Monday, March 30, 2009

And We're Back! (From our Babymoon)

This past weekend, Trey and I drove down to Granbury, TX to stay at an Inn that sits right on the lake. It was our little getaway from all the busyness that has been going on in our house as we remodel our bathroom and prepare for Baby T's arrival. As soon as we arrived, I was very impressed with the rooms, the grounds, and the absence of flowered wallpaper and bedspreads that I expect to see in most Bed & Breakfasts.

The weather was much colder than we anticipated; it was in the 40’s with high winds on Saturday. Instead of sitting in the swing under the oak trees overlooking the lake or relaxing by the beautiful pool, we sat on our balcony huddled under a blanket and enjoyed the view. After grabbing a late lunch and shopping on the main square, we took a nap that afternoon in our room with the door to the balcony open so we could hear the soothing sounds of the waterfall in the pool.

A quick flashback to Friday night before we left on our mini-vacation… We went to dinner with Sophia and Trey’s parents at a local Italian restaurant that is one of our family’s favorites. In typical Sophia style, she wanted to sit on my lap instead of in a high chair, play with the bread basket, stick her finger in the butter, stick her hands in my water glass, pull the straw out of her milk, sit on her daddy’s lap, go to the potty, and fling all the silverware on the floor… all before we ordered our food.

Let’s just say that our dinner on Saturday night was the complete opposite from what we normally endure when eating out. Trey and I ate at a small, intimate restaurant with wonderful food, a great wine list, and NO kid’s menu! I actually got to participate in an adult conversation and leisurely eat my food, little things that you miss when you normally have a toddler at your table (although I did not get to enjoy the wine list).

Later that night we stopped by a coffee shop to pick up dessert to bring back to the Inn. My plan was to participate in Earth Hour that evening and I had even brought candles from home so that we could turn out the lights and eat dessert by candlelight. However, I forgot to bring matches and when Trey went to ask the owners, we found out that candles were not allowed in the rooms because they are considered a fire hazard. Environmental awareness and romance were overruled by the fire code.

Sunday morning was beautiful, sunny and a bit warmer. Trey and I got up and enjoyed our coffee, tea, and solitude on the balcony. We both wished we were staying another day, just to enjoy waking up to the sounds of nature (without the sounds of cartoons playing on the TV in the background). The owners served a WONDERFUL breakfast and as visited with some other couples at our table who had also come to getaway from their young children. Too soon we had to pack up and check out.

I am already looking forward to my next weekend away with my husband, which will probably be next year around our anniversary in May – by then I will be able to enjoy something off that wine list!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

And away we go...

This weekend, Trey and I are packing a bag and heading out of town. We are not going far, just an 1 ½ car ride to a small town outside of Dallas so we can get some much needed rest and alone time before the baby makes his debut. I would not call this trip a “Babymoon”. For those of you who do not know what a Babymoon is… A Babymoon is a “last hurrah” trip for parents-to-be to provide the perfect setting to relax and reconnect as a couple before entering (or re-entering) parenthood.

Before Sophia was born we headed to Destin, FL for our 2nd wedding anniversary and our official “Babymoon” trip. I remember being about 5-6 months pregnant and walking along the beach while everyone smiled at me and my growing belly (No, I was not wearing a bikini and I did not bare my belly). We slept late every day, laid on the beach, took naps, went out to eat, did some shopping, and played miniature golf (one of my favorite things to do whenever I go to the beach). It was restful, relaxing, and exciting as we talked about how we would soon be parents for the first time. We were blissfully unaware of how much our lives would really change in a few short months.

This time we planned a trip to give us a break from all the painting, remodeling, cleaning, organizing and nesting that we have been doing around the house. I have not thought about what we are going to do once we get there (notice I am NOT mentioning our destination). I have nothing planned beyond checking in our room, sitting on the balcony at the Inn overlooking the lake, and maybe going out to dinner. I have already told Trey that I am taking away his phone (which means his connection to the outside world) and mine will on but ONLY for emergency phone calls from his parents. Consider this a warning – if you try to reach me this weekend, I will ignore your calls. I will not be checking my emails, posting on my blog, or updating my status on Facebook.

Sophia will be staying with Trey’s parents and she will probably not even notice we are gone. That is fine because her entire world is going to change very soon. She will no longer be the only child, the center of attention, or the baby of the family. She will have to share her mommy and daddy with her screaming little brother. I think she senses a change coming already, as she is starting to need more attention from me each night at bedtime. I have to read her several books, sing LOTS of songs, and rub her leg (or back, or play with her hair). Then I have to lie still next to her in bed while we “take a nap together”. I only lie down for about 2-3 minutes but during that time she will stare into my eyes, put her little hands on my face, and bask in the glow of my love for her.

My countdown tells me we have 66 days until Baby T’s due date. Only 66 days until our world changes again. Our days and nights will be filled with feedings, diaper changes, and lots of laundry. Our family is going to change again… but I can’t wait. I can’t wait to meet this amazing little miracle that is still growing inside of me (and moving ALL the time). It will be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earth Hour

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 8:30 pm, I am taking part in Earth Hour-a global event in which millions of people will turn out their lights to make a statement of concern about our planet and climate change.

Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour got started just two years ago and is now the largest event of its kind in the world. Last year, more than 50 million participated and the lights went out at the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Coliseum in Rome, just to name a few. Even Google's homepage went black for the day! In Israel, President Shimon Peres personally turned off lights in Tel Aviv.

This year, Earth Hour will be even bigger-already 250 cities in 74 countries have agreed to take part including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville with more signing up every day. Around the world cities like Moscow, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City will turn out their lights.

Participating in Earth Hour is easy, fun and free. To sign up, visit Below are two “Top Ten Lists” about Earth Hour and creative things to do when the lights go out in case you need inspiration!

Ten Things to Know About Earth Hour 2009

1. Earth Hour 2009 takes place on March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm—local time.

2. The date was set in March because it is close to the Spring Equinox, a period when the most number of countries around the world will experience darkness in the 8 o’clock hour.

3. Earth Hour isn’t about how much energy is saved during one hour. The idea behind Earth Hour is that by working together, each one of us can make a difference on the issue of climate change. By doing something as simple as turning off the lights, we send a visual symbol to the world’s leaders that we are counting on them to work together to find solutions to climate change.

4. Earth Hour is a non-partisan event. When it comes to caring about the future of our planet, we all have a stake as citizens of the world regardless of other political beliefs and affiliations.

5. Earth Hour turns off non-essential lighting only. Lights necessary for public safety will not go out. Earth Hour has been conducted safely and without incident in more than 100 cities around the world.

6. Earth Hour is an inclusive event and everyone is invited to participate. WWF will provide tools online to enable any town, community, school, individual or organization to be part of the event.

7. WWF has designated a limited number of “flagship cities” in the US where it will devote resources to make sure the lights actually do go out. In 2009 those cities include: Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. In addition, WWF will be seeking the support of Washington DC and the federal government.

8. Many US cities will also participate as “supporting cities.” To become an official supporting city, a proclamation or some type of official confirmation that the event is supported by the local governing body of that community must be sent to WWF.

9. More than 750 cities throughout the world have already agreed to participate in Earth Hour 2009.

10. World Wildlife Fund is the organization behind Earth Hour, but many other groups and NGOs are supporting Earth Hour in 2009.

10 Things You Can Do When the Lights Are Out

On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm, tens of millions of people around the world will turn out their lights for one hour — Earth Hour — to demonstrate concern for our living planet and send a loud message to our leaders that they support action on climate change. Here are a few ideas for things to do in the dark…by yourself or with others:

1. Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with someone special using organic or sustainably grown food items.

2. Invite friends and family over for a “lights-out” party and serve green-themed snacks and drinks—green tea or apple martinis anyone?

3. Turn off the lights and power down the computer and cell phone. Use the quiet time to take a break from a “plugged-in” world by meditating or resting.

4. Take a bubble bath by candlelight.

5. Use the hour for practical tasks that you never seem to have time for. Test essential items in your emergency preparedness kit like flashlights, radios, and cell phones. Change out all your light bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Think about how you would evacuate your house in an emergency in the dark.

6. Read a book set in an era without electricity. Marvel that the Romans conquered much of the world without a single cell phone and that Shakespeare wrote masterpieces without a laptop or the Internet.

7. Turn off the computer and write a letter by candlelight the old-fashioned way using pen and paper.

8. Invite friends over to play charades or Scrabble by candlelight.

9. View the night sky via telescope--the reduced “light pollution” may make some stars more visible.

10. Take photos of how you spent Earth Hour and upload them to the Earth Hour pages on Facebook, Myspace and YouTube. Keep it clean please!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My weekend flew by like a New York minute...

This past weekend I flew up to New York City to meet up with friends that I have not seen in over 6 years. Three girlfriends who were main characters in the chapters of my childhood, from middle school through high school graduation. Girls who have now become women, wives, and mothers themselves as we have moved to new cities many miles away from our hometown of Huntington, WV.

Through the years I have known the highlights of each of their lives, such as weddings and the births of their babies. We exchange Christmas cards each year but have not talked on the phone or visited since before I moved to Dallas six years ago. We “re-connected” and planned this trip through the social networking site Facebook. ALL of the planning for this trip was done by email – I did not even talk to any of the girls until I met them at the La Guardia airport on Friday afternoon.

The non-stop conversation began as soon as we piled into the airport shuttle and headed to the hotel. I’m sure we annoyed the other 8 or 9 passengers in the van who were quiet the entire 20 minute ride (maybe they could not hear themselves think over our conversations). We had less than 48 hours together in NYC and we took advantage of that time to catch up on the details of our current lives. I woke up hoarse on Sunday morning from chattering away all weekend. I still can’t believe how much fun we packed into one short weekend.

We saw the Broadway musical “Chicago” on Friday night. Saturday morning we were up VERY early to stand outside of NBC studios for the filming of the Today Show (and we made it on television). Trey taped the show and showed it to Sophia while I was gone – she waved at me and said “Hi Mommy!”
We shopped our way up 5th Avenue, had lunch in Times Square, saw the Statue of Liberty, visited the World Trade Center site, did more shopping on Canal Street, and had dinner at a tiny Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.
After dropping off our packages at our hotel Saturday night, the three other girls went back out to visit the Empire State Building but I decided to stay in. I had managed to keep up with them most of the day, but now the baby and I needed to rest.
Sunday morning was bittersweet as we grabbed some breakfast and headed back to the hotel room, where we talked for over an hour before we hailed a cab to the airport. It was so much fun to spend time with old friends, who know so much about my childhood and who I was before I became the person I am today. Who knows when and where our next trip will take us…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When your husband is missing in the morning...

Yesterday morning around 5 AM I woke up and rolled over to see Trey’s side of the bed empty and untouched. Around 11:30 PM the night before, he came into our bedroom and woke me up to tell me he had to go in to work. He is the manager of LA Fitness and frequently gets calls about issues at the gym, regardless of the time of day. This time it was the guy closing up the gym for the night who was having trouble locking the front doors, so of course he called Trey. Trey had to grab a few tools and drive 15 minutes to the gym to take care of the problem.

Now, alone in the dark bedroom in the early hours of the day, I began to worry that Trey had never made it home. All the possibilities of what could have happened began to race through my mind, along with the thought that my cell phone was turned off. If Trey had tried to call me sometime during the night, he would not have been able to reach me. What if I had been peacefully asleep while he was in an accident? What if he was hurt?

I got up out of bed and walked down the hall which overlooks the living room below. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I checked to see if he had come home and fallen asleep on the couch. It was empty. I called out his name, but there was no answer.

It was then that I noticed the door to Sophia’s room, which is always shut at night to keep the cat out, was open just a few inches. I crept up the door and paused, listening for the sounds of sleep on the other side. Slowly, I pushed the door all the way open, and a smile quickly found its way to my face.

In the soft dim glow of Sophia’s nightlight, I saw Trey’s strong shoulders sticking out above her pink and purple flowered sheets. His shape took up so much of the bed that I had to tiptoe into the room to make sure Sophia was safely tucked up against him. Her bare legs splayed out across the sheet, as she stubbornly refuses to wear pajama pants or sleep under the covers. Her face was partially hidden from my view by the ears of her worn (and well loved) pink bunny. I listened for a moment as each of their breaths rose and fell – signifying their deep and peaceful sleep.

With my worries replaced by relief, I tiptoed back out of her room and let them sleep a little longer. A few hours later, after getting ready for work, I went back into Sophia’s room to wake them up. I put my hand on Trey’s shoulder and his eyes fluttered open and found mine peering down at him. I asked him what had happened the night before – when had he come home?

Trey whispered to me that he had made it home from work after midnight but couldn’t go to sleep right away. He was lying on the couch watching TV downstairs when he heard Sophia crying in her room, so he went up to check on her. She has fallen out of her new bed a few times over the past several weeks, so we have started checking on her more often before we go to bed at night. We will also crawl in bed with her during times that she is scared or upset, as “monsters” having been starting to appear in her imagination lately. Sophia is quickly comforted by our presence and we will usually lie down with her for a few minutes and sing her to sleep.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bathroom Renovation

Someone in our family (who will remain unnamed) had the bright idea that NOW would be a good time to remodel our master bathroom. It all started when Trey and I started discussing our options to repair the damage in the Master Bath from the water leak. Due to water damage, part of the tile and sub floor had to be removed in our bathroom. Initially we thought that we would have to rip up all of the tile, replace the entire sub floor and install new tile.

This led to a discussion about tearing out the white builder tiles in the shower and around the garden tub, and replacing it with tile to match the new floor. Which led to the idea to replace the shower enclosure and get rid of the brass framing that was installed by the builder in the mid 1990’s (which makes the bathroom look old and dated). This led to more discussion about replacing the funky, sliding mirrored closet doors and their dated brass frame with new French doors. Of course this meant the brass fixtures in the shower and tub would need to be replaced.
If we removed the tile around the tub and shower, the walls would probable suffer some damage and would need to be repaired. Due to the fact that we have wallpaper (another dated look), it was recommended that we apply a texture to the walls followed by a fresh coat of paint. Don’t forget we still have the builder-installed brass vanity lights and brass framed mirrors above the sinks. Those would have to go too so that every fixture in our entire master bathroom would have a cohesive, updated look (in modern brushed nickel). I forgot to mention the little details: such as the new towel racks, towel rings, new rugs and towels that we will obviously need to match the updated d├ęcor.

What sprouted from a simple bathroom repair has now blossomed into a full blown bathroom renovation. I currently have no workable shower, the tub is covered in demolition dust, and the toilet is still inoperable. After today, I am told that I will not be able to use my sink or mirror either. Sophia’s bathroom is getting a little crowded as the three of us have to share it for the next week or so while the “updates” are in progress.

The irony of this entire story? Remember I said this discussion started when we thought we would be tearing up the tile floor for the leak repairs? Apparently this was not necessary, as only a small portion of the floor required repairs. Yes, this entire renovation project could have been avoided! We could have saved ourselves the dust, the inconvenience, the money and the stress of the remodel. But then we would still be living in the 90’s with our builder brass fixtures and outdated wallpaper. I am looking forward to my first soak in that tub, once it is clean again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The package...

I just thought I would post an email that I had to send earlier this week. I am having Baby T's bedding for his crib sewed by a local seamstress. I am not using her real name here but for the purpose of this story, I will call her Susie.

I ordered all of the fabric online and needed to deliver it to "Susie" seamstress. She lives about 30 miles away so I thought it would be easier (and quicker) to ship it to her house. And so the story goes...

From: Stephanie Suire
To: Susie Seamstress
Date Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Subject: Sending you fabric this week

Hi "Susie",

Ok - here is a not so funny story. Monday after work I stopped by the Pack-n-Mail store to ship the fabric to you. I gave the guy working behind the counter a sheet of paper on which I had written To: your address and From: my address. He told me that it would arrive at your door the next day (Tuesday). I paid for my package and left.

Yesterday after work I picked up my daughter (Sophia) from daycare, took her to dinner at Jason's deli and then to story time at the library. Basically I was worn out by the time she and I made it home at 8:00 PM. Sophia is only 2 1/2 and I am struggling to keep up with her now that I am almost 7 months pregnant. My husband sensed my stress level and took over her bedtime duties for me.

I walked downstairs and noticed a package sitting by the front door - the SAME PACKAGE that I had shipped to you the day before! The guy at the Pack n Mail store got the addresses mixed up and they mailed me my own package! AArrghh! It was one of those days that I was so consumed by frustration that I wanted to cry.

Thankfully, my husband took the package back to Pack-n-Mail this morning to send it your way. I'm not sure that I could have calmly explained their error without representing the typical stereotype of an overly emotional, hormonal pregnant woman.

Hopefully, the package should arrive at your house tomorrow.
Thanks! Stephanie

Let's hope it actually gets there this time....

Monday, March 2, 2009

A week of Highs and Lows (Part 2)

****Update**** I added the "after" pictures below.

Last Monday, we flew home from visiting my family in WV and got back to Dallas around 8:00 PM. Trey’s parents picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at home. We wrestled our suitcases through the front door and wearily dropped our bags, happy to end the traveling part of our trip.

As we came through the front door, I noticed that the plants in the entryway looked a little wilted and sad so I decided to water them. I turned on the light in the dining room adjacent to the entryway and I got a not-so nice surprise. I noticed a puddle of water on the floor – and it was not from the water I was getting ready to pour on my plants. I looked up and saw a wet stain spreading across the white ceiling and paint bubbling up from the moisture. We had a leak.

The unfortunate part of this event is the fact that we had the EXACT same leak in the EXACT same spot about 2 ½ years ago. Our master bathroom is directly above the dining room and the toilet had a small leak which was repaired. Or so we thought… apparently this was a SLOW leak over time from an improper repair. Whatever – all I know is that it is not fun to discover a home disaster after such a nice vacation. I will say that it was only a small puddle and not inches of standing water so I guess I should be grateful for that fact.

Trey and I went through the same steps as last time when we experienced this problem: 1) call the home warranty company 2) wait for a call from a plumber to set up an appointment 3) take time off work to meet the plumber so that he can determine what scary situation is lurking in the ceiling above.

On Wednesday afternoon the plumber arrived, took one look at the ceiling and instantly called in his back-up – the water remediation company. As the plumber uncovered the source of the problem (my understanding is that I has something to do with an improper seal that was not fixed properly before and will require him to special order a part before he can fix it), I waited for the water remediation company to arrive.

Side note – during this time I got a call that Sophia was running a fever and I had to go pick her up from Trey’s parent’s house. She was coughing, had a runny nose and was generally cranky. She had tried to take a nap but could not sleep because of her cough. I called the doctor and we made an appointment first thing the next morning, which meant even more time off of work for me.

The water remediation company (which I will now call H20 Remedco for short) arrived and the guy started poking his probe into the ceiling to determine the level of saturation. We quickly got our answer as water started pouring out of the ceiling after his second poke. He went upstairs to assess the situation from the bathroom point of view, and when he came down he started using words like “Category 3 Emergency”. I have only heard this term before as associated with hurricanes and again it sounded ominous. It was quickly apparent that we were not getting out of this situation easy. The next thing I knew, the “H20 Remedco” guy had put on a full-body white protective suit and face mask to start demolition on our dining room ceiling.

After less than an hour, he determined that this demotion job required even more back-up, so he called in what I will call the “Big-Gun Demo crew”. This was the third company to arrive at our house in one day. Due to the sensitive nature of the “Category 3 Emergency”, they had to tear out any sheet rock that had been exposed to the water, pull up part of the tile floor in the bathroom, and generally make a HUGE mess while making as much noise as possible. To ensure the maximum decibel level had been reached in our home (at 8:00 PM on Wednesday evening), they brought in two industrial size de-humidifiers and a 40 pound Hepa air-filter which they ran at full blast while simultaneously taking a crow-bar to the tile floor and vacuuming up the debris in the dining room. During this time I was sitting next to Trey in the living room – and I could not hear a word he was saying. We gave up any effort at communication until they finally left around 9:00 PM that night. Somehow, Sophia managed to stay asleep through all of this noise. I think it was a combination of exhaustion from skipping her nap and the Tylenol I gave her for her fever.

Unfortunately, the Big-Gun Demo crew did not take all off the equipment with them when they left Wednesday night. They left behind their industrial size de-humidifiers and air filter (noise makers), which we were instructed to run 24 hours a day for the next three days.

A second side note - All of this happened on Ash Wednesday, the day you declare what you are giving up or adding in your life for the 40 days of Lent. Ironically I wanted to add silence and stillness to my daily routine, during which I would spend time in prayer or meditation. It was quickly apparent that I was not going to get silence or stillness in my own house so instead I gave up coffee.

Now we are currently in the silent part of the repair process. We no longer have a leak or loud equipment and most of the water damage has been removed but we are still inconvenienced with the mess and aftermath of the problem. We have to have our floor in the bathroom repaired before the toilet can be re-installed. Once that is complete we can move on to repairing all of the sheet rock that was removed. (Check out the pictures after the demolition).

It was a week filled with water damage, extreme demolition crews, excessively loud equipment, and the financial considerations of the repairs. Now at 6 (almost 7 months) pregnant, it has made those 4AM trips to the bathroom an adventure. Good thing I only have to make it down the hallway to Sophia’s bathroom and not all the way downstairs!

Final side note – Sophia had an upper respiratory/double ear infection but she is feeling much better now after several days of antibiotics. She was also very intrigued by the loud equipment, she kept asking me “Mommy, what’s that?”