Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's my birthday and I'm feeling reflective

I had a very light hearted post planned. And then I got this e-mail from Iraq and it changed my mood and outlook for the day. I don't think Memi will mind if I share the first paragraph of what she wrote.

"Memorial Day passed with a silent whisper. We watched on CNN as President Bush laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We saw crosses on a beach in California dubbed Arlington West. We thought long and hard about what it means to be here, what it means to be there, what it means to sacrifice and what it means to have lost. But we didn’t slow down. Not externally. We couldn’t. Here, the things others memorialize are still happening. Here we have a responsibility to the present in honor of the past. And the present moves quickly.

So I'm going to hold off on the lighthearted for a little bit. Maybe I'll be back later.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What day is it?

I've been totally confused since this morning. Yesterday, Justin took pity on my confused state and went and picked up a table and chairs to sit on the patio he is constructing. He took most of the afternoon off to put it together and once I got home from work, we were all in the yard together for hours playing catch, playing with the hose, reading, etc. We only came in when it was time for the kids to go to bed.

Now this is so completely unlike our normal Tuesday routine that I woke this morning feeling as though yesterday was Sunday. Which meant today is Monday. Every once in a while I realize what day it actually is and it's like a little treat to discover the real weekend is only 2 more days away.

I complained a while ago about Pittsburgh weather and how the nice days when you can stand to be outside are few and far between. This spring has been a uncharacteristic delight. But today is a classic Pittsburgh summer day; scorching hot and the humidity rising by the minute. I tried valiantly to play outside with Grace and do some gardening but I had to admit defeat by 1:00. The new table and the Goblet of Fire sit outside the window calling to me but the central air is winning.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Well, errr... not exactly

Yep, it happened again. I got to the first store and felt confident. I picked some stuff out. We went to the next store and my brain started to freeze. Too many choices. Don't know what I want. We hit another store and another and at that point, I was a blubbering mess of possibilities. Do I want a nice little patio set? Gazebo with overstuffed furniture and a fire ring? A rustic craftsman style thing to sit on a deck? Aack!!!!!

Came home with nothing except 4 (yes 4!) different books that will hopefully give me some direction. I spent the afternoon sitting in a sad little lawnchair, wearing a floppy hat, re-reading The Prizoner of Azkaban and humming along to the soundtrack from Pirates 3. As I told Justin, I am about to be 34 years old and I no longer have to pretend that I have been or ever will be cool at any point in my life. It is time to embrace my geekiness.

My confession

I am decoration challenged. Just as I am embellishment challenged, I have absolutely no skills when it comes to envisioning interior spaces (or exterior spaces for that matter.) As a result, our house is strangely barren. Virtually no pictures on the walls, one "trial" valance on one window, no cute Pottery barn style coordinating furniture. I am reluctant to make choices for fear that I will make a mistake so I have just done nothing. We've been in this house for 5 years.

So, we've decided we're going to tackle it piece by piece. We are in the midst of planning a massive renovation and I'm going to make some effort to learn about this stuff so I can make some decisions. I may end up just copying stuff verbatim from a magazine but that is much better than the alternative.

And today we are tackling some exterior stuff. I am going to pick a patio set. Maybe a canopy. Maybe a hammock. Maybe none of it when I look at all the choices and find myself freezing up with indecision. Definitely a hammock though. Gotta get one of those.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Almost breakfast in bed

Charlie showed up in our bed yesterday morning for a few minutes and then disappeared. We heard some clanking around the kitchen so Justin went to investigate and discovered he was making us breakfast in bed. He got a little help from his dad but the inspiration was all his. I couldn't hang in bed for the whole time it took him to make it but he didn't seem to mind as long as he still got to serve me.

And then I woke to more clanking at 6:30 this morning and came out to discover he was doing it all again. On a smaller scale today, this time he made the jelly sandwiches and washed the apples all by himself.

I spent the thunder stormy afternoon sorting through old scrapbook stuff and pricing it all up for a garage sale. I've got about $175 of stuff and I don't even want to think about the retail cost of all of that. Justin asked if I was keeping anything because of how much there is - this is all stuff that has been sitting in boxes untouched on my sunporch for at least a year. I think it's time to let it go. Next I will tackle the tubs of kids clothes in the basement.

I am not going to spoil Pirates 3 but I will say I loved it. Even more after I tracked down the writers' explanation of what got edited out for time. I've always been equally in the Captain Jack/Will Turner camps but Orlando all pirated up with his bandana and curls moved me over to his side. Yum.

And today I'm off to crop with Brandy and some other girls from Two Peas. Justin's mom is taking the kids to the movies and he is going to go play soccer. All of which is to say I woke with my stomach in knots because I don't really like the days when we're all going in different directions. I think I need to go find some chocolate.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Poetic justice

So I thought he was faking yesterday and I sent him back to school today. And the school called me at 11:30 to come pick him up and I still thought he was faking. Until this afternoon when my head and stomach started to hurt. I am a mean mommy. He is playing on the Slip n Slide though.

Very interesting stuff with the Monica Goodling testimony. It's like a little drip drip drip that's getting faster and faster. I am very curious about what criminal prosecutions will ultimately result from this whole US Attorney scandal that we were told was much ado about nothing. Seems like it's turning about to be much ado about a whole bunch of somethings.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

T minus 4.25 hours and counting

to Pirates.

Some things I played around with this week. I'm obviously still in search of a style.

Charlie convinced me he was sick this morning but I discovered around lunchtime that it was simply a nefarious plot to stay home and play on the Slip n Slide. That hasn't worked out too well for him.

I think we might be at the start of one of those trying transition periods for him. I always forget because he's usually such an easy kid - but always at those transition times... starting school, ending school, he seems to struggle. He becomes defiant, he's mouthy and moody, not a heck of a lot of fun to be around. And then after a few weeks, he is back to his normal cheery self.

So... I think I'll put them down for a nap and try to read a few more chapters of the Chamber of Secrets. I don't want them wigging out on the babysitter tonight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Things that make you go "huh?"

I think I was unclear in that last post - I meant WE have booked the babysitter and we are all set up to attend Pirates tomorrow. Purely a post of joy! No sarcasm intended at all.

Today has just been a weird day. It started off on the wrong foot after Justin and I had a little spat about taking out the garbage. But we made up; Gracie and I ran around doing errands, shopped for summer clothes, visited the scrapbook store, picked up Justin's medals from his last wine competition and then we met him for lunch at Red Robin. So far, so good.

We came home and goofed around for a bit and I handed Gracie her leotard to put on for gymnastics. This is the 2nd leotard this year because she somehow lost her other one when I went to CKU. Strangely, between me handing it to her and the next 5 minutes, she lost this one as well. We've looked everywhere and I have no idea where it went. She's not allowed into the gym without the leotard so we are out of luck.

So then we picked Charlie up from school and he saw the Red Robin balloon and promptly burst into tears that he didn't get to go out to lunch. Should have seen that one coming. Then he discovered we weren't going to gymnastics due to the misplaced leotard and began signs of hysteria - he gets to play gameboy there so I thought this was the problem. I decided he needed a nap and I assured him he'll get to play gameboy later tonight and that it was still pizza night (his very favorite). At this point, he began hyperventilating because he wanted to watch Grace do gymnastics. I made him lay down, snuggled him for a few minutes and he fell instantly to sleep.

I sure hope he can find his tae kwon do uniform when he wakes up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why is the rum always gone?

Loosely translated, that means that the babysitter is booked and I have already purchased our tickets to the 8:00 showing of POC: At World's End on Thursday. A spectacular beginning to what is going to be a spectacular summer.

Errr....umm.... that's about all I've got. I spent the day doing inheritance tax returns and inventories and that always renders me brain dead. That was probably inappropriate considering the dead part.

Edited to respond to Joyce and Mimi!

Joyce, I am so glad you are going to go see it, my pictures don't begin to do it justice! My mom and I are going to go back and see it at night too. I was in the store a couple weeks ago and hope to stop in again tomorrow if our morning goes smoothly.

And Mimi, I just used regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of chipboard sold at a little used book store/lss around here. I have plenty so if you'd like me to send you a few pieces, I'd be happy too! It's pretty thin and I didn't have any trouble cutting it with the tonic. And I painted both sides which seemed to counteract the warping that happens when you only paint one side.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Transparencies and time-outs

I made this little garden journal with some of my photos from last weekend. I've never really done anything with transparencies before so it was a learning experience.

The kids and I seem to have reached the end of the idyllic, all fun weekend. They had more sugar in 2 days than they probably had in the 2 months preceeding and I've exhausted my reserve of wild and crazy mom ideas. Cause no matter how hard I try, I'm not really wild and crazy. I told them they could where whatever they wanted today... pj's, costumes, etc. and they took me up on it for awhile but then seemed bored by the idea of it and put regular clothes on. They are playing in the tub for the 2nd time today so at least they're clean!

And we went back to regular, healthy food so the sugar high is wearing off. Thankfully, Grace was out of control this morning and spent nearly 30 minutes in time-out on the chair because she refused to apologize for screaming at her brother and then spit at me everytime I asked her whether she was ready to get down. She finally decided she would apologize if she could do it in Spanish.

I started reading through Harry Potter for the bazillionth time last night. It's not too long until the last book comes out so it's time to prepare. I'm only 3/4 of the way through the first one and I've gone back and forth on Snape 3 times already. I really think there are huge clues in that first scene between Snape and Harry... when he asks Harry what asphodel and wormwood make (a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death) and what a bezoar is (a stone from the stomach of a goat that will save you from most poisons.) I guess I don't really believe Dumbledore isn't dead but it seems so prescient to go back and read that first interaction - JKR rarely throws in anything like that randomly so I do wonder the significance. Remember in the scene in Dumbledore's office immediately after his death - his portrait is already hanging on the wall by the other headmasters but Dumbledore is sleeping. Awfully convenient, don't you think?

Or perhaps I need to find a support group.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh, and

I just read on Cathy Zielske's blog ( that all the cool girls dated at least one guy who turned out to be gay. As you may remember from a previous post, I am so covered on this one. It may be the first cool thing I have ever done. That calls for a resounding "dude." (But man Jay, I gotta say, I just never saw that one coming.)

I survived

Just in case anyone was looking for an update. I guess it was fairly serious; they made me read the pathology report (for all the good that did, who invented all of that medical terminology?) and the surgeon said that they sent it to a committee because they really didn't know what to make of it and that even after all of that, they weren't exactly sure at what stage to classify it. We lawyers don't do that sort of thing so I don't know what that means.

(I lost a whole paragraph here so I'm retyping from memory). Anyway, he said with 100% certainty that I won't have to worry about the area in which he did the surgery again and that's pretty much all I needed to know. That's also pretty much all I'm going to say about it because I'm not one of those people who thinks everyone is fascinated with my every ache and pain. I guess I will update again if the new spot is melanoma too.

My mom and I took the kids to see Shrek the Third. Ignore the reviews, it's awesome.

I'm still working on the schedule o' fun for the kids. Decided (after a well-placed ad in the Shrek previews) to make Coke floats with the remainder of the homeade ice cream. And I let them get Kids Cuisine for dinner. It's only fair because I let myself get some margarita mix. (insert that evil little smiley guy again.)

Justin was all kinds of anxious before he left yesterday, I think he felt horribly guilty he was going away and this was all going on. But the trip was scheduled for a year and the surgery only got scheduled this week, so you know, what can you do? His cell phone doesn't work where he is (honestly in probably one of the most remote areas left in the country - he has elk in his yard) but he called me from a landline last night to give me a number to call him. I was kind of let down with his call because he no longer seemed to care (okay, he and the guys had been "celebrating" for a while at that point) and more like it was an inconvenience. I didn't bother taking my cell phone with me because I couldn't reach him anyway. Anyway, I got home to discover literally about 20 missed calls on my cell phone and an equal number on the answering machine. Sometimes, it's nice to be reminded that you are loved.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I'm an ice cream making diva!

Little bit of changed plans for tomorrow. One of my parents is coming with me. That's kind of weird but I'm glad, I was worried about driving home. Trying to decide whether to stay up all night scrappin' or call it an early night. Right now, the computer is winning.

Necessity is the mother of invention

So I had this idea that the kids and I would have strawberry shortcake for dinner. Just because we could. And that we would make it from scratch, ice cream included. Gracie and I trekked to the grocery store this morning and gathered our ingredients and when we picked Charlie up from school, we couldn't wait to get started.

We measured and mixed, the kids taking turns, and then I assembled the ice cream maker and carefully layered in the salt and ice. We turned it on and... nothing. Just nothing. It makes a sad little whirring sound like it wants to turn but the motor seems to be shot.

What to do? I spent a small fortune on the ice cream ingredients, the kids were totally psyched up for some homemade goodness. I gathered some ziplock bags and poured ice cream mixture into them. And then loaded them all up in a big bag and filled it with ice and salt and we took turns tossing it back and forth for 15 minutes.

I have no idea if this will work. The bags were definitely hardening up when I put them in the freezer but I just don't know if the process of being stirred around for 15 minutes is vital to the end product. I guess we will soon find out!

I'm friendless tonight after all. So I decided to keep the kids home and we'll have a slumber party. My mom will pick them up for breakfast in the morning and then I will head off for my surgery. It can't be worse than the procedure they did in the office on Wednesday on my leg. I've been wobbling around like there is a bar between my legs for 2 days. I can't emphasize enough how cool this looks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I was being cranky

that some of the blogs I read haven't been updated and then it occurred to me that I haven't updated either.

I'm tired. And disheartened. And let's face it, that's not the best frame of mind in which to blog. More bad news at the dermatologist. More waiting for biopsy news. I've got surgery for the first one scheduled for this Saturday so that's at least something.

And I've tried to shop on-line for some sort of cover-ups to buy for our impending beach trip and found nothing. And I'm wondering if the anniversary trip to the Dominican Republic in August is really such a great idea. I have never been one for laying in the sun to get tan, because, well, I don't tan, and I can't sit still for that long. But I do love to wander up and down the beach for hours and sit and read and drink Coronas. Somehow that all seems like it will be a little bit less fun if I have to be dressed like a mummy. At the very least, it will be more hot and more sweaty and I'm also not a fan of the hot and sweaty. Perhaps I should stop whining now.

Justin is going away for his annual golf trip at the end of the week and I'm trying to plan some fun while he's away. The kids are staying at my mom's on Friday so I'm hopefully having some friends over for some crafting and margaritas. Then I want to take them to see Shrek the 3rd on Saturday or Sunday.

I want to end this on a happy note. I have some really great friends in my life right now. I think everyone goes through seasons of friendships in life and people you once loved move on or move away and it's not always easy for people my age to make new friends. There have been times when I didn't feel like I had any truly close friends at all. So, I want to say thank you to you guys. And you know who you are. For offering to watch my kids. For calling or e-mailing just to check in. For being silly and for going shopping and for talking about stuff that only true friends can talk about together ("he did what?!!?!!?). For letting me see your house in its natural state. For gleefully bashing the Bush administration (insert evil little smiley guy right there!) and for not rolling your eyes too much when I launch into a soliloquy about the artistic genius of U2. Thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Some photos to share from the Chihuly exhibit at Phipps Conservatory.

Can't wait to go back at night. I'm going to go take a nap now!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I don't have a picture to go with this post

and you will soon discover why.

Last night was Grace's pre-school graduation ceremony. In Grace's case, she is "graduating" from the 3 yo room to the 4 yo room, but nonetheless, this is a delightful evening where the kids get to sing their little hearts out and mommies and daddies cry because of the wistful music and poignant pictures played during the slideshow.

I was prepared. As prepared as I ever am. This time, I was going to get it right. I packed hairspray. I packed leave-in conditioner to deal with any untameable wispies. I even packed an extra dress for Grace. Just in case.

What I did not pack was the camera.

Okay, sad but not catastrophe because I did remember to pack the new videocamera. This is a videocamera we purchased immediately after Charlie's pre-school graduation last year. See last year, we did not get any video from his graduation because our crappy old videocamera died in the first 3 minutes of the program. Bought a new one. We are covered.

Justin agreeably stopped at the grocery store to buy a disposable camera so we would have at least a few pictures. But this then made him late for the ceremony. (Are you starting to get a hint how the night went?)

And three minutes into the ceremony, the newly charged battery for the videocamera conked out. Not to worry. I am PRE-PARED. I have an extra battery. Except. Oops. The extra battery is in the camera bag. At home.

Sweet! No pictures. No video. Gotta love being prepared.

Cue the music. It's the very first song, appropriately enough, about singing. The kids all have very colorful wooden drumsticks with which they are pretending to play the drums. This is delightful! This is so sweet! What a great idea! Why is that boy hitting Grace on the head with his drumsticks?

Yeah. Cue mommy racing in front of everyone else's happily taping videocameras (hey, they all seemed to remember to bring tri-pods for their cameras. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, never mind.) to rescue hysterically sobbing Grace from the stage.

She finally calmed down but she is not going back up there. No way. Nuh uh. Never. Nicholas HIT her. Bad Nicholas. I finally convinced her to go back up so she wouldn't miss singing her very favorite song "I'm a Little Leprechaun." Mommy sends Grace back up on stage. Without a kleenex. After she has been crying for quite some time.

Mommy sits down. Grace starts picking her nose. She was really going for it. This is a new thing, Grace does not normally pick her nose. Mommy catches Grace's eye and shakes her head "no." Grace ignores mommy. Mommy becomes more animated - shakes head again and mouths "no picking your nose!" Grace bursts into tears. Several teacher's aids race to her aid and ask her what is wrong. Whereupon Grace announces to the auditorium filled with 200 friends and families that "Mommy made me cry." Good job Mommy.

In the end, I don't think we'll need the pictures or the video to remember how this night turned out. Oh, but daddy got her flowers. And that's all she really cared about when it was all said and done.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Oh please no

Charlie just informed me that his table-mate got sent home from school today after throwing up. Please, all powerful entities and beings in the universe, I entreat thee, please do not visit this plague upon my house. Please. And thank you.

Tis the eve of the most wonderful day of the year

(some obligatory Children's Museum photos)

or at least it seems that way right about now. Today was Grace's last day of school until the end of August. No more trudging the 30 minutes to her school and the 30 minutes back again. And then waiting a bit and doing it all again to go back and pick her up. In the interim, I will ask myself again WHY we had to send our kids to THAT preschool and then by the end of the summer, I will resign myself to one last year of making that twice daily, seemingly never-ending trip.

So how (you might wonder) do I intend to celebrate this happiest of days? By driving for hours of course! I am meeting a friend and we are going scrapbook shopping and out for lunch. Sweet freedom.

A couple other things on my mind today. Going back to the dermatologist sooner than expected because we discovered another "suspicious" mole last night. Now I know the secret to look for them in hidden places and this one is quite hidden. Had a good laugh trying to explain to the nurse where it was. I've decided that part of the anatomy does not really have a name. I'm not freaking out this time because I'm just not letting my mind go there again.

And the other one is employment related. Back when I got pregnant with Charlie, I was working in my dream job for CASA - the Court Appointed Special Advocates program. I supervised volunteers who advocated for abused and neglected kids in dependency court. But I had to leave for a variety of reasons, chief among them the horrible commute and the lack of flexibility I felt I would need as a mom. Best thing about my current job. I can't imagine there is a more flexible job in the world.

Fast forward to March of this year when CASA opened an office in my county. I spent the morning with the new executive director and there is definitely an opportunity there. I'm really torn right now between pursuing a job I know I'd love and giving up the great situation I've got going on right now. I've got some time to decide, she's not needing to do anything until September and even then, she'll have another opening next year if all goes according to plan. In the meantime, I've agreed to help train the first class through the summer and she and I are going to go visit my old office in 2 weeks. Maybe after all of that I'll have a better idea what I want to do.

Monday, May 7, 2007

One more for posterity

Yesterday was very lowkey. Justin started painting the swingset, the kids played outside, I put sand in the sandbox. Not much to blog about there. Lovely day, boring recitation.

Today Gracie and I are going on her field trip to the Children's Museum. Back in the day when we decided I would be at home with the kids as much as possible, one of my motivations was so that I could always be the mom who got to go on field trips with her kids. So why am I dreading today's event so much? And why did I deliberately not sign up to chaperone Charlie's field trip next week? Cause I've been on one or two of these field trips by now and I know it's a heck of lot more fun to take your kids to these places on your own than it is to cram everyone together in a bus, drive slowly to the location, deal with the chaos, the lines, the screaming and running that 72 young children create and then get back on the bus for the trip back home. Fun stuff!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Scrapbook hangover

For the scraplift from your BOS challenge

For the scrap a joke challenge

For the scraplift yourself challenge

Yesterday was National Scrapbook Day and I played along all day at 2 peas. Well except for all the time I spent cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and going to soccer. But you know, all day in mom-speak.

Cinco de Mayo is always a big day in our house too... yummy Mexican food and margaritas all around. I'm going to take the unprecedented step of posting a recipe here because I swear this might be the most delicious stuff I've ever made. Justin scoffed when I told him that... until he tasted it! This is seriously good. (Edited note: I have no idea how to format this recipe. Somedays my formatting works and somedays, despite by best efforts, not so much. Sorry!)

Enchilada Sauce
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 c diced onion
3 T all-purpose flour
3 T chopped garlic
5 T hot chili powder
1 t dried oregano
4 1/2 c chicken broth
1 t ground cumin
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until tender. Stir in garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon; saute for a few minutes.

Stir in flour and chili powder, stirring until sauce thickens. Slowly whisk in chicken broth; reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in chocolate until well melted and well blended.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

New layout soon to follow

one of these days anyway. I did some for a charity crop over the weekend and I'm just getting back to my own stuff.

So this will just be a quick purge of the mind sort of post.

Finally heard back from the doctor. I won't be dying just yet. I still have some follow-up surgery and then likely back to check-ups every six months but you can bet I won't be skipping any of those from here on out. Will soon be uncorking the celebratory wine.

Little man entered the science fair with his "Qualitative Analysis of Toasted Oat Cereal". Dude, he ate cheerios! Science is awesome. He got a gold medal. And he has just started reading chapter books all by himself. He's been lugging his "Tigers at Twilight" book around everywhere; in the car, on the bus, out to the yard. I think he might be my kid after all.

Little monkey graduates 3 yo pre-school next week and we've been treated to endless renditions of "I'm a little leprechaun" (I'm guessing one of the graduation songs) as she prepares. I think I'm going to have to take her shopping for a new dress if my recall of the little girl pre-school graduation dress code is any guide.

And... I had a tough day at work. For all the wrong reasons. Never (never never) get involved with any cases that involve family members who suffer from an untreated mental illness. It never works out that well.