Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With the (C)Old(s)

It feels like forever since I’ve posted anything.

I do have excuses though. We’ve been sick. In a circular family oriented sort of way.

Grace gets sick. Then Matt gets sick. Then I get sick. Now Matt gets sick again.

THE CYCLE MUST STOP!! I can’t do this anymore.

We were talking about our cycle of snot and puke the other day and came to the realization that since the Bahamas (remember my head cold?) that we haven’t gone more than 2 or 3 days as a family without one of us being ill.

How will I be celebrating the New Year? With Lysol. The environment be damned, but I am high-tailing it up the store and buying every can of germ killing spray I can get. Sure, we will be high on antiseptic fumes and leave a carbon footprint the size of Washington state from my 2 hour cleaning bender, but I AM DONE.

Here’s to the New Year and getting the crud out of our systems.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Than Words

It’s amazing how quickly Gracie’s language skills are developing. Just a month ago I was worried that she hardly had any words. Now she seems to learn a new word, and its meaning, almost daily.

So far my favorite is “Aww Dun!” (Translation: “All Done!”)

It is punctuated, of course, with hands thrown into the air like she is about to begin the decent of a mammoth roller coaster. After all, what’s the point of announcing that you are finished with your dinner if there is no grand gesture to accompany it? This is always directly followed by a quick session of “All Done” and “More” where she pushes and pulls her highchair tray back and forth. A few more pieces of food are usually consumed too, thus proving that she was in fact NOT “All Done!”

In the number two spot is “Baawl.” (Translation: “Ball.”)

Why is such a simple word and object a ranked favorite? Because I’m lazy, that’s why. My mom has bought Grace the Ball-o-saurus Ball Pit with accompanying bag ‘o 100 balls. I wrapped the pit, but ran out of enough paper to wrap the bag ‘o balls. So they’ve been sitting on our dining room table in plain sight. I figure that she’s 1, she’s not going to even notice that they are there.

I was wrong.

The other day, in an attempt to occupy her, I asked Gracie to go get a ball. What does she do? Crawls straight over to the dining table, stands up and points at the bag ‘o balls. Oh. I guess she does notice the large see-through container of brightly covered toys, huh?

Number three? “Daawg and Wik.” (Translation: “Dog and Rick.” Which is one in the same.)

Every morning, after her cries have been answered and she’s rescued from her crib, the first thing out of her mouth is “Daawg.” She has come to adore Lil’ Rick. She spends a quite a bit of time crawling after him, pulling his fur, poking his face, trying to trick him into licking her and when not engaged in those activities calling “Wik. Daawg. Wik. Wik. Wik!!!” The dog in turn, spends the majority of his day trying to avoid her while still being near family. Plus, he doesn’t come when WE call him half the time, much less when Gracie is screaming his name in her 1 year old accent.

The fourth favorite is “Aww-el.” (Translation: “Angel.”)

Gracie has been mastering the art of Christmas ornament removal. Frankly, I am fine with it because at least I can put the ornaments back on the tree. Originally, she was plucking the needles of our White Pine.

On top of our tree is an angel. Directly across the room from it is another angel on a shelf. She has noticed both, and started pointed both of them out. I know, not ground breaking, but I am still impressed that she recognizes that while they are distinctly different objects, more different than the balls anyway, they are the same. Hurray! Taking those nasty fish oil pills while I was pregnant is paying off!!

Finally “Da Da” is a great one too. (Hopefully no translation is needed.)

It’s a favorite because she is finally starting to ONLY use it when addressing Matt. For awhile, it was her only word, so everything was Da Da. Now, she likes to lay on Matt’s chest and poke him with a jabbing index finger (very similarly to the dog) saying, “Da Da.” Matt then responds with “Gracie” to her. The game is great. It can last quite a long time. And doesn’t involve my participation in the slightest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Q of P

Now that our family has rejoined the living, (yeah that’s right, both Matt and I came down with Gracie’s flu Thursday night) there is so much to do. So much time to be made up for.

When I feel overwhelmed with things that need to be done though, I turn into a slacker college student.

In college, I was the Queen of Procrastination. I always got things done. I usually got good grades. I graduated with a solid B average, which is more than good enough to propel me in my current career. Oh, I was a slacker though.

When finals or major papers/projects rolled around, I took naps. Usually right up to a day or two before. Then I blow everything off to slap something together or bribe someone else into helping me/doing it for me.

That is one reason why Matt and I became such fast friends in college. He was smart enough to craft papers on subjects that he knew nothing about, with only a few books, frozen pizza and a case of beer. The case of beer was the bribe payment. Back in those days a case of Miller Light was gold.

-Anyway-

The holidays are barreling towards me and I just want to take a nap.

I still have one more present to buy Matt, but I have no idea when I will find the time to do it in the next two days.

I have so much cleaning to do, but I have no idea how I will get it done before my brother arrives on Wednesday.

I have to go to the grocery store to finish buying everything I need for our Christmas meals, but I am too mentally tired to really think about what ingredients I need.

I just want to take a nap.

After Christmas, New Years will be here way too quickly along with another train of visitors.

That’s the thing about all this though.....

I welcome the New Year. I rejoice in the idea of family coming to visit. I am excited about the next barrage of parties and events.

But there is so much to do. I just want to take a nap.

I put these pressures on myself.

I am sane enough to realize that I have self-inflicted crazies. I am sane enough to realize that I cannot collect every loose dog hair in my house and that nobody expects Martha Stewart when they walk into our home. But I am crazy enough to inflict those standards on myself.

In the end though, I will fall back into my college ways and I will just take a nap or lay on the couch. I’ll shove all the dirt under the rug and buy pre-made frozen snacks. I know I will. That won’t stop me from obsessing about ways to not do that until the event has come and gone.

Maybe I should stock up on Miller Light. Naw, not anymore. A good Port might be my answer though.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Butterflies

I’ve always considered the flu to be a practical version of the butterfly effect. If you think about it, there are similarities.

Someone, WAY over THERE gets the bug from someone else even more WAY over THERE. A random dude doesn't wash their hands, the wind blows in a funny direction, a cricket chirps in a forest....

Then someone that is in my vicinity touches my door or sneezes or coughs or just breathes and there is the evil bug, just floating around.

So I walk through the cloud of ick and come into contact with the dreaded thing. Micro-particles just floating in seemingly harmless environments. And it sticks to me.

What do I then do? No amount of neurotic hand washing and sticking, burning sanitizer gel or even shots can save you if the F-L-U really wants to come in.

It came a knockin’.

Grace was sent home from daycare on Tuesday. I received two panicked phone calls in the span of 20 minutes. I guess you would be panicking too if you had to clean up the entire contents of a child’s stomach off the floor. Especially if it’s not your kid.

So we were banned. The rule is 3 runny poops or 2 yacks and your home for 24 hours.

I picked Gracie up mid-nap from daycare. She immediately fell asleep in the car. I woke her again to bring her inside the house when we got home and she immediately fell asleep in her bed again.

Hmmm. That’s not normal.

She took a conglomerate 4 hr nap. That is so not normal.

Two hours later she was ready for bed (an hour early) and preceded to sleep for 13 hours.

So, so, so not normal. Let’s call the Doc.

It’s confirmed. It’s the flu and only the flu, so your going to just have to wait it out. Umm, and as for your trip to Chicago Thursday morning, I wouldn’t plan on it. Not unless your all want to be miserable, infect everyone around you and pray that she doesn’t vomit or have explosive poop on the plane.

Good point Doc. Throw in the fact that my dad is immune depressed and Matt’s dad just got out of the hospital, let’s consider the visit cancelled.

Shortly after the doctor’s visit, we developed a one diaper an hour routine.

With another 13 hour bedtime, that was the making of quite the mess come morning. (1 diaper x 13 hours – actually changing the diaper in that 13 hours = EWW.) Throw in a little more yack just for good measure and that had been our last 3 days.

(I do have to admit though, I catagorized this as a milestone. Gracie's first flu. To celebrate lets all go wash our hands.)

How is your week going? Watch out for butterflies this time of year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Do Believe

My brother Jerry, the firefighter / paramedic, called me yesterday with an announcement. He saw a ghost.

Jerry said he was covering for another station, so he and his partner went go hang out while the other squad was gone. His partner wanted to stay in the ambulance to sleep, Jerry went in the building.

Most of the lights were off except for the truck bay and the ambient light in the kitchen where he was trolling for snacks. He said when he turned around there was a little girl, about 7 years old, standing in front of a big gumball machine in the kitchen. He didn’t think much of it because often times people do bring their kids to work and have them spend the night. He didn’t say anything to her and the girl turned and walked silently back into the bay moments later.

When the other squad returned a hour later, he informed them that someone’s kid had been up.

Nobody had any kids here, they said, the station is empty.

No really, Jerry responded, a little blonde girl wearing a dress. She was looking for candy. I figured it wasn’t my kid, and didn’t particularly care what she was eating at 1am, so I didn’t say anything.

That’s when they cracked smiles. Oh, you saw her! That’s our ghost.

Not funny, Jerry said. She was real. I saw her.

There is nobody here, they said. Go look in the bunks. Nobody is there.

Jerry went and looked. Nobody was there.

They told him they had responded to a call in the summer of 2007. The girl died on the scene and has been with the station since then.

I believe in ghosts. I believe in angles. I believe in good and evil. I believe. That is why I don’t watch scary movies. I believe.

Yesterday, as I sped through the woods on the way home from L’s birthday party, the dark, narrow, twisted road all of a sudden got REALLY dark.

Hmmm, I thought, maybe I should turn on my brights.

Just as I did I saw a large deer running down the steep embankment that counts as the roads edge.

The super-bright flash of my headlights startled the deer and stopped it dead in its tracks. I have no idea what would have happened to us if it hadn’t. There is no wiggle room on that road. There is no edge. There is no straight line. There is nowhere to go.

There was nowhere to go.

I drove the rest of the way home really, really slowly.

And thanked my guardian angels. I have two of them you know.

I do believe.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fine Arts

Gracie has developed another new skill. One that is very practical in my world.

The love on sauces and the ability to dip.

I made chicken the other day and overcooked it. Yeah, that happens every once in a while. So the savior of all dry chicken? BBQ sauce of course!

Gracie was fascinated. She kept pointing at the bottle and watching me dip my chicken. Hmmm... why not let her try some too.

At first, she just looked at it, so it dipped my finger and gave her a taste. Mmmmm. She then in turn dipped her finger, made one perfect index print on her cheek and then stuck it in her mouth. Mmmmm.

Then she screwed her face up and let out a shriek. OK, BBQ sauce (even though it was mild)probably wasn't the best choice to give to a 1 year old. She was thrilled with the experience though.

Next, she picked up a piece of chicken, and ever so delicately dipped the tip into the sauce. It looked like she was a painter about to put the first stoke onto her masterpiece. Mmmmm. And a shriek.

Again, she dipped the chicken into the BBQ sauce and put it into her mouth. Mmmmm. And a shriek. So I wiped away to sauce, which caused another round of shrieking, this time for a much less valid reason.

At dinner last night though I gave her some deconstructed chili: plain ground beef, kidney beans and a little glob of tomato sauce on her place to dip in. Mmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caught and Now Released

Well, it was a heralding 7 days.

It's been 7 days since we got phone calls saying PaPa was acting weird.

It's been 7 days since we got reports back from the neighbors saying he looked a little grey.

It's been 7 days since Matt called 911.

It's been 7 days since PaPa was coughing up blood in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and then immediately intubated and put into a drug induced coma.

It's been 6 days since we were told to expect him to be in the hospital for at least 2 weeks.

It's been 5 days since the doctors said he had a 60% chance of survival.

It's been 3 days since they removed all tubing and Matt found him sitting up in a chair and eating eggs and asking for pizza.

It's been 2 days since PaPa insisted that Matt bring his wallet to the hospital so he could do his Christmas shopping.

And today? Today he was set free. A mere 7 days.

This is a mysterious and wonderful world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doctor’s Orders

When we took Gracie to her 12 month doctor’s appointment, the pediatrician suggested that we buy a kiddie shopping cart to help encourage her to walk.

It’s amazing how quickly she will learn to balance on her own with one, she told us, and I find that girls especially like shopping carts. She’ll spend all day putting stuff in and taking it back out.


Sure thing Doc, we said. We’ll get on right away!

I did all sorts of research to measure their sturdiness, push-ability, fun colors, until I found the perfect cart. Then it went out of stock. Well, well just wait a little longer.

Well, Gracie turns 14 months on Friday, and guess what? Yeah, that’s right. No cart.

Until yesterday.

In an effort to be thrifty, I went to Babies R Us to buy baby wash and some miscellaneous bath toys with a gift card we received as a birthday gift for her. Stay on task, I kept telling myself. Stay on task. You don’t NEED anything else in this place.

Then I saw the checkout line. It looked a mile long and ended inches away from the modest toy section.

Well, maybe I’ll go look at the 1 year old section really quick. The line is super long anyway, I’ll might as well wait for it to go down a little.

So I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the toy section.

And there it was. No, not THE cart, but A cart and it was cheap. Cheap enough to be covered by the gift card anyway.

Within minutes of getting home yesterday it was snapped together and on the floor. Gracie went straight for it. For the first time ever, well since she’s been mobile, I was able to make dinner without someone clutching my pant leg and demanded to be picked up to see what I was doing.

Faux bottles of ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper and syrup?!? were clinked together with joy. Laps were made around our kitchen island in a half sprint. Falls were taken, carts were toppled, but the sheer joy of it made her jump right back up and start over again.

I can honestly say this was the best $22 I’ve spent in a long time. Guess I should recommit to following doctor’s orders when given, huh?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nighttiming

Things went downhill yesterday, just like the roll of stones or the flow of water. Except our version of water was slightly digested and smelled like feta cheese.

I 6:40 pm last night I set about our nighttime routine.

- 8 oz bottle √
- tomorrows clothes √
- jammies √
- bath water warming up √

Then my mom called. Grace wasn’t actually in the bath yet, so we ran to see who was calling. Sorry Grams. Not answering.

Gracie gets in the bath and starts that play routine.

Phone rings again. What the ????. Not answering. It is now 6:50. People know better.

We get out of the bath, get dressed and start the bottle. Lights are off. Sleep Sheep rain is pattering. Humidifier is blowing.

7:00 phone rings again. Son of a !!!!!. Gracie sucks down the last drop of her bottle and starts looking around.

We go downstairs to make another bottle. 6oz should be more than enough. And the message light is blinking on the phone.

Back upstairs we settle back in and Gracie starts working on bottle #2. At 7:10 the phone rings again. ####. Grace looks around for a second but is getting sleepy.

Two seconds later my cell phone starts to ring. The dog barks. Gracie sits up in my lap. #### #### ####!

She settles back down quickly, entire bottle gone, and I rock her to sleep.

I am amazed that she drank a new record amount of 14 oz in one sitting and am thinking about how I have to call Matt to announce this big news, once I yell at all the people who have been calling.

We get up and as I stand Gracie opens her eyes and smiles at me.

Then she gives me the look. Uh Oh.

BLAH…..

Yack. All over my neck, shirt, pants. We start to move towards the bathroom.

BLAH…..

Yack. All over the hall carpet. We take the final steps into the bathroom.

BLAH…..

Yack. All over the mirror and sink.

I sit her on the counter with her feet in the sink.

BLAH…..

Yack. All over her footie pajamas.

I strip off all our clothes and wipe down my shaking baby. I curse and kick at Lil’ Rick, who is in the process of eating the carpet yack.

Once in new jammies, Gracie fell asleep quickly. I on the other hand, had the joys of parenting to attend to.

And a lot of phone calls to return.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Single Parenting

Matt flew to Green Bay Saturday morning so first news from the Midwest:

1) Matt is charmed. We bought a 1st class ticket for the flight because it was only $15 more than a regular old chump ticket, and hey, if your going to pay that much money you might as well get some snacks. Well, Matt got a whole lot more than that.

Being the chatty, superstar, sports aficionado that he is, Matt had the good fortune of being seated next to a referee flying out to officiate the Green Bay v Houston game. Over the course of a few hours and a few drinks, they apparently become best friends and he’s offered network seats to the game. Which he of course has to turn down. So business cards are exchanged and now Matt has an in for free awesome tickets to games he wants to go to. PLUS he was served MIXED drinks BEFORE the plane even left the runway.

2) While again, not related to PaPa’s health, his brother Rob, bought a Lotto Scratcher ticket on a whim Friday. Won $10,000. No big deal.

3) PaPa is making improvements. As of this morning, they plan to try and take him off the ventilator. The latest chest X-Rays show the same amount of infection in his lungs, but the respiratory sounds are getting much clearer. The same X-Rays are also indicating that there may be some heart issues, but nothing that they are concerned about right now. The bad news is the doctors are saying that he will be lucky if he’s out in two weeks…. So if you do the math, he might be spending Christmas in the hospital.

On the upside, Matt & Jeanine raided PaPa’s house and cleared out the offending cigars. They were actually able to collect all unopened packages of Swisher’s and return them at the local grocery store. You’ve got to love small towns at times.

Given everything, Gracie and I had a fairly good weekend. Well, except for a few highlights:

1) Gracie is always on the move. I am getting to the point where if I know the baby gate is up on the stairs I just let her run loose and play. We are pretty much baby-proofed. Unless it gets quiet. If more than a minute goes by without noise I know she is into something she’s not supposed to be in.

Case in point, she had stood up and grabbed a glass ornament that I thought was out of reach on the tree. While the glass was still blessedly in tact, she was scraping the glitter swirls off the ornament with her teeth. Although I will admit, the glitter all over her face/mouth/tongue was pretty funny.

2) Saturday night my body decided to kick me one more time. Thankfully, my version of the flu only lasted a few hours, and they were nighttime hours.

I will always remember when I was checked into the hospital to be induced into labor with Grace, my OB asked me what I had eaten for dinner. “Oh I was good. I kept it light. I just had a salad for dinner!”

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, probably not the best choice. If you have a second kid remember this – Only eat things that you won’t mind seeing come back up. Oatmeal is my favorite. Let’s just hope you keep it all down through your labor.”

I always thought that was a crazy thing to say. As I was revisiting my healthy salad on Saturday night / Sunday morning those words kept echoing in my head.

3) Sunday morning we went to the mall to Christmas shop. The 20 minute nap she took on the way home completely destroyed her sleep schedule for that afternoon. Normally she sleeps from 11:30 – 2:00. Yesterday, it was 1:15 to 1:45. I apparently added insult to the injury of making her nap by having Tim & Jen over to watch the Bears game when she woke up. This lead to very cranky pants for the following 45 minutes.

Given everything though, I think my first weekend of single parenting went smoothly. At least there was no blood to accompany either of our tears.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Waiting

December is such a full month.

It is feeling so hectic and we are only on day 5 of 31. That makes me crazy.

This December is so full of the unknown too. That is making me insane. I am a control freak.

Matt’s dad (PaPa) is sick. Really sick. In the ICU on a ventilator kind of sick. Currenlty critical but stable kind of sick. And of course, there is nothing we can do.

It is a case of flu, turned pneumonia and then (according to the Doc's) ignored for quite awhile. The illness had completely encompassed his left lung and was starting to work on the right. Yeah, pneumonia is easily curable, but the resulting side effects aren’t always so easy.

Again though, there is nothing we can do but trust the doctors and let the medicine do its job.

And wait. And worry. And visit. And worry and wait some more.

The modern convenience of the internet and Dr. Google is exceptionally helpful … until it starts getting into the worst case scenarios of illness. Then it sucks.

Matt is flying out to Green Bay tomorrow to camp out at the hospital for a few days. Then we are both on our own to worry. It will be the worry of the disease and the worry of what is happening 800 miles away.

Is Matt eating?
Is Gracie sleeping well?
Is Matt sleeping at all?
Is Shan overwhelmed on her own?
How long will Matt be in Wisconsin?
How much money is Shan spending at the mall? :)

In 2004 my dad had a double organ transplant. I was back in Chicago for 2 months. While the situations aren’t quite the same, I know what Matt and his family is going through with this. It is scary.

It’s a lot of doctor’s telling you they are hopeful, but let’s wait and see. Just give the medicine some time to work.

You however, are sitting there in a tiny little anti-septic smelling room, listening to the pump of the ventilator and the beep of the heart monitors, waiting for the next doctor to come into your cube, watching nurses scurry around and minutes tick down on the clock.

I must relearn patience with this though. Squash the anxieties. Find the calm.

After all, PaPa is the patriarch of a very stubborn family.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

VaCa's

I finally finished my notes from our vacation. I had ... ahem ... lost my notebook for awhile. In my 'I don't feel so sick anymore' cleaning frenzy I found it buried in a pile of Food & Wine magazines.

So scroll down to the beginning of November and read away!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Running of the Reindeer

Well, my 1st 5K has come and gone. It was.... interesting. It was both better and worse than I ever imagined.

Better: I actually ran. The most I have ever run in my life. Granted it was downhill, but that was by Matt's instruction. "If you are tired, which you will be, run all the downhill, try on the flats and walk the uphill." Well, there was a lot more downhill than uphill. So I did OK.

Worse: My knees still hurt from running so much.

Better: We got a lot of random support from the reindeer antlers that Jen bought us to wear. Unexpected encouragement was great!

Worse: Because of all the extra attention, our picture was taken a million times. Who would have thought that I needed to be worried about what I looked like. Uncombed hair. Unflattering clothing. A jacket that adds about 30lbs to my midsection. Wonderful.

Better: We ran the 3.1 miles in 46 minutes and 22 seconds. No, 15 minute miles aren't the greatest time in the world, but I did it. I didn't quit.

Worse: I wanted to quit. About 3/4 of the way up the giant hill. My feet felt like cement blocks. I told Jen I felt like Frankenstein and that I was glad I didn't have my cell phone because I might call him to come get me. She in turn cheered me on, motivated me to keep moving and to jog again shortly after. For that I will love you forever Jen!

Better: I was a realist and signed up for the race as a walker. They did not list the walker times on the finisher list. However, the last runner came in at 45:15. In my mind this means that we were one of the first 'walkers' to come in. Hurray! We're number .... 50-ish??

The big question, will I do this again? I really don't know. I want to keep doing something, and while - NO JEN - I don't want to do a 5K with you every month, this does seem like a good way to stay active.

So there we are. To wog or not to wog.

Friday, November 28, 2008

O Christmas Tree

This season really is steeped in tradition for me. Neurotic traditions at times, but tradition.

For example, that I HAVE TO go cut down a REAL WHITE PINE tree the DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING. I have to. I think my head might explode if we don't.

So after pretending to work for 4 hours in an office with all of 5 out of 60 employees in attendance we went to get our tree. I will let the pictures tell the story....

Matt being manly with his dull saw and tree transporter.


......................Doesn't everyone leave their baby by the good trees in order to mark which one you wanted?........................

........................Helping Daddy cut the tree down!........................

...........................................Timber!...........................................

...........................The final result..................................

What these photos don't show is that I think we may have selected a tree that was in the front yard of the tree farm's owner's house. But hey, there was no sign saying they were off limits.

It also does not illustrate was the amount of time it took me to decide on this tree and the amount of times I made Matt walk up and down a rather steep hill to look at ones that were 5 feet taller than our ceiling.

Oh well. Come my little Evergreen friend and scent my home with your branches!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A slightly belated, but still very much heartfelt, Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends!

Yesterday was wonderful. So wonderful that it never even dawned on me to check my email, much less sit down and write this post!

I know I'm a little bit crazy, but I get buzzed off Thanksgiving. I love the cooking. I love the family togetherness, made even better by Matt's cousin Glen and his whole family sharing it with us. I love the decedent kick off to the holiday season.

I kept thinking about things that I'm grateful for yesterday, so here is my list:

~ I'm grateful that Gracie is a healthy, beautiful, good natured kid.
~ I'm grateful that Matt is great father, a wonderful husband and an absolute best friend.
~ I'm grateful that we have a warm home and food on the table.
~ I'm grateful that our home and our lives brim over with love for each other.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Please Approach the Elephant

Have you ever been to a Rainforest CafĂ©? (I know, stay with me here…)

It is overpriced, but extremely entertaining and monumentally kid friendly. As the name suggests, it is highly stylized in a rainforest theme. It is actually REALLY cool.

My favorite part of the experience though was always over before we were even seated. (OK, sure I loved the faux thunderstorms and random monkey noises too, but if I had to pick one it was this...)
The host stand was a giant elephant. Think Disney’s Dumbo ride (slighlty less cutsie) and that was the size of the thing. So when you were ready to be seated, the host would get on a microphone and call, “Will the X party please approach the elephant. Your adventure is ready to begin.” You would then follow the waitress along a path of painted footsteps, into the jungle that was the restaurant and order fancy sounding smoothies.

Having someone tell you to “Please approach the elephant,” was always so joyful. It was your turn. It was finally your turn!

Well, I do believe we are about to hear, “Please approach the elephant, your adventure is ready to begin,” from Gracie. She is standing, quite well, with no support these days.

At home she has been stretching the length of time she can stand without wobbling. It seems like just last week it was 5 seconds. Now is it up to 30 seconds. This morning I got a report at daycare that yesterday she stood on her own for about 3 minutes. Apparently, the only thing that caused the tumble was her excited clapping over the accomplishment.

Normally, the daycare people are really supportive about milestones. With this one though I have been warned there is trouble to come. One they can stand, walking will come very quickly, I am told.

“You’d better watch out. That Gracie, she will be into everything!” Thanks lady.

Another milestone is upon us.

I am excited about it. I love the excitement and twinkle in Grace’s eyes when she figures out new skills. And this is a big one. There should be fireworks!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wogging Hurts, Part II

I wogged again this morning.

It sucked much more than last week. In fact, it was the direct opposite of last week. I felt good about myself last week. Until the pain set in the next day, I wanted to do it again. I was optimistic.

This week... is a different story.

I know we jogged a lot more than last week. And it was colder. Much, much colder. Still, I don't understand the direct contrast. I wanted to yack at the end of this weeks wog. I wanted to lay down on the frosty grass and take a nap. I wanted to die.

Matt keeps telling me that running is never fun. He says that he's gotten to the point where he at time enjoys the solitude of it, but that he NEVER enjoys the act of running itself.

Why am I doing this? WHY AM I DOING THIS!!??

I don't think I have ever run a day in my life. Not even high school. Come to think of it, I wogged back then too. In the mandatory gym class laps, I would run the straight and walk the curve of the track. I never ran the whole thing. Ever.

I keep telling myself that the more I do it, the easier it will get. Wasn't it supposed to be easier today?

As I said last week, I will do the 5K on Saturday. I will jog at least part of it. I will relish the silliness of the reindeer antlers Jen bought us to wear. And I hope, I hope, I hope I get caught up in the pack driven mania of the race. I am praying for race version of 'hive mind' to help propel me forward to complete this thing with dignity.

Some joy would be nice too. Just saying.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Parenting Snapshot

There is a mom in Gracie’s daycare that drives me nuts.

When I volunteered to be a parent liaison for the daycare, I had no idea what I was volunteering for. Most of the time it is fine. It is kind of cool. We are notified of stuff before everyone else.

Sometimes it is a royal pain. Like when dealing with the complainers. We have become the vehicle of said complaints, because they just don’t want to forward them themselves. Every so often they are legit. Most of the time they are not.

My latest gripe was an email to forward onto the Director the week. The concerns were:
A) The children are not getting enough fresh air and said parents thinks all the kids (even infants) should be going outside until the weather is BELOW 35 degrees.
B) She is concerned with the amount of ‘scary videos’ being shown and wants to have pre-approval authority before exposing the children to new movies and learning video games.

I was annoyed with the thought of having to forward such ridiculousness. My counter part drafted a very nice disclaimer to the Director before emailing it. I on the other hand, wrote a saga of why this person is a whack job. It included a mini-diatribe about how we CHOOSE to work and we CHOSE this daycare, so shouldn’t we trust them enough to know what is and is not appropriate. Thankfully, I deleted it before it left my desktop.

Today though, I had to take a step back and re-evaluate.

Today was picture day. I was told pictures would start at 9 am, so at 8:45 I changed Gracie into her cute little dress. 9 am came and went with no picture lady.

At 9:10, the head teacher announced that it would still be a little bit and that dresses were not compatible with playing so Grace should put her shirt back on. I said, "Eh, she’s fine. We will just work on walking until the picture people show up."

The teacher apparently disagreed because she unbuttoned the back of her dress and had it off before I could blink.

I was so mad. In my head I screamed, "I’m her mother, not you! If I want her to suffer and crawl around in dresses everyday that is my option, not yours!”

In real life I said nothing. I didn’t want to get into a fight with the lady who takes care of her for 8 hours a day over something so simple. I do wish I had said something though.

I need to keep reminding myself that yes, while I need them, they need me too. Even though I am giving up 8 hours a day of hands on parenting for my career, I am still the parent. I am still the decision maker for Gracie, not the teacher.

From this, I now have a slightly new outlook on the crazy, overbearing parent. I still think she is wrong, but SHE thinks she is right. And that is what matters.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tis the Season

This will be Gracie's first real holiday season.

Sure, she was here last year, but she was still brand new and not very fun.

I recall screaming 10 minutes into the Thanksgiving meal I had spend hours preparing and days obsessing over. The complaint is only about the screaming though. I L-O-V-E the cooking and obsessing part of Thanksgiving.

I also recall the lump of 2 month old baby that didn't enjoy Christmas morning either. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say there was crying involved that morning too. Despite our efforts to crinkle paper, decorate her with bows and then drown out the cries with mimosas.

This year will be different though. In fact, it already is.

Much like retail stores, my satellite radio is moving up the start of Christmas too. Sure, they have a million stations so it makes absolute sense, but I will still surprised when an alert came up that my favorite Christmas song was playing somewhere in the box. The music, much like the decorations are supposed to start the day after Thanksgiving. Not weeks before.

Anyway ...

This has turned out to be a wonderful thing for me. Why? Grace seems to L-O-V-E Christmas music. You know, jingle bells and all make for great head bobbing. So far, Sleigh Ride is her favorite. Lots and lots of bells.

So this year's holiday season is filled with hope.

Thanksgiving will be served during the happiest part of the day, 3 pm-ish(right after her nap). I know she is a fan of yams, so they will only be better with butter and brown sugar. Cranberries will be a hit with their sweet squishability. Turkey will be tasted and shared with the dog.

It's a win-win for everyone. She will be happy, Lil' Rick will be happy, I will be happy and (most importantly) there WILL BE NO CRYING.

Here me kid?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturn #1

Upon our return from the Bahamas, we decided a little bit of financial re-assessment was in order. You know, a few hundred dollars in Pina Coladas will do that to you.

Over the last … oh, it’s only been a week and a half … it feels like a lot longer than that … we have been on a budget. No lunches out. No buying lunch at work because the kind of soup they have is tastier than the one I packed for myself. No trips to Target for stuff I really don’t need. No more fun at all.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. We are secure. Matt and I both have jobs that aren’t going anywhere in this scary economy. We aren’t saving because we HAVE to, we are saving because (on some level- more waited towards Matt’s side than mine) we WANT to. Well, we want to reduce the debt from all our spendy ways anyhow.

This morning was the 1st really cold wake-up of the season for us. Full frost everywhere. Heat on level 2 in the car.

Well, my car anyway. Matt’s umm … didn’t start.

He usually leaves a few minutes before me in the morning, so I was surprised to hear the front door unlock and open when we were putting on coats.

Me: Hey! What did you forget?
Matt: Nothing. Car won’t start.
Me: Uh Oh. Well, first cold snap and all. Want a jump?
Matt: Nope. Has full power, just won’t start.
Me: OK. What does that mean?
Matt: Means I’m not going to work and will start trying to figure out what’s wrong when the sun comes up.

So now the sun has come and the car still won’t start. While I know Matt doesn’t exactly enjoy driving the no-frills-oh-crap-both-our-cars-died-within-two-weeks-of-each-other Saturn, we both enjoy the fact that we own it without any payments.

Hope this doesn’t mean we have something new to be saving for.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wogging Hurts

Sometime ago Matt tricked me into signing up for a 5K.

Yeah, you heard me. He tricked me and that is the story I’m sticking with.

It was surrounded by all this discussion about how I really want to / need to shed a few pounds and I can’t seem to drastically alter my eating / drinking habits, so exercise is in order.

Well, that was quite a few moons ago and I have been ignoring this looming 3.1 mile walk / wog / jog. Definitely not a run.

Anyhow, my only goal with this is to do it. To finish. Frankly, I really don’t care if I walk the entire thing. A little jogging would be nice though.

So yesterday, Jen and I went for a 2.8 mile wog around the lake. I think it went well. I did a lot better than I thought I would, and actually could have pushed harder if we hadn’t gotten so chatty on the back side of the lake.

What’s my complaint then?

I felt like SheRa yesterday and now I feel like hamburger today.

I had no idea how sore muscles I didn’t even know existed could get. We will do it again next weekend and hopefully I will get my butt on our elliptical machine this week to help combat my body’s rejection of exercise.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can You Smell the Coconut?

Vacation.

It has come and gone and I haven't posted anything for a week and a half now. Recouping in hard work

Surprisingly, the 180 hours I was lamenting being away from the computer went very quickly. In fact, there was free internet access. I just choose not to use it. I was on vacation. I was with my family. I wondered what the Internets were doing, but had enough strength to abstain. I was quite proud of that fact.

We had a fantastic time in the Bahamas. Warm, humid, sunny, breezy 80 degree days. Sheer perfection. I made it a point to keep notes while I was away so I wouldn't forget the best moments of our first family vacation together.

In an effort to get the entries out, I am going to back date them to the actual days so I can post when I have time. So scroll back to November 2-8.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

VaCa - Day 8

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9

Home again, home again, jiggity, jig.

The trip is over. Despite having an hour delay at the airport and then a fully booked flight so we had to hold Gracie for the 2.5 hours home, everything went very well. Grace decided to break tradition and only slept for a half hour, but was still well behaved and happy.

Which made us very happy.

And in true Matt fashion, within one week of our return home, he is planning our next family adventure…..

Saturday, November 8, 2008

VaCa - Day 7

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Clouds rolled in on Saturday which made water activity a little bit chilly.

Matt and I had decided that we would go to the lazy river with Grace and take turns doing loops around. I went first, then Matt. In an attempt to warm Gracie up while Matt was away I laid in a deck chair with her on my chest and towels over us for heat. She promptly fell asleep.

Matt went around the river a few times and then brought me a Pina Colada for my motherly efforts. Just for the records, they are quite difficult to drink while lying prone with an infant on your chest, but I was determined and persevered.

Throw in some souvenir shopping and a quick trip to buy some beautiful steaks for our last meal and that was Saturday.

So let me back track and tell the story of …. THE FLAMING COFFEE!

Matt does obscene amounts of research before we go on trips. He is more than a little bit neurotic, but it works out well in the end for me, so I try not to complain too much.

One of the places he read about was the Columbus Tavern.

Under more fruitful economic times, they used to offer a full buffet of free appetizers during happy hour, which is defiantly a draw. Well, those times have passed my friend. At 5pm we were the only folks anywhere near the place. It was ok though because the elevated outdoor restaurant offered a beautiful sunset and still made their Flaming Coffee (a specialty that isn't even on the menu).

What is a flaming coffee you might ask?

Well, picture a daiquiri glass with 1/3 light rum, 1/3 dark rum, 1/3 banana rum & a dash of coffee. Potent stuff.

Where does the flame come in?

Once the rums (and by 1/3, I meant 1/3 of the glass!) are in, the glass is held over a flame until the liquor light on fire. Then it is poured between two glasses in a dare-devil of a show.

None of the workers had ANY arm or knuckle hair.

Matt was quite impressed with the show and the resulting drink.

On the way home, we walked by the One & Only Ocean Club's (you know, where they filmed the James Bond 'Casino Royal' movie) Versailles Garden, which is truly spectacular.
Ah, to be rich and able to afford to actually stay there ….

Friday, November 7, 2008

VaCa - Day 6

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7

Today was a wonderfully lazy day.



Gracie got her first taste of the ocean. Not so much a fan of the water, but the sand is another story all together. Apparently, it is delicious.



Another highlight was her taste for sunscreen too. While I was applying a fresh coat to her pinking cheeks, I put a dab on the tip of my finger. Matt called my name and I turned to look at him.

BLOOP. Gone.

Gracie at the sunscreen right off the tip of my finger like it was a dollop of whipped cream. Then she called for seconds.

The day was spent napping on the beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore and watching para-sailors pass by.

Told you it was lazy. It figures that we are figuring out this whole 'relaxing' portion of the vacation as it is coming to an end.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

VaCa - Day 5

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6

The head cold that hand been brewing all week, plus Wednesdays adventures, got the best of me on Thursday.

Matt, Tim, Jen and Grace went on a historical walking tour of Nassau. Even if I wasn't exhausted from the combo of the night before and the cold, I still wouldn't have wanted to go. Except maybe to go to Conch Fritter and to see this sign in person. On the way back to the airport on Sunday though, the Cabbie pointed it out as a Nassau landmark.


When they got back, I tool Grace for a walk to the local dry good grocery store. We needed to restock on the necessities. You know, milk, Diet Coke and cheese. We still had a steady supply of booze. Guess how much the above cost? $18.00. Crazy huh?

That evening, Matt walked across the Paradise Island bridge to gather some fresh seafood at the fish market for dinner.

"The Market" consisted of a bunch of guys sitting on fishing boats drinking beer and trying to sell off what the caught that day. Plus a few stalls of ladies selling produce too. Nothing was purchased from these folks though because everything was tropical (translate to foreign) and therefore unidentifiable to the man who only knolls potatoes, green beans, carrots, peas and corn and veggies. And the 'p' word will not pass his lips.

Matt did however locate the lobster man after trolling the market for awhile and gathering the courage to ask a non-threatening looking produce lady where he could find some lobsters. Then skill took over.

Matt snagged 3 large Caribbean lobsters, straight out of the ocean, for $35, down from an original quote of $50. In a restaurant we would have been lucky to be charged $50 a piece for these things. Heck, I would have been willing to pay the guy $50 just to dispatch them before sale was final. Luckily, that service was included.

And as these things go, one cannot devour food with a face still attached before naming them prior to consumption.


Tim's was Pinchy (despite having no claws). Mine was Yummy. Matt loudly proclaimed his, via much wine, as Future Poo. Made for wonder dinner conversation.

They were indeed scrumptious though.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

VaCa - Day 4

WENDESDAY, NOVEMBER 5

OK, so the next few entries are going to focus on food. The wonderful, decedent, extraordinary food we ate. For 3 nights in a row. Mmmmmm…..

Wednesday night was the one time we all went out together.

We had an Atlantis sanctioned babysitter come and watch Grace while we all went to The Bahamian Club.

Over the phone I was insured that they all had through background checks done, knew CPR (I don’t even know CPR), were great people in general, blah, blah, blah. Whatever, I was nervous, but really wanted to go out. The plan was to have Grace asleep when the woman got there and hopefully keep her that way until we returned.

So the nice lady from parts unknown arrived, 15 minutes early, and we thanked her, signed the paperwork absolving the responsible parties for anything bad that might happen and ran out the door.

Matt had been plotting this dinner for weeks.

His order was already predetermined. He and Tim were going to share the Mixed Grill for Two. (Hee, hee, hee, hee) There were many comments about whether they would intertwine their arms while drinking champagne. All (well most) were ignored under the promise of a kings share of food where isn’t practical to order if only one person wanted it, as it probably would have been enough to feed all four of us, much less two.

So what is the Mixed Grill for Two? Well….

House Specialties - For Two Tableside
Mixed Grill $105
Double lamb chops, tenderloin of beef, homemade sausage, lobster tail, pork escalope, bacon,
Served With Roasted red skinned potatoes, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, glazed shallots, crispy onions, grilled tomatoes and roasted garlic

I totally just tried Googling for a picture of this, but alas, I couldn’t find one. Part of me is disappointed not to be able to full visualize the gluttony, but the other part is glad that no one is tacky enough to bring a camera into this gorgeous restaurant and start snapping pictures to put up.

Anyway, after the two hour carnivorous feast, we went to the casino and then back to the condo. The sitter said everything was fine. Grace did wake up at one point, but she was able to calm her down and put her back to sleep.

What we didn’t realize is that when Grace woke up, the sitter must have been wanting to earn her pay and changed her diaper. (That couldn’t have gone well because she doesn’t even like it when I change her diaper now-a-days.)

The bad part of all this? The woman put a SWIM DIAPER on her. BACKWARDS.

So when Gracie woke up at midnight (and then 1.5 hours after that to make sure we hadn’t abandoned her again) she was SOAKED with pee. Her outfit, her sheets, everything. Drenched.

And I had drank a big-ole martini pre-dinner and then a ½ bottle of wine with dinner, on top of a head cold starting to ravage my brain.

Ugg.

Note to self: If we EVER do that again, point out the difference in diapers before leaving for the night.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VaCa - Day 3

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4

Tuesday was low key. I hardly remember what we did, therefore it was a great day.

It was Election Day, therefore it was a great day. We cast our ballots via absentee vote two weeks early, so our consciouses were clear.

And Nassau kind of is a Miami Jr. It is mainly Americans at the resorts, Miami TV stations and Obama ’08 campaign signs scattered throughout the streets. It was impossible to sit at a restaurant without being quizzed by locals about out thoughts on the election.

Normally, in the US, I would have been irritated about it. In the Bahamas though, it was refreshing. It wasn’t prying. It wasn’t judgmental. It was hopeful. It was optimistic. It was wonderful.

So the four of us sat, just as we would have back home, flipping between CNN and MSNBC. Yeah, I know, I hate MSNBC too, but it was all we had. And quite funny at times.

Oh, but what did we actually do on Tuesday? Like I said a whole lot of nothing. We sat by the pool. We drank $10 frozen drinks with obscene amounts of rum in them. We turned Gracie blue.

You caught that last one, huh?

So under the header of slight neglect again, I’ve come to the grateful realization that Grace doesn’t have any surfaced allergies yet and isn’t sensitive to detergents. So we’ve made the switch back to my Tide with fabric softener built in. I’ve also stopped washing clothes before she wears them the first time. I figure, I don’t do that for myself, and she doesn’t break out in a rash, so why bother?

Not turning the baby blue is why I should bother.

We received a pretty dress that my friend bought us in Africa. I thought would be a perfect swimsuit cover-up for Grace when we were at the pools. It was a long, vibrant teal dress with a black floral print.

That first wearing of the dress didn’t go so well. In preparation for the walk back to our condo, I threw the dress over Grace’s wet suit, handed her to Jen for a few minutes and loaded her into the stroller. On the way back, Jen noticed her hands were blue. Odd. She must have touched something that had just been painted and was still wet.

Then we got back to the condo.

As I stripped Grace’s dress off, mystery solved. The teal was bleeding all over the stoller, her white suit and dying her skin.

I immediately threw the dress and suit in the washing machine, figuring at least it would come out a uniform blue. In the end the suit did turn back to white (thank you cheap Walmart fabrics!) and the dress came out with ½ the color intensity.

Yeah, the baby did stay Smurf-like for a day or two, but it was worth it for the giggle factor. And did I learn a lesson? Hell no. Things would've had to end a lot worse than that to get me to start doing extra loads of laundry. Maybe I will start washing foreign imports before putting them 0n her though.

Monday, November 3, 2008

VaCa - Day 2

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3

Monday morning came and Grace woke without any visible damage from the night before.

The highlight of the day though belongs to Jen and her casino adventure. (Tim & Jen are the suckers, I mean dear friends, that went with us to Atlantis.)

Tim & Jen are...... not gamblers. Jen had never played a slot machine in her 27 years of life before, much less been in a casino. (The mere thought of this is unheard of in our families. Hell, we took my bother to Vegas at 16. He totally got busted by security due to his mid-90's teenage haircut and guilty, nervous look on his face, but that is a whole other story.)

So Monday night, Matt, Tim & Jen went to the gorgeous casino at Atlantis. Matt played blackjack and Jen played penny slots. I have no idea what Tim was doing other than hovering and trying to score free drinks. :)

Jen found a promising slot machine and sat down. She loaded her dollar in and started hitting buttons.

*Whirl* *Whirl* *Whirl* *Braloop*

Nothing.

She had apparently played all 100 credits, so she loaded another dollar and hit buttons again.

*Whirl* *Whirl* *Whirl* *Braloop*

*Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding* *Ding*

This went on for over 15 minutes.

Jen won $1000 playing penny slots on only the 2nd roll she'd ever taken.


Drinks on Jen and dolphin rides for everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

VaCa - Day 1

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2

Our 1st day was beautiful. As always, Grace traveled well, falling asleep during take off and waking to the ding of the landing. She was pure sunshine the entire day.

Then came the bath.

The tub in our room wasn't practical for leaning and scrubbing, so we went with the bathroom sink. It wasn't very practical either. A little too small and deeply curved. Not good for sitting a child in while bathing at all, but I figured we would be quick and the bath would be over in minutes.

Everything depended on the precarious relationship between the friction of a dry baby butt on the porcelain curve of the sink.

It gave way midway through the shampoo. I can still see the moment in slow motion.

The stick failed and Gracie rushed down the side of the sink like a fantastic ride. I think she actually was having fun in that split second before - WHACK- the crack of the back of her scull on the edge of the sink.

I grabbed her and held my breath. 1. 2. 3…..

And then she let out the most blood curdling scream. It only lasted a few minutes though. No actual blood, no lumps, no bruising. Just bad judgment and slight neglect on my part.

Shit happens and babies bounce. Thankfully that was the only bounce of the trip.

T Minus a Few Hours

Wow. I'm looking at 7 days / 180 hours of internet free life. I mock Matt for his inability to go 24 hours without playing video games or sudoku. I guess I am just as bad because I think that is part of my nervous twitch right now.

We are packed. We are ready. The only things not in bags is my makeup, which of course I need at 4 am tomorrow morning, and various baby related items. I have been forbidden from adding a single shirt more to my suitcase. Hmm. That one may be hard to follow.

I will miss you. My family, my friends - which frankly, are one in the same.

No worries though. I will keep notes in the pilfered, have-used memo pad I stole from work. I guarantee you, there will be stories.

Until then ....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

Yesterday marked Gracie's 1st official Halloween. Yeah, she was here last year, but only a few weeks old and still in her newborn basket case phase.

In our annual tradition of carving pumpkins, she felt the gush of pumpkin guts in her hands. And tasted a few seeds. Which were promptly spit back out and replaced with a fresh one.

At school, she was a begrudged (a good part of it was spent trying to buck out of the stroller) part of the Harvest Day parade through the building. Spectators came. Snacks were handed out. She scored a baggie of Cheese-its and a Rice Krispie treat. She had the crackers, I inspected the Krispie. I did give her a few pieces though.

Later in the afternoon she got to frolic in the daycare pumpkin patch and eat hay with her best friend in the warm sunshine of an unseasonable 70 degree October day. Life doesn't get much better than that.
At home, we made the obligatory round of trick-or-treating to the neighbors on each side of us. Each squealed with delight and took pictures. Did I mention that the fact that Grace was in her leopard costume and I was dressed in a Geisha gown was completely overshadowed by Matt as Elvis?
This costume has a back story. Matt's Dad is a HUGE Elvis fan. Most of Matt's earliest memories of car rides and 8-track tapes revolve around Elvis. 3 years ago, for his 60th birthday party we had a loose Elvis theme. As a surprise, we decided it would be hysterical to have Matt dress as Elvis and come out to serenade his Dad.

Apparently, during the show, his Dad leaned over and told someone, "Man, I hope the kids didn't spend a lot of money on this guy. He is terrible!" I will admit, there was some mechanical malfunctions with the music (my fault), so Matt had to sing on his own, but it wasn't that bad! :)

Anyway, I put Gracie down to sleep and Matt stayed outside to pass out candy to the hordes in our neighborhood. During the 1/2 hour I was gone he created a buzz. Kids specifically were coming to our house. Matt was completely in character and serenaded.

I love Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Na Na Na

I am not looking forward to the days of children’s music. You know, The Wheels on the Bus, If Your Happy and You Know It and songs sung in Chipmunk voices. EVERYONE I know that has kids has those damn CD's in their car. EVERYONE.

I know it will be my time soon too, but for now, we flip through adult channels. I lean towards the Alt. Rock, while Gracie is more of a Top 40’s girl.

Her favorite song right now? Pink, So What.

Go figure.

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na Na Na

I guess I just lost my husband
I don't know where he went
So I'm gonna drink my money
I'm not gonna pay his rent (Nope)
I got a brand new attitude
And I'm gonna wear it tonight
I wanna get in trouble
I wanna start a fight

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na
I wanna start a fight
Na Na Na Na Na Na Na
I wanna start a fight

So so what?
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you …..

That’s all of the lyrics that I copied because the head bob stops after the And I don’t need you line. I'm thinking when she realizes the initial NaNaNa's are over she looses interest until they start again.

It’s the strangest thing.

Although it's not much stranger than these being the lyrics of the favorite song of a 12 month old kid either.

Whatever. The reaction is so funny I don’t even care.

It is like she turns into her own little 80’s hair band with the head bob. Sure, she likes other songs too, but it’s just not the same.

She bobs and I giggle. All while trying to pay attention to those weaving around me, out of the corner of my eye, so I can watch her in the rear view mirror.

Well, I guess I have already been warned that Gracie is a fighter

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, I wanna start a fight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blog Hijacking

I am so not cool enough to have a guest poster, but I do have a post to put up written by Matt. Who is family not guest, so the concept of the guest post really doesn't apply here.

Anyway, folks keep asking about the marathon. (Apparently my account just insn't through enough.) Matt wrote this lengthy description of the event to a friend (minus all the embarrassing, insanely sweet and truly appreciated stuff about me at the end) to a good friend, and I thought why not just post this. So here is the description of running the Marine Corps Marathon from the guy who actually did it .........

Well, here's how it went:

I wanted to finish under 5 hours, and for the first 13 miles I was right on track to do that. There are a bunch of hills in the first 8 miles, so to be on pace I thought I had a good shot. It was a PERFECT day for running, about 50 degrees at the start and only got up to 65 or so, with a nice breeze.

Coming down Spout Run towards the Key Bridge was really pretty, and then looking across to Georgetown all covered in fog was awesome.

Sadly, mile 13 is out on Haines Point, a real desolate part of the course, and the wheels started to fall off. For the next six miles or so I was doing 25% walking and 75% running, and my sub-5 hour finish went out the window. I didn't get really discouraged, and the crowds on the Mall really helped me along.

BUT...I did accomplish one goal. I knew that a local runners group had a beer table for runners at around mile 23. Since I knew my finish time goal was shot, I grabbed a beer, there's even a picture of me with the beer cup in the online photos.

I thought my knee was going to let go at mile 24, but the pain went away and I was able to run the rest of the way in. The last hill up to the Iwo Jima Memorial sucked, but at least you could see the finish line going up it.

So how did it feel? It hurt. It hurt like a sonofa*****.

Sunday afternoon I was just achy, but I couldn't sleep that night because I wasn't comfortable in any sleeping position. Monday I tried going into work, but left at noon to come home and be one with the couch. I felt quite a bit better Tuesday, just have some dull aches today, and will probably be fine tomorrow.

More important than anything I may have accomplished on Sunday, is what Shan has gone through in the last year and a half of my new found “athleticism”. For the 5 hours, 17 minutes, and 52 seconds I was running on Sunday, I had multiple water stations, food stations, cheering crowds, and Marines basically telling me to HTFU (triathlete acronym for Harden the F*** Up, meaning suck it up and keep going). In the days since I have had many people tell me how great it is that I finished.

Shan spent those 5 hours, 17 minutes, and 52 seconds, and the rest of that day, and most of the day before, alone with our wonderful, but time consuming, daughter. She had no course support. She had no cheering crowds. She had no Marines telling her to HTFU. She did not have people telling her that she did a great job on Sunday.

Thanks baby, for everything you do, on Sunday and on every day we have known each other. You do a great job every day raising our daughter. Now HTFU and get packed for the Bahamas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do You Really Want to Know?

During the course of my work day, someone will inevitably ask how my evening was.

Do I tell the truth? Do they REALLY want to know?

Do I say, “Crappy. We were sitting at the kitchen table, eating fantastic homemade butternut squash chowder and French bread, when Gracie projectile vomited on me. It was great. I could identify the bits of fruit she ate for lunch. I think she needs to learn how to chew better.”?

Or do I say, “It was fine, how was yours?”?

I know the answer is number two, but still, the memory is still to fresh. The smell of puke is still in my nostrils. I even re-ran the washing machine this morning because I swear I could still smell the funk in the machine.

The one good thing about it was during my scrubbing of the tile on our floor, I realized how dirty it is. The cleaning lady HAS NOT been doing her job. Which means that it will soon become my job again.

OK, maybe that wasn't a good discovery. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. Especially when it means I don't have to vacuum or dust.

At least we will be spending $100 less a month.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So Many Firsts....

This weekend was the weekend of firsts.

Matt completed his first marathon.

He did great and we are so proud. I tracked him like a little rabbit via text message and a little blinking dot that showed me where he was on the course.

Unfortunately, the technology was about 15 minutes behind his actual pace. When he shot me a text saying he was OK during the run, I thought I would encourage him with stats.

Doing great! 11 min miles. Will finish 4hrs 50 min.

Apparently, giving specifics and stats will be added to the things not to say.

I guess during that 15 minutes of delay, he hit his wall, which slowed him to 12 minute miles and gave a final finish time of 5 hrs 17 min 51 sec. Yeah, that’s how specific these things are. He knew he wouldn’t make his under 5 hour goal and was sad.
He did however live out a dream with photographic evidence. He chugged a beer during a marathon. There is a known group of guys with a big keg that hand out beers around mile 22.
Matt partook.
And grabbed a big handful of Goldfish crackers too.

NOTE TO SELF: Stop thinking and just say "I love you!" from now on.

Another first was Gracie’s disappearing act.

Things were quiet for more than 2 minutes so I started to get nervous. I started frantically searching the house and couldn’t find her. When I called her name I heard a jingle.

Up above me.

It was my little mountain climber with her face between the rails looking down from the 2nd floor. I had forgotten to put the baby gate up at the base of the stairs and she went on the Mt. Everest expedition all by herself. All 13 stairs in less than a minute.

NOTE TO SELF: Make sure you put the baby gate up religiously now.

We also made the full switch to whole milk this weekend.
Gracie has been going hot and cold with the idea. So I gave her some juice and put her on the kitchen floor to play while I wrote thank you cards.

Then I heard splashing. My dear daughter had her entire face planted in the dog’s water bowl, slurping away. With her juice cup right next to her.

So gross, so gross. How do you get dog germs out of the inside of a baby’s mouth? You don’t. I tried.

NOTE TO SELF: Always pick the water bowl up off the ground while she is awake. Sorry Rick.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Miss Idependent. Almost.

The steps are here and independent walking is just around the corner.

Grace has always been impatient. She is a wonderful, smiling baby 95% of the time. That other 5% though you’d better watch out! That little snippet of evil has been rearing its ugly head lately.

Because she wants to walk.

She is fighting to dance and twirl, run and jump, well ... maybe just toddle and crash for right now, but she is fighting to do it all on her own. And she is so, so, so close.

It is the exact same "Why are you screaming for no reason?" response we got when she was learning how to crawl. One minute she is fine, then next she is screaming like her hair is being plucked out. Only now it is for walking.

I’m sure, if she would try, she could stand alone at the point. She will not try though. Gracie is completely engaged with the exercise of actually taking steps and walking now too. She is the one holding onto me now, not the other way around. Yesterday we made 3 laps around the den and countless laps at daycare.

The purchase of her first shoes has come just in time. Cute, aren’t they? ------>>

This development may have begun just in time for a full blown toddler in the Bahamas too. 1.5 more weeks kid!

While I have repeatedly lamented the transition from babyhood to toddlerdom. Now that the toddling is actually here though, I am excited. I am embracing it.

I think we are even ready for it.

Maybe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet Sleep

I’m a sleeper. I’ve always been a sleeper. 8 hours is OK. 10 is perfect. Anything less than 8 and I am a semi-zombie.

I’m lucky to get 6 now-a-days. I’m even luckier if the 6 are uninterrupted. That was not the case last night.

Gracie goes through phases where she wakes up for 2-4 nights in a row and will not go back to sleep for at least an hour. We are at the start of another stretch of this and I am so tired.

Combine this with the fact that I started a mind-numbingly boring rotation in another office at work today and you might have some idea of how my frontal lobe feels right now. Like mush.

Must stay awake. Must stay awake.

I sit in an office that is deathly quite, except for the sound of air vents blowing, lights humming and a desk top water fountain. The environment is quite conducive to sleep. However sleep at work, while trying to make good impressions in another office, is my nemesis right now.

Must stay awake. Must stay awake.

Then I am informed that I will be responding to customer correspondence, but they have already been addressed months ago. Great. So my task really isn’t even a task. It is just busy work with nobody really even caring about what I say in my fake letter to nobody.

Must stay awake. Must stay awake.

I am also really regretting my decision to only drink water this past weekend. I am now going on 60 hours without ANY form of caffeine coursing through my blood stream. During a break I dug the exact amount of change needed for a Diet Coke and the pop machine eats a quarter. So now I have no pop-less for another hour. I hate you Diet Coke machine!!

Must stay awake. Must stay awake.

Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize. This is your marathon. Upon its completion you will get sun, surf a baby that is so warn out from the sun and surf that she will sleep 10 solid hours every night. Right?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Farewell

Tomorrow we are attending a wake. No, there is no booze, although Sally would have loved there to be champagne served. A funeral. No, she is already long buried. A memorial I supposes then. Yeah, memorial sounds like the right word.

And I’m not so sure I want to go.

Sally wasn’t family, but she treated me like a daughter during the 7 years I knew her. She was overbearing and way to opinionated at times, just like a mother, but I loved her. She was what I needed in my life when I moved 700 miles away from my own mother.

Sally was fascinating. A small town farm girl who received cows as gifts turned flight attendant, White House diarist, fundraiser and Archivist. Who would have thought?

Sally had impeccable style and grace. I think I knew something was wrong before she told me. Less than a year into our friendship she told me about her breast cancer diagnosis. I watched her go through chemo. I knew she was losing her hair. She wore her radiation pinpoint tattoos on her breast like a badge of honor. Something she didn’t want to forget about. Something she was going to beat.

And she did. A few times.

But I guess at some point the body just gives out.

Sally retired about two years ago. We traded emails every month or so during that time. July was the last time I heard from her. I think I knew something was wrong. I asked her, but she never responded. I wish I had kept those emails. Not that they would make one lick of difference, but just to read one more time.

So why don’t I want to go? The same reason why nobody wants to go to a loved one’s funeral. I want to remember her as she was.

She was a bright, bubbly adventurer. She was fierce when needed and kind all the rest. She would regale me with stories from her Nixon days, and every so often point out exits like a flight attendant. She beamed when she talked about Paris and Wein, Austria. She would light up when she talked about Richard, her husband. I think she did the same when she talked to me.

She was a good friend to me and I didn’t need to read an obituary to know any of these facts about her. I know many, many more. Goodbye Sally K., will forever stay in my heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Script

After reading my last anti-not-sitting-on-the-couch-and-drinking-beer blog entry, Matt had some comments.

Things I'm NOT allowed to yell at Matt when he runs buy during the Marine Corp Marathon include:
1. Run, fat boy, run.
2. Man you are really taking a long time.
3. I didn't think you'd be this slow.
4. At this rate you are not going to make your 5 hour goal time.
5. Hurry up, I have to pee.
6. You look like crap.
7. You have a little wiener. ??? I think he just threw that one in to make sure I was listening.

After going through this list he started to offer suggestions at thing to yell:
1. You look like a Greek god.
2. Your doing wonderful honey, just minutes behind the leaders.
3. Wow, your going REALLY fast!
4. Your almost done. He said to tell him this even if it's not true.

These "suggestions" come with a back story. The Chicago Triathlon offered a text alert service. When he passed through a checkpoint, I was to get an alert with his times. Although I know it is hard to believe, I am not always the sharpest tack. I hadn't realized that the times I received were cumulative (swim and bike added together). So when I received his time after finishing the bike route I was shocked.

Wow. That took him a really long time.

Which is what came out of my mouth when he ran by.

Are you OK? You took a really long time on the bike!

Dumb? Yeah. Malicious? Absolutely not. Time goes by really slowly when you are sitting on the ground with a fidgety baby.

Hence my list of things NOT to say.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Marathon. Ugg.

Now that Gracie’s birthday is over, there is only one more event that stands in the way of my Bahamas vacation. My Atlantis vacation.

What is it?

Marathon.

The Marine Corps Marathon. 26.2 miles of running /jogging/ walking. FIVE hours of running/ jogging/ walking. Hopefully weighted to the front of the list, because then it will be over faster.

Hell no, I’m not running a marathon. Matt is.

I’ve told you about his love of triathlon. Well, apparently, this is the next step in his master plan. His end goal is to do an Ironman. Not THE Ironman in Hawaii, but the distance. A 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2 mile marathon run.

Yeah, I know. Crazy.

So in preparation for this, he is running this 1st marathon.

I’m trying to be supportive. I really am. I know blurting out the he’s an asshole for running on a hilly highway, in pouring Hurricane Kyle rain, isn’t exactly supportive.

But what can I say? It just slipped out.

He did seem to be in good company though, as there was about 25 other assholes, I mean runners, out there that day too when I drove the route to check on him.

So we are 1.5 weeks away from the marathon and 2.5 weeks away from vacation.

Ahh… steel drums. Warm salty breezes. Super-boozey Pina Coladas. You will make it all worth while.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Babyhood to Toddlerdom

The Milestone has come and gone. One year. One year of life on Earth. One year of being a parent. One year of keeping her safe. One year of poopy diapers and sleepless nights.

And I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

How do we mark this milestone transition of Babyhood to Toddlerdom?

With cake of course!

It was a splendid party, teeming with family, friends that might as well be family and indispensable neighbors. The circles blended seamlessly together, but is it hard not to with a yard full of children whacking each other with Lightsabers and pool noodles.

In fact, if any of you actually took photos of the backyard shenanigans, please pass them along!

Presents were opened with a gusto only brought to the table by four children under the age of 4, all helping to tear away the fantastically crunchy paper and tissue of lovingly wrapped treasures.



Cake was shared, eaten and smashed (not necessarily in that order) by all. There is nothing quite so gratifying as hearing the unintentionally uttered yums, while your of a labor of love is devoured.
After the party was over, family stayed to exemplify the word. Under my sister-in-law Jeanine's instruction, project Let's Assemble Toys was implemented. Oh, and was I grateful. The box of 45 cardboard stacking bricks sure weren't going to configure themselves, and now 30 minutes of family togetherness did what would have taken me hours.

With all the controlled chaos of family and party events though, I forgot to be sad. I forgot to lament the fact that my baby is no longer a baby.

And that is a great thing.

My baby will always be my baby. The passage of time will never change that.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Birthday

To my Gracie on your 1st birthday:

If I could give you any gift in the world, it would be ....

Joy.
I hope you have fun in life. That you take joy in the world and it takes joy in you.

Adventure.
I hope you embrace adventure. That you live out your dreams and follow shooting stars.

Wisdom.
I hope you are wise. That you appreciate opportunity and make the most out of every situation.

Confidence.
I hope you are confident in yourself and do not let faulty opinions lead you.

Health.
I hope you are healthy and do not inherit my challenges.

I have a million more wishes for you, and I’m sure over the coming years I will have a million more. If you read this in your journey into adulthood, please know that these are not expectations. They are not obligations. These are just some of the things that I would like to wrap up with a bow and hand to you today.

Although I suppose that your journey to these things will be the creation of the gifts themselves.

Happy Birthday my Love!

Love,
Mama