Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

People!

Sorry it's been awhile since I rapped at ya, as my man Jim Anchower often says, but we have had some serious shit going down.

We are buying a new house! It's true. It's all happening. There was much back-and-forthing with the offer and the lawyers and the blah blah blah, so things were up in the air for quite a while, but now it appears that all is well and we will be closing some time in mid-to-late January (it's set for the 18th right now). Woo-hoo! Now that it seems it will actually happen, I feel comfortable showing you some pix.

There are lots of pictures of the snazzy kitchen, because when they remodeled it in 1997 it was featured in a kitchen-design magazine. It is the most well-appointed kitchen I have ever been in (prep sink! pot-filler! indoor grill!), and it is certainly the nicest room in the house. What they don't show you, of course, are the original 50's-era bathrooms with the buzzing fluorescent lights and peeling caulk, but hey. All the better opportunity to remodel them and make the house our own, right?

We had the inspection yesterday and things look good. Nolan came with me for the inspection and saw the house for the first time, and he approves. Sample conversation (from the ride home in the car after the inspection):

Me: Did you like that house, Nolan?

Nolan: There was a night light! That was my favorite.

Me: Yes, there was a night light in the hallway. Would you like to live in that house?

Nolan: There were no cars in the rooms.

Me: Well, that will just mean more room for your cars!

Nolan: I want some snack.

And...scene! Nolan seems to have the expectation of lots of toy cars in the bedrooms of every house we've looked at. Not sure if he thinks every home has small boys living there and thus large amounts of toy cars, or if he just assumes that everyone is interested in cars and therefore has a room full of them in their homes.

So that's what we've been up to. Lots of phone calls and e-mails and scheduling and huge check-writing. I am excited and eager to get into the house and get situated, but not real thrilled about the prospect of moving in mid-January amidst the cold and the wind with the muddy boots on the wall-to-wall carpeting and the glaven. (It's been fucking COLD and windy here lately - I swear I saw a tumbleweed the other day whilst walking home from the grocery store. Made me think I was back in Wyoming.)

Plus we're already in the thick of applying to pre-schools for Nolan for NEXT FALL. Next fall! I was worried that KB had lost his mind when he mentioned pre-school applications, and that we were falling into the cliche of the snooty parents trying to get their dumpling enrolled into simply the BEST pre-school to ensure the little darling's entry into the Ivy-league college he is so obviously destined for, but it turns out that you have to apply a year ahead for EVERY pre-school, snooty or not. So we've also been consumed with decisions like: 3 days a week? Or 5? Co-op? Or Montessori? And all the fevered worrying about what is best for our child that that entails.

Thus endeth my long-winded list of reasons for Why I Am Not Posting More Frequently.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why does my queckery biffle you so?

I is a published author!

Check it out:

IM IN UR PAPER, RAGGING ON UR CITIZENS

Meanwhile, the hunt for a new house intensifies. We have a house of interest (like people the police don't have enough evidence to call "suspects," they call a "person of interest") that we're hopefully going to be making an offer on soon, depending on how the sellers answer a few of our questions.

If things move forward according to plan, I will show y'all some pictures. We're trying not to get too excited so we can walk away if need be, but it's so hard! Especially for me. I'm a big fantasizer. I'm already planning dinner parties (with what friends?) and bathroom renovations (with what money?) and kitchen-garden layouts. In November. So, yeah - reality? Not so high on my list at the moment, clearly.

I finally got off my ass and sent out a shitload of pictures of the little man, so if you haven't checked your e-mail lately, and you feel like watching a 150-picture slideshow and pausing it every three seconds because my subtitles are so damn verbose, please check here.

In response to your inquiries, Nolan was a monkey again this year for Halloween.

The costume from last year still fit (barely), and since this was our first official "trick-or-treat" year, Nolan didn't even have any idea what the holiday was, much less an opinion on what costume he wanted to wear. (Now he's Halloween savvy - just yesterday he told me "Want to wear monkey costume and get more candy!") I'm sure next year we'll be shelling out big bucks for some pre-fab tractor-trailer/car transporter/truck kind of costume (you know I'm not that mom who's going to be able to make my kid's costume) so we recycled the monkey costume while it was still possible.


We walked up our street and back again with another little boy from the neighborhood, Spencer, and his mom Sonya. Spencer was a duck who refused to pull his duck-hood up, and since people were often mistaking Nolan's monkey for a mouse (or occasionally a bear) we called them The Mouse-Monkey and The Angry Duck.

We were the first wave of trick-or-treaters at most houses, which was good, because we moved sooooooo slowly. Any activity undertaken with one toddler is, by its very nature, excruciatingly slow, so when you factor in the combined delay exponent of TWO toddlers and add the confusion of a holiday based on walking around in disguise to people's houses demanding candy, you get a trick-or-treat excursion that starts at 5:15 and ends well after dark.

After each new house's candy acquisition, Nolan would say, "Wanna open it!" and I would tell him to wait until we got home, at which point he could open one piece of candy, and he would reply, "Wanna go home." We managed to convince him to keep going long enough to get a respectable score of candy in his bucket. The biggest hit of the night was a mechanical bat on a string that flew around and around in the air on a neighbor's porch. We spent a good ten minutes at that house, two hypnotized toddlers staring into the dark.

So now we're rationing out the candy one piece at a time for dessert after meals. It will easily last until Christmas, I'm sure, when Nolan can replenish his candy supply, and we'll have to attempt to explain the special weirdness of the traditions surrounding Christmas.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What kind of man would take a job like that?

We had the 1st Annual Jane Rauth Memorial Broadway Show trip yesterday. My mom, my aunt, two of my cousins and their half-sister and I all went into NYC to see "Curtains" with David Hyde-Pierce and Debra Monk.


Can you tell we're related?

It was great for several reasons, not the least of which was just getting out of the house with some other "girls" for a day and talking about girly things. We had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant just up the street from the theater, which was that perfect NY combo of delicious, cheap and exotic. Yay, New York! This is one of the reasons we moved to Princeton, so we 'd have easy access to this kind of stuff.
The show itself was quite good, kind of a classic old-school show-within-a-show musical murder mystery comedy type deal. The cast was excellent - really the only snag was that David Hyde-Pierce has a shockingly bad "Boston" accent. He sounded like he was doing a Sean Connery impression with a mouthful of marbles. But other than that, he was impressive and quite funny - he had a chance to do some of the more Buster Keaton-esque physical comedy that I always thought he excelled at (and was underrated for). (See also: Niles Crane attempting to iron his pants.)

(In case you were wondering, Jane Rauth is my late grandmother, and was always the impetus behind all of our various trips to Broadway - she took me and my mom to see "Les Miserables" when I was 13, and when you've grown up in the barren cultural prairie of Wyoming, a Broadway production on the massive scale of "Les Mis" can really blow your mind. So I've always been grateful that she thought having some fun/entertaining/cultural events in your life was important. [My mom of course felt compelled yesterday to tell everyone else the story of my Broadway de-virginizing, when, as the orchestra struck up the overture at the start of the show, I turned to her excitedly and said, "Mom! It's a live orchestra!" Such is the thrill of the Great White Way when you grow up in a town where Cowboy Poetry passes for culture.])

All in all, an excellent way to spend a lovely autumn afternoon. I will save my rant on the exorbitant prices of Broadway tickets for another time.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick! Someone call the girl police, and file a report

It is currently 77 degrees here in Princeton, at five o'clock in the afternoon in late October - does anyone else feel that there's something wrong with that? Pumpkins on the porch, leaves on the ground...and shorts and flip-flops on every passerby. Although occasionally I do see someone engaging in what I call "wishful dressing" wearing jeans and a turtleneck, pretending it's autumn and sweating like crazy.

Whew. I'm glad I wrote that last back-to-reality post before I checked everyone else's blogs...Doc Broc's post would have made me a wee bit self-conscious, I think. I don't post those lists to sound cooler than I am*, honestly...it's more like, since I consider this blog (and all y'alls blogs) the way that we keep in touch with each other, I like to tell you what I'm up to. And read what you're up to. And then if we've read the same thing or seen the same movie we can talk about it. You know. Connect. Promote interaction. As much as is possible on the web, anyway.

I kind of went on total non-computer status there for a while - didn't read anyone else's blogs, didn't check e-mail, didn't surf the web at all. I'm not exactly sure why...I just needed to disconnect for a while, I guess. These past few months have felt like a sort of time out of time, an extended summer vacation, and the ridiculously warm weather hasn't done anything to disabuse me of that notion. I keep feeling like this life we're living in Princeton is just for now, and that sooner or later we'll have to go back to "real" life, whatever that is. Maybe it's because we lived like that for so long that I expect it to continue, or maybe it's because we're only renting this house so I don't think of it as our "real" house. I don't know. But there's been a feeling of impermanence hanging around me, and I need to take steps to remedy that - start getting involved in life in Princeton in a real way.

*Precisely 19% cool, if you want to know.

And now, a cute Nolan story, apropos of nothing:

Jake (the bigger, male, slightly-less-astonishingly-dumb one of our pair of cats) was having a spazz attack, running around the house in that sudden urgent way that cats have. Nolan was eating breakfast at the table. Nolan says, "Why are you running around, Jake?" and then answers himself as Jake and says, "I'm chasing my tail!"

And another bizarre message has arrived from the outlands of my brain regarding my choice of reading material and inter-arts confusion: I'm reading a book called "The Shadow of the Wind," a sort of gothic, multi-layered book-within-a-book set in Spain around the time of the revolution. It was recommended to me by my mother-in-law, who read it for her book club, and although I normally steer clear of "book club" books and anything that comes with a so-called "reader's guide" in the back, Ann (my mother-in-law) has pretty good taste in books and has recommended some past winners to me, so I'm checking it out. Of course, every time I go to pick the book up and see "The Shadow of the Wind" on the cover, I get the song from Pocahontas stuck in my head, the one that goes, "Can you paint with all the colors of the wind..." but since I never really got into Pocahontas the way I did some of the earlier "new" Disney movies (see also: Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc.) I don't know the rest of the words to that song, just a vague scrap of the melody, and then that runs over and over through my head and becomes distorted until it further resembles Ronnie Dobbs' plaintive show-stopper "Y'all Are Brutalizing Me" from Mr. Show's second season. And then I start thinking about that episode and how the movie they made from it, "Run, Ronnie Run" (with a guest appearance by Ebony's mayun) never really lived up to the brilliance of that episode, and how some comedy skits should just be left in their short incandescent wonderfulness and not be stretched and tortured into full-length films. Not that anyone from Saturday Night Live would listen to my puny little opinion, and not that I'm not grateful for the sight of Mandy Patinkin, stark naked, singing "Can't a man not control his bitch with violence?," but still. You see where I'm going with this? Neither do I, but it's far, far away from General Franco and the plight of everyday people in war-torn Spain, which is where I started.

Sigh.

Sometimes I worry about me.

Thanks for reading.


P.S. Yes, some new Nolan pictures are coming soon. Soon, I tell you!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Everyone goes south every now and then

Howdy, y'all.

No, I'm not dead, everything's fine. I just took a little blog break, that's all. I went through a month or so of thinking, "I really should post soon, it's been awhile" and then another month or so of thinking, "I'd better come up with something really good to post about to break this long silence, to somehow justify my continued absence from the web," and then the pressure (admittedly self-imposed) was too much and I didn't think about it at all.

So now I just thought, "Fuck it, Caroline, just write whatever, jeez. It's only a blog."

So here I am. We are all fine, Nolan's good, KB's good (Happy Birthday tomorrow, Sweetie!), I'm good, Princeton's good.

Things I have discovered in the past two months:

The ocean is a force to be respected.

Skinny jeans are not a trend I want to have anything to do with.

I'm much happier when I don't have to drive, but if we do go somewhere in a car, I wanna be the one driving. I have control issues.

You don't have to be a good gardener to grow good tomatoes.

Watching birds is really quite peaceful and relaxing.

Every home should have a musical instrument or two.

Sometimes it is better to want something but not to get it (a material item, that is, not something like world peace or a cure for cancer.) It keeps you craving and alive. Ditto for being hungry. It's okay to let yourself get hungry every once in a while. You appreciate your food more.

Books I have read in the last two months:

"What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng" by Dave Eggers - Powerful, grueling, humbling and inspirational.

"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert - Fun and funny, but quite possibly the worst possible book to read after "What is the What" - they are so different; even though both are ostensibly non-fiction, they take place in totally different universes.

"The Book of the Dead" and "The Wheel of Darkness" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - I used to love these guys; I read "Relic" in one sitting, but lately it seems like they just have a formula and they plug in the old reliable characters, add a dash of supernatural intrigue, and then half-bake the results. Don't know if they're worth my time anymore.

"The Big Girls" by Susanna Moore - I felt the same way I did about "In The Cut" - bleak and thrilling and like nothing else I've ever read.

"The Echo Maker" by Richard Powers - Picked this one up totally at random at the library and got lucky - an interesting amalgam of medical procedural and meditation on the meaning of identity.

"Bad Monkeys" by Matt Ruff - Fun and silly thriller, right up until the final one-twist-beyond ending, when I lost my patience.

"Midwives" and "The Double Bind" by Chris Bohjalian - Eh. Maybe I read them too fast, but I saw the ending coming a mile away in "Bind" and didn't care much one way or the other with "Midwives."

"On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan - Engaging and typical of McEwan, in that he allows his exploration of the innermost thoughts of the characters to comprise the entire story ("novel" is too generous a word for this one), but c'mon: a Booker-prize nominated book about premature ejaculation? Thank goodness it didn't win.

"The Yiddish Policeman's Union" by Michael Chabon - Very good, but not as good as Kavalier and Clay. Again, I suspect I may have read this one too fast.


Movies I have seen in the last two months:

"Michael Clayton" by Tony Gilroy - Amazing and well-written, going to have to see it again. And find the screenplay. So nice not to be condescended to at the movies.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" by Shekhar Kapur - Fun costume drama/soap opera. A real "movie" movie. Plus, Clive Owen in a puffy pirate shirt! Alalghalghaglaglllll...

"The Descent" by Neil Marshall - Started out sooo promising, then descended (pardon the pun) into typical schlock horror-gore. Disappointing.

"Raging Bull" by Martin Scorsese (yes, this was the first time I'd seen it) - Not really sure why this is considered such an awesome movie. Awesome acting, yes, but fairly pedestrian as bio-dramas go.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" by Shane Black - Pure pulp. Very funny and arch - made me love Robert Downey, Jr. again.

"Hot Fuzz" by Edgar Wright - Not as good as "Shaun of the Dead," but still better than 90% of the straight buddy-cop movies out there. KB laughed his ass off.

"Miller's Crossing" by Joel and Ethan Coen - Excellent, excellent, excellent.

"Richard III" by Richard Loncraine - Interesting adaptation. Ian McKellen kicks ass, of course, but not as revolutionary as I would have thought.

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" by Tom Stoppard (had to make KB watch it) - One of my all-time favorites. Every time I watch it I see new things to love.

"Coffee and Cigarettes" by Jim Jarmusch - Uneven but ambitious. Some of the scenes/skits made me think, "Why am I wasting precious free time watching this?" and I almost shut it off, something I rarely do, but I stuck with it and there were some worthwhile and funny bits, too.

So. Yeah. That's what I've been up to.

That and looking at real estate porn. Never in a million years would we be able to afford that house, not even when (if) KB makes partner and is making the "big bucks," but I love looking at it. I (heart) that house.

How are you?

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why can't I stay in one place for more than two days?

So I'm reading that Cormac McCarthy book The Road. Or rather, I'm trying to read it. I'm having a slight difficulty. Every time I pick it up to read it, I get the Tenacious D song "The Road" stuck in my head. If you're not familiar with the D's ouevre, well, let's just say it's not exactly a solemn song, as would befit a book reviewed by the Chicago Tribune thusly: "Why read this? . . . Because in its lapidary* transcription of the deepest despair short of total annihilation we may ever know, this book announces the triumph of language over nothingness." Yeah. Not your typical summer beach read. So this glaring incompatibility between a goofy pseudo hard-rock satire ditty and a grim post-apocalyptic mediation on humanity keeps clonking me in the brain and I haven't gotten very far into the book. Perhaps I should shelve it for now and find something a little more...fun.

*"Short, precise and elegant, like the inscription on a tombstone," according to Webster's New World Dictionary. I had to look it up.

This has happened to me only once before, this contest of wills between different art forms in my brain, and that was with the Wally Lamb book "I Know This Much is True." I kept getting that Spandau Ballet song "True" stuck in my head, which of course lead to that P.M. Dawn song "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," which sampled the Spandau Ballet song, and then I'd be sitting there going, "Whatever happened to P.M. Dawn? They were pretty decent. Huh. I gotta dig that CD out and listen to it again." and totally not reading the book at all. Of course, I could just blame my complete lack of involvement with the book on Wally Lamb, as I didn't think it was nearly as good as "She's Come Undone," which had me a sobbing mess by the end. (Yes, that is what I would call a good book.) I made the mistake of finishing that book on my lunch break at work and coming back to the office with red eyes and mascara smudges. So professional looking.

Yikes. In looking up the links for these books I see that they are all on the Oprah's Book Club list, apparently. That's sort of frightening.

Aaaaand that's all I've got.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Let's call the whole thing off

So guess what these plants are?

This little area between the front porch and the side porch used to be where we kept our garbage and recycling cans. There were four of them, two trash and two recycling, lined up front to back, and they sat on top of a whole bunch of what I assumed to be weeds.

Now, what you have to understand (and I really should have taken a "before" photo to illustrate this) is that these plants were NOT staked up , as they are shown in the photo. I did that after I discovered what they were. Before, they were all laying down and matted into the ground by the trash cans. Which the previous tenants had put there, by the way. So I don't feel I should be ridiculed too much for not recognizing initially that, amongst the clover and other assorted weeds, we have two very much alive and very actively fruiting tomato plants!

My mom was over two weekends ago, and why were we outside? I guess we were playing with Nolan and his tricycle, or she was getting in her car to leave, I don't really remember, and my mom knelt down and said, "Carrie, these are tomato plants!" I was all Scooby-Doo with my "Hurh?" I knelt down next to her, and sure enough, there were little green globes hanging from some of the branches.

The plants were practically on the verge of being run over by the car, so far out into the driveway had they protruded, and since I thought they were weeds, I hadn't really thought to do much about it.

But yes, they are tomatoes, and so I went inside and found some cheapie old brass curtain rods, pulled off the little finials, shoved them into the ground and tied the plants up to them. Then I dug all the weeds out with a cultivator and threw out some of the assorted trash and debris that had collected there because of the trash cans.

God know how these things got there, since I'm given to understand that tomatoes generally aren't perennials, and I certainly wasn't doing anything to take care of them in any way. Until now. Maybe the previous tenants planted them long ago, and the trash ooze leaking from the cans helped to fertilize them? I don't know.

So I went to the Home Despot and got a couple tomato cages and some vegetable fertilizer. Trying to shove the quite-mature plants into the tomato cages did not work very well, however, and in the end I gave up after only getting one of them into a cage, with much accidental breaking of stems and crushing of flowers and the glaven.

So who knows? Maybe in a few weeks we'll have tons of tomaters and a crushing need for my mother-in-law's fabulous Cream of Tomato Soup recipe. Or mabye we'll get a few stunted runty tomatoes and the rest will be killed by some bug that I don't know enough about gardening to prevent.

But in the meantime, yay! Tomatoes!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 03, 2007

You make the rockin' world go round

Oy.

So I joined a gym here in Dirty Jers, and a fine gym it is. I really haven't gotten around to much of the settling-in type tasks of moving to a new place (New dentist, new vet, new doctors, etc.) but I have, in fact, joined a gym, because I figures: New Town, New Life, New Me! Trying to be all the-glass-is-half-full about the relocation process.

The gym I joined is associated with the Princeton University Healthcare System, which is also what KB is affiliated with, so we got a nice whopping discount. Other than that, the main incentive for joining this gym is that THEY HAVE CHILD CARE, something that is essential to me, yet seems to be of negligible concern to most places. No child care equals no gym time for Caroline. (And how ghetto is it that the YMCA here has no child care? Was the Y back in Boston so terribly forward-thinking and awesome for having FREE child care for every family membership? Or is the Princeton Y so lame and recherche for not having it?) This new gym, this lovely place, has a fabulous child care center that Nolan loves (our first day there he didn't want to leave and cried when I took him out) and is content in, and really, that' s my only criteria, so I find it pretty lame that only one gym in the greater Princeton area fulfilled that criteria.

Anyway.

One of the perks of this health-care-center-affiliated gym is that every three months, you are given a free nurse assessment, a very thorough one, whereby they tell you your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, flexibility, body measurements and approximate body fat percentage.

You are also given a free personal trainer appointment once every two months so that you can get a little guidance as to how to improve your "numbers." This is excellent for people like me, who always go to the gym full of "This time I'm really going to work hard!" intent and end up on the elliptical trainer listening to Tenacious D on my iPod for half an hour, looking around for a while at all the complicated weight-lifting machines, and then stretching on a mat and packing it in. This does not really spell long-term motivation or success in improving my health, so I'll take the personal training where I can get it. These people should know how to help me out, right?

Lord, I sure hope so, because the numbers I scored today at my nurse's appointment were sobering.

Look, I know I'm not going to be auditioning for "America's Next Top Model" tomorrow, and I can certainly stand to work harder at taking care of myself as well as taking care of Nolan. I was prepared to be a little disappointed with the nurse's report, but I didn't think it was going to be THIS BAD.

I have 33% body fat, people! THIRTY-FUCKING-THREE PERCENT FAT! I am one-third gelatinous, jiggly, wobbly goo!

Look at this printout:


Not only do I have 33% body fat, I have 33 POINT EIGHT percent, which means I am borderline OBESE! OBESE! Aigh! Is there a more frightening word in the English language? Because somewhere between college (where I distinctly remember being equally appalled at being 25% fat) and now I went from "Moderate" to "Overweight" and now I'm bordering on "O-FUCKING-BESE!" How did this happen?

Sigh.

(I love how they try to personalize the information by inserting your name into the text with their little fake-friendliness macro. Like, not, "Lose some weight, you nameless shlub." "Go to hell, soulless machine!" But "Lose some weight, Caroline." "Oh, thank you for the advice, you caring printout, you!")

Even worse is the flexibility rating:



When I was in high school and we had those National Fitness Test Days instituted by Reagan or whatever neo-Fascist thought it up, flexibility was always the ONE area I did well in. All the jocks and cheerleaders were racking up the points on the Flexed Arm Hang and the Vertical Jump and the Sit-ups, but boy howdy when we got around to the Sit and Reach, I would bend down with my head at my knees like, "Bang! Reach that, motherfucker!" Off the charts flexible! Well, not anymore. Apparently, despite my months of yoga and my genetic predisposition to flexibility, I am now only on the borderline between "Fair" and "Average." That, in my middle-child good-girl straight-A Lisa Simpson mind, means somewhere between a D and a C. Sob.

I'm trying not to get too upset about this, despite my all-caps and my profanity. My weight is just one aspect of my life, after all. I think overall I have a pretty healthy lifestyle. I eat well. (And before you say, "Well, maybe that's your problem right there, genius!" let me just interpose that I mean I eat a balanced diet with lots of whole grains and not too much red meat and plenty of fruits and vegetables and blah blah blah.) I have the occasional alcoholic beverage but rarely overindulge. I don't smoke. I don't do recreational drugs. Anymore. Sob.

So why am I so jiggly?

And again, let me just reiterate, I am not really too concerned with my health overall. My blood pressure has always been and remains low (90 over 56), and so has my resting heart rate (62 bpm, thank you very much). This nurse's evaluation didn't include a cholesterol check, but I've had it checked before and there's no reason to worry there.

I'm just talking about fat, I guess. One more American woman obsessed with body image. But here's the thing: I don't want to look like Nicole Richie or Lindsey Lohan, poor souls. I couldn't give less of a shit about being "thin." I'd rather look like Mia Hamm or Serena Williams. I wanna be strong. I wanna be cut. I wanna be able to kick some ass. Shit, I just want to be able to pick up my two-year-old without wincing and worrying about putting my back out.

So, to the gym I go.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More human than human

Ugh. Sorry for the laxitude in updates. I have several half-finished posts that were interrupted and which, when I came back to them, didn't seem as publish-worthy (or even finish-worthy) as they initially did. I hate that.

All is well here, we are just settling into the Princeton vibe. Joined a gym, got our trash situation settled (finally), made use of the library (yay!). I am slowly getting back into a screenwriting groove, setting up some organization systems in the office and doing some brainstorming and note-taking.

More to come.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Have to admit it's getting better

Hey party people! What's happening?

We are just chillin' like villians here in our new Princeton home. (Note: We are not, repeat NOT, gellin' like Magellans.)

Awesome things about Princeton:

-Walkability - KB walks to work every morning now. It takes him 10 minutes, 12 minutes max, which is what it used to take him just to get to the T stop in Boston, after which he still had a thirty minute train ride. Here it's just 10 minutes, door to door. This equals more time at home in the morning which equals more sleep for KB. Yay!

Also, Nolan and I can walk pretty much everywhere in town, which means on the odd days when KB needs to take the car to go to one of the other imaging centers, we are not left high and dry. We can walk to the library (which is incredibly fabulously awesome and great), downtown, the grocery store, a large selection of parks and playgrounds...it's pretty damn nice. Walkability equals no need for a second car which equals big savings for us. Double yay!

-Diversity/Friendliness - Lots of people in Princeton are here for the school, as you might imagine, which means a fairly high population of people who are not permanent permanent residents, but more like short-term permanent residents (kind of like we were in Boston - we knew we had to be there at least four years, but after that we just weren't sure.) This translates into A) lots of different kinds of people, which is awesome, and B) people who are ready to break the ice fairly quickly. (In contrast to my M.O., which would be something like, "Shit, we're only going to be here four years, it's going to take me three years just to get to know someone well, and then we're just going to leave...why bother?" Ludicrous, I know.)

We met a woman in the sandbox at the local playground (she had her 18-month old son with her, she wasn't just sitting in the sandbox) who turned out to be the Chief Resident at the hospital and who, within 20 minutes of meeting us, offered to cat-sit while we were in Berkeley. We took her up on that offer. Nice!

-Proximity to family:

We haven't taken full advantage of this aspect yet, but Nolan's Nana has already been here many a time to get her Noney fix and to help us out by hanging with him whilst we unpack. We've also been invited to my uncle's wedding and my cousin's Eagle Scout award ceremony, both of which we'll be able to attend, because now we live close enough! Huzzah!

Some Weird things about Princeton (lest you think I am all starry-eyed and blinded by the newness of this love affair):

-Trash/recycling: Princeton does not pick up your trash. You have to hire a private contractor to do it for you, and we have had a hell of a time getting one. The two bigger companies we've called have both said they "can't find us" on their maps, which means they don't serve our street. Which is ridiculous, because we've seen their trucks driving down our street picking up other people's garbage, which is how we got their phone numbers in the first fucking place! It's now been two weeks since we started producing garbage here, and lemme tell ya, it's starting to smell not-so-nice sitting out in the 90 degree heat.

Princeton will deign to pick up your recyclables, but they have a VERY specific list of what is acceptable and what will be rejected. Like, a two-page list. Detailing every acceptable item and haranguing you to be very sure to NOT include anything not on the acceptable list, or they will leave your bucket at the curb and all your neighbors will know what a bad Princetonian you are. Yikes.

And, uhhhhh...that's all I can think of for right now. Seriously. I'm sure I will discover some other things I don't like about the place, but lemme tell ya, at the moment, it's lots of checks on the "Pro" side and not too damn many on the "Con" side.

YAAAAYYYYY!!!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 18, 2007

We finally got a piece of the pie

Well, we made it. We're in the new place at last.

With most of our belongings intact. There were a few moving-related casualties (some glass jars, a wardrobe shelf), but nothing too major.

We've unpacked Nolan's room, the kitchen, the bathroom and the living room thoroughly and completely. Our bedroom, the office, the playroom and the guest room are kind of half-assedly done. The rest of the basement (besides the office and the playroom) is in a state of complete and utter chaos, with little islands of order carved out for the cats' area and the laundry area. Pictures will come when we're a little more organized.

The Verizon dude finally showed up today to hook up the Internet (Yeeeeeee-ha!) and the TV (whatever). And the land line phone. Thank God for cell phones - how did we manage these major moves before cell phones? Did we just lose contact for five days or however long it took to get the phone hooked up? I guess we did. I really don't remember, and I certainly moved a number of times before the year 2000, which is when I first got a cell phone. Huh.

So anyway. We're here, we're not dead, we made it. It wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Now we're going to Cali for a week to chill the fuck out, before we come back and close on the Boston house and KB has his orientation for his new job.

Whew.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Like Harrison Ford I'm getting frantic

So we leave in one week. Next Friday, between 8 and 10 am, the movers will drop all our stuff off at our new place in Princeton. They're coming to pack us up (they're coming to take us awaaaayyyy, ha ha hee hee ho ho!) on Thursday, and we're actually driving down that night, but we won't really be there be there until Friday. So one week from today we start our new life.

And this week has been nuts.

Monday, we signed the purchase and sale agreement on the house (yay!) and Nolan had his two year check-up*, Tuesday KB left for Kentucky to take The Test, Wednesday he flew back and we went out for a nice dinner in the North End, Thursday we had a Thank God The Test Is Over barbecue with KB's classmates and today I had a good-bye and good luck kind of playgroup/party with my mom's group. Oh, and did I mention Tuesday was our wedding anniversary? And Thursday was Nolan's birthday? Yes.

So tomorrow we have our own "So Long and Thanks For All the Fish" shebang, and then we just (just!) have to pack up our entire lives and move to a completely different state and start all over. That's all.

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm capitalizing on this excuse to slack off on the blogification for a while. A week or so. Just long enough to start a new life and all.

Thanks for reading.

*37 inches tall, which is the 97th percentile, 30 pounds, which is the 75th percentile, and 51 cm head circumference, which is the 95th percentile. My boy's above average! Woo-hoo! He also had to have blood drawn for an anemia test, and the damn phlebotomist couldn't find the vein in his right arm, so she poked and prodded for a while and then switched to the left arm while my poor Noney was shrieking and writhing in my arms. I don't think I've ever had quite such a visceral reaction to Nolan's pain before - I wanted to grab the woman and shake her and scream "Stop! Hurting! My! Son!" until she dropped the big scary needle and apologized unreservedly. Luckily I managed to restrain myself long enough for her to get the friggin' blood.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Haaaallelujah! Haaaallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halleeeeelujaaahhhh!

We have accepted an offer on the house.

I repeat, we have accepted an offer on the house. It is less than our (reduced) asking price, but we really liked the lady and I think she loves the house almost as much as we do, so we've accepted.

We had the inspection a week ago, we're signing the Purchase and Sale on Monday, and we close on June 28th.

Thank god, thank god, thank god.

I don't even care that we're losing money - it's not that much money, and after all, it's only money. It's worth it to me to have everything wrapped up before we leave for Princeton.

One more (giant) check on the "Things to do Before We Leave Massachusetts" checklist.

Yay!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All we are is dust in the wind

Oh man, if this were my kid......

Thank god (so to speak) they were Buddhists and not, oh, say, Neo-Nazis making a Lego sculpture of Hitler, or that kid would have been toast.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops

So here's a weird thing I've discovered:

You know how when you're feeding somebody a bite of food with your utensil, you tend to open your mouth along with them? I've noticed this when feeding Nolan, or watching KB feed Nolan - KB'll hold the spoon out to him, and when Nolan opens his mouth to take the bite of food, KB will open his mouth, too. (It doesn't happen much anymore now that Nolan mostly feeds himself.)

I used to think that this was some sort of biological adaptation evolved to encourage your offspring to eat - to visually show them that it was safe, healthy food that you're giving them. "Open wide, Junior! See? Like me!" Or something.

It seems pretty unconscious when we do it, which is what makes it sort of funny - you don't realize you're opening your mouth along with Nolan until someone watching you points it out.

Then yesterday, I popped a bowl of popcorn for Nolan and I to share, and he was feeding me some pieces of popcorn (we're "working" on sharing as a concept right now - can't say that it's going too swimmingly, but then, he's not even two) and HE was opening his mouth right along with me as he shoved popcorn in my mouth. It looked exactly the same as when KB does it - a sort of distracted, unconscious opening of the mouth as he focuses on getting the food into my mouth.

So what does that mean? Are we genetically inclined to open our mouths when giving someone else our food to show them that it's okay to eat? Or did Nolan learn to do it by watching KB and I open our mouths while feeding him?

Investigate, and report back to me.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 21, 2007

If there's something inside that you wanna say, say it out loud it'll be okay

Enough with the rain already! I am going crazy with all this stupid weather.

Not only is it just plain depressing, with the gray clouds and the darkness and the endless drizzle (and the glaven), it's a major pain in the ass when you're trying to sell your house. Every time someone wants to come for a showing, I run around in a panic cleaning up various detritus and vacuuming the rugs, and every time we come home, the "buyers" have tracked muddy leaves and assorted debris all over the place as they walked around. Which means I just have to clean up AGAIN the next day when someone else wants to come see it.

Not to mention that when it's pouring rain outside, the possibilities for where Nolan and I can go for an hour or so are limited. No playground, no walk to the store, no chance for him to run around and burn off some energy. We end up driving around aimlessly (oh so good for the environment and the pocketbook, what with the $3 a gallon gas) or going to the mall to walk around (also not so hot for the wallet - or for the self-esteem - I end up berating myself - "I've become one of those moms! Those moms who go to the mall! And just walk around! I have no imagination! Aigh!")

I guess I should be grateful that we're even getting people in to see the house. It's such a disruption, though - no wonder selling your house is such a stressful process. Random strangers coming into your home, different people every time, walking around and evaluating how you live, while you are sent out into the rain with your child like an unwelcome guest. It's even worse when the "buyers" show up earlier than their appointed time, something that has happened a couple of times.

On Friday the person was supposed to show up at 3, and of course I had to wake Nolan up from his nap so we could leave, so I waited until the last possible minute so he could sleep as much as possible. Then, when I finally did wake him up, he had a poopy diaper, which is a whole new emergency when you're showing your house - you have to not only change the diaper (trying not to get any poop on the changing pad cover so you don't have to change that before you go), you have to open the windows (in the fucking rain!) to make sure the smell dissipates, and take the dirty diaper out of the house with you in a plastic grocery bag so you can make sure the house doesn't reek of poopy diaper. So of course as we're walking out the front door, plastic poopy diaper bag in hand, the "buyer" and her real estate agent are walking up the driveway. Fifteen minutes early. And she's all "Ohhhhhh, we're so sorry, it looks like we woke you up!" to Nolan. And I want to go, "You did, you fucking wench! You made me wake up my sleeping child and run around like a madwoman to please you! You'd better fucking buy this house!" But of course I don't.

Because it's not her fault, really. When I am the "buyer," like in Princeton when we've gone to look at houses, I want the people to accommodate me and my wishes, and if they don't, well god help them. We were down there in April looking at places, and at one place we showed up (with our agent) in this exact situation - the woman answered the door and was like, "Oh. You're early." and our agent asked if we could look around anyway since we were there, and the woman said no. And I totally mentally crossed that house off our list - I was like, "Well I guess you don't really want to sell your house, lady!"

So I know we have to do everything we can. But it's still a giant pain in the ass.

And we've lowered the price by 20 grand! Cough, cough, choke. And we continue to put money into the place - we had a handyman come to paint the deck and power-wash the siding last week, and the house looks great, but it's like, "How much more do we have to do?" Why won't someone buy this house? Forget about being choosy - when we first started this process I was envisioning competing offers (as I'm sure many delusional sellers do) and how we would be able to pick the people we thought would love the house as much as we do. Ha!

Now I think I would be happy if Donald Trump wanted to buy it and knock the whole block down to build the Boston Trump Taj Mahal. No. Not really.

Which reminds me, did I ever tell y'all what happened with the Development Next Door? I didn't? Typical.

We won. We totally, completely won. Even though we didn't get the street rezoned (yet - I don't know what will happen after we leave) we were able to scare off the developers completely. Both the house right next door to us and the one all the way at the top of the street are being rehabbed instead of knocked down to build condos. Because we were able to get a city-wide moratorium on building in Residence B (our current zoning) so the city can re-evaluate how it applies the zoning laws, both sets of developers realized that they were just losing money sitting on these houses/pieces of land, so they're rehabbing and trying to sell.

Woo-hoo!

When KB's mom and I were outside working on the garden a couple of weeks ago, the people who live across the street from the place up at the top of the hill walked by and stopped to talk. They ended up thanking me for working so hard on fighting the developers - talk about gratifying. Now at least I know, even though we're leaving, we'll have had a positive impact on the neighborhood. Those houses will be in much better shape, and I think the street will benefit.

Yay!

Now if someone would just buy our place so they can enjoy the great neighborhood.

Oy.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This was a Pizza Hut, now it's all covered with daisies


More garden porn!

All the daffodils have come and gone (am I supposed to be doing anything with the dead ones? Does anyone know? Like cutting off something? Or something?) as well as most of the regular hyacinths. The grape hyacinths bloomed a little later and so are still hanging around:


Lots more tulips have come up. I think that's normal; they're later-blooming than the crocuses and daffodils.


The tulip bulbs I planted were called "Queen of Night" and were supposed to be tall, with a very dark maroon/purple/black color. While I did get a few of those,


most of the flowers that have come up are completely different colors.


Very pretty, but not what I thought I was buying & planting. I guess that's what I get for buying bulbs at the Home Despot.

Then there are the tulips in the back - the ones I didn't plant, that the previous owner planted oh so many years ago and that just keep coming back like the perennials they are, in the vain hope that I will know what to do with them or how to take care of them.


Pretty nice, huh?

We've got some flowering bushes in front, too, that were here when we got here. Once again, I'm not exactly sure what they are, but I think they might be azaleas.



Then, of course, to counterbalance the beauty and symmetry of the flowers, we have to have a little evil weed*:
For there is no beauty without chaos, no light without dark, no Han Solo without Darth Vader.

Yup, it's Poison Ivy. It grows rampant in New England, apparently, and we've got it bad in our backyard. As you can see, it's all over The Rock, which is no good. Even if we're only here for another four weeks, there's no way I can keep Nolan from brushing up against it on one of our trips out into the backyard. I'm going to go get some Brush-B-Gone today and eradicate the sucker.

*No, not THAT evil weed. You think I'd have that growing in my back yard? Ha. Ha, ha. It is to laugh.

So I'm trying to view this all as practice for our REAL garden that will come later.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I feel so good if I just say the word

Some words Nolan can say with the utmost clarity. The really important ones he's got down cold. "Mama," for example, or "milk." (And, strangely enough, "daffodil.") Others, sometimes he can say the vowel sounds but not the consonants, or he substitutes consonants he can say for the ones he can't manage yet.

Because I spend so much time with him, I am (usually) able to consult the Nolan-English/English-Nolan dictionary in my head and come up with a translation. There are times, however, when even I cannot figure out what the heck he's saying. (Even when I use context, like they taught us in 3rd grade!)

So I thought I'd give y'all a chance to play Nolan Interpreter:

A NOLAN VOCABULARY QUIZ:

For each word given in "Nolan," pick the correct English translation.

1. "Brulella"

A. Vanilla
B. Umbrella
C. Brunhilda
D. Banana

2. "Elfadent"

A. Elephant
B. Alphabet
C. Accident
D. Element

3. "Dit-dee"

A. Ditty
B. Itty-Bitty
C. Kitty
D. Pretty

4. "Hininder"

A. Highlander
B. Cylinder
C. Calendar
D. Hindenburg

5. "Lai-bop"

A. Lamb chop
B. Mmmmmmm-bop
C. Light bulb
D. Lollipop

6. "Wahmen"

A. Watermelon
B. Ramen
C. Women
D. Whoa, man

7. "Dental"

A. Dental
B. Central
C. Gentle
D. Gentile

8. "Epup"

A. Step up
B. Get up
C. Ketchup
D. Hiccup

9. "Pee"

A. Pee
B. Pretty
C. Please
D. Peek

10. Wow-uh

A. Wow, huh?
B. Flower
C. Water
D. Shower

Scroll down for answers.




















And while you're scrolling down, an anecdote:

















Last night, while I was putting Nolan to bed, he asked for his giant giraffe stuffed animal. (He says it "Gee-raf" ["G" like in "gulp," not "g" like in George] in case you're wondering.) It's almost as big as he is, and it's wearing a skirt, rain boots, and, inexplicably, a blue ribbon that says "1st" on its neck. We didn't buy it, it was a (very very nice, don't get me wrong) gift.

And it occurred to me that we've never given the giraffe a name. Some of his animals have names - Grover (obviously), Sigfried the German lion (Siggy for short), Wolfgang the wolf (Wolfy for short), and Comfy Cozy Cow. But many of them (and there are MANY) have no names and are referred to by their generic animal designator. "Bear," for instance, or "Froggy." So I thought maybe, since he seemed to be growing rather fond of the giraffe, it was time to give it a name.

"We've never named your giraffe, Nolan." I said. "Should we give her a name?"
















"Wanda." Nolan said.
















Just like that. "Wanda." Clear as a bell.















So the giraffe's name is Wanda, apparently.















ANSWER KEY:

1. - B
2. - A
3. - C
4. - B
5. - D
6. - A
7. - C
8. - C
9. - C
10. - Trick question. It could be B or C OR D, since he says the same thing for all of them.

SCORING:

1-3 Correct: Well, what can you do? You don't have kids.
4-6 Correct: Not bad for someone who doesn't spend every day with Nolan.
7-9 Correct: You are a parent. And a linguist. And you spent way too much time on this.
All 10 Correct: You are me. Or Nolan. Nolan, you're not on the computer, are you?

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

You've been gone too long




Kelly (my stepsister) had her baby boy on Monday.

Nathan Dean was born on April 30th at 1:30 in the afternoon after - get this - 32 HOURS OF LABOR.

Witness the conehead:


I really can't think of anything I LIKE to do for 32 hours, much less to have to go through something as excruitating as childbirth for 32 hours. She did end up getting an epidural, which is only sensible. He weighed seven pounds 12 ounces at birth. (Which is remarkable, considering I think my stepsister weighs about 97 pounds soaking wet.)

Now they are back home, and the real fun begins!

I wish we lived closer so I could cook her a bunch of freezer meals like I do for the women in my mom's group who have had new babies.

Well, soon enough, I suppose.

Good luck to you, Kelly and Lewis and Nathan (and yes, Frank and Riley, too) and yay! Nolan has another cousin!

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Argh. Thought I had the whole sideways-picture thang fixed. I guess not. Sorry, you'll just have to turn your head.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today

I wonder why it is that I seem to be unable to enjoy things in the here and now. Whenever I'm having a good moment, or relishing a victory or the like, my brain immediately jumps to how sucky it's going to be when the moment is over.

To wit:

Yesterday I was able to go shopping* and go for a run at the YMCA by myself because my awesome mom-in-law is still here with us, and she can hang out with the Nolanmeister while I go do my thang. Almost the entire time I was browsing and then sweating and panting I was thinking "Enjoy it now, because she's leaving in three days and then your life will go back to the hellish mess that it normally is." Yeah! Thanks, brain!

*A pause here to sing the praises of the glory that is T.J. Maxx. Sometimes you gotta elbow the other bargain-seekers out of the way, but man, can you get some great deals. I bought a pair of capris, six tops (including one by BCBG Max Azria) and a pair of Aerosoles shoes for - wait for it - $142. How kick-ass is that?

Last night when I took Nolan out of the bath, he ran away before I could get the towel on him, which he thought was hilarious and thrilling until his wet feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he went down hard. He cried and I picked him up, wrapped him in the towel, and snuggled him. When we got upstairs he just wanted to keep snuggling for a little while, and while I inhaled the scent of his freshly-washed hair and the clean towel, all I could think about was how when he gets older he's not going to let me comfort him that way. He'll get all distant and independent and grown-up, and I won't get to snuggle with him any more. (This is making me weepy just writing about it.)

Sometimes I find myself trying to imprint that happy moment on my brain. I tell myself, "Remember this. This is the last time this will happen." Whatever it happens to be at the time. We went for a drive down to Hull yesterday while our real estate agent had another open house here, and walked out on a little peninsula where you can see straight across the bay to Boston. It was foggy and rainy yesterday, but you could see the city outline, and I thought to myself "Remember this. This is probably the last time you'll see this view in your life. What are the chances you'll ever come back to this exact spot once you move to Princeton? Engrave this in your brain, becuase you won't experience it again."

Why can't I just be in the moment? Why can't I just enjoy myself and smell my kid's hair and be happy? There are so many occasions when I wish I could click a switch to tell my brain "Thank you, that will be all for now," and shut the constant yammering commentary off.

I'm thinking back to when I was in labor and how when the pain got so intense my brain went all "Elvis has now left the building" and wishing I could do that on command. There must be some other way than blinding cervix-stretching pain, though.

And speaking of labor and cervix-stretching (nice blend Fozzie, thank you Fozzie!), my stepsister is in labor at this very moment. My dad called last night at 8 to say that her water had broken and she was 3 centimeters dilated. I hope things are moving along well for her - she was, last I heard, trying to go drug-free - and that her little baby boy will be here safely soon.

Sigh.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Keep on with the force, don't stop, don't stop til you get enough

We're not dead!

Sorry if we worried everybody!

Nolan's fine. He's no longer sick and listless. He's having some teething issues and not sleeping very well, but otherwise he is his usual fabulous self.

We've just been busy. (The distinctive cry of the half-assed blogger: "But I've been really busy lately!")

We went down to Princeton the weekend of the 14th and 15th to look at places to live (and found one - more on that in a second) and then had to drive back up to Boston in the Great Nor'Easter of Ought Seven on Sunday. That, as they say, sucked big donkey dick. Seven hours of white-knuckle, rain-soaked, wind-blown driving interrupted only by a (rather pleasant, actually) lunch at Pizzeria Uno somewhere in Connecticut. We brought the portable DVD player in the car (Thanks, Kenton and Andrea!) and Nolan was fairly happy with Happy Feet (thanks, Grandma and Pappy!) but soon discovered he could kick the DVD player from his car seat and that put an end to that. Maybe he was just trying to keep his own feet happy. Robin Williams doing half the voices in one film is enough to drive anyone over the edge.

But we did make it home alive, and Nolan had a great time hanging out in Dirty Jers with Nana (and Nana had a great time hanging out with Nolan, but then, what else is new?) KB and I went around Princeton with our real estate agent and looked at rental houses. It was pretty slim pickins, but we found something that will work for us in the short term whilst we get settled and look for something to buy. (And try to sell this house, for the love of pete, which has NOT HAPPENED YET.) It's nothing fantabulous, but it's big enough for now and it's in a really great location - walking distance to the hospital for KB, walking distance to downtown/library/YMCA for Nolan and myself, and a playground at the end of the street. Yay! Plus, how sweet will it be the first time the faucet springs a leak or the dryer goes kerfloey, instead of trying to fix it myself (or make KB do it) I can just say, "Call the landlord!" I'll be trying to console myself with that while we hemorrhage money paying rent and a mortgage simultaneously. Damned housing market.

So anyway.

All is (mostly) well. KB's wonderful mom is here staying with us for a spell, and let me tell you, has my mood improved since she's been here (I am particularly blessed in the mother-in-law department, I must say); she never tires of reading "Mother Goose" to Nolan 38 times in a row, she helps with the cooking and the laundry, and she's fun to talk to besides. We (meaning she and I, not KB - he had to work the next day) had a few too many glasses of wine with dinner one night last week and were up until all hours telling embarrassing stories to each other. And she's knitting (another) sweater for Nolan! (The gauntlet has been thrown down, Dru.)

And now, Nolan with a giant bear:



Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's tough to walk in dignity with throw-up on your shoes

Poor Noney is sick.

I was supposed to have playgroup at my house this morning at nine-thirty, and as I was dashing around cleaning up the kitchen, making more coffee, picking up stray toys and wiping off the dining room table, I couldn't help but notice that it was almost eight o'clock and Nolan was still asleep. He normally gets up around 6:45 or 7, 7:15 if I'm really lucky.

So I kept my fingers crossed and hopped in the shower, and when I got out, he still wasn't up. So I stuck to my old adage "Never wake a sleeping baby" and threw in a load of laundry, got dressed and put out some muffins.

Nine-twenty rolls around and he's STILL asleep. Then I start to have those old fears from when he was a newborn that he's died in the night and oh, if only I'd gone and checked on him sooner, I could have saved him, what a terrible mother I am.

So I go up to his room. He's laying there in his crib, surrounded by stuffed animals, thumb firmly corked in mouth. Awake. But listless. He sees me and croaks, "Mommy," very heart-breakingly and puts his arms out for me to pick him up. I pick him up and immediately get a whiff of The Stench, that awful aroma that means he has probably had diarrhea in the night and been laying in it for hours. I feel awful. I quickly change him out of his soiled pj's and diaper and put on a clean dry diaper and comfy sweats. He protests and cries, but in that same listless manner that tells me he's really not feeling like himself. I check his temperature - low fever, nothing serious.

I take him downstairs and call the other playgroup moms to call them off - no point in their kids getting the plague, too. Nolan drinks the milk I offer him, but just wants to lay in my arms and snuggle.

It's weird, probably about 75% of me feels bad for him that he's not feeling well, and bummed for myself that I will be denied the adult company of the other moms - my little sanity break for the day; but the other 25% is like, "Woo-hoo! He's gonna be a piece of cake today!"

And it's true. No tantrums, no defiance. He just wants to sit and have me read him books. We watch an Elmo video and he eats some graham crackers and a banana; drinks some water.

Then I try to put him back to bed and he cries pitifully. Usually when I put him down for a nap if he cries a little I just leave him to it; he always settles down and goes to sleep after a short interval. But when he's sick like this I just don't have the heart for it. I pick him back up and sit in the rocking chair with him for a while.

That's pretty much how the rest of the day goes. More diarrhea; more half-hearted protests as I change his diaper. More water. More graham crackers. More Elmo. More laundry. I give him chicken soup for dinner at 4:30, a bath at 5:15, and have him back in bed by ten to six. I never even leave the house.

My poor baby guy. I hope he's better tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Where they lie so long, beneath the seasons



Well, you wouldn't really know it from the freezing cold rain we're having, but spring is officially here.

Last fall, KB's mom was out here for a visit and she showed me how to plant bulbs (me being the non-gardenically inclined sort) and now the flowers are coming up!

I feel kind of bad for the crocuses - they're popping up all cheerful and perky and then getting smashed and trampled by the sleet/slush/hail crap we've been getting all week.


I love that they're even blooming at all, though. I feel all proud and boastful, like, "Look what I did!" even though all I did was dig the holes and put the food and bulbs in. It's fun, though, seeing my handiwork coming to fruition. Pretty magical, too, thinking that all those bulbs have just lain there dormant all winter and now somehow know to come sprouting up. I should be getting some tulips and daffodils and some other flower whose name I have forgotten, too. (Hyacinth? Can that be right?)

Ah, nature. All organic and biological and green and good.

Yay, flowers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Can you see them, see right through them

It's the end of an era.

Sadly, I am down to my last beloved Pure Tints. Back when I was last bitching about the tendency of products I like to be discontinued, I bought ten of them from drugstore.com, but now I am (almost) bereft. There's like a centimeter left in the tube of this one, and then that's the end.

*sob*

For a while I tried rationing the Pure Tints out and not using them so much, hoping in vain to stretch them out, but I love them so; it was impossible.

I got all excited because I saw at the drugstore that Almay has a new line of lipcolors that look somewhat like the Pure Tints. But then I read the fine print - they're technically lipsticks and they cost friggin' $8.99 a piece. Tempting, but no. I can rationalize blowing four bucks on trying out a shade that I may or may not like, but nine dollars is above my waste of money threshold, methinks. Plus the whole point with the Pure Tints was that they were sheer and light and not too much of the "Hello! I'm wearing lipstick!" and more of the "My lips are naturally this smashing color, you silly!"

Alas.

Then I got my hopes up because I saw that Burt's Bees has come out with these , and I love their stuff. They even have a shade called "cocoa," which is what my old Pure Tints favorite was. And only four bucks! Huzzah! So I bought one post-haste and rushed home to try it out.

But I was deceived. The supposed "cocoa" looked more like PUCE. Ugh. Nothing like the color of the cap. Shiny, silvery lavender-y grossness. That went right in the trash. Now I don't know if I should even bother trying another shade of those. You know, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, I'm a fucking idiot.

So I ordered a couple of these from drugstore.com. (I swear I'm not plugging drugstore.com on purpose, they're just the only place I buy this kind of stuff from online, mostly becuase I'm too lazy to even look for or research another one.) I use a lot of other Neutrogena products for my face, and I generally like their stuff, so we'll see. Seven bucks each, though, oof. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

(Can I just say*, also, I hate when cosmetics companies [and clothing companies, and shoe companies, et cetera] make up stupid names for their colors that have absolutely no relationship to what the color actually looks like. I mean, "Clean?" What the fuck color is "Clean?" Wouldn't that be NO color at all? I understand that each company wants to distinguish its particular dark brown thing from every other dark brown product that's out there in the world vying for consumers' attention, but Jesus. Try to have your color name have some bearing on reality, please, product-makers of the world. Orange is a color. Forest green is a color. "Jazzy" is not a color. Even color names like "chestnut" and "daffodil" I can tolerate, because those are universally [pretty much] well-known objects that are all generally the same color, so we have a point of reference. Chestnut is probably a dark brown, daffodil probably a cheerful yellow, right? But then you get into things like "sky." Well, what kind of sky, exactly? I mean, I know it's most likely a pale blue, but who's to say it's not raining that day? And from there they just go spinning into a fairy land of "perky" and "stucco" and "fang." Just tell me what the hell colors those are supposed to be, please.)

(I also hate, while we're on the subject, when catalog titles don't just say something straightforward like "Spring 2007" or whatever. I got one the other day that said "Anticipating Summer 2007." I refuse to buy anything from a catalog that stupidly named, sheerly for the principle.)

*Of course I can say. It's my blog, for pete's sake. Why must I ask my own permission?

Where was I? Oh yes. No more Pure Tints. Boo.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Where my love lies waiting silently for me

So our house has not sold yet.

Not that I'm freaking out, it's only been about six weeks, which really isn't bad, according to our agent. We still have lots of time left, so maybe we can start freaking out in...oh, say, early May.

In the meantime, we're trying to decide if it's worth it to try and look for/buy a house in Princeton or if we should rent a place for a little while to get the lay of the land. I think there are pros and cons to both approaches, and at the moment KB and I are on opposite sides of the fence on this one.

(As a side note which will probably turn into a longer tangent [if I know me, and I think I do, oh yes] it's very hard going for he and I right now, mostly because we almost never get to see each other. KB is in the midst of his preparation for the board exam in addition to working at his regular gig and moonlighting as much as he can for the extra dough, so he's pretty much not around. He leaves for work at 6:15 am and doesn't get back until 8:30. Which means he doesn't get to see Nolan at all, and Nolan doesn't get to see his Dada. Which also means I'm basically a single parent at the moment. Which sucks big donkey dick.

Plus we have no time for each other - when we talk, we end up just exchanging "important" information; I give him an update on Nolan's activities for the day, he tells me about any upcoming schedule things, and then we kind of look at each other and go, "Okay, I'm getting ready for bed." Don't even talk to me about our sex life, okay?

The only good thing is that we know this is for a limited time - once we get to Princeton and he starts his "real" job, he'll have much more regular (and shorter!) hours, better pay, and no board exam to study for when he does have time off. So we're getting through it by just telling ourselves that it won't last forever, and things will be a lot better in a very short while.

But that very short while is going to last another three months, so if y'all are just sitting around in the evening thinking "What's up with Athena?" please feel free to give me a call and offer some moral support, tales from the single life, humor, or...well, hell, I'll take anything to get me out of my head for a little bit. I would appreciate it greatly.

Thus endeth the abnormally long parenthetical.)

I think renting for a while is definitely a smart idea in a very logical sense - we can find out which neighborhoods we like, where the stuff we want to be close to is, et cetera - but I'm not very jazzed about having to move twice once we get there. I think I've mentioned numerous times before my aversion to starting over again with the neighborhoods and the stores and the friends and the glaven. I just want to get where we're going and STAY THERE.

But I also see the point that KB makes, which is that if we wait a year or two and save up even more for a good chunk of a down payment, we'll get a better rate on a mortgage and probably spend less money in the long run, and by then we'll have a better idea of what part of town we want to live in and all that.

It's just that we've been operating under the assumption that we'll be buying a house for the last few months, so we've been looking (albeit in a very preliminary way; mostly just searching online) for a little while, and I've kind of gotten into the mindset that we'll be buying a house. And looking forward to it. And fantasizing about it, in a real-estate porn kind of way. So it's hard for me to now turn around and go, "Never mind, we're going to rent for awhile," even if I can see the logic of it.

*sigh*

So that's what's on my mind right now.

Also, don't bother buying any strawberries that aren't organic. Regular store-bought strawberries now are just not worth it. It's kind of like porn star breasts - they look all luscious and juicy and you think they're going to be great, but then you get one in your mouth and you think, "Ew. Plastic and fake."

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Then you wouldn't have to say that you loved me

Some other Nolan-isms that are popular these days:

-"Noney." This is what Nolan calls himself when he refers to himself out loud, as he does frequently.* Sometimes we call him Noney as well - I was at a playground last week (on the one really nice day we had before the goddamn blizzard hit us) and there was a little boy with his grandmother, and I guess he calls her "Nonney," so he kept looking at me funny when I called out "Noney!" to Nolan. At first I thought his name might actually be Noney, and I was thinking, "Is that actually a real name someone might name their kid?" until I realized what was going on.

(I usually try to call myself "Mama" or "Mommy" when talking to/with him, and I try to call him "Nolan" (or "Noney") as much as possible. The whole I/You pronoun thing is apparently very confusing for little kids. Who wouldn't be confused? Try explaining it out loud to someone else - "When I say 'I,' I'm talking about me, and when I say 'you,' I'm talking about you. But when you say 'I,' you're talking about you, and when you say 'you,' you're talking about me." Yeah. Clear as a bell. It gets old, constantly saying, "Give that to Mama," or "Let's find Nolan's shoes," but I think it helps him a lot, clarity-wise.)

*When Nolan was a newborn and we told one woman his name, she told us this great story from when her son was young. He had a friend named Nolan, but he couldn't say the "l" sound very well, so whenever he talked about the friend, he called him "Nowun." This led to such Who's-On-First conversations as: "Who did you play with today?" "Nowun." "No one? But who's that little boy?" "That's Nowun!" and so on.

-"Gake o wick" This is what Nolan calls Jake, one of our cats. A long time ago when I worked at HBO, my boss would refer to someone she didn't get along with as a "jerkowitz," which I adopted into "Jakeowitz" for Jake. "Gake o wick" is Nolan's take on Jakeowitz.

-"A-lowa" Our other cat, Lola. For some words, Nolan can't just start with the consonant, he has to put a little schwa syllable in there at the beginning. It makes him sound like a small Italian tourist. When he's just woken up or gotten hurt and is crying for me, he always says, "A-mama! A-mama!" I'm still waiting for "Molto bene, that's a-nice a-donut."

-"Huggle" When I'm holding Nolan and comforting him, I usually call it a "snuggle." As in, "Ooh, that looked like it hurt. Do you need a snuggle?" The other night while I was getting him in his PJs, Nolan put his arms out to me and said, "Huggle." Which just killed me, it was so cute. He has a hard time with the "s" sound, it seems, so he usually substitutes an "h" instead. "Hock" instead of "sock," "uh-het" instead of "upset." This leads to some confusion occasionally - he'll say something like "hide uck," and I wonder if he's going to hide the truck or if the truck is on its side.

-"Nunnel" What Nolan calls a tunnel. (There are LOTS of tunnels at Gymboree, so he has plenty of opportunities to use this word.) Not sure why he substitutes the "n" for the "t," because he can say the "t" sound in other words.

Sometimes I wonder if it's a bad thing that I can understand him so well, because then he doesn't have to try harder to pronounce words correctly and make himself understood. He still says "Gah" for "star," even though I'm sure he could probably get quite a bit closer to the actual pronunciation if he wanted to. I think that's the case with "tunnel," too. I know what he means when he says it, and I'm usually around to translate for him, so he doesn't have to work at it.

I don't know. I guess I need some sort of "summing up" paragraph here, but I can't think of anything and I just wanted to list more of Nolan's phrases anyway. Thptpth.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I can imagine the moment, breaking out through the silence

So, believe it or not, there was no family drama at my step-sister's wedding/shower doohickey last weekend. I was all geared up for the Big Fight or the Not-So-Subtle Snubbing or the Stupid Misunderstanding, or any of the other special little extravaganzas my family likes to trot out when we're all gathered together in a group. But either I wasn't a witness to it, or it didn't happen. Astonishing.

What I really want to blog about is Nolan's language skills - they're growing at an incredible rate. He talks ALL THE TIME. Every day it's a constant narration of what he's doing, how he's doing it, what he's thinking, what he wants, et cetera. God forbid I don't chime in or repeat whatever he's saying back to him, because then he just says it over and over and over and over again until my brain jumps out of my skull, smacks me in the face, and says, "ANSWER HIM WHY DON'T YOU?"

Hmmmm. It seems I'm a little cranky this evening. Must be PMS.

But anyway, it's actually very cool to hear how much he talks. He gets on these jags where he repeats the same sentence over and over, and for some reason the last word of the sentence is always shouted, like he's really relieved he made it to the end of the sentence.

Some examples (and their translations for those of you who don't speak Nolan):

A nigh dey haaa FUUNNNNNN! ("It's a nice day to have fun," which KB said to him when we were on our way to Castle Island a week ago. He repeated it over and over the whole car ride there.)

Fie ayuh pane go Nana HOOWWWWWWWW! ("Fly on the airplane to go to Nana's house," said repeatedly this past weekend.)

coupled with:

Fie ayuh pane go HOOMMMMMMME! ("Fly on the airplane to go home.")

Oh, noooo, a weeo aka-DENNNNN! ("Oh, no, it's a real accident," which my mom taught him this weekend. Apparently, my Grammy (my mom's mom) used to say that ("It was a real accident") whenever one of the grandkids did something wrong that was pretty obviously NOT an accident.)

Wa happy lie-uh FEYYYYYY? ("What happened to the lion's face?" - something I said to him when he was puzzling over a foam lion toy that a friend of his had bitten the face off of.)

Luck-uh guy pay NICKOWWWWW! ("I'm a lucky guy, I got to play with Snickers," who is my aunt and uncle's dog - a very sweet and excitable formerly abused Italian greyhound they adopted. Nolan was playing with her at the shower - she got out of the house once and ran like crazy around the yard (and, as you might imagine, this dog can run) and Nolan laughed hysterically watching her zoom around, which led to:

Nickow run a run a run oww FUNT! ("Snickers ran and ran and ran out front")

Boon fie away SKYYYYYYY! ("Balloon fly away into the sky" - he had a balloon at the shower that he let go of outside.)

It's interesting to me to see what phrases he latches onto out of all the different things I say to him every day. It's also really nice to be able to talk to him now, but it makes it even more frustrating for both of us when I can't understand what he's saying. I'm pretty much his best interpreter because I spend the most time with him and was there for the genesis of most of his words, but there are times when even I can't figure out what he's saying, and then the fuss really hits the fan.

But he's a lot of fun right now. I have to figure out a way to tape him and get it on here so you all can hear him.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the road again

Another trip to Dirty Jers.

This time just Nolan and I are going, and we're flying.

KB left at oh-dark-thirty this morning to catch his flight to Florida, where he is taking a Radiology Board Review course for four days. I was jealous for a little while (Florida? In March? While it's eight degrees here? Sign me up!) until I saw the schedule for his course - they have every minute of time accounted for from 7:30 am to 9pm. All their meals are being eaten in the hotel restaurant, and they have "mini-breaks" of ten minutes scheduled between each study session, I guess so they can pee. It sounds like he's not even going to leave the hotel, much less have a chance to enjoy the weather. (Although, to be honest, even that sounds heavenly to me - four days of using only my brain while someone else cooks for me, cleans my bedroom and bathroom, and schedules my entire day down to five-minute increments? I'll take it!)

Meanwhile, Nolan and I are flying to stay with my mom for four days so we can attend my stepsister's wedding/baby shower combo weekend thang. She's due in April, and I guess in the long tradition of white trash shotgun weddings everywhere, she and her boyfriend decided to make it official since everyone in the family was coming in for the shower anyway. So this should be interesting. I'm in charge of the games for the baby shower. Yee, I say, yee-ha. Bobbing for cotton balls, anyone?

And our house hasn't sold yet, so we have to leave it in super-clean shiny perfect happy condition when we leave in case our agent needs to show it while we're gone. It's not too hard to keep it clean since I did the big scrubbing a few weeks ago, but it's always like a scavenger hunt with Nolan's toys - he has about thirteen hundred little cars and people and dump trucks and motorcycles that he likes to stash in unlikely places around the house. Pretty much any horizontal surface is fair game for "racing" his Hot Wheels, so I find them everywhere - on the ledge of the bathtub, under the bed in the guest room, behind the grandfather clock, et cetera. In fact, I see one right now that I missed in last night's round up, under the little cart in the dining room. Sigh.

So I shall be off the grid for another little while here. I feel I've been neglecting my blog lately (and neglecting myself, truth be told) but then, I knew this was going to be a tough time, this few months before we move. We just have to keep plugging away.

Thanks for reading.