Monday, March 26, 2012

Subliminal Mad

Do you remember when Kevin Nealon was on Saturday Night Live and played Subliminal Man?


(This is where I would have inserted a YouTube video clip, but all I could find was this audio clip.)

So Kevin Nealon as Subliminal Man would tell a story while mumbling something hilarious and/or inappropriate.

Why do I mention this?  Because I'm pretty sure Madelyn has learned his technique.  Refined it, even.  Taken it to a nearly paranormal level.

The other day we were heading down the hill.  Both girls had cups of water to drink on the way.  We don't use sippy cups, but they only drink water, so it's fine if a (rare) spill happens.  Along the way, Madelyn mentioned that her hands needed a bath.  I looked in the mirror to find she had a hand in her cup.  Normally I don't allow this, but I had a lot of work-related crap on my mind and I let it go.

A few minutes later she said, "They have tears."

"What has tears?"

"The fingers on my left hand have tears."

"Are they sad or happy?"

"Um (hey moron!), I think they're just fingers."

And yes, that came complete with the look just in case I didn't catch her subliminal message.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fat and Jiggly... Like I'm Apparently Supposed to Be

This morning the girls went to Grandma’s house with Daddy. This way I could attend a local gardening class put on by a woman from the mommy group.
I had dreams of sleeping late. (In fact, I was dreaming about lost panties and planting seeds, but you know what I mean. Right?)
Tom brought Fynnie in to nurse around 3:30 this morning. He brought Madelyn in half an hour later to gather up the Fynn girl and get going.
Getting going takes about half an hour, even with my considerable help, and even with the girls heading out in their jams with a bag of clothes for the day.
Only the bag of clothes got left here. And Margaret and I had recently weeded through what she had to remove things the girls have outgrown. They have outgrown a lot. I haven’t replaced those things yet, so I couldn’t tell Tom to just keep going when he called seven minutes after leaving to say he was coming back.
By the time they were on the road again (do do doo do dooo), it was quarter to 5:00 and I was up. Thoughts of what I might do to fill the next four and half hours floated through my head.
I can exercise!
I could use some of those very ripe bananas and learn how to make banana bread!
I could…
The reality was messing around on Facebook, catching up on some banking and an earlier shower than I’d initially planned. Oh, and I used the face file to get rid of reduce the stray eyebrows on my chin. Exciting, I know.
The gardening class was awesome. And by awesome I mean it was freaking fantastic. We have almost 100 starters going already, and it was nice to know that everything but the winter squash mix (doh!) should do well. I am sitting here with a seed catalog that is, as the instructor said, full of gorgeous wall art.
And, because I am admittedly weird about things like this, I will tell you that the catalog smells great, too. There are a lot of modern printings that smell horrible. Nothing smells as good as old books, but this is a very nice alternative to the nastiness that is the modern paper. In case you were wondering.
On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. (And to curse my stupid phone that will only hold a charge for about six minutes if I, you know, use it. But that’s another story.)
Came home and reconsidered the list of things I could do. The first one, again, was exercising.
It’s a sad state of affairs, this body of mine. I had started using Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred a few months back. By started using, I mean I used it two days in a row. It was definitely painful effective. But it was hard. One hundred times worse than hard, it was boring. So a few weeks ago I bought a Zumba-like DVD called Rhythmica.
Where Jillian Michaels’ DVD is physically challenging because I’m rather weak and out of shape, Rhythmica is freaking impossible because… as it just so happens… I’m not a hip hop dancer. How did I not know this?!
I realized pretty quickly the Rhythmica DVD is beyond my capacity. (Seriously, I wasn’t even close to keeping up when he was doing what was apparently just the “let me slow it down and show you how we’re going to do this” segments. And then he’d take to triple time.)
Fortunately, one of the moms on my group recently posted a link to a series of free exercise videos on YouTube. And I saved the link in a new Favorites folder entitled Exercise. Because I am going to conquer this fat, jiggly ass. Right?! I stopped the DVD and clicked on the YouTube link.
Started exercising. Thirty seconds in or so, I was feeling confident that this was much more my speed.
And was thwarted by a loading error on AOL.
Switched to Google Chrome and can’t get it to load. (I’ve even tried a few times while writing this post into a Word doc since I can only post on here through Google.
I am beginning to wonder if it’s just the universe saying, “Sure, your ass is fat and jiggly. Keep it that way. I like it! It’s fun watching you stress over which pair of pants will make you least resemble a certain desert animal or TSA worker!”
That's my new story, I look this way for entertainment purposes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lost in My Daughter

Madelyn's fourth birthday is coming up soon. I am working on a photo book for her. It's not easy to fit four years of energetic and happy and studious life (make no mistake, she's watching!) into one book, but I'm trying. It's even more difficult when a certain someone who is not me, but who is the only other adult living in this homestead, has taken the old photo cards out of the monitor stand, where they had been since I owned a digital camera, and put them who knows where. (I don't mind them being moved, especially since we don't use the monitor stand anymore.  But can they all just go in one place that someone here remembers?)

Slightly sickening feeling when I remember pawing through some things he had set aside for recycling and trash a couple years ago.  In with the box from my first digital camera was a disk for it.  Once upon a time there were probably five or six such disks that captured much of Corey's youth and Tom's and my early years, but I only have that rescued one.


On top of those disks, almost all of which predate even my pregnancy with Madelyn, I was missing the card from her first six months at home.

I have a code for a free photo book.  It expires soon.  More importantly, Mad's birthday is coming up right after that!  And I have another coupon code that should cover any extra pages I might need in order to make four years fit into one book.  That coupon expires tonight.  (Yes, I should be working on it now.  I know!)

Tom and I had a brief discussion that... well... here's my status update last night:  
Happiness is having your husband find the photo card that has Madelyn from about two weeks to six months old. (Let's not talk about the open-mouthed stare I received when I pointed out that he had said he'd look for it a month ago. Or the rude remark he made about how I shouldn't go "tearing up the office" right before he went in and tore up the office and banged things around for half an hour. Aaand, since we're not talking about certain things, let's also not mention that I had already pulled the disk out of our desk, but thought it was something else and let it sit there, only popping it into the computer because he handed it to me along with the disk reader.) Happy, happy.
So yeah.  Tom handed me the disk I had located and it turned out to hold 1624 photos, almost exclusively of Mad's early days.  That's a lot of photos.  A lot of memories.  And yet, I needed more.

Why?  Because my old camera had crapped out about a week before Mad's arrival, and we didn't replace it until she was a couple weeks old.  Everything we have from those intervening weeks are crappy, but much loved cell phone shots.

The good news is that I've been pretty generous in sending photos to both Tom (at work) and his mom. The better news is that they are both hoarders photo savers.  (They're really not hoarders.  Well, his mom is really not a hoarder.)  (I wouldn't even be putting disclaimers in here if it weren't for the fact that one of his good friends reads this blog.  Shh.)

One week before my due date.  Six days before her arrival.

Her very first photo, taken when she was about 20 minutes old, gray, grunting and giving Daddy the stink eye.  I held her for a few minutes that went by way to quickly.  The next time I would see her would be another rapid few minutes in the nursery before she was taken to NICU, and after that, it would be a photo taken by the nurses; she was covered in electrodes and little gold heart-shaped stickers and tubes.  Add to that her blonde hair (in the photo from the nurses) and it's no wonder it felt surreal.  Speaking of her head, do you see how it's perfectly round?  That's because my kids like to stay up in my ribs until the last freaking second.  You would never guess that I'd been in labor 36 hours before she shot out!

The first time she got to eat, she was almost a day and a half old.  I look at my nails and remember getting the manicure so my hands would look nice in photos.  Who knew those photos would be taken in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and that my hands would be holding a bottle of mostly formula and the couple tiny drops I had been able to pump?

Part of me thinks this is the first time Tom got to hold Madelyn. But there was a period of an hour or two when she went to the regular nursery for monitoring. He went with her and I hope he got to hold her there, too. Do you see the way their eyes locked? I have a few photos like that. Immediately after her birth, she was taken to the isolette to be worked on by the respiratory team. Although she had ingested meconium and one lung had collapsed, our Mad-A-Girl hollered. My mom, Corey and Nance could all hear her even though they were on the other side of a glass door with a room in between us and them.  But as soon as Tom walked over and said something to her, she stopped crying and looked at him.  (If only that worked so well now!)

Out of all the photos, this is the one that surprised me. How do I not remember that she had a feeding tube? Even looking at this photo and comparing it to my memory... it just doesn't match up. Even though I have followed Miss Elimy's story, my memory was never jogged.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dear Carol,

Can you believe it's been five years?  I miss you.  I try to remember what you said, especially the part about forgiving.  You were a good friend to me.  Sometimes I wonder if I was as good a friend to you.  This will probably not shock you, but I can walk around for quite a while with my head up my ass before I realize I haven't seen daylight in a while.

I wonder if I should have done something differently.  When the donor requirements were for someone taller than I am, should I have pressed?  It seems stupid to wonder about this now, but I do.  I miss you.


Madelyn's new new mattress has finally arrived.  The new company, Easy Life, called yesterday morning to confirm.  Unlike Sears' robo-caller, which has continued to call every single freaking day this week, Easy Life had a live person call.  Was she a native American English speaker?  I don't think so, but there were no problems communicating with her.

The delivery guys?  Friendly and happy, like they enjoy their job.  And, even though Tom apparently didn't request that Mad's crib mattress get picked up (I have my suspicions that it was hard for him to see it go), the delivery guys willingly took it with them for the bargain price of nothing.

We ended up with a memory foam mattress.  It's processed differently (read: less chemically) than a lot of other similar products.  Tom had warned me that it would take a few hours to get to its full size because of the way it would arrive.  I was still surprised when it came in a roll.  A super tight roll.  The full size mattress was rolled up so tightly that the roll wasn't even 18 inches across.

By the time it was unwrapped and unrolled, it was already fluffing up.  By the time I came back from signing off on the delivery forms, it looked like this:
In the past few hours it has nearly doubled in size.

I washed the mattress pad and a few full-size sheet sets we happened to get last summer before our Chinese exchange students arrived.  Next up will be the continued search for bedding.  Why do they make children's bedding that needs to be dry cleaned?

Have you bought bedding lately?  Whew!  That stuff's expensive!  We'll be making it Mad's birthday present.

In less than one month, the daughter I always knew I'd have will turn four.  How that can be?  Four is so much older than three, don't you think?  At four, we really can't get away with calling her a toddler any more.  Not that she acts much like a toddler.

Her morning routine for the past several weeks has included coming into my bed in the morning and telling me, "I'm hungry.  I'm thirsty."  (If Fynn is already with us... and she usually is... the next thing I hear is, "I hunc.  Jink.")

One recent morning I responded by telling them I had to take a shower and get dressed before we would head downstairs.

Mad wasn't having it.  "I simply need a drink," she said with blessedly mild consternation.  (Yeah, she got her drink right away.)

It will be interesting to see how our mornings change with the new bed.

Aside from just making the transition to Madelyn's new bigger bed, I am... we all are... looking forward to returning to the regular nighttime routine.  Half a week of acting crazy, loud screaming fits and running from Tom before joining us in Fynn's room?  Beyond ready for it to be over.  (Aside from the major change in routine and dealing with new fears, Mad is coming down with a head cold... a sure path to trouble.)

It will be so nice to have Mad in her own room.  It will be even better to make the room into a place that Madelyn will love for (hopefully a lot of) years to come.  Since this is coming in time for her birthday, and because I've been trying to make gifts for the girls* instead of filling the house with a bunch of plastic crap, I've been working on a project for Madelyn's room.

Have I mentioned that we live on one side of a mountain range and work, Grandma and Papa's house and our friends are all on the other side?  (Okay, fine, I've mentioned it few [hundred] times.  What?)  The pass that goes down the hill has a fire road on one side.  We call it the train road because there are several tracks that carry freight from Los Angeles to points east.

Madelyn has loved taking the train road for a couple years now.  Around this time last year she learned about the sunflowers that often line the road.  I stopped and mangled picked one for her and she has never forgotten.

Sunflowers are yellow.  Yellow is Mad's favorite color.

My camera and I have made many trips on the train road lately.  I learned pretty quickly not to pull over too close to that area where men pull over to "hang out" with other men.  They're so friendly!

The pass is usually at least a little windy.  It's hard to photograph flowers in the wind, but it can be done.
These are all from the train road.  Something like this, but without the background and with frames will hopefully end up on Madelyn's wall within the next month.

*Why, yes, I did make two of the cutest stuffed dogs for the girls for Christmas.  So what if neither one has eyes, a nose, a mouth, an attached head.  It's the thought that matters, people!  And I'm a thinker!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dear Sears, Feel Free to Suck It

Last fall I checked around to see about having our fridge and dishwasher repaired.  After the debacle of looking for a local repair guy several months earlier (as I write this it's been 10 months since parts were supposedly ordered), I decided to ask friends.  Sears came up a lot, so I looked online.  Scheduled a repair for one through their online self-service function, but I wanted one appointment for both.  I chatted online with someone, who gave me different costs than what I'd seen when doing it myself.  In some cases the prices were better, but not across the board.  The man wouldn't give me a straight answer about the differences and insisted I had to decide then and there.  Talking it over later with my husband wasn't an option.  So then neither was using their repair guys.

It was annoying, but I moved on.  Fast forward to last week, when we headed out to shop for Madelyn's new bigger bed.  As there have been seven years or so and a recession since the last time I bought something other than a crib mattress, I had no idea how much had changed.  Mostly it's pretty cool stuff, but can be difficult to make direct comparisons.

After shopping at a couple places, Tom and I were able to define our preferences for Madelyn's new bigger bed pretty succinctly:  Firm, not extra firm, no pillow top.  Reinforced sides.  Pocket coils.  It's for our almost four year old daughter; she's a stomach sleeper.

We found several awesome sales last weekend and salespeople of varying knowledge and usefulness.  I'm sorry, but "It's got the box spring, so... you know..." does not answer our question about, well, anything.

After taking time to think about our two top choices, Tom headed out Sunday afternoon to seal the deal at a local mattress store.  Would have been great if someone had actually bothered to show up for work that day.  Or return his call the next day.

Monday evening, we schlepped the girls around to a few stores near my office.  Found a really good deal combined with a very nice, reasonably knowledgeable salesperson and walked out of Sears with a receipt for Madelyn's new mattress and box spring.  We paid a little extra to have it delivered on Saturday so I wouldn't have to take time off from work.

We received Sears' robo-calls on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that sought to confirm Saturday's delivery.

Friday morning I confirmed with the robot and a live person who works for Sears.  It required three calls to make that happen.

Friday night around 7:00 I accepted Sears' robo-scheduler's estimated time of delivery, even though it was right in the middle of Mad's (late afternoon) nap.  I figured it would be better to accept than try for a different time since it was already going to be so late in the day.

We had a busy day planned, including a play date with some of the girls' (and our!) friends here at the house.  Plus, Tom and his brother were heading down to watch a tennis tournament in Indian Wells right after lunch.  I asked him to convert Mad's toddler bed into her bigger bed first thing in the morning.  He did it.  With the girls' help, it took about an hour.

Late yesterday morning we received yet another robo-call from Sears.  This one was not only telling us that the delivery would have to be rescheduled for another day, but also that I would have to hang up and call another number to find out more.  

It's almost as if Sears tries harder to annoy customers than to actually serve them.  They succeeded.

I called the other number, got on the phone with someone who initially sounded annoyed because I couldn't understand his thick accent.  Dude, you may live in India, but your customers are in America.  Don't get pissy with me because I can't understand you!  I'm normally pretty good with a variety of accents, but there are limits.

The customer no-service guy said we could reschedule delivery for a week later.  

"Yeah, that's not going to happen.  Her bed has already been converted.  We can't put a mattress in there, because she gets up at night.  If she were to get up and trip over the massive bed frame that's now filling her room, I'd really be upset.  And we have company, so the spare bed isn't available.  We need the mattress when it was promised and for which we paid, but if it has to be delayed, we cannot wait a week."

After about 45 minutes on the phone, mostly on hold, we were offered a ten percent off coupon for a future purchase.  I explained very clearly that there would be no future purchase if the situation wasn't resolved.

They put me through to the store with the understanding that I would be discussing a switch to a comparable or better mattress that could be delivered sooner.

Nothing could be delivered sooner.  The (same, previously thought of as nice) salesperson, Josie, said she'd get back to me as long as it didn't require that she violate the meal code.  She said she was upset with the manufacturer.

I pointed out that the problem was on Sears' side.  They had confirmed delivery at 7:00 the night before.  If they didn't have the merchandise, they shouldn't have done that.

Josie had the nerve to say that the only way to get the mattress we paid for and that Sears had promised would be to take it from someone else.  She then blamed the automated service for confirming because "it doesn't know what the people are doing."  Clearly.

So I packed up the girls and made the almost 50 mile drive down to Rancho Cucamonga (or, according to one of their many robo-phone operators, Raunch-o Cucamonga). 

And stand around waiting for almost half an hour.  Does it help that the sales people were nice and completely professional during the wait?  Yes, but not nearly enough.  And that whole "completely professional" part deteriorated at the end as I was trying to leave.  The woman who had sold us a bill of goods the alleged mattress continued to argue Sears' side.  Among other points (which she was trying to make as my girls were beginning to meltdown) was something about how she couldn't possibly move our order up unless someone else had canceled theirs and it was exactly like ours.  I just walked away shaking my head at that point.  I never asked for someone else's order to be pulled.  I wanted our order to be fulfilled.

I then took the girls to Grandma's so I could go out and find another mattress from a company that would actually deliver on their promises.

I hit five stores last night, including a membership place before picking up the girls.  Then I brought them back home and got 'em to bed.  Mad's currently set up on the floor of Fynn's room.  Without the frame (which has three high sides as you can see here) and side rail of her toddler bed, it's nearly impossible for her to stay on the mattress.
We got home after their bedtime, thus the play clothes instead of jams.

Even better is the fact that Fynn's still not a great sleeper.  Her crying wakes up Madelyn.  And when Fynn called out for me to get her from her crib this morning, she woke her big sister again.

Best of all is that Madelyn is afraid to sleep in Fynn's room.  Bedtime and nap without her regular space have been loud quite a treat.

And a ten percent off coupon was supposed to entice me to return?  That'd be a hell no.

You'd think this would all be over, wouldn't you?  Well you'd be wrong.  This morning we received two robo-calls from Sears stating that the appliance we'd ordered would be delayed.  And, again, I had to call another number to make them stop calling.  The customer no-service person (who also seemed to be from India or that region) said they were calling about the foundation I'd ordered.

Um, no.  I have cash in hand from canceling that order yesterday, and it said an appliance was delayed.

Some day soon this is going to be functional.

Tom just walked in with a receipt for Madelyn's new new bed.  It will be here in a couple days.

UPDATE:  The Sears robo-dialer called three more times today (the day after this post was made).

Friday, March 02, 2012

No, Really, A *Good* Gift

We just found out that my brother-in-law and his wife are expecting their first baby.  So exciting!  They're the first besides us to have a baby (on Tom's side.  My family is pretty much done popping out babies in our generation.  Just waiting to see who's going to make one of us the first grandparent.  Please don't let it be me!).

So the first thing I wanted to do was get them a gift, preferably something handmade from Etsy.  I could practically live on the photos of squishy babies in those hats with the long tassels, like this.  Or how about this freaking adorable monkey?!

Carol crochets beautifully, so that pretty much eliminates a baby gift from Etsy.

Next up was jewelry.  I know that bird egg nest necklaces are pretty popular right now.  Awesome.  Except I really don't know Sarah all that well, and I'm not 100% sure of her style.  Does she even like birds?!  Is it too trendy?  But then I found this.  I'm pretty sure the heaven's opened and angels sang, "La ha."  I can't wait to see it in person.

Once we had her covered, I wanted to find something for the new daddy.  Do you know how hard it is to find a decent, thoughtful gift for a dad to be?  Preferably something that's not a T-shirt?  Don't believe me?  I did a Google search and came across this, this and my personal favorite, this.  Brilliant.

So I'm still looking.  If you're a dad, what would you have wanted to receive after announcing your first child?  Or, have you given a new dad something that was a big hit?  I need help.
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