Tuesday, July 31, 2007

big shoulders (DONE)

Big strong shoulders required to move disgustingly oversized furniture from our apartment tomorrow at 9am. 3 pairs required. text or call 312 391 0388 if you can help.

Thanks to the mercenaries pictured above who drove all the way up from Louisville, Kentucky, having read my blog late last night. I hope the $60 I paid them covers their travel costs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Setting myself up...

I donated to Chicago Public Radio during the end-of-the-fiscal-year pledge drive during an hour when, if 100 people pleadged during that hour, everyone got a CD (not availalble in stores!) with a recording of each and every story told on This American Life's recent US tour "What I learned from television" (Listen to some stories at: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=328). So even though different stories were told and retold in different cities, I have one telling of each story (I'd like to think they're the best tellings of each story) here on a cool art-nouveau looking CD....that I am about to listen to.

I actually thought I wouldn't be getting my CD. When I called in and pledged, they asked if I wanted any of the thank-you gifts and I said no, meaning I didn't want the regular gifts offered at my pledge level, and then I just quickly mumbled something about still wanting the cool This American Life CD, not wanting to seem too greedy but simultaneously wanting to secure my CD. I later ruminated on the fact that by saying no to the thank-you gift, I didn't have to pay the $5 shipping fee, which probably meant I wasn't getting the special CD gift.....am I an 80-year-old lady worried about her next Reader's Digest book of the month or what? Next I'll be taking salt packets from McDonald's (I already take extra napkins to keep in the car for Lily mess moments).

When Oli got the CD in the mail yesterday, we were both a little surprised by my emotional reaction. I can't remember the last time I was this excited....and I don't even listen to This American Life; I've heard it twice. I've gone from 80-year-old ruminator to Ralphie's dad in A Christmas Story, psyched about his "major award."

I can't help but think that I am setting myself up for disappointment blogging about this and all, but here I go all the same.


In moving news, we've been busy bees, selling most of our things on Sunday. Our apartment is almost furniture-less. What's left is for sale on Craigslist, in plastic storage containers going to my sister's, marked as "ship to Spain once we have an apartment," or in a suitcase. We go to Wisconsin this Thursday-Sunday and then move out Tuesday, July 31 to live with my sister until we take off on August 8 for the UK.


Saturday, July 21, 2007


Lily says some new things:

She repeats this one sometimes when we say it, but hasn't yet started using it to tell us no. Our days are clearly numbered.

Down (from my high chair), More, Abre (open)
Lily was a bit feral last month, screaming in place of asking for things. Some real parenting was required and we started saying a gentle but firm "no" to screaming, then earnestly repeated the word she should use to ask for the type of help needed (Parents Magazine should hire us). Two weeks later we've got her using "down" (pronounced "dow, dow") and a fervent pointing to the ground gesture to get her out of her high chair, "more" (pronounced "Mm, Mm") to, well, ask for more of something, and "abre" (pronounced "Ah, Ah") to get us to open things for her. A hand to the mouth also serves for, "feed me!!!!" Screaming levels are back down to a normal range.

She is also finally in line with the whole eating in the high chair thing as opposed to the roaming eating thing. In the week before we went to California, we had started reinforcing this rule, having snacks in the chair and eating meals together at the table. When we dropped her off with my family, she was still a protestant (I highly doubt you can use "protestant" in this context, but I want to, badly.). My family continued the hard work we had begun and she was fixed when we came back. Nice.

Peepee, Poo Poo (pointing at her diaper to tell you she's just done one)
Lily has decided to begin potty training herself at 17 months. We taught her "peepee," as in the body part, a while ago. She enjoyed learning her body part's name, and started saying its name and grabbing it when her diaper was changed. This was only slightly problematic when she had "done a dirty," as Oli calls it. We moved on to telling her the names of the things in her diaper and now she points and says the name of the one she's done. At this point we go to the toilet and talk/act out potty time, which she loves (she will flush the toilet on demand if commanded in Spanish), so maybe some time soon she'll start telling us before she does 'em (although books tell me kids don't have the muscle strength to control their bowels until after 18 months, so we'll take it at Lily's pace I suppose...)? In the meantime, it is really funny to see Lily's little body on a giant toilet.

Car (pronounced the British way, without the r sound; it's kind of the cutest thing an American could ever hear.)
As a car passed our balcony this morning, Oli pointed and said, "car." Lily then said the same, in Oli's accent, and repeated it a few times. Now when we point to cars she utters a gentle "cah."

Mweeeeee (as in the sound an elephant makes)
Point to an elephant. Yes, now. Now Lily will stick her nose to her shoulder and say "mweeee." Good job.

Gooooool! (pronouned "Daaaaaaaaa" by Lily)
Now she can not only dribble, pass and shoot, but when she does so, she throws her arms up and heaves her whole body behind a "Daaaaaaaaa!" Purely champion material.

Mwah (as in the sound of kissing)
She now kisses. Kisses aren't words, but they ARE newsworthy.

Ta Da!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Lily has grown about 4 inches and learned about 20 new things since we last saw her a week ago.

She was staying part of the week with my sister and her family and the other part of the week with my parents and brother, and it seems everyone had a great time with her and that she pretty much didn't miss us.

Noteworthy bits of Lily's week away from us include:

- Spending lots of time with my dad (Papa Lee). They went shopping all kinds of places (Target, Walgreens, Jewel) together and now Lily calls him "Papa", which is pretty cool because when Oli's parents just visited, she got to calling Oli's dad Ray "Papa" as well.

- Everyone in the family taking to calling Lily's blanket "Titi" because that's what she calls it. When she was sad, my niece and nephew would yell to my sister, "Mom, get Titi!"

- Getting closer to my sister and finally warming up to my brother-in-law Nick (Unky Neecho - because my sister calls him "Neecholas" instead of "Nicholas" sometimes); I hear she was being pretty playful with him, hiding behind corners and jumping out at him.

- Family members working on getting Lil to say "gracias," which we hear she managed once, and on recognizing the parts of her face, which she has a 50/50 record on.

- Becoming best buddies with my nephew Jacob. Lily has been calling him "Jakey" for some time now, and with him being the little caregiver he is, it didn't take long for them to become inseparable.

Overall then, it was a restorative week for us the parents and she the child, and everyone else seems to have had a swell time, too. ~

Santa Ana to Santa Barbara and back: an overview

Preferred Driving Music: 2Pac and Leslie Fiest

- Were met at the Orange Country (a.k.a. Santa Ana, a.k.a. John Wayne) airport by Bill of Vintage SURFari Wagons in Nalu Imi (“Wave Hunter”), the 1979 VW camper
- Were initially disappointed by Orange County and California because everything looked like the suburbs of Chicago (housing subdivisions and Target) but in stucco
- Got stuck in big traffic jam on the 405 going past LA but didn’t notice because we were too busy making a music video to 2Pac’s California Love
- Got beeps and waves from people lovin’ the camper
- Stopped where Bill had told us to at Emma Woods state beach just past Ventura and met two surfers, Adrian from Australia and Jeff from California, who gave us the scoop on where to learn to surf and where to visit
- Camped in Carpenteria, a town just up the coast where the surfers had suggested; kind of a crappy campsite but a very lovely town and ocean view

- Ate breakfast on the beach
- Called Brad Hagan in San Francisco to let him know we now realistically understood we would never make it that far north to see him; Brad was at a TGIFridays when we called, but he claims it was like the first time in years
- Hung out in Carpenteria, taking in a classic car show and spending way too much on clothes but really enjoying finding clothes we both loved
- Went down to Santa Claus Lane just north of Carpenteria to the A-Frame Surf Shop to see the guys Jeff and Adrian had mentioned
- Got an evening surf lesson with Eric and both managed to stand; learned SURFING IS HARD and realized that the average person in California generally has two more good-looking points than the average person in Chicago due to their sun-kissed skin and athleticism
- Got invited to a party at Eric’s place and then camped out on his street

- Ate an extremely overpriced breakfast at the Brown Pelican overlooking the water near/in Santa Barbara
- Walked the beach our waitress told us was named Hendry’s but a sign said was called Arroyo something
- Shopped a bit in Santa Barbara
- Drove through the wine country of the 154 (BEAUTIFUL)
- Camped on the ocean at the rather crappy Gaviota state beach

- Breakfast on the beach as usual
- A slight tantrum from a pre-menstrual Angela set off by the loss of a pair of earrings she had just bought in Carpenteria
- A drive back through wine country past the Los Olivos grocery store with much time spent filming and rigging the camera to the front of the van for enhanced filming
- Back to Santa Claus Lane to rent surf boards and practice; ran in to surfers Adrian and Jeff again, wondering what job allowed them to surf mid afternoon on a Monday; Angela had to wimp out after 40 min of surfing due to being thrashed by waves, Oli went strong for 2 hours but was also thrashed
- Realized we could park for free overnight in the public lots in Santa Barbara overlooking the water
- Went out to a touristy dance bar on State St where many foreign college students went looking for something like the discotheques back in their home countries
- Walked down State St a few blocks to our van and passed out from exhaustion

- Chilled in our van overlooking the water for a LONG time, immobilized by tired
- Decided to drive back down the coast, stopping to walk down Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk before finally making it to Orange County
- BUT the van wouldn’t start after we stopped to use the bathrooms at a beach along the way; fuel was shooting out of the fuel line when Oli tried to start it
- Within five minutes or so a guy pulled up who was camping at the beach and also happened to be a former VW mechanic; one butter knife later the naughty bit was secured back in place over the fuel line and we made it to Venice
- Walked the classic part of Venice Beach, then impressed passers by with our Frisbee skills
- Checked in to an airport hotel where Bill picked up the van

- Woke up WAY too early for humans to imagine and flew home
- Angela had a pretty good cold that had started as a nose tickle, a reaction to salty blasts from multiple submerssions in massive waves

Can’t wait to see Lily when she comes back to us tomorrow morning!!!
Must purchase a camper for ourselves; Bill says he's happy to help.
Look forward to a future surf vacation where we work out our kinks over a week of intensive practice.
And lastly, Friday is my last day at work. Sweeb, as we say in Milford.

PS - Video version of the above vacation will be available in a few weeks....as will Marty and Megan's wedding from last August and my niece's b-day party from last July...