When Brakes saw this picture he said, “Looks like a certain little girl is pretty excited about Santa! The Weez looks slightly amused too.”
Merry Christmas, everyone!
I think the pressures of homeownership are beginning to get to Brakes. He’s been acting out. It started with a lower tolerance to noise. He would snap at the dogs more easily and startle if the doorbell rang (before it broke- but that is whole other story). He sometimes cringes when I talk. Hmmm. Anyways, these issues really culminated last week at Old Navy. (Remember my big spree? I got $20 in Old Navy bonus bucks! Holla- whaaat?!) Never one to let a coupon expire, I hauled Brakes and Baby out to battle the pre-Christmas crowds. I also had to exchange a pair of pants that were apparently too edgy for Brakes ( you knew Old Navy is the new Hot Topic, right?). I chose a pair of shoes (adorable bronze flats with a fab ruffle along the toe), that were exactly $20 with tax. (I am so good.)
Shoes in hand, we joined the line. It was a long one, and I settled in for the wait. Brakes and Babe do not have the shopping stamina I enjoy so within minutes, Weezy was grabbing socks off the rack and cramming them into her mouth. Brakes was perseverating on the lights in the ceiling. When the muscle in his jaw began to clench and unclench, I suggested he take the baby and meet me at Home-Depot (or as we affectionately call it: our vacation home, as all our free-time and the equivalent of a second mortgage are spent there each weekend). He grabbed Weezy’s stroller and hightailed it out of ON. When I got to the front I had Brakes’ edgy pants to return but no shoes. “Where’d my shoes go? I had them right here.” Then my mind flashed to them hanging from the back of the stroller. The stroller Brakes was happily wheeling around the Depot by now.
I said, without thinking, “My husband took them…”
Realizing how that sounded and picturing security torturing me until I ratted him out, I lamely finished up, “… and put them back on the rack. He is always doing that. Ha. Ha-ha. What a wacky guy. Ha. Ha-ha. He sure does some crazy things. Yes-sir-e-bobby. Wacky. Waaa-cky! W-to-the-A-to-the-c-k-y! Whoo! Wacky! Anyways.” Just. Stop. Talking. My mind yelled. I bit my tongue, signed the return receipt, and booked it out the door, squeezing my eyes shut tight as I passed through the metal detector and obscuring my face with my purse as I passed by the video camera. I added a limp too, so as to further disguise my identity.
In a panic, I combed every aisle of Home Depot until I spotted Brakes. Still attached to my innocent baby’s stroller was the evidence of his crime. It was true. Brakes had shop-lifted a pair of shoes. I slowly approached the criminal and warned him not to do anything rash. He pretended shock at his deed and tried to use reverse psychology to distract from his error. After gazing at our sweet girl, happily munching on a paint-brush (which we paid for, I’ll have you know), we knew what we had to do; we had to return the shoes. I suggested Brakes launch them through the front door than dive into the get-away car but he insisted on doing it the old fashioned way. He marched us up to the counter, intent on explaining the situation. Before the words were out of his mouth, the cashier said, “You must be the husband that stole the shoes.” I started to babble incoherently again, but Brakes shot me a look. He gave the cashier a charming smile (Sigh.) and said, “That's me; but I’ve seen the light, and I would like to pay for the shoes now.” The 16 year-old employee just about swooned and happily ran our card. (I wonder if I earn bonus bucks on the bonus bucks?)
As we drove away, a contemplative Brakes confessed, “I have tasted a life of crime and it was bitter. Just bitter.” Something tells me I’ll get the old Brakes back soon.
The following is a transcript of a conversation Brakes and I had over the weekend: (what? Its not like you don’t keep a log of every interaction between you and your spouse. Anyways.)
Brakes: Umm, Bug (Usage of charming nick-name. I grow suspicious.) In the interest of full-disclosure, I should probably tell you something.
Gas: (Crap! He got fired! He cheated on me! He ate my left-over 1/2 a burrito!!!) What? (Stay calm- there will be other burritos.)
Brakes: You know last week when I was throwing up and had a sore throat?
Gas: (Oh God! Its cancer! I am going to be a single mother! How am I going to make the mortgage! Shit! I am going to have to date again. I had better loose weight.) Yes?
Brakes: Well, when I said I was going to the hardware store, I really went to the doctor.
Gas: (YOU LIED TO ME! YOU ARE A LIAR! OH GOD! WHO ARE YOU!) Uh hunh. And?
Brakes: They gave me a test. It wasn’t just a cold and food poisoning. I totally had swine flu- But I am fine now.
Gas: (What? Swine flu? But people die from swine flu? Brakes looks pretty healthy to me.) Really? No you didn’t! How do I know you’re not lying? (Once a liar…)
Brakes: No seriously, I did.
Gas: (Still suspect.) Well, why didn’t you tell me?
Brakes: I didn’t want you to worry.
Gas: (Likely story!) Why didn’t you really tell me?
Brakes: (Looks abashed.) Umm… if you knew I had it, then you would talk yourself into getting it and then who would watch the Weez?
Gas: (Grudgingly decides that is probably true.) Okay, but never lie to me again, or keep secrets like that from me. Capice? (Okay, I did not really say capice.)
Brakes: (Looking relieved.) Yeah. XOXO. (He did not really say XOXO, but he did give me a hug and cop a little feel.)
1. My husband thinks I am a big enough hypochondriac that I can talk myself into swine flu.
2. My husband is probably right.
3. Swine flu is not always the demon I have been staying up nights worrying about. Thank God.
4. I may have a tendency towards jumping to conclusions, imagining wild scenarios, and experiencing irrational thoughts. You should be wary.
5. Brakes is a terrible secret-keeper.
My old friend! Once I tricked my hubby into quitting my job you and me had to part ways for a spell. The baby weight melted off my hips and belly (those who said I was “all baby” when I was pregnant are liars. Bless your hearts.) thanks to my daughter’s healthy appetite, Jillian Michaels, and coordinated running ensembles (stroller matches the baby, matches the shoes! Genius! The only reason I was motivated to take up running.) I had all the time in the world to gaze lovingly at my sweetie, embark on an ambitious personal hygiene and maintenance routine, and enjoy the occasional mood-boosting lunch with the girls. My biggest concern was which play-group to frequent this week and whether or not I was adequately stimulating my husband intellectually now that I was out of the “real world” (obviously that last concern is a joke).
But then Weezy gained mobility and I realized that I am not really the play-group type. So I decided to go back to work. It started slow; an edible art class here, a life-skills coaching client there, but soon opportunities began to fall into my lap. Good opportunities. Opportunities that I would have killed for a year ago. So after much discussion and soul-searching, Brakes and I decided to put Weezy in daycare part time so that I could pursue some more professional interests. Honestly, it was totally the best choice to make. After the initial first day of leaving Weezy at the sitters (who is amazing BTW) and seeing how well she did, as well as getting a little bit of personal satisfaction beyond wearing matching hair-styles with my daughter, I know that we made the right decision.
Unfortunately that decision came at sort of an already stressful time. In the last six weeks I have, researched, found, and put Eloise in daycare. Started two new jobs. Bought a house, moved, and began major renovations. Battled family illness and death. And finally, made preparations for a giant triple family Christmas celebration. Most of the stuff going on has been good stuff, but even good stuff can cause stress.
Which leads me back to you, Cortisol. I feel you inhabiting the stomach fat I had worked
moderately so very hard to loose during my low-stress months. I know you are settling in for a long stay. I just wanted to give you fair-warning; don’t get too comfy in those abs of mine. Come New Years, you are banished! Do you hear me? BANISHED!!! Once the holidays are over, hard-wood floors are in, and the routine in the new house is cemented, you and I are going to seriously part ways. I’ll do my best to hold you at bay with a modicum of self-control and bargain shopping exercise until then, but lets be real; I love me some pie. And eggnog. And peanut brittle. Did I already say pie?
So consider yourself warned.
PS: Am I the only one who starts worrying about New Years resolutions at the beginning of December?
PPS: Do you like how my biggest concern about my current stress level is the evil cortisol. I seriously have a phobia. I picture little cortisol guys taking up residence in my chub, kind of like in the
Mucinex commercials. It grosses me out. When I start to feel pressure in my chest (maybe I should have that looked at?) I take deep breaths and think to myself: “Now calm down, Gas. We don’t want any cortisol lodging in your belly do we?” I think I might be a freak.
Sorry for the long absence, folks. I have a variety of excuses. Please read the following and pick your favorite (feel free to refrain from choosing until you’ve digested all of the follow-up posts with more details on the various excuses. Coming soon.)
And on a serious note:
A week ago Thursday our blog lost its favorite reader. My Grandma joined my Grandpa in that great big dance floor in the sky. She passed away peacefully, in her sleep, in her own home, with her dignity intact. She was about to turn 86 and she was still as sharp as a tack and enjoyed a full and active lifestyle. My grandma was one of the smartest, classiest, and most loved ladies I’ve ever known. She had a great sense of humor and loads of style and panache. She epitomized what was great about her generation and she will be so missed by everyone who knew her. I am grateful for the memories, legacy, and education she gave to me and I hope that I can grow up to be half the woman she was.
Here is a recent picture taken of my beautiful Grandmother meeting Weezy, her 16th great-grandchild.
As you know, we are all about reno in the B&G household and Weezy got caught up in the spirit too! Everybody loves a good makeover!
PS: Did anyone else watch “A Makeover Story” on TLC like 8 years ago? I think it was the first of the makeover shows… it was so pure too; no surgery, no zoom whiting, no hellish turns in a three-way-mirror. Hmmm. Anyways.
Today is the one week anniversary of home ownership! We loved celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our own house… and I’ll have you know, we did not sit on boxes as we gorged on turkey and pie. The house was almost completely unpacked by Thursday evening. Given that the moving truck did not even start loading until 3:15 PM on Wednesday, that is pretty impressive. Want to know my secret weapon? Child labor. Our little sisters, Sabrina and Chelsea, had boundless energy! I pretty much threw objects out of boxes and barked its destined location and the girls rushed to put it away. All it cost me was a few tootsie rolls and a pack of gum! Nice!
Our family drove up to the Bay Area to help us move (the sisters), watch the baby (the grandma), and school us in the joys of homeownership (the grandpa). Chris, Brakes’ dad, crossed so many of our to-do’s off the list and he brought us a whole van-full of tools and knowledge to get us started in our quest to DIY-dom. Plus, he is coming back next weekend to tile the kitchen! LOVE THAT MAN!
It has not been all glory though… there have been some casualties on our home front. The paneling and wallpaper in the bedrooms and dining room suffered a crushing loss last Tuesday, when it was yanked from its locale with wild abandon and shoved into the dumpster down the street.
My previously manicured nails are now mangled shreds of their former glorious selves and the skin on Brakes’ arms and hands is striped with angry, red scratches; the result of his epic battle with the black-berry bushes out back.
Lastly, I am sorry to report: the fancy-pants toilet seat went missing after the home inspection. Alas I will never uncover the mystery that lurked beneath that potty’s still waters, nor what strange and unusual purpose the plethora of buttons served. A monumental disappointment, but I must carry on.
PS: Because no post is complete without a picture of the Weez; here is ole’moneybags (Weez not me) signing the closing papers on her new house.
(***disclaimer*** This is not a posed shot. We do not stoop to manufactured adorableness. Yet.)
Brakes and I are closing on our lovgly (lovely/ugly) little rancher today! I would love to post a pic of the front, but it is sooo ugly that it wouldn’t be difficult to find if you searched the recently sold list in Northern California. Brakes is certain we have stalkers (I told him not to flatter himself) but I like to try to respect his wishes (occasionally). As soon as we disguise it with a coat of paint and perhaps some yard art (fall decor?) I’ll post our “after”. Until then feast your eyes on what I’ll be doing for probably the next 24 hours strait:
(please note that these are pictures from the appraisal, with the seller’s stuff, though I would not cry if he left the fancy-pants potty lid.)
Is it strange that I am super excited to get my hands dirty (I know all you sage old renovators are rolling your eyes at my naivety and enthusiasm)?
Wish us luck!
PS: Can I please take a moment to thank my amazing husband who guided us down this path frugally and thoughtfully at every turn? Its true I may have wanted to punch his lights out a time or two, but my Bargain Man got us exactly the house we wanted at the price we wanted! I am so proud of (and in love with) you, B!
Who notices something strange about this picture? Is it that obvious?
My daughter is apparently some kind of pervert. For months now she has been doing what we affectionately call her, “Shark Face.” She lunges aggressively towards my chi-chis, snapping her little jaws. Sometimes she couples this with a grunt, groan, or snarl for effect. (Did I mention she has 2.5 teeth now? I am a saint.)
Recently she has taken to just casually keeping her hand within reach of her favorite chi-chi, pretty much at all times, as depicted in the picture to your left. (Do you see the hidden shame in my eyes as I bravely try to laugh it off? What about her? Please note the devil-may-care expression punctuating her smirk. She looks so entitled.)
Now I have dealt with all of her manhandling and snarling pretty well. I’ve never flicked her cheek (not even with the biting incident of ‘’09), and I’ve casually redirected her meaty paws when they wander wayward at inappropriate times. But the other night at Trader Joe’s I may have reached my limit.
We were on our way to a birthday party for the Unc and Nana Eileen called and asked us to stop and get a little shaved parmesan (she’d made marinara from scratch and it was delish!). Only needing the one item, I didn't bother with a shopping cart or a baby carrier, I just propped Miss Weezy on my hip and we hauled fanny to the check out.
The cashier (male, barely post-adolescent, with accompanying patchy goatee, and an unfortunate predilection for blushing) had just asked for my ID (I may have also grabbed a bottle of wine, which I desperately hankered for a gulp of a few moments later) when Eloise reached across my chest, clasped the edge of my cotton v-neck and bra and used her weight to heft the material aside. Out popped my big boob, practically landing on the check-writing shelf. She lunged after it, mouth gaping, already making slurping noises in anticipation, and attempted to latch on. I froze in horror as the check-out boy stared with eyes like saucers, his face and neck turning a violent shade of purple. Once I regained my composure I jerked Eloise off, ignored her protests, blindly signed the credit-card slip, and practically ran out of the store.
What did I learn from this experience? Eloise does not respect social (or my personal) boundaries and on-demand-nursing is dangerously overrated.
We’re totally best friends. We dress alike, wear matching pony-tails, and do everything together.
I may be in danger of becoming the mom in the Forever 21 dress, chaperoning my
besties daughter’s high school dance. Somebody stop me when she is old enough to realize how uncool it is to dress like your mom.
We did not even glance at the MLS for 3 months, until we saw Agave! This is/was a great house! It had an open floor plan, two levels, a private lot, and mountain views. It was nearly perfect. Scrape the ceilings, ditch the carpet, and fancy up the kitchen and bath, and it would have been the most perfect 2 and a 1, plus a bonus room, ever. We were enamored... as were many other people in the housing market teetering on decline. The listing agent was actually fairly astute and under priced the house by a few percent to create a false sense of affordability. We got all our materials together and I wrote a heart-wrenching letter explaining how our offer (of course, we were low-balling) was not a reflection of the emotional value of their home but truly a reflection of what we, a civil servant, teaching special-needs kids and a humble chemist, finding the cure for Cancer, could afford. Needless to say, they were not convinced, and the place went for $715,000. We never had a chance. I did not even cry- do you see how jaded I’d become? Bless Brake’s heart; he was really beginning to relish the game.
Brakes and I sincerely thank all of the veterans out there who have helped to make the US a wonderful country in which to raise our little girl. This country may have its faults but there is still no other place we would rather be and we are grateful for the brave men and women who serve our nation!
We salute you!
(This picture is an oldie but goodie!)
The summer of “07 our obsession with becoming homeowners hit critical mass. We had spent 2 years wasting time, building castles in the sky with homes that were out of our reach or always slipped through our fingers. We were beat-up, fed-up, and exhausted! After 3 back-to-back false alarms we decided that there was never going to be a perfect house or a perfect time and we just needed to suck it up and put in serious offers.
We went to a walk-a-thon in the community in which I taught. Through the misty haze I watched families circle the track at midnight, walking for a cure and I became moved. I saw myself there, five years from now with a toddler in a jogging stroller and an infant strapped to Brakes’ broad chest. Brakes loves this town; he sees big lots, a cozy community, and close proximity to water sports.
I had always resisted living there because I was a special education teacher for the local school district. Every time I stopped at Safeway on my way home from work I ran into someone from the community I knew. I think this quality could be a really great if I weren’t in special education. But special ed can get really emotional and be wrought with tension. When I go home, I need to be going to a place where I can decompress and sit on the patio with a glass of wine and bitch about what a rough day I had without worrying that my next-door neighbor is behind the fence taking notes on what I say so that she can share them at the next Lions Club meeting. Basically there is an old saying; you don’t “poo” where you eat, and if I lived where I worked, I know I would be asking for many awkward encounters and conflicts of interest.
That said, among the famous fog, and the yearning light in my sweet husband’s eyes, I had a change of heart. We immediately made an appointment with a realtor and put in an offer on a cramped 3 and a 2 with a so-so floor plan but on a gorgeous lot: water views in front, mountain views in back, a truly knock-your-socks-off locale. They were asking $695,000, we offered $650,000 as it had been on the market for a few months. The realtor was not hopeful and accused Brakes of “low-balling,” (which Brakes took as a compliment).
That night neither of us slept a wink. We both felt like we had signed our lives away. Brakes jostled me at about 4:30 am, needing to burn off some steam. My man is a deep sleeper, people. Normally, I could not pay him for action that early in the morning but he was super tense and we had houseguests so he couldn’t get up and work out. (Am I insulted that, in that instance, I was the equivalent to an elliptical machine? No, not really. I got mine. Anyways.)
When we received the owner’s counter offer later that afternoon we both blew a big sigh of relief; they countered at $693,500. Obviously there would be no meeting in the middle. We weren’t even disappointed. We both felt we had dodged another bullet. We agreed to not even glance at the housing market for at least 3 months. We needed to take a break, and quit letting this monster steal our time and monopolize our thoughts. The first weekend house hunting free was a little strange. We didn’t have a great deal to say to each other, but Brakes took me to Chucky Cheese to play ski-ball and drink watered-down beer (admittedly, he felt a little creepy going there without the cover of kids), and by Sunday morning we awoke refreshed and excited to go back to just being us without this giant elephant in our bed between our feet, next to the Monk and the Ru. Our bed is only a queen after all. Two adults, (though, I am very thin) two 50-pound dogs, and a giant elephant; it was a tight squeeze. And we did not even glance at the MLS for 3 months...
-----Update: I was recently chatting with a colleague who grew up on Berida. We determined that our house was sandwiched between her mother’s house and her uncle’s house so she has first-hand knowledge of the home. Apparently it was a genuine crack house the whole time she lived there, and when the crack heads finally OD’d it was bought by investors and flipped. The flippers did a shoddy job and it had a serious mold problem, which the investors handled by merely painting over. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Unless it is crack-chemicals and black mold taking up residence in your pores and lungs as you sleep at night! Yikes! Looks like we OFFICIALLY dodged another bullet here... do you see a theme developing?
Thank you for all of the congratulations on Monday! We are really excited! Since I have a feeling I will be blogging a lot about all of this house stuff in the next
10 years few months. I thought it might be fun to escort you on a trip down memory lane and share with you how we arrived at this destination.
I alluded to the fact that we had been house hunting for an obnoxious amount of time, 4. 5 years to be exact. For the last 4 years we have spent at least 2 weekends every month, perusing open houses, annoying real estate agents, and getting our credit checked just for fun. I have spent more minutes on zillow and zip then I am proud to admit and I have discovered a hidden talent for making power-point models of floor plans complete with before and afters and our furniture penciled in.
NICE, I know.
Join me as we visit some old favorites from the house-hunting front. These are some of the houses we have seriously, and sometimes, stupidly considered over the years.
When we first moved to the bay area we had, oh all of $30,000 we had painstakingly saved when Brakes was in graduate school simply burning a hole in our pockets. We naively thought we would be able to “walk onto,” the Northern California housing market much like Kobe did the LA Lakers, strait out of high
grad school. Being the Gas, I took my job seriously and was constantly scanning the MLS, making lists of potential properties I thought we could afford. I set our cap at around $800,000. Ha! We can’t afford $800,000 now and I am no longer an hourly employee and Brakes has earned 2 promotions since then. (This is why Brakes handles our finances.) It is strange though, how the more money we made and the more prices fell, the less we feel we can afford. I guess that is what they call growing up. Sigh.
Anyways, once Brakes brought me back to earth, I started targeting areas we could actually afford and I happened upon a quaint and adorable “village” full of charming Cape-cods. We called it an “emerging,” neighborhood that was “well on its way to gentrification.” There was a house on a darling-ly named street, Rockhaven, which had the most amazing ocean views! We toured this house twice, loving the tiny floor plan, and the large albeit steep lot. At $715,000, it was a little more than Brakes felt comfortable paying so we kept our eyes on it, waiting for its price to fall. It finally sold for $695,000 after 3 months on the market. Brakes was encouraged, he was sure prices were falling. I was heart-broken; sure we had lost our only chance at home-ownership in the bay area.
Three years later, I got lost on my way to a student’s house and ended up in the same “adorable” cape-cod neighborhood. This time my savvy eyes spotted the cars up on blocks in the front-yard and the couches on porches. And I certainly could not miss the freshly chalked outline on the street and the caution tape surrounding a house, where an apparent drive-by had taken place earlier in the week. I realized the neighborhood was still “emerging,” and at a very, very slow pace. As I drove away I reflected on what a silly girl I had been shedding tears over that house a few years ago; I felt like we had dodged a bullet... And, as it turns out, we may actually have.
Okay so confession on a confession time: This morning I received some surprising/embarrassing/secretly thrilling news… a comment I made over at one of my favorite funny blogs (Martinis or Diaper Genies) achieved All-Star status on the confessional Friday report. It involved
my favorite subject childbirth and what I may or may not have mistaken for my sweet baby during the pushing stage. Anyways. As I’ve NEVER been an All-Star before (see this post for more elaboration) I thought I should take advantage of this title and prepare a short acceptance speech. So, without further ado:
Oh my gosh! I am so shocked and flattered! I never imagined I would achieve such a status! I really don’t know what to say! I guess I should start off by thanking my parents and my Catholic-school sex education; I apparently skipped the chapter detailing the various holes located in a lady's nether-regions. I would also like to thank my adoring husband, both for impregnating me, thereby providing me with the opportunity to push until my blood vessels burst while staring at my rear-end in a mirror, and also for strategically pointing out the correct anatomy during those intense moments of Eloise’s birth. I should also thank Mari Winsor; I have no doubt that the month I spent doing her 20-minute workout on a vaguely regular basis back in 2003 gave my abs the strength to propel my baby (and other various matter) out of my pachina as effectively as I did. Finally, I would like to thank my pachina; I am sorry I did not recognize you in your time of need, ole'girl! I promise it will not happen again… next time, there will be no mirror.
So Brakes and I have been casually seeing a variety of women (and a few men too!) ever since we moved here. We’ve met these people while out and about in the neighborhood, through friends of friends, and occasionally when we’ve wandered into someone's house. We’ve called, emailed, and spent afternoons with these people, sometimes with the same person over the course of several months, but we’ve never been able to take the plunge. None of the clever little minxes managed to hold our interest for long… until we met Isabella. Isabella totally defines what a realtor should be to us. (What!? Of course, I was talking about realtors; what else would I have been referring to?)
Several months ago, Isabella was showing Brake’s mom (a real-estate hobbyist) some properties on our side of the Bay Area. They saw a house that Mama B thought was “the deal of the century”! After 4.5 years of fruitless house searching and many rejected (albeit low-ball) offers, and with a new baby at home, I had NO interest in looking at any more houses. But, being the agreeable wife that you know I am, I let Brakes drag me to visit the hot property. That house didn’t work out but Isabella made a lasting impression. She is the ONLY agent, out of more than 100 agents we’ve spoken to over the last 4.5 years, who seemed to be honest about where the market was going (down). She did not try to feed us any lines and she encouraged us to offer what we were comfortable with, while other agents would have scoffed at our gall. She has been savy, honest, calm, and relentless. When we found our latest house interest she handled the negotiations with kid gloves and I am soooo excited to inform you that:
WE ARE IN ESCROW!
After touring probably 500 homes, writing offers on at least 12 properties, hundreds and hundreds of hours of talking, calculating, and talking some more, we are finally going to be home owners! Assuming everything goes as planned, we will be closing escrow right before Thanksgiving.
Brakes and I are so excited at this big step, and yes, we feel like we are a bit crazy to be taking on so many changes in one year (although Brakes is practically orgasmic about the write-off potential of a new baby and a new house in 2009)!
I got a great house, with lots of space, on a large lot, with a fabulous view, and Brakes (along with Isabella’s help) got us a wicked-good deal! Stay tuned for our adventures in homeownership and keep your fingers crossed that things keep going smoothly!
Warning: my inner-braggart is coming out. I am a fairly talented person. I swam competitively from ages 5-18, I was on the speech and debate team in high school, and in college I briefly dabbled in beirut (who didn’t?). In general, I have many gifts. However, these gifts have never amounted to much because I lack one very important characteristic; a competitive spirit. I was always too busy chatting with my opponents to really care about the outcome of the competitions. This character flaw has been a major source of frustration to various teachers and coaches over the years… not to mention Brakes, who would cheerfully shove a Grandma out of the way if she were blocking his path to the finish line.
Well, this morning Eloise and I happened upon the key to unlocking my competitive spirit; it all started with an innocent trip to the mailbox.
Several days ago, I received the newer version of this coupon. It came in a packet with other advertisements. Tucked away on the last page, I spied another deal. It said, “Whopping 50% off total purchase for the first 50 customers at participating stores!” I immediately called my closest store and confirmed their opening time and participation, then Eloise and I sat down and began to plot strategy. Would you think less of me if I confessed that I was tossing and turning all night with excitement?
This morning, despite Weezy’s double late night feedings, I got up when Brakes did. I splashed cold water on my face and dressed in comfortable clothes made for quick movement. I ate a high protein breakfast of peanut butter toast and Halloween candy (I needed the energy!) and waited for the Weez to wake up. Eloise takes after her mama and she typically likes to ease into the day. So you can imagine her disconcertion when she was whisked out of bed, popped into a clean dipe, had an orange bow jammed into her hair (being rushed is NOT an excuse to not accessorize with Fall decor!), and scooted into her car seat where I booked it to the nearest Old Navy.
After much debate, it was decided that a stroller would just slow us down, so away in the Ergo Weez went, down the escalator to join the other bargain hunters patiently waiting in line. I eyed my competition; mostly other moms with babies in strollers. “Fools!” I thought as I practiced my hip pivots with Weezy securely attached to my chest. “Try navigating tight corners with that boat!” I silently berated a mom with the double BOB.
a few hours about 20 minutes, an ON employee came out and explained the rules. The first 50 people in the store would receive a complimentary tote and anything they could shove in the tote would be marked 50% off. Elbows started snaking out to the sides and one woman kept tripping people with her foot as we all inched forward trying to be one of the first 50 in.
Eloise and I were lucky #17! Over the next hour we raced, jostled, tucked, and rolled our way to the check-out counter. At one point Eloise wanted to abort our mission and go home but I simply latched her on in a side carry and put the sun shade up for privacy, and kept marching on. (I do realize I have no shame.)
In the end, for $311.22 I got almost $800 worth of merchandise (most of my purchases were already on sale) for the family. We got:
29 shirts, 11 pants, 2 jackets, 2 packets of socks, and a pair of shoes.
It was a valiant victory and now the family won’t need any clothes for almost a year (although, Brakes, I make no promises. There will be some incidentals that pop up, I’m sure). Now I am exhausted but content in my glory. If bargain-shopping were a sport, I would have a full-ride scholarship at an ivy league school. Who knew it was the thrill of the hunt that would finally wake up my competitive drive?
67, 512 smiles ago,
22, 292 kisses ago,
10, 696 nugs ago,
5, 578 hienie love-pats ago,
1,462 days ago,
468 glasses of wine (and 52 dirty martinis) ago,
211 burritos ago,
115 Sean Connery impersonations ago,
55 Office episodes ago,
36 plane rides ago,
12 heated discussions ago,
6 hours of labor ago,
1 Weez ago,
0 regrets ago,
I married my best friend. Thank you for such amazing agos, my sweet man!
(Blog Challenge #3: When did you know you were a grown-up?)
You would think I would have realized I was a grown-up in moments like these:
*Pushing Eloise out of my pachina. (Am I obsessed with child-birth? Maybe. I just can’t stop marveling.)
*Doing the Heimlich maneuver on one of my preschool students. (Little turkey had swallowed a penny. Thank God, I’d gotten CPR certified the week before. The Heimlich is different for little ones, people. Take a class if you don’t know how to do it.)
*Signing my name on the marriage license that legally committed Brakes to me forever. (Yikes!)
But in all honesty, in each of those circumstances, I was faking. I am no more grown-up now then I was when I felt oh-so-grown-up as a hot-shot sixteen year-old tooling around in a beat-up convertible. In fact, I used to worry that my boss would one day realize he’d hired a child to shape young minds, or that it would suddenly dawn on Brakes that his wife spent an inordinate amount of time day-dreaming and playing house.
Now, I don’t worry so much; I quit my job (so no boss to concern myself with) and it occured to me that Brakes knew exactly whom he was getting when we wed. I am the girl who throws tantrums during long-car rides, thinks her birthday lasts the whole month, secretly still believes in Santa, and loves him with the intensity that only the un-jaded can manage. It is okay that Brake’s wife is still not a grown-up because he has been a grown-up since he was born. With my imagination and his sense of responsibility, Eloise should make out just fine!
(Oh, no! The above sounds awfully introspective; is that the wisdom of years talking? Nah! I’d better go though; it's way past my bedtime.)
Here I am with my favorite playmates:
Look at me all fancy with a tutorial! Ha! Okay, this does not really count as a tutorial because it is only two steps but I still thought it was cute so I decided to share:
I am teaching an edible art class for the Parks and Recreation department (Brakes keeps telling me to “Keep it in your pants, Knope.” He thinks he is very funny.) I am combining healthy recipes that are designed to get kids excited about food and expand their palates, with an art class that fosters creativity and works on fine motor skills. I love kids cooking activities because it encompasses so many skills: sequencing, following directions, self-help, etc. The list goes on and on. (I am kind of an early childhood education dork.) Oh well. Anyways, the first lesson is Picasso Pita Pizza. Allow me to present my lesson plan (were these required to teach the class? Certainly not. I already said I am a dork; I often make color coded power-point presentations for fun):
I was concerned that making Pita Pizzas could be over in a flash so I decided to beef up the class with a little art project. The kiddo’s are going to decorate aprons. Since I am not a zillionaire and aprons don’t grow on trees, I knew I would have to fashion these beauties made out of items from my fave place: The Dollar Store. I bought 10 gingham dishcloths, a set of white muslin napkins, and some grosgrain ribbon for $7. I sewed a hem over the top of the dishcloth and threaded some grosgrain ribbon through. Then I tacked a ribbon on either side of the “aprons” waist. Last I glued a square of napkin to the front of the apron to act as a nametag and to personalize the look. I am planning on the kids decorating the name patch while the Pita Pizzas are baking. In my experience kids love making things they can use! I cannot wait to see my little students toddling around wearing their matching aprons.
My dining room chairs are the most preschooler sized thing currently residing in my house, so I had to make do with Chair modeling the ensemble for me. Obviously I did not iron my finished product.
Yes, I did in fact crop out my messy kitchen. An expert seamstress/apron designer does not have time to clean. It is a little short on an adult but it should look pretty cute and provide good coverage on the little ones!
Next up: DIY Dish Towel Chair Covers… I kid.
(Challenge #2; Watcha reading?)
One of the greatest legacies my parents passed down to me was a love of reading. From my earliest memories I can recall snuggling with my parents reading Good Night, Moon and The Sweet Pickles books. My parents didn’t just love to read with us kids; my dad always had a paperback in his back pocket and my mom has authored several children’s books. Reading was and is an important part of our family culture. This is tradition I really look forward to passing down to Eloise. (Who, by the way, was named after my favorite childhood story-book character ever, Eloise from the Plaza.)
Upon confirming that Eloise was a girl, my mind began to race with all the possibilities our life together held. I pictured tea-parties, and father-daughter dances. I imagined spa days and whispered secrets. I began compiling a list of things I wanted to share with my daughter; topping the list was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books. After my Nonnie gave me the classic Anne of Green Gables for my birthday one year, I quickly read the rest of the series. These books provided so much, “scope for imagination,” and they truly helped me appreciate beauty; beauty in nature, people, and in the written word. I read these books almost every summer until I went to college and now, guess what? I am reading them again! As I rock my sweet baby to sleep every night I share with her the beautiful prose so artfully spun by my favorite author. The gentle cadence of the fanciful words accompany Eloise as she drifts off to sleep. I know she is too little to follow the story and her vocabulary comprehension is likely limited to “more moomoos?” and “There’s Daddy!” But I believe that some part of her subconscious is soaking up the essence of the words and that their special magic sweetens her dreams.
Around this time of year my loved one’s voicemails and inboxes are inundated with requests to discuss Fall Decor aka FD aka My Obsession. With the first whiff of Autumn and the first crackle of leaves, my body has a kinesthetic reaction. My heart starts racing, my pupils dilate, my mouth begins to water. I feel like I might throw up with the anticipation. I have self-control though (barely). I always wait until the weekend following the first official day of Fall to begin my ministrations. And that time, my friends, is NOW! This weekend begins it all! Candy corn laden apothecary jars! Warm rust silken throw pillows! A spray-painted pumpkin or two!
My bean jars! I almost forgot about my bean jars! They are the BEST part! Stay tuned for a viewing of this year’s finished creation. Until then, I will provide you with this teaser from last year’s festivities!
Don’t worry… we will not be redoing this idea again this year!
So I have a really controversial new boyfriend. Brakes is okay with it. He is crushing on my new BF a bit too. His name is Dr. Richard Ferber and I think I love him. A lot.
You see, Dr. Ferber managed to give me what no other man has managed to give me in the last 6 months; several consecutive nights sleep.
Many of you have heard me
lament discuss Eloise’s inconsistent sleeping habits. Yes, I understood that lack of sleep is part and parcel with new babies; we knew that going into this rollercoaster. What we did not predict is what lack of sleep was going to turn me into. Brakes is a type-A personality who fine-tuned his working-through-exhaustion skills while getting his PhD (did you know I married a doctor?). The only time I practiced work-through-exhaustion skills was when I made it to class after a wild night partying freshman year of college. Lets just say, I become insane I don’t manage well with no sleep. So after an official six months of feeling like death and complaining about it incessantly bravely muddling through my exhaustion, Brakes and I had a heart to heart. Brakes took scientific data (I told you he was a doctor) and determined that Eloise sleeps less than an average adult which is about half as much as she should be sleeping. This, combined with a crazy wife, convinced Brakes that drastic measures needed to be taken.
I did some research. It turns out we had been informally following Dr. Sear’s methods for encouraging babies to sleep for several months. It obviously was not working so we had to change our strategy. For weeks my very wise mom had been urging me to let Eloise “cry it out”. Being stubborn and independent, I refused to listen. I did not feel comfortable allowing my child to cry herself to sleep. Shudder. I was admittedly indignant and self-righteous (and just generally an ass) in these conversations with Mom. However, when I happened upon this video at www.babycenter.com, I realized that CIO was something I just might have to succumb to… besides it was invented by a doctor, how bad could it be?
We had a plan. We would put Eloise to bed, awake in her crib and let her cry at 5, 10, then 15 minute intervals. When the interval was up, we would briefly go to her, rub her back, give her a kiss, then skedaddle out of her room.
The first night she made it through the first two intervals. By the 15 minute check point she was sound asleep and sweetly sucking her thumb. I wiped the tears from my face, sipped my hefty glass of wine, and Brakes and I congratulated ourselves on our stoic parenting abilities. Eloise slept all night. The next night we had a repeat performance however she was asleep by the 10 minute mark. For the last week Eloise has been taking 2-3 good naps per day (for the first time IN HER LIFE) and sleeping all night.
In fact, she is so much better at communicating what she wants, as well as putting herself to sleep. For example, I never realized that she wanted a third nap each day. Now she gets fussy and if I carry her back towards her bedroom she stops whining, if I turn and go into another room, she wails. If I do an about face and go back to her room, she is quiet until I place her in her bed where she rolls over, grabs her blankee and sighs contentedly.
It is like having a completely different baby and it leaves me with some actual time on my hands for
blogging and painting my toenails cooking and cleaning. And that, my friends, is the reason I would cheerfully enter into a polyamorous (did you see that True Life?! Umm, yeah. I told you I had time on my hands) with Brakes and Dr. Ferber… or, as I like to call them, my Doctor-Double. Flame all you want but I have a baby that sleeps through the night… and just look how happy she is: **It should be noted that I do not advocate the Ferber method for everyone. Our child happened to respond to this method positively and did not cry/scream for four hours. The parents out there who have dealt with that, hats off to you! Brakes and I would for sure have broken.
Okay people, as my less-than-stellar camera skills hint at, I am not a technological genius (insert your best Ross impersonation here). In fact, I had to trade smooches with my high-school boyfriend so that he would make me an email account. I needed it to apply for college- I was that far behind the curve.
On the nest, my online community when I am not traipsing around in blog-land, (and can we just note, how random it is that I even have an online community? As stated above; I am NOT a web-savvy-gal) it was proposed that we have a weekly blogging challenge to keep things interesting and to get to share each other's fab blogs. Now that I know there will be people not related to me (or people that I stalk and then guilt into “following” me. Just kidding. Anyways.) looking at my stuff, I decided it was time to change things up a bit. Plus it is finally officially Fall and, as you know, I’ll use any excuse to have me a little Fall Decor (FD! SO EXCITED! OMIGOSH).
After exhaustive Google searches (Windows Live Writer is my new best friend) and a couple of practice efforts I managed to change my background, design a new (massive, I’m working on that) header, up-load it all, and change my format so my pics don’t publish all hinkily spaced. (How did I, a busy new mother, have time to rock my blog you ask? One word: Ferber. Don’t judge- we did what we had to do.) Hopefully now Brakes and Gas will be easier on your eyes (though I make no promises as far as the content). So without further ado:
Challenge #1: Why do you Blog?
I started a blog for several reasons:
I still blog today for several reasons:
Apparently she swallowed a substantial amount of avocado after all. Its enough to make your eyes burn…
And yes, I do realize I just openly discussed poo in cyberspace. I am pretty sure that means I am officially a mommy or something. TGIF; Brakes will be home to change the next “residual solids” mess in my kid’s pants. I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine. A big one. It is a good thing she is cute.