Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feeling Nostalgic

I am really starting to see blogs as modern day baby books and wishing more and more that we had started ours back before Z was born. Why? So I could more easily look back at photos like this one at eight months (where it looks like we pasted his big head onto that little body):

Or this one at at almost three months old, bursting with baby fat and sleeping:

Or this one at seven months, which doesn't even look like Z (sorry for the one-piece sweater outfit by the way. Not sure what that was about):

Or this one, at 15 months, using the baby sign for "help," which his daycare providers said he used all too often.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

People Magazine

It's my guilty pleasure. What makes it a lot less guilty is that my husband got me the subscription a year or so ago because he wanted me to stop reading parenting magazines and other non-fiction (although one can certainly argue whether or not everything in mainstream parenting mags is fiction or non-fiction). Either way, I guess you can say that he wanted me to lighten-up a bit.

(Why am I posting my mail? Thank the never-ending NaBloPoMo of April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Brain, Child

When I first heard it, I thought Brain, Child was a strange title for a magazine. On the "About" page of their website, the founders try to explain what motivated them to start the publication:

There were plenty of outlets for child-rearing tips and expert advice, but not a source of smart writing that delved into the meatier issues of that life-altering experience: motherhood.

And this, from their "Mission Statement" page:

We aim to be down-to-earth, literary, commonsensical, neither too establishment nor too crunchy, funny, poignant, honest, respectful, irreverent, relevant, intelligent. We don't have any particular agenda, except to support thought and debate on topics of interest to mothers.

It's worth every penny to me and has become a favorite gift to give as well.

(This post brought to you as part of the never-ending NaBloPoMo, April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Can Make a Parent Want to Bury Her Head in the Sand

Some of Zander's (seemingly endless) questions from the last four days:

What is winking for?

How is fire born?

When will I see Princess Anika and that boy from the airport again? [Princess Anika was a little girl that we met with her mom in Costco and the boy from the airport was a child Z's age who we met, yup you guessed it, in the airport.]

Why do you keep stuff under your bed?

Can Earth fit Florida? [I didn't say they all made sense.]

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sugar Sand Park

(I promise that this is the last post about our 3.5-day trip to Florida.)

But, while in Florida, we went to a place called Sugar Sand Park. Hadn't been there before and didn't know what to expect, but I liked the sound of it since it:

a) opened at 8:00am (not that I am a fan of being out of a comfy bed at 8:00am, but Zander is usually up by 7:00am, so it's nice to have someplace to go with him);

b) had a large, shaded playground area;

c) had a science "explorium;"

d) had a carousel; and

e) was free to enter.

The place did not disappoint. The first video is from one of the explorium rooms, where Z would turn a crank of sorts and the energy it generated would make a train move around the room. Zander could have stayed there all day. The second clip is of a section of the outdoor play area where water sporadically shoots out.

And here are some still photos of part of the massive playground. Children were able to go into the big head, including the mouth and teeth area. (Zander was afraid, so I went in with him. It smelled, um, unfortunate.) When we got home, Zander told Grandpa Mickey all about the park and said it included a "smelly, bite-y area." Couldn't have said it better myself.

All in all, if you're in the area (we were about 25 minutes away), worth the trip.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Classic

Here's the scene: While in South Florida for Passover last weekend, I had gone out to run a quick errand and left my mom (Grandma Susan) in charge of the video camera. She captures a classic clip of the first pitch of a pretend baseball game between my father (Grandpa Mickey) and Zander.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One I wish he would forget

One often hears about parents amazed at their child's memory. This is certainly true for us with Zander, although it's hard to know what and when he will remember things. Truth be told, I was hoping assuming he forgot this one...

About a year and a half ago, Z and I took a trip to visit my folks in South Florida, sans Brad. It was my first time traveling alone with a child and I was a bit nervous. The flight there went fine and I was feeling like maybe -- just maybe -- I could really do this mother thing. (Actually, seems I have amnesia. I now recall that I left the car seat, which I had in a special carrier on my back, at security. I was strolling Z down to the terminal and I heard over the loudspeaker, "Will the passenger who left a car seat, please return to the security area.")

The Unforgettable Mistake
Regardless, on the way back, we got to the airport at least two hours early, but there was a big back-up at the check-in area, and they had to keep pulling passengers from the line to get them checked-in in time. Eventually, this made us late, and we had to be pulled both to check-in and to get through security in time.

I rushed down to the gate, saw a huge crowd around the entrance to the jet way, and pushed myself and Z through. (This was when those flying with children got to pre-board.) People were surprisingly unyielding, but I quite confidently said, "I have a child. I get to pre-board." One woman looked at me, turned around pointing to her THREE children and said, "So do we!" Oops.

Anyway, I get us on to the plane, install the car seat, and take out the sandwiches that Grandma Susan had made us for the flight. We start our picnic and the other passengers are boarding. After just a few minutes, a woman comes down and says that she has the very same seats that Z and I are sitting in. Well, I'm sure *I* didn't make a mistake, so we call over a flight attendant and she looks at our boarding passes. Sure enough, we both have the same seats, but I HAD BOARDED THE WRONG PLANE!

Not 100% My Fault
Truth be told, this was not 100% my fault. The two gates were right next to each other. The plane I boarded said "Washington National." The plane I was supposed to have boarded said, "Buffalo," which was the final destination of our actual flight. The flight I had boarded was delayed and it made the departure time just a few minutes different from our actual flight time.

So, I told Zander, "We're on the wrong plane honey. We need to get off." I had to pack-up the lunches, uninstall the car seat, and the flight crew had to stop boarding all of the other passengers. Can you imagine? If you're ever boarded a plane, you know what havoc boarding can be. Meanwhile poor Zander is crying, "It's not the wrong plane! It's not the wrong plane!" Truth be told, that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking.

We eventually make it off the wrong plane and had to wait for them to get the stroller from underneath. We eventually proceeded to the gate right next door, but of course, we don't have our boarding passes, because they were taken when we boarded the first plane. I let the Jet Blue staff deal with that problem and eventually got us all settled on the correct flight.

Why I'm Telling You Now
Back when this first happened, I seriously considered keeping the entire ordeal to myself. After all, who would really know? I decided against it and told Brad, among others. And now here I am, telling the internet.


Because, on every flight since then, including our most recent, Zander inevitably says something like, "Mom, remember when we got on the wrong plane?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Knock on Wood

Overall, Brad and I are continually amazed with what a great traveler Zander has become. This trip to Florida for Passover was something like his 16th plane flight. The trips have all gone pretty smoothly, with the exception of one minor mistake I made over a year ago, which I will elaborate on in the next day or so. In the meantime, here are some photos of Zander and me playing with the digital camera and hamming it up during our flight back to Dulles on Sunday (anything to keep him occupied). (FYI, Brad took a different flight because we made his reservations at a later date.)

Now, knock on wood -- fast!

P.S. Each time we fly, Zander takes an interest in the airline itself. This trip we were on Jet Blue. Z kept asking, "But mommy, WHY isn't there a Jet Red or a Jet Yellow?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boils! Hail! Lice! Darkness!

This is a "Hail" mask:

Let me explain. As part of Passover celebration, Jews typically recount the story of our exodus from slavery in Egypt (where Moses eventually parts the Red Sea). But before being allowed to leave, Moses (working with God, of course) brings ten plagues to the land of Egypt in an effort to convince the Pharoah to let the Jews leave. "Hail" is one of the plagues. Did you get all that? If you did, uh oh, now you're Jewish. Kidding.

Anyway, in an effort to make the seder fun for Zander, my mom picked up a full set of plague masks from her local grocery store. (In South Florida, Passover is BIG and they sell plague paraphernalia in the grocery stores.)

Zander loooooves his "Hail" mask. He wore it before the seder, during the seder, the following morning, before boarding the plane, while napping on the plane, etc. Here is a photo from the flight back:

And below are a few other photos from the seder.

My great Uncle Henry (92 years old) sporting his "Cattle Plague" mask:

My great Aunt Nettie showing off her "Lice" mask:

And my good 'ole gentile husband joining the fun with "Boils:"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Know how low NaBloPoMo can go? No?

This is Brad.

So this blog drug has taken over my life wife.

Her actual time blogging was less a telltale than the time she spent thinking about blogging in between blog binges (heretofore known as blinges). Jill's blinges got her introduced to a new blog cult NaBloPoMo. I think the name is Native American in origin but for days I had it confused with the NoBloBrad cult since the intended result seems the same.

Am I ranting? Is this a kvetch you ask? Nope, Jill’s tired and I’m being the good enabler husband that I am…

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Surveillance update

Remember "Operation: Find-Out-Who-is-Peeing-on-Our-Newspaper?" Well, I thought it time for update, so here is a short video clip. It's riveting.

Obviously, I was kidding about the riveting part. And what does this show?

a) That we live on a pretty quiet street; and/or

b) That the perpetrator is onto us.

Truth is, we have three suspects:

1) An eccentric elderly woman whom we're not even sure knows she is walking her dog. Last time Brad ran into her she was walking the dog and it pooped right there at the foot of our driveway. She did not clean it up. Other than that, she's really quite nice.

2) The neighbor's teenage son who looks away from us whenever he sees us. (Although this could be because I am so hot it makes him uncomfortable.)

3) A nice gentleman who is so engrossed in reading his own newspaper that he probably wouldn't notice if his dog decided ours was his own personal fire hydrant.

So there you have it. Since we've set up, there haven't been any additional pee incidents and we're tired of watching boring video.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More Bad (and Old) Passover and Jewish Jokes

JEWISH JEOPARDY: We give the answer, you give the question.

A: Midrash
Q: What is a Middle East skin disease?

A: A classroom, a Passover ceremony, and a latke
Q: What are a cheder, a seder, and a tater?

A: Sofer
Q: On what do Jews recline on Passover?

A: Babylon
Q: What does the rabbi do during some sermons?

A: Filet Minyan
Q: What do you call steaks ordered by 10 Jews?

A: Kishka, sukkah, and circumcision
Q: What are a gut, a hut, and a cut?

And speaking of circumcisions: An enterprising Rabbi is offering circumcisions via the Internet. The service is to be called..."E-MOIL."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bad (and Old) Passover and Jewish Jokes: Part I

In honor of Passover, which starts at sundown tomorrow. Plus, we're in sunny South Florida for the holiday, so it seems especially appropriate.

FYI, I did not make these up. I've been holding onto them for years in my "humor" file. (Yes, I have a file and it has a nice little printed label.) Enjoy, but don't say I didn't warn you.


A group of leading medical researchers have published data indicating that Seder participants should NOT partake of both chopped liver and charoses. It seems that this combination can lead to Charoses of the Liver.

At our seder, we had whole wheat and bran matzoh, fortified with Metamucil. The brand name, of course, is..."Let My People Go."

Old Jewish men in Miami get hernias from wearing chai's which are too heavy. This condition is called chaiatal hernia!

If a doctor carries a black bag and a plumber carries a tool box, what does a mohel carry? A bris kit!


P.S. Hmmm. Seems the blogger spellcheck doesn't recognize the term "mohel." Anti-Semites.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making up words that fit

Zander sometimes makes up perfectly fine words that seem to fit the the situation, although they are not real words according to Merriam-Webster. These are in a different -- if only subtly -- category than the "mis-speaks" mentioned in this post. It's not that he mis-hears or can't pronounce the word in question. He just uses another. Some recent examples...

At breakfast:
Me: "Want some of my cereal?"
Zander: "I'll take a snedge of these."

While playing on one of those bouncing balls (like this one):
Zander: "If I don't hold on I might plonk back."

While eating lunch:
Zander: "Is that a new gop of ketchup?" [Referring to a new, differently-shaped bottle].

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Barista

Let me tell you about my barista. It sounds cheesy to say that, I realize. But she really does make me feel special.

It all started when we moved from Burke to McLean less than a year ago. I was afraid I would never find the kind of Starbucks community in our new neighborhood that I had come to enjoy in Burke. Alas, just a few months ago in the nearby Giant grocery store, I ran into the young woman who is usually behind the counter at the local Starbucks. She came over to me, pointed and asked, "Venti, one-percent, no-foam latte?" My heart fluttered a bit.

Soon after, she asked me my name. (Hers is Kathryn.) And now my drink is usually waiting for me when I arrive. She sees me coming from the parking lot and starts to make it. It (the drink) usually has my name on it. Now come on, that's service!

(Recently, however, I've been trying to switch to a smaller, less caloric version of my old stand-by, but she keeps making me those giant drinks and I don't want to hurt her feelings, so I keep buying and drinking them.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Circus Medley

We went to a surprisingly anti-climatic circus on Sunday evening. (I realize that the circus can be controversial. See recent Washington Post article here.) There was no strong-man, no motorcycles in small cages, etc. It was more like Cirque de Soleil with some elephants thrown in, but not as polished. Zander had a fine time, so I guess that is what matters.

However, as I was looking for the link to the Post article mentioned above, I found this letter to the editor instead, which talks about bleeding elephants and now? Now, I feel justified in (probably illegally) videotaping parts to post here. I'll show them...

(Okay, so after I cut the video, I realized it wasn't as anti-climactic as I had thought. Maybe I'm just jaded.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Should be cake

Here's a photo of Aunt Janet and Zander reading one of those Look and Find books over the weekend. This is the same Aunt Janet who is carb-loading this week to prepare for next Monday's Boston Marathon. No worries, it's her 9,032nd marathon. Should be cake.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thinking too much

Me, not Zander.

From this photo, you can't tell that for the hour before soccer class and for a good part of the class itself, Z is saying he is too tired (or too hungry or too sick or whatever) to participate. The same scenario played out last week when Brad took him as well. He seems to feel that he needs to know how to do something BEFORE trying it, which as you can imagine, makes trying anything a catch-22.

When he does venture out and take a turn, he does great (although we don't want to emphasize that too much because then the emphasis is on the outcome -- not the trying). The challenge, for me at least, is how to support Z without enabling or pushing, both of which I have been known to do. I don't care if he decides he doesn't care for soccer or gymnastics or sushi for that matter, but I do want him to try, to believe in himself and that he can do it (instead of starting from the opposite place). Sigh.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


While I'm talking about coupons, here's another one we regularly get in the mail for a gourmet grocery store called Balducci's. We live dangerously close. Let's just say I feel guilty going there (and not only because I always, always, forget the coupon). Let's also say that my Subaru Forester, full of dings and minor dents, is somewhat of an eyesore in the parking lot, usually full of luxury automobiles.

(Brought to you as part of NaBloPoMo, April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Me and My Limo Driver

Getting back in touch with some friends and contemplating the idea of going to my upcoming 20-year (gasp!) high school reunion is taking me through a host of memories I'm not so sure I want to dig up. See, for example, this photo from before my high school prom:

I'm the second from the left. I know what you're thinking, "Jill was into older guys, wasn't she?" Okay, so maybe you were actually thinking, "What was she wearing?!" Or maybe you're thinking, "So that explains it. Jill went to school with smudged faces." (I smudged the faces for obvious reasons. If you're pictured and want me to un-smudge you, just let me know. Didn't want to assume smudginess either way).

The guy standing next to me was the limo driver because my date was very late in picking me up. At the time, I remember getting pretty nervous about it. Stood up at prom! How would I survive? Wait, I didn't say that with enough gusto. HOW? WOULD? I? SURVIVE?!

Seems we were drinking something in the photo -- maybe champagne -- which might have helped ease the anxiety. (However, in hindsight, I can't imagine my parents just giving us alcohol to drink. Then again, I have been known to mis-remember things, so maybe they also gave us crack.)

Regardless, the next photo I found was actually of me AND the tardy prom date, who eventually showed up. At some point, unfortunately or fortunately, I seem to have ripped his face from the photo. Hmmm, maybe a bit passive aggressive. Or just aggressive.

And yes, that is a big gigantic bow on my butt. (Try saying that five times fast.) And as I look at these photos, I think I was thin and ridiculously tan (it was South Florida after all), although I'm sure at the time, I just knew I was overweight and ridiculously pale).

So ya see? I'm just not sure I want to relive it all.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Did you know?

Did you know that, in most cases, you can use these coupons past the expiration date?

Did you know what you can use them at Linens-N-Things and that you can use Linens-N-Things coupons at Bed, Bath, & Beyond?

Did you know that you can use up to five of these at any given time (sometimes more if your cashier is friendly).

Well, now you do! Thank my mom for the knowledge. :)

P.S. Did you also know that you can use as many coupons as you want and your husband will still tease you about using coupons as an excuse to buy things (and return things and buy them again and then get a credit and have to buy something else)?

(Brought to you as part of NaBloPoMo, April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If I were queen of the universe...

...there would be a little bell that goes off in the women's bathroom at my office when someone pees on the seat. The door would automatically stay locked until the offender cleaned it.

...from birth, all children would sleep from about 6:30pm to 8:00am, thereby allowing parents to eat dinner, have adult conversation, watch a movie, and get a good night's sleep themselves.

...oh yeah, and world peace.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Could it be something else?

It all started when Brad called me from work saying he had either skunk smell or dog pee on his shirt from picking up our newspaper. He said the smell was so bad that he went to a nearby department store and bought a new shirt for the day.

Then, a few days later he had to change shirts before he left the house because of the same issue. Finally, this weekend, he looked before he picked up the newspaper. Came into the house and said, "There are yellow droplets of dog pee on our newspaper!"

He assumed that one of our neighbors was letting their dog pee on it. I suggested maybe it was a deer and then we got a good laugh out of the ball-sy and very smart deer who would come and urinate on the same newspaper each day.

Brad set up our video camera peering out the living room window down the driveway just to see who or what is behaving so un-neighborly. This is the set-up:

This is a close-up of the video camera that we have been setting each morning for a few days now:

This is the scene that it is recording:

So far, no dog, no neighbors, no deer. Just a very quite street early in the morning. Will let you know what -- if anything -- we discover.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Punctuation Junction

Zander has developed an interest in punctuation these days. Yup, I said punctuation. And you know what, a lot like the song "Infinity" mentioned here, some of this stuff is hard to explain to an almost four-year-old.

He knows to pause at commas (which he sometimes calls "comets"). Initially, we failed to explain apostrophes which, when you think about it, look exactly like commas, only higher up. But who explains apostrophes to a preschooler? So, he was pausing whenever he saw an apostrophe.

Brad once told Z that an exclamation point is an indicator that the sentence was extra important. This has translated into Zander actually YELLING the word, sometimes the entire sentence, that precedes an exclamation point. Think: GO DOG GO! And you can bet he will correct either one of us when we don't do so.

P.S. I realize the real Schoolhouse Rock song was Conjunction Junction, but I couldn't come up with anything better for a title. It's the pressure of NaBloPoMo, what can I say?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sterile Micro-Clean* Hood Convertors* [sic]

As the communications/marketing person at my office I receive some pretty interesting (to me at least) catalogues in the mail. To date, these have included everything from library products to event planning materials to crystal awards to paper products. All well and good.

However, not sure why I got "LABshop" in the mail last week. I'm almost wondering if someone out there signed me up as a joke. Anyone?

LABshop has items such as spectrophotometers (for $18,000), EDTA, Disodium Salt Dihydrate, Solution, (a bargain at $237.35 if you can use the stuff), and the Sterile Micro-Clean* Hood, Convertors* (a case of 125 for $600.48).

Couldn't find out what the asterisk means though, which is somewhat disconcerting if you're in the market for anything "micro-clean" in the first place. And "convertor" is a unique spelling, but maybe that's how it is done in lab settings. (It's usual spelling is c-o-n-v-e-r-t-e-r.) The write-up does say that the hoods are "puncture-resistant." Phew.

(Brought to you as part of NaBloPoMo, April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Container Store: Like Porn, Only Better

It's like porn, only better. I can wander the aisles for hours and fantasize about making labels until there are no more labels to be made. How I love The Container Store. Their recent brochure just received in the mail:

(Brought to you as part of NaBloPoMo, April 2008. Theme: Letters.)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Monkey on My Back

Oh, the pressure of NaBloPoMo! I can hardly stand it.

It's only been a day since I decided to do this -- and already I have that same sinking feeling of term papers looming over me. (As much I think it would be cool to have the letters Ph.D. after my name -- a good reason to get one, no? -- I could never do so because just the thought of having something due for years stresses me out).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

NaBlo who?

I've joined something called NaBloPoMo, for reasons I'm not entirely sure yet. That is, I joined of my own free will, but it requires that I post to the blog every day. Well, not "requires." No one is going to come hunt me down if I fail to do -- except my guilt, of course. Let's note, for the record, that Brad isn't going to be thrilled about this idea, since he already teases me about spending too much time blogging.

Anyway, NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month. The NaBloPoMo folks are kind enough to provide a broad theme for the posts. This month the theme is "letters." Any kind -- anything to do with -- however one sees letters.

It occurred to me that yesterday's post already had a piece of mail in it (aka a letter of sorts) with the scanned cover of the wonderful brochure, "Protecting Yourself from Disease Carrying Insects." So -- are you sitting down? I'm going to post about a piece of our mail every day for the next month!

Not really. Fear not, oh grandparents of Zander, I will work in photos and stories of the young one and use the letter theme as a back-up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mosquitos, Ticks, and Me

Okay, so you might guess that I wouldn't be the first to sign up for a camping trip and you'd be right. In fact, one of my favorite, self-deprecating jokes comes to mind:

What's a J.A.P.'s idea of camping?
Holiday Inn.

I'm just not a big fan of bugs crawling on me, especially mosquitoes and ticks. Oh and cockroaches too. (Recall that I grew up in South Florida, where those buggers, also called Palmetto Bugs, fly. Really.)

I am a mosquito magnet. No matter what type of repellent I put on, they find me and they bite me. And then my job, which I do better than almost anything else in the world, is to scratch and scratch and scratch.

I only recall getting a tick once, but it still haunts me. When I was little, my dad used to take us on nature walks right to the edge of the Everglades. One fateful day, I came home and had a piece of dirt on my leg. Only it WASN'T DIRT. It had legs of it's own and it was moving while it was buried in my thigh. Ugh. Still talking about it in therapy.

So, the challenge for me is to not pass my extreme discomfort onto Zander. As I've mentioned, his preschool is wonderfully nature-based. His teacher recently asked that we be sure to check for ticks nightly since the children spend so much time in potentially tick-infested areas.

The other night he didn't want to take a bath, which I said was fine, but that we had to check him for ticks. I did my best to make them sound benign -- likened them to mosquitoes -- and said "everybody gets them" at one time or another. We did some internet research and looked at photos. So far so good, although he had a small boo-boo on his toe that he kept telling me was a tick.

This post was brought to you by the Disease Carrying Insects Program of the Fairfax County Health Department, who sent me this lovely brochure in the mail yesterday:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Go Teddy Roosevelt!"

Not something you expect to hear from a child in the 21st century at a baseball game, but as mentioned before, each Washington Nationals game features the Racing Presidents. Here is a short clip of Zander cheering for good 'ole Teddy.

This one is harder to explain. But, remember yesterday when I said that both Brad and Zander came home thrilled? Well, this video helps explain why. Seems it was the bottom of the ninth inning, a tie game, two outs, and the game was about to go into extra innings when Ryan Zimmerman hit the first Nationals home run (in the new ballpark) and ended the game with a Nats win. (Apparently in baseball ease this is called a "walk-off.") The Washington Post called it "A Storybook Ending."