Monday, July 31, 2006

In da SLC

Okay, and now to the meat of the matter: the new digs.

My first impressions are that SLC is pretty darn cool--I think I could with all fairness say that it, even in light of the fact that it's been in the *triple digits* EVER SINCE WE GOT HERE (okay, not today, but up until today) that it is a mother's paradise. Changing tables almost everywhere. Some with diaper genies, even! Everything's stroller-accessible. There are ankle-biters of all ages, thick on the ground, ready to befriend your kid. Kids' coloring menus with crayons must be required by the chamber of commerce for all restaurants, too, because we ate in a buttload of restaurants the first several days and EVERY ONE had kid-friendly menus and built-in kiddie entertainment (now if they would just come with a mentor to convince D to not eat the crayons...).

Seriously, kids are factored into almost everything: the botanical gardens at Red Butte (wish I made that name up, but I didn't) has a kids' garden that is spectacular, the Children's Museum is a DREAM, the library (which is not at all oversold by being Library of the Year for 2006--it's that good) has little alcoves for reading and hiding and playing--one is called The Attic because it's all skylights, stairs and exposed beams. I would have been all a-quiver for such a library during my awkward, library-loving preteen phase.

And the parks? Well, they must feel outclassed by all the other stuff in town and went and so Liberty Park went and got itself a water area with a fake fire hydrant and a sprinkler tunnel and everything which would be so awesome if D wasn't terrified of it and runs directly away from it to the metal playground equipment which, invariably, is too hot to touch. But the parks have potential.

So as far as Stuff to Do With the Under-2s, it's got it all over State College, of course. But it doesn't have my dear Beth and E, and that makes it have to work a hell of a lot harder to win my admiration. I mean, what good is a Children's Museum if the people you meet there, while perfectly nice, find ways to work sentences like "So I thought, well, shoot, we're a good, patriotic, Republican family, why NOT live near a military base?" into the conversation. I am not even kidding. In addition, there was an incident here involving a little girl which is just too horrible to talk about, and that makes me ache for a small town with ZERO badness happening to small children.

Also? I wouldn't mind not being the oldest first-time mom by at least a DECADE every. single. place. we. go. I mean, if a woman in SLC is MY ripe old approaching-mid-thirties age, well, she's already got herself a football team at this point. She might even be close to being a GRANDMOTHER. HEL-LOOOO. I feel like a *freak*.

So I've met some other moms. I try to seek out the more hippie-ish moms, if only because they are the only ones who remember a world with rotary-dialing telephones and cassette tapes. We Slightly Older Moms (SOMs) are easy to spot, too, because evidently, having a baby in your 20s or teens means you have boundless energy to put on makeup, do something with your hair other than the dated Winona Ryder Tiny Barette look, whiten your teeth, and iron your crop pants.

Now, lest I sound too much like I'm smacking on my youthful breeder brethren and sistren (that's the real plural of "sisters," isn't it?), I will say that the one good thing about Babies Everywhere is that most kids are AWESOME with D and actually PLAY with him without my having to bribe, threaten or trick them. Two little 5 or 6-year-old girls were playing with him at the library--toting him around, handing him the plush pig he kept throwing at them and laughing at his tricks. I almost asked if they babysat before I realized that was probably inappropriate considering their age and offered instead to adopt them, so engrossed was my child with these older women. They politely declined. It seems my mother-of-the-year-award-inspiring reputation proceeds me.

Despite my somewhat muted display of Important Mothering Skills (you know, like Patience and Not Yelling), D has been, by the way, the best sport ever about the whole move. He was voted Very Best Baby on the flight from Dallas to SLC by the flight attendants, which is saying something, since there were roughly half a million screaming children on that flight. I wish I could say Am3rican was the Very Best Airline to fly with tots, but alas, their failure to help me (until I was leaving the LAST of two flights) in any way with my giant carseat, 2 carry-on bags, and stroller was almost as unconscionable as the fact that THEY DO NOT PRE-BOARD PEOPLE TRAVELLING WITH SMALL CHILDREN. Even if they have carseats. I'm sorry, what?!? Their answer was, "Well, at this time of year, lots of families fly with us." Hmm. Really? Probably not this family again, I should think.

But D, oh, he was a trouper--he's been (knock on wood) sleeping pretty well, has generally been well-behaved on our numerous trips to restaurants, discount stores and Home Depot, and continues to (much of the time, anyway) charm the very marrow from our bones.

He has learned what I call "calling intonation"--when we call to Daddymatic from D's room in the morning, he says "DAAAAA da" with that sort of falling intonation we all remember our mothers using when we were late for supper, and when he can't find Lambie, he'll say "LAAAAA la." It is too cute. He is so in love with my mother that he melted down every time she left the room, and just the other day, he looked at me and said, very firmly, "Bee-bee. GRAH-di-grah (how he says Grampy, my dad's call sign). Na-nuh (Nana is my paternal grandmother, and he saw her almost every day in Charlotte)." And I told him they weren't here, we'd have to call them because they were in North Carolina, well, the little bugger started saying "GRAAAAAAH-di-grah. BEEEE beeee. NAAAAH nuh." because to him, that's how you "call" someone. Not a linguistic prodigy, perhaps, but dashed entertaining.

Also, he did his first two-word combination the other day. As I mentioned, my Nana pushed D around on her wheeled walker (aka "bicycle') a few times and it was big fun for all involved, so the first night here in UT, he saw a similar walker and looked at me, pointed at it and said "Nana. Bicycle." After I picked myself up off the floor, I told him "Yeah, sweetie, that's just like Nana's bicycle."

Right now, we're stamping our feet waiting for Comcast to come and hook us back up to the world of the internet, which they say they can't possibly do until tomorrow (that's two weeks we've waited, whine, whine). We are also STILL trying to fix the car, which Daddymatic used to run over a large metal pipe in the road just outside of Kansas City. I shouldn't even joke about it, because it's a miracle he's alive, given that the gas tank and fuel pump were complete toast, but it's been something of a logistical voyage, what with the rental cars, insurance peeps, air tickets to KCI and a 15-hour marathon drive back in a still-mostly-broken car for Daddymatic. As the house gets more put together, I'll post some pix on flickr, but for now, we're here and we love it and I miss you and I'll be back to visit your blog or send you an email as soon as we are hot-wired. Or wire-free. Or whatever.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Finally, another update (while all the cool kids are at BlogHer)

Okay, I am sponging off of a neighbor's wi-fi just to write this, so I'll have to put the rest of the trip into one long-ish post, but let me sum up the trip to Fayetteville and Charlotte by sharing these three observations:

1) No matter how much I love the Matics-in-law and no matter how much trouble they have gone to to make a fabulous stay for us (renting a crib, totally babyproofing the house, scoping out parks/museums/etc), three days is still the limit for in-law visits.

2) The Airborne/Special Ops Museum in Fayetteville is a WONDER. Seriously. If you're stuck in the big Fay for a few hours, check it out. It's Smithsonian-quality, IMHO, and you can find t-shirts that say "HOO AH." Here are some pix:

Anybody seen the keys to this baby? I'm just going to pull it into the garage.

Um, General Yarborough? Asia's going to be hell for a while after the Vietnam Conflict, so trust me when I tell you that you might be needing this.

Excuse me, sir. May I have one of those? I've been a very good boy. Also, can you remove this protective plexiglass?

Oh, I am SO making a break for it. That big ole gun is mine, suckas.

Dude, even the exhbits play peek-a-boo here. Awesome.

Daddy, daddy, wait up. Small legs. Can't keep up. Besides, the gardens here at the museum are lovely, don't you agree?

3) If you get mad at your mentally handicapped SIL, even if you have very good reasons, like the fact that she sometimes acts more like a manipulative toddler than your own offspring does and then watches you lose it with your hitting, squirming, fire-spitting toddler and then says to her mother within your earshot that "You know what, mom? *I* will be patient and calm when MY baby acts up," you will feel like the biggest. jerk. ever. There is no way around it. Especially when you remember that she won't ever get to test that promise she's just made. Yes, wanting to throttle someone who is 27 but has the mental function of someone half her age is akin to, as Anne Lamott puts it, "bitch-slapping E.T." There is no help for it. Let the self-loathing begin.

4) Ditto the above for your 88-year-old grandmother. You just can't be mad at someone who's old and not doing terribly well without hating yourself. Even when you schlep your tot over to see her almost every single day in the horrid heat, in the car with no A/C, and your mother hosts her every other night for dinner, she complains that it's not enough. You will hate yourself for being irritated by this, because you know deep down that she's right--it's not ever going to be enough. In so, so, so many ways. I wish D could get to know the Nana I knew as a kid, but he can't. The only thing that softens the sadness that I feel is knowing that they did have some good times together, and he will remember her, if nothing else, as the cool old lady with the funny bicycle (she uses a wheeled walker, and he went nuts for it). When the tension between my almost-painful love for and my almost-painful frustration with my Nana got too much for me, though, I remembered my friend E speculating that maybe older people become ornery because it's easier to let them go when it's their time. Dunno.

5) My parents absolutely have to move to Utah. As in NOW. D loves them fiercely and it was all I could do to coax him away with me when it was time to head to da SLC. So I've informed my new town that the GrandMatics will be in town starting 8/7 and I expect everything to go perfectly while they're here. Meals on the house. No traffic. Primo parking and free admission everywhere. Cooler temperatures. A pony for my mom and an RV for my dad. You know, basic stuff.

I promise tomorrow I'll sponge again (it's a victimless crime, DM keeps telling me) and send my impressions of da SLC...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

In the driving/flying/overnight-staying/family-and-friend-seeing extravaganza that is our move to the great state of Utah, this is part one, In Which The Familymatic Leaves State College, Drives to Washington DC and Treks Onward to Fayetteville, NC to See the Matics-in-law.
Mom? Any room for this shoe in that box? Kinda full-up here.

We bid a sad farewell to our friends and family (no blood relatives, it’s true, but family nonetheless) in State College. D’s fab godparents Connie and Chuck and the rest of my church threw us a party that was so good and sweet and moving that it scored a solid 3 on the How Many Times Will Mommymatic cry scale, which may be a new record. They gave us sweet gifts and enough money to fund a revolution in a third-world country and left us thinking that the fact that they’d give us so much to LEAVE a place either means they really like us or are really relieved we’re finally going. Connie also took us out to lunch on a day when we badly, badly needed a break and it is for this reason among many that she will have a king's ransom of jewels in her crown when she gets You Know Where (hint: it's a place where I probably won’t be allowed in.)

D’s Unky Jon and Auntay Emily also threw us a totally excellent going-away party complete with a party mix Emily burned onto a CD for us. There was fried chicken, sweet tea and this totally adorable cake (in case you're wondering, that's a map of PA and a map of UT, with me and D in a plane above the road, and a red moving truck and blue car with Daddymatic in it, trekking across the country). Said cake was both tasty and a great “exhibit A” for those who doubt Jon has too much time on his hands.

Thus it was with heavy hearts that we departed SC for good on July 3rd. Well, my heart would have been heavy if I hadn’t been so freaked by the move itself and then sneezing my fool head off after sweeping out 6 years’ worth of cat hair, dust and other Matic Family Detritus as we closed the joint down. D loved the moving boxes but wasn’t so jazzed about all the changes going on in His House nor was he particularly stoked about the 4-hour drive to DC. We decided not to mention the fact that the trip to Fayetteville would be almost twice as long.

The trip was mostly Hell with a side of Finally Sleeping for the last half-hour, but we got there and our hosts with the most, the lovely Nancy and David and their tres adorable offspring Donovan (3) and Harper (11 weeks) had a totally smokin’ veggie lasagna waiting for us. D covered himself in it, we hosed it off and he promptly collapsed into bed and slept until 7:30 the next morning, a feat he had not been able to achieve for a number of sad weeks in the Matic household.

Let me say at this point how much I LOVE staying with other parents of young children. For one thing, we didn’t have to schlep the high chair, pack-n-play, or any toys because Donovan had evidently been exploiting his copious personal charm in order to amass Anything One Would Ever Need for a Boychild. And no having to apologize for not wanting to do X or Y because of your child’s nap/eating/nighttime schedule. Bliss, I tell you. Also? Built-in entertainment for D in the form of an older child: I finally got a glimpse of how a-freaking-mazing it would be to have a child who watched just a little TV—D observed Donovan like he would have to write down field notes later, and I had time to drink a cup of coffee!

I got to see two dear friends in addition to our amazing hosts whilst in DC: Shera, my best friend from about the 5th grade whom I hadn’t seen in about 7 years. She has a fancy job at a very cool and educational cable channel and she came for lunch and we talked about how much our lives have changed since we saw each other last. It was great to see her, if for no other reason than to find out where to get beauty products which, by the looks of her, allow one literally to stop aging.

I also had the chance to meet up with Nancy—if you haven’t read her blog, you are missing out. Seriously. Go read this and this and tell me if I’m lying. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Anyway, she’s as funny and adorable and witty in person as she is on the blog but her bod is waaaay more smokin’ than she admits online. In this picture of us, you see, I'm not even worried that I look like something someone scraped up off of I-95, because Nancy just draws the eye towards the Happy Place that is her face.
When Nancy admitted to having angst over what to wear to our meeting, I thought I might kiss her on the mouth, but then I thought her husband J might not be too keen on my way of showing appreciation. You know how you feel like you’ve known someone forever and can totally tell them anything and then you find out some cool new fact about them that just makes them that much cooler? I pretty much had a whole afternoon of that. Meeting Nancy made me think that going to BlogHer would be way more fun and way less scary a propostition if all the blog-girl meetings would be like that. She’s that cool.

And her kids? Don’t even get me started. Rosie totally wowed D with her prowess in balloon-snatching by leaving a trail of teary, surprised-looking kids in her wake, and Mimi could not have been more the consummate Big Sister, herding, entertaining, and looking out for the little ones. I thought seriously of asking if I could swab some of her DNA but thought Nancy might think that was weird.

And J? Well, just when you thought Nancy was so perfect no guy could ever live up to that, you meet J. I think I might actually have swooned at his wit a little when, in desperate search for a pacifier, I pulled a tiny binky out of my pocket that D had swiped from our hosts’ 11-week old daughter, and J just grinned and said “Dude, any bink in a storm, right?” So when you’re done reading this, go tell Nancy it’s OK if J does posts for her every now and again. I'm sad Daddymatic didn't get to meet Nancy and her fam, but he was whiling away the afternoon at a Nationals game with David--nothing's more 4th-of-July than baseball, a 9th-inning win and a big foam finger, right?

And then we went to Fayetteville, NC, home of the Matics-in-law, which is continued in the next segment of our program. So stay tuned for Part 2, In Which D Plays an Organ, Learns Why Overalls Have Bib pockets, and Offers His Pacifier to a Vietnam War General.