Surprise, Surprise.

I came home yesterday to an awesome, wonderful surprise.  But first, the background story…

Ben and I often visit Ikea when we’re back in Pittsburgh or in Cincinnati to get decorating ideas, daydream, or purchase cheap organization.  While we were there the last time I saw a living room I really liked – it had awesome storage, it was streamlined, and best of all there was a ‘discussion area’ instead of every seat in the room pointed towards the TV.  I bemoaned the fact that our living room could never look like that because it was too cluttered, not set up well, and it would cost a fortune to redo.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in the door from work last night and was greeted with a completely rearranged living room.  The main focus was taken from the TV and directed more to the middle of the room where he put the bookshelf and some art, as well as the opposite side of the room where  the large cube display stand went.  Ben wiped everything down as he moved it, vacuumed the spiderwebs off the ceiling and out of the corners, and even filled the holes from where he moved our hanging art.  He cleared out some of the cluttery knickknacks leaving only a few items behind, which he arranged so it looked completely different.  He even had a candle lit so it warmed the room and was a nice touch.

I asked him why he did it and his answer was simple:  “I listened.”  I can’t ask for more than that.



We hit three major baby milestones this weekend – on the same day!

#1 – First tooth.  Yep, her first tooth broke through and she has a few more nubs in there waiting to make their appearance too.  Oddly enough, they’re not the middle teeth but is farther back on her upper right.  Oh well… she hasn’t been conventional so far so why start now?

#2 – She rolled over on her own!  She went from her back to her front not just once, but FOUR times.  Ben’s parents were here and she was on her mat just having fun.  Looked over and she was teetering on her side, then made the final effort and ended up on her belly looking surprised.  She got the biggest baby grin and laughed.

#3 – We tried rice cereal off a spoon.  That didn’t go over so well.  On the advice of our pediatrician I made it pretty thin but she didn’t get that she was supposed to swallow it and just spit it out on her bib.  Our ped told us that if she did that to wait another week and try again because she wasn’t ready.  She’s only going through about 30 oz of formula a day (6 bottles x 5oz) so it’s not absolutely necessary for her to eat the rice cereal; I’d be more worried if she was exceeding 36 oz every day.

The tooth was a huge surprise because she hadn’t really been fussing much or drooling more than usual.  I’ve been running my fingers along her gums every once in a while just to see if there’s anything brewing but this was the first time I encountered something hard.  You can actually see it if you move her upper lip out of the way.  Craziness!

She refuses to chew on a teething ring or anything else that isn’t her hand or a bib / blanket.  I got the brilliant idea to dip a few of her washcloths that I don’t use in water and then throw ’em in the freezer.  I twisted them so that they’re kind of pointy and easy for her to chew on.  Voila – instant teething aid 🙂  I wish I had thought of that before I dropped $10 on teething rings and other accessories.

I’m so relieved she finally rolled over; most other babies her age had already hit that milestone.  I figured she’d do it when she got around to it, but it didn’t make it any easier to wait.  In typical Squish fashion she did the hardest thing first – going from her back to her belly.  Most babies roll from their belly to their back first.

My parents and sister came over today to watch the Steelers game with us.  They’ve been on vacation for the last week and a half and haven’t seen Squish for a while. They were amazed at how big she’s gotten and her milestones.  She did NOT want to sleep today, but fell asleep in my mom’s arms and later on in my dad’s lap.  That’s true baby happiness right there 🙂

With all this excitement on one day, I wonder what’s coming next?  She’s already starting to life her butt and put her feet underneath her when she’s on her belly.  I can’t see her going longer than 6 weeks before she puts moving her feet together with moving her arms and is scooting across the floor.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

My Horror Realm Experience…

Many of my friends and co-workers were surprised (and amused) when I told them where I spent last weekend – in Pittsburgh, PA attending a horror conference called Horror Realm.   Ben and left The Squish at home with a close family friend and spent three days at a hotel attending writers panels, networking events, and hanging out with some pretty cool people.

A lot of you know that Ben is writing short stories / novels of the zombie and post-apocalyptic genre.  His ultimate goal is to be able to quit his 9-5 job and support our family by writing full time.  I’ve been supporting him by serving as his first reader slash copy editor, support team, and motivational source.  We went to Horror Realm to meet people, try to get contacts in the industry, and get any tips on writing that we could.

Honestly, I headed into this endeavor with a sense of dread.  Seriously – a HORROR convention?  But it turned out to be not-so-bad and I ended up not hating it.  Got there on Friday, met some people from the Library of the Living Dead forums, and snagged some dinner.  Attended an awesome panel with Jonathan Maberry, James Melzer, and Rob Fox.  We skipped the movie panels but also attended the author panel containing David Dunwoody of Empire fame, Steven North of Dead Tide repute, and Kim Paffenroth, PhD who has a new novel coming out with Dante Aligheri as the main character.  Yes, he will run into the zombie horde. I hit the hay early and fell asleep watching Boise State dominate Fresno State.  Hooray for having ESPN at the hotel!

Saturday I skipped out on a lot of the festivities.  Ben and I took a detour to IKEA (did you think we wouldn’t sneak in at least one trip while we were there??) and then I dropped him off at the hotel so he could geek out.  I stole the car and tooled down the freeway to the (extremely rural) area where I used to live.   Stopped by my Grandma’s grave site; believe it or not but there were still flowers alive in her floral arrangements two weeks after her interment.  She always did have a green thumb.  Went past the old farm on the mountain (Mt. Joy) and wound my way through gravel covered dirt roads where I was chased by a pack of dogs – 2 German Shepherds, a cattle dog, and some mutt that could have had some beagle in it.  Drove past the old homestead and found that the trailer (with an addition) had been replaced by a more modern mobile home that was neatly anchored in place with a brick ‘foundation.’  I was shocked; I thought that our old place would stay the same forever.  I guess things change over 23 years, huh?

Got back to the hotel, changed into my bathing suit, and prepared to hit the pool because it was a 80+ degree day.  Uhhhh, the pool was empty.  A bit misleading to have a POOL PARTY on the schedule later that night, eh?  I ended up sitting at a table by the empty pool soaking up some sun.  Forgot my sunscreen so I got a little extra crispy.

Met back up with Ben and found out we had plans for the night – dinner and then a brief excursion to the cemetery where they filmed scenes from Night of the Living Dead.  No biggie.  Michelle, a friend of Ben’s from the LOTLD forums, doesn’t have Bob Evans down in Louisiana where she lives so we stopped there and then headed up to the Evans City cemetery.  At this point my internal “WTF’ radar starting going off because it was <i> getting dark </i>.  I don’t *do* dark, especially in creepy areas like cemeteries.  It took us about 1/2 hour to get there and we pulled the car up, killed the lights, and hopped out.  Creepy Central.  Found some tombstones from the movie, took some pictures, and then helped Mike (Michelle’s husband) look for a geocache spot.  Didn’t find the first one even after searching in the bushes so we headed down to the second one near the entrance to the cemetery.  It looked like it was in the woods close to the gravel road so we let him search while we took pictures of the sign and poked around.  All of a sudden, Ben saw something moving on the hill making the dry leaves on the ground rustle and we all started running like the devil was behind us.  I banged my finger off the trunk of their rental car and stowed it.  We hopped in the car and took off; we started laughing once we hit the main road again.  We’re idiots.

Got back to the hotel just in time for the deceptively named Pool Party to start.  Hung out for a bit, got pissed at cigar smokers, and went back to the room to watch more football, this time it was Texas and Texas Tech.   Hey, I had to take advantage of having ESPN, right?  Ben hung out down there for a while longer and then came to bed.  Slept in the next morning (hallelujah!) and got the car all packed for the trip back home.  Hit two more author panels with Rhiannon Frater of As the World Dies fame, Eric S. Brown, and Kody Boye.  Kody’s short story ‘Jade’ was pretty awesome.  If you want to read the best opening to a novel, check out Chapter One of Rhiannon’s ATWD’s  ‘Tiny Fingers.”  Eric Brown gave Ben lots of writing advice, encouragement, and told me to get him to finish his stuff.  He and Stephen North (they co-wrote a book together) were Ben’s biggest supporters. 

Sunday brought  more writerly panels.  My favorite reading of the weekend was Scott A. Johnson’s “Epiphony.”  That guy is crazy, but awesome.  Imagine that know-it-all teenager that has everything figured out in the event of the zombie apocalypse actually confronting it with his own family.  Classic.  I think he was my favorite author of the whole weekend, followed closely by Kim Paffenroth.

Headed home, reunited with The Squish, and unpacked a whole lotta laundry.  Caught the first quarter of the Giants / Cowboys game and shuffled off to bed to start the workweek over.  All in all, the weekend wasn’t too bad with the exception of being separated from Squishy.  I might take her next year en route to the beach for a vacation with my family.  Spend the weekend at Horror Realm (a treat for Ben) and then the following week at the ocean (a reward for me for being such an awesome wife / mom / all around good person).

Football Picks – Week 2.

First of all, thanks to DarcsFalcon for posting her pics on football site  every week.  I let her do the leg work and then copy and paste the grid to my site.  I’m all about working smarter, not harder.  

And here’s my week 2 picks.  We’ll see if I can beat my horrible 11/16 start from last week.  Whatcha think?






Texans Titans Titans   1 pm CBS
Saints Eagles Saints   1 pm FOX
Cardinals Jaguars Cardinals   1 pm FOX
Raiders Chiefs Chiefs   1 pm CBS
Bengals Packers Packers   1 pm CBS
Vikings Lions Vikings   1 pm FOX
Rams Redskins Redskins   1 pm FOX
Patriots Jets Patriots   1 pm CBS
Panthers Falcons Falcons   1 pm FOX
Buccaneers Bills Bills   4:05 FOX
Seahawks 49ers 49ers   4:05 FOX
Ravens Chargers Ravens   4:15 CBS
Steelers Bears Steelers   4:15 CBS
Browns Broncos Broncos   4:15 CBS
Giants Cowboys Giants   8:20 NBC
Colts Dolphins Colts   8:30 pm ESPN

Football Pick Results – Week 1. I suck.






Titans 10 Steelers 13 Steelers + 8:30 pm NBC
Dolphins 7 Falcons 19 Dolphins 1 pm CBS
Chiefs 24 Ravens 38 Ravens + 1 pm CBS
Eagles 38 Panthers 10 Eagles 1 pm FOX
Broncos 12 Bengals 7 Broncos + 1 pm CBS
Vikings 34 Browns 20 Vikings + 1 pm FOX
Jets 24 Texans 7 Texans + 1 pm CBS
Jaguars 12 Colts 14 Jaguars + 1 pm CBS
Lions 27 Saints 45 Saints + 1 pm FOX
Cowboys 34 Buccaneers 21 Cowboys + 1 pm FOX
49ers 20 Cardinals 16 Cardinals 4:15 FOX
Redskins 17 Giants 23 Giants + 4:15 FOX
Rams 0 Seahawks 28 Seahawks + 4:15 FOX
Bears 15 Packers 21 Bears + 8:20 NBC
Bills 24 Patriots 25 Patriots + 7 pm ESPN
Chargers 24 Raiders 20 Chargers + 10:15 ESPN

I went 11/16.  That’s 68.75% right. I suck.

I have achieved slackerdom…

Wow.  I haven’t posted anything since August 24th.   Officially a slacker, n’est que c’est pas?

Got my tooth issues resolved through a fun root canal, went to the West Coast for a work conference, traveled back to PA for my grandmother’s funeral over the Labor Day weekend, and have watched my child grow like a weed.

Seriously, she has shot up in height by two inches since her last check up.  She’s over 7 inches longer than she was when she was born.  That just FLOORS me.  Her little body is rapidly changing and it seems like every day brings a new surprise.   Her new thing is shrieking in delight when she sees the dogs on her level.  She’s finally outgrown the bouncy seat; I didn’t realize how much we’d come to depend on it.  We replaced it with more floor time and also got her an exersaucer.

Eh, screw it.  Here’s pictures 🙂