Monday, March 31, 2008
On the flip side, my daughter doesn't need my milk anymore.
I am quite lucky that I have never had any major problems breastfeeding. A little hurdle to start with when Skadi was a newborn because she was starving hungry, the drop or two of colostrum I was producing was not enough for her. She was a hungry baby. And my milk hadn't come in. Once my milk came in she transitioned off formula and was a happy baby after that.
I was able to pump her every meal for her that I was away from her, like I did for her brother.
I actually enjoyed pumping for the most part. It was a time when I could tune out, shut my door and just exist. I enjoyed the time and really only had one or two rude people pounding on my door who "needed" to talk right then.
Skadi is still quite attached to nursing and I am fine with that. Leif self weaned at about 13.5 months and that worked for me. We will see when Skadi bores of nursing. She is a touch more mama attached than Leif ever was, I wouldn't be surprised if she nurses longer.
I am in no hurry.
Skadi's room, for all intensive purposes is 95% done. My sewing table needs to be replaced by her crib, and we need to do something with the queen sized bed in that room.
But finishing her room has been put on hold. Meanwhile, Skadi's crib sits in our closet - where she sleeps so that we don't wake her up (me reading at night with the light on, AB snoring...). Our crib seems to be on its last legs and AB fears moving it very much. So given that my mom and stepdad are coming out in a few weeks, we have put off moving Skadi into her room for our own ease. So that also means that her room will remain at being 95% done beyond March (i.e., tomorrow).
So the next question became, which room is next? I was leaning pretty solidly to our Master Suite - to include the bathroom.
AB, despite all his whining about my goals that he thinks have become his goals, had another suggestion yesterday. We need to treat outside as "a room".
He is right. April is the perfect month to get our backyard in shape. As long as it quits snowing freak snow showers on us and warms up. In theory we will be able to plant the garden in a few weeks. Plus, I want my patio to be in good shape for when my mom and stepdad visit... sitting outside with a gin and tonic or glass of wine, eating BBQ, is always a favorite activity for us all when they visit.
The indoor rooms can wait until it is too hot and miserable to go outside and work. And it is a chance to switch things up a little. And when my husband starts whining about "my goals", I can remind him that this one, was his idea.
The "to do list" includes coating the patio with an epoxy resin so the two cement slabs become one that is much more appealing to the eye and to tender bare feet. Clean out the awful corner that is the bane of my existance. If I ever feel like I need to complain to my husband about something I just walk over to the west side of our house. Where my brow immediately furrows...
I need to clean out my flower beds front and back. I pruned my roses last weekend. And we need to plant the vegetable garden (broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, a tomato or two and mostly room for giant pumpkin rearing).
The goal is set!
There has however, been a burgeoning interest in music though. Like any other parent out there, an interest in music is a great thing in a preschooler. The zylophone has been a mainstay in the living room the past few weeks. It has also been our source for humor lately.
Leif (as he hits each key on the xylophone): "Do Re Mi Do Head"
Or how about this one?
Leif (as he hits each key on the xylophone): "Do Re Mi Dan-Ger-Ous"
Skadi pretty much doesn't want to be in anyone's arms but mine and has mastered her mean look towards AB when he picks her up and she discovers he isn't me.
Enter our son last night:
NM: "Leif, finish up your ice cream so I can put you to bed."
Leif: "Is it your turn to do bedtime tonight?"
Leif: "YAY MOMMY!" (AB off to the side looking a little hurt.)
NM: "But you like daddy to put you to bed too."
Leif: "No I don't."
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
What really has impressed me in the recent years is seeing creative moms out there, some that I know, take their art to the next level and are not only CEOs of their homes, but CEOs for their own small businesses. And very often... doing the things they love.
Many of the women I know who made the decision to stay home, didn't envision starting their own small businesses - or at least I don't remember this as their goals. Many just happened into it with their niche and have found an audience in the internet. And then there are the ones who just flat out amaze me... the moms who actually have a day job, even a part time day job, and still find time to run a business on the side.
My niche... if I had time would be sewing cute kids clothes. I would buy the cutest fabric and sew adorable clothing and sell it online for a small fortune. My time, after all, is immensely valuable. Something kind of like what my online friend's daughter did here... I covet the clothes she makes, though our dual income still isn't in that bracket that affords me to do my shopping there. I just window shop.
My mom (my partner in sewing crime) is coming out in a few weeks and I have presented her with a challenge. To help me make Skadi the cutest Summer outfit *ever* out of this adorable lemon fabric I bought last summer (and intended on making the cutest outfit ever out of). See I needed her... she is a great seamstress, having made most of my sister's and my clothes from kindergarten through about 3rd grade. But I needed her to do the dirty job of going to the fabric store and picking out a pattern.
Thus insuring I don't drain our savings buying cute patterns and fabric for things I will never sew.
Another small business owner I am jealous of is my sister-in-law. This is my sister-in-laws business in Colorado. Photography... oh yes, I could be a photographer too. Oh wait, no I probably couldn't since my photos never turn out as cute as Angie's. I get one in 50 on a good day. And one in 50 doesn't make a successful photo shoot. But Angie rocks. (My nieces and nephews are in there... aren't they cute? She IS photographing my kids next time we are in Colorado.)
Then there is my friend Kacey. Kacey is married to AB's best friend, JB. Kacey is amazingly talented with her jewelry making as can be seen on her website, Subsixstudios. I just bought some earrings from there and I love them. Not only with jewelry, but I think Kacey has a great style and I am looking forward to her Oddments additions. Oh and she sells Barefoot Books too! On top of working part time, making jewelry, selling books and raising two boys, she is one busy girl!
And related to my addiction with shoes and clothes for my daughter... well she has to have bows for her hair! Enter AK... who fulfills all my needs to have cute bows for my daughter's hair.
I looked at the Children's Place website today and noted that they had bobbledy hair clips too, for $2 a pair. But you know what? I would rather buy handmade and support a mom in her craft. So my daughter sports Hip Clips... when she doesn't yank them out of her hair and stuff them in her mouth...
Yes, I do have my blogging... both here and with the newspaper. And I love that gig. (And once I get the mess of domain hosting and my site designed how I want, I will take that to the next level and maybe be the next Pioneer Woman... ha ha ha.)
So in between my dreams of being a writer / seamstress / landscape architect / chef / photographer / counted cross stitcher, I will toil away in my office being a scientist. My childhood dream. Not many people are lucky enough to get to say they are doing what they dreamed they would do as a kid. Of course it is just a touch different then I dreamt it would be as a kid (Curious George's Professor Wiseman meets Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters).
A really cool career!
If I just had a little free time... oh yeah, I am going to fill the upcoming half hour of free time with the gym in a couple months. A little more free time beyond that... which would I choose?
AB keeps telling me we just have to win the lottery... which in order to win, I suppose we would have to play.
My only regret in life is going to be not had enough time to try everything I want to do.
Today someone AB works with told him about a job in Southeast Alaska he could get on with, with the current company. An "easy" transfer. Hmmm... intriguing.
Then this evening I got an e-mail from one of the big companies in a big pretty city letting me know that the job I was in consideration for was cancelled because the project was not funded. Funny. I hadn't known I was even in consideration, I figured they filed my resume in the garbage. They encouraged me to stay in contact with the company for future opportunities. Hmmm... intriguing.
Which then raises the question of how serious are we when we say we aren't moving from here. Yeah... not very. The right opportunity could flip the table.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Weight - 25 lbs, 2 oz - 95th percentile
Head 45 cm
I thought about complaining about what a handful she was in the doctor's office, then I found Leif's post on his one year well baby. Yeah, well I remember that day. And suddenly my whiney little girl who was only happy sitting on the exam table throwing her shoes and socks on the floor for who knows how long just seemed so much easier. Maybe girls are more mellow...
The main thing is that she is healthy, happy and tolerating her 4 immunizations well.
For comparison... Leif at that age:
Weight 23 lbs 12.5 oz (33%)
Height 30.25" (55%)
Head 47 cm
Monday, March 24, 2008
Skadi's first birthday was on Sunday. It flew low under the radar given it was also Easter. But knowing this was likely to happen, we held her birthday party with friends on Saturday the 15th.
She received a number of books and other toys for her birthday. One of her favorite items is her Little People Noah's Ark from grandpa. She loves taking the top off, putting the animals in, pulling the animals out, putting the animals in... you get the idea.
I finally have a child who loves Little People! I can give into my whims without feeling guilty that the toys will go unused! She has just started getting into her Little People house as well that she received for Christmas (also from grandpa). Her other favorite is her rocking chair that arrived this evening. The biggest issue there is keeping her brother OUT of the rocking chair so she doesn't start screaming. Because while she wants to use all of his toys - she is none too willing to share her new coveted item.
One year old. Truly it seems like just yesterday I brought her home from the hospital. Now she is interactive and vocal.
I used to think Skadi would end up being "quiet", but lately I am not so sure of that. She likes to "sing" along when she hears things... even the coffee pot grinding beans has a tune for her and she humms along, "Mmmmmm!". And she has recently become "the talker" at daycare or at home where she will look you straight in the eye and start jabbering in her own language, pause and wait for you to answer. She is vocal at home... as long as her stiff competition is keeping his mouth shut.
She has said "mama" for a few months. Then came "ki-ca", which is "kitty cat", though AB denies it. He refused to let her second word be in reference to "that cat" instead of him. "Dada" was next and is a frequent declaration, probably moreso than "mama" now since... well, since she is ALWAYS in my arms. She rarely has to ask for me. She also says "hi" and "bye bye".
She is working on her first molars and so this weekend she was rather tempermental and not happy unless she was in my arms.
Skadi is standing very well by herself, and today divulged a secret to me... she has been walking 4-5 steps at a time at daycare. They told me this last week, but I refused to believe it. *My* daughter wouldn't dare hide something from me. It was some other little red haired girl in the room... they were seeing things out of the corners of their eyes. Then today on my mid-day visit, she turned around and walked away from me, all the way over to grab onto the swing.
My jaw dropped open. She smiled in her coy fashion and crawled back to me. I told her then her secret was out. Then she got up and walked over to one of the caregivers just to twist the knife a little harder.
Today they announced to me that with nine babies enrolled in the infant program and Skadi now officially over one year old, they will be bumping her up to hang with the big kids instead of opening the second infant room.
I know she will be fine. I really do adore the teacher in the next class up. But what it means to me is that she isn't my tiny little baby anymore. *They* are going to start using the "t" word in referring to her...
Skadi is a really amazing eater. I am going to say this again just because it is not something I have ever been able to say with my other child... Skadi is an amazing eater. Though my MIL does argue with me that my son does eat amazingly well... at least compared to his cousins! (This, of course, made my day and has been etched permanently in my head in that there is something my kid does better than his cousins! No competition, you know.)
Skadi is a meat eater. Leif was not - he was/is carb boy. Skadi will eat her carbs, but give that child chicken or beef, or as we discovered at our friend's house on Sunday - ham and she chows. She will carefully sort out and pick out the meat out of a pile of food in front of her. Give her a dinosaur chicken nugget - whole - and the child is in heaven as she giggles while holding it. Then she will eat it and usually a second one too.
Another difference with food is even if she doesn't like something, she continues to eat it. You might get a funky face with every single bite, but she will eat it!
She started some whole milk this weekend and had her first sippy cup of 50% strength apple juice. She was indifferent towards the milk and thinks that apple juice is the bees knees. (Not surprising.)
Skadi loves to give nice, big, open-mouthed, sloppy kisses. She responds with a "kiss" everytime someone says "kissy" and sticks their lips out. She loves giving kisses to everyone, though Leif is her main target and his kisses come without warning or solicitation. This morning she crawled up while Leif was on my lap and went full on into his face planting a big kiss on his lips. She thought it was hilarious.
And Leif, thankfully, did too.
Skadi has one hero in her life right now. Mommy and daddy, they are fine. But put Leif in front of her and she howls with laughter. She does everything she can to keep up with him, play with him, and to be his shadow. On Easter at our friend's house, the kids were going up and down a small plastic slide. Skadi wanted to be part of that in a bad, bad way. Every few minutes, we would slow down the preschoolers so that she could go up and slide down. It was utter pain and misery for the kids to slow down for her, but at least then she felt involved. Next year she will be right in the mix!
Skadi will start at the other school in June and we are very anxious for this. We are supposed to be picking her teacher, but might resort to requesting her name goes in the hat for the draw between the two teachers. Truly, either teacher would be great and we just keep waffling between the two. Picking one, in my own mind, is the same as rejecting the other. And I just can't do that.
Skadi is one year old. How did this happen? I know it sounds cliche, but it has gone way too fast.
I have a lot more confidence this time around. I care a lot less about what other moms think. I never thought that two would be so hard. Yet I never thought parenting the second would come so easily and naturally. I have spent way too much money on cute clothes in the past year... quite likely more this coming year. And I have been amazed at how love isn't divided, but grows with the addition of another child.
Happy birthday Skadi!
Yesterday Leif was wearing a pair of underwear around his ankles... and on top of his pants. After about two hours of him tripping everywhere he walked, we insisted they come off.
The purpose of the underwear? To protect him from pinching crabs that are all over our house.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
We walked into the reception area and I was floored. Two things. The beauty of the lodge, the spread of food and seeing everyone we loved there. Then the other thing... the DJ was NOT who we hired. And some lame 80's song was playing.
So I hadn't known who the DJ was until he came up and introduced himself and said if there was anything he could do, to let him know.
"Umm, who are you?" I asked.
"I am your DJ, I am with McClains Mobile DJ of Reno," he said.
"No, I hired a specific DJ and was assured that he would be here," I said.
"I am sorry," the guy said, "It is me."
"You don't understand," I told him, "when I put my deposit down I reitterated to the owner that music is important to me and that we had to have met the DJ who would be working our wedding beforehand - he understood this. We have never met you. Why are YOU here?"
AB stepped in at that point and said, "I am sure everything will be fine" and let the poor guy go.
My mind was racing. I was mad. It was a breach of contract, I was sure. AB assured me that we had signed no such document declaring one particular DJ even though we were told it would be one particular person. I vowed to read the contract when we got home. I complained about how mad I was that they didn't just give us a call and let us know there was a problem. He agreed.
Then the DJ from hell decided to go at it himself there for a minute.
The Greg Kihn Band's, "Our Love's in Jeopardy" came on.
I marched up to the DJ station and told him if he decided to deviate from our play list or from the genre of our play list one more time he was not getting paid. In so many words of course.
AB reminded me not to let this little fiasco ruin our day. Or course not, I agreed, I still had my grandmother behaving like a seven year old to take care of that.
Everyone mingled for a little while and ate baked brie encroute with shallots and grapes, crostini and crackers and cheese pesto rolls and drank the wines we had picked out in Napa and Sonoma. Before long we were all seated while the plated salads came out; fresh baby greens with a baked pear and sugared walnuts and a fantastic dressing.
My stepdad was rumored to have said, "this is delicious, if I could buy another salad, I would". And someone at his table reminded him that he was buying about 60 salads. Bottles of wine appeared on each of the tables so guests no longer had to wander up to the bar.
Of course our concern with the free wine and cash bar was realized and that many people DID believe that the bar was no charge. They went up and requested a beer, or a scotch, and were asked to pay. I would have loved to have had a hosted bar and in many parts of the US, not doing so is very unthoughtful. But it was horribly cost prohibitive to have a full bar.
We were called up by tables to the buffet line where our guests were offered potatoes with a red bell pepper sauce, asparagus with hollendaise sauce, prime rib and smoked BBQ'd salmon. The dinner was amazing... or so I was told. I don't usually have the problem of not being able to eat, but I couldn't. I don't know if it was nerves or what, but I had a horrible time trying to force food past my lips.
Instead of eating I found myself wandering around the tables making an effort to say hi to everyone who made it.
The toasts began shortly after dinner. We had specified 3-4 toasts, but nearly everyone stood up at some point. It was very humbling - and so amazing to have so many people speak so kindly about us.
Our cake was up next. AB was under strict orders that no smushing would be in order. He abided and we fed each other the rich chocolate bourbon cake. The middle tier was vanilla with a raspberry chamborg filling.
AB then, after prompting from our caterer, took the mic to thank everyone for coming to share our day with us before he swept me off to dance our heavily choreographed first dance.
It was at that point that something I never thought would happen, happened... AB's younger "middle" brother had tears streaming down his face. He blamed it on the birth of his first daughter 6 weeks ago. Maybe that was the reason, but it was very touching.
Our second dance was to Clapton's, Wonderful Tonight with our parents, me with my dad and AB with his mom. Then the floor opened up for everyone to Green Day's, Time of Your Life.
One of the funniest images implanted in my head from that night was seeing my punk rocker brother in law out there dancing to "Shock the Monkey" with my grandmother. Yes, there are pictures.
The dance floor was then opened up to everyone and we had a great time dancing and talking to people. When I had a chance, I went over and snagged a piece of chocolate cake since they had served me white cake.
The night ended too soon. At 11:30pm, AB and I had our last dance, Grow Old With Me by Adam Sandler. Yes, Adam Sandler. It was a fun way to end the night.
The caterer kept telling us the party could go on, but I was anxious to wrap it all up and be with my husband. All the remaining food was wrapped. Bills were paid - save for the caterer who insisted she would bill us. I even paid the DJ despite my better thoughts not too.
At that point we loaded everything up and took off to the Hyatt. Where yes, we did have rooms.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
"We are here for the long haul. We are not moving to Anchorage or Colorado. Or for that matter Seattle or Portland."
Since moving here nearly six years ago I don't think we saw ourselves as permanent here. On the flip side I don't think we saw ourselves as not potentially permanent here either. It was just kind of out there floating - what if? What other options do we have? At the time, not many.
Sometimes it was annoying in that I wanted permanency. I wanted stability. Other times it was reassuring to think we could pack up and move anywhere we wanted on a whim.
I don't have many whims. Neither does AB. But the ability was still there. You know the same reason you keep your passports ready handy... just in case you decide to go skiing in the Swiss Alps on a whim. (Ignoring the fact your kids don't have passports and that you aren't going anywhere without them...)
This seems to have been brought about mostly by the fact that my husband, for the first time since moving here, has a permanent, good paying job he likes with a great company. As of last October, our talk of moving someplace "better", closer to family, etc., seems to have fallen off.
Then that house came along.
And that nagging feeling of, if we do this, we are cementing ourselves.
Cement can be broken of course. It is hard, and sometimes painful to pull your feet out. But it can be done.
It all basically culminated in a discussion Sunday night while we were fixing dinner.
"What do you want to do about a house," AB asked me in the same breath as asking me if we were going to go to church on Easter Sunday given how Palm Sunday had gone with our children not so interested in the service.
And in typical NM style I flipped the question back to him. (Skipping over the Easter question.)
"It's obvious that we need to do something and make a decision," I told him. "We need to forge a path forward, we want to forge a path forward. So the question becomes do you want to build, or buy used?"
"I want to build," he said.
And there, it was done.
But I had one more question.
"And you are fine with being here long term?" I asked him.
"Well I am not looking for jobs, are you?" he asked with a hint of sarcasm.
"Nope," I said.
"Then let's get things moving," he said.
A decision was made in record time.
That's not to say I am not sitting here wondering if it is the best decision. If we aren't going to look back someday and wish we had bailed when we had the less invested, before the kids were in school. What kills me in making this decision is that it isn't about "places", the place we live in or the place we don't live, but instead it is about our families.
Frankly, it sucks not to have family nearby. We have friends and we are becoming rooted in the community that we are both growing to enjoy. But nothing replaces your real family.
One of the single best things I ever did was to leave Colorado. I grew up a lot in many ways. AB and I learned to rely on each other and we cemented our relationship (more talk about cement...). The sibling rivalry we both grew up with faded and we were really able to become happy as individuals and a couple with few external factors.
I grew out of my high school days of "who said what about who" and there was no longer the need to look over my shoulder wondering who I was going to run into while wandering Olde Town Fort Collins. Something happens when you leave your old stomping ground.
Before having kids, we were happy to live away from our families. However, seeing our kids grow up having to be reintroduced to grandma and grandpa with every visit is hard. Not having built in babysitters for special occasions or weekend getaways is a bummer. And I wish my kids knew their cousins.
But webcams help with getting to know grandma and grandpa. (Leif told grandma when she left the other day she needed to buy a computer - truth be told she just needs to hook up the webcam she has had for over a year now.) I can pay for a babysitter who does exactly what I tell them to and would never bribe my kids with candy. And how often would we really go on weekend getaways by ourselves? AB and I both grew up with very few cousins and only seeing them on a rare occasion most of the time.
Our obstacles are not insurmountable and we are enjoying a new phase of vacationing with grandma and grandpa. A luxury afforded to us by having good jobs with time in for lots of vacation days.
I won't deny that a fear of the unknown and knowing the grass isn't always greener on the other side doesn't play a little into our remaining here. AB and I are at a place in our lives where we can't afford to take large risks. Financial security and job security are priorities with our young family.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"Look at me," he said.
"Yep, I see you," I said.
"No, LOOK at me!" he said with a grin from ear to ear.
I stopped and looked at him. His hair was a little glisteny with water - had he tried to do his own hair?
"Oh Leif, did you wet your own hair down and do it?" I asked.
"No mommy!" he exclaimed giggling. "I pottied in my hair!"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It hasn't been *that* long. I keep thinking about all the things I have missed so far in my narrative - the huge commitment of buying a dog together a year before we got married... the bridesmaids dresses that were purchased too early (my sister was visibly pregnant in hers) and probably too hastily and not considering the weather... selecting the DJ... tasting cake... not buying a crinoline for my dress because I didn't want to be pouffy (mistake)...
The list goes on.
But when I think about walking up to the church that late afternoon on March 18th after photos, my mind goes blank.
I remember seeing the junior high kids who were sleeping over at the church and under strict orders to stay upstairs during the ceremony.
I remember getting my mom to help me go to the bathroom again.
I remember my grandmother not speaking to me.
I remember the huge footprint on my train - that bothered me a whole lot more than the weeds and debris.
I remember hearing AB's friend from high school playing Pachabel's Canon.
I remember waiting and waiting because my stepgrandmother and my stepbrother had not arrived. (They never did as they never found the church.)
I remember my parents escorting me down the aisle with my dad on one side and my mom on the other. It was important to me to have them both there.
I remember thinking that (like my sister) I should have tears in my eyes or something. I should be forcing back the tears. But I wasn't. I was just happy.
I remember my sister sobbing uncontrollably (pregnancy hormones - now I get that - but at the time I wondered if we shouldn't stop the ceremony. LOL.)
I remember kissing my husband and making a mental note to not make it a little peck under the advisement of our pastor. To really lay it on.
I remember smiling from ear to ear.
I remember walking out and greeting everyone as they left.
Apparently we had our pictures taken in the church afterwards... or at least that's what the pictures show.
AB's best friend, JB, drove us to our reception site in my husband's Subaru decorated for the occasion.
And I remember it was 8 years ago today.
Monday, March 17, 2008
It was March 18th, 2000.
I woke up happy and refreshed after my good nights sleep in my own bed. All I could think of was "I am getting married today!" I bounded out of bed, got dressed and took my dog out for her walk. I sat on the small hill in the neighborhood park looking at the bright blue sky with not a cloud in it. Feeling the sun hit my cheeks.
It was going to be a beautiful day.
I walked home cheery, took a shower and called Cullen. The friend of my husband's who was going to take care of our dog, Winny, for the day. I had to drop her off before I went to get my hair done, after which everyone would start arriving at my house to get ready and pack the last minute things up to haul back up the mountain.
I called Cullen and the phone rang.
He had PROMISED he would be there! Bridezilla set in. What would I do with my dog?
I picked up the phone again and called my fiance (noting it would be the last day I would be saying fiance). It was more than obvious that the crowd at the condo at Tahoe were not waking as chipper as I had. Oh, they weren't even waking.
My fiance slowly and groggily comes to the phone. I started crying about our dog and HIS friend not being home to take her.
AB was functioning about 3 minutes behind me with his thought process. "What?" he said.
I was steamed. My dogsitter was not home as agreed, my fiance was hung over and my problems were just beginning I feared.
I was angry. About a half hour later AB called, still feeling the pain, but told me that Cullen was now home and I could take Winny over. Of course then I wondered if I WANTED to take Winny to someone so irresponsible.
Then sanity set in.
Of course what I didn't mention was that during this half hour my grandmother had also called.
"We don't have rooms for tonight?" she tells me.
"What?" I asked.
"We don't have rooms," she said again.
"Yes you do," I said.
"No we don't," she said. "I called the Hyatt and they don't have reservations down for any of us, you included."
See here was the deal with the Hyatt. My great uncle was head of security there. Our rooms, mine and AB's and my grandmother's and my cousins, were gratis. Free.
I briefly tried to explain this to her, "knowing Chucky, we aren't in the official registration system," I told her.
She cut in, "we have to be, we need rooms, you need to call them."
I will never forget this moment until the day I die. It is probably only the second time I have really ticked my grandmother off. First time at Disneyland when I told her to back off me on what I was spending MY money on. Her tongue turned to a snakes then and spit venom about my being an ungrateful brat.
I said to her, "No, you need to calm down and call Chucky. I need to go get my hair done and deal with my dog".
I knew that the Hyatt had rooms and no way were they turning away a bride and groom showing up. Worst case it went on my already bulging credit card.
"You don't even care about me," she said. Then she hung up on me.
I had to stuff this to the back of my head at that time. I couldn't deal with my drama queen, center of attention hog grandmother. I knew exactly what was wrong, she wanted to be the mother of the bride. And she wasn't.
I called my mom and downloaded all this on her and she did exactly what the mother of the bride was supposed to do, "you go get your hair done, we will deal with Winny if need be, and I will deal with your grandmother".
She dealt with her as best as possible while I was getting my hair done. My grandmother was bawling. My mom's cousin comforting her with a scornful eye towards me and probably my mom too.
I went to Robert, my stylist in Reno, who did my hair for me. I went home and put my make up on. Then my mom, sister, brother in law and stepdad arrived. We all got loaded into the car.
As we were driving out of town it dawned on me that I was starved. Despite my need to get up to the lake and get the show on the road, I needed food. A quick stop at Subway and then we were on our way.
We arrived at the little hotel that was housing a large portion of our guests, directly and conveniently across the street from the reception hall. I went to my mom's room and put my dress on. Afterwards people popped in and out to check on me. My mom came in and helped me go to the bathroom before we got in the car to go get pictures done. I had my little satiny matching purse (that was so not me, but necessary) and was ready to go.
We were walking down the hotel room steps when my mom yells, "hold on you have a thread".
"Just a minute," I replied, "I have my Leatherman in my purse"
That became the joke of the day, The Bride Carried a Leatherman.
We arrived about 40 minutes later at the church. I looked over at my fiance and he walked to the door of the car. I remember feeling shy. I had never been shy with AB before. But here I sat in my parent's rental car in a big wedding dress, face made up, hair done up and I felt shy.
He showed my the bouquets that our florist had done. We wanted a few flowers, but not many. My bouquet with irises was gorgeous. I loved it and it was so me. I couldn't think of what to say other than, "I love the flowers".
We all convened at a private beach (reserved by our fantastic photographer) on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe for pictures. I had this gorgeous long train that was flowing over weeds and beach debris to get to the beach for the perfect pictures. I didn't care.
I was right earlier, it was a gorgeous day. It was 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We had picked the perfect day.
Our photographer was worth every penny we paid him. I knew our pictures were going to be fabulous.
We were packing up to head back up to the church. The photographer told us all to stop. He pulled out his equipment again for one last shot... to be continued.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Ever look a parent in the eye and you are sure this is what she is saying to herself? Or maybe she is saying, "yeah my kid got past that MONTHS ago and is NOW onto (insert bigger and better thing here)". And some parents actually do say this. I know some.
One of my good friends posted in her blog about keeping up. Trying to keep her competitive and perfectionist nature at bay in regards to her daughter, particularly in comparison to other kids.
I get this. I so get this.
How can you not look around at other children your child's age and wonder, "should my kid be doing that too? How old is that kid, he has to be at least 2 years older right?"
What it really comes down to is, "what am I doing wrong as a parent that my kid can't do that?" While we all know that kids excel at different things and isn't going to be the best at everything (though some parents I know claim their kids are indeed...), it is still a source of anxiety.
There are some things that Leif excels at and enjoys doing - riding his trike is one. Though now we are transitioning to the bike and that is proving to be a touch more difficult and frustrating for him. We are lucky in that we have a bike path behind our house that has no motorized traffic and we aim to walk on it everyday. This has afforded him lots of opportunity for trike riding and his tricycle shows it. It was crumbling underneath him. Our intentions were to get him a bike in May or so, but the state of the trike dictated moving that up on the timeline. He is still a touch small for the big boy bike, so a steep learning curve is ahead of him.
He is a good swimmer for his age, but has been in swimming consistently for a couple years now. If he wasn't decent for his age I would think I was throwing money out the window. Leif excels at numbers, but to me, he comes by this honestly with parents who enjoy and studied mathematical applications into graduate school. He says "thank you", "please", "no thank you", "sorry". The fact that he has to remind us of our manners regularly is an indication that he did not learn this at home. I pay good money for his Montessori education thank you very much.
Then there are the ones we don't have locked up - he still struggles with poop training at 3.5 years old. He can't be bothered to do anything artistic for more than three minutes and only then it is upon request by me (this has GOT to be AB coming out in him). He doesn't sit quietly anytime even for chocolate (which says a lot) - what are other parents doing - drugging their children? While we are good with numbers, letter recognition is very hit or miss. He has lucked out that his name is short and essentially four lines with various squiggles... this was not intentional when we looked towards the day he might be trying to actually write his name.
The past few months we have also encountered a new aspect to parental competitiveness. Our daughter.
Those same feelings still exist with regards to other babies in her room and who we know. (That little girl in her class who was walking at 8 months? Show off.) But now we have a new one.
"Remember when Leif was one year old," I said to AB the other night, "wasn't he doing a lot more at that point?"
Inevitably we have started comparing our own children's abilities. Our conclusion has been that Skadi is a much "younger" one year old than Leif was. Her teachers agree she is on the young side, but right now that doesn't bother me as it ensures her a little more time in the infant room with her doting teacher who we all love.
I am pretty sure we have done this to her. She hasn't had our undivided attention whereby we could focus on her skills one on one. Take for example the other night when she was "walking" between AB and I.
We would do this for 30 minutes at a time with Leif until HE didn't want to do it anymore. The other night we had 10 minutes before Leif needed to get in the bathtub and so we held her hands and walked her back and forth. Twice. Before Leif NEEDED to stand between us and be a part of the game. Only his version meant dancing with Skadi in the middle or making her crawl over the mountain named Leif. (And she should have roared like a lion when on top... but she didn't.)
The fact that she isn't walking yet and probably won't be anytime really soon I put somewhat on myself. Who knows how much of it is me or just who she is. And she isn't her brother.
So while I bemoan the fact that she is a second child who never, ever will get as much attention as her brother had. I also have to remind myself of what she has. Something that as an oldest child, I always wanted. A big brother. A brother who thinks she is the coolest thing around and offers her a substantial amount of attention - some wanted, some not. She does something my son never had the opportunity to do, light up just by seeing him smile at her. Which sends me nearly to puddle stage as a mom.
Sure, I try not to compare her to Leif. She is her own person. Just like I tell myself not to compare my kids to their peers. But I maintain that if I was really good at not paying attention to what other kids were doing, it would mean I wasn't being a good observant parent. I believe that by expecting a lot of my children, they will live up to that. It's what my and AB's parents did with us - and I think we turned out pretty good!
She agreed that it is a beautiful house. But here is where I understand why my MIL makes a great living as a real estate agent. She rocks at it. Not only does she know houses, but she knows lots and utilities and "typical" city/county markings and construction.
Things I had glossed over... she pointed to the seams of the carpet and how poorly they were adhered. She pointed out the size of the "kid's rooms". Yep, tiny.
She grilled the agent and came to the conclusion that he knows more than he is sharing about the land behind the house.
She is intuitive that way.
Then she spied the neighboring diagonal shaped lot that wouldn't have an obstructed view if the county land was built on, that would have only one neighbor.
"Well I see why they love the house," she told the agent, "it is a gorgeous house. And there are things that will really work for them in this house. And some things that won't. So thanks so much for the time you have spent thus far. Could you get the information on the two neighboring lots to this one, we might be very interested in those."
See how she seamlessly handled this? This type of thing is not my forte.
And why I am thrilled she was here to help us find clarity.
We have a plan we are going to put forward. One that AB and I haven't been wondering if it was the best thing for us...
Find a lot, buy it. Wait a year and get our finances in better shape while we design our house.
I am very happy with this path forward.
The sellers motivation is showing.
He has some proposals to make to us regarding getting out of our house and into the new house.
Funny since we haven't even made an offer on the new house.
We had written it off pretty well.
And curse you internet for letting me find out way too easy what our new mortgage payment would be.
And Excel isn't helping by letting me plug this number into my budget sheet to see what it does to our monthly expenses (yes I did bump up heating and air conditioning costs as well).
I need clarity. I need my mother in law.
(I never thought I would write those sentences next to each other before.)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
On the floor...
With my 3.5 year old...
Candy Land in front of us...
Linearity is not his forte. Moving in one direction to the end isn't either.
Winning - getting to the end first - completely overrated according to Leif.
My advantage? Being able to stack the deck of cards... "oh look you got two oranges again!"
Given the raging success that Cariboo has been in our house, the Easter bunny is bringing Hullabaloo for Easter this year.
Candy Land may never come out. Ever again.
(And I LOVED Candy Land as a kid!)
So supposidly the writer's strike is over now, but things won't return to "normal" until next season.
Honestly, it has been good for us. AB gets up and leaves for work by 5:30am, which he reminds me was "really" 4:30am Monday morning post-springing forward. Consequentially he is going to bed by 9pm most every night. He used to stay up much later than me on a daily basis. Now I have four (sometimes five) nights a week where the cat and I are the ones wandering the house togeether while everyone else sleeps.
I get home from work about 5:35pm with both kids. We get everything carried in and I get a Curious George episode started for Leif while I start dinner. AB usually wanders in a few minutes before 6pm. We juggle Skadi back and forth while finishing dinner prep and aim to have dinner for us all on the table by 6:15-6:30pm.
Many days we all have the same thing. There are plenty of other days where neither AB nor I are up for the whining about our choice in food (last night Leif told AB that the filet mignon was "yucky"...) and we put chicken nuggets, carrots or green beans and a pile of ketchup in front of the kids. Skadi thinks it is the coolest thing in the world to have her own chicken nugget. (She ate the filet like a champ though, truth be told there isn't much she won't eat... in fact, I can't think of anything so far. Even the asparagus, she shook her head and made a face with each bite, but kept right on eating.)
Ok, so I started talking about TV now didn't I.
After dinner we have a little time for play. Leif likes to play Cariboo during this time. The problem is Skadi does too. Sometimes we set the train up, or just play with random things in his room. Bathtub for the kids, bedtime for Skadi, snack for Leif, brush Leif's teeth and then his storytime.
One of us does stories while the other starts the evening chores. Clean up the dinner mess, make lunches for the next day, get bottles ready, make our stacks of things that get hauled to the car or carried to the Vanpool tomorrow.
On a good day we are both finished by 8:45pm. Sometimes it is more like 9:15pm.
TV? Many nights a week it doesn't even get turned on. That's not to say that our TV isn't working for us. Our little Tivo box is busy recording stuff ensuring we never need to make a trip to the local Blockbuster.
Right now we have 12 episodes of InTreatment, three episodes of Big Brother, five episodes of Smashlab, two episodes of Mythbusters, and Bernard and Doris (an HBO special movie that looked good to me - not to AB) in addition to many, many episodes of Curious George (you never know which one Leif is going to ask for). The one we always get to watch on Thursday night is Survivor, because you can't come into work without having seen Survivor the night before. The likelihood of it being completely ruined for you is too great.
Turmoil is about to hit our Tivo routine however. Top Chef returns on Wednesday.
AB and I are major Top Chef fans who have watched since the first episode. It is the one thing we both are likely to sneak and watch by ourselves when the other isn't available knowing full well we can't divulge any details and will likely have to watch a second time with the other. AND we are completely fine with that.
AB has given up on InTreatment, so I should be able to start plowing through those making room for Top Chef. He also doesn't succumb to the dregs of TV programming known as Big Brother... it's mine too.
I am anxiously awaiting Big Love which is rumored to be returning later this summer, AB won't admit that he is too, but he is.
However, AB just might be counting the days until Burn Notice returns. I am pretty sure he is.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Then I decided to type a note back. I pulled out the keyboard shelf and my fingers hit wood.
The keyboard was gone.
Now that it is about a half hour later, and I found the keyboard (my house is a disaster again already because we had carpets cleaned today and EVERYTHING is still out of place).
So one reason why wireless sucks.
Tonight has been a tough night. We decided to venture out to dinner... to Round Table down the street, given the disarray of the house. Just bad bad idea.
I don't know if it was the video game room or the hyped up atmosphere. It was meltdown city for both kids and not long before I went and got a box for the food and we hauled two crying kids and a half eaten pizza out.
As I was leaving an older woman was commenting to her friend, "I remember times like that with two little kids, we just didn't go out" in an unmistakably loud whisper.
Yeah well... apparently you were smarter.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
To give you an idea of the state of my home... my son sitting at breakfast yesterday told me, "I think it is time the housecleaner came again".
Yeah, me too. She came today, my house is clean again. Weekly housecleaning is my ultimate indulgence and something I am not sure I could ever live without again. I am sure I have completely forgotten how to clean anything myself. Postive actually.
The things that come out of his mouth just keep getting funnier... and weirder. He still has a weird opposition to messes. This is my mom coming through in him. He told me the other day that the table was just too messy. Of course I responded that he could feel free to clean it.
I am routinely being corrected in my manners lately. Apparently I suck at saying "no thank you". I am working on this. Mostly because I am really tired of hearing, "I don't think that is how we say no is it? You need to be polite mommy and say no thank you."
At my prompting this evening, I got the first picture of a person out of him. We had a conference last week about Leif at school. I complained that he doesn't seem to be learning anything creative, he just wants to do numbers work. I didn't really complain as much as it was an observation that he doesn't do art. And I worried about that. As someone who loved art (and math) I want to see my son create. Turns out he can do it just fine and is on par with his peers his age. I handed him a piece of paper and a pencil tonight and he drew me... ears, two eyes, a nose on my forehead, a smile on my chin, a mess of scribbly hair on my head and two legs protruding from my chin. I am satisfied.
Skadi is just over 2 weeks shy of being a year old. I don't know how this happened. All week she has been a smiley, giggley thing. She chipped a front tooth on Saturday pretty massively. Enough so that when I took her to the dentist on Monday they repaired it. She did amazingly and only squealed when they decided to push the envelope and try to smooth out the repair job. Dental masochism? At least my kids don't mind having dental work... that's something isn't it?
Oh and a last note on the house... the real estate agent called this evening and gave AB some more information. Then added that he was under authority by the seller to offer us the house for $24K less than the listing price. Officially $55K under the appraised value. Wow, it was tempting. We had pretty well written it off, no plans to make an offer though my MIL is anxious to see it when she comes out.
Well I still think it is probably off the block for us. I still love the house, but am just not sure I can take the leap right now. AB is on the fence though is about to tip off based on new information about the owner of the 65 acre county parcel behind it... a conglomeration... whatever that means. Who really knows what it means in the grand scheme of things really. But after having apartments go up behind us once, we won't be making that mistake again.
Work has absorbed me in a big way. Things are going really well, which is great. But when 5pm comes, turning off the work button and turning on the mommy button is hard. It doesn't take long once I walk into Skadi's daycare and see her smiling face, but walking away from my computer when I have a 21 page statement of work in progress is tough. Not long ago I would have stayed until I had done what I needed.
Life is different now. Shifting gears is necessary because my 3.5 year old doesn't want to hear about cost sheets on the drive home.
Being a mom is my favorite aspect of course. But right now I am finding what I am doing at work very rewarding too, which is a nice change from recent.
I am getting "trial by fire" according to one of the PI's on the project I am managing. He called the other day to apologize "a little, but not much" that my first project I am managing that was scheduled to start on April 1 was increased in size and scope to over a million for Phase One. We are presently scrambling to rewrite our statement of work to reflect the pile of money waiting for us on the other side. Imagine the horror the business office might have when they go to pick up a check and instead find one for three times that amount.
He mostly called to congratulate me (and to receive return congrats on his successful funding) that my title on this project was changed to "program manager" by the sector lead.
Wow I better not screw this up.
My first project management opportunity has morphed into a program management opportunity with multi-millions of dollars and projects scoped out for the next 5 years.
While it amps me, and psyches me up to be taking on something so big - to be given an opportunity of this magnitude. It also scares me substantially. AB reminds me that I probably can't fail too bad, because at the first sign of things looking grim, I will be snatched out of that position. I am watching and double checking every step I take.
So far I really like my role. I like the sector lead I am working under. I kind of like that he canned the girl who was supposed to mentor me and said he would do it instead. I like organizing the teams. I like that Sean Connery's look alike was asked to join the project and when the cranky old man asked who was managing it, he said he was in when he heard it was me. (Of course though I adore the codger, I am not sure I want to manage him on this project.)
This position has become all encompassing for me and thankfully comes with a so far endless pot of PDM (program development money) until the check arrives. I have other projects too, and a proposal that went external this afternoon. I will be moving offices towards the end of this month to beginning of next month and a lab of my own will come into my possession in a few months.
I will need to start deciding a career path here soon. I always envisioned myself a scientist, analyzing data. But lately I am wondering if I should request a mentor who will help my move into program management permanently.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
And even though my husband took the initiative today and called to schedule a carpet cleaning, and I scheduled a meeting with a financial advisor, we think we are going to let it slide.
See here's the problem... right now (and ignoring two upcoming family visits where a guest room would be nice) our house is fine. I still love my pergola. I am looking forward to growing pumpkins and eating fresh nectarines. I still love my orange kitchen - even if my cupboards don't have pull outs and are over crowded.
Yeah, it's only three bedrooms, and 95% of the year, that is fine. Our garage is cramped. The pantry is a disaster area that is impossible to organize because of the deep dark depths. And to top it off we have an apartment building looming behind us.
I like my big huge tub that I can easily fit into with the kids. I like my library and the decorating in the kids rooms.
And I love my pergola and patio. (Thanks AB and everyone else who helped pour concrete.)
I like having money. This may sound obvious... but after a year of AB being unemployed and in school, a year where we slid into debt while gambling on our future, it is paying off. We have made substantial gains in the past 6 months of permanent employment to better our financial situation. I like the fact that we have plans to go to Hawaii with my mom and stepdad this year... and that we will be able to pay cash for the trip.
I like knowing that every month we can easily make ends meet.
I am enjoying my monthly goals lined out to improve the house little by little, purge things and prepare for a move. A move that in one year, we will be monetarily ready to make. We will be able to afford to make.
I still love that house. But for now it is a little too far out of our reach.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
You might envision a quiet morning at the local bakery sipping coffee.
And this might happen... for a record of about 30 minutes.
Then you might look at your watch and realize you have 30 minutes before swimming class starts.
You might consider going home.
Then you might realize that it is a pain to drive home, unload the kids from the car and reload them 20 minutes later.
So you might decide to go look at the coveted lots to see which ones have sold.
You might not be surprised to still see available lots.
Then you might drive down a street not normally travelled.
And you might see some really big, huge and very expensive houses.
Then you might see this house perched by itself.
Then your spouse might pick up the sheet of paper like he always does while commenting about the sweeping views.
And he might announce that this house is not so huge and not so expensive as all the other houses in the neighborhood.
Then you might forget about it for awhile while you pay attention to kids swimming.
Then after swimming you might start talking about the house again.
And during naptime, your husband might just pick up the phone and call the real estate agent.
And you might just schedule an appointment to see the house.
The kitchen might look something like this:
And there might be a walk in pantry in the kitchen.
And there might be a wine cooler built in.
And you might love the house.
And the agent might tell you about the "very motivated to sell builder" who has had this house "on the market for 6 months" and beg you to "just make an offer please".
And you jolt yourself back to reality and keep your lips tight.
And you might have to comfort your son who fell down the stairs.
And you might leave.
And this might be the topic of conversation for the rest of your weekend.
Your spouse might even use the words "obviously meant to be".
You might try to figure out how to buy this house.
You might start phoning family in real estate and mortgage lending for their thoughts.
You might just ache looking at the pictures.
You might cry thinking about someone else getting this house.
You might sob when you think about how it appraised for $40K more than the listing price.
You might feel a little sick to your stomach trying to figure out how to get your own house fixed up and on the market.
Then you might just go sit down and watch a movie and try to forget about it all.
You might be able to.
And then again, you might not.
All because you went to breakfast early.