July 28, 2005

Are you a flosser?

Okay, let’s just say that my opinion of the Nebraska Furniture Mart has risen considerably since my experience there yesterday. They had an excellent selection of good, hardwood furniture at very reasonable prices. Still darn expensive, but I feel safe saying that X and I will be using our purchase for many years to come - unlike the creppy dresser I bought 3 years ago. I suspect THAT dresser won’t even make it to the next house we purchase. Here’s an odd observation - let me start by saying that I am an Antique Roadshow NUT - one of the very things I love about my DVR is that there is nearly always an episode of AR queued up for me. So, as the sales guy was taking the drawers out to show me the various constructions - I realized all those hours of vegging on the couch watching the Keno brothers had PAID OFF. I knew what the sales guy was talking about! I certainly based part of my purchase on the construction of the piece and not solely on the looks. Furthermore, since I had toured 2 other furniture stores the day prior, I walked out of the Nebraska Furn. Mart very satisfied and secure in the knowledge that I had made the right decisions. Don’t you HATE that feeling of making a big purchase but are unsure you did the right thing? I felt that way after we bought our mongo plasma TV a month back - we had researched the TV, but got sucked into buying the surround sound and all his little buddies - items we had NOT researched. I walked out of the place with a sinking stomach. It ended up working out GREAT but I was a little sick about the whole thing until it was all set up. It is hard for me to spend huge sums of money at once - it generally makes me queasy. Sure, I can fritter away money here and there all day long (just ask Amazon.com), but to spend it one big shot makes me nervous. Anyway, furniture purchasing is DONE. I don’t think we will need much of anything else for a long, long time - maybe some children’s furniture down the road, but the adult side of things is finished. Actually, it is a good feeling to know that there are no Big Purchase Desires swimming in the back of my head - our cars are paid off, we have The MongoTV now, all the furniture we need, and a great house. Stick a fork in me.

So, I met the Really Tepid Gal for lunch yesterday - it WAS really nice to see her. For one, she is a 6 Feet Under fan, so we HAD to dish about Sunday’s episode - I am STILL in shock over that one. (Rancid Tangent: If you are a fan, here’s a question for you? Do you think Nathan is really dead??). Oddly enough, the other reason it was really nice to see her is that it made me love my husband even more. You see, X was the one who really urged me to go ahead and quit early. If it wasn’t for him pushing, I would have worked to the end out of guilt - to make as much money as possible. So, after a lunch with Really Tepid Gal, hearing how Big Al hasn’t changed a bit in a month and has actually gotten worse, I now love my husband even more. Interesting, eh?

I am off to the Dentist - I GOT IN! They had a cancellation and I was able to take the spot. I am very glad. My dentist, while a bit too popular obviously, is a great guy. You hear his story and your heart goes all squishy - his wife left him years, years ago with 4 small children and he raised them alone. His son is now in practice with him, all this children are happy, successful blah, blah - seriously, you hear the story and you melt because he is such a great guy and it's nice to hear a sad story with a happy ending. Ah, the joys of living in a suburb that actually used to just be a small town. What will I do when my grandma is no longer here to give me everyone’s backstory?

Anyway, I must find some floss or string or something and hide the fact that I am an Evil Non-Flosser.

Does anyone really floss on a daily basis??? Seriously - 'fess up!

July 27, 2005

Where does the time fly?

Well, I went to two furniture stores yesterday and managed to conceal my horror at the prices of hardwood furniture. I was hoping to avoid the obvious, but alas, it was not to be. Folks, I must trek my fat butt to Nebraska Furniture Mart - a place I try to avoid at all costs. Last year, I broke down in similar desperation and came away with an acceptable purchase, but overall, that place irks me. They seem to be confused as to what the name of their store is because I remember seeing DVDs, computers, and appliances there. - that bothered me, for some reason. What next? Best Buy selling couches? Also, I know for a fact that Nebraska Furn. Mart doesn’t necessarily have the best prices in the town, either. The place where I just bought my living room set? Their prices are comparable, you don’t have to walk miles to get to the front door, if you phone the place, you get a PERSON instead of a Phone Tree and the delivery process was a breeze. Unfortunately, they didn’t happen to have a dresser that matched my current bedroom set. Anyway - there could be worse problems, I suppose.

Yesterday was pretty nice - I went for a nice Japanese lunch by myself. I had sushi*, edamame, soup and salad. It was delightful and the meal lasted me all afternoon! I ran errands and managed to avoid Babies R Us yet again. However, I did make a purchase for the Freeloader at Target - the first purchase ever specifically FOR HIM. Quite a milestone, yet I am well aware that the purchasing has only just begun for the little guy. While I am pondering crib prices, X is already researching the cost of private colleges (of course, I still harbor the desire that our kids go to MY alma mater, the University of Kansas, a solid state university that is AFFORDABLE).

Today, I meet the Really Tepid Gal from Big Al’s for lunch - should be interesting to see if I have missed anything (okay, I couldn’t even type that without smirking!). I can't believe it has already been a whole month since I left the place. I am really enjoying staying home. I am SO GLAD I took this time off. Several of my friends said I wouldn’t regret it and they were right. It has been so encouraging to get all these little household things DONE - things I have wanted to do since we moved in. I have to wonder, how I would have gotten this all done if I was still working.** So far, I am able to keep my days quite full. The secret for me so far is to get up everyday at a decent time (7-8:30am), leave the TV in off mode til after 5pm, and set some sort of goal for myself everyday. I guess it is not terribly surprising, but my self-esteem has risen considerably now that I am out of that cesspool of negativity at Big Al’s - who knows, maybe I'll even lose weight!!! (insert maniacial, hysterical laughter). Anyway, I see all sorts of progress going on in my house and I FEEL GOOD. My goal is to have everything done by August. I am terrified of being put on bed-rest or something like that. Also, I am definitely “feeling pregnant” now and suspect that I will be a slow-moving Goliath in September. I don’t have the energy like I used to, I can’t lift things as well anymore, and I am going to have to start slowing down thanks to Old Braxton Hicks and his contractions. I will be okay for the San Jose trip this weekend, *** but it is a good thing it will be the last trip. I am definitely reaching my last days of lugging a suitcase in and out of airports.

*Note to Pregnancy Patrol: I had unagi which is COOKED freshwater eel and considered to be in the realm of Approved Sushi Consumption. Sorry to disappoint you. However, I did have CAFFEINE yesterday so you can chew on that instead. Give a dog a bone, right?

**Rancid Tangent : Hey Fellow Houseowners, remember the days of apartments? Remember boring sunny Saturday afternoons spent lounging around with nothing to do? Yeah, neither do I. The thing I remember most about first purchasing a house was how it became a veritable Wind Tunnel for Weekends, sucking up all your free time in its path.

***Damn straight, I will be sucking it up for the Winchester House tour - a place I have wanted to visit ever since I read about it in my first Amazing Facts book when I was kid. I have to admit that a part of me is going just as much for the house as it is for the BlogHer conference.

July 26, 2005

Is this what happens when Macs attack?

Grrrr.... I had a post that was nearly completed and I lost it. I can’t even blame Blogger for this one! I always compose in a word processor, then cut/paste into Blogger. Somehow, there was a miscommunication between myself and my Mac (basically, I suspect I forgot to SAVE THE DOCUMENT). I am becoming so comfortable working on this Mac, that I go in and out of the office throughout the day, never, ever thinking that I should SAVE once in awhile. Anyway - I have promised some friends my spiced iced tea recipe for months now and I hereby vow to re-type the damned thing again this week. Promise. Cross my eyes? My fingers? Whatever.

Anyway, much has been going on in the Rancid Raves le Manse. The weekend was spent preparing furiously for the movers that came yesterday. I had to empty the coffee table of it’s usual pile of crep, clear bookshelves, and purge dresser drawers. Of course, this creates the perfect opportunity to set aside things for charity donation, garage sale use, or used-bookstore sales so the going was slow, but extremely satisfying. Little by little, I can see the house getting into order. My goal is to have everything completed by the end of August so I can spend September being fat and happy.

The movers did come yesterday and while I feel totally ripped off for what I paid for TWENTY minutes of work, it WAS worth it. There is no way X and I could have done it, and I am so over bribing friends and family to come to do that stuff anymore. Anyway, our living room is devoid of furniture so we are Floor Rats until the new couch, etc arrives on August 8th. The kid’s room is ready to go with my childhood dresser, cedar chest, and bookshelf. My office is now officially serving double duty as a spare bedroom. I feel pretty good about it all and am VERY happy with the results. However, I did learn an important lesson yesterday. I have commented several times on how the Freeloader is getting my OLD childhood dresser. We are keeping the newer dresser for our bedroom and buying another new dresser. since we need two dressers. It has become increasingly obvious that my old childhood dresser is clearly the better bargain - that thing is 20+ years old and is still solid. Conversely, the newer dresser is only 3 years and is already falling apart! That, my friends, is the crucial difference between hardwood furniture and particle board. Therefore, when I go out today to buy another dresser for our bedroom, I will be sucking it up and buying hardwood. I don’t care what it costs. I am hoping the cheap dresser* will last at least a few more years before I replace IT with a hardwood dresser.

Yesterday, I sold a ton of books at the used bookstore. Normally, I would prefer to do Bookcrossing , but there is no way I have the energy or strength for that right now. It’s one thing to Bookcross a small stack of novels, it’s another thing entirely to try and Bookcross a box of Time-Life books. As it was, I needed my Mom to help me carry it all in. The good thing is that I am able to use my credit with the bookstore to purchase some baby board books for the little Freeloader. I have a pretty good selection of children’s classics for his bookshelf - Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Gus the Ghost, etc, but was severely lacking in the board book department.

Finally, today I buy a crib - from the comfort of my office because I am ordering that puppy on the Internet. ALL HAIL THE INTERNET. I wish I could buy all the baby gear from the Internet, but am realistic in that I do actually need to see some of this stuff.

I hit 28 weeks on Saturday and can say with certainty that is why I finally feel comfortable buying things for this baby. I had bought some things last year from a family friend for “some baby in the future” but had not really bought anything specifically for THIS baby (save for the board books recently purchased). The fact that I am even venturing into a Babies R Us is quite a milestone for me. Wish me luck.

*It burns me to say “cheap” because the thing cost a little over $300 which certainly didn’t FEEL cheap at the time.

July 22, 2005

What am I up to today?

7:47 am: Wake up after a delightfulnight’s sleep - appreciate sleeping in my own bed instead of the creppy one at the hotel in D.C. Notice 2 of the 3 cats peering expectantly at me. Stroll downstairs and realize with dismay that we are out of cat food. The cats start to circle menacingly. I notice cat #3 outside, looking desperate. Hurry upstairs, take a shower, and escape to the grocery store.

8:15 am: Quickly forget about the cat’s dire situation when I enter one of my favorite places. Yes, I LOVE to grocery shop. Furthermore, with all the traveling, my eating habits have turned to junk, so I am looking forward to eating healthier now that I am home. I go through the produce section and then heads towards the fish. SCORE. They still have marlin! Marlin is a wonderful, “steaky” fish that grills well and makes excellent curries. This fish can hold it own and I love it, but they only sell it about once a year. Try to hide my excitement so the fish guy doesn’t think I am a total geek. Not very successful as I gush about the many wonderful properties of marlin that I just described. Fish guy is actually interested! Stock up on other necessities and head for the checkout line. Can’t resist headlines from US Weekly and People. Damned Jude Law and his wandering ways.

8:50 am: Get home and immediately give the cats their food. They don’t look very grateful, the damned little Bags o’ Fur. Bring all the groceries in and start to put them away. For some reason, realize this is an excellent opportunity to clean out the fridge.

10:10 am: Finished with groceries and fridge cleaning, I realize with horror, I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet. YES - caffeinated - I don’t understand why so many pregnant women run from caffeine in horror, when everything I have read says you can have up to 300 mg of caffeine a day - and my doctor agrees. For that matter, so does the Freeloader. Anyway, I brew some coffee, stir up some oatmeal and settle down with a magazine. I smirk with amusement over the reader’s letters expressing outrage over Brad and Angelina. My favorite quote? ”Brad is giving up a wonderful soulmate for his midlife crisis. It is not too late as the divorce is not final yet. They were an inspiration to all married people. Brad wake up!” Ponder the stupidity of the reader when I realize with a start, I buy the stupid magazine myself. Groan.

10:25 am: Hop onto the computer and start "my daily reads". Flip over to the furniture site to gaze lovingly at the living room set I bought yesterday. Pray fervently it doesn't really take the 2-4 weeks to ship as indicated on the receipt. Please, oh please...... Realize I must start my battery of business calls soon - must confirm auto body appointment for car on Monday, then confirm rental car, then get plane tickets for trip to San Jose next week, confirm rental car for that trip, call electrician, call movers to come to our house and move a myriad of heavy stuff around the house, etc. etc.

10:50 am: Finish my “daily reads”, shoot out some emails and go downstairs for food and drink. Call my Grandma. Am totally caught up on nearly every family member’s latest personal trials and tribulations while cleaning up the kitchen and sacking up trash. Briefly wonder what the family must be saying about ME.

11:45 am: Call my sister to update HER on the family gossip.

12: 10 pm: Shoot off some more emails, eat more food.

12:25 pm: Flip over to the furniture site to gaze lovingly at the living room set I bought yesterday.

12:45 pm: Crank down air conditioner AGAIN while cursing the perceived brilliance of "trying to conceive" in January hence ensuring a summer pregnancy.

12:55 pm: Read my own blog again to remind myself as to what I was “supposed” to be doing today during that “battery of business calls”. Yikes.

1:45 pm: Make a few calls and set up some appointments for next week.

2:30 pm: Decide I am thirsty. Make some pomegranate tea (4 quarts tea, 3 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 - 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice. YUM). Then, decide to make watermelon juice (blended and strained watermelon, grated ginger, 1-2 tsp lime juice). Realize as I am grating the ginger (something I normally can’t stand) that the ginger smells absolutely HEAVENLY. Can’t stop smelling my fingers ala the Mary Katherine Gallagher character on Saturday Night Live. Determine Freeloader must be responsible for this sudden fascination of ginger. Wonder to myself “what’s next?” A sudden desire for catsup (UGH) or croutons (GACK) or Jello (PUKE)???

2:45 pm: Let the *$#@ cat in for the 1000th time today.

3:25 pm: Make a few more calls, clean up kitchen, do some small household chores. Make airline reservations for trip to BlogHer conference next week. Hope fervently that Average Jane , the other blogger I am going on the trip with, doesn’t actually read my blog so she can't see what slacker I was on getting that done.

4:20 pm: Flip over to the furniture site to gaze lovingly at the living room set I bought yesterday.

4:30 pm: Must start getting things ready for dinner. I have Canasta tonight with the girls, but X’s flight comes in late. After this stressful week of his, I thought it would be nice if there was something to eat for him when he gets home.

Have a great weekend!

July 21, 2005

What’s wrong with me?

Well, Wednesday went FAR better than Tuesday did during my stay in D.C. This time, I took it easy. Instead of rushing out the door to the Metro, I meandered to breakfast, went back to the hotel to rest, then took a TAXI to the Mall where the Smithsonian museums reside. Taking the taxi proved every bit worth the 9 bucks because I wasn’t all tuckered out at the get-go that way. Furthermore, the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery and the African Art museum are connected via passageways! I was able to navigate a good portion without having to even go outside. Once I was done with the African Art gallery, I did have to go outside to the Hirshborn Gallery of Modern Art , but at this point it was all pretty do-able for me. Finally, the Hirshborn is very near to the Metro station that had direct access to the Green line, so there was no switching lines this time. I had a lovely, peaceful* afternoon and I focused primarily on Indian, Japanese, and Islamic art in the 1st three museums and then at the Hirshborn, I did the ENTIRE museum. It was well worth it because they have a stunning collection of modern art there.

However, I learned something this week that proved more valuable than just any old art lesson. In short, I have already had some kick-ass museum experiences in my day. Asshole #2 lived in Chicago (Lincoln Park), so I was going to Chicago on nearly a monthly basis for awhile. Yes, the Smithsonian collection of museums IS spectacular, but damn straight, the Chicago museums can give them a run for their money.** I would argue that the Field museum did a far better job on several of the similar exhibits, as well - the Gemology and Precious stones exhibit to be specific. It was a freakin’ unorganized NIGHTMARE at the Smithsonian whereas the Field Museum had a carefully choreographed display that ensured an orderly line would be formed for viewing. Furthermore, the Kansas City area is hardly shabby itself, either. The University of Kansas has a wonderful natural history museum that is easily navigable and would certainly not overextend a child. The Spencer Art Museum, also at the University, has an impressive collection - in fact, I saw several installations at the Hirshborn that the Spencer also has by the same artists. In Kansas City, the Nelson-Atkins Art museum has an impressive collection of Henry Moore - the large sculptures even (the Smithsonian only had the small ones). The Nelson has a world-class collection of Asian art, too. After my D.C. jaunt this week, I decided my goal this summer is to completely go through the Nelson before the kid arrives. So, in the end, the trip to D.C. was not for naught, after all. I was glad, because X went to great inconvenience for my museum fetish this week. I see some carefully prepared fish curries in his future.

Okay - now to the typically rhetorical subject line for today. I am increasingly starting to feel that something is terribly wrong with me. I read several blogs of pregnant chicks with about the same due dates. I have many, MANY friends and acquaintances with about the same due date as me. I have experienced many friends having children over the years. Everyone else seems obsessed with the whole nursery thing BUT ME. Next week, I will start shopping for a crib, crib set and a bassinet, but other than that, we aren’t buying too much else “big-item wise” for the room. The little Freeloader will use my childhood dresser and we already have a bookshelf designated for his use.*** I don’t plan on using a rocker (going Ferber here) or a changing table (my sister never used hers and I have had way too many friends have safety issues with them). Never say never, but I figure if I think I need these things later, I can just buy them then. So, in short, I am not stressed about the whole nursery thing. BUT, as I read how others have gone ape shit over their nurseries OR conversely, how they are so worried because they haven’t bought anything yet, I have to wonder “what’s wrong with ME?”. Why am I not worried? Why am I not running to Babies R’ Us wielding my credit card like a madwoman? Why am I not feverishly picking out paint? Don’t get me wrong, I do have plans to get the necessities like car seats, etc., but frankly, I am more concerned with getting household projects done - like cleaning out our offices, getting my photos in order, installing the replacement ice maker, getting the damned kitchen light fixed, and finally organizing my garage. ****

Frankly, the whole thing makes me sour. Every time someone asks me if I have a “nursery theme”, I hold back my love of snark for this one, but am increasingly finding it hard to do so. I really just want to roll my eyes and stick out my tongue. It brings miserable flashbacks to when people would ask what was the color theme for my wedding. WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE COLOR THEMES? WHY?

Anyway, I didn’t answer my own question, but DAMN. I FEEL better!

*My assumption was correct - the art museums were relatively kid-free! Yippee!!

** Coincidentally, Southwest Airlines’ magazine gave Chicago the distinction of being “the underrated city” in their most recent issue featuring dozens of “underrated” topics.

***It is my firm belief that every child needs his/her own bookshelf.

****Believe it or not, ALL the tools are MINE and X questions their very existence despite my insistence I NEED them.

July 19, 2005

How far?

Have I mentioned that I am pregnant? 27 weeks, to be exact. Keep this in mind as I relate my tale of woe.

X's company is based in Reston, VA, but because X LOVES me so much and he has a major client in the Kansas City area anyway, he deigns to live in Kansas. What a swell guy, eh? At least I think so. AnyWHO, I had this grand idea of tagging along with X on his business trip to Virginia this week - we had a free plane ticket, so we figured "why no?". We decided we would stay in D.C. and I would just "hop on" the Metro to do the Smithsonian Museums. I had even toned it down a bit in deference for the little Freeloader - I was just going to concentrate on 3 museums. Easy-smeasy, right?

So, this morning, I hop out of bed with excitement and get ready for my Day of Fun. I schlep my pregnant ass to the Metro station 4 blocks away. I walk down a 2-story escalator and buy my ticket. I walk down ANOTHER escalator (only 1 story this time) and wait for the train. I get on the train, wait for my stop so I can change lines(I was riding the Green and needed to get on the Blue). Many escalators later and a train later, I emerge on the Mall, blinking in the bright sunlight, sweating like a teenager an hour past curfew. Folks, at this point, I am already EXHAUSTED. GOOD GOD. I did not count on the heat. Mid 90s and humid.

Well, I did make it through the Museum of American History and the Museum of Natural History. I have mixed feelings on both. I had hoped for a far greater pop culture exhibit in the American History museum, so frankly, I was disappointed. The Museum of Natural History was really cool, too but I have been to the Field Museum in Chicago so many times, which I would consider to be comparable. Don't get me wrong - I am glad that I got the opportunity to see both museums today, but I guess I had expected to be "blown away".

What compounded all this was the constant mayhem of screaming kids. Folks - if your kid is screaming during what clearly should be the middle of his naptime, letting him slurp the rest of your Coke is not going to help. I don't consider myself a Granola Head, but it does shock me how many people let their kids drink soda and other sugary, high-fructose corn syrup crep these days.

Tomorrow, I am going to several of the art museums. I am hoping these museums will have less screaming kids and more inspiration. Regardless, it is clear that I am overdoing it and I probably need to start slowing down to take better care of myself. I felt pretty sick this evening when I got back to the hotel. Therefore, X and I decided I should go home on Thursday instead of Friday. This really works better as apparently I need to do some furniture shopping - STAT. X and I drove separately to the airport on Monday, since we were coming back at different times on Friday. On Monday, when we met up in the airport, X informed me that our FUTON BROKE just before he left. Now, we are in desperate need of a couch. Yes, yes, yes - I KNOW that it is about time I entered the adult world and got a couch instead of a futon, but I LOVED that futon. Actually, I had a nice couch during college. After college, I decided to get a futon because it was more convenient when out-of-town guests came to visit so they would have somewhere to sleep. Anyway - the futon has bit the Big One and until we get a new couch, we have absolutely nothing to sit on in the meantime.

So, wish me luck tomorrow as I drag my pregnant ass through more museums.

July 18, 2005

What the F*CK?

I just tried to reschedule a dentist's appointment. Their first available slot is in OCTOBER. I hate to change dentists - I have gone to this guy since I was in college, but good God almighty!!


How Rancid can I get?

Believe it or not - it STILL hasn’t really hit me that I am not working. With all this traveling (I am leaving for D.C. this afternoon), it does feel I am on an extended vacation of sorts. One thing I have noticed - I do not miss the Federal Reserve AT ALL. In the past, when I have left jobs, I have missed some aspect of the place - be it the people, the location, SOMETHING. Um, not so much with the Fed*. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous that merely leaving work would not make me happy, but so far, it HAS. I do realize that I am in the “honeymoon phase” of not working since I am primarily on vacation. However, leaving there has removed a huge boulder of negativity off my shoulders and has certainly increased the needle on my Happiness Meter. I simply don’t miss the bad attitudes of the people there, the High School-level headgames from my manager, and the boring work. However, I will be grounded from Southwest Airlines (thanks Freeloader!) beginning in August, so the reality of staying home will set in at that time.

I believe the primary key to my happiness while I stay home is KEEPING BUSY. I have so many projects to work on, that should not be too hard. Honestly! The few days I have been home between trips, I have had to wonder “how did I do this stuff while working?”. I have had car appointments, doctor’s appointments, electrician visits, landscaping, various errands to contend with these days. My boss would have been hating me right now and I would have been stressed with all the time I would have to take off work to get these things done. X is working and traveling more than ever right now, so my quitting right now was the best thing for us.

So, X and I head for D.C. His company is based out of Reston, VA so he travels there quite a bit. ** I decided to tag along this trip. Actually, I foresee many more trips to the area post-Freeloader, so the kid can oh, I don’t know, BOND WITH HIS FATHER***, but for this trip, I am going solely for fun. During past visits, I have already seen the memorials****, etc, so I am going to concentrate on the Smithsonian - the Museum of American History, Natural History and Modern Art. Assuming, of course, that I have finished the new Harry Potter release*****. Well, we must have priorities.

Social Life: I actually went to a MOVIE and a BAR! In ONE weekend! I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I liked it! On a scale of 1-4, I would give it a 3.5. The score was beautiful and effects were wonderful. Keep in mind that I had not seen the original with Gene Wilder, so I had no pre-conceived notions going into it. Saturday night, I met some people from the KC Bloggers group for some cheeseburgers and soda (well, THEY drank beer. Sob.) I highly recommend meeting up with your local blogger group - it was fun to see what else is out there and just hang with a different crowd for a change. I will definitely be attending these gatherings in the future.

Freeloader Status: Well, we have rounded the bend towards a name for the little guy. I am not sure if I am going to tell my family, though. I remember being shocked that Pharmgirl kept her son’s name a secret til after his birth, but now I understand. You see, I already had one bad experience with the whole Name Game - before we knew the gender, I had told The Grandmothers that if the Freeloader was a girl, her middle name would be Lily (after X’s mother). The Grandmothers immediately declared that Lily wasn’t an appropriate middle name and made a better first name. By the time I attended a family reunion a month later, I was getting congratulated on the fact that we were going to name our daughter Lily. X and I put a lot of thought into the little Freeloader’s moniker and I really don’t care for getting people’s “opinions”.

Family Fun: I took my Great Aunt P for some errands yesterday. In addition to her constant warnings whenever she passed gas (THANKS!), we had this cute exchange.
Great Aunt P: Oh. I was hoping my voice would clear up today, but I fear that I must be yelling.

She laughed equally as hard as I did. Which is exactly why I love her so much.

Anyway, I realize this blog has gotten well, rather RANCID while I have been traveling, but at least I am keeping with the theme. Ironically, just as my blogging has been slacking, I am preparing to go to the BlogHer Blogher conference in Santa Clara CA with Average Jane next week. Yikes.

*Piece of trivia for your next Game Night - the “Fed” is the Federal Reserve, the “Feds” are the FBI. Interesting! No? Oh.

**Why do we live in Kansas City? To truly test X’s undying devotion to me. Seriously - the guy is living in freakin’ KANSAS CITY for me - how much more could he love me?

***Refer to post Since When is Cynical a Bad Thing? where I address the tiresome question of “Will X reduce his travel after the baby is born?”

****My favorite memorial is the little known Teddy Roosevelt memorial - it’s a small island on the Potomac that used to a bird sanctuary. It is so beautiful and peaceful. Probably because no one visits it!

*****The new Harry Potter is certainly exceeding my expectations. I admit I wasn’t a big fan of the last one, but I am really enjoying this one!

July 13, 2005

Um, how old is MC Hammer??

Newsflash: I am sorry to say that the hairstyle known as the “mullet” is not extinct, as previously hoped. It is alive and well in Branson, MO. In fact, I regret to report that it seems to be reproducing at an alarming rate.

So, I just got back from Branson, MO from my trip with my dad, step-mom, younger sister, and brother. Branson is about 4 hours away from Kansas City and we drove down there in 2 cars - I had my younger sister and brother with me (they are 19 and 17, respectively) while my dad and step-mom drove in their car. The Siblings had fun playing with iPod and I got the BIGGEST kick out of it when they referred to MC Hammer as “old school rap”. Yeah, I felt a little old when they said that, but I still thought it was damn funny. For the most part, my brother slept in the back seat and my sister sat in the front, knitting to her heart’s content. Until recently, I had NO knitters in my life, save for the occasional classmate, so it is fun to have someone to share this passion with now. Also, I had booked a room by myself in the hotel and invited the Siblings to share that as well. Let’s just say that I got more than my fair share of Quality Time with the Siblings this week. My brother, bless his heart, loves that wrestling crep on TV, has stinky feet typical of a teenaged boy, was pretty grumpy about the “lights out” rule at 11:30pm and even more crabby about the “lights on” rule of 8:00am. I am now fairly fluent in the language of teenaged boys everywhere - Grunts n’ Grumbles and am officially scared of what the little Freeloader will be like when HE is a teenaged boy. Yikes. Teenaged Boyness aside, though - overall, it was a nice visit - I usually only see them when the whole family is together and it gave us a chance to really talk about things without the parents overhearing. In fact, I even noticed myself being more vocal in my opinions without the parents overhearing. I think the Siblings were a little shocked at how adamant I am on some of the issues we discussed.

Silver Dollar City itself was just okay - not very exciting and I definitely got the place out of my system for several years at least. Frankly, I miss the days when it used to be just a little hillbilly crafts village - you could walk around see how things were done in the “old days” such as soap making, leather crafts, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, etc. Now, there are very few actual, live crafts going on save for the glass blowing and some very limited candy making. The place is over-run with silly rides, expensive stores and creppy food stalls. Ironically, what I enjoyed the most during the trip was going back to hotel at night and playing pool, air hockey and video games with my dad and the Siblings (my step-mom had to skip the nightly activities to study for her class - she is finishing up her Master’s). My dad is quite competitive and ALL of his children inherited his game playing gene and style of poor sportmanship, to boot - we are equally bad at winning as we are at losing.

Lesson Learned: More precious family memories can be gained over a 75 cent pool game than in an overpriced, tourist destination.

July 11, 2005

Why isn't the World's Oldest Profession also considered "good old-fashioned fun"?

In an effort to head off the inevitable realization that I am no longer a productive member of society (aka UNEMPLOYED, at least until the Freeloader makes his arrival in October), I agreed to a trip to Silver Dollar City with my dad, step-mom, younger sister, and brother. Yes, indeed - from Las Vegas to Redneck Vegas* I am proving myself to be quite the sophisticated traveler, eh? Hookers to Hillbillies in a span of 5 days - you have to appreciate the poetry of THAT. Furthermore, some National Kids' Fest is going on down there right now - had I known that, I would have never agreed to this trip. I suspect all those "kids" will be in direct violation of my self-enacted Kid-Free Zone**. In a few hours, I will be headed in my car with the Siblings (the parents will drive separately) for a 4 hour drive south. It should be interesting and part of me is looking forward to the alone time with the Siblings - they are 17 and 19. I usually don’t get to spend time with them alone, we are usually all wrapped up in some family gig or another, so it should be fun to see them “on their own” without the parents around “monitoring”. X, in his infinite wisdom, declined to go on this trip. He also astutely observed that “since you are going with your Dad, at least you won’t be spending alot of money”. Yes, a trip with my dad, the Almighty of the Tightfisted, should not prove to be expensive.

In other news, I just caught my first Phish!! I can easily see now why unsuspecting people are caught by the Phishing scams. When I read the message that said someone had changed the email account on my PayPal account, alarm bells went off in my head. Fortunately, part of that alarm (and curiousity) was spurred by all the articles I have read about Phishing. Therefore, I backed out of the email and went directly to PayPal myself. Of course, my account was just fine, but it was still interesting to see how all that can go down so easily.

Have a good week - I return Wednesday so I should have a posting by Thursday.

*A hearty thanks to my friend C who enlightened me to the term “Redneck Vegas” the other night.

** The Zone is temporary, of course - due to shut down in the fall, indefinitely. Sob!

July 7, 2005

Can you win at the Wynn?

Why, yes you can WIN at the Wynn! But you can also LOSE at the Bellagio. I was up $100 at the Wynn before I went to the Bellagio to donate $250. My net loss was $150, which was really NOT that bad considering how many hours were spent standing tableside throwing dice. Most nights, X would stroll off to bed and I would meander over to my 2 favorite buddies in Vegas, Die #1 and Die #2, known collectively as “dice”. Furthermore, the craps table was conveniently located very near to the elevators to our rooms- SCORE. I could not have asked for a better last kid-free venture to Vegas. I was even TIRED of playing craps by the end of the trip.

Frankly, I lack the creativity to provide a "story" that "flows" right now. Instead, I present for you, a smattering of my meaningless thoughts and observations from the trip.

Cagey and X are LOSERS: We stayed at the Wynn for 5 nights and even paid for a nice room (one level up from the base). It was so worth it. We had a gorgeous, southward facing view of the Strip through an entire wall of windows - this was a particular treat for me because I am used to staying on the south end itself, facing northward instead. Furthermore, we spent an inordinate amount of time IN our room so we really got our money’s worth- X had to work a bit, we watched TV, we read our books, we napped. Yes, after awhile it did get a tad boring but in hindsight, we needed to unwind.

Rental Cars Rock: I have been to Vegas without a rental car before and it is just not worth it. We went to Red Rock Canyon since X hadn’t seen it before and then we took a leisurely tour through the hills southwest of Vegas. Another day, we drove around Lake Mead, over Hoover Dam and into Arizona. It was nice to just drive around the area and show X my favorite parts. We generally love to do that anyway - hop into a rental car on vacation and roam around. We are like little old people going for a Sunday drive in that way. The Freeloader’s gonna HATE us.

Tone Deaf Indian in Airport Lounge:While I know that you were mighty proud of yourself for having a laptop that plays fancy DVDs, was it truly necessary for you to HUM along with all the Hindi songs?? Did you not see that I was rolling my eyes? Did you not notice that my husband, also an Indian, was not impressed? Did you really not catch me elbowing said husband and sniggering at your expense? Could you just shut up already?

Danny Gans: We saw the Danny Gans show at the Mirage. It was very good - I even peed my pants. Okay, okay, maybe an admission of incontinence from a Pregnant Chick may not be considered such a glowing endorsement, but really! The guy was so talented!

Inappropriate Bra Brandishing: In my book, it is generally accepted that Vegas is where Fashion goes to bury its head in shame but DEAR GOD - when did it become acceptable to wear any old ratty bra and let it HANG OUT? Good grief, girls - you are window shopping at Chanel, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Jean Paul Gaultier all while sipping your $7 lattes. OBSERVE.

Louis Vuitton: Um, frankly, I just think his shit is ugly. I don’t get it. Can someone out there explain the allure of a purse littered with the initials “LV” all over it??????

Granny Shoes: I am not really into Fashion since I am too cheap and have no imagination. I do, however, have a pair of sandals that I have gotten an inordinate amount of compliments on to the extent that I do believe these sandals to be considered “cool”. As such, I wear them with pride. Imagine my grief when I discovered a little old lady wearing these very shoes with HOSE. I was crushed - CRUSHED, I tell ya!

Pre-Boarding: Belly Watch 2005 is paying off! I wasn’t able to get into the A boarding class for my Southwest ticket but discovered that the little Freeloader has allowed me to be eligible for Pre-Boarding (this is my 3rd flight on Southwest in the past 6 weeks and I am JUST discovering this?). Yes, I felt like such a total lame ass shuffing along with all the old foks and physically challenged folks, but admit that it was worth getting a seat in close proximity to the bathroom. In fact, ALL bathrooms are quickly becoming my New Best Friend. Refer to comments regarding Danny Gans.

Note to Lady in Preboarding Area outside gate C16 Wednesday morning at the McCarren airport: Under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to respond “Oh no? You look awful big!” when Pregnant Chick replies that she is, in fact, due in freakin’ OCTOBER. While I am the first to admit that I was already overweight, I have it on good authority from my doctor that my 13 pound pregnancy weight gain is quite acceptable, YOU OLD HAG.

Step-Grandma Visit: X left Vegas earlier than I did and this allowed me to spend some Girl Time with my step-grandma, Colleen. As I have said before, she is from India (coincidentally, just like X, she is a Catholic from Kerala ). My grandpa was working on a movie in India during the late 60s when he met her and married her - he did GOOD, too. She was in her early 20s - he was in his early 40s (they were married for over 30 years). Therefore, Colleen is only 6 years older than my own mother and has always been more like an aunt than a step-grandma. This is the women who bought me my first mascara and is the one I would always share the juicy details on dating and such. Anyway, spending time with her was so comfortiing and I have to admit that I loved being pampered by her this visit- she may be an American now, but she is Indian at heart and knows how to stuff a person to the gills - like a proper Indian woman SHOULD. We relaxed and caught up on things. We met my cousin for dinner and a movie - we saw Bewitched, which was as “not good” as people said it was. Meaning, it certainly wasn’t a BAD movie, it just wasn’t that great of a movie, either.

Well, this completes my first post from home on the Mac. It was weird because I had to start my routine from scratch and then wrap my thoughts around it to get this hammered out. I am such a creature of habit, but it wasn’t that hard to get the hang of it. It is certainly more relaxing to post from home with a curious kitty observing, than to pound one out furiously over a lunch break from Big Al’s pad.