The Drooling Song

This is classic Eleanor, making up a song, covered in jelly stains, being silly. Enjoy!

Formalities

Forms. Paper. Bills. More paper. Did I mention paper? I hate them all. I’m knee deep in all the paperwork that goes into the smooth running of a household, and I just got rid of two large garbage bags worth of it. Most of that was Oliver’s art. The boy would like to hang on to every scrap of paper that ever saw a crayon.

Where does it end?

Eleanor is moving to Oliver’s school so we have all the medical forms to submit. I’ll get them filled out tomorrow when I finally take her in for the dreaded four year check-up, complete with four, count them, four shots. I’m three months late, mostly because at least two classmates became seriously ill following this batch of shots. Also? I’m a wuss and try to make Mr C deal with the appointments we know will include shots. I’m batting about .350 on this. Oliver, mercifully, has no medical forms due this year. Yee-haw!

Though I think I did everything I was supposed to with the on-line unemployment forms, it’s been six weeks and I haven’t seen a dime. I called the service center today and got a busy signal for my first 22 attempts. When I finally got through and navigated the menu system I was told my wait would be “less than one hour and forty minutes.” Yee-haw? I gave up after 20 minutes. Cash will show up at some point, I suppose, or I missed a step and they will alert me. Somehow. According to their on-line systems, all is well. I remain unconvinced.

Bills. They need paying. For a while I was really good at putting them in my automagic bill paying system through the bank the day they arrived in the mail. Then I got lazy, and the piles started sprouting all over the house. After a major effort this week, I think I have caught up. Fingers crossed.

I have a big box of stuff that needs to be sent back to various places, or sent to friends. That’s my next nut to crack. When that’s done I should be able to locate the floor on my half of the office, just in time to tackle the kids’ school memory albums. I have vowed Oliver will not start first grade without my having documented Pre-K and Kindergarten in his album. This blog as my witness….

Seriously, I should be getting better at this stuff, not worse.

How do you keep up with the paper and other crap that comes in the door? HALP!

Happy Birthday Suebob!

I am lucky to have some very good friends in the blogging world. Friends who tolerate my extra special brand of annoying craziness. They even introduce me to their friends. Last year’s BlogHer conference in New York was no exception. Laurie and Sarah, my posse at Yankee Stadium, introduced me to Suebob Davis. We shared a great brunch and I’ve been reading her blog and following her on Twitter ever since. (She unfollowed me briefly, after an unfortunate tweet including one of her forbidden topics. Like Laurie says, Suebob is a forgiving soul.)

Today is Suebob’s 50th birthday. Holy shit! (And that’s me realizing I’m less than five years away from that milestone of epic proportions. May I wear it as gracefully!) She’s been posting daily for the last fifty days, highlighting a charity that is important to her. It’s amazing, and covers a wide range of causes, from the other side of the world to your home town. As we say in Pittsburgh, go check it aht a’nat. I’ll wait.

See what I mean? Amazing. The one I want to mention here is Write Girl. As someone who only this year, my 45th year, discovered she doesn’t hate writing, this program speaks to me. I want to bring it to Pittsburgh, and I’ve talked to someone who I know can make that happen. It really should be in every city, empowering girls through writing.

Thank you Suebob, for being a writer and using your talents to bring the magic to our world. Of all the dogs I don’t know in the world, Goldie is the one I most want to meet. Can we make that happen?

And thanks to Laurie and Karen for organizing this celebration of Suebob. Yinz rock.

Weight Watching

I’ve been back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon for ten weeks and I’ve lost 22 pounds. I have 30 left to lose, according to all the magic charts for height and age. The last two times I did WW I didn’t qualify for the age bonus. Oof.

Just ten weeks ago I weighed more than I did the day I delivered either kid. I started each pregnancy about 10-15 pounds overweight. I gained 35 pounds each time. Ten weeks ago I weighed more. You do the math. (Or not. Please.)

If I want to live long enough to see grandchildren, changes were required. Apparently Weight Watchers changed too, when I wasn’t paying attention. My previous, and pretty successful, attempts had all been a struggle after the second week. Enough of a struggle that I could get to 20-25 pounds in 5-6 months and I would give up. Not this time.

I’m finding it’s just a little too easy for my comfort and there are no plateaus in sight. I just keep chugging along at a steady pace. Certainly some days have been better than others but week by week it’s all good.

As I have lost weight, the points earned for exercise have been harder to earn, but I made a fun discovery last night. Thanks to MapMyRun and my iPhone, I learned my walks with Dudley, the foster dog, have been faster than I’ve been giving myself credit for. I had been entering them in the WW tracker as being less than 3 mph. They are really more in the 4.2-4.5 mph range. (The dog insists on power walking!) Tonight we did 1.66 miles in 24 minutes.

Updated: Woah…Thanks, WordPress, for eating the end of my post and making it look like I fell asleep while writing it. I didn’t! Honest! Pinky-swear. Power walking no longer leaves me winded and tired! Here’s my best recollection of the rest of the post:

Another discovery is that all my pants and shorts are suddenly too big. In April I was afraid I would have nothing to wear when warm weather hit and that was another good motivator to make some changes. I was down to just one pair of shorts that fit at the end of last summer. After avoiding the dryer like the plague, I discovered putting my shorts in the dryer is a poor-man’s taking in at the tailor! I’m hoping to get through this summer without buying new shorts, though I won’t be eating more to make that happen.

So what have I been doing, in addition to power walking? Wii Fit, for one thing. Tracking WW points on my phone and computer. The app and web interface are loads better than in the past, though an iPad optimized version is still sorely needed. Eating fruits and vegetables. (All the great things in season now are helping. Peaches are cheap! And farmer’s markets are so much fun this time of year.) And finally, paying attention to portion sizes. Weighing and measuring. Counting pistachios  and PopChips. Wearing out the battery on my digital scale.

If all goes well, a few people won’t recognize me at BlogHer 11 in a few weeks!

Twinkle Toes

Oliver's toes on Twitpic These dainty toes belong to my six year old son. His younger sister has been pestering me to paint her nails for a few weeks. Since she’s still sucking her thumb, and I fully intend to use this as leverage, we compromised and painted her toes pink after her shower tonight. The toe separators were tough to put on her tiny feet.

Her brother insisted he should get in on the action. Not surprisingly, the toe separators fit a whole lot better. Rather than pink, we settled on just a sparkly top-coat. He should be the hit of camp tomorrow.

Yeah, I debated not doing it for about 2 seconds. It wasn’t worth turning into a big deal. He did ask if I could do Daddy’s toes next. Best.Question.Ever.

New Love

Eleanor on the carousel at Schenley Plaza

I really love my new camera, Mr C’s present to me for my birthday last January. It’s not really new, but since Mr C was the original owner, it is in pristine condition.

The iPhone is great, and I grab it all the time but the more I play with the Canon XTi, the more I love it, and the more likely I am to make sure it’s in my bag every day.

Eleanor’s class has a tradition of taking a birthday walk for each child. A committee makes a map for the class to follow, and there are usually surprises for the birthday girl or boy. Due to the wet spring we had, Eleanor’s walk happened nearly two months after her birthday, but that didn’t matter to her. She just wanted to ride the carousel. Her surprises were Oliver and his friend Ramsey waiting for her at the carousel.

OliverOliver isn’t terribly fond of my new camera, even if it meant he became the owner of my old point and shoot camera. I get lucky every so often.

Since this photo was taken the other front tooth has fallen out. In fact, he’s lost three teeth since school ended. Our tooth fairy has been busy!

So That Happened

I have neglected this blog for too long. It’s not that nothing has happened. Too much has happened. Too many entirely blog-worthy things. It’s the words that didn’t happen. It’s not you. It’s me.

Here are the highlights, so to speak, in mostly chronological order:

  • I went back to Weight Watchers. On-line only this time. Much to my surprise, the changes in the program since my last attempt are fantastic. I’m not struggling at all, and sometimes I think it’s a little too easy. As of yesterday, I have shed 21 pounds in a little less than 10 weeks. According to the magic WW charts, I have another 31 left to lose, but I am ecstatic with my progress. Realizing I weighed six pounds more than I did the day I delivered each kid was a wake-up call. I’m going to try to write about weight-related things on Mondays, after my morning weigh-in. No promises, however.
  • I stopped working. I can’t say much more than that, except that not working full time is a glorious thing. Within a week I had an offer of a small, part-time project that I can do from home. There may have been angels singing.
  • Mr C had two trips. It probably should have been one long one but he came home for a few days in the middle. While he was home, at one of Oliver’s soccer practices, he tore his ACL.
  • School for Oliver ended. Moving up day was a success, especially in the “not a dry eye in the house” sense of success. He knows the native Americans called corn, beans, and squash “The Three Sisters.” He’s allowed to move on to first grade.
  • Due to an entirely unanticipated set of events, we learned Eleanor will not have the same teacher Oliver did in pre-k. Sort of. The assistant he had for both pre-k and kindergarten is going to be the lead teacher in her pre-k classroom. We adore her and look forward to a great year. Still, unsettling. Something similar in appearance, though in reality very different, happened a few weeks before Oliver started pre-k and I didn’t like the flashbacks. Deja vu all over again, except not. Anyway.
  • We got a foster dog! He’s a four year old Clumber spaniel named Dudley. His owner, who lived locally, passed away. Her family contacted one of the local shelters, and they gave them my contact info. Our breed rescue group has found a forever home for him in New Jersey. He will be with us a short while longer and then relocate. It’s amazing to have a younger dog in the house after so many years with geriatrics. He has a ton of energy, and we are slowly discovering what he knows (sit, down, roll over(!)). We fall in love a little more every day but we will continue to wait for our next dog.
  • Penguin has not been doing well. Our vet discovered a couple of tumors. She had surgery last week on the one that needed more immediate attention (and was easy to remove). It turned out to be a malignant carcinoma. We have a follow up consultation with the oncologist soon, and one with internal medicine regarding the smaller tumor. That one is causing symptoms we may be able to manage with medication, and frequent ultrasounds to check the tumor’s status. She’s nearly thirteen and a half so aggressive treatment isn’t in the cards.

Honestly, with all of that and my family visiting last weekend and three baseball games, I feel like I have been busier than at any other time in my life. I doubt that’s really true, but that’s the view from here. I keep thinking I should be doing more, I should be happier, I should be calmer with the kids. I’m not quite there yet, but I see glimmers of good things ahead.

So what got me writing again? Frankly, the fear that BlogHer is coming up in just a few weeks. Abandon your blog and go to BlogHer? Nope. Not me. It was well past time to climb back on the horse. Make it so, and all that. Your encouragement means a lot.

Baseball Is a Family Affair

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Photo by David Watson, licensed under Creative Commons

Dear Oliver,

Last weekend was tough. Really tough. Three baseball games in three days might just be my limit. I never expected watching my two favorite baseball teams play would be just so darn hard. I wanted everyone to play well. I hoped your improving Pirates would win at least one out of three with my Red Sox. Most of all, I wanted every one of us, including the visiting extended family, to have some fun.

I’d say we batted about .500. The Pirates played well, the Red Sox made some mistakes, and the series ended with the Pirates winning two of the three games. Just thinking about the details of the games brings back the pit in my stomach. If you could read the national media you would discover the Pirates didn’t win so much as the Red Sox lost, but no matter how you slice it, the Pirates added two more to the win column. As Bucs manager Clint Hurdle has become famous for saying, it was a Meatloaf series. Two out of three ain’t bad. I know you think Meatloaf is something evil I might serve for dinner, but the way the Bucs have played in recent years, I think you can agree two out of three is spectacular, right?

At some point during the weekend you inexplicably decided to hate the Red Sox and announced you will now root for the Toronto Blue Jays. Someday you must explain this allegiance. Having Jose Bautista on your fantasy team, selected when you only knew his team and number, just isn’t enough. Perhaps you really are some sort of six year old fantasy baseball savant. Then again, the Pirates went up to Toronto this week and took two out of three from them, too.

Anyway, we had some fun and there was some pain, which I will blame at least in part on taking you to a Saturday night game with fireworks, followed a mere fifteen hours later with an afternoon game. You were tired and grumpy on Sunday. I think we all were. Family can be stressful and much to my surprise, baseball can be stressful too.

What I loved most about the weekend was watching your dad, so totally unconflicted in his allegiance to the Pirates. When I met him, nearly fourteen years ago, I never could have predicted he would become a baseball fan. I hoped, of course, but it didn’t seem likely. He didn’t grow up with baseball. Soccer, rugby, cricket, sure. Baseball? It isn’t exactly popular in his native England, but here he is, hooked. I find him watching baseball by choice. (He has absolute command of the remote control, after all.) He keeps his feelings to himself always but when he’s watching baseball you can get a good idea of what is happening just by watching his face.

And it’s not just baseball. It’s the Pirates that have Daddy’s attention and his allegiance. This is one of the ways I know we are staying in Pittsburgh forever (or until his employer decides otherwise). You, dear Oliver, are a little Yinzer in the very best sense of that word, and this is what parents do. We love what you love, sometimes just because you love it. I couldn’t make your dad a baseball fan. Only you could do that. Well done. High five. And thank you.

Your sister isn’t immune to your contagious love of baseball either. She told me this morning that her name is really “Eleanor McCutchen.”

Love,

Mum

Knuffle Bunny FREE (for you!)

PICT Birthday BashI’m sure all my Pittsburgh readers know about the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival. Five days of great theater and events get underway tomorrow and tickets are available on-line. You might not know the festival is 25 years old this year and they are celebrating with a Birthday Bash on Saturday, May 14. Yeah, that’s THIS SATURDAY! The party looks like a great time so click on those balloons and check it aht.

Another thing you might not know is that I’m nearly unable to manage my own calendar. (Oh, the irony!) I bought four tickets to Knuffle Bunny at the festival without remembering I have to work Saturday during the show. Oy. So I bought four more for Sunday. Here’s where YOU come in! I’m passing on the  tickets in a super-fast blog giveaway.

Here’s the scoop:

Leave a comment, get one entry. Tweet a link to this post with the #birthdaybash hashtag and get another entry. The random number generator will give me a winner early Thursday morning. Winner gets FOUR tickets to Knuffle Bunny for Saturday at 9:30am in the Alumni Hall Auditorium at Pitt. I will email the winner and expect a prompt reply to arrange transfer of the tickets. If I don’t hear back quickly, I’ll draw another winner. Knuffle Bunny is way too good  to waste!

Disclaimer:  There really is no disclaimer. I bought these tickets and later discovered I’m an idiot. The end.

Making It So

Toledo Scale

From GenBug on Flickr. Licensed through Creative Commons.

It’s not exactly what I had in mind with my recent Make It So post, but it has to be done. I signed up for Weight Watchers on-line program today. I weigh more today than I did the day I gave birth to either kid. It’s not pretty and I feel like absolute hell. It’s clear I’ve been eating my frustration so this is the first step.

The good news is the changes to the Weight Watchers program mean I can’t just slide into auto-pilot. It’s different enough that I need to pay attention to everything. I can’t guess how many points a food might be, and some of the foods I used to eat have different values now. This is a very good thing. It would be a lot easier to engage in self-sabotage if the program had stayed the same.

With Day One in the books, I like the changes. The iPhone app is a lot better, though Weight Watchers still does a lousy job of having restaurant food information, at least for the places I frequent. The information is out there on a variety of websites. It’s just a pain to have to search for it.

UPDATE: Yo, worm people!  Heidi and E Albert, you get the little bins! Email me (and I know both of you can find me pretty easily!) to make arrangements for delivery. Delora, I’ll bring some worms to you when I head to your fair city for some baseball later in the season. You get the book too!