Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ummm, wow

Two very momentous things occurred yesterday. 

1. We became homeowners

and more importantly, 

2. Ella turned one! Watch out, world, Ella is officially a toddler. 

This photo is a little blurry, but I love the way she's holding up her hands like that before digging in. Too bad you can't see the crazy grin on her face. 

The many stages of eating a birthday cupcake

We are still attempting to recover from the craziness that has been the past 36 hours. Friday we closed on our house at 9am, had the movers come at 10am, and in the midst of that, threw a mini-birthday party. Most of our family members were able to video call in via Google Hangout so they could join us in singing "Happy Birthday" and watch Ella destroy eat her birthday cupcake. 

Even though Ella won't remember, it definitely was a 1st birthday that we will never forget. 

We love you, Eleanor Mary, and we can't wait to see what the next year will bring! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why my child should never, ever have sugar

This morning Ella and I stopped by a bakery so I could order her birthday cake for Friday (!). The shop owner was very nice, and offered us a complementary cupcake to sample while I discussed the details of the cake.

At the time, it seemed like a fantastic idea to let her have some of the cupcake, a lovely reward for having to come along with me to set up utilities and do other boring grown-up stuff. I broke off a bite of cupcake for her. Her face lit up. I let her have a few more bites. The sweet little smile turned into a maniacal grin as the sugar hit her system.

To make a not-so-interesting portion of this story short, we left the shop covered in cupcake. I honestly don't know how. I consumed at least half of it and Ella ate a ton, so I'm not sure how an entire cake's worth of frosting and smashed up cupcake got into my clothes, her clothes, her hair, even into my car keys.

We went back to the hotel, where she proceeded to run around with some sort of super-human energy. The dogs huddled under the coffee table in fear. At one point she literally tried to climb up the wall.

Then she discovered the dirty laundry basket, and pulled out a t-shirt and bra. She proceeded to run around some more, holding aloft her new-found treasures like a toddler war-trophy, all while shrieking at the top of her lungs.

Needless to say, I am rethinking my original plan of doing birthday cake after dinner.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snakes, and spiders, and mountain lions, oh my!

Sometimes I sit and wonder what the heck we were thinking in moving to Oklahoma. 

I kid you not, this is a conversation I had the other day at the playground:

Other Mom: "Did anyone tell you about the wildlife down here?"

Me: "Umm, like the cows? And coyotes?"

Other Mom: "No, about things like snakes," (okay, I can deal with snakes), "tarantulas," (yep, been there, done that), "and mountain lions." 

She and another mom at the playground then proceed to discuss, calmly, the mountain lions around here, in the same way that you might talk about your neighbor's obnoxious dog. 

Seriously, when discussing something that just might eat you, there should be some note of hysteria. Like, "OMG, did you hear there are mother-effing MOUNTAIN LIONS around here?!?!?!?!?!" 

I mean, look at this thing! It's saying, "Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, because I'm a BAMF who won't hesitate to eat you."

Photo from
(yes, I did some extremely scholarly research on the subject once I got home from the playground)

Oh, and guess where one likes to hang out? 

Yep- our new neighborhood. 

I am never going outside again. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Necessity is the mother of invention

As you might imagine, there are a limited amount of fun activities for a baby in a hotel room- that is, if you discount unrolling the toilet paper, splashing in the dog water bowls, attempting to throw things into the toilet, and taking all the clothes out of the drawers. 

Luckily, Ella has managed to think up some new activities on her own, involved her two best buddies, Dougal and Crilly. They include: 

-Playing dress-up with Dougal (note Crilly wisely hiding underneath the table in the upper left)

-Pretending to be the "dog wrangler," which apparently involves taking off her clothes and chasing the dogs around

-Playing fetch with the dogs

Friday, December 7, 2012

De-friending Facebook

Recently I decided to take a break from Facebook. Not that I don't love the ease with which I can keep in touch with my friends. But over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that the more time I spend on Facebook, the unhappier I am with my life.  Every time I log on, I wind up in a serious funk, wondering why I don't have what other people have.

I know logically that I am only seeing the cleaned-up aspects of my friends' lives. People generally don't post updates about their messy kitchens, socks left on the floor, the never-ending battle against the tumbleweeds composed of dog hair, temper tantrums, or marital disharmony. Facebook asks me to tell everyone "what's on my mind." Well, if I shared what's really on my mind, it wouldn't be socially acceptable.

There are so many good things in my life, and I find that by constantly comparing myself to others, I am making myself miserable. Perhaps if I were in a happier mental state to begin with I would find pleasure again in goofing off on Facebook. Right now, with the stress of living in a hotel room, worries about home buying, having to adjust to a new place, and, of course, trying to be a good wife and mom, I don't have any extra energy to spend on anything negative in my life. Even if that something is unintentionally negative. Maybe once things settle down a bit I will log back on. For now, though, I am de-friending Facebook.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The big move

I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and write about the big move from Illinois down to Oklahoma.

I don't have too much to say about the drive itself, other than it wasn't too bad. I mean, what can you say about an 11-hour car ride? We drove, it was boring, we saw lots of cows and horses, the end. 

Some pictures from the road trip: 

Clockwise from top left: the St. Louis arch; the view out the car window in Oklahoma; an oil well; how Crilly decided to hang out in the car; one of many horses that we saw; Ella and Dougal sleeping. 
Thursday night, after we had gotten Ella off to bed, I sat down and cried. I had planned and planned for every last detail of this trip. But the one thing I hadn't planned on was how emotional this move was going to be. Jim asked me what was wrong. I explained to him that I simply wanted to go home.

We've been here a week now, and Oklahoma still feels like some sort of odd vacation. I am starting to learn the ropes, though. Jim started his new job on Monday, and Ella and I are figuring out grocery stores, the library, and mommy groups. With a little luck, we will be in our own place soon, and we can start to make this place our home. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30

As silly as this sounds, I'm thankful that I have so many things to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

We made it down to Oklahoma, and I'm thankful for the mostly-smooth trip down here.

I have lots more to say about the trip, but I'm too tired so that will have to wait until a later time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28

I'm thankful that with this move, I don't have to lift a single box. Having movers has made me super spoiled and I will never go back to U-Hauling it again!

On a slightly-related note: My internet connection will most likely be spotty for the next couple of days, so sorry in advance if things are a bit slow around here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

For all the friends and wonderful memories we've made in Illinois.

The night before the big move

Tonight is our last night in the Chicago-area, and depending on how far we manage to drive tomorrow, possibly our last night in Illinois. It still hasn't hit me 100% that we are really moving. Sure, there are boxes everywhere, suitcases are packed, and Jim is working on loading up the cars. I don't think until everything is emptied out of the house and we get on the highway that I will truly feel like we are moving.

This has been our home since 2005. We moved up here individually, and are leaving as a family. In the seven years we've lived here, we have met so many amazing people and had some pretty spectacular times.

When I moved up here at the age of 18, I never imagined that I would stay longer than it took me to finish up my undergrad degree. I had vague dreams of what I would be doing with my life- none of which figured in moving to Oklahoma.

There is such a rush of emotions involved in packing and moving- sadness, excitement, nostalgia, anxiety (okay, a lot of anxiety). This is where I met Jim. The home of his crappy apartment where he made me Indian food and proposed to me. Where our first apartment together was, so small that we could barely move around all the furniture. And more importantly, where Ella was born and spent most of her first year.

But now it's time to stop reminiscing, finish packing up those last few boxes, and close the door on this chapter of our lives. Tomorrow it's Oklahoma or bust!

Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

I'm thankful for the yummy, yummy Indian food we had for dinner tonight. I will definitely miss all the awesome ethnic food we're able to get here.

Now back to my food coma.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

In the past week or so we've started the letting Ella have some whole milk in a sippy. Originally I was planning on waiting until after she was a year old, but for a variety of reasons and under the advice of our pediatrician we decided to introduce it a bit early. 

To be quite honest, I'm a little sad that she's taken to it so readily. I fully expected to have to warm it up, mix it with breast milk, try a different type of cup, etc., to get her to drink it. She took that cup, though, and drank it down like she had been doing it her whole life. 

Transitioning her to whole milk has made me realize how glad I am that I've been able to breastfeed her, and that it looks like I will be able to make it to my initial goal of one year. Before she was born I was of the mindset that I would give it a shot and see how it went, and if for whatever reason it didn't work out, then we'd use bottles. Now, almost a year later, I can't imagine not breastfeeding her and missing out on that special time with her. Hopefully I can make it one more year!  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Today, I am thankful for my fellow December mommies. They make me laugh and cry, and help me to realize that we are all on the front lines of mommyhood together.

It's hard to explain to people the bond we all share. Yet they have been there for me throughout all the highs and lows of my life, ever since the days when we first saw those two pink lines. Yesterday, when I was having a crummy time of things, I had friends text, email, and call me to pick up my spirits and offer words of encouragement. You ladies know who you are, and all hold a very special place in my heart.

How life changes after a baby: the things no one tells you

Before Ella was born, it seemed like everyone told me about the million and one ways in which my life was about to change. A lot of that centered on how much I will love my baby and how little sleep I will get. 

All that is fine and dandy, and most of that kind of stuff is true. However, there is an equally long list of stuff that no one ever tells you. It's like a series of secrets that you as a parent have to find out for yourself, and then when you tell another parent about this discovery, they say, "Oh yeah. I know." 

Here are just a few things that no one ever tells you about how your life changes after having a baby: 

-You will make up silly songs. A lot of them will center on your child's bodily functions. If you are so lucky, one might even mention how we "don't pee on the floor." 

-Even after having the baby, your body is not your own. In the eyes of your baby, your whole body is her own personal playground and trampoline. Your teeth and nostrils are an endless source of fascination, as is your belly button. Especially in church. 

-When your baby learns how to pull herself up, wear pants that have some sort of buckle or tie holding them up. Yoga pants + a baby pulling herself up to standing using said yoga pants= a pantless mommy. 

-Using the bathroom with the door closed is a thing of the past. 

-Talking on the phone uninterrupted is also a thing of the past. Children of all ages have some sort of sixth sense about this. 

-Silence with a newborn is bliss. Silence with a mobile baby is a sign of trouble. 

-Don't bother buying toys. So far the big hits in our household are: empty boxes, tupperware, paper, pots and pans, the dogs, and, of course, whatever I have and whatever I don't want her to get into. 

-Baby-proofing is more trial by fire. Yes, there are the big obvious things like outlets and baby gates. Most of what we've had to baby-proof are things that we never thought she would get into.  

-Be prepared to accept little bits of everything in your hand: half-eaten Cheerios, dog hairs, little scraps of who-knows-what off the floor, vomit. 

I'm sure there are more things that I can't remember now (that mommy brain thing is definitely real). Feel free to add your own fun parenting discoveries in the comments. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pity party, table of one

Today sucks.

The movers arrived this morning, bright and early, to box up all our stuff. Sounds great, right?

Except when you have a child who screams, "NOOOO" dramatically when things get moved. Or when your dogs do not stop barking all day long, thus ensuring that your child does not nap properly and you get a massive headache. Or when the movers leave in the evening, and you realize that not only are you going to be living in box city for the next five days, but that your much-needed booze is packed up.

I'm also more than slightly freaking out over the fact that as of Wednesday night, we don't have a place to live. There are a grand total of four houses to rent in our new town, three of which can be nixed based on size, price, or location, and who knows if the fourth is actually something we want to rent AND will let us have a short-term lease. Jim has been working frantically on trying to get us a place, but of course since it's a holiday weekend, nothing much is happening.

If it was just the two of us, I don't think I would be bothered so much. However, all I can think right now is, "I'm a terrible mom. My child is going to be homeless. I'm ripping her apart from the life she has known, and she won't have a birthday cake because there is no kitchen to make it in, and her holiday season is going to be crap because 1.) I don't live in a Pottery Barn catalogue, 2.) all of our stuff is going to be in storage, and 3.) did I mention we will be homeless?! " (Yes, I know. It's overly dramatic. We won't really be homeless, things will work out in the end, blah blah blah, unless those words of wisdom come with an extra large glass of wine and an entire cake, keep them to yourself.)

To top off this shit-tastic day, my mom calls me and tells me that my dad tripped and broke a rib.

I'm going to go load up on Thanksgiving leftovers and call it a night.  

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

One of the hardest things is to be thankful when things don't go as planned. This time last week, it seemed like everything was falling into place. Then we got the inspection report back on the house we wanted to buy.

Foundation repairs needed. Mold. Presence of past water damage. Radon levels questionably high. The list went on and on.

We made the decision that as much as we want to buy a house and be settled, this house is not the one for us. So now we are back at step one of the home buying process. Ella's first birthday will be spent in some sort of temporary housing situation. There won't be any decorations or Christmas tree for the holidays. I'm more than a little bummed out.

In the midst of my disappointment, I'm trying to remember to be thankful. The home inspection ensured that we were aware of the multitude of problems, and won't be buying something that will be a constant source of stress and money down the line.

::Sigh:: Perhaps we'll be in a house in time for my birthday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! We are heading out in a bit to have dinner with Jim's sister and brother-in-law and some good family friends. If I'm not in too much of a carb-induced haze later on, I'll try to post some pictures of our dinner. Hope everyone has a nice, relaxing, food-filled weekend!

Edit to add some photos from our festivities:

Clockwise from top left: Waiting patiently for food; enjoying cranberries (pretty much the only thing she wanted to eat); the face she made after every bite of cranberries; a view of the spread.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

I'm thankful for these past 11 months with my (not-so) little girl. How is it that this time next month she will be a year old?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Every now and again, I experience a perfect moment. Tonight I had one of those. 

Normally at Ella's bedtime, I'm in such a rush to get her through her bedtime routine so I can have some quiet time myself. Bath, diaper, pajamas, teeth brushed, book read, nurse, bed- we have it down to an exact science by now. 

Perhaps it's because of her looming first birthday, or perhaps because of all the changes in our lives right now, but tonight I slowed things down, and we did things on her time. We splashed around in the tub until her fingers were pruned and she was done playing. We cuddled up together and read her book, and I continued reading while she was nursing. 

She ended up falling asleep in the middle of the book, and I read to her for a while longer. I thought about putting her down in her crib. Instead, I held her up against me and tried to memorize everything about that moment to hold in store for a time when she's too old to want to snuggle up with her mommy. The softness of her hair, and how it dries in every direction. How her face squishes up against my arm. The way her mouth hangs half-open, and the little snores she occasionally gives. Her still-tiny hand, clutching at my shirt. How all the troubles and worries of the world seem to melt away when I am holding that soft, comforting little body up against mine. 

As your daddy says to you every night, "Good night, sleep tight, we'll see you in the morning light." 

Monday, November 19, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 19

I'm a huge wuss when it comes to watching anything remotely scary on the TV. I'm thankful that my husband doesn't mock me (too much) for turning into a five-year-old if a show has something scary.

Case in point: We were watching Dr. Who the other evening. The episode was "Blink." If you've seen it, you know that it's more suspenseful than terrifying. However, I still was scared, and spent a good portion of the episode with a blanket over my head, repeatedly asking Jim if it was safe to look at the TV. (You may wonder why I don't simply leave the room or turn on something different. It's because it's way worse not knowing how it ends).

I'm sure he probably thinks that I am slightly ridiculous. But I'm ever-thankful that he puts up with my nonsense, and that he has only once tried to grab my leg to scare me more while I hide in my blanket fort.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Days 17 & 18

Day 17: For a fun day of hanging out with friends and family. We had a great lunch downtown with some friends at bd's Mongolian grill, complete with dessert at Red Mango. Later on my sister-in-law and brother-in-law came by for a bit to hang out with their favorite niece.

Day 18: For the fact that in the eyes of my daughter, my singing and dancing are incredibly awesome and can always bring a smile to her face.

Friday, November 16, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

We are closing in quickly on Jim's last day of work. He has some vacation time accrued so he's using some of those days to hang out with us girls. I'm thankful for the (hopefully) lazy three-day weekend ahead of us. Here's to three days of vegging on the sofa, hanging out with friends, and doing some fun stuff around Chicago.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Days 14 & 15

Being sick while having a sick baby is kicking my ass, so yet again I am behind in updating and am doing two posts in one. Last night I had every intention of writing a post, but apparently I fell asleep on the couch at 7PM.

Day 14: Yesterday I had to take Ella to the pediatrician since she's been sick for 10 days, with an intermittent fever, and the pediatrician was concerned she might have an ear infection. Nothing came back as being particularly worrisome, and the verdict is that she has either a virus/very bad cold, and whatever it is simply has to run its course. Unfortunately in a baby her age, that might be up to three weeks. Great. I'm really hoping that it doesn't take three weeks to leave my system too. I'm thankful, though, that it isn't anything serious, and that we have great healthcare.

Day 15: I am thankful that we have an awesome public library system. I love reading, more than almost anything (except red velvet cake...joking), and I'm glad that I can indulge my love of books without it costing me a fortune. Our library here also has so many fantastic programs for children, and I really enjoy taking Ella to story time each week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The dreaded T-word

Despite all the great things happening lately, I've been feeling a bit sad over the past few days. Why? Because of this conversation:

Friend: "Ella's getting to be such a big kid now."

Me: "No she's not."

Friend: "I'd say she's definitely a toddler now."

Me: "She's only 10 months old! She's a baby!" (Okay, I lie. She's really almost 11 months old. I'm in serious denial).

Friend: "Well, she does walk and talk, and she acts like a toddler."


Ever since then, I've started noticing all the ways in which my little itty baby isn't quite so little any more. There are some big ways, most notably the walking and talking. She eats regular table food. Her toys consist of "big kid" things like puzzles and blocks. Today she even made up some game that involved the teething rings and her hairbrush, and would give an exasperated sigh every time I clearly wasn't playing along correctly.

A small sampling of her "big kid" activities

And then there are the more subtle ways. These are the ones that are harder for my mommy heart to bear. She's not big into cuddling-sure, she'll give hugs, and there are days when she is clingy, but she no longer likes to sit in my lap just hanging out. I can't recall the last time she ended up falling asleep in my arms, or the last afternoon we spent together napping in bed. This afternoon I tried to nurse her to sleep for her nap, but once she was done, she rolled over and fussed until I put her in her crib.  

Used to be this was the only way she would take a nap

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that my child is healthy and is hitting all of her milestones. It's definitely bittersweet, though. Sometimes, as a mom, the days can drag by, then you look up at the calendar and realize that your baby's first birthday is coming up next month.

So is my child a toddler? The jury is still out on that one. According to the dictionary, a toddler is "one who walks with the short tottering steps in the manner of a young child." In my mind, though, she is not one...yet.

30 Days of Thanks: Days 10-13 (yes, I know I'm cheating)

We've been on the road again, this time back to Oklahoma for more house hunting. Since it's a bit hard to update my blog with no internet access (yes, I live in circa 2002 with no smart phone or latest Apple thingy), I'm cheating a bit and combining several days into one post.

Before we left, Ella was kind enough to share her illness with us. Nothing quite like getting on a flight looking like you are carrying the Black Plague. I'm sure everyone was thrilled to have us there.

To keep everything short, 14 houses and one entire package of DayQuil later, we figured out which house we wanted to make an offer on. Monday morning we made the offer, they countered while we were at lunch, and before we got on the plane to head back to Chicago we managed to come to an agreement with the sellers.

Even though I feel like I'm cheating by not having separate posts for the past few days, I think that a house is big enough to cover four days worth of thankfulness.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Eight

Trying to plan out the logistics of our move to Oklahoma has been a huge source of stress. We have been assigned a relocation consultant, who is responsible for helping us arrange everything. Sounds great in theory, but in reality it means that everything has to get filtered a gazillion different ways before it can actually get done. For example, we needed to get a moving company. Jim has to call up our person. She then has to send us the list of approved moving companies. Jim has to send it to me, I have to say, "I don't care, they all look good, pick one," and he then has to call the relocation consultant back. She has to call up the moving company for us, then call us back saying it's okay for us to talk to them. After all of that, we can finally talk to someone about getting a moving truck. For a person who wants to get stuff done, and be in charge of everything, this is a nightmare.

We were told this morning that it would be next to impossible to get movers on any of the days that work with our schedule, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. When I got off the phone this morning, we were looking at the possibility of me having to stay up here for an extra month with Ella after Jim started his new job, because no one was willing to work with us.

Enter Ed. He is my hero in this whole situation. He spent this afternoon calling around and found people willing to be up here the day after Thanksgiving to pack up our stuff, and someone to come move it the week after. Maybe I have awesome powers of persuasion. Maybe it was the screaming child in the background. Maybe he's sympathetic to the plight of over-stressed moms. Whatever his reasons, I am thankful that he was willing to go the extra mile to help me out today.

The "do it all" mentality, or how I am really failing at being a mom

A couple of nights ago in one of my mommy groups, we started talking about how hard it is to "do it all;" that is, to take care of the kids, keep the house clean, make dinner, run errands, be a good wife, stay in touch with friends, and look like a supermodel. Moms who are in a career are made to feel like they are failing their children by not staying at home. Moms who stay home are made to feel like they are lacking in motivation, brains, or somehow less of a woman because they "don't" work. It seems to me that almost every woman I talk to about this subject says she feels like she is failing at doing something.

"My house is a wreck."
"We had take-out for dinner."
"I took the baby to daycare today even though I had the day off."
"My clothes are so frumpy."
"I fell asleep last night before we could have sex."
"I never make it to the gym."
"My baby doesn't go to music class (or signing class, or story time, or playgroup)."

None of those things are inherently bad, so why do we as women and mothers have such anxiety not getting to every last thing on our endless to-do lists?

I will admit, I'm definitely guilty of having this mentality. It's something I'm trying to work on. There have been days when I have broken down crying, telling Jim that I feel like I am failing as a wife and mom because I can't do it all.

Case in point: Mornings have turned into Jim's thing. I nurse Ella, she goes back to sleep for a little bit, and when she's up for good, Jim takes over until he leaves for work. Every morning, without fail, I feel bad that he feeds her breakfast, plays with her, and keeps her relatively quiet so I can sleep for an extra 30 minutes. I feel like I should be super-mom, and be out there with them making breakfast with a cheery smile on my face instead of the zombie look I sport until about 10am. It doesn't matter that I know logically that I need those 30 minutes, that if Ella gets up in the middle of the night I am the one to take care of her while Jim sleeps, that there are many days when I don't have a chance to sit down until 8pm, or even the fact that he likes getting to spend that time with her. I feel like I am failing my family by taking care of myself.

This idea that we can do it all is perhaps one of the biggest myths of our generation. As children we were told that we could be anything, do anything, have anything, so now we have turned into entitled adults who want everything, no matter how unrealistic a goal that is. We've been told that we can do it all, so we feel that we should do it all.

I don't have any great solution for how to change this mentality. I think a good first step is recognizing it for the falsehood it is. We as women need the help of our husbands, moms, and friends, and we need to be able to ask for that help without feeling bad about it. We need to think and believe that someone is not less of a woman for buying pre-made baby food, hiring someone to help with the housekeeping, or choosing to pass up a promotion at work because it would mean less time to spend with the family. We need to spend less time comparing ourselves and cutting each other down, and more time raising each other up when we stumble.

After all, I don't think our moms and grandmothers fought for our ability to be able to do anything so that we have to do it all. Rather than burdening us, our choices should make us feel empowered. I think somewhere along the line we have lost sight about what is important- that if our kids are happy and healthy, if we have a roof over our heads, some money stashed away for a rainy day, and a husband who loves and respects us, we're doing okay. And that maybe being "average mom" will make us happier than being "super mom."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Seven

This week has not been kind to us here at Two Nerds. Daylight savings time, broken furnace, teething/possibly sick baby, late nights looking at house listings...I've definitely been stress-eating the leftover Halloween candy.

But then in the midst of everything, there are moments like this. The baby is in bed. Jim is still at work. Dogs are quietly napping. We're doing take-out for dinner (Just because. It's not someone's birthday or anything. This is a super rare occurrence). The house is relatively clean. Even if this moment only lasts for five minutes, it's five minutes where I don't have to do anything. And I'm beyond thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Six

Ah, election day. Also known as the day when my Facebook newsfeed is filled solely with political statuses.

I took Ella with me to vote today, and even though I know she won't remember, I want to set an example for her. I'm thankful that we have the right to vote, without fear for physical harm. And I'm thankful for the women who fought many years ago for my right to vote. I hope that Ella will grow up to recognize the importance of having an informed political opinion and will never be afraid to make her voice heard. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Five

As with any job, being a stay at home mom means you get some good days, and then you get some craptastic days. Today would be one of the latter. I woke up to muddy paw prints all over my clean kitchen floor (thanks dogs), and the day went downhill from there. By lunchtime I was already battling a massive headache, which was not helped by Ella's three-hour long impersonation of a banshee.

Enter Jim's armpits. Yes, you read that right. This afternoon, he had to go get the drug test that's required of all new employees. They needed a hair sample, and apparently to obtain the necessary amounts of hairs, they had to partially shave his armpits. Whoever did it did the world's worst job. You would think that the armpit-shaver would have simply done the entire thing. Instead, they left little random tufts of hair. Perhaps this makes me a bad wife, or an overly tired one, but I find this to be hilarious.

To whoever gave me this fantastic gift tonight, I thank you, for making my crummy day a little better, and for making me remember that while I may have to put up with a lot, at least my job does not involve shaving strangers' armpits.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Four

Nothing quite like having the furnace break (again) to make you appreciate having heat. As we were heading off to bed last night, I told Jim that the house seemed awfully cold. He checked the thermostat, and sure enough, it read out 68 degrees. After several valiant efforts to get the furnace to kick on, we decided that as it was already after midnight, we would put on some warm pajamas, pile on the blankets, turn on the space heater, and have Ella sleep with us for warmth. By the morning the thermometer read 53 degrees. Brr.

Our furnace repairman was able to make it out here by 9am, and restored heat within about fifteen minutes. So today, I'm thankful that we have our awesome furnace repairman and that we once again have heat. Although as great as he is, I really hope not to have to see him again.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Three

Six years ago, Jim took me out on our first date. I'm thankful he worked up the courage to (finally) ask me out on that first date.

Friday, November 2, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day Two

Today I'm thankful for caffeine. Coffee, lattes, espresso, tea- I don't think I could get through the day without them. I love that Jim will often have coffee brewing for me when I wake up, or set up the machine so all I have to do is press the "on" button to get things going. Afternoon tea during Ella's nap helps me get through those cranky hours between her dinner and bedtime. My love of all things caffeinated is so well-known that when there was a Living Social deal for Starbucks, I had a gazillion people email me making sure I knew and could purchase the deal. Uncaffeinated Elise looks like a zombie, and is just as likely to rip off your head. Caffeinated Elise is a much happier, sweeter person. Although interrupt me while I'm drinking that first cup at your own peril.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Day One

For the month of November, in addition to my regular posts, I'm going to be posting a series of things I am thankful for. We started doing this in one of my mommy groups and I thought it was a fantastic idea, particularly since I find I tend to get mired down in focusing on everything that is going wrong in my life instead of everything that is going right. Some will be serious, some will be silly, but all will be things that I am truly grateful to have in my life. 

Day One

I am thankful to have been blessed with such an amazing family. My husband, who loves me despite all the craziness he has to put up with on a daily basis. My daughter, who is healthy, happy, growing, learning, and who always can put a smile on my face. Our extended families- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins- who are there for us through thick and thin, despite the miles that separate us. And our two doggy companions, Dougal and Crilly, who provide entertainment, exercise, and lots of slobbery kisses.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our family to yours! We had a blast taking Ella out trick-or-treating, and our neighbors got a kick out of seeing her in her costume. 

After taking a gazillion family photos this afternoon (thank you to our awesome friend and amazing photographer, Bob), Ella was not particularly pleased to put on her pumpkin costume and have more photos taken. Here she is riding in style:

She did, however, really like all the Halloween decorations. 

Unfortunately she got scared of a few, and the combination of scary decorations and being up past her bedtime meant that we didn't get around to as many houses as I would like. 

Our little pumpkin is now sound asleep in bed, so Jim and I are going to put our feet up, watch Hocus Pocus, and eat some candy. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You win some, you lose some

It's going to be a two-for-Tuesday here at Two Nerds. Jim and I both finished up a couple of craft projects we've been working on (although I'm sure he would apply a much more masculine word to describe what he's been doing out in the garage for the past few weekends).

My project was to make a trick-or-treat bag for Ella. Originally I was planning on buying one for her. Then my thoughts about consumerism and mass-production, coupled with Pinterest and pictures on Facebook of cutesy little bags other moms had made, convinced me that I would be failing my daughter if I did not make her a Halloween bag.

I found this tutorial while browsing Pinterest. It looked cute. It looked easy. It looked like it could be accomplished during a baby's nap. All excellent points in my book.

Somewhere along the way, something went wrong. Here is a picture of my finished product.

I think the main problem is that the proportions are off somehow, and that it probably would look okay if it was a Frankenstein design instead of a pumpkin. Or maybe if the face was bigger, or if there was more of the green stuff along the top. Perhaps it's simply that it's closing in on a decade since I last used a sewing machine. Definitely took me significantly longer than 40-60 minutes to accomplish. (Note: This is in no way a reflection upon the original tutorial. The fault definitely lies with me.)

You know it's bad when your husband tells you things like, "Well, it's made with love" and "You tried hard." Now instead of mom-guilt about having my daughter carry around a mass-produced trick-or-treat bag most likely made by child-labor in a developing country (holy hyphens!), I now have mom-guilt that my child will hate me for making her carry around such an ugly trick-or-treat bag. 

Jim had significantly more success with his project. This crappy picture doesn't do it justice, but he built me an amazing butcher block for our kitchen. It's not 100% finished yet- he still wants to add on a towel bar and a wine rack, and possibly more shelving or drawers (that's one of the best parts about doing stuff yourself- you can always change things up). Even so, I think he did an amazing job, and I'm incredibly excited about it. 



Tonight we carved our jack-o-lantern, and let Ella paint the little pumpkin she's been dragging around for the past week. Messy, yes, but most definitely fun. 

At first she was a little apprehensive. Possibly because it seemed strange that we were not only making a mess, but encouraging her to do so as well, instead of saying, "Eww, yucky!" at everything. 

She very soon lost interest in watching Jim carve the jack-o-lantern, and decided that the gourds were way more fascinating than my attempts to get her to paint her pumpkin.

Demonstrating for the camera her amazing ability to stand up on her own, and rocking some wild hair.

The finish product. Yes, I know she ate some paint. It's non-toxic. I checked in a panic after she decided to try and eat it when I glanced away for a second.

Here's the jack-o-lantern Jim carved. It has the same number and placement of teeth that she does.

One very happy, very messy little baby.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flying with a baby: Then vs. Now

Over the weekend we flew down to OK to make up our minds whether we wanted to take the job (we are). Flying with our now-mobile baby made me think about how much different it is to travel with her at this age versus when she was younger.

We took Ella on her first flight when she was almost three months old. I remember being so stressed in the days leading up to the flight. What if she cried? How was I going to manage nursing her on the plane? What if she had a diaper blowout? Oh, and airport security! I sought out advice from everyone I knew about what I should do to make things easier. I panicked over whether her little ears would be bothered.

Turns out, flying with a small baby is easy to manage. It seemed like everyone offered to help us with one thing or another. The flight wasn't completely full so they let us bring the car seat on board and have an extra seat. We got on board, got settled, she nursed, and fell asleep before we even took off. She slept through most of our layover, nursed again, and slept the rest of the trip. I was even able to take a brief nap myself.

Flying with an almost-toddler is a whole other story. I swear she saw the plane and thought it was a giant jungle gym. Tray tables and arm rests are obviously there to climb on. Seat belts are for swinging back and forth. Seats are for jumping. Windows are for banging on. Mom and Dad are naturally good for all of the above. All those fun toys and books that I schlepped through the airport in my 100-lb diaper bag? Forget about them. There are airline magazines to shred, drinks to spill, and stuff to throw. Getting her to nap on the plane was laughable. I worked up a sweat trying to get my squirmy baby to settle down and nurse in the cramped airplane seat. The other passengers still seemed to be nice about everything, but I can tell we are rapidly shifting from, "Ooooh, a baby!!!" (with inner squee) to "Oh, a baby" (with inner groan).

I'm starting to think that the airline rule requiring children two and older to have their own seat is more for the parents' sanity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Some (potentially) big news

Once again, I've sucked at keeping up with this blog. This time for good reason. A few weeks ago Jim interviewed for a position down in Oklahoma, and a few days later he got the phone call saying he was offered the job. 

Like most people, my initial reaction to the thought of Oklahoma was, "eww" (no offense to anyone who is from Oklahoma). When he first started talking about this position after the ACS conference in August, I told him if they offered an interview to go ahead and take it, but there was no way I was moving there. 

Now that he's been offered the position, we've started re-evaluating potentially living in Oklahoma. The job itself would be fantastic- that part is a no-brainer. The town is significantly smaller than where we are currently living- perfectly fine with me. There is potential for me to actually get a job in my field. It's a low cost of living area. We could have the big garden we've always envisioned. I could raise chickens. 

I guess the one huge thing I'm getting hung up on is that we really want to move back to the East Coast, and taking this job would mean moving in the opposite direction. Leaving the Chicago-area would mean that we really would have no family anywhere near us. 

Then again, I am the woman who decided to move up to Chicago at 18 years old, having visited once, and knowing absolutely no one. I made it work then, and if we decide to move to Oklahoma, I can make it work there, too. 

Right now we are about 95% sure we are going to take this job. We fly down there this weekend to look at houses and make our final decision. Currently we are in a whirlwind of talking to realtors, navigating our way through obtaining a mortgage, and figuring out how to say goodbye to the people and places that we've made home for the past seven years. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Some of my fondest childhood memories were going to the pumpkin patch every year. Naturally, I was beyond excited to take Ella this past weekend.

A rare photo of the three of us on our way in

Pretty much as soon as we got there, we had torrential rain. We hung out inside the shop while we waited for the weather to clear.

Ella figured out clapping this past week, and now does it constantly. 

They had some gigantic pumpkins that we of course had to take pictures with. My sister-in-law and I contemplated actually getting some, and I'm not quite sure why I didn't go back and get one before we left.

I told Ella this is how my belly looked when I was 9 months pregnant

One of the advertised attractions was a pumpkin eating dinosaur. What's not to love?

They also had live pig races (how did I not know such a thing existed?!), and a corn maze. I remember corn mazes being a lot more fun, perhaps because I wasn't tall enough to see over it. 

They also had a hay-bale maze for the little kids. Auntie Beth and Uncle Mike took her in.

 And finally, the main attraction- the pumpkins!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

International Babywearing Week 2012

In honor of International Babywearing Week, I thought I'd do a post regarding my thoughts on babywearing.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of ins and outs of babywearing; rather, what our experience has been as parents who babywear. If you interested in learning more, Babywearing International has a fantastic website with a ton of info.

Don't mind the awkwardness of this photo. Here's Ella hanging out in the Ergo before we went out to rake leaves. 
Why do you wear your baby? Well, why not? Babies love being held, yet it isn't always practical to do so. There are days when Ella is fussy and crabby, and all she wants to do is be in my arms. As much as I wish I could, I can't stop everything I have to do to carry her around. On those days, she goes in the carrier. If she's up against my chest, it often soothes her enough that she will fall asleep. If she's on my back, she thinks it's fun to ride around. 

Babywearing also increases and enhances our time together. When I wear her, she's up at my level, and she can more easily hear what I am saying and see what I am doing. On the flip side, it also allows me to more easily read her cues. Is she hungry? Bored? Excited? I'm pretty good at figuring these things out now, but when she was a newborn, having her closer to me helped me learn more about her faster than I think I would have otherwise. 

Why not put her in the stroller? I do. A lot, in fact. Contrary to what some believe, most parents who choose to babywear don't have some grudge against The Stroller. There are times, though, when it's easier to wear her or I think she would enjoy being held more than hanging out in the stroller. 

Think about it this way. Say you were to go out to the zoo. Would you rather spend the day staring a other people's behinds, or to be up on adult level where you could actually see things? It's not a tough choice.

Other times, I choose not to take the stroller because the vast majority of strollers are heavy and bulky, and it's not worth it to drag the stroller out for a short trip (and I'm sometimes lazy. And I have arms like a T-Rex). Quick errand can go one of two ways. Option one: Lug the stroller out of the car, wrestle her into it, navigate the stroller through the store, go back outside, get her out of the stroller, wrestle her into the car seat, collapse the stroller, and have the super-human strength necessary to lift it back into my trunk. Option two: Toss her in the carrier, run into the store, wrestle her into the car seat, go home. *Side note: If anyone knows any tricks to convince my child that her car seat is not a torture device, please let me know.*  

There are also places that it's simply impossible to take her in a stroller. Like the Smoky Mountains. 

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in April 2012
What carriers do you use? We own two carriers. The first one is a Moby wrap. The Moby was fantastic when she was a newborn. It's one big long piece of fabric that looks super intimidating. In actuality, it's quite easy to learn how to do the various wraps. Jim got to be the master Moby wrapper. I swear he could put that thing on in record time. 

There are a couple of downsides to the Moby. First, it can get really hot. Since Ella was born in December, it didn't matter that much. I can see, however, if you lived in a warmer climate or had a baby in the summer that you might not want to use it. Second, it has a relatively short use-span. We used it a ton for the first three months, and once she got bigger and squirmier, I simply did not feel as comfortable using it as when she was a newborn. 

Ella passed out in the Moby after a several-day long nap strike. She's about 2 months old here. Oh how I miss my snuggly little baby! 
Our second carrier is an Ergo. I seriously could write a novel about my love affair with my Ergo. These days it comes pretty much everywhere with us, and it's extremely rare that she doesn't hang out in there for at least a bit of each day. I can have her in there for hours upon end without my back hurting. It has a little hood that I can pull up over her head to make it darker so she can nap in peace, protect her from rain, or so I can nurse discreetly. There's a nifty little zipper pocket that I can toss things into instead of having to drag our gigantic diaper bag in everywhere. You can do front, back, and side carries with it. It comes in neat colors that look neither too girly nor too masculine. I really can go on and on about everything I love about my Ergo. 

There is one thing, however, that I did not like about the Ergo- the infant insert. Others may like or love it, but it simply did not work out well for us. I never felt like she was particularly comfortable in it, and I never felt particularly comfortable wearing her with the added bulk. Because of it, we didn't start using our Ergo much until she was big enough to use it without the insert.  

I'm sure I could say a lot more about babywearing. If my scintillating observances about the world of babywearing haven't convinced you to give it a try, I'll leave you with this last thought. It's great exercise and what I swear helped me lose the baby weight so quickly. On days when I'm too tired/lazy to work out, I figure that I pretty much did weights all day long, which totally justifies eating the cookies I've been eyeing for the past half hour. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another Easy Fall Project: Halloween Sign

Jim had some wood scraps out in the garage. I had some paint. This is the end result: 

Because it's for Halloween, I don't think it matters that the wood isn't perfectly even, the writing is a bit off-kilter, or the ghosts look a little wonky. All part of the charm. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trying to stay organized

I often have no clue how other people keep their houses clean. It seems like no matter what I do, it ends up being a wreck. Of course, there could be an obvious explanation....

I don't think it got this way on its own. And this is on a good day.
Anyone with a halfway-decent looking house is (a) lying, (b) has a maid, or (c) does not have a child. Those are the only logical answers.

Usually what happens in my house is something like this: 

1. Vow that I will not let housekeeping get on top of me. 

2. Start off strong. Dust, pick up the kitchen, sweep the floors. Bring out the vacuum. The baby starts screaming because the vacuum is the absolute most terrifying thing in the world. Put the vacuum away and try to explain, once again, that even though the vacuum makes a loud noise, it will not eat her. Resign myself to not vacuuming until Jim can take her out somewhere. 

3. Work on cleaning up the kitchen. It actually looks somewhat decent. Feed the baby. Well, it did look somewhat decent. Husband offers to cook dinner. Yay! Sit down with a glass of wine. Eat delicious dinner husband prepared. Walk into kitchen. Have this go through my mind:

*Sigh* Tell myself I will deal with it later.

4. Think about cleaning the bathroom. Walk into bathroom. Remember how much I dislike cleaning the bathroom. Walk out of bathroom. 

5. We have company coming over. Panic. How the heck did my house get to look so bad? Spend half the day furiously cleaning. Have company over, tidy up, go off to bed, and vow that I will not let the housekeeping get on top of me. 

So in an attempt to keep up with everything, I am implementing a housekeeping schedule. Here is what I have planned out: 

Daily Upkeep
Make beds
10 minute tidy- 3x/day
Wipe down counters
Sweep kitchen floor
Laundry as needed
Bathrooms- Wash the floor and shower, clean toilets, check shower liner, wipe down mirrors and counters
Bedrooms- change bedding, wash sheets, organize clothing. Vacuum the floor and clean windows and mirrors
Kitchen- Organize pantry, clean out refrigerator, wipe down appliances
Grocery shopping/errands- Plan meals for the week, get food/cleaning supplies as needed
Floors/Dusting- Dust, including all knick-knacks, blinds, surfaces. Vacuum, including baseboards
Outside work- mow the lawn, rake leaves, tend to garden
Any miscellaneous projects for the week
Garbage night- Empty garbage bins, take trash and recycling to the curb

Hopefully by breaking everything down into chunks that can be accomplished during the little mayhem machine's naps, I can get keep on top of things. I'll see if this actually work and what modifications are needed. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Wreath

Our current place has a rather bland look on the outside, and I've been wracking my brain for weeks as to something that could help spruce up the place. Today I came up with the perfect idea- I'd get a fall wreath for the door. So Ella and I went out in search of one, looked at a few, and promptly went back to the drawing board. Why? Because I'm cheap poor frugal- whatever you want to call it, it means that I was not going to pay $100 for a wreath.

Figuring that the internet would not fail me, I picked up some random stuff to make my own wreath. Basically, I wandered around Hobby Lobby tossing autumnal-looking things in the cart, and grabbed one of those dead grapevine things to put it all together.

After Ella went off to bed, I grabbed a pumpkin ale and my hot glue gun, turned on Dr. Who, and went to work. Having grand delusions that I would write up the whole process like a crafty blogger, I dutifully snapped the picture below of all my purchases laid out on the craft surface (aka a summer tablecloth laid out on the living room floor).

The wreath base and all the decorative "stuff"
Yeah, that's where the picture taking ended. Partially because no one really needs to see the intermediate steps, and partially because in the midst burning my fingers off with the hot glue gun I wasn't exactly thinking about taking photos.

If I had to write up the process, it would go something like this: 

  1. Look at pictures of wreaths on pinterest. Decide that you are going to be super ambitious. 
  2. Lay out your materials- dead grapevine thing, random stuff to stick on the wreath, hot glue gun. Figure out what you are going to use in place of floral cutters because you forgot to buy some at the store (scissors + pliers work just fine). 
  3. Cut off pieces of the decorative stuff. Arrange on wreath. 
  4. Once the final layout is achieved, glue said pieces onto wreath. Note: the hot glue gun, is, in fact, extremely hot, as is the glue that comes out of it. 
That's pretty much how to make your very own fall wreath for significantly less than $100. Here is a picture of the end result: 

Not too shabby if I do say so myself

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I couldn't say anything about this earlier, and it's been killing me having to keep a secret for so long. A couple of weeks ago my future BIL called me and asked if Ella and I would like to come down to Florida to surprise my sister for her birthday this past Saturday. A free visit to Florida? Sign me up, please!

Ella was- how should I phrase this? a holy terror on the flight down. She didn't do anything bad per se- she was simply energetic and wanted to make good friends with the people around us. Naturally, the best way to endear everyone to us was to try climbing up the tray table, banging on the window, and doing her impression of a Tarzan yell. Of course, as soon as we landed in Atlanta she fell sound asleep, only to wake up as soon as we were boarding the next flight.

Fascinated by the seat belt. This very quickly turned into her waving it about. 
Passed out during our layover. I wish I got to sleep like that! 

However, my sister was so thrilled to see us that it made the miserable flight bearable. She walked in, said "Hi" very calmly, then it dawned on her that I wasn't really supposed to be there. Once that realization hit she ran out of the room screaming.

Although it was a quick visit, we managed to pack a lot of things in. We ordered her wedding dress, and I think I have made my final decision on my maid of honor dress (that is, as long as she doesn't take me out shopping again and I find something else I like better). On Saturday my parents and I drove out to Tallahassee for the FSU-Clemson game. I had thought that we would end up having to leave early, but Ella fell asleep almost immediately so I figured as long as she was content, I would stay. She ended up sleeping through almost the entire game. How she managed to do that with over 80,000 people cheering is beyond me. 

At the FSU-Clemson game. Ella rocked her noise-protection headphones.
The rest of the trip went by in a blur, and before I knew it, we were heading back to the airport. Ella did so much better on the return trip, which was amazing considering that she had not one, but two teeth pop through. Now we are back to the regularly scheduled program, and I have to figure out how in the world to top this birthday present next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I've been a bad blogger

I can't believe it's been almost two months since I've had a chance to sit down and type something up. So quickly, before the mayhem machine shrieks or finds some new mischief, here is a quick list of what has gone on in our lives since the beginning of August.

  • We took an insane, three-week long road trip, traveling through 18 states (twice in Indiana, Georgia, and New York), and logging almost 4000 miles on my car. Ella and I spent a week in Florida and two weeks on Cape Cod. Jim flew down to Florida to meet us, spent a week on the Cape, then had to go to a conference in Philly. 
  • Ella has learned to crawl; cruises around like crazy; walks holding onto our hands; stands up on her own for short periods of time; says hi, mama, dada, dog, and up; waves hi/bye; eats "grown-up" foods; tries to climb on everything; and is full of trouble. I spend my days chasing after her, learning about new things in our house that have to be baby-proofed, finding Cheerios everywhere, and cleaning up bits of paper that she loves to tear up. We go to bed exhausted, but this is my favorite stage so far. She has such a fun little personality. 
  • Jim got a chance to get back to brewing. He and one of our friends made a pumpkin beer for the fall. Once it's ready, we're going to have a fall party. 
Gah, I'm trying to think of more things that we've done. In fact, I'm sure that we have done something more. We must have done something more, right? I'm blaming the baby for this lapse of memory. To distract you from my poor blogging skills, here are some photos.  

Sound asleep in the car

Right after she learned to crawl. She was very proud of herself. 

At Justin and Lucie's wedding reception in Florida

Loving her float on Cape Cod

Not loving her life vest

Finally somewhat happy on the boat

Jim and I managed to get out for a date night at the Popponesset Inn

At the Cape Cod Children's Museum. Ella showing her disapproval of sharing with the other kids. 

Showing off how she eats like a big girl

Playing foosball with Nana and Grampa Jim

With her Nana and Grampa at the beach

She loved, loved, loved spending time with Nana

Swimming with Nana

Wearing Nana's hat

Showing off how we "nap" at the beach

Posing for a picture

Swimming with Daddy

Hanging out

Her super-secret, babies only clubhouse

Labor Day weekend at the Splash Park

Fascinated by the water

Extremely suspicious of spaghetti

Pulling clothes out of my dresser

And her face when she realizes she's been caught in action

Crawling around

Cruising around the house