Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's like "Choose your own adventure" only I chose it for you...

You're waiting in the drive-thru at the bank when a blue minivan suddenly whips into the parking lot next door and parks behind the building advertising batteries. A soccer mom in her late thirties jumps out of the driver's seat and runs around to the back of the van where she is entirely hidden from street view.

She doesn't realize she's actually standing right in front of you when she quickly pulls down her shorts revealing a big, cellulite covered butt. And before you can even think WTF! she squats and unleashes enough urine to drown a large army of ants.

You're shocked by what's happening less than 100 feet away so you look around to see if anyone else has noticed. You spot the little old woman in a powder blue Cadillac in the next lane over. She's having trouble fishing her jaw out of her lap while keeping an eye on the other woman. Nope, you're not the only witness to this craziness.

After taking care of business, the woman replaces first her animal print thong, then black pleated shorts remarkably fast and climbs back into the van. You take a second to wonder if she's ever considered keeping a roll of toilet paper in the glove compartment.

She starts the engine and realizes she will have to turn the van around completely in order to get out from behind the building, and in her hurry to relieve herself, she didn't leave herself a lot of room to maneuver. This results in much rocking back and forth between drive and reverse. Just when she's almost gained enough room to leave, she looks over at the bank and notices the little old lady in the blue Caddie all wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and you, with a massive grin, obviously having a hard time holding your shit together.

She suddenly realizes she had an audience all along and whips out from behind the building almost as fast as she pulled in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I only waited 2.5 months for this

Last night marked my 11th consecutive night of uninterrupted sleep. I've been hesitant to post anything about it -- and I'm still a little afraid to be typing this now -- because I don't want to jinx it. I feel like Owen is 4 weeks old again and I'm praising God on Facebook because he let us sleep through the night, only this time it isn't Owen, it's a fully grown man with insanely heavy feet and what seemed to be a terrible case of insomnia.

I know I started off saying the Elephant Man wasn't so bad considering, but at some point shortly after my original post he began to get progressively worse each night. What was he doing? Oh, you know, running laps that started just above our heads in the bedroom, progressed down the hall, through the dining room, around the living room, through the kitchen, back up the hall and then around the bedroom about 40 times. This went on ALL NIGHT LONG from 11 PM to 6:30 AM when the dude finally left for what must be a 5 hour stint at work because he'd come home at noon each day and start all over again. There were days when my computer monitor shook from the ruckus going on upstairs.

We were visiting the leasing office an average of once a week to beg for help. They weren't helping. In fact, it seemed to be making matters even worse. We were starting to break, our fuses had run out, and just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, the constant noises started waking Owen in the middle of the night too. What's worse than two grown adults not getting enough sleep? A toddler not getting enough sleep. Twelve days ago, I was pretty sure we would all kill each other.

Then it stopped. Suddenly it sounded like a herd of elephants had moved out and a perfectly normal, perhaps even respectful family moved in, complete with the little pitter patter of toddler feet. No one moved in or out of the building as far as I know, but I'll be damned if all I hear is the occasional creaking of floor boards and not a single heel falling heavily above my head. All of the crashing and door slamming has stopped during the day as well.

I've got my fingers crossed and hopes held high for this to be a permanent change. I worry the Elephant Man has only gone on vacation and could return at any moment. For mine and my family's sake, I really hope that isn't the case. It would be really super awesome to never use the Elephant Man label on another blog post for the rest of my life.

I walked down to the leasing office this afternoon and for the first time in a long time it wasn't to file a complaint. I thanked them instead for finally helping me get a full night's sleep.

Monday, September 26, 2011

His father's son

I know all of the parenting gurus and "mommies who know best" say you shouldn't let a child under the age of 2 watch any television, but this is one rule we break that I have absolutely no guilt for breaking. Our television is by no means a babysitter. We still do plenty of indoor and outdoor activities together. We just also enjoy watching morning cartoons with our waffles and the occasional Saturday afternoon movie. And even though I was never a huge fan of Star Wars growing up, I'm strangely tickled pink that Owen shares a curious interest in one of his daddy's favorite past times.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How I know I've reached hermit status

With 12 days left in my cell phone billing cycle:

Anytime minutes: 1 of 450 used

Night & weekend minutes: 17 of 5000 used

Rollover minutes: 0 of 740 used

Text messages: 75 of 1000 used

Days blogged in September: 10 of the last 17

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thirty six

Today would have been Rick's 36th birthday and all I can think is how in just a few short years us younger siblings will begin to surpass him in age. That's just not how it's supposed to be. Women aren't supposed to be widowed in their early 30s. 13-year-old girls aren't supposed to cry themselves to sleep because they miss their father. 5-year-old boys aren't supposed to look at the sky when they talk to their Daddy. Fathers aren't supposed to feel guilty for surviving 3 heart attacks. Mothers aren't supposed to look back on a miraculous birth and feel so much pain in their heart because the life they brought in to this world was taken away unexpectedly.

It's been over a year and I still cry often, usually close to important days, but it's not usually for my loss. It's for them. As a sister I miss my brother, but as a wife, a child, and a parent, my heart is broken for everyone whose lives were effected on a whole different level from mine. My loss can never compare to what they must experience on birthdays, anniversaries, or even the first day of school.

They say time heals all wounds but losing a loved one at 34 surely leaves a few big, gaping scars.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Traveling Baltimore, Part 2: Inner Harbor & Hampden

Where were we? Oh, yes! Baltimore's Inner Harbor actually took me by surprise. I guess I was expecting something similar to Downtown Cleveland -- tall buildings, lots of water, and an empty pier or two -- but I got so much more from Baltimore. The harbor is not only beautiful, but it's also very functional. They have shopping malls, restaurants, museums, fountains, Camden Yards Stadium, water taxis, paddle boats and an abundance of free attractions and street artists to gawk at. Perhaps the most memorable moment of our trip was when I started whining about my camera malfunctioning and Jon assuring me it was no big deal, we could just take pictures another time, and just when I was about to mouth off by asking how that was possible I remembered, dude, we live here and I can come down here whenever I want! That realization almost took my breath away. This is our home. Owen will grow up surrounded by this place. I kinda like that idea.

Right next door to the National Aquarium is this really cool building built as a power plant in 1900 and renovated in 2000. It now houses the awesome combination of a Barnes and Noble and a Hard Rock Cafe as well dozens of other small shops and restaurants:

Here is a view of the aquarium from across the harbor.

A view of Federal Hill and the boats docked in front. I didn't notice them at the time, but somehow I caught what appears to be a very sweet moment between two people under the light post.

Standing on the Inner Harbor looking back at Downtown Baltimore. Check out all of the people -- there is so much life here.

This is only one of the many ships and submarines permanently docked in the harbor. Some of them have even been turned into museums.

A fountain!! I've only seen these things in movies...

You know I immediately ripped off his shoes and stuck him in the water.

He wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but just after I snapped this photo a huge smile spread across his face.

Then he ran off and I couldn't ignore the adorable foot prints her left behind.

We stopped by a frozen custard stand and got ourselves some refreshments before leaving for the day.

The original plan was to head home then as it was nearly 5:00 and the closest thing Owen had to a nap was the car ride between Bob Evans and Charm City Cakes, but then I had the most wonderful idea: Hampdenfest!! Hampden is this really awesome, eclectic neighborhood not far from downtown. If you're relatively familiar with the Cleveland area think Coventry Road but spanning many blocks in each direction, without the commercial establishments of BD's Mongolian Barbecue and Chipotle, and instead of cramped apartment buildings it is street after street of attractive row houses. Basically, it's lots of cool, locally owned store fronts selling everything from soaps to pink feather boas to sports memorabilia to coffee scones and Hampdenfest is just a fun way for all of the vendors to get together and setup a sidewalk sale of sorts but with live music, hula hoops, skate board ramps, and a toilet bowl race. I also took this opportunity to have my very first crab soft pretzel. Yep, sounds questionable, but it was quite delicious.

Entering Hampdenfest:

Just in case you managed to miss the men in capes and strange hats racing down hill on toilets with wheels, the race is this way:

What was that I said in my earlier post? Oh, that's right! It isn't Baltimore without a little crab, and it's even better when mixed with football:

This photo of Cafe Hon captures two things very Baltimore: the pink flamingo and the expression "Hon". Hampden is sometimes referred to as Hontown as this term of endearment is used by everyone.

Let it be known that I hate SpongeBob and refuse to let Owen watch the show but there's something about the annoying character that attracts Owen and I couldn't refuse letting him have a balloon. Besides, the balloon bought us enough time to have another beer and catch another song or two despite the little one's lack of a nap. It's been over a week and I still can't get over how well behaved he was that whole day!

And that's it for this trip, folks! We have high expectations for this fall as we still hope to visit Washington, Philadelphia, and NYC although I'm thinking a trip to New York might be more exciting during the holidays, but we'll see. It makes me smile to remember I was 11 years old before leaving Ohio for the first time and Owen's got me beat by almost as many years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Retail Therapy

This evening I...

picked up Owen from day care...

came home and fed everyone dinner...

loaded the dish washer...

put on mascara and my coat and told Jon I was leaving...

I was going to blow. I could feel it, but I couldn't explain it. Everything Jon was doing was annoying me, and everything Owen was doing was even worse.  I haven't been sleeping well and Jon has been working late every evening and Owen, well, he's doing some SERIOUS teething and boundary testing and I can't keep him happy for nothing. Add to that the fact that I rarely get out of the house for more than picking up Owen, walking the dog, or a little grocery shopping and I was feeling cornered into a never-ending bad situation. See what I mean? BAD MOOD.

So I went exploring again only this time I dared myself not to turn on the GPS...

and I found my way to Timonium...

and I found an Old Navy...

and I found a plaid pea coat in the exact fit and color I've been wanting for a very long time...

and now I have a little chunk of plaid and wool happiness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gift from Vegas

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr."

If you don't follow Big Bang Theory this probably looks like a really corny t-shirt, but if you're a fellow geek, then you know just how awesome my husband is for bringing it home for me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Because I'm feeling very juvenile

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I met a new friend. Her name is Martha and she's from Minnesota. She has a very cute dog named Poppy. Poppy and Jack get along really well! We made plans to get together tonight so the dogs could have a play date. It was a lot of fun! Poppy and Jack chased each other through the yard while Martha and I got to know each other. Martha's neighbors don't keep her awake at night. Then Martha's friend Mary came out to talk to us. Mary is very nice, too. She brought her dogs Percy and Patterson. Patterson and Jack fought over a tennis ball the whole time. All of our dogs are the same colors. I think we'll be best friends 4 ever!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Traveling Baltimore, Part 1: The Aquarium

Quoted from Baltimore's 5:30 newscast on Friday 9/9/11: "Both Washington, DC and New York City have been threatened with terrorist attacks and Baltimore is right in the middle of them! Stay tuned to see what measures have been taken to keep our city safe this weekend."

I'll be the first to admit that most Cleveland news channels are over the top dramatic in an effort to boost their ratings, but somehow Baltimore manages to take it to a whole new level. Is Baltimore between Washington and New York? Absolutely, but so are 230 miles worth of other cities including Philadelphia and the entire state of New Jersey.

Nevertheless, this newscast and the recommendation of a few friends and family made us change our plans about heading to Washington this weekend for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I thought it would be touching to attend the memorials that are planned but as a mother it also felt a little risky. So, we opted to head out early Saturday morning and explore our own city instead. And I'm so glad we did because it was a spectacular day and a reassuring reminder of just how lucky we were to end up here because this place is's very US. I don't even know how else to describe it.

We started off at Bob Evan's for breakfast:

Owen endlessly flirted with our waitress and kept stealing food from my plate. He said thank you or "dank du" to EVERYTHING. He was so charming, in fact, that they decided to take his meal off of the bill and give us coupons for free meals next time. With a face like this (his, not mine) and a pleasant mood, I often find it hard not to give the boy his every wish.

Next, we set out for Baltimore's Inner Harbor but first we made a slight detour at the special request of our Aunt Char and swung by Charm City Cakes, a cake shop so awesome it was worthy of 10 seasons of reality television on Ace of Cakes.

Let me apologize for the quality of this photo in advance. You can probably tell it was taken from the inside of our car, and well, that's because the area was a fun mix of row houses and small corner shops but it looked a little....rough, and I was too much of a candy ass to get out of the car alone and start snapping pictures.

Questionable neighborhood or not, these guys are rock stars when it comes to cakes.  And just when I thought I'd have to start up a new savings account to one day TASTE one of their cakes I read that they've released a line of affordable cake pops! Fabulous!

Next up, the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor and I'm here to tell you that the National Aquarium is like ten thousand gallons of awesomesauce! So much so that we opted to splurge and become members for a year as opposed to buying a one day pass. I mean, Owen isn't even 2 years old and he couldn't get enough of it. It's like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for all things aquatic. The first exhibit you see is the giant sting ray pool which remains visible through most of the aquarium. They have everything from tiny minnows to massive whale fossils, and a rooftop rainforest. My favorite was probably the giant pink octopus. I cannot recommend it enough if you are ever in the Baltimore area, or even if you're not in the area and want to make plans to crash on our couch after a long day at the aquarium we're totally cool with that, too.

Again, I must apologize as my photos do not even begin to do this place justice. I was focused more on paying attention to and capturing Owen as opposed to the exhibits because, you know, we can go back anytime, but Owen's first impression can only happen once.

The view of the aquarium from Pratt Street:

The  35 foot waterfall that greets you at the entrance:

This was Owen's first face -to-face encounter with fish that day and it introduced his theme for the day-- lots of pointing and shouting "WOAH!":

Crossing one of the horizontal escalators and looking down on the ray pool which was by far Owen's favorite exhibit:

The rooftop rainforest which also offered  great views of Downtown Baltimore and the harbor:

Owen and Jon walking through the multi-level shark tank. Owen was equally freaked out by and fascinated with sharks. He wouldn't let go of Daddy's hand:

The dolphin show! I will never forget the look on Owen's face when he heard the dolphins "speak" for the first time and realized a dolphin sounds an awful lot like the squeaky noise he makes every time he sees a monkey. Needless to say, he now makes it whenever he sees a dolphin as well:

Our last stop at the aquarium was the jellyfish exhibit which was kept dark to show off how bright a jellyfish actually is. This is the last photo I managed to take before the battery died on my camera:

And just for kicks, Owen and Jon inside the massive jaws of a shark:

And it isn't Baltimore if there isn't a little crab:

Our next destination was traveling Baltimore's Inner Harbor just outside of the aquarium, and despite having a dead camera I did manage to get some really fun photos with my iPhone. So many, in fact, that this is going to have to be a two part blog.

Stay tuned to see why it's so easy to fall in love with this city!

Friday, September 9, 2011

As long as I'm living my baby you'll be

When Owen was only a few weeks old and I was desperate for even one solid hour of sleep I remember scouring every piece of new parenting literature I could find for some sure fire way to get him on a sleep schedule. I laugh at that now because I know you can't get a newborn on a schedule. You survive on shots of 5-Hour Energy and chocolate chip granola bars, but I was new to parenting and I was naive and would not learn this until much later.

I did eventually find a routine after roughly 3 months of cohabiting with my munchkin. I learned it was easiest when I started the evening with him in a warm bath, followed by changing into warm and fuzzy footy pajamas (he was a winter baby after all), and a bedtime story, usually a book called Love You Forever. I would then give him his last bottle of the evening and sing him three songs: Hush Little Baby, You are my Sunshine, and Rock-a-bye Baby while I slowly rocked him to sleep. The whole process took nearly two hours, most of which was spent on rocking him to sleep because God forbid if I were to lay him down while still even the teeny tiniest bit awake. If Mama made that mistake she was looking at another 30 or so minutes of rocking, easy.

Anyway, the routine was very time consuming but it worked and at 3 months we were ALL sleeping like a baby through the night, so I tried not to complain too much.

But then...THEN my dumb ass kept searching for parenting tips on the internet and came across this snippet of advice: Whatever bedtime routine you choose for your baby now, be prepared to follow for the next 2 years.

I freaked out. Two years? I was going to lose 2 hours of my life EVERY NIGHT for the the next TWO YEARS?! I wanted to punch myself in the face. This was just one more thing on a very long list of things that I had totally done wrong as a parent. And Owen was only 3 months old. My parenting skills = EPIC FAIL.

Or so I thought then...

Fast forward 15 months. Owen is now 1.5 years old and we still have a very solid bedtime routine to follow. We have bath time only it's not so much about getting clean as it is wearing him out with toy fishes and boats that float around him, lots of stacking cups that he uses to pour water from one to the other, and a crazy bubble machine that sings and lights up.

Bath time is followed by changing into our pajamas and giving Daddy a hug and kiss good night. I love this part because Owen doesn't hug with his arms so much as by laying his head on you and in this case, he's usually burying his face in Jon's thigh (because we're all usually standing at hug time) and then Owen very gingerly reaches out for my hand and we walk to his bedroom.

Sometimes we read a story, but I've quickly learned that life as an 18 month old must be very tiring and there can be mere minutes between sweet, tired little boy and his evil screaming twin so we read a bedtime story when we can but try not to push it.

The nighttime bottle has graduated to a sippy cup of water that he only sips occasionally while sitting in my lap all snuggled in his favorite polka dotted blanket. Owen is too big to cradle anymore. Instead, he sits in my lap with his little legs dangling over the side of the chair, lays his head against my chest and hums along with me as I sing our three favorite bedtime songs. Sometimes we talk afterward -- I tell him how much I love him, and he points to my eyes, nose, and mouth and waits for me to name them all -- but he quickly grows tired and starts pushing against me as if to say, "Yo, Mom, I'm done with this whole bedtime prep thing. Just put me in my crib already!" That's when I finally put him down for the evening. He snuggles deeper into his blanket and rolls over to his side. His eyes aren't even closed by the time I walk out, closing the door behind me, but we don't usually hear from him again until morning.

Our nighttime routine now takes less than 30 minutes and I still want to punch myself in the face....but only for ever thinking that time spent with this precious little boy is time lost. 1.5 years of mothering under my belt and I'm finally realizing just how fast he's growing up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Deciphering Kate

Thoughtful Kate wants to put life on hold, leash up the dog, and walk forever. She doesn't care where she's going or where she's been so long as she can stay lost in her head and mentally write blog entries. The dog serves as her excuse to be out, a quiet companion, and her eyes since she isn't paying much attention to her surroundings. Her feet work as a mode of transportation and a crank for her internal monologue. She is most content on cold, rainy nights without an umbrella because wet, stringy hair and feet dyed black from her flip flops make her feel all emo and emo writes good blogs.

Tired Kate wants to march up a flight of stairs, pound on the Elephant Man's door, bitch slap him a few times, knock him to floor, and then slowly and painfully claw out his eyes all while a disturbing, maniacal laugh escapes from the back of her throat. She hasn't had a solid nights sleep since moving here because the Elephant Man doesn't give a shit about waking his polite neighbors at 1:00, 2:00, even 3:00 in the morning. She has complained to the office, pounded on the ceiling, screamed at the top of her lungs in a desperate plea for sleep but the asshole must think it's funny because he only gets more obnoxious. Tired Kate doesn't know how much patience she has left and may very well be featured on the next segment of Baltimore's Most Wanted. She makes no guarantees.

Wallowing Kate has an overwhelming urge to lose herself in bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, Little Debbie's Fudge Rounds, and entire seasons of One Tree Hill. She wants to wrap herself in self pity, fill her insides with high fructose corn syrup, become grotesquely obese, and spend her evenings whining about how the kids on Tree Hill have everything she wants but can never have because she's too fat and ugly and socially awkward. No, she doesn't make a whole lot of sense, she may even lack a single rational bone in her body, but she is one extremely overwhelming pain in the ass.

Lonely Kate is always reminded of something a friend told her a long time ago: "I moved so far away because I was trying to run away from my problems, but what I didn't realize was my problems were in my head, and they followed me all the way out there." Despite this very valuable advice given long before-hand, Lonely Kate moved to Baltimore in the hopes of reinventing herself and is failing, obviously. She wants friends. She wants to meet people. She wants her own "bestie", but she can't figure out how to exchange more than pleasant hellos while out walking the dog. She stupidly thought this was one Ohio problem that could magically fix itself in Maryland, but she was wrong. She recently started trolling this website: and is actively seeking a babysitter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10 Things I Love About Working From Home

1. Quality time with Owen every morning watching cartoons and eating buttermilk waffles.

2. Jack sleeping at my feet while I work and then crawling out from under the desk at 11:59 and stretching in preparation for the daily lunch time walk.

3. Dress code = sweat pants, t-shirt and messy ponytail.

4. Non-stop Pandora radio.

5. The fastest, most convenient food is located IN MY KITCHEN and not some questionable and equally addictive burger joint around the corner.

6. MY OWN BATHROOM . 'Nuff said.

7. Beverly Hills 90210 re-runs on my lunch hour.

8. One tank of gas lasts nearly 2 months.

9. Dinner is often ready before one hungry little monster and his big, hungry father arrive home. This convenience alone makes for some very peaceful evenings.

10. This office space! Working in a space that is created by and for yourself makes a world of difference.

Road Trip Conversations to Remember

Jon: "I could really go for a tropical drink when we get home."

Katie: "Ooooh! Like a piƱa colada?"

Jon: "No, no pine cones! I don't like pine cones in my drinks."

Katie: "......I think you mean coconut?"