Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Haunted Smoke Detector

Ugh. We got woken up this morning at 3:00am!

No, Junior didn't wake us up.

No, we didn't get a frantic call from a drunken friend.

No, a dog didn't bark to be let outside to pee.

Our smoke detector went off. Slowly. First one "chirp", then silence. This, of course woke my light-sleeping ass up right away. I thought I had imagined it and drifted back off. Then another "chiiiiiiiirp", a bit longer this time. I realized what it was and jumped out of bed.

What to do?

I stared at the smoke detector. It wasn't talking.

Hmmmm..... I scratched my head and got back into bed.

"Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirp....chirp......chirp", it said.

Now both Hubbie and I jumped out of bed to stare at the smoke detector. It was silent. He got a chair out and stood on it to get a closer look at the offending plastic gadget. I went downstairs to investigate. Computers smoking? Nope. Oven off? Yep. Cars on fire? Nope. Heater smoking? Nope.

Baffled, I went back upstairs and got back into bed.

"Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirp! Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirp!" "Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirp!" Now it wasn't quitting.

Oh, our ears. Oh no! Goofy Junior might wake up! Oh crap!

Hubbie ran downstairs to go for the breaker. It's one of those smoke detectors that doesn't have a battery - it's hooked into our electric system, not a great feature at this point.

I got on the chair and held my ears while I inspected the devilish thing. I hit it several times (my standby solution to things that don't work right), to no avail, then tried pressing on various points, thinking maybe something had come loose. About that same time, it went off.

Whew! Hubbie got the breaker switched. My ears were ringing. Luckily, Junior was still sawing logs. Unbelievable, since all this happened right outside his door!

We left the damn thing hanging from the ceiling and went back to bed. In the morning, I found out that Hubbie had not switched the breaker...there is no breaker for it! How the hell do we switch it off!?!?!?

So I'm hoping we won't have a repeat performance at 3:00am this morning. Or Saturday morning. Or Sunday morning.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Oeuf Oeuf!

So after the voices of reason spoke to me (thanks commentors!), I am changing directions and looking at toddler beds for our darling Goofy Not-so-Junior.

I fired up Google and tried "toddler bed". These first attempts yielded me the obnoxious race car/firetruck/princess castle beds. Ugh. Does our child have to be constantly bombarded with bright primary colors and shapes...even when he sleeps? How about "No". Shocking opinion, I know...

I pulled up Google and tried "modern toddler bed", hoping for some semblance of style for poor Junior. Well I got style alright, complete with a very large price tag - $500 for the Petra toddler bed (on "sale" for $397!). What a bargain! NOT!

I looked further and found the Oeuf Oeuf toddler bed. "Oeuf oeuf" must mean "overpriced, plain white bed" in French. This one was $480. I don't think we spent that much on our last queen-sized bed!

Also keep in mind that these prices do not include the damn mattress.

Then another voice of reason spoke...Loving Husband. These words came out of his mouth: "You know, the best thing about some of these beds is the bedding." Hmmm.... Here's an idea: Get a plain-Jane bed and put some kick ass bedding on it. Voila! Folks, we have a plan!

I found a simple-though-stylist white bed on for $79. While I still think this is a bit high, I can probably drive down to my local Babies R Us store and save the shipping cost. This makes me smile.

Then I thought about eBay. I buy everything on eBay, so why not a toddler bed? As I suspected, there were a few toddler beds out on eBay. Try 727 of them!

My first search was for "toddler bed". I didn't want to search through all 727 results, so I started modifying my search. I have kind of an obsession with this, so be forewarned...

So, I went from:
"toddler bed"
"toddler bed -sheets -car -cottage -sheet -bedding -"bed set" -crib -princess -girl -girls -pink -hearts -fire -train -winnie -dora -wiggles -pokemon -castle -nemo -batman -beetle -mickey -bear -racecar -incontinent -ark -bob -spongebob -veggie -flower -tractor -coupe -clifford -roadster -jeep"

That got me down to a more manageable 137 items (2 pages). And I would have further modified, but goshdarnit, eBay limits the number of characters you can put in that search box to...well...however many I have there. Who knew?

And for those of you that are curious, I did find 2 of the beds, for a fraction of the price. However, I have to either go to Allen, Texas or Sarasota, Florida to pick it up. With gas prices like they are, now we are back up in the Petra bed range. Oeuf!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's the End of the World as We Know It....

and I don't feel fine. I feel pretty fucking nervous.

Goofy Junior is now officially 2-1/2 years old and 36" tall. Why is this important? Because he is now officially "too big" for the crib he currently sleeps in*.

The crib that keeps him warm and safe and best of all contained so that when he:
a) doesn't want to go to bed;
b) wakes up early;
c) wakes up in the night; or
d) screams through his nap,

we can feel confident that we can effectively ignore him until:

a) he gives in and goes to sleep;
b) we are ready to get up;
c) he falls back asleep; or
d) we give up and get the screaming child that will 15 minutes later fall asleep in the car.

Freedom....Gone! History. This really sucks. But it's inevitable, so we are dealing. Slowly.

The biggest decision right now is a new bed. There are multiple ways to go on this one...

Do we:
a) convert the crib to a "toddler day bed" (kind of a daybed with sides so sleeping toddler does not roll onto floor and wake self and rest of household)
b) buy a toddler bed (a lower, short bed with short sides, kinda like a giant litter box**)
c) buy a full-blown twin bed (if you don't know what this is, stop reading now)

An informal survey of other parents (okay, only two) leads me to believe that folks just jump to option c) twin bed. Of course, of all the options, this is the most expensive. Double damn!

I personally like my own option, call it d) if you will....get a kid-sized pup tent and put it up in place of the crib. Before you mock, listen up!

What kid wouldn't want a tent to sleep in every night? It's fun! Yet, it's contained. No, we wouldn't zip him in there. ...Well, not if he was cooperative about sleeping in there. It's low to the ground - if he rolls out, he's just on the floor and probably wouldn't even wake up. It doesn't take up much room (unlike twin bed, which we don't have room for). It's roomy. He can roll around in there and sleep in whatever position he wants, with as many stuffed friends as he wants. Plus there's the added bonus that when we go camping, he already relates a tent to sleeping. I think it's a great idea. However, I keep getting "Did you just fall off the face of the sun?" looks when I mention this to people.

I'm not getting a stupid race car bed. I'm not! I'm not! Absolutely NOT! Never!

* This is not an unbiased opinion...this comes straight for our All Knowing/All Seeing Pediatrician. Damn her!

** Speaking of litter box, there's the whole potty training issue looming large in the Goofy household. More blogging fun to come on that topic!

Friday, October 14, 2005

A True Adventure: Priceless (Part 2)

We join our adventure in progress as our heroines ponder the fate of their beloved guide A.

D. fires up the satellite phone and calls the emergency number. She gets voicemail and leaves a message. She then instructs us to grab some gear - we are hiking down the canyon to see if we can find A. Since she should have been hiking IN that way, we will hike OUT that way and hopefully meet up with her. Since we don't know why she is not back, we bring a sleeping pad (in case she needs to be dragged back), food and water (in case she has none), clothes (in case she is cold/wet) and headlamps (since it will be dark very, very soon). We all try not to be too freaked out by this preparation.

It takes us way too long to get ready, but finally we are on our way. We scramble down the rocks to the canyon and our heads swivel as we look around for any sign of A. D. is hiking fast now, trying to get to the exit of the canyon before dark. We struggle to keep up, still freaked out and soggy from the prior rain. We listen intently for any noise that might signal A. somewhere in the canyon....maybe hurt...maybe unconscious.

D. frantically looks for footprints. Since it rained, this is not as easy as it sounds. She doesn't see any footprints coming in. We try to take this bad news in stride.

Finally, we traverse the switchbacks that take us out of the canyon to the parking lot. Two hours had passed. No sign of A. yet. We wonder if the van will be there. We wonder if A. will be there...maybe in the van, smoking a cig and having a beer?

We switch on our headlamps and fire up our flashlights, as it's now officially dark. There's no sign of the moon and the storm clouds are rolling back in. It's very, very dark. And there's no sign of the van. D. leaves another voicemail on the emergency number. Everyone wonders about the effectiveness of the sat phone, since there's no one answering the other end.

D. decides that we will hike to the other side of the rim by the parking lot, where we can see our campsite and see if we can see any lights there. Maybe A. has mysteriously snuck back to camp and is roasting marshmallows and wondering where the hell WE are. This proves to be a big waste of time. The rain starts to pour. It starts to get cold. We stop to add layers of clothes and put on rainpants, hoods and - for those smart enough to bring them (i.e., not me) - gloves. We get out to the rim and don't see anything. Like I said...waste of time.

Now we have a problem finding our way back to the trailhead from the rim. It looked like a straight line out, but now it looks like a vast field going back. The rain is still pouring down and D. is having problems finding our footprints we left just minutes before. She switches headlamps with me (mine is brighter). This helps minimally. We eventually get back to our starting place at the exit of the canyon. Whew. Then the mutiny starts....

"What!?!? We are going back to camp?"
"I'm worried about flooding"
"I'm worried about twisting my ankle in the dark."
"I'm cold."
"Let's find the van and stay there."
"Let's find a hotel."

D. wasn't prepared for this (surprisingly). Her advice was for us to hike back to camp. It made sense after she explained it... Camp is warm and dry. All our stuff is there. If A. somehow made it back there, we should be there to help and/or welcome her. We need to take care of ourselves first, then worry about A. second. And yes, there was the fact that the VAN WAS GONE. Duh. We spent way too long discussing this and unruffling feathers before heading back down into the canyon. I wasn't excited about hiking back in, but I didn't see any other option. So into the pitch black night and drizzling rain we hiked. Back down the canyon, up the rocks and back to camp.

D. got back on the sat phone and actually reached someone this time. A. was okay! She had indeed been to the canyon exit, as planned, but was unable to find the trail into the canyon (it was a very confusing way in). She tried for several hours (!!!) before getting back in the van and heading into town to call the emergency number. She luckily had the contact's mobile phone number, while D. had the contact's home phone number. As luck would have it, the contact was not home, so had not gotten any of D.'s messages. D. called A.'s mobile phone and let her know the story. She decided to sleep in the van and hike in Sunday morning to help us pack up and hike back out.

After a quick dinner (it was now about midnight), we crawled into our tents and slept well, knowing that our comrade was safe and sound.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A True Adventure: Priceless (Part 1)

I headed off on my 4-day/3-night backpacking trip to Moab, Utah last Wednesday. I got into beautiful and quaint (aka small) Grand Junction, Colorado around 1:30pm. The trip was not scheduled to start until the following morning at 9:00am, so I had some time to kill. I had a map of the wine country in Palisades (about 8 miles away), so I rented a car and headed to some wineries. I was pleasantly surprised! They had "normal" wine (Cab Sav, Chardonnay, Syrah) rather than the expected apple-berry wine and mead. And it was darn good, for the most part.

After three wineries, I decided that I needed to grab some dinner, so I headed to downtown Grand Junction. This was a 7-block strip of really neat little stores (most of which were unfortunately closed by 6:00m on a Wednesday) and some interested restaurants (French, Italian, New World). I picked a nice-looking Italian restaurant and feasted on Chicken Scallopino with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and spinach in a gongonzola cream sauce. It was delish! I was definitely going to need plenty of carbs for my upcoming energy expenditure! I headed back to the tidy Best Western and tucked in early, about 10:30pm.

We all gathered and headed out Thursday morning (7 participants and 2 guides - all women) for a 2-hour drive to the canyonlands of Moab, Utah. There we packed up our backpacks with gear and provisions until they were taller than us and headed down the trail.

We camped on an outcropping of slickrock the first night. It was a beautiful night and it seemed that there were no bugs to speak of in the area, so we camped out without tents, under the stars. Let me tell you - once you get away from metro areas, there are a hell of a lot of stars!

In the morning, we hiked down to the stream to get some water, learned how to treat it so it was drinkable and headed out for a day hike to the sixth largest arch in the country - Morning Glory Arch. It was spectacular! We also found some cacti with purple fruit and one of our guides D. showed us how to peel and eat the fruit. I ended up with tiny, annoying stickers in 8 of 10 fingers, the roof of my mouth and my lip. Where else can you have this much fun?

When we got back to camp, we packed up and headed to Camp #2, where we would stay for the next two nights. It was further into the canyon and we had to scramble up some large rocks to get to the top. Once we got there, we were greeted with an unbelievable view of the canyon below, rock outcroppings all around and the San Juan mountains in the far distance (with snow on the peaks!). Camp #2 was a very large plateau (probably about 1/4 mile across), with varying level of rock "shelves". Instead of sleeping all together in the same area, we were encouraged to venture out and find our own solo camping spot. Since we were still within sight of the main gathering area, this wasn't as intimidating as you might think.

I was slightly bummed that I didn't bring a book to read - almost everyone else did - but actually it was nice to just have time to think and stare at the stars. You don't realize how little time there is in our regular schedule to just stop and ponder life. It was a real treat.

The next morning, I awoke to a small platoon of ants, trying to figure out WTF I was doing on their rock. I blew them away, did some stretching and went down for some breakfast.

After breakfast, we packed up our daypacks (I had to use my sleeping bag's stuff sack, since I didn't bring a daypack...arg!) and headed further down the canyon to check out some "swimming holes". Since it was 75 - 80 degrees during the day, and very dry, that sounded good to all of us.

That morning, our second guide A. packed up a pack to hike out to get our van and drive it around to the other side of the canyon, so we could hike out the other end, and not have to backtrack to get out. She left around noon.

Around 4:00pm, some ominous clouds rolled in and we headed back to camp to brace for the storm. We set up tents and one kept blowing away, from the high winds. The pouring rain and lightning started and we scurried into our tents to escape. After about an hour of rain and high wind, it was over. We came back out and started wondering where our guide A. was. Since it was about 5:00pm, she had been gone for 5 hours for a trip that should have taken her about 2 hours. We all started getting concerned about what had happened to her...

Stay tuned for Part Two...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How Scary is This?

I have no idea what to dress Goofy Junior as for Halloween. I have 26 days to figure this out. Well, actually 19, since I will be gone for the next 5 days. And really I can't count Monday, as there is no daycare for Columbus Day (WTF!) and I will be frazzled after watching Junior during the AM, then running to work in the PM after the babysitter comes. And Loving Husband is going out of town one weekend in October, so now we are down to only 16 days in which to ponder this.

It shouldn't be this hard. I love Halloween and I love dressing up. However, I've never been responsible for someone else's costume before. This is new territory.

Some background: Goofy Junior is male, 2-1/2 years old. Average sized. He loves sports, especially football, but how lame is it to dress your kid is something he wears every Friday (football jersey? Yawn.

I have done a bit of looking around. Most toddler costumes are:
too cute and fluffy;
a character he's never heard of; or
just plain ridiculous.

So, dear readers, I'm asking for advice. What should Goofy Junior be for Halloween?

I want something that he's going to be excited about, look cute as, and be comfortable in. Try being comfortable in this!

AND, it's also got to be easy for Mom to put together. I do not sew, so do not recommend some crazy sewing pattern. I am fairly dangerous with a hot glue gun, having put together a Dorothy from Wizard of Oz costume (complete with red sparkly shoes!) with only a glue gun and some fabric.


Welcome Back, See You Later!

In a scheduling haze, I signed up for a 4-day backpacking trip to Moab, Utah that leaves TWO DAYS after returning home from Las Vegas. I'm not even sure I can call it "two days" since we actually walked in our house at 2:00am Monday morning.

I now have to unpack, launder my party clothes and re-pack hiking clothes for a flight out Wednesday morning. I sound like I'm complaining, but actually I love traveling, so it's all good.

Our Vegas trip was great! We had a less-than-perfect experience the last time we went to Vegas, since we stayed at The Venetian and couldn't afford to do anything. The room was lovely, though.

This time, in an effort to save money for the really important stuff (gambling, eating, drinking), we stayed at The Sahara. The Sahara was a bit shabby and had smoky undertones, but in the scope of things it was a decent place to stay. They had $3 tables during the day and $5 tables at night (in contrast to the $15 tables all the time at The Venetian).

We also ventured to downtown Vegas, which has really improved. Instead of the blue-haired seniors that I remember the last time I visited, there were many, many younger folks, and plenty of them. The casinos were hopping, with cheap tables that weren't too crowded. We found a dealer that very patiently taught us how to play Roulette and we all WON. Cool! I walked up to a $3 Craps table and the same guy rolled for about 40 minutes. If that doesn't make sense to you, just know that it's virtually unheard of to have the same person roll for that long). I won $72. I should have won more, but I was a little slow to increase my bet from $3 to $5. Cheap Ass!

My football wagers didn't turn out quit so well. I won betting on the Chiefs (who WERE winning at half-time, even though they blew it later), then lost on Vikings, Cowboys and Jets.

No celebrity sightings and no shows, but I had a good enough time to want to go back. I will probably take a look at staying downtown if we go back, as that's were we ended up spending most of our time.

Next stop: Moab, Utah. Stay tuned!