Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why I've Stopped Blogging

If you still have this page bookmarked, I owe you an explanation. It used to be fun to blog, and worth the pain in the ass of uploading pictures. But then Charlie started going to sleep later.  I can't be on the computer while he's awake since he'll either demand my attention ("Help me! Help me!") or insist that I play the "robot arms" video again, so he can DANCE. He's not usually in bed until around 9:30, and by then all I want to do is take prescription pain medications watch tv.  Blogging has become a thing that hangs over me, something that I'm not doing, and that's no fun.  I actually did a post at one point a few months ago, but never posted it because it sucked. 

It would be nice for the world to be blessed with my clever to come up with lines.  For example, Charlie's first sentence was, "More ketchup." But I didn't want it to become a series of stories about funny things my adorable son did. It's not just that it's too self-centered, I'd be afraid I'd cross a line and embarrass future Charlie. For example, we got an inflatable kiddie pool and put it in the backyard. (Having a house is awesome).  Charlie would lie on the edge of the pool, naked, pour a cup of water on his penis and say, "This is nice..." Does the world need to know that? Of course not. It would be wrong to post that on a blog.  (Side note: If I could have lunch with any two people who lived at any time in history, it would be my dad and Charlie when we are all 38, so we could meet each other as contemporaries).  

And now we're expecting another baby in December. Oh, did I not mention that?  Nilda's pregnant. (We spent years of shots and prayers to get Charlie, and for the second kid, we took a nap. And, it's another boy.)  So I think it's time to take a break from the blog.  I feel like Trey in 2004, which is a reference only Andrew will get. Maybe I'll get back into it someday or, maybe like all blogs, this one has run its course. In the meantime, here are a few things I've uploaded through the months that I never got around to posting.

Winter sucked. We moved to a house to get out of the cramped apartment, only to find ourselves stuck in a house that you have to shovel your way out of.  They say it takes a full year to adjust to a house, and they're right.  Btw, everyone who told me that I would have to shovel snow must not have known about the nice men who will shovel your driveway for you, and all you have to do is pay them.
We took Charlie to see Sesame Street Live, which meant he got to go on a train AND a taxi.  He was practically catatonic the whole time. Also, Madison Square Garden does not sell alcohol before noon on a Sunday and IT IS AN OUTRAGE!!
Charlie had his first taste of a black & white milkshake from Carvel. He's not sharing.
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I have no idea how my parents raised four kids.  Good job, Mommom and Poppop.
I have no idea how we realized this, but Charlie loves the Jeopardy theme song.  
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 Charlie mixes up the word "blueberry" with lady parts.
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Anything you say to Charlie can and will be used against you.  You need to STOP, Mommy!
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Thanks for following along.  Maybe I'll see you soon.  Oh, and the lawn's looking great, thanks for asking.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Lawn

It's been a long, terrible winter, but it's finally getting warmer, staying light longer and Deadliest Catch is coming back soon.  We can almost start to enjoy having a house again.  Tonight we worked on the lawn to achieve Nilda's dream of an organic lawn.  Here's what we did:
  • Dethatch: I had no idea what this meant two weeks ago, but apparently there's a layer of dead grass called "thatch" that can build up and suffocate the lawn.  You take it out by using a special rake to rip up the thatch and take away, but that's way too much work so we had the lawn people do it this morning.  Lawn people are your friends.  And they leave about 20 brown paper bags filled with thatch on your driveway. 
  • Aerate: When soil gets compacted and unable to properly drain water, it can hurt the grass. You can aerate it by punching little holes in the soil or using a chemical aerator.  I don't see how the chemicals is the way to go, but Nilda assures me this is part of her organic lawn plan.  She sprayed the aerator this afternoon.  
  • Top soil: We put top soil over the bare spots.  I gather this is supposed to give the seeds something to grow in, but I imagine this will mean the spots on our lawn that consistently flood will have the healthiest mud on the block. 
  • Overseed:  This is putting new grass seed on top of the lawn. Because apparently that's something you're supposed to do.  Nilda, after hours of research, picked out this very special kind of grass seed that has micro-clover and is supposed to be drought and weed resistant,  It must have vitamin c or something.  We were going to do this over the weekend, but the lawn people said we should do it now since it's supposed to rain tonight and that will make it harder for the seeds to sink in.  I got home a little early around 6 and we got to work.
  • Fertilizer:  After using the nifty rotary spreader to put down the seeds (because we have one of those now), we put Milorganite on the lawn.  Dad tells me that Milorganite is actually sewage from Milwaukee, which means it's very possible we have Matt and Mary's poop on our lawn.  Happy birthday, pookiebear.  
  • Compost: By now it's dark and Charlie is screaming his head off to go inside, but we have to put down the lobster-shell compost Nilda picked out on top of the grass, known as top dressing.  We had planned to use the spreader for this too, but soon learned that the compost, which is basically dirt to me, does not go through the spreader, so we were just throwing it around by hand in the dark.  Don't worry, I had watched one of the many youtube videos Nilda had sent me in advance, so I knew what to do. 
What all of this means is that you can never predict what kind of crazy obsession Nilda will pick up next.  When the girl who grew up in the city and did not want anything to do with yard work spends hours - hours - looking at pictures of shrubbery on line, you never know what will come next. She even got a compost bin.  Nothing is safe. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Charlie's First Haircut

Charlie had his first haircut tonight. There were tears, but Nilda survived intact. Charlie loved it. He got to sit in a taxi (which he chose) and turn the steering wheel while watching cartoons (Spongebob, which he had never seen before), so he was as happy as he could be. He didn't like the blow drying, as you'll see below, but he did really well. Luckily, the woman didn't cut off too much, so Nilda didn't have to cut anyone.  They gave us a certificate with some hair in a little baggie, but it's no where near as cool as what they were giving out in Miami in 1977 for Andrew and I. Charlie refused to look at the camera or even smile if a camera was present, but the lollipop at the end was his favorite part. I can't believe he'll be two in a week. When does college start?
 
P.S. - I know I'm way behind. I'm working on it. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

La Reconquista

We're finally settled in, and it's great.  It's the first time since last fall that I'm not wondering where we're going to live and how we're going to get there.  Now begins the task of making this place feel like home, of taking it back and making it ours.  Now begins La Reconquista.  Like the Europeans who pushed the Moors off of the Iberian peninsula (Spain) during the middle ages, we are taking this house back. I am El Cid of Quaker Ridge Road. 

Nilda has done or procured a ton of work around the house.  My father says that she'd better slow down or else she'll run out of things to do.  I told Nilda that he was right, to which she responded by laughing that "you're so stupid!" laugh, since we all know she'll never be done.  

Charlie absolutely loves the space.  He can finally run around without running out of room or upsetting the downstairs neighbors.  I, similarly, can walk as loud as I want and the only one who gets upset is Nilda.
This video of me chasing after Charlie ends the only way it possibly can.
 Charlie now goes down the big slide.
I bought a ladder to get the satellite dish off the room and I didn't fall off.  Who says I'm not athletic?  This let me take a ton of unused cables off the house, which is nice because this house has wires running everywhere, but none of them are compatible with Fios.  It's wired for the peak of technology in 1999. 
There was a Columbus Day carnival and Charlie was mesmerized by everything.  This is apparently where all the junior high kids hang out. Putting aside all of the horrible atrocities committed by Columbus, it was a great time.  The Indians who didn't bring the Spanish enough gold may have had their hands cut off, but Charlie loved zeppoles, so it all works out.  
We love going to the gym, where he gets to hone those athletic genes he inherited from his parents.  Here he is playing basketball.  Look at the care he takes in making sure the ball goes into the basket. Yeah, that kind of attention to detail clearly comes from me. 
Nilda took Charlie to story time at the library.  Nilda said it was a great program, but we all agree that Charlie is probably not ready to sit still for that long.  Also, this is what happens when Nilda thinks she can cut Charlie's bangs. 
Check out this sky from our driveway.

We went apple-picking again. It's technically "free" to take the flatbed the 50 feet to the apple trees and pumpkin field, but you can't leave without spending $60 on more apples and pumpkins than you ever planned on getting.  He said "ah-pul" for the first time and I kept wanting him to repeat it.
Look how different Charlie looks from a year ago.  
A girl a few months older than Charlie wanted to go on the seesaw with him, so naturally Charlie went and hid in the jungle gym.  The family tradition of being sleek with the ladies continues.  Don't worry, Charlie, it gets easier once you're married.  

These are the leaves on the trees by the playground.
We even got to spend time with our cousins.  
Finally, check out this hair.  The longer it gets, the more  Nilda says she'll never get it cut.  Every woman who sees his hair agrees, so Nilda's probably right. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The House

We finally made it.  It's been a month and we're finally settled in enough that it feels like we're home.  Moving day went fine.  You don't realize how much stuff you can stuff into an apartment until you actually have to move it. Charlie seemed to be fine on moving day, though he was a bit freaked out when we left Stella's to get the stuff out of the old apartment building.  It took the movers longer than I thought it would, but I didn't mind because I was glad that I didn't have to carry anything.  I'm handy. 
Here's the short tour.  Living room, dining room & foyer.  I  am NOT painting those blank walls. I tried to paint the trim in the study yesterday and it was a freaking nightmare.  That part of my life is over, Nilda. 
The kitchen, which is pretty sweet. Nilda tells me don't worry, we're only going to change a bunch of this. 
Outside the kitchen, dining room and downstairs family room is a great two-level deck.  The biggest change I've noticed in moving to the house, besides the space, is how easy it is to get outside.  In the apartment, you had to get your shoes on and go through the lobby just to check the weather outside, but now I only have to open one of the doors to see what's going on.   
That amazing looking thing in the back is the phenomenal grill that my parents got me us as a housewarming gift and I freaking love it.  (Don't worry, there's now an appropriate cover for the grill.)  This is the family room downstairs from the kitchen.
The bedrooms are above the family room (Nilda calls the house a side split).  We had Charlie's room painted first, and it looks great. 
This is the guest bedroom, i.e. Stella's room. She has stayed with us for days at a time and it's been great, but she's happy she gets to go home after a few days. The morning after that first night, she said, "This is great, but take me back to 192nd Street."  
This is the master bedroom which has an en suite bathroom, so Nilda can better hear me drop things into the sink.  The bathroom has a skylight which is surprisingly nice in the mornings.
People ask me how we like the suburbs and how we're adjusting.  The short of it is that I love it, and I'm pretty sure that Nilda and Charlie  feel the same.  Here's why:
  • I can finally walk as loudly as I want to.  One night, I started jumping up and down with Charlie, just because I could.  
  • The first time it rained, I heard a strange noise, only to realize that it was the rain hitting the skylight. 
  • New Rochelle is closer to nature than I expected.  I was shocked at how loud the insects were.  Our neighbors say they're used to it, but those crickets are loud!   And there's a ton of spiders here.  Nilda says it's my job to empty out all the bugs she catches with the dustbuster.  
  • MetroNorth is way more civilized than the subway. Plus, you get internet on your phone.  I like driving to and from the train station.  I'm always excited when I see the car in the garage, saying (mostly) to myself, "There it is!"
  • Everyone told me that I'd have to get used to driving everywhere and how convenient it is to have everything so close in the city.  But they don't realize how convenient it is to have to drive everywhere. You have so many more options, since you aren't limited to the places you can walk to, and you're also not limited in what you can get because you can stick it all in the trunk.  
  • Speaking of cars, we got a second car.  I am now in the two-cars suburban part of my life. I now have a dad car.  
  • I freaking love the grill.  I used it twice in one day.  I knew I'd like to barbecue, but I use it all the time.  It's way easier than an oven, it tastes better, and there's less clean up.  There is nothing as satisfying as watching a ball of fire reach up from the grill and engulf your chicken thigh.  
  • It's a different way of life. One night I heard a noise and assumed it was the neighbors, but then realized I don't have any neighbors.  I now have to check out sounds, like I'm in a scary movie or something.    
  • Dealing with garbage is easy.  I get to be the porter and go around collecting all the trash, that I put in big, outdoor trash cans that I put at the end of the drive.  Then - get this - people come and take it away twice a week.  For free!! 
  • Having our own washer and dryer is fantastic.  Doing laundry is still a pain, but it's not as big a big deal as it was in the apartment.  There's no concern that there won't be an empty machine or that somebody's going to take my stuff out of the dryer or that I'm doing laundry after the co-op's laundry room hours have ended.  I don't even have to put my shoes on to switch clothes from the washer to the dryer.
  • On a side note, I am making a concerted effort here to avoid the potty mouth.  My awesome niece Francesca now reads the blog and I don't want to be called "Uncle Bad Words" anymore.  I said "freaking" in front of her and she said I used the f-word, and I didn't feel it was appropriate to explain to her what the f-word really is.   
  • Verizon Fios is everything they said it would be.
  • It has not all been easy, though.  I thought that everything would be easier after we got all our stuff into the house, but I waited a while for that easy part to kick in.  I had envisioned walking into a perfect house, but all I saw was the things that needed repair.  Then I thought, wait a minute, we have to worry about the outside, too?
  • The first night we moved in, a pipe on the master bathroom toilet broke off and starting shooting water everywhere. Water was coming through the light fixtures in the family room below.  All I could think was that there's no one here to help us if we can't get this water to stop.  It was my nightmare scenario, and it happened within 5 hours of moving in. I rushed to the basement to shut off the water to the house, like I was Edgar on Deadliest Catch, only I didn't actually shut off the water, but turned ON the water to the outside faucet that had been left open, creating a river going out to the street, because I'm AWESOME.  Luckily, Nilda's handy and had already turned off the water at the toilet until my dad could come and fix it the next day.  
  • Nilda's definitely the handy one. My parents got her a fancy tool and drill set for her birthday and she was very excited.  Nerd.
  • Charlie loves it here.  We moved so that Charlie could run, and that seems to be working out.  He pushes his toys all over the place and runs around.  He goes outside whenever he wants and there's a playground right nearby.  He's even discovered sidewalk chalk.  Nilda has been taking him to The Little Gym, where he gets to run around and play with this other little boy (the instructors call him and Charlie "besties").  He has a tantrum every time he has to leave, so we know he likes it.     
  • He's getting so big.  I can't believe he'll be 2 in December.  
  • Charlie has gotten way into trains.  "Choo choo," as he calls them. It started with Thomas and he's added on Chuggington (thanks, Aunt Harley).  He still watches Sesame Street like it's the news.  
  • I have been meeting a bunch of other dads at the playground.  We all seem to have a lot in common, we work in the city, talk about the train station we use, only go to the playground on nights and weekends, and keep asking each other's names because we can't remember names to save our lives. 
Life is good in New Rochelle.  More to come. 
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P.S. - You can see both Nilda and Charlie in that top picture. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Almost

We moved all of our stuff out of the apartment on Saturday, August 3, and have been living at Stella's ever since.  The move out of the apartment wasn't too bad. We were able to store all of our stuff in the vacant apartment next door, so I was able to move most things over the week before and had Andrew and Matt over to help with the big things.  They hated when I said thank you, so really, thank you guys, so much. You guys are the best.  Charlie liked it because we placated him with Cheetos. 
We got a bunch of stuff over to Stella's and finally settled in. Things weren't as tight as I thought they would be and I was feeling pretty good about it.  Charlie was happy that he still got to watch The Chica Show.  The thing to realize about this picture is that no one put him under the covers, he realized how awesome that is all by himself.  
Stella's has been good.  Charlie loves her cooking and especially loves eating dinner in front of the tv, Nilda and Stella have even managed not to kill each other and Stella has shown me how having Corona in a glass with ice cubes can make sense. Seriously, Andrew, try it.  And try putting a closed Corona bottle in the freezer and then putting it in a glass.  It's like a beer slushy.  Living here reminds me a lot of when we vacationed in Florida last year. The only thing is that you have to be like MacGuyver to open or close Stella's door, so I've pretty much stayed away from that.  One of the best decisions we made was to bring Charlie's crib and high chair to Stella's, because god forbid this kid not eat or sleep on schedule. 
We also had a long weekend with my family in Philadelphia, where Charlie was introduced to Uncle Forest's pancakes.   Like Lacey says, they're not as good without the chocolate chips. 

Francesca told me this weekend that I was in "the bad words club" because I said a bad word.  I considered explaining that "friggin" was not a bad word, but thought better of it.  Charlie and Serena are getting along great and it's fun watching them play together.  By "playing," I mean Charlie pretty much follows her around.


Stella babysat for us one night this we while we went to look at getting a second car.  She put him to sleep at 7:30 pm, when he normally goes to sleep at 9:00 pm. All was fine until he woke up at 10:15 pm.  And 10:50. And 11:15.  Until finally he went into the living room at 12:15 and lay down on the floor. 

Through all this, we managed to close on the house.  It was still crazy right up until the end.  Without getting into details, let's just say that I left to attend the closing without knowing if it would actually take place.  But all seems well and Nilda did a walkthrough of the house tonight.  She came home saying we had a lot of work to make the house "pretty," which is terrifying to me.  We move into our house tomorrow and, luckily, Stella is coming with us, because Charlie luuuvs his YaYa. 
Making things better is that my parents are coming on Saturday.  Happy birthday, Dad!  I'm looking forward to having you and Mom come in on Saturday.  Mom can clean things we already cleaned and unpack things we don't want her to unpack, while you can point out all the things in the house that I won't understand.  

PS - The best part of all of this is that I don't need to hoard quarters for laundry anymore.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

So How Are Things Going With The House?

The quick version is that things are going well.  The long version is that this has been an epic ordeal.  We've had three inspections, two contracts, four offers and too many open houses to count.  We saw the market go from being quiet and simple to absolutely crazy, with houses that had been sitting on the market for weeks suddenly get multiple offers.  Things got so hectic that in one day, we saw three houses and had to decide on which we wanted to make an offer. It was like living an episode of House Hunters.  We made an offer on a house for $22,000 over asking price and we still didn't get it, and we weren't even surprised.

The process showed us what we actually want in a house and want we don't want. For example, we saw one house that we really liked and almost had a deal, until we learned how much of a pain oil heat is, as opposed to gas.  We learned all about the school districts in Westchester and why, to Nilda's dismay, the beautiful old Victorian in Park Hill was not going to work for us.  We learned that we might actually be very happy in an early 1960s split level.

Where we are now is that we have a contract and are on the verge of closing on the house that was far and away my first choice.  We actually came very close to this house once before, after we cut bait with the first house with oil heat, only to lose it to someone offering 50% cash.  I didn't understand why this was a big deal six months ago, but now I realize that putting down 50% cash means the buyer getting the mortgage is not as important or difficult and makes life much easier for the seller. We found another house around the corner that was not as nice and were hours away from signing the contract on that house when we learned that my first choice came back on the market.  

Days later, we were ready to sign the contract on the house when the sale of our apartment became an issue.  We needed to make sure that our apartment would actually sell, since the contract on the house was not contingent on the sale of our apartment (NY is weird).  We had a very tense weekend, but the sellers gave us a week and our buyers were approved by the coop Board.  Everything worked out well, but man that was rough.  Whatever else happens, I have learned that getting and having a house is not as easy as it looks when you're a kid. 

The new issue, because there always is one, is that we don't know when we'll be able to move into the house.  We were supposed to close on August 1, but that's not working for the sellers now and we can't get a date from them.   We closed on the apartment in late June and are able to stay in the apartment until very early August pursuant to a post-occupancy agreement, but we'll be homeless after that.  We have some plans, but the lack of a definite plan is killing Nilda annoying.    
 
We've been packing and thank God we started early because this is going to take forever.  You just don't realize how much stuff you accumulate.  Here's most, but not all of the boxes we've packed so far, and how knows how many more we'll need. 
I'll try to keep blogging through this, but you can already see how much of a toll Charlie switching his bedtime from 8:30 pm to 9:00 pm has taken on the blog, so don't hold your breath.  In the meantime, Charlie has been doing great.  
  • He is getting bigger and bigger and smarter and smarter.  He has already learned how to give attitude. 
  • Charlie luuvs his naps.  He may fight going to sleep, but he loves lying down in the middle of the day.  And what's not to love?  Enjoy it while you can, Charlie.  
  • I've started reading Charlie "Caps For Sale," which is a book I remember reading when I was a kid.  The book says that there are gray, red, blue and brown caps. I don't see a brown cap, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of orange caps.
  • Charlie is very sensitive with his feet.  He does not like to walk outside barefoot and hates dirt.  Nilda said that he started limping the other day and wouldn't put his foot down.  When she looked at it, the problem was that he had a sesame seed on his foot.  A sesame seed.
Like his father and uncle before him, Charlie has wild time after dinner.  Thank God we're moving to a home without downstairs neighbors. 
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He's starting to use more words. Nilda told me that one day, he said to her, "Outshide?  Mommy?  Peash?  Outshide?"  And when it's hot, you KNOW Nilda wants to go outside!  And check him out saying "pizza." 
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Nilda loves to play with his hair.  Here is a blurry picture of Charlie with a Steven Segal ponytail. We have just learned that using conditioner is way easier than spraying on detangler and combing his hair. I never realized that my 19-month old needing conditioner was a consequence of marrying Nilda.  She said today that maybe he needs a haircut, but we both know she'll never do it.  She, along with everyone else, just loves those little blond curls too much.
Charlie still likes to have things his way.  Here he is chilling at a party.  He stopped wanting to leave when everyone started paying attention to him. 
Charlie's new thing is to find a cute girl the playground, smile and stare at her until she plays with him.  Charlie's got game.  And then he runs like a track star, with that one arm flopping around just like Lilah used to run.  Until he falls down. Which is quite often. 
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He can even go down the slide by himself now.
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Here's hoping Charlie likes the suburbs.  He'll miss the street and the park and the Saturday morning chocolate croissants, but he'll have multiple rooms, a back yard and the ability to run as much as he wants.  Plus, there's a playground right near the house and a ton of kids.  I think this will work out well.  I mean, no one's ever made any movies, tv shows or books about people being unhappy living in the suburbs, right?