Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hope...


Photo by my dad.

I hate New Year's. There, I said it. I really do. It is a very arbitrary point in time that someone picked to say "this is when we begin counting the new calendar". I am not a night owl either, so the idea of staying up until 12am to say "whoohoo it's a new year" doesn't appeal to me. Even if it were possible, which it isn't.

I also hate resolutions. No, that isn't true. I hate resolving once a year to a bunch of unrealistic ideals. It probably works for some people, but I find that it is better for me to make it an ongoing process and a more positively focused process.

All that being said, because the winter solstice has come, and we have a blue moon for the new year, it is a good time to reflect on how my life is right now, and to launch into the universe my hopes for the near future. Rather than make resolutions to fix things or do things differently, better, whatever, I want to make a list of Hope.

Top of the list is hope for the Bob to experience professional success. Whether that means his real estate ventures becoming a realistic method of earning income and being successful, or finding a software engineer position, or something else entirely, I am hopeful for him to experience success.

I hope to see a relatively uneventful resolution to the "I can't really talk about it" work issue for me.

I would like to visit someplace abroad. Like Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. They are a bit of motherland for me, on both sides of my family, and I would like to visit all of them. Or just one of them. It would be great if it could happen this next calendar year, but I will be happy if it happens within 5 years. See hope number 1.

I hope for continued health for myself and my family, immediate and extended.

I hope for a complete lack of home repair issues. Other than getting the trim painted on the outside of the house this year. It really needs it.

I hope to continue to learn from Cooper, as he grows and learns and allows me to see the world brand new through his eyes, heart and mind.

I hope to read a book from cover to cover in less than 5 months. I LOVE reading, but have found it hard to maintain the focus to finish a book, what with all the dancing and pretend train rides and puzzle doing, playdough playing and drawing I am required to participate in these days. Meh, I will have plenty of time to read when I am the mother of a teenager.

I hope to find a creative spark in my work. I feel I could be better at it, more inspired. I realize that yes, I am talking about financial aid, but still, it has potential!

I hope to bake more pies. I baked that one, and haven't tried again, other than with prebaked crust. I love pie. I should have it in my life more often.

I hope that everyone finds one thing to be hopeful for in 2010, and that they achieve it. Here is to a hopeful and joyful new year.

Update: Because I don't know what the hell I am doing, I posted this with an old date on it, when I began writing it. Now I have reposted it with todays date. So if you see this more than once, so sorry. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in review

Christmas was a good day. There was a roast chicken and one step son and one happy kid who got a new scooter. Bob got stemless wine glasses, because he keeps knocking over regular stemmed ones. I got cooking stuff: The Cooking Light cook book, a mandoline, and a chopping thing. We watched more Christmas specials this week than I ever knew possible. Someone is decidedly obsessed with Santa. That is not a bad thing.

It is a whopping 17 degrees today, at noon. It was warmer at 6am. We are not leaving the house. Well, Bob is, to show some houses to this client he has been working with. But Cooper and I are staying put.


Me, Christmas Day

TOO MANY STUFFED ANIMALS



The new scooter and helmet


The tree this year

Elf ears from our visit to Santa

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Things I just do not get

Robin Thicke. He is a three time Grammy award winning musician, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why. It is like Tom Jones and Smokey Robinson and Justin Timberlake got blended in a gene splicer. He sings in this weird falsetto, looks like a hairy lounge lizard performer. I just don't get him. He is really the son of Alan Thicke, who is fabulously cheesy and I totally DO get.

Why little boys, or grown up ones for that matter, like Spider Man. I grew up reading my brothers comic books. I know the REAL Batman, not the campy one that George Clooney or Val Kilmer or Michael Keaton portrayed. I read all of the Spider Man comics he had. And cannot understand WHY anyone, Mary Jane especially, put up with that whiney indecisive sorry excuse for a superhero. He has these awesome powers, and yet is all "Oh noooo, someone I love might get huuuurt if I use them" or won't suck it up and tell MJ that he is Spidey, grow a set and tell her he loves her and let HER decide what she is willing to buy into or not. And yet, he is popular. My son has discovered him. It started with some of the boys in the neighborhood dressing up as Spidey for Halloween. Somehow he glommed onto him as interesting and now I can't even take him to Barnes and Noble without him finding EVERY single Spider Man comic, picture book or coloring book in the kids section. It is like he has his own version of Spidey sense.

Brussel sprouts. Tiny cabbages. I am just saying: BLECH.

How someone can hear "DO NOT DO XXXX" said in tone that most people who know me, and even some who don't, do not ignore, and ignore it. It has no power over a certain 3 year old sometimes. In fact, he will more likely turn and stand slightly taller and say "NO" to me. In the words of Marvin the Martian "He makes me sooooo angry". But this goes back to that whole burgeoning sense of self and understanding of cause and effect. That he does get. Stand up to The Mama, and you WILL lose that toy, TV time, or get a major time out in your room with no books.

What the hell Ray Liotta was thinking when he took the role in In the Name of the King. He can be such a good bad guy, but WOW this movie was bad. I mean, he attacked Jason Stratham with a bunch of books. BOOKS??? Spinning around him in the room, like a big literary tornado. Then four of them grabbed his arms and legs, one on each, holding him hostage. Seriously, what were they thinking when they wrote this script. "Hmmm, we need some really big, stunning end of the movie battle between Ray and Jason...what WILL we use, what will we use...HEY! The room is full of BOOKS. Let's get them to all fly off the shelves and spin around him in a maelstrom of leather and parchment. THAT IS SO COOL! And FIERCE!"

That is just a smattering of the things I have been pondering these past few days while we have been off. Christmas was great. Cooper totally got it. He was ready on Christmas Eve when I got him up from his nap and he immediately asked if Santa had come. Poor thing had to still go back to bed in four hours and sleep through the night before Santa was going to have come. Then his older brother Nick came over the next day which is always entertaining because Cooper adores him and Nick has no idea what to do with him.

Hope you all had a great holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A rough week for grandparents

If you have grandparents, or elderly parents, give them a hug and tell them how much you appreciate and love them. Unless of course you don't love or appreciate them for some really good reason.

So far, since this weekend, two of my friends/coworkers have had grandparents die. First they fell down and broke a hip. Then they were dead within 48 hours. Both were quite old and had been in assisted living, and one had Alzheimer's. But they went from being alive to not alive quickly.

It is particularly hard to deal with this kind of loss around Christmas. It isn't the same if it happens around the 4th of July. Something about Christmas, the family togetherness, the memories that we have formed over the years, both good and bad, makes this a poignant time of year to begin with. Add in the loss of a family member, no matter how old and infirm they were to begin with, and it is a recipe for increased sadness.

For my one friend this means rather than having to travel down to Long Island for the weekend, her entire family is descending upon her here. This is where her grandfather lived, and was in a home. Up until last night she was not worrying about cleaning her house or vacuuming up dog hair, but rather was just packing a bag and throwing out the perishables from the fridge. Now she has to think about dog hair AND grocery shopping. Maybe I will make a lasagna for her to have to feed people. Something like that. Or offer to vacuum and dehair the house. Merry Christmas, here is a lasagna and a free pass to no dog hair. Hey, put that in MY stocking while you are at it.

So gather your loved ones close, even if they annoy the hell out of you and cannot go for five minutes without making a comment that makes you want to scream and stomp on things. Hug them and appreciate them for all the good things they are. Maybe they are funny, and eventually say something that makes you laugh. Or they bake great cookies and always share. Or they are there for you in your time of need no matter how many times you need them. Most people are good people on some level, and we are blessed for having known them. Tell them you love them and give thanks. You just never know when they won't be there anymore.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Light...





The theme over at the Women's Colony is light today. Some of these pictures have appeared here recently but here they are again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Sunday


Someone got a little too enthusiastic with the snow blowing today.



We have at least a foot of snow on the ground, and it is still falling. Light, fluffy sparkly snow. If it doesn't rain or get too warm in the next week, we will have a white Christmas.



This is what is going on in my living room today. Happy cozy Sunday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Very distracted

I am having a hard time focusing on writing something entertaining and witty. Or just factual. There is something brewing at work, which I no longer have much control over and the end result will very much lie in the hands of external parties and their interpretation of events. That is about as specific as I can get. I am not even sure I will ever be able to write about the events that are going down from a legal standpoint.

What I will talk about is people. And relationships. I learned early on in life to make acquaintances fairly easily. I am that person who can talk to a total stranger on a plane for 5 hours and feel like I actually got to know a bit about that person. I can walk into a cocktail party like I did with Bob the other night, a room full of people I don't know, and begin engaging with people about pretty much anything. I don't need to know much about a topic to do that, I just need to be good at asking questions and getting people to engage. And I am good at that. Side note: Got to meet Joe Shortsleeve at this party, who is a local newscaster. He is married to a real estate agent that works in a related office to Bob's. He is ruthless at the Yankee Swap, but a nice guy.

Back to my thoughts: What is harder is making friends. People I consider trustworthy and worth the time and energy it takes to build a relationship. Moving as much as we did when I grew up, I learned it was hard to leave those friendships behind, so I became even more selective about the people I call friend.

Over the 20 years of my professional life I have met people that I call friends. Some of them I have known for almost the entire time I have been doing this work. For the most part these are people I would trust with almost anything. We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, dating, second marriages, children, loss and joy, you name it. They are part of my life and for that I am grateful.

That is what I have to say. These people are friends and I am a better person for that in many cases.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Maybe I'll Get Voted Off the Island

In a week we will be off for the holidays. My college very kindly closes between Christmas Eve and New Years Day as does Cooper's day care center. So every year I get roughly 10-14 days depending on when the holidays fall to be home. With my child and husband. And three dogs. 24 hours a day of blissful togetherness.

Please come get me. Please. Even for just one day.

If the weather is OK and we can get outside, it might not be so bad, but holy cat poop on a cracker, the age of three is beginning to wear me out.

Contrarian: a person who takes a contrary (opposite or incompatible with another) position or attitude. See COOPER.

Todays' list of things we didn't agree with included but is not limited to:

Getting out of bed when Mom said it was time; the amount of time it took for either parent to get Pinky and the Brain loaded into the DVD player; where the tree skirt for the Christmas tree should be; sitting vs. standing on the couch; getting dressed to go to school; the shirt mom picked out to wear to school; going to school vs. staying home and watching Pinky and the Brain all day; getting into the car seat in a timely manner; walking into school while holding mommy's hand in the parking lot; walking not running up the ramp to the door; going IN the door; walking down the steps to our room; stopping at our cubby to put our stuff away; going into our room; staying in our room and not running around the halls like a mad man.

I got to the office and wondered if anyone would notice if I began drinking Bailey's in my coffee.

I love my son. I do, I really really do. And I love when he tells me, completely spontaneously that he loves me. With a big grin and a hug. But I really really really hate arguing with someone all day. I hate negotiating EVERY little thing. I get this is all about control, and establishing and testing boundaries and his little burgeoning sense of self. I don't want to squash that, but I also don't want to feel mentally beat up at the end of the day. I don't want to keep watching the clock and calculating how long we have until nap or bedtime. I want to ENJOY the time I have with him, not count it down.

So we are going to find things to do that week we are all off. Play dates with friends. Maybe a trip to the Children's Museum or the Science Museum downtown. Because I really do want to enjoy and treasure this time, when he still wants to hang out with mom and dad and gives us hugs and thinks we are funny. Soon enough he will be a teenager and oh dear god in heaven I am too old NOW to be the mom of a teenager. I still have 10 years to go before he officially is one. Whimper.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ho ho ho


Cooper's visit to Santa went really well this year. We went as soon as the mall was open, and we only had 5 people in front of us. Cooper could barely wait to get to Santa. He was sitting on the bench before Santa was done saying goodbye to the kid before us. And when asked what he would like for Christmas, Cooper told him "Toys" and then "A dinosaur."

When I asked him earlier this week, his answer was "New stuff." I guess that used stuff needs to go back.

Our tree is finally up too. Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tis the season...

It is that time of year. It is a time of great excitement and just a little anxiety. The employees of United States Postal Service are among the most popular people on the planet at this time of the year. In their delivery bags they carry some of the most precious and highly anticipated mail of the year: The college acceptance/denial letter.

Get the big packet, you are IN! Get the thin, number 10 sized envelope, you are not.

High school seniors around the country are waiting. They are waiting for the answer that leads to the next Big Step in their lives.

I have been in the business of higher education for over 20 years. I have worked at almost every kind of college there is with the exception of a for-profit like the University of Phoenix. I have seen students successfully navigate the years of hard work, tests, reports, extracurricular activities and social ups and downs at a community college, a 4 year state college, a very selective and competitive 4 year private college, and a few in between 4 year privates. Here is what I have to say about college:

You can have a good time, and be academically successful, and then become a productive citizen with a job by going to ANY college. Sure some colleges do some things better than others. If you have a yen (and the talent) to be a doctor, you should definitely go to a college as an undergraduate that will give you the undergraduate degree and experience that will lead to getting into medical school. Do not go and be a philosophy major, unless you plan on getting a PhD and not an MD. If you want to be an astronaut, go to a school which offers a good engineering or aerospace program. Do not become a History major.

But aside from programs that are very specialized and require certain skill sets and talents, most college students will succeed not because of the college they attend, but because of what they bring to the college.

Be prepared to do the work. No one hands you your grades. You are the only person responsible for how well or poorly you do in your classes. Sure, some professors are better than others, but if you apply yourself and figure out how to do the work they way the instructor needs you to do it, you will succeed.

Be prepared to participate. Join a group, a team, become part of the community. Build sets or be part of the cast for a play. Sing in the chorus. Join student government. Do something that gets you out of your room and involves you in the life of the college. The friends and connections you make there will last a lifetime.

Work. Get a job on campus. Studies are clear - students who engage on campus as a work study student do better academically, persist and graduate on time, and build a network of relationships with staff and faculty that last well beyond the four or so years they spend at college and enrich their lives. I have personally been a reference for at least 5 of my work study students for either jobs after college or for grad school applications. Those connections are invaluable.

Don't stress about your major, unless you are ready to specialize out of the gate. I changed my major once as an undergrad, and then never did work in the field I got my degree in. I had to get a masters degree, but that is OK. I worked that out as I went along. Very few people figure out at age 17 or 18, or even 40 sometimes, what they want to be when they grow up. Start by taking your core classes and maybe a few major specific classes to figure out whether that is the right direction for you if you don't know.

Money. If you get offered some money to go to college, GREAT! Good for you. But you cannot count on getting enough to pay for all of it. You just can't. As the economy continues to be in the toilet, and people are still being laid off or losing income, colleges are being challenged to stretch their own limited resources even further to assist students with the cost of an education. At my college we offer quite a bit of money to our students, over 16 million this year for 1500 students in just institutional aid. But many of our students still borrow to pay for college. Be prepared and educated about your options for paying for school, and be prepared to make the hard choice. If a college is just out of your reach financially, it may not be the right decision to go there. You might have to finance too much and come out with too much debt in the end. Maybe some other college, with a similar program or offerings that costs you less is going to meet your needs just as well.

Consider commuting or going to a local community or state school for a year or two and then transfer to a bigger or more selective college for your final years. You might be delaying your ultimate dream for a bit, but in the end, you still get a diploma with that last college's name on it, and you still have the opportunities you were looking for, for less money.

Choices. It is all about the choices. You need to own this decision and be educated about your options. In the end, it is you the student who makes the biggest difference in how you experience college. What do you bring to the table, how much do you invest of yourself and how hard do you work. Where you go is not nearly as important.

Here is hoping that you all have fat envelopes in your mailboxes and nothing but exciting options to weigh.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My dog is trying to kill himself...

We have three dogs. Buster the Beagle - a pain in the ass dog who sheds everywhere, breaks into the garbage regularly despite all attempts to prevent it. He is like Houdini, only he is an expert at breaking INTO things instead of out. Gus the Elder Schnauzer - he was my first dog, and is gay. No really. He is the Liberace of Schnauzers. I used to put fun coats on him in the winter and he would prance like he was in a Pride parade. Then there is Poncho. Poncho is also a Schnauzer, and is Gus' brother, but they are from litters two years apart. Where Gus is sensitive and cuddly, Poncho is all growls and yapping and a spaz. He is also trying to kill himself.

Two summers ago, we were sitting in the dining room eating breakfast with Cooper, back when he would sit in a high chair and actually eat food, when we heard Chad, our neighbor at the time, yell our names. Bob went to the back yard and found Poncho flailing around in the pool. He had somehow fallen in. Who knows how, but he did. Now he could have just walked out of the pool, there are steps that were two feet from where he was scrabbling at the wall, but none of the dogs have figured this out. We put them in the pool every summer to try and teach them how to get out without our help, but they all just go directly to the wall and flail. So Bob fished him out. He was soggy but fine. Thank goodness Chad had been in his own back yard with his dogs and had seen him in the pool or we could have had a very wet and very dead dog.

Two nights ago I was upstairs putting Cooper to bed when I hear Bob arguing with Poncho, and then he says he needs me. I get down there to hear him say Poncho has a wine cork stuck in his throat. Cooper had been playing with about 5 corks earlier, sorting them in tupperware. I guess Poncho got one and began chewing on it when Bob tried to take it from him. Poncho refused to let go of it, and then in a split second, got it turned the long way in his mouth and it moved down to the top of his throat, threatening to put a plug in his esophagus and suffocate him. I picked Poncho up, turned him face down to the floor and shook. The cork fell down into his mouth, but Poncho locked onto it again instead of dropping it. This thing almost killed him, but he had to hang onto it. I said "Bring me The Spray." We keep spray bottles with vinegar and water in them, for cleaning counters or spills and for spraying the dogs when they are misbehaving. They hate it, and it doesn't hurt them, although they do end up smelling like salad dressing. I got right up in his face with the spray and gave him a snoot full. He dropped the cork.

I can't wait to find out what he will do next. This is why I refuse to put tinsel on our Christmas tree. All of our dogs eat the random kleenex or napkin if they can get their paws on them. Then you get to find it later when they poop. They will eat almost anything. Tinsel butt is not my idea of festive holiday decorating.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On weddings and goggles

The wedding was BEAUTIFUL. The Thayer is a quirky antique hotel with dark wood beams and creepy hallways in the old part of the hotel. I was in the newer part, but the sign in the elevator made me laugh. The buttons go from the basement to the 4th floor, but there are two more floors above that. The instructions say to get to the 5th and 6th floors, press "M" and follow the signs. Then you wander through these hallways to another elevator that takes you up to those floors. I kind of hoped the instructions would say you had to press "M" in combination with either "3" or "4" so you could pass through the space/time continuum to the other dimension where the 5th and 6th floors resided. I don't have any good pictures of my own to show you, since it is hard to get pictures when you are in the wedding, but I have borrowed some from other guests who got busy posting on Facebook. I am standing in between the rabbi and Laura, the lovely bride in this shot. In the event you didn't figure it out, it was a Jewish ceremony. I have never participated in one or attended one before, and found it very meaningful and beautiful. Laura made this wedding happen. She made her own dress, all of the bridesmaids' dresses, bought 4000 candles and all of the glassware to dispay it, designed the table markers etc. Her family put it all together on the day of the wedding. She has four brothers and their assorted significant others to call on, plus her parents. They were like an army making this work. This picture is of the ceremony room beforehand. The room where the cocktail hour took place was a duplicate of this room, with candles all down the windows. She bought out IKEA of every piece of stemware and candles I believe. More candles. The lovely couple during their first dance. You can't truly appreciate this dress, but it was gorgeous. This is what Laura does though, makes dresses. Well, she is a financial aid professional by day, and a Super Seamstress by night. She made my wedding dress and another dress for me once upon a time. It was a great weekend, and I finally feel mostly recovered today. I didn't even stay up that late but it was go go go the whole time we were there.

I am so happy for them. They waited a long time to be together, and had to get through being bicoastal and one of them getting divorced before they could come to this point in their lives. I see a long and happy life together for them. They are each others' ying and yang, both a support and a challenge to each other, helping them grow and become more than they were before they came together.

And that is what I would have written in the guestbook, but I forgot to sign it. So when you read this Laura, you can print it out and put it in the book!

And finally, to make your day complete, a video of my child from yesterday morning, wearing swim goggles to school. He has taken to finding something he wants to take with him to school these days. Last week he brought a saxophone, and his stuffed Rudolph, this week so far it has been swim goggles. He is random and funny and I love it.
video

Friday, December 4, 2009

Congrats to The Bob

So, before I go offline until Sunday (the Thayer Hotel at West Point, built in 1926, does not have WiFi or even access in the rooms, whatEVER) I needed to announce that The Bob is closing on his first real estate deal today. FINALLY!! I am so proud of him for sticking with this and not getting too discouraged. It is not a huge money deal, but that is probably good for a first time deal, so the stress wasn't too overwhelming.

Soon enough there will be The Bob, Real Estate Mogul business cards to be had.

Congratulations my dude. And don't miss me too much while I am away!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Goats in their glory

Yesterday/today a picture I took was featured on the very funny blog Nannie Goats in Panties. That picture always makes me smile. I am not sure which goat that is at the farm, but she is always there with that Mona Lisa smile.

Earlier this week I picked Cooper up at school, and he had made a paper pumpkin pie, complete with cinnamon flavored sprinkles on it. He announced all the way home that he wanted pumpkin pie. He has never eaten pumpkin pie, but what the heck. I said we didn't have any yet, but since I had left over business from Thanksgiving, we could make a pumpkin pie. Did he want to help me? YES!

We made pie. And my child ATE the pie. Granted, he spit it right back out when he got some of the graham cracker crust along with the filling. The contrast in textures triggerd that gag reflex and suddenly I had a handful of partially masticated pumpkin pie.

But he ate the filling so technically, HE ATE PIE! Whee.

Tomorrow I drive to West Point NY to be in my friends Laura and Shelly's wedding. Not being Jewish nor having been to any Jewish weddings previously, this will be a new experience. Apparently I am to be at one corner of the chuppah, the canopy under which the bride and groom exchange their vows. I am calling myself a Chuppah Girl. I was present for the tasting of the food, so I know what we are in store for and all I can say is YUM.

This means there are a few days of bachelorhood for my men coming. I hope my house is still standing when I return.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Camp Potty Training, Outpost Abandoned

Well, two days of screaming, crying, flailing (and that was just me) later, we have abandoned the potty training attempts. He just doesn't want to do it, and since there is no particularly pressing need, other than saving $40+ a month on diapers, we have decided to wait awhile.

I really don't need a kid with bathroom issues. Lord knows my family has cornered the market on those: Prior to having a child I could not piddle if I thought someone could see me, and for a time I also couldn't if I thought they could hear me. Public bathrooms were a drop zone of anxiety and dread. I got past the hearing part by counting tiles on the floor while trying to pee. Nothing like a little distraction for the mind.

I also went through a space as a young child of being obsessed with having to go to the bathroom. I had to go all the time. Or so I thought. The story as I recall it is that finally one of my teachers sent a note home that I might need medical attention for all this need to pee. There might have been a child psychologist involved. My mother can confirm or deny that, my memory is foggy. But whomever I ended up seeing, they very wisely determined that I was simply an overly conscientious child, who was worried about being caught needing to piddle when no opportunity to do so was present.

I will also point out that one of my parents knows exactly where the bathroom is in every store or library etc. frequented. This acorn did not fall far from the tree.

So, I would like to avoid some of these landmines and bogeymen if possible with my child. Odds are that because he looks so much like his father he will undoubtedly be wired more like me. In good and bad ways. He already likes to holler at the top of his lungs outside, which I spent a LOT of time doing as a kid. There is nothing quite as cathartic as a good Tarzan yell, a la Carol Burnett, or a good ol "HEY YOU GUUUUUYS" like Rita Moreno on the original Electric Company, out on the playground. Bob is fascinated and horrified all at the same time. "You are very noisy people" he said the other day as we were singing and marching around doing something silly. I will take joyful loud shouting over bathroom hangups any day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Camp Potty Training: Day 1

We are 15 hours into day 1 of Project Potty Training. I.Am.Exhausted. I probably should have checked the calendar and picked a week when I would not be knee deep in PMS, but we have ripped the bandaid off, so forward ho and stiff upper lip and all that.

The thing with this project is I have gotten a very interesting look into my sons' psyche. We have had three different potty options for him in the house for months. Two small potties to sit on, and then a seat you can put on top of a regular toilet so a small bottom can sit on it without falling in. We have two videos about going to the bathroom on the potty - Potty Time and Elmo's Potty Time. He loves watching them. He totally knows what going on the potty is all about. He knows WHAT to do on the potty. I think he even knows to a certain extent what it feels like before he needs to go. He starts holding his little peeper, and crossing his legs. He knows what needs to happen.

He just doesn't want to. "I don't WANT TO" he announced loudly at least 12000 times today. "No, I DRY" he would say to me when I would ask if he had piddled at all and doubled checked his undies. This is just like when anyone asks him what color something is. In school, during circle time, when they are reviewing colors or numbers, he will answer for everyone else with the right answer. But when it comes to his turn, he stops, puts a hand to his chin and says "Hmmmm..." and gives the wrong answer. He just likes being contrary. And taking control wherever he can get it.

I guess I can understand that. When you are three years old and only 40 inches tall, there are a lot of people telling you what to do, when to do it and if you are at all slow in doing it, they pick you up and carry you where you need to go. You have almost no control or say in how your day is going to go. So why not assert yourself where and when you can?

I think we will be successful in our training, but WOW is it going to be fun. I really considered backing off altogether at least 3 times today. I chose to walk the dogs in the rain today when Bob came home from being at the real estate office just to leave the house and not be in charge of pee patrol. At least the dogs already know not to pee on the couch. I trust my child will learn the same lesson at some point in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Once upon a time...(or a review of hideous hair styles and fashion statements through the years)

Once upon a time there was a little girl and a little boy.




The little boy lived in Minetto NY, growing up raising chickens, and goats who would chase him around the yard and hunting in the woods. The little girl was growing up in Rochester and White Plains NY, babysitting for Brooklyn Dodger players and watching her grandmother make ravioli.

The little boy eventually went to Syracuse University to study Aerospace Engineering, and the little girl went to SUNY Oswego to study to be a teacher. Sometime during his senior year and her freshman year they met. Apparently sparks flew, because on November 26th, 1959 they were married.



After a few years, after moving around to places like San Diego, Spokane and Elmira, TX they landed in Connecticut, and they had a baby.



Not quite three years after that they had another baby, and their family was complete.





Life hasn't always been perfect, but the family always had a roof over their heads, food on the table, at times a boat, a canoe, bikes, college tuition, family vacations, and a variety of dogs. There was a lot of laughter and love. This couple has been through some serious ups and downs. Downs that might have ended the marriage of other less hardy couples. But this couple has survived. They have moved from Connecticut to Ohio and back, twice, then to Florida and finally Oregon. They have become grandparents. They are funny, intelligent, loving people and I am proud to call them my parents.

Mom and Dad, Happy 50th Anniversary. While I have at times followed a very different path than you did (I will have to live to be 90 to see my 50th anniversary with Bob), and different than I think you might have expected of me, ("Psychology is not a real science" Dad said) it is because of your influence, your patience and encouragement that I have in part become the person I am. You have given me so much and I hope you have many more years together. I wish Bob, Cooper and I could be there with you in person on this momentous occasion. On today, Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for the blessing of you.

UPDATE: It was Abilene TX, not Elmira. That is in NY. I had NY on the brain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At least I didn't have to committ a parent to rehab this week

Life has been a little extra stressful this week. Work things have cropped up that are annoying and stressful and I feel a distinct lack of control over the outcome of any of it. Which creates additional stress, and causes me to want to nap or eat copious amounts of carbohydrates, or ideally, both, one right after the other. I am trying to avoid both.

Home life is okay but money continues to be a stressful issue. This is a short work week for me, which is good, and we will be having one step son over for Thanksgiving, so that will be a quiet day. But, and this is a big BUT, we have chosen to begin potty training Cooper this weekend. The big boy underpants have been purchased, extra pairs of pants have been purchased, so we don't have to do loads of laundry EVERY day. This will add a little extra stress to the weekend, but he is ready and so are we.

On balance, life is fine. Compared to some people's lives, it is down right fabulous with extra sparkly unicorns and rainbows. A friend of mine had to help get her mother enrolled in an inpatient rehab program Monday. Her mother is 80 years old, a chain smoker and anorexic with COPD on top of being an alcoholic. This will either add 10 years to her life or kill her. But my friends' father, also 80, finally reached the limit. He had picked his wife up off the floor three times on Sunday, and announced he just can't do it anymore. So Monday brought an intervention moment, and then they went to one of the hospitals in Boston which offers inpatient rehab services for seniors.

And then there is Anissa Mayhew. I didn't know anything about this woman, a blogger of apparently extraordinary talent and humor, and who is considered a force of nature by those who know her. She suffered a massive stroke this weekend, for the second time in her life. She has a husband and three children, one of whom had and defeated cancer. She has certainly faced her share of turmoil and difficulty in her life and continues to fight for her life.

I am pretty sure that my life is GREAT. Every time I begin to feel a little bit sorry for myself, the universe manages to put things in perspective for me. It doesn't mean the things I am facing are unimportant, they just aren't worth wallowing or consuming my own body weight in pasta over.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankfulness...A life in review

This week the photo challenge at the Women's Colony is Things We are Thankful For. Or Things for Which We are Thankful, if you want to get picky. The full list of participating blogs will appear tomorrow at the WC. Check them out!

Here is my contribution (some of these pictures have appeared on this blog before, but they represent the best of what I am thankful for):


My father's photography

Friends to ride a train with in Maine

Silent snow in the woods

Grandparents who will still dress up for Halloween

Friends to get silly with

Dad

Mom

My brother and his lovely family

A dad and son being good friends and enriching my life beyond measure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WMD's (Weapons of Mouse Destruction)

AGH. I just posted nothing but a title. I got all trigger happy.

On to my story. So. We had a mouse. At least one. I was in the basement working out at 5:30am one morning this past week, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this little scurrying flurry of fur. Sure enough, there was a little mouse, running around the top of the foundation and up into the wall. GAHHH. So that day the Bob went off to Home Despot, and bought



The Weapons of Mouse Destruction.

We put glue pads under the stove. We put glue pads on the top of the foundation in the basement. But most importantly, we implemented the Zapper. As cruel as it sounds, it is a Skinner box on steroids. It lures the mouse in and zaps it dead. I am still trying to avoid poison, since we have dogs who are not the brightest, and a three year old.

I tried to set the old school snapper mouse traps. To say I nearly lost several fingers is an understatement. I do not know how you are supposed to set those. They are SUPER sensitive. I might have PTSD now from them snapping and leaping from my hands as they tried to remove my fingers. I see them in my sleep, snapping at me in all their peanut butter smeared glory. I gave up before I was injured. I am pretty sure there was at least one mouse sitting around watching me and laughing.

Anyway, for the last week we have been watching and waiting. No meeces on the glue pads. No meeces in the Zapper. And then today I went down to start a mosaic project, and decided to check the Zapper, and ladies and gentleman, we have a winner. One little dead mouse. There was a moment of silence, a prayer to the mouse god, and then into the trash he/she went.

It has been reloaded with peanut butter and put back in place. If there are more mice, they will be caught and destroyed. Of course all of this could be avoided if they just stayed out of my house.

WMD's (Weapons of Mouse Destruction)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Her name was Lauren

More years ago than I want to count (probably around 15) a friend of mine died from breast cancer. She fought a good fight, but ultimately it attacked her lungs, bones and eventually her liver, destroying her one organ at a time.

I knew her because she was a college counselor at the community college where I began my financial aid career after I finished grad school. She was funny, intelligent and one of the most graceful people I have ever known. When I was fussing over a stupid man who was treating me badly, in the midst of her own pain and frustration from dealing with cancer, she looked at me and said "Life is too short to waste time on people who don't appreciate you." Flat out the BEST words of wisdom I have ever received.

She found the lump herself during a self exam. She went to her doctor who looked at a 6 month old mammogram and said it was nothing to worry about. She didn't like that answer, but it took her another month to get anyone to listen to her and do a new mammogram. By that time she was stage 4.

She was 42 years old when she died. She left behind a husband and one son, and countless friends, coworkers and students who were blessed to have known her, worked with her, loved and been loved by her.

Infuriating.
MIND BOGGLING.
Gross negligence.

Those are the words and phrases I think when I consider the latest word from the powers that be regarding the latest recommendations for how often, and at what age women should now get regular mammograms. When I consider they say that self breast exams don't do anything.

Lauren found the lump herself, but was then delayed in getting treatment by incompetent doctors. I don't know that she would have lived if she had been treated right out of the gate, as soon as she brought the lump to someone's attention, but it certainly could not have hurt her chances for life.

I believe with all of my being that this latest announcement has nothing to do with real science, and everything to do with the health care and insurance industry trying to find ways to save money. I feel that there are entities in this world that are willing to put women's lives at risk, to save a dollar. We should not accept this at all. We should not be willing to die unnecessarily because someone wants to make a profit.

I don't know what the end result of these new recommendations will be, but if women die, because they don't get diagnosed early enough, or at all, then what will we do? What will we call it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bill Belichick owes me an apology

In case you are the one person in the northern hemisphere who doesn't know, the New England Patriots lost last night to the Colts.

The game was on a little later than usual, so Bob recorded it rather than stay up to watch it. Which means it wasn't until this morning that he watched the Patriots lose a 13 point lead, watched the coach, Bill Belichick make a really bad call that involved 2 yards to first down, 70 yards to a touch down blahblahblah end of story: the Patriots lost the game.

I don't really care who lost the game. I like watching football, I even like rooting for a particular team, and usually that is the Patriots. But I really, ultimately don't care who wins. What I do really care about is that after watching this apparently bone headed move, and subsequent loss, Bob was in a BAD MOOD.

I was upstairs getting Cooper up for the day, when I heard "That was a dumb flibflabbing call!!!" and then a few minutes later Bob stomped up the stairs to recount the sordid details. Then he proceeded to be in a bad mood for the rest of the morning. Snappish one might say. Short of temper. Grumpy.

I found out via Facebook that this was not an uncommon response to last nights' game. Some people had a hard time sleeping. I wondered if that would have been a better alternative to being grumpyassed in the morning.

In any event, everyone seems unified in placing the blame squarely with the Patriots coach, Bill Belichick. So I guess he owes EVERYONE an apology. That or free tickets to a home game.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three years of change and blessings


You came into our lives three years ago today, quite unexpectedly and two months early. I never expected to be someone's mother. I never really WANTED to be someone's mom. But the universe had a different idea about how my life would go. So approximately 6 months after marrying your father, I found myself pregnant. From that moment on there was really no looking back.

Since the day you were born you have been reminding me of how much love I have to give. You have been reminding me how much joy there is in this life. You have been challenging me to think about life in a different way. You have been reminding me how big the world is, and how everything is new and even the little things can be massively exciting. There is so much fun in hunting for earthworms in the back yard. You love anything I draw for you, even managing to recognize that I drew you a cow or a cat or a dinosaur. You don't care how well I draw, you are just happy I am drawing for you. You challenge me to find new ways of playing with blocks or toys even if they are totally not the way anyone who made the toy meant for them to be played with.

You also manage to frustrate and aggravate me in ways that make me crazy. If anyone else in my life pushed those buttons that way, I would want to walk away from them and not engage with them again. But that is not a choice I have with you. You are my responsibility, and you are my joy. I have to find a way to respond to that frustration and yes, sometimes anger, in a way that educates you on how to do things differently, without scaring you or hurting you. And in the effort of doing that, I have learned more about myself, and it has made me a better person in other parts of my life. I think I listen better to people at work, and I am better at thinking of different ways to solve a problem because of living my life on a daily basis with you.

You have grown into such a beautiful, funny and engaging little person. I am so happy and blessed to be part of this ride and I am excited to see where it goes from here. I hope your father and I manage to be the best parents we can be for you, and that we don't do anything too horrific or humiliating in your lifetime. Although I cannot promise that I won't wear silly costumes or sing silly songs in public, because I have before and I will again. There is always a price to pay for having parents, I just hope your price is one you can look back on some day and laugh.

I love you Cooper. Happy Birthday my sweet boy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thank you

It took me 39 years, one failed marriage and many many many attempts at other relationships to get to you. Once upon a time I had someone tell me that based on my lifeline on my palm, I would have to go through many relationships before I found the one that would last, and I guess they were right.

I wonder if I could go back and tell my younger self, the one who felt lonely when she had no one special in her life, or the one that cried for two weeks when that particular boyfriend broke up with her in her mid twenties that it just didn't matter, because the right guy was down the road a bit and totally worth the wait, would I tell her those things? Maybe the fact that she experienced that loneliness and pain and still survived to see another day and to hope for more in a relationship is what helped form me into the person I was when I met you. The one that was ready for a mature, healthy and non-angstfilled relationship. And would the younger me even care what the current me would have to say? Does youth ever listen to the voice of maturity?

I am so grateful I met you, and so grateful that when we met we were both in the same place in our lives. We were both done with marriages that hadn't worked out, both ready for each other. I had resisted going onto Match.com for months. Friends of mine had been on and experienced various levels of success and were encouraging me to try it out. I had to wait until I was ready. I had been fine being alone at first, because that was so much better than living daily with someone who had been so unhappy. Eventually I was ready to venture forth, and whether it was just coicedence or cosmic destiny, it was just the right time to be out there and catch your attention. All I had hoped for was a decent first date. I never expected to find a soulmate, but that is exactly what happened.

Thank you for picking me and contacting me via Match. Thank you for being a loving husband and caring father to our son. Thank you for always walking the dogs. I know our life has taken a few turns we didn't expect, but you have been there, supportive and loving and making me laugh the whole way.

Happy Anniversary Bob.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A study in green

Over at the Women's Colony this week the photo challenge is Green.





Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Building a better mousetrap...

Yes, today started out with finding a mouse in my kitchen. It is not the first time we have had a mouse, and we usually go for long stretches in between sightings/catching and destroying them. The first time was when my parents were house/dog sitting for us while we were on our honeymoon. I came home to my mother informing me that one was dead in a mousetrap in the basement and she had left it there for me. House sitting duties do only extend so far.

Then I found mouse turds on my counters almost two years ago, and by then Cooper was in our lives, so we called the exterminator, who gave us those glue pads that are not poisonous but smell to die for (HA, get it?) if you are a mouse and they get stuck to them. We slid it under the stove where we believe the point of access is, and lo and behold, the next morning we had a mouse stuck to the pad. I put the whole thing in a bag, konked the mouse on the head with a heavy object, after apologizing to him/her and explaining that we would not have come to this juncture had he/she just stayed outside. Like John Cusack's character in Grosse Pointe Blank explaining that if you find him at your door (he was a hit man) it was because of something you did.

Last week we were sitting around in the evening, when all of a sudden the Schnauzers launched themselves off the couch from a dead sleep, dashed into the kitchen, then into the dining room in a mad, snarling frenzy. They were quite obviously chasing something but we never found what it was. So I took another sticky pad and put it under the stove. Days passed, no mouse, so I forgot about it. Until the morning, when Bob interrupted me while I was working out in the basement. The pad was moving, and there was a mouse attached to it. No, he was not touching it. Oh my brave hunter. I went upstairs, put the mouse and pad in a bag, and out to the garbage. After, of course, the obligatory apology and explanation of how this particular path he/she chose was his or her undoing.

But this post was really supposed to be a rant about bras. Brassieres. Over the shoulder boulder holders. I hate them. They are a necessary evil, since I am "blessed" and the ladies are very much in a different location than they were pre-Cooper. One of the joys of bearing children, regardless of age, is that your boobs look GREAT during the first two trimesters, then take on National Geographic proportions during the final trimester and during the nursing phase, if you go that route. But once weaning has taken place, there is deflation. And sagging. Nothing is where you had left it before the blessed experience of motherhood.

I am in need of new undergarments. Specifically, I need a nude colored, seamless bra that will make the girls look fabulous in the dress I have to wear in my friends' wedding. So I went to Macy's looking for a new beige bra. Do you know how many beige bras there are at Macy's? 765. WHY do we need that many choices??? And whoever, whomever, whatever, thought that lace on the booby was a good idea OBVIOUSLY never wears a bra. One word: ITCHY. And this is not a place one needs to be itchy. Itchy = CRANKY. Same with seams that cut across the front of the cup. Just stop the madness.

My foray into seeking a new bra has led me to the conclusion that I need to go for a fitting. An honest to goodness "measure me and tell me what size I really am" analysis. Because most days I end up pulling at the bra, the straps are always slipping down, I am being poked by underwires and even without lace by the end of the day the synthetic fiber is making me sweat and itch. That is SOOO attractive, isn't it.

I would like someone to build a better bra. One that doesn't bind, poke, itch or make me sweat and puts things in the general vacinity of their former glory. Is that too much to ask? If anyone out there has a recommendation of a really well built bra, do let me know.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Pop?


I don't know, but Cooper managed to get to the center of his Tootsie Pop last night after a successful first time out Trick or Treating, without biting into the pop part. He has suddenly becomed enamored of lollipops, which - YAY he is eating something new - but could he have picked something less sticky? Once at the middle of the pop, he looked suspiciously at the tootsie roll center, poked at it with his finger and handed it to me. I asked if he was done and he was all "UH, YES."

But back to his first Trick or Treating outing. At the first house he was not sure exactly what we were doing, then he realized people were GIVING OUT CANDY. From that point on he could not get to the door fast enough. He would say "Trick or Treat" grab a piece of candy, say "Thank you" and sometimes "Happy Halloween" and then turn and yell "NEXT HOUSE!!" It took all of my energy and concentration to keep him from hurtling off of top steps and curbs without looking.

One of the houses in our neighborhood goes all out with the spooky decorations. I thought he might find it too scary, but Cooper either gets that it is fake, or he just doesn't know what he is looking at, but when we got to this house, he said "Oooooo, scary" and then made "oooooo, oooooooo, ooooooooooooo" sounds while walking up to the door. He was decidedly NOT scared.



This is the display that was in the garage. Because I used a flash it is not as spooky as it was in person.

And yes, that is a plastic shopping bag Cooper is using for his candy. I have a soft pumpkin bag SOMEWHERE in this house for him that I bought last year, and now cannot find. It is probably in the attic. The good news, he did not care at all he was using a plastic bag.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have a confession

The first step is admitting you have a problem, and that you are powerless over it. Okay, I am probably not powerless over it, but it is a problem.

I hate to fold laundry. Specifically underwear and socks. HATE.IT. If you were to open either my underwear or sock drawer right now, you would see a writhing pile of clothes. Socks in knots. Panties doing unspeakable things with bras. There it is, my deep, dark secret.

As it is now cold outside, which necessitates wearing closed toed shoes, which usually necessitates wearing socks, I have had to face the writhing knot of socks for the first time in months. I wear athletic socks throughout the year when working out and wearing my sneakers, but those socks live in a different drawer, where I can keep the whites separate from the darks and allows me some relief in my sock search, but that is as far as my organizational efforts extend.

Oh I have tried over the years to get a handle on this. I have sat down with the pile of socks and organized them, paired them up and put them back in some sort of order. That lasts about 3 days. Pretty much until the laundry is done and there are new citizens of the Land of Sock to put away and I just cannot bring myself to pair up and fold them inside of each other because as I mentioned before - I.HATE.IT. So the new citizens are bunched up and dropped in willy nilly on top of the semi-organized currently residing citizens.

I don't really know where the root of this loathing comes from, but it is there. The problem that it presents to me is that over the years I have, in my quest to find the perfect black sock, one that is not too thick, not too thin, has just enough spandex in it to stay up without strangling my leg and cutting off the circulation to the top quarter inch of my epidermis, I have accumulated quite a few black socks. This morning as I pulled sock after sock from the knot, I counted 7 completely different black sock options. And as I pulled the eighth sock out I finally found a companion to one of them, so that is the pair I am wearing right now.

What I need to do is find that perfect black sock, buy about 12 pairs, and dispose of all pretenders to the throne. Then when I reach in to the abyss, I will be guaranteed whichever two socks I produce, they will always match.

That thought right there is the reason I own at minimum 7 different pairs of black socks. My holy grail is still out there. In the meantime, I will either have to live with the situation as it is losing 15 minutes in my morning to the Sock Match Game, or face my problem, turn it over to a higher power and conquer my inner demon. Wonder if I can get Bob to fold my socks...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blue...

Today over at The Women's Colony, a fabulous blog community, they are having a Blue challenge. This challenge involves putting up pictures on your blog that feature that color.

In thinking about it, while I love the color blue, I don't take pictures of it much, with a few exceptions.


The beach at Caneel Bay on St. John when we were on our honeymoon.


My blue-eyed baby.


The three blond, blue-eyed amigos in our neighborhood.


A little blue bug at the Halloween parade yesterday.

Check out the Women's Colony. It is a great community and there are some seriously talented photographers out there!