Sunday, December 28, 2008

Strange weather we're having, ain't it?

In the past week or so we have had blizzards, rain, extreme cold (down to 0 degrees F), very warm weather (in the 60s yesterday), and now a huge windstorm.

Sometime in the night a huge Silver Maple in our backyard got blown over. As you can see here, it wrecked the fence that separates our yard from the Country Club parking lot as well as taking out a few smaller trees.

It extends quite a ways beyond the fence into the parking lot.

The tree service guy was just here. He says that our insurance will cover the removal since it damaged a structure. I think the fence actually belongs to the Country Club, so their insurance will probably take care of repairing it. We're also going to take out the tree next to the one that fell. Ironically, that was the one we knew was dead and were more concerned about.

It's one of those things we've known we had to deal with for a while but kept hoping we could put off the expense another year. I guess we're just lucky it didn't fall toward the house.

Merry Christmas

Christmas was a little off this year. With the floors being refinished upstairs, the house is in chaos and we have been sleeping in the living room. We're on the fold-out couch, and Genevieve camps out on the loveseat. That means that we actually sleep right in front of the Christmas tree--something John says he always wanted to do when he was a kid.

Genevieve didn't get up any earlier than usual on Christmas morning, but that still meant 6:45 am, which is earlier than John would have liked. She discovered that her stocking had been filled overnight, and even Prince and Doodles got treats in theirs.

This is all the loot from Genevieve's stocking.

I gave Genevieve my iPod for Christmas since I now have an iPhone. In the picture below she is staring at me in disbelief--she was amazed that I let her have it. Her favorite gift, though, was the iDog I gave her to go with it.
After presents at home we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Fortunately they have a chess set. She beat me at it. John's much better, thoough, which is good because he teaches her a lot. Here is the American Girl doll that Grandma gave Genevieve for Christmas.

Overall it was a good day. Genevieve got to see her cousins for a while, and afterward we went to Lights on the Lake for the first time. We all really liked it. On the way home she fell asleep in the car so we never did our Hannukah thing that night. Not a problem, we made up for it the next night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sorry, no cards this year

If you are someone who usually gets a holiday card from me, please don't think I'm snubbing you. I never got around to sending cards this year. I'll send birth announcements in 6 weeks or so instead!
Here are some pictures of my cutie in the meantime.

Happy Hanukkah!

Our version of Hanukkah has menorahs in front of the Christmas tree....
Here Genevieve has received a gift of dress-up shoes and tiaras from Meme and Saba. I think she coerced them into giving it to her after she found it in their basement (it was intended for someone else). In the next photo she is posing in one of the sets.

The first gift she opened from us wasn't quite as exciting. A new Princess hamper to replace the old Winnie-the-Pooh one. Genevieve's reaction to everything she opens is "I knew it!"...even when she actually has no idea what it is. In this case she decided the hamper makes a great bee-keeper costume.
The second night she was much more excited about her gift from Mom and Dad. One of my friends told me about BellaSara, which is kind of like Webkinz except with horses. I think this is going to be the next big thing for her. She wanted to stay up late brushing her virtual horse, and the first thing she did in the morning was to go online to see her again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Girl Scouts

Since I was a kid, Girl Scouts have added another level for younger kids below Brownies, so Genevieve is a Daisy this year. She could have done it last year, but no one wanted to help me lead the troop, and I wasn't dumb enough to do it alone. This year another woman stepped up to the leadership position, and I am "helping." At their first meeting they made Daisy smocks to use as their "uniforms" and learned all that GS stuff like the GS Promise and the Friendship Squeeze.

(This is Genevieve's friend Lauren making her shirt. Genevieve and Lauren were the only ones who got size small.)

(Here is the Friendship Squeeze in action. Genevieve is the one in the dark pink shirt on the far side.)

I am a little peeved that the GSP is still "On my honor I will try to do my best to serve God and my country ..." GSA goes overboard with showing girls of different races/ethnicities at every opportunity, yet they still stick to the old religious underpinnings that come entirely from Christian doctrine. (I haven't heard much about their stance on homosexuality, but I assume it's similar to the Boy Scouts, who are known for being intolerant.) It makes me feel like their message of inclusivity is a load of crap. The current leader is completely oblivious of course, and I think all the other girls in the troop are white and Christian (except for one part-Hispanic girl who was adopted into a white family). I'll be less grumpy about it once they stop doing Christmas activities.

On Saturday we sold GS cookies at a booth outside a local dairy owned by one of the girls' family. This is so much better than the door-to-door method! After my horrible experience with that, I'm not sure if I'll ever let her go door-to-door anyway.
(These are two of the other girls who were selling cookies with us. They used the bells to try to drum up business with the Christmas tree shoppers.)

After that Genevieve went to a birthday party at Sweet and Sassy, a salon for young girls started by a marketing genius. They all got updos, nail polish, blush, sparkle spray, and put on costumes to dance under a disco ball.

(This is after she got home from the party. She's playing her favorite game, chess. She is constantly asking us to play chess with her lately, or she plays it on the computer.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting there

I haven't shown the room in a while, so here's an update. It's now a functioning office, although we still have a lot of work to do to finish it up. The ugly door and window are slated to be replaced professionally in the near future, and we have lots of molding to put up and other small touches.

One thing that made a surprisingly big difference was re-staining the paneling. We had to stain the areas that had been hidden by the old drop ceiling for years, and we found a color that was close but not a perfect match. So we ended up redoing the whole thing, and I like it much better now.

For comparison, see this previous post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama WINS!


Finally, we get rid of the Republican regime! Maybe we can start to fix this country. I hope he can do it. This article from the Onion is sadly accurate in many ways.

I think it's cool that we elected a black man finally, but that's not the big victory to me. I am much more interested in the candidates' ideas and attitudes than in any of their personal attributes. The whole Republican greed + religious idiocy combination makes me so angry and frustrated all the time.

Besides, I have been saying for 20 years that we would elect an African-American president before we ever got a woman president. For a while there was a chance I would be proven wrong, but no, Hillary Clinton's intelligence and ambition were too threatening to most of the moronic public. In addition to what I think is a greater exposure to and tolerance of multicultural backgrounds, Barack Obama is hardly the stereotypical black man, so he's really not all that threatening to most Americans.

P.S. I know it's a little late for Sarah Palin bashing, but if you haven't seen this video, it's hilarious. I think if she had managed to get elected I would have lost all faith in America and started looking into moving to another country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Picture Perfect Halloween

Fall colors are so beautiful....

This was the first year Genevieve was able to carve her own pumpkin. She picked it out at the farm, drew on the face and did most of the scooping and carving herself.

I think it came out great! She dubbed it Frankenpumpkin.

We had the most perfect weather possible for Halloween this year. It was warm enough to go without coats, which always ruin everyone's costumes. This was truly amazing since it had snowed all day just two days before. In the morning I went to Genevieve's school for a Halloween party where they decorated pumpkin-shaped cookies and made lots of spooky arts & crafts. I didn't see the costume parade because I had to go to work, but it was a lot of fun to see the kids in school. Apparently they walked next door to the nursing home and visited the old folks there. Must have been nice for them, too.
Here is Wonder Woman getting ready for Trick-or-Treating (coat tossed aside). Note that this is the child-appropriate 40's version of the costume, not the over-sexed 70's version.

We went with friends in a nearby neighborhood. This year they really got it. The girls were running from one house to the next, and really enjoyed themselves. The younger siblings could not keep up, and one by one they gave up and went home. We kept losing the other parents, too, as they stopped to talk with friends. Genevieve had no patience for that!

When we got home and sorted the candy, I was amazed to see that it was all good stuff that Genevieve liked. All I was able to snitch was a packet of peanut M&Ms. That's what happens when you go to the good neighborhoods, I guess.
It was really nice to have Halloween on a Friday night, and to have John able to join us for the whole time. Overall I give the day an A+.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Doo

In honor of Doodles' 10th birthday on 10/10, Genevieve insisted that we have a party for her. We made one "cake" for Doodles out of canned cat food, treats and catnip, and another for the human guests that was more traditional... Genevieve had to help blow out the candles. I think the cat was more confused than anything, and she got away from there as quickly as possible.

Prince was also invited, although he's not in the photo. We offered him some cake crumbs, but he seemed more interested in running around sniffing at everything. Lately Genevieve has been "teaching" him tricks like a miniature gymnast. A couple of nights ago he came up with his own trick--he figured out how to escape the cage! Smart little rodent.

Also, as long as I'm in my Pictures Folder, here's one of Genevieve on the carousel at the Strong Museum a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Baby Pictures

I had my 20 week ultrasound today! Here's a profile shot of Baby Boy Wright (yeah, we need to work on the name). Isn't he cute?

Here are his little feet and hands.

And here's one of those spooky alien/skull shots from face on.

To spare him future embarrassment I won't post the picture of his "boy parts"!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Grade!

Well, my little girl is officially a first grader now.

There was a little confusion about the bus this morning. It came on the wrong side of the street. But that means she gets to wait with the girl from across the street, so that will be fun. Also, it turns out that many of her old friends are on the same bus.
Genevieve seemed very happy when I picked her up. The Y after-school program seemed good. She said "everyone is so friendly here!" I asked her what they did in school today. "So many things I can't even remember them... We had free choice time! And snack!" During "star time" she found a book with a picture of a hamster who looks "just like" Prince. Music was apparently her favorite activity. That's not surprising considering she loved it last year, and these days she goes around singing constantly. I am hopeful that it's going to be a good year!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Starting to look like a room

We're in the process of converting our laundry room into an office. Last year we removed the old ugly drop ceiling and put in a drywall ceiling. This was tough, especially because the new ceiling is not flat, there were lots of wires and cables to deal with, and there isn't a true right angle anywhere in the room, but it looks so much better now.

Then we had the whole room insulated. It had been a porch at one time, so it was never properly insulated, and we've been having the whole house redone anyway.

Sorry I don't have a true "before" picture, but here you can see the ceiling in progress. Also the old steel cabinets above the old washer and dryer.

Next we had the sink, washer and dryer moved to the other side of the room, where they can be hidden behind doors, pulled off the old pressboard walls and patched up the paneling. Turns out the paneling is quality vintage stuff, so we decided to keep it for the character.

Then we got a new, stackable washer and dryer set. Yay!
Next put up drywall and installed a new floor.
It really is starting to look like a real room, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Great New York State Fair

My parents took Genevieve to The Fair yesterday and sent these pictures.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Future Olympian

Genevieve is part monkey. She's always loved climbing, swinging and jumping and has practically no fear about anything on a playground. Years ago when John and I would walk with her, one on each hand, she figured out how to do a backflip between us. She also has the perfect gymnast's build. So when Miss Karen recommended I sign her up at the Gymnastics Training Center, it seemed like a no-brainer.

I have never seen her so happy. The classes are 90 minutes long, but afterward she's not tired, she's just pumped up and can't wait for the next one. The first day she jumped into a pit of foam blocks from about 10 feet up and thought it was hilarious. I doubt that I would have had the guts to do such a thing in my life. I showed her some of the Olympics gymnastics, and she loved it. Shawn Johnson is now her idol.

I'm generally not allowed to watch, but yesterday was the last class of the summer, which is parent observation day. She spent the entire time bouncing around. I noticed that she wasn't so great at following the instructions--she was too excited. She seemed to be unable to keep off the other equipment when she was supposed to be standing patiently in line. Her favorite is definitely the bars. Sara Jane, the owner of the school, says that's because she's "strong like a bull." Definitely. She's got incredible muscles for a kid her size. She also loves the balance beam. And a real treat is when they put them in a harness and hoist them up in the air to do flips. How could this be my kid?

I'm so glad she's found something that she enjoys so much, though. I don't see much difference between her ability and the other kids her age, but apparently Sara Jane sees potential. She wants her to train up to get on the team. We're going to take it slowly for now, but we'll see...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Someone was in our house while we were at work. We had been working on our laundry room to office renovation and had removed the interior door frame which meant that it couldn't be locked, although no one would have been able to tell from the outside. It's strange that this happened on the one day that the back door was unlocked.

The TV was moved, although the burglar apparently couldn't figure out how to get it entirely off the wall. Upstairs a small chest that looks like a jewelry box but actually contains batteries and other junk was moved, and papers were scatterred on the floor. Nothing appears to be missing, even though several items were around that could have been taken, like our camera. So for a long time we tried to figure out if it really was a break-in, or if it could all be explained some other way. Then John found a footprint on our front door, like someone tried to kick it in. All we can think is that the burglar must have gotten spooked and ran off before he found anything worth taking.

So now it looks like we're getting an alarm system. Ugh, I hate them. But it's better than feeling unsafe in your own home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Goodbye Grandma

My grandmother passed away on Wednesday. She was 97, would have been 98 next month. She went the way we all hope for...practically without pain up until the last day of her long life, in her sleep, surrounded by family. My mother was completely devoted to her and had taken good care of her up until the end. When she first started having health problems my mom was going down to Florida constantly, and a few years ago she moved her to the Jewish Home in Syracuse where she could visit her every day. Mom was always totally on top of her care and made sure she had everything possible. My uncle was also remarkably devoted and drove up from Connecticut to see her quite often. For her part, Grandma was always an easy resident for the staff--never demanding or cranky--so everyone liked her. I think she was relatively happy there, but it was always sad to see how much she had declined mentally in the past couple of years.

Per her wishes, there was no funeral (she hated both religion and ceremony), but my sister and my uncle's family all came to Syracuse for the weekend. We spent a lot of time looking at old photos and reminiscing. It was really not sad at all. In fact, it was kind of nice. Grandma was quite a character in her day, so it was fun to hear the stories.

I found out her original name was Bessie, although she changed it to Betty at some point because she thought Bessie sounded like a cow. She also changed her birthdate somehow. She had always been stubborn about not telling anyone her age ("old as the hills" was as close as she would come). This drove my mom crazy her whole life. Finally, when she was in the hospital several years ago, my mom snuck a look at her driver's license and found out she was born in 1912. So in 2002 we had a family reunion in Florida celebrating her 90th birthday.... Well, a couple of years later my mom cleaned out her apartment when she moved, and guess what? Her birth certificate said 1910!

Grandma was born in NYC but grew up on the Jersey shore. She always hated the beach, because sand got in everything. After graduating valedictorian of her high school, she moved back to New York and worked for a high fashion dressmaker. I find this hard to fathom since she could have cared less about fashion in her later life, and she hated fuss about material things. My mom says she went without a bra or slip long before it was the fashion (rather scandalous, actually). My sister recalls that she used to try on clothes right over her own clothes because she couldn't be bothered with taking them off. "Good enough," she would say. Jessica also reminded us that Grandma used to run a comb through her hair and then just cut off anything that stuck out. She definitely did things her own way.

Betty married Ralph, the love of her life, in 1938. She chose a man who was the opposite of her own father, who was apparently a dandy, a womanizer and a gambler. I wear the 2.5 carat diamond from his pinky ring (which Grandma had to buy back from the pawn shop after his death) as my engagement ring, and it always gets stares. Grandpa is a whole other story, which I won't go into now except to say that I am really sorry I never knew him well. He died when I was 5. Grandma never really got over his death, and she refused to even consider dating another man. In addition to being an all-around great guy, he stabilized Grandma. Apparently she was much more anxious all the time when he wasn't around.

She was a strong woman and a feminist before that was even a word. For a long time she was the only woman of her generation in the extended family who drove a car. She had a job as a bookkeeper when most married women were housewives. The company she worked for made greeting cards, and I remember getting cards with those goofy big-headed kids for years. She never wrote anything in them except "XOXO, Grandma" (and enclosed a big check).

Grandma lived in Yonkers when I was little (I do remember the house), but in West Palm Beach, Florida most of the time I knew her. We used to go down to visit every February. When I got old enough to travel alone (12 or so), I used to go by myself at other times. We were pretty close in those days, and I enjoyed talking to her. She used to tell me things like "When I was young, I thought everyone liked me. I was shocked when I got older to find out that some people really didn't like me. But I know now that you can't make everyone like you, so don't waste your time worrying about it." I remember her as a very independent woman who had a lot of friends and joked in Yiddish all the time. She would play tennis most days and bridge several times a week.

She also used to come up to Syracuse for a long visit every summer, and often would take care of Jessica and me while my parents went off somewhere. Grandma was a great traveler herself. Both before and after Grandpa died, she traveled a lot. I still have my collection of dolls from around the world that she brought back for me. For many years she also went to "elder hostel" programs at various colleges. She was a very intelligent woman who had never had the chance to go to college, so this was her way of getting a late education. Probably the last ones she went to were at U of Wisconsin--John and I used to go visit her in Madison since we were living in Chicago at the time.

Overall, I think Grandma was a unique person and in her own way a great lady. She had a good life. We should all be so lucky.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And now the BAD news

Princess the Hamster is no more.

Genevieve was playing with her this evening when it suddenly dropped dead. No idea what happened. No adults were in the room, but it doesn't sound like Genevieve did anything to hasten its demise. It was moving around and then it wasn't. Poor thing. She is devastated.

As soon as I can decontaminate the cage (just in case it was a virus), we promised to get a new one. So stay posted...

First the GOOD news

After an agonizing two weeks of waiting for the CVS test results...

It's official, we're having a baby! It's chromosomally normal and male!

What a relief after last time... John and I have hardly been able to believe that it would really happen. Logically we knew it was extremely unlikely to have two trisomies in a row, but emotionally it has been surprisingly difficult. Now we can finally start getting excited about it.

The due date is Feb 3rd, which is so funny because that is both John's and my mom's birthday.

I am a little scared about having a boy, though. In the beginning it's not much different, but when it comes to sports and trucks and stuff, I don't know if I can do as good a job of parenting. Oh well, I guess we'll figure it out!

Monday, July 14, 2008


I love flowers. I absolutely adore flowering trees and bushes. If I had my way, my whole yard would be full of flowers. Two things stand in my way. First, I'm not much of a gardener, and second, my yard is practically all shade (which I am learning is NOT good for most flowers). However, we do have a few really lovely perennials. One of my favorites is the profusion of orange day lillies that runs across the front of our stone wall by the street. Every year I look forward to them.
Ready for a close-up?

For the most part, I do not like flowers on my walls, though. We have some of the most hideous wallpaper in the 2nd bathroom. I can't imagine why anyone ever thought that 4" flowers in mauve, pink, blue and gold with giant green leaves would be attractive.
So yesterday I decided I couldn't stand it anymore and started ripping it off. Ahhh, that feels good. It only took me five years to get around to it! Look at the lovely blue paint they covered up with that awful stuff (yes, they even covered the medicine cabinet in their enthusiasm)!

Genevieve is mad at me, though. She doesn't like change, and assumes that anything with flowers on it must be pretty. I need to work on her sense of style.

Monday, July 7, 2008

2nd sleepover

On Saturday Genevieve had a playdate with another friend, Rachel. They had a good time at our house, and then went back to Rachel's house to jump in the bounce house. They were having so much fun they asked if Rachel could sleep over sometime. Sure. How about tonight? Um, OK, I don't see why not. They were so excited! Rachel grabbed a bag of stuff to bring to our house while her twin sister Danielle screamed and wailed that it wasn't fair. I felt bad about that, but Genevieve and Danielle don't get along as well, and when both twins are around it just causes competition and jealousy.

So they came back and continued the day's work of completely trashing my house. But it was so nice to have Genevieve occupied with someone else so that I didn't get demands for my attention every five minutes. We decided that this time they would sleep in the foldout couch downstairs. Everything was great up until the moment they got into bed. Then all of a sudden Rachel started repeating "I want my mom" in a really small voice. So her mom came and got her (with Danielle, who kept offering to stay instead).

Poor Genevieve was so disappointed; she cried and cried. It was not surprising to me that it didn't work out. I can remember several aborted sleepovers when I was little, and so can John. But Genevieve didn't get it. We'll see what happens the first time she gets invited to someone else's house!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Aunt Jessica

Last week my sister and her girlfriend, Kara, came to visit. My parents gave her their old car, so they are now driving back to San Diego. We only get to see her about once or twice a year, so it was nice she could be here. Genevieve was thrilled to have someone new to show off her hamster to.

Genevieve told Jessica that it was too bad she was unlucky and had never found a man. Fortunately Jessica thought it was funny.