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: There are 370 people who are fans of this creepy little guy. There is a website 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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Anniversary

I know that we just witnessed history, history I would like to think I participated in bringing about with my one vote and my one voice. I am very happy with the results of yesterdays' elections, both nationally and locally. I have more to say on this topic but I have, quite seriously, more important things to say today.

Today is my 3 year anniversary in marriage to The Bob. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! We met in April, 2003 through Yes, I met my husband ONLINE. And I don't care who knows it. I had separated from the ex in June 2002 and spent 8 months flying solo and being happy to be alone, living in the quiet of my house with the two cats. But at some point in March I decided I was ready for a date. Ready to sit at dinner feeling girly and attractive and enjoying, hopefully, the company of a dude. That is all I wanted. A date. But how to find a dude for a date. Even in the Boston area, this is not as easy as you might think. I work at a college, but no good candidates existed. About 5 of my friends had been successful in finding significant others through, but up until that point I had not been ready for rejection on such a global level as I imagined one could experience putting oneself out there for all to view and not contact.

Eventually I was ready. I went to my friend Jen's house. Jen had found Dave on Match and was very happy. Our friend Kerry had found John. So Jen I and the other Michele (who had not at that time had any success finding her soul mate on any of the dating sites and she had tried them ALL) broke open a bottle of wine and wrote my profile. Then that weekend Jen came over and took some pictures of me so I had current, realistic pictures of me. I believe in truth in advertising. Almost. I listed myself as divorced instead of separated. Jen recommended this because men would be afraid of getting to know me if there was a chance I might reunite with the ex.

Once my profile was posted I spent two weeks feeling like a complete loser. I contacted guys, and either got no response or no thank you's. A few guys contacted me. Here is the weird thing - I was 39 when I went on Match. I listed my age preference for men from 36 - 50. Not one but THREE men over the age of 50 who were special education teachers contacted me. Who knew that was a cohort to which you could appeal. Then the fateful day came when I heard the BING from the computer indicating I had gotten an email. The email was from The Bob. I went to his profile. He had taken his own pictures, so one of them was of half of his face. But he was cute, and his profile indicated he was a dad, wasn't necessarily looking to have more kids, didn't smoke (deal breaker for me if you do) and a runner. A runner? Sigh. I am so NOT a runner. Was he one of those fanatical runners? As it turns out he is not fanatical, he just likes to run. He has done triathlons, but doesn't force the whole running thing on others.

We exchanged emails, then talked on the phone, then I was thinking we would meet for drinks, and he went for the kill and suggested dinner. We met and it was like I had known him my whole life. He was comfortable to be with, like that sweatshirt you always put on when you want to be cozy. I think we saw each other every day for the next few days and pretty soon I took my profile off Match and was done looking. I never went on any other dates, and now we are married. And have a child and three dogs together. And it is great.

The July before I met him, the month after my ex moved to AZ, I was in New Orleans for a conference. I know, New Orleans in JULY? Yes it is hot, yes it smells funny, but it was an interesting trip. Great food and one psychic lady who read my palms in some square one afternoon who predicted The Bob. I went there with a friend, and picked this lady at random to do a reading. She was this tiny, wrinkled lady of indiscriminate origin. She might have been black, Hispanic, or some combination of a lot of things. She looked in my palms and said I had suffered a great loss, felt a deep sense of betrayal. TRUE! She said I would meet someone new, someone tall with dark hair (yes, the tall dark and handsome man we all hope to meet) who is a family man, who will be The One. I would meet him after the new year. I would feel like I knew him. And we would have a long, happy life together. I completely forgot about all of that until one day after I had begun dating The Bob, my friend who had been with me during the reading said "He's the guy! Madame whatshername predicted him!" and I was all "Holy Cosmic Boyfriend Predictions you are RIGHT".

Psychic palm reading predictions aside, he is the best guy I know, and is the best dad I have known. I can't think of anyone else I would like to spend the rest of my life with as a partner and friend. Happy Anniversary Bob. I love you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And we're off...

Election Day 2008 is here. My civic duty is done. I voted before going to work today. It didn't take too long although the lines were definitely longer than last year. While MA will probably end up for Obama, since we seem to choose democrats for president (although not necessarily for governor, weird) we do have three touchy issues on our ballot this year.

1. Whether or not to reduce the state income tax to 0. Let's go ask the other states that have no income tax how that is working out for them. Florida? How are those public services going? Does anyone want to be able to afford a college education in this state? How about decent teachers in the public school system? This is a bad idea. We can't afford it. But last time it was on the ballot it got 45% approval. Sigh.

2. Whether or not to reduce the crime of having less than an ounce of marijuana from a felony to a fine. I am conflicted. Does this particular problem clog the courts and the prisons? Probably. But is this the right solution? Will it have unexpected repercussions from a drug dealing perspective? My friends from Canada are all like "Oh just vote yes. There are worse crimes out there that need more attention" but they come from a country with a whole different relationship to the ganja than we do.

3. To eliminate dog racing in the state. Well I am all for that. I think animal racing in general is a bad idea. But dog racing is so hard on the animals. There have been some ads on TV showing the people that would lose their jobs if this is approved. They say things like "I will lose my home" or "I didn't do anything wrong" or "I have worked there all my life". And maybe those things are true. But dogs, living beings are being mistreated and abused. It is sad. Less than 200 people would eventually lose their jobs as it is phased out. How many dogs will die if it continues?

I almost got to be on TV after voting. The local channel 7 dude was there, but he just finished interviewing someone as I came out, so I missed my chance. Oh well.

If you haven't voted, and you are registered - GO VOTE. Even if the presidential election doesn't motivate you, and it should, your local propositions are too important to ignore. GO VOTE.

Monday, November 3, 2008

To not to...

My son cracks me up. He does silly things, and has a funny sense of humor. Recently, as we watched the movie CARS for the 12465th time, he began repeating a line said by Mater, the tow truck. When Mater is about to let Lightening McQueen out of the impound lot, the sheriff says to Mater "What did I tell you about talking to the accused?" and Mater's response is "To not to" in a funny southern/Texas accent. At which point Cooper turned to me and said "to not to" in almost the same accent.

Whaaaat? I laughed my butt off the first time he did it. Which is probably why he continues to do it now. He caught on to the idea that making mommy laugh is good.

I admit to being a magpie. I love repeating things that people say if they are said in a particularly entertaining way, like with an accent. I have a very hard time not responding to a person who speaks with an accent in the same accent. I have to make a conscious effort so that the person doesn't think I am making fun of them. But it is HARD. I have an aunt and uncle who live in Texas. They have lived in the south my entire life, although my uncle was born and raised in upstate NY. My aunt is originally from West Virginia, I think. It might be Virginia. Or Georgia. Anyway, the south. Both of them have heavy southern accents, as does my cousin, their son. When my uncle calls me, I immediately know who it is. He drawls my name out "Micheeeeeeeele, it's Uncle Daaaavid". Really. I hadn't figured that out. But I have such a hard time not falling into the same accent. British accents are worse. And it isn't just the accent, it is the vernacular. Calling an elevator a lift, or the TV the telly. I would be that obnoxious person who would immediately begin speaking that way if I ever lived in England. Like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow.

My brother is the master of accents. It is most hilarious to hear him do a German accent, like the 3 little pigs from the Shrek movies. His son, my nephew is pretty good at it too. So perhaps Cooper has a little of that DNA. Time will tell.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

National Blog Posting Month

I am a day late with this, but I decided to try my hand at this National Blog Posting Month thing this month. A blog posting a day for a month.

Halloween was a good time. We went to a friends' house after work to socialize with some other kids and eat. Cooper is funny around large groups of kids he doesn't know. He is king of the classroom at school, but he plays it cool and quiet when confronted with kids he is unfamiliar with. He was totally uninterested in pizza, but ate blueberries. Does he know how to party or what. Then he hung out in the playroom, enthralled with the trucks his buddy Parker had. Parker is 4 months older than Cooper, and spent the whole time being upset about all these kids touching his stuff. When it got to be 6pm, we told Cooper it was time to go. He had a major meltdown about having to leave all the trucks at Parker's house. And then another friend had a meltdown because he was being told he had to stop opening and closing and otherwise hanging off of the baby gate. Then other kids were crying for no apparent reason. It was time for everyone to go home. We got back to the house and Cooper checked out. He was ready for bed. So no real trick or treating occured, but that is okay since he doesn't even eat candy yet.

He did however, try and LIKE tomato soup this weekend. Not just plain tomato soup, but tomato and red pepper soup. He saw us eating it and when I offered it to him, he tried it. He made a funny face, but came back for more. THIS IS HUGE. He never tries new food. He may never eat it again, but he tried it!

Today I had to work. Ugh. On a Sunday. It was open house for potential new students. It is a fun day for everyone, except for the fact that I had to stand for 5 hours in heels. While I was gone, he hung out with dad, and apparently tried out the treadmill. And liked it. That is a weird little kid.

But maybe in the middle February when we can't get outside for some exercise this will save our sanity. You never know.