Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On the Bargaining Table

Tom wants to keep trying for another baby.  I wanted to stop last month, but said we could try this month, too.  It didn't happen.  So I approached my husband the other night and broke the news.  We talked a little about where we each stand on the matter.  Both sides have good reasoning, both are right.  Mad was quite ill and interrupted the conversation with her cries for love and infant Tylenol.  (She seems to be doing much better today, thanks.)

After giving it much thought, I decided that I'd be willing to try until December.  Don't tell him, though.

My husband's a rascally one sometimes, especially when a conversation might start with, "We need to talk."  (Seriously?  I don't use that... anymore.  Never quite worked like I hoped it would.)  So today I cornered him on the phone and threw down the gauntlet.  Sort of.

Did you know that Tom loves sports?  Well he does.  He was a sports writer outside of Chicago when we met.  Despite his relatively moderate feelings for some of the big sports, the man has a fantasy team going at every moment of the year.  One of the things he laments every year is that people never get together for the drafts.  I think it's the face-to-face interaction and especially the bargaining and bartering for players.  You might not have known that about Tom, but I did.

Here was my opening offer:  "I'm willing to try for two more months.  If it doesn't happen, we can be sad about it, but that's it.  Oh, and if it does happen, we get to find out the sex of the baby."

I'm "letting" him (ha!) take his time on the counter-offer, but I expect it'll be good.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Looking Up

If you've ever checked out my deviantArt page, it will be no surprise that I love to photograph the sky.  I didn't get to do that at home much where we used to live, and had to rely on family vacations and camping trips.  The fact that we had Mad and bought a house has put a temporary damper on the amount time we get to spend "out there."  (It also means my site has only gotten two new photos in the past year... grr!)  So thank goodness we chose this place.

Here's what humidity looks like in my backyard:

This is the same night, facing the opposite direction.  To me it looks like the fake backdrop at Universal Studios or Knott's Berry Farm.

Here's a different night.  I am frequently out during sunset as well as sunrise (can you say, "No rest for the weary"?).  They often look just like this, the only difference is which side of the sky is more purple and which is more orange.

This is the tree that Tom and I want to put in our front yard.  It's called a Desert Willow or Desert Orchid.  In our former home area, olive trees are abundant.  They also have multiple trunks and can grow wide as well as tall.  Remember Gary the drummer?  It's in his yard.  His mom (yes, Ladies, the man who once wowed Florence Henderson lives with his mother) is apparently thinking of taking it out, so there's a chance we could get this one.  If not, our favorite landscaper is right around the corner and he's got them (a lot younger, of course). 

This next photo shows something I came across several months back.  The first time I did, I wanted to stop and take a picture.  I have to go near here once a month for a committee meeting at the local library.  One of my teammates for this committee, Lisa, and I collaborate each month to get our share of the workload done.  The first time I had her in my car, I made sure to drive by.  Her gasp was audible the first and second times we drove by.  We had another meeting last week.  I can't believe it's really real and have to drive by every time I get the chance.  This time we both whipped out our phones.  Lisa and I were a little uncomfortable stopping for so long.  All the same, for this
we even turned around and took pictures from the other side.  Sadly, this is the best shot... and it washes out the color.  That's right, I'm saying that this photo doesn't do justice to the house.  It is the brightest Halloween orange and neon green EH.VER.  On a house. 

I hear a song.  Do you hear it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Corey and the Baby

Of course I intend to continue telling the journey of Mad's beginning, but today I saw something that reminded me I need to talk about Corey's side of the whole thing.  So I'm going to start with part of the story after Mad was born, bring you up to today and then go back.

Corey was deathly afraid of Madelyn at first.  He was so afraid of hurting her, scaring her, scarring her.  He was close enough to hear her very first cry and I think it made him feel even more vulnerable than he usually does.  It took a couple weeks for him peek in at her while she was sleeping.  She was about 10 weeks old before he had to hold her for the first time (outside of the time my mother-in-law practically forced him into a brother/sister shot when she was a week old), and that was because I was injured and virtually immobilized.  Lucky for him, my mother-in-law arrived the same morning (albeit in a full leg cast... we were a pair, ha!).  When he did work up the nerve to pick up and carry his baby sister outside of dire need, it was always in a methodical pacing until he could hand her back to me.  Anxious would probably be the best word to describe his demeanor.  My dad would use a different terminology: scared shitless sounds like what he'd say.

Today we had some of our Mommy Group friends over, along with some new friends Mad and I made at the park this summer.  By the end of the day, we had nine adults and four very little kids here.  Mad, her birthday sharing pal Luke Skywalker (no, I'm not joking) (no, really, that's the kid's name) (stop laughing!) (well he's really cute and funny, so he'll charm his way out of trouble, that's how), park pal Scotty and his baby sister Lilly, plus all the parents, my mom and a close friend.

Naturally, Lilly woke from her nap just as Mom and Dad were getting ready to eat.  I held her for them.  Lilly and I bonded with the baby in the mirror for quite a while.  Corey came to hang out.  We talked about how hard it already is to recall Mad at that age or size.  I turned away from the mirror to see my relaxed son smiling at this little baby.  He's that way with Mad now, but back then, even when he was smiling at her, he looked tense.  I commented, "It's a lot easier when it's not your own sister, huh?"  He smiled at me and shrugged in a way that said he's a young man with a little life experience under his belt.  He seemed so confident that I wanted to offer to let him hold her.  Since Lilly isn't my baby, I didn't.  I wonder how he would have reacted.

When Tom and I confirmed that we were expecting (early August 2007), he insisted on waiting to tell anybody until his parents came out to visit mid-September.  It was especially hard not to tell some people.  I wasn't sure how Corey would react, so postponing that wasn't bad.  It helped that I only dealt with a mild, but persistent nausea (okay, it lasted nearly five months and sometimes it was a matter of shear willpower not to vomit, but I won and now prefer to recall that it was mild).

Corey has almost always wanted a sibling.  When he first started talking about it around age four, I lovingly but firmly told him that I wasn't married anymore and wasn't having a baby unless I was married.

***Let's be clear, I don't care what choices you make or why you make them.  If it works, it works and I say don't mess with it.  Despite being raised by hippie parents, I was also influenced greatly by my Baptist grandparents.  They were two of the best people I know and some of the way they lived rubbed off.

It came up several times over the intervening years.  I never promised nor pretended that I thought I would have another baby.  When Tom and I got engaged, the subject of siblings came up again.  At that point in our relationship, anything felt possible, but all I would say to Corey is, "I don't know."  I was a little surprised that he was still interested.  It's not your typical 12-year-old boy way of thinking.  Of course, Corey has rarely been typical.

I wanted Corey to know before anyone else.  The night before Tom's parents arrived we sat down in the living room and told him we had some big news.  He was very happy and guessed it right away.  I say "guessed" even though I'm not entirely sure he didn't already know.  We had quite a lot of trouble with Corey breaking into our room at the old apartment, and I suspected that he'd been in through our bathroom window again.  I didn't let it bring down the mood and never brought it up.

He was absolutely thrilled and we were both relieved.  Probably I was most relieved as I have worried about him feeling pushed to the side if it became Mom, Dad and Their Baby.  Corey was inspired to write a lullaby for his new brother or sister.  (He plays classical guitar.)  I don't know if he ever played it for her, but I know he worked on it for a couple of months.

Once it was out in the open with Corey, certain things changed for me.  Because of my history of miscarriages before Corey, the doctor did recommend a lifting restriction.  As far as Corey was concerned, I was not to carry anything.  This made grocery shopping and carrying in fabulous

***Okay, one time I bought some 2.5 gallon water jugs at the groc and accepted the bagger's offer to carry things out.  I felt like a fool, even after I explained.  I still feel like a fool.  I mean, seriously, how do you think the water jugs got into my cart?!?

Corey and I had plans to strip and reseal our dining table.  I had to stand inside, behind our closed sliding glass door wearing a mask to direct him (yeah... that worked... well, I guess it did... he did a great job).

As my belly grew, Corey was somewhat fascinated, but did not really want to see it, feel it, talk about it or listen to the heartbeat at the doctor's office.  There were a few times when he felt the baby move and even a couple of times when he watched as she hopped around or had hiccups.  He never said it was gross.  His adjectives were more along the lines of creepy, weird and alien.  I could see that he was nervous for me and for his Bruster (brother + sister = Bruster).  One of his biggest concerns from the get-go was that he would be stuck delivering the baby.

Over time I addressed his various concerns through discussions (whether he wanted them or not!), anecdotes about how things went when I was pregnant with him and classes.  Corey attended the hospital tour, infant care and infant/child/adult CPR classes with us.  He has always been quite firm in two things, "I'm not changing diapers" and, "Please don't leave me alone with the baby."  The only thing he did not attend was prepared childbirth.

If you recall a big wind blowing through your neighborhood in January 2008 (when the last class began), that was probably just Corey sighing with relief.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh, Coffee Day

Hi.  My name is Shan.  I'm an addict.

*together now*  Hi Shan!

When I was a grade schooler, Mom used to very rarely let us drink coffee.  Her version of coffee for us kids was about 2/3 milk, probably way too much sugar and a little coffee.  I loved it.  After she and my dad divorced, I can't recall coffee ever being made in the home.  We were hot tea drinkers.

The first job I had where coffee making was involved happened when I was early 20's.  I worked at a machine shop as a job coach for adults with developmental disabilities.  Making coffee wasn't part of my job, but since I occasionally had a cup, it seemed fair that I should make some, too.  Plus it was extremely easy.  The coffee was pre-measured and the machines were actually hooked up to the waterlines.  All I had to do was change the filter, add coffee, flip the switch and wait a nano-second to get my cup filled. 

I'm pretty sure angels sang, "Laa haaaaaa!"

My next job was as doing vocational assessments.  Over the span of five years, I went from drinking coffee once or twice a month to two cups a day, plus the occasional "coffee zing" from down the street.  (Not familiar with a coffee zing?  It's chocolate and coffee ice creams, with pieces of brownies, milk and coffee... my mouth is watering and that place has been closed for about 8 years.)  With a standard pot, I finally learned how to make coffee for real.  A coworker gave me her little pot to use at home, and I could do that, too.

I should probably mention that I have a history of heart palpitations.  Once they were so bad that things actually went black and I saw stars.  Caffeine's not really recommended for a person like me.  Additionally, I am generally hyper-sensitive to the effects of caffeine, meaning that I become really hyper and act like a damn fool.

When my daily habit started creeping up to three cups a day, I knew it was time to give it up.  So I did.  For three weeks.

You know how it is with addicts; something happens and they fall off the wagon.  So it was.  I think the wagon might have rolled over me a few times.

My office was slowly being dismantled.  First we lost our student worker.  The GED teacher gave notice and headed off to New York.  Then two of our examiners were chopped.  The axe finally fell on the rest of us by the end of that spring.  Only one coworker, Carrie, and I had bumping rights.  As single mothers, we regretted having to force someone else out of work, but had to protect our kids first (fortunately, neither of us caused actual unemployment... "just" havoc).  After several weeks in limbo, and with a massive packing up of our offices before us, I finally broke down and had my first cup of coffee in three weeks. 

Then another.

I couldn't sit in my seat for longer than a minute or two, and could definitely not talk slower than that guy from the old Federal Express commercials.

*cue phone ringing*

Carrie (she was our receptionist):  Shannon, it's for you.  Jackie somebody.  I think she's from XYZ.  She could be your new boss!"  I spent about .5 seconds doing what were supposed to be some deep cleansing breaths before answering.

As six years have passed since that conversation, I don't recall all of the details.  I do recall coming off as almost excited about everything (which I wasn't), and having to force myself to slow down.  I gave some lame-assed excuse like, "I can tell this is a shock for you, and I understand.  But we've been dealing with this in some form for four months, so I'm probably at a different place in the grieving process."

***I don't normally spew that sort of stuff, but it was all based in reality and it did seem to keep our conversation more positive than not.

During the economic boom, I was eventually sucked into the Starbucks community.  I was there at least once a week because one of my sign classes happened at one.  It turned out that Nance was a pretty big fan of Starbucks, too, so we frequented them together.

Baristas at no fewer than seven Starbucks knew our faces, our orders and frequently, our names.  One of them, Ed, said that I looked like Nicole Kidman (I've heard it before, too, but have to say that the resemblance could have only been fleeting (and non-existent now).  We heard rumors about Ed; that he'd been a host of Fear Factor in the UK and whatnot.  We knew he was married with a lovely wife he adored and twins on the way.  We were surprised, but not shocked when he suddenly showed up on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

***I ran into him and his family a few months after his hand was injured on the show.  Not only had it been quite a while since I'd seen him, I was out of context.  He had no clue who I was.  I became that person when I said... in front of his wife, child and some other adults, "You said I look like Nicole Kidman, remember?"  Pardon me while I vomit in my mouth a little.

As soon as I figured I might be pregnant with Mad, I quit caffeine altogether.  That meant no coffee, no iced tea, no chocolate.  For a baby I can do what I won't do for myself.  At Starbucks I switched to a vanilla steamer (hot milk with vanilla).

As the nation's economy has tanked, so have our own wallets tightened.  Nance has discovered that she loves McDonald's coffee.  I don't go there on principle... and because the Quarter Pounder with Cheese might actually win.  Plus, they don't make decaf drinks.

Corey and I have rediscovered the joy that can come from a well "brewed" gas station "cappuccino" machine.  For what my drink used to cost at Starbucks, he and I can each get something yummy.  However, they don't have steamed milk at gas stations, and I've found that the existence of decaf is hit or miss.  Plus I now have to leave  at 6:15, whereas before we moved, I was getting up at 6:45.

Coffee, oh coffee, wherefore art thou?

We have been trying to save more money lately, so even gas station coffee is out most of the time.  A few days a week I brew a pot at home.  Since I've got a full-sized pot now, I'm having a hard time figuring out how much coffee to put in for a half-pot.  Every once in a while, Tom will pick up a four-pack of bottled Frappuccinos.  I love him more every time.

Yesterday I didn't brew.  And I forgot the Frappuccino.  I remembered while I was still in our neighborhood, but I figure our neighbors already think we are the forgettingest people out there, so I refused to go back.  The good gas station coffee is about three miles away and across the freeway from us.  Not too far out of the way (just the across-the-freeway-and-back part), but would require pulling Mad from her seat.

I haven't had much luck lately buying coffee down the hill.  It's all funky and weird or downright bad.  Trying to recall where I'd enjoyed gas station coffee years back I recalled that Arco was always good.  I don't go there because the gas is bad, but in a coffee emergency?  Hey, I'm there!

I didn't try it until I was out of the lot and heading to my office.  There was no time to go back when I realized it was awful!  I consoled myself with thoughts of the admittedly bitter coffee at work.

By the time I hit the pots, the coffee was cold.  Like freezing cold.  I'm not sure if it was left out from the night before or if something had happened to the machine (we are forever going through coffee makers).

No coffee for me.  Add to it that my allergies are freaking rampant right now.  I sneezed 11 times in a row the other morning.  Caffeine, in this case, is beneficial.  It helps open the sinuses.

By the end of the day I knew I'd be taking the next day off.  Was it my allergies or was it the bad coffee day?  Who knows?  Who cares?  I spent the day sleeping, sneezing and blowing my lovely red crack-addict looking nose.  Tomorrow, however... there will be coffee.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sold Me Down The River

A week ago Corey mentioned that he had a bunch of tickets to sell.  "Could we please buy one?"

"Uh... what are they for?"

"The car wash."


"Oh, I forgot to tell you we're having a car wash for band."

Fast forward to Wednesday.

"Mom, think I might have to stay after school tomorrow.  Or go and come back.  I'm not sure."


"We have a night practice.  It's from 5:00 to 8:00."

"Dad's game is at the same time.  I'll be able to take you and pick you up this week, but not every week because Mad'll be asleep by then."

Fast forward to today, when I met "Mom" (Band Mom Velda).  She started talking about all the exciting things happening over the next couple of weeks. 
  • Like the breakfast at Applebee's tomorrow.
  • The 6:00 10:00 A.M. Saturday practices.
  • The Friday night games.
  • The bracelet fundraiser that's going so well.
  • The opportunity drawing for an IPod.

When Mom saw my completely clueless expression, she handed over her copy of all the festivities and required events.

She and I parted so I could call Tom and ask him to bring more cash stat.

When I was approaching the car washing merriment, Corey was amid a group of teens and adults.  It was then Velda called Corey out.

"Corey, why didn't your mom know about the games and practices and whatnot?"

Did Corey say, "Because I never hand over things until three days after they needed to be turned in."?  No he did not.  He began with:

"Because my dad has baseball on the same night and he really wants me to be there.  And my mom insists... she's like religious about watching the game.  She doesn't even want to watch my sister.  She makes me..."

As I pondered the fact that we attended TWO games last season (during the first one Corey and I traded shifts pulling Mad around in her wagon... during the second, I followed Mad around while Corey wandered away from everybody else so he could text girls until I had him wander behind Mad so I could actually watch the freaking championship game) and the ONE game we've attended so far this season (and by we I mean Mad and me since Corey was at the night practice), I shouted out, "Corey, I can hear you."

Looks like I'm still hung up on the high IQ score that he got in third grade.  Maybe I'm mixing up potential with reality.  Whatever.  The boy is just not as bright as I thought, apparently.

He tried to go on.  Velda, Mr. Sanders and the kids were chuckling at Corey's lame attempts to accept responsibility.  Me?  For me, it's just one more instance in a long line.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is My Mouth Bleeding?

No, really.  Is it?

This afternoon Corey and I took his Junior Air Force ROTC uniform to a tailor, Teresa (of Teresa's, maybe you've heard of her... no?) for some alterations.  Teresa is an Asian woman, maybe mid-to-late 40s (which, I realize, could mean she's 60... some people have all the good genes!).  She has an accent, but is not hard to understand.

She is straight out of a sketch comedy show.  And I think she knows it, too.

When we walked in, Teresa was "helping" one customer, while a teenager waited to have her Homecoming gown fitted.  Because I knew I'd never get right if I didn't... and because I had to have something else to focus on... I wrote down some snippets of her conversation with the first customer.

I should point out that the first customer, whom Teresa said was Indian (she had an accent, too, but not like from India, so I'm not clear what was meant), had a pile of the most hideous clothes and one top that looked lovely.  What's my definition of "most hideous"?  How about a so-shiny-I-thought-it-was-beige-vinyl blazer with dark brown velour leaf patterns all over?  The customer wanted it smaller, tighter and with shorter sleeves.

Not bad enough?  Well then, what about a skirt that looks like it's from a 70s style version of Little House on the Prairie?  Only it's partially a dark orangey-red, small flower print, part baby blue and hot pink indescribable print and quite ruffly.  I have no idea what she wanted done to or with this piece.

There was more, but I want you able to sleep tonight.

The lovely top was all white sheer cotton with lace cutwork on the front.  She wanted a blue ruffly panel in the front and ruffles like the skirt around the bottom, "but not too much."

Teresa nearly exploded at her, "Why you do that?!  You just give me hahd time.  That look tacky.  You not want look tacky.  Want look nice."

But the woman was insistent.  She wanted what she wanted.

Teresa told her, "Better off go buy new.  If look bettah aftah, then do.  If worse to fix, don't do."  Pretty sound advice, right?

There was no dissuading the woman, no matter how hard Teresa tried.  "I want make money, sure, but it principle."

She followed up with, "You ruin my reputation."

Turns out the woman's daughter sent her the clothes... and that the daughter had made them.  It put the crazy woman in a different light to me, but crazy still shines.  The other mom in there and I did wonder if her daughter actually likes her.

After she left, the teen girl tried on her adorable dress.  It was too big in the chest area.  Way too big, according to the girl's mom and Teresa.  But they don't want it taken in all the way, because the girl is going to use "enhancements" to fill it out a little.  While that conversation was happening, Corey was trying on his uniform pants so he could be fitted.  It took about three times longer than normal and he came out all red in the face.

Teresa very kindly stopped helping the girl, took care of Corey and let us leave.

It was school errands night, apparently, so we hunted down a drum studio.  Corey now has a new cow bell, tambourine (that lights up when he plays... he thinks it's pretty sweet... I'm just glad it takes AAA batteries instead of something funky) and a 17" Zildjian cymbal.  The stand and mallets are on order.  It will become a suspended cymbal.  If you have any clue what that means, you're a few steps ahead of me.  All I know is that, because it was used, we got about 60% discount and it has an amazing sound. 

When it came to ordering the mallets, Gary told Corey about these timpani mallets that he likes to use on cymbals to build the crescendo.  Apparently they come in a variety of densities.

"You can get them soft."
*long pause*
"Or you can get them medium hard."
*long pause*
"Or... you can get them... uh... hard."

That was the moment I was pretty sure my teeth were going to bust through my cheek.  I turned away and found some celebrity photos on the wall.  

Gary was on tour with Florence Henderson.  Did you know she was on tour?  The "Hot Ladies Tour" or something like that.  I'm not even kidding.

I tried not to perseverate on whether "hot ladies" referred to their high self-esteem or if it had to do with menopause.

It was hard to breathe, but we wrapped it up and moved along.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good and Bad

Today Nance mentioned that she'd checked her house on zillow again.  I know she's concerned about the value of her house dropping.  Hopefully it's slowed and will turn around soon.

I hadn't bothered to check ours because, hello!, we've been here not quite six months and the housing market sucks.  But she's mentioned it a couple of times over the past few months and today I decided to peek at our estimated home value (they call them "zestimates"... is it just me or is that lame?).  To my surprise and mild delight, we have equity.  Considering that a house three doors down just sold for $98 grand, I'm impressed.

If I could have only left well enough alone... but no.

The address book was sitting right here.  So I checked out some of my friends' home values.  Except for Nance and one other, I have no idea what anybody paid.  The "one other" is currently down about $30 grand.  How am I going to look her in the eye? 

Okay, enough over-dramatizing, but seriously.  I feel like a snoop.  Because I snooped.  I have stepped away from the phone book.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We went to a birthday party. I slept. The end.

We had a pretty full weekend, how about you?

Saturday we attended a birthday party for one of Madelyn's friends.  Seth is on a different nap schedule than Mad, so we left for the party almost an hour after it started.  She didn't sleep that late, but had to have lunch first.  Then in a nod to her newborn days, she had three dirty diapers in less than 20 minutes (pee, poop, pee, in case you were wondering).  As I trudged up the stairs for the last one, I told her, "No more peeing from you."  It was one of those World's Best Mother moments.

In a perfect world we would have been on time and I would have left after half an hour or so because Nancy's son was also getting married that day.  That was out of the question, so I just enjoyed the day.

***I talk about it like it was so much longer ago than yesterday.

The party was fabulous, as have been all of the first birthdays we've celebrated this year.  None of our friends are over-the-top, so the parties were all pretty similar.  Playing and eating, followed by cake and presents.

Corey doesn't always attend these things with us.  Last time, there were other older kids.  Not so much this time, so he spent the afternoon lounging in the yard and texting his friends.

Despite the heat, his own coolness dictated the all black, long-sleeved and jeaned outfit.

*** On a side note, can I just say I'm jealous at Steve and Maija's tomato bounty?  They threw them into this area of the garden because they "didn't landscape it this year."  We carefully planted tomato plant after tomato plant at our old apartment.  In three years we never saw 1/3 as many as you can see just in this photo.  And they must have had a dozen plants.  Yeah.  A little green right now.

This particular party was different, though, because of the amount of water involved.  In addition to a lily pond into which Mad threw many a pebble, there was a water table and a kiddie pool.
See how Mad's backside is minimally dry?  That was because she hasn't learned how to lift the pails out of the water table up and over enough to soak her entire body.  Her gleeful laughter was so enchanting, I forgot to take any pictures while she was doing it.

Hopefully Mad's rock throwing wasn't the cause of the dead goldfish found later. Personally, I think Bucket Head might have had something to do with it (not really, just trying to divert attention from the rock flying out of Madelyn's hand in the previous photo... and who doesn't love Buckethead?).
Isn't that a cool backyard?  It was helpful to hear Maija and Steve talk about what it looked like in the beginning and how long it took them to get it to this point (4 years!!!).  We also got some more landscaping tips.  That these people would be knowledgeable about landscaping and gardening is no surprise since they won the contest to design our backyard.

While enjoying their hospitality, Tom and I each engaged in what I refer to as shopping.  It's something we do when we're in a new environment.  I'm not entirely sure it's polite, either.  No, we didn't haggle with them over whether or not we could buy any of their belongings.

As I sat on the stairs (no baby gate at the bottom, so Mad was all over them) and Tom stood on the floor below (for those turn-arounds and no-we're-not-going-back-outsides), I spied their wine racks.  Three of them.  We have a space and we have a need.  I pointed them out to Tom.

"But only two for us, I think, with some other cabinetry."

He knew exactly what I meant and began to tell me about some pieces he's seen at work that might better fill our requirements.  (Tom works for a corporation that has a variety of housewares type stores.  I refuse to name them because I reserve the right to accurately call his boss a rat bastard at any given moment.)

On the trip home I asked what he thought of the dark walls in one bathroom and the hallway.  He hadn't noticed, but is apparently against more than an accent wall that dark.  (I wasn't sure what I thought of the color, to be honest.  I'll very likely love it next time I see it... it's certainly unique.)

It doesn't seem to be in the best taste to be dissecting one's friends homes, but we do it all the time.  And we're not alone.  Maija was telling me that she's been trying to convince her mom to paint her cabinets a similar color to ours.  It was all I could do not to pull out the color swatch that I happened to have in my purse so Maija could send it to Mom (no, really, there's a good reason it's there... I swear).  I was just so excited that someone else loves our color choice.  (The list of don't-love-its is growing, but we're standing firm.)

When we came home, I was exhausted.  I would like to believe that it's because I'm pregnant (highly unlikely), but I know it's just allergies.  Aside from the eyes... the nose... the sneezing and wheezing, I have sores in my mouth.  When this has happened in the past, I've usually had to increase the allergy meds.  However, I haven't taken any since suspecting I was pregnant with Mad.  Between pregnancy and nursing and trying to get pregnant again, there's just been no time to return to my daily meds.  Things haven't been too bad, but fall is coming on quick and I'm no longer pregnant or nursing.  Those two things give a woman some protection, believe it or not.

Yesterday evening I napped for a couple of hours and still had no trouble oversleeping this morning.  Today we straightened up the place a bit and had my mom over for lunch.  Afterward, we sat around watching Madelyn and trying not to fall asleep.  Apparently the gods have smiled down upon us and it was cool and windy here all day today.  Neither of the air conditioning units have been on since this morning.  All the windows are open.  That meant it was pretty windy in the house, too.  Mad's ball raced across the floor downstairs by itself a couple of times.

This evening I took what ended up being a four-hour "nap."  Considering that tomorrow's Monday, I've really screwed myself up here.  As it nears midnight, I'm only a little tired.  I wouldn't have slept that long, but it was cool enough that I eventually ended up getting under the covers.  That is the waking soon kiss of death in my world.  But that delicious breeze held me in it's clutches and I didn't want to be let go.

In retrospect, the start of this post isn't really accurate, is it?  So I've changed the title, too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Memory Lane

Every year I do not memorialize what happened on this day.  But I just finished reading several things that have brought up a lot of recollections of not so long ago.

My job at the time was all about vocational assessments.  Want a job, but not sure what you're good at?  Want a better job, but need more skills?  I could administer the assessments, evaluate the results and make recommendations that might even get you to your goals.  It was a great job.  I loved it.

Eight years ago I was getting ready for work in the morning, when I heard the news on the radio.  I don't remember the words.  I do remember understanding that the second plane was on purpose.

I wanted a little bit to turn on the television.  I'm not one to gawk at car accidents, so the urge wasn't that great.  Plus, one time I did turn on the TV only to find myself glued to a shoot-out with a group of heavily armed bank robbers in L.A.  The memory of watching people die and other people being terrorized quelled any desire to find out what CNN or the local news people would be saying.  And Corey was only eight years old.  He couldn't watch that.

***Oddly enough, whenever I do think about that day, Corey has always been five.  He must have become even smaller and more vulnerable because maybe that's how I felt, too.

My mind raced as I tried to figure out what to tell Corey.  I had to go to work.  I was expected to test about a dozen people.  Missing the day might mean burning sick time for me, but for them it could mean waiting until the next open test date... and then waiting to start school.  Corey had to go to school.  Kids would be saying things.

I debated calling Tom.  He still lived outside Chicago, where he was a student/employee at Northwestern.  He and I were in the midst of what I'd call a cranky period.  We were trying our best to make this long distance relationship work, but it wasn't working like it did in the beginning.  We'd been arguing rather a lot, and were in the midst of yet another row.  Part of me wanted to have him soothe my own fears.  Part of me wanted advice on how to help Corey through.  That second part was really looking for a way to make up for pushing us into another argument, I think.

I called and he was more interested in helping a girl in his office at first while we were talking, but back then we did tend to be a bit tit-for-tat.  So glad we are (mostly) not like that anymore.  All the same, that phone call is usually one of the first things I think of as I try to avoid imagining the horror experienced by the people in the planes and in the buildings.  We did end the call in a more unified manner.  I've since heard stories of the ignited passions and newfound or suddenly dropped loves caused by that day.  So many passionate stories, but ours was just another very common struggle to stay together.  Rather mediocre.  I've always felt a little gypped.

***Yes, I understand the bigger picture here.  All the same, that's not what this is about.

After we got off the phone, I talked with Corey.  I explained that something bad had happened with some planes crashing in New York.  We didn't know for sure what happened or why.  He was going to hear things at school from the other kids.  Some of it might be true, but a lot of it probably wouldn't be.  Anything that he wasn't sure of or that made him afraid should be run by me.

The drive to work was 26 miles of mostly open roads.  Every one of my clients (I always considered them testees, but that's probably a story for another day) showed up that day.  I wasn't sure if anybody didn't know what had happened, and I didn't want to stress them if they didn't.  What I wanted to be was calm, reassuring... I'm not entirely sure that's how I came off with my, "I'm sure we don't have to worry about anything happening here since we're in San-Freaking-Bernardino" speech, but whatever.  I'm never quite as smooth as I want to be.

They all stayed, worked hard.  If I recall correctly (who knows?), they all did well.  Once we were done, I was out of there.  Mid-afternoon and I recall being in one of five cars on the 215 freeway.  As most of us merged onto the 10, everybody gave way more of a cushion than you'd normally see even at  2:30 in the morning.  The sense was that we were all upset, but... and this next part is from someone who is not a fan of big-mouthed, small-brained patriotism... we were all Americans and we were going to get through this together.  Even if this was just the evening commute.

When I picked Corey up, I learned that he'd been told that L.A. was "next."  I pointed out that the person saying that couldn't possibly know it and added somewhat feebly that we weren't that close to Los Angeles.  I tried not to recall those late night, teenaged drives to my friends in Hollywood.  I could make it in 31 minutes.

The TV stayed off that night, too.  I didn't see the photos of people wedged up between those vertical outer walls for nearly six months.  I will still never forget them.

What were they thinking? 

What is it like to be in that sort of position and not live.  I mean, we hear all the time stories of facing down death and surviving.  Some of them must have expected as they pressed their hands and feet outward to remain attached to the building that a helicopter... King Kong... a magic carpet... something was going to save them.

How long were they aware of the descent?

When I look at the photos or videos of the giant grayish-white cloud clawing its way through Manhattan, I wonder how much of it was just alive a minute or two ago?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Mixed Bag

Well the rest of this Labor Day weekend was aptly named.  Between yesterday and today we managed to complete three projects on our list.

***Out of 55 projects, seven are complete; five are semi-complete.

Two of the three that were wrapped up included elevating our air conditioning units and organizing the pantry.  Neither was earth-shattering, but they are done.  I have a list on the computer.  It's nice when I can double-strikethrough something.  The third involved pulling out a bunch of slag concrete that was dumped when the house was built.  The previous owners never did anything to the backyard, so it's on us.

Corey and Tom have spent time over the past few months busting up the concrete with a sledgehammer.  We let it take that long because we didn't know what we'd do with it once it was out, but now we have a couple of options.  One is to have someone come pick it up for $51/ton.  A freaking bargain as far as I'm concerned.  The other is to load it into my Escape and unload it somewhere else (a concrete recycler, not just... you know... somewhere).  Although we're pretty sure it's not a ton, there is enough that we'd probably have to make three trips.  In my car.

Aside from that, serious progress was made on a couple of other big projects.  Our table is nearly ready for clear-coating.  Sure, I thought so last weekend, but once I got to see it in the light of day... not so much.  Before I can get to the clear coat, however, I've got to finish staining the underside.  Why?  Because I have a son who almost never finishes anything, and I'm preparing to break that cycle with my daughter.  I picture her in a couple of years asking why it was stained where no one will ever see.

"Because we do our tasks to completion," will be my response.

Yeah, I'm a planner.

Three out of eight chairs may also be ready for clear coats, but I won't know until next weekend.

In our backyard there is a slope.  It's not huge, maybe three feet tall.  It used to have a 5-6 foot level top with the incline taking another 3-4 feet.  The line has been drawn and a significant portion of that slope no longer exists.  Maisy's a little confused by the whole thing, but she'll be fine in... oh... three years or so when we finally complete the backyard.  (Please, oh, please don't let it take that long!!!)

I feel like I've made up for the extremely lazy Saturday.  Not sure if I'll ever make up for going out front without a bra, but whatever.

In Corey news, he still doesn't get why he was suspended.  I am not harping on it, but I agree with the school.  Even when we weren't working our tails off, he was.  He will be doing the same tomorrow at Grammy's house.  (I assume he will.  She said that was fine three days ago, but I'm awaiting confirmation.)  Not surprisingly, he is anxious to get back to school.

Mad has learned two new words today.  For Corey, she says, "Co."  There's a hint of R at the end.  When I had her show Corey, the expression on his face was absolutely priceless.  She's been saying some multi-syllabic form of brother for months, but this really got him in the heart.  And tonight she said, "Du!" which is short for dude.  Unfortunately, that's been how I've started out any exclamation when I'm annoyed, surprised or overly dramatic for the past few months.  She spent a few minutes saying it as she climbed up on new pieces of furniture (as in ones she can newly get atop).  In addition to a trunk, the couch and a cooler (furniture? well... for now), she can also get into her wagon.

In neighbor news, the first guy to come along and greet us when we moved in stopped by yesterday.  He's a nice enough guy, but seriously... I just don't think he understands life.  Or relationships.  Or the fact that everybody does not need to hear what race a person is to decide whether they are good or bad.

On his dating life:  It's not bad, but could be better.  I, who try not to give advice (okay, sure... it is mainly because I mostly don't want to hear too much advice from others), gave him a few key pointers.  One, figure out what you really want.  Write it down and make it clear to yourself.  Then you can look at a woman and know if she meets your needs and desires or not.  And two, you'd better wear a condom with that one.  (Standard advice for anyone dating a woman with three kids from multiple dads, I think.)  Not bad for our third conversation.

For the third time, he has identified someone by race first.  In this case it had to do with some new neighbors.  When they moved in, the people next to them apparently decided to move out.  To me, it shouldn't have anything to with their race.  The fact that they have pitbulls, play loud offensive music, drive loud cars and completely ignore any attempts at friendliness is enough.

On a side note (yeah, like this whole blog hasn't been one big side note from the start), I've switched to the new editor.  It seems okay except for one thing.  The colors are different.  For that alone I may switch back.  If anyone knows how to get a better selection of colors, please pass along the tip!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What Did You Do Today?

Um... nothing.

No, really. I'm still in my jams.

I did break my own cardinal rule about going to the front yard without a bra, but it was important. Corey wanted us to all check out the sun as it set through what doesn't seem like that much smoke lately.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Following Up

You ever have one of these weeks:

*Daughter falls and gets a concussion.
*You miss a day of work because you can't find your keys.
*Your son gets suspended for causing a fight. (Some girl said something obnoxious so he flipped her off. Her boxer boyfriend laid him out. Everyone's suspended.)
*During what was supposed to be a calm, rational discussion your son discloses, among other things, that he thinks his nose is broken. You don't think it is, but seek advice from his counselor while you've got him on the phone. Doc suggests making an appointment with the pediatrician in the morning (this may sound harsh, but he knows Corey's tendency to seek out attention). Just in case it really is broken, you call your insurance to find out where you can take him. His pediatrician is 50 miles away and it's after hours. Nearest urgent care? Well, your medical group doesn't have one up here. You can take him to the emergency room as long as you follow up with his physician.

"... follow up with her doctor..."

Crap. So today I was able to take Mad to the kids' doctor. I didn't take Corey because he no longer thinks his nose is broken and I agree. Aside from a bloodied lip and sore face, he's physically fine.

Doc was perturbed that a CT scan wasn't done last Sunday. So we're being referred to a neurologist.

And last but not least:
*Despite having talked with your mom for about 10 minutes immediately following Mad's appointment today, she emails you tonight to find out how it went. (And yes, I'm keeping track. This is the second time in a week she's forgotten part of a conversation we had. The other involved a story about a turtle she had as a child. I had vague recollections of hearing the story and asked her about it.

"Yes. We took those turtles to the zoo. Blah blah blah (maybe 5 minutes of turtle talk). Did I ever tell you we took them to the zoo?"

She also may have forgotten a conversation with Corey about having him stay at her place last weekend. I can't be sure about that one because it could have just been a difference in wording between her and Corey. Still, it's disconcerting.) Her birth father and his mother both had Alzheimer's. I'm hoping it's just stress. I mean, she's over 60, unemployed, does not qualify for unemployment because her last employer was a church (they're not required to contribute to unemployment insurance) and her health insurance is about to run out (the church has been kind enough to cover her since she was laid off in February). So it could definitely be stress, right?

Anyway, back to my original question. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Might As Well Call In Stupid

This morning, after nearly three hours of searching for my car keys, I sent off an email to the person who handles attendance at work. "I will be taking a sick day today." That was as close to the truth as I cared to get.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where they could possibly be! We do get a bit cluttery now and then, but all the prep work for this past weekend's get-together remedied that. There are miles of clean carpet and counters. The keys just weren't to be found.

Because of Corey's "explorations," we lock all rooms that might be big draws when we aren't able to supervise him. This includes our closets and bedroom doors, the laundry room, office, garage and one of the pantries. Fortunately, we have a ton of spare keys for those rooms, so I was able to look everywhere.

We also have a spare key to my car. In the seven years Tom has had a key to my vehicle, he has always opted to keep it at home. We recently discussed this again and I reminded him that he won't really want to drive all the way home to get the key to my car. Apparently he listened; that was gone, too.

I did find my keys eventually... in one of the closet doors. If I'd left for work right then, I would have gotten there halfway through my day, and I'd already called out.

Meh. It was nice to have another day with Mad.

Speaking of Concussion Girl, guess who learned how to climb up onto the couch all by herself today? Despite the fact that she's been scooting off from a seated position for a couple of months now, Mad has decided that it's more efficient to stand up and walk off. Going over the arm is also great fun. So Mama won't be going to the potty alone downstairs anytime soon, and there'll be no running back up to get that one last thing, either.
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