Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rosie saved the day!

This afternoon, we were a little out of our usual weekend groove. I had to run an errand in Georgetown; my usual supplier of Weegee's Harrison's pellets couldn't fit us into her order, so the only local animal hospital that sells them is over there, across the Potomac. On our way back, we planned to eat lunch in Arlington, at a restaurant called Whitlow's on Wilson, that's better known for its packed happy hours than family friendly weekend lunches. But no mind, the meal was pretty uneventful and the kids were awfully cute marching around with us on the urban sidewalks, waiting for traffic lights to let us cross the street, and so forth.

Here's where the potentially awful situation happened: while I was putting Dash into his car seat, he saw my carkeys in my hand and said, "Mommy, share those with me, please!" so, I let him mess with the keys while I finished clipping him in. He managed to make the car's panic button go off with lots of honking and flashing lights, so I grabbed it away from him, pushed one of the buttons (eh, lock, maybe?) and the honking stopped. He started crying, so I tossed the keys onto the driver's seat, out of view, and talked him down. AJS had just finished clipping Rosie's seatbelt, so he and I stepped back, shutting their doors almost simultaneously.

CLICK.

All the doors locked by themselves. And remember where my keys are? AJS left his in the glove box.

Dash started crying again and AJS and I started babbling at each other about what to do. While I started thinking about calling AAA, he began trying to talk Rosie into helping. That was a great idea!! Only, he was anxious and almost yelling. So, as I'm usually the calmer element, I shushed him and stepped in.

I said, "Rosie. Unless you can help us, you're going to be stuck in the car for a while." She nodded. "Can you try to push the red button to release your seatbelt?"

Rosie answered, "Uh, okay." She gave it a few unsuccessful tries, and while I considered what instructions to try next, she popped the button. Beaming, she looked at us to see what to do next.

AJS chimed in with, "Great, now climb into the front seat and get Mommy's keys." I was going to ask her to open the passenger door, but keys would do fine.

I said, "Okay Rosie, now press the blue button on the black keypad." Rosie pressed it once, and again, when I asked.

The doors were open, we got in and were on our way.

CRISIS AVERTED!!

On the drive to my parents', I was thinking that we should have taught her how to unlatch her seatbelt a long time ago. But she was so excited to show off her new skill. She asked us over and over to let her know when it was time to unbuckle at Grandma and Grandaddy's house, and she'd unbuckle all by herself!! Only, waiting till we stopped driving was hard and she unclipped at least once while we were driving.

Even so, I'm so proud of her!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

merriest xmas!

We had a wonderful time this year with friends and family! As KellyO and Wrekehavoc have already documented on
their blogs, we enjoyed a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner with all our kids at Wreke's place. The kids all played (some of them actually ate real food), Wreke had an eclectic collection of holiday tunes playing on her stereo, and we all had fun drinking wine, eating too much, and taunting AJS with forks.

At my parents' house the next day, the Strings (that's us) all showed up, loaded down with a perfectly cooked leg of lamb, and all our gifts for each other, including the kids, my folks, and Auntie M. AJS's lamb was delicious! Dash ate some of it, but only while sitting in my lap and from my fork (Rosie had Cheerios); Auntie M. made her most wondrously fluffy and tasty mashed taters, and we also had minted carrots and steamed green beans. Auntie M. had baked a carrot cake, which I LOVED!! and we all came back for dessert after opening gifts.

Dash opened the enormous towering gift that was labeled his; it was literally taller than him, in the box. When it was revealed to be a Tonka Firetruck with motorized parts, well, he was just lost for anything else; we just heard a lot of "YAY-HOO!" and "COOL!" from his part of the room. I'll try to post some vids later. Later on, he did extend some interest in two other gifts: a ping-pong-tube-air-gun set from AJS (guns? sigh; AJS wants the boy to learn about/respect guns. Dash was running around with them like a Stormtrooper with a laserpistol), and a
space-ship shaped tent, where Dash and Rosie can hide out (it's big enough for a couple of friends, too!).

Rosie got a few dolls, notably an "Emma" American Girl Doll from Grandma, and soft "Toy Story 2" Woody & Jesse dolls from me. AJS ordered her a doll house, but it hasn't arrived. Auntie M. got her some more figure sets for the Unicorn Village of chokeables (my silly name for it) that stays at Grandma's; she and Rosie really do have lots of fun with it. Auntie M. has a way with creative playtime! Rosie also has lots of new books, puzzles, and drawing sets. Thanks everyone!!!

I have a new phone, which I've already posted about, and am loving it! I just need to figure out the volume situation (if I'm outside, I can't hear what callers are saying, even though the volume is at max). But I generally don't use my cell phone for phone calls, mostly for IM, texting, and emails. And now, for posting to my blog!

AJS isn't thrilled with the gifts that I gave him (even though three of them WERE on his Amazon.com wishlist and the other one is for emergencies only), so I offered to help fund his projector TV project, which has only been a dream of his for the past five years or more. It's quite pricey. I hereby am putting my portion of my parents' generous monetary gift toward it.

Happy Holidays EVERYONE! And an early happy birthday to Thea-O, who will be four tomorrow! They are all growing up so fast.

Monday, December 24, 2007

new phone!

Hey everybody! I'm posting to Blogger from my new Sidekick LX! I don't mean I'm emailing a post, but actually logged in through the browser!

I'm even more psyched that I can comment on my blogspot friends' blogs when they're blocked at work. Such a relief!

Thanks, AJS, for the xlnt xmas gift. :-*

Friday, December 21, 2007

Embarrassing moment of the day


Gratuitious Butt Shot
Originally uploaded by htlvhwy
old jeans + cranky toddler + too many holiday parties w/sweets = split pants

First of all, that's not a photo of MY butt; nevertheless, I'm using it to illustrate my story. When I put on a very old (pre-kids, so 6-8 years) pair of black w/velvet brocade jeans on this morning, they felt stiff. You know, like they'd been through the dryer one too many times. Even so, I kept them on, since they are a bit festive and fill a semi-dress-down-friday slot in my wardrobe.

I did solo daycare drop-off this morning and the change in routine set Dash off into multiple tantrums. After about the fifth time he threw himself full-out on the floor and with me doing deep squats each time to pick him up, the jeans' rear seam split about two inches in an L-shape.

Niiiice.

I have a safety-pin strategically placed and am waiting for AJS to meet me for lunch, toting a back-up work-skirt for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My new ETSY shop


Pink Leaf Dangles.jpg
Originally uploaded by nylonthread
I've been hearing about Etsy.com for a while as an online store where artists and crafters have been selling their wares and finally went over to check it out. The amount of beautiful work available there is truly overwhelming; the photography alone astounds me.

Those of you who know me are well aware of how much I love beadwork. Before my last hobby of five years (raising children), beadwork was my primary sideline of choice! I love it and have a large collection of materials. I couldn't resist: I registered and opened a shop. Please go and check it out at:

http://nylonthread.etsy.com

The photos I've taken of my work so far are flat and lame compared to what currently exists on the most humble of Etsy jewelry shops. I plan to concoct some ideas and retake the pics. But please go and look. I've got three items up so far!

Monday, December 17, 2007

MSG + HFCS = fat Americans?


Frito-Lay Sunchips Multigrain
Originally uploaded by Morton Fox
I am not a scientist. I browse the web and occasionally draw conclusions. Through random searches today based on a concern that the bag of SunChips I ate for lunch has MSG in them (I am mildly allergic, with mostly bad headaches) or High Fructose Corn Syrup (I don’t like the tinny, bitter, too-sweet flavor) I have learned the following from Wikipedia (got to LOVE! Wikipedia):

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate

Monosodium glutamate, sodium glutamate, flavour enhancer 621, EU food additive code: E621, HS code: 29224220 (IUPAC name 2-aminopentanedioic acid. Also known as 2-aminoglutaric acid), commonly known as MSG, Ajinomoto, Vetsin, or Accent, is a sodium salt of glutamic acid. MSG is a food additive and it is commonly marketed as a "flavour enhancer".

Although traditional Asian cuisine uses flavour-enhancing ingredients which contain high concentrations of MSG, it was not isolated until 1907. MSG was subsequently patented by the Japanese Ajinomoto Corporation in 1909. In its pure form, it appears as a white crystalline powder; when dissolved in water (or saliva) it rapidly dissociates into sodium cations and glutamate anions (glutamate is the anionic form of glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid).

Health Concerns
In 1959, the FDA classified MSG as a "generally recognized as safe", or GRAS, substance. This action stemmed from the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required premarket approval for new food additives and led the FDA to promulgate regulations listing substances, such as MSG, which have a history of safe use or are otherwise GRAS. Since 1970, FDA has sponsored extensive reviews on the safety of MSG, other glutamates and hydrolyzed proteins, as part of an ongoing review of safety data on GRAS substances used in processed foods. One such review was by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Select Committee on GRAS Substances. In 1980, the committee concluded that MSG was safe at current levels of use but recommended additional evaluation to determine MSG's safety at significantly higher levels of consumption.


And from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

The process by which HFCS is produced was first developed by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi in 1957[2] and refined by Japanese researchers in the 1970s. HFCS was rapidly introduced in many processed foods and soft drinks in the US over the period of about 1975–1985.

Health effects
There are indications that "soda and sweetened drinks are the main source of calories in [the] American diet."[18] Overconsumption of sugars has been linked to adverse health effects, and most of these effects are similar for HFCS and sucrose. There is a striking correlation between the rise of obesity in the U.S. and the use of HFCS for sweetening beverages and foods. The controversy largely comes down to whether this is coincidence or a causal relationship. Some critics of HFCS do not claim that it is any worse than similar quantities of sucrose would be, but rather focus on its prominent role in the overconsumption of sugar; for example, encouraging overconsumption through its low cost.


So, my layman’s sloppy conclusion is that if HFCS was introduced in the United States in 1957 and MSG was introduced in 1959, and the obesity of the American public started increasing dramatically after 1960, (according again, to Wikipedia):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity

Environmental factors
While it may often appear obvious why a certain individual gets fat, it is far more difficult to understand why the average weight of certain societies have recently been growing. While genetic causes are central to understanding obesity, they cannot fully explain why one culture grows fatter than another.

This is most notable in the United States. In the years from just after the Second World War until 1960 the average person's weight increased, but few were obese. In the two and a half decades since 1980 the growth in the rate of obesity has accelerated markedly and is increasingly becoming a public health concern.


I for one, am planning to cut out these nasty additives from my food consumption wherever possible!! Maybe I'll lose those two pounds I gained over the weekend. Was it the Seagrams Gingerale? or the Fritos?

Weekend re-cap, Dance performance

This was a very ambitious weekend. While I intended/hoped to make it to all SEVEN parties that we were invited to (5 birthdays/2 holiday-open-houses),we split up and I only made it to two (with Rosie) and AJS made it to two (with Dash).

Saturday was Rosie's visitors-welcome ballet class. This was the first time I've been able to see more that a sliver of a leg or arm through the thick curtain at the studio. It was so very, very adorable! Rosie's classmates are between 3 and 5 years old, so I was interested to see how the teacher has been coercing them to participate and learn the dance moves. She's quite creative!

To get them all focused, she started in a circle, with all holding hands and pretended to toss each of them a little cake to "hold" (ingeniously setting their arms in 1st position) so they'd all do plies while facing each other. For stretching, she told them they were all rag dolls with limbs that "came to life" as she called them out, so up goes an arm! Out goes a leg! Oh, no, it's not real anymore. During barre time, Rosie was the only one of the girls who attempted to turn her body to face the mirror while still holding onto the barre; many of the other girls all crowded together instead of giving each other room to move around. They are too cute at this age! No personal space, impulsively hugging each other or holding hands, getting distracted and giggling!

When the class was over, I let my mom take Rosie to her house so she could spend time with her and Auntie M. while I got an hour of shopping done (for birthday gifts for tomorrow's parties! Yikes, cutting it close.). By the time I got back, it was close to 3 and I hadn't had lunch. While I snacked at my dad's computer, I checked the evite on the holiday party for that afternoon to get directions and discovered that I had the time wrong; it started at 3, not 4, and it would take me 45 minutes to get there. Yikes! I was counting on getting home to change and put on makeup, Dash was napping with AJS (after spending the morning with his mom, Gamma-Kiko), so instead of showing up at 5:30 with cranky kids, and maybe getting stuck in bad weather (forecasted, but unmaterialized), I called to send regrets.

While AJS went to a late-morning birthday party on Sunday, I took Rosie to my parents again so I could practice for the dance performance. I invited a classmate over to practice with me and mostly just let her fix my hair into a ballerina bun, because I was completely incapable. We gave our combo a run-through and both did fine. This was completely different for me during the run-through at the studio with just an audience of other dancers! I flubbed up all over. By the time the performances started, I learned that ours was the 7th of 8 dances and Rosie and my mom had arrived. During my dance, I managed to get all of the legwork right, and just messed up the arm moves in a few places. Rosie told me that she watched the whole thing and that she LOVED my dance. I decided to try to remember her version. I was entranced by the choreography the modern dance class performed; maybe I'll try that class next year (their music was an awful classical/techno-type piece that you hear at Olympic figure skating competitions, though; gives me some pause).

She and I sped home for me to change and arrive at 3:30 (read a map on the way; I got the location a few miles off in my head) for her friend's birthday party that ended at 4:30. Again, I hadn't had time for lunch, so scarfed one cold chicken tender and a kid-size bag of fritos. They were passing out cake when we arrived, so it was just the right time for Rosie; she ran, giggled, and shrieked with her friends, all sugared-up. AJS was at another party 40 minutes away (that had started at 3:00), where I'd planned to join him and other friends. However, Dash had other ideas. He had been cranky all day and AJS had just about enough. He left early and I texted my regrets through him.

We all arrived home at pretty much the same time, 5:30-ish. Rosie decided to stay upstairs with a new pencil/art set that I'd just picked up for her at the grocery store (for $1!). Dash was the sweetest little guy when we settled downstairs together on the couch (watching his "favit" xmas special, "little drummer boy")! He sat right in between AJS and I and kept rubbing our knees with his hands while making his happy-squeaky noises. He gave us lots of hugs and told us that he was happy to be home with us.

We didn't do it all, but managed just enough, I think.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Disney IS a form of education

We were out getting Chinese food at a local
carry out and while waiting with the kids, I
barely noticed that there was a full-wall mural
of the Great Wall of China next to the soda
cooler.

Dash brought it to our attention by pointing and yelling,

"THAT WHERE SHAN-YU IS!"

Watch Mulan much, our dear little 29-month-old?
I was so proud.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dreaming

Today, while I was doing photo research for a client project, I came across all these wonderful craft/art/design pages that seem to link to each other like a little community (i.e. Design*Sponge , Bloesem, and Three Potato Four with updated, correct URLs now). As I clicked from one to another, I started wistfully wishing that I could be a part of it. So many adorable, lovely, fun, kitch, or slightly disturbing items for sale, and all the sellers knew the others (if only online) and were supporting each other's work.

So, I was dreaming of working for myself, exploring art and design I like, finding inspiration, and sketching and creating all day...joining this community. I am imagining my house as a warm, cosy place that looks like the rooms photographed in their interior shots, maybe scented with vanilla candles. It's a nice dream.

The reason I haven't ever pursued working for myself is fear of the risks. Will I be able to make enough money? Will I be able to stay on a schedule and keep from getting distracted? Will I be able to deal directly the business end and pricing/billing/taxes and with customers without taking criticsms too personally?

Working as an inhouse designer has a comfort zone, for sure. Guaranteed income & benefits, automatically upgraded equipment, peers & colleages around to bouce ideas off.

I don't think I'm ready yet, but I may be in a few years. Maybe after Dash is in Kindergarten? Until then, I'll be planning and dreaming.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Belated, Flashback Friday

Here is another photo, circa 1944-5 of my dad, Jim, with his older sister, Dot. Doesn't Dash look like him comparatively, from the photo I posted yesterday? And if Dot was a bit closer in age to Jim, those curls are so similar to Rosie's!

I need to post family photos more often. I enjoy seeing how genetics have taken hold and certain characteristics carry from generation to generation. It's also heartwarming to see how our parents/aunts/uncles interacted as children--Dot always seems to adore all her brothers in photos. She was a loving, caring person.

I'm also wondering what became of that bunny? It looks like a nice gift, even though Dot seems more interested in it than Jim in this pic.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

AJS, Barbecuing Again!

Here is another sampling of AJS's barbecuing prowess. As usual, he cooked with all three grills. On the menu: brisket, ribs, and chicken wings. Yuuuuummmmy...
























A request

Dash just came by and wanted to see a picture of him and a pic of Kelly (Liam-mommy) so i am obliging.

Halcyon House

Kelly O and I went to her office holiday party last night (I was her date and the guys stayed with our respective kids) at the elegant and nicely decorated Halcyon House in Georgetown. I enjoyed getting all dressed up, the valet parking, the free drinks & middle-eastern-style spread, two sets of musicians (a Palestinian duo upstairs & a big-band style sextet in the ballroom), and meeting a handful of Kelly's new coworkers. My office, and AJS's for that matter, are not having decent holiday parties this year. They are both holding a mid-week, potluck-style party with cut-throat gift exchanges included as entertainment. I enjoy the big swanky parties much better; it gives me a chance to put on my evening wear!

This morning, I discovered an an enlightening entry about the Halcyon House in AJS's copy of On this Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C. published in 1992 by Douglas Evelyn & Paul Dickson that reads:

"Colonel Benjamin Stoddert, and established merchant and landowner, built this house in 1787, dubbing it Halcyon House. In 1973, Stoddert was one of the men who incorporated the Bank of Columbia to finance land transactions for the new capital city. He himself invested heavily in the city's early development. Called to Philadelphia in 1798 to serve as the first secretary of the navy, he helped start the Marine Corps before returning to Washington when the government relocated in 1800. Early federal and local leaders frequentedd the Stodddert house.

A century later, an eccentric owner, Albert Asdit Clemons, a compulsive renovator living in the basement with a carpenter, is said to have spent forty years in non-stop alterations. According to a Historic American Buildings Survey report, the pair evclosed the entire original building, subdividing the interior rooms, adding new stairwells, a chapel, even a theater and a ballroom, neither of which was ever used. Clemons amassed such a collection of antiques and bric-a-brac that he purchased two nearby houses for storage. He offered apartments for rent, stipulated no chidren, dogs, or electricity.

Reports were that his money came from 'New England utilities.' A Washington Times-Herald report posited that his ample means were 'provided by his wife on condition that he stay away from her.' Two subsequent occupants spent a decade apeice discovering new rooms-within-rooms and endless corridors before the building was turned into an apartment house in the 1960s. In 1991, the building is again indergoing renovation." [bolding is mine]

I'm happy to report that the '91 remodel must have gone well, because the space we were in last night was quite symmetrical and well-proportioned, if a bit meandering. There wasn't much evidence of an insane renovator gone rampant. Thanks, Kelly, for inviting me along! It was fun to have another girl's night out!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cubicle Etiquette

For someone I know who just found themselves in a "workstation" environment, here are some clues cribbed from Miss Mentor. They will serve you and everyone else in a office space very well:

TOP TEN Cubicle Etiquette Violations:
10. The Candy Jar.
Having a candy jar on your desk in plain sight (!), and not sharing is not cool. You guarantee that your co-workers will plot for your demise. If you are so cheap that you don’t want to fund multiple candy habits, then buy crappy candy. Or, convert to celery with peanut butter…. No one will fight you for that.

9. Surf’s Up!
Surfing the internet to non-work related sights is bad form. If your office has one woman for every 300 men, like mine, loud proclamations about the preview video to Girls Gone Wild and other similarly themed sights are not only not appreciated, but could land you, YOU, in a heap of trouble. Don’t go there. If you must “go there,” in after hours, don’t share it with the office.

8. Stinky Food Syndrome.
MMMmmmmm. Don’t you just love the smell of bleu cheese melted over raw onions served with liver and asparagus? You do? Well, that makes one. Do not be adventurous with food selections that will be reheated and served in the office via Tupperware. [Ms. Nylon adds: Eating out of glass/ceramic containers with silverware is also irritating; clink-clink-clinkety for 20-odd minutes? EEEEEKK!]

7. Step away from the Bluetooth.
Gabbing on cell phone, while not the top cubicle etiquette violator, is one of the more dangerous. How many conversations have you accidentally started with someone who didn’t realize you were on your cell phone? More than 1? Instead of annoying people like most of this list, this one ENRAGES people. Really. It’s like road rage indoors, coming to a hallway near you. [I add: letting your cell phone ring off the hook after you leave your desk is enraging, too! MUTE that thing!!]

6. Crunch-er-ific!
So you like Corn nuts? Sunflower seeds? Well, that’s nice for you. That constant crunching or spitting into cup sound is likely making your neighbors very grumpy. While unscented, the residual noise created by consuming the seeds and nuts is gross AND let’s everyone know what pace you are working. Watch it. Folks might be timing your seed spits…. True!

5. Showcasing Collectibles.
Not only is it tacky to have a pile of action figures, but also it makes you look like an 8 year old. There’s nothing wrong with collecting tin lunch boxes of superheroes, but don’t blame the janitor when one walks away. Keep your treasures at home. This includes your children.

4. Conversations over cube walls.
Cross-cube conversations when the speakers are still seated at their desks cause more confusion and disruption than Paris Hilton running through the office in a
bikini. Get your lazy butt up and have the conversation face-to-face. No excuse.
It may be the only exercise you get all day…. [Also pesky: Talking over the cube walls is called "gophering"]

3. No shoes, no service.
Removing your shoes in the office, particularly if you have mildly ripe feet, is grounds for moving you to the elevator shaft. That scent gets into the air and circulates like a bad cold on an airplane.

2. Audible Audio.
I like Cypress Hill; You like Patsy Kline…. Can you see problems? If you absolutely must have music for a short duration during your work day (remember, you are here to work) … Ear plugs or headset, your choice.

1. Using your speakerphone!
Wait until you get an upgrade buddy. If we wanted to be on a conference call with you, we’d be in the conference room. This is particularly bogus when describing things to a doctor, discussing sensitive customer information, and making smoochy noises to your sweetie.

Repeat offenders should be flogged. You know who you are….

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy First Day, Kelly!!!!


Kelly O just started at her new workplace (no, not to call it a j-o-b yet) and I wish her the best of luck!!! Rock yr first day, dude!


XO, yr pal nylon

Friday, November 30, 2007

I ROkD NaBloPoMo!!

Rosie's art!

I'm amazed at how Rosie's drawing skills have progressed in just the past few months. For a long while, most of her drawings looked like these first two, with tiny heads and long triangular dresses. The spiral locks are an indicator that they are portraits of herself (Rosie=curly-curls).

But, just this past week, she has brought home several of these other types of drawings: a large head with detailed features, large lips, eyes with iris/pupils, even ears with earrings, and a shirt of some sort with sleeves. I'm loving her color combinations! I also am delighted that she's made Cinderella a brunette.

Up until a few weeks ago her daycare teacher has been telling us that Rosie has trouble listening, focusing and wasn't participating in class projects. I don't know what turned things around, but we've been hearing wonderful things lately! Rosie's listening, participating (bringing a prolific amount of projects home), practicing her letters A LOT! and has even been helping her classmates with their work. I'll have to see if Ms. S has any insights.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I hate feeling sick. Sick-leave rant warning...

It's been a while since a bug has gotten me, but I'm feeling it today. Last night was the sore throat, compounded with some congestion this morning, and now I'm at work, with watery eyes, chills and fatigue. I should probably go home, but thanks to daycare sick policies and limited leave on my company's part, I have pretty much remained 20 hours in the hole for leave. Today I'm at exactly -18.42.

Do many companies do this? Allow you to go into the negative on your leave? They let you take a maximum of -40 hours here. Lately, every time I record leave on my timecard, I get a very official-looking pop-up that informs me that should I leave the company, I must commit to pay them back this borrowed time. It's still not a bad policy.

How did this happen to me? Well, mostly it's the kids. When they are sick or display a fever over 100 degrees at school, the policy is to keep them out until they are fever-free for 24 hours. That means, if AJS picks them up and stays out with them on say, a Tuesday, I must stay out with them through Wednesday. If they still have a fever on Wednesday, that's another day when AJS and I take 1/2-days each on Thursday. And, they also have periodic well-visits at the doctor's or the dentist's (so do AJS and I for that matter). On top of that, the daycare is closed on EVERY Federal Holiday PLUS five additional training days per year. My company only pays for 9 holidays per year, and up until a couple of days ago I was only accruing 17 days of leave per year (that's sick and vacation combined). In 2007, the kids and I only took one 4-day vacation.

I probably shouldn't be complaining, since I know there are many, many workers out there who don't get any sick or vacation leave. But, I just don't like feeling that I can't take a sick day or a vacation or go to a doctor's appointment because I'm too far in the hole. I think AJS has so many vacation days somehow that he's looking for ways to take them off. The joys of being a Federal employee.

Tell me which employers out there do it better, please? I need to circulate my resume more widely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why are you making me wait for CAKE?!?
































Took you long enough.

back to the dance class...


and all that jazz
Originally uploaded by getthebubbles
At first, when folks mentioned to me that, with dance classes, come recitals, my response was, "um, I think I'll be out of town that day." Did I mention that I managed to avoid most recitals from previous classes? But, as of last night while we were practicing for the December party performance, I was kinda getting into it!

During the routine, where we all have assigned locations, I stand/dance next to Amanda, who is 14 or 15, such a sweetheart and a beautiful girl. She is only 5'4", but is mostly leg -- when she does some kicks, it's amazing to watch because she doesn't seem to notice that she's almost able to kick the ceiling.

Last night, at a certain point in the combination the teacher decided to let us "do what we wanted" for 8 counts (I think she was flying by the seat of her own leotard), except for Amanda. "Amanda, you're doing kicks," she ordered. I know it's because Mrs. H wants the audience to experience the beauty of A's legs. A, being a little shy, started to do other stuff, and was lightly reprimanded. So, I told her that I would do kicks, too, and we could do them together (she agreed). Whew! Except my kicks come just slightly above my shoulder and hers are about 2 feet above her head. Amanda is on the "cheer team" at her high school and rightly belongs there; she is a lovely ball of positive energy.

Despite myself, I am feeling excited about performing! We'll see how it goes when the day comes. We have already been invited to two somewhat-overlapping parties that same day...

Found: iPhone adopters


Meta
Originally uploaded by kowitz
I just came across this entry on Thinking and Driving and thought several of you out there (esp. Kelly) would LOL at these goofy guys:

"IM Theater: The iPhone, An observation

Joel: Touching an iPhone is like the first time you felt a boob. It’s a strange, new experience and you want to be gentle and careful. Until you figure out what the button does. Then it’s 'poke poke poke poke.'
Jake: Really? For me it was awkward groping, and mentally going 'this is awesome/please don’t break it'"

Heh.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cacophony of Kids

I received few dozen photos from Rosie's party from one of the parents that brought a camera along. HUGE THANKS to him, because I was soooo busy trying to mingle and keep track of my two kids and try to be a good hostess that documentation was not a priority. Just to give you all out there an idea of the quantity of children that were at my house (there were around 40, I think), here a a few of the group shots:








Monday, November 26, 2007

Remembering

I was revisiting a post about Rosie from when Dash was a newborn and found that things haven't changed that much:
"So far, Rosie has ADORED Dash from when she first saw him in the hospital. It's just the cutest thing ever. She forgives him immediately for yanking her hair and gently chastizes him for playing with her toys (and will hand him one of his toys instead). Her favorite thing to do with him is to "make Dash happy" which is to get in his face and imitate me making goo-goo noises at him. Hilarious to hear my nonsense words coming out in her high-pitched voice! There's been a few times when Rosie was "giving" Dash his toys and being too enthusiastic about it. She'd be throwing them in his direction without looking and winged him in the head. I *know* she was just trying to help, so I tried not to be TOO angry when I yelled/explained that she needs to be careful around her brother. They have to learn somehow, you know? It's not all sweetness and light, but I'm just doing my best to show them how to be good siblings to each other."


She really loves him just as much today. They play their hiding game in Dash's crib and like to "read" to each other. In the car on the ride home today, Dash wanted to hold every toy that Rosie was playing with. Even though Rosie pleaded with us that they were HER toys (they were), she still shared them with Dash when we asked. She sucked it up and was the good big sister to her sensitive little brother who hasn't learned to keep his emotions in check.

He will have to learn this lesson at some point. He tries sharing back with her, but only lasts a minute or less before crying for the toy. Thank you, Rosie for being a wonderful big sister and understanding Dash's limits!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sleep soundtrack for our kids

Now that the tryptophan is wearing off, you
might need few tips on how to get the kids to
sleep in the car. When we are on driving trips and
are trying to enourage the kids to take naps,
AJS has a sure-fire playlist on his iPod. The
songs are predominantly instrumental, knock the
kids right out, and are interesting enough that
we often enjoy continuing to listen. Some of the
albums are:

The Pearl, Ambient 2, Harold Budd

Angels in the Architecture, Michael Brook

Voices, Roger Eno

The Plateau of Mirror, Brian Eno

Gymnopedies, Eric Satie

I hope you enjoy them, too!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Enchanted, with Rosie

Auntie M. And I took Rosie to see Enchanted
today, which was a cute movie. Rosie seemed to
really be getting into the cartoon intro, although
it was a bit overdone; you know, they were
alluding to decades of other princess movies and
making fun of them at the same time. So, after
the princess gets sucked into the real world,
Manhattan and we meet Robert, the divorce
lawyer with real-world problems and sarcasm,
we start to lose Rosie.

About two-thirds into the film, I heard a lot of
"I want to go!" repeatedly, until I grabbed her
and put her in my lap so I could wax
enthusiastically about plot points until the movie
ended. There were some parts I really enjoyed,
like the group dance number with the singing
throughout Central Park. That was pretty well-
done, seriously. And I was even surprised when
Giselle sucessfully called on the local critters to
help her clean Robert's apartment. Yow. Even
with her squirming and multiple demands to
leave, Rosie spontaneously told us, "That was a
good movie!" when were walking out.

I tried to get Rosie to help with my review, but
it's bedtime and her recall isn't that good. This is
the best I can get from her:

Me: what was your favorite part of the movie we saw today?
Rosie: I don't know. Um, I liked the ending...
Me: what did you like about the ending?
Rosie: because people kissed.
Me: who kissed?
Rosie: the boy and girl.
Me: what made that your favorite part?
Rosie: I don't know. Everyone seemed happy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dash, stalling

Me: Goodnight, Dash! I love you, sweetie.
Dash: No, no, mommee! I'm scared!
Me: What? Scared? Of what?
Dash: (wide-eyed) MONSTER.
Me: A monster? Where?
Dash: Over dere! (Pointing at his Thomas the Tank Engine nightlight)
ALLIGATOR! Gonna eat me!
Me: Nope, that's just Thomas, no alligators, see? (turning overhead
light up) Maybe some more milk would help?
Dash: Yeah! And more songs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful Day

Today, I am very thankful that our respective families live very close to us so that we may celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with them. While I type, we are driving to pick up my mother-in-law to bring her to my sister-in-law's house, where AJS's three nephews (and perhaps respective S.O.s) will join us.

Rosie helped make the final decision about where we would have our dinner today. While AJS and I were still debating on where to go (my parents', Kelly's or just staying home were also options), Rosie brought out a treasured photo of her with all 3 cousins and placed it next to her bed. So I asked her if she wanted to see her cousins, getting an enthusiastic "YES!!!"

After we leave my SIL's, we're planning to visit with my parents and Auntie M for a while in the evening. AJS bought "The Wizard of OZ" and hopes to make it as much of our Thanksgiving tradition at my parents' as my dad has made "The Quiet Man" a part of our St. Patrick's Day rituals.

We may not be doing as much driving as some of you may be, but it'll do for us.

I wish all of you out there in blogland are celebrating the day, hopefully with friends, family, and lots of delicious food. I thank all of those people out there who are volunteering at food banks and kitchens, giving a hot meal to those who are in need, so that they might enjoy a holiday bounty as well. Thank you for giving, donating your time, and for your generous spirits!

Many, many thanks to everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Share Food and Giving

After a quick googling, it appears that there are several websites for Share Food, but none with the URL I gave. Many of these links are also places to go to donate food to those in need this holiday season. Here are some major ones:

http://www.sharefoodprogram.org (PA, NJ, DE, NY, MD Eastern Shore)
http://www.sharedc.org (Metro DC area)
http://www.projectshare.net (PA)
http://www.foodshare.com (CA)
http://www.careandsharefoodbank.org (AZ)
http://www.careandshare.org (CO)
http://www.sharewi.org (WI, IL, MI-UP)
http://www.shareiowa.com (IA)
http://www.shareflorida.org (FL)
http://www.westernuohealth.org/rsvp/share.html (MI-UP)

That's about all I'm coming up with at the moment. Happy giving to you all and my best wishes to you for a joyful Thanksgiving surrrounded by family and friends.

Volunteering

My MIL has been participating in a monthly service called "Share Food". For $18, she is given two full bags of groceries (one with frozen food, one with fresh produce & non-perishables) with quite a decent selection of healthy items. This program is open to everyone, all they ask in return is that you give back to the community with two hours of volunteer service a month, honor system. We have been ordering a package for our household, too.

My MIL is in her 70s, and while participating in activities at her senior center might be considered volunteering, I do my best to keep our karma up, by doing at least two hours of straight, uncompensated volunteer work.

At the kids' daycare, I am on the Board of Directors, a volunteer position that requires more than a few hours each month to fulfill set duties; and in my neighborhood, I took on the job of community newsletter editor, which also takes several hours, but is a bi-monthly publication.

Despite the fact that we are a two-income family, daycare costs eat up almost all of our discretionary funds (and now with my job relocation, my transportation expenses are sky-high), so we take any help we can get to stay within our budget. I'm glad Share Food is so inclusive.

I think it's a great program, giving locals incentives to give back, in return for deeply discounted groceries. Check to see if this program is in your area. I'm pretty sure the url is http://www.sharedc.org/

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ABC-me-meme

Wrekehavoc tagged me with this meme, which I will happily respond to. I can't get to her post right now, but it goes something like this:
For each letter of the alphabet, find an adjective that describes you; be creative and be positive (fat for F and lame for L is just a downer for all involved); explain as much or as little as you like! Remember to tag others when you're done!

A: artistic. I excelled/skated easily in art classes through high school, getting crazily high scores (A+++) without much effort; college was much harder.
B: balanced. Yeah, I can stand on one foot muuuuch longer than you!
C: cute. I'm a friggin 5'1" fuzzy little bunny with Anime eyes!
D: delightful! Yes, I am usually filled with delight! Do a search on my blog for "delight" and you'll see.
E: equable. I often am enraged when I see unequal treatment among colleagues or friends. I expect at as a right at home, and will be in quite a snit if AJS is not doing his share.
F: flexible. I am pretty good at being open to changes and new situations, even ones that make me rearrange set schedules.
G: generous. I do try to give more than I get, especially with friends; I strive to do more.
H: humorous. I have a quirky sense of humor; AJS can make me laugh till I fall on the floor, but I am deadpan at work and often play the straight-man.
I: inclusive. I can't include everyone, and that just pains me.
J: jaded. Just enough to make me a realist.
K: kind. Gawd, I just can't, can't be a bitch. I'm not wired that way. It's funny when I try.
L: lanoline. As a variant of my name, this was a silly nickname in my childhood.
M: multi-tasker. If I'm not doing several things at once, I'm bored. I used to tell my mom that it helped me to watch TV and do homework at the same time...
N: neighborly. *I* am, I just wish my neighbors reciprocated occasionally (Gretchen and Kristine excluded, you are fabulous).
O: optically-challenged. I've had glasses since I was seven and am myopic, astygmatic and photo-phobic.
P: pragmatic. If I can only use it one way, why waste my time with it? Multi-task, baby!
Q: quick-study. Um, I feel like I'm writing a resume here.
R: Reubenesque. Yep, I got me some curves.
S: sweetheart. My given name means sweetheart in Gaelic, so how could I not fulfill this destiny?
T: toasty, if you go with the definition "warm and comfortable." Also, I looooove toast with a little butter and jelly.
U: urban. I likes me some city, plenty of attractions, and the public transit.
V: vigilante-esque: I have called attention to unlawful eaters on the metro, when I'm in a bad mood.
W: watchful. I have antennae and 8 arms, remember?
X: xanthous (did I tell you that I own an O.E.D?) while I am not light-blond of hair, I am fair-complected with dark-blond tresses.
Y: yielding. I listen and learn from others, and make my own bounty from my lessons.
Z: zoster (obsolete, but I'm using it anyway). I am proud to be a sister, and to have my genetic history reflected back to me upon another female person, raised with me by the same parents, yet separate, unique, and thankfully familiar.

Yeesh, was that positive enough for you? I'm a little buzzed from all the saccharin... :-)

And, if you're reading, consider yourself tagged.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monkeyrotica's haikus

AJS wrote these in the Winter of 2001, when we were still living in DC. Northern Virginia hasn't moved him to poetry as yet...


Grey, icy snow drifts
over a pile of garbage
An empty forty


Snow shovels on cement
Down, Push, Over the shoulder
My back is, like, fucked


Smoke rings on the breeze
nicotine stink on fingers
my last cigarette


Crazy Bitch shovels
Morning traffic drifts downtown
her prescription works


Moonlight through treetops
ice cracks, falls, smashes on porch
a car alarm wails

Monday Morning Haikus

My son's tantrum
His clothing feels wrong
Iz icky

A rose wakes
She dresses in red
One kiss, wave

A bus leaves
My wristwatch was slow
Waiting is cold

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Like her dad, Rosie is not a fan of the Theatre

My dad and sister took Rosie to see a very popular (crowded) neighborhood Children's Theatre production of "The Wizard of Oz" (the musical version, so "The Wiz" to the rest of us). The curtain call was 30 minutes late, about 25 minutes and $30 after Rosie realized they weren't taking a trip to the video rental store. Auntie M and Dad agreed that the girl who sang "Over the Rainbow" had a nice voice, but the characters hadn't made it to the yellow brick road before Rosie forced a walk-out.

We'll have to find other, more gradual and gentle ways to install a love of live performance in Rosie, I think. Better luck next time!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Some dash-isms

If you ask Dash, "how many of [something] do you want?" he will almost always answer:
"ALL OF DEM!"

If Dash wants something, but isn't sure where to find it, he'll tell you that it's:
"OVER DERE, FAR AWAY!"

His favorite answers to most questions:
"NOTHING."

When leaving daycare or saying goodbye, Dash likes to add:
"SEE YOU NEXT TIME!!"

And when I'm trying to sneak out of the room after a marathon-singing session, he requests:
"ONE LAST SONG, PLEESH, MOMMY?"

And the always entertaining changes of heart at the dinner table...
Dash: I'M DONE! (With 1\2-plateful of food)
AJS: Okay, so the rest is mine?
Dash: NO! NO! NO! MINE!! (Continues eating)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Flashback Friday

"Oh Yeah" by Yello.

This song has been overplayed and is now almost a joke song; in fact, it was on the Simpsons the other night as the tune that Duff Man (as male stripper) was going to "dance" to. My friend Ben liked to make mix tapes for all of his close friends, so I heard it from his mix well before it
was on the Ferris Bueller soundtrack.

Nevertheless, whenever I hear this song played, it makes me think of my highschool-best-friend, Janet. When she turned 16, Janet's parents gave her a cream-colored t-top Firebird. They were immigrants from Korea and I think they were trying to give their eldest child the "American Experience" or something (getting a birthday car was not in my cards, so it always seemed a little social-climber to me, I guess). Anyway, Janet loved driving that car. Sometimes we would just get in and drive just to drive, with no particular destination, like teenagers do sometimes, you know?

Here's where Yello came in. There was this one super-pretentious neighborhood on the southeast end of town called "The Woods of Bailey Hobson" (say it with a nasal just-out-of-new-england-prep-school lilt) where Janet and I made a regular destination on our drives, BECAUSE, holy-F, the houses were just beyond RIDICULOUSLY ENORMOUS!!

To the bass-blaring nonsense that is "Oh Yeah," we would traverse this development screaming
at the top of our lungs things like, " OH MY GOD THIS PLACE IS %*&#^% UNREAL!!" and
"WHY DO PEOPLE NEED THESE &($\^!$ HUGE HOUSES?!!" or just "*$&%^\!^&!!"

An alternate soundtack was 7 Seconds, the Crew album. Janet never bothered to learn the lyrics, so she was just the cutest thing, screaming out random syllables while punching her fist in the air, with passionately angry expression (well, I'm sure we were both doing that). Even so, "Oh Yeah" and driving with Janet are indelibly together in my mind.

Chik...chik-a-chik-a....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh bother.

Just a quick apology to all of you who view my blog via a Reader. My phone choked on my post last night and sent six of them in a row. How annoying!!! I fixed it here, but don't think I can help your Reader bots. Urk.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Five more things about Ms. Nylon

Kelly O tagged me for another meme; her five things were about bars, and really, not much interesting has happened to me in bars (except taking a few acquaintances home because they had been slipped mickeys) so I'll make mine about hm, let's see.... Ms. Nylon and fainting!

1. The first time I became aware that the sight of (mostly my own) blood made me faint was at a doctor's appointment when I was around five. The nurse had just pricked my finger to take a sample, then she and my mom turned their backs on me to do who knows what, and while examining the odd bead off blood growing on my middle finger's pad, I fell off the exam table.

2. Another blood-fainting event was right after I lost a tooth at age six or so. I wanted a better look at the space where my tooth used to be, so I climbed up on the bathroom counter. Somehow, I wasn't prepared for the gory, messy hole, and my mom found me on the floor of the bathroom. For dramatic effect, she told me that I managed to get the hairdryer cord wrapped around my neck while I fell, so it was an amazing scene.

3. A third recollection I have was while I was in college. Some friends and I went to see Skinny Puppy play during their VIVIsect VI tour, wherein the front man, Nivek Ogre (aka Kevin Ogilvie), dressed up like a surgeon and the stage was set like a laboratory. During one song, he wheeled out a stuffed dog on a gurney. Plush, not taxidermy.

While singing, he slowly snapped on some rubber gloves and pulled out an enormous syringe full of very red liquid; mind you, I was in no way convinced that any of this was real. He dramatically plunged the syringe into his elbow, pumped, then slowly extended his arm, letting red liquid (not blood) flow down in rivulets. Still okay. Then, he opened up his rubber glove and let the red stuff into the glove, so it ran into the fingers and all over his hand inside the laytex and THIS is where my brain had had enough and decided to shut me off.

I came to on the floor of the club, with a bunch of people I didn't know trying to pull me up, but managing to really mess with my dress. Ugh.

4. Also in college (during a summer break), I had a mole removed from right in between my shoulder blades. At the end of the day after the treatment, I asked my sister if she would changed the bandaid, to keep things fresh (I'm sure I was instructed to do so). While my back was to her, she peeled it off and in an extremely horrified voice, gasped and said, "Uuuuhgh! Oh my god!" and I yelped, "What?!? What does it look like?" But, my brain had already started to imagine oozing gangrene or something equally nasty and boom, on the floor again.

5. As an adult, I managed to make it through both children's births without passing out. Nevertheless, I once had a minor, minor procedure, also involving a mole and two stitches. When it was over, I think I saw one drop of blood on the paper on the exam table and I fainted.

It's very primal and illogical, this fainting response. After the first several times, I could anticipate that it was coming on, yet could do nothing to stop it, almost like a bystander.

Ach, our bodies & brains are mysterious things.


I'm tagging some new NaBloPoMo pals who are surely able to bounce off this theme (think of it as an exquisite corpse, um, except you can see what I've already done, and well, you know what I mean... I hope):

VDog
Stickyfeathers
Natural Mommy
Trish
Kara

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dear Parents...

I just received a pretty hilarious letter at my dance class tonight. See if you can figure out why I am so amused.

"Dear Parents:

I have asked your daughter's class to participate and perform in the Studio's holiday party performance. It is Sunday, December 16 in the afternoon. The dancers must be at the Studio by 1:00 p.m. and the party is from 2:00-3:00 p.m. They will perform at 2:15 p.m...

...I hope you will allow your child to participate. If you have any questions, please call me at...[number omitted]

Sincerely,
Mrs. H"

So, what do you think? Mom, you're reading, can I dance at the party? Please?

Heh.

Happy fifth birthday Rosie!


Rosie+Rafi
Originally uploaded by nylonthread
In this photo, you'll see two things that Rosie really enjoyed about her party (there were many others, of course!): her chocolate cake with white icing and June from Little Einsteins decorated on top (by a professional baker, not me) AND her dear friend Rafaela from preschool. Rafaela is a few months older than Rosie and was able to enter Kindergarten this past September, so Rosie was delighted that Rafi was able to come to her party and they could visit again! They were such great playmates at school and Rafi loooooooves little Dash (just about as much as Sheryl's Kira!!).

Now that she's five, there are many, many things that Rosie has strong opinions about. She likes to wear dresses, rarely pants. Her favorite color right now is pink, but occasionally blue or purple are chosen instead. She doesn't like when the seams of her socks or tights aren't on the right place over her toes. Rosie looks forward to her super-fun ballet class every Saturday and has a few lovely leotards now, thanks to friends and generous neighbors. She loves, loves, loves to spend time with her Grandma Sheila and Auntie M. (I think they are better at focused play than I am.)

Rosie thinks potty-talk is hilarious, likes to wear her curly hair down (but will let me put it up if I insist), and is starting to insist on washing herself in the bath. She doesn't like when I pour water over her head to rinse shampoo out, though. She likes to sing and has been making up ridiculous lyric combos to common songs just to crack herself up. Her favorite toys are Rosa, her TY guinea pig; and a beautiful Belle doll that was a gift from Lila's family. She loves books, playing with her toys (I find them in the oddest places in her room, and can only try to imagine what fantasy tale caused a Ken doll to be abandoned in her kitchen oven), and hiding/giggling with Dash in his room.

She's still a very picky eater: the only meat she seems to eat is chicken, but she will eat edamame beans, lima beans, and all kinds of nuts, so I think she's doing okay for protein. She will eat very small amounts of carrots and broccoli if we insist but will eat as many bowls of rice, noodles, cereal, or couscous as we put in front of her. Her favorite drinks are milk and grape juice. And, of course, she loves most junk food: chips, chocolate, french fries, cheez curls—we try to offer them in low moderation.

She's very sweet and likes to give and receive hugs and kisses. If she feels that she's been shorted a kiss or hug at dropoff, she will burst into heartbroken tears until we come back to fix the discrepancy. She has an easy laugh (we love to tickle her till "no means no!" and tell jokes) and cries at injustices (or errant sock seams) just as readily. She loves her brother especially, all of her family affectionately, and likes to visit with her friend Thea at least once every weekend. Lucky for her, we saw Thea Saturday and Sunday!

I love you, sweetheart!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Final count was 86 partiers!



I went back to evite.com, changed "guest replies" until I had an accurate count, and came up with 86 people who were at our house. We have a small house, originally meant to have only two bedrooms. The third bedroom (Dash's) was designed to be a formal dining room. Our basement is finished and has a separate office in it (a fourth bedroom), so there are many places for people to lurk.

The photo above has my dad in the foreground, holding a glass of wine, and I sure hope he and the rest of our guests had a great time! It was fun pulling it off.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

First twos tantrum!


Dash threw his very first, sustained, terrible-twos tantrum today, at 28.5 months. Seriously, the first. Normally, he's very easy to redirect when he starts yelling, you know, "hey look over there" and he's done. But today, I was at a park (where we saw Peacocks!! too wondrous lovely) with Rosie, Dash, Kellygo and her two active cuties and he threw it.

Even though he and Rosie both claimed to be "fine" in their cotton hoodies, their fingers were icy whenever I touched them; I had brought winter coats just in case. Rosie changed into hers easy, no fuss, and chased after Thea and Liam. Dash, however, thrashed and screamed in his new winter coat: "NO LIKE THIS JACKET!! IS ICKY!!" (typical of other clothing changes this week, so I was primed to ignore it.)

I had to pick him up to keep up with Kelly and crew, but he thrashed some more, kicked, and shoved his hand in my neck, so I put him down, figuring he wanted to walk, who knows? As soon as he was down, he just flopped on his back and continued screaming.

I'm sorry, I had to laugh. It's just that I can't keep from putting these types of events in perspective! OMG, YR COAT SUX? THE WRLD IZ ENDDIG!

I tried to continue as normal, but had to take the coat off. Major mom battle, lost, so sad. Whatever. There was a second tantrum about 30 minutes later when Rosie had to use a public toilet and Dash was too busy playing to be interrupted. So, he got strapped into his car seat to scream while confined, and we said our goodbyes to our friends. Thanks Kelly for handling R's potty break!

Dash settled down a short while after we got on the road, strangely after he had some food (see a pattern from earlier posts?). And was even delighted when I played his musical request: "Mommee? Play 'Hello, Baby' please? YAY, 'Hello, Baby!' Is FUN!! YAY!!"

"Hello, Baby" is a nonsense dance tune by a Japanese pop band off of a gray's anatomy soundtrack I like to play; it's goofy and repetitive and really seemed to help take the edge off tantrum-boy. That and some cheese crackers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Party

We just had a whole lot of people at our house for Rosie's 5th birthday party. 75 friends RSVPd, and I haven't done the count yet on how many were actually here. It was a lot of people to have in the house on a cold Nevember day and I'd have to agree with AJS that we were a little beyond comfortable! Next time, we will know that this is about all our house will hold.

I enjoyed seeing everyone! Thanks for coming and celebrating. Special thanks go to Maureen for baking her delicious strawberry cake (rave reviews!) and helping Rosie dress in her birthday outfit! And to Kelly for bringing cupcakes and picking up goody bag materials for the 20 extra kids who RSVP'd.

I'll try to post pictures as soon as possible!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Flashback Friday: Gallery Assistant

Flashback seemed like a pretty good theme to continue, so here you go.

While I was home for the summer during college working on a BFA, my dad convinced me that I should try to get a studio at the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Alexandria, VA. As an engineer, I think he wasn't really sure what I might do with a fine arts degree, saw plenty of artists making a living at TFAC, so why not me?

So, I visited studios and talked with artists about what they did there, how they got their studios (a jury selection) and how I, as an art student, might work toward getting a studio. Universally, they suggested I become a gallery assistant. I managed to make friends with another assistant, Jackie, and she gave my name to one of the artists, and I was in!

I worked there on weekends for different artists for over 10 years, and never once tried to get a studio. One of the points that the artists prided themselves on was that their work was not for hire, or commercially based. For example, a photographer who was paid to do a commercial shoot could not, by their tenets, display images that were from that shoot, no matter how beautiful. It was art for arts' sake.

My bent turned out to be graphic design, or working commercially, for hire. I enjoyed being around artists and still maintain a few friendships with folks I knew there. It's been almost three years since I worked there last.

The artist that I assisted for the longest time was evicted from her studio in 2005. Shortly after I stopped working for her, in fact. Toward the end, I was the only one opening her studio to the public and making sales for her. She had stopped coming to her studio during open hours and just worked on her art at night, when nobody else was around. She grew to hate dealing with the public and their intolerable questions. These actions were noncompliant with TFAC basic rules.

Her art was abstract prints, imbued with vibrant colors and enhanced with bright pastels. Even I would wince when some tourist from the heartland (insert twang) asked, "couldn't you have used a ruler to make any of those lines?" or my favorite, "my child could've painted that!"

I would really try hard to be her muse, phoning her weekly and giving her inspiring words about her work, and how the people really weren't that bad. It was a fine line to walk, because if I made a suggestion that was too concrete (that smacked of a commission) she would shut down and refuse to listen. I did my best to just stroke her ego and let her know which of her color combinations I loved best.

Two of her pieces are in my home, in Dash's room. She would hate that. Despite the bright colors and inticing geometric or biomorphically abstract shapes, she did NOT want her work to be considered suitable for children. Or really, even suitable for a living room. She actively did not want to know the final resting place of any of her prints.

I guess I understood where she was coming from. As an artist, would you really want someone coming to your studio, viewing the culmination of your life's work and saying, "hm, that doesn't really go with my couch..."?

That's what she had signed up for, but ultimately became disenchanted with it. The lesson here? Um, mental illness and fine artists are friends?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flashback: jungle bus

The noisy people I'm traveling with on the commuter bus this afternoon took me back to a memorable high school bus trip.

I'm sure you remember the clowns and the troublemakers that were in your high school? Well our bus driver loved them; I'm sure he used to be one. He would actively enjoy their wackiness and somehow, out of respect for him, they never really got out of control.

There was this one day when the clowns got on and started goofing, making chimpanzee noises. Soon, another wannabe goof tried gibbon whoops, then another, howler monkeys. Other teens tried parrot shrieks and tiger growls. The entire bus population participated now, geeks, losers, prom queens, jocks, burnouts...every last one a jungle animal.

The whole bus vibrated with the sounds of the Rainforest.

What did the driver do? He was laughing so hard, but managed to grab his two-way mike and broadcasted our jungle to the entire high school bus system!

Whoop-woop-woop-whoop!!

Clumsiness

Yesterday while I was talking down an exhibit (a banner stand) after a seminar my office hosts, I misjudged how strong the retraction element on the display fabric was and the whole thing came down on top of my right foot. I tried to stay off it and iced it before bed. It's feeling much better, thanks!

This morning, I was walking down our staircase, and for the first time EVER, I missed the last step and after stepping into air, I landed on my right knee (this is the kind of thing that I have disturbing dreams about). I was holding a glass full of water and managed to hold onto it; of course the water went everywhere, but that's easier to clean up than glass. Whew. Also, after my shower, I went to pull a towel out of our overstuffed towel rack (thank you AJS) and the drywall anchors lost the fight, dumping the fixture, all the towels and drywall debris onto the floor.

And for clumsiness in a verbal way, I forgot that I had given a paper invitation to our neighbor, inviting her son to Rosie's birthday party and that she had told me right then that they could come. I so, very, very much rely on evite and email that paper invites freak me out. How can you track them? Well, I had this horrifying moment late yesterday that I had forgotten to invite them and so sent her an email and left a voicemail to be sure to include them.

This is what separates me big time from the rest of my neighbors, I think. They are sooo not big on inclusion.

I received an email this morning from her reminding me that they were all set. And I feel like a flake that can't keep track of the simplest things.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Art Nouveau image request

Say, here's a request to all you image junkies out there: I have been looking for an art nouveau-style image of a dragonfly.


It seems that the most popular art nouveau motifs are flowers, vines, flowing fabrics, flowing hair, abstract curvilinear patterns, female figures, really fascinating typography, and astounding architectural details.


Insects, especially dragonflies, seem to me to be well suited to this style of art, with their intricate tracery in the wings, and the tapered symmetry of their bodies. Nevertheless, I have not found any satisfactory images.


I am close to attempting to draw what I have in mind myself, but for that, I would want a sample of something similar. Anyone interested in helping me with research? It's purely personal.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Proofs are in!

Here are the best examples of Rosie and Dash from the proofs that were sent over. I think they look very cute. Dash is smiling more than last time, which is great!

However, I am disappointed that there wasn't a sibling photo included, since they have done a sibling shot the last 4 or 5 times we've used this service at day care.

I am pretty good at photoshop, if I do say so myself, but I think combining these two images digitally is a tall order. What will I do for our holiday cards this year? Maybe we should just DIY, like the Os do instead.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy Birthday AJS!!

Today, AJS turns 40.

During our courtship, which lasted about 5 years, we really had no pressure to have a wedding; things were going well, we were happy, why mess with it? But at the five-year mark, there was a bit of a clock ticking: 10 years ago, AJS had set a goal get married before he turned 30. So, we did it, with a few months to spare!

Two years after, we went on a vacation to England and Ireland, where I took this photo of AJS drinking Guiness in a Dublin pub. It's one of my favorite photos of him. Doesn't he look happy and well rested?

So at 40, after 10 years of marriage, 4 different jobs, 3 cars, 2 houses, 2 gorgeous & wonderful children, 2 pet birds, a handful of vacations, and countless loving friends and family,

What's next?

Whatever it is, I'm there with you. As we toasted while at your birthday dinner on Saturday, "Here's to another 40!"

I love you, my snarky, clever, hilarious, sensitive, frank, this-is-what-you-get, cook-extraordinaire, silly-bath-daddy, mr. smoove, fiction-writing, audit-editing, monkeyrotica, man-o-mine!

Dads always know

I'm following up here to #2 in my "Weird and Random" post. Here is a thwarted sneaking out story, circa 1985 (me, age 15).

Some friends told me to meet them at "the pond," a gathering spot for some of the punks on the Southern end of town. They all would sneak out and meet there in the middle of the night to smoke, drink, and generally hang out. I didn't know most of them because they went to the cross-town high school. But, I was glad to be included and willing to give disobedience another try.

A plan was needed, to keep my parents off my trail. Certain things needed to be set in place. A squeaky basement door placed slightly ajar; a bicycle set behind the house; all details to be worked out ahead of time. When the hour arrived, I was ready. I went to bed in my clothes, to make a quicker escape. I swiftly made a sculpture of myself, sleeping, artfully created with pillows and blankets billowing just so. Admiring my handiwork, I wished I could take a photo of such a perfect sleeping figure. No lingering.

I left the bedroom. Step by silent step, I gingerly crept to the basement. Past my parents' room, down one flight of stairs, two flights, through the laundry room, out the squeaky door that ::SQUEAKED:: when it shut. But I ran to my bicycle and adrenaline rushing practically flew the five miles to the pond. I had never been there before, so I hoped that my recollection of the directions led me true.

When I arrived, the park was dark and quiet. With my heart beating hard and out of breath, I had to wait a few minutes before I could hear anything but myself. Finally some faint laughter and the tiny flicker of a cigarette lighter caught my scan of the area and I spotted the group many yards away. The man-made pond was in a basin-shaped area, bordered by greenscape and edged by residential homes and roads. Many houses backed up to the small park but were too far to be bothered by any careful teenaged rowdiness.

I walked my bike through the grass and made it to the group. I only knew a few of the punk-types there; I had an unrequited crush on a wealthy trust-funder named Bohdan who was there with his cousin. I found out later that he was more interested in the drugs that could be found among punks than the culture itself. My bike found a place in the grass and I mingled with some of the group, really just watching. I was offered beer, cigarettes, and declined because I was still on an adrenaline high.

Relaxed, I started chatting with my friends and told them the story of my blanket sculpture. They thought I was such a goof for going to such lengths. Their parents didn't seem to care if they weren't around, as long as they didn't get arrested. I don't recall how long I was there exactly—not very long, as I hadn't even sat down when a person warned, "there's someone coming!"

We all were silent, looking in the direction of the community pool's parking lot, at the far ridge of the park. As the figure approached, someone asked, "do you think it's a cop?" I replied, "I don't think so, he's wearing jeans." The man came close enough to be recognized.

It was my dad. He saw me and said, "get your bike." I got it. Dumbfounded, I asked him how he found me—I'd never been there before!—and he replied,

"Dads always know."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Asleep

Dia de Los Muertes

Here are some wonderfully colorful photos of the Day of the Dead displays at the National Museum of the American Indian!

























Rosie and Thea were having lots of fun together!











We missed the demonstrations where they showed how to make/paint sugar skulls, create the paper cut-outs, and make the paper flowers, but at least they gave us some flowers for the girls. They both wanted to wear them in their hair! Cuties!













Somehow, none of the photos I took of Liam came out, but here is a gorgeous moon sculpture that hopefully makes up for lack of boy. Dash had a fever & was hanging out at home. He was just fine the next day.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

AJS can still fit in his leather pants

This weekend is AJS's 40th birthday, and he told me that all he really wanted to do is hang out with me at a decent restaurant and have a few drinks. He's all dressed up right now, polishing his black leather motorcycle boots while we wait for the babysitter. When he's not polishing his boots, he has been wooing me all evening, but we won't go there.

Usually, when we have impending plans that require a sitter, I invoke my limited resources, put out a net, and have a person on the line well in advance. This time, it all kind of snuck up on me. I have been planning Rosie's party and initially, AJS said he wanted to do something completely different that involved lots of friends and renting a room out in a lovely local cocktail bar. When he nixed that a couple weeks ago, my planning train went off track.

So, I finally booked a sitter, Ms. M., on Thursday. Whew, I thought, that's a relief. Only, she didn't give me her cell number and then didn't confirm that she got my email with directions. Yikes! I sent another email hoping that she'd follow up, but I started wondering if I even had the right address. Did she even get the directions? Worse yet, would she be one of those flaky people that would just show up without confirming or calling?

I needed a back up plan and I needed to keep AJS in the dark about the situation as long as possible.

On Friday, I called another sitter, Ms. T. and told her frankly what was going on. She said she could come, but it would be 2 hours later. That was fine, we don't have reservations.

So, this afternoon, Ms. M. phoned, only to tell us that she would be running late and she didn't know how late; she'd phone back in 2 hours. 2.5 hrs later, no call, so I phoned her. She was still in the midst of her earlier plans and would be too late. Thank goodness that we had a back up!! Ms. T. should be here in about 15 minutes. Whew!

I'll let you know how the dinner went later. AJS looks pretty smooth in his leather pants and boots!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Seven facts, weird & random


underwater lena
Originally uploaded by monokultur
I was tagged by my pal Ms. Obsessive for this meme. The rules are:

• Link to your tagger and post rules.
• Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird.
• Tag 7 people at the end of post and list their names.
• Let them know they were tagged by a comment on their blog.

1. I have memories of swimming underwater solo (accidentally) for the very first time on a family vacation when I was four years old. I went on to swim competitively and was a lifeguard in high school.

2. Whenever I tried to “sneak out” or otherwise surreptitiously disobey my parents in high school, they somehow found out every time in random and bizarre circumstances. After several embarrassingly thwarted incidents, I gave up and started just being up front with them.

3. As a child, I never had to suffer the death of a treasured pet; our cockatiel, Chirp, was added to our family when I was 8 years old and died in 2002. She was 27 years old.

4. Foods I tell people I’m allergic to, but really just don’t like: mayonnaise, blue cheese, sea scallops, American cheese, and pasta salad (the kind with cheese cubes). For some bizarre reason, I don’t like chocolate cake or fudge, but just can’t resist BROWNIES!!

5. One of my ears is about 1/4-inch higher than the other, which makes wearing/adjusting glasses and sunglasses a bit of a pain. I can wiggle my ears, though!

6. I met my husband 15 years ago through a Washington City Paper personals ad. His was the only ad I have ever answered. He likes to say he wrote it to find me. I also can remember it by heart: “Slim, exotic, single male, 25, half-Japanese (no accent), ISO clever, non-insane bureaucrat with an artist’s soul to explore bookstores, existential dilemmas. Likes Joyce, Python, Waits, Welles, iced coffee. No double-dipped Baptists or women who can’t recover from their recovery.”

7. Our children’s first names are based on a character in an Orson Welles movie and a 1930s crime fiction author (bonus points if you can guess who to either!); their middle names are from AJS’s maternal grandmother and my father.

I tag:
Dees
Radical Mama
On the curb
Mrs. G. (who has commented here a few times lately, HI!)
Miss Molly
Monkeyrotica
Forstmeister

Since I’m not readily able to leave comments on people’s blogs, I’ll make an effort to poke around at home on our dial-up; it might take awhile, so I hope you take your cue from this tag!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No Tricky-treets for you.

Yesterday, AJS got a call early on from daycare that Rosie had a fever and when he arrived to pick her up, she had just puked on the lunch table. Ewww. OUR theory is that this fever and nausea are related to the flu shots that we all got on Tuesday.

My Tuesday was all messed up by the flu shots; I decided to ditch my dance class :-( because we were going to the flu shot clinic and I hadn't finished the final details on the kids' mostly-home-made costumes. If I went to the class, the costumes would be moot. So, we were at the very-overcrowded clinic for over an hour waiting and finally getting the shots. AJS and I got them too, and set very fine examples for the kids.

Nurse: Who's getting their shot first?

AJS: (jumping up with arm in the air) ME!! ME!! I'm first!

I followed suit. Rosie was slightly upset, trying to watch the shot go in (kind of like at the Rock N Romp Halloween Party last year when she couldn't keep her eyes off the Taco costume), so I reached over and covered her face with my hand.

Dash was not a trooper. As soon as that shot went in his thigh, he screamed bloody murder! We were calling the shot a "pinch", so the whole way to the car we kept hearing "No like pinch. Pinch hurt. Don wan ennymore pinch." I did finish their costumes, yay me.

Back to yesterday. Daycare had a costume parade, so the kids were very excited to get all dressed up in them before leaving the house. I think they both participated in the parade, but by the end of it, Rosie was falling asleep and the teacher took her temp to discover a fever. AJS brought Rosie home and she slept for about 5 hours straight. She was a little out of it and weepy when they picked me up at the train station, so really, there was no trick-or-treating in store for her, poor thing.

Dash, however, had removed his costume during the day, so somebody wrote ELMO in marker on his forehead, WHY? I really don't know. So teachers would stop asking what his costume was? I dunno. It's actually quite brilliant. Why make or even buy a costume when you can just write what you are on your forehead in marker?

We still stayed in. Everyone was just not up for braving the streets. That's about it for me. Hail NaBloPoMO!

Monday, October 29, 2007

This remind you of someone? AJS?


Kebab Koobideh
Originally uploaded by plhu
Auntie M. and I took Rosie and Dash to play in a wonderful outdoor park on Sundy before lunch. They both were running around everywhere and being so crazy-active that I was surprised to see Dash with tears in his eyes. Here's how our conversation went:

Me: Dash, are you sad?
Dash: No! Am angry!
Me: Why are you angry?
Dash: Have tears!
Me: Hmm, are you hungry for lunch?
Dash: YES!!!!

So, we left the park and took them to Moby Dick's House of Kebab, where I ordered Kubideh with rice and we had a side of hummous and bread. Rosie quietly consumed large quantities of rice, some bread and a much-cajoled sliver or two of Auntie M.'s chicken kebab. But after he gobbled up the bread, rice, and some kubideh (which I called "burger" for acceptance's sake), I got this unsolicited response from our boy:

Dash: Am happy! I am happy now!

(try to imagine a swaying happy-dance in his seat)
 
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