Friday, January 26, 2007

Toilet Training Updtate

The one with the poop wins.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Loan Owners Once Again

You know when you want something for so bad for so long that when it happens it doesn't even seem real? That's been the case with our desire to buy a house since we landed back in southern California 8 years ago. With the crazy market and home prices more than doubling in just a few years, we felt completely shut out of the market. We were lucky enough to be able to rent a decent house in a decent neighborhood (in a great school district) from our more-than-generous landlords, aka Mom and Dad. Still, the house wasn't ours, it didn't fit us, and we finally outgrew it.

Late last year we decided that it was time for us to start looking again. A lot of angst followed as the husband fell in love with every house we saw and I couldn't bring myself to pull Julia out of her beloved elementary school to move into any of them. Childhood scars take a long time to heal. I just couldn't picture our family in any of the ones we saw. Finally we found one, and it had been sitting under our noses since before we started looking. Once we realized that any house we could afford in the neighborhood we like would need at least $100,000 in remodeling, it became apparent that this one, right around the corner, in the neighborhood we maligned and hated for 8 years was the one. The remodeling has been done, the kitchen has been updated, the kids love the pool and the backyard (no more having to listen to "Mommy, why can't we have a pool, too?"), and it looks like everything is going smoothly for us to close escrow on it in a couple of weeks. We'll be in the same neighborhood, but at least we're moving a couple of streets away from the crazy people who surround us now. And I don't mean crazy in the let's-have-a-couple-of-drinks-and-have-a-roaring-good-fun sense. I mean crazy in the damn-the-cops-are-here-again-and-I-wonder-whose-house-they-are-
going-to-this-time sense.

So now we will owe more money than we can conceive of to the bank. My days of carefree recreational shopping are over. We will be spending hand over fist to make this house our home. And we don't care. Of course, stress abounds. I have no clue how I'll get our house packed and moved. A Dumpster will need to be dispatched. Babysitters will need to be hired (wouldn't it figure that our on-call babysitter, Grandma Goob, will be moving into her own mansion in a couple of weeks and will more than have her hands full). It will get done somehow.

Once we're in, you're all invited over. At some point, there will be a giant table for scrapping and I hope to see the pool full of kids and friends all summer. Beth & Kim, you're invited to help decorate and do projects. I'll provided the margaritas. We need lots of great decorating ideas and help picking out paint colors, etc. The rest of you, just pray we all survive the stress and the move. And if we all survive, see you soon in our new house!!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What I Learned at The Price Is Right

My husband, who has a Master's Degree and is a Vice President at the company where he works, is also a rabid fan of The Price Is Right. He's watched this show since he was a child and has now turned our kids into fans as well.

As long as we've lived in LA, however, he'd never been to see a taping of the show. That all changed yesterday. For Christmas, a good friend of ours was able to get us VIP tickets to a taping. Miraculously, Ray was able to get the day off work, I was able to secure babysitting and rides for the kids and we spent the day together watching the taping, and doing more stuff I'll tell you about soon. Our airdate is February 26th; look for us in the second row, clapping and cheering our little hearts out. Here's what I learned as we watched people come on down:

  • Bob Barker is a stud! No, really. He looks great, moves well, and is pretty sharp with a comeback. Granted, he probably says the same stuff to audiences every single day, but still...
  • The Price Is Right Studio is small and FREEZING. Seriously freezing. You'd think once the lights come up it would improve. It doesn't. There were crew members wearing gloves and ski jackets.
  • You can be a VIP or a contestant but not both. However, in order to get the regular tickets that give you a chance to get chosen as a contestant, you have to camp out overnight. No thanks.
  • This show moves fast and it's loud in there. It's a miracle people can concentrate on the prizes and their answers what with the noise and the pace and the excitement and the fact that it's FREEZING.
  • Even though it looks like Bob and the contestants are hanging out on this giant stage all by themselves, there are 4 cameras and a ton of people onstage with them. There's a cue card guy, a guy who tells Bob when the commercial break is about to end and counts him back in, and a bunch of people whose function completely escaped me. Not to mention the beauties, who are actually quite pretty.
  • The announcer is a hard-ass. If you are a CBS page, don't piss him off. Also, if you are a CBS page, and an audience member spells her name out for you, all you have to do is write the letters on her name tag in the order that she tells them to you. It is not your job to spell her name the way you think it should be spelled.
  • People exhibit a great deal of originality in order to create T-shirts which they hope will get them selected to Come On Down. Beyond the Barker's Beauties and the We Love Bob shirts, some guy had emblazoned upon him that his wife got spayed and he got neutered. Thanks for the visual, Luigi.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Readers, Weigh In

What do you do?

  1. Buy a pretty great, though not perfect, house in a neighborhood you don't like (i.e. the one I live in now) at a good price or
  2. Keep looking for a similar house in your dream neighborhood, knowing that they are few, far between and will probably be priced higher elsewhere even if you happen to find one
Post your thoughts.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What I Learned at Potty Training School

Oh no. Not another potty training blog post.

Oh yes. Some things, as they say, roll downhill. And if I have to deal with it, then you, my faithful (well, maybe not after this) readers, most likely will too. Needless to say, we still have not achieved the Holy Grail of Potty Training Success.

One of the many things I love about our pediatric practice (home of the beloved Dr. Greene) is their monthly parenting workshops. They are facilitated by my pediatrician's wife, who is a family therapist, her husband, and one or two of the other doctors in the group. In the past I have attended workshops on such topics as discipline (twice) and I knew the subject of potty training was coming around again. Never thinking it would be an issue for us by January, I was sure I wouldn't need to attend again. But there I was Monday night, desperate to glean the one miraculous bit of information that would get us over this hurdle. Here is what I learned:

  • Once you go to underwear, don't go back. Maybe someone should've pointed this out 6 months ago.
  • No matter how big or small the crowd, it is a given that there will be that one annoying parent in it.
  • Preschoolers are way too smart for my own good and they can play you like a violin.
  • Cars and bushes are not the optimal places to go potty.
  • As excited as you may be that your 2 year old achieved potty training success in a week and is now dry day and night and poops in the potty and probably already has a genius IQ to boot, the rest of us don't want to hear about it. Why the hell are you here anyway?
  • I shouldn't nag. What? I might as well chop off my arm. What are mothers for, if not to nag?
  • If you have a 2 week old and a 16 month old and the newborn isn't quite nursing right and the toddler thinks that when his dad pees he can play in it like a fountain, it's probably too soon to start training him, even though your maternity leave ends in 2 weeks. Go home and go to sleep.
  • No matter how bad I want to scream at the trainee, it is ill-advised and I Must Not.
  • I should be so thankful to the gods that he's not twins.
  • My son has a strong will and is testing me. No, really?
  • External forces like grandmas and preschools are dangerous for this delicate process. Never mind that my mom is practically my kids' other mom and my mother in law arrives for a visit tomorrow.
  • Wine helps. This one wasn't actually advocated by the pros, but it's something I've learned from my own experience and felt like I should share.
So here we are again. We've stocked up on underwear: Thomas, Cars and colors "just like Daddy's." I have put a smile on my face and sweetness and patience in my voice (see why I need the wine?) and kept him home from school today so we can get lots of practice. The pee and poop are flowing freely, sometimes even in the toilet. It'll be a rough few days around here but I'm hopeful this time will be the last. I know, we've all heard that one before.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Resolution far

As you may remember, one of my New Year's resolutions was to scrapbook more this year. Last year was a total bust in this area and it would be difficult to do worse this year. But it's fun, important and cheaper than therapy so I do try to get it in when possible.

Last weekend I got a chance to do some playing and I used the opportunity to finish a project that was only a year overdue. A few years ago I found these little Kolo mini-albums that are perfect to make into ornaments. They even have a hole in the back for a ribbon to hang them with. I decided that I'd make a simple album every December to recap the past year's highlights and hang it on our Christmas tree. Easy enough, right? The first two years it worked out great. Last year I got totally swamped and also got stuck on how to do the cover so it sat until last weekend. Never mind that I still have 2006 to do, which I fully intend to before Chritmas 2007. This one is done, cute and special to our family.

The front is sponged with red ink. The photo is one we took when Julia came home from the hospital just after New Year's; it was actually included with the thank you notes we sent to family and friends who were so thoughtful while she was hospitalized. The rainbow is symbolic because around that time she was really into them, just totally loved rainbows. The day she was released from the hospital we saw the most gigantic one ever stretched all the way across the sky. We took it as a sign that everything was going to be OK. The inside pages are very simple and embellished only with stickers, if at all. Because the pages are so small, it's hard enough to get a decent picture on them, let alone anything fancy.

So, there you have it. My first scrapping of 2007 and hopefully not the last!

P.S. Sorry for the wonky scan. The album is fat and my scanner wouldn't close completely.

P.P.S. If you'd like to try your hand at making your own mini-album ornament, I did a write-up about it in the December issue of the View from Untamed. You can take a look here; scroll down to the bottom of the first page, and keep going for a whole lot of other good stuff.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

The New Year has been rung in and we have almost managed to get the confetti out of all the crevices it found its way into. We celebrated with the two families who have recently moved into our cul-de-sac and the goodwill, cheer and pomegranate martinis were flowing freely. No matter how many years pass, I will never forget New Year's Eve two years ago. It was a night of great celebration because Julia was finally moved from her PICU room in the hospital to the regular peds floor. We tried to make it as festive as possible, but the picture of her wearing her pink feather New Year crown and oxygen tubes in her nose will always haunt me. What a blessing to watch her running around this New Year: healthy, strong and NOISY, there is thankfully nothing wrong with her lungs now.

So far, 2007 feels a whole lot like 2006. Kids running around, neglected laundry, and a baby crying himself to sleep(hopefully). Still, it's hard not to have a good feeling about the new year. Hopefully this will be the year that our family will find its new home, preferably without a divorce being the result of house-finding stress. This is also the year that Ray officially starts his new title at work and resumes the godawful commute. May they both be painless and profitable. Since I found out years ago that I pretty much suck at keeping New Year's resolutions, I'm keeping it simple this year by striving to do the following:

  • Be healthier (which includes cook more and sleep more)
  • Scrap more
  • Be a more fun mom and wife
That's it: easy peasy lemon squeezy! With that out of the way, and a little more blogging space to fill, I thought I'd do my part to make the world a better place and help some others who desperately need some resolutions:

Britney Spears: one word: Underwear.
Hillary Clinton: to please spare the American people the blood and gore of any Presidential campaign which includes her and just not run.
George W.: Find a clue, and fast!
Rosie O'Donnell: Shut up.
Barbara Walters: Fire Rosie.
Southern California Homeowners: Sell your homes. The time is now. Preferably to me. Preferably dirt cheap.
The Iranian People: Figure out a way to get rid of your laughingstock baboon of a President before America or Israel does it for you. Really, do we want George Bush taking this on too?
Tannaz: Enjoy the hell out of your new unemployed status and put your new found daily freedom to good use by coming over to hang out with my kids as often as possible. Getting a few articles or a book published would also be good.
Tom Cruise: see Rosie O'Donnell

Everyone Else:
Be good to yourselves and each other. This world is a tough enough place without all the senseless crap that people do to each other. If given the chance to complain about something or actually do something about it, choose the latter. Smile more. Hug your kids, especially when you don't feel like it. Have a great year!