The Hazards of a Bottom-Mount Freezer

When we first realized we were going to be buying our house, and doing a massive renovation, we went appliance shopping in SoHo. Travis took me into a deluxe shop that featured European appliances. He marched right over to the smallest wall oven I’ve ever seen... literally, this thing was the size of a toaster oven. This was the oven he thought we should buy. I would have laughed, but this is Travis and I knew he was serious. I pointed out all the problems with buying such a small oven, and he quickly rebutted each one: My cookie sheets wouldn’t fit in it (I could buy new ones!), I couldn’t cook more than one thing at a time (we could get TWO of them!), it wouldn’t accommodate a frozen pizza (we’ll have our pizza delivered!), cooking a Thanksgiving dinner was out of the question (you’ve never cooked one anyway!). Besides, he pointed out, listen to how nicely it “thuds shut”. Definitely something I’m looking for in an oven.

After I had a meltdown, he agreed we could get a slightly larger version of the oven. The next problem was the refrigerator. The one Travis wanted was about 18” wide, again made by a German company and designed for small apartments. I couldn’t understand why we were moving to the suburbs so we could have smaller appliances. Travis and our architect convinced me that the small fridge was the EPITOME of our new kitchen layout, and simply must be used. I was promised I could have another, full sized fridge in the basement to hold juice and whatever wouldn’t fit in the upstairs fridge (basically anything bigger than a piece of string cheese), so I wouldn’t have to go to the store every day. Walking up and down the stairs 20x per day would be much better!

Imagine how thrilled I was when we realized that our architect’s marvelous plan, which involved moving the powder room halfway across the house, among other things, was way out of our price range. We quickly scaled back the renovation, and in our new design, I negotiated a full-sized fridge. (As it turns out, there is one rebuttal that trumps anything Travis can come up with... “Resale value!”)

We picked a great one; it’s a Jenn Air stainless steel cabinet-depth model, with the freezer on the bottom. My Nana used to have a bottom-mount freezer, and I’ve always thought they were cool. I just didn’t realize how accessible they made everything IN the freezer to kids.

For example, C has a friend J who comes over to our house frequently. It took J about 3 seconds to figure out that he could help himself to the contents of our freezer, which typically holds popsicles, ice cream, frozen Gogurt, and other treats within reach of small hands. On many occasions I’ve found the freezer left open by one of the kids, as they were browsing around and forgot to close it. My kids have pretty much learned and accepted that they must still have permission to eat the junk I keep in the freezer, but one day S and her friend E used up all the ice making packs for their animals, and there was water seeping out of plastic bags all over the house for days. Another hazard is that the kids use the handle on the freezer as a step stool to access things in the fridge. I’m pretty sure the designer of the Jenn Air fridge didn’t account for the weight of a 45 pound girl on the handle of the freezer. I’ve told them about a million times not to stand on the handle but conveniently, they keep forgetting.

The most recent event just happened the other night. Scout announced after dinner that she was going to make herself a milk shake, and since I was on my computer in the office, I told her to go for it and wished her luck. All seemed to be going well until I heard her exclaim, “Oh, no!” I yelled out, “What happened?” and she replied, “I think I used the wrong milk.” I assumed she had gotten my soy milk, and hoisted my giant body up and into the kitchen for further investigation. Turns out she had gotten the buttermilk by mistake, and after dousing her carefully scooped ice cream with it, had taken a big bite. Yuck.


Yet Another Reason to LOVE Target

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Target. I know a lot of people say that, but I REALLY love Target. I'd go there every day if I could, and I can't walk out of the store without dropping at least 200 bucks.

I went there yesterday with my two sick kids. S got the dreaded stomach virus after me, and C was sick with a horrible cold. It had been a long couple of days with both of them cranky and miserable, and I decided an outing to Target was just what we needed.

We walked in and headed straight for the Target Cafe, so the kids could get pizza and Icees. They had changed the flavors slightly since our last visit and were now featuring a Pepsi Icee! It's no Coke Slurpee, but hey, I'll take what I can get. Definitely the highlight of my week.

Why I Feel Like Kicking Someone in the Face Right Now

It all started last night, while I was eating dinner. Before I ate, I was feeling kind of nauseous, usually an indicator that it’s time to eat again. However the feeling continued to increase while I was eating. It was dodgeball night at the church for the Young Men and Young Women, so I went though still feeling sick. After I got home I was watching Veronica Mars while folding laundry when it hit me. Most of my dinner came up into the kitchen sink, with the rest following at 1 am. The next morning I felt half dead and totally dehydrated.

Travis woke up at 8 and came in to check on me (I had migrated to C’s bed in the night) and asked what he needed to do to get S ready for school. He returned 10 seconds later to inform me we had yet another dead fish on our hands, and we couldn’t get sobbing S out of bed to get ready for school. We finally got her on the bus, though I don’t think she got any breakfast, and I began ingesting as much Coke and Gatorade as my stomach could handle. By 12 pm I was hopped up on enough caffeine to get the car washed, so C and I went up to Harrison. When we arrived, the guys told me they were just about the break for lunch and told me to come back at 1.15. So now I had 45 minutes to kill in a town I’ve barely ever been to. We decided to try and find C a muffin, and after trying 4 different stores (in and out of the car THREE TIMES) we finally found the right kind of muffin. Then I filled the car with gas, and we went back to get it washed.

My entire pregnancy, the biggest craving I’ve had was for pancakes, but a close second is a Coke Slurpee. Unfortunately, 7-11's are few and far between in New York. I recently discovered that there’s a 7-11 in Scarsdale, so I decided today was the day I really deserved/needed that Coke Slurpee. I put the address into my car’s navigation, and to the background noise of complaints from my darling son, drove to Scarsdale. Once I got there, the closest parking spot was a good half mile away from 7-11, so I dragged C out of the car and through the freezing cold. While holding my coat around me (my stomach is too big to zip it up), I kept telling myself this miserable walk would all be worth it when I got home with my Coke Slurpee. We walked in the store and headed to the Slurpee machine... and the Coke one was BROKEN. The only flavors that were working were grape (no way) and Crystal lite (disgusting). I spun around and stormed out. And that’s why I feel like kicking someone in the face right now.

The Name Game

At the beginning of December we went to the baby’s sonogram. Had you asked me ahead of time what I thought the baby was, I would have said I had no clue. But apparently I thought it was a girl, because when we found out it was a boy I was genuinely shocked. I even shed a couple surreptitious tears, as I had hoped for a sister for S. Of course I got over it quickly, but the lingering problem remains: We had a girl name all picked out. We’ve been saving the name Vera (Trav’s seriously awesome grandma) forever. We nearly used it as a middle name for S, but decided it warranted first name status. A few weeks into my pregnancy, we got a phone call from his brother. The entire purpose for the call was to inform us that he and his wife were putting dibbs on the name Vera, to which Travis replied, “Sorry dude! Whoever has a baby girl first gets to use it.” We smirked at each other, knowing we’d definitely beat them to the punch.

So now here we are, with no boy names we can agree on. Here is a sampling of names I like: Beck, Ren, Jasper, August, Cyrus, Heath. I’m looking for something short, unique, but not weird. Here are the names that Travis has suggested: Helvetica, Fabian, Magnus, Magnum, Thunder, Gustaf, Ingemar, Utah, Futura, Grand. Do you see the problem here? Travis is clearly leaning towards something Swedish, or the name of a font. What can I say? We’re totally screwed. How bad would it be to name a boy Vera?


Shark Boy and Lava Girl

We’ve been having some separation anxiety problems with our son lately, and he refuses to go to school as a result. If I can manage to get him into the school (which isn’t easy since my midwife says I’m not allowed to lift him up, and he locks the door and holds the door handle so I can’t even get at him in the car), he cries and screams for up to 45 minutes when I leave. It’s gotten so out of hand that I’ve been pulling out all kinds of bribes to try and get him to go, and one day I made the mistake of offering a pet if he would go to school for 2 weeks without crying.

He said he wanted a frog, but after a bit of research I found out several big drawbacks to owning a frog:
1. Frogs can live for up to 15 years.
2. Frogs eat live bugs, which have to be purchased weekly and put in their cage.
3. It’s hard to find people to “frog sit” when you’re out of town because of #2.

I quickly talked him out of a frog and into a fish, and the chart was made. S is a big fan of charts and reward-based reinforcement, and quickly jumped on the fish bandwagon as well. So we made her a chart too, even though she’s a practically perfect child who really doesn’t have much to improve on. Because her chart was so easy for her to do, she finished a week before C. I had taken her to the Urologist on Friday and we decided on the way home to pick up the fish. She settled on two gold fish, which set me back 1.00 but I had to buy the bowl, the food, the water conditioner, the net... and all of that was another 15 bucks. She was SO happy on the way home; she kept saying stuff like, “I can’t believe I have pets! My very own pets!” She named them Shark Boy and Lava Girl, because the kid at the pet shop told us one was a boy and one was a girl, and told us how to tell the difference. I wish he had told us how to keep the damn things alive.

The next morning, E (our next door neighbor who is 6) came over to see the fish. It was right around that same time that we realized Lava Girl was hovering at the bottom of the bowl, and hadn’t moved all morning. S was devastated, despite the talk I had given her in the car the day before about fish mortality. Of course we both assumed the fish would live longer than 12 hours. She cried for 2 hours, despite my generous donation of a pretty box to serve as a coffin and a lovely funeral service performed by Travis. Finally I told her I would take her back to the pet store to get more fish, and this was the only thing that curbed the tears.

C, S and I piled into the car and drove back to Petland. This time I opted to spring for the more expensive gold fish, assuming they would be heartier and hopefully live longer. The new fish were white and gold, and we got two of them. Again, S was thrilled on the drive home. ONE HOUR LATER, we lost one of the new fish. Poor S has been on an emotional roller coaster ever since. We took the kids out to dinner and ice skating with friends on Saturday night, and although she enjoyed herself immensely, she kept coming over and saying to me, “Mom, I’m worried about the fish.” If we’re at home, she checks on them every 10 minutes, and when she’s been gone it’s the first thing she does when we return. The poor kid is as anxious as a new mother.

So now C has finished his chart. All week he’s been saying that on Friday we’re going to get his fish... he’s picked out two black goldfish that are really neat looking. I’m desperately trying to talk him into something else... a new Leapster game? A tennis racket? A Batmobile? Anything that can’t die. I can’t take it anymore. Suddenly the frog that lives for 15 years isn’t sounding like such a bad idea!


I had really big plans to document our move from Brooklyn to the burbs. Up until the actual move, I thought I’d have all kinds of time to write about the goings-on in our new house. Little did I know I wouldn’t even have time to shower, let alone write humorous entries about how badly my life sucked. Here is the Cliff’s Notes version, for your reading enjoyment.

The two weeks before our move were insane. I had to go up to Westchester just about every five minutes for various reasons, the biggest of which was clearing the house of all the previous owners’ junk we had agreed to remove. I can’t even begin to describe how much crap was crammed into every square inch of the house. I had hired a company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK to haul it all away, at the tune of 500 bucks per truck load. The first day alone we filled three trucks, and the house was still completely over-run with stuff. In the hall closet I took out approximately 73 boxes of sanitary napkins. This was a complete mystery to me, as the woman who had lived there was well in her nineties and probably had gone through menopause forty years earlier. I really don’t think these folks EVER threw anything away.

Our official moving day was the first Saturday in April. We couldn’t have picked a rainier day to do it. The missionaries were rock stars, moving all our stuff out of 29 Tiffany and into the moving truck. The new owners of 6L had bought all our furniture from us, so it was mostly just boxes and mattresses. I must admit though, Trav and I were astounded at how many boxes we had. How did two minimalists acquire so much stuff? Then Travis drove up to the new house with Enoch, Jeff, Joe and Russ and they unloaded everything into the one room the GOT-JUNK guys and I had managed to clear out. It was a pretty miserable evening.

After returning the moving truck, we ate dinner at our new neighbor’s house (the Dowdles) and then Travis and Calder hung out in the car while Scout and I scrubbed and cleaned the walls and floors of the dining room. We went to bed that night with our mattresses tossed on the cold floor, still partially wet from being moved in the rain.

The next couple weeks were not much better than our first night. After many quotes on how much it would be to fix the popcorn ceilings, scrape off the safari-inspired wall paper, and paint the upstairs bedrooms, we decided to do it ourselves. I spent the next month being covered in paint and all manner of debris. We made many trips to Ikea to buy dressers and beds, and I became a pro at putting them together. About a week before we left for a family reunion in California, we finally moved upstairs to the bedrooms. There’s a lot I’m leaving out here, like the day I was sure I was killing my family with aesbestos poisoning, the roof/dumpster debacle, the washer-dryer drama, the tick calder got behind his ear... all will make excellent posts later on. I think if enough time passes I’ll be able to write about this stuff from a humorous perspective... right now it’s still too depressing.

The kids and I spent the summer in Colorado and Utah, staying with family and playing with all our cousins and friends. Travis was mostly at work, where he lived while the house got torn apart and put back together. The separation was hard on everyone, but it was all worth it in the end. The house is FINALLY almost done; there are just a few things left to do. Now that we’re done, we’re talking about finishing the attic before the baby comes. S & C love their new house, and having their own bedrooms. They love the new ward, which is bursting with kids their ages. Their favorite thing about suburban life BY FAR is no more downstairs neighbors. One of our favorite jokes is when the kids are being loud and running around, we yell, “You guys be quiet! The neighbors!” and they yell with glee, “WE DON’T HAVE ANY NEIGHBORS!” Life is pretty good.