Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fun with my site meter

That's the little box at the bottom left of my page that shows how many visitors the site has had since I started tracking it. This evening I was up over 4,700, which seems like a lot to me, at least.

I try not to visit my statistics page too often, because it's not like I use the information for much other than the "oh, cool!" value. But when I see my hits jump up (thanks, Parenthackers!), it's fun to stop in and see where people are visiting from and whether they looked any further than just the link from the other site. In the past couple of days I've had visitors from England, Canada, Australia, and Saudi Arabia, plus a dozen states in the US. Some I can identify as friends or relatives (Hi, Kylie-Ann! Hi, Joy!), while others I'm looking forward to getting to know (I'm talking to you, Mr. or Mrs. Wheaton, IL, who spent over an hour on my site this week!).

And the cool thing I've noticed today is that now that the initial flush of Parenthack click-throughs has died back, I'm getting a lot more hits from people who get to my site by entering the root address. That is, I think they've bookmarked my site and are checking in to see if there's anything new today. How cool is that? I have an audience that's increasingly made up of people I don't actually know!

Welcome to all of you; or, rather, welcome to all of you except whoever got here by searching for "girls panties" on google. You can just move along, okay?


Saturday was the first time in weeks it was warm enough to be outside in shirtsleeves, so we busted out the sunscreen, hats and shades and went to the zoo.

Liza has decided that the hat and shades suit her style, so luckily we haven't had much of a problem keeping them on her (yet).

We even managed to keep her from dumping Mingo the Flamingo in the duck pond (or the rhino exhibit, or the giraffe pen, or ...).

And, of course, we rode the zoo tram three or four times and got a hot pretzel as a snack, so the kid couldn't have been happier if she was swimming in ice cream.

She bangs

I told myself I wasn't going to cut Liza's bangs again until she showed signs of being annoyed by having the hair in her face. Well, she finally learned to do the official gesture of toddlerhood, the smearing of gunk all over her face while trying to wipe the hair out of her eyes, so yesterday we visited my stylist. Her bangs aren't as short on the one side as they look; they just fell funny in these photos.
And yes, before you ask, we left the sides and back alone so the curls would keep growing. I won't even look at them sideways, for fear that she'll lose the wave in her hair before she's old enough to appreciate it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Coming into the home stretch**

We close on the new house on Thursday, title transfers on Friday, and we get possession a week from today. The closing company already has all of our loan docs, all of the title docs, and our money in escrow, and the "sold" sign is up in front of the new house. When we drove past the house this weekend, the garage door was open and the garage was so packed full of moving boxes I'm not sure you could actually get inside. I'm so close to being out of this hotel, I can almost taste it.

After a few weeks of not having much that needed to be done right away, I've had to throw Liza back on the Barney bandwagon long enough to make the last flurry of phone calls to organize utilities and make sure the closing and movers are all set. I spent a lovely hour on the phone today with AT&T ... yes, an hour, but now I have local and long distance for our land line, a cell phone, highspeed internet, and digital satellite tv, all on one bill. Just think of all the money I'll be saving on stamps and checks when I don't have to mail all those bills separately. And the trees! Think of the trees I'll be saving! Just don't think about the fact that I really only did it because I'm too lazy to call four different companies for services that one can provide me.

This past Saturday we went over to Sears to buy a riding lawn mower, since our new yard is actually flat enough to use one and large enough that I will only occasionally call Jason an exercise-avoiding-wuss when he's using it. We needed a new mower, anyway, so it made sense to plunk down the extra few hundred dollars now and get it over with before I decide I hate my kitchen and want to spend all of our extra money on ripping it out and replacing it.

Anyway, we decided to do this errand on the day when we had visited the zoo in the morning, Liza had taken a 45-minute nap on the way home, and we had just finished getting some ice cream and running some other errands. We were just going to stop to check the prices on our way to let Liza ride the escalators (her reward for not using her outside voice at all in the ice cream parlor), so I didn't bother with the stroller. For the first time ever, I got to be one of those parents I pity when I'm shopping at the mall - my toddler dead asleep in my arms, weighing more with every passing moment. I swear, by the time we got the mower picked out, paid for, and arranged to be delivered with the washer and dryer we bought a few weeks ago, that kid weighed at least 75 pounds. No wonder when I looked in the mirror last week I noticed that my left arm - the kid-carrier - is actually kinda buff, while the right arm - the key-carrier - is its usual wobbly self. So if you see lots of pictures from me this summer where you only see my left side, that's why. Photos from this summer are also likely to focus on the tag on my new jeans, the one that says "size 10." They're mutant 10s, and no other 10s on the planet will fit me, and I may have to go commando to zip them up once I wash them a couple times, but by god, there's at least one pair of size 10 pants in my closet.

Ahem. Back to the house. I just can't tell you how good it feels to be almost there.
- I can finally start on the lists I have forced myself to put off making for the past two months (What Stays With The House; What Is Currently In The Attic That Needs To Be Moved To the Basement Of the New House; What Kitchen Items I'm Going To Have To Get Rid Of Because, Dude, We're Downsizing, And Who Really Needs That Much Pyrex Cookware Anyway?; What Things I Need to Fix And/Or Hide So They Don't Get Moved By Accident).

- I can finally start poking around in the local greenhouses, looking for good deals on the obscene amount of mulch we'll need to fill in around the base of the playset in the backyard so that when my daughter falls off when I'm not paying attention, she'll only break something, not die.

- I can buy the plane ticket for my Sainted Mother, who is coming to take over child care while I tell the movers what to do. Did I mention that Jason will be there for the first day of packing, and after that he has to be back in Cleveland for meetings and won't be able to help again until the movers show up in Cleveland on Friday? Definitely going to need the Grandma Distraction Factor.

- I can figure out how we're going to celebrate Liza's birthday (Sunday) when we're supposed to be sorting the junk in the basement, reinstalling the crappy showerheads that came with the house, and we won't be getting to Kentucky until the day before. Wait until a few weeks after the move, when she's more likely to appreciate the festivities, but her grandparents won't be there? Say screw it and have cake Sunday? Maybe I'll have it figured out by this weekend.

- I can arrange to visit my friend in Columbus who has a new baby (who'd BETTER NOT BE READING THIS BLOG WHEN SHE COULD BE SLEEPING, SAHO!!!!). Since my mother is flying into Columbus, which is on the way from Cleveland to Kentucky, this works out perfectly. I can't wait to see her ... and the baby, of course :) I've only waited this long because I didn't want Liza to infect the poor unsuspecting newborn with something godawful ... not that Liza has been sick, but still, you don't want to take the chance.

- I can count the hours until I'm in my own bed, with my own sheets and my own comforter that's been washed sometime during the Bush administration. And the cats aren't. And the clicking, gurgling refrigerator is more than 10 feet from the bed. And Herman Munster doesn't live upstairs and get home at 11:30 every night. And the toilet will have a lid that I can shut and lock to keep toddlers from getting into it up to their elbows. And I can have a nice long cry about leaving my beautiful old home.

**When I was in high school our gym class had to do the Jane Fonda workout video for a couple classes a year, and there's a part near the end where Jane says, "We're coming into the home stretch now - buttock tucks!" with an amphetamine-fueled brightness that will turn your stomach, even if you haven't been jogging in place for 25 minutes watching to see if the video's fake classmember "Richard's" package ever peeks out of his short-shorts. It's ruined the phrase for me, really it has.

knitty goodness

From Knitted Toys by Fiona McTague, made using cheapo acrylic yarn I bought years ago (before I knew better). It looks better in the photo than in real life, where it sort of looks like a lopsidedly pregnant prison inmate with macrocephaly. Yep, I've got the knack for knitting toys, alright, as long as you want them ugly and misshapen. But, hey - the kid likes it, and it is practically indestructible, so I guess it's not all bad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another project off the list

Two 'quitters' down, with enough yarn left to make a third (and possibly fourth) sock. The short row heels are a little holey, but the toes are perfect, and hey, at least they're done. Just in time for the weather to warm up to the point where my feet will sweat if I even look at these (wool) socks, but at least I'm ready for next winter!

Nap Wars

"Okay, fine. If you won't take a nap at a reasonable hour, you can just run around like a maniac until you pass out in some random location in the hotel room.""And I'll be damned if I'm going to move you someplace more comfortable. You can just stay there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I never knew

Sometimes you don't realize how lucky you've been until you have to do things the regular way. Case in point: toddler childcare. When we were in Kentucky, one of the mothers in our playgroup mentioned that there was a mother's day out program for one-year-olds over at her church. I stopped by one afternoon to check out the location, signed my daughter up, gave them a check for $55 for the first month, and we were done.

The center was ridiculously clean and well-stocked with toys, etc. Access to the center was strictly controlled, and children were only released to people on their list of approved guardians whose photo IDs were on record at the center. The classrooms each had sinks and access to child-sized potties. The teachers were super-nice, super-energetic, and super-organized ... they managed to corral the one-year-olds into making crafts, eating snacks without stealing from each other (too much), and even worked with the older kids to start potty training.

photos courtesy of Miss Heather, taken during Liza's last day at school in Kentucky

Once we got past a few weeks of Liza the Velcro Child who screamed every time I left, I was perfectly happy to leave Liza there for three hours every Monday morning while I worked on my Lazy Mama stuff (and retained my sanity). Liza adjusted like a champ, becoming much more social and at ease in new situations, which was the entire intent of sticking her in the program to begin with. One of the big things I was upset about when Jason was offered the job up here was that Liza wouldn't be able to attend the two-year-old program next year. I was really looking forward to having two mornings a week to myself, and for only $85 a month.

Now that we're up in Cleveland, I've been researching potential pediatricians and preschools, which is every bit as much fun as it sounds. After scouring the yellow pages and contacting the state's child care referral service, I had a list of a handful of places that accept 2-year-olds. Apparently "mother's day out" programs are a Kentucky thing, or at least not a west-side-of-Cleveland thing.

All but one of the programs are actually day care centers that happen to accept kids on a part-time basis, and they're priced accordingly. The center I liked best was clean and well-organized, with teachers who seemed welcoming and a vibe that didn't scare Liza into shrieking immediately (unlike the Montessori place, which I thought I would like but gave me the willies and turned Liza back into Velcro Child). Unfortunately, that center costs $280 a month for two half-days a week. Yeah, that's more than three times as much as the church-sponsored place in Kentucky we liked so much.

Today I was finally able to visit the one church-sponsored center that has a two-year-old program, and although it's very affordable, I wasn't especially impressed. Entrance to the school was through one of the classrooms, and the door was just propped open, so a kid would have no problem getting out if they wanted to. The rooms were adequate but not especially inspiring, and some of the toys had seen better days. The teachers seemed nice, but the program for the two-year-olds wasn't very structured. It probably didn't help that I arrived shortly after the dropoff time, when all of the classes had a few minutes of free play, and the place looked sort of like a zoo (but no one was crying or upset to be there - they all seemed to be having a good time). And the program is only one day a week, for two and a half hours, so by the time I drive home and back to pick up Liza I won't really get much time to work.

Since we really can't afford to shell out $300 a month for me to get some free time, I guess it's going to boil down to whether I think Liza will get enough out of the church program to bother. In the meantime, I still have another three pediatricians to visit before I feel like I've done enough research there. Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Inside her head

"Okay, so if I hold one in each hand, I can't spin myself. Maybe if I put Mingo in between my feet, and stuffed Bunny in my armpit? Then I'd have enough room for at least a couple more members of the Pink Posse ... maybe Pink Duck and Pink Kitty? And I could drape Bob the Blanket around my head, with the hot pink scarf on top of that ..."

"Mo-ooom! Stop taking pictures of me and spin me again, because I'm too lazy to do it myself!"

And she hasn't even started her lessons yet!

Give the kid a $1.50 feather boa from JoAnn Fabrics, and this is what happens:

Tiffany's Escort and Adult Entertainment Academy, here she comes!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I read through the employment section of the newspaper today, more to get a feel for how it's laid out than because I want to find a job anytime soon. I used to do this with the Lexington paper, just kept an eye on the job to see where certain types of jobs were advertised, that sort of thing, just in case I ever needed the information. Sometimes I stumble upon interesting possibilities for career changes, such as the one I found today:

Established adult video distribution company seeks full-time, on-site personnel to view and enter data about adult videos for Internet-based video on-demand sales. Creative writing skills required. Call xxxxxxxxx for application instructions. EOE.

I am just agog with curiousity about this one. Is it legit? Or are the "application instructions" just a way to direct perverts to pay to download videos so they can send in sample plot summaries? How exactly would one include this on a resume and not look like a pervert? Could you make requests about which sorts of films you summarized? Would you need hepatitis shots before you went in for an interview? Would the fact that I've only ever seen about 5 minutes of a porn movie work against me? Do they offer benefits and a retirement plan?

Oh, so tempting to call for more information. If only it were a work-from-home opportunity ... then again, ew, maybe not. Wouldn't really want the kid stumbling on the bestiality videos when she's looking for Barney, now would I?

Some of the words included in this post will mean that some people who search for, say, 'bestiality' on google will end up here. Hi, guys! You're the reason I didn't post the phone number ... don't want competition for the job, you know.

On being prepared

With all the travel I've done, you'd think I would have participated in more hotel fire drills, but so far I've only been in two ... and only one was my fault. Well, not my fault, really, since there's no way I could have expected that lamp to shoot two-foot-tall flames into the air when I turned it on. That's one way to perk yourself up at 11:30 after traveling all day ... ever try to blow out an electical fire while wearing only your undergarments? You can do it, but it's not pretty, and you have to send your clothes to the drycleaner to get the smell out.

Anyway, yesterday we woke up at 6:45 to smoke alarms and flashing lights. Liza had gotten up earlier in the night and come into our bed, which is right underneath the smoke alarm ... and she didn't even flinch while the sirens were blaring overhead. I guess we're going to have to get one of those special smoke alarms for kids that let you record a message to play instead of beeping. Anyway, thanks to my experience with The Lamp of Extreme Flaminess, I always make sure when I go to bed in a hotel that I have enough clothes on to allow me to stand around in the lobby during a fire drill and not look like somebody's paid companion.

When I looked out the peephole in the door there was indeed a little smoke in the hall, so I grabbed a jacket and shoes, the diaper bag, and the kid and headed for the door. Jason, meanwhile, was running around in his boxers with the cat carrier, trying to find the cats who were hiding from the noise. That's two potential disasters where he's wasted evacuation time to try to save the cat(s), the other being an earthquake when we lived in Japan. It's nice that he likes them enough to not want to leave them behind to fry, but still. I'm telling you, he's like a walking advertisement for why they put the line "LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND" in large letters on the evacuation instructions for natural disasters.

Luckily, the fire alarm was for something relatively minor - from the smell of it, one of our neighbors had burned their breakfast bacon or had a small grease fire - and we were able to get back into the hotel room pretty quickly. And Liza got a chance to see a fire truck up close, and she waved to the firemen, so she was happy. Still, not a restful start to the day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Aqua Doodle hack

My parents bought Liza some of those Aqua Doodle mini mat books - you know, you color with a "pen" filled with water, and it reveals the picture underneath. We've come up with two ways to make them easier for a 2-year-old to handle:
  1. The pen is great, but I'm afraid it won't last too long. We bought one of those things you use to moisten envelopes - like a small container with a sponge on one end. It reveals the pages much faster than the pen, it seems to be a little sturdier, and it was so cheap that I don't care if she ruins it. There's a little more potential for leakage, but hey, it's only water.
  2. There are only three pages in each book, so we run out of pages pretty quickly. That's where the hair dryer comes in - set to low, you can make the colors magically disappear in less than a minute (maybe longer if it's sopping wet). I don't know if this will effect the performance of the coating on the pages long term, but we'll probably lose the book before it screws up the coating, anyway.

Anyone else have Aqua Doodle tips?

Oh, one more thing. One of our friends says that her daughter's Aqua Doodle floor mat is the only place their cat has ever peed outside the litter box. Has anyone else had this problem? She's had to start storing theirs on a high shelf in the closet to keep the cat away.

WIP Friday

My first attempt at knitted socks, complete with short-row heels and built-in slouchiness. I'm hoping to finish this first one tonight, if Liza cooperates and goes to bed at a reasonable hour (hahahahahahahahahaha yeah, as if we've gotten her to go to bed before 9:45 since we've been home from Easter). I won't be able to do it when she's awake, since I'm going to have to switch to five needles to finish off the toes. Yes, five needles. Good gad.
When I showed Jason how the cuff of the sock is designed to scrunch up on its own, he said, "Wait, you're purposely making 'quitters?'" referring to his high school term for socks that wouldn't stay up. Apparently I'm still channelling my inner 1980's child, because super-slouchy socks REALLY appeal to me.

I bet this never happens to Angelina Jolie

It's the scene every mother of a potty-training 2-year-old dreads: Stark naked in a changing room at the mall, I hear Liza say, "Mama, POTTY!" in a tone that implies now.

With no pants, no shirt, and no bathroom within a 10-minute walk anyway, I tell her to go ahead and use her diaper. Two minutes later, Liza is pulling down her pants and trying to pull down her diaper (despite the snap-crotch onesie that's nominally holding it in place). I pull up the diaper and tell her to wait until I get my pants on; she pulls it down. When I reach down to pull up the diaper again, I see the large streak that's forming on the inside of Liza's (expensive) shirt, so I abandon my attempts to get dressed and start to change her on the floor of the dressing room. I get her cleaned up and out of the soiled shirt, but when I reach into the diaper bag, I'm out of diapers. Oops.

Liza's getting better at potty training, but I don't really want to trust her to hold it until we make it back to the hotel, which is at least a 15-minute walk away. So I fasten the snap crotch of her old shirt, wrap the long sleeves around her waist and through the crotch, and tie the sleeves together to make a makeshift diaper. Topped off with a clean pair of pants and butressed by the old pair of pants folded under her in the stroller, we're ready for the sprint back to the hotel.

We make it back in record time, and I whip off the (dry) pseudo-diaper and get her into a pair of pullups. As I'm pulling my packages out of the bottom of the stroller, I find miscellaneous items left over from a recent walk we took ... including two or three diapers and extra wipes. Oh, well.

An hour later, she's all excited because she pooped on the potty. Half an hour after thata, she's wandering around with a brown smear on the front of her shirt, despite the fact that there's no chocolate in the hotel. Oops. Good thing I bought the case of pullups earlier this week ... they're on sale at Target, in case anyone was wondering.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By the numbers

Approximate number of times I've said the word "potty" today: 1,856,429
Approximate number of times Liza has actually peed in the potty today: 45 (I swear, I've met women who were 9 months pregnant with larger bladders than this kid)

A couple of weeks ago I took Liza over to the fancy shopping mall on the east side of Cleveland, partly to look at the Pottery Barn store, and partly to kill some time. She could have cared less about the mall ("does it have an Auntie Anne's pretzel store? Yes? Then it's all good."), but she was absolutely entranced by the kid-sized toilet in the family bathroom near the food court. Not only did she want to sit on it, she actually peed while she was there, which is the first time we've gotten her to use a public toilet anywhere. I swear, I think she'd STILL be there if I had let her stay.

Shortly after the mall trip, Liza developed the relatively unattractive habit of sticking her hand inside her diaper and fooling around whenever she got bored. My mother was convinced she had some sort of infection, my reference books all said it was normal and shouldn't be discouraged, and Jason looked like he wanted the earth to open up and swallow him whole, he was so embarassed. Eventually we figured out that part of the playing around was because she had a wet diaper, and she was finally signalling that she wasn't too thrilled about it. This was followed by five or six oh-so-memorable days when she came up to me every afternoon with her hand covered in stuff she had fished out of her diaper, saying "Poop? Poop!" Fun times.

Now she has developed the habit of indicating that she wants to go potty by dropping trou wherever she happens to be. Since most of the time she's relatively far from the potty, this results in her trying to do the 50-yard-pants-around-her-ankles-waddle across the hotel room (or the entire first floor of my in-laws' house). Two days of "No, sweetie, you walk to the potty first and THEN pull down your pants" hasn't made a dent in it. At least she's able to hold it long enough to get to the potty ... I'm really not set up to do a lot of hotel carpet cleaning over the next few weeks.

Newsflash: While I've been typing this, honest to god, the kid pooped on the potty for the first time ever. You heard it here first!

And, of course, she's all about helping clean up afterward, so she attempts to waddle across the room with her diaper around her ankles and both hands on a pot full of pee, dumping onto the toilet seat whatever doesn't slosh out onto the floor. I have to keep the flushable wipes where she can't reach them, at least I have to now that I've had to fish half a package out of the toilet. I'm hoping that we get past the worst of the splashing and spotting and sloshing before we move into our new, nicely carpeted house, but I'm not holding my breath. Anyone got any urine removal tips?

Monday, April 09, 2007

mindbendingly slow connection

Here are the photos from our Easter vacation at my in-laws' house:

If I have to spend one more minute waiting for a page to download, I'm going to shoot myself. See you in a couple hours (or days) when the connection is faster ...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

House pictures

They'll look best if you click on them and open them in a new window - there should be three photos per jpg file.

Way too much time on my hands

Pattern from
Yarn: kureyon by Noro, colorway 150 or possibly 164, I can't tell online.

This yarn fought me from the moment I brought it home. I bought it with the idea of making a felted box similar to the ones in Mason Dixon knitting, only I don't have the book and only had a vague idea of how to make the box. I started knitting, and when the sucker wasn't even halfway done I had used up 3/4 of the one skein the project was supposed to take. Ithrew it in the closet and worked on other things, then started with the second skein I had bought to try to make the tote bag in One Skein ... and got a good two hours into that before I realized that their definition of "one skein" includes one skein of each color in the sample ... which was going to require five or six skeins for the pattern I had chosen. So I found a smaller handbag pattern online, unwound the second attempt, and finally managed to make something out of my expensive yarn.

I'm very pleased with the result, especially since I took a relatively drab and scratchy wool yarn and felted into a nicely striped, soft and fuzzy handbag. And it only cost me $3 to felt it in the washer here at the hotel! I wish I had brought along some more of the felting wool I have at the house ... until we move, I guess I'm just going to have to restrain my urge to make more handbags. Must ... not ... felt ...