Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Trick or Treat!

Sophie was a little mouse! EJ wore this costume when she was Sophie's age:

EJ was Hannah Montana, complete with her new ecco boots:

And, this is an outfit that I bought for EJ from Chinatown in San Francisco. We didn't buy her any bigger sizes when we were in China (don't know what I was thinking!), so she requested a new dress in hot pink, which I found, and a pants set. The hat was meant for Sophie but it fits EJ too!

I'm home...

...but it wasn't easy. The trip out was fairly uneventful, despite the warnings of severe turbulence on the way to Chicago (which never materialized, thankfully - I hate minor turbulence!) and despite the woman sitting across the aisle from me between Chicago and San Fran - the one who looked like death warmed over - who clutched the airsick bag the entire trip. I had movies on my iPod and I was fine.

The trip back was a little different.

I decided to take the redeye back last night. I'm not a fan of redeyes, but since it was the only way to experience the entire conference and still get home for trick-or-treat, it served the purpose. I went to an early dinner at a fabulous restaurant near the hotel with some of my friends from work (The Grand Cafe) and then ducked out around 8 to go back to the hotel and grab a cab to the airport. I made it there in good time, hopped on the plane and spent the next few hours snoozing on and off. Not too bad.

I landed in D.C. around 6 AM (ahead of schedule!) and had about a 2.5 hour layover to get my connecting flight home. No problem - I grabbed some tea for my sore throat and read a magazine. But the flight kept getting delayed - first to 9:15, then 9:30, then 10, 10:30. The plane was being repaired. Apparently, it took a hit from a bird and some unit had to be replaced. The unit was swapped out but the mechanics couldn't seem to get the bolts in alignment, which is just a teeny little problem.

At 10:45, they FINALLY decided to put us on another plane. Which they had to pull out of the hangar and "dust off". Which they then discovered had had some maintenance the day before. Which had never been signed off on. So they couldn't let us board. Until they found the head mechanic. Who had to come over and RETEST the whole plane. And then he signed off. So they let us board. Board a plane that had no fuel in it. So they called the fuel truck. Which took a while. They couldn't close the door until refueling was complete. Which made people testy. Especially the guy in the bulkhead row who wasn't allowed to keep his laptop bag on the floor. So he slammed the overhead bin shut. He should have been removed from the plane.

I was starting to panic that I wasn't going to be home for trick or treat after all. We finally took off about four hours later than planned and I made it home with 2.5 hours to spare. But this time there was a guy across the aisle from me who used his airsick bag. For a smooth flight! About halfway through the flight, his wife asked the flight attendant for a plastic bag because "he always gets sick during the landing". And he did! Oh joy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greetings from San Francisco!

I'm in beautiful San Francisco this week for my company's annual user conference. I haven't been here in at least 14 years, but it is just as exciting as I remember. We are staying in Union Square and having a really great time.

I left really early on Monday morning and arrived in San Francisco around lunchtime. I met up with a few co-workers for lunch and then my friend K and I walked to Chinatown for a little shopping. I bought some jade earrings to go with the bangle I bought in Beijing and some new silk outfits for EJ and a hat for Sophie.

Later, we met up with my good friends JC and BK. JC and I worked together for several years and he and B moved to San Francisco in the spring for B's new job. J met K and I at the hotel and we took and old streetcar to his neighborhood and walked to their house. We enjoyed dinner at Andalu, which had fabulous food served tapas style. We also REALLY enjoyed the sangria! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics, but I know that J took some at the restaurant, so I'll have to ask him to send them along!

This morning, we did a Segway tour of the city (as we did last year in DC). This tour didn't seem quite as long, but was still a lot of fun. After that, we had lunch at Scoma's, which was recommended by our tour guide. I had a dungeness crab salad, which was excellent.

After lunch, K and I walked over to Pier 49 to do a little shopping (not too much, honey!). Here I am with the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge behind can barely see the peaks above the thick layer of fog that was rolling in.

Earlier, when we were taking the tour, you could only see the lower half of the bridge!

If you've been to Pier 39, you know about the sea lions. There were a lot more hanging out today than I remember from my last trip.

After a few hours' rest, we had an opening cocktail party this evening and then went to dinner at Cortez, just a block or so from the hotel. I had eaten some appetizers at the cocktail reception, so I really wasn't hungry, but managed to share some small plate items and taste a few others. If you click on the link, you can see that the menu was a bit eclectic...
K gets to have a "fun" week at home with the girls. On Sunday evening, they decided to tackle the annual carving on the pumpkin since it was going to be busy every other night during the week.

EJ showed Sophie how to scoop the good. Sophie preferred running her fingers through the pumpkin seeds instead.

EJ finishes off the jack-o-lantern.

It's off to bed now. It's after midnight and I need to be up early!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quotes of the Day

"Resistance is futile."
This quote is from today's Boston Globe review of High School Musical 3. If you have a girl between the age of 6 (or 4?) and 12, I suspect you know what I'm talking about. This Saturday, I'm going with one other mom to take a big group of girls to the movie, and I'm sure we'll have fun. EJ got the soundtrack on Tuesday, so we're singing all the songs and we watched the "Making Of..." DVD. Oh boy. Anyway, the review is as expected. You can read it here. I like the section where they say the movie "has introduced the pleasures of singing and dancing to a new generation? In the real world, Troy would probably be on steroids and Sharpay would be bulimic; Ryan would be in the closet and Kelsi would be in denial; Gabriella would be sending nude cellphone pictures to her boyfriend that would end up on the Internet. (Oh, wait . . .)" Funny.

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies."
This one's from Groucho Marx and is featured in this month's issue of Reader's Digest. Seems appropriate for the last two weeks before the election and/or the current financial mess. Ugh. Enough already.

"Tiggah gave me boon!"
Today's last quote is Sophie telling her big sister about her day's adventure. She went to daycare in the AM while I worked from home. I picked her up after lunch (but before nap) and we headed into my office. It's about an hour's drive and I assumed she would nap. I was wrong. We got to work, where we spent the afternoon trick-or-treating from office to office. To the lack of a nap, add some sugar (M&Ms and KitKats, gee, thanks D!!!), two cups of apple cider, and then...the Tigger sighting! Yes, AM, VP of fun at my office, was at it again...dressed as Tigger, bouncing around, and handing out balloons. What fun! Poor thing didn't make it to the bottom of the hill near my office before she fell asleep in the back seat of the car. Let's just say it wasn't pleasant arriving home at 6:20pm with a sleep-deprived and sugar-overloaded kid. She wailed for the last 30 minutes and fought us as we put on her pjs.

Tomorrow night is EJ's school party - she's going to be Hannah Montana! Saturday is the movie. Sunday is the day I really need to pack for my San Francisco trip since I leave very early on Monday!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A little OCD...

...never hurt anyone. Sophie shows tendencies toward "order and structure" in her life. She and K were playing with the matching cards tonight (she's very good with them), and then she decided to line them all up. She's very funny about having things in nice neat lines or in stackable order (she was playing with the wooden stacking dolls we have from our visit to Russia many years ago). She studies EVERYTHING to great detail and likes to figure out how things work. I think an engineering career is in her future...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One more win...

...that's all the Red Sox need to get back into the World Series. Stupid me, being the exhausted mommy I am...I went to bed too early Thursday night! But there's something about it being 10:45 P.M. and the score being 7-0 in the 7th inning that makes you not want to watch any more. I was tired, and I missed the biggest comeback of the year. I didn't even look at on Friday morning, because I just knew that they lost. I listen to satellite radio on the way to work, so I didn't hear it then, either. Imagine my surprise when I commented to a co-worker that at least I could sleep now that baseball season was "over", and she looked and me and told me they won! I seriously thought she was joking me.

Today, I took the girls for their holiday portrait. I like going early before the crowds get crazy (I'm losing my patience in my old age). Sophie did so good this time...again, just a few minutes to warm up to the photographer and then she started striking poses.

When we got home, I thought I would take a few shots in the yard...

...and when EJ decided to strike a pose, Sophie followed along:

But then, EJ got all silly...

...and it just went downhill from there!

Go Sox!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tough re-entry

Ahhh...a four day weekend that had no big plans. I took Friday off, and then three other days with nothing more planned than some coffee and bagels at my cousin's house. EJ and I did a little shopping (ooo...there's now a Lucky Jeans outlet in Kittery!), we went out for some yummy Mexican food, and I took the girls to the toy store to get some Christmas gift ideas (without a lot of luck).

So, re-entering the weekly routine today was expected to be uneventful. Daycare called K before lunch to report that Sophie appeared to have conjunctivitis. We didn't remember her eye being red this morning, but I thought she felt a little warm. The teacher said that her eye was draining some yucky stuff. So, he went and picked her up. He had a tough time getting her to lay down for her nap, and I left work early to get home in time to get her to the dr. When she woke up from her nap, she was as mellow as I've ever seen her - wasn't talking to us, just very quiet and clingy. She did great at the dr's, and we need to use eyedrops a few times a day until it clears. She didn't seem to mind them too much. She can't go back to school tomorrow, so I'll have to work from home.

I'm also working from home on Thursday, as K is having oral surgery. He needs to have a tooth extracted (while under anesthesia), so I have to shuttle him around. Mind you, this is a tooth that we've already sunk a lot of money into to try to save, and now we're going to throw it out! He's also having some prep work done for an implant that will happen after the first of the year. Yikes. It's a good week here, huh?

After dinner, Sophie really perked back up again and she ran around the house for about 30 minutes! Then, EJ showed her a few hip hop moves, which she picked up right away since she LOVES to imitate EJ!

And we won't even talk about the Sox tonight since they're already down 3-0 in the 2nd inning. Ugh. I just have one comparison to make. What's up with Youk's beard? Kevin Youkilis and Yukon Cornelius...separated at birth? Youk...Yuk? You decide:

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's the buzz?

Remember when K was stung by something on his forehead a few weeks ago while trimming the shrubs? Well, it happened again last weekend. He decided to pick up where he left off with the pruning a few weeks ago, thinking the bees wouldn't be on the shrubs with the weather so cool. Well, he fired up the electric trimmers and was attacked again, this time on his wrist.

Saturday, he discovered the problem. There is a huge hive that was built around the lattice under our porch. Some of the branches from the butterfly bush are actually being used as "supports" for the hive, so whenever he disturbs the bush, it disturbs the hive, and then the bees disturb him.

The hive is about 12 inches in height and maybe 6-8 inches across. I think we're going to have to wait until after a few good frosts to try to get rid of it. And when I say "we're" that means "he" or whoever we have to pay. I don't like bees even a little bit.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Ideas?

While browsing a few of the other recipes on this week's recipe swap, I came across this little gem - Meal Plan Monday. Each week, more than 300 people post their family's menu for the week, many of them with links to the recipes! Isn't that clever? Now, if you're stuck for meal ideas, you can poke around out there.

Click here for last week's Meal Plan Monday. The new one will start tomorrow.

Bolognese Sauce

I haven't done a recipe swap in MONTHS! The last one I posted was way back in May. I see that this week's swap on Overwhelmed with Joy is the Sauce Edition. So, here is a sauce you can try. This recipe was given to me by a co-worker years ago when we lived in Florida. Supposedly, her grandmother had been a cook at Delmonico's in New York and this was their Bolognese sauce recipe (or some variation on it). I LOVE Bolognese sauce, and some of my favorite Bolognese comes from Salvatore's restaurant and Lawrence and South Boston. I like to serve this Bolognese with linguine.

For more sauce recipes from this week, click the graphic!


  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 16-ounce can Del Monte stewed tomatoes
  • 32-ounce can Hunt's tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground round
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash cayenne and pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Brown beef and sausage, drain fat. In dutch oven, saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until golden. Add beef and sausage. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Add all spices. Cover and let simmer for one hour.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This little piggy...

While K was out running errands this morning, the girls and I decorated for Halloween. EJ and Sophie had fun digging through some of the old costumes. When EJ was about 1.5, she was a pig - she wore these ears and snout with a pink sweatsuit that I had sewn a curly tail onto. Sophie thought she was pretty funny!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Go Phillies!

Okay, I know I said that I LOVE October baseball...known as Soxtober here in New England. But the one thing I hate about it is that all the games start later (8 P.M. instead of 7, at the earliest), and we won't even talk about those west coast games.

Therefore, I hereby declare that we must have a Red Sox/Phillies World Series. We simply can't have the Dodgers from LA in there screwing up my sleeping schedule. However, should the Dodgers (complete with Manny) make the Series, my only saving grace is that I will be on the west coast should the Series go more than 4 games. I'll be in San Francisco the week of October 27th, so any west coast games would be watchable there...and any east coast games would be on 5 or 6 PM local time. The only possible downside is that should the Series go to seven games, I'll be on the red-eye on the way back when the Sox win (notice how I threw in that shameless prediction).

Go Phillies!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peanut butter - take 2

Well, the second test of peanut butter didn't go any better. This time, the miniscule amount of peanut butter was nestled between a bit of cookie and a layer of chocolate (EJ found the girl scout cookies in the freezer!). I allowed Sophie to have a little "neeble" (nibble), and she did the same thing a few minutes later - pulled at her tongue, coughed, and got some red splotches around her mouth. She was fine within a few minutes, I think a call to the doctor will be in order in the next few days. And we need to alert her caregivers that she can't have any until we get this figured out.

EJ and I walked in the breast cancer walk in Boston yesterday with a team from my office. Actually, we only walked with the team part way, and then we cut off to take the short loop (3 miles), while the rest of team did the long loop (5.7 miles). A bit chilly, but the walking kept us warm. It was a lot of fun - I've never walked across any of the big bridges of Boston before, so we had a chance to check out the view from the Mass Ave bridge.

Oh, and for those of you following the weaning process, Sophie has now gone to bed 5 of the last 6 nights without her bottle, so I think we're pretty much there! Yeah!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Weaning the wee one

Oh, Sophie was lovin' that evening bottle. She was able to get rid of all of her other bottles so easily. Even the morning bottle was easy to give up - just a few days and we were DONE with that thing. But we have been so negligent in getting rid of that evening bottle. I know it. It's all us. We cave in. We're weak. Actually, we're tired and weak and she's tired and ready for bed and moaning for her "Bah Bah",and it's just so much easier to calm her down, even if it isn't the right thing to do.

Well, Wednesday night after dinner, Sophie was having so much fun playing with Daddy that she completely forgot about it. She even brought me her empty milk cup and asked for more milk. I filled it up quickly, hoping that a full belly meant she would forget about the dreaded Bah Bah. It worked!

The next night, I was on the phone with my grandmother and she had a small meltdown, and I waited too long to placate it, so she started wailing for the Bah Bah. I gave in. See? I'm a sucker.

But the last two nights, we've been able to get her to bed without it. She hasn't even asked about it. Well, tonight, she did ask but I was quickly able to distract her until she forgot about it. You don't know how happy I will be to get rid of those darn bottles. You don't know how many times I've been standing in the infant department at Walmart buying those plastic bottle liners insisting that this would be the last box I would purchase.

Now, I'm gonna start counting down to the last case of diapers. I'll be a rich woman after that!

Now that Sophie is two, we've also eliminated the need to buy whole milk each week - she's drinking 1% with the rest of us. Yeah! More room in the fridge! And she's now allowed to eat more foods, including shellfish and nuts. Last night, I made kung pao shrimp and veggie lo mein for dinner. I put just a few teeny bites of shrimp in her lo mein and it didn't appear to bother her.

The peanut butter, however, was another story. EJ was eating an apple with peanut butter for lunch today and Sophie wanted some. I took the teeniest little bit on a knife and spread it on a cracker. She ate about 3/4 of it and then moved back to her lo mein, but was sticking her fingers in her mouth and started coughing a little. We're not sure if it really bothered her or was just stuck to the roof of her mouth, but honestly, there was just a little thin film of it on the cracker. She was fine about 5 minutes later, but it was starting to scare us a little, as she can't really tell you what she's feeling yet. I think we'll try another little bit tomorrow to see if she has the same reaction. By the way, she has had a similar reaction to fresh pineapple - it's kind of like the acid bothers her tongue or something...she reaches in and grabs at her tongue and obviously isn't happy about it.

Today was a busy day - I took EJ for her hip hop dance shoes and then to another store to get a nice pair of black knee-high dress boots (which she also plans to wear as part of her Halloween costume - Hannah Montana!). Then, this afternoon, she went to her good friend's house for her birthday party - they went to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua and then had pizza for dinner. She had a great time. We took advantage of the few hours she was there to take Sophie out to dinner and to try to do a little early holiday shopping (completely unsuccessful, by the way).