Sunday, May 10, 2009

Now that I have a keyboard

My keyboard up and died last week, literally midsentence, for no apparent reason. I thought something had gotten inside and took it apart (with a screwdriver and Barak's able assistance), cleaned it, and put it back together, but no dice. The old keyboard is now serving as a computer-assisted navigation system for the pirate ship, formerly known as the living room couch, and I was keyboardless until I installed the new one about fifteen minutes ago. It's kind of surprising though what you can do without a keyboard if you really really have to. Like, put in your password by right-clicking and copying one letter at a time. Tedious, but it works.

Anyway. It's been a busy week. In short:

1. One of my most demanding clients at work is leaving soon, and he gave me, by way of appreciation, silver hors d'oeuvres forks and spoons. They are very pretty and were probably very expensive--his assistant thinks his wife picked them out. I had no idea what they were. I thought they were for the kids, but noted that the forks looked awfully sharp. His assistant told me what they were. Then, after a short pause, she told me I needed to get out more.

2. It's my birthday tomorrow. I'm going to be 36. I find this a little bit... unsettling. Not too much, but somewhat. Mostly because I am now on the Other Side of 35, and I want more kids, &c. My musician friends all freak out about 35 because that's the age Mozart died at ("and I haven't even written one opera! Not one!") For me, it's all about the fertility. Say what you will, but please don't.

3. I let Iyyar have a cookie with butter in it a couple of days ago, to see what happened. BIG mistake. The exact same thing happened that happened last time: he screamed and cried off and on all day until he finally pooped. It was awful and I felt terrible. Remind me not to try that again for a really, really long time.

4. Lately, Iyyar has been asking me to put on his "gloves", which are actually his Shabbos socks. He doesn't seem bothered by having socks on his hands and they seem to hinder his dexterity surprisingly little. Tonight he ate dinner wearing Barak's old blue car pajamas, a "pirate tichel" (my green-pink-and-sparkley tie-dyed one--highly piratical, of course) and gray socks on his hands. I should have taken a picture.

As a side note, do you know the German word for "glove"? It is literally "hand shoes." It is my favorite word in the German language. I mean, we know they are literal, but come on... "hand shoes?" It's almost as good as my favorite Hungarian word, which is "lightbulb." Literally, it translates as "electric pear." Which is, of course, exactly what a lightbulb is.

5. I have been knitting a LOT. I'm just on a huge knitting kick lately, and, in a departure from my knitting tendencies for the last few years, I've been wanting to do really gnarly, complicated knitting with lots of cables and charts. I've got my list of summer knitting all laid out, and first on the list is fall Shabbos vests for the boys in the navy blue Galway I have had sitting around for years. Pattern suggestions for cabled vests in sizes 2, 4, and 6? I could of course just wing it, but feel like branching out.

6. Avtalyon is getting impossible to cook with. He's suddenly started noticing that sometimes I have/am eating food, and takes this very personally. I have food! Which means that there is food that he does not have! And this cannot be allowed to stand! He tries his best to lunge out of his high chair (fortunately, he can't, but he tries reeeeeally hard), arms pitifully outstretched, wailing REALLY REALLY loudly about how much he WAAAAANTS it. Usually, he already has whatever it is I have. He doesn't care. He wants THAT ONE.

7. Other Avtalyon updates: he now says "book," "baby," and "peas," and has demonstrated a marked preference for the books containing pictures of babies. He LOVES books. He also loves his blankie. Like Iyyar, he sucks on the tag, but unlike Iyyar at this age, he prefers having his pacifier in his mouth. So what to do with the tag? Why, stick it in the next available aperture, of course. Which is why, when he's ready to fall asleep, you'll often see him sucking away on his pacifier while poking his blankie tag into his ear.

8. Last week, Avtalyon got a hideously high fever after a day and a half of throwing up everything he ate. "Hideously high" means that I just did not believe the thermometer, because come on--106? No way. Then Ada the Awesome stopped by, to give the boys birthday presents, and that was when we noticed that his hands and feet were kind of... well... dusky. And that he was breathing really fast. And that his heart was going awfully fast too. And that he looked really, really terrible. It was one of those moments where you truly don't know if you're being a neurotic mother or if there really is something bad going on, and given the choice of being laughed at in the ER for rushing in with a feverish baby and ignoring, say, a cardiac infection, I am all for option A.

Have I mentioned before how spectacularly great it is to have a babysitter who works in a pediatric ER? Not only did she drive us there, she came in with us, and it was kind of like going to the airport with a platinum frequent flier card (not that I would know.) She walked up to the registration desk and had a quiet word, after which we were ushered inside for a totally competent triage check by an RN (fever at 103.8, with Motrin), and then sat down to wait. Which we didn't do. Because about two minutes later, Ada poked her head out from around a corner and crooked her finger at us in the manner of a speakeasy proprieter during the early days of Prohibition. You can come this way now, but don't draw attention to yourself. So, as inconspicuously as possible, we coolly breezed in past a packed waiting room, and were seen right away by an honest-to-God DOCTOR (an MD! a real one! with a degree, and everything! I think she was at least as old as me, too!)

She thought he had a bug, but wanted to see clear chest films and his fever down before being sure about that. So Avtalyon got more Motrin than I would ever have given him at home, and a chest x-ray, and we hung out for a while in the ER while he nursed and perked up, and not two hours later we were out of there. Amazing. And we also had Ada around giving us the first-class treatment and bringing us stuff. If you have to take your baby to the ER, that is definitely the way to do it. But don't even ask me for my babysitter's phone number, because YOU CAN'T HAVE IT. We are not sharing.

9. As we get more and more serious about the idea of making aliya next summer, the question of what to do with our condo has been looming pretty large. It's pretty clear we can't sell it; even if we could find a buyer, selling it now would mean a financial loss that we just can't handle if we're going to be moving. Next option, of course, is renting it out. With that in mind, I've been making some inquiries about refinancing at a slightly lower rate to try to get the monthly payments down as much as possible. It transpires that, unless we qualify for one of the new federal programs, we actually won't be able to refinance because--get this--we don't have enough equity. We bought our apartment for $240k. We owe $173k on the mortgage, by dint of extreme thrift over the last few years and extra payments to principal almost every month. But we have about $7k in equity, because of how much value it has lost in the last year.

It's hard to think about like that. I can, however, think about it as, "If MHH had not gotten a job and had spent this entire year unemployed, how much worse shape would we really be in?" Or, "If someone had told me that Iyyar had [terrible disease] and it would cost $60k to cure it, how fast would I have forked that money over?" Yeah, it stinks, but when it comes down to it, we both have good jobs, we're still saving money every month, and if we've just lost most of our last six years' savings in the real estate market, well--a lot of people are a lot worse off. Perspective.

We might qualify for the program, anyway, which would mean we could refinance and possibly bring our monthly payments down a hundred or so dollars a month. I still don't think we can rent it out for what it costs us to carry it, but even if we are subsidizing it by a couple hundred dollars a month for five or six years, and it regains even half its lost value, it will still be worth it. Also, oddly, rents have not dropped by nearly as much as I would have thought. Three-bedrooms around here are still in the neighborhood of $1300, plus heat. And we have free laundry and deeded parking. So... yeah. We'll see. In the meantime, MHH heard today that he can, if he likes, renew his contract for a third year, so that's a good option to have even if we don't avail ourselves of it.

10. Part of the effect this whole condo-buying and equity-losing experience is having on me is to make me rethink my practices of daily thrift. I am the kind of person who buys a lot of generics, doles out the expensive parmesan cheese only in combination with the cheaper, if less tasty, varieties, and is clothing her youngest kid entirely in his big brothers' hand-me-downs, because, well, what does he care if he's wearing someone else's tomato stains? Now, I can't help but think that with that money we could have all gone to visit my grandmother, or Grandma E. I'm really glad we forked over all the money to go to Israel last year. And today, when I went to Target to get cat litter and diapers, I didn't buy generics. I bought Pampers. And I got Iyyar a concrete mixer and Barak a garbage truck, too.

Next week, back to our regularly scheduled thrift. But tonight, I'm eating straight Parmesan on my noodles, baby.


shanna said...

I'll do this point by point:

(1) I'm sure I can find a use for them, if you can't. ;-)

(2) Happy birthday!

(3) No comment.

(4) Are florescent bulbs also called electric pears?

(5) Sorry can't help.

(6) Rita still does this, but to Julian.

(7) Cute.

(8) Lucky for you, I don't live in Ada's area. Otherwise I'd possibly beat it out of you.

(9) I also try to have perspective, but it is kinda hard to feel like you did all the right things and still got screwed.

(10) I heartily endorse the not skimping on food (cost-wise) plan. You may also want to look into hanna andersson pajamas for the kids, while you are feeling spendy. Sooooooooooooo nice.

Deborah said...

1) Never have seen such items in my experience. I thought hors d'oeuvres were eaten with hands. At least all the fancy parties I go to.

2)Happy Birthday, you young thing!

3)Do not even think about this experiment again. Well, think about it, and learn from your mistake.

4)Next time remember the photo, please.

Did you know Galileo kept time during his experiments with gravity by humming the same song over and over? Musical rhythem/ time was more accurate than any time keeping devise then available.

5)There are several nice things in my old "Maine Woods Woolies" (by Helene Rush) book. An Aran Vest, pullover, cardigan, sampler, tree of life--I am sure it would not be difficult to make vests out of those that are not vest patterns.

Want me to send it to you?

6)Mine just want whatever is cooking, not necessarily what is in my hand or mouth. Although they still fight over who licks the beaters and bowls.

8) My kids never went through the things yours seem to, but I had Ellie near me and she used to field calls.

9)May you qualify.
10)For me it was three things: age, the economy and my profligate son. For me, having a son who spends the money he makes like water and seems to not value the sacrifice of all around him to enable him to go to college has had the effect of me deciding it is about time some got spent on the parents. But getting older, I have decided I am going to buy the little things I denied myself and our family all these decades--especially after the several thousand in retirement money I put in last year evaporated. I/we could have had some fun, instead!

miriamp said...

In no particular order:

(8) And I'd wait til Shanna was done with you, then carefully copy down the number over her shoulder. (Just kidding.) Oh, and glad Avtaylon is feeling better. Sounds very scary!

(3) As a ray of hope re: Iyyar, (since he didn't test as allergic to dairy, right? So we're pretty sure it's a lactose thing?) My two lactose intolerant kids (ages 9.5 and 11 5/6) just discovered lactaid and are very very happy with it. The 9 year old in particular, who cried every time her siblings ate pizza is now enjoying it again.

uberimma said...

Deb--my retirement evaporated too. It's not the same thing as losing $67k, which was the money we were going to move to Israel with. We could have had a LOT of fun with that money. Oh well... just money. Right? And while you're not putting money in retirement, you can use some of it to come visit us again this summer. :)

Miriam-I don't think it is a lactose thing. Butter has hardly any lactose, and one cookie's worth of butter (two cookies made with half butter, half Earth Balance) totally threw him for a loop. If it were lactose that shouldn't have been a problem. But yes, he did test negative. I don't get it either.

Yasmin said...

Re. #2: since you're obviously youthful enough to get carded when buying beer, I wouldn't worry about the fertility question quite yet ;P

LC said...

And my 2 cents:

2. Happy belated Birthday!
6. My going-on-2 YO has just gotten to the point of sitting and watching while I bake as long as I let him dump *every* ingredient in the bowl. But he no longer sits in his booster or high chair - 'Mommy lap' or 'on lap' is *much* preferable, apparently, and momentarily, the battle isn't worth it with a kid who desperately needs the calories.

Shalom Shachne said...

Happy, happy birthday!!!!! Hope you had a great day.

I hear your real estate pain. We are also feeling it w. our house being on the market....

We got sugar tongs as a wedding present. Those are probably more common than appetizer forks, and I had no clue was they were (teeny ice cube tongs?!)

Shabbat Shalom! --Ellen (not Sam)