Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nothing to Report

I invented a new salad today that was super good, so since I have nothing to report (in spite of the extremely busy weekend of running around and partying we had), I'm going to share it with you.

I cook by feel, so bear with me. You take 5 apples (I used two different sorts, one sweet and one tart. I actually picked these apples off of actual trees with my own bare hands, but if you're not feeling quite that Martha you can just go to the grocery store. I won't tell.) and you cut them into fourths, core them, and then cut them into bite sized chunks. Throw them into a bowl with water and lemon juice so they stay white. Then you take however much vanilla yogurt you happen to have in the house (it was about 3/4 of a cup, give or take), add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup (until it tastes faintly maple-y, but not like pancakes - you just want a hint), and then enough apple cider to thin it into a dressing consistency - again, it was a couple tablespoons. Drain the lemon water off of the apples, then pour the dressing over the apples and mix well, taking care not to bruise them. Then you add chopped walnuts and those yummy orange flavored craisins, and chill. Serve cold. Yum!

BJ's mom and Ken came down for lunch, and I served that salad with my favorite sandwiches (grilled bread, cheddar cheese, avacado mash, ranch, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, better than you can get at a restaurant, hubba hubba) for lunch, along with a carrot cake that I made with my own two hands. Unfortunately, the exertion of pretending to have things under control to this extent, combined with the rest of the weekend (see below), combined with having to lie down with each baby, separately, to get them to take their naps made me unconscious. That's right, I fell asleep right in the middle of her birthday visit, because I am the World's Worst Daughter-In-Law. So much for being Martha Stewart, I'm more like Rip Van Winkle.

Fortunately, BJ's mom had kids, too (obviously), so she understands... I hope.......

Yesterday we went to the Big City in the Middle for Caleb's birthday party - he turned one. His crazy parents got a 50 pound bag of flour and a tarp, and they let the kids play in it in the back yard, like a sandbox. It was really fun and messy. Then everyone hosed off and it turned to glue. Eek. Claire really liked the texture of the flour, but MG wouldn't go near it. She doesn't like to get dirty. Go figure. Fortunately I kept Claire out of the hose (too cold for babies) so she didn't get sticky. I smeared baby oil in her hair this morning (figuring that since oil removes adhesive, it would remove what was, essentially, paste) took a shower with her this morning and got it all off of her without any tears or frustration. She actually seemed to like the shower. This is a bit of a surprise, because MG screams like we're killing her whenever we try to put her in the shower.

Then last night, after a quick dinner, we went over to Brandon and Heather's to play a very evenly matched game of Trivial Pursuit - all three teams (we played couples with his sister and her husband) got to the center with all six pies at the same time. Brandon and Heather won, finally, which was expected because he is the master of all trivia. We laughed a lot; it was great fun.

Friday night BJ's dad and Nancy came down to watch the girls for us in exchange for dinner (baked ziti, also from scratch, I am bringing my "A" game, here) so that we could go see the play Hairspray at The Big School. It was terrific. One of the best features of living in a college town is all the great stuff to do - sports, plays, concerts, etc. - and it's nice to be able to take advantage of that stuff again. Mary Grace was up until 11 pm watching Lola, but it won't kill her.

You would think that being up until 11 pm on Friday and 10:30 pm on Saturday would cause her to sleep late, but no. She bounced out of bed at 6:30 am as always. I don't do mornings, so this is a source of a lot of conflict. I wish someone would give me a pill that would remove my need for sleep.

By the way, I hereby predict that my little ham is going to just love musical theater when she's old enough to appreciate it. It kind of runs in the family. I was in the local community theater production of The Sound of Music as a kid, as well as a few school things. My sister and I were in Oliver. My uncle has been doing community theater lately, although he tends to get typecast as the crazy uncle/nephew/brother (go figure). He was Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace. Doug - you'd make a great Edna Turnblad. You need to talk the theater guild into doing Hairspray just for you! I can see it now!! Anyway, a tendency toward the somewhat dramatic tends to run in the genes (I can hear how stunned you are, ha). Mary Grace is going to eat it up, I just know it. She's going to get one taste of applause, probably about 6 years from now, and there will be no stopping her. Mark my words.

The new TV season started this week, but we only had time to watch a couple of shows ("Heroes," which we watched last year, and "Chuck," which is hysterical). We recorded the rest. At the rate we're going, we'll have new television shows to watch all the way through until next season. I think we'll need a bigger hard drive. It's fine by me, though. I'd much rather live my life and have my own fun than watch other imaginary people living their lives and having fun.

Hopefully there will be more cute baby stories next week, to bring this blog back on topic. I just didn't want you to think that I'd thrown my back out with all this cooking or something.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Suitable for Framing

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Oh Baby!

When people ask me how much my kids weighed at birth, I joke that I only have one mold, because they were both 7 pounds, 3 ounces.

After reading this article, all I can say is, "Thank God!!!"

17.1 pounds is more than my two weighed combined! And remembering how uncomfortable I was at the end... Wow. I hope, for her sake, that she was "all baby." I gained the textbook 25 pounds both times (the only time in my life I have ever, ever done anything right regarding my weight...), and it was 7+ pounds of baby, 4 pounds of swollen ankle on each leg, a placenta and some fluid, maybe a wireless keyboard... Let's just hope that this poor Russian woman didn't gain proportionally to the size of the baby. Can you imagine the cankles on that one? Sheesh!

And speaking of weight - have you seen this yet? Apparently exercise will make you hungry, and even healthy, but it won't make you thin.

Now I can stop beating myself up over letting that gym membership lapse! Phew...

The good news:

He suggests taking a “homeostatic” view of the relationship between weight and workouts, one that sees lean people as those “whose bodies are programmed to send the calories they consume to the muscles to be burned rather than to the fat tissue to be stored.”

The bad news:

Since the primary regulator of this mechanism is insulin, Mr. Taubes suggests that cutting down on the simple carbohydrates and sugars that primarily stimulate insulin production—potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, sweets and beer—might actually help to keep pounds off.
We tried low carb once. It sucked rocks. Oh well, I'll stay fluffy.

WFMW: Responsible Holiday Shopping

BJ thinks that I am a total Grinch. The winter holidays make me lose my mind.

We've stopped buying individual gifts for some family members and friends, opting instead to agree to not exchange gifts, or to do a White Elephant, or to donate to charity instead, or some other variation that creates less debt (and less clutter). I have a master plan to give edible gifts to many of our friends this Christmas (we'll see how that works out - I'd give details but I don't want to spoil the surprise!). Even so, with creative gift giving, we still have a lot of people to exchange gifts with.

This year I plan to do the bulk of my holiday shopping online (because who wants to brave the Christmas crowds with two babies in tow? Not me!). I'm going to try to shop at places that give back a portion of the profits to charities I support. This way my gifts will serve a dual purpose - they'll make the recipient happy (I hope) as well as helping a worthy cause. In researching this for this post, I came across IGive, which is looking like an easy way to do this. We'll see if I can get my act together in time to do all my shopping there.

Shopping for a Cause Works for Me!

If you're here for WFMW, don't miss my other WFMW posts:

How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Monday, September 24, 2007

My favorite and my best...

As Lola would say, this is my favorite and my best:

After all, it makes perfect sense, considering that they are my world. I wonder how this would print out... I feel a trip to Shutterfly coming on.

I love this...

This is just too much fun...

My new favorite toy...

So yesterday I Stumbled Upon a program called Andrea Mosaic. Holy cow, is this cool! I picked a random "background" picture out of my Microsoft Clip Organizer, told it where my photos are, and put a bunch of miscellaneous numbers in the parameters (because I honestly had no idea what I was doing).

After a little over 5 hours (!!!) it spit this out:

Make sure you click on the photo so you can see the individual photos that make it up.

I am in love. How fun.

Here's the original picture, just for comparison:

Ok, that's odd. On my computer the yellow is black, but on here it's showing up yellow. Huh.

Anyway, it's too fun. I'm going to go play.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall Fell

I got kind of sick of the pink. What do you think of our new fall look? Too many different colors going on? I can't decide. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I am the least visual person in the universe, and that I can't decorate, dress, or match colors to save my life. Of the four rooms in my house that are painted, my mom picked the paint in two of them. I picked the paint in the kitchen (dark blue) and I don't like it anymore, and I picked the paint in the upstairs bathroom (light yellow) and it's fine. Mom picked the gray in the family room and the green in the girls' room.

The only reason the kids don't look like ragamuffins all the time is because kids clothes come in pre-matched outfits. I'm not kidding. There's a reason why I nearly always wear jeans - everything matches. I'm not colorblind, I'm just color stupid.

One of these days I'll figure out how to make the header the right size. How many pixels should it be, anyway?

We went out for supper tonight, and the kids were so good. Before we had kids, we used to talk about how we wanted to have kids who could behave in restaurants. It's one of the few plans we made before that we've actually been able to stick with. MG had fun with the peanuts (we went to Texas Roadhouse). Claire was fussyish, but she's teething, and she wasn't half as fussy as the kid at the next table, so it was ok. They both stole bites of my loaded sweet potato. It's really awesome, next time you find yourself there.

I decided on MG's Halloween costume last night. It's a surprise, though. It is going to be super cute.

Wow, is this a boring post. I'm going to go watch the Purdue game with BJ and MG.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lots O' Pictures

September has been a very photogenic month for the Prettybabies.

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WTF??? Expensive Gas

So I was sitting here finishing up that last post, when I felt something that I've missed... Something that I haven't felt in a little over 6 months.

It felt like a baby. Moving. On the inside.

I sat here, stunned, for a little while, and listened to my uterus. I didn't feel it again, but I knew that I had felt something. "Oh dear God," I thought, mentally calculating how far along I would be if I were already feeling it move, then calculating how old Claire and MG would be when this theoretical baby was born, if I am... "Oh dear God," I thought again.

The phone rang. It was my mom. "How are you?" she said. "Um...." "It's probably just gas," she said. "Let's hope so!" I said, running upstairs to grab a leftover pregnancy test. "We'll take this together," I said to Mom. "I can't do this by myself. I don't want to freak BJ out."

"How long do they take?" Mom asks. "Not long," I say. "Don't you have to do it in the morning?" "Not if I'm so far along that I can feel it!" "Haven't you been getting periods?" (Bye, Dad. TMI, I know...) "No. I have a Mirena (which I love), but you can get pregnant with one. It's uncommon, but not impossible. The doctor said that if I start to feel pregnant I should take a test, since it's possible, but I don't get sick, and I haven't had a period, but that could be because of the nursing or the Mirena or both..."

"Ok, it says...." (and then Mom's cell phone dropped, which was pretty funny - just like one of those commercials).

"YOU ARE?" she shouts through the static.

"No, no, no! I'm not! It's ok. I'm not pregnant!" Stupid highway 2. No signal. "I'm not, Mom. No baby."


It's going to get really expensive if I have to take a pregnancy test every time I have gas.

And even as I feel the relief wash over me, I start to feel a little sad, too. Can you believe that? With a 6 month old and a 2 year old, that I would be a little sad that I'm not 4 or 5 months (or so) pregnant? Claire would be about a year old, and MG would be about 2 and a half. I'd have 3 kids under 3. That would be insane.

"Insane, and fun," part of me whispers.

"And expensive!" my rational mind insists, "and I'd never sleep again!"

"Yeah," that voice whispers again, "but for a minute, you were excited, weren't you? Admit it. You kind of wanted it to be a plus. "

Yeah, I kind of did.


If that doesn't qualify for a "What the ... Friday???" I don't know what does.

Room Cleaning - a question!!!

Oooh! Another question! And a good one, too!

Dear Amy,

I would like to request some advice or suggestions. How can I teach Blaine to keep his room clean? He doesn't seem to mind the clutter at all. He's perfectly content with toys and crayons and legos and stuffed animals all over the floor. When I ask him (more like demand) that he clean up his room, everything gets thrown in the closet or in drawers...just out of sight, but not actually put away where they belong. First question: Is he too young (seven next month) to comprehend neatness and taking care of his things? Here's what we've tried: a) eliminating seldom used items...old toys and old books. b) I bought organizing tubs and stackable drawers for craft/school supplies, action figures, and legos. A few of these work, but not all the time. I've even tried to approach small tasks each night to eventually reach a clean room by the end of the week.

A little background info: he is an only child and an only grand child on his dad's side...he has a lot of stuff. I have convinced the family to buy less at holidays and birthdays and come up with more creative gifts such as gift cards to the movies and book stores and since his dad and I are divorced, some of his "stuff" stays at his dad's now. What a run-on. And I feel like you should know...I am sort of a neat freak. Some might even say a little OCD. Everything else in the house has it's place and it gets put back when not in use. I won't go into a lot of detail, but I don't want this to spill over to Blaine. It's not a bad thing, it's just the way I am. However, am I expecting too much of Blaine because of my obsession? ;-) Some things about parenting come so naturally, yet others stump the heck out of me.

Second question: Is it really that big of a deal yet? I don't want him to feel like it's boot camp at home. Because, let me tell ya, he gets away with everything at his dad's. But I can't really blame Aaron, he only gets him four days a month. So, by no one's fault - Dad's has become the fun place and Mom's has become the place where there are rules. Now that I've written a you have any suggestions? Please speak bluntly or openly...I wouldn't be asking if I didn't want the truth! Maybe it's as simple as - it's a boy thing.

If I were in your shoes, I would totally send all the toys with small parts to Dad's, but I'm hostile like that. Hahaha...

Ok, seriously... I think the belief that "it's a boy thing" is the reason why so many of us (not me of course, but a lot of my friends...) have husbands who refuse to help around the house, so we're not going to buy that excuse around here. Someday your future-daughter-in-law will thank you if you teach your little guy good habits now! It's never to early to start, but you have to have realistic expectations. It's going to be a while before you can say, "Go clean your room!" and have him do it to your standards. It'll be even longer before you don't have to remind him. My mom will tell you that I was about 29 when I was "old enough" to do that. ;)

And, boy howdy, do I know what you mean about grandparents. We keep almost all the toys in the toy room (because we have a 2 story house, and I don't want MG playing upstairs on her own just yet), and people come in and say, "Holy God, look at all the toys!" (or, more often, "Too bad your kids are so deprived," sarcastically...). I can count on one hand, though, the number of toys that we have purchased for our kids - the rest are gifts and hand me downs. My girls have 3 living great-grandmothers, 4 grandmothers, and 3 grandfathers, plus a full compliment of aunts and uncles. They are sPoiled, with a capital P, that rhymes with T, that stands for toys!

So, what to do? Well, I think you're on the right track with having lots of tools (bins, etc.) available for him to put things into. After all, how could you clean your kitchen if you didn't have any cabinets... It's only fair to give him "cabinets" (in the form of drawers and bins) for his stuff. Do you see the bins in our toy room, with all the bright colors? I got that thing on sale at Toys R Them for $25, and I wish I'd gotten all three of them. It is FABULOUS. They sell them at Amazon, too, but they're a little pricier. Still, totally worth it, because MG can put things in there herself, without any help from me (not that she does, but we're working on it). No lids to get in the way, and things look neat. Bonus - the toys are visible, so they get used more often. Things in bins with lids tend to be forgotten.

I think the key is to break the task up into small chunks. "Hey, Blaine. Can you go pick up your Legos?" is a much easier request to comply with than, "Hey, go clean your room!" And the more specific you are, the better. "Blaine, can you put all the Legos in this bin?" is even easier than, "Pick up the Legos." Make it easy for him to succeed.

Another way to make it easier for him, and more fun (for him), is to do it with him. However, if you say, "Let's go clean up the Legos!" you know that you're going to end up doing all the work while he sits there and watches you. So make it a contest... "Blaine, do you think you can clean up the Legos faster than I can clean up the crayons?" Keep doing that until he loses interest.

A lot of parents I know have had success with setting a timer. The goal being to clean for 5 minutes (you'd be amazed at how much you can do in 5 minutes - I do this with the house all the time, and I swear I can unload and load the dishwasher in 4 minutes. I can take a shower in 3 and a half...). If you did 5 minutes before dinner, and 5 minutes before bed every night, I'll bet it would stay cleaner (especially if you clean his room today, then start doing this tomorrow).

And of course, you want to reward good behavior. Rewards don't have to be big. But if you walk by, and you know he's been playing in his room for an hour, and it's still clean, saying, "Wow, your room looks great! Let's go get an ice cream cone!!" will go a long way toward making him want to keep it that way on his own. Heck, if BJ bought me ice cream cones for doing laundry, I'd do it more often (and I'd weigh 10,000 pounds).

His room may not stay "clean," but it should stay "cleaner" with these hints. If it's really driving you insane, you might try The House Fairy. While I don't have any experience with this program, specifically, it was created by the same people who did Flylady and Saving Dinner. I've used both of those with great success.

Good luck!

Readers - leave further suggestions in the comments!

If you have a question for me, write to Dear Amy at The people in my life who have been the unwilling recipients of years of advice are more than happy for me to get it out of my system with willing recipients!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


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6 months comparison

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It's 2:40 pm. Mary Grace is playing quietly all by herself. Claire is asleep in the swing. I am taking a deep breath, enjoying a few minutes of peace, when all of a sudden, Max starts freaking out.

Two 18 year old kids in shirts and ties are walking up to my front door. Max is barking like a wolf who hasn't eaten in days. The kids are unphased. They continue to my door.

Claire begins to wail.

"OH NO YOU DIDN'T," I shout, channeling my inner Jerry Springer guest. "You two just woke up my baby, so you can keep right on walking, because I am NOT going to become a Mormon today! Max, outside!" I yell, through the open screen door, when what I really want to yell is, "Max, LUNCH! And later you can floss with their ties."

Another peaceful afternoon ruined by the Door-To-Door Mormons.

Between this and the Kirby Vacuum Incident, I think I'm going to have to get one of these for the front yard:

WFMW: Only you can prevent dryer fires

Uncle Brandon writes:

So I came home from class yesterday morning and I smelled this awful burning smell in the house. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from so I called Heather to see if she had used any appliances that morning. Turns out she had used the dryer. Sure enough, the smell was horrible when I opened the front of the dryer. I got the kick panel off of it and found to my horror that it was absolutely full of now-burnt dryer lint. I talked to Whirlpool on the phone and they said that if your dryer vent gets full, the lint that gets through can back up into the dryer. You're apparently supposed to check your vent every two years. I had no idea. I connected the dryer to the existing vent when we moved in and never thought about it again. So I got under the house and sure enough, the cheap plastic venting that the former owner had put in place was 100% full of lint. There was no way that air could move through there with any kind of flow. No wonder it was taking our clothes so long to dry - we thought the dryer was going out. So I'm in the process of installing all new, metal venting to try and keep this from happening again. Long story to get to the question - have you checked your dryer vent lately? Because our house could have potentially burned down from something I never even thought about.

Sure enough, folks, BJ checked our dryer vent this weekend (and here I was, looking forward to an excuse for a laundry strike...) and found about 3 cups of lint. We've only lived here for a few years, too. So, today's WFMW tip is, "Check your dryer vent for lint, because not having a house fire works for me!"

If you're here for WFMW, don't miss my other WFMW posts:

How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bill Maher thinks I'm a narcissist

Fast forward to 7:15 to see the part that I'm talking about...

Dear Mr. Maher,

You know, before I had kids, I had a lot of theories on how "good parents" should behave, too. I understand that a man such as yourself, who does not have children might think that bearing and raising a human from birth to adulthood is something "a dog could do." You have also said that having two dogs is like having two "retarded children." So obviously your ideas about what it is like to have kids, with disabilities or otherwise, is at least (and I'm being generous here) a little naive...

And I'm even willing to cut you a little slack because you live in LA, and you're in show business, and in your schema of the world it would make sense that the only reason a woman would bear her breasts would be for attention.

I'll even be so generous as to give you a little more slack because you're a libertarian, and this condition causes stupid things to come out of your mouth with alarming frequency. You really can't help it, can you?

So, even though the grain of salt with which I watched your show was big enough to play soccer with, you still honked me off.

Want to know why? Because you implied that women, like myself, who think that breastfeeding in public is a right, only have enough brain cells to have one opinion. That is insulting. That because I devote a little blog space to saying, "Hey, you can't see anything but shirt and baby head when I nurse my kid, as opposed to most magazine covers and TV commercials where you can see everything but the nipple, so shut your pie holes, already..." I must not have opinions about "larger issues" like politics and the war and so on.

Please. I would argue that having children makes me more likely to care about larger issues, because I don't want my kids living in a world that stupid old men, like yourself, have screwed up. My progeny are going to inherit this earth, after all. Your personal stake in issues like global warming and long-term political consequences will end in another 20 or 30 years.

What I'm saying is that we moms are capable of caring about more than one issues. In fact, most moms I know care a lot about many issues. To reduce us all to one single cause is demeaning, inaccurate, and sexist.

We're mammals, Mr. Maher. Our mammary glands are designed to feed babies. The formula industry has done such a fantastic job of convincing people like you that formula is better for our kids (or cleaner, or more sanitary, or more modest, or whatever...) that in spite of the overwhelming evidence showing that breastfeeding is infinitely more healthy than formula feeding, people like you still give us a hard time.

I'm not lazy or unprepared when I feed my kids in public - I'm feeding my kids. I planned ahead, by bringing my breasts, so that I can feed them. Not all babies will take a bottle. Not all women can pump. Your ignorance of the situation, though, is understandable. Like I said, above, you don't have kids.

Please try to be more informed, in the future.



Sunday, September 16, 2007

We gotta quit letting people in...

We are too damn nice in this house. Seriously. I spent Claire's entire nap yesterday not buying a vacuum.

Why would I waste a precious nap not buying a vacuum, you ask? Because BJ let the salesmen in the house while I was putting Claire down for nap, and neither one of us could be mean enough to kick him out after he said, "I don't get paid unless I make 30 of these nasty little circles of dirt and show them to my boss..." I'll get to an explanation of that in a minute.

Nevermind the fact that I have a Dyson Animal. Nevermind the fact that I don't have $2000 to shell out for a new vacuum (I love how people think that "making payments" = free money. Hello! If I had $2000 to spend right now, or $2500 over the next 3 years, I can think of about 9 zillion things I'd rather do with it than vacuum!) Nevermind the fact that while the kid was here doing his demo, I was on Ebay finding the exact same vacuum for a fraction of the price. ("Those are stolen," he insisted. Yes, because most crooks go for the 20 lb. vacuums when they're stealing things. Why waste time on jewelry and cash and flat panel TVs when they can boost a vacuum and sell it on Ebay!)

I should start at the beginning. So he comes in and uses my vacuum, going over the same spot 30 times. Ok, fine. My carpet is a wreck. This is not news. It's the cheapo berber from Menards, probably 99 cents a yard, and it's laid down on the slab. That's right, no pad. Just carpet on concrete. And now you know why my kids have so many bruises. Anyway, we also have a dog and a cat and a cold, and it wasn't vacuumed recently. I figure I'm helping the kids build immunities. They won't have asthma because their little immune systems get a great workout living in my house...

Anyway, so he put this doodad on the vacuum that collects the crud on a paper filter, instead of in a bag. He vacuums for 2 seconds and pulls out the filter, and it's nasty. Super nasty. I don't even like thinking about it. And he did it over and over and over again, and I started to get a little queasy.

"Dude, no matter how many of those little circles you make, I still don't have two large to buy a vacuum," I say, because saying it in English didn't work the first forty times, I figure maybe if I speak a little more street, he'll catch my drift (especially if his street speak is circa 1991, like mine).

He continues making little circles. The area grows larger. More circles. Lots of them. Stacked up in front of the door, preventing us from exiting the room.

I try arguing with him. I try explaining our financial situation (if it were a federal threat level, we'd be on red). I try ignoring him (walking over to the sink to get myself a glass of water, and he asks for one too! This is where I should've just thrown him out).

Finally I say, "Look, man, just call your boss and go away, because we're not buying."

So he called his boss, and we had to do the song and dance with him, too.


I talked him down to $800 before we finally got them to go away, though, so next time you need to buy a car, take me with you.

I'll bring my Dyson.

Drastic Measures

As you can see, we've resorted to drastic measures in order to minimize the spread of germs around here.

We're all recovering. Wow, have we used a boatload of Kleenex, though. Geez. Seems like all I've said to BJ the last few days is, "Can you hand me a Kleenex?" Poor BJ. I used to whisper sweet nothings into his ear. Now our relationship has been reduced to, "Can you hand me a Kleenex?" and "It's your turn to change the baby," and "Can you hold this kid for me?"

Ah, parenthood...

We've rented a couple of movies from that $1 box at the grocery store - last night we watched "An Inconvenient Truth." Hello, now I'm depressed. I really hate hot weather, folks. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself if the average temperature goes up five or ten degrees. I don't wear shorts. This could be a serious problem. And I really feel bad about the polar bears. I mean, seriously... What did they ever do to us? Poor polar bears. And don't even get me started on the penguins.

So, we're going to start eating less meat, and I'm going to go get a blanket for our hot water heater. We already replaced our furnace and AC with high efficiency models this year (a drastic improvement over the 1970s era furnace and AC that we had before). I really hate the look of those florescent bulbs, but the lights are almost always on in the kitchen and dining room, so we should probably put those in these two rooms, at least.

It just seems like the things that we can do are so small... That they won't really matter. But if we all make small changes, it'll make a big difference. Right?

Claire woke up toward the end of the movie, so I just went to bed, figuring that I had had enough gloom and doom for a Saturday night. So, this morning I came downstairs and said to BJ, "So, how did the movie end? Did Al Gore save the world?" If only it were that easy.

How different would the world be right now if he had won the election? Well, he kind of did. Ok, how different would the world be right now if the Supremes had voted him in instead of W? That's a thought experiment for you...

Friday, September 14, 2007


Oh, gentle readers, it is a sad, bad day at the house of Prettybabies. No one got any sleep. We all have it. The doctor's office says it's a virus. I think they need a drive-thru, where I can put $20 in a machine, and it can say, "It's a virus, there's nothing we can do, keep doing what you're doing, lots of rest and fluids," because that's all I ever hear from them.

We are running dangerously low on Kleenex and chicken soup, and are completely lacking orange juice. We need popsicles and infant tylenol. And since I have to go in to work and run payroll and do the taxes (which involves a trip to the bank, too), anyway, I guess it will fall to me to brave the world and go to the store. Ugh. I'm waiting till BJ gets up, though, because there's NO WAY I'm taking the kids.

Being a Mom sucks rocks, sometimes, because there are no sick days.

Spoke too soon

Remember in Claire's 6 month note down there, where I said she was as healthy as a horse and hadn't been sick a day...

Yeah. Murphy got me for that one.

It is currently 2:33 am, MST (Mommy Standard Time) and I am up because Claire and I can't breathe. After it took 90 minutes to get MG to bed, despite a massive dose of Benedryl (which was completely medically indicated, by the way, because without it she'd have been snoring like an old man. With it she was only snoring like me), I'm not going to risk waking her up.

Claire's in the Neglect O'Matic, and here I am, waiting until she falls asleep so that I can go to sleep.

BJ has it too.

This could seriously interfere with our weekend plans. *pout*

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What is your sleeping style?

Check out this website:

Clearly these folks don't have kids. This is our sleep style:

P.S. and by the way, who are all you people searching for bananas? Seriously, I am getting dozens of hits a day because of the banana picture I used on the post about frozen bananas for teething babies. It is too weird. I feel like singing "Day-O" or something. Tally me bananas! Hey, whatever... Keep 'em coming. I made like four whole cents with my ads today. :)

My, how you've grown!

Claire Bear! You are already 6 months old!

You've already changed so much. You're sitting up (still need a little help getting there, and staying there, but you can sit for a few seconds), rolling over, and pushing up when you're on your tummy. You're starting to act like you're going to crawl. You already love to play in the walker and the exersaucer (although you are stuck in reverse, and haven't figured out how to walk forward in the walker yet!).

You like to eat bananas, especially frozen. You also like yogurt and applesauce. I've been letting you teeth on carrots, which seems to feel good to you. You haven't gotten any teeth yet, but you're working on them! You're doing a lot of chewing and drooling. Any day now, they're going to push through. Hopefully we'll get a break before you start the next pair.

You are as healthy as a horse. Knock on wood, you haven't been sick at all since you were born. Fall's coming, and your sister and I are already coming down with colds. Hopefully you will continue your trend and escape the germs.

Your smile is as big as you are (as you can see above). I just love to make you smile, and to hear your chuckley little laugh. You also give the most wonderful squishy open-mouthed kisses. I have to rub them in, but they're wonderful.

You are a terrific sleeper (you slept until 10 am today!). You have such a sweet, easy going temperament. You love your sister so much, and I can see that you're just itching to chase after her and play. One of your favorite things to do is dance with her - Dad or I will hold you up and wiggle you while Mary Grace dances in the living room, and you laugh and laugh. You also like to bounce on the bed. We'll put our hands on either side of you and bounce, and it makes you giggle.

You also like to sing. Whenever we're in the car with the radio on, you sing along. You haven't learned the words, yet, but you yodel enthusiastically. You're not quite talking yet, but we're working on "mama" and "dada." It wouldn't surprise me at all, though, if your first word was "sis," because you think she's a lot of fun.

You are so special, and we love you so much. Happy half-birthday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wow, I'm mouthy today...

Ok, you really wouldn't believe how clean my house is and how un-neglected my kids are, considering the amount of posting I've done today. I promise, though - the kids are fine and the house is immaculate (yeah, right...).

Anyway, I think that this article at (one of the smartest websites out there) is really important, and worth reading.

Go on and read it. I'll wait.

Ok, first of all I have to admit that I have snickered at Britney along with the rest of the world. I like a little good schadenfreude just as much as the next girl. Britney Spears was so spectacularly popular, and her fall has been so spectacularly tragic. You can't help but slow down and stare, just like you do on the highway when you see an accident. It is totally human nature. I am not judging anyone who does this, because I do it too.

However, however... I am a mother of daughters. As a mother of daughters, I am horrified by what we are teaching them to value in this culture. I've written about this before. It still bugs me.

I want my daughters to value creativity, achievement, effort, learning, curiousity, self-respect. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to feel good about themselves, both inside and out. I want them to feel pretty because they are, not because it's a means to an end. I want them to know that they can do anything they want, that they don't need a man's approval or permission to be who they are. If they want to be scientists or engineers or pioneers or stay at home mothers like me, I want them to know that that's fine, as long as it makes them happy. I want them to make choices based on what they think they can do, not based on what society gives them permission to do, or not do.

I want to tell Britney Spears to slow down. I want to give her a hug and say, "What are you doing to yourself?" I want to teach her that she doesn't need to display herself the way she does, in revealing outfits and while getting out of cars. I want to explain to her that she's worth more than that, because she is. I want to encourage her to find her talent and start doing things, again, that she'll be proud of - that her kids will be proud of. I want to encourage her to straighten herself out and become a role model that I can encourage my children to follow.

Because if there's anything that our culture likes more than an "oh, how the mighty have fallen," story, it's the one where the mighty fall, and then they hit bottom, and then they redeem themselves and come back better than they ever were. Those are the stories that give us all hope, and I'll take hope over schadenfreude any day.

Why is Amy reading Men's Health?

Wow, is this a great article!

I'm already a fan of parsnips, squash, and other "odd" veggies. Can't wait to try beets this way, or Swiss chard!

Today is Farmer's Market day, too. Maybe I'll get lucky and find some there.

WFMW: Using Google Calendar for Family Organization

I know I already wrote, once, about using Google Documents to manage your grocery list. I guess if I do WFMW much longer, it's going to become clear that I'm totally Googlified. My whole life revolves around my Google stuff, and if they ever take it away, I will be lost. LOST!

Anyway, in Google Calendar you can set up an infinite number of calendars (at least, I haven't reached the limit yet!), so why not set one up for each kid, color code them, and put each kid's activities into their own calendar? Share it with Dad, and get him to put his work calendar in there too, on its own color. Poof! Suddenly you have color coded calendars for everyone, that you can use to keep yourself from losing your mind! Dad never misses another soccer game, because he can access the schedule from work.

My kids are small, so mainly I put doctor visits and trips to the infant labs at the local university (where they are lab rats every once in a while, to earn books - too fun!). When they have a doctor's visit, I put their height and weight in the notes on that appointment, so the next time I need their weight, I can just go into the last appointment and find their most recent measurements. If I get a new dose for Tylenol or Motrin or any other medication, I put that in there too, so I don't have to remember it. As they grow, I'll already be used to using this system. It will adapt to (and we won't get overwhelmed by) new responsibilities once they're in school and sports and lessons and everything else. Nothing irritates me more than having to find a new "system."

But wait, there's more! Why limit yourself to activities? Set up a separate calendar for your meal planning, and put each day's menu, color coded, into your main calendar. No more, "What's for dinner, Mom?" because everyone knows. Set up another calendar for due dates - put the date that you need to return library books, videos, borrowed items from friends, etc. into that calendar, so you don't forget and incur late fees. Set up a calendar for the due dates of your bills. Set up another calendar with kid-friendly local activities, so you never miss another fair or festival. There are a million possibilities.

After using GCal for a while, now, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go back to a paper calendar again. It is just too convenient. Being able to access it from anywhere is amazingly convenient. The e-mailed reminders are a lifesaver. I seriously don't know what I would do without it!

If you're here for WFMW, don't miss my other WFMW posts:

How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Update: Burning Out Eyes

I have it on authority from my actual mom that even though I am 31, sitting too close to the TV will still burn out my eyes.

She also continues to insist that putting chocolate in milk takes out all the vitamins (or makes them so you can't absorb them, or some other pseudo-scientific momism that cracks me up).

And penguins will, in fact, come out of the refrigerator if you leave the door open too long. Unfortunately, telling MG this will inevitably result in her standing in front of the fridge, door wide open, shouting, "Penguins! Where are you!? Here Penguins!" until the power company comes to take possession of our house in order to pay our electric bill, so I've bitten my tongue when this Momism has tried to surface.

We took a picnic to the park for lunch today and heard rumors about a circus at the mall. (The sleeping pig was awake, by the way, which totally messes up our nicknames. I still think he gets to be the sleeping pig, even if he does occasionally wake up and eat lunch.) So, after the park we drove down there (1/3 of us were naked at this point, I'll let you guess who played in the fountain until she was soaked through, and had to ride home in a blanket), and sure enough, a circus had grown right between Bed Bath and Beyond and the mall! Someone must have planted a Circus Peanut.

So, of course, we went. It was AMAZING! (according to MG). I love seeing things for the first time with her. It's so much fun to re-live the magic of childhood with her. We managed to get in for less than half price, because I balked at the $48 admission fee. The woman selling tickets gave me coupons for a free kid's admission and a BOGO adult admission - the five of us got in for $20, but we spent the other $28 on sno-cones and popcorn and hot dogs and cokes and coloring books, and so on. I think they kind of figured that it would go that way...

We did not let MG ride the elephant because, even though she thought she wanted to, she would've flipped right out as soon as she got on the poor thing, and we would've been out $10 ($5 each, one for her, one for one of us to hold her while she screamed), she would've scared the poor elephant half to death (not to mention the other kids), and it would've taken the rest of the night to calm her down. You have to be at least 5 to ride elephants, sorry kid. (And if anyone tells her otherwise, there will be hell to pay. I can invent my own Momisms, here).

Pictures tomorrow, I'm too tired to mess with them tonight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I am a very very bad mother

After telling MG a thousand times that the TV was going off, I got online and said, "Look, if you watch too much TV, your eyes will pop right out of your head like this:"

Put another buck in the therapy jar.

Princess Lily Flower

Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 10, 2007

Becoming my mother...

"Mary Grace, you need to sit back away from the TV, or you are going to burn out your eyes!"

(Seriously, her nose is on the screen. The little weirdo... I guess she wants to be part of the action.)

Um... Mom, now that I'm 31, will you tell me the truth? Will she actually burn out her eyes? 'Cause she's totally not listening.

Thank goodness that Claire is smart enough to take precautions:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

This American Life

Ok, now I feel like a jerk for complaining. Listen to this episode of This American Life if you want to understand why.

I found the prologue, about how "experts" recommended against showing affection to children in the early part of the 20th century, especially interesting. The other two stories are very powerful as well.

I think I feel even better about my decision to stop listening to "experts" after hearing that. I wonder if any of you Baby Boomers will feel differently about your relationships with your parents, in light of this perspective. Interesting...

It's Sunday night... Do you know why your kids won't sleep?

I hate bedtime. Hate it hate it hate it. I had just gotten Claire (who is unusually fussy these days, due to teething) to sleep, when BJ got MG out of the tub, and she came screaming into the room and woke Claire up. It was all I could do not to tan her little behind. Sometimes I have to just chant, "We don't spank. We don't spank, even when we really REALLY want to..."

I really hate bedtime.

In other news, we went to Monty's birthday party today. It was really fun. He was awfully cute with the cake. He looked like a smurf by the end of it, with all the blue icing. And his mom, Jenny, served lots and lots of chocolate, and things dipped in chocolate, and chocolate covered chocolate, so it was my kind of party. I skipped the cake and went straight for the good stuff.

It's a good thing that she and I are both married, or I'd be proposing over the truffles she made. Mmmmmm....

MG went to her first Local College Football game yesterday. The good guys kicked butt. She had fun, even though they only saw the first quarter due to inclement weather. It was the first rain delay at our Local College Stadium since like 1989, or something ridiculous. (And if stalkers are college football enthusiasts, we'd better lock the doors...)

But seriously, I've had it with bedtime and if she doesn't start sleeping, I'm going to get a big cast iron frying pan and I'm going to konk her in the head with it every night after dinner. Hey, it worked on the cartoons. That's my last hope. I haven't had a good night's sleep since November of 2004, people, I'm desperate, here.

P.S. Happy Birthday Barbie!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dear Amy....

As part of my ongoing quest to find a useful outlet for the treasure trove of advice that lies between my ears, I have set up an e-mail address for you to use to send me your questions:

We'll see what happens!

Also, please note the poll in the side bar and vote!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Oh holy cow, a real question!!!

I swear I am not making this up - have I mentioned that I've always wanted to be Dear Abby? Well, today in the comments, I got a real, honest-to-God request for advice!!

It is so nice to be asked for my advice, instead of foisting it upon my friends and family, who listen patiently and then do precisely whatever they want in spite of my good advice! Wow, this is a red letter day...

Ok, here is the question:

I could REALLY use some help with my 6 year old boy and 8 year old girl. They are both VERY disrespectful, not just to my husband and myself, but also to each other. They have twin 3 year olds siblings and I am scared of them learning this behavior. When the two oldest were MUCH younger, my husband and I did NOT get along very this is a learned behavior...could you give advice on how to fix what WE have broken? Thanks!

Dear Mrs. Cosby,

I think it is wonderful that you asked this question, that you recognize your role (and your husband's role) in teaching your kids this behavior, and that you want to make it better. This is going to be a whole-family project, but I don't think there is any reason why you can't all learn to be more respectful to each other. (Congratulations on getting through the rough patch in your marriage and sticking it out, and getting better. That's not easy to do, and it is worthy of a great deal of praise and encouragement!)

I think the best approach would be to break down the "disrespectful" behavior into its component parts - swearing, sassing, and insulting, maybe. It depends on what you mean by disrespect, and what behaviors you want to eliminate. Then you sit down with them and you say, "You know, Dad and I have been worried about how much we are all swearing in this family. From now on, whenever any of us swears, we're going to...." Here you have a choice, you can either give something (an "X" on a chart, maybe?) or take something away (a token?).

At the end of the week, the person with the fewest X's can get a reward - choose their favorite dinner, maybe, or select a video at the store for the whole family to watch. If you take something away (which may be harder to implement, but might be easier for concrete thinkers to understand), then the person with the most is, of course, the winner and gets the reward.

If your kids can't plan a week in advance, make it a day and make the reward smaller (maybe can stay up 30 minutes late, or gets an extra book read at bedtime...).

I think it's important, since they learned this behavior from you and your husband, that the two of you participate, too. It will make it more fun for them if they know they can "catch" you every once in a while... And I'll bet they will! (By the way, I am HORRIBLE about swearing, and one of MG's first words was "Damn," so don't think that I'm Miss Manners up here, sitting on high, having never screwed up!)

Once you're satisfied with the family's progress on swearing, move on to sassing. Be sure to carefully define the behavior for them. Give them lots of examples. You'll have to make a list of the words you don't want them to say (think about only working on the big ones at first, break the list down into the 3 worst, then the next 3, and so on...). Define "sassing" for them, and act out a few examples with your husband so that they know what you're talking about (and can't argue with you about it!).

I think you'll find that you will have to work for a long time on the first few goals, but after some practice, subsequent behaviors will go faster. They'll get the idea.

Good luck with this! Please do let me know how it turns out.

Best wishes,

Of course - if anyone else has a question, I would be thrilled to try to help. I'm not a shrink or an expert, but I was trained to be a special ed teacher (we did behavior analysis all the time), and I have several years of experience with kids who had disabilities and behavioral disorders, as well as experience with my own kids. Results are guaranteed! If you implement my advice and are not happy with the results, I will give you a full refund!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Still a big dork...

So I was just sitting here, minding my own business this afternoon, when all of a sudden Tertia chatted me! I've been reading Tertia's blog for about 3 years, now. It was kind of like having one of your favorite authors stop by and ask if she could borrow your dictionary for a minute. I was all a-flutter! Tertia gets more hits in a day than I do in a month! She is a regular mommyblogging celebrity! She's a published author!! I'm using too many exclamation points!!!

I helped her think of the word she wanted, all the while acting like a complete asshole - telling her how much I love her blog and asking for an autograph like some groupie, instead of playing it cool, just as I would if I met any celebrity. Then she said I was "intelligent" and a "genius" and she offered to link to my blog. Oh. My. God.

This means I need to spruce up the joint, folks, because that company's coming. Because Tertia's legions of adoring fans are going to see that link and click over here to see what I'm all about. Maybe even Julie, who is the other blogger that I want to be when I grow up. They're both so cool and funny. And I feel like the dorky awkward middle school kid. I've been sitting here with a bad case of writers block for over an hour trying to figure out what I'm going to write about so that Tertia's readers won't think I'm an asshole, and they will add me to their Google Reader or blogroll or whatever, so that someday I can be popular too. Meanwhile, I'm wearing a pink taffeta dress that is all wrong, I'm stuttering, I have spinach in my teeth and bad breath, and I'm saying something stupid like, "I carried a watermelon," like Baby in Dirty Dancing (I can't believe I just referenced Dirty Dancing - hello, 1987 called. They want their movie back!).

I could repost the one that I wrote when I was drunk, but that could be embarrassing... I could tell a hilarious Mary Grace story, but hello! Writer's block! She has not been at all funny in weeks. Just like her, to decide to not be funny when I need her. I could post a bunch of pictures so cute that they'll make your eyes hurt (ok, tomorrow, I promise pictures. E-mail me if you want access to the web album of the zoo pictures). I could get all serious and post something deep and moving that will cause all of Tertia's legions to cry, and to think that I'm brilliant, and to want to come back for more every day... God, what pressure! Maybe being a dork is my best defense*. Maybe if I'm a dork they'll look, say, "Wow what a dork!" and move on, so that I don't have to feel like I need to be cute and charming and smart and funny anymore.

Yes, I think that's the best idea. Hello Tertia's legions! Nothing to see here. Have a nice day!

(*After all, BJ knew me in middle school, and he loves me anyway, so I can't have been that bad, right?)

MG's boyfriend, and Claire the Princess