Ha ha, not THAT kind of moving, believe me.  The blog is changing addresses.  Someday we’ll customize the style of the blog and add new family related things on the new domain: thedipaolos.com.  Thanks to all 5 or so of you for bearing with us.

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As we flipped the calendar to 2008 we looked forward to a fun year – Elise’s 1st birthday party, family trip to Disney World, girls going to meet Joaquin in SLC…all in the first part of the year. Instead the highlights have been:

Jan 1 (day after flexible spending due) – someone puts a pin in the Chris voodoo doll (herniated disc)

Jan 27 – Elise’s 1st birthday party (ok, it hasn’t all been bad)

Jan 28 – Elise gets sick and basically doesn’t eat anything for a good part of the week – she’s pretty much her old self again but she gets tired and hungry quickly because she’s still trying to catch up on calories.

Jan 31 – As Elise is just starting to be able to at least be able to drink gatorade, Joelle gets sick

OK, we can look forward to February – Disney! Uh, hold on there…

Feb 2 – Petie is next in line and gets sick after feeling under the weather most of the week.

Guess who’s next?

It has been really, really sad to see my girls not just “sick” but SICK. One by one they have been picked off and the life just taken out of them. I think Petie would agree (although right this second she might not) that the worst moment was when we took Elise to the doctor on Thursday. We had her 1 year appointment scheduled but used it as a “sick visit” because she basically hadn’t kept anything down in almost 3 days. The doctor asked if she was showing normal emotions (like smiling) but was just lethargic. We realized that we couldn’t really remember the last time she had truly smiled.

Which reminds me, the next time we saw her smile might have been later that night when Joelle was around, now sick. It was ironic because when Joelle would go up to Elise when Elise was sick, Elise would kind of swipe at her. When Joelle was in her zombie-sick state Elise would go up to Joelle and grin as if to say “see, how do you like someone smiling at you?” Joelle for her part showed great restraint and did her best to deliver a fake-perky “Hi Elise”.

For those of you who didn’t know (odds are slim for our limited audience), I sat for the CFA Level 1 Exam this past Saturday. For some reason the CFA Institute calls it “writing” the exam. Every time I see that I think I have mistakenly stumbled upon some instruction manual for coming up with exam questions. The CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst and there are three tests covering Finance, Economics, Statistics, etc. and a number of years of work experience required to become a “CFA charterholder”. The three tests are Level I, Level II and Level III (so…logical…and note that if it is in roman numerals it is automatically harder to pass).

Why the CFA? Since I have a background in Finance and don’t have a job where I USE Finance all the time I seem to like to go back and study it (see MBA 2001-2003). I really do enjoy the subject material, it’s a resume builder, it’s relevant to some of my job reponsibilties and, well, my company will pay for it. I had always wanted to do the CFA or CFP program, but didn’t have the impetus to do so until this year. Omar, another analyst at my company mentioned that he was taking the December test and I figured that now was as good of a time as any since I could knock out Level I before the new baby is to come.

The deadline was September 15th to sign up and I only had a few days to decide. Sure you’re supposed to take 6 months to study for it, but I have an MBA in Finance and a degree in Economics so how hard can it be? (Very hard) And Omar hadn’t started studying, so surely I must have plenty of time? (Wrong) And I could disregard the passing rate of 35-40% because that probably factors in all the people who sign up and end up not taking it? (Wrong it only counts people who show up and take the test).

So after studying for three months just about non-stop I took it this last Saturday. It was difficult (as were all the practice tests, so I wasn’t surprised). Hard to say if I passed – I’ll find out in mid-January. Some thoughts from taking the test.

  • –The security was pretty impressive. I had to show my ticket and ID once to get into the building, once to get into the hallway, and once to be assigned a seat in the testing room.
  • –Everyone gets the same test and it starts with 18 ethics questions, then 12 quant questions, etc. It was funny to me to start the test and hear the pecking of calculators – I guess some people wanted to skip the ethics questions? Or were they already calculating how many more they could miss after missing some ethics questions?
  • –One girl brought in a batch of 10 pencils in a rubber band. If you can break the lead of more than a couple of pencils while filling in 240 ovals you’ve got bigger problems.
  • –They tell you to get there an hour in advance as they will close the doors at that time. I guess “that time” means 10 minutes until the test starts because most of us were sitting there for 45 minutes – you could tell that the people who failed it in June and were taking it again knew better and showed up later.
  • –The test is 6 hours total – 9-12 and 2-5. It would have been funny to watch as an outsider. At noon people converged on the snack bar to wolf down a sandwich, commiserate about some of the difficult questions and retreat to their cars to go get some more cramming in. “Halftime”, I called it

A storm rolled in around 8:30 last night. For our neighbors, who have lived here 8 years, that now means: “time to crank down the a/c.” I guess that should indicate to us that we should expect some power outages. Had my mom not mentioned a thunder storm warning when I was on the phone with her, I wouldn’t have even known that storms were in the area!

Lights go out at 8:56. A wail of complaint from Joelle’s room coincides with the darkness. Hm, I guess she’s not asleep. Chris and I stare at our laptops, battery operated, with an eerie glow and no internet connection. I go hunt around for a flashlight. Three out of six are operating. Good thing we have that gas lamp and no kerosene! I take the little one to Joelle. She’s now jumping with delight at the turn of events. It’s disco time in Jojo’s room.

Chris and I sigh and decide to go to bed before it gets too hot. Easier said then done. Our house didn’t actually get that hot. The thermostat was at 78 in the morning, where we always keep it, but the ceiling fans contribute more than I realized. Joelle wakes up at 3 am: “I’m all sweaty.” 4 am: “my diaper is loose.” 5 am: ?. Chris: “I’m just getting ready for work.” Yes, the electricity is still out. He has to remove the garage door from its track to get out. It’s 6 when he leaves and the lights will come on in 30 minutes.

The electricity comes on and the electric company calls to make sure. Yes, waking me up again. Twice, actually, once when the electricity is back and the CO dectector beeps and second with their phone call. Only silver lining to be woken up again? They told me the time as a courtesy. At this point, I was in such a fog, I had no idea what time it was AND I woke up enough to get up to crank down the ac.

On the way out of the garage, to Joelle’s first day of school, my antenna gets stuck on the unattached garage door and slams the door down on my car. The antennae is now bent and won’t go down and my car was hit on top by the door. The odds of that happening are so low. I ALWAYS have a madonna or shakira CD on for Joelle and Joelle is in my car 99% of the time. I just happened to have left Joelle at Nana’s the last time I drove!

This morning, the first thing I said to Chris was, “wow, that was just one night with no electricity. We’re definitely evacuating the next time a hurricane blows through. I can’t imagine going more than that without electricty.”

I used to be able to navigate suburban neighborhoods more easily than downtown Houston. Even more bizarre, I could name each model house in our neighborhood: Payson, Florence, Mesa, etc.

It’s as if I had a chip in my brain that has now been switched off. In driving through Sugarland on Saturday night, I got lost. I almost panicked. Each street seemed to be taking me in an infinite loop. My once keen sense of each unique house is gone. Each house looked like an identical clone to me. I had to backtrack and almost go back to where I started to figure out how to get out! I’m embarrassed to say that this isn’t the first time. I also got lost in Katy about a month ago. A friend was following me out and I had to pull over to confess to her that I was hopelessly lost.

What happened? Is it my mind making a mental statement of how I ultimately ended up feeling about suburban life? Have I just gotten too used to the lovely grid structure and repeating streets of older Houston neighborhoods? I think I’m perhaps getting too attached to my beloved 5 mile radius… I guess we won’t be joining the Amazing Race. That was my talent – always finding my way.

There’s just this thing in life where you don’t appreciate your health until it’s gone. I’m fully aware that you can be a lot sicker than I was and that you can have zero help (I had Nana watch Joelle, my dad bringing me food and water and Chris handling the meds – yes, I’m very lucky!!)

Still, it sucks to be sick. I woke up at 4 in the morning with the cursed stomach bug. A friendly enough name for what I think is one of the worst ways to be sick! Thankfully, I called Chris at work to ask him to call my ob. I was worried about the baby getting dehydrated. I thought we’d get the same ‘ole, drink plenty of fluids, etc. Instead, a prescription was called in to make the nausea go away. Unfortunately, I had a violent reaction to that first one. So, Chris trudged back to the pharmacy for a go on a second prescription called in by the doctor. Turns out, this one, Zofran, is used for chemo patients to stop their nausea. Very cool stuff. It worked! I was able to eat and drink again. (Just water and broth, but what a luxury!) Without insurance, this drug cost $300 dollars for 10 pills. (at Sam’s)

Before Joelle was carted off to Nana’s, she brought me a few toys and informed me that I was interrupting her play when I had to be sick. She was also very concerned that I not “cough” in front of daddy, ’cause that would get daddy sick.

I look out the window, perched in my usual blue chair where I work. I notice a white cadillac kind of drive over the curb getting into a neighbor’s driveway. She gets out, walks to the house. The whole time I’m thinking, huh, she seems a little older to be visiting that neigbhor. After standing at the door a long time, she gets back in her car and goes to the driveway of the next house over. I think she went to the wrong house! hehe. I’ve actually done that myself, but it’s funny to imagine someone having watched me do it! 🙂

Apparently, Nottingham West has had a crime surge (they are separated by Kirkwood from our neighborhood, luckily). If every neighbor could witness as much as we do sitting in our dueling blue chairs at night, I bet a lot of crime could be averted! Then again, we saw our blow up Christmas Tree get slashed, but didn’t exactly deter that from happening. We still comb the neighborhood streets for that black jeep… beware.

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