Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Floodgate 2009

Welcome to Floodgate 2009! Many of you may remember Floodgate 2007 when we awoke to our entire apartment 6 inches deep in water - from the toilet - in a dorm - gross. We had just moved in, most of our belongings were in boxes on the floor, and I was 6 months pregnant. Woot!

Yesterday, after a day of work for me and 3 hours of preschool for Jeremy (they are doing transition visits, so daddy attends with Jeremy), we got home around 6pm. Jeremy immediately ran down the hallway toward the kitchen. We smiled as we heard the pitter patter of his little feet. Then, like the sounds of the apocalypse itself, the footsteps turned into squishsteps. With every step Jeremy took, water spurted out of the carpet and ran up over his shoes and all over the bottom of his pants. The past quickly came rushing back to us.

Our hot water heater had burst and our entire pantry (which is quite large and where we store a TON of stuff) was filled with water. It had run out into the aforementioned carpet, and we were not happy campers. We called maintenance (yay for renting and not buying), and were told it would be an hour at least before he arrived. In the meantime, daddy was hosting game night with friends who would be showing up at any moment. And Jeremy kept playing in the nasty water.

Luckily, home girl knows her way around a wet vac and can call in a favor. In less than 30 minutes, I had an industrial sized wet vac in the house to clean the mess (thanks Brandon and Steve and the Apts Res Hall!). Unfortunately, Jeremy thinks the wet vac is a monster whose sole mission on this planet is to eat him. He was terrified! So, we ate dinner upstairs in his room, had no water in the house until midnight, cleaned for hours, got a brand new hot water heater, and bonded with the maintenance guy and the carpet guy - both quite nice!
How was your Thanksgiving-eve night?

Our flood. It was much worse than this picture shows. Plus, our carpet was dirty so that water was disgusting. I didn't take a pic of the pantry - you will have to trust me that I was too busy bailing water and moving out squishy cardboard boxes to care about pics.

Me and my friend, wet vac. And I thought my days of using these machines was long gone since I finally moved off campus...silly Jeannie!

Free Stuff!

Sometimes I just love my job! Never one to turn down anything free, I have been particularly pleased recently as the opportunities for fun free adventures have fallen into my lap at a rapid pace.

First, our Hall Director staff (and me as a supervisor) took a professional development trip to Vanderbilt to talk with their housing staff and compare notes. It was interesting to see the differences between the smaller private school and our land-grant public institution. Biggest difference: the weirdo "green" toilets.
Here is a picture of us all at Vandy. Aren't we cute?
The best part is that one of my good friends, Alison, is an area coordinator at Vandy and Traci Ray, the person who was my first boss at UT and hired me as a little freshman to be an RA, is their Associate Director. So, in essence, I got a free trip to see my friends! Here we are:
The very next day, I got a call from one of our grad students who was taking a group of students to see Disney on Ice that night. She had three extra tickets - free, and offered them to our family. Fun! So, we took Jeremy to see "Disney on Ice Presents: Finding Nemo." It was super cute and Jeremy LOVED it! Ignore the fact that he has never seen Finding Nemo, it is unimportant. What is important is that Disney events like this are a racket to sell expensive junk to kids, but our kid is too young to care, so since we found a free parking spot, the entire night was f-r-e-e free! Here is Jeremy watching the fish people things:
Finally, I work the football games to make extra money, and I get a free ticket to each game. However, though I have worked at the stadium for two years, I have not attended a game in that long. This weekend was our last home game, so Graham to visit and I was able to get three free tickets instead of one. I also get free parking at the games. Score. Huge thanks to my amazing friends and their free babysitting. Jeremy peed on Kristin while she and Bryan were sitting, but she still seems to like him. :)

Oh one more thing: my friend Nicole has a lovely blog about her daughter, Lily, and she noted that she got free photo Christmas cards and privided the link. I tried it out - and yay! 50 free Christmas cards, free shipping, and no strings attached. Fun times! (I would include the link, but the deal is over, I barely got mine in on time.) Note for when you get your card: the font showed up better online, sorry it is a bit dark and hard to read. But it's free, so I ain't complaining.

Some outtakes of us trying to get a picture of Jeremy for the card. It was exhausting, but we succeeded thanks to candy! Works every time! This is in the lobby of the res hall where my office is located. That is a fake fireplace that the housekeepers built for the residents to decorate. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Short and Sweet

Three years ago today I married the man of my dreams.

Happy Anniversary. I love you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Jeremy's new favorite thing to do is give kisses and hugs. I find this to be adorable. He will kiss almost anyone or anything. I went to a Pampered Chef party at a friend's house and he kissed everyone there. He even kissed Smokey (the guy dressed up in the outfit version, not the real dog). I am the most cuddly and affectionate person in the world, so the very fact that it took my kid 2 years to master the art of kissing is sad, but I am so excited this momentous milestone has finally arrived!

Yes, his kisses are open-mouthed and quite disgusting (especially now that he has a cold and is all snotty). I love it!

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of him kissing things, as those are hard to take since usually I am greedily lining up for the next smooch. However, here is a picture of us with Smokey, post-kiss. I helped organize a Thanksgiving Dinner for our International Roommate Program (which was hilarious - try to explain what stuffing is to a kid from China) and Smokey was our special guest. Gotta love UT - it took an act of God to book this kid in a costume.
Please try to overlook how fat I look in this picture. I should really do something about that. Perhaps more cookies and tv watching...hmm...good plan.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Adventures of Mr. Moo

Once upon a time, Aunt Wendy gave a little embyro named Jeremy a toy for his baby shower. This toy was not any ordinary toy, it was a lovie named Mr. Moo. He is yellow with green trim, has a cow face with a rattle inside and a blanket body. Mommy and Daddy immediately knew he was special and decided to place him in Baby Jeremy's crib to await his arrival.

A few months later, Baby Jeremy arrived. However, Mr. Moo was shocked at what he saw. This baby screamed constantly and did not want to lie down and cuddle with him at all! Instead, Jeremy slept in a car seat placed inside the crib and poor Mr. Moo was pushed to the side and forced to fight for his life when the bed shook and the bars tried to strangle him.

Luckily, Baby Jeremy grew up and began to take an interest in his toys. He also decided it would be more comfortable to sleep on the bed than in the seat in the bed. Mr. Moo was saddened, though, when Jeremy chose to give his first signs of affection to Big Bunny. He took it like a man, however, and bided his time knowing that one day Baby Jeremy would notice him.
jeremy and big bunny

Mr. Moo's patience won out! Jeremy began to cuddle with Mr. Moo at night and on one fateful day he grabbed Mr. Moo before being picked up from the bed by Mommy. Mr. Moo was overjoyed! He was chosen to leave the crib and join Jeremy in the big world. He had no idea the world was so fun - songs, bright colors, toys of all shapes and sizes, and tv too!

Soon, Jeremy could not do anything without trusty Mr. Moo by his side, which suited him just fine! Jeremy shared his food with Moo, his snotty noses, his dirt, his smells, and even sometimes his diaper leaks. Mr. Moo took it all in stride and loved Jeremy more and more every day.
tastes good!
Now the best of friends, Jeremy sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and cries if Mr. Moo has accidentally fallen to the floor. Once his friend is restored to him, all is well and sleep time can resume with no problem. Mr. Moo may not be as silky or shiny or clean or sweet-smelling as he once was, and his rattle may not work any more since he was dropped in a crosswalk and run over by a car (true story), but he is happier than he has ever been. He is fulfilling his life's destiny: to love and be loved unconditionally by his very own best friend!
best friends forever

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Witty Repartee

I think one of the reasons I love books so much is that I yearn to be one of those people who can have witty conversations with great comebacks, one-liners, and stellar vocabulary. I usually find myself standing on the sidelines of great conversations in real life. I can come up with good material, but only after the subject has come and gone. But, in books, I am right there in the action speaking right along with the hero or heroine. I love the back and forth, give and take, volley and get the picture.

So, here are a few of my favorite characters who possess that enviable ability to speak with intelligence, humor, smart-assedness, and ease:

Poetic: Beatrice and Benedick - Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare - these two are at each others' throats the entire play and throw out so many double entendres my head spins when I see this performed live. Naturally, they end up happily married to each other, but even with their eventual coupling, you know that they will still be throwing verbal daggers at each other until they are 90 years old. Who could ask for a more fun relationship? (Note: I am a big fan of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in these roles in the movie version - check it out if you haven't seen it.)

Classic: Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy - Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen - I realize I have already written about this book, so I will keep this brief. There is nothing more joyful than reading these two continuously sticking their feet in their mouths. They are both so self-righteous that it takes a slap in the face (in the forms of family-ruining scandal and bald-faced rejection) for them to see what they are about. The early part of the book is best, with the hate and haughtiness so palpable that the stinging dialogue is absolutely delicious...and decadently laced with undercurrents of romance. So fun!

Immature: Harry Potter Kids - Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling - I know what you are thinking, but I was continuously impressed by the word play demonstrated by these kids, which often well out-shown their wand play. Granted, it was often of the "eat slugs" variety, but for the age group, their uncanny ability to always have a rebuttal ready was pretty impressive. Never really making the proper leap to the big screen, the dialogue on the page I found to be enticing and rather snotty (which I love). Fred and George were classic, Ginny was a firecracker (once she began to speak), and though not kids, one had to love the hate and taunts thrown back and forth between Snape and Sirius. I reread these books every Christmas and always find something new to love!

Smart Ass: Archie Goodwin - Nero Wolfe mystery series, Rex Stout - this is what I think of when I imagine the 1930s. Men in suits with vests, watch chains, and hats who talk a mile a minute with no concern at all for who they may be insulting right to their face. Archie is the ultimate fast-talking sidekick to Wolfe's armchair detective. He is not only laugh out loud hilarious, he is biting, sexy, smart, and gutsy. He hits on every woman who walks through the door of the brownstone, regardless of their age, looks, or marital status, he does everything in his power to annoy every police officer he sees, and he is he only person who knows how to out-talk the genius Wolfe to get what he wants (most of the time). Archie is the main reason to read these books (which are short, fun, and easy to read), so enjoy!

Expatriots: Jake, Brett, Robert, and Bill – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway – I read this book for the first time my junior year of high school and loooved it. I totally did not relate to any of the characters and thought they were all crazy, but I found them totally fascinating as well. Everything was a dance, a drink, a good time, a casual fling, or a game. They had a quip for everything and two of my favorite lines ever come from this book. "The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs" - how can you not love that as a drunk and light-hearted Bill sums up the book in one line?? And one of the best last lines in a book ever, as Jake yearns for Brett Ashley and she for him, but simply says, "Isn't it pretty to think so?" knowing they can never actually be together. There is so much saddness and frustration and anger boiling under the whole plot, but the dialogue and scenes are so carefree and light as these characters escape from it all in a desperate attempt to outrun their true lives. Good stuff.

My brain has died, but I know there are many more I will think of after I press the "publish" button. What books have dialogue that excite you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Very Scary Halloween

It has been a while, huh? Well, I have been kept from the blogosphere not by fears of ghosts, goblins, or witches, but rather by terrors created in my own head and heart. It's called "The Parenthood" and watch out - it could get you too if you're not careful!

As has been lovingly documented here before, Jeremy does not speak. He is almost 23 months and I cannot say with any honesty that he has ever managed to say even one word. We are usually quite rational human beings, but throw a tantrum or two into the mix, along with a side of exhausted parents and first-baby-overreacting syndrome, and what you get is...."The Parenthood." It is not pretty, I warn you.

"The Parenthood" causes you to make up problems, imagine symptoms, and scour the internet at 3am for answers. Before children, the very thought of doing something like this is beyond ridiculous. After children, however, every irrational thought suddenly becomes not only possible but probable. We somehow managed to convince ourselves that Jeremy was autistic. To be fair, he does have a few of the symptoms, we did not imagine them all. Naturally, while we were crying and worrying ourselves sick, Jeremy was laughing, smiling, and doing all the things that autistic children usually do not do. This did not discourage us on our path to self-destruction. "The Parenthood" is tricky that way.

Long story short, we took Jeremy to see an autism expert. He is the best doctor in the region at diagnosing toddlers with autism, and helping them once diagnosed. We found him to be lovely and Jeremy was putty in his hands. I have never seen him take so well to a stranger like that before. I strongly recommend Dr. William Allen to anyone who needs this type of help. Midway through our appointment, the autism expert looked at us and quietly said, "I don't think he is autistic." He then pointed out the many, many things that Jeremy does easily that he works with autistic children for years to accomplish. Yes, he has a speech problem that we are seeking therapy for. Yes, he flaps his arms when he is excited. These things are apparently quite normal. Who knew? Certainly not "The Parenthood."

A side effect of "The Parenthood", however, is that at the end of the day, we learned a lot. We will be better parents because of this experience, and we are finally taking steps that we have hitherto only talked about. We are enrolling Jeremy in the UT Early Learning Center (side note: when Dr. Allen heard this he was quite happy, he thinks very highly of their program, which makes me happy as well), and we are seeking speech therapy. We have also incorporated better nutrition into his diet, become more active with playtime, cut down his TV watching, and learned to avoid the internet when upset.

The downside is that for the second year in a row, we missed Halloween. Last year, Typhoid Jeremy struck with his two-week stomach virus, this year, we were just too upset to do anything. Luckily, we did hit up Trunk or Treat at UT before "The Parenthood" infected us. It was really fun and the other kids all loved Jeremy's costume and wanted to play with Elmo.

So, thank you to everyone who talked us down from the ledge, showered us with prayers and good wishes, and were nice enough not to tell us in our irrational state how insane we had become. Special thanks to Nana and Grandaddy for their lovely visit, and Nona and Pop for making the Early Learning Center possible. We LOVE you!!

Jeremy with the trunk of treats from the Humes Hall ladies.
Jeremy chilling by the Torchbearer with a pumpkin full of candy.
I love this costume, Mom, but it makes my head itchy.