Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Boxcar Boys




We live in a "train" town, so our background music is the soothing rumble of the wheels and warning whistles as trains pass through the multitude of crossings. The sound of coming and going, past and future, hello and goodbye. Sounds that are like the knock of the woodpecker that you hear and feel to the marrow of your bones, but don't always, see.  



There is no Thomas the Train on these tracks. These boys are loud. They are covered with the filth collected from the thousands of miles traveled so we can have our lumber, coal, and the containers shipped from factories on the other side of the world. The crimson rust is camouflaged by the masterpieces created by the underworld artists fueled by adrenalin and armed with propelled paint. 


To a certain little boy, there is nothing more magical then a train (unless it is a helicopter, dump truck, or an airplane). When he hears the soft, distant call of the train riding in, he makes sure we all know what it is: "TWAIN!"





The benefit of living in a train town is you may just find a couple 
of cars parked back on a forgotten piece of track. 




The behemoths beckon you. 

Thrill you. 

Frighten you. 




The weathered and worn shells appear ready to swallow those longing to get a closer look, but without the powerful engine, they will carry no boys away on this day. 


Today, they are gentile giants. 


Peaceful partners in play.


Larger than life. 


"If God had meant for us to fly, he wouldn't have given us the railways." -- Unknown

Friday, October 22, 2010

Because I don't know how to make one of those fancy videos and I really need a Tempur-Pedic bed


video


Fadra over at www.AllthingsFadra.com is running an awesome contest and the winner gets a Tempur-Pedic mattress. 


I know. 


Sweet, isn't it?


Now, I had a lot of creative ideas, but no idea how to make anything other than a video with my webcam, so I risked looking like a moron forever on the internets for a chance to win a new mattress.


You are all welcome to view the video, but the great thing is, you don't have to! You don't have to vote for me, or tweet about me, or anything. Fadra and her panel of experts are going to pick their 3 favorite videos and Tempur-Pedic will choose a winner.


I hope they like me, but I will settle for them just feeling sorry for me. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A lesson I will soon forget, again.

A lesson I will won't soon forget, again.

We all know I am an idiot, right?

Just when I think I have turned over a new leaf, something ridiculous happens. Something that is clearly my own fault and something I deserve (though a little mercy would be nice).

Just so you can get the clearest picture of my jackassary, let me go back a month. This hurts. Give me a minute here.

Sigh.

Here we go.

One afternoon last month it suddenly occurred to me that I haven't paid my car insurance in a while. Maybe. So I start digging and I find a notice that says, "If not paid, your insurance will be cancelled 8/31/2010." It was September 10th. Oops. REALLY.BIG.OOPS. Dang. (This maybe the 3rd time this has happened this year. Or not. Orrrrr...) I reluctantly pick up the phone and call them. The policy was cancelled. Shit. They started the process of creating a new policy and after 20 agonizing minutes, they had my new policy ready to go. I just needed to cough up the 300 bucks needed to get it going.

Houston, we have a problem.

Can I stop here? You get the picture, right?

What? This is for my own good? Suze Orman would be proud of my honesty?

Ok, ok.

Hubby gets paid every two weeks, and we still had another week to go, and the insurance company doesn't take Discover (not that I had much room on it anyway).

Hold that thought. I just checked my bank account is overdrawn and I need to go rob Peter to pay Paul.

(Unfortunately) To be continuted...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Matte is Back

That's right.

Matte Lipstick is 


BACK!

I personally love matte lipsticks and have always had a difficult time accepting that new fangled shiny stuffs. I busted out my new Clinique bonus from Macy's, and what did I find? That's right some matte lipstick.

HOLLA!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Coming to my senses

After nine months, I did it.

No, I already had my baby.

I turned off the satellite tv. 

It was difficult. 

I called to cancel and they offered me a sweet deal. 

Really sweet. 

The deal I had been begging them to give me for months.

I took it.

I watched Bravo.

The boys watching  McJr.

Hubby watched SciFi.

Then I reviewed my Discover Card bill.



Do you know how much I have paid out in interest on that one card this year?

$2,432

Do you know how much I put in my retirement account?

$0

Do you know how much the balance is on that card?

$9,657


It is asinine to have paid television. 

Asinine.

I called the next day and finally pulled the plug.

It didn't hurt a bit.


Up next:

Land line, alarm monitoring, and 

the big one

Sprint, 

my cell phone bill is too expensive  

You're next.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Run away pillow pet



The other day, my husband asked me, "How old is Hunter again?" 


"He just turned 2 in April."


"So he's really just 2?"


"I know, hubby. Can you believe it?"


He wasn't asking because he didn't know, he, as am I, was amazed at how advanced he is. 


Advanced is not always a good thing, when you have the reasoning of a 2 year old. 


.......


My husband was out of town overnight. No biggie, sometimes it's nice to have a little break and the day and evening went pretty well. As I was going to bed, I did something I don't normally do, I set the house alarm. We do set the alarm when we leave the house, but because disabling alarm is loud (compared to the quiet of the morning), we don't really set it on weekday nights, because my husband often leaves before the boys are up.


I set the alarm, and because I haven't set it from the inside recently, I had to fiddle with it for a few minutes and almost gave up on it. Once I got it set up, I moved along to bed. 


I was startled from my slumber by what can only be descried as beyond the most annoying sound on the planet. The alarm was going off at 3:20 am. It is a cross between and bat sonar, mosquito sonar, and a crickets. And a rock concert. Two noises that should never be heard by human ears at a volume that should only be heard in a stadium. So loud and annoying


But, not the noise you want to hear when you are home alone with three children under four. 


I leaped out of bed and raced to the alarm box and on the way, I passed a small crying boy. 


Hunter. 


I as I keyed in the blessed combo, the sound stop. Then it started up again. Then I keyed in the combo again.


Silence.


Except for the sounds of a terrified little boy.


Had he been woken by the sound? 


Is there an intruder somewhere in the house?


"Hunter, what are you doing? Did you open the door?"

"Yeth."


"Why, bud?"


"Because, because, because, I need to get my pillow pet."


"Where is your pillow pet?"


"It's in da stweet."


Oh, sweet Jesus.


"In the street?"


"Yeth."


It was on his bed.


I changed his diaper and he was right back to sleep.


I was not so lucky.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Up to something religious?


I am working on something.
I'll let you all in on it soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I hate cleaning, but....



Suddenly, 

cleaning the kitchen doesn't seem like such a bad idea.




Happy Friday! 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A peek inside

We moved into our new house a year and a half ago, and I have yet to post any pictures.


Why not?


It is usually in a state that might make you feel good about your cleaning and organizing skills, 
but 
not one I care to permanently document. 



Here are just a few of my favorite things...


Fiesta


Pigs 


and 

more pigs



What are some of your favorite things?



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

13 weeks

It seems like she's been with us forever.

13 weeks


Love you, baby girl.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

48 Hours

After my breastfeeding experience a few weeks ago, I was glad to have several weeks before I had to face that doctors office again. That would give me plenty of time to decide how I was going to address the way I was treated and to gain some perspective.

Except

They called the following day to see if I would like to move my scheduled injections from the 23rd to the 11th.

Ugg. I was not looking forward to these injections. After the trauma of my c-section, I wasn't any the mood to inflict farther pain on myself anytime soon, and while I desperate want relief from my back and neck pain, I didn't want it to hurt. Because I am breastfeeding, that limits what they can use for pain relief during the procedure. I was going to have to suck it up. I had some injections in my second trimester, and they really weren't too bad, considering my doctor hadn't done injections without the aid of an x-ray in years.

I can do this. I need to do this. Why put off any longer what could possible provide relief from this constant pain and daily headaches? Ok, let's get this over with.

A nurse from his surgery center calls with instructions, which include, no eating or drinking since I will be going under anesthesia. Well, I will not be going under because I am breastfeeding and the doctor is aware of this, because was able to treat me previously without a problem.

All righty then.

........

On the drive there hubby attempts have me listen to the new Deftones. It was pretty heavy. I didn't find it incredibly progressive. It was grating my nerves. I kept turning it down. Hubby got all butt-hurt because her couldn't hear it.

15 year old boy much?

"Look, babe. I am really nervous. I am about to have my spine poked. With out drugs. It hurt when I had it done last November, but I was being a hard-ass. I know what is coming now, and the epidural I had for my c-section hurt like a mo-fo. I am just not looking forward to this."

"I'm sorry. I know. I shouldn't have tried to listen to it right now away. I feel like I am going deaf and it's never loud enough. I'll listen to it later."

I love this guy sometimes.

........

I arrive after my hour and 15 minute drive with my crew in tow. Hubby is there to act as my driver and because it is a hot day, hubby, Logan, Hunter, and the baby all set up camp in the waiting room.

Sorry, people in the waiting room and surgery staff.

They call me back almost right away, and I have to bring the baby back with me since she is hungry and needs to eat. We have a divided curtained area where each patient has their vitals checked, a quick consult with the doc, and prepares for surgery by having their IV put in, etc.

The entire time I have having my temp taken, history given, blood pressure checked, I am nursing the baby. I again reiterate that I am breastfeeding, so I will not be under for the procedure. I wish I would be, but I can't.

I had the baby back to my hubby, and wait for the doc. I am here to have injections in my neck for the first time ever. I need them in my lower back and hip too, but my daily head aches and the pain in my left arm are making me crazy.

The doc comes back and we talk about my neck. The conversation lead to my back and left hip and leg. Since I had some success with the last injections there, he wants to skip the neck this time and fix that hip and leg.

I guess...

And...

...here's where I get relieved and kind of excited...

he is able to use an opiate based drug during the procedure, that will make me comfortable and not effect breastfeeding. I was given enough opiate based  drugs after my c-section to kill a horse and was able to safely taken the during all my pregnancies and while breastfeeding. I had not even considered that they could use some today. I know they are safe.

"Please give me the minimum amount. I know they are safe, but I need to resume breastfeeding as soon as possible."

"No, problem. We'll make you comfortable. It will be fine."

.....

I lay face down of the table.

There is a flurry of activity.

I am still nervous.

I am anticipating the warm sensation in my arm as they push the drug.

"How you feeling?"

"Regular."

"Give her two more."

Good night moon...

.....

I am sitting in a wheel chair.

"Would you like something to drink?"

"Apple juice."

"We have let your husband know you are finished and he is getting the kids into the car.

Here are your post-op instructions.

No baths for 24 hours.

And no breastfeeding for 48 hours."

WHAT?!

Only, because I was high as a kite, I said,

"Ok, thanks. Only 48 hours?"

They slipped me a mickey.

Versed.

Bastards.

Here I am, an hour plus away from home.

I seriously own not one bottle.

Not one.

No formula.

No breast pump.

I am not prepared for this scenario. At all.

As if it wasn't awesome already, wanna know how long I was "out" for?

Less than 5 minutes.

5 mins for 48 hours.

And, it's World Breastfeeding Month.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Budding Camera Artist

While at a Military Appreciation Ceremony on Sunday, I decided to let Hunter to play with the camera to keep him entertained. This is what a 2 year old is inspired by:

His shoe:

  
A professional photographer:


Back fat.



We have monkey see, monkey do syndrome around here, so of course, Logan wanted in on the camera fun.

After a few clicks, my boy was hooked and referring to himself as a Camera Artist


Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Hunter is annoyed that Logan now has the camera.


A lid.


My heart necklace.
2 hearts.
1 for Logan.
1 for Hunter.


A tent pole.


A tent stake.


A lid of a different kind.


And, he has taken about 900 more since then.
I kid you not.
I have created a monster.
Or
A Camera Artist.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I have no friends

Well, I have some friends. 

We moved from our hometown of St Louis, five years ago to a small town in Southern Maryland about 60 miles south of DC. Things were a little slow on the friends front, but once we had our first baby, I was able to connect with other new moms through community groups and the library. It was part commuter town, part military town, as it was close to the Pax River NAS where my husband was a contractor and I could go to the park any day of the week and come home with three new best friends. 

Fast forward four years. Due to a BRAC closing of the ANG Base in St Louis, a full time Guard slot opened and we had the opportunity to move our growing family about three hours from our home town. 

Perfect. 

Well, almost perfect.

I consider myself to be a pretty outgoing gal, but I can not meet cool chicks to save my freakin life! My neighborhood is full of (awesome) looong term residents (read: old), so we don't have the kind of neighbors you can split a bottle of wine with on a Saturday night. I was hoping to connect with some mom's of the kids in my son's preschool class, but when they drop their kids off, they have stuff to do and were not interested in a meet up at Starbucks. So many people are locals, and they grew up here, and have friends and family in town, so they don't even consider adding new people in their lives. 

I know it will get better and most days I am cool just hanging with my monsters, but sometimes it's just nice to know you have a friend a phone call away. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It must have been World Breastfeeding Week

I consider myself to be a mom who is quite experienced when it comes to breastfeeding. Oriana is my third exclusively breastfed baby since 2006, and Logan and Hunter were each nursed for 14 months, so I feel like I especially know public breastfeeding etiquette.

I generally wear layered clothing, high-waisted maternity pants (to cover my stomach), or nursing shirts like this. Last Thursday I was wearing a black Gap v-neck t-shirt and a pair of yoga pants with a roll down waist that I wear unrolled as to cover my battle scars, aka stretch marked belly flab.

I see a pain management doctor for chronic neck and back issues related to torn and bulging discs, sciatica, IT Band syndrome, as well as additional nerve and muscle damage. I see my doctor for injections, but when I go in for prescription refills, I see his nurse practitioner, "Mark." Mark is an absolute joy to work with. His children are 9 and 11 years old, and his wife exclusively breastfed both of his children and they shared in some of the same dietary issues my babies have.

On Thursday I was due for a prescription refill and was going to schedule some injections now that I recovered from my c-section (recovered enough, anyway). The office is 65 miles one way and while I was able to leave the boys at home, Ms. Oriana goes everywhere with mom. I arrived about 5 mins late for my appointment (it's farm equipment moving time) and, for once, I was taken back right away by a RN. When all the formalities were done; temperature, blood pressure, etc, I was left to wait for Mark.

After over an hour on the road, the baby started fussing and wanted to eat, so she and I assumed the position. My appointments involve no physical exam, so I was not concerned about holding her or that she would be in the way. I was sitting in a chair with short arms, so I took the baby blanket and placed it under my arm to avoid neck strain (one the reasons I see Ken and this doctor). The nurse came back in to ask me something else and I leaned forward to get a better look at what she was trying to show me. I guess at that time she noticed I was nursing. We finished our conversation, she again informed me that Mark would be in shortly, and left the exam room. She appeared just 30 seconds later and asked if I would like a blanket to cover up since Mark would be coming in.

I said, "No, I'm fine. I am comfortable with Mark and don't think it'll be necessary."

She then frantically reached into a drawer, pulled out a ratty gown, draped it over me, and ran out the door.

Uh....

What?

I modestly nursed in front of Mark my during my two previous appointments. I left feeling pleased about his level of knowledge regarding breastfeeding, considering he worked as a CNP at an OBGYN's office for 8 YEARS before moving over to pain management 7 years ago. I am pretty sure he has professionally seen boobs before.

Needless to say, I happily removed the ratty gown off my body and put it under the arm, as it was still lacking adequate support. Mark came it, discussed my options, gave me my prescription scripts, and SPECIFICALLY asked me how nursing was going all the while the baby happily nursed. When she came up for air, he held her and demonstrated positioning he suggested  may put less strain on the discs I am currently having problems with.

I was given no indication that he suggested the nurse ASK me to cover up.

I know that I was not brazenly flashing my boobs while feeding the baby, and had I not leaned forward while the RN was in the room, she would have never known.

I am not comfortable using a cover up, because I feel like I am putting on a bill board that screams, "THERE IS A BABY SUCKING ON MY BOOB RIGHT NOW!"

I do use a blanket sometimes, but my biggest concern is covering up my stomach since I usually have my shirt covering to the baby's mouth. I do not go out of my way to cover up (capes, blankets, etc) because I have been more than successful at discretely nursing with out all the paraphernalia, so much so, that I have had dads hand me a plate of cake at a Birthday party and never suspect that I am nursing.

So why would a medical PROFESSIONAL basically force me to over up? Was she protecting me? Was she protecting Mark, CNP? Was she so uncomfortable or offended by the feeding of a 9 week old infant that her reaction was place me under a tent?

I feel lucky for my four years of breastfeeding experience when I run into these types of situations.

If I was less experienced or unsure of my decision, I am not sure how I would react.

I was aware that last week, August 1-7, 2010, was World Breastfeeding Week, because of an informative FaceBook group that I "like." I am certain of one thing, this nurse did not get the memo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Some thoughts on the mortgage crisis....

This whole mortgage/real estate/lending thing appears to be getting better, but there plenty of reasons it has gotten as bad as it is. I worked in mortgage for over 10 years for various lending institutions, including high risk loans and banks. I have also had 5 mortgages, so my personal and professional experiences have formed my personal views. 

There are just so many things buyers don't know when going in:


1) You don't have to get a loan through a broker. I have seen every Realtor I know steer their clients to a broker. A broker does what you can do for yourself, except he adds on commission that YOU pay. Generally it can be several thousand dollars. Go to your local credit union, banks, as well as your national chains. You can almost always find yourself a better loan. I only recommend using a broker when you need a specialty loan product.

2) Brokers and lenders were getting greedy. They saw an opportunity to make double the commission. They figured that they would encourage buyers to take these risky loans (like ARMS) on higher priced homes (more commission for broker, lender and Realtor), and in a few years the broker/lender would refinance the borrowers (more fees and commission for them). 

3) Loan documents are very difficult to read and understand. I worked in loan audit and quality control, so have have spend hundreds of hours reading loan documents. While there are specific areas that are more borrower friendly, they are written to protect the bank. 

4) Very little of what you are paying on your loan decreases your principal balance, and in some cases, your loan balance may be increasing. For those that were pressured or advised to take ARM loans probably realized this a little too late. Once you are in this situation there is really no out. Can't sell the house without losing massive amounts of money and can't refinance because the lending laws changed mid stream. Mean while the banks are making thousands of dollars on these loans up front. 

5) Let's look back to #2 and #4. For those who were advised to take an ARM loan and to refi in a few years can't because the laws and rules have changed. House have decreased in value, so even though lenders could have reduced their interest rate, they are claiming they can't, forcing people into foreclosure.

6) When you do a short sale, the difference in the sale price and what you owe may be considered income and the Federal Government may require yo to pay taxes on that amount, so in essence, you are contributing to the money used to bail out banks.

7) Forecloses and short sales do about the same amount of damage to your credit, and when you have a foreclosure, you will be sued and may have your wages garnished. You will keep paying.

8) Banks have collected millions, if not billions, in PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) to help cover losses. Where is this money? Why are we expected to save for the future and lean times, but yet these financial institutions are not?


Also, realize that a good portion of these loans were backed by FANNIE and FREDDIE. Congress controls the dollar amounts funded. I personally believe that Congress opened the flood gates and allowed people who should have never qualified for loans to get them. The government contributed as well.


I am big on personal responsibility, but I know that consumers were at a HUGE disadvantage here. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hunter

Hunter has low grade fever and is pulling his ear. I noticed him pulling that ear a few days ago. Actually, I didn't notice he was pulling on it. I was wiping Cheeto crumbs off his hands and noticed his ear was Cheeto-orange. I guess I'll just wait till his fever spikes and then take him in. Maybe he'll fight it off on his own. There's a first time for everything, right?

This morning her decided that 3 bowls of Rice Krispies, a Nutri-Grain bar, and strawberries were just not enough, so he poured himself another bowl.

Good thing the dog likes Rice Krispies.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One of THOSE Days

Today is one of those days where



....the dirty laundry baskets are over flowing




It's one of those days where



....the boy's bathroom smells like the camp outhouse. 





The kind of day where





....the trash cans are filled with poopie diapers & pee soaked Pull-Ups.





So....

We went to the park. 




Thursday, June 17, 2010

Put your hands up!



All the ladies in the crib...


Put your hands up!



Put your hands up!


Put your hands up!


Put your hands up!



Now SCREAM!

sleep...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blackmail Photos

Hunter really wants nothing to do with his sister,
but 
he is quite interested in her accessories.

Grandma bought those bows for sissy, Hunty!