Monday, June 30, 2008

Caution: Cute Overload

5 witty remarks
Any recovering cute-aholics should probably look away right now.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Random things I'm loving right now

4 witty remarks
1. My new job - I get paid to do lab stuff all day! I've learned a bunch of new tests (they have an automatic titrator! I guess a QC lab has slightly more budget than an environmental lab) and I more or less know what I'm doing. If I had to go back to work it's nice to have something I actually enjoy.

2. New products from American Crafts

3. My minty new sewing machine: It has a blindhem and a stretch stitch! It has a light and a built-in thread cutter! It does zippers and buttonholes! (Meaning I no longer have an excuse not to make dresses for Betsy.) And it was on sale from Hancock's with free shipping. I just wish it would have arrived sooner so I could play with it more before I started working, but I'll deal with that. I think I need to find a sturdier workspace than a cheapie card table in the corner of my bedroom, because once this machine really gets going (variable speed! how 'bout that?) the whole assembly starts to shake violently.

4. Baby fat - hers, not mine.

5. Last Comic Standing on Thursday nights - although I can't believe the Israeli prop comic didn't make it to the next round.

6. My organized kitchen, now that I finally put all this stuff up last week.

I think we only spent about $15 at IKEA for all the parts (and I still have an extra wire basket that I will mount directly on the wall once I get some more wall anchors). I think the whole system would work great for a craft room, too, if you're lucky enough to have a craft room!

7. Baby elephants

8. Cheez Its - I hadn't eaten them for years and I've recently rediscovered how delicious they are. How crazy is that? They have to be the real thing, though, and not Cheese Nips or the store brand.

9. Betsy's new obsession with numbers. She took 11 bites of her scrambled eggs last night. The other day she hopped on one foot 33 times. Why 33 times? Because her daddy is 33, that's why. She's figuring out addition, too. We did some adding and subtracting with M&M's a few days ago but I think the only lesson she learned is that chocolate is delicious.

10. Blogger taking four or five attempts to publish my post (Oh sorry, this was supposed to be about things I love. That was a thing I don't love!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's almost here

6 witty remarks
I start my new job on Monday. Monday! I feel like I should be nervous, but I'm not, just excited. Okay, and stressed out about the child care arrangements but it seems to be working out okay. I found a place I like that's near my work and reasonably priced - although I think I'm going to have to switch to a different provider once school starts, so that Betsy can be transported to and from kindergarten.

When I called up on Monday to accept the job, I had one other curveball thrown at me: one of their lab technicians had quit, and he had been working four 10-hour days, so his hours were available to me if I wanted them. That was an easy decision to make. It won't actually save me any money on child care (a little on gas) but I won't have to work on Fridays. At all. That's right, I'll have a 3-day weekend (and you know how much everyone likes those) every single week. I'm really excited about that because it means I will still have one day to be a stay-at-home mom so I can catch up on chores, work on my hobbies, and do fun stuf with the kids. In fact, we went down to the zoo yesterday and finally renewed our membership (we've let all our memberships lapse since everything has been so up-in-the-air lately) so we will have something fun to do when I'm off work.

I've also been pumping like crazy so that I will have a good store of frozen milk (and in the immortal words of Dilbert, "Man, am I thirsty!") I've been experimenting with different types of bottles with Amy and bless her tiny heart, she really doesn't seem to have a preference. She'll go between Mom juice in its original packaging, Mom juice in an Avent bottle, and formula (useful for backup) in an Evenflo bottle with nary a second thought. Although the bottle I'm trying to give her right now is very slow going because she keeps smiling at me. Keep your eye on the ball, baby.

I went to Goodwill on Saturday - it was half price day - to stock up on my professional wardrobe. (That's one of the best things about being a chemist - no one expects you to look good.) I got two pairs of jeans and three shirts for me, plus three shirts for Betsy and an old hardcover copy of Rebecca, all for $15. One other thing I've been meaning to do is get my hair cut short, since I will be getting up at basically the crack of dawn (I thought those days were over when I finished seminary!) to be at work at 6 a.m. and the last thing I want to deal with is styling my hair. Not that I do anyway.

So. I'm just days away from the most major change in my life since I had Betsy... wish me luck!

Friday, June 13, 2008


8 witty remarks
Well, I got offered the job I was interviewing for. (ETA: I mentioned it in my epic post but it may have gotten lost. This isn't the Redi Wip factory, it's a QC lab for a place that makes motor oil. They are looking for an analytical chemist and oh look, I have one right here! Not a six week assignment but an actual, real job. I've interviewed there twice and I absolutely love the lab) No surprise there, because I am smart, talented, and witty so any lab in their right mind would want me to work for them. I've been making phone calls all morning, which if you know me you know that's a big deal (phone calls are right up there with sharks). Still haven't decided if I'm going to take it or not because sweet monkey fritters, childcare is expensive! However, the cost of psychiatric care may actually be higher... Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe in the value of being a stay-at-home mom. (If I do take the job, my plan is to go for a year and then re-evaluate things. I definitely don't plan on working forever, and I do still want one more baby!) But it's just... barely... possible that they have stepped on my last nerve and I don't want to end up a newspaper headline: "Suburban Mother Actually Explodes. I didn't know a human being could spontaneously combust! said one stunned neighbor." I mean, can you imagine trying to clean up after that?

Oh, and I just typed this whole post one-handed. Just to show you how awesome I am. You should see me with a viscometer and an ICP...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Find the Baby

3 witty remarks
Where is she? Where'd she go?

Amy's sleeping in her crib now in her very own room. The pediatrician told me that likely the reason she keeps waking up in the night (more so than she should be, given how fat the girl is) is that she smells me. Hey, I can't help that I'm delicious.

Does anyone know how to get lipstick out of clothing? No, I didn't find mysterious kisses on Matt's collar; I left my brand-new Mother's-Day-gift lipstick in my dress pocket, and now there are smears of Cover Girl 'Cutie' all over one of my new shirts. And of course I didn't find it until everything had been through the dryer so I'm lucky it's not much worse. But I think it's funny considering that I almost never wear lipstick. And I've washed my ChapSticks dozens of times withno ill effect (well, except for ruining the ChapStick but they're only ninety-seven cents each so who cares?) Serves me right for trying to look pretty for a change.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

That was the week that was. (**WARNING: INCREDIBLY LONG**)

7 witty remarks
Wow, it's been QUITE an eventful week-and-a-half or so. Where to begin? Betsy's dance recital is as good a place as any. She looked adorable and did a great job dancing. Here's Betsy in full hair and makeup:

I was honestly only planning to do the whole swipe-of-blush-and-some-lipgloss thing but Betsy was WAY into the cosmetics and I was having so much fun applying it, that we just kept going. She even let me put mascara on her! I don't think I mastered mascara until I was about sixteen. There was a big thunderstorm the Friday night before, and when we got down to the church where the recital being held, there was NO POWER! No lights, no sound system, no A/C. But the show, as they say, must go on and the kids were all totally adorable. The lady who runs the dance place (it's not really a 'studio' because there's no physical location for it) was putting on THREE recitals that day, Betsy was in the last one. And she was such a trouper about it! I can only imagine how hot and sweaty this poor woman must have been, but she just kept on smiling and got her little dancers in and out as quickly as possible.

Sunday morning, my parents and li'l sisters came up (they were doing an extended roadtrip and had been in Bloomington visiting the adorable Miles. And his parents. Whatever.) and Dad came to church with us and helped bless Amy. She wore the same dress I had for my christening 28 years ago. And she was awake for the whole thing yet didn't cry.

Also, can I brag on the dress I'm wearing in that photo? I got it at Goodwill for TWO-FIFTY. The hem was all busted out but I just fixed it up (I wish I had a sewing machine with a blindhem stitch, but for a two-fifty dress I'll do it by hand).

My mother brought her serger, because she is not allowed to visit without it, so on Sunday after dinner we knocked out this dress in a matter of, like, an hour and a half.

It hasn't been hemmed yet, but I don't think I'll really wear it until fall so that's fine. When we were done with the sewing and the little kids were in bed, the rest of us played a rousing game of Cranium Turbo, which was so much fun that we played it every night that they were here.

Monday morning we cracked open the paint. I had already purchased ten gallons of paint (our realtor chose the color; the good people at Olympic call it 'Drifting Dunes' but if you ask me it's beige) and a whole lot of rollers so we got going on that. I had already done the master bath and my goal was to get the downstairs done while Dad was here; it's all the more time-consuming because of needing two coats on everything. But with Matt and my dad and I working on it, the task wasn't so bad. Mom delegated herself the role of baby-holding (it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it). The girls were invaluable in keeping Betsy and Porter occupied.

Betsy had a birthday party to go to on Monday afternoon so I knocked off early and washed the paint off myself. And after dinner Mom and I went down to Hancock Fabrics because they don't have them in Rochester but we do, neener neener neener. I saw the coolest 'Nerds Rule' fabric and next time I have a coupon for Hancock, I'm going to buy yards and yards of it and make something - anything - to wear out of it.

Oh, and while I was getting ready to take Betsy to the birthday party on Monday, someone called and offered Matt a job. Yes, you read that right. Someone called and offered Matt a job. A job! A job in Indiana! Can you guess if we were excited about that little development? Hmm? It's not the best job ever - the insurance premiums are pretty high, for one - but it's better than a lot of the stuff he's been interviewing for lately, and it's a job, and it's in Indiana.

Right. Excitement. And that was only Monday.

Tuesday was more painting - kitchen and downstairs powder room - and I had my last tutoring session for the school year and also Steak 'n Shake. And also a laboratory staffing agency I've been working with called up and offered me a job to work in the lab at a food processing place for six weeks. They didn't even need to interview, they just wanted the agency to send people. It was second shift, which sounded pretty good to me, so once I had some babysitting lined up I said sure, I'll go for it. The position was starting on Thursday. So, after my family members left Wednesday morning (waaaaah) I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and focusing on things like getting Amy to drink from a bottle. It turns out that Her Royal Highness will only drink a warm bottle, so it's a lucky thing that I picked up a nifty bottle warmer at the neighborhood garage sale the weekend before.

My dad apparently brought the good job karma because within two days Matt and I were both offered jobs and also our next door neighbor was spared the axe when his company announced layoffs. So that's always good.

Thursday morning I got up bright and early to start my new job. And how was my foray into the workplace after a six year hiatus? Brief. The job was supposed to be a lab position, but after we got there and sat around for a while and someone finally figured out what to do with us, they decided that they didn't need anyone in the lab but they could use us on the production floor. Now, I worked a job like that when I was in college and it wasn't so bad (the college job was in the dark; this place has the lights on but is also only about fifty degrees) but if I am leaving my kids with a sitter and driving halfway around town, I want to be doing actual lab work. So I called up the lady at the agency, and I talked with the supervisors at ConAgra, and I ended up leaving before it was even lunch time so that they could hire someone else and not waste any time training me. I was very apologetic but the lady at LabSupport said these things happen, and it was obviously just a miscommunication, and also I got to see how Redi Wip is made, so no harm, no foul. Actually, I thought it was pretty amusing that I was in a dairy products factory. Especially when I saw the swinging doors labeled 'Milk Room.'

So, I'm still looking, but only if I find a job I really like and I can work out some good childcare. Of course when I started looking Matt wasn't employed (technically he still isn't - he starts on Tuesday) so childcare wasn't so much of an issue. But, I think the extra income would help a lot, since Matt's new job is sales, it's largely commission-based and it will take at least a few months to get established. And I wouldn't mind taking a short break from all the screaming (does that make me a bad mother? Probably.)

Friday morning I took Chubby McThunderthighs for her two-month checkup. Thirteen pounds. She got three shots and also a vaccine given orally, which is nice. I always feel bad letting the nice nurses jab needles into my baby, because I know how much it's going to hurt and she doesn't and there's not a darn thing I can do about it. But, I like to think Amy's going to thank me one day when she doesn't get diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis, or... there's gotta be a few others I'm forgetting. You're welcome, Cutie Pie.

After the dreaded jabs it took some nice warm milk to calm Amy down, and then I was off to a job interview. This time it really was for a lab position; I know because I saw the lab, and what a pretty little lab it is indeed. The place seems to combine all of the things I liked about my old, pre-kids job (small lab = opportunities to do lots of different analyses) and none of the things I didn't (sample prep, sample prep, sample prep). I had a nice chat with the lady who runs the lab and also saw the production floor. I should have kept the earplugs, since certain people snore.

After the job interview - this is still Friday morning, mind you - I went home and we loaded up the van for a little trip out of town. See, we had always promised ourselves that once Matt found another job, we'd take at least a mini-vacation, a nice little break sandwiched between the stress of being unemployed and the stress of starting a new position. Our first thought was Holiday World but we didn't like the idea of two-month-old Amy in ninety-degree heat (and good thing we didn't, because parts of I-65 ended up getting closed down because of the flooding). Then we though maybe Chicago, because Chicago's always fun. We were planning on going to the Shedd Aquarium and IKEA, and then one of us realized that there's an aquarium in Cincinnati too, and they just had an IKEA open up earlier this year, and Cincinnati is a lot closer and cheaper and there's less traffic and fewer tolls, so the decision was made.

It was just a quick overnight trip, but it was a whole lot better than nothing. The kids were pretty good on the trip down, due to the fact that we bought a car DVD system with two screens a couple of years back. Best $200 I ever spent. We had some ice cream while waiting for the family hours to start, because after 4:30 kids get in free, and we are all about saving the money. Also I was slightly putting it off.

As anyone who knows me even slightly could probably tell you, I am deeply creeped out by aquariums. It didn't used to be that way - I think it's even been within the last few years. The worst are places where you are mostly or entirely surrounded by water, like the Dolphin Dome here, or the tunnels full of freakin' sharks that some genius thought to put in the Newport Aquarium. Now, the building is set up in such a way that you can't really bypass anything; you have to see it all, and there's a bunch of tunnels. The first few are only six or eight feet long and they are populated with smaller fish and fish-type things - at least, I think they are, I didn't look. So what you do is, you wait until there's a clear shot to the other side, and you keep your head down, and you walk through as quickly as possible. But towards the end of the building you get to the two longer Tunnels of Death (with a helpful Room of Jellyfish in the middle, so you can regroup.) They are a lot longer, so no matter how fast you walk, somebody is bound to step in front of you and inconsiderately begin viewing the sharks. And the eyes-to-the-floor strategy fails miserably here because these same design geniuses put Plexiglass panels into the floor! So there is NOWHERE SAFE TO LOOK! You are completely surrounded by water and by animals that can eat you, and your only hope is to get through as quickly as possible while Matt and the kids linger behind and you finally find someplace safe to sit down and not look at or think about anything.

Go ahead, laugh at me and my stupid phobia.

Are you done now? Can we go on?


The Frog Bog exhibit was pretty nice, because frogs are tiny and amphibious and they don't have teeth and can't swallow you or one of your children. Betsy said the black frog was her favorite.

I hope that someday my children realize the sacrifices that I make for them as a parent. It wasn't enough that I carried them for nine months, or that I suckled them for nourishment, or that I, you know, sacrificed my looks and my career and my mental health and my dignity. Nope, I love my kids so much I even walked through shark tunnels for them.

Anyway, once that terror was over we went for dinner. Do you know how funny it is that there's a seafood restaurant directly across from the aquarium? I don't like seafood a whole lot but Matt does, so I told him we could eat there if he wanted to but in the end we opted for something a little more crayon-heavy. And it was still light out and the weather had cooled down considerably and there was a nice breeze from the river so we walked around for a while.

We even ran into some missionaries - Betsy showed them her CTR ring which she wears backwards at all times. After a while Betsy got antsy to go to the hotel - I have no idea why, it wasn't anything special, it was the EconoLodge in Erlanger, Kentucky actually. But she threw a pebble into the 'pond' (um, the Ohio River) and wished that we would go to the hotel. I guess it's just the novelty of sleeping someplace different. Not that I got much sleep because I ended up sharing a bed with Porter, and he's a kicker.

We got up nice and early on Saturday morning - too early, as it turned out; we were at IKEA before they even opened. So we drove around the extremely shiny suburb of West Chester for a while and let the kids watch Charlie and Lola. Eventually we got into the store. We didn't really need anything major - no bunk beds this time - so we were mainly there because I like the store. (And hey, I walked through The Carnivorous Tunnels Of Doom, I think I deserve some reasonably priced home accessories.) I did get some nifty organizational thingies for the kitchen; I'll post a picture after we put them up.

The other fun thing about IKEA is that they have a nice little cafe right inside the store. Matt had the Swedish meatballs, which are delicious. I had gravlax, which seems to be the Swedish version of sushi. It wasn't my favorite, but it's always nice to try something new. Also in the Swedish Marketplace I got some Dubbla Chokladflarn. They are cookies that taste like chocolate covered Cheerios, yet disturbingly good.

It only rained a little bit on the way home, and we got back in time for the neighborhood pizza party, which meant I didn't have to cook dinner. Hooray! Also, that was when we found out about the huge, massive rainstorms that swept through southern Indiana and flooded the roads and shut down the interstates. I don't think there was too much damage up here, but a lot of counties have been declared disaster areas and everything.

And... now it's Sunday again. (You wouldn't believe how long it's taken me to type this whole thing out.) Went to church, went to choir practice, had dinner, went for a walk with the kids. Tomorrow will be busy, because it's Matt's last day before he starts working again (too bad we couldn't really enjoy the last four months, stressed out as we were). But I don't think it will be as crazy as this week has been. And I promise (hand over heart) not to write a blog post as long as this one again.

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