Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fairy Garden!

I love small things; I always have.  I also have better luck with container gardening than with any other kind.  Put these together, and I seriously have NO idea why it's taken this long for the idea of a fairy garden to sink into my skull.

Now, of course, I'm making up for lost time.  I lose DAYS to Pinterest.  I have piles of bark and twigs all over my house.  I have PLANS.  Somewhat unlike me, I also have the start of a fairy garden.  While my long term plan is to make most, if not all, of the things in my fairy garden, I'm also WAY too impatient to wait that long.  But, since Squeak, I am on a MUCH tighter budget and it's amazing how expensive little things are.

So, I hit some clearance sales over winter, and I scored some stuff at Big Lots, and I hoarded it away like a squirrel.  Then I found the PERFECT wheel barrow on Craigslist for $25.  Yay!  Time to start!

After I put my wheelbarrow where I wanted it, I tried to drill drainage holes.  I was torn, because I didn't really want to drill holes in it, but I didn't want to drown my potential garden either.  And then the drill bit broke after one hole, so I decided that was a good compromise.  After I drilled *the* hole, I put down some screening, and covered it with rocks.  Then I added a bag of top soil, and watered it.  (This was an excellent hint that I got somewhere else - the soil will settle, so if you don't water it and let it sit for a bit before you add your plants and furniture, it'll end up shifting.)

Because I'm impatient, I let it rest as long as it took to set up the water table to entertain Squeak.  (Other people do fairy gardens for/with their kids.  Squeak couldn't care less.  This is all about me.)  Anyway, I had a bit of the layout in my head, but I hadn't looked at my hoard for a while.  So I dragged everything out and played around with the still-potted plants and the fairy stuff for a while.  (My hoard was bigger than I remembered.  I have a fairy house, chair, bird bath, wheel barrow, garden tools, bridge, mailbox, fence, a metal chest, a fairy door and a couple of windows in a set, and a really cute little sleigh.)

I know you're supposed to get wee little flowers, but mostly I went with what I thought was pretty.  So, the plants are verbatim, festuca, kona hot pink aloha calibrachoa, kona midnight blue aloha calibrachoa, artemisia, pomegranate punch calibrachoa, lemon slice calibrachoa, and sanvitalia.

It just felt like it was missing that certain "something."  I couldn't quite put my finger on it...

Ah.  Yes.  Godzilla makes it all better.  I pushed over the wheelbarrow and scattered the tools, like he's on a rampage.  Heh.  This entertains me.  (It pretty much horrified my neighbors.  They don't know me very well yet.)

I left it like that for a couple of weeks to let the plants settle in and decided how I like it.  And I got the idea of a fountain stuck in my head.  I looked at LOTS of ideas around the interwebz, but I didn't care for the fake water ones.  And, I've been meaning to set something up for the birds/butterflies. So, I went ahunting and found a solar pump at Harbor Freight that interested me.  And then I fell into zulily one day and found an electric fountain.  Score!

The new fountain arrived yesterday. so I set up the water table for Squeak and went to play in my fairy garden.  For now, at least, Godzilla is back in the flower bed because I needed the room.  The fountain says that it's indoor only (even though the picture showed it outside) but the wheel barrow is positioned half under the overhand of the house, so it's pretty protected.  (I was thinking fountain pretty early, and intentionally put the wheel barrow near the outside outlet.)

So, here is the garden now:

My next goal is pathways.  I'm torn between slices of wood and pea gravel.  I'm also weighing the pros and cons of pre-mounting versus just leaving it loose.  I've seen a couple of fairy garden pictures (thanks to my hours of pinterest browsing) that laid out their pathways like mosaics and I'm kind of fascinated.  But I would also like to be able to move stuff around and if I make the path, I can't really do that.  So many decisions.

I also think I want to paint the mailbox, the wheelbarrow, and the garden tools.  They're currently brown and they kind of blend in, so I think I'll paint the tools and the wheelbarrow red and probably light grey/silver for the mailbox. 

In addition to pathways, I also want to add fencing because I think it makes it much more finished looking.  I found some fencing at Big Lots, but it is also brown.  And I don't love it.  So I may try altering it, if I can find my soldering iron.  And then paint it, probably white.  Or - here's Pinterest influencing me again - I may just try to make my own out of twigs.

I also want to make a twig ladder from the wheelbarrow (near the mailbox) to the ground.

The little metal chest, the fairy door and windows, and the sleigh aren't in here either.  I have an ash tree between the road and sidewalk that has a hole near the bottom that is perfect for a fairy door, but the door would be over a foot off the ground.  So my plan for that is a deck with stairs down to the ground.

And there's another tree on the other side of the house that is also perfect for a fairy door.  While I was galavanting around the country earlier this year, I found a teeny tricycle in an antique/junk shop.  So, in my head, I'm laying the foundation for basically a fairy village around my neighborhood for people to discover as they walk.  We'll see how much of this actually happens but right now, I'm excited.  Yay, fairy gardens! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Time, It FLIES.

Isn't there a Chinese or Arabic curse, along the lines of living in interesting times?  I TOTALLY get that.  I think I'm FINALLY sorta, somewhat close to a gloriously boring rut.  Oh, how I crave thee, boring rut!

Moving back to Ohio did not work out as anticipated.  I moved into a lovely house 50 miles from my parents, which realistically is as close as I will ever live, and in a bit over a year, they visited 3 times.  If I wanted to see them, or if I wanted them to see their only grandchild, I had to rearrange my schedule and drive to them.  Most of the friends I had in college left the state, the ones remaining weren't the friends I thought they were, except for the 2 who liked me but couldn't stand kids.

Then, on February 26, 2015, I walked into the first "weekly" meeting with my boss in months to find HR in there too.  The company was not growing as expected and they eliminated my position, effective immediately.  By the time the HR lady had gone through my severance letter, my boss had gathered everyone sitting around me and sent them off somewhere, found a couple of boxes, and was waiting at my desk.  He's a sales guy, my role made zero sense in his group, and I was basically counting down until I didn't owe back relocation anymore.  Still, that was a shock.

They gave me 5 weeks severance, 3 months worth of cash for COBRA, forgave the relocation debt, and paid for 3 months of a career placement service, so all things considered, they were pretty cool about it.  I was also eligible for unemployment.

I applied and interviewed for a bunch of jobs in Cleveland, but the offers I got were for contract work.  Meanwhile, my dream job back in Chicago had expressed interest in January, and I'd told them that I wasn't looking, but I saved the email.  The first thing I did after leaving my now-former company was finding that email and sending a note to the recruiter.  I had a couple phone interviews with them in March, they flew me to Chicago for the day for an interview on March 26, and told me in April that I was the "top candidate."    They had some internal hoops to jump through, and well, I sub-let a friend's apartment, moved cat and kid BACK to IL, and started my newest job on June 15, 2015.

(Due to Peanut's unwillingness to use a litter box, she has gone to live with my aunt.  Sophia would very much like for me to send Squeak (the toddler) to live with my aunt as well...)

My friend's apartment is in Evanston, which is about 40 miles from the job.  This sounds nuts, except that our original daycare is in Niles, about 8 miles from the apartment.  So, as a stop gap until I vetted a local daycare, it worked quite well.  I found a house in Naperville, and got the keys on 6/15/15. 

The newest "new" house.
The next week, I was in Ohio for the pack/load.  The following week, Squeak started at the new daycare, our stuff arrived at the new house, and we moved out of the apartment.

Moving is hell.  Unpacking is awful.  It is WAY worse with a mobile, curious toddler.  Oy.  Then a week or so later, Squeak fell on the stairs and broke her wrist.  Cue 6 weeks in a cast up past her elbow.

This is the third time in less than 10 years that I've moved to the Chicago area.  Maybe this time, I'll stay for a while.  *eyeroll*

I'm still unpacking.  We were only in the Ohio house about a year, so I didn't put much of a dent in all of the flood stuff.  Here, I haven't started on the basement.  Or my craft room.  I haven't found my Tupperware.  Colander.  Mixing bowls.  Favorite fall coat.  Squeak's snow pants.  But, we're getting there.  I found some Halloween decorations, and then this week, I took them down and started putting up Christmas decoration.

I was SO proud of myself - I did the ginormous bank of windows in the living room and it took 3 strings of lights, but I only had one bulb to overlap.  Yay, me!  And I got so hung up on hanging the lights that I completed disregarded how Squeak was going to react to them.  Which has basically been like this:

So keeping her from killing the lights has been entertaining.  *eyeroll*

In the spring, when the job offer looked like it was on the way, I texted Squeak's dad to let me know that we'd be back and he made it pretty clear that he didn't care.  No one can say that I haven't tried.

Squeak, in September

So, that's what's new here.  

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Well, That's That, Then.

Sometimes, I think my life is like a French farce.  Except not French.  And sometimes, not very funny.  So exactly like that but completely different.  Yup.

I found out on Friday, February 15, 2013 that Squeak was on the way.  I told her father on Monday, February 18, 2013.  We texted back and forth, but I didn't see him again until July 2013.  (He claims that he stopped over to my house several times, but I wasn't home.)  I told him and told him that I'd like to try us, but if he walked, I was moving back to Ohio to be near my family because I didn't think I could do it alone in Chicago.  He kept saying that he didn't want me to leave, and he wasn't going to walk, but I didn't see him very often.  (The sum total of his contribution, aside from kid herself, has been a broken shoestring to play with the cat.)  By the end of August, I'd interviewed for a job in Ohio, had a job offer and was negotiating salary requirements.  This, he knew.  After I accepted the job in Ohio, put in my notice in Chicago, and started preparing to move, he said again that he didn't want me to leave.  And spoke of transferring to Ohio as well.

I started the job in Ohio in the end of September, 2013.  I was back in Chicago in November 2013, December 2013, February 2014, April 2014 and June 2014.  Every time, we'd been texting, he wanted to see us, blah blah blah and then something came up and he couldn't make it.

I've made it clear that I wasn't going to go to court and demand anything from him, but I was not okay with his family not knowing about her.  We are both single, consenting adults.  These things happen.  My family is very small and far-flung.  His family is huge and relatively close.  Every time I got after him about telling them, I got "I know, I know, I'm going to." 

So in October 2014, I sent this:

You’ve made it pretty clear that you’re out, which is your choice.   But any drama that I can handle before she starts realizing what’s going on around her, I will. 

So here are your options:
1)      You have an excellent reason that you are keeping her a secret.  (Hint: I can’t think of anything excellent enough.)
2)      You tell your family that you have another daughter. 
3)      I will inform your family that you have another daughter.

Your call, but I’ve been about as patient as I’m going to be.  I’m not looking to jam you up or anything, but I won’t tolerate them not knowing at all.

If they chose to not care, that’s fine but she is not going to have to inform them that she exists. 

Let me know what you decide before the end of this month.  (Also, school pictures are tomorrow.  Let me know if you want one.)
And I got... no response.  His cell phone got shut off - again - but we both have kik.  I asked him if he'd gotten the email, and I know he read it, but he never responded.

So in November 2014, I wrote this:

I’ve been writing this on and off for several days.  I am not looking to make trouble for anyone, but I feel – strongly – that you have the right to know this.  Last May (5/14/13), I gave birth to C-- W---'s daughter.  Her name is xxxxx.  I also feel – even more strongly – that this notification of existence is not something I am willing to leave for her to have to deal with someday.  I have included pictures of her for you.  He has chosen to not be involved.
How you react is entirely up to you, but in my ideal world, you would choose to know her.  I have a small far-flung family.  She and I will get along just fine, but I think knowing you can only be a positive thing for her.      

Having a child was not ever in my plans, not even a little.  So, some restructuring of my life was necessary.  I moved back to Ohio, to be near my parents and other family.  Should you choose to be involved in whatever fashion in xxxxx’s life, I will be happy to work with you to make that happen.  (I have very dear friends in Nashville and Chicago, so trips to both places happen on a fairly regular basis.)

I suppose that you are wondering about me.  I was born and raised in xxxxx, Ohio by xxx and xxxx.  He is retired from xxxx and still does the occasional electrical contracting job, she was a secretary and a homemaker.  They still live together in the house where I grew up with my younger brother.  I graduated from the xxxxx, with a degree in xxxx Engineering.  I have a career that I love, in supplier quality engineering, that helps make me financially stable.  It has moved me from Ohio to Chicago, North Carolina, back to Chicago, and now back to Ohio, in addition to allowing me to travel extensively.  I have a slew of hobbies – pottery, reading, cross-stitch, geocaching, etc – that have all currently taken a bit of a back seat to child rearing.  I met C--- online in July 2013 on an online dating site.  

xxxxx (or Squeak or BJ or monster or …) is a very active and healthy toddler.  She had a heart murmur that was corrected with a cardiac catharization procedure this summer.  We’ve corrected the tongue tie, but still need to handle the lip tie.  She loves helping, throwing things on the floor, and mauling the cats (now that she’s fast enough to catch them).  Live music is her favorite, socks are for eating, and her primary goals in life include successfully capturing someone’s – anyone’s – smart phone, climbing out of the pack n play, and going headfirst down stairs.  Generally, it’s time to find her when you hear the crash, followed by “uh oh” (which is her favorite word).  I hope that you decide to know her.

I’ll not bother you further, but I want the best for Squeak and welcome your involvement.  Please feel free to contact me by phone [personal cell: xxx; work cell (that actually gets reception in my house): xxx], email [personal: xxx, work: xxx], online [] or via mail [xxx].
The packets included this letter, my business card, her birth announcement, last year's Christmas card, her "school" picture, and about 40 snapshots from birth to current age.  I'd google stalked his parents and found their address in Tennessee, and his aunt's work address in Illinois.  The two packets went out registered mail on 11/18/14.

Then the person who signed for the TN packet was NOT one of his parents.  And the facebook message I sent to his mom went to her "other" folder, where she will NEVER find it.  And the woman in IL called me because it turns out he's got one of the most common last names in the country and in spite of her being a real estate agent at the same company that his dad retired from after 30+ years, they are not related.

So I returned to my stalking, and discovered his dad's sister-in-law is an artist and had a show at their library.  I really liked her work, and I've been filling Squeak's nursery with family (blood and chosen) art for her.  I called the library, and told them that I'd seen her show and wanted to buy a painting for my daughter's nursery and could they put me in touch?  She works there, so she called the next day.  We talked about the painting - size, cost, subject, etc - and then she asked how I found the show, given that I was in Cleveland.  So I told her.  And she asked if his parents knew, and then freaked out over her facebook settings which were supposed to be private.  She didn't care about another child at all, just that she had to adjust her settings.  *headdesk*  We left it that she would email me a picture of the painting when it was done, and if she talked to his mom, she'd tell her to check the "other" folder.

In the course of my stalking, I'd found a cell phone number for his dad.  So around Thanksgiving, I called it and his mom answered.  I said "My name is Ericka xxxx, and I sent you a package in October.  I'm calling to confirm receipt."  And she said, "I have no desire to talk to you."  And I said, "Okay, thank you" and hung up.  I'm sorry, my baby, I tried.

So.  That's that.

I won't contact his kids while they are minors, but his daughter is 16.  I suppose, in 2 years, I'll need to think about that.  For now, though, Squeak has me and that'll just have to be enough.

This is really long.  Wow.  So, here's a picture of my kid since you made it this far.  How could you not want to know her??

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Air Travel Tips

I posted this last year on Facebook and was told I should publish it.  Heh.

Ahhhh, the glamor of travel... I know that I travel a lot, and should be more patient with people who CLEARLY never leave their house but gods above, people, you make me crazy!  Congratulations, Cleveland Hopkins, you definitely win some kind of wanna-be Darwin award for the sheeple wandering helplessly around the airport tonight (11/19/2013).

So, as a public service announcement, please observe the following guidelines:

1. DO have your boarding pass and id ready before you get to the first check-point.

2. Do NOT give the boarding pass to your toddler to hold.  Or your passport.  Who does that?!?

3. Do NOT freak out on the TSA guy when he won't just believe that your toddler dropped your passport and boarding passes somewhere and he should just let you thru so you can make your plane.  This is not his fault.  It's not the toddler's fault either so I'm totally judging you for yelling at him until he cried (toddler, not TSA guy).  Way to go, parent of the year.

4. DO realize - before you reach security - that your teenager DOES need his/her own ticket/boarding pass.

5. Do NOT wear thigh high, skin tight, lace up boots.  WTF, woman?

6. Do us all a favor and take off coat, belt, shoes, etc as you go, just like the rest of us.  Also, the five pounds of scrap metal that you hung around your neck is going to need to come off too.

7. DO put toiletries in the approved baggie prior to your arrival at security.  Yes, it's stupid.  Screaming at the TSA agents because they won't let you take a 32 ounce bottle of shampoo thru just makes all of us want to beat you to death with it.  And we don't care that you paid $200 for the face goo in the 5 ounce container.  This confirms our opinion of your intelligence.  The many steel balls of various sizes in your braids made for a festive touch as well, 'cause that looked FINE on the x-ray.  Yay for planning ahead!

8. Do NOT stop suddenly and stare helplessly into space in the middle of the hallway.  You will get run over, and I'm wearing steel toes, so it's going to hurt. 

9. Those moving walkways?  They are not called "stand theres," are they?  MOVE, dammit.

10. When you get on the plane first, and you have an aisle seat, do NOT assume that the plane is yours and make yourself comfy by spreading everything you own across all three seats.  We love having to wait longer while you gather everything up so the window guy can get in.  Really.

11. Before you leave your house, pick up your carryon.  If you can't lift it, remove some of your stuff or check the bag.  Do NOT get to your seat, stare at the overhead, announce that you can't pick up your luggage and then plunk yourself down in your seat and expect someone else to load your belongings for you.  Also?  When we all get off the plane and the escalator isn't working, don't expect your fellow passengers to haul your shit up the staircase.

And finally, 12. When a woman lugging a carseat with an infant in it plus her carryon comes onto the plane, accompanied by her 2 small children, standing there bitching about how you hate traveling near children while watching her struggle to get everyone settled AND blocking the aisle so no one else can help her either makes YOU the problem, not her.  (Note: I have no idea how that woman did it - she's clearly some sort of magician - but her children played and talked very quietly the entire flight.  That woman deserves a metal.)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Joss and Main Soho Console Chest UPDATED

Do you ever have one of those lives where every little thing is just a hassle?

In January, I fell in love.  With a console table.  It was beautiful and called to me.  But it was very expensive, so I mourned and moved on.  And then in April, I found it again at about a third of the price.  So I ordered it from Joss and Main.  And then they delayed the delivery 4 times – stretching it out until December.  And then they cancelled the order.  And I was sad.  And also angry.  They were keeping me from my love.  Isn’t it wonderful?  So I called early last week and growled and they put the order back in because it was available on a sister site except she had to mess with it to get the price the same as what I paid because they were charging over $100 more for it.  And also, after the 4th delay I emailed them and grouched so they gave me $15 off.  And it was to be delivered LAST WEEK instead of December.  And the sun came out and I was so happy.

So pretty.  So perfect for my living room...
And I got home last Wednesday and there was a huge heavy box on my porch and I was SO excited!  I hauled it into the house and tore into it like a 3 year old on Christmas morning.  And they sent the wrong g*dd*mn color.  This thing is hideous.  I love blue, usually.  But, yuck.

So not pretty.  :-(

I chatted with them last Thursday because there’s no way I would not have used bad words on the phone because they are thwarting me, g*dd*mm*t, and I’ve had about enough of that lately.  And they said that they'd send another one.  And I have to keep this one for 3 weeks in case they want to come inspect it.  And if I didn't hear from them, I could donate it.  

So then Saturday, the doorbell rang and POOF there was ANOTHER huge box on my porch.  YAY!   I dragged it inside (heavy!), but this time, I was a bit more careful in opening the box, which was fortunate because THEY SENT THE WRONG DAMN COLOR AGAIN.  I called ( this time) and spoke to a manager (Jesse) and sent him pictures of the boxes and the lower shelves and he said that he'd talk to the warehouse on Monday and figure out what was going on.  (Both boxes said that they were the black one.  Both boxes were wrong.)

Then Wednesday, I emailed Jesse because I hadn't heard anything and he came back and said that he hasn't heard back from the warehouse and he hoped that he'd have something by Friday (today, for those keeping track at home).

Soon, hopefully, maybe, possibly, my lovely lovely chest will be here where it belongs.  Until then, I have TWO huge boxes taking up most of the room in my living room, I've waited 6 months for something that was supposed to take a week, and I've spent at least an hour emailing, chatting and talking to various people trying to get things straightened out.  *growl.  snarl.*  Why can't ANYTHING be easy??

Next up, a sleeper sofa for the living room.  Except I want a queen, but 60 inches wide.  So at least I will remain reasonable in my demands...


I did not hear from Jesse on Friday.  I emailed him again on Tuesday (11/11/14) and asked for the status.  And heard nothing.   

Final Update:

It turns out that when the pictures and description of the console chest was moved from Joss and Main to Wayfare (their sister site), the color names and pictures were reversed.  So I kept ordering the black one and they kept sending the black one, but my black and their black were different.

Anywho, the third chest was the right color.  YAY!  So pretty!  Except, now I have two extra huge boxes in my living room.  So, I called back and they said that they'd send UPS shipping labels and I said that's great, but I travel for work so I have to call to arrange pick-up for when I'm home.  And they said no problem!  And then I left for a week, and came back to 4 UPS "Sorry we missed you" labels on the door.  Argh.  So I called UPS but they weren't willing to come out anymore and I called Wayfare and they just really wanted me to go away.

So I tried listed the chests on craigslist, but no one else wanted them either.  Then I was trying to get ready to move.  So one chest went home with a college friend who came over and bailed me out when I was panicking over moving into temporary housing.  And the second chest went home with one of my movers.  So, happy ending but man, what a hassle!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh, Good. More Snot.

My daughter turned 11 months old two days ago.  She's getting increasingly mobile, right as I'm FINALLY getting ready to move into our new house.  (Pack/load is Monday.)

I love my daughter.  I do.

But I hate being a parent.  I resent the ending of my life in Chicago.  There is nothing satisfying or enjoyable about 90% of this.  Why the fuck does anyone do this voluntarily?  Turns out?  Those 30 years I spend not wanting children, not even a little bit?  I knew what I was talking about.

How am I going to keep doing this?  When I don't like my job, and I can't fix it, and it's not going to get better, I leave.  And now I'm trapped in this godforsaken backwater with this time-sucking little beast.  And it is not going to get better.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Finish!

This is "Tempest in a Teacup."  He's a free pattern by Teresa Wentzler.  TW is known for thousands of colors, crazy fractional stitches and insane back stitching, but I LOVE the way her patterns turn out.  Of course, this is the first one of hers that I've managed to complete and I don't even want to talk about how long it took me...

But, it's done it's done itsdonedoneDONE!  Yay!  *insert happy snoopy dance here*