Rock with your Daddy

Today we finally got to experience Rock-n-Tot and we all had a blast.  Pumping music, toys, snacks, art and people to meet – what’s not to like?  Naomi puts on one hell of an event – I could not believe all the things she thought of… from goodie bags to a sports center to get game updates.  I will be watching for news on the next date and will get my tickets quickly as this one was sold out.  


rnt2While we were there I recognized Erika’s little girl shakin’ it on the dance floor and eventually spotted Erika and introduced myself (no small feat for this shy girl).  Hopefully I’ll see her again at the Kurt Vonnegut Book Club in a few weeks.



As with everything worth doing in Cleveland, Bar Cento was involved.  And upon seeing this sign we immediately knew where we were going to dinner:


It was fantastic, as always.  I branched out from my usual (sunnyside pizza) and had the mussels which were fabulous.  We also all shared the olive oil cake which was very, very yummy.  And, in another display of finally overcoming my social awkwardness, I introduced myself to the famed Amelia – AKA Chef’s Widow. The KVBC is her brain child so I hope to see her in a few weeks, too.

All in all it was a fabulous family day on all accounts.  Now I’m looking forward to the short week and more family time ahead.

Bring It On

Winter is here with a vengeance.  Cold temps, gray skies and bitter winds not to mention the snow we already have (and the several inches to come in the next few days).  All I can say is “bring it”!  While our basement is dank we have a 3rd floor which has sat empty for nearly a year.  Mark brought in the climbing cube from the yard, I dug out old Ikea curtains we don’t use anymore and a number of toys were hauled up.  It’s now M’s Playhouse and our (TV-free) hangout every night after dinner.  Stuff to climb, forts to build, flashlights to shine, daddy-horses to ride…it’s a lot of fun.






The snow can be fun, too.  Especially in snazzy new snowpants:



Hot Salted Love





Go directly to Starbucks and order yourself a Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Do NOT look at the nutritional information.

You’re welcome.

From the Back of the Closet

Please excuse the lack of posting, I had to go to Vegas for work (poor, poor me!) and was gone for 4 days. I won $47 on a free slot promo. I rock.

At the start of 2008 my employer launched a new employee wellness program that is absolutely awesome. First they rolled out a “stop smoking” program and offered counseling and drugs (gum and the patch) for free. This was a bit ironic as we are a no-smoking workplace; they screen you for nicotine when you are hired and if you test positive it’s “thanks, but no thanks – find another job”. But there were thousands of smokers grandfathered in and this program was for them, free of cost, if they wanted to use it.

Next, they added weight loss programs and gave us two options: their own doctor guided program and Weight Watchers. With WW you could do the on-line program, find a local meeting or attend one of the dozens of @work sessions they offered on our campuses. Again, this is totally without any out-of-pocket expense. On my campus alone of about 700 employees there are 170 attending the weekly meetings. We are in week 15 of the first 18-week session.

Lastly, just a few weeks ago, they rolled out the final phase: exercise. This gave us the option of using one of the several employer-run facilities or joining Curves for free (yes, they are still working on another option for an off-campus facility that is not women-only). I have no idea how many people are using this new freebie but I hear the campus gyms are crowded; I myself have joined Curves.

First let me say that this entire program is fantastic – they have succeeded in wiping out the main hurdles to wellness: time and money. Second, to sweeten the deal they added incentives: when you complete the programs and reach certain goals (10% weight loss, 100 gym visits in 10 months, etc) you get a $100 bonus. It’s beyond generous and I am so very grateful.

I joined WW@Work the day it started in my building and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been heavy my entire life but this last year I gained a so much weight I was miserable. New job, new house, new city, new stresses and I was at my heaviest ever – I weighed more then I did at 9 months pregnant. Training for the 3-day didn’t help as all that mileage left me starving and with the mentality of “I walk 7-10 miles a day – I can eat anything I want!” but with my metabolism that was disaster. I’ve done WW before, a few times, and had good results but usually got to a point where I couldn’t afford it anymore, quit, did it on my own for awhile then fell off the wagon.

Now at 15 weeks in I’ve dropped 40 pounds and weigh less then I have since sometime in 2005. Make no mistake, I still have a long way to go, but I have never had this great of success (granted, I lost 10 lbs. in the hospital, but still). 15 weeks have gone by and I have not yet had a single gain, although the weekly losses are slowing a bit. I started the 30-Day Shred before I got sick to help keep the momentum going but have not re-started since I’ve felt better and I really need to (I will post about Curves later – I’ve only gone twice because their schedule is goofy and I sweat too much to go at lunch).

The suits I bought when I started this job hang on me. My pants are beyond baggy. And, at least for one more month, we are broke.  All of this means that I’ve had to go shopping in the back of our spare closet. Luckily, like any woman who has ever struggled with weight loss I have a few sizes of things shoved in the back of the closet and I’ve started pulling out the smaller stuff. It’s a great feeling but some of these things are horribly out-dated. The cash bonus comes to us in December and it can’t come soon enough because mama needs some new clothes!

The Dora Debacle

Until well after M’s 1st birthday she watched very little TV – a few viewings of a Baby Einstein video was it. Since then we’ve slowly allowed more TV to creep into her day: a few minutes of Blue’s Clues in the mornings to allow us to finish getting ready in peace, some Sesame Street while cooking dinner seemed like a harmless distraction. She liked watching these shows but never asked for them or got angry when we turned them off. That all ended about a month ago when Dora the Explorer got her claws on M.

She caught the start of an episode when we didn’t turn the TV off quickly and it was an instant addiction. We thought it was pretty harmless and let her watch Dora instead of Sesame Street while we prepared dinner. Every time it came on she would absolutely freak out screaming “Dora! Dora!” and dancing around the room; we found this kind of funny. She quickly learned the names of all the characters and would shout them out when the came on screen. We saw trouble brewing when she would melt down when the show was over, but again we didn’t see this as a huge problem – just typical 2-year-old behavior, right?

The mistake came when I thought it would be a good idea to get a Dora DVD for our 12-hour car ride. The first problem was that I snagged a $5.99 deal on one which should have alerted me to the fact that this was a crappy movie. Let me just tell you that you should avoid Dora’s Pirate Adventure at all costs (here’s a little tip – it’s a musical, which I didn’t notice until loading it into the DVD player.  You should never, ever buy a cartoon musical). The second problem was as soon as it was over she immediately asked “again?” and when I refused and put in a new movie she lost her damn mind. If you’ve ever been in a car with a tantruming toddler and know you’re stuck in that car for several more hours then you understand you’ll do any thing to MAKE IT STOP. So Dora went back in and we watched it over and over while my brain started to slowly leak out of my ears.  60 minutes of whiny cartoon voices singing songs about lost pirate costumes is enough to make you want to jump out of a moving vehilce; hours of it is pure hell.

This Dora-fest during the ride led to a full-blown addiction.  While on vacation every time we came back to the condo she demanded “I want Dora!”  In the car for a quick trip to the grocery store – “I want Dora!”  The moment she woke up from a nap – “I want Dora!”  We decided that for the sake of our own sanity while on vacation she could watch all the Dora she wanted but when we got home it was time for an intervention.  We considered enrolling her in a 12-step program but opted to go cold turkey in the end.

I remembered reading some of Sundry’s old posts about breaking Riley’s addiction to TV by telling him the TV was broken so we tried it (I think it was Sundry – I can’t find the specific post).  By leaving the cable box off the screen is just blue so when M sneaks over and turns it on we just tell her it’s broken.  She gets pretty upset for a few minutes but we can usually distract her with a toy or book.  So far it’s worked pretty well although we have gone back to letting her watch a few minutes of  Blue’s Clues in the morning, especially if she’s up before 7; otherwise our mornings are chaotic.  We still let her watch the occasional episode of Dora the Evil Explorer*, and she still loses her shit when it’s over, but the battles are not nearly as tragic as they were a few weeks ago.

*One thing that takes the evil edge off Dora is the fact that M has started to drop Spanish words – “the moon is arriba!”,  “I salta” as she jumps, and in front of every closed door she shouts “abre!”

Thoughts in the afterglow

Last night was amazing.  I was fully expecting a repeat of 2000 where we would stay up until 4 AM and fall into bed exhausted but still not knowing.  We went out to dinner because I knew if I stayed home I would be a wreck – constantly flipping channels even though polls hadn’t closed yet.  By the time M was down for the night I still wasn’t ready so we watched some recorded TV for a bit.  By the time Mark and I decided to jump in the craziness thinks were already leaning heavily for Obama.  By the time he won Ohio I about fell over from the anxiety and excitement.  When the networks announced the new POTUS-elect so early I wasn’t ready – I was still worked up and anxious so I stayed up to watch the speeches. (let’s not even mention the fact that I couldn’t drink during all of this!)

McCain managed to earn back some of my respect with his speech.  THAT was the McCain that intrigued me in 2000.  THAT was the McCain I might have supported.  THAT was the McCain who could have made this a close election.  I was glad to see him reappear and hope his attitude returns to the Senate with him.  However, those supporters to booed at the mention of Obama?  That is why McCain lost.  Tactless and classless; very much like the way the McCain campaign was run.  The contrast between those boos and the cheers that went up in Chicago when Obama mentioned McCain is exactly what won this for Obama. 

Obama supporters don’t fear or hate John McCain.  They disagree with him on several issues and want the country to go in a different direction than he was proposing to take it.  Unfortunately, McCain supporters do fear and hate Barack Obama because they were told to by the staff of the McCain campaign and especially Sarah Palin.  Lies they told about Obama’s background were repeated ad nauseam even after they were exposed as lies.  The GOP decided personal attacks were more important then discussion of issues and last night the people said enough is enough. 

Barack Obama has enormous expectations to live up to and I don’t think any human alive could possibly meet those expectations.  But, I think he has already proven he will be a fantastic President – he has inspired and motivated countless people before even taking office.  From the very beginning Obama has told people if they want a change the need to work for it – they need to go out and make things happen.  He ran a disciplined campaign, surrounded himself with the best, and asked others to work with him towards a common goal.  I can’t imagine he wouldn’t take that same attitude with him to the White House.

Rock the Vote

Today I voted.  It was the 4th time I’ve been of voting age during a presidental election and it was by far the busiest polling place I’ve ever seen.   All told it took about an hour from arriving at the polling location to getting back to my car.  I’m anxious as as all get out today fearing a repeat of the stolen election of 2000 but am hopeful that things will run smoothly.

There was one moment at the polls that brought tears to my eyes and rose goosebumps on my skin.  There was an elderly African-American woman with a walker in front of me in line and I could tell she was struggling and tired. I found a chair for her to sit in as we waited and we chatted. I asked why she didn’t vote absentee and she straightened up and said proudly “Honey, I’ve waited my entire life to cast this vote. There was no way I wasn’t going be here in person and see my ballot go into that slot. I want to tell my grandkids and great-grandkids that I was here today.  This feels like the big moments of the Civil Rights days – change is coming but only if we all do something to help it along.”

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Trick or Treat!

After a week of cold, rainy, windy weather the clouds broke and we had an awesome warm fall evening to trick or treat last night. M was into it for about 4 houses but we went around the block anyway – she just refused to talk to anyone.

I was told to expect about 300 kids by friends in the neighborhood. I guess they didn’t figure in all the old farts on our street who don’t participate so we saw very little traffic. Now we are stuck with a Costco-size bag of leftovers of which I can’t have any. Mark’s office will be very happy on Monday!