Friday, June 29, 2007

How to put a toddler to bed

1. Bribe child with a gummy frog to get in the shower.

2. Put said child in shower after eating gummy frog to clean the grime of the day off of him.

3. Bribe child with ice cream to get out of the shower.

4. Grab a pair of pajamas to put on child.

5. Go back and grab a second pair of pajamas when first pair caused a screaming fit along the lines of "I DON'T WANT MONKEY JAMMIES!"

6. Go back to get the monkey pajamas back when screaming switched to "WANT MONKEY JAMMIES!"

7. Scoop a small scoop of ice cream in the bowl.

8. Decline to add more 14 times.

9. Insist child finish eating ice cream in a timely manner.

10. Put toothpaste on toothbrush and start brushing toddler's teeth.

11. Seriously consider duct tape to keep hands off toothbrush while trying to brush.

12. Give child drink of water in one particular Mater paper cup. (What to do with all the other unacceptable paper cups... see post about bandaids.)

13. Insist child go to the bathroom despite not needing to go.

14. Watch in amazement how much child pees considering he didn't have to go.

15. Night night kisses to sister and daddy.

16. Walk to bedroom.

17. More night night kisses to sister and daddy (with much giggling as he runs across the house).

18. Bribe with books to return to bedroom.

19. Pick out a lesser favorite book to avoid reading favorite book over and over the entire time.

20. Read second place book loudly over whining about The Sneetches, the current favorite.

21. Pick up The Sneetches.

22. Read The Sneetches.

23. Read The Sneetches again.

24. Go cut a star out of construction paper, put tape on the back and return to put on child's belly.

25. Read The Sneetches again WITH a star on child's belly.

26. Say prayers.

27. Kisses and hugs.

28. Take child to bathroom again.

29. Wait while child smiles and giggles and pretends to go potty.

30. Insist child is done.

31. Endure screaming of "NOT DONE!"

32. Cheer about the two drops that fall and then send him back to bed.

33. Decline five invitations to join child in bed.

34. Leave.

35. Return with drink of water.

36. Decline six invitations to join child in bed.

37. Leave.

38. Do your best to ignore screaming.

39. Realize screaming is about the star.

40. Grab flashlight on the way back to the room to find star that fell down between bed and wall.

41. Decline seven invitations to get in bed with child.

42. Leave.

43. Sit on couch.

40. Relish the silence for the 30 minutes before you fall asleep.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Update on the Bean

Skadi has a mole in the funniest of places... her belly button! It didn't heal well after she was born. It was treated with silver nitrate when she was two months old and it has since healed most of the way. There was a spot that had appeared as a scab for a few weeks. Finally last night I decided I was going to wash it well and see if I could get the freakishly adherent scab to start moving on. When I couldn't distinguish the edges of the scab from her skin I took a look and realized it is a little mole! On her bee-bo!

There isn't a whole lot going on with her lately. A friend of mine today asked how she was and then said, "well she must be crawling by now". He was happy to hear that time wasn't flying nearly as fast as it sometimes feels.

Nope, not crawling, but she is a big girl. She has rolls and rolls. I weighed her at 17 lbs the other day. Fear that she will be moving out of the baby bucket far too soon plagues me. I put her in one of the ultra-cute outfits this morning and was saddened to see that the arm holes were no longer big enough (even though the rest of the outfit was fine). *Sigh*

For my wine loving friends

Something has happened to my palate. It has been replaced with one more refined. I blame our friends.

Years ago when we went wine tasting there wasn't a wine I didn't at least like. Most anything tasted just fine to me and a large percentage of those tasted great.

The Friday before I returned from maternity leave, AB and I took off with Skadi and left Leif in daycare and went to a few new wineries in the area, something we don't do regularly because we don't have the time and it isn't an ideal outting for a 3 year old. I was disappointed by the fact that not only were there wines I didn't like, but a huge number I would call mediocre and only a small number that I really liked. My palate now has a Gaussian distribution.

AB picked up a California Central Coast Chardonney the other day for something different. We chilled it, opened it and I nearly spit it all over the counter.

"There's something wrong with this," I told AB.

He swirled it, sniffed and immediately announced it was cork taint without any hesitation.

Given that some huge percentage (relatively that is) of wines are corked, I counted myself lucky to have not had a corked wine before. (Joking!) On a serious note, I am sure I had corked wine before, but never picked it up.

I left the glass sitting there the rest of the evening. I kept smelling it. How could that whole bottle be trash? It just can't be bad. Can it? Even after my husband told me 14 times it was the bottle, I still questioned my palate. It must be me... maybe chard just wasn't what was going to agree with me tonight.

Confidence... my palate may have changed in the last few years since moving here to the land of wine and water. But it will take awhile before my palate has confidence.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Just call me "sucker"

Peer review… as a scientist it is something that is viewed as a donation to the good of science. Something you are asked to do to keep the industry honest and forthright.

Then there’s the flip side, it feeds my ego. Every June when I get the request from the national organization for which I review proposals, I immediately file it away for my annual review. “See here, someone respects my thoughts at this level!” Then sometime in July I review my one or two proposals in this obscure field. They are usually long, and since I try to give really good constructive criticism, it takes awhile to complete.

Each year I volunteer to review as many proposals as they need me for. Like I said, obscure field… one or two a year.

Six. That would be six freaking fifteen to twenty page technical proposals that I was “awarded” to review this year.

As AB said, “well they must think you do a good job!”

Or they see the big sign on my back that says “sucker”.

My horoscope

“Someone in power is paying attention to you today, so be sure you look your best.”

I read my horoscope this morning and laughed when I should have listened. From the first part of May up until AB got his new job a few weeks ago, I was applying for jobs. Not really applying necessarily... more sending out unsolicited e-mails with my CV attached to those companies that screamed of the possibility of “ideal jobs”. Those ones that fit into the upper echelon of “wouldn’t it be nice if I landed *that* job in that coolest of locales”! Just putting out feelers basically in areas AB and I identified as places we would like to live.

My fishing rod bobbed today. A bite. The fish is a very large one in a very choice locale. They are a main client, for my industry project client. My research (hopefully) will eventually end up on their fab floor. My jaw dropped when I saw the e-mail expressing their desire for me to go forward in their application process on their secure server.

I sit here with the e-mail in my Inbox staring me in the face. I am afraid to click the link. I pulled up the CV I sent them wondering what exactly peaked their interest. I called AB.

NM: “So I got an e-mail from Y company.”

AB: “You’re kidding me.” (Expletive deleted.)

NM: “Umm, no.”

AB: “Can I just say I am extremely reluctant to leave here now that I have landed a really good paying job, in fact the best paying job I have ever had, with a huge international engineering firm after job hunting for nearly a year?”

NM: “Mmm hmmm” (said with visions of computer chips dancing in my head.)

Ok, I am going to click the link after my stomach settles, because puke all over my desk wouldn’t smell very nice.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Five Years of Service

My acting manager called me this morning to be sure I was going to be in my office before he stopped by. I actually had no idea why he would be swinging by. It isn't like I actually even talk to my managers. My curiousity was peaked.

He is one of those guys who talks a lot. Makes a lot of vague references and expects you to follow them. He is also a super guy. For one of the pointy haired sorts, he gets it. Well mostly.

He came in and starting chatting about the history of the company, what it was like here during the 80's, yadda yadda yadda. I smiled and nodded. Not sure at all where this was headed.

He then moved onto that working somewhere for five years is a big deal. (Well sort of, compare to the fact he has been here for 25.) He also told me that this is the time when statistically speaking employees tend to start thinking about leaving. I tried not to let that guilty look take over my face, reminding myself that AB has a good job right now, any plans to jump ship have at least been put off for a minimum of three months. He moved on to the fact that he recognizes that I am the "orphan" among the group... however, he has never had to "deal" with me or find me work. So I am an orphan he is happy to have and he hopes I won't become a stastitic. (Seriously wondering if those rumors about brain implantation aren't correct.)

Finally he reaches in his pocket and pulls out the most wrinkled envelope I have seen in a long time. My five year service award that included a just as wrinkled letter from the lab director with his signature stamped on the bottom and a $30 gift card for the mall. He apologizes for the lateness... my manager had meant to give it to me when I came back from maternity leave four or so weeks ago, but she never got around to it, so she gave it to him and he kept forgetting, but finally just made a point to get out here to give it to me. (My 5 years was April 29th...)

Wow. What do I say? People really want to leave here at their five year mark? I can't imagine why!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What every three year old wants for his birthday

I asked Leif what he wanted to buy A for his birthday on Saturday?

He gave it some good, long thought...

"I want to buy A cheese for his birthday," Leif told me.

Warning, substantial whining ahead

Ever have one of those series of days when nothing can go right?

It started with last Wednesday and a diagnosis of ringworm in my three year old.

Then continued on Thursday when my building was evacuated.

Onto Friday where I picked up Skadi an hour after dropping her off after finding out I was off work due to the issue the previous day. While there I found out her main caregiver would be off a significant amount of the next likely three months as her longtime partner dies. (Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. Why does crappy stuff happen to good people?)

A minor one in comparison, but Saturday AB and I came down with colds.

We reached Monday where I learned I would be off work at least one more day. Then I walked in to get my son out of bed when he was yelling only to find out he was unable to walk.

It is now Wednesday and things have started to turn around. My building is reopened and I am working again. Leif can walk fine, though there is still no (reasonable, in my mind) explanation for his ailment Monday. (The radiologist phoned this morning and his x-rays are all good.) And the colds are abating.

Can we just get some good things going now? Please?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gifts for a three year old

How awful is it that it is 5 weeks from my son's third birthday and I haven't any idea what to get him?

Ok, so I have a couple ideas, and as of today, I ordered them. Toy Story the double DVD Deluxe set and a metal Tonka tractor thing for $15 each.

He is all about transportation vehicles right now. And if they haul something (dirt, lots of people or a bed full of nearly anything), all the better. He has a dump truck that is about the freakiest thing ever. My dad sent it to him with the caveat that if he didn't like it, to give it away, no offense taken. The little boy who had it before was scared to bits by it. Truth be told, it scares me. It is a yellow dump truck with a head on top and glowing red eyes, and it speaks. And it is very nearly Leif's favorite toy right now. I might like it a little more if Leif quit bringing it into the house full of dirt.

I perused the toys the other day at Walmart where I went to pick up AB's Father's Day present. Nothing jumped out at me. Partly because everything looked so flimsy. Partly because I have this ideal in my head that Leif will tell us what he wants (so far he tells us he wants a birthday cake for his birthday). And partly because Leif was with me and the few things he did want... I just bought (a trio of gardening tools for $1.97, a squirt gun for $1 and a Matchbox fire truck), which AB later chastized me for.

The best score this week was a wooden rocking horse at a garage sale I drove by for $15. After K made one for C, AB kept talking about doing the same. Not surprisingly it hasn't happened due to the huge number of other projects I have had AB tackling over the last year or so. Leif loves it. AB says we should have saved it for his birthday, and he might be right, except that he will so quickly grow out of it at this point that I want to maximize his use. (Not like we won't have another little being who will grow into it far too soon.)

I am trying to resist the urge to go overboard for his birthday. To take advantage of this year when all he wants is a tractor that digs in the dirt. Yet, I can't help but think he "needs" more. I will squash that urge... after all, he is getting a big, not so inexpensive birthday party.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nothing sweeter than baby belly laughs

Leif, Skadi and I got in the bathtub last night. Skadi loves it there and was happy baby from the start. But what really kicked the bath into high gear was watching her big brother blow bubbles.

Full on belly laughs. The first ones. And how sweet is it that they were at her big brother.

AB commented last night how there was full on admiration in her eyes for her big brother.


Pizza pizza

We don't even have a Little Caesars here that I know of. But I feel somehow compelled to do the "pizza pizza" thing when talking about pizza.

I had pizza last week while AB and Leif were out of town. So I wasn't overly compelled to have it again. But AB was craving it, so last night was pizza night.

Pizza is one thing that AB and I don't usually agree upon. He likes a doughy crust, I like thin. He likes meat intense and I prefer vegies. We don't even agree upon who makes the best pizza. And frozen pizzas are even worse... except that we both agree that the much sought after frozen Kirkland pizzas on the grilled crust with pesto, fresh mozzarella and sundried tomatoes ARE the best things around frozen. Too bad we can no longer FIND them. Costco just kills me that way.

Leif has sided with AB in his pizza preferences, and since we don't order more than one large because it won't get eaten, the pizza we order as a family usually leaves much to be desired by me. That's alright though... I need to lose some weight and it is a perfect guarantee that I won't be tempted by more than two small pieces.

So dinner last night was "ehh". The pizza arrived and cost more than we were told (coupon was not applied after repeatedly reading off the coupon code to the voice on the other end of the phone). The topping selections on our half and half were wrong. They put one half toppings on the whole pizza, but did change the sauce as requested. So all in all last night, pizza was a bust for us all. Leif didn't care for his toppings, AB was annoyed that the coupon was not applied most of all, and I was just indifferent on the whole thing sitting in front of me.

AB made the call to the pizzeria to complain and we ended up with a $20 credit. Yippee.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The biggest problem with preschool...

Leif has apparently survived his first day of primary. I worried horribly about this, mostly because he was gone all last week (so he only had two visits to the room) and also due to the late night return from Alaska last night. He didn't get to bed until 9:45pm and didn't fall asleep until an hour later - seriously inhibiting my Sopranos viewing, which *had* to be completed last night to avoid the buzz and spoilers today. (Done, watched, not impressed.)

We planned tentatively to meet C outside so the kids could walk in together for moral support. Leif beamed upon seeing her standing outside and there were many hugs. We walked in and the kids, as expected took off towards their former classroom. Luckily their former teacher was also outside in the hallway, caught them and herded them into their new room.

Leif hit the room like a storm never letting his smile fade. We found his locker and he tossed his blankey in, went to the fridge and he couldn't get his lunch in fast enough. I managed to get a hug and kiss goodbye. I looked around a little and picked up Skadi. One of the teachers announced it was time to go outside and Leif was first out the door and halfway across the "big kids playground" before I could count to three.

C was far more considerate of her dad's feelings in making sure he knew, even if just for a few minutes, that he was needed, loved and her protector against anything scary and new. My child... not so considerate.

I felt a little choked up as I drove by the playground seeing Leif and C climbing on playground equipment without an adult standing immediately adjacent. I kept thinking "he could fall off that monkey bar" all the while knowing that if he did he would get up, dust himself off and crawl right back up there.

No phone calls today announcing any serious impalements due to monkey bars. Not that I would really know since I have no phone in my office. (The source of my disgruntled rumblings all day today.) And my cell phone is very near going kaput in addition to its spotty coverage. (Please let AB get an actual salary with this internship. I want a decent phone when we renew our contract!)

AB picked him up and apparently we do have a new problem though. Convincing our son to leave. Oh and the fact that he feels it completely necessary to eat his two little gummy frogs before his main course instead of after. (Evidently a major transgression in the Montessori world.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Marketing 101

I was struck with one of my pet peeves twice this past week. That pet peeve being... don't try to sell me on something I am already sold on. Or put simply, quit wasting my time.

I signed Skadi up for a swimming class called Tub Time for last Saturday. One hour and $25 later left me irritable, though ending in the hot tub did mellow that irritability. The first half hour was "classroom" time and the second half hour... well actually, the last 20 minutes by the time we got to the hot tub, was in the water. I signed up, I paid, I showed up with my 10 week old in her ultra-cute, yet practical for the summer swim suit. (Check her out... yes, my carpets suck.)

You see not many people with babies sign up for swimming classes, let alone that early. That should serve as some indication of who your target audience is when designing the classroom portion, shouldn't it? Lesson one, know your audience.

My husband and I both started swimming at very young, both about age 4. My parents put me in because we were always around the lakes and they felt it was important I learn to swim. AB's put him in to help with his scoliosis. AB eventually became a competitive swimmer, a swim instructor and a lifeguard. When I was 10, I ran out of classes to take, joined the team, but since I couldn't compete until I was 12 I abandoned the sport in favor of gymnastics. We are active people with a love and respect for the water. Probably typical people who actually sign their child up for this type of class AT a private club.

So don't sit me down and tell me why my kids should take swimming class. Preaching to the choir. (And wasting my time.)

Then there was last night... my son's orientation for his move up to primary (Montessori preschool). My poor head is covered with bruises now from both my grandmother's visit AND a full wasted evening watching the center owner very slowly, with child-like wonder and amazement in her eyes perform each and every work station in the room like we might see our children do.

I was under the false impression that this orientation was to explain to us parents the practical side. What do I need to bring? How often do I bring snack? What is the schedule? The two other families I spoke with post-orientation-from-hell heaved heavy sighs riddled with pain when they broached the topic. I was happy I was not the only one feeling pain at their core for this 1.5 hours. (Ok, I snuck out at 1.25 hours.) Nope, V's pain was physical thanks to 1.75 hours of sitting in sucky chairs. And she is most likely STILL feeling the pain in her back tonight and for days to come.

Kids are amazing. I know. They are resilient. I know. They are emotional and sensitive. This I know all too well. When they have show and tell? This I don't know.

And I still don't know. (And btw... I was sold on Montessori almost 2 years ago when my one year old started washing his own hands, signing and helping with his own diapering.)

What could be better?

Knowing Leif and AB are safe and sound, but missing me terribly...

A clean, sparkly house...

A pizza just the way *I* want it (thin crust, mushrooms and tomatoes)...

A bottle of cab...

An evening by myself with one happy smiling baby girl...

And the last two episodes of Big Love from last year to ready myself for Monday night. (After I mourn the passing of Sopranos Sunday night.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Good news followed by even better news

Good news... I was given a real office with a window! My 5th office in five years. (Though I have been in this one for nearly 3 years.) It has real, actual functional furniture too! I get to join a good part of my group in a building that should be standing for a few more years and not stuck off in the office for naughty women who whine to their managers about equality and the needs of lactating women. Oops, I didn't say that. I feel strangely renewed by the new office. Like I am actually on someone's radar!

Even better news... AB got a verbal job offer yesterday! He will be working for a major engineering firm in the area (participant in contractor roulette) as a Masters Intern. Frankly, I don't even care if he gets paid. Ok, though it would be really, really nice to actually be able to afford Skadi's daycare. Simply getting his foot in the door is huge right now. And should serve to lift him out of the unemployment funk.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bike horns and giants

Bicycle horns and giants

When you see a bike horn, what do you think of? Yes, a bike horn… like this:

Well if you are like my son, your first thought is that it is a miniature sized breast pump.

AB and I walked into the living room hearing the lovely honking sound indicative that Leif had once again located his bike horn. (It fell between the sectional awhile back and AB and I “left” it there.) However, seeing him holding his shirt up with the horn over his left nipple wasn’t quite what we expected.

“Mommy, daddy, this pump is noisy!”


We have been working with Leif on spelling his name. Dinner the other night…

NM: “Leif, can you spell your name?”

Leif: Blank, slightly irritated look.

NM: “L…..”

Leif: “E… I… Fo… Fum”

On my own

Leif and daddy are off to “Laska” tonight. This was a last minute trip, tickets bought with just minutes left in that 7 day advanced fare purchase price. Leif is starting to have a concept of the fact that he is going on a trip, going on an airplane and that just because we say it right now, it isn’t something he is doing in the immediate future. The thing he doesn’t understand (and is probably going to be a huge point of contention) is the fact that it is just he and daddy traveling. Even though we keep talking about he and daddy going on a trip, I just don’t really think he gets it.

AB was up much of the night worrying he told me. I am not sure what he is worrying about, though he did admit to me last night after Leif had a meltdown about not doing something with me, that he wasn’t sure this trip was the best idea in the world. I see worry in his eyes.

I am positive he is going to do fine. Leif is going to get up there and have so many people fawning over him, he will do just fine. I am sure he will have his moments, and there will be lots of cell phone calls to mommy. (If there aren’t, I am going to feel neglected.) But I really and truly believe that this will be a good trip for Leif and AB.

I have mixed feelings about it all. This week I feel as though I have three children; a 10 week old, a nearly three year old, and an 84 year old. It is true that life comes full circle. Last night I served up Leif, then my grandmother. I cut up Leif’s food, then I cut up my grandmother’s. I worry about what my grandmother is going to say and do in public (example… walking by the Mennonites in the airport, “ARE THEY AMISH?” Feeling very thankful that at least Leif doesn’t currently speak very loudly in public.) In that aspect, I am looking forward to AB taking Leif for a few days so I can focus on giving my grandmother the one on one attention she craves. Then the selfish part of me really looks forward to those three nights where it is just going to be Skadi and me.

The flip side comes with times like this morning where Leif is in a needy, fragile place. I was laying in bed with him hugging him as he was recovering from a bad dream (birds were on top of the house and they were biting him) and all he wanted was me. I know those days are limited to a certain degree, someday he isn’t going to want his mom laying in bed kissing his forehead.

Oh, then there is the worry. Something happened when I had kids. Human fragility replaced invincibility. Ok, as I have aged, invincibility has decreased over the years. However, it was completely wiped out with the birth of my son. I am finding it just completely unfair that I am saddled with this knowledge of how frail life can be just as my son is starting to seek independence. White hairs are creeping up. I worry about everything with this trip… plane crashes, car accidents, someone not paying attention as he ventures to the lake at the cabin, him ingesting something he shouldn’t, he might choke on a Goldfish cracker, or be abducted by aliens. (Kidding.) The need to protect him runs strong and the feeling that *I* am the only one who can do this is not easily squashed.

They will be fine. They will be fine. They will be fine.

And when I get past all the worry and missing him (oh and AB too will be missed), I will enjoy the one on one time with Skadi. There are chunky thighs that must be munched. Very.chunky.thighs. (So very sorry for genetics there Skadi Bean.)