Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blue Screens Galore

Last week or the week before I downloaded a This American Life story on my i-tunes at work. I'd planned to sync it to my i-pod and take it with me to the gym or for a walk. Instead, I got this awful error message that asked me to restore my i-pod. Which meant I wiped my little Nano clean. And after I did so, it never synced again. Each time I restored and then followed the instructions, it would recycle back to the message telling me a horrible error had occurred and I needed to restore the i-pod.

So I gave up and decided to wait until I got my precious Dell laptop back. I'd loaned it to my friend, whose own Dell was a little less than reliable, so that she could use it to take the bar exam.

This morning, I decided to boot up my Dell and plug in the i-pod to see if the damage would magically get undone.

Instead, not thirty seconds after booting up, I got a blue screen telling me something was terribly wrong with my laptop and I needed to shut down immediately. I repeated this process three times. Then I went and dragged Jason out of bed. He had the same experience. So he worked his magic for a while and then asked me about a bunch of applications on the computer and whether I'd installed them. I don't really install anything on my computer on purpose. And so we quietly cursed my friend. We talked about un-installing the exam software she used to take the bar, blaming that as blue-screening the computer. Which of course didn't make sense because I'd had the exact same software on this very computer for the past three years.

In the end, it turned out it was our wireless connection. Once we dis-enabled the laptop wireless, the computer began functioning just fine. And so I feel a little badly about blaming my friend. I wasn't even mad at her. Just mad at the not knowing what happened.

But the computer trouble didn't end there. Oh no. Because then I decided to see if I could get my i-pod functioning again. The thing is that I'm not particularly technological. And Jason is. And so I pretty much rely on him to fix anything computer related. And I think that really irritates him. But he's so much better about trouble-shooting. At one point he turned to me and said, "Why is it that you have three degrees and you can't figure this out? Why do you think my one computer science degree means I can fix anything?"

My response? "It doesn't? I think a single degree in the computer science trumps English, Spanish, Education, and Law degrees when it comes to things computer related, don't you?"

He grumbled.

"Well, you could at least tell me how you would approach solving the problem-- tell me where you'd find the solution. How you'd figure out how to fix it."

He rolled his eyes. "I'd google it," he replied.

"Well, you're at the computer now. Can't you fix it?"

A heavy sigh later, and I decided it'd be best if I just left him alone. So I went off to change so I could go for a light job. Jason following not long after and sheepishly admitted: "I turns out it's not you after all. It really is the i-pod. I think it's gone."

And then he disappeared. And when I returned from my jog, my miracle-worker husband had unlocked the key to the i-pod mystery. He fixed it. And I have all my music back. And I have my This American Life story back. And I've vowed never to plug my i-pod in to the i-tunes at work.

So here I sit, typing away on my beloved Dell laptop, i-pod charging next to me. And I'm a happy girl.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Happy Easter

Sorry for the delayed post. I was feeling weird about downloading all the photos to my work computer. I got over it. Then I couldn't find the card reader. But I found an alternative solution (obviously). I wish the light were better in Jason's face, but I think it's a good photo. The kids picked out their own outfits. . .

We started the morning by checking out what the Easter Bunny had done:

As you can see from this photo, the Easter Bunny drank the chocolate soy milk, ate most of the carrots, and even ate the two colored, hard-boiled eggs the kids left for him. He was kind enough to leave his egg peel trash in the bowl for easy clean-up. In return, the Bunny left each kid a basket filled with goodies. Fortunately, as I explained to Casey and Marcie in advance, I wrote the Bunny a letter this year and asked him not to bring too much candy. All that sugar just isn't good for their teeth or their moods. So the kids weren't expecting much candy. What they got was better than candy. They each got a pair of shoes (Casey finally got his beloved N shoes, which I've written about before. They are yellow and black "with no ripping," just like Casey said). They both got a monkey cup with matching tumbler and four dry erase markers. They both got two peanut butter eggs (which I ate because they didn't like them!). Marcie got markers and a pad of paper. And Casey got 101 Dalmations. The Bunny obviously thinks our kids our great because he even left them stuff at Grandma and Grandpa's house, too.

After pulling everything out of their baskets, the kids posed for a photo opportunity:

I must admit, this is probably one of my all-time favorite pictures of the kids. Even though it's out of focus and blurry because of their activity. I mean, they are literally posing. How can you not find that funny? After they posed, they ran off to watch the beginning of 101 Dalmations.
Then, we went to church, where the kids were unusually well-behaved.

Marcie insisted on wearing her new, pearl pink Crocs. The kids mainly entertained themselves with Cheerios, and books, which they read out loud. It wasn't too distracting. I had to laugh, though, when they each held up the books teacher-style, as if showing the pictures to the class. The "class" was the row in front of them, the backs of people. But they didn't seem to mind, and their activities were keeping them quiet enough that I could actually hear the priest speak. Too bad what he had to say wasn't so impressive. But that's another story.

After church, we let the kids get some donuts and juice, and we headed home. I threw our ribeye roast in the oven, while the kids finished decorating our traditional Easter Bunny cake. This year, we decided on chocolate cake for a white bunny with a brown bow tie. The ears are a little lopsided. I think this bunny is just tilting its head:

The jelly beans above the bunny's eyes are hair, according to Casey. And if you're wondering, our kids don't actually eat the jelly beans. In fact, this year, they each got one piece and the remaining bunny went to my office so everyone else could enjoy the sweets.

While our roast was, uh, roasting, the kids convinced us to take them to the park. It's at the end of our street, and Casey asked to ride his bike. So we let him give it a try:

He actually did a great job using his brakes. And the most impressive part is that he actually rode the bike all the way home-- even though we live at the top of a hill! It's time to get him a real bike, and I think Marcie will be pleased when she inherits this one.

After about 40 minutes at the park, we returned home for lunch. Mmm. Ribeye roast, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Plus sparking apple cider (which I refer to as "apple soda"). The kids tried lemonade for the first time, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. But I can't undo it now.

The kids were ready to nap right after lunch. Actually, Casey asked to nap during lunch, then returned to the table saying he couldn't sleep. He didn't end up napping; he just read books to himself in bed (and I use the word "read" loosely, of course). After Marcie was finished napping, we completed our family egg hunt. The backyard is undergoing a renovation of sorts, and it's covered in black tarp instead of grass, which is why we conducted the egg hunt in the front yard:

We don't use actual eggs in our hunt, because I have this fear one will be left behind and will stink up the yard. So this year I filled the plastic eggs with dark chocolate almond MnMs (blech) and stickers. Casey got probably two or three times as many as Marcie, but it doesn't matter because we pool the Easter goods. We dumped all the candy into a quart-sized ziplock, and the kids will get 4-5 for dessert each day this week, and then we'll tell them they're all gone. Even though they will either be hidden on top of the fridge or thrown out (in which case I suppose technically they are all gone). Thankfully, they don't really have a concept of portions and amounts, so they will take us at our word and we won't have to fight with them about why we don't want them having so much candy. But I digress.

After our egg hunt, we headed off to Jason's parents, where his dad prepared a delicious ham meal. Marcie's Godmother "Aunty Tiffy" and her fiance were there, which was fun for me because I had someone to chit chat with. Mostly we talked about weddings and Jessica and Jon's baby (that's Jason's other sister and her husband). We're so excited to add another child to the family.

And that was our Easter. It was lovely. Low key. Beautiful weather. Family. What more could you ask for, really?

I hope your weekend was as relaxing and enjoyable as ours. Whether or not you celebrated Easter.

Oh. And to my friend Alison who I know reads my blog, good luck on the interview. I know you'll rock it. And to the rest of you-- please keep my friend Alison in your happy thoughts. She has a job interview Thursday for a position that she really wants. I know she doesn't need our wishes of good luck, but it always feels nice anyway, doesn't it?

Friday, March 21, 2008


So it turns out there's a baby boom going on around me right now. And it's mostly boys.

After hearing my friend Lisa's good news that she'll be arriving in China on April 10th to meet her new little girl, I also got the news that my sister-in-law is having a boy. And that Casey's teacher is having a boy. And that one of the teachers in Marcie's area of the school is having a boy. And now one of my good friends, who was pretty sure she was going to have another girl because that's what she'd mostly planned for, has learned she, too, is having a boy.

I'm so happy for all of them. Parenting Marcie has been very different than parenting Casey. She so communicative. And much less rambunctious. I have this theory that boys are "easier" when they're older (puberty and beyond), and girls make for more stable toddler and preschool years. I know there are exceptions to this, but it's what I think. So when we had Casey first, I thought, "Yay. Let's get all the tough stuff over with while we're young and can move quickly." That's the advantage of boys. We'll see. I've probably just totally jinxed myself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Little of This, A Little of That

A few of you have written to me to inquire as to my well-being. Thank you. It's so thoughtful! I am, indeed, alive and kickin'. I don't really have any great excuse for my lack of blogging. A few weeks ago, Jason's computer bit the dust. "Not to worry," I told him. "You can just switch over mine and use it. I can do work on my work laptop."

So that's what he did. And all was right with the world. For about a week. Then one afternoon in the study, there was a POP and the smell of an electric fire. My computer had crashed, too. Jason figured out the problem and resolved it. But I'm still without a home-computer. And I feel weird about using my work computer to blog. Even though I'm not on the work system. I'll be getting my personal laptop back soon. But I'm sure I'll come with another excuse for not blogging.

In the meantime, life's just been plodding along. We sure do manage to keep ourselves busy. We're in the midst of a yard re-landscaping. Sort of. Jason has managed to dig up the weeds from the side yard and the back yard and lay down plastic to make sure everything dies before we dig it all out so we can put in the new stuff.

This means I get to do the really fun stuff with the kids while Jason's out working in the yard. For instance, last weekend after music class I took Marcie to this fancy third birthday party for a little girl in her class. Then, right after I walked in the door, Jason put Marcie down for a nap, and I walked right out the door with Casey. We went to see Horton Hears a Who, during which I fell asleep. I know this because at one point, Casey asked me if I was okay. At least he didn't wander off in the theater while I cat-napped.

On Sunday, we went for a walk to our local Original Pancake House, where Casey proceeded to practically inhale five pancakes. I can't even eat that many pancakes!

Also going on is our toilet training experiment with Marcie. And I think experiment is really the right word for it. Marcie has been trying. But I'm not sure that's good enough. There's really no trying-- there is or there isn't. At least when it comes to toilet training. I mean, she's either going in her pants or she's going in the toilet. There's really no in-between there. And when she's having a good day, she's having a very good day. Like the day we went to the zoo. No accidents. Not even in the car. Not even though she fell asleep on the way home. But if I don't force her to sit on the toilet every hour, well, it can be disastrous. And the thing is, the poor girl tries to clean up after herself! This morning, for instance, after she pooped in her little potty, she tried to pour it into the toilet, but it got on her hands and arms, then she stepped in some. Then she walked all over the house. Anyway, I think you get the idea.

So that's where things are. nothing spectacular. Just another couple regular ole weeks.

But Easter is coming. And the rumor is the Easter Bunny is visiting the kids at our house and at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Talk about spoiled. I'll post pictures. I promise.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Smiles All Around

This has been a week of smileyness. I don't think it's a word. But that's okay.

On Tuesday, good friends of ours who started their adoption paperwork not long after we did finally received their referral after a 27-month wait. They'll be traveling to China to pick up their daughter in April. And their daughter is from Chongqing, just like Marcie! She's also enormous, just like Marcie. And by enormous, I mean 17 pounds at 7 months. Off the Chinese charts.

On Wednesday, our kids visited the dentist. It was Casey's third time, but Marcie's first. Casey did a fantastic job letting them take x-rays and sitting still, mouth wide open for the polishing. The hygienist said he was her best behaved patient of the day! The dentist was impressed by the cleanliness of Casey's teeth, and the receptionist seemed surprised that we were walking out the door with two cavity-free children!

Marcie didn't appreciate the dentist experience as much as Casey did. She pretty much screamed tearfully the whole time he was looking in her mouth. Fortunately, screaming forces her mouth open, and that made his job relatively easy. I mean except for the noise and the wiggliness.

After we got home, I took the kids for a walk. At first I thought it was odd that so many people were smiling and laughing as they drove by. Especially male drivers. Then I remembered what Casey was wearing:

He's been wearing this costume in all his non-school time since it arrived on Tuesday (as a reward for 20 good behavior stickers). Even to bed (sans cape because we have a no-cape-to-bed rule-- too easy to get wrapped up and choked up in it). Glad I could provide the neighborhood some cheer.

And then today, we got word that our newest arrival (coming this July or August) will be a nephew. I already knew this unofficially because Jason has this uncanny knack for guessing a child's gender in utero before the 16-week ultra sound, and last week he offhandedly (and unintentionally) referred to the baby as a he. But today's phone call from Jason's sister confirmed it-- it's a boy. So that leaves Marcie with six male cousins. I think it's high time a family member produces a girl around here! Regardless of gender, we're looking forward to welcoming another S. child into the extended family fold. . .

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Supermarket Club Membership

Today I joined a club I'd hoped I'd live to never, ever join. Yet, as I stood in the aisle of our local Albertsons, feeling testy, I heard myself say it: "Casey, I'm going to count to three, and if you don't get over here by the time I get to three, we will just leave. One . . . Two . . . Three. " Then complete panic.

Of course I left. I toted Marcie over to the front end manager, who I am confident recognized me. I explained that one of my kids was being difficult and that I'd left my half filled cart next to the grapes. I failed to mention that I lived less than five minutes away and that I'd be back momentarily to finish the shopping. Fortunately, he read my mind. Because after I deposited Casey into his bedroom in a five minute time out and reminded him that I placed him there, not his dad, I returned to the grocery store. Where my cart was still parked right next to the grapes, where I'd left it.

Today's supermarket meltdown was not entirely Casey's fault, of course. A series of mistakes led to it. But it was mostly his fault. Here's how the day went:

1:00 pm the kids went down for a nap after kissing Aunt Megan, Uncle Timour and Grandma good-bye and thanking them for their visit.

1:05 pm Megan, my mom and I headed to Target to get some shoes. While there, I saw some shoes I knew Marcie wanted, so I picked them off the shelf to purchase for her. But at the check stand, my mom insisted she pay. And who was I to argue.

Fast-forward to 3:00 pm, when I woke up both kids from their naps. In an attempt to give Marcie some special attention because Casey is always getting stuff, I made mistake #1:

Me: Marcie, look at these special shoes Grandma bought for you. Let's try them on and make sure they fit.
Marcie: (cooing)
Casey: What did Grandma get for me? Did she get me shoes?
Me: Uh. . . well, Casey, Grandma knows you have lots of shoes and she didn't want to pick out something you already had or wouldn't like, so she asked me to go get some shoe with you from her. Would you like to do that?

Now what was I thinking? Why did I ever mention my mom paid for them? Why promise Casey shoes anyway? But the damage had been done because Casey knew after his snack that we were going to pick out some more new shoes for him.

Then it happened. Mistake #2:

Me: Okay, Casey, let' s go see what Target has.
Casey: I want N shoes.
Me: What are N shoes?
Jason: But what are they, Casey?
Casey: I told you already. They are N shoes.
Me: Do they have them at Target? Can you show us?
Casey nods his head yes.

WHY didn't I insist he show me on the computer or on TV before we headed to Target? Why didn't I insist that he had to pick from the Target selection no matter what before we'd even left the house?

Well, I didn't. So off to Target we went. And they didn't have the N shoes he wanted, whatever those are. And then came Mistake #3-- going to a different shoe store.

And while at the different shoe store, we found shoes with an N on them (New Balance), but I could tell it wasn't what Casey wanted. And as the minutes passed, poor Casey grew more and more desperate to find shoes-- any shoes. He just didn't want to leave empty-handed. Why didn't I see that coming?

[And as a side note, we had a weird interaction with the sales woman in the shoe store-- who first saw me with Marcie, pleasantly let me and the kids know she could help us if we needed anything, and then noticed Jason come up behind me. She commented to us: "Oh, now I see where she gets it. Wow. She looks JUST like her dad, doesn't she? That's amazing! I have four kids and two of mine look just like me and two look just like my husband. It's the same." We didn't say anything. We just smiled. Because we didn't quite know what else to do. I mean, she sounded relieved and that made me feel uncomfortable because what does she care if we all "match" or not.]

And finally came Mistake #4. After we returned home, which we were able to do only because we practically dragged a sobbing Casey out of the shoe store, I told Casey he could stay home with Jason or come grocery shopping with me. Both Casey and Marcie opted for the grocery store. But once we pulled into a parking spot at the store, Casey began to whimper that he'd wanted to go to a different shoe store. I explained that we'd have to wait on the shoes, but that he could help me put stuff in the grocery cart.

Of course the shopping wasn't enough to occupy Casey. He took control of the cart when my back was to him, pulling something off a shelf, and he rammed the cart (and consequently Marcie's hand) into the shelf. I was fuming. Marcie was wailing. And Casey was running. When I finally caught up to him and put him in a time-out near sitting on the shelf beneath all the gift cards, he began pulling cards off their little racks. An elderly man walked by and commented to Casey, "Mind your mother," which caused Casey to spit at me. And things just went down hill from there.

So in the end, the shopping got done, Casey got over his disappointment, and things have calmed down. As I type this, Casey is hanging over the arm of the chair in which I'm sitting. He just leaned in to me and said, "I'm sorry for pushing Marcie and hurting her at the store." And he gave me a kiss. And he just asked me what I'm doing because he's recognized his name twice and Marcie's, too, and he wants to know why I'm typing letters that are their names. It sure is hard to stay mad for long around here. . .