Friday, May 29, 2009

Our new car

Last weekend, we said goodbye to an old friend. We traded in my husband's 2002 Pontiac Bonneville. It was time, but sad. This was the car that we'd brought both kids home from the hospital in, the one that Charlotte threw up in every day for two weeks with one illness, the one we'd driven to Myrtle Beach with my family before we had kids. This was also the car that sparked one of our big fights--in 2002, I thought we were saving money to start a family, and hubby started negotiations before I realized he wanted a new car. Luckily, everything worked out well in the end.

It is also sad that, even as we planned this spring to buy a new car, it was announced that the Pontiac line was being shut down. Of course, with the variety of problems that my husband's Bonneville has had over the past several years, I'm not sure I'm surprised. Electrical problems, airbags that needed to be replaced, tires that are constantly out of balance or low on air, a "Service Stability System" warning that we'd been ignoring for months, and puddles of axle grease on the driveway. It was time to go.

Last Thursday, we closed on a re-finance of our mortgage. The new 5% interest rate drops our payment by a couple of hundred bucks a month, and the total interest on the new loan works out to almost exactly the remaining interest on the old loan. We just added a few years until the payoff date. For about 36 hours, we had lowered our monthly expenses.

Saturday morning, hubby drove to a Toyota dealer to buy a new car. He initially was thinking a Prius, to save both the environment and our wallet (the gas mileage is roughly double his old car, and the old car required expensive premium gas). But after borrowing friend's vans and SUV's several times in a couple of months, we started thinking big. Neither of us wanted a gas guzzler, though.

We are now the proud owners of a blizzard white 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The gas mileage (25-27ish) is actually a tad better than the old Bonneville got. And it has space! Lots of space!! It can seat 7, or 4 plus a ton of cargo room, or 2 plus two tons of cargo room. At low speeds, it runs very quietly, relying mostly on the battery instead of the gasoline engine. Quite the change from the old super-charger on the Bonneville. And it fits just the same in the garage. (Have I ever mentioned that the Bonneville was roughly the size of a luxury yacht?)

We put the new car through its paces last weekend. It took us to the Ren Faire, and the Science Center, and to Shiloh, IL and back to visit family. It will likely make its open-road debut in the next few weeks with a trip to Indy to visit my family. So far, so good.

The payments are going to suck, though :(

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Memorial Day Weekend


  • I had intended to take Friday off work as my "flex day", but after 3 sick days in a row, decided it was better that I go in.
  • After work, we all went to McDonalds for dinner and playtime. Really, there ought to be more McD’s with play places. Of the half dozen restaurants nearest us, none of them have one. We drive about 15 minutes away to Florissant.
  • Stopped through Dairy Queen for ice cream on the way home. It was the beginning of a food-filled weekend.


  • Hubby leaves to go negotiate and buy a car at 8:30.
  • Kids and I go to the library around 10 to pick out books. I wish there were more Saturday morning story hours at the library. We’d show. Those weekday morning times are really annoying for working parents, and our local branch’s (once a month) evening story time lasts about 5 minutes. Not the same at all. Nevertheless, we left with around a dozen books, Leap Pad kits, books on CD (Char loves these in the car), and one exhausted Mommy. Trystan thinks the library is a great place to run.
  • Kids and I make lunch around noon. Hubby is still negotiating and/or filling out paperwork.
  • Hubby returns at 1. We all admire the shiny new car. The kids get excited and want to go for a drive. We just drive around town briefly. Trystan falls asleep.
  • We decide to head to the St. Louis Renaissance Faire for the remainder of the afternoon. After packing everyone and stopping for sunscreen (I don’t know why we wouldn’t have any in the house), we arrive with about 2.5 hours left before close. A little short on time, but not too bad for the kids. Trystan loved the petting zoo. We catch only about 2 minutes of the last joust of the day (in time for the coup de gras, including a realistic looking blood squirt). We constantly explain to Charlotte that its all makebelieve, like a living story book, and that the guy on the ground is just pretending. I eat a funnel cake for the first (and last) time in over 10 years. Charlotte gets to pick out a (way too expensive) floral headpiece. Next year, I’m making her one before we go. We end the day dancing with the fairies at the front gate.
    We follow up with dinner at Bread Co, and the 30 minute drive home.


  • We skip church.
  • Instead, we go out to breakfast (IHOP), because we have no food in the house. Not even milk.
  • Then we go grocery shopping.
  • We spent some time cleaning the house and doing laundry, and then convincing everyone to take a nap. Trystan required a short ride in the (new) car.
  • We made hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill for dinner, and ate outside on the deck. We were just finishing our last bites when it started to sprinkle.
  • We wrapped the evening with a movie—Barbie as Repunzel. It was quite cute. I hadn’t known what to expect from the Barbie movies until we checked one out from the library a year or so ago. They are very girl-power oriented, with good messages for little girls. This one centered on encouraging creativity and imagination, plus the importance of talking out problems instead of resorting to violence (two warring kingdoms...there were more male characters in this one than most of them).


  • Rain. The neighborhood pool was open, but we weren’t going.
  • We went to the St. Louis Science Center instead. It was the first time we’ve taken the kids there (except for one trip with my mom & baby sister when Charlotte was a couple of months old). They had a great time, and there were plenty of things to learn and climb (have we mentioned that Trystan’s a very physical kid ). We were exceedingly nice and bought them a Build-a-bear dinosaur to share.
  • Lunch at Il Vicino’s in Clayton. Trystan ate an entire small pizza by himself. Charlotte requested and ate a salad, with only a tiny slice of pizza. And she prefers regular olive oil to flavored, for dipping bread. The kid has a very grown-up palate.
    Then we drove to IL to celebrate Hubby’s father’s birthday. Playtime with the cousins, dinner, cake & ice cream. Lots of tickles and giggles. Too bad it was pouring outside, or the kids could have tried out their cousins’ new swing set. Next time I’m sure.
  • They both fell asleep in the car on the way home. We didn’t last long either.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the mouths of babes

Just before kids learn how to talk, parents often wonder what's going through their heads. At 26 months, Trystan isn't just learning to talk, but he is beginning to share more and more of what's on his mind. Instead of just crying, he will tell us what the problem is. And instead of just pointing, he will request an object or treat by name. And sometimes, his thoughts are just hilarious.

Last night at the dinner table, he pushed his plate away and demanded, "Done! Potty! Down!". Now, we first asked about the "potty" part, and he denied any desire to use the restroom or have a diaper change. "Potty" for him sometimes means "I want to do something else."

The rest of us were still eating, so I asked what he wanted to do if he got down. "Run around in circles," he said. Clear as day.

"You want to run around in circles?" I asked, repeating his words to make sure I got them straight.

He nodded an emphatic yes, and then repeated his request. I think he waved his hand in a circle, too, for emphasis.

I bent over laughing. Couldn't help it. First time the kid asks my (practically rhetorical) question and he comes up with such a crackpot answer.

We wiped his hands and face and let him down from the table.

And you know what? He ran around in circles. Around the table, around the island, and then around the living room, laughing the whole time.

Darn it if he wasn't telling the truth.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A sick blonde story.

Yesterday, I bought a book for my daughter from Walgreens. Not my normal bookstore, but it was one she'd like and fairly inexpensive, and I was running out of aisles to wander while I waited for my antibiotic prescription to be filled.

When I went to pay, I whipped out my debit card, slid it through the machine, and totally blanked on my pin number. Totally. Blanked. The card is newish, but I assigned the same pin number from a previous debit card, one that I've been comfortable using for about five years now. Completely gone. I could remember the number for a separate card in my wallet, but I knew that it was wrong. Finally my fingers summoned a number and I punched it in.

Denied. The wrong number. Yikes, that's embarassing. I quickly pulled out my other card--the one whose number I did know--paid, and left. In the car I remembered both the correct number, and from where in the depths of my brain I'd pulled the incorrect number. The incorrect number is what I use on certain doors at work that require an access code. Not even money related. I blame the whole incident on the infection for which I was attempting to purchase a cure.

This morning, my husband and I had a date at Schnucks. No, not really. We arrived at the title company way too early for the closing for our mortage refi. Finally. Finally we closed, I mean. Not finally we arrived, since, as I already said, we were early.

The title place was in a strip mall with a grocery store, and I was hungry. Not surprising, given my inability to choke down much over the past day and a half. It took me half an hour of whole-body motion to swallow a single soft taco last night. And my brilliant self thought that a donut sounded good this morning. Not just any donut, but a heavy cakey donut with chocolate icing.

So, hubby and I are in the self-checkout lane attempting to purchase one donut and two cold beverages while I was telling him about my pin-number fiasco at Walgreens. I swiped my card, typed in the (correct) pin number, requested cash back, and kept chatting while the screen blinked "Please Wait". The helpful clerk came over after a minute or so to point out that I'd forgotten to tell the kiosk that I was ready to pay. I guess just swiping your card isn't clue enough.

I finally pushed enough buttons on enough different screens to make the purchase legal. At the prompt "Do you want cash back?" my fingers suddenly swelled to about four times their normal diameter and nudged the wrong button. No, I didn't personally see the swelling, and it was gone as soon as the damage was done, but there is no other explanation. No cash for me.

At least I got my donut. I'm still working on it, btw. 5 hours and I'm close to finishing 1/4 of it. Amazingly, I finished 1/2 of a toasted sub sandwich with bacon with little pain, but chocolate icing is just murder on a raw throat. Who knew.

I think the moral of the story is that you shouldn't go shopping while sick. Or, never let a blonde use a debit card. Or perhaps my card is rebelling against purchasing books and donuts. Or it really didn't care to part with its money.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Normally by Monday i'm brimming with blog post ideas. So many that I end up emailing them to myself to etiher finish or post later, so that I'm not wasting much time at work. This Monday, not so much. I remember feeling kind of mellow, but not inspired to write anything. Or rather, not energetic enough. That should have been a sign.

Trystan had a rough night Sunday night. He slept half the night in our bed, coughing hard. Some kids night-time cough medicine (which appears to contain mostly Benadryl) helped. In the morning he was ok, so we sent him to school. I guess the coughing came back with a vengence, and my husband picked the kids up and schlepped them to Mofallon to the pediatrician's office. And returned bearing three separate prescriptions: antibiotics, for the double-ear infection, and a steroid and albuterol for his wheezing and coughing. When he gets a bad cold, it gets to his chest, and he's probably asthmatic. (a word that I may or may not know how to spell)

So, I warned coworkers that I'd be off the next day, and headed home, and my own head started to feel like it was stuffed full of marshmallows. A sure sign that I'm coming down with something. Then my throat started to feel scratchy.

Suffice it to say that the scratchy throat got progressively worse yesterday. By late afternoon I tried calling my husband to get him to pick up Charlotte from school, but he has a lot of catch-up to do from leaving early. I probably shouldn't have been driving, but we did ok. By that point, I was alternately hot and cold, and flushed, and feeling like I should be horizontal. Around 5:30 I checked my temperature. 101.6. And I'd taken 2 ibuprofin about 45 minutes earlier.

The moment my husband got home from work, I headed to bed, and stayed there all night. I think the fever mostly broke sometime before 10. And around 2am I decided not to have another dose of ibuprofin, since I didn't believe it was doing anything. I was wrong. I took more at 5:30 and stopped using my entire body to swallow.

So, I'm home sick again today. I should be at work, but I'm in no shape for it. I can barely talk, I can't eat anything that isn't icy cold and liquid, and my throat is all yucky looking. Not the way I wanted to start off Memorial Day weekend.

I had been planning to be off on Friday, plus Thursday since we're closing on our mortgage re-fi then (finally!). But I'm thinking that I'm going in on Friday instead, to save myself a sick day. I just hope no one in my workgroup is waiting on me for anything, or they'll be waiting till Friday or Tuesday.

For lunch, I'm already thinking DQ....skipping the burger and going straight for the ice cream.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Got a nickname?

Mine was always just the short version of my name. Kris or Krissy.
Around the 5th grade I decided that it was silly to call me Krissy when
there was only 1 S in my given name. So I named myself Kristi. Short
for Kristina.

With Charlotte, I tried calling her Charlie (a la Top Gun, you know).
Somehow, Char has stuck instead.

And now comes Trystan. Believe it or not, there are 2 Trystan's in his
daycare class. Technically, the other is Tristen. With the same last
initial even. There are 3 in the daycare as a whole. And I thought I
was being unique.

A week or so ago, one of the teachers told me that they had given my son
a nickname, to distinguish him from the other Tristen. They didn't
shorten his name to Tryst (which isn't probably appropriate for a
toddler, LOL) or Stan. They decided to shorten <i>him</i>. Tiny. They
wanted to nickname him Tiny.

I think its not uncommon to give a nickname that's the opposite of what
the person is--so "Tiny" would be someone who is huge. Except Trystan
isn't huge. He's tiny. As in, falling off the bottom of the growth
chart in height and weight. Outsized by kids half his age. Literally.
Our pediatrician has said that she's going to watch his growth over the
next year or two, and we might be talking to an endocrinologist about
stimulating his growth. Personally, I believe its genetic--he's
actually bigger than his sister at the same age, and she actually went
up a few notches on the curve as she got older. But he is the smallest
in his class.

Kids, and boys in particular, who are smaller frequently end up picked
on. Add a diminutive nickname to the mess, and it's a recipe for low
self esteem or worse. And, like "Char", if we allow the name to start
now, he'll carry it until he changes schools around pre-k or
kindergarten. That's too much Tiny for us.

One of the teachers called him Tiny in front of me yesterday, and I
asked her, as politely but firmly as I could, to please find him a
different name. She actually pouted. I think she's older than I am,
and she pouted at being asked to find a way to support a growing kid's
self esteem instead of diminish it.

The other Tristen is nearly 3, and will then transition out of my
Trystan's class. Maybe then, my son can re-capture his name. Until
then, hopefully they'll go with T-man, or T-Rex, or even Blondie or
Towhead. Something not quite so belittling.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend Recap

We had a nice weekend. A really nice weekend.

Friday after work, we picked the kids up from daycare and drove directly to the zoo for their Zoo Friends day. We caught the sea lion show (the first for me and the kids) and then we found a table and ate a picnic dinner—sandwiches, grapes, chips & homemade salsa leftover from Cinco de Mayo. We wanted to see the new sting ray exhibit, but the line wrapped halfway to the Art Museum, so we checked out the penguins and bears and a few other animals and then left. We stopped by Dairy Queen on the way home for Blizzards. Yum.

Saturday morning we first did a little Mothers Day craft project. I used iron-on transfer sheets to put photos of the kiddos on canvas tote bags. Then we had each kid put a handprint on each bag with fabric paint. Trystan and Charlotte each got a bag of their own to just paint, and we had to forcibly restrain them from painting the whole house with glitter.

Later, I did a bit more yardwork. This year, for the first time since, oh, early 2004, our yard is looking nice. Most of the flower beds are relatively free of weeds, and stocked with freshly growing plants. We have a mini pumpkin patch growing in our former vegetable patch. Well, I guess it’s not a "former" veggie patch if it’s full of pumpkins. We emptied our compost bin onto the patch, in which we had composted our Halloween pumpkins, and seeds don’t actually break down in soil. They sprout. Anyway, we had no set plans for the spot, so this ought to be fun.

Speaking of the compost bin, anyone want one? Its black, about 3 foot cube—four sides plus a top (no bottom—worm access). It doesn’t really fit in our yard at the moment (a new little swing set has taken over) and our city started offering free yardwaste pickup, so the bin’s become obsolete for us. I’ll probably attempt to Freecycle it soon, just to get it out of the yard.

I have one more garden bed that needs serious help. It now has three gaping holes where plants used to be, plus the trunk of an evergreen that I never planted and seem to be allergic to (juniper maybe)—The branches are gone, but I still have to find a saw to get the rest of the trunk out of there. After that, we need to remove the rocks, re-route the border, and make it into next year’s veggie patch. That’s the plan for now.

After fighting the juniper Saturday, I broke out in hives from fingertips to elbows, so I took a Benadryl. It’s the only stuff that works for that kind of thing for me, and it knocks me out. So I took a nap.

Saturday evening we all went to Sams Club for diapers, more of the recycled plastic-bag stepping stones, and steak. And then we went home and made dinner. I wrapped up the evening watching National Treasure: Book of Secrets on-demand, while my hubby played computer games. I made it to bed before he did.

Sunday morning, hubby made us breakfast, and we went to church. Afterwards, we went to a Mother’s Day Tea at the Butterfly House in Faust Park with my in-laws and sister-in-law’s family. We all ate lots of little sandwiches, and way too many chocolate-covered strawberries and other desserts. A photographer from the Post-Dispatch captured a cute photo of my niece here. The butterflies were beautiful, even the pair that landed on my bare shin and stayed there for nearly 10 minutes before I managed to carefully shoo them away. I took pictures. One day I may even post some of them.

Neither child took much of a nap at all. Despite that, last night we got together with friends for chaotic playtime and take-out. Bedtime was mostly normal, except for a yucky poop-in-the-tub incident. I hate those. They always involve an extra scrub of the kid, the tub, and every toy in the place. Definitely the high point of my mother’s day.

So to recap: wild things, hives, too much food, not enough naps. Yep, it was a nice weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day smiles

My daughter's pre-k class put together a cookbook. As a group, they made different recipes every day. Each student also dictated a recipe to the teachers. Here's Charlottes:

First,have some steak gummies on the grill. But first we fire up the grill and then put some pepper on and then we spread it out and then leave it on. The temperature is 6--pull off the bottom. Then stick the temperature stick into the steak. Put the cap back on hthen when its ready, put it on the table. Pray first, then we eat it!

On the card that Charlotte made me at school for Mother's Day, it says "I love my mom because she makes the pancakes!".

Monday, May 04, 2009

You know its spring...

...when you are repeatedly threatened by small feathered creatures who
suspect you of threatening their young.

We have a robin in our backyard who was not happy with us yesterday.
I'd seen the start of a nest up under the deck last week. There must be
eggs now, because she was quite insistent in her displeasure. And very
close. I think at one point, she cheeped at Trystan from a distance of
about 3 feet, maybe 2. Little did she know that 1) Of all the bipedal
mammals in her territory, he is the most likely to hurt her (he's a
toddler, and a boy, and exceedingly curious about the "duck" as he
called her), and 2) As his momma, there is no way on God's green
earth that she would have attacked my baby and lived to cheep
about it.

The funny thing was, during most of this confrontation, I was grilling
chicken. If she only knew what we did to birds in our house, perhaps
she would have hunkered down in that nest and tried to keep a low

Then today, during my lunchtime walk at work, I passed two separate
goose families. Each had 2 parents, and 2 or 3 goslings, pecking at the
grass for food. One parent in each group stood guard while the others
ate. The goslings were cute. I kept my distance.

The tricky part was that they were on opposite sides of the same street,
and I had to walk between them. And it was lunchtime, so there was
traffic (it's a street connecting buildings and parking lots, and the
people were hungry also). I had to explain to one nice gentleman in a
car who was trying to wait for me to cross the road that I really didn't
care to be attacked by an overprotective goose. Those things are big,
and I was unarmed.