Friday, April 25, 2003

The Friday Five:

1. What was the last TV show you watched?
CSI. I love the way that show makes forensic science seem cool. Actually to be honest, the last TV show I watched was the People's Court just now. But I was also in the middle of eating lunch, cleaning the kitchen and watching my daughter so that doesn't count.

2. What was the last thing you complained about?
Not having enough time to read. I love being with my daughter, but I would just love an afternoon of curling up on the couch with a good book. Right now, I just squeeze in a few chapters every night before going to bed.

3. Who was the last person you complimented and what did you say?
I told my husband what a great father he is and thanked him for helping so much with our daughter. I'm hosting a Southern Living party tonight, kind of like a Pampered Chef or Tupperware party with really nice things, and he's been great with helping me get ready for that by watching our daughter.

4. What was the last thing you threw away?
The bag and wrappers from my Wendy's lunch. I think I've said before I'm a fat food junkie.

5. What was the last website (besides this one) that you visited?

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I've pretty much gone through an entire Kleenex box in the last day. (Oh, to be journalistically correct, I should say that I went through an entire tissue box ... I don't think Kleenex would be too happy to have me compare their luxuriously soft brand to our not-so-soft, leave-your-nose-red-and-peeling store brand. I should also say right here that if you have an aversion to stories about snot and mucus, you should stop reading).

My allergies have been in high gear for the past month. I think my husband has succeeded in planting every piece of greenery in the backyard that wreaks havoc on the histamines in my body. Every morning, for the first half hour or so, I have to blow my nose to get rid of the build-up during the night. Some days, that's the extent of it. Other days are not so good. It's frustrating to be working around the house, and have to take a break every few minutes to stop the dripping that threatens to move past each nostril and into plain view. On those days, I walk around with a wadded up Kleenex (um, tissue), reminiscent of the elderly. Now from past observations, I know they typically hold onto those tissues to every so often spit God knows what into them, but the look is still the same.

So now, my daughter has come down with something that causes her nose to run, too. I'm not sure if it's allergies or a cold, but it's heart-breaking to hear her gurgling sleep. Last night she woke up five times. As with most of us when we're sick, she can't breath through her nose when it's runny like that (even though I use that plunger thing to suck out what I can). But she also sleeps better with her "chewy" (that's our word for pacifier ... I hate the term "binky"). So during the night, she'll spit out her chewy so she can breathe, but then wake up because it's not in her mouth. Poor thing has been so tired today.

Now, when I have a runny nose, I know how to blow it to get everything out. Babies don't. They rely on us to use that little plunger thing and to always be watching for the first sign of drippage so we can stop it with a quick wipe with a tissue. Sometimes those things work. But what happens most times is that the dripping irritates her nose, so she rubs it with the backs of her little hands, which she then rubs across her eyes and the rest of her face. So she has these little smears of dried mucus on her face (I even saw some on her ears yesterday ... how did that happen?). She's also developed the typical toddler move of curving her tongue up over her top lip to catch the mucus. It doesn't seem to bother her, but it bothers me.

Yesterday was the worst. We were driving to Sam's and she was in the back seat in her rear-facing car seat. I heard her sneeze and thought, That doesn't sound good. I unbuckled my seat belt and turned backwards and called her name to look at me. She looked up and had a large glob of snot hanging down past her chin. My first thought was of a National Geographic special that I saw once where these natives stretched their top lips so much that over time, they dangled down past their chins. Like the good mother that I am, I had a tissue handy and quickly wiped it away.

I must say that I'm pretty impressed with myself. Snot and boogers always made me sick growing up. Not my own, although I never liked looking at it. But if I saw anything of the sort on other people, especially little kids, who seemed oblivious to lots of mucus on their faces, it made me sick. When I was five, I was riding in the way back of my aunt and uncle's station wagon with my sister and my two other cousins. One of my cousins was picking his nose. I tried to ignore him. I guess he got a pretty big one and tried to show it to me. Turning my head, I told him to get it away from me because I was going to get sick. He proceeded to wipe it on his shoe. But since my sister and I were sitting with our backs to one side window with our feet in the middle, and my cousins were leaning against the opposite window, his shoe was in plain view next to my feet. I looked down, saw the booger on his shoe, and threw up all over him. I had always thought that I'd be able to do poopy diapers, bloody knees and even stomach sickness, but that the mucus and snot episodes would have to be handled by my husband. But now that I have my own daughter, the nausea over seeing all that mucus is gone. Of course with other kids, I'm sure it still makes me sick. But not with my own daughter.

I've been trying to show her how to blow her nose by demonstrating what I do. No luck yet, but I'll keep trying. If my allergies keep up like this, she'll have plenty of practice watching me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I can't think of anything to write about. So I'm just going to start typing and see what comes to me. Isn't that how they say you overcome writer's block? Maybe I should do what the guy did in Finding Forrester and copy the first few paragraphs of something someone else has written and then see where my brain takes me.

But I have too many choices of great works that I could copy that it overwhelms me. So I'm just going to keep typing away.

So far, nothing's working. Maybe it's because I type too fast and my brain doesn't have time to catch up. Maybe it's because my life has become so routine that I don't have much to write about. Sure, I just got back from a week-long road trip, but I already wrote about that, and I wouldn't want to repeat it. Most days, I spend my time feeding my daughter, searching for jobs, catching up on my soap, running errands and trying to watch a little Dr. Phil before getting my daughter's dinner ready and planning dinner for me and my husband. Of course, it's not all me. My husband does his share of cooking and helping around the house when he's not studying for his credential.

I've officially become a "domestic engineer." While I wouldn't trade for a moment all the amazing things I've gotten to experience watching my daughter reach her various milestones, I have to say that I miss getting up early and getting ready for a job I enjoy. Not that I had enjoyed my job toward the end, but for a while, I really enjoyed what I did. I miss lunches with grown-ups and talking about things other than whether we need diapers or which car seat we should buy when she turns a year. I miss the deadlines, of buckling down and getting a job done, hopefully with great results. I miss coming up with creative concepts and brainstorming with my co-workers to come up with a winning idea.

For now, I have to hope that I'll find the job that is a perfect fit for me. I have to believe that there's a reason it's taken me so long to find a job. That maybe I was meant to watch my daughter take her first steps or teach her to find her hair, her eyes, her nose. I never knew I'd enjoy motherhood so much, and maybe this time off work has caused me to realize how much I really do like being a mom.

Well, I guess this whole notion of typing until something comes to you worked. At least I got a few ideas out here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

My daughter is walking. I can't believe it. I still remember when she would make breaststroke motions to pull herself across the floor. Now, whenever I go to the bedroom to put something away or go to the kitchen to get a Diet Coke, she's following behind me. This little person who walks with her arms and hands up for balance, walking lightly on the pads of her feet.

And she's so proud of herself. Whenever she catches our eye when she's walking across the floor, she grins from ear to ear.

My favorite part is when she grabs onto my finger with her little hand and we walk around the house, out to the car, to the park or wherever. Just me and my daughter, with her holding onto me. Obviously, she doesn't need to hold onto me, but it makes me feel like she needs me just a little.

So she's walking. I'm sure by her first birthday, she'll be running. She's changed so much this past year. It's a little bittersweet. She's no longer my little baby, although she does still enjoy snuggling up for her last bottle of the day. She's becoming this little being with her own personality. I can't wait to see what's in store for us. Well, I can wait just a little. I don't want her to grow up too fast.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Why is it that when one thing goes wrong in your house, it seems like everything else goes wrong too?

A few days after we got back from our trip, we noticed that the color in the TV looked off. People's faces had a strange green hue, while their hands looked purple. Imagine trying to watch an episode of Trading Spaces thinking, Why are they painting the walls bright yellow? Oh, they're burgundy? Oh, that looks much better.

We realized, after placing the station on the radio channels and seeing a blank background, that it basically looks like two half circles on each side of the screen that have chosen random colors in the form of a rainbow. The half-circle on the right is a negative image of the one on the left ... the left shows a gold circle in the center, a blue-green next and then purple. The one on the right shows a gold circle in the center, with purple next and then a blue-green. Those colors seem to change depending on whether the background is dark or light. So after debating this weekend about whether we should fix it or just get a new one (we wouldn't have debated if the TV was old, but we just got it after we got married less than three years ago), we took it to a TV repair shop. We're hoping the problem is the "degaussing circuit" (I just wanted to say that to sound smart ... I really have no idea what it means), which will just be a $90 fix, vs. a picture tube problem, which would mean we will just have to shell out several hundred dollars for a new TV. We'll know in a few days. For now, we'll just have to use the small bedroom TV to watch American Idol.

But it doesn't end there. The same day that the TV showed its psychedelic colors, I ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher. At lunch, I went to get a bowl out for my daughter's lunch and saw that it was dirty, along with the rest of the dishes. I noticed that the little dishwashing gel packet was still in its unused state and that the door covering the detergent tray was half-open. So I figured that was the problem and I'd just run the dishwasher again. I tried to close the detergent tray door, but it wouldn't close. So I just closed the door of the dishwasher and attempted to turn it on. Nothing. I opened the door, tried to move the detergent tray door to the other side, closed the door again, and tried to turn it on. Nothing. I tried the Pots and Pans cycle, the Power Wash cycle, the Rinse Cycle, even the Power Dry cycle. Nothing. Then I noticed that there was a pool of water at the bottom of the dishwasher, so I tried to just push the Drain button. Nothing. So while we can get by with washing dishes by hand, it's just an annoyance that it happened to go out on the same day as the TV.

Then yesterday, I was putting clothes way and happened to look up in my closet. I noticed these strange brown marks on the ceiling, that reminded me of a time in an old apartment when the pipes burst inside the walls of my closet and ended up dripping water all over my clothes. I called to my husband to see what he thought, and he immediately deduced that it was a leak from our roof. We have been having problems with a leak in the garage that we think is coming from where the chimney connects with the roof. We just hadn't gotten around to getting it checked out. Besides, it hasn't really rained too much. But last week on our trip, I guess it rained here a lot, so that must have caused the leak in the bedroom closet. So now we need to figure out whether we call a roof repair person, our home owner's insurance or Home Depot. Just one more thing to worry about.

They say things happen in 3s, so hopefully this will be the extent of our problems right now. It's just a bummer that our hard-earned tax-return money will have to go toward annoying stuff like this.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

I have a feeling that this blog will be quite lengthy. I’m just hoping that I can remember everything, all the details that made our road trip so special.

Yes, we’re back from our 8-day road trip across country, from sunny southern California to the home of country music, Nashville, Tenn. After a few days of recuperating, it’s time to relive the trip.

We started out at 6 a.m., to get a jump on the commuter traffic. For those who’ve never traveled during rush hour traffic in Orange County, let’s just say that if we’d left any later, we’d still be here by mid-morning. We made pretty good time, and stopped in one of those forgotten towns that are so familiar off our country’s interstates. I took advantage of a local diner to change our daughter’s clothes (we’d left with her in her pajamas, so that she’d be more comfortable and hopefully sleep in the car … she did).

When we got finished changing, my daughter and I met my husband outside. He was talking to one of the locals, a man clearly aged by hard work and lots of cigarettes. I think locals get tired of talking to each other, and when they see newcomers, they make a beeline to tell their life story to a set of virgin ears. He made the obligatory comments about how beautiful our daughter was and proceeded to talk about his own grandkids. Another local woman came up and then talked about what a tyrant her two-year-old granddaughter was and for us to just wait, that we had some hard times ahead of us. Meanwhile, the first gentleman reached in his pocket, pulled out a wad of bills and gave our daughter a dollar. He said he spoiled his own grandkids, he could spoil her too. Not that she knows what a dollar is, but we ended up using it to buy her a souvenir magnet at the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon was the first stopping point on our trip. I won’t even attempt to describe in this blog how amazing this place is. The colors, the contours, the depth and breadth of the place are beyond explanation. We had a great time walking on the trails, looking in the gift shop and just enjoying the view.

We hoped to make it to Gallup, N.M. the first day, but spent so much time enjoying the Grand Canyon, the amazing view of the snow-capped mountains after leaving the canyon, and stopping at this Flintstones campground to take pictures on the tree-log car that we had to stop an hour short in Holbrook, Ariz. Not much to say about the town, except that it must have some claim to fame about dinosaurs because when we left the next morning, we were bombarded with billboards about a dinosaur museum that we just passed. Exit here and turn back on the frontage road, they said.

The next day was pretty uneventful, since we didn’t really have much on the agenda. We wanted to see Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, but ended up passing it without seeing it. We did see some great red rock mesas and mountainous areas in New Mexico, but I have to say that northern Texas is pretty boring. Just flat yellow grasslands as far as the eye can see. We stayed in Shamrock, Texas, again a little short of our goal of Oklahoma City. A few things to note about Shamrock: It’s in a dry county so we couldn’t by our nightly beers to relax after a hard day. But we found a loophole. Our hotel, the Irish Inn, had a lounge that served beer as long as you were staying at the hotel. So we were able to order beers to our room and were pretty happy. The other memorable part of Shamrock was when we drove to the Irish Inn, we passed the main road and had to take a back road around. On the way, we passed the Shamrock Slaughterhouse. It was this little run-down looking place, pretty scary looking to be perfectly honest, especially in the dusky light of the ending day. We joked about how we should take a picture there (we didn’t do it then, but on the way home we stopped to take the picture. Unfortunately, there were cars there, and we were a little scared to get out.)

So the next day, we knew we had a long road ahead of us. We admired the colorful countryside of Oklahoma and Arkansas, with trees in many shades of green, pink and white. We took a detour before we hit Little Rock, to go to Hot Springs. An interesting spectacle that we saw on the way was this kid about 13 years old who was riding his BMX bike. He had on an outfit that showed what my husband calls “Stars and Bars.” No, it wasn’t just a shirt with the rebel flag on it. It was basically what looked like red hospital scrubs with blue stars and an X across the front of the shirt. The pants also contained the stars and bars, so that if he was standing up with his legs together, the X would go from his hips, cross at the knees and end at his ankles. Riding down the side of the road, with half an X on each leg was a pretty funny sight.

I must say that Hot Springs is such a great place. The interesting thing is that Hot Springs National Park is right in the middle of the city. It’s like you’re driving down the middle of town, which is really quaint with its antique shops and cafes and such, and then you look up and see the road rising right up from the middle of downtown to this amazing wooded area that overlooks the city. We didn’t visit the bathhouses, but we want to go back there someday to spend a little more time in that town. Being pressed for time (we needed to get to Nashville by the weekend so we could see my parents before Monday when they had to go back to work), we just took some great pictures and kept on.

We knew we weren’t going to make it to Nashville at a reasonable time, so we spent the night in Memphis and headed out early the next morning. If it had just been my husband and I, we would probably have visited Beale Street to take in some great blues music. But that’s not such an appropriate place for a nearly one-year-old baby, so we just ordered pizza in our room and went to bed early. Besides, we’ve been down to Beale Street, visited Graceland and Sun City records before, so it’s not like we’d never experienced the home of Elvis.

We had a good visit with my parents, who oohed and awed over how much our daughter had grown since Christmas and about how smart she is. We had some great barbeque at Dave’s, and visited the Parthenon, which is a life-size replica of the Greek structure, that was built for Nashville’s centennial in the 1700s. Pretty interesting.

When we left on Monday, we decided to make some good time, so we’d be home by Wednesday night. We made it almost to Oklahoma City. We enjoyed some beautiful weather, with highs in the 80s. So the next day, I dressed in sandals and a short sleeved shirt to beat the heat. That day, driving through Oklahoma and Texas, we started feeling some really strong winds that made driving a little difficult. We stopped at the Big Texan, home of the 72 oz. steak, in Amarillo, Texas. It’s pretty much like a hunting lodge with heads of deer, elk, moose and all other kinds of wildlife hanging throughout the restaurant, and an open grill for their steaks and other beef specialties. When we left, the weather had definitely gotten colder. A few miles outside of town, we finally saw Cadillac Ranch, a group of cars nose down in the ground with their tail fins rising in the air. We took pictures, but almost got blown away from the high winds that had kicked up.

As we continued through Texas, the sky on each side of us was a threatening gray color, with streaks of lightening intermittently crossing the sky. At times we thought we saw the clouds forming in shapes that looked suspiciously like the beginning of tornadoes. We never really went through the massive rains that we could clearly see in the distance, but the winds did their best to push us off the road. Luckily my short arms are strong and my little Jetta came through for us and got of out of the storm.

We took a detour before hitting Albuquerque to go up to Santa Fe. We drove out of the dreary weather into the blue skies of the mountains. It was definitely colder up there, but we enjoyed the sunshine and the lack of gusting winds. Until we hit Santa Fe. On the outskirts of town, the wind picked up again, and we saw light snow flurries. The interesting thing is that once we entered downtown Santa Fe, the sky cleared and the sun shone down to make everything look clean and bright. It was like someone wanted us to see Santa Fe in its best light. The little adobe town is such an eclectic and artsy place that we definitely want to spend more time in in the future.

As we left Santa Fe, we stopped at a gas station to fill up before heading to Grants, N.M., our next stop for the night and an hour out of Albuquerque. The snow flurries had started up again, so I hurried in to change our daughter’s diaper, while my husband pumped gas. As I came out of the restroom, I looked outside and saw a blizzard of snow coming in sideways. My husband and I look at each other and just made a run for it. My daughter laughed the whole time. I’m not sure if it was from the snow, from us running or our screams of “It’s so cold!”, but she had a great time.

As we headed back into Albuquerque, we experienced even stronger winds than in Texas. Debris was flying all over the road. We half expected the cow from the movie Twister to come floating by. But we made it safely to Grants, and snuggled into our hotel room for the night. The next morning on the news, they showed footage of Texas and New Mexico, with trees overturned and damage from tornadoes. Schools and businesses had been closed early because of the winds. We really felt lucky that we’d made it through without a scratch.

On the last day of our trip, we realized that my daughter’s tolerance level of sitting in a car seat for days is about 7 days. Since this was the 8th day, she’d had it. She cried every time we tried to put her in her car seat, and we had to work really hard to keep her entertained: “What about this toy? No? What about this one? Do you want to read a book? How about if we sing a song? Do you want a cookie? Oh, good. Oh, do you want another one? How about a nap? Do you mind if I take one?”

But it wasn’t all bad. We stopped at the Painted Desert, where our daughter enjoyed walking around, holding onto the stone ledges as she enjoyed her freedom from her carseat. We also stopped at the Meteor Crater, a hole nearly a mile across and 500 feet deep that was caused by a meteor thousands of years ago. There our daughter saw a black lab, and answered for the first time our question of what does a doggie say? “Raa, raa” was her answer. That’s right, we said. Ruff, ruff. She then got excited about a group of kids who came to see the crater, and she squealed in delight, waving and bouncing up and down. This actually was part of her routine whenever she saw any stranger on the trip, which definitely endeared her to many.

We stopped in Williams, Ariz. to get some dirt and souvenirs for my husband’s great aunt, who, along with my husband’s grandfather and uncle, is from there. We saw a lot of snow through the town and on the way out, which still seems amazing to me, since we’re almost at the end of April.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We got stopped by some pretty lengthy road construction in Barstow, Calif. But we made it home by 8. Exhausted and dead tired, we brought in just what we needed for the night, put our daughter in her pajamas and relaxed on the couch, happy to be home.

While the trip was long, we had a good time. We had our bickering moments, our daughter had her wired moments in the hotel room after a long day’s ride, and we spent a ton of money in gas (especially in California … why do California’s gas prices average $2.10, when the rest of the country is less than $1.50?). But we saw a great part of our country, places we’d never been. We saw colorful characters, deserted villages and beautiful scenery that would make great elements for a great story one day.

We’ve already talked about what our next road trip will be. Up the West coast through San Francisco, through Portland, Ore., through Seattle, Wash., and up to Vancouver. I think we still have a little recuperating to do before then, though.