Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pretty Shoes

I enter the unfamiliar and elegant department store in my beautiful bridesmaid dress. It is black, strapless, cut to just above the knee and just flowy enough. My hair has been professionally styled into a perfectly messy updo and I am wearing beautiful borrowed jewelery. I head for the shoe department to (hopefully) find something more appropriate to wear to my sister's wedding than these Converse AllStars I have on now.

I frown when I reach the shoe department and find that the clearance section has disappeared. I only have two hours, so I start browsing anyway. An impeccably dressed woman approaches me and asks what I need.

"I am going to be in a wedding in two hours and I need some shoes to wear with this dress" I say, indicating the dress I have on. The dream dress that flatters my every curve as though no human being had ever called the inside of my abdomen "Home".

"Sit down there and I will bring you some things to try on." A well dressed man wordlessly brings me a cup of coffee while I wait, cream, no sugar. Perfect.

A moment later she returns bearing a single box. She opens it to reveal the perfect pair of shoes. A shiny platinum color I never would have considered before, they match the trim on my dress perfectly. She kneels on the floor in front of me and unties the laces to my ratty sneakers and takes them off. Gently holding my foot by the heel she slides the first shoe into place. It fits perfectly and is comfortable. And even more importantly, it is a gorgeous shoe. I would never have described a shoe as "sexy" before, especially not one I would be capable of wearing with my size 10 feet, but this is it. They are perfect.

Ecstatic I reach for the box to check the pricetag. They're ninety dollars. My heart sinks. I could never spend so much on one pair of shoes. But they are so perfect. I decide to buy them anyway and make up the difference somehow. After four years of graduate school my wardrobe consists soley of aging jeans and sneakers and tshirts commemorating field projects that took place years ago. I deserve to treat myself, I reason.

Giddy and a little nervous, I tell the saleswoman that I will take them. She looks at me and smiles warmly. She opens her mouth to speak.


Damn, it was a dream.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pregnancy after a loss: the neuroses begin

Monday: Feel sick all day. Munch on string cheese, cereal, chocolate donuts, whatever will make me feel full and not sick. Ryan comes home and finds me in a familiar pregnancy position--lying on the couch complaining about how sick I feel and would he please make something for dinner except I don't know what because nothing sounds good. Try not to cry.

Tuesday: The same except Charlie is home all day. Wonder aloud to anyone who will listen why in God's name anyone would have three kids.

Wednesday: OB recommends supplimenting B6 and calcium because it might help with the morning sickness.

Thursday: WOOHOOO!!! Eat whatever I want whenever I want. Play with Charlie. Go to Little Gym. Feel normal! Tell everyone I know about B6 and calcium.

Friday: Get tons of work done, feel great, postpone dinner until eight o'clock because YAY! NO MORNING SICKNESS!

Saturday morning, 1 AM: Crap. No morning sickness. Morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Something must be wrong. Freak out.

Saturday morning, 8 AM: Maybe I won't take my vitamins today just to see if the morning sickness comes back. Then I will know everything is fine with the baby.


And we have lunch plans with friends at a barbeque restaraunt. I can barely type the word barbeque without gagging.

I took the vitamins (gee, ya think?).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Playground Sisterhood

September 30th. That's the big day. It's also the hard and fast deadline for finishing up this little project I've been working on called my dissertation. It almost seems possible. My advisor said I should aim to be done with analysis and onto writing by mid-April. Every time I think the phrase "done with analysis" in my head I have a little party. Because the analysis part? Is BAD. Things can still go wrong and set me back another six months if I'm doing analysis. But writing? What's the worst that could happen? A bad day writing would set me back ONE DAY. I cannot wait for mid-April. I have a lot of work to get there, but it will be worth it. I won't be able to travel for the August graduation ceremony, so I think I will try to finish shortly after the summer deadline so I can attend the one in December instead. As my grandma said "She's going to be holding a two year old and a newborn when she gets hooded? Wow."

Yesterday at the playground Charlie climbed over a low concrete retaining wall into the mulch-filled pit that houses the swings. He sat down on the other side, his bare legs (it was 70 yesterday) stretched out in front of him. In an INSTANT his entire lower half was covered in fire ants. I have never seen anything like it. There were thousands of ants all over the mulch around him and hundreds on his legs. I ripped him out of there by one arm and dropped him onto the grass where I started furiously slapping at his poor legs. Charlie was freaking out, partly because of the ants biting him and partly because I had clearly lost my mind. By the time I ripped off his shorts and shoes a small crowd had gathered. Other mothers helped me squish the ants and take off his shirt. One lady checked between each of his toes while I checked his diaper area. After we had gotten them all I carried Charlie over to a water fountain and rubbed his legs (which were covered in bites) and tummy with cool water (this he thought was great fun, practically naked in the park AND I get to play with water?). When I turned around I saw four other mothers, each holding a piece of Charlie's clothing, carefully inspecting it for stowaway ants. I put Charlie in the stroller in his diaper and put the clothes in the basket and someone offered her little girl's blanket for Charlie to wear home (it was plenty warm and we only live a block away, so I declined).

Charlie was fine before we even left the park, but I was so impressed by the way the other mothers there were so helpful and genuinely concerned for Charlie. I want to write each of them a thank you note, but I don't even know their names.

When I related the ant story to Ryan on the phone last night I didn't even think that talking about our seventy degree weather while he's in Madison, Wisconsin, where it's TEN degrees IN THE FREAKING SUN, might be a little bit gloaty. Some toolbag left the AC on in his hotel room so when I talked to him he was writing his presentation sitting at the desk with his coat on while he waited for the room to warm up. "It's so much colder than The Old Town," he said "And it SNOWS. And the snow doesn't melt until MARCH!" I think it's for the best that we did not move to North.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Well that was FUN

In addition to having a really great time, I think one of us broke the record for calories consumed by a single woman in a thirty-six hour period.

Exhibit A: Friday night dinner. Mexican food. There were five of us--the waiter brought us four baskets of chips. Then we ordered an appetizer.


We needed a break after a particularly taxing trip through Babies R Us. Shortly after this was taken, the pregnant girl (A, in the purple coat) leapt off of her glider to take another spin through the nursery furntiture department while Godmother and I struggled to stay awake. Crazy second trimester energy levels.

It took three engineering/science types to summon the creative energy to create this diaper cake for Sunday's baby shower for our friend J. In addition to being a pretty centerpiece for the buffet at the shower, it has enough diapers to last J's newborn about seven hours (maybe nine if he's formula fed!).

We also played a lot of Guitar Hero. It's probably good for our marriage that Ryan and I don't own Guitar Hero.

We also spent a lot of time relaxing and catching up (or in other words, laying on the couch in our jammies watching TV including a TLC show about the Bermuda Triangle... huge methane gas bubbles? Really?). Moving at our own pace instead of Charlie's was a totally new experience for me and it was fabulous.

I like to think I behaved like a normal person but I had to make a special effort to only mention Charlie in conversation every fifth time I spoke or so. And I was pretty levelheaded until Ryan called Sunday afternoon and told me how Charlie slipped in the bathtub and scratched his lip with his brand new tooth and started bleeding but everything was fine. Then I had to excuse myself to the guest room where I could tearfully ask Ryan for the ridiculous amount of money required to change my flight home for earlier in the day. I'm glad that didn't work out because I had a really great time at the shower. J was so happy and she got many beautiful gifts.

I gave her a giftbag of infant Tylenol, Little Noses, Dr. Smith's Diaper Rash Cream, many, many pacifiers (with leashes) and Lansinoh Nursing Pads (AKA the only things I used during the first year). Maybe there will be a night sometime in the future when they won't have to go to the drug store at two AM and they will think of me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ladies' Nite

I'm back in the Old Town, all footloose and toddler free, hanging out with my friends A and Godmother. Charlie is having Boyz Weekend with Ryan and my dad back in South.

Couple of things...

Packing? Not as hard when it's just for you. Clothes? Check, done. No sippy cups, no bottles, no bibs, no diapers, no toys. I allowed about an hour for packing and was done in about fifteen minutes.

I brought one carry-on and a book to read. It was fabulous. I read seventy-five pages on the plane. I also checked only one bag. It was so blissfully simple.

Not simple? Leaving Charlie at daycare this morning knowing I wasn't going to see him until he woke up Monday morning. Poor Miss Nellie held him indulgently while I rubbed my face all over his head for an awkwardly long time before leaving.

Now it is time to go eat Mexican food and lament the fact that we are under a Winter Storm Warning (I regret that nostalgia laden post about missing winters in the Old Town now because apparently the Universe was LISTENING). And also talk too loud and laugh a lot and tell inappropriate stories that run Godmother's husband out of the house.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weeping and Gnashing of Gums

WARNING: Now that I am full of Ikea meatballs and macaroni and cheese (and ok, some chocolate cake too) I realize that this entry is not clever, well written, or particularly interesting. It was the screaming echoing in my head, I think. Or the low blood sugar.

Screamy McCranky is down for his second nap of the day. It's 11:30.

It started yesterday at the grocery store. We were in the checkout lane. Charlie was chewing on the buckle for the seatbelt in the cart. "Charlie" I said calmly "Please don't put that in your mouth."


The poor cashier started frantically searching for a balloon to calm him down. "He's fine" I said with a warm smile concealing my inner "Dude, what the hell?" I had to raise my voice to be heard over the screaming. Other shoppers smiled at me sympathetically as I rolled him out of the store, still screaming.

Since then he's been FREAKING OUT over even the smallest request.

"Don't touch the fireplace"


"Please sit on your bottom"


"Stay out of the dog food"


"Make Mama a cocktail"


It's the exact same scream every single time. And while his mouth is conveniently open for the screaming, he holds his gums with his hand as if to say "My teeth hurt, I need to touch the fireplace/jump on the chair/set fire to the curtains."

What on earth are you supposed to do? Should there be no rules when they are feeling bad?

I figured the best way to keep from completely losing my mind by the end of the day was to keep him away from temptation. So we've been doing lots of snacks, books, really annoying TV shows featuring purple dinosaurs that have a magical effect on him, and naps. And also Motrin.

If you haven't heard anything else from me by Friday send help.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tacos, mortages, and defibrillation

Ryan and I had a romantic rendezvous on Friday for lunch at a hippie taco restaraunt in our town. As we enjoyed our tilapia tacos (him) and chicken and poblano pepper tacos (me) Ryan said "Do you want to buy a house today?"

I sighed deeply. I was still nervous about the payment. I've read The Two Income Trap, it scared the pants off of me. And we only have ONE income.

Ryan said "Would it be easier to decide if the monthly amount was $100 less than we thought it would be?" (which, as you know, is three trips to the pediatrician and three prescriptions for antibiotics, twenty-four movie rentals, twenty-one gallons of milk, or three new pairs of jeans) "Because I called our insurance agent and we overbudgeted for homeowners' insurance by $100 a month." [Here he pulled an enormous graphing calculator out of his pocket and broke it all down for me. No I am not kidding]

"Really?" I asked tentatively, my mouth full of roasted poblano peppers and monterrey jack cheese. "OK. Then let's buy a house."

So we did. Yay!

We will close at the end of February or the beginning of March. I didn't even know that was possible. When we bought our last house, with a loan only slightly larger than that required for a nice SUV, the bank took nearly seventy-five days to get their act together, moving the closing date back three times and forcing the seller to threaten putting the house back on the market on numerous occasions. It was a nightmare. But Ryan called the loan agent for this house who told him "Oh, we can get you closed before the end of February no problem!" I can almost see him reclined in his desk chair, feet on the desk, casting a careless eye to the calendar as if he was unaware of the power associated with holding the next thirty years of our lives in his hands.

Of course I responded to this news by suffering a massive stroke because CHAAAAAAANGE IS SCAAAAAARRRRRYYYYY and Charlie loves living with his grandparents and I love living here and who will Rossby watch TV with at night if not my dad and I finally learned which drawer I keep the can opener in WE CAN'T MOVE IN LESS THAN A MONTH! THAT'S CRAZY TALK! And then I thought about carrying a queen-sized box spring up the stairs and had to be defibrillated.

But later, at my sister's for dinner, as I was showing her pictures online of the double vanity in the master bathroom and the pretty toile curtains that are staying in the dining room and the Charlie-sized rock climbing wall on the swingset I started to calm down and get really really excited.

(I will post pictures as soon as I take some of my own)

Friday, February 8, 2008

When nerds play board games

The best two Scrabble words ever (played by the Supreme Scrabble Champion of the Academomia Family (by a lead of 3 games to 2)) are:

From last week's match-up: J*IHAD (don't want people googling that to wind up here accidentally)

And from last night: AREOLA (a small fight was had over the proper spelling, but ultimately it was decided that neither of us wanted to use our own computer to Google it so Ryan took my word for it)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

La Casita

They countered (yesterday around 5:00, just when do you people eat lunch anyway?).

It was not what we had hoped for, but as the seller's agent so helpfully pointed out, the difference between what we were offering and what they were asking would only amount to $29 a month. Or, as I like to call it, one pediatrician copay and a perscription for antibiotics or eight movie rentals or seven gallons of milk or a new pair of jeans.

Oh to live in a world where $29 is a trivial amount of money.

But. We want to live in this neighborhood. It has great schools and tons of parks. It has a community center and a church and a Boy Scout troop that has a pancake breakfast on the Fourth of July.

And the house is exactly what we want. The size is just right, it needs absolutely no repairs or even paint, it has a nice back yard with a swingset that conveys. The stairs go into the kitchen at the back of the house so if you need to run to the laundry room naked to get your underpants from the dryer you don't have to pass any street-facing windows (Bonus!).

The payment (even at their original asking price) is exactly what we budgeted for (thank you Mr. Fed for being so accommodating with your interest rates) even if the actual number makes me teetee a little in my pants (and we were going to move to BOSTON??).

So we countered their counter. And now for some more waiting. We should have an answer before the weekend.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wanna know what happened with the house?

Yeah, me too.

According to our realtor, we should know something after lunch.'s 1:30.

Aside: If anyone is having trouble with their Gmail it is probably because I have been pushing "refresh" manically since approximately 12:31, a time I consider to be "after lunch".

(It's not the park house mentioned in the last post btw. In addition to featuring the Eighties Dream Kitchen, which would have required no less than the likes of Tye Pennington to bring it to a point where I wouldn't start gasping for air the second I passed through its narrow, ill positioned little door, the master bedroom was on a different floor than the other bedrooms. Those of you with small children know what a huge pain that would be.)

I'm sure our realtor will call after getting good and drunk in preparation for entering negotiations with us, the most fickle buyers on the planet who also have no money.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

This week in summary

*The climbing continues: Spiderman scared the crap out of Ryan's parents while we were looking at a house on Saturday by attempting to climb up the outside of the banister

*The same house backed up to a large park. The back fence had a gate that opened onto the park. Ryan opened the gate and shouted into the park "Charlie!! Time for dinner!" and then turned around to me and said "Hey, it works!" If the house hadn't needed so much demolition remodeling it would have been perfect. I mean, I'm not going to say the fake wood floor was installed poorly, I'm just going to say I could see it moving up and down when someone walked across the living room.

And it had the 80s dream kitchen. Pink walls, dated appliances, an enormous fume hood resembling the invading alien spacecraft on the movie Independence Day that hung in the middle of the room over the island, and access by a narrow door that opened into the foyer. What in the world?

*I think our realtor wishes we would just decide to rent a while longer.

*My dissertation sucks but occasionally I can see a teeny glimmer of dim light at the end of a long dark and winding tunnel. Unfortunately there are probably also scary monsters in the tunnel just waiting to jump out and eat my Matlab code.

*Charlie weighs 26 lb (75 percentile), is 32 inches tall (75th-90th
percentile), and has 90th percentile head size. He knows lots of words (bye, dog, kitty, Mama, Papa, banana, milk, oooh, wow, baby, woof, and a sharp disciplinary word that sounds like "DA!" that he applies to the fireplace, the stairs, Rossby's food bowl, and Rossby when he barks).

*He is also getting his first teeth finally. Four of them are coming in on top right now. This displeases him greatly.

*His ears? Are NOT INFECTED!

*There was a freaking ARMADILLO in our BACK YARD this morning.

*Rossby hates armadillos even more than cats.

And finally,

*We put an offer on a house this morning. Excuse me while I breathe into a paper bag.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

They call him Baby Blogger

You know that expression "It was quiet. Too quiet."? How true that tired cliche is when you live with a toddler. Especially, I am told, a boy toddler.

Friday I was puttering around while Charlie played nicely in the family room, trying to finish the four loads of laundry that seem to have appeared out of thin air in the mere days since I last did laundry (It couldn't have been that long right? The clean clothes from that laundry day hadn't even been put away yet). He was playing so nicely, in fact, that I thought it would be safe to run to the laundry room for a second to switch the last load from the washer to the drier.

What's that other cliche? Oh yes, it's "I was only gone for a second."

As I worked in the laundry room (all of ten feet away from the kitchen and family room) I kept one ear out for Charlie. I could hear him playing with his ball popper, then his shape sorter. Then I heard him go over to the cabinet he's allowed to open and pull all the plastic bowls and sippy cups out.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I hadn't heard a peep out of him in several moments. I couldn't tell how long it had been because I was engrossed in hanging all my mom-t-shirts up on hangers so the dryer wouldn't shrink them (thus limiting their effectiveness at concealing my post-baby tummy). But I knew the familiar monologue that usually accompanies Charlie's independent play had stopped.

A little nervous, I peeked around the corner into the kitchen not knowing what to expect.


Mama's Computer, with its irresistable siren song, its enticing lights that flash, its magical Windows XP error noises. The temptation overwhelmed him.

I froze. Like any parent whose child has accomplished a feat of supreme mental acuity and physical strength, I wanted to take a picture. But I couldn't leave the room a second time to look for my camera (Although, maybe if I had left him alone for a few more minutes he could have figured out where my Matlab code went wrong).

Very slowly and with no sudden movements I glided over to the table and scooped him up. I must have interrupted something important because he was MAD. I was laughing too hard for any kind of discipline to be effective so I just deposited him back in the family room among his toys, which are appropriate, safe, and free from large amounts of potential energy.

I'm still not done with the laundry.