Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Three Stooges Gene effect

Cooper has a highly developed appreciation for all things slapstick. Bob noted about a year ago, maybe longer, that Cooper bust out laughing while they were watching some show on Noggin or Nickelodeon in which someone fell down. Since then he has consistently found people falling down, being chased, knocked down, slapped, kicked in the behind, poked in the eye, having things fall on top of them, you name it, extremely funny. Seriously, this is a guy thing, right?

The problem here is that right now his little 2 year old brain doesn't quite get the difference between reality and pretend on TV or in the movies. Thus we have encountered a small problem with him imitating some of the things he has seen in some of the movies he has been watching. Lovely, benign movies like Madagascar for instance.

See, there are these penguins. The penguins are hilarious. The lead penguin does a great William Shatner impression. But the penguins are bit, physical. With each other, with other characters. There is one scene where they have hijacked a ship, and they have tied up and gagged the captain. The captain is trying to say something, and head penguin says to another penguin "Shut him up" and the other penguin slaps the captain across the face.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. Bob was keeping Cooper entertained, and for some reason was pretending to cry. Cooper walked up to him, said "Shut up" and slapped him. I was all "Ohhhhhhhh noooooooooooooo" and immediately realized what he had just done. As clear as could be in my minds eye I saw that scene with the penguins. And then I realized what he was doing at school. The day before I was told he had, totally out of character, slapped one of his friends. For no apparent reason. It all began making sense.

I told his teacher what happened when I dropped him off at school. She thought it was hilarious. And it is, as long as it isn't your child slapping other kids or his parents.

So that movie is officially out of rotation for awhile, until we get to a point where cognitively I know he will understand the difference between what is on TV and what is okay in real life. We talked about it, but I still think delivering mixed messages is probably not a good idea. This is why I am not in favor of spanking. There are other reasons, but mostly it is about how hard it is to justify hitting my child as a disciplinary measure, yet teach him it is not okay for him to hit us or others. That distinction is really hard to get at this age, and quite frankly it is a bit hypocritical if you ask me. So we don't spank. There is still discipline, but not spanking.

What will he do next...that is the question.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How I close a college with one sentence in the newspaper

So yesterday I was quoted on the front page of the Boston Globe. "WOW, how excellent, you must be thrilled" you might say to me. Well, not really. I spent 10, 15 minutes speaking with this reporter on how colleges were going to handle the challenges the current economic situation will present for our families. His focus was primarily on entering students, were colleges changing their admissions policies to take financial stability into account, were we adjusting our financial aid awarding strategy in any way.

My responses were along the lines of clarifying that we practice need-blind admissions, i.e. we don't consider the financial circumstances of the family in the admissions process. They award merit aid based on, well, MERIT. In the financial aid office we did not plan on changing our awarding strategy at this time, we would award both new and returning students based on our current policies, however students who are being impacted by the current economic situation should approach our office to see if we can assist in any way. Yes, we do expect to see more appeals. We don't want anyone choosing not to attend our college based on financial concerns until they have had a conversation with my office. Do I expect to be able to help everyone? No. But that is not any different than any other year. Every year there are families who want more than we can give. This year the conversation is different because there is a heightened distinction for families between ability to pay and willingness to pay. They are considering, more than ever, the VALUE of everything they purchase, including a college education. But families who need a large amount of additional support from us probably will not get as much as they seek.

That last concept, that part about not being able to help everyone as much as they would like us to, THAT is what he quoted. All the good stuff that I talked about, how we are here to help, nope, not mentioned. Turns out his focus was not on how are colleges going to HELP their students make their educational hopes and dreams a reality, his focus, which he did not express AT ALL when we were speaking, was on how rich students with resources will have more options than those who need help. He sensationalized the whole thing.

My president called and was sympathetic and supportive, which I appreciate. He has been quoted out of context and misquoted a lot lately. He said the good news was I got our name on the front of the Globe, along with two prestigious institutions. So it at minimum looks like we are running in good company. There is no such thing as bad publicity, is that the saying?

Right. Except that it sure sounded like I said something like "Don't ask for help from your college, they can't help you."

You can read the article for yourself here

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I am digging 2

People talk about the terrible twos. From what I can tell, based on my observations of the 3 year olds that live near me, 3 is waaaaay worse. At 3 the entire world is a science experiment. Things are meant to be tested, climbed, dumped out, into and mixed together in such a way as to cause permanent staining and causing parents to wonder out loud if the gypsies are by any chance in town.

2 on the other hand, so far, is a riot. The language skills are growing every day, although I still need a translator. The other night he was intent on telling me something, and I just wasn't getting it. "Waahwoo" he kept saying, in exactly the same way. He obviously was saying something very specific. As he said it for the fifth time, he stopped, looked at me tilting his head just so, and said it veeeeeery sloooooowly "Waaaaaaah....WOOOOOOO". I still have no idea what he meant. But he made me laugh.

The other day I picked Cooper up and held him facing me, and he smushed my face between his hands and gave me four big kisses in a row. Talk about being a flirt! Then yesterday when I dropped him off at school, I spent a few minutes talking to his teacher, and as I got ready to leave I gave him a kiss and as I walked out the door I told him I loved him, to which he replied clear as day "Love you mommy" and blew me kisses. Who doesn't just want to scoop him up, cover him in Cool Whip and eat him up RIGHT.NOW.

In other news Buster the damn beagle decided it would be a good idea to eat what was probably half a bag of Hershey Kisses. Foil and all of course, as that foil is a bitch to get off without opposable thumbs. Oh did he pay for that. There was vomiting. And more vomiting. Only once on the rug in the living room. Then he was banished to the kitchen to throw up on the tile floor. I would banish him outside except it is still cold here, and he would bark. He spent a full day feeling really awful, you could tell. But will he learn? No. His little beagle brain will not remember the torture, he is a slave to the nose.

What will be interesting is when Cooper begins experimenting, and I have no delusions, I know he will, what will he decide to try and feed Buster. Because I am pretty sure that dog will eat anything. And it may be his undoing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It is only a matter of time before world domination

If you haven't done this before, you totally need to go here and create your own superhero.

Here is the first version of mine:

You get to pick the gender, the outfit, hair, eyes, skin color, weapon etc. but not the name. They randomly assign a name.

I picked the whip NOT because I am into S&M, I could not be further from interested in inflicting physical pain during any activity that is supposed to be pleasurable, but because I thought it went well with the wings. And I HAD to have wings. I am a little irritated that the wings that they offer for female heros are waaaay smaller than the wings they offer for the men.

Now if I could just get the rockin' kick ass body for real. Cause, yeah, I do NOT look like that in real life. Much to Bob's dismay.

Monday, February 16, 2009

No, really, it was an honor just to be nominated

Well, I did NOT become the president of our state organization of financial aid professionals. Which is quite fine by me. It isn't like I lost to Marisa Tomei for her role in My Cousin Vinny. No, it is more like I lost to Meryl Streep. The woman who did win will do a fabulous job as president, and is probably way more committed to the organization already than I am, considering she has been a co-chair of at least one committee for quite awhile. She is a talented person. It is also a three year commitment which I am also just as happy not having on my plate. I would have done a good job, and I would have enjoyed some of it, but it is a big commitment. So it is just fine.

In other news, we are going paint the living room. Right now two walls are a dark maroon or eggplant color, and we feel it is too dark. Since moving into this house three years ago, we have not painted any room. That was part of the joy of this house. We loved all the colors. I am not afraid of saturated colors and this house is full of them. But the living room has a low ceiling, and the color is just too dark. So we went and picked up 40 or so paint chips at Home Depot yesterday, and I cut them apart, taped them to the wall and began eliminating colors. The light at night is VERY different than during the day, so we waited until today and narrowed it down further to one of four colors of green. I love the names paint companies come up with for paint. We have a few Behr colors and a few Glidden colors. I have in the past been a big Benjamin Moore fan, and still am, but I would have to find a different store to buy that from, so we are going to stick with what Home Depot offers since they are really close by.

Our choices are Serengheti Plain, Precious Jade, Shy Blossom and Asparagus. These are in the light green but not Kelly or Grass green. Light but warm. Honeydew was eliminated because it was practically florescent in the daylight. Some were too brown in tone.

We are also going to paint the bathroom upstairs. It is currently a taracotta color, but is small and needs a facelift. I think it will end up being a light blue with dark brown accents. Since we don't have the funds to completely redo the fixtures, those will stay. They are tan.

Paint is an inexpensive way to brighten up a room and look at that, I have a guy living in my house who can paint during the day while Cooper is at school. Bonus!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Studiously ingoring mommy

No content really, just Cooper ignoring me as I was taking his picture. He has the most amazing blue eyes, even if I do say so myself.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My kid is the Swedish Chef

"Brd...wrk" says Cooper. "HUH?" says his mother. With more emphasis, like one is inclined to do when speaking to someone a little, well, slow, he repeats "BRD...WRK". Riiiiight, brd wrk. Again, this time with a head nod to the side, emphasizing each syllable and eyes wide as if to say "How dense are you exactly" he repeats "BRD...WRK".

We have many conversations like this. Many of Coopers words are missing vowels. Or have extra syllables. It is a lot like talking to the Swedish Chef from the old Muppet Show. "Bronga doo, trowda cheeeken indapot". What I finally figured out was Cooper was repeating a line from the movie "Bugs Life" when they have made a fake bird to scare off the grasshopper bullies that are going to come back and kick some ant ass. Only that part is at the end of the movie, and we were watching the beginning of the movie, when the bugs encounter a REAL bird. The bird that is the inspiration for the fake bird. While they are being chased by the real bird, Cooper turned to me and said "Brd...wrk" which was his way of quoting the line which several bugs repeat later, "The bird will work." But it was out of sequence, and spoken like he was a Swedish muppet, so it took me a solid few minutes to catch on.

In other news, I was on single mom duty for a few days here. The Bob went to Maine to visit his mother, who lives by herself and has been having some health issues. I suggested he go and check in with her in person, spend some quality time. So he did. She is doing well all things considered. Cooper and I survived. The hardest part as far as I can tell about doing the solo parenting thing is the morning routine. If Cooper sleeps in to at least 6:30, I can get my shower in and be ready to go when he gets up. Walking the dogs is another issue. Two out of the three reliably will do their business in the back yard, but Gus occasionally insists he needs to be walked down the street to poop. I am not sure what Freud would have to say about that, if Freud had anything to say about the bathroom habits of dogs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I didn't know there would be math involved

Yesterday my IronMan Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor arrived. I won it on Cranky Fitness. Check out the link to the left. I can't figure out how to embed links in my posts.

Anywho, I managed to figure out how to set the time and date, how to wear the heart rate monitor strap and to see my heart rate on the monitor. It is pretty cool. I wore it this morning during my work out. Now what I have to do is figure out what my optimal work out range is, and use all the other features this doodad comes with. It has a USB thingy that will allow me to download my work out stats and track my progress.

The thing that I will have to keep in mind, as Bob reminded me, is that I am on a beta blocker. I am not on a high dose, it is very low in fact. But when I became sick at the end of my pregnancy, one thing that stuck around afterward, besides Cooper, was the high blood pressure. I will be on this medication for the rest of my life. But it may keep my heart rate from going as high as it might if I was not on it. So I am going to need to keep that in mind when figuring out my target heart rate.

According to a website that helps you figure out your target heart rate zone, if my resting heart rate is 65, which is probably a bit low, taking my age subtracted from 226 (for a somewhat non-fit individual vs. a fit individual) then my zone is 100 to 182. Today the maximum rate I saw my heart rate reach was 156. So I guess I am in the zone. We shall see how things go. This gadget is cool!

But who knew I would have to do all this math to get fit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What kind of friend are you?

I don't ask that in an antagonistic, angry way, I am asking in an honest endeavor to think about friendship, what it means to be a friend, and what kind of friend I am to people and visa versa.

Facebook and other social networking sites have added a new level of complexity to this I think. I got onto it somewhat reluctantly, and now check it at least once a day to see what my "friends" are doing. Some of these people are truly what I consider to be friends. People I see or talk to or interact with if not daily, at least on a weekly basis who I really LIKE. Some of them are people I know through work who I don't interact with regularly, but I have come to know and like outside of work. Others are people I knew from high school and college. Many of these people I have not interacted with since the day we graduated. Are they friends? They WERE. A few were people I counted among my best friends at certain times of my life. I have found my year books and have found notes written in them that immediately snap me back to that moment in biology class when Steve gave me the nickname Blanche, or to the cafeteria at lunch when I literally spent every day eating lunch with a guy I could not now recognize if I ran him over in the parking lot.

Having found some of these people on Facebook, I sort of miss them. I wish that we were still close. But do I? Do I really know these people now? I see things they write on FB, I see pictures that are posted from high school or their current life and see comments made by other people and wonder would we get along now? Would we have anything in common? I would like to think so, but who knows.

It is somewhat a moot point in that these people are spread all over the world, and the likelihood of us really spending quality time is pretty minimal. But I do miss the people I knew at the time we were friends.

And it got me thinking about what kind of friend I am. I didn't manage to stay in contact with these people after we parted ways, although I would argue now it would be easier, what with FB and email and blogs and Twitter which I REFUSE to participate in. Who has THAT kind of time?

Now I have a pretty busy life in many ways, between working full time and being a mom and a wife. I have always always always been someone who at the end of the day went home and sort of shut down. If I spend all day talking to people, problem solving for others, making the world a safe place for financial aid applicants every day, I have a need to re-energize and recuperate. And for me that means not interacting with more people. It is not my typical response at the end of a day, after Cooper has been fed and bathed and put to bed, to sit down and think "OK, who can I call" and then get on the horn. I will check in with FB, or read the blogs I like, but I don't reach out. Even on weekends I often lean toward going to the ground and laying low, being quiet inside and outside.

What this means is I don't socialize a lot. If I do it is with one or two people at a time, more if the moms in the neighborhood plan something as a group. But am I, then, not a great friend? If I am not reaching out, checking in, making contact on a regular basis, does this make me a lame friend? I would argue that most people who really know me know I am there if needed. But is that enough? Shouldn't a friend be present even when not needed? To just be a friend? To have coffee with, shop with, laugh and cry with?

I would note that many of my friends don't reach out to me either, so it is not all me. Or is it? I might be having a small crisis of self confidence. But friendship like all relationships, is work. And it is work that should be done equally in an ideal situation by all parties.

So what kind of friend are you? HOW are you a friend?

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Recently Cooper discovered Bruce Springsteen. Bob had found a concert on TV that he had recorded, and one evening turned it on. Cooper was mesmerized. He HAD to have his guitar, he HAD to watch it. When the commercials came on he was distressed. "Bruce? BRUCE??? BRUCE." The video was taken while he was watching it, for like the 3rd time. The other pictures I took yesterday as he watched something and was grooving along with his guitar.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I know where the bodies are now

Me: Yes, I am calling to see when Mr. Ryan will be able to fix the water leak under my driveway.

Nice lady in his office: Do you currently have water service?

Me: Yes, but here's the thing. I HAVE A SENSE OF DOOM about this. You can hear the leak with your unassisted naked ear. I think we are on borrowed time before the water surfaces somewhere, like my basement.

NL: Oh hahaha I totally understand. I'll have him call you right away.

Half an hour later we had a date. Thursday the foreman for the contractor came over to do some prelimanary jackhammering in our driveway, and to see what the situation was like. He brought a stethoscope with him, because I guess most water leaks are not quite so obvious as ours was. Bob was home and said the guy got this look on his face while standing in the basement, listening without the stethoscope to the water leak. "Do NOT under any circumstances touch anything down here" said the nice man. "That leak is probably right up against the wall of your basement. I am surprised you don't have water in here already." So HA! I am not that crazy neurotic woman who calls relentlessly just for no good reason.

This was the old water pipe they pulled out of the ground yesterday:

Turns out there were multiple breaks in the line. It is amazing we had any water pressure at all. Then there is the shiny new water line, the backhoe that made Cooper very happy, and finally, where the bodies are buried now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It is only because I have hair envy

I have very straight, very fine hair. I have a lot of hair, according to my salon person, hair stylist, whatever she wants to be called. But it is fine, and straight. Any volume or oomph I have in my hair is fake, the result of dutifully applied product and styling effort. If you saw me right after swimming, after my hair had dried, you would think "There goes Prince Valiant's older sister".

Anyway, Cooper has, it appears, inherited his father's hair. And because no one ever believes me when I say it, I am now able to provide proof now that Bob had a full on, honest to God, can't deny it when faced with the evidence afro in high school.

This is a picture of the electrical class Bob took in high school, circa 1976-77.
Bob is in the middle of the back row. Yes, that is his real hair. There are other pictures he has dug up, this one landed on facebook compliments of his friend Mike, second from the left, back row. One of my coworkers observed that they all look way too old to have been in high school. It was the 70s. I think everyone looked older then. I look at college freshmen now and think they are babies.

Maybe a year after this photo was taken Bob joined the Marines. So he went from this fabulous mop of curly hair to a jar head. I was in 8th grade at that time. By 10th grade I was trying to live out my fantasy of having the same hairdo Bob had, and permed my hair into a mockery of a 'fro. If I could find my photo album from high school I would prove it. At the moment it is MIA. Probably in the attic. Once I find it I will do a retrospective of all of the hair styles I have tried over the years in an effort to deny my straight hair.

Curly haired people always want straight hair, straight haired people want curly. We are just never satisfied with what we have, hair-wise. But I do hope that Cooper continues to take after his father in the hair department. I have hair envy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Things I have learned from my Dad

I met with a student yesterday who shook my hand. Generally students don't shake hands. It is a formality that this generation is not big on. But this student shook my hand. Or more appropriately, handed me a limp hand to hold for a moment.

I don't remember exactly old I was, but sometime in my early childhood, maybe around 6 years of age, my family had the honor of being the family who greeted people at the church service. I don't know why our church did this, but every week a family stood there shaking hands with people as they arrived and left. My father took a moment that morning to instruct me, and probably my brother too, but he would have been 3 or so and not really into shaking hands, on the proper way to shake hands. It involves the whole hand, a firm grip and approximately two pumps of the hands. One should not be timid about the hand shake. Do not offer just the fingers or a wimpy grasp. But don't overdo it either. Too strong a grip or too long in the hold, and it is as bad as a limp one.

I don't know why he felt this was important to teach me at that time, but I am reminded of the lesson every time I get a bad hand shake. This particular student is quite convinced that she is charming. She works as a waitstaff person, and I think she is probably fairly successful. She maintains eye contact, she twirls her hair and tilts her head *just so* and is not shy about displaying "the girls". I am sure there are people out there who do find all of that charming. Where she loses points is in the hand shake. If she wants to appear truly sincere, she should develop a strong, purposeful hand shake. As it is she is all limp fingertips. Not sincere.

So thanks Dad. I can't prove it, but I am quite sure that having learned the art of a solid hand shake has served me well in my life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Half a century...

The Bob is 50 today. Happy Birthday BOB!

To commemorate this momentous occasion, he asked for a new pair of sunglasses. So he got those. The last pair he bought he acquired on one of my business trips he accompanied me on, to Key Biscayne. I think it was 5 years ago. So he is not extravagant with sunglasses. His needs are few. Does he WANT more? I am sure, but these are strange financial days for us right now.

Another gift I would like to give him is a list of the things he is to me, and to Cooper.

My best friend.
My partner.
A sounding board for all my fears, frustrations and diverted desires to strangle the stupidity out of some people.
A fantastic dad who makes Cooper laugh and giggle and who changes poopy diapers and cleaned up after the Great Poop Explosion of 2007.
The guy who gets up at 5:30am on a weekend with Cooper so the mama can sleep a bit longer.
The guy who manages to remember the funniest lines from movies and then incorporate them into our daily lives in the most hilarious moments: Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.
A good dog walker.
The laundry man.
The garbage putting out man.
An appreciative consumer of my cooking.
The guy who convinced me to try scuba diving on our honeymoon.
The dude who will go to any concert, show, movie, or social event with me whether he has even the remotest interest in it or not.
The guy who saw my insides during the delivery of our son. He has seen parts of me I haven't even seen.
The guy who held down the fort, dogs and baby and all when I needed to visit my mother after her heart attack.
The supportive guy who is in charge of our child first thing in the morning so the mama can do her work out.
The guy who loves me and thinks I rock no matter what I look like - extra pounds, no make up, haven't shaved in a week or all done up. He still digs me.

He would want me to say a few *other* things, and well, my parents read this blog and I am not saying them, but rest assured they are just TRUE. You are all those things and more.

I love you and am endless grateful for having found you. Happy Birthday.