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.


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


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?


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 ....

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

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

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

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

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!


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Cubs Game

There is something amazing about Chicago sports. I’m sure other cities are like this, and I know that I am biased, but an outsider just doesn’t realize the passion of our fans. 100 years of disappointment folks. 100 Years!!

So despite the Cubbie loss on October 1, and eventual sweep, it was a good game and an amazing time.

In the true spirit of Chicago’s ‘we travel well’ motto, pre-game we meet folks in the exact same boat as us. Some had actually just gotten in – straight from O’Hare – from Boston. After sharing why we moved stories and spill $3.50 of my $7.00 beer on their coats, it was time to head into Wrigley.

Once inside the ballpark, we spilt for pee breaks and beer purchases.

On the way back to find Matt, I got sidetracked. Through my goggles of a slipped contact and 2.5 beers, I spotted a super cute guy a few feet ahead of me. Then he called my name. Who knew my hubbie was so toned and tanned from all the running! I guess I just had to slow down and literally see him though different eyes to really appreciate it!

The game went well until the grand slam in the 5th inning. Then things got ugly.

Right behind us we had hecklers, the funny kind, who also gave me sips of his Mai Tai, so they were cool.

Up above him though, we had a cynical, pissed off Heckler. Not so cool.

And up above him seemed to be the only Dodgers fan in the whole stadium, a 20-something chick that just could not keep her yap shut. Really not cool.

Well… the cynical Heckler got into it with the Dodgers fan. She got removed by ushers, as she was the opponent, so she must be in the wrong. The Heckler did say he felt bad that she got tossed, but that he wouldn’t have minded being able to shock her to get her to shut up.

I’m assuming she heard this on her way out, but cause a few innings later she was back. With full beers that I’m assuming were purchased with retaliation in mind, as she threw them all over the Heckler.

There was a lot of splash. Two full beers and all.

¼ of our section wound up leaving due to soggy pants. Eh, the Cubbies were way down anywho at this point.

During our trek back to the car, we stopped at Portillo’s and consoled our aching hearts with the most delicious hot dogs on the face of the planet.

Which brings to the most telling thing about our 48 hours in Chicago.

All I ate during that time was: Slim Jims, pizza, a hot dog, a burger, french fries, chocolate and beer. I might have had a Diet Coke too, but can’t recall.

In the end, it was the best trip back we’ve had in awhile.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chatting Up The Boss

Remember the job interview I had?

Well, I found out last week – as I was running out the door to collect Grace and catch our flight to Chicago – that I didn’t get the job. (And yeah, I know I haven’t written about my memories of the playoff game. It was painful and I am still working on it.)

Anyway, I was standing in the front lobby of my building, with people swarming around, and the Program Director stops me. He said he wanted to personally tell me that they selected someone else, but that he really wants to meet with me sometime soon to talk about my future.

That’s a good thing, right? To have someone that high-up even care about my future?

Well, I could hear the minutes ticking away in my head, and started inching my way towards the door. Sure Paul, I will absolutely email you the moment I return from Chicago!

Then I was left with my thoughts:
“Does he want to talk to me because I have good ideas?”
“Does he want to talk to me because he sees me as an inside source of information about what is really going on in the department?”
“Does he want to talk to me because I threw coworkers under the bus in an attempt to stress my management skills?”

Well, that meeting was yesterday. I had all of one hour worth of notice, and had eaten a greasy chili dog and onion rings for lunch. Great.

I think it actually went pretty well in the end. And it was a little bit of 1 & 2, no inkling of 3. Which is a good thing.

He said that during the interview I gave him a unique insight into how the program is operated, and with my responses, ideas on things that may need to be adjusted. That he got the feeling that I’m not 100% happy in my current position

(duh, I was on an interview, right?)

and that it was his goal to make sure I got the experiences I needed to improve my skill set and find the perfect position for me. He also said that we hire LOTS of smart people and LOTS of people who can get jobs done, but that it is a rare occasion to find folks that are the combination of the two……

And his impression of me is that I’M PART OF THAT RARE COMBO!

Really? Really??!?
(It was so hard not to giggle with delight!)

So I asked what kind of training and skill sets he thought I needed to acquire, blah blah blah.

Really? Really??!? You think I’m smart!?!
(He He He He!)

So that was the meeting. A good one, no?

But damn, now that means more work on my part.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

She's Gone

Terrible news.

You know my work Cardinal? My Grandma incarnate? Well, no longer.

At lunch yesterday with NES, our friend Eric joined us for the last few minutes. Upon noticing the evil bee we had trapped in a sandwich container a memory was sparked.

"You know the cardinal that lives over in that tree?" he asked, "Well, I saw it dead the other day. It slammed into the cafeteria glass windows!"

NES jumped to my defense, "Shut up, shut up! She loves that bird!"

But it was already too late. My bird was gone. And without my manufactured story of southern migration and living it up in Boca.

Oh well. It is just a bird after all. Everything dies and everything is born again.

Karma's a bitch though, huh? Guess we should have left that nasty bee alone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mountain Climbing

We took a big step this weekend, to prevent an even bigger leap. We have installed the hard-mount baby gate at the top of our stairs.

Over the last few days, Gracie has taken a huge interest in the stairs.

She kept inching closer and closer to the edge to look over, and has started flinging toys through the banister from the second floor onto the first. I will give her some credit, they do make a nice bang when the crash. It is almost the same level of bang that my heart made the first time I heard it.

Now that she is focused on walking, crawling is at lightening speeds. One second she is sitting there chewing in a shoe, the next she is on the landing flinging toys. Or more heart stopping, looking over the edge of the landing and down the stairs.

Hence the official installation of the gate and several holes in the hardwood banister. Eh, it is contractor grade though, so this just means that I will be able to replace it in a few years, right? Right??

So this is a win-win project! We keep our baby safe and I have the illusion that I will get some high priced home improvement in the years to come. Well, Lil’Rick doesn’t seem too happy about the arrangement. It is cramping his style.

We have a second mobile gate at the bottom of the stairs now too because when I caught her peering through the rail on the 3rd step of the stairs, my heart once again stopped for a moment. I yanked her off the stairs and slapped up the gate. What I didn’t realize is that I was trapping the dog on the stairs. Stuck in the limbo between the couch and our bed. 2 hours later, I noticed the whimpering.

Maybe if he starts peeing on the carpeting, we can add another home improvement project onto the list sooner instead of later!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Love Will Never Sour

Yesterday, October 4, was our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years married, 10 years together. It seems like yesterday that we were married. In fact, congratulations to our friends Kari and Antonio, who WERE actually married yesterday!

I digress ...

Life has become so hectic, that I put little thought into the day outside of the chores that we needed to accomplish to be ready for Gracie's birthday party next weekend and the meal I was going to make us for dinner since we were sans babysitter. We usually don't exchange big gifts because we always DO something to celebrate, but this year I didn't even get the poor guy a card.

The chores didn't go so well, but the meal was fantastic. Braised lamb shanks, butternut squash risotto and a fantastic bottle of Cab. Yummy.

Matt, on the other hand, had apparently been putting a lot of thought into my gift.

5th anniversary = wood. Hmmm.

You know what he got me? A tree. Some might not be excited, but I was. And not just any old tree, nope not my hubbie. The man got me a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree! Eeeeeeeeee! That is my foodie/green thumb loving squeal! Complete with 2 full grown lemons actually on the tree when I opened the box.

So in response to this fantastic and completely unexpected gift, here is my heart in written form:

Through all the day to day drudgery, you are my light. You are my companion. You are my life. You are my soul.

You know me better than I know myself most days and still love me despite my flaws. You take the world on your shoulders to give it back to me brighter, happier.

Every year with you gets better, more comfortable, more loving. There has never been a second of our life together when I didn't not believe 100% that we were meant to be together.

You are right my Love, our love will never sour, despite the new presence of a lemon tree in our home.