Sunday, September 28, 2008

Three Signs That It's Quitting Time

B and I have been feverishly removing wallpaper in our downstairs and master bathrooms. We need to get the walls textured before we paint because all of the other walls are textured and it just makes sense to do it right now than to have to do it last minute if we decide to sell the house at some point. We took our time removing the downstairs paper. It's a small space, but it has a lot of annoying angles and hard to reach places.

Once we finished the small bathroom, we seriously considered just bagging the master bathroom project. But that wallpaper is so ugly that I couldn't bring myself to give up. Then we asked the handyman what the price would be to texture both bathrooms at two separate times and it was going to be much more expensive, so we bit the bullet and got started again.

Feathernester and L are coming to visit on Wed, so it has been an absolute that everything needs to be done and cleaned up before they get here. We don't need a ten month old walker getting into things like steamers and picking up little pieces of wallpaper glue and such. I've spent every free moment working on this bathroom and while it hasn't been hard, it hasn't been easy. This bathroom is literally the size of a bedroom. I have no idea what they were thinking when they designed it; it's like they forgot the master plan so they said, "Oh well, let's just put in a tiny toilet space and give them lots of room to dance in the middle." The ceilings are as high as the bedroom so I need to use an 8 foot ladder to reach the top. So you can picture the safe maneuvering I've been doing all week with a steamer in one hand, a scorer in the other, and a scraper usually in my mouth.

Great progress was made up until today when it was time to take down the very large vanity mirror. House was built in 1990 so it's the classic, one large piece of six foot mirror with dressing room type lightbulbs above it. I knew right away that taking down this mirror was not a job for me, so I suggested that B ask our friend C to help him today when he came over for dinner. C gladly said he would help in exchange for a beer. Little did he know that he would be earning his dinner and thensome!

B and C went upstairs with a screwdriver and I stayed downstairs with the boys as they played. And then I heard the crash. I immediately knew what happened, so I ran upstairs to see if everyone was okay. C was holding the mirror up as best he could while B was rinsing off his bloody hand (everyone knows that his livelihood is in his hands, right?) A large chunk of mirror collapsed from the weight of the rest of the mirror or something. Now the guys were left with what exactly to do with the mirror that would no longer be saved. (it could be amusing to note here that I had been pulling to not put the mirror up again anyway and to get two smaller mirrors over each sink. this idea was shot down by B. anyway...)

After some minor bandaging (blood always looks worse than it is) the guys were able to safely take down the mirror. They decided the best thing to do next was to break the mirror into smaller pieces so that it could be brought outside without a chance of it shattering all over the place. So we heard tons of banging for about 5 minutes, which the little ones thought was hysterical. They had no idea what their dads were doing upstairs!

This was so not the way we had planned to spend our late afternoon, but we had a nice dinner once everything was cleaned up. B decided to continue removing the last bit of wallpaper after J went to bed. I heard some yelling after a few minutes. Then he came downstairs and said, "Have you ever had a light bulb explode in your face?" Even though the electricity was turned off at the breaker, the steam apparently made the light bulbs hot and as B was removing them, one of them exploded in his hands. He said that had he not been wearing glasses, it surely would have been in his eyes. I told B that I thought it was time he packed up for the night.

This was a pic I took before we moved in. Wouldn't you lose the paper too? And here's the mirror. Buh bye mirror.

He didn't listen. He said he only had a little bit left. And as he swiped on last piece of wallpaper near an outlet-- an outlet that he forgot to switch off-- he electrocuted himself. That's my husband. The handyman. The electrician. The endodontist whom is lucky to have his eyes and his fingers all in one place tonight.

Don't worry, feathernester. Everything will be finished and cleaned up by tomorrow! And we won't let B anywhere near L with any type of power tool! And by the way, J is not so sure about sharing his crib with L even though he is no longer using it. But tonight he decided that as long as she wasn't going to sleep with his chicken, she could sleep with his little lovey, which he doesn't sleep with anymore. He showed me how she should sleep with it and then put it in the crib for her. But then he said, "I want it back when she is done." Sharing can be so conflicting sometimes!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weight Watchers, Two Year Old Style

Just a quickie, folks.

J's request for breakfast today...

"Daddy, let's go get some donuts, some coffee, and some fat. Yeah. That would be good."

Of course, Daddy didn't say no as Mommy would have because he loves donuts and fat more than anyone in this world, and doesn't have the hips to prove it.

To balance out this morning's horror of a meal, we planted, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, and carrots this afternoon. Fall planting is new to me, so we'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


(I hope I don't sound soap boxish in this post.)

I don't believe in dumbing down speech for little kids. I believe kids can use sophisticated vocabulary properly if they are given the chance. Nothing hurts my ears more than hearing a mother at the gym say, "Come on ______, Let's go play-play." or "Do you want some nana?" to a two year old. I think baby talk makes parents feel better and really does very little for kids. Don't get me wrong, I've used high pitched voices and inflections and things like that, but I call a banana a banana. Pants are pants and not pantsy wantsies or something gross like that. My one exception to this rule is when names are involved. I think it's completely endearing for a child to have a cute name for an adult if they can't say their full name yet (and even thereafter if it is agreeable to all parties).

Well, all this proper talk has come to bite me in the behind. During a recent playtime with trains, J began to scream at the top of his lungs and yell, "I'm freaking out! I'm freaking out!" He has used this phrase before, and I've found it to be quite funny at times, but the phrase along with the ear piercing howling is no fun in a room that carries a huge echo. I also find it to be pretty unacceptable behavior and I thought I could do something to help that behavior out. After a few consecutive screams and freak out sessions that day, I very calmly said to J, "You know what? I understand you're having a tough time with your trains. Instead of screaming when you're having a tough time, I think it might help me if you use some words to tell me how you're feeling. I think the word you're looking for is frustrated." I'm pretty sure he heard this word on Sesame Street before and I gave him some small examples of how it feels to be frustrated. I encouraged him to say, "I'm frustrated" whenever he felt like he wanted to scream. J was happy with this suggestion and repeated the phrase a few times. Then he was eager to get back to playing trains. I think he would have eaten green beans at this point if it meant that we could get back to playing.

Well, the screaming has stopped, but guess what I hear at least 30 times a day now? "Mommy, I fwustrated." When I ask why he's frustrated, I get responses like, "I want a banana, I want you to read me a story, I don't want to go to bed, I'm not tired, I don't want to get in the car, I want some milk..." You name it and he's frustrated about it. The killer is that he uses this soft, sweet voice and adds a little snide smile at the end as if he knows that is going to get him whatever he wants. And of course, it's as cute as can be, so it often works.

So we're working on using "I'm frustrated" in a limited capacity without welcoming screaming back into our home. B can't help but laugh and say, "See what you've done?" Yes, it seems I've created a sneaky little monster for the time being, but at least that little monster isn't saying, "I'm freaky weeking out!" or something awful like that!

On a lighter note, I've also gotten him to say, "I can see Russia from my house!" because that is just too funny.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Some Good Lines

I haven't given you any updates on the musings of J lately, so here are a few that I made a note to share.

Upon handing me a giant booger:
"I am just picking a booger. Yeah. It's the last booger I ever did see."

In response to a request to keep his legs up during a diaper change:
"I want to play with my penis!!!"
(So soon????)

There is a show J watches where their tag line is "Go make music." They also sign it as they say it. Said after we refused a $6 song by the mariachi band at a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio: "Go make money!!!"

On telling my dad what he did at Nummi's house:
"There were some chickens, and a horse. It's name is Beach. Yeah. And there was a bern." Dad says, "A what?" J says, " A bern. There was a big bern. With more chickens."
Ahhh!!! The Texas twang is already emerging!

In response to telling him he would have to clean up and come inside for a bath soon:
"You just relax right there, Mommy. I have important jobs to do."

While talking to himself and playing in the bath tonight:
"Do you want a cappuccino? That would be great (dumps water into a cup). Do you want cinnamon on your cappuccino? Oh that would be great." (dumps more water into cup)
No idea where he learned about cappuccino since I only drink lattes. I do put cinnamon on them, but still...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Super San Francisco and Sonoma

After a quick turn around back home, J and I headed out to Sacramento/Grass Valley area to visit with B's mom for a few days. J loves the farm and he was super psyched about the newest addition, Beach. Beach is an older horse dying for some company. They are currently looking into that, but until Beach gets a friend, he is going to be content with neighing at the neighbor's horse. Especially between 4 and 5 am. Not my favorite time of day. J even yelled at the horse one morning, shouting, "What's all that noise about horsie?"

L gives J a ride on his tractor

J enjoyed a playdate with a three year old, M. The two of them were so cute together. They spent about 2 hours running all over the place collecting and cracking eggs, feeding chickens, petting the goats, playing with cars and trains, and best of all, blowing bubbles. When they were finally overstimulated, J had a meltdown and M and his dad left. We found out that M wondered why J was crying. When his dad told him it's because he was sad they were leaving, M began to have a meltdown. So cute. They also got together for breakfast later in the week. It's so easy to get along with new people when you're two.

J and M feed the chickens

After a few days on the farm, I headed down to San Francisco for B and M's wedding. I had my first solo driving experience in the city, which I am proud to say I passed with flying colors. I even succeeded in parallel parking on a hill the first time. If you've ever been to SF, you know what I'm talking about when I talk about the hills!

We were very fortunate that B's aunt L offered to let us stay at her house in Mill Valley while she was in NY taking her daughter to college. B flew in later that evening after working. S, one of my nearest and dearest from Colgate, and her husband P also stayed there with us. I had a chance to meet B's cousin W's girlfriend, S, who is a total sweetie and enjoyed the meal I cooked them with the fervor that only a starving college student possesses. We spent the better portion of our first night catching up. I then enjoyed my first night's sleep without neighing.

Friday was an awesome day. We woke up and headed into San Francisco by ferry. It felt so good to be in mid 60-70 degree weather and to be on the water. After a quick walk around fisherman's wharf, we boarded a ferry for a tour of Alcatraz. In all the years we've been to CA, B and I have never done the trip. It was so much fun! I highly recommend doing it because not only is it interesting if you're a crime buff, but also because you get to see what torture these prisoners were faced being so close to civilization but so far away.

Ick. B crouching down in cell block D. Never dare him to do anything.

Their crime? Not sharing enough gin and tonics.

Following our prison tour, we walked around a bit, shared a few drinks, then headed into Chinatown for an early dinner. Since good Chinese food is pretty much non-existent in Texas, I was really jonesing for some good stuff. If you've never had tomato beef chow mein, you are missing out on one of life's greatest meals. Yum.

After that, we walked (about a half hour) down to AT&T Park for the Giants/Padres game. This was a treat from the bride and groom to all of their out of town guests (which was almost everyone). We tried to get a cab, but getting a cab in SF is almost impossible so we ended up walking the whole way. We figured it at least made us out to be rock stars because not only did we do a full day of sightseeing, but we also walked off all of our dinner! The game was fun, but I barely watched any of it. It was such a great setting to see people we hadn't seen in years and to catch up. We finally got kicked out by one of the ushers after the game ended because he wanted to go home. I expect that kind of treatment in NY, but I was surprised by it on the casual coast!

It's been years since the three of us have been together! You'd think I would have worn lipstick.

Saturday was the day of the wedding and it was a glorious day. S and I walked into Mill Valley for coffee and chit chat before we leisurely got ready to drive to Sonoma. The wedding was at Cornerstone Gardens, which is just across the street from Gloria Ferrer, one of our favorite champagne wineries (okay, any champagne place is a fave of mine). Since we had time to kill, we shared some champagne before heading over for the ceremony.

B's wedding was one of the nicest weddings I have ever attended. It seriously could have been detailed in Martha Stewart Weddings. Now I'm not knocking any of the other weddings I've been to, so please don't take offense, but this girl has been to so many weddings, and her fiance was totally an uber-planning groom that they thought of everything. The ceremony was short and sweet and performed by a family friend. The cocktail hour was on the lawn and you were free to roam and enjoy the various gardens. Dinner was under a tent and the food was beautiful California fare paired with local wines from the Sonoma Valley.

B and M
The best part for all of us were the speeches. Both sets of parents toasted the bride and groom and said such kind things, but it was the groom's mom that had every woman in the tent weeping. She said that there was a time when M was taking a picture with B and her and said, "These are my two favorite girls." She said, "M, now it's time for you to put B first and I am happy to take second place." Can you imagine a mother in law saying such a thing about the bride? We were all in awe by what she said and had tears in our eyes. The men were all laughing at us, but anyone who has been married knows what it means to get such a nod from the mother in law. And we all hoped our mother in laws were listening at that moment.

The tent

Happy Guests
There was dancing and a fabulous band in the barn following dinner. There were couches and tons of pillows and great mood lighting, and flip flops so that you didn't ruin your heels dancing on the concrete floor. The champagne flowed all night and we danced until the end. It was such a great party and I'm not doing it justice in this blog.

Old friend SM and his wife B

On Sunday J and B's mom joined us in Mill Valley. We took J to the San Francisco Zoo and met up with B's other aunt S. We got to see the giraffes during feeding time, which I thought was fantastic because they were so close to us. J's response? "What's next? I want to see something else." He was fixated on the penguins. I think it's because they're at about his level and he could have stayed there all afternoon encouraging them to dive into the water. We ended the day with more tomato beef chow mein. We headed back to Texas with full bellies.

W reads to J

The elders are amazed by the giraffes

What a cute face!

Aunt S poses with the boys

The final bonus was J got a shout-out from the pilot on the ride home after he invited himself into the cockpit and got to push some buttons. He thinks it's his right to go in there now that he's traveled so much this month.

Whew! Sorry for the long post, but it was such a good time. I think that does it for the weddings and our travel for a little while. That is, after our little jaunt down to San Antonio this weekend. We're going because we got a great deal on one of those time share offers. We have absolutely no intention of buying a time share, but it gives us a good excuse to check out SA. We haven't been there in the almost three years we've been living here, so it should be a good time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I've been thinking about blogging each day since we returned from California last Monday, but I feel like I have so much and yet so little to update everyone on that I've been hesitant to write. I have to admit that all of this travel forced us to unplug for so long that it was actually nice and I didn't really miss email or blogging. Of course, once returned, it was right back on the computer, which just goes to show you how much time I waste.

Two weddings in two weeks is a lot, but we had a great time at both of them. The wedding in Poland was held at a manor house in a town just outside of Krakow. It had a Lord of the Rings theme. All of the invitations and place cards were written in font just as it would have been found in the story. The guest book was handmade paper bound by wood and the guests had to use an ink pen to sign it. The cocktail hour music was from the movies. There was a reading about love (in Polish, so I don't know what they said at all). The table names were characters or places from the stories (we sat at the Frodo Baggins table) and there were maps all over the place. That takes care of the small details.

This hung over the entry way to the dining room

The ceremony itself was shorter than expected, as I was told it could last three hours or so. They went for the shortened, simple mass. One of the different things they do in Poland is the bride and groom walk down the aisle together at the beginning of the ceremony. They are lead by two ring holders (it doesn't matter if they are boys are girls, but they were girls in this case. In fact, the one girl wailed the entire way down the aisle, which was actually pretty funny). After the ceremony, there were cocktails and some traditional speeches and offerings. A loaf of bread is given to the bride and groom as a symbol of life and prosperity. They each take a bite just as we do from a wedding cake. There was a receiving line, where the guests traditionally give flowers, but the bride and groom instead requested that we give donations to a children's hospital (this is what it said on the invitation!). There was a toast after the reading from The Lord of the Rings followed by a glass breaking. The only problem was that they don't believe in protecting themselves from shards of glass and they just threw it on the floor in front of all of their guests! This wasn't the smartest thing I've seen done at weddings, though not necessarily the dumbest either.

The abundance of food was the most impressive part of the wedding. First there was a sit-down meal which consisted of an appetizer (salmon salad), soup (some type of broth), dinner (traditional pork, pierogi, potatoes, vegetables), and dessert (mousse, chocolate, fruits). About an hour after that, an enormous buffet of traditional Polish dishes was offered. It included various fish dishes and salads and homemade desserts and pastries. The barbecue opened an hour after that where you could have pork, sausage, and chicken. The wedding cake was served about an hour after that. The last course came around 2 am and was a venison stew. I'd never had venison before and it was delicious. All of this food, complete with an open bar, gave us no choice but to dance until 5 am. We caught a ride home when the sun was just coming up.

Lovely salmon appetizer

K's cousin and his fiance' were making fun of all my picture taking, so they helped me out a bit to make sure I got pictures of everything

The bride and groom. I guess she is my step sister in law. Strange how that happens and you only meet someone once!

B, D, and their step mom, who was so happy to have all of her "sons" in Poland

Oh and I forgot to mention the lanterns that were sent into the air like mini hot air balloons! I have no idea how this is legal to do, especially since you have no control over where they land, but it really was kind of neat to watch. Hopefully no trees or houses were burned in their descent!

The only real downer to our trip came the day after the wedding. B woke up violently ill and remained that way for about 10 hours. We thought we were going to have to take him to the hospital, which would have been really interesting since it was a Sunday and not all hospitals are open on Sunday (you have to check the newspaper to find out which are open). Thankfully he started to feel better. We think it was a virus. I always say that B always gets sick on vacation. Ask him and he will complain that I always say that, but it really is true!