Monday, August 27, 2012

Our New Wheels

After much frustration, we have finally gotten a vehicle to replace the late Chevy Prizm (may it rest in pieces). Later, I will have to describe the trauma of car shopping. In retrospect, maybe I will think it was funny rather than miserable. It reached its peak of horribleness on Saturday evening and I spent Sunday just wishing we could agree to go without a car and just rely on public transportation. Sunday night and Monday morning, Micah did a lot of research online and we expanded our search to farther dealers. Micah skipped school because if we didn't find anything else we liked, we were gonna settle on a pretty good deal for a 2012 Ford Focus.
We ended up with a good car- feel that we paid a good price and that it will meet our needs well. It is a 2010 Hyundai Elantra manual transmission with 33,600 miles on it. It's certified pre-owned, with a few months left of completely comprehensive warranty, 2 years of limited comprehensive (everything but the electronics basically) and 17 years of powertrain warranty- so no more anxiety over the continuous engine problems like we had with the prizm. Hopefully this car should last us a good, long time and if there is anything wrong with it we will find out in time for the dealer to take care of it.
Isn't it pretty?

Even though appearance was not a consideration when buying (dealers kept laughing at me when I asked if they happened to recieve any trade ins that had been through a hail storm that they could offer us a great deal on), I do think that it's pretty dang stylish. Not as sport as the new 2012 model that we were originally looking at, but we dig it.

Micah did great at figuring out how to drive a manual, so by the time we have to return my Dad's car, we should both be pros.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Unpacking, Car Shopping and Starting School

I think that I can finally say that we are unpacked (let's just ignore the pile of boxes at the top of the stairs since that is mostly stuff to be repacked and stored away anyhow...). It took a really long time because Natalie was being really clingy earlier this week, but yesterday and today she has been dong a lot better and being set down and even letting me go to the other side of the room without tears- a big step.

Micah started classes on Monday. He is in a different physics class than he was originally planning because the professor advised that the grad level physics class required a very solid foundation, especially in the related math. So, he is in a senior level undergrad class, but it will count towards his physics minor, so it's all good. Sounds like it will be a stretch, but it's okay- that's how you learn! He's a little bummed that he will need to put more work into classes than he was expecting. He needs to get a lot of work done on his research to prepare for a conferance in October.

We've been to 4 different dealers to shop for cars and still have not narrowed down exactly what we want. Micah is leaning more towards a cheap, basic new car with a warranty and I would rather pay a lot less for a used car without too many miles on it. Hyundais have the best warranty of the brands that we have shopped, but if we could get an accent or a focus at the same price, I think that a focus would be a better car and worth the less impressive warranty. Or there's the possibility of a new car that is still under factory warranty. Then there's the possibility of buying used and tacking on an extended warranty for a few thousand. Ugh. So many choices. The lot up the road has a 2002 focus wagon with 34,000 miles on it that we could get for less than $8000, versus buying a new base model manual sedan for $14,000. I think we'll be going over to drive both tonight. Seems like there are so many possibly decent choices out there that the only way we'll be able to choose a car is through great prayer and study!

Sammy got groomed. He mainly needed his nails trimmed, but the groomer was unable to do his back nails because he was freaking out so much, she was afraid that she would cause him a heart attack or a nosebleed. Dang it, so now he stil needs his nails trimmed. But he has the closest shave he's ever had around the face so, even though he looks like an alien, Natalie can't pull his hair as easily. It's great- they are learning to play much better now- Natalie continully crawls after him and he walks away from her. It's good exercise for both of them. Here is is trying to bury his bone in our bed.
Speaking of our bed, Micah and I have been able to actually enjoy sleeping in it by ourselves for the recent days (at least for the first part of the night), as Natalie can now fall asleep in her own bed if she is patted and sung to. We love her way-cool crib and linens that my Dadio brought down and set up!

At SteaknShake last night, Natalie got her first pickle- and she seemed to like it!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Adventure Home

We left Boston last Friday. Micah left work a little bit early so that he could pack the car and could get a head start on rush hour traffic. We still got stuck in it, but made it to New York in decent time. My sister and her family were gracious enough to host us for the night ven though they themselves were in the process of moving (They are now getting settled in their new place in UT). We left NY early afternoon, hheading for Wilmington, DE where we planned to stay with our friends the Larsens. We were cruising along the highway in NJ about half an hour from our destination when we approached a toll booth. Micah slowed to a stop in the line of cars waiting to pay the toll, and the car suddenly started to shake. And when I say shake, I don't mean tremble. It began to BOUNCE. It was shaking so violently, we pulled over immediately and turned off the car. Micah got out, checked the oil (the usual culprit of handling issues with this car) and it wasn't that low. So, we got back into the car and drove past the toll booth with the car shaking. The shaking seemed to improve as we accelerated to highway speed, but then the check engine light turned on and soon after started to blink. At this point, I was hysterically worried that the car was going to explode and wanted to pull over as soon as possible and so we got off at the next exit and went to the closest gas station. It was tough because we were not in a highly inhabited area and I was using the gps to find a gas station and the it kept losing power and turning off even though it was plugged in.

It was 4:00ish on a Saturday afternoon and so the quest began to find a mechanic that was open. We called our friend Jacob, who helped us find the number to a nearby mechanic that would be open for another hour as well as the next day. When Micah called and explained the car's behavior, they advised us not to drive it because the problems we experienced were usually indicative of impending "catastophic engine failure". So, the car was towed to the shop and Jacob drove us to his place. We were worried because, after 5 major repairs last fall, we agreed not to do any more expensive repairs on it. We spend a few thousand more on it than it was worth already. So, we tried to not worry and enjoyed the evening with our friends, had a goodnight's sleep and called the mechanic the next morning. I don't know the technical details of what was wrong, but suffice it to say that our car has always had an issue with disappearing oil. We have had it "repaired" a number of times, with  mechanics blaming various leaks, but apparently the real problem was never really corrected and basically caused the engine to have crazy problems of doom. The only technical/quantitative thing I understood in all of the dicussion was that our engine was only running on one of the cylinders- the other 3 were blown- ad it would take a "complete overhaul" to repair it. This was going to cost thousands, so we just gave up. Sold it for parts, made enough to pay for the towing and mechanic fees, rented a car and made plans to make it to Wilmington, NC, where my Dad had a car that Paco usually would drive. He ageed to lend it to us while we figure out a more permanent solution. So, Micah had to unpack and repack the car a total of 3 times, an impressive feat, as we had crammed the car so full of stuff.

We have a little over 2 months to figure out a replacement car. Weighing all of our options, looking up stats online and deciding what we can afford.

So, we are back in Atlanta. I have seen 7 cockroaches now, 3 alive and 4 dead. I think that they must have just sprayed for them, since that usually makes the bugs try to come in to escape their fate. I hate, hate, hate, hate them. It's not too hot, I guess July was a lot hotter but now August is supposed to be atypically cool. We got to swim in our pool for the first time of the season last night and it was WONDERFUL.

I am struggling to unpack, as Natalie is going through another awesome clingy period where she must be held at all times. I can't even set her down right beside me, or she cries and crawls up to me and screams until I pick her up. It is so frustrating. Then, it seems, as soon as I do pick her up, she wiggles away towards something else. She only really plays and engages with things if I am sitting right there. At night, she will NOT sleep unless she is laying on me. Even during naps. If I leave her by herself or scoot away from her, she wakes up screaming 15-30 minutes later. Urgh. I guess I should be greatful to have a baby who wants to cuddle with me, but it is so uncomfortable at night!

She is a cruising machine and pulls herself up on everything. This has already made for one interesting fall and eyebrow bruise when she grabbed a hanging dishtowel and pulled with all her might, only to fly headfirst into the oven door. She loves our closet doors- 2 big sliding mirrors. She says "baba" to nurse and is working on "mama".

Tonight Micah and I get to go out to celebrate our anneversary, which is in a few days. Micah's brother Marc and his wife are visiting, so Natalie will be hanging out with them. Hopefully they all have a good experience :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Last week in Boston!

IT is coming just in time. Natalie is becoming more and more interested in her surroundings and this house is way gross and has way too many dangerous things around. She is obsessed with crawling under the coffee table and then can't get back out without hitting her head. She keeps going for the gap behind the fridge which is disgusting and she keeps holding onto the couch to stand up, but the loose couch covers usually usually don't support her weight and she just pulls it down and falls.

We're super busy- Micah and I have both had some church responsibilities this week- I was assigned to be support staff at the temple yesterday and Micah is going out with the missionaries today. I feel a little bit relieved that this place is so run down since it might not be as obvious if we just do a quick clean rather than a deep, thorough clean. Packing bit by bit as I am able between playing with Natalie, who has been super clingy and emotional lately. She almost never will just sit by herself and play with toys. Even if I get her engaged and then go to the other room to organize things, she starts crying. When I come back in the room, she's just sitting there crying, with her hands up in the air, wanting to be picked up. If I'm in the room sitting nearby though, she's fine. So, my strategy is to bring everything out into the livingroom so I can pack and stuff out here while she's playing.

The other night she managed to detatch one of the straps of her diaper and just kept crawling around, dragging it lower and lower.

She has a tooth now. It has just barely come through the gums. Hopefully the other bottom center tooth is on her way. But she chews everything she can now!
A girl from church gave us some baby toys. She had way too many. So I sorted through and organized some to give to my nephew who is a little younger and would appreciate the gym more. Natalie is somewhat interested in the new toys, but Sammy is CRAZY about them. Fortunately he isn't the type to destroy the toys he plays with, so its not a super big deal when he makes off with a toy here or there. The problem is that Sammy comes up to Natalie when she has a toy he likes, then she reaches for him and pulls his hair. Not cool. They had a run-in yesterday and he nipped at her her hand after she pulled his hair. I think they'll learn in time how to deal with one another.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Silly Girl

I just got Natalie to fall asleep in her own bed.YAY! This is the 3rd time in about a week, a great success! I have learned that she enjoys being read to- not just her own baby books, like Pat th Bunny and Goodnight Moon and Hello Baby, which we read together to begin the night ritual- from long chapter-like books. It started with the Hobbit. A few (or 25 or 40...) pages of sing-song reading voice from mommy and she eventually settles down. The funniest part (to me at least) is her preferred position. She crawls on her tummy, nestling her head into the corner of the pack and play, and then scrunches up her body with her legs and arms underneath her. Silly girl.

I'm reading Walden by Henry David Thoreou, since the folks we're renting had it here on the bookself. It's not great as a story book, but it's better than nothing. I'm considering visiting the giant used bookstore up the street to buy something for us to read while we travel back down south next week. When we get back home, I can start to read her Harry Potter and Narnia. Searching lists of the top children's books to add to our collection....
My ideas on what to read next:
Charlotte's Web
Secret Garden
Anne of Green Gables
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Little Women
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
In other news, Micah is way into the Olympics. Like, WAY into them. Who knew? I'm glad he has something to be excited about. I just wish we didn't stay up so late every night watching!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Shower to Remember

Warning: Gross descriptions ahead.

Natalie has been doing great at eating solid foods in the past few days. Feeding her with a spoon was a struggle, with her grabbing for the spoon and then not opening her mouth, so I have mostly been offering her finger foods. At first, she could barely hang on to the foods, let alone bring them to her mouth and then release, but as her dexterity improves, she enjoys feeding herself much more. Her faves? Strawberries and peaches. I give her whole srawberries to gnaw at and slices of peach. She usually sucks off all of the fruit and then spits the peel back out.

This morning, after a strawberry and 3 slices of peach, she was ready to get cleaned up. Most mornings, she takes a shower with me. This started when she was just a couple of months old because she would cry when I left her alone. She has a baby bath that I put at the far side of the tub and so I rinse her off and then put her in the tub to splash around while I clean myself. The last thing that comes off before stepping into the shower is Natalie's diaper because if she is free for very long, she like to pee on me. So, I pulled off her diaper and it had a little poop smudge on it. No big deal- I didn't bother wiping her, figuring an extra thorough rinse in the shower would be sufficient.

So I let the shower spray her bottom for a while. Figuring she was mostly clean, I reach for her bottom to brush off any remaining specks. My hand meets a baby bum still caked with crap. "Aw, how sweet! She has just made her first semi-solid poo!" -thinks the sentimental side of me. Meanwhile, the practical side of me is taken aback in disgust and thinks merely, "Ew."

Aside on the development of baby poop:
Baby's poop begins as totally runny, mucous-like mush. It remains more or less liquid, developing small, soft lumps (curdled milk) as long as the baby is exclusively breaskfed. As solid food is introduced, poop goes from runny to mushy to pastey, with the occasional soft chunk no larger than a pea.

As I brushed the poop from her bottom, two chunks, each about an inch across, detached from the surrounding pastey wastey and fell to the tub floor where it got caught by the drain. Disgusted and semi-horrified, I did what any sensible human being would to: Squished it with my toe, trying to get it to wash down the drain. It took a disturbing amount of squishing and I promised myself never to touch the drain again for the 10 more days we will be staying here and to wash my toe 5 times.

Once the poo was finally gone and Natalie's bottom clear, I set her down in her bath and began furiously scrubbing my hands and feet. As I rinsed for the third time, Natalie sneezed a mighty sneeze and as she lifted her face towards me, I noticed a gross something hanging out of her nose. It was dark and papery and hideous. I reached down, grasped it between my fingers and pulled, revealing... a.... great....big... (is the suspense killing you?) peach peel! Whew. I was afraid to imagine what it was. I guess that explained the wierd face she was making as she ate this morning.

The adventures did not end there.

Inspired by the London Olympics, especially the women's gymnastics, Natalie has recently been trying out some new tricks, including the vertical-kneel and the hunched-over-supported-stand. As I moved on to washing my hair, Natalie began grasping the side of her bath tub and standing up. She immediately reached for the most child-friendly object in the whole bathroom: my razor. I snatched it away and put it on the sink just outide the shower. She then began reaching outide her baby bath toward the side of the shower. I could too easily imagine her legs giving way and her head slamming straight into the side of the ceramic tub. So, I picked her up out of her bath and sat her on the floor of the shower, hurrying to finsh rinsing my conditioner so that we could get out of the shower. But Natalie was now free to scoot anywhere in the shower. So, of course, she went straight to the front and leaned over to put her mouth on the drain. Yuck.

This is a small chronicle highlighting just a portion of the morning, not touching upon Natalie trying to pull down the floor lamp while I was changing or her vomitting on me  as soon as I put my shirt on/ If you want to know what a full morning is like with Natalie... I rent her out starting at $10.95/hr.