Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's the worst blogger ever, Charlie Brown!

Or rather, it's the worst digital scrapbooker ever, because y'all know I'm not doing this for any other reason (um, unless there's no one out there anymore and in that case, kids... when you read this years from now... I did my best!).

So, when we last left 'Confessions of a Parenting Book Junkie', you'll recall that it was Clay's birthday, and I was kvetching over the R2D2 cake from hell. Drew's birthday was in September, and because I'm the 'WDSE' (see first paragraph), I failed to create a post about it. I'm sorry Drew!!! Here's what we did: we went to a Pirates game on a Sunday and the kids ran the bases (SHOCK!). The base running started out poorly because a random bee decided to randomly sting my random kid that happened to be my older son (not the birthday boy) for some random but clearly hostile reason. Clay then proceeded to scream and go into hysterics all the way onto the ball field, where he started to run through his tears, and then get tripped by some other kid thus renewing his commitment to the freak-out while he walked the rest of the bases. While we tried to commandeer some ice for him, Drew took the opportunity to lap the bases 4 or 5 times. I don't remember how many. I do remember a PNC Staffer trying to tackle him with each cross of home plate but the kid (now a big-boy 3 year old) was just too fast for her. I had to actually STAND on the HOME PLATE of PNC PARK home of the 17 SEASON LOSING PITTSBURGH PIRATES to get the birthday boy to knock it off. And then we went home and had leftover birthday cake.

Drew's cake was a bizarre last minute choice of his... Transformers. This was okay, because as you'll remember, I wasn't baking it.

This was taken at the moment Drew finished his first lap, and you can see he's thinking no one is watching and is deciding to take off for another one. Rascal.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Super Six!!

Today is Clay's 6th birthday, which is a fact that blows my mind because I'm certain that Mike and I just got married day before yesterday and I graduated from high school just last year. But, it's true. He's six. And in case you were counting, I'm not eighteen.

That last sentence was painfully obvious to me at 12:36 this morning as I finally finished the R2D2 cake that Clay didn't really ask for, but since he wanted a Star Wars cake, I figured let's do R2D2. He would have been happy with his action figures on a sheet cake. Maybe a "May the Force Be With You" written on it. But I found a blog post describing an "easy" R2 comprised of 2 sheet cakes and half a 9" round cake. The author swore she put it together while nursing her umpteenth child and homeschooling the others. "Heck, I can do this!" Yeah, right.

Mike said that for the time and cost I spent working on the darn thing, this cake represents a total expenditure of $160. At least that's when he stopped tallying. And then he told me that it looked pretty good, although it wasn't a technically accurate representation of R2D2. Had I not just spent 6 hours working on it, I would have chucked the cake at him.

But it turned out pretty well, and Clay was pleased. Drew couldn't take his eyes off of it, but he's got a sweet tooth as bad as mine. At one point this morning I caught him licking one of R2's feet. I'm pretty sure the neighbors heard my scream.

After cake and presents, we went downtown to the Pirates game. It was a GORGEOUS evening, and afterwards there were fireworks. Pittsburgh's a town mad for fireworks, and the show was spectacular.

It's 11:48 and there's 12 minutes left in Clay's birthday #6. He's playing with his new Nintendo DS. I'm letting him stay up until 12:01, and then Birthdaypalooza is officially over.

And in the future, I'm leaving the cake decorating to the local bakery.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart. You were and still are worth all the effort.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Does the one in my other pants count?

Since my birthday, I've become good friends with my insurance company. It changed in January, and I thought I was on top of those changes, but sadly not so much.

Around my birthday, I faithfully have a well woman exam. "Happy Birthday", said my doctor, "here's a slip for a mammogram". I dutifully accepted it and made an appointment right away. I'm not messing around with cancer if I can help it. Sign me up for any and every screening available, that's my motto.

While there, I asked about this patch of eczema that I've had for six years. Yes, since before Clay was born. And the only reason I asked is because Drew has eczema, and so I wondered if maybe I had an allergy that he also had (he's been tested, but only peanut had a reaction), and my doctor said "sure, why not" and referred me to an allergist.

The allergist said "see a dermatologist. You're a grown woman for cryin' out loud! Allergies don't manifest like this in adults." I may have paraphrased that last part, but I'm pretty sure she kicked me out of her office with a 30 second comment such as this after a 90 minute wait on my part.

And that is how I found myself at a HUGE dermatology practice. The doctor/resident looked at my spot and said: "Do you still have your uterus?" Confused, I explained that I was 40 and had my two kids and further children were unlikely and what the heck kind of phrasing was that anyway? She said she specifically asks female patients if we still have a uterus because if so, we could still get pregnant and the medicine she was going to recommend was SO POTENT that you couldn't even think about getting pregnant for 3 years after your last dose.

"Oh. Well, does the one in my other pants count?", I asked.

Dermatologists have no sense of humor.

"Of course we'd have to test you weekly because there are other side effects like liver damage and kidney failure. So are you interested?"

Less interested in my uterus but more so in my kidneys and liver, I asked if she had anything else. She shrugged. "Just some of the same stuff you have been taking, although there is this new cream that might not be covered by your insurance. I'll write you a scrip anyway. If it's not covered, I'll write you two others. Get those filled, mix them and it'll be almost as good."

I dropped off the three prescriptions and sent Mike the next day to pick them up. He called afterwards. "Did you know that one prescription was $500? So I asked about the next one and they said it was $100. So then I asked them what else they had and they said the third was a generic for $15. I picked that up for you." I thanked him, but reminded him that I needed BOTH for it to be "almost as good" as the $500 cream.

A few days later I went to the pharmacist. "Exactly how big is this $100 tube anyway?" She brought it out, and I inspected the merchandise. It would probably last me a long time. Was I worth it? Could I just continue to live with the scratchy patch? Ultimately I made the decision to buy it, not because I thought it would help me, but because I couldn't stand the thought of losing the $15 bucks on the one prescription I already had. Plus I considered it a 40th birthday present to myself.

It's helped, and I'm supposed to go back to the dermatologist in a month for a follow up. But I think I'll skip it. I could save the co-pay. But if I do go, I'm going to take my uterus. I might lock up the liver and kidneys, though.

Our Disney Trip

Way back at the beginning of March, we spent my precious annual leave hours for 2009 and drove to Orlando. We had to pay our respects to Double M, the Head Cheese himself... Mickey Mouse.

And so it was on an early Saturday morning we left the house and travelled 8 hours to Charlotte, where my college roommate Rhonda and her family hosted us for the evening. I could have stayed the week there, but no, there was Magic to be had and so we left Sunday morning.

Did you know that Disney World has a car care center? Well it does. We know because our front left tire nearly fell off. Fortunately, Disney replaced the wheel bearing for us (for a fee, of course. Nothing's free at Disney). But they did drop Mike back at the hotel, and pick him up at the Magic Kingdom when it was done. Service with a smile, for $500.

Did you know that Disney World has a medical service where a doctor will come to your room if you're sick? Well it does. We know this because Mike developed a kidney stone the night before we left. Here's how my phone conversation with the front desk went:

Me: Can you recommend a 24 hour urgent care center?
Them: Would you like a doctor to come to your room?
Me: (Pause) How much does THAT cost?

Turns out, it costs about $350. But they'll give you a receipt for insurance, who will happily tell you it's part of your deductible!

And that is how our cheap Disney vacation (a drive, Dad's Disney points, and only 2 parks) turned into a regularly priced Disney vacation.

Well, hello stranger!

While I wait for the iPhone 3.0 software to download, I thought I'd drop by and say hullo. Hullo!

It's 11:00, and I really should be heading to bed, but things have been preventing reasonable bedtimes, and blog posts, for several weeks now.

Here's a quick catch up...

I turned 40!

Mike and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!

A dermatologist asked me if I still had my uterus! (My response: does the one back home in my other pants count?) More on that next...

I've been a gardening fool! But not so much a good one.

It seems I've done nothing but work, work, work!

The school year's over, and Clay's no longer a kindergartener!

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup!

I'd like a summer vacation, please.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Perspectives

While opening china cabinet drawers to see if the Easter Bunny left him an egg amongst my napkins, candle snuffer and cake knife, Clay wonders if the Easter Bunny would hide something inside our furniture. We tell him no.

Me: "Because it's an invasion of privacy"
Mike: "Because the Easter Bunny has paws and can't open the drawers".

Drew, meanwhile, has abandoned the hunt, preferring the easy prey of marshmallow Peeps. The boys' baskets were light on candy this year since we knew the Easter Bunny (or E.B. as we know him) would bring them lots of jelly bean filled eggs. And Baba & Gigi and various relatives will probably ply them with sweets. Instead there were Dr. Seuss books, activity pads, some gardening tools and a little basil pot, bubbles and Bakugan. Basically, whatever I could pick up from the Target dollar bins, plus one toy. Later there will be dinner with Baba & Gigi, Uncle Nick and Aunt Marilyn, Nikia, Ryan, Nicholas, with loads of kielbasa, Ukrainian cheese, ham, deviled eggs, hreen (horseradish and beets) and Paska (Easter Bread), that the boys will turn their noses up to... in favor of marshmallow Peeps.

When I was growing up, Easter was a Sunday where you had to get up early to go to a sunrise service, and were rewarded with a stunning basket of treats. Then we went to grandma's for dinner. But we usually went to dinner there every Sunday. For Mike, Easter was a solemn occasion marked by fasting, basket blessing, church services and then finally the joyous day when you could dig into all of the stuff his mom and baba had been working so hard on for a week. Today, we dig into the kielbasa as soon as the basket is blessed. Baba reminds us that HER mother would have had a fit to see it. But she cuts us another slice.

For my mother-in-law, Easter was an EVENT. The basket was not touched until after Easter morning mass. She told me yesterday that her father and uncle would build a tomb for their church where a shroud was placed on Good Friday, after it had been carried outside and around the church three times. (Not to be outdone by the Ukrainians, the Italian Church in her neighborhood had a special crucifix where during the Good Friday mass the priest would remove nails from, and one by one the arms and legs of Jesus would fall off the cross.) On Holy Saturday, baskets were blessed and before evening mass, the shroud was removed from the tomb and was carried outside around the church three times again before returned to the altar so that it would be out of the tomb by Sunday morning. And on Easter Sunday, the most joyous day of the year for them, the church bells were open for anyone and everyone to ring. Parishioners shouted 'Christos Voskres!' (Christ is Risen!) over and over. For Baba as a girl, she didn't have to look far for Easter imagery.

Last Saturday we attended Palm Sunday mass with Baba & Gigi. Morning mass is hard for Gigi now, so they go in the evening. The service is Byzantine and beautiful, although my mother-in-law knows that I could do without the incense and especially holy oil... too fragrant for me. "Sorry Nance", she whispered as we go up for the blessing "... there's 'goop' today." We receive palms and pussy willows... a Ukrainian tradition. Ukraine's climate isn't compatible to palms... and so worshippers received pussy willow branches in the Old Country. We bring our branches home and stick them in water. With any luck, they'll root and we can plant them in our yard. Last night was Holy Saturday services, where the Plaschenytsia (Ukrainian Holy Shroud) is removed and walked around the church three times. I stayed home with Drew because we knew a two hour service would be too much for him. But as the crew came home, with the Sheleheda family tradition of double cheese pizza, I could smell the incense in Clay's hair.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Did anyone do anything exciting over the weekend? No? I suppose it was just a simple, quiet winter weekend... especially here in Pittsburgh. Nope, nothing special at all happened.

What? What's that you say? A football game? No.... no one here's interested at all in football. Why, Sunday was mom's birthday and I had planned months ago to take her to see Jersey Boys. A 6:30 curtain too, so it could even be an early night for both of us! I did think it was odd that everyone in the theater was wearing lots of black and gold colors. And for some reason, every now and then you could hear whispers of 'Steelers up...' and then mumbled numbers. But truthfully, I was just trying to focus on Frankie Valli's story. I mean, who really thinks about football... even championship football... especially if your city's team is in the game... when there's outstanding musical theater to be enjoyed?

Of course, I did find it slightly odd at intermission when a woman shouted out "17-7!!!" in the ladies room. Not as odd as the collective squeals that erupted from all the stalls, though. I wonder what that was about?

But then it dawned on me during the curtain call that people were focused on more than "a good night at the theater" when two of the Four Seasons ran on stage wearing 'Luv Ya Black and Gold' tee-shirts and twirling a Terrible Towel. Imagine!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Go Tell Aunt Rhody

From Clay's Christmas Recital (pardon if the quality is bad. I haven't figured out the maze of Google Video or You Tube compression yet. So I just uploaded this video directly to Blogger.

One year ago today...

We moved into this house. In one year we've...

Replaced the carpets and painted the joint
Bought a refrigerator and washer/dryer
Installed a swingset
Rebuilt the bowing retaining walls
Started one little boy in kindergarten and another in preschool
Planted 20 shrubs, countless flowers and 300 bulbs

I suppose that's a start... happy anniversary to us!

Here we go Steelers!

First playoff game and Pittsburgh is EXCITED... here are pics from Friday's Terrible Tree event.

I love that I work in a city with sponsored grown up pep rallies!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Happy New Year! I'm slowly digging out from under my life. Between Christmas and work, I haven't had much time to myself. I'm in the middle of a wicked software upgrade that's still not neat and pretty. Sadly, this little project was supposed to be done by mid-December and here we are 3 weeks later... going and going and going. It's the Energizer Bunny of software upgrades.

I have Christmas pictures and a violin video to post... I promise I'll get to it soon!

I'm Twittering now

I don't know why... but if you Twitter too feel free to follow. I've got updates on the sidebar. We'll see how long this lasts. I'm not sure I understand the point.