Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seriously Bad Car-ma

To the Rat Bastards who broke into my car and stole my stereo:

I realize that hoodlums such as yourselves probably do not regularly read the blog of a nice 30 something couple and their Chinese daughter, but in case you stumble across this in your search for porn on the internet...

It was damn inconvenient of you to ram a screwdriver through the passenger window of my car and then rifle through my glove box and steal my stereo. I’m fairly certain you were abusing some illegal substance at the time, or planning to use your ill gotten gains to purchase some illegal substance to fill your empty and meaningless lives. You’re clearly not the brightest crayons in the box, and I think you’re going to be disappointed with your spoils:

1. What about a 2000 CRV with dents and scratches, the old body style and lowest trim grade says “there’s something worth stealing in here”?

2. You left a greasy nose print on the drivers side window where you planted your face to look inside for booty... I would think the car seat and cheesy free-giveaway vinyl Enfamil diaper bag on the front seat would have told you you were barking up the wrong tree.

3.Clearly you are not up with technology. If you were, you would have known that the stereo was from 1999. You can buy the current model at Circuit City for less than $300, and that means that mine probably isn’t worth a Ben Franklin. Also, it was a Pioneer- better than a JVC, but hardly a Bose, Alpine or a Blaupunkt. You missed the boat: if you had pried up the speaker covers, you would have found the Sonys under the Honda factory covers. Not only that, you left the 12 disk changer located under the passenger seat which, by the way, nobody makes a deck that will run anymore.

4.You took my $7 Target sunglasses, all my change, the stereo, and the 12 pack of Coke Zero. But you left movie tickets and my insurance card, which I’m sure could have at least brought you the greenbacks for a dime bag (maybe an 8 ball) if you took it to East LA.

5. Do you realize I just had those windows tinted??? It took me 5 years of whining to get my husband to remember to set aside the $200 and make the appointment at the tint place whose name and location I think he guarded like the secret 11 herbs and spices found in KFC. I may have to wait for my 40th birthday to get the new window tinted to match. Thank God that Carolyn (who Jeff works with) and her husband John owned an auto glass place for years and will fix it for me tomorrow for an incredibly reasonable sum. I’m seriously grateful, because I don’t know how long I could drive around with the white trash window by Hefty.

6. Speaking of which....HELLO??? IT’S RAINING!!! Could you not have done this when it was dry???

7. I would, however, like to thank you for leaving my CDs, the almost $300 stroller in the back and the $500 car seat. I’d be really pissed if I had to replace those.

8.However, I am really pissed off that you tore up my dash getting the worthless thing out. It’s going to cost me more to fix the dash than the window, tint, and new stereo combined.

I would like to mention that you also hit my next door neighbor’s car last night too, and that while you broke his window, took his stereo (without ruining his dash), and all his CDs; you left his $60 sunglasses and didn’t check the trunk where he had over $1000 in tools. Oh, and if he ever finds out who you are, he’s gonna beat the snot out of you.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Never Leave 2 Women Alone...

Left to Our Own Devices...

It's a bad time of year for Jeff. The Heritage Festival is on at Disneyland, and that means he's working every weekend from March through May. The good news is the little bit of extra money, the bad news is that it leaves Ten and I to amuse ourselves 6 days a week...and that usually costs what Jeff makes at D-land and then some!!

Fortunately, this week has brought fair skies and balmy weather, and with Aunty Meg gone for most of the week it meant that Ten and I were cheap dates and spent most of our time at the local parks. As a result, Tenley has added the swings to her repertoire of park fun, and actually requests them frequently as opposed to her first 7 months at home when she began crying whenever we would put her in one. We also took bread and went to Fairmount Park to feed the ducks and geese. I tried to get pictures, but that's hard to do when the toddler you're trying to photograph is velcroed to you in fear because the geese are bigger than she is.

Today, however, Jeff was going to be gone for a good 12 hours and the park just wasn't going to cut it. So I was given some "mad money" and Tenley and I decided to follow Daddy behind "The Orange Curtain". Our first destination was the OC Swap Meet at the fair grounds, where for the paltry $2 admission fee I got lots of exercise and loaded up on locally grown fruits, veggies and flowers for a fraction of what I pay at Vons.
Then we detoured into the actual fairgrounds themselves to visit Centennial Farm, which is a working 4 acre farm for educational purposes open to the public 7 days a week. I knew Tenley would love it, and she did. The first thing we ran into was a Jersey cow and her calf. I lifted Ten up to pet the cow and feel her nose, and she giggled with delight. Then the calf toddled over and since he was Ten's height I set her down so she could reach into the corral herself. Apparently the calf thought she was pretty nifty too, because he started licking her hands, and then stuck his head through the bars and started licking her head. My kid now had cow snot in her hair, and she couldn't have been happier. It was bloody murder to get her to leave that pen and see the other animals. The llamas were uninterested in everyone, and the oxen were interested, but unable to get near the public.(Tenley was unhappy about this: those were cows, and better yet, cows with big horns. Why couldn't she crawl under the barricade and go play with them??)

Tenley didn't like the way the sheep and swine felt, but she was facinated with the litter of piglets. She also loved the calf corral where there were 6 little Holsteins who were also happy to lick her to death. Eventually I coaxed her to the sink and got her washed up and steralized, and almost made it out of the farm when the moo-ing began. Tenley ran back to the cows and every time they would moo she would stare in wide eyed wonder and then shreik with joy while clapping her hands and bouncing up and down until they would moo again. This went on for a good 10 minutes before I forced her into the stroller and we headed for the car and the more civilized destination of South Coast Plaza.

We started on the "Crystal Court" side of the Plaza where Tenley found the baby carousel in the picture. While I picked out a new watch band in the Fossil store, she pointed and grunted at the carousel. As soon as I was finished I took her over so she could go for a spin on one of the toddler sized horses. She picked the white one and we revolved very slowly to "A Whole New World" as Tenley's steed bobbed up and down about 6-8 inches in each direction. She sat there completely stoic, but when the ride was over and I told her it was time to go; she gripped the pole shook her head and started to whimper. I asked the nice attendant if we could just go again as I fished another dollar out of my pocket. She got down willingly after the second ride and we crossed the sky bridge to the main part of the mall for lunch and to run a couple quick errands. No trip to the mall is complete without a visit to the balloon purveyor, and today Tenley selected a large clear one with a green flower in it.

We left the mall and went to the center across the street to get Mommy some new Birkenstocks which Grandma Suzie bought me for my birthday (thanks Mom!! I really needed 'em!), and then began our long drive home, aka nap time for Tenley. A long and exciting day for the Tenster finally at an end.

Home Stinky Home

So we got home and I was in the kitchen putting the fruit in the fridge thinking "Why does the house smell like crap? We emptied the cat box this morning!" As soon as I finished I checked the likely culprit, Tenley, and discovered that there was indeed a gift in her diaper. It was bath time anyway. So I went in and began running her bath, and then went to her room to turn the heat on. When I opened the door the smell hit me, and I found the source: poor Beeps had apparently snuck into Ten's room this morning and had been locked in there for a good 8 hours!! Poor kitty!! No food, no water, no box. She had vomited at least once, and there were 2 quite stinky puddles o' poop on the floor. I felt so bad. Usually we keep Ten's door closed for this very reason, and neither of us had counted heads before we left. Fortunately, Beeps is no worse for the wear and was back to her usual self after a snack and a long drink followed by a bath from the Smudge. Air freshener, Resolve, and Nature's Miracle fixed Tenley's room right up.

Be Careful What You Wish For...

What was it? 2 Posts ago that I was lamenting Tenley's cranky attitude & lack of teeth?? Well, we thought she was getting another one, but we were wrong: she's cutting four. Yep, 4 big swollen spots with little white dots where 2 Canines, an Insisor and 1 Bi-cuspid are working their way in. We've actually found 2 more spots that feel hard and swollen, but no visible sign of the tooth yet. I guess that explains the sudden loss of appetite, cranky attitude and extra long naps!! Sorry Ten- my fault!! I wished it on you!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Mommy Gets an Upgrade

Every so often the time comes that no matter how comfortable you think you are in life, you just need to shake things up- and hopefully for the better. The last upgade in my life was a group project and answers to the name of Tenley. But recently I got several smaller upgrades (read: not dramatically life changing, but still exciting) that made me feel better.

Upgrade #1: Notice the tinted windows on my car. When Jeff got his Accord in the spring of 2000, the first thing he did was run out and get the windows tinted. He said we'd do mine in a couple of months. So, "a couple of months" turned out to be Feb. of 2006 (about 70 months) but hey! I really wanted to do it before Ten came home so it would shade her and keep the car cooler, but that didn't quite happen- however it did make it by my deadlines of "before the car has 100,000 miles (-4,000) and "before Tenley goes to college" (-14 years). I have to say I love it. It does keep the car really cool (not so good at this time of year) and it made it look It also shades Ten's little face, but lets her see the passing world way better than the Babies R Us roll up shades did.

Upgrade #2: The cell phone. I had the old Nokia that you could change the face plate on for 6 years (actually I had 2 5165s in a row), and I traded it in for the 3rd generation of that phone 2 years ago when the network went digital & my phone was still analog. They were the non-flip, practically free with contract, bottom of the line phones...and I loved them. Yes, I was mocked by others with their itty bitty silver flips with color screens & polyphonic ringtones as they played video games and assigned everyone their own ringback tone; but I liked the simplicity, sturdiness and the normal keypad layout of my Nokias. The truth is that I don't like those tiny flips- I always feel like I'm going to snap them in half when I answer them, so I was fine with the current Nokia, but I wasn't sure it was going to survive another 2 years of Tenley pitching it down the aisle at Target when she got bored playing with it or the call she was attempting to Sweden could not be completed as dialed. So Jeff trotted me over to the Verizon store to see if there was anything I deemed acceptable. I did find a nice industrial-like-non-flip Kyocera that has the walkie talkie feature (which would be great if anyone else I knew had it...). But the only other phone I liked shocked me: the Razor. It's a micro-thin flip, but it still felt sturdy in my hand and the keys weren't laid out all funky. As a bonus, it has voice activated calling and a wireless headset. I was stunned. It even came in pink!! Then I saw the price tag and said "NO". But my technology loving hubby decided that for once, I instead of him, should have the really expensive fancy phone. We made the mistake of waiting to purchase it until after Valentine's day, and by then the pink ones were really gone. However, we were heading to Clovis to see Jeff's parents, and there were still a few left in the middle of the I got one!! Bonus: it was $200 cheaper there too!!! So now I have a really fancy pink Razor phone that I don't use half the features on and I still downloaded the midi version of Hava Nagila for my ringtone. (Note: not 2 weeks ago Jeff upgraded himself from his low line Nokia to the way high end Treo, so he once again has the much fancier more expensive cell phone.)

Upgrade#3: the bag. It's a genuine Louis Vuitton Papillon 26, and I've been lusting for one for a good 5 years now. It was a (way way over the top) birthday gift from my awsome hubby. It's true that I am a purse whore, but I am not a purse snob- I like cheap denim purses from Target too. But I just loved the mini-duffel look of the Papillion, and the fact that it comes in the traditional LV brown monogram means that it will never be out of style. I've been trying to carry it a little bit, but I think it will get more wear when Ten is out of diapers. I know alot of people think the brown momogram is ugly, and that all LV's are overpriced (they are. But so are Dooneys, Kate Spades, Diors, YSLs, Guccis, & Fendis to name a few)...but I really like that's it's a classic and I can carry it forever.

3 tiny little upgrades, and suddenly I feel hip & trendy again as opposed to old & frumpy. Soon my Razor will be passe and I'll be annoyed that it's so dark in my car at night...but for right now I feel like a million bucks.

PS: If you live in So Cal & need your windows tinted, the guys at Tint Works Plus in Diamond Bar 909-598-8468 are fast, affordable, and they do a great job which they guarantee! They did Jeff's car and have done 4 cars for Uncle Kev- no peeling or bubbling ever! Also, if you're a purse whore like me (but also on my budget) check out you can rent designer bags for as long as you like!! It's a great way to get that Juicy Couture diaper bag without schucking out the $275!

Monday, March 13, 2006

18 Months Today!

Well, the Tenster is 18 months old today! I usually tell you what's new and what she's accomplished on these milestones, but today I thought we'd take a walk on the Dark Side.

1. An 18 month old should have a 15+ word vocabulary, should be able to pick up his/her toys and say "thank you". - Caring For Your Baby and Child, by AAP. Um, no. Not hardly. Tenley has probably uttered 15+ words, but most of them (apple, orange, lemon, puck, doggy, banana, fish, etc) have only been said once. Some, which might be considered useful (like: yes, done, more, again, eat, ouch, juice, drink, thank you, please, etc) have never even been attempted. Tenley's answer to most questions is "no" which is signaled by a vehement shaking of her head. If you do get an affirmative answer, it's a big smile and a giggle. The kicker here is that she understands almost everything that is said to her and is capable of following fairly complex instructions (if she feels like it). If you tell her "Go get your red shoes from under your bed so we can go outside" she will go down the hall into her room, get the shoes under her crib, bring them back to you in the kitchen and flop into your lap to have you put them on. I actually contacted our county's Early Start program last week to have her evaluated for speech delay. I haven't heard from them yet,which is no surprise since they're a county program, but if she's considered 30% or more delayed Uncle Sam will pay for speech therapy. Essentially, my litttle monkey could probably scale the Empire State Building like King Kong, but she can't tell me that's what she wants to do.

Tenley has no interest in picking up her toys, and if you pick up her toys and put them away, the first thing she does is get them all back out. If you tell her to pick something up like blocks or spilled crackers, she will pick up and put 1 back. Only 1. You have to launch into football peptalk for each individual item. She doesen't really do "put in" or "build", she only "unloads" and "destroys".

2. T-minus 6 months to 2 years old. And may God have mercy on us. Tenley has always known what she wants, and as she has become more mobile and independant some of those wants are not the best idea from my perspective. Increasingly, telling Ten "no" produces a bad reaction which ranges from fake crying and foot stomping to throwing herself on the floor and kicking and screaming in a full tantrum. For example: From day 1, Tenley has never liked to have her hands touched. Except now we're out for walks on the street and across parking lots, and that means holding Mommy's hand. Uh-oh. If you say "Tenley, hold my hand" she will shake her head no and try to run ahead of you. If you try to take her hand she will yank it back, shake her head no and try to run ahead of you. If you hold on so she can't yank it back, she will sit down, begin whining and screaming, and try to peel your fingers off of hers. In fairness, she is getting better on the hand holding: she has learned that crossing streets and walking in parking lots are non-negotiable hand holding areas, but I will allow her to walk independantly next to me if we're on a side street. This is just an example of one of the many wants in Ten's life that we routinely deny her like scaling the chairs to walk on the computer desk or kitchen table, playing with the video camera, opening and climbing in the fridge, "playing" with the kitties by hitting them with various objects, etc. The next 18 months are going to be a barrel of laughs.

3. Thou shalt have no sleep without Mommy. Don't think The Teninator has gone soft and wants to cuddle with her mum. No no- rather, she refuses to let anyone but me put her down for a nap or bed. That sounds nice on the surface, but it means that if she is with anyone else during the day I return to an extremely cranky over-tired child because she screamed bloody murder when someone tried to put her down. And I'd best be there at bedtime, because she will not leave Daddy's arms willingly, and if he pries her out and puts her in her crib she will scream as though she is being tortured until (2 hours later) he gives in and goes and gets her. The only option for most people is to give her a lovey and wait for her to drop over from exaustion wherever she happens to be. Sometimes a little spin in the car will do it, but you have to drive until she's really out, or she'll wake up as soon as you open the door. Grandma Suzie has sucessfully had her nod off on her shoulder once or twice, but this kind of thing occurs with the frequency of Hailey's Comet.

4. Slower than molasses in winter. At least when it comes to growing teeth and hair. She still only has 6 1/2 teeth, although we feel 3 good hard lumps on her gums (which could account for some of her recent crankiness) and we think we can see a spot of white emerging on one of them. It's about time- Amanda & Natalie have all their teeth, and James is four months younger and has more than she does! If she only wanted to eat applesauce & oatmeal I wouldn't care less, but this kid wants steak & granola. She still doesn't have much hair either. Her hair is very thin and really slow to grow in on top.

5. Tinkle Tinkle little star... Potty training?? HA! Tenley is still put out about having her diaper changed because she's busy, and she doesn't care if she's wet or stinks. She has evidenced absolutely no interest in what the commode is or does. She does think it's nice that we keep a water table in the house, and can't understand why we don't want her playing in it.

So there you have it. A random sample of the less than glamourous side to life with Tenley. There are good and bad moments in every day; and I know that one day she will speak eloquently with a full set of pearly white teeth and have a long mane of hair that gets in her way when she's trying to sit on the toilet or get into bed - and then I will have other things to worry about like paying for college and keeping her off drugs and in school. But for now, as the 1st time parent of a willfull toddler, this is the seedy underbelly of my world.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Week In Review

Sharing is a relative concept

Most parents accuse their kids of having selective hearing (particularly teenagers), but I’m here to tell you that sharing is a selective concept for toddlers. Just try to get a 2 or 3 year old to share his neon orange soccer ball, and I’ve seen fights erupt over sand toys at the park that rival anything the WWF could ever have dreamed up. However, if they have a wicked cold with all kinds of nasty germs to make you miserable, they are more than happy to share that with you. And if you are eating something the toddler wants (like say a pickle or cookie) they expect you to share your goodie with them without so much as a second thought.

You can pick your friend’s nose
Well, you can and probably should pick your toddlers. Along with the nasty cold comes the gobs of yellowy whitish goo that seems to pour from Tenley’s nose. If it wasn’t a biohazard I could bottle this stuff and make millions selling it to little boys because it is the perfect consistency of sticky slime. The only way to get this stuff out is to attack with the nasal aspirator, which strangely enough, my kid loves. She sees me get the blue bulb and some kleenex and comes running to flop in my lap with her head over my leg so I can roto-rooter her nose. She generally just lays there and giggles. I’m guessing it must tickle, but I know she feels better after it’s out. Unfortunately it’s too small to work in my nose, although I’ve been eying the turkey baster and wondering if it would be a good fit for me.

Hey buddy, can you spare $2000?
Jeff got up and left for work on Thursday morning, but he didn’t get too far. His car decided it had had enough of this pesky changing gears thing, and decided not to do that any more. He managed to get back home, and after he re-started the car OD, D4, D3, and R were a no go, but D2 worked! So he cruised very slowly to the Honda dealer, and then got a ride to work. A call at 4:45 confirmed the worst: his transmission was toast. Ugh. However, Jim the Mechanic did have 1 piece of good news for us: apparently, 2000 Honda Accords had some transmission issues and Honda issued a recall, so since the car was still under 100,000 miles, Honda will replace it for free!! Whew! I thought I was going to have to slap a Union Jack on it and call that our trip to London!

Next stop, Everest
My little monkey has discovered the joy of climbing. I went to the bathroom and returned to the living room to find her standing on the computer desk. She’s been scaling the couch for weeks, and now she’s apparently mastered the chairs at the desk too. We have forbidden her from climbing on the coffee table and end tables because we’re trying to reinforce the idea that her feet & butt do not belong on any table. :::sigh::: Now I have to re-evaluate the house for climbing opportunities.

Your children can save you money
It looks like we’ve reached the end of an era. No more dining out for us. Little Miss Busy Pants is no longer content to just move around on the seat of a booth, and is trying to crawl across the table, slide under the table (and escape), scale windows- whatever. Food, crayons and the sugar caddy are not holding her interest. God help us if the service is slow. We’ve had two dinners in this week alone where we almost left a $20 on the table and left before the food even arrived. So it looks like we’ll be eating at home until we can make someone understand appropriate restaurant behavior.

Stranded at the K Mart
Grandma Suzie apparently lost her mind and on a recent outing to the K Mart in Ontario she decided to buy Tenley one of those Little Tykes Playhouses that cost as much as a thoroughbred racehorse. The playhouse was on sale, but what she forgot to take into account was the size of the box vs. the size of her late model Honda sedan. A hasty call was made to my husband who was out running errands with the Tenster, and as soon as they had secured a new sound card for the computer they were on their way to Ontario to rescue Mom who was getting strange looks from passer-bys as she sat in the Kmart parking lot with a large brown box leaning against her car. Fortunately it fit in the CRV, and we didn’t have to call Doug & Tina and beg for the use of their truck.

And the Nominees are...
Not us. Normally Oscar Sunday is a big night in our house. We usually have friends over, vote on our own ballots (with prizes for the most right and the least right),give out goodie bags, and have themed food (baby Broke-back ribs, Munich German potato salad, Constant Gardener salad, Memoirs of a Geisha’s sushi rolls, Charlie and the Chocolate Fondue). But this year we had 2 people with raging colds, and decided most folks weren’t going to be happy about wallowing in our germs. It was probably just as well- John Stewart does great with political humor, but I don’t think he was the best choice for the Oscars- it was a rather boring show. Hopefully we’ll roll out the red carpet again next year.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hacker Version 2.0

For those who have asked (and those who haven't) here's Tenley intently training to be a"network administrator" just like Daddy. She's always had a fascination with technology, and was always able to tell the difference between a toy cell phone and the real thing (and she only wants the real one) and a computer keyboard that was not hooked up to anything, and one that did things when she pressed on it. She loves to sit in our laps and "help" us with what we're doing, and pitches a royal fit if you try to put her down.

Since we can only play on for so long (she loves to move the mouse and look for Zee while pages load), we put the Child's First Computer by Comfy on her Christmas list (item # 1582406 at, and the other cyber geek in the family, Grandma Suzie, happily bought it for her.

It's a large tot-designed keyboard with 20 or so keys that hooks up to any PC (with a Pentium III or above and Windows 98SE or higher) with a plug and play USB connection and a software CD. The keyboard comes with 1 CD that has 3 levels to teach kids ages 1-3 about colors, shapes, body parts, music, and day/night in any one of 16 languages (sadly, Chinese is not one of them). There are at least 4 other CD's available to grow with your kid up to age 5. As an adult, it will bore you to tears after 5-10 minutes, but Tenley will happily entertain herself for 20-30 minutes at a stretch on the thing (sitting still for 20 minutes for Tenley is amazing), and frequently plays with the phone component even when it's not hooked up. We just hook it up and put her in her booster chair at the computer desk and let her have at it. Again, a major fit will occur if you try to take it away before she's done with it.

I'm sure there are other computer type things out there for toddlers, but we liked this because it gave her her own keyboard with big buttons, it had multiple levels & software titles, and she can't just click out of it and get onto the desktop and begin throwing the hard drive into the recycle bin. Which, in case you're wondering, she has actually tried to do.