Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mammary glands?

So I am really curious, who uses the word "breasts"?

We have taught Leif the anatomical words for everything so far. Ok, well so he only really knows "p----". And he talks about it a lot. We haven't gotten to "v-----" yet, because as far as Leif is concerned he has a p---- and Skadi does not and mommy does not, but daddy does. Someday he will ask or it will come up when Skadi is learning, but until then we are fine with this status quo. (I have abbreviated those words not because I have a fear of typing them - but I do have a fear of someone searching those words and winding up here.)

Since I nurse Skadi, and I take a bath with the kids, and we have a pretty open door policy in our house regarding nudity, Leif also knows that I have something he doesn't. My boobies. He also knows that someday Skadi will have boobies, but he just has nipples. Take this exchange the other night on the way home from work as evidence:

NM: "Leif I am so proud of you, today is two days of not pooping your pants at school, you are doing so good with your poopies."

Leif: "Mommy, I have told you and told you, I am a boy and so I only have nipples, not boobies."
Evidently I need to work on my "p" sound! Or turn down the music.

I was raised using "boobs" or "boobies" to describe our mammary glands. And believe me, with a grandmother like mine, the topic was discussed frequently! She used to make me cry as a prepubescent girl when she would tell me I was going to have boobies like hers someday.

Now I know better. My response should have been, nope, I won't, because I will get a reduction before I ever get to that point!

Anyways, back on topic... I told you "boobies" come up and my grandmother's name does too - believe me the stories go on.

Leif also knows what my boobs are for, they make milk to feed Skadi. However, he hasn't quite figured out that boys can't make milk. Enter exhibit two...

I was getting the kids dressed and Skadi was flopping backwards onto Leif's lap and giggling. He loved having her lay her head on his lap. He was kissing her and being generally sweet, so I jumped up to go do something.

I came back and Leif was leaning over Skadi.

"Whatcha doin'," I asked him.

"I am feeding Skadi milk from my nipples," Leif said,

"No silly boy, you can't do that, only mommies," I tell him removing Skadi before certain trauma set in that would scar her for life.

"No, I have nipples, I can feed her too," he said,

All I could think of was the supposed tribe in Africa that our lactation consultant rallied on and on about where the men lactate and feed the babies... AB could tell you all about it... it is imprinted on his brain for life.

Getting back to my question though... I have to admit I was a little mortified a few months ago when friends were over, mom was nursing her little girl who is 2 months older than Skadi. Leif walked up and said, "is she eating milk from your boobies?"

I was sensing the scorn from the other parents that MY son doesn't use the word "breasts". My face was burning.

Very politely she told Leif she was feeding her little girl like his mommy feeds his sister. Thankfully he dropped it.

I did a HUGE phew though a few weeks later when I was nursing Skadi at their house and their son walked up and said, "she is eating from your boobies like my sister does!"

He said boobies.


Why is it I have no problem with p----- and v----- but saying "breasts" just nearly kills me?

Is it because we were a "boob/boobies" family growing up? Or is it that a few certain girls in high school (let's see if Vargas Girl can guess who I am talking about - if it drove her as insane as it did me) thought it was hilarious to wander around saying "breasts" with a lisp as they clutched her own.

That might be what did it for me, because when I read the word I hear it in my head like THEY used to say it.

Ok, now that I got THAT off my chest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What IS the problem with snow angels?

I'm really not asking for much here...

Just some smiles? Happy angels?

Snow Day!

February Goal

I am preparing - at least mentally - for my February goal. My son's bedroom. I picked this room because it is relatively easy. He has a big toy box, a book shelf and an Ikea storage unit for sets of things. Like the picture below, but ours is white and has green and white different sized bins. (Which I really, really like by the way. No more boxes. Of course you are sorely out of luck unless you have an Ikea store near you.)

The things I have to work on in his room are relatively few and somewhat easy. Such as:

-Hang the stuffed animal storage net thing (another Ikea see below).
-Clear off the orange shelves and return only displayed items. (Or items that have been put into time out.) A few little storage bins might be necessary.
-Clean out the toy box (garage sale fodder?)
-Sort through the book shelf
-Under the bed storage redo.
-Finish curtains and hang them.

And the big task is to tackle the closet. Clean out the walk in closet, sort out what can be sold versus stored. Return storage items. Carve out an area where Leif can have some storage for big toys and places to hang HIS clothes.

Not bad, reasonably do-able. I don't expect I will get my huge burst of, "it looks so good and so much better" from this room, but at least it will be done.

March is the scary month. And the month where I will no longer have a guest room. If you want to visit and not sleep on an air mattress, the couch, in a hotel or in Leif's twin better do it before March!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Something about being a three year old...

I promised Leif we could make a robot today.

There is a brand new Curious George episode this week where George builds a robot to entertain Hundley.
We pretty much copied the design (box and metal colander) except that George's box is red. I suggested we name the robot Leif 3.5. Leif had other ideas and asked that it be called "Curious George".

He watched the episode a few times today, acting it out along the way in his robot costume. The picture below is where George fell asleep next to the elevator.

Seriously I have THE cutest little boy. Grumblings about Terrible 3's? Me? Naw...

The poor abused dog

If it isn't one being...

Then it's the other...

And then there is this thing called "the breaking point"... where no possible good can come to an innocent bystanding dog when two beings approach the cat residing on said dog...

Friday, January 25, 2008

The endless, endless clutter

I took the plunge earlier this week.

I let our housecleaner go. (Ok, really, AB let her go as I am a wuss... but it was my telling him to do so.) She was "fine" and cleaned our house every other week for the last three years. She routinely needed reminders to do things like move the kitchen appliances and clean under them, wipe the window sills, things like that. My biggest problem with her was her hit or miss nature. One week was great, the next notsomuch. And she had plenty of personal issues that she liked to talk about (A LOT) and that I suspect made her distracted with her work regularly. Yes, if I had a 20 year old son who was schizophrenic I would probably have a hard time focusing too. But I was paying her to do a job... it was a business transaction after all and my satisfaction was hit or miss.

I didn't just let her go and decide I was going to do it myself. I am not crazy! Instead I climbed aboard a service that my closest female friends in the area have glommed onto. For only $30 more a month, I am signed up to start getting weekly cleaning service.

I am so thrilled about this because what I REALLY need done all.the.time is my floors. My floors are always a mess. Around my table is a disaster since Skadi has started eating solids and Leif can't always locate his mouth.

And how much stuff can a family of four track into the living room? I can give you a good approximate since I am constantly prying the stuff out of Skadi's mouth. Incredible oral child, she is.

So I am thrilled about this new path to a clean house.

Here is the issue though... picking up the house for the cleaner.

We could deal with the every other week scramble the night before to get the clutter picked up. But now, the scramble is going to be a weekly occurence.

I am not the only one worrying about it, AB has voiced concerns about it many times. I keep telling him that if we do it weekly, it won't get nearly so bad as it does after two weeks. In theory, we should spend far less time each week.


Ok, so I might just be expelling steam. I don't know this.

How do you deal in your house with the clutter? The things left behind day in and day out by your kids, the things that get dropped when everyone walks in the door, the toys the cat has sent sailing into neighboring rooms?

It is the common area (kitchen, dining room and living room) that get bad. Leif's room is never that bad and he helps pick up in there. We are considering introducing chores and have started this informally with the introduction of a Dust Buster... it is Leif's job to clean around the cat box with the Dust Buster... a job he does with gusto, precision and pride.

In some attempt to try something new, this weekend I am buying four new laundry baskets. One for each of the main areas of the house aimed to collect things. Not laundry, things. Then the baskets can be carried around and stuff returned to where it goes. Or in a pinch, stuff stuck in there and then set up off the floor (on the couch?) so the cleaner can get what she needs done, done.

Believe it or not, this is mostly AB's idea and one he swears he brought up months ago. Of course then I took it as, "yes we need more laundry baskets for the dirty laundry!" And I bought baskets, for laundry.

Anyone have any wonderful solutions?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sonic opened today.

We decided to pack the kids up and head down for an ice cream after dinner. I was coveting a 99 cent mini banana split and just maybe a limeade (no cherry for me thanks).

We got there and I was a little enthused to see a few open slots as we turned into the parking lot.

Then a person appeared in front of us...

A staging area?

An hour waiton a Tuesday night?

Apparently I am not the only one who knows about the secret (or not) of Sonic.

Pretty amazing when Sonic probably had a longer wait then PF Changs two blocks away.

Part 8, The big day closes in.

The week finally arrived. All the vendors were in place, last minute details were being worked on and family and friends would be arriving soon. I wasn't the only one having dreams about the wedding, my best friend (Vargas Girl) had dreamed a nearly infamous dream now about my mom as an Amazon woman in a pink gingham dress. My mom is not an Amazon and she likely will never be seen in a pink gingham dress.

Let's not analyze this dream further.

Then there were minor issues of explaining the difference between a "bridal shower" and "bachelorette party" to my sister. Should you ever want to plan a bachelorette party, consult my sister, she proved herself quite adept at the task at hand. Vargas Girl stepped up and took the reigns on the shower which was two nights before the big day after everyone had arrived.

My mom was the first to arrive, thankfully. My mom is great at organizing and prioritizing. We went to dinner at Midtown in Reno and started lining things out.

She went and watched our dance lesson that night. AB and I had initially planned on learning how to waltz to "All I Ask of You" from the Phantom of the Opera using a video, "You Can Waltz in 30 Minutes" or something ridiculous like that. After the first night of 60 minutes of practice in the living room AB started voicing requirements for dance lessons. I resisted... another expense?

Then thoughts of my husband wobbling back and forth in front of our loved ones grabbed hold of reason and we forked out the dough for dance lessons two weeks before the big day. Which resulted in a change of song (you can't waltz to "All I Ask of You" evidently, replaced with the theme to How to Make an American Quilt, still a great song) and one frustrated dance instructor. We did overcome however!

The next day my in laws arrived. My mother in law - who isn't quite such a good prioritizer - was however, vital in getting hands on with the seating chart at Midtown that night for dinner. All seating issues were solved within 5 minutes and it was time to get down to business. A bottle of wine!

And because Midtown had a fantastic tomato basil soup that second night, we ventured back the third night for another assessment of the plans at hand.

And sorry, Midtown is now closed. Just because one can cook does not mean they can also manage a restaurant. Which was a horrible bummer since we loved the place so. Obviously.

Vargas Girl and her boyfriend (now ex) we will call him "Stick in the Mud" or SIM for short, arrived. She teamed up with my mom and things really got moving. Instead of skiing with most of the group, or going shopping at the mall with the rest of the group, she and SIM sat on my apartment floor and put cream cheese mints into favor boxes while my mom worked on creating the perfect bustle on my dress.

OH wait... I didn't tell about the dress.

Tangent time (which never happens here):

My dad and stepmom (now ex) we could call her "Looney Bin" or LB for short (sorry dad, but she was looney to let you go), came to Reno and we went dress shopping where I found a number of dresses I liked, though was floored by the prices. Instead of envisioning being a princess I kept saying, $750+ for a dress I will wear once? I couldn't take the plunge.

I ventured to Colorado that summer where I had lunch with my mom and Vargas Girl. We walked down to a bridal shop that was going out of business. There it happened... wonder of all wonders when we pulled a dress off the rack and it fit perfectly. Seriously. Not only did it FIT, but I loved it.

I wasn't so happy with some of the froo froo flowers, but we decided we could take them off easily enough.

$300 and 10 minutes later we walked out of the bridal shop with a dress in hand. A dress my mom planned to store in her very clean house for a few months and then, shortly before the wedding ship to my not so clean apartment.

She shipped it.

I stayed home that day to receive it.

I waited.

And waited.

At the end of the day no delivery. I was upset, I couldn't stay home another day. And where was my dress?

The next day my mom tracked the dress to find out it had been signed for by a name completely unknown to me.

Freaking out.


I took the name up to the office and asked who this person was, what apartment they lived in. Because I was going to knock her door down with a vengeance. (This was one of those episodes of Bridezilla-ness you read about.)

The girl at the desk said that in fact, that person was someone in the office there. The dress had been delivered to the office and not my apartment.

I refused to smile at the UPS guy ever again. Making assumptions I wasn't home. Lazy butt.

Ok then, I said to the apartment manager. Where's my dress?

She looked at me blankly. They didn't have any packages sitting there. It obviously was not there.

I stormed back to the apartment with tears stinging my eyes. Four weeks to the wedding and my dress was gone. I hated UPS and I hated my apartment agency (which was not a new thing, but I don't need a tangent on a tangent... tangent squared?).

AB got home and took a copy of the delivery receipt off the internet showing the signature and very calmly walked up to the office while I had hysterics in the apartment. I envision he very calmy explained to the evil witch in the office that this shipment was a wedding dress and that they better find it immediately or they would not only be facing the wrath of his lunatic fiance but also buying the lunatic fiance a dress of her choice for the wedding in 4 weeks.

About five minutes later he returned with a box. My dress. That they claimed had been placed somewhere "safe".

Tangent over.

That day when my mom worked on the bustle (and nothing was going right with that), Vargas Girl and SIM stuffed boxes with mints, and everyone else went off playing was not a good day. But it was also the day of my bridal shower... err bachelorette party... err I mean bridal shower.

I was feeling the stress, the annoyance at how could everyone leave us with so much to do? And I was having a hard time letting go of it. I didn't know where my car (or my mother in law who had borrowed my car) was. I didn't know how we were going to get all these people to the funky little pizza joint across town, I was plain tired of interacting with people.

My aunt stepped up with transportation. She and my uncle had reserved a vehicle appropriate for driving into the mountains to ski with my two cousins during their visit. No more SUVs were available, so they were upgraded to a van.

A van that EASILY held 14 women that needed to get to a bridal shower! THAT was a van.

The pizza joint thought we were joking when we showed up declaring we all rode in the same vehicle. Safely too.

The bridal shower was a lot of fun. One of the funniest moments was when we were all supposed to be writing "advice" to the bride. Ok, I wasn't, I was eating pizza. But my cousin (who was probably 19?) starts squealing.

"Grandma! Stop copying! You always do that, you always cheat. Since the time we were little and would play Candy Land, you would cheat!"

The entire room busted up laughing. All of us knowing just exactly how correct Mandy was in her statements.

Afterwards most of us headed to the casinos for martinis where my sister started passing out her bachelorette party loot. We were soon joined by all the guys where I think SIM might have nearly had heart failure over seeing us all drinking martinis with penis shaped straws. I think he tuned us out while trying to figure out how to get the window on his Audi reversed as he was sure it was installed incorrectly. Vargas Girl could probably provide FAR more information about this since at some point I tuned out... though she might have successfully banished it from her brain and is sitting here wondering what in the world I am talking about.

Before I knew it, it was Friday early morning and time to forego the silliness and get some sleep for the rehearsal at the church the next day along with the rehearsal dinner.

To be continued...

So that's what an MBA is for...

In addition to requiring oral presentation skills and writing skills for graduate science degrees (which are not required in most US programs), I propose we also add in some business classes. And maybe a few courses in political science too? Though I fear the later won't really provide an insight into the politics I need a crash course in. That being simple workplace politics.

Last week I was "spinning up" as a project manager. I am now not only spun, but completely wound.

My worklife changed this week. Since I started here nearly six years ago and with the exception of teleconference Wednesdays where I would run in and hit the ground running with an all morning client meeting, I usually start out my mornings leisurely as I arrive, check my e-mail, respond to e-mail, call people who need to be called (which pretty muchnever happens), and work hard to be down to business by 10am.

I walked in this morning to my phone ringing.

Oh that's another thing. Everyone, except my sector manager, uses e-mail to communicate quickly. He goes the old fashioned way and picks up the phone and calls. And is apparently ok with waiting on the line for my ancient computer to boot up, get logged in and open the file in question.

And honestly, so far I am loving this guy. I have been working with him for right at a week now and am already bummed about his retirement slated for a June 2009. Though he keeps holding the Triple Crown in front of me - a suite of projects constituting a program he has slated to take "us" through 2014.

Ever just click with someone you work with? I have only had a few of those so far, some people I get along fine with, others we don't click, but relatively few that it feels like a really good fit - and I am sure a good portion of it is my own personality. But wow, it is a nice feeling when it happens.

(I have in fact, been ignoring pings from potential employers that I touched base with this past summer. I am also feeling stronger about getting our house ready to sell and finding a new one a year from now. AB... not quite there yet and still resides in "what would it be like if we lived there".)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Milkin' it for all it's worth

"Hello baby!"

"Check out the chompers, you wonder why I have been a cranky butt for the last month?"

Ignore the uncovered outlet, ignore it.

Smiley girl.

Meet AB

Is this him?

Leif has told us since the time he could talk that Raffi, the guy on the back of his Baby Beluga book, was daddy. Tonight it was a little more extensive:

"That's daddy and he was SO happy to be playing his violin, and this was a long, long time ago. But he loves his violin, doesn't he?"

My husband does not play a violin.


Or maybe this is him?

Now this I could live with... (kidding!)

When we watch the "Curious George song", Leif tells me that it is daddy swimming with George and singing. And playing his violin.

Apparently we need a lesson about instruments. I need to start pushing Little Einsteins again, I think.

Or AB needs to take up the violin.

January is done!

My January goal is done. The library, and it is gorgeous. (Check out the new PB light!)
Actually I am really happy with the end product. Sure, if I had my way the area under the window with the kid's table might house a chaisse lounger perfect for snuggling up and reading a book. And the kid's table and chairs and toys would be relegated to the playroom... but we have no playroom. And a chaisse isn't within the budget.

And if I were really complete I would have done something (though I am not sure what) with the old computer in the box under the desk. But it isn't in the way, and we both keep thinking "what if we need something off of it" and so it doesn't get recycled. But as it stands, I am thrilled with the library. I even cleaned the insides of the desk drawers and the cedar chest.

AB has gotten into my monthly goals groove too. He asked me yesterday, "which room is next?" Followed by a quick, "we don't start it until February right? That's the point, right?"

We chatted about what room is on the list next. I had put the guest bath on there and his response was, "what are you doing with that room?"

"Organizing it," I told him.

"Well that will take all of a couple hours," he said.

He is right. The bathroom can and probably should be tossed in with another room and not given an entire month to itself.

We did decide that we would tackle Leif's room next. I had hesitated because of the packed to the brim walk in closet in his room. Full of stuff. Full of stuff that isn't his.

AB felt we should clean the closet out in search of garage sale fodder. But the reality of the situation is that unless we get a storage unit (and we are waffling on this), most everything will probably go right back in there in an albeit, far more organized fashion. We could probably even carve out some room for Leif's stuff and he might be able to utilize it.

SO that is the plan. Leif's room for February!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What has happened to me?

I used to buy shoes. A lot of shoes.

Over the last few years I have been purging my shoes. Not practical, too 90's, what was I thinking...

I am down to about twenty reliable pairs I either wear regularly or could envision myself wearing.

Ok, so maybe those two pairs of Doc Martins might not get a lot of wear - like ever, but I still love them. And so they are still in my closet. (I did actually wear the boots to work shortly after I started here and received more comments about my shoes than as a shoe girl, I was ever comfortable with. That's a lot.)

The past few years I have bought about one pair of shoes a year. And they have all been practical.

Last night my black pumps arrived from Zappos.

Love them. They really are cute and at just under $100, they work and bear a striking similarity to Cole Haan's Ambrose pumps I was coveting at $278. We are afterall, on a budget...

I wore them around the house getting used to them, making sure I didn't need to return and that I could walk in them today.

I could, just barely.

Leif comes up to me and looks at me, looks at my shoes and says, "did V bring those shoes over for you?"

I don't know what is more concerning, that my son doesn't know that *I* am a shoe girl too? Or that he has recognized and logged in his head what type of shoes V wears?

Monday, January 14, 2008


Sorry to get your hopes up if you were looking for a blog that might make you drool. Yes, I like cheeses too... but...

NM: "Which book do you want to read tonight?"

Leif: "I want to read the book about cheeses!"

NM: "I don't know what that one is, is it the Mickey book?" (Not a bad guess, there is cheese pictured there.)

Leif: "No. The cheeses book. Happy birthday cheeses."

NM: (totally perplexed) "Your cookbook?"

Leif: "No cheeses, Happy Birthday cheeses!"

A few days later...

Leif: "Look mommy! My happy birthday cheeses book is in the car!"

NM: (I look back while driving.) "Oh you mean Happy birthday JESUS!"


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Things that make you feel like crap as a parent

NM: "Leif what are we going to do with you with you pooping in your pants again?"

Leif: "I guess you will have to throw me in the garbage."

(Oh and in case you were wondering, there were tears after this. My tears.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

A new direction

This last calendar year for me at work was kind of a wash. I started 2007 with a rotund belly secretly counting the days until my leave started. I had worked somewhat hard to get my project ahead of schedule so when I wasn't in the lab daily for 8-10 weeks it wouldn't suffer. I would be checking my e-mail to deal with anything that came across my desk, and I had a co-PI who I had finally found a happy medium with and could rely upon. Then I pawned off my menial tasks to a guy who needed the charge code.

Then I was gone from early March to mid-May. Gone in a physical sense... as a scientist (as I was discussing with V), even though you aren't supposed to be working there are still certain expectations. I spent a few of Skadi's naps on the phone with potential collaborators and wrote at least one white paper while on leave in addition to checking my e-mail daily. This past summer I came back and I have spent the last six months getting my groove down. Getting both the kids ready by myself (since AB goes to work at 5:30am) and all of us to where we should be by 8:30, I mean about 8:45... ok, sometimes 9am. Ok, there has been an occasional 9:15am in there.

Then there are the doctor's appointments. Who knew two kids had so many doctor's appointments? And did I actually wear sweat pants to work one day? There were times I felt I was barely keeping my head above water. And there still are days like that. So anyways, suffice it to say that work may have suffered a little in the later part of 2007. Apparently though (and thankfully) I did a good job of hiding it since I still got a very positive review from my manager a few weeks ago.

It's 2008 and it's time to pull things together.

I have a proposal went out today after a successful preliminary one on one review. A review that people who work in the areas I work in, are required to do with their proposals... and I won't say much else on what that entails. Creative minds who know me and what I do can surmise. Suffice it to say that my chosen reviewer is a good friend of mine who birthed her second child in between the time I had my two. She told me, off the record, of the ones she has seen thus far, it is easily in the top quarter. But she's a friend... what's she going to say? "Don't bother NM, you don't have a real shot"? I don't think so. But is that good enough in a pool of 60 proposals?

What started out this post?


This coming Tuesday is seriously freaking me out. It has nothing to do with the proposal above (I just rambled to that). It has nothing to do with my husband's birthday being that day.

Nope, Tuesday is my first real, "I am back, I am for real, and I can be a bitch on wheels if I need to" day at work. (Stop laughing... I can be a bitch.)

I landed a big project management position this past week with a new and upcoming program. Once fully trained I will have two half million dollar a year projects under me with a team of people who many were my coworkers on my shiny, happy, semiconductor project.

I am going to walk in on Tuesday, in front of the client I have never met, in front of those coworkers I adored working WITH (please hope I enjoy managing them too... many have twenty years experience on me) and be introduced as the Project Manager.

At 8:30am.

In dress clothes.

(Stop laughing.)

I just Zappos'd myself a nice pair of black pumps. With a heel.

(Note to self, put the kids in clothes that can double as pajamas the night before, I am thinking sweats and t-shirts/onesie just in case.)

Goal progress

I am making good progress on my January goal to organize my library. Since my last post on this topic I cleaned off the file cabinet (notice I didn't say "out").

I ordered a wall lamp from Pottery Barn (clearance), which I think will work great in that room. I hesitated to buy a desk lamp because it would be another thing to clutter the desk and for the kitty to knock off and break (we have had a lot of this lately, so I am quite sensitive to it). I decided to hedge away from floor lamps. And maybe it is just because I have bad memories of cheap torchierre lights from Target that bend and contort and tip.

Well what did that leave me? Wall mounted. And wow, lamps are expensive. I got a decent deal on PB, not great, but it will work and I like it.

AB is happy with this purchase too, which to me is very valuable since I don't often hear that from him.

I still have my photo archive boxes to buy and fill, my desk to tackle this weekend then after that everything visible will be organized.

That leaves the inside of the file cabinet (that place where I was tossing papers in a somewhat willy nilly fashion last weekend) and the "mudroom" in the library... the big structure my husband built to house winter gear. (I have to admit to not even digging in it this year yet to find my own gloves... I fear it that much.)

These last two places fall in the somewhat "optional" category for me in this process. I know the stuff in the file cabinet isn't *that* old or out of order since the file cabinet was new a year ago - and I haven't used it very much. And with the cedar winter clothes storage I just don't have a much better option right now. And since it is out of sight, keeps like items together and functional, my vote is to leave it be. Though I would like a cushion on top of the bench for sitting on... and that would "soften" the room substantially. But that WOULD mean a precarious trip back to the fabric store. I am not sure I can do it!

Anyone know where I can buy a premade, inexpensive sitting cushion for a bench? With cool fabric of course.


With the end in distant sight for my library, I have started considering which room will be next. This room was a medium sized job, but since February is short I was thinking tackling one of the smaller job rooms would be best.

Problem is... I am not sure I have a small job room. At first glance I would say that would be either Leif's room (which was redone last year and new storage added in October), the formal dining room (aka sewing room and play room) or the living room. But all of these have one underlying problem in my scheme... very few little issues, but each has one big issue of varying types.

In Leif's bedroom - he needs his display shelves cleaned off, an hour long job maybe, he could help me thus making it 1.5 hours. He needs his stuffed animal storage net hung (which would take AB 10 minutes). But his closet looms. He calls it the "Monster's bedroom" and we keep the door closed all the time. Mostly to hide all the stuff in storage in there (luggage, Halloween decor, wedding stuff, old textbooks, old clothes, etc). It would be nice for Leif to have a closet and I could quit using the nursery closet for him. It is a decent walk in closet... packed. And I just so don't even know what to do with the stuff in there. That is the issue with THAT room.

My living room. Simple organization, organize the cds and dvds and no big deal. Except for the media storage thing we started on before Leif was born, our priorities shifted, and we never finished it. It WAS a coat closet. Yes, odd place for a coat closet (if you have been in my house). So we took the door off, painted shelves and put them in with the intention of making built in media storage. We planned (and bought some of the stuff) to remove the door molding and finish it as built ins. At this point we could just forget all that and the door could go back on and just hide the whole mess of media stuff. Or I could hire a contractor to finish it. ($$$$$$$$$) I don't know what to do other than procrastinate and be forced into a decision when it is time to sell the house. And THAT is the issue there.

The last one would be the formal dining room/playroom. It could use some better toy storage... but that isn't a big issue. The big issue is what it really needs is wine storage. We have cases of wine stacked in there and need at minimum, a 100 bottle wine chiller. ($$$$$)


So there are the issues in those rooms. A quick rundown on the other rooms in the house (and feel free to offer up suggestions):

Nursery/guest room: Will be tackled in March when we plan to move the Beaner to her room. The longer we can keep the queen bed in there the better. (Anyone want a very comfortable - according to family - queen sized bed in March?) This room won't cost a lot, but it will be A LOT of organization and decorating (with already purchased items). Just time is needed here.

Utility Room: This is an option for February. I have a fair amount of storage in here from my closet that houses craft stuff and cleaning supplies, the over the appliance cupboards that need organized and the coat closet. Then there is the top of the shelves I put in there that act as landing place for when AB doesn't want to open the door to the garage to return a tool. (Hmmm...)

Kitchen: It's too exhausting to even list. Suffice it to say I need pull outs. Need. And the floors... bamboo laminate is on the radar. This is getting pushed back to a month with money. (Do those exist?)

Master Bedroom: Just time is needed to go through the dressers and stuff. Decide what to do with the weight bench, etc. It wouldn't be a hard room, but I don't want to tackle until Skadi is out of there.

Master bath and closet: Time consuming with the closet and I want lots of closet organizers - so potentially pricey. The big part isn't for me here, but is for AB in repairing some broken trim in the bathroom and likely ripping out the linoleum patch and installing tile or something where we had a shower leak that ruined a section of our 6' x 4' linoleum.

Oh and the last place... guest bath: Actually this is a good candidate for February. It's just really organizing in there and buying containers to hold things and drawer seperators. It would probably only really take a weekend...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cranky in my old age

Next thing you know I will be white haired and nearly deaf and complaining about people who are standing five feet from me.

Yes, yes, it was probably a safe and decent assumption that if it is my birthday and I am not answering the phone that we are out. Sorry to anyone I offended with the "what planet are they from" comment... I got sucked into that "doesn't everyone know we work, have young children and therefore no life during the week" bit and meant it tongue in cheek. Mea culpa.

I really am truly grateful that you guys called to wish me a happy birthday!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

M-I-N-E Mine!

I just got through e-mailing my mom this, but figured I would post it here too.

Leif is really into what is his and lately wants his name on all his toys. I think this comes from preschool and they put their name on their things as well as one of his favorite movies, Toy Story, where Andy (the little boy) puts his name on his toys.

Recently Leif asked me to put his name on his Buzz Lightyear, but not on the shoe like Andy does, he wanted his name on Buzz's Jetpack instead. We took care of that.

He routinely tells us, "that says L-E-I-F Leif, it's mine".

The other day though the evil little sister tried to get one of his toys. I asked him to please share.

"It doesn't say L-E-I-F Skadi!" he told me.


That's me. 36 today.

I remember when my mom turned 36. I was graduating from high school that year and she had a moment of melancholy (among many moments of rejoicing I am sure) and I told her, "you can still have another!" She laughed at me.

Though at the time that moment didn't stick in my mind, I remember it now. How different we are in so many ways (that being one, I have a 9 month old at 36 and she had a high school graduate), but also very alike in so many ways too. I wonder what my daughter's life will be like when she turns 36?

I am not one to hide from my age... yet. I am proud what I have done with my years. And whenever I need that bounce I pull out my CV and read it and look at my kids. There are very few things I would change.

Today was a good day. We woke up to snow on the ground and as soon as I checked to make sure we DID actually have work today (ok, I was being overly optimistic with checking, but you never know, they have cancelled work for less before).

Leif was agreeable this morning and easily pliable with promises of "cow chocolate milk" and pumpkin bread from Starbucks courtesy of grandma's gift card to me. I had the pumpkin spice latte and my own piece of pumpkin bread, because I was NOT sharing on my birthday. And Leif is a piggy boy when it comes to Starbucks pumpkin bread.

We followed the very slow procession of cars into work. I am a big proponent of driving to the point that one is comfortable driving in adverse conditions. And I do realize that growing up in Colorado and driving a 1979 Mazda RX-7 in the snow for six years does give me certain powers that normal mortals don't possess... but come on!

I had a nice day at work. I am getting used to the idea that I am going to be managing a very large project where the PI was my former team lead and is currently one of the team leads in my management line. Gotta love matrix management. And I am shuffling that with the proposal that is due on Friday. That will be the remainder of my week as well.

I cooked beef stroganov for dinner tonight. One of my favorite, quick weeknight meals. I mean seriously, what can be better than roux, sour cream, good tender beef and mushrooms? AB wrestled with the kids... literally. Skadi was fussy and Leif was a little turd most of the night and making us nuts. But that is what little 3.5 year old boys do, right? Make us nuts? My daughter will never do such a thing.

We cleaned up and put the kids to bed and both are headed that way here shortly too. I am not returning a single call tonight either. My family is great... they are the ones that will always remember your birthday and never fail to call. (Not pointing fingers or anything at any other families, I am just saying...) They are really great. Though I wonder what planet some of them came from with statements like, "well you are probably out partying it up for your birthday" left on our answering machine.

No actually, we were putting kids to bed. (How do I show emphasis on "were"?)

No I am kidding... mostly. I love them all and I am so lucky to have family that remembers my birthday and puts it into action by calling to let me know they thought about me. That is the best thing ever and truly I am blessed to have this.

This weekend we will be partying it up a little more... AB is smoking a prime rib for me... all me. Truth be told he was happy when I gave him the go ahead, he was hoping to have a second go at the smoked prime rib to redeem himself for the ever so slight things he wants to change. Usually I opt for seafood on my birthday and we do a bouilliabaisse (however you spell that) or a cioppino. But my mouth waters for that prime rib from Christmas and I relish the chance to sort through our wines and pick out a match. I told AB I wanted to drink more of our good wines this past year and we are succeeding there.

Thanks all for your warm wishes on my birthday!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The goal... my library. I need your help.

My goal for the year is to organize and work on one room a month. This first month I tackled one that is in bad need of organization, will require minimal $$ input and because of its location - next to the foyer - I have found to be a necessity since people walk in and see it first. My weakness is books and my dislike is to deal with papers, making this room in sore need of attention.

I started tackling it this weekend and was fairly pleased. I sorted through the small, chintsy, ugly bookshelf, throwing stuff away and making a garage sale stack. Then I tackled my big bookshelf. Both are done to my satisfaction. That still leaves the desk, the few kids toys in the room and the file cabinet (i.e. aside from the kids toys - dealing with paper. Not my fun task.)

AB has jumped on board and has agreed to go through his stack of school papers (so I don't just dump them all in the trash).

So far for this room I have discovered the need for more photo archival boxes (Michaels next weekend) since I have lots of packages of photographs that I may never get to organizing. And since many don't have kids in them and are pre-kids, I am fine with boxes and not albums. I asked AB what we needed for the room and his response was a new bookshelf (to replace the chintsy ugly one from grad school days) and a lamp.

I nixed the bookshelf because that is a pricey item that I can't justify right now, but he is right, we are sorely in need of a lamp.

Here is my dilemma... ok, I will bare my library to the world. See... I told you, the file cabinet and desk are next on the list. Help me with a lamp... floor lamp, desk lamp, wall lamp? (Notice the one light we have in this room is on the file cabinet behind the box of stuff - a cheap desk lamp that doesn't put out much for light. And we have no overhead light in here either.)

And if you know of any inexpensive bookshelfs that could replace the little, overloaded with books one, let me know.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A big Beaner

Skadi's 9 month appointment was this past week. She remains a giantess.

24 lbs 3 oz - 98th percentile (she dropped a percentile from her 6 month appt.)

29" - 87th percentile

(A quick Leif comparison at 9 months - 20 lbs 12 oz and 28", about 50th and 75th percentiles respectively.)
Skadi is a crawling beast. She motors. And when she is a real hurry... like in a race against time to get to the bowl of dog food before you do? She gets that leg up under her and pumps away to get extra distance that mere mortals would never be able to accomplish.

She pulls up on nearly everything. This afternoon she crawled onto a box that arrived in the mail for a certain person's birthday... Anyways, on top of the box she perched herself. She is cruising from object to object with some success - though failure is frequent... and painful.

Another difference from Leif is her preferred food. Leif nursed until he self weaned about 13.5 months, which was great for me. He did at times get too busy to nurse, and he liked his solids.

But could someone tell me how one small child likes to put SO much in her mouth off the floor that she picks up, but then sits in her high chair and refuses everything but Wagon Wheels, Baby Mumm Mumms (finally found those) or a couple occasional puffs? She's not a fan of jarred food and although she likes mashed banana will quickly regurgitate every bit as though she had a baby bird to feed. We put bits of green beans, peaches and rice in front of her (all within the last four meals) only to have them flung across the dining room. She finds sippy cups with water a little interesting and worth of a little investigation, but they are short lived. What she really wants?

Mama milk. Maybe Leif just started slacking on the milk early, but at 9 months I am amazed at how much she still nurses. Which is fine with me right now.
Skadi is a sweetheart, though she has a horrible temper. She isn't the easy going kid that Leif was. Taking a tiny bit of tissue away from her that she found on the floor usually results in a full body flail attack. She wants what she wants, when she wants it.

All in all though, she is a great kid. So different in so many ways from Leif. Though she is his biggest fan (especially after this last four days of poop regression... she is the only one in this house not cleaning poop up after a full week and a half of successes). The two kids get each other going during dinner and it is hard not to laugh. Leif does something, she laughs, he repeats (at which point with anyone else, the antic is old, but not with Skadi), she laughs, he repeats... to infinity (and sometimes beyond). You can't help but smile though seeing Skadi's face light up.

She loves her big brother and he loves her. Someone tell me this will never change.

The engagement, part 7

So continuing from here...

We were going to get married... I had identified the ring style I wanted (one in particular had caught my eye... but I knew he could pick anything). Just when and where it would happen was up in the air.

And then it wasn't.

Wasn't up in the air, that is. We got to talking and decided it might be nice to go to Napa Valley (our frequent getaway). We thought it might be nice to eat at Tra Vigne for dinner. We thought it might be nice to stay at White Sulphur Springs Resort.

We normally didn't do it up quite so nicely in Napa. Normally the Calistoga Comfort Inn was more our pace.

Napa greeted us as it always did... with an open array of wine drinking options providing you pony up your $5 for tasting, $10 if you wanted the good stuff. AB and I always ponied up the $5, made friends with the tasting room attendant by being friendly and asking questions then picking out a few bottles and frequently were offered reserve tastings on the side. (And there's your tip for visiting Napa.)

We dressed up and headed out to the new and hugely touted Tra Vigne restuarant. We had reservations, but were for some reason, relegated to eating in the bar. I wasn't overly concerned as the food was still truly fantastic. I had my first real cheese course and was sold. I love cheese. Oh and I had dessert too.

The entire time I saw a huge, abnormally large box bulging from my fiance to be's pants. It was the ring... wasn't it?

Still, I waited. No proposal during appetizers, dinner, cheese course or dessert. (Or does dessert come before cheese course?)

What was that box in his pants and why was it so large? It looked horribly uncomfortable, but I resisted saying anything.

We paid and walked out the door, down the steps and there at the base of the steps he dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him as he pried that big jewelry box from his pocket.

Nope, the ring wasn't *that* huge that it required the huge box. But apparently Roger's Jewelers felt that they should give you a huge box for the big bucks you drop, but I am sure they didn't realize the logistics problems this poses for guys.

I couldn't get him to stand up fast enough. I hugged him and said yes.

I slid the ring on my finger - it was the one I picked out but was a little bummed I didn't get to wear the ring as it was umpteen sizes too big. I would have had it sized on the spot if I could have. I wanted the shiny multi-faceted carbon crystal structure to flash in front of everyone's eyes.

We returned to Reno and I announced to my family that I was getting married and soon the decision making began. Where would we marry? When is the date? Would we be paying for it ourselves? How many people would we invite? Who would we invite?

I didn't want to marry in Nevada. (Funny the different personalities... I lived in Nevada and left to marry. My sister came to Nevada to marry.) So that meant Colorado or somewhere else. Reno is also 12 miles to the California border and one of the big draws is Lake Tahoe. Close enough for us to plan, yet attractive enough to people who might want to travel. Also on that note, we could in theory invite loads of people, no one would feel left out, but few would probably actually attend. We had our locale selected.

My first choice in date was August 19, 1999 as that was my grandfather's birthday and his and my grandmother's anniversary. But 3 months to plan a wedding, by ourselves, was way too much to handle.

We pulled out the calendar and looked more seriously at dates. March 18th jumped out at me. If it wasn't going to be August 19th, it had to have an 8 in it. And the 18th was a Saturday. I didn't want to be a sweaty summer bride, and the following fall was too far away. March 18th was Spring Break too, which was nice and convenient being I was a graduate student. It was perfect.

Slowly but surely the details started falling into place. A venue was the first objective... my first choice was the resort at Squaw Valley since we were both skiers. They were excited to host a wedding, and while a little pricey, we could swing it. Then they laughed when I told them it would be March 18th. No way were they closing their restaurant during Spring Break! This was Lake Tahoe and by the way, was I nuts?!

There was no convincing them and they recommended we consider May for our wedding if we really wanted it at Squaw.

We checked everywhere and only found cheese on the Nevada side and small quaint, expensive as hell restaurants on the California side. I was saved when I read in one of my umpteen wedding planning books a recommendation to seek out different venues... like a college.

There was a college at Tahoe, Sierra Nevada College. See the picture on the front page (not the snowboarder, not the library). This was it. The place where my reception was held. And on the cheap too.

We met the director of food services and she was thrilled to do our wedding. She had an impressive resume being one of the original owners of McCormicks and Schmicks in Seattle. She was bought out by a partner and relocated/retired to Tahoe to plan meals for the spoiled rich kids whose parents could afford the $35K a year for a private liberal arts college situated conveniently at the base of a ski area.

(We benefited from this. Fantastic food, fantastic venue, a hobby for the chef, a chance for her to shine and have fun, and payment? Oh they would work with us. (We actually had to insist after 3 months she send a statement to us... it had slipped her mind.) I think we paid $15-20 a head for smoked salmon, brie, fruit, plated walnut pear salads, prime rib, and salmon and sides. Incredible. )

Once our venue was selected we secured our other vendors... cake, DJ (worthy of a post unto itself... I am restraining my fast fingers here), and florist though we ordered very few flowers... we wanted the natural beauty of our selected church (on the California side - an important detail) and reception hall to stand out.

We went about looking for a photographer. Everyone we met we figured, ehh... they would work. Then we met John Clausen. He was a photographer for Ski Magazine who dabbled in weddings on the side.

Our budget was then broken. I couldn't even look at another photographer.

I needed a dress, we selected our wedding party (my bridesmaids were my sister, Vargas Girl and AB's little sister, AB's groomsmen were his best friend JB and his two brothers), they needed dresses (not the boys, the girls did), AB needed to decide on tuxes, favors, out of town guests, invitations to be made (yes, I handmade our invitations and Vargas Girl handmade the vellum envelopes) etc, etc. And the honeymoon! After much debate we decided it would be Costa Rica. It was out of the US, tropical, yet adventurous, there was an active volcano there (still is) and most of all... cheap.

One of the sticking points in wedding planning came in trying to find an organist... we couldn't find one. Apparently the church had an organ, but no organist because there were none to be found in the area. What would I march down the aisle to?

One of AB's high school friends came to the wedding... Stefan, a musician living in Seattle would fly down (at our expense... he was a musician and all) and stay with AB's friends in the condo they rented together. (Thanks again guys.)

It got done. The wedding was planned. We used to joke about AB's future in wedding planning. He enjoyed it all and was quite good at it. I could have never done it without him.

Before we knew it, the guests started arriving.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Birthdays on the cheap

So we got this Sundance gift card... I went window shopping today with an e-mail to AB open to provide links to him. I love their big thick silver rings like these two in particular... Love them.

AB... notsomuch with the love for the big thick rings... he thinks my fingers need something dainty for some reason.

So my goal was to only provide links to those to him and hope he doesn't deviate... it is taking a chance, but it is Sundance and I love everything there, so if it was dainty, I would still love it.

Then I clicked on the "Shoes and Bags" tab.

HAD to have it. HAD to. You will understand why.

Regularly $295 on sale for $99... and then we have the $50 gift card courtesy of Mr. Redford and all. They were practically paying me to take it.

Nope there wasn't any letting AB make the decision... my birthday present was set as I reminded him how $49 compared to a Coach purse.

He got a 1.5 hour hot stone massage scheduled for Saturday in exchange.

Oh and that hot stone massage? Apparently we paid twice at some point earlier and never noticed it... or something... we had a credit for one 1.5 hour hot stone massage much to our delight.

Now THAT'S the way to do birthdays!

New Years

I have never been a big "resolution" person. The few resolutions I have made were quickly neglected. For example, last year while AB was unemployed and finishing school I resolved to start using coupons and working hard to save money, particularly at the grocery store which is somewhat like the fabric store. I like going there and I like trying new things. (Which is a huge change from when I was a kid and wouldn't try hardly anything new.)

The coupons went by the wayside and now I just aim to get my phone number entered in the kiosk to get my preferred customer benefits and maybe fish a store coupon for $6 off an $80 purchase out of my purse, hoping it isn't going to be returned to me for a long passed expiration date.

So if I call them goals for the year will it make it easier to fulfill? And if I limit it to two will it not seem so daunting? Goals don't HAVE to be accomplished, do they?

Goal #1
-Tackle dinners. I have been hit or miss this year with menu planning. It is amazing how we can come home from a long days work and stand in front of a full pantry, fridge and deep freeze (like I said, I like the grocery store) and not find a single thing for dinner. I like organization, it just takes time, time I rarely have. I am going to find time to organize our dinner menus and grocery list. Oh and did I mention with a focus on being healthy?

Now anyone have any idea what I should fix for dinner tonight? (I am off to a roaring start I tell you.)

Goal #2
-Organize my house and purge unwanted stuff. This may sound like a resolution you hear every January 1st. But it isn't. It is actually a plan someone on my discussion board posted and the logistics have slowly taken hold of my head.

My plan is that I will focus on one room a month. I can do that can't I? That doesn't sound too daunting. It should, in theory, be lighter on the pocketbook too. So over the course of a month I will clean out the room, putting stuff in the garage for a spring garage sale, putting stuff in the trash (bye bye four years of National Geographic... I mean really, why?), and not only organizing things, but BUYING the items I need to organize. If I need some nice fabric covered boxes (since I don't like baskets) I am going to go buy them and use them.

10 rooms (Master suite, Master bath and closet, living room, library, kitchen, formal dining/playroom, kids bathroom, Skadi's room, Leif's room and utility room), 10 months. (The garage is AB's territory though I might throw painting the hallway into slot #11... it has taken a beating over the years.) Some rooms will be "gimmes" - like Leif's room... although the closet in his room really isn't "his" yet.

AB thinks he might be sitting quietly by and "letting" me do this, but I have plans for him. Most of these rooms also have little things that need to be done - example, Master bath has some trim that needs to be replaced and the little patch of linoleum in there needs repaired or replaced... jobs like this also need to be done in preparation for selling our house sometime in the next 1-2 years (hopefully?).

(Don't ask me where we plan to move in 1-2 years... I don't know. That could be goal #3... figure out what we are doing, where we are heading.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Now THAT'S customer service!

AB told me when he ordered my earrings online from Sundance catalog (one of my favorite online sites... though I can never justify buying the stuff for myself) that something weird happened when he checked out. AB never orders online and I figured he was just being a goof. He told me he got two order confirmations and two different shipping tracking numbers.

A few days later he evidently got a note that one order was return shipped by UPS to Sundance as it was sent out in error. AB never had to do anything.

Yesterday in the mail he got a letter of apology from the company for the confusion as well as a $50 gift card! Robert Redford is a very generous man.

I asked AB immediately exactly how expensive my earrings were?

$27 he told me.

Guess who's going shopping! (And if anyone is looking for a great company to buy gifts from, check out Sundance.)