Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009 - part 1

Excuse me while I wax triumphant... 2009 will be over in SEVEN HOURS and I did not fall down and die. Or quit. Or run away. Or refuse to get out from under the covers. Yay! And rather than bore you with the oh-so-long list of crummy things this ill-fated year brought upon my family, today I'm sharing some of the happy memories:

January - Toasted my longtime friend at her wedding in Florida. Yay, Pope-mintras!

February - Turned 32, had awesome, amazing, then-pregnant friend babysit for a rare opportunity to ditch the sweatpants and go enjoy some sushi! Doesn't Mac look cute with scruff? Don't tell him I said so or he may just quit shaving altogether.

March - Enjoyed our first big snow with the little noodle. What a fun day we had taking her sledding! It was my first time sledding too, as if you couldn't tell.

April - Successfully matched floral shirt to real flowers. Nah, that wasn't really the highlight. But, the location, Maymont (what I consider Richmond's version of Central Park) really caught on with the noodle, and we visited daily for a while there.

May - All the really good stuff started up... our favorite farmer's market opened for the season. These are my two sweeties on opening day.

Oh, and the Children's Museum turned on the water in its 'backyard' ... so fun! We spent a lot of time there over the summer, as I'm sure we will also do in 2010.

June - Got some face time with my dear friend who deserted me on the East Coast while living out her dreams on the West Coast. (I've got nothing but love for you, Drea!!)

Also in June - Father's Day. The noodle got Mac such an awesome gift this year - the iBert. Sounds very techie but it's actually a bike seat, and she and Mac loved it!

In fact, the noodle loved it almost as much as she loved her "googly eyes" helmet and drinking from the Camelback.

to be continued ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Nothing says Christmas/winter/snow like my little frog. I'm just glad we found a use for this recently-bequeathed Halloween costume - it's a perfect snowsuit! You can't see them, but she's also wearing bagel bags to keep her feet dry 'cause that's how we roll ... er, hop!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow days!

Anything can happen on a snow day.

You can forfeit your weekly trip to Chipotle because digging your car out of the snow would take longer than cooking something new altogether (though not nearly as tasty).

You can spot a bald eagle from your bedroom window (unfortunately, he does not like being photographed one bit).

You can make a lame attempt at doing something artistic with your camera.

You can enjoy surprise visits from neighbors.

You can witness a blossoming romance.

You can teach your child to make her first snowball.

You can be the recipient of crazy hair.

Happy Snow Day! Hope you are having a ball!

With love,
Your favorite Richmond noodle family

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Misconceptions

It snowed here in Richmond, and it snowed quite a lot. The little noodle and I first noticed flurries while getting geared up to go pick Mac up from work on Friday night, and the first words out of her mouth were, "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!" Then, yesterday while looking out at the snow she said, "Reindeer are coming!"

She also has it in her head that she is going to see Santa and that he is bringing her presents. Where did she come up with these thoughts? Not from Mac and I. And outside of Elmo and Einstein videos, she doesn't watch TV. We did look at "The Legendary Santa" at the local Children's Museum, but she wouldn't go near the guy. Heck, we don't even have a tree. And before you go thinking I am a big grinch of a mama, please remember that we are moving in a couple of weeks and that buying a Christmas tree falls way, way down on our current list of priorities.

So, where does a two year-old come up with ideas about Christmas? I was under the impression that her "school" was a place for running around and socializing while I go to the grocery store in peace one half-day a week. Maybe I'm getting a little more than I'm paying for. Still, I don't really think they would be pushing the whole Santa, reindeer, present thing at her Christian school. Wouldn't it be more fitting for her to come home talking about baby Jesus in the manger?

So, it's not Mac or me or TV or school, which leaves what? Could it be that her Bunny Grahams and Spaghettios are somehow laced with messages directly from the North Pole to make her want the big guy in the red suit, his red-nosed reindeer and - of course - all of that loot? Yeah, that must be it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Washington, CD

This just in - the Maccaroni family actually left our den of misery (okay, it's really not that bad) for three fabulous, carefree days! Mac and his brother departed for a weekend in Dallas on Saturday morning for what might have to go on record as being the best birthday/Christmas present ever: an all-expenses paid trip to see the Cowboys play at their new stadium. If you're a lifelong Cowboys fan as these two are, it's a big deal.

And rather than mope around Richmond feeling sorry for ourselves and missing Mac, the noodle and I spent some girl time in what she likes to call "Washington, CD." Long story long, my little bookworm of a noodle got hold of some of the many books I have that are all about the sights around our nation's capitol. She's a bit obsessed with them. I'll bet she can name more DC landmarks than most adults. However, to her, it's Washington, CD. And because I'm her mama and I think everything she does is simultaneously adorable and perfect (except when it's not), I don't correct her.

Why do I have these DC books you ask? Oh, I bought them in preparation for the worst date ever ... with Mac, whom I later married in spite of it. We participated in Urban Challenge which is basically the Amazing Race of yesteryear. I don't know if it even exists anymore. But just imagine a couple going on the Amazing Race on their third date. It wasn't pretty. I dodged his phone calls for days afterward and then once he'd finally given up on me I came around. It wasn't his fault that I'm not competitive and despite having run a marathon, I hate running. The funniest part is that on our one-year anniversary, the Washington Post published a photo of one miserable Jamie and one desperate-to-please-Jamie Mac during the previous year's race. I wish I had a scanner so I could plunk it on here. That's one picture that tells a thousand words. Alright, enough off-topic-ness...

The noodle and I had such a wonderful time in DC. We saw some of our favorite people:

The "nanny family" - I worked for them for 3 1/2 years, only leaving to start my own fam. Over the years they became not only like family but also some of my closest friends. And the noodle could not be more crazy over their two girls.

The BFF - The noodle and I lost our favorite Richmond mama and her sweet daughter to DC a couple of months ago. The girls talk about one another all the time and were so happy to be reunited (as was I!). Here they are goofing around in the pack and play:

And here's what happened when I told them to go to sleep - pretending of course! Sorry, for the extreme close-up, but I am surviving on a zoom lens until further notice:

100% sweet! Have I mentioned how much I love having a little girl?!

We also saw my favorite Brit whom I sadly forgot to photograph. She had the unlucky timing of watching me have a meltdown over a parking ticket (You've all been warned - I'm a crier). And we got to see tons of the noodle's favorite DC landmarks and the National Zoo. Even more fun than the real animals was this panda statue. She actually kissed it! Twice! Ew.

It was a terrific weekend all around. I know I'm not the only Maccaroni who was sad to come back to Richmond, but we're due in court tomorrow so a mini-vacation will have to do for now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were right - the waiting is the hardest part. For the past couple of weeks, we've been attempting to lease a house starting in January. It hasn't been easy. First of all, our budget is pretty much nil. Second, our credit is pretty much nil. Third, well, it's just hard finding place (however temporary) that feels comfy, safe and conveniently located for our one-car family.

By some miracle, I found a house that pretty much fits the bill and our kind potential landlord seems open to overlooking our awful credit assuming a parent cosigns. Yes, a parent will cosign our lease just like back when we were in college. Fun! So, now with a much edited by said parent lease in hand and a request for said parent to do a walk-through of the house prior to signing, we might actually have found our next dwelling. This is especially nice since our current house could be on the auction block as soon as mid-January. (Come bid - you're guaranteed a sweet deal on a custom, modern, riverfront home! Oh, I should also mention that it leaks like a civ, needs some serious electrical repair and a new roof and that it could be pretty messy when we leave it.)

At this very moment, I'm writing to keep my mind off the fact that the landlord hasn't responded to the many edits I 'suggested' be made to her lease. They're pretty important, actually, but I'm not sure she'll agree. If we can get through this and the walk-through, we'll be on our way out of the house that has caused us much sorrow.

I've always had this mantra of living my life without regrets and that all of the mistakes I've made helped make all of the good things happen blah, blah, blah, but I gotta tell ya, making an emotional decision to buy this house three plus years ago ignited a firestorm of negative repercussions. To look at where we were financially then versus now is like comparing night and day. And it all could have been avoided! So, I will bite my tongue and won't say I regret it, but I am mad at myself. Furious even. And more than a little bit heartbroken. Oh, and despite pouring it all out here, I'm deeply embarrassed. Sure, lots of good things (namely the little noodle) have come along in the past few years but starting over from zero sucks. And that we did this with a child just makes me feel crummy.

Okay, I'm done feeling sorry for myself. Back to reality.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Where patience and hunger converge

Things to do while waiting for your spouse to return home from H&R Block training sometime after 9:00 pm so you can have dinner together:
  • update blog - check
  • go online apartment/house hunting - check
  • eat two pickles to stave off hunger - check
  • watch an episode of The Biggest Loser on the dvr so as to remind yourself how you will look if you keep snacking before dinner - on my way now

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin pie, oh my

So while I continue to avoid finishing the two posts I've been struggling with recently, I thought you would get a kick out this picture of the little noodle helping me make pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving morning.

Since it's the season for being thankful, I'm thankful for a two-year-old who melts my heart daily. Couldn't ya just squeeze her, sticky batter fingers and all?

She was so brave at her two-year checkup today. No crying during the exam. Not a peep when she got the flu mist. And just a few tears when she got her final HIB vaccine. The minute I mentioned lollipop, she was a happy little camper again. This is a huge change from ALL of our previous visits. I'm bummed that I forgot to ask our nurse practitioner whether there's any validity to the myth that your child will double in height from the height they are at age two. If it's true, my not-so-little noodle will be exactly six feet tall. Wow! You go, girl!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy birthday to you (dot, dot, dot)

Today we launched the little noodle's week-long birthday celebration with a party for she and her friends (and our friends). She'll be two on the 27th, but since most of her buds will be away for Thanksgiving we thought a party this weekend seemed like a good way to celebrate with them. This year's theme was dots. Lots of dots:

Crazy amounts of dots:

Yummy dots:

The cupcakes were a big hit, but I think the cheese puffs were even more popular.

How is it that the boys always go right for the trucks? Is that genetic?

That's okay, though, the girls worked on opening presents. The little noodle had a hand from her friend, Bug, who turned two last week. (These two go way back. All the way to Lamaze class.)

She loved hearing the Happy Birthday song - good thing, too, since we'll be singing it a couple more times this week!

Almost two, woo hoo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Must be something in the water

Somewhere in the world right now, some mom or dad is reaching into the fridge to grab their kid a juice box filled not with juice but - get ready for it - water. Wateroos were invented by a mom who just couldn't get her daughter to drink water any other way. No, that's not quite true. She claims to have created water-filled juice boxes because she was tired of toting around water-filled sippy cups which leaked into her purse.

Okay, I am a water-filled-sippy-cup-toting mom and have never had a spill. (However, I have managed to spill about eight million other food and drink items in my very forgiving diaper bag). Back to my point, I've also had a little bit of experience with juice boxes. Are they ever not leaking? They leak if you squeeze them, drop them, hold them at a slight angle or even just leave them sitting unattended in some weird straw air pressure situation. You moms know what I'm talking about. So, the very last thing I want to tote in my purse is a juice box filled with water. But I'll bet you anything that mom is going to pay her kid's way through college with such a simple idea.

And speaking of water, I'm adding on to my growing list of "why didn't I think of that?!" items: the aquadoodle. It's like a magna doodle, kind of. It's actually a thin piece of fabric (think white sheet) over top of a heavy dark piece of fabric (think blue slip 'n slide). When you draw on it with water-filled pens, the white sheet gets wet and shows the blue underneath. Doodle to your heart's content, watch it dry and disappear, repeat. Genius.

I've often thought if you're going to invent and market a new product, it should be for kids, or better yet, babies. Is there anything we parents won't buy to make our children healthier, smarter, happier, better sleepers, less whiny, etc? And the simpler, the better. I remember how important it was to me that before the little noodle was born we had ample supplies of a particular swaddling blanket. It was bigger than the rest of 'em and much more hip looking. So, roughly $75 later we had three big, hip-looking swaddling blankets. Now, I was right about needing ample size since our noodle came in size extra large; however, I'm pretty sure a trip to the fabric store for some similar fabric cut into big squares would have only set us back about $5. But only the best for our little noodle, right?

I need to come up with some new product for wee ones. I have been thinking about making local, organic baby food for home delivery (marrying my love for babies with my love for cooking), but that sure seems like a lot of effort. I would really rather come up with a concept like water in a box or gigantic pieces of fleece to market to the world. If only it were so simple!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Every couple has some special thing that becomes a part of their relationship, wrapped up in their love. Maybe it is the site of their first date, a favorite vacation spot, a particular wine, or even a TV show Whatever it is, it speaks to that couple in a different way than it does to the rest of us. And it makes them happy.

Today I'm thinking of mine and Mac's special thing. It used to be a Tuesday thing. Then it was a Thursday thing. For a while there it was a no day thing because we couldn't bear to spend the $11 on it. But lemme tell ya, it's back in full force and it's a FRIDAY thing! Yes, our thing is Chipotle. It's been our thing for almost our entire relationship.

My favorite Chipotle memory is from the night that Mac proposed. No, he didn't pop the question over a burrito (and if he had, I would've totally down with that). Mac took me to one of our favorite secret spots in DC, our own little island on the National Mall. He arranged an amazing picnic, he brought along a gorgeous ring. It was perfect. And what better way to mark a perfect occasion than to top it off with a trip to Chipotle? We were the smiling-est two people to ever approach the counter, I'm sure of it. Maybe they thought we were on drugs. Maybe they were blinded by my sparkly new ring. Maybe they just got it - that on a special night you need your special thing.

I get a little confused when I meet someone who doesn't feel the Chipotle love. Someone who prefers another burrito. Someone who just doesn't get it - the cilantro lime rice, the zippy salsa verde, the fresh guac. Oh, and the quantities. I love that you can get enough out of one burrito to feed a family of four - or you can do what I do and eat it all by yourself in one sitting. Yum-ola.

So, because it's Friday and because we love each other tonight is Chipotle night. I hope you'll find a way to do your special thing tonight, too. You deserve it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

m&m's make everything better

Today I swam over to the Census testing facility. Okay, I didn't swim there, but I could've. Will this rain ever end?! I digress. I got a perfect score on the test!!! Yes, it was easy but it wasn't that easy. And I did it with flare. Is that what you call it when you can't get your jacket off because you got the zipper stuck the minute you arrived? When your are soaked from head to toe because even though your awesome husband and child dropped you off at the building, you forgot to grab an umbrella and attempted to enter through two locked doors first? When you fill in your application with personal, umm, legal information about yourself unnecessarily thus making you that wierdo who is writing in an explanation of your current life circumstances while everyone else sits and waits for you to finish. Embarrassing! But not too much different than pouring it all out here I suppose.

So, I'll leave you with this visual instead. The sweetest little noodle in the whole wide world baked cookies with her mama this afternoon. We both got a chance to wear our favorite aprons and lick the batter from the bowl. Then we added m&m's to our creation. Then we ate m&m's. Then we ate cookies. Then we danced around the living room in a sugary haze of happiness. Or something like that. Guess what? There's video, and it's coming soon! Now I have to get back to watching Grey's Anatomy ... I mean, babysitting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Give yourself a boost

Do you want to feel smart today? Admit it, you do. Just mosey on over to the US Census Practice Test and give it a try. I can practically guarantee it'll leave you feeling smarter than the average bear. And if I'm wrong, I am so sorry on so many levels.

Quick life update: Yesterday's foreclosure hearing was canceled at the last minute thanks to our top-secret emergency plan. We'll be here until January-ish. Oh, and in case you were wondering, one of us will no longer be unemployed starting soon. Very soon. I'll give you a hint: it's not the little noodle and it's not her mama. Can I get a "Gooooooo Mac!"?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thanks for nothing, Wells Fargo

2:00 pm tomorrow. Richmond Courthouse. Be there. It’s foreclosure day. This is definitely not how (or when) we expected our house to be taken from us. We were trying for a short sale. We had an amazing offer. The bank screwed up big time. They assigned a complete moron to oversee our sale. He mixed up documents. He failed to communicate. He terminated the short sale. He reinstated the foreclosure. Effective immediately. Moron.

So, tomorrow at 2:00 our house might be sold to the highest bidder. Or, it might not. Don’t ya just love the uncertainty? The drama? I for one do not. I try to steer clear of drama if at all possible. I’m more of the philosophy that goes, “this is where we are right now and we can’t change most of it, so we’re just going to get through it and move on.” What is that? Jamie-ism?

Don’t worry, though, little dears. We have a plan. I can’t go into all of the details right now, but our top-secret, emergency plan will keep us in our house for a few more months. There is pretty much zero probability that we will be one of those families you see on TV whose belongings are sitting in the driveway being picked over by riff-raff and raccoons. And that is lucky because we have a lot of both of those in our neighborhood. Yet another thing I won’t miss when we do eventually, inevitably move out.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Relax, I'm just here to take your census. It won't hurt a bit.

Picture it: Washington, DC, the year 2000. A 23 year-old nonprofit professional is singled out by a matronly census lady who asks deep, meaningful questions for hours on end really getting down to who this gal is and what she's all about. It would leave a lasting impression on this gal. It would make her wonder, "Do people actually get paid to do this?"

I called the Census Bureau FOREVER ago looking for a job. They said they would be hiring thousands of people to go door-to-door in their own neighborhoods to collect valuable census data. Regrettably, they would not be hiring for quite some time. They took my number and just yesterday called to tell me that I had been hand-selected to move on to the next level.

Okay, so I've only been asked to take their test. They probably ask everyone to take the test, but it made me feel special for a minute or two. I don't know what topics the test is going to cover, so I can't really study for it. But, here are some questions that I think they will ask. I'm just going to work out my answers as I go:
  1. Do you consider yourself a voyeur, as in someone who consumes large chunks of free time reading posts on facebook and every blog you can get your hands on? Most definitely.
  2. Do you have a strong command of the English language? Yes. I have been speaking it for 30+ years. Note to self: check with Mom to find out age when baby babble turned to actual words.
  3. Can you operate a computer? Yes! I am totally acing this test!
  4. Do you have a vehicle? Yes, I share it with my husband and will be able to use it whenever he doesn't need it for work. (He'll have an awesome job by then. Probably such an awesome job that we'll have several additional cars just for fun including one for our toddler and one for the cat.)
  5. Do you feel comfortable entering a complete stranger's house to probe them for hours on end bringing to surface emotional baggage such as failed marriages, drug abuse and poor family health histories? Uhhh. Hmmm. Come to think of it, after I was polled ten years ago, I proceeded to have a quarterlife crisis. I'm actually amazed I survived it. What if I ask a question that makes someone just lose it? What if I make headline news as the census taker who was fatally shot after probing too deep? But, on the flip side, what if this census taking propels me to stardom, launching my talk show career? I'd land the biggest celebs. I'd ask 'em the tough questions. And I'd probably get paid more than $11 an hour. Guess it's worth a try.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gone too soon

Ah, fall, season of all seasons. The season I look forward to all winter, spring and summer. The season that reeks of nostalgia on so many levels. One whiff of your crisp air and I'm a child again climbing trees in the woods with my stepbrother. Carpooling to dance classes with the windows down. Cheering from the bleachers for the high school football team. Going to frat parties wearing slightly less clothing than what was appropriate for your cool breezes. Then, more recently, getting married in a wooded grove on one of your most perfect days. Driving home from the hospital with a newborn, the leaves in the driveway crackling as we pulled in. Fall, I've got nothing but love for ya. Almost.

Two weeks ago, you brought out the big guns. Leaves! Leaves in one million amazing color combinations ... in my neck of the woods anyway. I'm not a religious person, but in one word I'd have to say it was glorious. And lucky me I live on an acre of (pre-foreclosure) wooded property that backs up to the James River. We don't see the river much, just in the winter and early spring. But this afternoon while the little noodle was napping I happened to glance out the window and there it was. River. Who is crazy enough to complain about a river view?! That would be me, the one that sure will miss the leaves that blocked its view.

Fall, you fell too fast. Don't worry though, you'll always be my favorite. Those other seasons don't hold a candle to you. But in this final fall that I'll live on the acre of wooded property in the gorgeous house that we can't afford, couldn't you have stuck around a little longer?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is there any news?

Because it's Wednesday. Because the little noodle is taking a long nap. Because I've exhausted all other ways to spend my time quietly so as not to wake that sleepy noodle, today is the day I chose to launch this blog. It's taken, oh, an eternity. But for those who are familiar with my current life situation, you might say it was a good idea to find an outlet.

Each day for the last nine months since my husband had to shut down his business has changed me right down to my very core. Not one day goes by that I am not filled with so much joy or so much sorrow that I am moved to tears. It's the joyous tears that always catch me off guard, but they are very much present. See, there's a lot of good stuff happening in this crummy situation of unemployment, house uncertainty and personal financial disaster. Good stuff like friends who have "employed" us, fed us and cared about us just because. Good stuff like being forced to start over with evaluating who we are and what we want from this life. Good stuff like finally grasping how little we do need to be happy. Good stuff like the knowledge that we will lose our house but not our home.

I'm not the chatty person I used to be. I don't answer the phone anymore, and when I return calls I am really hoping it goes to voicemail. I would much rather write and be written to. And I have found that this really helps to avoid the question, Is there any news on the ... job front, house front, etc. If there was any news, I would be shouting it from the roof top!

I'd be glad for you to take this journey with me. And my wish for you, no matter who you are, is that you never experience the bad that our family is going through but that you often experience our joy. It's there and it's going to carry us through.