or had a major bingeing problem, because she had at least two carts worth of stuff she was buying. Turns out she was buying stuff to give away as prizes during bingo at this assisted living place where she worked. The CTS is the place to shop for that kind of thing.

In other news, The Bob bought me a Flip video camera. VERY exciting. Not on the "trying to save money" list, but we have already sent at least one fun video of Cooper to the grandparents in Oregon. Now I will be able to have video evidence of my great singing debut on Monday. Whoohoo. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition

It has been my experience that people fall into one of three categories when it comes to when you put up your Christmas tree: A) As early as acceptable, usually around Thanksgiving weekend B) two or so weeks before Christmas and C) Christmas Eve.

It is the last group of people that I totally do not get. Christmas EVE?? All that work for like, what, a few days of enjoyment? Even if you leave it up for the 12 days of Christmas, til Boxing Day or something, that is still not acceptable.

I LOVE Christmas trees. I love the lights, the ornaments, all the sparkle and special ornaments that mean something to you. When I was little and was old enough to help decorate it was fun to find my favorites and find that special place on the tree for it. Heaven forfend my brother and I wanted to hang the same ornament. I either had to be gracious about it and let him hang it (unlikely for my 8 year old self) or pull seniority (definitely likely).

I think it began sometime when I was in college that my family began putting up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. I would come home for that weekend and we would put the tree up. I am a firm believer in having as much opportunity to gaze upon and enjoy your tree as possible BEFORE Christmas. After Christmas all the anticipation is over, the magic has happened and now the tree needs to be put away, or tossed out.

I held out for a long time about having a real tree. I felt it was the only way to be truly traditional, despite the fact that most of our family was allergic. We eventually got an artificial one. That is what we have now. I have different feelings about real trees now. I really hate the idea of killing a tree for my personal enjoyment once a year. And the cost seems unnecessary. The Bob went out and bought the one we have now two years ago when I had delivered Cooper early and couldn't conceive of putting up the tree and all the lights etc. just after a C-section and in a serious brain fog. It comes in three parts, pre-wired with lights. It takes less than 15 minutes to put up, outside of the decorations. I took two pictures, one without a flash. I used to be an avid white lights person, but when he came home with this tree, I was okay with colored lights. As long as they don't flash or twinkle. They always blink in a pattern and it irritates me. That is probably as close to OCD as I get, being irritated by patterns in blinking lights.

Anyway, the tree is up. I also decorated our window boxes. Rather than spend $60 to get window box swags from a place like Smith and Hawken, I did my own from greenery in our yard. Our holly bushes have a lot of berries this year so it adds to the effect.

The other thing I did today was de-Buster my house. Buster is our beagle, and he has gone for a week long visit with the ex-wife. I love de-Bustering my house. Beagles shed like no other dog I have experienced, and I have lived with a golden retriever. I have hair rollers everywhere - in my bedroom, in my car, in my office. I am removing hair from my clothes all the time. So the opportunity to remove the hair for a week from my life is soooo nice. I love Buster, but I love being hair free too.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankfulness in pictures

What I am thankful for, in pictures...

My Guys.

My brother and family

My dad

My mom

Because the MidLifeMama household is trying to save money, we are buying 3 Buck Chuck, which is actually really great wine, found at Trader Joe's. I used the Chardonnay to cook the turkey and it was YUM.

I have a teenager in the house tonight. One of the two step sons came for dinner, and is staying over. Cooper officially is in love with him. He keeps talking about Mick, although his name is Nick.

Dinner was great. See the turkey, before, at around 2pm, and then after at 2:30. 5 hours of prep, 30 minutes of appreciation. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A new blog to check out

So I was off reading the latest entry by Jenny The Bloggess, see her blog link under bloggy love to the left, and was reading the comments other readers were leaving, and noticed a comment by a guy, Scott, who often leaves comments. He leaves interesting, odd, enigmatic at times, comments, so I wandered my way over to his blog, Caveat Emptor, which I have now added to my bloggy love list.

To say that he writes well is an understatement. He writes REALLY well. It is artful. And thoughtful. And funny. He kind of reminds me of my brother, who has been woefully lax in his blogging - dude, what's up with that. But in the bizarre yet not totally off track line of thought Scott takes, he is very much a kindred spirit. I haven't gotten very far in reading past posts on his blog, but I have to say I enjoyed the one about hobgoblins. First off, he blogged about HOBGOBLINS. Just mentioning them makes me happy. But his thoughts on loneliness and making a three cornered hat, feather included, were on point.

So check him out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cereal in my coffee cup and stickers on my butt

Today it is raining. RAAAAIIIINING. I woke up and everything hurt. And my brain was foggy. I put cereal in my coffee cup. I stood there looking at the cereal saying "What the hell..." and then Bob got mad at me because I wasn't responding to him when he was talking to me. I could barely think and he needed me to consider if the dogs needed to be walked in the rain. FOCUS Michele. Yes, they did need to be walked, at least Gus, who has issues about pooping in the back yard. Generally he finds that offensive and insists on being walked down the street to do his business.

Then I found I had part of the alphabet stuck to my butt because Cooper has been going around sticking letter stickers to everything, including the couch and I sat on some. Fortunately I found them BEFORE I got to work.

A is for ass
B is for butt
C is for coccyxes (that is a good scrabble word)
D is for derrier
E is for enourmous derrier
F is for fanny
G is for gluteous maximus
H is for hiney
I is for incredibly large hiney

Ooofdah, that is as far as I can get right now.

Perhaps more coffee will help, but I doubt it. Cooper's class was invited to bring in something about their Thanksgiving traditions from home. Short of sending in a full turkey dinner, I had nothing to send in with him. Bob suggested sending in a football, since that is one of Bob's traditions, watching football on Thanksgiving day. My mother has these candles that are little Pilgrims she is going to send to me, which are the exactly the same as ones we had when I was growing up that we put out on the table for dinner. I remember the one shaped like a turkey too, but I think that was at my grandparents house. Maybe next year I will have candles I can send in with him to show his Thanksgiving tradition. The ones in the picture are available at the Vermont Country Store, that bastion of all things retro and bizarre from your childhood. LOVE IT.

Tomorrow is a half day and then we have off til Monday. I will say that it is a good thing I am not a stay at home mom. It is really really easy to stay in your jammies or sweats and not shower til 2pm when I don't have to be at work. No wonder my neighbor is always complaining about not having showered. And it is also good that this blog doesn't come with smellavision, so when I write an entry on Friday, you won't be able to tell if I have showered or not. I promise not to blog until I have showered. Just for you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The chance to make a complete fool of myself gets closer

One week from today our jazz group has its first "gig". AAAGGGHHH. We have two scheduled - one on the 1st and the second on the 8th. Both on campus. The first one will be for the residents at the retirement community attached to our college. We were one of the first colleges in the country to create a retirement community as part of the campus community. The residents take classes, teach classes, and tolerate musical performances by the student chorus and the faculty/staff jazz ensemble. And it is not that they are a captive audience. This isn't the nursing home part of the facility, this is the retirement part, they come and go as they please.

The second performance is more nerve wracking. We have a symposium at the end of each term in which students and staff present the projects that they have been working on all term. This performance will more likely draw other members of the college community I work with. Or worse, the students I have to say no to when they ask for more money. Sigh.

But we are ready. I have to sing higher than I probably should on Winter Wonderland, but otherwise feel really good about the other songs. We only have four prepared, so the pain will be brief.

The first song is How High the Moon, and I sing the first stanza. Which means the whole thing hinges on me being in tune for the very first note. Double sigh. It will be fine. Noooo problem. I need a nap.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas tradition or life long phobia, you make the call

I had asked in previous post what kind of traditions people have for holidays etc. I was looking through the myriad of holiday catalogs I am receiving (Yippee, it is catalog season again!)and found this guy I find him a bit disturbing. The idea is around the Christmas season the elf sits around during the day in the house, keeping an eye on all the children, to see if they are being good or bad, and then at night he 'disappears' back to the North Pole to make his report to Santa. Then the next day he 'reappears' in the house, in a different location. Obviously some parent interested in ensuring that his or her child needs therapy later in life and has a panic attack any time he or she sees Will Farrell as a giant elf, will help the Elf on the Shelf in his efforts by relocating him each day.

Perhaps even more disturbing is that the Elf on the Shelf has a Facebook page. I kid NOT: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Elf-on-the-Shelf/81229915524?ref=mf#/pages/The-Elf-on-the-Shelf/81229915524. There are 370 people who are fans of this creepy little guy. There is a website http://www.elfontheshelf.com/#/home and a new activity book.

The Bob said this might well have put his oldest son, Alex, right over the edge if they had tried this out when he was little. Alex lives on the edge of cracking on a daily basis as it is, being stalked by one of Santa's elves could have done possible irreparable damage.

So I think we will pass this year on this 'tradition'. Being spied upon by one of Santa's minions just doesn't seem, well, jolly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We'll be seeing you....

This morning Dave died. Jim called at a little before 9am to let me know. He was heading home to take care of the details. Dave will be cremated and buried in his family plot. He didn't want a service of any sort, but then we all know that the service or whatever happens next is never about the deceased, but for those left behind. Jim's plan is to have a gathering soon, at a friend's house for everyone to come together to share their memories of Dave. The thought is that everyone will bring a potted plant and when we leave we will take with us a different potted plant than the one we came with. Dave was all about plants. That was one of the things we bonded over. He gardened, loved roses and bleeding hearts and peonies (which I pronounce 'PEEuhnee' but he pronounced 'peeOHnee'). He grew potatoes in a large bucket. He was born and raised in Massachusetts and pronounced the word potato 'buhdayda'.

Two Christmases ago they came over to visit and he brought me a jade plant he grew from one of his own. I have in the last year given away at least two babies I grew from that plant, and will take one as my contribution and tribute to him. In my yard I have peonies that he gave me from his yard when we moved, as well as some bleeding hearts. I didn't think the bleeding hearts survived, but this year they bloomed with gusto.

I will miss Dave. Of the two of them he is the one I bonded the most with, the one I made contact with and made arrangements with. I don't know how much Jim will maintain contact with me. I don't know if he will stay in the area. If Jim had had his way, they would have moved to Arizona or New Mexico years ago. He is always cold, while Dave often could be found outside in just a t-shirt in October.

I am grateful for the time we had this week to say good bye, to let him know how much we loved him and would miss him.

After I hung up the phone this morning, Bob hugged me, and then Cooper ran in doing whatever he was doing, wearing his footy pajamas and Bob the Builder belt that has a box on it that sings several things from the series, pressing the button regularly so that the theme song "Bob the Builder, can we fix it, Bob the Builder, yes we can" kept playing over and over, and being goofy and silly and suddenly I was incapable of staying sad. There is such a joyful life force that comes out of a 2 year old, one that shines regardless of the loss and grief that was just being experienced in the kitchen moments before. I decided a more appropriate way to celebrate Dave's bigger than life personality was to enjoy Cooper's enthusiastic goofiness and chase him back into the living room to color (I drew a turtle), rather than stand in the kitchen and cry. There will be opportunities to cry later, but for the moment I chose to bask in the bright joy that is Cooper and remember Dave in happier times.

Happy travels Dave. Go with God and we will be seeing you again someday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Incessant calls

At some point our phones became less about our convenience and more about being a vehicle for annoying me to no end.

I am of the opinion that since I pay for the phone, it is my choice whether I answer it or not. And I am quite comfortable NOT answering the phone. I know some people who just can't ignore an ringing phone. I am not one of them.

I use my cell phone for almost everything. At one time we didn't even have a land line, but once Cooper arrived, we decided to get one again. But we never give that number out, so we almost never get calls on it.

Over the last two days I have been getting a call, probably once an hour at least from an 866 number. Actually multiple 866 numbers. I have not been answering them, and decided to Google one of the numbers. Apparently a lot of people have been getting calls from this one number. The comments indicate that even if you answer there often is no one there. They never leave a message.

What is really annoying about this is that I keep wondering whenever my phone rings if it is Jim calling to tell me that Dave has died. I went to see them again today, and Dave is definitely getting weaker. He doesn't really say anything anymore. Because he has always had a soft spot for my dog Gus, I took him a stuffed Schnauzer to keep him company. I took a bunch of tea to Jim. It is hard.

So I really want whomever is behind these phone calls to stop calling. I am not going to answer the phone, so just stop calling.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

These things I know...

I started a totally different blog earlier about the odd way people try to enter our building here, i.e. through the back door in my office, which is totally not the front of the building at all, but then got side tracked by my work study students' tale of woe.

She is a senior, and her boyfriend of 3 years, give or take, just broke up with her. He is not at this college, but in one of the maritime colleges. He is a senior too, and has pulled this stunt before, right around the same time of year last year. I think he is trying to get out of buying a Christmas present.

I have never met the young man, but I have been in this relationship. I have been the 22 year old whose boyfriend breaks up with her before the holidays, or just before graduating, or because he wants to date other girls, or because he can't handle the idea of it becoming more serious and maybe a real ADULT relationship, or the 39 year old divorcee whose husband also couldn't handle it when things got hard. I feel for her. It SUCKS.

Here is what I know though:

It will feel better. A week, two weeks, maybe a month down the road, it will feel better. You won't wake up and the first thing you think of is how much you hurt. You will eventually go for an entire day, then days, without thinking about him and what he is doing and with whom.

There are other fish in the sea. My mother, wise woman that she is, once told me there is no one Mr. Right. There are at least 12 Mr. Rights. Timing is everything. But that dude is not the only dude you can love and be loved by. There are more dudes.

We deserve better. If the dude has a habit of breaking it off or isolating when the poop hits the fan, when life gets difficult, that is not the dude for you, you deserve better. We all deserve to be cherished, loved, and adored. We deserve someone who will let us cherish, love and adore them. Partner is one of the best words in the English language. We deserve a partner. Not a dead weight we have to do all the heavy lifting for, but a buoy that helps support us and lifts us up.

22 years of age is REALLY REALLY REALLY YOUNG. There is a whole crap load of life ahead, and no time to waste worrying about a lunk who isn't there for us. She is about to make decisions about her career, grad school, LIFE and now she is unencumbered. The world is hers for the choosing. Go forth and celebrate. Make the life you want to have, don't accept the life that is handed to you by someone else.

She will be fine, and I think she knows she has her whole life ahead of her. It just hurts for now. I am sooo glad I am not 22.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today I had to drive to the Cape for a conference. At 9am it was snowing on the Cape. It is only November 19th! And now it is 26 degrees outside. That is cccccoooold.

While at the conference, which was being held by our state financial aid association, I may have agreed to run for the position of president of this association, the Massachusetts Association of Financial Aid Administrators. If I really did agree to this, I will be running against a woman who is at a much larger, high profile institution than mine, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. It is kind of a double edged sword. If I lose, then I don't have to commit the next three years to being the president-elect, then the president and then the past-president. But I will have LOST. If I win, I will have won, which will be great, but then I have to fulfill those three years worth of duties.

My friend Dave is still hanging in there. I didn't get to see them today, but will try to get over there tomorrow.

Otherwise, there isn't much to report.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Highs and lows

Well, the good news is that Cooper does NOT have lead poisoning. The second test came back at less than 2, which is super duper low. The Bob wants to know if that means the original test was bad, or that there was a clerical error. Whichever it is, the second test is OK by me.

The bad news is that my friend Dave is dying. He was my neighbor when I lived in my last house. He and his partner, Jim, are, as I have said before, like family. Dave has been fighting cancer, and was doing really well until his body began giving out because of infections caused by the lack of immune system after the chemo treatments. Last week Jim took him to the hospital because he couldn't get out of bed and was very confused. Since then it has been down hill. They have stopped all treatment and have put him on comfort treatment only, and they don't expect him to last more than a few days.

I had my doubts when he started having problems with infections. He is over 60 and diabetic, things that don't work in your favor when fighting a disease like cancer. Now he is losing the battle. And I am sad. Sad for what will be a loss in my life, but more for the loss in Jim's life. These two have been together for over 10 years, and had gotten married almost 4 years ago. When I asked Jim what happens next, he just couldn't answer. I meant right after Dave passed, what would happen - a service, a gathering? But Jim took it further, meaning he didn't know what he would do. What would life hold. He can't imagine life without Dave.

These guys have been such good friends to me. They were there when I moved in with the ex, befriended the guy that was my tenant (I owned a two family home at the time) and was there for me when I got divorced. They were there to pass judgement on my new guy, The Bob and deem him worthy. Dave was in charge of walking my dog, Gus, when I first got him. He would clear my driveway when he got the snowblower going. He made pear pie with the pears from the tree I planted in the back yard, and peach pie from the tree I planted just before I decided to sell that house. He was very put out when we decided to move, but they were there for us when the Bob and I got married, even giving us the gift of the JP for the service.

Dave has always been this force of nature, a larger than life guy who knew everything about everyone in the neighborhood. He knew all about my house, about the first family that ever lived in it, since he grew up next door. He hadn't been in the house in almost 20 years since he didn't get along with the woman my ex and I bought the house from, and was thrilled the first time I invited him in, so he could see how it had changed since the days when Margaret had lived there. She was the old lady whose family had built the house, and she was born in it and died in it. She was probably the one haunting my basement there.

I am trying not to be too sad about losing him until he is gone. I want to be there for both of them, and be as positive as I can for Jim. But wow does this suck.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This kid is funny

Tonight, as I was giving Cooper cuddles before putting him down for the night, he began making snoring noises. I asked him, "Are you pretending to snore?" and he grinned at me and said "Uh huh".

This is what I am enjoying the most about this age. The language skills are developing hourly it seems. The other day we were watching Bob the Builder, when Cooper announced "Not Bob, I want Mahqueen", meaning he wanted to watch the movie Cars. I did not give in, that time. We are reaching a limit with how many times we can watch that movie in a week. However, I think the pretend snoring was the result of watching Mater, the tow truck, snore in that movie. But it seems like every day he has new words to share, and is attempting to communicate constantly. Sometimes we have NO idea what he is saying, but after repeating "cooweeesterpshop" 12 times in a row, I am pretty sure he is saying something specific. It is exciting and exhausting all at the same time.

We went to Drumlin Farms again today. It was a good way to spend two hours, and get a walk in, looking at owls, chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, goats and two mules. Mules are BIG. I don't think I realized how big they are. Most people think "donkey" when they think of mules, but donkeys are smaller, and not the same at all. Mules are draft animals. They are larger than the average horse, with bigger ears. These guys are named Rufus and Titus. They are very nice and let us pet their noses. I LOVE horses. I love the big beautiful eyes, and the velvety noses. They are a lot of work and expensive to keep, so it is unlikely I will ever have one, but one can dream.

While there we bought Big Owl. Cooper's Meme, i.e. Bob's mother, sent him some money for his birthday, so we aquired a stuffed owl at the Audobon shop at the farm. Cooper is in love. He also checked out the tack room at the farm, where he could sit on a real saddle and check out horse shoes. Now if we would just let him drive the tractor...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trying not to FREAK OUT

Soooo, Cooper does not have any iron deficiency. Fabulous. Great. Wonderful. However, his lead test came back REALLY HIGH. What? How? What? The doctor called today, and when the doctor calls on a Saturday you know something is up. This is the actual pediatrician, not the nurse practitioner we saw in the office. He says yes, Cooper's lead test was high. It was 22. So he wanted us to go to the hospital and have the lab draw blood so they could do it again. The first test might have had a false result. But on the chance it was right, what could be the source?

Water, paint and soil. Those are usually the sources of lead in the environment. Cooper is not chewing on the window sills, but even if he was, all of them are natural wood with stain, not painted. We have had the kitchen counters done in the last year, but again, they were not taking out or redoing old painted counters or cupboards, the dust was mostly from partical board. If it was our water, theoretically his lead test a year ago should have shown elevated levels. We were using our water to make his formula after all. He has been out in the yard, but he hasn't been eating the dirt. He isn't even rolling around in the grass.

I went through the list of recalled toys where they have found excessive lead levels in the paint. We don't have any of them. Never did have any of them. That doesn't mean that all of the toys have been found, so it is possible he might have some. We won't know until Monday what the result of the second test is.

Cooper was most excellent during the lab visit. He sat in my lap and they had one person hold his arm while the other one took the blood. He was unhappy about them sticking a needle in his arm, but once the initial stick was over, he handled it well.

I hope the first test was wrong, because finding the source of the lead will be a pain AND the long term effects of lead poisoning are BAD. He certainly isn't showing any signs of excessive poisoning at this time, which is good. So for now all we can do is wait. And not freak out. Sigh.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Random musings

Calling all civil engineers - maybe you can explain something to me. Why, after months of scraping old asphalt off and grading and repaving highways, and making a lovely new road, do they then come back and dig it up again? I see this all the time. I don't have a long commute, but I do travel down Rt 128 two exits, and they have been repaving the highway since the summer. It was all done, or so I thought, and now there are spray pain lines and some other indications that they intend to dig it up again. Is it impossible to get things right BEFORE the new asphalt is laid? Or is this job security on the part of Mass DOT.

I missed blogging yesterday. Cooper had his 24 month check up - stats: he is 29lbs and 36 inches tall. She suggested he could put a few pounds on but isn't too skinny for his height. He is basically taller than all other kids in his age group but smack in the middle for weight. We also discussed that he is a self selected vegetarian - he refuses to eat meat. Her concern was that he might be iron deficient. They tested him for it, so we will find out. But what does one do about that with a 2 year old? I am gonna hazard a guess that he probably will refuse a vitamin supplement. And putting it in his milk probably won't work. When we had to give him iron as a baby it made him very gassy. I am not interested in introducing something into his diet that causes that problem again. I guess I will wait and see what they have to say.

Otherwise he wowed and amazed her with his stunning genius intellect by announcing he had a blue truck when she walked in the door. He did have a blue truck. He doesn't consistently name colors, and definitely won't do it on command, but randomly, when he is amused by such dazzling displays of intellectual superiority, he will whip one out for you - like PINK DIAMOND when working on one of his puzzles. And the crowd goes wild.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And the cupcakes were good too

I wanted to add to my commentary regarding the party yesterday. The cupcakes were quite a hit. Even with Cooper, who had to be told that it was a muffin, without frosting, in order to get him to eat it. If you gave him one with frosting and called it a cupcake, he would reject it. Go figure.

However, Liam, our little neighbor next door, LOVED the cupcakes. One picture is here is of Liam face planting into his SECOND cupcake. Carter, another little neighbor, was sitting next to me, and would steal pieces of the cupcake I was trying to get Cooper to eat. He is the other little blond guy in one of the other pictures.

This is the weird thing about Carter, Liam and Cooper. They were all born within 6 months of each other - in this order: Cooper, Liam and then Carter. They are all seriously blond, although there are no blond parents in the bunch. They look like they could be triplets. My theory is that we, the mothers, were all impregnated by the same alien. A blond haired, blue eyed alien. It is WEEEEIRRRD. I put another picture of Cooper and also Liam in there just for the full effect. They will all end up in school at the same time, in the same class if we all stay in the neighborhood and town. They will possibly be the unholy trinity. Good times.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Youuuuuu

Today was the big day. The big 2nd birthday for Cooper. We had a party at a pizza place, and for the first 30 minutes all was well with the world. Then Cooper decided he was DONE. Which meant that for the next hour one of us either chased him around or dealt with him in some way. In general I think it went well, given that we were dealing with kids from 3 years old to 11 months old.

Cooper received some great gifts from people, from a farm and some Lightening McQueen stuff (his dad and I) to the hands down favorite thing of the day - The Lift Off Rocket Ship. My friend Diana gave it to him, and when his dad pulled the paper off the box, Cooper said, and I quote "Ooooooooo". You can see him demonstrating the button that makes the rocket boosters light up and make a noise.

So it was a success. We managed to survive another year of being parents, and Cooper managed to survive being in our care. He has added so much to my life that I couldn't even have imagined two years ago. I am grateful for what I am learning about myself through this experience and am looking forward to what is to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have been home all alone today. Let me say that again: I HAVE BEEN ALL ALONE, at home today. Except for the dogs, but they sleep most of the time anyway. But alone time is so infrequent these days and it has been lovely.

I had planned on taking today off, since I get tomorrow off as a holiday - and not just because on that day in history, and by history I mean two years ago, I gave birth, but because it is Veteran's Day. So I decided to make it a long weekend. I dropped Cooper off with cupcakes to have an early birthday treat at school this morning, and then came home and walked the dogs. Then I watched the Ellen DeGenerous show. I like her show, but she has this annoying habit of having the same people on all the time. Even the Bob noticed this. Then I went into the attic to find some clothes I couldn't find in the other places I looked. Then I watched the Thomas Crown Affair, the ORIGINAL, with the hunky Steve McQueen. Alright, if he were around now, the smoking thing would totally kil any chance we had together, nevermind that whole being married to the Bob thing, but still. The whole time I was watching it I kept thinking how much he looks like Daniel Craig, the new Bond.

I also took a few bins of off season clothing to the basement where we store them, up above the water line. I had my iPod on so I could rehearse the songs we are singing in the jazz group. Do you know how hard it is to sing while walking up and down stairs? REALLY HARD. The good news is I found a random bin of clothes with the pants I was looking for, which I haven't worn since before I got pregnant, and THEY FIT. 2 more pounds have come off. WhooHOOOO.

I was talking to one of my work study students who is in the athletic training program about designing a new work out routine for me. I don't want to lose momentum. She said she just did one for her boyfriend, so I think I will have her do one for me. I told her my demands were simple: I have to be able to do it inside of 30 minutes and in my basement. The routine can include the following equipment: treadmill, rowing machine, hand weights and an exercise ball. And a stretchy band thing. No push ups. I have a shoulder issue and want to strengthen but not immobilize my shoulder. And continue to lose weight. According to the site Shaping America's Health I should weigh 35lbs less than I do right now. I find it HIGHLY unlikely that will happen, but another 10 would be faboo. You never know though. I won't put any expectations on myself except to keep working out to be healthy, and do things I enjoy so I don't HATE working out. If I lose those 35lbs, great. If only 10, great too.

Cooper's birthday is tomorrow!!! Yippeeeee! Balloons and CAKE. Spiced pumpkin cupcakes to be exact. I made them for school and they are delish. They will make an encore performance tomorrow. Pictures to follow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine...

Today, because we don't have enough creatures in our house, we brought home a fish. A betta fish to be exact. His name is Squishy, after the jelly fish that stings Dory in Finding Nemo. If Cooper had his way we would have come home from Petco with a bird. Which he calls owls. All birds are owls right now. He is a bit obsessed with owls. Our neighbor has one of those fake owls you use to scare other critters away. He moves it around the yard. I assume he thinks this keeps critters from getting used to the owl. I don't know if it works. It is sitting on his front porch right now. Cooper likes to find the owl when we take walks.

We also got new collars for the dogs. We got them from The Mod Dog, a site on Etsy. They were no more expensive than the ones you can get at Petco, and are way more fun. When I told the Bob the dogs needed new collars because the old ones were getting ratty, his only requirement was that Poncho, our little black schnauzer, get a "tough" collar. His is the one with the Jolly Rogers on it. They will look much more impressive once the schnauzers get their hair do's. Since schnauzers don't shed, they need to be groomed. Otherwise they just get shaggier and curlier and shaggier and can't see anymore because their eyebrows are hanging in their eyes like a sheep dog. I guess I need to make that appointment now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New look

I decided to try two new things on the blog today - a new template and advertising. I got accepted by BlogHer for their ad network, so you are now able to contribute to my shoe fund by clicking through and checking out their stuff.

Other than that my accomplishments today include washing the kitchen floor (which was quite distgusting with three dogs and RAIN) and going to Target to get stuff for the gift bags we will give out to the kids that come to Cooper's birthday party next week.

My little dude is turning 2. Yowza. I looked at him today while he was standing in the middle of the room and said "How tall ARE you little dude" because he seems very tall. In my very unscientific manner of sneaking up behind him with the yard stick and holding it up to him while he was distracted, he appears to be roughly 35 inches tall. I don't know what percentile that puts him in, but since he is skinny, it means his pants either are too short but fit in the waist, or are the right length and falling down.

That is my thrilling entry for today. I will include other entertainment by way of a picture of Cooper being Cooper.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Buying stock in Kleenex

Every so often I get a cold and I think to myself "Self, you should own stock in Kleenex". This time both the Bob and I have a cold. We are a snot festival here. I have even stayed home today so as not to disgust everyone I work with with all the sneezing and boogers. I did however take Cooper to school. I am no fool. If he is healthy he is going. Mommy needs the down time.

So I have sitting around blowing my nose and watching "Journey to the Center of the Earth" with James Mason and Pat Boone (by that I mean they are in the movie, not watching the movie with me), which is one of the most fabulously cheesy movies but I can't resist this genre of movies based on Jules Verne stories. I don't know which movie I saw first, 20,000 Leagues maybe, but they grabbed my imagination as a small child and I love watching them. Pat Boone quite smartly doesn't even try to do a Scottish accent in the movie despite portraying a Scotsman. It would have been half assed, like Kevin Costner's very very very misguided efforts at an English accent in that Robin Hood movie.

Anyway, aside from watching cheesy movies and blowing my nose, I have been thinking about traditions. Mr. Lady over at Whisky In My Sippycup recently blogged about not having grown up with traditions, so she made them up for her kids, like for what to do when a tooth comes out. I love traditions, at least the fun ones, and am trying to figure out what to do for Cooper. Our family traditions usually centered around holidays, and while some of them involved going to church - getting dressed up in a new outfit for Easter, going to the candlelight service at Christmas, we had the normal traditions. At least what I considered normal - we colored eggs a few days before Easter (with the old fashioned egg color that involved vinegar, which is why I can't smell vinegar without thinking of Easter), baking cookies around Christmas, putting up the tree Thanksgiving weekend once I was in college because that was when everyone was together. Note: we used to do a real tree, but between allergies and cost and my confliction with killing a tree for my own entertainment, we went to an artificial one and that is what the Bob and I have now. We would be allowed to open one present on Christmas eve, and then would get up to find new presents that Santa had delivered in the night. We carved pumpkins at Halloween (mom eventually bought two pumpkins so I could do the traditional triangle eyes and my brother could make his evil looking which I rejected flat out). Thanksgiving was a weird holiday for our family. Some of them don't actually like turkey, and my mom never liked cooking the dinner - I think it stressed her out trying to make it all come out at the same time. I love cooking a turkey dinner, and don't wait for Thanksgiving to come around to do it. I have this desire to bring together a bunch of friends and family every year, and have one of those Rockwell moments. We have joined other friends at their houses for dinner over the years, but involving family becomes difficult because mine lives far away, and unless we go to the Bob's mom, who lives in a two bedroom apartment which is kept at 90 degrees during "cold weather" we don't see her for this holiday. She doesn't like to travel.

I am saying all of this because I want traditions for our family. For Cooper. He may reject them eventually, as many kids do as they mature, but I look back on some of out traditions fondly. I have fond memories of being at my grandparents' house as a kid, in upstate NY for Christmas. Although getting there was always interesting. We would drive, and that is the snowbelt, so we often encountered a lot of snow. I remember snowbanks higher than the cars, not being able to walk in the snow in the yard because it was higher than my waist. Those trips were undoubtedly more stressful for my parents than I was aware of.

So...if anyone is reading this and has suggestions for traditions - not just for holidays but for any kind of event - I would like to hear about them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The post I would have written yesterday if it hadn't been my anniversary

Okay, now I can talk about the election. The momentous and history making election of the first African American president of the United States of America. Or should I say the first non-white dude-in-chief. It would have been just as momentous and historic if it had been an Asian or Hispanic or Eskimo or Native American person.

I am also VERY happy that this man is so eloquent. I have grown so tired of listening to President Bush sound like a bumpkin. Sound like bully. There must be certain entities at Yale that cringe every time the man in on TV or radio. I don't buy that it made him seem more approachable, more REAL. The person in charge of this nation should rise to the status that the position bestows, in all aspects of their demeanor, including how they address the country, how they conduct themselves privately and publicly. That person is the ultimate representative of us. I listen to Obama speak, I see him with his family, and I am motivated, I am inspired, I am proud of him and this country.

I heard on NPR students from a historically Black university debating what his achievement means to the Black community. One male student said he felt it DID make a difference, because now young people have a new role model to live up to. They don't just have rappers and gangsters but a PRESIDENT to identify with and be inspired by. And I loved that. There have been other positive African American role models to be sure, but this time this one was elected, both by the popular vote and the electoral college to the highest position in the land. That is something to look up to.

I was born in 1964 to parents who were products of the 50's. To their credit, I never heard racism or classism or any sort of discriminatory statements come out of their mouths growing up. They made sure I had a safe and healthy environment to grow up in, and when I made friends with people from different religions and ethnicities, they took it in stride. I never thought I shouldn't be friends with someone because of their color or their belief system.

I experienced desegration. Students were bussed to my elementary schools. I didn't understand why this was necessary, and was saddened by the answer. Then we moved just before high school to a suburb of Cleveland. I went to school the first day and said "where are the Black people, where are the Asian and Hispanic people?" We had one Black family in town. They had three sons, one of whom was in my class. I remember him talking in a class about how he would never date a girl from our high school because while he felt welcome in the community, he knew people would not be cool with that. He would never want to put a girl in that position, so he always dated girls from other cities who were also Black. That made me so sad, for him and us as a community.

I am happy to say that we seem to have at minimum turned a corner. And the dialogue is fabulous. As a country we are talking about this, and for the most we are celebrating it. Some will have a hard time accepting this, and may even try to ruin this moment. I hope for all of our sakes that no one succeeds in those efforts. I hope that Obama and his administration are given the oppportunity and support to truly make a difference, to bring about the change that we need, literally and figuratively. We all need this, Black, White, Hispanic etc. We all need to move forward, feel renewed and hopeful and truly feel that there are no boundaries based on race, gender or religion. That anything is possible.