Monthly Archives: January 2011

Alone Time


Today was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I spent it on the couch, under a Smurf Wrappie (generic Snuggie). Justin went skiing with our friend Allie all day and Robbie took a four-hour nap. It was bliss. There was no one who needed me. There was no one playing video games or complaining about the bad shows saved up on DVR that I wanted to catch up on. It was just me, the couch, the remote, and the cat who was curled up by my feet.

When Robbie woke up, he wasn’t feeling too well. He felt warm and was entirely too cuddly. So, not one to dismiss a cuddly baby, I gave him some Tylenol, fixed him some milk, and settled in on the couch with an episode of The Berenstein Bears on the TV. It was the perfect end to my perfect afternoon.


Watering the Dog


It’s been one of those days at the Manna house. It started this morning when I kicked over a bottle of Ale-8, which exploded across the kitchen, shattering glass and Ale-8 everywhere. I was, of course, barefoot. Justin broke a glass over breakfast. Robbie broke one over lunch. It was really a family effort.

This afternoon, I noticed that Robbie was going back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room with two different Frisbees. After a few minutes, I noticed that they had water in them. For about ten minutes, I resisted the urge to see where Robbie was getting the water, not sure I could stand seeing the mess that I was sure would be all over the kitchen floor. But, Robbie seemed so intent on delivering water to Barkley that I couldn’t help but follow him into the kitchen.

Robbie had quite the set-up going on. Fortunately, he had not dumped the water onto the floor. He took the Frisbee over to the water dish, put it in, got some water into it, picked it up, and walked back to the living room to deliver the water to his doting dog. He then picked up the previously delivered Frisbee and did the same thing. Eventually, Barkley started turning the other way when he saw Robbie coming. I’m sure Robbie would have gone on forever if I’d let him, but, mean mother that I am, I made him go Skype with my mom.

Don’t judge me too much on the video. Our house was in the process of being cleaned, and Robbie never changed out of his pajamas. Some Saturdays are like that…

In other exciting developments, Robbie said, “I love you” today! He had no idea what he said, but it still melted my heart. He was in bed with Justin and me playing this morning, and I said, “I love you.” Robbie looked at me and said, “Eye. Lovu.” I think we’re going to keep working on this. He also said “juice”, “apple”, and “baby” today. I’m not sure where all these words are coming from, but I like it!

Jack in the Box


On the twelfth day of Christmas, Aunt Allie and Uncle Micah brought to Robbie two fabulous books, one plush animal, one Oshkosh shirt, and a Jack in the Box.

I’ll admit; I was a little concerned about the Jack in the Box. Robbie doesn’t always do well with things jumping out at him. He goes into full-blown panic mode when I turn on the dust buster. But I should have known that Justin would make it fun. I’m still not entirely convinced that Robbie was originally laughing at the toy. I think it was mostly Justin’s facial expressions and excitement every time the clown popped up out of the box.

Robbie proved me wrong, however, when he brought it to the dinner table after he and Justin had stopped playing. He did not want to sit in my lap; he would only sit with Justin. Within a few minutes, Robbie was cranking the box and making the clown pop out. I’m not sure which cracked him up more: making the clown come out or putting it back in.

I’m attaching pictures of the basement. I meet with the insurance adjuster tomorrow and am seriously hoping they’ll pay for a dumpster or some form of junk removal. There is so much trash. I’m just thrilled that my basement is clean. Now to get it organized…

The Letter B


This blog is brought to you by the letter B. You know, for book? Bubble? It was a big day for the letter B at the Manna house. While he was in the tub, Robbie said, “Bubble. Bubble.” And then he handed me the baby wash to make bubbles for him. Brilliant! If that wasn’t enough, after he got his pajamas on, I told Robbie to go pick out a book. He walked right over to the armoire where his books are, pointed at the door, and said, “Book!”

I was so impressed with his new verbal skills that I let him pick out three books to read. After all, how could I turn him down when he slid off my lap, walked to the armoire, and asked, “Book?”

It was a day of many child advancements for Robbie today… One I need to thank Nona for. At least I think I need to thank her; I haven’t decided yet if I’m thrilled about it. When we came home, Robbie and I spent some time upstairs cleaning and organizing. Nothing major. I made the bed and Rob pulled the pillows off. I put laundry in the hamper and Robbie dragged a pair of pants out of the hamper and around the floor. You know, productive stuff. I got busy organizing Robbie’s dresser, and he ran back and forth between our rooms.

All of a sudden, Robbie’s little feet sounded far away. Very far away. Like they weren’t even on the same floor. And they weren’t. My son climbed all the way down the steepest staircase known to man. Alone. When I started down the stairs to find him, Robbie came running, clapping his hands, yelling, “Yay!” I think we’re going to need to invest in a gate for the top of the stairs…

The child has also started climbing. I looked over this afternoon to find him standing on the box containing our new toaster oven, which, incidentally, is too big for our kitchen. But, as Justin explained, we won’t always have a kitchen the size of a shoe box. And when we have more than three feet of counter space, we’re going to want a solid toaster oven.

Now for the update I know you’ve all been waiting for: the basement. I decided not to worry about it. After all, Kevin was coming, and he would fix everything. And he did. He suited up and pumped out the basement. He had to empty everything on the other side of the house, pump out the water, disinfect the floor, disinfect items, and bring them back. Except most of the items in the basement couldn’t be disinfected. These are sitting outside in the backyard of the other side of the house, waiting for people to go through them and take pictures for insurance. My side of the house gets done tomorrow, but we didn’t have nearly as much water. And I don’t know that we really have anything worth claiming on insurance.

Kevin also got a plumber out here this morning. He replaced part of the pipe (where the lid came off) and he tried to snake out the main line. But the clog was so far out that they had to call in someone else. The clog was almost to the water main. Apparently this took several hours. I’m hoping for a generous insurance adjuster… The total bill is looking to be around $2300. Not to mention any personal losses there might be… But, things could have been so much worse. And we have water. And a lingering aroma of bleach.

Stinky Situation…


I got an email from my neighbor that there was some water in the basement, I tried to to panic. I figured it was from the gutters and melting snow and all of that. Plus, it wasn’t on my side of the basement. And then I went downstairs.

There was water everywhere. Granted, our side wasn’t as bad as the other side. But it was still pretty rough. We have traces of water, maybe half an inch in some places. The other side? They have two to three inches in most of their basement. Stuff in cardboard boxes is ruined. And we had no idea where the water was coming from.

I called Jen, the neighbor who initially called about the problem, and asked her to turn off her washing machine. One that was done, we could hear that there was water, and I located it. Under a shelf near the floor. I looked at Jen and said, “I need an adult. I need someone to tell me how to fix this.” But there wasn’t anyone. Justin wasn’t near his phone to answer it. The neighbors who would probably know what to do live in Indiana. The other neighbors weren’t home. And my mom lives a thousand miles away.

Then it hit me. Kevin. We needed to call Kevin. So I did. Kevin is a Godsend who has replaced our roof, fixed our siding, installed windows, and repaired a toilet. He knows everything. And if he doesn’t know how to do it, he knows someone who did. And, bless his heart, Kevin, who had just left our house an hour before after working on our gutters, turned around and came back. He is downstairs right now, after an emergency run to Home Depot, fixing the problem, at least until a plumber can get here tomorrow. He wanted to save us from paying for an emergency call.

Even better, Kevin thinks he might have been able to get the materials to keep us from needing a plumber at all (I’m optimistic but figure we’ll probably still need one). And then it occurred to me. I don’t know how to get all the crap up from the basement. I don’t even know where to start. But Kevin does. He’ll be back out tomorrow morning to get everything cleaned up and disinfected. He’s also going to meet with plumbers (if we need them) and make sure we get a good price.

Sometimes moms feel like they need to know everything. And we don’t. We just have to know the right people. If you’d like to know Kevin, let me know. He’ll get glowing referrals from me!



Robbie’s always been one for making noise. He loves to hear himself. We spent an hour listening to him orating (it really sounded like he was chanting, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) in the car. He loves a microphone his buddy Pete gave him that distorts his voice. Despite all of this, we were a little concerned that he would have a language delay because of Chinese day care.

We shouldn’t have been so worried. All of a sudden, Robbie figured out words. For a long time, we were stuck with hi, light, ma, da, ball, and ‘ish. But something happened over the Christmas break. Now we have more, key (kitty), ow (meow, which he says whenever he sees a “key”), dog (or gou, depending on what language he feels like speaking), oof (woof), da-e (daddy), shoe, eye, nose (that’s my favorite word because he sounds so sincere every time he says it), bed, teeth, car, girl, and cheese. He’s made a few attempts at boy and duck, but I’m not sure he really “has” them yet. Rumor has it that he said please for my sister, but he hasn’t repeated it.

I did find the talking thing to be particularly convenient around 1:30 this morning. Robbie woke up at 12:45 for a diaper change and some milk. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find when I went back in there, but he made it pretty easy for me. Robbie simply sat up, held his bottle out to me, and said, “More.” And that was really what he wanted. I brought him up some more milk and he laid back in bed and slept until 7:00 in the morning. Now that is clear, concise communication!

Reflective New Year Post… Late!


I keep wanting to take the time to have a reflective New Year post, but it hasn’t happened yet. By the time I thought about it New Year’s Eve, I’d had enough wine to be reflective but was running out of time. Yesterday I had plenty of time in the car but minimal battery power after Robbie watched enough movies to put him to sleep. And today? We’ll see… I’m just hoping to have enough energy to stay awake to blog, take a shower, and get my behind to bed.

I’ll be honest, some amazing things happened in 2009. After all, that’s when Robbie was born. But 2010 is my favorite year so far. So many amazing things happened to me last year, that it was actually hard for me to let the minutes slip by and find it over. I got a little panicked around 11:47 when I realized that I couldn’t stop time and make this incredible year stop.

One of the biggest things that happened last year was graduating from Boston College. I never thought I would go back to graduate school after finishing a Master’s from the illustrious Eastern Kentucky University. But I did. And it was amazing (partially because they paid for my tuition the first year!). The people. The experiences. In my first year, I pinched myself a few times as I walked across campus. On 24 May 2010, I walked at my first graduation since high school. Getting that degree was one of the proudest moments. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked that hard for anything in my life. And this year, Justin also started back at Boston College, making it a big year educationally for both of us.

I also got to spend a lot of time in Kentucky in 2010, something I never thought would amount to making for such an incredible year. But, things change when you have kids. For me, the change was that I wanted to spend as much time in Kentucky as possible. Before Robbie came along, I was content to go home twice a year (maybe three times). But not last year. I went home for five days in February, a week in April, ten days in July, two weeks in August, and ten days in December. I realized over the past year how much I appreciate my family and how much I really enjoy spending time with them.

It gets harder leaving them every time. Yesterday, I could barely control myself when it was time to leave. I started crying before it was even time to say good bye. And when I had to go back to the house to get the earrings I forgot? Letting go of my mom was so hard that I had to go back and hug her two more times just as hard. I don’t think you know how much you love your mom until you become one. It totally changes the relationship, and you can see everything she did for you as you’re doing it for your own child.

2010 was the year of so many “firsts” for Robbie, too. He held a bottle for the first time, slept on his belly for the first time (ironically the same night he held the bottle), got his first tooth (all three of these happened in Kentucky!), said his first word (“Hi!”), crawled for the first time, went swimming for the first time, took his first steps, had his first birthday, had two appearances on Good Morning America, blew his first kisses, said his first Chinese word (gou, which means dog), and survived two car trips to Kentucky.

I started a new job this year, one of the best things I’ve done. I’m at a school I love with incredible students and pretty fabulous colleagues. It’s exactly where I want to be.

With all of these amazing things, how could I want the year to end? Surely 2011 can’t possibly measure up… But, like so many things, I cannot control time. And midnight came. And 2010 went. So now it is time to embrace 2011 and do my damnedest to make it even better than 2010. So, I have a few goals (that sounds more achievable than “resolutions”):

1. I will lose 50 pounds this year (making my appointment with Jenny Craig tomorrow).
2. I will brush the cats at least twice a week (if I write it, I have to do it, right?).
3. I will exercise at least five days a week (I’m hoping to get addicted to P90X).
4. I will focus on anything positive I can find when things aren’t going right.
5. I will do my best to relax and let life take me where it’s supposed to, especially with things I cannot control.
6. I will take time every day to play with my son and spend quality time with my husband. I will not take them for granted.

So, now that they they are written, I have to hold myself accountable. Here goes nothing, 2011. Let’s see what you’re made of!

New Year’s Eve


Normally, I would get a little introspective on New Year’s Eve, reflecting on the past year. But I forgot to do that this year. Instead, I’ve had five glasses of wine. I had planned a pretty intense entry for tonight, but I think that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow night. After a nine hour car drive. In a hotel room… Hmm… Maybe I should try to pull something together tonight.

I don’t normally like New Year’s Eve. It’s a time to panic about everything that you didn’t accomplish during the past year. And time to worry about what you’re going to do to celebrate a chance to start all over again. But tonight, I’m spending it with my husband and best friend. Justin is currently singing (and performing hand gestures) to “I Want It That Way”. It’s no Times Square (Louisa and i did that in 1999/2000). But it’s getting me ready to start 2011 on the right foot. And, trust me, I want it that way…

OK. Enough bad puns. I’ll get reflective tomorrow. Promise. I need it more for me than for you. Not that you aren’t valuable. Oh, boy. I think I need another glass of wine.