Dear Grandma,
(I'm not sure I can even write this post...) Two years ago today, you lay in your bed, in your home, with family around you, holding your hands. You asked "What time is it?" and then about two hours later you left us.

That morning, my dad had called me to say that this was it, that you were preparing to leave. Rather than face any little part of my grief, I leapt into action, changing our plane tickets for our tournament in Denver later in the week to be a 3 way trip home, to bury you, then go on to Denver. That kept me busy until a few hours later, when Dad called again, his voice cracking, so say "Grandma's gone."

We didn't leave for Columbus right away, we left that Monday morning. I played a hockey game that night, scoring two goals. Both for you.

But I still didn't cry, because I had work to do. First it was talking our way onto a crowded flight, edging out another woman who was going home to bury her mother with my consistent politeness at the ticket counter for the better part of an afternoon.

Then it was writing the words that I was to speak at your funeral. Long before you passed, I knew I'd speak, I knew it was important that I say something about who you were. About who you were to me.

Only one hitch, I had to get up in front of my entire extended family and your friends and talk. Into a microphone inside a seriously echo-ey church, my voice reverberating all over the place, each crack in my voice amplified about a thousand times. But I did it, stepped up to that podium and said, with a confidence that must have come from you what I think were the right words.

Afterwards, after we buried you (and I found myself completely unable to wave the little wand of holy water on your coffin), had some lunch at the church, then spilled over to R&J's house until the darkness finally fell. We did it right, gathering for you, around you, knowing you weren't far from us. I know you were pleased to see us all together like that.

I'm pretty sure it was the last time we would gather like that, so I stayed until the bitter end even though I was soooo tired from all of it, I just wanted to lay down.

The grief from losing you, that's come in small spurts. It seems that I've spent the last two years staying busy so I don't have to really feel what my life feels like without you in it. Almost every time I get in my car, when I'm truly alone, I feel it. And I start to cry.

But I've stayed busy since you left us. Six weeks afterwards, we started trying to have a baby. A baby who I hoped would be a girl and who we would name after you. But we had to get pregnant first, so instead of feeling my grief, I focused on trying to get pregnant.

It took all summer, but it finally worked. Last May 16, after a really long labor, Valerie Marta was born. Of course she bears your name, how could she not? She's really beautiful. And funny. God, that girl loves to laugh. She's as ticklish as I am. She walks like Frankenstein. She loves mac n' cheese. I show her your pictures, the ones my mom found of us in Florida together, before you were ever sick or in pain, us laughing together. I tell her who you were. She grabs at the pictures.

People tell me that she's a little doll. That's what you used to say about me when I was a baby. Every time I hear that, I imagine (hope) that it's a quick kiss from you. And even though the oddest, most unlikely people have been the ones to say it, I'm always listening for it.

We baptized her Catholic, largely because I knew you'd be irate if we didn't. Of course, not everyone loves the gays so we had some drama around finding a place to do it. In the end, we wound up at a Newman Center so small that the entire Mass featured a mention of Valerie's name over and over again. Each time I heard Valerie Marta, I hoped you were listening.

I miss you like crazy, I wish you could know my daughter.

I hope you're okay, I know that all your physical pain is long gone and you're with Grandpa again. I imagine the reunion was sweet, once you got to the other side.

I wear your wedding ring. I got your license plate and for a while, it was on a very fun sports car that I think you would have enjoyed. I have your keychain on my car key. You're always with me, I know this.

But I still haven't really slowed down enough to mourn you properly, at least not in one sitting. I'm pretty sure you're okay with that.

Because you always asked, we have three dogs now, not four. Gus passed away last summer. Recently, the peach tree he used to eat off of bloomed flowers. It had never done that. The petals came off and blew all over our yard. I stepped over them, realizing that he was saying hi.

I wish you'd say hi. I know you're busy but my heart? It aches for you. I miss you so much.

Andrea still takes out the trash, I still clean the bathroom (most of the time). We cook a little now, for Valerie. We both do that. I know you'd want to know the status of those things because you asked me every time I saw you.

Are you playing bridge? Is there a knitting group where you are? Are you playing canasta into the night?

Do you miss us as much as we miss you?

I hope you are well, that the afterlife is the beautiful place we all pray that it is.

All my love,


I love love love playing hockey but there has been so goddamn much drama around it lately, it makes me want to quit.

Of course, I can't, not right now. Because I'm cheap and I've already paid for the season on all my teams. And because I'm addicted to the sport, just not to the damn drama. Or at least, not this constant barrage of it.



A Couple Of Odd Things About Our Street
First I must mention that my street, though it is named 'Avenue' it is really just a street. A whopping 2 block long street. 2 pretty short blocks.

And yet tons of cars drive down our street at a bazillion miles an hour. Seriously. I'm not just that overprotective lady with the baby in the middle of the block, these people really do treat our 'Avenue' like a goddamn speedway. Makes no sense, the street is so short that I don't see how the cars have time to get up to those speeds.

Of course, a good number of those cars cruise by while blaring bassy music. Just to add to the ambience.

The other odd thing is that kids play in the street all the time from the moment the weather gets warmish until it's just too cold and too dark to do so. Even with the place being a little bit o' speedway, nobody's ever hit a kid. So that's good.

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm working from home today. Val's napping nicely in her co-sleeper and Joe Trash is just finishing up the backyard. Of course now we have to figure out what we're going to do with the now-barren earth. Probably buy some giant playset for Val, I'd imagine.

Impromptu Play Date!
Yesterday was take your kids to work day and since the little flyers about our event said kids 1 and up, I figured almost 1 was close enough and brought Val in. Of course, it was the week that I just started doing some exciting new responsibilities at work so having her there was a bit of a challenge.

We got home around 4:15 because Val had had enough. She went right down for a nap, so I headed out to the living room to log in and check on my New Responsibilities. I IMed Susan to see what they were up to, turns out they were roaming around so I invited the girls over for a snack.

It was sort of stunning to me that our house is acutally prepared to feed 3 toddlers at the same time. Val got up from her nap just as the girls were sitting down to some mac n' cheese. She was SO excited to see them here, at her house, sitting at her table!

While they were eating, Susan and I went out to contort ourselves while re-installing the carseat in her car. We were super bummed to find out that the Roundabout won't fit between the girls' seats when it's forward-facing (for the record, we are keeping Val rear-facing for as long as possible. It's SO much safer than forward-facing, up to a point. Val will be rear-facing until that point) so it looks like my easy plan for our travel carseat is now once again, not that easy. Pending congressional approval (aka Susan doing a little

(Val speaks now: tgbhg6cvvzvvvvvvvvvvvvvgbmhg,j)

research on the topic) we'll be looking to get the Sunshine Kids Radian for Susan's car, since it is the only seat that I feel good about that would fit between the girls' seats.

Anyhoo, we were out there installing for a good long while. When we came back in, I fully expected to see all of the girls playing in the living room. But no! They were all still eating. They had a ton of mac n' cheese, peaches, seaweed, puffs and water. Finally, Sam goes "I want to go play!"

And off they went to our living room, where Val was like this proud little mama, showing off all her toys. They had such a good time, and I did too.

It was a really fun, yet simple end to what's been a seriously crummy week. We followed it up by having a really tasty dinner at Kingswood right afterwards. Ahh, the bliss.

C'mon, weekend. You simply cannot get here fast enough. Even if the inevitable Monday that will follow marks 2 years since my Grandma died.


A Low Point In A Long Week
Yes, I know that it's only Wednesday but my week (outside of work) has pretty much sucked since it started. I've had near-constant drama all week, stuff that I'll likely not blog about so you'll just have to trust me when I say I've needed a lot of Tums this week.

To blow off some of that steam, Susan and I decided to take the girls out for dinner and a little shopping. Andrea was playing hockey, Bill was having dinner near his work so we were like single moms for the night. You know, girls night out, with 3 kids just to make it interesting.

Anyhoo, we had an okay dinner at Pepper Lunch then headed over to the mall. Sam needed to put long pants on so Susan changed her in the front seat of the car while Riley waited, strapped into her carseat.

Finally, Sam was done and Susan went to grab the stroller while Sam scampered out of the front seat. Apparently, she hit the lock button on the way out, then closed the door. I didn't think anything of it, assuming Susan had her keys on her, until she said 'my life sucks right now.'

Fuck. Keys and small child locked in car. Fuck fuck fuck.

But of course, Sam and Val were right there with us, both of them avid listeners so I couldn't say fuck out loud. I assure you that I said it in my head a good number of times.

In hindsight, I should have used my sidekick to find the number for OnStar. I had a moment of Great Panic and figured that whatever website OnStar had, the phone number would be totally buried so it would be quicker to call AAA.

So I do, going through their really rather tedious process to get help, which included being asked if any of the doors were open. Hi, seriously, I would not be calling you if even just one of the doors were open. I'm on hold with the Northern CA guys when we decide that maybe mall security can help. As I'm speed walking into the mall, I see the little trucklet go by and I start screaming at the kid guy inside it "HEY! HEY! HEY! I HAVE A KID LOCKED IN THE CAR!!! CAN YOU HELP ME???"

At the same time the AAA guy picks up and hears this. He says yes, he can help. But the mall guy assures me that he can so I tell AAA we'll call them back if we need it.

In hindsight, I should have used my sidekick to find the number for OnStar right away.

Turns out Mall Security doesn't have any tools beyond what I have -- a phone. They asked me if any of the doors were open and if Riley could somehow unbuckle herself then crawl to the front of the car and unlock the door. Yo, she's 2. Think about that for a second.

Mall Security used their phone to call the fire department and then all of Mall Security -- the guy on foot, the other kid with a bike and our first guy with the trucklet all gathered round to 'help' us wait for the fire truck.

Meanwhile, Riley is alternating between crying hysterically and being okay. I'm doing my best not to panic.

In hindsight, I should have used my sidekick to find the number for OnStar.

So finally, after a million years the firetruck arrives and with it, two nice guys bearing a bag of slim jims (the break into your car kind, not the tasty snack) and set to work. I thought it would be like the car thievery re-enactments you see on TV, where the guy busts out the slim jim and BAM is driving your car away 2 seconds later.

But, as my co-worker pointed out a minute ago, firefighters are not car theives. So it took a while. With Sam and Val now strapped into Susan's double wide stroller (and Val not complaining one bit), we watched one of the guys work. When it was really seriously starting to take too long, I finally fucking got out my sidekick and looked up OnStar's number.

At the exact same moment, I got OnStar on the phone and handed it to Susan, the firefighters got the car open. The alarm went off, Susan grabbed el keys and finally after the longest 20 minutes of my life (yes, quite possibly longer than any 20 minutes I spent in labor) Riley was out of the car and safely into Susan's arms. Her poor little nose was quite snotty from all the crying and it was all I could do to not weep myself.

The firemen gave all the girls a very cool sticker and we headed into the mall to warm up.

Later, when everything was quiet, I was exhausted and wanted to cry.

Today, the girls are all fine, I think it's the moms who are still kinda shaken up by the whole thing.

I now have the number for OnStar programmed into my phone. Because you never know when you'll need it.


Just Kinda Sucks
Last week, a very nice woman who sits near me returned from her maternity leave. Her co-workers got balloons, put up "WELCOME BACK!" posters, brought in snacks and made a huge fuss.

When I came back, I didn't even have a desk. Instead, all of my shit was boxed up and I was perched at the end of Bubble's desk with no work assigned. So not only did I not have any space of my own, I had to leave my tiny daughter behind to come to work and twiddle my thumbs.

I'll give you this -- I'm not all that social at work. I like to come in, do my stuff, and leave. I do try to be pleasant to everyone I encounter but sometimes that just translates to a smile in the hallway. And I know, that even years of smiles in the hallway don't automatically add up to a balloon archway and posters.

But still, it woulda been nice.


We went shopping!

Originally uploaded by gadgetgrrl.
With a very cute lookout leading the way.

Well, That Sucked
Since Andrea's car is in the shop, she's got a rental, a Dodge Charger. Whatever, fine, all American cars seem to have a pretty flat bench seat in the back, making the carseat installation fairly straightforward.

Or so I thought until 11 pm last night when I finally had time to go put our 'extra' carseat in. The 'extra' is the Roundabout, similar to the Marathon but the LATCH connectors are retrofitted instead of bolted to the outside of the seat. This boils down to making the Roundabout a little trickier to install than the Marathon. But it's not been a problem in any of the cars or vans we've rented on our trips so I thought it would be a fairly quick process.

Mother of God, that was The Hardest Install I've Done. And I haven't done a lot of them so I don't feel like the Sultan O' Carseat Installation to begin with. And really, this is the one thing you don't ever want to fuck up.

I was out there for what seemed like forever. I tried the passenger side, no go. Center? That was even worse, thanks to some bullshit contour to the seat. Finally, I thought I got it in behind the driver's seat only to discover that it had slipped on the seat and now the base wasn't flat.

At this point, I've got bruises from wedging myself into the thing to get slack in the belt, I've scratched my leg on the side of the seat and I'm sweating like a pig. And oh yeah, the cursing. There was an awful lot of cursing.

Finally, about an hour later, I got it in behind the driver's seat. But it still slides a little, way more than I'd like, thanks to the really fucked up shiny, semi-slippery fabric of the seat.


We're going to do everything we can to minimize the trips Val has to take in that stupid car. And I think, we're going to invest in another Marathon for travel/weird needs like this and leave the Roundabout tucked firmly into Susan's car, where it seems to belong.



Not The Best O' Days
Yesterday, I got home from work to find that Val's fancypants birthday outfit had arrived. Sweet! I'd been eagerly anticipating it, since it was custom-made for her Valness. I was quite surprised to find that Val's name had been embroidered in a color that just (imho, and hey, I'm the one paying for the thing) doesn't match the outfit. I tried to wrap my head around it but it's the kind of thing where the more I think about it, the more upset I get.

Insert business about wanting all of Val's First Birthday to be perfect. I think that's because her actual Birth Day was less than perfect (execpt, of course for the very best part of that experience, Val). I guess I just wanted to get it all right this time.

I've emailed the woman who made it and I'm hoping she can re-do it in a color that makes more sense to me, that would make me stop twitching.

Last night around 10:30, Patrick had a seizure. The very tired part of me said, at least he's having it now so I don't have to stay up all night with him. That seizure lasted for about 5 minutes, though it wasn't as severe as some he's had. It took him a good long while to return to us afterwards, including a stop at 'let's bite both Mommies on the toes' and a loong whining session.

Finally, thanks to the miracle of pharmaceuticals, he calmed down and I went to bed. Until 2, when Val woke up and wanted milk. And then again, until 4, when Pat had another seizure. And then again, until 6 when Val woke up and wanted more milk.

There's nothing like "waking up" more tired than when you first went to bed.


Just Tired
Most of the time, the end of the week rolls around and I'm pretty much wiped out. So much so that no matter how much caffeine I suck down, I remain Just That Tired.

In case you're wondering, it's Thursday and I'm right on track with that. The weekend and it's blissful extra hours of sleep (thank you God for my baby who will sleep 'till noon if we let her) cannot come too soon.

In other news, I moved Val's montage to be posted from the future, from her birthday. So I can watch it every time I look at my website.

Val's taken to feeding herself with giant baby spoons and forks. Yep, it's messy but she's really kicking ass with it just the same. The best part is that it's helping to finish up the baby food in jars that we have leftover. Well, that and the fact that our kid is now mostly self-feeding. And that she gets a huge kick out of it.

It's probably not surprising that she gets a big kick out of many things. If I show her one thing in this life, please let it remain the fact that the smallest things can be amusing as hell. A life filled with laughter, now that's a gift we can all get behind.

Another thing to get behind is this badass video of a woman farting while teaching aerobics.



yay, it makes noise!
Originally uploaded by gadgetgrrl.
Somedays, okay most days, I just want to pinch myself. She's so damn funny.


How Can This Be True?
Val is 11 months today. This is so exciting that I totally forgot that in addition to Val turning 11 months old, it's also my dad's birthday. Oops, and Happy Birthday, Dad!

The Handoff
Saying goodbye to Betty sucked. It wasn't quite as hard as I thought it might be, but it still sucked. I'd worked out all the numbers over the phone so there was none of that 'hey let's sit at the dealership for hours and hours' bullshit. I just walked in, dropped off the key to Betty, had the salesguy take my plates off, then did the finance part.

That was also reasonably painless and before I knew it, I was blowing Betty a kiss, then heading off into the sunset.

Except that I got about a block away before I realized that I'd left my sunglasses in Betty.

So I headed back to the dealer, retrieved my glasses and had the unfortunate experience of seeing/hearing the salesguy start Betty up and move her to their storage lot. I couldn't look as he drove away.

I got her home, installed the carseat and then! Then, I drove MY ENTIRE LITTLE FAMILY AT THE SAME TIME, IN MY OWN CAR to a birthday party.

That is the best part about Charo. She fits all of us, and even more. Later that night I drove Andrea, my bad self, Val and our friend Ellaine out to dinner. IN MY CAR. And nobody was squished.

Also, I drove 165 miles this weekend -- and I still have half a tank o' gas!

So yes, Charo is no Betty but the advantages are quite clear. I'd like to publicly thank Andreatan for indulging me in my hot car for all this time. It was sooo much fun.


Haven't Said This For A While
But ClearCase, it is down. And this time with great ferocity. Lucky for me, my projects o' the week are not CC-dependent in the short term. So I can still get my work on for now.

In Other News
I got ahold of Car Dealer Guy #1 and worked out all the details about getting Charo with him. While I was at it, I also let him know that handing me off to Guy #2 was really a mistake. Because though I'm nice most of the time, I'm actually poised to be a giant asshole when it comes to buying big things.

I'm scheduled to pick up Charo on Saturday, and the purchase price and ergo, the payments, are going to be less than I had hoped for. Woo.

But. Mazda's got this new (lame-as-shit) way of dealing with ending leases -- instead of just trading your car in at the dealer, you have to call some number (that is OF COURSE only open from 9-5 central time) and arrange for some inspector to come to your house and see the car. After that's done, they have someone (with a truck, I presume) pick it up.

So we're still working that part out. I just want it all to be done.


So even though it's not the 15th, I had a little spare time (sort of) at work so I figured I'd call the salesguy to find out the numbers. He'd left me his cell phone number so I called that.

He didn't sound like a salesguy when he answered, he sounded like someone I'd woken up. Turns out it's his day off. Fine, totally fine, I don't mind waiting a day to talk about this shit, but why not say that before I have to go through a series of akward questions like 'is this a good time to talk?' and 'can we discuss some numbers?'

At that point I told him I'll just call my original salesguy, who while still sort of slimy in that carsales-y way, would probably have the social grace and professionalism to say 'it's my day off, can we talk tomorrow?'

What this all boils down to is the fact that I really hate talking on the phone. So I want to get whatever it is over with.

And speaking of phones/getting shit over with, the kid who hit Andrea's car this weekend has yet to call her back. He's got one more day, then we go through the insurance. So much for all his wild promises at the scene about paying for everything including a new car seat if we needed one.

This Is Not The Green Machine You're Looking For
But's pretty damn entertaining, just the same. Check it out.


Oh FFS, Or I Guess It's Good That You Checked?
I ordered some seriously fancypants invites online for Val's first birthday party. The text says something like "RSVP, Regrets only to Val's Mommies."

So the woman who's doing the actual layout calls and is like um, I wanted to check something with you. Then she reads the entire text of the invite to me, finally getting to her question about Val's Mommies.

"Shouldn't that be Val's Mommy?"

"Nope. Val has two mommies."

(still so not registering) "So would that be Vals' Mommy?"

"Nope. There's only one Val, but she has two Mommies."

In other words, what I wrote is quite correct. Thanks. At that point, she seemed flustered and the conversation was over. Is it really that hard? And I guess the better question for me is, you realize you're going to have to explain (at least some parts) how Val's family is made up for quite some time, don't you?

*ETA: I just looked the company up. They're here, literally about 1/2 mile from Susan's house, behind the Safeway where we had the car accident. I.e. WE CANNOT POSSIBLY BE THE FIRST SAME-SEX PARENTS THIS WOMAN HAS EVER COME IN CONTACT WITH. Makes me want to stroll over there after work today and introduce myself.

Baby Steps, And A Fender Bender
Our easter weekend was not without excitement. It all started on Friday night, when Val decided, hey, I'm gonna start walking! She took THREE STEPS IN A ROW towards Susan, then back towards me. It was like a light turned on in her head and she was like 'OH! This is what they've been wanting me to do!'

So we took her over to the rink, where Andrea was playing and Val repeated the same feat a few more times. The last time, the game had ended and Val had a bit of a crowd gathered. We all clapped for her and I think the noise scared her. She clung to me with a scared look on her face. That broke my heart a little, I hated that I couldn't explain that we were just proud of her.

But proud, yes indeed, I am proud as hell of those little steps.

Saturday night, we were headed to Susan's Safeway, waiting to make the turn into the parking lot, minding our own business when the car turning ahead of us decides to make a U-turn. Fine, great, we'll wait. Wait for that car to oversteer, then need to back up RIGHT INTO OUR CAR. The car that's carrying a small baby.


The driver shared all his info and Andrea shared hers while my ass was calling the cops from inside the car. The driver seemed perturbed once he heard that we needed to wait for the po-po to arrive, since they had places to go. Hi, so did we, thanks. But since this is my first (hopefully only) accident with Val in the car (she slept through the whole thing), I was all about covering all the bases.

Later, I did some homework on carseat replacement and found that in an accident as lame as this one, we're okay keeping the carseat. But I didn't know that at the time so I'm still glad I called the po-po.

I also thanked myself about a thousand times for installing Val's carseat so well that it didn't move and for putting her in as securely as you're supposed to.


Adventures At The Playground
I suspect this will be one of a series, since Val's attendance at playgrounds is likely to continue for a number of years.

Last night, we took a little outing to the mall near our house. We had to return a couple of things and look for impulse items for Val. I was also hoping to find shorts that fit and I liked. At the end of the night, we wound up at that indoor playground where she'd gone before with the girls. It was 9 pm at that point and I figured that there wouldn't be too many kids there since it was a school night.

I was right, there were just a handful of kids so we plunked Val down in a quiet area and watched all her crankiness fade away. She grinned like this was The Coolest Thing Ever and went to explore everything.

I have discovered a few things about the playground:

  • Many parents who bring their kids to the playground are interested in mentally checking out while their kid plays. That means that if their kids do something potentially harmful to your kid, unless your kid has a bloody anything, they're not going to get off their asses.

    This does have some advantages to unabashed Playground Vigilante Parents like myself. It means I can walk right up to those people's kids and dole out some discipline if the situation warrants it. And the parents will just keep sitting on their asses.

  • There's always one little girl who has an unusual interest in touching kids younger than her. That kid ALWAYS finds me, then follows Val around the rest of the time, touching her and invariably getting way too physical for Val's age/size and my comfort level.

    Last night, that kid found us right away and was putting her fingers INTO VAL'S MOUTH within 5 goddamn seconds. The Checked Out Parent I mention in bullet 1 was nowhere to be found so I explained how the baby was little and she shouldn't touch Val's face.

    Then I pull Val away and we go over to this area, where last time Val had played happily with Sam. This time, The Touching Girl followed Val and started spinning all the little rectangles really fast. Fine, until she pushed Val out of the way and spun the ones right at Val's finger level. That's when I stepped in again, this time looking for the Checked Out Parent (who I never found) before I once again explained that Val was too little.

    This behavior is fine. Pushing boundaries is what kids do and not every kid is around a baby enough to know how to act. I'm happy to provide education about that to any kid who needs it.

  • But then there's the creepy kid with no boundaries. This time, that kid was in the form of twin girls. I'm thinking they were 5 or so but guessing the age of 'older' kids eludes me these days.

    First Val was playing on this boat thing that she, Sam and Riley had shared nicely last time. Val pulled herself up on the side and these 'older' girls, who were in the boat, saw her and decided to get out. I'm guessing that they also talked some shit to her before they made this decision (at this point, I was not the Checked Out Parent but I was the parent sitting on the bench 5 feet away). So the girl gets out RIGHT WHERE VAL IS STANDING, knocking her over.

    Fine, see my earlier point about kids not knowing how to deal with a baby.

    But later, those girls are in this little car thing and Val comes over and tries to pull herself up on it. The quarters are a little too cramped and at that point my hackes are up so I head over to grab Val.

    And get there in time to hear the girl say to Val "I'm going to beat you."

    After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I asked her if that's what she'd said. Yes, she told me, that's what she said. That's right, she told my 10 month old daughter she was going to beat her, presumably for being in her way. I gave her my meanest glare and said "you know, that's not okay." And scooped Val up. We left at that point.

    What's hard here is that Val has been around the girls since the day she was born. They're well-versed in baby etiquette and she adores them. So she thinks that all older kids are as fun as the girls. If we remove her from the bigger kids, plunking her down somewhere else, she'll invariably find her way back to the bigger kids even if they do knock her down. It's a matter of balancing her happiness with her safety. As a parent, I think that will be my job for many years to come.

So we came up with these guidelines: be not afraid to step in when needed. For me, that's a little earlier than for Andrea. Both valid positions. When a kid is physically violent towards Val, it's okay to attempt to involve the parent after disabling the situation. When it's shit talking, don't bother with the parent because chances are that kid learned whatever shit that was talked from their parents.

Part of me longs to keep Val away from anything that could hurt her. But that makes for a boring life so we're working out our comfort levels. And trying to refrain from yelling at other parents about their children's atrocious behavior.


Equally Unreal, But Nice
Is that Val has slept for at least 7 hours in a row in her own bed (the co-sleeper in our room, but her own bed just the same) for more than one night in a row. The times, they are a changin' and it's awesome. I've gotten to work early two days in a row, breaking all records today by getting here at 9:03 am. And scoring an excellent parking space.

Thanks Val.

This Seems Impossible
But we're already making plans for Val's First Birthday Party.


I Would Not Have Called This
Before Val was born, Andrea and I spent some quality time at the baby store picking out a stroller for each of us to allegedly keep in our cars. We carefully selected ones that worked for each of us (for me and my ridiculously small trunk, a MacLaren Techno XT and an Inglesina Zippy for Andrea). In choosing these models, we folded, unfolded, wheeled around and tried to imagine pushing our little baby around the store.

We were happy with our selections and even happier when the Burninators bought us the Inglesina. Thanks, kids, it still rules.

But then Val arrived and with it, her seriously limited tolerance for either model. Same goes for the Britax we got last summer to take on trips. No real love, only an ability in recent months to buy myself some time by giving her a pretzel to eat while we stroll.

I figured this was just her deal, that she's a kid who would rather be held all the time. I'm expecting that once it begins in earnest, she'll morph into a kid who would rather walk all the time, coming to the stroller only for a respite when she's pooped.

Given that possible future, I figured we should sell the Britax and get a different cheap model to travel with. So far, I'm having no luck selling the Britax but that's another story.

We went to our local baby store to see if they had the cheap model I was interested in. While we were there, Andrea tried out a backpack that we also don't really need (but is nice) and on a whim, we threw Val in the BOB Revolution stroller that a few of our friends have. Why not? It was there, and so were we!

HOLY SHIT. Val actually liked a stroller. She sat in that thing, squealing and making scrunchy face for the entire time we had her in it. My daughter, happy in a stroller.

If this held true, I'd have a way to go places and actually just push the stroller instead of pushing the stroller while holding a fussy Val.

This stroller, that I've never been interested in and don't particularly like could easily become my new best friend. Who knew that in the end all the careful gear selection is seriously irrelevant next to the very firm opinion of a 10 month old?

After we finished our test drive, we went to the counter to pay for the outfit we were buying. Val picked out a cloth book that she really enjoys, sitting in her carseat and flipping through the pages. She's already a reader, especially if the tome features Elmo.


I Want To Be Excited
Yesterday, the car dealer called me with Great News! My new car, it is IN!

As soon as I heard the voice mail, I said out loud, to myself, 'here we go.' But I couldn't muster a whole lot o' enthusiasm because getting Charo means giving up Betty. Apparently, I'm not quite ready to do that just yet.

But I will, somewhere around the 15th, just before my next payment on Betty is due. So I told the salesguy, hey I'll be in on the 15th.

Here's how the rest of that went down:

Him: Hey, your car's in!!

A subdued me: Okay. I'm trading in my RX-8, see...

Him: It's a beautiful car.

Me: I know, she totally is. (Realizing he means Charo, not Betty.) Yeah.

Me: So, hey I'll be in on the 15th to pick it up.

Him: Why don't you come in sooner to "do paperwork"

Me: I'm not coming in sooner. In fact I'd like to do "the deal" over the phone so I can just pick it up on the 15th.

Him: But you could stop by and take a look at it before that.

Me: Um, no. I'll come in on the 15th. You see, I have this baby daughter and I'm not interested in spending hours with you that I could be spending with her.

Him: Well, why don't you come in and do paperwork.

Me: Sigh. I'm sorry, was there something about 'I'll be in on the 15th that wasn't clear to you?'

Him: (Silence.) My manager (the guy I dealt with originally) is right here! He'd love to talk to you.

So I talked to the manager, who gets it that I'm coming in on the 15th. What is it about car salesmen* that inherently prevents them from a) actually listening to people and b) not being pushy???

I'm trying really hard to be excited about the new car. I'm reminding myself of all that makes it superior to Betty:

  • It's taller. So I won't feel squished.
  • It's bigger. So the people I drive around don't feel squished due to the seat being moved all the way up to make room for Val's gigantic car seat.
  • It has more storage space. So I could, you know, put my hockey bag in the trunk. AND drive someone else who also has hockey gear. At the same time.
  • It gets hella better gas mileage. Now that gas is like $3.50 a fucking gallon, this will be good.
  • I'm going to buy Charo. So I won't have nothing at the end of the term.
  • She's purple.
*I realize that there are many women who sell cars in this world, I've just never gotten to buy a car from one. I have a feeling I'd have a less adversarial experience and probably would get a worse deal that I'd feel better about in the end because I felt like someone was actually listening to me.

My Favorite Trio

After a hard day at the park, the girls were ready to head out.

Bigger Every Day

It seems unreal, but she's certainly big enough to ride in the wagoon.

Last night, she gave us quite a show -- she took THREE WHOLE STEPS BY HERSELF. Just not in a row. She'd rather keep us guessing. I respect that.