Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Party Hair

Last Saturday was a day of birthday festivities for us. Saturday morning we went to the other side of town for my nephew Gavin's first birthday party. Then, in the afternoon, we headed back home to go to a 2-year birthday party for a girl up the street.

I can't believe that Eleanor and Gavin are both one! They both looked so old at Gavin's birthday party. For a week or so, I've been wondering whether Eleanor's hair was long enough to put it up, and we finally decided to try so she could have fancy "party hair." As you can see in the picture (courtesy of Erin, since we haven't uploaded our camera yet), it was pretty fancy, indeed.

I didn't get to put her hair up until we got to Erin and Josh's, so I came armed with all different types of baby hair accessories, not knowing which would work best. Eleanor screamed bloody murder the entire time I was trying to do it, and throwing her head around—which of course only prolonged her torture. But you try reasoning with her! She didn't listen to me.

My mom, of course, found it hilarious. I'm pretty sure she was having flashbacks to trying to do my hair. She kept giggling, and was disappointed when I finished and Eleanor stopped freaking out before she got a picture of it. Everyone that came later and said, "Oh, her hair is so cute!", Mom made sure to tell them about the drama. I think she's looking forward to watching Eleanor assert her independence over the next few years, and me trying to keep my cool in the face of toddler temper tantrums.

And of course, after all that, I had to take it down halfway through the party (the first party!) because one of the two pigtails had slid partway down her head and her party hair was looking very sad, indeed. I tucked the two mini-hairbands in my pocket. The rest of the baby hair accessory collection that we had just purchased was in the diaper bag, along with the comb.

When we got home, the two renegade hairbands ended up on the kitchen counter, and Gomez tried to steal them and play with them. We have now entered the era of not only trying to keep track of toys underfoot, but also minuscule hair bands and clips. Of course, after that temper tantrum, I won't be doing her hair again until it's a special event. But we do have a wedding to go to this weekend in Kentucky .... so if you live just South of Cincinnati and hear screams reverberating on the hair Saturday morning, no cause for alarm! Just a couple adorable pigtails.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Keith's and my 5-year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been 5 years already!

On the other hand, when I said that to Keith, he pointed out that there've been some changes since September 2004, namely called Beckett and Gomez and Eleanor.

We actually celebrated our anniversary last weekend. We dropped Eleanor off at my parents' for *gulp* her first night away from us. I had a hard time leaving, but once we were off I was fine. We both went for a run in the Metroparks (at the same time!) and then went to check in at a local B&B. It's actually the same B&B where we stayed on our wedding night. However, that night we checked in at about 11:30pm, fell into bed, and woke up around 4:00am the next morning to catch our flight to Mexico for the honeymoon. We didn't eat anything or enjoy the "Victorian charm," and have always said that we wanted to go back.

This time, we did practically nothing but hang out in the room. I took a long, hot bubble bath. We both napped, read books in silence, watched some TV. We went out for a fabulous dinner of Mexican food and stuffed ourselves to the gills. We went back to the room, started a movie, and took a break to walk a few minutes down the road to get frozen custard for dessert.

I was also very excited to sleep in on Sunday. Keith pointed out that we were only sleeping in until 8:30, to make our 9:00 scheduled breakfast time. On Saturday, Eleanor had actually let us sleep until a bit after 8, so our big "long lie" on Sunday wouldn't be much later. But I protested that it would feel completely different; we would KNOW that, barring a major catastrophe, we could sleep until 8:30am. And being secure in that knowledge made all the difference in the world.

Of course we were happy and excited to see Eleanor after a night away. But I would be lying if I said I was thinking about her every second we were gone. Instead, most of the time I was thinking about her father, and how much I still enjoy spending time with him after being married for 5 years. (And dating for 7 years before that.) I'm looking forward to what the next 5 years will bring .... maybe for our 10-year anniversary, we'll spend TWO nights away from home!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is It Really That Hard? Hubcaps

The Matrix lost a hubcap a few weeks back. Considering the state of the potholes in this city (they're littered with, at times, up to several feet of road—just disgraceful!), it's a surprise that it took this long. But we have also tarried in getting the hubcap replaced, and this is why.

It's IMPOSSIBLE to replace just one hubcap. Do they really think that all 4 fall off at once? Are you telling me that NO ONE ELSE replaces hubcaps that fall off; everyone is trading up to fancy rims and spinners and whatnot? Keith tried to find just one replacement hubcap online (the repository of everything, on sale for cheap with free shipping), and the price was much too high to justify it. Instead, I will end up going to a local auto parts store and buying a set of 4 new hubcaps.

And what am I supposed to do with the three perfectly good hubcaps that I will now be discarding? It's just so wasteful. And perhaps a bit wanton.

Last weekend, in the Costco parking lot, we saw a Matrix that had only one hubcap. Keith suggested we stake out the car and offer to buy the one hubcap off the hapless owner for $10; the owner could make some money, and we would still be putting our 3 good hubcaps to use.

Maybe we need some sort of online hubcap exchange. I just tried googling the phrase "online hubcap exchange" and didn't find anywhere that both offered 1) the right hubcaps and 2) proper American English. So I guess I will stick with going to the store and buying all new ones.

But is it really that hard to just replace one?!?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Great TV Experiment Part 2

Since we got rid of DirecTV, Keith has been trying to get everything set up digitally. He's been moving computers and monitors hither and thither to experiment with Hulu, Boxee, and all manner of ways to watch TV without actually having any kind of TV service.

The other week, he stole the monitor from my desktop computer upstairs. I found it very disconcerting to walk into the study and see the empty desk. I couldn't help but think of my computer as being "headless." Although, technically speaking, I guess the brain is in the CPU anyway? But it did make it challenging to do anything on the computer at all. He was using the laptop to work on, plus the monitor from the upstairs computer to interface with a different computer running some other program ..... all I know is, I just want to write my blog and plan lessons!

I think that it's been more of a challenge to get everything set up than he had anticipated. The technology fervor has died down somewhat. We haven't watched many shows lately, and when we have, it's just been on the laptop. (We got the laptop as a second home computer, so it is rather large and unwieldy, with a 17-inch widescreen, so that's not as ridiculous as it sounds.)

Once last week, Eleanor went down for her nap and I needed something to distract me while folding diapers. So I opened up the laptop, went to Hulu, and watched an episode of "Bones." It was a little jumpy, but overall I enjoyed it. And I really just needed it for background, so it didn't bother me to miss a word here or there.

I think we gave up DirecTV at the end of August, so it's been almost a month sans a multitude of TV channels. So far, so good. I honestly feel like I don't notice it very much. I'm fine with watching every once in a while on the laptop. Maybe I'll feel differently once the fall TV season is in full swing, though....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You Know You're Getting Old When ....

... your sister IMs you that LBJ is doing a book signing at Borders and she is probably going to go.

You immediately picture Lyndon Baines Johnson instead of LeBron James.

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great TV Experiment

We finally did it: we got rid of our DirecTV. When we moved to Cleveland, Keith had stipulated that we get DirecTV so that he could watch Bengals and Reds games. I thought it was a fair trade.

But it eats up a big chunk of our monthly budget. And lately, we really haven't been watching much TV at all. Since we don't allow Eleanor to watch TV yet, that means we don't watch TV. We could in the evenings, after Eleanor is in bed, but there never seems to be any time. We are too busy cleaning up the kitchen, getting ready for the day tomorrow, working out .... trying to fit in everything else that happens in our lives that does not rely on Eleanor's presence. So we have a huge backlog of shows on our DVR and it starts to feel more like work to keep up with them than entertainment.

I left the decision up to Keith, since he is more of the TV watcher than I am. I've maintained for many years that I could do without TV. So just a few weeks ago, he pulled the plug and cancelled the service. Now we have just the basic stations that we can pick up with the digital tuner. The living room TV is actually useless for anything except movies, because it doesn't have a digital tuner.

I'm a little nervous because now I need to put my money where my mouth is. Do I really watch as little TV as I think? How will I manage without Project Runway? We can still watch TV on the Internet with Hulu and in "real time" (whatever that is—I can't even remember!) ... but I will miss the DVR, I'm sure.

On the other hand, I'm pretty excited. We've put off getting rid of the DirecTV for a long time because we were scared. Could we do it? I couldn't even imagine?!? But now we'll find out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Making the Switch

It's about that time of year. I'm making the switch from iced tea to delicious, warm-your-toes hot tea.

Iced tea is fine, as beverages go. It offers a shot of caffeine with a hint of bitterness. No calories, which is also a good thing.

But hot tea is so much more. Holding a steaming mug on a cold day is divine. I think it has to do with the forced anticipation of refreshment as I'm waiting for the tea to cool enough to drink. I look forward to drinking it long before the first sip actually takes place. Plus, for whatever reason I feel like the flavors are more intense. Even though I use the same tea bags to make iced tea as I do for hot tea, I find the flavor of hot tea much more appealing.

Or maybe it's all in my head. Maybe it has nothing to do with the beverage, but the fact that the switch coincides with my favorite season, Fall. No matter what the reason, I'm looking forward to getting my tea mugs back out and switching the kettle on after my early morning runs!

In the Spotlight

So if I can harp on it just one more time, I broke my finger two years ago while running before dawn. That put me off running before work for awhile. (Plus, you know, pregnancy and then having a baby to care for and all.)

But recently, I decided to start running early in the day again. Mostly because of that whole baby thing; it's really the only time that I can count on it happening. I was excited, but nervous. What if I fell and broke my wrist this time. How stupid would I seem THEN?!? To do it once is understandable. But twice is a little ridiculous.

I did run a few times when it was still dark out, and I just felt so vulnerable. I spent the whole time looking at my feet. Was that a shadow? Or is my foot about to be swallowed by a mammoth pothole? I was happy to be getting out again, but it wasn't the most enjoyable experience ever.

But then I remembered that, for his birthday, my Mother-in-law gave Keith a running headlamp. He's never worn it (I guess, for some reason, he feels it's unnecessary when he runs downtown on his lunch hour). So I had to hound him to dig it up, but he found it eventually. And wow! What a difference it makes.

I feel so much better and more secure running with my very own headlight. Literally. So far I've chosen to use the one that clips onto the underside of a baseball hat brim, which somehow seems slightly less dorky looking than the contraption that actually straps directly to your head.

There are a few things that I need to keep in mind, however:
  1. I can't look other runners in the eyes and nod a friendly "Hello!" without blinding them.
  2. I feel bad for Beckett when he has to make a pitstop, because I'm watching and waiting for him to finish (especially if it's something I'm going to have to pick up), and that means he is in a spotlight of sorts. No privacy here!
  3. I can't try to peer into softly lit windows without giving away my voyeuristic tendencies. This morning I was running past this gorgeous mansion that I am always curious about. I fantasize about moving in there—there's even a second apartment on the grounds, above the garage and just past the pool, where visitors could stay or that could become my writing nook. (Because of course, for us to move into this place either Keith would have to create a bestselling web app or iPod app or I would have to write The Great American Novel.) So anyway, this morning I was running past about 5:45am and I saw a light on. Could I see inside? What was the decor like? Was it one of the owners that was up already? Or do they actually have servants? As I turned to get a better look, I saw the beam of my headlamp flash over the curb, up over the lush green grass and well-trimmed shrubberies, and into the window itself. I quickly looked back at my feet and picked up the pace.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Macabre, But Sensible

Over the weekend, Keith and I were running some errands. We were stopped at a red light next to the entrance to a large cemetery, and I glanced over and saw a sign in the window of the offices. It said:
Free Fill Dirt.
and listed a phone number.

I had never really thought about it, although it makes sense they'd have plenty of high quality dirt to give away. Still gives me the chills, though.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Read to Write

I think the first couple weeks of class have gone well. We're settling into more of a routine, and I am starting to actually believe that I am a professor. Today will be their first graded assignment, though, which may change the equation a bit. I'm not used to being the bad guy, so I'm concerned about flunking students if their work isn't up to the necessary standard. I guess I should wait to worry about that until they actually turn in their first essay, though.

On several occasions, I've tried to emphasis how important it is to read to become a good writer. No matter what you type of literature you prefer, reading will ALWAYS make you a better writer, especially when it comes to grammar and punctuation. As you see where commas go, you will subconsciously get a feel for when a comma is needed or not.

I'm not sure that they are convinced, though. It feels like a bit of a hopeless task. How can you imbue college students with a love of reading if it isn't there already? If they've spent most of their lives thinking that reading was something boring and dry, assigned by teachers and to be avoided whenever possible?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Final Camping Trip of the Year

Last weekend, we took Eleanor on what was probably our final camping trip of the year. We drove South, as did my parents, and met Keith's parents in the middle of Ohio. It was a grandparent extravaganza! Eleanor really enjoyed having adoring grandparents at every turn, admiring her walking, telling her how smart she is, always ready to give a hug, kiss, or a finger to hold onto when the ground gets rough.

I'm sad that the camping season is over. We've taken Eleanor camping 4 times this year, and have had a wonderful time. She loves exploring, staying up by the fire, and sleeping with us in the tent. When she wakes up in the morning and realizes Keith and I are right there next to her ... AND the dog is there, she's in heaven!

The end of one season now automatically brings my mind to the next year. The next time we take her camping, she will be nearly 2 years old. What will she be doing? What will be her favorite part of camping then? How many words will she know? She is changing so fast these days. I look forward to the Eleanor of next year, but I know I will miss today's Eleanor, too.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Home Improvement on Speed: New Patio

A few years ago, Keith and my Dad built a deck in the backyard. It's a beautiful deck, but it's kinda marooned in the yard. Because of the location of the back porch, plus the air conditioner next to the porch, it wasn't possible to build it right next to the house. So for 2 years, it has been on its own. An island, as it were. The plan was always to add in a patio that connected the back porch to the deck, tying it all together and also giving us a space to put the grill AND get rid of the bare patch of dirt that is Beckett's launching pad into the rest of the yard for his epic squirrel chases.

A few weeks ago, it happened! We decided the project was on, and Keith turned into a machine. We chose some pavers, and Keith ordered them plus all the gravel, sand, etc. that would be needed. It showed up at our house on Saturday morning. Keith and my Dad spent all day Saturday digging out the grass, dirt, etc. so the site was ready on Sunday to start laying the gravel and then pavers down.

On Sunday it was a group effort: Keith, Dad, and brother-in-law Josh worked on the patio while I and my sister Amy worked on the flower/ivy bed nearby, clearing out loose pebbles from the previous deck project, pulling up weeds, and bringing in new dirt and plants. Erin and my Mom watched the babies and helped with some indoor projects. And also fed us, which is very important:)

(Sidenote: Have I ever mentioned how nice it is to live near your family? I highly recommend it for many reasons, and large home improvement projects is definitely high on the list!)

By Sunday evening, nearly everything was finished except for a few pavers that needed to be cut to fit the angled sides. Keith worked on it some Monday night, and my Dad came back over on Wednesday evening and they finished cutting/placing pavers and added the finishing sand to lock everything in place.

Now that the project is over, it's hard to believe it took us so long to get it started. It makes a huge difference, and the deck actually looks like it belongs there and is a natural extension of the house. The main obstacle to us tackling this project wasn't time and effort, but money. Even so, I'm glad we finally bit the bullet and just went ahead and did it. Just in time for gathering around the fire pit on the patio in cool weather!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Break from Home Sweet Home

Why is it that I can never get anything done at home? I dream of the day that home is actually an oasis from the world, instead of being the place that populates the majority of my to-do lists.

Right now I'm at a coffee shop 5 minutes from home, and I'm happy and feeling productive. I don't care that there's some crumbs on the floor or drinks to be made, because it's not my work to do!

When did home switch from being restful to being the source of my stress? It probably started the day we moved out of the rented apartment into our first house .... and of course, got markedly more noticeable after Eleanor was born.

Someday, I will accept that I am not superwoman. With one child, a dog, a cat, and a penchant for buying books ... my home will never be a spotless showcase. I will learn to look past the piles of unopened mail and dirty dishes, and just enjoy playing with Eleanor or allow myself to put my feet up at the end of a long day and read a chapter (or two, or three, well maybe just one more ....) without the oppressive guilt of undone laundry and unswept floors pressing down on me.

On the other hand, I also think that someday, I will be able to get more down. There's already a huge difference between this time last year, when Eleanor was only a month old, and today. Back then, I was lucky if I was dressed and teeth brushed by the time Keith got home from work. (And sometimes, it was a race to make it!) Now, that is generally a given. I am running more regularly. The fridge is regularly stocked and we aren't eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 10pm because we never got around to making dinner. Nor are we picking clothes up off the floor and dusting them off, declaring them "good enough" because there's just no time for laundry. So there's been improvement in our abilities to be good parents AND responsible adults, and I think it will continue to improve. Someday, I WILL reorganize the living room so everything that is shoved on the top shelf out of baby's way will actually have a home. I will start projects and finish them in something approximating a timely manner.

I think it's a matter of balance. Of meeting somewhere in the middle. Most days, I will do the dishes and be able to plan meals for the next day while throwing in a load of laundry and still make it to bed at a reasonable hour. On the days when I can't get everything done and am feeling overwhelmed, I need to allow myself the time to decompress and put off the to-do list until tomorrow.

Someday I will have that ebb and flow, the give and take between productive days and the days when I'm just getting by. And, on the rough days, I'll accept things a bit more readily because I will be confident that the next day or the day after that will be easier.

Someday, I won't have to go to the coffee shop to sit and think and not be distracted by EVERYTHING THAT MUST BE DONE BY ME ASAP. Someday, my home will once again be my restful oasis.