26 November 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. There's so little pressure on this holiday, what with it's position between Halloween and Christmas. There's no expectation to dress up or buy gifts. It's a nice day to relax, eat good food, and hang out with family.

So here are my tips for enjoying an extra special Thanksgiving (this comes after I spent 20 minutes in the grocery store snarling at people):

1. Buy groceries in advance - far in advance - and early in the morning or late at night. I have no patience for people who are completely clueless and stand in the middle of a grocery aisle while trying to figure out if they should buy red sweet potatoes or white sweet potatoes. Also, don't go to a snooty place like Whole Foods in Cherry Creek (my BIG mistake). For some reason, people who drive BMWs and Mercedes think they can stall out in the middle of the store while people are backed up behind them for miles. They also drive around the parking lot for a half an hour waiting for a spot to open up.

2. Don't go Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I know this is a tradition in our capitalist society. But, trust me, you will save your sanity if you shop before Thanksgiving. Or shop online. Or donate everyone's gift money to charity.

3. Eat, drink, and be merry! Minus the potential shopping chaos, don't worry about preparing the perfect meal. Everyone will be so stuffed by the end, they won't remember what anything tasted like, much less looked like.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

17 November 2008

The 'Dadas' Have It

We've waited and waited and waited. Benny figured out the words for "light," "hot," "hat," "all done," "ick," and "uh oh" with relatively little coaching. He's even fairly well-spoken on words like "good" ("gu, gu, gu") and "meow" ("eow"), but getting him to say "mama" or "dada" has been a work in progress since he started babbling.

At six months, almost to the day, he began babbling by saying "dada" and Nate was pretty proud. "Mama" followed shortly thereafter, but the sounds never really meant anything. He wasn't calling us those names. Every night since then Nate quizzes Benny while he's taking his bath: "Benny, who is this?" (while pointing to himself). Benny has thrown out "dada" a few times, but nothing worth noting. But I think it's time to concede. The "dada" has it. Benny now refers to Nate as "Dada" when prompted. He doesn't do the same for "Mama." Tear.

Then again, Benny can locate several of my body parts and wants nothing to do with Nate. He points to mama's nose, knees, head... Speaking of body parts, that "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" song is pretty effective. Benny can now identify nearly every body part in that song, save for his shoulders and his nose. He even puts a new spin on it: He will point to, pull at, and otherwise acknowledge his pee pee when asked. I don't know where that came from!

All jokes aside, it's nice to summarize Benny's developmental progress. He's right on track as far as I can tell. That makes a formerly worried "mama" very happy!

16 November 2008

The Brother-in-Law Experiment

The recession/financial crisis/economic meltdown has officially hit home. Sure, we've been cutting back on our spending for awhile, but that's mostly because we were planning to buy a house and because I'm not pulling in any cash. The gas-price crunch didn't even impact us that much. Benny and I rarely drive during the week as we can walk nearly everywhere we need to go (and I would prefer to use my feet over my wheels) and Nate only drives about five miles to work.

I realize that we are incredibly lucky. Nate's job is relatively secure. He works in wastewater and we all know that people will always produce "waste." I get to stay home with Benny and we still managed to buy a house in this financial mess.

Nate's brother wasn't so lucky. He was recently laid off from a medical supply company in Michigan. He's been looking for work in Michigan, but we all know that Michigan was one state that was hit particularly hard by the bad economy. Hell, it's been bad for a long time. Lesson learned: Don't base your state economy on one sector of the economy. Anyway, Nate's brother has been looking to move out West for awhile. Nate, being the good brother he is, suggested that his brother move in with us until he could get back on his feet.

That means that next week we'll have a boarder. It could be a win/win situation. While Matt, the brother, is looking for a job, he can watch Benny while I work to finish the dissertation. Plus, it will be nice to get a small amount of rent to help offset the mortgage payment. Plus we have the room now, so why not?

I know that Nate feels really good about the situation. He feels very responsible for Matt. I feel pretty good about the situation too, but I have a few reservations about the experiment. Ultimately I think it will be good. But throwing another body into the situation could introduce some interesting stories. As always, I'll keep you posted...

11 November 2008

Moving Day, Week, Month...

We are (almost) successfully moved out of our apartment and into the house. Having a basement totally rocks because we threw all of the boxes down there so the upstairs doesn’t look too bad. Granted, I’m still getting dressed in the closet and waiting for the windows in the bathroom to steam over before I get into the shower, but the settling phase has begun. (You see, we bought blinds, but we’re having issues putting them up. Thus, I’m hiding my naked body from our new neighbors.)

Here’s what happens when you buy a house, work full time (Nate), try to write a dissertation (me), AND have a 15-month-old little fella: the hours of the day melt into nothing. It’s taken me two full days to unpack the kitchen – and I’m not even finished yet (thanks to Maureen who helped this process along by coming over and lending a hand). Benny isn’t too keen on me focusing most of my attention on unpacking boxes. He’s OK for awhile and then I find him waste deep in a dusty cabinet I have yet to clean out. Oy vey!

Our goal is to feel “settled” by the beginning of the year. We’d like to paint the rest of the house, hang stuff on the walls, put the stuff in the basement away, install a new back door. That’s in addition to me finishing a draft of two chapters by the end of this month (that’s not going so well), Nate starting some consulting work he’s doing on the side, celebrating the holidays, and giving Benny plenty of attention. I’m starting to feel slightly overwhelmed.

The moving month (year?) has officially begun! Happy freaking holidays :)!

08 November 2008

Life, in Transition

Moving day has come. And gone. Sort of. Nate's dad and a family friend were in town yesterday to help us move. We've cleared our apartment out of big stuff; now just odds and ends remain (and I'm supposed to be packing, but I'm engaging in a little typing therapy instead).

We slept at our new house yesterday. I have many mixed emotions about owning a home. Obviously I'm really excited. But I'm also a feeling a little unorganized and daunted by all of the projects on our to-do list over the next decade or so. We spent a good chunk of change at Home Depot today to outfit our place with blinds, shower curtains, etc. As a lifelong renter, I have always taken stuff like that for granted. Now we actually have to pay for it.

So now we move and unpack and settle into a new life. A good life. A life that will, no doubt, be filled with many ups and and downs and DIY projects!!!

06 November 2008

Mommy Bear Has Calmed Down

Thanks, everyone, for your concern about Benny - and your thoughts about motherhood and worrying and anxiety. Watching Benny over the past week or so, I'm convinced that he's fine. I'm not sure what was up for a week or so when he was acting a little off, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with the three molars he was breaking. Plus, I spoke with the lady who would have evaluated Benny and she agreed that he was too young to make any conclusions.

Benny and I are spending the week with my parents because my aunt and uncle are visiting from California. My aunt was a speech therapist before she retired last year. She said that Benny is making some really complicated noises for his age. Apparently a lot of kids focus on "easy" sounds that come from the front of the mouth (mama, dada, baba). Benny is already saying "goo goo goo" for good and he pluralizes words like "lights." So, it sounds like his speech is coming along fine. Plus he's been jabbering a lot and my aunt thinks he'll talk A LOT once he starts talking (he comes by that naturally, thanks Grandma Barb).

So, I'm sleeping and eating regularly again. And I've resumed watching Benny in wonder and not in worry. Man, this motherhood thing is pretty freaking tough!

04 November 2008


I'm above the moon! I can't believe that I'm alive for this. That my son will grow up seeing an amazing man as president. I'm watching McCain giving his concession speech right now. Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Here's to America. Here's to hope. Here's to Obama!