Sunday, December 28, 2008

Apparently There is a Coal Shortage

Hello, friends, and welcome to After Christmas. It was a nice holiday, tho I'm glad to be on the other side of it. I'm typing as the boy takes his afternoon nap and I'm hoping he will stay asleep just a littttttle while longer. It's just me and him today and I've got alot to do.

ANYhow, I had all of this past week off of work and Dononvan had all this past week off of daycare. We had alot of fun and he was good company but the lack of routine played hell with his sleeping schedule. All that post-baby-bedtime champagne and shrimp cocktail time the husband and I were looking forward to--did'nt get too much of that in, I'm sorry to say. Christmas Eve was particularly bad, despite our dire warnings about Not Getting Any Toys. I guess when you try and raise a kid off the consumer grid you cant really leverage consumerism as discipline tool. Oops. The kid also discovered that one way to get Mom to yell is to stand on the furniture. I was going to do a photo montage of Donovan Standing on Chairs but this is the only one I have for you: The chair is in the Fussy Baby Room at the First Unitarian Church. We tried to attend their Solstice service. Mike told me afterwards that it was very nice.

Christmas was here in Pittsburgh this year and the kid got many great gifts. The most popular out of the bag was the set of Felted Ladybugs. The least successful? The apparently horrifying Jack In the Box, which sent our child shrieking into my arms. And, no, it doesn't have a clown, it has a teddy bear.I guess that's still a shock to the delicate young system. The Shanley family showered the boy with gifts and attention. Aunts Claire and Heather won that heat of the popular toy contest with their 123 book by some graphic artist whose name I'm forgetting but who, like all great artists, is from OHIO. Donny also got a swell ski vest that I plan to parade him around in once he wakes up and has some lunch.

Next came Christmas in Elyria, which was the day after Christmas. Donny cleaned up there again and made everyone very happy, especially by playing most with the paper bag his gifts were in:Unfortunately the first day of that visit was cut short as 3 hours in the car seat and a few more hours without a nap took its toll on the boy. This trip we booked a room at the Elyria Holiday Inn. Donny was very happy to have an unencumbered space in which to run. That and we mixed our parental signals by encouraging him to jump on the bed. Of course, once we left my folks' house, the boy got a second wind. Not knowing what else to do with him, we took him across the hotel parking lot to the Midway Mall. Those of you who grew up in that Mall, such as myself and Aunt Shirley, might be horrified to know that there is now an Armed Forces Recruiting Office AND a "Truth Booth," which is this big, light up marquee that plays a loop of fetus pictures. Because there is obviously no teen pregnancy problem in Elyria, Ohio, no sir. At any rate, the mall worked its magic:The next day we visited the folks again and then the Aunts. Then we drove home, dipping liberally into the tines of Christmas cookies that were forced into our hands as we left. We came back to a cluttered house which we proceeded to make more cluttered with boxes, tissue and gifts galore.

Good times and good to be back. Onwards to New Years!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Know Thyself: Ew.


That is the sound of being hit in the stomach by the realization that you are one of those mothers. Not the coiffed mothers you see in their high heeled books and very clean and fashionable wool coats, toting their coiffed children hither and yon. Not the very pleasant Moms I see at Donny's new school, who always have a smile and a greeting and who seem like the types of gals who subscribe to both Bust and Mother Jones. No--I'm the mother who forgot to put on deoderant before leaving the house because she had to write an apology note to go in the lunch bag she grabbed yesterday at Waldorf not realizing it was'nt hers and who thought "I should put a little something in that bag to make up for trashing it on the two bus rides it weathered" but decided that she was just too attached to that sample of Holiday Tea to make such a grand and selfless gesture.

That's the Mom I am.

The holidays are here and I'm whirling and scrambling and this is after I made the exectutive decision that Christmas in Ohio would be a much scaled back production. Thank god I did that in time. It all throws into high relief the need for some serious lifestyle changes. I've got a few ideas percolating but I'll keep them to myself for now. After all, this blog is supposed to be about Donovan. Not about me.

That being said, watch for photos from the Library Christmas party. I was'nt going to bring the kid but there's a hardcore fan faction here they were not taking no for an answer. More on that later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beadboard! Bias Tape! Wainscotting!

I am finishing my lunch hour with a quick entry. We were going to get the Christmas Tree last night but decided instead to get the house ready for the tree. That meant rearranging the front room, which has become Donovan’s unofficial playroom. I probably could have kept it simple and just moved the toybin from the window but, no, I rearranged one side of the room pretty drastically. I’m not sure how I feel about it but it is only for a couple of weeks, plus its to support the greater good of The Tree.

That little bit of rearranging, tho, is like the bug that bit me. As I cleaned up that room I also got together 3 grocery bags of books and a lawn bag full of clothes for Goodwill. HOORAY FOR GETTING USELESS THINGS OUT OF THE HOUSE! Our kitchen is slated for new ceiling/cabinets the 3rd week of January and, in the meantime, we need to get the damaged window replaced, plus pick out a floor and lighting.

Why am I at work? I could be sewing up new curtains or holding linoleum samples and paint samples together up to see how they look in both natural and indoor light.

Oh, wait: I’m at work so we can pay for some of this stuff.

Lunch Hour is now over…

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Donovan is Good Company

Baby Day was a resounding success. Being all alone with the boy on Saturdays can be dicey, especially on a day like today. I'm sure I could have left the house without sliding all the way down Herron Avenue on the thinnest glaze of black ice, but why risk it?

So we stayed home today. Donovan was in a really good, goofy mood all day, except for the very early meltdown which preceded an equally early afternoon nap. That gave me time to make pumpkin bread, vegetarian Shepard's Pie and, oh yeah: order lunch for myself so I would have time to work on dinner.

After Donny got up and had lunch I decided to reintroduce the fingerpaint.
Longtime readers will remember that the fingerpaint didn't go over too well the first time I tried it. I guess he's hit his fingerpaint developmental mark because he had a blast. That went so well that I cleaned him up and gave him the crayons I made for him (I melted down old regular crayons into mini muffin cups so they would be big enough for him to hold). Again, much success

Friday, December 12, 2008

Onward Through the Storm!

Its been a crazy however long since I've last posted. Not necessarily bad, mind you, but a veritable whirlwind.

And to think, the holidays aren't even here yet...

Yesterday I took a day off to attend to house stuff. Last week I had to update my Vacation Time chart at work, something I was dreading as I had just assumed I had used up all my current days and then some toting the boy to the doctor or staying home with him on snowdays. Imagine my surprise when I saw that I have an ENORMOUS amount of vacation days--11 of which I need to use up before April. I was able to do laundry, dishes, deal with the exterminator (ants: ick), and even meet Sheryl downtown for lunch. Sheryl and I share a nostalgia for patty melts and a fondness for the Tic Toc, which is reminiscent of The Attic in Higbees back in the day. The patty melts at the Tic Toc, I'm sad to say, were by no means acceptable. Still, it was sweet to be in the thick of the holiday lunch crowd. I also got to rearrange some of the artwork in the nursery so that the new furniture arrangement matches where things are on the walls.

The real excitement last night was going to pick Donny up at Waldorf as the cold weather had, by then, turned nasty and brutish. Thick wet snow as turning into a sheet of ice on the sidewalks and, while I had an umbrella, I stupidly didn't pack a hat: who needs a hat when you have an umbrella? The answer is "who ever needs both hands to steer a damn baby stroller." I knew it was going to be brutal so, since I was leaving from home, I packed some fleece snow pants and a little fleece blanket. I bundled the boy all up and more or less tied him into his stroller with the blanket. The original plan was to meet Mike at Whole Foods but I made the executive decision to go the Quiet Storm instead. QS is a little further away from Waldorf than I want it to be and, 3/4 of the way there I started frantically thinking, "What's the address? Am I going the wrong way?" Then I saw the mural and knew I was almost there. Kirsten was there when we got there and we got to hang out with her. She loves Donny and Donny couldn't get enough of her--she had him laughing and clapping and blowing raspberries--it was great to see. The kid tore thru a plate of sweet potatoes and a bottle of apple juice. By the time Mike got there, Donovan was full and dry and happy. So Kirsten and I went to Kellys and I had a gimlet, Pittsburgh Bites and a Mini Mac. Plus the ice had decided to melt. All and all a good night.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I would like to start this entry by apologizing to the complete strangers from whom I stole images of the Waldorf School in Pittsburgh. If you would like me to remove your photos, just let me know and I will. If it helps, I thought they were excellent, which is why I filched them.

ANYhow, Saturday was not only Baby Day: it was the Winter Festival at Donovan's new school. I found out about the Winter Festival from Sheryl, who not only told me it was happening but also informed me that lunch would be available, there would be a tea room, taffy pulling and candle dipping. When I asked her why she knew more about my kid's school than I did, she informed me that a flyer for the event had been posted in front of the toilet at her restaurant for a few weeks.

That made me feel a little better.

Donovan and I met Sheryl and Becky there. It was great to see them but Donny was having a rough time when we first got there. He was hungry, tired and it was so busy and crowded that he just wanted Mom and no one else. Not very conducive for conversation. Becky and Sheryl went to see the marionette show (which they said was excellent) and Donny and I sat in the improvised tearoom where he had a little cry on my shoulder and then ate some of the lunch I packed for him.This is the room that was set up as a tearoom--very lovely.

The Winterfest was very nice but what made me happiest was the opportunity to look more closely at the building itself. Its an 1867 mansion that used to be a catholic school. That line of provenance means that many, many original details of the mansion are still intact, despite the fact that it is a building in full and current use. There's just the thinnest coat of shabbiness, mostly kept at bay by cleaning and caring, but I do love things that are falling apart, even if its just a little fraying around the edges. The place doesn't necessarily feel like Hogwarts--maybe its the Victorian era Ladyschool that Hogwarts students attend before they leave home. At any rate, Donny and I got to poke around the first two floors after we had lunch in the crazy-ass lovely auditorium. The stupid camera I brought with me died but here is someone else's photo of that ceiling--a much better photo than I'd be able to take with a baby in one hand and a bowl of Pasta Fasoli in the other. On Friday, Donny's report for that day said that his class had entertained themselves playing with hula hoops in the auditorium. Now that I know they mean THIS auditorium, well, that's even better!

The main home where the classes take place also features a freestanding chapel from, I think, 1903. Its all lovely brick and craftsmanesque stained glass, very small and cozy. Sheryl, Becky, Donny and I were going to listen to a musical group there but Donny remembered how much he likes to shriek so he and I had to leave. I did manage to get a few photos, tho, before the camera shuddered and died.

After all that we caught the bus home. Turns out it was probably the last bus for the time being as the roads were getting bad. Good timing
Tonight Mike and Donovan and I went over to Mike's folks place where they feed us pork roast and let the baby run around their house in circles. Nice way to end the weekend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankful That's Over

I suppose you are wondering how Thanksgiving was. Well, I hope you had a nice one with your loved ones. The three of us went to Ohio to spend it with my family. This was a tough one as my Dad was'nt there, being how he was at the nursing home. He got to come home the next day and, between the getting to Ohio, helping clean for company, helping with the meal and then getting Dad settled in the next day--well, it was great to see everyone but I would'nt call it relaxing.

I don't know what planet conjuncted where but Donovan was on his super best behavior. My aunts had dinner with us and he gave them both kisses several times over. He hugged my Mom probably 8 out of every 10 times she asked him to, he even gave my Dad a hug at the nursing home, which must have been tricky seeing how Donny is short and my Dad was in a wheelchair. Donovan was a little bit pissy during the actual Thanksgiving meal but he made up for it by laughing hysterically while playing in the front room with my Aunt Rose. I'd forgotten that she's fun to play with. Maybe if she lives to be about 90 she can teach him how to swing a bat and how to fly a kite, just like she taught me...

The other big news is that Donovan started at the Waldorf school this week. Its only been two days but, so far, he seems to like it. It was rough leaving him the first day because the other kids seems so much bigger. Not just sizewise but talking and they way they moved and played--how could I leave my Fauntleroy with such ruffians? My hope is that being around older kids will kick Donny over the humps of not talking and still using a bottle. And the smoking and the experimenting with alcohol. That too.

The Waldorf schedule has us on a much earlier schedule so I really need to go to bed. Here are some Thanksgiving photos. Nothing terribly holidaycentric but hopefully you'll like them:
As my Mom can't cook and I did'nt have the time, the meal was catered by Cracker Barrel. And it was lame. BUT I appreciate the fact that Cracker Barrel 1) kept my blind 83 year old mother out of the kitchen and 2) that they provided my son with a box to play in.
The chair is a toddler rocking chair that my Mom stripped and refinished for my sister. I grew up using it too. Donny loves it and has mastered the art of sitting down in it butt first, as opposed to kneeling in it and trying to stand up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In and Out the Window

Ah, the day before Thanksgiving: here at work (yes, I'm indulging in a quick worktime entry) I am the only one in the office today. That's fine with me as I have tons to do and I focus much better when left to my own devices.

Today is also Donny's last day at Eastminster. Its so bittersweet--I'm still pretty choked up about it all. Yesterday I brought home his blankets and his change of clothes. Ms. G. tried to give me his "portfolio" but no way I was carrying a three ring binder of photos and artwork in one arm while steering a stroller with the other. In the rain. Mike will pick that up today when he drops him off.

This weekend was pretty much a write off as Mike and I were both down with stomach plague. Even so, Donovan managed to have a good time. A few months ago I made him a fairly lame playhouse out of the box his big boy car seat came in. The first couple weeks or so he ignored it--now he plays in and with it EVERY DAY. We should be getting the kitchen worked this coming month and I can't wait to get new boxes for him--he's too tall to stand up in this one now.

Here's me and the boy. I'm still loopy from the stomach thing but, hey--the generic metrogel has the Rosacea under control!Was that Overshare? Sorry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unclear on The Concept

Me: Donny! Where's your nose?
Donovan: [hesitates, smiles, points to his mouth.]
Me: No, silly! Your nose! Where's your nose?
Donovan: [maintains eye contact, smiles wider, points to his mouth.]
Me: No, that's your mouth! This is your nose [moving his finger from his mouth and making him poke his own nose]! Nosenosenosenosenose! Now--where's your nose?
Donovan: [verrrrrry slowly lifts his finger and his mouth. And laughs.]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Well Baby

Odd as it sounds, Donny and I had an idyllic morning at the Doctor's office today. He was in for a Well Baby visit and the photo above is him in the size XS hospital gown they gave him to wear. I felt like I was wrapping a doll house in a circus tent.

ANYhow, he fussed a little getting weighed and measured but, after that was done, he wanted to curl up in my lap and he actually ended up falling asleep. It was very nice to while away the morning, rocking my boy and waiting for the doctor to come in. Usually waiting for the doctor is annoying but, when you have a nice baby sleeping on you, its alright. He continued to sleep the entire time I was talking to Dr. Levine, who wisely examined him while he slept. He's not very good about stethescopes and earscopes but he slept thru that part too. We had to wake him up and hold him down for his shots but, even then, he calmed down almost immediately. We walked down the street and caught a 64A to Eastminster. During the ride we blew some polite raspberries at each other, looked out the window, pulled each other's hair and just had a nice time. He cried when I dropped him off but we got there right at lunch: meatballs, rice and pears--not bad for a baby.

Then I had to go to work. I really should have just called off for the whole day so I could do some winter babyclothes shopping. Alas.

BTW: Donovan is 20.8 lbs and 32 inches tall. He is STILL in the 5% of weight, meaning 95% of kids his age are bigger than him. We keep trying to fatten him up but to no avail.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just One More Day!

The above title is a plea, not an exclamation. Sunday night is the worst because I'm prepping for a work week but thinking about all the stuff I could get done on Monday if I did'nt have a job to go to.

This is not to say I did'nt get alot done, due largely to my husband taking Donovan to the library for a couple of hours. In the time they were gone I:

* Made a buttload of Vanilla Scented Granola (yes, that's what its called)
* Made a buttload of Potato Leek Soup
* Put away a buttload of clean laundry, mine and that of my son.
* Noticed the snow, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the last good rosebuds off my John Clare Rose Bushes. I also culled some very, VERY dark purple hydrangas. So very goth.
* ate some candy
* cleaned out a buttload of old magazines, empty kleenex boxes and 3 jars of Vicks Vapo Rub from under our bed.
* rearranged the nursery for the cold weather: the crib is no longer on an outside wall between two windows: it is on an inside wall, directly above the heatvent.

But if I had tomorrow off, oh brother: I could pull up the last of the nasturtiums, finish cleaning the very dusty bedroom, sew up the holes in my coat pockets and the button back onto my good coat, and, and, and...

The boy is fine, by the way. He really enjoyed the library.

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Here's the Story

No sooner had I gotten into work yesterday than I got a call from Donny's daycare: he had hit his head against a shelf and had cut himself above his eye. They thought he might need stitches and could I come and get him. I called Mike and we decided that he would pick up the boy, come and get me and then drop Donny and I off at the Emergency Room of Children's Hospital. While I waited I made the necessary calls to cancel YET AGAIN another attempt to move several boxes of football film over to offsite storage. You know those projects that just seem to have a lightning rod stuck in them? These films are one of those.

So Mike picks me up and, there's my baby, gash above his eye with little tiny blood bubbles on it, and the kid is clapping and laughing. Well, at least he doesn't know to be scared. Mike dropped us off at the emergency room and where we got paperwork, an ID bracelet for Donny, and a seat in some strange waiting room left over from 1982.

Children's Hospital is in the process of moving to Lawrenceville. That means the fancy new building is being built while the old building in Oakland inches into genteel shabbiness. If a building I owned was going to be imploded in the next 3 years or so, I wouldn't invest in paint either, but I did feel like we were seeing the end of a hospital era, what with the big wood and glass cabinets and the early 80's electronics in their dark beige plastic and big rubbery number buttons.

The first doctor came to look at Donny and, since it was a head injury, she had to do all sorts of tests: do his eyes still move correctly? Were any of his teeth knocked loose? Did he bite his tongue? How do his ears look inside? None of this went over well with the boy in question and there was much shrieking and crying. The upside is that, when she left, Donny fell almost immediately asleep on my shoulder. It was very sweet but my shoulder was killing me so I wrapped him up in my coat and he slept like that for about 2 hours with a brief wake up when another doctor put topical anesthesia and a bandaid on the cut. The decision was made to just do topical anesthesia as opposed to full anesthesia, which would require lots of extra time and the risk of an adverse reaction. With the topical anesthesia, however, they would have to "papoose" him. Oddly, while Donny was napping, I took a photo of the "Papoose Board" that was hanging on the wall. The artwork looks like it should be on the nose of a WWII Fighter Plane. When I took the photo, I had no idea that Donny would be a papoose candidate but, there he was, woken up and trussed in with a variety of velcro panels. He was a very good boy, considering everything. He got 4 of the tiniest stitches ever, which the doctor protected with gauze and "glue." He should be healed and the stitches should fall out on their own in about 6 days. I watched him all day to make sure he would'nt worry the gauze off but he doesnt seem to know there's this stuff stuck to his eyelid. He did wake up last night a couple of times, tho, and he did end up sleeping with us. Here's hoping he has a good day at daycare today. If he's smart, he'll show off his stitches to all the girlies. Chicks dig scars.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Big Changes and French Fries

This photo was taken on Thursday when I picked Donny up from daycare and had about an hour and a half to kill before Mike was done with work. For whatever reason, the thought of bussing it home and hiking up the hill behind a stroller full of baby filled me with malaise. I decided, instead, that we would have some adventures at the Strip Mall.

The Strip Mall has gone thru several different incarnations since I've lived in Pittsburgh. It used to have a big ol' Phar-Mor and a Payless Shoes. Its since been gentrified and has an Office Depot, a Subway and a China Buffet (which is one of my guilty, guilty pleasures...). After I picked up Donovan I wheeled him over to the Petland to look at animals. I'm not a PETA member but I was raised by crazy cat ladies and I know Petco is bad. That being said, my kid does not have much exposure at all to animals and a few koi fish in a petstore tank is better than nothing so we strolled around the joint. As usual, that which I thought would elicit squeals of delight did nothing of the sort. Maybe he was still coming down from daycare but, whatever it was, there was no sort of interest in the fish, dogs, hamsters or bags of cedar chips. Oh well.

After that I decided we needed to eat something. We went over to the McDonalds and I got a Filet of Fish Sandwich meal, thinking Donovan would like the fish. Wrong again, but he did like the fries and that bought us a little time.
I mention the fries as a segue into the fact that we signed Donovan up for the Little Friends program at the Pittsburgh Waldorf School today. The Waldorf School certainly does NOT serve french fries--in fact, looking at the snack menu, there were at least two different mentions of Nutritional Yeast. Mike and I went to talk to the admissions person there today and while we were still conflicted when we left, we talked it over and decided the pros outweighed the cons.

Plus, when we were given a tour of the playground area for his class, the guide said, "That little hill, the kids love it. When it snows we bring out little sleds and they have a ball." Sleds? ACTUAL sleds? SIGN US UP!

Joking aside, this whole move from one daycare to another is bittersweet. I think I feel more conflicted about moving Donny from Eastminster than I did when I left Elyria for Pittsburgh, which is just a little bit disturbing...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I just found the price schedule for the Waldorf Nursery program.

I thought that was too good to be true...

You Know What Happened to the Boy Who Got What He Wished For...

Its so good to wake up and think, "Last night, this country saved itself." Actual salvation is a long, slow process but the fact that we did'nt blow our chance: that was a nice, nice change.

But what's with only 46% of white folk voting for Obama? What's up with that? I'm proud to be in the minority.

Nationally the mood is one of celebration but, here in Donnyville, things are very fraught. The good news is that there is an opening ini the Waldorf School's Little Friends program and Donovan is first in line. I really should be happy about that and I am but two things keep tugging at me. First, he really is happy at Eastminster and they do take very good care of him. He's still very much one of the "favorites" and is coddled and fussed over, which I like. Also, Waldorf is more expensive. Significantly more expensive. To the tune of Mike will sell plasma on the first and third Mondays of the month and I'll take the second and fourth. Part of the money related freakout is based in the fact that, between now and Christmas, we will finally be having major work done on our waterdamaged, butt-ugly kitchen. The work is something I've known was coming and much of the monies given to us by my Aunts has long been earmarked for such. Having it sitting there in the bank, tho--well, that's been nice. I'm going to hate to see it go. Anyhow, last night when I went to bed, I really was feeling like putting Donny in Waldorf would be a bad idea.

Then, today, I had a revelation: Kids Grow Up. I went back to the Waldorf School's website and looked at the curriculum descriptions. If I'm reading everything right, Donny would be in this program for 19 months and then he would be moved to the Nursery which (again, if I'm reading this right) is free. Suddenly, I felt better. 19 months? I can be superpoor for 19 months! I actually like PB&J! We can do this!

Mike is going to call me this afternoon with his take on it all and we'll decide then. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Am The Organ Grinder's Monkey

What can a 19 month old kid get out of Halloween? A phobia of safety pins, maybe, and a nosebleed from throwing a tantrum.

We did manage to salvage the evening but man, it was tough! I think the worst thing was the timing. Mike had to work until 5:30 and by the time we got home it was after6--and the Fine City of Pittsburgh had mandated trick or treating would be between 5 and 8. Hmmph. So we get home, change the kid into his costume, give him a bottle to stop the shrieking, try unsuccessfully to get a photo of him, get him halfway down the sidewalk and realize this is not going to work. Mike took him in and fed him a cereal bar and I gave out candy to the few kids brave enough to come into our poorly lit yard. Mike and I each thought the other wanted to take the boy and I decided that, since it was more or less my bright idea, I'd better do it. And once we started walking, a miracle! A happy baby! A happy baby running thru the twilight in his Organ Grinder's Monkey costume.
Allow me, please, to comment on said costume: I put it all together last night. The brown fuzzy suit was part of a package of German baby clothes sent to us by our dear friend Caroline. The monkey head hat was a minor miracle: when we went to visit my folks, my Mom had gotten Donny a hat and mitten set that just happened to be a monkey head, which saved me the trouble of making one. The fez and vest I sewed up last night using felt and embroidery thread. While I'm pretty proud of myself, the fez is way too tall and it looks like a stovepipe fez; like Abraham Lincoln as an organ grinder's monkey. The tail was cut from a cheapo fleece blanket I bought at Goodwill with that and the monkey hat in mind. Its a good thing I put a tail on him because I had to use his tail as a belt to keep his pants on. Its been a long time since I've had to really pull something fun and not work related out of thin air. I've always prided myself on being able to rise to such occasions and it really gave me a boost to make it all work.

That all being said, trick or treating was a little revelation to me. Obviously, Donny won't be eating the funsize Snickers bars but what was really great was walking him around a little corner of our neighborhood, letting everyone enjoy him and letting him pull me from house to house to house. Seriously, at times he had me running as he dragged me by the hand. By the end of the night, he knew how to take the candy out of the bowl and put it in his bag. He can't say "Thank You" yet but he did clap, which brought down the house everytime. And I'd forgotten the fun of emptying out the bag to see what you end up with. So, yeah, it was alot of work and the kid was really getting on our nerves for a bit, but it turned out to be a nice, all American good time.

And maybe we'll get better costume pictures when he goes to see his Pittsburgh grandparents on Sunday...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Babysitting in the Days of Yore

I packed up this mug to take to work today and it got me thinking. This mug was a gift to me from a family I babysat for in the summer of 1987. Sheryl and I lived in Oberlin that summer--we lived in this crazy Victorian house that belonged to a woman named Jeanne Butts. I met her when I interviewed with her for a job (which I don't think I got) but, during the interview, it came up that Sheryl and I needed a place for the summer and she needed to find a housesitter. The family who gave me the mug lived next door to her.

Think about that: total stranger gets 2 total strangers to live in her house for 3 months. Next door neighbors hire one of the total strangers to watch their kids. No resume, no references, nothing. Those were very different times.

I don't remember much from my babysitting--I remember the 7 year old son explaining, very scientifically, what constitutes "good legs" on a woman. I also remember teaching the 13 year old girl how to apply eyeshadow and using that same eyeshadow to make her brother look like he had a shiner. I don't remember their names but I do remember that Sheryl and I regularly referred to the boy as "Devil Child Spawn of Satan."

And here I sit, 21 years later, drinking Tension Tamer tea out of their mug. OH: I just remembered! They got me a mug with a unicorn because unicorns are "magical" and, at the time, I was at my superwitchiest. Which was pretty easy to do in Oberlin, what with the herb co-op where you could buy chamomile and licorice root by the ounce. Ah, Ooooooberlin. That was a good summer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Symphony in Pampers

Forgive the poor lighting and the cellphone camera quality:

Honorary Baby Buckeye

Mike, Donovan and I made another one day trip to Ohio to see my family and I have to give Donny the Best Baby Ever Award. He was heroically happy and cute for everyone we had to visit, including my Dad in a nursing home and my Aunts across town. He had a grand time at the nursing home as my Dad is on oxygen and the oxygen pump not only has a clear plastic hose but it also makes noise--fascinating. The visit with my Dad was difficult as he is currently without a hearing aid. Even so, it was obvious he was happy to see his namesake and we were happy to see that he's doing better than he was when he was checked in.

I'm not sure what I looked like when we finally got over to my Mom's family's place but the first thing my Aunt Carolyn said to me was, "This must be a tough visit this time--you look exhausted." Well, I've never been accused of having a poker face. Again, Donny made with the cute for them. He also discovered, as I did many years ago, that their house is perfect for running around. He did laps around the first floor, stopping every now and then to smack on his reflection in the mirror on the living room door.

I will mention too, tho it probably goes without saying, that my Mom was over the moon to have her grandson in proximity. This woman was made to be a grandmother and I will probably spend a few centuries in purgatory for making her wait as long as I did. Donny is still very much an action baby but he's been getting more affectionate in the past couple of weeks. He did let her hold him--not as much as she would have liked but more than last time--and he gave her a few hugs as well.

If he's this good now, I can only imagine how badly he'll act out when he hits puberty.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All Grown Up (Weep!)

Mike and I have a running mock-argument: Is Donovan a boy or a baby? I argue that he's still a baby. Mike says he's a little boy. I counter with the He'll Always Be Our Baby routine. As with any joke, there's some truth at the bottom of it all. He's my baby but...

Now that the cooler weather is here I got out the coat and hat that I bought for Donny at some crazy sale at Kaufmanns: it was something like, everything is half off and if you buy 3 things you get an extra 20% off, if you buy 4 you get another 50% off. At any rate, the sale made it possible to get Donny this great little peacoat and earflap cap set. Having dressed him in it for about a week now, I'm thoroughly enjoying the tongue in cheek design: a real peacoat is itchy, scratchy, dryclean only wool. This baby version is soft, machine washable, indestructible polarfleece. Pretty clever, I must say. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't like all the oohs and ahhs he's been getting. Its definitely a throwback look--very John-John.

ANYhow, you see him above all decked out and ready to go on his big adventure today: To get his first haircut. We went to Supercuts on Highland and, at 5pm on a Saturday night, we were the only people there.
One of the stylists put Donny on a booster seat in her chair and I warned her that he does not like new things and there would probably be screaming and crying. She brushed that off and started wetcombing his hair. She got the scissors out and snipsnipsnip--had it all under control. When I complemented her on her baby hair cutting prowess, she said, "I have 26 nieces and nephews." That would explain it. Donny proved me wrong and was a perfect little customer--no crying, no squirming, nothing! And when it was done, he looked so grown up.
I did'nt actually get teary but I will admit I had no idea he would look like that and it did throw me for a loop.

Tomorrow we're going to Ohio for a one day visit, mainly because my Mom's birthday is today and she needs some grandbaby lovin'. Also, my Dad is back in a nursing home to gain back some strength after having a heart attack and pneumonia. He's doing very well but he's all kinds of pissed off that he needs to be in a nursing home again. Sounds like he needs some baby therapy as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not the Gourds! Please! Not the Gourds!!!

First, if you are like us and still need to get a pumpkin for your Halloween altar, I would like to draw your attention to this fine public service. Mike and Donny and I are going to Ohio this weekend and I don't know if we'll have time to go looking for pumpkins but its nice to know where we could look if we do.

If we do take him to the pumpkin patch, I hope it goes better than his trip yesterday to the farmers market. Everything was fine until I took him over to a crate full of festive gourds. You'd think I'd asked him to stick his hand in a laundry mangler. I keep reading about how important it is to have kids experience the outdoors and/or to connect what their food is to where their food is coming from. All very noble ideas, unless your kid only seems to connect with empty yogurt containers and a melamine lunch tray he keeps dropping on the kitchen floor so it sounds like bombs are falling in the backyard.

The other thing to mention is that I got out the old sewing kit this weekend and put two darts in a pair of 6-12 month pants for Donny. They are a little short on him but he's so skinny that they slide right down. Even with two darts he's still got a little bit of Pampers Plumber Butt going on but we can hide that with his shirt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Fotos OR Phriday Photos

Just a quick entry posted during my lunch hour: I had amassed a little pile of photos on my phone that I wanted to post and Friday seems like a good day for that sort of thing:

Baby's first Hot Chocolate!
Donny had on a really good outfit that afternoon but he never stood still long enough for me to get a good photo. This is at the little fishpond in front of his daycare. Note the big goldfish and note also the big head of big loopy curls
I took this yesterday morning. Makes me sleepy just looking at him...

Our neighbor Eric came over one day with this toy tool bench for Donny. He'd found it at a garage sale and thought of the boy, which was super sweet of him. As with all his toys, it had to sit in his general vicinity for a couple of weeks before he warmed up to it but now its part of his In The Kitchen ritual. The action shot is my son wielding a plastic hammer. We can't get him to hammer with it yet, he just likes to throw it.

Tomorrow is Saturday! A Saturday with Mike off of work! Will we make it out to a pumpkin patch? Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the First Word Is...


Ms. G at daycare said that one of the kids was saying "Mine!" about everything all day yesterday and all the other kids picked up on it, including Donny ("We all said, 'Did he just say what I think he just said?'") We tried all night for a repeat performance but it was not forthcoming.

"Mine!" That does not bode well. My Mom thought it was the funniest thing ever but I'm a bit worried. Its like that one character in one of the Faulkner books. The first time you see him, he's a little boy running with his hands in his pockets and you just know this character is going to grow up into a tightfisted, moneygrubbing study in greed.

Maybe I'll try to work on his next word being, "Yours!" or "Seriously--take it!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

His Secret Life

For a great photo and a brief write up of Donny's date with Sheryl, go to her blog If you click on the photo, it will take you to a whole set she's taken of the boy. Nice work, Aunt Shirley!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick update and some Phone photos

A very quick entry on worktime just to let you know that things here in Donnyland are fine. It was a busy weekend, which included a trip to the Waldorf School here in Pittsburgh for their open house. Donny is on their daycare waiting list and we wanted to go look at the space, which is in the lovely old Ursiline Academy building in Friendship. Its not quite the starry eyed wonderland of the Cyert Center but it certainly has its charms and I'd love for Donny to be involved there. Fingers are crossed.

Before we went to the open house, we stopped at Coldstone Creamery for Mike to renew his Free Birthday Icecream coupon (I'm sort of a coupon geek and I signed Mike, Donny and I up for a variety of birthday freebies). Donny continued not being interested in icecream, tho he did like looking over the table and out the window at all the traffice on Forbes and Murray (see above photo). After the open house, we thought he'd fall asleep in the car but that was not going to happen. I gave him a book and he read to himself for awhile, which just proves he's genetically connected to me.And now, I get back to work. Hope you all had a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Faint Echoes from the Ossuary

Hello Friends--please forgive the recent silence: I've been recovering from whatever it was I had.

I was trying to hold out until we had new photos of Donny to put up but that will have to wait a day or two. Just wanted to let everyone know that things are fine in Polish Hill. Yesterday was trash day and the sheer avalanche of used Kleenexs were cleared out. The house almost looks normal.

No real news on the Donovan front, tho Mike did email me that, at daycare dropoff, Donny was "mobbed" by Abigail and a couple other kids from his class who started petting him. He has that effect on people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello, Stranger(s)

Greetings from my Deathbed. I've been SICK, I tell you, Sick, Sick, Sick. Today will be my third day off of work and I'm actually going to try and see the doctor. I knew it was coming Sunday night when my throat started feeling all tight. Its been downhill from there.

Donny has been rather fussy lately, too. It might be teething or maybe he's just practicing for his terrible twos, but our happy go lucky boy has been full of piss and vinegar. Also, the whining? Back full force. Sigh.

All that being said, Saturday was a good day. Mike changed his work schedule so he'd have the day off and we had a yard sale. It was not well attended, probably because I only used free advertising as opposed to paying a newspaper to print something. Still, we make about $90 and we moved some of the babystuff that had been piling up. Next stop: Craigs List.

BTW, it is 6:30 in the morning. Mike is in our bed with Donovan, who woke up at 4:30coughing and crying. I tried to sleep with them but everytime I'd cough, the poor kid would jerk awake. I finally got up and did dishes. Obviously, I'm in that sleepless/coughsyrup state of mind. That being said, I saw a magazine at Whole Foods that has an article on "Radical Housekeeping." I'm intrigued. Could I drop off the grid and be a radical housekeeper? I have to say that being a full time working mother--sometimes I feel like I'm working full time just to pay to keep my kid in daycare full time. Alot of the time it feels like a beast that feeds itself, if you know what I mean. And its hard keeping the house in shape, paying the bills, cooking, etc, especially when my schedule and Mike's schedule don't mesh. We're doing alright so far but its very much by the grace of two big "economic stimulus packages" given to us by my Mom's family. I recently was propositioned, more or less, by a cemetery on the North Side about doing historical research for them as well as some grant writing. I could so kick ass at all that but, but, but...

Thinking give me wrinkles. Let's just say that I've got alot on my mind and I'm opening myself to suggestions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Of All The Things To Worry About

Dear Baby Expert,

I hope you can help me! My son is 17 months old and all he wants to eat are vegetables! He's in the 5th percentile for his weight and we've been trying to "fatten him up!" The problem is, he only wants to eat healthy food! Last night I tried to feed him ice cream but he reached into his mouth, took it out and threw it on the floor! All he wanted to eat was edamame! The doctor says not to worry but I'm worried! Help!!!

Have a Donut, Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From A-List to Sick List

The past couple of days have been exciting in Babyland but I'll keep my report brief as I'm using the tail end of my lunchhour.

The day before yesterday, Donny's Aunts Claire and Heather were in town for a whirlwind visit. As usual, they skillfully hooked up with a majority of their friends, this time via a lovely party thrown for them by their friends Todd and Beth. Mike and I had decided that we would go to the party right when I was done with work. I should note that, without the proper decompression time after work my socializing skills can deteriorate. They did somewhat at this party--I caught myself eating layer cake with my hands right in people's faces, for instance--but it was such a comfortable affair that I think I did alright. And, really, I was'nt worried so much about myself as about Donny as he had just come from the doctor where he got two rounds of shots at once. I must say that Donovan really did well. There were a couple brief stints of crying but only because he managed to bonk his head on the floor and table. As far as being socialable, I think he did just fine. AND he gave his Aunt Claire a big slurpy open mouth on the cheek kiss, which made me happy.

The next morning, I got Donovan out of bed to wake him up and the boy was like flypaper--very unusual for my Put Me Down I Want To Walk boy. One thing I wish is that babies had an Affection knob where you could turn it up or down as necessary. Donny is'nt not affectionate but its definately on his own terms. Thus, when he crawls into my lap on his own accord and burrows his head into my shoulder, my first thought is "Sweet!" quickly followed by, "Uh Oh." Turns out he had a fever, most likely a residual effect of his shots the day before. I took the day off and we spent the day at home together. I did get him to take a couple of good sized naps, despite the fact that there were roofers banging away right outside the bedroom window.

Today, Mike and I are both back at work and Donny's at daycare. So far, so good.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Naked as a Jay Bird

Donny has pretty much outgrown being bathed in the sink. As it was a hot day today, I decided to scrub him in that old laundry tub. And as we were kickin' it old school, why not scrub him outside, where all the neighbors can see?

The other news is that all three of us went to church today and Donny did fine in the Nursery. The past couple of times I've left him there, I look up halfway thru the service and some poor, kindly soul is holding my sniveling baby and looking for me to take him off their hands. We may have gotten lucky or maybe we passed a milestone. Stay tuned.