Monday, December 22, 2008

Joy Vey

Christmukkah was a total success. First of all, Hillary made some excellent appetizers -- grilled sandwiches with brie and apples and walnuts in them and these wonderful things calls "bratzels" -- hot pretzels with swiss cheese melted on them and bratwurst on top of that. (German sausages are generally a HUGE part of all Jewish holiday celebrations, for those not in the know.)

The highlight of the evening, of course, was the gift exchange competition:

Team Berman provided the following:
-gift bag with the word "Joy" printed on it
-Elvis rear-view mirror hanger (complete with swivel hips)
-Children's book titled "To Bethlehem We Go"
-Cranberries CD "The Faithful Departed"
-angel figurine

Team Canedo provided the following:
-bottle of Bell's winter white ale
-bottle of Yoo Hoo chocolate drink
-CD single of John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland"
-birthday candles
-Grands buttermilk biscuits

Can you guess the holiday carol that either of these gift assortments represent?

Team Berman came closest to the pre-determined spending limit ($20) without going over (they were at $19.52; our total was $19.45); they also provided more "gift-y" components in their assortment of clues and had a clever play on words in their gifts, whereas the Canedos were much more literal. Team Canedo guessed their holiday carol, however, and Team Berman was not able to guess theirs; also, Team Canedo did a much artsier presentation of their song lyrics. So who is the overall winner? No one cares -- we're too busy thinking about our entries in the Peeps diorama contest next spring.

Team Berman also gave Avery an adorable stuffed Rudolf that plays "Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer" when you squeeze its hoof. Avery loves it more than she has ever loved any toy, as was evidenced by the 915 times we had to hear the song on the way home from Bethesda.

Bermans -- clogging your toilet and Avery doing a Hong Kong Phooey over Sammy's head with the inflatable guitar aside...we had a great time and truly appreciate your hospitality. Viva Christmukkah!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Details.


(NOTE: When you ask your "friend" to photoshop a picture of you onto Kate Winslet's body it's probably a good idea to specify which photo she should use.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cornhole Nation

Conscientious readers Dilettante and Dilettard have just discovered what may be the greatest Wii game, ever:

"Bags" -- which is Wii's answer to "Cornhole"

How is it possible that I am such a Johnny-come-lately to any game with such a dirty-sounding name?

Some scatologist I am.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Tis The Season To Bully Little Ki-ids, Fa La La La La La La La La

Subtitle: Well, she started it.

There are lots of adorable children in Avery's classroom. And one royal brat. There's always one. The one who gets in everyone else's face and the one who tells other little girls that they cannot play doll house unless they, too, have a ponytail. She's a big kid and rough and mean. A royal brat (have I mentioned that?).

This morning, when I dropped Avery off, the kid got in Avery's face. Right in her face...for no reason other than to annoy her. I said, "Stop doing that." Ten seconds later, she was doing it again. I said, "I said stop doing that!"

I then went to put a few things in Avery's cubby, turned back around and the kid had Avery in some kind of bear-hug-against-her-will and was pressing her face into Avery's again. So, I got right in her face and said through clenched teeth, "Listen...I told you to stop it and you BETTER stop it now," and gave her the meanest look I have that goes something like this:


She then ran crying to the teacher.

Christmas really seems to bring out the best in me. This reminds me of a Christmas past when I also got into the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'll Probably Blow The Whole Illusion By Referring To Them As "Crescents"

A couple of years ago, I remember Oprah Winfrey (because the last name is necessary) saying that she ordered croissants from Williams Sonoma to have on Christmas morning. This was after she had "defeated fat" and was allowing herself carbs only one day a year and thus chose this particular way in which to indulge.

I've been intrigued since then. I may not be able to afford the $50 million house in Montecito (this year), but in some small way I could feel as rich as the richest woman on the planet, if only through the magic of mail-order frozen pastry.

So, this year, I went ahead and splurged. I ordered some chocolate croissants from Williams Sonoma so that Canetto and Avery and I can have them Christmas morning (with coffee and mimosas...I'm already drooling).

We received them a few days ago (packaged in dry ice so they stayed frozen and weighing a ton...I'm hoping it's all the butter), ironically arriving on the same day that Oprah announced she's fat again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Like The World Is Out To Annoy Me

With words like "goblet". Gross.

I'm Drinking As I Write This...

There was a kid at Avery's school who was a very sweet kid (at heart), but he had a bit of a biting problem. (Sadly, a couple of months before this whole Twilight craze or this whole situation could have turned out differently...)

He had been written up numerous times and spent a lot of time in the office. But, it was never a real issue until he bit one kid in the face and it broke the skin and caused the kid's parents to threaten to sue the school if Biter was not suspended permanently from the school. (Trust me when I tell you that this is an excellent school and this was HIGH DRAMA for this place...nothing more than a scraped knee ever happens there.)

Biter's mom has another kid at the school, so although Biter had to move schools, the other kid still goes to Avery's school and I still see his mom and dad during drop-offs and pick-ups occasionally.

Such as this afternoon. Biter's mom was logging out on the computer in the lobby, so Avery and I were behind her in line waiting our turn to log out, too. Just then, Avery realized this was Biter's mom and said (pretty much as loud as she possibly could), "Mommy -- why does "Biter" (she used his real name) bite everyone?"

Fortunately, Biter's mom is a good sport and laughed about it and told me the Biter missed his friends here. Secretly, though, she was probably thinking, "bite me."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Johnny Pecker

Every so often, Avery will sing a song or mention a story that she has learned at school. She has a great memory and can recite things she's heard only a couple of times.

One character that she continues to mention is named "Johnny Pecker" (and yes, I, too, thought this was an odd choice of names for a children's character, but then figured it might be a chicken or something...)

When I asked her about "Johnny Pecker" she told me that it is in a book she reads at school. I did a google search on this (this has worked in the past to help me identify books she has mentioned) and came up with a couple of XX rated sites. I'm not kidding about that.

So, when I picked her up from school a couple of days ago, I said, "show me the book about Johnny Pecker." She walked over to the book shelf, looked at a few books, then pulled out a book about an ant. I leafed through the book and it was all about an ant named Bart going to work. There were no other characters in the book. I said to her, "this is not about Johnny Pecker...where is the Johnny Pecker book?" and she kept insisting the ant book WAS the Johnny Pecker book. I keep insisting that it was not. Finally, she took the book from me and pointed to the cover.

The author of the ant book? Bonny Becker.

Lessons here:

1) Never doubt her. Never. I've learned this lesson repeatedly.
2) Don't look up "Johnny Pecker" from the work computer.
3) Be thankful that I did not ask her teachers who "Johnny Pecker" was.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dude. Totally.

I totally love the song "If I were a boy" by Beyonce and R. Kelly. And not just because we almost named Avery "Beyonce"...

Monday, December 08, 2008

(Off-Color Headline Removed)

On Sunday morning, we drove down to the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City to see what was marketed as a "life-sized gingerbread house", featuring eight foot walls and more than 200 pounds of candy. (Since our little one has assembled gingerbread houses for the past two years and is just fascinated by them, we figured this would be a must-see.)

Let's just say that whoever promoted this thing is an LLPOF*

This was a creativity-lacking, over-marketed, gigantic piece of crap (not unlike Britney Spears' music career). It was not free-standing, as we had expected...just sort of a broom closet with the walls covered in gingerbread rectangles. In the center of each rectangle, someone had stuck on a piece of candy with frosting. (And by the way -- I would estimate that maybe, MAYBE five pounds of candy was used -- nowhere near 200 pounds.)

Thanks for ruining Christmas, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City.

-----------------------------

*LLPOF = Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Music To My Ears

Because I am such a philanthropist (read: I donated a clarinet that had been sitting in my closet for about 30 years to GMU's Instruments in the Attic program), Tim and I received tickets to the GMU Christmas Concert last night at the Performing Arts Center on campus.

We were also invited to a reception beforehand, which was also attended by University President Alan Merten and his wife. From there, we walked over to the Performing Arts Center for the concert.

This is the first year for Instruments in the Attic. I was one of about 35 people who have donated since it began (in September). So, I got my name in the program, and then the program sponsor gave a nice speech on stage and asked for those of us who donated and were here tonight to please stand up -- and then gave our names (only 5 of us went to the concert). So in the sold-out concert hall, I got to stand up and be recognized personally.

The attention-seeker in me found this to be pretty great.

And it really is a great program...every music major at GMU has to be proficient in 16 (not a typo) different instruments in order to receive his or her degree. Of course, this means they have to rent instruments or find ways to purchase them in order to practice, which can get prohibitively expensive for a student.

If you have any instruments you're not using and want to help a college kid (especially since so many GMU Music Majors go on to teach music in DC-area schools), this is a great way to do it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Yawk

So I'm getting grief from my partner in crime (ahem...Dori) for not posting about my recent trip to NYC. I get intimidated writing about this stuff because I'm afraid that I will not do it justice -- it is so much easier to write about minutiae.

In list format for some reason, here goes:

- drive on Friday afternoon took only 4.5 hours door to door. Arrived with worst sore throat of my life. Dori, being a certified aromatherapist and herbalist got me stoned and I soon forgot about the pain. (ha ha -- that's not what herbalist means, you silly people). She gave me throat soothing tea and essential oils to rub on my neck. Then she made me a great dinner and then we read through the "crazy letter file" that I had saved from back in the time that I worked for the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM. For having to change plans completely due to mah durn sickness, it was actually a really fun night.

- woke up feeling fantastic on Saturday. We took the train into Manhattan and met John and Mer at Bubby's in Tribeca for brunch. A little kid ('bout Avery's age) walked by the booth in which we were sitting. I glanced at him, then looked up at his dad and was like, "holy crap -- that's Jon Stewart" (not out loud...I'm not that ridiculous). He and his wife and two kiddos came in to eat. Dori had just mentioned that she was going to be his second wife, so it was a coincidence (or was it, homewrecker?) that he was there. We pondered the idea of walking over to his table and asking if we could possibly get a picture and if he said yes, handing the camera to him to take OUR picture. C'mon -- you know he would have found that funny. As it was, we decided that he would probably rather just have a nice brunch with his family.

- from there we walked over to Tribeca Cinemas for the Big Apple Film Festival. My friend, Meredith, was starring in one of the fims being screened, so we got to meet the writer/director/other actors. Plus, Tribeca Cinemas is just such a cool urban space. Not that we were biased, but Mer's film was easily the best of the six or eight films that we watched.

- Mer and John went home after that, because Mer was leaving for California the next morning and had to pack. Dori and I headed out for drinks in the West Village. We went for cocktails at The Blind Tiger and The Slaughtered Lamb (we hate all animals, apparently) and then had to find Taco San Loco (long story).

- Back to Bubby's so Dori could try their pie (she's a connoisseur -- all 115 pounds of her). Bubby's got high marks on their pie.

- Met back up with Mer and John at Tribeca Cinemas for a big closing night party. Lasted all of about an hour and then headed back to Summit. (Which, by the way, is one of the most charming little towns, ever.)

- Sunday morning, Dori and I drove back into Manhattan to meet her friend, Jessica, for brunch at the Blue Ribbon Bakery. Brunch was fantastic and Jessica is hilarious. I loved her within about three seconds of meeting her (the first two seconds were touch and go). She's a poet who is published in some great poetry magazines (not surprisingly, I'm nowhere near smart enough to know the names of these publications), and she had an excellent story about a tofurkey. 'Nuff said, really.

Headed home after that. Made it in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Really a nice and easy drive. There is absolutely no excuse for why I don't make this trip more often.

She Can Invite Friends Over To Play With Those And Her Collection Of Glass Shards

Avery wrote and decorated her first letter to Santa a couple of nights ago. That explains why every centimeter of our house is covered in glitter.

Sweetly (or strategically), she begins the letter by telling Santa everything that she is going to get for him (pretzels, cookies), before asking for what she wants (such as "more knives"). Honestly...she said that when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas..."a big bag of M&Ms and more knives."

(scratches head)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Poop.

In addition to this work week making my head feel like it will 'splode, (every.single.project.has.deadlines.at.the.exact.same.time.and. some.people.seem.to.have.no.sense.of.urgency), this week at work sucks further because my very favorite co-worker is leaving.

He's the guy in the office that has a way of making everything fun, who gets along with everyone, and who is respected by everyone because he really knows his stuff.

Tomorrow is his last day and I've been in a bit of denial this week (helped along by the insane workload mentioned above).

I've always done a good job of staying in touch with former co-workers and am sure it will be no different with him (especially since he and his wife live very close to us).

Whatevs. Still sucks the big one.

Is Indonesia The Real MILF Island?

Loyal reader Amanda gives us the following headline today:

Indonesia pushed to mediate MILF talks

Who knew it was world news worthy? And I suppose the better question is why haven't they asked me to participate? (ha ha ho ho hee hee chortle snicker titter wheeze guffaw laugh chuckle har har).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I Was So Excited About Places That Offered Free Validation Until I Realized What It Really Meant

I finally added an application to count visitors to my two blogs. I've been meaning to do this forever...seems like such as waste that I've been blogging since 2004 and didn't add this until yesterday. (Especially since I am one of those people who desperately needs validation. Lots of validation. Really...I'm not kidding. Validate me.)

And here's the deal -- in one day, my counter registered more than 2500 hits on Brutalism and get ready for this....ten on the Dilettante blog. (Not unique visitors, mind you, but hits...)

I feel the love! Thank you, readers and faithful commenters!!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's Not Just A Job, It's An Adventure

Since Avery had such a fantastic first race experience doing the Goblin Gallop, I was so excited to register her for another. So on the Friday after Thanksgiving, she was all set to do the "Run with Alan Webb" at Reston Town Center to raise money for the Neediest Kids organization. (Alan Webb is the Reston hometown hero who holds the American record for the mile -- 3:46 -- the kid is a machine.) Because we were so excited about how much she loved her first race, we had invited her Grandma and Grandpa and also Aunt Lisa, Uncle Rob and cousin Cameron to watch her, too.

We showed up at Reston Town Center, got Avery's race number secured on her jacket and got her and Canetto all lined up with the other runners to begin the race. Seconds before the gun went off, Avery began having a tantrum. She took off at about a million miles an hour in the opposite direction of the race course. Somehow, she managed to tear her hat off and then in the ridiculous tantrum-style run that she was doing, her mittens also flew off. Tim looked back at me and burst out laughing, then ran after her.

Somehow, my 30 pound daughter managed to run to Talbot's, yank open the (very heavy) front door and race to the rear of the store and into a window display, where she retreated into a far corner and tried to hide from her dad. (I was outside documenting the entire thing on film while simultaneously wetting my pants.) Tim ran after her into the store and a saleswoman said to him, "you know, we really don't like kids climbing into the window displays," to which Tim replied, "you know, that's a coincidence, because I really don't like her climbing into the window display, either."

Tim did manage to get her out of the display, but she never did do the run. A few minutes later, she said to us, "I'm sorry I was so cranky this morning."

Still no idea why the tantrum and the absolute refusal to do the run...especially since she did seem to enjoy running (as fast as she could away from us, but running nonetheless).

Life Is Good.

Even though it started out with me being so sick I could not get off the couch and go to Thanksgiving Dinner, this was one of the nicest and most fun holiday weekends in recent memory.

I did join my inlaws at their house after dinner (Tim and Avery were already there), and we did our traditional British cracker thing and then exchanged Christmas gifts (since no one will be together at Christmas). We had such a nice time and Cameron (my 9-year-old nephew) and Avery had a blast together.

On Friday, Avery was scheduled for her second race at Reston Town Center. (Note: "scheduled to run" and "actually ran" are two different things...a separate blog post with photos will follow). We did stay at the Town Center for the annual holiday parade and that was fantastic. Krennie and Jack came back to our house late that afternoon and together we made a gingerbread house and ordered pizza. It was so much fun and so low key.

Saturday, it was back to the dentist for my remaining two tooth extractions. (And further humiliation for bringing a disc man to drown out the noise. I accused the dentist of being jealous of how retro-cool I am as he proceeded to mock me.) All I have to say is that laughing gas may be the best invention, ever. Saturday night I all but finished my Christmas shopping and then Sunday, we had brunch with the Bermans.

This is my kind of holiday. Low-key, no travel, seeing a lot of different people, and spending a ton of time with Canetto and Avery. I am so in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Sap-o-Rama

I'm thankful for:

My family
My friends
Good health
Having a job that I love
Having a home that I can afford
Dilettante Club
The Internet
Coffee
Brunch
Poop jokes

And you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank You, Sis, May I Have Another?

I rarely write about my sister, because, frankly, I barely know my sister. That's by design, as the following was one of the many incidents that defined our relationship early in life. As the freak show that I was in my adolescence and early twenties, I overlooked most of the psychological torture because I just wanted her to like me. I, apparently, was a total idiot. Anyway:

In elementary school, a teacher had asked my sister to draw a picture of her family. And she did. She came home proudly displaying this piece -- a full-color Daddy with a huge smile on his face, followed by a full-color Mommy with a huge smile on her face. She (the oldest child) came after that, also happy and in vibrant color. As the only other family member, I of course came next in the family line up, right? Oh, silly reader. You're forgetting our cat, Henry. He was depicted next in line. And then? Then it was my turn. A tiny little figure with no facial expressions done entirely in brown.

Don't get me wrong. I find this utterly hilarious (now). I also would love to have it analyzed (though I'm pretty sure I understand the intent). Or maybe just keep it folded up in my purse to offer as rebuttal to the people who think I'm damaging my daughter by not providing her with any siblings...

The Times They Are A-Changin'


Old George Mason University mascot, Gunston, on the left. New George Mason University mascot on the right. Me? Right in the middle. There is something so adorably muppet-like about Gunston. However, adorably muppet-like doesn't generally intimidate the opposing team. Not like the flabby Budweiser-beer-drinker-favored face painting on the new mascot does, anyway.

So Dead On, It's Scary

Me, defined by Urban Dictionary:

1. kathleen
a funky ass chick who puts out with a hot attitude.

friend 1: did you have fun last night
friend 2: yeah we got it on she's a real kathleen

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmukkah

Many years ago, my friend, Hillary, and I began celebrating Christmukkah together. This began with some lofty goal of exposing the other to our different religious holidays, but really was just a reason to try and amuse the other person. (Done by deciding upon some random craft that each of us had to do and present to the other --involving some bizarre assortment of components. One year, we had to incorporate the largest pair of underpants we could find into a holiday diorama. I paper-mached (underpants mached?) a huge pair of white underpants into the form of a mountain, put a pipe-cleaner skiier on top and titled it "Holiday in Ass-pen". Hillary hung humongous red underpants from an old light fixture for some sort of erotic objet d'art light fixture.)

(Aside: Our relationship is pretty much predicated on nonsense. When Hillary and I worked together at a network security company, she got a musical Furby in a happy meal at some point. One day, I tasked her with coming up with a marketing department theme song set to the tune that the musical Furby played. And no, we were not the most productive marketing department. Thanks for asking.)

After having been away from Christmukkah for a few years, we are bringing it back this year. It is high time our children began participating in this tradition. We will meet on December 20th this year and celebrate in the following way:

Each team (Berman/Canedo) must come up with five items -- totaling $20 or less -- that represent a commonly-known holiday carol. The other team will try and guess which carol is being represented by the five items...and of course, get to keep the items as their Christmukkah gift.

The following items must come to the Christmukkah celebration:

1) Itemized list of the five purchases -- with associated costs assigned to them (must be as close to the $20 limit without going over -- a concept stolen blatantly from the Price is Right Showcase Showdown)

2) Printed lyrics of the song with words/concepts highlighted that are represented in the five chosen items

3) The five items (duh)

I will wet my pants if we come up with the same song/ideas. And yet will not be surprised at all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What, Me Worry?

Back story: In the planning stages of my semester in London reunion this year, the group was trying to find John R., one of the guys from the group. It had been a long time since anyone was in touch with him and all our leads were turning into dead ends. (And...he had lived all over the place in the past 20 years -- DC, Chicago, California...) After extensive and exhaustive Internet searches that turned up nothing, another friend helpfully noted that he was on Facebook. (I swear, he was NOT on Facebook when I first looked.) Anyway...we found him and he came to the reunion (he's living in the DC area again). Since the reunion, I had him and another friend from that group to our house for cocktails. This was a couple of weeks ago.

Current story: Yesterday, Avery was busy pulling every single book off the bookshelf in our office. She came across a MAD book with Alfred E. Neumann on the cover (and immediately screamed, "Alfred E. Neumann"...why she knows that is a long story). That's not the weird part. The weird part is that right on the cover of the book, it said, "John R. 460-4855" in my handwriting. Now, I had obviously written that at some point when I was short on paper...but when? and why? and how random that I found this a week after he was in my house for the first time in 20 years? I e-mailed him about this and he did confirm that was an old phone number of his.

Life is strange. (And not just because a MAD book I purchased when I was about eight years old has made it through about 15 moves with me.)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Cornhole -- Alumni Style

Disturbing headline from JMU's web site:

ALUMNI, SHOW US YOUR CORNHOLE SKILLS!
Sign up for the first-ever Alumni vs. Students Cornhole Competition, hosted by the Student Ambassadors and JMU Alumni Association. Join us for free food and show the students how to play cornhole-alumni style! Register today.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Avery has had a bit of a tough week. Her teacher told me that she was not using her "listening ears" during circle time at school. To which I replied, "Huh? Oh, sorry I wasn't listening." (In the musical theater that continually runs through my brain, that is how things would go -- right before everyone around me would break into a perfectly choreographed song and dance routine). Reality is just not as much fun. Although, there was that one time when I picked Avery up from school and we were in her classroom and she grabbed my car keys. Her teacher said, "Oh, Avery -- are you going to drive the car home?" and I looked at her and said, "Well, it's probably a good idea, seeing as how drunk I am."

Anyway, because I am a parent, I analyze and worry and assume that Avery will be homeless and sleeping on a bench when she grows up because she left her "listening ears" at home two days this week. We discussed this with her last night, and could tell that even as she apologized for not listening and promised that she would listen, she was basically giving us lip service. (I'm alternately frightened and impressed by that, incidentally.)

(Also, last Sunday, after Amanda and I came back from hearing Hillary Clinton speak? Amanda was standing in our kitchen. Avery had obviously missed me and wanted me to herself, in addition to being very sleepy. She looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I want Amanda to go home." And I said, "Um, Avery? Amanda is RIGHT HERE.")

This morning, I braced myself for what her teacher might say to me. And she greeted me with this: "You know, Avery is really emerging as a leader. Even though she is the youngest in the classroom, she really commands the respect of the other kids and they listen to her."

Let's review -- We have a non-listening bossy pants who lacks diplomacy and pays us lip service when we try and discuss areas of improvement for her.

(I'd make some kind of "future politician" joke here, but now that I actually respect our President-elect, I just cannot go there.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Good Ol' Fashioned Family Vacation

The first vacation we ever took with Avery was when she was two months old -- to Key West, Florida.

We planned this trip before she was born, thinking it would be easy to schlep her on a plane when she was that young. (People without kids are so charmingly, ridiculously naive.)

The first two months of her life were a total blur, and suddenly we found ourselves with vacation plans. We seriously considered cancelling the trip because we were way more overwhelmed than we thought we would be. Ultimately, though, we made the decision to go.

She was great on the flight to Miami. In Miami, we rented a car to drive through the Keys down to Key West. (We remembered this as a two-hour drive from a trip to Key West that we had taken ten years before -- it's not -- it's four.) And traffic was awful, and the sun was blazing and Avery's rental car child safety seat was not at all comfortable for her. It was a lllooonnnng four hours.

And, while we were making our way south, we kept seeing vehicles with "Fantasy Fest" and "Fantasy Fest or Bust" signs on them. We thought nothing of this until we arrived in Key West and got a quick education. Fantasy Fest, it turns out, is an annual celebration much like Mardi Gras. There is pretty much 24-hour drinking in the streets, lots of costumes (many of which are simply painted on), and lots of debauchery. This is usually held in October, but thanks to a Hurricane that year, it had been re-scheduled to December -- the exact same weekend we were visiting.

So, for the three days we spent in Key West, we were the only people with a tiny infant in a baby carriage walking through the streets. It was somehow a perfect introduction to parenthood. We learned early that things never go exactly as planned once you have a child.

Other great parts of this experience:

1) The people in our B&B who were up til all hours of the night were not disturbed by a crying baby because they could not hear her over their own commotion
2) There was A LOT for Avery too look at and listen to -- lots of bright colors and loud music
3) The priceless pictures I have of appropriate new father Tim standing next to a woman with nothing on her top but nipple rings

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Joke Of The Day

How many humorless people does it take to change a lightbulb?

One.

It Was A Graveyard Smash



So, the Canetto family has totally adopted the Vienna downtown as its own.

(Technically, we live in Oakton, which is only a few miles away and does not have a downtown, and Vienna is a nice family town with lots of cool events so we're pretty sure that Vienna does not care if we glom on to it. Unless, of course, we become those needy people who are all like, "Vienna, we want to spend every spare moment with you. Hey, Vienna, why aren't you returning our calls? Vienna, we see you standing in your living room wearing a red shirt...") Not that it would ever go that far. No matter what Arlington says.

Last night we went to the annual Vienna Halloween parade. We were supposed to meet Avery's friend, Ava, and Ava's parents there. Alas, we were running late and went to the Commerce Bank parking lot instead of Virginia Commerce Bank parking lot (really, Vienna? two blocks from each other and with such similar names? really?) yadda yadda yadda...we watched the parade alone.

Although, on our way to the wrong bank parking lot, we ran into Avery's friend, Logan, and his parents and also my semester-in-London friend, Natalie, and her family. So we were feeling all part-of-the-community and social.

We did watch the whole parade from our VIRGINIA Commerce Bank position and it was awesome! It truly gets better every year -- especially the dancers -- the Bolivian dancers and the group from Adrenaline Dance Company were so good.

Nicely done, Vienna. Now about that restraining order...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Emergency E-Mail Summit Called

A friend of mine (my age) who is dating recently found herself texting with someone she had not yet met in person. She sent an emergency e-mail out to some girlfriends with the following question:

A guy I'm being kind of sort of set up with just asked me via text how old I am. I know he's like 34. What do I say???

Best reply, by far, came from one of her friends, who said:

"Do you have a younger brother?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Britney Spears Saved Me From Prison

Today's post is courtesy of guest blogger, Hillary:
--------------------------------------------------
I had jury duty today. But, I completely forgot. Seriously, 100% just had no memory of it. That is, until 11:15 last night. While watching the 11 o'clock news, I saw a story on Britney Spears and her latest judicial affairs. Somehow this triggered something in my brain about my own civic obligations and I literally bolted out of bed. It was seriously like a lightbulb not only went off, but also exploded in my head. I ran downstairs, found the summons, called the number, and of course, my number was called to come in to the courthouse this AM. Luckily, it was a light day and both trials on the docket settled out of court at the 11th hour and I was able to leave at 10:30 and only waste two hours of my day. Thank you, Britney.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The "Kathy" Offends Me More Than The "Brain Trust"

Today's post, courtesy of guest blogger, Dori (Aural Pleasures).
(She has been reading a journal she kept during our semester in London 20 years ago.)
------------------------------------------------------------

"I hit the motherlode -- at the back of the journal I did a quick "list
of people with their outstanding traits" and here's yours:

Kathy Steenberg: 1/4 of the "brain trust' as the 4 tri-sigs were dubbed the first week. She and Tim had something going. Kathy has the best sense of humor I've ever heard on a girl, but she can be a little... risque I guess.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why Can't His Last Name Be "Wong" So I Can Make A Lame, Groaner Joke About A Wong Making Two Wrights?

Tim's dad has worked in aviation his whole life. (He has always loved planes, and actually had his pilot's license before he had a driver's license.) Due to his eyesight, however, he was not permitted to fly planes as a career. Instead, he became an airline mechanic, spending most of his career on the aircraft maintenance crew for Gannett's corporate planes. When he retired from Gannett several years ago, he began working part time for Ken Kellett, who finances the reproduction of historic planes.

In 2003, we took a family vacation to Kitty Hawk, NC, in an attempt to witness the replica Wright flyer actually flying on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight. Due to weather conditions, the flyer didn't get too far off the ground. But John had worked on the plane and it was beautiful and exciting to be there.

Tomorrow, we're going to the College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland to see another reproduction on which John worked. (The 1910 Wright Model B Reproduction.) Link:
http://www.pgparks.com/places/historic/cpam/inside.html

John is kind of a quiet guy who doesn't talk too much about the things he does, so I never realize how cool it is until we get to see his work on display on this.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Love Little Peplo

The St. Mary's Oyster Festival is this weekend:

http://www.usoysterfest.com/

We're not going, but we did go one year. It's actually a nice way to spend a day. The community gets very involved and excited about it. I remember that even the school kids had drawn pictures about oystering that were displayed at the festival. Our favorite? A crudely drawn oyster with a carefully lettered headline that read:

PEPLO SPEND THEIR LIVE TO OSTER

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bear's Name Is RuPaul

Avery (referring to her teddy bear, whom she has diapered and is cradling in her arms):

"This is my baby. He was in my tummy for a long, long time. He's wearing a diaper. He's a girl."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life Is Hard With A Sippy Cup

For her third birthday, we decided that it was time for Avery to give up her bottle. (Yes, we are such hard-asses -- that's only two years after most kids give it up. And especially entertaining since she moved out of her crib early, spoke early, was toilet trained early, etc. The bottle was kind of the last bastion of her babyhood.)

On her birthday (and after talking about it every day for a few weeks), we got rid of her changing pad, her gate on her bedroom door, and the night time bottle. She was pretty good about it, but did wake up in the middle of the night asking for it on the first night. I soothed her and reminded her that we had made a mutual decision to give up the bottle since she was now a big girl. I offered to get her a sippy cup of milk instead of a bottle...and she said to me, "Life is hard with a sippy cup."

It is, my little angel, and sometimes Jimmy has diarrhea. These are good lessons to learn early in life.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life's Lil Details

Spent the day on Saturday at the Fairfax Fall Festival (how have we never been to this before? It was fantastic. We met the Beenhouwers there and Grandma Krennie met us there on her way into town.) Krennie then babysat on Saturday night so Canetto and I got to see "Lakeview Terrace". Sunday, we went to pick out phots from the photo shoot we did a week ago (great photos of our kiddo -- it will be tough to decide which ones to get - then had dinner with Tim's parents. Monday, we had a big family walk with time at the playground and then Avery's three year checkup (90th percentile for height; 50th percentile for weight; obviously built like her dad and doing great all around). Then, we bought stuff and began getting things ready for Avery's birthday party with a few of her friends this coming weekend.

Life is a lot of fun with the little one.

Tonight, I'm meeting a friend for dinner that I worked with many, many years ago. I ran into her on the street a couple of weeks ago and we're going to catch up tonight. I'm excited!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Okay, Fine!

So maybe my hair is not the only reason I didn't want this published.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm Pretty Sure We Slow-Danced To "Wrapped Around Your Finger"

This, ladies and gentlemen, THIS is what I love about Facebook. (And I only wish I had the courage to scan our junior prom photo. I'm pretty good about being able to laugh at myself...but my hair in that photo is more sad than funny.)

Junior Prom Date:

"You know, you are actually one of my biggest high school regrets, that I was such a jerk to you and we didn't become better friends. Can't change the past, though."

Me:

"Well, if there's one thing I love to hear, it's that I'm someone's biggest regret. If it is any consolation, I don't remember you being a jerk to me. Either you weren't, or I have a horrible memory."

JPD:

"OK, well now my new biggest regret was actually telling you that."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's Like Pulling Teeth

On Friday, I'm getting three wisdom teeth extracted. (Insert "can you spare that?" joke here.)

It's not the pain I'm afraid of...it's the noise. And because I'm a big technology retard, I don't own an iPod to bring with me to drown out the sounds of long roots being wrenched from my jaw.

Which is more painful? Listening to this procedure or enduring the humiliation of bringing a Walkman in with me?

I Live My Life Like A French Movie

And I have no idea what that means, except that it is a line from "Singles" and it makes me laugh because I remembered it as coming from an angry mime played by Eric Stoltz. And really, what isn't funny when coming from an angry mime? (However, it was actually another character who said it...big mistake on the part of the screenplay writer.)

Speaking of movies -- my friend, Meredith, is in a film that was just selected for the Big Apple Film Festival. (Go, Mer!) (Actually, the movie is called, "Go, Fish!") Of course, this gives me a reason to go to NYC at the end of November to go to the screening. (Hoping this gives me and edge and makes me cool, mainly because...

...I'm actually considering going to see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" this week. (which, incidentally, did not get selected for the Big Apple Film Festival.)

And finally, in other this-is-unrelated-except-that-it-also-involves-media news, Amanda and Leon are going to a wedding this weekend where Bob, the awesome trainer from The Biggest Loser, will also be a guest. Amanda is under strict orders to convince him that he needs to do a "Smallest Loser" for the dilettantes.

I leave you with this:

"You're a mime! Aren't you supposed to not speak?"

"YES!"

Cape May Va-Cay


How I love the beach in the off-season. And with Canetto and with my Pants. (Note to readers: I also enjoy the beach in the off-season with Canetto and without my PANTS, but I'll spare the details in this family blog.) And Cape May is just beautiful.

Some highlights of our trip:

- Visiting the Cape May lighthouse. Avery walked up and down the 199 steps and loved looking down at the view (she's pretty fearless at this age), and then did a 1.5 mile nature walk with us. All part of "Operation Wear Her Out".

- Going on a horse and carriage ride around the historic neighborhoods in Cape May.

- Flying a kite on the beach. Avery was a rock star – Tim was going to show her how to fly it, but she took it from him and totally took charge and flew the kite like a pro.

- Taking the ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May.

- Having lunch at Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware on the way to the beach, and eating at Freda's Cafe and the Mad Batter in Cape May. Good stuff.

- Realizing what a sweetie we have when one morning Canetto brought some mini donuts to the hotel for Avery (and a gigantor coffee for me). That child LOVES donuts, and she tore open the package and then offered one to both me and her dad before having one herself.

- Going to Casale's Shoes to meet Kath Connolly's cousin, who married into the Casale shoe empire.

- Fudge samples and the animatronic "cook guy" (Avery's words) in the fudge store window. (If you asked her, she'd probably say this was her favorite part of the trip.)

- Going on the craptacular rides at the arcade and winning enough tickets there to score the following high-quality prizes: fingercuffs, plastic vampire teeth, a novelty cigar and temporary tattoos for all of us.

- Avery "calling" her friends from the hotel phone and saying, “How you doing? Pretty good? I miss you, Sabrina and Logan. We’re at the hotel at the beach. Wanna come?”

- A woman mounting her boyfriend? husband? lover? on a park bench in broad daylight. Sweetie...no one needs to see that.

Nicely done, New Jersey. Any state that is the home to both a beautiful beach and Standard Nippleworks is okay in my book.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy






Twenty-one of our thirty group members attended the reunion! The Saturday night event was held in the private party room of the Auld Shebeen and we had a blast. Everyone looked fantastic and was so excited to be there and we immediately fell back into the family-like familiarity that comes from living and traveling with the same small group of people for a semester.

Seven of us met in advance of the reunion at a local restaurant so we could catch up a little before the whole group met up. One of these was my former boyfriend, Tim, who sweetly brought me a mix CD he had made that featured a lot of the music we listened to when we were together (heavy on The Smiths, The Housemartins, The Cure, The Replacements). The seven of us passed around pictures of our spouses, partners and kids and shared some of our old stories. It was already a fantastic night before we set foot in the Auld Shebeen.

Then, it got even better. Many, many Guinnesses and lots of reminiscing made for one of the best nights I've had in a long, long time. Toward the end of the evening, Canetto showed up and got to meet everyone (and drive me home). It was perfect.

Semester in London Reunion 2008 -- what we learned:

- James sometimes poops his pants and had his weed confiscated by our resident teacher, not the English postal service, as he originally thought
- Tim still likes to hit on 20-something co-eds
- Jen W. is a kleptomaniac
- Stacy and Joyce are "boob twins"
- Natalile looks like (and admires) Sarah Palin
- Brad and Stacy either made out or didn't, depending on whether you ask Brad or Stacy
- Kathleen H. edits feature films
- Annie B. is an award-winning romance novelist
- Pedro donated a kidney -- to his mother-in-law!
- Jen C. designs greeting cards
- Michelle F. is opening a traditional British pub with her husband
- John R. was fixed up on a blind date on the Oprah show

Seriously...who COULDN'T have fun with this crew?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Singing For Her Supper

Last night, I was making cheese and crackers for Avery. I asked how many she wanted and she said, "three." (Well, she actually said, "free," but I will omit that fact in case Harvard ever finds this blog while reviewing her application.)

I set out three small crackers with cheese and said, "Now, if I had three crackers and took away one, how many would be left?" She said, "two." And I said, "If I had one cracker and added two more, how many would I have?" And she said, "three" (er, "free.") I was using the crackers as visuals so that she could understand what I was saying and said the words "plus" and "minus" to really drive the concept home. Then, I called Tim over to watch her do this simple math. We started to go through all the combinations of addition and subtraction again when Avery said, "Mommy...I'm hungry."

Lesson learned.

Crazy Love

Avery's favorite teacher, Esmat, is on vacation for two weeks. (Not the end of the world, as she lives one street over and we see her in the neighborhood all the time.) However, she definitely has a way with Avery when I drop her off at school in the morning that makes the transition so easy. Avery will gladly go to Esmat and Esmat always has Avery's favorite (pink) bubbles set aside just for her. Esmat is the most nurturing person in the world and I know Avery is well cared for when Esmat is there.

The past few days that Esmat has been out have been rough. Avery is very clingy when I drop her off, and there are lots of tears and unpleasantness. (And trust me...when you leave a crying child at school to go to work...it will never be a good day. That never, never gets any easier.)

Yesterday afternoon when I picked her up, I said, "Avery we need to talk about why the drop off in the morning is so tough lately. Do you miss Esmat?" And she looked at me with her huge brown eyes and said, "No, Mommy -- I miss you."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mighty Neighborly

Our neighbor, Bonnie, came over last night with some hand-me-down clothes from her daughter, Nina and also, get this...A DISNEY PRINCESS SCOOTER!!! Nina has a big girl scooter now and generously decided to pass this on to Avery.

Especially cool is that Bonnie dresses Nina adorably...so the clothes we get from them are so cute. My little Pants is becoming a bit of a clothes horse, so I'm not sure which excited her more -- the clothes or the scooter.

I felt the need to pass on the generosity this morning, so I offered up the brand new megabox of Pampers that I purchased about a day before Avery decided she was potty trained to one of my co-workers who has a one year old.

My Icy Heart Melted Just A Little

I just went to 7-11. On the way in, I held the door for a guy who was approaching.

I filled my coffee and grabbed a Clif bar and got in line -- right behind the guy for whom I held the door open. When it came time for him to pay, he said to the cashier, "please ring this up, too." (pointing to my stuff) I tried to protest, but he insisted, so he paid for my snack.

He said, "you got the door for me," and I said, "well, I appreciate it...that is very nice of you."

I'm sharing this for two reasons:

1) I truly believe in the kindness of strangers. Sometimes I forget that and then someone does something like this and reminds me.

2) To draw attention to all those slackers who I've held doors for numerous times. Let's just say that usually I'm paying for my own coffee, ingrates.

To Be Fair, I Also Didn't Specifically Say That She Couldn't

Scene: Canetto giving Avery a bath in the upstairs bathroom. I'm across the hall in the office doing my important Internet research.

I hear Canetto and Avery start disagreeing about something and then Tim asks loudly, "Mommy -- is it true that you told Avery she could put her finger in her butt?"

To which I reply, "Um. No. I never said that."

And then Avery replies, "Okay." and goes on about her bath.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prost!


Oktoberfest 2008, What I Learned:

1) When I walk through a crowded party with a huge tray of hot pretzels and proclaim, "something hot and delicious coming through...oh, and I have pretzels, too" -- I am the one who is laughing the hardest.

2) German words? Inherently funny.

3) Every year, it becomes funnier to discuss who likes the short, fat wieners (knackwurst) and who likes the longer, thinner ones (brats).

4) My friends can drain a keg in less than three hours.

5) Some years, we are smart enough to not jump in the pool.

6) That it make take a few minutes on Sunday morning to recall why there are ten thousand goldfish crackers crunching underfoot, one in my bed and a few in the sun room (along with some kind of pharmaceutical).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Although, I Might Want A GG Allin Themed Birthday Party

I just ran out to Party City...mainly because I need some balloons for Oktoberfest on Saturday but also because I needed to buy Dora themed crap for Avery's school birthday party in a couple of weeks.

To my knowledge, Avery has watched one episode of Dora in her life. But she insisted that she wanted DORA stuff for her party at school. Because I love her and because she is an only child and therefore pretty much gets whatever she wants (well, within reason and also because she is genuinely appreciative of things and very good at sharing them) I bought Dora plates, cups and napkins. Then I chintzed out and bought solid color goody bags and Dora stickers to put on them. (The Dora printed bags were way more expensive and not nearly as heavy-duty.)

I drew the line at hats and Dora goody bag accessories. There are about 30 kids in her classroom...that's a lot of stuff that will be tossed in the trash in about three seconds.

Oh...and her school has suggested that we bring in ice cream sandwiches instead of a cake. Because, apparently, ice cream sandwiches are nut-free guaranteed, unlike store-bought cakes. And don't even SUGGEST making anything at home. The lawyers have seen to it that anything homemade is a thing of the litigation-free past.

Does anyone else remember a time when you could actually MAKE cupcakes to take into school for your birthday, no one had peanut allergies and you didn't have to have a character-themed matchy-matchy birthday? Now I'm getting nostalgic...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh, Real Mature

Rich: Hey, Michelle's grandfather's birthday is this weekend so she's going to go up to NJ. Would you mind if I replaced Michelle with Jason as my date to the Oktoberfest party. He was looking for something to do on Saturday...

Tim: Too bad that Michelle can't make it. Sure, bring Jason as your date! Girls in dirndls are also welcome...

Kathleen: (Nelson laugh) hah hah -- Rich is dating a guy.

Rich: Jason and I will wear the tighest, skimpiest set of dirndls we can find.

Kathleen: sluts (with an umlaut over the "u")

Rich: I prefer the term "man whore" with an umlaut over the "man".

The Horror

As part of the reunion, the organizer has asked us to share our most distinct memories of our semester abroad. Mine were:

-getting yelled at by Russ in every single Monday meeting (every. single. one.)
-wearing all black/all the time
-spending spring break in Amsterdam
-drinking a few pints with Carrie, James and Tim
-seeing Bourgeois Tagg at ULU, Simply Red at Wembley Arena and The Alarm at The National Ballroom
-loving the Tate Gallery
-listening to the animated speakers in Hyde Park
-seeing many, many bad plays (and a few good ones)
-going on architecture tours
-laughing a lot up in the guys' rooms with Brad, John,Tim, James and Pedro
-having my Mom and Aunt visit
-being the only people not dressed in costume for The Rocky Horror Picture Show*
-not having any ketchup for three months

*this was particularly hilarious. Here we were, a group of 30 American students going to see the Rocky Horror Picture show on stage. We stuck out enough already, but even moreso when it was apparent we were the only people who had not dressed in costume for this. Fast forward three years...I had moved to DC after college and was dating Tim Baker and Carrie was dating James (the four of us had begun dating in London). We went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show on stage in DC (we were so excited to re-live this the RIGHT way). It was a Saturday night show -- curtain was at 10:00pm, and we had all put a lot of time and thought into our costumes. We walked into the theater and...you guessed it...we were the only four people in the entire theater who had dressed up. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. The funniest part was that James was about a nano-second away from leaving his pants in the car and wearing just his tighty-whities into the theater. He decided at the last minute to take them off when we went inside.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Brown-Eyed Girl



We attended my company's end of summer picnic on Saturday at Burke Lake Park. The highlight for Avery was riding the carousel. Today, we went to the International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap. Avery's friends Megan and Sabrina met us there (with their parents, of course). The three girls had a blast -- Megan just moved to another school so the girls don't get to see each other every day...so today was great for them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm Scanner Happy

Oldies But Goodies

Okay, I'm having some fun this morning scanning old photos from my semester in London for the reunion. Attached are a few of the ones that crack me up. (Excuse the poor quality of the photos...these were all in scrapbooks I made when I was 20 -- and included phrases I cut out of magazines, and inside jokes that don't seem so funny anymore.)


Friday, September 12, 2008

Memory Lane

So far, 21 of the 30 people from my semester in London group have responded that they are coming to the reunion in a couple of weeks! Since four people from the group were MIA, that is an excellent turnout.

I'm so excited to see everyone and catch up. Six of us are meeting up prior to the organized reunion for a somewhat quieter pre-reunion at a different bar.

The only thing that is giving me a bit of pause is seeing my old boyfriend. I met him on this trip and we went on to date for six years. We have not spoken since our breakup about 15 years ago. I'm sure it will be fun and nostalgic, but that's still a little weird. Especially if we get drunk and make out. (That one's for you, Canetto. Enjoy.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm A Magician...I Magish

Avery's school called me at 11:30 today because she had a rash that was spreading.

I called the pediatrician to make sure we could get in, then went to get her. As we were driving to the doctor's office, I asked how she was doing and she said, "Well, I'm a little bit sad and a little bit frustrated."

She was fantastic at the doctor's office. We are fortunate that she has been such a healthy kid, because the last time she was there was for her two-year checkup eleven months ago. So, this is really the first time she's been there as a "big girl" and was fascinated by the scale and the stethoscope and did a great job of sticking out her tongue and saying, "aaahhh."

The rash is just a minor viral thing...she hasn't had a fever and this is apparently very common. The prescription was to give her a dose of Benadryl and wait.

So, we spent some good quality time at home this afternoon snuggling and taking a nap together. It was awesome. Tim was working from home, so it was just a good day for all of us to be here together.

Just now, after dinner, I was trying to entertain Avery with a magic trick. I put my thumb up, and then put a napkin over it, said "abracadabra" and then my thumb "disappeared." Then, I made it reappear, and paused, waiting for her to get excited over just how cool this trick was. Instead, she said, "Now do it with a bird."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Desperate Times

There were many Caribou Barbie supporters in the area near my office today for the McCain/Palin rally. They all parked in my office parking lot, which made it impossible for the people who actually WORK here to find parking. Anyway, my co-worker/friend Damon went out to where he saw two rally-goers park (on either side of a dumpster enclosure) and opened the huge, rusty doors of the enclosure so that the doors blocked in the vehicles on either side. (One of the vehicles was a huge SUV. Palin supporters can drive those in good conscience because they are confident that global warming is a myth.)

When the people came back to their cars after the rally, they had to push the doors closed before they were able to back out of their parking spaces. Just a little bit of inconvenience for them.

Immature? Yes. Did it prove anything? No. Did it make us all feel a little bit better today? Absolutely.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What The Hale?

Little Pants is quite the nurturer. She has tons of dolls and stuffed animals and she swaddles them in blankets, hugs them, rubs their backs and puts them to sleep. It's really very cute and sweet.

Although, I noticed recently that when she puts them to sleep, she lines all of them up, face down, and then covers them with many layers of blankets. She then tells me that I am not allowed to touch them.

Then she asks me if she can have black sweatsuits and new Nikes for all of them. I kid. But it is eerily reminiscent of the Heaven's Gaters (may they rest in peace).

I'm guessing that when we go on pre-school interviews, we should frame this as "leadership ability"?

Exercising My Options For Exercise Options

Today begins my (drum roll, please) morning workout routine (ta-dah!)

I've found it increasingly difficult to maintain a consistent workout schedule since I've gone back to work. (When I was home with Avery, it was easy. I went on long walks with her every single day, and belonged to the YMCA which had day care, so there was no excuse for not getting a workout in.) For the past year and a half that I've been back at work, however, there is often a conflict in the evenings for either Tim or me that will pre-empt me going to the gym.

Until recently, I was fairly good about getting there two or three times a week (a gym with no day care, because it costs less than half of the YMCA membership and is closer to home); and was also getting in a great run on the weekend with my running partner.

Since I injured my knee and had surgery in March/April, it has taken some time for me to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, my running partner has been totally cool with being my walking partner temporarily (we're doing some marathon walks) and I'm working back up to my normal routine.

This morning? Did 45 minutes on the elliptical and my knees felt GREAT. I don't know if I feel better physically or emotionally that I'm able to do that again. It also feels great to get to work and know that my workout is already done. The situation is pretty ideal, because I can go and get back before Avery even wakes up in the morning, and it keeps my evenings free.

Looks like I'll be going to bed a lot earlier...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tales From The Crypt

This evening, Canetto picked Avery up from school and then picked me up from my office so we could go out to dinner. There's a new Foster's Grille in Fairfax, which is good, because Foster's has a GPFKTASB rating (good place for kids that also serves beer).

After dinner, we went next door to some new gelato place. Avery wanted to sit with three kids she didn't know because they were all sitting at the kiddie table. Because they're kids, they were all like, "sure...come eat your gelato with us at this hippopotamus shaped table."

We walked across the street from there to see a musical performance. Fairfax Arts League was hosting an art exhibit and also had an Irish band playing outside in the plaza. They also had a face painter, so our daughter was transformed into a tiger. (Well, transformed into something kinda sorta resembling a tiger...not the best face painting, ever.) (Good God. It has reached a point where I can actually compare and contrast face painting.) (This is what having a kid does to you. A couple of days ago, I also purchased some size 3T Disney princess underpants.) (I wonder which "Imagineer" came up with those?)

While we sat on the half wall surrounding the fountain on the plaza listening to the Irish band, our little tiger danced her little heart out, much to the delight of the onlookers. She was the only one dancing and she was so completey un-self-conscious that it was adorable.

At that moment, Tim looked at my hands and said, "what's wrong with your hands?" and I looked down and realized that they were that creepy dead person shade of blue. Both palms were very blue and splotchy and the skin from the tip of my fingers down to the top knuckle on the back of my hands was also very blue.

We figured that we better leave in case I was, in fact, dead. (It was not cold outside and I don't normally have circulatory issues.) After we got home the blue tint went away. I'm trying to find out what may have caused this and don't have any idea -- webMD is turning up about a gazillion things it COULD be, but none sound feasible. Any ideas, anyone? Anyone ever experience anything like this before?

Fondly,
Smurfette

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Moving Violations

I was running some errands at lunch time, and apparently made an illegal U-turn, as that is what the kindly officer who pulled me over told me.

He asked for my license and registration (which I could not find) and ran it through the super-duper-cop computer. While he was doing that, I did manage to dig out the entire contents of my glove compartment and locate the registration.

The cop came back to my car, handed back my license and said, "I'll let you off with a verbal warning this time...please pay more attention in the future."

(I'm pretty sure the toddler car seat and stuffed pink bunny in the back seat had a little something to do with his benevolence.)

I've only been pulled over a couple of other times, thank God. I'm terrible at it. My heart was beating fast for a solid hour after the lunch time incident.

One of the other times, I was returning a rental car at an airport and missed the rental car return lot, which meant that I had to circle back around the airport and drive through the loading zone again. I was already running late, and therefore, going about 40 mph in a 15 mph zone (oops!) and a cop walked right out in front of me and put his hand up. I stopped and he walked over to my window and said sarcastically, "the speed limit through here is 15 mph, do you think you could drive anywhere close to that speed?"

Hey, if putting up with a little sarcasm means I get away with a verbal warning...I'll take it any day of the week. (Well, except Tuesday.)

Like A Horse And Carriage

Phone call with my mom this afternoon:

Mom (happily): "While Jack and I were on our cruise to Bermuda, we got engaged!!!"

Me (also happily, Jack is a good guy): "That's great! I'm so happy for you."

(pause)

Me: "Um...you don't have to get married, do you?"

Monday, September 01, 2008

My Little Wamily




>Sniff<

If you ever need a reason to love people, read about how the universe has embraced www.mattlogelin.com during the worst/best time of his life. Be sure to note how gorgeous his daughter is...she looks exactly like his wife.

Yolksters

Before any of us had kids, Canetto and I spent a crazy weekend in Boston visiting our friends, Dave and Marianne.

It was the first time we had seen their (really nice) apartment, and they entertained us by revealing the coolest aspect of the entire place -- a security camera at the building entrance. Everyone in the building could access the video feed from this camera by turning to a certain channel on their television sets, so we spent a lot of time watching people come and go while drinking and catching up. (It really is more fun than it sounds, I swear. Although, it does help to be somewhat of a voyeur. And somewhat of a drinker.)

As the evening went on, we started kidding about what we could put on the front porch that would cause a reaction from the people coming and going from the building. We didn't want it to be gross or scary -- just odd. Finally, we settled on eggs. We figured that if we cooked two perfect sunny-side up eggs and left them plateless on the doorstep, we'd get all kinds of weird reactions from people.

You've never seen more insane preparation for something. Dave meticulously cooked the eggs and then put them on a paper plate. As Marianne and I watched, he and Tim did the stealth mission to deliver the eggs to the doorstep without being detected.

After that, we watched no fewer than 20 people come up to the buidling entrance. Every single person did at least a double-take; a couple of people looked terrified; one mother put her arm out in front of her young child as though to shield him from the danger that was the sunny-side up eggs.

Entertaining as it was, this was only a warm up for a fun night out in Boston, so we did have to leave after a while. We have no idea what became of the eggs, and I still sometimes wonder if any witnesses put much thought into why there were two perfectly cooked eggs on their apartment doorstep.

Same Underpants, Different Decade

As we headed to the Zoo yesterday morning, Tim reached into his pants pocket and said, "Oh...I forgot that I had a pair of underpants in there." as he pulled a tiny pair of girls' underpants out.

To which I replied, "Wow. Fifteen years ago that would've had a totally different meaning."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dear Kevin M:

The schlussel partei is the funniest thing I've read in forever.
Well played.

(Addendum: And then Leon follows up with a strong, "my leather pants are becoming wet with excitement.")

Which makes THAT the funniest thing I've read in forever.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lakeview Terrace -- At A Theatre Near You September 19th

So I see a commercial last night for a new thriller starring Samuel Jackson. It looks interesting/creepy, so I watch it all the way through -- only to see that one of the cops at the end of the trailer is none other than Jeff Cockey.

He has a speaking role in this one. He plays a bad cop who videotapes strippers in some bachelor party scene. Wow. What a stretch of his acting abilities that must've been.

I'll so go see it. I missed the last one he was in because I cannot remember the damn movie name (it's an Adam Sandler movie -- Defending the Zohan, Living the Vida Zohan, You've made a mess of the Zohan, Lindsay Zohan...I dunno.)

Whatever. My job is giving me ulcers this week, so I wish he'd just get famous and make me his publicist already.

Labor Day Goins' On

Saturday
BrickFair -- a Lego Expo at the Sheraton Tysons Corner. Yet another one of those things that I would never have thought of doing in a million years before I had a kid. Unlike Hillary, who will be meeting us there with her child, Sammy, husband, Scott and father in law, Stu. Her husband, Scott, is running the Rock 'n Roll half marathon in Va. Beach this weekend and has postponed their departure time in order to take in the BrickFair -- he is such a Lego fan.
Sunday
Zoo -- after spending some time there last weekend, we realized that we have not spent nearly enough time there this summer with Avery and are hoping to remedy that with a few hours running around there early in the morning.
Cookout -- at our friends house (The Johnsons). They have a beautiful backyard and pool and always serve great food and drink. Plus, they always have a bunch of kids running around to entertain ours.
Monday
Annual Labor Day Cookout/Kickball Challenge--in our cul de sac.

I'm hoping to also fit in some time to find the perfect pair of jeans and also some other clothes for some of the more adult outings we have coming up in coming weeks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liverpool


A photo from Liverpool in 1988. That's me, my college roommate, Jan, and our sorority sister, Amy, walking by the Cavern -- where the Beatles first played in 1961.

I have always loved the artsy-fartsiness of this photo.

Mother Of The Year, Part Infinity

Last night at the grocery store, I had a cart full of food and just one more item to get before checking out when Avery said, "I have to go pee pee." I have no idea where the bathroom is in the grocery store...so I was driving that damn cart with the huge plastic car attached to the front that all kids need to ride in that makes the entire cart extremely unwieldy all over the back of the store to try and find the restroom. (Aside: once, I went shopping with Tim and Avery -- and Avery was acting up. So, Tim took her outside, leaving me to finish the grocery shopping alone with the ridiculously huge car-cart. I looked like some sad mommy wannabe, pretending what it would be like to have an actual child with me as I grocery shopped.)

Anyway...we looked all over the back of the store for the restroom and I could not find it. So I said, "please hold it" and we went up front to check out. Of course, after I had emptied the entire contents of my cart onto the conveyor belt, I could see the restroom in the front of the store...about 10 feet from the checkout line. At this moment, Avery said, "Mommy!" and I looked back to see her emptying the entire contents of her bladder onto the floor. I had no idea what to do, other than to feel guilty, as she had given me plenty of notice that she had to go to the bathroom. So, I grabbed a couple of diapers out of the diaper bag (we still keep them in case of emergency even though she's strictly an underpants girls now) and put them on top of the puddle.

The cashier could not have been nicer. She looked at Avery and said, "That's okay, sweetie. We'll get someone to clean it up. Don't you worry about that at all." Then, she quickly finishing ringing me up and had someone push my cart to the side so that I could take Avery to the bathroom.

I took her into the bathroom and assured her that it was my fault and not hers that she had an accident.

She seemed fine with that, I wish I was.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What In God's Name Happened To Me In My Childhood?

My ADD has gotten the best of me. Rather sheepishly, I approached the IT Department at my company yesterday and asked them to block a list of blogs and web sites that I visit every day -- sometimes repeatedly.

I suppose admitting that I have a problem is progress.

Blogger is still not blocked, however, so you can probably expect to be hearing a lot more from me. Baby steps.

Somewhat related, as this all has to do with my neuroses, I was chatting with a friend yesterday and mentioned the drill for when Canetto is out of town. It is as follows: I go up to bed at about 9:30 (because it is dark outside and I am scared of the dark). I turn on the home alarm system, bring both the home phone and my cell phone upstairs with me and barricade Avery and myself into my bedroom. (When I say barricade, I mean I lock the door, then the deadbolt that my darling husband had installed on the door above the normal lock because I'm a freak, and then I drag a heavy chair halfway across the room to put in front of all of that. Then, I sleep with the light on and wake up about every hour and a half all through the night thinking that I heard something.) It's a mystery why I never became a police officer or enlisted in the armed forces, huh?

This friend I was chatting with looked at me and said, "You know why I like you? no matter how neurotic I get...you always make me feel better."

I'm A Giver

Tim (quizzically, looking at memo section of HUGE weekly check I write to Avery's school that says family #0032): "Is 0032 our family number?"

Me (sarcastically): "No."

(long pause)

Me: "And family #0032 really likes me."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Snore And Roar

First of all, apologies to the National Zoo for erroneously listing this event as "Snore 'n Roar" on my Facebook page. I hate the apostrophe N almost more than I hate people spelling C words with Ks (Krispy Kreme -- I'm talking to you!) and yet, I saw one where none existed. I'll blame the marketing profession in general (those krazy kards).

That aside, this is one of the coolest events I've done in the DC area. We signed up for the "Commissary" tour when we originally decided to do this back in April ("We" being me, Hillary and Hillary's mom, Nancy.)

On Friday, I met up with Hillary and Nancy at 5pm at the Zoo, where we brought a picnic and dined for an hour before the event began. (Hill even managed to sneak in a bottle of wine -- don't tell the Smithsonian.) At 6:00pm, we met up with our tour guide and other group members and received our tents. We selected our campsite (near a lovely waterfall) and set up our tent, then regrouped to begin our tour. (Being the seasoned campers that we are, Hillary brought a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag, Nancy brought a pillow in a white eyelet pillowcase, and I completely forgot a pillow and the pump to blow up my queen-sized air mattress.) We toured the commissary, which handles all of the food delivery, processing and distribution of food for every animal in the Zoo. Two animal nutritionists (two of only fourteen in the entire country) led the tour and were so interesting and interested in their jobs. We learned a lot, asked a lot of questions and did a few hands-on activities. We also got to go into walk-in freezers where we saw things like frozen whole rabbits in individually wrapped packages -- still with their fur and everything. That creeped me out more than a little bit. At the end of the tour, there was a scavenger hunt in the facility. Being the freakisly competitive people we are, Hillary and I developed a strategy of splitting up and also not lingering in front of clues, so as not to give any information away. We kept doing recon missions and then reporting back to Nancy who stayed in a central location to record answers. (Please keep in mind that our competition in this hunt was a bunch of parents with their eight and nine-year-old children. It was very important that we win.)

We did win and documented our dash across the finish line...only to find out there was no prize. (Well, other than the satisfaction of knowing that we kicked some elementary school ass.)

After that, we got to take a flashlight tour of all the nocturnal animals. It was awesome to be at the Zoo at night with very few other people.

The next morning, there was another scavenger hunt planned for us that gave us a pretty good walk around the Zoo. This time, there was a prize, but we were beaten by another group. (It was a very "Amazing Race" moment as we crossed the finish line and realized that someone else had come in first.)

Anyway, I had to sleep for about three hours when I got home. Not the comfiest night's sleep I've ever had...but a very, very cool event otherwise.

A couple of days ago, I signed up for our next Zoo even -- a "Cool Cats" tour and activity for Avery on a Saturday morning in November. (Which should assuage some of the guilt I felt when telling her I was going to go away over night for Snore and Roar. She asked, "you're going to the Zoo? Can I come?" and I had to reply, "No. This is not for children."

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Can I Say? The Man Can Work A Sequined Suit.

Chris Isaak was great. He always does a really good show.

I was worried at first, because we got great seats this time, and Miss Uber-Fan (totally acted like a teeny-bopper, although she was certainly not teeny, and was also not a bopper -- she was about 35 years old) was seated next to me. She kept screaming "Wo-HOOO!" and "Go, Chris!".

As I am a very tolerant and patient person, this led me to roll my eyes a lot and Tim to begin getting scared, because he knows how charming I am whenever someone like that is seated next to me. Somehow, though, (God's will? Miracle? My prayers working?) she left after three songs and never came back. (Her blog today probably reads, "so at first, I was totally seated next to this uptight, eye-rolling bitch and I thought the show was going to suck. But then I got up and moved to where the fun people are.")

He sang a lot of great new stuff and even did a couple of covers (and I'm a sucker for the covers -- 'specially Cheap Trick's "I want you to want me")

As we were waiting in line for the bathroom at one point (Canetto and I had a few beers in the car before we went in), I told him the story about the time I went to Wolf Trap with Meredith back in the day. Her father had scored us some backstage passes for the Harry Connick, Jr. show. We were sooo excited. The concert was great...then we went backstage and lined up to have our few minutes with Harry. I kept thinking of all of the clever things I could say to him and what the perfect balance would be between complimentary and suck-uppy. For about twenty minutes I thought about this and it was finally my turn to be memorable and say something to him that no one had ever said before.

I shook his hand, looked right at him and said, "Hey." Yup. That's it. "Hey."

I'm sure that made the liner notes for his next CD.

Monday, August 18, 2008

But Enough About Me, Let's Talk About You. What Do You Think About Me?

(NOTE: This post is a recap of the past weekend and a look ahead to the coming one. Yes, I could just insert a copy of my calendar page here and be done with it. Silly readers. Don't you realize just how indulgent it is to have a blog? You must be inundated with the many insignificant details of my past and future plans. It is so good to have a forum.)

I love weekends. I know I am alone in my radical views.

This past one -- great! On Friday, Canetto had to work late on a proposal, so I took the Pants to the Schirmer's house to visit with them and new baby Charles. Avery was such a big girl and so sweet. While I held Charles on my lap, Avery sat right next to me and caressed his legs very softly and talked to him very quietly. (I'm sure she's making her case for siblings...every day I get a request for "lots of brudders and sisters.") (And yes, she does say it just like a mobster.) (Which may be appropriate, considering that they would be "joining da family.")

Saturday, we went to Chris and Jay's house for a barbecue to celebrate Jay being back from Iraq. We brought a gift of a baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and a Chevy matchbox car. There were a million kids there under the age of five. Good for Avery and fun for us, too. It's a lot easier to mingle with people sometimes when you have kids in common.


Sunday, we finally made good on our promise to take Avery to the Water Mine in Reston. (Where do the summer weekends go?) How did I not know this place existed? What a great way to spend a couple of hours on a summer weekend. She laughed and played for three hours straight. We had such a great time. (For those, like me, who were not aware that this place existed --it is near the Reston Zoo and has many water slides and a river rafting pool -- totally cool for the 10-and-under set.)

Hanging out with Avery is getting more and more fun. Mainly because she is beginning to understand why potty humor and the word "butt" are so hysterical. (Wiping sentimental tear from corner of eye.)

On the way to the water park, we all joined in singing one of our favorite family car songs:(sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell")

Avery has a cute butt
Avery has a cute butt
Heigh-ho the derry-o,
Avery has a cute butt

(Which then morphs into Heigh-ho the derriere and then goes into additional rounds with both daddy and mommy having cute butts. We're an easy-to-amuse family.)

This week? Thursday night is our annual Chris-Isaak-at-Wolftrap concert. Canetto got the tickets the moment the ticket sales opened for the season so we have great seats. We have been going to see him for years and he always puts on a great show. Friday night, I'm going to Snore and Roar at the National Zoo. (Oh, what a cute thing to do with Avery, you're thinking. A behind the scenes tour of the zoo and then an overnight in a tent on the zoo grounds? What a cool mom you are. Yes, I am a cool mom, but that is beside the point as this event is adults-only. I'm going with my friend, Hillary and her mom, Nancy. There will be stories, oh yes, there will be stories.)

After a trip to the vet Saturday afternoon in which it will cost me several hundred dollars to traumatize my cats with a car ride and shots and find out that Brooke will need her anal glands expressed again, Tim and I are having (a kid-free) dinner at Bazin's in Vienna with our friends, Julie and Andrew.

Sunday marks Avery's first-ever friend birthday party. (Well, the first one at someone's house -- they've had several in her classroom.) I don't know who's more excited -- us or her. I shopped for Megan's gift yesterday afternoon and felt tremendous pressure for it to be just right. (And also, as a mom of a same-aged kid, I wanted it not to be messy, loud, or have a million small pieces.)

You Don't Have To Get All Huffington With Me

My friend (and Meredith's husband), John Marshall, made the front of the Huffington Post today!

www.huffingtonpost.com and scroll down to
Outwit, Outchoose, OutVeep

Also check out www.tyrannosaurusrocks.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fly Me To The Moon

Painfully shy does not even begin to describe me in the first 16 years of my life. I could not talk to anyone on the phone, I got straight A's in school because I was terrified of attention being drawn to me if I ever had anything other than the right answer and I rarely spoke a word to anyone.

This is a bit of background for the story I'm about to share.

When I was in morning kindergarten at the Van Duyn school in Syracuse, New York, I had an admirer named Billy Bartlett. He was my teacher. (Okay, that's gross even for me...just seeing if you were paying attention.) Billy was my age -- a peer -- a classmate -- five years old (did I just reach the point where I'm protesting too much?) In his attempts to woo me, Billy came up with many stories -- including one about him being an astronaut and going to the moon.

Apparently, Billy had a thing for the quiet types -- perhaps I came across as mysterious and compelling in my refusal to say anything out loud. Or, maybe he thought I was a mime. I don't know. But he did decide that I was the girl for him. And he was persisent. And because I was so shy, Billy somehow became my boyfriend (whatever that means in morning kindergarten), even though I don't remember having much say in all of it. (I learned later that this personality type is generally referred to as "stalker" who "preys upon women who are vulnerable and do not stand up for themselves" -- ah, the folly of youth.)

Billy's mom worked at the lunch counter at Woolworth. (How many of my younger readers are choking on their lunch as they read that last sentence? Yes, there used to be "lunch counters" and they used to be at Woolworth. Google it, whippersnappers.) Billy had his mother call my mother to arrange a lunch date one day after we got out of morning kindergarten. The plan was that Billy's older brother would pick us up from school and drive us to Woolworth and we'd have a leisurely, romantic lunch and then Billy's mom would drive me home when we were done.

I'm sure this seemed cute to the parents involved and I'm sure Billy loved it, but from the moment it was arranged I was scared to death. I knew I wouldn't be able to talk to his brother or his mom and just having to be somewhere without my mom or dad petrified me.

On the appointed day of our "date," I decided that I just could not go through with it and began my regular walk home with my friend, Cheryl. We got about a block away from school and a car pulled up next to us with Billy, Billy's older brother, and two other teenagers in it. Billy and his brother rolled down the car window and called, "Kathy....Kathy...." I stared straight ahead and kept walking toward home. My friend, Cheryl, tugged on my sleeve and said, "um...I think they're talking to you." Without looking at her, I said..."Look straight ahead and keep walking.." Billy and his brother kept calling my name for the next block or so (and yes, I could hear the other teenagers in the car laughing) and then finally just gave up and drove away. (In my defense...I was already the shyest kid on the planet...and was a nervous wreck about these plans...and then they bring in two other teenagers...just wwwaaayyy too much for my 5-year-old self to handle.)

My mom was furious when I made it home, and called Billy's mom to apologize. (I also remember a pretty intense spanking, though my mother would deny that if you asked her now.) It's amazing I was ever able to have a normal relationship as an adult.

Later that night, Billy's mom drove him over to my house. He came in with a present for me -- a plastic wedding and engagement ring set (likely from Woolworth) wrapped in an empty Cracker Jack box.

I guess the upside for him in my blowing off the date is knowing that it never would have worked out, anyway. I mean, an engagement ring on a first date? That is just moving way too fast. Also, who wants to marry a guy who's never there for you because he's in another galaxy?