Archive for April, 2006

One weekend about a year ago Nathan and I were keeping busy doing random household chores. I was in the kitchen loading our no-good-soon-to-be-replaced-dishwasher and he was outside on the pool deck sucking up leaves with a wet/dry vac (because we haven’t sprung for an actual leaf blower yet).

It was a nice spring day and the windows were open. I heard Nathan call out my name.

“Yeah?” I called back.

“Heather!” he shouted again.

“Ye-es” I called again, this time inserting a little inflection of impatience and irritation.

“Heather, come here, quick!” he shouted.

Since we’ve been married for almost nine years, Nathan and I have found unique ways to irritate each other. I irritate him by correcting his grammar and singing to the piped-in music at the grocery store. He irritates me by leaving his dirty socks on the kitchen island and expecting me to come running every time he has something to show me.

I opened the slider door and poked my head out. I was ready to unleash my inner bitch until I saw there was something…wrong.

It looked as though Nathan was being eaten by our deck. In the process of cleaning, one of the deck planks broke in half underneath him and one of his legs fell through. He was caught in an awkward pose; one leg folded against his chest and the other dangling above the rocks underneath the deck.

“I need a little help,” he said.

Well duh. Except I was newly pregnant and figured trying to get a six foot five, 260 pound man out of a hole probably fell into the category of “heavy lifting.” So I asked him what he wanted me to do.

“Well come here and give me a hand,” he said.

I sighed and slowly made my way toward him down the deck stairs. I figured if I took my time he might figure out I wasn’t going to be any help at all and he’d try to get himself out. And that’s exactly what happened. By the time I reached him, he had managed to stand back up and was examining the rip in his jeans and taking stock of any cuts and bruises. He was in one piece and we didn’t have to call 911.

Since then, another plank has broken (no one fell through that time) and numerous others buckle underneath us every time we walk over them. In short, the deck is falling apart.

I really, really didn’t want to buy a house with a pool. I grew up with a pool and knew how much work they were and knew I would have to actually do some of it if I was the pool’s owner. When I was a kid, I could get away with enjoying the fruits of my dad’s labor without contributing because he never trusted me or my brother to clean the pool correctly. But it was all over when we first looked at this house and stepped out on the deck to see this:

I remember showing this picture to my friends. They were surprised. “Wow, that’s a big yard,” they’d say. Um, no. That swingset you see there is the neighbor’s yard. Our backyard is the pool, two small fruit trees, some shrubs and about four square feet of grass for Molly to poop on. Makes for easy mowing, though.

Nathan was smitten right away. I warned him that pools were expensive and a pain in the neck to cover and uncover every year. If you don’t get the chemicals right you’re either going to have problems with algae or burn your eyeballs out while cheating at Marco Polo. Not to mention we live in Michigan where you get three whole months use out of a swimming pool each year. However, since the rest of the house suited our needs perfectly, we bought it, pool and all.

So back to the deck. As you can see in the above photo, the deck was already pretty worn when we bought the house two years ago. We’d talked about replacing it completely, but since we’re spending our money on such indulgences as a mortgage, groceries and daycare, we really don’t have the bucks for a brand new deck. So what are we going to do instead? Destroy it, most likely.

Actually, we just want to make it less of a hazard. Plus we wanted to re-claim a little bit of our yard so we decided to take down the east side of the deck that border’s our neighbor’s yard in back of us (the one with the swingset).

The thing is, neither of us are handy people. Nathan spent some time in the Air Force, but the Air Force really didn’t teach him practical uses for a hammer. He can guard nuclear weapons like nobody’s business, but when it comes to home repair he frequently calls upon his engineer buddy Ryan for help. Ryan has installed four ceiling fans in our house so far. Ryan rocks as a handyman but wants nothing to do with our deck project, not that I can blame him.

Me? I have a degree in English. I think that says it all.

So far, Nathan has completed some modest demolition on the deck wall. He still wants to get Ryan over here to at least judge whether we’re jeopardizing the structural integrity of the deck. My guess is that it’s going to be okay.

In the meantime, Nathan wanted me to post a few pictures so his friends can see how the project is progressing:

He’s planning on using the planks he’s taken off here to replace some of the ones rotting beneath our feet.

More loosened deck planks. He made a lot of noise doing this. I’m sure our neighbors were ready to call the cops seeing as it was a weeknight and all.

Here’s the hole Nathan fell through. There’s another one like it a few feet away.

Here you can see the corner where we plan to keep the deck and where we plan to pull it apart. I asked Nathan if we were going to put a new railing up. He said no. So instead of falling through our deck you’ll just fall off. It’ll be easier to get to the filter though.

This is what the pool looks like now. Makes you want to jump right in, doesn’t it?


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She loves her some binky

Friday, April 28, 2006

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It’s getting to be that time of year when things are picking up at work. Most people think that summers are relatively laid back when you work at a university, but that’s just not true unless you’re faculty and aren’t required to set foot on campus between the months of May and August. When I was an undergrad I told my faculty advisor once how much vacation time I received each year when I was working at the factory. He shuddered and said, “I couldn’t handle that.”

Anyway, since coming back to work I’ve been pumping the breast milk out so that Autumn can have something to eat at daycare the next day. The office has been pretty cool about me leaving my desk three times a day, but still it’s a bit embarrassing when you have to pick up the phone and tell someone “I gotta go pump” because then you’re sure they’re imagining what you look like with your shirt hiked up and your boobs hanging out with the plastic cones attached and your nipples getting sucked in and out and in and out with the milk dripping into the bottles kind of like this:

So I’ve been toying with the notion of whether to wean Autumn at the sixth month mark. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be breast fed a minimum of six months. That was my goal at first. Make it to six months and then decide if I want to continue.

Another thing is I’m really, really beginning to despise the pump. I have a good one, a Medela Pump in Style that has pretty much paid for itself since I haven’t had to buy formula. I do have some on hand for emergencies, but thankfully it isn’t a staple. That shit’s expensive as hell.

One aspect of the whole pumping process is the extra baggage it adds to my morning commute. Every day I walk into the office, weighed down with the pump strapped to my back, my lunch bag in one hand and my mom-sized purse/diaper bag in the other, because you know I can’t go anywhere without an extra outfit, baby wipes, diapers and a burp cloth. So if you see me walking into the building in the morning, I look and feel a lot like this:

The only thing that keeps me going is Autumn. I just love the look on her face when she knows she’s going to get fed. In the beginning we had such a hard time perfecting her latch. I was always worried that she wasn’t opening her mouth wide enough, but now she sees the boob coming and opens wide. If I don’t get it to her fast enough she’ll cry out as if to say, “Get that thing over here NOW!”

You can tell she’s in heaven when the milk starts to flow. Her eyes roll up inside her head and she’s oblivious to everything else. If I don’t give her a burp cloth or blanket to grab while she’s nursing, she’ll grab at my skin and leave tiny little welts from her nails. Okay, so that part’s not so fun.

I guess now I’m more inclined to continue for another six months or whenever the girl is ready to stop, whichever comes first. All I know is that she’s not going to be one of those kids who drag mommy’s teat to kindergarten.

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Just in the past two days Autumn has started doing this cry that’s a combination of a squeal and a gargle. We call it her Aquaman call.

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Autumn’s been eating a couple of servings a day of rice cereal since her pediatrician gave us the green light at her four-month appointment. Actually, she only gets a couple of servings during the week because C- feeds her cereal at daycare and I feed her in the evening after work. During the weekends I’m just way too lazy to feed her cereal in the morning because, hey, I like to sleep in. But you know what sleeping in for me is now? That’s right, 7:00 am. But I digress…

A couple of days ago we decided to delve further into the land of solid food by offering Autumn some banana. Nathan cut up half of a banana and mixed it up in the Magic Bullet until it resembled something more like the head off a mug of Killian’s. I was in the process of feeding Autumn her cereal anyway and decided to see how she’d like the banana. I held the spoon up to her lips and you’d have thought I was offering her a used gym sock soaked in cat pee by the look on her face. Okay, so the first spoonful wasn’t a complete success.

I ended up mixing the rest of the banana with what was left of her cereal and she ate it without a problem. Yesterday, however, I had the nerve to mix more banana than was apparently necessary because the first bite brought out the horrified expression of culinary betrayal again. She ate, albeit reluctantly and it was pretty much hit or miss from then on. I’d try to stick the spoon in her mouth while she babbled and let the mushy mixture dribble down her chin. I’d scoop it off her chin and offer it to her again while she continued to grunt her dissatisfaction with the whole process.

At this point I have no idea if she likes banana or not or if she’s just not used to it. Nathan and I are hoping she’ll grow up to be one of those open minded kids who’ll try just about anything, but who are we kidding? Kids are bizarre creatures. Raymond exists on hot dogs and processed chicken shaped like dinosaurs and won’t eat pizza with anything but cheese on it. When I was a kid I loved canned mushrooms but couldn’t stand fresh ones. Now it’s the opposite. And don’t get me started on green beans. I’ll only eat them if they’re pickled or smothered in oil and garlic and sitting in a steam tray at the Chinese buffet. Peas? Never!

I guess we’ll just have to face the fact that the girl is not going to like everything we do. We’ll probably fret over what she eats and how much of it she eats and will eventually die of embarrassment when we visit our favorite sushi restaurant and she has a tantrum because there’s nothing on the menu with the word “nugget” in it.

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Most mornings are hectic since I’m now responsible for not only for remembering everything I need to bring to work but everything Autumn needs for daycare. I get up at 6:00 am every morning to feed and dress Autumn and myself and every morning I fail to make my goal to get out the door by 7:30 am. Nathan has started helping out by fixing me breakfast. He still doesn’t get up before 7:00 am, but he makes me breakfast and that helps.

Yesterday I earned the bad mother award for sending my daughter to daycare in heavy corduroy overalls and a long sleeve t-shirt. She’s starting to fit into some of her 6-9 months sizes and I thought, “Oh, this is cute. You should wear this today because pretty soon it’s going to be warm out and you won’t be able to wear it at all.” Apparently Mommy spends too much time watching cable TV and not enough time watching the local weather report because we had a beautiful, warm day yesterday during which the temps reached the 70s.

Our daycare provider usually takes the kids outside to play when it’s nice and told me she had to take the overalls off because Autumn was sweating. I pictured my little girl sitting outside in her t-shirt, diaper and little purple socks and vowed to be more prepared today. Of course I still forgot to send the sunscreen with her, but she was dressed in a cute little ensemble that bared her chunky legs and arms and promised to be much more comfortable than yesterday’s corduroy disaster. I even included a backup pair of jeans and a jacket in case this freaky Michigan weather decides to turn on us. Yeah, I’m still not watching the weather report.

Since Nathan had to leave early this morning, I lost my short order cook and had to fix my own breakfast. I fried an egg and toasted some bread while I dried my hair and Autumn sat in her cradle swing transfixed by The Wiggles, who, I might add, are the TV equivalent to crack. Apparently kids go nuts for them and I have to admit I had the “Hot Potato” song running trough my head to the point where I would have killed to hear the “Macarena” just to switch my inner frequency to another tune.

I was running five minutes late as usual, and as I picked Autumn up out of her swing to put her in the car seat the most foul smell wafted up to me. This was not the normal, sour milky smell I’ve gotten used to over the past five months. Autumn’s eating cereal now and producing some seriously smelly diapers. For a few seconds I considered pretending to be unaware of the problem and let C- deal with it, but anyone with a nose could tell the girl was carrying a load in her pants. In an effort to avoid a visit from Child Protective Services for making bad wardrobe decisions and dropping a soiled child off at daycare, I changed the diaper. I phoned Nathan later to say we might want to consider switching to the heavy duty stage 2 Diaper Genie liners or else our house will start smelling like the restrooms at Wal-Mart.

And this time last year I was sleeping in until 7:00 am.

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Dog blog

In a fit of lunacy and because, you know, I have nothing else going on, I created a blog for Molly here.

We missed our nightly walk last night and I was feeling guilty. I know there are other ways to make up for that, but I think she’s earned her little spot on the internet.

In spite of the title, I can’t guarantee she’ll post every day. Her schedule is quite packed, you know.

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