Monday, December 10, 2007

Just Stick with Nordstrom, People

My embarrassingly expensive and ridiculously enormous brassiere recently broke. I was bending over doing something acrobatic (no doubt) w/Nicknack at tumbling class when I heard it snap. Darn. It was my favorite "hooter-holder."

It's only a few months old and Nordstrom has such a generous return policy that I'm tempted to call them and inquire about a replacement. I've been washing it in a mesh lingerie bag, so I don't think it should have snapped after just a season of use. But since I've worn it almost every day (I have a back up that I only wear when my favorite is in the wash), I probably got my money's worth. I even wore it to tennis, under a sports bra!

It's one of those foam "t-shirt" bras, which I love because no matter what you wear over it you get lots of coverage. You know what I mean?

In an attempt to be frugal, I decided to replace it with a much less expensive version from an online source. Same size and nearly identical.

While I was at it I ordered two other bras, because this incident made me realize that I need more than one flattering bra. Also four pair of undies that matched the first bra. And eight pair that matched the other two bras. So much for saving money. But I got almost all those items for just a little more than the original bra.

Well, the package arrived today. I was so excited. About underwear. But I was.

I opened the package and tried on the first bra. Too large. Wow. I didn't know they made bras too large for me, but apparently they do!

I tried on the second bra. Too small. I looked at the tag and realized it was one size smaller than the item I'd ordered and didn't match the itemized packing slip.

The third bra I pulled out of the bag was the wrong color. White. And tiny. Well, to me. I haven't worn a C-cup since high school!

I reached in again and found another bra - the one I'd ordered. It fit... but was all wrong in all the wrong places. Back into the bag it went.

I pulled out four pair of undies. Cute. Finally, something I ordered that fit. Woohoo!

Then I reached into the bag to retrieve the eight pink undies that should have been the last thing in the package.

I pulled out a bra. Another white 34C. Hmm.

I pulled out another. And another. And another. And another!

They'd sent me eight little white bras instead of my undies!

Don't you think the person packing the bag might have noticed that someone was REALLY excited about that white bra, to order eight!? Who orders eight bras!? Does anyone actually own that many bras, much less order them all (plus the other three) at one time?

Anyway, after all my ordering I have exactly four pair of underwear. Everything else has to go back. And tomorrow I will head to Nordstrom to replace the original.

I heart Nordstrom.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

When it Rains, it Pours

Seriously! After my oh-so-graceful ankle injury (just a sprain, ptL!), Nicknack came down with the flu. Then me. Then Penn. Thank heavens not at the same time. We each had a day all to ourselves. :) Despite all three of us getting flu shots this year.

You know what is especially fun? Ralphing, while a small person stands a couple feet away imitating you during the intervals. That is just a special memory to be treasured forever.

Later, when Penn came home he said to Nicknack, "Poor Mommy is sick!" Nicknack agreed, "BLAAAHH!"

Nice, right?

Our week has also been peppered with small annoyances. A flat tire. FOUR insufficient check charges (at $32 a pop) because I accidentally transferred almost all the money from our checking into our savings account, instead of the usual paycheck amount. Our mailbox hanging open and the sopping wet mail inside. Penn's boss calling him into work at the last minute, on the day I was sick. The man literally hasn't had two days off in a row the entire month of November, including the Thanksgiving holiday.

Just irksome stuff, you know?

But it's all small potatoes compared to what a lot of people around here have been dealing with due to our freakish weather. Very stormy all over the Pacific Northwest. Lots of flooding, property damage, and a few lives lost due to falling trees and that sort of thing.

Our little street was featured on NBC Nightly News a couple of evenings ago. Our house sits on a high cliff on the Puget Sound - luckily, pretty far from the edge. Just below our bank lives a little cul-de-sac of 12 houses. Picture two steps with the beach being the floor and our house being the second/top step. They are the first step. The storm caused some of the bank to slide, destroying the steep road down to the cul-de-sac. It even sent one of the neighbors' cars sliding into their home! No one was hurt, thankfully, but all the families were evacuated and work crews have been working around the clock since then, to get them back into their homes.

UPDATED TO ADD: Our street was featured on CNN this morning, although the reporter pronounced our town of Bur-i-en as "Byurn." I guess the image of our neighbors' car in their house is the "symbol" of the storm/damage.

So that is a big thing to deal with. I'm grateful that our little aggravations, uh-ohs, and BLAAAAHs are just that. little. At least for right now. Subject to change at any moment, of course. Into every life a little rain must fall and most lives are devastated by a few storms - of one kind or another - at some point. Who knows what the future holds? Well, God does. He and Only He knows who, when, why, what, and how. I'm grateful that He holds the world in his hands whether the storms rage or the waters are calm.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I forgot to mention that Penn never heard back about that job in my mother's small college town in central Washington. We were all mildly bummed about it, but the major silver lining was that Penn wouldn't have to leave his current job before Christmas bonus time (about 15% of his total salary). We count on that money for our annual retirement and college saving plans.

Trusting God's plan for your life has so many benefits, including making it easy to gracefully accept disappointment. We got over it pretty quickly and he has applied for a job in Wisconsin that sounds amazing.

This morning I checked his e-mail (I'm his "PR" person, you see) to see if he'd heard anything new about the Wisconsin job. Instead there was an e-mail from the hiring manager for the Washington position to see if he was still interested in that job. They pushed the hiring date back and are just now moving on with interviews. So he'll be interviewing next week.

It would be pretty amazing if he got this job, in such a perfect location, AND we were able to keep that bonus!

But, if not, we are both totally excited about moving to a small Wisconsin resort town, especially since the house that is part of the compensation package is right on the lake! And it pays much more than the Washington job and comes with a vehicle, which is not the most important factor, but would be a nice consolation prize!

And if neither job works out then I'm sure something else will pop up. Gotta trust a God that is as good as our God!

Smooth Move, Ex-Lax!

I'm sitting in my husband's recliner, watching Sesame Street. Why am I watching Sesame Street, you may ask, since Nicknack isn't even in the room, as he's getting a bath in preparation for his 18 month check-up later this morning. I can't give him said bath or even get up to find the remote and change the channel because I have done something strange to my ankle.

This morning I got up early so I could get in a good workout and clean the house, which is looking extra untidy this week. Alas, 3/4 of the way through my power walk DVD my ankle gave out on me and as my entire weight fell on it, at a strange angle, I heard (or felt, not sure which) a sickening crunch.

I'm SO BUMMED. SO SO SO BUMMED. For so many reasons.

At first, because of the pain. Ouch. But now that my husband's pain meds have kicked in it feels much better. Thank heavens for my husband's hernia surgery pills.

The second reason is because almost every time I start to get into an exercise routine I have an injury setback. Last time it was running and I developed Plantar Fasciitis. Which ended my short-lived (but in my mind ,glorious!), running career almost completely. The first of such injuries was In college when I actually got to the point where I could squeeze myself into a size 6 (I kept the pants, as proof) - which, for me, is totally tiny. Then I sprained my ankle playing soccer in the dormitory hall with a boy I had a crush on. No more aerobics and I quickly regained all the weight I'd lost. And there have been a couple of other incidents in between.

I hope my foot isn't broken. I did break my foot in junior high school at cheerleading practice, but that was only because I was trying to prove that I could do the same tumbling pass as the squad captain. Despite the fact that she was a lifelong gymnast and I was a complete amateur. It looked so easy, you know? I would like to point out that I did land the tumbling pass, before crumpling to the floor.

Another huge reason I'm bummed? Tennis. Oh, tennis. How I will miss you for how ever long my ankle will keep us apart. As I may have mentioned, I heart tennis. I've been taking lessons once or twice a week and renting the ball machine at the club once or twice a week. If I could, I would play tennis seven days a week. So I'm super distressed about not being able to play.

Finally, there is Nicknack. I saved the most important thing for last. How am I going to take care of him and the house when I can't even drive? Or walk. Penn had to help me get in the shower this morning. I had to get in there and shave my legs, since a doctor and/or nurse will be checking out my foot in a couple of hours!

Anyway, I'm totally bummed and hoping that this is a very short-lived injury and that I can wear an aircast or something like that. That is isn't broken and I'll be able to resume my normal household duties asap!

My lovely Mother-in-Law is coming to help me today, and to stay with Nicknack while Penn takes me to the doctors' office. Thank heavens she isn't the judgemental type, since the house isn't in tip top shape. I do plan to crawl around and tidy up (I wonder if I can vacuum on my hands and knees) as soon as my husband leaves the house.

Dang. Penn just came back in from the garage to order me to stay in this chair while he's at the Pediatrician's. He mentioned that he'd better not see anything cleaned up or moved when he comes home.

What if I have to go to the bathroom?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nicknack's Not Quite 18 Month Letter

Dear Nicholas,

You are just about to turn 18 months and I wanted to record some things about who you are at this stage of your life so I never forget. You and anyone else reading this are likely to find these thoughts incredibly mundane. But to me they are incredibly special and important.

I want you to know how much I like you. Of course, I love you. Every little molecule of you and more than you can imagine. But I also like the person that you are. I appreciate your spirit and enthusiasm for life. You have a lot of oomph. You manage to be both an angel-straight-from-heaven and monkey-like at the same time. It's a pretty nifty combination.

You are an extremely busy, inquisitive, and independent little person. You usually have your mind set about what you want to do and it is difficult to distract you or redirect you. You still throw tantrums when things don't go your way, but we've found that if we give you more freedom you respond better to the things in life that you dislike. For example, instead of picking you up and carrying you to your room, we now tell you its time for night-night or time to change your diaper and you jump up and run there yourself. Once there you are much more willing to be put in your crib or lay down on the changing pad. This is a big difference, since for the past nine months you have thrashed and cried through every single diaper change! I guess it feels more like your idea this way.

After 18 months of being ridiculously doted on by your two old parents, you have become pretty affectionate. We treasure your kisses and hugs and are mildly jealous when the other gets a smooch from you. Whenever you give us a hug we have always said, "aaaaw." So now whenever you hug a person or thing you also say it. You like to hug the big orange stray kitty that we've unofficially adopted and he is so sweet to let you do so. You even like to hug pictures of animals in books. You just put your ear to them and say, "aaw." You like all people (especially Grandpa Wayne and Uncle Harry), but you are just off the charts crazy about animals. You squeal with delight over your Gramsy's dog Maddy and never tire of watching her catch frisbees. You try to throw things for her but you haven't begun to understand that you throw things for her not AT her. You are also smitten with Bebe, our bird, and would love nothing more than to hug him. If only he would let you.

You have been doing a lot of new things lately. You like to imitate some of the things we do, which is very cute. We bought you a play kitchen and you like to pretend to drink out of the cups and say "aaaah!" after each sip. You spend a lot of time brushing your teeth in the morning and before bedtime. You wouldn't let us do it for you (without a tear-filled episode) until you observed your Daddy and decided to try it yourself. Now you are so thorough - sometimes you walk all over the house brushing your teeth for twenty minutes at a time! When the children fall down playing ring around the rosie on one of your videos, so do you. You also take our hands to make us tickle you or give each other five. Which is one of the tricks that you can do now, too.

You're also saying a lot of new words. Of course, only your Dad and I can understand what you're saying most of the time. For example, "apple," "bubble," and "Elmo" all sound remarkably similar. When you saw snow on the television this week you pointed and called it "buh-bos." You also say "oush" and "oh-oh" when you bump your big noggin or drop something. For some reason, shoes are "ish." You've been saying "dah-ee" for Daddy for a long time. When you want him you call for him with a desperate and heartfelt "DAAHH!" You never say Mama at all! But you also say "ooh" for "moo" and can't say "meow," so maybe it's an "M" thing? You say "up!" when you want up and when you want down. You say "haythe" for hat. You also know hot and head, but all three words sound pretty much alike. You say "hiii!" to everyone, everywhere we go and wave and say "biiiiiye" when you're ready to leave or when someone leaves the house. "Kkk!" means yuck and kick, depending on the context. "nmnm!" is no. But you don't respond to no at all, so instead we say "Leave it!" when we want you to leave something alone. And you are pretty compliant most of the time. "goomb-goomb" is gigi (pacifier).

You have most of the animal sounds down. Puppy can be panting or "reff." Cow is "ooh." Sheep and horse are both "ah-ah-ah." Monkey is "ooh-ooh." Our personal favorite is for piggy, which is your interpretation of your Dad saying "oink-oink-oink" very quickly. It's impossible to describe, so I have to catch it on tape. Kind of "bloiybloiybloiy." You even "Weep!" like Bebe. You're version of a quack is "cuhk."

You still have a few food-related quirks like drinking all your milk and juice cups flat on your back on the floor. And you still aren't a great eater, but have gotten much better with your swallowing. Your current favorites are Gramsy's zucchini bread and cranberry sauce. You also like pizza and asparagus, which proves you are my child. We discovered that you love Thanksgiving food, so you have had leftovers for two meals a day for almost a week! When you eat something you like you say, "mmmm!" and when we tell you to use your teeth you say "num-num-num."

Right now is a special time because in some ways you are still a baby, but in many ways you have become a little boy. You love to make noise - banging metal measuring cups on any and everything or just using your voice. You talk to yourself and us all the time in your own beautiful little babble language that Daddy calls "Nicklish." You like to throw and kick balls and run all over the park. You adore rocks and dirt and the great outdoors. You even squished a big fuzzy caterpillar before your Daddy could stop you/save it. You just put out your pointer finger and poked it in the middle until it was two caterpillar halves. :( Sorry, Mr. Caterpillar. You almost always look a little unkempt because of your molars, which cause you to drool and have a wet shirt most of the time. We had to get you another haircut because your fluffy fro got too unmanageable. Your Gramsy was so sad to see your big boy haircut last week.

Your favorite activity is still reading books. You read them several times a day. When you get up in the morning and from your nap we find you in your crib reading. Your favorite is your John Deere farm book, which we are both sick of. You are also really really interested in letters right now. You point to each letter on signs or shirts and "read" them. "D." "S." "E." Sometimes you even get the letters correct. ;) We sing the alphabet song a lot and you say the "a, b, c" and "w, x" parts. You adore Sesame Street and we watch a lot of it around here. You like to point out Elmo whenever you see him in a book or on TV. Today I was trying to figure out what potty chair had apples on it until I realized you were saying Elmo. We didn't buy you the that potty because I thought it might be too distracting - we chose a less exciting model.

You created your first "drawing" with a pen and paper a few weeks ago and it is a masterpiece I will forever cherish. You also enjoy bubbles. You like to play with the telephones and hold the remotes up to your ear. You've accidentally called your Grandma Helen and two of your Daddy's colleagues on the cell phone speed dial and a few weeks ago some unknown lady was on our speaker phone saying, "Hello?" because you'd called her. But she was very nice about it when I explained what happened.

You still love to play peek-a-boo and hide and chase and hang upside down and you have a great time at tumbling class. Although you are the worst in the class at circle time. You sit in my lap for about ten seconds (literally) before going limp (great technique, by the way) or squirming out of my arms. I just let you run around shrieking with delight while the other children sit quietly and cooperatively in their mommy's laps. I admire your gumption, I guess.

You aren't a cooperative child but you are mighty fun and there is never a dull moment around here. You are almost fearless, but your kryptonite is the dust buster and vacuum when they are left out and you play with the buttons and turn them on. They give you quite a start and you scream for help. Oh, that reminds me that last week you got your head stuck in one of the dining room chairs. You're always into things and you can unfold an entire basket of folded laundry and empty a cupboard or drawer in about four seconds flat. You keep us on our toes. We both would love for you to have a brother or sister soon but sometimes we look at each other and laugh and say we must be crazy to think of another baby when the two of us together can barely manage you!

Well, that's you in a nutshell. Your Dad and I are still absolutely ga-ga about you. We have the biggest crush on you and we talk about how precious you are when you're napping and miss you so much when you go to bed that we sometimes go get you from your crib to sleep with us. Even though you totally hog the bed and I end up right on the edge. I love you and I love our little family.

Oh, and the other day at Linens n' Things a woman left her cart and came running out of the store to tell us how beautiful you were and she even gave us her card because she is a modeling agent. So there you go. You would make the world's worst model because you would never sit still for a moment and if you were supposed to be interested in a toy you wouldn't like it and would instead want to look at the photographer's watch and would get red in the face and cry alligator tears about it. And besides, she probably gives a card to every baby she sees. But still.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

News Flash


What's new? I miss you, Siestas! But I've been keeping up with your blogs, even if I haven't done the same with my own.

Here's a quick news flash.

1. I heart tennis. It's expensive though, with the club membership, fancy new racquet, comfy tennis shoes, and lessons! I'm taking a series of eight private lessons and in a couple of weeks I start my weekly group class. It's sooooo much fun. I'll let you know if I end up at the US Open or anything like that. ;)

2. We are feeling so great about our decision not to move to Atherton, CA. Weekly one of us will say, "Aren't you glad we aren't in California right now?" No offense if you happen to live there! It just wasn't the job, town, time for us. We want to move somewhere small and podunk, not a major metropolitan area!

And a job has opened up in one of the top ten places in the world that we would like to live. Make that top five. Make that top three. It's a small, four seasons college town in Central Washington. And it just happens to be where my favorite girl in the world hangs her hat... my very own mother! Wouldn't it be amazing if Penn got the job and we were able to live there!? I'm not getting my hopes up AT ALL, but it's fun to think about. I even have a house all picked out. It's an adorable Cape Cod about a half mile from the college and five minutes from la casa de mama. Did I mention that I've always wanted to work at a college?

Even though this job is a major long shot, it just makes me realize how happy I am that we didn't commit to something that we didn't feel good about. The opportunity cost would have been huge.

3. Nicknack is a handful these days. Even more than usual!

Here he is at the pumpkin patch:

And with his favorite "person" - my mother's dog, Maddy:

Friday, October 12, 2007


I haven't been posting much lately because I've been busier than usual. Actually. I have the same amount of things on my "to do" list, I'm just doing them. Which is time consuming and has distracted me from my blog. The house is clean, the laundry is caught up, I've been making dinner every night, and I have tackled organizational projects I'd been putting off for months and months.

And I haven't been spending much time with MacHenry, my laptop.

Today the Lillian Vernon kid's catalog arrived and I sat down with MacH to order a few things for Nicknack for Christmas. That was about 90 minutes ago. Because I decided to visit several websites and blogs. And made a few lists. And read a few articles. And just generally waste a lot of time. Valuable time. 3/4 of Nicknack's nap time, actually. Kind of a bonehead move. That's the only time in the day to get things accomplished that aren't possible with a 25 pound "helper" who seems determined to undo whatever I've just done. So I just wasted almost an entire nap!

I realize how much time my laptop sucks from my life. It's a black hole. Even more than television. Because TV time automatically has limits. Shows end. Sometimes I'll sit down for lunch and select a sitcom from my DVR list. If I fast forward through the commercials I have about 22 minutes before the recording ends. Of course, I can always choose to watch another show. And another. And another. I usually don't. But even if I did, at least a couple of hours don't disappear without me even realizing it, like they often do when I sit down with my laptop.

So I need to be more disciplined with my computer time. Set a timer. Limit myself to certain times of the day - evenings, after Nicknack has gone to bed, maybe. Open my laptop with a specific task in mind and close it when that task is complete. Something like that.

Because I like myself waaaaay more when I'm on top of my game. When the house is clean and free from clutter I maintain it. I make dinner. And maybe dessert. Keeping up with an already clean house is much easier and more pleasant than cleaning up a great big mess every few days and sitting around feeling bad because the house isn't tidy the rest of the time. I feel like I have so much more time! And I feel more motivated to do fun things with Nicknack. How about an impromptu trip to the park? After all, the house is clean!

I know there must be some people who genuinely are not affected by the state of their house. But my mood and self-esteem seem to be inexplicably intertwined with whether or not my home is in tip top shape.

If the house is messy I am messy. I might be wearing my pajamas. In the afternoon. I'm definitely not wearing any lipgloss. I probably brushed my teeth, but not necessarily my hair. I start to think about how I'm something like an unpaid maid. And not a very good one. My life is boring. I'm boring. Maybe I should get a job outside the home, since I'm not very good at this housewife gig.

When the house looks good my spirits are immediately lifted. Hey, what a beautiful day. I love my life. How lucky am I that this is my job? What a wonderful husband I have. What a great house we have.


I don't think housekeeping has much to do with being a good mother. I would never assume that another mama with a messy house was lacking as a parent. In fact, I once knew a woman whom I would categorize as a not-so-good-mom with the most immaculate home imaginable. But for some reason I stop feeling like a sucky mom and wife the instant the house hits company-ready status.

Lately I've been feeling like I'm actually making a home for my husband and son. You know, like a homemaker? Go figure.

Anyhoo, it's been so nice, and I'm more than happy to sacrifice a big chunk (almost all) of my computer time to keep up with my life.

So on that note, I'm not sure I'll be blogging much in the future. I'll probably post a blog when something happens that I want to record. I'll still keep up with all of your blogs, but not on a daily basis.

Now I'm going to publish this post and shut down my computer for the day so I can try to squeeze in a chore or two before my oh-so-helpful toddler wakes from his nap...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Blah blah blah

I've had a case of the blahs lately.

I think it's because I've been feeling so sluggish and sleepy a lot of the time. I've been sleeping a ton, getting up late, and still ready for a nap at any given moment throughout the day. I even went through the Starbucks drive thru this morning and purchased a pumpkin latte in an effort to start a coffee addiction.

I don't actually enjoy the stuff at all but I would love to be one of those women who starts her day with a 5am quiet time and cup of joe. Thanks to all the sugar and whatever else they put in a flavored latte, mine was mildly pleasant - although I would like to state for the record that I tasted no pumpkin whatsoever. I quickly determined that a coffee habit is a lot less convenient (and much more expensive) if you have to leave the house to procure some. And I'm quite sure I could never learn to tolerate the horrid stuff that comes out of my husband's coffee maker each morning. You know, just regular old non-latte java? Aaghck!

So coffee is out.

I spoke with a friend today who suggested I get my thyroid checked. I also think I will schedule a sleep test, as my husband thinks I may be experiencing sleep apnea. He claims I hold my breath a lot while I'm sleeping.

So I have my annual ladies exam on Tuesday (woo hoo, right!?) and I am going to schedule a regular physical as soon as I can get into see a doctor. I hate, hate, hate going to the doctor. All because of the dreaded weigh-in. (duhn-duhn-DUHN!) And although I don't overeat anymore, the weight hasn't melted off as those diet commercials would have me believe. I clearly need to start exercising. But that's the last thing I feel like doing right now, when I would really like to take a little snooze.

I also feel like I need a little more structure in my day, and it would do both Nicknack and me a world of good to get out of the house more. We usually stay at home unless we run errands, go to the grocery store, or make quick trip to the neighborhood park. The highlight of our week is our Thursday Bible study. Nicknack loves the nursery so much that every week I'm tempted to sign him up for day care just because I think he'd love it so much.

So today, after Bible study, I came home and used my computer for good. I found a Mommy and Me tumbling class at the local community center and signed us up for Tuesdays. It doesn't start until November, so in the meantime I booked us for a couple of drop-in classes at Gymboree and the Children's Gym.

Then I made a list of all the child-friendly activities in the area. We have two zoos, an aquarium, two great children's museums, and umpteen parks, pools, beaches, farms, etc. within an hour's drive. If we don't have anything scheduled for the day we'll pick one on the list and visit.

Then, because I was on a roll, I found a tennis center in the area and called and committed myself to tennis lessons before I could chicken out. I have wanted to learn to play tennis for a long time. I booked myself for a one hour individual lesson this Monday afternoon. (Penn has the day off.) Then after that I'll be taking a weekly group lesson on Sunday afternoons. I already checked the football schedule and it will only interfere with a couple of games.

I'm so excited!

But I'm still super sleepy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fun MeMe

Here's a fun meme!

1. MY ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car),
Dolly Cherokee
(Penn is Freddy Cherokee)

2.MY GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Cherry Tollhouse
(Jamocha Tollhouse)

3. MY “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name),

4.MY DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal),
Pink Parrot
(Royal Cat)

5. MY SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born),
Jean Anchorage
(Daniel Lakewood)

6. MY STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first),

7. MY SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink),
The Green Diet Cherry Coke... The Green Cola probably works best.
(The Red Mac n' Jack)

8. MY NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers),
Francis Curtis
(William Penn)

9. MY WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ),
Ann Henry
(James Elizabeth, okay that one doesn't work so well)

10. MY TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter),
Sibley Seattle
(Penn is Shaw Shreveport, how great is that?)

11. MY SPY NAME: (your favorite season or holiday, flower).
Autumn Hydrangea
(Independence I-don't-have-one)

12. MY CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Apple Tee
(Blueberry Sweats)

13. MY HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Granola Madrona
(Biscuit Redwood)

14. MY YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + A fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”),
The List-Making Thunder-Lightning-Wind Storm Tour
(The Playing-with-my-baby Snow Tour)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I just wanted to let you know that Penn's interview was a success, in the sense that it went well, he made it home safely, and he was offered the position.

However, he just turned it down.

Although the salary was extremely generous, the cost of housing in the area is $500/sq ft and up. ! He looked at several two bedroom cottages on itty bitty lots in the $550-700,000 range and wasn't impressed with the safety of the neighborhoods.

It is a beautiful area with lovely weather but very very busy and full of people.

We feel good about the decision and are excited about staying here for the holidays.

And in the meantime, I'm enjoying my four bedrooms, ample storage space, and normal-sized back yard!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Love Hurts!

I haven't posted in sooooo long because I haven't had anything new to report. And everytime I came up with a story or thought I want to share, I didn't feel like typing!

Yesterday was the first day of my women's Bible study after the summer break. It felt like the first day of school. I forgot how nice it is to get together with a group of ladies to share and pray for each other. We have two new women in our small group, which is very exciting.

Nicknack enjoys this weekly outing as much as I do. He's been attending with me since he was one week old. At about three months I started leaving him in the nursery, for church and on Bible study days. He just absolutely loves it there. He never really went through separation anxiety. Which was very convenient, but hurt a little. Several of the other children would throw a fit when their mommies left them. My guy was always like, "See ya later!" He hardly noticed I left. At all. Next time, I want one of those clingy babies. :) But now he at least runs to greet me and gives me a huge smile and hug when I return. I know all you mothers out there know what I mean when I say that I live for such moments.

I had no idea the affection of my child would touch my heart so much. It's almost like having a crush. I love when he holds my hand (rarely!), or gives me my morning hug, or reaches for me and says "UP-HH!" (His second word - the first was "HHAATTHH.") Now whenever Penn sees his mother he makes a bigger fuss over her because he no knows how much we parents crave the love of our children. I had no idea, pre-Nicknack.

The big news from yesterday is that Nicknack has a girlfriend.

My favorite friend at church (who is in my small group) has a daughter about six weeks older than N. In fact, we got to be pregnant together, which was neat. Her daughter is one of the most adorable children I have ever seen. Maggie (not her real name, but close) has fuzzy golden blonde curls and her eyes are so blue they look lavendar! She has the rosiest cheeks and an adorable perma-pout. The first time Penn ever saw this girl he was imagining the offspring she and Nicknack would produce. "Can you imagine his big eyes with her eye color!?"

She looks like a dolly. But she is a fiest! I don't know where she gets it, because her parents and five-year-old brother are all so laid back. But this girl is a force to be reckoned with. She walk and talked unbelievably early. Drank out of a cup and sat in a chair before Nicknack could even crawl! She is so much more advanced than him - it is hard to even describe. She has a huge baby vocabulary and a huge baby attitude. She is the sassiest thing I've ever seen in diapers. I just love her.

And so does Nicknack.

Oh, and she is bites. Her mother works at a preschool and daycare and is able to bring her with her to the latter job. To her dismay, almost weekly, little Maggie bites someone. My friend is right there, trying to prevent these occurences. But they just happen. And she feels horrible. She's tried everything I can think of.

Yesterday, for this first time, Maggie bit Nicknack. He and his gal were canoodling together in the nursery playhouse. Hugging and holding on to each others hands. How cute is that? I wish I could have seen it. I'm leaving my camera next week for the nursery ladies to capture the magic. Which ended abruptly when Nicknack put his hand on the playhouse doorknob. Ouch! Right on the finger.

Don't worry, the bite didn't break the skin and he recovered quickly. When I got to the nursery my friend and the nursery staff were so apologetic. But Maggie didn't look at all remorseful. She positively scowled at me. It is a good thing she is such a beauty. I can't imagine any little boy could ever resist her, despite her antics.

The bad news is that yesterday afternoon Nicknack tried to bite me! Twice! He was giving me a hug and then a semi-kiss/bite. I tried to be really stern and the second time I even gave him a little swat on his bottom and said "No BITE!" I don't really consider myself a "spanker," but I've already determined that I have the kind of child who might need the occasional swat just to get his attention. Nothing that hurts - he wears a diaper for padding, after all. But this is a habit I do NOT want him to pick up.

I am not going to keep him away from his future bride. But why couldn't he pick up any one of the dozens of words she says or her ability to imitate every single farm animal?

I'm hoping this is an isolated incident.

Penn flies to California for his interview this Sunday. If you think of it, will you please say a quick prayer for him for safe travels? I am petrified of flying. Kinda odd since my mother, aunt, uncle, and grandfather are all pilots. I've been flying in single engine airplanes since I was a newborn. But as an adult, I've developed a fear of jet flights and I hate the thought of Penn flying. And driving on unfamilar freeways.

I'll let you know what happens!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Atherton and Nordie's

Penn is flying down to Atherton for his interview next Sunday.


In other news, the retail area close to our home has a bunch of new stores going up! They're adding on to the mall, which will house an additional movie theater and eight new restaurants. AND there is a new Kohl's!! We used to love Kohl's when we lived in Connecticut, because they had a section for tall people. Penn, not me. ;) So Nicknack and I drove over to take a peek. Unfortunately it isn't open yet, just hiring. But there is a brand new Nordstrom Rack next door so I strapped Nicknack in his stroller and went inside to see if they had any cute earrings or fall clothes for the little man. Big mistake.

First of all, you should know that I hate shopping. Especially for myself. Ask my mom. I'm no fun. She's not a big shopper, either, so I guess that's where I get it. I prefer to do all my shopping at Land's End and Nordstroms (for cosmetics and stuff) websites. I hate trying things on. I hate waiting around for someone to bring me my shoe size. I hate leafing through racks of stuff to find just the right thing. But I must admist that I do like buying Nicknack's clothes, so that's the only reason I usually step foot into a mall or department store.

In addition to shopping, I hate crowds.

Well, this Nordstrom Rack just opened. It was awful. There were throngs of people. Also, they provide smallish shopping carts for shoppers, but the aisles aren't meant for carts. Then you have Nicknack and I, with our stroller and large straw handbag hanging off the stroller handle. The whole time I was frustrated because I couldn't get down the aisle or I was in someone's way or Nicknack had kicked something off a rack.

And I didn't find any cute earrings or anything for Nicknack. I walked out with a pair of gloves for my mother and a headband. Woo hoo.

(By the way, I've read on other people that some folks call Nordstrom "The Nord." That sounds so odd to my ears. Around here we call it Nordie's. )

I think I'll stick to my internet shopping, thank you.

But on the way home we stopped at the kiddie consignment store in the fancy zipcode next to our own not-so-fancy neighborhood. Where I found a baby gate for $8. Yay! I went expressly to look for another baby gate and they had just gotten it in today.

They also had two of those gigantic train tables for very reasonable prices. I have to decide between the two - one is higher for a toddler to stand at and the other is meant for kneeling.

Although, if we're moving to Northern California I'd guess I shouldn't buy anything I don't want to move.

Hey, has anyone reading this ever been to the Atherton/Palo Alto/Stanford area? What did you think? I looked at and the housing is soooo expensive. Like $600,000 for a decent condo in a neighboring town. Can you imagine? No wonder Californians are always moving other places. Who in the world could blame them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Answered Prayers

I haven't posted with job news because things are up in the air right now.

I've been praying that God would throw obstacles in front of the changes that aren't right for us. And at the end of each prayer I've tacked on a half-hearted, "and, of course - if you want us to stay put for a while, let us know." But I've not-so-secretly hoped God would see things my way, and uproot us in a major way. Because I love change. I really do.

Let's start with obstacles. There are three positions Penn has pursued in the past few weeks.

Position 1, at the ski resort, is just too big. Too many hours, a staggering amount of work and responsibility, too much stress, less time with us. Just a step backward as far as quality of life. Even though it would be an excellent career move... Obstacle city.

Position 2, at the Vermont inn? They hired someone else. So that's a small obstacle, don't you think?

Position 3, is similar to his current role, but a step up. A bit more managerial with more people to supervise and less hands-on. The big draw? It would be a HUGE salary increase. Huge. HUGE. I just can't emphasize how much more money it is. But there are obstacles. Like it is in one of the most expensive zipcodes in the Silicon Valley. Where are we supposed to live, even on this (to us) amazing salary? For some reason neither of us are excited about it - the job or the move. That's kind of weird, in and of itself, right? No one followed up with Penn after last week's telephone interview, so we figured they weren't interested and that was okay with us.

In the meantime, I woke up early Saturday morning and Penn was missing. Not answering his cell phone and gone for several hours. I was racking my brain, trying to imagine where he could be. It started out innocently enough - Perhaps he's picking up breakfast at McDonald's, getting the oil changed, making a grocery store run - that kind of thing. After a couple hours I was considering more dramatic explanations for his whereabouts. Maybe he'd driven himself to the emergency room. Maybe he'd been in a car accident. Maybe he'd been forceably taken from the house, at gunpoint. Maybe he'd decided to leave us for that girl from the bar who'd thrown herself at him after the reunion. (It didn't bother me at the time, but I obviously hadn't forgotten about it, right?!)

Finally, he called. He was at the men's Bible study breakfast.

Oh. Oh-kaaaay.

He thought I would remember that it was scheduled for that morning. But even though I'd pointed it out to him in the bulletin a few weeks ago and he'd actually put the invitation on the front of the fridge I'd totally forgotten about it. In a million years, I didn't expect him to go. He didn't go last year. Or the year before that.

Wow. So totally unexpected and exciting. My husband. Voluntarily signing himself up for an organized church activity. Getting up early every other Saturday morning to discuss a book about spiritual discipline.

When he came home with his study book and Bible under his arm I was so proud! I tried to play it cool, like it wasn't in the least bit surprising. But it was. It still is.

That night he got out a calculator and figured out how many pages he needs to read to get through the Bible in a year. Ohmygosh. And he's already finished two chapters in his book and two days of Genesis.

I've prayed for Penn to have a closer relationship with God. He and I are always moving in the same direction, but at a different pace. The fact that he takes us to church every week, occasionally prays with me, says grace when the three of us eat together, and brings up spiritual matters fairly frequently - that is really more than I ever expected.

I've been pretty careful to give him space and not nag him about faith issues. Because that would be such an ineffective approach. From time to time I remind him that he is the spiritual leader of our family. For the past few years I have been so amazed to see him step into that role more and more. And I know his motivation for doing so has very little to do with me. I tend to try to control every little thing but I've tried very hard not to try to manipulate him when it comes to this kind of thing.

It's a fine line to walk between encouraging and supporting someone, with out trying to lead or coerce them, isn't it? I think it's the difference between a) asking a question to see if someone agrees with you or to change their mind and b) asking a question to see what someone really thinks.

So this is all so encouraging to me. And also my own Bible study is about to begin. I've signed up for MOPS. I actually have a social engagement on my calendar for the month of October. There is a women's retreat, Oysterfest with my in-laws, and my parents' "Barn Party," all in the same month.

All of a sudden I remember how much I love our house. I've rearranged a few things, which is fun and allows me to see it with new eyes. Our weather has been absolutely perfect for at least a month. Lots of variety, ranging from mild and rainy to summery and sunny. Fall is almost here - my absolute favorite time of year, which always serves as an emotional pick-me-up.

Basically, I feel like I've had a perspective shift. All of a sudden I feel quite content to stay right here for at least a couple more seasons. Maybe longer.

We still have the same goals - for Penn's career and to find a hometown for Nicknack. But they aren't immediate. I'm wondering if God hasn't been working on my heart and mind because the thought of a major change no longer sounds so exciting.

And Penn is on the exact same page, which is always a good sign.

But this morning Job #3 people called. They want to fly Penn down for an interview. I think he will go. Until you can see a place it's hard to know how you feel about it. It's always good to have more information to make a decision. But in my heart of hearts, I hope he doesn't like the area, the job, the people - something.

I know we can find a new church there, but that sometimes takes a lot of time. He's taken such a big step with this Bible study, I'd hate for him not to be able to go through with it. The move and all it entails, a new job and all it involves - both would be hugely distracting. Would he still make time to move forward with his Bible reading plan?

So I'll be praying about this, but right now I'm leaning toward putting the job hunt on hold until at least January. In the meantime I'm just enjoying September and looking forward to all the fun things happening, just around the corner. Here, where I am right now. For as long as we are here, whether that is three weeks, three months, three years or even longer.

Friday, September 7, 2007

White FLOUR?

This is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fall is in the Air

I forgot about the holiday weekend... Obviously, we didn't hear anything about the job on Friday. So we hope to have more information today or tomorrow.

However, in the meantime, we've done a bit of sleuthing. And found a few red flags. Red flag might be too strong a term. Pink flags? You get the idea.

Just so you have an idea of what I mean, the job is manager of a small, brand new resort at one of the best ski areas in the country. Penn would have to hire a team and do a bunch of other stuff in a very short amount of time. Construction on the resort isn't even finished yet. The schedule would be pretty much around the clock for four or five months. But then he would have two or three months off, paid. We've discovered that the housing that comes with the position is inadequate for our family. Housing would be a huge challenge, because a small, 1979 two bedroom condo in this particular area would run us at least $400,000. And there is a whole laundry list of other things that would make this position tricky - just technical stuff that only Penn would even notice about the resort plans. But the salary is lucrative and it would be a GREAT career move for Penn.

So it's still of interest to us, but there are a few... obstacles. And wasn't I just praying that God would send us obstacles if this thing wasn't quite right for Penn? We've brainstormed about three pages of solutions to problems that we think would prevent the resort from being smoothly run/successful. So we'll just see. There are a couple of other interesting, somewhat similar, positions that we expressed interest in over the weekend. So, who knows.

Thank you so much to those of you who commented or e-mailed to tell me you would pray for us. I really appreciate it! The thought of someone I don't even know speaking to God on our behalf is just so neat.

The nice thing is that we are in no big hurry. We are getting closer and closer to Penn's end-of-year 10% bonus, which is enticing, and an important part of our retirement planning/saving. And now that fall is practially here, I feel pretty content to stay here for another season or two. So we'll keep our eyes and ears open. We're ready to move with only a couple weeks notice (although I have GOT to start organizing the garage, so we'll really be ready!), but also happy to settle in for the autumn/winter. But when 2008 arrives, we'll step the job search up a notch or two.

So change is still in the air. But so is fall. And the joy that autumn brings to my heart is overpowering my heart's desire for change. Although the weekend weather was nice, today it is gloriously foggy and drizzly. And not the typical Seattle overcast that burns off mid-morning and turns into a summer day. Really, truly fall-like weather. Last night we had a huge (for us) thunderstorm, which is somewhat rare around here. We loved the late summer thunder and lightning storms that were a nightly occurence when we lived in Connecticut. So we threw open all the bedroom windows and watched for a while. Then we fell asleep to sights and sounds of the storm and the smell of fresh air, rain, and the beach down the cliff.

We interrupt this blog to report that Penn just called me about another interesting job that he spoke with someone about. So I must dash so I can help him draft a follow-up e-mail.

A personal assistant's job is never done. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Change is In the Air

The first time I typed this post's title I accidentally wrote "Changs is in the Air." As in P.F. Chang's? I wish! :)

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy acting as Penn's personal secretary. By that I mean creating his resume, writing cover letters, and sending e-mails on his behalf, to potential employers.

I have to be careful not to make it totally apparent that his wife is communicating on his behalf. You know, I can't say anything like, "Have a lovely day!" Penn would not even use an exclamation point, much less the word "lovely."

I hope you don't consider this unethical. I think of myself as his one woman recruiter/assistant/PR person. It's fun. I haven't gotten to do anything like this since the arrival of you-know-who.

So the job of Penn's dreams appears to exist. It's like someone created a position with him in mind. He's the perfect fit. At least on paper.

We'll see.

It's in a location that I never even considered as a place to live, which I won't share at this time. It's a very very challenging position, but would be an amazing career move and very rewarding. It's pretty special.

The neat thing is that I haven't married myself to the idea. I have given it a lot of consideration, because it's a very unique job and would affect the whole family. So I've had to work out the kinks in my mind. But I'm not emotionally attached at all.

I've been praying for God to make his will as clear as possible, throughout this job search. If something comes up that isn't right for us, I've asked God to throw an obstacle in the way. Something else came up that we considered, but there was a huge roadblock, which gave us the impression that it wasn't meant for us. So we'll see if all the doors fling open for this opportunity, or not.

At this point I'd estimate that there is a 50% possibility that this job will work out. If so, it will involve a move. And lots of changes to our family.

And I feel totally at peace about it, rather than the dreadful pit in my stomache that the thought of the last potential opportunity created. So I guess that's a good sign.

I'll keep you posted! We should have more information tomorrow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Does today's date ring a bell?

This morning I stood in front of my fridge, door open, scanning the contents for something appropriate for breakfast. A who-knows-how-old container of pasta stared at me from the "leftover" shelf, and triggered this stream of consciousness:

Hmm. I wonder how old that is.

That reminds me - I need to put marinara sauce on the grocery list.

When am I going to the grocery store?

I know, I'll go to WalMart again. That's always fun. Maybe tomorrow.

But last time I couldn't fit everything and Nicknack in the cart, so I'd better go without him.

I'll bet Nicknack would like Orzo. Oh, and Orviette pasta.

I'd better put those on the grocery list, too.

When was the last time I had Orviette pasta?

Oh yeah, I think I burned something with Orviette because I remember someone commenting on my blog that they hadn't heard of that kind of pasta before.

The first time I ever had it was last summer, when Penn cooked at at Fancy Italian Restaurant and Hotel while his boss was on vacation for a couple of months. Nicknack was a newborn. Penn came home really really late and brought home lots of good leftovers, which we we ate at one in the morning. That was fun.

Hey, we still have that gift certificate for $150 to Fancy Italian Restaurant and a voucher for an overnight Fancy Hotel stay that we haven't used.

I need to see if Penn's niece can come stay the night with Nicknack so we can use the certificate and voucher.

Maybe for our anniversary at the end of summer.

That's coming up, isn't it?

When is our anniversary, anyway? Think, woman, think!

September twenty-something? ... Noooo, that's when we had our reception, after the honeymoon. The actual wedding was in August.

Definitely August. Auguuuuuuuust...31? No, that's not right.

It was an even number.

I'll have to check the calendar.

Oh, I see. August 24. That's right around the corner. That's really soon.


Penn!? Is today Friday?


Because... um, happy fifth anniversary.

We are so lame!

But don't feel sorry for me because we didn't do anything special for our anniversary. Or even remember it, for that matter. I always get roses for Valentine's Day. I am never disappointed Christmas morning. And Penn makes a very very big deal out of my birthday. One year he had food flown in from my favorite Mexican restaurant, in Alaska. Last year I received a maternity spa day package at the swankiest salon in town. This past year I received a surprise MacBook Pro and he revealed that we have a secret savings account containing several months worth of his salary, unbeknownst to me.

You're probably wondering why he failed to mention this to me. And whether I was mad he'd kept it a secret... Short answer: no! Penn decided to pretty much forget about this old account when we were newlyweds and he realized that I had - ahem - spending issues. And then after a few years, when I'd gotten my fiscal act together, it really had slipped his mind. Then he remembered and thought it would make a fun surprise for my birthday.

Who forgets money? I guess the same guy who forgets his anniversary. Luckily his wife is forgetful, too, so he isn't in hot water.

Five years. Sigh. It's gone by so quickly and yet I feel like we've been together for twenty-five years. Twenty-five good years.

I guess I'd better go bake a cake.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Terrible ONES?

Although I read dozens of baby and parenting books and had quite a bit of experience with young children, I was still pretty unprepared for motherhood. I think parenting is just one of those things in life that you learn on the job. Kind of like marriage. For the past 15 months, life has been full of surprises and opportunities for problem solving. One thing that no one ever told us to expect? Babies can throw tantrums!

I was a legendarily hot tempered two year old. I was also the family's only redhead. My tantrums are still part of family lore. Why is it that our behavior for such a brief season is forever remembered? My cousin Cara? She had colic. Her brother Craig? Literally perfect. Emma was a biter. Tara went to the bathroom in the front yard (more than once!). Maggie was basically a nudist. Alicia tried to knock off her newborn brother. And I was the mayor of tantrum town.

So I was prepared for the fact that, if my son took after me in temperament as much as in looks, he would probably follow in my fiesty footsteps. For the first six months of his life he was an extremely easy going baby. But as soon as he started crawling his personality became more apparent. Now that he could get where and to what he wanted, it was clear that he was a lot like his mama. When things went his way, he was perfectly pleasant. But he wanted to do what he wanted to do. And he didn't want to do what he didn't want to do. And he wasn't shy about letting us know when he was displeased.

I didn't worry much about it because one of the little girls in the church nursery, about six weeks older than Nicknack, threw fullblown face-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming tantrums quite regularly. I figured it was normal and he would outgrow it, as he had other annoying phases. Like sticking his tongue out and blowing raspberries all. the. time. or the the month he decided to take up SHRIEKING as a hobby. Besides, for a few months at least, he was easily distracted from his fussfest.

Well, he hasn't outgrown any of it. His brief, amusing fits have turned into actual tantrums. Not of the truly terrible, award winning variety. Yet. But tantrums, nonetheless. They are often sparked by mama or daddy telling him "no" or taking something away. We try to avoid unnecessary conflict, but sometimes it can't be helped. Some days he just wakes up from a nap determined to be cranky and the least little thing will set him off. At times we don't even know what he's protesting. The most frequent source of frustration for him is the fact that there are gates preventing him from roaming the house. If a door is opened or a person steps over saids gates, the howlfest begins.

Big alligator tears. Mouth frozen open, mid-yell. A big inhale, then silence for several seconds. Followed by a piercing cross between crying and screaming. Face and body gently and oh-so-pathetically strewn on the floor. After a few moments the crying ceases and the angry babbling begins. Oh, how I wish I spoke Nicklish. Then he wanders around complaining for a while, stopping to cry again when he remembers the offense afresh. This goes on for several minutes. It's all very sad.

We try to be tough. Sort of. We ignore the tantrum part as much as possible while still encouraging him with our words or a hug. We try to distract him but that rarely has any real effect anymore.

If he was older, I would know just what to do. I was a nanny for a couple of years for children ranging from just barely two to nearly nine. In each of the two families I worked for the youngest child was a pretty accomplished tantrum thrower. Jock excelled at the basics. Hold breath, turn red, scream bloody murder, repeat. But Jilly had more flair for the dramatic. Like the time she threw herself into the deep end of the pool. Even though she couldn't swim. Oh, and she had an ace up her sleeve. Nosebleeds. I realize that she didn't will them to happen, but they were still effective and well timed. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I assumed that if I could handle those two (not to mention their older and sometimes equally rowdy brothers and sisters) I could deal with my own child's antics.

I just didn't expect it before his first birthday! Because, although I was known for being a difficult, my mother swears I was an easy baby. It wasn't until I reached about eighteen months that I became the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.

So what is the deal? Is Nicknack just getting this tantrum stuff out of the way ahead of schedule or are we in for all this PLUS the actual full-meal-deal terrible twos next year at this time? Is this common behavior at his age?

And more importantly, what should we do about it? Should we be more strict? Should we be more diligent in ignoring the behavior completely? Should we lighten up? Is this a behavior problem, a bad habit, or just a natural and acceptable way for him to express himself? I just don't know what he is capable of grasping at 15 months. Of course, he understands "no." But beyond that.

Well, whether there is a remedy or not, I suppose we'll just wing it. The reassuring thing is that whatever little quirks he has now, he's likely to outgrow in time. I still have a sassy temper and like things "just so." But I manage to keep my cool 99.9% of the time. I haven't had a tantrum in days. Just kidding. Jilly (now 16) is an accomplished swimmer and an aspiring thespian. Jock (10) is, from what I hear, quite a nice, mild mannered boy. Alicia (24) has accepted that her brother (22) is not going back to the hospital. Every time I see Maggie (27) she is always fully dressed. Tara (31) has successfully potty trained her own three children. Emma (32) hasn't bitten anyone since she was three. To my knowledge. Craig (38) is still wonderful, but even his mother (my favorite aunt) would have to admit he isn't perfect. And Cara (35), thankfully, no longer suffers from colic. Although she still has an attitude.

So, long-term, there is hope for my little terror. And in between the grumpy episodes, he is smiling ray of sunshine. And even when he's being decidely bratty? He's still our joy. And, praise the Lord, he still takes two two-hour naps and can now be counted on for 11 or 12 hours of sleep each night. During which time he is a perfect angel :) and I have the opportunity to recover and refortify for the next round.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dear Fox Sports

I love football. I really really love it. I really really really love it. Pro or college, I love almost everything about it.

But you know what I hate? What I really really hate? That stupid Fox Sports football animated player robot/transformer/thing. Do you know who I mean? The one that looks like he's warming up - stretching, running, bouncing, and pointing. ARG!! All last season I whined about him, every time I saw him. Most NFC home games, and thus most Seahawks games are broadcast on Fox, so I complained a lot. And he's back. I can't believe it, but he's back. And I really really hate him. I don't know why. I don't know what it is about him that bothers me so much. He's just so annoying!

When I really think about it, it's his attitude. Although he doesn't speak, you can just tell by his body language that he's all cocky and trash talking. Like someone based him on the most obnoxious moves of the most annoying players.

And really, that is the worst thing about the football. I'm sure it isn't limited to football, but that's the only sport I watch. It's especially pronounced at the professional level. You rarely see it in quarterbacks, although it does sometimes rear its ugly head. It's a lack of class. Poor sportsmanship. Arrogance. I don't know if it is a male testosterone thing, or what. I don't think so, because it annoys Penn almost as much as it irks me. He hates that dumb robot, too.

Dear Fox Sports:
Next season, please consider modeling your robot after the men who give football a good name. You know, players like Sean Alexander, Matt Hasslebeck, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Walter Jones, Michael Vick (just KIDDING), or my favorite (but recently retired) Grant Wistrom. I don't know what any of these men are like off the field. But in uniform at least, they are respectable.
Thank you,
Kitty Hox


PS: We are watching the Jets-Viking scrimmage and a cat just trotted across the field. The announcer said, "There's a cat on the field... now that's just good fun." It was pretty cute.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Extreme Baby Makeover

For several months (and as recently as a week ago) I have been declaring that I was not ready for Nicknack's first haircut. Well, I changed my mind. I was pushing his Fab Five sideburns behind his ears and trying to swoop his bangs to the side for the millionth time and I just decided it was time. The next morning I made an appointment at a nearby children's salon for the following day.

I thought I might have second thoughts, but after the appointment was made I actually felt great about the decision. The kid is practically running! Even I can't deny it. He is no longer a baby. Besides, if I had major haircut remorse I knew it would grow out pretty quickly.

Penn has been pro-snip for a couple of months now. But as soon as I got on board with his way of thinking he suddenly became a lot less comfortable with the idea. We agreed to save all the hair and took a bunch of "before" video and photos this morning. Then we buckled our mophead into his carseat and drove bravely to the salon.

The place was so cute that we were distracted from our conflicted emotions.

Here is the cute apple/Mount Rainier mural in the waiting area:

Aren't these adirondack chairs sunshine-y?

There are lots of toys, although we didn't need to use them because there was no wait:

And here are the chairs... Isn't the horse chair neat for an older child? We opted for the tractor.

Here is Nicknack, modeling his "before" style and looking like a junior member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America, for those not in the know):

We discussed the style of cut and decided on a "not-super-short-preppy-traditional-almost-a-big-boy-cut." Our stylist Janet was a total pro. You could tell she works with a lot of wriggle worms.

He was not at all traumatized and stayed busy with the tractor wheel and various distracting toys. Although at first he kept trying to get me to pick him up/rescue him. And occasionally he would try to turn around to see what this crazy lady with scissors was doing back there.

After Janet had snipped most of his locks my heart did a flipflop. For a split second he looked about five years old and I got a glimpse of my future big kid. (Note to self, must have another baby, pronto!)

Luckily his monkeylike behavior brought me right back to reality and served as a constant reminder that he is definitely still all toddler.

Ta da!

We have no regrets. We're glad we waited until it was so long and messy all the time that we were ready. And I'm sure we'll let it grow out again until it gets to the point of no return. AKA "somebody get this kid a haircut!" We did and we survived!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Reunion - Part II

So about the reunion... Sigh. 

When I heard (what I thought was) the cab pull into the driveway after midnight I figured that was a good sign. I assumed that if the party had been a bust Penn would have returned home much sooner.

So I was surprised to see him shuffle in with a sheepish look on his face, brother-in-law in tow. The reunion was, in a word, "lame."

You know how I was so worried that it would be awkward and uncomfortable? It was. That no one would remember him or talk to him? They barely did. At least he did not get into any fistfights.

Not only did not one of Penn's friends show up (which we'd expected) none of the people he even knew casually were there. It was, apparently, a sea of unfamilar faces and nametags. He didn't recognize anyone. It was like it was some other person's high school class reunion. Here and there a vaguely familiar name. That's about it.

And just in case you were wondering, a twenty-year reunion isn't a great time to make new friends. Everyone is so excited to see each other and caught up in animated conversation that they don't notice the lonesome looking guy, all by himself, feeling kind of losery. I tried to think of what Penn could have done. What the most outgoing and practically unembarassable person I know - my stepdad - would do. I think he would probably have boldly approached a group of people, politely interrupted them if he had to, and introduced himself with a super friendly smile and confident handshake. But that isn't Penn. 

Penn did what I would have done in this situation. First, he visited the restroom. Surely by the time he came out someone familiar would have arrived. Nope. So he ordered a beverage and chatted with the bartender for a several minutes. And yet no one he knew had shown up. With feigned (but intent) interest he studied the poster-size yearbook photos plastered around the room. Still nobody. Desperate, he approached the group of teachers. He hadn't had any of them. Not a single one. Finally he parked himself near the entrance and tried hard to look like he was not in the slightest bit embarrassed. Like he was having the time of his life sitting alone at his high school reunion while everyone else laughed, hugged, and reminisced. He waited and waited and waited. For just one acquaintance to glob onto. But no such luck. Stranger after stranger walked by, looked him over with a blank expression, and kept moving. It was then that he began to detect looks of pity. Which was just too much for even unflappable Penn. 

He thought to himself, "This isn't fun." And he left.

He walked a long way to one of his favorite old haunts (a bar) and called his brother-in-law. They hung out for a few hours, listening to some band. Apparently he caught the fancy of an attractive (according to my brother-in-law) and inebriated (according to Penn) young lady who kept attempting to sit in his lap. She told him he looked like someone who could dance. Hint, hint! So he got to dance after all. I'm sure the attention was good for his bruised ego. And luckily, I'm not the jealous type.

After his BIL left we talked in great detail about the evening. He appeared to be the only single person there. I felt so bad that I didn't accompany him, although I'm not sure that would have helped much. I asked him if he at least was dressed right. Thank heaven for small favors, he was. To be honest, he looked like a million bucks. "Dressy casual" suits him. 

I just felt devastated for him last night. He was not emotionally affected, but it just hurt my heart that those JERKS... I don't know. I don't know what all those reunion revelers should have done differently. They didn't do anything wrong. But I have to blame someone.

I tried pinning it all on his old high school buddy who first called him and got him to agree to go before backing out when he found out how much it would cost. But Penn would not let me stay mad at this guy, even though I wanted to. And I couldn't if I wanted to because he's one of those people who thinks Penn hung the moon and how can a wife not love that in a person? He has a foot long ponytail and a Harley and he's always trying to tell me some old story about Penn that is sure to outrage me. But he does have a heart of gold and I'm sure he didn't mean to set these events into motion. 

Penn blames himself. And he's probably on target. I think he just got a bit nostalgic and forgot that he didn't actually like school. As he put is, "I grossly underestimated how uninvolved I was at my high school." 

His graduating class was quite large. But the reunion group was not. It appeared to him to be mostly athletic teammates and former club members. Well, did he participate in any group or sport? No. Did he attend pep assemblies, games, or school sponsored events? Not a one. Oh, except for the senior prom. To which he brought his TWENTY-SIX year old girlfriend. And stayed less than an hour. (Can you even fathom a twenty-something woman who would date an eighteen-year-old boy, much less accompany him to his high school prom? Has this person no pride? And she was pretty, too - I've seen photographic evidence. Merciful heavens.) Did Penn go along with the rest of the class on senior skip day? No. He went with friends to Canada that day. Did he go to the all-night graduation party? No, he went camping instead. Come to think of it, his photo isn't even in the yearbook because he'd missed the deadline.

"So you basically did everything you could to avoid getting to know your classmates in high school and now you feel like Mr. Nobody because you aren't part of the gang?"

"Yes, that pretty much sums it up."

Then it all became pretty funny and we had a good laugh about what nerdy losers we are. This must be why Revenge of the Nerds is one of our favorite movies. (Although I know many parts are extremely inappropriate.) I secretly marveled at his miraculous transformation from this smoking, drinking, and goodness-knows-what-else-ing high school smart aleck to my Penn. Oh, he's still a smart aleck. But he's also Mr. Family Guy. Clean cut. Church going. Friendly and kind. Dad of the Millenia. Loved by all. Well, it has been twenty years. 

Sunday morning I woke up and didn't even remember about the reunion until I saw his nice outfit in a bunch on the closet floor. Oh yeah. What had seemed so sad and upsetting the night before turned into a big, "Oh well." 

Thank goodness this happened to Penn and not to me. He just lets this kind of thing bounce off of him. I desperately hope that Nicknack and any future children we may have inherit this trait from him. I don't think I can handle all the slights that are bound to come their way throughout childhood and adolescence. Especially if they are as hypersensitive as I am. Penn's mother always says that having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. It's going to be very difficult for me to restrain myself when someone teases Nicknack, or excludes him, or picks a fight with him. As it is, I still would like to call up each of Penn's classmates and yell into the telephone "Your loss!" and hang up. Hee hee. Just thinking about it is very satisfying.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Class of '87

This evening I am home alone with Nicknack while my husband attends his 20th high school reunion! I am not tagging along because... well... I don't want to go. And Penn doesn't mind, so that works out. Hanging out with a bunch of people I don't know for five hours, hearing (potential unflattering) stories about my husband doesn't sound like fun.

What makes it sound especially unpleasant is the fact that the friends Penn has kept in touch with since high school are not attending. Penn was in one of those "too cool for school" crowds. You know, the ones who skip a lot of school, have a secret place on campus for smoking, and throw the wildest parties. Not one of them was curious enough to shell out $100 to attend the Clover Park class of 1987 soiree. Except for Penn. He decided to go at the very last minute (last night) because he thought it would be "interesting." He loves to people watch. So he is actually showing up at this reunion all alone. To me, this sounds uncomfortable and awkward... at best. To Penn, not so much.

He isn't the slightest bit nervous. I have been anxious for him all day.

Me: What if no one talks to you?
Penn: So what?
Me: What if no one remembers you?
Penn: They will.
Me: What if they don't?
Penn: Who cares?
Me: What if that one guy who you got into a fight with in high school is there and he challenges you to another fight! DON'T FIGHT HIM!
Penn: Honey! What do you take me for?
Me: Oh yeah. Okay, what if he says something mean to you?
Penn: He won't.
Me: What if he DOES?
Penn: I'll walk away from him, dear.
Me: What if there is dancing?
Penn: I'll dance.
Me: By yourself!?
Penn: Or I won't dance. Whatever.
Me: What are you going to wear?
Penn: Whatever you say I should.
Me: Okay. Just have fun. And be yourself.

And so on. I feel like I'm sending him off to his first day of school.

I'm so thankful that he doesn't mind me staying home because I would be hyperventilating with anxiety right about now. Penn is unflappable. He really doesn't care very much what people think of him. And he's not really a joiner.

I care very much what other people think of me, and I usually assume they are thinking the worst. I never feel like anyone likes me. Even if they are nice to me I figure they are just being polite. I'm insecure. It's annoying. No wonder no one likes me. :)

Which is why I've signed up for and attended the Seattle Junior League orientation twice, then chickened out and not joined. But I am going to muster up my courage and join MOPS this fall.

By the way, I did not attend my own tenth high school reunion a few years ago. I never even entertained the idea. Now if there was a middle school reunion, I might make an appearance. I was at the top of my game in middle school. A cheerleader. Tons of good friends. Lots of great memories. Then we moved and it took me a little while, but I made up a lot of ground (socially). Then we moved again. This high school was a bad fit for me. I latched on to the first group of kids who reached out to me. Which turned out to be a crowd that was way too fast and cool and rebellious for yours truly. I got in serious trouble (Saturday detention!) for the first time in my life. So finally I ended up at my alma mater, where I spent two and a half fairly happy years. I was way past the point of trying to fit in. I eventually made some decent friends and life was pretty good. But it just wasn't the kind of experience that meant that much to me. I have only kept in touch with one friend from high school, and we're hardly what you would call close. I barely remember high school. I wish my classmates well. And that's that.

We visited with Penn's family today and I dropped him off at the swanky reunion location on the way home. Boy was I relieved to pull away as he strode confidently across the street toward the building entrance. I wonder what he's doing right now. I'm picturing the scene from Pretty in Pink. Same music, same decor. But full of middle aged, "dressy casual" partiers. I hope everyone remembers him and everyone talks to him and there are no awkard moments or fistfights. I can't wait until he comes home late late tonight so I can hear all the details.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My Parenting Philosophy

Before I had a child I was the world's most accomplished parent. In my head. But when Nicknack arrived I quickly discovered what an amateur I was. So many of my pre-baby ideas (based on months of pregnancy spent with my nose in books) just didn't seem to fit, apply to, or work on my little darling. I soon adopted two babyrearing mottoes: a) Muddle through (Thanks, mother!) and b) Whatever works! Both of these philosophies have served me well and I shall continue to practice them as I move through the toddler years and beyond.

But for the past couple of months (since Nicknack turned one), it appears that the time has come for a little more structure and deliberate parenting. Rhyme and reason. Our little baby isn't a little baby anymore. We are no longer in survival mode.

So we've been working on a few areas where what once worked well isn't working anymore.

1. Nicknack's Diet. He's not a good eater. He hardly gained any weight between his nine month and one year check ups, while he went from 25% to 75% in height. Both Penn and I would like to see him with a little more meat on his bones. We've been desperate enough to feed him a few things that I never imagined would take up space in my cupboard. Because, well, he likes it and actually eats it. Swallows it and everything! But I know a nutritious diet is important. It takes a little more effort to actually cook something semi-nutritious and it requires a lot of cajoling and distraction to get him to consume such things. We're adopting the old 80/20 rule so 20% of the time we will be filling him up with crackers if we have to, to make up for all the healthy meals he picks at.

2. The Bottles. Until very recently, Nicknack hadn't mastered the sippy cup. And he refused to drink real/cow's milk. We've taken my mother's suggestion and mixed it with a little vanilla milk, which we will gradually reduce until he's drinking his milk straight up. And we found some great soft-spout sippy cups (Nuby brand) that he's actually figured out how to "work." So at 14 months he is finally consuming the recommended daily quantity of milk - and in sippy cups to boot. Yay!

3. Table manners. Nicknack hasn't learned that he has to TIP up the sippy cup to make milk come out of the spout. Or tip up the bottle. All this time I've either held it for him (gee, do you think that could be the problem?) or put him on the floor, on his back, so that gravity does the work for him. Nice, right? Also, he doesn't use a spoon. At all. Probably because I've rarely given him one. The other day Penn brought him some cheerios in a little snack cup and I thought, "How cute. A cup. He's just going to fling/dump the cheerios all over the floor." Which he did. Which is why I take his snacks and just put them in a little pile on floor, on a book or something. Or keep them in my hand and dole them out. I feel like a petting zoo warden. And I have all but given up preventing him from making huge messes. One day Penn came home and wondered why I was scrubbing a trail of jello out of the living room and dining room carpet. I guess if he was giving Nicknack cherry jello he would restrain him in his highchair? He's so practical.

I'm starting to realize that just because Nicknack acts like a little animal doesn't mean I'm supposed to treat him like one. There must be some way to begin the process of civilizing him. So far, I've just left him to his own devices. I guess I've been waiting until he's old enough to comprehend rational explanation.

"Nicknack, this is a bowl. We put our snacks in it and take out bites, one by one. Which we don't spit out on the floor at some later time."

"This is a spoon, here is how it works. Let's NOT rub the spoonful of food in our hair and eyes."

"This is a sippy cup. Tip up the bottom end and you'll find the milk comes out, like magic!!"

"Although I can see why it could be delightful, I would prefer that you not attempt gymnastic feats while holding some banana OR walk around flinging cheese."

Until he is capable of such detailed instruction I guess I intend to do everything for him or just let him do whatever he does? Hmm. Probably not a good plan. I have no idea how to remedy this problem, but I'd better get a handle on it quickly (or hire a full-time housekeeper) as it's getting out of hand around here.

We do have a few questionable habits that I think we'll hang on to for a while.

1. The Gigi (pacifier). We've started restricting its use to naptime, bedtime, and occasional car rides. And I always carry one in case we are out-and-about and all heck breaks loose. But we aren't going to wean him off it yet, per his Pediatrician. Plus, you don't know the lengths we've gone to to identify and procure our particular discontinued brand/style of gigi. Which is the only pacifier that will do. Here is a photo of the recent shipment that caused us to do the happy dance. We had been limping along on just four pacifiers for nine months. We usually knew the location of one or maybe two at any given time. Almost every single evening you'd find either of us trying to locate one under the crib. We still have to search every so often but we now find five or six under there! Woo hoo! Did I mention that before I became a mom I didn't think babies should be given pacifiers?

The gigi bounty:

Baby Needs-a-nap:

2. The Pajamas. Nicknack wears his PJs until after his first nap, usually until about 1pm. If we aren't leaving the house or playing outside, I often just leave him in them until bedtime and put on a fresh pair. It's kind of embarassing to look through his photos and realize he's wearing pajamas in the vast majority of them. But really, he has very few social obligations or callers. They are comfy, cozy, and cute. And flame retardant. And he has the rest of his life to wear jeans.

Pajamas as swimwear:

3. Last, but not least... The Hair. We still haven't cut it. Is shaggy? YES! Is it unmanageable? Without a doubt. Does it transform into some seriously laughable bed head? Definitely. But I'm not ready. I'm holding out for 18 months and in the meantime I'll trim his bangs. If I absolutely must.

His hair is especially disheveled because these photos were taken post-afternoon nap. So this is TWO nap hair, people! To get the full effect you really have to click on and enlarge the photos:

I think this photo best sums up our parenting style/philosophy:

Nicknack and his DatDat. Out of doors. In a pajama top - no bottoms, even. Hair couldn't be messier. But they're both having quite the time. And so was I, behind the camera. In fact I'm having quite the time, in general. I like being Nicknack's Mama even more than I thought I would back when I had it all figured out. Now that I think about it, life in a petting zoo is pretty great.

PS: I blurred out some of the crumbs on the floor in that last photo. In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must tell you they were there. But the floor was just a little too crumby to post on the world wide web, as it was.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Waiting and Walking

I am perfectly happy to wait on God.

It's waiting on other people that absolutely drives me bananas!

We're just waiting on some information about a potential job for Penn. It makes sense that other people don't handle our lives with the same sense of urgency and expectation that we do. But wouldn't it be nice if they did?

The funny thing is that we aren't in any big hurry to relocate far away, which is what a new job probably means. In fact, after the winter holidays would be ideal timing. So that gives us about six months to look-y-lou, wait, decide, etc.

But if something wonderful comes up between now and then we are ready to spring into action. But to spring into action or decide against something we need to know more about it. So that's what we're waiting on.

In the meantime, Nicknack is entertaining us with his newfound love of walking. It's very exciting for all of us. He walks all the time, all over the place. So at least we have some diversion while we wait.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Question re: Spiders

Like many ladies, I'm terrified of spiders. When I see one that is too menacing for me to squish with my sh-mop I have been known to call my husband home from work to take care of it. He used to do it cheerfully, but I think this act of valor has lost its charm. If a spider is on the small side I make sure to rescue it, which I hope makes up in some small way for all the spiders I've smooshed over the years.

I won't even tell you about the giant spider hanging out on the ceiling over our bed on our honeymoon in Italy. Oh wait. I just did. What a fiasco. Nothing says romance like a big Tuscan spider staring down at you. Buongiorno!

Penn and I have just started taking a looksie to see what kind of job opportunities might be out there for him. Some of the best options are in places with big spiders. And other pests, which don't bother me so much. Snake? "Shoo!" Beetle? "Ick!" (But not scary.) Rat/Mouse? "We'll get one of those traps and release it in a field somewhere." Armadillo? "Aw, cute." Lizard? "Let's give it a name and keep it as a pet."

I'm the kind of person who feeds the backyard raccoon cat food, sticks up for pigeons and crows, and would be delighted to find a deer or rabbit devouring her garden. I love frogs and turtles. I think slugs are cute. Penn and I once took a field mouse left by a stray cat to our vet, who was kind enough to put it to sleep because it had a broken back. Don't even get me started about the giant fuss and half a day my mother and I once spent to rescue a trapped bird at Macy's. We drove to Home Depot to find a two story ladder! (Luckily someone finally came and freed the bird.) My point is that I just love critters. Even the ugly ones who, after all, can't help it that they aren't cute and fuzzy. So why doesn't this apply to spiders? I guess am just too frightened to be tenderhearted toward them.

My question is for all of you ladies who live in buggy places. I have heard that exterminators can't keep eight-leggers out of a house. Is this true? Please, oh please, someone from someplace with spiders tell me you have a relatively arachnid-free household.

Or maybe you could assure me that a person gets used to Harry Potter-sized spiders dancing across her floor? Kind of like how people in towns with pulp mills supposedly stop noticing the unpleasantness? I would love to think it possible that one day I might spy a large spider in my home and not hyperventilate. I'd calmly capture it in a jar, wish it a good day, and send it on its merry way in the backyard.

I really don't want to let something as silly as my fear and loathing of spiders prevent my husband from taking a wonderful new job!