Saturday, December 29, 2007

Painting The Roses Red

Okay, so I'm apparently painting EVERYTHING red right now! Niko's chairs. The piano. My hair.

Yes, my hair. It's red and vibrant and happy, and I love it. Imagine strawberries. Imagine you're walking the streets in Russia. It's the kind of red that Luke doesn't enjoy very much, but he's a sport. And I'm twirling outside in the street, so it's all good.

Christmas was spectacular. We had it at my house this year, so it was pleasantly lazy. Riley gave us Guitar Hero III, which Luke is playing even as I write this. Niko is apparently dancing in front of the TV, because I hear, "Niko, watch out! Noooo! Augh." It's a fun game, and there's a little bit of addiction going on. I also have a ring to wear until we buy another wedding ring. I lost mine two years ago now, and it's still heartbreaking. It's nice to have something to flash to would-be suitors, however.

Okay, you caught me. I don't have any of those. But if I did, this slim new band would hold them at bay, I tell you!

Niko has learned to help me unload the dishwasher. He also slides his hand behind Nina's head like we do when we pick her up. Nina just scored her first tooth, one on the front bottom. Her canines were threatening to come in, and she would have been a vampire just like Mama and Niko, but at last, common sense prevailed. I have a feeling that she might be something sweet and lovingly sturdy, a beautiful stake that we can tie ourselves to and anchor ourselves on. Goodness knows that would be a good thing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Red Sonja

Guess what I did this week, amid the Christmasy splendor? I painted our piano! Woo! Sonja the Piano had a tough go of it, and got pretty massacred during the move here last summer. I could hardly stand to look at her, let alone play her. but I painted her bright red, and she's joyful again. There's also a new awesome couple in our ward, and the guy offered to tune her, so things are looking up for Red Sonja.
Oh yeah. And the rest of us are okay, too. ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bless Your Heart

November is an especially busy month. I always hated it was boring and dreary and Thanksgiving always had something horribly tragic associated with it, like '80's death for example.

But now that I'm in the middle of working on my second novel, (about 18,000 words into it!) it gives me something to look forward to all year. And I do! Pypes also came and visited, and we had the best time! Riding rollercoasters, log flumes, and watching a stage production of Sweeney Todd. (was I the only girl cheerily singing "They all deserve to die...tell you why, Mrs. Lovette, tell you why..." while folding the whites?) And the shopping! Good heavens, the incessant shopping! Yours truly scored BIG TIME, including a jewel-toned blue trench coat. Nice.

But I landed in the ER again, because my heart rate was beating so slowly and I was getting dizzy and the like. They thought it could be the meds, so they pulled me off of them. Turns out it wasn't, because I had another EKG today, and I'm off to the cardiologist on Monday. I don't know if I should be scared or relieved. I think that I choose relieved. My heart rate is 46 beats a minute, and she's concerned about anything below 60. There are meds out there, she says, that can raise my heart rate. I feel fine when I'm running or doing something really active, but anytime I sit or lay down, I just feel like I'm sliding. So this is a good thing, going to see what's up. I just want to feel good again. I almost can't remember how that feels.

But the novel is going well! I'm in pretty good spirits most of the time. I also realized today that I can prance around in four inch heels without the slightest bit of trouble! A happy realization for us all! I added a great navy pair to the red ones. I can even run in them, which comes into play every time that Niko tries to escape during sacrament.

The other day, Luke said, "Niko, where's Mom?" and he pointed to me without hesitation. THAT is what is good for my heart.

Also, Luke and I are doing a Santa Run next month. A 5k for Luke, and a one-mile walk for me and the two kidlets. We're trying to break the Guiness Book of World Records for the Largest Santa Gathering, and we'll both have a five piece Santa suit. ROCK ON! The kids get elf hats. I'll die laughing if we choose that for our Christmas picture!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm A Winner!

I had something to tell you. What was it? Oh yeah.


I submitted it in July and heard back yesterday. I'll be published in the January 2008 addition of The Vestal Magazine. Payment? Twelve bucks and a copy.

BEST twelve dollars that I have ever made.

Aaaaaaaaaand...happy birthday, Riley! You're less than half of David Bowie's age. Because we all know that is how we tell time. Naturally.

Niko totally devoured eight keys off of my keyboard, including the all important "shift" and "tab" keys. I have to somehow get this thing fixed before attempting to write a novel in 30 days! My typing time is painfully, painfully slow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Big Happy Family. Mostly.

I would like to point out that a majority of our pictures look like this. Happiness! Joy! Mom never smiles. Niko screams for the aid of some outside source. I hold him with steely arms and smile like it ain't no thing. Which it isn't anymore. The camera clicks, and Niko runs free to create noisy havoc elsewhere. It rocks. :)

We blessed Nina yesterday, which was really wonderful. My family came down for it, and Riley even made it, so after church we hurriedly scrambled together for a picture because we do that every time all of the Murdocks are together. The last picture was four years ago, which is a little eyebrow raising because there are only four of us, but you take what you can get, yeah? Riley is 6'8", in case you're wondering. In this pic, I'm wearing the Red Stilettos of Death that make me six foot. Yeah.

Luke's family came, too, and we had lots of little kids chasing each other in the backyard and playing on all of the toys. It was so much fun! The little cousins really adore each other. I was pretty thrilled because Andrea came, as well. We've been friends since we were 12, and she totally took care of me. You know how I am in crowds. I get a bit batty. "Put that down, how do you need these chopped, it's the second drawer from the bottom, I'll get ice," she said. And a lot of other things of that nature. I miss that. :)

Then last night Niko spiked a pretty high fever, and I was up with him almost all night. He seems better today, although a little lethargic, and I kept him home for school. He's watching (of course) Cookie Monster. Nina's dressed up like a little Halloween pumpkin. And I wrapped my first Christmas present of the year. Woo hoo! It is time! I know what I'm getting almost everybody, and my fingers are itching to wrap wrap wrap them all!

It's almost time for NaNoWriMo, and I can hardly wait! I have this second novel loosely planned in, I know how it ends. And maybe one or two things that happen in the middle. I like to have freedom to deviate while I write.

I also have a stash of 10 Junior Mint boxes in my freezer (My favorite! Thanks, Riley!) and about 40 ice cream sandwiches/bars/cones leftover from yesterday. I shall use them to entice the neighbors to do nice things for me. Or not. I certainly can't eat them. But a few mints every now and then, that's all right.

Apparently my black-hole like nano background is disturbing to several people. My friend Jeanie is going to teach me some coding so that we can change it to something a little less "If you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you" like. I think that will be a lot of fun! Hooray for smart friends!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The World Is Shifting

Woo, a new blog color. Now we're all dark and mysterious.

Pink never was my color, anyway.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Like Rats On A Sinking Ship...Only The Rats Are Smarter

Oh my LANDS, we're in a world of hurt here! Everything everybody ever said about the perils and pitfalls of having two children is true. So true! They're cute and sweet and Niko's charming and Nina's smiling, and yet I gladly admit that I'm going bonkers. It's Luke's busy season at the site, so I've been single Mom-ing it for...well, pretty much the last month. Except for the week we ran screaming home to my parents, which was really a lot of fun. Luke leaves at five in the morning and gets home around nine at night, and he has to take the car.

Niko's developed this terrible new habit: he won't go to sleep unless somebody lies down with him. So when he wakes up alone in the middle of the night, he cries hysterically until either Luke or I hop into his Cookie bed with him. I asked Carly about this, and she said her son did it, too, and that it will eventually pass. "To everything there is a season," she said, and I am clinging to that with both hands. One crying child up at night I can handle, but two? Harsh! But even with all of the craziness, I lie there at night with Niko's skinny arms wrapped around me, staring at the plastic stars on his ceiling and I know that I will miss the time when he wanted me to come cuddle with him.

During the day I set up Central Command in my living room and bark out orders that go entirely unheeded, even by myself. Especially by myself. This wonderful house has become a sinking ship of stir-crazy madness, and all of the rats would have jumped of of it long ago. We're still hanging around, but I think it'll all level out somehow when Luke enters our lives again. He has that gift.

I'm still not feeling well, and the doctor prescribed a medication for the blood sugar. It's supposed to be a heavy hitter, and he warned me that it might make me pretty sick. "Even more sick than this?" I said, and we laughed the bitter, jaded laughter of professional and patient. And we were laughing so bitterly that it was hysterically funny, and then we were just laughing for real. Until I read the side effects, and the laughter stopped a bit. On my end. He's kind of a kook and will most likely be laughing long into the night. Having completely forgotten why.

I'm addicted to I must confess this. I plan to make a pixie hat today, for no other reason except that I can, and I WILL. That's an order from Central Command.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Finnish Cakes

Boys and Girls, today I am going to impart the wisdom that Sister Kaameriinaan taught me in Finland! When she invited Niko and I over for a day of baking and drinking Pepsi Light in order to keep us out of Luke's hair while he studied for his finals. I made this three weeks ago.
STEP ONE: (Picture 1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take three identical drinking glasses and fill the first one with six eggs. Next, fill the second glass with flour, up to the same level as the eggs. And fill the third glass with sugar, also to the same level as the eggs and flour. Got that? Three equal parts eggs, flour, and sugar.
You guys are geniuses! :)
STEP TWO: Now toss one teaspoon of baking powder in with the flour, and mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. If you're really doing this the Finnish way, you'd use your hands instead of a spoon, but whatever floats your boat.
STEP THREE: (Picture 2) Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. That is VERY important, otherwise this whole experiment is all for naught! Then pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Use a spatula and spread it so that it fills the entire sheet. Yeah, I didn't do that, and paid dearly, so heed my words, O children. Bake it for anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes, peeking in on it to make sure it doesn't burn. It'll cook quickly, because it's so thin.
STEP FOUR: (Also Picture 2) Hooray, it's cooked! Pull it out, let it cool for a bit, and then slather the entire top of the cake with something sweet. What, you ask? Who knows?! Hence the adventure! I used orange marmalade, because I'm nuts about the stuff, but you can use any type of jam, or chocolate syrup, whipped cream or crushed get the picture. Knock yourself out!
STEP FIVE: (Picture 3) Carefully (carefully carefully!) peel the cake off of the wax paper as you go, and roll it up into a tube. Make sure it's cool enough that the cake doesn't just fall apart, but not so cool that it becomes a permanent part of the wax paper.
STEP SIX: (Picture 4) Decorate! This is the fun part! I used whipped cream as frosting, but you can use real frosting, or anything else that you want! Frost it, don't frost it, use sprinkles or again, chocolate syrup or edible flowers...after the whipped cream, I grated some chocolate on top.
This cake is totally a freezer cake, so you can toss it in there and forget about it until you're ready to wow company. Or the spouse. Or the UPS man, bless his brown-shorts-covered soul. It's also pretty when you slice it, and that's very important. Because pretty things make the world go round.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Do You Hear What I Hear? Well, It Ain't Gonna Last.

What is this sound? It's so unusual...

Oh my lands, it's silence. Sweet, sweet silence!

*The hopping up and down and joyful screaming shatters said silence*

Niko was throwing up yesterday, and missed school, but today he is feeling much better and stepped carefully onto the bus like a champ. I was remembering how he used to throw up all of the time, several times a day, and what an anomaly that is for him now. I find this to be very grand.

I am doing much better, and even received the all-clear from the doctor to work out. I'm supposed to exercise 45-60 minutes six days a week, eventually, and it should keep my blood sugar under control. Which would be great! I did a little today, and after 15 minutes I was completely fatigued, but I'll get there. My friend turned me on to a great gym nearby that has (GASP!) free babysitting, and Luke and I have decided to sign up. It has kickboxing! And a fabulous track on the top floor! I feel like I'll be getting a piece of myself back! Luke's been running like a wild man, lately. "I'm going out, gonna run nine miles. Be back in a bit." He's training for a half marathon, and has been doing an absolutely fabulous job. Although I am wary about his taking to the streets of this city. "I am a fine specimen of a man," he assured me, saying that nobody would take him on. And even if they did, he could run away really fast.

Which is true, but unless he, like superman, is faster than a speeding bullet, I'm still concerned. So the gym will be wonderful for both of us!

Nina is getting more and more alert. I love to put her on the floor after a feeding and watch her kick her little legs and wave her tiny starfish hands in the air. Wave 'em like she just don't care. She's Niko's opposite in almost every way: He's tiny, she's huge. He ate out of an oral syringe FOREVER ("Hooray! Little three week old boy just ate 10 ml! That's so good!") and Nina's quaffing six ounces every three or four hours. He liked movement, she hates it, he didn't care so much about being held, she loves it. It really is a joy to embrace their differences. I love his courage and curiosity and affection, and her sweetness and snuggability and wonder. They're both absolutely perfect for us.

Though yesterday...not so much. Niko was sick, of course, and every time he'd scream, it would set off Nina. Luke sprained his ankle on his morning run, and although feeling much better, I'm not quite up to par. But we made dinner (guess what? I'm cooking. Yeah, take that, doubters!) and slunk to the couch and blearily watched...whatever it was that we soothe our unsoothable souls.

Oh yeah. I was reading Helter Skelter. No wonder I wasn't paying attention to the show.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lord Help The Mister

Who comes between me and my sister.

And Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man.

Death Rides A Pale Horse...Well, Not Today, Sucka!

Yeah, so. I hadn't seen my kids in four days, because on Monday I had the severest headache of my life (on a scale of 1 to 10, it made my migraines seem like a pleasantly endurable 5) a pounding heart, and high blood pressure. So my doctor says, "Get thee to the emergency room, immediately!" Which, of course, means "Get thee to the emergency room as soon as thy husband cometh home from work. Which is in about four hours." So when Luke gets there and can take the kidlets, (Niko is still terrified of doctors and won't step foot near one without going ballistic) he drops me off at the ER. Where I stay. And stay. And stay and stay and stay. Apparently my blood pressure is SKY HIGH (they had some name for it, with "shock" in it, but who can remember the details?) and my pulse was beating at 40 beats per minute. So they admitted me.

And took two CAT scans, and MRI, an EKG, a heart echo, a chest and an abdomen ultrasound, and the vampires sucked greedily at my blood. They had me on morphine (bad reaction, and besides, it increased my headache. Unreal! "This isn't cutting it!" I was saying. They were puzzled. "Morphine cuts everything!") and bags of IVs and the whole shebang.

Pre-eclampsia. Which usually ends after birth, but not always. They scared the tar out of me talking about fatality rates and sudden, deadly spikes in blood pressure, and who would take the children if I expired because of this. I shake my fist at their bedside manner, for the most part! But I'm fine now, and got released yesterday. I'm on bedrest (Right, like that's really possible!) but I will take it easy.

When we put Niko to bed last night, he kept popping out of his room to make sure that I was still here. I was. Then he'd walk back to bed.

Anyway, I was released almost exactly an hour before my babyshower, which, I was assured, would go on without me anyway. That was fine with me, but I was so glad to make it! It was a lot of fun, and the food was delicious, and the clothes were simply adorable. Little girls are so fun to dress up.

I no longer need an American Girl Doll to exorcise past demons. Hear that, Marilyn? Rock on!

Oh, and I DID lose 30 pounds since pre-Nina on last Tuesday, so I'm now 10 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I would have opted to do it. I advise against it. Wholeheartedly.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hey there, Tsar. Meet the Tsarina.

Nina Luna, 10 pounds and 1 oz. She's beautiful with kitten-soft hair and she is very, very sweet. And huge! Luke took a video of the first time that I held her, and I'm rocking her and cooing, "You're massive, baby girl. Simply massive." Which will give her a complex, my mother assures me, but hey. You can't be a true American without a complex, so might as well start early. Why not hit the ground running, yes?

Nina Luna is pronounced Loo-NAH, by the way. The Russian form of the word "moon". I was telling somebody that it sounds like you're oohing and ahhing at fireworks when you say it correctly. "Nina Loooh Naaaaahhhhhhh!" I think this is a fine thing, and that we should all ooh and ahh when we see and greet each other every morning. It'll help with those complexes. We could all use a little celebration, right? But apparently we have chosen the strangest name in history, and nobody can remember it or pronounce it, and she's going to be called Nina Luna or Looney or Nina Marie and we have doomed our daughter to a life of shame and mispronunciation.

Hi. I'm Mercedes. And I managed to survive, so I have hope for our sturdy, robust daughter. This is also exactly how the same scene played out with Niko. "Nikolai? Nee-ko? Nicko? Nick? That's terrible. Name him Jesse." This makes me smile.

Niko isn't so interested in his sister yet, unless she's crying. He finds that absolutely hilarious, and will lay down by her and put his ear to her mouth. Oh, yes, and he'll laugh. She's wailing her tiny little lungs out and he's cracking up hysterically, which seems to be the way of the world a little bit between brothers and sisters. He just likes the sound so much, and I find this grand. I think they'll simply adore each other one day.

I am quite happy, if you can't tell. And perhaps a bit punchdrunk. I always count that as a plus.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Curse It All.

Foiled again. Every day I think, "Is TODAY finally the day that Ninjack arrives in all of his/her splendor and glory?" And every day the answer is NO NO NO. It's driving me nuts. I am DONE. Stick a fork in me. It's time to end this madness.

Our neighbor dropped by last night with a toy that she thought Niko would like. It used to belong to her son, and it was great to have somebody stop by. She's the only person in the cul de saq that we have met, and she said that she's lived here a few years and doesn't know anybody else. That's not such a good sign, but that's the way this area is. My fear is that something will happen to us and our bodies won't be discovered for months. Thanks goodness for the church, is all I can say. They'd be calling around looking for Luke within a few days! Me, well...I could go missing for a bit longer.

Niko has learned how to slide down the slide by himself. So he can climb up the ladder and play in the clubhouse, and just today figured out how to escape his castle and head for the trampoline. It's very exciting to see all of the new things that he's learning! He's such a good kid.

My friend Emily, she's due in three days. We flurry each other back and forth like crazy in emails. "Baby yet? Baby yet? BABY YET?" It's really fun to have somebody in the same situation, and also to keep in touch. It's making the time go by a little faster. This has turned into a cruel type of waiting game.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I demand presentability!

We held Niko down on Friday and cut his hair. "You shall be presentable, dagnabbit!" we screamed, and he is. He looks very handsome. "What pretty hair!" I exclaimed. "May I brush it?" And after a good long sob in the bathtub, he forgave his parents their cruelty. Appealing to his vanity is the way to go, as the boy very much flirts with himself in the mirror.

Dad came down to help out for a few days, and immediately flopped on Niko's bed and refused to get up. "Bring him in and see if he gets jealous," he said, and Niko didn't. He was too busy playing with the baby swing that I just set up in the nursery. Swinging it into the wall hard enough to cause massive brain damage if anybody other than Cookie Monster ever sits in there. I have vowed extreme vigilance.

So I have been doing some writing! And it pleases me very much. My new goal is to have five pieces circulating at a time, which is a huge step for me! And I just accomplished that a few minutes ago! Praise me! Let's see if I can keep it up. Honestly, I don't think it should be too hard because it usually takes a few months to hear back from some of these places. So that placates my lazy side.

I'm on insulin, now, and it has made a WORLD of difference! Life is bearable again. Not only bearable, but beautiful and grand. It's a good time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Welcome to My Web, Said the Spider to the Fly

This is my favorite room in the entire house! MY ROOM!
Well, okay, so it's Niko's. But I spend a lot of time in here, because it's bright and cheery and because Niko is squirreling away all of our silverware and hiding it around the house. A lot of it ends up here.
Of course, if I were to sleep here at night, all of the bright colors and dizzying circles would give me nightmares. Happy, whirling nightmares about "if moon were cookie" and lots of things that laugh and giggle and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So it's best to avoid that scenario.
I went to the doctor yesterday, who confirmed that because of the GD, the baby is big. How big, we won't know until next week when we do an ultrasound, but obviously plenty big. "Are you sure?" I asked him. He looked at me with all of the love and understanding and sympathy in the world. "Sweetheart," he said, "just LOOK at you!"
And...that means...what? ;)
I've been putting things away like mad in The House, and she is beautiful and clean and fabulous. The nursery is almost up, and it's just a good feeling place that feels like ours, now, not like we're staying at somebody else's place. I'm painting cute little wooden chairs that Mom gave us as a housewarming gift. They're adorable and perfectly Niko sized, and if I just work on them for 15 minutes a day (priming, painting, and then sanding, priming and painting a small wooden table) they'll eventually get done. I learned this from the Flylady, my guru. I realize how many things I put off until I can get the ENTIRE project done at one time, and really, who has that kind of time? Nobody that I know, that's for sure! But 15 minutes here and there...that I can do. And then my energy flags. And I want a bath and bonbons and bed, although that doesn't seem to happen, either. Hmmmm, I'll have to think about this.
Luke comes home every day and takes care of the yard. Which is small enough that it only takes a few minutes, but he's very proud of it, and does a great job. Then we both demand hugs from Niko, alternating who we make him run to, and Niko loves it and laughs. I think he'll like a sibling, although it will be a cruel reality for him, as well. But I'm learning that he's adaptable, and he'll be a wonderful big brother. There will always be a lot going on for Ninjack to watch, that's for sure!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Just an update

Luke and Niko made an impromptu trip tonight to go get our old baby stuff out of storage, so I'm here alone. My one and only goal is to sleep through the entire night, and not get out of bed until I'm good and ready tomorrow. Niko has been staying awake until around 3:00 am lately, and I just can't handle it. I'm not sure why...maybe he's sensing the changes in the air, but it doesn't go over well with Mommy.

He's much more used to the bus now, which is great! It's incredibly stressful to watch him break down every morning, and to manhandle his tiny body outside. I think part of it is that I take him out on the porch 20 minutes early, and we sing and clap and point out all of the cars until the bus comes. It's kind of a time for us to engage fully with one another, and he seems to enjoy it. I know that I do!

I found out that there is a woman here who is a medical expert on Williams Syndrome. I think that I'm going to drop her a line and let her know that we're in the city. I have a feeling that we could be beneficial to each other, and it would be really nice to have our foot in the door.

I don't have my educational class on the diabetes until this Thursday, and I'm feeling worse than ever. "Every day counts," my doctor tells me, but then I have to wait two weeks for an appointment. It's enough to drive me a bit bonkers, actually, and I'm afraid that I'm well on my way around the bend.

The GOOD news is that I was submitting short stories like a crazy woman last night, and I'm really happy about that! I don't expect them to be accepted, and I think that I will be able to handle the rejection. (I hope, anyway!) I am just incredibly proud of myself for even submitting! Woo hoo! So I'll bask in that for a while.

I had a grand moment this evening! I was sitting on the patio in the back, reading a book and watching Niko jump on the trampoline. I heard Luke come home and I called over my shoulder, "We're outside!" and it struck me how nice it really was. It was sunny and Niko was laughing, I was enjoying the scent of Oleander and Luke was coming home from his enjoyable job. We're in a good place right now, and things are really going well for us. This is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Wheels On The Bus...

So Niko has started his one month of summer school, and so far it seems to be going fairly well. He rides the bus there, and screams, of course, and presses both hands against the window as he drives away, looking at me plaintively. "He's usually done by the time we turn the corner," the bus driver confided, and so I believe that everything is all right. I also talked to his teacher on the phone today, who sounds like she definitely has it all together, and that's just a relief. He's learning new things all of the time, like how to climb the ladder to the playhouse all by himself, and where all of the switches to the ceiling fans are. I don't even know that, yet! Tonight he crawled out of the bathtub by himself, as well, after draining the tub. He's really doing very well.

Luke hurt his back somehow, which is just laughable. Because I'm in pretty lousy shape, and now so is he. "Don't climb on the washer," we warn Niko. Because then we'll argue over who has to pull him off when he gets stuck. I think it's pretty funny, actually. But in a throw-your-hands-in-the-air kind of way.

I found out on Monday that I have gestational diabetes, which has thrown me for a bit of a loop. They have a class that I'm supposed to take, and tomorrow is Friday and I still can't get any information out of them. It's worrisome, is what it is, and frustrating, but it is also a relief in a way. I was feeling absolutely terrible, and it is good to know that there was a genuine reason for it, and not just whiny laziness. I hope to hear back from them very soon. Before it's too late, frankly. There's kind of...a bit of a countdown going on. ;)

The House is amazing, and we're really enjoying it! Every evening when it cools down a bit, we go outside and watch Niko play. He loves the trampoline, especially when he jumps with the big blue beach ball. And he is Tsar of the Clubhouse, spinning the steering wheel and sliding down the slide. He swings. He climbs. And today he discovered the monkey bars, so there's even more to explore. A sandbox. Grass. The neighbor's dog that he can see over the fence when he's up there. It is just a whole new world that he hasn't experienced before, and it's simply wonderful. It's really a joy to watch him out there, terrorizing his own personal little neighborhood. It makes me very happy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rant! Rant rant!

Well, we have moved! Did I think it was going to be a nightmare? It was worse than a nightmare. It's the kind of nightmares the NIGHTMARES nightmare about!

The movers....ugh. Were horrible. They were incredibly slow, and only managed to move about HALF of our stuff in the time allotted. It's $145 for each additional hour, they said, and did I want to do that, to finish the job? I didn't. There were all of these other crazy additional fees, too. Like, "The first five stairs are free! And it's $75 dollars for each additional set of five stairs! So that'll be $225 to actually take your stuff down the steps. And let's see...we had to park really far away, so the first 75 feet are free, but after that, it's so much money every additional foot....and you're at least 150 feet away...." I nearly died. What kept me sane, though, was my friend in the primary presidency who not only showed up just to see if things were okay, but helped me wrangle a screaming Niko, PLUS filled up her pickup. Twice. While I filled up my car, twice. Yes, it was 109 degrees, and I was seven months pregnant, lugging things down our $225's worth of stairs (because the first five are free! Woo!) and we STILL didn't get done in the four hours! She saved my sanity, though, by just being there. So we ended up paying over double our estimate for movers that not only left half of our stuff there, but turned the piano UPSIDE DOWN and slid it down the cement steps with nothing underneath it. It is gouged all to heck...I'll post a picture when I can stand to take one. So. Not. Pleased.

But! Now we're here! Niko is entranced with the backyard (and the multiple ceiling fans, and the laundry, and all of the lights!) and seems to be settling in really well. Luke and I were discussing how long it would take until it really felt like home, and we think it's when we'll walk in one day and automatically drop off our keys here, kick off our shoes there, and then wander directly to the fridge for a drink. It's really a very lovely place to be, and we're happy to be here! I'm unpacking all day today, and we'll see what it looks like by evening.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE BABY seems to be a bit of a tyrant

We live in a wasteland of cardboard boxes and half-packed lives. Niko maneuvers them deftly, picking his way through the carnage and finding Cookie Monster without a second thought. He cuddles him, and then throws him into a box. To be packed, most likely. And then he climbs in after him.

I have told him that, as a member of the family, he will be allowed to ride in the car. But alas, it doesn't seem to stir him.

So we move tomorrow! Huzzah! I can hardly believe it! On one hand, we've been looking forward to this for a very long time, and on the other, it kind of crept up on us. I don't feel quite ready, mostly because I haven't been able to pack like I wish to. Because of THE BABY. THE BABY seems to get quite angry when I am packing, and likes to warn of his/her impending arrival. This seems rather harsh to me, but who am I to challenge the will of THE BABY? I hurriedly sit down and glare at everything that is left to do.

Luke has been amazing, stepping up to the plate in every way. And yesterday his parents and brother came down, spending a couple of hours throwing things in boxes and scrubbing out the fridge. The progress that they made in such a short time was astounding! I genuinely can't express my gratitude.

I'm nervous, though, because the movers are coming later than planned, and Luke will already be at the airport. So I'll be trying to supervise movers and keep Niko from being underfoot, and placate THE BABY, who will surely get angry. Then I have a doctor's appointment, and originally Luke was going to watch Niko, but this was before all of these other plans came up. Niko will have to come with me, and will almost assuredly fall apart, kicking and screaming, while we're there. Despite the long wait, I do not look forward to tomorrow.

But the day after tomorrow! Ah! If I can just manage to get through that 24 hours, then I believe that things will really be okay! I imagine I'll look around at our life shoved into cardboard, and the house, and my son, and everything will turn out somewhat like I had hoped. I have faith in this.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Last Day Of School! I FEAR!

In fact, I fear mightily. He really enjoys it for the most part, and so do I! But he'll be starting a summer class soon, for about a month. They'll bus him in, and we'll see how it goes. His teacher is also looking into the possibility of music therapy for him, which would be wonderful, if it's offered in this area.

Meanwhile, we're moving into the The House a week from tomorrow! I can hardly wait! I'm packing like a demon while Niko's in class, and this will really be a fine thing. It is a time of change for us, and you know that I'm all about change. Niko...not so much. But as I was told today, he has shown resilience and always manages to adjust. So I should just stop worrying. There are better things to do with my time.

Like getting ready for Ninjak! Which is what we're calling the babe until it's born. Luke vetoed "Demon Seed", and looking back on it, I suppose that I can see his point. Although at the time, I found it completely appropriate. I was pretty sick. I half expected cars to levitate behind me as I walked by.

Still feeding my MST3K addiction. Last night we watched "The Killer Shrews". Sure, it was no "I Accuse My Parents" or "Prince of Space", but we laughed wholeheartedly anyway.

Because we're nothing if not classy, you know.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Somebody Has Stolen My Son. And who are The Mormons?

I don't know who this new creature is. He turned off his Elmo movie, took my hand, and led me to his bed for nap time. Half an hour early. I hear him playing with his toys and happily shrieking in glee. I tremble.

I just received emails from some of my old friends in our last city! I can't believe how good it is to hear from them! They're buying houses and having children and basically growing up. What a pleasure!

I'm still very homesick, even though I'm trying to focus on the good things around this city. There are flowers out right now, for example, and some of them are quite striking. It is very easy to find a good meal, and even a child friendly one. But this place. Argh. It is a soul killer. I am hoping that when we move into The House we'll have our own little corner of the world that is beautiful and lovely and always welcoming.

That is the plan, anyway.

Niko bit his teacher today. She had to tell me about it, but since it didn't break the skin, she didn't have to write a report. I told her I was sorry, and I was. His sharp little shark teeth can really cause some damage! But on the other hand I thought, "Hey, if he's been going to school for this long, and this is your first bite?! Lucky you!" Secretly I congratulated him in my head. Not for biting, of course, but for doing so well that biting was an anomaly.

He also likes to stick his head in the dryer and yell, "Yaaaaar!" Which is an anomaly, too, I suppose.

My writing friend Dawn and I are writing a script together for Script Frenzy. It's another offshoot of NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) and the idea is that you write a 20,000 word script in 30 days. You can write in teams of two, if you want, which is what we're doing. It's going to be a spoof disparaging the stereotypical archetypes of literature, and it should be really fun! Which is what we're doing it for, because script writing is not to be taken seriously by us. Anyway, it will count for our monthly contest, which is great! We're all doing really well on that, and that makes me proud. You guys all know that I'm a dreamer, not a doer.

I watched the PBS special "The Mormons" and was severely disappointed. Luke and I decided that we had both expected too much out of it. Like unbiasness. The creepy, dark pictures and eerie music really was all it took to turn me off. "You come off looking like a bunch of nutters," one of my friends told me. I had to agree. Would I let a missionary in my door after watching that first program? I don't think so! We came across as mindless, sweetly naive people who blindly followed power hungry lunatics. I suppose that I should laugh, really, because it is so off the mark. Hardly anybody that they interviewed actually IS LDS, and what kind of view will a torked-off ex-member or unaffiliated historian present? I want to know where the light is. I want to know how they think so many educated, happy, and industrious people could be so easily led. That just isn't the case. But enough of that. I've ranted already to people who love me, and they treat my religion like the tender, valuable thing that it is. It is very precious to me. And really, when it comes down to it, the people I love are really the ones who matter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Being A Quick Reader Is A Curse

I just plowed my way through the worst book.

The heroine, of course, was the obligatory soft-soul-within-tough-armor lawyer type, and her life and the life of her son was being ravaged by the twists and turns of the case. She was torn between the lover who left her behind twelve years ago, her current love interest...and some old guy who is just getting over the death of his wife enough to make goo goo eyes at her. Who to sleep with? Who to sleep with? Well, why not all three, right? Makes the decision easier.

Oh, yes, and her son was kidnapped at least twice in the book. Because that happens all of the time, you know. I can't tell you how often Niko has been kidnapped. But they always bring him back within minutes with a fruit basket and a beautifully handwritten note of apology.

So! The big meeting to draft up Niko's IEP went without a hitch yesterday. It lasted two hours and my head throbbed mercilessly by the time it was finished, but it is signed, sealed, and delivered. I was impressed at the time people took working on it, and at their dead on assessment of Niko, for the most part. It's never easy hearing all of your child's weaknesses, but we made goals to try and improve them, and that's what mattered. I think we're going to start the picture exchange up again. Gosh, I hate that. SO BADLY. But. It should help him learn words, at any rate.

We just spent a week down in Oceanside, CA for the annual Yardley family vacation. It was a lot of fun, actually, and they rented a gorgeous condo down on the beach. Niko got a real kick out of the waves, and woke up at 5:30 in the morning most of the time, clamoring to go down. As for me, you guys know that I'm not into that much togetherness. It freaks me out. But it was nice, and now we're home, and I can put Niko down for his nap and have all of the brooding solitude that I want until he wakes up. Which is what I live for. I like time to breathe.

And write my own books. Better than this one that I just read. Egads.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Luke and Niko have driven off into the glorious future to attend an out-of-town graduation, and I have opted to stay behind. Because I am incredibly tired. And expecting a baby in August, surprise surprise to some of you. This and the constant running in and out of town have just exhausted me, so tonight it is Jeitohpalooza, as it is called. My scintillating, fun filled plans include....lying in bed watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Dead Talk Back. Oh, and eating some ice cream. Because this is my wild night, after all.

When did I ever become so boring? ;)

Luke was playing the piano this morning, and Niko came screeching in with his accordion. You really should hear the two of them together. Wait, perhaps it would be best to not. It would just blow your mind. The Von Trapp family we ain't.

It might be another month getting into the house, which is disappointing, but all right. I need to learn patience. And yoga. Perhaps yoga will lead to, it has never worked for me in the past. I sit there and think about how inflexible I am, and how I'm wasting time standing like a tall, firm tree when really I should be kickboxing my way out of something. Some of us might not be born to really relax. Of course, I don't believe this. But I do believe that I'm really bad at it. The relaxing, I mean. And also yoga.

I realized yesterday that I had quite a few short stories that are polished and ready to send out. How daunting! How naked! But I am going to do it. I have got much better at hearing the word "No". It isn't nearly as crushing and devastating as I used to think. What a freeing thought!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Toast

Mmmmm, Niko's first day of preschool. Here I sit, childless and happy. He was actually supposed to start yesterday, but his immunizations weren't up to date, so after six shots (sorry, son!) he's there today. He cried during his shots, of course, as I would have done if held down with needles sticking out of both arms and legs. But I bribed him with fries and chicken nuggets, and within five minutes he was his bouncy self, pointing out the stars on the Atlas in the back seat.

He was a little clingy today when I left him at the school, which surprised me just a bit. Because he's always so eager to dive into the fray and ditch his mama. So I cuddled him, and his teacher pointed out the stars in the classroom, and they were hand in hand when I said goodbye and left. I think this is a marvelous thing.

I had all of these glorious plans that I would accomplish while he was at school. Making jewelery, for example, since Niko wouldn't eat my supplies. Or refinishing the kitchen table and eventually the piano. But this first day? I am going to put my feet up and toast the world with Coke. Because. We all deserve it. We've worked hard to get here, yes we have. Cheers, babe.

We had our first meeting with our neighbors that we're buying the house from. You know, to do the paperwork, and all of that. I'm sure it would have been charming from an outsider's point of view. The four of us go to the same church and are friends, and neither had agents, so we gathered around their kitchen table while the kids all played together. Another friend from the ward, who used to be a real estate agent, showed up to explain any terminology that we had questions about. Which turned out to be a LOT, because really, the wordage to this! So my friends who had bought houses had warned me about this part, that you end up shelling out money for all of these extra things. Not us. We all looked at each other with our blue, blue eyes, joked our way through, and then ate brownies and ice cream afterward. Really cut throat.

This house is absolutely perfect, down to the Star Jasmine in the front yard. We had that on our mailbox at our old apartment in our last, beautiful city, and that tiny little thing just makes me want to smile.

Niko spent a majority of the time playing with their washer and dryer, of course. Of course. Just getting used to it before the big move next month.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Disregard My Earlier Ranting...No, Wait. Don't.

At long last! Niko starts preschool on Monday, and it is truly a miracle. I can hardly believe it, still.

One of the women in our ward is a teacher at one of the schools, and honestly, this all came about thanks to her. She made phone calls and dropped things on people's desks, and called me one day and said, "Hey, can you bring that IEP over here before 7:45 tomorrow morning?" COULD I? Of course!

She worked some magic. School is about a mile and a half away, and I plan to walk him there every morning and pick him up in the car afterward. I am so relieved. He is so ready for this step.

Niko is still fixated on the same things: washers and dryers, stars, having Cookie Monster dance on his head, that cursed Elmo, making The Grudge sounds. He has this new thing where he gets really excited and runs in place before he starts off in whatever direction. He looks like an old Flintstones cartoon when he does that. Next I expect him to walk off a cliff and continue to walk in the air, not falling until he looks down and realizes that there is nothing under him.

In other news, we just bought our first house! It is absolutely perfect, a fastidiously taken-care of, small home with a fenced in backyard and a little wooden play set. It is truly a treasure, and we should move in about a month. I, of course, am looking forward to packing and throwing out all of Luke's treasures. This is a joy to me, although not to him, naturally. He is already worried.

I will be updating this blog probably weekly, since a friend and I have vowed to do it. And I simply can't let him get the best of me, so there we go.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Warm Baby Animals

Holding my son is like holding a warm, wiggly lamb at the state fair. He balls his body up and kicks with exuberance. He likes the feel of your arms but doesn't want you to know this. Well, son, I'm onto you. You can't pull one over on me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Preschool Hates Children

I'm sitting with my back against the wall, typing while watching Niko frolic and play in the biggest bathtub that I have ever seen in my life. We have gotten used to this apartment and all of its many quirks (like the tub in the corner of our bedroom) and can really enjoy the good things about it. Which is great, since the plan is to buy a house and blow this joint this summer.

Niko is getting taller. He's getting stronger and more savvy. When he wants peanut butter toast, he'll take my hand, walk to the cupboard, and point at the peanut butter. When he wants goldfish crackers on his plate, he'll bring the plate to me, Oliver Twist style. He still doesn't talk. He still doesn't sign anything other than "more". He definitely still doesn't go to school, a fact that makes me want to bite my tail in half and throw rotten fruit at the school building.

In fact, I'm fairly beside myself. There was this gigantic hassle about getting his IEP (Individual Education Plan) from his old school. We called that school, who said that his new school needed to call and request it, not us. We called the new school, and they said that they couldn't call and request, and that they couldn't do anything until the old school sent it to them. This sick little dance went on for months. MONTHS, I kid you not! When we finally got his IEP, we sent it to the new school which immediately lost it...twice. End result? Been here since July. It is now March and still no school, and honestly, no likelihood of it happening in the near future. Because these people are inept. INEPT, I say!

But Niko doesn't know this. He instead knows that he and Mama spend lots and LOTS of quality time together. We play ball and snuggle and he adores watching me type at the computer, which is extremely fortunate. I have been writing like crazy lately, thanks in large part to long, reminiscing emails about childhood and a writer friend who is like a pit bull when it comes to deadlines. This has been very good for me, and I enjoy it immensely. Niko recognizes these friends by their pictures and often tries to feed them delicious snacky foods. Lucky Charms, anyone?

Pypes and I have a cross country trip planned for fall. I can hardly wait. We need our wild and crazy girl time, since it recharges us for the rest of the year. I'm trying to convince her to move out here with me. Because, well, I'm lame like that. I think she and I could somehow make this dead city beautiful and alive. Or at least go down swinging.