Tuesday, February 26, 2013


When's the last time you went swimming outdoors in February (while remaining in the continental US)? 

My brother and his girlfriend came to stay with us this week. They came in on Wednesday and I dropped them off at the airport an hour earlier than I usually wake up this morning. It was fun to have them around, and Mia especially loved having some new people to entertain with her party tricks. The highlight of their time here was an overnight trip to Palm Springs. We left early Friday morning and left on Saturday afternoon. It was about 36 hours of vacation, which was both too short but also the perfect amount of time to be completely refreshed.

I would go into more detail about the trip, but I realize that all we really did was

1) eat:

(and drink)

this is the only decent picture of the three of us, and it is... not decent.
2) lounge by the pool:

3) Eat some more. (not pictured)

4) Drive through the desert:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Secret Life of Dogs

One of the most common first steps in a tending-towards-serious-relationship is the aquisition of a common pet, most often after moving in together, but before marriage. Or, after marriage as a band-aid on the kids question.

For B and I, it was after moving in together, a couple months before our engagement. It was a natural step. We both loved dogs, we both grew up in houses with two dogs. I already had Chloe, my cranky beagle. [She is doing absolutely great, by the way. When we moved into the new house, we also moved far away from our Vet, so we went a couple weeks without refilling her meds, and lo, she regained so much energy and spunk, we decided the meds were doing more harm than good, so she's off them and doing swimmingly. We may inadvertently be shortening her life span, but honestly, her life is 150% better now than it was while she was on her meds, so there's a lot to be said there.]

Even while I was pregnant, the dogs I doted on took a big backseat. Towards the last few months of my pregnancy, I banned them from the couch, then once Mia was born, I banned them from the living room area all together, and now, in the new house, they are banned from the upstairs completely, and no longer sleep in the same room as we do. I am pretty sure I used to call Swarley my little baby, and now, he is definitely down-graded to the status of pet. I think it's allowed, and inevitable for any new parent. I may be worse than others with this, and I do think I am going to come around and include them in my evening couch-time again, once my baby no longer wants to sit next to or on top of me at all times during her waking hours. At least I hope so, for my poor Swarley's sake. Usually, his sad little face when I turn down his offer of couch-snuggling makes me feel awfully guilty. But, not yesterday, since I came home to this:

 Mia learns to say "Oh my God!" and continuously repeated it throughout the clean up process. It took: a broom, a vacuum, and a swiffer wet jet to clean this up. Not a job to just leave to my Roomba. 

The flour was not limited to the kitchen, as you may imagine, since they trekked the flour on their little grubby paws. It was on the living room rug, the entrance rug, and of course, in the backyard.

Snout covered in flour paste, GUILTY AS CHARGED.

Please explain to me what it is a dog might find appealing about tearing apart and eating a big bag of flour? Of course, this is a-typical. They are generally lovely dogs and our household is totally manageable, normally. But last night, I cursed the day we decided to add a second dog to our brood. Whenever it is that Chloe kicks the bucket (Answer: never. She is the most fiery beagle of all time and will never leave us.) a second dog will not be added to this family again until ALL THE CHILDREN are made and grown and wipe their own butts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Vegas food, for real*.

* or about as Vegas as this 29-year-old-Mom gets.

Two of my very best high school friends visited Vegas this weekend with their significant others. I've been looking forward to this weekend for weeks, knowing that we had enlisted our childless friends to take Mia (and who Mia loves, though mostly she loves their cat) for Saturday night. We exchanged quite a few emails planning things out, and in the end, it was a weekend that went by in the blink of an eye, though much fun was had.

To kick things off, Mia and I ventured to the Strip on a beautiful 65 degree day to have lunch and hang out. We had lunch at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Ceasars Palace. It was brunch, so they brought out the most delightful bread basket I've ever tasted. Scones with nuts and unidentifiable dried fruit, corn bread muffins with chunks of corn and black beans and jalapenos, a spicy cheese mini-biscuit that was insanely delicious, and some blueberry coffee cake which Mia ate three slices of. Next up, a pork tenderloin sandwich with southwestern fries. I have no idea what was on the tenderloin, but it was amazing. Mia highly approved of the southwestern fries, and didn't even blink at the spice. On the table was also a very delicious looking lamb Cobb salad. When it comes to Strip restaurants, I'm always pretty hesitate to dine-in somewhere a bit more upscale with my lively toddler, but they were actually very friendly and accommodating. The hostess took my stroller into what looked like a coat-room for me, and we got very few dirty looks. So, Mesa Grill at Ceasars. Thumbs up for food, and thumbs up for toddler-friendly, though I wouldn't push it for dinner.

waiting patiently for our table. Patient only thanks to the raisins.

A quick trip back to our little suburban neighborhood for a costume change (for me), a husband to pick up and a baby drop off, and we were back to playing tourists at the Cosmopolitan. We had dinner and drinks at Jose Andres' Jaleo, a Spanish Tapas restaurant. B and I shared a carafe of Sangria, some chorizo wrapped in potato, bread with tomato puree and Serrano ham, chicken foie gras covered in melted cheese that basically looked like very upscale enchiladas, shrimp and dessert. I also sampled some fried squid ink paste off someone else's plate, and I have to admit that was probably the best thing on the table that night. It was also delicious, though I will admit to having higher expectations, both because it was in the Cosmopolitan and because it was pretty high-priced. The Sangria, though, did not disappoint one bit. 

at the Bellagio's Chinese New Year display

Later, we headed to a lounge in the Cosmopolitan's lobby called Vespers. Their specialty is old-fashioned speakeasy-type drinks, and I had a Moscow Mule, followed by a cocktail called "One Night in Bangkok", which had coconut milk, lime rind and egg whites in it, and was better than it sounds. I definitely recommend this bar to anyone in Vegas who wants a place to sit down with your drinks and hear your neighbor talking. Also, a great place to people watch. I was highly distracted by many "Las Vegas Outfits", meaning dresses and shoes these girls would never wear back home.

Our last Vegas meal was off-strip, but most likely my favorite of all. We went to an unassuming Italian Restaurant called "Parma" which is in a strip mall and looks like a small deli from the window. Our food was delicious, fresh Italian food with homemade pasta noodles (Mia also very much approves of this, and I'm sure her daycare friends will be very jealous when she finds that she has the leftovers of her meal in her lunchbox today). I had the linguine with red clam sauce, and B had the biggest chicken parm I've ever seen. This one will definitely stay on our go-to list whenever we have special occasions or out of town-ers. 

It was a weekend completely void of the South Beat Diet's rules, and though I did not step on the scale this morning, I found that I was actually looking forward to the salad I had planned for today's lunch. We had a great time, and it awesome to feel like tourists in our own town. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Should Be Bald

I swear that with all the stress lately, I should be completely, 100% bald.  So much, there's just so much.  Sorry for my much extended absence.  This is obviously Frenchie's blog now and I'm a guest writer occasionally.  But, lucky you, lucky lucky you, my goal for lent is to write twice a week here at least.  May be long, may be short.  But it should be good, at least for me, because I have things to get off my shoulders.  NOT that I want every entry to be heavy, you wonderful women don't deserve that.  (Though on the absolute worst days some might be more serious than joking.)  But part of this is writing as an escape.  Writing about random happenings and off-the-top of my head thoughts so that I can dull the volume of the rest of the world around me if only for 30-60 minutes.

Just a [not so] brief listing to give you an idea of that loud world around me:

  • Tybalt is 2.5 and not talking yet.  We have started seeing a speech therapist and developmental specialists.  All say he is very smart, quick, and either on par or advanced in ever other aspect.  But speech is a problem that needs to be dealt with.  1) I worry about my little boy.  2) I feel like the worst mom in the world.  Only Frenchie and B, and our fellow best friends J&D (see "host" and "host's wife" in entries such as when Terror almost sets the house on fire) who are Tybalt's Godparents are aware of this.  A friend posted something on Facebook the other day that made me think:  She basically said, "Why is it when you child can't/won't do the one thing they should and every other kid around them their age and developmental level can, the biggest dose of mother guilt sets in and you feel like the worst mother ever?"  I know I love my son and give him practically every opportunity we can.  I know he's very smart in general.  So why the frick is he not speaking?  And why can't I shake the feeling that it is somehow my fault?
  • My lawsuit against the medical facility we are claiming was allegedly negligent in my care, resulting in a Stage IV bedsore and permanent damage, is coming along.  (I don't actually know how much I can say.)  I don't know how much progress, that's like OZ behind the curtain, but I did my deposition last July and am waiting to probably be called in again, and Romeo and his mom were deposed this week.  I know that this blog is a member of a MILP line-up.  You are all probably thinking that depositions and trials (if no settlement is reached first, my tentative first day of court is in November) should be the least of my worries.  Well, what can I say?  I don't deal with any of this regularly on a daily basis.  And while I knew in deciding to pursue this case it would get difficult, as the plaintiff I had NO real, actual, serious idea of the nerves, the jump my heart makes from chest to stomach every time my lawyer's phone number appears on my caller ID with a new update or question.
  • We are buying a house.  Fantastic!  Great!  It's about time!  And we got pre-approved for like $50 grand more than we want to spend because we know how we prefer to budget our money.  So that put us in a particular bracket of housing, that in Las Vegas, is low on inventory because cash investors are buying them all up.  Doesn't matter if a good, hard working family like ours will ever get to live in one.  The investors just want them for business.  So shopping and finding something we wanted was more rough than we thought it would be.  But we couldn't wait any longer.  Home prices in Las Vegas have gone up something like 20% since January 2012, and continue to rise.  That, plus the reduced inventory means you have to view houses in the morning and make bids by the afternoon.  We finally got a bid accepted.  We are OVERJOYED!  I should correct that--Romeo is.  I am oh, let's just say "cautiously optimistic "  For once, I sincerely want to be overjoyed!  I want to be throwing items in boxes willy nilly and doing my own silly version of some victory end-zone touchdown dance.  Finally, I will be living in a place that doesn't have an apartment, suite, or dorm number!  For me, a 28 year-old coming straight off of that, it is huge and a dream come true.  Even if it sounds odd or petty to anyone else.  Guess I should throw out an apology just in case.  We are currently in escrow.  I know very few close friends who have bought a house, so I don't know if it's urban legend or what, but I've heard of multiple cases where people enter escrow and then never close escrow and get the house.  If any of you readers know why, can you help?  My only gut feelings would be that these stories are before the big economical crash, so people were being pre-approved quickly for mortgages and entering escrow just to find out that the lender didn't approve them properly or at all and thus the money is not there.  Or, that the families never bothered going through the pre-approval process, started to shop for houses, found one they fell in love with, tried to secure approval on a mortgage then, and didn't qualify.  Am I right on any of these situations?  What are some other reasons escrows fail and never close?  Anybody know?  At least in our situation, none of that should be the case.  We have hit at least one major road block (keep reading) but we are completely pre-approved for our mortgage loan by a woman who has such a positive reputation in town that both realtors we have worked with have individually told us that in this day and age they don't take on "just any old clients. But if Mrs. _____ _______ has pre-approved you, you're good to go.  In my 20+ years (or 30+ years for realtor #1) she has never given me a couple/family pre-approved who wasn't good for it.  If she pre-approves you, you're gold to work with.  You are basically approved already."  This should all comfort me, right?  Yeah, hello Ms. Pessimistic  My Name is Juliet.  Welcome back, I hear you'll be checking in and staying for a while.
  • On the house front--close of escrow was predicted by February 28th.  We are purchasing a foreclosed home which means Fannie Mae (Government) is the owner.  And they contract with a local Title Company to do their "bidding" here in town.  Well, after over a week with no updates from our realtor or our lender, we found out the title company was dragging their feet because they were hoping no one would find out a clerical mistake had occurred and the title was TECHNICALLY not in Fannie Mae's name yet.  Please cover the eyes and ears of any children nearby--WHAT THE FFFFFFFFFFFFF? You're selling us a home (you've been sending your own hired maintenance crew for raking and mowing, etc that I already met out there one day, so you think you own it as much as we do) but anyway  you're selling us a home, that TECHNICALLY you don't own yet?  Knock me unconscious people, just do it, I can't take the stress.  But at least that was supposed to be done by Monday the 11th.  Putting us only about 2 weeks behind and making a February 28 closing date (or at least real close to it) still completely possible.  Tuesday the 12th comes and our realtor (lovely man, seriously, but by now his Irish blood is boiling and I think he's resisting the urge to tip some cows, lol) still hasn't heard back and now must call and ream someone out to get an answer.  The answer?  They never could have had it resolved by the 11th, they were blowing smoke up his angry butt to get him off their backs.  Apparently there is a trash lien on the house.  Yes, either the former owner, or Fannie Mae as they have been tending it, hasn't paid so many trash fees that the City WILL NOT release the title to Fannie Mae until it is paid in full.  More government interference, which means more time.  Which means forget getting out of here and moving by Feb/March.
  • Two Huge Fears on top of all these others: First) if this trash lien has been out there for so long and the Title Company dropped the ball in paying it to clear the title and get it fair and square in Fannie Mae's name in order to sell this house (which has been on market since mid 2012--quite long for this Las Vegas Market)  and has just been sitting back playing computer games all day and hoping no one got the wiser, what else have they screwed up on, overlooked, etc., and are just waiting to see that they can't cover their own asses over anymore?  How many more things will arise? Secondly) What was their ultimate plan?  They couldn't keep quiet regarding a trash lien (or anything else that might come up, AND PLEASE I BEG YOU ALL TO PRAY NOTHING ELSE DOES) forever.  Like I said, the house is a foreclosure   It is the Title Company's job to be Fannie Mae's local eyes and ears.  And if it wasn't us showing interest, putting down earnest money, getting our offer accepted, and signing a contract, it would have been some other family a week or two later.  Did they really think things such as this would never get discovered?  Come on now, it just doesn't even make sense.
  • Oh, and on top of that, seeing we have to be in our apartment longer, the management is charging us $400 extra for March and then prorated based on that exorbitant rate for April 1-14.  But we signed a 60 day notice, so as far as getting through escrow without anymore bumps, bruises, and scrapes, and for hopefully convincing the apartment management to stop trying to milk an already dry cow (the extra money is just not there) prayers, chants, meditations and crossed fingers--WOULD ALL BE GREATLY HELPFUL LADIES!  Thanks.
  • And my relocating parents, Lady C and Lord C?  They spent 4 days here in sunny, chilly, but definitely not frigid (70 here compared to 10 degrees when boarding in Chi-town) to look at apartments two weeks ago.  After Las Vegas they were on to Salt Lake City, which is 45 minutes from my sister and brother-in-law.  My gut had been saying they were going to choose UT.  I was actually fine with it.  A little sting feeling like it meant choosing her over me, but I forced past that juvenile thinking.  And focused on how UT means more family time, more bonding time for them and Tybalt, yet no doorbell rings and *poof!* there they are on my front stoop, no "The car broke down, can you come jump me 45 minutes away?" no "What do you MEAN you're spending this Sunday with Romeo's mom.  We want you here!"  Well, guess what, they are now apparently 99.9% sure they have chosen Las Vegas.  That unreliable gut of mine.

Sigh, its 3:41, and you know me, re-reading and editing my own work will take me until 4am. *Note, yep, it's 5:19am now, oh how off I was on that one, lol.*

Oh, one thing I forgot is an answer to my anniversary conundrum back in October.  Our solution is in the final comment I left.  Not bad, but still room for improvement, which I feel should be the soundtrack to my life right now.  Hmm, I wonder who I'd get to sing it--I do like Kelly Clarkson. ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

House of Cards ... and Hair.

Have you guys watched House of Cards yet? It's the new Netflix-produced series that is now available on Netflix streaming. I'm not sure whether there are other places you can watch it. Well, if you haven't, you probably should. Because it's actually really awesome.

Kevin Spacey plays a Congressman who is also the House Majority Whip, and political drama and intrigue ensues. It's exactly B's style of television show, and I am generally a sucker for a good dramatic television of any kind. We started watching it this weekend, and we only have two episodes left to go. When we first heard that Netflix was producing its own series, we weren't sure whether they would release all the episodes at once, or if they might actually try to be more like a television network, releasing a new episode every week. They did release all of them at once, embracing what is most awesome about watching television episodes on Netflix (aka, allowing us viewers to stream episodes non-stop, schedule permitting). All the characters are so driven by their own desire for power, it's one of those shows that don't make you feel bad about your own moderate success (unlike my feeling of overall inadequacy when watching the first season of Girls).

More importantly, can I pull off Robin Wright's hair? (I've been considering a major hair change. B is not convinced, but men always like long hair so I don't take his opinion too seriously.)

Photos courtesy of Robin Wright's Facebook Page
Here is the other option I am considering:

Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Lastly, for ease of input, here is what my hair looks like right now, in a not-flattering photo I've taken in the middle of this writing blog post.
Would it have killed me to put on some lip goss before snapping this pic, and maybe smiling a bit? The answer is YES.

In other Netflix related news, here are some other programs that have been streamed on the weekends:

World Without End, based on Ken Follett's novel, and a pseudo-sequel to his Pillars of the Earth. Excellent, if you're into period stories. B was not a big fan, but I secretly like that so that I have something to stream while he is at work on Saturdays.

American Horror Story, Season 1. I got on the American Horror Story bandwagon way too late this year. I noticed it on Netflix and watched the entire first season over the span of a couple of weeks, but by that time, it was already way too close to the Season 2 finale to catch up. I'm [im]patiently waiting for the "new episodes" icon to pop up on my screen so that I can catch up.

We've tried Breaking Bad, and it has surprised me how difficult it's been for me to get sucked in. I'm usually pretty easy to engage, but we've watched two episodes without feeling the need to go any further into the series. I'm not one to miss out on something everyone seems to like, but I'm not convinced on this one. What else do I need to add to my instant queue? And also, seriously, tell me what you think I should do with my hair. I am not afraid.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Behind the scenes

Our life, save the financial trouble caused by late paychecks, has been pretty dandy for the past few months. New house, weight loss successes, good weekends are probably to thank for our overall decent moods. We are happy, we get along, we laugh. This morning, before leaving for work and for no apparent reason, B and I had a sometimes-screaming fight.

Bloggers (or Facebookers, Instragrammers, or Tweeters) don't usually document these moments in their lives. We get snippets, moments that people want to share with their friends and families. We are told that every couple fights. Fighting is normal! But you never really know, do you? Except for those rare and awkward moments when you get a small glimpse into someone's real domestic life when your sister in law snaps at her husband in front of you, there isn't the opportunity to find out what a "happy" couple's fights look like. So, in the interest of being candid, here is our latest.

B has the day off. He had to take Mia to the pediatrician for a follow up appointment to make sure the month-long strep/ear infection/scarlett fever had gone away completely. I had to get myself ready for work. This small break in our routine apparently set things in motion making both of us irrationally angry with one another. Having a kid makes a household of two working parents and a baby who attends daycare desperately in need of a routine, and this is something we rely on heavily to get us all out to our respective locations as necessary. This morning, my train of thought was that since he was off, he'd take over all the Mia duties. And his train of thought was that since he had to leave the house at roughly the same time, I would keep my routine exactly as normal to get Mia ready in time. The smallest lack of communication is almost always the culprit in our house.

Instead of simply saying, "Honey, are you good to get Mia ready before the Doctor?", or him "Honey, will you be able to get Mia ready for the Doctor?", we both just assume the other is okay with what is going on in the other person's head, and phrases like "Mia is almost 2. How do you not know what goes in her lunch?" or "Are you just sitting and watching the Today Show instead of getting ready for work?" get thrown around. Even worse, our morning at home ends with "I hope you do NOT enjoy your day off", and "You'll be really sorry if I get in a car accident".

Followed of course with some "I'm sorry, I overreacted." text messages about 20 minutes later.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Weight-loss milestone #1

15 lbs down, 36 days in.

As of this morning, I weighed the exact amount I weighed on the day I found out I was pregnant. I specifically weighed myself a few moments after seeing the double lines wanting to keep track of how much I gained for the next 9 months. In the end, I gained just around 25 lbs.

So, stepping on the scale this morning, only two days after the indulgence of our mini superbowl party, I was pretty proud of myself and continue to be. I did try my fancy designer jeans on, but those do not fit yet. (Like, not even close. My ass and thighs being the main culprits) Though the number is there, I suppose the weight is still distributed differently. I'm OK with that, I did grow a human, after all. I'm sure those jeans will fit again in another 10 lbs and a lot of butt and thigh toning. The exercise portion of the new year's resolution has yet to kick in since the whole family has just been continuously sick since the first of the year.

In other news, things are better all around. The work-paycheck situation is unchanged, but we've made several adjustments to our expenses and used some of our forbearance time on student loans to ease the lack of available cash a bit. B got some good news at work regarding a small raise and a small bonus, so those two things should help us through the upcoming weeks.

Plus, this week, the Bachelor is on TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW! This season is quickly becoming one of my favorites.