Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've been waiting months for this...

Tortilla Soup!  

Picture of Why-the-Chicken-Crossed-the-Road Santa Fe-Tastic Tortilla Soup Recipe
(Picture courtesy of Food network, though mine looks pretty similar)

Yeah, that's what I've been waiting for.  It is one of my favorite fall meals, but since I'd been living with my parents for the past several months, I hadn't been able to make it.  My mom has a major aversion to spice, and this soup is only good when chipotle peppers are used liberally! So, tonight, I got to make it for the first time this fall/winter.

I used to strongly dislike soups, but I've developed a recent affinity for them, especially the hearty ones.  One of my favorite things about them is how very flexible they are.  Start with a base, and then adjust it however you want.  It is the perfect opportunity to get creative for someone like me, who is kind of a die-hard recipe follower most of the time.  This particular recipe is adapted from Rachel Ray's Why-the-Chicken-Crossed-the-Road Santa Fe-Tastic Tortilla Soup.

In addition to have an absurdly long name, it also has some extra steps that I don't think are necessary.  I've found a few shortcuts that I think get the same flavor but with way less work.  I also add beans, which I think bulks out the soup, or allows me to use less chicken if I'm feeling a bit cheap.  Plus, I make mine in the crock pot.  I initially did so out of necessity, but I've found that it is a very satisfying feeling to have dinner preparation completely finished by 1pm, or 2pm, or whenever I get around to it!  So here is my adaptation of her recipe:

Olive oil for sauteing
1/2 to 1 pound Chicken breast or tenders, cubed
1 medium onion
1-2 zucchini, chopped
1 bell pepper, or some frozen chopped bell peppers (red peppers were a $1.79 a piece today! I used frozen from Trader Joe's - worked great!)
1/2 a bag of frozen corn, or 1 can of corn, or however much you like - we like corn in our house!
3 cloves garlic
1-4 Chipotle peppers in Adobo, plus some of the Adobo sauce
2-3 14 ounce cans of fire-roasted tomatoes (or some combination of fire-roasted, diced and stewed.  I highly recommend the fire-roasted in some quantity - it adds a little extra smoke without the work of charring the corn and peppers)
1-2 cans of beans (I use one black and one kidney)
3-4 cups of Chicken Stock
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder

Yogurt or sour cream
Blue corn tortilla chips
Shredded Cheese
Hot sauce

Saute chicken pieces in olive oil until browned.  Remove, add a little more oil if needed, and then add the onion, zucchini and garlic, and bell pepper if using fresh.  Once veggies are slightly browned, but not too soft, add the chipotle peppers.  I like to chop mine a little first.  Put the veggies and chicken into a 6 quart or larger crock-pot.  Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, beans, cumin, and chili powder.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  Add the corn and frozen peppers (if using) during the last 1-2 hours of cooking.

Serve with some or all of the above garnishes, or none, if you want to be all purist.  But I highly recommend the tortilla chips - is it called tortilla soup, after all.  I serve it with a salad and homemade cornbread - very few things can top that!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We need some Christmas decorations around here, STAT

These are the highs this week here in Phoenix, AZ:

Wednesday: 77
Thursday: 75
Friday: 78
Saturday: 77
Sunday: 77
Monday: 80

Eighty!  In December!  I wore a t-shirt and capris today, all day, and was totally comfortable - even a little warm! OK, I realize that I probably have nothing on Bridget in the UAE...but still, these temperatures take a little getting used to.  I have to remind myself several times a day that we are well into the month of December and that, oh yeah, Christmas is right around the corner.

Due to moving/unpacking etc, we have yet to procure a Christmas tree or dig out any of Christmas decorations.  However, this is top on my list of to-dos for tomorrow.  I'm afraid that if I don't make this a priority, it will suddenly be December 26th and I will have missed Christmas all together!

Speaking of Christmas trees, how does everyone feel about fake trees?  I used to be vehemently opposed, but then after my first Christmas tree in NY cost $65, I decided that a reusable $30 fake tree was better on my wallet.  In Portland, Jason insisted that we go to a cut-your-own tree farm, since we were in the land of Christmas trees.  I'm definitely leaning toward a fake tree this year, since it will save in the long run.  However, the actual price of a real tree is pretty the same as that of an equivalent fake tree.  And, as Jason has pointed out, all the trees they sell here are from Oregon...we could own our own little piece of live Oregon for a mere $45...tempting.  But I think the ease of the fake tree may win out.  What do you all do?  Real or fake?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finally, a Reality Competition Show Tailor-Made for ME!

That's right, folks, I'm talking about the Sing-Off!  All my musical nerdiness came to the fore this evening as I watched a capella group after a capella group perform.  The harmonies, the cheesy dance moves, the backup singing and the extreme use of dynamics - it brought back memories of my choral and a capella days back in college.

And, for once, I actually enjoyed the judges comments more often than not.  Ben Folds might be my new hero.  I saw him in concert once, but had no idea he was such a major musical nerd.  His feedback was specific and useful, which I appreciated.  Nicole whatever her name was a little reminiscent of Paul Abdul, and definitely grated at times, but she actually provided real feedback on occasion, which was refreshing.  Although, she did use the phrase "musical orgasm" to describe the reaction of the third judge, Shawn Stockman (from Boyz II Men - my favorite group in 7th grade).  I'm just not sure how I feel about that phrase...

A few highlights:
A group from Berkley School of Music in Boston who made it pretty clear that they thought they were hot stuff, and then they performed and really weren't.  And then, they were the first to get booted.  The one group from a music school?  That is just awesome!

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town - Jerry Lawson was a member of the Persuasions for 40 years.  I mean really, this group is kind of the original.  It was nice to see the purity of pop a capella.

Then was the Gospel group that performed at the end, Committed.  They had never really performed pop music, but they pretty much blew everyone else out of the water.  They performed a Maroon 5 song in a way that may have made it better than the original. They were the group that led to the supposed musical orgasm.

My one complaint about the show was the lack of all female groups.  There were several all male groups - in fact, I would say the majority of the groups were all men.  But women were sorely under-represented.  But I think I'll get over it.

So, with my newly acquired DVR, I will be recording and watching all five episodes of this show and reveling in my musical nerdiness.  Is anyone else joining me on this one?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: Thanksgivings of the Past

Since I did not do the obligatory Thanksgiving Post yesterday, and it is Flashback Friday, I thought I would take you a on a little journey through my Thanksgivings.

From about age 8 through my junior year in college, Thanksgiving consisted of piling into my dad's Honda Accord at 5am on Wednesday morning and driving 8.5 straight hours from Portland, OR to my grandparents' home in Vacaville, CA.  Until I turned 10, it was just my dad and my brother and me.  We fit quite nicely in the car.  When I turned 10, however, my dad married my step-mom who also had a daughter, and from then on it was all five of us crammed in the car, with feet on coolers (so that we wouldn't have to stop) and all of us kids with our backpacks full of car entertainment, all trying not to talk to each other.  Good times.

Once we arrived, we were met by my dad's two sisters and their children (my cousins).  Our Thanksgivings were fairly formal - we all got dressed up, the table was set with my grandmother's finest china a silver, there were place-cards with our names (designed by my cousins and me, of course) and we all waited until all 20 of us were served before we began eating.  Afterward, we changed into PJ's and lounged around the house, finally crashing on the floor on piles of old couch cushions and even older air mattresses that held air for approximately 30 minutes before beginning the slow deflating process that lasted until morning.  After enjoying family togetherness for the following two days, we piled back into the Honda for the 8.5 hour turned 11 hour car ride back to Portland.  Thanksgiving was pretty much the only time that I saw my cousins each year, and was one of the two times I saw my grandparents.  That is probably one of the reasons why I love the holiday so much.

Since college, I've had a series of very interesting Thanksgivings.  Here are a few of note:

The Thanksgiving with the most modes of transportation:  The first Thanksgiving after Jason and I got married, in 2006,  stands out as probably the craziest I've ever had.  My mom's whole family (including 6 brothers and all of their family) decided to rent a house on Orca's Island - a small island off of the coast of Washington state.  Jason and I were living in New York at the time.  I had some extra time off of work, so I decided to fly to Portland for a few days to see my dad and step-mom before catching a plane to Seattle on Wednesday evening.  Jason flew in from New York and met me at the airport, where we rented a car and drove about an hour to the ferry.  We missed the first (and faster) ferry so we had to wait about 2 hours for the next one.  That ferry took about three hours to get to the island.  Once there, we had to drive an additional 30 minutes to the house, on dark winding roads.  Two days later, we turned around and did the whole thing in reverse, complete with a red-eye flight back to New York.  While on the flight, I contracted the stomach flu, and spent the whole flight trying to not to throw up.  I spent the next week off of work, lying in bed.  We decided that we would never, ever, travel for Thanksgiving again.

The Thanksgiving with the longest car ride:  Despite our vow to remain at home for this great holiday, Jason got really depressed about not being able to be with family for Thanksgiving in 2008.  We were still in New York, so the closest family we had were Jason's mom and step-dad in Kansas City, Kansas.  On a whim, we decided to drive there for the week.  It's a 20 hour drive.  We left after work on Friday night and drove through a snow storm to some small town in Ohio.  The next day we drove the remaining 12 hours to Jason's mom's.  And we brought our dog.  Oh yeah, and I was 9 weeks pregnant.  In fact, while we were there, Jason and I had a scare with the pregnancy and feared that I was miscarrying.  So we actually ended up going to the emergency room on Thanksgiving day to make sure everything was all right.  It was.  At the end of the week, we turned around and did the whole drive in reverse.  Everything went fine until we hit Pennsylvania and realized that our car was shaking violently every time we went over 55 mph.  We stopped at a Walmart tire center and discovered that our tires were completely bald and not safe to drive on.  As luck would have it, Walmart did not have the correct tire size.  Our only option was to sign a waver and put the wrong sized tires on our car so that we could complete our journey home.  Quite an adventure.

The Thanksgiving where we should have just gotten takeout:  Jason and I decided to host Thanksgiving at our house last year for 12 people.  My dad and step-mom offered to get one of those prepared Thanksgiving dinners from Safeway, but Jason and I just couldn't bear the thought.  Instead, we decided that we would cook the whole meal ourselves - turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, peas, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake, plus appetizers. If you will remember, we were not in the ideal kitchen situation

Jason and I have yet to create our own traditions around this, my favorite holiday.  Hopefully, we can have some stability long enough to do so...or get creative enough that stability doesn't matter!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Moving Makes my Head Hurt

Ok, NaBloPoMo is kicking my butt.  Or maybe its moving or this cold.  Who knows.  But, I will not back down!  I will finish this thing!

So, at the moment, we are staying with my brother-in-law and his wife while we slowly move stuff from our storage unit and my brother-in-law's garage into our new place.  The goal is to have our beds over there by Wednesday night, and everything else by Saturday. Jason's crazy work schedule, the limited hours at the storage unit, and that sweet little holiday called Thanksgiving are turning this move into a week-long adventure.

Moving, in general, makes my head hurt.  I hate it.  I hate packing, I hate unpacking.  I actually quite like going to a new place, but I hate leaving the old place.  I hate the mess and finding new places for things that used to have places.  There are some things about this move in particular that are doing my head in.

Utilities.  Specifically, phone, internet and cable.  I've spent probably 4 hours pouring over information on line and talking to various representatives on the phone, trying to sort out the best options for us.  There are almost too many options, because I can't just look at monthly bill - I have to consider how that monthly bill will change in 3 months, 6 months or a  year, depending on the specials.  I have to weigh different channel options and DVR capabilities, plus start up costs.  Ack!

Our storage unit.  Yuck.  First of all, I haven't seen any of this stuff for almost 5 months.  Some of it is stuff that we used for the previous year and a bit, and then some of it has been in storage since we left New York because it didn't fit into our weird kitchen/living setup.  We have a bizarre accumulation of furniture from various well-meaning family members, much of which is very useful.  But we seem to have three tables and no chairs, four tvs, several nightstands and end tables, but no desk, and none of living room furniture matches (the wall couch found a new home with my brother when we left Portland).  There is unmistakably too much crap!  And yet, we still don't quite have we need.  Which means that we will probably have to (get to) make a trip to Ikea, to purchase yet more stuff, and then find a place for or get rid of the stuff we already have.  My head hurts thinking about it.

Moving/unpacking with a 16 month old.  Seriously, how do you parents of more than one small child do it?  Working around meals and nap times is one thing, but then there's the in-the-way factor when moving heavy boxes and furniture, and the fact that Cy suddenly requires that he be held indefinitely at the most inopportune times.

OK, back to the madness.  Here's hoping I can muster the motivation for another post tomorrow!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to Heal What Ails You

So.  Day 20 of NaBloPoMo was a fail. But I'm back again.  Cyrus and I have arrived in Phoenix, and I have contracted a nasty chest cold.  Our impending flight and this cold are my reasons (excuses) for not blogging yesterday. I almost didn't make it today either, but then I thought I would share with all (2) of you our family's secret for curing, or at least speeding up the course of, all colds/flu:

Ginger Tea

How to make:

  • Chop up a bunch of ginger, probably at least an inch to an inch and a half chunk, depending on how much tea you want, and how strong you want it. 
  • Add desired amount of water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the tea burns just a little going down.  (This is not a joke.  If it doesn't burn, it's not strong enough).
  • Strain the ginger and serve with honey and/or lemon to make it palatable.  (Again, not a joke.  This stuff is kind of disgusting).
  • Reserve ginger to use again.  We reuse the ginger for at least three or four pots of tea, and sometimes stretch it a bit further by adding a small amount of new ginger to the pot.  

My mom first discovered this when I was in high school, and it took me about five years before I could drink more than a few sips.  However, three or four large mugs of this stuff a day will speed up the course of your illness, and if started soon enough, can even decrease the severity.  I have no scientific evidence for this (although I'm sure there is some), but at the very least, it makes us all feel a little better.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Didn't Know It Started So Early...

This is Cyrus, reading the paper with his Papa. I'm not sure if you can tell, but he is "reading" the sports page.  It's the only section of the paper in which he shows any interest.  Not only that, but he actually requests it!  If he sees the paper on the table, he approaches the nearest adult, asks "up", and then insists "ball, ball, ball" until that adult finds the sports page and flips through it.

He seems to have a major obsession with all things sports.  He sits and watches football or basketball for 15-20 minutes at a time, and gets cranky when the commercials interrupt the game.  Sometimes, he actually grabs the remote, points it at the TV, and then says "ball, ball, ball".

Is this normal?  How does he already have such a strong, and specific, love for sports?  Is this some weird innate boy thing?  My streak of feminism has a hard time believing this, so perhaps it's just specific to Cyrus?  Have any of your kids shown an early affinity for a particular subject or activity?  Did it last as they got older?  I have a feeling that  I'm in for weekends filled with sports, either on the field or on TV for the next two decades or so.

Flashback Friday disclaimer:  All of my flashback worthy photos are in Phoenix.  I had a great idea for a flashback, but didn't want to post it without pictures, and Jason was too tired to send them to me.  Admittedly, I am also too tired to write a lengthy, well thought out post, so maybe tomorrow will be Flashback Saturday...or something.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things I'd Like To Do

So tonight, I'm going to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie.  This might not be the brightest choice, considering that Cy tends to wake up sometime between the hours of 4:30am and 6:30am, and considering that I have gotten only 4-5 hours of the sleep the past few nights; however, this is actually something that I've always wanted to do, but just haven't had the opportunity.  Plus, I found out that my 78 year old grandmother is going to a midnight showing, so really, I had no excuse!

Anyway, this got me thinking about other things that I've always wanted to do, but for whatever reason, just haven't had the chance. Some of these things seem rather mundane, but they still fit the bill:

  • Go camping in the backwoods.  Now, I've been camping, and I've even been backpacking, but always in either official campgrounds, or on the Appalachian Trail.  Neither really give you the feelings of survival and isolation that are so intriguing about the backwoods.  My dad and I keep talking about this, and in fact, we have tentative plans to take on the backwoods of the Sierras next summer, provided I'm not pregnant!
  • Go to a tailgating party and then a college football game.  This one really is just a matter of not having had the opportunity.  Sure, a football game alone would be fun, but I love the atmosphere of camaraderie and school spirit that accompanies the whole pre-game part.
  • Ski.  Ok, so technically, I've been skiing, but I was 7 years old, and it was about an hour at a ski school, and it was awful.  I'd like to try it for real some time.  Snowboarding would suffice too.
  • Grow a garden and keep chickens.  This one seems a little silly, but the older I get, the more I have a desire to be more in control of the food my family and I eat.  I'm never going to be the flower garden type, but a vegetable garden and a few chickens would make me happy.
  • Go Rock Climbing.  I'm a little surprised at my desire for this activity, considering that I hate heights and/or the possibility of falling.  But it seems strangely exhilarating, and very gratifying.
  • Ride a train with both a sleeping car and a dining car.  This is something that actually really, really want to do.  Trains are my favorite way to travel, and I would love to take one either all or part of the way across the country, seeing historic sites, eating in a fancy dining car with table cloths and silver, and sleeping in a sleeping car.  Do they even have these any more?  Perhaps I should look that up before I get too excited about the prospect...Anyway, I've always thought this would make a great family vacation, although probably one of those where I'm super excited about it and my kids roll their eyes and complain the whole time!
So, what are some things you've never done but would like to, no matter how simple or silly?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bowled Over

I had another Mom's Night Out with my Strollerstrides group tonight.  We went bowling at one of those new-fangled bowling-alley-turned-hip-lounge places.  The brick and wood decor, leather couches, and upscale bar food sure beat the smoke infused plastic chairs and hot dogs!  Anyway, bowling is one of the few activities that I enjoy immensely despite the fact that I am absolutely terrible at it. I have been beat by children under the age of ten on more than one occasion.  I think my all-time lowest score is something like 47.  My rather ambitious goal tonight was to break 100.  I managed to get 85 on the first game, but check out my score on the second game (my score is the one circled in red):

Two strikes and a spare, plus a score of over 100?  I'll take it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ode to the Mini Van

Our mini van is packed and ready to go, and Jason will head out at the ugly hour of 5:00am tomorrow morning.  Say what you will about mini vans and soccer moms, but this baby is a beast when it comes to moves.  This is now the third cross-state move for this van, and it has proved invaluable in each.  When we moved from New York to Portland, Jason drove the first half of the trip with the mini van packed to the gills, and towing a trailer with all of our stuff.  We then picked up more stuff from his mom in Kansas, thus ditching the trailer for a large moving truck.  The mini van continued on to Portland, still chalk full.  And, oh yeah, transporting a dog and a cat...

From Portland to Denver, we packed the van full of everything Cy and would need for three (or so we thought) months in Denver, plus the dog, plus whatever wouldn't fit in the moving truck.  Plus Cy and me.

And now, it is performing that duty once again as we complete our move to Phoenix...or begin it, however you look at it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here it comes!

The moving craziness has begun!  By some miracle, we found a house to rent (pictures to come).  And by me, I really mean Jason.  And actually, I don't even mean Jason.  His brother Brian found the house, and then, because Jason had to work, Brian met my Aunt Melissa (a real estate agent) at the house and took copious pictures.  Based on the pictures, we decided to rent it.  Jason decided at the last minute that perhaps at least one of us should actually see the place before we sign a lease, so he swung by today on his way to the leasing office.  It took a series of scans and faxes for both of us to sign all the paperwork, and we still technically have to be approved by the landlord.  But, for all intents and purposes, we have a place to live!

So, here's the plan, as far as we've developed it. I pick Jason up from the airport in about an hour.  Tomorrow we will pack up our minivan and Jason will drive it and the dog down to Phoenix on Wednesday.  I have a surprising amount of crap here in Denver that has to be transported - I'm pretty sure it will more than fill the van! Cyrus and I will finish out the week here in Denver and fly down on Sunday.  (Yes, I got the relatively cushy end of the deal.  It is already a 14 hour drive, and we figured that with Cy, it would probably turn into two days, and Jason didn't want me driving alone, blah blah blah.)

We can start moving into our new place on Monday.  Most of our stuff is in a storage unit in the Phoenix area, and some items are in my brother-in-law's garage.  The problem is that Jason doesn't have a day off until Thanksgiving, so we are trying to figure out just how much we can move using our minivan in the evenings...we shall see.

NaBloPoMo caught me off guard today, hence the lame post. I will try to be slightly more prepared in the future, although, I've just realized that from now until the end of November, my life is going to be in chaos! But I refuse to give in!  I will conquer NaBloPoMo!  Wish us luck!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baby Free

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my mom, my grandmother and I spent Saturday night at a fancy resort about an hour from Denver.  I've left Cyrus for large chunks of a day several times, and have even left before bedtime on a few occasions, but this was the first night that I have spent away from him...ever.  Now, I don't know if this later than usual, or earlier than usual, or right about the time that most moms leave their children overnight for the first time, but for me, it felt like just about the right time.    

Here are the things I enjoyed while being baby-free:
  • Shopping for as long as I wanted without having to worry about a fussy baby who wants to be held right when I'm half naked and trying on clothes.
  • Enjoying my meals at my own pace, with no real distractions.  I didn't have to cut anyone's food, or make sure there were no items chucked at servers' heads.  I didn't have to get up halfway through my meal to take a fussy toddler outside, or try to eat while hold said toddler on my lap and trying to keep him from grabbing my fork, water glass, plate, knife, or any other object within reach.
  • Adult conversation.  Of course, I get this when Cy is napping or after he goes to bed, but it was nice to enjoy it during the above activities, since that is almost impossible when he is around.

And, finally, the best part about being Baby Free for a night?  Sleeping in!  I realized that this was going to be possible on Friday afternoon, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that tears came to my eyes. I love my sleep, and probably the hardest part about being a mom is the total and complete lack of control I have over when and how I wake up.  Since I continue to breastfeed, this was the very first night that I did not have to get up with Cyrus whenever he deemed it necessary.  Sure, there were times when Jason got up with him, but I usually had to nurse him first, or, at the very least, heard him cry and was awoken by the process.  And, in the past four months, I've pretty much gotten up with Cyrus every single morning, and every time that he woke up in the middle of the night, with only a handful of exceptions.  

Of course, as luck would have it, I actually slept quite terribly.  And I woke up at 7:30.  However, I got to lounge in bed for a while, sipping a cup of mint tea, and not wrestling with a toddler.  It was bliss.

All of that being said, I was extremely anxious to see my baby this afternoon.  He was napping when we got home, and I had to momentarily resist the urge to go wake him up.  I say momentarily because I very quickly came to my senses and remembered that you NEVER wake a sleeping baby!  Once he woke up, however, I rushed to his room and cuddled him for as long as he would let me.  One night was definitely long enough for this first trip, but I don't think a few nights is out of the question in the future. Plus, the allure of sleeping in may just be too good to pass up!

This is what it looks like to not be violently ripped from sleep some time between the hours of 4:30am and 6:00am.  Relaxing in bed with some tea.  Lovely!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Three Generations!

In honor of my last full weekend in Denver, my mom decided to treat me to a night at the Broadmoor, a 5 star resort in Colorado Springs. My grandmother flew out from California for a few days, so we decided to make it a girls night - no baby, no grandpa, just three generations of great women! We've already had a lovely day of shopping and dining, and I am looking forward a long night of (hopefully) uninterrupted sleep!  I'm lucky to have a grandma and a mom who are so much fun to be with!

My mom, my grandmother, and me, all dressed up, and enjoying a lovely dinner out!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Journeys of Bear

This is Bear.  He looks a little worn and ragged, but that is for good reason.  He has provided countless hours of comfort and companionship to not one small child but two, and he may well be on his way to accompanying a third.  My mom got Bear when she was 11 years on a trip to Disneyland and he was her companion for the next five or so years.  When I was born, she had him re-stuffed, and he quickly became my most treasured object.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Creepy Trend

As Jason and I try to find a place to live in a city with which we are not too familiar, we have to rely on certain tools to figure out if a neighborhood is worthy to house the Wells family.  One of those tools is  crime mapper that show the different types of crimes that have occurred in that area in the past few months; the other one is a sex offender search.

Tonight, I entered the address of a place we are considering into the Arizona sex offender database.  It pops up a three-square mile map that shows where sex offenders live, as well as locations of schools and daycare centers.  Fortunately, there were no sex offenders in the exact neighborhood of the potential house.  However, I did notice an extremely disturbing trend: It appeared that there were little clusters of sex offenders living near most of the schools and daycare centers!  I was chatting with my cousin at the time, and she had me search her address, too - which is in a decidedly nicer neighborhood - and we found the same thing!  Not only is that extremely creepy, but isn't that against the rules?  If not, it should be.  In some cases, the sex offender appeared to live literally next door or within a few houses of the school or daycare.  That just sketches me out.

So, I would suggest that if you haven't already, you might want to check out your state's sex offender database.  It probably won't convince you to move, and it probably won't convince me not move somewhere (unless of course I discover that one is living right next door...that might be a little too much to handle) but at least by knowing you can be a little more aware of your surroundings - especially if you find the creepy sex offender clusters near your child's school or daycare!  I'd be curious to know if this trend occurs in other cities...Let me know what you find out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dinner: Impossible

One of the reasons that I am so very excited to move down to Phoenix (besides the obvious one of being with my husband) is that we finally get to have our own place again!  We've both been living with family members for the past four plus months, but even before that we didn't totally have our own place.  We lived in the basement of my dad and step-mom's house in Portland for almost a year and a half.  They had moved to California and rented out bedrooms on the top floor.  We had the responsibility of managing the renters and finding people to move in when someone moved out.  We actually had quite a bit of space downstairs, including a living room, a large bedroom for us, a decent sized bedroom for Cy and a bathroom.   Although the separation between the main floor and the basement really wasn't enough to have total privacy, we eventually got used to keeping our voices down in certain areas.

Because we excepted three people to share the upstairs kitchen, we thought it might be an easier sell if we weren't also using it.  So, we set ourselves up in the downstairs kitchen.  Take a look.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who needs Toys R Us?

Cyrus has discovered an assortment of favorite "toys" from around the house.  It doesn't matter that he has a whole basket of toys - these items are way more fun!

 My mom has all these plastic bins for storing ribbon and other sundry craft items.  Cy's favorite activity is to open the containers, take out all the ribbon, unravel it and spread it all over the floor.  When he can't do that, he is content to simply take the containers off the shelves, stack them, carry them around, and then put them back, only to repeat again.  

What is more fun than taking things out of a draw and strewing them about the floor?  Apparently, nothing.  The snack sized ziplocs seem to be his favorite.  I rarely actually allow him to take the boxes out of the drawer and then the baggies out of the boxes.  Cy knows this, so often he runs over and opens the drawer, pulls out one or two baggies, then makes a run for it, giggling all the way.

No, I don't let my child play with oven.  That would be dangerous.  When no one is looking, he pulls this knob off of the oven and runs away with it, hiding it in some obscure location.  I guess it's like hide and seek...

Ok, this one I kind of get, and I guess it is a toy of sorts.  It might be the ugliest thing I've ever seen, and it sings this goofy song about the "Cupid Shuffle"  while shuffling all over the place. (I probably just exposed my total and complete lack of coolness, as I think this might be a real song).  Cy figured out how to push the button to make him sing, so we get to hear this about 50 times a day.  Sometimes Cy lets him dance, but sometimes he gets so excited that he picks him up and carries him around while he sings.  

What odd things do your kids find entertaining?  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Counting down the days...

Ugh.  Cyrus and I leave for Phoenix in 13 days, and suddenly, things that I've been tolerating for the past four months have become completely intolerable.  For some reason, the last two weeks of any experience are always the hardest for me.   In elementary school, the last two weeks before vacation made me restless and antsy.  Anytime I've been away from home for an extended period of time, I hardly miss my family until I'm about ready to go home, and then it becomes almost unbearable.

Now that the end is in sight, being without my husband and being the sole parent for Cyrus is driving me a little nuts.  Not to mention that fact that we've been living in someone else's house, albeit my parent's house, for the past four months.  I lost my patience and yelled at Cyrus three times today.  And it wasn't that he was being unusually naughty - I just couldn't keep my cool.  He has recently started throwing a massive fit every time I change his diaper.  Usually, I try to find something to distract him, or I sing him a song, but today, I suddenly felt overwhelmed and frustrated at being the only parent, and instead of trying to help him out, I yelled.  Loudly.  And I might have cursed.  Now, don't get me wrong, my parents have been incredibly helpful, but it's just not the same thing as having Jason around to jump in when I just can't do it any more.  It probably doesn't help that Cyrus woke up at 4:30am today for the second day in a row (stupid daylight savings time).

I've been trying to remind myself all day long that I just need to make it a little while longer and then our little family can be together again, in our own house. Now, if Cyrus could maybe sleep in past 5am tomorrow, I might just make it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How My TV Obsessions Reflect my Phase in Life

There was a time in my life when I was totally addicted to the TLC show "A Baby Story".  I think it started about a year or so after Jason and I got married, which is probably when I started thinking about having a baby.  I loved hearing the couples' stories and seeing the labor and birth process.  I especially liked the 6 weeks later update.  This obsession continued all the way through my pregnancy with Cyrus.  Sometimes, I panicked about how my birth would go, especially after watching an episode that ended with unplanned C-section or some other complication.  Since I was aiming for a natural birth, these episodes really upset me, especially as I got closer and closer to my due date.  On several occasions, after a panic session, Jason "banned" me from watching it!  I watched it anyway, but tried to limit my panicking, at least for a while.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'll be accepting my award next week...

...for mother of the year.

This beauty happened this afternoon while I was apartment hunting (online).  He ran for the dog bed (one of his favorite places to hang out), slipped, and ran into the heat register.

This happened about three weeks ago while I was working in the garage.  He was playing on the cement step outside of the garage.  I heard him whimper, but he never cried.  Then 20 minutes later, my mom exclaimed "What happened to his head?!?"  This is what it looked like three days later.

My mom keeps chalking it up to "boys will be boys"...but perhaps it's just "kids will be kids"?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday: Apartment Hunting in the Bronx

I have basically spent all afternoon trying to find apartments in Phoenix, which has had me thinking about the last time we looked for apartments.  It was the fall of 2005, and Jason had just moved to New York.  I was living with a friend at the time, and things between us got kind of tense, so Jason and I needed to find a new place to live pretty quickly.

Our budget was $1,000 a month, which, almost anywhere else in the country, seems lush for a 1 bedroom apartment.  However, it was actually quite meager in NYC.  We considered Queens and Brooklyn, two far more hip and happening boroughs, but ultimately decided to limit our search to upper Manhattan and the Bronx.  I felt comfortable with these areas, as I had been living in the Bronx for the past 18 months and commuting through upper Manhattan.  Plus, we figured that we could get more for our money in both space and proximity to the train in these areas.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Soaking up the Fall

My blog background isn't just a nod to the current season, it is an homage to my favorite season!  For as long as I can remember, fall as been my most anticipated time of year.  I have been lucky to spend most of my life in places that have beautiful falls.  New York's summers and winters leave a lot to be desired, but fall there is amazing - all the leaves change colors, there is a crispness to the air before the bitter winds of winter set in and there seems to be a general air of festivity.  I happen to love all of Portland's seasons, but fall is especially amazing.  Then there were my four years in Los Angeles...not so much fall happening there. Since I am soon moving to the land of no seasons, I am pleased to be spending this fall in Denver, where I can soak up most of my favorite things about the season.  Hopefully it will hold me for a few years before I can make my way to another beautiful autumn.   Here is why I love fall (and I realize that these things are kind of cliche, but they truly are my favorites, so who cares?)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Timing is Everything

As you may know from previous posts, Jason and I are not currently living in the same city, nor even the same state.  Our lives are in major transition and we really thought that we would be living together again by now.  However, as of the weekend, Jason was no closer to having a store and I had resigned myself to the goal of being together by Christmas.  I figured that, this way, if we got to be together sooner, I'd be overjoyed, and if it actually took until Christmas, I wouldn't be terribly disappointed.  To this end, on Monday night I bought a ticket to go see Jason for 10 days at Thanksgiving.  On Tuesday morning, I paid for a month of Stroller Strides classes.  Wouldn't you know it, Jason called me Tuesday afternoon with the long anticipated news that he had finally been given a store!  I guess Murphy's law is in full effect in the Wells family.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not a Teacher or a Doctor, but a...?

Remember when we were kids and someone asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up?  I seem to remember that I thought there were only a few handfuls of possible professions available to me: the standards (Teacher, Police Officer, Doctor, Lawyer, etc) and then whatever professions my parents had.  In my case, construction worker, produce deliverer and chef (the latter two were my mom - and yes, at some point around the age of 4 or 5, I wanted to own my own produce company and drive a big blue pickup truck and deliver produce...)  I think that this relatively narrow view of potential professions or careers continued on up through at least middle school, widening to include things like veterinarian or orchestra conductor (don't ask).

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo is Here!

It is that time of year again, and I won't lie, I've been looking forward to this for quite some time.  Last year, I revived my blog with NaBloPoMo in October.  It was the first time since I started it that I posted regularly. I loved feeling like I was finally contributing to the blogging world, instead of just reading everyone else's blogs. While I maintained the posting momentum for a few months, things petered out and then died altogether by the end of April.  I went a full five months before I picked it back up, and I have to admit that part of the reason I started posting in October was to gain momentum for NaBloPoMo in November.

While I enjoyed writing alongside my friend Kristen in October last year, come November, I realized that  many of the blogs I followed were taking the challenge during that month.  I felt a little left out and determined that this year, should my blog need reviving, I would take the challenge in November, right alongside Bridget and a few others.

So here I am.  Ready for 30 posts in 30 days! I've got all kinds of good stuff I've been saving just for this occasion.  Now, I realize that it is late on this, the first day of November, and that the few of you who read this blog will likely not read this until at least the 2nd of November, but I urge you to join me anyway!  Who cares if you're a day late?  Write an extra post one day if it makes you feel better!  All right now, who's with me?

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Beef with Children's Clothing Manufacturers

I'm sure that this will come as no surprise to parents of boys, but there is some serious inequality in the availability of clothing for baby boys versus baby girls (and I expect that this trend continues somewhat as children get older).  Go into any baby department in any store, and you'll notice pretty quickly that the girl's section is about three times as large as the boy's section.  I'll be honest - most of the time, I kind of like this disparity.  For one, I'm a terrible decision maker, so having limited choices is really better for me.  For another, baby/toddler girl clothes are kind of hard to resist - even Jason can't contain his oohs and awes when we happen to wander into the girl's section.  If I had a little girl, I'd be way too tempted to spend money on things we don't really need.

However. There are times when limited choices are a major challenge.  The difference in availability of clothes seems to be even more pronounced when it comes to dressy outfits.  And herein lies the heart of my beef with clothing manufacturers.  It would seem that, unless it is Christmas or Easter, baby boys only want, no, only need,  to wear play clothes or clothes that make them look like tiny versions of some very hip male adult (who is most likely, not a father).  They do not ever need to attend weddings, funerals, or even church.  Unless of course their parents want to spend half a paycheck at some high end children's clothing store.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

It is a known fact in my family that, while she loves it very much, my mom really can't sing.  My father, on the other hand, is very musical, and I like to think that I got some of his musical ability.  I've always considered myself a pretty good singer, and I participated in various touring choirs and solo performances throughout my high school and college years.  My dad claims that I could "carry a tune" from a pretty young age. 

Since my parents were divorced, they both had the duty of singing to me when I was little, which I think I enjoyed very much, at least up to a point.  One of my mom's favorite stories to tell is about the time that I came home from my dad's house after the spending the weekend with him when I was about six years old, and as my mom started to sing me to sleep, I clapped my hands over my ears and ran out of the room shouting "No mommy, don't sing!"

Not one of my finer moments.  Don't worry, though, because it seems that the universe is out to even things up a bit.  I have sung to Cyrus before bedtime pretty much his whole life.  For the last few nights, though, he has started making a highly unpleasant sound every time I start singing to him, and only stops when I stop singing. I have had no choice but to assume that he would prefer it if I not sing to him anymore. This is somewhat heartbreaking - what parent doesn't love to sing their child to sleep? Hmm, I guess now I know how my mom must have felt all those years ago.  Perhaps I owe her an apology...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A little dose of reality...

Lately, I've been feeling kind of old.  Not old in general, but old for a mom with a one year old. I didn't realize it until last week, but I think this is because, for the past year and a half, most of my exposure to moms has been through the Mormon church.  In Mormon culture, it seems to be the norm for moms my age to have children who are already in school and to be on child number three or four.  They might even be done having children, whereas I am just getting started.  All of the new moms I've come into contact with are a good four or five years younger than I.  I got pretty used to being one of the oldest "new" moms in any given setting.  Apparently, this started to give me a complex.  

Because of our current family situation (me living in Denver, Jason living in Phoenix), we've had to delay expanding our family.  And I've actually started to panic about this, because Cyrus is a whole 15 months old and I'm not pregnant again! (Another norm in Mormon culture - when child A turns 1, mom should become pregnant shortly thereafter).  And I'm almost 30! And we want to have four kids!  And I'm so old!

And then, last Thursday, everything came back into perspective for me.  For the past three months, I have been attending a Stroller Strides class here in Denver.  On Thursday night, a few of us got together for dinner and some time away from babies.  All of these moms have infants, most of whom are younger than Cyrus.  Throughout the course of the evening, I discovered that, not only was I the youngest mom there, but I was the youngest by quite a few years - in some cases, a full 10.  And, not only did these women all have young children, but most were still planning to have more.

Huh.  Oh yeah... As far as the rest of society is concerned, I am still young.  I'm not this ancient, time-waster who waited too long to start my family.  

Before I joined the church, and, truthfully, before I started dating Jason, I really thought that I wouldn't even get married until I was 28 or 30, and who knew when I would have kids.  But being around all of these young Mormon moms made me forget that there are lots of ways to live life.  Sometimes, I do wish that I had been able to start my family earlier, but that just wasn't in the cards for us.  I wasn't in a place to get married, much less have kids at 21 or 23 - that just wasn't me.  

There are lots of things I like about belonging to a community where people follow similar paths.  It makes a lot of things easier, especially when many of those paths are not followed by mainstream society. (Abstaining from alcohol and coffee, for example).   But, as I've recently realized, it is important to have my social circle extend beyond this community, if for no other reason then to help me maintain a broader perspective on the different ways that life can be lived.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yep! We're alive...

So. I've decided that going too long without blogging becomes a little like going too long without talking to an old friend. The longer I go, the more guilty I feel, which makes it that much harder to pick up the phone (sit down at the computer) and say hi. Plus, the longer I go, the more there is to talk about and I start to put off the conversation because I know how long it will take us to catch up. Eventually, though, my desire to talk to my old friend outweighs the guilt and overcomes the procrastination. So here we are.

Our little family has been through quite a few changes in the past five months (five!) since I last blogged. A lot of these events deserve at least one, if not more, posts of their own...but if I try to write a post for everything that has happened, I'll get so overwhelmed that I'll never blog ever again! So, instead, here is the reader's digest version of the past few months:

At the end of April, Jason lost his job. It was a contracted position that we hoped would be made permanent, but it wasn't. Along with losing income, we also lost our amazing government insurance plan. We joined the ranks of the uninsured and the unemployed.

Despite applying to well over 100 positions, Jason did not get one single interview - a testament to the dire state of employment in the state of Oregon. So he started applying outside of the state.

In May, we flew to Phoenix, AZ for a job interview with a national pool supply company. They offered him a position as a manager in training. The starting salary is painfully low, but the growth potential is fantastic. So, despite my strong hate of the heat and my love for rainy, gray, fall Portland days, we made the decision to pack up and leave our beloved Portland for Arizona.

Kind of...

Friday, April 23, 2010

I didn't know we knew each other...

but Kevin James must have been standing behind me in Hallmark one day...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Wall Couch

Over the past several years, Jason and I have slowly been working toward having a grown-up looking living room.  This is challenging, though not impossible, when all of your furniture is used, and some of it is free.  When we lived in New York, we had one couch that we bought for $99 from Cort Furniture.  About two years later, we obtained a second couch for free from a friend.  The first couch was purple; the second couch was navy blue.  They didn't really match, but we didn't care.

When we moved across the country, we gave away the blue couch, and "donated" the purple couch to the curb outside our apartment building (our cat had pretty much destroyed it - there was stuffing spilling from the arms).  My mom helped us buy a "new" used couch and recliner for our living room here.  They were both in the brown family, and looked almost like they went together.  However, any hope of having a grown up looking living room was dashed by our rolling kitchen cart that served as our TV stand.  It was pretty college.  

However, once Cy hit about 5 months we realized that he would soon be mobile and that the TV stand just wouldn't cut it anymore - it would only take one time of him pulling himself up on it for the TV to come crashing down on his head.  That's bad parenting, people.  So we searched craigslist until we found a nice entertainment center for $25.  Ahh, our living room was fast approaching grown-up status!

Look at that lovely, grown-up entertainment center!  There are even doors that can slide in front of the TV - you don't get more grown-up than a hidden TV!

Unfortunately, our semi-matching couch and recliner had become increasingly more uncomfortable, and we found ourselves favoring the floor over the furniture - even when Cy was in bed!  Buying new furniture just wasn't in the cards for us, so when someone from church offered a green leather couch, love seat, and recliner set for free, we jumped at the opportunity.  We figured we would keep the couch and recliner and put the love seat upstairs for the upstairs renters. (That reminds me, I'm not sure I've shared much about our current living situation - we live in the basement and rent the three bedrooms upstairs to college students - more about that in another post).  

The furniture is well-worn.  It is seventeen years old and has been well used and loved, but is still in excellent condition, all things considered.  (Although it does smell strangely of a taqueria...) Plus, the couch and love seat each have two recliners built in - sweet!  And, all the pieces are clearly part of a set.  (Don't worry, this is going somewhere, I promise).

We get the furniture to our house, move our old couch upstairs and move in the new couch and recliner.  The living room looks lovely, and, might I add, quite grown up.  The downside is that the love seat is slightly more comfortable than the couch because it was used less.  However, our living room is just too small to accommodate two couches on two separate walls.   And then, Jason gets what he deems a brilliant idea.  

Jason: Let's move the love seat in and line it up next to the couch!
Me: But then it will take up the entire wall!
Jason:  I know!  It will be a wall couch. 
Jason: And, we could have five recliners in our living room!  Five!

Yes, every man's dream.  A room full of recliners.  I see my grown-up living room slipping away, with a college frat house taking its place.   So I tell him that he can try it out, but he has to do it himself - I will have no part in creating the "wall couch".  Giddy as a school girl, Jason moves the furniture around and creates his wall couch.  I figure that he can have his fun, and then I'll tell him I hate it, and the love seat will be gone. 

That, my friends, is a "wall couch"...

But here's the problem.  I don't hate it.  Not like I thought I would.  And, it is actually quite functional.  We each have a couch on which to lie - at the same time!  And, you know, at least they all match.  

So here's my question:  Does the fact that all of the couches match outweigh the fact that we have a line of couches in our living room?  Have I achieved a grown-up looking living room?  Or have I regressed to college frat house?  And, if I have regressed, should I care, or should I just enjoy the functionality, and novelty, of having a line of couches and five recliners in my living room?
Five recliners, in all their glory.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter Olympics Highlights

It has been years since I watched the Olympics, either Summer or Winter.  For Summer Olympics, I have been essentially sequestered in New Jersey for the last three Olympics.  I couldn't remember why I had missed the last Winter Olympics, but then Jason reminded me that they were always on really late at night, and I guess I just wasn't that interested.  When I was younger, I LOVED the Olympics.  Of course, figure skating and gymnastics were my favorites (I'm pretty sure this is the case with most young girls).  So this year, when the Winter Olympics were actually taking place in my time zone, I was all excited for women's figure skating - the rest I would endure if I had too.

However, I was surprised to find that my tastes have grown up a bit, and I was quite entertained by several events other than women's figure skating.  In fact (and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this), I didn't even watch the women's figure skating!  So, here were the moments that I found most entertaining, ending with number 1:

4.  Ice Dancing.  I don't have much to say about this.  In fact, my friend Bridget really summed up how I felt about the event this year.  I always thought it was the sad little sister to pairs skating, but I found it quite enjoyable this year.  Read her post for a more articulate response. 

3.  Bobsledding.  OK, I'll admit it, my only exposure to this sport is the movie Cool Runnings.  It didn't seem all that exciting to me, until we happened upon it and saw the US break the track record not once, but twice.  I was on the edge of my seat each time they took to the track, but most especially during their fourth run, my eyes glued to that little clock and the time of the German team in first place.  I was also shocked at how awful it looks when a team crashes.  I believe it was the Russians during their first run - I was kind of horrified, but couldn't pull my eyes away.  In a weird way, it almost made it all more exciting.

2.  Men's 4x10K Cross Country Relay.  Seriously, who would have thought that this would be exciting?  This certainly wasn't an event we planned to watch - we just happened upon it on Wednesday evening, right as the fourth and final leg was beginning.  For some reason, Norway was expected to do well, I think because of their fourth and final skier, Peter Northug.  But at the start of the final leg Northug was 37.5 seconds behind the three leaders - kind of a lot for just 6 miles.  The anouncers commented that if anyone could do it, it would be Northug, but they had pretty much written it off as impossible.  As we sat and watched sections of the race, we saw that Northug was getting closer and closer to the three leaders.  Just before the final mile, Hellner from Sweden pulled out front, leaving the skiers from France the Czech REpublic behind.  The amazing thing was that, each time we saw those two skiers, Northug was getting closer and closer.  By the time they entered the stadium, he was right behind them!  There I was, cheering on this crazy skier from Norway in a sport about which I cared very little!  I knew the gold was out of his hands, but I so badly wanted him to overtake the other two and win the silver.  And then, he did!  He got this amazing burst of speed and just flew by the other two guys, looking almost effortless.    It was a surprisingly exciting moment!

1.  Men's Short Track Speed Skating, specifically Apollo Ohno, and more specifically the final of the Men's 1500.  Who knew that short track was oh so exciting?  It's a bit like roller derby, and can change in the standings can change in the blink of an eye.  Every time I watched Apollo skate, I was just sure that he wouldn't medal - and almost every time (the exception being when he was disqualified from the men's 500) he made it, just in the knick of time!  His moves were effortless and graceful - every time he passed someone, I was in shock that it had happened so quickly!  My favorite moment was in the final of the Men's 1500.  Apollo was in fourth place, with one lap to go, and there was just no way he was going to make it.  I got so stressed out that I stood up and then sat back down, inadvertently sitting on the cable remote at exactly the crucial moment!  I happened to hit the button that brings up the guide, covering the entire TV screen, but stilling allowing us to hear what happened.  Right when the TV went blue, the two South Korean's in first and second place took each other out, putting Apollo in second and the other US skater in third!  Jason was less than pleased with me at that moment.  It was a very exciting race, made even more suspenseful by my over-excited, klutzy behavior!

I think the Winter Olympics has a new fan.  And now I'm kind of excited to see what the Summer Olympics has to offer in 2012. Bring it on!  What were your favorite Winter Olympic moments?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not So Roseola!

Yeah, let's not talk about how long it has been since my last post...I have a newsflash - motherhood is hard!  (Wait, this isn't news? huh...)  Motherhood is hard even when you have a really easy baby.  And let me just say that, thus far, Cyrus is a really easy baby.  He smiles most of the time, rarely cries (except during middle of the night diaper changes) fusses for very brief moments when I take away something he wants, naps for about 4 hours a day, and only wakes up once a night.  ( I realize, by the way, that I am tempting fate here - don't worry, I'm fully prepared for him to turn into a heathen at any moment.  For now I will enjoy what I have!)

Although I kind of knew that he was a pretty good baby, I don't think I fully appreciated just how good I had it until I got a taste - albeit a very small one - of what he could be like.  Cy started last week with a really high fever - it was 104.4 at the highest.  I took him to urgent care on Monday and they told me that, besides the high fever, he seemed to be in pretty good health.  Apparently, they don't really worry about the fever unless it stays there for 12 hours without ever going down, goes up to 105, or shows some other symptom.  The doctor did mention, however, that he could be getting Roseola, which basically starts with a high fever for about three days, then presents an all-body rash once the fever breaks.  Those are the only two symptoms, according to the doctor.  (Remember this, this is important).

While Cy had the fever, he slept even better than normal.  On Monday night, he slept 11 hours straight, a record.  He took 2 2.5 hour naps on Monday and Tuesday.  Then Tuesday night he started waking up every 3 hours or so.  By Wednesday morning, his fever had just about broken, and only reach about 101.  There was no rash, so I figured we were in the clear.  He didn't nap particularly well on Wednesday, but I didn't think that was too big of a deal.

Then Wednesday night, he woke up every two hours.  On Thursday, the rash showed up, along with a different baby.  My previously easy-going, smiley, happy baby had turned into Mr. Sensitive Cranky-pants.  He cried at the drop of a hat.  Every time I laid him down to change his diaper or put on clothes, it was like the world was ending.  If he toppled over and bumped his head (which he does about 30 times a day) he screamed like someone cut off his finger.  If I left him for more than 30 seconds, I'm pretty sure the whole neighborhood could hear him. You get the idea. He also went from taking 2 2-hour naps to taking 1-2 1 hour naps.  Yeah.  This was not just "Oh, Cy is having a bad day".  This was full-on fussiness.  (Which, by the way, does not seem to adequetately describe what was going on, but that seems to be the official term for just doesn't quite cut it for me).

If I thought that was bad, however, I was really in for it Thursday night.  Not only did he wake up every two hours, but he woke up angry. Inconsolable, red in the face, full lungs angry!  Nursing only worked half the time.  He was awake for about 2 hours from 3am to 5am, and would start crying for no apparent reason every 2 minutes or so, then calm down, then repeat.  By the way, this NEVER happens.  Once he's down for the night, he wakes up to nurse, then immediately goes back to sleep.  He didn't even really do this was he was a newborn.  I was beginning to see why some people only have one baby...

So I did a little digging on the good old internet, and found several sources that listed some additional symptoms of Roseola - one of them being high irritability and fussiness.  Bingo.  Some other symptoms were poor appetite, a minor cough, and minor diarrhea - all of which Cy had, but had been overshadowed by the fussiness.  (Have I mentioned yet how fussy he was?)

So I called the doctor back because, although the internet properly diagnosed his symptoms, the doctor had failed to mention these things, and I wanted some assurance that Cy hadn't come down with some other awful illness.  They had me come in Friday afternoon, and basically confirmed that he had Roseola.  However, the doctor still seemed perplexed by the other symptoms and gave no real explanation.  Whatever.  This is a case where I think I believe the internet over my doctor.  I was just glad there was nothing else going on.

Fortunately, Cy's fussiness is gone, he is back to waking only once a night, and taking blissfully long naps.  And I am thanking God, the Universe, fate, and anyone else who might be involved, for giving me this sweet, easy baby.  I do know that Cy could turn into that other baby again at some point, and for real this time, with no weird illness to blame.  I also know that Baby #2 (or #3 or #4) could be that fussy baby full time, and I am fine with that.  I think...

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's a New Year

Sigh.  Things in the blogging world just kind of petered out at the end of 2009 for me - not quite the big finish I was hoping for.  Oh well.  Here's to a new month and a new year, hopefully full of more consistent blogging.  I can proudly say that I averaged 48 posts in 2009 - just shy of one post a week.  Not bad considering that I went five full months without a single post.

So this post isn't really a real post.  It's more just my way of kickstarting my sluggish blogging brain.  One of the unfortunate side effects of not blogging for a few weeks is that I get a bunch of ideas rolling around in my head, which, rather than make it easier for me to blog, just makes it harder.  I'm hoping that by seeing something posted in January it will take the pressure off and make the next post roll out more smoothly.  We shall see.

As cliche as it is, I am going to post a few...well, I hate to call them resolutions, so let's call them, um, goals? That's not much better. But you get the idea.  Some things I'd like to try to accomplish for this upcoming year.

1.  Read more books.  This is kind of a vague goal, and really isn't setting the standard very high since I only read 3 books in 2009 (shameful, I know, especially for a former book worm).  So, instead, I'm going to make the rather lofty goal of reading 25 books this year.  That's a little fewer than one book every two weeks.  I better get on that...

2.  Related to goal #1 - make full use of the library.  I am a book-buyer from way back. I like to own my books, what can I say?  However, if I'm to read 25 books this year, I can't really afford to buy them all, not to mention how difficult it will be to find storage for them in my storage-challenged house.  So, the library it is. Plus, I want to encourage the habit in my wee one.

3.  Blog more.  Ha! Another vague goal.  But really, I kind of already started this back in October.  At the very least I'd like to stay close to current on Cy's blog.  It's been a good six weeks since my last post on that one, and his grandparents are getting antsy.  Maybe a post a week is a good goal for that blog, and perhaps two posts a week for this one?  Maybe if I just try to average 2 posts a week, that will give me a little more flexibility.

4.  Make more of an effort to stay in touch.  I kind of suck at this.  The more I move the more people with whom I develop friendships, and the more overwhelmed I get at staying connected.  I think it's just a matter of putting in more effort, even just in little bursts.  Perhaps I should make this one more specific too.  Ok, here it is - call or e-mail one friend a day.  This might seem a bit over the top, but I think if I keep this in mind it will get me off my butt and help me connect with people who I do actually care about.

I'm quite sure there is more I would like to do, or at least more that I should do.  But for now, we'll leave it here.  Thanks for indulging in this somewhat stream-of-consciousness style post.  I promise to be more articulate in future posts...well, maybe I can't promise that, but at least I'll try.
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