Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy House-ing

I have complained a bit recently about not-so-good house related issues, so I figured I'd post a couple happy house related accomplishments.

#1: Our dining room no longer looks like this:
I realized something was missing, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Ah ha! A table!

And better yet, a tablecloth. Now I need to start throwing dinner parties. And get curtains, because I don't like those white blind-type things the old owners left behind. Haven't found any that tickle my fancy yet though.

#2, and even more excitingly, thanks to our pal Eddie the space between our front hall and our laundry room no longer looks like this:

It looks like this:

We are still waiting on a slab of Corian to match the rest of the kitchen (we might be waiting awhile) so for now the surface is just plywood, but it's still very useful! There was a big open wall space anyway, it seems like a little kitchen desk belonged there in the first place, and I love having a place to put the laptop and file all my works in progress. I still can't really believe this idea worked out, I was scared the whole time that we were seconds away from hitting a snag that would derail the whole project (can you blame me given how my ideas have been working out since moving into the new house?) but it seems like I measured everything correctly and Eddie did a great job putting everything in!

I'm thinking I might put corkboard up on the wall between the top cabinets and the desk as sort of a little built-in bulletin board. If we don't, we're going to have to paint it again anyway. I'm still waiting for creativity to strike.

Definitely making progress, although I feel like a house always seems like a work in progress.

Now and Then



Same couch, same Santa even, but very different baby!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I robbed a CVS this morning

I got up this morning, and headed out to CVS before Emily was awake. The store in Ballenger Creek opens at 8, and I got there at 8:50. I was already too late for the best of the freebies, but I got a couple good things. Then I got home and realized there was a whole page full of freebies I hadn't noticed, so I packed Emily up and went to a different CVS to see if I could fare any better over there. I went to the one at the FSK mall, despite the fact I was worried it would be packed with Christmas shoppers. It was actually incredibly UN crowded, and I got quite a few more of the freebies. It's strange how so many of the freebie shoppers hit the Ballenger Creek CVS, but at the FSK CVS 2 miles away it's so rare the cashiers couldn't believe how many coupons I got back after my purchase. I guess they don't see people who work these deals very much. That's disappointing, because it turns out that store is closing at the end of December :-( So I discovered a gem only to have it snatched away!

Anyway, getting to the point, here is my haul:
5 bottles of Listerine
5 Arm & Hammer Essentials start-up kits
2 bottles Sally Hansen Lacquer Shine nail color
2 L'Oreal Metallic Eye Shadow Duos
1 box Zipfizz Energy Mix (3 ct.)
1 bag Halls Naturals Cough Drops
1 box Alteril All-Natural Sleep Aid
1 box Excedrin Extra Strength Express Gels (20 ct.)
1 EAS AdvantEdge Protein Bar
1 EAS AdvantEdge shake (4 pk.)
1 box Sleepinal (32 ct.)
1 box Benefiber drink mix (16 ct.)
1 box Iceland Health joint relief (60 ct.)
1 box Zantac 150 (8 ct.)
1 box Slimquick Energy (2 ct.)

Total value of merchandise: $145.35
Amount paid after coupons and Extra Bucks: $0.00, actually I earned $8.00

I'm pretty psyched, because most of these things are things that I or someone I know could use. When I get things I don't need (like blood glucose monitors or things like that) I just donate them, but it's always an extra-good deal if I can use the things I buy!

Then I headed over to Giant. I turned in my coupon and got a free gallon of organic skim milk, then I bought two Olay Regenerist facial cleansers:
Total value of merchandise: $14.00
Amount paid after coupons and mail-in rebate offer: $0.00, actually I earned $12.00

So I had a pretty productive morning. I came away $20 richer than I started out, PLUS I have a bunch of neat schwag, all of which I will use or give to family members who need such things. Sure I could get a job and earn $20 more quickly, but I couldn't do it with my daughter in tow, and this is much more fun than working :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Costly stupidity

When we bought our house, we managed to get a home warranty as part of the deal. I don't know if it was originally meant to be included or not, but we put it in the contract and they signed it, so there you go.

The problem is, this home warranty has sucked so far. The only things that we have had issues with (luckily) are the icemaker in the freezer, and a faucet outside that has started to drip. We called the home warranty company, and they don't cover either of those things. "But wait!" I said. "It says here you cover refrigerators and freezers!". "It's true," said the lady, "but the icemaker is not essential to the functioning of the refrigerator or freezer so that part of the freezer is not covered". And the faucet is not covered because it is outside of the walls of our house. Nevermind it's technically ON the wall and is definitely attached to plumbing that is inside the house. I wanted to dump a bucket of ice on her head, but I didn't have any on hand. Luckily our fantastic real estate agent felt badly that she had led us to believe that the icemaker was covered so she paid to have it fixed :-)

Then, one day, my favorite burner on the stove stopped working. It would get warm, but not hot enough to cook anything. It's a glass-top stove, so it's not as simple as just buying a new element like with a regular stove. I called the home warranty company, and it turns out it was covered! However we would still be responsible for a $100 deductible. Bastards. But my grandmother told me it cost her $250 to get hers fixed, so I figured we'd at least get some coverage out of the warranty.

Well the (rude and smelly) repairman showed up yesterday, took one look at the stove and said "I'll bet it's this switch". Turns out our stove has an incredibly helpful little switch that, when turned on, limits the temperature of the front burner to simmering. I must've bumped it while cleaning or something, and that explains why it stopped working overnight, and why it was still getting warm but not hot.

I was so excited to get some use out of our home warranty that I hadn't even really taken a look at the stove myself before calling them. I'd like to think that had I bothered to poke around a bit I would've realized the problem. And WHY ON EARTH do you even NEED a stupid switch like that anyway?

So the (nasty and sarcastic) repairman charged me $73 to "fix" a stove that wasn't broken. It's less than $100 so we're responsible for all of it, and I am incredibly pissed. I'm pissed at the sleazy repairman for being such a jerk that he charged us $73 for flipping a switch. I understand the whole "trip charge" idea, but he admitted he had two other calls in the area today so given the circumstances I would think he could find it in his heart to give me a discount or something. I'm pissed that the home warranty in effect cost me $73 because I feel like I would've taken a look at it and realized the problem if I hadn't thought to myself "Don't worry about it, it's covered under the warranty and they'll send someone to fix it". But mostly I'm pissed at myself for being so stupid.

If I sound like I'm still inordinately irritated considering this happened over 24 hours ago, it's because I was just recently frustrated by something entirely different. The people who painted this house saw fit to lay a thick layer of paint over every door hinge. This wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that Will gets up an hour before I do, and spends half an hour opening doors. He opens the bedroom door to get out. He opens the door to the laundry room to let the dogs out. He opens the pantry door to get out his cereal. Sometimes he opens the powder room door or the door to the garage. He definitely opens the front door several times. And every single door in our house emits a high-pitched nerve-shattering squeal every time it moves. I figured I'd take matters into my own hands and oil the doors tonight so that I could enjoy a blissful hour of uninterrupted sleep tomorrow morning. Well, each hinge is covered with paint, so you can't get any oil into them as they are. I've tried sticking a nail under the hinge pin and hammering it up, but the paint holds it tight and it's an awkward enough angle that I don't feel comfortable hammering with ALL my strength to get them out. I pried at them with a screwdriver, same problem. The paint keeps me from being able to get the tip in there. So instead of sleeping peacefully tomorrow, I will once again be treated to the screaming symphony of un-oilable doors with no solution in sight.

Any suggestions? For the squeaky doors I mean...I'm afraid my stupidity is beyond help.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weight Watching....again

Last Saturday, I joined up at Weight Watchers again. Whenever I try to lose weight I always use the WW method, but if I'm being honest with myself, I know I have to join for it to actually work. The "Mommy and Me" meetings I attended back in the spring didn't really work for me that well, probably because I had to give 90% of my attention to my little munchkin and not the meeting, keeping her from eating other kids' goldfish and keeping other kids from hurting her.

And if I'm being really honest, the WW meetings are ME time. I enjoy them, I get lots of positive feedback, and I know it's big-headed to admit it, but I love that. I love it when my leader asks me to tell the class how much weight I lost back in '04-'05 and everyone claps. I love it when she asks me to tell the story of how I joined, how I go over my plateau to lose my final 5 pounds and get to goal, and I love the respect all the other women give me, because I've already once accomplished what they're trying to do. And it's not all self-centeredness...I like to share tips and get recipes and clap for other people too.

So I joined on Saturday, and was a perfect eater for 3 days. Then I hit day 4. If I think back on the 10-20 times this last year I've tried to lose weight, it was usually day 4 that did me in. On day 4, my body rebels, and it wants to be full. Not just satisfied, but stuffed. It must be something psychological. I know overeating is bad, I know I should control myself, but I think there's some link in my head between feeling completely stuffed and something good because I just need to eat until I can't eat anymore sometimes. Definite food-related issues.

So anyway, day 4 rolled around. And I ate everything in sight, trying to achieve a certain feeling that my body had been missing the last 3 days. But this time I wrote down everything I ate, which makes me feel awful looking at it, but I forced myself to tally it up. I had used up every flex point I had for the week, which is about twice as much as I'm allotted in a particular day (since this week was only 5 days between weigh-ins). I don't like to use all my flex points in a day, but there it was. And this time, instead of feeling defeated, disgusted with myself and hopeless, I felt like I had learned something. And I knew all was not lost because technically the number of calories I took in was fine, despite the screwed up psychology behind it. Knowing that enabled me to jump straight back on the wagon today. I've been great all day today, and at my weigh in tonight I was down 4 pounds :-)

It's difficult for me to look back at my previous weight loss endeavor and remember that I wasn't 100% perfect the whole time. When I struggle to stay on program for 4 days, I feel like I was a different person back then...a magical person who stuck virtuously to the plan for over a year when in fact I was far from it. I had weeks where I lost only 0.2 pounds, or nothing, or even gained weight. I had weeks where I went over my flex points by 20. But I never completely gave up on a week, and I still lost weight. A lot of it.

So I'm proud that I lost 4 pounds, but I'm also wary. I've done that before a million times this year, the TRUE test will be to see if I can keep losing weight. I think with the meetings I can.

So for now my monthly membership is on automatic renewal, and let's hope I get back to my lifetime weight and don't have to pay for too much longer!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Shame

Well, I did it. It feels so wrong, but it feels so right at the same time.

I bought an artificial Christmas tree. And I kind of love it.

Growing up, we ALWAYS got fresh trees. Not the pre-cut kind either. We did the whole deal, complete with fighting over which tree to cut down, pouting if your first choice wasn't decided upon, yelling "TIM-BER!" as the tree fell on my dad, knocking him into a puddle of melted snow. Well that was only one year, but we still talk about it.

When I was 12, the house my parents built on a lot they bought 6 years earlier was finally complete, and we moved WAY the heck into the boondocks. The lot in question was a Christmas tree farm before my parents bought it, so for 2 years or so we were able to just walk down into the woods in front of our house and pick out a perfect Christmas tree. And for about 4 years after that, we continued to walk down into the front yard to get our Christmas trees, but they got steadily less perfect as they grew wild and huge. They started to resemble giant bushy columns of pine more than an actual Christmas tree, as we had to trim large sparse portions off the top and even larger portions off the bottom in order to access the part of the trunk that was still small enough to fit into a Christmas tree stand. And since they weren't maintained and pruned as they grew like trees on a Christmas tree farm usually are, when we brought them into the house we brought along with them all the charm of the outdoors. By that I mean pinecones, bagworms, birds' nests, and on several occasions egg sacks of different types of insects which would hatch and crawl all over the house, spreading Christmas spirit. Finally our begging worked, and we began to purchase trees again, with my mom grumbling all the while about having to pay for a tree when we lived on a Christmas tree farm.

Ever since Will and I have been married, we have continued this time-honored ritual and gone out the first weekend after Thanksgiving along with my parents to cut our own tree. But every year, Christmas seems to require more and more preparation, time slips by faster and faster, and this year we found ourselves in the week before Christmas with no tree.

On Sunday, as we discussed how on earth we were going to manage to get out and get a Christmas tree before next week, we came to a realization. Our conversation was something like this:

Sara: We have to get a Christmas tree soon, this week is the week before Christmas!
Will: Ugh. I hate getting Christmas trees.
Sara: It is pretty cold and dirty. And you have to drag it so far.
Will: And I HATE tying it to the car.
Sara: And we can't take a stroller, so Emily would be running around in the mud.
Will: And actually driving it home sucks.
Sara: Yeah, it's always stressful making sure you get home without it flying off.
Will: And I hate getting it into the house, AND getting it set up in the Christmas tree stand.
Sara: It does make a huge mess.
Will: And I hate watering it every day.
Sara: It'd be a pain to keep Emily from playing in the water.
Will: And I hate getting rid of it....

And on we went. We realized that what all this meant is that we actually hate everything about real Christmas trees, except the smell and the tradition of it.

So we decided to get a fake one this year, and that doesn't mean we can't get a real one in the future if our kids want to. So I picked one up last night at Giant on my way home. If we were going to "cheat" and have an artificial tree, we might as well get a pre-lit one while we were at it for maximum convenience. I wanted one with LED lights since #1 they last forever, #2 they are energy-efficient compared to incandescent lights and #3 I like the way they look. Giant had them on sale this week, so that was that. I bought the tree less than a quarter mile from my house, threw it in the trunk and drove it home, and today it took me less than 2 minutes to get it set up and lit. Other than the fact that when you look at an LED light straight on it feels like it's beaming through your eyes and into your soul, I really like it. During a time of year where things can tend to get a little stressful, I'm really enjoying the time savings. I'll just have to get some pine-scented room spray or something to make it smell more authentic.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm back Democrats...did you miss me?

Oh, and one more thing. I'm officially a democrat again! It feels good to be back. When I first registered at 18 I looked at the people around me and thought "I'm definitely more liberal than most people here, I'll register as a democrat". Then I went to UMD for 4 years, and saw a new definition of liberal. "I'm definitely not THAT liberal", I said to myself, and I switched my registration to Republican.

Shortly after college I realized I should base my party on what I believe, not on how my beliefs compare to the people around me (i.e. I should be a democrat) but I haven't gotten around to changing my affiliation until now. In the meantime I contented myself by voting against the most conservative republicans, and I'd really rather be registered Independent, but I kind of like being able to vote in the primaries so Democrat it is.

I don't know why, but it just makes me happy to be back!

Slip sliding away

Last Saturday was a nice day. We went to the gym as usual, came home and Will rang bells at the Salvation Army pot (something he does every year through Rotary) and Emily and I put up Christmas lights on the front porch. Well, I put them up, Emily kept her own little unintelligible but entertaining running commentary going the whole time. As we decorated the porch, a light snow was falling, and everything seemed very Christmas-y and nice.

Will and I planned to go to our friend Ken's house that evening for a wine dinner, and so we had arranged for mom to keep Emily overnight. I intended to leave around 6 to take Emily to my mom's house, then stop by the liquor store to pick out our contribution for dinner. My mom called at 4:30 to say that the roads might get bad, so I should probably leave soon to bring Emily over rather than risk coming later. I peered out the window at the friendly little flurries swirling by and thought "She's full of it, she just wants more time with Emily". Nevertheless, I packed everything (and everyone) up, and we left at about 5.

One of the things that makes me happiest about moving to the new house is that we don't have to worry about going over Braddock mountain anymore. I don't think Braddock is technically even a mountain...but at 950 ft it still is enough of a pain in the butt that I'd just as soon live on the side of it where all of my destinations are. The top of Braddock always freezes before the rest of the area, and there aren't many foothills, just a pretty steep ascent and descent.

So as I was merrily driving on 70 through the flurries to my mom's house (on the other side of Braddock), I noticed that traffic up ahead had stopped dead. "Ugh", I thought, "There must be an accident. Probably idiots who are getting freaked out by the flurries." I made a quick exit onto 40 Alt, thinking it would take me longer that way to get to my mom's, but at least I'd be moving and not stopped dead. No such luck. 40 Alt was also stopped dead going over Braddock. Luckily, I made another quick change in my route and headed over to 40. Ahhh, much less traffic.

Except that the actual road got really bad, really fast. As we entered the woods at the base of Braddock, traffic slowed to about 20 mph and I started to realize why the other two main routes over Braddock were stopped dead. People were off the road in all directions. You needed some speed to keep enough momentum to continue climbing, but getting up that much speed was impossible because you'd start to fishtail. I desperately wanted to turn around before I ran out of momentum and started sliding backward into the people behind me, but I knew if I pulled off the road onto the shoulder or into someone's driveway I risked getting stuck or else sliding into oncoming traffic if I tried to make a U-turn. I hung on and crept my way up to the Dan-Dee and pulled into the parking lot. Many people seem to have had the same inclination as me, because about 30 cars were slowly circling around the parking lot like grazing cattle. I managed to get myself turned around, and then I started the slide back into town. I cursed my parents for living on the other side of the mountain. I cursed the county for not having a single salt truck out on the roads. I cursed my Highlander for not having all wheel drive, and for not being as good in the snow as my dear little Audi A3 (go figure).

Anyway, Emily and I got back home unscathed thank goodness. And danged if I was going to miss the wine dinner. I needed some wine! So we packed Emily up and drove the 1 mile over to our friends' house for dinner.

Now you may be saying "Foolish woman, a toddler does not belong at a wine dinner!" and you'd be very right. But I was selfish, and I was overly optimistic.

Everyone wants to believe that their child is the exception to the rule. And even if you have been burned before, if you really want to attend something it's easy to convince yourself to give it another try.

And Emily really was very good. She was in a great mood the whole night, played well with the resident dog, and was generally charming. The problem was, there was an un-gated stairway, which was a huge draw for her. I spent most of the night chasing her up the stairs and holding her hand while she toddled down the stairs, grabbing sips of wine and bites of food here and there. It was pretty casual, so it was ok but I got tired quickly and while friends offered to take a turn here and there and Will did a couple rounds, I was still pretty worn out. On the way down the stairs one particular time, Emily fell. I was holding her hand at the time, but very loosely and her little hand slipped out of my grip and she went head over heels down about 6 stairs. I scooped her up at the bottom, and she wasn't hurt badly but she screamed. And screamed. And screamed. And vomited all over us. Thank goodness she didn't get any barf on my friends' carpet or belongings, but having your daughter take a collosal spill down the stairs and then vomit in front of a roomfull of your childless friends is embarassing. I felt pathetic, like I should have known better, like I was that old mom who had moved on to the next phase of her life but was still trying to act like she fit in with the people with no kids. like I was compromising my child's safety so that I could have fun, and definitely like I should have been holding onto her hand tighter. We got cleaned up a bit, then excused ourselves to go home where I put Emily to bed and then had a total breakdown. After the half hour I spent sliding around on the ice with my heart in my throat, and feeling ashamed for going out to the dinner even though I knew it would be difficult with Emily, the result being my child getting hurt, I was in pretty bad shape.

When you first have a baby, much of your world changes. But there are some things that don't change right away, at least not totally. You can still usually go out to dinner and to friends' houses and your baby will, with any luck, snooze the evening away in their infant carrier. But now, Emily notices when we leave her with Grammy and gets sad when we leave. If we bring her along she gets into everything and I don't enjoy myself anyway. I have been proud that Will and I haven't just disappeared into our house now that we have a kid; I think it's healthy to get out and keep doing some of the things you used to do. But where do you draw the line? I feel bad for the moms who say "I just HAD to get out of the house", because more often than not I wish I spent more time IN my house. I have a lot going on, between friends, all our family in the area, and getting to the gym when I can and I KNOW I'm lucky for that, but it makes it too easy sometimes to try to do too much when it would be in my daughter's best interest to stay home. Plus I am going out on New Years no matter what, so I have to hang out with Emily lots in the coming weeks so that I won't feel guilty!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

I always dreamed you'd be my library buddy

My friend Carolyn gave me the first book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series for my birthday. Due to various circumstances, I just started reading it last week. I really enjoyed the book, so when I finished it this morning, I was anxious to start the second one in the series.

I have also been wanting to take Emily to the library to just play around and hang with other kids, but she has been sick for SO long, and I feel bad bringing my child out to play with other children with her nose pouring. I take her out if it would waste money not to (like to the gym with me and to her sing and sign class) but otherwise we've been pretty sequestered from other kids.

So for reasons more selfish than I like admitting, I bundled her up today and took her to the library. I quickly grabbed the book I came for, then went downstairs and set her loose in the children's wing of the library.

At first she just enjoyed running up and down the aisles, but then she came upon the little play house that sits smack in the middle of the children's section. And right in the middle of the house was a giant stuffed Elmo, with whom she played for quite awhile. I've said it before...I don't know what it is about Elmo but Emily loves him despite her fairly limited contact with him.

We met some cute little kids who were very nice to Emily, and while I was trying to guide Emily through her first usage of a water fountain (she just stuck her mouth in the water and let it all fall right back out, giggling the whole time) we met a nice but WAY too helpful little girl who immediately befriended us and began following us around piling random books in the stroller and screaming "Hey Guys! Wait up!" if I got too far ahead of her while chasing down my toddler.

Upon checking out, it was discovered that I owed $21.80 in library fees. Oops. Most of that was for a book that I had checked out to pass the 2 weeks before I was due to give birth to Emily; the 2 weeks I spent in the hospital and caring for a newborn instead of wiling away the hours on the couch with a book, stroking my giant belly as I had pictured. Anyway, needless to say that book didn't get returned for quite some time after Emily's arrival, plus there were books about Peru which hadto've been from when we actually went to Peru which was almost 3 years ago, and some books I checked out last spring. I don't really mind paying late fees at the library...I consider it my donation for a free service, but I was a bit peeved that I have had books that were overdue accruing late fees for 3 years and no one ever mentioned it so that I could pay the fees before they got so steep. Oh well. It's mostly my fault, but I do kind of depend on the library to tell me when I have late fees and how much they are.

The bad part was that they don't take credit cards, so I had to re-bundle Emily, push her out down the lengthy handicapped ramp, up through the parking garage, carry her up the stairs in her stroller, get the checkbook from my car, carry her back down the stairs, back out of the parking garage, back up the ramp and into the library to pay my fees. Then it took the librarian (who resembled an owl, like most librarians should, but definitely not any of the more intelligent species of owl) over 10 minutes to get my fees paid and books checked out, and despite the fact that Emily was totally freaking out by that point she made me update my address because I was stupid enough to've mentioned that I had moved earlier in the conversation.

So all in all it took me about half an hour longer than I had hoped to get out of there, which is no good when you decided to leave in the first place because your toddler was starting to get whiney and antsy. But our library does rock, and I was able to get some new Baby Einstein DVDs and new Disney CDs to listen to in the car without having to shell out money for them. I'm just as happy to swap out for new music and DVDs every couple weeks anyway, because although the children's entertainment doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does some people (namely Will), I do also have my limits. And as long as I get my deadbeat butt back there to return everything in time, the checking out process should be much easier in the future.

And despite the fact that I was towing a little raggamuffin around with me and trying to go about my business as quickly as possible, I enjoyed visiting the library, and I realized I've missed it. From the tiny bookmobile that used to pull up in front of my house every week as a child, to the gigantic McKeldin Library that allowed you to feel as far away from other people as was ever possible in College Park (you just had to look out for the flashers) I love libraries, and I love how they make me feel. Like all the knowledge of mankind is sitting there, ready for you to learn it. I am good friends with the internet, but it's no library. And sure, I usually end up checking out something from the fiction section instead of anything that will actually expand my knowledge in the slightest, but at least I feel like the possibility is there, and hopefully when she gets older Emily will too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday yammerings

As I was falling asleep last night, I realized that tomorrow (today) is Monday. I couldn't believe the long weekend went by so fast. For that matter, it's Monday December 1st and I really can't believe that November went by so fast. I think about Lyle and Wendy's Halloween party that was exactly 30 days ago and it feels like last week. I guess that's what happens during the holidays.

Now that it's December, I can listen to Christmas music, which is exciting for me and nauseating for Will. Growing up, my mom had these old Christmas albums (and I do mean albums as in record albums) that we listened to pretty much 24/7 during the month of December. As I grew older, it got harder and harder to capture the same feeling of being "in the spirit of Christmas" I know you can never truly recapture the same feeling from your childhood Christmases, but I feel like maybe....just maybe if I listen to Christmas music often enough I can get close. My problem is that I don't own any decent Christmas albums, so I always just used the Christmas music channel on TV. That offered the advantage of not being able to pick your own music so I got the treat of listening to such unbearable classics as Paul McCartney's A Wonderful Christmastime and the formulaic and vomit-inducing Christmas Shoes by Newsong several times a day. Well, we don't have cable anymore, so now I'm reduced to listening to our local Christmas music station over the internet which features the convenience of not being able to pick your own music and the additional advantage of having to listen to commercials and corny taglines.

But no matter what I'm listening to, I definitely need to start decorating. It's been difficult because we were so busy every day this weekend. Thursday was Thanksgiving of course. Friday we had a family business meeting at the newspaper, and after that we went out with one of Will's friends from childhood who was back in town. Afterward we went to the Weinberg center to watch "Dark Side of Oz", which was The Wizard of Oz played with the soundtrack muted and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album replacing it. I'd heard of people doing this but I'd never seen it myself, and I still haven't really seen it because right about the time Dorothy was chatting with the munchkins we got a text that Emily was sick so we went to my mom's house to take care of her. The only problem was I had decided to cut loose and have fun since we had an overnight babysitter, and 2 glasses of wine, a glass of sangria and a peach pomegranate mojito later I was worried I would be in no shape to take care of a sick toddler. But luckily we took Emily home, put her to bed and everything was fine...there are few things more sobering than having to deal with your sick baby!

Saturday was a dark day indeed. I walked into my Salsa Aerobics class, excited to finally get to take it again after a week and learned that Kevan the instructor had quit. It's all very scandalous apparently, possibly related to his recent separation from his wife and his only slightly more recent dating of several girls in the class. Recently I have been branching out a bit and trying out some new cardio classes, but Salsa was still my mainstay so I'm going to have to find something else to take its place although I doubt anything can be as fun :*(

Yesterday and today we've had our friend Eddie over installing cabinets and rewiring light switches. Home Depot wanted an exorbitant amount to install our cabinets (of course) so we're having Eddie do it instead and in exchange we're giving him our old van that he borrows all the time. It's a win-win because now that we've moved and have curbside recycling and don't have to periodically move our inlaws junk out of our house we don't really have any need for a big nasty van anymore. And really it's a win-win-win-win because it also means we won't have to pay insurance on the van and I will be able to park in my driveway and not in the street in front of our house! And if all goes well with our unpacking, I should soon be able to park my car in the garage itself. Incredible.

And as I mentioned earlier, Emily is sick again. Maybe I should just mention when she's NOT sick, because honestly she's had a runny nose since June with just a couple days here and there of wellness. It was funny to me when the pediatrician remarked that Emily must be a very healthy girl because in 15 months we'd only had to make 1 sick visit with her. That is true, but she's been slightly sick for a large percentage of that time so I guess I don't think of her as super-healthy. I probably should, I know how lucky I am that she hasn't had any serious illnesses (hold on a sec while I go knock on every piece of wood I can find) but when she's weepy and clingy and covered in snoot all the time I sometimes forget.

So when she's feeling better, we'll have some fun decorating and doing other holiday-type activities for her first real Christmas. At least the first Christmas that she'll realize is different from any other day of the year.