Thursday, September 28, 2006

Names take two

Last night after a few weeks absence from names discussions AB and I delved back into it pretty hardcore. I mentioned previously that we have trouble with names. This has lead to some interesting discussions, like one from last night (no offense meant, of course):

AB: How about X?
NM: That is so white trash.
AB: Now why would you say that?
NM: It’s a name on Days of our Lives!
AB: And you know this because?
NM: Oh yeah. Point taken, I did live in a trailer house until I was four!

or this one:

AB: How about Abigail Beatrix?
NM: Now where in the world did that come from?
AB: The initials would be A.B.C.!
NM: (rolling my eyes)

And when they aren’t so funny, they can be downright frustrating. Who knew that two people who love each other so much would have such a hard time agreeing.

Leif’s name fits him so well I can’t even imagine his name being the other options we talked about. Among them Lars, Nathaniel and Joshua. So maybe Nathaniel and Joshua would work for him, but he isn’t a Lars to me. Of course, conventional wisdom says well if you liked those names the first time around, why not toss them in for round two? I still like the name Lars, so does AB, but he has a set of second cousins named Leif and Lars. It is one thing to have a same name in a family, quite another to name two sets of brothers in the same family the same names. We just can’t do it. Nathaniel and Joshua have been ruled out because now that we have started down the road with Scandinavian sounding names, it is hard to jump over to a traditional name. It just doesn’t fit with Leif.

Each gender has a different set of issues with us. Let’s start with boy’s names since I mentioned the above. We just plain don’t agree. This was the case with Leif too, we did finally come up with those four boys names and then I think I was the one who pushed for Leif. I am not sure we were even 100% sold on Leif when he was born, but then I called him Leif after he was born. AB has always said he was happy with that decision and I believe him. I have a list of wonderful Scandinavian boy’s names that I love, most have been ruled out by AB. (I am delving into my sacred list now… per our conversation last night, these names are no longer in the running.)

Zapped from my list are Sven, Tayte, Ari and Stefan. On AB’s sacred list we have ruled out Rolf. (See who is giving more??) I know AB loved Rolf, but as someone who spent 5 years in speech therapy struggling with “R’s” and specifically “ro” sounds, this name just doesn’t fly. I have to think too much when I say it. I can already hear myself being mad and yelling, “Walf!” and my child looking at me, pointing and laughing. Then everytime someone didn’t understand it I would worry that my speech impediments were coming back.

As of last night we have one name that we both like (from my list) and then two more, one that AB really likes and one that I really like. Both of those names are acceptable options to the other person. This means we are very nearly sold on a boy’s name unless something else pops up.

Enter the next biggest complication with boy’s names. Middle names. AB and I both like the idea of using family names for middle names. Since they are family names I don’t have a problem sharing them because my family that reads my blog will immediately know what the names are, so I will post our choices here. Leif’s middle name is John after my FIL. My FIL’s name was going to be used in some fashion in Leif’s name per AB’s request, and I had no problem with this. I suppose it is only fair then that my family be honored this time around. I want this, AB is offering it. But I cannot come up with a family name that I really, really like. No offense meant to anyone!

My first choice is my grandfather’s middle name, Lemuel, which very nearly makes AB vomit. He tells me it reminds him of a small rodent. (Eye roll.) My father’s middle name, Warren, is an obvious choice if it weren’t one of those names with too many r’s in it that causes me angst when I have to speak it. I have a coworker named Warren and I avoid speaking his first name at all costs. My maiden name is an option, but it does NOT go with our leading first name. Right now the leader of the pack is my great grandfather’s first name Albert (also my great great uncle’s first name). I like that name. He died when I was very young and so I never knew him, but I did know my Uncle Bud (Albert).

I don’t have a huge family to select from, and when you start ruling out names of those people who fall under the category of “there is no way in hell I am naming my child after you”, well the list becomes even smaller. I am considering, if this child is a boy and Albert doesn’t go well with the first name, kicking the middle name back over to AB’s side of the family or departing from the family name tradition. Help?

Girls… The set of issues with girls is far different then boys. With girls there are too many names we really, really like. We agree on nearly everything. Well most everything. I have three names that were always among my favorites which AB ruled out the first time around had Leif been a girl, Anna, Alice and Astrid. I suppose I am drawn to “A” names. I may have to pull these back out if we have #3 and AB is really deadset on A.B.C. initials. (Dork.)

Elin and Astrid (who made my list again) were removed from my sacred list last night. Abigail from AB’s list. I have three left on my sacred list. One that we both really love, but AB’s hesitation on it is that a number of women in his extended family (two or three) are named this. It is his great grandmother’s name. I get this concern, but I still love the name. The other name is an L name. We love it but it poses a problem that with our chosen middle name, our daughter would have the same initials as our son, L.J.C. Is this hokey?

Given that we agree on names, our decision is not a whole lot easier. See AB has this name that he loves. I mean, really, really feels strongly about naming our daughter this name. I like the name. It isn’t on my sacred list, but I really like it. In fact, I had given in on this particular name when I was pregnant with Leif had he been a girl. The name holds a lot of meaning for AB and I in our relationship. Here is what kills me, it fails the Supreme Court test. You know, can you see someone on the Supreme Court with this name? I cannot. AB likes to remind me that there are CEO’s named Bunny (NOT the name)… or maybe it was there was ONE CEO named Bunny at some point, he can’t remember.

I worry that my daughter won’t be taken seriously with this name. As a woman in a male dominated field, being taken seriously is very important to me. AB thinks I am being ridiculous. The name is one that I would put with a sports star, or an actress, or singer. The name is different, it isn’t one that I have ever seen in a name book or on a name website, it isn’t on the social security website, it isn’t anywhere one typically looks for names. It isn’t made up, in fact, it goes back to ancient mythological times. I want this name for my daughter, but I worry. I worry that some white haired old man will look at her resume someday and scoff at her name and toss it away.

Is my worry unfounded? Are there enough different names nowadays that this one that is a touch “out there” won’t raise an eyebrow?

I am very close to once again, giving in. The thought of denying my husband something that he really, really wants when I (for the most part) picked our son’s name and will give her middle name to her, just kills me. Oh yeah, if a girl, her middle name will be Jeanne (pronounced Jean), the same as mine, my mom’s, my grandmother’s, my great grandmother’s… If she hates her name she can always do as my grandmother (Shirley Jeanne) has done and go by Jeanne. Any words of wisdom on this?

(I know it would be far easier if I divulged the name. But I am a big meany like that and not going to.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update Day

Otherwise known as boring blog day.

Potty Training: I have backed off for a little while (who am I kidding, backed off… I never put the heat on). Leif was sick last weekend. I love the age of language, actually hearing your child say “ear hurts” is so much more efficient. A quick trip to the Urgent Care at 7pm Friday night, our favorite broad base antibiotic 30 minutes later after $15 and a quick peak by our favorite Urgent Care doc.

Suffice it to say, antibiotics and potty training? Just not a good idea. Even though I have decided to give it some time, Leif hasn’t. He still goes about 50% of the time both at home and at daycare. He is still doing this on his own, often without telling us. Suddenly it dawns on AB and I, “where’s Leif?” Sure enough, in sitting on the potty with a poopy diaper on the floor. Lovely. Oh well, it is part of the learning process.

He will finish up his antibiotic this weekend. The weekend after this coming one we are traveling so I won’t push it then either.

Mice: Three as of this morning. I truly hate killing them. I told AB he had to deal with the mousetraps, because I just wouldn’t. After mouse number one I really hoped that was it. After AB got rid of the one he admitted that he was having a hard time with that, admitted that they really are cute little things. But the fact that they are getting into my dried goods and leaving their little droppings all over my canned goods, they have to go. I have fears of Hanta virus and will be buying a face mask to clean up the droppings when our traps quit filling.

Leif in general: He is doing great! He is very opinionated and can be pretty bossy. Today his teacher told AB that he is really starting to talk in full sentences suddenly. I have noticed this just a little. Evidently today someone threw something and Leif yelled, “Don’t throw that, it can hurt!” Gee, I wonder where he has heard that before…

Miscellaneous: I officially started my Christmas shopping today and am ultra-thrilled about that. I love Christmas and can’t wait to start decorating. I will have my warm up decorating with Halloween, then pull down the scary things, leave the fall things for Thanksgiving, and then I get to dig into the big prize, Christmas decorations! Last year I hit the after Christmas sales hard at Target and at a few stores online. I got some major scores, two sets of silver chargers for like $4 each (AB doesn’t "get" them and still moans every time he has to move the boxes in the utility room cupboard, but he will appreciate their beauty, I will make him appreciate them.) I got some decorations from Pottery Barn that I not so secretly coveted with V… I think between the two of us we nearly bought their stock on clearance.

During my online shopping foray I was surprised to find that TRU is no longer Amazon affiliated. I am an Amazon addict, so I am disappointed to hear that I have to go to another website for toys now. And most of my disappointment is in seeing that Amazon’s toy selection has subsequently taken a nosedive. I took advantage of the buy two get the third free sale on GeoTrax at TRU for my train obsessed little boy. He has finally found “his” toy. He will play with the GeoTrax every night and most mornings before we leave. I think AB and I are as anxious about adding to the set. We like it almost as much as Leif does.

I also gave in and bought the Little People Christmas Story set. This will be our in utero baby’s first Christmas present since well, it would be totally lost on Leif. Not the story of Christmas. Last year he loved the Advent calendar and we have been talking about Jesus and God. (We have this Advent calendar if you are interested… ) I do plan on opening the Little People set early and if Leif wants to play with it, he can, but I don’t expect he will, other than to put Baby Jesus on one of the train cars and haul him around the train track.

Things are good here. Two more days of the fiscal year left. I suffered a major setback on my deliverable for my main project thanks to a mechanical engineer with little vacuum experience and my not checking every single little detail. Actually it was something I debated with him, but I really should have just put my foot down and said, “I feel more comfortable using these components I am used to, this is what we are going to do.” It doesn’t really matter, the report says the unit is complete, it really is very close to complete and we have money to continue working come October 2 to tide us over until our year two funds arrive in January. Most of the headache comes in that I really need to sit down with my mechanical engineer and explain to him what went wrong with his design, just so it doesn’t happen again on another project.

We are really, really looking forward to heading off to the West side of the mountains for Oysterfest on October 6. I need some R&R. Leif needs some grandparent time. Winny needs some fresh seawater air. Four (ofr five) days of life in a cabin with grandparents. I am looking forward to cooking with my mom, beachcombing (since I grew up in the mountain states, the seashores never cease to amaze me), clamming, BBQ’ing some oysters on the beach, and sitting around playing Mexican Train Dominoes each night. 9 days and counting!

Monday, September 25, 2006

My son, no apparent relationship to me

Sunday Leif and I made Halloween cut out cookies. He loved stirring and rolling and cutting them out (your typical pumpkin, ghost and Halloween rabbit), but was far less interested in decorating them. Apparently this was due to my tactical error in setting out chocolate chips to decorate the pumpkins. As soon as he discovered they were indeed chocolate, he was sold. And it was hard to keep ahead of him with putting the chips on.

Leif then complained in pulling the chips off the cookies that they were "messy" being coated with orange frosting and all. My poor child, having to wipe off orange frosting off your chocolate.

I sent one of Leif's special Halloween rabbits in his lunch to daycare today where he held it out for everyone to admire and told about decorating it to his table. He was apparently VERY proud of it. Then when he was finished with lunch, instead of noshing on his special cookie dessert, he threw it away.

His teacher pulled it out of the trash and told him he should eat his special cookie. "Nope," he replied, "no eat it rabbit cookie." And threw it back away.

Orson, Axel, Gunnhilde, or Thor?

Names have not surprisingly been a big topic of interest for me lately. Assigning a human being a name that will define them for the rest of their lives is a very daunting task. I envision a name that is classic, yet not too popular, of Scandinavian descent to honor our families common history. But along with that it has to be something that isn’t too confounding to most people. Of course, these requirements are not the same ones my husband has, but that is a story for later.

As we watch TV at night I watch as names scroll by in the credits, or listen for unique names (not uneek names, unique as in less common). Last night we were watching Desperate Housewives (busted) when I heard a new name, “Orson”. AB said, “there’s a name you don’t often hear” and started naming off the Orsons he knew of, Orson Welles, Orson Scott Card. Let’s compare how NM’s brain works… “Mork calling Orson, come in Orson”. Now I am just incredibly annoyed that a likely major character on Desperate Housewives is named Orson because I am, every Sunday night from now until they kill him off, going to be sitting in front of my TV saying, “Mork calling Orson, come in Orson”. AB is thrilled.

Needless to say, this baby will not be Orson.

I have my list of possible names on a sticky note on my computer monitor. Five girl’s names and seven boy’s names. I look down the list everyday and like each name. They border on the classic with a little edginess to them thanks mostly to their somewhat foreign nature.

When I was a kid I watched and read Roots. It remains one of my favorite books of all times. One thing that struck me as a kid was Kunta Kinte being spoken his name first. I remember the scene of his father holding him up in the moonlight speaking his name to him, for the first time. It was a profound moment to me and I decided then and there that my children would hear their names in full first, before family and friends. This is also for practical reasons as well as this romantic image I had in my head. No one is going to criticize a baby’s name once named, at least not to the parent’s face. However, all bets are off if a name is announced beforehand.

Case in point… my grandmother has the most hideous handwriting ever. She was a nurse who should have been a physician. When I was born she wrote immediately to her family in California announcing the birth of her first grandbaby, a little girl weighing in at 8 lbs 12 oz named Axel. Not a single one of my even most obnoxious great aunts asked “Axel?” Instead the gifts and cards came pouring in to baby girl Axel, much to my mother’s surprise. Once my mom corrected the name then there was plenty of, “whew!” going on in California.

So basically what I am driving towards here is that this little post it note on my computer monitor… will remain a secret. There is only one person who reads my blog (that I know of) who could conceivably get a glimpse. And that would take a little (albeit not much) access wrangling. AB likes to remind me that the options are still just that, options. It isn’t THE name. And given the fact that most on my list are not on AB’s list, he is right. Still my list is sacred to me.

But I am open to receiving suggestions!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Houston we have poop

While in the midst of potty training us parents just can't help but share the intimate details of our children's bathroom experiences. I suppose we wear it like a badge of honor... one that says I must be doing something right! This, of course, might be repulsive to some. In which case, sorry, skip below the dashed line. Otherwise, bask in my sunshine with me.

I am still in shock. We were sitting at the dinner table tonight and Leif started to get up saying, "poopy potty". Of course we go running. AB cautiously pulls the diaper off... in instances like this he has usually already gone. No poop, so onto the toilet he goes.

A little later he arises and sure enough... there is poop! We had a little party in the bathroom, there was chocolate involved and much cheering.

AB is at class tonight and Leif and I were wrestling on the couch. Ok, he was jumping on me and I was trying to catch the flailing arms and legs keeping them from colliding with me. Leif stops suddenly and tells me potty! We hurry to the potty where he takes off his diaper all the while saying "my help" (meaning don't help me, "my help you" is my sign). And we had a potty!

This weekend we are going to attempt underwear while at home. I am not brave enough to venture out in public this way yet. We will take it in steps. First at home in underwear, then to daycare in underwear, then life as an underwear wearing little boy. Somebody hold me.


AB got a phone call today from the company he has been speaking with about a job in their lab as a chemist, or project manager, or whatever. Last week they asked him to write up a business plan, which he did... grudgingly and at the last minute it was due. They also asked for a salary request.

There was much hmm'ing over this. AB heard that they pay poorly, so he was hesitant to ask for much. Yet, the job isn't what he really wants, so why drop the number down? We finally settled on a number, a lofty one, with the thought if they are really interested they will counter offer. We also threw in a sentence asking for a week's vacation to start to accomodate the upcoming holidays. Then sent it off.

Today the company called him and told him that they had no problems with the salary request (!!!!), they really liked his business plan, they are not considering anyone else for the job, he can have the vacation he wants and they also work flex time, so if there is anything else coming up they can work around it... (like working the backroom at a particular wine judging).

AB was telling me all this and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. No offer yet, but they asked for permission to contact his references as well as a few of the clients from his former lab who he interacted with regularly. AB is not worried at all and is optimistic about an offer in the next few days.

Which also meant that he got busy and sent out a handful of resumes today. Just so if one of those "ideal" jobs calls him for an interview he can say "sorry I applied for the job before you offered me this job".

I could tell it in his voice all day, he is excited to go back to work. Even if it is in a chemistry lab. At least much of his job will be in business development and project management, and not as a lab grunt.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The great balancing act

This week has been really busy so far. Seven more business days until the fiasco that is fiscal year end is over. We should have a party. Oh yeah, they do that here, but I don’t actually want to go to it.

During these last few weeks on many projects the managers start rationing out hours or commiting people to a certain number of hours per week in order to meet spending goals. During the rest of the year this is a rarity. On my projects we have general commitments of X% of time a year and a task to complete. The micromanaging of FY end is annoying, but necessary I have come to learn. The good project managers manage without cutting their project staff, an end of the stick I have been on and that really sucks.

This morning I came in to a note from the PM for a project I had committed 12-15 hours a week until FY end to. He insisted that I make sure to get that many hours as he didn’t want to run a surplus. The e-mail was a panicked “STOP! No more charging!” He, of course, admitted that he knew he committed me to this, but had failed to continue checking his budget and nearly overran the project. Big no no. (Oh and a bad project manager move…)

What that does to me is suddenly affect how I am managing my hours towards both my personal time charging goals as well as affect other projects in a cascading type event whereby I need to find other places to spend time. It actually isn’t a problem for me this time around, amazingly enough. I have a project I have been sorely neglecting, wishing in some sort of way it would just go poof and waft away… it hasn’t. And I have to bump my hours up on my big project, which I need to do anyways to meet my year end deliverables. So alas, I have work to fill my time card.

So there is my work whine. Working as a government employee during the last two weeks of the fiscal year and through the likely continuing resolution that will ensue starting October 1 while we wait for the budget to be settled is a really unpleasant experience. Money to start on October 1, 2006 will arrive in sometime mid-January 2007 (just after 1st 2007 quarterly reports are due) whereby we will have still been expected to accomplish the same amount but with no money. And pushing our 12 month year into a mere 9 months. This leaves people scrambling for work starting October 1 since no money is actually available from the big clients until the budget is settled. Except for lucky people like me who have small lab projects that actually get fed on October 1. Then I will be hoarding my stash of three little projects, clinging to them with all my worth, swatting hands away like flies. I have layed out my vacation time for the next three months in anticipation for continuing resolution. I just need to keep my eye on the future and my necessity to ration my vacation time so that I have 6 days available come March… so I can supplement my STD and have 3 months off for maternity leave… paid. (Ah yes, I whine about the life of a government employee... we obviously have it very hard.)


So if you have stuck with me this long through the ramblings of life as a scientist, well then a reward. Leif’s daycare teacher told me a story this morning that both warmed my heart and made me insanely curious.

As Leif was falling asleep yesterday he mumbled to K about “mommy baby tummy”. Aww, the things I say at home DO sink in! K told him, “yes sweety, your mommy has a baby in her tummy and it will be either your sister or brother”. True to his routine thus far he replied to her “my sister”, then went on to mumble “mommy baby tummy, my sister” until he fell asleep.

Awww! I nearly teared up right there. Of course now curiosity has gotten the better of me and there is some little part of me that kind of wants to know what we are having, a girl or a boy. I love Christmas presents, I love anticipation, and I love driving my friends and family up the wall with not knowing. ;-) But Leif’s presence and seeming certainty on this subject adds an element of curiosity to things for me. Should we find out and then have 20 weeks to help him get used to the idea of a brother, should he just maybe be wrong? Should we find out just to satisfy my curiosity that maybe my child is really an oracle? Or go with our gut and not find out again because it is my little nugget at the end of labor hearing, “It’s a”? Yeah, I am pretty sure we will stick with the later, but it does have me thinking!

Potty training is going forward. Tonight we were cleaning up the kitchen and Leif went to the bathroom by himself without saying a word to us. He took off his diaper and then apparently realized the little stool wasn't there and it was in the other bathroom. (Note to self, BUY another stupid $6 stool from Target.) He ran across the house, grabbed it, ran back and climbed up, and as far as we could tell, he went! There was much clapping and hooraying and a request for "chocolate", which seems to be the motivating factor. Oh well, antioxidants I suppose... Bribery? I would never!


So I walked out to the pantry shelves in the garage this evening to retrieve a can of green *gag* beans. For Leif. I cannot stand the canned variety myself, but Leif adores them. I walked in the garage and turned on the light unsuspectingly enough and there it was. A little brown beady eyed little thing staring at me from the shelf. A mouse!

I screamed. This I am not proud of. I was scared, he surprised me. I am not afraid of mice. I have worked with mice both living, dead, and in parts at various points in my life. I am a scientist afterall. But this little guy standing in the midst of my food staring me down was enough to get my goat. AB came running (while Leif continued to play with the toaster unsupervised... rolling my eyes).

Tomorrow, mousetraps. Which I thoroughly hate the idea of. Maybe we should get a cat instead?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Leif funny for 9-15-06

It has cooled down drastically here the past few days. This morning there was rain. For shoes, Leif has his sandals or a cheap (ugly) pair of shoes we picked up at a second hand shop in a neighboring town while wine tasting early this summer… when we apparently left his shoes at home. Oops. They fit but are a touch tight. And did I mention they are fugly?

This morning I put socks on Leif and then his sandals telling myself we would get out to buy some new fall shoes this weekend. Leif was horrified.

“Socks sticking out!” he panicked and cried repeatedly as he sat down and set to removing the sandals. The sandals were not staying on his feet with socks.

I relented and put the fugly pair of shoes on his feet (with socks). This opposition to sandals with socks came from some influence other than his parents. I am a stuck in my ways, former grunge girl who has very nearly relinquished my Birks and wool socks. (“Very nearly” because I still maintain my grasp to the early 90’s in the confines of my house and in my yard.) AB?? Well his are just bad with no logical explanation... white athletic socks with his sandals despite my encouraging otherwise… sandals bug his heels.

Apparently Leif’s fashion sense is years ahead of ours.

Free of nearly free

Free or nearly free

I typed this title and it kind of makes me feel like my grandmother. My grandmother is 82 years old and is ALL about getting things for free. We talk every Sunday and I get the weekly rundown of every free thing she picked up. I am sure it is part depression era mentality… the other part, as my mom and I have discussed, is plain stinginess. Every week she weasles at least one free lunch out of somebody, it might be a relative, or the bank, or snacks brought in for the hospital pink ladies (where she wraps half of everything in a napkin and takes it home). I will be bold here and say it is downright embarrassing going out and about with her. It isn’t that she tries to enable others to get free things, nope if I take her out for lunch then that counts as free in her book. It is once we are there and she starts wrapping things in napkins and putting them in her purse, it’s not leaving a single drop of tea in the teapot when out for Chinese, it’s emptying the sugar packets into her purse. Last week she got a free MRI for her dog. Seriously.

I can’t really declare myself a bargain hunter. I have bargain hunting friends. And well, I don’t even measure up. I clip an occasional coupon, but most of the time forget to use them. I have my set of discount online outlet stores I use to find things like super high thread count and quality sheets, cute shoes, camping and outdoor gear, and versatile basic apparel. And I shop end of season sales seeking clothes for Leif (or me) for next year, holiday decorations for next year, and the like. I always tell myself not to pay retail, but there are certain things that don’t fit in there. Like shoes that I will wear day in and out. I am a shoe whore and I love cute unique shoes. However, those shoes I wear day in and out to work? Yeah well I resign to pay retail for my Danskos to get the newest styles and colors. Froo froos? I will buy on sale. Leif’s shoes are another… my kid is not going to wear poor quality shoes. If I can find them on sale, well bonus. But if I can’t, so be it.

Nearly anything I buy for AB is on sale. Double standard? Nope, if I can tell him that I saved 60% on this shirt for him, then I am nearly guaranteed he will like the shirt. Retail? You mean you didn’t get this on sale? And it is guaranteed to sit in the back of the closet.

I learned a lesson today. I really, really need to pay better attention to rewards type programs. For weeks now I have been stressing over plane tickets to Colorado for Christmas. Yes, yes, we will once again be traveling over the holidays. There is the part of me that sighs with disappointment at another Christmas away from home. And the other part that is happy dancing about a trip to see my family and where there will be much after Christmas shopping at nice stores (and thus bargains) for my birthday.

AB and I have frequent flier miles with a few airlines and a mileage rewards card. I have always been a huge skeptic of these mileage reward cards. You have to spend so much, the interest rate is high and an annual fee. I remember telling AB they just weren’t worth it. But for some reason he succumbed and got one anyway with Alaska Airlines, which we do fly regularly and are both mileage plan members. Fast forward to today.

Distressed at how much it was going to cost us to fly to Colorado for the holidays, I called the mileage card to see if we have a companion voucher for this year still since pregnancy brain was preventing me from remembering when we last used one. I thought at least maybe I can get Leif to Colorado for $50. They sent me to the Alaska Airlines website where I registered and our status popped up. Not only do I have a companion voucher that expires in a few days (meaning we get another in just a few more days), but our miles balance was far more than I ever imagined!

Bargain city! We are flying to Colorado, all three of us, for barely more than it costs for one of us to fly there. One mileage ticket, one regular price ticket and a companion voucher later and I am on the phone bragging to AB about how I scored. (He praised heartily.) And even better? After a few days we will get our new companion voucher and after Christmas we will certainly have enough miles that we can do it all over again. Dreams of a summer vacation to Alaska floated by AB’s head… Hawaii floated through mine.

I bragged on my score to my mom who was just joyous that we actually HAVE tickets for Christmas. Then I headed out to lunch. I debated and debated what to eat. Aside from Wendy’s baked potatoes and a Frosty, I have a serious aversion to fast food right now (pregnancy related). Which makes grabbing lunch out difficult. I was a little worried the girls at the drive up at Wendy’s would think me weird for getting a baked potato and Frosty three days in a row… so I decided to run into Safeway and grab a Panini. I hadn’t been there in ages, I went through the line, punched in my club card and wa-la. A free sandwich.

I took my sandwich and paused on my way out a little too long. Starbucks… and according to V (who is an official pusher and should be paid by Starbucks for her referrals)… pumpkin spiced lattes are back. I have been allowing myself one caffeinated beverage a day, usually a Pepsi. While pregnant with Leif I was so good and never drank caffeine. Something about pregnancy and parenting a toddler… yeah I need that caffeine. I indulged myself and celebrated my day of bargains with a half caf pumpkin spice latte. Incredible. Seriously the best nonalcoholic drink I have tasted in a LONG time. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t even get to bring it into my office. It was gone by the time I pulled up to my building.

So there it is. My bargain Friday. I feel as though I have aged nearly 50 years in posting this here. Please oh please, someone keep me from stuffing the dinner rolls in my purse tonight.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kids and clothes

My MIL has been visiting this week. She arrived on Tuesday and will depart on Monday. I have spent most of the time working, Leif has spent it in daycare, so we are feeling oblivious to the whirlwind of a houseguest for the most part. I am sure this weekend will be different.

Just a few days ago it was 90F out and I was whining about those unreachable 70’s. Seems we just passed over them. Today’s high temperature topped out at 67F. I was surprised by the forecast this morning and marched Leif back into his bedroom and replaced his short sleeved t-shirt with a long sleeved version (sorry MIL, I know you dressed him). I left the shorts. On our to-do list this weekend is a new pair of shoes. He has a pair of sandals that he is nearly outgrowing (the second pair this summer) and with the weather cooling down it is time. Now just to decide on what shoes he gets for the fall.

V and I were discussing the kids and fashion the other day. I was really shocked to hear from her that C has a preference in her clothes that she wears everyday and exerts her choices. Leif… yeah, no concerns there. He wears whatever we put on him. If I ask him to go get a shirt out of his drawer he goes and gets the one on the top. I had thought this was simply because they were too young to really care about what they were wearing. Nope, it is because Leif is AB’s mini-me.

When AB and I started dating I was really surprised to learn that his decision on what to wear each day was complicated only by what t-shirt was on top. Matching? No need to worry about matching when you only wear jeans! I have since learned to use this knowledge to my advantage… that hideous black mountain dew t-shirt that was a give away from some radio station in Alaska (with their logo on it) has been strategically placed at the bottom of the pile for years now without seeing the light of day. As long as the laundry stays done (and AB has so many t-shirts it would take a month of not doing laundry) that shirt shall never grace his body again. Same with the two awful 24 Hour Fitness t-shirts we were given as bonuses for joining the club… I mean who actually wears those? Walking advertisement I am not.

Ah the differences in raising a boy versus a girl.

When my sister was about two years old (my guess) she had a favorite dress. It was a red and white thing that made her look like she should be running through the fields of Switzerland. She called it her twirly dress because when she spun around the skirt would flare out nearly parallel with the floor. It was how we both judged the worthiness of any dress. I had my green security blanket, she had her red Heidi dress. She cried when she couldn’t wear it. She cried when it was washed. I don’t know how she ever got over that hurdle and surrendered the dress.

I don’t think my preference for particular articles of clothing set in until a little later. The first one I recall however, was a pair of “cowboy” boots that my dad’s mom brought down for me. The strategic error here was calling them “cowboy” boots. Had they been “cowgirl” boots all would have been fine and I might have allowed them on my feet. I remember distinctly thinking that no cowboy’s shoes were going on my feet. And they didn’t either.

My aversion to boy clothes continued well into grade school. I loved wearing dresses, I loved being a girl and despised gym day because I had to wear pants. My mom made all of my dresses and school clothes, so the necessity for pants meant a trip to JCPenneys in downtown Casper, WY. To make sure that my pants weren’t confused for boy pants, since boys wore jeans and girls were supposed to wear dresses, I made sure my pants had decorated pockets.

One year my mom got some hand me down clothes from my best friend’s mom. I was a bean pole and my best friend couldn’t wear them. Her mom passed them on. Given my mom’s opposition to used clothing (which I inherited from her) I am surprised we kept the bag of clothes instead of passing it on. One day, after my mom pleaded with me to please wear one of those pairs of pants since I didn’t have any clean ones, I finally did it. I put the jeans, without flowers on the pockets, on and went to school.

The worst thing that could ever happen to a 2nd grade girl happened. One of the boys in the class came up to me and said, “hey those look like my old pants, where did you get them?” First off I was horrified that I might be wearing boy pants. I told him that Jenny’s mom had passed them onto me, so they were girl’s pants. Oh no, he informed me. He told me that his mom had passed on a bag of clothes to Jenny’s mom! “You are wearing my old pants,” he yelled in line to go in from recess.

My face was 100 shades of red and I could feel the tears in my eyes. I went home after school, pulled the boy pants off and refused to touch another thing in that bag. And all my pants from then on had flowers on the pockets… just so there wasn’t any confusion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grape Day

Here are a few pictures of Leif and his friend C and their friends, sangiovese grapes.

Someone, somewhere is screaming "sucker"!

There is one person in my chain of management here at work who I really, really like. I do like my team lead and my manager. But there is one person that really just always makes me feel good about being here. And you know, he does the easiest thing a high level manager can do. Walk down the hall and say hi.

My associate lab director is seriously one of the nicest people I have ever met. He always strikes me as someone who truly cares. (Yes, I hear Catbert laughing evilly at me.) Today we were treated to ice cream in the lunch room as a thank you from him for 2 million hours worked without incident. He made a point of stopping by each lunch room to give a quick spiel and thank you. He had a lot of lunch rooms to stop by since we are spread ALL over the place.

After I finished my ice cream, listened to his little spiel, I went back to my office and settled back into work. My ALD, on his way out, instead of turning right and going to the door outside, takes a left and walks down to my office. Pokes his head in and asks how Leif is doing… what is he doing… etc. He tells me that his son is headed to Iraq tomorrow and so his daughter in law is coming out and staying with them with their one year old for a week and how excited he is to see them. What a cool guy.

I am not management material, but should I ever be in a high up position, I am taking a cue from my ALD. What a difference it makes in ones day to simply be acknowledged.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Patience is a virtue... or so they say.

Once again, something that I am quite sure is not uncommon with a two year old… I have seriously come to dread the words, “my do it” coming out of Leif’s mouth. I am stuck sitting there waiting for “his do it” for who knows how long. Oh my goodness this could make me insane. Or it could make me the most patient person in the entire world.

Saturday (since we are starting potty training), Leif is trying to take off his diaper as he stands on the stool in front of the toilet. I decided to help it along a little bit by undoing one tab. Harmless right? Ha ha. Oh goodness gracious did that thwart the whole project. There was much screaming and yelling, my name was mud and there was to be no potty sitting. Recovery was (finally after 30 minutes) helped along by a few monsters names Sully and Mike.

And what is the fascination with buckles and clips? Leif hasn’t used the belts on his booster seat in months. He used to scream if we did them. Now? He screams if he can’t “my do it” and buckle them up. His food will go cold as he sits there meticulously working on, not one, but two buckles. I guess the good side to this is that if AB and I eat quick, we all finish about the same time. And waa-laa, dinnertime together!

The buckles on his carseat. Yeah. You know what comes next… I try to sneak a finger in there occasionally, yet inconspicuously, just to nudge the buckle up on the strap so it isn’t 4” lower than the other and thereby completely impossible to connect. Just so maybe there might be a chance for success in the next 3 hours. I usually blame any busted nudges on a need to tickle his cuteness. He buys it.

He is a persistent little bugger. To avoid a complete meltdown I must stand aside while he works on whatever it is. Upon success, he beams, “I did it!” And we have a little party right there and then with many kisses. (In my own mind it is a ‘yay we can get moving now!’ party, but he doesn’t need to do that. It can be all about him.) If we finally reach his exhaustion point (there is one!) he will frustratingly tell me, “My help you”. Kind of backwards, but that’s ok. Yes, I will help you!

Friday, September 08, 2006


AB had a job interview this morning. It sounded like the job interview went very well and that he will be called back for a chat with the owner since he was apparently out. It sounds like the job would be a good fit for him, if it weren’t for that nearly completed Masters degree in engineering and his desire to make a career change. This job is not engineering. It is with the company that is a direct competitor with the company he was layed off from. He is viewed as a strategic hire because of what he potentially brings to this company: contacts and knowledge. He was told that they see the position he would be in as a “leadership position” within the company. I guess they told him all the things he needed to hear, a little appeal to the ego, a path upwards and a seemingly friendly environment. I have no doubt he will get an offer after meeting the company owner. The real question is what will the offer be? Will they pay him commensurate with what the position and AB’s experience should garner? And the real question, how desperate is AB for a job right now. Does he want to take the gamble in pushing the career change now? Now is a good time for that. Go with the risk or the stability and current know how? I know AB well enough to know how tired he is of not working, how much he worries about money and how he looks towards the future and at us adding to our family early next year. I know what his answer will be.

This week has really flown by given the Labor Day holiday on Monday. It seems as though our weekend schedule is jam packed (literally). Tomorrow we are getting together with a number of friends to make wine grape jelly. It isn’t made from wine, nope, we have a fair number of wine grapes to make jelly out of. We have a small selection of cabernet sauvignon grapes to contribute to the mix of merlot, sangiovese and syrah. This should provide for a Saturday full of fun in testing out some different blends.

It is also the start of our local Parade of Homes. AB and I really enjoyed this last year and are looking forward to stopping by a few of the homes this year too. We don’t do the “must see every home on the list” thing where you are rewarded with an entry into a contest. Leif just wouldn’t stand for that. We are mostly interested in new homes in particular regions of our town and by builders with a certain style. So our list won’t be overly long.

Also on the list of must do’s is cleaning the house. My MIL arrives on Tuesday and will spend about a week visiting. The house is a disaster. Sorry AB, but his cleaning just doesn’t compare with our former cleaning lady. We will be busy scrambling to pick up the house. I know my MIL means no ill will, but the little things she says and has said in the past really stress me out about my house not being clean enough… nevermind the fact that I am nearly 13 weeks pregnant, with horrible morning sickness (yes, still), working 40 hours a week and mothering a very active 2 year old. I can’t say I am thrilled about the prospect of cleaning the house nearly every free second (because that is what it will take), but hopefully it will mean my tongue will not be severed by my own teeth.

I am anxiously awaiting some cooler weather here. It is September after all. I remember occasional snow in September when I was a kid in Wyoming. But alas, it has been hovering in the upper 90’s this week. The forecast keeps showing days of upper 70’s and low 80’s in the near future. However, these days seem unreachable. Students who failed out of “Gaming Management” in Nevada colleges (yes, a real major) must be just directly siphoned into Meteorology. Then they send the ones who barely passed here. And to think we don’t even have mountains to contend with. Flat land. And they still can’t figure it out!

Let’s see, in other news on the Leif side, daycare has asked us to start officially potty training Leif. I am skeered. His teacher told AB tonight when he picked him up that she needed more diapers and ended with the comment, “well of course if you just potty train him then you don’t need to bring anymore in”. AB stopped her and asked if we should be doing more other than just letting him use it when he wanted. She told him that Leif is not only showing all the signs of being ready (tells her when he is poopy, pulls his own pants down, takes off his own diaper), but is actually pottying on the potty at daycare somewhat regularly, then going and retrieving (or not) the clean diaper and attempting (or not) to put it on. Ugh. I worry this is too young. I know, they have far more experience with this then I do, but isn’t 25 months a little young for this, especially with a boy? She gave AB an outline of what we need to be doing to follow their philosophy on potty training. So I guess we will steam forward. I keep reminding myself how nice it would be to not have two in diapers come this spring.

Everyone have a super weekend!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Assortment packs, just why?

Toddlers have their favorites. I am sure this is not unique to just my toddler. But I would seriously pay more to have a box of band-aids that are ALL Bruce the shark than the Nemo assortment pack we have. Who really wants a band aid with Peach the starfish on it?

No really, I would rather pay twice the price for a Bruce the shark collection so that the other 80% of the band-aids are used without a complete meltdown.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

So I am really only 24?

AB and I went to lunch today. He came into town to run some errands and so we met at the local Mongolian Grill. It’s a good sign that I was craving this as vegetables have been off the list for some time now. We were checking out and I got a good laugh at the sign behind the counter:

“If you don’t know who shot JR, prepare to be carded.”

Both AB and I chuckled, got a kick out of it and chatted with the owner about the sign. She said we would be surprised how many people just don’t get it, many even ask who junior is.

I got into my car and headed back out to work, flipped the radio station a few times until I found an acceptable song, The BeeGees “Night Fever”. I rocked the rest of the way back to work. I took disco lessons at the YMCA when I was little and remember dancing to this song and dreaming of dancing with John Travolta in his sexy white leisure suit. What a strut. I dreamed of going to a roller disco when I was older and showing off my moves. (And I had good moves!)

Recently a friend of mine online talked about being 35 when her baby will be born and how this concerned her with her age. Plenty of us were there to enlighten her that 35 is in no way old!

Then did I mention the white hair I found on my head the other day. Like polar bear white. White as snow white. I hoped as a kid that when my hair changed colors that it would be white white and not grey. I expected this would be the case since my great grandmother had the same color hair as me and her hair was snow white by the time I came along. Of course I also didn’t expect to start seeing this at such a young age! (It’s Leif’s fault.) AB thought I was overreacting just a tad and reminded me that he has patches of white in his beard. I was more surprised to know that he had noticed them in his beard.

If the 40’s are the new 30’s, that means that the 30’s are the new 20’s… right? Which would make me 24!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nothing says satisfaction like...

Sitting in the grass at a potluck thrown by members of your former group and overhearing your former group manager say, "Wow, this is really good pie", to his wife, your division director and his wife. Then the three of them getting up and getting a piece of pie and agreeing on what a spectacular peach pie it is. (It was nectarine, oh well, I 'll take it anyway.)

Devoured, decimated, not a scrap left. I was proud to walk up and retrieve the plate making sure they all saw it was ME that baked it from scratch. (Because good pie can only be made from scratch.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad!

(Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks. For some reason I cannot get them to stay in. I will attempt another edit later, but for now I just have to accept this is a Blogger glitch.)

Yesterday my dad turned 53. I didn’t get a chance to post then because I was on the webcam with him. It was an hour or so well spent.

My dad was born in Red Lodge, Montana and lived a number of places growing up; Texas, Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming. He and my mom married the summer after they graduated from high school and I was born that following January. My dad enjoys and has enjoyed since I was a child, playing guitar. I get my enjoyment of music from him. He enjoys cooking and BBQ’ing and drinking beer. For my dad, spending time with family was the end goal of each day.

While I was out at lunch today the song Workingman’s Blues by Bob Dylan came on and the words reminded me of my dad. He started out working as a teenager on oil rigs in Wyoming. He eventually got a job at a uranium mine in central Wyoming. When I was a little older he switched to mining coal and my family could all breathe a lot easier since this was about the time the movie Silkwood was making headlines. My dad was an incredibly hard worker who started out at the bottom and by the time he left his job in the coal mine six years ago was a well respected production supervisor. He and my former stepmom relocated to Texas six years ago seeking a simpler life, without the hour plus long commute to the mine and the harsh effects that life was having on my dad.

It is amazing the things that impact us as children. I remember when I was a little girl going to a car dealership in Casper with my dad. He was talking to the dealer about a new truck. The dealer headed off to go check on something and my dad said to me, “did you see his hands? That man has never done a hard days labor in his life”. This made a huge impact on the way I looked at men from there on out. I knew then that I would never marry a man who couldn’t do a good days labor, be it at work or even just around the house. I made it a habit to look at the hands of every man I dated. If they were soft, he was a no go.

Life was good growing up in our household. Things didn’t always come easy. My dad worked shift work, which was hard on him and hard on our family. But from this experience there was always a huge sense of devotion and satisfaction from a good week’s worth of work that we felt from him. My dad was proud to support our family and despite the fact that he worked long hours he was always at school plays, softball games and track and field day. We went on summer vacations in the car around our region; Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Denver.

My dad is a very traditional sort. He takes pride in being the man of the house and the sole provider. Unfortunately he also tended to marry women who while they liked that idea to start, it was never quite enough. That’s not to say that he ever didn’t allow either my former stepmom or my mom to work, but for my dad I truly believe it was a source of his own pride to be able to take care of his family.

When I think of my dad I also think of his lofty ambitions. I get this from him. My dad has always had big dreams, to own a cabin in the mountains, to have a boat… Sound familiar? I hope that someday in his life, he is able to have these things he has longed for since I was a child.

As I grew older my parents divorced. We spent every other weekend and the summers with my dad. We gained a stepmom and two stepbrothers. Some of my fondest memories come from spending the summers at my dad’s house. We would ride dirt bikes, go swimming, go to the State Fair, canoe the North Platte River and go camping in the middle of cow pastures. (Ok, sometimes at the reservoir too.) We would fish for trout and watch wildlife. I was never overly fond of my stepmom, my sister and I just never really felt like we belonged with “her family”. I liked her enough I suppose, but I never got a real warm, gushy feeling from her. I understand now that there was a lot more to her, she was more complicated and struggled a lot in her own life, and that it really wasn’t me. We were close with our stepbrothers and they are still dear to my heart.

My dad was always the favored neighborhood parent. All the neighborhood kids hung out at our house. My dad has a great personality that all the kids loved. There were many times I felt like I just wanted them all to leave so I could have my dad to myself. But I was quiet like that. I liked one on one interactions, while my dad was the life of the party. (Which is frighteningly like my son…)

I remember one time openly defying my dad. My dad was always opposed to piercings and according to my mom he was none too happy when I was five and she brought me home with my newly pierced ears. When I was about 13 or 14 I stuck a cube of ice on my ear, pushed a needle through creating hole number 3 or 4 and stuck an earring in while my stepbrothers sat and watched me in the bathroom. That night at dinner it was quiet and Brett, my youngest stepbrother, asked what happened if you pierced your own ear. My dad replied that it would get infected and cause nerve damage to your face and the side of your face would slough off. Or something to that effect. I remember Brett sitting across the table from me with tears in his eyes and his lip quivering. I glared and glared at him, begging him with my eyes, to keep his mouth shut. My dad saw through this, not surprisingly, and asked who pierced their ear. Brett immediately blurted out that I did. I am quite sure my dad didn’t speak to me for a week.

As I entered high school and we moved to Colorado I spent far less time with my dad. My sister and I had our life, our friends in Colorado and it was increasingly harder for us to take the summer to go spend it in Wyoming with my dad. Now as a parent I realize how difficult this had to have been on my dad. To my sister and I, we always just thought, “well he has his new family now”. As a parent now, I realize how mistaken we were.

I had a special kinship with my dad growing up as well as today. I always felt like he “got” me. He could read my mind. He understood the ambition I had in life. I was always at home with his rationality. I have never known my dad to be particularly driven by emotions until these recent years. Which is both good and bad, and I am happy to see some of his emotions popping through. I can rely on my dad to offer sound, rational advice that isn’t driven by selfishness. In offering advice he told me the truth and not necessarily just what I wanted to hear. My dad is expert at playing the devil’s advocate, which is probably why I am so tolerant of this with AB.

I love you dad!

Happy Birthday Dad!