Newton

I got Newton as a birthday present for Brien about five years ago. Brien was dog crazy, but all we had were cats. So, I found some cheap beagle puppies in the paper, and we drove out to a farm on a cold January day and picked him out.

He was independent from the start. He was the only one of the tiny puppies to come up to us, smell us and let us pick him up. He also loved playing with all of his puppy brothers, and I almost felt bad plucking him from his family. But, he became our “baby”.

I wasn’t even sure at first that I liked owning a dog. We never really had one when I was growing up (once, briefly, we had a black lab, but that’s a story for another time), and I wasn’t cut out for all this potty training and sitting and shaking and learning to socialize with the other dogs…it was so much more exhausting than owning a cat!

But, eventually we bonded. Especially when we were moving to California. Brien went ahead of us, and it was just me and Newton for 6 weeks. And, several years later, when I was pregnant, Newton would cuddle by me and put his head on my belly like he just knew that his world was about to be turned upside down by a little wiggly baby, but he was happy for mommy and daddy. And he really was the first baby. We tried so hard not to shut him out once Bowie arrived.

Brien has always had bad allergies. He figured it was the pets, and put up with it for a long, long time. Medication seemed to help. But recently, it stopped helping. And he was having more and more really bad allergy days. So, he went in for an allergy test. And lo and behold, he’s allergic to many things, near the top being dogs. (Strangely enough, he’s not allergic to cats!)

So, we made the decision this past winter to find Newton a new home. Hoping to keep him in the area, we talked to a few friends about it, but nothing seemed to pan out. So, my in-laws have stepped in, and will take him. Back to Wisconsin.

To say we’re heartbroken is an understatement. Really, the only thing that keeps us going is that we know we’ll get to see him whenever we’re visiting in Wisconsin, and we know he’ll be well taken care of. I feel so much better now than I did when I thought we’d have to turn him over to strangers. But still, it’s hard.

I’m trying to learn to live dogless after so many years with a dog, a dog that was so much a part of our everyday lives. It’s going to be quiet around here. Bowie fills a lot of that void, but something about it is so different.

Miss you doggie. Have fun with Grandma and Grandpa!

Red-eyed Newton

Oh, hey blog.

Oh, dear blog, I have neglected you so. Mostly because I’ve been concentrating on some (very minor) writing projects, and, um, generally just being lazy.

Most exciting thing in my life right now? We have our giant medical bill sum down to one bill, $300. I am SO PROUD of us. I don’t want to get into how much we owed, so as to avoid any kind of “my bills were so much more stressful than yours, count your blessings!” discussions. But, it was a grand total, and one that we had to pay of slowly, slowly, slowly.

Hubbs and I have been reading this book, and we are CONVERTS. I mean, big time. Basically, this guy lays out a really simple plan for getting out of debt, even if you don’t make that much money, and staying out of debt, and we are pretty pumped. If you’re having money woes, I suggest a looksie at this book. It has changed everything—the way we think about money, the way we handle money, the way we talk about money, everything.

Part of the program to is just to go heads down and do any work you can to contribute to the family income, so I have been taking on some kind of tedious, but PAYING writing jobs, and almost nothing else is getting done. In fact, as I sit and type to you, I am really supposed to be doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, sorting through old bills, scooping the kitty box and a hundred zillion other things.

In other news, yesterday the picky eater was eating whole wheat pasta (plain, but still), avocados, pepperoni (on pizza, but still) and salsa (no idea why this one works for him).

I also wanted to let you guys in on the diaper scandal. (If you’re a cloth diaper, this probably won’t interest you, sorry!) Up until a month or so ago, I always got Pampers in the big packs from either Target or Babies R Us. To save some scratch, I decided to try the Target brand, Up and Up diapers. But they kept leaking. So, I ordered a big box of Pampers from Amazon for a really good price. Turns out? Not every Pamper is created the same! These were the same type, same style, same size, but a much much much different diaper.

I mentioned this to a friend, whose sister works at Kimberly-Clark (they make Huggies, but it’s all the same). She says, the diapers they make for different retailers are actually different from each other. It’s all about the cost. You’re saving money buying them at Costco or Wal-Mart or Amazon, but the retailer is saving money buying cheaper diapers from the diaper manufacturer! Scandalous! So, my advice, hand over the extra dough for a decent diaper.

End of Naps?

We’re phasing out Bowie’s nap.

Before you write me off as a total masochist, you must understand, this was in response to our days beginning at 4am and ending at 10pm. The kid (read: mommy and daddy) needed his sleep to be during the dark hours. It just seemed like his schedule needed some outside help.

This transition has certainly not been without its troubles. Every day he’s in a different mood, and I have to try to assess whether he needs a quick snooze or not. Usually of four things happens:

1. He takes a short nap right after lunch, has a good afternoon and goes to bed on time.

2. He doesn’t take a nap at all, has an okay afternoon, falls asleep in his high chair eating dinner and thusly goes to bed early. And gets up early the next morning.

3. He acts like he doesn’t need a nap, but then falls asleep late in the afternoon on his bedroom floor or the couch or my lap and I have to wake him up, guaranteeing myself a crappy afternoon.

4. He acts like he needs a nap and asks to lay down in his crib, but then doesn’t nap, has a terrible afternoon, and screams and cries until bed time.

Today is shaping up to be a number 4. But, promisingly, yesterday was kind of a 2, but he stayed up until his regular bedtime. Making me think, he’s getting this. Maybe? Hopefully?

When did your children stop napping? Was it on their own, or did you have to help?

Trying to Stay Strong

I waited 5 months after getting laid off to file for unemployment. I suppose I thought that I could find a job right away (even in a recession?) and I suppose I was embarrassed to be in need of public assistance. But, thing is, we really needed the money.

So, now I’m going to the slew of meetings they make you attend, which I’m sure you’re familiar with if you’ve ever been on unemployment, at least in California.

This morning was a job-finding workshop. Aside from the woman complaining about her 11 hour days to a room full of people who don’t have jobs, the session was motivating and informative.

She mentioned at the end that with all the rejections and frustration, we should not allow ourselves to get depressed, because it was a road with no end. You end up curled up in bed, never finding work.

Well, that info would have been so helpful 6 months ago. As I said in an earlier post, I am there. I am what they call down in the dumps. Taking rejection after rejection and not having enough money to pay bills and facing the terrible realization that I did not network or update my resume enough while I was still employed, well it has a very deteriorating effect on your fighting spirit.

Year 31

Today, I turn 31. Not a big deal, I suppose. Last year was really the big year.

But, thinking of myself ten years ago makes me laugh. 21. Who knew the mixed up little beer-guzzling band bunny I was back then would turn out to be the wife and mother I am today? My 21 year old self would be so bored with me. Just goes to show people DO change, they change all the time!

For fun, I dug up some journal entries from year 21, like I did last year (which you can’t see because we’re still cleaning up from the data loss, but I hope to have that post back up very soon).

This is a good one: “The next day [after my birthday] I watched C’s plane until I couldn’t see it anymore and I felt like dying. This long distance thing is really getting to me. I have to go to UWEC next year because I signed a lease, but so help me God, if I don’t graduate in a year, I’m quitting school, moving to Indiana and getting a full time job”.

Hahahahahahahahaha. Oh my. All that for a boy who never respected me and bowed to kiss his parents’ feet when they told him I was ruining his college career (hello, I was in the same relationship, and my grades were fine!). I ended up breaking up with him the following fall and going to school for 3 ½ more years. And thank God. I have a degree that I actually like using. And Indiana? INDIANA? What was I thinking?! No disrespect to anyone who lives in Indiana, it’s just…not for me. I can’t believe just 10 years ago, I thought the sun rose and set in his stupid steel toed boots (that he wore for no reason, he didn’t even have a job at McDonald’s back then).

This one is fun. Written while I was reading Bridget Jones’s Diary, can you tell? “Calls from boyfriend: 3, with one more promised later. Fingers smashed in car door: 3. Hours of sleep last night: 4. Classes attended: 1 of 3. Hours of sleep after class: 2. Diet Cokes: 3. Level of gladness that I skipped class: infinite.”

Four hours of sleep?! I’d never make it on that nowadays. Four calls in one day from the boyfriend? I didn’t have that kind of time back then, did I? And 2 classes skipped in one day? Good lord, no wonder it took me 6 years to get a Bachelor’s degree. Sheesh, girl! But, I guess now at age 31, I’m no worse for the wear, right?

P.S. I have the same birthday as my good friend N. Happy birthday hon!

Me and Exercising

We don’t really mix. The story is really just that I spent about 97% of my 3 decades on this planet not being required to work out. I was definitely that girl you hated because she could scarf down a McDonald’s value meal three times a week and not gain an ounce. Of course, I did gain a small amount of weight in college, the Freshman Ten or So. But then it stopped there.

Fast forward to now. I work at home, and have been careless about my computer-side treats. (Let’s just say, I haven’t quite kicked the McDonald’s habit yet. Not three times a week anymore, but really no amount is good.) And I have taken to having a glass or two of wine every night to kill the buzz in my head from my day. (Also, admittedly, not healthy at all.)

I am tipping the scales at 30 pounds heavier than before I got pregnant. No, make that 30 pounds heavier than I was 4 MONTHS POST PARTUM. That’s right, I can’t even blame having a baby for this one. I breastfed, which made me drop the baby weight like SNAP! But, SAHM life made me gain it all back like S-N-A-P….(get it, it’s lumbering along because I’m fat).

So now, I’m that 30 something who needs to work out. But, I loathe running, and even if I wanted to give it a try again, helloooo it’s really hilly here, no thanks. I like aerobics and dancing and that kind of stuff, but good luck finding time to do that with a toddler around.

Here’s the situation right now: I’m taking long walks on some mornings, the hubbs takes care of the kiddo. And I’m hopping on the Wii Fit on other mornings, which seems to keep kiddo entertained and he stays out of my hair. The goal is to lose a few pounds a week until we’re back on track. Then, I just hope I can commit so we don’t end up back in this fat place again.

A Call for Kiddo Food Ideas

Food isn’t the four-letter word it used to be in our house. (I mean, in regards to our toddler son. My husband and I LUUUURV food, in all shapes, colors, sizes and forms, mkay?) Bowie is eating a plethora of new things (including cheese tortellini and eggs!). Stuff he wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole just 2 weeks ago.

BUT, I’m out of ideas. I mean, I know what he likes to eat, and I make that for him all the time. But, I’m not sure what new foods to introduce or re-introduce. Here’s what he’s totally into right now (and please RELAX, I buy it all at Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s):

mac and cheese

chicken nuggets

edamame

rice

berries, well fruit in general

toaster pastries (fancy word for Pop Tarts)

pita bread

almond butter & jelly sammies

cereal bars

Yo Baby

crackers

pretzels

On a really good day, he’ll also eat:

pasta

scrambled eggs

Pirate’s Booty

raisins

grilled cheese

I want to expand this list. So I’m not rotating the same foods all week long. And also, what types of recipes can you make for the whole family that a toddler might also deign to eat?

Routine? What’s that?

Funny thing about parenthood: just when you get into a routine, and you think you’ve got it all down, kiddo goes and changes the routine, and you once again have no idea what you’re doing.

For the better part of last week, Bowie didn’t nap. He napped yesterday, so I know we’re not crossing the totally napless threshold, but it’s not looking good.

When he doesn’t nap, it’s certainly not because he isn’t tired. The long, screaming, crying, whining afternoon is proof of that. And have you ever tried to keep a toddler busy for 13 straight hours? It’s, well, a challenge.

Also new in our house is the Diaper/Clothing Change Avoidance. Whenever he sees me coming with a diaper and wipes or an outfit, he runs the other way shouting, “WAIT!” Which would be super cute except no, sweetie, we can’t wait to change your diaper, it’s full of stinky poo that’s going to give you a horrible rash. And we have to put on the pajamas now because sweet baby Jesus, it’s bedtime. I’ve had to use all my strength to hold him down with one arm while wrangling a diaper and some clothes on with the other had.

And, ok, guess what else? Nothing in the kitchen is safe anymore. We baby-proofed the important stuff. Well, the stuff he could reach anyway. Only, now? He can reach EVERYTHING. Including items on the counter, and in the knife drawer. (Oh yeah, good thing I was paying attention that day.) At any given moment you’ll find about 30 DVDs, all the chips and crackers and all my pots and pans strewn about the house. Picking it up is useless, because it only takes him about 2 minutes to recreate the mess.

That’s life with a toddler. One day, you’re supermom, and you know exactly what to do and when to do it. The next day you’re a complete mess because you have spent the whole day running after the kiddo to change him, then to get something dangerous out of his hands, then to change him again, then to deal with his sleep deprivation tantrum regarding the cookies he found in the cupboard that you won’t let him have. Oh Bowie, let’s get past this Terrible Twos thing, shall we?

Reputation

So, for three summers during college, I was a ride operator at an amusement park.

Ahem. No, not a carnie, those people travel. We were in the same, permanent spot. Haha.

So anyway, one of the rides I worked on was the diesel engine train, which was a blast to drive but also one of the more technical rides to operate in the park. And everything had to be timed just so. There were a ton of crossings that were operated by hand, so there was a lot of whistle signals and walkie talkies and the whole process was down to a science.

There was this one particular crossing near one of the entertainment stages, and at night it was tempting to go up and watch the show for a minute, to kill the boredom. But, you had to have your ears wide open for the whistle, so you could open the gate.

One night, a girl didn’t hear it, and the train crashed into the gate. Which was like a BIG deal. MAJOR deal. She didn’t lose her job, but it was not pretty for her record.

Anyway, she recently friended me on Facebook. And she’s all grown up now, just got married, is a graphic designer, sells handbags, lots of interesting stuff.

But, to me, she’s always “the girl who let the train crash into the gate”. I just cannot shake it.