Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In The Name Of The Father, And The Son, And The Holy Spirit, Amen

Was I the only one annoyed by the incessant standing ovations at President Obama's address to Congress?

I mean seriously. These people were up and down more often than a bunch of Catholics at Mass. Any minute I was expecting Nancy Pelosi to kneel down and worship.

That or pull out her pom poms.

Don't mind me. I get crabby when they pre-empt The Mentalist.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My baby. Forever you will be saddled with that moniker. One by one the other two gained a sibling and ceased to be the baby.

You are my last and final.

This saddens me because you are so obviously not a baby anymore and as you grow each day you become less an extension of me and more, well.........YOU.

But I am also selfishly cheerful. You see, each time I had a new baby, it felt like a slight betrayal of my previous "baby." Oh everyone adjusts and shifts and settles into their new position of oldest, middle, first, Big. But each time, I was just a little sad that my baby no longer held the position of "baby".

For better or worse, hate it, like it or love it, Meredith, you get to stay my baby. Happy birthday Baby Right Now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fanfare For The Common Man

This morning I was awoken by a not-quite-but-pretty-darn-close-to-two-year-old.

She had stripped off her pajamas, stood up straight and tall in her crib and announced,


Who else but a Mom could be lucky enough to get this kind of greeting in the morning?

I'm just grateful she left the diaper on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Too Much Growing Up For One Week (And Obviously None Of It Done By Me)

My baby turns two this weekend and yesterday I had to register my baby boy for Kindergarten. ALL-DAY Kindergarten. All Day Kindergarten is what the parents (not THIS parent) want so that is what the district has changed to. Sabrina had a nice transition from three days a week at pre-school (2.5 hours) to 5 days of half-day Kindergarten. And she STILL had a hard time adjusting to going all day in First Grade.

But my boy is resilient and I'm certain he will adjust. I'm not so sure we can say the same about me.

As for the registration process itself, oh what a CLUSTER @%*$!

Since the School District deemed it necessary to send all kids to all-day Kindergarten, they have no room to accommodate all the kids in each school. So registration is no longer the easy, walk in to the school, choose A.M. or P.M. Kindergarten, fill out some papers, and say hi to the principal on the way out process that it was when Sabrina started school. Now we register each child at his/her "home" school and they conduct a lottery in the summer to determine who gets to attend the home school. If you win, they go there. If you lose they go to the "overflow" school, which is housed in the Middle School building. But they still think this All Day Kindergarten is a good idea. Who am I to argue?

I get there and I think I'm pretty well prepared because I remembered I needed Jamie's birth certificate and social security card.

So I stand in line for 15 minutes chatting to another Mom - in the middle of the hallway of the elementary school. Now THAT'S a good place to have a table set up and Moms lined up on the other side waiting! I get to the table and the lady says, "Do you have your registration packet filled out?"


Oh yes, and hands me a FOLDER of about 30 papers that should have been sent to me to fill out beforehand and Gee, we don't know why you didn't get it. Oh and by the way you need TWO proofs of residency so my driver's license alone won't do.

Cause you know I might be living somewhere else and trying to get my kids into this school district. SNORT. Not bloody likely.

Did I mention I have Meredith and Jamie with me? So I sit down on a child-sized chair in the middle of the hallway. This thing is so little it would make Kate Moss feel like a Beluga Whale. Not that I need the help. I begin to fill out papers and of course Jamie and Meredith take the opportunity to stage an impromptu orientation. Would have served the school right if I let them. I think Meredith could probably teach the classes a thing or two.

Since I didn't feel like sprinting down the hallway after them 500 times, I took them and my Encyclopedia sized stack of paperwork back outside. Turned them loose to wreak havoc in the back rows of my van while I filled out paper after paper after paper after MORE papers with all the same info. Why the hell can't they photocopy my name, Dave's name, our address, phone number etc. ad nauseum for all the 50 different times they need it filled out?

Luckily my van is already a trashcan providing them with ample toys.

What? You mean your kids don't get to play with discarded Happy Meal boxes and gum wrappers? Only the best for my kids.

Get all paperwork in order, proceed back into the school, wait in line AGAIN. Have you ever noticed waiting in lines is not a specialty of almost-two-year-old girls and four year old boys?

Hand over my ream of paperwork and massage my crippled right hand and she gives me yet another paper to fill out. Because they don't yet have enough copies of Jamie's name, address, phone number, parents' names, grandparents' names, third cousins' names, blood type, favorite color, what he eats for breakfast lunch and dinner, and the color of his current underwear (Spongebob Squarepants for those of you keeping track).

The one good thing that did come of it all, is this lady feels Jamie would be MUCH better off at the home school as opposed to the overflow school. She said that while yes there is technically a nurse on duty at the overflow school, her office is in the Middle School next door, so in a separate building. And she informed me that last year they DID exempt one child from the lottery due to a severe food allergy. She suggested I have Jamie's allergist write a letter stating he needs to be at the home school so he has a full time nurse available. You know. In case he wants to actually live through a possible allergic reaction instead of waiting 30 minutes for someone to call the nurse from the other building to find his Epipen and then walk over to the other building to administer it.

Hopefully this will be accomplished without a fight but now that I know they made the exception once, fight I will if they give me any crap about it.

If I'm going to win a lottery I'll take my winnings in cash thank you very much.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

See Ya In Da Burgh!

This is a reprint of a post I did for my friend Boo from Discover Boo (formerly Kicking and Screaming). Boo lives in Australia. She asked me to be a guest blogger while she was busy packing up and moving herself, her husband, her young toddler son, a dog and 2 cats to her new home, and one of the things she asked me was to tell her why she should consider moving aaaaaaaallllllllll the way to this side of the big blue marble.

Since I'm really proud of my city, I wanted to print this entry here as well.

Boo says: Give me 20 sound reasons why I should move to Pittsburgh??

I'm going to assume you can all figure out from that question that I am from Pittsburgh.

Then I could go on to give you the standard Pittsburgh line. "Why WOULDN'T anyone want to move to Pittsburgh??!!!" But that's not what Boo's looking for here since she and Tim are seriously considering making some big changes in their lives.

I could send you to one of those "Rah-Rah Pittsburgh" sites, but I think Boo is more interested in hearing my personal opinion.

  1. I've never lived anywhere else but Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs my entire life, so it's familiar and comfortable to me. I'd be a great tour guide Boo. And showing someone else Pittsburgh let's ME learn more about my hometown.

  2. People from Pittsburgh tend to be fiercely loyal to their city. Yes it's a city, but there's a reason most of us call it our "hometown." It has more of a "town" feel as opposed to city, almost anywhere you go in Pittsburgh.

  3. And this love of and loyalty to Pittsburgh is not an exclusionary thing. We LOVE to welcome new people and convert them to "Burghers". So you would find yourself welcomed and loved here.

  4. Pittsburghers would adore your Aussie accent. And yes you DO have an accent Boo, but just wait until you hear a Pittsburgh accent.

  5. We have chipped ham.

  6. KENNYWOOD! I have an entire blog post of my own to write about the joy of taking my children to an amusement park that I went to when I was a child, and their grandparents before them. I used to think Kennywood was, at the risk of having rotten tomatoes tossed at me by my fellow Pittsburgher's, rinky-dink and small-town and couldn't possibly compare to some of those national amusement parks like Six Flags or Cedar Point. Until I went to one of those national amusement parks. There is no comparison. You can actually move and breathe and enjoy Kennywood with your children as opposed to having consumer goods shoved down your throat at every turn and waiting in line for a minimum of an hour for every ride. Try standing in line for an hour with a four year old when it is 95 degrees (that's 35 degrees celsius for my international friends) outside. There is nothing "amusing" about that.

  7. There are 44 colleges and universities in the Pittsburgh area. Good to know for you and Tim, but even better for Jaxon.

  8. Jaxon would have the best treatment available. There are approximately 30 or more hospitals in and around the Pittsburgh area. TOP hospitals. Pittsburgh is where Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, Dr. Thomas Starzl pioneered transplant surgery, Dr. Peter Safer developed modern-day CPR and where they developed Mr. Yuk.
  9. You can save your parking space with a folding chair. And nobody will steal it. Really.
  10. People wave to you all the time. People are just friendly here. It's not hard at all to strike up a conversation. Sometimes that conversation is with the crazy lady in the grocery store that calls you a drug dealer and rams you with her cart when you're 9 months pregnant (yes boys and girls - TRUE STORY!), but 9 times out of 10 it's just a nice person willing to chat about the weather.

  11. Er, let's not mention the weather.

  12. OK, the weather. Well, it is true we have a higher than normal percentage of overcast days in Pittsburgh, and we do have the famous three H's (hazy, hot and humid) in the summer, but we also experience a glorious four seasons here. You haven't lived until you've walked down the street on a crisp sunny Autumn day in Pittsburgh when the sun is shining and there's just the faintest hint of nip in the air. It's what we like to call "jacket weather". Take a light jacket or sweater with you and you're good to go for the day.

  13. There is something to do here all year round. We don't just hibernate in the winter. Even the outdoor Pittsburgh Zoo is open all winter.
  14. Libraries. I don't know about anybody else but I love libraries. I know I'm a complete geek, but when I was a kid I would ask my Mom to take me and my (also geek) friends to the library instead of the mall. We have libraries everywhere in Pittsburgh. And you can return your books to any one of them as long as they're part of the Allegheny County Library Association and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (which most of them are). Yay for no more overdue books! I can dump them wherever I happen to be when I remember. They also have great children's libraries in just about every library here.

  15. You can have your pick of doctors and hospitals to deliver your next child. I never realized Pittsburgh has an obscene amount of choices when it comes to maternity until I mentioned online my dilemma of selecting which hospital to deliver at. Apparently it's rare to have so much choice within such a close driving distance. And all of them are top-notch and most have an excellent NICU.

  16. Computers. Computers, computers, computers. All of those doctors and hospitals in Pittsburgh? They are all using or in the process of switching over their systems from paper to computers. When I worked for a General Contractor, the guy we paid scads of money to set up our network was SELF-TAUGHT. Does this sound like anyone you know Boo? And if Tim does need a credential, there are several accredited programs right here in, you guessed it - PITTSBURGH.

  17. Food. Pittsburgh loves its food. We have a restaurant for every possible ethnic group, culture, style, etc. That Turkish artichoke dip you love so much? I'll bet you an Isaly's chipped ham sandwich you can find it here at one of the many Turkish restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.

  18. I just did a Google search for "stained glass Pittsburgh" and it immediately came up with at least 10 local business results for stained glass near Pittsburgh. And you can find a class for any kind of art or craft you find interesting in any community in Pittsburgh. They offer them at the community centers, local High Schools, colleges, or art schools. You want to learn how to do it? You can find an instructor in Pittsburgh.

  19. Jaxon would be the coolest guy in school. Pittsburghers, and Americans in general, are fascinated with all things Aussie. Yes we know you're not all like Crocodile Dundee, but you talk cool, and you've got guys like Steve Irwin and Hugh Jackman. We even have a restaurant called "Outback Steakhouse." It has nothing to do with Australian culture that I can tell other than serving Foster's, Cooper's, Toohey's and James Boag's beer (at least the menu claims those are Australian beers). But still - we think it's cool to be from Australia.

  20. I live here!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Little Bit Soapy, A Little Bit Boxy

I hate Valentine's Day.

No I'm not single. I'm not bemoaning the commercialization of the holiday. I'm not even cursing Hallmark for creating a holiday to fatten their coffers.

I'm sitting here going through my little boy's candy he brought home from school. He even decorated a special paper bag to bring it home in as part of his art project. And I am performing the dreaded task of telling him there's precious little in it that he's allowed to eat.

He is allergic to tree nuts. Just like it sounds, this is any nut that grows on a tree, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, etc.

Peanuts do not grow on trees and they are not actually a nut. They are a legume and more closely related to soybeans.

Other people often do not understand the concept that someone can be allergic to one and not the other. I'm sure I assumed peanut allergy was the same as a nut allergy before I became an "Allergy Mom."

Jamie is not allergic to peanuts. He has been tested twice and eats peanut butter regularly.

Recently we began cautiously allowing Jamie to eat products that have the warning "Processed in a plant that processes peanuts" because he is not, in fact, allergic to peanuts. I knew that many adults did not and could not understand this difference between a peanut and various tree nuts (sometimes even after I've explained it to them), but I would expect a manufacturer, that is required BY LAW to list all known allergens in the ingredients, to make it their business to know the difference.

Then I read this from the FAAN (The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) Product-Related Member Calls:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites - (Name removed to protect privacy) called to report that her 13-year-old daughter, who is allergic to tree nuts but not peanuts, had a reaction. The product, made by Taste of Nature, Inc. indicates that it contains "traces of peanuts." (Privacy) saw this, and since tree nuts are not peanuts, she interpreted the fact that they warned about one allergen as a good indication that the manufacturer was careful and that the product would be safe. Her daughter took a few bites and said she felt funny in the throat. The reaction was mild compared to others she has had, but it frightened them and caused them to rush to the doctor's office. After taking Benadryl and Zyrtec she was fine. When (Privacy) called the company at 1-800-89 TASTE to report the reaction, she was told that the product is made on the same line as a product containing walnuts and "that's why we put 'traces of peanuts' on the label."

When I read something like this, why do I get the overwhelming urge to clap my hand to my head A La Homer Simpson and proclaim "DOH!"?? It literally astounds me that someone who is in the business of food manufacturing would assume that placing "contains traces of peanuts" on their label would enable someone to realize that it actually may also contain walnuts.

And I now feel myself sliding back to the bad place. The bad place where I am scared to allow my 4 year old son a piece of candy. The bad place where even things like bread and pasta and soups are scary. The bad place where every item of food is suspect, because I don't even trust the warnings on the labels.

And when there is no warning on the label do I assume that is because the food is safe, or just that there is no warning on the label?

My son is precious. Russian roulette is not my sport.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Unlikely Archangel

The cat is convinced that Satan himself lives in our home. And his name is Hewlett Packard.

What else could possibly make the noise that draws her from whatever corner of the house she is currently destroying? What else could inspire such fury and hatred that she actually climbed over my HEAD one night in an attempt to do battle with the evil lodged within.

Sleep well my children and know that no evil can harm you while the Kitten of Doom is on duty.

Yes, I know that composite sucks. I don't speak "Photoshop."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert Size 8, Swallow Hard

My husband smokes. This isn't earth shattering, and any more it's not even news. We both used to smoke when we started dating, so I feel a little bit hypocritical being so adamantly opposed to his habit now. The thing is, he already quit.

When I got pregnant with Sabrina, I had already been trying to quit and the fact that the occasional cigarette I was sneaking was beginning to make me queasy was one of the first clues there was a bun in my oven, before the little pee-on-a-stick confirmed it. But as soon as I saw two lines, I quit. I was done. Haven't smoked one since.

Dave, took a little, um persuading. He had good intentions. He tried the patch, Nicotine gum, Wellbutrin, and various combinations of all of the above. Yet every morning when I would go to the garage I would have to stop and vomit in the trash can because I was hit by a wall of cigarette smell. I couldn't make him understand that "not smoking in the house" included the garage where I had to get in the car every morning. But even the threat of a displeased morning-sick cranky pregnant wife could not get him to quit.

Finally, FINALLY, he set a date for Sabrina's first birthday and he did it. And he hadn't smoked since that day almost 7 years ago.

Or so I thought.

Dave's a construction worker. A lot of construction workers smoke. I realize this is a stereotype, but having worked in construction for years myself, I can assure you there is a basis for the stereotype of the guy in the hard hat with a smoke hanging out of his mouth.

For this reason I didn't get too alarmed when I smelled smoke on him occasionally. He works around other guys that smoke. I get that. I don't like the smell, but it was gone when he washed up after work.

But I really thought we were past the days where you took up smoking "because all the guys are doing it."

It's true. As I suspected men don't seem to mature much past 18.

When he finally 'fessed up and told me he was smoking again I offered to "encourage" him to quit. And by "encourage" I mean harping on him day and night and listing the evils of smoking and warning him of all ill-effects. Not to mention, shutting him off. I have no interest in kissing an ashtray. I know. I am the worst kind of reformed smoker.

The kids have picked up on this and they now "encourage" him to quit as well.

This morning when I took Jamie to Pre-School another little boy and his Mom were waiting along side us. They hadn't been to school in a week or two and I was happy to see them. I like this Mom. She's funny, down to earth, and we enjoy chatting before and after school. She also happens to be a smoker, but I'm generally far less obnoxious about it to people other than my husband.

But this particular morning I heard her son saying, "Mommy you better get rid of your cigarettes or I'm calling the cops." She said back to him, "Yeah I really need to. I will." Assuming she was trying to quit also, I said, "At least he's nice about it. Jamie just tells my husband, "You're going to DIE!"

And she said, "My Mom did just die. From smoking. On Tuesday."

I hereby vote all people should get one option of allowing the floor to open up and provide a quick and clean disappearance.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Serves As A Handy Message Board

There are three areas where I regularly express myself via the written word on the Internet. First and foremost, I have a group of friends that I am in almost daily contact with via email. It's rare that I neglect this area, unless I am actually physically disconnected from the World Wide Web. As in placed in a straitjacket and locked in a padded room. Or on vacation. But since we don't have disposable income for vacations, it's most likely the former.

These girls know more about me than my own husband, and I probably talk to them twice as much. No, don't worry, Dave and I are just fine. It's just that he's at work all day not talking to me, and since two of these girls (soon to be three) are in different time zones, someone is available to talk to at almost any time of the day. This may explain why I have piles of laundry higher than my head and I couldn't find the fish in the fishbowl the other day, not to mention the fact that I swear I saw "MBM hearts DJM 1998" written in the dust on my bookshelves.

So I'm not Martha Stewart. We've established that.

But I am also active on a message board at I found this message board (and consequently the above mentioned four friends) when I was pregnant with Meredith and discovered a group of loving, caring, helpful women from all walks of life and all areas of the country, as well as many living in other countries. These girls were my lifeline, and while I was in labor I was busy texting one of these girls so they could post updates on my progress.

And of course the third way that I express myself is Blogging. When I say Blogging, I include both writing here, for my own blog, but also reading and commenting on other's blogs. I know some people follow as many as 200 blogs on their reader, but I have no idea how they do that and still have a life, let alone ever sleep. But every blog you see listed here on my blog page, I follow regularly and often comment on.

The dilemma is, I cannot seem to do all three at once and still manage to keep one husband, three children, a dog, a cat, and fish fed, bathed, and clothed. Okay so maybe not so much with the clothing and bathing for the cat, the dog and the fish (although Taffy is starting to smell a little "doggy"), but you get what I mean.

So if I seem to disappear from blogland from time to time, I am probably attending to one of those other venues of communication. Or I might just have writer's block. OR I decided to finally tackle that dusting.

Nah, probably not the dusting.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thanks For The Six-Pack Steelers!

Congratulations Pittsburgh Steelers on your record breaking SIXTH Super Bowl win! As always, I am proud to live in the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I have no discernible fingernails left, and I contemplated picking up smoking again for the first time in 8 years. But we pulled it out in the end.

Proving once again that Steelers play SIXTY minutes of football, and it ain't over til it's over.

In a related topic, what was up with Patti Scialfa standing on stage pretending she can play guitar?