This weekend has been eventful. First I'll talk about the March of Dimes on Saturday. We got up early for the walk at White Rock Lake. The walk was supposed to begin at 9:00am and I committed myself to get there before nine to meet up with other people from our group. I was running behind in time and resigned that if we were going to be late, we might as well be comfortably late. So we stopped for pigs-in-a-blanket on the way. Knowing there would probably be almost no parking, we parked at the rail station near by and took the free DART shuttle bus. That worked out great! It left right after we loaded and dropped us off right at the front of the start line. We got ourselves situated for a couple minutes, called a friend to see where she was and then they did the countdown and started the march. So we jumped into the front of the line! We caught up with Kim, Kevin & Kate who were our walking buddies. No one really knew how long the walk was. I guessed horribly at 1.2k. Someone else guessed 5mi. It was actually just over 7 miles. The weather was perfect, having rained all the night before there was a cool breeze, moderate humidity, generous cloud coverage and clean air. The babies were good during the walk. Kate slept part of the way in her backpack-carrier on her dad's back. Josh couldn't nap so we alternated strolling and carrying him. He had a great time! We ended up leaving very shortly after the march due to rain. Rusty compared himself to a Palahniuk character because we just showed up, walked among all these sponsors, volunteers, donators and do-gooders, then left without actually donating or participating with the rest of the event.

In other news, on Thursday evening I got bit by Darwin. He's now in the county animal shelter under quarantine. Here's what happened: Joshua is learning how to be gentle with animals. He no longer grabs at them; now he pats the cats with one hand. Well he crawled up to Darwin who was chilling out on the floor and started patting his back feet. Darwin took this for a few moments then lunged at Josh. He didn't bite him that I could tell but it still startled Josh and it was an aggressive move. I made sure Josh was ok then went after the cat. I was yelling at him telling him he was a bad cat and picked him up in two places- the scruf of his neck and somewhere on his back. Half way through the house on the way to tossing him outside he wiggled out of my grip and after a second of trying to regain my grip he turned around and bit me. But real hard. I yelled again, chased him into the hall and into Josh's room where I closed him in. Then I looked at my hand. It was covered in blood from several deep gashes and punctures. I called Rusty to come home (it was 5:30 so he was near the end of his day anyway) and took Josh to our neighbor's house to hold Josh for a moment so I could clean my hand and regain composure. We ended up going to PrimaCare to clean my fingers where I also got a prescription for antibiotics. My hand was really stiff and painful on Friday and over the course of the weekend my hand swelled up, the gashes throbbed off and on, and I was red around my index and middle finger. Today it's doing much better.

Darwin got the raw end of the deal. Two hours after coming home from PrimaCare, the County Animal Services paid us a visit requesting to see proof of his last vaccinations. I couldn't find my papers so we agreed to quarantine him at home. The next morning we were informed that we were 11 days late on our rabies vaccine for Darwin and that he would need to be quarantined at the vet's office or at the animal shelter. We can't afford the $200+ vet fee so we sent him to the shelter. He's in quarantine until May 7 (10 days of lock up) and then we can pick him up. One of the ladies at the vet's office said she would be interested in adopting Darwin. We both agree (she and I) that Darwin may be one of those cats that's just not good around kids. Some animals are patient and well tempered while others just aren't. Since Darwin's been out of the house, the other cats have been in good spirits and seem more relaxed.

Lastly, today was Rusty's birthday. We spent the afternoon shopping for new shoes for him and spent a little time at Tommy's where Rusty went around a maypole with friends. The wind picked up, tearing some of the paper streamers, but everyone had fun anyway and the bottom portion of the pole looked decent. This evening we went out for dinner while Matt Peck entertained Josh. All three of us have had a good weekend and are now, rightly so, worn-out!

He's not walking... yet. Every so often Josh either forgets to hold on or just lets go for a moment while moving. He's taken a few steps but nothing I'd consider real walking yet. But he's close! He's still on tip-toes most of the time and doesn't have good balance unless he's holding on to something.

Today, Joshua is 11 months old! I can hardly believe this is the last month for his first birthday- which I need to start planning. He still babbles and screeches but hasn't said a single word. He also hasn't mastered saying 'mama' (much less 'gramma'). He has learned a few useless trick though! He can stick his tongue in and out while humming. Sometimes he does this in the high chair, spitting food out. Highly annoying! He's also learned to click his tongue in his mouth and smack his lips. Again, neat tricks but nothing profound in the way of progress towards talking. I'll bet as soon as he learns to talk I'll wish I hadn't pushed him to learn!

We fed Josh tofu this evening. I just cut a few pieces and offered it to him. He ate the first piece with success then spit out the second one. I sprinkled cinnamon and vanilla and he ate a few more, but clearly it's not his favorite. As a backup, I had black beans and cheese (high protein meal!) which he gobbled up. I'll try various ways of serving tofu, perhaps with veggies, before giving up. Tomorrow we'll share a pear for lunch (I eat the skins).

New pictures are available from our vacation, linked on the right under my picture.

Twenty highlights of our trip you should know...

  1. Joshua is now a proficient stair climber. He fell once from the second step on the second to last day.
  2. My dad has been deemed a Baby Whisperer due to his mad skills at entertaining and putting Joshua to sleep.
  3. It is possible to cross New Mexico on Hwy. 87 in an hour and a half.
  4. Josh now has a farmer's tan.
  5. We caught the beginnings of a grass fire SW of Amarillo. The fire was headed towards a housing development pushed by 50 MPH winds. We drove past the onlookers as the fire trucks, police, and bulldozers arrived.
  6. Joshua surprised us one afternoon by crawling out of his play pen after a nap, climbing the basement stairs and greeting us in the dining room. We didn't know he was awake until hewas crawling towards us! (the zipper door must have had a gap that he used to get out)
  7. Rusty murdered a rabbit with my car on the way to Wichita Falls.
  8. Josh didn't sleep well at all the first two nights so he slept on my chest or between us on the bed the rest of the time. He snores.
  9. I lost my Best-Mom-of-the-Year award after holding Josh in the back of the car on the way home. The car seat wasn't comfortable causing him to cry, wail, bawl, scream at us- so I took him out and let him sleep on my lap and shoulder. That wasn't exactly safe or legal but he got rest and a soft place to sleep during the long lonely stretches of road.
  10. Dorothy, our surrogate grandmother, agreed to watch Josh from 6am to 11am so that we could sleep after coming home. I am forever in her debt for that!
  11. We visited the Haystack Goat Cheese farm. Josh loved seeing the goats as much as we did!
  12. I took a tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory (no babies allowed so Rusty & Josh hug out in the gift shop) and walked away with a few samples and boxes of tea to remember the experience. If you ever get to go, the Peppermint room is intense!
  13. We encountered the back of a storm on our way through the panhandle of Texas. It hailed on us for about 15 minutes but luckily we got no damage from it.
  14. My Mom got Joshua a book (Peek-A-Boo Bedtime) which was a hit on the way to Colorado. Later that week, my dad got him another book (Peek-A-Boo Bathtime) which was appreciated on the way home.
  15. We used non-baby safe items to somewhat baby proof my aunt's house: rubber bands held the cabinets shut, a heavy metal wedge kept the pantry closed, a rocking chair to block stereo equipment- all implemented two days before we left.
  16. Joshua had his first shower with Rusty after we gave up trying to keep him from standing in the bath tub.
  17. Rice, coconut milk and mango was a hit for Josh's meal time!
  18. Joshua joined us for sushi- all three times! He enjoyed the edamame.
  19. Rusty managed to douse me with fermented juice during lunch at Whole Foods. (He bought a drink that claimed to boost energy. And it had live cultures in it. But it tasted awful, like the vinegar stuff used to color eggs for Easter. So he decided to add sugar. As soon as he did, it exploded with foam. He tried to stop the foam by cupping his mouth over the bottle which then channeled all the foaming juice directly onto my shirt, lap, lunch, table, and floor behind me. Everyone around us pretended not to notice.)
  20. Despite the fashion of Boulderites, Josh refused to wear a hat making it a challenge to avoid direct sun on his face.

I hosted the play date today at our house. I had a decent small turn out of five moms, about half of what RSVP'd. I'm glad all 10 didn't show up though because we had enough room for the babies to crawl around and a have good conversation. Joshua had a great time playing and showing off his toys and tricks. One new trick he's learned this week is he can "play" a penny whistle. I showed him what it was one day and by accident he figured out that blowing made sounds. Rusty will tell you he's also learned how to toss/roll a ball back but I haven't seen this trick yet, so as far as I am concerned it hasn't happened! Anyway, now that the house is returned to "normal" and Josh is napping, I have a list of things to do to prepare for our trip. (Yes, I'll now obsess over every single detail until we leave!) One thing on my list is to clean and move the car seat from rear to forward facing.

-gasp!- But you can't do that until he's one!

Yeah, I know. But Josh is almost 11 months and he's big for his age so I think it'll be ok to switch a little early. That will give us more room in the car in the front passenger seat and I'm hoping the new view will distract him from being fussy in the car. Initially anyway.

In other news, Matt & Sam are getting hitched next month. We're looking forward to this not only as a sweet reminder of our own blissful wedding day but as an opportunity to ditch the kid with babysitters for a few hours. yay!!! Don't get me wrong- I love taking care of Josh but I also love having a good time with friends. There's a three hour gap between wedding and reception so we'll use that time to swap sitters. I'm asking around for shift one (I'll probably ask Dorothy, our surrogate grandmother); we have shift two covered by Rusty's work pal Rick. This is why having friends rock. We look out for each other. I help Dorothy design a website for charity, she plays with Josh a few hours. It's a sweet arrangement!

Most stories are based on some grains of truth some place in the author's life. To the point, there are grains of truth in my April Fools blog though by and large the stories were fabricated for your, err my, amusement. From the bottom up, I described the cat's behaviors as accurately as I could. Merlin actually did catch a bird once and brought it to Rusty's door. And when I was in fourth grade I did find a bird trapped in our garage. I tried to make friends with it but it was not friendly so I showed it how to get out. As for the job promotion, at the time of my entry, there was no promotion or raise. As of today Rusty will receive a raise effective this summer and there is discussion of promotion though I'm not supposed to talk about that. Finally, we are indeed out of room for any more creatures in our house. I often wish we had more closet space even. We have talked about how many kids we eventually want, and yes, we eventually want another. But the timing is all off in my prank. We're thinking of trying again in autumn. I figure we might as well get the baby-proofing, car seats, potty training, baby food, all that stuff out of the way. So there ya have it. The real deal is we're planning for number two and planning to move into a roomier home.

Which brings me to other news today. Rusty's company is planning to open call centers in various cities including a few we've talked about moving to: Seattle, Denver & Austin. To clarify, we would probably go suburban if we decided to move to Colorado since the town has an awful lot of pollution and I could potentially get closer to family. (And I would happen to know two other really cool moms in the area!) I'm not sure what the timing is on us moving, but we're definitely thinking about our options. Good thing about Seattle is proximity to Vancouver and Portland where we can see our friends. Good thing about the Denver area is proximity to my family. Good thing about Austin is it's easier to move to. I'm personally leaning more towards either Seattle or Denver because I really want to be close to good friends or family. We'll see what turns out over the course of the year. Meanwhile I'll be busying myself researching places to live and work for each location to help us decide.

Joshua & I went to the Dallas Arboretum yesterday with a few other moms. The arboretum has a 'Mommy & Me Monday' in March and April for moms and their babies. Lots of fun for little kids and it's a nice place to hang out for a change. Thing is, there were hundreds of people there! Moms from everywhere pushing strollers, holding babies, walking with kids- it was crazy! I was expecting a quiet park, maybe a dozen people there, small paths leading to small patches of plants. I was wrong on all counts. The Dallas Arboretum is large. For this event, it attracted so many people, they were parking us on grass & gravel because the paring spaces were full. I bought my ticket from Tom Thumb ($1 discount) then drove very slowly to let Josh sleep in the car. He got less than an hour of rest on the way there and again on the way back. I stayed well into the afternoon strolling with two other moms, letting the babes play and feeding them. By the end of the day I was exhausted and sunburned. I think I conked out at 9:30.

Tomorrow is a no fun chores and errands day. We have some light shopping to do, groceries, clean out the car & car seat, and a few things to do around the house to prepare for a play date I'm hosting tomorrow. So far about 10 moms have RSVP'd to come over. I have plenty of room in the front of the house. I don't know if I've met everyone who's coming over (I know them through Meetup.com), but I do have a few friend-moms coming to help break ice. And Rusty will be here working from home. After the play date, it'll all be about preparing for the trip to Colorado.

Rusty's had a cold this week and now it looks like I caught his bug. No surprise. I feel like my immune system has dropped since Josh was born. I used to not get sick from Rusty very often but now I'm catching it every time. So far Josh doesn't seem effected.

I met up with several other moms yesterday in Allen at Celebration Park. It was pretty fun being out with so many others (about a dozen or more showed up) and the park was nice. I was having issues though that made my experience less desirable: I had a raging headache, I was running late getting there, it was day-two of my period so I was running for the bathroom every 30 minutes, while using the bathroom with Josh at the park he kept going for the toilet to investigate so I had to spend time washing his hands afterwards, then a diaper change, all of which took at least 15 minutes in the bathroom and when we came out almost all the moms had left. At least he had fun crawling around on the grass when we all sat in a circle chatting. Despite my own problems, I'm glad I got out.

This week I've discovered I have a hard time responding to other people's problems. Not in the sense that I don't have empathy or say the wrong thing. I took Josh to a park in Carrollton earlier this week. (He had a great time though I wasn't crazy about the recycled tire chunks spread out on the playground area.) A lady was sitting on a park bench enjoying the weather and watching Josh play. She started a conversation with me about kids and how fast they grow up. Then, seemingly out of no where she confesses to me that she lost her home in New Orleans, she lives with her daughter who is about to throw her out of the house, and now she has a lump in her breast. All this personal information in about 5 minutes time. I made short reassuring responses like "Sorry to hear about your home, I guess it was time for you to make a change in life" and "The lump is probably from stress" and "We all fall on hard times; Did you hear about the tornados on the East coast this week?" That last comment was a weak tactic to change the topic. Then last night my cousin calls to say Hi and catch up. She tells me about her mother (who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and her grandfather is apparently also dying. I wasn't sure how to respond so I didn't say much. It's problems that seem to be so daunting and so depressing with little to no real solution that seems to stump my ability to converse. I find myself running to quick insincere phrases or searching for a new topic. Or not saying anything at all. The next time I see that lady from the park, I hope she tells me she's doing fine. I can handle fine much better than the truth.

And now for the crusher... that last blog entry I sent you was an April Fools joke. For those who fell for it and congratulated us, thanks for the support, we'll keep it for later. The rest of you caught on and laughed with me.

Based on the reactions I got, I think I'm a better story teller than a liar. Or perhaps I'm a very good liar depending on your view! Either way, here's the scoop: there are no official plans for another baby, no one is going to be on TV, Rusty is not being promoted to his boss's position, nor is anyone going to China (except Gene & Becky), and there was no bird wreaking havoc in our home. Although my stories had grains of loose truth in them, it was all a prank on YOU!

I was going for tall tales that could be plausible, but perhaps these were a little too plausible. I should have taken Rusty's advice on having an alien encounter, Joshua speaking French, or some other stream of consciousness adventure. Maybe next year...

Hope your first weekend of April was full of humor. Or at least pleasant in some way. Cheers!

The first day of April and we have overcast skies with rain. yuck. Just when you think you're bored with the routine of real life, things get a little crazy. As many of you know, I took Joshua to a modeling agency a couple weeks ago to see if I could get him in a magazine or something. I figure a little extra cash would be nice. Call it payment for all those diaper changes and midnight feedings! Anyway, you probably know about the guy stopped me in the parking lot. Well, I called him back a few days later after talking it over with Rusty and we decided "what the heck- let's do it!" The Learning Channeling is creating a new reality show called Real Moms. They want to document moms who are encountering a new page in their life, whether it's bringing home their first baby or moving to a new house or dealing with out of control kids. All sorts of topics. The producer is looking for three moms bringing home a new baby while their first is still in diapers. They want to see how these families deal with the added pressures of a new addition. I spent a lot of time interviewing and being interviewed by their staff. They like the fact that our house doesn't really have room for another baby and that our little guy is only 10 months old. Of course we would get compensated nicely ($7500) for letting a film crew into our homes for 15 months. That more than pays for the cost of another natural birth and helps us buy another crib, clothes, car seat, etc. To make time work for the show, we're going to start conception this month. So we're having another baby!

On a side note, Rusty's job is shifting as of this weekend. His boss's boss got promoted out of the department. That upset several people including Allyn (Rusty's boss) who is leaving the firm for a telephony startup in China. That leaves Rusty with an option to move to China to join in the startup (I said No Way) or to move into his boss's position and clean up the mess from this fall out. Several people are leaving the team from all this so Rusty's job now includes rebuilding the team and bridging the gap that Allyn's boss once held between the various departments. He's asking for a huge raise since he'll be taking on new responsibilities and ultimately more work. If they don't accept his proposal for $220,000 per year he's walking too. That throws a kink into our family-planning. I hope the company doesn't baulk. And if they do, I really hope Rusty can find a new job quick enough.

I almost forgot to mention the bird attack I had earlier this week. I was sweeping out the garage on Wednesday and left the garage open for a few hours afterwards. I lost track of what I was doing after being "paged" by Josh to feed him and change his diaper. After I realized the overhead door was still open, I reached around the corner of the door and pushed the button to close the garage. Moments later I hear all this racket in the garage- stuff falling down, something thumping on the wall- I freaked out thinking someone was in there. I grabbed a kitchen knife and swung the door open to spook whoever was in there. Then I spotted this huge blackbird on my car. I was relieved it was just a bird so I opened the overhead for him to get out. But he freaked and flew past him into the living room. It was all chaos after that. He flew into the ceiling fan, knocked out pictures, banged on the windows trying to fly out. He went from room to room looking for the exit then landed on top of the dining room table. Josh was a little anxious but curious to crawl towards the dining room to see what was going on. Our cats heard the bird and immediately came out to watch. Samson was scared and kept pacing between the front rooms and the hallway. Merlin was intent on hunting so he crouched down and started inching forward. Darwin was spooked too so he side stepped close to me but stayed crouched locked on the bird. I wasn't sure what to do. There's that pause when things settle and everything is peaceful and surreal. I didn't want to scare the bird because I didn't want him to go flying everywhere again. But he was nervous with the cats surrounding him anyway so I slowly moved for the front door. Then he crapped! On my table! The lousy bird crapped on my table! I swung the door open and yelled at him to get out. He flapped his wings and started for the door- but just then Merlin leapt into the air and sort of "tripped" him mid-take off. The bird and Merlin wrestled for a few seconds before breaking free and flying out. Merlin got a scratch so I had to take him to the vet. Darwin and Samson didn't sleep for hours expecting the bird to come around the corner. Josh was pretty much oblivious. I had such a mess to clean up. Oh well. That was definitely more entertaining than television!

Happy April Fools Day!

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