Monday, July 31, 2006

IQ Test

Tonight Ryan assembed the Baby Einstein Exersaucer or whatever they call it. It's like an IQ test for adults, to see if we can put it together. I failed the test, got frustrated and pouted. Ryan stepped in and finished the job. Seriously, the instructions were not in English. They were in Pictionary. :(

Anyway, it's done and Lauren likes it. Her little toes don't quite reach the ground yet in it but since she can sit up now, she can be in it. She spent a long time exploring the rings tonight, and pressing the buttons to make different sounds. She got this intense look of concentration on her face which her Daddy said makes her look like Grandpa (who was upstairs at that moment fixing the drier).

This past weekend Lauren had a great time with 2 of her boyfriends. On Saturday she hung out with "the European guy" (he is 3 weeks younger) and his family. They napped together and she played with his toys and slept in his pram. He didn't mind. It must be love. Then on Sunday, she went to the 1 year birthday party of "the older guy". He had another girlfriend there as well, and some other babies. It was a swimming party and Lauren got in the kiddie pool early on and stayed splashing for awhile. She was fearless and didn't mind getting wet. She was the only girl in the pool.

Wah, my cordless keyboard is crapping out on me so I'm going to end this painstakingly written post now. More later...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Teething and Shots, Oh My!

Lauren went to the doctor today to get her 4 month shots. (She'll be 4 months on Tuesday.) She got 3 and she didn't cry for the 1st one, and only a little for the 2nd two. She was very brave. Afterwards, she was okay and then she fell asleep, then woke up when we shopped at Trader Joe's. She loves loves shopping at the grocery store.

But back to the doctor's office-she weighed 17 1/2 pounds! Still off the charts and very healthy. Oddly, she had not grown in length since 2 weeks ago when she was there for her cold, which makes me think they measured incorrectly either that time or this time because she seems taller and she's outgrown some onesies, by length. Her doctor thinks at this rate, she will outgrow her carseat by 7 months. We already bought the next sized one, just in case, but we still have to buy one more for the second car. We want to buy the Britax Decathlon. So far we found a cheap used Britax Roundabout for $60 on Craig's list so we bought that to have as our second carseat (right now 3rd, but I mean, 2nd when we get rid of the other 2. We'll figure out which car we use least and put it in there to replace her infant seat.) The Decathlon is about $300 with tax and shipping.

2 other firsts for Lauren-she has her first 2 teeth (at once)! They're the front 2 on the bottom. They're coming in and have pushed past the gums. She also rolled over for the first time. Both things happened yesterday. And today she had her first nightmare, or at least the first one we knew about where she woke up crying. We're almost positive she dreamed about getting shots. :(

Friday, July 21, 2006

For Nippy, 1993-2006

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am a diamond glint on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight
I am the soft starshine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not here. I did not die.

(poem by Mary Frye)

Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. Nippy died this morning. He had been suffering and was not himself for the past year or more. He had arthritus in his back and had lost control of his bowels and urine. He could no longer jump up and follow us around the house or sit and beg for treats. Always a house dog, he spent the last year of his life living in the garage and yard because he made too many messes.

I still remember the day we got him as a puppy. It was the summer after my junior year in high school and our cat had run away. My parents said we could get a dog and some breeds discussed were German Shepherds and Black Labradors. When I saw 2 puppies at the pet store that were half German Shepherd and half Black Lab, I ran home to tell my parents. My dad went back to the store with me to look. He got this completely enchanted look on his face when he held Nippy, who was calmer than his brother and completely black. We went home to ask Mom if we could get him. She reluctantly agreed that we could bring him home "for Peter" who was in NY for the week, and was still upset about losing the cat.

We went back and paid I think $60 for the puppy and another $100 or so for treats, food, a collar, leash, and what they said was his favorite toy (a rubber bone which we could never get him to play with). We took him home and he followed us around the house, especially my dad. He got into all kinds of mischief. The first day home, he walked onto the pool cover and had to be rescued from drowning. Peter got home from his trip and decided to name the dog Nippy because he was always nipping at people's heels. He also "nipped" Peter's brand new leather soccer cleats.

At first he used to spend his nights in the garage, in part that was sectioned off from the rest. Every morning we'd find him outside his section. He'd taken items and moved them into piles to make steps, then climbed the steps to get out. Smart dog! I used to take him on long walks around the hills in our neighbor hood to burn off his puppy energy. Once this worked too well and on the way back up a hill, he stopped in a neighbor's grass and rolled on to his back and took a snooze. I had to carry him home.

There were so many tricks he knew-"sit", "Lie down", "come" "stay" "Left paw", "right paw", and "roll over". The thing was, he was smart enough to do these tricks only if he had adequate compensation. He also learned other key words in English. We taught him "no, that's chocolate" meant he would never have a chance at getting a bite so he might as well not beg. "Go see _____" and he would go see the person named.

Friendly does not even begin to describe his personality. He used to run away so many times that my parents had a pixelated photo and "lost dog" ad copy on file at the newspaper so they could run the ad with just a phone call. One time he followed a jogger home, ran right into her house and got in bed with her 3 kids! They were disappointed they could not keep him. Another time he found a new home and got a new name-"Blackie". When I went to pick up "Blackie", the guy who found him started to ask me questions to prove I was his owner, when he ran over, jumped up and licked my face, ran past me, jumped through the open window of my car and sat down in the back seat with his paw on the arm rest as if to say "take me home"!

The last time he ever ran (far) away, I was in college and working and taking care of him by myself while my parents were living near Sacramento. He'd been gone for a few days and I kept calling the animal shelter to see if he was there. Finally someone told me they had no mixed black dogs but one "purebred black Lab". I decided to go take a look. Sure enough, it was him. He was sitting in his cage and as soon as he saw me, he barked excitedly and tried doing every trick he knew. He sat, offered his left paw, then his right, lied down, and tried to roll over but the cage wasn't big enough so he tilted left, then tilted right, then sat again. When I finally bailed him out, he dragged me towards the grass where another dog was out meeting potential adopters. I thought "great, he's going to start a fight". No, he had not gone to the bathroom in 3 days so he really really had to go for about 5 minutes! After that, 1)he stayed close to home and didn't run far away again. He'd done his "time behind bars" and it reformed him! 2) we didn't worry that he'd been left too long and might have made a mess in the house. We knew he could hold it for 3 days! (Well, until he got old and got arthritis)

He loved people but did not always get along so well with other dogs. He was like the hyper ADD kid with no social skills. Once and only once, we took him to Dog Beach. I was holding his leash when he took off after another dog, dragging me a good 10 feet in the sand. We looked like Elizabeth and Clifford the Big Red Dog. When Dad stopped laughing, he helped me get Nippy back in the car. We turned right around and went home and never tried dog parks again.

My mom was worried for a long time that Nippy would not be good with cats, because the black Lab next door had killed our neighbor's cat. So for the first 5 years of his life or so, she didn't have a cat; he was an "only pet". Then one day he went out at night and didn't come home. Mom figured he was visiting our neighbor, June, who served her dogs, and Nippy as a dinner guest, expensive dog food. She thought maybe he was spending the night there. She heard him barking, and June also heard him barking. In the morning June came out to see what the fuss was about. Nippy was in the brush halfway between June's house and our house. He walked over to June holding a kitten by the scruff of its neck and let her back to where 2 other kittens were. All night he had been standing watch over them, guarding them from coyotes.
June took the kittens to the vet and found homes for them.

After that, Mom didn't worry that Nippy would kill a kitten, and she adopted Bert. Bert and Nippy got along so well that we nicknamed Nippy the "kitty-momma". "Kitty-momma" and Bert would nap curled up together. Bert used to eat Nippy's dog food out of the same bowl at the same time. We have a picture of their 2 little faces at the bowl. When Bert went outside, Nippy used to follow him to make sure no wild animals came near. When Bert wanted to come in and scratched at the door, Nippy would bark to make sure Mom let him in. As Bert got older and more independant, he didn't sleep next to Nippy anymore, but the 2 would always be in the same room and Nippy would still bark to let Mom know if Bert needed the door opened.

When I used to visit as an adult, he'd still sleep in bed with me. Then later when Mom decided she didn't really want him in the guest room, he'd sleep in her room as usual but first thing in the morning when she opened the door, he'd dash out and sit by the guest room door waiting for me to wake up. I used to brush him. He loved that, it was a special treat for him. He could be brushed for hours (and hair would still come out hours later, he was a great shedder!)

He hated suitcases and used to bark at them, because he knew that they meant someone was going on a trip and leaving him. When Peter was packing to go to Yale, Nippy came up with a plan to get him to stay. The luggage was out on the floor, halfway packed, and Nippy pushed everything under the bed to hide it. It didn't work, obviously, Peter left anyway.

Nippy had, on the balance, one bad year of suffering (alleviated, though, by painkillers) and twelve wonderful years living a loved, charmed life. I will miss him terribly, though. I've known this day was coming for awhile, tried to prepare myself but it's never easy. In spite of my best efforts to only remember the good times, tears are still streaming down my face.

Rest in peace, Nippy.

Cute little Lauren things

I have been accused by my husband of spending way too much blog space writing on about "pointless things" like my hair and not enough about Lauren. The thing is, that day I had a lot of free time to write on and on and hair was on my mind. Most of my Lauren posts are done post-haste (ha ha) with one hand and her in the other (like right now). I try to economize words b/c I get tired, and if I'm thinking about her, I'd rather be playing with her. Anyway, she is up to some pretty cute stuff these days. I took a vacation day today and we have big plans to walk to downtown Culver City and go shopping. While she naps I am going to upload more new photos of her and order some prints.

One of the cute things she's been up to is she now knows the game "where's Mommy's nose?". I used to ask her that and move her hand to my nose, then "where's Mommy's chin?", etc. Now she can find, on her own, my eyes, mouth, chin, cheeks, forehead, hair and *sometimes* my ear. For some reason she thinks my ear is the same as my cheek. Anyway, it was at first impressive that she even reached out at all when I said "touch my nose". I would help her find it with her hand. Now she can find it on her own and she can also take out her pacifier on her own and put it back in her mouth (sometimes wrong side up though and this frustrates her!). This is really impressive for not even being 4 months old!

Another trick of hers is she says "uh-uh" when she means no sometimes. I ask her "Lauren are you hungry?" and she says "uh-uh" when she's not! She also told my dad "HEY!" when she had a poopy diaper, like "hey guy, CHANGE ME!".

She is at a great age for visitors because she loves new faces (and may touch your nose!) and doesn't have stranger anxiety yet. She can hold up her own head so it's not as scary to hold her (for non-baby "I might break her" types). And she makes great babbling sounds which can be interpreted by those who are so inclined, as phrases in a foreign language. "She just said 'it's cold outside' in Swaheli!"

Anyway, that's the latest and greatest Lauren update. Now we are off to have our shower (me) and bath (her) and go shopping. She loves shopping and can shop for hours without so much as a pout (unlike her Daddy!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bargain Stores

Lisa, this one's for you. You asked about GTM, so here's the link. Everyone else, if you're ever in San Diego, you should check out this place. Oh, and if you want to know where to get a good deal on something, ask my brother. He is really spectacular, the king of online bargains. GTM is one of the few b & m stores he frequents. Anyway, there is a store in Santee (also one in Lemon Grove) where Costco sends their returned & overstocked items. In some ways, it is like a giant 99 cent store, but with slightly nicer things.

Deals I have gotten: $10.99 for a 72-pack of Huggies diapers. $32 for a brushed nickel faucet set. $1.99 for Kirkland brand contact lens solution. $.40 each for bottles of Perrier water. My parents got their giant TV there, and we sometimes buy DVDs as well. I could go on, but I won't. Anyway, if you go, check the website first for a coupon, they sometimes have 30% off anything in the store.

Victor on Venice

There's this new apartment complex going up right near me, called Victor on Venice. I'm shocked and amazed that they're asking $3,000 a month for a 2-bedroom apartment. It's brand new, so it has that going for it, but it faces busy, noisy Venice Blvd. So since we're a block away, still in the same neighborhood but not close to that noise, can we charge MORE for our place? (All hypothetical at this point since we are living in it, thus not able to rent it out)

Here's a link, though, from their web page showing restaurants and things to walk to nearby. I include it on this blog so next time you friends are coming over, you know where we can eat and what else we might do.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lauren has a cold

Lauren's caught a cold. Took her to the doctor this morning and it was confirmed. But luckily, that's *all* it is, no ear infection, no bronchitis. She's still as happy and chattering as much as usual, but not eating as much, and she's breathing out of her mouth and making little gremlin sounds. They said she is too young to give any medicine to; she's only allowed to have Ocean saline spray in her nose and I'm supposed to run a cold humidifier. I bought the humidifier on the way home and guess where it was made? Hudson, New York! I never knew there was a Vick's division in Hudson.

Oh, and she is still off the charts for height and weight, weighing in at a hefty 16 pounds, 9 1/2 ounces, and measuring almost 2 foot 2 (she's 25 1/2 inches long).

Oh and back to the cold, the doctor thinks I will catch this in a few days, from Lauren breastfeeding (instead of the other way around, my breastfeeding is supposed to protect her by giving her my antibodies so she doesn't get sick!), and that Lauren will get worse before she gets better. She'll probably have a fever on Sunday or Monday. But she is still allowed to go in the pool at Nonnon and Grandpa's house, as long as she doesn't get her face wet. So that's good.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

If It's Brown, Flush It Down

Or any other color, for that matter. Gross, I was just in the restroom in my office building and someone didn't flush. Yuck. And this has happened more than once. Can people not take the extra 2 seconds to do this? It can't even be that whole "if it's yellow, let it mellow" philosophy because people have to realize that OTHER people don't follow that and they're just going to flush it anyway before they go. Meanwhile it will stink up the bathroom. Sorry for the oversharing, but that was on my mind.

And on a related note-it is not a good sign when you walk into a public restroom and see that each stall has no fewer than 4 GIANT rolls of toilet paper. This means they will not come and change the paper frequently. (As evidenced in my office)


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Buffalo Milk Yogurt

On Sunday I tried some buffalo milk yogurt from Whole Foods. It was yummy. I'm still thinking about it (maybe b/c I'm really HUNGRY for dinner right now!) Tasted richer than regular yogurt and was more filling. Had the consistency of cream cheese. Very tasty. :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yay, no cavities!

I just got back from the dentist, and I don’t have any cavities. Phew! My new dentist is great and I’m pleased with him. Alex recommended the guy, Ryan’s been going to him for a few years now, but I just finally made the switch in January. Until then I was going to this con artist guy in Westwood near Kinkos (I will tell anyone the name of the place if you ask but I don’t want to print it here for fear of slander/libel charges by bad-mouthing him in a public forum). He kept billing my insurance for all kinds of things I never had done, like fluoride treatments and specialist consultations. He also kept trying to get me to whiten my teeth. Those of you who know me probably don’t think of me as “that girl with the yellow/brown teeth”; my point is, I did not need that done! (And if I were interested in teeth whitening, I would have explored whitening toothpaste first, before getting his expensive laser treatments!)

Despite all of his billing scams and upcharging, I kept going to “Dr. Evil” because I was too lazy to change dentists. But the last straw was when I went in November for a cleaning and the office tried to tell me I owed $100 for 2 co-pays because I have 2 insurances. No, sorry, first of all I get 2 free cleanings a year just from *1* insurance, secondly, you would never pay MORE because you’re double insured. This makes sense all you readers, right? I tried to tell the office manager, fine, then just ignore the second insurance. Bill it all to the first one, forget I even have 2. But she said "no, it's already in our computer system". Huh?! Dr. Evil also tried to tell me I had a very small cavity but that he could fill it without anesthesia (since I was pregnant at the time) and I wouldn't feel it. The whole thing was very fishy, each time I went.

Anyway, the GOOD dentist who is NICE and HONEST is Dr. Brent Maiden. We like him. He told me that the little spot on my tooth was NOT a cavity. Furthermore, my gums are fine, I didn’t need the Arestin therapy Dr. Evil was always pushing me to get, and my teeth are very white, whitening would not do much. Such a relief to just go to a doctor who seems concerned about the health of my teeth and not obsessed with squeezing out every penny from me and both of my insurance companies. =)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Million Dollar Doggie

Jake went to the vet today to get his teeth brushed (they have to do this under anesthesia), get his shots and get his nails clipped.  Ryan took him and he paid $347.72.  Wow.  This got me thinking about how, although we do love Jake very much and consider him to be priceless, there is an actual price if you consider all of the bills we've paid for him over the past 2 years.  So l looked for all of the receipts I could find in the "Jake folder" and I came up with a total, just of vet bills and not counting some dog food, toys, treats, and visits to the groomer.  That total is $2, 457.79.  I'm sure the figure is well over $3,000 adding in those expenses.  Also, there are receipts missing; I haven't kept every single one.
You can never explain to anyone the love of your pet.  It is truly a wonderful experience everyone should be able to have, but as you can see, not everyone can afford it.  Think carefully before you get a dog or cat because you will end up paying a lot for them.  You will do it gladly and without thinking twice about it, but your wallet will be much lighter for it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lauren, out and about

Lauren's had a busy and fun weekend around town. Saturday we just hung out around home but on Sunday night she went on a picnic in Manhattan Beach and got to see Mark and Kate again. Mark even held her and from what I hear, this is a special treat because he's a bit babyphobic. She liked his lap, though. Maybe it's because he's a fellow redhead (we don't know yet what color her hair will be but it looks reddish/auburn lately). There was live music, which she loves.

Then today, she went to Chatsworth to see Masooma and her family. Masooma's mom and sisters watched her while we went to lunch, and she was delighted to be there. (No matter which way you take that, the mom was also delighted to be watching her b/c she loves babies!) While we were out, Masooma bought her a new dress which is coral colored and very pretty. (And we had very good Greek food at Alexis restaurant in Northridge. Yum!)

Then on the way back, we stopped to visit Bhagwan & Swati & Paheli & Saransh. She was a big hit there, too. Lots of giggles today and no tears! She's asleep as I type this. Making new friends is fun but tiring!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Battle of the fleas

Ew, this morning when cuddling with Jake noticed not one, not two but *four* fleas on him! Then worse, we noticed a turd on the floor. He had not been out for his customary walk the night before. I couldn't walk him because I was by myself with Lauren, then I fell asleep before Ryan got home so I couldn't tell Ryan he needed to go out. Usually Jake will make this clear himself by whining and scratching and jumping in little circles, but he'd also fallen asleep. So I had a little pile to clean up this morning, luckily, without getting graphic on you guys, let's just say it could have been much worse and it didn't leave any stains.

Anyway, so this morning after the flea and turd discovery, Ryan took him over to the dog park and then to the groomer (we always reward him first with dog park for suffering through the grooming, plus we figure it's a great chance for him to get really sweaty and dirty first before his bath). On the way to the groomer, he threw up in Ryan's car. Meanwhile I was at home washing all of the bedding down to the matress pad in hot water, vacuuming, washing his dog bed and all of the blankets & towels in his kennel, etc. I had to clean that up when Ryan got home, and Jake ended up having to go in his kennel at home for several hours because the groomers could not take him until afternoon and we did not want the fleas to migrate to the freshly de-fleaed parts of the house. He got his flea bath and Ryan bought Advantage or Frontline (I haven't looked in the bag yet) and the whole bill cost $100. Ouch!

I am getting itchy thinking about fleas and of course it's psychosematic-he's probably had them for awhile and only now that I know of their existance I'm imagining little bites. But I betcha *you* are getting itchy just reading this!