Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Ralph Lauren Perfume--Careful, it's haunted.

As I performed my daily scan of the free stuff list on craigslist, I came upon this listing. "Free Ralph Lauren Perfume--Careful, it's haunted." The posting read: Free bottle of Ralph Lauren perfume. It is haunted, though. You have been warned.

I kept that browser window up on my computer all day, unable to decide if I wanted to find out why it was haunted or if the mystery was half the fun. I thought about emailing it to several people. Unfortunately, before I could decide, the ad was flagged for removal. I mourned a bit. In any case, I love a creative ad extolling the virtues of an unwanted piece of garbage.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How's Ruth holding up?

On Monday at 5:42, Bracken walked in the front door holding the plant from his desk at work. He informed me that he had just been laid off. Work has been slower lately, and January is always especially desolate, but we had been reassured at the company Christmas party that the company was still healthy and they had lots of promising work coming up in the future. We had no idea this was coming. His severance was one more paycheck, and health coverage through the end of the month.

Bracken called into the office a couple days later to get copies of some reports he could use in applying for future jobs, and the employee he spoke to asked the question, "How is Ruth holding up?"

That's a question people ask, but don't want a real answer to. It's a question they ask to assuage their own guilt over not having whatever problem the other person is facing. They don't want a real answer. They just want a short, polite response, possibly grounded in truth, but hopefully full of burden lightening false optimism.

But I'm tired of pretending things are okay, and giving people answers that make them feel better. I stood for hours in the line at my mother's viewing, comforting other people. I don't want to give anymore trite answers about how I know things will all work out and how this may be a blessing in disguise. And I don't want anyone offering me any platitudes right now either.

So how am I holding up?

I haven't put on makeup since I got the news, because I will just cry it off.

I have to go to sleep with the TV on or a book in my hand because if my mind is left to itself, it runs circles around all the problems we are now facing. Needless to say, I haven't slept much.

I can't answer the phone, because I can't talk to anyone without bursting into tears.

I can't go out in public for the same reason, which is compounded by the fear that I might see someone who is somehow related to the company and I have no idea what I might say if one of them tried to be "kind."

My children are starting to reflect the strain in our home. Chloe repeatedly says to me, "Mom, I don't want a sad family, I want a happy family." Which causes me to burst into tears. I try to contain my big sobbing episodes to the shower so the girls don't have to see them, but the other day, she came in anyway and it turned into a whole other set of tears as Bracken tried to remove her from the bathroom.

When Bracken walked in the door with his news, I was juggling 2 kids with fevers, coughs and runny noses. Addie has a follow up for her ear infection next week, and I am not expecting good news.

I'm 4 months pregnant. My ultrasound is scheduled for next week. I can't figure out whether we should go to our appointments, and continue to pay towards our large deductible, or wait and apply it towards the next deductible of the new insurance that we will be paying totally out of pocket for, which we will not be able to afford because Bracken is unemployed. But I don't want Addie to lose her hearing because her ears go unchecked and I don't want to find out something is wrong with our baby because I didn't get the prenatal care I should. Less than a month of health insurance is hardly beneficial. Six months would have shown us some compassion, but compassion hardly seems to have a place in this scenario.

I'm 4 months pregnant. I'm not in a good position to find a job. Who wants to hire someone who will only be able to work for about 4 months, and then need maternity leave? And a place to pump after returning to work. Additionally, before I got pregnant, I was having some health problems that were never fully explained, but seemed to go away on their own. I am definitely afraid of returning to work only to find myself with ankles the size of tree trunks again.

I'm 4 months pregnant and having the hardest pregnancy to date emotionally. I have struggled with depression most of my life, and combined with the hormones and fatigue, it has been nearly impossible for me to keep up on my normal life this time around. This week I've hardly been able to function. As Bracken has doggedly searched job listings and sent out his resume, I've done little more than lay on the couch, watch TV and read books. I know I need to be doing more, and be more engaged with my children, but I can't seem to find the resources to do it. The only way I'm able to keep myself from completely disintegrating is by keeping my mind completely occupied with things that don't matter at all.

Part of the reason we liked Bracken's company was its dedication to the "culture" of its employee's. Apparently they don't want that culture to include single income families with babies on the way. I realize that it is unreasonable to expect employers to take personal situations into consideration when "restructuring," and I don't really want anyone else to be out of work, but I that doesn't stop me from resenting all those with 2 incomes, no children or major health considerations who still have jobs. And what about all those who weren't at the company's recognition conference with us less than a year ago?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Keep on scrolling

So there are 4 more new posts after this one today. I finally uploaded all our Disneyland pictures. Here are a few more from home.

Gilllian Xiotia Saldana entered the world the Wednesday before we left! We were so happy we got to meet Bracken's sister Eden's new little one before we left town. We haven't been able to see her again since because all us girls are sick with colds, again, but we sure think she's cute.

Addie has continued to eat. She would like to share her spaghetti with you.

What? You don't want any? That makes her mad.

One day while I was getting dressed, the girls were suspiciously quiet. I found them buried in all the throw pillows in the house which had mysteriously migrated to Chloe's room.

I don't have pictures, but I did do something amazing this week. I actually neatened, dusted and vacuumed my house. First time in months. I even got all the unpacking from our trip done within 2 days. Bracken was shocked when he came home from work that day.

And that's about it for us right now. Hopefully we'll be doing something fun again soon, if we can all get healthy.


Last day in Disneyland

Tuesday was the last day of our trip. We had passes to enter the park early, so we got to meet a few more characters. Again, Chloe was not obliging.

We rode the carousel again, as well as the Buzz Lightyear ride. To that point, it was our favorite ride we had never been on before. You get little guns and shoot at targets along the ride. Bracken was great at it. Chloe was good. Even Addie got a couple shots off. I sucked. I could not hit a thing. But it was still a ton of fun.
Then we headed up to wait for the Princess Faire. We had stood in line for a little while the day before, and decided to come back the next day. We probably spent about and hour in line Tuesday morning, but were sure it would be worth it once Chloe got to see the princesses. After all, she loves princesses.
And here's what happened. Addie got to meet Princess Aurora.

She also ran right up to Snow White.
And sat right on her lap.

Chloe did this.
Last in line was Cinderella, hands down Chloe's favorite princess. Addie had quite the conversation with her.
Chloe did not.

She just begged to get back on the rides. Truth be told, she's a girl after my own heart. I'd prefer to be riding the rides, too. Bracken, though, is quite sold on the project of collecting all the Disney character autographs. Maybe next time, Chloe will be more interested in actually saying hi. She just gets easily intimidated, and has always been much more shy than our gregarious little Addie is. Every time we would put Addie down in line, she would walk up to a group of people, tug on their legs, and lift her arms to be picked up.
And that's the end of our pictures. We went over to California Adventure and did several more rides, including the carousel over there. Our favorite ride of the trip, we almost passed by. I didn't realize there was a new Woody ride, and so Chloe and I decided to try it while Bracken waited with Addie. It was so fun! You wear 3-D glasses and shoot at carnival type games. We hopped off the ride and begged Bracken to come on with us. He reluctantly acquiesed, and at the end of the ride, declared it his favorite also. We then left the park and wearily climbed into our car for the drive home. We had a lot of fun, and I definitely don't want to wait another 4 years before we go back again. Chloe is already begging for a return trip.
My favorite conversation of the trip occured on the way home. Chloe and I had visited many handicapped bathroom stalls together throughout the trip, and many times I had to stop her from opening the door while I was still, um, occupied. We stopped at a gas station on the way home, and as she again moved for the latch, I said, "Chloe, don't touch the door!" Her reply, "Mom, I'm not touching it. I'm just looking at it and feeling it and smelling it." Really. Smelling it? "What does it smell like?" "Minty!"

Trip day 3 and Disneyland day 2

Sunday morning, I had a bit of an attitude problem. We planned to spend the day visiting friends, but when I checked the weather for the day, I saw that Sunday was going to be the only day with sun, and that there was more rain in the forecast for the next 2 days, which were to be our final 2 days in the park. I sulked for a little while, but got over it after a visit to the breakfast buffet. Yup, that's right. We attended the church of the breakfast buffet and the Australian Open that day. I did check on church times of various friend's wards, but none of them really worked with our schedule for the day and we decided to just spend the day taking it easy.

We had a great time visiting the Bautistas, Bunkers and Steeles, and would like to thank Valerie again for dinner and letting the girls destroy your house. Again, the offer stands for all of you to come visit. It was so nice to see everyone. We certainly miss you, though not enough to move back to the LA mess.

To my surprise, Monday morning dawned clear and sunny. It was still a bit brisk, but it was dry and we were so happy. We headed straight to Tomorrowland and rode the Nemo submarines. Both girls just loved it. Next we went to Autopia. Chloe loved it.

Addie, not so much. She was pretty tired at that point, and conked out shortly thereafter.

So she didn't get to say hi to Tinkerbell. Chloe almost didn't either since she refused to get out of the stroller, but Tinkerbell was very obliging. Chloe had earlier refused to meet Mary Poppins or Alice and the Mad Hatter. This pattern continued throughout the rest of the visit. Forgive the quality of all our character photos. There is a Disney photographer there also, and they compile all their photos of you, and you can view them online and purchase them, but I haven't even looked at them yet. And I probably can't afford to purchase them.
We, of course, rode the carousel again.

And then we met Captain Hook. Sorry, Josh, Chloe refused to say hi. Addie was willing, though. And we all laughed when after Hook saw that Tinkerbell had signed our autograph book, he threw it on the ground in disgust.
Before we entered the park that morning, we bought the girls ear hats. Biggest waste of money. Forget the image I had of my cute kids wearing cute hats as they excitedly climbed on all the rides. Chloe loved hers until she couldn't get her name embroidered in dark brown (?). Then she refused to wear it. Addie just wasn't interested. We did snap a couple quick photos of the 2 seconds they each wore their hats. And vowed not to waste anymore money on souveniers.

After lunch, I got a delicious caramel apple and the girls got more suckers. Addie again very much enjoyed hers.

Here's the family on the Jungle Cruise. They've added piranhas!

Could she be any cuter? We had a couple moments together while Dad and Chloe climbed the Tarzan treehouse. I pleaded my belly and begged off that one.
Addie got to meet Winnie the Pooh. She was so cute with him, patting his nose. Chloe refused to say hi.

Sometimes, I just think the tops of my kids heads are the cutest things, so I had to get a picture. They loved the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Chloe was willing to meet day-glo Tigger. Addie preferred to play with the props.

Chloe was also willing to meet Minnie Mouse. She even stood right next to her.

And both girls loved playing in her house. I'm not sure what I'm reading so intently, but it looks important.

Then we went to Mickey's house. Chloe was so excited to meet him, and we thought for sure we were going to get a great picture.
Nope. She chickened out at the last minute.

The girls in a Toon Town car.

Inside the cage of the Casey Junior Train. I've never been on it before.
After the train ride, it was time for Phantasmic. We really wanted Chloe to see it. Here's the background. Chloe has never seen fireworks. She talks about them all the time. We celebrated her birthday with family on the 4th of July, and headed down to the fireworks display that night. She fell asleep before we were off our street. The poor kid falls asleep everytime we try to see fireworks. In looking at the Disneyland schedule before we left, I was disappointed to see that there wouldn't be fireworks while we were there. But, there would be Phantasmic at 7:30 and there were fireworks in that, and I was sure she could stay awake until then.
At 7:25 we stopped to buy some popcorn since she'd been asking for some. At 7:27 when we offered her some of the newly purchased popcorn, she was out cold. There was no waking her up. Once again, no fireworks for Chloe. We watched a couple minutes of the show with Addie, then headed home. She was also asleep before we got there. It had been a really fun day. We went on lots of rides, many more than I've mentioned, and the girls had a really good time, I think. They slept well that night.

The Wedding

The main reason we headed down to LA was not to go to Disneyland. It was to attend the wedding of our friends Carolyn Peterson and David Smith. We were all in the singles ward together in Glendale. At one point, Bracken was the Elder's Quorum President, Carolyn was the Relief Society President, and David was the Ward Mission Leader, so they all spent a lot of time together. When we pulled up to the Manti temple on our wedding day, Carolyn and David were the first people we saw. They were not, however, a couple at that point. Thank goodness they finally figured out that they should be. We are so happy for the two of them.

On Saturday, Bracken was able to attend their sealing, while I refereed the girls outside. That Addie sure gave me a run for my money. How is it physically possible to be that busy? Chloe decided to fill the time with Amateur photography. She's brilliant, right?

Here's the happy couple exiting the temple. It had been raining all morning, which as we personally know is good luck, but it cleared up before they came outside.
We didn't take a lot of other pictures that day, but we had a great time. We attended their luncheon after the sealing, and got to visit with the both of them for a while. That evening, we attended their reception, and got to chat with a bunch of old friends. Here we are with Eva Solomon Wade, and the mom of another friend.
By that point, the girls were just done, and once again, we saw neither the cake cutting or the bouquet throwing. Oh well. It was a fun day*, and we were so glad we could be there to support our friends. Congratulations once again!
*Okay, so there was one negative. By the end of the day, I was so tired of answering the question, "So where does Addie get her red hair?" I could scream. I realize that Addie has incredibly, unusually red hair. Next to her hair, many redheads do not look like redheads anymore (i.e. my friend Missy's little boy Will). And I know my hair color is not as vibrant as it once was, and I don't want it to be as red as Addie's, but come on! I'm so paranoid now, I was actually relieved and surprised to see my hair looked red on TV and in our family pictures. And on that note, how can people think it's fair to only notice and compliment one of my children? They are both beautiful and I love them and I'm starting to worry about the psychologicial ramifications this is going to have on them. Aarggh!

Day 1 at Disneyland

We left for Disneyland about 7 pm on Thursday. The drive went really well. We stopped in Burbank, near our old apartment, to pick up some Krispy Kremes, and the kids stayed awake for the rest of the drive. We got to our hotel around 2, were pleasantly surprised since it wasn't the dive we'd expected, and settled in for the night. We woke up to rain. Not heavy rain, but constant rain. All week I'd been watching the forecast, hoping things would clear up. Not the case. Still, we bravely trekked the short distance to the park, armed with our umbrellas, and hoped for the best.

Obviously, the rain didn't dampen Chloe's spirits. This is the family about to board the Snow White ride, our first one.

Bracken and Addie on the carousel. We went back to the carousel every day. At the end of the trip, Chloe told us it was her favorite ride. Seriously? With all Disneyland has to offer?

Maybe it's because she was let down by not being able to pull the sword out of the stone.

To get out of the rain for a little while, and to fulfill a wish I've had every time we've gone to the park, we had lunch at the Blue Bayou after we rode Pirates. Addie was excited.
So was I.

Chloe, not so much. She had a bit of a meltdown as we entered the restaurant. Of course that meltdown had to occur in one of the less kid friendly places in the park. She pulled it together, though, and we had a tasty lunch. However, neither of my kids would touch the fancy mac'n'cheese we ordered. I guess it wasn't familiar.
After lunch we decided to head back to the hotel for a little while. The kids were obviously wiped out from their disrupted sleep from the night before. Addie still had enough fire in her to run wild as soon as we let her out of the stroller. Look at that grin. Also, check out the water line on my pants.

After changing into dry clothes, half of us took naps at the hotel. The pregnant lady and the overly tired 3 year old were not so lucky. It wasn't until we announced that we were going back to the park that Chloe decided she was ready to take a nap. She laid down for 2 minutes, then got up and announced she was done. Thankfully, while we were resting, the rain had stopped for a while. We headed to California Adventure and rode Heimlich's Chew Chew train, and other rides in Bug's Land. Chloe looks like she's going to Chew Chew Dad.

I'm not sure what to say about this picture other than we all look a little "touched."

Then, after recharging with free bread and tortillas (Seriously, they give out free bread and tortillas. Yay for Disney giving away something for free.), we watched the Pixar parade. The girls loved it, though my pictures all look a little funky.

It was only 6 when the parade ended, so we headed back to Disneyland. Try as we might, we could not convince Chloe to go on any other rides. Since there are signs posted at the entrance discouraging parents from forcing their children to go on rides they don't want to, we decided to call it quits for the night. We did get the girls lollipops for the ride home.

Addie, in her typical style, thoroughly enjoyed hers.