Mamma Mia!

Yesterday was a very up and down day.

Up: By 8:15 a.m., I had the house to myself.

Down: The upstairs bathroom really needed to be cleaned.

Up: I plurked most of the morning away.

Down: I had to haul laundry over to my in-laws because DearDR is pretty sure our washer is leaking.

Up: I made a big pot of corn chowder for lunch. It was delicious.

Down — way, way down: I found out someone in my department had been “temporarily” laid off.

Up: I got a car loan.

That’s pretty much how it went.

And then I sat at my in-laws — whose dryer takes much, much too long to dry clothes — and watched Mamma Mia!. I think I was crying by the third (maybe fourth) song.

Maybe it was the ups and downs of the day thus far. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress — or both. But the story really touched me, too. Some of those Abba songs are very poignant.

I cried because I’m a mom, and a daughter, and a mom with daughters.

I cried for the friendships between the three older best friends, which reminds me of the relationship with my two best friends. I cried because I don’t get to see them enough, and if I were Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!, all that the two best friends did for her in that movie, N & M would do for me. In a heartbeat. And I for them.

And, you know, there’s the whole “a year older” thing. And the fact that I cry over just about anything, including Puff the Magic Dragon.

My birthday plans: I got to go have dinner with the Burgh Moms (and two dads!) last night, which was a treat, as usual. Hang with my girls at home; if it’s nice enough, play in the snow. Do a little more laundry next door. Go out to dinner as a family. And then tomorrow, I will get to see the Steelers play in the Super Bowl. And, I hope, see them win.

A sixth Super Bowl for the city would be the best birthday present ever.

Well, that and some really good green beans.

Some Quick Notes

A note from the doctor: Both girls passed their last exam: No ear infections.

A note from N: we were freshmen in 1986, when the Challenger shuttle exploded. Thanks, N. I don’t really need to be adding years at this point.

A note to my dad: I know. Thanks, though. Love you.

A note from Friday night dinner: As DearDR was putting hot sauce on his Primanti’s pastrami sandwich, Monkey asked, “What’s that, Daddy?”

“It’s hot sauce,” he said.

To which she promptly (and queerly aptly, IMO) replied, “What’s butt sauce?”

And Then We Killed the Car

In my dream last night, I tried to run away from a crashing airplane. Right before I woke up, I looked out of the front door of the building into which I had run.

The now-grounded plane was barreling right toward me.

Between some of the stuff going on at my job right now and the fact that we need to buy a car *rightnow*, this is how I feel. Like something is inexorably speeding toward me, and no matter what I do, what I try, it’s all going to end in death and destruction. And a mention on the 11 o’clock news.

Lost Day: Season 5 Premiere, “Because You Left” and “True Lies”

[Spoiler Alert: For anyone reading this who does watch Lost, if you haven’t watched the Season 5 premiere yet — first, WTF?? — don’t read this until you do.]

I am not a big TV watcher, never have been. I have even gone years without a television in my life. The only thing I made a point of watching were Steelers games.

Over the years, I have become dedicated to a show or two. I watched ER for years — I think I started in Season 2 or 3 and watched until they killed off Mark Green. I’ve always liked the original CSI, but I haven’t watched regularly since they broke Grissom’s heart. I did watch William Petersen’s final episode, though. Heroes Season 1 was AWESOME, but I petered out on Season 2. I have it on DVD, but I haven’t gotten into it yet.

I discovered Lost on DVD, and that’s how we watched Seasons 1 and 2. Season 3 we (DearDR and I) watched in real time, which after watching it on DVD was frustrating — all those danged commercials! The Season 3 finale was the most mind-blowing thing I have ever experienced on television. (Then again, we have never had cable.) We started watching Season 4 in real time, too, but then DearDR missed a couple of episodes, and vowed not to watch it until it came out on DVD.

As a result, I decided not to watch the finale until we had it on DVD.

I made it right under the wire, too, finally seeing “There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2” on Tuesday night.

If you are not a fan of Lost at this point, I’m not going to try to convert you. Yes, it is confusing. Yes, there are a lot of characters. Yes, it’s a sci-fi television show.

And it is the best thing on television ever. Except for Steelers Super Bowls.

Lost has its own Wiki. It has its own obsessive columnists at Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Hell, Stephen King loves this show. And we all know how I feel about Stephen King.

After reading a lot of the theories, I have a few of my own. So Thursday is going to be Lost Posting Day (I needed to start coming up with themes anyway if I’m going to do this Blog365 thing. Other days are still pending…)

I get chills thinking about Doc Jensen’s theory about the dead man. Who is it? Could be Christian Shepherd; could be Locke. I think it may end up being Ben. He’s not dead yet, but Sun seemingly has it out for him (Sun is a bad guy this season; losing your husband will do that do you), and she is — seemingly, again — teaming up with Widmore. And Ben’s off the island. Last season he said he couldn’t go back. But doesn’t it look like he’s going to try? Maybe the Island will kill him if he comes back. Hence all the talk about not raising ‘him’, and not bringing ‘him’ back.

My other current pet theory: Charlotte is Widmore’s daughter, Penny’s half-sister. Here’s why I think that: We know that Widmore is obsessed with the Island. Because he was there? Maybe he moved it once, and that’s why he can’t get back. Hints were dropped in Season 4 that Charlotte was born on the Island — that’s she’s been there and had been trying to get back for years.

I think when Ben threatens to kill Widmore’s daughter in return for Alex’s murder, he’s talking about Charlotte, not Penny. And Widmore says, “You’ll never find her” because he knows that Ben is off the Island because he moved it, and he cannot go back. Widmore knows Ben won’t find the Island because he, Widmore, hasn’t been able to get back there since he moved it.

But also, because Ben moved the island, Charlotte is dying. So he gets to kill her after all.

Okay, that’s all for now. Go read Doc Jenson or the guy from Time. They are pros, with very detailed thought-out theories.

But these are mine, for now.

Meme Meme Meme

I got tagged back by I am a Tornado (i.e. Melissa), which is handy, because I didn’t have any ideas for today!

Five names you go by:
1. Red Pen Mama or rpm
2. dp or dpm
3. General (at work; my former last — and current middle — name is the same as a famous general from WWI and WWII)
4. Mom, Mama
5. Donnie Osmond (for N — and for N only to use)

Three things you are wearing right now:
1. my iPod shuffle
2. wedding ring
3. my in-serious-need-of-replacement maroon high-heeled boots

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. A new car
2. An entire day to myself

Two things you did last night:
1. Watched the Season 4 finale of Lost, so I’m all set for Wednesday’s Season 5 premiere
2. Drank a glass of homemade red wine

Two things you are going to do today (or already have done):
1. Got to work at 7:30 a.m. (done)
2. Watching the Lost season premiere (not done yet)

Two of the longest road trips you’ve been on:
1. Pittsburgh to Seattle and back — lots of camping and sight seeing along the way
2. Erie to Montreal, Canada (family vacation when I was a kid)

Three of your favorite beverages
1. Coffee
2. Lemonade
3. Good beer

What did you eat today?
organic raisin bran cereal, trail mix (two kinds), a big salad and sesame seed roll, and two faux chicken burritos

Two people you last talked to on the phone:
My SIL Earthmother
My husband, only to find out the station wagon died today, and he is not sure why. Awesome.


I’ve seen a few things in my life. Not as many as my grandparents, or my parents, but a few.

I’ve been around for those moments, those moments that you’ll always remember exactly where you were.

January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster: High school, sophomore year, French class. It had just started to snow. When the announcement started, I thought they were going to send us home because of the weather.

January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm (aka the first Gulf War) begins: Duquesne campus, walking back to my dorm after dinner. One of my friends passed me on her way to a night class. “Have you heard?” she asked in a disgusted tone. “We’re at war.” I smoked marijuana for the first time that night.

November 3, 1992, Bill Clinton’s election victory: Rico’s house. I even remember that I was wearing a multi-colored striped turtleneck with a black mini skirt and tights. I had a crush on Rico.

February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster: The original Max & Erma’s in German Village, Columbus, Ohio. I was pregnant with Gabriel.

9/11: Florence, Italy, on our honeymoon.

November 4, 2008, 11 p.m. EST: Sitting on my couch (crying, of course).

January 20, 2009: Co-worker’s cubicle, watching a live video stream.

Yes, we did.

Surviving the Game II: Some Good Advice

Last time I was on my own to watch the Steelers playoff game, it was difficult. But we all survived, and I did discover some strategies to mix toddler management with watching football.

This time, for Sunday’s game, I decided to see if Misfit Hausfrau‘s advice would work. She suggested a slumber party in one of the girls’ rooms (see the comments from Surviving the Game I). I called it movie night instead, and we held it in Monkey’s room.

I couldn’t find the in-laws’ portable DVD player, so I unearthed my 13″ television with a built-in VCR player, purloined some VHS tapes from next door, and set the girls up in Monkey’s room, complete with a kid couch and snack delivery (during commercials).

Monkey was so excited to have a TV in her room, watching movies was like gravy. She kept jumping up and down: “I have a TV in my room. I have a TV in my room!” She wanted to know who bought it for her (no one, I said, it’s an old TV of Mommy’s), and if it was going to live in her room from now on (no).

After I got both girls bathed and in pajamas, I put on “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown” — as an aside, DearDR picked out the VHS tapes, and I’m not sure I would have made the same selections: Mulan, the aforementioned Charlie Brown, The Little Mermaid TV series on VHS, and a Christmas sing-along video.

Monkey was captivated, and although she wanted me to watch with her, she seemed resigned to letting me watch the Steelers.

Bun, as per usual, was a different story. Are you sensing a trend with Bun? It used to be that she would do anything Monkey would do. With the exception of the They Might Be Giants DVDs, watching television has never been big on her list, though. And I guess she didn’t feel like hanging with her sister. Not when she had Mommy and Daddy all to herself downstairs!

I don’t think Bun was upstairs for five minutes. When I lured her back to Monkey’s room with snacks, she announced “Eyeont like it, Mommy” referring to the video. She came back downstairs again, and stayed for the rest of the first half. (Both girls went to bed at halftime.)

Both girls, as a matter of fact, “watched” the final two minutes of the half. They decided to put some of their toys to bed, so we turned off the light. Bun actually shushed me when I clapped for a Steelers’ sack of Flacco. “Shhh, Mommy,” she said. “Baby shleepin’.”

It was okay, though. Monkey did fine in her room. I did watch a little of the Little Mermaid with her toward the end of the first half. Daddy actually played with Bun during the game. And Bun didn’t bug us to turn the game off or put something else on the television.

The results were mixed, but for the most part it was a successful strategy, and I will be using it again, although not for Super Bowl XLIII. Because I have a babysitter, and a plethora of outside-the-house viewing options.


When Your Day Starts at 2:30 a.m….

…the suck lasts alllll day looong. I assure you.

I don’t know what happened, although I have guesses. In Monkey’s case, I don’t know what it is, but she finds it much harder to settle when DearDR is home and/or when he puts her to bed. First she wouldn’t settle down — she wanted him to stay with her; then she wanted to go in our bed; then she wanted to be back in her bed. Finally she fell asleep in our bed, and I moved her to her bed at 11 p.m. when I went to bed.

She was back at 2:30 a.m. Then she wanted to go back to her bed at 3:30 a.m., then came back at 4 a.m., and then Bun woke up at 4:30 a.m., and was pretty much up for the count. At 5-ish in a desperate bid for sleep, DearDR took Monkey into her room and they both slept in her bed. Bun simply would not give up, and finally I took her downstairs sometime around 6:30. That happened after I cried for nearly 20 minutes because she would not.fall.asleep, and my crying made her cry.

It was a bad scene.

Although I ditched on my original plans (the Children’s Museum), I still had some things to try to accomplish yesterday: grocery store, bank, post office, library. We made it to the second one. Then I tried to burn them out at the kid mall.

And Monkey was wonderful, very well behaved, in the mood to shop, even. Quote: “I think we should buy me something pretty here.” This after a search turned up no toddler-sized Steelers jerseys.

Bun, as usual, was a different story. If I went right, she wanted to go left; she didn’t want the snack we were all sharing; she wanted all of the drink we were all (supposed to be) sharing; and she ran, ran, ran, sometimes literally in circles away from me. It all culminated in a major fit as we were leaving the mall and I was wrestling her into her coat and trying to keep her near me while I helped Monkey with her coat.

I was tired, frazzled, and most of all, embarrassed. Bun can be an angel in public, or at least funnily charming. But yesterday she could be nothing but contrary.

My theories about the sleep issues: I think Monkey was cold; our upstairs tends to be chilly, and it was chillier than usual. Bun is teething I think, cutting her final molar. At least I hope it’s the final one. This has been going on every couple of weeks for awhile now, so between teething and ear infections, Bun hasn’t been the best sleeper.

I’m almost positive it was not a full moon, but I’m too tired now to check.

You Are What You Eat

I know there has been a lot of controversy surrounding high fructose corn syrup: it’s bad for you; it’s not bad for you; it’s not that bad for you; it’s actually good for you — it’s made of corn!; it’s pure and unadulterated evil.

I have been toying with the idea of eliminating it from my household. It’s not the HFCS per se — it’s the idea that it’s in so many highly processed foods. I’m a simple foods kind of person. I like cooking; I use fresh ingredients. I spend the most time in the grocery store in the produce and organic sections.

After reviewing a number of articles on both sides, I think I’m going to stick with the gut instinct that says to me: Purge it from the house. I am raising two vegetarians (I am one myself), and I would like to raise two girls who prefer real ingredients in their food, too.

So far, they do. My girls are good eaters, and they like tofu, beans, and veggies just as much as anything else. And they love fruit. Monkey would eat blueberries until she became one; both girls love apples, strawberries, bananas, raisins, grapes, pears, and so on. They are on the fence about melons — except for watermelon of course. I chalk that up to a texture thing, and figure they will outgrow it.

As you may know, if you’ve decided to eliminate HFCS, you have to become an avid label reader. Since I am anyway (see: vegetarian, above), this has been okay with me. Of course I am dismayed at the places I find HFCS — bread being my biggest disappointment, with canned soup close behind. Bye-bye, Roman Meal and Progresso Soup.

I stumbled onto this site, and I am going to use their list of HFCS-free foods to help me shop next time I go. Monkey doesn’t like any bread with nuts or seeds in it — neither does DearDR, come to think of it — so it will be challenging to find something she will eat. Making my own bread and/or shopping at Whole Foods are not quite on the agenda yet (it’s a time thing).

I’ve actually been just as surprised as where HFCS is not. Apple Jacks? No HFCS. Fruit Loops? Ditto. Now obviously, those are high in sugar (I think it’s the first or second ingredient in both), but I think on occasion, those cereals are okay.

RPM’s Food Mantra: All things in moderation. I don’t drink diet pop (or “soda” as some of you insist of calling it) — I don’t drink regular pop that often; I don’t buy “low-fat” foods, or sugar-free snacks. I believe in real ingredients, organic if we can afford it (and almost all organic dairy), and variety.

It’s funny, because as I’m reading this over I think I sound like a super-fussy eater. But really, I’m not. I like food that tastes good, and I’m not a big junk-food eater. I don’t obsess about food or about what I feed the girls. And I don’t get all worked up about what (or when) they eat, or how much. I can count the food battles I have had with them: Two, one with Bun, one with Monkey.

But I am trying to be more conscientious about food ingredients because… I don’t know. I guess it’s complicated to explain. Because I’m a mom — and a wife — who is the caretaker of health in my house. Eating well — it’s second nature to me. I do not think about it, literally. And I want Monkey and Bun to have the same relationship with food that I have, which can be summed up like this: Eat when you’re hungry; eat food that tastes good and is good for you; and everything is fine in moderation.

That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Bun Love

The instant Monkey was born, she had her daddy’s heart. There was no question. Monkey was born with her eyes wide open (you’d be awake, too, after being squeezed like a sausage for three hours), and, DearDR says, looking right at him.

With Bun, it has taken longer for her to assume the mantle of ‘daddy’s girl’.

Part of it was the timing. We had intended to wait another year before even ‘trying’ to get pregnant. Bun was born a year early, and as my husband also says, “It’s the first time a [Our Last Name] was that early for anything.” So DearDR wasn’t quite ready for round two with another girl.

The anxiety that Bun put us through, albeit unintentionally, didn’t help either.

But as of late, Bun has just as much (i.e. all of) her daddy’s heart as Monkey. Don’t get me wrong, of course DearDR has loved Bun from the outset. It’s just that I can see him warming toward her the way he instantly warmed to Monkey.

At times that we are together as family, “divide and conquer” used to mean: I took care of Bun, and DearDR took care of Monkey. But even that is being switched up. He is just as likely to take Bun under his care as Monkey. (Still not crazy about taking them both at the same time, but he’s getting there.)

The way he touches her face when they are together, and the way he lavishes his attention on her… The level and type of the attention that used to be Monkey’s exclusive right has expanded to include Bun. The same exclamations that DearDR used to say to and about Monkey now apply to Bun as well. “I love you so much, Bun.” “She’s so beautiful!” He has even elected to put her to bed instead of Monkey.

I can see that Monkey is a little insecure about her Daddy’s expanding affection. As a result she is turning back toward me. She wants me to bathe her, even when DearDR is available. She wants to help me with dinner on a Saturday night, rather than hanging with Daddy and Bun. This week, with my in-laws out of town, she has asked me to take her to school or to DCL’s. Unfortunately, I leave too early for work to be able to do that. That has been difficult for Monkey to accept.

Heck, Monkey can’t figure out why I get up in the middle of the night to shower and go to work in the first place. I should be able to wait until the sun comes up and take her to school. (I kind of agree with her on that, but such is the bed I have made.)

As for the girls, and who they prefer, it all depends who is at hand. If I am there, and they are not getting their way, they revert to ” I want Daddy!” (Monkey) or “Dada!” (Bun). Of course. I’m sure DearDR gets a lot of calls for “Mama!” in the mornings.

Don’t worry, Monkey. You’re still Number One.
It’s just that Bun is Number One now, too.