Today was a day of milestones…

Well, at least we’ll never forget what day they happened seeing as how it’s Valentine’s Day.  Squish hit three big milestones unassisted today:  getting to a sitting position from lying down, getting on her hands and knees and rocking like a skier getting ready to leap out of the gate, and starting to pull herself up on things… namely my shirt when we’re sitting on the floor together.

She’s been able to do this stuff for a long time, but I suspect she just didn’t feel like it.  Today she really turned on the juice and surprised the crap out of us.  I wouldn’t be shocked if we came downstairs tomorrow morning and she had a pot of coffee on.  Every day is a day of wonder and amusement.

I’m still doing ok with the no sugar thing.  It’s hard, but manageable.  Squish and I took a 2 hour trip to the grocery store and refilled our pantry and fridge with healthy things.  Out went the white rice, in came the brown rice, quinoa (can someone PLEASE tell me how to pronounce that?!), and barley.  Got rid of anything that had a lot of saturated or transfats and empty carbs and replaced it with a ton of fruit & veggies.  My produce part of the list was a mile long!  Cooked with wheat flour for the first time this weekend too – I made pizza calzones.  To make it healthy I snuck in a whole shredded zucchini into the ground turkey filling.  It was awesome.  I made 6 more – they’re frozen and ready to go in my lunch this week.  Pair ’em up with a salad and it’s perfectly balanced.

Saved a ton at the grocery store with The Grocery Game. I even spread the word about it to another family who was neck deep in coupons like me.  All told, I saved roughly $40 grocery shopping by matching up what was on sale with the matching coupon.  I got Soft Soap (the hand dispenser for the bathroom) and Lipton Onion Soup Mix for FREE!  I like free.  It’s my favorite four letter word.

Back to work tomorrow – bleh~!  Ben has the day off for Presidents Day.  Plus, it’s his birthday so he’s kinda psyched about that.  I’m taking Squish to the babysitter so he can have an entire day to play Bioshock 2.  Aw crap!  I gotta get him a card.  *gulp*.

Oh yeah.  Did I mention we’re forecast to get another 5″ – 9″ between now and tomorrow night?  I think Mother Nature took a wrong turn at Albuquerque – where does she think I live, Buffalo!?  At least a lot of people have the day off so they won’t be clogging the roads.

Weekend Fun

Well, it seems like Mallory is over her little gastro virus so hallelujah for that.  She’s still snotty from the cold virus she had at the same time; we’ll be wiping her nose for the next few days, I’m sure.  There’s nothing like sprinting for a Kleenex every time she sneezes because of the twin fountains of slimy expectorant she brings up.  Yum!  Yesterday I saw the largest snot bubble I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was half the size of her head, I kid you not.

Today she was well enough to venture out to the library for a Valentine’s Day event that featured book reading, crafts, and rhymes/ songs.  We met up with my friend Claire, her daughter Emily, her friend Andrea, and her son Drew.  Mallory had a blast!  I don’t think she’s been around that many kids before 🙂  While she wasn’t able to really follow along, she was content to sit there in her mama’s lap and listen while playing with some stuff.  At least she wasn’t howling the whole time.

Afterwards, we hit up Max & Erma’s for lunch.  Our poor waiter…  having to deal with two 2 and a half year olds and a baby.  Mallory was just enamored with him.  She did fairly well sitting in the high chair until I let her play with one of the paper things that wrap the napkins and silverware.  She ended up getting a piece, it triggered her gag reflex, and I got to play clean-up.  Luckily, disaster averted and it was just a quick wipe up.  The whole thing got her tuckered out and she was fast asleep before I pulled into the driveway even though it’s less than a 5 minute drive home.  All in all, I’m glad we got out and hope Claire invites us to more Mommy stuff. I tell you, that girl knows everything mommy-related going on in town.

So she’s still sleeping and then we’re going to hit the grocery store.  I had to clean out a lot of the goodies in there yesterday because Ben got diagnosed with diabetes.  I figured the Ghiradelli Brownie Mix and Frosted Flakes were just too cruel to leave in the pantry.  Plus, I need to make room for all the healthy stuff we’re going to be putting in there… barley, brown rice, and quinoa.  High cholesterol and diabetes… ai yai yai.  As a  bonus, Mallory and I will be eating healthy as well.  I’m not about to cook two dinners, yanno.

I think it was the wake up call that he needed to get his life straight.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to get his major causes of heart disease under control.  Of the five risk factors, he has 4: smoking, high blood sugar (diabetes), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  Amazingly, all of them are controllable.  The doctor wants him to quit smoking right away and told him a minor weight gain (5-10lbs) would be acceptable by his next appointment in 12 weeks if he quit smoking immediately.  The major thing I see us having problems achieving is getting in 200 minutes of aerobic exercise a week.  Seriously, going from basically ZERO to 200 minutes / week is a big jump.  That’s 40 minutes five times a week or about half an hour every day.

I had him fill a prescription while I was there and then he looked at my chart and noticed that I hadn’t had a physical and bloodwork done EVER.  Needless to say, I have an appointment in 12 weeks to have mine done.  Doh!  I think it’s for the best though.  After we left Ben said that he got read the riot act even after he had lost 12 lbs… LOL.  Looks like we’ll both have to try harder.  Expect to see more posts in the future about our journey to get healthy.

Oh!  Just as a ‘shiny monkey moment’ – have you tried Recipezaar.com?  You can search for recipes based on ingredients.  I think I’m going to actually pay the $24.95/year fee and join because it’s a lot easier to manipulate stuff.  Plus, it allows me to have multiple cookbooks and I can take advantage of the menu planning / add to grocery list options.  I’ll share our cookbooks and meal planners when they’re active so you can see what we’re eating.  The most interesting recipe I’m trying this week is “Low carb shrimp with ‘grits.'”  Instead of grits, they make a neat concoction with cauliflower.  I figure we’ll have something New Orleans-ish for Fat Tuesday.

So how’s your weekend treating you so far?

The Internet Lies…

I have this gorgeous piece of copper chain that I bought for a steal because it was so bright and shiny that no one really wanted it.  I figured if I waited long enough it would oxidize on its own and get to that beautiful rich dark coppery goodness that neglected copper develops.  A year later and that stubborn petulant piece of copper is still bright and shiny fresh.  About 6 months ago I did a search on the ‘Net to see how to wipe that smug sense of satisfaction from that gleaming link of chain. 

It told me that I could use egg whites (sorry, no can do… that’s way too close to wearing salmonella.  Plus, it said it took a really long time and I have zero patience), some weird crazy recipe that I was in no mood to try, or I could use liver of sulphur.  I looked up places to buy liver of sulphur and it was fairly inexpensive.  The downsize is that to ship it required hazmat insurance or something crazy.  So the chemical itself was $16, but the shipping on it was over $33!  I found a local place to buy it but they only sold it by the gallon.  Liver of sulphur isn’t exactly something I’d use on an everyday basis and DEFINITELY not in that quantity.  So, I figured that shimmering self-righteous piece of copper had won that battle, but I was determined not to let it win the war.

Imagine my surprise and absolute delight this morning when I opened my email and found that my favorite online bead store (in Seattle, no less!) was now carrying Liver of sulphur and it seemed they weren’t restricted to any wacky shipping restrictions.  FusionBeads is carrying it in two sizes and it’s on SALE!   Just for kicks, I Googled how to use it and found that the page I used had a listing of what stores in the US carried it.  Believe it or not, but Blicks Art Supply, of which there is one RIGHT DOWN THE MOTHER EFFING STREET stocks the liquid form for only $3.95!  Guess where I’m going this weekend?  That piece of copper is goin’ down.

Other plans include…. childproofing the house since the Squish is now crawling.  Well, I hesitate to call it ‘crawling,’ but she’s definitely in motion.  She lays on her belly, rocks from the left to the right while pushing off the floor with her toes.  It’s more of a modified scoot, but she’s fast enough that she can get places very quickly.  In a few short weeks she will most likely be pulling herself up on furniture (or the dogs – yikes!) and actually crawling to  get where she wants to go.  Where did our itty bitty baby go?  *sniffle*

As for the rest of the weekend…

  • We’re getting rid of Ben’s car – the salvage yard is coming to retrieve it after it blew a head gasket / cracked the engine block.
  • Visiting Ben’s mom – our weekend trip.
  • Cleaning the house top to bottom, including mopping the kitchen floor.  Now that Squish is mobile I need to be more vigilant against dust bunnies and common household grunge, including dog hair.
  • Whoop that piece of copper chain’s ASS with a Liver of Sulphur smackdown!
  • The usual grocery store, other  stuff, blah blah blah.

What’s on your plate for the weekend?

Two steps forward… one step back

I decided to take a bath last night.  It had been a rough crappy day at work and I figured I deserved the nice quiet downtime that reading in the tub brings me.  After all, I had already taken care of all Mallory’s needs (she was sound asleep in her crib) and even got the dishes and bottles done.  A success, right?  Wellllllll, not so much.  I was so comfortable ensconced in the tub with my book that I soon lost track of time and it was 9:45.  Did I head downstairs to unload the dishwasher, get bottle stuff ready for the morning, and pick out my clothes for the next day?  Of course not!  I climbed into my jammies and crawled underneath the covers.  My inner procrastinator assured me that I had plenty of time and that I deserved a night off doing whatever I wanted.  As a result, this morning was more off-kilter than usual and I ran out the door frazzled and running behind.

I’m still trying to learn why my inner procrastinator keeps sabotaging me like that.  Even more importantly, why do I let her??  I feel like I’m Charlie Brown and she’s Lucy.  Every time I go to kick the damn ball she yanks it out and I fall flat on my face.  I know what the result will be, but I’m so lured in by the promise of not having to do it now.

My overall goal is to be able to get into enough of a routine (through manageable babysteps – no pun intended) so that I can get everything done that I need to and have enough time in my evening to devote 1/2 hour to working out with the Wii and quite possibly working on a piece of jewelry or two.  Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I’ve been saying that forever.

Anyways, here’s what we have planned for our exciting *rolls eyes* weekend.

  • Tonight: Home Depot to get a new garbage disposal.
  • Saturday: Dog food, hair cuts for me & Ben, date night!  We’re going to go see The Book of Eli and go out to dinner.  My sister has graciously offered to babysit.  She can’t wait; she even called me today to make sure we weren’t cancelling on her. 
  • Sunday:  Duh.  Divisional Championship games.  I might even let Ben make me breakfast. 

I’ll also squeeze in some laundry, bill paying, and basic cleaning / organizing in there.  Not to mention grocery planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Ugh.  I think I’m going to start relying on my slow cooker / crock pot more.  I’m gonna put that baby to work!

Have a great weekend!

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).

Cutting Ties

Ben and I had a pretty crappy Wednesday.  It all started on Sunday night when I noticed a strange $20 withdrawal from our savings account.  We use our savings account to temporarily ‘hold’ money until we need it again.  I set aside our entire paychecks into that account, divvy it up between a whole bunch of categories, and transfer whatever we spend that week back into our checking accounts.  I don’t think we’ve made a withdrawal other than transfers from that account since it’s been open.  Needless to say, it set off an internal Kristy alarm.

I sent a secure message through our bank’s website  Monday morning to see what’s going on, but was told that because the status of the transaction was ‘pending’ they could do nothing for us yet.  I sent a message on  Tuesday after the amount had clearly been processed.  I called customer service on Wednesday and was told that it was my husband’s name on the withdrawal slip and that, “No ma’am, the handwriting on the account number does not match the numbers in the date or zip code.”  I ask them to fax me a copy of the withdrawal slip and the guy has the nerve to tell me that my HUSBAND will need to verify that he didn’t make that withdrawal because it was he who supposedly initiated the transaction.  I was livid.  I talked with a co-worker who used to work at a bank and he let me know that sometimes thieves will do a small transaction as a test to see if it goes through.  If they’re not caught, they then wipe out your entire account.  I called Ben and we made arrangements in the middle of the day to physically go to a bank branch to get it all hammered out.

Walked into the branch and waited until we could talk with ~Bob~.  Now ~Bob~ usually did investments but today he was going to help look into our potential fraudulent activity.   ~Bob~ was in way over his head.  Eventually he conferred with the bank manager and realized that the withdrawal slip was not in my husband’s handwriting and there was indeed a mistake.  Duh.  What ~Bob~ told us essentially happened is that there is another person (several, actually) with my husband’s name that has an account at the same bank.  When the teller looked up that guy’s account, she mistakenly pulled ours up instead, wrote down the account number on the withdrawal slip incorrectly, and gave him our $.  Double Duh.

Here’s where it gets extremely interesting.  The guy with the same name as Ben and banks at the same bank  just happens to live on the same road in a small rural area north of the city as my parents.  I would feel better if it was a different suburb of Columbus and it was a mistake, but to have the address on the withdrawal slip be an extremely rural country road just 2.2 miles from my parents was a little too hard for me to swallow.  I couldn’t help but wonder if our credit report had been accessed and bits and pieces of the information contained on there woven into some new identity.  I also checked the Delaware County Auditor’s Website and couldn’t find that name as a registered owner of that address; sometimes having a PDA phone comes in handy!

~Bob~ tried to play it off that we were all happy and life is good and no worries because it was just a ‘simple mistake, no harm done.’  Ben and I had discussed during his lengthy absence that we were going to close the accounts and move to another bank.  I had been doing some research because Ch@se had been nickeling and diming us on account fees so we made plans to head to National City (soon to become PNC Bank; we’ll be able to get Steelers debit cards – yay!).

Anyways, poor ~Bob~’s face fell when we told him that no, having them credit our $20 back to the account was NOT the end of it, but merely the beginning of what we needed him to do.  Soon he panicked and got the bank manager to talk with us.  She was definitely in closer mode – she needed to retain our accounts.  She asked why we were leaving when it obviously was a ‘simple case of switched account numbers.’  Ben and I just firmly repeated that we didn’t feel comfortable banking there anymore.  She then asked us where we were planning to go and I told her that I honestly didn’t know.  She and ~Bob~ then told us what they could do to put extra security on our account – bells, whistles, and red flags so that the tellers will scrutinize ID more closely when dealing with out account.  I looked at her and was like, “Um, aren’t you supposed to do that in the first place?”

She treated us like lepers when we asked for our funds as cash, not a certified check.  She didn’t do much to try to retain our business and we felt much better when we were gone.  We had to leave Ben’s checking account open because pending items are still clearing out of it; they were supposed to close it today (Thursday).  Funny thing happened though – that $20 they needed to credit us back is now in there.  Can they close it the account now?  I’ll have to try to transfer that $20 to my checking account and see if it will let me.  Why can’t they make this shit simple??

Anyway, we got the cash, we scooted to Ntl. City, opened our accounts, and are now waiting for the debit cards, checks, and online account access to arrive.  For the time being we’re subsisting solely on cash – an admittedly foreign concept for the both of us.  I’m liking it better than whipping out the debit card any time I need to make a purchase; it’s keeping me grounded.  Debit cards aren’t quite a tool of the devil, but the easy availability of funds gets me into trouble.

I’ve kept my checking account open for the time being so that I can let my automatic payments clear and start scheduling them with the new checking account.  No *wonder* the banking industry calls them sticky accounts – it’s such a pain in the ass to change all these automatic payments that you’ll stick with them no matter how badly your financial institution is taking advantage of you.  No more for this girl!

Have a fraud or horrible banking story?  I’d like to hear it – sound off!

~k

No baby today… check back next week.

Went to this week’s dr’s appointment and nothing has changed in the last few weeks.  Still less than 1 cm dilated and nothing happening on the softening front 😦  ZERO progression.

So now we’re all set for an induction a week from today because she’s getting pretty big and they’re starting to get worried.  Plans are for me to head to the hospital at 8PM Thursday to get things started and most likely have the baby on Friday.   Of course, my body could have other plans and decide to have this baby on its own before then. 

My mom is REAAAAAAALLY hoping that I have her tomorrow because they’ll share the same birthday 🙂  My sister is hoping that she arrives before the 1st because she and her friends are taking her camper on its inaugural trip to the Kentucky Derby that day.

I’m planning to take time off from work Wednesday and Thursday to get stuff in order.  That will also give me an opportunity to relax and just take some time for me before my life gets changed forever.  I’m making Ben work Wednesday and Thursday so I can get stuff done and chill out.   He can have Friday off, I guess. 😉 

So that’s the latest news.  Just a reminder – keep one eye peeled on Twitter.  I can easily tweet when we’re headed to the hospital from my cell phone and can probably sneak in an update or two before it gets confiscated by the nurses.

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