Saturday, April 30, 2005


...Is the first night since Muffin Man arrived that he's spent the night away from both Mr. Spock and me. He's at Mr. Spock's sister's house for the night because we went to a fancy shindig and expected to be out quite late. As it happened, we got back at about an hour ago...

I just went into his room and breathed in. How strange that he's not here.

You guys should have seen me earlier, though. I looked mahvelous. Mr. Spock was tres debonair.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Muffin Man Matures?

I planned to post about the amazing strides Muffin Man took this week in becoming a big boy but...well, I'll let you decide for yourself.

On Tuesday he was having some trouble listening. I had to threaten him with (GASP!) no chips. You'd think by now he'd know Mommy means what she says, but no. So, no chips. "I want chips!" Meltdown central. Face Down. On the floor. Did I care? Did I waver? I did not? Did Mr. Spock? Not on your tin-type. We were strong.

After about 5 minutes, he calmed down and started playing. Mr. Spock went on making dinner, I set the table. Suddenly, I was hugged around the legs. Looked down into the big brown eyes of my son. "Mommy, I'm listening. Don't make me sad anymore". Awwwww."Can I have chips?"

Manipulative little tyke, isn't he?

"Maybe after dinner if you LISTEN."

I've been worked, haven't I?

Wednesday was a whole different day. MM woke up full of sunshine. Mr. Spock picked him up from daycare at lunchtime to go to the mall for haircuts and kabobs. Now, every time he's has been to Cartoon Cuts, MM has cried and insisted on sitting on one of our laps during the whole procedure. As soon as the Wiggles are on the tv, he calms down and allows Mr. Tran to cut his hair, but up until then it's like pulling teeth.

Not this time. This time, according to Mr. Spock, Muffin Man boldly strode through the mall. Got right into the barber's chair and acted like the whole thing was no big deal. By the time Mr. Spock's own hair was cut, MM was happily holding on to a lollipop and asking for lunch.

MM did a good job of listening all day and MS and I were very smugly deciding that, no, we hadn't been worked the day before. On the contrary, we had done the working and a good job we'd done of it.

Fast forward to tonight. Nuclear meltdown. Bedtime. "I don't want to go to bed! I want my pizza!" (he'd refused to eat it. Honestly.) Face down. On the floor. Shrieking. Eventually, of course, he calmed down. And I told him Goodnight Moon and the Going to Bed Book and a list of people who love him and patted his back. "I love you, Muffin Man." "I love you, too."


But now I'm pretty sure it was him working us on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Henceforth to be Called "Spock"

My husband, formerly known as "My Husband" is henceforth in this blog to be known as "Mr. Spock". It was his choice. He wanted that or "Professor Fate". I told him that he only gets to be known as "Professor Fate" if he starts teaching at a University. He's looking into it.

Mr. Spock is presently tucking Muffin Man into bed. We take turns. No matter who does the tucking, however, it's always the same routine:

1. Non-tucking-in parent gives him a sippy cup of milk (he doesn't always want it, but it avoids a delaying tactic) and hugs and kisses. Leaves, closing door.
2. Music on. (usually a classical CD, occasionally traditional lullabys)
3. Clothes and pull-up off (he can do this by himself! but he doesn't always.)
4. Diaper on. (It's easier to put on if he's lying down.)
5. PJ's on. (Again, he can do this himself!)
6. Brush teeth.
7. Read story. Tonight, my bet was on Yertle the Turtle, since it arrived in an Amazon shipment yesterday, but Mr. Spock says it was One Fish, Two Fish.
8. Lights out.
9. Good Night Moon and The Going to Bed Book (both from memory) and a list of people who love him.
10. In bed, pat his back for a couple of minutes.
11. Kiss.
12. Blow kisses from door.

The whole routine takes about a half-hour. We try to stick to it even when we're travelling. Maybe especially when we're travelling. Muffin Man is much less likely to have new place jitters if everything else is the same.

I love doing the tucking-in, but I also love these nights when I have this half-hour to myself. Tonight, I'm sharing it with you.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I'm it!

Corndog just tagged me with the Caesar's Bath Meme (Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), "Nice. Nice. Not thrilling . . . but nice."), so here goes...

1. Seinfeld/Friends: I never found either funny and they both have something in common which is like FINGERNAILS ON THE BLACKBOARD to me. They both take place in NYC. New York City! And nobody, NOBODY, in either of those shows ever locks their door. Whatshisface, the goofy neighbor on Seinfeld slams open the door and walks right in. The friends on Friends are always in and out. Even in the female apartment. It's Manhatten for goodness sake! Lock your damn door!

2. Gone with the Wind: I can't even complain about it. It's just so....nothing. Yeah, yeah, beautiful scenery yadda, yadda, yadda...but what a waste of what, three hours?

3. Star Wars Episodes 1 & 2: I work in a geeky world. My co-workers love these films. They go to the midnight first showing. They go 15 times. Did they not see Jar-Jar Binks? Did they not see the bad acting, the lousy script, the so-so special effects? Did they not see what Lucas then did to his first three films?!? He ruined them! He trashed them! And we can't get the real originals on DVD, 'cause he won't release them without the horrible additions!

4. The Honda Insight: Get in one. Have 5 friends stand right where a car might be just behind you on your left. Set the mirrors. Look over your left shoulder. Do you see your friends? No. You don't. There's a blind spot about the size of a hulking Ford Excursion. I know, I know, environmentally friendly, great gas mileage...I'd rather be able to see, thank you very much.

5. The H2: I've seen 'em parked on the streets of Brooklyn. This makes no sense. It gets about four miles to the gallon, doesn't turn very well and, if what I've seen on the beltway is any indication, it has a blind spot about the size of an 18 wheeler on the driver's side. Yet the parking lot at work is full of 'em.

I'm gonna hand this one on to Jo(e) if she's not already tagged, Preludes & Nocturnes (if you have time, sweetie!) and one more that I'll reveal in my next post.

UPDATED: Muffin Man interrupted me to play Thomas the Tank Engine: Trouble on the Tracks on my laptop. So here's my third taggee--My Whim is Law, you're it too!

Nu? So I'm Jewish...

And I was reading this post over at Phantom Scribbler's blog and some of the comments (about escape plans that other Jewish people were making, in case the fundamentalists get really out of hand) reminded me of something that my husband and I discussed after the November election.

We spent the whole day of the election at the polling place, handing out Kerry buttons and stickers, checking off names of Democrats who had come to vote (so we could call up slackers and remind them to come). We had 20 volunteers working with us (the other side only had 6, and half of them were imported from Fairfax County). It was a beautiful day, tee-shirt weather, and we were pumped.

Now, our county is a Republican strong-hold, but we had a great turn-out and even though we lost our county (and the country as a whole) to Bush, Loudoun's numbers for the Democrats were better than they'd been for the last 30 years.

The next day was a bummer, of course. What was especially depressing were the folks who said that now they wanted to move to Canada. As though that could solve anything here. Now, using Canada as an escape route if the Fundamentalists bring back the Pogroms is sensible, but leaving because you don't like the current administration is self-defeating. I think my husband put it best in an e-mail to my father...

"if there were no one opposing the majority, it wouldn't be democracy. To me, among other things, that means one has to be ready to lose a few if one is going to live in a democracy. We can take it. We've had four years of this fool and we can get ourselves through another four. There are limits to what a free people will let their governors do to them...

"Already today, too many...(people)...have been whining at me that, because
of an election, they feel they can no longer live within the borders of the
world's longest-lived current democracy. As though living somewhere else
were going to upset the Republicans even a little bit, or make it easier for me and MysteryMommy to raise Muffin Man in a better America than the one we live in now.

"I'm telling my wannabe-expatriate friends from the northeast that if they
want to move anywhere, it should be to Utah. Or Wyoming. Or Nebraska. Or Virginia. Someplace where the move could make a real difference, not a pointless statement."

So, folks, let's get noisy. Don't like Bush's nominees? Write letters to your Senator and Member of Congress and get your friends to do the same. Write letters to the Washington Post and the New York Times. Don't send e-mails to your friends and colleagues, send 'em to the politicians, the papers, and the pundits.

And two years from now, get out there and try to get a better person elected to the House or the Senate. Four years from now, work to get our guy (whoever that guy is) into the White House.

If we're noisy enough (and judging by our blogs, we are) we can head the Fundamentalists off at the pass.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Short post-prandial post...

I don't have time for a long post tonight because my husband took me out to dinner at Magnolia's at the Mill in Purcellville for their cooking demonstration and 5 course meal, paired with local wines.

To say that dinner was fabulous would be to understate dramatically. Also, I got to sit next to one of the vintners. Also, my husband (what do you think I should call him? Science Guy? Mr. Mystery? Snookums?) and I met some very nice people who live out in Western Loudoun. Did you know that there are more horses than people in this, the fastest-growing county in the nation?

Anyhoo...Muffin Man's back asleep (picked him up from my sister-in-law's house about an hour ago) and I'm all caught up on everyone else's blogs, so now I can go to sleep too.

'Night all!

P.S. It's midnight here though Blogger clock says 9:00PM.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Margaret Maron

So the last few weeks I've been on a Margaret Maron binge. I re-read all of her books and bought her short story collections so I could read them too. She's pretty prolific, 20 novels and 2 short story collections. Her novels fall into three catagories:

1. The Sigrid Harald series. The main character is a stiff, uncompromising female lieutenant on a New York City Homicide squad. Her father, who died when she was a child, was also a police officer. He was killed in the line of duty and his partner is now Sigrid's boss. While Sigrid is uncomfortable in her skin, she is a fully-fleshed character and her supporting cast are all vividly drawn. This series contains 8 books. In the first book One Coffee With, Sigrid and her team are confronted with a murder at a City University, which allows Ms. Maron to bring in a set of eccentric supporting and cameo players, some of whom become recurring characters. New York itself is a character in this book, the subway system in particular is brought to life in Past Imperfect, unfortunately out-of-print.

2. The Deborah Knott series. Starting with Edgar Award-winning Bootlegger's Daughter, this series grabs you, drags you down to North Carolina and keeps you there until you've READ EVERY BOOK AND ARE BEGGING FOR MORE. In the first book, Deborah Knott is an attorney in Dobbs, NC -- a small town where everybody knows everybody else. Confronted with one too many examples of bigotry on the bench, she decides to run for a judgeship in the next election. Her run may be derailed, however, because a young woman she used to babysit for asks her to investigate an 18-year-old murder. Life is made complicated by Deborah's eleven older brothers, all of whom think they have a say in her life. The series mostly takes place in Dobbs, but Deborah does travel to other parts of the state for a few of the books.

3. Two stand-alone novels (though characters from the Deborah Knott series show up in both of them) Bloody Kin and Last Lessons of Summer both have fish-out-of-water elements to them. Both have heroines who get drawn into a mystery just as they are trying to recover their equilibrium after life has kicked the air out of them.

All of her novels and her short stories are like taking mini-vacations. Pure pleasure to read.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Found while moving offices....

For the past three years I've been writing letters to my son during particularly boring staff meetings. At my previous job I was writing one a week.

Today I moved from a large cubicle to a small office with a window (and a door! whoo-hooo!). While unpacking boxes, one of which had not been unpacked through 2 other moves, I found the oldest letters. One letter was written while I was still pregnant ("Dear Muffin Man, Please stop kicking me. Thank you, I love you kiddo!") the others were written after my maternity leave was over.

The letters chart his first smile, his first laugh, his first word, his first sentence ("Bye-bye, Dada!") , the first time he slept through the night...

I've taken them out of the various notebooks they were in, added the more recent letters and put them in a binder. I'm looking forward to giving the binder to him when he's all grown-up. In the I shut the door of my new office and read the letters over again.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Some insight...

My parents separated when I was 4 and my sister was 10. It was pretty amicable for a '70's divorce and they agreed on joint custody of the two of us.

The arrangement was half-week/half-week. So I spent Saturday night through Wednesday morning at my mom's and Wednesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon at my dad's. Our first few Christmases after the divorce were spent morning at one house, afternoon at the other but eventually they switched it to Christmas Eve at one house and then go to the other to wake up for Christmas morning. (Did I mention we're Jewish?)

Shortly after the separation, or so it seemed to me at 4, my step-parents came on to the scene. I don't really remember not having them in my life. I wouldn't give up my step-parents for anything, but I often wished that all my parents lived in the same house. The back-and-forth thing got me down.

Looking back on it, my sister and I were pretty lucky. A lot of our friends who had divorced parents only rarely saw their fathers or saw them only on weekends. We had 4 parents who loved us and still do.

The one thing I think they got wrong, and they know I think this, is that half-a-week is too short. We'd start getting on each others nerves and poof! my sister and I would move to the other house. By the time little annoyances got to be big aggravations they were months, even years in the making. Rather than have everyday battles most teen-agers have with their families, we'd have all out war once a year.

For 14 years I never spent more than 4 days at a time in a single place, (Except for summer camp. I LOVED summer camp. Let's give a shout-out to Camp Onas!) and aside from school, the one constant in my life was my sister. She was an anchor for me and I hope I was one for her even though I'm six years younger than she is.

Now we're both moms. She has two great kids, a girl and a boy, and I have Muffin Man. Our parents are having an easier (gentler?) time of co-grandparenting then they did as divorced parents, but there are road maps for sharing grandchildren. In-laws have done it for generations. Back in the '70's there were no road maps for joint custody, much less with step-parents. My parents were some of the first to try it. All-in-all, I give them credit for a job well done.

Nothing that a few hundred hours of therapy couldn't fix, anyway.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I've arrived!

Update: So did Phantom Scribbler!

Jo(e) linked to me! Hi Jo(e)!

Why MysteryMommy?

At about age 4, I started reading. Really reading. My mom thinks I was reading earlier because she remembers me asking if she would still read to me if I knew how to read. When she said she would, I read all of Green Eggs and Ham to her.
After that, I read everything I could get my hands on. My favorite thing in the world was the anticipation on opening a new book. My second favorite thing was the wonderful home-coming feeling when re-reading an old book. You name it, I've probably read it.
About the time I was 9, my dad got a job that took him to London every few months and he'd bring me back books every time. The Narnia series, a British edition of A Little Princess, all of Agatha Christie. All of Agatha Christie!!! Now that's a good Dad! Mysteries became my favorite of the genres, though I still love science fiction, fantasy, Jane Austen...

When I grew up (or got older, you decide), I got a job as a sales-person/manager/reviewer for the world's oldest mystery bookstore, Murder Ink. This is a mystery lover's paradise, knowledgeable sales staff, hard to find mysteries, and a wonderful aroma that comes from the rare and used books section. I'd be working there still but events overtook me (more about that in another post).

So, after 9 years out of the book reviewing business, I'm ready to get my feet wet again. Watch this space for reviews mostly of mysteries, though I may throw in a few non-mysteries to shake things up a bit. I'll link to the Amazon pages of books I review, but please do go check out Murder Ink, and say "Hi" to them for me.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Jo(e)'s food meme

Favorite food to crunch: Cheetoes.
Favorite comfort food: Mallomars.
Food that makes the best noise: Jo(e)'s answer - Meat dripping and sizzling on a campfire. Can't argue with that.
Favorite picnic lunch: Fried Chicken, potato salad, lemonade. On the beach. On Cape Cod. In Truro.
Favorite food scene in movie: Bill Murray's food orgy in Ground Hog Day.
Favorite food lyrics: I remember Fanny Mae, but from where I'm standing now, looking at my fanny may remind one of a cow(4 Bitchin' Babes, Butter).
Least favorite food lyrics: I want to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas....
Best food smell memory: My grandmother's tomato sauce cooking on the stove.
Favorite summer snack: Fudgsicles.
Food that reminds me of the ocean: Lobster, spaghetti with clam sauce (clams we dug that morning out of the sand bar).
Favorite winter snack: Hot Chocolate with marshmallows.
Most likely to eat for lunch: The grilled short-smoked salmon salad at Sweetwater.
Least likely to eat for lunch: Anything with cilantro in it.
Makes me gag: Cilantro (see above)
Food tradition I hate: Gefilte fish.
Saturday night food: Popcorn and milk watching a DVD at home.
Favorite wild foods: Blueberries.
Favorite food for sex play: Jo(e)'s answer - Chocolate syrup. Can't argue with that.
Favorite medicinal food: Spinach, chopped liver. For anemia.
Food that reflects my heritage: Kugel, and potato latkes.
Food most like me: Baked potato?
Favorite raw food smell: Garlic. Chopped.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Where'd this guy come from?

So, I'm officially here. Got a comment from one of my favorite bloggers! Hi, Phantom Scribbler!

Today is another beautiful day. We went to Target and bought Muffin Man a bicycle helmet so that he can ride his tricycle outside. He's desperate for a real two-wheeler, so that's probably on the agenda in the next month or two. While we were scouting around in Sporting Goods, MM spotted a baseball bat that was just his size (plastic and bright red) and so we got that and some wiffle balls.

Came back home to try out the bat and balls and whaddya know? He swung and he actually hit the ball! Now, I'm a seriously non-athletic person. I absolutely identify with the Christine Lavin song "Ballad of a Ballgame". I'm short. I'm slow. I'm uncoordinated. So the fact that my son can hit a ball comes as a real shock to me. I'm all aglow.

After the glory that was Wiffle Ball, we went for a tricycle ride around the neighborhood, MM wearing his brand-new red & blue ladybug helmet (more manly than the flowered one), me walking along behind. We greeted all the neighbors out gardening. Muffin Man showed off his helmet.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Aunt Dimity and the Cold Shower

I was reading Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin this morning (so far, so good...a bit precious like all the Dimity books, but sometimes that's what you want). I did 20 minutes on the excercycle, 10 minutes cool down, reading all the time. Then, when I turned on the shower --- still reading, mind you --- I found out that the cleaning woman had left the shnozzle pointing straight at the shower doors. Which were open. Aunt Dimity and I got a good soaking.

Thank goodness for blow dryers!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

90 degrees and sunny today.

My son, MuffinMan, wore shorts for the first time since last summer and insisted he was wearing a "Ballerina Dress". He kept twirling around and around like all his little girl-friends do. He's three and the world is wonderful.

New arrivals from Amazon today, MM wanted to know if it was a present for him. "Not this time, little fella."

These are all for Mommy. Mwahahhahhah!