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Recent Posts

  1. Poop in the tub.
    Saturday, March 16, 2013
  2. Yeeeeeeeeahhh....
    Tuesday, February 19, 2013
  3. Joanna.
    Sunday, February 17, 2013
  4. Close.
    Monday, February 04, 2013
  5. Gruff.
    Sunday, November 04, 2012
  6. Joy.
    Monday, April 02, 2012
  7. Drag.
    Thursday, March 08, 2012
  8. Little.
    Wednesday, November 16, 2011
  9. Work.
    Sunday, October 30, 2011
  10. Lax.
    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Michelle Varnier Garrett --- "It's uter-us, Marge, not uter-you." --Homer Simpson

Poop in the tub.

Mommyhood is a tough gig. We want it to be an idyllic journey filled with hugs and fields of daisies and giggles and long aimless walks. At least that's what I want. Sometimes, it sort of is. Lots of times, it really, really is not. I learned a few years ago not to be a victim of my own expectations. It changes the experience of mommyhood.

Granted, it's hard to see the big picture of the amazing human your child is when they're pooping in the tub. It's just like I tell me kids, though: you can't control the way someone acts, but you can control the way you react. I can choose to get frustrated as I scrape wet, slimy poop from the bath toys and my toddler shrieks, soaking wet, on the toilet. Or, I can choose to laugh. To scoop her up, dry her off, share a round of yucks and icky's, and remember how lucky I am that I have a precious little girl to hold, to tickle, to care for, to teach, to snuggle, and to graciously forgive - over and over, no matter what.

When the eldest was a wee one, I trained myself to remember that whatever it was my daughter was doing to grind my gears, she wasn't doing it to grind my gears. They have never set out to deliberately cause me stress. Not once. They do, however, expect me to demystify, to comfort, to illuminate, and to explain. They need me to understand that they cry because they don't always understand the world. That they pester me because they are completely dependent and wish it weren't so. That they squabble because they feel like they each need to claim some unique space. And they need me to recognize that their frustrations are normal, natural, and not at all about me.

I'm doing my best to keep perspective on this mommying gig. To keep myself perched high above the day-to-day, so I can only see the beauty and the love... even when there's poop in the tub.


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Yeeeeeeeeahhh....

There have been a series of unfortunate events that have left V.V.'s preschool thinking that her parents are both inept and just plain crazy. There's always a perfectly good explanation, you know, but it's one of those things where the more adamantly you try to explain, the more defensive and crazy you sound. It's gotten to a point where the preschool teachers almost never talk to me at all, but when they do, the conversation always starts with a exasperated/befuddled, "Yeeeeeeeeahh..."

The Coat
January 23rd was the coldest day in months by at least 20 degrees. Never got over 35 all day. Imagine my surprise when I go to pick up V.V. at noon, and her teacher approaches me with genuine concern, and asks me whether my child has a coat. Of course she has a coat, I said. "Yeeeeeeahh, wellllllll, we took the kids outside for a nature walk today and she didn't have a coat or gloves. But don't worry, we had a 'community coat' for her to wear." I tried to explain that, since winter coats don't fit in the car seat, and she only walks 6 feet from the van to the school door, I never put her in anything more than a light fleece. And, that she has lots of winter wear. And the school has never taken her outside before, ever. And while we're on the topic, why would they decide to take her out for the first time ever, on the coldest freaking day of the year?

My explanation did little to soothe the concerned lines of her forehead. And I wasn't offered an explanation for the 22-degree nature walk. From that point on, I was the crazy/poor/bad parent. I brought her huge puffy winter coat and scarf and mittens the next school day, and they'll just live at school. Forever. It seems that just makes me even crazier. I think on some level, they believe that I went out and bought the coat especially for school with something to prove. Sigh.

The Cupcake
February 5th was unusual in that I had to be at Duke early to get some testing done, and I was unable to see my little family before I headed out. So, Daddy took the girl to school. On Thursdays, she has occupational therapy after school, and her therapist had called a few days prior to say that V.V.'s usually too anxious to get much out of the time. I theorized that since she usually lunches and naps at that time, she's probably pretty hungry/tired/irritable/overstimulated. I told the OT I would pack her a bigger snack from now on, and asked that she just check the backpack before getting started to make sure it all gets eaten. As a reminder, I texted my husband from the waiting room: I PACKED VV A SUBSTANTIAL LUNCH IN HER BACKPACK. I HOPE IT HELPS WITH HER MOOD IN THERAPY TODAY. He mentioned it to the teacher when dropping her off, and got a vague, hesitant "Soooo, you don't want us to give her anything else?" Confused, he said, "Um, I guess... just give V.V. what I packed." Fast forward a few hours to pick-up time.

Teacher, approaches cautiously. "Yeeeeeeeeeah... sooooooo... V.V. is probably going to be pretty upset when she comes out. Your husband said she couldn't have anything other than what was in her backpack, and someone had brought in cupcakes today. We really tried to 'sell' the sandwich and banana, but she was very, very upset about not getting a cupcake. Also, there's going to be a pancake party next week, so you might want to being her something to have during that."

Frick on a stick! Are you kidding me? So, again, I'm left explaining, red-faced that there was a mistake, apparently. Did they tell the hubs that there were cupcakes on the table today? I emphatically explained that my child does not have any dietary restrictions, and we never, ever, EVER want her to feel left out or separated from the other kids. We just wanted to make sure she was well fed for her session that afternoon. Needless to say, her OT session didn't go so hot. She spent the bulk of it crying because she was banished from cupcake heaven and had no idea why. Sheesh.

The Pancakes
So, travel in time a few days, to PJ & Pancake Party day. I got her all decked out in her finest sleepwear and dropped her off for school. Noon rolls around, and I see the worry lines on teacher's face as I walk in. Ah crap, I thought. "Yeeeeeeeeahh, soooo... V.V. seemed very, very hungry today. Most of the other kids ate one, maybe two pancakes. V.V. ate a whole box all by herself. So.... uh..." <teacher stares at the floor> I guess we can add "feeding my child" to the list of things my kid's teacher thinks I don't do.

See, the thing is, V.V. is very thin. I mean skiiiiiiiiinny. But she NEVER. STOPS. EATING. But pancakes are in a special class of foods for her. Her daddy makes unnaturally delicious pancakes by the dozens every Saturday, and my 40-pound child packs away 10 or so of those bad boys every time. No syrup. Just cake after cake. Crushed. We have to cut her off for her own safety. So, while I wasn't at all surprised to hear that she had pounded a whole box of pancakes by her tiny lonesome, it came as quite a shock to her classmates and teachers. There was no explanation I could give that would ease the 'worry face.' Especially after the coat ...
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Joanna.

We're all a little afraid of Joanna. She's always been cogent, confident, independent, and extremely capable for a baby. Which is really unfair and truly terrifying. Anyway, I asked her to put down some thoughts as to why she is, well, like she is.

"I took a break from my Harvard application to write this, naturally being confident that it will prove a fruitful use of my precious time. I’m an intense kid, as 22-month-olds go. So much so, that the waitresses in our local pizza joint have honest-to-goodness mistaken my screams for the fire alarm. Sometimes a little drama helps move things along, just sayin’.

People often ask from whence my anger stems. It’s mainly that the more “grown up” the grown-up, the slower and less useful they become.They seem to want to spend time cooking (thereby forcing me to relocate all of the kitchen utensils and pots into the farthest corners of the house), or reading (which again, forces my hand a bit, and requires strategic removal of pages or careful editing with markers). Whoa, my arms and face look sort of plain, no? Maybe I can repurpose the markers and give myself a little ink. Geez, I never noticed the lack of art of the walls either… 

Alright, I’m at a good stopping point. So anyway, parents. The truth is, I am pretty fantastic at using my words. But you can’t always spell it out for these suckers. I can reasonably demand GABBA GABBA for seemingly hours on end, but until I start rolling in the floor, screaming and pulling some hair… the TV channel stays stuck on court shows and Maury Povich. I’m doing them a favor really, in my persistence. They don’t yet recognize the genius of Muno’s “I Love Bugs,” but myhope is that one day, they will. Even if we have to watch it a million times.

I should probably wrap this up. Mama said something about running me a bath. That means two things: 
 1. Her coffee cup is unattended somewhere in this house. And, 
 2. In about ten minutes, I’ll have a golden opportunity to remind mama that she should always attempt to offer the potty prior to bath time. A teachable moment, in truth, and her having to scrape wet poop from every inch of the tub will serve as a good “anchor” for the lesson.

With angst and noise, 
 Joanna, Age 1


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Close.

So, if you ever find yourself thinking, "I'm reasonably attractive," and you want to cure yourself of the thought, just take a good look into one of those 10X magnifying mirrors. It is an exercise in sheer cruelty.... verging on self-abuse.  ...<< MORE >>

Gruff.

I'm having a grumpy day. It's easy to let stay-at-home motherhood get you down, but I manage to stay positive and really enjoy it most of the time. It has been tough living somewhere other than "home" while having small children. Especially since I only seem to make friends in a work environment, where they are forced to see me every day and eventually get to know me well enough to like me, despite my crippling social anxiety. So, being a strange non-working mom in a strange land, coupled with my inability to make friends normally—-it's a lonely existence. The story gets a little sadder when you add that the layout of our house is such that I live in one room with two dramatic, demanding, often-screaming kids. All day. Every day.

I play with the idea of going back to work, just to salvage my sanity. The mommy guilt, though, it tells me that raising my kids is my responsibility, and that most of any salary I make would go to pay someone else to raise them for me. The eldest is supposed to start kindergarten next fall (which would be a welcome relief), but all indications are that she won't be able to handle it, at least not in a traditional school setting. She's in a developmental preschool twice a week now, and even that is tough for her. Her teachers are trained developmental experts who have seen it all, so to speak, and even THEY are left scratching their heads about my child's troubles. She does seem to be getting a lot out of being in what amounts to group therapy, and being at home alone with the toddler for those two mornings a week feels like a frickin' vacation.

Today is one of those days where I simply cannot will myself out the front door. It happens more often than I'd like to admit. Some days, we all pile into the van and go to exotic places like the pet store or the gym. But other days, the prospect of spending two hours feeding, cleaning, brushing, dressing, changing, re-dressing, sippy-cupping, and bag-packing while trying to make myself look less like an exhausted bag lady... well, it hardly seems worth the effort. Because I know there is a 60% chance one or both kids is going to have a meltdown at some point in the outing, an 80% chance one or both kids is going to beg for food I don't have, and a 100% chance someone is going to need to poop at the worst. possible. time.

I also have a fun spinal/hip problem that makes it super painful to hoist the 30-pound bags of flour into their car seats. Just another barrier of exit.

So, for funzies, here are the top 5 reasons I want to give up and go back to bed today:
5. Both kids have diarrhea.
4. I was awakened at 6:11am by the shouts of an Elmo LIVE! doll and a 4-year-old who is completely incapable of controlling the volume of her voice.
3. As I was in the kitchen distracted by the Mortal Kombat-like sequence of tasks required to brew much-needed coffee, my toddler spent several minutes using the sole of my well-loved shoe as a lollipop. That will surely pay dividends later in the disease department.
2. Four times before 8am, I had already uttered the phrase, "please put your underpants back on."
1. I'm just so, so tired.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pick up our entire DVD collection off the floor and try to match them with their cases.
... << MORE >>

Joy.

I have had one of those days where I feel like my heart could burst with the joy and love I feel for my babies. They are a challenging, and often warring, pair. But some days, they are angels. It feels like magic.

You may or may not know that the eldest has significant sensory and anxiety issues. It makes some days pretty... tense. Add to that an unusually-intense and demanding baby sister who, no matter what, cries insanely for at least an hour a day... and some days are just plain nutty. I don't take peaceful moments for granted. I can't. There is almost always something for V.V. to panic about, or some simple task that pushes her to meltdown. And Joanna is the polar opposite of content. Discontent doesn't seem adequate. We just refer to her as "Joanna In A Hurry." It's how she rolls. And that makes V.V. panic.

But then, there are days like today. Baby took a few steps, and V.V. cheered instead of running away screaming. The weather was perfect. The neighbors' dogs didn't make an appearance to terrorize us. Baby took a vacation from the hour-of-crying rule and saved it for naptime protest only. And we played at a busy park for well over an hour, with no tears, no stress, no hiding, no running away. The little one worked on her bear crawl and tasted a few pieces of mulch. The big one jumped right into a group of other 4-year-olds and not only played, but started calling the shots. She coordinated them in sandcastling. She followed them on the slide. She played catch. She helped littler kids up the steps. She exchanged names and ages. She was just completely normal and completely happy. These are things that most parents watch their kids do every day. But, mine is normally so gripped with fear and hesitation...

It. Was. Amazing.

She has been in occupational therapy for a few weeks, and is really getting a lot out of it. Seeing her today was such a joy, and it gives me so much hope. Funny how huge the "little things" can be.
...
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Drag.

Hello, there. It's been a blog-worthy day. V.V. turned 4 last week, and her new ped referred her for an occupational therapy evaluation (today). The OT said that she has weak core muscles, and it would seem that many of her other quirks and delays stem from being noodly through the torso. (My words, not hers.) I'm excited to see what we'll be doing to strengthen her body and balance, and hopefully how it will benefit her dexterity and self-confidence. I'm genuinely looking forward to it... is that weird?

In other news, on the way home, some punk in a sport-compact car that was customized beyond recognition challenged me to a drag race. I'm sure it hurt a little to get dusted by a tan Toyota Sienna. He started it. At least he doesn't know that my stereo is better than his, too. I feel like I've done my part for minivan-kind.

Also, Joanna is dangerously close to walking. I think she's actually taunting me. She just stands up in the middle of the living room. And stands there. And stands there. She never actually attempts to take a step, but when I ask her if she's going to walk, she flashes me the most devilish little grin. I'm afraid of that kid.
... << MORE >>

Little.

I'm a little misty. I spent the morning backing up all my video snippits of V.V. to DVD, and then she and I watched the "movie" together while Joanna was asleep. I have seen each one of these videos dozens of times before, but somehow, seeing them in order, and watching her grow up all at once, made me realize something: I think I have always seen V.V. as older or more capable than she really is. I know she knows and feels how deeply I love her, but it makes me sad that I haven't ever really considered her the baby she is.I can remember times I have gotten aggravated with her because, subconsciously, I saw her as a sensient being who was intentionally grinding my gears.

I'm glad that it hasn't been thematic of our lives together. I know in my heart that I am a patient, encouraging, goofy, affectionate parent. But it was enough of a wake-up call that I have promised myself to remember every day how little my babies still are.
... << MORE >>

Work.

I can't help but feel like God is working on me. I have to admit, I am not very good about spending time reading scripture. I absorb quite a bit from being married to a theologian, of course, but I recently made a commitment to start actually reading, you know, the Bible. I have been reading Psalms, mainly because they are easy to read and all fun and flowery. But yesterday, I leaned over to grab my Bible, and the bookmark wasn't in place. The seconds of quiet time and potential nap were counting down, so I just flipped it open at random and started to read. I landed on 2 Samuel, Chapter 12; a sad story about a poor man with nothing but a little ewe lamb who he treated as his own daughter; and a rich man who took that poor man's little lamb and cooked it for his guests. I dozed off.

So, today, I was cleaning my house and making a real effort to de-clutter. I decided to photograph the clothes Joanna has outgrown and list them for sale. I spent half the day on Tuesday cleaning and de-staining them, so they all look pretty great. But as I start to take the pictures, I feel... guilt. Weird, huh?

While cleaning, I had found a Veggie Tales CD from some long-forgotten Chick-fil-a combo, and V.V. asked to listen to it. I put it on as I continue to sort of photograph the baby stuff. Guess what? The story is based on 2 Samuel 12! They use the exact same story about that poor man and his baby lamb.

So, after listing the stuff for sale, I still felt unsettled, and prayed about it. I felt like God was using this passage to tell me something. Like maybe since most of this baby stuff came to me as gifts, that I should find someone to give it to, rather than profitting from it further. I already have so much — by his grace, and not because I deserve any of it — and I was seeking to turn that into even more for myself.

So, I asked Ray about it after dinner. He said that I should keep praying and be ready to do whatever I feel like God is telling me to do. My phone chimes to tell me I have email. It's a girl asking me if I could take less than my asking price for the baby clothes, because she is pregnant and alone and living in a shelter.

I imagine you know how the story goes from there. Isn't it amazing that the Creator of the Universe will go to so much trouble to get our attention? And isn't it amazing that His word lives and breathes and guides our paths — if we let it?

... << MORE >>

Lax.

Last night, the whole gang went to a Family Night Out event posted on the mom's forum I frequent.It was pretty fun, but I found myself suddenly self-conscious about my parenting style. I like to keep things pretty loose, I guess, but I never really realized that it seems to spark concern among other mommy types.

The other moms, in varying degrees of intensity, were diligently trying to coax their children into eating their free kids' meals. They bargained. They threatened. They airplaned. They spoke in that 'I'm-frustrated-but-don't-want-anyone-else-to-hear-me-get-mad' voice. And, irrespective of method or intensity level, the kids all reacted pretty much the same way: that is, they still don't eat whatever it was they didn't want to begin with, and were just sort of pissed that their moms tried to press the issue.

Then, I look over at V.V. She had silently opened up a few packs of sugar and poured them onto the table. And, she had snatched the pickle spear from my plate and was squeezing it with white-knuckled enthusiasm. I asked what she was doing. "Making pickle lemonade," she said. Made sense to me.

In my world, if my kids are reasonably happy for the duration of our outing, I chalk it in the WIN column. She had eaten about a half-dozen grapes and some of her quesadilla (a "baby pizza" in V.V.-ese). Icing on the cake, if you ask me. She ate, she was quiet, and she was experimenting. Sure, there was a mess. But it was a one-towel mess, at best. Besides, Ray and I always say that's the main reason we like to eat out—- someone else cleans up the mess.

But the other moms didn't seem to share my casual attitude. Nor did they appreciate the genius of the pickle lemonade. The way I see it, you can't expect perfection from anyone, especially little kids. So you have to parent based on your priorities. I have two rules: everyone speaks to each other politely, and the kiddos go to sleep when I say so. My rules reflect my preferences... I think being nice is nice. And I like sleep. As for food, we eat what we want, where we want, when we want, and how we want.

Ray says that I probably get bewildered stares from my fellow mothers, because they envision V.V. at playdates "decorating" their walls with chocolate syrup, with me on the sidelines marvelling at her extraordinary artistic talent. (Something like, "Can you believe the depth and dimension she can get with just one color?! Wait... do you guys have any mustard?") She's not as adventurous as all that, and I'm not quite that spaced out, but he's probably right. But, it beats the heck out of begging her through clenched teeth to eat cold, dinosaur-shaped chiken-esque nuggets until she starts crying.

Just sayin'.
... << MORE >>

Perfect.

Today was, without doubt, the best day I've had in recent memory. We didn't have big plans or a special destination. No events or big spending. But it was perfect.

Worship was amazing and I was able to stay tuned in the whole time (I distract easily, you know). My kids looked and behaved like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting; no crying or whining or tantrums or bodily functions gone awry. The weather was amazing. My husband was relaxed. There was great coffee, free Qdoba, the best salad ever, and farm-fresh double chocolate ice cream. There was a mall trip of nearly two full hours with friendly salespeople, a singing preschooler and awesome new makeup. There were long, peaceful naps had by all. There were smiling faces in photos. There was hair that bowed to the will of the flat iron. There were belly laughs, by all of us. And a goodnight Sarsaparilla after the kiddos went peacefully to bed.

I needed today. Praise God.

... << MORE >>

Hurriquake.

There's much rumbling about the earthquake and impending hurricane. We did feel the quake, though I just thought a strong wind was making the house 'settle,' and I'm having a hard time taking Irene seriously. I did, out of maternal duty, go to Target to pick up three days worth of supplies per the suggestion on the local news (which in my world means three boxes of Clif bars and a working flashlight). But, people are crazy. I had to buy a flashlight of the floating, flashing variety because it was literally the only one left in the store. In Raleigh. Three hours from the coast.

Doomsday weather aside, I am still trying to hammer out a peace accord with V.V., but negotiations are slow-going and peppered with lots of flopping into the floor and screaming. I can't really complain, though, since she JUST NOW starting this stuff at 3-and-a-half. The meltdowns only happen over my most grevious requests, like asking her to pick up a snack wrapper from the floor or to stop touching her bare butt. I know, I'm Mommy Dearest all over again.

This, all with the backdrop of Jo-WAHHH-na using shrill girl screams to express every emotion from surprise, to anguish, to contentedness.

I have to believe in the value of the time I pour into them. Even on days like today when Joanna shrieked like a caged raccoon the entire time we were out of the house, and V.V. went to bed at 6:30 without dinner or pants (I can't force the child to nap or eat, but I did go put some pants on her after she fell asleep). I have to trust that God will honor my intense desire to be the best mama I can be... and that maybe V.V. will remember the hour we spent playing merrily with Play-Doh, or reading Green Eggs and Ham (twice), instead of the parts where I had to ignore her due to my zero-tolerance policy on whining.

I'll just take a deep breath, smile at how much I adore them, enjoy the quiet of the evening, and pray that God gives me another whack at it tomorrow. It's bound to be a better day... even if there is a hurricane.

... << MORE >>

Busy.

My blog dashboard always tells me how many days its been since I posted anything. Thanks for the guilt, blog, I needed that.

I've been super busy of late. Too busy. I'm taking on a lot of design work... and these kids are trying to kill me. They are belligerent and numerous. I'm only kidding. Aside from V.V.'s heartbreaking hourly meltdowns and Joanna's unpleasant biting, we have fun. We are new to Nick Jr, and at first, I was sure that dude on Yo Gabba Gabba was making fun of me for having to watch his ridiculous show. As the first few days passed, I came to enjoy the almost grotesque cavalcade of absurdity.And now, I have some of the songs on my iPhone and I desperately want to go to see the Yo Gabba Gabba Live! show. I'm impressionable, that's all. The "Rain Is Falling" song is dope—- I don't care who you are.

I am trying to be more intentional about activities with V.V. (you know, when we're know watching weird looking monsters sing about dancing). We paint. We read. We bake desserts and then eat them for lunch. I've started to teach her the different types of car nameplates, too... which tickles me to death, though I doubt knowing a Ford from a Toyota will add value during her kindergarten placement tests in a few years.It is mind-blowing to watch her grow up. Her thoughts are so complex, and fortunately for me, she never has a thought that she doesn't immediately vocalize. It is both touching and hilarious to listen to an intensely sensitive three-year-old process the world.

Joanna is another matter entirely. There is no being intentional with Joanna. You just do what the heck she wants and nobody gets hurt.Well, usually. She does bite. And if she isn't actually crying, she just kind of moans to let you know that she could blow at any moment. And she is always in a hurry. I can't see my current laid-back parenting style working out so hot with Joanna. She's going to need someone to reel in that temper and take her intensity level down a few notches. But that's what preschools are for, right? =)

Anyway, I should be asleep.


 

... << MORE >>

Sleep.

Ah, sleep.I remember you. It's nice to see you again. Please, do stay a while.

Joanna is sleeping through the night. Of course, having typed that, she will almost certainly be squawking at 3am. But for the last 10 days, she's been snoozing solid from 8pm to 6am. And still naps 4+ hours a day. I would like to thank Dr. Harvey Karp, for without his swaddling technique and assurances, we would never have gotten her to sleep at all, much less through the night. She's a stubborn one, that Joanna.

V.V. is only slightly less delightful than usual, and I need to remember how stressful her life is. Just like me, she had to endure life in limbo, moving, leaving her friends, and gaining a screaming baby sister all at once. And she's only three. V.V. is going through the fear/anxiety phase, and it rips my heart out (and frustrates me more than I care to admit). I don't know if the monster under her bed is a product of burgeoning imagination or cumulative anxiety, but I wish he'd go live under someone else's bed. I imagine some of it is feeling separated from me. Overnight, she went from having all of my time and attention, to not having much at all. I always joke that Joanna requires so much of my attention that V.V. has gone feral. She roams around the house naked all day, scavenging bits of old trail mix from the rug. (I'm only half kidding.)

I have a notepad on the fridge that has three sections: To Buy, To Do, To Remember. Under "To Remember," I wrote:
1. Joanna is not out to get you.
2. Be nice to V.V.

Good reminders, both.

... << MORE >>

Move.

Moving is hard. And expensive. It seems like everybody wants to get paid when you move... I just have to breathe deep and trust that it will all work out. God always provides.

We are just about moved in, except for the dozens and dozens of boxes that need to be unpacked. Ha. Having two little kids complicates the process, but in a way, they sort of ensure a more leisurely pace. A two-month-old can neither be reasoned with, nor will her needs be delayed. But we're getting there. All of the living spaces are mostly functional, and we have working TV and internet.

Oddly, I feel at home here already. Maybe it's because we've been on the edge of our seats for months now, not knowing where or when we had to move. It's hard to relax and feel at home when you have half your stuff in PODs in the driveway, and you never got to satisfy the pregnant nesting instict. Setting up my nest is long overdue, and it is so comforting to be able to settle in somewhere.

Joanna was amazingly calm this week as we packed and cleaned and loaded and unloaded. Out of necessity, she has had to adapt to getting less of my time and attention than she would like, and I think it has been good for her. Very little inconsolable crying this week (a miracle that can only be God given... and I do not say that flippantly in the least). V.V. was and is a joy as always, but she is having some anxiety (which breaks my heart). It's hard to console her convincingly when I feel exactly as she does, but as always, she and I are peas in a pod and offer each other such sweet comfort. She is my angel.

So, now the adventure starts.Brand new life.



... << MORE >>

Joanna.

It's been a busy few days, but most importantly, my sweet Joanna is here. She was born at 12:47pm on Monday, March 21, 2011... clocking in at 8 pounds 7 ounces, and an amazing 22 inches long. The c-section was incredible this time, and I am deeply, deeply grateful for the birth experience I had. No reaction to the spinal block like I had with the epidural last time, and it offered me a constant stream of morphine... so I spent the whole delivery in a warm, happy place. Even though there was craziness behind the curtain, the nurses wrapped Joanna up after they pulled her out, and let her lay (still cheesy) on my chest while the doctor put me back together. Joanna screamed heartily for the first few minutes, but the moment they lay her next to me and she heard my voice—she was silent. What a beautiful gift. And I was well enough to sit up and nurse her before she was 45 minutes old. Considering she was delivered via major abdominal surgery, is was as serene and natural as it could have been. It was perfect. And Ray is pleased to see some of his genes represented in his progeny this time... she is clearly a Garrett.

Ray and I made a ton of progress getting the house decluttered and packed up before I went in to the hospital, so everything looks great at home. And later today, when given the clearance for discharge, Joanna gets to ride home in the super, duper sweet Toyota Sienna XLE that Ray bought me on our anniversary (boy, was I wrong about him forgetting).

It has been nice to be at St. Francis for a few days, with the on-demand nursery drop offs, hand delivered Percocet, and room service; but, I am lookiing forward to getting home. I've only seen V.V. for a total of about two hours this week, and I miss snuggling my big girl.

Looks like my last made-to-order hospital breakfast has arrived, so Ima wrap this up. I have a healthy, gorgeous baby nursing flawlessly while draped across my lap, and a huge tray of hot french toast and fruit that need my attention and adoration. Life is good. God is good.<< MORE >>

Days.

Two of them to be exact. Two more days, and baby Joanna is here. It feels a little icky having an appointment for the birth of my child, but, such is life. Monday at noon, if you're the praying kind. Ultimately, it won't matter how she gets here, and I can't wait to meet the girl who has been tormenting my organs.

We are worefully behind on the packing front, but the SmartBoxes are here anyway. And, I managed to sell my PT Cruiser with shocking ease. I can't say I'm any less panicked than a few weeks ago, but crippling kidney pain has certainly narrowed my focus. I was in the ER on Monday with a very enlarged, infected kidney thanks to a stone or two, but even that has its silver lining: namely that morphine is awesome, and my prescribed dose of two gallons of water per day has sparked a love of water in V.V. as well.

On an unrelated note, V.V. is now three years old, but if you ask her, she denies it and insists she is still two. I tell her it's okay; a lot of women lie about their age. I decided at the very last second to have a party for her, since we won't be in Virginia next year, and it turned out surprisingly well—plus I only spent $80. I am so great. She had all her grandparents, two uncles, several cousins and us, plus the piece de resistance: DQ ice cream cake and dozens of balloons (read: instant party).

I just remembered that Ray and I celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary tomorrow. I imagine he will forgive my lack of planning... maybe my gift can be that I forgive him for forgetting, too. =)<< MORE >>

Aaaaaaah!

Ok. Deep breaths. Count to ten. Not gonna freak out. I am thoroughly overwhelmed, but not going to lose it. Here's the scoop: 1. I am 37 weeks pregnant, due a few days shy of 3 weeks away, actually. Which means... any day. 2. We are moving to Salt Lake City. As in Utah, some 2,400 miles away. 3. We have to list our current house, which means cleaning, landscaping and de-cluttering. 4. I can't really help much, since as I mentioned, I am 14 months pregnant. And, once the Smartboxes arrive, I will have a 3-year-old AND a wiggly pink newborn need-machine. I will almost certainly want to pack and move boxes anyway, despite being postpartum and probably post-op. 5. We need to sell about half of our stuff, including both cars, which requires a) work and b) thoughful planning and timing. And all of this stuff costs money. Lots and lots of money. But I'm going to hold it together. Focus on one thing at a time and trust that God will provide. Once we get where we're going, I'm sure I will be excited and embrace the new adventure. But for now... Deep breaths.<< MORE >>

Gush.

What the heck. I can still blog, right? I often forget just how therapeutic it is, and how useful—since I forget things. Ray always says that I could hide my own Easter eggs. Indeed, everything is a suprise to me.

So, where to start. I am thoroughly and truly in love with being at home with V.V.. It all started with "Yes Man." Jim Carrey taught me to embrace the "yes" in life. There, I said it. Now I can stop being embarrassed that I have derived a new lifestyle from a movie. I have spent most of my life avoiding committment of any kind, due to crippling social anxiety and a deep-seated fear of awkwardness (however well-founded). And I know that I have missed out on opportunities, and probably some good friendships, because I will go out of my way to say "no." So now, when confronted with something I would ordinarily lie to get out of, I just say yes. It has been amazing. I easily have about 300% more social engagements, and realized that awkward isn't ever really as bad as I always think it will be. I have even made peace with singing in public. The way I look at it, there are tons of people who don't have anything in their lives to get super nervous or super excited about. I am very blessed to have a talent people want to witness, and doubly-blessed that it allows me to serve my God.

I have also decided to live every day like I am on vacation. I take long bike rides with V.V. in the co-pilot seat. We go to parks. We swim. We always buy something when the ice cream truck comes. We sing songs. We paint pictures. We plant tomatoes. We take long naps and long baths. We go to free movies. We go to "Richmondy" places, just like a tourist would... your Bottoms Ups and Pony Pastures and Children's Museums and such. In a word: awesome.


All these recent revelations combine to make staying at home seem like a ridiculously amazing gift. My sweet child is a true delight (and yes, she's two), and I am humbled and so grateful that I get to be her mama full-time, every day.

By the way, she is out of Early Intervention. She had a speech assesment a few weeks ago at 27 months old and... drumroll... she scored at 30 months for both receptive and expressive language. No one involved, myself included, can believe how far she's come. I am so proud of my little stinker.

I'ma stop now. I am practically gushing with gratitude. ... << MORE >>

Chatty.

I forgot that people actually read this. So here goes the update...

I have taken up running. I find it boring and I'm in constant pain, but until I finish that 10K, I run. I guess I find it satisfying on some level that I am meeting a goal I set for myself, and that I am more physically able than I thought... but I doubt running is going to be an enduring pasttime for me.

What else... we moved to Bon Air several months ago... and LOVE it. By far, the best area of Richmond we've lived in. It's got style and charm like Westham or The Fan, but it's still in Chesterfield, so it's just more... or maybe less... it's just cool. We chose Bon Air because it is as close to Ray's office as we can get while staying in the county, so we can keep receiving amazing services from Chesterfield's early intervention program.

Which brings me to the vastly more inportant update: V.V. can talk. She is still well behind what it considered normal for her age, and we have a long way to go, but neither fact diminishes my joy. I actually well up a little when I hear that little voice. She can talk. My favorites so far are apple (pronounced ah-poool), ice cream (i-keeeem), and elbow (pronounced correctly, which is even more adorable).

What's even cooler is that she can read... and spell. We've been doing the Your Baby Can Read program for over a year, and she can and does read about two dozen words. And she spontaneously started pointing to and identifying letters about a week ago... a feat so astounding I force her to repeat as often as she is willing.

She is still painfully shy, which often hurts the feelings of some very sweet people, she still flips out every now and again and flings herself backwards, she still doesn't understand everything we ask her to do (or at least she pretends not to), and shopping with her is still a bit like shopping with a caged raccoon... but I'm not sure that you couldn't say the same about most two-year-olds.

Which reminds me... V.V. turned two! I bought her a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Okay, I bought me a PT Cruiser, but for the specific purpose of transporting her Radio Flyer. All my car dilemmas were solved by a car that looks curiously like a guinea pig.

And there you have it. Let's talk again soon.

... << MORE >>

Wagon.

I find myself car shopping again. Nelson (my 1991 Escort) is trying to hang in there, God bless him, but he's old and tired. And now, you can crank him only with the help of a flathead screwdriver. Both hilarious and terrifying. I still love him endlessly, though. For his 15 years by my side, I should probably reward him with a long nap in a green pasture somewhere... but I do so love to see his eager face when I walk out my front door. Like an old soldier, despite his failing body, he is always willing to serve.

But the reality is that I need a reliable car for me and the toddler, and I have about $2,000 to do it with. If I were a sensible creature, I'd get a Cavalier or a Hyundai made in this decade with as few miles as I could find. But I, dear friends, am not a sensible creature.

I want a station wagon. And it has to have a sunroof. I originally had my sights set on a Volvo 850 or V70, but the more I read, the more scared I get. I have, on occassion, been tempted by a Mazda MPV thusly equipped. But I think that to satisfy my wants for waggony goodness and a hole in the roof AND my need for reliability and safety, there is only really one choice: the 1997 Honda Accord EX wagon.

So, if you see one or if you have one, and it can be mine for $2,000 or less... please tell me. I promise it will get a name, and no one will love it more than me. =)

... << MORE >>

Gear...

So, I have almost two years of parenthood under my belt, accompanied by a lot of baby stuff. You truly have no idea what to ask for or register for before you have a kid. I decided to make my trial-and-error go to work for someone, somewhere. Here it is: my list of 10 things I couldn't survive without, none of which I even knew I needed before the arrival of my bundle of needs... I mean, joy.

Top 10 Baby Things I Can't Function Without

1 The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat, Casino BEST CAR SEAR EVER! Highest crash test rating ever given by the NHTSA, rear-faces to 35lbs. Forward-facing to 65lbs and 50 inches tall. Built-in seat belt lock-offs make installation a breeze for older pre-LATCH cars.
2 Your Baby Can Read: Early Language Development System My 22-month-old can read! This system is expensive, but really works.
3 The First Year's Newborn-To-Toddler Reclining Feeding Seat This was the best thing we got as a shower gift (we didn't register for it either). She still uses it every day.
4 Boon Frog Pod Deluxe with Bath Toys The little foam dealies stick to the shower walls... which V.V. finds endlessly entertaining. =)
5 JJ Cole Diaper & Wipes Caddy - Green Stripe This is one of those things you don't know you need until you have a baby.
6 Caillou - Caillou, The Everyday Hero We have five Caillou DVDs, actually. If you're kid is a fan, get DVDs from 2006 and up; otherwise you get creepy puppets and dancing kids with bowls of fruit.
7 Playtex Insulator Cup 9 oz. - 1pk. V.V. throws things, like, a lot. After much trial and error: a truly spill-proof cup! And it keeps milk fresh for four hours.
8 Munchkin Jelly Bean Reversible Sling This is the only carrier my little miss would tolerate. I actually still use it (most recently, when I was home alone with her and needed to de-ice the car).
9 Kid Knex Footed Friends Sure, it says not intended for kids under three. But it is my child's favorite toy in the entire world.
10 Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Tower Give a toddler a hammer, and they're sure to have a great time.

<< MORE >>

Boo.

It makes me sad that V.V. has developmental delays and sensory issues. And that she gets so frustrated so easily. I am not naturally a patient person, but I try with every ounce of mybeing to be calm and patient with her at all times. That is exhausting.

Every day, I plan out little activities that seem super fun in my head, but in practice, they usually don't end well (or start well, in many cases). She doesn't play with things in functional and appropriate ways, and hurls them in disgust when I try to show her how (a phenomenon that has helped me develop faster ducking and dodging reflexes). She climbs on things, and then just turns around as walks off of them, never expecting to plummet to the floor. And she sleeps... a lot. I sometimes wonder if she is behind because she spends (and has always spent) so much time crying and sleeping (leaving less time for learning stuff).

I am very much looking forward to starting her therapy. Her educator was out sick this week, but hopefully, we will get started next week. My hope is that teaching V.V. to communicate will be like when I learned to drive a stick shift. I bought a manual transmission car before I knew how to drive one, and limped it home, somehow, between the two dozen or so stalls. Over the next two weeks, five different people tried to teach me, and I still couldn't get it. Panic has set in, as I thought I would have to continue making payments on a car that I couldn't drive. But then #6 (my mom) explained it to me, and it clicked. For whatever reason, the way she conveyed the same information made sense, and I got it instantly. I hope that V.V.'s educator has alternative ways of explaining things to my baby that will just 'click..' We shall see.

For now, I'll just keep trying.


<< MORE >>

Hello, again, hello.

Forgive me reader, for it has been 107 days since my last post. Where to start...

1. The cats are gone. It was a traumatic process for everyone involved, but both boys are in new homes, and Ashlin is camping out at the PetSmart on Libbie Ave. She has her own 4-foot-cubed cage, a carpeted condo that is litterbox adjacent, and her own food bowl. I have visited her a few times, and she seems happy. She's old, you know. She's probably glad to have some peace and quiet, and since all she did was sleep and then eat/poop once a day, this arrangement saves her a few steps. Still makes me sad to see her caged, though. I hope she gets a new family, but even still, nobody will ever love her like I do.

2. We are still in Richmond. Ray is now the District Staffing Manager at ZipRealty. Tough gig in a tough market, but he seems to like it and he's good at it. If you're a Realtor, or know one, you should call him. He can hook you up.

3. V.V. is 18 months old. Confirming my earlier suspicions, she has some developmental delays. She will start speech therapy and early education in the next week or two, and I am hoping to hear her say something by the end of the year. Anything will do. She has other delays, but communication development is hovering around the 8 month level, so that's the low hanging fruit, to use a tired corporate phrase. On the bright side, she has been a most delightful creature in the last four months since she learned to walk. And she understands everything we say, which has helped tremendously with our communication. I can usually coax a nod 'yes' or 'no' out of her. She still has a hard time being left at the Y or anywhere else without me, but she made a little friend at church, and doesn't protest so much (or at all) on Sunday mornings. That frees me up to sing again, and I had my glorious 'comeback' two Sundays ago. I know it sounds presumptuous, but I am pretty sure I rocked the house. I do so love to hear applause, shouts and whistles in a Baptist church.

4. It has been 11 months since I left Circuit City to tend to my temperamental toddler. I miss working more than I thought I would (especially on non-stop-whining days), but I know I am investing my time in the right place. V.V. needs my help to overcome her obstacles, and I am up to the task. Although I am in the market for a once-a-week babysitter... Of course, giving up a generous salary means the money has been tight. So we are moving forward with the life simplification plan. Pretty much everything is on the chopping block... every "thing" that is. We only have energy for that which is of eternal significance. My Honda, not so much.

Here she is, folks. My gorgeous, demanding, delightful, affectionate, tall, funny girl. It's okay to stare.

<< MORE >>

Granola.

I'm not exactly a hippie, or particularly green. But I had sort of a panic spaz about all of the chemicals and garbage that go on or in my baby... bottles with toxins in the plastic, diapers with chlorine, BPA and pthalates, food with preservatives and chemicals, milk with hormones, soaps with crap in them... you know?

So, in addition to slowing converting the house to organic food and cleaners, I switched to cloth diapers. (I will admit that my uncontrollable thriftiness played a supporting role in my choice to go cloth... I got about 9 months of free disposable diapers at various showers before V.V. was born, but once the gravy train stopped, I got acquainted with how much "sposies" cost.)

I labored over what to buy, as I ALWAYS do before buying anything, and landed on the GroBaby system. There is so much to know about cloth diapering, and for me, it was totally uncharted territory... prefolds, AIOs, AI2s, one size, liners, doublers, soakers... there is a lot of diaper vocabulary to know when you aren't just buying them in a box at Sam's Club.

Anywho... I picked the GroBaby system because:
1. they are one size, so no need to worry about if they will fit or be grown out of (which is nice, because V.V. is huge for her age and has mama's thunder thighs).

2. The cotton soakers snap on and out of the diaper shells, so you only need 2 or 3 of the shells and enough soakers to get you through the day (versus needing a whole days worth of all-in-ones at like $40 each).

3. They are ridiculously cute, and I get a sick thrill out of showing them off.

4. The soakers and doublers (for naps or overnight) are humanely priced.

I have been using them for almost two months, and I love them. I have two shells and eight soakers (and one doubler... the other is MIA), so I have to do laundry every 1.5-2 days. Sure, I'd love to have more... but I'm pathologically cheap.

If you're thinking about making the switch... do it. It's worth $100 to try it (you'd spend that on Pampers in 2 months or less).

Learn more here: http://www.thenaturalbabyco.com/grobaby%E2%84%A2-ic-11_16.htm

And here's the lil' miss sporting her GroBaby in Kiwi.
<< MORE >>

Ahem.

Wow. We Garretts have been a busy bunch. We're getting the house in selling shape, thinking about a move, and we've set a goal to get rid of about 80% of our stuff. We're just generally trying to simplify. I've been pretty miserable of late, and so, Ray has made the decree that we will "keep changing crap until I feel better." It's working. Even the possibility of changing crap makes me feel better.

In other news, V.V. had a birthday. In fact, she is nearly 13 months old. She's a handful... mainly on account of Mama being the center of her universe. So, we put her in school two days a week, to give me a break and to help her learn some social skills and independence. It's hard to say if the whole independence thing is working out, but the break sure is nice.

I worry about her sometimes. I'm sure she's just "developing on her own time," but it's hard not to compare milestones. She's standing and almost walking now (just needs one mama or dada finger to get going), but she doesn't say much. Well, at least not much that I can understand. She only says mama when she's mad at me, she only says dada when he's not here, she asks for a baba, and she makes meowing sounds at the cat. ...<< MORE >>

Idol.

I love American Idol. I do. Ray and I DVR it every week. I think I should be a guest judge. I would be the most stone-cold, harshest judge of all time. Example: Scott's only there because he's blind. And, I can't tell you what Jorge's voice sounds like, because I can't get past the fact that he looks just like C. Thomas Howell in black-face from the 1986 blockbuster hit, "Soul Man." And oddly, Ray would be even nicer than Paula.

—M

<< MORE >>

Crawl.

It has happened. V.V. can crawl. A few days before Christmas, she was barely crawling... now she's not only covering a lot of ground on hands and knees... she can also pull up. Frightening. It seems to bring her such delight to finally be mobile, and the cats are more skittish than ever now that they are within her grasp.

On another note, my kid is so cute it actually hurts a little. She doesn't say anything intelligible (other than Mama and Dada), but she is learning the meaning of a few words... if I ask her where her nose is, she breathes loudly through her nose a few times. If I ask for her fingers, she shrieks with laughter and sticks her fingers in my mouth. If I ask for a kiss, on a good day, she leans in and gives me one. And if I ask her if she's hungry... well... she makes a "p-p-puh" sound. Why, you may ask? Because when you try to feed her with a spoon, she accepts the food and then spits it right back at you with a nice "PUH." Charming, really. Very clever of her though, that she makes the connection between "are you hungry?" and "puh." Very clever girl, indeed. And skinny.

And here she is, the darling little devil. She'll be 1 in just a few weeks. Can you believe that?

<< MORE >>

Motherly.

I'm having an identity crisis. I don't really feel like a parent. Sometimes you see moms with their kids, and it fits. They look like
mommies. There does not appear to be any internal conflict. I don't
feel as though I look like that. I am nurturing and encouraging and love my baby to pieces, but I really still feel like the same old Michelle. Only now there is a tiny person in the house that needs my near-constant attention, which makes it nearly impossible to do anything that the same old Michelle used to enjoy.

You know that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie is in the bathroom trying to decode the message from little orphan Annie? The rest of the family is screaming at the door for him to come out... and it ends up being this urgent stressful frenzy just to finish what he was doing... only to end in crushing disappointment. Lately, everything I do feels like that. Example: I bought shrinkwrap to insulate our drafty windows. Despite V.V. shrieking like a caged raccoon the entire time (as she does whenever I am more than 12 inches away or not looking in her direction), I managed to get one window done... but then I realized that I couldn't hang the blinds back up without puncturing the plastic. So, what was a needlessly ...<< MORE >>

My new camera.

Since I have taken to product reviews of late, I figured I would post here about my experiences with the Canon SX110is, which I ended up returning, and the Sony DSC-H50, which after much deliberation I have decided to keep. (Unlike the car seat, I actually paid retail for both.. gasp... and am not getting any incentive for my review.)

Why I needed a new camera (my unreasonable demands): I shoot 90% of my photos indoors (often in poor or low light) and nearly 100% of my photos are of a wiggly baby... and I HATE using a flash. I would rather not have the photo than have to use the flash. And I can't afford an SLR. My old Olympus has taken some admirably amazing pictures, but as the little one is getting more mobile... the "unusably blurry" to "acceptable and in focus" ratio shifted dramatically to the blurry end of the spectrum.

My thoughts on the Canon: I think that the Canon SX110 is an amazing camera for the money. It took beautiful photos of stationary objects in pretty much any light, and of the baby with A LOT of daylight coming into the living room, but struggled to get a usable photo of her in even slightly less than ideal light. I think I took 50 shots in my well-lit bedroom, and not a single one was in focus. If you are not trying to document the daily life of a spastic infant, it is an awesome choice in the super zoom category. The macro mode works really well. Here are a few of the test pictures I took. Pretty excellent, I think, for a $220 camera. (These all look great at full size, too.)



Why I love the H50: First of all, I went to several places looking for help before I bought this. No one at Circuit City or Best Buy could show me a camera that could solve my poor-light-and-moving-target problem. But the manager at Ritz Camera at Stratford Hills sure could. I gave him the same spiel I'd given about 4 other salespeople that day, and finished with, "I just want a camera that will take the daggone picture when I push the button and trust me that the lighting is as I want it. He said, "Here. Try the ISO setting on the Sony H50." The ISO setting adjusts the shutter speed up to ISO1600 so you can take a picture quickly, with no flash, even in crappy lighting. He set the camera, put it in my hands, and I took two beautiful photos of my wiggly baby right there in the dull, greenish flourescent lights of the camera shop. SOLD. Even though it was over my $300 budget.

In the days since my purchase, I have discovered that the H50 flash is adjustable in intensity and has a flash-fill setting to reduce the bright-white-face-in-dark-background phenomenon. I still don't like using it, but it is far less offensive than most. I also discovered that in most cases, I can just hold down the flash with my finger, and the camera still takes the shot as if the flash was on... which 7 times out of 10 gives me the shot I was looking for.

As far as downers, the H50 has really aggressive noise reduction in lower light, even when you turn it to the lowest setting. And the colors tend to be very cool (which the fella at Ritz warned me about). But really, as long as I get a clear, in-focus shot, I can fix color and contrast issues. And the H50, in most situations, has not failed me yet (I'd say I get 1 good shot out of every 5-10 pictures, as opposed to the 1-in-50 or none at all I was getting before).

I am a big fan, and I and very hard to please. I have to guess that the H50 will only continue to delight as I learn more of it's capabilities. Here are a few of my Sony's greatest hits so far.




Attached.

I've spent many hours this week shopping for a new digital camera. My current camera, an Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom, is an antique (read: 6 years old), it has 2 bad pixels on the sensor, the side panel door flaps around all willy-nilly, and I dropped it a few days ago (an injury that seems to have messed up the lens such that everything is way overexposed). So, I think it's time to replace it, and I have narrowed the field down to about 3 or 4 good candidates, but I can't do it. The Olympus is my first and only digital camera, and I love it. Im fact, I am oddly attached to it.

Odd, since I have cursed the camera, and its impossibly blurry images, daily since the baby was born. It takes a lot of work (and patience I just don't have) to get a good shot, but when I do, they are remarkable. I love the warmth of the optics without the flash. I love that I know how to use all the menus. I love that it takes AA batteries. I love that it has worked admirably long beyond its expectancy. And the zoom...<< MORE >>

Car Seat Death Match: True Fit vs. Radian80

This is an unusual topic for me. A few months ago, I signed up to be on a parent review panel for the new Learning Curve True Fit convertible car seat, and in exchange for a 50% discount and free shipping, I agreed to review it and share my thoughts with those in or near my sphere of influence (that's you).

In addition to the True Fit, I am also the owner of a Sunshine Kids Radian80 car seat. (Important note to prove that I am pathologically cheap: I took advantage of an internet price mistake on the Radian 80—-bought two, and sold one on eBay to pay for the other, so it was basically free.) So, what I'll do is compare the two seats, since if you're considering one, you're probably also considering the other.

Weight limits:
Both seats are designed to keep your little darling confined to a 5-point harness for an unusually long time. The Radian 80 is good up to 80 pounds, the True Fit clocks in at 65 pounds. Neither is too shabby, considering the typical convertible seat is only usable to 40 pounds (a few go up to 50), after which you'd need to buy a booster. Keep that in mind before you write these seats off based on price. Odds are, either of these is the last seat you'll ever need.

Harnesses:

Both seats have a convenient single strap...<< MORE >>

Real.

I was in training for a few hours today, reviewing the nitty gritty details of real estate contracts. It was required by the brokerage, but I have done this exercise before with Ray... and I have watched him learn many cruel and unusual lessons during the course of his transactions, so I am already in pretty good shape vis-a-vis writing contracts.

But you know, the more I learn about real estate, the more there is to know. And, I don't mean for this to sound like a plug, even though it clearly is a plug, but I wouldn't trust my real estate transactions to the majority of agents I've met. I'd want someone who has learned by doing. Someone who thinks on his or her feet and can come up with creative ways to keep a deal alive. Someone creative. Someone who knows how to get me a great mortgage with no money down. Someone who answers my phone calls. I'd want Ray Garrett (and it doesn't hurt that you get Michelle as a part of the package).

In all seriousness, there are so many ways to get burned in a real estate deal. I actually find it amazing (and a little troubling) that there are so many people who think they are qualified.

<end plug>
...<< MORE >>

Tasty treat o' the week.

Due to blog abandonment, I have some treating to catch up on.

So here goes. My top three recent food infatuations.

1. Mott's Pomegranate Plus Applesauce. Crap, this stuff is good. Sweet, delightfully pink, and full of antioxidants. Just like me. No artificial junk, no sugar added. The Summer Strawberry flavor is also wicked tasty.

2. Chick-fil-a Sauce. The bold simplicity of the name alone should tell you it's good. I know and you know that it's just Honey Mustard and Barbeque Sauce mixed together... but the magic is in the proportions. And the tiny little convenient packets. I thought Chick-fil-a nuggets couldn't get any better, but then I squeezed them tight with dry napkins to absorb the extra grease, dunked them in Chick-fil-a sauce, and what do you know, they got a little better.

3. Fiber One Oats & Chocolate Chewy Bars. Hands down, the tastiest way to get your fiber. And you know, the Kroger "Active Lifestyle" version is as good, if not better. They have awesome chewy texture, chocolate chips, they're sticky in that way that makes those little stringy trails when you bite them, and they are substantial enough to keep you full for a while. But exercise caution: 9g of fiber per bar can sneak up on you, and if you don't have outrageous daily fiber needs like a certain unnamed blog owner, you'll probably want to eat these sparingly.

Man, that felt good. But now I'm hungry.

Surly.

I'm dusting off the old blog today, because I had the most awesome encounter today, and I wanted to share.

With V.V. on my hip, she and I were walking into the Dollar General. No automatic doors, so I go to grab the handle, and there is a lady inside about to leave the store who gets to the door at the same time. I open the door, smile, quickly enter the store, and cheerfully say to her, "Excuse us." Innocuous enough. But to my friendly "excuse us," she responded in the most awesomely random way possible: she looked straight ahead, stiffened up, and just said, "NO" as she walked out of the store.

What do you do with that? I've never had anyone refuse to excuse me before. I mean, I guess by the nature of the request, you can either be granted an excuse or not, but I am so tickled that someone exercised her right not to forgive my brief and innocent trespass. =)

Here's a recent shot of The Vive, for the fans. 8 months old!

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Crazy for this girl.

Seven months old!

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Farewell, my friend, farewell.

It's gone. Oh, I, oh I,  I'd better learn how to face, it's gone.
Oh, I, oh I, I'd pay a hundred to replace it.
It's gone, oh I, what went wrong?

Someone took my Zune. My casual certainty that it would turn up subsided to creeping panic over the course of several music-free days. And now I am left with Hall & Oates in my head, and a hole in my heart. K. So, not really. But I do miss it more than I would have guessed, and I have been pouting and whining about it near constantly (though no tears just yet. But stay tuned).

My little brown brick was taken from my (unlocked) car, parked in front of my house. I am actually thinking of creating a "Have You Seen Me?" sign to post in my front yard, in the hopes that someone will feel guilty enough to return it—or someone's angry momma will force them to return it. A pointless exercise, maybe, but strangely therapeutic for people who are crazy in my very specific way. (Note: I'm temporarily choosing to ignore the draining effect that a publicized theft would have on my and my neighbors' property values.)

Everybody I've told has suggested that I buy an iPod, but I just can't. Stupid iPods. I want my Zune back. ***pouting and trailing off into Hall & ...<< MORE >>

Word of the day.

Internet (noun): vapid wasteland replete with endless ways to waste time.

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Six months.

Six months is a busy age. V.V. is doing crunches and leg lifts every day, which I expect means she will be sitting and crawling sooner than I would have guessed. She is a touch on the temperamental side... but she gets it honest... her mama isn't exactly the most even-keeled individual in the world. The Vive is pretty intense. She pounds the crap out of her toys. She lifts her legs and slams them onto the mattress over and over when she's tired (and sometimes when she's actually asleep). She growls. She bites. She throws her head back in utter disgust when she is bored.

But all that said, her intensity really isn't a bad thing. Exhausting. Noisy. But not bad. She just needs me a lot, and I am sure it doesn't help that I am in the office three days a week (and three days in a row at that). But when she is happy and has her energy focused, is it very clear that she is very clever. She says mama, and it seems like she has actually associated that with
me (well, with nursing anyway), and neenee means she would prefer a
bottle instead. (The inconsistent flow of breastmilk sometimes
frustrates my dear little one, and she has made that quite clear... in
a manner than involves teeth and vocal disapproval.)

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Tasty Treat of the Week.

As is often the case, the Treat comes with a caveat. This week's treat is limited in availability, based in large part on your ability to persuade Dairy Queen employees.

It all started three years ago, at the Dairy Queen on Patterson Avenue. We walked in to get a tasty frozen treat, ordered all proper-like off of the menu,
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