Thursday, December 31, 2009

New blog for shopping tips/favorite things

Most of the search engine traffic I get on this blog is a result of searches like "initial jewelry for moms" and "favorite gifts." Therefore, I've decided to create a separate blog, The Shopping Guru, for sharing my favorite things/shopping tips. I just started this one, and will be adding to it very soon. If you'd like to follow that blog, please visit the site and select a method for following (e-mail, reader, Google Friend Connect). Thanks so much for reading!

Mall Madness


Here comes another stupid parenting moment.  I get dumber by the day, I swear.

I thought it was a terrific idea (do all my posts start this way?) to take both children to the mall. 

When the youngest was 6 weeks old. 

During the Christmas shopping rush. 

In the evening, when all the nutty after work gotta-buy-something-that-not-even-a-starving-child-in-Africa-would-like suburban Christmas shoppers are at their most crazed peak. 

And by the way, we forgot to bring one of those baby carriers that all the used-to-be-cool young parents wear, all shred of dignity finally relinquished as we walk begrudgingly down the aisles hoping maybe the cool kids will think baby wearing is a new fashion statement, like Flavor Flav’s clock necklace.


We also forgot the doubles attachment for our other fashion statement, the ultra-cool Phil and Ted’s double stroller (not to be confused with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, though I’m pretty sure Keanu Reeves could use an adult stroller to relax in while he gets high).

But we are over confident parents of two, and we keep trying to convince ourselves that we are really good at this parenting thing.  When we’ve had a couple of glasses of wine and the kids are in bed (while we watch Antiques Roadshow, because we’re cool like that) we are especially confident about this. 

So we decide to let one parent shop while the other stays at the kid’s play area with two children.

Let me just skip to the punch line, because this post is getting long and you can probably guess what is coming.

You’ve seen those bug-eyed lunatic moms pinning their helpless innocent children to the wall right out in the middle of a crowded public place while screaming something pointless that clearly isn’t helping, like “If you don’t stop it right now I’m going to find your Daddy, leave you with him, and go have myself a stiff drink, you hear me you little runt?”  You know those horrible moms, right?

Well that wasn’t me.  I handled the not listening and running off down the crowded mall aisle while I high-tail it after you as fast as I can [given my post baby girth and the constant tripping on the floor length giant sweater thing I wear to cover my fat] with my newborn baby dangling off one arm wailing with the grace and ease of Mary Poppins. 

Blogging and Google Reader


Since I know my dear mother and father read this diligently, as do other members of my loyal family, I thought it might be helpful to provide a little bit of information about blogging and other technology tips.  I know this is probably the first blog some of you (hi mom) ever read, so I thought it might be helpful to provide some context.  Perhaps some of you will decide to take up blogging yourself!  Or maybe this will just peak your interest in reading blogs and inspire you to search for more reading material that interests you.

Credit goes to my colleague, Jay L., who writes an internal e-mail blog for our company.  Below is content from his blog.  In the first excerpt, Jay is discussing ways to prepare yourself to be a good blogger.  Here is one of his tips:

“Be a more efficient reader. You can’t write if you don’t read, and whether you read business or psychology blogs, professional journals, news publications, or all of the above, staying informed will only help you, and that’s true beyond blogging. One way to be a more efficient reader is to use an aggregator. I use Google Reader, but there are a number of options out there. An aggregator is essentially a dashboard that looks like a web-based email program, and it feeds the latest posts and articles from any blog or news source that you subscribe to – these free subscriptions are sometimes called RSS feeds or Really Simple Syndication. With this system, by the time I’ve had my morning coffee, I’ve read the headlines and summary paragraphs for every new article at the New York Times, Wall St Journal, Technorati, the Onion, and the Post-Dispatch, plus I’ll see any new posts from a dozen or so blogs that I follow. For any content that strikes my interest, I click to read the full article. The advantage of this system is time – it eliminates the need to jump from website to website, and new content comes to you in an easy-to-manage format.”

Another quote from Jay, about the nature of blogging:

“Blogging is all about finding a rhythm, a format for communication that you can repeat over time.”

By the way, there are several ways to follow a blog (which allows you to see new posts as they appear on the blog).  If you click on the Subscribe page (link at the top of my blog), you’ll find places to subscribe in a reader (e.g., Google Reader) or subscribe via e-mail. You can also choose to Follow with Google Friend Connect (on the right side of my main page). 

How many of you are new to reading blogs?

How many of you do not use Google Reader yet?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dog Strollers. Seriously?

Okay dog fanatics, don’t attack me for this one.  Or sic your pit bull on me.  I am a dog lover too.  But a dog stroller?  Maybe for a dog that has hip dysplasia or sipped one too many Mai Tais, but I see healthy normal (albeit a little fat – probably from being pushed around all day) Maltese puppies being pushed in these crazy things.


How can you look at this without laughing hysterically?

When I searched “dog stroller” one of the first entries made me guffaw - “which stroller is right for your dog?”  Um, what?  THE ONE THAT SAYS I HAVE COMPLETELY LOST MY FREAKING MIND?

I admit we were that metro couple without children who once thought our dogs were people.  We dressed them up for Halloween, for crying out loud.  But they asked us to. 

Halloween dogs

And perhaps we talked about them a bit too much in social settings.  Just like proud parents who go on too long about their child’s potty habits.  So we thought others might find it interesting that our adorable little Pomeranian likes leopard print and a good jazz cd.  Big deal.

But a dog stroller?  Never.

What I would like to see is an adult-sized people stroller.  I really could have used one of those when I was pregnant.  Even now, it would be really nice to rest my post-partum bulge on the tray and sip a nice glass of Merlot from my sippy cup nicely situated in a cup holder and have my dear husband push me around the mall.  Perhaps if I make good choices he will buy me some Chick Fil-A and one of those cookie sandwiches with M&Ms for eyes. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joy of Christmas Lights with a Car Full of Crying Kids

Sometimes I have these cliché "what in the cotton-pickin' heck were we thinking?" parenting moments. Oh. Wait a minute. Scratch that - I have those daily. Okay, maybe hourly. You get the idea.

I recently had the brilliant plan of taking our three-year-old and newborn to see a park so chock-full of Christmas lights that comparing it to the Griswald's house would be like Charlie Brown's Christmas up against the tree at Rockefeller center. Some poor souls who work for the county are subjected to the absolute torture of stringing Christmas lights all through the park. So I thought it would be a good idea to sit in our car moving at less than 2 mph with two small children and stare at said lights.

That might not have been such a brilliant plan.

Might I mention that I was feeling particularly ambitious that evening, and we had just braved a 30 minute drive to church, a 1 hour church service (we saw about 10 minutes of the service since we were continually streaking out of service as one or both children screeched or yelled WHERE ARE THE SNACKS?), and a 30 minute drive back to town. Oh yeah, and we stopped along the way to eat some Culver's (no snide nutrition remarks, please) in the car. It was AFTER all of this that we went to the obnoxious light display.

Oh yeah, AND the stupid light display had a line like the girl's bathroom at a Miley Cyrus concert.

Oh yeah, AND we didn't have any cash. More on that later.

There we are, crammed into our Camry, which seems to grow increasingly tiny by the minute. I am in the back of the car, and my husband is Driving Miss Daisy (pretend Jackie Chang is playing the role of the chauffeur). I think there were various toys, orange peels, coats, princess slippers, and used baby wipes on the floor below my feet, because I had no room for them and had to sit licking my knees. The baby was in the gigantic car seat next to me (seriously, why on earth do those darned things have to be so big - the baby is less than 10 pounds!) and our oldest was in her even bigger car seat next to the opposite window. She insisted on pulling and snapping the stupid sun visor the entire time. (Which eventually resulted in a minor tantrum. Mine. I have a vague memory of me ripping it off the window and slamming gently tossing it into the garbage pail at my feet.)

About 15 minutes into our wait in the stupid line, the baby starts wailing. Now, we are technically on a road, but the line is off to the side on the shoulder and really is just creeping along. So, do we count as a moving vehicle? Am I akin to Britney Spears if I take her out of the car seat at this point? I decide to proudly reassure myself that I am a good parent, who can handle a little crying, so I leave her in the car seat and begin desperately shaking rocking the car seat in hopes the resulting dizziness will lull her into a state of peace. About this time, our other child decides she would like to join in the fun and begins whining/crying as well. Of course, my dear husband thinks it is helpful to shout suggestions from the front. "Is the baby wet?" "Have you given her a bottle?" "Can you pass me a martini, two olives?" Dude, do you think I haven't thought of the same things you have? Why don't you get out there and see what happens when you chew on one of those light strands?

We continue like this, now just wanting to get into the festival of hell lights and get this over with, for about another 10 minutes. Finally, we enter the park. Throughout the entire drive, our eldest asks repeatedly: "Where is Santa? Where is Santa?" I want to reply: "Believe me kid, if I knew, I would wring his jolly neck for being the ring leader in all this nonsense."

I know we are officially grumpy adults, because instead of oohing and ahhing over all these blinking strings, my husband and I just keep commenting that it must be a royal pain to do all of this work. I can just imagine the spouse of the poor worker who puts up all these lights. If s/he dare to badger his/her spouse about putting up Christmas decorations at home, I am certain the spouse would end up with a string of lights inserted where the sun don't shine. The blinking butt could be a cool conversation starter, though.

Merry freakin' Christmas.

Oh yeah, I forgot. As we finally exit the park, the guy assigned to take the $9 fee (who chooses that job?) informs us it is cash only. Oops. Here, have a dirty diaper and an orange peel. I would feel guilty about shorting them the $9 except I recently received our county tax bill.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gift of Giving - Will You Join In?

At my workplace, the owners began a Gift of Giving program last holiday season. They give each employee $100 and ask that the employee use the money to help an individual or family in need. The only parameters are that the person(s) must be outside your family, and it cannot be an organization - it must be an individual or family. Employees are then asked to write their stories anonymously in a shared document on our network. A couple of those stories are below.

Doing this small, simple act can have such an impact on people in need. We are allowed to give whatever message we want when we gift the money. I have asked recipients to pay it forward. I would now like to see how many of you are willing to pay it forward. Would you join us this year and gift $100 of your money to a person or family in need? If so, would you please write your story in the comments section here. You can remain anonymous if you would like.

A couple of stories from employees at my workplace:

A friend of mine volunteers for an organization called Mary Queen of Angels. They help mothers with young children who can’t afford the things they need to take care of their children. They help them provide food, diapers and wipes, etc for their children. I gave my $100 to a 30-year old single mother of two small children who is unemployed. She does not own a car so her father has to take her places. She receives no child support from the father. She said her children don’t have many clothes so she is constantly washing their clothes so they at least have clean clothes to wear. She is living with her cousin because her heat was turned off. Her refrigerator recently broke and she lost about $70 worth of food. One of her children has severe adhd and she can barely take him out in public. She said she hadn’t bought her kids any Christmas presents yet. She was very grateful and surprised by the $100 gift and was going to buy food and Christmas presents for her children.

A local charity put me in touch with a woman in need who lives in my area. She is 53 years old and single. She recently had hip surgery and is unable to work because of her physical condition. She has fallen behind financially. She doesn’t have any family in the immediate area. She tries to have a positive outlook but sometimes gets discouraged about what the future might hold. She was surprised when she received the $100 bill. She said she plans to use the money to buy a winter coat and shoes. It also gave her hope for the future and made her want to spread the joy by performing a random act of kindness for someone else.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Favorite Gift Ideas

I suppose this is a little late for anyone to actually use these gift suggestions for Christmas, but perhaps you can use these for future special occasions. Here we go:

My parents bought us the Sodastream for Christmas, and we love it! It is fun to operate and I like that it produces less waste. The sparkling water is pretty good, and is a nice healthy alternative for our family.

For the woman in your life, you can't go wrong with this Hobo International Lauren wallet. I have two of these and have bought them for a number of ladies, who all love their wallet as much as I love mine. Every time I use mine, someone asks me about it.

The same goes for my Lodis briefcase. I saw another woman with this briefcase and asked her about it. Since I bought mine, I often have people ask me where I got it so they can get one too! The one I have has a laptop compartment, which is nice. There are versions without the compartment.

For kids, I think you can't go wrong with books. A friend bought us one of the Llama books, Llama Llama Red Pajama. They are really cute. Another friend bought us You Are Special, which has an implicit Christian theme, but is a good story regardless of the person's faith.

For babies, we love our back to sleep bear - it was suggested by a mom friend and really helps get our newborn back to sleep.

For teenagers, give them money. Anything else, they will be disappointed!

For men, you can't go wrong with an iPhone or an iPod touch. These wireless headphones that allow you to watch TV without having your bed mate complain are also pretty cool.

For the geek in your life (sorry dad!), this wireless weather forecaster is pretty cool.

Happy shopping! I welcome any other suggestions you all have.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baaaddd Bottled Water!

A little off-topic, but certainly an eye-opener. I have never been a fan of bottled water. It just seems silly and wasteful to me, sorry. Turns out there is good evidence to support my viewpoint:

Infographic of bottle water from Fast Company

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Flying with Young Children

We will soon depart on our first flight with two little ones. Let's hope we aren't over confident. Despite the fact that our first born can, at times, be quite a handful, she has always been an excellent traveler. I can't remember ever having difficulty with her on the plane. She never had the screaming fits because of ear pain, she is generally well behaved, and she mostly stays in her seat. I attribute part of that to the fact that she started traveling at a very young age (her first trip out of the country was at age 7 months) and it is old hat for her.

We'll see how well we do with two!

One of my best parenting tricks for things like travel and eating out is to talk about it A LOT beforehand. Explain what will happen, what to expect, what kind of behavior you expect from them, what the reward is for that behavior(!), how long you will be doing this activity, etc.

I like this recent blog post about things to do in airports with kids, and how to get through security easier with kids.

Now, navigating the security line with kids is something I haven't quite mastered yet, so I'll take all the advice I can get there! I'm quite adept (Humbly, I'd say I'm black belt level) at getting through security as a business traveler. Man, I can whip off my shoes and have the laptop out in nothing flat. But boy, I can't seem to get the shoes off my toddler, make her put down her toy and calmly waltz through the metal detector without significant coaxing and bribing. There are some tips on getting through security with kids in this blog post, but I suppose I was looking for more of a magic bullet - these seem kind of obvious.

Any of you have good travel tips? I'll take any old travel tips - tips for traveling with kids or just plain old tips.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Hell is Like - Sleep Deprivation!

Well, you may remember my post, "What Heaven is Like" - now I know what hell is like. It is a sleep deprivation chamber. Also, there probably isn't any chocolate in hell. I'm too tired to elaborate, but let's just say I've had night upon night of being awaken every 30 minutes by my beautiful little newborn. She is so cute and sweet during the day, but why, oh why, won't she just sleep for a little bit during the night?

I like this recent blog entry with ideas about how to get a baby to sleep. So funny.

I received two pieces of really sage advice during this same newborn/no sleep phase with my first born:

The first, from my mother was regarding breaking all the rules about what not to do with a newborn (bring them to bed with you, allow them to nurse on demand, don't allow them to nurse on demand, etc.). What did my mom think about what you should do with your newborn? My mom said: "You just survive." So true.

The second was from my co-worker, Terence, who has two children of his own. His first born didn't sleep through the night for quite some time (years!). Over those years, many well-intentioned people gave him lots and lots of advice. He finally came to a brilliant conclusion about why his child didn't sleep. Here is what he says: "You know why she doesn't sleep? Because she doesn't sleep."

There you have it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Reason I Love Trader Joe's!

I could go on and on about all the reasons I love Trader Joe's - the freshness of the food, the low prices for organic, the unique items (e.g., spicy dried mango or dried mangosteen), the cheap wine. But the best reason by far is their outstanding, boundary-breaking customer service.

I've told many of my friends the story of a time when I was in the checkout buying an unusual item, and the checker asked me if I had tried said item. I replied that I had tried a similar item, but didn't like it, so I was going to test out this new option. She promptly rang her bell and received approval from the manager to give me full credit for the item I bought previously - I had no receipt, no box, no proof whatsoever that I had ever even purchased the item! Further, she informed me that I could always ask a Trader Joe's employee to open any item and let me try it there in the store before purchasing! Wow!

Here is yet another story about their outstanding customer service - they gave a woman a free turkey simply because they felt sorry for her!

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Favorite Things - for Postpartum Moms and for Newborns

This book, The Second Nine Months, will make you hurt so bad from laughing that you will need an extra Percocet. The author is painfully honest and FINALLY provides a realistic perspective on life after delivery. Even if you had your child years ago, this is a must read. I think all new dads should read it as well. Heck, anyone at all would probably find it laugh out loud funny.

The Sleepy Wrap is my new best friend. It is the only way I have been able to get a nap during the day - I wrap my new baby in it, lie on my back, and we both catch some shut eye. Plus, it doesn't look quite as dorky as some of the other baby carriers.

I love, love, love this Yummy Tummy tank that my wonderful sister bought me. I probably never would have spent this much on a tank top myself, but now that I've worn it I think it is totally worth the money. It definitely minimizes the post-partum belly and is actually an attractive looking nursing tank. They also have non-nursing items that would be great for any woman looking to minimize the mid-section!

Leggings are quite forgiving under an oversized shirt or cute dress. I love the new modern take on the 80s stirrup legging (trust me, they aren't the atrocious kind that we tucked into our multicolored, fluorescent socks).

I love leggings with the bootie (also an 80s throwback) - this Nine West version is one of my favorites. When buying clothes is a less than desirable undertaking, there is nothing like a pair of new shoes to pick you up!

I love this nursing cover because it doesn't look like you are wearing a doily off your grandmother's side table.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Top Ten Do's for Friends of Families with Newborns

Well, I thought it might be good to do a little educational piece for the general public while the subject is fresh for me. It is also good for me to capture this in print for myself, since it is so easy to forget what it is like to have a newborn once you are out of that phase. Evolutionary psychology and survival of the species has helped us by allowing us to almost completely erase from our minds the downsides of having a newborn and only remember the sweet smell of baby powder and soft breathy snuggles.

Here goes. I hope you find this both humorous and informative. Feel free to add your own by commenting, or go ahead and critique the ones I've suggested.

Top Ten Do's for Friends of Families with Newborns:

10. Wash your hands and the hands of your children before handling the newborn. Especially if you drove to see us - we've seen too many people with fingers up their noses at stoplights.

9. Offer to run errands or pick something up for the family.

8. Be patient with the family and all their grumpiness, dishevelment, and absentmindedness. With the combo of sleep deprivation and general shock over the upheaval, the best they can do right now is get the baby fed, clothed, and changed.

7. Allow the family to rest and relax. Take care of them - they desperately need it! At the very least, fetch diapers and wipes. If you don't want to help out, then keep your visit very short (30 minutes to an hour).

6. Go on and on about how beautiful the baby is. Even if the baby looks like Yoda having a bad hair day.

5.If the family has another child, bring a small gift for the other child and give that child some of your attention too. If the family doesn't have another child, give that extra attention to the mom!

4. Make the sacrifice, just this once, and let the family hog the conversation with talk of the baby and the birth. We know it is terribly boring for you, but it is all we really care about right now.

3. When you visit, bring food, serve or help serve the meal, and then help clean up. This is the best gift you can give the family - you don't need to bring anything else!

2. Ask when the family is expecting visitors (frame it as "when" versus a yes/no "Are you taking visitors?" so it is easier for the family to put you off if they so desire).

1. For the love of Pete, tell the mother how wonderful and thin she looks, even if she looks like Jabba the Hut. No one will do this, so be the first to break the cycle.

Other helpful suggestions:

When to visit a newborn

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Article - Discipline Mistakes

Oh, I love when I run across articles like these. They sure do help keep me humble. I'm pretty sure I've covered the whole list, multiple times over. What can you do but laugh at yourself and just try harder next time?

Which are you guilty of (and willing to admit)?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Food Favorites

Being at the tail end of my pregnancy (at least I hope the end is somewhere near!), I am trying to enjoy eating before I have to start working on shedding the weight. I thought perhaps I should add a couple more favorite things to my list:

If you saw my previous post touting the virtues of etsy (a wonderful website where individual artists sell jewelry, art, clothing, etc.) and also fell in love with that little site, than you might like foodzie, which is a site for people to sell their homemade goodies. Both sites are great places to find unique gifts.

My other favorite for today is chocolate infused with hot peppers. I know, I know, it doesn't sound particularly appetizing, but you must give it a try before you judge. My favorite so far is the Hachez chili mango bar

Lindt also has a chili cherry bar, though I haven't tried this one yet.

Anyone else a fan?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Strollers and Reward Charts

I recently went out on a limb and purchased a "sounds too good to be true" used version of the phil and ted's e3 stroller with a double kit for $50 on eBay. If you aren't in the know yet about these inventive double strollers, you have to check them out. The cheapest version (now called the classic) retails for a whopping grand total of $430 if you get it with the double kit. So I really believed it was too good to be true when I won this one for $50. I was becoming quite cynical about it when, fifteen days after purchase, I still hadn't received the item or a tracking number. But it arrived today and is in great condition. I am as excited about this as I am about my new pair of shoes (which are also pretty cool)! Wow, am I a mom or what?

My other recent success story comes from finally succumbing to using a silly looking reward chart a la Supernanny for my daughter. I have to say, I have been humbled more lately by the increasing awareness that much of her behavior is driven by my behavior. How I react to the tantrums and negativity certainly makes a big difference. I am working very hard on keeping my cool, rewarding and reinforcing positive behavior, and trying my darndest to ignore the behavior I want to extinguish. Simple, well-known tactics, but so hard to execute in the heat of the moment! Nevertheless, it seems to be working and we are making progress. Hallelujah for small miracles!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Power of "I'm Sorry"

No, I'm not talking about having my child learn to say "I'm sorry" - I'm talking about me remembering the power of those two little words. It is surprisingly hard to utter that phrase to your child. You feel as though you are the one who should be in control, the one who should be setting the example. Yet, as a parent part of the humility you learn comes from screwing up, time and again. What is the most amazing thing to see is how forgiving these little beings are. No matter how bad of a day you have, or how poorly you handle a difficult parenting moment, they are always willing to envelope you in a tight, genuine hug and accept your apology.

This weekend, I had to tell my daughter: "I'm sorry I yelled. Mommy didn't talk nice, and that is not okay." She said: "That's right Mommy, but it's okay. I love you." What a gift, what a lesson in true forgiveness!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Morning Snuggles

There is nothing like having a little warm body crawl quietly into bed at 5:30 a.m., snuggle up and doze off silently next to you. Especially when that little warm body stays asleep until 7 a.m.! This morning has been all snuggles and sweetness, so the meltdowns are a distant memory today.

After breakfast this morning, my daughter took the liberty of doing my makeup and hair for me. I have about seven layers of different colored lipsticks, lots of cover-up, and four small ponytails at the front of my head.

Just in case the meltdowns reappear (I keep my optimism that one day they will be gone for good), I found an interesting article on five tantrums stoppers that "work." Hmm. We'll have to try them out and see what "work" means. If any of you try them, let me know how it "works" for you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monkeys and Meltdowns

I was so happy to see that shiny little face last night, after four days of quiet time and silence during meals. She was an absolute doll all the way home from the airport, and just so sweet after we got home.

*Insert suspenseful music*

...until bedtime.


Wow, I didn't know 28 pounds of girl could release such intensity. We have had such a long, pleasant break since the end of the last meltdown phase, that I had optimistically assumed maybe we were past it.

Well, we're talkin' knock over the fan, kick the door, throw your shoes, scream like Linda Blair meltdown.

I am trying to see the humor now, but I had trouble sleeping last night thinking about what I am doing wrong as a parent, why we are failing, why I've read every parenting book out there and nothing works, etc. So, in an effort for self-preservation, I want to hear from you all - what is the worst meltdown you've seen from your children, and how do you handle them?

In the meantime, I guess I can find solace with the monkey moms, who apparently are also at a loss as to how to handle meltdowns.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pedicures, Pecan Pie and Peace

Before I start on my monologue touting the wonders of pedicures and pecan pie, let me first note that I respond to your comments by posting a comment of my own after yours. I think you probably have to go back and select the "read comments" link to see my response. Hope this works okay for you all. back to our regularly scheduled programming. Pedicures and pecan pie.

I am in the middle of what is likely to be my last carefree weekend for quite some time. I am kid-free and have been living it up. Like Wayne Newton, as my husband would say. At first, I hated it. I hated not having her adorable little face (although not so adorable during a series of very intense Exorcist-like fits this past week) and hearing her sweet voice. A couple of "you idiot, enjoy yourself" comments from my honest husband helped kick me into gear.

Friday I spent the afternoon lounging at the nail salon, having a lovely woman massage my swollen legs with hot stones. She painted the toenails on what are barely recognizable as toes (they look more like little Jimmy Dean sausages) a lovely color of orange. If only she would have just kept quiet during the whole thing, it would have been perfect.

Then, a couple of wonderful friends took pity on me last night and allowed me to tag along to a charity event featuring food by the best local chefs. Maybe they knew a woman near her due date would get the most out of those tickets, or maybe they were just feeling a bit charitable themselves. Poor souls had to put up with a chattering beast of a woman who couldn't stop herself from having as many helpings as she could fit into her cramped stomach. But the best food I had all night was PECAN PIE! I had three pieces and didn't feel an ounce of guilt about it. I wanted to cry it was so good. I figured I had to walk up a curved flight of stairs to get to it, so I needed the calories.

I had breakfast this morning in peace. No one asked for the last of my milk. Then, I took a long nap without that nagging feeling that I would be awoken any minute.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank You for Reading

Well, I just reviewed my analytics for this silly little blog, and it looks like I actually have a reader base, and y'all are reading from all over, including from outside the U.S.! Analytics is so cool - it shows me where my readers are from (e.g., my loyal readers, mom and dad, obviously read the post about grandparents because I see two readers from their town who viewed the site today). My post about what to do in boring meetings had no clicks, so must not have been too interesting, but my post about women lying to one another was quite popular.

Since I know you are out there, anything in particular you want to hear about? Some days I just can't think of anything to say, but want to keep it interesting and reader-friendly if possible. Fire away.

In the meantime, a funny little off-topic story to keep things interesting. I think I'm going to have to buy a shirt from cute little Jimmy Winkelmann, an inventive teenager who had a brilliant idea for a clothing line called South Butt. Apparently big mean North Face has a problem with his new company.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ode to Grandparents

We spent a lovely weekend with my parents, who are the most amazing grandparents ever.  They never complain about giving up their time to be with the grandkids, they don't judge - they simply love.  It is such a blessing to have their influence and presence in the lives of my children, and I am so grateful to experience such unconditional love.  No matter what, we know that we have that love, which is just the most amazing gift a person can receive.  Thanks to mom and dad, as well as all the other grandparents out there who provide love and support.  You are much needed in this world, and much appreciated! 

 I found a sweet, short poem about grandparents this morning on the fundootimes website.  They credit T.S. Eliot for the writing, but I'm not so sure that it is a T.S. Eliot poem - it just doesn't sound like him nor can I find any reference to this poem in his bibliography.  If any one knows, please educate me.  

From the fundootimes site:

The short poem 'Silent Love' from Nobel laureate poet TS Eliot (Thomas Stearns Eliot) tells us that the love showered by the elders in a family, on children, cannot be described in words. This kind of love is invisible and silent. It is often unnoticed and people don't pay too much attention at it. Eliot says that all other sorts of love do get their nomenclature, but family love does not have any description. According to him, there are no words that can express the exact feeling or expression of family love.

Silent Love

There's no vocabulary

For love within a family, love that's lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Initial Jewelry for Moms That Isn't Cheesy - Gifts for Moms

Note: I recently migrated shopping finds to a new blog, and you can find other initial jewelry recommendations there in a recent post.

We had a successful weekend selling about $300 worth of stuff on craigslist.  If we can close the sale on one more item, our grand total will be $1000!  So....I'm itching to spend money, and of course I want to spend it on something fun and impractical instead of using it for a household budget item.  That just doesn't sound fun.

As  mom, it seems I've been unable to resist a few of the cheesy mom things, like jewelry with my children's initials or birthstones.  I haven't bought anything yet because most things are, well, cheesy.  Or they are just plain ugly.  I ran across a couple of items that are really cute, stylish, and cheap!

Here is a necklace with one initial, but I would buy several of them (with different initials) and layer them.

Or you could go with this necklace, which has several initials on the same chain. 

This one has room for a little more information about the children.

This one would make a pretty cute gift for a new mom.

Speaking of gifts, I've been racking my brain trying to think of a good gift to send one of husband's friends.  She has sent us boxes and boxes of hand-me-down clothes for our daughter.  I know it is a hassle to box those up and get to the post office to send them, especially since she has two kids and a full-time job herself.  I have only met her once, and my husband isn't much help knowing what she would like.  Any ideas?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mom's Night Out

Well guess what?  After all my talk about women lying to each other about parenting, I had a lovely night of open, honest communication with a group of moms.  The teachers at the school arranged a happy hour/dinner last night and about 20 moms came.  We had a great time comparing stories about meltdowns, stubbornness, how we've lost our patience, etc.  Plus everyone (except me) enjoyed a few cocktails and got some much needed downtime.  I highly recommend it.

Speaking of my daughter's teachers, I must say they have to be among the best.  I don't tell them enough how  much they are appreciated.  I recently ran across an article written by a preschool teacher with tips for what to do/not do as mom of a preschooler.  I confess, I am guilty of a number of these, but I vow to reform. 

For starters:
  • I have been on my cell phone a few times when I've picked her up.  Oops.
  • I sent her to school in her stupid puppy flip flops because it was easier than arguing with her.
  • I often linger too long when saying goodbye.  Mother's guilt.
  • I sent her to school once with this chicken toy that dances and sings the chicken dance.  It is very annoying.
  • Thi Thu helped me make their Christmas candy.  And I told them that.  In fairness, I washed her hands before we baked.
  • There are many times when I've picked her up in workout clothes.  Give me a break on this one.  I should shower, redo my makeup, and put nice clothes back on just to look good when I pick her up?  Sorry, don't agree with that one.
  • I've chatted with other moms at pick up.  Yes, I expect the teacher to still help me watch her.  My childcare bills are nearly as much as a house payment, so I have no remorse about that expectation.  Don't agree with that one either.
How about you all?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Selfishness Abounds

I am feeling much better since the end of my red days (kind of like Picasso's blue period).  Wow, was that a bout of grouchiness and self-pity!  However, the one thing I can't shake is the white-knuckle fear I have about having another baby.  For the most part, having an almost three-year-old is really easy, comparatively.  She dresses herself, bathes herself, feeds herself, uses the restroom independently, sleeps until 7 a.m., etc.  It took three very tumultuous years to reach this point, and I am just trying to gear myself up to do it all over again.

Thinking about this at 2 a.m. last night, I realized that selfishness has crept back in.

Now, I was never the mom who felt selfish about time to myself to shower, watch t.v., go to the movies, spend time alone, etc.  The two things I am most selfish about are sleep and food.  I don't like to give up sleep.  It is such a joyous thing.  The other is food.  I'll be honest, I am resentful that I have to share my drink, my fries, the last bite of my apple slathered in yummy peanut butter.  This is the hardest thing for me.

I'm curious, for you other parents or future parents-to-be, what are the things you are still selfish about or think you will be selfish about?

Now, I'm off to gorge myself with whatever food I can find since I have some peace and quiet and no little hands to steal from me.  After that, I might take a nap.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank You, I Know I'm Huge

Okay, with six weeks left to go in this pregnancy, I think it is a good time to remind people that:

  • Yes, I realize how big I am.  Every morning is a battle to find a pair of MATERNITY pants that fit.  Maternity.  Doesn't that imply that they should fit during pregnancy?
  • Yes, I'm as uncomfortable as I look and I am in pain.  I'm trying to stay quiet about it, but if you insist on mentioning how miserable I look, you are going to get a miserable response.
  • No, I don't know any more than you do if the baby is coming soon. 
  • No, I no longer care what I look like.  This includes my hair, my makeup, my clothing, and my flat shoes that barely fit my swollen feet.
  • No, I am not bigger than last time, nor am I that much bigger than I should be at this point.  But thank you for asking.
  • Yup, I am incredibly grouchy.  Get over it.
I would like to start my own list of things to never say to a pregnant woman.  I'll get to that as soon as I'm done feeling grumpy (probably in about 1 1/2 years).  Here are a couple that are recommended reading for any of you who are in contact with an expectant mother:

This article is a little wordy, but content is good, in my opinion.

This one boils it down to a top ten, a la David Letterman.


There really is nothing worse than a long, drawn out meeting when you've missed breakfast and your little one decided this was a good morning to start the day with a meltdown.
Luckily I have apple, will travel.

I'm going to do a little research on things to do during meetings, but, in the meantime, I am interested in your funny and/or helpful ideas. 

A haircut that is helpful when you want to be incognito during your meeting naptime:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poll Results for "Are You Brutally Honest?"

I love useless statistics.  Here you go:
Yup, I always call 'em like I see 'em. - 42% (3)
Eh...sort of. - 57% (4)
Heck no, honesty only gets you black eyes and bruises. I just say what people want to hear. Life is easier that way. - 0% (0)

Crazy Street Vendors

If you've traveled internationally, you know some of the best food in the world is from street vendors.  You also know it is eat at your own risk.  Now, I've had some interesting albeit unidentifiable food from street vendors, but I have never had an experience quite like the one I read about today on parent dish.  Apparently some [supposedly] unaware preschool teacher bought brownies from a street vendor in L.A. and took them to work to share with her colleagues.  They soon began to complain of "giddiness, dizziness, dry-mouth -- and the munchies."

Now, I don't want to judge because we have all done stupid things in our lives, but how could you not be just a tad suspicious of brownies from a street vendor in L.A.?

Too funny.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't Get Me Started

...on nutrition!  Ah, one of my favorite topics, and one of the least favorite topics of those who know me.  I admit, I can be a tad (no need to be brutal with me here people, I know what you will say) preachy about the need to have a healthy diet.  It has not helped that I recently caught the tragic story, Half-Ton Mom, on TLC and the disgustingly graphic special Science of Obesity on the National Geographic channel.  I almost had to turn off the Science of Obesity during the part when they showed an MRI of an obese woman with 60 lbs of rotted food in her intestines.  The Dairy Queen hot fudge sundae suddenly felt very heavy in my stomach (I admit, pregnancy has robbed me of my normally fastidious diet - count me in as one of the guilty, gluttonous Americans).

Thank you to my colleague at work for giving me more fodder with which to torture friends and family.  New York Times author Michael Pollan wrote an article in which he makes the case for taking a more pointed look at eating habits in America as part of health care reform.   Here, here!

Which reminds me of another favorite I need to add to my list.  Although I am not a big fan of juice (try to push water or milk on my poor child whenever possible), I do like the concept behind this product, The Switch, which is apparently being advocated as a soda replacement in some schools.  Still as many calories and nearly as much sugar as soda, but at least it is natural and has some redeeming qualities.

Now where did I put that Aspartame infused, Venezuela-declared "health threat" Coke Zero of mine?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things

This post is a little off-topic, but might be a nice intermission piece after a series of more contemplative posts.

I have stumbled across a few new things lately that have made my list of favorites, and wanted to share:

As someone who tries my best to watch the nutritional content of our food, I've been on a quest to find natural peanut butter that doesn't have that disgustingly dry taste and texture or nasty separation.  I stumbled across a natural peanut butter (no hydrogenated oils, gluten free, no high fructose corn syrup) that doesn't require refrigeration, doesn't separate, and tastes better than regular peanut butter!  My favorite is The Bee's Knees.  The company is called Peanut Butter & Co and I was able to find it in our local grocery store.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Honestly Grateful

I awoke this morning after a night of restless sleep due to the six-point turns I have to make to turn over in bed.  It is like backing a semi-trailer into a "Compact Only" parking space in New York City.  Feeling big, grumbly, and just generally uncomfortable, I had the sense that this could be a miserable day.

Just as I was at the peak of feeling sorry for myself, an angelic little face holding a well-worn puppy dog greeted me with a matter-of-fact "I need to go potty."  I proceeded to execute (rather skillfully) my six-point turn and hoisted myself out of my comfortable bed.  Just a few moments later, as I listened to her laugh and watched her welcome the morning with joy and openness, I realized just how much attitude influences the day.

The discomfort and pain of my state is just a reminder that a healthy baby girl is growing inside of me, relying on me to keep her safe and healthy.  I am reminded of dear friends who would love to feel that discomfort, if it meant everything would be okay.  Dear friends who are so filled with love and gratitude despite their own loss and their own pain.  Out of love and respect for them, I am honestly grateful this morning.

If you are in the market for a charity to support, here are a couple that have been top of mind for me lately:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

March of Dimes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Honest Feedback

One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband was because of his direct, candid, yet somehow funny and loving manner of communicating.  He can tell you that you look atrocious in something, yet make you laugh as he tells you.  Thai is one of those people everyone loves, despite the fact that he holds no punches and makes no apologies.  He is that person we all want to be - so cool and so whatever.  He is the perfect example of  brutal honesty that is well deserved, well delivered, and [usually] well received.

Brutally honest feedback I have received from him includes:

"No, you cannot wear that to work.  It just doesn't work on you."

I should mention that part of what makes him effective at giving brutally honest feedback is that he is short, to-the-point, and leaves no question as to his meaning or intent.

"You've got to stop whining about that.  Get over it."

Now, you see how in print these little nuggets of feedback seem so harsh?  It is amazing how suave he is with delivery, because when I received these messages, I just complied and moved on.  Also, I found him even more endearing after receiving such blunt honesty.

Who gives you brutally honest feedback and what is the best piece of feedback you have received?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Take a poll!

Brutal Honesty Poll

Doing for Myself

Well, I've waited hopefully for some sign of life out there, but it appears I am writing this sad little blog for me and me alone. Instead of throwing in the towel (which I seriously considered) I have decided to plug ahead. At the very least, I can work on my writing skills and may have something that I can print and give to my dear children, who will likely file it away in the "useless stuff mom gave me that I can't throw away" drawer.

Speaking of doing things for me and me alone, have I mentioned how much I love the heightened level of aggression I've taken on during this pregnancy? What a great feeling, demanding what I want. On top of that, I don't care whether it ticks other people off *evil laugh*. So lovely.

After recently reading a series of blogs about the horror of adjusting to a second child, I think I am going to spend the remaining few weeks of my pregnancy relaxing and enjoying life as much as I can. I am treasuring this time by rocking my little girl in the morning as long as she wants me to, going to bed early and sleeping late, lazing around with my husband, and looking for ants with my daughter.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Heaven Is Like

Though I only have 32 short years of life on this earth to draw from, I am sure I have found bliss that cannot be surpassed. That bliss is the sound of my daughter's warm breath, the feel of her tiny hand in mine, and the aura of her sweet soul as she drifts off to sleep beside me. Those moments are so poignant and so bittersweet, because I am always thinking about how I can't capture them, hold on to them, prolong them, or save them for later, when she is no longer interested in being close to me or in holding my hand.

I think one of the biggest surprises from parenthood is the intensity of fear that comes along with it. There is a constant, nagging fear that you try to ignore. This fear that that joy could suddenly be taken away, or that something could harm this little being that trusts you so implicitly. The fear of them facing this harsh, harsh world.

But oh, how it is worth the bliss.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

(Temporary) Serenity

I need to report, in the spirit of honesty, that the last few visits to restaurants have been down right enjoyable.  Our little spitfire has been sugar and sweetness lately.  Now, we traded in wine bars for a hick *restaurant* (I use the term loosely here) and for a local Vietnamese restaurant.  Needless to say, she stayed in her seat and was just a little charmer.
These must be the moments my mother fondly remembers when she has that weird amnesia about all the crazy stuff we did as kids.  She has this selective memory that has allowed her to separate out these lovely parenting moments from those more challenging ones.  I think I understand....I feel that way today!  My brain is optimistic once again - I think those days of crazy restaurant behavior are well behind us (after just two positive experiences) and I am smug once again.
I think we'll take our daughter to an art opening Friday night.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trying to Pretend Wine Bars are Still Fun

Hmmpf. Well, I'm annoyed. Prior to having my daughter, I secretly cringed when parents told me in voices dripping with a condescending, all knowing tone, "Oh, you won't be going to those fancy restaurants once you have children." Whatever. Punks. I was beyond confident that I wouldn't succumb to that horrible parenting disease that makes you suddenly have intense adverse reactions to doing anything remotely resembling adult fun.

Here we are, two and a half years post those blissful, quiet, wine-filled childless years. I have stubbornly dragged my daughter to posh wine bars, sushi joints, fancy-schmancy restaurants, trips out of the country, and trips to the art museum. I must say, for the most part she does very well and actually enjoys these things (I swear I'm not just saying that to make myself feel less selfish).

I'm afraid we may have recently reached a turning point.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why do women lie to each other?

Honestly? Is it some kind of giant conspiracy like the Grassy Knoll? Everyone talks about how women lie to each other, but few women step up and say: "All right, I'll confess. I have a giant rear end that I squeeze in to Spanx every morning and I go to Mystic Tan every weekend so that people won't notice all the shaving scars on my ankles." Yeah, yeah. I know. There are some - Jenny McCarthy comes to mind. But she gets paid a heck of a lot of money to be funny and brutally honest. Plus, look at her! Who cares if she pooped on the table during labor? She is still hot.