Friday, October 25, 2013

The Zeb file, section "Offenses, Recent"

- Opened several bottles of water, emptied them onto the floor, then refilled them and emptied them again, then threw all the soda and seltzer cans out of the cabinet onto the wet floor, causing several to be wrecked without opening as evidenced by the bulging cans
- Shows absolutely no interest in potty training. Claims to be "scared" of the potty when placed upon it, screams and cries until he is taken off, then five minutes later takes a man-sized dump full of impossible-to-remove black banana specks in his pants.
- Has huge crying fits and claims to be tired when forced to do such horrific things as putting on a shirt or going to the playground
- Drools constantly and voluminously - is always soaked in a mixture of drool and spilled water, and has started chewing and mouthing more things than the baby does
- Bolts away at full speed in public places
- Ripped the cover of the atlas in half, ripped pages out of the Waldo books he loves
- Repeat naptime escape artist - can pick the lock on the door. Climbs up on top of the bunk beds and throws things at the fan if the ladder is not disabled pre-nap. Draws all over himself and his bedclothes. Took his diaper off and ran around naked because his cheap Daddy-purchased generic diaper had some stringy stuff coming off of it so he ripped it all off and claimed it was "spiderwebs," then wrapped his genitals in the spiderwebs. Only naps one fifth of the time, rest of the time will just wreak havoc, but he NEEDS to nap because when he doesn't he's SOOOOOOOO cranky the rest of the day
- Turns the cable box off all the time, which messes with the DVR and takes several minutes to reset itself
- Ate a candy off the ground in a gross mall petstore (apparently a result of being born without the ability to listen to any instructions ever)
- Flushed a rubber snake down the toilet in the morning and broke out the produce cleaning spray and sprayed his brothers, the fridge, the table, his playpen and his breakfast with it, claiming it was "syrup;" then about half an hour into his morning "TV time" (when he's supposed to be watching TV while I nurse the baby and catch my breath for half a second) he broke my cherished green glass head that we got off the free table in our apartment building in the funky neighborhood of Seattle nine years ago, which spread fifteen billion tiny shards of glass all over the downstairs tile floor

Let's go back to a Zeb happy place:

This is just the terrible twos, right? And he's just going to magically turn into a perfectly behaved Dennis the non-Menace in a couple of weeks when he turns three, right? RIGHT?!?!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another Florida birthday

When we came down here with Opal for Nic's job interview in July, I rode around the area with the baby and a realtor while Nic was getting interviewed. One of the things I was sad about losing by leaving the Philly area was the proximity to the Jersey shore and Ocean City, MD. I asked the realtor where people here went when they wanted to go to the beach, thinking the answer would be either Galveston or Mississippi. I'd been to the beach in Mississippi, though, and it was gross, brownish cloudy water like at one of the worst Jersey beaches but with no waves and without a boardwalk. But she told me those beaches were too silty and most people who wanted a beach getaway went to the Florida panhandle beaches, most of which were three to five hours away. So not quite as easy as the ninety minutes to two hours proximity of the Jersey shore, but more like the four hour drive to OCMD. Would it be worth it, though, I wondered? I'm happy to report that yes, it is!

I told Nic I wanted to go away for my birthday, either to Texas for SeaWorld in San Antonio or to Florida for the beaches. He wisely decided on Florida, as he can't take any time off until the new year and San Antonio is like eight or nine hours away. So we left Friday evening, listening to satellite radio on the way there. I'd been hinting to Nic that I wanted satellite radio for years in Philly, but my main reason was I wanted to hear oldies from the 1950s and oldies and discordant minor-key folk music from the 1960s that they no longer played on Oldies 98 or any other station in Philly. But the oldies station in New Orleans is actually really good, playing all those kinds of songs plus skeezy, sexually disturbing flash in the pan hits from the 1970s, so I kind of forgot about satellite radio. But it's pretty cool. Once I get the hang of it I'm looking forward to listening to the various talk shows, which I miss because I no longer am in the car at the right time of the day. This will be even better though because now there won't be commercials, which is huge because in the morning somehow all the stations always collated their commercials so that for the majority of my ride all the shows I liked to listen to would be all playing commercials at the same time.

Anyway, we got in super late to the condo in Fort Walton Beach, which is just outside of Destin. It was your standard beach condo right on the beach, could have been in OCMD or anywhere family beachtastic. But that view we got Saturday morning was definitely Floridian - crystal clear turquoise water, clean white sugary sand (apparently some of the best in the country - it squeaked when we walked) and gently swaying palm trees. The condo buildings themselves were very Florida Spanishy, white stucco walls and terra cotta roof tiles (real or fake I don't know). Here's the view from the parking lot (a sentence that always entices, I know):

The boys were very jazzed about the circularity of the walkthrough bathrooms and Wolfie in particular loved this wallpaper:

Saturday morning we woke up really early despite having gone to bed so late the night before. This was good because we ate up the morning with a lot of errands. First Nic went out with Opal to get breakfast, which ended up being from our old Florida favorite, Publix. It was a good thing we brought some pumpkin biscotti, because somehow the only thing he could find was decidedly non-dairy-free apple fritters, one of which we had to tell the fruit-phobic Wolfie was a "cinnamon fritter." "Thank you so much, Daddy, this cinnamon fritter is the best donut I've had in my whole life!" Ah, the many benefits of lying to your children. After that I had to go myself and Opal bathing suits. I left my one fitting non-maternity swimsuit in the hotel shower in Mobile, Alabama on the way down on our big move by accident. Opal needed a suit because I didn't have one for her because she hadn't been swimming yet. Her first beach trip! Anyway, I took Wolfie with me because when I asked if he'd go with he said "Sure Mom, it's your birthday so I'll do whatever you want." Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, so precious I almost forget that he picks his nose and smashes things for no reason when bored.

After an odyssey to several beach stores (none of which carried baby suits) and then Old Reliable (aka Target), we finally suited up and headed out:

The water was great, nice and warm and calm, the depth shallow and gently sloping down. The big boys of course were extremely excited to get into the water, especially expert swimmer Eli. Opal saw Wolfie walk into the water and immediately started hysterically laughing, which she doesn't do very often. She LOVED the water, slapping it and kicking around. It made me so nostalgic for the early days back in Florida with Eli laughing and smiling and happy in his little yellow baby floaty ring, slowly spinning and floating until he'd get all cutely tired and zonked out. I can't wait to get a floaty ring for Opal, I just hope we go back before she's too big or squirmy to use it! We didn't bring our camera out at first, then when Nic went back inside to get it, someone spotted a pod of dolphins not too far offshore. The whole almost three years we lived in Florida we didn't once see dolphins at the beach, but there they were, coming up for air every few seconds and even once doing a small leap out of the water! I was worried they'd be gone by the time Nic got back with the camera, but they stuck around for a long time!

We even saw them again from the balcony the next morning. So cool! So Florida fantasy! Zeb was oddly afraid of ocean, and didn't even want to be carried in, so he just played in the sand.

Opal fell asleep at the beach, so I laid down with her on a chair, covering her up with a towel so she didn't get too much sun, while Nic and the boys played at the pool. After we all got cleaned up, had some lunch, and relaxed some at the room, we headed out to Destin for some mini golf and dinner, and Hawaiian shirt modeling for the dudes:

Those koi were ravenous. Anyway, it was an extremely lax game, what with me being weighed down with the Ergo baby and then Toddler Jefferson going buckwild, putting his ball Aunt Sally-style one centimeter from the hole then putting it in, then running crazy go nuts to the next hole. Scores were not kept. We had dinner at this little fake boardwalk shopping center Mexican restaurant,

where of course Zeb fell asleep at the table, then we headed back for non-dairy chocolate cake.

Sunday we had to check out too early to actually be able to go in the water, though I did stick my foot in the ocean for a second. Instead we stopped for lunch in Pensacola Beach on the way back.

We had lunch at the Hemingway Grill, which was on the water and exactly the kind of place I'd hoped to eat at the night before, but it was even better during the day because of the view.

Nic and the boys had breakfast food but I had a nice blackened fish sandwich with beans and rice with a bottomless champagne glass. Opal had the table:

Then we headed back to New Orleans, stopping in Biloxi on the way to feed the baby/pee at a beach store/confirm that the water is gross and brown in Mississippi (indeed it was). All in all, it was the perfect little birthday getaway, and it actually made me fall in love with Florida again!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Random sprinklings of madness

"I miss Grandma Ellen, it doesn't feel like a family without her."
"Aww, that's ni-"
"It doesn't feel like a family without her computer." - an exchange between me and Eli where I almost thought Eli was expressing a nice feeling about another human being.

"Are you chewing a piece of that board game?"
"No, I'm just chewing a tire. It's my favorite bubble gum." - Me talking to Zeb, the house ogre.


Necessary ingredients that must be present in order for Zeb to actually fall asleep during his nap:

- The time is between 12:30PM and 3PM
- Zeb has been outside at some point, preferably exercised for at least half an hour at a playground
- (MOST IMPORTANT) Zeb is tired but has not actually closed his eyes and fallen asleep, not for even thirty seconds in the car ride back from the playground. Even if he spent an hour and a half solid sprinting up and down a football field in the blazing hot sun, if his eyes close on the way back from the park for longer than a blink, he's up until bedtime. Cranky as hell, but up.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hi dere!

That's right, I'm back! Back at the keyboard typing an entry, and back in the Big Easy. It's been a crazy couple of months - Nic getting the job offer at the end of July while we were on the Alaska cruise (for pics of that, see my Facebook), scrambling to get housing and schooling lined up then packing up the whole house (with help from Rick) and driving all our stuff and our kids (again with help from Rick but also my mom) down to New Orleans. Mom was only supposed to be here for like ten days, but she ended up staying a whole month (more if you count the trip itself). Now she's been gone a week and a half. Mom was DEFINITELY a huge help and I really miss her company (and laundry/mopping skillz). But I wanted to make sure she got paid in entertainment for all her help, so I was trying to do something fun with her every day. Now that she's gone, we're settling into more of a toddler/baby-centric routine. Nic takes the big boys to school in the morning, then I hang out with the littles on the third floor (which is basically one huge playroom) for an hour or two.
I didn't realize how little crawling room there was at the old house until we got here. Opal's scooting her boot all over the place! The downside of that, though, is that every time I turn my head she somehow grabs some disgusting carpet garbage and crams it into her still-toothless maw, so that I turn back and see her big knobby cheeks mum-mumming on something mysterious and I have to stick my finger in there and sweep around until some lint ball or mysterious plant material falls out. One of these days, I just know I'm going to do that and a chewed-up roach abdomen is going to fall out. Yeah, the roaches? They're big enough to leash. Anyway, then I put Zeb downstairs to watch a show for a bit while Opal and I take a nursing TV break (that's her nursing and me watching TV, not both of us watching shows about nursing, because sadly my "I Didn't Know I Obese and Pregnant and A Stripper With OCD and a 136 lb Scrotum" Discovery Fit and Health isn't on our cable plan, which I keep meaning to look into but keep forgetting because I'm distracted by our nightly dose of "The Sopranos" and my deep well of depression from the end of "Breaking Bad," plus "Ink Masters" and my queens are keeping me entertained enough for now). After that we head out to a playground (there are several good ones, some in very nice city park settings) then get home in time for lunch with Nic, who finally works close enough that he can do that. Then Nic puts Zeb down for a quick nap and goes back to work and I try to get some stuff done before I have to get the boys from school, after which we only have an hour or two before Nic comes home for the night. "You know what my second favorite thing is, after weather and snakes?  Baby Opal!" - tender little Woog, who has declared he's going to marry his sister. Meanwhile, Zeb is the whipping boy, sustaining multiple scratches and even bite-induced bruises from Wolfie (Eli's anti-Zeb maneuvers leave fewer obvious marks). When I try to remind Wolfie that he used to dote on Zeb the same way he's doting on Opal now:
he tells me "I only like babies when they're babies, not when they're toddlers." I'm hoping he keeps his special moosh moosh spot for Opal, but I'll make sure to take pictures like this every chance I get just in case the warm fuzzies don't last:
Otherwise, Eli is very obsessed with cities, specifically Google Earth looking at them, checking out skylines, comparing the sizes of cities population-wise and area-wise, comparing skylines, comparing airports, and drawing cityscapes both real and imaginary. Wolfie, as previously mentioned, is focusing his obsession on weather, specifically "Strangest Weather on Earth," and to a lesser extent scientific shows like "Outrageous Acts of Science." Zeb has been, um, challenging (getting up on chairs and stealing cookies in the blink of an eye and mixing glass candleholders with my bird from woodcarving class into "soup" in the garbage disposal being the two most recent examples), but I think now that we're settling into a routine his sweet loving side is starting to outshine his naughty side once again. Not that the sweet loving side wasn't always there, it's just he is definitely the most energetic and challenging toddler yet. Even Grandma Ellen, who is usually a big softie who quails when I get too harsh and irritated and start doling out punishments, was being driven insane by the dude by the end of her trip. She even said, and I quote, "I don't know how you do it - Moms of boys deserve an extra Mother's Day!" They were all acting really nuts, largely because of the move I'm sure, but they're all starting to get better. And our first true "terrible twos" two year old has even more hope around the corner - next month he turns three! I can't believe that's already almost here! I'm going to have to put up a BUNCH of Opal weekly pics. I haven't put them up in forever but we've definitely been taking them every Wednesday! Gotta go shower now, because it's not a rare luxury like I sometimes treat it, it's basic hygiene! But here's the inspiration for the title of the post - Opal can wave hello now!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Travel torture survived, family returned

July was crazy busy!  Who goes to Louisiana and Washington state then Alaska within the span of one week?  We do, apparently!  

Picture-filled Seattle/Alaska cruise post to follow, but give me a few days as we just yesterday survived perhaps the crappiest day of travelling I've ever had.  Picture this - it was our first flying trip with all four kids (Eli and Wolfie flew out to Oregon for a fun-filled big kid week with Nic's parents the week before the cruise, so it was just me and Nic and Zeb and Opal on the way out to Seattle, which was grueling enough).  After a five hour flight from Seattle to Charlotte, NC, which arrived at 9 PM EST, the plan was to scarf some dinner then fly out to Philly at 10:30 to arrive at 11:59PM, which would have gotten us home at about 1:30AM with bag collection and driving back from the city.  Awful enough, right? 

But after scarfing said dinner and strapping on She Who Must Be Held for a quick walk, the departure time started creeping up and up and up, until finally around midnight the flight disappeared from the departure board.  Yet they didn't cancel it until about 2AM, at which point Zeb had passed out on some chairs with a Where's Waldo book harassingly placed over his face by his brothers and Opal was squirming angrily in my lap with a pantload of feces. 

It took forever for the airline rep to find us a hotel with two adjoining rooms and a crib, and once they did we went outside to wait for the shuttle and literally every other shuttle from every other Charlotte hotel passed by and collected people at least twice before our cigarette stinking busted ass van finally showed up.  And of course it ended up being a terrible motorcourt-style Days Inn, which I famously swore to never again patronize after the filthy disgusting crustatorium we stayed at in Williamburg, Virginia this past November.  This one was at least superficially clean to the naked eye, but it felt looked and smelled like it hadn't been stayed in since "The Shining" came out, which I bring up because it also felt similarly haunted.  Or maybe that was just the fact that it was three o'clock in the gad-dang morning by the time we walked through its doors and we had to get up at 6:20 for our flight to Pittsburgh.  Yes, Pittsburgh I said, because we had to route through there to get to Philly.  After checking the beds for bedbugs, Nic said he'd stay awake because he thought it would be worse for him if he fell asleep, and he wanted to take a shower, and someone had to call the airline because they accidentally printed out two boarding passes for Eli and zero for me.  So after dozing on top of the covers of the bed with Opal (because those "cribs" were busted gross looking unpacked Pack and Plays sans sheets, so yeah, those aren't getting used) , I had a feeling Nic wasn't in the room.  So I got up and checked and lo and behold, he was passed out on the bed next to Eli, buck naked, with the hotel phone in one hand on hold with US Air.  I'm sad to report he sat up with a start mere moments before I was able to frame the shot with my camera.

So three hours later, off we went on a (late) shuttle to the airport with three cranky dazed boys and a miraculously not that tired baby girl (she barely slept the whole cruise, so what's one more night of not sleeping, right?).  The flights went off without a hitch and the kids were actually very well behaved considering (especially Opal, who proved herself the worst baby flyer we've ever had on our trip to Oregon last month and our trip to New Orleans earlier this month).  Then when we got to Philly and met up with my parents who took the two big boys and our luggage because we couldn't fit all the kids and stuff in the car together, of course we then simply could NOT find our car.  So I sat there waiting for literally almost an hour for the courtesy car to come and drive me around the garage to find it while Nic walked around and I teetered on the edge of insanity.  I actually called my dad and found out he was home with the big boys before we even found the stupid car!  So the return time ended up being about 2PM, a mere twelve and a half hours later than we thought.  So yeah, lemme catch my breath!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fifth of July, the awesomest "of July" there is

In this neighborhood, July 4th is just okay.  We might fire up the grill in a minor way, maybe a couple of (secretly turkey but don't tell the kids) burgers, maybe have Grandpa Teddy over, maybe light a couple of sparklers and smoke bombs and shoot some cap guns.

Or just lose our minds.
 Bad '60s Batman special effects?
 Woog: Amused
And that, combined with our next door neighbors we've only spoken to like once's semi-pro level fireworks display (they bust them out for pretty much every holiday and sometimes for no discernible reason but they go the biggest for this one) and supplemented with TV fireworks (always DVRed in the case of the downtown Philly ones because they always have the longest, most boring concert ever beforehand and the 'works themselves don't air until like eleven, usually mostly in the range of when the news is supposed to be, so you have to DVR both, and you want to get them in HD of course, so it's this huge chunk of your DVR space, but you feel like you can't not DVR the stupid Philly fireworks since they're local and in the cradle of liberty and all, so you have to decide if you're going to delete "Apocalypto" which you saw in the theaters six years ago and DVRed over a year ago but you might, no you definitely want to rewatch it at some point, or maybe one of the fourteen episodes of "The Mindy Project" you keep meaning to watch because you watched all the previous ones but you just can't bring yourself to ever actually watch another one, or maybe one of Wolfie's nature shows, yeah a nature show that's the ticket, so you get permission from Wolfie to delete the "Snake Wranglers" he says he doesn't want to watch again anyway, yet you feel guilty that it had to be one of his shows and not one of your own obviously hoarded shows, and maybe you've got a problem, maybe you should start watching "Hoarders" again, I think you still have one in your upstairs DVR from 2011, the one with the chicken hoarder . . . ) ahem, anyway.  What was I saying?  Oh yeah, the 4th.
July 4th is certainly nice around these parts, but the big enchilada, the best day of the year to live in this neighborhood, is the Friday closest to July 4th (July 5th this year), which is when the Ambler Kiwanis Club puts on their big fireworks display at Wissahickon High School.  It's definitely one of the biggest pro displays in the suburbs.  I remember going to it multiple times growing up, and we always had to park super far away then walk, sometimes on a really busy road, then find a place to sit in the field with the huge crowd.  But now that we live on the same street as the school, we just have to drag out some lawn chairs to the end of the driveway and enjoy the show. 
This is the day we have the big BBQ party.  It feels like a less stressful Thanksgiving in July, plus kind of like Mardi Gras at the end when all the random strangers are wandering down our semi-shut-off street.  I make gross Jello shots nobody actually wants (Arnold Palmer and "Red" flavored this year), we make some basics and people bring other good stuff, we bust out the smores, everyone has a good time.  Earlier this year I was tearing up thinking about how we might already have moved far away by the time the fireworks rolled around this year.  It's probably my favorite thing about this house, it makes the neighborhood seem so wonderfully Rockwellian Americana.  While I do wish we had the moving plans locked down already, I am super glad we got to enjoy the fireworks one more time here this year.
Eli got inspired during an art session earlier in the week to make a huge display of pictures of "Eli City" for the party.

The sign on top reads "Welcome to Eli's Art Galery"
Since school ended, Mommy has been carrying Opal around in the Bjorn almost all day every day while running up and down and all around wrangling dudes.  Her favorite thing is watching her bros, and while the Bjorn makes it easier to give her a good seat to the bro show than pure arm carrying, it still kind of is breaking my back and neck.  So after some mother daughter posing -
Matching strawberry dresses almost unintentional
I heeded my aching back and let others Bjorn the young miss for a while.

Of course you can see the aforementioned Jello shots in the Daddy pic.  I thought the Arnold Palmer Jello Shots, despite being extremely difficult to say without either slowing down or having your words turn to mush (at least if you have a gorgeous Philly accent like we do), would be the big hit of the party.  Sweet tea vodka is the zenith of modern invention, after all.  But the red were actually slightly more palatable.  Oh who am I kidding, everyone hated all of them.

 The face of pure enjoyment
 Alan just got a smooth infusion
 But we bought special spoons!
 Not helping I guess
 Lovin' that ice tea refreshment

Maybe actually lovin' it?
Hide your pain for the sake of the baby

Of course you all might know that I do have a sadistic side when it comes to serving food and drink to guests, so I suppose I was satisfied with the reception after all.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of our annual fireworks visitors, Shoshana (my friend from back when I was Eli's age!) and her sister Aliza.  I could have sworn I took one of Shoshana forcing down the Jello, but I guess not. The big boys cavorted around the yard:

and we all ate, then it was time for fireworks:

Eli and Wolfie were totally loving it, as they always have.  Eli a couple of years ago jumped and cheered for the entire lengthy display, then for several months afterwards was entertained by Youtube fireworks displays (I remember one of his faves was a New Year's display in Sydney).  Wolfie likes them in a more quiet way.  I remember when he was around Zeb's age and fixated on the color green he delighted in pointing out the green fireworks.  Two years ago he famously holiday-gorging-on-chips barfed right before the display, necessitating a rushed bath and resulting in him viewing the display naked in a zebra towel on Grandpa Teddy's lap:

Note that second pic from 2011 with background barfed Woog.  Eli is wearing the same shirt Wolfie wore last night!  Too fast, too fast!  Also note that baby Zeb is totally chillaxing in my lap.  Not so last night.  Zeb, while he enjoyed the fireworks on TV earlier in the day, buried his face in my lap and declared in a loud but relatively calm voice that he didn't like this and wanted to go inside.  Grandpa Teddy obliged.  Opal we knew wouldn't be cool from when she freaked out at the neighbor's display the night before, so Nic stayed inside with her most of the time, but he had a good view from the window in our room.  I tried to relieve him a couple of times but the view was pretty good, and Opal had gone to sleep but in a resisting-crib-or-arm-transfer kind of way.  I still feel guilty though.

We somehow didn't end up going to the carnival at the elementary school last night (another fun thing in the 'hood, and we get to anticipate it the week before by taking walks up to the parking lot and watching as the rides and booths appear), so we're going up there tonight.  Since I'm not pregnant for once, I'll actually be able to ride some rides maybe!  Good times, good times.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Opal 23 - 26 weeks


Recently this baby lady has grown from being a clingy little monkey to being a clingy little monkey person.  She's really turning into an actual human.  When she's not insisting on being carried around the house in her human arm palanquin or the Bjorn, she's rolling all over the floor, gumming toys, pulling down the changing pad, and getting stuck under the bed.  Opal is getting really good at lifting up on her hands and knees and rocking back and forth, the prelude to crawling.  This is the squirmy age too when they start trying to spin and roll during diaper changes.  Who knew you could have tiring wrestling matches with someone who weighs just under seventeen pounds? 

Opal is starting to get that chubby cheek baby Popeye look that Zeb had around this age.  She likes watching people while they eat and gumming the air, or even better, grabbing a huge handful of Mommy's hair, wrapping it around her fist, and jamming that into her face.  She's doing well with cereal and I'm sure she can't wait to start real good foods (she looked extremely jealous of Eli's surplus school birthday soft pretzels).  Maybe part of the reason for all that urgent gumming - the doctor says Opal is officially teething!  Little pits are visible on her gums on the bottom where the teeth are eventually going to bust out. 

The best of all is seeing Opal interact with her brothers.  Wolfie is especially nice with her, from the self-slapdancing he does to entertain her to holding her and letting her eat his hair, but she loves watching all of them.  And when the boys start bouncing off the walls, she's beginning to add her own squealing vocals to the mix!  Yeah, I know, remind me of how cute I thought it was next year when she's toddler screaming along with her crazy brothers!  All in all, though, she's my Nuggetina Ocarina of love!