Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The girls woke up from their nap early. Feh.

HOWEVER. They were in much better spirits for the rest of the day. I think Grace just needed a good, solid nap, which she also got (she's in her room for three hours, but she usually only sleeps for one or two and spends the rest of the time playing in her crib; today she started screeching bloody murder after two hours, but I'm pretty sure she slept the whole time).

My attitude didn't turn around until a while later. I can be so petty. With my children. Babies. Grow up, you old hag, I keep muttering to myself.

We also turned Emmy's pack 'n' play for the night so the side with the curtain (or whatever it's called) would block her view of Grace's crib.

Like a charm. Asleep within twenty minutes. Grace woke up screaming once for a diaper change, but Emmy didn't even stir. Silence ever since (except for Grace muttering happily to herself in her crib for a little while).

Sigh. My moods are too easily subject to my children's.

Cross-posting from my Tightwad Blog:

Dear sister, I know you will laugh at this post. But don't make fun of me too much until you see my hair.

I'll never have fabulous hair, but this is the most fabulous it's ever been in my entire life. It's kind of a pain in the rear since I have to rinse it forever and a day, lest I smell like vinegar. But I consider it worth it. My hair not only looks better, but it's softer, shinier, and it does the things I tell it to. It curls and stays curled, I pin it up, and it stays up, I leave it down, and it does not plaster itself to my head like a hungover eel.

So! Here it is.

Step One: Baking soda.
  • Keep a cup (16 oz) in the shower. Before you get in, put in 2 Tbsp of baking soda. In the shower, fill the cup and mix until the baking soda is dissolved (I use the end of my razor handle).
  • Pour in sections over your dry head. I'd like to get a squeeze bottle to do this, but so many of them have really narrow necks. This method is time-consuming enough that I really don't feel like bringing a funnel into the whole business as well.
  • Rub into scalp, then rinse thoroughly.
Step Two: Vinegar.
  • Optional: Pour about 1 tsp of honey into the cup. My hair comes out shinier and sweeter-smelling when I use this.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of your choice of vinegar into the cup. I use apple cider vinegar. I've heard of people using pomegranate vinegar and others. I'm sure just about anything would smell better than ACV (except maybe white vinegar). Fill the rest of the way with water and mix again.
  • Pour in sections over your head, work into hair, and rinse thoroughly. Very, very thoroughly. And then rinse some more. If you're still unsure, rinse a little bit more.
I won't lie; it's a pain in the rear. But I find it's well worth it. No more money spent on expensive, clarifying shampoos whenever my fine hair gets tired of the buildup. No more greasy hair days. No more bad hair days, period (so far). And even though my hair will probably never be the type that can go for a day without washing, and I am pretty sure I will never be able to go vinegar-only (some people do! and I've seen pictures! and it looks good! I'm amazed; I tried it once, and I looked like something fresh from a Sunnydale graveyard), my hair is far, far less greasy than it ever has been before. By bedtime, it used to be showing already. Now it doesn't look terrible until at least the next morning.

To be honest, it's probably not much of a money savings. I have (used to have) a taste for expensive shampoos and conditioners, but I could make them last foreeeever. A tankard of Aveda shampoo and conditioner can last me at least two years. That's about two dollars a month. A gallon of apple cider vinegar lasts about two months, and the cost of baking soda is negligible. Honey is a bit pricier, but we use so little, and we buy it in the gigantic jugs (I use it in just about everything The Child eats that's sweetened). This gets us about three cents a day. Yaaay!

This brings me to my next point.

For the longest time, it's been hard for me to get motivated to save money because I haven't ever thought to tie it to something concrete. We're only saving twelve dollars a year by doing this, but twelve dollars is a movie ticket. We love the movies! And we never get to go! Before, I would have seen that twelve dollars and thought, "Pssssh. Totally not worth the self-denial."

But it IS.

I love how I'm learning delayed gratification at 28.

(If you listen closely, you'll hear my siblings and parents snickering into their sleeves. Li'l Naomi done growed up. Kind of.)

Mother of the Year, right here

Oh my goodness. I am so frustrated with The Child I could scream.

She's needy. Needy, needy, needy. Not just needy for a human being. Needy for a toddler. The way to help her has always been to shower her with affection until she feels safe. Well, that doesn't appear to be working this time. I can't do anything without her tugging on my pant leg and crying, "Want pick you up please? Want pick you up please? Want pick you up please?" All day. Every day.

She won't eat anything except cereal (Cheerios or Kashi), oatmeal, and other grain products. Once every other day or so, she'll deign to try three bites of something else, but otherwise she's living on air, starch, and fiber. It's making me crazy. I couldn't care less what she eats (so long as it's not junk), but I'm sure low blood sugar is contributing to her constant crankiness. She'll ask for something for lunch (one of the number one tricks I've been taught is to offer toddlers choices about as many things as you can), and I'll make it for her, and she refuses it. So she goes hungry because I'm not her waitress.

I am angry at her about half the day, and I feel guilty about feeling so angry the other half of the day. It's exhausting.

This might be easier to handle if she hadn't improved so dramatically in the weeks before we moved. She was eating just about everything we put in front of her. She was happy about 95% of the time.

We've lived here for weeks. Please tell me that it's totally normal for a toddler to take a long time to settle in to a new home.

And please tell me that she and Emmy will get used to sleeping in the same room someday soon. They don't stay awake and scream; they stay awake and laugh (thank goodness). But neither of them is getting enough sleep. We don't have the space to separate them.

We've had good days since we moved, don't get me wrong. Today is not one of those days. And when I'm stuck in the middle of one of these days, it always seems like there's no end in sight to this behavior.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Jeremy and I have been watching Grace and Emmy learn to love each other. It's so comical and sweet and endearing. They shriek with joy at each other morning, noon, and night. I had to go back to having them nap separately because they would just stand in their cribs and laugh at each other until they got cranky and overtired and started screaming. If either one is hurt and cries, the other one usually starts crying, too.

The other night in the car, after we'd stayed at the restaurant a little too long, Emmy was working herself up to a rage fit on the way back to the hotel. Grace leaned over, stretched out her hand, and said, "Hey hey hey," the same way I do when Emmy falls and bumps her head, and I'm bending down to pick her up.

I've made up bedtime songs for both girls. Not really intentionally. They just sort of happened. Neither one is sophisticated or even terribly original, but each daughter has one of her own. Grace's is markedly more interesting and melodic. If we have a child or two more, the last one will be stuck with grunts and jazz hands.

But it goes like this: "Emmeline, Emmeline, I love you, Emmeline, you're so sweet, Emmeline, I love you."

Tonight Emmy was fighting sleep harder than usual. There was more fussing after we put her down than there has been in a while (they mostly just laugh until they pass out an hour or so later). Jeremy came running into our room a few minutes ago and gestured me over. We leaned our ears against the door to the girls' room to hear Grace singing (tunelessly), "Emmeline, you're so sweet, Emmeline, Emmeline, you're so sweet, Emeline, love you, you're so sweet, Emmeline," over and over. She kept it up for at least twenty minutes, maybe half an hour.

They say kids don't learn things like (real, unselfish) love and empathy until they're much older, but I don't buy it. These two are nuts about each other.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Let me count the ways

Dear Utah:

I love you. I love you so much it borders on *idolatry.

I love mountains.

I love the grocery store one block from my house that has a produce section the size of the one in Woodman's and a bulk foods section the size of the produce section back in Jefferson. I love that a pound of ORGANIC raw sugar costs half what REGULAR raw sugar costs there.

I love that the city planners were geniuses, and I can get almost anywhere in the city within 20 minutes. Also, the grid system. Brilliant!

I love that this weather is considered unusually cold.

I love the millions of good consignment stores here. Thrift stores JUST for kids' stuff. Barely-used high-quality cloth diapers for $4.

I love this apartment. Just about everything about it, so I won't bore you with my mile-long list.

What don't I love?


Stompy upstairs neighbors (we'll get used to it).

Our mailbox is across the complex.

As is the recycling dumpster.

And the regular dumpster.


I suppose if Utah were perfect, I'd become spoiled. It's close enough to perfect for me.

*Dear church ladies, and maybe my dad: Not really! Hyperbole!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Today is ever so much better

I would love to take the girls swimming during the day, but doing it by myself kind of scares me. Emmy would happily drown herself if I didn't duct tape her to my hands, and Grace is terrified of water any deeper than six inches. Might as well be acid. I'm going to take her swimming a lot next summer. Our pool is open 24 hours, and one-on-one, I'm not worried. I just can't imagine keeping track of both of them in such a dangerous place. I know I probably sound overly paranoid, but I almost drowned as a kid, and despite my love of swimming, I've never completely gotten over my fear of water, either. Especially not when my kids are involved.

We went and saw our new apartment last night. Well, it was a different apartment, same floor plan.


As much counter space as the kitchen in our house, lengthwise. But it's about a foot deeper. And granite. And the microwave is mounted over the stove, so that's an extra 4-5 sq feet (because our microwave sat in the corner on a diagonal, and that whole corner was unusable for any practical purpose, not because we had a microwave the size of a Panzer). A dishwasher! A pantry! A refrigerator that will hold more than a carton of eggs and a turnip! Drawers that roll easily! Cupboards that shut! No blasted radiators to lose peas and onion skins under!

If the rest of our apartment were a garbage heap, the kitchen alone would still make me happy.

The master bath has a gigantic tub. Okay, I've seen bigger, nicer tubs, but for an apartment, it's pretty spacious. I could fit in there sideways while pregnant with Grace, which is more than I can say for most other tubs (and doorways and grocery store aisles) in existence.

Walk-in closets in each bedroom.

Directly across the street from Jeremy's work and within walking distance of one of the best grocery stores in the area (or so I'm told--it's WinCo).

The girls have been sleeping like little champions since I last wrote. And I think they may just be good enough to nap in the same room together. I think I'll try it tomorrow. I've been skipping Emmy's morning nap. She's on the verge of giving it up, and while she might be a little crankier toward afternoon naptime, she sleeps much better and longer, and is happier overall. Plus, if they nap in the same room, it may buy me a few extra minutes while they cackle at each other after waking up.

Right now Emmy is awake in there, talking to herself and blowing bubbles and thumping around the crib. I suspect she's practicing walking. She takes a step or two at a time all day long, but I still wouldn't call her a walker. She's so, so close, though. Earlier today, she walked halfway across the living room before face-planting, but I haven't seen that feat repeated.

I should get her up soon, but it's too much fun to listen to her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The rest of the story... so far.

Okay, so. Saturday morning. We woke up an hour later than planned. Oops. It worked out fine, though; I somehow got everything organized and ready to go in the time it took Jeremy to take a shower. All he had to do was pack the suitcase.

A friend from the Internet very kindly offered to come help us get from the hotel to the airport. She called my cell phone while I was in the middle of wrestling with feeding Emmy, so Jeremy answered. Friend was a little shocked; turns out she had thought I was by myself with two kids.

Oops. Again. I felt like a jerk, but it was still nice to meet her. And she really was a big help--both in helping us get stuff loaded, getting the packed luggage cart through the tiny doorways of the Marriott ResidenceInn in Rosemont (which, by the way, is not as nice as it sounds; broken door handle in one room, and wireless you have to pay extra for), getting everything loaded on the shuttle, wrangling children, and putting my mind at ease after the ordeal of our first trip through O'Hare. We made it to our gate an hour and a half early.

Almost no screaming on the flight from either child, very little crying, but a lot of whining from The Child. Rationally, I know that all this was extremely hard on her, but it's hard to keep a hold on that thought when your kid is driving you up the wall. Emmy slept half the way and laughed the other half. Both of them charmed the flight attendants, who were, by the way, the nicest flight attendants ever in history. We sat at the very back of the plane. The bathroom traffic and smell was a totally acceptable tradeoff for the engine noise that lulled Emmy into a deep, deep sleep and drowned out Grace's whining.

Speaking of which, she refused to sleep on the plane for even a minute. But she was sound asleep in the stroller by the time we got to the baggage claim. Poor thing. I walked her in circles for half an hour while Jeremy got the rental and loaded our luggage. My calves are still sore (I had Emmy on my back, too).

The kids have taken pretty well to sharing a room. Emmy screams vehemently for a few minutes, then passes out, and Grace has hardly peeped. The first night, Emmy screamed off and on for an hour. Maybe more. The same for her naps yesterday. Last night, she screamed halfheartedly for about 32 seconds and passed out. For her afternoon nap today, she kept it up for only 20 minutes (though I was certain it would be 45 minutes).

Yes, I know it sounds horribly cruel. But this baby is stubborn. She's not actually distressed and unable to sleep. She's screaming in order to keep herself awake. She did the same thing as a newborn, even when I was holding her in my arms. I would watch her hold out for half an hour or better sometimes. Eyes drift shut, head shake, maybe some crying, over and over again. I didn't even know newborns could do that.

Today has been much better than yesterday. Yesterday both kids were still terribly sleep deprived and disoriented. Today they're pretty well-rested and getting used to the hotel room. It's been pleasant.

Right now I'm starving but too afraid to order food, lest it wake the beast. Emmy finally gave up fighting sleep, and I have only a few minutes before Grace wakes up from her nap. I love this hotel room, except for one thing: the doors to the bedroom aren't like real doors. They're narrow double doors that swing together. And there's a quarter-inch gap between them and between them and the floor. So you can hear everything from room to room. Genius.

It's probably just as well. Ruby Tuesday delivers here (there's no room service), and I would order a ribeye every other hour if I could.

Tonight we're going to find a mall and walk around for a long time. We didn't pack warm enough clothes to go for walks outside (too bulky and too many other necessities for such a long stay). I also want to check out more consignment shops. I am now bent on getting Emmy a booster chair. And we need something to put on the carpet under our table, since I don't think the apartment owners will appreciate Emmy's penchant for knocking anything and everything off her tray (for such a physically adept child, she's awfully clumsy).

Also, we just found out that we'll definitely be here at least until the 7th. As happy as I am about ordering ribeyes to my ever-growing heart's content, being trapped in a hotel room all day is hardly on my list of favorite things ever. It would be different if Jeremy were here, but he has to go to work (we both decided it would be better if he dove right into work this week--both to save his days off and to make a good impression). So, any of you have any brilliant suggestions on what to do with two very small children in a hotel room all day?

We're here*

*Don't worry; all is well now! The girls settled into the new room well last night, and we all got some good sleep. And even the chaos of the last couple of days wasn't that bad. I was too excited to get too down about anything.

Wow, it's been a while. Again with the Full Brain Syndrome.

But we are safely on the other side. One last hurdle: moving in and unpacking. Right now we're staying in a hotel while Jeremy's job pays for meals, our room, rental car, and gas. Once the movers are here and our apartment is ready, we are good to go. I'm not sure I want to leave, though. I like not having to cook.

Friday was not fun. It was supposed to go like this:

I spend the night at my friend's house on Thursday with the girls. I stay there, keeping them to their regular schedule as much as possible, until the movers are almost done.

I go back up to Jefferson around 2. That's when the movers are supposed to be done, and that's when the tow truck is supposed to arrive for our cars. That's also when our van driver is supposed to get there to take us down to Chicago.

No. Here's how it really went:

After a late night with the girls, who would NOT fall asleep (since when have either of them been so sensitive to their surroundings?), I get a call from Jeremy at 8. The tow truck driver was there for our cars.

So I got ready as fast as I could, got the girls up, gave Emmy a bottle, and threw some Cheerios at Grace on the way home. The van driver got there around noon. The movers didn't have our stuff packed until almost 6. We and the girls spent the entire day standing around in a cold house while strange men hauled away our stuff into a gigantic truck. You can imagine how Grace felt about this. She handled it better than I would have expected, but it still wasn't fun. Emmy passed out on my back for about twenty minutes, but Grace didn't sleep at all until we got to the hotel.

Oh, the hotel. The girls slept in the same room for the first time ever and did pretty well after the first hour or so.

It was New Year's Eve. People were lighting off fireworks. I heard the police knock on the door across the hall once. People ran up and down the halls half the night. Jeremy snored blissfully through all of it, as did the girls. Me? I laid in bed getting angrier and angrier at Jeremy for breathing and moving and EXISTING. It's a good thing I have the ability to recognize when I'm being irrational and should just move to the couch.

Shoot. Need to go. Children need tending.