Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sharpie Time…


I’ve been known to make a mistake or two, and today was no exception. Justin got up early to take his shower this morning, and I had to go downstairs to get a few things ready for work. That meant Robbie had to be left alone upstairs for a few minutes. I took a page from The Extraordinary Mothers Handbook and turned on an episode of Sesame Street. I naively figured that it would keep him busy for a good ten minutes.

About seven minutes into the endeavor, something started falling from the third floor. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that Robbie was throwing Cold-Eze lozenges from the railing on the third floor onto the steps; they then bounced down to the second floor and landed near my feet. I could hear the giggles and movement of little feet and figured it was time for me to go up to investigate.

I found Robbie in the hallway with a hand full of lozenges. He offered them to me with a huge grin on his face, barely able to control his giggles. It wasn’t the Cold-Eze that grabbed my attention; it was my son’s blue hands. My eyes moved up his body and slowly took in his face. His bright blue face.

The entire right side of Robbie’s face was covered in teal marker. I’m not sure why the first move after uncapping a marker is always the face, but it is at the Manna house. I went into the bedroom, hoping to discover what marker Robbie had used. I won’t lie; I was relieved to see that the marker wasn’t on my bed seeping onto my new duvet cover. Robbie had kindly placed it back in the top drawer of my nightstand. It was a Sharpie.

Permanent marker. All over my child’s face and hands. I could just hear the lecture, tinged with a Chinese accent. I wondered if it would fade by the time my father-in-law arrives next week. And then I called to Justin to bring me a wet towel. And my camera. After all, what good is Sharpie all over the face if you can’t get it on camera?


Snow, Ice, Sleet, and Rain


It should have been a snow day. It totally should have been called. But, it wasn’t. And it’s one less day I have to go to school in June. That being said… The driving was absolutely atrocious today. It took me an hour and a half to get to work. That was nothing compared to Justin’s commute. He never made it to work. After five hours in the car. And another two to get back home.

I have no idea how all the teachers in the world knew about the snow storm but no one in charge of snow removal knew. It baffles me. And you’d think they would have figured it out by 2:25 this afternoon when I left work. Nope. Slush and ice and snow everywhere. From the time I left work to the time I arrived (including a daycare pick-up), another hour and a half had passed. But, we made it safely.

While we were on our way home, Justin got to work shoveling (he really is the perfect husband!). Unfortunately, his bad day just continued to get worse (I don’t think I can post his actual explanation for the day). He tried to pull the car all the way in the driveway, and it got stuck. Majorly stuck. Stuck to the point where it has battle wounds from the escape – scratches all over the driver’s side. I don’t particularly think it’s terrible, but Justin’s pretty upset about it.

Knowing he’d be upset, Robbie and I practiced, “Daddy, I love you.” It came out, “Da-ee, I you.” But, hey, it’s a start!

Grapes of Robbie


Robbie has gone through so many fruits: bananas, apples, and oranges. He over-indulges in them, eating them any time he gets the opportunity to. And then he burns out and doesn’t want them any more. I noticed last week that he seemed just about finished with the orange stage, and today he discovered his replacement food. Grapes.

I gave Robbie some grapes with his dinner last night, and he seemed to like them well enough. Only half of them wound up on the floor. I thought I’d try again this morning, and, as soon as he finished his bowl of grapes and oyster crackers, he brought it to me, urging, “More!” He finished the entire bag of grapes.

At the grocery store, I bought more grapes (and apples and bananas). I didn’t think much about it until we got home, and I started putting everything away once we got home. I turned around, and there he was. In front of the refrigerator. Opening the fruit bin. Grabbing grapes and shoving them in his mouth. He turned around when I called his name in surprise and just grinned. And then he offered me a grape.

New Hampshire or Bust


We set the alarms for 5:55 Saturday morning and were out of the house by 6:40. The GPS was set, the gas tank was loaded, and the coffee was hot. The baby was a little cranky, but we plowed on. Conversation flowed as we headed to New Hampshire, and we pulled in the parking lot at the Murphy’s house at 9:03. And, by 9:40, Justin and Fran were on the road to Killington, Vermont for a day of skiing. We made it, and the weekend was not ruined.

Our bank account, on the other hand, was a different story. Just before Justin left to ski, Jack, our mechanic, called about the car. I’ve only met him once (I needed to meet the man who replaced our beloved George, who moved back to Lebanon; Jack told me I could call him George if it made me feel better). As I re-introduced myself over the phone, Jack reassured me that he knew exactly who I was and that he appreciated the nice note I left for him. I’ve learned that it is incredible important to make a personal connection with ANYONE who helps make your life easier. It’s also imperative to be polite, as anything that goes wrong in my life is not their fault.

But, back to the conversation with Jack. He found that the problem was indeed the battery of the car, and he had really hoped that he’d be able to make my day with a relatively easy fix. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. It turns out that the battery had been bad for quite a while. Therefore, the alternator was working over time to charge the battery. And, you guessed it, the alternator was shot. Instead of charging 14V, the highest Jack could get it to charge was 10V. He told me that he could just replace the battery, but that would be dead within six months if I didn’t replace the alternator as well. The tab? A mere $658. $221 for the battery. $329 for the alternator. $100 for the labor. And a little for the government. Great.

Justin took the news in stride. After all, we need the car to be working, and one $658 payment is a lot less expensive than 48 $350 car payments. So, my buddy Jack got to work on the car and had it ready in three hours.

After getting the blow about our car, I headed to my friend Abby’s house. She has a seven-month-old little boy, James, and we figured it was time for Robbie to show him the ropes of being a little boy. Robbie definitely showed James how it was done. I’ll be honest; I was concerned that Robbie would be really rough with James. He’s bitten other kids (he even drew blood once…) and pulled hair frequently. But he was so gently with James! He got very excited about the “bay-bee”, giving him frequent hugs and kisses. Robbie even helped James figure out crawling! OK, I’m not really sure about that one. But, James did crawl for the first time. Maybe it was all the running around Robbie was doing. Maybe it was watching Robbie crawl between furniture and under tables. Whatever it was, it worked. James officially crawled for the first time yesterday!

Fortunately, Abby and Jamie (her husband) have their choice of babysitters, since they live on Dartmouth’s campus. We were able to find a sitter last night and enjoy a night out with other adults. Hillary, Fran, Abby, Jamie, Justin and I went out to dinner and didn’t worry about crying or feeding anyone or entertaining anyone. We actually had conversations! We did something interesting at dinner; we made a rule that no one could sit next to a spouse. The girls sat on one side of the table, the boys on the other. It was really nice to get to talk to other people about topics you might not normally discuss. Justin and Abby talked about their love of talk radio and being the voice of descent in political discussions. Hillary and Jamie talked about reality TV. Fran and I reminisced about elementary school (we’ve known each other since first grade!).

This morning, Robbie had us all up at 5:30. That’s the bad part about sharing a room with a kid while you’re visiting people. He had good reason to be up, though. He was soaked! His onesie was wet up to his chin. His footies were wet. His blankets were wet. Probably the 27 bottles of milk he had over the day… Right now, he won’t drink anything that isn’t “nait nait.” In fact, he’ll hand it back to me, reminding me that he wants milk. Great…

When it was actually a descent time to wake up, Robbie took a bath with the company of Hillary and Fran’s youngest beagle, Cooper. Well, not actually with him. Cooper was on the outside of the tub, licking Robbie’s face. The two of them had a big time playing together after the bath. Cooper really wanted to help Robbie get dressed… He proved to be more of a hindrance.

I love having friends to go visit, particularly friends who live less than a mile from each other! It’s even better when everyone gets along (it can be stressful combining different worlds). I’m finding that, as I get older, I’m valuing my friendships more. My friend Jill has become one of my best friends. I call her a few times a week on my way home from work, and I hate when a week goes by without talking to her. She is my sanity. Don’t get me wrong, she’s always been a good friend. But we’d go awhile without catching up. Something changed when we had kids; we needed other people who were in the same boat. Hillary and I were friends in high school, but we never really hung out outside of school. We lost touch for a few years. And now? She’s one of my favorite people to be with. I have a blast with her and never run out of things to talk about. Abby is calm and introspective and makes me think about things in a different light.

I mention them just to name a few. There are so many more people I’ve gotten back in contact with after years of not seeing them (thanks, Facebook!). I guess people come into and go out of your life for a reason. It’s just a really great feeling when they come back and you can fully appreciate them for who they are.

Sorry for the uber long post. Guess I just had a lot to catch you up on after 45 hours of not blogging!

Best Laid Plans


I’ve been looking forward to this weekend forever. Well, for at least two weeks since I made the plans. We were going to drive to Hanover, NH, tonight to spend the night with some friends. Justin was going to go skiing tomorrow morning with some other friends. Then we’d spend the night at their house and come home Sunday afternoon.

Oh. You noticed all of that was in the past tense? Robbie and I got home just after 4:00 this afternoon, and I hustled to get everything packed and ready to go. Then I got the text from Justin at 4:45 that he was still at work. No early escape. No leaving the house by 5:00. Then I got the call at 5:20 that he was still on the Pike. And the 6:30 call that he had just made it through the tolls. He walked through the door at 6:59 after four attempts to pull the car into our icy driveway.

Fortunately, I had given Robbie dinner and a bath, loaded the car, and let the dog out. We were ready to go. I just had to return a movie to the Redbox across the street and get some cash to pay the dog sitter. Justin loaded Robbie into the car. And we were ready to go. Until Justin tried to start the car. It didn’t. Not even a little.

So, back inside we went. Robbie went to bed amiably. It took the tow truck two hours to get here. And it was just the battery. The very corroded battery. So, the tow truck driver followed me to the Citgo to drop off the car (easier than loading it onto the truck) and brought me home. The lovely gentleman at Citgo didn’t seem thrilled that I was leaving my car there overnight and told me I’d need to pick it up in the morning. Even after I explained that I would be leaving for New Hampshire at 6:30 in the morning. He told me I could discuss it with the mechanic in the morning. Surely Jack the Mechanic will speak more English than this guy…

Justin and I are figuring that someone was trying to keep us from leaving tonight, and we finally decided we were going to listen. After all, we didn’t get the message after it took Justin two hours to get home. We almost didn’t get it when the Jeep wouldn’t start. But, we finally understood and enjoyed a nice night at home.

Please cross your fingers and send up some prayers that we get to New Hampshire safely tomorrow (and that Justin stays in one piece while praying). Oh, and that I’m allowed to keep my car at the gas station until Sunday afternoon (or that I have good friends who will go pick it up for me). Thanks in advance, Allie!

Snow Day, Take Two


Lawrence was closed again today! And, like any good wife and mother, I sent Robbie to daycare and Justin to work. What I really needed was a day to myself. After all, yesterday I spent most of the day on the couch. There was work to be done.

I actually surprised myself. Typically, I would think about everything I needed to do while sitting on the couch catching up on my DVR (see the entry from last Friday). Not today. I started in the kitchen and cleaned the refrigerator and freezer, organized the cabinets and pantry, and cleaned the counters and stove. Then I cleaned the bathroom and organized the hall closet and the living room closet. Next up was the living room, complete with organizing all the drawers in the tables. Then it was upstairs to our room and Robbie’s room. All floors are vacuumed and steamed. And it feels amazing.

I did some thinking about my life while I was cleaning. About a week ago, I found a journal that I started in the fall of 2006. I didn’t even recognize the person I was then. The entire journal was horribly negative; each page was a litany of complaints about what had gone wrong that day. I cried as I read it, unsure of how I was able to escape the person I had become. And I’m so far from being that person any more (I’m sure much to the relief of everyone who knows me). So, for whatever reason I was able to chance, I am grateful.

Snow Day!


Today was the first snow day for 2011! It was announced just after lunch yesterday, and I loved knowing that I didn’t have to keep checking for closings all night long (you know you’ve done it, too!). Justin found out this morning that Bose was closed, so we were able to actually enjoy the day together without worrying about shoveling until the snow stopped or trying to drive anywhere.

Robbie’s seen snow before, but he wasn’t aware enough of anything to actually know what it was. Not today, though. This morning, Justin, Robbie, and I spent about twenty minutes getting ready to go out in the snow. After all, we had a new sled to break in. There were layers of clothing to put on. Pairs of gloves and mittens to find. Justin’s were buried in the car, so he wore girl gloves. Robbie wore mittens from two different pairs.

And then there was the snow suit… It’s one that my brother wore when he was little. Robbie put it on like a good sport, but he just looked uncomfortable in it. It was a tight fit. And it has Peter Cottontail on the front. Not very manly, but Robbie pulled it off pretty well.

Robbie enjoyed his sled ride for the most part. Until he took off his hat and threw it in the road (yes, we were in the road; the sidewalks were impassible with over a foot of snow). At that point, there was snow in his hood and snow in his hat. So it was a cold, wet head for young Robert. And then the mittens started to come off. At that point, Justin and I decided it was time to turn around and head home. We’d barely gotten to the corner. Robbie did not enjoy the ride home, as the snow was blowing into his face at that point. Oh, I didn’t mention that we took him out in the middle of a blizzard? Hmm… Parenting at it’s finest!

We went out again later to see what progress Justin was making in digging out the cars. Luckily, our fabulous neighbors downstairs had dug out the porch, sidewalk, and end of the driveway (even the three-foot pile left by the plow). Robbie got a big kick out of walking through the snow and tasting it. Until he took off his mitten. Then it was quickly back inside.

I’m off work again tomorrow, but Justin and Robbie will be back to their regular schedule. And I think I’m OK with that.

A few of you have asked, so I’ll put a little update in here. Robbie’s feeling much better. Thank you so much for asking about him! I’m wondering if this had something to do with his eye teeth coming in. There’s been a little more drool and a LOT more irritability.

Stay safe out there. And happy shoveling!



When I find someone I like, I stick with them. We have incredible people for anything we need. Roof repairs? Sewage in the basement? Call Kevin. House dirty? Mercedes is your woman. Want to get rid of junk? Call Leon. Need a bi-lingual daycare? Want to get bossed around by a crazy Chinese lady? Call Zhining. And I’ll recommend these people without hesitation to anyone (as I’m shamelessly doing right now).

But I hold grudges, too. I will never do business with Bank of America after they closed all of my accounts and told me I was a “liability” to their bank. (Justin deposited a check into my new account, neither one of us realizing that his name wasn’t on the account.) I tried to buy a dryer from Lowe’s, which took six hours and three trips to the store. And several phone calls. And two weeks. We’re Home Depot all the way. And then there’s Sears.

Sears is in a category all its own. I have NEVER had a good experience at Sears. Well, there was one. At the Sears Auto Center when I bought tires. The first time I went to Sears, I tried to buy a washer and dryer (always a problem with dryers for me…). The sales guy wasted an hour of my time and I wasn’t able to get the washer and dryer I wanted. A few years (and 1500 miles) later, I went to a Sears in Burlington. When it was my turn to pay, I made my way up to the cashier. She looked at me and snapped, “Move back. I’m not ready for you yet.” Last year, I bought tires at Sears and received a $50 gift card, which I used to purchase a new camera. The salesman forgot to send my purchase to the merchandise pick-up, and it took an extra thirty minutes for me to get my camera. We’ll come back to this momentarily. And last week, I went to get my oil changed and tires rotated (free, since I purchased my tires there). It took over two and a half hours because my car sat untouched for almost an hour. The was, fortunately, rectified by the gentleman I bought the tires from. He decreased my bill by $80 (I was also having my engine cleaned and getting a new air filter).

And then there was tonight. The camera that I bought last year has broken, but, thankfully I purchased the extended warranty. The salesman told me that I’d be able to get a new camera if anything happened to mine. Well, his bad service continued today. That’s not what he sold me. He sold me the ability to mail my camera back to Canon to wait two weeks to have it repaired. In an effort to appease me, the saleslady told me she could give me $60 towards a new camera if Canon decided not to fix it. Yeah. Won’t be going back to Sears. Ever. In any state.

Poor Baby Robbie


I should have known something was up yesterday when Robbie woke up from a four-hour nap and wanted to cuddle. He never naps for four hours. And he never wants to cuddle in the middle of the afternoon. But, I didn’t want to ruin the moment.

Poor baby Robbie woke up around 10:00 last night and was burning up. His fever was 103.1. All he wanted was to curl up in between Justin and me and drink milk. I’m not sure milk would have sounded good to me with a fever, but he kept asking for it. I put him back in his room around 11:00, and he slept until 12:30. He woke up crying, and, I’ll admit, it took me a little while to wake up enough to go in and check on him. Robbie sat up in his crib as soon as he saw me, handed me his bottle, and said, “More.”

Well, the “more” came back to bite him (and us) at 4:30 this morning when he woke up in full-on sobs. Being the compassionate wife that I am, I kicked Justin and told him to get up. I believe I said something along the lines of, “Get up. I’ve been up twice already with Robbie. It’s your turn.” Justin asked if he should just bring Robbie into bed with us. I said (as patiently as I could), “Only if you don’t want to get anymore sleep.” To which my always-eager-to-please husband replied, “What am I supposed to do?” I’ll give him that it was 4:30 in the morning and he’d been rudely awakened, but I don’t know what to do anymore than he does.

I felt a little guilty about waking up Justin when I probably could have taken care of the situation by myself (but I decided about a year ago that it was better to inconvenience him for fifteen minutes than lie awake irritated that he’d slept through everything). My guilt propelled me out of bed and into Robbie’s room. Justin was elbow deep in poop and soaking pajamas. Robbie, with his red cheeks, had tears rolling down his face. And his bed? Soaked through. Fortunately, after I changed the sheets, Robbie went right back to sleep and stayed asleep until I went in to check on him at 7:00.

As soon as Robbie heard me come in his room this morning, he popped up and started talking to me like we’d been in the middle of a conversation. His fever had dropped to 99.7, and he seemed to be feeling fine. In fact, he was even particular about what he wanted to drink this morning. Robbie handed me a bottle and said, “Nait. Nait.” I put flavored water in, and he returned the bottle to me, insisting, “Nait. Nait.” Sure enough, when Justin came back with milk in the bottle, Robbie grabbed it out of his hand and sucked it down.

I had hoped that Robbie was on the mend, but I realized this was not the case as soon as I walked through the front door of Zhining’s house. His eyes just looked sad and tired. His cheeks were red. His body was an inferno. And he didn’t want to be put down. I tried to take Robbie’s temperature when we got home, but he wriggled away from the thermometer before it beeped. It read 102.4.

He went to sleep easily and without any dinner, and I haven’t heard from him in three hours. Justin and I are keeping our fingers crossed that everyone in the Manna house will get a good night’s sleep tonight and that, more importantly, poor baby Robbie wakes up all better.

Words! Words! Words!


A running list of Robbie’s words:
Daddy (Da-e)
Light (an early favorite)
Ball (a current favorite)
Dog (and ‘oof)
Gou (dog in Chinese)
Cat/Kitty (and ‘ow)
Fish (and gulp)
More (another favorite)
Na (Chinese for “that”)
Nait (Chinese for “milk”)
I love you (getting closer every day!)
Light bulb
Lunch (whatever the Chinese word is for that)
Mian (Chinese for noodle)
Tang (Chinese for soup)
Fan (Chinese for lunch)
Ping guo (Chinese for apple)
Grape (gape)
Hilary (Heeaee)
Chinese for rice
Chinese for lunch
Chinese for “Don’t touch the baby”