Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Somehow the whole day was gone trying to sleep. Which never quite happened. So it just kind of sucked. But then we were grown ups again.

The title sums up quite a lot of my Friday and Saturday.

After Thursday, I started the day Friday exhausted. My husband got held over at work which meant that he got home around lunch - I was counting the hours. All day we both felt beat and sort of lounged around the family room - but with a toddler, so no real sleeping actually happened and that "hint" of sleep (so close, I can almost taste it but alas, no) felt possibly worse than actually running around all day would have.

Much of Saturday felt the same. Till finally as the monkey and I were sobbing together about her inability to fall asleep, my husband decided to take her for a ride and leave me to sleep. I blessed him, but then felt horribly guilty and whormonally (thank you, Single Girl! -
http://domesticationofthesinglegirl.blogspot.com/) cried again for awhile.

I HATE those type of days.

But then Saturday night we went out to a party downtown. It was my friend's birthday and she and her roommate had commandeered the party room in their condo as well as the balcony (an awesome location overlooking the China town arch) to celebrate. Suddenly I saw friends I hadn't seen in ... God knows how long. Adult beverages were served (and this is one of my cool friends, so real adult beverages - mixed drinks, but tons of prosecco and bellinis and wine and microbrews and, oh crap, I'm not drinking. Damn it.) and adult conversations had. But she also had a pinata (I was the muscle behind finally breaking this one too. And was then accused of juicing...). .

The one downside was talking to all my childless friends who planned to sleep till noon the next day and maybe shower by 2 or so.


Monday, August 30, 2010

How many times a day can your child bleed before it starts to become a reflection on your parenting?

Is it less than 3? If it's less than 3, I'm in trouble.

Last Thursday was one of those days. I woke up feeling like crap and realizing that motherhood did not come with any sick days - damn. I figured I'd muscle through it and decided to take the baby for a walk. Muscle through it, my butt... I was barely hobbling home wondering how long it would take me to get the monkey out of the stroller and into the bathroom with me. I moved the baby gates to make the bathroom accessible - I had no time for this. By the 4th or so trip in, she had no time for this either. But I managed to control her ire via tv watching. We usually try to minimize this. Not so on Thursday. Look - we have a collection of vintage episodes of the Muppets right here! (Then in a fit of self pity, I even put on the movie I'd been watching the night before.)

Anyway, eventually I felt better, so on with the day and errands. As usual, the monkey was opposed to the nap concept, so I had to trick her into it with a car ride. But unusually I was actually able to transfer her from the car seat to her crib so I could lay down too - maybe my day was looking up! Of course, that transfer always means that the nap will not be long.

But, as she'd napped, I decided we could go to the pool. Despite the fact that she was really still overtired and a bit cranky. And the problem with a tired toddler is that they're sort of like little drunks. Flitting from one thing to another on unsteady feet - and they fall down. A lot.

So in my brilliance, I'd taken this small person ready to fall down to a concrete filled area. The possibilities are well, not really endless. In fact, they are pretty limited to the obvious bad thing that's about to happen (cue after school special music).

We were there about an hour before the big fall. I ran and checked her knees and hands glad there were no (more) scrapes. But I soon realized that that was because she'd managed to take quite a bit of the fall with her forehead. Oh jeez! Luckily it wasn't actually that bad (technically, she didn't actually bleed, which my friend insisted meant that it shouldn't count in my accident numbers for the day). I went to the lifeguards (always Eastern European youths, it seems. I have no idea why this is) to ask for ice. One checked the first aid kit and reported, no we don't have any. I went to get her a cold/wet cloth from the bathroom (only it wasn't that cold) and when we came back out, he told me - oh, we found some in the refridgerator (what a place to look for it!). Here, I wrapped it in cotton (meaning, stuck a half dozen cotton balls around it, which are thick enough to not conduct the cold at all) for you.

He then followed me back to our stuff as I tried to put the ice on her head (this is what the monkey considers adding insult to injury or are you effing kidding me?) and get her changed so we could go. The lifeguard then asked me - how did this happen?

Now I know that he might be 17 (in 3 years) and obviously does not have kids or much exposure to small children and he's male and all that, but it was the Mom in me that responded - she was walking. She's a toddler. She's not very good at it yet and she falls down sometimes. (I tried to hide the silent duh in that sentence. I know it's not fair. I mean, among other things - there ARE in fact other ways she could have hurt herself like getting in or out of the pool or... well, maybe that's it. And it's probably just a standard question they need to ask for reports. It was just that his tone seemed so perplexed - like, wow, how did this happen?!)

Anyway, the lifeguard was very nice and did try to play with her / distract her some. I just wasn't having such a good day...

So we went home.

And a couple hours later I decided to make dinner. And as I turned on the oven, the monkey started climbing into her high chair. I hate that she does this. I always want to hover and hold and "help." She's so little. The floor is so far away. But I can't actually seem to stop this from happening. So I just live with the heart palpitations. But I must have gotten too used to my fear - as rather than run to help her, I actually went to turn off the oven (if she was already climbing into her chair, she was hungry. I clearly didn't have time to bake chicken nuggets (oh yeah, I'm a regular Betty Crocker) and would have to nuke them.

And in that second, she fell.

And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And blood.

Oh how I hate that sight.

She was fine in the end. As much as she would let me look in her mouth, it didn't appear that any teeth were chipped or knocked out (wouldn't it be nice if I could get the first set in before she's spitting them into her sippy cup?) - just blood. It looked like she'd bit / somehow split her lip (well, a little).

The Muppets were brought back out (why not rot her mind at this point too?) to soothe and she decided she liked the little ice pack things. And I think she particularly liked getting to eat chicken nuggets on the couch with the tv on (like the grown ups do! Well, not that she'd know that... I hope!).

And I prayed for bedtime to arrive fast and without further injury.

God help us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The big hooha about hoohas

My parents like to say that they always believed in telling us anatomically accurate names for things. There wasn't poop in the toilet, but feces. I didn't have to go potty - I had to go to the bathroom. I didn't pee. I urinated.

My Dad liked to tell the story of one time when my brother was very young and told my grandmother that he needed to go make urine from his penis. She was horrified! How could they teach him such words! My Dad said, he responded - what should he say? I have to make zee-zoo from zumba (or something like that). It's silly. He should use the right words. (Um, ok, maybe what he should have said was - I have to go to the bathroom... But then again, my Dad liked to exaggerate or hyperbolize, as he might prefer, so this story may be well, 100% accurate.)

Regardless, my parents were all about correct words. Except I didn't know what MY private parts were called until ... I don't know, when do you learn this stuff in biology? Probably Middle School or something. In fact, several years ago when I was reading The Vagina Monologues my Dad seemed to avoid using the book's title - till I finally called him out on it and he sort of mumbled the name. (I was probably 26.) I noted that they'd never taught me the proper word when my brother had learned penis and I think my Dad pointed out that you don't, in fact, urinate out of your vagina, so it's not the proper word. (After that I don't think any of could actually come up with what the proper word would be. Urinary tract?)

So now I'm the parent and the question of language has come up with my husband. Now I'm know that he is NOT in favor of teaching her vagina (apparently vulva is technically more accurate, but let's not REALLY confuse matters. I mean most adults wouldn't know what she was saying. OK, maybe it was just me...), but then comes the question of what to call the waste.

The thing is pee and poop seem so much more universal terms (i.e., not just used by kids) than when we were kids. Urinate or defecate/feces seem so... I don't know? Can a poop word be formal?

I was reading a little article on this this morning that suggested we shouldn't treat genitalia any differently than any other body part. You'd never come up with a cute kid name for your elbow, so why the penis or vagina?

Have I said vagina too many times in this post? Hmm... and this is probably why it's good I blog anonymously (Mom).

Then I read a really interesting (by which I mean kind of scary) comment on the article. It was from someone who worked with Child Protective Services. She suggested that God forbid a child is abused, if they don't know the appropriate words for body parts when they meet with the police, they may not explain what happened correctly and the case could be thrown out.

So that feels a little like an extreme scare tactic... And yet...

Ugh. Parenthood is hard (said in Barbie's "math is hard" voice).

What did you (or do you plan to) teach your kids? Any other thoughts on the subject?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday Minute - which is apparently the when I feel like it minute now...

So the Monday Minute has moved from Ian to (dum, dum, dum!) Melissa and Heather

Monday Minute

And just to be crazy, I thought I'd participate.

ish... sometime well into Tuesday... Ugh. Dude, it's been that type of week. And it's only Tuesday...

What is your favorite 80s flick?

OK, I LOVE 80's movies! I just recently saw Hot Tub Time Machine and all the 80's references were BEYOND AWESOME. I don't know where to go here - John Hughes did some awesome stuff (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Better off Dead - if I'm messing up my references here and those aren't him - see note on it's Tuesday and I'm posting for Monday). Pretty much anything with John Cusack (Better off dead makes the list again, One Crazy Summer, Say Anything).

But I might have to note two of my favorites to watch IN THEATERS when they came out (because I am THAT old!) - Back to the Future and Adventures in Babysitting.

Oh man... Ferris Bueller's Day Off - I can't NOT watch that when it comes on... Oh, and Red Dawn...

I'll stop now! This could go on awhile.

One genre of music needs to be banned. Which genre?

Hmm... I'm not a fan of rap. But if I could ban one thing from the radio, it might be Diane Reams (spelling?) on NPR. Or maybe just all of NPR. I know, I know - I'm a phillistine. But when I get into my husband's car and he's listening to this stuff. Ugh. Can we play some music? Just not rap...

What is your all time favorite candy?

Wow, very mood dependent as well. I think M&Ms are really high on my list. Possibly dipped in peanut butter - which is way better than peanut butter M&Ms. And way messier.

How 'flawed' is your driving record?

Not too bad. Actually, scrap that. I'm going to be driving soon and I've seen speed traps recently. I just don't want to talk about this. it's a total jinx waiting to happen!

What was high school mascot?


and finally...

What color socks are you wearing?

None. I LOVE summer!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We're all in this alone together

A couple of years ago I got back in touch with a good friend of mine from high school via Facebook (ah, facebook, you crazy and surreal portal into my past...). We've been talking on and off, but hadn't caught up in awhile. I got a message from her today that reminded me of how universal the loneliest and most isolating experiences of motherhood are. It reminded me a lot of why I started to blog in the first place and as I thought about all we said, I wanted to post something here.

She explained that she's under a ton of stress. Her husband was laid off again and rehired to an old company, but is making less money, so finances are very tight. Her whole family is sick and her husband is under tons of stress at work, so is working his butt off and unable to help. Her baby doesn't sleep well and her toddler has become very difficult all at once. She's got some good stuff going on as well - her husband has a show for a side project soon, which sounds really exciting and, I guess, prestigious. It also may mean a chance to make some extra money, but until the show he will have to work very hard preparing - leaving her to continue to parent alone.

So there she is - struggling with finances, struggling with sanity with kids who won't sleep and struggling with balancing two kids who need a lot from her. And, while I think she generally gets a lot of joy out of being a Mom, it just sounds like it ALL feels like a struggle for her right now.

It got me thinking. The thing is - while we don't have the same immediate pressures that she has right now, many of those same stresses plague me. Both of us having left the corporate fast track (him for fire fighting, me for a part time mommy track) and taking the associated income hits while trying to live the American dream has been a struggle. I've never worried about money the way I do now. (Note - I'm totally type A. I'm a saver. Money HAS to go into my 401k. Money HAS to go into Savings for a rainy day. Money HAS to go to the monkey's 529. And truthfully, there often isn't enough to do all that and pay the mortgage, etc. Our spending seems to outpace savings a lot of months in a way that makes me ... itchy.)

But more than that, maybe I was reading into it or projecting my own feelings, but I really sensed a loneliness in her "complaints" about the current difficulties of motherhood. Her husband was too busy to help. Her mother made things worse when she tried to help (made her son nap when he was too much for her and returned her a cranky, hyper kid). Her in-laws were no help and drove her blood pressure through the roof.

Now, we're really lucky. My in-laws are a GREAT help and very often give us a break. And, while my Mom doesn't live in the area, she's usually available in a pinch (she LOVES that kid!). And, despite so often being sleep deprived and overworked himself, my husband let me nap one day recently when I was just worn out saying - 'I know that extra sleep / naps are part of your standard maintenance. I knew it when I married you and have to let you have a break to recharge sometimes.' (I've sadly ALWAYS been that way. Pathetic.) But that doesn't stop me from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted sometimes (those naps aren't an every day or every week thing!). And when I do, I ABSOLUTELY feel like I'm all alone in this. In fact, I feel like NO ONE understands (no matter how involved my husband is with the baby). And possibly that NO ONE ELSE feels this way!

(has anyone EVER felt this way before?)

Because lack of sleep (and by that I (apparently) mean less than an average of 8-9 hours!) does not make me rational.

But now, in a rational (though actually not all that well rested - why on earth did we watch that dumb movie last night instead of sleeping...?) moment, I think that maybe everyone feels this way. That maybe this is one of those secrets of motherhood.

Like the fact that I find 24 hours in the baby's company alone without playdates and errands and distractions kind of boring... I canonly stack those dang blocks so many times in between yelling "sit" when she stands on the furniture for the 1000th time while desperately praying that she'll nap today so I can nap too... Are you going to report me now?

So I started trying to think of ways to overcome it. To deal with it. Crap, let's face it, I turned into a boy listener and looked for ways to FIX it. (She lives too far away for me to offer to watch her kids for her for a few hours. As in, we live in VA and she lives in AZ.)

Well, actually, first I went to the root of what I think my greatest issue with adult (and specifically mommy) stress is. It's not finite. And because it's not finite, it feels INFINITE! (I feel like there should have been lightening and thunder on that.)

Seriously, think about it. As a kid, you can usually limit your problems to getting through this test / this class / this semester / this school year (or at worst, my time at this school?). OK, all those things FEEL incredibly long at the time (and some are!). But there's still a predictable end to them - even if that end is SO FAR away. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

In adulthood, they tell us that light is the oncoming train...

But adult problems are not pushed into segments. Your dead end job can feel like you're stuck there forever. And your child who won't sleep? Will she EVER sleep? I mean, ok, probably, but there's no definitive timeframe on when that'll happen. It'll probably be before she goes to college. I think... But right now I can't conceive of a time when I'll be able to sleep past 7 on a weekend to make up for the deprivation now.

Oh, you parents of teenagers who you have to pry out of bed at noon, laugh at me. I know it's coming - laugh!

The well rested and well adjusted CAN laugh...

So, I thought like a boy and thought about fixes - the need for a light at the end of the tunnel / something to look forward to. I suggested that after her husband's show was done, she should get an afternoon "off" where he and/or her mother watched the kids and she napped or had a small luxury (a pedicure, coffee with friends, a haircut, a bath with a glass of wine); that maybe she could be specific with her Mom on what EXACTLY she needs from her or could drop one or both kids to her Mom with a very specific activity for them (so she doesn't make them nap. BTW - dude, IF ONLY I knew how to "make" my daughter nap...); that maybe if the side business made some money a small amount could be set aside for a babysitter for a few hours so she could have a little me time (or if not, maybe she could do a babysitting co-op). Finally, I thought maybe she could come up with some activities that were low stress and fun for her kids, so that she had a good back up plan on the worst days (and to give herself a break on letting a little TV slip in on the really really worst days).

But after saying all this - I don't know if it's helpful. I mean, I don't know if she wanted advice. And, if so, if it was at all good. But, just in case it is, I throw it out to you - what are some of your best coping strategies on those overwhelming days?

By the way, also, do you think that the stress / loneliness / alone and I'm the only one who ever felt this way feelings are universal? Or am I REALLY the only one who ever felt this way?!?!?! Maybe I'm whormonal*.

*Note - awesome spelling of hormonal SHAMELESSLY stolen from The Single Girl. After the insuing lawsuits, she will most likely own me and therefore also this blog, but worry not - she's way funnier than me, so it'll be an improvement.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trophy Wife, part 2

I wrapped my 3 year old goddaughter's birthday gift in paper covered with pictures of alcoholic drinks. (The night before, I realized it was the only paper we had and it was too late (i.e. I was too lazy) to go out and get other paper.) I tried to disguise this with a gift bag - narrowly managing to find one that wasn't Christmas or new baby themed (only just).

I did at least manage to take out the bottle of wine for her Mom (she was about to live through a party with 3 year olds!) before I gave it to her.

Hmm, I must have put my *appropriate* wrapping paper next to my Mother of the Year award...


The monkey and I went to the party (the husband had to work) at the beach/marina. I managed to lather the baby up with sunscreen, but somehow thought I'd be fine... Midway through the party I realized I was burning a bit. I thought about sunscreen then, but realized I couldn't reach my back (I was wearing a sundress) and would just have weird tan lines then. I'm burned to a crisp! My husband looked and assessed the damage as 1st degree burns over 30% of my body. It's really attractive... And dehydrating (I wake up feeling hung over without drinking every morning).

Must have stored my sunscreen next to my common sense. Or was it next to the medal for setting a good example for my young child?

I'm going to argue this isn't so bad an example. She can now see how painful and damaging a bad sunburn is without getting one herself! Yup, that's it.

Note - this award will come in the form of a sunburn tattoo. My sister in law looked at me while assessing the burn and said - were you holding the baby a lot on this side (indicating my right). Yeah, I guess so, why?

Because you have a handprint on your arm.

Oh good.


And this time the award goes to my neighbor (for once it's not me!)...

My husband came home from work on Thursday morning exhausted. I suggested he go take a nap and I'd head to Target with the monkey for... oh, something. Who remembers what my pilgrimage to Target was for now? I didn't want to drive his truck to the store, so I pulled it out of the driveway and put it on the street to get my car out. (I reasoned I could leave it there because he'd be leaving in a few hours anyway. If I put it in the driveway, we'd just have to switch up the cars later.)

About 20 minutes into my errand, my phone rings. His car just got hit. He was half asleep upstairs and heard a loud crash. He decided to look out the window to see what it was, but didn't immediately see anything. Then he noticed a guy walking up our driveway. Ugh.

He heads downstairs to talk to him. Apparently the guy didn't even slow down (which he told his own insurance as well) thereby creaming the entire side of the car. He started making excuses to my husband (while admitting fault) that there were cars on both sides of the street and oncoming traffic. My husband, who teaches driving to fire fighters, said - so what should you have done? Should you have slowed down?


Our doorbell rang at about 8 the next night. It was another neighbor asking us to settle an argument between him and his wife. He insisted the guy had to be completely drunk to hit a parked car like that. My husband said - nope, stone cold sober. Just an awful driver (as his wife had said countless times when she brought his insurance info over. Always good to be supportive...).

And the award for worst driver (a stupid sign for your forehead to warn the world) does NOT go to me today! Woo hoo!


UPDATE - Just peeled my shirt off my back from where the aloe had stuck it too my skin. Eww, eww, ewww! Ouch. And, oh yeah, EWWWWWW!!!! Paralyzed by the grossness, must go now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trophy wife

I should start by telling you that my husband has this thing about cheerleading. I’m not exactly sure why – and really, it’s not important – but he’s adamant that our daughter should not be a cheerleader (remember – she’s 18 months old). In fact, we were having dinner with some friends a few weeks ago and something came up about cheering. He was holding their 3 year old daughter – I think he was lifting her up and joking that he would do this as long as it didn’t lead to pyramids and such in her future. He looked at her and said, Ok, we can do the lift again – as long as you promise me you won’t be a cheerleader! I looked at him and stage whispered across – her mother (who was sitting next to him) was a cheerleader. He turned red, but the Mom took it all in stride and said – ah, I know you go home and say, Give me a T, give me an E, etc.

I know that many people who read this may have been cheerleaders. Your daughters may be cheerleaders. Please don’t shoot the messenger here! The truth is I cheered too.

Well, sort of. Truthfully… I wasn’t much of an athlete.

I took gymnastics for years (from about 5 to 13 or 14) and I played some different sport most years in grade school. The thing was – it was essentially a different sport every year. I’d do it one year, discover my lack of talent, move on to the next sport. (Realistically, looking back, I was probably just starting to get a little better at some by the end of season, but whatever.)

Second grade was soccer – the only girl on an all boys team. Pass! I finished out the season (because we don’t quit!), but that was it for me. Third grade was cheerleading (see!). I was a “mascot” – you had to be in 5th grade to be a real member of the team. 4th grade I think was track (a teammate's jog was my sprint – ugh). 5th grade basketball (have I mentioned before I was littlest angel in our school play because I was, well, littlest? Prolly not my sport...). 6th grade cheerleading again – this time as a “full” member. 7th grade softball – and by then I’d exhausted all the sport options and stopped. High school offered new sport options, but… oh school was far away and practice ran so late I’d miss my carpool and when would I do homework and… You get the picture. I believe my next athletic attempt came with adult kickball!

Fast forward to yesterday. My Mom was coming to visit and in the process of cleaning out the basement had found all the old trophies and decided that while they should probably go in the trash, it was up to me to throw them out. (Such parental pride! OK, so maybe that Halloween parade participant trophy isn’t really a necessary part of life…) My husband starts looking through them. There were trophies (well, participant trophies anyway) for each of the sports I’d played. There were academic trophies (geek!). There were probably half a dozen gymnastics trophies. There were Halloween trophies – God knows what else! But what does he focus on? Cheerleading! He jumps on the cheerleading trophies with "I can’t believe you cheered!" (By the way, we've had this discussion before. He knows I cheered. He knew it before we were married. We have not found grounds for anullment here.) Guess we know which ones will hit the trash first if he has a say. (Note – he doesn’t.)

Oh, I never knew it would be so hard to be a trophy wife.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My God if you'd only STOP BREATHING (at least so loudly)!

Have you ever been stuckwith a heavy breather?

No, no - not in the dirty sense (this time. I think I worked with a few of those too. Probably a more interesting story if I work through that... Hmm...). Just someone who breathes REALLY loudly all the time. It's like ... daytime snoring!

I try not to say too much about people I know that I wouldn't also say to their faces. Yeah, yeah, this is anonymous so it doesn't matter and all that, but still. It's anonymous so I can be honest about me / my feelings.

So that friend I made fun of for sending out a mass email every week about every poop and breath her son had won't catch on...

But anonymous doesn't really give me license to just be mean and inconsiderate. I try to avoid talking about the topics (ok, people) who drive me to that. But today...

I work in an office. Not just an office building, but randomly most people who work here have actual walled offices (don't get some crazy silly impression I'm important and executive. I'm not. It's just our layout). Now this is usually nice in that it does cut down on the amount you have to listen to some of the annoying habits / conversations of coworkers and gives you some quiet space to get work done. But somehow the distance across the hall is not enough today!

I just had to get up to close my door because the guy next door was actually breathing SO LOUD that not only could I hear it, but it was getting REALLY annoying. (Note - no, not the first time.) I don't think he's asleep in there (i.e., actually snoring. Anyway, most people don't snore this loud. Ok, maybe they do...). And, I've walked past - he's not working out or doing anything physical. These are desk jobs.

Here's the worst part though - I mean, how on earth can you possibly complain about that? You sound like a crazy person! Seriously - you're whining that someone is breathing too loud? I'm going to go home and tell my husband and he'll likely accuse me of being hormonal

Except that he's heard about this guy before and has seen him, so there's a chance he'll know enough to believe it of him.

Like the woman in an old office who complained that a coworker typed too loud.

Although I did later sit next to the loud typer and with those long acryllic nails, I had to admit... Never mind, never mind!

So - what drives you nuts? Give me your weirdest / lamest / sounds most ridiculous and petty example. Don't leave me hanging here!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Google is now a standard install on your toddler

The other day my husband was dropping our daughter off at his Mom’s. She was showing the monkey her new books to play with and other toys. This lasted a few minutes till the monkey put down the book, went over to the computer, pointed at it and said “Google.”

As she is spoiled as all heck, they turned on the computer for her, but it didn’t open to the standard Google screen. She looked at them again and pointing to the screen said, “Google.” So they brought up the Google screen and she started typing away – ah yes, Google. I know – the yahoo algorithms really just don’t work as well, do they, baby?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I really thought the potty mouth would come from my husband

Now that the monkey is almost 18 months, she’s really starting to pick up on language and try to repeat things. We’ve been trying to take advantage of this to teach her some basic words and work on repetition. My Mom was here last week and decided to work on the dog’s name – Shiloh.

No, we did NOT name our dog after that Jolie Pitt kid. Our dog is 10. Maybe she was named after him.

So my Mom said – Shi-loh, can you say Shiiii-looooh? The monkey looked at her and said shit. Every time my Mom tried to turn that into Shiloh, the monkey said shit. I tried saying “Loh. Can you say loh?” She looked at me said – shit.

Yesterday we were upstairs playing in her room when the dog started barking downstairs. She started calling Shit. If you didn’t know what she meant, it really sounded like – oh shit, that damn dog is barking again. Great.

My husband looked at my Mom and pointed out that he had actually been working on cleaning up his language around the baby – thanks a lot, lady.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Uninspired, but busy! The story of our landscaping…

The title says it all. Despite being pretty busy these days, I am feeling a bit uninspired and didn’t want to just bore you with drivel. But now it’s been a week, so I guess… bore away! ;) No, no – I’ll try harder! (Also, our landscaping is totally uninspired and very busy...)

So busy, you say? Yes… A bit. In all my house buying posts, I think I mentioned that the house we bought needed a bit of work. I mean – not so much a fixer upper as “well cared for” in real estate parlance – i.e., nothing has been updated in YEARS. We did a bit, but then ran short on time, money, stamina and stopped for a bit. But as it got warmer outside we realized that “well cared for” did not extend to our yard. Nothing had been done there – even basic upkeep – in a LONG, LONG time. We have this small fenced in area behind the house, but then our yard extends much further beyond the fence (not like miles – like our yard is maybe 2 or 2.5x as big as the small fenced part) and that was crazy overgrown. Just unusable. In the front, we have a big oak right in front of the house surrounded by ivy – crazy ivy everywhere! As we can’t seem to grow grass (apparently oaks suck up a lot of water? Who knew?), the ivy was ground cover. But now one had kept it in check – it extended into the back and even into the “woods” behind us. Then to the side (still in the front), we have another little “forest” (ok, not really – it’s small. But so overgrown you can’t walk through it. I tried raking it in the spring and 10 bags later you couldn’t tell I’d done anything.)

We needed to get to work. My husband started pulling out the overgrowth in front of the house (azalea bushes that hadn’t been trimmed back in this millennium and other overgrowth). As he did, he found a huge stump a few feet from the house – old and rotten and just never removed. He took load after load to the dump. This was getting old…

So we decided to rent a dumpster. We had SO MUCH undergrowth to attack, but also there were several trees that needed to come down. Dead and dying ones. Ones that abutted the house ruining our roof, whose roots were headed into the foundation. Ones that should have been trimmed back years ago! The dumpster arrived last Monday and work commenced. My husband started pulling out brush and cutting down trees while I was at work and my Mom stayed with us to watch the baby. In a couple of days, the dumpster was pretty full. We called to see about replacing it (and this is where it gets hairy). Due to miscommunication, we thought the replacement was included in our contract – but really, it was a whole new dumpster. It arrived Thursday morning and was half full by the end of the day. As we thought the replacements were included, I suggested that maybe we should get a new one on Friday in case they couldn’t deliver on the weekends. We ordered one. But that evening, my husband thought through his conversation with the dumpster company. Had they actually said it was included? Well, no. And it didn’t really make sense to include it… I mean, they were expensive to get out to us. He called them back. Not included. This was a whole new dumpster / new contract / new fee. Crap! We cancelled the 3rd one coming and the guy was really nice and gave us a bit of a discount (about 20%). So now we are filling the hell out of this thing.

Now I don’t like to think of myself as a “girly” girl, but really – I’m not exactly great with the Great Outdoors. Each day I’ve been helping us clear things out I’ve attired myself in long pants tucked into my socks (just to make sure I look as dorky as possible), a shirt, a hat (God knows what creepy crawlies are out there!) and more bug spray than you can imagine! Then I’ve gone about tripping over myself as I haul away branches and wheel barrows – stopping to think, I look like a bad tv show / movie about idiots in the woods as the branches manage to catch on the fence as I pass and then hit me in the face.

But the progress has been amazing. We managed to create a huge clearing beyond our fence (that might once day house a swing set or maybe a little patio. Or, per my husband, a pit bbq…) on Thursday. On Friday morning we looked out and saw four large bucks standing in! Of course we weren’t on top of getting pictures, but man, it was really cool! My husband said he also saw a lone Indian crying out there and maybe the Lorax…

Once all the bigger stuff was gone we moved on to the mind numbingly repetitive / boring part… Cutting back the brush, raking out all the leaves, getting all the small crap into the dumpster. Kill me now. While I worked on this, my husband started attacking the stumps (so his work was more back breakingly hard than mind numbingly boring). I’ve suggested we paint the remainder of the larger ones and make them into little tables for a play area for my daughter (I think I saw that on a home improvement show once… something like that…).

Anyway, the hard labor continues. The real problem with it all that my husband noted is that the place was SO overgrown before that despite a week of hard work, no one would look at yard and think – wow, that looks amazing! Or even really good. We’ve just barely gotten it up to the clean slate of what it “should” look like now. On the “amazing” front… I can’t even pick out paint colors (When I was at my old job, we painted the condo bedrooms. I got the intern (marketing) to pick out the colors for me because I was too lame to figure it out for myself. And my husband is color blind.). I don’t think I’m going to do well with trees…

So if you have any suggestions for plantings that do well without a ton of sun and oak trees soaking up all the moisture (is there a grass that will survive this?), let me know! Or any great (and super cheap) design ideas? Or ways to get cheap materials? We have space – not great space, but space. And maybe even some skill (the “we” here refers entirely to my husband). But creativity and vision… it’s always something, isn’t it?