Grab Your Backpack! Let’s Go!

We’ve had two missions today: 1) Getting NikkiZ’s room empty and ready for painting and 2) Pack and prepare for our trip to Tennessee. As of this moment – we have accomplished both things with an amazing about of hysterics and entertainment.

NikkiZ thinks her newly emptied room is surpassed in hilarity only by her Dora bed now being placed next to our bed in our bedroom. She has rotated between running around her empty room screaming and listening to her echo – to sitting on her bed in our bedroom and watching TV while exclaiming, “I’m in my bed in Mommy’s room!”

It’s amazing how entertaining this is to her.

She also found the whole “packing” exercise to be quite fun. She gets to use her Dora suitcase for the first time and she packed her own clothes, shoes, socks, and oatmeal.

Yes, oatmeal.

I mentioned bringing a few snacks for the road and she insisted we also bring her oatmeal so she can eat it for breakfast while we’re at my parent’s houses. She even opened the box and removed enough packets for the weekend. Then she packed them tightly in with her clothes and diapers. We zipped up her suitcase and put it by the door and I’ve never seen such a look of accomplishment on such a small face. It was like she was thinking: There. Now I’m ready for anything.

It’s funny how you can sign a kid up for sports and classes, take them to movies or concerts, help them make crafts and plant gardens. All of these things we do as a parent to stimulate and educate our children. And then they go and find the mundane tasks like moving furniture and packing bags to me the most amazing thing on the planet.

They do this to remind us that we’re only as sane as they’ll let us be.

Nice smile, kid.
I’m sure this setup will do wonders for our love life.

All Good Things Must Come To An End (But Not My Blog! I Promise!)

Well…it turns out I’m not so good at making money from home. I did make a little bit, but I found myself not able to get as much done with a toddler around as I needed/wanted to. Which means I was starting to get really stressed out about money because we were about to run through my severance.

(Who am I kidding? I was getting really stressed out about money.)

Luckily – my old job called and wants me back. There have been big changes over there and they have money now. Enough to offer me a raise that will allow me to come back only 3 days a week at first. Which essentially means I’ll be able to bring home close to the same amount of money as I was before, but working only Tues, Wed, and Thursdays. And this means when AndyZ is born, and I go back to work full-time, I’ll make enough to cover both kids in daycare and still bring home a little to pay bills with. So in reality? This is a blessing and a gift and I am eternally grateful we didn’t have to do anything drastic with our finances…like cancel cable.

Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory “I’m So Lucky!” paragraph out of the way – can I get down to the irrational but very true part and have none of you judge me?

I cried all night long.

As a matter of fact, I cried just typing that sentence. I’m crying again over the keyboard. I’m a mess!

I’ve enjoyed these two months home with NikkiZ more than I ever imagined I would. I called her daycare yesterday and they’re thrilled to have her back. Of course, there’s no part-time enrollments available so I’ll have to pay full-time for only three days, but it will guarantee she’ll have that spot full-time after AndyZ is born. And having to send her anywhere else would not be something I’d want to do. So, we’ll suck it up. But it took every bit of will power I had not to burst into tears talking to them on the phone. We’re going today to re-register her, and when I told her we were going to see her old teachers she said, “You come with me?” When I told her “Yes,” she got very excited. She really did love it there.

I don’t know. I feel like such an asshole because, I worked for two years before. This is not a big deal. And I need to be a grown-up and quit the damn crying already. It’s just life. And I enjoy working. More importantly – I feel like my family gets a better version of me when I’m not home all day.

But I still can’t stop crying.

And of course – as I do with any life changes – I had to do a redesign of my site last night. It’s my therapeutic way of working through extreme emotions. I apologize if you hate the changes so much, but in reality? It helps me process things to design – and I needed that last night. (Don’t worry, I’m still tweaking a few colors, the sidebar links don’t show up very well.)

I’m still working out the details of when I’ll return officially, but it will be within the next week or so. I’ll know more later today after I drop of registration for NikkiZ at her old daycare. I really am thrilled about this situation because I was starting to run out of options. These people know me, they know I’m pregnant, and they wanted me anyway. There aren’t many companies out there who would feel the same. And I’m excited about the new things I’ll be working on…and about doing that work without a 2-year-old crawling on my back.

Essentially – It’s just the typical situation where my brain is all, “Whoopee! Work! Career! Job! Money!” but my heart is all, “Ouch. This hurts.”

Is this…like Phase 10 or something?

We are heading out of town this weekend to visit my parents and my brother so MrZ is going to take this chance to start painting NikkiZ’s room. It was a horrible week the last time she had to be moved out of her room and I spent most of the seven days in tears due to frustration and lack of sleep. We thought that removing she and I from the house for at least two of the nights would make it less likely I need to be committed before this transition is done.

Many of you asked why we were bothering to paint her new room when we moved her in. I agree – at first glance the colors are awesome. However, MrZ let LilZ and I paint that room ourselves when we bought the house. LilZ was 10 at the time. 10-year-olds are not the best painters. Neither are klutzes with a shaking-hand issue (that would be me) so the paint job is far from perfect. There’s paint on the ceiling and the trim and the outlets. Also – a growing boy has resided in that room for three years now. Played several games of tackle with his friends and spilled several drinks. The walls are now beat up, filthy, and missing chunks of paint where things have crashed into them. Finally – there is the solar system I braved painting that turned out not so great because I AM NOT AN ARTIST. So – all of these things lead to the fact that the room needs a fresh coat of paint. And what better time to do it than before AndyZ gets here.

Also – There is going to be a LOT of stuff going on in that room with two kids different genders. I need a more neutral wall color just to keep myself from being over stimulated! I already get a headache in there will all of the pink AND the blue and green walls.

So…we’re painting. Or, MrZ is painting. But, since I can’t help with the actual painting (not that he would want me to) I am taking charge of moving all of the crap out of the room. AGAIN. What is up with all of the manual labor I’ve been doing? AM I INSANE? Yes. Yes I am.

Here are some pictures of this phase of the Great Room Switch of 2008.

Nothing Says Teenage Booy's Room Like a Changing Table
LilZ is going to loving coming home to a changing table in his room

The last shot of the blue/green
It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to say “Goodbye”

My (kinda lame) solar system.
Remind me not to teach astronomy any time soon

NikkiZ's Possession: Now in our Living room.
It’s a good thing we don’t entertain a lot of company. This is not the decor I usually go for in my living room.

Zoot’s Blogging Manifesto

After reading the awesome feedback from this entry I have been working on a separate one to declare my intentions and my goals as a blogger. I started with a silly little comment policy and this is now my Blogging Manifesto. It was mainly an exercise to force myself to really think about what I’ve built here since January 2004 and what I hope it to be to outsiders.

I really don’t think any of this is necessary, I kinda just like the using the word manifesto. It’s one I can’t figure out how to work into my daily conversations, so killing it on my blog will have to do.

I Will Promote Kindness and Joy With My Words
Man. There are a lot of bitter and angry writers in the world. Did you know that? I am not one of them. This may make me boring to read, but it also makes this site a place of warmth that has become my own personal shelter over the last four years. Even if I’m having a bad day and blog about something bringing me down, the commenters pick up the slack and spread the love and joy while I can not. I will do everything I can to focus on the positive in my life so that people who stumble by here might find something that makes them smile. Even if it’s just me talking about boob sweat.

I Will Do My Best Not To Feed My Ego By Knocking You Down
I’m insecure. And like a lot of insecure people – I’ve been known to gossip/badmouth others behind their back to make myself feel better. While I’m sure I’ll still do this with my dearest friends (I’m no angel) – I will not use my blog as a place to hurt others. Even celebrities that really seem to be asking for it. But especially not other bloggers. This cyber-community is too important for me to devalue it just to make myself feel better about gaining 10lbs.

I Will Assume Everyone I Write About Reads My Blog
I will not write anything I would hate for someone to one day find. If I’m not comfortable with them finding it – I will not write it. Period. This is not self-censorship, this is simply me avoiding drama and negativity in my life. I don’t want my blog to hurt anyone, just like I don’t want my spoken word to hurt anyone. Some may consider this to be spineless – I just consider this my way of treating others how I would like to be treated. Unless they say something bad about my hair. Then I’m totally taking them down.

I Will Try To Visit A Few New Blogs Every Week
While some of my entries only get a handful of comments, others get 50+. I can’t follow every URL left by every commenter. However, I will try to make a point to follow a blogger to their site when they say something especially insightful or funny. Or maybe just because they smell nice. Either way – I will try to comment on a few new sites every week. I have been notoriously bad about commenting because I over-analyze the words I write other sites until I opt out and just don’t say anything. I am trying to change that about myself so I can continue to spread the comment love that is so kindly given to me.

I Will Not Feed The Trolls
If someone is ugly in my comments section or in an email, I will not call them out or link to them directly. I may write about the issue in a vague sense, but I will not give them the spotlight. More than often – I will simply ignore them. I may grumble and mumble about them to my blog friends, but I will not use my blog as a way to rally the troops against someone I don’t know.

I Will Give People The Benefit of the Doubt. Once.
If someone leaves a nasty comment or sends a nasty email, I will try to understand that sometimes we all have bad days and will do my best not to derive all of my opinions on someone based on one comment, blog entry, or email. However, if the asshole returns a second time? I’m totally making a VooDoo doll of them and letting my dogs poop on it in the yard.

I Will Remember That I Can Always Learn From Others, Now Matter How Different They May Seem
We are not all the same. You may be a practicing Catholic while I left the church years ago. You may be a Pro-Life Conservative while I’m a Pro-Choice Liberal. You may think Diet Coke sucks. I will not let any of these differences blind me to the wisdoms you may share. Just because you think The Amazing Race is a stupid show, doesn’t mean you can’t help me learn how to cook. We can all learn something from each other, and I will try not to let our differences make me forget that.

I Will Always Try To Find A Gentle Way To Express Disagreement
If I disagree with something you are saying on your own blog – or even in the comments of my own – I will find a kind and gentle way to express that. The best phrase in the world is, “This is what works for me…” and I will use that instead of, “Your way is stupid – use mine instead” whenever possible.

I Will Apologize If Necessary
Sometimes I will screw up. Most of the times this is because I react emotionally to something before letting it simmer. When this happens, I will have the courage to admit my error and apologize. And I will forgive myself because no one is perfect. Although I come pretty damn close.

I Will Try To Use This Blog For Good, Not Evil
As often as I can without taxing my audience, I will try to use this platform as a way to help my community. I’ve supported causes like MDA and the American Heart Association. I also try to promote the charities other bloggers are trying to help. I am not sure why people come here as often as they do (it’s definitely not the cooking) but I will use that gift to help whenever I can.

I Will Not Take This Site Too Seriously
This is just a blog. It is my blog and it is very special to me, but it’s still a blog. Just because I sometimes write about serious things, like pregnancy loss or parenting struggles, it doesn’t mean I can’t also write about how much I love Cadbury Cream Eggs. Periodically this blog may need a dose of silly — at which time I’ll post a picture of my dogs humping each other. Or maybe I’ll talk about how hard it is not to pee on yourself instead of the cup at the doctor’s office when you’re pregnant.

Because trust me – it’s impossible.

Raw-Meat-O-Phobia

So – I really want to try this recipe sometime next week. The only problem is – she handles RAW CHICKEN. And there are pictures. Have I mentioned before that I have an intense phobia of raw meat? Well…I DO. SEVERELY. I think it comes from being a vegetarian for almost a decade and never touching the stuff, but I hate, hate, hate it. When I take a roast out to cook, I do it with tongs. When I bake chicken breasts, I remove them from the tray with a fork. I don’t ever cook with raw ground beef because it’s almost impossible to do so without touching the stuff. I have to be able to handle the meat with something other than my hands and only for a few seconds. Or I’ll die. Or something like that.

You have to understand a few things about me to really appreciate how freakin’ ridiculous this is. I am not a germaphobe. As a matter of fact, I am probably close to the opposite. I don’t panic when kids sneeze around me and I don’t forbid people from coming over to my home if they’re sick. I’ve always just thought that sicknesses will come or they won’t, me stressing out about it doesn’t help. I’m sure many would consider me quite disgusting, but contrary to this last week, I really don’t get sick often. I’ve never even had the flu and I usually get rid of colds pretty quickly. I just don’t freak out about germs. At all.

I’m also quite gross. I sometimes skip a day of showering (or a week) and I never use shampoo on my hair. I don’t wear makeup and rarely style. I play in the creek at the park and kinda like an excuse to get muddy. I’ll wear clothes with stains on them and socks with holes in them. I’m not a neat-freak in the slightest.

(Wait. Where is everyone going?)

In other words – fearing raw meat fits with no other parts of my personality. At all.

Anyway – my question is – Can I bake the chicken in that recipe first? Then cut up the pieces to put in the casserole? Please? If I can, then how do I adjust the recipe from there? Because not only am I a total chicken (HA! I crack myself up!) about handling raw meat, I’m also an idiot who doesn’t understand cooking. Thanks!