Good Friday (Grateful Friday)

I’ve been super grouchy lately.  It could have something to do with the fact that we are still very much in the endless throes of winter here in Upstate NY — is it too much to ask for the thermometer to break 40F on Easter Sunday?  It could also have something to do with the fact that I got trolled hard in a mommy group on Facebook yesterday — why are virtual peeps so mean?  Or it could have everything to do with the fact that, after four years of sweet bliss, I am finally suffering from the girl flu again.  (But can I really complain about a four-year break?  Prolly not.  Thank you, back-to-back pregnancies and breastfeeding gods).

Regardless of my grump, today is Good Friday.  Now, I’m no religious scholar, but I’m pretty sure the “good” in Good Friday doesn’t have to do with good feels (because I googled it).  But, hey, I can take some creative liberties.  So, in the spirit of good-ness, and in an effort to boost my crappy mood, here are 5 things that I’m grateful for today:

  1. Easter is upon us.  Which means Easter candy is upon us.  Now, I told Hubby the same thing I tell him every year: all I want is a freaking peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny.  Every year he forgets.  Every year I let it go, because come on, I have 32-year-old metabolism.  But this year … this year I was cleaning out some kitchen cabinets and stumbled upon it.  A peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny that he must have purchased behind my back, and is hopefully saving to give to me on Easter morning.  I know it’s only March, so is it too early to award him Hubby of the Year?  (Please, for both our sakes, let the bunny actually be for me.)
  2. Zzzzzzz.  Because I have no regard for my well-being, I am going to go ahead and disrespect the sleep gods here:  Ever since last week’s bitch fest about Ell-Bell’s atrocious sleep habits, baby girl has been sleeping much better at night.  I mean you guys, last night honeyboo didn’t even wake up for the first time until 5:30 in the morning! What? Of course she’s just trolling me, lulling me into a false sense of security so that I fall that much harder when she wakes up 5 times tonight.  But still, I’ll take a few nights in a row of good sleep!
  3. Things are about to get romantical.  The in-laws are coming for a visit next week.  Ugh, I know, there’s nothing romantic about that.  But of course, the silver lining is that they provide free and relatively safe-ish child care, which means Hubby and I are about to go on our first date in four months!  I am way excited, and I don’t know if I’ve ever spent so much mental energy planning a 3-4 hour block of time in my life.  I’m thinking sushi and a movie, but my god, the possibilities are endless!  (Side note: can somebody teach me how to hire a real babysitter?  I’m guessing it would be a good thing to not wait four months between dates).
  4. I’m basically an Olympian.  Okay, I’m not, at all.  I am actually that mushy-armed person at the gym who only ever runs on the treadmill — the one who everyone looks at and says, “girlfriend, you need to get off that treadmill and do some actual push-ups.”  But hey, I’ve been back to running pretty consistently for the better part of a year now and I am feeling really good about it.  I’m getting faster, I’m running longer, and gosh darnit, I might even get brave enough to run outside one of these days.  I just need a babysitter real quick.
  5. I get to spectate all the sports.  I don’t care what you say, I like to watch golf on TV, ok?  It’s relaxing.  For me, April (snow) showers mean only one thing:  it’s time to watch some golf hotties navigate the Augusta greens at the Masters.  Of course, my in-laws will be in town during coverage because OF COURSE THEY HAVE TO COME during the Masters basically EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  But whatever.  I’m also giddy for NBA playoffs and more golf and tennis tourneys on the horizon, for those keeping track.  (Holler at me if you are also secretly in love with at least half of the men’s tennis field, we might have to be besties).

So there you have it.  What’s on your grateful list this Good Friday?  Wishing everyone a happy passover, Easter, or whatever else you may be celebrating in the next few days.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Hate is a Strong Word

Hate is a strong word.  A strong word, but the right word* to accurately describe how I am feeling about winter right now.  Fuck off, winter!

It’s our first cold season here in Upstate NY, and I knew it was going to be bad.  In fact, I expected it to be at least this bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still … bad.  We moved to the snowiest city in the U.S., and it’s living up to its name.  I mean, at the beginning of the year, we had a 66-hours-straight snowstorm that accumulated more than 20 inches of snow.  What? And that was just the worst in a month chock full of snow days.  After a December that broke some other snow records.

And all the snow, it’s not just crushing down on our sad little roof.  It’s also crushing down on my sad little soul.  Though I’ve lived in snowy places before (hello, university in eastern Canada), I’m realizing for the first time that the very sight of snow piles gives me significant anxiety.  When is it going to melt?  What if it never melts? What if the snow piles on the side of the driveway get so high that I can’t manually shovel anymore on top of them? What if we can’t leave the house?  After further introspection, I’ve decided that I have an unhealthy fear that we may be entering a new ice age.  You never know, right?

Winter with little kids is kind of the pits, too.  We’re trying to embrace it as best we can, but I really can’t take my little one-year-old munchkin outside much when we have things like 13-day streaks of sub-freezing temperatures (most of which are actually in the single digits – Fahrenheit).  And if you even know where to buy snow boots for size 4 toddler feet, let me know.  Because I have been unsuccessful on that front, and I’m not about to let Ell-Bell run around in the snow with just her cute little sneakers on.  She would totally do it, too.

I guess the real problem is that I’m totally over winter, but it’s nowhere near over.  The internet says it will snow here until at least April, but maybe as late as May.  Gag.  And we keep having these random warm stretches where the mountains of snow all but melt, and I’m like, yaaas, grass, there you are, I missed you! But sure enough, after a day or two, here comes another day with 5-8 inches of snow.  Can I just tell you how sick I am of spending my entire naptime break (what’s left of it, anyway) shoveling the freaking driveway?  My arms are so sore!

And I’m totally sorry for complaining so much about this, but I can’t whine to my husband about how much these winter months are getting me down.  He is the reason we moved here, and every time I so much as hint that I’m not loving all the cold and snow, he feels guilty AF.  So here you go, blog, have all my pent up frustration and disappointment about the fact that we basically live right below the Arctic Circle.

On the literal bright side, we do have a beach trip in our sights, a nice little something to look forward to.  We’re heading to sunny Mexico to see my dad in a few weeks.  Yaaaas.  Since there will still be more winter to come after that, I can’t exactly call the trip a light at the end of the tunnel.  But maybe it’s a little hole in the top of the tunnel, halfway through, letting a few rays in?

Until next time,

Vee

 

*Due credit to Boss Baby for that sentiment

The Kindness of Strangers: A Christmas Story

‘Tis the season of sugar highs, long lines, and–miraculously–somehow also the kindness of strangers.

Allow me to set the scene.  It was Christmas Eve Eve Eve (yes, that’s a thing).  The second of four days in a row that Hubby would be working leading up to Christmas Day.  And I had dragged the kids out in a nasty wintry mix so we could do some last minute shopping for Hubby at Barnes and Noble.

If you don’t know, Barnes and Noble is a fairly kid-friendly bookstore, with lots of toys for sale, and usually some kind of train table in the kid section for open play.  So I let the munchkins play with the train table for a while before picking up my gift for Hubby.

At one point, K-Man started to do the potty dance, and said he needed to pee.  So I picked up Ell-Bell, the diaper bag, all of our jackets, and marched him over to the bathroom on the other side of the store.  And when we got there, that little stinker refused to pee, said he didn’t need to go.  Ugh! So, we walked over to the toy section — again, with me juggling all the things — and played around for a bit.  K-Man could not move two feet without knocking a cascade of things off of the shelves.

I was starting to get kind of flustered, so I picked up Hubby’s present and started to wrangle the kids and our things so we could go check out.  Before we got very far, though, K-Man again announced that he had to pee.  Well duh!  Back to the bathroom we went.  After much coaxing, little man did his business and we went up front to pay for our things.

As it was Christmas Eve Eve Eve, there was a long-assed line.  And the line was littered with towers of things for sale, teetering precariously at every turn.  So stressful.  K-Man insisted on playing with a pile of Beanie Babies, dragging them all over the dirty floor despite my tired pleas.  Ell-Bell started losing her mind and didn’t want to be held anymore.  As I was trying to adjust her and the diaper bag and the jackets and the things I was buying, I managed to knock a few items off a display table.  Ugh.  “Gee, thanks for all your help,” I thought grumpily to myself, feeling the stares from other people in line as I picked up my mess.

Finally, finally, it was my turn to check out, so I dragged my brood of people and things up to the counter and started to exchange pleasantries with the clerk.  The lady behind me in line huffily rushed up next to me and waved one of the Beanie Babies in the air.  “Seriously?” I mumbled, thinking she was going to complain about how K-Man was playing with it.

And then the lady said, “Excuse me, I would like to buy this toy for her.”  And she gestured towards me.

Oops. I’m a terrible person.  I profusely thanked her, and she commented that she had five kids (wow), that she knows that some days are better than others, that it is the season of giving, etc.  And then she explained to the clerk that she was covering my whole purchase.  I tried to protest, because you guys, it was a $50 bill! A complete and total stranger wanted to buy me $50 worth of things because it’s Christmas and I was having a hard day!

I eventually let her go through with it, but I felt a little awkward and couldn’t thank her enough.  I was even moved to a few tears, which was super embarrassing.  (To be fair, I was pretty close to tears before the nice gesture…)

I was so overwhelmed with emotion, in fact, that I failed to realize that the clerk had rung up one of my items twice, thereby charging this kind lady an extra $15.  Oof, I really wish I had noticed that at the time!

As I drove home, I reflected on the kindness of a stranger, and how it had turned around my day.  This season is so beautiful to me.  I know I talk a lot about shopping and presents, but I really do love the less tangible facets of Christmas.  Kindness.  Giving.  Love.  Cheer.  I love how Christmas brings these emotions forward.

Christmas is picking up someone’s bill to brighten their day.

Christmas is humming carols out loud at the grocery store, smiling as you pass someone doing the same.

Christmas is my heart exploding as I watch my kids bathe together before bedtime, both silently sucking on their toothbrushes in unison.  Dorks.

Christmas is Hubby’s attending sending him home 4 hours early today so he could spend Christmas Eve with his children.

I know this time of year isn’t easy for everyone.  For some, Christmas is about longing for what they don’t yet have, or missing what they don’t have anymore.  For me, sometimes the holiday just highlights the loss I still feel so keenly for my own nuclear family, the one that crumbled when my parents divorced 7 years ago.

So if you’re not feeling all warm and cuddly and spirity this Christmas Eve, please accept my virtual hug.  And know that if I was behind you in line at Barnes and Noble, I would totally pick up your bill.

Merry Christmas to all.  Until next time,

Vee

Thursday Thoughts (on a Wednesday)

It’s Wednesday, and I’m having some thoughts.

Like, why does Hubby refuse to rinse out whatever bowl or cup he uses to scramble eggs in? Is it because he enjoys my gagging sounds when I’m loading the dishwasher?  Is there anything grosser than raw egg yolk dripping all over everything? *Vomit*

Also, why are the people waiting to use the family restroom I’m already using so impatient?  Do they not know what kinds of things go on in the family restroom?  Do their kids not need to take all manner of shoes and clothes off to go potty? Have they never changed a 20-wipe blowout? Do they think that trying the handle every 30 seconds is going to make my potty-training son poop any faster?

I’ve noticed that my kids have turned me into a human garbage disposal. They never finish any of their food and I ultimately end up playing clean up with my mouth.  Hey, it’s closer than the trash can.  (Floor noodles, anyone? No? Too far?)

Yesterday we had an epic snow here in Upstate New York and I felt like freaking Wonder Woman as I shoveled the driveway with two kids in tow.  I also felt like my neighbors were staring at me out their windows, thinking to themselves that I have no fucking clue what I am doing.  Maybe YouTube can teach me how to shovel snow?

Tomorrow, my in-laws are descending upon us for a few days.  You guys know how I feel about that.  I can’t wait to see what my Mother-in-Law got us all for Christmas this year.  We sent an Amazon Wish List for the kids that went completely unacknowledged, so I’m sure we totally won’t be disappointed or offended at all.  Blurgh.

The Star Wars release date is upon us, and the in-laws have volunteered to watch the munchkins so Hubby and I can have a day date and go see it.  I’m kind of a Star Wars poser, but I get excited because it is fun to see Hubby excited.  I will totally fall asleep halfway through the movie, for about 10 minutes, like I always do.  I will wake up to Hubby glaring at me over his popcorn, like I always do. Hopefully somewhere deep down, he thinks it is a little bit adorable?

Until next time,

Vee

 

#NaBloPoMo Day 26: We Made a Mistake

We are 26 days in to this NaBloPoMo November, and today’s theme is Dream House. Don’t miss yesterday’s post about my dream diet, the Whole30.  (Just kidding, if it was a dream it would permit deep fried peanut butter cups.)

I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret.  Something Hubby and I refuse to tell almost all of our friends and family members.  Here it is: we bought our current house sight unseen.

Go ahead. Go ahead and judge us hard.  It was a bold and mostly stupid move, but we felt pretty backed in to a corner.  When Hubby learned he had matched to a program in upstate NY, we had about four months to find a house, get approved for a mortgage, close on the house, and move ourselves and our two kids up from the DC metro area.  It was a pretty steep timeline, especially when you consider the fact that it takes an average of 60 days to close on a house in New York state.

Anyway, Hubby was still in school, I was working, we had two very young kids, and we were trying to navigate a 500-mile move.  To a market where flights were not cheap.  All to say, it was pretty hard to go house hunting.  Don’t get me wrong, we tried to do it right.  Hubby drove up for two days and saw maybe 10-15 houses, but they were all total non-starters.  Any house we were ever excited about was snatched up before Hubby could get up there to check it out. Ugh!

So when we saw what looked like the perfect house come on the market — in budget, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a lush backyard, beautifully finished, and a fricking Wegmans down the street — we decided to do something crazy and offer on it without first seeing it in person.  Thankfully our agent was game to go check it out for us, and she confirmed that it was a steal.  So we put in an offer the day it came on the market.  And so did 3 other people, yikes!  We subbed in another offer slightly above asking price, and our bid was ultimately selected.  Who knows what to believe, but our agent told us that all 4 offers were essentially for the same amount, and the owner chose us because she liked our family story. Aww! We never met her but I still feel like she must have been a sweetheart.

So after the offer and the passed inspection, we waited an excruciating two months before we could check out our house and see if our gamble paid off.  When the day finally arrived, we were giddy, and for good reason. The pictures had done the house justice, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Was this really our new home?  How could we be so lucky.

But as we walked around, we started to come to a sick realization. Cigarette smoke.  The cigarette smoke smell was unbelievably pervasive.  Oh shit.  Did we just make a huge mistake? It had naively never occurred to me that there could be a smell issue we were missing when we looked at the pictures.  And it wasn’t just a hint of something here and there, it was really bad.  The garage especially smelled like a human-sized cigarette had died in there.

So, we buckled down and did some research on how to eliminate smoke odors. We washed the walls with vinegar, we vacuumed the rugs with baking soda, we wiped down all the fixtures, we even bought an ozone machine to see if it would make any difference. Everything helped a little, but there was never an inexpensive silver bullet. So after a few months of “should we, shouldn’t we,” we bit the bullet and had our carpets changed. You’re welcome, Home Depot, for that generous donation.

Where are we now? We’re thinking changing the carpets did the trick, at least enough to live with. If things start to stink again and we have to shell out money to have the whole house repainted, I might die of a bad mood.

In the end, we know we did something risky and stupid. But we also think we probably would have bought the house even if we had smelled it in person, first. Because we’re cocky and we probably would have thought it was an easy fix. That’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night, anyway.

Is it our dream house? No.  But we weren’t looking for a dream house.  We’re here for three years, and just needed something to keep us warm.  And now that the smoke smell is gone, this house exceeds our expectations.  It may not be my textbook dream house, but owning a home is still a dream come true.

Until next time,

Vee

#NaBloPoMo Day 19: The Sting of Halloween

Nineteen days into NaBloPoMo, and today’s theme is Injury.  I’m talking about a serious one today, folks!  By the way, if you need some help in the toddler raising department, be sure to read yesterday’s post about how I discipline my demonic two-year-old.

If there’s one thing I lack, it’s experience with bee stings.*   Or wasp or hornet stings, what have you.   Rumor has it that when I was a little kid, I was stung by a wasp on the butt while I was using a training toilet outside (as you do).  But that was the last and only time I’ve ever been stung, and I obviously don’t remember how it felt.

I do remember feeling pretty smug when, a few years back, my cousin’s family was visiting and her husband would not shut up about the wasps in our back yard.  “Katie, we CANNOT let our kids get stung,” he said to my cousin emphatically.  “That would just ruin our WHOLE DAY.”  I rolled my eyes inwardly, thinking he was being overly dramatic.  That was two years ago, but unfortunately there’s no statute of limitations on karma.

So let’s flash back to Halloween of this year.  We were at a “Boo at the Zoo” event, and K-Man was having a grumpy day.  He’s really not into dressing up in costume, but we bribed him into a fireman outfit by telling him it was just a jacket he needed to wear because it was cold outside.  Hah, sucker.

Once K-Man realized the event was an exercise in collecting candy, his mood brightened somewhat.  Nevertheless, we sighed loudly when he suddenly screamed and threw his pumpkin bucket to the ground.  Hubby made no effort to hide his annoyance as K-Man’s sobs grew.  But as I stared down at his sad little shaking body, I started to realize something was actually wrong.  Though there was no offender in sight, we thought maybe the poor little dude had been stung by a yellow jacket. I had seen them everywhere all morning, and of course his hands were covered in sugar.  When his finger turned red and started to swell, we were certain that’s what we were dealing with.

Since I had no recollection of how much a sting hurts, I didn’t know what I was in for with my injured toddler.  When the initial tears dried up after a few minutes, I figured the episode was behind us.  But no, every 2-3 minutes, K-Man would break down crying in long, morose sobs all over again.

It really was a “bless his heart” kind of moment.  Some of the attendants felt so bad for him — without even knowing why he was crying — that they gave him extra candy as he made the rounds.

Eventually we gave up and left the zoo.  K-Man’s tearful outbursts became fewer and farther between, but still lasted for several hours.  He even woke up early from his nap crying about how his “finguh huht”.

To make him feel better, I told him the story about getting stung on my butt when I was a toddler. Well, that surely left a mark. Here we are, three weeks out, and I will still hear K-Man whispering to himself in the back seat: “I got stung by a bee on my finger and Mom got stung by a bee on her BUTT!!” I guess we’re bonded now.

Until next time,

Vee

*I’m totally joking.  I am abundant with flaws.

#NaBloPoMo Day 14: Dolla’ Dolla’ Bill Y’all

Happy NaBloPoMo Day 14, where my self-assigned theme is Money.  As Wyclef Jean would say, dolla’ dolla’ bill y’all!  Don’t forget to read yesterday’s post, where I admit I would pay so many big ones to get my daughter to sleep through the night.

Allow me to get a bit inelegant up in here as I crudely discuss my family’s finances.  So Hubby and I, we have an MD and a JD to our respective names.  We must be rolling in it, right? Well, no, not so much.  Not when you consider the fact that I left my high-paying job to be a stay-at-home mom indefinitely.  And not when you consider the fact that Hubby is in his first year of residency, and residents are paid almost zero dollars.  I’m not even joking when I say his salary is 1/6 of what my salary was when I left my biglaw job.

We’re a family of four living on a pretty meager paycheck.  Are we broke or what?  Thankfully, we’re not about to be in the poorhouse.  When I was working and Hubby was in med school, we weren’t the most frugal people you ever met.  But we were careful enough to pay off my loans, cover about half of his education bills, and build a nice little nest egg in a savings account. And now — as we’ve always planned — we’re tapping into that nest egg so we can afford for me to stay at home with the kids for a bit.

That being said, we’d like to have some savings left on the other side of Hubby’s residency.  Our lifestyle still has to change drastically.  Drastically.  When we crunch the numbers, after everything, we’ve really got to be spending about 1/4 as much as we did before I left my job.

So how do you do that? No, seriously, this isn’t a how-to post. I need somebody to tell me how to do that.  Here’s what we’ve figured out so far:

 

  • We did ourselves a big favor by leaving the DC metro area.  Thank you, Upstate NY, for being about half as expensive.
  • We can no longer eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Sometimes, I actually have to cook meals.  Which means I’ve had to learn how to cook.  Which means I’ve had to learn that I’m not very good at cooking.  Which is a hard pill to swallow, since I’ve made a bit of a career out of criticizing my mother-in-law’s cooking.
  • We have to stop going to fucking Target.  WE HAVE TO STOP GOING TO FUCKING TARGET.  Sorry, I’m still trying to convince myself of this one.  Because I heart Target so freaking bad.  I know it is a perilous money pit, but it is my true happy place.  Bored? Let’s go to Target. Kids are acting crazy? Let’s go to Target. Need Starbucks? Let’s go to the one in Target.
  • Getting paid to take online surveys will earn you about $1.00 an hour.  That’s 4.5 hours of work for a Starbucks chai latte.
  • Goodbye Starbucks, hello Dunkin’ Donuts.  (But really, goodbye Dunkin’ Donuts too, because see bullet point #2).

It’s a steep learning curve, but we’ll figure it out, right?

Until next time,

Vee