Monday, December 31, 2007

Pretty Dresses

One of the best things about having a girl is that I get to dress her in pretty dresses. This one was a gift from Aunt Lisa and Uncle Jonathan. Anne wore it to Terri's Christmas Eve party and had a lovely time with Tommy and Mikey--hi guys! Thanks for sharing your trains with Brad! That's Grandma holding Anne, wishing she had a red Santa Claus dress, too.

This dress is just too precious--it was from Nana and Papa Frank. It was a lovely surprise on Christmas morning, and Anne wore it for her 12-month pictures the next day. Those pics will be coming mid-late January.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anne's Birthday

Anne turned one yesterday! I am such a bad mother: I completely forgot it was her birthday until my mother called at 3pm to say happy birthday (thanks, Mom!). Hey--I was busy moving from MD to NC--give me a break!

These pictures were taken in Aunt Lyndsey's very nice apartment while we were in NY celebrating Christmas. Anne made a nice mess for Aunt Lyndsey.

She's a little tired, and doesn't really care that we're all singing.

Ah, but wait! Here is a bright shiny thing that is moving all around. Let me try to grab it!

Daddy presented Anne with Grandma Ludovici's famous homemade chocolate cake.

She liked it so much she went for the rest of the cake. I won't show you the resulting pictures. Let's just say that Grandma turned her face away from the destruction and that there was carpet cleaning and vacuuming involved.

P.S. Thanks to Grandma for supplying the pictures!

The Move

We're officially in North Carolina! The move went shockingly well. If you have known us for awhile, you know that our last two moves have been horrendous. Just awful. This is the first move that didn't end with the movers presenting us with a bill twice the original estimate. For anyone interested, the moving company is Town and Country Movers. I found them on, as one of the few recommended companies. They were the cheapest of the estimates, and they did a great job. I highly recommend them.

Thursday they came and packed everything up. Yesterday they loaded everything on their truck, and Doug and the kids and cats and I drove down to NC and spent the night in a hotel. Today they arrived at 10:30am (they had left MD at 4am!) and unloaded. Then they unpacked and removed all of the boxes and debris. They just put everything on the floor, so the whole house is a royal mess. I unpacked most of the kitchen, so that's about 75% complete, but our china is on the dining room floor (hello, baby gates!), the pictures are scattered throughout the living room, and Brad's bedroom...

...the problem with Brad's bedroom is that he doesn't have any furniture other than his bed. Anne has the crib and the changing table/dresser. Brad has a bed. And the two bookcases that were in his room went into the basement (they're cheap and from IKEA and I knew they wouldn't survive another move (and they didn't!) so they are in the basement experiencing a second life as garden tool holders). So all of his books, and toys, and clothing--EVERYTHING--is on his bed and floor. You can barely walk in his room.

And some rooms are mostly bare: we have no dining room furniture, and the fourth bedroom/bonus room is empty except for the old china cabinet (which I have now designated as a children's toy cabinet). It's pretty funny: most of the rooms look like a hurricane hit, but some rooms (including Anne's) are mostly empty!

So the game plan for tomorrow is to go to our new church, and then my aunt and cousin are coming to babysit so Doug and I can visit every Walmart, Target, and KMart in town in search of a white chest of drawers for Brad and some cheap bookcases for his room. I've been online and haven't found anything I really liked, though I do have one backup option.

I'll keep you updated!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Job Update

Hooray! I (Nicole) have managed to come to agreements with both my current and future employers. I will officially start work at my new job February 1, but I will go to NC for training on January 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 19, and 26. We're almost done with this horrid commuting thing--come February 1st, we'll all be together under one roof and no one will ever take another business trip again. Right, honey?....Honey?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Water Tower Debacle of '07

Brad has asked for a water tower for his train set for months now (see a previous post a few weeks ago). So I finally ordered one from Amazon, thinking, I'll get free two-day shipping and we'll get it by Wednesday, in plenty of time for Christmas. Fast forward to last night. When I opened the Amazon box, I discovered that they had sent the wrong water tower!

Brad has wooden train pieces, so I thought I was ordering this one. But Amazon sent me this one, which doesn't work because it has a plastic track and won't work with the wooden tracks. When I went back online to make sure that I had ordered the right one, I discovered this is what I had ordered--you can see that while Amazon has a picture of the right tower, the title matches the wrong one. Oops on Amazon's part. Still, I thought, not a big deal, I'll just order the right one and have it shipped to Grandma's house. There is plenty of time.

Not exactly. At this late date, the water tower won't ship before Christmas because Amazon sells it through a third-party. And even usually-helpful Google couldn't help me find one that would arrive before Christmas for less than $50. Wonderful.

So I called every single Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, and Barnes & Noble in the greater Annapolis/Washington, DC/Syracuse area. Only to be told, "it's out of stock," or, "we have it, let me go get it....oh, I couldn't find it, I guess the computer is wrong," and, "we have two, but they've been damaged..."how damaged?"..."they're crushed." Finally, finally, I found a B&N on Rockville Pike that had ONE left, that was in stock and intact. After spending 30 minutes in traffic to drive 4.9 miles during my lunch hour, braving the holiday parking madness, and traveling back to the office, I am pleased to report that I have secured a water tower! Christmas can begin.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

MY animals

The kids fight over these stuffed animals constantly. The kitty and the giraffe. It's not like we have about 76 other animals to play with--no, they both want these two specific animals. Here, Anne has managed to wrest them away from her brother.

House Update

I can't believe I forgot to post on the 12th! We're officially homeowners!!!!! This is such a huge milestone for us and it has really boosted our net worth--I'm looking forward to looking at our month end spreadsheet on the 1st of January!

The painting is going well, and we have carpet people and cleaners coming next week. The sellers repaired everything we asked them to repair, and we're just so ready to be in NC.

This is our last full week in Maryland; on Friday we leave for a Christmas in New York, and when we return we pack and leave the very next day.

Doug has been the one doing the long distance commuting for the past few months; in January I will be the one working in MD during the week and going home to NC on the weekends. I'm really not looking forward to that at all (dreading it, actually), but it can't be helped. I think I'm in denial--I need to purchase or procure an air mattress for myself, but I haven't done that yet. And one of my colleagues has offered to let me stay at her place during the week and I haven't followed up on that either--I think if I I don't think about it, it won't happen! Sigh. I need to get going on those things.

Tired Baby

We took one last visit to the Baltimore Children's Museum today, and Anne was just plain tuckered out when we got home!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Family Weekend

Brad LOVES his new coat and hat and "glubs."

And Anne is walking with the little walker thing (I have no idea what it's called!)!! She walks everywhere with it and is so happy, laughing all the way. She will be walking before we know it. I guess this means I need to get her some shoes...

Doug left today to go to North Carolina to....CLOSE ON OUR HOUSE!!! Not that we're excited or anything. He meets the real estate agent at 8am Wednesday for a walk-through and then they head over to the lawyer's office at 9am for closing. I'm not going because we didn't want to take the kids and have me take time off from work when I'm in the middle of a job search (still trying to find my replacement, no luck so far, and hopes grow dim as Christmas approaches... :( ) .

Anyway, the real estate agent was going to charge $150 for a power of attorney! Thankfully, one of my co-workers is a lawyer, and she looked over the one I found online and made a few changes, but pronounced it acceptable. Even she was shocked that they wanted to charge $150 for a document that was less than one page long! And another co-worker is a notary, so I was all set with that.

At any rate, we will be homeowners on Wednesday! Very exciting! And the movers are all set to pack us up (best move ever, when someone else does the packing) on the 27th, which will be our last night here. Less than three weeks, and we'll be in NC!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Okay, I know....I'm just too busy to take pictures!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cutie Pie

Thanks for the dress, Grandma!

Bad news...we don't have a candidate for my job after all, so we're back to square one. Please pray that I find someone quickly so I can join my family in North Carolina. And please pray that I can find a job in NC!

Funny news...Brad has decided that he wants a water tower for his train set. And that's all he talks about (they have one at Barnes & Noble). They are about $20, but I'm not going to rush out and buy something just because he wants it. We've instead been talking about looking at our money and seeing if we want to spend our money on that--hey, it's never too young to try and impart some fiscal responsibility. Anyway, this morning this is what our conversation was like:

"Mama, can we get a water tower? I want to get dressed and go buy one. Can we buy one?"

"We'll see. They cost money and we need to think about it. We can't just go buy things because we want them. We need to think about the money."

"I think we can go buy one today. Can we get a water tower? A red water tower?"

"Not right now. We'll see."

"Did you just say yes?"

The kid has a one track mind (don't worry, we've decided to get him one for Christmas).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

For Certain Interested Parties

The Melissa & Doug wooden train table. I like it because it doesn't have a train painted or bolted on it, so the children can use it for things other than trains, plus there is a nice storage drawer for the train parts. And Brad wouldn't have to worry about Anne sitting on his tracks and breaking his bridge.

Bad Blogger

Okay, okay, I am officially a bad blogger. But I have a good excuse! Over the past week and a half, we've chosen a painter and paint, carpet and carpet installer, had the house inspected and asked the sellers to fix everything, and received their agreement (yay!), chosen a mover, set a move date, set up utilities, had Christmas pictures taken (Anne wore the dress above in the pictures...a little hint of what you'll be receiving!), signed a homeowner's insurance policy, completed all of the financing papers, made airline reservations, hotel reservations, secured childcare for December....let's see, what else?

Oh, I can't believe I forgot: we sold the Maxima! For a paltry sum (that's another story, more of a rant). But we now have a bit more money for our house down payment and one less car, which means our insurance/gas costs will go down, which makes me very happy. And they'll probably go down even further when we leave MD.

I also found someone who is a really great candidate to take my job! I'm so thrilled--now I can stop worrying about that and focus on finding a new job in North Carolina...wait, now I have something new to worry about!

I also need to get our cell phones switched over to a new area code, and T-Mobile probably doesn't have service where we will live, which makes me very sad. They are the least evil of the cell phone companies and have great customer service. If I do switch, though, I will definitely go with Sprint, but only because they have a special hotline for Consumerist readers (if you don't read the Consumerist, you must start!). So if anything goes wrong, I have a lifeline.

I think that's it with the updates...remind me to post the Tale of the Cursed Pictures--you're going to want to hear about that.

If you've made it this far, here's one more pic for you: