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?

Friday, September 26, 2008

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 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 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


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 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 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?


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."


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

Monday, September 01, 2008

My Little Wamily


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


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."