Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our little bedfellow

It's 3am, and I've been up since 1:30. All due to a screaming toddler. Not sure what her problem was, but she was screaming and inconsolable. Offered her liquids, food, finally gave her some Tylenol, sang to her, danced with her, it was like having an infant again! When your kid's been up screaming for half an hour, you kind of start running out of options. Julia's one of those kids that must be up and moving when she's screaming and as she calms down, you bring down the pace til you're eventually rocking back and forth & then can lay her down. I just didn't have the stamina at 2am and brought her to bed. Initially, she protested, as she always does. She does NOT like our bed anymore. After another song, she finally let me lay her down between us.

Until she was 8 months old, Julia coslept with us. It was one of those things I never thought I'd do, but with her extreme fussiness & being up every 1-2 hours at night, we got into a cosleeping rhythm. We both grew to like having a swaddled camo baby between us. She seemed a tad calmer cosleeping vs. being in her crib back then. And since she HAD to be swaddled til she was 8 months, she really couldn't move much so she wasn't too much of a bother. Occasionally she'd rotate 90 degrees after a few hours, and we'd just move her back into place.

Tonight brought back the memories. It was so nice to have her between us again. Of course, she's longer, more fidgety & a bit unruly now. Within half an hour, she was 90 degrees with her head in my face and her feet in S's side. It was so cute because I sneezed at about 2:30am. While asleep, she told me, "Bless you." So sweet.

At 2:45am, she popped up and said she wanted to eat. She was just playing us and wanted a second paci. After S retrieved her a second paci, we asked if she wanted to go into her own bed and she said yes. So now she's back in her bed, S is asleep, and I'm still awake. It was really nice to have her fall asleep with us. With all her moving around, I could not fall back asleep...but still, it was nice.

Going to try to go back to sleep. Tired, but now my mind is very active. Just had to get out that the time she was in our bed was very nice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Where to store the chapstick?

Tonight I unpacked one lousy box. I had high hopes for more, but it seemed to take forever to unpack just the one. It was one of those boxes that wasn't very big, but a whole drawer (or three) had been dumped into it. Lots of little stuff: pens, letter openers, chapstick, magnets, spare change, tea lights, and on and on and on. It led to all these monumental decisions, like where to store the chapstick?

I did a Denise Austin workout video tonight: Cardio Blast. Eh. My impression of Denise Austin is that she tries to get on board with all the new fads, but the main part of her moves don't change. And the moves that she did 10 years ago she still does. Maybe a little too "old school." Lots of grapevining and very few reps. Like each move you did 4 times before moving on. 4 squats, 4 grapevines, 4 lunges, 4 v-steps... it just seems rather weak compared to Jillian Michaels & Jackie Warner & The Firm. Although I really don't like the Firm because of all their "adding on" and orders they bark while doing confusing dance moves.

I was quite pleased with a Jackie Warner video I did last week. Gosh, I was sore after it! That's good. Jillian Michaels is okay too. What I like about these 2 ladies is they don't try to do dance moves or anything. It's just doing the exercises and moving on. Denise Austin has quite a bit more "fluff" in her workouts. And so perky that you want to slap her.

I've figured out my February exercise goal. 600 minutes throughout the month. That should burn about one pound of fat. Plus hopefully reducing my eating will take care of another 1-2 pounds. I can mix it up to get to 600 minutes: fast walking, jogging, workout videos, etc. It should be fun!

I'm ready for bed!

Before/After Family Room

These are the "before" of our family room. Notice the yellow everywhere (even the ceiling), and really notice those icky valances. S took these pictures during the inspection, so you're looking at Hwang memorabilia.

Then this is after we moved in. Still yellow.

And this is tonight. Definitely less yellow. We have PTSD from those valances (they were sticky with grease and grime...ick!!!), so for now we have no plans of adding any window treatments on these windows. See the clock? Julia is in love with it. She tells us "clock" every time she sees it. $30! I thought that was a pretty good deal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pictures, pictures, pictures

I've been very bad and haven't gotten pictures printed out in a long while. It seems like I can do one thing with pictures & that's it. Usually I'm pretty good at uploading pictures to Facebook. Finito. Done. I rarely get any more than that accomplished.

It's all so tedious. Here's the process I *should* do:

1. Edit photos - you know, adjust color balance, turn some into black and white, add some contrast here and there

2. Upload to Facebook - this step I usually actually DO

3. Upload to a picture uploader service - Snapfish, Costco, etc. Here's where I get picky. I like matte pictures. I don't like glossy that much. And most places only give you glossy unless you use the mail service. Costco does matte, which I like, but we're discontinuing our Costco membership soon & sometimes you can get cheaper than 13 cents a print elsewhere. But overall, I do like the Costco quality. The uploader services are great to use as a back-up for all your pictures in case your computer freaks.

4. Which leads me to ... back up the picture files on an external hard drive and CD.

5. Make pages for Julia's scrapbook using the pictures taken

6. Update our digital photo frame with the pictures we like

See, I know what *should* happen. I'm just way too lazy to do all of the steps.

Good Sale Chi

Usually I find a few good deals here and there, but it tends to be hit or miss. Today was rockin' for the deals!

Remember how I send I wanted a big wall clock yesterday? So I go to Fred Meyer this morning, and I gravitate to one that I think looks really pretty. $69.99 on sale for $39.99. Then I have a 20% off coupon & a 10% off coupon, so it ends up being a little less than $30. Woot woot! It's 24" inches in diameter and exactly the dimensions I wanted.

On my list for Fred Meyer, I had some things listed like french fries, milk, cleaner, syrup, etc. They were all either on sale or there was a coupon in the Fred Meyer for all of them. And I scored oranges for 33 cents a pound.

This morning we went to Target. Julia's Gerber meal (the only one she will touch) was on sale. The reason we went to Target was that I've scoured all of the stores around here & finally decided on which shelving units I wanted for the Y2K closet. I was trying to find ones that held a good amount of weight, semi-attractive looking (i.e., not the icky grey/steel garage types ones), and don't break the bank. After a month of looking, we finally decided on the ones at Target. We go there today to buy them, and it turns out they were on sale (ad started today). 15% off!

Yay for today's bargains! This will never happen again, so I figure that I must memorialize the day when I got some great deals and wasn't expecting it.

We put together one of the shelving units this evening (it only took 20 minutes). They look nice and will hold a lot. I'm going back this week to get 2 more units!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kitchens and Gearing up for exercise

This kitchen has got to go. It's deplorable. I don't think it was a good kitchen when it was first made in 1994. It's not functional, the cabinets have 15 years of grease caked on them, the contact paper is gross, they cabinets are all nicked, I found rat poison in one of them (the thoughts of rats in cabinets ever...ewwwwww!), and the counters are little white tiles with flowers embellished on them.

We can live with aesthetically not pleasing as long as it is functional, hygienic & not in need of repair. Honestly I would prefer low grade, clean laminate over little white tile with mold in the grout.

Today we looked at cabinets in the warehouses of the two top contenders for Kitchen Remodel 2010. One was in Seattle, one was in Tukwila, and of course we had Miss J so it was a race to make all the stops & get back before lunch/nap.

We *think* we've settled on the cabinets and granite we want. We're moving around appliances and changing things a bit, so that makes a few unknowns. Like we want to make sure there is hardwood under the existing mondo huge cabinet. We're replacing it with one that doesn't jut out as far, so we have to make sure we won't run into flooring issues. Because, as you probably know, one thing out of whack can lead to a cascading (and expensive) list of other problems.

Once we check on that, then we'll contact the contractor we're using & get the ball rolling on that end.

My goal is to start incorporating exercise into this weight loss effort starting February 1. I've been toying how I want to make myself accountable and motivated. I think the best way to go is to set an exercise minute goal and then keep a diary on what type of exercise I do & for how long for each day. I think a reasonable goal for February is 600 minutes (10 hours). Since I've taken a little over 2 months off, I think that goal is attainable and will ease me back in. I will likely use exercise videos and the cable on demand to do this. I may throw in a walk or two (maybe a light jog) around the neighborhood once or twice, but let's be realistic ~ it's still butt cold outside & I'm easing back into this, so I'm starting small.

Once we finish touch up painting, I've got to post pictures of the paint job in the family room/kitchen/nook area. I think it looks much nicer than it did!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fog and Art

I have never had a great view from my domicile before now. Usually looking out a window resulted in appearing as if I was a peeping Tom-ette because a neighbor would be passing by at the exact time I was looking out the window. Plus I've always been surrounded by "stuff" and never had great scenery to look at. Supposedly there was a view from our last house, but you had to have the blinds open and peek through two houses while your body was turned at an angle. Even then, it was just a view of the industrial part of town with a little industrial inlet.

The great thing about this house is that you can see the water/Seattle skyscrapers from almost every room. At night, even though you can't see the water, you can see the glow from the city and you can see airplanes taking off and landing (though you can't hear them...that's really nice). One thing that you can really observe is the weather. Maybe most everyone else can see the weather from their houses, and I'm the unusual one that really couldn't. In my past living situations, I could walk outside and look up. I couldn't do much more than that. But at this angle & the way the house is positioned, you can see clouds rolling in above the water. You can see the ebb and flow of the fog throughout the day. You can see quite a number of rainbows. It's all very cool to see.

Most of our art/wall decor is back at the other house. Our real estate agent wanted the house to look as staged as possible, so we left all the art and other piddly little stuff to make it look cozier. So we really don't have anything on the walls here yet. And I've been antsy to get stuff on the walls. I have dreams of getting really nice art. In our bedroom, I have visions of black and white photography in matching black frames. I'm thinking mostly nature photography but maybe one family picture in black and white.

The weird thing about this house is that the main living area of this house isn't picture friendly. There really isn't any space for pictures on the walls. Now I know you must think I'm smoking crack because I've said this house is 2.5 times bigger than our last house. How could there possibly not be space on the walls, you ask? The living room and dining room are side by side and have windows completely on one side. In the living room, there is a fireplace along one wall, and there is space above it for a piece of art (where we will put the picture we had in the living room in the other house). There is a short wall on the third side that could accommodate a picture, but the picture over the fireplace has a military theme (S's choice) so it's a bit tricky to pick a picture that goes with that. And the fourth side of that room is open to the dining room, so there isn't a wall. In the dining room, there's the wall of windows. Then there's the wall with the hutch, and there's not a whole lot of space to put art there. There are no other walls in the dining room.

Now then let's move to the kitchen, nook & family room area. The kitchen cabinets and big window take up all the wall space in the kitchen. The nook is completely windows on the only wall. The family room is a wall of bookcases on one side (no exposed walls). The other wall is all windows. The other wall is mostly the brick hearth for the fireplace; there is a bit wall area, and I think a wall clock would look nice there. Then there is the little vestibule to the family room, and you can fit 1 bigger picture or 2 smaller pictures there. That's about it. There is a spot above the fireplace, but it's very awkward. There's an inset in brick, and it's probably 2 feet high by 4 feet wide. I don't see a lot of pictures with those types of dimensions. Yes, you can put a smaller picture in there, but it would likely look weird because there will be ample space on the sides of it, but it would likely be tight vertically.

So really we're left with the hallways and up the stairs for placing the art & pictures (aside from bedrooms, of course). I guess we shouldn't buy anything until we see how our existing stuff fits in. We likely won't need much except for a wall clock in the family room and some pictures for our master bedroom. Of all the things to do in this house, I was looking forward to getting some new art/photos for the walls. But that probably won't be needed as much as I anticipated. Oh well, that will save some moola!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good circles

Usually with our non-eating daughter, she goes on these long eating strikes. When you don't eat - well, I don't know about you, I can only vouch for myself - you get really, really cranky. Then you get so irritable, you get fed up with the world and then are too out of sorts to eat. It's this horrible downward spiral that just brings down the whole morale of the house. She won't eat, which brings up our anxiety level, then she's irritable, which exasperates us (because we know why she's irritable & she won't eat), and then she gets clingy (but who wants to carry around a screaming & miserable toddler?)...and by 7pm we're happy to put her to bed and so are our ears and nerves.

Tonight, though, was an especially good night. She ate really well. 5 vienna sausages (200 calories), cheese (100 calories), a few bites of apple, some milk, some juice. All in all, that's one of the top calorie meals she's ever ingested at one sitting. Daycare said she ate well today as well. I know she almost ate a whole banana this morning. After all that eating, she was in a really good disposition. Not much (if any) whining, not clingy, happy and playing. She stayed in the high chair almost an hour happily eating. She stayed in the bathtub almost an hour happily playing.

I really like these good circles. I knew if she ate more and had a full belly that she'd be easier to deal with. I mean, aren't you easier to deal with when you have a full belly?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The most interesting nightstand

I think there needs to be $100 hidden in one of these darn boxes to keep me motivated to unpack. The easy stuff has been unpacked...you know, the big box that just has 3 throw pillows in it. It takes about a minute to unpack - you can say the box is "done" with minimal work. The stuff that's left...well...it's time-consuming and not rewarding to unpack. But if I was to, say, be looking for $100, then it would be much more gratifying to unpack. When it takes 3 hours to unpack one dinky box, and all you have to show for it is papercuts, then it's pathetic.

Oh, yeah, I am looking for that $100 hidden check still. The one that we got in early December post-dated for Christmas, and I put it in some special place, which I have definitely forgotten where the special place was. (I have a feeling it ended up in the t-r-a-s-h in the hubbub.) If you're ever going to send someone a post-dated check and they're moving, either don't post-date it or send it to their new place. And whatever you do, don't send them wrapped gifts to their old place and expect them to haul them to their new place. Just wait and send it to their new place.

When we bought our bed, we didn't have a whole lot of space & we were on the fiscally constrained side (i.e., poor). So we only bought 1 nightstand. S has been without a "real" nightstand for a very long time. Now they don't sell a matching nightstand, so it's not like we can buy one that would match. To improvise, we've been using a Rubbermaid file box. We use the file box to hold our bank records. It holds his drink and ice cream too. And since the top comes off, it's a ready made tray for whatever he wants it to hold. It really is a handy little nightstand, but the extremely demanding husband thinks that he should upgrade to a wood nightstand. The audacity! ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Game shows and Nancy Drew

I've enjoyed game shows since Bob Barker had black hair. Most game shows involve math or words, and frankly I love both. Give me a trivia question about math, and I'm in heaven. Due to the advent of cable, there are networks dedicated to kind of obscure genres, such as game shows. For a few years, we got the Game Show Network. For 20 hours a day (they had paid programming for 4 hours), I could relive the 70s, 80s & 90s and, as their motto used to be, "see a winner every half hour."

As every TV network does, they used to refer you to their website for more information, games, contests, etc. They also had message boards, which I'd check out from time to time. It always amazed me that there were others more obsessed than I with game shows. There were people out there that had taped every episode of old game shows. Not only did these people amaze me, but it amazed me more that there was a market for such things. People would pay money for episode 114 of Wheel of Fortune. Really, really weird things.

I must confess that S and I really enjoy playing the Nancy Drew series of video games. They are games for the PC where you get to be a detective. Her Interactive usually makes 2 games per year, and they've been making games for over 10 years. S and I have played over 20 of these games. Now it's like a staple in our marriage. Back in the day (i.e., before Julia), one of these games would come out, we'd get it, and then we'd play it for a whole weekend. If it was winter, we'd drag our mattress down to the family room, sleep in front of the fire with the computer between us. Many a birthday weekend was spent playing Nancy Drew. We'd eat our meals in bed, which would be on the family room floor, and we'd be intent on solving the mystery til the wee hours of the morning. Now it's not nearly so interesting. We're about ready to collapse after trying to feed Julia all day & painting, but we still spend half an hour or so before bed trying to solve the latest mystery.

Just like with the game shows, I often look at the website for these games (http://www.herinteractive.com), and I am stymied that there are even more obsessed people than I. These games are seemingly a large part of some people's lives. They know a considerable amount of intricacy about them and debate many different points about them.

I admire their passion but am kind of glad I don't have their passion, all at the same time!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dental Floss at the Table

One of the most interesting things about having an older baby/toddler is how things end up in weird spots. If you came into our house right now, you might think we are a bit inappropriate since there is a dental floss container on the kitchen table. No, we don't floss at the table. Julia just loves playing with the dental floss container, so she carries around an empty floss container. Then there's the 2002 palm pilot on the windowsill. It's "her" palm pilot now, and she even uses the pen that came with it. I particularly liked when she put shampoo on the bookcase. Because you might want to wash your hair as you watch TV.

The thing is, we're really lazy about these things. We just let them be because, really, these things amuse her more effectively than any toys we can buy. Thank heavens we've never really spent a whole lot of money on toys for Julia. You know the people who seem to spend hundreds and hundreds every year with the latest and greatest toys? Yeah, we're not them. The one toy I can not figure out is those motorized vehicles for kids. The fancy $300-$400 kid ATVs or princess cars. I don't get those. Get your kid a $50 trike instead and make them pedal around. But I suppose those expensive motorized toys get bought by overly generous grandparents anyway.

We painted (mostly) the family room, kitchen, and nook. We still have some touch up in the area, but it is mostly done. We will be happy to close the chapter on "Move In Painting." We definitely have several more painting chapters (after all, the interior hasn't been painted in at least a decade) after our wrists heal.

I suppose I was in a sleep deficit because last night I slept 10 hours & then I took an hour and a half nap today. Due to all that sleep, I'm having trouble getting to sleep tonight.

I have off on Monday, and daycare is closed. Since it is hard to get things done around the house with Julia, I'm not anticipating getting a whole lot done with her in tow. Maybe unpack a box or two, maybe a little touch-up paint. That's about the extent of it. I'm sure the day will go quickly. Breakfast, get ready for the day, then it's basically morning snack. We have a playdate at 10am, come home, feed her lunch, naptime for 1-2 hours (hopefully for the both of us!). Before you know it, it's 2pm. Then it's snack time again, and then just another hour or two before Daddy comes home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mom 'n Pop vs. Big Box

I'm more of a Lowes and Target kind of girl. I like a good selection, get in, get out. Self check-out is even better on top of it. Then I quite possibly don't have to talk to anyone on my shopping excursion.

The local hardware store is having a big sale. They have those little fluorescent light bulbs for $1 (we have about 3,433 light bulbs in this house), nightlights for $1, paint brush sets for $3 & hardwood floor cleaner for $2.

I went today. When I walk in, there are two older gentlemen talking & a younger clerk at the counter. The young man greeted me instanteously and asked if he could help me find anything. The store is pretty tiny, I have my list of 4 things, how hard can this be? "No thanks," I say and proceed through the store. I am so impressed with how much stuff is in the tiny store. You could probably fit 100 of this store in Lowe's.

I go to the cleaner section and can't find the cleaner. I go to the light bulb section and can't find the light bulbs that are on sale. I can't find the nightlights. I do see the paint brush sets, but is it worth it to get one thing?

Then the older man comes find me. He's likely the owner. He asked if he could help. I ask about the light bulbs. He said they're all out, and they'll be getting a new shipment on Wednesday. I ask about the cleaner. He says he doesn't carry the one I'm looking for because it doesn't sell well. I ask about the nightlights. He said he only had 3, and they were sold.

I do appreciate the small business owner. Although I realize more and more why I like Lowe's.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just Do it

I'm so happy for Melissa! She is featured in a magazine for her weight loss. Melissa's one of those gals you just want to dislike because she's so darn pretty, fit, great mother, great at her job, volunteers, and is all around perfect. I ♥ u, Melissa! Great job!

I have been a part of the Biggest Loser 2010 group with friends. I was part of the Biggest Loser 2009 group, and I lost 22 pounds in 2009. Woot woot! 2010 has been a weird start to the year due to the move. Working full-time with a little one is tough enough, but then to come home to a to-do list a mile long is daunting. Weight loss and physical activity (unless related to the moving/unpacking) take a backseat. But I really need to get back in full force with the weight loss thang, and Melissa's success in print is excellent motivation. After all, I've gotta WIN BL 2010! Not that I'm ever competitive... :)

Food is my downfall. I can eat an incredible amount of food. Take my word for it. I can literally out-eat anyone I know. If you subtract sleeping and working, there's only so much time in the day to actually exercise. Upping my exercise will help, but I think even more so with me reducing the food intake will help drastically.

Friday is my weigh-in, and then I start a new "week." I pledge this every week that on Friday I will start my new leaf, and then by noon I've given up.

I don't know how to make this week different, but I really really want to. My birthday is over, there's no excuses. I know what I need to do. Now I just need to step up to the plate and DO IT!

January House Progress

When we looked at this house the first time, we were escorted by the Hwangs and it was dark (and the tour was about 15 minutes). When we looked at this house the second time, we were again escorted by the Hwangs and it was another 15 minutes. At least the second time it was in daylight. The third time I wasn’t there; S did the inspection with the inspector. Then we moved in. So there were some things that were a bit of a surprise when we moved in. I told people that I was excited to find out what I bought. It really was true. I could draw a vague layout of the house, but that was about it. I couldn’t tell you if there were 1, 2 or 3 windows in the bedroom. I couldn’t tell you the approximate size of the bathrooms, etc.

Upon moving in, we learned that the Hwangs did absolutely zero during their 8 years of living here. Nada. 8 years of neglect is hard to pick up after. Plus all the crap they left. Plus all the awful painting.

Our to-do list has become:
- Get Hwang crap out of the house.
- Clean stuff so we can at least use it.
- Steam clean all the carpets.

Usually when you buy a house, you don’t have to do those things because the previous owner (cough, cough) does them. We wish we were that lucky.

We’ve been in the house almost a month. And that stuff has taken us an obscene amount of time. They left a lot of crap. There’s still crap in the garage, but most of it is garage crap. The garage still has a foul fishy odor from the fridge and freezer that were out there. In the summer we’re going to have to wipe down the garage floor and walls.

So now that the to-do list up above has mostly been done, we’re proceeding on our to-do list. Our to-do list is crafted by the motto: “maximum impact for the minimal dollar.” Those have been things like paint the master bedroom, closet & bathroom; paint the main bathroom; replace the most offensive but able to change without killing ourselves on a ladder fixtures; take down the awful valances.

By the end of January, we have a few goals:
- Paint the family room/kitchen/nook combo. It was all yellow before. There are good shades of yellow, and then there are horrendous shades of yellow with green undertones that should not be used. So we’re working on changing that.
- Unpack 15 boxes. We probably have about 50 or so boxes left, I’m aiming to be done by the end of March.
- Get S’s car in the garage. We actually cleared out the space, but the garage door doesn’t close. You know those beams at the bottom that act as the safety so you don’t crush a kid/animal? Well, they aren’t working so the garage won’t shut…which makes it kinda difficult to use in practice.
- Trim back plant life from the house. We had ivy growing in the garage. It had not been tended to for so long that it had gotten itself inside. The inspector said we should really do some cutting back of the plant life from the house.
- Screens on the roof air vent holes so that no animal life can get into the attic.

Busy busy busy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dude, that was a lot of sleep

Last night I came home from work a bit fuzzy. I had to sit through a tedious work meeting, and those tedious work meetings usually make me fuzzy. Didn't think much of it.

Julia had feeding therapy. That went okay. The therapist was working on her 6 month progress report, and - well - she's coming along really well. The therapist has no speech/language concerns anymore (thank you tubes!). The quantity of food concern is there, but there's not really much the therapist can do for that. The main concern is chewing. She has improved since she started therapy, but she could definitely be doing more. That's hard to work on in therapy as well. There's only so much you can do. So we are moving to therapy once a month! Woohoo!

Yesterday Julia pigged out (for her). She ate 3 portions of spaghetti at lunch.

After feeding therapy, I was starting to feel really fuzzy and nauseous. S took care of Miss J, and I went to lay down. Next thing I knew my alarm was going off. I slept 12-13 hours straight. I don't even think I woke up to pee.

Today I had off from work for my birthday holiday. It was fairly productive. I went to Lowe's and got some bathroom accessories: towel rings and towel bars. I did two loads of laundry. Scheduled a kitchen remodel estimate. Unpacked two boxes and vacuumed the dining room. I did a bit of taping was going to start painting the family room walls until I realized that the family room paint was in S's car. We had the ceiling paint inside the house, so I started painting the ceiling. I made quite a bit of progress. The family room, kitchen & nook are probably about 500 square feet. It's a formidable challenge, particularly painting in that position. Around 3:30pm, I decided to take a quick rest before S & Julia came home.

Julia had a good dinner (2 slices of swiss & a bit of hot dog & 4 oz). She was in good spirits during her bath. Her teacher noted that she said, "No thank you. That hurts" during a diaper change (poor girl has a rash). After Julia went to bed, we finished painting the ceiling. Whew, that feels good to have done!

So all in all it was a productive birthday holiday, but not all that relaxing unless you consider my marathon sleepfest last night.

Off to bed...again!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Food & Linen

I, for one, was an oink oink this weekend. I hate that my birthday is a week after New Year's resolutions. I'm not yet in my diet groove, and tantalizing things are my weakness.

I think most of our kids are in a food lull right now. Maybe it's a 18-19 month thing. Not eating much, being extremely picky about presentation and what she wants to drink out of. Running around naked & you can count her ribs. When they're so little, it's hard to tell if it's a toddler phase or if this is the reason why they're so tiny (non-eating). Making the nutritionist/GI specialist rounds suck, so I'm going to attribute it to a toddler phase until I learn otherwise.

This house does not have a linen closet. That means you have to put sheets and towels either in the bathroom, in bedroom closets or in the laundry room. None of the options is very attractive to me. And the thing is that they could have made a linen closet - there's plenty of space.

Suddenly feel tired - off to hopefully nighty night.

Rash Decisions, 7:47am

I do this with myself. I always decide to cut my hair about 5 minutes before I get it done. I get so fed up that my personal mission is to remove the offending mass. Sometimes I am so impatient that this ends up being done personally. Usually, though, I can hang on the 5 minutes it takes to go to a hair stylist. My haircutting history is mostly full of Supercuts and Great Clips because 1) I'm cheap and 2) who knows if I will feel like getting a hair cut on my scheduled day/time?

Unfortunately, I am the same way with Julia. Her hair usually looks atrocious, but today I just got so fed up with it that my mission became to get it cut. And now it's cut. I wished there was a way to preserve her curls in the back and just "do something" with the tops and sides. But then it would have been a mullet. And a mullet on a 1 year old is....yikes! The hair stylist also didn't advocate shaving her sides and top.

So it's all cut, and she looks like a boy. Now the awkward hair phase I was trying to plow through has been set back 4-6 months. I can't do ponytails any longer (hey, I only did them 2-3 times but still...).

7:47am is the time the birdies in the state park next to us make noises. One would think that as it gets earlier, this time will continue to be earlier. I can't tell yet. For about a week or two, it's been 7:47am. They make quite a ruckus.

Birthdays are weird. When your birthday is so close to Christmas, they seem to become very eh and lost in the shuffle. When you become older, the same thing happens if you let it. I'm a simple girl who likes her naps and baths, and I got both of those today. :)

Two years ago on my birthday it was very cool because we saw Julia for the first time. We saw her move and yawn...a few minutes in the life of a fetus.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We went to S's holiday work party tonight. It's a little late. It's always a little late. My work party isn't late, but it's usually not exciting. We go out to lunch. It's a nice place, but no spouses, it's at lunch on a workday, not terribly scintillating.

But S's party is on a weekend, and they give away prizes. It's also different when it's not YOUR work party. Then it's more like a sociological study. You're just a guest and can get away with more. His work colleagues are much more "interesting" than mine. Mine can mostly form coherent sentences unless they have been hitting the open bar a little too frequently.

S's coworkers are an odd lot. Some came to the party in sweatshirts, and some came in prom dresses. (Prom dresses on 45 year olds are a bit odd.) I sat next to a guy who was my age and toothless. Just some stats I noticed about our table that I *think* would be different if it was my office party: 7 out of the 9 people at our table went on a smoke break together. 7 out of 9 people at our table had prime rib, 2 had salmon, and there wasn't a vegetarian dish offered at all.

It was an interesting night. The food wasn't all that great. Yeah, it was a free meal, but I could have done without all those calories. They gave away some nice gifts (XBox with 2 games, Flip video camera, computer & one of those fancy Kitchen Aid mixers). Of course we didn't win. We have the worst luck when it comes to those sorts of things. There were some groovy baskets, too. Those seemed to be valued between $100-$200. Didn't win one of those either. Everyone who didn't win one of the good prizes won a $10-$25 gift card. S picked a $10 gift card to Subway. At least he likes Subway.

My mom watched Miss J. It's so cool to see them like each other. For her first 14 or so months, Miss J was a beast. Really and truly she was. She could make adults, including her parents, quiver in fear. My mom was scared of her too. Now they seem to really enjoy each other, which means my mom WANTS to spend time with her vs. feeling like it's visiting a prisoner labor camp when she comes to see Miss J. Miss J is starting to enjoy my mom a lot more, say her name, and initiate play with her. It's a win/win for all of us. We get to go out alone without feeling like my mom doesn't want to be there. Miss J gets to play with her grandma. And I think my mom is enjoying playing Miss J. So, yeah, it's a win/win for everyone!

Julia was good for my mom tonight. Apparently my mom lost one of her earrings, unbeknownst to her, and she only found out about it when Julia found it & brought it to her. My mom was so impressed that Julia found her earring, didn't eat it, but instead figured out it was hers and brought it to her. I doubt Julia is a child genius, but my mom seems to think Julia is smart and sweet. And that's pretty cool. My mom doesn't like a lot of people. I'm glad Julia's on that list of people she likes.

I better get to bed.

It's officially my birthday! 32 years young!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Serious but not cranky...for once

I have been toying with several blog posts in my head. I love to use my blog to rant because I certainly have passion about inane things I observe. I like to occasionally get a chuckle although I'm sure it doesn't work. I like to talk about finance and houses and saving money. But I don't do "serious" well. I do it well in real life, but I want my blog to be a mostly stream of consciousness thing vs. essays that have a well thought-out structure. Cuz if I wanted to write essays, I could just take an English class and go to town. And what fun would that be? Okay, maybe a lot, but I'm reserving more college classes for when I retire. When I retire, I'm going to move to a college town, get a lame-o job at the university, and take classes for minimal cost. S is coming too, but I doubt we'll ever take the same classes. We can meet at lunch, and I can drag him to dorm food. If you know me, you'll know that heaven for me is all-you-can-eat dorm food.

Oh, where was I? Serious blog posts.

I feel very bad for all of those couples who cannot have children or who miscarry. Someone I respect highly says all problems can be solved with time and/or money. Having a child isn't really one of those. Yes, costly fertility treatments or surrogacy might increase your odds, but I know there are people who haven't been successful despite the treatments. Adoption can be done, but if your desire is to have a child genetically related to you, that won't get you there.

If you really want a child, it's got to be painful to see children and pregnant women all the time. You can't even go to Target without seeing a mom pushing a cart with a giggly baby drooling and trying to eat his/her feet.

Let me be clear, I'm not in this group. This is not a veiled post saying I want another child and can't have one. I do not want another child right now (or ever, but people say I'll change my mind, so I'll leave a little shred of possibility after five years or so).

I'm just trying to acknowledge the fact that life isn't fair when biology works against your wishes. I feel like I can't say anything comforting. I haven't been through it, but I can certainly fathom what it must be like. It's got to be like being picked last for dodge ball in PE. You sit there thinking, "Why don't I get picked? Everyone else is being picked, and I would do a better job than they would anyway. When will I get picked? Will I EVER get picked?"

These are strong, rational people. They will be fine on the outside regardless of what happens. They will lead successful lives with good jobs, and they will be loved by many. But unless they are picked for dodgeball, a piece of them will always be missing.

It just sucks. Plain and simple.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Any way to get above 4%?

If and when we ever sell our other house, we have to decide what to do about this mortgage. We'll likely get enough proceeds from the sale of our house to pay off the equivalent of half of the mortgage of this house.

Our current interest rate is 4% with a 5/1 ARM. Yes, it was intentional. Yes, I know about ARMs.

Now do we pay off half of our mortgage, or do we put it an another (relatively safe) investment?

My uncle's crazy thought is to provide owner financing on our old house. That means to be the holder of the buyer's mortgage. Let's say they can't get a mortgage through the bank, we could offer to hold their mortgage, charge them 7% interest or so, and use that money to help pay our mortgage. Sorry, that's too much like renting the house. I don't trust people. I don't want to deal with foreclosing on them if they don't pay and dealing with what damage they did to our house. After all, that house is like our other child, and I couldn't stand for anyone being mean to it (a la the Hwangs). That idea has been discarded.

Yeah, there are pretty good mutual funds around. But if the market tanks, I don't want to lose 40% on that much money.

CDs are only paying 1 - 1.5% right now.

If you have any ideas, let me know.

Bank of America: Round Two

Remember that checking account I didn't want that I had to get to see my loan online? Well, I used my Chase debit card to fund my new checking account because I don't carry around checks. I asked the dude that was helping me it was free to use the debit card instead of a check. He said it was; it was an ACH. I see ACH all the time - I think my paycheck is an ACH as well as the bills I have automatically taken out. Okay, sure, ACH me. Here's my card.

Guess who saw a $15 fee on her bank account today for taking a cash advance on her debit card? Yep, me! Don't you love how this desire to see my loan account online has morphed into this beast with a life of its own?

There are some things I know about and some things I don't. I'm very well versed with financial stuff, but I have a rather large gap in knowledge about fees on bank accounts/credit cards/etc. I was told it was going to be an ACH, which I know is different than a cash advance. And...who takes a cash advance on a debit card? I can see taking a cash advance on a credit card, but why on earth would you take a cash advance on a debit card? Wouldn't that just be a withdrawal? It makes no sense to me. I called Chase, and they said Bank of America charged it.

I called the local Bank of America branch to talk to the dude I dealt with on Monday. 3 times I called the branch, and 3 times the phone rang so long that it bumped to the 800 number queue. Remember when I said that dude must have known I'd stalk his butt since he made sure I could see my account online before I left Bank of America? I figured he'd remember me, so I went there. Darn, he wasn't working. But I got another slick guy who majored in finance in college. He had heard my story. He said it wasn't Bank of America; he said it was Chase. I explained that I was told it was an ACH, but it came through as a cash advance & I got a $15 charge. And I didn't want this checking account to begin with. He kept saying it was Chase's fee, and there is no charge on Bank of America's side. Why would Bank of America charge you to get money out of Chase? Eh, perhaps I believe him, but still...I don't want to pay the fee, even if it just is on principle alone.

He will credit $15 to my Bank of America checking account. Whew! Of course he tried to phrase it all as Chase is the evil empire, and why would I want to stay with a bank that charges you to move money 600 feet away (as he pointed to Chase across the street)? Talk about the hard sell.

Fact is: I don't like Bank of America. I don't like Chase. But since I have all my accounts at Chase & it's too much of a hassle to change them, my passive aggressive strategy is to not have any contact with them. Stay out of the Chase branch, don't create any problems where I have to talk to them, and just lie low.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blanket-y Blank Bank

And I thought I had a lot of hate for Chase Bank. Ah oh how it has gone to new heights with Bank of America. Let me explain. It's not even that difficult to explain.

Our new house mortgage is through Bank of America. We got our first monthly bill. All I want to do is enroll in the online program, which it advertises on the bill. Seriously that's all I want to do. I go to the website, pick WA as my state, put in Ssn and account #. The account can not be verified, kicks me out. Call number it gives, system won't verify, closed Friday - Sunday.

Today I called again, get tossed to customer service queue and then system hung up on me. Twice. Called home loan number. Dude doesn't deal with online issues. Wants to transfer me to technical support. Oh no, I've played that game. Then he asks me what # I called. I told him the number the website gave me. That's the wrong one! WA has its own number that's different from the rest of the country. Then I call WA technical support. They tell me that I only have a home loan with them, and you can only see it online if you also have a checking account. Well, that's stupid because I have an "account." I do NOT want a checking account. I just want to see and pay my loan online because back in 1999 I could do it. And if I could do it in 1999, I should be able to do it in 2010. Wamu was cool, not like this Bank of America monopoly. I know what they're trying to do. They are trying to force me to get me a stupid butt checking account with them. And I do NOT want a stupid butt checking account from them.

So anyway, I was cranky with the dude from technical support. He said technically I don't have to get a checking account. I can go to the branch and get an "online profile" done, and then I can see the loan online. But I must go to the branch.

If you read this blog regularly, you will know I hate going to the bank branch. Part of it is that I have no patience for lines. Part of it is the desperation of the people in line. And part of it is that it's just plain stupid to have to go to a branch to get an online profile done when I was on the stupid butt phone with the stupid butt ONLINE technical support!!!

Me and my cranky attitude went to the stupid Bank of America branch. It was a 13 person line. Oh golly gee, may the fun begin! While in line in the sorely dilapidated bank branch, I learned something *interesting.* Their cashier's check printer was down. It seemed like everyone in that line wanted a cashier's check. They were telling people to come back TOMORROW to get their cashier's checks. Memo to Bank of America: Have more than ONE cashier's check printer in each branch, you knuckleheads. And get more tellers so it doesn't take a year to get through the line.

I do cranky well, don't I?

Of course I got in the wrong line. I wasn't supposed to go to the teller. I was supposed to talk with one of those dudes in a suit that sit at a desk on the other side of the room. More waiting. Faboo. I get to observe more cashier's check printing fallout.

I get called finally (as I start scribing this very blog). Explain my issue. The dude has never heard that an online profile can be made without opening an account. He calls the same WA technical assistance number. More waiting while he's on hold.

Basically I find out that I HAVE to open a checking account. Well, they'll give me $100 to open an account. Not too bad, but of course I make all sorts of comments about how idiotic this is, and I know they are only doing it to get me as a customer. I have Chase and why would I want to transfer to BOA when I can't even look at my loan online, the line for a teller is out the door, AND you don't even have a back-up cashier's check printer? I really, really do cranky well. But the thing is - this poor dude completely sees my points. (And I must say that I would have considered switching to BOA since I'm not pleased with Chase, but after this experience I'm honestly not at all impressed by BOA.)

Five zillion hours later I have a new BOA checking account. I must say that the dude at least made sure that I could log in to the website and see my home loan before I left. Oh yeah, he had to know that I would be the type to come back and stalk his butt about this issue if it turned out I couldn't see my home loan after I logged in.

Now here's my problem. I linked my Chase checking account to my new BOA checking account so that I could pay the mortgage online. Well, the transfer process isn't working & I found out that Chase charges $3 each time you do a transfer to a different bank. I don't want to pay that each month. So now I'm going to call BOA and see if I can get an auto debit set up.

I will just conclude with: I hate Chase and Bank of America. Through all of these bank takeovers, it seems like it's becoming a Wal-Mart vs. Target war of the banks, and all the little banks are being eaten alive.

My second conclusion is that it is stupid that I had to open a BOA checking account in order to see my loan online. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I can be cranky if I want to!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day of rest...kinda

Since yesterday the master bathroom got painted and I had my big ol' accident (falling off the stepstool onto my back...lovely...just a few minor bruises), we decided to take a day off from painting. Painting is one of those tasks that if you start it, it makes a big mess and you feel obligation to get to a stopping point. So you're liable to stay up very late trying to get to a stopping point, and you can stress yourself out needlessly. Maybe that's just me...

So today I got a master bathroom light fixture to replace the brass seashells. I did some urgent food shopping (as in the world will end if we don't get ketchup and grape jelly by the end of today). S unpacked about 5 boxes. And I steam cleaned a chunk of the basement. There's still a chunk to go. The basement is flipping huge. Depending which appraisal you're looking at, it's between 1,500-1,700 square feet. It's about the size of a 3 bedroom house. So you can see why steam cleaning it is a monumental task that you can't do at one time. Well, I guess you could, but you'd be steam cleaning for 10 hours straight or something like that.

Thanks to Marie's wonderful work cleaning the shower and S's wonderful work of grouting the shower, we can now use the master shower! The room is freshly painted, so it's not sickly hospital green anymore. I do not know why that color gives me such a strong visceral reaction. PTSD from something with green walls is my best guess.

Went to Fred Meyer for grape jelly and ketchup today. Got behind another WIC transaction gone terribly wrong in the "express" lane. I seem to have the worst chi when it comes to Fred Meyer and being behind someone who can't figure out what they are supposed to get with their WIC checks. This time as soon as the cashier and person started arguing, I jumped ship and went to the self-checkout. I did not give myself the opportunity to roll my eyes. Not really a fan of self-checkouts, but I didn't want to waste 30 minutes in the "express" lane because the person got the wrong brand of string cheese.

Julia ate horribly yet again today, but right before bed she ate 2 chicken nuggets. 2 chicken nuggets given the very low bar for the last few weeks is awesome (and 100 calories!).

Ready to get back into the work groove, except that as I recall my work laptop got a nasty virus on the last day before break so it might still be out of commission. Boooooo!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Day

Today my mom and stepdad came over for a few hours. They helped us clean, and they watched Miss J for a bit so I could steamclean.

Master bathroom - PAINTED!
Basement - VACUUMED!
Basement - About 50% steam cleaned!

We then had a turkey dinner - sans gravy because our gravy packets are still packed (we don't do the giblet stuff that comes in the turkey). I didn't have celery either, so it was stuffing sans celery. But it was still good!

Julia has done some serious backsliding with eating lately. It's like we're back in March and April. I don't know if it's teething, the move, switching daycare teachers (though that likely wouldn't impact eating at home), or what. If I had less on my mind, I'd be more of a basket case about it. Even as it is, I'm still very worried. It's going on almost a month, and it keeps getting worse.

Here's what she ate today:
9 oz milk
1-2 oz juice
1/4 egg white
2 bites banana
almost a Ritz cracker
8 bites mac & cheese & chicken & veggies
1 bite hot dog
2 oz of oranges (yes, a measurement bigger than a bite!)
4 spoonfuls of yogurt
bite of stuffing
little chunk of turkey
10 elbow macaroni
2 slices of apple
lick of peanut butter

Now that I look at it, there is a lot of variety - just not much intake. If you have a kid that's a good eater, appreciate it! I have spent weeks of my life worrying about Julia's poor food intake and trying to feed her. Since she nosedived from 75th percentile at birth to pretty much where she is now, I guess she has a really low need for food. The thing is, though, she's had some really good food days. There HAVE been days where she's eaten 900-1000 calories. Yes, there haven't been that many, but there have been some.

Julia knows what she needs, I'm trying to make that my mantra. It's just very difficult when she's so skinny and seems to get super cranky when she hasn't eaten. I know she's got to be hungry, and that's why she's such a beast. But she's spiraled beyond where you can easily bring her back.

Maybe if she had gained 2-3 lbs between her 15 & 18 month appointments, I wouldn't be so on edge. She only gained 12 oz though. She did grow almost 3 inches in height, so I'm going to tell myself that the growth spurt in weight will be coming around the bend.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Remember those really big floppy disks?

Isn't it amazing how much time we all spend online nowadays? I don't know about you, but it seems like 2 hours of my day outside of work is spent online. I can say that I'm doing online banking and reading e-books, but who am I kidding? Most of that time is messing around on FB, this blog, e-mail, searching the web, and reading other people's blogs.

What did we do before this technology?

I was born in 1978, which coincides with being a young tot and having the first "computers" come on the market for home consumers. I say "computers" because my first "computer" was a TI-99. The TI-99 was really Texas Instrument's take on the Atari and Intellivision (now it sounds like a graphing calculator), but they called it a computer even though it was really a gaming system that you could program in BASIC. I was 5 years old, and I'm no genius child programmer, so I was using that thing for the games! Yeah, they were educational games mostly, but heck they were the most interesting things in the house so I replayed them. Eventually I got old enough that I got "fun" games - TI's version of Pac Man and Asteroids, which I played non-stop.

When I was about 9, I got my first real computer. By today's standards, it was a complete piece of crap. You had to boot the computer with the boot disk, which was a BIG floppy disk (5.25"). Just to boot it up took 5 minutes. Of course it was DOS-based, and you had to load any application with 1 or 2 of those huge floppies. It's not like those floppies held much data at all. I remember a standard pinball game - nothing fancy, orange on a black screen. That floppy was always accessed and churning as I racked up the pinball points. As a lover of game shows, I had all the game shows on big floppies: Wheel of Fortune, Classic Concentration, Family Feud. I think I need a multiple personality disorder evaluation because I'd always play multiple players and take turns being Joe Bob, Beth & Carly. Beth always won...hmmmm

Other than playing a ridiculous number of computer games (I stayed home all summer by myself all day...we're talking 20-30 hours of computer time a week), I would also write. I had some cheap-o word processing software that came with the computer on those huge floppies, and I would be 10 years old working on what I thought was the Great American Novel. The wonders of technology transferred my 5.25" blitherings onto the smaller, more recent floppies. But for the life of me I can't find a way to get the data off the small floppies because none of our computers have floppy drives anymore.

So I guess all this ramble is to say that computers have been a huge part of my life since I was very young, and me messing around on them far too much is not a new thing.