Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dim sum and then some

Even though I like my job, there is something undeniably satisfying about putting in notice and clearing my mental desk of every work-related stress and headache. No more difficult clients, long staff meetings, or tight deadlines. The only morning alarm I'll be waking up to now has chubby cheeks and a gummy grin. My last day is tomorrow, and I'm going in with no regrets. I'll have more to say on the subject I'm sure, but for now, I'll just catch up with the past week.

Over the weekend we finally got to spend some time exploring Seattle. One of DH's coworkers invited us to a dim sum restaurant for lunch in the International District -- aka Chinatown. For those of you not familiar with dim sum, it's kinda like a Chinese version of tapas. And if you are not familiar with tapas... well, you really should get out more. (Okay, fine. Picture small plates of food that are delivered throughout the meal and shared by everyone at the table.) Normally, this kind of dining is my favorite, because I love having a variety of tastes in a meal. However, the particular dishes that his coworker chose for us were heavy on the shellfish and pork, two of my least favorite edibles. But the experience was fun anyway, and the old Asian ladies pushing the food carts just adored Bean. Then his coworker took us to another shop to have some bubble tea. Never having experienced bubble tea before, DH and I obviously imagined something light and airy. Nope! Turns out the "bubble" is a phonetic translation of the word "boba," which is Taiwanese for "disgusting and thick tapioca balls floating in your flavored tea that go up your straw and gross you out." So DH and I left the International District feeling a bit sick to our stomachs, but satisfied with ourselves for stepping out of our comfort zone. Good times.

I've recently connected with my local LLL group. I sort of stumbled across it and reluctantly decided to attend a meeting. I was nervous because I still have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to breastfeeding, plus the organization sometimes has the reputation of being... well, rigid. Fortunately, this particular group is anything but. Very nice mothers all about making choices that work best for you and your baby, without being judgmental or snobby. Yes, I was caught off guard when the first meeting turned into a boobie buffet as everyone fed their little ones. (What did I expect? Duh!) But I've continued to attend their weekly playgroups, and I really enjoy talking with other moms who are so supportive and encouraging. Today we met at a local "game farm park." What does that sound like to you? DH was picturing wild llamas, but I was going more with the Scrabble variety of game. We were both wrong, it was baseball and tennis. Go figure.

Last night I had three cavities filled. (Motherhood has apparently robbed me of oral health as well as my more dominant brain cells.) On the up side, this is the first dentist I've had where every chair has it's own DVD player and headphones, which helped pass the time as well as distract me from the two people digging around in my mouth. On the down side, I couldn't help but feel that I had just paid $200 to watch half of a movie that I really had no interest in seeing in the first place. I chose "Employee of the Month" from their collection of mindless comedies, as it was the only one in the bunch that I hadn't seen yet. I noticed several times that the dentist had turned his head and was watching the movie while screwing something into my teeth. Excuse me, doc, let's focus on the task at hand. You can check out Jessica Simpson's bosom later in the privacy of your own home. It's called Netflix.

Now we've got a fun holiday weekend ahead of us. Celebrate my last day of work with a fancy meal at Taco Bell; finish painting the downstairs bathroom (never has a simple paint job taken so long); select an outfit for Bean to wear for his six-month professional pictures; and most exciting of all, introduce solid foods to Bean's currently limited liquid diet. I decided we'd start with avocados, given our love of Mexican food. Hopefully he'll like hot and spicy guacamole.

Now the real meat of the post, recent Bean pics. We lucked out and a mom in my LLL group was giving away her exersaucer for free.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Shortly after arriving in Washington, DH and I were at our bank opening a local account. (We had discovered that each account is managed by the state where you open it, so we actually had to close and reopen an account with the same bank. Don't get me started.) Anyway, we were chatting away with the customer service officer about being pregnant with our first child, relocating for DH's job, blah blah blah. She set up the accounts for us, and we left with more paperwork to add to our growing collection. I glanced down and noticed that my occupation was listed as "homemaker." I thought this was odd, considering we never discussed my career (she didn't ask), and especially since Seattle is so liberal / politically correct, I would not have expected her to assume something like that. There was a moment of fleeting annoyance for not getting credit for the hours every week that I spend bowing to the corporate gods, but I let it go.

A few months later, I was speaking with our loan officer at another bank to complete the mortgage application. When she asked about my employment, I explained that I work part-time. "We don't consider part-time income when approving the loan amount," she informed me. Fair enough, no problem. If we really need my measly paycheck to afford the house, we are in BIG trouble. Later when the paperwork came to me, I was again listed as "homemaker."

Maybe they knew something I didn't?

Yep, as of this morning, I have informed my oh-so-understanding soon-to-be-former boss that I'm chucking the shackles of corporate America to surround myself full time with poopy diapers and drool. In other words, I'm moving up in the world.

As you may know, I've struggled with this decision for months. But over the past week or two, my heart and mind have come to unreservedly agree that it's time for me to quit my job, and I feel very at peace with it. Here are the main reasons, in pictorial form:

It's that face, I can hardly stand it. The kid smiles and reaches for me, and I'm in pieces on the floor. I can't possibly work upstairs when my little buddy is downstairs calling for me! He wants his mom, and you know what? His mom wants him, too. Paychecks, promotions, and personal satisfaction be damned.

I'm so proud of my DH, who not only will be working extra hard to help ease the financial burden of me staying home, but who also had to balance his concern for our bottom line with those less quantifiable family concerns in order to agree. In return for approving my proposal to begin what I am calling my sabbatical, he had some reasonable demands and some unreasonable demands. I do expect that he will have to touch the iron again at some point in his life. Even just to put it away when guests are coming over.

Now I have to get started equipping myself for the life of a stay-at-home mom.

  • Jogging suit
  • Chocolate bon bons
  • Pearl necklace
  • Favorite soap opera
  • Mini-van
  • "My kid is an honor student at Gymboree Play & Music" bumper sticker
  • Apron
  • Earplugs

On an unrelated note (or is it?), you must make this recipe for dinner. We tried it for the first time last night. It's amazingly easy and worth every gram of fat you'll be working off on the treadmill later.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Evey update

I have a happy update today that Evey Louise is doing wonderfully. I am so proud of my sweetie pooch! She has been a champion. Those first couple of days, she was obviously in a lot of pain. She would pace the house with her tail down, sometimes whimpering and hiding in her crate. As time passed, though, her tail started to perk up, like a little thermometer letting us know she was feeling better. She seems comfortable being outside, although when the golden retriever next door barked at her through the fence, she cautiously decided to hang out on the other side of the yard instead of calling back to him like she used to. Now she's back to lounging on pillows all day, waking Bean up from naps with her incessant barking ("Mom, look Mom! There are garbage men outside! Come here! Mom! Look Mom!"), and not-to-subtly requesting that I stop playing with the baby to scratch behind her ears.

The dog's owner called last night to apologize for the attack and find out how our dog is doing. She sounded very sorry, almost in tears. (She would have called sooner, she explained, but she works until 10 pm every night.) I didn't really know how to respond, because although I am extremely angry at her negligence in containing the dog, I wasn't going to berate her. I thanked for the apology, but expressed how terrifying the situation was for me and how much pain Evey had to endure. She was confident the dog wouldn't have attacked me or Bean ("I have a three and four year old at home, and he's just fine with children"), but admitted that he has a problem with other dogs. Especially small, white, fluffy, happy dogs, apparently. You know, the really menacing ones.

Anyway, she asked if she could pay us in installments of $50 per month starting September 1. I could feel the stress in her voice; from what I can tell, she's a single mom with four kids at home. I did agree to the payment plan, so long as she would fix the fence as quickly as possible. I refuse to feel like I can't walk safely in my own neighborhood. I'll definitely bring something with me for defense in the future, though. A personal bodyguard for Evester and the fam, like a pit bull or rottweiler, maybe. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

As of this morning, here is the only physical evidence left of that mean old dog's attack. In the background, you'll also see evidence that I haven't hung any pictures and I don't put my shoes away.

This is the pooch a few minutes ago. You may not be able to tell, but she's smiling. Note the upright tail and dirty paws from playing in the backyard. (I really need to paint the walls, it's just too hard to see a white dog on a white background.)

Thank you for all your prayers, I think they worked!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bad Dog

One of my all-time pet peeves is when people are careless and their dogs escape to roam the neighborhood. I immediately take Evey home whenever we spot a loose pooch on our walks. In fact, I'll even go out of my way to avoid a cat on someone's driveway if it looks mean.

Unfortunately, yesterday my fears became entirely founded.

After the babysitter left at 3:30, I fed Bean and put him in the stroller for our daily walk. It was a gorgeous day, and I knew the pooch had a bunch of pee-mail to respond to.

About halfway around our neighborhood, we heard loud angry barking from a mean black lab, which was contained behind a wooden slat fence in a backyard. From inside the house, we heard a voice yell at the dog to be quiet. (There was a second black lab in the backyard too, although it was not involved in the incident.) As we got closer, I could hear growling and see one of the labs scratching furiously at a weak slat in the fence. I was instantly struck with fear and just as I was about to turn around, the lab burst through the broken slat and ran after Evey, who had started to run away but was still on the leash.

The lab got a hold of my sweet pooch at her right hip. I held the leash while the lab pulled her in the opposite direction. I immediately began screaming "HELP!" over and over at the top of my lungs, hoping the owners would come out. I have never, ever screamed so loud in my entire life -- my throat is very raw today. I was afraid to let go of the leash because I didn't want the lab to get a more severe hold on Evey and do more damage. Meanwhile, Bean was crying in the stroller on the sidewalk, and I hoped the dog wouldn't turn its attention on the baby. As I screamed and held tight, I remember thinking in horror, "This dog is going to kill my dog."

A neighbor was driving by and pulled over (we were blocking the street at that point). "I NEED HELP!" I yelled. He was also scared and unsure of what to do as he approached us, poor man. Fortunately, two high-school aged kids emerged from the mean lab's house at that moment. In the confusion, I didn't see whether the lab noticed his owners and went to them, or if they pulled him away from Evey. Either way, the lab immediately calmed down and the boy took him back into the house. The girl looked frightened and apologetic and said, "I'm so sorry."

I ran to Evey, who was whimpering in the middle of the street. Meanwhile, another neighbor ran out of the house next door. She asked if I was okay and offered to stay and help me, so the man got back in his car and left. My mind swirled with confused panic at that point, leaving me clutching the dog and blubbering, "I need help. I have to get my dog to the vet." This neighbor kindly pushed the stroller (with a now calm Bean) back to my house so I could hold Evey. Evey was obviously hurt but allowed me to carry her without any trouble. I begged God to let her be okay. I figured the hind wound would heal, but I was concerned about the tug-of-war I had with the lab. Will she have any damage from being shaken and pulled like that?

As our vet is located near our old rental house, the neighbor (aka my guardian angel) drove her car to her vet just down the street, with me following behind with the shivering pooch and exhausted baby in my car. I managed to call DH at work, and he immediately left to meet me there.

The vet examined Evey while I tried to focus on filling out the necessary forms. I was starting to calm down from sheer panic, but my mind was buzzing and I had trouble concentrating. My right hand was stinging sharply from the leash burn on my skin. While we were meeting with the vet to get his assessment, Bean smiled happily at him while I bit back tears. They say a baby can sense his mother's anxiety -- and while that was definitely true while I screamed bloody murder during the attack, he certainly wasn't picking up on it then, thank goodness. I guess those manly qualities can set in pretty early.

The vet said she has puncture wounds and bruising around her right hip. He was unable to assess if she sustained any head/neck trauma and advised us to watch her for odd behavior in the next few days. (Other than eating nursing shields, I suppose.) They warned me that Evey will be hurting a great deal and to focus on pain management in the near term. I've been giving her as much medication as they will let me, but the poor thing continues to whimper in pain constantly.

Since we came home from the vet's office, there have been brief moments that Evey's old personality comes out. DH took her on a very short walk this morning, and she was pulling forward on the leash as if to say, "Hurry up, Daddy! I've got lots of grass to spray!" When they came upon a poodle, Evey greeted the dog without fear. That makes me so happy I could cry. I hope one day she'll be back to herself entirely. Unfortunately though, until the pain subsides, she's been periodically crying and hiding throughout the house. I miss my energetic, happy, loving pooch.

The friendly neighbor said that while she is unaware of other instances where the lab has actually bitten another dog or person, there have been multiple problems with the lab breaking the fence and attempting to go after her dog as well as neighborhood children. Because mine will likely be the first report with animal control, nothing will be done. But if it happens again -- and hopefully it won't -- but if it does, then there will be more significant action taken.

DH was my hero last night. He calmly took care of me and Evey, making dinner, feeding and medicating the dog, scooping my ice cream, making sure we went to bed early, and staying up at night with our poor miserable dog. He also went to the lab owner's house and spoke to the son. The kid did apologize and agreed that the family will pay the vet bill. We'll see if that happens... I am prepared to take them to civil court if it doesn't. I've seen every judge show on TV, and I've got the time and the anger to see this through.

I had several guardian angels on my side yesterday, making sure that only one of the dogs escaped, saving Bean from any injury, sending the neighbor out to help me, and seeing Evey through the ordeal. I am still traumatized by the event; I keep seeing the attack over and over in my head. I feel guilty for not being able to prevent the incident or stop the lab myself. And my stomach hurts when I imagine what could have been the worst case scenario. Please keep us in your prayers. I know we will be okay in the end, but the next few days are going to be tough.

I can't wait to have my sweet baby girl back.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Signs that you may not use that gym membership

So DH and I have been doing a lot of gum flapping lately about getting into shape. Evey is the only one in the family these days who isn't sporting a generous layer of pudge around her midsection. But instead of putting my money where my mouth is, I've just been... well, putting ice cream there.

In attempt to reverse the growing trend, DH called a local health club that offers free child care while you work out. As expected, the representative was dodgy on the phone when DH pressed him about the cost of membership. Then when DH asked if we could come in and check it out, the representative responded, "Well, we like you to come in and work out with us for about 20 minutes as an introduction." Frustrated, DH's gut reaction was, "Who has 20 minutes to work out? I just want to look at your equipment!"

Needless to say, we probably won't be joining any time soon.

Instead, we are dipping our toes into a new diet plan -- the sustainable kind. The other day I was watching the Mike & Juliette show, and they featured the top four diets per Consumer Reports. Number four was Jenny Craig, three was Slim Fast (worked for me in the past, but it's not nursing friendly), two was Weight Watchers, and number one was Volumetrics. Although not well known, this diet is supposedly the best there is. Intriguing! Seeing as the health club thing probably isn't going to pan out, I decided to get the cookbook from Amazon.

While I haven't read through the introduction in depth yet, from what I understand, the basic and rather obvious theory is that you can lower your caloric intake by replacing some of the foods you eat with more nutritious and filling options, not reducing the quantity you eat overall. In fact, if you follow the author's advice, you may actually be eating more in a day -- and then when it's ice cream time, you'll only be hungry enough for a small scoop, instead of two enormous ones. Now there's a diet my behind can get behind.

And if that doesn't work, I'll just wear my new black yoga pants every day. My DH and our babysitter both asked if I lost weight when I wore them.

I've gotten some surprised reactions to my distaste of our new DVR. I'll admit, I've gotten used to it a bit, and I think it's okay. While Netflix may be closer to my heart, I do appreciate not having to miss the new episodes of Monk and Psych. But now I feel pressure to always be recording stuff, lest I sit down to nurse Bean and have nothing on queue to watch. Then I end up being forced to watch an episode on war machines that DH recorded from the military channel. And as far as liking to watch commercials (or at least using them to escape for a quick diaper change), a friend kindly reminded me that I don't have to fast-forward through them. Good point! Although I just saw a rerun of the Simpsons where Marge gets a Tivo and ends up watching only commercials, and that clown guy tricks them into going to the grand opening of a restaurant, and then he attacks them. So you have to be careful.

Moving on to baby news, mine turns 5 months old today. I find it harder and harder to resist his adorableness as he coos, squeaks, laughs, and reaches for me while gazing lovingly at my face. How amazing is motherhood? It's nothing like I thought, but underneath the exhaustion, frustration, and confusion, I am blissfully happy being Bean's one and only mom. The other day when we were at Qdoba eating dinner, I proposed to DH that we try to have a bunch of kids. He raised an eyebrow, "How many, exactly?" "I don't know... a bunch," I responded. He looked down at my plate quizzically. "What is in that quesadilla?" So maybe he's not on board, and that's probably a good thing. But wow, what an experience it's been.

The sleep problem remains our biggest challenge, and it seems insurmountable at the moment. I am sustained by the promises of my friends who say it does get easier. My next plan of action is to follow the advice of a book called "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I've read some of her stuff in the past and have liked it, and she's from Seattle to boot. (Whatever that has to do with it, I'm not sure. But it makes me happy anyway.) I've gotten through the introduction and the first chapter on sleep safety for infants. It may be no-cry for Bean, but it hasn't been for me so far. I've burst into tears several times reading the cases she presents... that's my baby! And there's hope? I'll keep you posted on our progress, because if this works, it will be an absolute miracle.

There is a movie coming out this weekend called "Pineapple Express." It's an action-adventure-meets-stoner-comedy. An instant classic, I'm sure. Anyway, a few months ago I mentioned a Pineapple Express in my blog. Were you paying attention? Take the poll on the right to find out!