Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pee-pee Chronicles

I am primarily blogging this so I will remember what it was like when Jambuca's time comes to potty train.

SNG and I both really, really dislike the process of potty training. It's miserable. Luckily, it's no more miserable than I had expected it to be, once we got past the initial motivational phase. But it is just plain miserable.

As I've said before, diapers just don't bother me. But I know that e-baby has to potty train before she's 3 (daycare rule) and I know I don't want to go through this process while also managing the needs of a second child. And now, being in the thick of it? NO WAY do I want to do this with a second, younger child around. I'd have to check myself into an institution.

Christmas day we put a complete moratorium on training and just let her wear diapers. That was good because she didn't want to be distracted away from her living room full of new and wonderful presents, so we'd never have convinced her to sit on the pot for even a second. The day after Christmas she wore pull-ups and used the potty a few times for stickers, but still her heart wasn't in it. Today, I went cold-turkey and had her use the big-girl panties. That did the trick. She loves to wear them. We went through seven pairs with accidents (usually peeing on the way running to the toilet, yelling "I want to pee-pee on my potty!!!") and one poop mystery ("I have a big, big poop, I need go sit on my potty" well, the poop is already out, so I'm not sure what she was trying to accomplish). She had a dry naptime, and by the end of the day, she was able to make it to the potty three times without leakage.

The big difference? 1. Actually putting on the big-girl underpants, which unfortunately means a LOT of mess to clean up but also a great tactile lesson and 2. (most importantly) every trip to the potty means reading at least two books while sitting there. You can bribe that child into almost anything with books. She doesn't care if it's a book she can quote cover-to-cover by heart. As long as she's being read to, you could probably give her immunizations, brussels sprouts, and a hair washing all at the same time.

Tomorrow will mark the second day of potty-training in earnest. I'll let you know how it goes. There's certainly no turning back now, and this is definitely the best time for us to do it, but honestly? I hate this. Cleaning pee and poop off my floor is just so nasty. It is the reason I prefer to adopt older dogs rather than getting puppies. I can't wait for this to be finished. I am already dreading potty training Jambuca, and he hasn't been born yet.

Just as there are dog people and cat people, perhaps there are diaper people and potty people as well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Cheer!

(poopoo and peepee post warning)

We just got home from a 10-day trip to Austin which was mostly business for me and all vacation for e-baby. SNG was there for the last 3 days of the trip, and we all had a great time.

Some of the things we did in Austin-- several trips to the Mother Ship (um, the Whole Foods world headquarters- a sight to see if you've never been), two trips to Central Market (another grocery marvel, as only Texas grocery stores can accomplish), one trip to IKEA (we REALLY need one here), a trip to Austin Java Company (where e-baby had a fit of the Two-Year-Olds and had to be unceremoniously taken from the restaurant to think about what she'd done. I won't say more of her indiscretions, except that they involved a brick, a basin of water, and pre-masticated spaghetti). We saw lots of family and opened a few gifties, and relaxed.

The flight home Monday night was uneventful, and yesterday we went to work. Can you believe that? One day at work, with (of course) nobody there, and e-baby was one of only a handful of kids at daycare that day. My campany is closed from noon on Christmas eve until Jan 5, so naturally everyone needs to extend the holiday by a day or 2.

And, against my laziest wishes, I've finallydecided that it's really time to move e-baby into big-girl underwear. She's been playing with a potty seat for almost a year now, and goes on it at least once a day, but seriously? I've never felt too strongly about making the transition for real because changing diapers is just not a big deal to me. I don't mind it much at all, and in a lot of ways, diapers are so convenient. I am not at all excited about the prospect of having e-baby use public toilets, for example. Ick-ugh. But Jambuca will be here in about 2 months' time, and I don't want to go through all the cleanup and effort of potty training when I also have a newborn to wrangle. So having 12 days off for Christmas seems like a perfect time to make the transition.

Now I wonder if I've waited too long. I know friends who tried to potty train too early, and spent months cleaning up accidents, so I figured I'd just wait until she was 2. E-baby can tell me when she has to go and no longer pees in her bathtub (hallelujah!), but she's just not all that interested in big girl underpants. We bought some. She picked them out. We took them home. She doesn't want to put them on.

I took another tack-- one sticker for pee, two stickers for poop (in the potty, of course, not on the floor). She really wanted a sticker, and so she sat on the toilet for a few minutes, and then announced that she couldn't go and completely lost all interest in the stickers. Now she's taking a nap, in a Pull-up (see above re: not wanting the underpants) and I wonder how you go about convincing a girl who is about as determined and headstrong as her stubborn full-grown mother that she really does want to get out of the diapers. I don't want to use candy as a reward. Associating poop with candy is just a little to icky for me, and would not work well with those public restroom trips. Besides, I have about ten thousand little stickers.

This is only the first day, with 11 to go, so maybe things will look better tomorrow.

Oh, and Santa Claus comes tonight. He'll have to knock at the back door, because there's no chimney and besides, I promised e-baby that he wouldn't just be tromping into her bedroom unannounced. But the chocolate chip peanut butter cookies we're leaving out for him should persuade him to leave some really great loot.

I hope you get everything for Christmas that your heart desires!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Girl Can Speak For Herself

This morning, e-baby was in a foul mood when I dropped her off. It was just a rough morning for some reason, normal 2-year-old stuff I'm sure. I wondered how her day had shaped up, and at dinner, e-baby said to me, "My teacher named Anna told me I a mess. I told her I not a mess, I a kid!"

And just like that, I feel this crazy reassurance that kiddo's growing up just fine.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Insert Title Here

It has been hard to get around to blogging lately, and it's been tough to think of what to write. So I'll just post an update on all of us, mostly e-baby.

Somehow my child has acquired a Carolina accent. Not a gentle little drawl, either, but a full-blown 2-syllables-per-vowel kind of thing. Egg="Aayugh." Bed="Bayud." Hands="Hayunds." Head="Hauyd." No="Naoo." When I try to direct her toward an American Standard Stage pronunciation (Sweetie, it's "egg," not "aayugh"), she laughs her head off and says "Not egg, I like aaaaaayuuuuugh!" Perhaps I should have interviewed the day care teachers for proper pronunciation rather than for silly things like a loving and stimulating environment.


She has picked up one thing from her head teacher that I looooove. Head teacher calls everyone "honey" or "sweetheart." Yesterday, e-baby and I were lying on the couch (I, outrageously, hoped to take a nap; 3rd trimester has hit me like the sandman). She started playing with my hair and said, super-softly, "Hi, honey. You're so pretty, sweetheart." I nearly melted right through the upholstery.


All four grandparents were here for Thanksgiving, so now e-baby is totally Tuti-Granddad-Granny-Grampy obsessed. Not only do all groups of objects have to have a mommy, a daddy and a baby (this applies, BTW, to dolls, flowers, spoons, packets of sugar, rocks, cars...), now there are grandparents. Grandparent coins, grandparent greeting cards, grandparent pieces of cheese... The thing of putting groups of objects into little families goes way back, and it has persisted a long time. I gotta think there's some important cognitive schema being developed and refined through all that. One shift that she has made, though-- six months ago, a lone bird in a tree was a baby bird looking for its mommy. Now, a lone bird in a tree is a mommy bird collecting food for her babies. That particular pattern-shift is interesting-- almost like she has let go of some of the anxiety of losing track of mommy. Oh, and now, whenever there's a third bird flying away, it's daddy going to work.


On my own end of things, I'm feeling pretty ambivalent about third trimester. On the one hand, I'm really sick of being pregnant, and tired, and big, and lumpy, and sleepless... on the other hand, I know that having the baby won't make ANY of those symptoms go away. The only relief will be that I can sleep on my stomach again. Sleeplessness? That'll be much worse. Feeling fat? Well, if it's like last time, I can expect that to last for an indeterminate, but long, time. Add to that the likely repeat of baby blues, juggling two little people at once, double the worry about their personal safety... you get the idea. I guess it boils down to this-- although I was madly in love with her from the first day, e-baby was 18 months old before I decided that parenthood was really a lot of fun. A lot of moms I know say that it was a full two years. So I guess I'm really excited about Fall 2010 or maybe early 2011.

Knowing the way I am, working some exercise back into my schedule would probably fix nearly everything. So far I don't see any realistic way that this will happen (outside of that whole fantasy "oh, I'll jog when the baby's sleeping, and get a double jogger to walk BOTH kids to the daycare...maybe e-baby will actually stay in the jogger if there's a baby brother next to her" -- you know, the fantasy world where everything can be made to work just right).

I haven't given up on being able to get my workouts going again after the baby is born, but I don't have a plan right now that I think will actually be workable. Hopefully something will come to me by March or April.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is, really, the first time since moving day that I've been able to sit still long enough to post anything. We only just got our cable/phone/internet back Monday, so my only internet access was at work and, well, that's work, so at last, I've got a minute to myself.

My parents got to town last Wendesday night and it's been a whirlwind of unpacking-moving stuff-unpacking more stuff- moving more stuff- etc. Today the newly re-cushioned and reupholstered living room furniture was delivered, and with that, we are completely and totally moved back into the house. We even have a new (used) set of patio furniture that I can't wait to sit on one warm sunny day.

And as I write, my parents are out hiking, e-baby is napping, SNG's parents are working on jobs at Dianaverse's house, SNG is at work, and I am cooking veggies and pumpkins for pumpkin soup tomorrow. Between SNG's mom, Dianaverse, my mom and me, we will have a massive feast with a turkey, a ham, stuffing, pumpkin soup, salad, green beans, broccoli, bread, 3 kinds of pie, and coffee and tea to help digest it all. Perhaps we should add a shot of pepto to the menu, too? What this really ensures is that we won't have to waste valuable shopping time cooking or getting groceries this weekend. Not that I can afford to buy anything now after the renovation and associated costs. But I can look. I can wake up at 5am and wander the aisles of Sam's or Kohl's and think of all the places I'd put a 52" flat screen TV, or some cute home furnishings.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

HAPPY-HAPPY-JOY-JOY

The house is finished!! We moved home again last weekend!!

Well, there's a little more stuff to do outside, but nothing that will require adjusting our lifestyles. Friday night we had "a picnic" in the house. SNG moved stuff from storage rooms to other places and I started the process of cleaning every single dish in the kitchen, and every single piece of exposed fabric in the house since everything-- cabinets or no-- was covered in a layer of sheetrock dust. E-baby kept herself busy with emptying out the cabinets, and we all had a good time staying up too late and eating on the newly finished floors.

Saturday morning I dropped e-baby at Season's house, where she played and played and wore herself out for a whopping afternoon nap. I met the housecleaners at the house at 8:30am, and we cleaned in tandem-- the whole house, top-to-bottom, twice-- while SNG continued moving things from storage rooms to their final resting places. No, we are nowhere near finished with that. There's still dust, and there's still stuff being stored in wierd places. In the afternoon I packed the apartment, we ate out Saturday night (and ordered a houseful of new cellular blinds) and tried to sleep.

At 5:30 Sunday morning, E-baby was too excited to sleep. So were SNG and I. We started working on the house again, and then I took e-baby to spend the day with her cousin C-baby. PIC is a total mommy ninja, and managed to get both girls to take a nap-- at the same time-- in the same room!! I am not worthy. Peace, Fuzzy, Dianaverse, and 2 friends from church came to help move everything (Peace and I are as useless with heavy lifting as a couple of waddling pregnant ladies can be, but we're great at lifting with our index fingers), and SNG and I spent all afternoon making the upstairs a safe place for loose toddlers who escape from their bedrooms in the middle of the night. Because, you know, we have one of those now.

Last night we slept in our "new" house. E-baby slept as well as she's slept since August. Maybe because she had so much fun at c-baby's, maybe because she's back in a room that isn't adjacent to a road with giant pickup trucks barreling over speedbumps with super-loud music blaring all night long. That would help me sleep, too.

I actually slept very poorly, because the paint/varnish/carpet/sheetrock fumes are killing me. I think the varnish is what's getting me, although it's hard to say.

I don't know what we'd have done with e-baby underfoot-- we just got so much work done in two days, and it's still nowhere near finished. We might have only moved a few things to the apartment, but we moved EVERYTHING else to other rooms in the house, and it all got dirty. Having Karma and PIC take care of e-baby Saturday and Sunday was a lifesaver.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NOLA Recap

Last weekend we went to New Orleans (Covington, really) for Fish and Jen's wedding. It was the first time I'd been back since The Storm, and I'm 1) glad I waited to go until after a lot of the cleanup was done 2) glad I went at all. It's unreal how much has changed, and yet, the stuff that's the same is, well, exactly the same.

First thing we did was pick up some po-boys from Deanie's and go to the lakefront to eat them. We sat on the seawall to watch pelicans, ducks and seagulls as we ate and although it is still not really cleaned up, or even entirely reopened yet, some things were no different than ever. The green slime below water line on the seawall, the bird begging for food, the guy waxing his Camaro in the afternoon sunshine playing Def Leppard.

Next we drove all over lakeview, my old neighborhood and area of some of the worst Katrina flooding. My old high school looks terrific. My old elementary school doesn't exist anymore. For that matter, neither does my old house. But houses across the street (several feet higher than my side of the street and backing up to Bayou St John, ergo desirable property) were, for the most part, being renovated and made habitable. It has to be strange to live on a street where people live on one side of the road in modern, luxurious and architecturally designed homes of widely varying styles, and the other side consists entirely of abandoned, destroyed, stripped, or completely eliminated houses.

Since I knew to expect this, though, it wasn't quite as painful to see in person. There's no way to walk around a concrete pad was once your childhood home without a little bit of melancholy, but it didn't last. We cheered ourselves up by wandering around City Park awhile, and then we took e-baby to dinner at Camellia Grill. And then to Angelo Brocato's for cannolis. Pecan waffles and cannolis can cure almost anything.

Friday was Halloween, so we got e-baby dressed up in her costume for the post-rehersal reception. She was so proud of herself, I could have just eaten her up.

I won't give a play-by-play of the entire weekend, because if you read this blog, you were either there yourself, or wouldn't care much about the details. But I will say that e-baby was SO impressed with the fact that K is an animal doctor and immediately fell in love with her. She learned that Fish and Jen are both animal doctors, too, and so of course, she's decided to be an animal doctor herself one day.

More than anything, it was just really great to see old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in a very long time, some of whom I could easily live next door to and be happy as a clam. We need to have an annual reunion or something, y'all. I'm so happy for Fish and Jen, and for this new stage of life together. Jen was a stunning bride and Fish is quite a catch himself (pun INTENDED!).

I posted the New Orleans trip pictures this morning. And J & K, I definitely want a copy of your pictures from the weekend. Please!

So this week we're back at work, feeling hopeful for the future, waiting for our house to be finished (a week and a half to move home again WOOOO!) and enjoying that these are the last few nights of late-night car engine exaust noises and car stereos.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Through Someone Else's Eyes

Sometimes it is refreshing to see things from another person's perspective. For example...

  • Sitting on bails of hay in a farm trailer being pulled by a rusty tractor with a large, meaty-handed man at the wheel. Passing through fields of dry cornstalks, a miniature train cruising by, red and orange leaves falling from the trees. Surrounded by kids and parents, cradling the pumpkins they've just selected from the pumpkin patch. A source of unexpected bliss, which as cynical and sleepy adults, SNG and I recognized upon seeing this little reflection of the soul:


  • Arriving at the polling place on a Saturday, waiting in a line, and for the first time in your life, having a say in who runs the country. A friend of mine and her husband, both from China, have lived and worked in the US for over a decade. They have two children, both US citizens. After a ridiculously lengthy process and a class-action suit, last summer they finally completed their citizenship process. This week they voted in a national election, for the first time ever in any country. They are my age. Think on it a minute: for the first time they have a real voice in deciding the direction of government. It is easy for those of us who grew up here to take for granted. Some people, who could, don't bother to vote in general elections at all. Seeing this simple act of individual power from the perspective of someone who has never had it is humbling.

I voted today. Regardless of my choice of candidate, regardless of yours, I hope you have made your plan to go and vote, if you are eligible. In the end, whether you canvassed or made cold calls or donated money to a party or a grassroots organization or just sat on your couch watching reruns on Corner Gas, in the end, you have the same power as I do. It's more than some people will ever have in their lifetimes.

And just as lagniappe, this article gave me pause today. Sort of like realizing that your high school principal is a real person and not just an archetype, this lends a refreshing humanity to a topic that is far too easy to generalize.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

State Fair

We went to the state fair this morning with Dianaverse, PIC, c-baby and LeBon, and it was a blast. E-baby enjoyed the animals that were being shown, the flowers on exhibit, the kettle corn, the cotton candy (OH, that COTTON CANDY), the music, the bright colors.

E-baby was a real tropper about not touching any of the animals, and was pretty much OK with just looking and pointing and asking about "their mommies" and "their daddies," so when we found the Petting Zoo area of the fair, we indulged her. Also, c-baby wanted soooooo badly to touch the animals, which makes sense as she used to live near lots of animals that she was allowed to pet regularly. Poor kid, it was like they were holding out on her!

The petting zoo mostly had small goats, but also a couple of camels, some calves, and lambs. She had never had an animal eat from her hand before, and it was CRAAAAAZY COOL to her when she was able to give little disks of carrot to them. I have to admit I was watching her really carefully to be sure the hand never went toward her mouth/eyes/nose, but she never so much as scratched her head. All of us cleaned up really well afterwards, and I think she liked the tiny sink as much as the animals, because she washed and dried her hands three times.

Around time to go home, I won a teddy bear for her that has been named Cotton Candy, and he is e-baby's new best friend. Instead of falling right asleep at nap time, I could hear her in there giving Cotton Candy the low-down on her crib and its various amenities (blanket, chupons, pillow...).

Tangentially related to the fair-- the silver lining to apartment living is that we're right next to where they set off the nightly fireworks show at the fair. Every evening at 9:45, we step out onto the breezeway to front-row seats.



I'll have fair pictures up soon. Check back tomorrow when I can get some sleep. 'Night night!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Airport Open House

Our area is moving into the big-time by taking the previously odd terminal system and converting it to an inexplicable terminal system and eventually replacing the entire airport, bit-by-bit. When we moved here, construction was underway to rebuild and renovate Terminal C. Terminal A (a.k.a., The Bus Terminal) was very old and decrepit. After completion of the Terminal C renovation, Terminal A was renovated. BTW, there is no Terminal B. No sooner was the Terminal A renovation finished than the airport closed one half of Terminal C, demolished the Admiral's Club, and renovated the closed section. Admiral's Club became Admiral's Hallway, with fabric dividers between the lowly people whose companies paid an exorbitant annual fee and the lowly travelers whose companies do not. The closed section reopened, a new Admiral's Club opened, and the other half was demolished just in time to begin construction on Terminal 2.

Yes, that's right. A, 2, C.

As soon as Terminal 2 opens this month, the recently renovated Terminal C (and its new and miniaturized Admiral's Club) will be demolished, to be replaced by the Other Half of Terminal 2. Then, Terminal A will be demolished to make room for Terminal 1.

Confused? Try living here!

Terminal 2 had to be given a totally different kind of name because it cost so darn much money and it is so much bigger and fancier and prettier, that it can't possibly even be listed in the same data type as Terminals A and C.

All of this serves as segue to my story of what we did last weekend. Saturday morning was the Open House for the new Terminal 2, with free vendor samples, tours, activities for kids, TSA agents sporting brand-new royal blue shirts and being as surly as ever explaining the 3-1-1 rule (again!), K-9 officers with their own collector's cards, someone in a Curious George costume, and lots of moving walkways for people to test-ride. SNG, e-baby and I went and PIC and c-baby met us there. The kids loved it, and I was happy to have a sneak preview at my new future home-away-from-home. I didn't get to see the new Admiral's Club. I am afraid that maybe there won't be one. Or perhaps it will be temporarily located in the "family restroom" until The Other Half of Terminal 2 is finished.

And speaking of airlines, I am in Indianapolis. just for one night, but leaving on a Sunday morning really put a cramp in my mood. E-baby took it much better than I thought she would. She told me bye-bye, gave me kisses, and was really just excited about the prospect of daddy taking her to the playground as soon as they dropped me at the airport. We had a video call this evening, and she showed off several tricks. No tears. Still, I can't wait to get home tomorrow night.

Here are a few pictures from the open house:




Friday, October 10, 2008

Sick, Sick, Sick

I caught some creeping crud thing from e-baby this week. She had a fever Tuesday and stayed home on Wednesday, and I'm staying home today. I felt worse yesterday, but with all the coughing and the high risk of losing my voice (again!), and with teaching in Indianapolis on Monday, it's better to just keep my crud quietly at home.

I go sleep now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Have Learned This Lesson Before

This morning, e-baby and I went out to play with c-baby and PIC. The girls ran themselves silly at the playground, and afterwards we went out for lunch. When we left, it wasn't all that late, but it was getting close to e-baby's nap time. She was asleep around the time we left the restaurant parking lot. With the drive to PIC's house and the drive home again, it would have been impossible to keep her awake, but I held out hope that I'd be able to get her upstairs without waking her up, and she'd still get a nap. HA! Not on a bright sunny day. So for the next 90 minutes, e-baby screamed like her hair was on fire. No words, just hyperventalating, panicky, eyes-half-closed screaming. We eventually gave up on sleep and put her back into the car. SNG dropped me at Target, and e-baby settled down on the way there. They drove around aimlessly for another hour while I shopped. She, staring into space (but not sleeping) and he wondering just how far you can go on Holly Springs Rd before it becomes something else. She was never back to normal the rest of the day, and I think her missing the nap took its toll on me-- I am POOPED. She was asleep by 8:00, though.

I am newly obsessed with this stuff. In the past, Crystal Light hasn't been one of my favorite things. IN fact, I usually don't care for it-- it tastes too much like artificial sweetener. But this one is just SO GOOD. And best of all? It mixes to a shade of red that can only come from nature or a laboratory.

Speaking of consumer goods, about a year ago I mentioned to my dentist that my teeth were cold-sensitive and always had been as long as I could recall. He gave me a sample of Brand X sensitive toothpaste. I loved it. I couldn't find it at the store. So instead I got Brand Y sensitive, and it was OK. Not great, but OK. Fast-forward to yesterday. I decided to try for the Brand X again. No luck on the Sensitive, but they did have Brand X Total Nighttime, which claims to make your teeth whiter, less sentitive, less plaquey and tartery, straighter, pearlier, bite-ier, and to eliminate morning breath, along with whatever else they could think of to attribute to one single active ingredient. I took my bountiful promise home and tried it out before bed. No sooner had I rinsed and spit when I realized that ever bit of mucous membrane that had contacted the toothpaste was swollen and painful. It didn't go away. I woke up feeling like I had a terrible sore throat and the insides of my cheeks, lips, roof of my mouth all felt like I'd gargled with Drano. I compared the tube to the other three varieties of toothpaste I have (yeah, variety is good) and none of them used the same type of flouride, true, but the "inactive ingredient" list was fully twice as long as anything else I already owned, so who knows which thing I'm allergic to. I just know I'll never use it again.

At Target today I found the Brand X Sensitive like my dentist gave me. It is good. The mouth lye has been banished.

Wanna see pictures from the birthday party? Finally, here they are. Thanks, Dianaverse, for all of the cute pictures!

Friday, October 3, 2008

No One Here But Us Owls

There's really nothing going on and I'm just blogging to keep in practice. E-baby's birthday party last weekend was a blast, and it seemed like everyone had a wonderful time start to finish. I have pictures, but I haven't posted them yet. Yeah, yeah, I'll get around to it before the next birthday.

Minor headline news is that I'm still doing fine, gestationally speaking, at 20 weeks (half-way there!) and am pretty much on track with the weight and not so much on track with the exercise; e-baby is an owl this week (and I'm her mommy-owl, and SNG is her daddy-owl, and little owls have a special way of walking, sort of a short-strided penguin waddle with the knees locked straight while saying, of course, "hoo-hoo!"); Bob the Builder is hanging sheetrock in our house next week; we had dinner dates with friends 2 nights in a row (both were lots of fun, both with e-baby).

Next week is the last week I'm home before a trip to Indianapolis. I hate that I'm leaving on a Sunday at noon. I can't even put e-baby down for her nap and sneak away. The week after that I go to DC, but those are the only two business trips until December.

Ummmm, so really, not a whole lot going on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Two-year-old update

E-baby had her two-year appointment today, and she's consistent with the last 18 months of data: 25th% percentile for height and for weight, 100% score on her cognitive, social, problem-solving and communication skills, and 90% score on fine and gross motor. In other words, she's still my clever little elf. And she can still wear her 18-month clothes. It looks like she'll probably end up a wee bit taller than her mommy: the growth trajectory predicts 5'3". At her age, my own growth chart predicted 5'1.5" (I'm 5'1"), so it was pretty darn accurate.

The CRAZY LOON behavior has tapered off since Tuesday, although something has definitely changed. She is just more, I dunno, connected to the world now. She talked about more stuff, she sings longer songs with more versus, she says more to strangers, and she's clearly much more stimulated than before. I think this move to two-year-olds was, if anything, overdue. I'm loving it, although I have to watch her a lot more carefully since she's likely to test her limits at any moment.

Other stuff-- the house is really coming along. Go check out SNG's blog to see pictures. His Cell Phone Pics link on the left has more pictures of the construction.

It's been blissfully overcast, cool, and windy this week. Am I nuts? No, I love that kind of weather. But I think a warm front is coming soon. That's perfect because e-baby's birthday party is this weekend and I'd love to use the pool.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Two-Day!


Happy Birthday, e-baby!

She started her 2-year old class full-time yesterday and had a great day, but one day was all it took for my sweet, gentle little girl to become a rowdy, bawdy, feet-on-the-table raucous two-year-old. It's like someone replaced her with a clone who doesn't care if you approve of what she's doing now, and in fact if you DON'T approve, so much the better. In two hours after school she:
* jumped on my head in a classic mid-south wrestling move
* flipped upside-down from a chair many times while holding my hands
* tried repeatedly to put her hand through the window screen while looking me straight in the eye as if to say, "What are you going to do about it, lady?"
* put her (full) glass of water into a ziplok bag with a whistle and a crayon since, you know, they were all in the same room
* mashed a banana into the carpet
* poured milk all over one of her dolls for fun
* walked onto (and stood on) the book I was reading on the floor an did a little tap-dance
* dropped hair accessories into my water glass so she could go "fishing" for them
* chewed on wet hair accessories while humming Old MacDonald

Mind you, she's long since learned how NOT to mash banana into a carpet and not to pour anything on her dolls, is not a kid who puts things into her mouth in general, and this is just experimenting with misbehavior. I know that right now, letting things slide without correction would be a terrible mistake, so I spent the whole evening saying "No ma'am, that is NOT ok. Please put down..." "Only food goes into your mouth" and "No, you need to help clean up the mess before you can..."

I suppose that it's all part of becoming her own dog. The gentle girl is still in there somewhere, and once she plays out this new obnoxious identity, she'll settle into something in-between. In spite of being chided for this or that, she's very interested in impressing me with her new tricks. I think she wants to know which of her newly-acquired behaviors from the older kids at school are OK to do at home.

My favorite new 2-year-old trick-- she finally understands that looking UP instead of DOWN keeps water/soap from dripping into her eyes when we wash her hair. Seriously, this is huge. The girl was BORN terrified of water on her face and has NEVER peacefully complied with a hair-wash until the last 2 weeks, when all my explanations of "look UP at the CEILING and you won't get water in your face" finally reached neural terra firma. I don't know whether it's better reasoning skills or just having the swimming pool that did it, but I don't really care. It's just great to know that she will not, in fact, spend her adult life with greasy hair because she's too afraid to wash it herself.
So Happy Birthday to my most wonderful, delightful, intelligent, witty, talented and mischievous girl. I can't wait to see what this year will bring. I love you more than you can ever imagine.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Renovation Update

Well, it's only a few weeks into this renovation and already I can see the whole thing coming together. Everything has been framed, which is the most expensive part of the job. We still have glass, sheetrock, tiling, paving, carpeting, windows, doors, roofing, electrical, plumbing, and painting (inside and out) to go. It's crazy to think that some people do these kinds of projects themselves. Of course, those people are licensed contractors and they spend a year on the job.

This week I picked out the tile for the upstairs bathrooms, SNG and I picked out stone for the front porch, and we bought new lights/fans for inside the house. We planned the locations of our lightswitches, cable outlets, electrical outlets and phone jacks. We also talked over the new back deck and discovered that a patio would cost less, last longer, and look better. So we're having a patio installed in the back in place of a new deck. SNG will have to rebuild his firepit to match the classiness of it all.

We finalized the outside paint colors but still need to settle on the inside paint. We'll probably use the same color that was already there, since as neutral beiges go, it's our favorite shade.

Oh, and we made all our final decisions on reupholstering the living room furniture. We'll have a beige seude-ish fabric, and we're also having a PURPLE! slipcover made from a corduroy-ish upholstery so that when we get sick of nbeutral colors, we can have PURPLE! living room furniture. And you know, sometimes you need a shot of PURPLE! in your life.

Right now the house is completely uninhabitable. It's definitely not safe for little people to run around. I'm not really sure it's safe for grown-ups without steel-toe boots and a hard hat. I'm glad we moved out. I can't wait to move back in.

The main thread through all of this, though, is that the renovation is turning out to be even more exciting and wonderful than we expected. It's also more expensive, which goes with the "oh, let's also do this!" territory. So we'll be eating ramen and wearing sackcloth shirts, but we'll have an awesome house.

Here is the rear of the house. The new playroom is upstairs, and on the left you can see the living room doubling in size:

All around the rear of the house will be a new patio. On the lower right of the rear wall you can see a sample of the paint color we chose (beige, house, dark blue shutters)

A new front porch will keep rain out of the front door, put the stoop level with the door, and have a nice stone finish:


Inside the living room addition:


The vaulted ceiling above the breakfast area (a.k.a. Kitchen Stadium) will now a be a LARGE closet upstairs. The catwalk has been being doubled in width since this picture was taken so you can get to it without walking the plank:


We don't have pictures of the new bathroom, but it will turn the big room over the garage into a sweet guest suite. Thanks to SNG for the cell phone pictures.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Update

It's been a good week, apart from catching a cold along with e-baby, she staying home one day last week and me losing my voice on Thursday. Otherwise things are humming along nicely.

* This weekend, PIC's parents, brother and sister are all in town for a visit so we joined them for a toddler playdate and a dinner outing last night. At first, e-baby was a little shy about seeing all these loud, boisterous, smiling faces at c-baby's house, but she warmed up when people started singing to her. Nothing lubricates her personality like some good dancing. At dinner, c-baby hid behind SNG's chair to play peek-a-boo with her Mimi, e-baby entertained the troops with her french fries and orange slices, and afterwards everyone had some frozen treats. Well, all except c-baby who was busy making up for any time last week that she might have forgotten to run around full-speed and squeal with delight. It was all so wonderful and cute that I couldn't stop planting kisses all over both of them. I think everyone else had the same feeling. I can't wait until they all come to town again. The first thing e-baby said as we pulled out of PIC's driveway was "I had good time!!" You said it, kid.

* I spoke to Bob the Builder Friday and he said that the job will be finished by mid-November. Wooooowoo! That's faster than he or we had initially expected, and it couldn't be better news to me. So it looks like we'll have Thanksgiving in our "new house." SNG stopped by the house and they've finished framing the new living room space. He said that from inside, the new space looks like they've uncovered the other half of our living room that was always missing.

* I set up our new web camera yesterday and got all synced up with my parents so that e-baby can have videoconferences with them. After a couple hours of "I can see you- can you see me yet? No? Well let's try changing this thingie," e-baby talked to both of them.

* We've gone swimming both mornings this weekend. It's a great way to wear out the kid so she'll go straight to sleep, but it works a little too well. She doesn't want lunch, she doesn't want to clean up the chlorine, she wants to go to sleep. Now. So she's sleeping. Boy is she ever gonna be hun-gry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thirty Five

According to my doctor, I am mature starting today. I think it's funny that according to the same criteria, men are not mature until age 70.

Mature means that I got to have a special appointment with a genetic counselor and had extra ultrasound pictures of sprout, which was fun. BTW, everything looked superfantastic with Sprout's genetic indicators, so he/she seems to be of good sturdy (albeit only half-mature) stock. In a week from today we'll have a better idea of whether it's
Sprout or Sprout, although whatever the case, he/she better hope to look good in pink butterflies because I am s-i-c-k of shopping for (read: spending more money on) baby clothes.

Tonight, I'll let e-baby help me blow out a candle and eat some cake before her favorite babysitter takes her while SNG and I go to a fancy French restaurant that does not offer crayons or a special menu with word search games on it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moved!

We moved into our temporary place over the weekend. E-baby thinks it's wonderland. There's a pool, and her room has lots of beautiful decorations that she got to install (with a lot of help from the babysitter), and we are using her tiny table and chairs for most meals instead of the full-size dining table. Poor SNG has his knees in his chin, but she and I are quite comfy.


Oh, and we had doughnuts for breakfast on moving day. You say bribery, I say marketing.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Won't Say Why I Am Telling You This

But "on-boarding" is not a synonym with "orientation." In fact, it is not even a noun. Or a word. *sigh*

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Home!

I got home from Chicago Friday night, and it was a really fun trip. I saw a marvelous film that doesn't have a US distributor, so it's on tour in just a few US cities, went to the Art Institute on a free night and saw great stuff, heard a free Sonny Rollins concert (from a distance-- I didn't want to be part of the crowd, so I did a walk-by listen) in Millennium Park as part of the Chicago Jazz Fest, and had a pizza. One of those super-cheesy-saucy-deep-dishy pizza PIES and it was delicious.

Nonetheless, I was so glad to come home. It's better that I was in Philadelphia 2 weeks ago and Chicago last week because I wasn't as homesick on the first trip but Philadelphia is really boring (sorry, Fuzzy). Chicago is so much fun that it helped distract that homesick feeling that crept up every time I was in a quiet moment.

We spent the first half of this holiday weekend packing, and it looks like we're spending the other half having fun. This morning we took e-baby to a great big playground and she thought it was heaven (I don't take her to enough playgrounds, obviously). After naptime, we went to PIC and LeBon's to eat burgers and play with c-baby and with SammyC who came to town for the weekend. We had a GREAT time, and the girls are just so much fun to watch play together. Or, near each other. Or, in different rooms from each other, as the case may be. E-baby found a way to get grown-ups to cheer for her: she did somersaults (front rollovers) over and over on the living room carpet. Every time she stuck the landing (and when she didn't, too) she'd run into the kitchen where everyone else was and yell "I DID IT!"

We kept her out a little later than usual, and all the way home I was thinking, "It's too bad she won't get much sleep before her full day at school tomorrow" until SNG started singing "Three-day-week-end, Three-day-week-end" and I remembered.

And underlying every thought is the hope that by this time tomorrow, Gustav will have fizzled down and hit land with a splat rather than a bang, and that at least, the levees will hold.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SPLAT!

Maybe it was the rocky section of the driveway. Or it might have been the coiled up garden hose. Perhaps it was the 3-4 extra pounds right in front of my center of gravity. Or, it could be that I'm just a spaz. But I was walking from the back yard to the garage to get some paint stirrers for a backyard painting extravaganza, and WHAM! the section of driveway that's rocks and paving stones rose up and slammed me full-on scraping up both knees, both hands, one hip, and one forearm. Within a few hours, most of it was feeling better, but the palm of my right hand is bruised and swollen, and every time I try to stand on my right leg, the knee screams in protest. The knee that took the edge of a paving stone right in that soft spot between patella and tibia. The fact that it has only gotten worse as the day goes on into evening suggests that maybe this is more than a bruise, so I'll probably hit the health care center on Monday and pick up a knee brace before I leave for Chicago.

Fate has this funny way of enforcing the rules with me. In my Delicate Condition, I'm not supposed to lift very heavy things but what are we doing in 2 weeks? MOVING and do you think I'll be able to resist lifting heavy things when no one is looking? NO WAY but if my knee has me hobbling around and holding on the walls for support, then how am I going to pick up that 158-pound TV set? Fate laughs at me "haHA! get out of THIS one, miss smarty-non-compliant-pants!"

I guess everything happens for a reason. And maybe 2 weeks of R.I.C.E. will get me to the point where I can carry a queen-sized mattress up 2 flights of stairs when no one is looking. Muwahahaha!

Oh, and totally unrelated note, one of my cousins and his wife just had a beautiful baby girl. Congratulations to the three of them!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I hate airport food

I am tring blogging from my phone for the first time.

I got to the PHL airport early enough to get some dinner, which is nice. First stop: Cibo. Watermelon chunks. They smelled like feet (trash). Next stop: salad place. Where included in the price of food comes a unique blend of apathy, anger, passive-aggression, and dirty hands from the person making your salad. Yes, you should wash up after you sweep the floor. Next stop: burger king. Where the burgers are made in the microwave. The best they can say about their 'flame-broiled' (last week) patty is that it's 100% beef. They were out of diet coke. Next stop: pretzel place, to buy a diet coke. They only take cash (my conpany requires using the corporate card). I'm probably just extra grumpy because burger king was out of pickles, and didn't tell me so until after they gave me my microwaved cheeseburger. Burgers without pickles are a 100% bad idea.

Monday, August 18, 2008

BIG Breakthrough for the Traveling Mom

WE TALKED ON THE PHONE!

No, I don't mean I had some sort of wierd mom's meeting on a party line or anything. I mean e-baby and I talked on the phone! I'm in Philadelphia (AGAIN?!), by the way. Anyhow, we chatted, she told me about her day, I sang some songs, she said she missed me, I said I love her, she said she loved me too, she said she did NOT want to take a bath, that she drank milk from a white cup and water from a purple cup, and at the end she said "Night night" and "Bye-bye!"

The last time I traveled and spoke to her on the phone was in March, and she threw a complete hissyfit. Hearing mommy's voice and not seeing her? It was devastating. But for the past couple of months, she has been practicing talking on the phone with my parents in the evenings, and they sing her favorite songs to her, and chat about stuff. She has spoken to SNG a few times as well, and it's getting more and more "real" for her each time. So we decided to take a chance and let her call mommy on this trip.

Now, for all I know, she threw a fit after we hung up. I have to wait and hear the final report from SNG. But so far I am really happy. This might represent a new era of traveling without my babygirl-- she has a way to know that I didn't just up and abandon her. It's a great feeling.

Not that I want to travel any more than I already do.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Apartment Living for Grown-Ups

The last time SNG and I lived in an apartment was my first semester of grad school. We had a 2-br place with roaches and avocado green appliances to match the green pool that one of the residents liked to swim in naked. That wasn't the neighbor who sold drugs to the neighborhood teenagers-- it was the other guy with the VW bus. I loved that neighborhood. We were next door to a boutiquey grocery store and one of the fanciest restaurants in town.

With this renovation coming up, there will be strangers tromping in a out between 7am and 6pm every weekday. Big fun. So today we found an apartment nearby that'll allow a 3-month lease. We can't move in until 2-3 weeks after the work starts, so we'll stay in our house and then move out. I really like the apartment. It's a gigantic complex, but it seems very community-ish. There are 2 clubhouses with pools, amenities I couldn't care less about (tennis courts, putting greens, tanning beds), and some really nice amenities (a private movie theatre, wireless access in the clubhouse, playground, free cable and washer dryer in all units).

If the house isn't finished by the end of our lease, we'll go move in with Peace and Fuzzy for a little while. They're so nice that they have offered to let us stay with them for the entire time, but as cute as e-baby is most of the time, I don't think I need to subject their generous charity to her (once or twice daily) full-blown, screaming for 20 minutes, temper tantrums. I'd gladly subject them to that for a week or 2, but three months might put a strain on an otherwise unblemished friendship.

So I'm pretty excited about the new place. It's really close to our house and my work. It's also a little bit closer to SNG's work. E-baby is crazy about the little golf cart they have at the leasing office, so I'm sure she'll love living there too. And the best thing about being a gainfully employed grown-up: you don't pay a security deposit on apartments. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's like you don't blog for 2 weeks and all of a sudden

I am finding more to talk about this week.

We got more pictures of the sprout today. Cute little nose, little chin, little kidneys. This was an early (13 week) screen for chromosomal problems, such as Down's and others with trisomy-xyz names. Based on the ultrasound all looks great. I'll have to wait a week to find out about the bloodwork. It's funny how just having a test for something can make you worry that it'll be positive.

This evening I handed over our new renovation drawings to the builder (and Scoop, Muck & Dizzy) who said that if SNG can demolish the rear deck by Aug 24, work can start possibly the next day. About a week after that, they'll start work inside, which means major disruption to daily life, but hopefully they'll finish before Christmas. I'd love to have that week off work to decorate the new spaces. I'm not sure what we'll do-- stay here, move in with Peace and Fuzzy, get our own place, combination of all three--but we'd probably better decide soon.

Next week I'm back on the road (Philadelphia) and the week after as well (Chicago). SNG and e-baby will have lots of pizza.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creepy Preschool Television

SNG decided to let e-baby watch some TV today, and he was getting tired of Signing Time and Bob the Builder. So he tried some new stuff from the preschool on demand channel: Blue's Clues (cute show, but, meh) and then BoohBah. Have you ever seen BoohBah? I am horrified. There are slasher films that leave me feeling warmer and fuzzier than this show. It is definitely the creepiest thing going in children's TV. E-baby got lost in the infantile acid trip train wreck before I insisted that SNG turn it off. For my own mental well being.

Update on Us

* My cousin Partner In Crime and her family have officially moved to Raleigh! Hooray! They are getting settled into the new house, and c-baby will probably have a dozen new playmates by the week's end. Let's hope she gets back to sleeping normally by then, too.
* As though Mother Nature wanted to send out a special welcome to PIC and co., we had a cool front pass through over the weekend. At 8am today, with clear blue skies, it was 59 degrees. When we have lows in the 50s in mid-August, I am reminded the REAL reason we left Texas.
* I booked our plane ticket and hotel for Fish's wedding in November. And I got a hotel with a 2-room suite for a paultry 50,000 Hilton points. On the phone with the reservation agent, she said, "Hmmm. Halloween in Covington, huh?" and she really liked the idea of a Halloween wedding. But it's an All Saints Day wedding. Still, maybe the guests can go in costume anyway?
* We got the drawings for our renovation! There are still a few edits to make, but we have more than enough to get the permit, which means work can start as soon as the builders (and Scoop, Muck, and Dizzy) are ready.
* To help with moving out of the house while construction is going, we've found temporary foster homes for some of our bigger furniture. SNG had a brilliant idea to have the living room sofa, 2 chairs, and 2 ottomans re-cushioned and upholstered, and have the dining room chairs tightened and the webbing/seat cushions replaced. I found an upholsterer for the former, and an antique expert for the latter.
* Tomorrow we get new pictures of the sprout. 13 weeks down, 27 to go. That sounds a lot worse looking at it in print.

If anything else is going on, I've forgotten it. Oh, I wore a maternity shirt to work for the first time today. I don't need to yet, but when else will I get to wear all those cute, sleeveless shirts if I don't wear them in the summer? And when else can you get away with wearing a bright pink sleeveless babydoll, empire-waisted shirt with flowerly eyelets than when you're preggers?

Friday, August 8, 2008

TV+INTERNET+PHONE = COMMUNIST CABLE COMPANY

With more than a little trepidation, I am working from home this afternoon to let the cable guy in. To switch our phones to cable. There are two reasons we're making the change: the local service is cheaper, and the long distance is free.

I have blocked the move for a long time for reasons of my own. The first is just that I've never liked the idea of having EVERYTHING in our house dependent on the same power source. In our neighborhood there are no natural gas lines, so our hot water and heating are on electric. The cell phones are on local towers, which have generators, but could go out in an outage. For reasons I don't really understand, the phone lines and the power lines are orthogonal, where outages are concerned. I've never seen both go out at the same time. Cable, however, does seem to be tied to electricity. Oh, and we live in the woods, several miles on foot from the nearest store or the hospital. With a lot of trees. Trees that break and fall in ice storms, putting the power out. I'd feel like a castaway if it were January and the power went out and our cell phones eventually ran down to no battery life and you get the idea.

Another reason I have hesitated to switch to all cable all the time is Time Warner's customer service. It's not that they're rude, or even incompetent. They're just ridiculously, unbelievably SLOW. The fastest I've ever reached a human on their lines was 5 minutes, but usually it's between 15 and 30. I once waited almost an hour. To talk to someone. Add another hour on the phone, 3 more people, a 4-hour appointment for a technician, and a drive to the local cable office to actually solve the problem. I've never had that trouble with the phone company. Probably because our phone has *never* gone out as long as we've lived in NC.

But, we're dumping a total of about $70 a month on local and long distance phone service, versus a 2-year locked-in rate of about $30 for the cable. SNG and I have promised each other a generator for 3 years now, and maybe this is the year we'll actually buy one. Or not, since we haven't had an ice storm in 4 years anyway.

I know that I'll hurl curses in the air again and again over Time Warner Cable's horrendously slow customer service, but in the meantime we'll sock away the cost of 2 pizzas at Lily's a month and maybe that'll be worth it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who that? What this? Where that? How do that?

We have officially entered the toddler-twenty-questions phase. Sometimes it's cute. Sometimes it drives me up the freaking wall. Every person and animal must have a name, in e-baby world. So, that random child in the crowd, in the background picture of a book?
"Who dat?"
"That's a little boy."
"What's dat little boy's name?"
"I don't know."
"What's dat little boy's name?"
"I really don't know, sweetheart."
"What's dat little boy's name, mommy?"
"Babylamb, he's just some little boy taking a walk with his mommy."
"What's dat little boy's mommy's name?"
"Mommy"
"What's dat little boy's name?"
"Sammy."
(pointing at a dog on other side of the page)"Who dat?"

Besides the 20-questions, E-baby is getting better at singing songs, and blew my mind by singing the entire ABC song from "A" to "Sing with Me" last week. OK, she skipped "s" but otherwise it was spot-on.

In the next few months she'll be moving up to the 2-year old class. I'll be glad, because she has definitely outgrown this group. She's the next thing to a T.A. in that room of one-year-olds. The 2-year-old class will present new challenges and I'm excited to see what that will bring. The main thing on my mind is potty training. After potty training comes... the big girl bed! And after that, who knows? Driver's license? Part-time job?

As if to prove my point, after her bath this evening, she was frustrated that SNG and I were talking and not really watching her shenanigans, so she got right in front of me (I was sitting on the floor), put her hands on either side of my face, leaned in and said, so quietly,
"Mommy. Listen to my voice. Mommy, listen to my words." Followed by an intense now, are you paying attention? gaze. Aaaaaand, then more Bob the Builder theme song.

Yes ma'am. You do know how take charge of the situation.

Here are the Marquette pictures. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up for Air

No, we haven't fallen off the planet or moved into a cave following that big announcement. But we did leave for a week's vacation the day after posting the picture. We were in Marquette at the camp on lake Superior with no TV, phone, or internet access. Well, we did have cell phones. But mine stayed mostly off. It was great. Fuzzy and SNG drove there with DOTi the dog and the kayaks, while Peace, e-baby and I flew in grand style. Now before you say I'm a wuss for flying, the alternative would have been a rented Ford Econoline, pulling a trailer and guzzling gas for 2 days' driving with a fidgety almost-2-year-old and a nervous dog who doesn't quite trust knee-high humans. OK, now you can say I'm a wuss. But I'm a happy wuss.

I'll post more with pictures later. I just wanted to put my head above the waterline to say hello. Hello!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Improvement Project Unofficial Start

To do our big renovation, the builders will have to tear down the back deck. To tear down the back deck, we need to move the kayaks (who currently reside under the deck with a small colony of green tree frogs who will also have to be displaced. I hope they mingle well with the Shed Frog Colony or the Wheelbarrow Frog Colony). To move the kayaks, we need a place for them to go (the Wheelbarrow Frog Colony won't have them) and a natural choice is hanging from the ceiling of the garage. But to do that, we have to replace our old, perfectly functional albeit COMPLETELY jerry-rigged garage door opener which spans the entire length of the garage ceiling to bypass a poorly-placed roof beam with one that costs 5x more and resides compactly alongside the shaft that opens the door, with a total footprint of 0 space on the ceiling and about 1/2 sq ft on the wall. With the garage door opener installed, the ceiling in the garage is cleared with enough space for 2 kayaks (and one more bike! Tiny, tiny, Colnago- come to me!). Then the demolition can begin on the deck. After that, the new section of house can be built.

Yesterday, we got the new garage door opener installed. We still don't have final drawings or even a building permit, but we have a home for the kayaks. Let the project begin! (so that it can end!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

E-baby Stories-- You've been warned

I haven't kept up with blogging very well lately, and partly it's because most of my time is spent between work, sleep, and e-baby/SNG shenanigans. Anything else gets about 2-3% of my time so yeah, there's not much to say about other stuff. And e-baby stories have tapered off partly because things change so fast that something remarkable one day is replaced by something remarkable the next day and the formerly remarkable becomes mundane. The other problem with all the funny stories now is that almost all of them are You Had To Be Theres.

Still, there have been a few storyteller-worthy moments in the last few weeks that I'll take a crack at conveying with some structural integrity.

* The girl loves to sing. She's been able to start up songs for awhile, but now she's getting to where she'll sing an entire song or at least an entire verse, where before she'd just sing the first line. In the car on the way to the grocery the other day, she sang two verses of Old McDonald to herself: cows and horses, because we pass cattle and horse fields on the way to the grocery. She also likes to sing the ABC song, ring around the roses, Baa Baa black sheep, I'm a little teapot (my least favorite children's song, BTW), night-night baby... None of the others are as complete as Old McDonald, though.

* The daycare teacher told me this story yesterday. Everyone was playing around, getting ready for group story time. E-baby picked up a weeble (one of those tiny wobbly little people dolls) and held him up on her hand-stage, and announced (FULL volume), "Good morning, boys and girls! And here's Reese, and here's Abbie, and here's Skyler, and here's Adam, and here's Kathy, ..." The teacher fell over laughing because that's exactly how she starts group time. E-baby just saved her the trouble this time.

* I'm trying to teach her about talking to people on the phone, and had a great opportunity this evening. We were playing with a toy telephone, and e-baby asked to call Granddad ("Din-dad"). She wanted to hear him sing the ABC song. So I got on the cell phone, called Granddad, put him and Tuti on speaker phone and they serenaded her with her favorite tune. She LOVED it and asked for more. When she understands the phone, it might make some of my business travel easier.

* E-baby picks out her own outfits almost every day now. She'll get mad if I try to pick out her clothes, so we've had to talk about what matches and what doesn't. She's actually really good at picking things that match, although once in awhile she puts a hot pink t-shirt with cammo shorts and silver shoes.

It's not all puppies and daisies. Along with all this independence comes temper tantrums like never before. Most mornings I drop her at daycare without shoes on, because she'll kick them off in a rage. But it's more fun than trauma, and it's just impossible to keep up with all the great stories without occasionally blogging about them.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wheee!


We've been all tied up in having fun with my parents, who have been here visiting since last Thursday a week ago. They'll head home Monday morning. From the minute they got here, e-baby was enamored with both of them; my mom and I seem to be interchangeable, and my dad is her own personal dancing bear.

I kept e-baby out of daycare and home with them Friday, Monday and Tuesday. By then, she asked to go back to school, so I sent her back on Wed and Thur, and she benefitted from the return to her routine. It's been a great visit, going to people's houses for dinner, having other people over for dinner, playing way too long and going to bed a little too late, visiting the children's museum, walking in the woods, biking, and only a few temper tantrums interrupting a good time.


That's all I got for now. See you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flip This House (But Don't Sell It)

When we bought this house 4 years ago, it was with the agreement that we'd eventually renovate it. The house was in the perfect location: walking distance from my office, walking distance from the state park and the state forest, lots of trees. We also liked the house itself, but it was too small. The living room is cramped, it's only 3 bedrooms. For a couple with no kids, it was really just about right. But we figured we might have kids someday, and if that ever happened, then we'd need more space.

Fast-forward a few years, and I feel like I'm living out of underbed storage bins and tripping over too-closely-spaced furniture. It is time. So we got a couple of estimates, got approval for a loan, and it looks like we're going to renovate this year! Hooray!

Here's the plan (with apologies if you've never seen my house, since this might not be easy to visualize without a floorplan).
First and most importantly-- the rear wall of the living room is going to be pushed back 10 feet, adding another 130 sq ft or so of living space. Yes, we'll lose the fabulous upper deck, but we will add onto the lower deck to make up the space. We'll also have a door on the left (close to where the back door is now) AND a door on the right which will both empty onto the new-and-improved lower deck, which will wrap around the rear of the house.

Second, we are closing up the elevator shaft. If you've seen my bedroom, you know what I'm talking about. Why would anyone want 2-story ceilings in the bedroom unless you have a 2-story wall of windows overlooking something beautiful to match? Which, by the way, we don't. So there will be a new room above our bedroom.

Third, we are doubling the width of the catwalk. This is something I'd never have even thought about before having a baby, but the number of times e-baby face-planted into one of the pickets while learning and crawl and walk, it was heartbreaking. The reason was that the catwalk is about 3 feet wide, so if she fell, regardless of which direction she fell, she had great odds of smacking her mouth into a pointy picket. By making the catwalk twice as wide, we will have a better play area up there (and we play on that catwalk a lot anyway). We'll also have a space to eventually put a couple of chairs and a side table as a reading loft. Sweet!

Finally, and here's what we're least certain about, another bathroom upstairs. It isn't a huge deal, but I don't like that our guests have to share the bathroom with Elmo's bath fizzies and 200 plastic bathtub toys. The first thought was to put a bathroom over the breakfast area (if you've been to my house, I'm talking about Kitchen Stadium-- no more Iron Chef murals, aw shucks). This would turn E-baby's room into a guest suite, and she'd move to what is currently the guest room. I like it, but here's the problem-- are we ever going to have another kid? If so, then we have one kid in a wee-tiny bedroom and the other in a gigantic luxury palace. Hardly seems fair. SNG's dad gave us the idea for a brilliant alternative-- put the bathroom (and a closet) in the FROG, and turn the FROG into a guest suite/office. The FROG is acoustically isolated from the rest of the house so it would be a nice, peaceful place to have a guest room. The room is already enormous so there's plenty of space to add a bathroom, and we wouldn't have to build new floor joists and such, so it's cheaper than the Kitchen Stadium plan, too. I'm still not entirely sure which to do, or even whether we really need another bathroom at all. It would certainly add to resale value, and it would be very practical. What do you think? As a potential visitor to my house, tell me your thoughts.

Oh, and as an aside, I thought I'd put a link to a post from when we bought this house, but for some reason, Blogger doesn't go back that far in its archives. Who knew?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Squawk!

I got home Thursday night, but late. There was a time when air travel was fun in itself, but now (and especially where the PHL airport is involved), it is just an exercise in careful hygeine and personal space management.
E-baby had her 2nd swim lesson which entailed a lot of dunking her underwater and floating on her back, both of which are really scary and upsetting to her. I think she still enjoyed swimming overall, but she was in no hurry to jump in her kiddie pool at home afterwards.
We went to a baby shower right after swimming, and as the only kid present, she was surprisingly well-behaved. I haven't seen her so laid back in a long time. As I might or might not have mentioned, girlfriend has an assertive personality and Strong Opinions. I might blame it on terrible two's, but this was all apparent really from birth, and moreso since she was about 13 months old. Her wrath is usually short-lived, since she is a reasonable kid as one-year-olds go, but boy-howdy she sure can get MAD.
Anyway, at the shower, she sat in my lap while I ate, she took a few polite sips of fruit punch (she's not a big fan, apparently) and then spotted the hostess' 200+ pound malamute. "Big doggie! Biiiiiig doggie! Big tail. Big back. Big teeth. Big eye." She pet the dog gently, the dog stood there quietly secure in the knowledge that he could eat anyone at the party if he really wanted to. As much as I love dogs, and this dog in particular, I was glad that the hostess kept her arm draped over the front end of the dog while e-baby pet him. I do the same even with small dogs.
After a nap, e-baby was ready to go shopping, so we hit the fabric store, BedBathAsSeenOnTV&Beyond, a sporting goods store, Old Navy, and Red Robin for dinner. All this fun in one day and the worst toddler acting out was when e-baby threw the mustard at daddy in a fit of rage over his inability to produce crayons out of thin air.
Oh, and I still don't have much of a voice. It's somewhere between a duck and a radio DJ. Thank goodness I'm not teaching next week.
Oh, I thought this was neat-- on Friday, e-baby counted four coins (one, two, three, four). Later she counted six goldfish. When she ran out of things to count, she looked at me and said "seven, eight, nine, ten!" The last I knew, she was stuck at counting to TWO! It's similar to the way she first started learning colors- she doesn't always hit the numbers in the right order, but sometimes she does and you can see she's struggling to remember the order that they go. Once she gets a few more numbers, we'll work on the Calculus.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A View of the Homecoming Suitcase

For your entertainment, here is a glimpse of one half of my suitcase, just before I come home from a trip.

Can you find:
2 gifts for kiddo
comfy shoes
snacks
coffee-- yeah, I buy coffee with my per diem. The stuff at hotels is dirt.
dirty clothes

By the time this post publishes, I should be on my way home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can you hear me NOW?

I am teaching a 3-day class in N Wales, PA this week, a.k.a. Boringsville. The students are terrific. Too bad I can't say the same for myself.

I flew in Monday, and had the beginning of a cold (thanks again, daycare- loveya!). What should have taken 3 hours from my house to the hotel in PA was really more like 12 hours. Thunderstorms in the NE meant everything was delayed. I got to the hotel after midnight and had to be at the site by 8am. Yes, it would have been faster to drive. I slept like a newborn-- as in, woke up every 45 minutes and wanted to cry a lot.

(Not much sleep) + (a cold) + (talking for 8 hours straight) = ... Well? Come on, you know this one. That's RIGHT! Laryngitis. By the end of the day I was sotto voce, and by this morning, I was completely mute. Thank goodness I've been studying sign language! Oh wait-- nobody ELSE knows sign language. Losers. The next person who asks if there's a reason we're whispering is gonna get the letter "S" right in the nose.

The only saving grace is that I do have the best colleagues IN the WORLD, and they scrambled to set up a live internet conference so that an instructor in NC could teach remotely on my behalf. I supplemented her lecture with some equations on the board, mostly so I'd have something to do. I drank a quart of green tea with honey and lemon every hour. What goes in must come out. It's been a rough day.

Still no voice tonight, and one more day of class to go. I am hoping that by morning, my voice will have magically returned. How long does laryngitis usually last?

If you don't feel sorry for me yet, here's one more: the only thing on HBO tonight was a Mr Bean movie. I've been known to slog through To Justin From Kelly in moments of lonely desperation while on the road, and I'm not proud. But even I won't sink as low as a Mr Bean movie.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Swimmin' Swimmin'


Happy father's day to SNG, to my dad, to SNG's dad, and to all the great dads who happen across this page.

The weekend started early on Friday, since I took a half-day to do some house-shopping for my cousin PIC. We went, we saw, and hopefully we conquered. I guess we'll know soon whether any of the places pass mustard, as they say back home.

Friday evening SNG's parents stayed the night on their way to Marquette, and e-baby had a marvelous time with her grandparents.

Saturday morning was e-baby's swim lesson.

Swim lesson: Kick!

And ever since, we've been unable to get her away from her kiddie pool except to get on the swing for a few minutes, and then it's back into the pool. We got her out last night with bribes of going to Peace and Fuzzy's house to see Doti the wonder dog, but first thing this morning it was back into the water. Good news- she finally understands that you DO NOT drink the pool water. Bad news- she has no qualms about pouring my glass of drinking water into the pool to make it cleaner. She has this cute little mantra of "Pool wawee for playing, no for drinking."


Lounging in the pool


Bailing out the pool with mommy's water glass

This frog is grateful for the new pool too.

This morning, though, we did get her to give up her pool ambitions long enough to mix two of her favorite things-- Bike & Shopping. SNG bought a cheap 2-kid bike trailer (that I'd never actually put my kid in) so that we could do our weekly grocery run en velo. It was great! I pull e-baby both ways. He totes the empty grocery trailer to the store, and totes home: grapes, apples, asparagus, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, 2 gal milk, 1 gal soymilk, 1/2 gal egg beaters, a 6-pack of soda, 2 kinds of lunchmeat, cheese, cookies, crackers, frozen waffles, and toothpaste. I might get the better overall workout, but he gets the POWER BLAST on those hills coming home. He said that it was enough weight that the downhill gravity bomb actually outweighed (heh) the wind drag. That's saying something.

And the trailer wasn't even full!! Now isn't that the best Father's Day ever?


I love you, SNG, and hope you had a great father's day weekend. E-baby says ILUBOO! DRIVE CAREFULLY! I WILL! HAPPY FATHER DAY DADDY!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Going to Work Now!

Backstory: Every time SNG leaves for work, I say, "Drive carefully!" and he always responds, "I will!" We've said it for 13 years now, so it's kind of a habit.

Last night e-baby and SNG were sitting at the kitchen counter eating dinner together and he offhandedly made a joke to her that she needed to get a job and go to work to earn some money. So, being e-baby, she climbed down from the barstool and said "I go work now! Bye-bye! Drive Carefully! I Will!" Then she wandered off to find her tiny suitcase, filled it up with stuffed animals, found her daddy's work badge, and by this time SNG was ready so he clipped it onto her shirt. She took her suitcase and stood by the front door saying, "Open? Open? Open, please! Open please! Open please! OOOPEEEN PLEEEEASE!!!"

I observed the whole thing from the kitchen and almost choked on my dinner from laughing so hard.

So SNG took her outside, where she demanded to get into the driver's seat of the RED car (NO BLUE CAR! RED CAR!) and pretended to drive to work. It was a tearful ordeal getting her out of the car and back into the house, 15 minutes later, from the 90+ degree heat.

I wish we'd caught the spontaneous bit on video, but that never happens, so we prodded her a little to tell the camera what she was up to after she'd been in the car awhile. Still, it's pretty funny to hear how she's changed her mind about going to work and decides she's "Shopping!" instead. I'm right there with you, babe.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wassup?

We had a GREAT time at the Joan of Arc day celebration. Pictures are here.

Over the last week we've been busy with several things...
We interviewed a builder about having some home renovations done. When we bought this house, it was because the neighborhood is perfect for us. The house is a bit small, though, and with a toddler rambling about, I'm feeling it. So it's time to have that extra bedroom added, add about 150 sq ft to the living room, and add another upstairs bathroom. Just having a guest bathroom that's not full of Elmo Bath Color Fizzies and a half-dozen plastic boats will be worth the money. The thought of moving into an apartment for 4-5 months doesn't appeal so much, but after it's finished this will be exactly the house we wanted when we first bought the place.

Thursday was a softball game. SNG did all my fielding, and I got to swing at the ball with the bat twice. I even hit it once, which was great, until someone caught it and I was out. Oh well, it was too hot for softball that day anyhow.

Friday night we went to dinner with Peace and Fuzzy, and Peace continues to be e-baby's number one favorite human. She is, however, second to Doti the wonder dog.

This morning, e-baby's second favorite human, the babysitter, came over so SNG and I could take a bike ride alone. Oh, and we got a new toy in the mail-- a second bike trailer for toting groceries! It isn't the finest trailer, but it was cheap and it's only gonna hold groceries, so ROCK!

And the BIGGEST news of all-- my cousin PIC might have sold her house!!! Which means they might be moving out here SOON! WOOOOOO! I won't say any more until she does, since I don't want to jinx anything.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Joan of Arc Party Today!

If you're in the neighborood, drop by for the big Joan of Arc bonfire this afternoon! If you're not in the neighborhood, then we'll think about you and wish you were here. We have hot dogs, veggie burgers, and s'mores fixings with CHOCOMALLOWS!

Last night Peace and Fuzzy came over for pre-bonfire effigy preparation, and now we have tiny paper effigies for the fire.

It is harder than you might expect to find a paper doll or 3-d model Joan of Arc that you can print for free from the web. Surprising, since you can find paper models of nearly everything and paper dolls of nearly everyone. The closest we could get to the French martyr was Paris Hilton and a cruise ship. I tried explaining that "Arc" doesn't refer to a boat, but SNG and Fuzzy were unconvinced.

I eventually found a simple B&W picture of Joan that we could turn into pillars. But we'll also burn Paris and her boat. We also have a long boat, a red convertible, and a wild boar (the one-page alternative to a 10-page paper model of a battle horse).

Edited to add:
I realized after posting this that not everyone shares or understands my & my friends' snarky and irreverent sense of humor, and it would be easy to mistakenly believe that we burn Joan of Arc effigies in celebration of her murder. In fact, quite the opposite is true. She is and has long been one of my heroes, and I am happy to have a way to remember her strong fighting spirit with friends and loved ones. And it's fun to burn stuff.

Paris Hilton, on the other hand, well, you can read into that whatever you feel like.

Friday, May 30, 2008

So PC is Going THAT Way Now, Eh?

There have been a few prominent headlines recently that have me thinking about political correctness. These headlines are prompted by the same demographic who get so self-righteous about wanting to display jingoist crucifix-on-stars-and-stripes-background or the Rebel flag flown proudly in front of govt buildings, or the ten commandments in a courtroom. The battle cry is something like "All this PC bulls&*t! Damn those PC people!" Not that I care if someone wants to put a rebel flag, or Calvin peeing on a Ford, or naked-lady silhouettes on their mudflaps. Whatev, I am a bigger fan of individual liberties than I am an un-fan of little boys peeing on pickup trucks. But some of those instances can cause an entire segment of the population to feel marginalized by the very body that is supposed to represent them.

But how can this be considered anything other than PC bulls&*t? Or, even better, this? Come ON, it's PAISLEY! Next we'll be boycotting the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.

The irony is delicious and bitter, like a good espresso.

Thanks to roving reporter SNG, who apparently only gets his local news from abroad, for the links.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Recap, Redux

We decided to try something different for our road trip to New bern over the holiday weekend. Instead of leaving work early and driving through nap time, or going after work and driving during dinnertime or waiting until Saturday morning and driving during morning playtime, we decided to treat Friday night like any other night, have dinner, give e-baby a bath, put her in some jammies, and around her bedtime, load up into the car for a 2 1/2 hour drive. The idea was that we'd arrive in NB, quietly unload her little sleeping self from the dark car, carry her up the dark stairs, into a quiet dark room, put her into a crib, and she'd be asleep for the rest of the night.

It seemed like a good idea at the time! The drive was a refreshing nap. She was up until 1:30.

Other than being a little picky about who was allowed to look at her, or touch her toys, or speak to her, e-baby had a good time. The antisocial behavior is best explained by this weird uber-mommy-centric phase she's going through right now. Add to that the farigue of recovering from pneumonia, and voila, you have "Do not dare to gaze directly upon the baby-queen! Or her dinner!" With 2 kitties to torment (who gave her the same lukewarm reception she was giving her extended family), and a dog to play with (who was SO HAPPY to have a toddler to lick) things would have been fun enough. But add to all that excitement: e-baby went on her first boat ride! She rode in SNG's kayak, then on Granny's Big Boat, and then the next day in my kayak. So really, she went on her first three boat rides.

Here are pictures.
Here are some more random pictures for May.

The drive home was during nap time. All is peaceful in the e-baby empire.

I need to blog. Soon.

We spent Memorial Day weekend in New Bern having a WONDERFUL time. I have pictures. I will post them soon. There's a big deadline at work that can't be missed. Gotta run. Bye!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heaven and Hell Sunday

First, the Hell:
Sunday I performed the annual harvest of the Poison Ivy crop, front and back yard. Ordinarily, all yard work is SNG's problem, but he gets special dispensation from activities involving poison ivy as he inevitably ends up needing rounds of steroid shots followed by a course of oral steroids to counteract the weeping, bleeding, oozing mounds of red, blistered flesh (external and internal). I (knock wood) have never had more than 2 or 3 itchy little blisters, and those might have been ant bites. So I get to do the annual harvest all alone.

In spite of my apparent lack of Ivy allergy, I still wear gloves, a full Tyvek suit with legs tucked into my socks, and a hat. You just never know when an allergy will decide to form. I harvested one leaf-bag full of the stuff, sprayed Ivy killer on whatever I couldn't uproot properly, and threw everything-- Ivy, gloves, socks, Tyvek suit-- into the outside trash can where SNG can't eat it or roll around on it.

And now, the Heaven:
As a reward for my efforts, I made petit fors. Inside-- paper-thin yellow cake layers with red currant jam in between. Outside-- the darkest dark chocolate ganache you've ever seen.



Somebody got to lick the icing spreader:

The recipe was met with full approval from the critics.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ode to a Cheap Bike

Decaled with cool words like Spinner, Aluminum Alloy, and Trailhead that are certain to clinch your reputation as the raddest, baddest thrasher on the paved suburban bike path, my chemical-green Mommy Bike is back in play after a season in the shed waiting to get new cables. This is the bike I bought so that I'd have something permanently on campus for making quick trips to the day care or meetings in buildings more than 1/2-mile away. It was the cheapest thing REI had that could still really be called a mountain bike, and it is specifically designed for women between 5'0" and 5'3"-- so it might actually be the first bike I've ever owned that is small enough. It is certainly the first single bike I've ever owned that lets me stand over the top tube without having to leave a foot on a pedal (or stand tippy-toe). The tandem lets me do that, but it is a Bike Friday, which means that even e-baby has standover clearance.

Last fall, after almost a year in the sun, rain, freezing cold, and burning heat of the bike rack outside my building, I realized that the cables housings had all but dissolved off the cables, which were rusting and falling apart. It took another six months to get around to dropping it at the bike shop, and another two or three weeks to get around to dropping it back at work. So when e-baby fell asleep this afternoon in her bed, I rode up to drop it off. It is a beautiful day today, so I took a long route through the state park to get there, doubling back after a couple of miles just to have the honeysuckle breeze up my nose a little longer. I left the bike locked to the rack next to the dumpsters outside my building* to endure another year of weather, and jogged home. I have to say that when you're not transporting a baby (trailer or jogger), riding a bike is still a MILLION times more fun than running.

If I had the chance to get back just one thing from my pre-baby life, it would be the freedom to ride 150 miles a week without pulling a 70-pound trailer.


* It is funny that bike racks are usually placed in positions of such status. But I'll tolerate the dumpster smell with the smug knowledge that I have a closer parking space than anyone else.