Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning 2010

Well, here you go. 15 minutes of high-pitched, five-year-old excitement. Which will probably only be entertaining to me and the grandparents. As of this morning, the girls are currently playing with the styrofoam contents of the cabinet we bought and put together yesterday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's a Folger's Christmas, Charlie Brown

I'll admit it...I still get a little choked up when I see the commercial where the older brother comes home from college and wakes his parents up by popping back the plastic lid on a can of Folger's crystals...

...or how about when Ronald McDonald steps out of the snowy woods to make the little boy, left behind by the older kids, feel like the coolest kid on earth...

...and yes, I'm a sucker for a good ol' fashioned Christmas sing-a-long, whether it was hosted by Bing Crosby, Donnie and Marie, or Nick and Jessica.

Note to network television (and an extra special plea for Mike Valerino), bring back Jim Henson's Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas. Not since Gift of the Magi has there been a more profound story about the gift of "giving."

And whatever happened to those lovely holiday greeting from your favorite sitcom ensemble? You know, instead of a commercial, the cast of Benson would be sitting in front of a fireplace wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas!" I loved those.

Today, I took my first stroll ever through Tuesday Morning and saw this blast from the past. I actually remember this Peaches & Cream Barbie doll vividly. (You could fashion the big huge ruffle around her in at least 100 different styles!) Now, I see that the package says 1985, but to me it screams late 70's. I think it always took Barbie a little while to catch up with the times back then. Nowadays, she's get the iPhone 5G before it's even on the market!


"I believe...I believe...it's silly, but I believe." - Miracle on 34th Street

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Many Re-caps, So Little Time

Mounted New TV Over the Fireplace

Cut a giant hole in our wall 5 days prior to having my family over for "Cousin's Christmas". The hole was to run all the wiring from the TV to the components, as well as run an entirely new line of electricity from the breaker box.

In an uncommon-look towards the future, we bought every wire we could possibly hook up to the TV: 4 HDMI, 1 Cable, 1 Component (Red, Blue, Green), 1 Surround Sound, 1 PC video, 1 PC Audio, for a total of 10 wires, counting electricity.

Number of items actually hooked up to the TV? 2. Cable box and Wii (to be fair, we had a DVD player, but it doesn't fit in the cupboard we converted to a component box - which is cooler than it sounds).

Number of stores I had to visit to find all these items at a reasonable price? 5. Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.

How many Geek Squad members I had to play the helpless female to? 3.

All guidance suggested hooking the new breaker up in the daytime for the obvious reason that you had to turn off the main breaker to the house. We did ours at 9 PM after the girls went to bed.

Pretty much we have received flashlights for Christmas every year since being married - that would be 12 years. Number of working flashlights found? 0.

Scott turned his car lights on and pointed it in the basement window, then wore Morgan's LL Bean camping headlamp for the detailed procedure. Considering no one was electrocuted and all electricity came back on immediately...major success!

So now we have a giant hole in our wall to patch. Normally, not a big deal, but in our house there is a level of plaster on top of the wallboard which has a very random texture to it. Coat of paint went on the wall Saturday morning before the party.

Did we succeed? My dad asked where we cut the hole! Now, maybe he was trying to make us feel good about our project, but I'll take it.

Cousin's Christmas

Invitation time: 6PM. Aunt Charlie's arrival: 5:45PM. Classic.

How many people can fit in our kitchen?

Aunt Charlie rinsing shrimp (the wrong shrimp, because "Uncle Mike grabbed the wrong bag" for her) while Noah supervises;

Rebecca cutting organic apples grown from trees watered by carrying buckets from a natural spring and brie made from the milk of a free-range goat that sleeps on a bed of molted goose feathers;

Scott moving pizzas from prep block to oven stone to counter to serving plates;

Uncle Mike pouring Manhattans from a previously used plastic bottle of spring water that he brought with him from home (WoWo's - a flask might be an excellent Christmas gift!);

Jake exploding the 2-liter of ginger ale; my mom cleaning up the spill with paper towels; Dad holding his splinted hand over his head (surgery); and me yelling at everyone to get-out-of-the-kitchen-until-we-at-least-get-our-pizzas-out-of-the-oven-for-christ-sakes.

Okay, now it is actually 6 o-clock. Obviously, the Swigart's do not go for being "fashionably late."

Most sought-after item in the White Elephant gift exchange: Snuggie (with bonus gift of nose-hair trimmers)
Most inappropriate item in the White Elephant gift exchange: Jake's chin strap.

New colors for Christmas Cookie decorating icing: raspberry, olive, gray, navy blue, taxi-cab yellow, white and some shade of purple I'm not sure was around when Christ was born.

$#!* My Kids Say

Morgan (after seeing the commercial where the ocean life swims out of the television): If we had a 3-D TV and if Potter wasn't blind, then if he started barking we could tell him to stop because it's not real.

Zoe (after Mommy tells her she has to wait until Christmas to get the purse she picked out in Macy's...no joke...she was obsessed with this purse): I need to sit on Santa's lap.

Morgan: Paul and I are trying very hard not to dawdle in school.

Mommy: Do you think you are on the naughty or nice list?
Zoe (without hesitation): Naughty.

Mommy: What do you want to write in your letter to Santa?
Morgan: Do you think I should write that we have been good like he asked us to?
Mommy: Have you?
Morgan: Maybe we should say we are trying to be good like he asked us to.

Dear Santa,

We will try to be good, just like you said. It doesn't matter about getting presents, it's all about sharing and caring at Christmas (editor's note: I sense a little reverse psychology at play here). Mommy has been good, too. And so has Daddy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Musical Beds

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to change out a double-bed room to bunk beds and a nursery to a play room at the same time? Here's how it works.

First, you find bunk beds that don't cost you one of the children that will be sleeping in them. We got ours at an estate sale complete with mattresses, even though I said I wouldn't buy used mattresses because of the whole bed bug situation. I'm going to keep the jury out on that, because I don't want to jinx myself.

1. Dis-assemble and store the full-sized bed....and full-sized sheets...and full-sized bedspread, blankets, and mattress cover.

2. Assemble bunk beds. Purchase twin-sized bedding, which includes all the items listed above times two. Hint: you do not need to put both rails on the top bunk bed if it is pushed against the wall, because (A) it is redundant, and (B) it is a bitch to put sheets on. (I slept in the top bunk for an entire year of college and I know I did not have that much trouble putting sheets on it . Oh, because I apparently didn't worry about falling out in the middle of the night and cracking my head open.)

3. Purchase and assemble two dressers from IKEA because the previous furniture does not match the new beds.

4. Move dresser and vanity table from bedroom to nursery/playroom. Go through every frickin' toy known to man: Keep / Donate / Toss? Answer: 60% / 30% / 10%. Come close to doing yourself harm when you can't figure out where you are going to put it all and it isn't even Christmas yet.

5. Organize clothes to place in new dressers. Fill two bins of clothes for attic storage, bring the next bin of hand-me-downs in for little sister. While you're up there, re-organize the attic a little bit, you will have plenty of time to kill.

6. Take a break and assemble two dressers for your own room, so you can finally get the ten piles of clothes off the floor and actually give the appearance of being a grown-up.

7. Move the changing table from the nursery to the "master" bedroom to get the other five piles of clothes off the floor. Drop the cable box, so even though you finally can have the TV at a good angle to watch from bed, you will only be able to see things in black and white.

8. Move the crib into the middle of the playroom so you can organize around it, because taking it apart at this point is a sure sign that you're going to be pregnant next month.

9. Fill 4 nylon laundry bins with stuffed animals. Fill 1 big plastic container (the kind in which you used to place kegs of beer) with baby dolls. Fill another with dress-up/pretend play items. Determine how many pooh bears you can move to the "donate" pile or at least pass-off to the basement without a third-party noticing. Answer: None.

10. Determine you are, in fact, not pregnant and thus commission the dis-assembly of the crib to move to the attic. Store all nursery bedding and accessories.

11. Bring train table and rolling storage bins up from the basement to the playroom.

12. Remove all remnants of owning children from the living room by assigning toys to the playroom, bedroom, or basement. Okay, I haven't personally gotten this far yet. It's a stretch goal.

Did I mention that you should try to do all of this in one week while holding down full-time jobs outside the home? Because that is key.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kalahari

20 days till Christmas...7 days till "Cousin's Christmas" which I volunteered to host...a television to run electrical to and mount above a fireplace...cookies to bake....presents to shop for...might as well go to Kalahari for the weekend.

A month ago, friends of ours asked if we were interested in sharing a suite at this indoor water park for a night and we knew the girls would love it, so we agreed.

Saturday morning, Scott got an oil change in his car, ran to Home Depot for electrical boxes and to Dick's for a new swim suit, because for some reason he didn't want to wear his triathlon Speedo around the park.

Meanwhile, I packed suitcases, cleaned up the house (although my dog-sitting brother could probably argue on the cleanliness factor), grabbed snacks from Walgreens and bought a Christmas tree.

Yes...bought a Christmas tree. I have to get that thing in the house by Wednesday to have it decorated in time.

So we managed to get on the road by 1:30 and Kalahari is about an hour away.

I had forgotten the girls' flip flops, so I forced them to put their shoes on with their bathing suits, because we had what felt like a mile walk to the actual water park portion of the hotel, including passing through a major Chuck E Cheese-type game area. Of course Morgan wasted no time pointing out all the other people walking through the hotel barefoot. I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about that.

And I don't know why I was also so disturbed about the number of people walking through the hotel in nothing but a wet bathing suit, when on the other side of the doorway everyone was walking around in wet bathing suits, but I was.

Two observations:

(1) The eight of us may have been the only people in all of Kalahari that didn't have a single tattoo.

(2) I apparently do not need to be so self-conscious of my slightly squishy tummy. (But I will keep it safely tucked inside my completely average full-piece tank swimsuit, thankyouverymuch.)

I was actually a little worried about my rudeness rage, which is only slightly less sensitive than my road rage. I thought for sure I would be at my strangling-point by at least an hour in, but it never even bubbled.

I don't know if it was because all the parents were slightly buzzed with alcohol (although I only saw one lady visibly drunk and it was when we went back down to the game room after dinner) or everyone was just happy to let life guards watch their kids for a few hours.

A note on the life guards: None of them looked any older than 16 and at least 50% of them looked like they had no desire to jump in and save someone, and I am trusting them with my life?

Either way, everyone pretty much kept to themselves so I have no good blog fodder. Damnit.

Oh, except that Jen and I scared the crap out of ourselves on the slides. We had let the guys take control of all four kids while we tried a slide on our own. We decided on the enclosed pair of slides where we would each take off from a separate one and come out somewhat together. But neither of us had considered how fast, or how dark it was.

I think if it had lasted any longer I might have had an actual panic attack. Yes, I am a wimp. (Did I ever tell you my skiing story?)

Otherwise...completely uneventful...in a good way. I highly recommend it.

See, Jen, I made it the whole blog without mentioning how many times you fell and/or dropped your baby!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Belated Thanksgivings

I know you've all been patiently waiting for another installment of my so called life...I regret to inform you this isn't it. (But I have it waiting in the wings for my next post, which won't be so long in coming.)

1. My oldest brother is in a Coronary Care Unit due to some life-threatening (at the time) blood clots post knee surgery.

2. We awoke at 3 am last night to water dripping from our bedroom ceiling. Turned out to be a minor problem due to the massive wind (or so we are hoping), but unnerving none the less. I spent the rest of the night dreaming about rain pouring in all over the house.

3. There's been a case of head lice in the kindergarten classroom that will require me to pay close attention to Morgan's hair hygiene for the next couple of weeks.

4. My iPod has mysteriously gone missing.

I'm thankful for hospitals and doctors and CAT scans and blood-thinning pharmaceuticals and my brother's fiance for forcing him into the emergency room. I'm thankful Scott and I have friends and family with which to share holidays, health concerns, legal advice and Caddyshack jokes.

I'm thankful for our beautiful old house that keeps us safe and warm and looks great in retro Christmas lights and doesn't look like either house next to it. And that I have heat and electricity and water....and cable.

I'm thankful for our two children and all the germs, stray dogs, rocks, flowers, laughter, sand, acorns, birds nests, hugs, and head lice they may or may not bring with them; because that means they're alive and here with me. (And able to make the comment, "Look, there's a turkey strangling a pilgrim!" when we see a large inflatable from the highway.)

And I'm thankful for MP3 players where ever they are, but I'm also thankful I'm not opposed to singing Christmas carols and Glee soundtracks without accompaniment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homes for the Holidays 2010

Saturday was our annual fund raiser for the Early Childhood PTA. The premise is a homes tour, and we try to have the home owners matched with decorators to create "holiday" themes in the homes to get people into the Christmas spirit....yada, yada, yada.

Basically, we coerce six to eight home owners into letting people trample through their homes and suffer the degradation of people criticizing them for the smallest of defects. (Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, because the majority of people do make positive comments, but I'm always amazed out what comes out of people's mouths.)

I volunteer to stand in a home for a few hours to make sure the old ladies don't steal anything and nobody uses the tour home toilets.

I was in a very nice home built in 2000 where my only two criticisms were:

1. The builder did not lay their sub-flooring correctly on the second floor. Every step you took would creak and give with your feet. Although maybe the owners requested this so they always knew when their kids were sneaking out. I don't know. All I know is that my parents built their house in the 1980s and it does not make those noises.

2. I spent all three hours staring at a large ridge in the carpeting that ran the length of the bedroom, because it had not been stretched properly. I'm sure they didn't install it like that, but it had obviously been there a long time.

Now I challenge you to come into my home and have only two criticisms.

As far as other people's opinion...

"Is this the master bedroom?" Well, it has a king-sized bed and his/her closets and built-in dressers, so yes. Followed by either, "Then where is the master bathroom?" or "Then why are there stuffed animals on the bed?"

It's not so much that they asked about the master bath, it was the way they asked. Like they were appalled that a master bedroom wouldn't have it's own bath. So apparently, my house (built in 1920 and therefore unencumbered by the need to have tubs big enough in which to swim and toilets close enough one doesn't have to strain their muscles to get to them) would not pass the test.

On top of it, when they were shown the door to said bath, they were equally appalled that the home owners had closed it off for the day. Do you really need to see where people void their bowels??? I appreciate an aesthetically pleasing bathroom as much as the next person, but let's really think about what you are asking to look at, people.

As for the stuffed animals, they were clearly part of the Christmas decor, placed against the throw pillows on the bed. It's not like they were being snuggled up to in bed at night. What is the big deal? I cannot even tell you how many people made that comment, though. It was unfathomable to me.

Note to my mother: if people tour your home they will apparently think no adults live there, since there are teddy bears in every room.

"See how this vaulted ceiling makes the room so much more capacious?" I'm not kidding. That is a quote from one of the few men I saw on the tour...I wasn't even sure it was a word. I had to look it up. What's wrong with the word spacious? It's a perfectly acceptable word.

There was a lot of interest in the home owner's wedding picture that was hanging on the wall, the sentiment ranging from "Oh, isn't that a beautiful dress" to "Wow, she was clearly married in the 80's". (I was of the latter contingent.)

The general consensus was that the built-in dressers seemed very convenient, but they must not be planning to move ever, since they clearly wouldn't be able to take those with them. Umm...they have these things called stores where you can purchase furniture that one doesn't currently own or needs to replace. I think they'll be okay and there is no need to pigeonhole them into the house for all eternity.

One final note. I hate the smell of vanilla air fresheners, stemming from a long ride back to college with someone who felt the need to have 5 of them hanging from their rear view mirror. So of course the room I am assigned to is burning a vanilla candle. Just another day in the life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Trial

Parent-Teacher Conference Day

I've been dreading this day since I got my reminder notice a few weeks ago. Because if something is going wrong, it's not Morgan's fault. She's five. So it kind of fall's on me. And therefore this parent-teacher conference is really just a critique of my parenting skills.

Part of this is brought on by my pre-school parent-teacher conference last year, in which the very pleasant teacher asked me if Morgan had any stress at home, because she sometimes would get very nervous if she was asked to do multiple or difficult tasks.

"Well, now that you mention it...if she makes a mistake in her flashcards I make her walk a medieval gauntlet I erected in the basement."

So, by the time this morning hit, I had a small knot in the pit of my stomach. Stressed? Why would she be stressed? No one in my family stresses?

(Not to mention I've been riding out a slight hormonal imbalance this month that had already caused me to (1) burst into tears in front of my boss and (2) fight to keep it together as we drove past a cemetery and Morgan asked me where we were going to bury Potter when he died.)

I brilliantly scheduled this conference for 7:30 AM.

I may have mentioned that I have trouble getting out of the house in the morning. No? Not six or seven or twenty times? Well, I have what you may call a bit of a "sleep deprivation" problem which causes me to procrastinate throwing back the covers. Most days I'm leaving the house at about 7:45 to get the girls to Thea's, so I somehow had to gain a half hour.

We didn't do too bad. The parents before us were still there chatting when we got there, so I call that a win. Okay, we cut it close. But we also didn't take the full 15 minutes, so no harm done.

Morgan's polite and kind.

This was a surprise, because at home she's all, "Shut up, bitch, make me a bowl of spaghetti-o's!"

She hates doing her letter formation. And this is a girl that loves books. But she really struggles with writing, and therefore is pretty stubborn about doing it. Hmmm, you mean she doesn't like doing things she's not good at, because she can feel people judging her? So much so, that she doesn't even want to practice to get better? Hmm...who does that remind me of? It's somebody, I'm very close to...hmmmm.

Anyway, that was the worst of it. And it was something I already knew.

My only question was whether or not she had friends. I mean, I got the impression that she did, but since Mrs. D's class has all the kids that are on IEPs, I kind of wondered how that was affecting her social skills (not saying that all kids on IEPs have social problems - just a general pondering from a parent that doesn't have to deal with that daily).

Well, she must get that question a lot, because she pulled out a notebook where she spent the last several days recording who played with who, where, and for how long.

So on Wednesday last week Morgan started in the play kitchen areas with Lilly, Elizabeth and Jay and then went over to the computers with Molly and Daniel, etc.

I was pretty impressed. Not with Morgan, with Mrs. D. That must have been a giant pain in the ass, but I guess how else could she remember?

Anyway, it's over for another year. I can now lapse back into apathy.

Author's Note: Did you catch the three paraphrased movie quotes in this post?
"Over-reacting? Why would I over-react? Nobody in my family over-reacts?" Annie Banks, Father of the Bride
"I have what you may call a bit of a "weight" problem." John Candy's character, Stripes
"Shut up, bitch, make me a turkey-pot-pie." John Bender, Breakfast Club

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010 Recap


Coming up for a breath of fresh fall air between Halloween and Christmas. Instead of a long-winded and boring journal entry, I'll recap by the numbers.

October 23
50 bales of hay thrown into loft. Okay, so Scott threw and I stacked. Okay, so John stacked the majority and I supervised.

2 kittens named. In a burst of un-feral abnormalcy, two of this year's kittens are actually allowing the girls to catch and hold them. Even though Zoe's idea of cuddling is a Lou Ferigno sleeper hold. Morgan has dubbed them Fickey and Mickey. She pretends to be able to tell them apart.

October 24
8 adults arrive in Halloween-themed clothing to celebrate Scott's birthday. My idea. I'm cool like that. (This includes 2 grown men in Goonies Never Say Die t-shirts.)

October 27
101 Portrait Innovation pictures taken. Somehow managed to narrow down to 8, but I got the CD for free, which means technically I have all 101.

October 29
1 kindergarten costume parade. 25% Star Wars, 30% Princess, 15% Fairy, 10% Athletes, 10% Toy Story, 10% Public Servant.

1 trip to Costco. 2 balloons from Red Robin. 1 massive stomach ache.

October 30
1 werewolf that scared the bejeezus out of Zoe. (Thank you, Uncle John.) After convincing her that it was only Whitney in a mask, we headed out to the Merchant Trick or Treat parade where I begged Malley's to give my children extra candy for me. "Treats" included: 1 pass to Pace Fitness for an adult (?), sugar free candy and toothbrush from the dentist (come on!), some "organic" candy (isn't that an oxymoron? i didn't even chance it. straight in the garbage.). I personally feel that KeyBank should have been giving dollar bills, but that's just me.

2 trips to the bounce house at the PTA party for Zoe, who until that day had been terrified of them. 4 crafts made that are still sitting on the floor of my car. 1 of which includes the emptied contents of half an Elmer's glue bottle, so now pretty much anything that ends up on the floor of the passenger side is stuck.

250 fish fried by Uncle Mike to celebrate a visit from the Maryland contingent of the family. 50 song requests for Cousin Jake's guitar, only 5 of which he actually knew. Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" being the overall favorite of the little ones.

1 trip to the drive through beverage at 11:30 pm...for milk...because Aunt Charlie - despite inviting the whole famn damily over - only maintains Lactaid in her refrigerator.

October 31
1 more Swigart family visit...just to round things out for the day.

46 degrees outside at 6pm. Official tricks or treats start time.

7th and final appearance of Dorothy. 3rd and final appearance of Shirley Temple. Dorothy refuses to wear a coat. I give up.

26 full-sized candy bars dispensed. Typically, we have about 5 kids come to our house because our road is too busy for the little ones and there are way too many other neighborhoods serving beer. We believe the influx may have been caused by Mo Williams opening his gates across the street. Like the Pied Piper of Hamilton, kids could hear him calling from blocks away.

10 pounds of candy. 1 pound donated by Morgan for kids who can't trick or trick..."Mommy, did you know there are places in this world where it is not safe?" What's a holiday, without a lesson in morality.

Until next year, rest in peace.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stats

Ever since I've learned there is a "stats" tab on my blogger dashboard (which is shockingly not long), I've been consiously trying NOT to pay attention to it.

But that is futile.

And while it is interesting to see how many people view my blog without ever commenting (come on, like you don't have a story of your own to make me seem even the least bit less ridiculous?), that is not what I find myself looking at.

Disclaimer: I cannot see who specifically is looking in any way, shape, or form. Your secret is safe with me.

My favorite stat is under "Traffic Sources" and it tells me what search words were used to get to my blog. Mostly just versions of Hatter's Clean Cup, obviously. And sometimes if I write about something of pop culture, those key words show up.

Top 2 Favorite Search Terms (because most of them are boring):

Annual Gyno Exam - Probably not what they were looking for.
Courtney Cox Left Eyebrow - WTF? What's wrong with Courtney Cox Left Eyebrow and how many of you are going to google it after you leave this blog?

My next favorite stat comes under the heading "Audience" and it tells me from what countries people are logging in. Right under United States? South Korea with 30 hits this year. I can only assume it is the same person trying to find Courtney Cox's left eyebrow and forgetting they've already searched here.

Denmark had 14 and all I can think is, "Is Denmark still a country?" Where the hell have they been? No offense Denmark, my Great Grandmother was born there and I'm sure you have lots of important goings on like attending your annual gyno exams like clockwork.

Other country of note - Romania - who I can only assume is on to my vampire theories surrounding my brother John.

Moral of this story...if you do a google search on Favorite South Korea Cox - you'll probably end up here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Killed My Cell Phone

I have really needed to get a new phone since…oh, let’s see…my first blackberry lept off the roof of my car while I was getting on the highway to come home after work. That was over a year ago.

Up until today, I had been using Denise’s previous model, that she let me “borrow” until I was due for an upgrade in…oh, let’s see…April 2010. And considering I’ve known that the bank was going to stop paying for my data plan since…oh, let’s see…April 2010…I really should have gotten one by now, but thankfully I had not.

Today I knocked my/Denise’s phone off my kitchen counter and into Potter’s water bowl (which includes both water and St. Bernard slobber). It has not recovered.

I knocked my phone off the counter, looking for a thermometer – a thermometer that I used maybe an hour prior to the incident and have not found since. Seriously, where could it have gone?

I needed a thermometer because Morgan was home sick with a fever. And let me tell you it takes a lot to keep Morgan down. She’s like her dad – works through the pain. Me…if I have to use more than one Kleenex in the morning, I’m ready to call off work. (But I don’t, of course, which can be attested to by Gregg and Mary who share wall space with me.)

Morgan was most likely sick from a typical weekend approaching Halloween, which to a little kid ranks below Santa but above the Easter Bunny.

Saturday started with a trip to the dentist, moved on to a friend’s Halloween Tea Party Birthday (which marks her first appearance in costume for the season), and ended with a cousin sleepover.

Sunday came with the promise of a trip to Grandpa Ray’s pumpkin patch which he had put in a corner of his farm especially for the great grand children. This had been hyped for about a week.

When we got there, the girls ran to where we pointed then stopped and turned in circles. “Where’s the pumpkin patch?”

Umm…you’re standing in it.”

Okay, so not exactly the pumpkin patch where one might spend Halloween night, missing tricks or treats and awaiting the arrival of the fabled Great Pumpkin…but it did the job. In retaliation for this less than extraordinary (but in my opinion, completely sincere) pumpkin patch…the Great Pumpkin killed my cell phone.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bay Village Bicentennial Celebration

Yes, I know I have my fun with the city of Bay Village, but I do love living here. No, my kids don’t experience “diversity” every day, nor are they exposed to poverty.

Example:
Mommy: (explaining why I wanted the television turned off) You know, some people don’t even have a TV.
Morgan: (**gasp** then silent, thoughtful reflection) Well, Mom, we could always invite them to come watch at our house. They could all take turns watching one show, because it’s always nice to share.

The majority (maybe all, I don't know) of public land in Bay Village was willed to the city from the Cahoon family that settled here on October 10, 1810 under the stipulation that the city could not use the property for any organized events (specifically boating and swimming) on Sundays.

So with great irony, our bicentennial fell on…Sunday. Hmm, what to do…I’ll tell you what you do…you throw a church service into the middle of the festivities. Hi, Loophole.

And while it was a very a nice service (with all six churches represented)…and I get that the town was founded by very Christian people…and I’m not all about political correctness…I don’t know…it still felt wrong to be excluding people…even if they are the extreme minority…

On the other hand, it’s great to have a community that is so committed to our children and to creating a place that shows the value of doing things as a family, by putting on these amazing events like Bay Days and Movies in the Park. It makes the saying “it takes a village” seem quite poetic.

So, yes, I enjoyed myself immensely and the girls had a blast. Thank you, Ida Cahoon. And my apologies to my one Jewish friend. And now, for your viewing pleasure...a photo essay.

Crafts, Civil War Era demonstrations, and Beer Can Chicken (not actually at the bicentennial, it's on my own grill, but I always think it’s funny to look at beer can chicken)






Parade



Lighting of the new cupola (again, my dummy-proof camera is not exactly great for night shots)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Morgan, Zoe, and my DVR

Morgan

Never have I wished for public school uniforms more than I have this week.

Changing Morgan's mindset from summertime dresses and crocs to wintertime socks, long sleeves, and (god forbid) pants ranks rights up there with cleaning up the St. Bernard piles of poop from my living room carpet. Actually, cleaning up the poop took up a lot less time, and Potter didn't fight me about it. He took it like a man, despite the fact I made him stay outside while it was raining.

Morgan's list of grievances include, but are not limited to:

"Pants that touch her feet" (Anything other than capris or leggings.)

Shoes that are "too tight" (AKA actually fit her appropriately)

Long-sleeve shirts that aren't pretty enough. (Anything that is a solid color or a pattern other than rainbow. These would be the same shirts that actually coordinate with the patterned skirts and leggings, so you see my dilemma.)

Socks that "bother her" (AKA any sock with seams across the toes. FYI - ALL socks have seams across the toes. While I don't think this is worthy of the flood of tears it produces in Morgan, I do wonder why socks can't be made with seams on the outside, or no seam at all. That has to be possible. And for those of you who are about to suggest I turn the socks inside out...if you think Morgan is wearing solid colored plain socks, you are sorely mistaken. Trust me when I say her socks cannot be turned inside out.)

Sleeves that touch her wrists (This is not as bad as pants that touch her feet, but it's up there.)

Collars that touch her neck (The one thing I've been able to cut out of her wardrobe...until the winter coat comes along.)

I'm actually considering having her evaluated for some kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Normally, I would self-diagnose, but since Scott frowns on my use of WebMD for my own aches and pains, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't believe me if I confirmed Morgan's diagnosis on crazypeople.com.

Zoe

Spent Wednesday walking everywhere in Morgan's flip flops. Not flip flops that used to be Morgan's. Morgan's current flip flops.

If Lydia is at Thea's, they trade shoes for the day. Luckily Thea is good at remembering, because there have been many a time when I would have walked out without noticing.

Sometimes she wears a pair and carries a pair and puts a pair in the diaper bag. (You just never know what the situation will call for. A girl must be prepared.)

She never wants to wear the pair I give her, even if she happily wore them the day before.

She has requested to sleep with her shoes on more than one occasion. Not on her feet, but rather holding them like stuffed animals.

Contrarywise - none of her dolls are allowed to wear shoes.

DVR

When last I left you...

I can't believe I forgot to mention Melissa & Joe on ABC Family. Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Joey Lawrence (Blossom) [Or for you children of the 80's Clarissa Explains All and Gimme A Break]. This is almost a rehashing of yet another 80's classic Who's The Boss, but Who Cares. Love the witty banter and might also enjoy the fact that her butt looks bigger than mine now.

Raising Hope - First episode was funny but mildly disturbing. By the second episode, I was over the disturbing part and laughing my ass off. Definitely a keeper.

Running Wilde - I wish I had that half hour of my life back.

Modern Family - If you have ever had a family, you should watch this show. And if Phil is not my brother Charlie, I do not know who is. This is my number one show. Period. Manny: I think I'm going to wear my burgundy jacket. Gloria: Of course you are.

Cougartown - I still think this is really funny, but it also has its moments of stupidity, so watch at your own risk. Courtney Cox is the most annoying mom ever, but when her craziness does not involve her son, she is very amusing. But her hillbilly ex-husband Bobby is the main reason to watch this show.

Community - I'm still going to watch it because of my inappropriate crush on Joel McHale, but these first two episodes have not been that funny. And enough with Betty White already. I can watch Golden Girls reruns anytime I want a fix.

The Office - I miss the old days, however...Dwight peeing in the elevator - classic!....Michael's face when they tell him Toby is his counselor - priceless! (I haven't watched the second episode yet.)

Programming note: I have not watched Outsourced yet, but it is on my list. Did you notice the shocking lack of hour-long drama's from my DVR list? I can't do it anymore. With the exception of Haven and Pretty Little Liars, I have not had the ability to pick up a new drama and stick with it. Maybe it's Lost aftershock. I'm not sure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cups and Saucers

Morgan’s Version of a Classic Joke
One night I was in Africa and I stuffed an elephant wearing my pajamas. How did he get in my pajamas? Ha Cha Cha Cha.

Zoe’s Version
Elfant in my jamas. Ha Tsa Tsa. (Really she just likes the Ha Tsa Tsa part and doesn’t feel a lead in is necessary.)

4 Things that Bug Me About Wlakers/Joggers
People that walk while reading a book…that’s what audio books were made for. How do you even do that without getting a headache?

People that walk in the road when there is a perfectly good sidewalk. (Being married to a runner, I understand running in the road, but walking doesn’t make sense.)

People that jog slower than I can walk. Don’t kid yourself; you aren’t better than the walkers.

People that look like they are in physical pain while running. I’m not talking sweaty, elevated heart-rate at the end of a long run. I’m talking about the people whose faces immediately contort into victims of torture the moment they leave their driveway. Find a new form of exercise.

Potter’s Rebellion
I think Potter is sensing that we have him one foot in the grave. He’s been randomly dragging his ass upstairs to sleep in our room again. So perhaps he had stopped because of the blindness, and is now getting comfortable with it.

Also, he’s using his blindness as an excuse to try to eat off people’s plates. He just sticks his nose right up there now. “What? I thought she was handing me the piece of bologna.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Renewed Love Affair with my DVR - Part 1

To recap the summer:

Entourage went to a dark place that kept me from regularly tuning in, but I heard it was good from a reliable source, namely the person I married and force to watch SyFy programming.

True Blood redeemed itself in the last two episodes as far as Eric goes, but listen up, Alan Ball...if you don't lighten up on the Lafayette weirdness and making Sam a psycho, I will be fast forwarding through two thirds of your vampire show that is actually only one forth vampire these days.

Dear SyFy network...why does your best show (Eureka) have the shortest season? Or is that the point? Kind of hard to jump the shark when you don't get on the water skis. P.S. I will allow loopholes in the time-space continuum if you keep bringing Stark back to antagonize Carter. P.P.S. Brilliant move to let Eureka lead in to Haven because I am already hooked. Although, your promos about it being based on King's The Colorado Kid were grossly misleading...or were they?

You know it is fall (and you have kids up past primetime) when you turn on the TV and get a message that the cable boxes are all occupied and you need to cancel a recording or stop trying to watch something that isn't being recorded. Come on, U-Verse, show some compassion. How do I know if I need to record a series if I can't record a single episode?

I'll start off light (because there's only been three shows watched so far )...

Life Interrupted will indeed most likely be interrupted, because I see us walking down a very familiar hallway that leads to the same thing that happened last season.

Boardwalk Empire...HBO is starting strong again, which I didn't think could happen because Steve Buscemi is no Alexander Skarsgard, but I was mistaken. (Plus, I don't want Buscemi sending me to the wood chipper if I don't like his show.) However...they may run into the problem of not enough likeable characters...or at least characters you love to hate.

Glee...first off, Morgan has been sucked in, so I can now watch it real time and not feel guilty. It's bonding! And can I just say "What I Did For Love" was shear brilliance. Brought back fond memories of the excruciatingly horrible Firelands High School choir and our "A Chorus Line" medley. Kiss today goodbye and point me toward tomorrow...season premiers of Modern Family and Cougartown.

Sidebar: Prior to watching Glee, Morgan and I had a competitive game of Wii bowling. I have finally found someone less coordinated than I am! Yes, she is five. "Press, step, swing, let go. What don't you understand?!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Value of Money

Ever since I banned the phrase “I want that,” from our household, Morgan has been very interested in "how many dollars" things cost. Loophole: Instead she uses the phrase “I would maybe like that for my birthday/Christmas.” Semantics? Yes.

For the last year, we have let her take the change from our pockets to put in her bank and I recently cashed it in at a Coinstar for her, but she’s starting to get depressed in the knowledge that it takes a lot of money to buy things from The Disney Store.

On having five dollars left to spend…
Morgan: How many dollars is this?
Mommy: Nine.
Morgan: (dramatic sigh) Put it on my Christmas list, I guess.

This went on throughout the store and it was heartbreaking, but hopefully a lesson learned.

We are even letting her do “chores” to earn money, but we’re trying to keep it reasonable, because I will admit I was a bit concerned she’d bankrupt us with her initiative. So it’s fifty cents here, a quarter there type of pay.

She also has no patience, so “saving” isn’t her strong suit. On leaving the store that day, she was okay with saving for the Alice doll, but by the time she got home the futility sank in that the doll was twenty dollars and it was going to take her “forever” so “just add it to the Christmas list.”

Because money in her hand burns the proverbial hole in her pocket. She just has to spend it on something. Even if it isn’t what she really wants. Thus making it take longer to save. Yet another lesson.

So last Tuesday, a Talent Group check came in the mail. These usually come around a couple months after the photo shoots occur, so they are always a little bit of a surprise. And this one was substantial, because it was a longer shoot and included a travel stipend. (Read about that joy here.)

Normally, I put this money into her savings account without even saying anything. I figure if she keeps at it for a while, she’ll have some spending money in college. Maybe she’ll be the one offering to buy the kegs when she moves into her first off-campus apartment.

But Scott pointed out that she did earn the money, so maybe she should be allowed to decide what to do with a small part of it. He’s the good cop. I’m the bad cop.

So that Tuesday night I show her the check and explain where it came from. And that the next day we could take it to the bank and that they would give us dollar bills for it and put it in her account. But that she could have twenty-five dollars out of it to spend.



Pure joy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who Wants Coffee, Who Wants Tea?

Celebrity Death Match

135 pound St. Bernard, recently gone blind vs. 2 1/2 year old, hopped up on marshmallows and pushing an umbrella stroller like she's driving Talladega.

And the St. Bernard wins. Zoe sustains road rash from the cement driveway over her left eyebrow.

He was not given a good night hug.

Babes in Toyland

What law is it that the minute Morgan has a friend over to play, she is consumed by an all-powerful force that demands her to drag them to the basement to rummage through garbage bags of toys not played with for a year, instead of up to her room with all of the most recent items she's suckered people into buying for her?

The Lost Art of Dining

During my massive cleaning spree, I came across “the tray” and cursed it for the millionth time.

It is a tray I bought for Morgan a few years ago and I don’t remember if it was originally intended so she could eat in front of the TV (that would be bad, right?) but that’s its soul purpose for Zoe.

The problem with this tray is that it has this little trough around the edge that crumbs and juice splatters end up in, and is a pain in the ass to clean. Plus Morgan put stickers all over it, so even when I wipe it clean it still looks dirty.

So I thought…I should buy a couple new trays that don’t have those annoying features.

It got me thinking about the good ol’ days of TV trays. I suppose they fell out of favor when people started putting televisions in their kitchens. But I remember when everyone had them. In our house, the TV tray was used for two main purposes.

The first was a place for my mom to put her supplies while making clothespin doll ornaments around Christmas time, so she could sew while watching Scarecrow and Mrs. King or MacGuyver.

The second was when we stayed home sick from school and got to rest on the couch while Family Feud, Password, and $100,000 Pyramid were on. The TV tray was provided to eat our soup and drink our ginger ale from the comfort of the green tweed davenport, without causing too much distress on our weakened bodies.

In my maternal grandparents’ house - which was actually a double-wide trailer - there wasn’t room for a big dining room table, so family gathering necessitated their use for birthday dinners.

If I recall, Aunt Charlie had metal ones and Aunt Cheryl had wooden ones, but maybe I have that backward.

I did a quick poll of my co-workers to find out when these went on the endangered species listing and even the twenty-somethings remembered them, so it must be fairly recent, which makes me feel a little better.

They usually look at me like I have one foot in the grave I’m so old.

And that's all the clean cups for the day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MoZo's Road to Iron Man - Rev3 Cedar Point

I'm still working on the Road to Iron Man blog for Scott and we're getting some formatting things worked out, so I'll place this here for now.

Scott completed his first half-Iron Man distance this last Sunday, which is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run (half marathon). It was on the Sandusky coast of Lake Erie and ended inside Cedar Point - "America's roller coast" and home to the steepest and fastest steel roller coaster on earth, among other things awesome.

Scott had to be there at 6:30 am, even though his wave didn't go off until 8:30, and my plan was to get me and the girls there to snap a picture of him coming out of the water somewhere around 9:30 (yeah, swimming in a great lake for an hour...fun).

This is the scene that awaited me.


You don't see any bikes in there, do you? Because I got there about 10:30 and every single person had gotten out of the water. Those are all the "halfers" wet suits laying there.

So....we did a little recon at the park entrance. The park rides don't open until noon this time of year, but Scott's entry fee included two passes (which I think are really up to $35 or $40 dollars now) and I wanted to confirm Zoe was going to be free.

Then we went back to stake out a place to see the bikers coming in. Even though the pros and full distance runners went off on the swim first, they halfers end up coming into the bike transition first.

While we waited, I could hear the park open at 11:30 when they asked for people to stand for the National Anthem. Don't get me started. I stood up and made the girls stop playing, so I was able to notice all the other people that didn't do the same. DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!!!

Okay...then we got to see Scott bike in...


And run out...

...looking strong, and even managed a wave for the girls.
Off to the park for lunch and some kiddie rides. A little bit after that, we met up with the "Seniors" (Nana and Papa Turtle) and stalked the finish line.
Rev3 was great, they had a huge jumbo tron and were announcing all the runners by name as they came in. So I was almost prepared (even though he was in a half hour earlier than expected) at the finish line to take the winning photo.
Unfortunately, my camera was still set to video because I had to record Morgan laughing on the Kiddie Demon Drop. So instead of taking a picture, I started recording a video which is mostly me fumbling the camera around and yelling "son of a bitch", before getting a shot of him walking away with his participant stash (another Kudos to Rev3 for all the cool swag).
I would upload it, but I'm an idiot and can't figure out how to make it work.
Finished in 5 hours and 15 minutes. 95 out of 800 or so. 21 out of approximately 100 in his age group.
The pro that won the full iron man, finished just over 8 hours! Just thinking about that makes me want to go to bed for a week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Days of Labor

Would you believe it was a holiday weekend and I don't have anything to rant about? What a refreshing change of pace.

I had decided that I was going to start "fall cleaning" the house, since it's been an eternity since I've mopped the floors and we suddenly have a LOT of cobwebs, even though I haven't seen any spiders. I can only assume I'm eating them in my sleep.

I told Scott that I intended to get everything done on the main floor, but his response was somewhere between a guffaw and "Whatchyou talkin bout, Willis?"

I decided to be content if I could finish the living room, which I did by Sunday afternoon.

That included moving both couches (which is always a test of my gag reflexes), rolling up the rug to mop the entire floor (how do Oreo crumbs wind up way under there?), and...drum roll...shaking out all the curtains (actually very sheer roman shades, so not that difficult, but it made me feel like I was doing something important and Martha Stewart-ish).

It still smells like Murphy's Oil Soap, which was nice for the first ten minutes, but now is kind of making me nauseous.

On Monday, I gave myself the new goal of finishing the foyer, stairway and powder room, because none of those places have actual furniture to move.

I lost ambition after I vacuumed and went on sabbatical, sitting down with my Book Club required reading.

I somehow managed to re-motivate myself to wipe down the baseboards (particularly nasty in this area, because Potter likes to rub his face on them while he's chasing rabbits in his sleep), clean the sink (where the girls prefer to brush there teeth, but I had not bothered to rinse the toothpaste down), and get my mop back out (since the Murphy's scent had started to fade).

My kitchen continues to taunt me. But despite the suspicious sticky floor spot by the sink, and the inability to keep the pantry doors from bursting open...I still feel a sense of accomplishment. And I don't feel so guilty about my children eating off the living room floor.

Doesn't this make you feel better about how clean your house is?

Disclaimer: I do actually clean the sink on a regular basis.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Potty Mouth

I work in a professional building downtown Cleveland. It houses the bank's support areas, a big four accounting firm, and a major law firm...among other things.

There is a cafeteria in this building that we all share. Occasionally, I'll stop in the restroom on that floor.

There, on the back of each stall door, is a taped piece of paper that states, "Please make sure your seat is clean and the toilet is completely flushed before leaving."

1. Noting the clientele above that use these facilities, does it bother anyone else that this had to be put in writing?

2. If a person was to make a mess on the seat, do you think they are the type of person that could be swayed by a plea scotch taped to the door?

3. Does the cleaning crew not know they are signing on for this type of risk when the choose to enter the toilet cleaning industry?

It's like the signs that everyone puts up asking us women-folk not to flush our "tampons and sanitary napkins" (seriously, who flushes pads?) because they clog the plumbing. There are the people that do and the people that don't. Your sign is not going to change that.

I would prefer more helpful signage, like:

"Did you remember to make sure your skirt is not tucked into your underwear?"

"Beware of loose toilet paper stuck to your shoe."

"Reminder: The lights in here are fluorescent. You don't actually look like this."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mockingjay

Disclaimer: I'm not a good book reviewer, because I either tell too much, or it is so scrambled that people think "Why would I ever read that book?" But here is what I can tell you:

What: Mockingjay (Book 3 of The Hunger Games Trilogy - The Hunger Games #1 and Catching Fire #2)

Who: I would say from Junior High up. They are classified as Young Adult, but every Old Adult that I have coerced into reading them has loved them.

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but don't let that scare you. It's not aliens and witches and vampires. It's only classified that way because it is set in what's left of a post-apocalyptic world. The author describes it as inspired by a mix between the Minotaur myth (sending children in to the labyrinth as tributes) and Spartacus (slave uprising)

I picked up The Hunger Games based on an inspiring book review. I finished The Hunger Games in total awe...and immediately sought out Catching Fire. That was last November and I have been patiently waiting for Mockingjay which came out this Tuesday. Due to life...I was only able to get to page 80 as of yesterday afternoon.

But for some reason the girls were in an accommodating mood that allowed me to read on the back porch while they played, which got me to about 140. And then I got them to bed on time.

That was it. With an occasional glance up when Scott turned on House Hunters...I made it through to page 389 a little before midnight. There was just no way I was going to bed before I knew.

It's a story about war and especially its effect on the children caught in the middle. And its a story about standing up for yourself and others that are weaker than you to fight for what is right, no matter the cost. (Almost sounded like Billie Jean, there.)

This is not Harry Potter. This is certainly not Twilight. It's not even His Dark Materials (which is another excellent Young Adult series). This is like nothing I have read in a LONG time. I don't think I've cried this hard over literary characters since Beth died in Little Women. (not counting animals, because spiders Charlotte's Web and rabid dogs Old Yeller are bound to tear your heart strings out.)

And that's not a spoiler...I cried over many things in this story that did not involve people dying. (Although, you have to know that people die in wars.) And you might wonder why I'm telling you to read a book that so obviously full of depressing subject matter.

But that's just it. I should be totally depressed by this story, but instead it's inspiring. Every single one of Collins' characters is beautifully drawn through their actions. Not easy to do, when a book is written in the first person.

And while dialog is always the toughest sell in a book (I think Stephen King once said to only use dialog if you can think of no other way to get the point across.) Collins is never wrong when she uses it, making the book flow along at the pace of the action.

And since I am trying desperately not to give away any spoilers, I will use the following words and you can come back to them after you read the books for yourself and make your own judgement. (Because how could you not read them after what I just told you?)

Prim's name announced.
The burnt loaves of bread.
Rue and the Mockingjay.
Katniss cries "Peeta!" after an announcement during the first Hunger Games.
Visit to District 8.
Gale's punishment.
Haymitch's promise to Katniss.
Cinna.
Mags.
The hovercraft appears in the arena.
The white rose in District 12.
Katniss's demands to agree to Mockingjay.
The "hijacking".
Katniss and Joanna's training.
Finnick.
Peeta and Gale's conversation in the Capitol.
"I'm with the Mockingjay."
Buttercup's return.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In My World the Books Would be Nothing But Pictures - Road To Kindergarten - Mommy Rampage

Scott will be rolling his eyes that I'm fired up enough to blog about this. But if I don't write it down I will stay bitter for far longer. This is my release.

Announcement 1
"Dear Parents,
Normandy School Open House will be on Tuesday, August 24, for you to meet your child's teacher before school begins...This is a time for parents and the teacher. Please do not bring any children to the Open House. You may bring your child's supplies so they will not have to carry them on the first day of school...."

Announcement 2
"Dear Parents,
...You can help your child transition to school by attending the Kindergarten Orientation on August 26. A parent or guardian must attend with the child and provide transportation..."

IN MY WORLD...."open house" means "please drop in while my house is open from this time to that time". It does not mean "show up at the start time and listen to me deliver a presentation based on my one page agenda".

IN MY WORLD..."orientation" would be the correct descriptive noun used to indicate there will be a lot of important information for you to understand in order for your child to succeed in this classroom.

Disclaimer - I do not fault the teacher, who is very sweet and didn't seem to care that we walked in 30 minutes after the start time. It's the school that called it an Open House.

So...is there some secret code in Bay Village that I am not aware of? Because how is it possible that I was the only one that didn't understand that Open House meant "you will be here from 5:30 - 6:15 or you will look like an ass in front of the parents of your child's future classmates?"

I am not off to a good start, so I will be making up for it be volunteering for all sorts of nightmarish duties.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paid Time Off - Part Two

No, you didn’t miss Part One. I’ll get back to it.

Total sidebar with no bearing on the following narrative: Turns out I wore my underwear inside-out today. This is what happens when you get dressed in the dark after having slept squished between your 5-year-old and your husband without access to a pillow for the last half of the night. Now back to the regularly scheduled blog.

Notice I didn’t use the term “vacation”. I did not go on “vacation” this year. I had Paid Time Off (PTO) from the bank. Most of which was spent at home alone with the girls (hence no “vacation”), but we did go to Chicago this past weekend.

Yes, we took our two little girls to the bustling city of Chicago, known for its shopping, tallest building, art museum, universities, and…beluga whales.


Let us not make the mistake of thinking we were going there with anything other than the sole purpose of watching those white “canaries of the sea.” Considering all the hype I gave it, it was destined to fail miserably, but for once in my life, I actually came through.
Beluga’s were a hit and the highlight of the trip, although I was a little concerned when I saw what they had to measure up to once we got to the hotel.
“Hey, there’s a bathtub if we get dirty! And a garbage can!! Our own bed!” Those are actual quotes, by the way. I’m not making that up. And the best, “This is better than our house!”
Thanks, Fairfield Inn and Suites.
Other than the belugas, there was no real plan, so Friday afternoon (after Zoe’s third change of clothes from spilling beverages in her car seat) we walked the Navy Pier, which did not impress the girls, because it was A.) too warm and B.) we had to walk there (except Zoe who enjoyed the lap of luxury in her Jeep stroller the whole trip).

We decided to go to Chinatown for dinner. Kids like chicken and rice (don't they?) and we figured there would be lots of interesting things to look at. It wasn’t until we got on the subway that I vaguely remember my Fodor’s Top 10 telling me to stay away from the South Loop in the evening.
Actually, it was fine. Our main problem was, once we got there, we had no idea where we should eat, so we wandered around aimlessly. Never good for the child we are forcing to walk.
And because we are ignorant, everything looks like a Chinese restaurant until you get up close and realize it’s a grocery or a jeweler or salon. By the time we stopped, everyone was starved.
Guess what…kids are not as fond of chicken and rice when it comes fried with peas and other vegetables. On the other hand, my sesame chicken, despite the fact that it was in a sauce the color of nothing known to the natural world, was a big hit. In fact Morgan proclaimed loudly that she “likes China food.”
On Saturday, the hotel scored big again because they had powdered donuts in their continental breakfast. Then an equally fascinating bus ride to the Museum Campus (if all else fails, throw a kid on public transportation, it's like the Emerald City to them).

We got there pretty early, plus we had the aforementioned Jeep, which meant we got to use the side entrance and didn't end up in the ungodly lines that even the Will Call people had to stand in. And I luckily knew from looking on line that I could cut the 4-D experience out and save $4 dollars a ticket from the lowest price they had posted on the wall. Take that, Shedd!

We spent almost three hours there with no melt downs and only $30 in souvenirs, mostly related to...beluga whales (and one sea lion for Zoe).

Here's the synopsis of the rest of the trip. Potbelly's lunch (awesome PB&J). Subway and long walk to Lincoln Park Zoo (finally something that's free!).


Ride on the endangered species carousel (and there may be a new seal obsession in the family).


Playing on the beach (while watching weird people wade into water - 15 degrees colder than Lake Erie - fully clothed - wtf?).


Even longer walk back to hotel (sneaking past the huge Disney store). Bath (see below). Chicago-style pizza delivered to the room by 9 pm (which is actually 10 pm in Cleveland, so can't be good for the girls' digestion). In the car by 9 the next morning.


"Bath Story" by Morgan

I'm going to make another Jaws movie, but I will have to wait until I'm grown up, because I'm going to need a lot of people to help me and I can't talk to strangers until I'm grown up. And this time there will be five people that get eaten, because it will be the fifth Jaws movie.

This is why Zoe refuses to get in the tub.
Author's Note: Seriously, blogger friends, how can I get my much-loved negative space when I post photos in my blog. It ALWAYS screws it up.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Band of Brothers and True Blood Update

No, it's not HBO.

Scott had to miss his triathlon today because he may have pulled both hamstrings while running after kids half his age. Score one for Phil and Jack.

And, it is HBO.

How is it possible that this season of "True Blood" was made by the same people as last season? The same people who brought us "Six Feet Under?" I'll admit, I wasn't avid fan in the first season, but last season was amazing. And I was all excited that they were using real wolves for the werewolves and not showing them morphing, because it cannot be done to my satisfaction.

Then they pull this crap!

B-movie gore for the vampire deaths? (When we all know from Buffy that they merely turn to dust.)

Porn for the sake of porn. (That's why we invented Cinemax.)

This dreamland fiasco that the alleged faeries live in. (Quite frankly, it reeks of being thought of by a man uncomfortable with that part of Harris's storyline, so why didn't he bring on some consultants or something? It's HBO for crying out loud.)

Erik turning from a complete bad ass into a squishy thing with...feelings...he's almost human. Yuck!

The only thing good about this season was Alcide and he's already gone. I will now go watch "Underworld" to cleanse my palette from this plate of bullshit. Bring on the lycans.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Band of Brothers

Have I mentioned how big soccer is in Bay Village? This is the first year Scott has participated in the Alumni game. Basically, if you played soccer for Bay High, you are always invited back to play the game against the upcoming varsity team.

Here is Scott (1993) pre-game with Matt "Z" Zastudil (1994). For those of you who enjoy minor celebrity sitings, Z is the brother of the Cleveland Browns punter. But to me, he's that goofy guy I worked with at Ernst & Young that's going to make partner in a couple years while I'm trying to get a cost of living raise.
I would say half the alumni team, if not more, is made up of guys that graduated in the last ten years. But there were a few out there from the late 70's (Morgan's first soccer coach being one of them) and early 80's. Z and his friend Chip (inducted into the Bay High Soccer Hall of Fame this year) were the closest to Scott's age, as his "friends" were too big of pussy's to join him (This means you, Phil and Jack.). They look good, don't they?


And here comes the competition. Yikes. These kids are wiry little bastards. I told Scott I don't remember us being so small in high school. Weren't we supposed to be full grown by then? Contrary to what this looks like, they are not line dancing. They were a highly choreographed fountain of energy.

They're good. But these old farts have gone on to play college soccer, maybe even more. We're talking about guys that have never even practiced together before tonight but could pass a ball down half the field with an accuracy that would frighten a special team sniper. And they could do it with their heads! I'm forever impressed. Morgan's former coach (the guy from the 70's) was one of the goalies and he had a few saves that you may have seen recently in the World Cup.
I mean look at the athleticism. Okay, my camera does not actually pick up athleticism well. Look at him run in a blurred fashion.


Scott let me in on some of the pre-game chatter from the coaches, one of whom organizes this event every year, as he addressed the alumni - many of whom were state champions in their day.
"Yes, those guys are younger, but you know you guys wouldn't be here if you weren't the best. So do me a favor...don't slide tackle them."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Things I have lied about recently.

I did not minor in English.




Recently, someone asked me for feedback on some instructions they were going to give out to certain employees that needed to complete a survey. I think he was looking more for content feedback, but I red lined the whole thing. I re-ordered things. I rearranged sentences. Then I felt bad. I mean, I was basically telling him his writing sucked and I've never even met him in person. So for some reason I thought it would be less painful if I told him I had a minor in English and couldn't control my editing impulses and that he could disregard them if he wished.



It should be noted that today he finally sent out the survey, and it was my version of the instructions.



Papa Leo is not necessarily going to buy a new pony for everyone. (Although he might if we bug him long enough.)



My brothers' and my families were recently at my parents for my dad's birthday. (Wow, that was a mouthful.) When my nephew Ben arrived, he overheard that we were planning on selling Scott's thoroughbred Sid. I came out the door to say hello to him, and he looked me in the face with tears welling up in his eyes. "How can you sell Sid? That's not fair."


I cannot watch other people cry. I was immediately in tears and told him that Papa was going to buy another horse that everyone could ride, since nobody other than Scott and I could ride Sid and we didn't have time.


Then I allowed myself to be talked into giving rides on Leo, even though it was 90 degrees out and the horseflies abounded. (I had a personal kill record of six in one hour.)


Yes, our horses names are Sid and Leo. Just picture two little old men sharing a New York apartment.




I could have gotten Morgan in for a test shot.



Yesterday - my one day off in the week - I got a call from Talent Group. They wanted her to come in so they could take a test shot for American Greetings. I had plenty of time, but I told them I could not get down there and back before Morgan's kindergarten screening, and by the time she was done, I would not have time to get there before they closed.


Because here is the deal on the test shots...it's not guaranteed that they get the gig. In fact, in no cases where we went in for the test shot, has she gotten it.


So no, I am not going to drive a half hour across town so you can take a picture of her LEGS. That's right, her head was not even going to be in the shot. It's a card where she would wear a tutu and sit on a giant present with her legs dangling and you would see her from waist down.


So he let me take the "test shot" myself and send it to him. I had to laugh, because Morgan has as much grace as I do and therefore her shins are bruised to hell. I hope the guy airbrushed it before he sent it in, but I do not expect a call-back.



Authors Note: Why can't I get the damn spacing to work between my paragraphs. Everytime I add a photo it screws it up. Ugh!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Home Sweet Home

(From the City of Bay Village website – except I fixed the spelling and grammatical errors. Come on, people.)
Land Area. Bay Village is 4.52 square miles in area.
Population. Bay Village was home to an estimated 16,087 people during 2000.
Educated Population. Bay Village has a highly educated population. Almost 1/2 of the population age 25 and older in 1990 had a bachelor or graduate degree.
Professional Community. The high education level is reflected in the occupational makeup of the community. Over 50% of the employed population, age 16 and older, in 1990 were employed as managers or professionals.
Housing Stock. Over 1/3 of Bay Village's housing units were built in the 1950's. Another 28% of the City's housing stock was developed before 1950.
Weather. Bay Village enjoys a four season climate and is affected by the temperature and winds over Lake Erie. Due to Bay Village's location, winter snowfall is much less than suburbs to the east of Cleveland.

In other words…a small, lakeside town that doesn’t see much action besides the people we bust for speeding as they pass through.

Cut to this morning. Drop the girls off at the sitter, who lives in a very quiet neighborhood of small ranch homes. Head back out towards the main Lake Road. As I’m driving, I vaguely acknowledge more cars than usual parked in the street. I slow down some more for a car coming the other direction and notice two of the parked cars are patrol cars and they are parked facing each other on the same side. Weird.

I look up to see some uniforms in the driveway – one speaking into his walkie-talkie (because that’s what I call them. I am ten.). I notice the other has a vest over his white shirt. So I look at the house where I see two more officers, backs against the home on either side of the front picture window with guns drawn. Big guns – not, I-just-un-holstered-this-sidearm-for-the-first-time-in-my-life, but rifle-like weapons (of which I know nothing about).

This all played out in the two seconds it took me to pass the house without drawing attention to the fact that I was slowing down to stare. But really…we’re talking about a town whose police see so little action that all three on-duty squad cars showed up when my friend got in a fender-bender in front of my house.

Just yesterday I found out that a man from Strongsville pulled up to a 14-year-old girl by the Nature Center and demanded she get in his car. She luckily ran away and was able to describe him and his car to the police who picked him up 10 minutes later in the next park over.

There has been a rash of car break-ins for the last year. (Well, this actually makes sense, because why wouldn’t you come to the town described above and break into our cars.)

What is happening?

This is Patricia Heaton’s hometown, damnit. We’re above all this.

Oh wait, we did have that nasty Sheppard murder in the 50’s that The Fugitive was allegedly based on…and, I guess the Mihaljevic disappearance and subsequent murder in the 80’s…

Wait…why do we live here? Oh yeah, the schools are excellent!

(Kidding, I love our town!)

Author's note: There wasn't any further news of the incident this morning, so I will assume they were answering someones home alarm that was on vacation. Or maybe just playing "cops and robbers" with Rocky River PD.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Road to Kindergarten, Vol. 12

(Synopsis for those just joining: we live in PM kindergarten zone, sitter lives in AM, transportation department wouldn't agree to pick her up so I've spent the summer awaiting the return of the principal to plead my case.)

Morgan is officially an AM student. I got the call this morning, and he was very kind. Of course he reiterated several times how he was bending the rules for me and only doing it because he could tell how important it was to me.

Well, I would say needing transportation is little more important than someone asking to switch so Suzy and Sally could be in the same classroom. But that's just me.

Not to mention, I was perfectly willing to take the PM slot as long as they ran the bus out there, so let's not go over the top with the martyrdom.

On the other hand, it is impossible not to like this man. He looks quite a bit like dear old Mr. Magoo when he loses his glasses, but doesn't seem to have the same eyesight trouble.

When we went to sign our form, he came out from his office and introduced himself to Morgan. Then he asked her if he could show her some things in the school. Ended up taking us out to the aquarium, then around to the courtyard to look at the gold fish pool, and through the gymnasium.

Morgan giggled the whole time, and I can only imagine it was because she was picturing him trying to go up the down escalator because he got on the wrong one. Or maybe that was just me. Does anyone else remember Mr. Magoo? Where did he go?

Anyway...next week is the Kindergarten Screening and Morgan does not do well under pressure, so we'll see how that goes. I only wish they asked for an oral presentation on the different whale species or how to survive a shark attack. At the very least she could do a recitation of the Jabberwocky poem.

I mean, really...who has to know how to match upper and lower case letters these days?

And this week Zoe has become terrified of the bath tub. I'm talking blood curdling screams the entire time it takes to wash her hair and body, while she make desperate attempts at escape. The culprit? That dang drain. After almost 2 and a half years, she's decided she could possibly go down it with the water. Oh, this is fun!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Murphy's Law Wedding Edition (with Illustration)

My college roommate Allison got married on Friday in Cincinnati. And before I become my usual cynical self, I will take a moment to say how happy I am for her.

Though our actual conversations are few and far between, she is one of those people in my life that when I do finally touch base, it feels like we never skipped a beat. And that's the mark of the truest of friends.

Whenever I'm asked to do one of those little "get to know you" questionnaires and I'm asked to name a person I most admire, it is usually her. I should probably tell her that someday.

We know each other so well that when we got together earlier this spring, we both started talking about "Glee" before even asking if the other one watched it. It was just a given.

Being that Scott and I were out-of-towners that weren't friends with any of the other guests, she could have stuffed us at a back table with somebody their parents forced them to invite, but instead she made room for us up front with her hometown friends. What grace.

I wish her and Drew the very best of everything! Even though we almost didn't get there...

Zoe decided to throw up Friday morning...TWICE. (no photos available, sorry) And then started a fever. I pathetically offered (without out right saying it) to my mom that Scott could maybe possibly stay home, while quietly hoping and all the while knowing that my mom would graciously put herself in harms way to watch over her grand daughters.

Scott is officially allergic to something that comes around at 3 in the afternoon, as that is the precise time that he started his sneezing fit (also no photos available, because I didn't yet know I should be documenting for posterity) in the car, which is roughly what time it started on the way to Columbus the previous weekend.
Due to MAJOR traffic delays around Cincinnati, in spite of the best of intentions, we were 15 minutes late to the ceremony. Which was made only more noticeable when the priest's homily began with some analogy about the view from the front of the church and how he sees everything, including people that are late to mass. Thanks, man.

The one picture that I get to take with the bride...

...my eyes are closed.

The shoes that successfully saw me through 2 other weddings with no issues, caused me to hobble from our car to the hotel room.


The Miami Inn's air conditioning went down. But in an anti-Murphy's Law chain of events, they moved us to the Marcum Conference Center, where we were upgraded to a semi-suite and got the only balcony in the whole building (which we used only to take this picture).

For those unfamiliar with Miami University...it should be known that there is an air of slight personal competition similar to "keeping up with the Joneses" that has a tendency to linger post graduation. So just when you think you have your shit together you realize...

...you're the only one not driving a Porsche ("poor-shuh" - Joey Tribiani). Welcome Porsche Enthusiasts. This explains the weird presence of multiple Porsche in the hotel parking lot the previous night.

And especially for the Stanton Hall girls...

..."Paging Dylan McKay...is there a Dylan McKay here?"