Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Observations from the classroom

Last night I was telling the girls that our friends' son Christopher had fixed our car.

Boobah: I have a Christopher in my class.
Me: I know Christopher.
Boobah: He pees sitting down.
Me: How do you know that?
Boobah: I could see him on the potty (giggle, titter)

Me: Did you talk to Mrs. Sparkly today at preschool.
Boobah: Yes, I always talk to Mrs. Sparkly, I like her. I don't like Ms. Not So Sparkly
Me: Why not?
Boobah: Because she doesn't have good hair.

It was particularly interesting given that Ms. Not So Sparkly told me at my parent conference that Boobah really likes Mrs. Sparkly an chats her up every day. I have really mixed feelings about her not returning to the preschool next year but the mid-day running between the school and day care is making me far less productive than I need to be.

PDQ came home today with her second report cards, all 1, 2, I and W--really I don't anything more than she does what they ask and her effort is generally satisfactory. Being considerate to others is one of the things she seems to excel in, in addition to her report card she came home with a certificates for good citizenship and exemplary attendance. I am so glad to know that her interactions with other people are positive, she is learning to read, she is learning math but I don't know that you can teach someone to get along with others.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Have one for me!

I read about this Today show segment first in Notes from the Trenches and then here and here and here. I have been thinking about it and waiting to see the piece (not something I was going to stream at the office). So, this afternoon I went to retrieve Boobah at preschool and this article from the Today show website was hanging on the bulletin board. There was nothing else, just the article tacked to the middle of the board describing the schools programs and all the letters from the state about the schools liscense.

I didn't know quite what to think--were they promoting the idea of cocktail playdates, were they admonishing it, was it there for a reaction?

I watched the piece this evening when I got home and I was perplexed, why did they do the piece? Is it really that amazing to think that Mommies would have a glass of wine in their own homes (or out with other Moms) in the presence of their kids? Was it wrong because it was just the women and kids? Because it was the afternoon? I rarely get to have playdates but we often have friends over in the evening for dinner and there is often a glass of wine or even better, a bourbon slush involved. Is that okay because the men are there and it is evening? No one is criticizing the backyard BBQ.

I have to agree with the sentiment that it was just another way for one set of Moms to find fault with another. Last week it was Oprah's yearly round of Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom where there is no gray. The same here, it seems that its either abstinence in the presence of mothers and kids or we are all irresponsible wine swilling lushes. There was certainly a talented photographer for the piece who made sure that every shot had kids and wine in it to make it seem as if the wine was the central focus--not the socialization of the Moms or the kids.

I never guessed that the hardest part of motherhood would be trying to ignore what other people think of my parenting. It seems like whatever we do there is someone waiting in the wings to make a comment about it--spouses, ex-spouses, other Moms, the media, the grandparents, the school, the co-workers. Its not so hard to shake off the superior comments of the childless, we can write them off as just not understanding because they haven't been there. It takes a whole lot more confidence to stand up to the watchful eye of those in the trenches with you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I Wanna Fight for the Right to Paaaaaaaaaaaaaar-ty!

Okay, so this weekend was one of those weekends. Four kids that we've known since they were born all had birthday parties within 24 hours of one another. I think BuilderMama and I lived in a parallel universe this weekend!

While I was painting Saturday morning G-man took PDQ to skating lessons and on the way picked up the party girl of the day, B. Then B came back to our house for a playdate and some lunch so that her folks could get things done at their house with one less kid. B's Mom had been out of town for three days to go to an out of town funeral and had gotten in at 11PM on Friday night and was expecting 16 kids Saturday afternoon. When we arrived she looked at me and asked if I was going to stay, I told her if she wanted I'd be happy to. The gleam in her eye told me I wasn't going to the mall to shop for new workout shoes. So I stayed and helped stick little tiny stickers on the top of treasure boxes, string wooden beads onto ribbon for cute necklaces, and worked out my biceps scooping ice cream. I promised another Mom that I'd cart her daughter home--she thanked me profusely as this was her third birthday party of the day and she had another daughter to get to basketball about the time this party ended.

Since I was out and giddy with the fact that we weren't having PDQs party at our house this year, we stopped at the swim center to plunk down the deposit at the indoor pool. Of course the woman who couldn't make up her mind to save her life was in front of me in line. Holding what should have been her internal dialogue outloud for the rest of us to hear. So, I reserved 4, is noon open? Okay, lets switch it to noon. Oh wait, is that Saturday, hmmmmmmm Saturday is sports day no one will come. And on and on and on. Thankfully the guy waiting on her stopped to ask me when my party was and when he discovered it was another month he got someone else to help me. Thanks pool guy! Of course we couldn't leave the 100 degree smelly pool without a trip through the wet halls to the bathroom.

Sunday morning we woke bright and early to a panicked Esmerelda on her way to her triathlon class (you go girl!). After prying myself from my warm bed I managed to get the girls breakfast, my clothes together and head to the gym before church. I was tired, I was grumpy, and they needed me to work some of it off if I were to live through the coming Chuck E. Cheese experience. G-man promised to take pictures of the gymnastics party for Karateboy and N while I headed to the germ infested home of the mouse to attend the party which PDQ declared she must go to because S needed her there! (No drama there) I had committed to Karateboy's party but Esmerelda let me off the hook and we agreed to do dinner after the parties. B & her Mom accompanied us to the party, thank goodness--someone to commiserate with and catch up on the gossip. It was as disgusting as I remembered, there were kids everywhere running amok, it was HOT, and the party hostess kept disappearing leaving the kids hanging with nothing to do. Once they finally got some tokens it was off to earn tickets. PDQs favorite game was broken and she was bummed. The game next to it was one where you throw balls into a rotating cylinder that covers up the holes as it spins. Someone had their preschooler up in the game putting the balls directly into the holes--there is fair play at its best. Unlike me, PDQ is all about doing what she wants and not about getting the tickets, she was happy to ride the bus, bike that goes up in the air and didn't pout when three of the games ate her tokens.

So, having survived C.E.C. we took B & her Mom home and hooked up with the Esmerelda's for dinner at Red Robin. Where we waited for 45 minutes at 4:30 on a Sunday night. By the time they found us a seat Tippy Tornado and Boobah were laying on the floor watching the TV mounted underneath a piece of plexiglass, I even heard G-man yell "don't lick that!" but I counldn't bear to look and see who the offender was. Poor Es was beside herself thinking about Wayne whom she didn't know had passed yet. After dinner we sent her on her way to be with his family. G-man took the rest of the family home and I went to the grocery store. Never did the mega-mart seem like such an oasis.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Things I've Learned at the Gym

When I am an old lady I will worry more about athlete's foot than people seeing me naked.

The workout goes faster if I read and listen to music than if I watch the little TV attached to the equipment.

If I have the children with me, I will not be able to part anywhere near the building and must instead cross the entire parking lot with them.

The guy who smells, either B.O. or entirely too much cologne, will always pick the machine next to me.

There is nothing that feels better than a good stretch (at the gym anyway).

The worse I look when I go, the more people I see that I know.

It is so worth it when I am done, especially when it has taken an act of Congress to get there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Three fateful weeks ago I decided I couldn't handle looking at this any longer. I wanted the girls to have a cool bathroom where stepsons' burgeoning masculinity wouldn't be insulted. Chris and Gretchen write about their household redecorating triumphs and make it sound easy.

I figured it was original to the house which made it about 17 years old. 17 years in a small windowless bathroom, the stuff should be a snap to get off. NO! NO! NO! I scraped, I used Diff, finally I found the paper tiger and got most of the top layer off. Then on the advice of one of the neighbors I used a strong dish detergent to water mixture and covered the walls and scraped some more. Finally after about 3 more hours last night I got the last bits of wallpaper and glue off the walls...or so I thought.

This morning I went through one more time and scrubbed the walls. I'd occasionally find another small spot of paper or glue and I'd get the scraper and go to it. I did one final wipe down of all the walls with clear water to get the glue and soap residue off. I was so proud of myself, much more thorough than I usually am before slapping paint on the walls. I even managed to tape off the tub, baseboards and ceiling. This time I was doing it right. WRONG.
As soon as I raised my first rollerfull of aqua paint I could see it, a spot of glue and another and another. I really wanted to put my head down on the top of the ladder and cry. Instead I scraped off the paint and the glue and went on another expedition to find the last darned spots. I found a few more and even more as I countinued to paint. The first coat is done except for behind the toilet. I need DH to get that badboy out of there so I can finish up.

Of course this morning his nightmare came true, I said you know, since we already...which always puts him on high alert for "I'm not going to like this." Well, since we are already going to pull out the toilet should we replace the floor? What about the vanity? He said, I knew this was coming. So I guess this afternoon we'll take a trip to Home Depot or Lowe's to find the requisite accessories. And did I mention there was a mirror that took up one entire wall that has disposed of?
All of that so I could put up this funky shower curtain. Please let one coat of paint be enough. Please, let me think twice before deciding to take down any more wallpaper.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Future MILF Weigh-In: Week 3

It was a sad, sad week in the world of MILF attainment--gained back 2.6 of the 2.8 pounds I lost last week. We had a big night out last Friday--drinks, appetizers, dinner, dessert. I tracked all of those points and used about half of my flex points for the week. The food was great and the company was better. I wish I'd shown some restraint but plate cleaning is hard to unlearn. The middle of the week went pretty well, exercising, writing things down and then I just kind of fell apart, cheesecake, buckeyes, donuts. Not 3 pounds worth of calories certainly but enough to throw me off course. I am obviously retaining water, I could barely get my rings on this morning. Probably the motivation I need to get back on track and take this thing seriously!

There are some sobering articles in Good Housekeeping this month on women and heart disease. It made me think of my family history--both of my Dad's parents had triple bypass surgery, my Mother's mother had a heart attack, and her brother has stents. Not a great track record, something I need to control now to try and stave off later.

This week I will work out at least 3 times again. I will stay away from the sugar. I will eat my fruits and vegetables. I. Will. Get. Back. On. Track.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ambiguous bits

I just attempted to run a meeting with 8 men at my company. The solution to the problem one of them declared--is analyzing the ambiguous bits. I just about lost it, the rest of the meeting I had the song from the Ambigously Gay Duo running through my head, very, very bad for standing in front of a room. I listened to the description of the ambiguous bits, I still have absolutely NO iea what the heck they are though!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is in a name?

Last night Scott and I were doing our bi-monthly "oh crap, Betty is coming" pick up around the house and accumulated a gigantic pile of mail to be shredded. As Scott was stopping up, I mean using, the shredder he was laughing at the various incarnations of our name. Our last name is Maven-Gman.* Is that really so difficult to comprehend? It does add a certain element of surprise to our junk mail which comes in the following flavors (I am sure I've left some out):
  • Maven H. Gman
  • Mrs. Maven
  • Mr. Maven
  • Mrs. Gman
  • Mr. Gman
  • Maven Gman
  • Mavengman
  • M. Gman

It is an entertaining way to track where things have come from but it is annoying that very few people can get it right. My 80 year old grandmothers have accepted it and use it (they'd probably be offended, kinda like the Caveman in the insurance commercial but so be it). Even PDQ knows it and how to write it. To increase the fun, Gman's first name isn't Scott, that's his middle name. On his voice mail at work and often when he introduces himself to new people he is Firstname Scott Maven-Gman which is obviously a mouthful. The guys he works with dubbed him Firstname Scott Maven-Gman Jingleheimer-Schmidt.

How the heck did we end up with the name? Well, Gman had a previous Mrs. Gman whom I did not want to be mistaken for--a good way to dodge conversations with her creditors if I can honestly say, nope I am not Mrs. Gman. I also desperately wanted to share a name with my new husband to celebrate our lives together and our family. About six months before our wedding I ran across an article in Cosmo about this couple who formed their own new last name, no hyphens but just their two names together so they had something for them. It was very sweet and it prompted me to bring up the subject with Gman for the first time. I told him that I was planning to use the hyphenated name and I would really like it if he would as well.

He promised to think about it and tell me on our wedding day. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was shut my mouth and let him think. Occasionally I would remind him how much I loved him and how much it would mean to me but for the most part I kept my mouth shut, which those who know me will agree is a real feat. So, the day before our wedding we met with the minister and she asked us how we wanted to be announced. I told her that Scott was deciding and he'd let her know tomorrow, he said no, he'd made up his mind and he was going to be Mr. Maven-Gman. I cried a little, it meant a lot to me that he'd buck tradition to do something new with me as we started our life together. He took more than a little ribbing from his groomsmen and former Army buddies when he told them. Somewhere in the lore he says I promised him favors (if you know what I mean) every time someone made fun of him. I don't remember that part.

It's a mouthful, annoying that people can't get it right, needs to be spelled for everyone and required explanation far more than I'd thought. Having no brothers it is a chance for the Maven name to go on just a little longer. But I love it because it is ours, a part of each of us and is unique.

*real names have been changed to protect the innocent

Monday, January 22, 2007

Simple Pleasures--The Weekend Edition

Simple Pleasures from the Weekend:

Started off the weekend having dinner with Builder Mama and family. Mama and I have been on a Working Moms board together for about 5 years, we've met in person a couple of other times. This was the first time we'd been together with the families. It was so nice to have a relaxed dinner with people you felt you'd known forever. The kids got along great and behaved in a nice restaurant for nearly 2.5 hrs (other than ripping the cover off the baseboard heater).

There was unbridled excitement in our house yesterday because it ACTUALLY SNOWED! PDQ declared it THE-MOST-BEAUTIFUL-THING-I-EVER-SAW!

I had my own moment of unbridled excitement this morning when I went into the garage, opened the door and hit the road--without any scraping or advance preparation. It was my first bad weather day with a garage, thanks Scott for letting me park there.

Stamp camp on Saturday night. I know to the uninitiated it probably sounds a bit corn ball but I really enjoy it--a little wine, a little crafting, a little poking fun at husbands who need it (not you this time dear), and a whole lot of laughing. Here are two of the projects we worked on this weekend. A cool card that slides and a magnetic picture frame where all the words and the picutre can be moved.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How I Want to be When I Grow up

I went to a memorial service today, or more appropriately to a celebration of life. Miss Beryl died on Christmas Eve morning 6 days after her 102nd birthday. She was an amazing woman who had an incredible impact on those around her and today was a testament to that. Miss Beryl (as everyone called her) was a journalism student at The Ohio State University in the 20s, she dropped out after 3 years, when asked why she told her son that journalists were supposed to ask lots of personal questions about people's lives and that just wasn't for her. She left OSU and went to NYC and joined the Russian ballet. She danced there and in burlesque shows for several years. She talked fondly of her days as a dancer and said when she died she would go to heaven to dance with the angels. She met her husband in NY, got married and had two sons. In 1945 she and her husband divorced and she ran a medical practice until she retired in 1969--the year I was born. Her son read a letter from one of the patients in that medical practice whom Miss Beryl befriended, they became friends and their families remain close today. I can't imagine that life was easy for a woman alone with two children in the 40s, 50s or 60s but obviously Miss Beryl let nothing deter her. She had an affinity for everything Russian and spent ten years learning it. She traveled to Russia and over much of the rest of the world. Miss Beryl came to Maryland to live closer to her son and settled into a housing complex for seniors near our church and became a faithful attendee and entered the lives of so many people I am close to today. From the moment we started attending church there I remember people storing up things Beryl had given them, or she had donated to the church yard sale or auction and they had quickly bought. People realized Miss Beryl wouldn't be with us forever and wanted to have some way to remember her.

When she first moved from her senior complex into the independent living part of an assisted living center I had the privilege of becoming part of the Beryl brigade picking her up once a month to bring her to church and take her home afterwards. Although it was no more than 10 minutes each way I loved hearing Miss Beryl's stories about what ever it was she decided to share each time, often it was about Ohio since we'd both grown up there.
Here are just a few of the stories that were shared:
  • In the mid-80s Miss Beryl got a computer and asked our friend Mr. Don if he thought her processor was fast enough to run this new chess game. Mr. Don told her he just wasn't sure. Miss Beryl told him she'd find out then, and let him know.
  • Miss Beryl really like Mr. Don, so much that she told all of her friends when she introduced them to him that if they ever needed anything, just to call him. She did call him and he said he never hesitated to go immediately and do for her whatever it was that she wanted, the way that she wanted, no matter what.
  • Our former minister relayed a story about a Sunday after a blizzard. He had walked to the church and there were 6 other people present, one of them being Miss Beryl. She told him she used two canes that morning instead of just one. After the service he walked her home. She told him that she loved the snow, it was so beautiful and as a child she'd made snow angels. At 90 years old she got down on the ground and made another one right in front of the church.
  • Many people relayed stories from visiting her in the last 6 months, Miss Beryl was very hard of hearing and slept much of the time and it was difficult to wake her. So she made a giant sign and hung it by her head--WAKE ME UP, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU and they did, lest she find out they were there and she hadn't seen them, word would get back to them that they best go back to visit and wake her up this time.
She was a person who embraced life and all that it threw at her. She had the power to touch people and make them believe anything was possible. Many people shared things that she did or said that have stuck with them for years. I wish I'd known her better. I didn't take advantage of my opportunities to go visit her the past few years, the last time I saw her was her 100th birthday when she came to church. I sent cards on her birthday and flowers with someone going to visit but I never went to visit myself, definitely my loss.

When I grow up I only hope I can be a small portion of the woman that Miss Beryl was. I know that today she is dancing with the angels and making sure we are all awake and experiencing our lives the way she did hers.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Future MILF Weigh-In: Week 2

Much better week this week, thank goodness--down 2.8 pounds. Sugar Mama was not totally constrained but definitely better than last week. Might have even lost another pound if it hadn't been for the grand cookie making event on MLK day and my compulsion to eat the tiny little cookies by the handful (but I did add whole wheat flour, that counts for something right?!).

I know I need to drink more water, I learned that the hard way this week when all the fiber and lack of water turned my insides into a cement mixer--mid-week I'd gained 2 pounds and wanted to cry. It's amazing what a little (okay, a whole lot) of water can do for a girl!

My goals last week were to exercise at least 3 days, I score 33% on that one. I'll keep it for this week. Write everything down 80% and limit my sugar consumption, I'll say 50% so I guess its a good thing this isn't graded I do believe I'd be failing!

Goal for 2007: 60 pounds
Lost this week: 2.8 pounds
Total lost: 3.2 pounds (56.8 to go)
Goals for next week:-E
-Exercise at least 3 days
-Drink more water
-Eat more fruit and veggies

Healthy Favorites:
-Thomas' Light Multi-grain English muffin-1pt, 8 g fiber
-Egg Beater's- 1pt for 1/2 cup
-Laughing Cow light Babybel Cheese-1 pt
All together for a yummy breakfast sandwich and a good way to change up my yogurt and go lean parfait in the morning.

I STILL haven't had time yet to add all the other Future MILFs to my blogroll individually but you can click on the Future MILF link to go over to Mom-o-matic and check in. A shout out to all of the Future MILFs, hope you were a real loser this week!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's January...time to plan the rest of your life

So its January, what does that mean in the life of a suburban working Mom? Summer camp and preschool hell! So, in January I am supposed to figure out where to send the girls every week during the summer, if I am lucky I can hook up with some of PDQs friends so that they can be together. They give you a huge grid and you try to piece together fun and excitement for the summer, which also means that the vacation must be coordinated with the parents and sister as well as the summer visit to Grandma and Grandma. Its January and they expect me to plan AND PAY FOR things that happen in June, July and August. I am lucky to keep my act together from week to week, planning six months in advance and putting down cold hard cash with a penalty if I change my mind causes palpitations. Who knows if they will even still like the same kids 6 months from now. How do I get the amazing Miss Lois to commit to her week of vacation now so I don't end up paying more weeks of double than possible? Why do I let the people around me (and okay, I'll admit it me too!) drive me nuts, really the girls could go to daycare all summer but when there are 50 fun camp options and everyone else is doing it I feel like I must follow. Is this the beginning of entitlement? Are my girls going to end up on My Super Sweet Sixteen (read about it here from Dad Gone Mad) because I plan for a fun and exciting summer of camp, six months in advance?

Actually, compared to the hell of figuring out what to do with Boobah next year, the camp thing is a big, huge piece of cheesecake (oops, sorry that's Sugar Mama talking). I have been torurtured about Boobah's school experiences pretty much since the day I learned my due date--September 13. In MD the age to start school used to be December 31, but slowly they have brought it back to September 1 beginning this year, when she entered preschool and it trickles all the way down there. I had a planned c-section with Boobah and couldn't convince my doctor to schedule it until after Labor Day, at least if she was born in August I'd have choices, she could go or not go to school when she was 5, we could wait and see. But no, her birthday is September stinking 3rd. The school system does have a testing program to determine whether they will allow early entrance, we'll probably give it a try but from what I've heard they basically need to be ready for 1st grade to be allowed the privilege. I do not want to push her into something she is not ready for, but I also know that not enough structure is a dangerous thing for her! She gets in trouble because she is smart enough to figure out how to get in and out of almost anything. So, that leaves us looking for what will probably be a very expensive solution. And do I get what I pay for?

This year she couldn't go to the preschool we loved because she missed the freaking cut off date by 3 days and they would make no exceptions. We were thrilled to get her into a class for 2.5 year olds at a school that friends raved about--she loves it. Me not so much, at least, I don't like what it does to my life. With PDQ G-man and I shared transportation duty and the preschool was practically within spitting distance of the office and home, it was slightly inconvenient but not a huge deal. Now, its a 10-15 minute drive at lunch time to pick her up, drive back through traffic, drop her off at daycare and then back to the office. I don't get anything done and its a real trial to schedule around. I have great friends who've been happy to help me out in a bind but I hate to ask too often.

So, I've decided that next year, I will officially surrender my "I'm a working mom but I can do the cool half-day preschool badge by making my life miserable" badge and find an all day option two or three days a week (because I want the amazing Miss Lois to continue to work her laid back magic at least some of the time). There is a Montessori school right near our house that I'd heard good things about, I got the information and was all ready to go visit and plunk down my deposit--for NINE months from now! Then I talked to her current preschool teacher--she very nervously tells me she wouldn't send her child there, she's worked there and its just not good. So, in my effort to continue collecting advice I ask PDQs Kindergarten teacher about it today, her words "Oh God, as her potential Kindergarten teacher PLEASE don't do that to me!" Her perspective was that in Montessori they teach kids that they are in charge. If there is one thing Boobah DOES-NOT-NEED it is to think she is more in charge that she already does. So, back to the preschool drawing board...the first open house is Saturday and they are pretty much over February 3. Please let it not be the hell I've created in my mind. Please?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And now, with pictures...

Making the cookies

Quality Control

Probably not what Dr. King would have expected

The girls went to daycare yesterday so that Scott could complete some projects around the house while I was at work. If you want to read his adventures in drywall, you can check him out here. I picked them up afterwards, they were thrilled to have spent the day with the worlds most laid back daycare provider. On the way home PDQ said that since it was a holiday we needed to make a special dessert when we got home. I asked what she had in mind, her response--something from my cookbook. Her cookbook would be the Pink Princess Cookbook (complete with flowers dotting those i's). I laughed to myself thinking its probably not how Dr. King would have spent his birthday but she knew it was something to be celebrated.

So, we got out the Pink Princess Cookbook and I told her we could make whatever she wanted as long as we had all of the ingredients. She choose the Totally-Tea-Cake Cookies (again, giggling to myself). We rounded up all the ingredients and set to work on making cookies. (I slipped in whole wheat flour to work on my own whole grain resolutions for the year). As we worked I asked her what she had learned about Dr. King. She thought a moment and said he was just like Pastor Marilyn. I agreed with her, he was a minister and he told lots of people important things. I told her about the back of the bus, separate seating areas, bathrooms and water fountains. The look of disbelief on her face was priceless. She said to me that is silly. I told her I couldn't agree more. So I have to thank Dr. King for providing me with yet another teachable moment for my 3 & 5 year olds--obviously his legacy is one that lasts.

Totally-Tea-Cake Cookies
from the Pink Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery

1/2 c butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter in lg mixing bowl. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture, blending well. Dough will be very stiff.
Divide dough into thirds. Roll each portion 1/8" thick on lightly floured work area. Cut with assorted cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Frost and decorate as desired.

They give a frosting recipe that includes meringue powder. I used powdered sugar, a bit of vanilla and water to the right consistency, we dipped them in and then used sprinkles to decorate.

If I can convince Scott to download the pictures off his camera, I'll share later!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Make New Friends and Keep the Old

An old friend came to visit this weekend and it reminded me of a song I learned in my brief stint in the girl scouts--Make New Friends and Keep the Old (one is silver and the other gold). Believe me, you are glad you can't hear me sing it! It made me realize that its been 13 years since I went to work at Kent State as a residence hall director. The people I worked with those four years are some that I am still close to today. Most of us have moved on, I keep in close contact with 2-3 and during the year hear from many of the others. When we worked together we were all single, some were finishing master's degrees, others were working on doctorates, and others were just recovering from one or the other. We worked hard and partied harder. Life as a "grown up" living on a college campus is a strange one, you aren't a student but somehow the real world doesn't seem to fit given the hours you work and the sometimes bizarre situations you find yourself thrown into (which I will write more about in the future--because someone has to!). We were much more than colleagues, we shared a world that few outside of it could really understand and became friends and confidants. Not that long ago we got together during the summer, there were lots of significant others and a few kids thrown into the mix but we played a mean game of "remember when..." the McSweeney 5, PITA, "Apple Hall is not a shithole."

So, 9 years after leaving that world I am married and have 2 kids and 2 stepkids, am living in my own house in the suburbs and working oustide the ivory tower in a job that I stumbled as a temp into while looking for work in my field. I stopped out of the PhD program I was in with half the coursework done and have never returned. Some days I miss university life. My friend, moved on from her days in the residence halls to a job in law enforcement (she carries a gun!) at a huge state school and has finished all the coursework for her PhD. She is single and an intrepid traveler, having gone to England and Scotland last year and returning this year for 7 weeks to do research to finish her degree. Our lives are very different today but spending time with her reminded me of all the good times and why it is good to hang onto the old while you find the new. She remembers me when I was Heather, long before I was Abby & Ellie's Mom and it felt good. I wouldn't trade my life now for anything but its good to remember what was and what other paths might have been taken.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Okay, I will admit it, I've become a bit of a snob. Last night was a reintroduction to my good old Midwestern roots--I went to support a friends Mothers of Multiples group and play bingo. I haven't played bingo in probably 15 years (unless you could Hanukkah bingo with PDQs Kindergarten class). I do believe the last time was on a cruise ship with my mother and sister somewhere in the Carribean. Before that it was at the neighborhood ice cream social with my grandmother.

Last night I was obviously out of my element. The Ravens are in the playoffs this weekend and play the Colts, the team who in 1984 pulled out of town in the middle of the night. I really have little sympathy, I grew up a Browns fan and where did the Ravens come from, Art Modell pulled them out of Cleveland (can you tell I've heard enough Colts whining this week?!) Okay, back to my point, all week they'd been encouraging people to wear purple, I was in the vast minority in the room without a stitch of purple. We were also under prepared--many of the women had fancy bags to carry their bingo daubers. We had purchased on a piece at the door. They had characters on them, we had a long discussion about where exactly it is that you buy a bingo dauber. We bought food at the snack bar, they brought elaborate snacks in fancy baskets--obviously this was their world and we were visitors. They played as many as 8 strips of cards at a time, we could barely keep up with 2 (I opted for one except for the ones with a really good prize!).

I think I had as much fun watching the Baltimore hons play bingo as I did the thrill that I might win something, anything. There were some great Longaberger basket, Pampered Chef and Southern Living at Home goodies as prizes. Its nice to have a relaxing evening with the girls, doing something that requires little thought or effort. Unfortunately no one at our table won anything, rarely did we even get close. We were amateurs and it showed!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Future MILF Weigh-In: Week 1

Well, if I had really tried this week I would be discouraged with my .4 pound loss. But I didn't. Mom-o-matic introduced her inner food ho this week and I knew immediately what to call mine-- Sugar Mama. The bitch had a serious hold on me this week. A little chocolate here, a little chocolate there and the HUGE freaking pan of brownies I made for dessert when we had company and no one ate, top it off with Sundae night at Logos and it was a pretty disasterous week diet wise. No one else to blame, I just need to get Sugar Mama under control and for next week that may mean no sugar at all. Generally I don't do well with the ultra restrictive but in order to get Sugar Mama under control this week I really have no choice! A little exercise would help too, between my gallbladder surgery and my back I have been pretty much a bump on a log!

To read the story of a cookie addict who is far more eloquent than I could ever be, go over and check out Mitzi's story here. My drug of choice this week was the Hershey kiss.

Goal for 2007: 60 pounds
Lost this week: .4 pounds
Pounds to goal: 59.6 pounds

Goals for next week:
-Exercise at least 3 days
-Write down everything that goes in my mouth
-Limit my sugar consumption

Healthy Favorites:
-Kashi Granola bars, especially the Trail Mix ones (2 pts)
-Colombo Yogurt (2 pts for 8 oz) with 1/4 cup Kashi Go Lean Crunch (.5 pts for 1.4 cup)

I haven't had time yet to add all the other Future MILFs to my blogroll individually but you can click on the Future MILF link to go over to Mom-o-matic and check in. A shout out to all of the Future MILFs, hope you kept your inner food ho at bay this week!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Spoke Too Soon

I felt better, really I did...then I woke up this morning!

It was my late day, I slept until 7:40 this morning and woke up on my own rather than the buzz of the alarm or that creepy feeling that someone is staring at me. My back hurt a little bit. I got in a steamy shower but no matter how hot the water the nagging ache in my back wouldn't go away. I found the ibuprofen and hoped they would help. I struggled into my clothes. I managed to brush teeth and do the girls' hair with a minimum of movement...okay, maybe the day wouldn't be so bad. On the way out the door I picked up my laptop bag and THOUGHT I WOULD DIE. I managed to drag it to the car and get everyone buckled. All I really wanted was another hot shower and to lay down in my bed with a bit of pharmaceutical intervention--big meeting, no chance that was happening.

I struggled through the morning, trying to make sure I was prepared for the meeting and worried about whether or not I'd be able to stand up to lead it. I had a grand plan to go out and find one of those hot patch thingies. Then I started a conversation about the big meeting with an executive and couldn't pull myself away. Ran to preschool, another meeting, and another dose of ibuprofen. I felt almost normal--if normal is a twinge here and there while trying to get a room full of highly paid people to admit we have a big freaking problem and focus them enough to figure out what the heck to do it about it. We didn't get that far in 2 hours, need follow-up meetings, lots of them. Back feels quite a bit better, was it the ibuprofen or was it just built up stress that was causing the pain.

Some days I go to meetings at work and wonder if I am a fraud. Do I really know what I am doing? Do I really know enough to make decisions that could impact our business? I wonder how in the hell I ended up where I am--I have a degree in education, I used to live with college freshmen settling fights between roommates over cohabitation and going into rooms late at night with the police to bust people smoking pot. I go into meetings like today and am in awe that people with lofty titles and big salaries let me lead them through difficult discussions and cut them off when they wander far afield. Then I get in my groove and in two sentences I pull out of the air the point that three people just spent twenty minutes trying to make. Why is it called common sense? It isn't so common and people just seem to gravitate towards it if its offered up. Maybe I should depend on it a bit more often and like with health issues, spend less time worrying about whether I should be there and if I can do it and more time embracing it and believing I know what I am doing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Maven Says...stay tuned for product reviews

A degree in marketing, working in media reserach and now I have an offer that I just can't resist! I am excited to announce that I have joined the Parent Bloggers Network. My PIM Julie and Kristen have started the Parent Bloggers Network to provide feedback to companies from parent bloggers. I'll be labeling those posts as "Maven Says..." Its exactly the kind of thing this Maven lives for, free stuff to try out and the opportunity to tell everyone about it!

I love trying new things and either sharing my opinion, as a kid my mother said I had to take every public restroom for a spin and then give my critique of the facilites, usually embrrassing someone in the process--hey, I had high standards! If I try something and like it (Tide pen) or hate it (customer service at Zales, Verizon or Comcast) I'll let you all know with plenty of gory detail to help you make up your own mind.

So, the network is just getting started so stay tuned for the Maven Says!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tuesday Random Thoughts

Go Bucks?
So, you'd think if you win ever game all season and are in the National Championship game you'd at least show up--wouldn't you?! After G-man and I high-fived over Ted Ginn running back the opening kick off for a tocuhdown it was all f-bombs from there. I screamed and yelled at the TV and the players. He was amused by my ranting and raving and speculating that my Mother was acting the same way.

I feel good
Other than slightly sore abs and a few ratty looking stitches I have recovered from the gallbladder surgery from hell. Last night it hit me, this is the first time I've really felt good in over a year. What a waste of my life over fear. I did go to the doctor to find out what was wrong when I started feeling bad, when he assured me that lots of people had gallstones and told me to try and eat a low fat diet to see how much it would help I was all for it. There must have been 5 or 6 times when I was in discomfort for weeks when I was ready to call but then started feeling better. Why the hell did I wait? Fear, plain and simple. We had an administrative assistant who went to have her gallbladder removed and never came back. They nicked her liver during the surgery and she ignored how bad she felt. She went into a coma and died a few months later. It was a little easier living with the discomfort when I had that alternative in my head. So, in the new year I am going to try and take better care of myself, listen to my body and take care of things more quickly.

Just gotta say, I love Netflix. I bet G-man and I hadn't seen 10 movies in the last 7 years and now we've probably watched that many in the last 6 weeks. The best part, he hasn't updated the queue so they are all my picks! We pretty much hate what the other likes on TV--me FoodTV and chef/design reality shows and him SciFi so its been nice to stop watching the junk and watch something together that might not be stellar but at least gives us something to talk about to each other and join the rest of the free world who seems to have already seen them and make reference to them. We watched The Notebook on Sunday night, I thought it was a sweet movie which G-man declared to be a weird chick flick you can read his take on it here. The funniest thing was the next morning seeing this on Dooce.

Okay, enough rambling for the morning!

Monday, January 8, 2007

The week is off to a rip roarin' start

After weeks of fighting with the girls about getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning we instituted a new rule. For every extra time Mommy has to ask you to get dressed, you go to bed five minutes earlier that night. For PDQ I think its totally appropriate, for Boobah at 3 I can cut her some slack. So this morning, I reminded them of THE NEW RULE, gave them their clothes and started us on our merry Monday morning way. So as to avoid the fight with Boobah I got her dressed, she wanted nothing of it. She wanted to leave on her Elmo jammies, I might have let her but she was already dressed! She screamed in my room, screamed naked on the toilet and finally I brokered a deal--if you stop screaming and put your clothes back on I will let you take your jammies with you. The screaming stopped, the teeth got brushed and we almost made it out the door when she remembered the jammies (which I had in hand). She went to the van, got the daycare bag and since the jammies hadn't magically transported themselves there we had more tears. That one was settled quickly and we were on our way--only 20 minutes behind schedule. So, my day with grown ups has to get better, right? RIGHT?

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Go Bucks!

Growing up in Ohio every Saturday afternoon in the Fall meant we watched football, Ohio State football. It is a bit of a cult, its what everyone does whether they have a connection to the unviersity or not. As you can see in the photo below, the girls were decked out in Buckeye wear from the day they were born (thanks Renee!) G-man is not a big sports fan but even he has gotten a bit of Buckeye fever making sure he has the proper attire. He took 3 year old Boobah out the morning of the Ohio State/Michigan game (THE game if you are from either of those states). There was a man in an Ohio State hat in front of him in line and he asked her what it was, first she said "zero" but then he reminded her it was O for Ohio State she replied--"Go Bucks!" Someone behind him then unzipped her coat to reveal scarlet and gray. I am always amazed that here in the land of the Terp there are lots of Buckeye fans.

Tomorrow the whole family will be decked out in Scarlet and Gray and the grown ups will be staying up entirely too late to watch them claim another National Championship and even if they don't we'll still love them and start counting down to the next game that counts Saturday, November 17, 2007.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Back to the diet

Made it back to work, now time to make it back to eating things that aren't going to kill me. I was doing so well before the having my gallbladderout--there is certainly some added incentive knowing that fat and just plain too much food are going to make you miserable. I followed links from Jennie and Gretchen over to Mom-0-matic and joined the future MILF challenge figuring that having people to report into was the kind of incentive I need.

I lost just shy of 100 pounds after my first pregnancy, it is amazing what gestational diabetes and HELLP syndrome will do to your attitude about living. Princess Drama Queen and I logged a lot of miles walking around the lake near our house. I was a very faithful Weight Watchers online participant and at the time was amazed how easy it was compared to other times I'd tried to lose weight. That was 4 years ago, I took my second pregnancy as license to eat and eat I did. Since then I held tight down about 50 pounds, then there was the real estate hell that was last summer. I stress ate my way through the entire summer to find myself up 10 more pounds and not fitting into any of my clothes. Before Christmas I managed to lose those 10 pounds but seem to have found 4.5 of them again.

So my future MILF goal is to lose 5 pounds a month this year and get rid of 60 pesky pounds, I've done it before, I know I can do it again. I am going to do Weight Watchers online, keeping track of what I am eating seems to be what I need. Exercise is the other thing, I had my groove going before and hopefully next week I will feel well enough to get back to it.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Back to the grind

I came back to work on Wednesday. By the time I had convinced the girls to get dressed, taken a shower, debated on which pants would hurt the least to button, and gave everyone the appropriate bags, coats and hats I had worked up a sweat. I knew it would be the most difficult part of my day!

I got to work, it was really good to see people again, all in all they are a great bunch of people. I went to a meeting, then our division had our holiday lunch, I spent most of both fidgeting. There is one teeny, tiny stitch that sits right where my pants hit, I felt like my 5 y.o. who is always ready to burst out of her chair to do anything at a nanosecond notice. Thank goodness no one asked me any hard questions or anything I really had to think about, while I thought I was quite witty, my ability to actually make sense of things was pretty limited Probably should have ended the day early and gone home to bed. I did go home a bit early but we'd plan Let's Dish night awhile back and it was the first chance to see my IRL friends in about a month. It was fun but exhausting and bless them all for pitching in to help me finish up--did I mention I am waaaaaaaay slower than normal?

Yesterday was a bit better, I actually went to meetings, spoke in complete sentences and had an executive tell me something was a really good idea-whew! I found a velveteen skirt with an elastic wasit band that might look a bit too Christmas party like but at least I don't act like I have ants in my pants. Last night though I couldn't bear the thought of doing much of anything, we had a quick supper, I laid in bed and finished the scarf that G-man made so much fun of, read to the girls and watched mindless TV.

Today is Friday, finally. Same skirt, we have interviews today so I didn't think the sweatpants would fly. Miss Betty the cleaning goddess is coming today. I'd love to see her face when she finds out that G-man destroyed the great pit of nothingness beside our dresser and replaced it with the rocking chair. Can't wait to see what new hiding place she finds in giving our house a facade of order!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Grown Up Furniture Doesn't Make You A Grown Up

When G-man and I moved in together we had a mishmash of hand me down and put it together yourself furniture--I'd spent 7 years as a residence hall director living in furnished apartments and he'd come out of his divorce with his clothes and his telescope. Over the past seven years we've bought pieces here and there, conversations that went something like--

Me: Oh I love that that beautiful light tan couch
Him: We're having a baby, we need a pattern that won't show throw up

Me: What do you think of this?
Him: I don't think jumping on it will hurt

We moved into our new house and over the past 6 months we've added new things and repurposed the old. For the first time ever we have a dining room, we wanted nice furniture to put into it. Our style we had decided was contempory but not of the stark and cold--more Pottery Barn and we could order something from there but it would cost a THOUSAND dollars to have it shipped. No freaking way, that's like tossing money to the wind! We drove all over the Baltimore area, we searched the web and finally we resorted to a local furniture store where we could build our own table, pick out the legs, the finish, the table top, the apron (who knew?!), and the fabric on the chairs. We plunked down a deposit and started the 8 week wait for it to arrive.

Last Wednesday, after 10 long weeks of waiting the table and chairs arrived. I went down to take a look, we all sat at the table. It was the moment of truth, the bright blue d-ring could finally be removed and the chandelier could hang over the table. G-man pulled out a chair and started to climb up on it, a great vortex was created by my mother and I as we sucked all the air out of the room before we screamed STOP in stereo. He looked at us and said "what?" After recovering I suggested we eat dinner on it that night since there would be 7 of us my mother told us we needed to wait until we got a table pad-not being in any shape to argue, I let it go. I can't believe we have a piece of furniture in our house that we are actually worried about using!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wow, where did 2006 go? Our friend Suzanne says when your kids are little the days never seem to end but the years fly by. It is too true!

It was a real year of transition here:
  • I had LASIK in January last year and for the first time since second grade could see without glasses. What an amazing change for the better.
  • In March Abby turned 5 and we went with my parents to Disney to celebrate--our first trip there as a family and the very first time for Grandma, Grandpa and the girls.
  • After coming back from the trip we decided it was time to move and put the house into what had been a red hot market-while we looked at houses it cooled considerably. We found the house in the beginning of May but didn't close until the end of June, plenty of time to sell our cute house-WRONG! Finally our old house closed at the end of August and we could all sleep again (we hoped). We love our new neighborhood and have felt incredibly welcome but man its hard to start over.
  • Abby started Kindergarten and has loved every minute of it and oh, the stories she tells! I have been volunteering in her classroom and glad the only stories being told are on our side and not about us!
  • Ellie started preschool, she misses the birthday cut off by two days but thankfully we found a school that had a class for kids with Sept, Oct, Nov birthdays and it has been a perfect fit (other than the fact she won't use their bathroom-she says it stinks!)
  • Eldest stepson, the senior, made his first real appearance back into our lives in about two years. He's grown up and turned into someone I want to have around, his sisters are thrilled to have him back too.
  • G-man started a new job where he works M-F and gets the weekends off. It took a little adjusting for all of us, no more six days off for him and no more weekends of just the girls but all in all its been a great change!
  • I got a promotion at the beginning of the year, basically doing the same job but more strategically which has been a struggle at times--I love the details!
  • G-man's sister announced she's getting married in the new year!

There were struggles:

  • G-man's grandmother passed away
  • My grandmother had a stroke on Thanksgiving weekend and is in rehab, they hope to send her home next week but she's lost a lot of mobility and independence. It has made me reflect on her life and the wonderful times we had celebrating with all of us in her teeny tiny house that definitely represents family and good times for me.
  • The separation of our good friends. Although I think in the long run its the best thing for both of them its hard to watch the pain and struggling in a family we've been so close to.
  • Now that the gallbladder surgery is over I wonder why I waited so long, the recovery hasn't been so bad (thanks Mom, Dad & G-man) and it makes me wish that I'd taken care of it sooner, it would have eliminated a lot of needless pain and grumpiness.
  • The stress-between the house, my not feeling well and our inability to sleep we struggled a lot this year--with being nice to each other, with cutting each other some slack, and in general acting like married people and parents should.

So, here we are in 2007 and I want to take back control of my life--my weight which has crept up again, my family life where we need routine and time for just us, my spiritual life which would be noexistent if not for the wonderful church family who makes us feel like we belong here, and my life with g-man where we can rediscover the fun and romance that shows up occasionally but not nearly often enough.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to all of you!