O Hai! I Can Has Update? (Pictures)

What does one call a bunch of pimps? A Daddy of Pimps? A Gaggle of Pimps? At any rate, there were some at work today. And Balloon Boy’s family (in many forms) was there. Some red-headed stepchildren, a vampire, and other assorted creatures showed up today. It must be Halloween!

Every time I decide to sit down and do an update, my mind goes blank. Totally blank. So that’s part of the reason I haven’t been writing much. But the other reason is that life is going by in a blur these days. I’ve been working 45-55 hours a week, then I come home and fry my brain with FarmVille and Cafe World before climbing into bed, ready to start it all over the next day.

I have been managing to do some reading, though. I finished IF I STAY by Gayle Forman (library), GRACELING by Kristin Cashore (library), and THE VAN ALEN LEGACY by Melissa De La Cruz (purchase). I am kinda jonesing for more new books, but I’m also trying to save money.

I’m missing little Aidan like crazy. I’ll see him again in 13 days, though. :) Then he’ll be here for Christmas! Seriously, I didn’t think it would be hard to shop for a soon-to-be-seven-year-old, but when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said “999 stuffed animals.” HUH? Like that’s going to happen! So I talked with Chris and I think I have some ideas for him and I’m sure I’ll come up with more stuff once I start holiday shopping.

In the meantime, my little boy was a werewolf for Beggar’s Night!

Werewolf Aidan!!!

Most Awesome Werewolf Ever!!!!

OH YEAH you know you’re jealous of that display of PURE AWESOME.

This year, the holiday shopping will be drastically pared back, though. I really need to save money and I’ve already bought enough stuff that I probably shouldn’t have. Not to mention eating out. So, I’m going back into frugal mode and I’m OK with it. It’s a challenge, but years ago I learned about the “I don’t need it” technique and it’s been working. For example, I was hell-bent on ordering some wings and tater tots from D’Ags tonight for dinner. Until I actually got online and started the actual order and realized that 10 wings, a side of tots, and some bread would cost me more than $20 PLUS tip. Um yeah, no.

Unfortunately, my craving has not been satisfied, but I don’t really know where to get good wings in Chicago. I’m still learning my way around. Yeah that’s it.

Maybe I can figure out how to make some…?

Yeah, right. Snort. I’m still stressing about how we’re going to get this place clean for when Adam’s family visits in a few weeks. As it is, he and I have both been working our butts off. We’ve maybe seen each other an hour a day the past few days. By the time I get home, he’s gone. He’s gone right now, and I have to go to bed soon. We both work tomorrow, so I really won’t get to spend any time with him until Sunday. And then it’s right back to work on Monday. All hail fourth quarter. And October. I am so ready for October to be over. Thank goodness that will happen tomorrow. And Sunday is “fall back,” so YAY for an extra hour!

Let me think, is there anything else I can plop down before I crash. ‘Cause I’m fading fast. My circadian rhythm seems to have synced with those of normal people (you know, sleep at the night, awake in the day), and I don’t want to throw that off, at least not until the assignment ends. Then I can turn back into an “owl.”

And with that, I’m outta here. Sorry my first post in ages wasn’t more substantial, but my eyes are closing. ‘Til next time!

Feeling Accomplished + Bullet Points (Long)

I like it when I feel like I got a lot done. My mom is coming into town on Wednesday and staying for a week, so I’ve been preparing for her visit. And also, I was ready for some cleaning anyway. It was getting WAY too cluttered. I also just did some other stuff that needed to be done. Here are the things I did:

– Re-rearranged the DVD shelves after Adam put them in disarray after some arranging of his own this morning. I’d fixed them up good last night, but he organized something ELSE which completely messed up my shelves. I fixed everything up good, though. ;)

– Cleaned the heck out of the bathroom.

– Cleaned Aidan’s room. There was one section that Adam needed to work on. He did and then I finished the less intensive stuff. I also rearranged Aidan’s bookcase. He put his stuffed animals on his bed and put his toys away. Adam found a beautiful nightstand in the enchanted alley, and I now use that as a dresser for Aidan. At first, he was living out of his suitcase which I hated. But now, the suitcase is neatly standing against the closet door, and Aidan’s clothes are in drawers or on top of the nightstand.

– Rearranged ALL the bookcases. They looked like tornadoes had taken up residence. But now they look neat.

– Went to Target and got loads of air fresheners (the cats love to counteract them as much as they can, ick), and bottled water for my mom. We also picked up some more storage stuff.

– I got my HP laptop running again. The hard drive crashed back in February, and even though it was under warranty, they fought me on getting a new hard drive to me. Andy came to the rescue though, and a new hard drive came. But no operating system. I have an XP disc, but HP does something to their drives to keep XP from installing properly. I did not want to buy Vista. Anyway, I recently got the idea to install Linux onto the laptop, because it had been sitting under my desk collecting dust for the past several months. I put Linux (Ubuntu) on it today and with the exception of wrestling a bit with Flash, got it up and running. Aidan is playing his games again and loving it. I don’t know WHY it didn’t occur to me before! So far, Linux is awesome, though. It’s simple and fast. It came with Firefox and Pidgin and Open Office, plus DVD burning software and music players! For some reason, I expected it to run like DOS or something, not like a Windows-based program. Silly me. This brings my total of working computers up to four. Three laptops (two of them Macs) and a desktop (PC) that needs a new monitor.

– I converted all of the 2005 Disney videos to DVD. Who knew that nearly 2 hours of footage would take up FIVE DVDs? I’m sure I miscalculated or something and probably wasted quite a bit of DVD space, but oh well. It took AGES to do! Probably about 30 hours of encoding, editing, and burning. I like using iDVD, though. It’s fun and easy if you use the pre-made themes. I just use the wizard and the discs come out beautifully. I was having fits with iMovie, but I just need to keep practicing with that. Anyway, the DVDs are done, and I made disc images so that I won’t have to wait for them to encode every single time I want to burn a DVD. Next, I have to do Aidan’s first years. Not sure when I’ll get to that. But for the future, life will be much easier. Adam got a Flip cam, so the rest of my videos will be DIGITAL. The Flip cam is awesome, too. Can’t wait to use it at Disney World. Or even when my mom’s here.

– I updated my Upromise account for Aidan. I wish I’d done it sooner. I also asked family to register their cards and such as well. Aidan thinks college is far, far away, but it really isn’t.

What else has been going on? OH! This is cool. Today, there were LOADS of packages for us at the UPS store. Three for me, one for Adam. Mine was volumes two and three of The Fuccons, and a Hidden Mickeys book (seriously, I can’t believe it took me so long to start ordering from the 2nd hand people on Amazon! Total of all that stuff was like $13!), and Adam got a pipe from his favorite author Daniel Pinkwater. He was soooo thrilled to get that thing, and I was thrilled for him. It was a total surprise, too. I mean, his favorite author sent him a pipe, so he can walk around pretending to be General MacArthur. So cute. That would be like Sarah Dessen sending me a stuffed Mickey Mouse or something. Can you imagine?

WHY is this summer speeding by so quickly? Seriously! OK, I mean, I am very thrilled that it’s only 12 days and 15 hours until I’m at Disney World, but still. This is crazy. I hope the winter is not too hard on us this year. But this summer’s been mild. Not a lot a really hot days, and no crazy humidity. It’s weird. I really don’t want a winter of -20 temps again.

Aidan seems to be doing very well with the bed-wetting alarm. Last night, he got up even before the alarm went off, and he woke up COMPLETELY dry this morning. (Sometimes he wakes up dry, but that’s because he wet earlier and it dried without him noticing.) The purpose of the alarm is to teach him to STOP and HOLD it either all night, or long enough to make it to the bathroom. I’d been walking him to the bathroom a few times a night, but there are flaws in that plan, the most obvious being that sometimes I got to him too late. And he’d be asleep, so he’d not remember any of it. He needs to be conscious of his bladder to control it. So far, so good. It’ll be slow going, but it can’t be any worse that what I was doing before.

I switched back to Firefox. I’d been using Flock for a while because Firefox was constantly crashing. But Flock started doing something weird with Flickr, and that got on my nerves pretty quickly. So, I’m trying out this latest Firefox to see what happens.

Things I have to do:

– check my mother in for her flight
– vacuum
– last minute laundry and cleaning
– get Mommy from the airport Wednesday morning
– hang out with Mommy for a week
– memory stick dumps
– pack for Disney World

Does anyone on here watch Make It or Break It? I seriously want to break Lauren’s (aka Evilina’s) face. But seeing Candace Cameron (Summer) is always good for the lulz. Her character is so GOOD and wholesome… it’s like Lauren’s purpose is to be someone for Summer to lecture with the slow Full House type music in the background. Ah, that’s ABC Family for ya. I still love the show. A soap opera about gymnastics? Oh yeah, baby.

OK, getting a bit tired. Dealing with sinus stuff and it’s making me feel all weird and lightheaded. See ya!

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Like A Flame You Must Be Wild (Pictures & Useless Rambling)

I had an awesome day Monday, July 27. The most important thing is that it was my and Adam’s first wedding anniversary. We’ve been married a year! :) A good year! During the year, I learned what it was like to have a husband’s 100% unconditional support. I learned what it was like to be spoiled rotten. I mean, I’ve never come home from work and had a cup of champagne rose tea waiting for me before. (Speaking of that tea, I need to get more. Where’d you get it again, Rosa?)

He indulges my doll habit. He sits through The O.C. with me, and laments about how dumb Marissa is. If I am the least bit irritated or uncomfortable, he does what he can to help me get better. I don’t think I do enough for him. I have to do more. ‘Cause I love him.

I was up pretty early this morning (well, early for me anyway). Adam came in and gave me a package–a thick envelope from M.E.I. Travel! Our Disney travel documents!!! YEA! When those things come… well, you know the trip is soon. And now we’re down to 19 days! But, in addition to the travel documents, luggage tags, etc., Suzy, my awesome travel agent, included some gifts. A Minnie Mouse antennae topper (which I can’t put on my car b/c kids in Chicago will steal it), a Peter Pan slap bracelet, and a lanyard for holding Keys to the World. I was thrilled to open that package!

Then, Adam took me to American Girl Place, and he bought me a doll and clothes for her. Then I talked him into letting me buy a doll for myself as well, so these two lovelies came home with me:

Peyton & Celeste

The one on the left is Peyton Elaine. She’s the one I paid for myself.
The one on the right is Celeste Rayn. She was my anniversary gift from Adam. Aren’t they cute? I could not decide between the two, even back when Adam told me weeks ago that he was going to take me to get a doll for our anniversary. I’m happy to have them both. :)

Spaghetti for dinner (Aidan had Ramen; he’s probably sick of spaghetti even though he cleans his plate and asks for seconds every time I make it), and a brownie/ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins and cranberry wine for dessert while watching Make It Or Break It on TiVo. Yeah, it was a good day.

I’ve been stocking up on pre-Disney stuff. It’s all in a cute little bag I got at The Disney Store. It’s a yellow bag with green seams, and the picture is of Mickey Mouse hugging Earth. In it, there is sunscreen, sunglasses for Aidan (they were $1.62 at The Disney Store!), ponchos, one of those spray bottles with a fan on it, Disney dollars for Aidan’s rewards, and other things of that sort.

Speaking of Aidan, isn’t he cute?

Cutie Aidan

Aidan, Wall•E, and Eve

He’s been doing MUCH better with bedtime stuff. I read him a chapter from Ramona the Brave every night before bed. I give him kisses and hugs. And no more nighttime yelling or crying. He does sleep under his covers, head and all, but Adam said he did the same thing when he was Aidan’s age. It makes Aidan sweat like mad, though. But if that’s what helps him cope, then….

Now we’re back to the regular problem of him wetting the bed at night. Accidentally, but still. It’s a pain in the butt. I have to get one of those waterproof covers asap. When we were in Iowa this weekend, Aunt Cindy gave me an alarm and some info about bed wetting and trying to stop it. I hope to God I put it in my suitcase and didn’t leave it in Iowa by mistake. It’s all great information and will really come in handy… provided I didn’t forget to bring it home! I’ve been taking him to the bathroom–but the problem is that I sometimes don’t get to him in time. And he’s already wet by the time I go to take him. The alarm seems like the best bet–I really hope I didn’t forget to pack it.

And another thing. I’ve been using EyeTV and moving the Disney videos to digital so I can make DVDs of them. It’s a LONG process. And I watch the videos as they’re being digitized. Aidan, at age two, did not listen to direction. There are so many times that Chris told him not to run off, and the next thing you know, Aidan is gone. I’m screaming at the tape “TURN THE CAMERA OFF AND GO GET HIM!!” I yelled at myself a few times, too. Ha. And I’m paying for it now. Adam and I are really trying to drive it into him that he needs to follow directions and do what we tell him. He seems to think that the things we say are optional, or he tries to flat out ignore us. Privileges get snatched away when he pulls that stuff. I can understand being really involved in TV or something, and needing to be called a few times to get his attention… but when he is spraying air freshener and I tell him to stop and he sprays again anyway? Oh hell to the no. I’m not having it. Right now it’s air freshener. What will it be in ten years? It’s best to nip that stuff in the bud right now.

It’s challenging still. Every day there is a new challenge… but every day there is a new joy, too.

ANYWAY, we did go to Iowa again over the weekend. Adam’s high school reunion, even though he officially graduated from high school in Georgia, he considers Urbandale his true class. Most of the people remembered him, too. It was nice to visit family as well. We had a picnic, and Uncle Pat managed to get a kite in the air.

Flying A Kite Flying A Kite
Flying A Kite
Uncle Pat, Turner, Aidan, Adam flying a kite

Aidan’s cousin Turner, who is nine, kept Aidan pretty busy. They pretty much entertained themselves which was really nice. I can see why parents have more than one kid! Not that we’re going to do that or anything. But I can see the advantage.

While we were there, Adam once again entertained the thought of moving to Iowa in a few years. I am on the fence. On the one hand, I didn’t realize how much my eyes crave seeing fields of grass, horses grazing, and tons of trees. When we were on our way to the picnic (and coming back), we’d pass these farms and things. You’d have thought my eyes were dying of farmland dehydration! I forgot how much I liked the country. I guess the grass is always greener, ’cause I bet I’d be craving the city once I moved to the country. Anyway…you can get cherry pies at McDonald’s in Iowa (and probably every other state except freaking Illinois). I love the slower pace, the reasonable cost of living, and the fact that the traffic lights and traffic patterns MAKE SENSE. And 6% sales tax! Such a far cry from Chicago’s 10.25% tax, plus tax on groceries, and the 13.25% sales tax on pop, and the bottled water tax and the breathing tax and the pooping tax and the…what was I saying?

Oh yeah. There are plenty of reasons to think about moving. In addition to the stuff I listed above, in Iowa, we’d stand some semblance of a chance of owning a house someday. In Chicago? Forget it. With properties averaging around $400K, and that’s not for freestanding. That’s for stuff attached to other people. Eff that. I don’t want to be stuck living next to some stark raving moron for 30+ years. No way. I mean, it’s not like we’ll be owning any property for about 10 years anyway unless one of us hits it big somehow, but it’s way more reasonable and feasible there.

However, there are a few drawbacks. I’ve mentioned the job thing before. There are magazines there, but what are the chances they’ll be hiring proofreaders? And it doesn’t seem very diverse, and I would like some diversity. It’s unnatural for me to go a whole weekend and not see any Latino or Asian people. There is always something to do in Chicago. It’s diverse. There is so much food to try and love. There is American Girl Place. And Michigan Avenue.

Oh well. There are years to think about such things.

Getting to Iowa was great. I slept the whole way there. But the trip back was awful. Well, not awful. Just annoying. There’s this long stretch of road on I-88 with NO rest stops or gas stations or ANYTHING. I mean, nothing. There are signs that imply businesses or something, but then you pull off onto the roads and there is nothing. So when Aidan had to potty, we had to pull over and let him whiz into the night air. And I was about to burst until we finally found a grocery store. I was sure they were going to be like “Um, this is for paying customers only. You need to buy something before you can use our bathroom.” But no such thing happened, thank goodness. It took ages to get home, though. Ugh. I do not like road trips… if I am awake for them.

I am trying to go natural with my hair again. It’s been almost 12 weeks with no relaxer. That’s not a huge accomplishment, though. I’ve gone 12 weeks before. I haven’t flat-ironed my hair or used a curling iron in weeks. I just let it air dry. It’s a challenge. But it’ll be nice to be at Disney World and not have to freak out about my hair if we get caught in a downpour. Not to mention not having to spend hundreds of dollars a year on relaxers.

My mom is coming to visit on August 5 through the 12. August is going to be a busy month for us. Mommy visit, Disney World, then Aidan goes back to Ohio. :( He starts school on the 26th! I mean, it’s already less than a month until he goes back. :( No fair. As hard as it is being a mommy some days, it’s harder when he is not here.

I guess that is all for now. I’m off to read and then go to sleep. Well, I’ll have a snack first. And some wine. Mmm cranberry wine. OK, good night.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

The Lazy Days of Summer

I don’t know about you, but for me, the summer is SPEEDING by. Why is it that winter drags and drags but summertime is gone in a blink? It makes me sad. I really do NOT want snow and ice and frigid cold. I am so OVER WINTER it’s not funny. Oh well, I still have at least four months to worry about that stuff.

I’ve been catching up with Kate Brian’s PRIVATE series. I’d started reading them when they first came yout ears ago (Columbus libraries are AWESOME about getting things in quickly) but lost interest in all the murdering and such. But I picked it back up recently from the Chicago library and I am hooked again. I just want poor Reed to catch a break. I finished Revelation today and now I’m reading Paradise Lost. I also have some Disney books to check out. The library had THREE 2009 guides available. That never happens.

Speaking of Disney, I am thrilled because they added another Spectromagic parade. I thought I’d have to miss it this year, but nope. They added on on August 16th and 11pm. During Extra Magic Hours. That means the park will be less crowded, the weather will be cooler and the parade MORE AWESOME. In addition, the crowd level predictions on touringplans.com are 5s and 6s. SO much better than the 7s and 8s I was anticipating. Now our biggest worry is the heat. But plenty of water should take care of that. You should see the spreadsheet I made!

Aidan’s getting really excited about Disney World. I’m tying it into the drama that we’ve been dealing with. I told him for every day that he’s good, and that he goes to bed and stays in bed (except to potty), he gets a Disney Dollar. That’s a potential $31 to spend on whatever he wants at Disney World. He already lost last night’s (we told him that we were using that dollar to pay for the laundry he peed on again), but so far so good tonight. Plus he tried zucchini, so that’s a bonus $1. So now he’s up to having earned $2. I also told him he can earn bonus bucks by doing special things that are extra good. There is a lot of stuff he wants, and I told him it’s up to him to earn the money to get it.

Tonight, I read him a chapter from Ramona the Brave. The chapter is called Alone in the Dark and it describes Ramona being scared to sleep in her own room. I saw so many of Aidan’s patterns in it, and he recognized himself in the narrative as well. I think that I will read Beverly Cleary books for child-rearing advice. It’s like she gets inside the kid’s heads in a way that I just… can’t.

That’s all for now.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Progress Report

So, tonight (last night?) went a LOT better. Earlier in the day, Adam and I laid down the law. (BTW Aidan woke up dry and happy.) He was going to bed at 9:30pm. He would go potty, get one story from mommy, and a DVD to watch. If he came out of his room for any reason other than to potty, first, the door would get closed. Then the light would go out. And then, no more TV.

He went into his room, no protests, and he was in a fairly good mood. No pouting, whining, etc. I went in and read him SkippyJon Jones in the Doghouse, and briefly wondered WTF the author was on when she wrote that, but went with it because Aidan was entertained and cute and cuddly. I hugged and kissed him and told him goodnight and that I loved him. He said goodnight back and told me he loved me too, and then he was engrossed by How The Grinch Stole Christmas. (Christmas in July, I suppose.) I left and there was no drama. I heard him playing and talking in other voices for a while. As long as he was in bed, I didn’t care. He was making up all sorts of adventures! And again, I can understand that tendency. Making up stories, especially at night? Wonder who he could have gotten that from?

He only called for me once, a little pitiful “Mommy, I’m scared.” I went in and told him he needed to get in the bed, gave him a funny book (Hippos Go Beserk) and told him to read that. He’d already ready SkippyJon Jones in the Doghouse again, and he tried to get me to read him another book (Puff the Magic Dragon). I told him no, we had agreed on only one story. And to be honest, if he’s really all that scared, I didn’t want to be reading to him about dragons, no matter how harmless/cute they are. That’s a middle-of-the-day book!

Anyway, he sniffled a bit, but by then, I was out of his room. Probably not even 20 minutes later, he was asleep. I just took him to go potty, and he was dry and totally out of it, as per the usual. I enjoy telling him about the silly things he does in his sleep when I take him to go potty in the middle of the night.

I’m torn between knowing how far he is playing me and how scared he really is. I remember being mostly scared of demons, devils, anything to do with hell. There are still shows I won’t watch because of it. But this kid was watching that part in Mickey’s Christmas Carol (YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT) at age four, while I wasn’t able to watch it until I was 32! He rode Haunted Mansion when he was two! He and his dad used to sit and watch scary movies every Halloween, and they used to watch CSI together. Hmm, maybe that’s part of the problem now…his imagination is so fantastical, and he’s so jumpy these days. It worries me how much he’ll be able to take at Disney World, where every dark ride has a bit of spookiness in it. He’s even scared of 3D shows. But he likes Scooby-Doo. It’s really confusing.

I was playing the Sims tonight again, and another Sim died. This time he was beside me. He likes to watch it with me, but I now know NOT to go to the parks when he is watching me play, because that’s where all the deaths seem to happen! He immediately knew what was happening even before I did and jumped down. I turned the sound down on the computer and told him to stay away until it was gone. He kept assuring me over and over that he was OK. Adam was all “I gotta see this!” Tonight, three Sims died while I was playing. That’s a record for me.

ANYWAY.

We also started giving him chores to do. Now, anytime I ask him to help me clean or to pick up his toys, he does a scarily thorough job of it and he’s so agreeable about it. He also does a great job on cleaning his room, which I make him do about once a week, more often if it gets really out of control. I wonder if there needs to be something more, and if so, what?

This is quite the learning experience. If I ever have another child (which is really not likely to be honest), I will refer back to these entries because I’ve gotten a lot of good advice. And also just to remember what it’s like.

The next on the list is the eating habits, which I’ve gotten good advice for as well. Making meal time traumatic or a battlefield is not what I want to do, but he really can’t eat only chicken fries and macaroni and cheese and Froot Loops all the time. That’s not going to fly during lunch time at school when there isn’t really a lot of choice in what you get whether you take lunch or buy it. No teacher is going to be warming up chicken nuggets for him during lunch. He doesn’t seem to get that.

The eating thing is another thing he got from me, I’m afraid. I have very weird eating habits and patterns. Adam is always on me about not eating enough, or eating well enough. You all know my obsession with spaghetti and how I can eat it for two weeks straight. Aidan’s the same way. He knows what he likes and he sticks to it. On the one hand, I can’t fault him for that. But on the other hand, he’s going to have to be willing to try new things. I have my favorites, but I’m usually willing to give something new a shot. You just never know what happiness for your taste buds is waiting to be discovered!

Thanks for reading my entries and for your input. The good little boy I know and love is still here, and I am NOT looking forward to August 23 at ALL, even with these bumps in the road.

XOXO

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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