Monday, October 30, 2006

Let's talk about Viv, baby.

At the tender age of not-quite-yet two and a half, Vivian has finally entered the terrible twos, and entered them with a vengeance. I realized, when I was going back and adding "labels" to all my posts, that I haven't posted much about the kids lately, and especially not about Vivian. (Isaac's health issues have a way of ensuring I have lots to say about him; there is no similar issue for Vivian.)

For most of her life, Vivian has been remarkably easy to handle. Oh sure, as an infant, she had trouble nursing, and she didn't sleep enough for my liking. She cried much more frequently than her brother had, but I wouldn't classify her as a screamer. I could usually quiet her down fairly easily. And as time went on, she grew into a very mild-mannered, accepting child. She was not physical at all, refusing to walk until she was 18 months old, never really climbing onto chairs or crawling out doors. She was perfectly happy to sit and read books or play with toys, by herself or with her brother. She was fairly verbal, so I didn't have too many issues communicating with her. As she got older, she started getting slightly more passionate about things, learning to yell NO! when Isaac grabbed a toy, then learning to push back once she had been pushed, and finally graduating to pushing first when she wanted something. Still, those sort of occasions were not frequent, and I could comfort her or distract her easily.

In August, Vivian started school. I haven't written about it at all because, honestly, my life since August 1st has been full-speed ahead, and I haven't had a second to even consider it. Now that things have settled down a bit, let me tell you. The first day of school I took her inside (Isaac too; he goes to the same school) and she ran off immediately to play with some toys. When I told her I was leaving, and she would be staying there with her brother, she barely looked up from her game, mumbling "Have a good day, Mommy!" and offering her cheek for a kiss. That was it. She has never cried at school drop off since.

This surprised me a little bit. I mean sure, I knew school was a comfortable place for her, and I wasn't expecting a huge melt-down. She'd been begging to go to school for months, her brother was there to "protect" her, and new toys are always a big pull. But I thought she might struggle just a little bit more. I thought maybe after an hour when she realized I still wasn't back, she might miss me. But she didn't.

So, school. It's been two months now, if you don't count the two weeks we were in Hawaii. Here's one of the things this particular school teaches kids: stand up for yourself. If one child is playing with a toy and another one comes up and grabs it, they teach the first child to use words and say something like, "I am playing with that toy, it's not your turn". Well. Vivian has taken those instructions to heart. I first noticed this a few months ago, when we had a playdate with an old friend (Hi, Rachel!). Vivian was "playing" with her 14 month old (or so) son Evan when suddenly she leaned in, eye-level with Evan, and shouted, quite loudly*, inches from his face, "DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT, EVAN!!" She has gotten progressively more adamant as school goes on.

I find myself intervening in sibling battles much more frequently than I used to. Vivian is no longer mellow at all, and instead can be found yelling loudly at all times (it seems), "NO! I don't like that! Don't do that, Isaac!! NO THANK YOU!" and a new favorite: "I DON'T LIKE YOU ANYMORE!!" Worse, she has allowed this new defiant attitude to permeate all of her personality. When she doesn't want to do something, she sits down on the floor and screams. And now, she doesn't EVER want to do what I need her to do.

The other day, we were driving around our new neighborhood and passed a playground. Immediately both kids started clamoring for us to stop. When I explained that it was too dark and we'd have to go another time, Isaac whined, "Oh, man! But I wanted to go to that playground! Now I'll never get to go to the playground." Vivian, on the other hand, handled it this way: "STOP! LET ME OUT!! NOW!!! MOMMY!!! NO THANK YOU! I WANT TO GO TO THE PLAYGROUND. MOMMY!! I WANT TO GO TO THE PLAYGROUND! RIGHT NOW. I DON'T LIKE YOU ANYMORE! NO!!" This continued for several ear-piercing minutes (Isaac was long done complaining) and reached a new level of hilarity with this exchange:
Me: "Well, you don't have to like me, Vivian, but I will always love you."
Me, to Lance: Did she turn 15 while I wasn't looking?

Yeah, she's a little bit out of control, our Viv. Even her pre-school teacher, who up until last week has seemed completely enchanted with her, has started slipping little negatives into the comments she writes every day. ("Wow. Vivian is really started to use her words LOUDLY!" Or, "Vivian was very defiant today, she really knows what she wants these days, doesn't she?") I have to admit that much of this is my fault.

Here's the thing: by the time Isaac was 1 year old, he had been in too many time-outs to count. By the time Vivian was 2 years old, she had been in maybe 5 time-outs total. Therefore, Isaac knows, from experience, that when I start counting, I mean business. He knows that he has to stay in a time-out until I tell him to get out. He knows that when I threaten things, I will more than likely follow through. He still tests me, frequently, but he understands me. Vivian, on the other hand, has had no such experience.

Up to about age two, this was more a measure of their different personalities than any favoritism or birth-order discrimination on my part. Isaac was just into more things than Vivian. Isaac required much more vigilance, Isaac tested me more. In addition, the first few times Vivian did anything that might merit a time-out I was so surprised I only half-heartedly, and with much not-well-concealed laughter, meted out the punishment.

And. I must admit it. For some reason, Vivian has my number a bit better than Isaac. I don't seem to expect the same level of behavior from her as I did from Isaac at the same age. The last several months, as she has gotten progressively more difficult to handle, I haven't reacted the same way I would with Isaac. I suppose it is the second-born syndrome: I still pick my battles, but since there are now two children to pick battles with, I tend to pick them much less frequently. So she gets away with a lot more.

Now that Vivian has shown me how this lax parenting is "helping" her, I realize I've got to adjust my behavior. She needs to recognize that I mean what I say. She needs to watch her tone of voice. I need to be more in control. Sigh.

Isn't this parenting gig supposed to get easier as they grow?

(Please don't anybody mention teenage years now, okay?)


*And by loudly, I mean at decibel levels usually reserved for rock concerts. This astounds me, and makes me secretly proud. I have always been a soft-talker--people often don't hear me, or garble what I say, which just adds to the miscommunications that foster my social anxiety. So, on one hand, I'm really glad that Vivian has found her voice, and that it is so forceful. I mean, yeah, that hand has been plugging my ears for the last month or two, but . . .

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things that Annoy me about Blogging

1. That the blogger templates are so fricking boring and ugly.
2. That I am too cheap to pay someone to make mine pretty.
3. That I am also too lazy to figure out something pretty on my own.
4. That I can't figure out how to do strike-thru, no matter how many times I google it or use Blogger Help.
5. That strike-thru font really means that much to me.
6. That some of you comment on my posts via blogger commenting, instead of Haloscan, so I miss them, until I notice later when I'm editing, that those comments are there. (How do you do that?)
7. That Bloglines seems to lose feeds of mine capriciously, causing me to miss weeks of posts before realizing what's going on.
8. That I am so dependant on Bloglines that I forget to click on the homepage of new commenters, thereby depriving myself of awesome new blogs to read.
9. When someone I "know" stops coming by or commenting, for no apparent reason. (And by "know" I mean someone who has been commenting here for awhile and on whose blog I regularly comment.)
10. That I don't know what to do when #9 happens. (Should I stop visiting their blog? Should I email them and ask what I did to offend? Should I pretend it doesn't bother me at all because I am just that secure in my own skin?)

Oh, there are more. Infinitely more things that annoy me about blogging. And yet, here I sit, 9:30pm on a Saturday night, blogging. It appears I need an intervention.

Update: What? You mean bloggers have other things going on, besides commenting on my posts? Sacrilege!

Also: if you are leaving a comment here, I guarantee I am not talking about you. The few people I am speaking of haven't left a comment in months.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Vivian has been ready to be potty-trained for months now. Months. I think I could have easily trained her around her birthday in June, when she was showing all kinds of "ready" signs. But I was lazy, and I didn't feel like dealing with the accidents, so I kept putting it off. I bought her some underwear, and put her in it several times, with minimal accidents, but whenever we left the house I put her back in diapers. I've been half-assedly training her for a long time, putting her in underwear when I remember, but mostly using pull-ups. The other day, Melissa wrote a post about her daughter who basically trained herself, and I realized I just have to do this. Deal with the accidents so she learns. What a pain in the ass (heh).

Also? Last week, I spent two (2!) of my free mornings doing absolutely nothing. I didn't do laundry, go to the store, buy Vivian underwear, check on the status of the remodel, make doctors' appointments, or any of the usual trivial crap I busy my days with. God knows I didn't go to the gym and work out. I laid around on my ass, catching up on TiVo (except at the new apartment it's Time Warner DVR, which I hate) and occasionally surfing blogs. I ate Halloween candy. I rested.

And it felt great. (You see why I love being a stay at home mom? It goes so well with my lazy nature!)

In other news, I have started a new blog. I'm not linking it here, because it's a private blog. I'm going to hand out the URL to my family members, and whenever I post something innocuous here about the kids, I'll post it there, too. That way, I can finally achieve the original purpose of the blog: keep my far-flung family up-to-date on kid happenings. And I can do it without giving up this little corner of self-help I've dug out for myself. Plus, since I'll make it a totally private blog that only family members can see, I won't have to answer a myriad of questions like "but why would you want anyone in the world to be able to see pictures of your kids? What if a child molester finds you?"

Also, and this is most important: now when I go home for extended periods (I'm leaving for Delaware Nov. 6th and not returning until after Thanksgiving) I can still blog, without arousing suspicion. If they think I'm spending an inordinate amount of time at the computer, I'll just play stupid, and say I'm having trouble trying to figure the whole thing out. This will be easy for them to believe.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Love, Actually.

I'm not sure I ever told you, but Dr. Bite Me is out. You guys were right, and I should have listened to you in the first place. Did I ever tell you about Marriage Counseling: Session Three? Dr. Bite Me threw out this nugget of wisdom: "Well, if Lance wants to surf for 5 hours every day of your vacation, I think that is a non-negotiable. You want to let him do that, whether you think it's reasonable or not." Yeah, even Lance agreed that perhaps Dr. Bite Me did not have both of our interests equally at heart, after that. Not to mention, although occasionally Dr Bite Me did offer some good insight, he spent a lot of time talking himself, and I don't feel like paying good money to listen to some 50 year old misogynist pontificate. Know what I mean?

So. You were right. Now I just have to find someone else. (Lazy, lazy . . .)

You know what else? Things are much better, with Lance and I. I've been thinking about us lately, and the truth is, we've been through a lot, these past two and a half years. First, Vivian. I have alluded before to how difficult things were once she was born, and I'll repeat myself here. When Vivian was born, Isaac was a complete and utter maniac. I was totally unprepared to handle him and a newborn, especially a newborn so unlike the only other one I'd ever known (Isaac, who as an infant was a perfect angel). It was at least 3 months of utter hell, as I struggled and failed to be a good mother to both children, only getting slightly better when I gave up trying to be good and settled for at-least-I-didn't-kill-them-today. I did not handle those months with anything resembling grace, and I will say here that Lance didn't either. I felt like a failure all day long and he felt like a failure every evening, but at least he had work to escape to, and escape he did. To work, to ski vacations, to football games, anywhere but here. The resentment started there, I think.

Then, Vivian turned one, and at her birthday party that year, the whole nasty brother-in-law thing exploded. Just when we had gotten a handle on parenting two kids, we had something else to argue about. Something else that upset both of us, in different ways. That upset the people we loved, and we were powerless to stop it. The day after Vivian's birthday was Isaac first surgery, the one we thought would be so simple, the one before we had an accurate diagnoses. That one-two punch has been very difficult to navigate, and I don't think either one of us has shown any exceptional maturity or dignity in doing so.

I have been holding onto that resentment, the I-didn't-sign-up- for-this-parenting-thing-alone, the your-brother-is-an-ass-and-you-don't-do- anything-about-it, the why-the-fuck-is-this-happening-to-our-son-and-why- can't-you-make-it-better, the I-am-doing-everything-and-you-suck feelings-- and holding tight, for years. Clenching my jaw, tasting bile, steeling my eyes--that's how tight I've been holding on. I'm not sure why, except to say that I am a (perhaps deeply) flawed person.

But at least I finally realized what I was doing, and also realized how much it wasn't helping. I think at one point I felt that being angry at Lance was helping me in some way--at least when I was angry with him I didn't have to be sad, or blame myself, or bang my head against the wall. Anger, resentment, jealousy: all these emotions were infinitely better than actually dealing with the problems at hand. Giving up the anger would mean I'd have to let him in, admit how vulnerable and lost I felt, and I couldn't do that.

Now, things are better. The kids are in school 4 mornings a week. We haven't seen nasty boy in almost a year. Isaac's health still sucks, and it will still be an issue for years to come, but we are both trying to talk about it more, trying to accept it. And I have let go of all that crap. It was getting heavy, and my arms were tired.

It's not as if this happened quickly--I didn't wake up one morning and say, "oh! I know what the problem is in my marriage!" In fact, I couldn't pinpoint anything, any one moment or event that made a difference. Lance has adjusted his attitude too somehow, and I'm sure I have nothing to do with that. We just both seem to be swimming back towards each other now, instead of treading water at different ends of the pool, occasionally splashing water in each other's faces.

But I will say this: what a relief, to be able to smile when Lance comes home from work. How nice it is to call him--not with chores or accusations, but a simple question--do you want to go to the beach for dinner tonight?, followed by a quick and heartfelt "I love you".

No, it's not all gravy again, not yet. I am not a strong swimmer after all, and anyway, my arms were already tired from carting all that emotion around. (Fun with metaphors!) But it's getting better, and for that I am grateful. They always say that marriage is hard work, but for a long time I didn't believe that. Oh sure, sometimes Lance annoyed the crap out of me, but hard? Even in the midst of all the shit that went on these last few years, I don't think I would have admitted it was hard. I actually thought I was holding it all together, until a few months ago. But it is hard, and not because living with someone else is hard. It's hard because you have to be completely honest with yourself, you have to push through all your own bullshit, you have to call yourself when you're being a twit, and you have to mean it.

That's hard.

And totally worth it.


(No, not a flattering photo, but it seems apt, somehow.)

Where have I been?

Last Thursday, I left the kids at school and flew home to Delaware. My mother's 60th birthday was Friday, October 20th. My dad surprised her with a weekend trip to Bermuda; the two of them left Thursday morning. The second part of the surprise came when my brother, sister and I showed up at their resort for dinner Friday night.

She was thrilled, and completely shocked. Yes, that means I flew 6 hours Thursday and then another 2 on Friday morning, followed by a 13 hour travel day two days later, but it was totally worth it. You only turn 60 once, after all. Not to mention, Bermuda! Yet another tropical family vacation, and you know I never say no to that. *

I had never been to Bermuda before, and it's always fun to go to a new spot. We were there less than 48 hours so there wasn't much time to explore, but the weather was gorgeous. The resort where we stayed was extremely nice, and my father booked my siblings and I into a large suite so the five of us would have a place to congregate. My impressions of Bermuda are two: beautiful, as you'd expect from a tropical island, and also a little stuffy, in a British/ New England kind of way. (Lots of blue blazers and madras pants, know what I mean?) Oh, also? Horrifyingly expensive. Moreso than Hawaii, and that's saying something. However, as I said, we had very little time to explore, so those impressions could be way off, and might be more indicative of the resort than the whole island.

I would go back in a minute, especially if someone else was paying.

Here is where I would normally post pretty pictures, but I forgot the camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I really wish I'd gotten a picture of Mom's face when she walked into the dining room and saw us there, but even without the photo, I'll remember it forever.

Some things to remember:

The "family" that flew with me on the transcontinental flight fro L.A. to Philadelphia. Mom and 3 year old in front row, Dad and 4 year old in second row. Several times during the flight, I thought to myself, "Hmm, that Dad sure doesn't help much (he had passed his kid up to sit with the Mom very early on)" or "I would kill Lance, if he was just sitting there reading the paper while I dealt with all the kids". Then, when we arrived in Philadelphia, the mom said "Well, thanks for playing with us, Megan!" and got off with her daughter, leaving the stranger and his kid to get off on their own. Yeah. He passed his kid off to a complete stranger for the entire 5-1/2 hour flight while he read the paper.

Water. This particular resort does not have mini-bars in the rooms; instead, they send you a list of possible items to choose from before you arrive. My sister filled out the form, and decided that we'd need several bottled waters. Assuming their bottled water was the standard, 8-12 oz kind, she ordered 18-- 3 a day, per person. The bottled water came in liter size, which, if you're not quite sure, is slightly larger than a bottle of wine. 18 liters of water to drink in less than 48 hours. This led to much hilarity, in the form of water-pounding competitions, and jokes along the lines of "Gosh, I just wish I had some clear liquid to drink. You know, that doesn't taste like anything, but is refreshing. Where could I find something like that?" or "Maybe we should take the water with us to dinner--do you think they'd charge a corkage fee?" For the record, my brother and I won the who-can-drink-the-most-water contest, and in fact, we did get through all 18 liters, not to mention 12 beers, a bottle of rum and 1/2 a bottle of champagne. This doesn't include what we drank at dinner.

Family. It hasn't been just the five of us in years--probably 20 years. We had such a great time, and Dad stepped right back into his preferred role of director, getting out the maps and tourist information at dinner Friday night and organizing our whole day Saturday for us. This was much more endearing than it is on longer vacations: there was no sense that he was trying to control our holiday, since this was only a weekend, and we were there just for Mom anyway. Nobody bickered (again, it was only a weekend), and we all left in better spirits than we arrived. I love my family and miss them, and holidays like this just reinforce that lucky feeling--I am truly blessed to have these people in my life.

The one stressful moment occurred when we decided to rent mopeds--two doubles and one single. My dad and Chip drove the doubles, with Mom and I as passengers, and Ann rode the single. Mopeds are big--bigger than you think--and unsteady--and in Bermuda, they drive on the left side of the road. My dad has a bum knee, so it was difficult for him to steady the bike, and I felt pretty unprotected, riding behind Chip. Fortunately, after we spent a good twenty minutes learning how to ride the bikes, with my stress level rising every second (it was scary, y'all) and my dad furiously licking his lips in concentration at every turn, we went to sign the contract and discovered that they only had 24 hour rentals. Since it was already 4:30 pm and we were leaving the next morning, we decided to skip the mopeds and hop in a cab instead. At that point, I don't think anyone was too thrilled about the moped ride (with the possible exception of my brother), but no one wanted to be a kill joy for anyone else. When it became clear that the rental terms would give us a way out, we all sighed in relief.

I'm glad to be home, and, even better, Lance is glad that I'm home. He's a bit tired from a weekend alone with the kids (she says, with just a trace of smugness). Hope everyone else had a nice weekend too!

*I didn't mention it here because it was kind of last minute and also I felt a little sheepish, having just returned from Hawaii a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tip #5

If it is 12:15 and your kids are hungry, do not attempt to make a "quick stop" at Trader Joe's before you take them home for lunch, assuming the free sample of granola or whatever will be enough to stave off the crazies that hunger inevitably causes.

For the love of god, do not attempt.

Also, if you want to feel like a real asshole, huff and puff and mutter loudly about the stoned and stupid check-out clerk, who is taking FOREVER to ring up everybody's purchases, as you wait in line. Then, when you finally get to the front so you can glare at him, have him smile and tell you how cute your kids are and commiserate about how tough it is to grocery shop with kids.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Settling in

Well, we are finally almost settled in to our new home. Lance got the kids' bookshelves attached to the walls and some pictures hung this weekend, and Isaac went back to school today. He is mostly recovered (though I am still sad), and we are all getting used to life in the new apartment. The barking dog has been notably better and the hot water has been functioning just fine. The kids are still enjoying playing with toys that hadn't seen the light of day in months at our old place and after next week we can take them in the pool/ hot tub again. (Isaac is not allowed in water, except to bathe, for two weeks.)

Best of all, I found the kids their new beds. I am extremely proud of myself because I found the beds, which convert to bunks, on Craig's list for a total of $300--including mattresses. They are in excellent condition, too. Other bunk beds I was looking at ran over $1000, once you bought the mattresses too. Isaac has been sleeping on a pathetic, very old twin mattress and box spring only slightly more comfortable than hardwood since he moved to a big boy bed around age two. That's because, true to my bad mother tendencies, I was too cheap to purchase a new mattress for him, or a bed frame of any kind, not when we had a "perfectly good" twin mattress/box spring in the garage. Note to self: next time, try a little harder to let compassion for your kid overrule your ridiculous Depression-era-type frugality.

But! Depression-era-type frugality won out here, too! Who knew Craig's list could solve my children's sleep needs and assuage my need for cheap at the same time?

Vivian has been sleeping in her crib, happily, with no interest in climbing out, her entire life. I have a feeling that she would continue to do that until she grew taller than the crib sometime in adolescence. She's just not a climber, my Viv. Normally, I'd be happy to let her stay in the crib for as long as she wanted--I am a big proponent of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of parenting-- but I had no interest in dismantling the crib to get it out of her room, moving it here, and re-assembling it. Plus, I thought I could sell the two cribs (hers, and Isaac's old one, that matches) as a pair on Craig's list. Sadly, this is where Craig's list failed me: no one was interested in two un-gently used cribs with broken drawers. Oh well.

So. We moved to the apartment without beds for the kids, and they slept on an air mattress (Isaac) and the Pack n' Play (Vivian) until I found the beds, and Lance set them up, last week.


Yes, I know. The room is quite barren--nothing on the walls. I don't have any plans to put anything up, either. We'll only be here 6 months (hopefully) and I don't want to put holes in the wall if I don't have to. Not to mention, this is earthquake country, and you really shouldn't hang anything on the wall above your bed. Also, I don't have matching sheets yet or comforters/quilts of any kind. Both of my kids refuse to have anything covering them at night, though, so comforters are just for show anyway. I have been looking for sheets though--something I can use here and then use again, in Isaac's room (he'll have his own room!) at the new house. I found it really annoying that everywhere I looked for kids bedding, I had to go to a "boys" or "girls" section. No unisex bedding of any kind. Stupid. Why are surfboards only for boys? And dinosaurs? The only animal a girl is allowed is a butterfly? And what if you have girl/boy twins, or kids, like mine, of different sexes who share a room? Why does everything have to be so relentlessly masculine or feminine? I finally ordered some surfboard sheets with plain blue/light blue quilts. I'm sure my mother-in-law will be horrified that Vivian sleep in something so masculine, but it will have to do for the next 6 months.

We could also talk right now about the missing knobs on the dresser and the hideous, not to mention un-safe plant light which provides the only light in the room, but I'd rather not. Just focus on the cute pink bunny and be glad my children at long last have somewhere comfortable to sleep.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Talky talky

On the way to drop Vivian off at school today, Isaac and I had the following "conversations":

Why are all the cars stopped, Mom?
Why is there traffic?
Why does everyone go to work?
Why is this a freeway?
Why can't I go to school with Vivi?
Why does red mean stop and green mean go?
What is that smell?
Why don't they like Halloween?
Why is that a ghost?
I don't see Thomas.
I see a Jack O Lantern! I see Halloween!
Why can't I go to school today?
Can I go to Nonie's house?
Can I go to Nonie's house and Vivi can't go to Nonie's house?
Vivi, you can't go to Nonie's house; only I get to go to Nonie's house.
Why isn't that nice?
When does Vivi get to go to the hospital?
When Vivi's balls don't go down then she will go to the hospital where they wear masks and then Vivi won't go to school. Right, Mom?
Why doesn't Dr. L let me go to school?
Why can I not run and jump because of my owies?
Why do we need to get gas?
Why are you running out of gas?
Why does the engine need gas to go?
Is that a gas station?
Can I get out at the gas station?
Why is there gas at a gas station?
Why do you hold the door if your hands are full?
I will hold your door for you, okay Mom?
Let me do it.
Can we go to the old house?
Why can we not get out?
Why is it dangerous at a construction site?
Why are those people there?
Why are they working on our house?
Why are they building our house here?
Why don't we build our new house at the new apartment?
I don't want to live at the new house; I like the hot tub at the apartment.
Why don't we have a hot tub at the new house?
Why did you want a big house and not a hot tub?
Why is that gardener there?
Why is he wearing a mask?
I don't like masks.
Is Riley going to school today?
Ooooh. I want to go to school. I miss him!
Is that Daddy's work?
Why is it a work day?
Where is your work, Mommy?
Why is this your work?
(I'm sure there were more but this is all I can remember now. 30 minutes roundtrip.)

We are finally home and he is mercifully quiet, watching Bob the Builder for the six millionth time in two days.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Isaac: I want to go to Bob's and buy stuff, Mom.
Me: Really. Do you have your money?
Isaac: Yeah. I have money.
Me: Where did you get it?
Isaac: From Vivian's penny bank.
Me: Oh. Why was it in Vivian's penny bank? Why not yours?
Isaac: Because I had money and I put it in Vivi's penny bank.
Me: What's wrong with your penny bank?
Isaac: I have quarters in there and money and decaf lattes.
Me: ??
Isaac: Yeah, decaf lattes. Can we go to Bob's?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Love Letter

"Happy Anniversary, Amy!

8 years . . .wow! Who'd a thunk? Challenging as it seems at times, I wouldn't change it for the world. I love you. I love our family. I love our scenario and am excited for the future! Let's keep strong and prosper together for another 8 (and then some) years. I love you.


Happy Anniversary

(Speaks for itself, no?)

Apartment livin'

We officially moved into the new apartment Sept. 16th, and have now spent a total of 7 nights here. So far

The hot water heater has been working properly for 1 of those days (today).
The toilet has clogged twice.
The fire alarm has gone off every time I have turned on the oven (twice) and about half the time I've used the stove (approx 5 times)
The large dog that lives downstairs has awoken at 6:15 am and barked nonstop for 30 minutes three times.
Some drunk lady has screamed at the top of her lungs "OPEN UP THIS FUCKING DOOR" for 10 straight minutes at 3:15am once.
The kitchen light has had to be replaced once.
The washing machine has not cleaned ANY dirt off clothes, even after I run them through more than once.

Did I mention that this place was at the top of our price range? It's costing us more to rent here than the mortgage on our house! (But not nearly as much as the new mortgage). It's a new building, so they obviously have some bugs to work out, but Jesus. Oh, and there is no recycling. By law they have to provide it so they've set up this makeshift, stinky spot on the first floor, which only a few people seem to use. I would bet good money that the maintenance people simply take our recyclables and dump them in the trash when no one's around.

However, there are some good things about this place:

The pool and hot tub. Kids LOVE it, which makes for a very convenient playground.
Two bathrooms. I had no idea how nice it would be to get the kids out of my bathroom.
Large closets. We are missing a linen closet and a broom closet, but the two bedroom closets are so big, it makes up for it. Very nice to be able to spread out things out a little bit.
Proximity to new stores. This area is all new, hundreds of apartment buildings all next to each other, so many new grocery stores etc have put in huge new stores. It's very convenient, except to get to pre-school.
Everything is new, and therefore clean. No one has lived in this unit before, so the walls, carpets, appliances, counters--everything--is spic and span.
The best thing about the move so far? All the toys that the kids never played with before are suddenly tons of fun. I'm not sure why, maybe blocks are more fun in a new environment? But it's been great the last few days, as the kids basically entertain themselves.

It's nice to know this is only temporary housing--it makes all the annoyances less annoying. I'd be extremely pissed if we were planning on living here for any extended length of time. The barking dog--that needs to stop soon. But the rest of it I suppose I can live with.

I just keep reminding myself that in less than a year, we'll be back in our new, beautiful house. We are almost doubling the square footage of our old house, to a grand total of 2700. It will feel like a mansion to me, no doubt. They've already started work on it, and I've been stopping by in the mornings after I drop the kids off at pre-school to check out the progress. Here's a few pictures, to give you an idea:

On Tuesday:


And here's one from the "Draw on the walls party" we had before we left for Hawaii:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hawaii is Heaven

First of all, I need to plug our little hotel in Maui. The Mauian is surprisingly affordable (Hawaii is tres, tres* expensive), steps from the beach, and completely clean and comfortable. Each small "studio" holds a queen bed, a daybed, a bathroom, kitchenette and balcony or deck. No TVs or telephones or anything remotely fancy, but it was clean. And did I mention? Steps from the beach. They held a continental Hawaiian breakfast every morning in the great room, which also boasted a bookshelf full of guilty beach reading, and a TV, if you just had to have your Sportscenter fix. Many of the people who were staying there had been coming for twenty-plus years, and some who had brought their children years before were now bringing grandchildren. The vibe of the place is completely down-home and friendly, and I loved it. If you're looking for pampering, this is not the place for you, but for us it was perfect. I would stay there again in a heartbeat.

My in-laws stayed next door, at a fancier resort (though still not ultra-fancy--probably two steps up from The Mauian. It seemed very nice, too.) The truth is, in Hawaii, you tend to spend a lot of time on the beach, or in the ocean--so the rooms don't really matter that much. I'd go with the $200 cheaper place per night everytime, especially as the two hotels share the same (spectacular) beach.

Isaac loved the pool of course, but most of all he loved the kids that were also staying there or next door. Lauren, Kelsey, Matthew, Gavin: he was never happier than when running across the green with anyone of them. He also braved the ocean several times, getting tumbled once or twice yet hopping up with a smile on his face. Vivian, of course, stayed as far from the surf as possible, but she played happily enough in the sand, several yards away.

I won't bore you with a million details of Maui--it was all good, and there's not much more I can say about it. We wore out our mouth muscles smiling, drank Mai Tai after Mai Tai, soaked up the sun and explored a teeny bit. I read several books--nothing worthwhile, but enjoyable all the same. Lance's brother and his wife (the nice ones) were their usual easy-going selves, my in-laws were on their best behavior, and Lance and I didn't even fight that much.

We stayed in Maui four days, and then headed off to Kauai for a week. More on that to come.

DSC05974 DSC05966 DSC05988

*Anyone know how to do those little accent thingys?

In other news, I visited a good friend today (my old roommate, from the San Francisco days) whose wife had a baby while we were in Hawaii. Ah, newborns! I couldn't help tearing up, just touching his teeny tiny toes. And his soft downy head. And the silly mewing noises he made. Is there anything sweeter than a newborn? Both parents are head over heels gaga over their son (1st baby) which is really special to see, too. Remember that? When you just can't stop staring at this baby you've created? When the miracle is so fresh and all your emotions are so ripe and overwhelming? Ah.
Most of all, though, I was struck by how in awe the parents were of each other. At different times during our visit, I was alone with each of them, and they both had nothing but nice things to say about each other. "She is such a good mom, Aim. I just . . . I just can't even believe how well she handles everything . .." "Alex has been so amazing. He does laundry, he cooks, he changes diapers, he is so involved, and he wants to be. I am just so glad that he's the one I married."

Today is my 8 year wedding anniversary to Lance. As I sat there today, holding that perfect infant and listening to my two friends overflow with love, I remembered feeling the same way. Feeling so positively blessed to have him in my life. Feeling like the luckiest person on the planet. How we got from there to here--a place where arguing comes more naturally than loving--I'm not really sure. But I need to do some work to find my way back. And it starts tonight. Hawaii was a good start, and now the real work begins.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moving is hell

Why? Oh, I'll tell you.

1. No matter how many boxes you beg, borrow and steal, you always need more. Usually at the very end of the day, when you just can't face going out to forage for more. That means moving into the new swanky apartment building carrying your things in black Hefty bags. Classy.
2. The paper you wrap all your breakables in makes your hands black with newsprint, and leaves smudges on all the dishes you unwrap at the new place.
3. Trying to figure out which items go into deep storage for 6-9 months and which items you will need at the apartment makes your brain implode, and causes you to pack the box of Lance's sweaters into the pod, and bring two sleeping bags with you to the new apartment.
4. Trying to fit all your belongings into a smallish storage container and smallish UHaul truck requires much forethought--much more than you give it, which means you must move things out of the storage container and re-pack, several times.
5. Although the garage sale nets a surprising $600 (!!); haggling with strangers over your crap for 6 hours is no fun ("I won't take less than $5! . . . Alright, just give me a $1. Or, fine!--Jesus! Fifty cents!").
6. Keeping the kids entertained and out of danger while you make trip after ever-fucking-lasting trip to the car, to the apartment, back to the house, is impossible. (Fortunately, the ever-brilliant Heidi helped out for much of the afternoon.)
7. What is one supposed to eat when all the food is packed in boxes?
8. Selling your refridgerator for $130 is a pretty good deal, since it came with the house, but selling it on Friday, 24 hours before you get into the new apartment, is not so smart. Coolers do not make good freezers. Soggy chicken nuggets, anyone?
9. The nice men you pick up from the Home Depot lot will definitely ease much of the pain of moving, but when they break your dining room table in half, there's not much you can do about it. I'm afraid they're not exactly insured.
10. Although the nice day laborers do most of the heavy lifting, there is still much carrying and stretching and pulling, which means your already fragile back will ache well into your Hawaiian vacation. (Vivian's new favorite whine? "My back hurts, Mama!")
11. Why does it always happen that your apartment is the absolute farthest away from the elevator?
12. When your husband leaves at 3:30pm, to go to the football game, the babysitter he hired is a help, but doesn't do a whole lot to alleviate the resentment you feel burning away your stomach lining as you survey the apartment, drowning in boxes.
13. Especially when, the next day, he actually gets annoyed at you, for being resentful.
14. When, at 7:30pm on moving day, the kids are finally asleep (on an air mattress and the pack n' play) and you have unpacked most of the kitchen, so you decide to rest for the evening, you turn on the TV only to find that although cable guy spent 40 minutes there setting it up, there is no reception. The phone is not hooked up, and your cell phone is dead, no charger to be found.
15. So, you decide to take a hot shower instead--but there is no hot water. And no phone with which to call the emergency maintenance number, nor access to the computer to find such a number. As there is no light by which to read a book--a book which you wouldn't be able to locate amongst the boxes anyway, this puts you in bed at 8pm, dirty, sweaty and pissed off.

See? Hell.

(Fortunately, that hell was followed quickly by the Hawaiian vacation from heaven, so it's all good.)


We're home--well, home to our new apartment, surrounded by boxes, anyway. I think I'm going to do this everytime I go away--post naked butt pictures of my kids when I return. Good for increasing traffic, no?

Hawaii was incredible, the move was hell, and I have lots to tell.

I've missed you all.

More later . . . Posted by Picasa