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.


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.


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 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.


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 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:

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):


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

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):

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

Dash brought it to our attention by pointing and yelling,


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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


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
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