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June 3, 2011 / allyo

First & Last


First & Last Day of Kindergarten

From 2010-08-26
From 2011-06-02
From 2011-06-02

Drum out

Jamie’s school has this great tradition of drumming the kids out on their last day of school. Basically, about 20 minutes before the regular dismissal time, a group of older kids gathers outside the main entrance and starts drumming. They then dismiss the kids classroom by classroom, starting with the K/1’s. It was really fun and my only regret is that I didn’t really make friends with the parents in the room this year and didn’t have anyone to stand next to and reminisce with while waiting for Jamie to appear. That’s on my list of things to do starting this summer because Jamie really wants to have playdates with some of his buddies.

From 2011-06-02

Watching the drum out.

Today marks the first day of summer vacation and Jamie and I were both up early. Me, to work. Him, to wait the hour until he’s allowed to start playing wii (7:30). I’m really really really trying to shift my sleeping schedule so that I’m in bed with Jim by 9:30-10 and up early. Today my goal was 5:30 but I either slept through my alarm or didn’t set it properly. I’m having a really hard time getting to sleep earlier even though I’m exhausted. My mind is so full – of possibilities on good nights and bad nights? Pure fear.

On the housing front, we have a real possibility – as in the lease could be signed this weekend – for which the only drawback is no back yard. There’s a patio, a garage, and a strip of dirt on one side of the garage and a strip of grass on the other, which is technically on the other side of the duplex. Then tonight we’re looking a place that is literally a stone’s throw from Jamie’s school. We’re not sure if they take dogs, if anyone else has seen it, or if they’ll be cool with our foreclosure situation. But it’s 3 bedrooms, has a tiny yard an veggie patch in the back yard and did I mention a stone’s throw from school? I’m prepared to pay the deposit tonight and I haven’t even seen it yet!

May 29, 2011 / allyo

A confession

Fw:New Message

Himself, with a freshly cut and spiked mohawk.

The other day Jamie broke one of my earrings by snapping the hook in two. The pair was old and I had acquired it in a workplace swap ages ago and the hooks were worn and I didn’t think much of it other than to ask Jamie – once again – to please not fiddle with my things. Of course, if I really didn’t want him to fiddle with my things I’d put them away instead of leaving them on the bathroom counter, and the earring was quickly forgotten. He kept asking me, however, when was I going to buy a new pair until this morning I finally asked him if he was feeling guilty for breaking them. He was, and I showed him how the other one bent easily and explained they were old and while I would like him to leave my things alone it was really ok and to forget about it.

Around the same time that the earring broke we had a fuse blow. It was puzzling but we didn’t think much of it. Then the next day MD noticed that both the lower plug in the outlet in the bathroom and the bathroom night light were blackened and thought it might have something to do with the fuse. I’ve been having trouble with that outlet, as my hair dryer plug has been falling out of the lower one so I’ve been taking the night light out of the upper outlet every morning when I dry my hair. But I never put the night light in the lower outlet so again, we were puzzled but didn’t think much of it.

It finally all came together tonight when, shortly after I tucked him into bed, Jamie came out of his room and told me he wanted to show me something in the bathroom. He pointed to the outlet and the night light, and through tears, told me he had done it when he had tried to plug the night light back in, not realizing the earring was hanging on one of the outlet prongs. I picked him up and carried him into our room where we both reassured him and he cried and cried.

He’s back in bed now, feeling a bit lighter and hopefully trusting his mom and dad more than ever.

And knowing he should keep the hell away from electrical outlets. I can dream, right?

May 24, 2011 / allyo

Losing the dream

I’ve always loved watching HGTV’s House Hunters. MD HATES the show, HATES it, and I can’t watch it while he’s in the room because he can’t keep his snarky comments to himself. He especially hates the international holiday homes episodes because he thinks the expats (from whatever country) are too picky and expect everything to be their way. Generally, they don’t bug me because I’ve lived, to a smaller extent, that culture shock through my summer abroad in Italy umpteen years ago. But the one thing that drives me nuts is when a couple deliberately goes to a warm climate to enjoy the “outdoor living lifestyle” and then bitches about the lack of INDOOR square footage.  Ayiyi. But it’s a shift in one’s paradigm and it takes a little time to adjust your expectations.

I don’t know how old this report is, but it says that every three months, 250,000 families enter into foreclosure. Here it says 1.8 mil. foreclosure homes – in what time period I don’t know. The point is, a lot of people are having to shift their way of thinking, and do it in a way that keeps some of their dignity intact. You can’t go through this process and emerge sane without realizing that home ownership doesn’t matter as much as we think (thought) it does. I don’t mean on a personal level or an economic one. I mean on a societal level. The American dream – the house, the picket fence, it doesn’t define who we are as people. Sure, it can make life easier. It can bring happiness. But that’s because we’ve decided it should be that way, not because of some universal truth.


Our search for a rental is particularly frustrating because we want to stay in our big urban school district. Not only did Jamie lottery into the school of my dreams last year, but it’s K-8, meaning we get to skip the whole middle school issue. There are a lot of great rentals in the areas where our city and the suburbs overlap and lots of properties that boast “prestigious XYZ (suburban) schools!” and I sigh, and keep clicking.

I remember when apartment complexes with playgrounds were in nice parts of town. Those same areas are now NOT where we’re willing to live, and they’re where we grew up. We’ve talked about what sacrifices we might need to make to stay in this city. We might not be able to take the swing set. MD may have to give up some of his more exotic pets for lack of space. (He even said Maggie could live with his sister for awhile, to which my only response was a horrified face and a squeak, but he’s right.) If we did have to give up the swing set then I would want to live closer in to the city where there are some great parks and walk-ability is high and the population density is higher than we’re used to. I’d want to completely shift our lifestyle. I think this could be a great experience for Jamie but I don’t know. I don’t know HOW important the yard really is, I just know it’s what we’re used to and what the majority of families here have. I don’t know if moving to another neighborhood with no kids plus no yard would end up being a mistake. I think about going back to the days of a little patio for a backyard and it just feels like going backward and I get frustrated because there’s NO REASON why there can’t be a great apartment complex right where we want to live that has a playground and allows dogs. No reason other than we’ve decided, as a community, that that’s not what we want there. We’ve decided as a city that we are about HOUSES, dammit. Affordable housing means HOUSES, not rentals. That’s why we bought our house to begin with! It was cheaper to buy a house than to rent somewhere that allowed a dog.

Dog, kid, damn nuisances, I tell you. Tuck them away in your backyards! (Ok, I’m getting a little punchy.)


Back to HGTV. There’s one show that I can think of that touches upon what’s happening to the “rest of us” in this country. The reverse home buyers – the home losers. This new reality that is shaping us as surely as the post WWII housing boom. Our paradigm is shifting, and what I don’t see is any conversation about the long-lasting impact of this collective experience. Will we continue to live on the edge, the current consumer unwillingness to open our wallets so wide forgotten as soon as gas prices drop again and jobs start to come back (if they come back)? Will we have more compassion for each other, or will bitterness prevail? Will our children grow up assuming that home ownership is the great American dream?  I don’t know the answers. All I know is, you can’t have this kind of personal loss on the scale we’re seeing without a shift. I know we’ll never look at the world in quite the same way again. Multiply that by almost 2 million families and who can say what comes next?

May 20, 2011 / allyo

Reclaiming my waistline

I’ve been struggling with my appearance for awhile now. It’s been more than a year since I’ve exercised regularly. Turning 40 hasn’t helped – the changes in my face aren’t just related to weight but to age (and currently stress and sleeplessness but we’ve already covered that).

There’s a lot of emotional baggage hanging around my waistline that goes back to childhood and my mom’s struggles and my grandma’s attitude that physical appearance was akin to moral superiority. If you were fat, you were weak. The only solution was to “just loose” the weight. In her case even if it mean smoking and destroying your lungs to keep your weight down. I’ve always been aware of the fact that my weight is a form of defiance and a declaration of independence from my grandma. But I’m 40 now, and she’s dead and my mom’s dead and it’s long past time for me to decide what’s important to ME and how I achieve that happiness.

I’ll never, ever diet again. I’ll never apologize for what I eat. I went to the doctor recently because I’ve had terrible heartburn and bloating that’s been getting steadily worse for a year now and I HATED the doctor I saw. (My reg doc was unavailable that week.) We talked a bit but she mostly focused on the fact that my weight HAD to be a contributing factor, along with my diet, no matter me telling her that the heartburn came and went regardless of what I ate. And sure, my weight could be a contributing factor, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t something else going on and it doesn’t give the doctor an out.

Anyway, she told me to cut back on spicy and fatty foods and I was really pissed off for awhile because OF COURSE she assumed that I ate a lot of fatty foods and then yesterday it hit me. Yes, yes I do eat fatty foods. Mostly good fats, but I also eat bacon and cheeseburgers as the mood strikes me. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that in the context of everything else I eat.

I was able to grab a cheap set of Zumba classes from one of those online group coupon companies and I went to my first class last night. I’ve done hard core aerobics before and I loved it, plus I love latin music and have a decent sense of rhythm. I enjoyed the class as much as I thought I would but I was WINDED after the first ten minutes of “warm ups.” That’s where my own personal responsibility comes and and it has nothing to do with what I eat and everything to do with the fact that I’ve become almost 100% sedentary. Back at my old job I walked almost daily with a coworker and that 30 minutes at lunchtime functioned a lot like marching band in high school in that it kept my weight stable without me realizing it and when it went away the weight started to pile up.

I can accept that my body will always have heavy legs and my face will droop as I get older and my arms are saggy. But I finally decided that I draw the line at my waist. I’ve always had a well-defined waist, regardless of how much I weighed. I’ve spent almost all my life as a classic pear shape but in the last 6 years have morphed into an avocado and I don’t like it.  I think this is a reasonable goal and has nothing to do with the scale and everything to do with what I think is ideal for my body. Let operation reclaim waistline begin!

May 19, 2011 / allyo

Moving forward, feeling stuck

I’ve accomplished a ton of stuff this week. I’ve made uncomfortable phone calls, finally ordered a pair of glasses, finalized babysitting plans for the summer, found several new to me online sources for rental listings, etc. But when it comes to physical tasks, I sit. I play games on Facebook, I discover – and spend several hours obsessing over – Pinterest. The laundry isn’t folded, garage sale items aren’t being sorted, I’m not exercising even though I think about it constantly.

I’m up way past midnight most nights, worrying. We had a great lead on a house which has suddenly gone silent. I’ve only found 3 rentals worth calling about this week, and one, I’m pretty sure, was a misprint, rent-wise. I’ve expanded the geographical boundaries of the search and looked up extended stay hotels (available, but crazy expensive).

The big picture has swallowed up the things right in front of my face. It feels like drowning.

May 13, 2011 / allyo


I just realized I’ve been awake for more than 2 hours and I haven’t checked Craigslist’s rental listings. (I’m there now, duh.) This week has been really stressful for me, because even though I’m relieved to be moving on and have a constant litany of “not my problem!” rolling in the back of my mind (the almost dead tree/bush thing that needs to be cut down? not my problem! the bathroom that needs to be gutted? not my problem! the fence that needs to be replaced? not my problem! etc.) I’ve been a little freaked out at the whole find the right place, tell my parents, hell, tell Jamie*, actually MOVE all this crap we’ve accumulated, etc. part of all this (yes, queen of runon sentences today, sorry)

I’ve made about 10 phone calls this week on places that fit our criteria. Several of course didn’t call me back and of the ones I talked to either the place had been rented or they won’t take dogs. Then there’s the place I looked at yesterday which would work…with sacrifices. Lots of purging, etc. But the landlord is nice and is ok w/our credit situation. I spent most of yesterday obsessing about whether we’d get the place, whether we WANT the place, how we’d make it work for us, and all that jazz. But this morning I woke up ready to mow the lawn (check) and think about what plants and things we’ll want to take with us wherever we go. So far the list is irises, lilies of the valley, and the year-round herbs (oregano, chives, garlic). Possibly the hostas. We have three cherry tomato plants waiting for me to put in pots. And I’m eying the stuff in the garage and the basement (and mentally eying the stuff in the attic) and deciding what is going to go into a friend’s neighborhood garage sale next month.

Moving on – it feels good. It’s starting to feel like the stress of the next couple of months will be worth it. And every time I cross over or under the freeway and head into our neighborhood, leaving feels even better.

*As for telling people, Jamie will be thrilled, we think. He’s been asking why don’t we move for at least 2 years. A place with sidewalks so he can ride his bike and potentially neighborhood friends will make him happy.

May 5, 2011 / allyo

No house for us!

We were denied the modification based on our GROSS income (pre-tax/health insurance, etc.), and our FIRST mortgage only. I knew that 80/20 split would come back and bite us on the ass.

We’re sad. But we’ve learned a lot, and life is going to be better from here on out no matter what. There are a ton of places for rent in the area we’re looking in. We have money in the bank. We’re relatively healthy. And the sun is shining today.