Monday, July 30, 2012

Evening Interlude: Sticks

Hi guys. I can't seem to sleep. So I'm hanging out online, instead.

See this dinosaur? His name is Bop.

Cute, right? Yes. He is very cute, and super cuddly. I bought him for Max for his 2nd birthday because I noticed that Max didn't seem to like stuffed animals very much and it just seems ridiculous for a kid to not like stuffed animals, and I thought he just needed to find The One. (Of course, Max doesn't like pizza or PB&J, either, which is equally outrageous, so I suppose that should have been a red flag... we have tried a lot of pizza and peanut butter on him and there is still definitely no One in those departments. :-/ ...But I'm still trying, mind you. The kid is going to starve to death in this household if he doesn't eventually eat pizza and peanut butter.) So, I went and found a DESIGNER stuffed animal from a mildly pretentious and extremely expensive designer website and spent TWENTY FOUR DOLLARS PLUS SHIPPING on it, thinking, obviously, "Well, surely a hand-stitched, obscenely high-priced, imported-from-London, finest-work-of-art toy listed on this website under "Soft Friends" (maybe the term "stuffed animals" is too taxiderm-esque in the world of designer toys, in which you can tell I don't spend much time) will win my son's heart and allow me to revel in the joy of seeing my cute kid running around with his cute stuffed animal and will completely enrich his childhood and create for him the fondest of fond memories and perhaps stimulate the highest realms of his creativity and turn his life into an awesomeness resembling that of Calvin and Hobbes."

...Um, yeah. About that.

My only excuse is that pregnancy has not been kind to my brain.

You know where this is headed: the long-awaited Bop arrives (I was more excited at the package coming than Max was), he is unwrapped, there is much oohing and aahing and exclamations of joy and excitement. "Max! Look! This is Bop the dinosaur! Isn't he great? Feel how soft he is! Ohhhh, so soft! And cuddly! Max, see Bop? Max! ....Max? ....Come back!!! MAX!!!"

Max does call him Bop and has at least played with him for maybe eleven seconds, total, over the history of Bop's habitation with us, which is better than nothing. We tried bringing Bop to bed with us to snuggle (Max has this obsession with twirling my hair when we are in bed, which was endearing until I got pregnant, and now it drives me CRAZY as does a large number of things when I am pregnant, so I was hoping we could phase that out with the introduction of Bop in all of his velvety, strokable, perfect-for-cuddling-in-bed-like-a-normal-kid-with-his-stuffed-animal glory), but Max would shout "NO BOP!" and fling him across the room. I'd act all hurt for poor Bop and bring him back into bed holding him tenderly, saying, "Oh, Max, now Bop is sad!! Poor Bop! Let's cuddle him and make him feel better! Let's cuddle him to SLEEP!" which was followed by a look from Max that said, clear as a bell, "Yeah right, mom. Clearly, the inanimate toy you are pretending to cry over is distressed by his ejection from bed. Suuuuure he is. Sorry about that. Now, let's cut it out with this stuffed animal nonsense and get back to appropriate bedtime behavior. Lie down and give me some of your hair."

So... yeah. Fast forward several months. Bop spends most of his time in the toy corner, neglected and sad and probably crying into his twenty-four-dollar plush tail when we're not around. (...Doesn't that image break your heart? Didn't you grow up watching the Secret Life of Toys? Or reading The Velveteen Rabbit? Didn't you watch Toy Story 3!? Toys have feelings too, people!!! Ugh, poor Bop...) I have given up on trying to bond Max to him for now, although I do have hopes for the future. We'll make it up to you someday, Bop, I promise!

The good news is that Max DOES have an attachment to at least one of his toys. The bad news is that... well, I'll just explain and you can figure that part out for yourself.

Over time, Max has assembled a collection of long, thin objects that all go by the appellation of "Stick". Actually, it's more like "StIck!!", said with vehement excitement and a lot of emphasis placed on the vowel. Max LOVES his sticks. Loves them. Anything that has anything remotely long and thin about it is immediately called "StIck!!" and immediately becomes inseparable from my child.

At present, Max's StIck!! collection includes a vacuum attachment, a back scratcher, a wooden screwdriver, two wooden hammers (only one is pictured below, because the other is currently occupying my place in bed, which I'll get to momentarily), a fiendishly pokey drumstick made by B toys sold by Target (which is a company I normally adore; the drumstick is part of an insect-themed music set and is supposed to resemble a caterpillar but is made of hard plastic and the legs are short and pointy and it is just a big fail all around if you ask me), and a whirligig toy. This is subject to change - other occupants of the collection have included a giant foam sword bigger than Max, various candles and writing utensils, and a real metal wrench, the latter of which was a disaster and which Mom made sure very quickly got "lost". The position of Favorite changes frequently, as well; there is only one StIck!! that is Max's best friend at any given time.

Remember how I wanted Max to have something to cuddle in bed so he wouldn't play with my hair? Remember how I wanted him to have a Hobbsian buddy with whom he could spend every waking moment of his childhood?

...Yeah, be careful what you wish for.

He loves his StIck!!s so much that he carries his current Favorite with him EVERYWHERE - the grocery store, the car, the park, the stroller, Grandma's house, the living room, the dining table, the bath, and - oh yes - BED.

One of Max's favorite things to do with his StIcks!! - among other things, like pretending he is a ninja and viciously attacking the furniture or playing Throw It Into The Air And See How Many Times I Can Get Mom To Kiss It Better After It Bonks Me Directly On The Head - is twirl them back and forth at a rapid pace, like a baton. He does this almost unconsciously, all the time, and it doesn't matter to him where he is at any given moment or how difficult it might be to do his baton twirling stuff, including while we are all lying in bed trying to sleep, which ends up with frequent unintentional whacks to parental parties on both sides. Sigh. It's a good thing he's cute.

Yep, so, I can't sleep - I decided to get up when I rolled over on the wooden hammer that is Max's current Favorite and got jabbed right in the kidney. "Alright, StIck!!", I said wearily, "you win, you win. You can have my place in bed. I'm going to go blog. And other awesome stuff. Pleasant dreams."

I think that next on tonight's agenda will be a dance party with Bop.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Maine Event

Guess what! We're moving to Maine. By which I mean the state. On the other side of the country. That Maine.

I think a lot of you knew this already, at least in passing, but I figure that now that our house is completely devoid of furniture and our internet and power are scheduled to be turned off, and we sold our cars and bought a new one solely to get us across the country, and Todd has initiated his Home Depot transfer, and all that, it is safely official enough to make a real announcement.

You will be wondering why. Here's the reason, in a very large nutshell:

 Sandpoint is an awesome place to live for a lot of folks, but it is NOT an awesome place to live if you are young and just getting started and don't have established careers yet. Todd has a bachelor's degree, but not in something that is easily employable, so that didn't work out too well; thus, he decided to become an electrician, which he has found is his real passion anyway in addition to being (seemingly) practical. He has been going to electrical school for two years and applying EVERYwhere in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho that you could possibly apply to work as an apprentice electrician, but to no avail - there are just too many tradesmen out of work around here as it is. If an electrical company can hire a desperate journeyman or master electrician at a rock-bottom price, of course they're going to do that instead of hire an apprentice with 0 hours of experience on his apprentice card. We've come to terms with it at this point, and Home Depot has been a fine place for him to work and has taken good care of us. I repeat: Sandpoint is just not a good place to get started, unfortunate as that is. Meanwhile, I just completed my first year of college, trying to get prereqs for nursing school done. I was able to take a lot of online classes this year, but most of the classes I need at this point are only available on campus in Coeur d'Alene, which is a good hour from where we live; not an impossible commute, but pretty darned difficult when you have 1.5 kids, work an hourly job with an unpredictable schedule, your husband works an hourly job with an unpredictable schedule, and you can barely afford gas. So, going to NIC for me is also looking rocky at this point (plus I've not heard the best things about its nursing program), unless we were to move to Coeur d'Alene, but then we would lose our babysitter (my mom), and wouldn't be able to afford childcare.

Anyway, we're at a fresh chapter in our lives, and we are turning the page! We're off to new ground to see what else might be out there for us. We will be staying with Todd's parents for awhile to establish ourselves over there and pay off our debt (student loans and car) and also provide them with a good opportunity to do the grandparent thing! :-) I will be continuing school at Central Maine Community College, which from what I have heard has a killer nursing program. Todd will transfer his Home Depot job and continue the search for an apprenticeship.

Meanwhile: the lease on our house is up in August, so next week sometime we will be moving temporarily into an apartment in Ponderay that we can rent month-to-month long enough to get the baby born and be able to spend those first postpartum weeks without being homeless. (From what I've heard, homelessness is generally something you want to avoid when you have a new baby.) Because we don't know exactly when the baby will come and how long it will take until we're feeling up to driving across the country with two kids (there was a reason we got a car that has a DVD player in it), we can't say for sure when *exactly* we're moving to Maine, but at this point it's looking like the end of September or October 1st at the latest.

We're sad to be leaving the friends that we've made these past three years, but very excited about our new adventure and what the future holds! Plus, you'll all be reading my blog, anyway (right? ...RIGHT???), so you'll be able to keep apprised of the doings of the Nichols clan, and we can keep in touch. Also, you can totally be that person who's all, "Oh, we have friends in MAINE! Let's go have a cool vacation with lighthouses and lobsters and stuff and we can stay with our friends for FREE!" We'd love to be the catalyst for your rad Maine vacation, and I mean that in all seriousness. :-D

Updates to follow!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

[Nearly] Wordless Wednesday - Doing Laundry

Yes, I know it's not Wednesday - I'm a little behind. But I'd like to start doing "Wordless Wednesday" where I post pictures, so that I can force myself to not only take photographs of my daily life (something I tend to avoid) but organize and post them in a timely manner so they don't end up in a giant, chaotic folder in some forgotten corner of my computer. Anyway, I don't want to have to wait till next week to get started, so I'm pretending it's Wednesday. Pretend with me! It will be great. You'll be all, "Oh, it's Wednesday, which would suck except I get to read Sarah's exciting, picturey new blog post" and THEN, even better, you'll wake up tomorrow expecting it to be Thursday, but it will be actually be FRIDAY, which is, of course, the best day of all. Trust me on this. Surprise Fridays are much better than regular Fridays.

Back to the subject at hand! Wordless Wednesday!

Today's Post: How Max and I Kill Time While We're Doing Laundry at My Parents' House. 

 This is the silver lining in the cloud of having a broken washing machine at home. :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Afternoon in the Life of a Pregnant Barista

So this is my life at work right now. Every day. If you find this post to be too long and painful to read, suck it up and read it anyway. My shifts are too long and painful to work, but I still work them to the bitter end.

Car drives up to drive-thru window.

MeSucking in stomach super hard and sort of bending forward so that my apron conceals some of the bump. Trying very hard to not look pregnant so I can avoid all of the questions and comments. At this point, failing. "Hi there! How are you doing today?"
CustomerVery quick but still perceptible glance down at my belly and then up at my face. "Good, thanks... how are you today...?"

(This is usually said with either an oh-crap-she's-pregnant-what-do-I-say-deer-in-the-headlights look or an ohhhh-you're-preeeegnant-and-i-know-it-which-makes-me-special-somehow-and-what-kind-of-witty-comment-can-I-make-about-it smirk. They say it like that because they want me to launch into the discussion of how I am pregnant so that we can talk about it, which they are dying to do.)

Me: "Goodthanksyourtotalwillbe$3.94today!" (I have to say this part, or at least the "goodthanks" part, really really quickly so that they can't make a comment about the fact that I'm pregnant. If I pull that off, this happens:)

Customer: Hands me their card, answers my questions about needing a receipt, etc. Continues to cast little glances at my belly.
Me: "Doyouneedareceiptwiththis?" (Still being quick.)
Customer: "Yes please."
Me: Grabbing my belly and hoisting it up and onto the window ledge so that I can lean out the window, handing them their card and receipt. "Hereyougo thanks we'llhaveyourdrinksrightout!" Quickly shutting window and running away to hide out of view of the window while bar person makes drinks.

Me: Grabbing finished drinks and returning to window. Picking up belly again and hoisting it onto ledge; involuntarily holding breath while leaning out the window because the ledge is compressing my baby against all of my already-compressed organs including my lungs and making it impossible to breathe. *Gasp* "Hereyougo thankshaveagreatday!!" *gasp* Practically throwing the drinks at them so I can stop leaning and breathe. Loudness and length of gasping is directly related to how low to the ground the tiny cars or towering into the sky the diesel trucks are and thus how far I have to stretch.

Customer: Glances at my belly again. Looks disappointed that the moment for commenting has passed. Drives away resignedly.


If I don't speak quickly at that first crucial moment of contact, then all is lost, and this happens:

Car drives up to drive-thru window.

Me: "Hi there! How are you doing today?"
Customer: The glance. Every time. First at my belly, then at my face. Deer-in-headlights or ooh-you're-pregnant-and-I'm-on-to-you! look. "Good, thanks, how are you today...?"
Me: "I'm good, thanks!" SmileDraw in breath in preparation to give them their total and complete the transaction. "So your tot-"
Customer: "Yeah? You hanging in there in this heat?"
Me: "Erm... yes. So your total today is-"
Customer: By now they have definitely made sure that I am pregnant and not just fat and say, "So how much longer do you have???" Or "When is your due date???" or "Any day now, huh???" (Note that "Any day now, huh" started at about five months pregnant.)
Me: Forcing down an exasperated sigh and giant eye roll. "Oh, another month or so!" or "Umm... end of August? Ish?" (Very important to not give the exact date or they will exclaim over the fact that that is their/their mom's/their nephew's/their dog's birthday and how it is just the best day ever on which one could possibly birth and that now we have this huge thing in common even though the chances of my baby actually being *born* on that day are like 8% or some similarly small number. Also, telling them I'm due later than I actually am is important so that we don't have to start The Conversation About How I am Working at Nine Months Pregnant And How Amazing It Is and How Miserable I Must Be and How Sorry For Me They Are.) or "Well, I've still got awhile to go." (Sometimes when they say "Any day now" I'll just say "Yep." I started doing that at five months pregnant too.) "Yep! Any day! SO, YOUR TOTAL TODAY WILL BE $3.94!"

The rest of the scenario finishes pretty much as above, including requisite hoisting, gasping, and organ compression, though extra work must be done to discourage continued pregnancy-related conversation.
Customerinevitably, as they drive away: "Congratulations! You take care of yourself! I'm your best friend now because we've had this conversation and I fully expect you to call me when you go into labor so that I can be present at your birth and commentate the entire time on everything related to every intimate aspect of your anatomy and oh, I will also be naming your baby for you! It's a girl, by the way! I can tell by the way you're carrying/the way you smell/the fact that I know everything there is to know ever about pregnancy and babies!"

The worst case scenario, which seems to be happening more and more often these days, plays out similarly to those above but involves comments and questions beyond the realm of the when-are-you-due and geez-you-must-be-hot variety.


Car drives up, pleasantries exchanged, etc.

Customer: "Oh! Everybody told me you were a virgin! HA! HA!" (My reply to this was a weak "Uhh... sorry about that?"/window slam/run away. We all thought of great comebacks after the fact, of course. They included "Really? Everybody told me YOU were a WHORE!" and "Uh...I AM a virgin!" Oh well. At least now I'm prepared for the inevitable next time someone says this to me.)
Customer: "Wow, you're nine months' pregnant? Your belly is so small! You don't even LOOK pregnant!"   (Okay, I know that when people say this they probably mean it as a compliment. But people telling me I look small drives me BONKERS. People telling me I look small when my belly is actually HUGE, or at least FEELS huge, is like telling someone carrying a pallet full of bricks in the hot sun, "Oh, look at that tiny little lightweight package you're carrying!" It's not true, it's not helpful, and I'd prefer if you acknowledged how much work I'm actually putting into this instead of downplaying it, thank you very much!)
Customer: Pointing to belly, "You know how that happens, don't you?" (...>.<)
Customer: "You're pregnant again?? Didn't you JUST have a baby?" (Uhh... two and a quarter years ago, yes...)
Customer: "Oh ho! Better watch out for you!" or some similar comment that makes absolutely NO sense at all and is the customer's failed attempt at coming up on the spot with some remark about the fact that I'm pregnant, because they HAVE to make a remark or SOME kind. Everyone does. But seriously - "better watch out for me?" What does that even mean??
Customer: "You'd better sleep while you still can!" or "Pretty soon you'll REALLY be tired!" or something similarly obvious. Yes, I am aware that babies do not sleep twenty four hours a day. I'm also aware that babies poop and drool. I think most people are aware of that. Even if I weren't aware, I'd probably figure it out quickly enough on my own without you telling me. Thanks.
Customer: After I tell them that the sex of the baby will be a surprise: "Ohh.... you're one of THOSE." (I have to add that almost immediately after making that comment, she tried (unsuccessfully!) to get my phone number and gave me a card and pamphlets for her work-at-home pyramid scheme, telling me I'd be perfect for it. Really??
Customer: "You must be having twins!" Nope. "Are you sure???" YES, I'm sure! We've had two ultrasounds and can feel all the baby parts. "I dunno, you might be surprised..."
Customer: "Oh, don't lift that!" Boxes, floor mats, etc. Me: "It's okay, this weighs less than my toddler. Really, I'm fine." Customer: "You'll go into labor!" Me: "Um... no I won't. Although I'm actually really, really okay with that at this point, anyway." Customer: "Oh, you say that now, but it will HURT! You don't want to go into labor!" Me: ...Just walking away before I say something I regret.

...Wow, you made it to the end of this post!! Good job! I hope you now understand the torment of what it is like to be a pregnant barista and to have to field questions and comments about your pregnancy OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again from every single customer for hours every day. It's great. You should try it some time. It will improve your working life immeasurably.