Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When it rains...

This Monday, I took a qualifying test for the Stanislaus County Office of Education as part of the process of being considered for a program secretary job. It pays just about the same as I'm making at my current job, but there are a few differences-- first, there are no evening meetings. What a blessing that would be! Second, it is in the Human Resources department, which is where I'd eventually like to end up. It could be a stepping stone type of position for me, and once I'm in I'd be able to apply for in-house vacancies that are not open to the general public. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one...

Then, this afternoon I checked the mail and found a letter from the Housing Authority of Stanislaus County, responding to a job I applied for in-- get this-- December 2010. What the?! Apparently, I made it through the first round of eliminations and have been selected to participate in a pre-qualifying test next Tuesday. Talk about waiting a little while to hear back from someone! I don't even have the copy of the original application that I sent it, because I just went through my old "Jobs Applied For" file and tossed everything older than 2011. Well, I guess this means that I've still got a few options on the board. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gentle hands.

This weekend, I had the most amazing experience while putting Ethan to bed. We had finished our usual ritual of bedtime story (current favorite: Little Book of Mother Goose Rhymes), bedtime song (Itsy Bitsy Spider and my original "Ethan's Lullaby"-- which I've been humming or singing to him since he was born), and bedtime hugs and kisses, when the atmosphere suddenly changed... I was leaning over him giving one last kiss goodnight, when he reached up and gently stroked my cheek. Then, he touched his own cheek in the same area, before stretching out his arm again and stroking my other cheek and then his own. He continued to do this sort of mirror-touching until he'd gone over our cheeks, foreheads, lips, and chins, all the while gazing into my eyes.

It was so moving and surreal and introspective; I kept wondering what exactly he was thinking, and what this experience meant for him... after he'd finally had enough, he pulled me down for one last kiss and said "'Night, mommy," before rolling over to face the wall. I left there and couldn't stop thinking about that strange, interesting, genuine experience we'd shared. What a precious gift from my little boy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Birthday week.

Had a great birthday. Joel upgraded my Kindle e-reader to a Kindle Fire, and I love it. Not necessarily for reading, though; more for the extras, like all of the apps and games and netflix and so on. My new "toy." :)

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Julie's family, at the usual potluck with lots of birthday shots (my new fave liquor: Stoli Chocolate Razberi vodka, yum!) and delicious ham with sweet potatoes... low key, great friends, and not much drama. Just wish Ethan had more buddies around his age.

Speaking of Ethan, we couldn't go anywhere over the long weekend because he was sick, poor thing. Even had to miss his buddy Chase's birthday party at Funworks, boo hiss.

I've got to come to terms with the idea of not having another child... and quick, too, before I "accidentally" take matters into my own hands and end up regretting it.

Sayonara little ones, more later.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Ethan woke up crying out in terror at 2:40 a.m. I ran into his room and knelt next to his bed, stroking his back and murmuring comforting words while he cried, begging me to get rid of the bugs. I assured him there were no bugs on him, and he said "No, mommy! The bugs are on daddy!" I told him daddy was asleep in bed and he said, again, "NO, mommy! Daddy fell down on the bed and now he's all red and covered with bugs!" That sent a shiver up my spine. What a terrifying image to have in his little head! It took him about 45 minutes to fall asleep again... and most of that time I spent wrapped up in his arms while he tried to calm down. Poor thing. :(

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wow. Long time, No blog.

So much has happened since the last time I was on here!
To sum up:
- My parents have moved-- yet again-- but this time they're in senior housing. Next stop after this: Assisted living, primarily for my mom. Guess this means we're all getting older...

- My little baby boy has graduated into toddlerhood and now has (basically) mastered a major rite of passage: potty-training. Most mornings he wakes up with a nice, dry bed... and most days he has no accidents. Today, he had his biggest accomplishment yet: he went into the bathroom, took down his pants and underwear, climbed onto the potty-seat, and went potty-- pee *and* poop!-- all by himself. That was the first time he has pooped of his own volition in the right place; up til now he was struggling with that one. I'm so very proud of him!

- This weekend, Joel & I go to the City to hang out, visit our favorite spots, check out Hobson's Choice and the vintage stores and then attend Blackout SF to see DJ Drag'nfly (among others) and dance all night. Can't wait. :)

Anyway, I'm sure there's more, but it's these long, drawn-out posts that make me reluctant to keep up with my blog, so I'll stop there. Short, fast, and sweet-- like the apple pie pops I made tonight. Yurm....

Friday, October 14, 2011


My neck pain started up again on Sunday, after my body shifted a little bit while driving over a small bump in the road. The minute my body bent to one side while my neck listed in the opposite direction, I knew it was going to be ugly. I said "Oh no!" and Joel immediately reached over to touch my neck. It was just a twinge at first, but got worse until I could hardly turn my head to the left. I can't bend it at all to the left, but now I can actually turn it fairly well, which makes driving much easier. Still, I have a lot of stiffness, which means reversing out of a parking space is kind of a challenge.

When I told my doctor about it, she recommended coming in for an x-ray. The results showed that I have a mild spondyloarthropathy of the lower cervical spine with muscle spasm. What a mouthful! I'll be doing some more research to find out what exactly this means, but meanwhile I have a physical therapy appointment next Tuesday. And I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I find it so difficult to deal with my husband's intimacy and other relationship issues. I'm not sure whether they stem from his childhood experiences with a father who abandoned his large family, or if it's just a special sort of self-centeredness and selfishness innate to the male gender, but JEEZ LOUISE it's frustrating as hell. I know that I've met other men who are very "into" their families or spouses or kids-- guys who are enthralled by their wives, who look forward to time alone with their child, who actually enjoy being in a family... and I wish that my husband was more like that. Why is it so hard for him to see me & Ethan as just as important as himself?

Take tonight, for instance... he comes home half an hour early from class. Does he think, "Oh, great! I get to see my son before he goes to sleep for once this week!" or even, "Well, Melanie takes care of Ethan every single day after work while I'm in school until after bedtime, so maybe tonight I could step in and take care of tooth-brushing or story time and put my son to bed..." Of course not. He actually told me tonight "I'm still on school time! This is my time to study." HELLO! As if I'm not in school full-time, too? As if I'm not working full-time, and also taking care of Ethan too??

Whatever. I'm just so bugged by the whole thing I can't talk about it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Camping-- review

We had a great time camping with Ethan and his aunt Stefanie this September, but I believe much of it was due to the fact that Joel's brother let us borrow his camper-van. I mean, it didn't have a functioning heater, A/C, fridge, stove, or bathroom, but it DID have a way to sleep inside away from the bugs, rocks, noise, and cold of outside. Ethan definitely loved it, especially the fact that it had a DVD player and he was able to kick back inside in his carseat and watch "How to Train Your Dragon" for the thousandth time. What an easy-to-please boy!

I don't consider myself a pampered princess by any stretch of the imagination, but I do find myself becoming more and more reluctant to suffer unnecessarily. I'm happy to rough it, but even happier if I can actually sleep without pain... in this case, from the very uncomfortable sleeping area in the camper-van. I thought it would be more like our old RV, which we slept in wonderfully last year at Burning Man. Instead, I could hardly sleep at all because of the pain in my right hip from pressing into the hard platform all night. Add to that the fact that Ethan was sleeping between Joel and me and kept turning his body perpendicular to us, so that his head was resting on Joel's arm and his feet were kicking into my chest or stomach all night. Man, that kid is an active sleeper! I woke up in the morning and could hardly walk. It was pretty painful; thank goodness we remembered to bring ibuprofen, because a couple of hours later I was well enough to go back out for another hike/walk with everyone.

All in all, it was a great weekend, and I'm glad we were able to go. It was worth missing out on homework time to get in some great family time. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hair Chop

I love my little man... especially with his new haircut. It was getting so long recently that he was complaining about his hair hurting his eyes. Now, I know Joel wanted him to grow it out just like his daddy did when he was a little boy, but come on-- if it's interfering with your vision, it's way too long.

So the other day, when I was cutting Joel's hair, Ethan got all excited about getting his own haircut and I took advantage of the opportunity to shear his locks. Sure, it's choppy in some areas-- but he's still gorgeous!

This is one of the best things about motherhood-- being able to experience this pure, joyous, whole-hearted love and share it openly with your child. I feel so blessed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Camping Trip!

We borrowed a camper-van from Joel's brother and plan to head up towards Pinecrest-Strawberry on Saturday morning for some camping adventures with Ethan and Stefanie. I've packed everything (I think) except Joel's stuff and the refrigerated food, so we're pretty much ready to go as soon as Joel has his stuff ready.

I can't wait! I love camping, but can't stand freezing to death or sleeping on top of rocks/bugs, so the camper-van seems perfect. Especially when we're bringing Ethan with us... just can't imagine tent-camping with an almost-three-year-old.

The camper-van also seems to be ideal for Burning Man trips... which puts all sorts of little thoughts in my head for next year. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Lovey" Pants

For the first two years of his life, Ethan had a crocheted baby blue blanket (made for him by our friend Vy Kamrar) that he carried around, pulled apart, and loved nearly to pieces. Just before his second birthday, it "disappeared" into a memory box I'm keeping for him. Since then, he hasn't really found a replacement lovey... until now.

Now, his security item (seen clutched to his chest in this photo) is a pair of tan pajama pants patterned with images of construction vehicles like tow trucks, cement trucks, and caterpillars. He loves those things. He carries them everywhere. And I mean, everywhere. We took him to Ikea once and almost left them behind on a kitchen display-- I thought I was going to have a heart attack, running around from showroom to showroom trying to find them.

He sleeps with them bunched up next to him on the bed, too, and sometimes even gets to wear them to sleep in when it's not too hot at night. I'm trying to find a pair that will fit him when it gets colder... any suggestions would be most appreciated!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

School Blues

I am feeling so overwhelmed and tired from all of this schoolwork. My current class, Business Law, is intensive and requires about twice or even three times as much effort and participation as my previous courses. This week, for instance, our reading assignment is for 8 chapters-- EIGHT-- which are supposed to be read, understood, and processed before you can even turn in the first assignment on Day 3 of the week. Then there are the two case study discussion posts, citing case law and precedents, then responding to at least two (the minimum required to get a C grade) but preferably more other students' discussion posts... that's per Case Study. So I post two essays, then respond to 2-4 other essays, initiating a discussion in which I'm expected to respond to their responses (and the instructor's) as well.

And that's not even getting started on the weekly paper. Or the term paper. Or the fact that this goes on every week for six weeks until the next class begins. There are no breaks until school ends next August with my graduation. Ugh! Too bad I'm not rich enough to stay home and do this instead of working 8 hrs a day, then coming home to be mom (and dad, because Joel's in school every weeknight until after Ethan's in bed) to a 2 1/2 year old every night. I get to work on schoolwork either during break time or lunch at work, or after Ethan goes to sleep. It's a struggle, but I have to keep reminding myself of why I'm doing it... this is so that we can get on the path to where we want to be with our careers, our family, our home, and our future. Just have to keep that thought up front and center to stay motivated!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Barbecue Time

I threw together some veggies (bell pepper, mushrooms, red onion) and some chicken and pineapple meatballs and used our fish-rack to grill them up...

Ah, sweet, delicious perfection! Between the two of us we ate almost everything. Time for Round 2 yet?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pool Boy

It seems that August fairly passed me by with so few posts that you hardly know what happened! Well, for starters, Ethan (re)discovered that he loves his pool.

We got it at Target on sale for only $15... and what a great "toy"! It has a slide, two pools, and can be hooked up to a hose so that water gently (or not so gently) sprays out of the tops of the two palm trees. He adores it. Not so much getting tons of water in his face, but maybe that'll just take getting used to.

For now, he's happy as a clam whenever he's in the water.

In fact, he's started practicing laying back in his bathtub when the water is only a few inches deep... he'll say "Lay down, mom?" and then slowly lower himself backwards into the water, giggling and gasping the whole time, until he's flat on his back. About two seconds later, he's squirming to get up.

I can't WAIT to take him in for swim lessons next year! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hide Out

Ethan's favorite hiding place is in the triangle formed where the smaller couch angles out from the gate around my computer area to the brick fireplace. He goes back there when he wants privacy for things like, oh, I don't know, trying to open a medicine bottle he somehow filched from the counter, or opening up colored markers he just found, or perhaps even attempting to avoid going to the bathroom for potty-time by taking care of it solo...

Sometimes I'll notice him running back there and that's my cue to take him back for potty-training time, and other times I'll know it's time to check for stray silverware, permanent markers, or other contraband items. He gets suspiciously quiet every time he's hiding, too, which is a big red flag in itself. Still... if he just has to have a hidey-spot, I'm glad it's out in the main room and that he's usually a good sport about getting found back there. Now, if only I had my own hide-out...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Potty successes!

Ethan is finally starting to get the hang of this potty training thing... Tonight, for instance, he was in the bath and started passing gas, then looked up at me with this sort of pensive, thoughtful expression, as if waiting for something. I asked him, "Do you have to go poo-poo?" He replied, "Umm..." So I told him, "Why don't you try to go on the potty?" and lifted him up onto the seat. About 30 seconds later, he said "Mom, I did it." And he was right! I praised him to the skies, and he even got on the phone to tell Daddy what he'd just accomplished. He was so excited! He even got to wipe, and flush, and wash his hands just like a big boy. His big reward? Going through the car wash with Daddy tomorrow.

Later, he spoke on the phone with his aunt Fie (Stefanie) and told her the story as well. Then, after putting him to bed, he called me in three more times to help him get up and go potty on the toilet. He's so excited about it now, and I'm so proud of his efforts. Next step is that we'll have to make the bathroom more accessible so that he can get in there and do his thing whenever he needs to, with or without mommy being right there. I can't believe he's growing up so fast!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Accounting Attack

I have finally reached the limits of my understanding. This Accounting class has taught me that I'm not as smart as I think I am. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the numbers, the formulas, the ratios and calculations and percentages that seem to be hiding on every next page, multiplying in the dark recesses of the book and laughing at my inept attempts at comprehension. This reminds me of when I was taking chemistry, organic chemistry, cellular molecular biology, and other horribly difficult classes at CSU Stanislaus back in the late 1990s. I thought I wanted to be a botanist, because I'd had one great class with an excellent instructor who really encouraged me to live up to my potential... without knowing, of course, that most of my success in that class was due to the fact that so much of it was writing and drawing rather than math-related. Once math came in to the picture, as it tends to do when you're studying science, my goose was cooked.

So here we are, the succulent aroma of cooked goose once again wafting through the room, and all because of accounting. Who knew I'd get the same whipping by a math-based class twice in one lifetime? You'd think I'd have learned my lesson the first time!

Yet the show must go on. Time to carve up that goose and make a meal of it, then get back in the trenches and do my best to hammer this stuff into my brain cells. Eventually, I'll get it, right?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Snap to it

Ethan loves baked snap peas. He loves them with a passion usually reserved for M&Ms or soda, and he likes to share them with his toy trucks whenever possible. (The trucks don't seem to like the snap peas as much, for some reason.) They're one of the only vegetables he eats, at this point, so I'm happy to have at least one green thing going down his gullet. And they actually taste good, too! They even have "Caesar" flavored ones, which are quite tasty either straight out of the bag (his preference) or on salads. So I say munch on, little one! These critters'll do until you broaden your palate a bit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Potty Training and Smiles

Started potty training in earnest today... and he's gone potty in the potty chair once already, and another time ran over to me saying "I'm wet, mom!" while wearing his Potty-Scotty underpants. I have a feeling success will be counted in these small victories for quite some time. Then again, it seems like a great day every time I see that smile, so who really cares about another clean-up on aisle 5? :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Before and After Allergies

Ethan hasn't had any major allergy issues lately, but then we've had him on chidren's Zyrtec every day since the last episode. Just as a comparison, this is what he normally looks like.

And this is what happened within half an hour of getting that scratch on his arm outside in the back yard a month ago or so... here' s the scratch:

This photo didn't come out very well because the lighting was poor and we were stressing to get ready for the urgent care, but we started getting worried when we saw that his eyes were getting so swollen that he was straining to keep them open... and this is what started happening to his face:

What you can't see is that the whites of his eyes were bulging out enough to actually prevent him from closing his eyelids all the way. It was pretty scary... just hope we don't have to go through that whole thing again. Since that day he's had three or four minor incidents, but we gave him benadryl and eye drops and it went away within 30-40 minutes. Still don't know what he's allergic to because I can't seem to get an appointment with the allergist my doctor referred me to, despite multiple phone calls and messages. Today I'm going to dedicate myself to calling until I get through to someone; they're going to give me an appointment by 5:00 p.m. today, or I'm driving up there in person!

Sorry, crazy mom attack just now. ;)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mile a Minute

Ethan is talking so much these days... his speech goes along in waves, where for months he'll sort of sit back and store up language and phrases and expressions, and then BOOM! Right when we're starting to get worried about him lagging behind in his speech, he pops out with "Daddy's bringing me the tools, Mommy!" It's so crazy. Thursday, I was talking to Joel on my cell phone when Ethan said "I want to talk to Dad, Mom" and took the phone. He then proceeded to chat with Joel, "showing" him the toys and TV and books that he'd just been playing with by turning the phone around and pointing the display screen around the room. It was pretty adorable. Then on Friday, I was talking to my mom and asked Ethan if he wanted to say hi to Baba. He took the phone with this gentle smile on his face and said, "I wuffoo, gamma"-- completely unrehearsed and unprompted. It was the sweetest thing ever!

That's my boy... already a heartbreaker, at two and a half. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Allergy Attack!

Yesterday, we took Ethan to the urgent care (Kaiser's emergency room) because he was having an allergic reaction to something. In fact, we believe that "something" was the long scratch he'd gotten from one of the rose bushes in the back yard. About 10-15 minutes after the scratch, he came over to show me his arm, which was now sporting a huge lump about 1/2 an inch to an inch high along the entire scratch. And that's also when I noticed he was rubbing his eyes, which were swelling up, turning red, and starting to water. We gave him Benadryl at first because of its antihistamine qualities, but another 10-15 minutes later I looked over and saw the corners of his eyes, which were starting to bulge out. I don't mean his eyelids-- I mean, the actual whites of his eyes were bulging as if there was liquid or air building up behind them. Just like this:


Needless to say, not what you want to see when you're looking at your two-year-old. We freaked out and drove like maniacs to the hospital, where eventually the doctor examined him and found that the swelling was starting to go down enough to send us home. He prescribed Zyrtec and then told us to follow up with our regular doctor for an allergy test as soon as possible. I'm sort of surprised that he didn't give Ethan any eye drops while we were there, but I didn't even know about that until I got home and did some more research. He also told us to keep up with the Benadryl every 6 hours until the swelling was gone for 12 hours altogether, so we're still dosing him up because it's still lingering on. Poor thing! Must be so uncomfortable... and here I was hoping he wouldn't be cursed with the Valley allergies that everyone seems to get. Ugh!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Musings from the Sickbed...

So, while trapped at home struggling to get better this past week, I was able to finally get down to some serious contemplation. Not really, but I did come out of it with some interesting thoughts.

- Not being able to speak carries with it a sense of peace, a tinge of mystery, and a gratitude that I didn't fully understand until I could talk again. I was grateful after the fact that I couldn't say all of the impulsive, thoughtless, reactive things that I can say now, and that I realize I say far too often. I was grateful that I couldn't spout off the slight bitterness towards my husband that I sometimes allow full rein, a bitterness that does nothing but injure both of us. And I was grateful because my silence allowed my son and husband to say more than they usually do, when my volubility can overwhelm them.

- Being somewhat dependent on others makes you realize two things: First, that it's not a comfortable place to be, and Second, that you suddenly see who you can rely on and exactly how far. It might be a friend who checks in on you regularly to see if you're okay, or it might be someone who offers (sometimes forces) their assistance rather than waiting for you to ask. It might be a co-worker who steps in to help carry your workload while you're out, or it might be the boss who blames any problems on your absence. It's a funny position to be in, because it can be a vision-clarifying one.

- Sick days always make me slightly resentful, as well. If I were single, I wouldn't have that luxury. No, I'd be stuck with getting myself better and not worrying about how anyone else was or wasn't taking care of me. Now that I'm married, I get to watch my husband sort of move through the days as if nothing were wrong, letting me deal with feeding the child, putting him to bed, making sure he's ready for school in the morning, and so on-- only stepping in when I clearly state my request and add "Because I still have a fever and can hardly stand up!" to it. Why is that? Why doesn't he see how sick I am and want to take care of me? Is this need of mine to feel cherished and valued so selfish and absurd? Does it mean I want him to become my "wife" instead of husband? Not to me, it doesn't, but trying to convince him of that might be a lifelong struggle. I just wish, somehow, things were different.

That said, I'm almost back to 100%. So I guess the point is moot, until next time that is...

Thursday, July 7, 2011


... which stands for, of course, the Bermuda Triangle of Infectious Disease. First, Ethan's out for several days with his virus. Then, on the 4th of July I woke up feeling very ill-- tired, worn out, drained of all energy, a little dizzy. Turns out I had a fever, so I started taking ibuprofen. Didn't help much. Later that day my throat started hurting. I woke up Tuesday morning with what felt like little shards of glass in my throat, making the act of swallowing quite painful. And guess what? A throat injury is like a back injury; you never realize how much you actually use it until it starts to hurt. Ouch....

Anyway, went in to the urgent care Tuesday a.m. and got some Amoxycillin prescribed. Took the day off work, hoping to feel better. Woke up Wednesday actually feeling worse-- throat was even more swollen and extremely painful, could hardly speak, still had a fever, coughed up some blood (turns out, it was from my throat, not lungs) and just generally felt miserable. Called in to the urgent care for advice. The RN who called me back was concerned, and gave me another two-day note off from work. She prescribed Prednisone to help reduce the swelling, plus a lidocaine rinse to deaden the pain a bit. Altogether, it seems to be working. Still painful to speak or swallow, but much less so than before. And I can't really afford any more days off work, both financially and in terms of the massive workload I'll have waiting for me on my return.

As a friend said on Facebook, when I get sick, I *really* get sick. No halfsies for this girl, I go whole hog or don't go at all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Took Ethan to the doctor today because his fever was 102 all day yesterday, even with the Children's Tylenol. This morning, he woke up complaining about his mouth hurting, and when I looked inside I saw tiny red spots, some raised, across the back of the roof of his mouth. The first thing I thought of was strep throat, but that would be way too normal (and treatable!) for my kid! Instead, it was "herpangina." Yes, you read it right the first time. I went to, a pediatric health website, to get the skinny:

What is herpangina?

Herpangina is the name of a painful mouth infection, usually with a fever. Even though the name sounds like herpes, almost all of the many viruses that cause it are coxsackieviruses or other enteroviruses—not herpesvirus.

Who gets herpangina?

Herpangina is most common among young children but can occur at any age. Once people have had a specific strain of coxsackievirus, they are generally immune, but they could become sick with one of the other strains. Most infections occur in the summer or early fall, with a peak from August to October in the northern hemisphere.

What are the symptoms of herpangina?

This illness starts abruptly, usually with a fever. Often the fever is high (103–104°F). Occasionally, children lose their sparkle (and appetite) a few hours before the fever begins. The mouth sores usually begin at the same time as the fever or shortly afterward. Children average about five blisters in the mouth. These blisters are surrounded by red rings and can occur in the back of the throat, on the roof of the mouth, on the tonsils, on the uvula, inside the cheeks, or on the tongue. The blisters may start as small red bumps and may go on to become ulcers after the blister stage. The illness usually lasts 3 to 6 days.

Almost all children with herpangina have a decreased appetite – swallowing may be very painful. Other symptoms might include headache, backache, runny nose, drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea. Children first become ill 4 to 6 days after being exposed.

How is herpangina treated?

Antibiotics do not help with herpangina. The important issues are getting children plenty of fluids, relieving their pain, and treating their other symptoms as appropriate.

So, I'm now on day 2 (unpaid) off of work, looking at possibly another one tomorrow... WHEN WILL THIS FINANCIAL DISASTER END?!?!?!?!?!? I mean, I hope he gets better soon just because it's painful and uncomfortable for him, but also because every day off work sucks another $100 out of my paycheck. God, I need benefits NOW. :(

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sick again!

Poor Ethan is sick today, running a fever of 102 all day long, even on children's tylenol. Joel stayed with him all morning and I came home early from work to stay with him, as he can't be at daycare with a fever. Poor thing, I hate watching him so lethargic and ill. Hopefully he feels better very soon. Not only because it's better for him, but because we really can't afford to miss more work! Today was $80 lost from my paycheck. :(

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dental Drama: The Toddler Edition

Joel took Ethan in today for his first dental visit, and it wasn't good news. He has a cavity that needs to get sealed off so that it doesn't get worse and potentially cause major problems with his mouth and possibly health. Unfortunately, we don't have dental coverage for him. Paying cash means that they'll work with us on payments, but we still have to put down a hefty deposit ($350) before they'll consider working with us. I haven't asked them yet if they accept Care Credit, which is sort of a medical/dental/health credit card, but maybe if they do we can use what's left on my card to pay for the services. It's going to be a total of around $1300 to take care of his poor tooth. Ouch.

And you want to hear something weird? The dentist wants us to floss Ethan's teeth. Floss? At his age? I honestly don't think I flossed until I was a young adult. Like, even in high school, which is so gross now that I look back on it. But to think that my poor little guy is already having dental issues, when I treated my teeth so horribly and didn't have any major issues at such a young age, just confuses and saddens me.

Bad mom award, for not keeping his teeth pristine until he can do it himself. :(

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Six years ago...

...I met my husband at a local bar in downtown Modesto. It was a Saturday night, June 11th, and the day before I had seen my junior high students walk the stage at graduation. It was the weekend, finally, and I was out having fun with my sister and my best friend, Julie. We sat at the bar, talking and laughing and telling crazy stories, just trying to forget the busy week we'd all just been through. Suddenly, a man walked up to us and pulled out the Schmooze card.

He was a pretty slick talker, to be sure, and had that confidence and swagger that many women find attractive-- until they realize that it's actually a mixture of braggadocio, machismo, and ego that tends to grate on the nerves after a very short time. I had him pegged within a few minutes; it wasn't my first trip around the block, after all.

But while we all bantered back and forth, I noticed a tall, fit-looking guy standing several feet away, almost as if he were waiting for something... or someone. I asked the first guy, Dave, "Is that your friend over there?" And he said, "Yeah, that's my buddy Joel." I took that first step, born partly of liquid courage and partly of curiosity, tinged with just a hint of something even deeper, stronger, and smiled at him, calling out, "Joel, come on over!"

And the rest, as they say, is history... or at least, a history that is still being told. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nursemaid's Elbow: The Return

Ethan hurt his arm again on Monday. I came to pick him up from daycare and he was sitting on Miss Janet's lap, cradling his arms and crying. She hadn't seen him do anything, and wasn't even sure where he was hurting-- thought for a bit that he might be having gas pains or something, because he was holding his arm across his stomach. But then when she went to lift him off her lap, I noticed he was holding his arm oddly, and almost immediately suspected that he'd injured his elbow again. Sure enough, he was acting the same way he did several months ago when he was diagnosed with "nursemaid's elbow"-- basically, a dislocation of the radius bone in the elbow. It usually happens when they get pulled by the wrist too hard or swung by the arms, but in this case Janet's not sure how it happened.

The doctor at Kaiser said that there's a chance this is just going to be more likely now that it's happened a couple of times, and we'll have to be aware of it. He even showed me how to fix it myself, but I'm just not sure I'm up to it. I'd rather pay the $35 and take him down to the urgent care every time, at this point. Anyway, they fixed him right up and he's as good as new (ish). Now, if we can only figure out how to keep him from getting these elbow dislocations, I'll consider it a success!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Ethan said the sweetest, most touching, adorable thing this morning. It really moved my heart, and almost brought me to tears as well. It was early, and Joel was just getting ready to leave for work. Ethan called him over to say goodbye. The exchange went something like this:

Ethan: "Daddy, 'mere!"
Joel: (walks over) "Okay, buddy, I have to go now."
Ethan: "Kisses." (points to mouth)
Joel: (kisses Ethan) "Aw, thanks, buddy, I love your kisses!"
Ethan: "Hug." (lifts arms up)
Joel: (hugging Ethan) "You give great hugs!"
Ethan: "Bye daddy, fuffoo!"

And that's where my heart was seized by his two little hands and squeezed, ever so gently. Because "fuffoo" is his way of saying "I love you." And it was the first time he's really said it, at the right time, unsolicited, and fully cognizant of what it means. It was amazing. Now, when's my turn? ;)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


So, I was sick for quite awhile, but got better and then didn't have the motivation to post. Whoopsy! Must be the barrage of schoolwork and evening meetings that's keeping me slightly out of whack, because usually I like to write on the blog. It keeps me centered, somehow, less lost in my own thoughts...

Some updates:
* Might be getting hired full-time (as opposed to still being a temp) as of July 1st... and the boss said that they're thinking of adding new, improved health coverage options starting in August... but we'll count those chickens when they're hatched. If I don't get hired soon, or get real insurance coverage soon, I'm going to start looking elsewhere.
* Got some great new work-shirts for only 50 cents each at a yard sale this weekend. Yahoo!
* Ethan's doing great, talking a lot more-- but his doctor still wants to do a check on his speech development, starting with a hearing test this Friday. He'll pass with flying colors, I'm sure; that boy has ears like a lynx.
* Stefanie might be moving out in the next few weeks, finally, into her own apartment that she will share with Leila. Time to celebrate!

And, the big news: Ethan might have a cavity. I noticed it the other day when I thought he had some food stuck on his eye-tooth. Nope-- it was a tiny, ridged, almost concave area on the surface of his tooth. Not my little guy, not so early in his life!! Anyway, our dental coverage for him is pretty minimal because we got it when we signed up for the Kaiser Child Health Plan-- in other words, it's for broke people so it sucks. I don't want to get my kid cheap dental care, so I asked for referrals from other parents and got a lead on one dentist I think might work out. Trust me, I called quite a bit, but finding a pediatric dentist is harder than it looks, and then finding one that you can trust is another step beyond that. His appointment is in a week or so, and I'm hoping I can adjust my work schedule to take him in myself... but this might be a daddy appointment instead. Oh well, time to get involved in your child's health, papa!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Sick Saga

Still sick, but hopefully on path towards wellness. I actually got sent home from work on Tuesday by my manager, who was nervous about (a) getting sick himself and (b) me being too sick to come to work Wednesday, when we have an extremely important meeting with one of our biggest, newest, most sensitive HOAs. So I left after only an hour and a half, which means my paycheck will be docked by around $80, and then went to the urgent care ($100) to get meds ($40). Went home and still felt miserable, so I started hunting around for favors-- anyone who could help me go pick up Ethan and possibly watch him a little bit in the evening. Any takers? Of course not. My sister is still recovering from her throat/nasal surgery and is on meds, and my parents were unreachable (turns out, they'd actually been at the same-day clinic themselves).

So I called my friend, who earlier in the day had told me that she was off work and just sitting around. Unfortunately, when I explained that I was feeling horrid and didn't even know if I could drive out there to the daycare, she said "Oh, no..." and then said that I could drive him over, drop him off for a couple of hours, and then come back and pick him up again later. Um, yeah... except that I can hardly drive over to daycare, let alone jaunt across town to her place and back, twice. Then a few minutes later she said that she'd forgotten about an appointment she had that evening and couldn't watch him after all. So much for friends helping out in your time of need.

In spite of that, I stupidly asked her if she was free on Wednesday evening, and if so could she babysit for two hours while I was at the crucial business meeting. She replied, a few hours later, "I can cancel my plans if you really need me"... which to me is a pretty obvious no. You know, because I didn't make it clear earlier that I did. I told her not to worry about it-- not that I think she did-- and wrote it off as yet another person I can't rely on.

Whatever happened to the days when your friends and neighbors rallied around to help you out, bring food, watch your kids, and just generally give a little bit of time or effort when you were sick or hurting? Guess those days were buried with Rockwell.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I'm sick. Fever started Friday at work, and ended up at 104.6 on Saturday. Feels terrible. Hope it gets better soon, because I have no health insurance and no sick days... just can't afford to be ill right now. Feel some pain when I breathe deeply, so I'm praying it's a muscle issue and not a lung issue. Boo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dance Fever

We had such an awesome weekend... first, we got to spend time with my niece, Leila. Then, we got to out to San Francisco on Saturday and dance like we haven't in ages, to DJs we haven't heard in forever, surrounded by the types of people who we never ever get to see in Modesto. It was so wonderful!

We went because I was looking at website of DJ Dragn'fly, a DJ we heard and absolutely loved last June at the Burning Man Pre-Compression event. I was just checking out her page, because she sometimes offers free mixes and lists events where she'll be spinning-- and I found the Strategik 3 Year Anniversary was going to be happening on May 22nd at 550 Barneveld.

I checked the space out online and read tons of reviews, and they were pretty mixed. It's called Space 550, and it's in the industrial section of Bayview, a kind of sketchy area in south San Francisco. Still, we really wanted to see her, and when we found out that we could get a babysitter we finally decided to go. And I'm so glad we did! It's funny how much it rejuvenates the spirits to be around like-minded folks, and being around Burners does that for me. I loved the whole thing-- the music, the venue, the people, the bartenders, the ambiance, the bathrooms (trust me, that can be very important in its own way), and just the whole kit and kaboodle. Loved it. LOVED it. And can't wait to go again.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Joel has been very sweet with me lately. I mentioned that I needed to get a watch because (a) I don't own one, and (b) I have to take minutes at meetings and don't want to bring out my cell phone to keep time, and guess what he did? Yep, he went out to get me a watch and chose this lovely Skagen women's watch for me. I know he has good taste, but even I was surprised at his choice; it was very classic, yet modern and stylish.


Then, yesterday evening he comes home and he has this crafty look on his face, while holding his hands behind his back. I said, "Please don't tell me you spent more money on me, Joel..." I know, I know-- how ungrateful of me! But it's so hard to accept gifts from him when we are struggling with money issues. It feels very irresponsible, even when I know that he earned "extra" (!) money through an outside contract job this week and the money spent isn't taking money away from paying our regular bills. Still... it's so hard to be gracious about it. I tried, though! Anyway, he whips out my latest gift-- a Kindle! He already downloaded some free books on there, like Sense and Sensibility and Emma, so now I can read wherever I am without lugging around a bunch of books. Can't wait to get started... and buy a cute cover/stand for it, too! I hope he understands that I love him even without the gifts, expensive or not. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


My mouth hurts. Over the years, my tendency to develop canker sores every so often has turned into a tendency to get them on the slightest whim, as in when I taste pineapple or drink orange juice or God only knows what else... I haven't had more than a week free from sores for at least two years, possibly longer. The last time I remember not having them for a week at a time was when I was in Burning Man in 2009. Sometimes, like now, I have up to seven or eight at once-- right now I have four on my tongue, two on the inside of my lip/cheek area, one in the inner corner of my lips, and one on the back of my throat. I can hardly speak without pain, and it sounds like I've got dentures or something. Eating and drinking are quite painful, and forget about kissing. I can hardly remember what it's like to kiss, actually; that's probably the worst part of this whole thing. :( I can't wait for health insurance, so that I can find a doctor who can help me resolve this problem and get back to normal. Hell, I'd settle for mostly normal-- anything is better than dealing with this 9.5 days out of 10!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Independence Days

Ethan is really yearning to establish his autonomy and independence lately. He wants to feed himself, using his own silverware, and pour his own drink into his cup. And back out of it, and then repeat until most of it is all over the table or floor. He wants to keep his pajamas on all day and wear them to daycare, and has major issues with us wanting to change his clothes-- unless we can point out that they're dirty and need to be cleaned, at which point he'll lift up his arms and allow us to remove the offending article. He's getting very particular about having things happen in a particular order and style, such as me holding my arms around him at just the right angle, and resting my hands in one special way on his legs when he's sitting in my lap.

This is just the beginning... it means that he's growing up and turning into a boy. He wants to learn how to do everything himself because he needs to, as part of the process of becoming a self-sufficient person. It's sweet, and sad, and a little bit frustrating for both of us, but I just hope he lets me hold him and snuggle for a bit longer... I miss my baby boy already, even though he's just starting to grow up and away from me. *sniff* This motherhood thing is harder than I thought.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Writing a paper about motivation problems at work has really made me see my workplace in a whole new light. I'm starting to realize what a beneficial experience this will be for me. Yes, this job may be temporary in that I don't plan on making a career of being an administrative assistant for $14/hour. But it is teaching me so much about what it's really like to work as a secretary, and what it's like to deal with situations in the for-profit world as opposed to schools or non-profits. I'm going to be able to use a lot of experiences as real-world case studies for school, too, which is going to be so helpful for my MBA program. And, last but not least, I'm learning more about what works and what doesn't in terms of working with a smaller company as opposed to the very large organizations I worked in before this. And that's not even getting into the fact that I'm getting a paycheck that helps support my family at the same time! :) All in all, I'd say I'm feeling pretty motivated right now. And proud of it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Monday was a rough day for Ethan... he started off with a day at daycare that was apparently pretty chaotic and "exuberant," to say the least, thanks to the antics of four 2-year-old boys. The daycare provider said they always act up when it's windy or stormy, and the weather was pretty crazy that day. Unfortunately, this lead to a major meltdown that started the minute I picked him up and lasted until around 6:30. It was terrible! I'd never seen him throw a tantrum that lasted that long. Usually they're more like a minute or two, and then he either gets distracted or calms down, and it's over. This time it just kept coming in waves of tears, screaming, tossing his arms and legs around, and just generally being defiant, resistant, and refusing to cooperate at all. I kept wondering who had kidnapped and brainwashed my child, it was that out of character for him.

He finally started to calm down when I started washing the dishes, and he said "Help you?" while dragging his stool over to the sink. I slowly transitioned myself out of the space and left him in front of the kitchen sink to play in the water, pouring cups of soapy bubbles back and forth over a large bowl, and it seemed to work as a calming activity. After about fifteen minutes of self-play, he looked up and said "Pizza?"-- his new code word for "I'm hungry and want to eat." We ate some dinner together, took a nice bath, and he finally went to sleep. I felt like passing out too, it was such an exhausting evening with him! The next day, Tuesday, was the exact opposite. He was helpful, obedient, calm, brightly curious, laughing and engaged with me and other people around us (we went to the store), and just generally more like my son than the day before. It was so nice to get that time with him; it made up for our not-so-good Monday. I guess the "terrible twos" are here now, but I hope we can find some ways to mitigate the negative episodes so that we can all survive this sane, happy, and positive. God give me strength! ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ways Ethan Has Changed...

This weekend, we're going to a first birthday party for the son of one of Joel's college buddies. We've been racking our brains for a good, appropriate, useful gift, rather than just another toy, and you'd think we have a seventeen year old instead of a two year old for how much memory work this little exercise has required. We dragged up some old memories of what he used to do back when he was just a year old, a whole year and a half ago, and here's what we came up with...

- Raking, sweeping, and general yard work: This kid loved being outside!
- Garbage can attack man: He was always trying to get the lid open and stuff little items inside, so we had to attach a latch to keep him from throwing away everything in reach
- Speaking of latches, we had to lock down the entire kitchen, TV stand, and bathroom cabinets. We actually just kept the bathroom doors shut, too, to keep him from opening up the toilet lid and doing god knows what in there...
- Hoses were like a gift from god straight to our boy. He loved them.
- Walking, crawling, walking, falling, running, and walking some more.

I'll think of more later... but he's only changed a bit from this, in that he's much more controlled about what he tries to get into and so on. He talks a lot more, he sings and dances, he interacts differently with the world around him, he's friendly and loves playing, he likes to read.... he's growing up!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last Nerve.

For some reason, everything Ethan did today was testing my last nerve. From the moment he woke up to the minute he laid down for bed (minus my day away at work and his time at daycare, of course) he was pushing the limits and basically doing everything he could to exert his independence. Unfortunately, this also happened to be a day that I didn't have much patience to deal with his shenanigans. Right now, as I'm typing at 8:30 p.m., he is in his room throwing toys around, kicking the wall, and yelling. I'm so annoyed and frustrated!! Not only at his behavior, but at my reaction to it. It's like an instantaneous response to raise my voice when he blatantly disobeys by hitting at me or dumping food/drinks on the ground, and I don't want to be one of those parents who flips out and screams at their kids. I know my own tendency to overreact and get highly emotional about things, and I don't want to take that out on him just because he's being a typical 2-year-old. SERENITY NOW! I need a breather. Maybe I'll skip homework tonight and focus on relaxing instead. Glass of wine, much-needed break in front of the TV, maybe even (gasp!) some light reading of my "fun" book instead of a school book...

Yep, that sounds good. I'm out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fruit Attack

CIMG4552 (Large)

Ethan loves fruit. But only in certain forms... he'll eat banana, for instance, or apple slices (sans skin), or firm chunks of mango, and grapes and blueberries-- but on a completely random basis. Some days it's a go, other days it's a "no" that involves spitting the food out or totally refusing to let it near his mouth. The only thing he never refuses is dried fruit, whether it's raisins and cranberries or freeze-dried fruit. Our current favorite is the freeze-dried fruit crisps we found at Wal-Mart.

CIMG4546 (Large)

He absolutely adores them! They are crunchy, flavorful, and purely fruit with no added anything to interfere with the nutritional value. And it's a lot of fruit in there, too; the strawberry-banana bag has approximately 4 strawberries and 1 medium banana inside. They run about $0.78/bag, which is so worth it to me for getting his fruit into him. They also have ten varieties, including peach, pineapple, and cinnamon apple... YUM. It's not a substitute for the real thing, but it does the trick in a pinch. I think they're also perfect for taking on trips, camping, and really anywhere you want to have the fruit but don't want to worry about it bruising or going bad. Great road trip snack!

CIMG4547 (Large)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Language Blast

Ethan's language skills have shot through the roof over the past couple of months. It's so crazy to hear him speaking and actually understand what he's saying, and know that it means something rather than just being babble noises. Now that he's in daycare, interacting with several other kids who are around his age and stage of development, he's just blossoming... the only thing is, I don't get to witness it firsthand, so sometimes I'm not quite sure exactly where he's getting certain phrases.

Yesterday morning, for example, we were leaving for daycare when he stopped in front of the bushes that line our front walkway. He leaned over, sniffed dramatically, then scrunched up his nose and said, "Ew, gross!" My instinct was to laugh, which of course I did, but at the same time I was completely surprised by the fact that he said the word "gross" so clearly and so much like an older kid. Now, why again was I so worried about his speech several months ago? He's obviously got the important words down already! In fact, about the only time he's not talking these days is when he's doing this...

IMG_2095 (Medium)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


IMG_2034 (Medium)

Could this boy get any more adorable?

IMG_2035 (Medium)

I guess I just answered my own question!

Love my little guy. Love that he can express himself in so many ways, and that he's talking and interacting so well these days. Love that his daycare teacher enjoys having him around and is impressed by how well he gets along with the other kids, by his friendly personality, and by his kindness to others. Love that he is exuberant and joyful and lives life with such verve. Love that I get the chance to see all of this up close and personal, and cherish every minute of it. (Even those minutes that aren't so great are just part of an overall wonderful, amazing miracle.) LOVE!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Pider

Ethan's favorite song before going to sleep these days is the Itsy Bitsy Spider, or as he says, "pider." He likes it when I spider-crawl my fingers up his legs and then swoosh the rain down his tummy during the song, and he absolutely loves it when the "spider" accidentally gets lost and crawls all over his back and arms and chest on the way back up the spout, finally landing on his nose at the end of the song. He'd have me sing it fifteen times if he could, but unfortunately mommy has a lower tolerance for the bedtime performance than he does.

IMG_2021 (Medium)

He's also been wanting to be tucked in lately, which is funny... right as it starts to get warmer and he probably starts to sweat under his blanket at night, he wants me to tuck the blanket in around him before sleeping. But hey, at least it helps keep him on his little bed instead of on the floor in front of the door where he was sleeping for awhile there.

Did I mention that he's still sleeping in the closet on his little couch-bed? It used to stick out of the closet, because he liked to lay in front of the door and I was trying to provide an alternative... But he kept sliding off of it and scooting over so that half of his body was on the floor anyway.

I moved it sideways to fit lengthwise inside the closet, and he seems to be staying on it throughout the whole night now. Don't ask me why he likes to sleep there, when he has a perfectly good toddler bed in the other corner...

DSC00992 (Medium)

I have no idea why he likes sleeping there. Just because it's close to the door, I guess... but so weird, to be behind the door and in the closet, with clothes hanging over his head all night! That's my son, though; knows his own mind, even when it comes to sleeping.

DSC00994 (Medium)

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The other day we were playing in one of Ethan's favorite places (the car) and he was, as usual, fiddling with the radio. He turned it on and it immediately defaulted to playing the SD card that Joel had programmed with a bunch of primarily electronic, house, and techno music. Ethan started waving his head around, bouncing on the seats, smiling, and shaking his groove thang all over the place. After a few minutes, he realized that he hadn't been pushing all of the buttons on the faceplate and proceeded to change the "source" from the SD card to the radio. A regular, everyday, average pop song came on. He looked up at me with this puzzled expression on his face, looked back down at the faceplate, and then switched it back to the SD card. When the house music started thumping into the car again, this huge smile bloomed across his face and he resumed his little happy dance on the passenger seat. That's my boy! Already has his daddy's taste in music, except that Ethan's a bit more accepting of dub step than Joel is... either way, it makes it nice for mom and dad because we love that music too, so listening and dancing together is a family affair. Can't wait to get back out to the City and dance with my guy again!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baby Shower Time!

Two of my cousins are pregnant and due in late spring/early summer I get to go to one baby shower this weekend and one a month from now... which is awesome because (a) I love baby showers, and (b) I love my cousins! The only thing that bugs me is that I have been trying to find this one gift that I was given and that we absolutely love, and I can't find it anywhere except on eBay, and it's not even exactly the same thing... Gotta work on it and see if I can find it!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the Road to Recovery?

Well, I went in this morning and spoke with my placement specialist from the temp agency about what was going on at work. As usual for me during a stressful conversation like that one, I ended up crying in front of her. Ugh! I wish I could get a better handle on my emotions during those types of meetings... Anyway, she sympathized with me and agreed that the management was reacting inappropriately and unprofessionally in their communications with me. She suggested that I speak with the vice-president about what was happening and see how she responded to me. I agreed, but after leaving her office was so emotional that I felt unprepared to go in to work that day. I had a blasting headache from the stress and was weepy and tense, and so I called in to work that I wasn't feeling well and that I'd be in around noon that day. I used my time at home to gather my thoughts, calm down, grab some groceries, finish a homework assignment, and just try to bring up the zen factor before going in to work.

When I arrived, I found out that my manager wasn't even there-- he'd called in sick again. So the only other "yuck" factor was the president. The thing is, I think my placement specialist called over and spoke with the company, because everything was different today. The president was cordial, if a bit distant, and his wife (the vice-president) came over several times to check on me, ask if I needed any help or support, and let me know she was here if I needed her. When she asked how I was feeling, because I'd called in sick, I told her it was a pretty good headache. She said, "I hope it's not stress from work..." and then followed it up with "I don't want you to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by anything that's happened; we think you're doing a great job and we know that this is a complicated job to learn." We had a pretty decent conversation after that, and I'm thinking that things might be on the mend. Too early to say yet, but I'm hopeful. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From Yuck to Trucks

I decided to not dwell on the second horrid day at work in a row, and instead turn to the wonderfulness that is my son. He can always bring a smile to my face, even when I come home from work crying like I did Monday, or frustrated and beaten down, like I did today. He can change my focus from negativity to the simple joys of a toy car or a butterfly in moments. And I got a lot of support from Joel over these past two days, which felt very nice. How did I get so lucky, to be able to share my time with such wonderful guys?

joel+ethan 02-11

And how did I get to be such a push-over that I have somehow helped this child accumulate what appears to be the toy vehicle department for a small country?

CIMG4564 (Large)

This kid is 100% all boy, that is for sure and for certain.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rough day.

Had a pretty bad day at work today. I'm just making so many errors, and feeling so incompetent, and it was tough to keep my composure in the office this afternoon-- especially when I made yet another mistake on the copier right as I was about to leave at 5:00. I came home close to tears and can't believe how bad I felt. After speaking with a friend, I have a new plan of action for tomorrow: Go in with my head held high, admit to my mistakes and then let them roll off my back. Treat myself the way I would like to be treated-- in other words, act as if I deserve to be treated kindly and respectfully and assume the best about what others are thinking. The worst that could happen is that they continue to act the way they've been acting, while I feel okay about my work. The best that could happen is that they begin to treat me better. It's really a positive change in any case, because no matter what happens I'll feel better about myself and satisfied with my efforts to learn this new job. If it works the way my friend hopes, they'll see me in a more positive light because I'll be acting more confident, secure, and pleasant rather than holding my head down out of guilt or shame or just feeling badly about the way things are going. We'll see... and I'll try to get on here more often, too; things are just so stinkin' busy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Time...

I feel like I have signed my life away to this MBA program. And not just me, but Joel, too. We are both going to school full-time and working now (thankfully), which means that we see very little of Ethan and even less of each other, not to mention hardly ever catching a glimpse of our friends and family. It's a little bit tougher than I thought it would be, this virtual isolation from our circle of loved ones, and this is only just the beginning of a long, long eighteen-month program. All I keep telling myself is that it'll be worth it in the end, it'll be worth the short-term sacrifice for the end goal... but that seems to be the common refrain of life. When does that fabled end goal arrive, anyway? I think perhaps it's time to start seeing that the process itself needs to be more enjoyable than miserable, or else reaching the legendary end goal becomes too great a burden to bear. We've got to build in some alone time for us as a husband & wife, some family time with our little guy, some get-away-from-it-all time, time with our couple friends and time for a girls/guys' night out, time with our relatives, and-- just as importantly as all the rest-- time to have some peaceful, solitary, all-by-myself solitude to recharge the batteries.

So I'll go ahead and put that plan into action, as soon as I can find some time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day Care Germs

My little guy has been battling a runny nose, sore throat, and cough for the past week. I even had to go in to work late on Wednesday so that I could stay home with him until Joel took over at 1:00. I was a little worried about how my supervisors would take it, but they're all parents too and were very understanding. The thing that bugs me is that this happened directly because of the usual stuff that happens by being at a daycare. It's so frustrating knowing that your child is getting exposed to more bugs than usual, and even more so when you can see that the other kids at the center are obviously sick when you drop off or pick up your kid. I love that it's a home-based daycare, because he gets extra attention in a warm, comfortable home instead of a center. But I don't love that sick kids tend to stay a little longer than they would if they were in a larger center-based daycare. I wish that other parents would keep their kids home when they're sick, rather than bringing them to daycare and waiting for the provider to tell them they have to go home. Usually it's too late at that point, and everyone else's children have been exposed to whatever is attacking your kid. Look, I understand that you don't want to or can't afford to miss another day of work to stay home with your child, but guess what? Neither can we!

And another thing that worries me a bit is that there is another toddler who attends Ethan's daycare but is at home this month recovering from heart surgery. What about when he comes back? He will be extra vulnerable to infection, and it's a bit scary to think of him being exposed to the bugs that have been floating around daycare this week. Did I mention that two of the other boys were out with major ear infections this week? Ugh! Just hope that my boy feels better soon. Even when it's minor, I hate seeing him feeling under the weather.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big Boy :)

CIMG4569 (Large)

I can't believe how "old" my gorgeous baby boy seems to be getting. He is truly talking a mile a minute now; he has so many words in his vocabulary that I can't really count them. The only problem is, I'm starting to lose the reference points I used to have for his speech. For example, I used to know that he was talking about his favorite UmiZoomi episode about the dump truck who tried to stop UmiCar from winning the race by various dirty tricks (raising the bridge, dumping sand on UmiCar, spilling slippery bubbles on the ground, etc.). He'd tell me the story over and over again and because I knew the sequence of actions already, it helped me to figure out what he was trying to say. Now that he's in daycare, he has a completely new set of experiences throughout the days that I'm not privy to, and it's starting to get a little more difficult to understand his conversations. Guess that means I'll just have to try a little harder!

At least I know one thing he won't stop talking about.... TRUCKS!
CIMG4567 (Large)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Working Woman!

So, I started at my new job on Thursday, March 31st-- and it's great! The company is an HOA management and real estate firm here in Modesto, just a few blocks down the road from my house. In fact, it's so close that I could actually go home to eat on a half-hour lunch and still get back with time to spare. Not that I really want to do that very often, but it's an option, which is nice. The office is open and friendly yet professional, and seems to be a pleasant place to work. There appears to be some manager-assistant drama brewing between a couple of people, though, so I'm going to do my best to stay out of it and keep a neutral stance at all times. The good news is that I seem to have landed a very competent manager, and the woman I'm replacing is quite good at training me to take her position, so I'm pretty confident that I can do well in this office.

The position is to work as an Administrative Assistant for one of the Property Managers at the company. My particular boss is responsible for managing two professional associations and several other residential associations, some of which are huge (over 330 units!) and some of which are tiny (only 12 units). He basically provides all of the management, meaning he coordinates the custodial care, maintenance, architectural changes to the complex itself (not the homes), and so on. He's also in charge of setting up and running the bimonthly, quarterly and/or annual meetings of the HOA's board of directors. My job in all this is to assist him in preparing for all of those events: Transcribe notes; type up agendas, letters and other documents; print copies and prepare mailings; review, type, print, bind, and mail meeting packets; prepare for seminars or conferences; handle phone calls; order supplies; etc. The usual admin. assistant type of job duties.

I'm glad to be getting this experience in the business/for-profit world, FINALLY. It gets me out of social services and puts a new chapter onto my resume. I don't see myself staying as an Admin forever, because (mainly) it just doesn't pay enough to help support my family, but also because I'd really like to eventually move into a more challenging position. But for now, this is an excellent opportunity to get to know the job well, get a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of business management, and all while being able to pay rent. BINGO! I think we have a winner here. :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New haircut for a new job!

CIMG4586 (Large)

Love my new short hair! It's been far too long... feels nice and light, easy, spiffy, and sleek. And I can funk it up whenever I want, too! Win-win situation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Color Me Employed!

I'm so very happy to announce that I accepted a job offer yesterday from the real estate company that I interviewed with last week and Monday. It felt like a great match from the beginning, and I think the only thing holding them back from offering me the job last week was the fact that the position I'll be replacing is only 25 hrs/wk, whereas I need a full-time job in order to be financially comfortable. But they apparently wanted me on their team seriously enough to re-work the position description, increase the hours, add some job duties, and make me the offer! It's an almost indescribable relief to be employed again after so long, and so close to the cut-off date for my unemployment benefits (as of today, there is only enough money in my award amount to cover three more checks; how's that for cutting it close?).

Even if I were working in a dead-end job with nothing to look forward to but a paycheck, I would be grateful. Instead, I get this great opportunity that sort of comes flying in out of the blue, all because of an inquiry email I sent out to an employment agency just in case they might still have my file open. This is what they call "serendipity"-- or possibly "luck favors the well-prepared" or something like that, considering that I've been honing my interview skills for the past two years and building up an excellent portfolio for sharing with potential employers... Either way, it's a blessing, and I'm truly appreciative of it.

I will be working as an Administrative Assistant supporting a property manager at a real estate firm that specializes in HOA management. The company has been around for 30 years, and because they don't focus on the ups and downs of the market, they've been remarkably stable and profitable during these past few years of ugliness in real estate. I am really looking forward to starting my job this week, especially because I get to dress up for work. Tee-hee! Call me a girly-girl, but I do love to fancy it up a bit at work. Can't wait to wear heels and skirts and dresses and just get all gussied up during the work week. Pictures will be forthcoming, never fear. And on that note, thank you to everyone for the positive thoughts and great energy and prayers, and thank you to God for this wonderful blessing, and thank you to those who spported me in my job search with babysitting and happy messages and other gestures of pure friendship. I love you all dearly!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Surprise, surprise... surprise!

Three big surprises in my life: First, Joel got me an ergonomic wireless keyboard and wireless mouse yesterday... How sweet is that? It is going to be so much easier to type up the multitude of papers and essays required for my MBA program with thiese handy dandy little tools. :)

Second, today is Ethan's first day at daycare! He was able to get in to Miss Janet's daycare, the same one that his buddy Aidan goes to, which is so great because at least he'll have someone he knows there. I've got mixed emotions about it; I know that I'm going to miss him, but I know as well that he is going to really love being around other kids and playing and learning and all of that. He definitely needs the interaction time, and will really benefit from it. I've been so lucky, despite all of these financial woes, because I've been blessed to spend the past two years at home with my little boy. But now it's time for him to take one little step on the path towards growing up, and I'm sure he's going to have a great time!

Third, and perhaps just a teensy smidge more importantly, I have a second interview today at the firm I interviewed with last week. I'm so happy and excited about it! Candace, the placement tech from availABILITY, called and asked me if I'd be available for a 2nd interview at 10:00 on Monday. I told her yes, because Ethan was starting daycare Monday morning so we'd be all set for to start working from this day forward. She responded with, "That's great! Because you just might be working by Tuesday." WOW! Now that's what I call fast service. Well, we'll hope that things go well and that this position works out, but if not-- I'm confident that I'll be working by the end of April. Watch out, world, I'm a woman with a mission and I'm on my way!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Job Hopes!

I think renewing my contact with availABILITY was the best thing I could have done in my job search. Candace, the placement specialist I met with on Tuesday, emailed me back on Wednesday with information about an interview for Thursday. That fast, my job hopes were raised again and I felt a little bit more energy and life flowing through me. I put on my "professional outfit"-- a fitted purple dress that has a dash of Mad Men style to it, a black dress jacket and velvety black heels-- packed up my portfolio of work examples, dropped Ethan off with my awesome parents and sister Adrienne, and headed about four blocks down the road to the company for my interview.

The company is a real estate company that has been in business for about 30 years and focuses primarily on HOA management. They are very stable and are looking for someone who is going to be around for awhile. That might clash a little bit with my plans to move to the Bay Area sometime in the future, but for now at least it sounds like a great place to work. The job duties are challenging, the office seems very well-run and professional yet comfortable, and the people seem friendly and competent. The interview seemed to go very well and I hope to hear back from them very soon... although maybe they could wait a week and let me have some time at home while Ethan's in daycare to get more homework done. It would be like a vacation, at home!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Employment News

Wow, this has been a busy week! On Monday, I was contacted by a placement specialist at availABILITY Personnel, an employment agency just down the road. I had sent them an email indicating interest in a job they'd posted online, and asked them to consider the application I'd filled out and the tests I had already taken back in December 2010. I guess they liked what they saw, because they asked me to come in Tuesday and finish some additional tests in Microsoft Office 2003. Apparently, I did well! In fact, I scored a 93% in Word and an 80% in Excel. Not bad, considering I've been using Office 2007 for over a year now and haven't even seen 2003 in a long time.

When I finished the tests, the placement specialist took me aside for an informal personal interview and asked me several questions about what types of jobs I was looking for, the hours and salary I'd prefer, and so on. I stayed really upbeat and was completely open about the challenges I've had so far in my job search-- being overqualified for the jobs I was applying for, trying to break out of the fields of education and social services, having to work within the 8-5 time frame because of childcare constraints, and having to work for at least $14/hour because I'm the primary breadwinner. If I was the only breadwinner, I'd need a bare minimum of $18-19/hour in order to just squeak by with bills. Anyway, I also told her that I was planning to have Ethan in daycare by Monday so that I'd be available to start work right away. She was so positive and encouraging during the interview and ended it by saying that she was impressed by my attitude and capabilities, and that she was certain I'd be working by the end of April. Woo-hoo! Finally, some good news!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cinnamon Allergy?

The other day, Ethan had an allergic reaction to something he was chewing on-- a Colgate Cinnamon Wisp Toothbrush. The strange thing to me was that he had already chewed on the toothbrushes twice before without any problems, so I had no idea that he would react the way he did this time.

It all began when I gave him one of the Wisp toothbrushes to keep him busy while I drove my sister home. After a few minutes, he started saying "Ow, ow!" and pointing to his mouth. I assumed that he was poking himself with the pointed rubbery end that is used for flossing, and told him to be careful with the brush. I kept a watch on him through the rear view mirror, to see if he was turning the brush around to poke himself on purpose, but all I could see was him using it correctly. Hmm... a couple of minutes later, he repeated "Ow, ow, mom!" and started rubbing at the left side of his mouth and cheek. I reminded him to be careful, but dismissed it and kept driving. A minute or so later, I looked in the rear view mirror to check on him again and saw that he had apparently rubbed his cheek/mouth area so much that it turned red. In fact, it looked almost raised. I kept glancing back and saw his skin turning even redder and more inflamed looking right before my eyes. And that's when I first suspected an allergic reaction.

I reached back and took his toothbrush and then called my sister Stefanie on speakerphone to ask for advice. She told me to get him immediately to a pharmacy and give him a half-dose of Benadryl to stop the allergic reaction. We were about a block and a half away from Save Mart at the time, so I got there as quickly as I could in 5 o'clock traffic and jammed into the store. By the time we got in to the Pharmacy and bought the Children's Benadryl, the left side of his face was bright red and looked a little swollen, with the red area appearing raised up a bit. The Benadryl said that it wasn't to be used for a 2-year-old, but I listened to my sister instead (she'd gone through something similar with her toddler many years prior) and gave him half of a dose right away. Within fifteen minutes I could see that the symptoms had stopped getting worse, and after about half an hour they actually started to fade a bit. By the time Stefanie came over an hour later to check in with us, the raised area had subsided and the redness had faded down to what looked like flushed skin instead of a burn. From now on I'm taking her advice and keeping Benadryl in the house, and maybe even putting some in the first aid kit that we keep in the car. Just in case!

FYI, I don't really think it was a cinnamon allergy. Toothpaste products tend to use cinnamic aldehyde for flavoring, and he has eaten food with cinnamon in it since the incident without any problems. I'll just keep him away from cinnamon toothpaste or cinnamon mints from now on, and hope we don't have any more issues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grad School

Last week was my first week back in school as a grad student, and let me tell ya-- being out of school for the past decade has not necessarily improved my study skills, my vocabulary, or my ability to think critically. I am so nervous about this program, partly because it is a business degree and therefore nothing I have really studied before, and partly because this time around I'm doing it without the kind of free time I had before. The last time I was in school I was single and lived alone, and could arrange my schedule however I wanted to in order to get my homework, papers, reading, and prep work done. This time? Yeah, not quite. Instead, I have a husband and a toddler, am a stay-at-home mom (until I start full-time work within the next month), and have a full-time job hunt going on right now. Needless to say, my study time is somewhat limited at this point.

It has been tough enough to get my work done in the hours that Ethan sleeps this past week, and I can't imagine it will get any easier when I start working again. Not only will I lose his nap-time (about 2 hours) for school work, but I'll also lose all that time I normally get to spend doing things around the house like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and so on. How the heck do people do this?!? I am going to be either a master time-management expert or completely insane by the end of this program. Still, I'm not changing my plans or quitting. This is my goal: MBA with Human Resources specialization by September 2012. No matter what, I'm going for it. Watch out, world!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Egg Success!

Today we had a major breakthrough: Ethan ate eggs! I know, I know, it doesn't seem like much, but this boy hasn't eaten more than a bite or two of eggs since he was born. I even remember the only other time he did; his father and I were sharing a lovely Waffle House omelet and Ethan decided that he wanted to take a few bites of our delicious breakfast. He only had a little bit before he moved on to the banana and orange juice, but I was thrilled with even that minute amount.

Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived, because that momentous occasion took place over a year ago-- and it's been that long since he's done more than just take one taste of the egg before spitting it out in disgust. I was starting to wonder if he'd end up being one of those people who just never eats eggs, period, when he finally broke the barrier tonight. Maybe it was because of what I made... I beat together three eggs, some finely chopped cooked chicken breast, a handful of leftover cooked veggie penne that I chopped up nice and small, shredded "Mexican" cheese and some milk. I buttered a pan and then threw it all in there, sprinkled on some onoin and garlic powder, salted and peppered it, then covered the pan and cooked it for about five minutes. I folded it in half, and voila! A lovely, complete meal with protein, dairy, grains/carbs, and vegetables. And the leftovers will be perfect for Joel's breakfast before he heads off to school tomorrow morning, too. Betty Crocker, eat your heart out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vision Statement

My first major assignment for my Management Communication class is to develop a personal vision statement. Sounds easy, right? Yeah right. We were directed to several resources online, but I found another one that I really enjoyed using on the Franklin Covey website.

It has about ten or so pages of prompts that help you to start breaking down your personal goals, internal and external characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, dreams and goals, so that by the end you have put together a fairly comprehensive vision statement. I really liked it, and only wished that it were easier to go back and edit one section or another before printing or emailing yourself the final version. I'm definitely going to be using it for my assignment, which I plan on writing tomorrow sometime (it's due Sunday). After this week, though, my plan is to start doing all of my assignments ahead of time as often as possible, so that I can keep the stress level down and keep one step ahead. That way, if something comes up last minute and I'm strapped for time, I don't have to worry about missing an assignment because it'll already be done. That's the plan, anyway; we'll see how it pans out.

St. Pat's Day Menu ideas...

So, right now I'm salivating because the entire house is filled with the aroma of corned beef, potatoes and onions in the crockpot... YUM! I absolutely love corned beef. I could probably eat it once a month without any problems whatsoever, and I have a pretty good number of recipes geared towards ways of making the leftovers into a variety of meals so that we can cook a huge amount of meat and not get sick of it. Not that I think that's even possible, but it's nice to have other options if you don't want a thick slab of corned beef with spicy brown mustard, tender red potatoes and juicy onions, crisp cabbage and perhaps even a slice of Claussen's dill pickle on the side...

Need I say it again? YUM! One of the leftover recipes I like to use is Reuben Soup, which is so rich and flavorful that my mouth waters just thinking about it. I think I actually posted the recipe on my blog last year sometime. This year, I'm thinking about making Reuben Sliders on those small Hawaiian butter rolls. I'll cut open the rolls, then layer on my ingredients: cheese (Monterey Jack instead of Swiss because I'm not a big Swiss fan), corned beef slices, brown mustard, a slice of dill pickle and a little Thousand Island dressing, and a tsp or so of sauerkraut; next, bake it for five minutes at 300 F, until it's a little toasty and warmed through. Add some red potato salad on the side, and you've got the makings of one ultra-tasty dinner. Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interview Bust

So, yet another group interview, except this time we all had to get up and tell each other-- the other applicants as well as the interviewers-- why we were most qualified for the job. It just gets more and more humiliating the longer I'm out here, I swear... after all that effort, too, it came down to the very end and I finally got to ask a question about the hours. Thank goodness, too, because there's no way I could have even done the job when they want me there from 1-9 p.m. four days during the week plus Saturday. I don't really think a lot of people understand just how difficult it is to look for work when you have a toddler that needs daycare and a husband who isn't available in the evenings to watch the baby.

I have a new-found appreciation for single parents out there who are trying to make it in this economy. How the heck are we supposed to work for low wages, put our kid(s) in daycare at $550/month for home care (if you can find it) or $990/month for center care, both of which close at the latest by 5:30 (home) or 6:00 (center) every night? How is that supposed to work? And how are people doing it when they have more than one child, too? It's ridiculous, really; sometimes I get so frustrated by the whole thing that I just want to scream.

Monday, March 14, 2011

School + Job Updates

I posted my first assignment in my online MBA class today. What a great moment of excitement, anticipation, and nervousness all rolled into one overwhelming feeling... I think it is going to be really wonderful for me to get back into education for awhile. I need this sort of mental stimulation and the reminder that I am more than just a one-dimensional character at this point in my life. It'll be tough to go to do a Master's degree while still being the primary one responsible for the house, the child, and then also work full-time, but there really isn't another option right now-- so it's full steam ahead, no holds barred, put the pedal to the metal time!

PS, I also got called to come in for an interview tomorrow for a position with Heald College here in Modesto. My friend T. said earlier that, because I just started classes, *now* I'll get a job-- now that I'll have way less time and energy, because that's just how the universe works. We both laughed about it, but then a couple of hours later I got the call from Heald about the interview. Hopefully T. was right! :)

Friday, March 11, 2011


But hopefully feeling better soon. At least the fever is gone.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Isn't It Romantic

Romance... what a strange word to think about, really. It encompasses so many emotions and actions, and means such different things to each person that you can't really define it in a simple phrase. For my husband, romance is something similar to the image that the media has pushed on us for marketing purposes for our entire lives: Flowers, chocolate, a nice dinner, expensive gifts, jewelry, weekend trips, and so on. He can't seem to separate the idea of romance from a cost factor; if it doesn't cost a lot, it must not be romantic. To him, inexpensive flowers aren't romantic; a date night that involves coupons can't be romantic; and if for some reason you think that you don't need money to be romantic, you must be either a cheapskate or broke.

To me, on the other hand, romance involves far less money and far more attention to the needs of your partner, and consideration of their likes and dislikes. Romance for me would involve a situation where my husband wakes up in the middle of the night and tends to the baby so that I can sleep in, or gets up in the morning and makes breakfast for all of us so that I can get a break from the usual chore. It would be romantic if he left a note on my desk saying how much he loved me, or texted me a sweet little message out of the blue, or brought me home a bottle of my favorite wine so that we could share it later that evening. It doesn't take much, really, in my view; just a thoughtfulness and a sense of caring or affection that expresses itself in simple, everyday situations instead of grand gestures that take on a life of their own.


This week, for instance, Joel did something that I consider one of the most romantic things I've ever seen him do... I was having a pretty bad day for some reason, just feeling run-down, exhausted, drained, and dealing with a migraine as well. I was having a hard time dealing with Ethan's energetic interactions and trying to lie down on the couch and rest, when Joel came out of his office and said that he was going to Walgreen's. I just murmured "okay" and pushed play on Ethan's movie, expecting Joel to leave my rambunctious two-year-old with me while he drove away. Moments later, I heard him taking Ethan out to the car... and then drive away together. Even when they got home later, he took Ethan outside to play for a little bit longer, just so that I could have a bit more time to recover. I was so impressed, and humbled, and shocked, and deeply pleased by his gesture. It meant so much to me that he did that without even asking.

I know that for some people, that might not be so far out of the realms of possibility that it would seem like a big deal, but I can count on one hand the number of times he has taken Ethan out *by himself* since Ethan was born. One hand. So that is a big thing for us, and I totally appreciate it for what it is-- romantic, and generous, and loving. Now, if I can just figure out how to get a repeat without having to conjure up another migraine....