Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The House

We have pictures. Just not in publishable format at the moment. Our computer with Photoshop is packed away, as are our Photoshop discs. I'm sure my mother or her boyfriend has a copy or that the computers we do have packed have some kind of workaround, but I'm trying to manage a Drew Monster who wants to help me type, and I'd rather not play with tech while he's in easy grabbing distance of it. Later we will post pics.

So, yes, we bought a house this weekend. Well, we actually put earnest money down on a house and signed a bunch of papers. The house is a three bedroom, two bath, single story. It's also got a den/office that will serve very nicely as my writing/DDJ room. I think that's what moved me from "I really like this" to "Can we buy it? Huh? Huh? Huh?" It's 1750 square feet, appliances included (except washer and dryer), and front yard landscaping included. And it's a brand new home in a developing master-planned community. Here's the floorplan. Note the price. We got it for a decent amount less because the market is just that damn good for buyers. All my friends in Colorado are fainting with shock now. This house would sell for at least 275K up there.

The house isn't quite finished. Probably won't be until after Christmas at the earliest. That's actually a good thing. It will let us save up for the rest of our down and closing costs without decimating our savings for emergencies. And it will give us plenty of time to plan out the painting of the rooms. I'm so excited about that. This is the first time I've ever been able to paint a room in a house. Well, the first time that I'd actually be living in that house for more than just summer and winter breaks from college.

The house is just 10 minutes away from my mother's, making our move-in easy to break down into manageable chunks. And my mom works just down the road from our development, so we can also do a car sharing thing every now and then so we don't have to find a second car right away.

We're not quite officially homeowners yet. I don't think that happens until we actually sign all the papers at closing (when the house is finished). But we're as close as you can get. It's nice to have that piece already settled so quickly after moving. It wasn't the timeline we were expecting, it wasn't the location we were expecting, but everything just clicked into place for all of our concerns and questions, and it just felt right, too. I can't wait to post pictures of the finished house and our stuff inside it. My very own room to write... :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Drew's First Executive Meeting

At the ripe old age of 55 weeks, Andrew Thomas attended and participated in his first executive meeting. His major contributions included enthusiastic vocalizations to encourage discussion and repeated attempts to dial out for pizza when the meeting ran late.

I mentioned that I had to come back to Colorado for the DDJ with the Drew Monster in tow. At first, my Wednesday afternoon was supposed to be used in reviewing our presentation with just one or two of the folks I worked with on this particular project, and my manager had OK'd me to bring Andrew in order to maximize the time I could spend with the team. As I was signing for my rental mini-van, I got a call telling me that we would be meeting with the pres to go over the presentation and to go straight there. I think that was the final piece of insanity that pushed me into thinking of this trip in a positive light. I mean, bring my son to a meeting with the president of my company? We've just wandered into the land of cheesy, feel-good, happy ending eighties movies. (By rights I should be getting a sweet house, finding Mr. Right, and raking in a major windfall. Since I took care of the second item years ago and the first item was settled on Saturday (more on this later), I should be expecting that six-figure publishing contract any day now, right?)

It was definitely surreal to not only be in the president's office wearing my comfy clothes from the flight (jeans, T-shirt), but also to find myself pushing a stroller into said office that was full of male VP's as well as the pres. Everything after that was just icing. Excusing myself to change not one but two smelly diapers. Dashing out to mix up a bottle of formula (still trying to get him adjusted to whole milk). Playing peek-a-boo under the meeting table. By the time we got to the dry-run of the presentation, Drew wanted only to be held by me. That's right, folks. I presented a project to the president of the company (and by this time it was late enough that most of the crowd in the room had left) while holding and bouncing my child.

Seriously, Drew was very well-behaved. All the people in the meeting were very patient and willing to have him there. Most of them took time to coo and smile at the little bugger and several of them even played with him. No one had a problem with him crawling over the meeting table and punching the buttons on the phone as he did. And everyone helped me find his missing sock (socks are the new Elmo, I swear). I don't know if this is because I happen to be very fortunate in my selection of coworkers or because Drew is just the cutest little thing on two legs.

I will make sure that Drew keeps this momentous occasion in mind for his first resume.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You The Onion

Just when I thought I wouldn't be able to find anything interesting or wacky to link for this edition of Sunday Grab-bag (marking the resumption of normal blogging, barring further moving insanity), I wandered over to The Onion. There were a number of funny headlines, but this one just made my day.

Here's my favorite bit:
...data suggests Spirit is convinced that [sister rover] Opportunity has found water and isn't telling anyone.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Briefly Back in Boulder County, Part 2

I wrote this Thursday night.

Here I am, sitting on the floor in the little sink & closet alcove by the door of the hotel room, giving Andrew a relatively dark and quiet area in which to sleep. No peeps from him yet..

Weather update: The snow was so bad that I couldn't take Drew up to his daycare (45 minutes away from my hotel). But he seemed to have a blast hanging out with some of my coworkers while I presented information to our client elsewhere. I returned from the meeting to find him grinning from ear to ear, banging two empty water bottles together, and sporting a wicked, spiky hairdo courtesy of water and creative fingers.

In my previous post, I described how I first ranted about this situation, then got into so-angry-I-could-post-a-screed territory. It took me just about 24 hours to come out of that state of mind. I did so during my 45 minute trek from the airport to the DDJ. I realized that I truly could have said no to all of this insanity. I enabled this situation to become the craziness that it is by being too willing to sacrifice my family's well-being for this one issue. Thus entered the "grin and bear it" portion of my evolving emotions.

Not too long after that (and still in the rental vehicle), I realized that while I could have said no, that could have hurt both the company and my position with the company (not that they would've penalized me, but things could've disintegrated with this client if there was no one able to share the key pieces of information that I have). Translation: This was a company emergency. Sure, there were elements that, had others done their jobs or exercised better time management skills, would've made a telecom possible or a better organized trip for me. But if the company's reputation and future are on the line, I'm not the sort of person to revert to that old saying of "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." There are times when this is wholly appropriate, and I've learned how to recognize them and how to work with upper management in ways other than jumping when they say jump in those cases.

Once I got through that train of thought, I realized just how many strangers had been kind and generous while I was traveling alone with a one-year-old. I always had help from the person behind or in front of me in security in order to manhandle all my belongings and not lost control of Drew. The TSA folks helped me out there as well. People on planes helped keep the Drew Monster entertained when he got fussy on the plane because he couldn't roam free. And no matter how much I thought Andrew fussed, several other passengers called him a cutie and said how great he was.

And as I considered those positives, I returned to my Old Reliable, my standard method of spinning a generally shitty situation: Hey, it's just that much more experience to draw from in my writing.

I still swing around through the various reactions to this brief trip back to the place I supposedly just moved from, but the majority of the time, I'm looking at the positive. It helps now that my presentation is done and everything went very well. Now all that's left is to sit in on one more meeting that impacts my remote position and hurry back to the old apartment complex to investigate the mail situation before jetting back to Arizona. (And we'll be getting to DIA at least three hours before our flight leaves instead of the usual two. A lot of flights were either delayed or cancelled this morning due to the snow--the airport could be even more of a zoo than usual.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Briefly Back in Boulder County, Part 1

From earlier today before my computer got its wireless networking problem fixed.

I'm writing this in a darkened hotel room, the only light from the screen and a cracked bathroom door. Andrew is sleeping very peacefully on the king-sized bed. He woke up at about 5:15 and needed some comforting, so I took him out of the crib and cuddled until he went back to sleep. Then I set about getting ready for work. In Colorado. In the snow (again, dammit).

I've mentioned recently how there's been lots to talk about regarding this move, especially as concerns the Dreaded Day Job. Here comes the DDJ portion of the State of the Move.

This post started out as a screed in my mind, mellowed to a rant, mellowed even more to a "grin and bear it" observation, and even became a detailing of a unique experience with positive spin. I'm still not sure how I feel about all of this. At times I'm so angry that I want to scream and tear someone else's hair out (mine's already falling out of its own accord at the moment--gotta love stress). Other times, I'm so scared and nervous that I want to curl up into the fetal position and wait for someone to tell me it's all over. And sometimes I think about how much I'm learning and growing and how much I've seen kindness and generosity during the past couple of weeks…and I feel invigorated and hopeful.

First, the rant portion. I've been a key player in a project this year, and our findings from that project need to be presented to our major client. This presentation was originally slated for the beginning of October, or for the week after. Well, that didn't happen, and instead they at first wanted to do the presentation the week I was moving. I told them that sure, I could fly out to the client and present that week--as long as the DDJ paid to load up our truck and clean our apartment because that's what I would be doing the two days they wanted me out of state. They decided that was an imposition and schedule the meeting for this week and decided to fly me back to Colorado after I had been in Phoenix only a week.

Now for the screed portion. On Tuesday, my manager informed me that I had to come back on Wednesday instead of Thursday and stay through to the end of the week. As Mark and I were in the middle of a housing lot hold that ended Wednesday morning, this pissed me off. Then our daycare in Arizona (a tenuous, vague thing that had only been discussed in hypotheticals) completely disintegrated (thanks, in part, to Drew finally saying enough is enough with all of these changes and needing Momma in order to keep from pitching the Biggest Fit Known to Infants). And, of course, seeing as how it was Mark's first week, there was no way he could take time off. My mother's school goes on fall break next week, making the timing there so close as to be frustratingly ironic. And my mother's boyfriend is dealing with the boss's boss this week. Our only option: bring Drew with me back to Colorado. The upside to this is that he gets to go back to his regular daycare up here and hang with all his pals for a couple of days.

Regarding the Arizona house issue: we were able to do a little shuffling and guarantee the same house just on a different lot until Saturday, giving us time to work around my being out of state. I'll have a lot more to say about this matter after Saturday.

Now Andrew is up, and I need to feed him and me and figure out how bad the snow is and if I can drive the rental minivan in it beyond the five minute drive to work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hitting the Ground Running

Whew. We've officially moved. Mark started his new job today. Drew is slowly but surely adjusting. The cats are pissed.

I was all set to start breathing normally today, but we found a house that we absolutely love on our way back from dropping off the moving truck yesterday. Long story short: we put a 48-hr hold on it so we could do some heavy-duty research and number-crunching and figure out if it's going to work. Yeah, crazy to think that by mid-week, we could be homeowners. It's especially crazy when you consider that I'm going back to Colorado this Thursday and Friday for the DDJ.

Did you hear that high-pitched scream? It's either me or the cats.

I'm looking forward to getting some writing time finally this weekend. I really, really need it. A longer post with more details of the past couple of weeks of insanity should be landing on the blog by Sunday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

State of the Move

For over six years, I have enjoyed Colorado's variable weather. Indeed, it seemed the only way to experience winter: snow one week, warm up to the sixties the next, snow again, warm up to the fifties again, etc.

I am not so enamored of this today.

Yesterday it was a beautiful, sunny 70 degrees. Today, it's somewhere in the forties with friggin rain AND snow. Ordinarily, I'd just brew up some herbal tea, bundle in one of my favorite sweaters, and wait for the warming trend.

However, we are loading up the truck today.

We're cold. We're wet. Our stuff may need Arizona's heat just to dry off this weekend.

The only positive I can find at the moment (other than that, yes, the weather could be worse--*waves to the in-laws up in Buffalo*) is that this weather should be on its way out by the time Mark gets on the road Friday, and the entire front has steered clear of the mountainous stretch of highway at the Colorado-New Mexico border.


Lots of stuff has happened since I posted last, but I have not the time (nor the temperament, damn weather) to get into it now. I should be able to post on Friday and give an update.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yet Another Sunday Check-in

Mark's parents were in town, so I didn't have time to post until now. It was a great visit, although very quick. They graciously (hah, they're grandparents--it was eagerly) took care of the Drew Monster yesterday and today so Mark and I could get a ton of packing done. Andrew's room and closet are fully packed up except for the furniture and the stuff we're keeping out for easy use. The hall closet is good to go. All the knick knacks are packed away. It was a great start to the whole move out process. Plus, we got some really good news that a lot of builders in the newer Phoenix suburbs overbuilt recently expecting a lot more buyers that haven't materialized yet. They're hacking and slashing the prices (up to $50K) and tossing in all sorts of goodies to entice folks like us. Mark and I are drooling at the prospect of getting a brand new home for less than what we had anticipated spending on a used home. If the market stays like this, we may end up buying a house very shortly after arriving in AZ.

Things really haven't stopped clicking around here. It's a good feeling.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Figured It Out

For two seasons, now, I have been bitching and moaning about the 20th century medicine portrayed alongside faster-than-light technology on Battlestar Gallactica. I just failed to understand how such a society could exist, and the writers of the show never saw fit to enlighten me.

Well, I found the missing link and have pieced together how it's possible.

Ron Moore, the creator of BG, also wrote the horrendous Mission: Impossible II, which featured such gems as accessing a Level 4 biohazard lab through a central airshaft and protecting characters from the experiments being conducted in said lab by having them pull on a ski mask and standing for five seconds in a decon spray. Oh yeah, and having the baddies sequence the DNA of an RNA-type virus in a microscope that miraculously produced data you can only obtain by exposing film to a radioactive gel (not to mention the whole process takes several days; even with the most advanced sequencing tech we have today--six years after the movie--it would still take at least an hour to obtain a sequence).

So the piss-poor medicine of BG makes sense now because the creator of the show seems incapable of doing basic research. Case closed. But the rationale that makes this OK seems to be that--as I sit here through all this debate on suicide bombings during the season premiere--the show is just a thinly veiled stream of political commentary and nothing more.

I'll still watch it for at least a good quarter to a third of the season to see where they go with this, but I'm not enjoying all the preaching at the moment.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's Official

Mark did get the anticipated job offer Monday afternoon. He formally accepted it yesterday. He starts his first job using all that knowledge and skill he's spent the past ten years building on October 23. Andrew and I will be flying down to Phoenix on Oct 19, Mark will be driving down with all of our stuff on Oct 20. We'll be living with my mother for a few months as we shop (and save) for a house. I'll be working part-time remotely with my current company, flying back several times a year for a day or two.

It feels so amazing to finally have all of this decided and in motion. The next big hurdle is buying the house, but we're going to take our time on that one. We've already started that process and have really been pleased with the selection. It's amazing how good a housing market looks when it's not Boulder County (but not quite as amaizing as when it's not Orange County, I'm sure).

I'm going to try my best to maintain the blog during the next three weeks as we move and get settled into my mother's house, but if things go silent for a while, it's because I managed to pack myself into a box.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

One Year Ago Today...

The Drew Monster will be 365 days old at 5:00 PM today. It's amazing to think of all that has happened in this past year and how much the little guy has grown in all senses.

It honestly feels like both a lifetime and a second have passed since they wheeled me into my antepartum room, and I got to hold my son for the first time. He had been fussing for a bit before I arrived, but as soon as I propped him up on a pillow next to me and started stroking his cheek, he sighed and fell asleep. I think I stayed up a long time just looking at him sleeping beside me. I remember the nurses checking on me several times that night and scolding me for still being awake.

The day I was discharged, Andrew had fallen asleep pretty much in the crook of my neck. I had to sign all the release papers in a strange position to keep from waking him. I remember feeling his warmth and small weight all but burrowing into me and thinking how I would treasure that moment for a long time.

This morning I reflected back on that moment as Drew sat in my lap and rested his head on my chest while cuddling his blanket. He does that upon waking up in the morning or from naps for a minute or so before he's shaken off the sleep and is ready to run wild. His warmth is bigger as is his weight, but the best change is that he's just the right size that I can easily plant tiny kisses on his little blonde head as he rests on me.

During his first few days, Drew really only moved his hands and arms. He hated having them bundled at his sides and always managed to free them from every blanket swaddled around him. This translated into him always having his hands up over his head while he slept.

Nowadays, Drew is all about moving everything. Changing him is a two-person, full body contact process. Who needs a gym when I have to change his diapers? And, the biggest movement of all, he took his first steps yesterday (which I'll talk more about on Monday). It happened at daycare, of course, so Momma and Daddy missed the big "first step" milestone, but I'm sure he'll be toddling around very often very soon to make up for it.

They say that it all happens so fast, and they're right. I've tried very hard to appreciate moments and give them the extra weight in my memory that comes with reflection so I can flip through the images and feelings of all that Andrew has given us this year. I'm excited what he'll have added over the course of this next year.

Happy First Birthday, Andrew Thomas.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Where in the World was Kellie Hazell: Update

I've got more European Adventures to cover, I just don't have the time to write them up at the moment. So this feature is going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. Tune in then for accounts of trips to Wales, The Hague (Model United Nations), Rome, Venice, Fatima, and Lourdes.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Crappy Weekend

Mark's darn near guaranteed callback by Friday for the job didn't come through. This is not to say he didn't get the job, or that we're any less certain he'll get an offer (well, OK, so our ego took a hit, and we've gone from 99.9% to just 99% certain). But not hearing meant we couldn't do a number of things this weekend to start the move out process (the first of which being to notify our apartment complex on Oct 1 of a move out date so we didn't end up owing them November's rent despite the fact that we'll be moving out before the end of October--we're really not happy about this).

Add on to this all the illness running rampant between the Drew Monster, Momma, and Daddy, and you've got a recipe for a bunch of cranky folks. We tried to distract ourselves from the job situation and the colds, but there's only so much of that you can do. Especially when Drewbie had a very fussy day yesterday. I had moved away from the exhaustion phase of the cold into the all-over bodyache phase. Mark was in the exhaustion phase. Drew is ahead of the game and was probably somewhere between all-over bodyache and energetic enough to do things as if he were healthy but the flesh is still not quite there yet. Sigh.

By the way, today's Drewbie Monday post has been shuffled to Wednesday, in honor of the little runt's birthday. We have cupcakes standing by for demolition.