Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In case med school doesn’t work out, she’s hedging her bets by practicing to be a pro-wrestler.

Since my husband is a fire fighter / paramedic, the early baby gifts included a lot of things with fire trucks and the like embroidered on them. Once we determined that it was going to be a girl, that influx slowed, but we still get a good number of fire themed books (Even Firefighters hug their mother, Curious George and the Fireman, Fireman Bear’s story book) and an array of the limited number of pink fire fighter themed clothes (the little pink onesie that says “Future Firefighter”).

When our little baby to be was still an unknown, my husband loved the fire fighter themed apparel, but soon after he learned she was a girl, he got less excited. He didn’t mind the toys – sure she can play with fire trucks! (Let’s be honest, he was perfectly happy to increase the number of toy fire trucks in the house) – he just didn’t like the “future firefighter” clothes. Maybe he’d be OK with it for a boy, though even then I think he’d push back some, but for his daughter, he really would have preferred a pink onesie that said “Future Neurosurgeon.” Before you assume too much sexism (oh there’s certainly some there when it comes to the job! I’m generally one to say, girls can do anything that they want! But I have to agree that I want the fire fighter next to my husband to be someone who can pull all 250 lbs of him out of the fire if need be. Now there are certainly women who can do that – and more! But I want those women (and only those women) to be the ones running in with him.), the sexism isn’t so much the issue. The real issue is – the more paramedic classes my husband has taken, the more he realizes that he wishes he’d been a doctor.

I guess he hadn’t really thought about science / medicine when he was in college. I’m not sure if he so much had a path in mind or if that one just didn’t occur to him. Instead he took finance and IT classes, got 2 degrees (one in each) and went off to consult. It took about 4 years to realize that he hated it – that it was godless, soulless work (you know the axiom, if there’s not a solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem? As an aside, before you get offended, I'm not saying that ALL consulting is godless/soulless. What I'm saying is he felt that what he was doing / where he was working fell into that category.) and he just didn’t want to do it anymore. He liked the mental challenge and was good at that and the sales end, but just couldn’t continue to do it. So he quit and became a firefighter. The early training certainly had its challenges, but the real push came during paramedic training. It was during this time that the mantra started – I should have gone to med school.

So now in the spirit of parenting, he’s decided that since he didn’t go, our daughter absolutely should! (He’s also suggested that maybe he’ll go with her.)

I’m not sure how she feels about this (as she’s not yet a year!), but given her tendency toward head butting recently (she really nailed me in the side of the neck this weekend – you’d be surprised how much that hurts…), I think she may be thinking of a less cerebral occupation. Like maybe pro-wrestling.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. Because I joined Costco and they are only sold in 10 gallon drums.

The verdict is in. We are truly suburban and yuppies. Buy me an SUV and call me a soccer mom. Yes, it’s true – we joined Costco. My condiments will now be purchased in buckets – would you like a side of ketchup with your fries? My basement, which seemed so spacious, will now be FILLED with enough paper products and canned goods to be considered a fall out shelter (dang – if only it had that stupid rough in!).

The problem with joining Costco, aside from having to buy things in such bulk that there’s no way your tastes won’t have changed before you finish the package; and the fact that cheap gas comes at the price of 1970’s style gas lines that make us late for everything; oh, and the fact that people are just exceedingly stupid anywhere near that store / parking lot! The place is always full – full of the least patient, dumbest, lowest driving skill people around. Aside from all that, the problem with joining Costco is the “food court.” I know it’s not really a food court. It’s a small counter where they sell a total of about 6 food items – but they sell them SO cheaply. Where else can we go and have lunch together for under $5 – total! Actually, I get all high falutin’ and want the burger and fries instead of the hot dog, so our bill sometimes heads towards $6 – this is my high rollin’ old school city ways coming out. We are becoming regulars there – which I don’t think speaks well of us… But even that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that for $1.35 I can get a vat of fat free ice cream. And see, the thing is, I’m beginning to think that that’s a serving size. There’s enough ice cream in this cup to satisfy a family of 4 on a 90 degree day in Disney – but it’s an individual serving! And it’s fat free! Heck, I am being healthy there! It’s not like I bought the hand dipped ice cream on a stick – so big that I wonder what sort of reinforced metal that stick must be made of to support its weight (this is cold war technology at work!). Of course, when I do in fact buy that one, I am able to offset its lack of fat free-ness with the work out I get raising the thing to my mouth. So it all works out.

So yes, this is my suburban life. The frequent trips to Costco for ice cream – and hey, while I’m here, why not buy a lifetime’s supply of canned fruit and, I don’t know, lawn furniture – and home repairs.

Do you think my daughter can make it through her whole first year without deciding that I am totally uncool with the air of ennui and disdain usually reserved for 12 year olds?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mayberry aka my Grandfather should have lived here

So I stopped home at lunch today and as I was getting out of the car, I heard my name being called. I looked around wondering where it was coming from (sort of took me by surprise) and saw my neighbor standing by her car in the street in front of our house (her car had been parked there when I pulled in). She was calling over to ask me if it was "ok" for her to park their car in front of our house. Apparently they wind up juggling cars in the driveway quite a bit because they really only have a single entrance to their double driveway and have the extra truck, etc. She said that normally they park in front of their own house, but the snow really isn't cleared there, so it's been too difficult to do that and she just wanted to make sure it was OK with us. For her to park in front of our house. On the public street. That's not even a shared private drive, but totally common property.

It made me think of a complaint my grandfather had for years after my Grandma died. The neighbors across from him used to park in front of his house and apparently one time some ladies from church told them that they didn’t stop by because they thought he had company. (Whether that’s really why or not, who knows? Certainly, it should have only stopped them one time as he explained it was a neighbor’s car, but he always said it was an all the time thing). Anyway, my Dad always used to sort of chuckle about this complaint – I mean, you don’t own the street! And Grandpa would get more and more annoyed over the years (as senility increased). He’d threaten that he was going to call his younger brother, Bud, to take care of the guy (let’s see, Grandpa was 90 when he died, so “young” Bud was probably well into his 70s at the very least). Then one day Grandpa started insisting that he had, in fact, called Bud who had, if I remember right… stepped on the guy’s neck. OK, but ... his car was still there. Some people are so hard to intimidate… But I digress.

Our other neighbor has apologized for putting her recycling out on the side of the house that we see and mentioned that she's thinking about getting some curtains to block off her sunroom (which they essentially use as storage / a garage, as they don't have a garage) and asked how I felt about a certain pattern. I must have looked nonplussed when I said - well, it's your house. You should do whatever you like / whatever you want. She said - yeah, but you have to look at it from your kitchen window.

It makes me wonder whether the prior people to own the house were really horribly super picky or whether I'm just possibly the worst neighbor ever - as I would never think to get my neighbor's opinion on my drapery because they have to see it. It's SO nice it almost makes me wonder if I'm already doing something super offensive that hasn't occurred to me yet and they want me to make this type of offer back so they can tell me that I need to change things (like the trees that overhang our neighbor's yard!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Choosing a babysitter

We were invited to a good friend of ours surprise 40th birthday recently. Wait – let me go back. Our friend’s husband called us two month’s ago to say another friend was planning a surprise 40th for his wife on one of 4 days (Fri or Sat of two weekends) and wanted to know which we could make before he told her date (and also wanted my help on addresses). So we’ve known about this date for quite some time. And there’s no chance we can miss it because it was actually planned around our schedule.

Fast forward to last weekend when I asked my sister in law to watch the munchkin (my husband always says he’ll ask, but then forgets to, so I thought I’d just take care of it). Unfortunately she was busy. I said, no problem, I’ll ask your Mom. To which she said – well actually, I’m going to a concert with her, so she’s busy too. Well, crap…

I mentioned this dilemma to a friend of mine in Baltimore who said, you know, I think I could actually come down and watch her. Perfect! Until I told the hubby… See my friend doesn’t actually have kids, so his concern was that she might not have a lot of experience with babies. I felt like a total ass, but told my husband I’d ask to alleviate his concerns. I apologized profusely to my friend when I asked (I mean, she’s doing us a HUGE favor and, hello, she’s not 16. She’s a 34 year old woman who is not an idiot. The kid will be fine! Yeah, so she may not be totally “stimulated” and may not know her alphabet by the time we come home. Whatever! It’s a Saturday night. This is not her regular daycare.). Unfortunately, she didn’t have a lot of experience with babies (but I stand by my original assessment of her abilities). So my husband starting asking if we could bring the baby (yeah, I think that’d be a no) or suggesting that he could stay home with her (even though it was planned around him).

So I pulled out the big guns. I asked my Mom. My email went something like – I probably won’t need you, but just in case. I know this is a HUGE favor and I know you’re going to PA that week (for my sister in law’s surgery) and you have a ton to do. Is there any chance? She said yes, but, and I quote, “you’ll owe me.”

I told my husband of our backup plan. He looked befuddled – so your Mom would drive all the way down here just to watch the baby? Then he thought – but we’re not guest ready! (See all the move in details) How long would she stay? Etc., etc. Suddenly my “inexperienced” friend looked much better.

He looked at me and said – are you sure you’re comfortable with her? I exasperatedly answered – yes! But look, if you’re not, my Mom can come. To which I got – shut up about that! Your Mom is NOT coming! (Remember, we’ve JUST moved out of his parents’ house. He’s really enjoying being in a parent-free (except us!) zone.)

So my friend drove down from Baltimore – got stuck in traffic, finally made it. Because her own life is crazy busy, she decided not to even stay the night – so we didn’t get to hang out a bit with her and make her breakfast. She came down JUST for this. And I’m the asshole who asked about her prior experience. (She told me her resume is now updated with this experience, so she’s good to go.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

And now I'm the crazy box lady! Hello new neighbors...

I mentioned I’d finally sorted through a bunch of the boxes? I was pretty excited – I had a really good number empty, so I broke them down and started putting them out for garbage day (saving a few for the hubby as requested for when he paints the foyer). I put them by the curb with a few bags of other garbage (mostly packing supplies) on top of them to weigh them down.

The next morning I saw the garbage truck arrive and take the bags. Hmm – well, recycling must come later and get the boxes. No problem. I went off about my merry way to run errands – noting all the other garbage and recycling (including boxes) in front of my neighbors. OK, thank goodness, I got my days right (I wasn’t entirely sure about this).

I came home several hours later to find the garbage and recycling gone in front of the other houses – and sort of gone in front of mine…. Without the garbage bags to weigh down the flattened boxes, they’d blown all over the neighborhood! The neighborhood that I’ve JUST moved to! Oh man! OK – not to panic! The baby is still asleep in the car from the drive, I can do this. I ran to the first neighbor’s lawn and started gathering boxes and running them to my garage. Then I heard a voice from across the street – it was that neighbor calling over to tell me that they’d blown on his lawn too! Oh no! (Worse yet, this neighbor is super chatty and I was NOT feeling that I had the time to talk to him right now.) I ran over explaining that my husband was at work and the baby was asleep in the car as I grabbed the boxes. He said – oh, just one of those days, I guess. So I decided to ask – um, was today not recycling day? He confirmed that it, in fact, was. But maybe they hadn’t taken my boxes since they were flattened. So I asked – but wasn’t I supposed to flatten them? Well, yes, it turns out I was.

ARGH. So who knows the motivation? The garbagemen just didn’t pick them up. Maybe they couldn’t see them when they passed because they were flat (even though they were piled about 15 high!). Maybe they were already blown everywhere! But this was my afternoon – a sleeping baby in the car and a frantic me trying to get my boxes from around the neighborhood and then to get some of the crap in from the car while the, by then screaming, baby begged to get out of her car seat and the dog barked from the door. I need to drink more!

The move continued

Following on my last blog of what’s fun / what’s not fun of owning your new house – moving is NOT fun! I’m not sure we’ll ever get this place sorted. I finally felt like I’d made progress in the living room (box storage heaven – or really, hell) and my husband got the last (well, almost last. Cause, no, there’s still more) load from his parents house and it seems to be full up again! Oh man. I’m beginning to worry that we’re like those packrat people. The ones with the disorder where you can’t walk through their house because it’s piled with newspapers and junk? Except ours is piled with boxes and bubble wrap and used newspapers…

Can you drown in that stuff?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The pros and cons of homeownership

You know what’s fun about owning your new house? It’s all yours and you finally have some space that’s your own – to do what you want! To decorate!

You know what’s not fun? The first month of bills! Mortgage, HOA, taxes, water and electric – to name a few. Oh man. I miss being young and stupid.

Moving – the munchkin adjusts to the new house and everyone else adjusts to me sleep deprived (like it or not!)

This is a little late in coming, but got kind of lost in the holiday posts, so here it is -

Day 1 in the new house, the munchkin was up most of the night – not necessarily wanting to eat, but at least to be held. Every time I went to put her down, she cried. I finally looked at my husband at midnight and said, I need you to take a turn. I’m not sure when he made it to bed, but I was up with the next cries around 4. Oh dear God.

Day 2 in the new house –
Sleep seemed a little easier in coming – till she woke up at 1:30 and refused to go back to sleep. By 3 I finally had her back down, but my sanity was lost in the night.

Was it just the new place? Was she scared? Was it separation anxiety? Was it extra light from outside because the prior owners took their curtains and we haven’t yet found the box that has our curtains?!?!? (I’m personally loving that one myself. I’ve been changing in the closet since we moved.)

Day 3 in the new house – we started the break through and she was up only once. Thank God.

And then Day 4 in the new house – was like an epiphany! She slept through till nearly 8 am. It was like a vacation – God’s own personal snow day for us! I thought – this is great! I love this house! Maybe she just woke up so much at my in laws because there were more noises there (it seemed like someone was always awake!).

But it was not to last. And we’re back to wondering – how on earth do we get this kid to sleep consistently? Some nights she sleeps through, but some nights can be so long. The other night we went with the theory that if the crying wasn’t too tortured, we’d let her cry it out. I was so tired, guilt didn’t even keep me up when we turned off the monitor!

Oh, fingers crossed! Not just for me, but for all I come into contact with! I am not good without sleep…

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quote of the day

My husband just called to tell me he’s worried our daughter may grow up thinking her name is “NO!”

I put plug covers / outlet protectors on the plugs in her bedroom the other day and apparently she finds them very intriguing. The second my husband puts her down she beelines for them! I asked if she could get them out and he said she’d gotten one about halfway (even though these are the ones you’re supposed to have to push to pull out). When not playing with electricity, apparently she’s a big fan of trying to pull herself up on the (still empty and therefore not balanced) bookshelf.

She gets this from him.

Looking back at 2009 - whoa, I'm tired

I know I’m a little late to post this, but…

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I stopped to look back at 2009. He started to ask, as he always does, what my favorite thing of the year was – but realized it had to be the baby. Then he paused to note that really a lot has changed this year – new baby, new car, new house… I thought about it and realized that something really pretty big has happened nearly every month this year! So here’s my highlights of 2009, year in review (a little late)

January – finished the kitchen (just in time as I was already full term when we finally got this one done!)
February – after an extra 8 days of wondering, when will this person arrive?, I was induced and my munchkin arrived!
March – OK, so most of March’s big thing was still recovering from February’s big thing! But, for its own unique events, we did baptize the baby and host a pretty decent sized party for that (amazing as it wasn’t much before that that I could barely fathom 2 people coming over!) and my Mom left – so I was on my own with this littler person!
April – we go the new car
May – We took our first plane trip with the baby. I went back to work.
June – My husband graduated from his paramedic program and won an award for being the top of his class. (And, hello!, I started blogging!)
July – I changed to part time.
August – We won a contract on a house, rented out our condo and moved out!
September – The contract fell through and we spent a lot of time looking for another house (while living with my in laws)! We finally found one and put in a contract at the end of the month.
October – we closed on our house! But leased back for 3 weeks.
November – we finally took possession of the house! And realized a lot more work than we thought was needed before we could actually move in.
December – we finally moved into the house!

Top that, 2010!

Wait, wait! I take that back! Do NOT top that! I’d like a nice quiet year! Unless the excitement is winning the lottery, finding an awesome job I love or actually pulling my stuff together to take all these notes and thoughts and turn them into something real (yes, I am that clich├ęd blogger who wishes she had the stamina and, let’s face it, talent, to write a book). That excitement I can take. Other than that, a relatively slow 2010 would be just fine by me…

Monday, January 11, 2010

01.11.10

Super Geek Thought for the day:

Today's date looks like binary.

I feel like there should be a hidden message in it. But it's probably not a link to millions. More likely a reminder to GET BACK TO WORK from the man.

All about MEME - Favorite Birthday



Today's prompt is to tell about your favorite birthday. Personally - I LOVE birthdays! I don't care how old I get, I think I will always love them. My long time philosophy on this (which I repeat often!) is that I get exactly the same amount older every day, but on birthdays I get presents and cake for this achievement! Therefore it only makes sense to live it up and take advantage!

So I think one of my favorite birthdays was 26. It was a Saturday (always a plus!) and randomly warm - actually hot - for December! I'd gotten a leather jacket from my parents, but couldn't even wear it as it was about 80 degrees out. The day started out a little slow - but getting to enjoy a "summer" birthday for the first time in my life was still fun. But then I went to meet a friend to go to dinner. She was running late (as always) and then we had to stop at another friend's place to pick something up (I was starting to wonder if we'd ever eat and was starving!) - but it turned out that was just a ruse to get me there. When we arrived at the apartment, about a dozen of my friends were there with champagne and cake and flowers and then we all went to dinner! I am a big fan of surprises!

Now that I think about it, I also loved 25 (a Friday) because it was the ongoing birthday celebration! There was cake at lunch, cake in the afternoon and then a happy hour with, yes you guessed it, cake! I went to a friends for dinner the next night - and more cake! It doesn't take so much to make me happy.

But last, I can't forget the first birthday my husband and I were dating. He planned a party with all my friends at a wine bar downtown. He got a carvel cake (my favorite) for all at the bar and then gave me some beautiful earrings later that night. He can be awfully good at this stuff when he tries... ;)

Favorite holiday gift

And finally, finishing out my Christmas posts (one more New Year's yet to come)

Once we were settled back home, my husband asked me what my favorite holiday gift was – I joked that the ant traps might be hard to beat (though they didn’t seem to be working as well as I’d hoped. Tangent: They actually weren’t a gift, but he’d gone out to get them on Christmas Eve so we could put them out all over when neither the dog nor the baby was around to find them / get sick. He’d stopped at Lowes just before lunch on Christmas Eve, bought a stack of them and told the salesperson – “I just want them dead. All dead! … Merry Christmas!” Ah, who doesn’t love the smell of napalm on Christmas morning?). He’d given me lots of nice stuff for the house, so it was hard to choose.

I asked what his favorite was, fully expecting the trilogy of Christmas pictures of the munchkin to top the list, but he surprised me. He’s always complained about our drive north at Christmas. Every year, he says – it’s too much! This is the last year. But, this year he took a different approach. After months of running around and barely being able to stop to look around (ever!), he told me his favorite gift was the time we got together, just us, in our car ride. Aw, shucks. (I assume he’s probably not including the hour of screaming baby at the end.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The drive back to VA and learning your alphabet from broken toys…

So after seeing all the family, a bunch of friends, running around like crazy – and, oh yeah, that little home repair project… we hit the road on Monday. I got up early to go to church with my Mom (it was my Dad’s birthday and the mass was for him. She joked that the baby must have been thinking – man, church THREE times in one week?! What is this? I figured that definitely would have made my Dad happy!). The little monkey was the hit of the morning mass – the only baby there and lots of people my Mom knew excited to meet the grandchild! We came back and made some breakfast and I figured we’d be on the road early. As always, I’d underestimated the time needed to leave any locale – esp. with the haul the munchkin had managed at the holidays!

We finally made it to the road around 1 and headed first to Philly to visit a friend of my husband’s. His wife just had their second three weeks earlier, so we thought we’d go check out the new addition.

We’d brought a gift for the new baby and his big sister as well as some Christmas packages (and were excited for the room we’d gain moving them out of the car!). One toy that I’d really thought was fun was this beehive with magnet letters. You put each letter in and it tells you what it is and some words with that letter. Their daughter opened it right up and put then N in. O. One. Ostrich. Wait… what? The Mom tried a few times, but it was convinced that this letter was O. Uh-oh. Was it all of them? Hmm.. No, looks, like the K is working. Let’s try B. Mom told the little girl – B. Bus. She put it in the slot and A. Ant. Oh crap! Worse than that the little girl looked at the block with a picture of a bus on it and said. A. Bus.

I was mortified. The Dad told me that it was OK – she doesn’t know her letters anyway. I pointed out that she never would with this toy!

He took a look at it and discovered that one of the sensors was stuck down, so any letter that didn’t have that particular sensor on it wound up with the extra pushed down and the machine assumed one letter later. He was able to pull it back up and thank goodness! The toy worked! I pulled the munchkin away from any attempt to touch it as I figured that status was pretty tenuous. Sounds like a good time to leave – you know, big drive ahead of us!

We decided to take the Western route to avoid traffic (it was getting close to rush hour between our late start and our detour). The baby slept all the way to Gettysburg when we stopped for dinner making for a nice trip. We went to a little diner and I brought her into the ladies room to change her on the floor (no table and a massive poop – what a fun combo!). After she nearly got hit in the head by the next person coming in, I somehow managed to get her changed without too much floor exposure (public restroom, diner/bar... Yeah, I just wanted to dip her in purell after). She ate a little while we ate as well and then it was back on the road. After the quiet couple of hours from Philly to Gettysburg, we were hopeful. But no luck! She cried the rest of the way home (about an hour). We finally got home to change her for bed and it turned out she’d pooped again (not her M.O., so I hadn’t even thought to check). The poor kid was probably sitting in it for the past hour! We finally got the car unloaded and got her sleep. Phew!

Nothing like a nice restful holiday....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Visiting friends and redoing a bathroom – all in all, just your average holiday weekend

The trip up to NJ also meant that we’d be home / near a number of my other friends who we so rarely see. So lest there be a moment to sit, I started making plans to see them – and their babies!

Saturday we visited a friend about 15 minutes away from my Mom. She’s got a 3 year old girl and a baby just younger than our munchkin. It was so funny to see the munchkin with the littler one – we’ve never had to tell her “gentle!” and try to correct her around a smaller child. She’s always the smaller child! Their older daughter had just woken up from her nap and was still a little bit cranky, but honestly adorable! Her Mom worried a lot about her, as the 3 year old has Down’s Syndrome. I know that she must present a lot of difficult challenges for her parents, but I have to say, she always just warms our hearts so much! She’s the type of kid who you look at and think – yes, I want to have children! (Her Mom admits she gets away with a lot more than she should by being adorable.)

Unfortunately the little girl was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which requires a gluten free diet. As this is a genetic disease, her Mom and sister must both now be tested. My friend is really a bit down about this as life seems to be piling on the challenges for her. It makes me sad that she really seems to see the challenges far more clearly than the joys. I don’t want to seem insensitive here – there have been many challenges – brain surgery in her 20s, then her father passed away very young, her first child has Down’s, then she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, etc. But on the other hand, she has these two beautiful daughters who have the potential to bring so much joy! So my hope/prayer for her – more than her test results on Celiac – is that she’s able to find the joy in her life.

The next day, again, lest we sit for a moment!, we headed into NYC to visit some friends from college. One has a 3 year old and a 1 year old – it was so fun to watch our munchkin interact with her (I really need to find a playgroup for this kid!). The other doesn’t have kids, but really enjoys being an auntie to the little ones! The trip into the city was a pain (the car to the train to the subway to –where the heck is their apartment!?), but it was a pretty relaxing afternoon with them. Then we, of course, JUST MISSED the train home (they seem to bunch them 3 together then a long wait for the next one) and had to wait an hour. Oh well.

The one thing I forgot to mention in all this mess is… in the middle, my husband was somehow pulled into another major home improvement project at my Mom’s! This was probably actually a smaller project by the standards established on his prior visits – only ripping down one wall to replace some plumbing fixtures… It started with the simple request to replace the showerhead in the upstairs bathroom – something my Mom could probably due herself, but isn’t entirely confident to do, I guess. These were the sorts of things my Dad handled. So in the talk about this one, she noted that the cold water pressure was so bad downstairs, that shower was unusable. So my husband offered to take a look at it. Why? I’m not sure… Turns out the pipe was clogged – he guessed probably at the fixture, but maybe it was deeper into her plumbing. If it was deeper into the plumbing, he couldn’t help. But… if she wanted… he could pull down the bathroom wall to take a look there. Well, of course, she wanted! He told her if he couldn’t fix it, it might leave a mess, but maybe it would save her some labor costs on a plumber. And, anyway, this would insure the plumber went in through the wall, not the shower (a far more expensive fix with tiling).

Luckily, it was the easier repair – only the fixture had to be replaced. He was able to get the shower running again, re-dry walled it and put the paneling back up. It doesn’t match exactly in the corner, but if you’re not looking closely, you can’t even tell he was in there (and he’s said the corner is an easy fix – for NEXT TIME!).

So yes, a busy visit. As always!

Grandma Claus

Oh my goodness! I don’t think we can live up to the spoilage. Seriously – thank goodness she is too young to understand or we’d be in real trouble! It started on Christmas Eve. I finally broke down and got a few packages for the munchkin, as I felt bad (even though she doesn’t understand AT ALL), but it was minimal and mostly consumables. She got diapers, a diaper genie refill, sippy cups and one toy. OK, reasonable. She’s a baby.

Then we got to my in laws… I don’t think I can remember all the things she got, but highlights include a lot of toys that make noise… A book that sings about shapes and colors, garanimals stacking blocks, a Mozart magic music cube (note – I think I have to recommend this one. It’s not necessarily her favorite, but it is one of the least annoying of the musical baby toys as it plays classical music.) and, the highlight, a talking dog that was programmed to say her name in its conversation. (There is an odd pause that makes me think of horror movies - I love you… munchkin. Let’s play a game… munchkin. …Bananas… are my favorite food. Are they your favorite food too, …munchkin? You can program in her favorite food, animal, color, etc.).

OK, so a lot of stuff, but maybe it’s not too overwhelming yet.

Then we got to my Mom’s. There was a stack of presents as tall as she was with a snowman doll (also about her size) stacked on top. Seriously – there must have been a dozen gifts. And really… they weren’t the consumables like diapers. They were clothes and toys (another talking book, a push toy to learn to walk, an Easter outfit, a first birthday outfit, some other cute ensembles, etc.). And then we got to my cousins… More clothes, more toys – a pony she can ride on (that HAD to be put together right away – at the insistence of the cousin who’d bought it so she could get a picture)! It was CRAZY! So much so that my Mom is bringing a few of the remaining items with her when she comes to visit next week because we couldn’t fit them all in the car.

I’m thinking that this is a first year phenomenon… Maybe. Certainly once she has siblings or cousins (or once my cousins have kids) this will slow. But it was overwhelming! Luckily, we didn’t have such an abundance of toys for her for this age, so she “needed” a few before (as much as any baby “needs” talking toys).

We are just so grateful – for the abundance of gifts, but more for all the love behind them. It was so cute to watch my Mom’s family when we arrived – they all just sat and stared at the munchkin – mesmerized by her cuteness! It really warmed our hearts to see how much they love her!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Driving up on Christmas – I wouldn’t (Oh good, more parenting advice)

Let’s start the Christmas posts (or post Christmas posts) with our preparation to head north. Though we now live in VA, I am originally from NJ. Before I met my husband, I made the northbound trek for all the major holidays, but we’ve cut back a bit as we spend some with his family here. You’d think this would make life easier – less trips up. And maybe it does when I don’t have to sit in traffic with all of humanity at Thanksgiving. But then comes Christmas…

My husband’s family celebrates on Christmas Eve. His family is small (just his parents and sister), so we’ve always made the point of doing Christmas Eve with them and then heading north on Christmas day – an exhausting way to get your holiday going! Esp when you consider that we see both sides of my family every Christmas. Dinner with my Dad’s extended family (either at my parents or my aunts) and then “dessert” (cause you can never have enough of that on Christmas) with my Mom’s later in the evening. The day never ends till about 10 or 11. So adding in getting up at 7 to pack the car and drive 4 hours (the worst was the year my husband wanted to go to Christmas day mass instead of the vigil – so 7:30 mass followed by the drive) is enough to wear anyone thin. Add in pregnancy last year and a 10 month old this year and we knew we’d barely be functional!

But it’s what we do! And do it we would this year. Despite the forecast of a possible ice storm. I mean, barring all else – my own desire to be with my family and their joy in seeing the baby's first Christmas – my Dad passed away several years ago and my brother wasn’t coming home for Christmas this year, so if we didn’t make it, my Mom would be alone. OK, so alone with 8 or 10 of my cousins coming to her house for dinner and then going to see another 10 or so for dessert, yes. But still – none of her immediate family home. Bad enough that she has to wake up in the house alone on Christmas morning (something I would find very hard), but then we wouldn’t be there later in the day either. So we were going!

I mentioned our plans to a coworker who looked at me and said – but there’s an ice storm on Christmas morning, you know? I said, stoically, we’re going. She gave me a yeah right look and said, are you sure? I said – yes, we’re definitely going. To which I got – well, I wouldn’t. (And then to pour in some salt) not with the baby!

Yup, glad to know you wouldn’t. Because I asked? Because I seemed open to discussion on this topic? UGH!

Anyway, sure, you wouldn’t. But now your kids are getting to be adults – so how would you feel if they weren’t coming home to you? And what if your husband wasn’t there with you and they didn’t come home? Now, yes, if the weather were horrible, we would have reconsidered / not been stupid (although I admit I do get stupid around holidays) and my Mom definitely would have not only understood, but told us not to do something dangerous. But that wasn’t really the point!


Yeah, yeah, merry Christmas. Bah humbug!

My husband’s old roommate, Bob, and what the relationship brings to our new home – BUGS!

(Christmas updates are overdue! Will hopefully post those later this week, but in the interim...)


Bugs have long been a subject of debate between my husband and me – well, how to deal with them has been the real debate. I am a firm believer in capital punishment for those bugs that dare to enter my realm. Justice is swift and dealt with an iron fist – or iron shoe. Or iron magazine. Or iron laundry basket for the big ones in the basement. I am the bug Milosevic. My husband believes in more mercy. More specifically, he believes it’s bad “juju” to systematically kill so many bugs and we should, at worst, trap them and set them free outside. I think he might even think that we can let a bunch coexist with us symbiotically inside. Particularly spiders. He thinks we should leave the spiders – where I think they might be my first to go.

So there has been more than one “incident” regarding our varied approaches. It started years ago when we were dating and he was moving between rental places one July. The AC has broken in the house he was renting and it was about a bazillion degrees while we worked, so he had all the doors and windows open. We were working till pretty late and needed to get started very early, so I decided to crash at his place. In between packing all day, I’d been killing bugs and swatting the larger ones to push them outside – a process that was infuriating him. But just before we were going to sleep, I saw a spider the size of a small car in the corner of the room. Seriously – it was huge. It should have counted as a third roommate and been paying part of the rent. It was big enough to be a house pet rather than a nuisance, so I named him Bob. My husband refused to remove Bob at that point in his exhaustion / unending things to do list and told me to just go to sleep. I did. But I knew Bob was watching me the whole time. I felt lucky to make it out of that place with my life (Bob was clearly a tarantula – think Arachnophobia).

There have been a few other incidents over the years, but I’ll go ahead and fast forward to present day. It started out as just a few little pests I’d noticed in the new place.
Me – ugh, what is that?
Hubby – Oh, jeez, it is a bug! Move on!

(Note – didn’t I get married so as to have a boy to take care of these things for me? Wasn’t chief bug killer somewhere in his vows?!)

Then there were the hopping spiders. OK, so technically, these are probably crickets – or something in the cricket family. But they have lots of legs and they seem to hop about a foot off the ground – requiring me to squish them with the laundry basket because I can’t drop my foot fast enough to get them. I got a couple in the basement (they took up most of the space in the really decent sized basement! I am like a hero defending my house.) and managed OK, but the one in the kitchen really started to tick me off. I haven’t seen any in a few days now, though. I think leaving their corpses in the basement as a warning to others was a good idea. I finally had to clean them up though as I kept thinking they were moving…

The latest installation has been the ants. Initially my husband didn’t see the big deal and wanted to live in harmony with these. Then I pointed out the growing parade of them near the molding by the front door and he considered that maybe we could consider an exterminator. I squirted them with antibacterial spray and cleaned them off. The next day there were more. I don’t mean more as in – there were the original and now here’s some more. I mean it as in – yesterday there were 20, now there are like 40! Did that damn antibacterial spray have something that attracted them? And, by the way, holy heck, it is DECEMBER! Why do I have ants in December? Every time I bring them up to my husband, he says – but it’s December. There aren’t supposed to be ants in December. I suggested he tell them that. My real worry is – how bad will the problem become when there ARE supposed to be ants?

So the other day I started my ant killing spree again. My husband came home from work and I complained of the grossness of it all. He told me about a guy they’d run at work who’d gotten hurt on a building site and might not be able to afford Christmas. Then he said, sarcastically – but at least he doesn’t have ants. He’s done this before, but this time I was prepared. I pointed out that he should back off as I’d just pulled an ant out of the baby’s hair! (OK, it’s possible it might have been black fuzz. This isn’t really the point as it totally could have been an ant as she’d just been rolling on the ground. And I totally DID see an ant on her sleeve later, so that makes up for it.) He conceded and agreed that something needed to be done.

So I launched into my “what we should do about this” campaign. I told him I was buying outdoor ant killer to spray well, outdoors (duh!) and white vinegar to wash down the front door molding – and now the kitchen floor (stage 2 of the ant problem. Let’s not talk about their presence in the bathrooms. I can’t keep up.). Then I suggested that we should probably give the dog a bath too. Hubby looked at me and said – I’ll get it on my list, but my list is VERY long. I told him, I wasn’t asking for it to be on his list, as this was my offensive. He told me that wasn’t what he heard. Ugh.

Funny aside – the dog seems to like the vinegar. I wiped it on the coffee table (as ants were crawling there while we were trying to eat – holy disgusting!) and he later licked the coffee table. Great – any second he’ll start licking the kitchen floor.

My other aside – I read that they hate black pepper so I should scatter that on them and they’ll disperse. Bad idea. It doesn’t kill them or even get them out of my kitchen and now I have all this dang black pepper to clean up off the floor! I also read that they don't like mint - so I've started creating a wall of gum around my cooking / food prep areas.