Monday, November 26, 2007

Movin' on up

Hopefully I have enough faithful readers to notice that I've been gone from the blog world for awhile. "Awhile" as in a week, which is not a terribly long time, but I've missed this page like I've been gone for a month. There hasn't been any good place for me to vent lately. My husband looks at me like I'm crazy when I walk around the house and narrate my every thought. On a blog, it's considered "humor." In real life, it sounds a hell of a lot like "bitching."

So where have I been these long seven days? Moving. As in packing up every last bit of our lives and stuffing it into brown cardboard boxes marked Fragile. I remember moving when it was just the two of us in college: a few half-filled boxes, an old couch, and the back of a friend's pickup. Now it involves enough so much cardboard I'm afraid we've killed an old-growth forest and an entire 40-ft. semi-truck trailer. And about a dozen extra trips to pick up all the "little stuff" that somehow fills our entire garage. It's amazing. It's overwhelming. And we did it all during Thanksgiving!

It's fun to cook a turkey when you're not quite sure where all the pots and pans are. "You know, I'm not really sure we need mashed potatoes!" It does eliminate the excess. But we managed and somehow turned out a California-proper holiday dinner. Our new kitchen is big enough for more than a couple cooks, and also provides me the unique opportunity to chuck utensils at my husband's head while he sits on the couch watching football instead of helping in said kitchen. Actually, I must clarify that he was a really big help (he was the one who made the mashed potatoes) and he only spent about three plays on the couch, which didn't seem enough for him. Maybe next year he'll be able to watch a whole quarter without having to hear, "Daddy, can I watch Curious George now?"

So I'm back. Busy, but back. Expect lots of humorous descriptions of the moving process. Just don't call it "bitching."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Training Camp: Patience

It seems it's always a learning experience with my firstborn. Learning how to survive without sleep, how to change diapers in the dark, to eat dinner with one hand while standing up. And it's been about learning how to give up so much of myself.

The older he gets, the less it doesn't change. When he was a baby, it was about giving up the "me" time. The long showers. Reading before bed. Strolling through Barnes & Noble while sipping a peppermint mocha. Just being alone, period. But now that he's three and I'm looking back through my rose-colored glasses, I still had tons of "me" time. Really, I don't know what the hell I used to bitch about. He was the miracle baby who slept until nine or ten (AM!) regularly. He took three hour naps. He was in bed by seven. God, I had gobs of free time! I used to read the paper while sipping my coffee, wondering if I'd make it to playgroup in time! How spoiled was I?

Now I'm trying to deal with the constant shadow. The nonstop questions. The laying under me feet while I wash dishes. The playing with my hair while I talk on the phone. The sticking his fingers in my closed eyes at six-thirty in the morning. Compared to this, colic was a cakewalk. I struggle everyday to use my nice words. To not lash out. To count to ten and breathe, Lynda, breathe until you see spots in front of your eyes and you think you might pass out.

Tonight I nursed the baby to sleep while Carter poked my knees with some dead bug he found on the carpet. I leaned my head back and tried to go to my happy place, but it was nearly impossible to tune him out. I struggled with PJ time, teeth brushing, story time. It was nearly more than I could handle.

And then, just then, did he play his hand. He whispered, just as I was leaving his room, Do you know what, Mommy? I love you really much. I looked back to see my cheekbones and his daddy's dimples on his beautiful smile. It was all I needed.

It was all I needed to know that I am doing just right, no matter how crazy it feels sometimes. I am loved. And oh, so do I love him back.

No matter what time of the morning he sticks his fingers in my eyes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great site: The Visible Embryo

The Visible Embryo is a great site for those of you preggo mommies out there. Goes through each stage of development with actual sizes and incredible descriptions. The best site I've ever seen for checking out exactly what your baby looks like!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Motherhood Favorites: The PortaMEe Baby Carrier

I just discovered this great baby/toddler carrier that I think is going to be a must-have! It's called the PortaMEe, and it's a hands-free carrier with back support for babies up to 35 pounds. I don't know about you, but I have a heck of a time managing my sling/Snugli and lug my diaper bag on my back, all while holding my preschooler's hand. What I like about the PortaMEe is that it includes a center-flap wallet, cell-phone pocket, diaper pocket, and a hip-mounted bottle holster. There's no need for a bag! Perfect for those grocery store runs when your baby has hit the age where he doesn't want to sit in the carrier anymore. It's hard to grab canned foods from the bottom shelf while juggling your me.

With a 16 lb.-plus baby to lug around, I'm constantly ending my evenings moaning about how much my back hurts. My sling pulls on my upper back, and my Snugli does, too. The PortaMEe has "ergonomic lumbar support" with flexible padded bars. It provides fundamental eye-contact with your baby (What? There's spit-up coming from where?), includes infant head support, is nursing-friendly, and exceeds all ASTM soft infant carrier standards. That's a plus when you're reaching for the teething ring your baby's dropped for the twentieth time. I don't know about you, but I'm always a little freaked when I have to do that.

The only downside I can find to the PortaMEe is that it's got a pretty hefty price tag. It retails on their website for $180 (with a $700 courture version...just in case you're invited to Britney's next baby shower), which is a pretty steep price for a carrier. I think my stroller was less than that. I suppose you could forgo the Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag and spring for this instead, as they run about the same price. But the PortaMEe does support kids up to 35 pounds, so you may end up using it a lot longer than the sling or even the stroller.

Maybe I'll just have save up my Starbucks allowance for the next, uh, 35 or so weeks. Or wait for Brit's hand-me-downs...

Sunday Night Suppers: Taco Night

Here's a great fun, family recipe. The kids will love choosing their toppings, and the adults will like the fact they don't taste like Taco Bell tacos!


1 1/2 lean ground beef
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can green chili and onion diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
Flour or corn tortillas
1 can black beans
Toppings of your choice (tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, olives, avocados, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce)

Brown ground beef over medium heat with garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Heat black beans in small saucepan over low heat. Heat tortillas on cookie sheet in 250-degree oven for 5 minutes in between layers of wet kitchen towel (prevents tortillas from drying out). Spoon ground beef into tortillas, let everyone choose their toppings.

South-of-the-Border Side Dish

3 green onions
4 medium-sized zucchinis
3 yellow squash
1 cup sliced mushrooms
chili powder and cumin to taste

Saute green onions in oil, add zucchinis and yellow squash. Cook until zucchini begins to soften, add mushrooms. Continue cooking until zucchini turns opaque.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Somebody's watching me

So we've progressed in the potty-training department, and rather quickly, which is certainly something I'm going to give thanks about at the turkey table. We've got a week of poop in the potty. Wow! I never thought I'd be so happy about something like that! And it's so much better than poop in the underpants, poop on the floor, poop on the floor at a friend's house. Really, it should be called "house-training," because it's not much different than training the dogs. And they didn't take anywhere near this long to get it. Maybe I should try rewarding Carter with Milk Bones and leave him outside for most of the day...

The little guy's newest fascination, much to my chagrin, is watching other people poop in the potty. It started in public restrooms, and although we've all had a toddler stick his head under the door while we're in the stall, it's different when it's your kid. "No! We don't watch other people potty! Get your head back in here! Stop touching the floor; it's icky! Oh, God, don't put your hands in your mouth!" You get the drift.

This morning, we moved on to watching me go poop in the potty. I can honestly say that I haven't had viewers in my WC since I was about Carter's age (unless you include the dogs, who always seem to poke their head in the room. I must get better at locking the door...). But this was the first time I had a cheering section. I was even offered a lollipop reward for doing such a good job. I drew the line at standing up and letting him see just what came out. While I was planted on the porcelain throne with my own little fan section, I thought, Is this going to help him train faster? And if it's not, I'm locking him in his room next time. I mean, my dogs don't even like it when I watch them do it outside. It's kind of a universal thing for those of us in the mammal class: Don't watch me when I poop. Although there seems to be some sort of exception in the hoofed animal department, at least at the fair anyway.

And I'd never normally tell anyone anything about this, because it's a very personal moment and I'm very modest person, except for the fact that I have a blog and for some reason that means it's okay to write about going to the bathroom. But I guess what it all comes down to is that it's yet another way that I've become a mom. My life is lived in the open, as long as it's for the good of my child. There is no such thing as privacy when you have a three-year-old. I'm not quite used to the fact that anybody going potty in this house is a drop-everything, breaking-news moment. Give me a few years, and I'm sure I'll be forgetting to close the door when I'm in there.

My peers all seem to be parents, and this has led to a rather unnerving shift in cocktail party conversation. (As if I ever have the time to make a cocktail party. Now they're called "Down a Glass of Wine in the Kitchen while the Kids Trash the Living Room" parties.) But the funny thing I've noticed is that everyone I run into is going through this. We are all struggling with this change to our identities. We have all just recently arrived at the destination of parenthood, and we still seemed to be jet-lagged from the journey. But somehow the knowledge that we are not alone in this struggle is what makes everyday a little bit easier. We have entered the fraternity of having children, and the hazing is just beginning.

And that, my friends, is why I'm writing about poop. Just don't tell anybody my writing is crap.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Privy Prop

In this undated photo released by Jason Wulf, Jake Wulf, 9, demonstrates his 'Privy Prop,' a foot-activated toilet seat lifter, at his home in Odebolt, Iowa. He says he invented the prop because his mother would get angry when he forgot to put the toilet seat down. Wulf showed off his invention this week on the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show.' (AP Photo/Photo released by Jason Wulf)

From the AP Story on Yahoo News: ODEBOLT, Iowa - Jake Wulf wants to keep the lid
on it. The 9-year-old boy flushed out a plan for a foot-activated toilet seat lifter that is called the "Privy Prop," designed to lower and raise the toilet seat.

While her son, who is in the school's Talented and Gifted program, manages
assignments with ease, he has one weak spot: remembering to lower the seat after he's done, Beth Wulf said.

"My mom was getting mad at me for forgetting to put the toilet seat down and she was falling in," said Jake, a fourth-grader...

Now this is an invention I could really get behind (hee-hee). We're currently in the very early stages of reminding Carter to put the lid down. I feel like it's just going to be a personal mantra. I've already almost fallen in once, and the boy's only 3. My husband's always been great at putting the lid down. Seriously. I think, in the ten years we've been together, he's left the lid up only four or five times. I am so not kidding. How many of you women want me to give him a kiss for that? It's something I remind myself when I see the state of our garage. "Yes, I'll never to be able to park a car in here, but gosh, I never have to yell at him to put the seat down..."

Basically, little Jake has invented a toilet lid that works like the top of a trash can. Push the lever, it raises the seat. Let go of the lever, and the seat comes down. Jake and his invention will be featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday (11/9). I think the question that'll be on everyone's lips is, "How quick will this be on Target's shelves? Tomorrow? Please?"

Think of the harmony that could come to the world because of this invention. Women everywhere will have one less thing to nag their husbands about, and husband's everywhere would feel the joy of one less thing to be nagged about. I think Little Jakie might just be a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Read the whole Yahoo story here.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Learning to read

Starfall has a great page for beginning readers that's worth looking at. My husband didn't appreciate me logging on while he was trying to read(A for astronaut! X for Ox! How's that book goin', honey?), but preschoolers should enjoy the big pictures with matching sounds. You can click on any letter of the alphabet you'd like, and kids will like the big arrow "next page" buttons that are easy for them to use. Don't know if I should limit Carter's use of the site, though, I don't really want him reading this blog anytime soon...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Great Kids' Site

Kids Health is a great for kids site for those of you with older kids. Deals with everything you can think of regarding health, emotions, the body, exercise, recipes. I'd be totally into it if I were still 10!

Monday, November 5, 2007


Costumes are better in pairs...

Cool site for kids

Although I try to keep my little blogger-in-training away from the computer as much as possible, sometimes it's fun to play. Check out Bembo's Zoo anytime for fun animals made out of the letter of your choice. Something to occupy your little one's five-second attention span in the airport. Thank God for WiFi...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Playing Catch-up, Part Two

As I was spending the better part of my Saturday cleaning my house from top to bottom, or more honestly, just trying to put away most of our stuff where it goes or at least where we won't step on it and cleaning up most of the spilled milk and Cheerios off the floor so it won't crunch under our feet, I got to thinking about the role models us "housekeepers" have to choose from.

The Deity of Domesticity, Martha Stewart, is the most famous one that pops into my mind. That lady sets the bar way too damn high. I was reading an article about her in Good Housekeeping, about her bouncing back from incarceration, and whoa, was that a good reality-check for me. That woman may have gobs of cash, and her pantry and linen closets may look good enough to photograph, but she has no life. I mean, if you consider giving up on sleep to do your own beekeeping, you seriously need to consider how you define the good life.

I'm sure she started with the best intentions. She probably made some killer jams, maybe an awesome pie or two, and could organize like the dickens and thought, heck, I can make me some money doin' this. Or, more likely, she thought, I need to tell the world how to be organized, so everyone else will finally live by my ridiculous standards. Alright, that's a bit of the green, ugly monster talking, but what's sad to hear is that she lives alone and rarely has the time for friends. She says that she's too busy to have anybody visit. This is a women who, somewhere along the lines, got her priorities very, very confused. She believes her life is made up of cleanliness and organization, that if she does it perfectly it will be praised. But by demanding she live up to her own high standards, she alienated herself from the true joy of living.

Life is not meant to be perfectly presentable pantries or neat linen closets you can't live out of. It's not meant to be personal root cellars and greenhouses, spotless hand waxed wood floors, or sun-bleached sheets folded crisply on the bed. It's about enjoying the best life has to offer. And although each of those things is a joy in itself, the sum of perfection is that nothing is appreciated. When everything around you is too good to be true, it's overwhelming.

As women, we are constantly bombarded by glossy ads featuring spotless homes, handmade crafts, homemade foods. And the message is that if we don't do it all, if we don't live the same perfect life portrayed in the picture, then we are failing. Hell, if that were true, I'd be failing every day. Because we can't do it all, and nobody does. I can tell you that I make the most unbelievable homemade zucchini bread from scratch, but that's the one perfect thing I choose to bake. I use frozen pie dough because I can't use a rolling pin to save my life. The damn dough always sticks no matter if I use enough flour to coat every surface in the kitchen. I mop my floors about once a month, though I may have to raise my standards once Brody starts crawling. I don't iron. Ever. I love crafts, but honestly, who am I kidding? I didn't even have enough time to carve pumpkins this year.

Do you know what? My husband and kids don't care. We have a happy house, even if we sometimes have to move the laundry just to sit down and watch TV. There's somewhat healthy food in the fridge, and plenty of it, and it's not worth my time to organize my pantry because my son will just come in behind me and move my cake mixes to the canned goods shelf. Life is too short for perfect. Life is not organized. It's messy, chaotic, unexpected. No amount of organizing will change that or protect you from it.

And there's something that's darn cozy about curling up in a rumpled bed in the middle of the afternoon to read a book. That's what I call the good life.

Sunday Night Suppers

Here's a great one for a busy Sunday. Just throw in the crock pot and go.

Crockpot Chicken Marsala

1 medium white onion, sliced
1 cup carrots
1 Roasting Chicken, giblets removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup Marsala cooking wine
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary

Place onions and carrots in crock pot. Add chicken. Pour olive oil and Marsala over chicken. Rub chicken with garlic and rosemary. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 1 hour and low for 4 additional hours. Serve with rice or pasta.

Go enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I just was emailed a link to a great new site, Askville by Amazon. You can post any question you'd like and get the answers you need. Now if they could only tell me where my sanity went...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Playing Catch-up

We've just returned from a few days visiting family and friends and I feel like I've returned to the scene of a disaster. Somehow, while I was gone, a hurricane hit our family room. I really don't remember it being like this when we left. I know Carter had an accident, spilled some juice, broke into the Costco case of Granola Bites. I remember Brody's last diaper filling the diaper pail to its limit. I remember trying to finish the laundry so my husband and I would have at least some of the very limited amount of clothing we have clean and ready to wear for our trip. These things are a vague memory to me, but what I came home to is a completely different environment than that which I left.

The laundry somehow exploded all over the couch. There are at least twenty sleep-and-plays in various shades of blue all over the sectional. Tiny socks are scattered everywhere like shrapnel. There's a pumpkin kitchen towel on one of the arms, a size 3T pair of cords on the other, and one of my favorite long-sleeved T's on the floor, not to mention a trail of dryer sheets leading from the laundry room to the family room. I swore my husband took out the trash before we left, but there's a Nutri-grain wrapper on the coffee table, next to a sticky bowl of melted ice cream. Upstairs the bed is in disarray, with a down comforter and a tiger costume (?) on the floor and coffee cups littering the nightstand.

Do we really live like this? Sometimes it's a shock to come back to my own home. I used to be a neatnik, too neurotic for my own good, yes, but God, things were shiny. Do I really live in a house where every counter top is covered in crumbs? And it's not like I don't clean. Some days I think it's all I do. But there is a three-foot-tall boy who likes to follow immediately behind me and undo all of my hard work. Not to mention a six-foot-tall boy who seems to do the same.

Having two kids has been a great antidote for perfectionism. But who needs clean when I have two rosy, chubby-cheeked munchkins smiling at me all day. And there's not much I can do until they hit grow up and leave the house. They are boys after all...