Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things That Make You Think

In the past week I've read two things that stopped me in my tracks about in vitro fertilization (IVF). As you probably know, this is the we got Reagan and Nolan.

The first thing I saw was: World's first IVF baby marks 30th birthday

I knew IVF was a new procedure in the medical world, but to see it in print really made me think about it. This technique was developed in my lifetime. Anyone having trouble conceiving before 1978 did not have the option that allowed us to be blessed with Reagan and Nolan and our 2 totsicles (frozen embryos.) I'm sure in another 30 years there will be some new breakthrough that wasn't available to me that will make IVF seem barbaric. So, thank you to Drs. Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe for developing the procedure that allowed my children to be.

Secondly, I was reading about the Jolie-Pitt twins, you know, looking for contact info so I can arrange a play date and we can discuss the ins and outs of raising boy/girl twins. I found this to be very intersting, " The chance of having fraternal twins at Angelina’s age (33) naturally is under 1 percent; with in vitro, the chances are 25 percent. Says Dr. Arthur Wisot of L.A.’s Reproductive Medical Group." I'm not sure how they came up with that percentage. Anyone familiar with IVF knows that it is a crapshoot. I mean you can transfer 1 embryo or 3 or 4 depending on your doctors recommendation. Even after that, the embryo can split and you could have multiples that way. But anyone that is doing IVF is well aware and (most) are welcoming to the fact that you could have multiples. Many of us only had 1 shot at making this work so it really can be time to put all your eggs in one basket (pun intended.) Also, I have male twin cousins that were born when their mom was close to 40. They are a year older than me, so they fall in that "less than 1%" catergory. Amazing!

At any rate, we did well with the odds given.

Finally, a friend forwarded me this quote by Albert Einstein "Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What would Laura Roslin do?

(posted by Bill)

Many folks know that I am a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica. While I don’t fancy myself as a true scifi geek, I find my favorite show extremely compelling (I was also a fan of the disco-era influenced original, starring Lorne Greene). For those who haven’t watched the dark, re-imagined new series, it uses human drama as the key, and technology takes a backseat to the story. For the uninitiated, “The Twelve Colonies of Kobol” are all but wiped out in a sneak nuclear attack by the "Cylons". Secretary of Education Laura Roslin, on her way back from a decommissioning ceremony aboard the “old-school” Galactica (think USS Missouri), finds out that she is the ranking official left in line (#43 in the succession order) for the presidency. She then rounds up survivors into a fleet protected by the Galactica, and tries to head for the lost 13th colony: Earth.

(Hopefully, BSG sounds intriguing enough for you to watch the critically-acclaimed series from the beginning-even Shel is a huge fan, and we have the whole series on DVD).

Where is this going? Patience, please. Last year, we moved into this great little neighborhood on the lake. We can look out our front window, and see the lakefront.

We belong to the homeowner’s association, and our nominal yearly dues pay for common area upkeep, a picnic area and waterfront access. This is the only road within 10 miles where you can drive along the water’s edge.

Anyway, despite being sucked into a home renovation vortex that consumed almost nine months of my life, we’ve met some of our neighbors, who are very nice. Some folks stopped in on move-in day to welcome us, and invite us to the fall clambake. While in the middle of construction, the association president (an Eastlake cop. Boy, that grabs your attention when you see a patrol car pull in the driveway) stopped by to welcome us. So in May, when we got notice of the association’s annual meeting, I made sure to be a good neighbor and attend.

I found out a couple of things. Voter apathy is prevalent in the most basic of governing bodies. Out of 33 households on the street, just 11 attended. Also, as Lakeshore Blvd. bisects our little oval street into two "horsehoes", I found that there is a touch of North/South angst that has a bunch of history behind it, and some of the voting rules for trustee representation are affected by this. When a few long-time residents questioned some of the changes being voted on, there was a suggestion to go door-to-door to get a Yes/No/Abstain. I persuaded those folks to consider that the meeting was advertised well in advance, and that folks had an opportunity to vote in absentia as well. While I was careful to advise them of my legal background (none whatsoever), I gave my opinion that the voting semantics allowed a simple majority of those present at the meeting, not a majority of the street’s households. We eventually decided to vote and move on, in an effort to avoid such paralysis.

Fast forward a few weeks. A notice in our mailbox congratulated all the new association trustees, of which one of those listed happened to be me. That’s what I get for opening my mouth. Oh well, I‘m happy to help, and find out what happens in our little community.

I was actually looking forward to attending the first meeting last night. Once in the meeting was in session, we discussed the office of President. The rules dictate that the person receiving highest number of votes for the seven trustees makes that person the Chief Executive. After announcing the person with the highest votes, she declined to accept. Additionally, our runner-up said “no way” as well.

Gee, who do you think came in third?

I strolled into the house humming “Hail to the Chief”, to which Shel (hereafter known as “The First Lady”), asked, “What did you do?” She figured that I couldn't keep my mouth shut, and got into even more trouble. I figure that I couldn't have met more than a dozen of our neighbors, so it’s puzzling as to how I garnered the votes as an unknown person (unless it’s normal for them to say, “let’s drop this in the lap of the FNG**”).

I will wear the mantle of office with pride, and faithfully execute my duties to the best of my abilities. From what I gather, I’m sure that I will be able to keep track of requests for borrowing the association picnic tables, which seems to be one of my most important things for me to do. Otherwise, I plan on operating under the most Libertarian principles, (“That government is best which governs least”, alternatively known as "do no harm"). I may put up a Pinehurst website, with a schedule of events, contacts, and meeting minutes, to help bring us into the 21st Century, but that's about it.

However, there may be even more to the job than I currently know. I understand that Mike, our outgoing Prez will be dropping by with “The Book of Presidents”. I assume that is where the launch codes are kept.

Interestingly, Pat Franks’ Alas Babylon dealt with this same topic. A nuclear war takes place in the late 50’s, and the rules of presidential succession leave the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare as the acting president. In the scheme of things, I guess you could interpret that the surviving United States was about as relevant as Paraguay.

Or a homeowner’s association.

* the " new guy"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Whole Lotta Foo(d)

My birthday weekend started with a bang on Friday night.

My mom and her friends, Connie & Mary, came over to watch the kids so Bill and I could have a night out. I was so excited to be getting out with Bill since it has been a long time since he and I have had a "date night." We also got to hang with Greg & Kathy before the Foo Fighters concert and that is always fun.

We started the night at Bar Cento where we never fail to have a great time. We grazed on spring onion pizza, olives, and frites so when it came time to order "dinner" I was pretty full. Since there were no kids around to make a good impression on, I decided to have dessert for dinner. I finally got to try Jeni's ice cream. It did not disappoint. I am all about salt in dessert and the salty caramel ice cream was fabulous.

After dinner we headed over to the Q for the Foo Fighters show. You all know that Dave Grohl is on my list. You know what I mean ;-) Let's just say the spring onion pizza wasn't the only yummy thing Friday night.

He is so HOT. In that dirty rocker kind of way. Mmm...... He also writes some of the best lyrics. Lyrics that stick with me. Hands down Dave is the best screamer in the business. During the concert I told Bill I was going to make his scream my ring tone and Bill could call me over and over and over.

(not the best pics, but hey, it works for me!)

The concert was long, almost 2.5 hours. They could have cut out some of the banter and tightened it up (according to Bill), but frankly, it gave me more time to ogle the man. What was also awesome was that they did an acoustic set on a different stage. That one was right in front of us. Very cool to give everyone in the arena a good view.

Dave is from Warren, OH and his Dad was in the crowd. How cool is that?! I was picturing Nolan up there and imaging how proud I'd be. I had goose bumps, I just can't imagine how his Dad felt.

The Foo have a special place in mine and Bill's life, they are kind of "our" band. One of their songs, Miracle, got me through Nolan's cranio surgery. I wouldn't have wanted to start my birthday weekend any other way. Well, maybe having Dave join us for dinner would have been a plus, but afterall I got to go home with this, so what more could a girl want ;-) (Just kidding, you know I love you, sweetie.)

The fun continued on Saturday. The pchaks4 headed to the Coit Rd. Farmers Market. I needed to get some blueberries to freeze for Reagan and Bill needed to talk to Kevin the Spicehound about a BBQ cookoff he is organizing. Looks like Bill is going to be a judge for it so if you want to participate let us know!

In the afternoon, Deb picked me up and we went to Lakehouse Winery and Grand River Cellars with her friends, Linda & Beth and my friend Mary. We sat outside at Lakehouse and it was windy enough to make some large waves. The sound of the surf was wonderful. The wine was pretty good too. The food at GRC was tasty..... how could anything that is named Porky Pizza be bad! Mary and I parted ways with Deb, Linda, and Beth and we went to see our friend, Brian's, band. Mary and I never to fail to have a good time. I made her laugh so hard water came out her nose. Good times.

Sunday was the actual birthday so the feasting continued. We hit our usual spot for breakfast and then went to the spray park. Nolan had a blast, but Reagan seems to have developed a fear of the spray park. We'll keep trying. She did splash and dance in the puddles. She took a hard fall on the pavement when we left breakfast so maybe she wasn't feeling all that hot either. She has a large knot on her forehead. The sound of her little noggin hitting the pavement was enough to bring me to tears.

We still had dinner left to enjoy at Lolita with my mom, Fred, & Linda. We ate, and ate, and ate. Ricotta dip, pulled pork pizza, prosciutto pizza.....just for apps. I was so full that for dinner I did three sides, green beans, zucchini fritters, and polenta. I was just too full to have a "meal." Of course it didn't end there. Chaty made sure my birthday had a sweet ending. A lovely pot du creme (with more salty goodness!) with a candle. I squeezed into the back of the van and we took a nice route home along Lakeshore Blvd. to relax after dinner.

I have to say, this was one of my most enjoyable birthday I can remember in recent years (of course, there are a couple in there I can't remember so those don't count!) I got to see the hotness of Dave Grohl, eat a ton of food, have family time and alone time, drink some good drinks, but most importantly the weekend was spent with people that mean so much to me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shake, Shake, Shake

Reagan finally got to shake, shake, shake her booty to Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean on Wednesday night. They played WOW- Wade Oval Wednesdays- an outdoor festival with food, drink, and entertainment.

For those that don't know, we met Abby Normal years ago at a wedding reception. They were the band and Bill was the DJ. The theme of the reception was a luau (the couple had gotten married in Hawaii) and since we were there early to set up, the bride asked us (me and some of the guys from AN) to take the price tags off the 500+ leis she bought for her guests. That is where the 6 degrees of AN began. Over the years I've come to discover that I used to twirl baton with Tom's (slide trombone) wife, and I worked with Jim's (guitar) (ex) brother-in-law. Then there was a little matchmaking when Dean (lead vocals) asked for my bestest friend, Kathy's, digits. In 2003, they played their biggest gig ever, our wedding!!! HA HA We've made lots of good friends because of AN.

Anyway, back to Wednesday......

The downpour earlier in the day kept a lot of the crowd away, but it was still a fun event. I'd like to get back for another Wednesday before the end of summer. Each week an area restaurant is supposed to show up and cook. Last night it was supposed to be Serigio's, but they were nowhere to be found. Instead Rascal House Pizza and The Euc were there slinging burgers, dogs, sausage patties, and pizza.

Nolan had a great time wandering around the oval. Reagan got down early with Aunty Kathy and then had fun exploring alongside her brother.

It was good to catch up with our AN friends. We don't see them nearly enough anymore and this was the only outside summer gig that we could take the kids to, so I'm glad we didn't let the weather hold us back.

Never Buy A Car For It's Color

One of the (many) nuggets I gleamed from my short time on earth with my Dad was to never buy a car for it's color. I did it not once, but twice. Guess I'm a little stubborn.

In 2003, Bill and I walked into a Land Rover dealership and it was love at first sight. It was the ultimate tailgate vehicle for a Browns fan. I had to have it and my CR-V didn't quit make a full recovery from the little run-in we had with the fire hydrant so I was ready for a change.

O.J., as the Land Rover became known as, was hands down the noisiest car I have ever been in. It was a stiff, rough ride. To be honest, I hated it. EXCEPT for Sunday home games Sept-Dec.

Then I loved it.

Hell, everyone loved it.

It was THE party car.

We had everything all ready to go. We'd pull into our usual spot and within 3 minutes the Tiki Bar sign was hung and we were popping champagne. (Yes, we start every tailgate with bubbles.) I can't tell you how many people would stop and ask if I had it painted "browns orange" just for football.

I know our parking lot buddies are going to laugh when we roll up in a mini-van this year, but the joke is on them. We've got tailgate seating in Ole' Blue.

(stock photo- our set up is WAAAAYYY better than this.)

Once the BOGO babies came along, it was clear that O.J. needed to switch from a party car to a family car and it just wasn't big enough. We have been casually trying to sell it for about a year, but it came in handy with the move and construction at the house so we didn't push it. Now that we are in this economic downward spiral it was time to get moving and actively list the car. A kid in Michigan saw it on Auto Trader and fell in love......with the color! He used to race motorcycles until a shoulder surgery sidelined him at the ripe age of 25 last year. His bike was orange.

So, I bid farewell to the last vestige of my pre-baby days today. The door to that party era was pretty much closed, but now it is locked and the key is in Michigan.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Toddlin' Towards Nature: Get Wet, You Bet!

Aunt Deb and I took Reagan and Nolan to another program at the Metroparks on Monday. The theme is in the title of this post. Anything involving water is fun for the kids and this was no exception.

The program started by talking about animals that live in and around streams and creeks.

All Nolan had to see these frog puppets and that was it. He LOVES puppets.
He walked right up, removed it from Ms. Pat's hand, and gave it a big kiss.

Next the real turtle and salamander made the rounds. Reagan had to be reminded that he might indeed bite so she better watch that finger! Nolan was too busy with his puppet to care about the turtle.

Craft time! "Painting" some fish. Neither of the kids were interested in this. Just out of their scope of things they can/want to do right now.

We moved outside to match up colored fish into the proper bin. Again, a little out of the scope for Reagan and Nolan. However, they did have fun taking all the fish out of the bins and putting them back in. This skill is right on track for them.

Short hike to the stream. Love all the little walkers.

He got away from me and was off and running.

Ah, WATER!!! Reagan sat down in it and Nolan found the deepest possible spot- well over his knees--didn't get a picture of that because I was too busy fishing him out of it. Good thing Mommy was prepared with new clothes and towels.

Back at the school house we played with some plastic fish and moved them from "pond" to "pond." Reagan hooked up with another little boy that loved splashing and they had a blast. Nolan walked around with a fish sticking out of his mouth most of the time. When someone laughed at him, he gave his best Spanky laugh and ran away. My boy, the joker.

Snack and story. Reagan listened to the whole story. She loved it.

Nolan sat for a bit and ate a few cookies, but then had to be on the move.

Seeing the differences between boys and girls first hand is amazing. I hope in the future I can do some one on one activities with the kids. Maybe a weekend where Daddy can take one to do something and I can take the other. They need individual attention as well and they don't get enough of that. I think it would help nurture their strengths and teach them that it is OK to not have the other right by their side all the time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Happenings

Friday we went to the West Side Market and stopped for lunch at Great Lakes Brewery. While they still excel at making beer, the food and service sucked. The hostess was the rudest person I have come across in a while and our server, while nice, was ineffective. I literally had to stand up and wave at her to get her attention. I don't like to do that, but desperate times, you know. The way I figure, they have become kind of like the Hard Rock. Everyone comes for the shtick and will tolerate mediocore food and service to get to eat at the brewery. Forget trying to go there if you are looking for otherwise.

At least there were cloth napkins. Those occupy Reagan and Nolan for hours several minutes and allowed for a good photo op!

Her eyes look violet.....and that hair! Who would have thought Bill and I would have a child with hair this color.

Friday night Uncle John, Nonny & Grandpa Fred came over for dinner. As usual, the kids had a blast with John. They were fast asleep by the time Nonny & Grandpa got there. Must have been all that running around with Uncle John.

Saturday we headed to the Geauga Farmers Market and then later in the day the kids and I headed to Grammy's to have dinner on her patio. Daddy had a much deserved night out. He "worked" at a Zin tasting and then hit Bar Cento for a nightcap.

Reagan and Nolan enjoy playing with things that aren't toys on Grammy's patio (see Nolan having a blast in the background, that is actually an end table turned on its side-minus the glass top) and in the tighest spots (under the table.)

By the way, the pickles are tasting awesome! I've decided it is cheaper to buy pickles in the store, but I like knowing what is in them so I just might go ahead and invest in some canning supplies.

Holy hell, I've turned into my Granny Pike. She sewed, she gardened, she cooked, and she canned. She was an all around awesome lady and I'd give anything to have another day with her and for her to meet Reagan and Nolan. Not a bad thing to be that is for sure!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

We started out towards the medieval faire today and it was coming down in buckets. Since the faire is in the woods and mostly gravel covered trails and dirt we knew it would be a mess. We turned around and came back home. I was very bummed. I spent the better part of 5 nights working on the celtic themed costumes for the kids since this was Celtic Weekend. There are three more weekends left so I think we can find another time to go, although next weeks theme is Pirate Invasion and it is always so packed. I do plan to spend my birthday with The Captain, just not the ones at the faire.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's Nine O'Clock On A Saturday

and no, I'm not making love to a tonic and gin..... I'm making pickles!!! (Come on, admit it, after you read the title you sang the next line, didn't you?)

Oh my domestic gods, what has happened to me?!?!?! I've spent the last 3 days sewing TWO celtic costumes for the medieval faire for TOMORROW and now I'm making homemade pickles.

We went to the Geauga Farmers Market this morning and I saw some cukes that looked ripe for the pickling, so I snatched them up. We also got some awesome garlic from Herbthyme and I happened to have pickling spice on hand since I won a whole basket of spices from Spicehound several months back. Voila. Pickles.

Things got really crazy when I decided to deviate from chips and do some spears too!

bubble, bubble

I'll let you know how they are in about a week. I've got a costume to finish.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Because I Have So Much Free Time.....

I decided to make the kids their costumes for the medieval faire this year.

Here is Nolan's. I whipped it up last night by hand. My first attempt at a shirt and it will serve the purpose just fine! I did kilts for them last year so this one is a little better. Instead of velcro, it actually has snaps and eye hooks ;-)

Haven't started on Reagan's yet, but it will be a white dress with this plaid as a sash and maybe a hair band. She probably won't leave it in, so if I don't get to it I won't be too upset.

Mommy Night Out

Thanks to Nonny Linda and Grandpa Fred, I got to have a Mommy Night Out this past Monday. I attended the fundraiser for Terra Madre at Bar Cento. Three of my very favorite chefs and bakers--Matt Harlan/Lolita, Jonathon Sawyer/Bar Cento, and Adam & Jennifer Gidlow/On The Rise-- are delegates from Cleveland this year, so I was happy to be able to attend. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, so I'll direct you to Nancy's blog for all the details of the food. It was amazing! If you are interested, you can purchase a raffle ticket to help support the delegates going to Italy this year. There are only 200 tickets and the prizes are amazing. Grand Prize: SLOW FOOD TRIP TO ITALY Includes RT airfare for 2 from Cleveland to Turin, Italy, 3 night’s accommodations (3-star), and admission to Slow Food's Salone del Gusto, Oct. 24-27, Value $5,000.00. 2nd Prize COOKING CLASS FOR TEN With Iron Chef, Michael Symon Many exciting others...... Terra Madre Raffle tickets are on sale now through August 11 and cost $125 each. The drawing to be held at Taste of Terra Madre celebration hosted by Lolita on August 11. You do not need to be present to win. Your support of the Terra Madre Raffle will make it possible for Northern Ohio farmers, chefs, bakers and educators to experience Terra Madre 2008.For additional information and to purchase raffle tickets please contact Slow Food leader, Linda Griffith: tel: 216.378.9307 or email:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

My mom came home yesterday. She is very happy to be there and is doing well. She has in-home therapy several times a week. That could last for up to 6 weeks, if needed, but they anticipate maybe 2-3 weeks and then back to work a couple of weeks after that ends. I have no doubt she will make the goal we set a few weeks ago. We took the kids to the park the day before her surgery and she was having a tough time standing and trying to help me with them on the slide and swings (they don't get the slide just yet, they still want to climb UP it.) She was sad and I told her that we needed to set a goal. In one month we would come back to the park and have a picnic and play. The kids and I went over this afternoon to take some dinner and her friend, Mary, was over loading her up with goodies from Alesci's. Lots of meal size portions of Italian goodness. Heck, it looked so good I might go over there for dinner and forget the sloppy joe's I made! Every once in a while you need a good sloppy joe though. Thanks again to my friends that visited her in rehab and sent cards or flowers. It meant a lot to her, but also to me. There were a couple of rough days in there and you helped us make them brighter.

"Fine Examples of The Human Species"

The kids and I went to the spray park at the lasat minute this morning. Lori, I tried to call you, but there was no answer! I felt like a member of a pit crew trying to get the kids ready to go in the parking lot of the spray park. If you are not familiar with swim diapers, let me explain. They are not "normal" diapers in that they do not hold urine. They are designed simply to keep the other bodily function out of the pool. So, to get a child that is not yet potty trained into the water without having a pee-pee accident you have to work fast and you certainly don't want to put them on before you leave the house. We had the place to ourselves for about 5 minutes and then another little boy showed up. Nolan was having a blast running around with him in the water. Reagan wanted to stick close by me today and didn't seem to want to get completely wet. That was fine. We had fun dancing and practicing her ball-kicking skills while Nolan got drenched. I saw a person (wasn't sure if it was a man or woman from afar....body of a man, but very coiffed feminine hair) walking a dog toward us. Of course, as soon as Reagan spotted the dog, she ran to the fence and was pointing and saying "dog". So the guy (upon further inspection, it was a man) walks the dog to the fence. Nolan sees this and comes over. My mommy radar was working in overdrive because I just got a weird vibe about him. He looked the kids over and said to me "Wow, those are really fine examples of the human species." OK. Is that a compliment from a well-spoken man or is that some bizarre code for a serial killer? The scene from Silence of The Lambs flashed in my mine...... "It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told." You know the one I'm talking about. Since Reagan didn't want to play in the water, I put her in the stroller so I could keep a better eye on this guy while Nolan continued to play. I can multiple task well, but I do not have a third eye....yet. As I was (alone) in the parking lot changing the kids to go home, I was actually a little nervous. What is this guy came out of nowhere with a stun gun or something. I know my mind wanders and I am a bit overprotective, but with these fine examples of the human species for children, how can I not be.

Monday, July 14, 2008


We headed to the Farm Park on Saturday morning for Breakfast With Old MacDonald. Ironically, as we were checking in, Old Mac was standing at the desk and when he heard our last name, he asked if we were related to Larry. Yep. Sure. That is Bill's cousin. Turns old Old Mac and Larry used to play together as kids (Bill adds: "you'd think that, for the money, we'd have breakfast with New MacDonald").

Old MacDonald AKA Bill Keener

We had breakfast in the cafe while Old MacDonald played his guitar and we did sing-a-longs. After breakfast, we loaded onto the wagon and took a tour of the farm park.

We explored a little on our own after the program was over. These kids got close to our kids. I call the one on the left "goatweiller". I've never seen a goat with markings so similar to a rot.

One tried to eat the bow off of Reagan's pants. She told him NO.

Nolan also gave his best cock-a-doodle-do when we walked by the hen house. He also enjoyed the sheep.

Sunday morning, we hit our usual spot for breakfast and then Reagan and I went to visit Grammy. She missed yesterdays visit after the farmpark since she was snoozing in the car with Daddy. She wore her new backpack (thanks to the Target $1 aisle!) and then proceeded to pull out her toys one by one and name them. Bee, ball, car. Everyone was very impressed.

Bill has figured out some of Nolan-speak. "What's that?" He says it all the time. He will walk up and hold up an object and say "wasat?" He must just be testing us to see if we know! LOL.
This is Nolan's newest favorite, red currants.