Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The most observant toddler that ever lived

We have a little 10 gallon fish tank that has grown on Leif and I amazingly, AB could take it or leave it. It houses two goldfish who apparently live in the lap of luxury since they are nearly twice their size compared to their purchase size. It also houses their faithful servant, "Cleaner Fish" named by Leif, our plecostomas. AB and I call him Pleco and are very grateful for his services.

Leif and I check out the tank daily, feed the fish and talk about what they are doing. Yesterday after work Leif and I were admiring the fish when I noted to myself, and a few minutes later to AB, that Pleco had gone belly up. AB and I both mourned his passing briefly, and agreed to not say a word. Then when Leif went into the bath, the person not hanging out with him in the bathroom would flush poor Pleco. (We think the tank may have become too cold for him this winter, our tank thermometer was reading between 68-70F.)

From very limited experience, I figured this would be least traumatizing to Leif. And I definitely don't want him to know about the existance of the fish net. When I was in 2nd grade I remember my best friend's little brother's guinea pig died. He was about 3-4 years old at the time.

"Well he definitely never gets another pet of his own," I remember his mom telling my mom, "I took the cage out and removed the animal and all, and he never even noticed!"

Apparently all kids are not the same. Right after work today Leif was in by the fish tank. He was quiet a little while as I repaired a section of the train track that I tripped over.

"Mommy," Leif starts, "where's Cleaner Fish?"

Pause.

"I think Cleaner Fish went to visit his other Cleaner Fish friends," I fibbed... sort of... I am sure he is visiting other little Cleaner Fish in heaven.

"Daddy know?" Leif asks.

"Yes, daddy helped him pack his things for his visit," I told him.

"Ok," Leif says.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fibbing

Do you remember testing out fibbing when you were a kid? I remember my first fib. I was young, 2-3 probably, we were leaving our trailer and I remember my dad looking down and asking if I was picking my nose. I said no, even though I had been. He had obviously seen me and I am sure my voice wavered with hesitation in my answer. I still suck at lying. Badly suck at it. Best just for me to not exaggerate, fib or lie, because if I am not seen through right there, it WILL come back to haunt me later. (In fact… I have a funny story… will put it at the end.)

Leif fibbed to me yesterday. We have a new nap tactic, he has “quiet time” now. He goes potty, gets a drink of water, gathers up toys and books to play with on his bed during “quiet time” and sits on his bed for naptime. During the three days of this method he has been asleep within 15-30 minutes of the start of quiet time. A record. I know he is going to fall asleep, he is obviously tired, but simply telling him he doesn’t have to sleep, just sit and play on his bed, seems to buy us a ton of mileage and with no tears.

We aren’t hardcore about him staying in bed. He is newly potty trained and I don’t want him hesitating to get out of bed to go use the potty. So on the occasion that he has gotten out of bed for no good reason, we simply gently remind him that during “quiet time” he needs to stay on his bed.

Sunday I heard suspicious noises coming from his room. I opened the door and went in. There he sat on the bed holding his elephant knobs off his dresser. Something he didn’t take with him into quiet time earlier. I asked him where those came from?

“They broke!” he told me, “elephants walk over play quiet time.”

“Oh, they came to see you?” I asked, “you didn’t go pull them off the dresser?”

“No,” he tells me, “I stay bed.” He was so serious and convincing. Then it dawns on me and fills me with fright that he didn’t get my transparency at lying.

I had to turn around to leave then because I didn’t want him to see me cracking up laughing.

Ok, so my funny story… my MIL for our birthdays sent us a check. But she missed one minor detail… it wasn’t signed. We talked about what we should do… don’t deposit it or mention it was AB’s suggestion. But I worried that what if she kept close track of her register (like my mom does) and would start to wonder. We finally decided that he should just let her know that it wasn’t a big deal, but the check wasn’t signed, just so she knew what happened and why the check didn’t go in.

She laughed, of course, and then told AB to tell me to forge her signature and deposit it. AB’s handwriting sucks, so the task was given to me. I neurosed and stressed about this last night! I had a trip to the bank on the schedule for today so if we were going to deposit the check, I needed to forge the signature.

I got out a piece of paper and practiced. I wasn’t one of those kids who ever had reason to forge a signature growing up. So I sucked at this task! AB laughed at me as I had him analyze my upswoops and my number and shape of lumps and bumps on my n’s and m’s. It is hard forging someone’s signature! Particularly when you don’t have something with their actual signature on it. Thankfully our last names are the same and she had written that on the check!

Finally the time of truth comes. I pull out the check and grab a black pen. I drew the “C” and then I choked! The pen I was using was far finer than the pen she wrote the check out with! I willed myself to go on, it would look far more suspicious if I changed pens at that point. I told myself for all I know she signs all her checks first and then writes them out. Ok, so yeah, she probably doesn’t…

Finally, success! I tell AB that the check is going into the ATM and not the drive-up teller I normally use during the day because I don’t want to hand the check to anyone. He laughs at me.

I got to the bank today and the drive-up ATM is out of order! Figures! I drive to the teller and put the questionable check in the middle of the others, put it in the amazing flying cylinder and I wait.

The speaker clicks on!

“Mrs. NM,” the teller says, “We seem to be having a problem.”

I nearly choke. My heart starts pounding. I can hardly breathe. My face is turning 500 shades of red. I just know I am busted.

She continues.

“I can’t seem to read one of the numbers in your account number you wrote on your deposit slip.”

A very bad liar I am. Good thing I don’t work in sales… my blood pressure would be through the roof!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Purging (no binging involved)

Purging our house has been one of the major preparations we have undertaken with regards to preparing for this baby. With Leif, a 3-bedroom house seemed just fine. We have our bedroom, the guest/office/junk room and then there was an extra room just waiting to be filled with baby stuff.

I don't know how many times today AB and I have said, "why did we buy a 3 bedroom house" or "where are we going to put all this". I admitted to feeling hopeless. AB wondered aloud (and should have probably wondered silently), our friend's houses aren't like this...

AB started in the garage early this afternoon. It looked daunting, but it wasn't a huge deal. A lot of the stuff was large items that were either out of place pending relocation (a hand me down toybox from neighbors, repainted shelves to go back in Leif's new room once painted), in storage (jogging stroller), or big Costco packs (paper towels and TP). Oh and boxes. Boxes and boxes. How does one family accumulate so many boxes? (Don't answer that... online shopping is not an addiction, I can stop anytime.) He broke down the boxes and hauled them to recycling and then found places for the items preventing him from at least getting his car in the garage.

AB came in when finished and informed me two cars now fit in the garage, but probably not me. I looked at him and he was dead serious. Two cars yes, two cars and a pregnant woman, no dice. I haven't ventured to the garage yet.

When we bought this house nearly five years ago AB and I, to that point, had been apartment dwellers. A 2060 square foot, 3 bedroom home, 2 bath with dual car garage was a spacious luxury. I remember us marvelling at the bare space wondering how we were going to fill it. Five years later and we have found many shortcomings in our house. But first and foremost at our minds today was how in the world do we deal with the severe lack of storage space? And why was this house designed with such little storage space.

Because of the high water table in this region, basements are rare. AB and I both grew up in regions where basements were a given. Here if you are lucky enough to have a home with a view on a hill, then you are probably afforded the luxury of a basement. Otherwise, good luck. I never realized what a luxury a basement was. About right now I am willing to trade my 10 and 12 foot ceilings for a basement.

We cleaned out about half of the guest room to this point in getting ready to paint it for Leif. I have pulled boxes of stuff out and am reminding myself how well I lived without these things to this point... and that my choice is trash or Goodwill. There are a few things worthy of posting for sale online - like 3+ yards of decorator width blue faux crushed velvet still on the spool. But for the most part it is just a matter of loading it into the trash or loading it in the car for dropoff in exchange for a tax deduction.

AB is talking about buying a shed from Costco asap. We have talked about getting one for a few years, but never found it to be *that* necessary. We are to that point now. It is a necessity... one that bumps the boat and the purse down the list.

What we really need, however, is to reach a decision about where we are going to land. If it is here, then we will start househunting and preparing to move in the next year to year and a half.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Got hobbies?

One thing AB and I have never lacked in our lives, both separate and our life together, is interests and things to do. In addition to the long list of things we enjoy presently, there is the even longer list of things we would like to take up. Our limitation is time. And our priorities at this point in our lives are elsewhere, raising two little beings.

At the front of AB’s list is sailing. We live in the perfect area for this hobby. Last summer he and K, his closest friend here, took sailing classes. AB has every intention of doing this again this summer, and maybe multiple lessons. He ate it up. And bonus was that they were incredibly inexpensive. Something ridiculous like $59 for 6 weeks or something like that. My dad has an interest in sailing as well and also lives in the perfect area for sailing. I looked into sailing lessons for his birthday, extensively, and felt a little nauseous looking at the prices. I hope that our local Parks and Rec doesn’t decide to check out the going rate for sailing classes elsewhere anytime soon.

AB has been talking about wanting a sailboat for a long time. When I start in about not having the money, the talk will switch to “well we can share one with K&V” and then when I look at him with “that look” of we still don’t have the money, it will subside for a little while. But it will soon rise to the surface again.

AB’s great grandfather was a professional boat builder in Seattle in the early part of the century and in fact, many of his designs are on exhibit at the Smithsonian. His grandfather carried on the tradition as a hobby (he made a living building airplanes for Boeing). Our Christmas card picture (see below) is of us in one of AB’s grandfather’s boats. It is a wonderful old rowboat. And when we take it out on the water it is routinely noted and commented upon by others.



Boat building is in AB’s blood. (My ancestors, otoh, are land people with sickly sea legs.) In addition to sailing, AB has talked about undertaking boat building as a hobby someday.

The other day he sent me a link to this beauty. We often send links back and forth, so I clicked on it, registered it and went back to work. A few minutes later he calls asking if I saw his boat. Yes, I did, I told him. I want it, he tells me. I was unusually quick on my feet… “yeah I want a new Coach purse too”.

“Ok,” he replies.

I stopped. He was serious. He would never agree to a new Coach purse without a fair amount of talking, coaxing and planning. Like many people I know, $300-500 for a purse is just ridiculous according to AB. I understand completely. Other people spend money on things that I can’t even fathom and roll my eyes at.

“We’ll talk at home,” I said as I retrieved the e-mail from my trash again to take another look at the boat kit he wanted. At $1400 for the directions, sails, wood, all the supplies except a cordless screwdriver (which AB has to have a dozen of) and the sandpaper and stain, it isn’t a bad deal.

We did talk at home. I didn’t raise the issue of my Coach purse. If AB gets a boat kit, my Coach purse is a no brainer, particularly if VargasGirl has success for me at her local Coach outlet. He makes a compelling case. He is sure he could sell it for more than he paid for the kit… it would be great to have down at our family’s cabin on the coast, particularly this 4th of July… it is an easy kit to build, a great starter. And our anniversary is approaching in less than 2 months.

I, for one of the very few times, took up the devil’s advocate side regarding the potential purchase. You see, I am VERY good at spending money. I countered with how would we haul it… where would you build it (garage being obvious answer)… you would have to clean out your side of the garage then (easy)… when would you do this (thinking about the copious amounts of time we already have, not).

We landed at a happy medium for now. Let’s get our taxes done and see what the damage is there (nearly 6 months of untaxed unemployment benefits could take their toll). Then we need to think about future expenses… like daycare for #2. Revisiting our budget is necessary. We have slowly slipped back into old habits of spending freely. Something we had been very good at reigning in while AB was unemployed.

There is very little in the way of material possessions that AB wants in life. He never asks for anything. I have to coax out of him ideas for Christmas and birthday gifts. Wow, wouldn’t I love to say “go for it”. There is nothing more rewarding than giving the person you love most in the world something they truly want.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's not you, it's me.

It has been six lovely years with you. We met in Mammoth, California on AB’s and my first anniversary. You have been there for me, catching all my needs, keeping my necessary baggage private and safe. But I have grown, and you have not.

Those stains on the outside are telling. They used to be the occasional sloshed cocktail. But more recently you are spotted with applesauce thanks to your unfortunate placement during a minor table mishap. I still love you despite your spots.

You have held up like I never thought you would over the years. Still maintaining your shape (let’s focus on you… we can address me later). Not a stitch or seam broken or out of place. Given everything I have put you through, I am amazed. You have amazing resilience.

Still you look sad to me, a little worn. You see my frustrated face as I continue to ask more and more of you with every passing year. Just tonight, sticky toddler hands were rummaging around your interior in search of snacks. I saw you looking as I browsed your replacement on the internet. The new models! The options! The excitement! Yes, I know… the money. The money I don’t have right now.

But can you handle it? Can you handle the increased demands on you when this baby is born? You picked up your load a few years ago when I asked you to transition from not only just carrying my wallet, keys and sunglasses, but adding in there snacks, wipes, Kleenex, and occasionally moist sippy cups. How will you handle another child?

Retirement can be nice I hear. You have my word that you will never see the inside of a Goodwill truck or a garbage can. I promise. I am just asking for your blessing.

Don’t worry. It will take time. AB doesn’t come around very quickly with purchases like this. Although if one of those two patents comes through and yields an OPA… it could happen quickly, and I want you to be prepared. In the meantime… which of your offspring can carry my load?

This beauty? Or maybe this one... Am I aiming too high if I lean this way?
Remember, I love you my Coach purse. And it’s not you, it’s me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A question for the parents

Aa parent, how do you or should you deal with a favorite toy because you simply dislike it?

Leif was given a “monster truck” for Christmas with a flaming skull on the top and that says “Cremator”. Nice, huh? Yeah, the gift giver is poking my buttons… and I am nearly positive it was intentional.

He can’t read, so why should I worry about it? But I loathe the thing. I am inclined to toss the thing in the trash the next time it is left unattended. AB thinks I am overreacting, but chuckled when I pointed it out to him and did murmur, “what was she thinking?”

Ok, so I probably am overreacting and *maybe* if it had come from one of my beloved friends or family members I wouldn’t be nearly so offended. Just maybe. (Though my family would have *never* given him such an item… oh wait… maybe a certain couple would have…)

In the meantime, ignore it and chalk it up to “he can’t read” and doesn’t understand what is on the hood of the car OR get the bloody thing out of my house?

Nature versus Nurture

How much of what defines us in our gender roles is innate versus learned? This is something that really intrigues me and has for longer than I have been a parent. I think most parents set out with the intention not to impose gender roles upon their infants. To enact it, is far more difficult, especially as the infants turn into toddlers. Of course, with an infant you have societal pressures. Rarely was Leif ever called a girl. But I also never balked at dressing him in blue. Unlike many parents of girls I know who jump all over ANP clothes (Anything Not Pink). (And those parents probably have stories of even though their daughter was sporting pink, was still called a boy.)

This morning I heard an exchange at daycare that made me smile (being the shoe whore that I am). Our closest friend’s daughter was admiring another little girl’s shoes. “Ooooh,” she swoons, “I yike your shoes T!” The teacher comments also on T’s shoes. C continues on, while touching them, (yes, I sometimes long to touch the shoes too when they are particularly pretty) “sooooo shiney and sooooo pretty!” I smiled when I looked over and saw T wearing black patent leather Mary Janes. I wanted a pair so bad when I was a little girl. But they weren’t “practical”.

On my way into work it more dawned on me that I don’t think my son would ever say something like that. Ok, so he might acknowledge another boy’s new shoes, but the swooning was something I have never heard in my own house. (In our house we get either yelling or whining, the later being excessive right now, and rarely anything in between.)

On the other hand, right now my son is into growling. He strives to “scare” us and evidently all the girls in his daycare class. The other day another parent brought his daughter in. She stops, points at Leif and says, “daddy, that’s the scary boy”. And if nearly on cue, Leif turns and gives her his biggest bear growl. This is apparently not uncommon in his class right now… among the boys. But a few of the boys (probably following Leif’s lead) have taken this to the next level in targeting the girls to “scare them”. Nipping this in the butt is proving more difficult than initially anticipated.

Are they targeted simply because they don’t growl back? And why don’t they growl back? (Ok, I would have never growled back as a little girl, but it was probably shyness.) Or is it more complicated and that the kids are finally starting to recognize the difference between boys and girls? I mean they all walk around with their pants around their ankles lately. Leif is embarking into that obscure area where pronouns are coming into use. The other day he referred to Winny, our dog, as “him”. I corrected his error and he looked at me with a blank look. How do you teach gender idenfication? (Venturing into an area here that this blog is NOT intended to head... redirection. I am good at that.)

Leif has his core group of boys that he is close with and plays hard with. But he still enjoys interacting with the girls and doing such tasks as “washing babies”. He loves his baby doll, but also loves playing “crash”, where he just runs into a room and throws himself on the floor, all the while giggling and screaming “CRASH!” (Whereby I hope and pray there isn’t a table in the way.) I never played this game, never had a desire to and don’t recall even my tomboy-ish sister doing this. I don’t see the little girls in his class doing this, but it is evidently a favorite pastime among the boys. If the girls wanted to join in, they could. What stops them? My answer would be that it doesn’t look like fun.

Leif does things here and there that make his dad cringe. Like insisting on sitting with me as I put my limited make-up on in the morning and have powder put on his face. These are things that I can see as “learned”. No one has told him, nor has he observed, that this is not something boys don’t do. The fact that I do is relatively irrelevant, especially since I am a single datapoint and therefore statistically insignificant. (Who said math isn’t instinctive?)

Obviously it isn’t purely nature or nurture, but a mixture of both. Sorting out the roots of behaviors is fascinating to me, but my experience to draw upon is often singular and “well when I was a little girl”… and I was a prissy little girl.

I started this blog with a focus… it has wandered around a little and while I would love to tie it up with a closing statement, I don’t have one. They are all just my single data point observations of my son, statistically insignificant. But to a mom and observer of human nature, fascinating.

Friday, January 19, 2007

TGIF

I have felt out of sorts this week. I am naturally a pretty introverted person, but I have felt more quiet then normal. Additionally I have been a hormonal whack. I have been snippy with people, easily angered by small things and over-emotional. I am feeling more stressed as I see how quickly the weeks are ticking down to the birth of our second child. There is a lot to do still… (you can check out my list on my other blog…)

Hormones are really the only explanation that I can offer up, and I hope that most people understand. (Some, well, I just really don’t care and maybe I meant my snippiness!) I really have had a pretty spectacular week all in all, so no real reason to have been down in the dumps.

Recap:
1. Early this week I got a phone call from my manager. She called me while she was on travel to inform me of what my salary action is for this year. This means, of course, that I can’t expect my staff development review anytime in the next two weeks before payday, of course. But given the raise she quoted me over the phone, I suppose I can rest assured I haven’t ticked people off! It is about double what I expected. It is even larger than the “best case scenario” I have been quoting to AB. I really hope the words, “you’re kidding me” really only floated through my brain and not out my mouth. After I got my haircut on Wednesday night I scheduled a pedicure for next weekend to celebrate.

2. I had a meeting late this past week that actually may have contributed some to my mood. It was just a meeting I really stressed about. Was I doing the right thing by initiating the meeting? What will the response be? How am I going to manage my wild mood swings during this half hour? And how do I answer the inevitable questions that I know are going to come up… specifically, why? Out of fear mostly, AB was the only one who knew what was going on. The thought of “what if I am completely shot down?” took up residence in the front of my head along with the big letters… F-A-I-L-U-R-E in the back. Failure is my biggest weakness and fear.

I went to a manager of another group, in another directorate yesterday with my CV in hand. A few months ago, I was at my wits end after a meeting with my manager and a handful of fellow group members. It was one of the first group type meetings where I raised my hand and was quite vocal about what was being said and proposed. It frightened me. And it probably frightened me more that my mentor, a strategic hire with his own program and initiative was in the same boat. Why would they care about lowly old me when they are treating him in the same manner? Especially when he has other, and very obvious, options!

At that point I committed to myself that one of my personal goals this year was to start exploring other options across the lab. I stumbled upon one last week and knew that I had to push it forward. My meeting went very well yesterday. I let the manager talk some, I answered his questions while bloodying one side of my tongue and letting the other half run, albeit selectively restrained. I got the impression I didn’t tell him anything he probably didn’t already have a pretty good idea about. I think I came off well and learned a lot. I learned that this directorate will be undergoing a major reorganization this year and how the chips will fall is very unknown at this point. He offered me a few pointers on my CV, pointed me to some other people to chat with, told me he had heard nothing but good things about me and knew that nearly half his current group had worked in some capacity with me at some point, and further that he liked (obviously) that I would bring 50% of my own funding with me. He hung his hat upon “once the reorg is done we’ll talk again and see what we can figure out”.

The door has been opened. There has been no invitation to enter. At this point I can choose to stay on this side. Or the option likely exists in time, for me to walk into a different world. Time is on my side right now as I decide what I want and see what unfolds for AB.

3. What else could top off a week than to be offered an opportunity to take a hobby that I love to the next level? Blogging as it exists right now for me is therapeutic. The fact that it is entertaining (at times) or informative to others is just a side benefit. If no one read my blog, I would still do it, which is what makes it a great hobby.

Taking it to the next level of blogging professionally I view as a challenge. There has to be focus (far more than this blog has), a purpose (why should you care?), honesty (because you will get called on it), openness (no anonymity), some wit or other entertainment value (to keep people coming back), a time commitment (no one returns to a blog that is updated once a month… ok, maybe I do, but normal people don’t), and a good sense of style (which has nothing to do with Coach purses).

I am surprisingly thick skinned (and sometimes skulled) thanks to eight years of participating on discussion forums with bridezillas, hormonal pregnant women, hormonal not pregnant women, people who I vehemently disagree with and friends. I can deal with negative comments (I think). I read other professional blogs and I know what keeps me coming back and what very nearly makes me vomit. Applying this knowledge while merging with my own style is what I view to be the difficult aspect of this new, exciting side occupation.

Stay tuned, as this unfolds I will detail more.


So there, I really have had a pretty good week all in all. So why my mood has been in the dumps can only really be explained by a little bit of stress from putting myself “out there” and my catch all excuse, pregnancy hormones.

This weekend should be good. We have a few small plans. AB has a massage scheduled for tonight, mine is for tomorrow afternoon. Leif has swimming in the morning and we have a good size list of errands to run afterwards. Leif needs new shoes and daycare requested new mittens. Ok, they just asked that we keep his very favorite Bear Paws mittens there because he likes them so much more than the other Target ones and doesn’t get so discouraged trying to keep them on his hands. We could live with the one pair, but I prefer not to have to haul them back and forth everyday (meaning don’t make me remember anything more than a full lunchbox and my child every morning, please). A trip to the mall to return a pair of pants for AB and to see what we can find on sale for Leif in the next size up (3T) is on the list. He grew nearly 2” in the last two weeks I swear. I am pretty sure he was trying to squeeze in one more growth spurt before January 29th when I plan to measure him and double it to get his supposed adult height, provided, of course, I can get him to stand still.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Houdini

I was boiling water for Leif's pasta tonight. He wanted spinach spaghetti with sauce. I turned on the stove, turned around and Leif went and flipped it off. My dials are oh so conveniently located at the front of the stove. I turned it back on and told Leif that if he touched it again I was putting the locks back on and pointed to the one remaining child dial knob lock. (Ok, weak threat, I am the one that would be doing the work. What harm will it do him?)

We put the locks on about a year ago and over the last few months they have come off, one broke, and I just hadn't worried about it so much as he seems to be learning what "hot" is.

Leif went over to the one remaining lock, reached up and unlocked it. Then he looked at me and grinned. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing. Ok, I thought to myself. I get it. The other day he unlocked the door handle knob lock on the pantry to get to his Teddy Grahams... the same lock that is on my front door that I struggle with and keeps houseguests locked in my house.

It didn't stop there. As if to make a point. Leif reaches up into the now open stove knob lock and yanks the dial off. (Evidently he watches too much Emeril.) Then he removes the child lock, tosses it aside and replaces the stove knob.

Well, I guess my harmless threats have been put in their place! The stove knob locks are no more.

To the big movie producers and screenwriters

Could we please get some big screen movies that don’t have sad or scary aspects? Let’s make a rule, no orphaned children, no deaths of loved ones, no cruelty towards animals, no movies with scenes that might be interpreted as scary. Happy is the name of the game.

Leif got “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron” for Christmas this year from one of his aunts. I had put it on his Amazon.com wishlist probably a year ago. He and I sat down on Saturday morning and put this on while AB slept in. Immediately I was kicking myself for not buying this movie a long time ago. It opens with a bald eagle (one of Leif’s favorite animals) soaring over scenes of the western US, the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, etc. Then horses (Leif’s other favorite animal) running across the landscape. Kicking myself for not getting this earlier. This is EXACTLY his type of movie. He is mesmerized.

The movie rolls on and I keep kicking myself as Spirit is born in a field to his very pregnant and laboring mother. Leif sees this now (after talking about it) and says, “baby horse born out of mommy’s tummy” and he likes to pat my tummy and feel my tummy when this part is on. (Tears!) We see Spirit growing and he eventually (within 5 minutes) is now the leader of the Cimarron herd.

Give it another five minutes and my tears of happiness (thank you hormones) turn to irritation. Sure Spirit ventured into the cowboys camp, but right here I am no longer kicking myself. Do they really have to chase him and rope him down 20 minutes into the movie? Leif and I watched the entire movie Saturday morning and par for the course with him, when they show too many people (he doesn’t like movies with people in them) he asks for “more horses now?” The entire remainder of the movie has little redeeming value. There are a few nice scenes where Spirit interacts and falls in love with a Pinto (Leif calls her “cow-horse, that’s silly”… thank you Leap Frog) that belongs to a Lakota Indian. But the vast majority of the movie is Spirit’s life in captivity and his longing to run free.

I know, it is reality. Horses were domesticated, I get it. We are talking the history of the west here. But can we just have a few movies out there that portray (an albeit very romantic) story of animals with mommies and daddies growing up in the wild and living happy long lives independent of your typical stupid humans?

Leif continues to love the movie. He gets up in the mornings and instead of asking for Little Einsteins or Tubbies, he asks for “horse movie”. We have continued to put it on, but when the part comes where the cowboys capture Spirit, Leif tells us it’s scary. My tactic is to hit the rewind button and start it back at the beginning with the bald eagle and repeat ad nauseaum every 20 minutes. AB takes a different tactic, he sits down with him and reassures him that Spirit is going to be just fine, it will be over in a minute and lets him watch the rest of the movie – or as much as he is interested in until he gets up and goes and finds something else to do.

AB and I were discussing the movie, specifically my rant of “can they at least have the animals enjoying the wild for longer than 20 minutes”. Then there is my other source of annoyance. The music. Goodness gracious there is a reason Brian Adams isn’t popular anymore, he sucks! And he does the entire freaking soundtrack. Not only does he “do” the entire soundtrack but he SINGS the entire soundtrack. Even Leif tires of him, “horsies stop singing now mommy” after a few songs.

AB says to me, “So which is worse, the Phil Collins soundtrack for Tarzan or this one?”

“That’s a toss up,” I tell him, and then just to poke a button, “the Tarzan one with Phil Collins.”

Still cannot believe I married a guy who liked Phil Collins in junior high and high school. My high school wannabe punk rocker self is so laughing.

Being a petty, hormonal employee

It is nice for the head administrative assistant to wish employees a Happy Birthday and send around an e-mail to the entire group on someone’s birthday. But maybe it should be done for everyone.

Signed,
The bitter group member who never fails to fall between the cracks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to make your parents nuts (from a 2.5 year old)

Find an object that is intriguing and insist that it never leave your side.

One of the plastic glow in the dark stars (the large 3” ones) fell off of Leif’s ceiling and when he asked for it, AB gave it to him last night. He was up until 9:45pm playing with that star in bed. It would fall off the bed, resulting in a meltdown, it would slide between the mattress and the wall, resulting in a meltdown, it would hide under the covers, resulting in a meltdown. He finally fell asleep between the Star’s attempts at escape.

And anyone that thinks toddlers have short memories can rest assured that their memories are quite long. When he got up this morning, I went in and he was looking for his star. Thankfully he found it buried in the covers and we could get up and take a trip to the potty. No, he doesn’t surrender it at the potty. Instead he inserts the star into the stream. ICK! I scream and tell him how gross that is. (Boys…) Leif doesn’t get that it is gross though, no, “silly star potty too” he tells me.

He sat at the table while I prepared his oatmeal. Here is the ongoing conversation.

Leif: “You sit here. Don’t move.”

Star: (Sitting on the arm of the booster seat… silence.)

Leif: “Mommy cooking oatmeal Star. You hungry?”

Star: (Silence)

Leif: “Ok Star, sit on table. Taste juice?” (Dunks the star in the apple juice.)

Star: (Still silence, sopping wet once again. Yes, I did wash it after the potty thing.)

Leif: “Ok Star, oatmeal. You taste. Is it hot?” (Buries the star in oatmeal.)

Me: (Mrs. Hormones. Alternating between stifling my giggles and urges to yank the stupid star out of his hands and break it into 5000 little pieces. Thankfully thinking it was cute reigned by a small margin.)

1989 (Blog-o-rrhea warning)

Last night while AB was trying to put Leif to sleep I decided I needed some new music on my iPod. I headed to the iTunes store and downloaded a few songs I had in mind the last week. I downloaded a few songs from Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill (which I cannot believe I no longer have on cd) and then indulged my 80’s teenage girl side and got a few songs from the Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing soundtracks. I had planned on downloading whole cds, but then took a look at the few that were available and realized I didn’t really want all those songs. In my browsing I came across a song that struck my heart, The Church, Under the Milky Way.

So at this point, if you dislike blogorrhea, bye bye. (Of course I am not sure why you would be reading my blog since I frequently become afflicted with this long rambling, spilling of words in a self important way.) I am just warning you.

I know you have experienced it before. You encounter a song, a smell, or anything out there that takes you back in a nearly time traveling manner to a particular timeframe. It isn’t just a memory that pops up, it is the whole experience of the time. If you close your eyes, you could be there. I sat for a few minutes, nearly dumbfounded by this song as I was transported back in time to 1989.

It was my junior year in high school, right after my first real boyfriend and I had broken up. I had dated other guys, but this was my first real boyfriend, the one where I knew his family, we kissed in the hallways at school and each weekend it was a given that we would spend it together, along with our other best friends, who were also conveniently a couple. His name was Greg. Vargas Girl was dating his close friend, Brian, and we were a foursome always hanging out together.

For me, Greg was that monumental first love. I cringe now saying that. But he was one of the first people I felt like I had a real impact on, as he did me. We registered for our classes together, he was driven to excel academically at that point, I believe (maybe falsely), encouraged by me. I truly doubt, he would have ever registered for Chemistry if it weren’t for me. We also signed up to share a locker the next year.

It was a short lived thing, looking back. Four months or so? One day I went out to the park across the street from the school and he was distant with me. He finally asked me to go talk at my car. We got there and he dumped me. No reason why, just it wasn’t working. I was heartbroken.

It almost seemed like a mini-divorce of sorts. The next day at school he had a new younger (by a whole year) girlfriend on his arm, a girl named Cari. And I had our friends. Nearly all of them. Over the next 6 months or so Greg’s life changed drastically for reasons unknown to me. Cari was not a bad influence on him, she was a great girl and smart too. But rumors abound that Greg was using cocaine (which was nearly unheard of in my group, at least to me) and shortly into our senior year or late in our junior year he dropped out. I eventually looked at him as one of the biggest losers out there and counted myself lucky we had parted ways.

My life over those next six months stayed on the same course it had been. Things didn’t change much for me. I didn’t date a lot during that time, but instead I spent a lot of time with my friends. I hung out with Vargas Girl and Brian still, and my circle expanded. One person I started spending a lot of time hanging out with at that time was a friend of ours named Chip.

Chip had, and from the sounds of it still has, an aura about him that attracts people, girls and guys alike. People like being his friend. Truthfully, I don’t know what it is. It could be his smile, his goofy laugh, or just his friendly nature. Or from my perspective at the time, it was just that he made you feel good. He made me feel as though I was no longer “Greg’s ex he dumped for Cari”, I was “a cool chick”.

One thing that characterized Chip was his chronic lateness. We all knew that if he told you he was going to be there to pick you up at 7pm, you could probably expect him at 9pm. He never forgot you, but he was never on time. Looking back I wonder why it was Chip who was always picking us up? I had a quality, functioning car, but for some reason I was always waiting for a ride from Chip. And of all of us, he had the least likely to survive car! It was an old baby blue VW bug with the floor so rotted away from rust you could see the asphalt racing by if you looked down in spots. It caught on fire a few times, but the thing plodded on.

I spent that late spring, early summer hanging out with Chip a lot. I loved his company and it made me feel special when he called and would ask me to come over and hang out or when he would come and pick me up and take me up the Poudre Canyon or Horsetooth Reservoir to walk around. I remember frantic phone calls from our friends calling and asking where he was, he was supposed to meet to skateboard at 3pm and he wasn’t there yet and it was 5pm. I felt special knowing he was with me. He was never in a rush to leave and always brushed the calls off as “they will still be there when I get there”. He made me feel more special than my ex-boyfriend had. Yet we were never a couple.

Remember how when you were in high school and you could listen to a single song over and over? Vargas Girl and I had our list, a certain song about a Long Haired “Guy” by The Vandals jumps out. (Remember driving Brian UP THE WALL with that song… now we know why he hated it so much, don’t we?) With Chip, it was The Church, Under the Milky Way.

Our “relationship” slowed down that summer between our junior and senior years. One day he was 2 hours late to pick me up to go hang out. I knew then that I had been replaced as the one he was spending his down time with. He wasn’t just “late”; I knew he had likely been with someone. For some reason, it truly didn’t hurt. I don’t know if he did it all on purpose, like part of his master plan. Or if it is just the affect he has on people. But I got over my first real love with his help.

Chip and I remained friends through high school. He set me up with a friend of his from out of town at one point. We went to see the Chili Peppers in a neighboring town together. (Here’s dating myself… we paid $4 for tickets.) We were close, but when I graduated from high school (not sure why he didn’t, he was in my class), we grew apart.

Years later when I was living in Reno, I reconnected with Vargas Girl and I also reconnected with Chip. I don’t remember if it was through her or how I got in touch with him again. We e-mailed back and forth about a friend of ours from high school who committed suicide that year. Then Chip told me he wanted to come out and visit me for awhile. I reminded him I had a boyfriend (AB) I lived with and our e-mails dwindled. No regrets whatsoever.

I follow him on his MySpace page, yet haven’t actually added him to My Friends (so don’t go to my page looking for him, you won’t find him there). Vargas Girl spent a weekend partying with he and a few others from high school in a mini-reunion of sorts and I relished in seeing the pictures of them all. Chip looked older, tired and like he has dabbled a little much with drugs over the last 20 years. Still I wasn’t overly surprised to hear from Vargas Girl that he has the same affect on people. Young girls look up to him and swoon over him and I am sure he treats them like little princesses, for a few months at least. I loved what she said to me about that though, “we’ve been there, done that, 20 years ago”. It makes me smile to think about us all as kids. But what I really hope is that he has continued his knack at making women feel their worth, without breaking their hearts in the process.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"I'll take 80's movies for $1000, Alex"

AB and I had a debate last night. One of those which I couldn’t just let drop. Because I know I am right! Here is what it came down to – how popular really, was the movie Dirty Dancing? (I know, great topic to occupy your time with on a Monday evening with your spouse.) And the more subjective portion of the debate was, how good was the movie, Dirty Dancing?

AB and I have narrowed down our sitcom watching to one, How I Met Your Mother. Hilarious. Ok, most of the time it is AB who is cracking up laughing on the couch. Last night it was me. Who saw it?

In the same vane as Friends, it is about a group of five friends, in their late 20’s to early/mid 30’s living in New York City. I had to add in “mid” 30’s since a lot of the references hit hard to me, but I have a harder time seeing my sister (who is 31) getting the full jist.

One of the characters, Robin, has her little 17 year old sister visiting. The sister announces to Robin that she plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, a kind of creepy kid named Kyle that reminded me far too much of the guys I knew and dated in high school. Although no way could they have gotten a girl as hot as Robin’s sister. Poor Robin is horrified and determined that her sister is making a mistake. She enlists her friends help to convince her to wait.

It starts with a bunch of vague references with the characters who I relate to sounding like old fogeys. It obviously isn’t working. Then each starts recounting their first time experiences. They are humorous and silly. Robin does the deed and her guy immediately announces he is gay. Lilly (the band camp girl – love her) and Marshall talk about being each others firsts and how special that is. Then we hit Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

Barney starts recounting his experience with, “I was at the Catskills at a camp, working as a dance instructor, her name was Francis…” Right there I lost it. I knew where it was going… to one of the BEST movies of the 80’s – Dirty Dancing! They threw in a clip from the movie with Baby dancing in the studio to Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia with Harris’ head morphed onto Swayze’s body lounging on the floor. Ok, if you love the movie as much as I did, you KNOW which scene I am talking about. Hi-lar-i-ous!

I am busting a gut laughing (very glad I peed before we started the show), while AB sits on the couch, motionless, quiet and with more of a stunned look on his face.

I ask him in all honesty, “you do get the reference don’t you?”

“Yes,” he replies, “but how lame. No one actually liked that movie.”

I am not quite sure how he could be married to me for seven years (dating for 13) and actually state that “no one actually liked that movie”. Twenty years after its original release and I still manage to catch it at least once a year. Reliving that feeling of the unrequited first love, the crush on the bad boy, the first sexual experience…

AB didn’t get it.

This, of course, prompted discussions of what were the top movies of that genre (we agree, Better Off Dead tops the list), but truly, how popular were they? I don’t think they (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, all the John Hughes favorites – what happened to him anyways?) met the level of popularity that Dirty Dancing did. AB disagrees. I have blinders on according to him, because I was a teenaged girl, I had to have assumed that *everyone* loved the movie as much as I did.

What do you think?

(And for the record… The Dirty Dancing soundtracks ARE going to be downloaded to my iPod tonight.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thirty Five

In one instant, 35 seems old to me. In my own mind, I am still 17 years old and my parents are this age. 35 seemed so far off, so old, so boring, so dull... In another instant I look at my two year old and think about our second baby on its way in March and think of myself as so very young, all the experiences still ahead of us.

I am nearing that age, or maybe I have reached it, where birthdays are no longer celebrated with joy and anticipation, but come to be simply time markers on a calendar that is flipping by way too fast. AB and I had thought about hosting a “Turning 35” birthday party this month since he turns 35 next week. We always talk about having a joint birthday party, but never really do. This year I just didn’t push to get it together. I feel like an elephant, I get tired easily and I just didn’t have it in me. (Especially when AB started listing off a guest list from the top of his head and got to 15 people in 10 seconds flat.)

35. Pondering thirty five. I don’t look 35… or do I? As I examine my face in the mirror. Seeing tiny lines that weren’t there before, keeping watch for white hairs, and trying to remember the last time I was carded for alcohol. (I think it is just that the grocery store clerk feels sorry for me with a toddler hanging off me, whining about having been in the store for so long, as I am fishing for my debit card in my purse. It isn’t that I actually look like I am substantially over 21.)

When I was in school my parents were always among the “younger set”. I remember a few kids with “older parents”. I don’t put myself in that category even though at my age, my parents had a 17 year old. But truly, I think a lot of it may be my environment. I see the other parents at Leif’s daycare and know they are about my age, some a touch older or younger likely. But for the most part, we are all on and have been on the same track (college, grad school, post-graduate work, job and then kids), so no large discrepancies. Or at least those age differences of 5 years seem a whole lot less major at this age then they might have seemed at 22 years of age. I go to a pregnancy discussion board for those of us due in March and find myself struggling to relate with the vast majority of the girls. Particularly those under 28 or so. They seem so young. So na├»ve. I want to tell them to relax, step back and look at the larger picture. And to enjoy their size 6 bodies… because it is damn hard work to keep them like that when you are in your 30’s.

When I was 25 I mourned the passing of my “early 20’s”. Ten years later and I don’t feel it so much. I don’t have this decade broken up in my head like I did with my 20’s where it was almost like a countdown to the big 3-0. I have certain timelines that I feel are much more important and permanent, like age 40. To me, age 40 isn’t the next hurdle to fear, it is the age when I need to be done having children because I don’t want to bear children after that age. Oh and probably not a good topic to ask a woman in her final trimester of pregnancy about.

Thirty five… it really isn’t that bad. I see my life getting better, growing richer in experiences, more valuable with growing friendships. I see a clearer definition of who I am and who I want to be, then I have ever seen in my entire life. I have fears, I am not invincible. I have regrets, things I did and shouldn’t have done. I don’t see so much opportunities past, but goals for the future. I see inspiration in the people around me. Inspiration to smile from my son, inspiration to follow my heart from my husband. Inspiration to see other worlds from Vargas Girl. To be a strong woman from my mom. To push myself as a woman in science from V (without giving up my inner desire to be a girly girl). To be idealistic and adventurous from my dad. To be soft and tender hearted from my youngest SIL. To let my inner artist shine through from Rockergirrl. To be strong physically from my mom and Veeg and so many other athletes I know. To be a mom first, from nearly all the women I have already listed and so many more. But not to forget that I am also a wife and an individual and so much more.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Names III

(As usual, I will share the first names that have been ruled out. I will also share potential middle names since we have opted to use family names for middle names. This puts our families on even ground so that one side isn’t left in the dark, while the other side has the inside track by being related.)

In typical NM and AB fashion, we are 10 weeks from the due date of our new baby and no name has been chosen. We bring this partly on ourselves out of the simple fact that we opted not to find out the gender. So instead of having to settle on one name, we have to settle on two names. Or at least have it narrowed down substantially to about two options so we can choose what fits when we see our baby.

As I mentioned previously, we have different issues with each gender. Girls we like and agree upon most every name out there and so have subsequently agreed that we cannot “look” for anymore girl’s names because it only complicates our decision. With boys we have the opposite problem. We can’t agree on many and dislike even more. So we are constantly looking for new boy’s names.

Last night at dinner we started talking names again. I am feeling particularly rushed right now, we need to get things done and names decided. (Nesting?) I threw out our three girl’s names and once again asked AB to rank them. Much to my surprise his favorite has changed. In fact, the name he pushed and pushed for if Leif was a girl had fallen to #3. It is my #3 as well. Number three in our book isn’t bad for girls. It means we really, really like it. Given this number three position though, AB states that it sounds as though we have just narrowed it down to two names. I agreed.

Then a little voice pipes up. Leif says the name, and again. And darn it if hearing him say the name wasn’t just the cutest thing in the whole world. He said it perfectly, repeatedly. AB looks at me and says, “my number one is back”. And no way I could argue with him. We may have our girl’s name. Hearing it come out of Leif’s lips makes me think I can live with it not passing the Supreme Court test.

Oh and I now understand how my SIL gave in on her son’s name (that she didn’t like) but was lobbied long and hard by her husband and two daughters. Hearing your other little darlings utter the name of their sibling in utero is just too much to counter.

Then there are the boy’s names. AB says we have a list, but I ask him to name the list and it changes each time. One of the names I previously listed as being knocked off my list, was back and on his list of top 3. The second, Liam, was a newcomer to the list, one we had talked about previously but I had ruled out for a number of reasons (too popular, we know too many boys named this). I ruled it out again. (Which is why I get to share it with you.) The third is the only name that both of us have, over time, agreed upon and continue to like. But everytime I dare note this and suggest we have found our boy’s name, AB backpedals. He isn’t sure he likes it *that* much.

The biggest step forward, in my mind, from last night was in boy’s middle names. By our naming method, this name should come from my family. But like I mentioned previously, I just have very little to offer. Since my last post where I had one option, Albert after my great grandfather and great great uncle, I added one more name to the list courtesy of my dad. That would be Hunter, his grandmother’s maiden name. I liked them both, but was still not sold on either. I talked with my mom about boy’s middle names and like me, she drew a complete blank. She suggested Michael after her brother. Michael is out as it is AB’s middle name as well and he doesn’t want to use that. David is one of her other brothers and would be acceptable, but it is also my FIL’s middle name. That doesn’t rule it out, it just means that my FIL’s entire name will have been used in naming our two children. We love him, but… Oh and we didn’t even broach the subject regarding her youngest brother.

She agreed with me that the best boy’s middle name would be my grandfather’s middle name, Lemuel. I love that name. But if you recall, AB previously nearly gagged at the mere mention. Still I was always so close with my grandpa, I thought it maybe worth mentioning again. Jackpot. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. AB thought a little and then said, “I like that”. I didn’t mention anything about what he had said about it previously. I just left it at that. I think we have a boy’s middle name.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A trip to the grocery store

I ran to Safeway over lunch. My heartburn was killing me, so I needed something for that. I also needed some lunch. I called AB on my way there and we decided we would do pita sandwiches for dinner tonight and so I would pick up the ingredients for those as well.

I waddled through the store collecting my items and then got in line. The older woman who rang me up said, “everything you bought is so healthy (she obviously overlooked my chocolate muffin), do you really think you are going to need heartburn medication after all that?”

I thought it was hilarious. I told her, “well I am also 7 months pregnant, so anything I eat requires use of some type of heartburn medication”.

She went on to tell me that I need to take apple cider vinegar for my heartburn. Something tells me I have heard this before, but the thought of swallowing vinegar just kind of grosses me out. She went on to tell me that she has heard that some people think vinegar is acidic, but it really isn’t. I bit my tongue, she was a nice grandmotherly sort who probably never took general chemistry or understands that vinegar is actually called acetic acid. I only chuckled a little when she added that another benefit to taking vinegar is that it is organic! It sure is… she was right there… CH3COOH is definitely an organic molecule.

Ok, my snobby geekiness has been expressed in the proper forum.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The snow, snow, snow, snow






The Families


NM, Leif, Mom, Cousin Lest (Celeste), Angie


Cousin Lest and Leif, their true natures come out.


Christmas Morning


The cousins and Grandma on AB's side.


Out for dinner with some of AB's family.

Being a Recluse 101

We managed to dodge storms and make it back home from Northern Colorado fairly unscathed. All our luggage arrived, our flights were uneventful and on time and Leif was a stellar flyer. Our biggest mistake with regards to flying with him was actually mentioning at any point beforehand even the remote possibility of getting on an airplane. AB slipped on Saturday night before going out to dinner and Leif ever so silently went to the front door, put on his snow boots (with no socks), put his coat on (upside down), came into me on the computer (once again checking flight status) and told me he was "all ready go airplane!"

After a half hour meltdown about not getting to go on the airplane and not understanding the concept of "tomorrow" we finally got out to dinner.

Traveling with a toddler is hard. Like I said, Leif is a stellar flyer once on the plane and at the airport where he can see planes. However, for us the destination is the problem. Being in someone else's house, even though he knows them and has two interactive cats to play with, was very difficult. He never slept well, he napped well when given the opportunity, he melted down easily with only a slight disapproving look. I sure couldn't blame him, as a hormonal pregnant woman, I was nearly in the same boat much of the trip. AB and I were both exhausted, Leif was clingy and though we had a nice time, we were all happy to be home.

Today, New Years Day, we are being a bunch of recluses with little desire to talk or interact with anyone else. No offense is meant, of course. We just need time to rejuvenate, pick up, unpack, and be together as a family with our very neglected dog.

As I say every year, this will be the last Christmas we travel for awhile. We will see if it sticks this time around. How short my memory is, and how strong our resolve is in the face of familial pressure.

At 2.5 years old, Leif is still fairly oblivious at Christmas. Even the plastic and blow up Santas in the yards are "real". The fact that Santa came twice in one week doesn't phase him. Next year we will have a 9 month old and a 3.5 year old who may not be quite so gullible. AB has dreams of "Griswold'ing the place up" next year. I have dreams of cooking my own Christmas dinner. We all have dreams of waking up Christmas morning in our own house.

We enjoyed a nice holiday with our families. Leif was pretty sick much of the time with a horrid cough that meant he kept his distance from his new cousin, Aidan, and pawned off the bug on grandpa Rick when he was through with it. Mommy, daddy and grandma's immune systems were strong and resisted temptation, while grandpa Rick ended up in bed for much of the last four days we were there.

Christmas eve was spent with my family. My sister and her family came up late on Christmas eve. We ate a light dinner... or maybe it wasn't light... maybe I just never ate much since I was busy pacifying a sick, unhappy little boy... The kids (including the one in utero and my sister, lest she be left out) each opened a gift. Then cousin Celeste read us "Twas The Night Before Christmas" and we all headed off to bed.

Christmas morning everyone was up early and tackled stockings, then we went and opened gifts. Leif and cousin Celeste raked in the goods. Leif had a fantastic time opening gifts, even if they weren't his. And no matter what the package contained, he took a few seconds to marvel at the contents before moving to the next one. The hit of the entire holiday season for him was the "Hungry Hungry Hippos" game. He is the grand master champion of Hungry Hungry Hippos in Northern Colorado and looks forward to defending his title now in Eastern Washington. (Watch out C...)

My sister and her family packed up and left immediately after breakfast and headed back to Denver. We got ready and headed over to AB's brother's house. Leif was shy to start, but as soon as aunt Angie (yes, there are two aunt Angie's in our family) pulled out the Hippos game, Leif and his cousin Otto became fast friends. Otto is about 10 months older than Leif. We spent a very nice afternoon and evening with AB's side of the family. We watched as our tentative little boy easily left our side to join his three cousins in such games as running at the speed of light around the basement, playing cars and watching Cars on TV. All the while hacking up a lung, of course, prompting many statements to the effect of "he needs to see a doctor". My SIL, the ever prepared mom of three (going on potentially seven kids) was quick with the cough syrup and sent us home with "THE stuff". She wasn't kidding. Delsym rules.

The rest of the vacation was a hodge-podge of activities. One day we went to Denver to the aquarium and met up with Vargas Girl. It was a great day. Leif marveled at everything, the fish, the bald eagle, the sharks, the tigers, the sharks, the macaws (or as Leif says "pawwots"), the sharks, petting the rays... It was a great place to spend a half day. The tigers were one of the big hits at the aquarium. (I know, go figure.)

AB spent an evening with his brother watching the Denver Nuggets on my BIL's new 92" high def projection screen TV... (our rinky dink 34" "regular" TV is apparently just no longer acceptable.)

Leif and AB spent a day with them again and my MIL, while my mom and I braved a storm to get out shopping at the new mall near her house. Truthfully, I was unimpressed with the new mall. First off, an "outdoor mall" in Northern Colorado? Just stupid idea all around. It works in late spring and early fall, but apparently someone failed to check the weather for the remainder of the year. Second, and this may be my huge 7 months pregnant status speaking, how about some variety in stores? There were NO maternity clothes to be found (my last pair of acceptable maternity jeans broke in Colorado and I NEED a mat swimming suit). We left the mall with one new pair of shoes for me (badly needed as my beloved black Dansko clogs sole split) and less than $100 of goods between my mom and I. A paltry amount for our nearly annual "after Christmas shopping" trip. But we ate at P.F. Changs and that nearly made up for the bunk shopping trip. I took AB back the next day.

And oh yes, the snow. The snow, snow, snow, snow. If there is one thing there was, it was the snow, snow, snow, snow. I looked forward to Leif getting to play in the snow. There was SO much snow that pretty much the only "playing in the snow" that was done was with Daddy (who loved the snow) and going for walks in the street to see the monstrous snowman and snow-walrus built by the big neighbor kids. As you will see in the pictures to come, Leif going out and playing in the snow was just nearly impossible. In most places, we would have lost him. He was just plain too little for the massive amounts of snow in my mom's yard.

AB did build a snow cave and tunnel with the help of Cousin Celeste and that entertained Leif. However, the best part of playing in 3 feet of snow for a 36" tall child is coming in for hot chocolate.