Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ask and You Shall Receive...

Here are photos of the new room. Unfortunately, it turns out the light in that room isn't too good for pictures and so only one photo shows the true colors...

This shot is taken from the door. The color is most accurate in this one. It's called "Butterfly Flutter By." Obviously we still have quite a bit of decorating to do... but it's a start.

In this picture and the last, the walls actually look blue. So perhaps Chris got his wish after all! This is taken from the closet door, which you see in the picture below. Notice in the dresser mirror, you can actually see the nightstand from the picture above. And notice that you CAN'T see the photographer. I was very conscious of that, since I am wearing basically pajamas, and honestly, no one on the internet needs to see that...

And finally, this one was taken from the coatrack shown in the picture above. The door into the room is just a bit further right from this. We will eventually add the bookcase from the nursery, and it will probably go against this wall, but we have to buy a replacement for the nursery first. She has many books and stuffed toys and the like, and then we want to have separate space for him to have many books and stuffed toys as well.

Overall, Chris did a bang-up job getting the room painted. There are a few drips and some uneven patches... but again, we never claimed skill in this area. And it gives the room character, yes? Athena hung out in there for a while earlier, and she thinks it's pretty cool, but she doesn't seem ready to call it home yet. We'll work on it. I'm moving all her clothes in there, and when the bookcase goes in, I think she'll be really intrigued. I considered getting some stencils and painting her name on the wall over her bed, but I suspect by age 12 she won't like that much anymore... Maybe I'll do it anyway. We should probably paint again in 10 years anyway...

Pushing it to the Limit

Well, Athena is currently napping. She has probably had the busiest weekend she's had since we went on our cruise back in November. And she's weathering it okay, but not great.

Friday night, after a full day at daycare complete with a Chinese New Year Celebration (a parade of kids shaking rattles and some waving dragons), we tried a newish restaurant in Apex called Cheeburger Cheeburger. It's set up to resemble a 50s diner, and I suppose there are allusions to John Belushi's famous character on Saturday Night Live. However, I never saw the whole sketch (not a big SNL fan) and so I wouldn't know.

She did well at the restaurant, eating many fries and some of her grilled cheese. Oddly, she didn't really want any of my milkshake (which was the best part of the meal). We may go back there, but the prices were a little high for burgers that were only so-so. Abbey Road still has our burger dollar. It's a shame though, because this place is so close. I will say that when we crave a good shake, this place is the bomb.

Anyway, after dinner, we were off to Home Depot to select paint for Athena's new room. I was VERY glad that I had called Cathy (who is a graphic designer and talented arteeste!) before we left, because it turns out that the carpet samples I meticulously saved after we recarpeted the room almost two years ago (that is to say, the carpet scraps I threw into the garage) have completely disappeared. I'm fairly sure that in a fit of frustration one day when Chris was trying to locate something in our garage, he tossed them into the garbage. After all, why would we save something like carpet scraps?! *sigh*

So I called Cathy because I am completely clueless when it comes to color. I'm not color blind, but I have real trouble knowing what colors go with what. I can see two colors together and make them look good in my head, whether they actually do or not. Cathy, however, has the color wheel memorized, so I was able to vaguely describe the carpet color (a grey green... perhaps one might call it moss) and she was able to give me several suggestions of colors to look for. Her top choice was a lavender, followed by a yellow or a peach/apricot. The latter colors are all warm, however, and she recommended against using those in a bedroom.

I also knew we wanted Disney paint. This is because we used it in the nursery and it worked out very well, It's a Behr paint, so it's more expensive, but not much more, and the colors are true and even. Let's face it... Chris and I aren't professionals, so we can use all the help we can get. If only the paint were good enough to actually apply itself to the wall...

Anyway, while we are pulling lavender, yelllow, and apricot color cards at Home Depot (plus a blue one, which was what Chris really wanted), Athena suddenly, and without warning threw up (but you already know this from previous posts). So we quickly cleaned up as best we could, threw a few other supplies in the trolley, and headed back home.

She had quite a bad night as you know, but the next morning did well. I taped the room for painting, and Chris painted it while she napped. (We chose a light lavender, by the way... Cathy was right... it was the best match). Then we whisked her off to a birthday party, followed immediately by dinner out with friends and a very crowded hockey game.

This morning, I dragged her to a friend's house who wanted to give me a bunch of little boy clothes for He Who Must Not Be Named. Her son is now about six months old, and she is cleaning up. She also has a four-year-old daughter. They have MILLIONS of toys, so I figured Athena would be happy as a clam and Daddy could get some work done on her room without interruption. But she wasn't happy at all. She fussed and whined and generally expressed her displeasure at being dragged out YET AGAIN this weekend.

So we're home now. She is napping happily, and Chris has finished the second coat of paint in the nursery. It's lovely, by the way, and I can't wait until tonight when we can get the furniture back in there and arranged and start moving some of Athena's stuff (mainly her clothes) in there. I'd like to empty out the dresser in her room and start reloading it with all the little boy stuff in anticipation of our impending arrival.

So my lesson is learned. One or two activities for Athena per weekend. Period. Will make for a much happier little girl. And probably a happier Mommy and Daddy as well.

New Pic

At Staci's request, I'm posting a new picture. Sophie and Brian sent this to us from when we visited last weekend. Athena found their drink coozies and thought they would make excellent bracelets! She's so pround.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Fresh Look at Chinese Water Torture

I suppose one of the most remarkable things about children is the way they bounce back from illness. 12 hours ago, Athena was a miserable little barfy blob of a kid, and this morning, she is active and laughing and... THIRSTY.

By 10pm, she had emptied her stomach and was trying to push even more out. But the nurses told us the best thing to stop the stomach contractions was to keep her stomach empty. No water. No crackers. Nothing. She was so tired that it didn't matter much to her, and sure enough, by midnight, she had stopped throwing up. The rule the nurses gave us was that two hours after her last convulsion, we could start giving her water... a TABLESPOON at a time.

Now, Athena is Chris' little girl. She loves to drink fluids. And she does so quickly, even under normal circumstances. So we couldn't just hand her a glass of water because she would chug it, and it very well might come back up... not accomplishing the hydration task at all.

So this morning, we gave her a thimble of water, and then had to wait 10 minutes to give her more. She was none too pleased. But then, 10 minutes later, we gave her a little more, which she chugged and started asking for more.

So here is the newest form of water torture. Give her a sip, then wait 10 minutes before giving her more. The question is, who is the most tortured... her, or us?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Any Moment Now...

...I shall be barfing. Athena has a stomach bug that has had her throwing up fruit chews and other nasty stuff since about 7:15. She really wants to be asleep, but her congestion is keeping her up and we can't give her medicine because she will throw it up. I also think the congestion is making her throw up. We've changed the sheets and the pillow, and she just finished a shower with daddy to try to clear her head the old fashioned way. She also threw up in the tub... when I was in it with her.

The nurse told us to wash our hands thoroughly. Unfortunately, I think we handled enough barf before then that it may have been too late. And let's not forget I bathed in it. I can't tell if I'm nauseated because I'm pregnant, sick from cleaning up barf, or just sick.

But I feel ooky, no doubt. Looks like our weekend of painting Athena's new room and going to birthday parties and hockey games may have just died.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tag, I'm It... or is it YOU?!

I've been tagged by tempura73. These quizes are like crack aren't they? Fun to read... and really... who doesn't like talking about him or herself? Especially people who blog. So read through to the bottom and see who I tag.

What was I doing 10 years back:-
Gah! I'm pregnant! I can't remember what I was doing yesterday. Let's see...
1996, January. I was in Library school... halfway through it actually. I was living in the hood in Greensboro and working for a publishing company. I was also rehearsing for a musical revue... just about two weeks from opening. Which one would that have been? Hmmmm... I think it was the movie music revue. Or was it the Big Band revue? Well, sequins, spandex, and tap shoes were involved...

What I was doing ONE year back:-
January, 2005. Um... not much different from today. Except I wasn't pregnant. And my child wasn't walking yet... just crawling. Those were the days...

5 snacks that I enjoy:--
Yoplait Yogurt Whips (totally overpriced, but totally good)
Tostitos with mild cheddar dip
Cheese and Tricuits (Colby Jack)
Chocolate (preferably dark, but I'm flexible)
Cake (when I can get it)

5 Songs I Know All The Lyrics Off My Head Right Now:--
Oh, God. This is embarrassing:
Pretty much any Disney song
On My Own from Les Mis
You'll Never Walk Alone from Carousel
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Frere Jacques (French and English)

5 Things I Would Do If I Was A Millionaire:--
Pay off all debt
Hire a housekeeper/maid (a frumpy one, before Chris gets his hopes up)
Quit my job
Buy a small winter home on Santorini
Set aside college money for Athena and He Who Must Not Be Named

5 Bad Habits: --
I have some that are so bad I won't mention them here, but here are the mentionable ones:
Interrupting people
Dropping my laundry on the floor
Letting my gas tank get dangerously low

5 Things I Love To Do:--
Spend time hanging out with Chris and Athena... either together or separately
Manicure and Pedicure
(Odd that reading doesn't make this list, eh?)

5 Things You Would Never Buy, Wear, or Get New Again:--
After March, Maternity clothes... although the pants are kind of comfy
Most books
Anything from Kohls Department Store (personal boycott... I'll tell you all about it one day)
A Mitsubishi (new or used)
A yellow dress

5 Favourite Toys:--
My laptop
My boardgames (all of them)
All my kitchen gadgets
Palm Pilot

Then select 5 people to pass this on to:
Okay... I HATE chains... but I am playing along because I like Tempura73 so much... (and it's hardly fair that she already tagged my hubby AND several of my friends...)
Girl from Texas
Alaskan Amy
Cathy the Blogger
RedJenOSU (if she even reads this)

Test Your Librarian Know-How

The best thing about my job is the Readers' Advisory portion of it. For those of you not up on your library jargon, this basically means "suggesting a book that someone will like based on their preferences (not yours)." The skills involved really come down to knowing how to ask the right questions and then having enough knowledge of "what's out there" to make some recommendations. There are plenty of databases and other tools out there to assist with this process. Even Amazon's "Readers who bought this also bought..." feature can come in handy.

This area of librarianship usually focuses on recreational reading... things we read not because we have to, but because we want to. It is usually fiction, but it certainly can be nonfiction. Most people read biographies and humor (think David Sedaris or Bill Bryson) for pleasure... they don't really mean to learn much or study a particular person. *end library lesson*

So yesterday, I had one of those great Readers' Advisory interviews with a patron, and I thought I would share it with you...

PATRON: Where do you keep your Tim Ford books?
EAF: Tim Ford? Is that the author? (searching the computer catalog)
PATRON: Well, it's either Tim Ford or Kim Ford. Can't remember which.
EAF: (not finding either in the catalog) Hmmm... And Tim or Kim wrote these books? Or was that a character in the books?
PATRON: *blinks* I think that was the author.
EAF: (searching on key words now instead of authors) Let's see... can you tell me anything about the books? Are they Fiction or Nonfiction?
PATRON: *blinks* My friend at the pool yesterday was telling me they are really good stories.
EAF: Ah... so are they true stories? Or made up stories?
PATRON: Oh, made up, I'm sure. Tim Ford. Or Kim.
EAF: I see. And do you know if they are love stories? Or maybe they are mysteries?
PATRON: They aren't mysteries!
EAF: Okay. Can you tell me anything else about them? Did your friend say why she liked them?
PATRON: She said they were very good. Very light and warm. So where are they? Your Tim Ford books?
EAF: Well, see... I can't see that we have books by either Tim Ford or Kim Ford, so I'm trying to think of what they might be. Sounds a bit like maybe Jan Karon's Father Tim series. Does that sound familiar? Are they set in North Carolina?
PATRON: Father Tim? Is his last name Ford?
EAF: Well, I'm not sure...
PATRON: Well, yes... the town is in the mountains of North Carolina.
EAF: Let's take a look at Father Tim then. (walking to the shelf with the patron). The first book in the series is checked out. But here is the second one. Do you think this is it?
PATRON: (reading the cover of the book) MITFORD! This is it!
EAF: Ah... Mitford is the town these books are set in! So let me put the first one in the series on hold for you!
PATRON: Thanks!

So had you figured it out?! As I look back over the conversation, I surprise myself that I picked out enough clues from this woman. When she said Tim or Kim Ford, I immediately thought of Jasper and Katie Fforde (no relation), who are both popular but write mysteries and romances respectively. But then just looking at her (she was probably in her 60s) and hearing "friend at the pool" (it's too cold to swim outside here now, so this means we were at some sort of water exercise class or indoor pool at a facility), I thought perhaps we were looking for something a little gentler... old fashioned. And Jan Karon just pops to mind.

Natural talent? Psychic? Don't know...

So, do you have the skills to be a librarian? :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Husband and His Women

This post was partly inspired by some of the events of this past weekend in Charlotte (spent with some of our best friends and detailed quite well by my spouse here) and partly by a recent post by one of my "blog buddies" here. (By "blog buddy," I simple mean someone who I don't actually know personally, but who I know through reading her blog.) And know, before reading any further, that I in no way doubt my husband's love for me or his fidelity. I think sometimes one can come across as a bit insecure in a blog, and I would hate for you to think that I am actually pondering what day of next week my husband plans to leave me. Honestly, if he's put up with me thus far, I really can't imagine he's going anywhere. This is just fun for us to kid each other about. We do, in case you haven't noticed, take great pleasure in ribbing each other ruthlessly.

Chris and I have a running gag, if you will, in which he has some sort of action arranged on the side and I just shrug it off. For instance... he may tell me something that I know he has never told me before (because I do actually pay attention to what he says) and I tell him so. He then counters with "I'm sure I told you," to which I reply "That must have been your OTHER wife," or "That must have been your girlfriend." We have glorious yucks over that, and it generally mixes in well with the rest of our witty banter. There is also the comments made when my normal night shift is altered in some way, and I tell him he has to make arrangements for his girlfriend not to show up that night. Usually, he replies with something along the lines of, "Thanks for letting me know. I'll call them." hahahaha... what a guy... ;-)

Also, from the moment we met, I noticed that he flirts with waitresses. It is the absolute weirdest thing to me... of all species of women out there, and all the people he comes in contact with on a daily basis, he turns on the charm for restaurant personnel. Now, this is nothing against dining establishments and their employees. In fact, often these women are quite attractive, and my husband isn't the only one who notices. However, it struck me as especially odd because most people see him as a bit aloof and cold when they first meet him. Indeed, he does come across at many first meetings as a bit distanced and reserved. Some of my closest friends (especially one in particular who I will not mention by name so as not to embarrass her, but whose name rhymes with Cathy) thought he was a complete asshole (their word... not mine) when they first met him. Now they love him. So why he just oozes flirt juice whenever we are in a restaurant when he didn't even feel the slightest need to charm my closest friends is beyond me. And I love to rib him about it. He just shrugs...

And now lately, he has the ultimate female-luring pheromone there is--The World's Cutest Almost-21-Month-Old Daughter. Folks, this is no exaggeration. Women, especially women of the 18-year-old, model thin, belly-button pierced, not-naturally-blonde type, are completely drawn to our daughter and her doting father. And it NEVER FAILS.

Now, I will be the first to admit that there is really nothing sexier than a father doting on his child... especially if the child happens to be a cute little girl with wild hair and a dazzling smile. However, what I have observed since the birth of my child would make an excellent human sexuality and behavior thesis.

Basically, wherever we go with our little tot, at least one attractive woman will wave to her and talk to her and smile at her and at my husband. And this occurs whether I am present or not. I am generally not acknowledged. However, Athena is the center of attention, and the follow up looks are all for him. I finally just out and asked him this weekend if he has been training Athena to choose these women... and he weakly denied it. I'm still not so sure.

This weekend, we were sitting with our friends in Charlotte at a family seafood place chatting and laughing and eating. I noticed Athena was almost completely turned around in her booster seat waving and smiling at someone. I look up, and what do you know... in a restaurant full of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes... she was waving at the two most attractive, most 18-year-old women in the place. Now, tell me he isn't coaching her! :-)

So now I wonder... is a woman sexier if she has a strapping young infant son in her arms? We shall have to see...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

State of the Pregnancy

Well, I'm now 31 weeks. (Full term, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of pregnancy, is 40 weeks). So I am in the final quarter of this blessed nine (10) months. The home stretch, if you will.

First, I should explain the nine (10) months comment. I borrowed this from Vicki Iovine, author of The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy and other great books for pregnant women and new moms. She explains the mystery of calendar months vs. lunar months. A pregnancy is 40 weeks. In lunar months, this is actually 10 months, but on the wall calendar, it sort of looks like nine. The point is, it FEELS like 10 when you are actually experiencing it.

So I am seven calendar months pregnant, but almost eight lunar months. I had a doctor's appointment today which I completely forgot about until they called me 3o minutes after I was supposed to be there. I'd like to write this off as "pregnancy brain," but I think it's really more fair to call it "Elizabeth's normal scatter-brain."

Most doctors' appointments when you are pregnant are very "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma'am." There are few pelvic exams during the nine (10) months... just a pap smear near the beginning and then near the end, they'll reach up in there to check for dilation and effacement (thinning of the cervix... just in case you are wondering). All the other appointments (once per month for the first 6 months, then twice a month until the last 6 weeks or so when you start going every week) are very predictable and boring, with a few little extra tests sprinkled in here and there for fun and for terrifying the poor mother-to-be. I'm done with all my tests, so now we just go through the routine... pee in a cup; get weighed; answer questions about pain, bloating, swelling, headaches, and fetal movement; get blood pressure checked; wait in an exam room on an uncomfortable table for five to ten minutes; get my belly measured; listen to the baby's heartbeat with a magic wand ultrasound thing; then ask the doctor any questions I might have. Ah, yes... the thrill of pregnancy.

My pregnancy is not very notable... which is how we like it. Once again, I have lost weight rather than gained it. I believe my total net weight gain since conception is now a whopping two pounds. This is the story of my life... when I am told by a medical professional to lose weight (as I almost always am), I cannot seem to do it. When I am encouraged to GAIN weight, however, I lose it without even trying. Talk about your anti-authority issues! It's completely innate in me, apparently.

My biggest concern at this point is the size of this little bundle of joy in my belly. I am already waddling... much worse than I EVER did with Athena. The doctor tells me my belly is measuring just slightly bigger than normal (it's about at one would expect at 32 weeks), but that's not really a major thing. And it isn't a good indicator of how big the baby actually is. But we do discuss it now, because Athena was so large (8 pounds 12 oz.). I am told that statistically, the second baby is normally 4 to 6 ounces heavier than the first. So worst case scenario (statistically) is 9 pounds 2 oz. And that's only statistically. Really, the sky is the limit. Um... holy crap, people!

So there is no test to determine how big the baby really is. We can do an ultrasound, but that's iffy because now that the bones are well-formed and calcified, it's harder to see anything. The doctor can palpate (fancy word for "poke") around the baby and guess at how big he is, which is about as scientific as closing one eye, holding your thumb up, and estimating the height of a tree. In fact, they did that with Athena just before she was born, and they guessed she was about 6 pounds, 8 ounces. So I just don't put much faith in palpating/poking.

My "doctor" is actually a whole practice. They have you meet with each doctor at least once during your nine (10) months so that you won't have a complete stranger deliver your baby. (You get whoever is on call). So two weeks ago, I saw a doctor who said that because of the possible size of "He Who Must Not Be Named," we should consider the possibility of inducing labor at 39 weeks. This week, the doctor said, well... there is no real scientific proof that it's better for mom or baby to induce. Now, I'm not really big on Pitocin, or any of the drugs used in labor and delivery. I did my first one naturally (although admittedly that wasn't by choice) and I want to do this one that way too. BUT... nine pounds is REALLY big. And Athena did plenty of damage down there when she came barreling out like an NFL Linebacker. So I'm not really keen on passing a huge baby either.

The decision for now is my favorite decision of all... not to decide. We'll just keep plugging along and growing a baby, and then when we get nearer to D-Day, we'll see where we are. Hopefully by then we will at LEAST have a friggin' name selected.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hey! Who Turned on the Cold?!

This past week, it's been about 70 degrees F. every day. That's SEVENTY... Seven-Zero, my friends. And just in case you are unsure, yes, it is mid-January. This is one of the many things I love about calling North Carolina home. Although it does get chilly here from time to time, the weather is generally somewhere between 60 and 105. And for me... warm weather GOOOOOOD! In fact, it's almost like living in Florida, except with more cold days, less rain, no DisneyWorld, and hardly any tourists (unless you live in the mountains... and by odd coincidence, most of those tourists are Floridians).

It took me a couple of days to catch on to this warm streak. On Wednesday, I felt absolutely rock stupid as I donned my jacket and scarf before heading out of the restaurant where I met up with my former boss. As we exited the building, I realized I must have looked like an idiot... all bundled up against the sunshine and mildness of the outdoors.

Last night (Friday), I worked an evening shift, which means I got off work at 9pm. Around 8pm, one of the staff came to me to inform me that there was a tornado watch currently in our area. Groovy, I thought. Nothing like the prospect of being stuck at work overnight due to downed power lines and general mayhem. (Don't laugh. Just last year, several staff members at another branch had to do just that during a sudden ice storm.)

One would think that at my age and with my supposed high intelligence, I would have put two and two together and realized this meant a cold front was moving in. But did I? Well, what do YOU think?

So today, as we headed out to take my mother-in-law to a meeting she was attending in Cary(she's staying with us for the weekend), I paid absolutely no attention to the real temperature, and decided it was still 70 degrees outside. After we dropped her off, we headed to BJs Warehouse for our bimonthly stock up on all things bulk. Athena did well, but by the end of it, it was clear that she wanted to go home, and we were all tired from being up most of the night with her for no apparent reason. (She woke around 2:15, and stayed up until about 4:30, with Chris and I switching off to comfort her).

So home we went. We had lunch, and we all (all three of us) settled down for a nap. At 2:00, we rose feeling just as tired as before (except Athena, who seemed quite chipper) and I decided that Athena should really have a chance to play outside while the weather is still nice... before it turns cold. If it's okay with you, I'd like to just write this little brain lapse off as "pregnancy brain" and leave it at that.

I also had to go to the grocery store, as I have invited my own mother and her best friend over for dinner tomorrow night so they can visit with my mother-in-law. I thought now that I invited them over, I should at least consider actually having food on hand for them. So I came up with the incredibly brilliant idea of going to the park for a bit before hitting the store so Athena could run herself ragged.

When I proposed this to Chris, he pointed out that there were hockey and football games on today. This, of course, means nothing to me. There are hockey and football games on all the time. And we do have a DVR. So whatever. I phoned Kathryn to see if Aiden wanted to come out to play as well. She also agreed that letting the two buddies run themselves silly was a good thing, and she agreed to meet us at 3:30 at the park.

I realized that if I hoped to get to the store, it had to be before I went to the park, so I headed out and arranged that I would meet Chris, Athena, Aiden and Kathryn at the park as soon as I was done. I didn't need to buy too many refrigerated items, and we weren't going to be at the park more than a half hour or so. I almost walked out of the house without my jacket at all. Remember, it's a beautiful warm day outside in my happy world. However, I knew that I'd be outside at the park, and I thought perhaps it would be good to have the jacket just in case.

Needless to say, I arrived at the park and FINALLY noticed that it is actually about 32 degrees F. and coincidentally, at the same moment, I noticed that my lighter jacket was really not going to cut it. Sure enough, both Kathryn and Chris were in heavy coats, and they were also smart enough to bundle up the kids, complete with hats. So I stood out there freezing, while they laughed at my silly plan to take the kids to the park in the cold (we were the only ones there other than some college boys who were playing touch football -- in shorts. So let the record show I'm not the dumbest person on Earth.) and they laughed at my light jacket.

The good news is, the refrigerated goods I did end up buying were at no risk for going bad in the back of the car. The other good news is that Athena had a great time at the park. The bad news is, Athena was so upset about leaving the park, I had to spend the next hour coddling her and trying to get her to stop crying. Along with the cold front, the temper tantrums have also moved in. Expect many posts in the near future describing the drama that seems to surround our little angel lately.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Martha Stewart's in Da HOUSE!

So I made a few New Year's Resolutions this year, and they are all somewhat related:

1) Cook more at home... no more restaurant whoring. (This resolution has more to do with the fact that we are broke and going broker by the minute than it does with me wanting to cook).
2) Learn to bake. I mean REALLY learn to bake. No faking it or being a poser. (This resolution is evenly split between me wanting to cook and me wanting to eat baked goods).
3) Don't make any more New Year's Resolutions. (This one ensures I'll break it right away).

So obviously, I failed miserably at resolution number 3. So let's focus on 1 and 2.

I have actually done quite well with the first one. It took me the first week of the year to get my kitchen back in shape after the holidays and restock the fridge and pantry. This week, though, I have to say, I'm really doing it. I've only eaten out once for lunch (and that was to see my former boss, the hero. He paid, too, since it was kind of a business lunch... but that's all I will say about that). We've eaten at home every day since Sunday... and really since Saturday if you include Papa John's as "home." I haven't been so good about breakfast... but I'm working on it. And breakfast is the cheapest meal if you really need to eat out. If I stick to this plan, we will easily save between $35 and $100 a week, depending on how much we ate out in a given week. I shudder to think that I've just been throwing that money at restaurants for this long. Especially since I really do like to cook!

For resolution number two, I decided I would shop for baking cookbooks that claim to be educational and take you through all kinds of baking... from biscuits to cakes. However, before I really shopped around, I mentioned to my mother-in-law that the new Martha Stewart Baking Handbook looked really good. I had only really glanced at it, but as she is a wonderful mother-in-law, she bought it for me for Christmas. And what do you know?! It actually takes you through all kinds of baking... from biscuits to cakes! Woo hoo!

So on Sunday, I started at the very beginning. Martha does make me laugh, I must say. When leading into her biscuit recipes, she says something like "The best thing about making biscuits is that you often have everything you need right in your kitchen. You don't need to buy special ingredients!" Hooray! Then I get to the ingredient list for baking powder biscuits... the first in the book.

Flour, salt, baking power, salt, unsalted butter... yadda yadda... heavy cream.

What? Heavy cream? And not just a little heavy cream. TWO CUPS plus extra for GENEROUSLY brushing the tops of the biscuits. Now, I ask you (and I already asked Cathy, who bakes a LOT), how many of you actually often have heavy cream on hand? And if you do, I don't believe you.

Anyway, I bought the heavy cream (only two cups... screw the extra for brushing... I don't need this experiment to make everyone in my household six feet wide). And I made the biscuits. Believe it or not, I have never before made biscuits from scratch... especially the kind you actually cut out. I have made drop biscuits from various mixes, but never from scratch. I don't even have a biscuit cutter (why would I?) So I used a cookie/pastry cutter. It was round, but it had scalloped edges, so I had VERY fancy biscuits.

So I was nervous... I mean... as long as I have never made biscuits, I haven't screwed them up. But I put my faith in Martha, and it paid off. They were quite tasty. And really, how could they not be with two sticks of butter and two cups of heavy cream in them? Martha isn't known for her low-fat cooking after all.

Unfortunately, the recipe makes like 20 biscuits, and between the three of us (Athena liked them too), we ate maybe six. And of course my wonderful husband made a crack about how late breakfast was (it was ready at 10:15, which isn't bad considering we didn't even wake up until 8:45). But I just told him to eat his handmade biscuits and shut up. :-)

So my baking experiment is also off and running. I believe I will make a quick bread next... like banana bread. I have actually made banana bread before, but I'm interested to see how Martha does it. I predict butter, shortening and heavy cream... but it's just a hunch. Oh, and perhaps a banana or two.

Preemptive Strike

For those of you who read my husband's blog AND mine... I just need to state for the record (before he tries to frame me) that at the dinner table tonight, Athena said "Cheek," not "Shit" as he will purport.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Curse You, Braxton Hicks!

It seems that He Who Must Not Be Named moves a LOT. Unlike Athena, who would shift positions and then settle down for hours, this one seems to shift positions, do the Mexican Hat Dance, and then run through an Olympic floor routine. But today, I realized that it isn't necessarily always him.

Both last night and today, I started noticing that the movements were a little more... well... smooth and fluid. And then I realized that some of the discomfort of the movement has been the tightening in my abdomen. And suddenly it occured to me... that's not the wee one... that's Braxton-Hicks!

Although I've given you a link to learn more, I'll give you the short version. Braxton-Hicks contractions are "practice" contractions that actually begin at about week six, but often don't become obvious until closer to delivery... anytime past the midpoint of the pregnancy. With Athena, I never felt the first contraction until the real labor started. In fact, I was at the doctor once and she said, oh... you are having a Braxton-Hicks contraction! I said, "Oh, really?" I literally had no idea.

Well, I'm having them now. And I'm having them often. And although they are painless... they are still rather uncomfortable. And I only have another two and a half months of this. yippee.

I Know a Real Hero!

These things happen in the movies all the time. A group of passengers on a charter bus in the mountains... driver has a heart attack and dies... passengers go careening off into a ravine. Well, guess what, folks. It happens in real life too.

Turns out that my former boss at Dialog, plus several other executives that I have worked with over the years, were being shuttled from the conference center in San Diego where the international sales conference was being held, to a nearby Spa for an outing of some sort. Suddenly, the driver died (they think it was a heart attack, but I haven't heard confirmation of that) sending the bus off the road and down into a ravine. My boss jumped immediately into action, took the wheel, and managed to steer the bus until it stopped safely, keeping it upright and keeping injuries to a minimum. Apparently, the worst injury among the fifty passengers was a broken bone. The only death was the driver, and that was before the accident.

The full story, sketchy as it is even here, is on a local tv station's website. I'm hoping to have lunch with John (the hero of the story) in the next couple of weeks and will ask for the nasty, scary details. But in the meantime, isn't it fantastic to know that there really are people out there who will jump to action?

On a side note, I find heroism very interesting. In this case, I would not argue at all that John deserves the "hero" title. He truly saved 50 lives. However, when you look more carefully at the situation, he really became a hero because of his own need for self-preservation. I don't doubt that he cares about the others on the bus (although I know for a fact he doesn't like all of them), but I'm sure that the reason he jumped up... the reason the adrenaline started flowing... was all about him. With a wife and two young daughters at home, he is the breadwinner of the family. I know when he realized what was happening, his first thought, no matter how fleeting, was not for the other 49 passengers, but it was for himself. So sometimes, heroism isn't completely selfless. It isn't only the fireman rushing into the burning building or the lifeguard swimming out into choppy water... it's also the guy who saves others while saving himself.

And I, for one, am glad that he succeeded.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Name Game is Drawing to a Close

After a session of discussions that we refer to as "The Name Eye Test," (i.e. "which do you like better... this name or that name?"), we have narrowed it down to what we think are our top two (and final two) remaining choices. Now I'm curious as to what you guys think about either or both of these...


Just so you know, Andrew came in a VERY close third, but we both conceded that we liked these two names just a little more than Andrew. I think most of that came down to the popularity of the names. Marcus and Eric are also quite popular (although with various spellings), but we simply prefer these names both aesthetically and historically (meaning they are historically significant to the world).

But we are about dead even on how we feel about them. So give us some feedback, please. Do you see any potential problems or major advantages to either of these?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How to Raise Your Child in a Hockey Arena

We had a home game tonight vs. Atlanta. (The good guys won, 4-3. Very good game.) We were a bit nervous taking Athena to this game, because we had to leave the last home game we attended at the end of the second period. Athena was so grumpy and tired that we simply couldn't stay.

Fortunately, tonight, the game was not crowded (can you say Rose Bowl?) and so there was a little room for Athena to play and move around. She did so with gusto, and she -- as always -- won the hearts of those around her.

I am really amazed at how tolerant people are of toddlers in general. Pre-children, I never really cared if there was a toddler nearby or not. I really never even noticed them for the most part. And since this is the sixth year we've sat in the same seats at the hockey games, I can also say that we don't frequently get toddlers in our section. We are changing that trend. A woman down the row from us had a baby a few months ago, and of course I'm due in a couple more months... so children will become the rule in our section... not the exception.

Anyway, back to the game... Athena kept smiling at the people sitting behind us, and they were more than willing to talk to her and smile back. Then she spotted Stormy the Ice Hog (team mascot... and no, I have no idea what an ice hog is) and she ran over to talk to him. Soon, she had so charmed Stormy's assistant that she earned a Hurricanes logo temporary tattoo. She has gotten one of these before, so she immediately took it to Daddy and pointed to the back of her hand, where she wanted it applied immediately. Being the supermom that I am, I reached into the diaper bag and brought out some napkins and a bottle of water. Am I good or WHAT?!

She was so thrilled with her hand tattoo that she kissed it. No lie, she actually kissed the tattoo affixed to the back of her hand. I thought my heart would burst it was so darn cute. So she headed back over to the rail to talk to some of the crew. We sit very close to one of the breezeways that lead to the "backstage" area. It's a prime location for spotting mascots, cheerleaders, famous (and not-so-famous) hockey wives (Kristi Yamaguchi is married to one of our star defensemen) and intermission talent. Yes folks, I've been within touching distance of Clay Aiken. Are you jealous yet?. Within moments, the security guard who keeps the riff raff from charging down the stairs and into the breezeway came down from his post to give her yet another tattoo.

She could not believe her luck! She took it right back to Daddy and pointed to the back of her OTHER hand. Water. Napkins. Done. She was THRILLED! So now she knew the secret. She hung out by the rail for the rest of the game. Sure enough... not long after the seond tattoo was in place, she charmed the Storm Squad girls who were stationed nearby. (She loves to watch them dance and imitate them. Personally, I'm trying to decide if they are really the role models I want for her...) Lo and behold, a third tattoo was soon hers. We tried to explain that she didn't have any more hands, and we'd have to save it for later. Soon, she conceded, and we stashed it for Friday's game.

We've also been given (well, SHE has been given) two official hockey pucks since we started taking her to games. Before that, in the past five years we have attended these games, we received exactly ZERO pucks. But this year, two already. Both used in-game. Both were handed to her by real NHL referees. Pretty cool.

So any doubts I may have had early in parenting about taking children to sports events have been completely washed away. Sure, you have to be flexible. Chris had to take her upstairs twice tonight to change diapers. And as I said, just last week we had to leave early because she just couldn't take it. But overall, she has a great time. The noise, cheering, and lights really seem to stimulate her senses, and when we get home, she is exhausted and sleeps well. It's not like trying to take her to a movie. It's far more interactive and fun for her. Now I just wonder when she will start actually watching the hockey...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

You Can't Be Serious

A patron came in today and asked if it was okay that she pay her $10 fine in change. I said "Sure!" expecting to get a roll of quarters. She handed me a plastic grocery bag full of pennies. None of it rolled. I shit you not. There was about $2.00 in dimes and nickels, and the rest was in pennies. Loose pennies... with some sort of dead plant life mixed in. It was lovely.

So I had to go sit down and roll it all. Naturally, I let her go ahead and I cleared her fines. And of course, as it turns out, she shorted us twenty cents. Not that it's a big deal, but... well... I'm sure you see what I'm saying.

Chalk this one up to yet another good use of that Master's degree!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

An Especially Good Weekend

Well, one would think that I couldn't top Christmas weekend. I got to see my sister, who I rarely see because she lives so far away, went to a great hockey game (well, great in that we won... not that we played very well) and had a fabulous Christmas with my daughter, who is just old enough to have fun at Christmas without being greedy or ungrateful.

However, this weekend may be adding up to be just a bit better. Last night, we were invited to a kid-friendly New Year party. It started at 6:30, and we spent time with people we really like, but don't know super well (friends of a friend). The hostess had a chocolate fountain, but unfortunately, she didn't get to crank it up before we had to leave with our exhausted daughter draped over daddy's shoulder. We did stay up until midnight, but not in the same room as each other. We've been married too long, I suppose. :-)

The party was "bring an appetizer," and in addition to making the appetizer, I was also able to "whip up" a cheesecake for tonight. Tonight we had Kathryn, John, and Aiden over for dinner. We get together with them from time to time as I work with Kathryn and Aiden is in Athena's daycare class. By odd coincidence (yes, it gets odder), John works for IBM, where Chris used to work. And tonight, we learned that they got married about two weeks after we did. If it weren't for the fact that my house is a complete pig sty and theirs is a beautiful picture from Southern Living, we could be twin families. Spooky when you notice how your life so closely parallels another.

Anyway, we had spaghetti and then ate the cheesecake for dessert. Athena and Aiden sat at Athena's new little activity table, which Chris brought downstairs and put at the end of the dining room table. They did very well sitting down there on their own... even with something as messy as spaghetti. (Murphy LOVES them both). The cheesecake also turned out delicious. Perhaps my kitchen poser days are over. :-)

Generally, it was a very pleasant afternoon and evening. The kids loved playing together and running around the house. We're hoping that Athena will sleep better tonight than she did last night, although she's been down for about 30 minutes and is still fussing off and on. But if all that playing didn't wear her out, I have no idea what will.

Generally, I have to say that this is one of the most pleasant weekends I've had in a while. And there's still one more day of it to go! The libraries are closed tomorrow, and we are planning to go to the Season Ticket Holders' party tomorrow evening. Free food and fun. Can't beat it!