Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scandalizing the governor

After a long, sunny, sandy day on the beach, we dragged ourselves back to our beach house, which coincidentally, is right next door to the former governor of Delaware. Since we were all covered with sand (and gravel for me, wiped out 2X playing in the breakers), I took advantage of the outdoor shower to rinse off before going inside. Both kids were freaked out by the shower jets, but Dash started to calm down once I picked him up and rinsed him off while holding him. I handed him off to Auntie M. and then decided to take off my suit while I rinsed Rosie so I could carry her in and not waste time rinsing separately. Rosie screamed bloody murder. The entire time. I was just reaching for her towel when the governor peeked around to see what the commotion was (and he's quite deaf, so she was LOUD) and caught me and Rosie in the nude. Yeep! He only said, "one little girl is creating all that noise?" and quickly disappeared after assessing the situation.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Role reversal

Hello from the beach! I'm back in Rehoboth with the kids, my dad and sister (Auntie M.). Rosie didn't nap during the drive at all, so I got to hear a lot of "are we there yet? no. are we there yet? no." (thank you, Shrek 2) from the backseat. Rosie showed unusual interest in the beach itself along the way, which is strange because she normally avoids water, and when we finally hit the sand, actually had a fantastic time in the water! She was dragging us in, shrieking and jumping, yelling, again! again! more! She really was disappointed when it was time to go.

Dash, who is normally my water-lover, screamed no mommy no! from the instant he set eyes on his swim trunks (on the beach, yes I changed my son in front of all the beachgoers; is that a faux pas?). He made the sandcastles today and didn't set foot in the ocean. Wierd, but I guess it's all developmental stages. He was upset when we left, too, but more because he wanted to continue amassing seashells for his new collection.

I'll be here all week! I'm sending from my phone (a Sidekick).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Yet another casualty of tax hikes: Franz Bader Books

AJS has been keeping me apprised of skyrocketing property assessments for businesses across DC, telling me about how the owners of The Black Cat are wondering how they are going to stay in business and is very concerned about how any small or start-up business is going to survive. One of our favorite long-time restaurants, AV Ristorante Italiano, closed its doors in July (but was bought out, a related exception). Will all the eclectic, fun, and colorful places we love around DC fold and be replaced by Globalized, soul-less chains?

This hit home for me today in a different way today. I was referring a co-worker with a high-school-aged son (who has an artistic bent, but needs some guidance) to Franz Bader Books, a wonderful, small, art-and-design bookstore (est. 1963) that's close to GWU's campus downtown. While searching for the street address, I found Jerry Lebo's blog and learned that it's CLOSING. This year. Within months.

If this is so widespread, what will DC look like in a few years? Will we even recognise it?

Here's a link from DCist.com that tells you how AJS really feels.

I'm blaming the Froot Loops

The kids were stalling at bedtime until 9:45 p.m.! (completely unheard of!) and still seemed to have plenty of energy. I think it was the SUGAR from the treat I gave them for dessert:


The stalling cascaded into other delays for me: the kids and I are leaving on a trip early Saturday morning, so I want to have all the packing done by Friday night.

After I finished the dishes, it was 10:30. When I finished (most of) the laundry for the trip, it was after midnight. I set a load of whites to wash on hot, and went to bed.

Then, Dash woke up: he couldn't find his water cup (it was under his stuffed owl). Then he woke up again: he wanted milk. Then he woke up again: he wanted more milk. It occurred to me after the third time that maaaaaybe it was something else. His bedroom is right over the laundry room, so I asked him if the washer and the water pipes were too noisy.

"Djeeaah!" was the affirmative. Off went the washing machine, and me to bed at, I don't know? 1:30 a.m.? 2? I got up at 5:45 for work.

The previous three nights I've been up till midnight trying to finish a newsletter before our trip and I was really hoping to get some sleep last night. Here's my plea to the universe: please let me get some solid sleep tonight so I can be completely awake for the 3-hour drive to Delaware tomorrow!!!

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I still say the Froot Loops started it. Or maybe my logic is impaired by sleep deprivation?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

They're both going to tower above me!

I just did the numbers on Babycenter.com's child height predictor, and based on Rosie's 4-year and Dash's 2-year checkups, their heights at age 18 will be:

Rosie: 5' 4"

Dash: 6' 0"

I'm just slightly under 5' 2". It's hard to imagine my little man at 6 feet, but I look forward to watching it happen.

My dad, as a dormitory prankster

This is one of my favorite stories that my dad told me about his college life.

While he was an engineering undergrad student, Jim lived in a dorm at UCONN. Back in the 60s, dorm living was pretty bare bones, with linoleum floors (not like the posh carpet I had) and metal radiators for heat. Jim's dorm was housed with a diverse group of students, like at most universities, and he happened to be across the hall from a room full of football players.

He preferred do his studying in his dorm room and over the course of the year found a very entertaining way to take a study break. From the back of his room, he would carefully aim a coin and launch it at just the right angle and with just the amount of force to skitter-skitter-skitter across his floor, into the hallway, through the football players' room, and then strike with a satisfying


on their radiator.

Well, then there'd be rumbling and stomping while all the bulky athletes got to their feet and rushed to their door, to burst out in the hallway, yelling and swearing! And finding: an empty hall.

They'd run up and down the halls looking for the prankster and eventually settle down and go back to the room, grumbling.

Jim repeated this regularly throughout the year and had the jocks so tightly wound that they were ready to beat the coin-shooter to a pulp! They launched themselves out of their room at high speed, faster each time, made more ferocious noises, and ran further down the halls.

They never did figure out that it was the very slightly built, 5'9" engineering student from across the hall. ;-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mmmm, lunch...

Two-thirds of my delightful lunch today came from my backyard! It was a tomato (yes), basil (yes), and mozzarella (no, we don't have a dairy) salad that AJS lovingly prepared for me. He even went out in the rain this morning to clip basil for the salad. What a trooper; he must love me.

[<--not an actual photo of MY lunch, but an awfully close approximation]

It was delightful! I think he added a bit of olive oil and cracked pepper.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Open letter to a (particular) dog owner

There is a reason that the National Park Service has a posted rule:


No matter how precious, friendly, darling, and good-with-kids your man's-best-friend is, keep him on a freaking leash when you're in a public area. You have no idea how your dog will react in every situation, or how long your "friendly" puppy that you let run ahead out of sight is going to keep another family with kids at bay growling, snapping-teeth, and lunging, while you are lollygagging behind, chatting with your girlfriend (long enough for a family to corral both kids on top of the stroller and make several attempts to scream "GO AWAY" to the idiot-freak dog who wouldn't leave).

The proper response when said family informs you of NPS policy, not to mention Fairfax County Law, is not,

"I'll raise my dog, you raise your kids!" and
"Mind your own damned business!"

People like you, with complete disregard for others' safety, shouldn't be allowed to raise dogs. Besides this, you were in a WATERFOWL PRESERVE! WTF were you thinking? With an unleashed dog! What if your dog killed an endangered waterfowl species? Moron!

LEASH YOUR DOG ALREADY!!! bitch. I'm bringing my mace next time.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


AJS was on it this past Wednesday! The office picnic was a grand success! Rather than 150 or 170 people that were expected, the actual count was closer to 220, and to AJS's credit, there was just enough food for all. Between 11 a.m. and Noon anyway. Anyone who showed up after Noon was SOL.

Dash liked the watermelon best.

Here's what he documented that got him there:
Our three (3) smokers

1 of 4 briskets

25 pounds of chicken wings

1 of 6 racks o' ribs

2 of 8 pork shoulders

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is this a good thing?

At a daycare meeting yesterday, I learned, kind of offhand, that after the current class of Preschool children graduates (within the next two weeks) that Rosie will be the oldest child in her Center.

She has a November birthday and didn't make the Fairfax County cutoff for public school this year, so will have to wait until she's practically six before entering Kindergarten. I knew this, but was rather taken aback that the handful of kids with Sept through early Nov birthdays (who also didn't make the cutoff) were getting taken out of the Center. Not only this, but children younger than her by a month or two were entering other programs as well! There are only two other children from her current class that are continuing with her.

Does this seem odd? I really believe strongly that her Center is high quality and that their Kindergarten-prep program is top-notch. However, she has been in the K-prep program for the past year and will be taught by the same teachers in the same room for the next 12 months as well.

I did investigate moving her to a preschool program at a private school or a Montessori program, but I just couldn't swallow this issue: the programs were only 9 a.m. to Noon (or occassionally 9 a.m. to 3) and cost the same amount as our 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. childcare center.

The only benefit I could see was the variety in location and curriculum. Drawbacks include that I would be inconvenienced by the hours (which I know are typical of public school but I'd rather not deal with it if I don't have to) and potentially would have to pay MORE for before and aftercare. And, Dash is still in the same Center, so we'd have to make separate drop-offs.


One other issue, and I hope this is just a phase she's going through, is that in the past few weeks, Rosie has been telling us that "school is BORING." and, "do I have to go back to boring old school today?" We're trying to encourage her to go and find something else that's interesting to do if she's bored. (You know, you do make your own reality!)

Would she have benefitted from a change? I guess we'll never know. I made the decision, enrollment is over, and will be sticking with it until next September.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"I'm on the train, where are you?"

Since I've obviously been boring everyone to death with stuff that's only interesting to me, here's something that pisses off just about everybody: rude, dangerous bastards on their cell phones.

Hey, he's driving 20MPH under the speed limit, what's his problem?
Oh, he's on his cell phone.

Yikes, she just swerved out into oncoming traffic while looking the wrong direction!!
Oh, she was texting on her blackberry.

What's the problem?: Check out CNN's article, Where are your high-tech manners? Sheesh, I don't know, I'm supposed to be polite AND answer my call? Whoa, I can't multi-task like that.

A lot of the rudeness is laughable. Remember the guy at the movie theater who answered his phone during the film, "Hey dude!...Nothin', just watching a movie." ?!? Was he aware of what an idiot he sounded like? Apparently not, according to Lew Friedland, a communications professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison. These actions are the new norm.

"People act as if they're walking through life in a cone of silence in which only they and the other person on the end of the line can hear them," he says. "They can talk quite loudly, and they can talk about things that people around them don't really want to hear about."

On lifehacker.com, Adam Pash posts a link to InfoWorld's Ten Commandments of cell phone etiquette written by Dan Briody in 2000 (that's 7 years ago, and it's still as apropo as ever). I am seriously thinking about printing this out and surreptitiously sliding it into the bag/briefcase of offenders on the Metro. Not really. But I do wish people would read it and try not to be jerks.

I am totally for the "quiet cars" on trains and banning cell phone usage while you're purchasing at a register. The message that you're giving everyone around you is that the not-present, cyber-person on your device, is much, much more important than the living, breathing, actually there, annoyed, irritated human beings that are right next to you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More on how odd the universe is...

We met our friends Tif and Nick through Kelly, but it was a few years before we put together the quirky connections. I caught right away that their wedding anniversary was within 2 months of ours (it'll be ten years for them this year, too!) but, it wasn't till much later that AJS and Nick realized that not only did they both go to University of Maryland at the same time, they had back-to-back shifts at the college radio station. AJS had even told me stories about the anonymous guy with the shift before his: he called the genre "grind-core" and recalled that the play list announcements went something like (in a low voice), "that was Faust, playing Faust, from his first album, Faust." And we were friends with that guy and didn't know it! It was like meeting the subject of a novel. Here's a photo of Don holding Nick and Tif's daughter Izzie:

More recently, another unexpected connection was with Susan and Don. Kelly had gone to grad school with Sue and they both worked together after college. I met them about 3 years ago, but it wasn't until about six months after that I realized that I knew Don. At a party (at Tif and Nick's, coincidentally), Sue was wistfully hoping out loud that she wanted their daughter Lila's hair to look like Don's. (Lila is on the far right in the photo with Thea and Emma.) My initial thought was, what's special about Don's hair? and in a flash, I remembered a Don I knew in art school who had fabulously beautiful, long, wavy, strawberry-blond hair. We both volunteered as monitors in the art school computer lab and I'd had a bit of a crush on him. After a couple pointed questions, "are you from the Midwest?" and "did you go to University of Michigan?" I discovered that he was the same person. Wierd, huh?

Kelly and Todd, Sue and Don, Tif and Nick, and AJS and I all have an older girl and a younger boy (Tif and Nick are expecting a boy, imminently).

Coincidence? Um, yeah! What were you thinking?

Helvetica turns 50

Max Miedinger.

Eduard Hoffmann.

Rock stars they are not. Nevertheless, in 1957 these Swiss typeface designers created a sans-serif that shaped our world. In high school, I used press-on type sheets labeled "Helvetica" (and thought, WTF does that mean?) for random projects. In my Advanced Typography college courses, we were given multiple heirarchy-building projects that used every weight and nuance of Helvetica imaginable. Helvetica got me my first design job.

And now there's a movie about it!

Even so, it's not my favorite typeface. Most electronic versions of it, especially on PCs, have awful kerning and spacing issues, like the programmer just didn't feel the love. I am still all about giving the props to the designers! However we butcher Helvetica 50 years later is not their fault.

AJS' monkey-shirt update!

All I have left to work are the buttons!!!

My super-kind neighbor, Gretchen (who has given Rosie many a lovely girlie hand-me-down garment, most recently: rollerblades!) helped me after I asked her several ignorant questions in a row about what "interfacing" was. She insisted on coming back with me to my house, setting up the Singer (it was in the storage closet, same place it had been since we moved in 2003), and giving me the 101 on building a shirt.

This is going to be the most bad-ass chimpanzee-Aloha-shirt EVER!

Monday, August 13, 2007

You git out mah hous!

Since I wrangled AJS into barbecuing for a large picnic this Wednesday (170 people), he insisted that cooking would commence on Friday and continue through Sunday. I stayed out of his way. The kitchen and backyard were HIS DOMAIN. He smoked 8 pork shoulders, 4 briskets, 6 racks of ribs, and 25 lbs of chicken wings (that's hella lot o'food). So, the winkies and I took off at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and didn't come home until bedtime!

Saturday morning, we were well met by the Os at a park in Greenbelt, had much fun throwing rocks into a streamlet (Yay! More ROCKS!) and stayed over for lunch. Thanx for cooking, Kelly! Mwah! The kids entertained themselves surprisingly well until we were leaving, on our way to the car and Dash somehow managed to turn a garden hose full blast while it was aimed at Thea's face. Yikes! He gave her a hug, but it looked like it would be a while before she was getting over that one. From there, the kids crashed out on the drive from College Park to Mount Vernon where I dropped them with my parents and Auntie M. I left and flew solo to the house to whirlwind-clean for a Sunday visitor (the boss). Three hours later, I buzzed back at my parents' with Indian carryout in tow! We had a fabulous meal and whiled away the time until 7:30 or so and then went home to bed.

Sunday, we rose early and left for a walk around Roosevelt Island with a mom's group I joined recently. I tried to enlist Auntie M. into the walk, but she bowed out about an hour before we were to meet. With 40 lbs of Rosie in the stroller and 29 lbs of Dash in our Maya Wrap on my back, the three of the Strings traversed the 1.6 miles of trail. Without a jogging stroller, we fought our way over errant tree roots, large rocks and erosion barriers. Rosie was riding in a standard stroller because I quickly discovered that this was an Exercise Walk, not a stroll, with other moms decked out in running shoes and workout clothes (I was wearing jeans and rubber-soled mary-janes); Rosie would have quickly been left behind. On our way home, anticipating my need to collapse, we stopped by the video store, picked up 4 movies (Mulan 2, some Thomas movie, a Barbie-Mattel placement feature, and Clifford) the Barbie one stank, but anyone could have told me that it would. We were all exhausted (read: me) and just skulked around the basement until our visitor arrived.

My boss, who was arranging the picnic (with 170 people) wanted to get a tasting of the food that AJS was cooking, so popped over (1 hour drive) to hang out for a bit and got to try some brisket. I brought Weegee out for entertainment value and he did a few bird tricks. He's gotta get out more often, poor little guy. He really enjoyed getting some one-on-one time with me. The boss-guy seemed more than satisfied with the tasting and after a while caught on to how tired we all were and was on his way.

Another highlight: I am getting much closer to finishing that monkey shirt for AJS! I hope to have it done by Wednesday so he can wear it to the picnic. If he wants to, of course.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I'm incredibly proud

On Tuesday, my mom, my sister and I were three of the many (200+?) people applauding at the ceremony where my dad received a lifetime acheivement award. Seriously! He was honored during an annual peer program review with international attendance for the Department of Energy's Superconductivity Program. It's just amazingly gratifying that his colleagues of so many years are acknowledging the wonderful advances that he's made for the program and are thanking him for his hard work along the way. There's more information about my dad and this award here.

Dad, I know you read my blog. Congratulations!!! You have done amazing things with your career and your life. I am glad that I was able to participate in many of them and learn from you. I love you and I am proud to be your daughter.

I hope you are enjoying your retirement!

Dash's first dentist visit!

Dash and I went to Dr. Reardon's office for his very first dental checkup ever. He's getting so big! And has 8 teeth! Dash spent the appointment serenely sitting in the dental exam chair, Buddha-like, but with complete disregard for the hygeinist's cajoling.

Hygeinist: "Dash, my name is Paige! Can we see how many teeth you have?" No reaction.

Me: "Check-mouth, sweetie! C'mon, we practiced this all last night. You know what to do!" No reaction, no anger, no worries, just staring past me.

At the construction crew working across the street, we learned. I asked, "Buddy, whatever are you looking at?" "Two men," Dash deadpanned.

Thinking ahead, I had brought props! I had Dora's and Michael's (little people) "visit to the dentist" books, I had a chopstick (our home-verision of the dental explorer), and I had his doll, Boo, from Monsters Inc.

When Boo arose with one hand outstreched and said (in my best approximation of Mary Gibbs' voice), "Dash, lemme see your teeth!" Dash opened right up! He let Boo count his teeth, but still, no cleaning allowed.

Dr. Reardon arrived with a pillow and we lowered Dash back onto it, so she could try to get better results in the exam. He did very well with this part and no cavities were discovered. Whew! His next appointment is scheduled for January.

On the way out, I played that Boo was thrilled for Dash. She said a line from Monsters Inc, "Dabba-da! Kitty!" and like the "Breakin' the Law" with AJS, I got the "More dabba-da, Mommee!" treatment.

You got it, cutie. "Dabba-da!"

Breaking the law!

AJS was trying to drive around some gridlockers on the way home and punched it up to about 35 MPH over the speed limit. Rosie said "That was fun! I like to go fast!" I replied, "Fast IS fun, but unfortunately, it's against the LAW." Not to mention all the awful civil penalties that Virgina citizens are facing.

AJS couldn't resist barking "Breakin' the Law! Breakin' the law!" beavis-and-butthead style, which made both kids giggle like crazy. AJS repeated it, and they giggled even more.

Then we hear, "More ba-kin-laa, Dadee! More ba-kin-laa!" all the way home. Repeat until insane. Good parenting? Um, no comment here.

"Breakin' the Law!"

Monday, August 06, 2007


Before Rosie was born, I indulged in some nesting instincts and bought sewing patterns for baby clothes, along with pretty fabrics, notions, ribbons, pastel colored thread, the works. I don't know what I was thinking, because, while the idea of sewing is attractive to me, I don't sew. Ultimately, the only thing I managed to create for Rosie was a rectangle of fleece where I "sewed" on a satin edging using the zig-zag stitch on my machine. Woo! I rock! I am seriously so proud of that blanket. It was made by me! Heirloom-quality stuff. ;-D

Anyway, on that same shopping trip, I saw some fabric unlike any other (even storekeepers in Hawaii thought I was nuts when I asked for shirts with monkeys): here it was, a Hawaiian shirt pattern with CHIMPANZEES. Perfect for AJS! He loves monkeys (he's monkeyrotica, duh), and he be wearin him some Hawaiian shirts all weekendz long, so putting the two together would be a treasure! But, like I said, I don't sew. I got as far as pinning on the patterns and cutting out the fabric, but then got stumped when confronted with step 1, building the left breast pocket. The ironing, the inscrutable Singer, all of it just resulted in me backing away slowly.

This evening, after repairing a strap on one of Rosie's dresses, I decided to go looking for the monkey-shirt-scraps and found them! 5 years later, I have sewn on a pocket. By hand, no ironing, because that's the kind of gal I am. Why bring out large electrical equipment requiring outlets and surfaces, when I can collapse into the couch and listen to TV while stitching? And when it is done, I have no doubt that AJS will wear this shirt with pride, F'ed-up wobbly, hand-stiched seams and all.

I might drag out the Singer if I want to finish it within the next 5 years, but I really need somebody to show me how to use it. I lost the manual, to make things worse. Any takers?

BTW, I never did a thing with the baby clothes patterns. They were cherished and adored in concept only. That was enough.


I'm having one of those mornings when everything makes me angry. My coworkers must sense this, so they're steering clear of me. I am seething with anger that they haven't greeted me with a "hello" or have made attempts to chat with me.

But I'm the one with the headphones on, ignoring them.

My headphones are on because someone was using their speakerphone early this morning and this enraged me.

Nobody's winning here. Hopefully I'll break out of this after lunch or at least by tomorrow.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Past weirdnesses

Andrea commented on my weirdness blog entry from a few days ago and reminded me of the odd way in which we met. It was maybe 1996 or 1997, soon after AJS and I had moved from Capitol Hill to Mount Pleasant, when our friend Mel told us we should really meet the fabulous person who'd moved into our old apartment! She was so interesting and had the cutest dog, named Zeke!

We met at Polly's Cafe on U Street and had a great conversation, when I found out that she worked for the Smithsonian. Which part, I asked? NMAI, she answered. Oh, I said, NMAI just moved into the office space that I used to work in. Where's your office?

In the spirit of weirdness, if you haven't guessed already, of course she was working in my old office as well as living in my old apartment. A year or two later, we bought a house a few blocks from Polly's. At the housewarming, the delightful and always entertaining Andrea looked around a bit, then quipped, "I think I'll like it here!"

At that same party, I'd invited a few of some new friends that I'd made recently, including Kelly and her sister Heather. Kelly discovered that she and Andrea had both gone to the same University in Phoenix, and the connections continued...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Summer viruses

Dash was fevered all weekend, into Monday. I stayed with him and took him to the doctor Monday afternoon when he was diagnosed with coxsackie virus. The doctor assured me that Rosie would have antibodies for coxsackie (she's had it a couple of times), and so wouldn't catch it. AJS stayed home with Dash Tuesday and everybody was okay Wednesday.

When I got Rosie up this morning, she was very warm: 101.8 degrees. But, I had committed to baking muffins for a bake sale at work, so I brought them both in to my office. She's here with me right now, eating bake sale cookies! Anyway, she probably has a different, related virus, but not coxsackie.
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