Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween through the ages

Totally stealing inspired by the lovely Chelsey, taking a look back at Em through the past few Halloweens.

Age 1


Age 2

And tonight, at age 3
Hope you had a wonderful Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breakin', too: Electric Boogaloo

We love Portland. We really do. We love our new neighborhood and our rental home.

But we wonder how much Portland loves us, given the recent hiccups we've encountered since moving in a little over a week ago.

A day and a half after moving in, the brand new fridge that came with our house stopped working. Lights were on but it wasn't getting cold. Our landlord, who is great and accessible as she's just around the corner from us, had it replaced shortly thereafter. Thankfully I hadn't done a large shopping trip yet, so the culinary casualties were minimal.

Then I did our first load of laundry in the washer/dryer. The first load in the dryer never heated up. It just circled the drum for hours in room temp air. It took a day or two for a replacement to be delivered, only to discover that it also wouldn't heat up.

The electricity in our place has a mind of its own. The light switch in Em's room somehow controls the hallway, dining room and bathroom. We realized this around the same time the replacement dryer arrived and didn't work. When I told our landlord that maybe these appliance woes had something to do with the electrical system, she assured me that it couldn't be possible -- the house's entire electrical system was recently redone.

A third dryer arrived yesterday, and as expected, it didn't work. My landlord came over and saw for herself that perhaps it is an electrical issue. Her electrician will check it out tomorrow, hopefully, at the same time he'll check out the wonky stuff going on with Em's light switch.

Oh, but the fun doesn't stop there!

Our TV suddenly shuts off. We thought it was damaged in transit, but now we're not so sure it's not a result of the wonky electrical stuff.

We do know, however, that Brent's car was damaged in transit. There are two dents on the roof of his car that we hadn't seen until we looked down from our rental's balcony. Brent's sunroof won't open as a result.

And today when he went to pick up a few groceries, his car lost all power steering. It's a hybrid, so there's no power steering fluid (or something else technical I don't understand). Not sure what the cause is, but we're having it towed to the shop tomorrow.

Do we have bad mechanical mojo or what?

I know it'll all get smoothed out eventually, but it's hard not to get frustrated when it's one thing after the other.

There are plenty of things I'm loving with our new place, though. We have two fireplaces, and we're cozying up to one as I type this.

At 2.5x the size of our tiny Santa Monica condo, which is officially no longer ours of last week (WOO HOO!), this house feels positively large. We have lots of areas to fill, and I'm enjoying shopping for decor.

Our kitchen is large, and although not outfitted with the stainless steel appliances we had in our condo, they are brand new or updated. That, paired with the expansive counter tops and so much storage space, makes this non-cook want to cook and get back to baking.

Speaking of the kitchen, in an odd twist given that we moved away from Los Angeles, yesterday morning we were visited by a location scout, who wanted to see if we were interested in having a series of commercials for a very well-known brand shot in our kitchen. When I explained that we were renters, he noted that renters/owners typically share the location payment. We mulled it over, decided it could be an interesting experience, and sent a note to our landlord. She's intrigued and wants to chat more tomorrow. So maybe you'll get to see it for yourself someday on TV!

In between waiting for new appliances to get delivered and be wooed by production folks, we have fit in a few excursions. More on that in future posts, though, before this laptop decides to electrocute me.

Wouldn't surprise me if it did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My girl wants to potty all the time*

Warning -- toddler pee and poop talk ahead. Read at your own discretion because I won't be discrete.

I was probably more stressed about potty training than Em. I'd read the books. I'd bought the potty ring, the potty seats, the sticker charts, the rewards, the training pants. I was prepared as prepared could be.

Em was showing more signs of readiness. And per her pediatrician, we were waiting for Em to be ready rather than a certain age. She wasn't telling us before she'd go in her diaper, but she'd frequently ask to be changed. She'd roleplay with her dolls and tell me that they had to use the potty, and then cheer, "They did it!" after she'd sat them on it for a few seconds. She couldn't undress/dress herself, but otherwise, all signs were pointing to a potty training program launch.

I read the 3-Day Potty Training method, which sounded a bit tortuous, requiring one to stay at home with your kid for three entire days, but I liked the sound of the "just get it done" approach.

I also read the 1-Day Potty Training method, which appeared to be a fun-filled program, with its party and presents, but it still relied on diapers and pull-ups for naps and bedtime. The shorter training period was appealing, but I didn't want to confuse Em with "It's OK to pee in your pants NOW, but not NOW" so I opted to try the longer, 3-Day method that relied on a diaper-free approach.

Day 1 was the roughest. We put her in her "big girl undies," and she was a bit confused that we weren't using her changing table anymore. The morning was filled with accidents. She'd start to pee, and I'd swoop her up and run her to the bathroom. Em would freak out about being wet, and I was becoming best friends with our Swiffer Wet Jet. At one point she ran across our condo mid-accident, and slipped in her own pee. It was mass chaos, folks. By lunch at noon, though, something seemed to click. She'd tell me that she needed to pee, and then she'd actually GO on the potty. It was a potty training miracle. She also enjoyed the incentive of washing her hands (she loves the running water and playing with the soap), a sticker on her potty training chart, followed by a Trader Joe's gummy bear.

I was nervous about how she'd handle her 2-hour nap. I hated the idea of ruining her expensive crib mattress. (We converted her crib to a toddler bed a few months ago, with much success, I'm happy to report.) I bought puppy pads, which are designed to protect the ground when potty training puppies, at the nearby pet store. I put a puppy pad on the mattress, covered it with one of her crib sheets. Then placed another pad on top of that, covered with another sheet. Then I covered that with her Ultimate Crib Sheet, which is waterproof.  That way if there was a sleep accident, it'd be easy just to remove the top layer, change her pjs and all of us go back to sleep. It was less about the hassle of changing the sheets, though, and more about protecting the mattress.

As it turned out, her 2-hour nap on Day 1 was totally dry. That night she had one accident, but it took just a few minutes to get that taken care of.

Day 2 was much better. One accident, I think, and maybe one at night.

Day 3 went smoothly, although the one accident she had was when she pooped in her pants during the day. That night, though, she woke up in the middle of the night and asked to use the potty. (And then did.) Very exciting!

There were a few days where pooping in the potty was a bit of a hurdle. We overcame that, though, by being silly and reminding her that poop goes in the potty. She'd say, "Poop goes....on Mommy!" And we'd all laugh and say, "Nooo....." And "Poop goes....on the ground!" "Noooo...." "Poop goes....IN THE POTTY!" And we'd all cheer. Silly, but it worked.

That Friday morning was our first outing, to her Gymboree class. Every few minutes I'd remind her to tell me if she needed to use the potty, and to my surprise, she did. She had no issues with using the big toilet without her potty ring. (I perched her on the edge and held her hands to steady her.)

Our three days of training occurred mid-August, and she's still doing great. I can't remember the last time she had a nighttime accident, and she almost always tells us when she needs to go. (There were a couple accidents at Grandma's last week, but I chalk that up to all the madness with this relocation. I'm surprised there haven't been more potty setbacks with the move, honestly.)

In preparation for her transition to a preschool here in Portland, we've spent the last few days working on her getting to and through the potty independently. That is, she's undressing herself, stepping up on the step-stool, easing herself onto the potty ring, wiping, flushing and washing her hands with no assistance from me. She's enjoying the independence and the subsequent high-fiving when she's done it "all by myself!"

This post serves not only as an opportunity to share our experience with all of you, but also as a reminder to myself when it comes time to do this again with an eventual kid. Even just a couple months later it's easy to romanticize the process. "Awww, Em was easy to train!" No, there were hurdles and bodily fluids and frantic texts to Brent. I just had to remind myself that it's all part of growing up and raising that little human we brought into this world.

*Alternate post titles: Potty in the U.S.A.; You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Pottttttty; Get the Potty Started; Gonna Potty Like It's 1999; It's My Potty & I'll Cry If I Want To

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back and forth

Last Friday Em and I flew back down to LA. I had to oversee the packers and movers in our condo, which turned out to time perfectly with the weekend wedding of my friend, Tori.

Us gals & Tori, the bride
Don't mind my silly smile.
The gals
Here I am a little more dignified. Side note: My dress was $15 at H&M. The shoes, which you can't see, and purse were a steal at $9 TOTAL at Payless' buy-one-get-one-half-off sale. I should probably be ashamed of my cheap taste, but I can't help but be proud of my bargains.

The packing/moving portion of our visit was kind of nuts, but all in all, it went well. It was strange to see all our worldly belongings packed into this giant truck.

The workers were very cordial, even when they moved our couch and unearthed this mess treasure trove. I was mortified. They thought it was hilarious. Next time I'm missing a ponytail holder, I know where to look.


The rest of our visit was spent with Em's grandparents. Both of these pics happen to be from one of my fav LA restaurants, Versailles -- two separate visits that week with the grandparents.

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While the flight down to LA went smoothly, the flight home was a mess. I chose a late-night (9:30 - 11:55 p.m.) flight over the 6 a.m. flight, thinking Em would just fall asleep. She didn't. She's like her mama and is not a good plane sleeper. After tossing and turning and trying to curl up on my lap, she finally fell asleep with her head on my lap. However, when it came time to buckle her into her own seat for the descent/landing, she threw the world's biggest fit. I apologized to all the passengers around me for her 15-minute tantrum, but no one (verbally) seemed to mind. At the baggage claim, another passenger told me I handled it well.

Next time I'm choosing the crack-of-dawn flight, and/or hiring a travel surrogate.

Thankful to leave the 93-degree SoCal heat wave behind, we're back in Portland. We found a fabulous rental home in the cutest neighborhood, and I can't wait to get settled when we move in this weekend.

As much as we appreciate the amenities of our corporate housing, we're all looking forward to getting out of this relocation limbo.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I know a girl. She puts the color inside of my world.

I don't know what we did to deserve this sweet little girl.


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But I thank our lucky stars each day that she's all ours. 

Happy 3rd birthday, Em!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A magical tale

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was excited to visit Disneyland for the first time.

She saw the big castle and couldn't believe her eyes.

Her mom and dad were excited to take her on all the amazing attractions.

She encountered some fairies...

And was at a loss for words when she met THE Tinkerbell and her friends.

She rode the Finding Nemo submarine ride, and even handled the scary dark parts like a champ. (However, she later refused to ride the carousel because the horses were "too big.")

After lunch, they went back to the hotel to take a nap, which was brilliant for all involved.

Refreshed post-nap, they headed back to the park and rode some flying elephants.


Then it was tea(cup) time!


The little girl learned that it is a small world after all.

They visited Mickey's house and met the mouse himself.

And they ended the fun-filled day front-row at the daily parade.

When the little girl's favorite princess, Rapunzel, rode by and blew the little girl a big kiss, the little girl's mom might've gotten a little teary at the excitement of it all.

The little girl slept soundly that night, and her parents were pleased to have discovered the true magic of the happiest place on earth.