Thursday, January 31, 2008

Breaking a bad habit

Ugh. I might need professional help. I am starting to wean Claire, which means I need to start weaning myself off of a littany of things:
  • regular snacking, often on sweets

  • automatic second helpings of food

  • my 2-a-day dessert habit

  • and blatant disregard for my caloric intake

Claire has been the best weight-watching program I've ever tried. Even when I was pregnant with her, I only gained 29 pounds in 39 weeks. That pregnancy was over the Christmas holiday season, and although I ate many a sugar cookie, I don't think I gained more than 3 pounds in the last trimester. After she was born, I lost all my baby weight by the time she was 4 months old. I lost an additional 10 pounds in subsequent months. I didn't diet. I didn't exercise (minus running a mile here and there while we were in Oregon in July). I just nursed her 4-5 times a day, and fat flew off my thighs and onto hers. Don't hate me, girls. (I say this even though I would have hated me, but it was literally beyond my control.) Which sort of makes me wonder about weight.

With Kate, I gained 38 pounds in 37 weeks. It took me 7 months to lose all but one pound of baby weight, and then I got pregnant again and started gaining weight. With Kate, I exercised. I ate healthy foods every day, and I limited my sugar intake. It makes no sense to me.

One thing I did lose from the first pregnancy to the next, however, is my curls. I used to have curly hair. Now my locks are mostly straight, with some wave. I miss my curls. But, curls or weight? I have a feeling most will say weight. What would you choose: great hair or a thin figure? Now that I have lost the weight, I want the curls back, of course. What? I can't have it both ways?

Curls + 37 pounds, many of which I apparently carried in my face. And my arms. Good-NESS.

Anyway, I now am the not-so-proud owner of some bad eating habits. For instance, it's naptime, and minutes ago I found myself in the kitchen scrounging for a snack. I paused, mentally, to make sure I was actually hungry, and then I wolfed down a couple of mint-mini Three Musketeer bars. *cringe* I looked through the pantry and nothing looked appealing. I opened the fridge and quickly looked away from the Costco birthday cake staring at me. I slammed the door. I settled on a 100-calorie pack of microwave popcorn, of the kettle corn variety. It was okay, and I do like that they finally came up with a size of microwave popcorn that I can consume in one sitting, but it didn't really hit the spot. I'm still debating about having at least a forkful of that cake. Tonight I will wander aimlessly from room to room, restless until I have a bowl of ice cream and/or some cake in front of me...and now you know why I might need professional help. Suggestions? What do you snack on?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Love lost

Dear Target,
I don't even know how to do this. I know that breaking up via blog is so childish, but I feel like our latest spat was also childish (on your part), and I'm pretty peeved right now. My little Claire got the cutest bathing suit for her birthday, but I'm afraid it won't fit her in a few months when we're actually able to swim outside. I don't have the receipt, as it was a gift, and apparently you no longer give gift receipts with every purchase. But I thought I could at least EXCHANGE it for the next size up. I mean, it has the TAG on it still, which is CLEARLY marked Circo (a brand carried exclusively by you), and it has never been worn. The nice lady at customer service looked me up in your computer system using my driver's license, and noted that I had already used my 2 (TWO!) non-receipt returns/exchanges for the year. I quickly did the math, and came up with the fact that it is still January of this year, and I am pretty certain that I have not returned anything yet in 2008. She pointed to her paper where she had written down two dates:
  1. 1/08/07
  2. 6/24/07

She pointed at the last date and said that she would be glad to accept my return after June 24th of THIS YEAR. So it's not a calendar year thing, nor is it even a within-12-months thing, or I would have been able to return this bathing suit because today is later than January 8th. This makes no sense to me.

So. I called my friend Rae, who gave us the darling bathing suit in lime green and white stripes with the cutest ruffle you ever have seen, and asked her if she had by any chance kept that darned receipt. Maybe it was the tone in my voice, but she started in on a rant. "Oh I KNOW! It is so annoying that they won't let you exchange anything without your license, and you only get 2 per year! I once had to give them my license for a Match Box car return!" She told me she does still have the receipt, because she was concerned that maybe we would need to exchange the gifts, and then she launched into her experience trying to get a gift receipt from said store which does not accept returns without a receipt. She had already been cashed out, and when she looked at her receipt, she noticed there was no gift portion on it. She asked the checker if she could have a gift receipt and he said it was too late! "Just give them the actual receipt." This is not an acceptable answer, Target.

Now. If you are going to require a receipt for such silly things as EXCHANGES for the EXACT SAME ITEM, and people without their receipt may only have 2 of these exchanges per non-calendar year, then PERHAPS you should include a GIFT RECEIPT on EVERY SINGLE DAMN PURCHASE.

I do love you, Target. You have fun things. Your prices are reasonable. You are so close by. Your stores make me happy, and even my oldest daughter loves to go to "the big red ball store". But I think we may need to take a break for awhile, and hope that each other's absence will repair the damage that has been done. Perhaps you should seek therapy. Until then, I will have to drive all the way to the BX, or even to *gah* WalMart. Please make a change for the better.


The owner of a very cute too-small child's bathing suit

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ann Arbor

Snow is the best thing in the world!

We spent the last part of our vacation visiting with friends in Ann Arbor. I know: we were only gone for 8 days, including travel. There was a lot of driving involved on this "vacation". Anyway.

Ann Arbor was great! I haven't been there in years (my Dad went to school at Michigan for like 8 years, so we visited occasionally when I was growing up), and Tim and the girls had never been. Our friends Kevin and Tabitha, whom we know from Pope, and their daughter Natalie, are now living in Ann Arbor, so we had to stop by while in the area.

Kevin and mini-me, baby Natalie.

While there, Kate mastered going up and down stairs (I know most other kids probably master this by age 1, but we have no stairs), Claire said her first word ("puppy", of which our friends have 2), Kate went sledding for the first time, and we enjoyed lots of time over gourmet meals and wine with some of our best friends.

Tim got to talk "air force" with Kevin, and I got to trade memories and laughs with Tabitha, while the girls played together with all of Natalie's toys. Kate loved the snow, and thought sledding was the best thing ever, until she learned how to make snow angels. She didn't even complain when snow worked its way up her sleeves and down her neck. Natalie was a little dismayed with the snow and our insistence on playing in it. I think she's seen it before.

Kate could not get baby Natalie's name right: Analie, Emily, Ettilie, Atalie, Amily, etc. Natalie was pretty easy-going about the whole thing, though, and still let Kate pull her on the sled.

Y'all, this is sort of boring.

C'mon, baby Analie!

Snow angel.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Our vacation in Kentucky

McLaren (12mo) and Isaac (10mo).

Noah, 2 years.

Tim's brother and his family live in northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati, and that's where we headed after our short visit with Grandma Lorraine. We arrived in time (okay, late) for dinner and spent the next 2 days with them. Kate and Claire had so much fun, and really enjoyed playing with their cousins, the younger two who are just two months younger each than Kate and Claire. Kate also loved playing with Ms Kenzie, as she called her, and she learned to climb stairs really well while at their house. She got to ride in their battery-powered Jeep , which I'm sure will be on the Christmas wish-list this year. Claire spent most of her time stealing toys from Isaac, and climbing on the children's sofa (one of which we decided to get her for her birthday since she liked it so much). Carrie and I got to go to Graeter's ice cream (I know, in the winter? But it was SO good), and spent time catching up. Tim got to talk with his younger brother, James, more than he's gotten to in years, and we all had a great time. We even got to go to church with the whole family, although Kate was so distressed about going into the nursery that Tim stayed with her the entire time, and Claire cried herself to sleep on someone in the baby nursery. The trip was too short, but we had to head up to Ann Arbor for the last portion of our visit. I'll post about that tomorrow. Thank you, James and Carrie, for having us stay with you! We miss you!
Kate rides a horse for the first time.
Mykenzie (7) and McLaren.
Jacob (obviously just turning 5).
McLaren's first taste of birthday cake. (She liked it.)

Birthday present from her cousins.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Claire!

Ladybug cake.

I almost missed the party, but made it home just before people began to arrive. I had scheduled the celebration for 11am, to work around lunch and naps, but that made for a tight morning of picking up the cake and some balloons. Unbelievably, the trip to Costco was faster than the trip to Party City. Somehow I got behind a family who bought $314 worth of SpongeBob Squarepants party stuff. Are you kidding? Sadly, it is true. But it made my $15 bunch of balloons seem so thrifty!

While I was pulling out of Costco, I received a call from Tim. It seemed that he had been enjoying the 70* weather and had decided to take a dip in the pool. Translation: while cleaning the pool filter, he moved too quickly, too close to the edge, and fell in. Luckily he was laughing as much as I was about it.

The party was fun. We had friends and family (from as far as California and Texas!) over to celebrate Claire's first birthday, and there were no disasters. Claire enjoyed her ladybug cake (her hands are still slightly purple), and several of the children present got to try cake for the first time. Kate and Claire are working out the property rights to the new sofa Claire got for her birthday, and Kate is happy to have yet more new toys to play with.

So dainty at first.


Mom, did you know ladybugs are filled with a yummy strawberry cake center?

After several handfuls.

It's hard to see the black eye, but it's there! Not to worry, it was only frosting, and it came off with a good warm bath immediately afterward.!

What? You can't breathe? You're not comfortable? What? I can't understand you, Claire.

Perhaps the best thing that happened yesterday was that Claire decided to take her first steps. She had been leaning/stumbling into our arms for the past week, but yesterday she figured out how to pick her feet up and take steps. She is now taking up to 6 steps at a time, on a fairly regular basis. I guess this is in line with her vocabulary explosion last week: her first word was 'puppy', while we were in Michigan, and by the time we got back home, she was saying 'mommy', 'daddy', 'bye-bye' and 'bunny'. What can I say? She's brilliant!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Pictures from part one of The Trip

I won't even share with you how MUCH stuff still needs to be done this afternoon. Instead, I'll upload a few photos to satiate your desire to know what the trip was like. Here is a short pictorial of our stay in Livonia.

Snow at great-grandma's house!



Three generations.

Claire studies for the big test.

A big-girl cup for her first birthday celebration.

All dressed up for the birthday dinner.

Claire and great-grandma Lorraine.


Why are those people over there singing to me?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


...what was I thinking? Let's see: we'll get back from our first family airplane trip, Tim will leave early the next morning for a short TDY, and I will try to clean up the house, shop and prepare for Claire's birthday party two days later?

The trip was great. We are tired. The house is a mess. I promise to try real hard to write more tomorrow. Good night!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ooh, pretty

We're just watching a little Today Show this morning while packing, and they had a segment on new luxury cars. The highest priced vehicle of all was the new Mercedes SLR McLaren! What a beauty. Even though she's not named after a car, Claire will probably be proud this one has her name.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dinner out

I didn't cook all weekend (with the exception of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, but does that really count?), and it was a welcome break! I like to cook, but the clean-up part afterwards is not my favorite way to spend time, so going out to dinner is always a nice change.

Last night we went out to Peter Piper Pizza. We will probably not be going back. I had never been there before, and thought it would be a fun place to take the kids. It's supposed to be like Chuck E. Cheese's, but it was just sort of blah. The pizza took an hour (at a kids restaurant!) to arrive, many of the games were broken, the food was not very appetizing, and they didn't serve milk. No milk at a place that caters to kids. Um...? Kate enjoyed the experience, but next time we'll try Mr. Cheese's place instead.

Tonight we met my sister and her family at Takamatsu, a Korean and Japanese restaurant that we haven't been to in almost a year. Jess and Mike had never had Korean food, and they were up for trying something new, so it was fun. We sat on the Korean side where they have tables with range-tops built in, and we cooked our own bulgogi and galbi. Mike also got a steaming bowl of bibimbap, which Claire ate greedily. Jess and Mike tried every one of the kimchi bowls placed on our table, which was impressive given that tonight they included itty-bitty fish as part of the feast. I tried them in Korea and I was not happy to have done so. Jess said they weren't bad, so maybe they were different than the ones I had, but I didn't try them this time. Kate did not enjoy the meal much, and apparently ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we got home, but Claire loved it. She ate rice, bibimbap, potato kimchi, bulgogi and galbi. Not to worry - I didn't give her any soju with dinner.

Tomorrow I will be stressed out with packing and planning for our trip to Michigan. I am dreading the flight, but it will be great to see family and friends. See you back here next week!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This is when I get absolutely nothing done (except for useless things like surfing the internet)

We're on the VML. That's the vulnerable to move list, and it means that we might (or might not) be moving in the next 6 (or 9) months. It also means that I start to hate my house, begin planning for our next location (even though I have no idea where it might be), and spend copious amounts of time on real estate websites, trying to find the perfect house in Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, Virginia, and Tucson (I must also plan for the possibility that Tim could get a new job here, and then we will probably have to move because I will have become so dissatisfied with our current home that it will no longer do). Deep breath, and punctuation without parentheses, please.

I've always loved looking at real estate. I remember walking through our brand new house in Redmond when it was being built in the 1970s. I was probably 4 years old, but I thought it was so cool that I could see the hallway past the bathtub when I was standing in the bathroom: there were no walls, only studs. Then, in high school, my boyfriend Tim (weird, huh? Different Tim) and I would "hike" like a mile from his house to new neighborhoods that were being built nearby, and discuss what we thought were the most important aspects of a good home.

Now I realize several things. For one, we really need two living spaces. A living room and a family room would be awesome. Kids come with a lot of plastic, and it's kind of an eyesore having it scattered all through the living room. Also, a garage would be so very useful. We have a carport here, which is great for keeping your cars out of the heat, but doesn't allow for one of the most important things ever: storage. I don't think we have that much stuff, overall, but I really would like to put the Christmas decorations some place other than the girls' closet. There are things I love about our house (pool, angled tile floors, newish kitchen, brand new master bathroom), and it will be hard to move into a house that doesn't have some of these things. For now, and until March when we hopefully find out if and when and where we are moving, I will have to peruse the internet to find my dream home and then think up some way of paying for it.

What's your dream house like?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Finding out

Aaah, blogging. It causes me to lose sleep. I ought to be napping right now, because one of the babes is teething and I am e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d. But blogging encourages me to write about things that should be written down. In this case, the subject is pregnancy tests. I had planned on telling these stories at the end of the month, when Claire turns one, but swistle inspired me to do it now. Here are my stories:

With Kate, it was 2004, and we were living in Korea. We had discussed children, specifically us having them, in the past, and I wasn't certain it was something I wanted to do. I enjoyed working and didn't always enjoy children, and was certain that it would force an ending to my selfish streak that I so enjoyed. But after having been married for 3 years, and quitting my last job to move overseas, we decided that we would start trying. Somehow, I thought that since we were actively wanting children, it should be easy. It was not. We tried for six months. No luck. I called my mother-in-law, certain that we would never have children and how could I live with that? She assured me that it would just take time. I think she also mentioned something about my hysteria, and how that might be a sign of things...but I am not sure about that one.

Not long after that conversation, Tim and I went on vacation to Vietnam. In hopes that warmer weather would bring out the double pink lines, I brought a test with me. Just in case. We lounged on the sand, lying under big frond umbrellas, in Phan Thiet. We wandered from beach to beach, enjoying the warm February weather, the warm water, and the tropical atmosphere and good food. We woke late each morning and ate lavish breakfasts at the resort we were staying at. We read books on the beach, took naps, and watched kite surfers negotiate the ocean waves.

One morning at breakfast, nothing looked appealing. This was odd, as breakfast is my favorite meal. They even had crepes, my Favorite favorite. I ate a couple of bites, and then pushed my plate away, opting to drink my tea instead. That afternoon, we made our way to the beach, and Tim got a Tiger beer from a beach vendor. I sipped it, and it was delicious. But, I thought, what if I'm pregnant? I better make sure it's okay to drink it. Back to the room I went. Minutes later, I found out that I would not be drinking beer for a long time. I walked back to the beach, trying to restrain my excitement, to tell Tim. I was nervous! We had been wanting a baby, but what would he say? He was excited, of course.

We spent the rest of our vacation making sure I had readily-available snacks (if I was hungry, I Absolutely.Could.Not.Wait.For.Food), having maternity dresses made for me in Hue, and trying to decide on names. When we got back to Korea, I was instantly glad we would be moving back to the US, I was so happy that it was winter and the smell wasn't so bad, I avoided the weekly markets that smelled of fish and...who knows what...I got an ultrasound on base and saw our teeny bean baby and its heartbeat (we wouldn't find out her gender until she was born), and friends in Korea even threw me a baby shower before we moved.

For Claire, she was definitely the second born. We wanted to have kids close together, mostly because 1.) my sister and are 4.5 years apart and were not close growing up, and 2.) I wanted the kids to have instant friends when we moved, which we do often in the military. I wasn't sure what to expect with the second pregnancy. It took us a long time to conceive Kate, and I didn't want the ups and downs of testing every month. So we just kind of played it by ear.

Then one day, Kate and I were shopping at the commissary. We walked down the condiment aisle, and I saw the ketchup and mustard. Mmmmm, hot dogs, I thought. Then: I'm pregnant. I so have to be pregnant. HOT DOGS? I added a pregnancy test to my basket. But it was too early.

We went on vacation to Oregon to visit Tim's family. We bought yummy beer that we have trouble finding here in Arizona. I drank several bottles over the course of a couple of days, knowing that I would likely not be able to drink any beer for many months. I know. I know! Horrible, right? The next morning, I took the test in my in-laws' guest bathroom. It was positive. I don't remember Tim's reaction. I am sure he was happy, but I don't remember his specific reaction. We didn't tell anyone for awhile, but then I couldn't keep it a secret any longer. I called my friend Steph to see how the base medical maze did pregnancy tests. She didn't ask any questions, just gave me answers to mine. Then I called my sister and told her. Later I told two of my sisters-in-law while we were at lunch.

Now, the baby from that hot dog pregnancy is about to turn one. I can hardly believe it. These past 3 years have been wonderful, emotional, heart-wrenching, crazy, and the most satisfying of any before.

Do you have a story you want to tell? Please share!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The most fun ever

Ask Kate if she wants to go with you to a bouncy castle sometime. You'll make a new best friend, if you take her. Last night was a promotion party/first Friday at the club, and they had four bouncy castles/slides for the, ahem, kids. We arrived and, after seeing what fun everyone was having, Kate wanted nothing to do with dinner. I hefted her up onto the obstacle course castle and after some trepidation, she tentatively started bouncing. Not long after jumping on the first one, she wanted to go up the big slide. I went up with her, because it was pretty steep, and we went down together. After that, she was all over it, by herself. She held up the line occasionally, but climbed it fine on her own, and loved coming down the big slide.

Claire spent a lot of time in her stroller at first, because Tim wasn't there yet. After about an hour of wondering where he was, his squadron commander saw me and told me I was lucky I wasn't there alone. I looked at him for a long time, trying to figure out what exactly he meant. I was there alone. I finally asked him to explain, and he said that Tim had lost an engine and had to make an emergency landing at Gila Bend. I suddenly felt bad for the slightly testy message I had just left for him on his cell phone, asking where he was. He showed up about an hour later, and Kate showed him that she could climb the big slide and go down by herself. It was a somewhat hectic night, with me losing Kate twice while I was either getting food or taking Claire down the slide, and one of those times I felt the rapid heartbeat-where-is-my-child franticness that comes when you realize you don't know where they are. But I found her (on a bouncy castle, of course), and all turned out well.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Readjusting, a request for ideas, and the zoo

I knew I shouldn't have posted about Kate sleeping in. She has been up by 6:30am the past two days. But her afternoon nap seems to be back, so I guess it's a trade off? I used to have a window from about 12-12:30 for putting her down, and if I made it, she would sleep beautifully. Now my window has moved. I'm trying to figure out where it has moved to, because having her play in her room for 2 hours before she finally falls asleep seems a little much. And when she does that, she doesn't wake up until 4-4:30pm (or sometimes closer to 5pm) and then bedtime is all messed up. I suppose this shift could also have something to do with the fact that we have been cooped up for so long that she just has excess energy.

We went to the zoo today, where she got to run around and climb on things, and what do you know: I put her to bed and she stayed there and fell asleep almost immediately. Huh. So I bought an annual pass. We'll be going at least once a week until it's triple digits. And next time I'll bring my camera.

We are headed to Michigan in 2 weeks to visit family and friends. I know several of you have a plethora of experience taking toddlers on airplanes, and so I ask you - no, I beg you - please tell me how you do it! We have 2 flights each way, and it's sure to be painful if I don't have a plan.