Thursday, April 29, 2010

house hunting humor

So we're trying to find a place to live when we move back to Utah. And doing it from North Carolina is something like a bad blonde joke: NOT FUNNY. You try convincing someone that even though you're not in the state and you can't meet with them, you really do want to rent their home. Whatever. So far, I've tracked down a couple large refrigerator boxes. They look cozy.

So I'm constantly perusing Craig's List and KSL Classifieds for something, right? Well, I stumbled upon this condo in Bountiful that looked really great - new, beautiful wood floors, only shared one wall, views of the valley (and the petroleum plant). But it was only $500 a month. That's less than we pay now. For something considerably larger. And nicer. Not to mention that the price is substantially lower than its comparables. I thought it looked too good to be true, so I emailed the poster asking when it was available, if the price was per week or month, etc.

The response we received changed our view on house hunting long distance dramatically. Suddenly IT'S HILARIOUS.

So I get this response that starts, "Hello Dear." Listen, I'm nobody's dear. But it only got better. The responder (I guess I'll allow her to remain anonymous) then went on to say that she was in West Africa (with the keys and documents to the house to boot) on a mission for God. Now, I have nothing against missions for God. As a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon), I actually fully support and believe in missionary work. Our nineteen-year old boys serve missions around the world, our women head off when they're twenty-one, and we have gobs of grandmas and grandpas spreading the good word as well. It's an extraordinary work, no matter whose church you belong to, a selfless and dedicated act that I completely respect.

But what got hilarious was when she went on to promise me that "if you take care of our house, the GOD of our father of faith abraham will never let you down" (all punctuation marks or lack thereof and grammar mistakes are those of the missionary's).

Forget keeping the commandments. I'm just going to rent this condo and call it good.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Dear Sugarless Bubble Yum:

Not only do you make me feel young again (I challenge anyone to blow a big bubble and not feel four years old), but you also trick my taste buds into thinking I'm eating a yummy treat. 

When actually I'm dying for a big, gooey chocolate chip cookie, loaded with fat and delicious calories.


Dear Pack N Play:

Thank you for providing a resting place for my daughter for her first nine months of life. However, I do have a minor complaint. You see, when she rolls over, her girth hits your screen walls and wakes her up.

And then we have an all night dance party.

You Will Not Be Missed

P.S. If you could just hold out until we move back to Utah, where we're having the crib delivered, we'd greatly appreciate it.
P.P.S. Don't be offended - you'll get plenty of use when the next one comes along. IN LIKE TEN YEARS.

Dear Annabelle:

Our apologies for making you sleep in that Pack 'N' Play for so long. Even though I've created a thick mattress of blankets, I still think you're rather uncomfortable. The thing is, we didn't expect that we'd have such a - ah hem - healthy baby. But we promise that a crib is on its way. And I firmly believe it will not only solve all our sleeping problems, but also most other world problems.

Rising fuel costs, rush hour, humidity.

Your Semi Negligent Mom

P.S. If you didn't shove your face into the corner of the Pack 'N' Play, you might be a little more comfortable. Just a thought.

The pictures have absolutely nothing to do with anything, except that I just stumbled on these and realized they were never included in the Daily Annabelle and felt that they were too good to not be shared somewhere. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

i needed a girl

Jess, a few weeks ago: I was thinking today. And I think you needed a girl first more than I needed a boy.

We're packing up our apartment, which has left it looking as though a tornado may have blown through about fifteen minutes ago. Boxes - assembled and not - everywhere, food storage extracted from its quiet corner of the apartment, bags of donations for the Salvation Army piling up, bookshelves unassembled, other shelves empty and wiped clean. All this freneticism really stresses Annabelle out (she is SO her mother's daughter), so I try to pack her around with me as I pack other things into boxes. Yesterday, as I organized my nightstand drawers, going through stacks of papers long forgotten and hardly needed, she sat next to me. She found a tube of chapstick and an old watch, an item for each hand. Occasionally, she put her hand on my leg and looked up at me, as if to say, " know I'm still here right?" I'd kiss her, she'd bump her head against mine in what has become her own little nuzzle, and we'd keep packing, Belle patiently waiting for me to finish, an item in each hand.

And I couldn't help thinking, oh how I needed a girl, this girl in particular.

Friday, April 23, 2010


So on Friday mornings, I get my sorry butt out of bed at 5:00 a.m. so I can make the 5:45 a.m. spinning class. And I am not alone. The gym opens at 5:30 a.m., and when I arrive at about 5:25 a.m., there is already a line of people trailing from the building.

(Yes, the class is that good. I work so hard the top of my hands sweat. Too much information?)

So it becomes a bit of a comedy. As we get out of our cars, it's pretty obvious that we're all trying to race (without looking frantic) to get in line - you know walking really fast, but not so much that we're running, while simultaneously casually sipping our water bottles, as though we haven't a care in the world (besides GETTING A BIKE IN THE CLASS). Once you secure your place in line, you can watch each person mentally count what number they are. Because there are only twenty bikes. If you find yourself in the bigger teens, you start biting your nails, hoping that one of the people in front of you isn't doing the spinning class, that maybe they just want to run in place at 5:30 a.m. (I did it for years - it happens folks.)

It's really stressful up until that point where the doors open and we file in - all the while trying to maintain our casual obsession with getting into the class, almost pushing and shoving but not quite because that would be embarrassing - and we write our names on the list. Today I was number EIGHTEEN. I was there twenty minutes early, and I barely got a bike. Eighteen gave me the bike in the corner where the fans don't really toss any air so much as they provide nice decoration, but by the end of the class I couldn't decide what was the bigger victory - completing the rigorous work out of insane sprints uphill followed by long durations of seated climbing, or getting a bike in the first place.

No. I'm not at all competitive. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

stiff as a board

Growing up, I had a good friend whose mom wouldn't let her use hairspray. Because as she said, "If God wanted your hair to be as stiff as a board, he would have made it that way."

And I think about her every morning when I spritz the Little Miss and her sweet little curls. :)

Incidentally, I often wondered why she wore clothes. After all, she wasn't born wearing clothes...

By the way, these curls have an extra boost from gobs of sunblock.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


So for most of Annabelle's life, I've been on nighttime baby duty. She is bottle fed, so Jess could do it, and it isn't that he wouldn't. It's mostly that I hear every little sound she makes (no she isn't in our room - other side of the apartment, actually - and no, I don't have a baby monitor), so I know the instant that she wakes up or breathes weird or turns over or moves a toe. Instead of waiting for him to hear her, I just find it much easier to get up and get 'er done. Plus, there is a part of me that loves our quiet little moments at night. When she was small, I treasured these moments especially. They were just so magical, even when I was exhausted.

I've also learned that motherhood is just exhausting, period. Even when she was sleeping through the night, I was constantly tired. I figure if I'm going to be wiped out either way, I might as well enjoy a few minutes with my sweet baby, even if those minutes do occur in the 2:00 a.m. hour.

At Belle's nine month check up, the doctor asked how she was doing generally. I mentioned that she had gone backwards in terms of sleeping and quite often ate once in the middle of the night (she started sleeping through the night at about three months). The doc raised her eyebrows and said that at her size (she's over the ninety-ninth percentiles on all accounts, weighs 25 pounds), she really doesn't need to eat, that it was probably more of a comfort thing. She asked who got up with her at night. Me. She asked if I stayed home with her. Yes. She asked if she's a momma's girl. Why, yes, yes she is.

So she suggested that Jess get up with her. She was guessing that she's had months to learn that if she cries at night, Momma will feed her, but if Jess was the one to rescue her, she probably wouldn't NEED to eat. When I got home and reported this to Jess, he gladly said he'd oblige. So when she began the whining at 2:30 a.m., Jess went and got her. He rocked her and snuggled her for a while, and she did indeed go back to sleep.

At 5:15 a.m. I nudged Jess to let him know that I was off to my spinning class and to remind him that he was still on baby duty. He rolled over, cracked his eyelids open, and said, ""

I left the apartment with a smile, vindication trailing behind me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

geographical attachment

I generally don't get attached to places. Jess does. Like his mom, he learns to really love a place, to see its inner beauty, to see everything beautiful about a place. He finds an emotional connection with the places he lives and visits. It's a trait I admire really, the ability to love a place so much. While I generally enjoy new places, I customarily just take a mental and literal photo, and move on. I think it has something to do with one of my most unattractive qualities, impatience. Before I enjoy a place enough to become attached, I start tapping my foot with impatience, like, don't we have something to do other than fall in love with this tree?

My attachment is more to the memories, the people there. When we leave Durham in just a few weeks, I will miss the memories, the friends we've made, the unique time of life it was, what this place represents, not necessarily the place itself.

However, there is one place that has such a tender place in my heart, I don't even talk about it much. And I realize that much of this fondness has to do with the experience it represented as a whole, but I literally miss Japan so much sometimes that I ache. I miss the smells - curry, incense, and car exhaust all mixed up. I miss my hydrangeas, beautiful pops of color found around every corner, in the most unlikely urban landscapes. I miss the signs with extraordinarily bad, yet totally effective, English. I miss the quiet reverence of the people, their respect for one another and for their country. I miss the thick bread with super sweet jam from the dollar store. I miss the culture, the feeling of being soaked in wisdom just by walking down the street. I miss it all so much.

When we visited Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, I spent considerable time thinking about that place I love so much. The cherry blossoms that bloom for a few weeks each year in March and April are a vibrant reminder of Japan. The trees were a gift to America from my adopted homeland in 1912 as a gesture of friendship and hospitality. They are simply beautiful - delicate and vibrant in all their slight shades of white and pink. If you stand in the right place, they blanket the sky with their blossoms (it isn't a coincidence that these blossoms symbolize clouds in Japan). And if I stood there long enough, I could pretend that I was in my Tokyo.

I love a few things about this photo: 
(1) The photographer with two camera bodies around his neck and a backpack full of accessories 
(but as you'll see, he totes all this gear for good reason), and 
(2) The cute Japanese girls in the background. :)

Trying to snag a photo under these blossoms without other tourists crowding us out made Belle seriously bugged.

 See that strange black shape in the top right? Jess' lens. Funny.

And now for the main show:

I obviously couldn't choose just one. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Dear Veggie Straws:

Thank you for keeping my child fed. Besides her beloved formula, you are all she will consume these days. Also, I think you're rather tasty myself.

A Happy Mother

Dear Verizon:

While I think your customer service is better than Sprint, I hate my phone. Actually I hate my phoneS. Plural. You gave me three of this model because, to make a long story short, it SUCKS. And the refurb you gave me, while at least it stays on, is old and the buttons are child sized. Also, it takes junky photos. My family is loving the blurry pictures of my daughter.

I hear that you'll have the iPhone soon. I'm going to start including you in my nightly prayers.

I Might Throw My Phone in a Lake

P.S. If my phone accidentally ends up in, say, a lake, will you give me a new - and totally different - one?

Dear Mini York Peppermint Patties:

I love you. Fifty delicious calories of minty goodness. And because you sort of blow the tasebuds, I don't want to consume you en masse, thereby decreasing my treat eating caloric intake.

A Half Attempt to Cut Back on Chocolate

Dear My Kitchen Cafe:

Without your recipes, we would starve.

Without your buttermilk banana bread recipe, we would die. Also, so would a lot of bananas.

Your Portly - but Devoted - Disciples

Monday, April 12, 2010

tubby time

So over on the right of this blog, there's a little button that takes those who subscribe to The Daily Annabelle (if you'd like to be added, just let me know). For every day of Belle's life, I've posted a picture. At first, I did this to let our families who are far away see her growing and be a part of her life. Now, I'm actually really grateful I've been keeping it up because it's keeping better track of her milestones than I've done otherwise. And mostly, I love this blog just because it's all Belle, all day. And really, what could be better than that? :) 

Today, there are pictures of her after her bath, pictures I've been taking since she was tiny. So I looked up all the after tub time pictures. For one thing, I love how much she HATED her baths in the beginning compared to now when she literally dances around (claps, kicks, sometimes gives a shout that sounds something like "Baaa! Baaaa!") until I put her in. For another, I can't believe how much she's grown...








Friday, April 9, 2010

pretend i posted this days ago

So Duke won the NCAA championship. For those of you who don't live in North Carolina and aren't breathing this reality, I thought I better let you know. I mean, you've probably heard, but you're not living the hysteria that is Durham, North Carolina. You think you've seen school spirit, and then your school goes and wins a championship and suddenly you're walking out of the University Bookstore with a truckload of championship paraphernalia and a big blue D on your cheek.

Okay, we didn't paint our faces.

But we did dress up our cheerleader. In a 12 month ensemble. Naturally, it's too small, but we got such a kick of that little tooshy hanging out of her skirt, that we kept her in the outfit all day. And that would be a yes, she is standing by herself there.

And Jess did go to the massive assembly of students and fans that waited patiently for the team to arrive home. I watched from home with a napping baby, and since she has this ridiculous aversion to loud noise and tight spaces (seriously - she can't even do booths at restaurants without having a massive spaz out fit), it was probably a good move. 

And then Jess did happen to run in to Coach K, pretty much a celebrity in these here parts.

And because he'd just left the bookstore with his first championship t-shirt purchase, he thought, why not? (By the way, Jess said Coach K was incredibly gracious and happy to sign things and particularly took the time to shake hands with the kids. Cute.)

And it's possible we've been to the bookstore more than once since then because someone needs another shirt or hat. It's a little out of control, but the good news is we bought a championship onesie for the bug that is too big; hopefully we'll manage to get that on her before she grows out of it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

worn by the weather and the wind*

While we were in the Outer Banks, we visited three lighthouses. When I was younger, I visited a few short, squatty, blocked-off lighthouses at Cape Cod. They were such a disappointment, especially when I made the entire family drive around the Cape looking for them. But the Outer Banks has the lighthouses I've always dreamed of. They're tall, majestic, and beautiful. And even though you can't go in most of them yet (you can, seasonally, unless it's under renovation), there are no chainlink fences barring your enjoyment. It's hard to put your finger on it really, the impressive nature of lighthouses. Perhaps it's what they represent - the beacon of light they provide, guidance in storms, something we all figuratively look for from time to time.

First on the docket was Currituck Lighthouse.
We were able to climb to the top of this beaut, which was perhaps the highlight of our entire trip for me. It's something I'd always wanted to do. 
As we wound our way to the top, our legs getting shakier with each flight of stairs, I felt a little as though I was winding my way back in time. I could imagine the keeper, his family, climbing these stairs, "keeping the lamp lit, to warn the sailors on their way." Annabelle fell asleep at the top, so Jess had to carry her down the steep winding stairs, without holding to the rails.

I couldn't watch him - it caused me severe panic attacks. And really - she's enormously heavy so I have no idea how his back didn't snap in two.

Bodie Lighthouse is wrapped in a tight blanket of scaffolding for its first "remodel" in 100 years, but we stopped for a visit anyhow.

The man in the visitors' center seemed way more interested in his newspaper than our pestering questions. But we asked anyhow. It is the only lighthouse of this "cluster" in the Outer Banks that hasn't had a renovation. So it is definitely due for a makeover. I just wish I could see its big reveal. However, I was somewhat pacified to learn that Currituck and Bodie have the same basic blueprint, so I had essentially seen it in a sense.

And Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - also known as "America's Lighthouse" - was as spectacular as we hoped. 

It's the tallest lighthouse in the United States, and with winding stripes around its body and a red stone base, it is simply striking. This isn't the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - it was built in 1870 but destroyed in the Civil War. And this isn't actually its original resting place either - it was moved in 2000 because of erosion near its original site. We weren't allowed inside, but we spent a considerable amount of time wandering around and around its base. It was one of those times that both Jess and I dragged our feet when it came time to leave. You feel so safe when standing in the shadow of such a beacon.

It's interesting the way tourists flock to these beacons. It must be something about their history, their striking definition, their purpose. Maybe it's what they've seen - the storms, the calm - and they've lived through and survived it all. 

*Lines from The Lighthouse's Tale, a depressingly beautiful song by Nickel Creek, a now defunct country-folk group. I was tempted to make a video using this song, but the song is rather tragic. So if you're like me and enjoy depressingly beautiful songs, go have a listen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

on the outside

She's officially been outside of my belly as long as she was in it. Her time out has been just as short as her time in was ridiculously long. Her ninth month was like rapid fire milestones. Every morning I woke up to the stark realization that she would at some point do something to surprise me. She was all of the sudden very much not a baby, and this little person that is almost a toddler.

This month, my baby took her apprehensive crawl to lightning speed cruising. She started using "mama" and "dada" to actually refer to the correct person (sometimes, and "mama" only comes when she's dejected). She stopped eating most solids and sleeping through the night (AWESOME). She throws her nose in the air when she finds something particularly distasteful, food or toy. She loooovvvves her mama. She laughs and giggles when she's playing by herself. She likes to hold two things at a time, particularly if they are the same, to see if they match, make sound, can stack. She's developed a courtesy laugh and uses it when she wants to be a part of our conversation. She can walk along the couch and thinks standing by herself is pretty funny. She wears SIZE FIVE (yes you read that right) diapers, and her clothes are in the 12-18 month range, sometimes 24 month. She hates shoes on her feet but loves to play with ours.

Just this morning, as I was attempting to get ready (how dare I do something without her?!), she crawled into the bathroom, and pulled herself up to stand behind me as I did my makeup. And while she customarily whines when I'm not giving her my full and undivided attention, suddenly I heard amongst the whines: "Mamamama... mama... num, num, num," which is to say, "Mom, I'm hungry."


My baby is very much a baby and a little person all in one. I find the concept both heartbreaking and thrilling. Either way, it's been a lovely nine months. And I would take the not sleeping over the being pregnant any day. For the record.

NOTE: This bottom photo is an excellent demonstration of her sweet double jointed arms.


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