April 26, 2012

My favorite heirloom

With my father being an only child, we three kids were the only grandchildren on his side. Right after Jrex and I married, my grandfather, who lived in a retirement community, moved from his two room suite down to the health center. Of the three grandchildren, I was the only one in a house at the time, so he shipped me all his furniture with instructions to pass stuff along to OTRbro and sis when appropriate. (They've never wanted what he left for them...)

Amidst the desk, dresser, side tables and file cabinet was the "Dog's Head Chair". As a little girl visiting them in Florida, I was fascinated by the chair with it's carved hound heads for hand rests. I used to pet the dog foreheads and feel their carved ears and lips.

When my Dad came to visit us after the furniture arrival, he sat in the chair and sighed, "I always thought this would come to me, but now it's passed me by." Of course I told him to take it home with him! He laughed and said, "No, I'll enjoy it when I come to visit you."

For the past fifteen years it's continued to reign in our various living rooms. The upholstery from my Grandmother's era tattered and the seat began to sag. Since moving it here to Dallas, I've become more and more nervous that anyone heavier than Mom K might fall through the seat. I'd hoped to wait to reupholster it until we got our kid (kids?) past the toddler phase, but it became obvious that it couldn't make it.

After finding an upholsterer, I dove into a local fabric store. What a fun excursion that was! Row after row of gorgeous fabrics. Jrex was home with the baby so I sent text messages with pictures so he could help me decide. When he left it up to me to pick between two options, I grabbed an older woman who worked in the store. She shook her head and pointed to a burly guy, "He's the one who knows what goes with what, ask him." With his help, I made a decision. It's really scary to pick a fabric that should last for the next 20-30 years!

Today the woman from the upholster called to say the chair was ready. She then added, "That is a beautiful chair! Wherever did you find it?!"

"My Grandfather was a small town newspaper publisher and ended up visiting many people's houses in the course of his job. He happened to see the chair frame in someone's attic and bought it for $20 bucks. My Grandmother had it upholstered and we've had it ever since."

Anyway, the chair came back today. What do you think?

April 24, 2012


I'm rehearsing. Running scenarios in my mind. Trying to anticipate the worst case/best case possibilities. Writing lists of what we'll need.

Brex and I are flying to California on Saturday.

One of my climbing partners, Petite Slovakian is getting married the following Saturday. We're staying with Lovey and Dovey (and their baby girl!!!). On Monday and Tuesday I'll go into the office while Lovey's nanny watches Brex. Wednesday I get to go back to my beloved hairdresser (though I don't yet have a plan for what to do with the baby during the hair appointment...uh oh...), then take the baby into the office to show him off, then pick up Jrex at the airport. Thursday is the bridal shower with Petite Slovakian's family from Europe. Friday we get to head over to the east Bay for the rehearsal and wedding on Saturday. It's going to be busy! I'm also packing in lots of time with friends.

The issue is that it's my first time traveling with a baby. I was all set to just use the Beco baby carrier and keep everything streamlined, but a few days ago I noticed a lump in my stomach. I think my hernia is back! Ugh. So now I think I have to bring the stroller cause it will be painful to have him resting on the hernia all day. Our stroller is wonderful, but it's not small. I've heard I can just roll it up to the gate and check it there and then pick it up after the flight. Is that true? It'll allow me to put my laptop bag and his diaper bag in the stroller cargo hold and make airport life SO much easier.

After reading various advice for traveling with a baby I bought two new books and a new chew blanket for him to explore on the plane. We're sitting on the aisle. I have a nursing cover. As far as I can tell, the bases are covered, but it's just too easy to slip into fretting.

My biggest worry? Getting from the luggage pickup to the car rental place. Given stroller and suitcase management, I've thought about taking a cab to the rental place. If I did that, we wouldn't have a car seat so I don't think it's legal? Anyone have suggestions?

The other fun dynamic is that I get to be the person I used to dread. We've all done it: looked around the gate area and prayed we wouldn't be sitting next to the baby. Now the baby part will be my fault. AND he's teething so he's just not his best version of himself these days. I'm hoping he'll be a cute, laughing chunky monkey, but am trying to be ok if he's not. I'm also not sure how to handle his nap on the plane. I guess I can ask if there are empty seats and maybe switch my seat so I have an empty one where I could put him to sleep? If not, he's never fallen asleep in my arms so that could be interesting.

The third dread is sound effects. Not the ones that come from normal bodily functions. Those are to be expected. No, my crazy kid has two lovely sounds that I'm afraid to hear on the plane. Sometimes when he's nursing he'll start to do a rhythmic sigh that sounds very 'happy'. It'll certainly make it seem like we're working the Oedipal angle! Then, just last week he figured out how to GASP and make a really loud sound that apparently is hysterically funny to him. He likes to do it over and over, which is cute when you can see the big grin on his face, but sounds a lot like crying when you're two rows away from it. Watch, with my luck I'll be getting the stink eye for having a cheerful baby!

In honor of the trip, I finally got around to decorating his helmet. Of course, I didn't prep the plastic properly, so much of this first round rubbed off within 48 hours. I had to sand it, apply plastic primer, repaint it and then do three layers of topcoat to make it durable. It's still off-gassing a little, but hopefully the brain damage will be minimal. 

April 17, 2012

We're going to make it...

When I went to pick up Brex yesterday, she wasn't talking to me. I couldn't tell if there was just a lot going on with the other Moms and kids as she kept turning to one of them to talk. I watched the kids and joined in the general conversation, but after a while I jokingly asked, "Are you not talking to me now?"

She sighed, "I guess I will. I can't believe you're going to take him away from us! He better get that helmet off before he goes so we can love on him." I assured her he would and then explained the situation to the other Moms.

It is a tough decision, but it feels like the right one.

On a different topic, this weekend we did a double date with Two Mommies from daycare. They brought their little boy over and we had Baby Whisperer from daycare take care of them while we went to see The Hunger Games. I was the only one who'd read the book. When the credits were rolling, Ops Mom said, "Is the book this tense?" I laughed, "It's worse because it's all so mental and you're in their heads."

On the way back to the house, we stopped at a local market and each couple bought a dinner for two. Then we came back and ate dinner while the boys slept upstairs. They are a fun couple. At one point Ops Mom asked, "OTRgirl, is your husband always this quiet?" I laughed and said, "Definitely. In a group setting he is usually quiet and then we leave and he has all these insights and I'm like, 'why didn't you SAY that?'." Jrex also laughed and was ready to answer questions when Ops Mom asked him about his work.

We found out from Ops Mom that there's a PUBLIC Montessori elementary/middle school in our neighborhood. It's one of the top ranked schools in the state. Having gone to a public Montessori myself, I'm ecstatic! I believe deeply in it as a way to allow school to remain fun, engaging, non-boring and self-directed, especially for smart kids. She said it's a bit of a lottery to get in, but given Brex's Asian heritage, we'd likely be guaranteed a spot in the name of diversity. It looks like they have mostly Black and Hispanic kids with 12% Caucasian and 2% Asian. It's pretty cool that we now have two wonderful elementary/middle school options. His neighborhood school has a bilingual immersion program that's supposed to be amazing, and now a public Montessori. My parents made the leap to move to the inner city and trust that God would provide educational options for their kids. Two years before I started elementary school, a public Montessori was founded, so He came through in the nick of time! We also took a leap into this neighborhood not knowing if the schools were very good. (Do I sound excited? Just a bit...)

April 16, 2012

Today's email exchange

Hey Ms G,

We just found out that Brex has been given a spot at Call1er Center starting August 1st. I think I mentioned that we were on the waiting list when you and I first talked about Brex coming to [Daycare Name]. It was a tough decision whether to accept or not because we've loved the personal attention and love he's received from you, B, My Belle and Baby Whisperer. The main factors are that Call1er will continue until he goes to kindergarten and it allows Jrex to be more involved in Brex's weekday world. They also only do this one major admission; if we refused it, there's no guarantee there'd be spots for him in the preschool segment.

Like I said, it's been a really difficult decision. It sounds funny, but thank you for making it so tough! Before knowing [Daycare Name], I'd assumed it would be an easy yes if he got into Call1er. Instead we've been so happy with his day care that it was hard to decide to move him. You've given so much attention, love, concern, wisdom and baby savvy that you've made it very easy to go back to work and not feel worried or guilty. On a personal level, I'll miss the easy walk down to your house and the 'hen fests' at the end of the day. We'll have to swing by some Fridays just to say hello!


Ms G

I guess if you were here I'd stick my tongue out at you because it isn't happy news for those of us who are really attached to him. Crum. I suppose it's too late to offer to keep him until he's ready for college? I better go outside and pout while pulling weeds. I do remember you had mentioned being on the waiting list, but hoped it wouldn't be any time soon.


Yeah, it's such a mixed bag emotionally. You are completely free to stick out your tongue at me! We were far enough down the list that I thought it was a long shot to get in.



So, the decision is made. Now I just have to endure snide remarks for a few months. It will definitely be hard to take him away from the other kids and the nurture he's received. Personally, I'll most miss Baby Whisperer trimming his nails. I haven't had to cut his nails since January 1st and he never scratches himself because she is able to cut them so close. Such a small yet important service.

Thank you all for your advice and feedback, it helped a lot. I liked the suggestion to get a nice gift for her before leaving. I'll give it to her at the end of July.

April 9, 2012

We need more advice

Your advise on the helmet dilemma was great, so now I'm asking for feedback on our next 'big' decision.

To switch Brex's daycare center or not?

Current situation
He's in a small house down the street (not this house, but one similar in size). There are three caretakers and 11 children. The kids are all happy and well-behaved; even the rowdy boys are managed well and learn to be gentle and not throw, hit, or climb all over the furniture.

Of course, that happens because the woman who runs the daycare is a control freak.

It must be said that her rigidity helps create a predictable environment and the kids obviously feel safe there. What bothers me more is how she personalizes things that have nothing to do with her. One day I arrived to pick up Brex and she told me the baby was angry with her since he'd been crying on and off since waking up from his nap at 4 pm. Since I'd brought the stroller so I could take a long walk with him, I took him over to change his diaper in case it was dirty. He had a poopy diaper. It didn't smell at all so it was an understandable oversight, but... if the kid is crying don't you do the hungry/tired/dirty/gassy rundown before assuming he's MAD at you? I don't think 6-month old babies know how to hold grudges.

I think I've also mentioned she calls him spoiled? She says that on Mondays he acts like he doesn't want to be a daycare baby. Well, we're beginning to suspect he's an introvert like his Dad, so being in a small room with a bunch of other kids is likely a bit difficult after a relatively solitary weekend.

To be fair, she has a LOT of know how and years of experience. They are wonderful about trimming his nails, washing dirty laundry, dealing with his cloth diapers and breastfeeding issues, teaching him to eat solid food, potty training the older kids, etc. Included at no charge are clothing changes, organic breakfast, lunch and snack, formula and diapers. No other day care does that.

Our New Possibility

Brex has been offered an opening at the Call1er Center which is at Jrex's work. It's a wonderful, new building directly on his way to lab. They have 3 workers per 8 infants. Each year they admit 24 kids who split into three cohorts. The workers remain with the infants in their cohort for the first two years, after that, the kids 'graduate' to the preschool program. The kids admitted in August are all born in the previous year (it's one of the deals where you sign up while you're still pregnant), so the age range will be almost one year olds (Brex) down to 6-week old babies. He'll go from being one of the youngest to being one of the oldest in the room. They support cloth diapers and giving the kids breastmilk, so that won't change.

The preschool program has some Montessori principles (they don't force the kids to all do the same thing at the same time); there's room for self-driven activities. With indoor and outdoor activity areas, there's lots of chances to get out energy in positive ways. The preschool program also includes field trips to the zoo, the aquarium, etc. Another really cool feature is that the preschool program includes deaf kids. He'll learn a little sign as well as learning about different abilities.

What are my hesitations about moving him?
  • Time
    If Jrex drives Brex to and fro, I'll never see my baby during the week. That makes me want to cry. If I drive him in the morning (most likely scenario) I could leave at 8:45 and get him there at 9 and then Jrex brings him home by 7 pm. The problem is that Brex's natural bedtime seems to be 7 pm so that won't be in the baby's best interests. After 15 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, I know despite every good intention to bring the baby home earlier, it would be a huge challenge to get away in time to make that happen (often through no fault of his own). If I drive Brex to and fro at both ends, I lose an hour a day to commuting. Also, since my company is on Pacific Time, it helps if I get extra time at the end of the day.

    There's a guy with a little girl down the street who works at UT. Me being me, I'm planning to knock on his door to see if he might be up for a car pool. He brings his daughter home around 5 pm most days (I met them while walking Brex home). If he could bring Brex home earlier than Jrex would be able to, that would solve a lot. (The question about enabling a workaholic is one that I'm OBVIOUSLY not addressing here! ;-) )

  • Cost
    It's $200 more a month. Doable, but painful. The good thing is that the tuition drops by $100 each year as the kids get older since the teacher/student ratio is higher for the toddlers.

  • Friends
    His current daycare is all local moms and kids. At Call1er he'll get to know the children of his father's peers, but I've heard from another Mom with two kids there that she hasn't gotten to know any of the other parents. We're going out next weekend with one of the other couples from his current daycare, most Fridays there's a 'hen fest' (Ms G's term) with a bunch of parents sitting and talking about what they're doing for the weekend. Through the other parents I hear about local events and feel connected to the neighborhood. Of course, that also adds to my small town claustrophobia. Ms G being one of the BIGGEST gossips I've met doesn't help...

  • X-factors
    Better the devil you know? I'm guessing that they'll be less controlling, but I could be wrong. She only does up to 3-year olds so I'd have to find another preschool option for him. I'm also a little nervous to tell her we're 'rejecting' her and moving Brex somewhere else. I don't want to create bad blood with someone who is deeply entrenched in the area and who obviously has some interesting emotional filters (though that's also part of why I'd like to create a little distance).

So, what say you? Is it worth the extra time with him and the easy commute to deal with someone who irritates me? Is the grass just greener in the unknown "new" pasture? Am I being the control freak? We have to send our answer by Monday, so it's a fast yes or no decision.

April 4, 2012

Hold 'er Newt, she's a rarin'!

I have no idea what that quote means, but my Dad used to say it all the time and it seems appropriate after yesterday. For those of you who don't know, yesterday was a basis for the phrase, "Lord willin' and the crick don't rise" cause it sure did rise!

I'd just finished a conference call with the design studio when the dog started whining and shaking. She usually does that when she hears thunder, so she's become my early warning system that a storm is coming. In the distance, I thought I heard a really loud fire truck. We also had guys from the roofing company who were here to replace some rotten boards on the front porch (covered in their 10-year warranty). Perhaps all of that was making the dog anxious. Going out to the front porch, I realized it wasn't a fire engine, the sound continued and was obviously the tornado warning system. My neighbor came out and looked around, "I don't see anything! What are they running that for, I thought the storm was south of us."

Bringing the dog in and turning on the radio, I was shocked to hear that there was a confirmed tornado in a town just south of us that was heading north and due to arrive in 12-minutes. I ran out to tell the guys to get off the roof and take cover. They acknowledged me and one of them began cleaning up while the other guy just worked a little faster to finish the roof.

I came back inside and grabbed a bunch of pillows from the daybed then set up a nest for the dog and me in our first floor powder room. It's the only room in the house without windows. Our whole house is raised up on a post and beam foundation so even being in the powder room didn't feel that safe. My phone started ringing with family and friends calling to make sure I was safe. They all asked about the baby. I'd just assumed that Miss G at the daycare is an old hand at dealing with this sort of thing and it hadn't occurred to me to even call her. After continuing to listen to the radio (via a live stream in iTunes on my laptop. We're not in 1978 Cincinnati anymore, Muttola.) and getting more emails, I finally caved and emailed Miss G:

Subject: Trying not to call
Email: So many people are calling to ask if we're ok and if the baby is fine that I just wanted to check in.

She emailed back that Brex was happily asleep and she had the older kids playing in the tub and was watching the news to see if she needed to wake the babies and put them in the other tub.

Despite the chaos to the west and south of us, in our immediate area we only experienced a long thunderstorm. The guys even finished the porch before the rain hit. Heck, we didn't even get hail (NOT complaining at all!).

Aside from droopy roses, we're fine, the house is fine, our neighborhood is fine. The dog? Well she might have a little PTSD.