Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hair woes

I made the "mistake" of watching The Women (1939) again recently.

Why is this a mistake?  Well, now I'm wishing that my hair were as positively darling as Norma Shearer's.  Granted, mine is a touch curlier, more like Joan's, but for some reason the two women who really inspire me are Norma and Rosalind.  (Rosalind's outrageous Schiaparelli-esque outfits leave me simultaneously in stitches and swooning.)

In the past, I have been able to pull off a similar 'do as Shearer's, but I hesitate to run out and chop off my locks for a couple of reasons:

For starters, I lack a great hairdresser for such styles in my area.  I know an amazing one, Sandra D, but the drive up to her shop is murder for this Long Beach gal.

I do have a gal who will cut my hair as I direct her to do so (some stylists naturally baulk at the client directing them), but she isn't the most technically proficient.  I've had to make a few corrections post-appointment, alas.

Additionally, I just do not have the luxury of the time required to wear my hair like Norma's every day. Declan is much more hands-off these days, not requiring constant attention, but he still needs enough to keep me too busy each day.  My experience with such a haircut is that it looks positively AWFUL when it isn't carefully styled.

So, poo.

Did you ever cut or dye your hair against your better judgement?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A quick post

A little vice...
Apologies for the lack of new posts, but we've been a touch busy around here what with the new digs, the holidaze, et al.  I finally made enough progress around the haus to dust off my sewing machine, but opted to create a much-needed historical costume.  (If you're scratching your head as to how/where/why a historical costume would be or could be considered much-needed, please understand that one of my hobbies is participating in the SCA.)

A lot of sweet...
In the coming year, it is my hope to use this forum to showcase some of the work and historical improvements we are planning for the haus.  I also hope to blog about some new Deco-dent adventures, clothing, cocktails, and fun.  And perhaps I'll sneak a post or three in about Declan/parenting.  I hope you'll stay with me and keep reading!

Until my next post, may your holidays be filled with love, laughter, and grand times with friends and family!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


It's been about two weeks since we closed escrow and, to be expected, we are in full-blown homeowner mode.  We've made the obligatory repeat trips to the hardware store.  We've discussed the merits of copper plumbing with others.  We've googled numerous DIY and "how to" pages on everything from dishwasher troubleshooting, to pocket-door repair.  Yeah.

It's been about two weeks since we closed escrow and we still have numerous boxes to sort through and unpack.  As we knew that our last place was only going to be transitionary (five years of transition, apparently), we stored several boxes of items that we figured we may want whenever we did get into a home.  So, here we are--with five years worth of a stored "stuff."

It's been about two weeks since we closed escrow and we've already purchased more furniture.  I've found myself doing daily searches on Craigslist for items that would be just right for our late Art Deco/early Mid-century home.  I could not pass up a beautiful secretary/cabinet.  Plus a friend was needing to offload an antique couch that is a great color for our green living room.  Now, if only I could figure out just how to arrange everything in there...

You're seeing a pattern, right?  (Any inexpensive project-organizing software suggestions?)

Some major advantages to rejoining the ranks of the house dwellers include establishing a regular laundry schedule.  (No more fighting for an open washer.)  I have also been thoroughly happy in my larger kitchen complete with deep vintage sinks that are great for hand-washing dishes.  (Yeah, remember the part where I mentioned dishwasher troubleshooting?  We're stuck hand-washing until we fix our dishwasher.)

Probably the best part of our new adventure is to see just how happy the baby is playing in his backyard.  I'm a firm believer that children should be able to scratch around in dirt, get grass stains, and enjoy plenty of fresh air.  Declan loves being outside.  I am definitely looking forward to when we get our victory garden going and he can dig and plant alongside mom and dad.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to wrap my head around all the little things around here that I can accomplish.  Goodness knows there is plenty to do!
Home Sweet Home

The secretary

I love this little detail in the kitchen.  Wooden valance?

We have a few archways like this one into the dining room.

Looking into the dining area from the living room.

Looking into the kitchen from the service porch.


Declan helps his dad with some yard work.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I think that I learn much more from my son than he does from me.

As I observe him walking through the park this morning, it is as though I am seeing everything for the first time again. The squirrels, the leaves, the grass. Endlessly fascinating.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

a photo may say a thousand words: here are mine

I already know that some people may actually be a touch offended by some of my thoughts on this subject.  I am aware that I'm being a touch judge-y when it isn't, at ALL, my place to do so.

When I see photos of online acquaintances in which they are significantly heavier than when I last saw them, I cannot help but feel sad, (and a touch curious.)  ME, feeling sad that people, like myself!, have gained weight.  It's dumb.  It's judgmental.  It's none of my goddamn business.  But I start to wonder, "what happened?"  "Did they injure themselves?"  "Are they dealing with depression?"  "Did they just let themselves go?"  Again--none of my business.

In the event that I'm not alone.  In the event that even some of MY online friends and acquaintances are thinking, "HA! Irony of ironies!  What the f*ck happened to you, lardass?" here is my situation.

I have never been skinny.  Never.  Not a day.  But I'm glad of that fact, honestly.  Skinny doesn't necessarily mean "healthy" or even "pretty" in my world.  It, in my world, means thin to the point of boney protrusions.  It does not mean "unhealthy" by default, but it could.

Oh, no.  I have always been a bit soft around the edges.  But not until adulthood did I get actually fat.  That never stopped anyone from calling me fat when I was younger, though.  I was often picked on as a child, always for things well out of my control such as my last name, my height, and their warped perceptions of reality.

As an aside, I can recall a time--when I was at one of my smallest points in my adult life, of course--when complete strangers, a car full of them, took the time to roll down their windows and insult me for my "big ass."  I was a size 9, and all that I had done was have the gaul to be out in public.  How dare I?!  Yeah.  Not so good times.  Not the first time to be put down by strangers for my appearance.  Neither the last.

Aside from genetics, I can easily blame the lousy eating habits I picked up as a child for my size.  When I was able to have my own household, I made a conscious effort to learn good food habits.  I recognized a connection between what I ate and my overall health.  I noticed that the many folks in my family struggling with weight issues were also, often, the ones who ate poorly.  I decided that I did not want to be one of those people.  I became a pescatarian, abstaining from eating any pork, beef, chicken, lamb, et cetera.  I did eat the occasional fish or seafood.  Within a month of changing my diet, I lost fifteen pounds.

I wavered a little bit at that weight for several years.  I'd gain a pound or two, lose a pound or two.  I had a physically demanding job.  I was in pretty good shape without needing to focus on eating a certain way (other than my eventual vegetarian diet), nor needing to worry about exercise.  But that all changed when my career drastically changed.  I went from standing and moving for hours on end to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day.  My clothes began to feel snug.  Favorite pants that had always been flattering were suddenly unsightly for the roll of skin that bulged over the waist.  And then I started to see photos of myself.  Particularly, candid photos.  Did I REALLY look like that?  Was I REALLY that big?  It was too much.  I started saving my pennies and I signed up for Weight Watchers.

For the first time in my life, I was putting serious limits on how much I could eat.  I did nothing else.  I didn't exercise, I just altered my eating.  Foods in my pantry started carrying the words "low fat," or "fat free."  Diet soda replaced regular.  Subway became my favorite "quick-fix" meal.  The pounds melted away.

I can still recall feeling confused, and even doubting the experiences of some of my fellow Weight Watchers.  They complained of occasional struggles.  Surely, they couldn't have been following the program as well as I was.  It was so easy!  I could still have a donut every Friday morning and lose weight.  I could still eat dessert from time to time.  The weight just kept coming off.

I did eventually hit a plateau about five pounds from my goal.  After a few weeks of struggling, my WW leader suggested that re-evaluate my goal.  I was currently in the healthy weight range for my age and height.  Did I really want to be any lighter?  Would I be able to be happy eating even fewer calories every day?  I decided that I was already starting to feel a touch deprived, and revised my goal.  After a few weeks of maintenance, I was labeled a Lifetime Member.

(Ironically, in the weeks following my decision to revise my goal, the pounds started to come off again.)

So there I was--a Lifetime Member.  I was CURED, right?  No longer fat.  No longer heavy.  I was getting crazy compliments on my looks, on my weight loss.  I was often asked questions like, "what's your secret?" "How did you do it?" Of course, most of the folks that asked the question, really didn't like my answer.  My "fix" wasn't quick enough, wasn't easy enough, took too much time and too much work.  Years later, I'd agree.

I remained a Lifetimer for a couple of years.  I moved, and stopped going to meetings, but I was otherwise doing an okay job of maintaining my weight.  Then I really mucked up the works--I changed careers again.

Going back to school meant that I was grabbing food on the go.  I stopped measuring portions.  I stopped counting points.  I started gaining weight.  It was a slow gain, but within a couple of years, I was back to my pre-Weight Watchers weight, only this time I convinced myself that I looked okay.  Sure, I was heavy, but I was a good-looking heavy!  And while I told myself this lie, I still felt awful.  I felt broken.  I felt like I blew it.

From time to time, I would eat a little better.  Or, I'd say, "the heck with eating right, I'll just exercise this time."  While I might lose a few pounds, the loss was never lasting.  Additionally, every medical physical I'd have showed me to be crazy healthy chemically.  No diabetes, not even a hint.  No cholesterol trouble.  No heart disease.  I started to think that maybe I was just meant to be fat.

When I had been pregnant with my daughter, I was terrified about gaining weight after she was born.  I'd witnessed a few women go from being fit, beautiful ladies into being heavy, dowdy moms.  By jove, I was NOT going to let that happen.  So I didn't.  While I did gain a significant amount of weight during pregnancy, I lost it all postpartum thanks to a vigorous job and a fair amount of exercise.

When I became pregnant with my son, I knew that I was already starting off heavy.  As such, I kept tabs on my weight gain.  I knew that I needed to gain weight to have a healthy pregnancy, but I also was not about to go crazy-go-nuts and eat everything save New Jersey.  At each prenatal visit, my gains were right on track.  I gained exactly what I should have gained--even less than what I had gained when pregnant with my daughter!  I knew that the difference of 17+ years would affect my postpartum weight loss, but I was already feeling great knowing that I'd have less to lose to get back to pre-pregnancy weight.

Alas, it didn't quite work out that way.  I was on track for getting back into pre-pregnancy shape when I was hit with a devastating betrayal of trust.  The stress of that situation brought my weight loss to a halt, and brought with in a weight gain.  I was in agony.  I was trying SO. HARD. to lose weight, but was seeing the numbers go up and not down.  Soon I was recognizing that I didn't have all the answered.  Sure, I'd lost weight before.  Of course, I should know what to do to do it again.  But it wasn't working.  I decided that I needed help and I returned to Weight Watchers.

I've since learned why those other members in other meetings struggled, and it wasn't because they weren't on plan.  I've since learned that getting older means working harder for smaller gains.  I've since learned that I can do it--I AM doing it--and that I really do need the meetings.  I've also learned that the answer isn't replacing my pantry with "fat free" items or diet anything.  I've learned that I need to eat REAL food, like Michael Pollan says: not too much, and mostly plants.  I've also learned that I'm much better when I exercise.

While I've lost over twenty pounds, I'm still heavy now.  There may be some folks who, upon seeing recent photos of me, are thinking, "Damn, she's big.  She was so fit a few years ago."  Well, they're right.  But I also know that I'm working towards a real, and lasting change.  I know that I'm a product--a reflection--of all the struggles and stress I've had the last few years.

I write this because it helps ME to recognize that those folks who, like me, are heavier today than they were weeks/months/years ago are also a product of their travails.  And who am I to judge them?!  So, while I may feel sad, I need to recognize that they might not.  They, too, might be working towards a goal.  They, too, might be proud of their efforts.  And they, too, just might be heavy now--but have still done so much good for themselves.  Who am I to judge?

Do you struggle with image issues?

a product of my surroundings

There are times when the blank box for composing a blog entry is so intimidating.  Right now is one of those times.  While I do have a lot on my mind, my brain feels so cluttered and unorganized.  It must be the influence of my surroundings.

Almost everywhere I look I can see boxes.  Fully boxes, empty boxes, in-between boxes.  Worse would be the places where there are no boxes, for there is still so much left to pack.  The kitchen is largely untouched.  Not a thing from the bathroom has been packed.  It is certainly daunting.  We still seem to have so much left to do.  I should be thankful that our closing date was pushed back.

Yes, we are not closing this week rather next week.  One week from today, supposedly.  I am so looking forward to more space, a back yard, and a life not surrounded by much of my personal items boxed and stacked.

I am trying to take advantage of this time by purging items that are no longer needed.  We've made numerous trips already to donation centers in our area, but there is still more that could go.  I have at least five different ways to curl my hair; hot rollers, rag rollers, velcro rollers, hot sticks, curling irons (numerous).  I think it's time I downsize.  I have so many pairs of black heels I could shod a troupe of ladies.  I have three FULL boxes of vintage hats.  I think that it's time to let go.

My disjointed thoughts are washing over me again and I'm not sure what else should be said.  Perhaps it's best that I close this confusing, rambling entry and get back to work (as much as I can work with the very active toddler at my heels)...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Amongst a stack of cardboard

Moving is exciting. The promise of a new start, a new place! Particularly when the move--like in our case--is a move upwards. A better neighborhood, more room, more privacy! It's thrilling!

But I'll tell you, packing is for the birds. I loathe this part. We've packed over a half dozen boxes of books and still do not have an empty bookcase.

I have packed THREE boxes of tea cups. Three. That does not include the box of cups that I never unpacked from the last move.

My roll-top desk has already filled another box with books. The desk is still quite full.

We haven't packed anything from the kitchen yet, but we did collect two full bags of kitchen stuff to donate. That accompanied three or four bags of items from my daughter's room.

Our apartment is a disaster of boxes, newspaper, toys, laundry. It's a mess. I just keep telling myself, only a week or so more.

What do you hate about moving? What do you love?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Club 33

To celebrate the anniversary of my 29th birthday, my husband worked a small miracle.  With the help of a friend of ours, he made reservations for us to dine at Club 33.

My birthday is in August.  So if you're wondering why I am posting this in October, it's because October was when they were able to secure a reservation.  As I had waited for years to experience Club 33, waiting a few months to have a birthday dinner seemed like nothing.  But I digress.

All that I knew beforehand was that my fella had made arrangements for something special.  He asked that I dress nicely, and told me not to worry.  (He knows that I am not a big fan of surprises.)  We then met up with our friend, David, at the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim.

The plan was to meet David for cocktails at the bar in the Grand Californian.  David was to mention that he had reservations for us at the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland.  As we stood in line for the restaurant, the boys were then going to spring the surprise on me about Club 33.  It was a great plan.  Alas, it did not turn out that way.

When we pulled into the valet for the hotel, my husband produced a note that basically said: "This is a surprise for my lady.  We have reservations at Club 33.  Please do not say anything about our destination.  Thanks."

The first employee quietly read the details, and simply directed Brian to the front of the hotel.  The second employee, however, skimmed the note and asked Brian--multiple times--about our reservations at Club 33.

When my fella turned to me after the cat was freed from the proverbial bag, I could tell he was very disappointed.  His awesome planned ruined.  But I was certainly giddy at the news and could not help but be excited.  And otherwise, the evening ran smoothly.

We started with cocktails in the Grand Californian's Hearthstone bar.  They offered an excellent rye whiskey Manhattan cocktail with three Luxardo cherries!  The atmosphere at the hotel and bar was lovely, and we enjoyed catching up with David and hearing about his recent vacation.  (Oh, how I now long to go to Europe!)

Grand Californian

It was a good thing we plied ourselves with drink, because getting through the park on a Saturday night is always something of an ordeal.  We managed to time it just as folks were gathering for one of the park's many productions.  This one in New Orleans Square.

Main Street was CROWDED

When we finally arrived at the mysterious club door, we were greeted by a throng of children.  One of the adults with the kids mentioned that the club's lobby was full and that we, like them, would have to wait outside.  It's here that I must trail off for a touch, do forgive me:  But who can afford to take along six to eight children all about the age of nine to an $80/person minimum dining establishment?!  Wow, could they adopt me?!

The worst photo ever of the 33

Wait we did, though Brian did push the discrete button to summon the club's greeter to confirm our reservation.

Once inside, we were treated to some Club 33 trivia.  Such as the name of the club was in reference to its address, 33 Royal Street.  When it was our turn to ascend to the restaurant, Brian and I chose to go by their lift.

The lobby and lift

A quick self-portrait

Our photographer and friend can be seen in the reflection

Our host had made a joke about making inappropriate faces in photos, here I asked for him most inappropriate.  He could only laugh in response.

Once upstairs, we were shown to our table.  We were seated in a corner, just off the balcony.  In fact, I was able to stroll along the balcony for a bit, and even caught some of the show that folks had been queueing up for earlier.

Geez, I look maniacal!

We began dinner with another round of cocktails, this time I chose a Sidecar.  (Confession time, I thought the Hearthstone Manhattan was better.)  We each ordered appetizers, David and I choosing the soup--an incredible corn chowder, and Brian opting for a salad, a bright and fresh salad with butter lettuce and mint.

Roasted corn chowder

Brian's salad

For dinner, David had the duck breast while Brian and I had the vegetable tartine.  We also enjoyed a bottle of wine from Steinbeck Winery with dinner.  Dinner was outstanding.  Between the wonderful company and the terrific food (and the flowing wine), I was swept up in the moment.

Vegetable Tartine

Am I already under the table?@!

David insisted that we order dessert, it was to celebrate my birthday after all.  I chose to go with the waiter's recommendation and had their chocolate and peanut butter offering.  David had the cheesecake.  Brian decided to try a bit of each.  The dessert was lovely, the peanut butter ice cream being the real stand-out.


After dinner, we strolled back to our cars.  Too many early evenings, plus all the wonderful food in my belly made me sleepy.  Oh, how I would have loved to have stayed later, but then the boys would've had to have carried me to the car.

Note the microphone in the center of the chandelier, it was to allow the kitchen to know when conversation had died down and plates were ready for clearing

The evening was certainly one filled with great memories.  I am so blessed to have such fantastic people in my life.

Aw, do we HAVE to leave?!

Oh, I have to mention that the ladies room at Club 33 was worth seeing.  It isn't some architectural wonder or anything, but the toilets look like wicker dining chairs.  Yeah, I guess I'm odd to mention that.

Nap time miracle?

Prepare to be shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU!

Declan is asleep.  By himself.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

If you're currently scratching your head and wondering, "duh, babies sleep all the time, and there isn't enough room in a crib for anyone else," I have to catch you up to our reality.

A sleeping Declan, a wonderful sight
For a start, Declan does not have a crib.  He sleeps in a bed.  My bed to be precise.  (Well, our bed when you include my fella.)  We co-sleep.  While it may not be the best plan for everyone, it is certainly the best solution for us.  It has allowed us to get much more sleep as a whole.  And, I confess, it's a heck of a lot easier for me to just roll over to nurse him back to sleep than it would be to get out of bed, go to another room,  pull him out of bed, nurse him, and hope I can put him back in his crib without him waking again.  So, yes, laziness is definitely a factor.

Back to Declan napping, though...

Declan is not an easy guy to coax into sleeping.  He fights it, be it bedtime or nap.  Trying to get this boy to nap is a chore.  (Well, unless you're my daughter who must have some magic juju or something. Declan is asleep within fifteen minutes.  It's amazing.)  I'll save from the laborious details of what it sometimes takes to get this kid to nap.  But trust me, it's work.

Yet today, not so much.  Sure, my back is still aching from bouncing on a yoga ball for a good half-hour, but believe or not that's nothing!

Maybe he is finally getting used to the idea that he needs to nap?  Maybe letting him play quietly in his playpen before nap time is helping?  Maybe this is the only day we'll have such luck?

Whatever the answer, I'm just glad that it's happening now.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

real estate karma?

So, that dream house? The one that didn't sell while we were going through credit rehab? The one that I wanted so much? The one whose agent led us to believe that they really wanted our offer? The one that then--miraculously--received other offers? The one that couldn't even be bothered to counter offer us and took a different offer instead?

Yeah--that one.

It's back on the market. The offer that they thought was better than ours must've fallen through. SCHADENFREUDE!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It worked!

Thanks, everyone, for the crossed fingers/lit candles/good joojoo.  We are over the snag, it would seem.

Our realtor, bless her, had the idea of drafting a cover letter for our next repair request in which she would outline all the things that we could be asking for, but were not.  When we made our offer on the home, we assumed that the house included a functioning dishwasher (it's broken), a functioning disposal (also broken), a standard electrical panel (it's waaay substandard) just to name a few.  We were asking that a few, relatively inexpensive repairs be made.  You know, like moving the disposal switch to somewhere that a toddler couldn't turn it on while mom's hands were in the sink.  That sort of thing.  And they were balking.

Last night, our agent emailed over a beginning draft of the letter.  It was brilliant.  Basically it laid out the fact that we want the house, but we want it to be a safe home.  It said that we understood that the sellers want to minimize their expenses.  It asked that we work together to find a happy medium.  Additionally, it laid out the information that I mentioned above--that we were basically duped about a few things about the home when we agreed upon a price.

Well, apparently when our realtor went to the save the draft, she hit the wrong button.  She sent it instead.  Oops!

But this actually turned out to be a good thing!  Their agent called her today to say that they would DOUBLE the amount of money that they had originally offered toward repairs.  SWEET!

Additionally, we've learned that our loan has been sent to the underwriters.  AND our appraisal came back and it looks good--only a handful of teensy things to be done to pass FHA.  PHEW!

I am so relieved!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Escrow stress

Well, we may have hit a snag. Not that such a thing is unusual for escrow.

Like any smart buyer, we paid out of pocket for a comprehensive home inspection. During the inspection, a number of items were called out as potential hazards. Again, nothing unusual for escrow.

We requested some, but not all, of the safety repairs after we had an electrician come out and estimate the cost of such repairs. In addition, we asked to see a termite report on the property. When our agent noticed that the report failed to call out an area of the property that had suffered some water damage, and therefore possible termite damage, the seller's agent told the termite inspection to disregard the information regarding the water damage. He, the selling agent, even went so far as to tell the termite inspector not to revise the report. In so doing, the selling agent was suggesting FHA fraud. Our agent pointed that out to him and he has since agreed to have the termite report updated.

But that isn't the snag. Well, not all of all it, at least.

The sellers have countered our repair request with some of the most ambiguous language possible. We suspect that this, too, is the work of their agent.

We have decided that the best course of action at this point is to send a cover letter asking for specific language, pointing out our insistence that the property be verified as safe and that necessary repairs either be made, or that money be returned to us. Our agent is going to point out his failure to disclose required information in the MLS for the property, too. In short, we are letting the agent know that we will not be so eager as to ignore the problems with the house.

Both our agent and myself do believe that the sellers are amenable and fair. But we also suspect that as their agent sold them the house, he may be attempting to cover the fact that he had sold them a house that was less safe than they thought.

I do not want to lose this house, but I also do NOT want to pay top dollar for an unsafe property that needs repairs and upgrades. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that their agent will get his act together, that the sellers will agree to our requests (or something similar), and that we will get back on track.

Cross your fingers for us, too, okay?

you know, like you do.

I just found a stash of crumbs in my bra.  I guess Declan was saving that for later.

Ah, motherhood...

Just another day

I am quite grateful that it is only 73 degrees in beautiful Long Beach today. Particularly because I am sitting in my parked car allowing Declan to get as much shut-eye as possible.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a bit of mitosis

I decided that it would be best to focus this blog on my day-to-day life as it pertains to housekeeping, parenting, and the like--particularly as those subjects relate to my attempts to live with an eye toward the deco period.

I also decided that I would therefore want a dedicated blog to my SCA hobbies.  I have created one that you're welcome to follow.

so much to do

Let's talk about timing, shall we?

Apparently mine is atrocious.  Did I mention that I managed to put a bid on a dreamy home exactly when they finally received other offers, thus choosing another offer than mine?  Yeah, I think that I did.

Well, as I've also mentioned, we are in escrow.  Naturally, this would be happening also when we were getting ready for our annual family camping trip.  This past Tuesday, I had to meet the home inspector at our prospective home, pack for camping, fill out escrow paperwork, et cetera.  Wednesday, we left for our trip after a mad, last minute packing frenzy.  Our trusted realtor made arrangements to meet with another inspector that evening and text us with an update as my fella was busy readying our campsite.  Thursday through Sunday, we camped.  We did our best to relax and enjoy the trip, but for me at least there was that nagging sensation that we could missing something important back at home.

Well, I'm home now.  Dirty, tired, a touch dehydrated.  I'm trying to relax a bit as I know that come tomorrow, it's back into the fray of paperwork, phone calls, housework, volunteering, dog/kid wrangling, and so forth.  Phew!!  Thankfully, it should all be worth it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Escrow checklist

As of yesterday, we have been in escrow for one full week. And what a week it has been! Disclosures, checks, phone calls, emails... We have been busy!

Escrow checklist:

Open escrow account--CHECK
Sign seller disclosure paperwork--CHECK
Sign additional "required by law" paperwork--CHECK
Schedule inspections(s)--CHECK (they're today, actually)
Set up homeowner's insurance--CHECK
Provide underwriters with copy of escrow check--CHECK
Receive perplexing requests for documentation--CHECK
Comply with said request--IN PROCESS
Inspect property--SCHEDULED FOR TODAY
Appraise property--NEEDS FOLLOW UP

In addition to all the fun of escrow, we have our annual family camping trip this week. (Boy, are we awesomely bad at timing or what?!)

Between packing for camping and packing for moving we have managed to box up as little as possible. Whoops.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hands are so full

Can I again bemoan how a baby/toddler/child is able to entirely derail a hausfrau's plans? Yes, I think that I can.

In a few days, it will be time to pack our cars from floor to roof-rack and head out for our annual family camping trip, aka Great Western War. Yet have I even managed to stitch one new piece of clothing? Not so much as a t-tunic!

Additionally, I've been fortunate to have attended two wonderful events--the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival, a wonderful public event; and a lovely afternoon tea with two swell ladies, a relaxing private affair. And have I been able to blog about either? Heavens, no. As I neglected to photograph much of either, there isn't much point except to say that both were divine.

In short I think it safe to say that I have yet to get this whole Mom-of-a-Wee-One down again. With my daughter, I felt as though I was able to settle into a routine rather quickly and easily. But I can confess that my daughter was a far easier baby, and even toddler, than my son has been.

I do hope that you, one of only a small handful of folk who take time to peek at this journal, forgive the feast or famine nature of my blogging. I can hope that as my darling high-needs boys ages, my life will again be able to settle into something resembling normalcy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Potentially grand news for the HAUSfrau

I'm a touch gobsmacked. We are officially in escrow! How the heck did that happen?!

Well, it all began about four months ago. Like a few apartment dwellers that I know, I like to browse real estate sites and daydream. During one such visit, I learned that a historic home that I'd been oogling over was on the market. Better still, it was cheap!

On a whim, I asked my fella to fill out an online pre-qualification form and lo! he pre-qual'd! A phone call later, I'd scheduled an appointment with a realtor to view the house. I couldn't believe it--we were actively shopping for a home!!

Alas, that property didn't meet our standards. Too many hasty modernizations. No garage. No parking. But we continued to look. Soon, I found the *perfect* house. Gorgeously restored craftsman bungalow. Well, almost perfect. It was pricier than we hoped, was immediately next to an apartment building, and in an "eh" neighborhood. Still--I wanted it. So, we started to out in an offer.

But then I had to go and screw everything up with a stupid credit mistake. We were out of pre-qual as quickly as we'd started.

Hope was not lost, though. The loan folks told us what to do to get back into qualification. It would take three months of rehab. During which, I just knew "my" craftsman would sell.

But it didn't. In fact, it even got cheaper. Giddy after two and a half months of rehab, I called my realtor. She phoned the seller's agent to let them know we were still interested and almost ready. Their agent was excited. Told us she couldn't wait for our offer. They'd received no offers

Two weeks passed, we eager submit our offer. And hear nothing. Day three post-offer arrives and we hear that--coincidentally, they've received other offers. One of which they decide to take over ours. They wouldn't even counter-offer us. I was crestfallen. I lost my house.

That was about a week and a half ago. Since then, we've looked at other properties and put in at least four different offers. Well, one stuck. It's on a darling post-war home in the Wrigley neighborhood of Long Beach. A picturesque neighborhood with ample parking, gorgeous trees, and many nearby conveniences. The home itself has original countertop tile in the kitchen, original tile around the bathtub--which is also original. Hardwood floors, coved ceilings, a gorgeous back patio and a fruiting avocado tree! Just to mention a few of the lovely details.

We submitted an offer yesterday, and by last night we learned that they chose ours over three others. I'm nearly in shock!

Granted, escrow can fail. There are still many factors that must line up just so, but I'm still giddy. Who knows? This ol' hausfrau could have her own historic haus by 2013!

Yes, we are still looking--just in case. I have my eye another home, but it's a long-shot. Needs work (so we'd have to qualify for a specific FHA loan), is a short sale, and a touch pricey. But it's worth a try!

Photo is of the house we're in escrow for. Isn't it darling?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A few minutes of my day...

I chopped up some strawberries and put them into a small bowl. Declan comes over, gingerly takes the bowl from me, sets it down and sits near it. He proceeds to reposition the bowl until it's just right and then sets about devouring the contents.

Friday, August 24, 2012

quietly, peacefully raising awareness

Yesterday morning I read about a breastfeeding mom who alleges that her manager refused her access to a private space in which to express milk.  There were a few news reports about the situation.  In each, the accused location failed or refused to comment.

This morning, I learned that some local mothers were going to gather peacefully at the location today to show support for breastfeeding mothers.  Despite having a pile of fabric still left to sew, I went to show some solidarity.

At 2:00pm this afternoon, I was joined by about six or seven other mothers and their children.  One mom brought along a friend, and member of Seal Beach's Chamber of Commerce, as well.  A newsman showed up and asked to film us--we agreed.

Towards the end of our gathering, a woman pushing a double stroller approached us and expressed her disappointment at seeing our group "protesting" one of her "favorite restaurants."  We explained that we were NOT a protest, only a peaceful gathering in support of breastfeeding awareness.  We told her that the allegation against her favorite tavern was disappointing, but that we hoped we could raise awareness about the legal protections for lactating moms.

Her reaction shocked and disappointed me.  She accused us of trying to drum up bad press about the business, admonished us for only accepting one side of the story, and attempted to shame us for our actions.  I tried to explain that we only had one side to go one as the business had denied comment, tried to point out that we were not blocking access to the restaurant, were not stopping the general public to rail against the business, and had only gathered to raise awareness about breastfeeding law.  Several of us even said that we suspected this was a case of an unaware employee (the manager) acting against corporate policy.

She either didn't listen, or didn't care.

Her arrival was just as the newsman was wrapping up, but he asked to speak with her, too.  Good reporting, I thought, as it is great to show multiple sides to an issue.  But I could not hear what she had to say and I dread the thought of what she had to say.  As I DID hear her repeatedly defend the manager and put down the waitress.

The woman could be right, of course.  The breastfeeding employee could have made up or exaggerated the situation, but to watch this other woman immediately tear down the waitress, I was gobsmacked.  But I suppose that I was not surprised.  Too often I see or hear of mothers not only failing to support one another, but even going so far as to put down other moms for making choices counter to the choices that they made.

When are we going to stop trying to tear one another apart as moms?  When are we going to treat one another with peace and love as our guide instead of jealousy and anger?  Whenever it is, it cannot come soon enough.

In about a half hour, the news piece is set to air.  I have no way of being able to watch it, but I may try to find it later.  Part of me is worried, afraid that with some creative editing the new will be able to show the peaceful gathering in support of a mom as a group of misguided, reactionary moms protesting a business.

Our detractor had a couple of other ladies with her.  All of them tried to shame us for bringing "bad PR" to the business.  Try as I might to explain to them that this could, in fact, bring the business a lot of free, great PR, they ignored me.  But I would like to express that this could actually be a boon for this business.  I'm not suggesting that other business mistreat their employees in the hopes of rectifying everything and appearing the good guy later.  But when a similar situation happened at LACMA, they were able to illustrated that while they'd failed to adequately train all their employees on their breastfeeding policies, they were willing to retrain and they even went so far as to HOST a family-friendly gathering in support of breastfeeding later.

What's the take away from this post?  I really don't know.  I confess that I am typing this up somewhat hastily and much of what I've written has not been edited.  But I wanted to document this.  And I hope that folks will read it and, perhaps, realize that it's time we support moms when and how we can.

Friday, August 3, 2012

open letter to another mom

Dear fellow mom,
I see that you have two children.  We have that in common, though my oldest was not with me today.  Just as our two kids are different from their siblings, I can assure you that my son is different from your two.  
I am sorry that my son’s crying bothered you.  But that’s what he does sometimes, he cries.  Not for milk.  Not for food.  He just cries.  Usually it is because he is in pain.  Today, that pain was teething.  Pain combined with a new environment, a lot of people, and a touch too much stimulation.  So, he did the only thing he knew at that moment to do--he cried.  
Perhaps you were too busy with your children to notice, but I tried a few different strategies to soothe him.  Sometimes when he cries, he wants to nurse but he will defiantly pull away until he realizes that he can nurse.  Sometimes, he wants to be put on the ground so he can move on his own.  I tried both, to no avail.  At times he will be so frustrated or in pain that he forgets to use his ASL.  He may want to eat, but cannot sign it.  So, I offered him food.  I even offered him a toy and some water.  He did not want any of those things.
At one point, I stood and moved around the room--even out of the room--to see if he’d calm down.  He did not.  So I returned to my seat near you to just hold him, talk to him calmly, and let him wind down on his own.
When you suggested that I “take him outside,” I was too polite then to tell you how I really felt.  I told you that my son is delightfully willful, but I would have loved to have told you that sometimes kids cry and there just is no magic wand that will stop them.  Sometimes, the best thing that a mom can do is just to be there, to let them know that mom or dad is there.  Sometimes, they just need to cry and all that we can do is hold them, talk softly to them, and let them fuss.
I can understand to a degree why his crying might have bothered you.  See, my daughter never cried like that.  She was a very easy baby, and a pretty mellow toddler.  But my son is very different.  Prior to him, I probably would have felt tempted to do what you did upon seeing a mom and child like us.  I would have wanted to make suggestions on how to get the kid to be quiet.  But I would have kept my mouth shut and silently felt sympathy for the mom.
Tell you what, I’ll tell you what you should have done and what you can do in future.  When you see a mom struggling with an upset child.  Tell her that you feel for her, and you’re proud of her for not melting into sobs, too.  Tell her that you’re glad that she is managing to keep it together, even though it is tremendously stressful.  Tell her that you’re happy to see a mom who doesn’t just smack her kid when s/he is being loud/crying/being defiant.  In other words, show some support and encouragement instead of criticism.  
By the way, you probably failed to notice that as I sat with him, held him, and talked to him, he eventually calmed down.  Alas, he continued to cry a bit, but he did wind down.  And because I calmly continued to be there, to hold him, respond to him, and talk to him, he learned that I will be there for him, even when times are tough.
Oh, and he did continue to cry a touch even after we were outside.  So much for your theory.
We’re home now, and he back to being a happy chap.  He tends to be happier in familiar places.  He’s chewing on his fingers occasionally, so I know that his teeth are still bothering him, but he is managing well.  Probably in part because he is learning that  his parents love him and accept him as he is, in any given moment, crying or no.
A mom to a high-needs child
My sweet, but high-needs boy with his loving dad

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Humility check

I got all dolled up today in a day dress I like. (It's nice to be able to shop in my own closet again.) But I'm not so glamorous now. The baby fell asleep as I was nursing him on the floor. I'm trapped beneath him.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rat Pack Weekend & Birthday Extravaganza

I confess.  Up until this past weekend, the only time I'd ever spent in Las Vegas, Nevada was a layover in the airport.  As I'm not a big oontz-oontz club-goer, nor do I gamble, there was really no huge desire to go to Sin City.  At least, not conventionally.

Years ago, some friends of mine and I had discussed the idea of going to Las Vegas for a Rat Pack-styled weekend.  Now THAT sounded interesting.  So when the idea was resurrected to celebrate the milestone birthdays of four fabulous fellas--I was giddy about going.

This past weekend was our Rat Pack Birthday Extravaganza and it was a royal hoot.  Major props and tremendous thanks go to Kerri "the enabler" Morin for producing the affair.  She scouted the locations and picked the times and places for our meet-ups throughout Vegas.  Our weekend would not have been nearly so much fun without her hard work.

Kerri & Carol Ann at Oscar's
Friday night we meet up at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel at Oscar's Bar for cocktails.  Oscar's tagline is Beef * Booze * Broads.  While I was there to only sample one of their offerings, I couldn't help by giggle.  And they did a great job on that count, too.  Oscar's made a tasty, well-balanced Sidecar.  The mixologists even gave the Monkey Gland cocktail a try and did a decent job.

My Brian at Oscar's

Afterwards, we wandered Freemont Street and settled in at the Gold Nugget's aquarium bar for more chatting and one more round.  The aquarium was gorgeous, but the Sidecars were just a little too sweet.

Gold Nugget
Jeff & Brian S.
Yours truly, Cat & Theresa
In hindsight, I wish that I had scheduled more of our free time at Freemont Street.  It was the classic Vegas "strip" back in the day.  It had just the right mix of tacky, naughty, and suave.

The birthday celebrations began at 3:00pm on Saturday at a Casa Fuente, a cigar bar in the Forum Shops.  Here we all raised a glass to celebrate Jeff's birthday.  I enjoyed a Jimi Hendricks cocktail.  Hendricks gin, Lillet Blanc, simple syrup and white grape garnish.  Though a touch too sweet, it was one of the better cocktails of the evening.

Casa Fuente

Jeff and his "minion" cap
Theresa, Kristina, Kerri

While I abstained from purchasing a cigar, those who did enjoyed them.  I, instead, stuck to smoking my ladies vintage pipe.  It's a gorgeous red bakelite pipe with a corncob bowl.  It has a darling rhinestone embellishment on the stem.  Perfect accessory for my cherry dress.

Smoking section
At 5:30pm we all convened at Vesper in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  I was very much looking forward to this bar as their menu features classic cocktails and the bar's own interpretations of those cocktails.  Alas, the drinks and the service were a disappointment.  My Corpse Reviver #2 was only okay (and I had to ask for the classic stemless cherry garnish).  Other cocktails were barely drinkable, and the service was painfully, unnecessarily slow for a mostly-empty bar with five mixologists.  Thankfully we didn't let the bar dampen our celebrations of Brent's birthday too much.  Brent's cheerful, goofy attitude was infectious and we laughed--a LOT--as we continued our celebration.

Brent goofs off
After Vesper, we were free for dinner and a change of clothing.  (It was at this time that I left my camera back at our room.  Thank goodness others had cameras!)  We met up at 8:30 at the steakhouse Smith & Wollensky to celebrate Brian S's big day.  Brian's father had called ahead and reserved a private room for our party, which was probably for the best as we all continued to be boisterous.

The food and deserts were amazing, but the drinks were unfortunate.  My Sidecar was made without fresh lemon juice and their Negroni featured a very strong dry vermouth taste that was off-putting.  Clearly this was a place for wine, not cocktails, so I enjoyed a lovely muscato with my creme brule.  It was a perfect combination.

While here, Mark and Cara used their Polaroid 100 Land camera to take portraits of us all.  Ironically, I had picked up a Polaroid 100 weeks ago, too.  Great minds and all that.  But Mark and Cara were smart enough to pick up a flash kit with the camera, which I did not.  All attempted photos taken indoors with my camera were just too dark.

Brent & Kristina
Carol Ann & Kerri
Cara & Mark
Cat & Jeff
Yours truly & Brian M.
Theresa & Brian S.
The boys
After Smith & Wollensky, we were off to finish off the birthday celebrations by raising a pint to my dapper fella, Brian M.  Where else to toast an Irishman for his birthday?  Why, Nine Fine Irishmen in New York, New York, of course!

Scrunchy face and the birthday boy

Never forget your towel!
With the birthday celebrations finished, we wandered the Strip for a brief moment before deciding that it was time to call it a night.  My Brian, Cat, Jeff and I followed Theresa and Brian back to their hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, for a night cap in their bar.  A gorgeous view, a great Negroni and a quiet end to the night.  Perfect.

The following day we decided to be lazy and lounge around our room (and enjoy the jacuzzi) before it was time to head back home.  It was a great way to top off the weekend.

My daughter's favorite thing from the weekend: jacuzzi tub

A few final observations:

  • When dressed in Rat Pack era finery, expect to be gawked at and commented to all weekend.  Most comments will be complimentary, but you will get the occasional weird one.  Weirdest one of the weekend: being called Mary Poppins.  ???
  • Drinks on the Strip are not nearly as strong as drinks on Freemont Street.  That said, while I drank a LOT, I was never more than buzzed.  
  • Evil Dead: the Musical, in 4D--oh, if only I had known and been able to schedule time to see it.
  • The idea of a 40 foot tall stripper is much more interesting than the actual thing.
  • Alas, I only saw one working girl while in Vegas--but, boy howdy! was she a sight.  Bolted on boobs, inflated lips, bleach blonde hair, and a feather boa!  Oh, and she thought we all looked great, too.
HUGE THANKS to Kristina Gundersen-Rudmann and Cara Zitny for additional photos!!


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