Saturday, September 29, 2007

Car inspection time

When we lived in DC, the sheer mass of people who lived there and the fact that most of the city's car inspection stations were inoperable basically meant that no matter what, once you got in line at a station, you were there for 3 to 4 hours. I recall arriving at a line early one morning, an hour before the station was even open, and driving blocks past dozens of cars waiting in line and finally parking at the end, car number 68 or something.

I recall a flaky moment when I thought a break in the DC line (crossing a driveway) was the end, so I tried to pull into it. Mass honking! Several angry drivers who'd already been there who knows how long let me know that they weren't about to let me cut ahead of them. Yow!

Here I am in Virginia now, and while I started in a line with only 4 cars ahead of me, it's Virginia. Things are slower here. After an hour, I'm second in line.

Hopefully, I'll be getting home soon; we've got all kinds of things planned for the rest of the day!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ten Whole Years!

Today is the tenth anniversary of my wedding with AJS. Back in 1997, I had long, dyed red hair and had lost 20 lbs so's I'd look fabulously glamorous in my wedding fotos! Ten years later, many short hairstyles, and two kids later, my hair is long again and I have those 20 lbs back. (I'm okay with 10 of them.)

Less than a year after we were married, we bought our first house, in a "gentrifying" area of Washington DC. We loved our house, but it was pretty uncertain there at night; lots of drug-dealing, mugging, and break-ins went on. After dark, AJS would meet me at the Metro, rather than let me walk home alone. We made some really good friends in that neighborhood, many whom we still are in touch with today.

Our life back then centered around bars, clubs, restaurants and going out with our friends. We loved that we were walking distance to most of our favorite night spots, The Black Cat, Metro Cafe (which has been gone for YEARS, yet still has a website?), Polly's Cafe, Fox & Hounds, The Big Hunt, Townhouse Tavern, Velvet Lounge, 9:30 Club, Common Share, Lucky Bar, and later, Saint-Ex. For years, we religiously went to Mousetrap, a monthly DJ night at the Black Cat, because our friend Mark was the DJ, we knew our friends would be there, and best of all, AJS would dance with me. Before Mousetrap, AJS never danced, but when we were there, he'd be dragging me onto the dance floor! I love you, AJS, for always dancing with me at the Black Cat.

Our friends got together for a weekly "game night" that started in 1999 and went on for a year or more. Different people came and went, but there was a core group that was always there. After the weekly died out, Molly picked it up and made it monthly. A few of our friends were in bands (The Meat Joy, Squatweiler, Rose) that played local venues and we did our darndest to make every show. We always had lots of house parties and were invited to our friends' parties, so we felt busy, and loved. We went on a few vacations to the U.K. (photo in Dublin at left), New Orleans, Mackinaw Island in Michigan, and Phoenix (Tempe, AZ, really); I loved our early married life.

When we had Rosie in 2002, we were the first in our group of friends to have a child, or as Ed put it, "you're the first people I know that had a planned pregnancy!" Our life started to change. While I was pregnant, AJS became a regular at the Black Cat's Red Room. His nickname with Billy (the homeless doorman outside, "Change for the homeless, Black Cat, Black Cat") was Mr. Smooth, the bartenders would have his drink ready on the bar before he sat down. Not able to drink, I was rarely joining him.

After she was a few months old, Rosie was an easy baby to take to parties! We'd bring her along, everyone would coo over her, then she'd fall asleep in her car seat no matter how loud the party was. So, we'd just tuck her away in a bedroom and spend a few more hours out. She went to so many parties!!! For Mousetrap, we'd drop Rosie off at my parents' house, head into DC for some dancing, then bring her home. As she grew, our outings became more limited and mostly because AJS was paying attention to the housing market, he decided it was time to leave the city (our noisy, careless, renter-neighbors helped the decision). Pure genius, AJS!

Rosie celebrated her first birthday in our new house, Dash was born about two years later, and we've lived there for four years now. AJS set up our own bar in the basement, and we have a perfect house-party house, with an excellent deck out back. Our trips to bars, clubs, and restaurants are pretty infrequent these days, but we are staying entertained by the goofy antics of our kids and regularly visiting friends (especially Kelly O! BFF!) and family on the weekends. Just this past weekend, we had dinner parties on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm so glad I'm married to you, AJS! You are loving, caring, clever, creative, entertaining, and a wonderful husband and father.

We're hiiiii-diiing!!

Rosie loves our local library. We normally find at least 10 books every time we go and she'll want to read all of them at bedtime that night (and no, I rarely give in). Dash loves the new kids-only room, where there are soundproofed walls and he can whoop and shriek to his delight. The books are nice too, but when it's time to read, he prefers the standards from his own shelf.

There's something about the library that makes Rosie want to play hide-and-seek. As soon as we step in the main room and she sees the tall stacks of books with aisle after aisle, she just darts off, out of sight and it's all I can do to not scream after her. We're in a library, after all! I have to rein it in and hiss, "Rosie! Get baaccck here, NOW!"

AJS found them hiding together in a study carrel or something. Don't they look guilty? Dash is a giggly Rosie-accomplice. They were hiding from Dash-mommy and Bath-daddy (which is Dash's name for AJS)!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jazz Hands!

On a lark, I decided to enroll in a dance class at Rosie's ballet studio (they offer family discounts!). One class that caught my eye was an Adult and Teen Intermediate Jazz Dance course on Tuesday nights. I figure, I took several years of it in junior high to high school, it should come right back! I've been maintaining some of my skills taking step aerobics and dancing at clubs, right?

More than I counted on came back—I am in a class of high-school-aged teens, just like when I last left off. Sure, I have more muscle tone and a bit more coordination than most of these teeny teens, but I also have at least 35 pounds on every last (junior-size-3) one of them. Thankfully, the instructor and I are close to being a matched set (down to our shoe size), so I'm not entirely the odd woman out.

Boo was my silver lining, suggesting, "Well, at least you have a group of potential baby sitters!" Thanks, darlin'!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The spider

Dash is such a friendly little boy. He's been introducing me to his toys, his teachers, his classmates: "Hi ewybuuy! This Dash-mommy!" He loves to announce random things, too, like this one-way conversation he had with our parrot the other day: "Look, Weegee! I hav Spnng-Bob bannaid on finngr!"

This morning, Rosie was horrified to see a spider crawling on the carpet in Dash's room. AJS had shoes on, so he was called over to stomp it. Stomping a bug on carpet isn't all that effective, so it was quivering a bit, all mangled. Dash leaned over to look.

Then, he said,


"Hi 'pider! I'm Dash!!"


At least the spider's last few moments were filled with affection directed its way.

Monday, September 24, 2007

More "Ghostie" hijinks

Hi, it's Ghostie here again. You know how Rosie has those beautiful, long eyelashes? Well, I was kinda jealous of them and played a prank on her. I showed her where some scissors were and then told her about how my little sister used scissors to trim her eyelashes off. I even helped her find a mirror!

Ha, it was so funny. I told her that when my little sister did the same thing, I was telling my sister not to cut hers off, but she did it anyway. So, Rosie trimmed her eyelashes, too. What a trickster I am!

Rosie really got in trouble with her mommy. Rosie's mommy told her that if she found out that she did this again, cutting her hair, her brother's hair, her doll's hair—or anything else that wasn't paper—with scissors, that she was going to take all of Rosie's toys that were in the house and hide them away. Yeesh. I was only playing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My nite 4 dinner

Ms. Nylon was in charge of dinner tonight. I think I covered all the
food groups, what about you?

Milk
Almonds, roasted, salted
Fuji Apples, peeled, sliced
Popcorn, air popped, lightly buttered
Sugar cookies (from scratch)

This was my dinner, too, not just for kids! (Um, but with beer, not
milk. Yum!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on parenting powers

I was blogging about the imaginary extra antennae and limbs that we grow as parents tending our dear, unpredictable offspring a few weeks ago and came across references to the phenomena on other blogs (natural references, nothing to do with me):

From Julia at the artful flower,

"No, it's not dangerous for my child. If it was, I'd do something. Yes, I know where my kids are at all times. It's the MommyRadar. It snapped on at birth and I can't seem to turn it off, ever. Trust me, I've tried. I know what my kids are doing, what they are capable of and when to intervene. Just because your kid might fall off the ropes doesn't mean mine will. My kids are part monkey. I can't seem to turn it off. Trust me, I've tried."

From Annie at What Do I Know?

"I have an uber-sensitive mommy radar. My mommy radar is noise sensitive. I can be in the deepest of slumbers and the faintest sound that even slightly resembles the voice of my child can bring me to full alertness in .5 seconds."

From Crazy MomCat:

"I am overly attentive and watch my kids like a hawk even more so now than before. But, it is a hard way to go through your days, quite honestly...I need to find a way to turn my radar down, just a smidge so that I don't continue to feel depressed and scared about the world we live in."

(Note, CrazyMomCat's son ran off at the beach and was missing for an eternity 30 minutes before she found him. More here.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Waking up for ABCs!

For the last week or so, Dash has been waking up early (5 a.m. yesterday) and when I come in to check on him, he says to me in his little voice: "Go downstairs. Watch ABCs."

This DVD, by They Might Be Giants, is one of the few items that Rosie will actually listen to and act on. For example, if Dora says, GET UP AND REACH FOR THE ROPE! Rosie ignores Dora. If Steve asks Rosie to help look for a Blue's clue, nothing doing.

When the two Johns sing "Clap your hands!" and "Stomp your feet!" Rosie is not only clapping and stomping, she is singing along. Big score, for R to be anything but zombified in front of the tube.


Thanks and kudos, TMBG!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Career meme

Here's a meme I found on Molly & Kelly's blogs. What's amazing to me is that my first declared major in college was Industrial Design and that's what came up as my #1. Maybe I shouldn't have dropped it? My chosen career was down at #18, which isn't too bad, really. I have actually gained income from working in #s: 3, 7, 9-11, 16-20, 26-27, and 32. I would have loved a career as a medical illustrator, but my history of fainting at the sight of blood would have gotten in the way.

Instructions to the Career quiz at Careerbuilder.com:

a. Go to http://www.careercruising.com/.
b. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
c. Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.
d. Post the top-whatever results


1. Industrial Designer
2. Interior Designer
3. Website Designer
4. Fashion Designer
5. Cabinetmaker
6. Model Maker
7. Animator
8. Electronics Assembler
9. Sign Maker
10. Desktop Publisher
11. Cartoonist/Comic Illustrator
12. Office Machine Repairer
13. Costume Designer
14. Set Designer
15. Makeup Artist
16. Multimedia Developer
17. Exhibit Designer
18. Graphic Designer
19. Artist
20. Computer Animator
21. Musical Instrument Builder and Repairer
22. Bicycle Mechanic
23. Furniture Finisher
24. Potter
25. Boilermaker
26. Picture Framer
27. Craftsperson
28. Welder
29. Upholsterer
30. Tilesetter
31. Medical Illustrator
32. Jeweler
33. Cable Installer and Repairer
34. Carpenter
35. Electrician
36. Security Systems Technician
37. Autobody Repairer
38. Plumber
39. Gunsmith
40. Dental Lab Tech

SAVE THE SPINDLE!!

I just learned that this hilarious and attractive piece of pop art located in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, IL is planned to be demolished. What a damn shame!

The "Spindle," affectionately known by Chicagoland residents as the "Car Kabob" was created by artist Dustin Shuler in 1989. The site owner planned to bulldoze it to build a Walgreens, but a local activist group drew attention to the sculpture's plight. On Friday, July 27th, 2007, The Chicago Critical Mass rode to the Spindle in an effort to raise awareness surrounding the sculpture. Around 2,000 cyclists made the 14.8 mile trek from Daley Plaza in the Loop in support of the artwork.
According to Wikipedia, the mayor of Berwyn, IL has agreed to move the sculpture down the road, but this has not been confirmed.

Go here for more information about saving the Spindle.
Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

Rosie's Pre-K Class

Early this summer, I was walking around Rosie's Pre-K room, looking at all the art/craft projects on the walls, photos posted and little questionnaires with each kid's cute non-sequitor answers and I did not see Rosie's name on anything.

I asked her teacher, what's the deal? Is she even in this class?

Her answer made me angry. She told me that since they were a few months away from graduation for most of the kids, she was focusing on the older children who were moving on to Kindergarten. Since she had another year with Rosie, they weren't pressuring her to participate. This really pissed me off! I'm not paying any less than the other parents? Why should my child get less attention?

When I asked Rosie why she wasn't participating, she told me that she didn't feel like it. I tried to reinforce with her that that wasn't an option. She needed to join in on the group projects, draw, paint, and practice writing with the other children. I think she got it for a while.

Now, all the older children have moved on to public school a few weeks ago. Rosie is the oldest child in her class and should be getting the attention that she lacked before, right? This morning, I looked around her class, full of all the new children's artwork, questionnaires, and photos. Rosie is in the photos. However, she still doesn't have any projects up with her name on them or answers posted attributed to her.

I can imagine the teacher telling me this time that they are focusing on the younger children now because they need more training. And that Rosie is way ahead of them so they're not pressuring her to participate. I really need to find out what's going on, because I'm getting angrier and think that I will yell at the teacher if I start this conversation with her.

Today, I walked around the class and pointedly asked the teacher where Rosie's art was? Where are Rosie's projects? She only told me that they were around somewhere. Grrrrrrr.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Babywearing a 26-month-old

Dash is officially 30 pounds, confirmed by the doc's office on Monday. Yet, I am still carrying him in a sling. Why, you may ask? He's been walking since he was 9 months. And it must be hurting your back to carry all that weight?

Not to worry:

I wear him because he still gets tired and wants to be carried; without my sling (a Maya Wrap) to assist, my arm muscles would give out.

When he falls asleep in the car (like on Monday, while he was sick), I can easily transfer him from his car seat to the sling (in a hip-carry) without waking him. Once he's in the sling, asleep, I use the tail of the fabric to cover his head. If he's awake and tired, he'll tell me that he wants to "hide" under the fabric, which is a sure sign that he's going to fall asleep soon. I can also transfer him back to the car seat from the sling without waking.

The Maya only hurts my shoulder muscles (not my upper or lower back) after an hour or two, and even then, not a whole lot. I've been carrying him in the sling since he was an infant, so my muscles have been adapting as he's gotten bigger.

If I do have the stroller out and Rosie is also with us, she will want to sit in the stroller. It was once hers (and apparently still is), so I can understand her territorialism. We went on a hike recently and I had the stroller with us, expecting that Dash would ride and Rosie would walk. Luckily I had the sling with us, because given the speed of the group, Rosie had to ride and I carried Dash in the back-carry position with the Maya.

Dash also LOVES the sling! If he sees it lying around, he picks it up and brings it to me, saying, "Mommy ride! Mommy ride!" I love this enthusiasm and will snuggle up to him in the sling as long as he'll allow it.

And until my chiropractor tells me not to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

More deliciousness

I don't know how AJS did it (I'm sure he could tell you) but somehow he cooked chicken wings so wonderfully that they tasted like you were eating chicken that, instead of skin, had potato chips. But, there were no potatoes involved! Just careful grilling and only salt and pepper for seasoning. I ate waaaay too many of them (kind of like I do with potato chips). Good Eats!

Here are the pics:













Sunday Cookie Baking

While Dash was feverish all weekend (high of 105.5 degrees Saturday afternoon) we had to cancel all of our plans for our jam-packed weekend. I was really hoping that his fever (which started on Friday) would be over by at least Noon on Saturday so we could make it to Emma's birthday party, but nothing doing. Rosie was so disappointed. [Todd gets points for offering to pick her up and take her to the party; 2.75hr round-trip total. XOX, BFF!]

I made it up to her with cookies. And a visit from Auntie M. and Grandma including a walk to the playground. Dash came along, but was asleep as soon as we turned the corner at the end of the block & slept till we got back to the house. I'm sure he felt sort of robbed.

In this photo, she is saying, "Can we eat them now?"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Dash and Weegee are friends!

Dash was very happy to see Weegee when we came back from our trip! Weegee was being boarded by a neighbor while we were gone and had a happy visit; more one-on-one time with a work-at-home caregiver, more fun with lots of other birds. I'll bet coming home with us was a bit of a downer for him.

Hopefully, some on-the-head time with Dash made up for lack of socialization with our neighbor's flock. They're awfully cute together! We had friends over on Labor Day and Dash was very well-behaved interacting with Thea and Lila. He needs more fun!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Visible life alteration

Whaaa? Are those mountains shaped like mammaries? And they're erupting with.... ack!

Pregnancy and childbirth have made a huge impact on the work of these friends of mine.

Jeff and Ellen are couple that live and work in Boston as fine artists; they both went to college with me. As far as I've been keeping track of them, Jeff's work has been clever and funny, making homages to Japanese horror movies with animated vegetables, or poking fun at commercially packaged foods, while Ellen's has touched on explorations of many different subjects, many of them dealing with strangenesses in the world and bringing them into sharp focus, with humor.

Close to a year ago, they had a child; during Ellen's pregnancy, she was in awe of the bizarre transformations going on with her body, and these changes inspired her sculpture.

"Boob balls" and




"this little piggy goes to market" are other work that were focused on her impending motherhood.

Having gone through this experience twice myself, I completely understand the fascination with bodily changes, and applaud the Warmouth/Wetmores' hilarious and attractive pieces!

Monday, September 03, 2007

My life as a mutant.

Our beach vacation in Rehoboth was a great trip, really. The soft breezes, the warm air, the beautiful weather and gorgeous surroundings, getting outside and letting the kids really enjoy themselves: it was all worth it. It was just my second head, third eye and four extra arms getting in the way. Don't worry, they're all invisible, and as soon as my kids are grown enough for me not to need them, I'm sure I'll abandon them. I know I started to grow them the day I brought Rosie home from the hospital (listening for crying during the night and trying not to roll when co-sleeping) and as she and Dash have become increasingly mobile, my eye in the back of the head and extra arms have helped keep them out of trouble. I was even complimented by strangers in a restaurant for having well-behaved chlidren!

Even so, I work full-time and am not used to having my kids in my care all day for several days consecutively. My extra appendages became overworked. Out with two young kids in tow in an unfamiliar place, my guard rarely came down. While I slept, my invisible antennae tuned in to the kids' room, listening for the "whump" when one of them might fall out of their strange bed. I was constantly on the watch for a meltdown, trying to anticipate triggers and calming measures. Most of the time I stayed on high alert, repeating inane phrases in sing-song voice like, "what's that, sweetheart?" and "sure cutie, that sounds fine," and "wow, baby, look at you!" I was trying so, so, very hard to keep them from screaming and snapping at them myself.

One of the few things that helps a mutated human more than anything is being around other mutants. My other parent-friends! They all have two or three heads, octopus-like collections of arms, and antennae that would make a milliner envious! When we're together, the collective brain power in action is a panacea like no other. I can relax as our children play with each other and all the parents, together, can keep watch over the group with our fortified extrasensory-child-field. We each reach a limb out to grab an errant child, yell to keep another in line; no worries about whose child is grabbed or compensation for our care. We relax, laugh, have a few drinks and maybe even indulge our adult-selves for a while. Thank you, my dear friends!

I know this is a fleeting time. My friends without children are blissfully unaware of how much of a change I've been through; even people with older children easily forget what it was like. They say things like, "Oh god, that was so HARD! I don't know how I got through it!" at the same time, incredibly grateful that they only have one head now and no additional arms. An older relative offered to watch Rosie once, saying, "How hard could it be? Babies only eat and sleep." I knew all her mutant-ness was long-forgotten.

At the same time I am reveling in my superpowers, I find that they are impediments in other ways. Shopping? Forget it. Alienating certain friends and family? Oh, yeah. Nevertheless, these are hard-won mutations. I love my children and am grateful that I have developed the necessary power and energy to care for them. I'm exhausted and exhiliarated. I'm adored (kiss!)and reviled (swat!). One day, I'll hang up my supersuit and it will be a fuzzy memory along with the sweet, chubby, recklessness of the toddlers that forced me to don it. For now, my extra head, octopus arms and other appendages are with me to retrieve the toddler, leaping off the table, or the sprinting preschooler, half-a-block away. I'm saving the world, one child at a time.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

While in Rehoboth, we rode our bikes around the area. During peak season, parking is at a premium and it's really just easier to grab the bikes and move out than to have to search for parking spaces. Rehoboth is very bike and bike-rental friendly; they even rent trailers for kids as well as some interesting contraptions that are like bike/golf carts that ride six or more people (more if you have kids riding on the rack in front). We rented a 2nd trailer, since Rosie is too long-legged these days for mine. The Burley trailer converts to a double-stroller, which was great! You'll see Grandaddy Jim with his helmet on to the left.

In the north part of Rehoboth, there is Henlopen State Park, which has a bird sanctuary at Gordon's Pond with an observation deck for viewing different birds across a wetland. Strangely, I saw more interesting birds wading in a canal across from a "tot lot". In the pic below, you'll see a great blue heron, posing grandly for me. I only noticed after I got home that he is presiding over a log with about six turtles on it! (Were they going to be his lunch? We didn't stay to find out.)

The tot lot was a destination at least once daily for the kids; they got to run around, swing, and climb for a little while before getting tucked back into the trailer.

Rosie liked to run up to the top and scramble back down, while Dash was happy to run around and bang on the different playground materials.


We found plenty of great places to have lunch and dinner; breakfast was prepped by us at the beach house. A few restaurants I'd recommend as very tasty and kid-friendly were The Summer House, Go Fish! (oh so delicious!), Stoney Lonen, and Jake's Seafood. We made two trips each to Summer House and Stoney Lonen, and I would have loved to go to Go Fish! another time. When I go back, I'd like to try out a Japanese restaurant if possible; my current traveling companions aren't fond of it, so I'll have to be under different circumstances.
 
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