Thursday, August 30, 2007

Leif's Latest

One of Leif's friends from school is new to the area. His family moved from Loveland, Colorado which is about 10 miles from where I grew up and about that same distance from where my mom lives now. They are huge sports fans particularly for teams from that area... like some little known university whose mascot is a Ram of all things... (We have had mention of the upcoming game this weekend while eyeing each other suspiciously out of the corners of our eyes.)

We were sitting at the dinner table the other night and Leif says out of the blue:

Leif: "Go Broncos!"

AB: "Umm, no, it's go Seahawks."

Leif (sheepish grin on his face): "No, go Broncos daddy

I really had nothing to do with this. I haven't been pushing the Go Broncos thing in a year. It has got to be his friend from Colorado. I know they are HUGE Broncos fans. But I loved it!


And really, we only go to Starbucks once or twice a week. That's it! Honest!

NM: "Leif do you want Cinna-Bunnies cereal for breakfast?"

Leif: "Yes and I want a Cinnamon Dolce Latte too!"


Leif has seriously become quite the jabberer. He talks and talks nonstop about whatever. He was eating his ice cream before bed as AB and I were cleaning the kitchen the other night.

Leif: "Blah blah blah blah blah, oh that was a nice toot, blah blah blah blah."

AB and I busted up laughing. Yes, I know, the appropriate response was, "Leif saying excuse me is how we acknowledge toots". But it was just so nonchalant and honest.

Things that almost make me want to work harder

Yesterday I played phone tag with my manager. I was freaked out by her call (that happened to come while I was on the other line scheduling a massage). You see I haven't talked to my manager since my staff development review back at the end of February. Ok, incorrect, she said "hi" and "cute baby" at the group picnic in June. Truth be told I had talked to the lab director more often than I talked to my manager in the last year.

My manager is the most hands off manager I have ever had. Sometimes it's good, most of the times it's really good. Sometimes it sucks. Like yesterday when I sat there all day wondering what I had done to warrent a call. I kept telling myself if I was in trouble for something she would come to my office. (Ha ha ha, just joking.) If I was in trouble for something she would beckon me to her office. So I kept telling myself it had to be her checking on something (maybe to clarify something on my fact sheet that I just submitted) or something good (one of my patents finally came through - though quick check proved that was not the case). What could it be? I wracked my brain.

Finally I checked her schedule towards the end of the day, saw she was available, picked up the phone and called for the fourth or so time. Got her.

I sat there at my desk shaking.

"Ah yes," she says and asks me to hold on while she got the paperwork.

Paperwork... ack!

She came back to the phone. "I just wanted to tell you that periodically HR reviews salaries and in their review noted that you were pretty substantially out of line as compared to the rest of the lab."

No joke. The salary ranges and averages are published, I knew that even after my nice raise last January, I was still on the way low end.

"So," she continues, " you were given a pretty good raise as of August 1st, you will see it on your paycheck tomorrow."

Sure enough. A raise. Actually almost made me want to bust my butt today. Almost.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How about probably?

Leif has two new phrases he has picked up. Thankfully we aren't a cursing family, because Leif has become a mimic. He hears what we say, says it and once he has it figured out, uses it in different contexts.


"Probably the news is scaring me and we should watch Curious George instead." (AB tells me I start sentences with probably and I am forever telling AB to turn the news off as it will scare Leif.)

And this is him using it in his own context:

"Probably Baby Einstein's Oceans is too scary for me and we should watch Animals instead."

Another one:

"How about I wear my tiger costume today."

And taking it to the next level:

"It is too cold out for me and so how about I wear a jacket. How about my jacket is my tiger costume."

Iron Chef Sauce still reigns

I needed to cook this weekend. I needed AB to watch Leif and Skadi while I prepared something new and fantastic and original. All summer it seems as though my role in the kitchen has been either quick prep and serve for weeknight dinners or sous chef to Iron Chef BBQ. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy working with Iron Chef BBQ (aka AB) - particularly the end result. But this style of cooking has left me feeling left out of the action. I needed to create.

I chose halibut for my main course and since Leif had already eaten (chicken noodle soup and oatmeal... yeah, a pairing made in heaven), I decided to do a salad and rice. The rice did beckon Leif back to the table for a few bites until I commented on the nastiness level of the boxed rice. Then Leif decided it was not acceptable anymore either. Duh NM.

My title remains... Iron Chef Sauce. I made seared halibut with a honey chili plum Viognier sauce. I was faltering... I had the plum and Viognier thing going but it was lacking depth and far too tart. I pulled it out in the end though with the addition of honey and chili garlic sauce.

I won... (I am not sure who against, but I needed a win) though AB did bring me down off of cloud nine by mentioning how great the sauce was, how great the halibut was, but the pairing just wasn't working so great for him. The sauce would have been far better paired with chicken or pork. I tried to deny it to myself... but he was right. The sauce was a little too sticky for fish.

No surprises here

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gymboree has my number

Seriously. They have my credit card number. Making it that much easier for me to order whatever strikes my fancy. I don't even have to get up, dig through my purse and find a credit card.

Skadi IS in drastic need of winter clothes. Or at least cooler weather, non-sunsuit clothes. I kept telling myself to put this off until we go to Portland in two weeks. Then I can shop with my mom. I guess maybe I did it for my mom's and my sanity sake. You know, I don't want to overextend us what with Ikea on the list and all.

I *am* however, reminding myself that it isn't that long between when new items come out and when they hit the sales racks at Gymboree. I bought *the* cutest overalls back about 4-6 weeks ago. Full price. My first ever full price Gymboree purchase, but they were so cute and so perfect for Skadi. Yeah, half price now (and she has worn/blown out of them twice). Never again.

But... I did buy three other matching pieces for the ultra-cute, ultra-expensive overalls at well over half off. So we scored... denim dress, sweater, and red striped shirt in the anchor theme, purple corduroy overalls and matching shirt, a long sleeved bodysuit that can be used with either outfit in case of blowouts.

Oh and two t-shirts for Leif... so he doesn't feel left out, of course.

My girl is apparently going to be a dress girl. We have extreme difficulty with pants. If they fit her around, they don't fit in length. She has one pair of capri pants that fit around, and appear to be regular length. (We won't tell that they are supposed to be capri.) But I had looked forward to using all of Leif's Gap jeans (the free ones we got with the card he won in the photo contest)... yeah not happening. I am somewhat optimistic however, that if it cools down here fairly quick Skadi might get a few wears out of his ultra-cute fleece lined denim overalls.

Peter peter pumpkin eater

Leif is getting old enough that I understand 90% of what he says. Then there is the other 10% of the time.

Leif: "I can't wait to jump on Christmas in my pumpkin!"

NM: "Huh?"

Leif: "I can't wait to jump on Christmas in my pumpkin!" (Looking at me like I am a complete idiot.)

Speaking of pumpkins... Leslie asked about my giant pumpkin. I kept thinking I would post about it, but it was growing at such a serious rate that everytime I took a picture and got it uploaded, it was even bigger. Leading me to believe I needed to take another picture. And so on. Evidently they routinely grow 10 lbs a day and some have been known to grow 40 lbs a day.

So here is the current picture:

The large one is 82" circumference (in standard pumpkin measuring speak... there is a whole new community I am being introduced to) from stem to blossom end parallel to the ground. It is 48" ground to ground on one direction and 51" ground to ground the other direction. When you plug these numbers into the standard OTT weight calculation we find that my behemoth is 132 lbs (+/- 6 lbs). Circumference calculations put it at 165 lbs (+/- 16 lbs). (My poor PChem students lived and breathed error analysis for two semesters.)

My goal is to keep the vines alive until mid-September. At that point it can be cut from the vine and stored in cool, dry storage until carving date for Halloween. (Anyone know a really great carver??)

AB asked me tonight who exactly was going to move my giant pumpkin. I told him I thought my husband was strong enough... not at 10 lbs a day additional he tells me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The best tea ever

At Christmas last year in Colorado I managed to make it to P.F. Changs. Ok, I managed to make it there twice. Love that place. Word is (well word was the morning that Skadi was born and we were watching the news while I was in labor) that a P.F. Changes is coming here. I fear this was a cruel rumor to the laboring woman as I haven't heard much more about it.

While there I tried their Citrus Spice Herbal tea. Loved it - and I am not normally an herbal tea person, but I love black tea. That might have been the single reason I went back the second time. Ok, no, it was the Szechuan Scallops. But the tea was another good follow up reason.

After getting home the tea was still on my brain. I e-mailed P.F. Changs and they found it online for me (after a few e-mails internally since evidently not all the same teas are served at each restaurant). I was forever indebted and being that I was a pregnant woman at the time, I ordered about three boxes, knowing I wouldn't be able to get enough. Then I ordered another three boxes when my stash started running low.

Little AB was on a Jell-O rampage this afternoon. He found some molds and asked me what they were, when I told him that they were not indeed muffin molds as he was hoping, but instead Jell-O molds, he insisted we use them. I found the Jell-O in the pantry, and also uncovered my nearly forgotten stash of Citrus Spice Herbal tea.

I know... hot tea in the summer? How could I? But the string of sickness is still ongoing in our house. I have a nasty sour throat, runny nose and the starts of bronchitis.

But my tea has made all better. Well nearly. (And with memories of the most delicious scallops in the recent past.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What my night has been like

At dinner

AB: "Leif, what did you do today at school."

Leif: "I did Tumblebus and Cooch Brett and the Alkdjfiwoeurhg told me to stop, but I wanted to jump and I went on the balance beam and he told me to stop again, but I went anyways and he yelled at me, but I told him no and I did Tumblebus and Cooch Brett let me fly and the balance beam hit me."

NM: "Ok then."

After dinner while picking up.

Leif (in the bathroom doing who knows what): "MOMMY, MOMMY!"

NM: "What sweety?" (Running into the bathroom.)

Leif (standing on the vanity stool leaning on the sink looking in the mirror) : "Look at my beautiful brown eyes."

While playing outside before bath.

Leif: "Mommy can you lift me up there?"

NM: "Up where?"

Leif: "On top of the roof."

NM: "No. Why do you want on the roof?"

Leif: "So I can jump off and fly like an airplane to Colorado to see grandma."

NM: "Umm no."

Leif: "But I want to see grandma!"

A new purse

After telling myself there would be no, nada, zippo online shopping in the next few weeks as we are going to Portland, I was beckoned.

I called AB this afternoon and confessed to buying a new purse.

There was silence on the other end of the line.

I told him it cost me four fifty.


Then I let him in on it... I got a great deal, really I did. It was regularly thirty nine fifty, but I had a twenty dollar rewards certificate and a fifteen dollar off purchase code, bringing it down to a whopping $4.50, oh and free shipping. (Sneak peek.)

I heard a sigh at the other end. Well that is a ton better than two hundred he tells me!

(Ha... he is so in the dark... two hundred... in his dreams. Someday...)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Survived another weekend

Once again I found myself somewhat happy to sit quietly at my desk this morning. And for good measure, I even shut my door to ensure silence. It was just something I needed to do.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning after being shocked it was 7am and all three of us; Leif, Skadi and I, were all still snoozing. And when I say dragged... I am not joking. I could have easily slept substantially longer. But fear of actually getting to work at a halfway decent time got me moving.

After the shower, Leif showed up in the kitchen requesting dinosaur egg oatmeal and we had breakfast together.

Saturday was a very hectic day. Leif had swimming class and then we rushed around for a few last minute things for our BBQ. Thankfully Leif and Skadi both took naps when we got home. AB and I put together dinner. I made three nectarine pies (freezing two), pasta salad and AB's favorite, chipotle baked beans. I had looked for another option, but AB balked when I expressed a desire to ditch the baked beans.

AB slaved the afternoon over the BBQ/smoker slow smoking four tri-tip roasts with a mix of cherry wood and Sangiovese vines.

We hosted four other couples and two friend's of Leifs. The kids had a great time running around. The addition of the third child really altered the normal dynamic between Leif and C. They really are a lot like siblings in many ways. They are usually thrilled to get together, but often times end up bickering over the tiniest, insignificant thing. This time it was a 3" rocket ship with Jimmy Neutron on it. And it is my guess, that neither child has the foggiest who Jimmy Neutron is. But the dynamic shifted when a third friend from school showed up. Suddenly Leif worried less about C playing with his toys and the kids actually settled in and played.

Our friends brought dishes to share and some really spectacular wines. I think we ended up with four or five open and my favorite was the Yakima Cellars Sangiovese. Sangiovese isn't a varietal I automatically gravitate to. I really need to explore it a little more. Of course this was a tough sell between that Sangiovese and the Bella Dry Creek Zinfandel... because I am just a zin-girl. But seriously honorable mentions go to the Reininger Helix Rose, the Cougar Crest Syrah and the L'Ecole '98 Cab. All were well matched with dinner and just fabulous wines.

We had a great evening sitting on the patio chatting with friends. After everyone left I realized how tipsy I had gotten in my quest to taste and double taste the wines to assure myself which were my favorites.


We were lazy Sunday morning, picked up the house, and then when Leif wasn't showing signs of napping at all, we let him up. (Requesting oatmeal at 1:30 pm because he is hungry...) At 3pm I went to get directions for the birthday party Leif was attending and found out that it was actually only about 3 minutes from our house. Nice...

Upon arriving, I was a little less optimistic about the party. It was stated on the invitation to be a pool party... but I guess I should have inquired a little further instead of assuming it was a little pool party. Nope, inground pool party. This just required so much more attention and focus than I had in me. I was happy to have a reason to phone AB and insist that he come over asap to help - and bring a towel and extra clothes for Leif.

He return phone called a few minutes later asking me to come and pick them up. Leading me to question what part of "Leif is in an inground swimming pool that goes to six or more feet" he didn't understand. Oh and this is also the point at which I was THRILLED that my son has finally figured out the poop training thing. Paddling over to me in the inner tube and telling me he had to poop made me ultra proud... and relieved. Ok, more relieved.

AB showed up with a newly wakened Bean in an outfit to make a mother bawl. Got to get those binder clips. Let's see... mauve pants (too small) a pink WSU Cougars undershirt, and her pink going home from the hospital sweater (read way too small). AB told me they were all pink. Umm, not really. And "all pink" is not necessarily a good thing. Anyways...

So pool party for the three year old children? Not really a great idea. Great way to make the parents of your attendees sweat. Though the chocolate raspberry gourmet birthday cake went a long way to repair my nerves.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Beaner

So many of my posts are about the oldest child. He is just at "that" age where everything he does or says is funny or annoying, or both. It isn't Skadi's fault that she is a second child. So in some effort at fairness, I am hereby devoting this post to her. That pesky other child shall not be named in this post.

Skadi rolled over for the third time on her 4 month birthday. Why for the third time? Because her first two roll overs were when she was five days old. No joke and I have two credible witnesses. She thought she would take a break though and not give us proof that we were raising a particularly extraordinary baby. (Though we know she is.) In the last three weeks her mobility has gone from zilch to moves a foot in either 30 seconds or 30 minutes, depending on what is near her or what needs to be grabbed, or the necessity to avoid or grab a dog's tongue.

AB and I observed her watching us eat. She would flip her tongue around and munch with her mouth. So a little over a week ago we started her on solids. Rice cereal was particularly blah to her, but after a few days we went to applesauce with a little rice cereal mixed in. Heaven for the ravenous beast. We feared for our fingertips while feeding her this as she dives for the spoon (while simultaneously gagging herself). She is a quick learner, that gagging isn't so fun, things go so much better if she politely takes a bite and smacks her lips afterwards. Sweet potatoes were alright, though not the hit that applesauce was, BUT she found the holy grail last night in a nectarine straight off the tree.

I was carrying her around as I chomped my nectarine. Finally she went in for the kill, grabbed the nectarine and latched on. Yes, latched. She suffered immediate withdrawal effects evident by the screaming that ensued, as I instinctively pulled it away. And here is where it might be better to be the second child. I did what I never would have done with my first. I returned it to her and let her latch (don't worry I kept my hand on it), sucking all the nectarine juice she could get. And probably a few bits of nectarine as well. Nectarine juice from head to toe... on both of us.

Her daycare teacher told me that she doesn't think Skadi will take much serious in life. She is bound and determined to make the other babies smile in the room. She has a great toothless grin and loves to giggle. She tries to engage the other babies, but so far finds them to be a bunch of sour pusses as they only resort to screaming about her antics.

Skadi is different than her older brother in that she likes to hold things. For the other child, toys were for throwing on the ground while he sought to engage people. Despite her desire to entertain others, Skadi is a little more introverted and focused. She has a bunny - little nutbrown hare - that she loves. When you hold it in front of her she opens her arms and embraces it happily. She holds nutbrown hare for quite some time and occupies herself easily inspecting the ears, eyes and tasting the ears and feet.

Skadi has finally figured out the Jumperoo. She bounces, though she doesn't do it out of sheer desire to bounce (like some other unnamed child). She bounces to please us. Once we are out of sight, the bouncing ceases immediately. Standing nearby causes low level bouncing, while direct eye contact and smiling results in gleeful bouncing.

She is a decent sleeper. She goes to bed about 8pm. Still consistently up at 2-3am to nurse, back down until 4-5am, quick nurse and usually out until 7am. Her naps are fairly inconsistent, but usually an hour in the morning and three hours in the afternoon.

She is a happy girl provided she gets her sleep and has a full tummy.

My willful charmer

When my son was in daycare as an infant, his teacher told me one day he was a "willful charmer". He was... and he still is. She warned me we were going to have to keep an eye on him. And wow she wasn't kidding.

Leif was invited to a birthday party on Sunday. I had no idea who the child was who invited him. It was a girl and had to be one of the older children in his class as I know most all of the younger ones. I had assumed it was an all class party, and so had no problem declining the invitation since he already had filled his social calendar for the day with another child's (who we know) birthday party.

Turns out it isn't an all class birthday party actually. And in fact, appeared to be more of an all kindergarten girl's birthday party and Leif. I finally figured out who the birthday girl was when she came up to me yesterday and told me how sad she and her girlfriends were that Leif wasn't going to come. A few other girls came up and said, "yeah, why can't Leif come". I informed them that we had other plans, but I hope they had a great time.

I really wanted to scream, "he is not your boy toy! Keep your claws off of him! He is a mama's boy and believe me, you don't want a mama's boy." Little hussies. (My daughter will be much smarter and will not fall prey to boys with pretty eyes.)

AB and I fear for Leif. He is showing all the signs... all the signs that he will have little girls calling for him anyday now. And all the signs that he understands the phrase, "if you got it flaunt it". The way he flashes me a dimpled smile after I tell him not to do something or decline him something he wants, just as if he were saying, "but you know you want to" strikes fear in my heart.

My willful charmer.

The problem with really good childcare

Is that when it isn't "really good" it is glaringly obvious.

I am presently counting the weeks until Skadi moves over to Little AB's Montessori school. I hate the thought of being eager for her to grow up. I want her to stay little (ok, young... nothing little about my girl)... I want her to stay young for as long as possible. But I can't help being frustrated with "standard" childcare.

When the day came to put her in daycare I had no problem walking in and dropping her off with Leif's old teacher and her new accomplice. Over the summer enrollment has dropped. The new accomplice tendered her resignation in favor of working road construction as a flagger (?!?!). And here we are.

I would be fine if she was in the room all day with Leif's old teacher as I requested and was assured would happen. I was OK, when she started spending 2.5 hours in the afternoon until I could pick her up in the other infant room. I am not fine with her being over in the other room for full days now.

I realize it is all logistics. Our favorite teacher works from 6:30am to 2:30pm. There are four babies who arrive before we, and the other infant room teachers do. Which means that those four babies are set up in the room by the time lucky #5 arrives. (That would be us.)

Arriving earlier? Yeah I have been missing my Wednesday telecons partly because I haven't quite mastered getting both kids up and the three of us ready and out of the house at a decent time. (The other part being that the project is short on funds and since my role is strictly consultant, I am expendable. No need to walk in late.) Additionally arriving earlier would mean I would need to pay more for extra hours for Leif. Just not happening.

I can hope enrollment picks up when school starts, thereby forcing them to hire another teacher to work with Miss R. I can wait to see what shakes down next week when Skadi's cohort returns from visiting family in Germany (thereby increasing enrollment by one.) I can (and will) go and talk to the director about wanting Skadi in IR1 and the apparent lack of care in IR2. (And do I mention the fact that one of the IR2 teachers doesn't put her own children in proper carseats thereby forcing me to call into question her ability to safely and properly care for my kid?) All of these things I can say. Though I doubt it will force anyone into action. Logistics of a daycare business.

I have spent a little time today searching au pair and nanny sites. Maybe if I had someone to care for Skadi all day in our home and help me get Leif ready in the mornings things would run a little smoother for us all. But the going rate for personal care is not easy to swallow. (Not that I am getting by on the cheap with our current daycare where I am paying $35 more a week with Skadi than I did with Leif at this age - that's 18% more in three years. Not complaining... I am just saying.)

But then I come back to how much I like being able to go see and feed Skadi at lunchtime and her being only 5 minutes from me. How much is that worth?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Switching things up

I flexed an extra hour today at lunch to go get groceries. Getting groceries is one of the chores that I actually enjoy doing. I like looking at new selections, I like menu planning and since I like food, I don't mind buying it. What I don't like is hauling Leif and/or Skadi with me. Either way it is akin to carrying one or two ticking time bombs. One that will look at me ravenously once she wakes up. The other who might start having fun selecting produce, but by the third aisle of dried goods has had enough and whining sets in.

Sure, I could have done this on the weekend. Fit it in somewhere between swimming and the Saturday evening BBQ. Provided of course, that I could do all my ahead of time food prep without the needed groceries. Yeah, nevermind. I don't know when I was going to do it. I can run into a store with the kids, as long as I can run out equally as fast. I can send AB to the store on his way home, but unless it is vital, I try not to since I know how much he looks forward to coming home after a 10 hour day and a 45 minute commute.

I actually remembered to toss a cooler in the car this morning too, in an attempt to counter the forecasted 103 degree weather for my perishables. I very nearly forgot to buy a bag of ice at the grocery store. But the nice bagger ran to the back of the store to retrieve me a bag while I was in line.

Just the fact that I can mark something off my weekend "to do" list, thrills me to pieces. This is going to have to become routine.

Something like being robbed

Yesterday when I went to pick Skadi up, one of my favorite substitutes was manning the room. She was a regular in the infant room when Leif was there. A little ditzy, but talk about love the kids. She does. And she really does try. (As compared to a few other teachers who amaze me with their abilities to shut off their brain to the screams of an unhappy infant.)

She told me while smiling that she and her new husband are going to try to have a baby here in a year or so and that their number one name for a girl is Skadi. Told me how she just loves the name.

I wonder if she felt the daggers from my eyeballs hit?

Skadi as a name, as I have said before, is either loved or hated. Some people are indifferent. Then there is my grandmother who spent a week with us in June and still can't figure out how to pronounce her name. It doesn't matter since we love it, it holds meaning for us and I can't imagine our daughter being named anything else.

If someone told me they wanted to name their son Leif, I would be fine with that. His is a popular enough name. I am not sure I can put into words why this bugs me so. Why I need my daughter to be the one and only.

When I told AB this last night he reminded me that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Also added in, "wouldn't it be cool if we started a trend?"

No! It wouldn't be cool! My daughter's name is unique (some might say uneek), but it is her. My red haired, blue eyed, fair skinned daughter IS Skadi, the one and only.

I know, if I am that torn up about it, tell her. But I could never do that. I mean, if you love a name, you should use it. No matter what. Maybe... over the next few years she will happen upon another name she loves. Maybe she won't even have a girl.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Getting over it

The whole "I need a new house" thing. Very nearly over it.

So we went and looked at what from the outside appeared to be an awesome development in an ideal location last week. (Blogged about it here.) Ideal location in cutting the commute. But not ideal as in long ways from all the shopping and schools. My kids would be destined to long bus rides to school. And as someone who grew up literally across the street from my grade school, that just isn't going to work. Oh and not to mention the price tag. We would like a travel trailer next spring and I have some hopes of being able to go to 75-80% time at work so I can have more one on one time with the kids. So putting it all together, AB and I have agreed that we have ruled out that development.

We went down to the house on the coveted lot down the street on Saturday afternoon. I had actually figured I was going to walk in and hate it, and so I just needed to see it so I could move on. AB on the other hand was bound and determined he was going to walk in and love it. We met halfway in the middle.

I was pleasantly surprised given that it was a two story house, and I prefer ramblers or ranch style. AB was disappointed from his initial "I know I am going to love this house" take.

There were a lot of little things with the house both positively and negatively. It was a weird house which I can only assume was a custom design. Why else would you put an actually pretty decent kitchen off facing against a wall and not into the great room? Why put nice Pergo flooring in the dining room butted up next to green and purple linoleum in the kitchen? Why put top of the line fixtures in the kitchen, and bargain basement clearance crap in the bathrooms?

As far as I could see, the house wasn't worth the $269K asking price. Though I hope it really is as that would bode well for my house. Because while it has a bonus room that our house doesn't, and a third car garage and a much larger lot, our house is "nicer". We could buy the house, but it needs a lot of work put into it to make it what we want. And I am not doing that with a house that is only 3-4 years old.

Saturday night AB and I sat on the patio, under the pergola with glasses of wine in hand and a fire in the firepit, kids asleep. I love my house. The thought of moving out of my house that I brought my babies home to pains me. We bought this house as a single couple who had lived in apartments to that point. We had no idea at the time how we were going to fill all those rooms, cupboards and shelves. Five years later and we have filled them.

We don't have an immediate need to move. We are running out of room, we lack storage space completely, but nothing is changing anytime soon. We want a fourth bedroom that will act as a guest room. We want a three car garage. I want a kitchen with functional cabinets and a walk in pantry. But none of these things are "needs".

We are giving thought to calling a real estate agent we met and liked awhile back and giving her a list of exactly what we are looking for, in what areas, at what price and strict instructions to only call us if something that fits the bill comes onto the market. That is plan one. Plan two has us buying one of the view lots we have been drooling over for sometime now. Sit on it for a year while we get together with Josh and design our house. Pay for him to come up and help us as needed (and to play golf). And build our dream house over the course of about 2 years. (Hi Josh... we haven't told YOU this yet, of course.)

Either way, cool our heels. We are doing just fine in our currrent house. (And I am thinking I want to actually benefit from some of the upgrades we might like to make to our house to make it sell better.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The first stitches. Three of them.
I was screaming "be careful" every five minutes at a birthday party on Saturday. The boys were VERY rowdy. Leif survived a barage of lacrosse sticks, a bounce house and 8 rowdy boys ranging in age from 3 to 9.
What brought him down? Running on the concrete.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seeing what's out there

AB (and Leif since he was home from school recovering from a pukey day yesterday) came by and grabbed me for lunch. We ran out to a development nearby where I work. It has intrigued us because it cuts AB's commute literally in half and mine down to about 1/3.

And that's about all it has going for it.

We walked around the view lots, impressed and picked out a few to inquire on. We loved the builder's style and had seen a few of the homes last year at the Parade of Homes. We started writing down a lot of numbers and dreaming "what if".

We went to the model home. Of course we walked into the house, which really threw Leif since we don't just walk into a house. Once he got over the shock of walking into a house unannounced he kept yelling "anyone here?"

Amazingly, there wasn't. We had expected to get bombarded by a sales person of some sort.

We wandered around the three bedroom, two bath house. It was pretty. Nice slate tile, custom cabinets and countertops. Leif kept asking to "go upstairs and wake them up". Because apparently there should be people there and they must have been sleeping.

Our dreaming turned to dust when we saw the price. $439,000. We don't live in the big city. This house had no view, no hot tub, pool, outdoor kitchen, or even a freaking walk in pantry. (One my anal retentive requirements for our next home.) It was about the size of our home, a few hundred square feet larger thanks to the bonus room, but that's it. And we will be LUCKY to get $200,000 for our house - though we hope for $220K.

We actually know a few people in this development who are paranoid and a little freaked out by the stall in home sales around them. Neighborhoods left undeveloped, houses not moving. Yet houses are listing for at least 50-75% more than what would be reasonable anywhere else in town.

We haven't decided when we will move, though it would be nice to be on that path by the time Skadi is moving out of our bedroom and into her little room (thereby fully eliminating my guest room). According to my MIL (one of the most savvy real estate agents ever) we have a lot of work to do on the house (new carpets, paint trim outside, little details inside) before moving - we know this, but sometimes need to be reminded.

We are kicking around staying in the house until Leif goes to first grade - in which case I am thinking I might go the bunk beds route and put both kids in the bigger safari themed bedroom and use the guest room for toy storage. Or not. Not many people visit us anyways, but I like having an extra queen bed around for those nights when AB snores or can't sleep and tosses and turns, or one of the kids is sick and needs us close (our bedroom is across the house).

Then 10 minutes later we kick around the idea of trying to move next spring. Who knows. Our goal right now is to get an idea of what's out there and for how much.

Plus, who knows if we could even sell our house right now. We will have a challenge with selling it in a good market because of the towering monstrosity behind us. In a crappy market? Ugh. My MIL recommended renting it... yeah, that's the headache I need on top of working full time and raising two kids is dealing with a rental.

AB is supposed to be calling the agent for the house on the coveted lot down the street this afternoon to schedule a viewing. It is still for sale and has dropped in price. We will see what that presents. (Though our friends down the street tell us you must like purple to move in... thankfully I don't mind painting.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On brand name recognition

So that no one thinks I was being preachy or pedantic in the previous post about not going to McDonalds... truly, it is just our thing that we try not to frequent fast food often as much for my and AB's health and waistline as for our children... I thought I would admit to what our crux is.


Yes, we drive by Starbucks and Leif immediately starts squealing "Starbucks! I want a latte!"

(His latte is a children's hot cocoa.)

The difference? I know that *I* have done this to my child. My obsession has become his. He hasn't picked this up from anywhere but me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On McDonalds and preschoolers

Leif slept all morning while I was getting ready, so since we don't have the TV on while he is up unless it is an acceptable movie or something Tivo'd for him that doesn't have commercials in it, I relished the morning listening to the news on TV while I got ready.

I listened to a story about how a study was performed on preschoolers ages 3-5 about their food preferences. They presented the children with food wrapped in a McDonalds wrapper or in a plain wrapper and asked which they preferred. Well not surprisingly the kids overwhelmingly preferred the same food from the McDonalds wrapper.

As a scientist, my main question about this study was what happens if you put a wrapper with say... balloons and monkeys on it next to it as well. Would the kids cue in on this? Isn't there something to that they like the colors over the plain white wrapper? My guess would be yes... or at least my toddler would because his favorite color is yellow.

My three year old doesn't know McDonalds. We have been inside one once, maybe twice while traveling. He didn't even eat the food there (that we bought), but instead played in the play area. My child wouldn't know food from McDonalds from Wendy's from Burger King from the freezer. I am not saying this to be condescending. And truly it isn't something I necessarily set out to do.

Instead what I set out to do was to limit the amount of network television, with commercials that my son sees. It actually isn't hard. We are too busy to watch TV when home together as a family. I can also say this because my husand and I work and we aren't home with them all day. So that very limited time when we are home together, we aren't in front of the boob tube. And I like the boob tube! Don't get me wrong there either. I have no problem with the TV, but when it comes to my kids I prefer to monitor very closely what they are watching. And preferably not commercials because, for one I don't care to feel like I have to buy the IT toy every year for Christmas.

Back to the story. There was a debate between a woman for commercial free childhood debating (if you could call it a debate) a man from somewhere. The woman argued that it should be legislated that corporations couldn't market to children. How do you legislate this? Where do you draw that line between something a child would be interested in and something too old for kids? When advertising ceases to placate to kids, wouldn't they just become interested in what is being shown to adults? And why is it because it is good for me, it is good for everyone else in the US?

I am a capitalist and believe in the free market. I am also pretty libertarian at heart and believe that the government should have a minimal role in our lives and that we as humans should be trusted to do what we deem right and moral. So I am obviously opposed to such legislation.

One woman interviewed said that she got tired of her 4 year old daughter seeing the "M", the Golden Arches, and squealing "McDonalds!" everytime they drove by one.

And whose fault is this? Apparently, it's McDonalds fault. You know, not the actual parents fault.


Coming home tonight:

Leif: "WINNY! Stop jumping by me Winny, I am fragile!"


At lunch on Tuesday:

Leif: "Mommy help me." (Pulling at his pants while sitting eating lunch.)

NM: "Leif, what's wrong, what do you need help with?"

Leif: "I want to see my penis."

NM: "We don't take our penises out at the table."

(For the list of things I never thought I would hear myself say.)


This one is just more perplexing to us:

Leif: "I'm going to be a Colorado!"

Jumps off couch/chair/porch/whatever yelling COLORADO!

AB and I are completely perplexed. Though I had Leif tell my mom on the phone and she thought he said, "I'm going to Colorado" and when she started talking about things in Colorado (her cats) he agreed with her.

So my thinking is... we go on an airplane to go to Colorado. He is being like an airplane going to Colorado?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What a difference a day makes

Yeah so I was actually looking forward to going to work on Monday. Wouldn't it just figure then that Leif woke up with a fever after a very rough night. Started about 102F, then went to 103F and finally topped out at 104.3F. Yes, I was freaking. He was lethargic and burning up, yet telling me I was hot when I touched him.

A highly anticipated visit to the doctor where he was disappointed not to get another shot (weird child), instead a course of prescribed antibiotics. A good nap, a good night's sleep and what a difference a day makes. He is a different child today.


Last night AB was trying to figure out how to request time off to go interview for a position as an engineering sales rep. He wasn't thrilled about the job, though there were nice perks (car, phone, laptop) but lots of downsides (travel, working out of the home, doing sales). But it was a permanent position.

He went in to work today and was offered a full time permanent position with the company he is interning with! What a difference a day makes.


I got an e-mail yesterday afternoon that set me off, it said: "Thanks to everyone for the submissions to this year's proposal call. They were all high quality. The first cut was made yesterday. If you didn't make the first cut, you will get an e-mail why." Being that I hadn't received an e-mail about making the first cut, I steamed and snorted, got teary and emotional, then growled and grumbled about how my whole purpose in my directorate (supposidly) is to establish a surface science capability. Well how am I supposed to do that when my proposals never make it past the first stage and no one seems to want to step out of the box and investigate surface science techniques as options for these types of issues? I was steamed and ready to go to my mentor and gripe, oh hell with it, I was going to go to my manager and scream. I was ready to make a call and tell a certain large corporation I was ready for that interview - afterall, AB's job prospects were about as bright as my career last night.

Then this morning I got the list of proposals and PI's. Out of sheer torment I clicked it open to see who exactly got the "go ahead". Yeah yeah yeah... the usual suspects. There's my name. What? There is a "Y" by my name! What the?? After triple checking to make sure that a "Y" meant the "go ahead" to the next step I nearly cried. And then I kicked myself for jumping to conclusions last night and getting all worked up that the powers that be would actually send out "congrats" notices as opposed to a spreadsheet after the first downer e-mail. (Bunch of analytical analytics...) My future may have something in store here... what a difference a day makes.


Last night we were talking about moving out of the area. Today we talked about resuming our hunt for lots/houses for sale. What a difference a day makes. (And if my FIL is reading, yes Horn Rapids is on our list for this weekend.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I need to go back to work tomorrow...

In order to recover from my crazy busy weekend. Hate boring "this is what I did" posts? Feel free to skip this.

I am not sure when we got so busy. Don't get me wrong, it's all with good things, but my head starts spinning keeping our weekend plans straight.

The weekend even started a few hours early for me when Skadi was sent home with a full body rash, a low grade fever and crankiness. (She had immunizations on Tuesday, I am sure it was her system responding.) Thankfully for me, we got home and she slept the entire afternoon enabling me to knock out a few hundred mints for our friend's shower.

I remember now why my mom used to have "mint making parties" when I grew up. They are tastey, but it is a lengthy undertaking. I really enjoyed doing it actually as I sat there and watched bad afternoon TV knowing I really had nowhere else I needed (or should) go. We ordered Mexican in and had a good evening after kids went to bed watching Burn Notice. AB told me, though I proclaim his statement sacreligious, that Burn Notice is his new favorite and might even trump Big Love. I warned him that was grounds for divorce.

Saturday we got up and went to swimming where Leif and C splashed us and amazed us with their newfound abilities. Ok, truth be told, C amazed us with her new found abilities from her trip to see grandma and grandpa where she spent countless hours perfecting the butterfly. We ran to Target and some other errands then home for naptimes. And I am just going to note here that life is so nice with the kids currently napping at the same time in the afternoon.

After nap Leif had a playdate with one of his friend's from school. We stand at a new precipice... J was dropped off for his playdate with Leif. We have had a few playdates with him to the point, and I had told his mom that since she was packing and trying to get ready for their trip to Germany, that J was welcome to come over and give her a break. He did and I was shocked. Shocked at how well Leif and J played together. I never heard fighting over toys. Just two silly boys that started playing outside, moved inside and put sunglasses on their bellies and hunted for monsters in the house, and then cooked palotino and cinnabeannies with Leif's pots and pans. (Got me... here I was expecting to find out at pick up it was some German specialty that I needed a recipe for. Nope, his Dad was as perplexed as I was.)

So the play date without the other parent? Refreshing. I didn't need to clean my house... well just a little so that J's dad didn't think he was leaving his child in a death trap. (I was a touch worried when Leif came walking by with AB's lighter from the BBQ... no he can't light it, but I did shoot a glare at AB along the lines of "we have talked about putting those things up!") But while J was there, Leif was occupied playing and I fixed dinner while AB worked in the yard. I didn't have to hear once, "I want to watch a movie, no Curious George, no Clifford, no Baby Einsteins, no Curious George..."

AB and I fixed steaks for dinner and then settled down to watch Miss Potter (that AB picked out!) afterwards. I made it through about 1/3 before I was exhausted and snoozing.

Sunday we had a quiet morning. We headed out for a walk, a long one and Leif rode his tricycle quite vigorously. AB, who balked a few months ago that a 3yo on a tricycle needed a helmet has now changed his mind. Leif is a madman on his trike. Oh and that steer bar for the parents? So not coming off anytime soon... we need to maintain some control. I didn't know little legs could move so fast!

Much to Leif's excitement naptime came and went. All weekend he had been looking forward to going to C's house. We told him that he was going after nap on Sunday, so all Sunday morning he kept asking if he could go take a nap now? While it was tempting to call his bluff and take him up on it, I really wanted to maintain the schedule. He woke up a happy boy and was ready straight away to head out to the Open House Shower for our friends hosted by V.

I told V this on Friday... I don't know how she does it. If it is energy level, I want some. If it is not needing sleep, teach me how. The spread she put together was thoroughly amazing. It was a dessert and champagne (or other sparkley drinks) co-ed shower. It was gorgeous. And V really topped herself in putting so many fabulous desserts on the table that ALL exceeded any normal expectations for dessert. The shower was for our friends who are adopting a 3.5 year old from India and will soon be venturing over to get her. I can't wait to meet her.

We headed out from the shower and straight over to another couple's house for dinner. We talk to them a lot at the kid's school, and I have e-mailed with them both on occasion, but we have never gotten together. Once again, Leif and A played fabulously. (Three playdates, one weekend.) And they went all out in a totally unnecessary manner. They had a gift for Leif and a cake with candles for the boys to blow out. We had been working on getting over the whole "it's my birthday" thing... oh well! They cooked some fabulous salmon with a mushroom salsa, corn and a salad.

And once they found out that we enjoy wine? Well they opened two really stellar bottles (Owen Roe Merlot and a syrah I didn't see on the website). We found out we have friends in common, we share the same really wonderful ob/gyn. AB always comments that he could see us being good friends with my ob/gyn and I always tell him I am not sure I want to be good friends with the guy who checks me out down there. Well apparently that isn't a problem for J! They are really good friends with them, in fact, good enough that the good doc is willing to go to the other hospital to deliver their children since it is closer to their house.

As we left, the boys hugged AND kissed - which was WAY too cute seeing the little boys lip kiss. We left dinner as though we had left a first date. Did they have as good of a time as we did? Was it weird when I said this? I wonder if they had fun? And trying to figure out when we can have them over so that we can foster the friendship, and not be "those" people who never reciprocate.

Now? It is quiet in my house as everyone else sleeps. No wonder, it is late. And I am still looking forward to work tomorrow so I can relax a little. (And finish those last four proposals that need to be reviewed...)

A tale of two businesses

With so much competition out there for your business, it amazes me how little or how much some companies are willing to do to maintain business. Here are two extremes from the past week.


I ordered a Memory Book for my FIL for Father's Day. It didn't arrive. After 17 days of waiting I e-mailed and two days later received a note telling me to wait to do anything until it hadn't arrived after 14 business days from the order date. They actually do sell calendars.

The Memory Book arrives with a huge dent. After a week of negotiating (four e-mails because it takes a few days for them to respond to each one) I told them that I was taking my business elsewhere due to their "not going to budge solution". Their solution was that my FIL ship it back for their inspection, they would credit my account if indeed it was defective (no clue as to what happens if THEY didn't find it defective) and then I could remake and order a new Memory Book. I had a mini fit of sorts with statements about the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of dollars I had spent there over the years without ever filing a complaint and stated they would ship it back, they can credit my account, but then I was making and ordering it from someone else, thank you very much.

Even though this did prompt them into action, I may still start using Shutterfly because it just really should not have been that difficult.

We ordered a hitch carrier since we now have very little room in the SUV for camping/travel gear now that the backseat is occupied by rugrats and the trunk by a big hairy black dog. Found out it was not going to arrive in time after all, refused delivery after the camping trip was completed since AB bought one at our local Joe's.

I noted it hadn't been credited back to my card (about 3 weeks later). I e-mailed Amazon yesterday. Got an e-mail back last night saying it was apparently lost in transit, they couldn't find it (I could feel the headache starting), but they went ahead and credited my card for $126 because the tracking did show I had refused delivery. (Headache spontaneously gone.)

Guess who wins my business for life?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Feeling the Love

Aside from Shannon and my mom, who else is addicted to Big Love? I just can't get enough. And I am already getting teary over the fact that there are only four more episodes. Six Feet Under despite it's finished status, has been my favorite TV series for some time now, but the podium is getting a little shaky.

I watched this week's episode a second time with AB last night. It was just as good as the first time around. Though at least I could fall asleep afterwards. Tuesday night when I watched it for the first time I could.not.fall.asleep. I felt like such a dork laying in bed smiling and stunned about a TV show!

AB asked me the other day why women like it? He can't imagine why a woman would enjoy watching a show about polygamy, after all isn't it demeaning to women? And he is right about polygamy, in general, being demeaning to women... however, aside from bringing home the bacon, and the bacon, and the bacon, Bill doesn't run the house, the women do.

AB and I joke that with as busy as we are, we need a second wife too. Of course *I* would prefer that she not be pretty like Chloe (because Chloe is really gorgeous even if Nicki looks like she came from the hills), or a hotey in bed like Margene (who has a super body for being pregnant with her third), instead just someone willing to do the laundry, clean my house, have a good tasting, healthy meal on the table when we get home, make sure we always have milk in the fridge and maybe sleep on the floor since we have no room in our house. Oh and for no pay, after all we are talking wife here, not maid.

Kiddo Stats


4 months and very happy.
18 lbs 14.5 oz and "just over 95th percentile".
26" long and "95th percentile"
She obviously doesn't miss a meal!
Four shots were misery for her. Poor baby screamed and screamed.

3 years and also very happy
32 lbs and "55th percentile"
39.25" and "85th percentile"
He is my beanpole... poor child has no butt.
One shot and not a whimper. The next day my masochistic child asked to go back and get another shot.

Leif Teeth:
Update on his teeth. He saw my dentist for a second opinion. I have always though of my dentist as a dry curmudgeon. But I adore his hygienists and he is technically very good. I know, I have far too much experience with dentists. I have to say he was amazing with Leif and took far more time with him then his last dentist at the pediatric dentist, showing him all his tools and letting him squirt the water. When he was done examining him, he made him a puppy dog out of a balloon. Love him.

He agreed with Leif's ped dentist that he needs four crowns on his molars. They are hypoplastic and soft, he believes some decay is setting in and doesn't recommend waiting. Oh and he does NOT want to do them. Told me to schedule it with his ped dentist and to do general anesthesia on him. He, and his son, who is there doing an internship in dentistry both highly recommended the ped dentists. Son shadowed him earlier this summer and said he was amazing. Ok, I am sold.

I have a three year old... gulp!

Leif is three. How did that happen? Yesterday he was just Skadi's size I am sure. Or I mean, yesterday he was just Skadi's age. (Because truly he probably was Skadi's size yesterday.)

We had a really great weekend with Leif. One of the best in a long time. I think I only started counting 12 times or so. Sunday was his actual birthday, but we kept it low key with presents to open throughout the day. We let him open one or two and then go play with it. When he got bored we would encourage him towards another.

Saturday was the big day and it started with him coming into our room for a snuggle at 5:40am and he was coaxed back to sleep for another hour and a half. However, a queen size bed never really was meant to house two adults, a large infant who sprawls and a three year old who kicks. AB complained he slept with a butt cheek hanging off. Oh well, it was a nice morning with two sleeping kiddos.

We got up, got ready and headed out to Leif's birthday party. A supposed quick stop at Starbucks for coffee (that turned into a VERY long stop) and we were on our way. All the 15 kids who RSVP'd showed up. It was a really fun morning watching them all play.

Leif got to do the slingshot bungee thing. We had him go after daredevil C because we were paranoid he would chicken out. We wanted him to see how much fun C had, because there was no way she was going to chicken out. Leif saw how fun it was and on his turn he decided to ham it up with a "KACHOW!" at the vertex of each sling. (Nooo... we never watch Cars...)

He went home and willingly crawled into bed and took a nap. (Did you read that? I wrote "willingly"!!) Once up from nap we went and ran errands. AB needed a watch for work and we needed sand for the birthday present sandbox.

We had dinner plans (razor clams), but on the drive home realized it was almost 6pm and no way was dinner getting done anytime soon. And we were hot and tired. We saw Round Table and decided we would make a birthday pitstop for dinner.

I was nervous... Skadi is out of her infant carrier, but not big enough to sit up. Leif hasn't been out to eat in awhile and I wasn't in the mood for fights. But we figured Round Table was a good testing ground. There were kids running all over. Many highly obnoxious. I feared Leif wanting to join in. Maybe he did want to join in, but he stuck close and only crawled under the table once (grosssss). Then he sat down and ate dinner - a whole piece of pizza and a carton of milk!

While we were finishing up two young panhandlers came by the table. My guess is that they were 5 and 7. The older brother convinced the little sister to come ask us for money. Parents? Completely oblivious. Had it been my kid, I would have been appalled. We sent them away empty handed.

A little while later (while discreetly nursing Skadi and coaxing Leif to finish up so we could go) the woman from the next table came over. I thought maybe I was going to get chastized for breastfeeding in plain sight or something like that even though I was covered. Not that I ever have been chastized, but I am paranoid about it. (I know, come on, I live in Washington state... everyone breastfeeds here.)

"You have a very well behaved little boy," she tells us.

I nearly turned into a blubbering idiot right there. On the outside I politely thanked her for the comment. Seriously? Someone thought MY little boy was well behaved?

Leif was an angel all day... maybe we were in opposite world.