Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Surely not the last time your sister will embarrass you in public.

My darling little man-cub,

Just how exactly is your mama supposed to get anything done in the world when I have that little mug available to nuzzle?  You are the president and CEO of Distract Mommy, Inc. "Keeping Clean Laundry Unfolded Since 2012." 

Your sister, on the other hand, has recently made a career switch. She has taken a sabbatical from her long time position as head hauncho in the cheerfulness division of whatever company generates happy, bubbly children, and accepted a part time position as Director In Charge Of Completely Losing Her Marbles In Public. I'm sure you remember that melt down of absolutely historic proportions in the parking garage of the Bellagio a couple of days ago. Remember? You were snuggled into your Moby wrap with Mama like the sweet little peanut you are when your tiny little baby ears (and ears of all shapes and sizes within a 2 block radius) were assaulted by the most horrific screaming to erupt from Bug's mouth in her two-and-a-half-plus years of existence. You buried your head in my shoulder in shame, trying to ignore the flailing, writhing copper-headed cyclone attempting to escape the confines of her wimpy little stroller presumably so that she and her temper could halt any and all activity on Las Vegas Blvd. with nothing but her vocal cords and the sheer force of her will. 

I will remind her of this experience someday. Someday, when I really need one of my kids to change my old person diapers, you will be spared the job because I will remind her of how perfectly awful she was on the strip in Las Vegas when she was two and a half. She probably won't believe me. How could she?

Luckily for me, I have visual proof in the form of basically my favorite family picture to date.

Makes me laugh every SINGLE TIME I see it.

I'm so glad that when I placed my order for you, I picked the model that skips two and a half altogether.

I love you to the moon, son. Please don't do that to me, k?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What We're Watching

The only downside to summer is the lack of good sports to catch on TV. We're sports fans at our house, and Paddy in particular suffers from withdrawals from the end of NBA playoff basketball through the long, hot months until college football starts. As he's not a baseball fan, he's got nothing but the NBA draft/free agency and the occasional MLS game to keep him occupied on the evenings I'm at work.

Anyway, between the lack of decent sports (hurry up and get here, Olympics!) and summer reruns, we've been a little slow on the lazy entertainment around here. Until, as usual, the Ortons swooped in to the rescue! Even though we have yet to get around to following their advice about watching Downtown Abbey (we are currently the last two civilized people on the planet who haven't seen an episode)(don't judge me), they were still good enough to insist we would love the BBC series Sherlock.

In case you were wondering, it's freaking brilliant. (Why are the British so much better at TV than we are?)

As an enormous fan of the original written Sherlock stories, I cannot express how much I am enjoying this series. I thought the films were fun (they are!) but wow. This series is just so fantastic.

There are only 2 things about this whole situation that are upsetting. The first is that there are only 3 episodes per season. While the episodes are each 90 minutes long, it's still fairly devastating to blaze through such fun that fast. 

Worse, though, is the fact that Season 1 ended in the most wicked cliffhanger and NETFLIX DOESN'T STREAM SEASON 2. The Ortons offered their discs to us, but we lack the necessary BluRay player with which to enjoy them. (I said don't judge me.) Looks like we may be borrowing that part, too. 

If you aren't watching Sherlock, you probably should be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Cadillac stroller does potty time.

By far the most challenging thing so far about having two kiddos is learning how to leave the house. Loading everyone into their respective safety devices and packing a mammoth diaper bag has me pretty much exhausted before we're even out of the driveway. One of the best things about having Mr. Baggins in the spring (as opposed to October, when Bug was born) is that the weather is gorgeous and I can actually enjoy being outside, if I can ever manage to get out the front door. 

When Daddy is home, walks are easy. We put Mr. Baggins in the main stroller we got with Bug's car seat and put Bug in the cheapo $14.99 umbrella stroller we picked up at Walmart before our California trip and off we go. Obviously, this is not a set up that works well when I'm by myself.

The kids and I tried a few different scenarios, including putting Mr. Baggins in my Moby wrap sling (which I love) and putting Bug in the stroller, and putting Mr. Baggins in the stroller while Bug walked. The problem with that last option is that when I say that Bug "walked", what I really mean is that she sometimes moved in a forward direction in between the times she stopped to pick up every stick, smell every flower, and point at every bug. It's fun and educational and whatnot, but not particularly great in terms of stretching Mama's legs.

The sling was becoming a bit toasty with the warmer weather, so I did a bunch of research and found a fantastic double stroller on Amazon. It wasn't too terribly expensive to begin with, and we had a gift certificate that made it just over $100. Let me just take a minute to mention how much I adore this thing. It's like the Cadillac of strollers, I think, only on a Hyundai budget. I can lock the front wheel in place to jog with it, and with the front wheel unlocked it maneuvers shockingly well for something so wide.

Bug thinks it's the most hilarious thing in the world to hang out with Mister B and Mama likes to see the sunshine, so everyone wins.

So the point of mentioning all of this other than to tell you how much I love my new stroller is to mention one of the more challenging two kid moments so far. The kids and I had wandered over to a cheap clothing store close to my house to see what we could see. After several days of success (turns out I should've publicly complained about potty training on the blog earlier, because it's been basically smooth sailing since then) Bug was sporting her big girl panties like a champ. Just as we were paying for our purchases, the dreaded and all important "Mommy, I need to use the big girl potty!" phrase was uttered. Realizing that attempting to make it all the way home would put her pride and my precious stroller in peril, we dashed to the back of the store.

And that's when I realized there was no way, given the current laws of physics, that that stroller was fitting down the hall to that bathroom. I unstrapped the Bug. Couldn't very well leave the Mister all alone, so I unstrapped him, too. Figured it was best not to leave my wallet unattended, so I stuck it under my arm. My daughter, my baby, my wallet, my cell phone and I carefully made our way into the not-so-clean bathroom, all the while trying to move this whole balancing act quickly enough to avoid an accident.

The deed was accomplished, and then I began negotiating how best to get her up to the sink for obligatory hand washing. And as I peeked at myself in the mirror, baby and wallet hanging from my left arm and toddler hefted up to the sink with my right, rushing the whole process lest someone mess with my beloved Cadillac stroller down the hall, I thought: this is my life now. 

I am so lucky, all the potty involvement notwithstanding.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Big girl panties aren't all they're cracked up to be, anyway.

Have I mentioned that potty training is hell?

I have no idea how the human race survives every generation beyond the 2 1/2 year old mark. My experience should suggest a heck of a lot more mothers lying in the middle of the woods surrounded by soiled underwear waiting for the sweet release of a wild animal attack. I'm starting to wonder if maybe Cain didn't take out Abel after all. It was probably just little ol' Eve, who had spent one too many days following Abel around with a rag and carpet cleaner patting the floor in search of suspicious wet spots, until finally she had had enough. I wouldn't even blame the woman. Suddenly the idea of wiping poop off of someone else's diapered bottom for the rest of eternity sounds like the simpler option.

You know how they have those people who will do all the obedience training for a puppy for you? Right now, I'd pay about three thousand dollars for someone to take Bug to a nice farm in the country with plenty of open spaces and barn cats to chase and return her in 6 weeks safety potty trained. Anyone know a good poop whisperer?

Bug absolutely loves her Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse panties. She loves them so much she can't wait to try on the next pair after she pees through the current one. It's enough to make her mother want to rip all her hair out. Luckily for me, the post pregnancy hormones are taking care of that for me, and I'm shedding enormous numbers of strands over every inch of my house without even trying. This morning I actually used a lint roller on the back of the t-shirt I slept in to gather all the stray hairs, and it was awful.

So, in case you were wondering, that's what I'm doing today. Sweeping up hair and mopping up urine.

My life is so glamorous.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Six Stories for Six Years: The Interpreter.

The first year we were married was spent in a little apartment in a less-than-ideal neighborhood of South Salt Lake. The apartment itself was clean and in reasonably good repair, but shortly after we were chosen as managers of the apartment building, we discovered this was the exception rather than the norm in the building. Most of the apartments on the front side of the building had been occupied for quite some time, and the management company did not find it necessary to complete any sort of upgrades to those units, or really even fix things that broke over time. Many of the residents were Spanish-speaking families with low incomes, and I won't even bother to hide my opinion that their background played a role in how poorly the management company cared for them. 

(Although, to be fair, Vince and Mary lived there as managers after we did, and the management company didn't give a crap about their sagging ceiling until the entire piece of sheet rock collapsed on their bedroom, so maybe the company believed in equal opportunity neglecting more than I give them credit for. You should probably check out the pictures on that link to fully experience the idiocy we were all dealing with.)

Anyway, so my point was that the neighborhood was a little shady. Which was why I was more than a little terrified when the pounding on our door began one night at two in the morning. I was sure we were about to be butchered in our beds by a band of trouble makers. After a minute or two of incessant banging on the door, it was clear whoever was there wasn't going away, and Paddy threw on some sweatpants and opened the door.

Almost before I knew it, he was running out the door with one of our Spanish speaking residents who needed him to translate for the paramedics, leaving his new bride sitting on the bed in the dark, filling what was sure to be her last hours of life with visions of what in the world could be going on out there.

Fifteen or so minutes later, Paddy returned (safe and sound, he'd like me to point out) wide-eyed and still mildly confused. It seemed that one of our residents had returned from a night of drinking with friends, passed out on the couch, and began having a seizure. His well-intentioned but horribly ill-informed girlfriend had attempted to pour rubbing alcohol in his mouth (wha...?!?) to induce vomitting (while he was seizing, you'll remember) because apparently this had worked to stop the seizures in the past. (Note: I am not a physician or a nurse, but I'm going to go ahead and assert that this is a very bad idea.) 

The poor man's girlfriend was having trouble explaining this series of events to the paramedics, and somehow in her panic she remembered that Paddy was fluent in Spanish. 

In the end, everyone-- party boy, girlfriend, scared bride, and kind interpreter-- survived the night just fine, with nothing more than a great story for the blog for our troubles.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Six Stories for Six Years: Denney's.

Have I ever told you about the time we got engaged? It was my senior year of college, so I was living in Logan while Paddy worked and went to school in Salt Lake. We had already decided together that we wanted to get married, but hadn't been in any sort of rush to get the ring and make it "official." My only requirement was that he not propose on Valentine's Day. (No big deal if that works for you, it just seemed hokey to me.)

As I've mentioned before, we had our first kiss on January 26th, and we've always had fun celebrating that day as the start of our relationship. January 26, 2006 fell on a Thursday. I had to work that evening at my riveting college job as a cashier at a local dollar store (FACTORY OUTLET STORE, Katie!) and planned on heading home after I got off at 9:00 to spend a long weekend at home with Paddy. He was working that night at his riveting job at a call center. He told me he'd call me on his break, which would be right around the time I'd be headed out of Cache Valley.

In the middle of Sardine Canyon is a tiny, picturesque little town on the banks of a lake. It's called Mantua, and no one I've ever met has had any reason to stop there beyond receiving your obligatory speeding ticket, which mostly everyone in Cache Valley gets at one point or another. (Not me!) During the daytime, it looks like this:

image found here
At night in January, the lake is black and sparkly against the snow, and it's really very pretty. Paddy encouraged me to stop just off the exit there to talk with him while he was on his break so I wouldn't be navigating the steep, winding canyon roads alone at night while on the phone.

Having never stopped in Mantua, I blew right past the exit.

Where, as it turns out, Paddy was waiting on one knee.

So anyway, I tried calling him a few times without luck, and pulled off at the next exit, which happens to be a  construction gravel pit just east of Brigham City. I sat in my car, trying to reach him, when a large truck pulled in behind me. Since I didn't know anyone with a large truck, I naturally assumed it was an ax murderer and pulled away, still desperately trying to reach my boyfriend, especially if I was about to be kidnapped and left for dead in a stinky dumpster behind a Walmart. Finally, Paddy answered the phone, out of breath and panting.

"STOP! DRIVING! PLEASE!" he gasped.

And there, in my rear view mirror, was my almost-husband with flowers and an engagement ring.

A friend had driven him up the canyon, so together we drove home, calling our families and my roommate to share the news. We stopped at  Denney's, the only thing that was open, and I munched on chicken nuggets with my new sparkly accessory.

One year later, Paddy dragged me out of bed just after midnight on January 26th. We trudged through the snow outside our first apartment and climbed into the car, headed back to that same Denney's together for a warm plate of chicken nuggets.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Six Stories for Six Years: We Got Married

The day of our wedding dawned full of sunshine without a cloud in the sky. I got ready carefully at my parent's house, and waited patiently for my handsome groom to arrive. We rode to the temple together in the backseat of my parents' car, which in hindsight seems strange but felt perfectly natural at the time. We walked into the doors together with my mom carefully holding the heavy dress bag that contained my wedding dress. I dressed in a simple white dress for the ceremony, and met my almost-husband outside of the dressing room. We had a bit of time to spend relaxing together before we met our family members for the ceremony.
In that funny way that memories work, the following is the most vivid recollection I have of my wedding day:
A very nice elderly lady who was serving in the temple offered me a little Dixie cup of water. I wasn't really thristy, but it seems like when a nice old lady offers you a beverage, you really ought to just take it. So I did. I took a sip, and let me just tell you that I am being only a little dramatic when I say that the entire contents of that sip slid down my esophogus and directly into my lungs.
Have you ever tried to stop a cough that should really be coughed? It might seem like if you are in a quiet place you should try to mute that cough, you know, so you aren't that one girl who is disturbing the sanctity and peace of the location with your hacking sounds, but you would be wrong. It's a nice idea and all, but really you'll just end up dragging the whole unfortunate situation on and on and on with choking noises and ragged breathing, the way I did. My eyes were watering, and that made my nose run, too. I didn't feel right just winding up for a good nose blow in the middle of the temple, so I found myself delicately dabbing my nose with a tissue and trying to sniff in a way that didn't make me sound like an elephant taking a bath in an African mud pond.

Once I cleared my airway, the rest of the day went off basically without a hitch. The ceremony was perfect. We took pictures outside where it was hotter than blazes, but I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I didn't even notice the sweat dripping down my legs under my beaded dress. Even my mom's broken toe seemed to behave throughout the rest of the day. Cooling cloud cover rolled in just in time for the outdoor reception, and all day long we were surrounded by the most wonderful and supportive friends and family.

It was the start of something wonderful.


Today is the day! Six whole years. 2192 days of wedded bliss. It sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm really not. I am continually amazed that we are lucky enough to have such a happy family. I couldn't ask for a more devoted father to my beautiful babies or unwavering supporter for me. I am blessed. Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Six Stories for Six Years: The Bad Dream

When Bug was very small, I had a nightmare. Like most dreams, the details don't make any sense now that I am awake, but the thought of it still leaves a heavy pit in my stomach and makes it hard to swallow.

In my dream, Bug died. It was so real, so vivid, that I woke up sobbing. My pillow was soaked with tears, and I choked as I gulped in huge swallows of air, trying to breathe with my chest constricted with pain. I rolled over and threw my arms around Paddy, burying my face into his shoulder. He woke with a start, struggling to make sense of his hysterical wife crying in the dark.

Through my tears, I told him about the dream. The telling of it brought on a fresh round of tears. He hushed me, his chin resting on the top of my head while he rubbed my back.

Like always, he knew just what to do.

He peeled my arms from around his neck, threw off the covers, and climbed out of bed. He walked into the nursery and scooped our sleeping Bug out of her crib and brought her to me in the dark. We snuggled her in between us, smelling her fuzzy hair and stroking her little baby head.

When I remember that night, I can see us lying there in bed. We are all tangled up in sheets, our little huddle of three, and Bug breathes deep and slow. I am sniffling and hiccuping, and all that imaginary pain and real life comforting means we love each other, and we are a family.

Six Stories for Six Years: One Happy Island

I don’t do very well in the wintertime. What with the dark and those clouds and all that stinking snow and the ice—curse that ice!—once the holidays are over, I sort of slump over and resign myself to being grumpy for the next 3 months. Paddy has learned that it is in his own best interest to take a short trip right around February to sort of figuratively inject his wife with a tiny bit of sanity. (This year, he decided to make me have a baby instead. Smart boy! Let’s do that every February!) Usually, the trip isn’t that big of a production, just a quick jaunt to St. George or Las Vegas.

But 2008? Oh, in 2008 it was grand! 2008 was the year my dad and Lalli took the whole family to Aruba for our Christmas present. Merry Christmas indeed! We all jammed what we needed for a week into one small carry-on (not hard when it’s mostly a swim suit and a toothbrush and also I’m basically a master packer. Did you know that?) and paraded to the airport. Because we were taking advantage of Lalli’s wonderful JetBlue employee benefits, we had to fly to San Francisco first. A storm diverted us to Oakland, and after a bouncy bus ride across the bay, we were on our way.

Aruba 2008

Aruba was warm and sunny and just about perfect in every way. In typical fashion, however, we could not just relax and enjoy the scenery. We had put an offer in on our house just days before we took off for sandy shores, and we spent more than a few pricey international minutes talking with the realtor about home inspections and appraisals. While we shopped on the touristy row of knick knacks, I happily picked out a few wooden vases, eagerly anticipating placing them in our new home. Paddy was just as excited as I was about the house, but pretty much left the souveniring to me. I encouraged him a few times to find something that would remind him of the trip, but he was happy to focus on procuring virgin drinks and beating the Dutch tourists at beach volleyball.

On the very last day of the trip, as we headed to the airport, I lamented about the fact that he had not chosen any fun items to take home with us. Everyone in our rented van tossed out ideas of things he would like. Someone mentioned the Aruban license plates the vendors were hocking for a couple of dollars apiece.
“C’mon, babe! For your new garage!” I said.

It was like a light went off in his head. “I’M GOING TO HAVE A GARAGE!!” he shouted.

My dad swerved toward the vendor fair, stopping illegally in the middle of the street just long enough for Paddy and Ashton to jump out of the van and run full speed down the crowded sidewalk, hopping over bins of friendship bracelets and beanies with fake dreadlocks attached. Paddy clutched his two dollars (we’re such gullible tourists) in his fist as they weaved in and out of the crowds of people fresh of the visiting cruise ship.

In under two minutes we met them at the other end of the street, panting and grinning broadly, a blue license plate tucked proudly under his arm.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Six Stories for Six Years: The Musical Fisherman

This week the Schmoops and I will celebrate six years of wedded bliss. That's six entire years of Paddy putting up with how grumpy I am when I'm hungry, and six years of me learning to cope with the way his burps smell after a Costco hot dog. I've learned enough about Jazz basketball and BYU football to carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation, and he has dazzled my family until I think they like him better than me. (It's ok. I do, too.) We love each other.

It's our SUPER special anniversary this year since we were married on 06/06/06. (I know, I know. The devil's day. It wasn't really an intentional decision, ok? It just worked out that way.) To celebrate, I'm going to spend the week sharing six of my very favorite marital memories that didn't make the blog.

The Fisherman and Debussy

Paddy loves loves loves to fish. It's by far his favorite outdoor activity, and when we were first married, we used to go pretty often on weekends. These pictures are from a little jaunt we took over Labor Day clear back in 2006 at Trial Lake, my very favorite fishing hole. It's beautiful, first of all, and while the fish are small, there are lots of them and they are pretty easy to catch, even for a fishing novice like me.

Remind me to tell you about the time my foot got wedged in between two rocks on that dam and I fell and sustained a jet black bruise the size of a grapefruit on my right butt cheek. Oh wait. That's basically it.

Anyway, those pictures aren't from the same trip as this story, but they illustrated how young and innocent we used to be.

Now I'm rambling.

So early one Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and headed up the canyon to fish at Strawberry Reservoir. The 'Berry is one of Utah's premier fisheries, but to tell you the truth, we've never had great luck there. It's sort of tough to fish from the shore, and we don't yet have a fishing boat. (The 'yet' in that sentence just gave Paddy a ray of hope for his future. He's probably dancing in his chair in an office someplace.) We spent the early morning much as we usually did. I stood on the banks of the lake in my 50 layers of clothing, shivering and praying for the sun to come up. Paddy got the tackle boxes and poles set up, and tried in vain to teach me a proper cast.

We were tucked away in a smallish sort of cove, and while I sent a few worms to their watery graves, Paddy tried various more complicated lure setups. We both commented on the lake birds that flew overhead from time to time, especially the pretty loons that swooped and twirled toward the lake. Schmoops wound up and sent a rig sailing out over the water just as one of the dark-headed loons glided lightly around the outcropping of land and into our little cove just feet from his lure.

Paddy turned to me, eyes wide with a bit of panic. "I've got a minnow on the end of that line," he said.

Before we could turn back to face the water, the bird began to dive, planting his fat body on the water exactly where the tiny, silver fish on the end of Paddy's line had splashed in seconds before.

Without saying a word, he slowly reeled in the line.

And just like that, the loon slowly slid across the water toward us. Backwards. 

For a few moments, we didn't believe it. Paddy reeled more quickly, and ziiiiip. The loon slid faster. He slowed, and so did the bird. Neither of us knew what in the world to do. I envisioned that loon panicking and taking off, flying in circles above our heads while still connected to the pole like a feathered kite with a heart beat.

To make a long story short, the lucky loon managed to throw the hook somehow, and flew off with a belly full of dead minnow, seemingly no worse for the wear. Paddy reeled in the hook and chose a bait that looked a lot less like breakfast to the local fowl, while I stood next to him, laughing and shaking my head about how we couldn't catch a fish, but we could sure catch a bird.
"I'm going to name that loon," he said, without missing a beat. "Claire. Claire the loon."