Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

I'm a better mama for all you taught me. Have a wonderful day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008 – Lessons Learned

I had a great few days off and really enjoyed all four of our Christmas celebrations. After a couple of stressful years traveling with a baby, things are definitely easier now.

I learned a few things that I want to remember for next year:
  • Don’t make so many cookies – one batch of gingerbread is enough. No one eats the fudge or thumbprints anyway.
  • Make sure there’s enough flour in the gingerbread (it was flat and undercooked and I didn't know why – Mom said "use more flour").
  • Scrambled eggs, cranberry scones, ham and fruit salad is a perfect, fairly easy Christmas morning breakfast.
  • Take a day off to decorate (I did that and wouldn’t have been able to decorate otherwise).
  • Take the entire week before Christmas off (I didn't do this and about drove myself – or rather, drove my spouse – crazy trying to get everything done).
  • Leaving for a trip at nap time works great – Lauren slept almost the whole way there and half the way back.
  • Buy Lauren fewer presents. She would’ve been just as happy with 2 or 3 presents to open, instead of the 15 or 20 I had for her (including stocking stuffers) – she just wanted to play with whatever she opened, she didn’t want to put it aside and open something else.
  • Spend more money on my brothers – Marc gave Bret a $50 gift card, gave me a sweatshirt with a tag that said $49.99 (don’t know if it was on sale or not, but probably not) and gave Lauren I can’t remember what but I’m sure he spent at least $20 or $30. I gave him a blanket I got on sale for $15 and a $25 gift card. Oops.

All in all, a very nice few days.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Ramblings

We have been battling stupid little illnesses over and over. Seems like as soon as Lauren gets over a cold she gets another one – and I'm getting everything she gets, including a stomach virus on Thanksgiving night that sought every possible way to exit my body, helping me lose 8 pounds in less than 24 hours (which is more than I lost in a year going to Weight Watchers). Seriously, I think that was as sick as I've ever been as an adult, but luckily it was over in a couple of days. Unfortunately, one of those days was Lauren’s birthday, so that sucked. Now I have bronchitis but just got some drugs so should be feeling better soon.

We tried 3 different weekends to go to my mom’s in November but never could because one or all of us was sick. I'm looking forward to spending a few days at Christmas with my extended family, especially my nephews. I talked to Caleb on the phone the other day (he's 2-1/2) and he said, "Aunt Kiss, I go pee-pee on the potty!" He also confessed, “I bite Katie” but I know that kid and I’m sure she deserved it.

Christmastime with a 2-year-old has been really fun . Lauren says "BYE!" to the Christmas tree every night on her way up to bed, and loves to drive around looking at lights. She is not, however, a big fan of Santa, and completely freaked out when we talked about him coming in our house to bring her presents while we're all sleeping (she saw him at the YMCA after swimming one day and ran), so we're kind of downplaying that for now.

I have just a couple of little gifts to buy yet, all my baking to do, a bit of wrapping, some cleaning and then tons of laundry and packing for when we head out of town. I know they say the smart thing to do is to eliminate those holiday chores you don’t really like to do, in order to enjoy the season more and keep your sanity, but there’s nothing I really don’t like to do. I like sending Christmas cards (finished that last weekend, see photo above), I like buying presents (but not the actual shopping, so I am the queen of Internet purchases, plus one big trip to Kohl’s). I like baking, although maybe not as much as I used to because it’s hard for me to find a big chunk of time, so I reduced the number things I make and stick to my signature giant ginger cookies and fudge. I haven’t actually started baking yet, despite my great plans to whip up the dough a couple of weeks ago and freeze it, but I’ll do that this weekend. I love to wrap presents, something I guess I got from my mom. She always does such a nice job with that. She buys beautiful high-end paper and bows (at 75% off the day after Christmas, which we always do together with my sister-in-law and between the three of us pretty much clean out the local Hallmark store) and puts thought into what wrapping paper she uses for who. Anyway, I’ve been wrapping four or five presents in the mornings before work and still have a few to go.

It would be nice to have more time to do these things, but I don’t feel that I’m stressing out about stuff. But I must be, because my hurry, hurry attitude caused a big fight at home last weekend. I know I can get everything done, but it requires me to keep moving, on to the next thing, fast, fast, fast. Maybe that’s the attitude I’m supposed to get rid of during the holidays. But it’s no different than how I operate during the rest of the year, so I can’t possibly turn it off when there are even more things to do. It is the way of the working mom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Me Likey

I have nothing interesting to write about. More illnesses at home, work crap, blah, blah, blah. So I thought I would instead share some eye candy with you:

I'm a little late to the "Mad Men" party, but thanks to Netflix I'm almost finished with season 1. All you ad people out there should check it out -- so fun to watch the bad boys of Madison Avenue in action, circa 1960. Makes working in advertising now look positively boring. And then, of course, there's Mr. Hamm. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Tired. First, my kid couldn't keep anything down for 48 hours. Not even water. Now that we're over that (and a false ear infection, and an unexplained rash, two visits to the doctor and three phone calls to the nurse), she won't poop. Operation Suppository failed so now we're on to Operation Laxative.

I just want her (and all of us) to be healthy for Thanksgiving, her birthday, and traveling to my mom's (we've tried to go the last two weeks and couldn't because one or all of us was sick).

No one tells you before you become a parent how much time you will spend thinking about poop.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I was in Chicago for a few days last week for a conference and tacked on some time for visiting with Kristin, my matron of honor (or as we said at the time "old bag of honor" because, really, isn't that what "matron" means?). I stayed at the Allerton Hotel, which was built in the '20s. It was renovated earlier this year and has lovely rooms. Other people at the conference complained that their rooms were very, very small, but they had 23rd-floor views of Michigan Avenue. My room, on the other hand, was about standard hotel size, but I was on the 4th floor, so my view was of the hotel's HVAC system and two sides of the building. Let's just say I left the curtains closed the whole time.

You might recognize the neon sign on the hotel, which you can see better in the picture below. Tip - Top - Tap was the name of the bar at the top of the hotel back in the day (the space is now occupied by a fitness center, and no, I didn't see it). It means there's a tap at the tip-top of the building. Clever, those flappers and gangsters and whoever.

Anyway, I made a pilgrimage to the Flagship Cathedral of the St. Holy Crate & Barrel and spent a good hour wandering all four stories -- and came out of there with a gravy boat and a towel. I guess I just don't need another serving plate or cheese grater.

It was nice to be away from my usual routine of work and heating up frozen pizza, but I had a hard time relaxing. I don't know what to do with myself without a job to go to or a house to tend to or people in that house who need me. I was too worried about what was going on at home, if Lauren was giving Bret a hard time, if she was sleeping (it's one thing to trade off with your partner when the kid won't sleep; it's another thing to have to handle it by yourself all night). They did just fine, and she's definitely daddy's girl now that she spent so much time with him. I also found it hard to relax because I'm so used to doing something all the time -- laundry, getting dinner ready, playing with Lauren, packing her lunch, reading the mail -- that to have NOTHING to do between 4:30 pm and 7:30 the next morning felt very strange. I thought I'd sleep the sleep of the dead without the baby monitor buzzing and a bed all to myself, but I didn't. I guess I like my crazy life more than I realized. And it was awfully nice to come home to these two:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Hope She's Right

What Lauren thinks of McCain's chances of winning today:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dressing Up

Yes, I went as Pat for Halloween. I have no idea what made me think of it, but that's what I did. It was actually really easy to pull off (which is kind of scary). I bought a wig and glasses, darkened my eyebrows with black eyeliner and wore no other makeup. I wore a pair of my own khakis and found an old denim shirt of Bret's, along with a black belt and some black oxfords I bought for Halloween a few years ago (we went as The Blues Brothers), and there you go.
Everyone at the party knew who I was right away and cracked up. So, it had the desired effect. I guess I am more into getting the laugh than taking the opportunity to dress uber-slutty like the trend seems to be right now for Halloween (there was a middle-aged woman dressed as a Playboy bunny and another as a pirate-wench with serious cleavage at this party).
Anyway, I had a good time and it was worth it, even if there are now pictures of me with my shirt tucked into my pants. Eesh.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

Okay, enough kid stuff for a while. On to the really important things. Like my hair.

I got it cut and colored last night and it probably wasn't the best idea to make a big change during PMS week. The color is good -- I usually get highlights all spring/summer, so by fall, I'm looking pretty washed out and am tired of keeping up with the roots, so I go back to brown. This time I went a couple of shades darker than my natural color and I like it a lot.

The cut, however? Well, it's cute, it's just not all that cute on me. I didn't think the long, blond hair was doing anything for me, but at least it was covering up more of my face. I look like a pumpkin wearing a short, brown wig (if pumpkins were not orange so much as pinky-Caucasian colored, and had not only wide faces but also double chins).

Oh, well. It'll grow back. It always does. I've done these dramatic hair changes at least once a year since high school. Funny how it never used to scare me like it does now. I think I almost went for the cut this time to prove to myself that I could still do it. Like riding a roller coaster as an adult when you really don't want to. I told my stylist I'm terrified of becoming one of those women on "What Not To Wear" who keeps the same hairstyle for 10 years. I don't want to get set in my ways. I think that ages a person faster than just about anything.

And speaking of aging a person, while I was getting my cut and enjoying a song playing in the salon (can't remember what it was right now), my stylist (who I adore, by the way; very nice girl) said, "Uh, I'm so tired of this awful 80s music." Them's fightin' words, so I said, "Watch it sister!" To which she said, "Oh, I'm a child of the 80s -- I was BORN in the 80s." Ugh. Just keep cuttin', Barbie.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Expectations

Operation Paci Removal went off perfectly. Friday evening Lauren willingly put all her mimis, one by one, into an envelope to "send to the babies who need them." Then she opened her "big girl present" and really liked it (yea! I picked the right thing!) and has been sleeping with it ever since. She went to sleep fine that night (and for her weekend naps) and she didn't wake up crying for the pacis. She never once whined about not having them, and when she asks about them, she answers her own question. The conversation goes like this:

Lauren: Mimis? Babies!
Me: That's right -- that was so nice of you to give your mimis to the babies who needed them.
Lauren: Mm hm!

She's pretty proud of herself and I think that's great. I guess she wasn't as addicted as I thought. Or else I was able to tap into her compassionate nature and she was happy to do something nice for babies. Don't know, but, whatever it was, I'm still shocked.

She also shocked me Sunday because we visited a new church and she willingly went to the nursery without crying. I guess overall I need to have higher expectations of her from now on!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Take On Me Redux

A shout out to Tela for this one!

You already know I'm an 80s music freak -- I'm not too proud to say I loved this song/video back in the day (give me a break -- I was 16) and this very literal re-do Cracks. Me. Up. Turn up your sound and enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Adventures in Parenthood, Vol. 437

I am terrified of this weekend. We're taking away the pacifiers. Lauren has used them only during naps and at night for several months now, but Dr. Betsy (fantastic pediatric dentist, except that she referred to Lauren's birth mother as "mommy" -- uh, no, that's me) said it's time for them to go. In fact, it was time for them to go a couple of months ago. It's not what they do to the teeth so much (they are baby teeth, after all) as the mouth. And I can already see what she's talking about -- the narrowing of Lauren's upper jaw. She's starting to look a little buck-toothed. So, I really don't want to make her give them up, but it's time for the "mimis" to go (her word, not mine; I think she just couldn't say paci and somehow it came out mimi -- who knows).

There are lots of ways to do this -- some people say to cut the end of the pacifier off and then the kid will give it up on her own because it won't feel the same. Some people say to pretend like they're lost, but like Bret said last night, I feel like I owe her honesty even at this stage. Or at least, our version of honesty. Because we've decided to go the give-your-pacis-to-the-babies-who-need-them route. We'll see how this goes, but I think how it'll work is we'll have a box or an envelope that we'll help Lauren put all the pacis in and tell her we're going to send them to the babies because she's a big girl now. And because she's a big girl, she can take her new toy to bed instead of her pacis (a $22 stuffed cat I bought in the hospital gift shop -- I'm not even sure if she'll like it but I didn't know what to get). She's not old enough to tell me a toy that she wants the paci fairy to bring her the next morning in exchange for forking over the pacis, so I really can't do that. And I refuse to put hot sauce on them, as someone suggested (honestly, she probably wouldn't mind all that much -- the kid loves salsa).

I am fully anticipating a sleepless weekend for everyone at my house. Although we managed to wean her off full-time paci use fairly easily, Lauren is a serious nighttime user, and having her give up her plastic and silicone fix is going to be rough. She not only keeps one in her mouth all night long, she also keeps one clenched in her little chubby fist like an NRA member clutching his sidearm.

I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I read this today and it so perfectly captured my thoughts about the VP debate (in a far more coherent and reasonable way than I could've written), that I wanted to share the link with you.

I watched the first hour of the debate and decided I'd had enough. I told Bret, "I'm going to bed now because every time Palin speaks, I'm losing IQ points."

I was floored Friday morning when I heard on the news and read in the paper how "good" she did -- uh, were we all watching the same debate? She was merely vomiting the material that had been crammed down her throat in preparation for the "debate!" Sheesh!

Okay, never mind. Just read Alice's post.

Friday, September 26, 2008


At this very moment 11 years ago I was at my wedding rehearsal dinner (a cookout on my parents’ deck, exactly what I’d requested), enjoying great food, cheap beer, and the company of family and friends from as far away as California. Everything about the week leading up to the wedding was just like that – food, family, friends, laughing. The wedding day itself was, too, although it went too fast and I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I wanted to for nearly long enough.

So, here we are, 11 years later. How do you sum up 11 years? Bret and I have:
  • Lived in 4 houses (2 rented, 2 owned)
  • Driven 8 cars (7 owned, 1 leased; 4 used, 4 new; 1 totaled)
  • Visited the four “corners” of the continental U.S. (Seattle, San Diego, Bar Harbor, Key West)
  • Attended the funerals of two grandparents, the weddings of several friends and siblings, and WAY too many graduations
  • Raised a crazy German shepherd for nearly 11 years and cried buckets of tears when he was gone
  • Fought and won a 6-year battle to become parents

It seems like a lifetime. It seems like a week.

Ellen Goodman says this about marriage: "We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness."

I, for one, am grateful for all the forgiveness that has been shown to me. Thank you, dear husband, for these 11 years.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Midwest Hurricane

The tail end of hurricane Ike moved through these parts on Sunday and no one was prepared for it. The wind was unbelievable -- 55 mph sustained winds with gusts around 74 mph -- truly hurricane-force, and it lasted from about 10 in the morning until 6 p.m. The weird thing is that the sky was blue and the sun was out the whole time. As I was still not feeling well, I was on the couch most of the morning and early afternoon, watching the trees in the backyard double over on themselves. One giant limb came down, and by the time it was all over, our backyard looked like a bomb had hit it. We'll have to have some trees removed and it's going to take a while to clean everything up. (I would love to post some pictures but our computer is dead and the new one is en route from the fine folks at Dell, so can't do any downloading for a while).

The house is fine; we just lost a few shingles (I was actually hoping the whole roof would blow off; I'd really like a new roof with shake-style, dark brown shingles, as opposed to the orange -- yes, orange -- shingles that are on there now). The power was out from around 3 p.m. Sunday until exactly 12:39 a.m. last night. I know this because I was sleeping on the couch to avoid waking everyone up with my coughing (bronchitis confirmed; got some meds; should be better soon) and the power kicks on and the answering machine starts talking very loudly: "TO SET THE TIME AND DATE, PRESS MENU," which just about made me fall off the couch.

Anyway, we survived just fine, despite losing nearly everything from our fridge and freezer, not being able to find ice anywhere to keep the few things we saved cold for very long, and not being able to find an open gas station that didn't have a line of 100 cars waiting. The weather cooled off considerably from Sunday's 91 degrees, and so reading in bed by candlelight while listening to the crickets through the open windows was actually kind of nice. I realized how less stressed out I was without the TV on all evening, even though I think I'm "relaxing" when I watch it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bite Me

Lauren got bit at school yesterday. I know it's really common for kids to bite at that age (my youngest brother regularly chomped on my other brother for a good year or so when they were 2 and 3), but this was completely unprovoked and not the first time this kid bit someone at school. They won't, of course, tell us who it is, but I’m referring to him as Marv Albert for reasons that will become clear in a moment. Lauren was sitting at the table eating her snack and he (let’s assume it's a boy) grabbed her by the arm, threw her down on the floor and bit her on the back. Since it was through her shirt it didn't break the skin but was still pretty bad. You can still see it today. The school said he's in the "final stages" of being dealt with for this so we know it's happened before, but it sounds like they won't kick him out unless it happens again. So, perhaps I have yet another phone call from the director to look forward to, telling me that my child’s been snacked on again by Marv. And if not me, some other parent’s going to get that call.

I just want to know what the policy/procedure is, what have they done so far and what are they doing to prevent it from happening again. And if it does happen again, what happens to the biter? Does he get thrown out of school? I know they can’t possibly kick every kid who bites out of school – at this age, you’d have to kick out half the class. They all do it eventually. Who knows? My kid could easily be the biter next time instead of the bitee. So maybe that’s why I’m not as upset about it as others might be. I see it as one of those things that happens – a lot – and certainly won’t be the last bad thing that happens to her at school or somewhere else when we’re not around. On the other hand, she must’ve been terrified when it happened, and I wasn’t there to make her feel better. And that is upsetting.

In a larger sense, though, I think this is about my parenting philosophy in general. And it’s at least partially a gender thing – if she were a boy, I’d probably be more freaked out (“oh, my poor little man!”). As her mom, I see it as my responsibility to teach her to be a strong woman. The world is a bad, scary, unpredictable place and she might as well learn sooner rather than later that a) shit’s going to happen, and, b) how to deal with it. I am not about coddling and sheltering. Protecting, yes, that’s my job as a parent, and why I want some answers about this biting thing. After all, I’m not going to keep sending her someplace where she’s going to get ambushed by the Marvs of the world. But in a larger sense, I think I do her a bigger disservice by sheltering her (in this case, pulling her out of school after one such incident). I want her to strike out on her own someday as a confident, capable person, not be living in my house when she’s 30 (actually, I might need her to help me to the bathroom by then, so maybe I do want her living at home when she’s 30). Regardless, I know this is another one of those things that I will look back on when she’s a teenager and laugh about how it was no big deal. It’s all about perspective, no?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I have nothing to say about Sarah Palin, except I know who will play her in the Lifetime movie.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Quick Update

  • The bug guy is coming over on Saturday to put those little bait thingies around the house. We'll see how long it takes to work. If it works.
  • Had a fantastic weekend with my brother, sister in law and nephews, despite Lauren being sick (two and a half months in daycare, third illness, in case you're counting).
  • Speaking of Lauren, she is now, in my mind, officially two. To wit: she threw a 25-minute tantrum this morning because I dared to change her diaper. Oh, adolescence, you can't come soon enough.
  • My latest escape is this blog ( and her first book.
  • My Buckeyes continue to dominate northeastern Ohio. O-H-I-O!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No More Trips to IKEA

Because I'll now be spending my money on getting rid of this guy, and all his little friends:

Yep, we have termites.

Friday, August 15, 2008

“Design Star” Here I Come

I had the day off yesterday to get 4 doc appointments over with, all routine checkups (everything’s fine and I remain The World’s Healthiest Fat Woman – I mean, seriously, no one at my weight and age should have such perfect blood pressure, cholesterol, EKG, etc.). Anyway, in between appointments I ran to Ikea to continue the Great Family Room Makeover of 2008. So far this has included:

Having the slab jacked (yes, that’s really what it’s called; Google it if you don’t believe me)

Painting the walls “Golden Straw,” a fantastic warm color that looks like the outside of a butternut squash. This took me a day and a half, not including the hours and hours of patching work that Bret did – which looks perfect now with the paint on it (which is to say, you can’t see the patches at all…just nice, smooth walls).

Removing the hideous vertical blinds.

Removing the hideous brown wood spindles that “separated” the kitchen from the family room (can you tell my house was built in the 70s?).

Re-texturing the ceiling after the spindles were removed.

New carpet is coming on Thursday – yea!!! What’s in there now is pretty gross and I’m happy to see it go. Anyway, I had a successful shopping trip at Ikea yesterday and bought two end tables in white, curtains and the cover to this ottoman, in black (I have to go back for the ottoman itself because I grabbed the wrong box on my way to the checkout and didn’t have time to go back – honestly, who can tell with all those brown, cardboard boxes). I think this will all go nicely with my green couch and pillows I bought last week (see previous post).

I have really enjoyed taking on this decorating project. First of all because I still feel, after nearly 4 years, that I’m living in someone else’s house. I've done so little redecorating because I was burned out on “fixing up” when we moved in from working so hard on our old house. I was also pretty depressed at that time (infertility, adoption process, blah, blah, blah) and just didn’t feel like doing anything. And then Lauren arrived and there was no time, and definitely no energy. Now that she’s older and easier to care for and we’re sleeping more than 4 hours a night, we are able to tackle some house things. Finally, my 6,000 hours of watching HGTV are going to pay off.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Soule Mama? How About Tired Mama?

I read a book this week called The Creative Family by Amanda Soule, which was recommended on Tara Whitney’s site a while back. The book sounded innocent enough:

“When you learn to awaken your family's creativity, wonderful things will happen: you'll make meaningful connections with your children in large and small ways; your children will more often engage in their own creative discoveries; and your family will embrace new ways to relax, play, and grow together. With just the simple tools around you — your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials — you can transform your family life, and have so much more fun!”

Problem is, Amanda's idea of “relaxing, playing and growing together” includes things that make me equal parts envious and horrified. She doesn’t just knit (EVERYTHING), she makes her own knitting needles. She doesn’t just sew (all her kids’ clothes), she makes pants for her kids out of her husband’s old shirts. She makes “fairy houses” in the woods. She also crochets, gardens, cooks from scratch, turns her children’s drawings into embroidery projects, has a seasonal altar-like space where her kids put their finds from outside, makes all her own holiday gifts and created a “banging wall” in the backyard (discarded pots and pans strung between fallen trees for the kids to bang on). And she does all of this with her kids – two boys and a girl (and one on the way), ages 5, 3 and 1. AND she homeschools – or as she calls it, “unschools.”

Now. Far be it from me to come down on someone for having this idyllic life in Portland, Maine. I think it’s great that she’s so connected to the world around her and her kids. Her book doesn’t have a holier-than-thou attitude, as if we all should be living her life. But it got to me anyway and I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday after thinking about how I spend my time and how much of my days I actually enjoy (maybe 10%?). How the pace of my life is not what I want at all and how I’d prefer the more contemplative, meaningful existence she has.

I could never replicate even half of what she does, nor do I really want to – I don’t sew, I barely cook, I used to cross-stitch but that’s about the extent of my handicraft skills. I could, however, do a better job of spending time outside. I could do more meaningful activities with Lauren besides going to Target every weekend. I could turn the TV off and write. And if I can't make my own stuff, I could at least buy handmade, instead of mass-produced all the time (and I did that today at, a site of all handmade goodies from housewares to clothes to jewelry, which I highly recommend). Check out these pillows I bought. And then go make yourself some fairy houses.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

40 is the new...40

I just looked at the calendar and realized that 40 is exactly 6 months away. I can remember as a kid being excited about getting past July 9 each year because it meant I was closer to my next age than my current one, and like most kids, I liked the thought of becoming another year older.

I can't say I feel terribly depressed about 40, it's just weird. Weird because, hello, last time I checked I was waiting the requisite three days to wash my hair after a perm, buying Outback Red sweaters with my babysitting money and putting my tape recorder next to the radio so I could record "Life in a Northern Town" the next time it came on.

Also, weird because I helped throw my mom's 40th birthday party, in between studying for finals my freshman year of college. I can't see Lauren taking charge of that for me, but honey, if you're reading this, mommy really likes her some dirty martinis, so stock up on the vodka and olives.

Also, when the fact that my next birthday is a "big" one came up at work, my boss's assistant politely said, "30?" Uh, no. Then she said she never would've guessed I was 39. I don't think she was shocked because I look so much younger than that, but because I act far too immature to be 39.

Oh, and I took Blobby's Virtual Age test...turns out I'm actually 44.2.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Month, New Look

I've been getting tired of my blog template, so decided to finally change it. Not completely in love with this one, either, but it's better. I am a green freak, and this one certainly has plenty of green in it.

Countdown to the big Fourth of July weekend. I miss the days when that meant stewing in my grandparents' pool all day. This year it will mean stewing in my kichen whilst cleaning and cooking for the in-laws. Maybe we'll get the kiddie pool out for old time's sake.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Got My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind

We made $652 (or is it $657--now I can't remember). Sold about half of the baby clothes, all the big items (Exersaucer, Jumparoo, chain saw, grill and even the lawn mower went -- thanks to Bret's "FREE!" sign because it didn't work), and lots of crafting stuff. Everything that's left over will go to Goodwill or be sold on eBay. I took pictures of all the eBay-able stuff and frantically listed things all weekend. Hopefully it'll sell -- I just want it out of my house! We're in negotiations about what to do with our cash...I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Everything Must Go!

The big excitement at our house is this weekend's garage sale. All 54 households on our street were invited to participate. I don't know how many people are joining in the fun, but judging from all the people sweeping out their garages last weekend, I'm guessing quite a few.

Garage sales were a major part of my childhood. Not so much going to them, but working at my parents' huge sale every year. They were big auction-goers and would clean up, fix and sell whatever they didn't want to keep. I got to clean out my closet and my room every year and sell whatever I wanted -- and keep the money for myself (my mother's way of getting me to thin out the toys, etc.).

My mother was a master at garage sale organization and execution. She handled publicity (our town's weekly paper and a dozen handmade signs stuck on street corners and stapled to telephone poles). Every item was cleaned, in good working order, priced fairly, organized and artfully displayed. In other words, she didn't sell crap. And everyone knew it. For three full days (none of this 9-noon stuff), we would have hoards of people at our house buying up everything in sight. I would like to think I learned a thing or two from her when it comes to her secondhand (or thirdhand) retail prowess. case you will be in the Cincinnati area on Saturday (Friday, too, but I won't be selling that day, so come by Saturday!), make your way to
Red Mill Drive in West Chester (45069) between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. (e-mail me if you want my street number). case you want to make a contribution to my family room makeover fund, you could take home one (or many) of these fabulous items:
  • 150+ items of baby girl clothing, sizes 0-24 months; several items still have the original tags and even more were washed but never worn; most are Carter's, Old Navy and Baby Gap; nothing torn or with stains (that stuff went to Goodwill!); most everything is $0.50-$1.00 and nothing is more than $3.00
  • Exersaucer (retails for $60-120; selling mine for $15)
  • Jumparoo ($20) -- looks brand new
  • Leapfrog Musical Table ($15) -- looks brand new
  • Tons of Stampin' Up! and scrapbooking stuff, including 32 stamp sets ($10-26), 38 stamp pads ($3 each), punches ($4-13), adhesives and demonstrator supplies. Everything is in excellent condition and many items are still in the original packaging -- never opened or used!
  • Weber grill, $20
  • Decorative housewares from IKEA, Target and who knows where (pillows, candle holders, tablecloths, mirror, lamp, etc.)
  • Chain saw and lawn mower (I'm lumping these together because I'm not sure yet how much we'll charge; Bret has to make sure they work first)
  • Black & Decker hand mixer ($5)
  • Black & Decker Gizmo cordless can opener ($5)
  • Whatever else I can find between now and Saturday

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preschool: The Terror of Toddlerhood

Lauren's first day went as expected. She cried for a couple of hours, then was able to get involved in playing or reading, but continued crying on and off (I guess when she remembered we weren't there with her) the rest of the time. She wouldn't eat much, and refused to lie down for a nap. Bret said she looked a little shell-shocked when he picked her up.

I was a nervous wreck all morning, not because I was worried that she was in a bad place or not well cared for, but because I knew she was inconsolable all that time. I want her to have fun, not be miserable. I'll be the one taking her on Thursday so I'll get to experience her screaming in person.

I tried to prepare her for this by talking it up the last couple of days. I even bought a book about a little girl's first day at nursery school, which Lauren had me read three times last night, so I thought maybe she was catching on. I also bought her her first DVD -- "Elmo Goes to School" or something like that, but we didn't have time to watch it. Maybe we'll try that tonight.

The benefit to all of this is that I have had zero appetite all day (and if you know me well, you know that I could be bleeding out of my eyeballs and still eat). I have three quarters of my WW Points left for the day...usually by this time of day I've exhausted the vast majority of them and am trying to figure out what I can eat for dinner that's worth 2 points.

I keep trying to remind myself that the day will come when this seems extremely insignificant -- like when she's dating some jerk or... ugh, I don't even want to think what else. We will all survive.

Monday, June 9, 2008

We picked a preschool for Lauren. It is, indeed, the snooty-sounding one, but was not at all snooty. They really seem to have their act together, far more than the others we looked at. The chain itself is not new, but this facility is, so the building and all the equipment is only a few months old -- so clean! The directors and teachers seem very nice and dedicated to the kids. In Lauren's room there are only 5 kids now, with space for a maximum of 12, in a nice, big room. (At another center we looked at, they had 17 toddlers in a room that looked too small for half that many kids. There was nowhere to walk, let alone run around and play.) I think what sold me on the place was the tiny toilets -- each classroom has its own bathroom and the toddler room has a real, honest-to-goodness, porcelain, toddler-sized flush toilet. How cool is that?

Anyway, I now have a pile of paperwork to fill out and I need to talk Lauren's doctor into writing a note saying she has to have organic milk. I don't obsess about giving her an all-organic diet, but I am a freak about the organic dairy products. The connection between growth hormones given to cows to make them produce more milk and early-onset puberty in girls (not to mention the antibiotics issue) means that I'm not giving Lauren non-organic milk if I can help it. But I digress.

I'm so excited for Lauren to go to a wonderful school a couple of days a week where she'll learn so much and make new friends. (Maybe I'll make some, too. I could use more working-mom friends. People who "get it.") I know the transition will be tough for her, though. I already warned the assistant director that she's not going to be one of those kids who cries for 5 minutes and then stops when she gets wrapped up in an activity -- she's going to be the 2-hour sobber, I fear. Better now than in kindergarten, though, right?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Here are some photos from Memorial Day weekend. It was my nephew Caleb's second birthday and he had a (slightly) smaller party than last year when there were close to 50 people there. The weather was great, and Lauren had a blast. She's decided that she REALLY likes Caleb and she REALLY likes holding hands with him whenever possible.

The birthday boy:

His cutie-cute little brother Colin:

Riding off into the sunset:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Do Your Research

We have been searching for a preschool-type situation for Lauren. She will still go to grandma and grandpa's house three days a week but we (especially I) think it's important for her to be around other adults, but mostly other kids, at least a couple of days a week. No one has watched her besides us and my in-laws and now that she's a year and a half old, I really think it's important for her to start learning to be more flexible, adaptable and comfortable with people outside the little family bubble we've created for her. Plus, she is crazy about other kids, including my nephew who she used to run away from (I will post pictures later of the two of them walking hand-in-hand over the weekend -- and Lauren was the one who grabbed hands first!) so I know she will have fun and I know it will be good for her development.

We've looked at three preschools and will visit one more next week. All have been fine and if I had to pick one, I'd go with the last one we visited, but I've got my hopes up for the one next week. It's one of those pricey places with a good reputation and an East Coast boarding school sounding name. I'm more afraid that it'll be too snooty for the likes of us, but we'll see.

Anyway, I was remembering way back when during my reporter days when I helped with a story on child care violations. I had to spend the day in Columbus in a file room going through hundreds and hundreds of child care center inspection reports. It occurred to me today that maybe these are now online -- and I was right. If you have a child in an Ohio child care center, preschool or private licensed caregiver's home, or are looking for care, go to this link ( to do a search by county, center name, city or ZIP code. I spent the better part of the afternoon reading all kinds of interesting (and some shocking) things. You can read about the area(s) a center is or was out of compliance and how it was corrected. I really think more parents should know that they have the right to this information, so please pass along the link.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I think maybe I’ve go post-job-change depression. After the satisfaction of getting out from under a mean boss wore off, and after enjoying my week of freedom, I am now finishing up week three at the new job and the bloom is already off the rose.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this job or the people. I don’t like my commute situation or the fact that I have to dress up, but that’s not it either. It’s just that…it’s work. I’ve sunk back down into a “time to make the doughnuts” mentality, dragging myself out of bed in the morning, doing what I need to do to get three people out the door, facing my slightly stinky office (what IS that?) and to-do list and piles of paper and list of e-mails.

I have felt this way at every job I’ve ever had…maybe not all the time, but it’s kind of my default setting. Sure, I can be productive and every once in a while even proactive, but when it comes down to it, it’s work. It’s not (usually) fun and I wouldn’t exactly call it fulfilling, even if I truly like most everything about my job. Some people love their jobs so much they say they’d do it even if they weren’t getting paid. Would I choose to do this job if I weren’t being paid? No. Any other job I’ve ever had? No. There are very few things I can think of I’d do for a living for free – read books or float in a pool are the two that come to mind (even better – read books WHILE floating in the pool). And since I haven’t seen that particular job on Monster, I’m guessing they shall remain hobbies (or fantasies). I used to buy books with titles like “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.” But I’m not sure I believe that anymore. Sometimes you just do what you can tolerate instead.

However, I’ve decided that for every downer thing I write about, I have to write about something positive. So here goes. Um…I’m getting my hair cut and highlighted tomorrow. That’s always a good thing. I’m feeling rather dark and shaggy so I desperately need the lift in the hair department. Bret graduated last week and I was so proud of him I teared up three times. I didn’t even cry at any of my own graduations. When it was fairly quiet in the arena where graduation was taking place, Lauren yelled out “DA-DAAAAA!” and people around us smiled. I got a kick-ass new laptop for Mother’s Day (that Lauren sure knows what Mommy likes!). And finally, I’ve decided to have an 80s party for my 40th birthday (nearly 7 months away). I’m already planning my wardrobe and the music. I wonder if Jake Ryan will show up with a birthday cake?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm back

I know, I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Quick version of what’s been going on: I left my old job, took a week off to hang out with Lauren and get a few things done around the house. I really enjoyed that week off, which kind of surprised me. I thought I might be bored or irritated playing stay-at-home mom all week, but I really had a good time. Lauren and I had our little routine of watching her PBS shows until about 9:30, then going out to run errands or shop, home for lunch and a nap for her while I did laundry or some other chore, then when she got up we’d play outside or go to the park, back home to actually cook a real dinner, and then do our evening routine when Daddy got home. The weather was fabulous, she had almost no moments of whining or crying, and my stress level completely bottomed out. I could feel the pressure of those last few bad weeks at work (and the previous four and a half years of a less-than-understanding boss) disappear. I had no schedule, no commute, nowhere I needed to be at any particular time. It was great. I know if I were a full-time stay-at-home mom it would not always be that way. Because I knew it was time-limited (and everything else seemed to be working in my favor), it really was like a mini-vacation.

I’m now in week 3 of the new job and it’s going well. It’s a huge, complex place that will probably take me a year or more to even begin to figure out. But the people are nice (including my boss – yea!) so that helps a lot. I was very busy at first but it’s slowed down slightly so now I have time to be lonely. My posse from the old job is coming to visit me at lunch tomorrow, and then I’m joining them for a going-away party for a friend who also decided she’d had it with that place. So, that’ll be good, to have some friend time again, which I had grown so used to having all day, every day. There was always someone fun to talk to while taking a break, strolling to the kitchen or standing at the printer. I’m pretty much on my own here, except for meetings and appointments. It was a good move; it’s just going to take me a while to feel comfortable.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moving On

Tomorrow is my last day at my current job. I've taken a newly created position at a well-respected hospital in town where I'll still be writing, just doing a different kind of writing. Hopefully a kind that I like better and for a boss who will like me better. That's all I have to say about that, at least until I'm officially out of here.

I have gone from being thrilled about my decision, to a little sad at leaving my friends, to ready to bolt at a moment's notice, to being freaked out. Right now I guess I'm a little bit of all of those. It seems that the older I get, the harder change like this is for me (yeesh, getting stuck in my ways already). And I have always hated starting a new job. I hate that feeling of cluelessness, of not even knowing where the bathroom or the pens are, of having to ask people for every little thing. And then there's the bigger stuff -- trying to figure out personalities, what the new boss's expectations REALLY are, who the crazy people are, who to watch out for, who's the go-to person for info. So, that part I'm dreading.

Now on to the good stuff: first is that I get 4 weeks of vacation in the first year (plus 5 sick days plus 8 or 9 holidays). Four weeks of vacation is like gold to a working mother -- I would clean the bathrooms with my own toothbrush for 4 weeks of vacation (luckily, that's not part of my job description). The other benefits are good, too. For the first time, I'll carry the health insurance in my family because it'll be better than Bret's. And they have a good retirement plan, life insurance, etc. etc.

My commute won't be any better -- in fact it'll be a little worse because I have to park off-site and take a shuttle. Ugh. And I'm back to dressing up, after four and a half years of wearing jeans/sweaters/clogs all winter and jeans/t-shirts/sandals all summer. But both of those things were completely worth the time off, not to mention feeling better about the work I'm doing, and who I'm doing it for.

As for the next two days, I have plenty of work to finish up. And then my buddies are taking me out after work tomorrow for a proper send-off. I will be plaing stay-at-home mom for a week before starting my new job. That should be interesting.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Four Things

I'm totally stealing this idea from this lovely woman's blog but, hey, an unoriginal idea is better than no idea at all, right? (trust me, I'm in advertising) So, here we go:

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. waitress
2. balloon-seller at the Lincoln Park Zoo
3. proofreader
4. bookseller

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. Braveheart
2. Animal House
3. Office Space
4. Austin Powers
(good lord, I am a guy)

Four places I've lived:
1. Grand Rapids, MI
2. Columbus, OH
3. Oak Park, IL
4. Delaware, OH

Four TV shows I watch:
1. The Office
2. What Not To Wear
3. The Biggest Loser
4. Jon & Kate Plus 8

Four places I have been:
1. Bar Harbor, ME
2. San Diego, CA
3. Portland, OR
4. Omaha, NE

Four favorite foods:
1. Cereal w/milk (preferably something with very little nutritional value, like Golden Grahams or full-fat granola WITHOUT raisins)
2. Chocolate milkshakes
3. Warm bread with butter
4. Pancakes

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. The beach
2. In my bed napping
3. A spa
4. The movies

Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
1. More sleep
2. Enjoying more time with Bret since he'll soon be done with school
3. Lauren learning to talk
4. Hopefully, a more balanced, less stressful life (more on that later)

Four places I love to shop:
1. Online -- for anything
2. Crate & Barrel
3. Anthropologie
4. Target

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Picture Post

Caleb and Colin, the cutest nephews in the world.

"Seriously, Mom, if that's what you're going to wear in public, can you just pretend we don't know each other?"

"Here, take it. I don't drink Scotch before noon."

" No photos, please."

No caption needed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Opening Day

It's been getting quite the buzz around here and I can't say I'm not excited, too. I used to have to go to Chicago to get my IKEA fix and now it's a mere 2 or 3 miles down the road.
I want to aviod the crowds...but I wonder how long I can hold out before visiting. I do needs me some flat-pack furniture and a plate of Swedish meatballs. Plus, I'm getting sick of Target and Kohl's. Need somewhere else to take my stroller-baby when it's cold outside.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

At-Work Time Wasters That Won't Waste Your Time

I've added some new links at the left.

Sound Bites Nutrition is my friend Lisa's new biz venture. She's a dietitian, mom, and all-around hilarious gal originally from the Rust Belt like me. If you need some help with all things food-related, contact Lisa. I promise she won't make you feel bad for eating so much crap.

Madison Blvd Photography is a photo studio run by two delightful moms. They took our family pictures and Lauren's one-year photos back in December and managed to make us all look good (mostly Lauren). Check out the Galleries for shots of my gal in a pink tutu (a prop I really didn't want but they turned out to be my favorite pictures).

Lumpyhead is a site I stumbled across, read the whole thing one afternoon and laughed hysterically. It chronicles the adventures of a working mom, stay-at-home dad and their two (soon to be three) kids. I'm hooked.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Different World

On my way to work this morning, I saw two people standing on an overpass with Obama posters, waving at us motorists passing under them on the highway. Nothing strange about that, given that tomorrow is the primary election here in Ohio and the race between Barack and Hillary is pretty close.

What struck me, however, was the big, burly, white truck driver in the lane next to me who honked enthusiastically at the Obama supporters.

Then, a half mile or so down the road, Hillary supporters (all big, burly, white guys) were standing near the highway in front of a union hall, holding their "Hillary for President" signs. Another blue-collar white guy driving his work truck honked and waved at them.

Our country is by no means done with racism and sexism; I know we have a long way to go on both fronts. But seeing white, regular-Joe type guys enthusiastically supporting a bi-racial man and a white woman running for President literally put a smile on my face.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snoring Husband, Waking Toddler

And therefore, sleepy me. The thing I’m discovering about kids is, just when you think something is over (night-waking), it ain’t. We had a good run of at least a month where we’d put Lauren to bed at 8:00 and not hear from her again until 6:00. Now she’s fighting going to sleep in the first place, and waking up two or four times throughout the night. It’s still better than her infancy, but after a couple of weeks of being woken (waked? I don’t know grammar.) up throughout the night (and then she wants up for good at, oh, 4:50 or so), it starts to wear on my 39-year-old body. Everyone has a theory – teething (she’s only got 7 teeth, so we’ve got a long way to go there), a growth spurt (she’s eating like crazy these days), a developmental phase (huh?). I dunno. I just needs me some sleep. She's starting back to swimming lessons tomorrow; maybe that will wear her out so she'll sleep more soundly.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Baby (toddler -- yikes, I guess I have to get used to saying that) was sick with a stomach bug and an ear infection, but is better now. Now I know why they make such a big deal out of Mother's Day -- I'm the only one who ever gets puked on.

Big excitement of the weekend is that I'm spending my spa gift card Lauren was kind enough to buy me for Christmas. Yummy-smelling Aveda goodness, here I come!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Strike a Pose

I don't post much about work...guess I'm a little paranoid that someone I work with (like my boss) has found this and I don't want to write about anything that will get me fired. I like my warm house and new car too much to be unemployed.
Also, I don't often feel good about the work I do, thanks to never being told that it's any good. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been praised by a superior in the last five year for the work I've done (despite getting lots of praise from clients, having them pick my concepts, liking my copy, etc.).
So, I just had a to brag a little bit. I have an ad running in the March issue of Vogue. There's not a lot of copy, but I wrote every word, and damn it, I think that's pretty cool.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stuff I’m reading, watching, loving right now.*

Books: I have a habit of having more than one book going at a time. Currently, I’m reading:

  • You: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty
    The latest in the “You” series by Oprah’s favorite doc and some other guy. Can’t seem to get through this, although it does contain some great information. Seems to be geared to someone at least 10 years older than me. Which is fine. Anything that makes me feel younger.
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
    The gals at work started a book club and this is our first selection. I’ve read several of Bill Bryson’s other works and he always makes me laugh aloud. A Walk in the Woods is still my favorite from this Iowa-born writer who lives in England.
  • What To Expect: The Toddler Years
    You gotta read these if you have a kid, right? I’m already two months behind on this user manual…I hope there’s not something important that I’m supposed to be doing. (As a side note, the first book in this series is the classic What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which I did not need. There should be an adoption book called What To Expect When You’re Not Reproducing.)


  • How To Look Good Naked
    God love Carson Kressley. He was always my favorite Queer Eye guy, and who better to build up the self-esteem of the average woman than a man who has clearly embraced his different-ness.
  • The Biggest Loser: Couples
    I’m not quite as into the Couples show as much as I am the regular Biggest Loser shows, but I still tune in faithfully every Tuesday. Love to watch the transformations. While I eat cookies. And ice cream.


  • P.S. I Love You
    I’ve only seen two movies (in the theater or otherwise) since Lauren was born, so perhaps I am not the most discerning of movie-goers these days, but I loved this chick-flick. I know it didn’t get good reviews, but I don’t care. For two hours of laugh-cry-laugh-cry (throw in a little lust for Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and their yummy Irish accents), it was worth the $9.25 and half a box of Kleenex.

*I was not paid to review any of this stuff, but I am by no means above accepting any free goodies the publishers/producers might want to throw my way.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh, God, please let us win

Ha ha! It's 2008 so I can start posting about football again!

Despite my wish that my beloved Bucks play in the Rose Bowl (I can't handle the pressure of another National Championship game), we're going to the big dance after all. I am wearing my (uh, Bret's) Fear the Nut shirt, have pre-ordered a pizza to be delivered promptly at 7:00 p.m., and need to come up with a scheme for getting Bret to put Lauren to bed (her bedtime is the same time as kickoff). But I may already be screwed on that one; he put her to bed the last two nights (coincidence? I think not.)


Friday, January 4, 2008

All right, I realize that my posts are making me sound like Debbie Downer, and while, yes, I do tend to have a strong streak of the melancholy in me, I’d like to think that I’m mostly a positive person. So I’m going to write about something positive.

I have a new nephew! Colin Matthew was born January 3, weighing in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 ½ inches long. He came quickly so there was no time for drugs (my sister-in-law is my hero). I can’t wait to visit him and big brother Caleb. My brother is well on his way to having his own soccer team.

The other exciting news is that my new dining room furniture is being delivered tomorrow. No, seriously, you have no idea how exciting this is. I was convinced I would die an old woman with that hand-me-down table and chairs (they actually have “1973” stamped underneath them). Our new set was the floor sample so I got a mission-style table, 6 chairs, buffet and hutch for what a buffet from Pottery Barn costs. A good deal to be sure.

See? I can be happy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Not a New Year's Resolution

I have been going (back) to Weight Watchers for 4 months now – and have a whopping 8.8 pounds lost to show for it. I went a year and a half ago and lost 22 pounds in 2 months. Of course, I gained it back, probably all in the 7 weeks I was home with a newborn (I swear if I were a stay-at-home mom I’d weigh 600 pounds and need a really, really strong anti-depressant).

My whole plan when I started WW this time around was to reach my goal weight by the time I turned 40. I even had a whole campaign dreamed up for the process: Hot By 40. I figured out how much weight I'd need to lose each week in order to reach my goal by then, and it was quite reasonable. But I fell off track a month or so ago and now it’s probably not do-able. Not for me, anyway. Forty is “only” 53 weeks away and I am doing this slowly.

I just dropped a blob of buffalo chicken dip leftover from New Year’s eve on my mousepad. That should give you some indication of how slowly it's going.