Monday, November 26, 2012


When Meredith and Lucas came to visit a few weeks ago, she shot the funniest video of Charlie and Lucas having a conversation. Well, Charlie tends to dominate the conversation a tad. They cover important topics like facial hair, Charlie's boo boo and getting BIG!

She posted it on her blog here.

34 Weeks Bump

I'm not sure this photo adequately shows how big I really am... or feel. I feel huge and imbalanced and achy and ready to not be pregnant anymore. I have less than 5 weeks until my c-section and I'm WHINY. 

I've reached the point in pregnancy where most of the maternity tops no longer cover everything and full panel jeans are sooo uncomfy. I rotate between yoga pants and these drawstring grey pants mostly - because they go under the belly. When I'm feelin' fancy - leggings! 

Homegirl has not been shy about letting me know her accommodations are now inadequate. Much like with Charlie, my ribcage receives the message most frequently. Seems I've got another Baby Cullen in there. Ahh, the perils of being short waisted. 

My beloved chiropractor went and quit the practice. Something about his dream of starting his own practice, blah blah blah. Said practice will be at least an hour away so all I could think was HOW can he leave meeee???? I've been to see his replacement twice and it's just not working. I've gone from feeling great to hurting all the time. I foresee a breakup. It's not me, it's you. 

Insomnia has set in, just getting me ready to be a night owl. I collapse in exhaustion around 8:30 or 9pm and then am up and ready to go at 3! I've been fighting it, but I really should just get up and do stuff. It's the way Mother Nature intended. I start to get tired again when it's time for Charlie to get up, though. 

The nursery is coming together - hopefully I can post some pictures soon. I still need to find a rocker/glider chair and get the rug laid down. Just need to buy a few more items and I'll feel mostly ready for baby. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch, but that's why there's Amazon Prime, right?

I have a doctor appointment this week and then my final ultrasound on December 10. After that I will see the doctor every week until delivery. Brad is hopefully going to be done traveling for a bit by mid-December. Sooo... that'll be handy if I go early for any reason! I don't know why I would, though. Even thinking about going early feels impossibly optimistic. 

So that's all that's going on in the land of discomfort! If I get any bigger I'll post another pic! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Charlie had his Thanksgiving program at preschool today and it was adorable. Apparently he didn't sing at all during rehearsals, but sang his little heart out during the actual program. Perhaps he needed a large audience for motivation?

I was kicking myself because I realized right at the program was beginning that I had left my phone in the car and couldn't video it. When we got home (and he had changed from school clothes into a soccer uniform, naturally) he agreed to sing for the video camera. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lessons in Totaling My Car

I hope your car never gets totaled. And if it does, I hope nobody is in the car and the person who hits you has excellent insurance. We are almost done with the whole process and I'm pretty sure it's aged us a few years.

Not having ever been in a serious accident or totaled a car, all of this was totally new to both Brad and me. We learned a lot. It is stressful, that is for sure. And I say that as someone who is mostly happy with how her insurance handled the whole thing.

I bought my new-to-me car today, so we are almost towards the end of getting back to normal around here. I was thinking about things I wish I'd known and decided to write them down. Please pin and read later! Kidding. But just in case you ever need it, here's what I wish I'd done differently and some things I'm glad we did.

I wish I'd understood how our rental car coverage works
We had rental car coverage, which was huge for us because Brad drives an older 2 door car that has no Latch system for the car seat. We ended up having the rental car for 3 weeks, so the extra coverage was definitely worth it. But not all rental car coverage is the same.

Some insurance companies will provide you a rental car until they've cut you a check for your car or a few days after they extend the first offer of compensation. We instead had a dollar amount that we could spend at Enterprise and when that was spent, our coverage was done - no matter where we were in the process.

I wish I had known that from the get-go. I would have turned down the obnoxiously huge SUV they gave me for something cheaper so we could have kept it longer for car shopping purposes.... and because our claims adjuster worked at a snails' pace. But I didn't read and understand our policy, so we had to give up the rental car before we were settled in a new car.

I'm glad we did extensive research on our car's value
Apparently (from what the claims adjuster told me), a lot of insurance companies use a third party vendor, CCC, to evaluate how much totaled cars are worth. While CCC has a lot of data, they may not be versed in your particular car and the warranties, options, etc. If you want to successfully disagree with the amount CCC comes up with, you better have some backup information to provide as to why.

This is where Brad and his mad skills come in. If I can brag for a minute, the man can do crazy fabulous things with a spreadsheet. And that's exactly what he did to document every shred of evidence we found as to the value of my car. Comparables, evaluations, values for each of the upgrades, etc. All compiled neatly and averaged precisely. It took him several hours when he also had deadlines looming - but ended up paying off.

We provided all this information to the insurance company since our average was higher than what CCC came back with. Our claims agent's manager called me and said it was clear there were several things CCC did not include in their evaluation, so they were going to give us the average that Brad had determined in his spreadsheet. Talk about time well spent. I'm telling you. MAD SKILLS.

I wish I'd started locating a replacement car immediately
We bought our Volvo when it was almost 2 years old, paid it off a couple of years ago and planned to find an equivalent car that cost no more than our settlement. This was a challenge. Finding a used car with specific options and mileage was tough - there was not a lot to choose from.

We ended up with something pretty close, but it took a lot of nail biting, phone calls, waiting, hoping, panicking... so yeah, I admit, I kind of freaked out last weekend that I had no car to buy and no more rental coverage. I got lucky in that something popped up in our price range earlier this week - I could have been waiting for a while. I should have some salesmen searching for something during the entire claims process.

I wish I'd figured out where my smashed up car's title was immediately
This was kind of a mess. After we settled with the insurance company on the amount, they told me I needed to sign and send in the title to my car. I went to our files and... no title. I went to the DMV to replace it and couldn't without a copy of the release of lien letter from the bank that once held our loan. So then I had to wait for the bank to give me that document. It added a few days to a process where time was already of the essence.

Also - be sure to get your wrecked car's license plates. This will save you some money and time with the DMV. I just found this out today when I went to buy my car. The CDs, carpool number and reusable shopping bags that I did get out of the car have not been nearly as useful.

I wish I'd hounded the insurance company to release the check ASAP
Boy did they drag their feet. They don't like letting go of their money. I had a car waiting to be bought and a claims adjuster who had everything she needed... and still sat on the check for a few days. It's enough to make an already hormonal woman go mad. I should have called her boss.

Ok, so now that I evaluate, I guess there were more mistakes than things we did right. And I can't even really take credit for the thing we did right - that was all Brad. I told him tonight when I came home with the new car that I couldn't have done this without him. And he told me if I hadn't smashed up my car, he couldn't have done this without me either! Ahh, it's nice to be useful.

I really do love my new car. I thought for a while I was just going to have to feel disappointed in what I ended up with because there were so few options out there for me. And that just made me madder at myself for getting in this stupid accident in the first place.

I'm trying to get over that. Accidents happen, and I was very, very fortunate mine was not any worse and nobody got hurt. But there is no better incentive to drive extremely safely than going through the headache of the "total loss" process. So I hope you never have to.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Clothing Wars

The above photo, while cute, is of a child wearing seasonably inappropriate clothing. You probably can't see the children playing at the park behind Charlie, but they are in jeans and jackets. We are having MAJOR battles over here about wearing shorts and t shirts on chilly days. So much so that today I am packing up all short sleeve shirts, soccer uniforms and shorts until the spring.

I can live with the fact that Charlie only wants to wear athletic looking clothing. I even bought him 3 pairs of the "training pants" that he loves so much last week. I've gone ahead and mourned that I can no longer dress him in cute outfits. I'm over it.

But when he's going through the dirty clothes to find the SAME short sleeve t-shirt and shorts he wore 3 days in a row, that is covered in the residue of about 5 different meals and it is presently 48 degrees out, I have to draw the line. Do they make laundry baskets with locks on them?

I finally managed to throw out the too-short training pants that had a hole in them. And the too-small pumas Charlie christened his "Chelsea shoes" that he found and has decided are the most awesome shoes ever, even though he wouldn't touch them for a month after we bought them. We don't move on easily around here. His "Spiderman shoes" are looking pretty tired, but I honestly don't have the energy to try and make him move on from those.

This is the outfit Charlie fished out of the dirty clothes this morning (the photo is from a couple of weeks ago) and it is COLD today. Another standoff for us before he can go outside to play!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


We have entered to fun years of Halloween! Charlie "gets it" and spent the entire month of October excited about Halloween night. Brad cut his work trip short so he could be back in time to trick or treat with us. I haven't been this excited about Halloween since I was a kid. 

Charlie's been telling me since, oh, August, that he wanted to be Batman, though there was a week there where he switched to Spiderman. I bought most of his costume on Etsy, which is where mothers who don't sew can go to buy things from mothers who do. The cape is actually reversible, with Spiderman on the other side, in case he changed his mind. And then I just added a black t-shirt and sweatpants from Target. He loved his costume. 

On Halloween morning there was a parade of kids in costumes at preschool before they went back to their classrooms for their Halloween parties. All the kids looked so cute. Charlie looked like a deer in headlights, but Spiderman was coaxing him along. His classroom has this group of little boys that are all good friends - and big fans of the superheros.
One thing I hadn't accounted for was how to keep Charlie busy between preschool pick up and our neighborhood Halloween potluck. Fortunately, we received a special package of fun Halloween things from my Aunt that kept Charlie busy for quite a while.

We decorated one of the pumpkins with the Mr. Potato Head skeleton kit:
And played a lot with these lasers that strap on your fingers and light up. These were a huge hit.
The rest of the day I implemented a plan of forced physical labor. We swept off the front walk and back deck, which were covered with piles of leaves and pine tags that dropped during the hurricane. Charlie loves doing anything outside and it was a beautiful, chilly fall day after a few days of clouds from Sandy.

Finally it was time to get in costume! We headed across the street to our neighbor's driveway for our potluck dinner with our neighbors. I made the macaroni and cheese from the Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook and oh. my. gosh. That is a yummy recipe.

Getting the kids to eat was a challenge, per usual. Charlie was so excited when Daddy got home that any hopes of eating real food were dashed. Let's just get this sugar rush started.

Charlie and his good friend Owen were bouncing off the walls! Owen dressed as Darth Vader. At one point we couldn't find them and they had walked right into our other neighbors' house and started playing in their basement play room. Make yourselves at home boys!
Each year trick or treating in our neighborhood gets better. There have always been several block parties, but more and more families with young kids have moved in and this year it was swarming with munchkins in costumes. I saw some people even drove over and parked to trick our treat in our area.

Charlie trick or treated a bunch with his friend Superman. His mom was wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt that I am very jealous of. I have always been a huge Wonder Woman fan. Next year, that's my costume!
I ended up leaving a bowl of candy on the front porch for the trick or treaters so I could walk around with Brad, Charlie and our friends. It's always so much fun seeing everyone. It's also usually fun to try out all the fun fall-themed cocktails different people bring. Oh well, next year!

Some people really went all out with their decorations this year. I feel like a bit of a Halloween slacker. I'll have to put some more effort into it when Charlie gets older and doesn't want me trick or treating with him anymore.
It was so much fun watching his excitement this year. He ran from house to house and was so excited to say trick or treat and collect candy in his bucket. He told just about everyone all about his costume. He started digging into his candy, but we managed to save most of it for him to have a piece of each night after dinner. Chocolate is an excellent tool to bribe some good behavior out of him.

At the end of the night, though, we had a pretty upset kid. He didn't want the fun to end. And he definitely didn't want to go to bed! The next morning he told me he was going trick or treat again that night. When he saw me pulling down the Halloween decorations, he burst into tears and told me to stop! Now that's a kid who loves Halloween.