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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Addition Goes Down the Toilet

Yes, we over in the Elliot household are getting a little wild. First it was the $3 zester. That was unbudgeted item. Alright maybe, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but this next item certainly was an unforeseen expense. Perhaps if we had acknowledged it a little earlier, it wouldn't have been unexpected.

The moaning groaning had been going on for about a year now. Every time we had a sitter, we would need to tell her not to think she needed to call the police or Ghostbusters if she heard it. Honestly at the beginning it would wake the boys up at night...not to mention me. The Big Giraffe is a deep sleeper so it didn't seem to bother him too much. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, so I sought help. The problem was actually solved, but a new one arose. It just couldn't be satisfied. It became so time consuming that I had just about had it. Until there was a flood. That was the final straw.

Today we are the proud new owners of a brand-new toilet. That's right. For the amount we spent on this toilet (which was the cheapest one we could find that had a good reputation) we could have bought a ton of zesters.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If your toilet is moaning and groaning it's probably time to call in a plumber.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:13 PM   4 comments
  • At 4/30/2008 9:23 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    We may be heading that way ourselves. The aqua (yes, aqua) 1960s edition clunker in our main bathroom seems to be groaning it's way into toilet history...

  • At 5/01/2008 6:53 AM, Anonymous Chantelle said…

    A new toilet! You are getting wild and crazy over there!

  • At 5/01/2008 9:42 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Ooooo. Someday I hope to get a shiny white or cream colored toilet. Instead of the baby blue version.

  • At 5/01/2008 11:56 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I am jealous of your aqua and baby blue toilets. My in-laws have a black toilet, which I do not recommend for a variety of reasons. My parents have a peach toilet with a grossly mismatched lid because the original one broke and no one makes peach colored toilets any more. Husband and I have a plain white one, albeit with a ridiculous clear plastic lid embedded with fake money.

    Anyway, congrats on your new member of the household. May you use it in good health!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name

I'll give you a moment to get the U2 song into your head (or click on it so you can actually hear it). It will set the tone for this post. Then you can be mad at me for the rest of the day when you can't get it back out of your head.

One of the many things that just leaves me staring in amazement is the way streets are named in Massachusetts. Many streets do not appear to have a name. That's not to be confused with streets that change names every block. I've had quite a few debates with people over the names of streets. They will insist that a road may be called Belmont Street or Boston Turnpike, while I will point out that if I follow the signs for Route 9 and ignore when it is called Belmont Street, Boston Turnpike, Highland Street, or any other name, I will get to Natick and see the fabulous new mall with the Cheesecake Factory. Quite honestly, if it takes you to cheesecake, does it really matter what it's called?

This brings me to this past Sunday. I decided to take a second stab at running the course (literally) for the triathlon. Well...most of the course. I didn't do the swimming. I did the biking again with no problem. Then armed with the handwritten list of street names for the running course that I had copied from the triathlon website, I took off. Everything seemed fine, until I realized I was back at the main street without having run through every street on my list. Based on the amount of time that elapsed, there were two possibilities: I had doubled my running speed or more likely, I had somehow lost a mile of the course. How weird does that sound? It's true though. The same thing happened the week before when my triathlon training buddy and I also attempted the running part of the course. The only difference was that time she had written the directions.

Determined to find where I took a wrong turn, I retraced my steps. That's when I realized the third possible explanation. I had stepped into a Harry Potter book. You HP fans know that in order to get to Diagon Alley, someone (usually Hagrid) has to tap a strange pattern of swipes onto what looks to the average person like a brick wall with his umbrella. The wall then magically disappears revealing a magical town. I believe that the triathlon course is similar. I needed Hagrid to bring his magic pink umbrella to tap on one of the luxury driveways in this neighborhood to magically cause another street to appear. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.

Of course in this very nice neighborhood it is hard to distinguish driveways from small streets; I suspect one of those non-driveways may be the missing link on the secret triathlon route. I did take a gander down several driveways, but after getting weird looks from a homeowner or two, I decided it was better to hedge my bets that the course will be marked on race day than spend the next several hours in jail after the cops were called on me for trespassing. That would make me want to run and want to hide. This does impact my race gear. In addition to needing shoes, a bike, a swim suit, a helmet, brown and a bag to wear over my head or throw up in (but not in that order), I also need a magic pink umbrella.

Alright, I am sure the prosaic among you may have come up with another explanation for the missing mile on my triathlon route. It is possible that the map on-line was wrong. It could also just be my mistake. My spinning instructor told me that she missed the microscopic street the first time she ran that triathlon while waving back at a friendly (or mischievous) neighborhood kid who waved at her. HP magic sounds way more fun. My favorite explanation remains the possibility that I developed superpowers and ran the until course in record breaking speed...

All I can do is what I told my training buddy. "When I go there, I go there with you. It's all I can do."

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: The amount of time required to finish a triathlon depends on your speed, the length of the route, and the amount of the route that you follow.

Cross posted at New England Mamas

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 5:50 PM   6 comments
  • At 4/29/2008 10:17 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    See? Now it's things like that that make me appreciate the (mostly) grid pattern of my city. It's so easy to find places.

    Maybe the wizards just don't like Minnesota though.

  • At 4/29/2008 10:55 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    i like magic as an explanation for just about anything. ;)

  • At 4/30/2008 12:10 PM, Blogger Kami said…

    I think your HP one is the most logical! Next in line is that you doubled your running time... or maybe both ;-)

    I am hoping that the route is marked on race day!

  • At 4/30/2008 6:45 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

    If you don't know the street names, then you don't deserve to know them. That is the logic in this here parts right? :)

    I like the HP logic. I will remember it the next time I'm missing a street.

  • At 4/30/2008 8:54 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Damn, I adore you.

    Also, there will be a Cheesecake Factory just down the street from us during the BlogHer conference. I am hoping that the other attendees somehow do not notice or like cheesecake so we will have an easier time getting a table. Or we can just get it to go and eat it in our hotel or wherever. (I've done that before, too.)

  • At 5/01/2008 9:49 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    One of my most confusing automobile navigation moments was when I was living in Boston and was trying to get a friend of mine's house on the other side of town. I stopped at an intersection and looked up to see signs designating the corner of Tremont and Tremont. Ahhh, the days before GPS.

    I was scratching my head over that one for quite awhile. :)

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Were You Raised by Wolves-Review

I just reviewed a fantastic book for The Parent Bloggers Network over at Flexible Parenting Reviews called Were You Raised by Wolves by Christie Mellor. It's about all those little life lessons you missed growing up. I really enjoyed it. Check it out.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:51 AM   0 comments
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Shower Me, Baby

I've hosted a handful of showers in the ten years (has it really been that long?) since I've graduated from college. This by no means makes me any kind of expert, particularly since each shower has been pretty different. I've hosted showers at a restaurant with just a few guests, at other people's homes with a lot of guests, and at my current home during the holiday season because my good dishes, which I love, are Christmas china.

Sunday, I threw a shower with two other women for a friend who's due with her second child next month. We decided to have a tea. I was quite excited about it. About once a year, I decide to embark on a journey of self-discovery. It leaves me feeling like I know myself a little bit better and have given myself a full mental workout. I think the everyday word for this is baking. That's right. Before packing for this journey going to the grocery store, I conjured up images of hairnets, safety goggles, bio-hazard suits and Bunsen burners. Maybe that was a little extreme. I did announce to the Big Giraffe though importantly that I was off to bake. He inquired what I was baking first, and I announced sandwiches. He looked puzzled. I clarified that baking to me means having to deal with anything that makes a mess on my counters. Placing school projects and mail on the counter also falls into that category. Wow, I really do have a lot of experience with baking!

I had fun with my baking. That's why I like to keep it as the rare treat: it allows to me fully enjoy the experience leaving me wanting to do it again, but not anytime soon. That and the fact that I munch on the extras and thus always leave a baking session feel slightly ill and exhausted.

I'll leave you in suspense regarding the menu for a moment longer. We used several people's tea cups and saucers so that every guest had a unique cup. We also used four different tea pots including mine. In addition to coffee, an assortment of teas, punch and water with limes, we had the following menu straight out of Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook which I definitely will be adding to my Amazon wish list.

  • Herbed goat cheese sandwiches*
  • Cheddar and chutney on mini-brioche*
  • Lime curd and strawberries*
  • Lemon bars*
  • Mini fruit tarts
  • Ganache cupcakes
  • shortbread cookies half dipped in chocolate

*Denotes items made by yours truly.

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:52 PM   10 comments
  • At 4/29/2008 4:06 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    Wow impressive table! That's a lot of effort you've put into it.

    ...but can you explain to me what exactly is a "shower". For me it is simply a bathroom activity, but clearly it has other meanings as well :p. What makes a shower different from a party or guests coming over?

  • At 4/29/2008 7:26 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    That's so nice that you threw a shower. I only had a baby shower with #1, I guess people don't think you need stuff for subsequent babies around here!

    Looks like yummy goodies!

  • At 4/29/2008 9:32 AM, Blogger Mayberry said…

    Wow! Beautiful table and everything looks delicious. I love the idea of a tea.

  • At 4/29/2008 11:17 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    How absolutely lovely! I'm sure it was a delightful shower.

  • At 4/29/2008 11:28 AM, Anonymous Suzanne said…

    Hey Goofball - A shower is when you "shower" a woman with gifts. Generally, these are when someone is going to have a baby (a baby shower helps them get all the baby gear they need) and a bridal shower (to help equip the bride to set up her new home). Please note that showers usually denote that women are resposible for providing gifts to their female friends, while the guy who is usually on part of the reason that a shower is thrown does not require his friends to give gifts.... (Of course, generally the men do not get to attend the party, either.) Many women, however, are not crabby bitches like me and more appreciate the tradition because it allows them to bond with other women and support them, which is the nice part of the event.

    Anyway, Alex, you did a great job with the shower! Everything sounds and looks scrumptious.

  • At 4/29/2008 11:45 AM, Blogger JulietteMerry said…

    Your friends are very lucky that you are their friend. You can have a tea for me anytime. That food sounds delicious.

  • At 4/29/2008 12:10 PM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    Color me impressed!

  • At 4/29/2008 2:14 PM, Blogger Goofball said…

    @Suzanne, thanks for the info!!! Bridal or baby showers do not exist in Belgium. We just bring a gift when we go to the wedding or when we visit the baby.

  • At 4/29/2008 5:04 PM, Blogger skiplovey said…

    That table looks gorgeous and delicious. This post was so funny, I love the way you talk about cooking as if it's a science experiment. Looks like everything turned out great. Maybe you'll try it again next year then?

  • At 4/30/2008 12:42 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    I am one lucky girl! :)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

A New Addition

I'm going to leave you in suspense for minute. The Big Giraffe and I got married almost 7 years ago. We both lived in our own apartments and we each owned a set of dishes, pots, pans, silverware and kitchen appliances. When it was time to register, we decided that since we already owned these things (some in duplicate) we weren't going to register for them. We would only register for things that we absolutely needed like the waffle maker...the one that's been sitting in a closet for almost 7 years that we've used twice.

As we looked at aisles and aisles of kitchenware, I remember thinking that it was all such a waste. Didn't people know how to minimize? In my boldness, I may have even said something to that effect to the salesperson in my engagement giddiness. This giddiness is now making me blush as I type this.

Now that I have delved more into cooking over the past four years of being a stay at home mom, and my husband has gotten into cooking on the weekends, I would like to go back and shake my 25 year old self and ask what I was thinking when I registered! Why didn't we replace our things with good stuff that we actually liked instead of the odds and ends of things we already had most of which weren't in great shape? Why didn't we expand on what we had? Why on earth do we have a waffle maker sitting in our guest closet? Alright that's a conversation I should also be having right now with my 32 year old self.

Last night I actually baked. I'll pause for a moment of silence because this is a rare event in our house. Pause. This was for a baby shower that I'm hosting today. One of things I made was lemon bars. Lemon bars (or at least my recipe for lemon bars) require lemon zest. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. For the past seven years, I have used many recipes that have required zest. Most of them tend to be low fat chicken ones that require orange zest. I have always done the logical thing: skip the zest. Why did I need to skip it? Well, a zester is one of the items that I scoffed at when registering. Truth be told, I'm not sure I had even seen one before I registered, but I do remember what it looked like at Crate and Barrel when I did register. The handle was shaped like a lime.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough, and I shelled out $3 for a cheapo zester at the grocery store while fully aware that had a I registered for one instead of... oh let's just say for example... a waffle iron, I would have a nice cute one that didn't look like it was going to fall apart. We are now the proud owners of a cheap zester! Note to self: next time I'm near a place that sells decent kitchenware, buy a decent zester. Second note to self: do something about waffle iron.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you plan to bake with zest, you need a zester.

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:58 AM   11 comments
  • At 4/27/2008 8:53 AM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Oh, I KNOW. We had a very small wedding (20 people) and didn't register...anywhere.

    So we have no good set of dishes, no high-end silverware, no fancy mixer, etc.

    Yeah. I regret it sometimes.

  • At 4/27/2008 11:22 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Really? I've never needed a zester...and I cook all the time!

    The waffle iron? Yeah, it would be in a closet at our house too.

  • At 4/27/2008 11:55 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    We finally gave our waffle iron to some folks who appreciate it more than we ever did. ;-)

  • At 4/27/2008 12:24 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    all my china. why did i register for it. if I had waited about 2 years I could have had a lovely set from my grandparent's farm.

    we got rid of our waffle iron. and our wok. that thing took up WAY too much room, and my frying pan worked just fine for stir-fry, thank you.

  • At 4/27/2008 1:31 PM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    We registered and you know what, people brought any old thing and nothing from our registry. A few weeks ago - Husband went out and brought a full 8 piece ceramic dish ware set plus an 8 piece silverware set and serving spoons along with napkins, placemats ect. And you know what, he should have brought a 16 piece setting (what with 5 of us, that means we can only have 3 guests at a time or serve on mis-matched dish ware).

  • At 4/27/2008 2:23 PM, Blogger Stacey said…

    If you are not using the waffle iron.... it is the thing I failed to register for 12 years ago that I now wish I had. I have a crock pot that sees use 3 times a year, maybe, that everyone convinced me I had to have instead. I'm probably the only person in the world who cannot make a decent tasting meal in a crock pot, everything comes out tasting like warm water.

    I use a small grater to zest things

  • At 4/27/2008 7:30 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    a cheese grater works just as well if nott better than a zester... and it's a multitasker automatically making it better in my book. :)

  • At 4/27/2008 9:39 PM, Blogger Bitter Mom said…

    I got the C&B zester as a wedding gift (but not the one shaped like a lime). It's going on 4 years, and I have yet to use it. I'm not sure I even know how.

    I use lemon/orange peel from my spice rack in recipes instead.

  • At 4/27/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    Mmmm..those lemon bars were DAMN good! Well worth using real zest :) Baby C appreciated them for sure.

  • At 4/27/2008 10:57 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I think you are onto something. You should set up a registry where people can list the items they got for their wedding but no longer want. People who need those items can offer to trade the useless ones that they received for something on the list. It's brilliant.

    As for me, I wish held firm and didn't register for china. We received a vegetable bowl and gravy boat. That's it - no plates or anything else to go with them. Two useless items for the exchange registry.

  • At 4/28/2008 7:48 AM, Blogger Not Jenny said…

    I don't own a zester, but I do own a microplane grater that I love enough I would marry. It zests, it grates fresh nutmeg, hard cheese, garlic (don't own a garlic press either)..., I use it all the time. I also use my waffle iron regularly--I hate buying eggos and a double batch of waffles on a Sunday morning gives me enough to feed the kiddos twice. Leftover waffles freeze beautifully and heat up in the toaster quite nicely.
    I buy plain white dishes from the bargain rack at the hardware store--as we break one set of dishes a new one integrates very easily even if the plates have different shapes and designs.
    I am cheap, what can I say???

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Summer is Here-Itch Itch

Summer is here! No, I'm not referring to the gorgeous weather we've had the past couple of weeks or the fact that it's actually starting to get light when I get up in the morning and stay light in the evenings. I'm not even referring to the fact that the kids were in shorts today or that they've been sleeping well from all our excursions to the park. Today I had actually proof. It was in the form of something small and brownish. In fact at first I thought it was a piece of the brownie that my older son (OS) had been eating. I figured my younger son (YS) had gotten his hands on it. That's why I was so surprised when I went to brush it off YS's head and it didn't budge. I'm sure you can guess what it was: a tick. I did what any reasonable parent would do; I invited my friend who was with me to see what it looked like in case her baby got one. Yes, summer is here. Alright, I know that summer doesn't officially start until June 21 (YS's birthday) and that you can get ticks all year long, but I don't generally think about them until summer.

In case you are wondering this was a dog tick which is big, not a deer tick which is small. The advice from the pediatrician was to remove it and then clean the area with soap and water. I just need to keep an eye on it for swelling, redness or rash.
has some illustrative pictures.
American Dog TicDeer Tic
American Dog TickDeer Tick

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Watch out for ticks.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:25 PM   9 comments
  • At 4/25/2008 6:09 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    I've heard before that ticks are most active in June and September. Joy.

    And also a little thing I learned, ticks have to be attached for at least 24 hours to pass Lyme disease. Your pictures don't do deer ticks justice, they are TINY! We've had to pull a few off in the past.

    A great way to keep an eye on tick bites (and what we do) is grab a fine tip sharpie and draw a tattoo around the area. Anyplace we pull a tick from, gets a bug, or flower (or if Husband's drawing, anything they ask for). I say sharpie because it actually will stay on the skin for about a week or so. That way you don't forget where your watching!

  • At 4/25/2008 6:29 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    Eeeew. I had forgotten about ticks. We don't get them down here... just palmetto bugs and mosquitoes.

    Love the idea of a sharpie tattoo... but it does beg the question: what would you draw on YS's head?

  • At 4/25/2008 7:00 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    I've never seen ticks before. Although they live in belgium too. I guess I don't spend enough time outdoors then?

  • At 4/25/2008 9:11 AM, Blogger K said…

    I just found your blog and I'm loving it! We've already had two ticks so far. I HATE them just thinking about them makes me itchy all over

  • At 4/25/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Ewwww. Just another thing that I have the heebie jeebies from. That and leeches...gross me out.

  • At 4/25/2008 3:00 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

    Whoa...! Scary .

  • At 4/27/2008 7:19 PM, Blogger Tracey said…

    You are making me ITCHY!!!

    I remember when Justin came home from camping with Cub Scouts last year... I got to pick off 3 ticks from his chest and back. Good times...

  • At 4/27/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    Sick and Double Sick! I hope H doesn't get any because (a) it will necessitate a trip to wherever someone will get it off for me, because I will just sit in a corner and be useless, and (b) SICK!

  • At 4/27/2008 10:59 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Um, ew.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Heavy Breathing

This past Tuesday, my triathlon training buddy and I met with a personal trainer for a running session in the park. It did strike me as ironic that one day after the Boston marathon, we were running around a dinky park.

Much to my surprise, the running went really well. In fact I would go so far as to say it's the best running experience I've had so far, even with all the hills. There was just one problem: I'm a heavy breather. No seriously, I'm incredibly noisy for the first mile I run, and I swear that you don't have to be running next to me to hear it. Yes, I'm still noisy for the rest of my run, but like a car that's warmed up, I am not quite as loud. The few people I've run with have confirmed this. On bad days I feel like a noisy water buffalo with cement shoes. It was a lot worse before I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma. I am making progress, right?

I mentioned my concerns to the trainer. She told me not to worry; over time it will get much better. She pointed out that the participants in the Boston marathon are breathing fine by mile ten. I looked at our surrounding, small park, and thought about the Boston marathon. I felt like I had crossed mile 26, but I hadn't even gotten anywhere near mile 10. Hmmm...guess I have a lot of work to do.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Running lightens heavy breathing.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:33 PM   7 comments
  • At 4/24/2008 8:12 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Well, everything begins with the first step, right? Heavy breathing or not, you are doing it, and that's what matters.

  • At 4/24/2008 1:07 PM, Blogger Chantelle said…

    Hear, hear! I think it is awesome that you are doing the triathlon.

  • At 4/24/2008 4:18 PM, Blogger Tracey said…

    Heh. Yeeaaahhh... I SO cannot relate. Read my post. Heh. Running. That's rich...

  • At 4/24/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger skiplovey said…

    Good to know, whenever I get around to running 10 miles, wait that's probably not going to happen. I'm more of a walking type.
    That's great that you're following through. That must make you feel good.

  • At 4/24/2008 6:46 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    Yeah, what she said!

    You are high on my list of personal positive influences. What you are doing is awesome and so what if it takes you awhile to warm up. You're *doing* it!

  • At 4/25/2008 7:27 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    You are just rocking for doing this, AE! You GO, Girl, noisy breathing and all!

  • At 4/25/2008 4:55 PM, Blogger Amy said…

    Oh, I'm a huge heavy breather when I run. I can run a half marathon, but I sound like I'm going to die while I'm doing it! And I breathe heavy from the first few strides.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

It is recommended that you hum the relevant 80's song while reading this post.

A short while back, I decided to "investigate" getting a good pair of sunglasses. This involved me asking numerous friends what sunglasses they wore, putting a query out on the moms group list-serve, and then reading various reviews of different sunglasses recommended for triathlons. For a few nights, I would glance up from my laptop and share significant findings with the Big Giraffe who by the end didn't even pretend he was paying attention. I believe at one point he said something to the effect of "Enough with the sunglasses. Just get them."

The problem was that I've always been an owner of gas station quality sunglasses. The lenses popped out, and the frames tended to be slightly askew. Sometimes a lot more that slightly. Last year, I paid a bit more and was much happier with my sunglasses, but I still had issues with them not fitting right and the lenses popping out; this would be particularly bad if this happened during the biking portion of my triathlon. I have enough issues without adding sudden blindness to the equation.

Today I took the plunge and went and got a pair of Sunglasses. Sally HP came with me and assured me that they looked fine. She even put a very different pair of sunglasses for comparison. She pointed out that my pair looked normal, while the pair that she had grabbed were probably fine for racing but would make you look like a tool as soon as the race was over. The salesman laughed causing Sally to later wonder if perhaps he had owned a pair of those sunglasses.

When the Big Giraffe came home tonight, after warning my older son (OS) not to touch my sunglasses or their case, I went and put on my new sunglasses. I was then wearing my sunglasses at night, hence the title of this post. I turned around so he could see them all excited about my new purchase. He started laughing. I had an immediate flashback to Sally's tool comment. Great, my first pair of good sunglasses and I looked continue using 80s terms...a complete dweeb. The Big Giraffe suggested I look at our older son (OS) because apparently my new sunglasses had impaired my vision. What?! All afternoon I had been enjoying the fact that I could see really well! What hadn't I seen? Apparently, OS had unbeknownst to me grabbed the case and was playing with it.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Reverse psychology may be a good thing.

I'm over at New England Mamas today talking about a little confession of mine.
posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:14 PM   4 comments
  • At 4/23/2008 9:43 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Congrats on your first pair of grown up sunglasses! I also used to get cheap sunglasses for quite some time. Although it was just more practical for me cash-wise since I kept losing them. Now I've had some "expensive" ones for several years that I got free when my hubby bought some Ray-Bans...and I haven't lost them yet. Of course now that I wrote that they'll disappear.

  • At 4/23/2008 10:40 PM, Blogger Count Mockula said…

    FYI, your recommendation was totally unnecessary. It was unavoidable.

  • At 4/27/2008 10:52 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    I maintain that the glasses look fabulous on you. Believe me, I was offering an honest opinion since you'll be wearing them around me, and if you look like a tool, I will too. Guilty by association.:)

  • At 8/09/2008 4:20 AM, Anonymous Oakley Sunglasses said…

    This is a GREAT find...thanks for sharing!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

My Earth Day Post-Written by a Purchaser of Disposable Diapers

As you hopefully know, tomorrow is Earth Day. I thought I would write a post about what we do at the Elliot household.

We're not tree huggers in this household. My older son (OS) wore and my younger son (YS) wears disposable diapers. When I was in college and later living in my first apartment, I would go through periods were I would be totally green, and then I would swing right back. To me trying to become greener is like trying to lose weight. I'm sure many of you are wincing at that analogy, but to me it's true. In both cases, I'm doing something to become healthier (or make the earth healthier) and they both involve trying to find ways to substitute healthier products, whether reusable grocery bags or turkey dogs on the grill, to become healthier. Most importantly, if I fall off the wagon, I can get right back on again.

That last part was huge for me. I was completely all or nothing. However, since I've comes to terms with the fact that every little bit makes a difference, I feel better about trying to go green. Diapers are a really good example. Yes, we do use disposable diapers. Actually the Big Giraffe and I did talk about using cloth diapers numerous times, but decided to go with disposable. However, we do have the maximum number of recycling bins our town permits (hey if you saw how little our neighbors recycle you would probably think it's a big deal) and we try really hard to buy in bulk, reuse Ziplock bags when appropriate (not bags that have held a dirty diaper), use plastic containers, and try and use mainly real water bottles instead of disposable. I just bought Sigg water bottles this week for our family! We changed most of our cleaners to environmentally friendly cleaners as well as our liquid dish soap and hand soap.

This is not to say that I don't ever use bleach. Yes, whenever I host a playdate or playgroup where someone has pet allergies, I do use bleach on the counters. I will use Lysol on the kitchen floor because we have two cats and a dog and I don't want to mess around with that. That's only about once a month though. Yes, there are times when we run out of soap and I will grab whatever is on hand so to speak at CVS, and it's not green. Or times like this past Halloween where they had really cute handsoap in a pumpkin shaped dispenser that encouraged my 4 year old to wash his hands or a nice scented soap that I really like just for the very rare treat. There also are times when I just don't have a plastic container to spare so I use ziplock baggies and throw them out if they contained something messy and we're out for the day. Likewise, I haven't found a container or insulated lunch box that is compatible for my son's lunch at school, so one day a week I do use a ziplock bag. I remain on the look-out for something that will work and allow his lunch to keep cool.

In our household, there's definitely lots of room for improvement, but I feel by focusing on what we can do instead of what we can't do or aren't doing, we are striving to become greener.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Every bit of green helps.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:24 PM   9 comments
  • At 4/21/2008 8:15 PM, Anonymous selfmademom said…

    This reminds me that I need to get back on the "green" wagon! I've been slacking lately... thanks for the reminder.

  • At 4/21/2008 8:49 PM, Anonymous mayberry said…

    It does help, and is worth doing. I am amazed at the hubbub around Earth Day this year -- and I've already learned a few more easy things I could do.

  • At 4/21/2008 9:30 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    You know, I really think anything that we do to cut back is worthwhile. Aaaaand I think there's a strong case for doing things the easy way at times too.

  • At 4/21/2008 9:40 PM, Blogger Ted & Laura said…

    like everything in's about balance. We do disposable and cloth diapers. We recycle as much as we can, but since we have to DRIVE out of our way to the recycling place, it seems a bit strange. I don't reuse small ziplock bags. I do reuse big ones. And I have finally broken my 1984 addiction to aqua net ;)

  • At 4/22/2008 6:40 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    Target carries cute small square (and round) ice packs. I usually throw one in a lunch box.

  • At 4/22/2008 10:15 AM, Blogger jodifur said…

    We are too. I've started buying the method cleaning products and like them. We use more dish cloths and cloth napkins instead of paper.

    I bought disposable diapers today too!

  • At 4/22/2008 12:02 PM, Blogger Suzanne Reisman said…

    We buy bottled water, but I reuse the containers so it takes forever before I throw one out. I've always reused plastic baggies until they are repulsive. My lunch bag is whatever shopping bag a store gave me, until it gets torn, and then I take another one from my bag stash. I also reuse gift bags. (Is that re-gift bagging? Ha!) Grocery bags are used to dump the rabbit's dirty litter. We recycle. Hmmm... I do a little more than I thought I did. Yay!

    Also, I take public transportation or walk everywhere. Of course, that's just about the only way to get around where I live, so there's no real bragging rights in that.

  • At 4/22/2008 1:42 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    I think doing things bit by bit helps tremendously.

  • At 4/22/2008 1:42 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    i think what's important is to keep the green that you have and make efforts to add new way to be green to your life style.

    Your analogy of weight loss is entirely appropriate. Going Green is a lifestyle change, just like eating healthy and exercising are life style changes. What's important to remember is that even after you've dropped the weight you don't go running out to the store and buy a box of HoHos.

    Same with living Green. Now that you have the initial step down in your house, choose something else to implement.

    Happy Earth Day.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Boys and a Pink Mermaid

Back in the fall, we all took a trip to the aquarium with my mother in law. She bought my older son (OS) a pink mermaid doll at his request. It looks just like a Groovy Girl doll with a tail. He liked it, but other toys definitely took priority. Every once in a while the mermaid would make an appearance and both boys would play with her. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly my younger son (YS) was playing more and more with her. I think it may have started when he wanted to play with OS's favorite toy which is a ratty Groovy Girl doll. Not wanting to part with her, I think he may have given YS the mermaid as a temporary distraction. It was effective, but it proved not to be so temporary. Around the same time, the boys also watched the Little Mermaid at a friend's house. They began to request it at home. Whether it was a single event or a combination of events, one thing is for sure: YS is attached to the pink mermaid. He always wants the pink mermaid.

Of course you more experienced parents may know where this one is going. Now OS is claiming ownership on the mermaid. I know he really has no interest in it except to exert his claim over it. Needless to say, this has caused enough tears from each boy to float a mermaid, although OS now seems to understand the mermaid is YS's special toy. He gained understanding from my promise to take them to the aquarium (which should be a treat in itself) to buy him a new mermaid. Not surprisingly OS wasn't happy about this last part. He wants the original mermaid, which technically was of course his. The mermaid that now has a ripped tail and is covered in who knows. The mermaid that has already had numerous baths in the washing machine and needs another one.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It's never too late to stake ownership on a toy.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:40 PM   3 comments
  • At 4/21/2008 6:20 AM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    Oh my! But would OS be just as jazzed to have YS get a new one while he keeps the old one? I'm sure you'll be able to 'sell' the new one to OS..Hmmmm, wonder what H is going to want next? :)

  • At 4/21/2008 6:25 AM, Blogger Chantelle said…

    For me and my sister it was a dolphin bookmark. My mom ended taking the contested item away so that no one could have it. Twenty some years later, we are best friends, but I can still strongly recall the feelings of resentment I felt when she took my darn bookmark. Silly isn't it?
    Then again, we shared clothing all through high school and neither of us tends to steal stuff from other people anymore. I guess, if you can't learn the lessons of possession and sharing with your siblings, where can you learn them.
    I bet those two are going to laugh about that mermaid someday.

  • At 4/21/2008 7:39 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Ah, sibling rivalry. It's so fun. NOT.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


A couple of months ago, my doctor gave me some inhaler samples. The box said that the inhaler contained 200 metered units. I was to use two units before exercising. This inhaler should have lasted me a few months. Yet one day it stopped working. I used the next sample. After a few weeks the same thing happened.

My doctor called in a prescription and when I picked it up I asked the pharmacist about the samples. She said that many times samples are just that...a sample. I questioned the fact that the boxes of the samples and the box for the prescription were identical. She said that didn't matter.

I used my prescription inhaler for a couple weeks and once again it stopped working. I couldn't figure out what was going on because my prescription was to use two puffs four times a day. I only used two puffs one time a day. Clearly something was wrong. Was I using too much of it? I didn't think that was possible. An inhaler is premeasured meaning it doesn't work like an aerosol can. I was worried that it would stop working right before my triathlon. Just what I needed. My mom suggested going back to the pharmacy and showing them how I was using it. Right before I left Suzanne called me. I asked her about her experience with her inhalers . She told me that she hadn't experienced anything like this. I then asked her if she ever washed hers, because I vaguely remembered seeing a diagram on the insert from the inhaler box. You know, the type of inserts that come inside medications and tampon boxes? I usually throw them away, but I happened to have saved one. Suzanne mentioned that she did occasionally wash hers.

After getting off the phone, I washed my inhaler out. Then I took a puff. A very small piece of crud apparently flew off into my mouth and then the whole inhaler worked. Gross. Was this from the time I didn't brush my teeth before spinning? Was this a dog breath piece of crud? Same thing with one of the samples, although this time fortunately without crud. I still need to test out the third one. I went back and read the directions. Turns out you are supposed to wash the inhaler at least once a week to prevent medicine build up over the opening of the spray. Phew, not dog breath crud.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Wash your inhaler at least once per week.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:24 PM   6 comments
  • At 4/19/2008 9:12 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Huh. Who knew? I guess I should have been washing mine when I had one too!

  • At 4/20/2008 6:47 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    It's interesting you put this under Mom care. Don't you think you would have totally been fanatic about the instructions if it was for either of the boys? And yet we are so much more careless about ourselves. I'm glad you found the problem!

  • At 4/20/2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

    Heather, that's what everyone's been saying who has inhalers that I've told this too. Maybe there's something about this inhaler that makes it particularly prone to build up.

    Jen, you are absolutely right! There's no way I would have left the pediatrician's office without asking a million questions about how to care for the inhaler and when I should plan on replacing it.

  • At 4/20/2008 9:01 AM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    SICK! Nothin' like a little mystery meat going down the ole throat at 5am! Thank god it was just medicine...think about your hairspray, though...I have to run mine under hot water to get the crap off the nozzle every once in a blue moon if I go crazy with it (no, it's not Aqua Net)

  • At 4/21/2008 4:30 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I took my own advice yesterday and cleaned out my inhaler. It works much better now!

  • At 4/21/2008 5:08 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…


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Friday, April 18, 2008

Fine Motor Skills Finds

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions! I have found out some interesting things about fine motor skills in the past day.

First of all, I decided of course that I'm going to do the suggested activities on the worksheet from my older son's (OS) teacher. Since my younger son (YS) wants to do everything that OS does, he'll also be participating. However, since YS has always had remarkable fine motor skills, this extra work will probably give him superhero skills where at the tender age of 21 months, he'll be able unlock the deadbolt go outside and hotwire my car.

I talked to a friend of mine who was a kindergarten teacher for many years and she told me something very interesting. She said contrary to what people might think, many times the best way to work on fine motor skills is to work on the upper arm strength. Of course I should have OS do the activities for fine motor skills, but I should alternate them with upper arm strength skills; one day for fine motor skills and one day for doing things like throwing a ball.

The reason behind this is that if the upper arms aren't strong enough, it affects the way the entire arm functions. It doesn't go backwards though so working on fine motor skills does not increase arm strength. Too bad about that or I could trade my weight lifting for typing on my computer!

One of the questions she asked me is if OS crawled using his arms. Not surprisingly he didn't. He was a "butt hopper". I don't know how to explain because I've never seen another kid do it nor had his pediatrician, but it was like he frog hopped on his bottom. He would actually get clearance. My friend said that he may have never fully developed his arm strength.

Then she told me the big question. Get ready because here it is: can your child do the monkey bars? Yes, you did read that right. There is a correlation between kids doing monkey bars and penmanship. The better the kids are at the monkey bars, the better the penmanship. The Big Giraffe looked stunned by this realization because he really struggled with monkey bars as a kid and he still struggles with his penmanship now. It all has to do with arm strength. Needless to say, OS cannot hold on for more than a second or two much less attempt to move to the next bar.

We actually had already been discussing enrolling OS in gymnastics. He's currently in swimming and I didn't want to do too much. However, school is over next month so I think two activities for the summer would be really fun for him. Actually for all my initial issues with art class, I soon began swim team and did gymnastics and I would go so far as to say the fine motor skills are one of my strengths now. In the meantime, we will be doing fun and exciting things like picking up pasta and dried beans with tongs and working on monkey bars at the park. I have a feeling the Big Giraffe will be right behind OS in line for the monkey bars.

I talked to OS's teacher this morning and she said that OS's struggle is age appropriate. Phew! Other kids in the class also got the note.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Got bad penmanship? Go for a swing or two across the monkey bars.

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:46 AM   5 comments
  • At 4/18/2008 10:54 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    what are Monkey Bars????????

  • At 4/18/2008 11:40 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    I'm surprised with the monkey bars! most kids in my daughter's first grade class are just starting to be able to do the monkey bars! And I never could, but have fairly decent hand writting. My oldest cannot move from bar to bar, but she can hang forever. We got them a jungle gym with bars so they'll probably get plenty of practice this summer!

    My best friends daughter was a butt hopper! It was very weird and I never saw anyone else do it.

  • At 4/18/2008 11:57 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Hmmm. That's really interesting stuff.

    My daughter was an Army crawler. She'd pull herself along with just her arms. It was quite a feat. I think she transitioned to hands and knees for a week or two before she just stood up and walked.

    My son looked a little like a frog.

    I think it's actually really cool to see the different methods babies come up with to get moving.

    I'll have to ask my hubs if he was good at Monkey bars because his handwriting is atrocious.

  • At 4/18/2008 2:36 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Actually, I have excellent, beautiful, flowing penmanship but I have never, ever been able to go across the monkeybars. (Goofball, mokeybars are a tall play structure in which kids swing with their arms from one rung to the next to get across.) My upper arm strength is basically non-existent. I can do calligraphy, though, so I guess there is an exception to every rule.

    On a semi-related note, it always cracks me up when people tell me that I have beautiful handwriting. Is that not a bizarre compliment?

  • At 4/18/2008 4:11 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

    It is just a correlation. It has to do with upper arm strength so it's how long you can hold yourself not necessarily how far you can go across. However, I think her point is that most kids would probably not just hang there if they could go on to the next bar. I'm sure it's largely dependent on how often you go on the monkey bars therefore someone who's at the park every day and struggles with the monkey bars vs. someone who's at the park every day and can go across.

    Whirlwind, I was surprised by that to but I do have to say I've also been surprised by the number of kids OS's age who can do one or two bars.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Am Not My Child-Repeat After Me

This morning at playgroup I asked one of the moms who is a teacher about bullying. This has been a topic on our moms group list-serve and I was surprised that no one had suggested talking with the parents to handle the situation. I wasn't sure if you weren't supposed to do that or if I had missed an email where the mom explained that either she already had talked to the other mom or had chosen not to for a specific reason. Turns out it was the latter. However, my friend did say that a lot of times parents don't want to hear that their child is being a bully.

You probably know where this one is going. Immediately I swore to myself that I was never going be one of "those" parents who didn't want to hear that her child was less than perfect. I mentally scoffed at those parents. Then I went to pick up my older son (OS) from preschool.

After unclipping his backpack and strapping him into his booster seat, I opened up his backpack and noticed a note from his teacher. It contained a printed list of things to do to improve fine motor skills. At the top was a sentence from the teacher suggesting that OS do some of them. I felt myself getting defensive. OS didn't have a problem with his fine motor skills! His skills are just fine. He's four not fourteen! There's no reason that being a little behind in fine motor skills should cause someone to almost fail art class and thus be in danger of repeating second grade. Oh wait a minute, that was me! Who exactly was I talking about? I silently said my little mantra "I am not my child, my child is not me".

I still felt a little indignant. Then I remembered that only seconds earlier I had found myself questioning whether OS may have a little difficulty with fine motor skills. After all, he cannot strap himself into his booster seat with his seatbelt, and he cannot easily clip the straps of his backpack across his chest, much less unclip them. While his teacher had mentioned to me that she still has to help some of the kids in the class, most of them can do these things themselves. OS is one of the youngest in the class...though. Hmm...apparently I just can't get past this art class. It probably is a good idea to do some Crafts for the Clueless-worthy activities follow some of the suggestions from the worksheet. Of course I left a message for the teacher to to discuss it.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: You are not your child-repeat after me.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:55 PM   9 comments
  • At 4/16/2008 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The magazines that both boys get monthly, probably have activities that would be of benefit.

  • At 4/17/2008 7:52 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    I'm sure every parent struggles with taking comments regarding their child too personal. It's good that you try to be aware of that.

  • At 4/17/2008 9:24 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    I can identify with this. I get all defensive when given suggestions of what to do to help my kids. I don't know why I take it that way. I suppose I'm thinking it's a reflection of me.

    Good mantra...I think I need to start repeating that to myself.

  • At 4/17/2008 9:49 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Great message to remember.

  • At 4/17/2008 1:31 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    Hey Alex... You aren't your child, but the small motor thing can have genetic components. It's not a big deal for OS, but if he doesn't balk at trying the exercises, why not? OTOH, sometimes preschool teachers forget differences between boys and girls - and there's no doubt the girls trump the boys (generally speaking) in small motor skills in that age group.

  • At 4/17/2008 5:30 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

    It's hard not to be initially defensive. I mean it is your baby after all. I think many of us have the inclination to get defensive when we receive criticisms about our children. We want to believe that our children are truly perfect. (or that we are the only ones who can point out their shortcomings)

  • At 4/17/2008 9:28 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    So I have this great book at Jen of a2eatwrite suggested to me that has activities for kids 0-5. Email me and I'll send you some descriptions of motor skills building games for OS's age range.:)

  • At 4/17/2008 9:36 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Damn, you are hilarious.

  • At 4/18/2008 8:35 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    a lesson i often have to relearn. ;)

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When Your Child is the Instigator

I remember when my older son (OS) was just a tiny baby. When I looked at him, I imagined that he would always be gurgling and sweet. Alright I knew that he wouldn't remain like that forever but to be honest whenever I saw kids melting down I did secretly believe that OS wouldn't ever do such a thing. Come on, you haven't ever wondered if it was the parent? Be honest.

Over time, I have come to accept, begrudgingly, OS's temper tantrums. Today however I had a big realization: OS is an instigator. There I said it. It's true though.

Sally HP and I were getting ready to drive back from the Magic Wings aka the Butterfly Museum. She had bought butterfly lollipops for the kids. She even commented on how great the sticks were because they were plastic and thus wouldn't dissolve and get all gross like regular lollipop sticks do. I was impressed with her thoughtfulness. I was also impressed with the size of the sticks. I worried that OS would use it to poke at his brother or Sally's son. Fortunately the kids were all excited about the candy and quietly ate it.

Or so I thought. Then we heard a noise...kind of a scratching sound. I was baffled about what it could be. Then Sally asked OS to stop scratching the ceiling of her car with his lollipop. That's right, OS quickly figured out that the nice long lollipop pole stick could reach the ceiling. Oh, and he didn't finish eating the candy first. Of course, the other two boys wanted in on the game and before we knew it all three of them were scratching the ceiling with their wet sticky lollipops. I believe Sally indicated that this is what she should have expected from giving kids lollipops attached to the end of fishing poles. I can't say for sure because I was laughing so hard.

Of course OS stopped doing the scratching while YS continued. In fact even after YS finished his candy, in between ceiling scratches (hope Sally's car ceiling is cleaner than mine), he still was waving the stick around oblivious to the fact that the game had been over for a while.

I'm sure that OS has been an instigator before today. In fact, I would bet it's even happened more than once, particularly with his younger brother. I just wasn't as aware of his new status as that kid. Since as the younger sibling, YS always follows the trends after his brother is done finished, it appears like they are his idea

Sally HP's Lesson Learned: Do not give children lollipops with long sticks when enclosed places.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: At some point your sweet baby will become that kid.

To read about our trip to Magic Wings, (gotta love that name) click here.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:11 AM   5 comments
  • At 4/16/2008 7:14 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    We love Magic Wings. Hum, I should have thought about going there this week. Oh well.

  • At 4/16/2008 7:38 AM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    Dude, he's not 'that kid' just 'a kid'...believe me, H will be on his heels in no time!

  • At 4/16/2008 8:37 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Yeah, it stinks when you realize that your kid is the bad influence in the bunch. Although when parents of kids younger than mine give me those looks I usually just think, "yeah, your kid will do it too. Just wait."

  • At 4/16/2008 11:50 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    Have to agree with Sally HP here. He's not "that kid" he's just a kid.

    Silver lining? He's smart enough to figure this stuff out for himself. He's a born leader not a follower.

    Does that help at all? ;)

  • At 4/16/2008 5:13 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    I think all big bros are the instigators - isn't that their job?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Winter Storage

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of getting together with two of my college friends. We try to get together a couple times a year, but like everything else it's much easier said than done. Somewhere amongst stories of childbirth, kids, husbands, and work, our conversation stumbled onto the subject of storage. I think it came up when discussing how hard it is to keep your house clean with little kids. (This is not to be confused with the conversation I later had with Linda's husband during which I mentioned that our room looks like a disaster zone and he triumphantly turned to Linda and said that none of their good friends have a neat bedroom.) When it did come up, we all immediately jumped in to share our woes regarding where to stuff our husband's giant gray winter coat that takes up more room than any three normal coats. Alright that last part was just me, but my friends also had coat storage issues.

Linda happen to casually mention that she gives thanks to the dry cleaner. I looked at her quizzically. She explained that she takes the coats to the dry cleaner when it gets warm and then picks them up when she needs them in the fall. She even described how people forget about things at the dry cleaner for a long time and then remember them eons later. (Sadly, I can relate.) What a fantastic idea! I could get the giant coat clean and get rid of it store it at the same time! I wouldn't have to worry about where to put any of our coats. Immediately a reality check set in: I must really be at a different place in life to get excited about dry cleaners.

The discussion moved to other subjects, but sometime during dessert I took us back to the cleaners because I just couldn't believe how clever Linda was. Clever she still is, but it turns out this is an actual program offered by many dry cleaners. At least at Linda's cleaners, it doesn't cost anything extra, so it's essentially the same thing as cleaning and forgetting to pick clothes up except that you're guaranteed they won't throw them out!

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Your dry cleaner may offer storage for your winter coats.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:38 PM   6 comments
  • At 4/15/2008 10:22 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    How interesting. Yep, you know you've gotten different priorities when you find things like this interesting.

  • At 4/15/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    What a cool idea. And yes, I think Heather's right. ;-) Glad you got some time with friends!

  • At 4/15/2008 5:50 PM, Blogger skiplovey said…

    Yep you know you've hit a certain point in your life when you're out with your friends and the topic de jour is storage. Don't get me started on our lack of storage.
    Somehow I think our dry cleaner doesn't offer this service but it'd be great if they did. Maybe it's time to find a new dry cleaner.

  • At 4/15/2008 7:23 PM, Blogger Ashley Winters said…

    Great idea! I think I may have left a coat at my old dry cleaner's before I moved. It was one of my favorite coats and I haven't been able to find it since I moved. I'll have to call them.

  • At 4/15/2008 8:03 PM, Blogger jodifur said…

    Who knew?

  • At 4/16/2008 6:04 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    hahaahaaa, fantastic idea. But somehow I doubt that it would work in Belgium. ...I don't know actually.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bicycling Lessons: What's Life without a Little Humiliation?

A. Elliot's Lessons Learned after doing a dry run of my triathlon course:
  1. If your triathlon training buddy falls off her bike while standing still in the parking lot and almost takes you out with her, laughing will not convince her cyclist husband to take both of you seriously.
  2. It probably isn't appropriate to laugh at your friend no matter how funny it is and instead of helping her up, to point out that if you had been clipped in you also would have fallen over too without a doubt. This may cause further laughter from the both of you which will not make her husband take you any more seriously.
  3. The terms "easier gear" and "harder gear" are not the correct terms for the gears on a racing bike but they are very clear. Calling the gear that makes it easier to pedal "The Big Easy" because it is the physically larger gear is also clear.
  4. Going for your first bike ride on a somewhat busy street after previously only riding around school parking lots can be a little intimidating, even if the street is the actual course for the triathlon in which you will be racing next month. Unfortunately in MA there's a severe shortage of sidewalks
  5. Pot holes that are annoying when driving a car are down right scary when on a bike
  6. You might seriously wonder if you will be more hurt going over the pothole or getting hit by a car. Then you'll realize that it is most likely that the two will happen simultaneously
  7. You may find yourself with new found respect and awareness for bicyclists and their abilities to the point that you may take a detour when back in your car to avoid passing a cyclist
  8. Although it is common practice in Massachusetts for those driving cars to drive while practically touching the car in front of them, it is dangerous and bad driving etiquette. Although it is common practice for inexperienced cyclists to leave a car length's space between the bicycle in front of them, it is dangerous, because it increases the risk of being hit by a car, and bad cycling etiquette. The correct cycling etiquette is for your tires to practically be touching.
  9. Wearing any sort of loose pants like oh say your gray sweatpants over your biking shorts is a really really bad idea. Being a little self-conscious about how you look in bike pants is better than spending the entire ride worried that one of the times that your sweatpants got caught in the spokes of your bike may send you flying over the handles of your bike resulting in pain and self-consciousness
  10. I really still can't believe this, but fear of death, potholes, cars, and caught sweatpants do not increase the number of calories burned during the bicycling. I know!
  11. If you spend much of the ride trying to remember to avoid potholes, cars, and spokes while keeping up with your friend and practicing shifting your gears, the course will be over before you know it

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:20 PM   8 comments
  • At 4/12/2008 9:48 PM, Blogger super des said…

    I am bot exhausted and relieved for you.

  • At 4/12/2008 9:48 PM, Blogger super des said…

    oops, "both" not "bot."

  • At 4/13/2008 4:39 AM, Blogger Dani said…

    I did my first triathlon recently (last November) and I have to say two things.
    1. it's addictive. awesome fun.
    2. slow old mothers do better in making up time in transition. Invest in elastic shoelaces. ;D

  • At 4/13/2008 1:20 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Yep, that clinches that I won't be doing that anytime soon.

  • At 4/13/2008 2:55 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    This reminds me of my training days when I signed up for a six-week bike trip around northern Europe, without having been on a bike in at least ten years.

    You GO, Triathlon Girl! ;-)

  • At 4/14/2008 8:49 AM, OpenID FishyGirl said…

    You go, Alex.

    And for the record, I would have cracked up, too. And probably fallen off my bike.

  • At 4/14/2008 1:56 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    he he

    my hubby and I just bought bikes last week! :)

  • At 4/15/2008 1:23 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Thanks for the hilarious and improtant lessons. I will stick to the running portion, thank you very much. (Yesterday, I did 4 miles on the treadmill!)

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Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Buy Cookie Dough from Preschool

So much learning happens in preschool and that's just for the parents. If I look back at my older son's (OS) almost two years of preschool, I realize that I've come a long way, learning appropriate parental attire for the open house, how to spy on my child from the parking lot, appropriate birthday party etiquette, what gifts to give teachers, and of course the rules around preschool Valentine's Day parties. Forgot knowing letters, numbers and colors, learning the whole social system of preschool is education in and of itself!

Yesterday I learned the most important lesson of all. This is really big so you might want to get a pen and paper. Way important, right? Don't worry, I will explain why it is so important.

When OS was a baby, one of the playgroup hostesses bought a tub of cookie dough from a neighbor's kid as part of a school fundraiser. The cookies were pretty good. Based on that recollection, I decided to participate this year when OS's preschool did the cookie dough fundraiser. We really haven't done very much with fundraisers, and, if it's a choice between buying wrapping paper or cookie dough...well...that's not a hard choice for me. The order form had a list of different types of cookie dough., but the most important choice was whether to get break away cookies or a tub of cookie dough. I chose the tub of cookie dough of course. This was my type of baking. I immediately conjured images of my boys lovingly scooping out balls of dough together. I would ruffle their hair and the three of us would laugh just because we were all so happy. I even had images of us using cookie cutters to cut the cookies into fun shapes. Yeah, I don't know where I was going with that one; Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies probably don't mold into elephants too well. Frequent readers will be surprised to learn that there was no fireplace in this vision; it is April after all!

I was surprised when I picked OS up from school because there were boxes and boxes of break away cookie dough but only a few scattered boxes of the tubs. That should have been a sign right there. We picked up our cookie dough and, since I have been trying to eat better, particularly since my first triathlon is around the corner, I did the reasonable thing and suggested bringing the cookie dough to a playdate that had been planned for the next day. The kids were excited to make cookies. However, as soon as we let them start scooping out the dough, we realized the break away cookies would have been better.

First of all, one metal spoon snapped, even though I could have sworn the dough was completely defrosted. Second, the kids all wanted to scoop at the same time. Third, the older kids were better at scooping the dough than the little kids. As a result, my younger son's cookies were tiny. Of course, he got bent out of shape when I tried to make them bigger. It seemed like a no win situation. No one would have wanted the microscopic cookies when they burned, and OS would have been the first one to want one of the bigger cookies...made by one of the older kids. In fact, once the cookies were baked, the kids all argued over who got the bigger cookies. Break away cookies are all the same size. The other mom and I looked at each other and at the same time said "break away cookies." Then we prepared several cookies for ourselves on a separate cookie sheet. Hey, I saw how the kids cookies were handled!

The cookies were still delicious. Like anything else, with YS I'll be better prepared.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Buy break-away-cookies for the school fundraiser not the tubs of cookie dough.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:37 PM   4 comments
  • At 4/12/2008 2:20 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Oh, I love tubs of cookie dough. When my sister was the director of a child care program, Husband and I bought at least two tubs per sale season. Then Dana would drive them to my parents' house in Chicago from where she lives in Iowa, and the next time I was in town, I'd bring them back to NYC on the plane with me. By the time I got home, the dough usually defrosted, but we'd re-freeze it, and the cookies baked weird. Still, they were super delicious to eat!

  • At 4/12/2008 5:53 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Breakaway. Totally.

  • At 4/13/2008 12:38 PM, Blogger Goofball said…

    breakaway cookie dough?
    tubs of cookie dough?

    I have no clue what you're talking about. I don't live in a cookie baking culture I think.

  • At 4/15/2008 8:14 AM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    I once bought a tub of cookie dough from my daughter's school, and when we opened it, they were in individual discs. I was actually disappointed not to be able to scoop, but I guess I should count myself lucky.

    Found your blog through New England Mamas, btw.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reaching New Heights

The past few days have been beautiful. As such, I've forced myself to get off the couch cheerfully rounded up the kids and taken them to the playground. The first time we were there, my older son (OS) went straight to the slides. My younger son (YS) just sort of wandered around not sure where to go first. He picked up sand, then put it down. He walked here, there and everywhere. Part of walking everywhere was that he walked right in front of someone using the swings and almost got hit. He was so scared he started to cry. After comforting him, it occurred to me that he's never really been to the park before. Alright, yes technically he's been to a park, but not since he's been able to walk and therefore actually play on the playground. This was quickly followed by another realization: I've never been to the park before with two kids who were interested in playing in it. Both kids were interested in different things. I don't really have a definite solution to this right now except for sticking to small parks or parks that are fully enclosed. No words of wisdom here from me. Maybe this time next year I'll have figured out a good system.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you're not learning one thing, you're learning another as a parent.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:15 PM   5 comments
  • At 4/11/2008 8:44 AM, OpenID FishyGirl said…

    Ever since I had to go to zone defense instead of man-to-man (or woman-to-kid, I should say), I've stuck to small, enclosed parks. My bigs have adjusted that way and they know that they're stuck with the little stuff, and they're okay with it. That's because I lost my oldest (okay, she willfully wandered off, but still) at a large, popular park here where the place is so big you can't see everywhere at once unless you are on top of the drawbridge on the play structure, and there was no way I was climbing up there. When I found her again and found out she'd just decided she didn't have to wait for the other adult to arrive for her to leave to go to the bathroom like I had asked her to, we left. I won't go there anymore unless there are no fewer than 4 adults to keep track of the kids.

    I hope you have someplace small and fun you can stick to. No one should have to go through the heartstoppage I did when we couldn't find her.

  • At 4/11/2008 9:16 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I definitely endorse the small park approach. I remember taking my kids (who are 18 months apart) to a big park by myself when they were like 3 and 2; I was in a state of panic the entire time! Where's that cloning device when you need it?

  • At 4/11/2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Yep, definitely need the enclosed parks just to maintain sanity!

  • At 4/11/2008 4:27 PM, Anonymous Dani said…

    The only way to manage the bigger playgrounds is to treat it like a trip to the gym. Expect to spend your time running between children. Mine actually love it when I decide I have the energy to do it and they tend to stay closer together because it ends up being a game. They are 2 and 4.

    The rest of the time it's a small enclosed polayground for them and a bench and a thermos of tea for me.

  • At 4/12/2008 2:43 PM, Blogger Tracey said…

    Take this bit of advice for every trip, every outing, and any excursion especially to a crowded area:

    Matching. Orange. Shirts.

    And? If you can stomach it? Matching. Green/Yellow. Hats.

    Seriously. I have never lost a kid when they were wearing orange. Especially when they're all wearing the same color. And? If one should happen to get lost? You hold up the spare child and say "He looks just like THIS ONE, only bigger/smaller!!"

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Tomorrow I'm hosting playgroup. Don't get me wrong, I think it's really important for me to host because first of all it's only fair and second my younger son (YS) definitely needs to work on being a gracious host and sharing his toys. It seems like the minute his brother is out of the room, he somehow adopts his persona and starts telling the cats, the dog, and I think perhaps one or two walls that the toys are his. Poor kid. However as an older sibling myself I can't help but give my older son (OS) a mental high five. Yes, I know it's wrong.

The downside of hosting, is that it required me to spend an insanely long period of time today "de-furring" my house. This is a playgroup/playdate ritual that substantial time vacuuming, mopping and wiping down counters and tables. I have given up my plans of scientifically proving this, but anecdotal evidence leaves me convinced that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent cleaning and the amount of fur left in my living room: the more time I spend, I swear the more likely it is for a guest to be covered in fur. I know that doesn't seem right. It is far easier to explain the direct correlation between the amount of fur covering a guest and the skyrocketing of my heartrate.

The obvious answer would be just not to clean at all, but somehow the amount of fur is still excessive when I don't clean which is logical but defies my other previously cited experiences. I just can't figure it out. My ideal solution would be to post a sign on my door (and in my email signature) warning people that they may only wear navy blue or fleece in my house at their own risk. I could further recommend jeans (and denim jackets) as the safest clothing option. Of course, in a world of competitive stay-at-home parenting, admitting to giving in like that would be socially unacceptable.

So I spent much of the morning washing the base boards (no this isn't a regular chore) downstairs and removing a Blair Witch Project type handprint from one of my walls, and lying on my stomach sweeping out under the couches and entertainment center. When I finished, I stood up to admire my sparkling house, feeling great pride in my achievement. Then I looked down. Right on my belly was a giant dust bunny. Great. I had so little control over the dust, that it could feel safe sitting mockingly on my own body! I had failed to clean, and with the dust bunny sitting on my belly, I felt fat too. Those dust bunnies! It doesn't matter how clean I get my house; they can reduce my self esteem to nothing with one wrong hop.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Whether or not you can stomach having dust around, it likes to belly up to you.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 12:56 PM   4 comments
  • At 4/09/2008 7:53 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Can you come and do my house too? I don't mind if there's one on my belly when you're done.

  • At 4/10/2008 8:27 AM, Blogger Tracey said…

    I also hate that I'm cleaning before the demolition crew of children come over. I mean, really? Where is the sanity in that? They're going to DESTROY the house, and I'm cleaning BEFOREhand?

  • At 4/10/2008 9:25 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Every night before we go to bed, Husband says to our giant white rabbit, "Good night, Tycho. Stay furry!" I think in doing this, he is encouraging Tycho not to shed everywhere, but his crafty plan never works. Add in the general New York City dust that infiltrates every apartment, and you get some frightening dust bunnies. One tried to shank me once. I swear.

  • At 4/10/2008 12:31 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

    Damn, dust bunnies.

    My problem is the excessive amount of shedding my dog does. Fortunately, it's concentrated in one are of the house and not everywhere...but dangit if it doesn't haunt me.

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Engines and Escapades Review

Parent Bloggers Network

Check out my review of Thomas and Friends Engines and Escapades on Flexible Parenting Reviews.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:57 AM   0 comments
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Monday, April 07, 2008

What Would You Do?

One of my favorite bloggers, Worker Mommy, has a What Would You Do Wednesday where she comes up with a scenario and asks her readers to say how they would respond. A couple weeks ago, I was talking with one of the lifeguards at the pool about responsibility to fellow patrons of the Y. I immediately questioned what that meant. Did that mean wiping down the machines in the weight room because seriously, I think some patrons need a workshop on that one. Perhaps it meant not cutting in line for the treadmills. Perhaps a workshop for that? Nah, I've only seen that one happen once or twice.

What she said, though really made me think. What do you do when you see someone who's wearing a see-through shirt or has their biking pants on inside out so that the giant crotch pad is on the outside? (I swear that one wasn't me!!) What about when they have toilet paper hanging out of the back of their pants and they're in the middle of working out? These are all things she's actually seen. Another staff member also piped in that she's seen those things a few times as well. Well, not the biking pants thing because that was her and she wished that someone had told her. The lifeguard said that she always politely points it out.

I sat there nodding my head in agreement. Of course I would tell the person. After all, I would want to be told. Better to be embarrassed in front of one person than a whole room full of people. How could someone not say something? I started to become indignant at those who let others embarrass themselves in silence. I began to think of the different scenarios in which I would not be afraid to tell the unknowing person about their faux pas. You know one of those daydreamy things where you have to remind yourself that the man wearing his shirt inside out in the weight room doesn't actually exist particularly since you are in the pool and haven't been in the weight room in two days? I was determined. I would do a blog post about it. Then I promptly forgot about it. It was like the conversation never happened.

Until today. I was sitting with my kids on the pool deck (YS was strapped in his stroller) waiting for swim lessons to start. One of the lap swimmers that I recognized from swimming at the pool for the past few years was there. She got out of the pool and I have to say that...well how should I put this...I didn't recognize her. Her suit was see through. She quickly went into the lockerroom. So you might assume that I grabbed the kids, dashed after her, and nicely informed her that it was time for the suit to retire. Sadly, I did no such thing. I was so surprised that I sat perfectly still. In the few seconds it took me to realize I should say something, she was already opening the lockerroom door. I had quite a view of her rear as she walked into the locker room. I hope that she was walking so quickly because she knew about her suit, but I think not. Hopefully the lifeguard will say something.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: What you want to do and what you do are not always the same.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:39 PM   5 comments
  • At 4/07/2008 11:42 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    i had to throw away a bathing suite i ADORED because i noticed it was getting VERY CLOSE to see through one day. i think I caught it before it got there, but it would have been traumatic! ;)

  • At 4/08/2008 5:19 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    I've told a consultant twice that he had torn his pants at his bump showing his underwear through. The second time I've added the suggestion to ask Santa some new pants (it was in December).

    Yet when I don't know the people and I'd have to run after them or they don't know me at all...I'd be hesitant to tell them.

  • At 4/08/2008 9:40 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    This reminds me of those Datelines or 20/20s whatever show it is that has those "What would you do?" series. I love to watch those because I find them fascinating.

    I try to say something in most cases, but I really tend to treat each situation differently. I like to think that it is being socially savvy to know when to act and when not to. Or at least that's my theory.

  • At 4/08/2008 10:42 AM, Blogger skiplovey said…

    Yikes that's a tough one. From the way she was hurrying maybe she already knew it was time to retire the suit.
    It was a sad day when I realized my favorite suit was ready for the trash. I knew it when I bent over and it split on the side. Thankfully it was after my swim and in the locker room.

  • At 4/08/2008 7:46 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I'd do exactly what you did: freeze in surprise. I think running after her would have made it worse, though, because it would draw a lot of attention to her as a woman with a stroller and pre-schooler zoom around the pool.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Shoehorning Toys into Place

When I told my kids to clean up their toys today, I was expecting them to put their toys away as in where they belonged as in the toy bin or on the shelves. For example, I assumed that the refrigerator magnets would be put away on...well, the refrigerator. Call me crazy for thinking that. I mean that's where they've been for the past two years. You can imagine my surprise when I happened to notice this evening that my shoes were neatly filled with the refrigerator magnets. In addition to developing a sense of responsibility regarding taking care of their toys, at least one of my boys is apparently developing a sense of humor. They certainly have sole. I am just glad I didn't put my foot down on this issue. I would have felt like a real heel. Of course, I did confiscate the offending magnets, so the next time they go looking for them, the shoe will be on the other foot.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Ambiguous direction to children leads to unambiguously undesirable results.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:53 PM   8 comments
  • At 4/07/2008 8:20 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Hee hee.

    I've taken to telling my kids to put their toys away WHERE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO GO. Even that doesn't work most of the time.


  • At 4/07/2008 9:23 AM, OpenID FishyGirl said…

    I truly laughed out loud at this. A few days ago my daughter had been playing with her Zoo Vet barbie, which comes with a host of little animals complete with a scale and little crates for the animals. When I told her to clean up, she, and then I, couldn't find the lion cub. We looked all over for the thing, including down in the vent where the baby typically throws things, but nothing. Zip. Couldn't find the blasted lion. Later that night, after they'd gone to bed, I went to put on my shoes. I found the lion, in one of my shoes, complete with a small scrap of dry baby wipe to cover him in his slumber.

  • At 4/07/2008 9:51 AM, Blogger Count Mockula said…

    Boo! Now you must wear the pun hat. It is VERY silly-looking!

  • At 4/07/2008 10:13 AM, Blogger The Mama said…

    That's so funny I laughed and laughed

  • At 4/07/2008 10:32 AM, Blogger Kami said…

    HA! You are so witty Alex, thanks for the morning laugh!

  • At 4/07/2008 3:11 PM, Blogger Tracey said…

    Oh, the puns.... You're killing me, hon.

  • At 4/08/2008 5:23 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    hihi funny. Do you have a picture of yourself when you discover the magnets in your shoe?

  • At 4/08/2008 7:47 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Nice work with the puns. I love puns!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pregnancy Naivete

Dear Expecting Couples at Babies R Us,

Yes I noticed you looking at my boys and me as you were registering I also just happened to catch the look of horror on your faces as you watched my boys. The look that you exchanged with your partner did not escape my attention.

I just want to assure you that I was once in your position. I remember being pregnant and imagining what my kids would be like as my husband and I registered at Babies R Us. I pictured how sweet they would look in the different cute outfits. I pictured how cozy they would be when snuggled into their new strollers. I pictured them gurgling happily in their new carseat. I did not picture them taking apart the stroller display.

You can take solace in the fact that your child will probably not get into the stroller display. Now that you have now been warned, I am confident you will make sure of it. They will find something that you too have not even imagined.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Prospective parents have no idea what they are getting into.

Dear Babies R Us Employee,

I appreciate the time you took to ask if I had any questions about the strollers. I am concerned about an assumption you made. I know that I have found myself as an adult realizing that I had "missed a step" growing up like not knowing that Greek yogurt existed. You and I are not alone in this. I would like to share a little lesson I tell my boys that I think you would find very comforting. Boys can like pink. I know it's shocking. You better brace yourself for the next part: girls can look blue. Finally this one, some boys don't like blue and some girls don't like pink. You can see now why my younger son had no interest in sitting in the blue stroller you suggested but instead wanted to sit in the identical pink stroller you didn't realize you were blocking.

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:59 PM   9 comments
  • At 4/05/2008 9:32 PM, Blogger Kami said…

    Oh so true Alex... I was the pregnant lady... now I watch by happily as my kids destroy Toys R Us. If they are occupied and not bothering me, then it's all good, right?


    My 6 year old son loves pink. I have to catch myself almost everytime to not say but boys can't like pink. It's like I was brain washed or something!

    Someone once said to me, "Pink is a legitimate colour."


  • At 4/05/2008 9:52 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    My son likes pink too! It IS a nice color after all.

    I like to laugh at the obvious first timers. Yeah, their kids will do something worse!

  • At 4/05/2008 10:16 PM, Blogger super des said…

    In Victorian times, it was switched. Boys wore pink and girls wore blue.

  • At 4/05/2008 10:18 PM, Blogger Ladybug's Picnic said…

    My daughter's stroller is navy blue and red. So is the double stroller we're about to buy (for the TWO GIRLS!).

    About a month ago, a horrified, eye rolling pregnant couple watched my daughter fling herself onto the floor at Pottery Barn and throw a colossal screaming tantrum. I just laughed (maniacally) to myself and thought, "just wait...just you wait!"

  • At 4/05/2008 11:09 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Often I think that the reason I am not having kids is because I know too much about how it really is to have kids. If people didn't delude themselves into thinking that their children will always be cute, well-behaved, sweet angels, the human race could die out! So good for that couple and their obliviousness. And then good luck to them.

    As for the employee, you know how I feel about that. It completely amazes me how much value society injects into pink and blue. Scary.

  • At 4/06/2008 9:14 AM, Anonymous Jane said…

    I am not a pink girl. I don't like pink, I rarely wear pink, and the only reason I avoided nasty employees pushing pink stuff at me is because I have boys. My favorite color is blue, my OS also favors blue. My YS, who knows, he seems pretty flexible so far (probably because he's never had the blue his brother keeps for himself).
    I don't think I've ever told my sons that pink is for girls, but I think someone ought to tell me that pink is a legitimate color, maybe I'd give it a chance!
    On the other hand, my sons are always perfectly behaved and have never, ever raised eyebrows with their tantrums or screaming (ROTFL).

  • At 4/06/2008 7:01 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    ahhh... those days of dreaming in babies r us...


  • At 4/07/2008 2:45 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    Oh My God! The laugh I needed today!

  • At 4/07/2008 2:58 PM, Anonymous Chantelle said…

    Your kids are great. Perrin seemed very interested in a pair of pink flowered boots when we went shopping. Too bad they didn't come in his size and he got brown.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Irony

I discovered what I am sure is one of many ironies about parenting. This particular one is about the brand-new cashmere sweater that you handle with great care. The best sweater you've had in years. The one that you justified getting at the holidays because it's on sale and you've lost weight so it's essentially a gift to yourself. The one that you won't wear around your kids because they might touch it with sticky fingers or spill juice all over it. How ironic is it then the when you put it on for a dessert night with your moms group that the waitress spills a glass of wine all over it? I have to say that at least the food was terrific!

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Adults can be as hard on nice things as children.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:52 PM   8 comments
  • At 4/03/2008 10:15 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Oh man. That stinks. And it's the kind of day that I had today.

  • At 4/03/2008 11:13 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    I hope dry cleaning will get the wine out. Sometimes chemicals are good, right?

  • At 4/04/2008 12:04 AM, Blogger Huckdoll said…

    Ouch! That is just like my relationship with white shirts.

  • At 4/04/2008 8:54 AM, Blogger Mayberry said…

    Just like the time my HUSBAND got red ink all over our brand new couch!

  • At 4/04/2008 10:57 AM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

    Oh, that stinks big time! Sometimes it seems like the more careful you try to be with something, the greater the chances are of having something happen to it. Why is that?! Hope the stain came out!


  • At 4/04/2008 12:57 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    screw irony! oh the pain. Sorry. that sucks....

    but yeah, adults can easily be as bad as children. In fact, I htink CableDad has ruined more nice clothing and furniture than my 17 month old. lol

  • At 4/04/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

    Damn...isn't that always the way :(

  • At 4/05/2008 3:02 AM, Anonymous Chantelle said…

    Oh no! I hope you laughed because something like that is such cruel fate that you really have to laugh.

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posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:52 PM   0 comments
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My New Addiction

Suzanne got me hooked on something this weekend when I visited her in NYC. No, I can pretty much guarantee that it's not what your thinking! Actually, it's probably the furthest thing from what you're thinking.

One of my challenges in trying to eat well, lose weight, be healthy, be the perfect mom and wife, and one day rule the world all the while being blissfully happy, is trying to find satisfying snacks. That's right, the perfect snack is the secret to guaranteed success and happiness! Seriously, it's hard to find a snack that is healthy and tastes good enough that I would actually choose it over a brownie or cookie. Even if I don't have either of those favorite items in my house, which according to the Big Giraffe has been particularly true the past 10 months, I still am thinking that I would rather be eating them than the banana or pear that I am eating. I think perhaps if someone did find this perfect combination, they really would be able to rule the world!

I know you're all waiting with baited breath to hear what this fabulous find is. Brace yourself. You should also brace yourself because this is about as close to a "recipe" as you'll probably ever read on this blog!

It's non-fat plain Greek style yogurt with a teaspoon or two of jam in it. Shocking right? Suzanne had mentioned in her other blog Live Active Cultures that she really likes Greek yogurt. I had also had Greek yogurt before and enjoyed it. However I had never had the plain non-fat yogurt before in the big vat. What's the difference?

The difference is the serving size. One serving size of the non-fat Greek yogurt is a full cup whereas the Stonyville yogurts, which are what I usually eat, are only 6 ounces. In terms of Weight Watchers points, you can have a full tablespoon of jam in your one cup serving (three teaspoons of jam equal one tablespoon. Don't be embarrassed, I didn't know it until a few years ago when I was at one of those dinner assembly places) and it's exactly the same number of points as the 6 oz Chocolate Underground yogurt. It also tastes amazing because, unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is double strained so it's really thick like sour cream. Yes, even the non-fat yogurt. Between the larger quantity and the thicker consistency, it also makes me feel full, thus helping me to avoid a second round of potentially more savory but less healthy snacks.

A little weird fact about me (one of many!) is that I don't like yogurt with fruit skins in it. That pretty much eliminates most of the fruit yogurts for me. Good jam doesn't have the skins in it, at least not the kind I buy, so this yogurt and jam combo tastes like a fruit yogurt without the skin.

One last tip, don't use your kids PB&J jam or any other jam that congeals easily, because nothing will push you toward a brownie more quickly than a congealed yogurt mix. Personally, if the brownie is home baked or on my counter, this new yogurt is going to stay in the fridge, but the lure of the yogurt is strong enough to keep me from hitting the road for a late night bakery run. In lieu of that brownie, well it's a really great snack.

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Non-fat plain Greek style yogurt with a teaspoon or two of jam makes an excellent snack.

Labels: , ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:32 PM   11 comments
  • At 4/02/2008 8:15 PM, Blogger jodifur said…

    I've heard good things about greek style yogurt but have not been able to find it.

  • At 4/02/2008 8:17 PM, Anonymous selfmademom said…

    I tried to get my mom to buy the Greek yogurt today at Trader Joe's today, but she didn't bite. I'm going to show her this post now!

  • At 4/02/2008 8:27 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Hmmm. I wish I liked yogurt at all!

  • At 4/02/2008 8:33 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

    I got mine at Trader Joe's because I knew they had it there. I have to check out the regular grocery store. I may have missed it because it's a 16 ounce container and I was looking for it in the 6 ounce container sections. Trader Joe's also has flavored individual serving Greek yogurts which taste good too and are around 6 ounces. I still prefer the plain with jam though.

  • At 4/02/2008 8:46 PM, Blogger Rima said…

    I love this suggestion! I am going to get some of that the next time I'm at Trader Joe's. My stomach is rumbling as I write this, but there's no greek style yogurt in the house, so it looks like a cookie for me again tonight . . .

  • At 4/02/2008 9:06 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

    You can find Greek yogurt in most grocery stores, with the bigger tubs of yogurt. I always look at it and mull it over then go for the old stand-by longer, my friend. I am so excited to try this yummy treat! (During the time I'm breastfeeding, I may even splurge on the full-fat variety!)

  • At 4/03/2008 6:36 AM, Blogger Wonderful World of Weiners said…

    Never had the stuff but might give it a try now!

    Thanks for the recommendation!!


  • At 4/03/2008 7:50 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    agreed! I love yogurt and jam.

    I also suggest cottage cheese and apple slices with rice crackers. mmmmmm Dip the apple in the cheese follow up closely by a bit of rice cracker.

  • At 4/03/2008 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Being a mommy-to-be (5 weeks or so) there are so many questions and doubts about being a parent. There's such a large amount of online support is awesome! My favorite right now is because it is not only focused on moms but also on dads so you get two different perspectives. My husband loves this site as well!

  • At 4/03/2008 9:36 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    now i'm hungry. ;)

    and yes, you probably have guessed my university. Go Wildcats!

  • At 4/03/2008 11:22 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    If I am reading your blog correctly, I am well on my way to ruling the world! Hurray!

    I just bought a tub of Fage at the grocery store tonight. I can't wait to eat it. I'm so glad that you are enjoying my yogurt "recipe" and passed on the good word!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Eyedrops and Cat Carriers

There were quite a few times in the 4.5 years since my older son (OS) was born, that I thought that I had hit the absolute worst part of parenting- sleepless nights, temper tantrums, the 4 year old attitude. Maybe that's a tad bit of an exaggeration; playing in the toilet was by far the worst. Then last week I thought I had found something even worse that "potty play" - administering eyedrops.

Giving my older son (OS) eye drops was similar to putting the cats in their carriers.

Putting Cats in their CarriersAdministering Eye Drops to OS
  1. Perform a "cat scan" to find the cat(s). It works best if they are sleeping.

  2. Close any doors to the room.

  3. With the carrier in my hand, creep up on them in a James Bond-like fashion and then pounce.

  4. Some hissing and scratching ensues.

  5. While trying to avoid being bitten, wrestle the cat into the carrier.

  6. Feel exhausted while receiving dirty looks, a hiss, and a look of betrayal.
  1. Scan for OS. It works best if he is sleeping.

  2. Close any doors to the room.

  3. With the eye dropper in my hand, creep up on him in a James Bond-like fashion and then pounce.

  4. Much hissing and scratching ensues.

  5. While trying to avoid being bitten, wrestle OS into a position where I can pry his eyes open and administer the drops.

  6. Feel exhausted while receiving dirty looks, a hiss, and a look of betrayal.

Neither cats nor boy were interested in hearing that I really didn't want to do this. Whenever the Big Giraffe is around, it at least goes a little easier.

During the follow-up visit to check on the progress of OS's alleged pink eye, I happened to tell the nurse practitioner how traumatic I found administering eye drops. She shared a fantastic tip that works for children and even for adults. Have your child close his eyes and tilt his head back. Put two drops in the corner of each eye. When the child opens his eyes the drops will fall right in without the trauma of seeing something aimed right at his eye and without requiring a wrestling match. You can do the same thing for yourself. If your child is really young, wait until right before he wakes up in the morning or from nap time and apply the drops in the corner. For the night time dosing, you're on your own.

I cannot emphasize enough how well this little trick worked with OS. He became far more comfortable with the process. Eye drops ceased to be a huge trauma, leaving me with a happier child and with more energy to deal with other traumas such as keeping OS calm when he wants to sit in supplant my younger son (YS) from sitting in the stroller. Unfortunately, I have not found an equivalent tip for putting my cats in the carrier without hissing, scratching, biting and whining. Hmmm...maybe not the last one.

Nurse Practitioner's Lesson Learned: Administering eye drops to a child or adult with eyes closed averts a lot of discomfort, wrestling matches, hissing, scratching, biting, and whining.

Labels: , ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 4:45 PM   11 comments
  • At 4/01/2008 6:21 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    Great advice!

    .... but couldn't they have told you that before you suffered the scratches and bites? lol

  • At 4/01/2008 6:31 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Good to know. And if you hear of a good one for the cat too, let me know.

  • At 4/01/2008 6:54 PM, Blogger Kami said…

    I can so relate to this. Jack needed drops every 2 hours after his surgery. That's right, every 2 hours.

    I don't know if it will help you to know that it gets much, much easier as they get older. The kids mind you, the cats probably not so much.


  • At 4/01/2008 7:02 PM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

    I wish I had known you were having problems with the drops - I could have helped you out.

  • At 4/01/2008 9:17 PM, Blogger Mayberry said…

    I had a similar issue with ear drops when my son was having a lot of infections. I finally figured out I could do one ear while he was nursing. Then I would wait until he was asleep to do the other ear. Which only worked if he happened to fall asleep with the proper ear facing up.

  • At 4/01/2008 10:36 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Ha ha ha. The chart you drew up is priceless.

    And thanks for sharing the advice. Very good to know!

  • At 4/02/2008 3:03 AM, Blogger Lady M said…

    Clever eyedrop advice - thanks!

  • At 4/02/2008 9:35 AM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

    Wow! That's great advise, wish I'd known that when my kids were younger and I went through the wrestling (kicking, scratching, crying)! Actually, I may still employee this technique the next time my husband needs eye drops for any reason, he is actually a bigger baby about it than my kids! He scratched his cornea once and had to put in antibiotic drops, I literally had to sit on his arms and put them in for him, wussy! :o)


  • At 4/02/2008 9:37 AM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

    Um,..I meant to say "employ", not "employee", that makes absolutely no sense at all! LOL


  • At 4/06/2008 3:56 AM, Blogger Christina said…

    Real life cat carrier tip: when you put your cat into the carrier, put him/her in tail-end first. It's not easy - but it's easier. (The cat can't see it's going into a confined space until it's too late -- it's a tip I got from my vet, and it's worked like a charm for me.)

    Great eyedrop advice!

  • At 4/08/2008 5:41 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

    great chart :p.

    can you trick the cat with food in its carrier?

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When Did I Become So Old?

Last week was one of the most stressful weeks I've had as a parent. Two trips to the ER, one case of pink eye, one broken washing machine, and one dog on bed rest seem to have aged me by about twenty years. Alright, maybe that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did feel like I hadn't slept in about a week. I had been looking forward to visiting Suzanne in NYC for the weekend, but after last week, I was counting down the hours.

I arrived late on Friday evening, and Suzanne and I stayed up until 2 AM talking. It was so much fun! I haven't done anything like that in a really long time. The next day I slept late. I also haven't done anything like that in a long time. After going for a 6 mile walk around Central park, we went to a wine and chesse party complete with a sommelier. Did I mention that I felt old? I have to say that it's at times like this that I really feel like a "mom".

I was dressed in a pair of jeans that were actually clean. Shocking, right? No trace of sticky little fingers anywhere! I was wearing one of my nicer sweaters. I arrived at the party feeling pretty good, but once I was inside I felt totally underdressed and completely frumpy. The women were all dressed in trendy clothes. I felt old. At one point Suzanne and I were discussing the pointy heels that many of the women wore. I was careful to be pretty quiet lest someone hear me and point out that I was wearing my LL Bean snow boats. Nice. When did I become so old? Yes, it was a 30th birthday party, but I'm only 32. I was already planning on getting my hair cut this week. Now it's a definite.

Despite feeling like "the mom" at the party, I had a fantastic time. Oh, wait I actually was the only mom at the party! I really enjoyed sampling learning about the wine. I actually found three that I really like. There was also the most amazing cake I have ever seen. Suzanne's husband is going to email me a picture, and then I'll post it. Sunday we finally went running. I was pretty pleased with it. Of course I have to admit, I felt a little stiff later. Now tell me again when I became so old?

A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Parenting can age you.

Labels: ,

posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:09 AM   11 comments
  • At 4/01/2008 6:51 AM, Blogger ALM said…

    Totally. It totally ages you. But I hear you bounce back when they're like 30, or something...

    My best story is when I visited my friend & her boyfriend who live on a mega yacht & cruise around the world... I hadn't seen her in a few years. I was wearing a necklace with a charm of two children. She looked at me and said: "You really ARE a mom!" Uhh yep.

  • At 4/01/2008 8:01 AM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

    I know what you mean! Somewhere along the line I guess we learn that being comfortable, as in not causing ourselves to need orthopedic surgery on our toes, just happens! :o) It's okay, though. You're infinitely wiser, and at 32, you really AIN'T old! Great post!


  • At 4/01/2008 8:27 AM, Blogger Tracey said…

    We're so ancient, eh? I hear you on feeling older than my years at times, though...

  • At 4/01/2008 8:37 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

    Oh, I feel your pain about feeling old. Some of my good friends are about 8-10 year younger than I am and do I ever notice it after awhile.

    I've made a vow to myself to only hang out with people who are at least 35 from now on. lol

    I'm only kidding.... sort of. ;)

    Glad you had a good time, frump or no frump.

  • At 4/01/2008 8:49 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    I hear you. I need to get a hairstyle again.

    And you're not old.

  • At 4/01/2008 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your seem to think that a mom has to be old and dowdy, how sad.
    By the way is big giraffe spending next weekend in NYC with his old friends?

  • At 4/01/2008 11:18 AM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

    As I've explained already, this is a humor blog. You can ask your son what he plans to do next weekend.

  • At 4/01/2008 12:50 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    i feel that way more than i care to admit!

  • At 4/01/2008 10:31 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

    Hey! There was a pregnant woman there, and one of the birthday girl's best friends was not there cause she recently had a baby.

    That said, I was also wearing a pair of jeans and an LL Bean sweater. My shoes were Dansko Mary Janes. I'm no one's mom.

    I'm glad you had fun last weekend. I had a great time, too!

  • At 4/04/2008 10:15 AM, Blogger Trish K said…

    I hear ya. Went away last weekend with my BFF. We had to take naps before going out to dinner.

    Although I do admit, napping is a rarity for me, so it was nice :)

  • At 4/08/2008 9:12 PM, Anonymous RhoRho said…

    Feel ya sister. I started getting gray hairs after my first pregnancy and now I'm afraid to even see my natural color grow out. Also frown lines...dammit why can't we look good with them like men do?

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Name:Alex Elliot
Home:MA, United States
About Me:Professional Mom of two cats, a dog, an ant farm, and oh yeah...two boys: a 6 year old and a 3 year old. Also found in my house is my husband who is known on this blog as The Big Giraffe.
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