Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sparky the Napless Wonder Child


If the kid so much as blinks slowly in the car when we're running errands, it resets her nap clock so hard that she refuses to sleep until about, oh 5:30, despite the fact that she is so tired she's literally reeling around the hotel room. And the more tired she gets, the more ill-behaved she becomes, and the more short-tempered I become. I just want the kid to lie down for 10 minutes so I can make some phone calls to try to find her a pediatrician - is that too much to ask?

Today I even resorted to bribery - "you get a special treat (code for M&Ms) if you lay down for 10 minutes, and we'll watch a video when you get up .... IF YOU DON'T OPEN THE DOOR TO YOUR ROOM." 15 seconds after I left the room, she's standing in the hallway, shit-eating grin on her face. Needless to say, the M&Ms will not be making an appearance, and I'm seriously considering sending Barney to his room for the rest of the week.

On the positive side, while she's been puttering around and falling over she figured out how to put on her Crocs, making this the first time she's ever managed to don an item of clothing without assistance. And I found a new web site that was good for at least a couple giggles:

Check out the archives - there are a couple of doozies in there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Well, you don't see THAT every day

After a lovely morning at the zoo and with Liza safely asleep in the backseat so she wouldn't steal my fries, I made a quick stop at Burger King for lunch. The guy took my order over the intercom, and when I pulled up to the window to pay I was greeted by a normal-looking guy wearing a Burger King polo shirt with a nametag saying "Rob." So you can imagine my surprise when the (hairy) arm that reached out to take my money was sporting a large princess-cut diamond engagement ring and inch-long nail extensions painted in a nice neutral French manicure. Yes, I checked, and the arm did indeed belong to "Rob," who otherwise would have ranked pretty high on my list of People Who Don't Look Like Off-Duty Drag Queens.

There's got to be a pretty good story behind that manicure (possibly involving lots of alcohol and a really bad gambling mistake), but unfortunately I couldn't even work up the courage to ask him where he'd gotten it done. That would be a heck of a sociology experiment - show up to work with a manicure and see how people respond to the incongruity. I think Jason should give it a try when we get back from Easter, don't you?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Scenes from a hotel

I've been knitting like a maniac, finishing projects so fast that I swear I'm actually going to run out of projects BEFORE we move into the house. That's a good excuse to allow myself to buy new yarn, right? Right?
Patterns from:

That tank top is made of yarn spun from bamboo fibers ... thanks to the properties of the fiber, it drapes like a dream (note to self: only wear sweater when willing to suck in gut continuously) and weighs about twice what you'd think it should. You could smother small animals with that thing, I'm telling you. If I had enough money and time to make a dress out of the stuff, I wouldn't be able to stand up under its weight.

Meanwhile, let it be noted that if I hear several minutes of strange rustling noises coming from the living room, I'm likely to find a scene like this:
Yes, those are the leftover grocery bags we're saving to use when we clean out the cat box. At least she grabbed the unused ones ... which we now store on top of the refrigerator.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Desperate measures

We've only been in the hotel for a week, and already I've had to resort to the tried-and-true hack called "stick tape to the floor to make roads and parking spaces for toy cars." First we made the big square, and we killed at least five minutes following directions (jump into the square, jump out of the square, dance in the square, walk on the square, throw the ball into the square, kick the ball out of the square, etc.). Then we brought in the cars and spent at least 10 minutes driving them around the square, to which I added a feeder road and a shortcut, plus some parking spaces.

She was so into it that she decided she had to try it out with her toy stroller ... not too successful, but at least it was more interactive than another Barney video.

And when she got bored with the cars and the stroller, peeling up the tape kept her occupied for another five minutes or so. All in all, it was a great way to spend that dead zone between dinner and bath time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Now we've done it

Bought a house, that is. Yep, the split-level that's four blocks from our first house is now our fourth house. Home inspection is set for Saturday, and I'm in negotiations with two mortgage companies for the best possible rate on the planet. I love the fact that even with the original rates we were quoted, our house payment is now going to be about $200 less than it was in Kentucky. I also love the fact that with a 15-year mortgage, we'll have the house paid off before the kid goes to college (unless she turns out to be one of those geniuses who goes to college at age 7). That makes planning for her college fund a little easier!

Today has been a day of frenetic back-and-forth calls with realtors, home inspectors, mortgage companies, relocation coordinators, moving companies, and various spouses and parents and such. I can't believe I managed to make all those calls while the kid was awake - true, she watched the same Elmo video three times in a row, but she was remarkably good about not whining for more juice and more crackers and Elmo no Barney no Elmo no Barney ... I guess that's what actually getting enough sleep will do for you.

She's still been having sleep issues on and off (not that I can blame her - I don't think any of us has actually slept through the night in about two months), which really sucks when we're trapped in a hotel room. Especially since she can get her door open, and she likes to wander around the room in the dark asking for crackers and Barney. That's fine until she does a faceplant on the edge of the coffeetable and splits her lip open at 3am, which is what she did Monday night. Let's just say I'm glad the sheets and carpet aren't mine to have to clean up when we leave.

Anyway, last night she slept through until about 5am, then silently wandered into our room and tried to climb in bed with us. Jason got her some juice and crackers, turned on the light in her room, and told her to play in there until we told her it was time to get up. She came back to us a couple of times, and the last time I set her timer (the one we use to keep bedtime under control) for half an hour and told her to stay in there and play until the beeper went off. And she did! It was like a miracle and will probably never happen again, but that extra 20 minutes of half-sleep made all the difference in my ability to not use duct tape as a parenting tool. Then she crawled into bed with me, gave me a big hug, and said, "Mama angry?" I guess that Barney video about emotions is actually getting through to her. I told her that I wasn't angry, I was very happy that she had let us sleep longer, and she said "Mama happy!" and gave me a big hug again and fell asleep on me. So that's why people have more than one of these little urchins ...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Can't write much ...

... because the kid's been asleep for two hours and could wake up at any moment, and I've already been online for more than an hour at whatever the hotel's local phone rates are, and I may have to kill myself if I sit through loading one more agonizingly slow page via the AOL dialup access we have temporarily. Gahh.

On the positive side, I'm getting a lot of embroidery done while I wait for pages to load. Thank goodness for mindless, easily interrupted craft projects.

Well, we're here. It only took a six hour car trip (car stuffed to the gills with everything except for the one Barney DVD the kid was obsessed with that got accidentally left at home in the player ... oops) and a couple of days to settle into our new digs. The cats have finally come out of the three-quarter-crouch skulking position, and Liza has started saying "bye bye hotel" whenever we get ready to leave the room. We may have found a house - Jason's ready to make an offer, while I'm still staring at blank walls in the hotel room trying to figure out if we can make most of our furniture fit in the house without applying a chainsaw anywhere. Ironically, this house is about four blocks away from our first house, the one on Luann Drive, the one with ugly yellow siding and powder blue shutters and a family of 8 raccoons living under our hot tub. Luckily, this one is hot-tub-free, isn't yellow, requires no stripping of wallpaper or tearing up of ugly carpet, and has a ridiculously large backyard. Jason's already shopping for a riding lawn mower. Anyway, take a look:

Okay, back to my redwork. More to come, including possibly photos of the house(if I go insane and try to load them ... they'll be more like thumbnails if I do, because I'll be darned if I'm going to spend $1,000 on phone bills this month)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Last video before we're in dial-up land

She loves those castle blocks ...

Final shots

Kiddo has discovered the wonders of being on the small screen ... but she forgets that she needs to pose first, THEN run around and look at the screen on the back of the camera. So I keep getting all these photos of her attacking the camera, trying to see herself in the viewfinder.
So I have to catch her unawares.

And the cat, well, her I just have to lure with offers of petting and high-calorie treats. Works every time!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Househunting with a toddler

Househunting is tedious enough without having to drag a crumb-covered urchin in and out of a carseat 1,400 times in one day. Here are some tips from our experience this weekend that may help you get through the experience relatively unscathed:
  • Tell your real estate agent in advance if there are any qualities in a house that are definite "musts" or definite "avoids." For example, if you are absolutely unwilling to buy a house that has an inground pool, make sure your real estate agent knows that. And if the house absolutely has to have four bedrooms, don't even bother getting out of the car for a 3-bedroom house, no matter how nice the photos look online.
  • Time your house hunt for your toddler's best time of day. In our case, she's usually pretty flexible in the mornings, but is an absolute horror in the afternoon. So we looked at houses from 10-1, and she fell asleep in the car seat for the last few houses.
  • If your child has a hard time adjusting to new people, make sure you let the realtor know to keep her distance. Nothing gets the day off to a worse start than some stranger swooping in to try to kiss a kid who takes time to warm up to new people. Can you say, "instant meltdown?"
  • Explain to your toddler what you're doing, even if you think they're too young to understand. Ours isn't even two yet, but we told her we were going to look at lots of houses to see if we would like to live there. She couldn't touch anything inside the houses, and she had to be extra careful on stairs. And every time we went inside a house, we'd ask her, "Do we touch anything in this house?" and she'd yell, "NO! NO TOUCH!" and run around pointing at things she couldn't touch. Your results may vary :)
  • Try to look at vacant properties first, and take the kid inside with you to run around. With most vacant properties, you only have to worry about keeping the kid away from stairways, not stairs and breakables and choking hazards and the owners' kids' toys. This gives you more time to focus on the house, and more time for the kid to burn off some energy. We put Liza in charge of testing the "danceability" of each of the rooms. She's a champion at that.
  • Take lots of snacks, preferably ones that don't leave nasty messes behind them. Chocolate? Not a good idea. Pretzel sticks? Better choice. And stick with colorless juice or water in the sippy cup, so you don't have to worry about staining somebody's carpet the first time your attention is elsewhere.
  • When the kid starts to get testy, take them outside asap. We managed to get through two houses with Liza in tow the first day before she wigged out, but the second day she made it through about six before she lost it. When she did lose it, one of us sat in the car with her while the other one checked out the house. If that person liked the house, we switched and the other person got to check it out.
  • Three words: "Personal DVD Player" Stick the testy toddler in a carseat, set up the dvd player, and throw a Barney video in. That will get you at least another couple of houses before the meltdown resumes.
  • And if you think your child is REALLY going to hate the whole process and you can't find anyone to watch them for you, take two cars so that one of you can leave with the banshee while the other one looks at houses. Anything that person really likes, the other parent can view at a later time.

Sunday, March 11, 2007



Yep, this whole moving this is for real. House went on the market on Tuesday night, first appraisal was Wednesday morning, first showing was on Thursday afternoon, open house was Sunday afternoon, first "second visit" was Sunday evening. We're living on borrowed time at this point ... 60 days from last Tuesday, the relocation company buys our house from us (if no one else has bought it already) and we're officially homeless.

Which is why we spent a long weekend looking at houses in Cleveland. At this point we still haven't decided whether to live on the east side (near Jason's job, but far from the areas where we've lived before) or west side (near our friends and doctors/dentists/etc., but farther from the job), so we have to look at houses in both areas. We're trying to spend less money on the next house than we will make on our current home, which unfortunately puts us at the lower end of the price range for areas we like. Most of the houses we looked at were either really small or ugly, or had tons of ambiance, crappy kitchen. One had a kitchen so crappy, the refrigerator was actually in the hallway outside, which was so narrow you couldn't open the fridge door all the way.

Jason and I used to joke around that our first house was the best we could find in the "shag carpet and mirrored-ceiling-waterbed" price range. Looks like this time we're in the "bad wallpaper and/or ugly paneling" price range ... not a problem, I can strip wallpaper and paint paneling, as long as the kitchen is good and the price is right.

We were doing all of this hunting with Liza in tow, of course, which was, um, interesting. I'll have to post a list of tips for other parents in a separate post - for now let's just say that the portable DVD player we bought was the best $75 we have ever spent. And thank god for pretzel sticks.

In the end, we found one split level and one colonial that are definite possibilities, assuming we don't mind stripping miles of wallpaper and pulling up acres of carpeting. I think Jason's litmus test for a property is pretty good: "Will you be upset if someone else buys it tonight?" In the case of these properties, I probably wouldn't be heartbroken, but it would annoy me. Definitely a sign we're moving in the right direction.

Meanwhile, we had about 15 couples come through the house on Sunday, with one coming back later that night to look again, but we haven't received any offers. The second appraiser came today to check out the house, so we should have our "buyout" number from the relocation company later this week. And in half an hour the estimator from the moving company is coming to figure out how much of a tractor trailer we're likely to need when we move. And I've got a stack of papers a 1/4" thick that need to be signed and notarized for the relocation company. Back to work!

Greetings, Parenthackers!

Okay, I'm a day late and a few hundred visitors short on this one, but here goes ...

Howdy, folks! Glad to have you here! Please don't let the recent frequent occurrences of the word "puke" throw you off - I guarantee we're not contagious anymore.

I use this site as a way to keep my widely scattered friends and family updated on what's going on in my life, whether it's my kid's latest accomplishments or the annoying thing that happened at the grocery store this morning. Yes, it's a mommy blog, but at least I'm occasionally funny.

Over the next few months I'll be detailing the ups and downs of moving to a new home in a new state with a husband who travels a lot on business and a not-quite-two-year-old who dislikes transitions of any sort. Oh, and did I mention the impending potty training? Yeah, it's gonna be a fun ride. At least, that's what I keep telling myself every night before the sleeping pills kick in ... Anyway, I'm guessing there's going to be at least a few amusing stories in here somewhere, so check back often.

- Gretchen, Mistress of the Puke Bucket

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coming up for fume-free air

What we did this weekend:

Grandma and Liza: Cooked like maniacs to use up some of the food in the fridge, cleaned windows, crocheted
Jason: Taxes, sorted out Star Wars toys, saw Casino Royale, did cleanup work on outside of house, cleaned bathrooms, etc.

Gretchen: Cleaned (and a little crochet)

Family room is done but unphotographed, and kitchen is 75% done (still need to declutter counter and wash outsides of windows). Only have to do the attic, and this sucker is going on the market. Whew!

Puke bucket update

So Friday Liza managed to "decorate" the entire ice cream aisle at Kroger with the contents of her stomach, so we visited the pediatrician that afternoon. As far as the doctor can tell, Liza's been suffering from a post-stomach-virus case of lactose intolerance, which is apparently pretty common. So every time she'd get sick, we'd take her off of dairy products (and most other food), and she'd get better, but about the time we'd reintroduce her regular diet, she'd puke again. Sounded good to me.

Now that we have a diagnosis, all we have to do is make it through two weeks of "complete abdominal rest," otherwise known as "you can't eat anything other than bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast." TWO WEEKS. Which includes one househunting trip to Cleveland, and our move to temporary housing. Oh, this is gonna suck.

My mother is here helping take care of the kiddo while I clean like a maniac, and she's trying her best to be helpful. But when the doctor says "absolutely no dairy products for two weeks," I'm pretty sure that includes butter on cinnamon toast. And when you start talking about making pumpkin muffins for the kid, don't get upset when I remind you that pumpkins aren't bananas, rice, applesauce or toast. It's hard on both of us, because we're both the sort of people who offer food to fix problems, so it's killing us that the kid is sick and we can't even make her proper chicken soup. Plus, I've got a six-pack of organic kid yogurt that we bought during the fateful grocery trip on Friday, all of which we're going to have to pass on to another kid because mine's not going to be able to eat it until sometime next month.

But, at least her appetite is back, and it's not like she's dying or anything. She may want to after two weeks of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, but it's not likely to actually happen.

Finally finished

The skirt, which I talked about here, finally has a matching top. I give you, the Gretchen-designed tank top of doom, which was completely ripped out and restarted at least twice, and is still a little funky on one side, but at least it covers my bra straps and it's done. Hurrah! Now I can move on to that cute little green knit tank top I've been dying to do since Christmas. That'll give me something to do in the hotel room for the next two months, I guess.