Monday, April 28, 2008

The Best Babysitter

Erik and I went out to eat tonight and left Cooper with the best babysitter in the world. She is one of my ex-tutoring students and not only is Cooper so happy with her and I feel 150% comfortable leaving when she is with him, but she tidies up our house so nicely it makes me smile so big! How I wish she wasn't a Senior and off to college at the end of the summer.

Here is what used to be a messy pile of stuffed animals in the family room:

And Cooper shoes...I didn't know they could be lined up so neatly!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Great Time Saver

I recently subscribed to a very helpful online meal planning site called Relish!. For a small fee, similar to a magazine subscription, I choose 5 meals from their list of 15 for the week and they put together the recipes and grocery shopping list. It saves me the time it took every Sunday to plan our meals for the week and has added some nice variety to our meals. While the recipes occasionally need some minor tweaking (such as the time of cooking meat) and the grocery list needs to be scrutinized (the first week I bought a bunch of fresh parsley, because it was on the shopping list, only to realize that it was only used to garnish the plate....would definitely have skipped that!) Relish! is a nice addition to my weekly meal planning routine. The website also has some additional features of soups, desserts, and freezer meals, which I haven't tried yet, but will at some point. I definitely recommend Relish! to all busy moms.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sunshine Nap

Just about every time Cooper wakes up he insists on taking everything out of his crib...the many stuffed animals and blankets. For whatever reason, when he woke up from his nap the other day, he wanted to bring everything outside. We set up what I think was a beautiful napping bed in the back yard. Cooper seemed to think it looked good too, and cuddled right in for a few minutes. What a sun-shiny blissful moment.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I admit that I'm a little late on this post, that it would have been much more poignant if posted on April 15. At least our taxes were in on time! But I just stumbled upon this on another blog, and seeing these statistics always pisses me off so much that I decided to piss you all off too. Wouldn't it be nice if we could vote on how our money gets spent? I think I would take some money from the defense budget and throw a little something on the public gardens fund. Couldn't we all use a few more flowers? Seriously though, what would our country look like if the money was spent slightly differently? A little less on defense, a little more for education? Reminds me of the bumper sticker on my car in college..."it will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber".

So here are the stats:

For every $100 in income tax:
* $32 goes to national defense
* $19 goes to interest on the national debt
* $15 goes to supplemental programs such as TANF, child tax credits, and
farm subsidies
* $14 goes to health
* $6 goes to education, employment, and social services
* $4 goes to transportation
* $2 goes to administration of justice
* $2 goes to environment and natural resources
* $2 goes to international affairs
* $1 goes to community and regional development
* $1 goes to agriculture
* $1 goes to science, space, and technology
* $1 goes to the commerce and housing fund

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pittsburgh vs. Detroit

The Detroit and Pittsburgh skylines hint at the difference between these two cities I have called home.

Since moving to Pittsburgh 3 1/2 years ago I have felt that it is a very similar place to my home of Detroit, Michigan. I site the failed/failing industrial roots and friendly down-to-earth people as reasons behind my comparison. The biggest difference between Detroit and Pittsburgh is the vibrancy of the cities. Pittsburgh has it; Detroit's is, well, bleak to say the least. Which may be why many Pittsburghers look unimpressed when I tell them I feel like Pittsburgh is similar to Detroit.

For more on one Detroit Freepress writer's feelings and observations on the similarities between Detroit and Pittsburgh, read here. Apparently, she thinks Detroit could learn something from Pittsburgh. One obvious place to start is with Detroit's current leadership, but that is an even bleaker topic than economics. I hope that Detroit can learn from other cities like Pittsburgh. The decline of the city that was at one time the economic center of the world is simply heartbreaking.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Long Week

Erik is in San Francisco this week. He left on Sunday and returns early Saturday morning. This is the longest trip he's taken, and it sure does feel long. Not only being a single mother, but also an extra busy week with work--big meeting with lots of paper work yesterday and a crisis with one of my families that had me on the phone with the mother until almost 11:00pm. Today, my busiest day, had me working until 6:00pm, picking up Cooper, grabbing a quick meal via the Wendy's drive-thru, settling Coop into his meal and Go Diego Go, all before tutoring at 6:30. Now, my day is finally wrapping up and while I'm tired, I feel ready for another full day tomorrow. I have to admit that as I drove into the driveway tonight I found myself saying "Okay, can you please come home now?" It is empowering to know that I can do it all, if even for short periods of time. It is also comforting to know how much I miss Erik and how something is missing from every day that he is thousands of miles away.

The huge positives from the week:

  • A new sandbox for Cooper and amazing weather for playing outside.
  • I attended the first in a six week Introduction to Zen course.
  • My geometry tutoring students really seemed to understand their work this week.
  • Endless smiles from children who work so hard to learn how to fit into our world.

What a long week, what an wonderful week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Major Shout Out

I want to publicly thank Sarah Jessica Parker for what I really feel is a personal gift from her to me. Yes, that may be overstating it a bit, but she has given me a gift nonetheless.

A few weeks ago I finally went out and bought myself some new clothes, something I've needed for quite a while. I decided to check out SJP's new line of clothes, Bitten, at Steve and Barry's, which I saw her promote on Oprah and Project Runway. I, being very frugal, was struck by the fact that nothing in her line costs more than $20. There is also something incredibly trustworthy about Sarah J., as well as the fact that she embodies confident style, that made the line very appealing to me. Well, I was so excited by what I saw I left the store with 12 new shirts, one pair of jeans, two spring/fall jackets, and two pairs of sunglasses, all for less than $180! Yes, amazing. And the clothes are so awesome. I really feel like I've got a little bit of style and can feel myself walking with my head raised a bit higher.

So, thank you Sarah Jessica. You have really made a huge difference for one working mom in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring is Here

I really feel it today. Cooper and I have been playing outside every day for the past few, and I feel like a new person. Some windows are open, the heat is off. Aaaah, the joys of Spring.

My boy is growing and changing so much. It always seems to hit me in great bounding leaps, like he wakes up one morning and is a different boy with a new skill or a new way of perceiving his world. This week he is exerting his independence and those of you with toddlers can probably get a hint of what that means. I actually put little Coop in his first "time out" today, something I didn't think I would ever do a couple days ago. (While the infraction was minor, purposefully dumping his baggy of goldfish on the floor, the "bigger picture" is the fact that he listens to what I ask him to do, thinks about it, gives me a look like "yeah right I'm going to do that. Whatever, mom." and then walks away to do something else.)

On Sunday afternoon I got a special treat. Cooper has a tendency to be what I call a bad waker upper, which for him means he is often out of sorts when he gets up. Sunday was one of those bad waking days following his nap, so I cuddled him on the couch. My baby boy, my growing little man, fell back to sleep right there on my chest. I relished in smelling his sweet breath, in feeling his warmth, his small sleeping twitches. I savored every moment, because I know that these moments are so fleeting. It could very well be that Cooper will only fall asleep in my arms a few more times. Yes, I will lift his sleeping body many more times, but to fall asleep in my arms. What a treat.

The growing boy.