Monday, March 27, 2006


Well, we're here. We've moved. We're in the new house. Wanna hear about the nightmarish moving weekend I had? No? Well, too bad - I'm going to tell the story anyway.

First, Mr. Chick and I talk and pretty much decide we're going to move to Central Oregon. Big, big, decision. Huge. Massive. I'm already maxed out and this puts me into overload. I'm literally shaking, physically shaking, just thinking about getting ready for this move and looking ahead to the next. I was a mess. THEN, U-Haul calls me. I'm thinking it's to confirm my reservation for the big-ass truck the next day. Silly me. They're calling me to tell me that my truck, the one I reserved 2+ weeks prior, is not local. It's in a town 60 miles away. And they're not going to bring it to my town. They're telling me they're willing to knock $50 off the price because of the inconvenience of making US drive 2 hours to get the damn truck. I 'bout lost it right there. Do you really think that I'm able to take that kind of time, not to mention gas, the day before the move, or the morning of, to get a damn truck? You must be crazy. That's what I told them. I was on the verge of short-circuiting when my neighbor knocked on my door offering pizza for lunch and I blurted out to her what U-Haul just did to us. How they fucked us. She immediately grabbed my phone and started calling other truck rental places for me because it must have been obvious I was in no condition for rational thought right then. She found a truck through Penske, but it was going to cost us $150 more. Fine. I'd rather pay more to Penske than give U-Haul my business under those conditions. Helpful Neighbor leaves, more packing ensues. I'm having horrible, bitter thoughts about the FUCKING U-HAUL LOSERS, which doesn't help my fragile emotional state. Let this be a warning to all future movers.

And then I run out of boxes. Total and complete nightmare. I had forgotten that my sister had borrowed a bunch of boxes 15 mos ago for her move and never brought them back. Oops. So now it's dinnertime, my father-in-law is due any minute, and we still have a shitload of packing to do and NO MORE BOXES. My brain was fried. We went out to dinner to re-group.

After dinner a friend and his 5 yr old son arrive. They round out our loading crew. Nicholas and this kid Noah are super-amped up to have a sleep-over together and end up staying up until MIDNIGHT just giggling and squealing in Nicholas's room. I'm in desperate need of rest and can't believe my 4.5 yr old is able to stay awake until midnight. They finally crash and so do I. But only for about 5.5 hrs, and then I'm awake. Wide awake. I can't shut my brain off. Another exhausted day, and it hasn't even started yet.

The guys go get a healthy breakfast of donuts and Starbucks, and check with the grocery store for more boxes. Jackpot. The store had been saving u a bunch of boxes for a "pretty young girl who is moving". That was actually written on a few of the boxes - no joke. But they gave them to Mr. Chick anyway (mistaking him for a pretty young girl? I hope not.). It was *just* enough. I feel bad for the real "pretty young girl" who was also in need of those boxes, but not bad enough to return them. Sorry.

The truck arrives just in time for a utter rainstorm. We're loading the truck and every available car in a downpour. It felt like an omen. It took about 4 hours to get everything on the truck and ready to go. The house is a wreck - I'm scared to go back (which I'm doing tomrrow *shudder*).

The 2 hr drive to the new house was lovely. Blue skies, smooth traffic. Sleeping kids.

We pull up to the house and the sky cracks open again and the rain starts even harder than before. Now I'm convinced it's an omen. Friends arrive to help unload, which goes faster than loading, but probably only because the guys were more interested in just getting stuff IN rather than IN PLACE. Big difference. The garage is now a scary-ass, downright dangerous maze of crap. My living room, for which we have no furniture yet (it's been stored in my sisters basement) was another universal dumping ground. By 7pm I had the kids rooms set up with the beds and dressers. Sheets, blankets and pillows in place. Then we went and grabbed some dinner.

The next day (Sunday) Mr. Chick had to drive the truck back. It was worth the money to drive it back vs. do a one-way move. Plus, he needed to pick up his car which had been left behind. So he drove to our old house, loaded up his car on the car trailer, and took the truck back. He then just had to unload his car and he was all set. He spent about 3 hrs at the house wading through the mess we'd left. He made another run to Goodwill, and collected 3-4 more bags of just garbage. He consolidated stuff that was left to make it easier for me when I go back tomorrow. He even did some cleaning (vacuuming, mostly). Thank God for Mr. Chick! I might survive tomorrow because of his efforts.

While he was down there doing that, I was at home with the kids in the House Of Boxes. With no means of communication. No phone, no computer. And I'm not fluent in smoke-signals or I might have tried. I'm only able to post this because Mr. Chick left me his laptop today and a kind neighbor has an unsecured wireless network. I got the kitchen put together. No small feat. It helps that I'm not unpacking everything and just trying to get by on as little as possible. I don't want to have to pack everything again in a few weeks. No platters, no bakeware. A few coffee mugs and glasses. No wine glasses. So now I can function in the kitchen and have even gone to the grocery store. But I'm left with a bunch of boxes that I can break down because there is still stuff packed in them, and even if I COULD break them down, there is nowhere for them to go in the garage. It's full of stuff already. I got the family room in shape (I LOVE having our beautiful area rugs back!!), and the dining room. I'm not putting the china hutch together, so there are more boxes in the dining room. the living room is still a big fat mess, but I'm addressing it slowly but surely. I'm not unpacking the linens, either. They're in boxes and will stay there. I just pulled out some towels that we'll need and that's it. I'm not letting the kids unpack their books, telling them we'll just go and check some out from the library. I've been making up bedtime stories for them in lieu of reading books to them. My bed is in place, but I wasn't able to put the bed frame together myself so it's just the boxspring and mattress on the floor with the disassembled bed frame next to it. Our closet is full, but only because we don't pack clothes and instead just stack them, hangers and all, in the backs of cars. My shoes are still in a garbage bag. Yes, I was reduced to packing shit in garbage bags. What else could I do without enough boxes??

Despite the nightmare we've endured with this move, it feels really good to be here. Too good. So good it's hard for me to think about leaving. I've met some neighbors and they're great! The next-door neighbor with 7 kids is really nice and brought us dinner last night (salmon, baked potato, Caesar salad, french bread - yumm!), and the neighbor across the street brought over a plate of baked goodies just today. Have I mentioned how much I love our location?? Mr. chick is feeling conflicted about leaving it, too. He was pretty decided he'd take that job in Redmond, but as of last night he tells me he's wavering. He's undecided. Professionally, it's a good move, but at what cost? That's what he's balancing. Being home - here - with friends and family, or moving about 2.5 - 3 hrs away. He's worried if we go it will be hard to come back. Portable business and all that. So this move, if we do it, might be really permanent. But the job market is so super-tight for attorneys that I worry if we stay we'll be shooting ourselves in the foot. What to do, what to do??! We talked more last night and still don't know if we're moving again or staying here. My stomach has been slightly upset for days as a result. I can't get settled for fear that we're leaving again. We'll probably go out to Redmond/Bend again this weekend and start looking at housing options and to get a better feel for the community. That might help. Mr. Chick needs to tell them his decision soon.

So that's me. How was YOUR weekend?

Friday, March 24, 2006

More Changes Ahead

Just when you think you have a vision of your future, something happens to change it. Mr. Chick did NOT get the job in Portland (bastards!). And he's not wild about the still-pending opportunity in Salem. But he DID get the job in Redmond (ugly step-sister town to Bend). And it's a really, really good opportunity. So after much talking (and crying on my part) last night, we've decided to take the job there. Which means our move tomorrow is only temporary - we'll be flipping around and moving again as quickly as possible. How soon is that? I'm not sure yet. A month, 2 months. I'm going to try not to unpack very much and live like we're camping. Which sucks.

It's hard for me to make this adjustment. I was SO EXCITED about the house we bought and the area into which we were going. It felt like a warm hug. Close to good friends, family, schools, the city I love so much. And now I have to turn my back on that and re-focus on a place I'm just not that excited about. I'll GET excited, but right now it's hard. Especially because I hate moving and will now have to do it twice. It could be a lot worse, though. I already have a few friends near where we're going. I won't be a complete stranger. It's a booming, booming area with lots and lots of potential and opportunity. And it's only about 2.5 hrs from Portland, just a bit more than we have been for the past 3.5 yrs. I know it's possible to stay connected with people from that distance because I've already been doing it. I can just keep doing it. I just didn't want to have to is all.

We're not sure yet what we're going to do about the house we just bought. We might try to flip it and sell it FSBO and hope we break even (especially with all this dry rot repair creating a large expense for us), or maybe we can try to rent it and just rent a place in Redmond, where the rents have remained quite low relative to home prices. And Mr. Chick's salary is low to start, so keeping our costs contained might be a good idea. We have a lot to think about. We haven't even told our families of our decision yet. Hell, we haven't even told the FIRM that he's accepting the offer. I'm sure everyone will be very supportive and excited for us - it's quite an adventure we're embarking on.

I have to believe it's happened this way for a reason. It's meant to be. I just need to catch up with what's happening and get through the first of two moves. I wish we didn't have to move into the new house at all - it'll make it that much harder for me to leave it. That's bumming me out. I just have to look at it like an extended spring break where we're house sitting or something. Like it's not mine.

We're disconnecting our internet later today. We won't have new internet until sometime next week. I'll be back as soon as I can. Time to finish packing - round 1.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good News / Bad News

Why does my life feel like a soap opera these days? In today's episode, more on the ongoing rot situation. And find out the good news from Mr. Chick! And stay tuned to hear of the breaking story of sad, tragic family drama. And now, a word from our sponsors...

It's creeping. The more they uncover, the more rot is found. Ugly, ugly rot infesting my new house. F'ing losers who did such a shoddy job building that addition! My contractor, Old Ivan, is my new phone buddy. We talk more by phone lately than I ever have with my best girlfriend. I think we're dating. He sends us pictures of the damage and repair each day - sort of a visual progress report. Here are the photos from 2 days ago:

Lovely images, no? Can you see my pretty hardwood floor being ripped up in the upper left picture? Makes me want to cry. That hallway is now bare of all flooring and we'll have to live with bare sub-floor and a HOLE in front of the door (which is now boarded up with plywood until the new door arrives in about a week. Pretty!) until we decide what flooring to put in. It's impossible for us to make that decision from a distance, so we're holding off until we're in the house and can actually see samples of various flooring in the space. When Old Ivan comes back to install the door we'll have him install the sub-floor to the correct height to allow for our flooring choice to match up to the other flooring it touches. Right now Mr. Chick and I are leaning towards tile. We'll ultimately have to do the kitchen to match the hallway, but that's ok, the kitchen floor is old and ugly, albeit neutral enough lino that I was willing to hold off on the kitchen floor for awhile. Guess not now. It's only money, right?? In the meantime, that hallway is unnecessary as access to someplace specific in the house. In other words, we can get to the master bedroom from another way, and we can get to the backyard via the side deck, so we're going to close off access to that space until the work is completed. Don't want to risk a kid partially falling into the crawlspace via the gaping hole in front of the door.

The Orkin Man paid my house a visit and provided some of the only good news coming out of there. We don't have termites! Hooray! We have what's called Moisture Ants, and they're annoying, but not damaging. And he found some mouse droppings (how GROSS is that??!) in the crawlspace and in the garage (thanks again, Mr. House Inspector, for totally missing that.). So the Orkin Man will be coming back to the house ON MOVING DAY (as if it won't be chaotic enough) to spray for the ants and nuke the mice. Termites would have run us in the neighborhood of $2500-$3000 for extermination (gulp), but Moisture Ants only run $150.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Mr. Chick received a job offer! The firm in Central Oregon called him yesterday and offered him a job as an attorney (business attorney, no less) in their firm. I think it's pathetic how low new attorney wages are, but the upside growth is decent. He asked for a week to decide, because taking this job would mean we'd have to flip the house we just bought and relocate - AGAIN - to Central Oregon. And not to the cool, upscale city that I like so much. No, to the dumpy ugly-stepsister town 15 miles away from the Cool City. That's where the firm is and that's where they would require us to live. It's growing like crazy (avg. 200 houses per month) because it's cheaper to live there than the Cool City, but it's still a dumpy town as far as I'm concerned. Yes, it's close to the Cool City, but we all know that you get caught up in your daily life of school, work, etc. and pretty soon you're not meeting your friends who already live in Cool City for coffee or playdates or anything. You're hanging out at the local Wal-Mart for kicks. Not my scene. I'm more of an urban girl, not a country mouse. But we'll see. I'll go if it's the best choice for us. And I'll even try to be happy about it. I'm just so happy that FINALLY Mr. Chick was offered a job. About damn time! Now if we can just use it as leverage for the other two firms considering him in the Portland area, we'll be in business. One is just moving slower than molassas, and the other has already checked references and we're trying to get the 2nd interview scheduled.

So this great news is coming at a particularly stressful time, what with the move and all, and my anxiety levels are rising.

My aunt died last night. Just 14 months after the death of her identical twin sister. They were the younger sisters of my mother. Both died from lung cancer. And yes, they were both heavy smokers. It's very surreal for my family right now, because there was a big family rift between them and us. Because of our mothers, mostly. The twins were very close and therefore their kids were close. My mom was NOT close with either of them. She moved away for college to a different state so we were raised apart from those cousins. We don't really know them well. There was a lot of bad blood between my mom and her sisters. It all came to a head when my grandparents were both ill and things got UGLY. And it doesn't help that the aunt who just died was married to a royal jackass that none of us liked. He's the last man standing, wouldn't you know. The jackass outlived them all. But the rift was really between my mother and her sisters/husbands, not the cousins. *I* don't have a problem with my cousins, I just don't really know them. I'm sure I could pass one or two of them on the street and not recognize them. So it's a bizarre feeling to know that a member of your family - what should have been close family - has died and yet not really feel anything. I feel badly for my cousins and have spoken with one of them just today, but it might as well have been a conversation with someone at the grocery store. It's like it doesn't affect me. I talked to my mother this morning when I got the news and she's a little upset, but she probably won't be travelling for the funeral. The beef was the strongest between my mother and this sister. They did NOT get along and most conversations ended up with shouting. The jackass was a big reason for that. She's not very interested in going for the funeral and having to see him. But it IS her sister who died, so that's sad for her. Now both of her sisters, one brother-in-law, and both parents of my mother have died. None of her immediate family is left - she's it. Unless you count the jackass, but he's only related by marriage. So we don't count him.

But no matter what the issues, difficulties and problems were between my mother and her sisters, a member of the family died, and that is sad and tragic. I hope my cousins are able to rally around each other and support each other (each aunt had two kids). Because right now it's hard for us to do that for them. And THAT'S sad and tragic in itself.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Purpose Of Nipples

To help me find some humor in my day - a day that's been filled with ROTTEN thoughts (see post below) - I thought I'd share a funny from Nicholas.

Announced to me in the hottub after swimming lesson last night:
"Mama, when I grow up and have babies and become a daddy, I don't have to buy them food. They can just drink the milk from these."
said as he was pinching his own nipple with both hands and pulling it out as far as it would go.

I almost peed my pants laughing!

And through my giggles and chortles I had to explain to him that only MOMMIES are able to feed babies milk from nipples, not daddies. He looked slightly disappointed for a minute, and then perked up and said, proving he understood the difference, "so, then, Lauren will be able to feed my babies!" Uh-huh, sure Nicholas. I'm sure Lauren will love the opportunity to be a wet-nurse to your children. But then again, maybe they'll be his children, too, because he claims that he's going to marry Lauren someday. It's usually a tie between the 2 neighbor girls and his sister for current marriage partners under consideration.

Oh the innocence of children - !

Rotten To The Core *edited*

Well, maybe not to the core, but there is most definitely some signficant rot being discovered at the new house. We knew there was some - our inspection revealed that. But there wasn't time to have it repaired before the close - before our interest rate lock expired - so we accepted a credit for the amount of the bid. The bid that clearly states it's only good for the damage they can see, not necessarily for what they find underneath. And hooo-boy, did they uncover some major rot when they took off the sections of affected siding.

It seems as if the dumb-fucks who did the addition of the master suite and rec room cut a few corners. Normally you have the studs/framing and insulation, then the plywood, then a weather-wrap (Tyvex, usually - the white sheeting material you see in new construction), and then the siding. Well, the weather-wrap stuff wasn't ever put on. The siding is sitting directly over the plywood. So when water got in, there was nothing preventing it from rotting the plywood. And so you can begin to see the disaster unfurling.... Thankfully it seems to be pretty contained to the areas we knew about, but still... it's affected a window in the rec room AND the door leading out to the deck. Those will have to be replaced, plus the plywood, maybe a few studs, and the siding. And oh yeah, the time it takes for the crew to do the work. The bid we were credited for was $1362.00, plus the $500 our realtor is kicking in, but the contractor is informing us that it's going to be in excess of $3000 for the repair, and only goes up from there.


We took a gamble on this and we lost. There's nothing we can do other than cough up the money and have it fixed. They *think* they can have it done by the end of the week. I hope so, because I want to just move into the house problem-free. Well, let me rephrase that: I want to move into the house major problem-free. Minor stuff I can handle. I know there are a whole bunch of minor stuff we need to do to the house (like fix the hot/cold in the kitchen sink, which have been reversed for some unknown reason, and the previous owners must have just gotten used to it - ?) That would drive me batty.

Off to pack more boxes. I was side-lined from that this morning by a frantic call from Mr. Chick, informing me that the water at the house had been shut-off. I totally forgot to sign up for water at the house! Where we live now, water and electric service are handled by the same utility, so I'm not used to them being separate. Oops - my bad. The contractors need to use the loo, so it was critical I get the water turned on. That and I needed to fill out our change-of-address cards for the mail. Oh the never-ending details involved in moving - ! Can we just be DONE already??!

And the hits just keep on comin'. I'm being to think there should be a Lemon Law for real estate. The dry rot around the door to the deck I mentioned? Yeah, well, the rot extends into the house itself via sub-floor for at least a foot. There are hardwood floors in the hallway where this door is located. The contractor is having to pull up the hardwoods to get to the rotted sub-floor. We'll lose some of the floorboards because they, too, are showing some signs of rot. So we'll have to kick in even MORE money to either a) replace the hardwoods or b) figure out different flooring, like linoleum (which I don't like the thought of because I LOVE the hardwoods! Wah!). But wait! There's more! When they started taking up the hardwoods they found a bunch of live termites! Just crawling around under the hardwood. Beautiful. I guess they're attracted to the rotted wood. So I get to have the Orkin Man pay a visit to my house, on top of everything else, and give me a bid on how much MORE money it's going to cost us to deal with the pest problem caused by the ever-growing rot problem. Wanna come visit and have a sleep-over?? You provide the sleeping bag, I'll provide the creepy-crawlies and a can of Raid.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Home Improvement

Oh, my achin' back! I spent the weekend up at the new house sprucing up a few rooms pre-move. And I'm feelin' it today. Ouch. The good news is that I got done all that I wanted to accomplish, so that feels good. I painted both the kids rooms as well as the family room. My mom, dad, and sister all pitched in to help me, and thank goodness they did or I never would have finished. Never.

Nicholas's room now has a khaki/tan color on the top portion of the walls, a blue on the bottom (not quite the right blue, but we're rolling with it. I was aiming for a soft chambray blue but got more of a robin's egg blue. Damn.) with a crimson red chair rail splitting the two. Very classic boy. He has a set of sheets that are a denim/chambray plaid with red and white, so it all ties together. He helped pick the colors so he's happy as a pig in shit with his new room. Only remaining eye-sore? The wood chevron-patterned wall. He's the only one who likes it. I came this close to pulling it all down, but I wouldn't have had enough paint if I had so I left it. Nicholas likes it, so that's all that matters.

Lauren's room was painted in the same lavendar color we used in her room here. Only in the new room we painted the lavendar as high as the top of the doors/window and left the top foot or so the neutral cream color. It looks nice. I'll go back through and add the flower stencils like we have here and "girlify" it a little more. (and yes, that's a word as of now. Shut up.) I love the light purple color in Lauren's room - always have (duh, that's why I stayed with the same color!), but my dad's reaction was a little more telling. He walked in after we'd finished and said, "Whoa! Is that the intentional color??!" I guess it's not his taste.

The family room was the biggest pain in the ass to do. One wall is paneling that had been painted (badly) a flat, almost chalky white. There was a darker wood chair rail molding around the room. We pulled the chair rail off (which we then painted red and re-purposeded it in Nicholas's room) to discover that the walls had once been wallpapered and no one bothered to take it down before putting up the chair rail. So we had to do a little wallpaper removal before we could do anything else, and I HATE wallpaper removal. So my mom did it. As we looked more closely at the paneled wall we noticed lots of holes that needed to be filled and lots of rough spots from a shoddy job of removing the wallpaper and they painted right over some of the paper and glue splotches. So I ended up sanding the entire wall (it's a big, long wall) BY HAND to smooth it all out and then went back through and filled the holes with putty stuff, then sanded those when they dried. And then we painted the room a warm neutral color called Travertine. I love that color. It warms up any room and doesn't fight the furniture. I have it in my living room and entry here already. But doing that one room took pretty much all day. For just one room. The prep time was substantial. The actual painting was the easy part. But now it's done and it looks 10x better! Yay! I didn't bring my camera, like a dumbass, or I'd have taken before/after pictures to show you. And oh yeah, we (my mom & dad and I) did all that while watching 5 kids. My parents were babysitting my sisters' 3 kids, plus my 2, and that's a lot of kids running around an empty house and trying to keep them both entertained and out of the rooms with wet paint was, well, a challenge.

Mr. Chick returned from Vegas last night and we visited the house together today. Just our family. It was really the first time we've been able to spend any time at the house together without other people there (realtors, primarily). And then we took the kids on a walk through the neighborhood and explored the walking trails near the house that lead to the park. What a fabulous park! The kids played and we enjoyed a rare sunny & warm spring day. It felt like a perfect way to get "introduced" to our new neighborhood. We met a few more neighbors and learned that the people right next door to us have 7 kids. 7!! Most are adopted and they range in age from 3 to high school/college. And they're homeschooled. Sounds like a super-mom. I'm looking forward to meeting her and I'm hoping that at least one of their many kids line up in age to one of mine.

And now the countdown really starts. We move in 6 days. Time to get serious about packing. The living room knick-knacks and movies and such have already been taken up. All the pictures are down. The china and crystal are up there, too. It's feeling more barren here with just that stuff gone. But it's excited and I'm actually looking forward to the move. And to the "farewell" ladies night out for cocktails and dessert this week. Some fun in the midst of chaos.

I may not be able to post much until after the move, but don't think I'll have forgotten you. I'll just be in transition. So don't forget me!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vegas, Baby!

A tale of two weekends:

This is where Mr. Chick is. Hanging with some pals, boozin' a little, gamblin' a little, R&R a LOT. Did I mention there is a go-go dancer convention happening at the hotel they're staying at. Yeeahh - there is. Nice.

And this is me while he's gone. Only add some boxes in which to pack, some paint cans, and much scuzzier clothes. And a 2nd kid. That's me. Wanna trade places?

I'm actually excited for Mr. Chick. He's looonggg overdue some down time and fun with his friends. None of his friends live where we do (well, where we live for the next 10 days, that is). All his law school buddies have moved on. We're the last to go. I have friends here, but he doesn't. So it's not often he get to just hang out and shoot the shit with the guys. Do guy stuff. And so I'm supportive of the trip. It's been planned a long time and is becoming an annual thing. I even got him a new leather cigar case for the occasion. I'm nice like that (and still feeling a twinge of guilt over the whole obligatory sex comment. Yeah, I really blew it there. Oops.) So I'm about to rush off to swimming lessons, having driven down from Portland this afternoon. I get to pack up a few more boxes tonight after the kids are asleep. Nicholas has school tomorrow, during which I must buy paint. Then pack another box. Pick him up from school, hope (threaten?) that the kids don't UNpack any boxes, and clean the house for the landlords/new buyers, who have asked to come to the house AGAIN while we're not there in order to measure for new carpet. I simply cannot leave the house in the current disaster state it's in if people will be here [shudder]. And so I must clean. And organize. And make things look nice and presentable. And oh yeah, do it ALL BY MYSELF.

"A little less conversation, a little more action, Baby. All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me." Never before have those lyrics been more spot-on for how I'll be for the next few days.

Give me strength.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Deal Is Done

Well, we can all breathe a big sigh of relief: we closed on the house this afternoon. yay! I'm happy, but more relieved than anything because these past few days have been really hairy with the whole house deal. A major miscommunication on their side nearly blew the deal.

It was all over windows. There are 5 thermal pane windows with blown seals. Three of the four front-facing windows (one in each kid bedroom and one of the two in the living room), a side window (family room), and a section of the "garden window" in the kitchen. We had asked for those windows to be replaced. That's the way it was written in the addendum concerning repairs: replace the windows with blown seals. Replace, not fix, not repair. So when the bid for the windows came back at just $800, we suspected something was awry. When we finally got to see the bid, our fears were confirmed: they were only planning on replacing the panes - the actual glass - not the entire window. These are older windows we're talking about. All the front-facing ones are aluminum frames. We wanted to ditch those and replace them with vinyl. Something more efficient from an insulating point of view, not to mention nicer looking. That's what we requested, and that's what they agreed to. But when our realtor brought to their attention the error of their assumption, all hell broke loose. Or so we were told. I scrambled to get someone out to give a same-day bid on replacing the windows. Their bid came in at around $6000. I know! Half of that was for a new garden window, which are pricey little numbers. And the most expensive window to replace was the side one in the family room because it's a wood-frame, Anderson double-hung window. That sucker runs about $1000+ all by itself. Being reasonable people, we suggested a compromise. We'll agree to replace the panes only in the wood-frame window and the garden window (the most expensive ones) if they will agree to replace the front-facing windows. After apparently a lot of haggling, yelling, and negotiating, they agreed. They got another bid of their own, which was a bit lower, and went with that. It's all sort of moot anyway since we're talking about credits towards closing vs. actually replacing the windows. The realtors on both sides had to eat nearly $500 each on their commission to get the deal done, but an agreement was reached and we signed on the dotted line today. Whew! Now we just need to pick out the windows we like and figure out if we'll use the people who's bid was agreed to (in price), or find someone else. No rush - we'll get to it once we move in. But my stomach was in knots all weekend long waiting to hear if we were getting the house or not. Because as much as I would have hated to do it, we would have walked away if they hadn't agreed.

And so we turned over the big fat check we'd received a few months ago to the title company and signed our names a half million times, and we should have the keys in our hot little hands in two more days.

In the meantime, I've started packing and hate it already. Is packing ever fun?? I think not. Definitely not. I got all our fine china and crystal packed this morning and brought it up to Portland with me so it would be better protected than being moved along with everything else in the U-Haul truck. That's right, U-Haul [sigh]. Mr. Chick and I have several more trips up to Portland before the actual move and will be bringing stuff with us each time. Little by little we'll get it done. I'm planning on doing a little painting this coming weekend before the furniture comes. Just the family room and maybe one or both of the kids rooms. My sister will be helping me.

I drove by the house on the way to the closing and had an opportunity to briefly meet a neighbor. Turns out she is also a SAHM to two small kids, and her oldest is just 2 months younger than Nicholas. Of course, she's a girl so they won't be too interested in playing together in a few years (or less), but for now it's nice to have a potential playmate just 2 doors away. She was very friendly and helpful and I'm looking forward to getting to know her. Nice neighbors! Always a good sign.

So we're on track to finally be moving on to the next chapter in our lives. It's been a long road and the last 3 weeks/month have been particularly tough. Now we just need Mr. Chick to nail a job and we're home free. Hopefully he can use the unofficial offer he received on Monday for a firm in Central Oregon to get the more-desired Portland firm off their asses and hire him already. Because all this waiting? Is total bullshit.

Or we may be flipping the house we just bought and doing it all over again in Central Oregon. I hope not, because I just can't fathom moving a 2nd time in as many months. It might truly be the end of me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Kid Nirvana

My calendar says it's March 10th. Less than 2 weeks until Spring is official. The sun has been shining, trees are blossoming, and daffodils have made their appearance all over town. It's been lovely.

But this morning we wake up to this:

Spring daffodil meets Old Man Winter. It SNOWED last night. All the way down to the valley floor, which happens, but not often.

My neighbor planted these just a few days ago... Who knows if they'll survive. It's supposed to snow again later today. We've only gotten a dusting of snow so far - less than an inch - and it's really not even that cold outside. Not really. Not compared to other places. And yet the schools in our city have SHUT DOWN for the day. Not even a 2-hr delay. They cancelled school altogether. Say it with me: WTF?! For this? No ice, and maybe 1/2 inch of snow at best. Most of which has already melted by 9:30am. I think everyone just wanted a day off, if you ask me. But the kids have been LOVING it!

Lauren gets a push from a friend. See how the streets are just about clear in this picture? This was 8:30am. Yeah, good thing school was cancelled or *I* would have had to push Lauren instead of the neighbor kid. My back thanks the school district.

Nicholas gets a ride, too.

Nicholas takes a break from a wicked snowball fight. Note the hodge-podge snow clothes. We're woefully underprepared for it since it's such a rarity.

Lauren had enough of the snow. She's perfected the pretty pout. This had my neighbor in stitches watching her. Yes, those are galoshes on her feet and there aren't shoes on underneath, just a few layers of socks, and cotton ones at that. Like I said, we're woefully underprepared for snow. Her boots had been left outside and were soaking, so we improvised. This worked well enough for the hour or so we played in the snow. Before the pout.

How's YOUR day?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Even The Dog Was Disturbed

Just now I was enjoying a rare, precious moment with Lauren. She had been napping and woke up crying, as kids sometimes do, and I went in to comfort her. She clung to me, clutching her blanket, and buried her face in my neck. She said she wanted some milk, so I filled her cup and we went and sat on the couch. I cuddled her like I used to when she was an infant as she drank her milk and stroked her own face with the special corner of her blankie. Her eyelids started drooping and the slurping sounds from the cup got a little more pronounced and sloppy. Before I knew it, she was sleeping in my arms. That doesn't happen very much anymore, and I liked it. I shifted her so she was lying on my chest vs. the crook of my arm because damn! she's heavy. We sat like that for awhile - her sleeping peacefully and me just gazing at her admiringly. I was consciously thinking how precious this time was, and even thinking about the entry I'd write about it here. How sweet it was to hold my baby girl in my arms like that as she slept. About how I couldn't help but smile as she would softly shift in her sleep and stretch just a bit, and her limbs would have that semi-shake to them when she did. You know that shaky stretch? She did that.

And then she let out the biggest fart EVER. Really ripped one. Even our sleeping dog across the room was disturbed by the shock wave that emanated out from Lauren's butt. But my daughter remained blissfully asleep with a tiny, satisfied smile on her face, and all was right with the world. She didn't even wake up from the heaving of my chest created by all my surpressed giggles. That's my girl!

Tiny Dancer

Yesterday was the final dance class for Nicholas. The session is over. Parents had been "banned" from actually being in the room during class time since the 2nd class, so on the last day the parents were welcomed back in and the kids put on a mini "performance". It was the cutest damn thing EVER! All the girls in the class (which is every.other.student other than Nicholas, the lone male) seemed to dress up extra-special for the last class. Hair was more neatly combed, and a few girls busted out their primo tutu's. And then there was my son. My son who does not own "dance clothes" specifically. My son who wore regular "street clothes", like normal. So in the midst of pale pink he stood out in blue pants and shirt like a sore thumb. But a cute sore thumb, truth be told. It made it even easier to pick him out of the crowd.

I've noted before that Nicholas seems to have a perfectionist streak. I don't know if it's the age - if most preschoolers show signs of perfectionism - or just a personality trait unique to him. Regardless, he was a little nervous about the performance part. He worried about it as we left the class last week, fearing "what if I don't remember what to do??!!?? I just know I won't get it right." But then he seemed to just let it go for the rest of the week, never really mentioning it or giving the impression of being stressed about it. But just minutes after arriving at dance class yesterday it became crystal clear that Nicholas really WAS worried about doing it all just right, and he buckled under the self-induced pressure. Completely fell apart.

He started strong. He willingly and enthusiastically took off his shoes and socks and found a place (aka piece of tape) at the front of the room. Lauren and I sat directly across from him, video camera at the ready. The kids went through their warm-up exercises and he was doing really well. Then he asked me if I would turn the viewing screen of the camera around so he could watch it while he danced. I said no - preferring him to pay attention to his teacher than be distracted by a video screen. Seemed reasonable to me. Only that was the straw that broke the camel's back and caused his emotional collapse. Or something. Because he suddenly started crying and rushed over to me, burying his face against me and sobbing. It was terribly disruptive. I told him that I was really hoping to watch him dance and could he please PLEASE go back and dance so I could see him?? Pleading didn't work. So I got tough. I told him that if he couldn't stop crying and making it hard for everyone else's parents to enjoy the dance then we would have to go. That upset him worse. But I needed to do something because all this carrying on was echoing in the room and causing a scene. So I packed up the camera, Lauren and Nicholas and went to leave. This escalated Nicholas's piercing crying, "no no no no NO NO NO Mama!! NOOOO!! [sob sob]" but we had to get out of there. I told him we'd take a minute outside and have a drink of water in order to calm down. He was cool with that. We sat and hugged and had some water and he calmed down. I told him how much I loved watching him dance and that it didn't matter if he got it perfect or if he made a mistake, I'd STILL love watching him dance. He then got concerned about, "but I'm missing everything!" It was at this point that the class came out to the lobby in order to take a break and have some water, and Nicholas was able to rejoin the class at this point. It was time for the tap dancing part, and it's like his attitude changed like a switch. He was suddenly OK again. Just like that. It's weird. It's like he had to get all his stress out and then he was good. He did the tap dancing part and felt good about his "performance". The teacher led them and he was able to follow her perfectly. I think he feared he'd have to do the dancing alone without anyone leading him, providing a safety net. But he did great and had a huge smile on his face. I got it on video and it's darling. He was very proud of himself, and I was even more proud of him. I told him when class was over that he danced so well, but more than that I was so proud of him for pulling it together and finishing the class. That he didn't quit or give up. That's more important to me than how well he danced. He got all swelled up - it was funny.

After class I told him that we'd be going out for a special celebratory lunch of his choosing. He was so excited about this! We enjoyed a nice lunch out (at which he ate even more than ME!) and the afternoon ended on a high note. I was worried there for a bit given his fit, but he turned it around and everything was OK in the end. We'll be enrolling him in more dance classes after we move. He enjoys it and it's so good for him.

I love a happy ending.

My tiny dancer, Nicholas. Busting a move. I'm so proud of you, buddy!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The End Of An Era

Change is good. Right? Yes, for the most part, change is good. But sometimes, change can be bittersweet. And that's how I feel about Mr. Chick selling his motorcycle once and for all.

Back in the early 90's when Mr. Chick and I began dating, he purchased a motorcycle. A big one. He was such a rebel! He bought the bike as an undergrad and we went on many long, fun rides together through the hills around town. We took a couple of trips out to the coast. It was thrilling because there was an element of danger involved. And by danger I refer to both Mr. Chick AND the bike. My mother was none too thrilled to learn I'd been riding around on the back of a motorcycle, believe you me. But it was so fun and exciting!! That first summer of our courtship I had graduated and moved to the Bay Area for my job. Mr. Chick came with me. And so did the bike. It was his only mode of transportation that summer. We took lots of trips all over the Bay Area on that bike. That motorcycle represents the beginning of US in many ways. It's silly, isn't it?

As the years went on, Mr. Chick rode the bike less and less. He graduated and got a professional job. It wasn't practical to ride the bike to work in a suit. It became an occasional thing at best. Then we started our family and it seemed so irresponsible and careless to ride the motorcycle anymore. And it started to need some TLC that Mr. Chick just didn't have the time or motivation to do. We talked about selling the bike when we moved here for law school. What were we keeping it for? But it didn't happen before the move, so the bike came with us. And stayed in exactly the same spot it landed in as it came off the moving truck for the duration of our time here. In front of one of the garage doors with the garbage & recycling cans in front of it. It lended us a fairly "white trash" look. We kept saying that we'd sell it to a student, but it just never happened. A few times Mr. Chick tried to get it started, but the battery had died. But then he figured out that it wasn't the battery after all. It was something else preventing the bike from even starting. It was no longer in working order. And so it's sat, in my driveway, immoveable, for nearly 4 years. Sad and dejected.

And then along comes Craigslist! Mr. Chick spent an hour or two shining up the bike and taking pictures of it. He put an ad on Craigslist, finally committing to selling it. And he got several responses immediately. I mean, it IS a cool bike. So the very same day the ad goes up a guy drives 45 minutes each way, with cash in hand, to come buy the bike. It sold the same day. Amazing. And so closes a chapter in our lives. The motorcycle that was such an instrumental part of our early days is no longer with us. As much as I griped about how unattractive it was to have the bike just sitting out in our driveway all this time and just sell it already (!), I feel a little bittersweet about it now that it's gone. Nostalgia will do that.

And so I present the Before & After images of The Motorcycle:

Mr. Chick, looking cool and studly, on his motorcycle at the Oregon coast. Good times! Can you sense the danger?? ;) I spent many hours on the back of that bike clinging to him, enjoying both the feel of him, the motorcycle, and the beautiful scenery one can only appreciate on the back of a bike. (and yes, we wore helmuts when we rode the bike. Just not in pictures.)

The next generation on the bike. The biggest reason we SOLD the bike. It's a little surreal to see this picture, because Nicholas looks like Daddy and Lauren looks like me, and here they are in a very same pose as Mr. Chick and I when we were on the bike together. Strange indeed! A bizarro mirror...

Good-bye, motorcycle. May you be restored and appreciated and not broken up and sold for parts. We'll miss you, in a strange way, but will always cherish the memories we have of our times together. You rock.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Getting Old Sucks

I'm not a hugely vain person. Really, I'm not. I like to look nice (mostly), but I don't put myself through the arduous "get ready" process that I used to back in high school. Those were long mornings getting ready for school, and long evenings spent "closing up shop" before bed. Oh how I would carefully select the right facial scrub that could remove my make-up (which I wore daily back in the day) but not aggravate any acne flare-ups. I didn't want my skin overly dry, but too much moisture was rather icky as well. I sought a very delicate balance where skin was concerned. I would pour over my pores and scruntinize my "wrinkles".

My hair, too, was a big job. I washed my hair everyday, which meant I blow-dried everyday, too. And used a curling iron. And lots of hair styling products. Oh yes, hair was big business and very, very time consuming. But worth it, right? I mean, I'm a girl and it's my job to look my best. And looking my best means investing mega-amounts of time on my appearance.

And then I had kids. And everything changed. Thankfully, having kids coincided with turning 30, so I got a double-shot of life-change. It no longer mattered as much to me about how well turned out I was each day. It usually boiled down to how bad did I stink and could I wear a baseball cap again today? Makeup? Ha! What's the point? And you know what? I started to evolve and re-define what "looking my best" really was. Where I used to think I looked utterly horrendous without makeup, now I think being "au naturel" makes me look younger (mostly) and wearing makeup makes me look older. At least, wearing as much make-up as I used to. A little neutral eyeshadow, some mascara, and powder is PLENTY for me these days, if that. Where I used to not be caught dead without lipstick, now I just wear chapstick. I don't wash my hair everyday, and my hair is healthier for it. I can be ready to walk out of the house, not at all embarrassed about my appearance, in about 5 minutes. From getting out of bed. And that happens. Frequently. So long to spending 1 hr+ getting ready each and every morning. What a waste of time!

But lately I'm noticing a few things that are making me do double-takes when I look in the mirror. Little signs of aging that, frankly, aren't that attractive. I doubt I would submit to plastic surgery purely to feed my vanity, but I'm finding it hard to accept these little things as gracefully as I'd like. My old vanity is creeping back into the picture. Just a little. And it's surprising me. Just a little.

To help me with my feelings of "blah" (see "I'm Tired" post) I went to get my hair trimmed over the weekend. Nothing drastic, just a trim to keep the ends in shape. I've known I've had some grey hair for a few years now, but now it seems that I have more and more greys than ever before. More than I'm comfortable with. I recently discovered a nice little patch of greys behind my ear. I don't notice it when I wear my hair down, but more and more I've been wearing it up and you can't miss it when it's up. When did those arrive on the scene?? And ewww! My grey hair is mostly scattered on the top, in and around my part. Regardless of if I part my hair on the right or left, there are greys. I've colored my hair from time to time over the years, mostly because my normal color is, well, flat and drab. So I punch it up a little. I don't change my color, but I enhance it. Sometimes. But now I need to color it to hide the greys. I paid for highlights at the salon - just on the top - in a color to match my natural - to hide the greys. And you know what? Even after that you can STILL see plenty of the little buggers. I'm so screwed. I'm only 36 - isn't that too young to have so many greys??

And then the WORST. I made a new discovery today that has me cringing. It's time for me to go the GYN for my annual check-up, so did a little trimming of my bits
. You know. And that's when I saw it: a grey hair. Down there! I did the biggest double-take you can imagine. WTF??! My own inner dialogue was sputtering, "whaatt?? when did - ?? WHY!! NOOO!" and mostly, "eewwww!" Isn't it pretty much granny's who have grey in their nether regions? It's certainly not vibrant women in the prime of their lives - is it? It's not ME - is it? And yet, it is. There is no denying it. I have a grey pube. And deepening laugh lines. And skin whose elasticity is starting to be a bit less elastic. What's next? Plucking hair from my ears?

Just another reason why getting old sucks.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Waiting To Exhale

The past week has been such a rollercoaster! First, I caused a big, big, BIG upset with my "I'm Tired" post with Mr. Chick. He read it and it became a problem. I really hurt his feelings - primarily with my comment about being tired of obligatory sex (I've since deleted the offending comment, so don't even bother going back to look for it.) He felt terrible, I felt worse. We're working it out, thankfully, but I really put my foot in it with that one and simply HATED the aftermath and repercussions. I did it to myself and have no one to blame. I shouldn't have opened my mouth and have learned a very valuable lesson. It just kills me when I'm insensitive like that and hurt the feelings of someone I love. Gah!

Secondly, we had the house inspected and it turned up a few major issues that would need to be addressed. Structural things. Plus a myriad of smaller, more petty items that we could take care of ourselves. But roof leaks? Dry rot? Foundation problems? Blown window seals? Those are major, and majorly expensive. Fixable, sure. Nothing fatal. But we don't love the house enough to dump that kind of money into it when we feel like we're already reaching beyond our comfort zone in the first place. We requested that the sellers take care of making those repairs. And they only have about 10 days to do it. Tight, tight timeframe. Nearly impossible. I have been feeling a sense of dread all weekend that it isn't going to work out. That they'll tell us to go f*ck ourselves and they'll find other buyers who'll take it as-is. Or they'd only do one thing and we'd have to do the rest. ALL of the scenarios have been played out in my head all week. Lot's of "what if's". It didn't help that our realtor was out of town and we'd been working with a partner of hers in her place. This lady was nice, but not our cup of tea. She worked hard for us, but it was exasperating. We're glad our realtor is now back as of yesterday.

So this morning we finally get a chance to connect with our realtor. And good news! She tells us that she's been speaking with the listing agent, who has gotten a verbal agreement from the sellers to take care of everything on our list! Well, except one item that we didn't really expect them to do and included because (a) it would have been nice if they did take care of it, but (b) we wanted to include something less important so they could say no to something. Sort of a political game strategy. They said no to putting up mouldings/baseboards in the living room, up one of the staircases, and the bedrooms. They say it's because there never was baseboard there in the first place, but we can SEE that there had been at some point. It's obvious, at least in the kids bedrooms and the staircase. But whatever - it's minor. Structural things, however, are NOT minor.

So now we're just waiting for the agents - theirs and ours - to scramble (and I do mean scramble!) to get contractors in there to give them bids on everything. We need to hit our closing date of the 15th because our interest rate lock is only good until the 16th and the rates are going up and we might not be able to afford the house if we miss our locked rate. And while all that is happening, Plan B is being formed. Plan B is where arrangements are made for them to give us "credits" towards closing costs, for example, to cover the cost of some of the work that needs to be done but probably can't be done in time. So they throw money at it. OR, they could agree to hold back 1.5x - 2x the estimated amount in escrow until the work is done, essentially paying for it after the sale of the house. OR, they could agree tor reduce the sales price of the house by whatever amount to cover the cost of doing the work. A few options. But it really doesn't matter to us which way it plays out because ultimately it's not coming out of our pocket. Not really.

So it's looking good that the house will be ours! Yay!! Maybe I can even start to believe that we really are moving at the end of the month. I can give notice at Nicholas's school, give notice to our landlords, and start packing! Oh how I dread packing.... but what fun to imagine UNpacking in our new house!! Now I need to start considering doing stuff like getting the utilities switched to our name, reserve a moving truck, bribe friends to help us move, sort through all the crap and figure out what we can truly take to the dump, what we can sell, etc. oh - it's endless.

But very, very exciting.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thoughts On My Daughter

Lauren is nearly 2.25 yrs old and I thought it was time for another update. She's at a really funny age, and by funny I mean funny "ha ha" and funny "exasperating" simultaneously. At long last she's speaking words we can understand. There is still a lot of gibberish mixed in, but more actual words are emerging than ever before. She's been taking her own sweet time with this and it's been difficult not being able to understand her for so long. And more than just being able to say words, she's expressing more complex thoughts. That's the part I'm enjoying the most. She'll ask questions, express an emotion, or tell you something insightful. And it's all accompanied with dramatic body language to underscore her limited linguistic abilities. The message comes across loud and clear.

"Gle shut da door and I'm sad!" (Gle or Gleh is how Lauren says Nicholas. Strange, but it's what has emerged.)

"More bot peez Mama!" (bot is how she says milk. Another peculiar Lauren-speak idiosyncracy)

"I so sorry. I hit Gle. I ree (really) sorry" We hear this more than we'd like

"My turn! My turn, Gle. Lo turn!" Lo is how she says her own name, usually accompanied by her touching her hand to her chest.

Lauren has mastered the art of the dramatic slump or pout when she's denied something. She'll turn away from you and go into this whole thing of shrugging her shoulders with a big, deep sigh, sort of slump over and shuffle away in a very dejected manner. I flash-forward to her teenaged years whenever she does this. She's already perfecting it. And recently she's started growling - literally growling - when she's exasperated. It's hard not to laugh when she does this.

Lauren continues to have strange eating habits. She routinely cycles through periods of fasting and feasting. She'll go days of mostly only drinking milk and barely eating any food, and then suddenly start eating again for a day or two before reverting back to her fasting mode. It's impossible to tell which cycle we're on when we get up in the morning. She still won't eat any meat except chicken nuggets. She won't eat eggs anymore, either. She went from being able to eat 2 scrambled eggs for breakfast to shunning them. She doesn't like fruit right now, either, except fruit leather (the chunkier kind at Costco). She loves them. Her favorite food - the only thing I know with certainty she'll eat - is peanut butter and honey sandwiches. She even eats the crusts. We're in the process of weaning her from sippy cups to regular unlidded/unvalved cups. She's doing pretty well and knows not to leave the kitchen with a regular cup.

Lauren is in love with Blue's Clues (boo boo!) and asks to watch a BooBoo video everyday. Dora ranks right up there, too.

Lauren loves to carry around a small spiral notebook and crayon and will routinely scribble little dots/circle-like shapes on the paper. She naturally holds crayons/pencils correctly vs. in a fist.

Lauren insists on her door being shut at night. The last thing we do at bedtime is sing the "night night" ** song (or Twinkle Twinkle - her current fave), give a kiss and hug, and then she "reminds" us to "shut da door peez" as we're heading out of her room. If we don't, she gets out of bed and does it herself.

Lauren has recently started announcing when she farts. It's so pleasant. She'll let one go and then giggle and say "I tooted" like it's the funniest thing ever. It cracks both kids up everytime. Potty humor - gotta love it.

Like most 2-yr-olds, Lauren is big on repetition. She loves for me to help her put on her backpack only to have to take 3 steps away from me and take it off, check the contents, and then want me to help her put it back on. Again and again and again. It never grows old. (for her, not for me. It's old for me practically before it even begins!)

Lauren is *trying* to learn her colors, but doesn't have perfect accuracy yet. She seems to know red and blue, but struggles with other colors. If you point to something green and ask her what color it is, she might say "geen" or just as likely say "red". The same goes for counting. She'll try to count things on a page, for example, and say "one two beee!" as she's just pointed to 5 things. She knows A - B - C, but that's as far as she's gotten.

Her physical abilities are where she shines. She has excellent balance. She's mega-strong. She has a high pain tolerance and simply shakes off most "boo boo's" without even so much as a whimper. She has no fear. She loves to jump and climb. She has two speeds: fast and stop. There is no middle. She's either running or making me carry her. I think she's going to be an excellent athlete someday.

Lauren is our outdoor child. She loves to be outside. Much more so than Nicholas. We were outdoors yesterday during Nicholas's dance class and we found a ladybug. She was fascinated. She held it in her hand for a minute before it flew away. "bye bye lay-buh" "where lay-buh go??" "lay-buh, where are you?" Then she was "talking" on the pay-phone and told me was talking to the lay-buh. That conversation fell into the gibberish category, but it was cute to witness. When she couldn't find the ladybug she did the whole shrug/slump/sigh routine, mad that she couldn't see the ladybug anymore.

And lastly, Lauren is a perfect mimic of everything and anything Nicholas does. If he starts skipping, she tries to. If he squeals about something, so does she. If he takes his shoes off, she follows suit. If Nicholas is doing it, so must she. Blindly. She adores him.

** The night-night song is one I made up when Nicholas was an infant and then modified for Lauren when she came along. It's sung to the tune of "Lullabye & Good-Night"

Nighty-night, Lauren girl, it's time to lay down your curls (back when she was a baby and had a curl)
Close your eyes and sleep awhile
And wake up with a smile
Good night, little one
You will wake with the sun
But now, it's time to rest
Mama loves you the best.

I sing this to each kid as we tuck them into bed at night. They both really love it. Nicholas sings it along with me, which melts my heart and helps to evaporate a lot of frustrations that may have built up throughout the day. Only he prefers the last line to go "your family loves you the best" instead of just mama loving him the best. This was a recent modification - one I was happy to make.

Lauren challenges me everyday simply because she's two and well, two is challenging. But the little personality that is emerging is engaging, happy, feisty, independent, smart and funny. Lauren is just so likeable. She's not often moody and usually brightens any room. It's not usually hard to be with her, and I love when we can spend time together, just us girls.

I love you, Lauren!

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