Saturday, May 31, 2008

10:00 and All's Well

The night wasn't as bumpy as I predicted. Either that, or I slept through the tornado sirens. We're fine, and the tent/gazebo thing in the back yard is still where we left it, so how bad could it have been?

We had a tornado in Grammaland when I was a kid. It came right up our street. Totally scary. The neighbor's shed was moved off of its foundation, and several big old trees lost big old branches, but it wasn't the kind of devastation you see on the news.

Is there any area that's free of natural disasters? In California you have earthquakes and wildfires. In Florida and other gulf states you get hurricanes. I never hear of tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires or hurricanes in Maine. Maybe we should move up there.

Nah, I like Indiana. And our odds here are a lot better than they are elsewhere. When a hurricane or earthquake comes, it hits a huge geographic area. Tornadoes are localized. What are the odds that my house will someday be in the path of an F4 of F5? Pretty slim, especially since we live at the rim of a valley that overlooks the river. I don't think our geography is correct for tornadoes. They need big open plains to really get cooking.

The long of the short is that we're fine, except that the cat has decided that it's fun to play with my fingers as I'm typing, here, and I keep getting scratched. She is so weird.

BJ and Brandon are going to work on the grout in the kitchen today (I told Brandon last time he was here that he has a lot of sweat equity in our house, as he's helped us with almost every project we've done, and that I felt bad because we haven't really helped him with his house. They bought theirs the same year we bought ours. He said he's planning on cashing it in when he builds his patio. I fear that he may be planning to pave his back yard). Once it has cured for 24 hours, we will be DONE with the lightbulb change that led to a kitchen remodel.

In other news, Grandpa Bob has leased an apartment over on the east side, and the apartment complex has a swimming pool, so our summer just got a lot cooler! I made it clear from the start that I thought it would be cool if he got a place with a pool. "Yes, I have ulterior motives," I said, "but at least, with me, you always know what they are."

That's all the news that's fit to print. What are your plans for the weekend?

Friday, May 30, 2008

We're in for a bumpy night

We woke up from a seriously late nap to the phone ringing and the tornado sirens going off. BJ was calling to make sure that we were at home and could take cover. With a nod to Bossy, this is what the local weather map looked like.

This is what our regional forecast looks like.

So, um.... yeah. This stuff is always scary with two small kids and no basement.

I'll keep you posted. But if my photos start to look like this -

...send some flying monkey repellent, ok?

My New Pretty Baby

I talked to you yesterday about how I was having a hard time deciding what to do with the money I won from Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer, right? Well, part of the problem I was having was that all of the ideas I had for spending the money seemed really selfish. We are so blessed. We have abundant food, shelter, clothing, health, family, friends, and happiness galore. I have a healthy dose of "liberal guilt" over the fact that I throw away more food in a year than many children have to eat. None of my ideas for the money felt right, because we don't truly need anything. Even during our leanest times, we've had enough. More than enough. To be honest, my waistline says we have too much.

So, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Pretty Babies family - Melissa Irakoze. She is a 7 year old orphan in Rwanda who I've "adopted" for a year through Compassion International. I chose Rwanda because we sponsored a woman through Women for Women International a few years ago (because Oprah told me to), and it is a country full of people in desperate, crushing need.

Melissa (whose surname means "Thank God") lives with her grandmother. She was born May 15, 2001. The information I have so far doesn't say what happened to her parents. Rwanda has been devastated by civil war between the Tutsi and the Hutus, and by AIDS (like all of Africa), poverty, and disease. When I read the information we got about our sponsored woman through Women for Women, when I saw the movie Hotel Rwanda... well, it spoke to me.

I chose Compassion International because Shannon traveled to Africa with them earlier this year and blogged about her experiences. I thought, since I won the money from her, I should give it back to a cause that she loves.

I hesitated to even post about this, because I have always believed that these acts are more meaningful if you do them privately. It's tacky to toot my own horn and say, "Look how great I am! I did this nice thing!" But I'm sharing it because I want to make you aware of this organization, and maybe to inspire you to try to help, too.

And because I want to tell you about my new pretty baby as I get to know her.

Maybe now my conscience will shut up and let me take my kids to Disneyworld!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Kid in You Photo Contest Entry

Off to explore. Who knows what we'll find around the corner?

You can enter the contest, too, here.
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Random Thoughts, with Amy

So, turns out you can make brownies in an electric skillet, assuming that you're not a real purist when it comes to rectangular baked goods. It took eons, but they turned out really well. Thanks Grandma Susan, for the link!

The $1500 gift card I won last week arrived yesterday. Since then I have spent it 100 different ways in my head. I've bought myself an entire new wardrobe, a puppy, a new laptop, an 80 gig iPod at Costco - apparently they're on sale and it wouldn't set me back much at all, but what am I going to do with 80 gigs?, every cute matchy matchy Hanna Andersson suit I have ever seen for the girls, but haven't been able to afford, a trip to Disneyworld, airline tickets to Europe (we didn't get very far, in my head, for $1500)... I'm beginning to think that the potential is as much fun as the actual spending will be. I see cool things on the web and think, "I could spend my prize money on that!!!" and I imagine what it would be like.

I may just keep the gift card, indefinitely. I may buy $1500 worth of Egg Beaters. Who knows? But I'm having fun dreaming!! After all, we were talking about going to Disney before I won (I have e-mail evidence!), so technically I don't have to spend this money on the trip, right?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There's No Such Thing as a Free Puppy

It wasn't this puppy. It was a very similar looking male 9 week old puppy that was not quite free ($10) at the farmer's market today.

I called BJ and practically begged to bring him home. Astutely he said, "Are you calling to ask permission, or to tell me that you're bringing home a puppy?" Ha. He advised that I take some time to think about it.

His paws were huge. I'm sure he'll weigh 100 pounds when he's fully grown. And he hadn't been fixed, or had shots, or been checked for worms, or any of the other expensive things you have to do with puppies.

But I wanted him. Oh, the puppy lust. It gets me every time.

We drove around and looked for furniture for Grandpa Bob's new apartment. We thought about it. I thought about it. I thought about potty training. I thought about the new kitchen floor. I thought and thought.

We headed home at about 6:30 and the farmer's market is just another mile or two from home. I decided to go by on the way home and see if he was still there, and maybe take that as a sign and buy him if he was.

He wasn't. They were packing up their van, and the dog had found a home.

It wasn't meant to be.

His name, for a little while, was Bruno.

(BJ would like to request that you do not comment, e-mail, or call to offer me puppies. Thanks.)

The Word No Parent Wants to Hear

The most terrible feeling I have experienced in my life is the feeling that something is wrong with one of my kids and I can't fix it. When I was pregnant with Claire and we had ICP, when MG had rotavirus and she was vomiting blood, and right after MG was born and her doctor said, "I wonder if she has skull under here..." about the hematoma on her head, each time I experienced that stomach dropping terror. You know that you have to hold it together for your kid, but it's so hard. If there were a way, any parent would gladly take his or her child's place and go through it for them.

And we've dealt with minor, temporary things. I can't imagine what it's like to deal with something long term or chronic or potentially, well, I can't even think the word, let's just say potentially really really bad.

So when I read the story about little Serenity over on the Blog Herald, and I felt that dropping stomach feeling on behalf of Serenity and her family, well, I figured I had to write about it.

I don't have anything profound to say, except that I can't imagine what it must feel like, and I'm so sorry, and I wish we lived in a world where babies (22 months old!) didn't get sick. I don't know Phil, but I think it would mean a lot to him and his family if y'all went over and said something nice in his comments. And say a prayer for this baby and her family.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Kind of a Rinky Dink Blog Is This?

Sorry kids. I have been remiss in not keeping you posted on the never-ending melodrama that is my life. All of my creative energies have been focused on trying to figure out how to feed a family with no oven and no stove. Yesterday we grilled. Today I remembered that I had an electric skillet, and I made Hamburger Helper in there. It worked so well, I may do it again, even when the stove is working. Between the grill, the microwave, the George Foreman, the electric skillet, and take out, you'd think I could keep everyone fed, right? It's not easy. And i'm totally craving brownies (which you can't make on the grill). Life is hard. I need a toaster oven.

Yesterday was our 7th wedding anniversary (it is nothing short of a miracle that he's put up with me this long, isn't it?), and we had a super day. We went out for breakfast. Then we came home for a bit. Once Claire got up from nap, we took the bikes and the kids and the dog to the park. Yes, we rode while trying to contain Max. On a leash. In my defense, it was totally BJ's idea.

Does anyone know if they make a leash for use with a dog and a bike?

Anyway, then we came home and had a super dinner (I did a foil packet of potatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini with lots of butter, pepper, garlic, etc. on the grill, and we had corn on the cob and steak with it, and cheesecake for dessert. Best. Meal. Ever). Mary Grace was so funny, I only bought 5 ears of corn (members of my mom's family will know that 5 ears is about 1.5 servings around here), and she kept asking for everyone else's. Grandpa Bob shared with her, and so did her daddy, but she didn't get any of mine!

After dinner we left the kids with Grandpa and went to the drive-in theater in Monticello. It was so much fun. We used to go all the time when we were dating, so it was a very anniversary-appropriate activity. Kind of like going on a second honeymoon, except on a budget.

Unfortunately, when you go to the drive-in, you're generally out until 2 am. BJ and I are both beat today, but it was worth it.

Nothing much happened today. Too tired. Thought about going to the library, but everyone was fussy and then MG fell asleep in the car. We did manage to get my sister Saundra's baby shower gift, and I am pretty happy with the wrapping (which is NOT easy for me, so yay).

I arranged to start taking the kids to Dawn's house for a while. Dawn is a relative of Karen's husband (cousin? Whatever...) and Karen's kids (Owen and Cameron, you know, my future-sons-in-law) go to her during the day. Since Grandpa Bob's working, and Allison's in Grammaland for the summer, and Justine doesn't get here for another 6 weeks or so, we had to improvise the whole Amy-goes-to-work thing. They're going to be going to her house from 9 am - 2 pm Wednesday and Friday. We'll see how it goes. MG knows that she gets to go play with Owen, and she's excited about that.

Speaking of MG, Mimi bought her a blue sequined dress at a garage sale when we were in Grammaland a couple weeks ago, and I'm afraid that it's become fused to MG's skin. She will not take it off. I have to bribe her. I actually had to take her to McDonald's in the blue dress (long story). It's getting ridiculous. The dress up clothes may have to go live at Mimi's for a while.

We're watching Monsters, Inc. Mike Wabowski! Kitty! Too cute! I have to talk MG into letting me trim her toenails. Ah, the glamor of motherhood.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not for the Faint of Heart

I earned it today, y'all. I am so tired.

Not as tired as BJ and Brandon. They stayed up until some ungodly hour of the a.m. finishing the tile (it looks amazing, thanks Brandon! Thanks BJ!), and then BJ got up at zero-dark-thirty to go to the 500. Poor guy. Works hard, plays hard. I don't remember him coming to bed or getting up and leaving. To be honest, I don't remember anyone coming to bed last night, even though I woke up with MG and C, and Claire can't get out of the crib on her own. I hate when I don't remember getting her. I worry that I'm going to sleepwalk downstairs with her and put her in the fridge or something, and then wake up in bed with a ham sandwich.

I guess there are worse things.

I got the girls up and fed (without a kitchen, because the kitchen is in timeout until tomorrow morning, thinking about what it did), and then when Grandpa Bob woke up I went outside to mow the lawn.

I'm an indoor girl, so this was no small feat. I put on a tank top, and some SPF 50 over my sunburn, in an effort to "even out." It seemed like a good idea, but I am still not at all even. Actually I am striped. I think it will be all the rage this season, when people get a load of it. I'm like a one-woman Benneton ad.

So, I mowed. The lawn was so long that it kept clogging up the mower when I forgot to pop wheelies, and I had to take a stick and clear it out. I was sure I was going to lose an arm. I dumped fuel all over our yard, once, doing that. I also dumped gas all over when I had to refill the mower (twice. Once after it ran out, once after I poured it out). I was sure I was going to set myself on fire. I didn't, but I wouldn't smoke in our yard for a while if I were you.

I couldn't get all the long stuff around the trees, the patio, and the house, so I thought, "Oh, I'll just weed whack those. How hard can it be?" Ha. Mary Grace thinks the phrase "weed whack" is hilarious, by the way.

The first hint that this was a Very Bad Idea should have been the fact that I couldn't start the stupid thing. Dad came out and started it for me (he also opens jars and kills bugs. Quite handy), and I commenced with the whacking. Before I perfected my technique, I cut down a wire that was coming into the house (phone?), put some cuts in the fence, scuffed up the Tyvek house wrap on the east side of our house, and scalped one of the neighbor kids. Finally I decided that the lawn had, in fact, won, and I came inside, muttering about how I'd always kind of liked weeds, anyway.

The difference between weeds and plants, by the way, is that weeds grow.

After I finally got inside and cleaned up, the kids, Dad, and I headed to Best Buy to get a new power cord for my laptop. The old one only worked sometimes, and I was getting mighty aggravated. Boy, do they charge a lot for those universal power adapters. Sheesh. I could've rigged something up with an extension cord, some duct tape, and a weed whacker if I'd known. But I had a coupon, so I went ahead and got one.

Then we went to the carnival.

My big girl was so brave. She loved every single ride, and we did almost all of them. Even when she rode the race cars, and they took off like a shot and I thought she was going to come flying out of them. I was on the phone with BJ at the time and I said, "Oh my God, this carnie is trying to kill Mary Grace, I'll call you back!" thinking that I was going to have to leap onto the ride and save her. But she was awesome. So brave.

That's her version of a thumbs up. Or she's hitchhiking. I don't know, she was going too fast for me to ask her.

She and I had a blast on the Tilt-a-Whirl. So expensive, though, geez! The tickets were $1.25 each, and most of the rides cost 3 tickets! $3 for a corn dog, for crying out loud.

I think she's ready for Disney World!

Oh, and I know I'm not a grown up yet. She played the game where you flip over a duck (3 ducks for 5 bucks) and you get a prize that corresponds to the letter on the duck. She turned over three "M's" for "medium" and so she got to pick either 3 medium prizes, or one large prize. She got a purple ball, an ice cream cone that shoots the foam "ice cream" when you hit the button, and a plastic inflatable dolphin.

So she beaned Claire with the dolphin, and instead of thinking (or saying), "Hey, knock it off, don't hit your sister!" the first thing that popped into my head was, "You must cut down the largest Claire in the forest with..... a herring."

Saturday, May 24, 2008


BJ and Brandon are downstairs tiling the kitchen as I write this.

I am sitting upstairs, blogging, eating cookies, watching Saturday Night Live, and feeling appropriately guilty. However, after I told several eye-roll-worthy jokes, I figured that I wasn't actually doing much in the way of helping, so I might as well get out of the way.

Another fun day today! We got up and went to the Art Fair downtown, and ran into several friends. I bought a picture that I saw when BJ and I went the year I was pregnant with Mary Grace. I figured if I liked it then and remembered it now, it must be worth buying. God love the internet, that's it over there... You really can find anything. The artist's name is Lou Zale (he's from Deerfield, IL, and it seems that he does quite a few art fairs). I like it because the shape of the kids' room is the same as the shape of the room in the picture, and because the color part, outside the window, is really blue and brilliant in the print. It is so eye catching. I like the blend of fantasy and reality, and I thought it was perfect for our space-themed nursery.

I can't find a website for Mr. Zale, specifically. I lifted the photo from an art fair online program.

I spent most of the art fair distracted, though, because tomorrow's Fran's birthday, and it was my job to keep her busy for the morning so Tim could get her house ready for the surprise party at noon. We finished the art fair about an hour before I expected to, and Claire was being really fussy, so I improvised. "Let's go get a donut!" I said, over-enthusiastically. Who cares that Krispy Kreme was all the way over on the other side of town and gas is $4 a gallon, right? Who cares that MG didn't actually want a donut? (She wanted a cookie). We killed about 15 minutes doing that, and then I asked her to come in and help me pick a new wall color to match the new tile better.

We still need to do that, kids, but that's a blog for another day.

Anyway, Fran left at 11:50 am, even though I was supposed to stall her until 12:15. I called Tim right away and said, "She just left!" then threw the kids in the car. Tim had asked Fran to stop at Walmart on the way home, so that I could get to the house for the big surprise. I pulled up in front of their house and BJ came out and got the girls out of the car, then I parked around the corner. As I was walking to her house, Fran pulled up! I started talking to her neighbors ("Pretend you know me!" I said. They must have thought I was insane.) and tried to hide my big obvious tote/diaper bag. Once she drove into the garage I tried to sneak in the front door, but it was locked. I wasn't there to yell, but oh well. She was still surprised.

The party was a lot of fun. I stayed in the same lawn chair too long, though, and got sunburned on my left arm. I need to go for a long ride on the passenger side of the car to even myself out. It stings, too. I'm such a dork.

That's the news around here. BJ's going to the Indy 500 tomorrow, and I have to keep the girls off of the kitchen floor for 24 hours, so that should be interesting. There's a carnival at the mall that we might go to. I'll just have to remember to keep my right side toward the sun.

Monday is our seventh wedding anniversary. That blows me away. It seems like we got married yesterday in so many ways. The real miracle, though, is that BJ has put up with me this long. Especially when I make him re-tile the kitchen while I sit upstairs and eat cookies and blog.

It's eBay, not eBaby...

From the "things I probably need to quit joking around about now that they've actually happened" department comes this little piece of news.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today has been a Really Great Day!!!

I got the girlies up this morning and got 'em dressed and fed and out the door. We went to the office and did payroll, then I took them to Karen's caregiver's so that Karen and I could do lunch and then go get manis and pedis for my birthday (which was last month, but this is the first time we've both been free).

We had a fun, relaxing, kidless time. We laughed a lot, as we always do, and it was great.

After I picked up the kids I was checking my e-mail at a stoplight, and I got Jeana's comment. "Huh?" I thought. "Is she congratulating me on my destroyed kitchen? On having Applebees for dinner? On having the most boring blog in the universe?" Then I got an email from Shannon (you know Shannon, she hosts Works For Me Wednesday) saying, "You might want to read this post..." So I did. And then I almost hit the car in front of me.

Thank you Shannon!!! Thank you Egg Beaters!!!!! (I've always loved chickens!)

We're going to Disney World!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am totally freaking out! Best. Day. EVAH!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We've Reached a New Low

No, I'm not talking about totally exploiting my two cute kids for a free trip to NYC. I'm talking about the floor.

BJ was having trouble chipping out the (un)self-leveling concrete around the sink, so yours truly had the bright idea to beat the snot out of it with the sledgehammer, and maybe loosen it up a bit. My theory is that few things can't be accomplished through the liberal application of sheer brute force. I guess I'm kind of a republican that way. Anyway, he thought that sounded reasonable and started pounding. When he stopped pounding, our kitchen looked like this.

I guess he has some pent up frustration.

No, just kidding. But all the brute force did loosen one of the original kitchen tiles - the ones that were laid directly on the slab. Realizing that one loose tile would make it possible to pry up the rest of the tiles, BJ threw the kids, Grandpa Bob, and me out and proceeded to remove the rest of the original brown kitchen tile (probably asbestos, but life is hard) from the kitchen.

My new kitchen floor looks like this:

I think it'll be the next big trend in home decor.

Have I mentioned that my appliances are in my dining room?

I tried to make chili the other night on a hot plate, and I'm pretty sure that I undercooked it. My tummy felt crummy all day yesterday. Ugh. So Grandpa Bob made Applebee's takeout for us last night, and we're feeling much better. Hooray for take out.

I have faith that someday my kitchen will be restored to its former level of organization. In the meantime, I'm just going to pretend that I have a really big kitchen, and that's why the fridge is waaaayyy over there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vote for Us!

I'm so over the presidential primaries! Let's vote on something that really matters - like cute kids!

Go here to vote for MG and here to vote for Claire!

I don't ask for much, but winning a trip to NYC sure would be nice. Vote early and often! Pretend you're a Chicagoan and vote multiple times!

(you can enter your kids in the cover model contest at, but they don't stand a chance against mine!!)

Edited to add: You have to click the stars (5, of course!) and the up arrow (recommend) on each photo to make it count. The kid in the lead only has 31 votes, 16 "recommends," and 2 stars. We can totally take him!

No, I'm not at all competitive, why do you ask?

Stu... Stu... Studious! Woah-oh!

PS - Happy late b-day Uncle Stu!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


For about 20 minutes in 1992, I was cool. And I had another 15 minutes in 1994 when I wasn't a complete dork. I used to like bands like Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, and artists like Sarah McLachlan. I still do. Fortunately, these bands' members have become parents along the way, too, and they're doing children's albums.

Exhibit A: Sarah McLachlan

1990s - Songs About Heroin

Today - Songs By Frogs

Exhibit B: They Might Be Giants

1990s - Songs about Science that could Only be Appreciated and Understood by People on Mind-Altering Substances

Today - Songs about Geography, No Chemicals Required

And, perhaps most shocking, Exhibit C - Barenaked Ladies.

1990s - Songs about Shoplifting

1990s - Songs about Love

1990s - Songs about Money

Today - Songs about Letters

Today - Songs about Numbers

Today - Songs about Snacks

On second thought, maybe things aren't as different now as I thought.

BJ is waiting for Nine Inch Nails to come out with a bedtime album. Heeeee...

A Pocket Full of Snot

Both of the girlies are drippy. Drippy noses, drippy eyes. I have mopped both of them off more times than I care to think about, and then I stick the dirty Kleenexes in my pocket (where else am I going to put them? I don't want to wear a path in the floor between here and the trash!), so now I have a pocket full of disease.

Doesn't that sound appetizing?

We are on our third or fourth viewing of Cinderella for the day. I figure if I can't take them out and run them around, at least I can placate them with Disney. They're not just in there vegging, they're playing with their toys, too. So it's not bad, right? Right??

If I look only at the laptop screen, I can't see the disaster area that is my house. It's all a matter of focus.

Claire is running around babbling, and I swear she just said, "Toga! Toga! Toga!!" I'd better go.

Any flooring contractors want to come bail us out for some free advertising on my blog?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Home Away From Home

Saint BJ decided to lay the new tile in our kitchen (remember, the tile we bought like 2000 years ago? I'm sure I blogged about it when it happened, that BJ tried to change a lightbulb and found that the fixture was rusting inside so we called a plumber because we thought the upstairs faucet was leaking but he said that the ticking noise was just the hot water pipe expanding so then we figured it rusted because our dryer vent was leaking and our friend Jim came over and helped us knock a bunch of holes in the wall to find the place where the vent was busted, fix the vent, replace the fixture, and eat Mexican food, and then we had to repaint to cover the drywall patches, and oh did I mention that when BJ moved the fridge out to get to the part of the wall the dryer vent calls home he put giant gouges into the linoleum/vinyl/whatever ugly floor that I've hated since we moved in? Hence how a lightbulb change became a kitchen remodel.)

So, since you're not allowed to walk on the kitchen floor while it is covered with wet self-leveling concrete (which, it turns out, does not level itself), nor while it is covered with new tile, I decided to take the girlies to Grammaland so he could work on the floor without little footprints getting all over it.

That was Friday. We spent Friday night at Gramma Denna's, then Saturday night at Mimi's, and Sunday night at Aunt Kathryn's. We started to feel a little homeless, especially when my cell phone battery died and I didn't have enough car charger juice to get it going again. No, of course I didn't take my charger for my phone, or my iPod, or my camera, so there were no tunes and no photographic evidence of our trip north. I have learned that I would suck at being a pioneer, because 24 hours without my gadgets and I start to get a little twitchy. It wasn't pretty, so in spite of the fact that my kitchen is currently in my dining room, and my new tile floor is currently made of self-unleveling concrete, we had to come home. We were also out of diapers and clean clothes. And MG has a cold. And Claire's teething. And I am never leaving home without my laptop again. All three of us were uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad trip. We scammed several excellent meals, lots of hand me down toys and books, and got to visit with lots of the fam. But it's really exhausting to have two small kids out of their own environment and their schedule. I didn't realize how much of a routine we're actually in, until I got out of it. Everyone gets cranky when the routine gets hosed up. Especially me.

I came home to more than a little chaos. My stove is in the dining room, along with my fridge. However, I have a new dishwasher! I'm not sure what BJ did to the old one, but I didn't ask. Our anniversary is the 26th, so it is our anniversary gift! Yay!

Speaking of anniversaries, I've been blogging for one year today. Since only five of you entered my giveaway, I think I'll go ahead and make a silhouette for each of you. Please give me a few days to get my act together. E-mail me a digital picture of your kid(s) in profile, and I'll get to work on them ASAP.

Claire's screaming, I have to go figure out why. More later!

Friday, May 16, 2008


So, finally all the grandmas have received their Mother's Day gifts, and I can show them to you. Check out what I did!

Since I am not at all crafty, this was a triumph! I picked out a background color that would sort of match the house of the grandma it was going to (the one above went to Grandma Diana). The two blue ones, I made for myself. I just love the way MG's ponytail overhangs the matte. BJ said that it is representative of how uncontainable her personality is.

In honor of my one year blogging anniversary, which is Monday, I will be making a custom silhouette for one of you, my beloved readers! All you have to do is e-mail me profile digital photos of your kids (or dogs, or whatever), and tell me what background color you want, and I will mail you a silhouette just like the ones above. Even if you have 5 kids, go ahead and enter (although, if you're a Duggar, you may have to pick your 5 favorites!).

Here's how you enter: Leave a comment with your e-mail address (it's fine to use the format prbabies (at) gmail (dot) com to avoid bots), and tell me what your favorite Pretty Babies post of the last year was. I'll select a random winner on Monday and I'll contact you by e-mail.

Thanks so much for reading. This has been an amazing year. I'm so glad you've all come with us on this journey.

Happy Birthday Uncle Chuck!

Uncle Chuck with Claire at Christmas

29 things we love about Uncle Chuck:

1) He likes to read (he's an English teacher)!
2) He ran the mini-marathon (13.1 miles) this year!
3) He's silly!
4) He finds awesome presents for the girlies!
5) When we go out for dinner with him, he'll distract the girlies so Mommy can eat!
6) He has a dog named Basha whose eyes are two different colors!
7) He likes to go camping!
8) He's really smart!
9) He's finishing his master's degree at the end of the summer!
10) He lives in Grammaland!
11) He's funny!
12) His laugh!
13) He stops to help damsels in distress when he sees them along the road with car trouble!
14) He's a peacemaker!
15) His glasses (Claire especially likes to try to pull them off of his face)!
16) His photographs!
17) He's a vegetarian!
18) He sings in the car!
19) He cares about people!
20) He cares about the planet!
21) He cares about animals!
22) He knows lots of trivia!
23) He likes to travel!
24) He has lots of ideas!
25) He's a helper!
26) He's got excellent timing, and always shows up just as dinner is ready!
27) He has really good taste in music!
28) He's an awesome uncle!
29) He's an awesome brother!

Happy birthday, Chuck! Love you!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chicken Kisses!

So, I took the punks to McDonald's today because I figured that nothing would cap off a good day of brain rotting like some salt, sugar, and transfats. Besides, it was raining all day, and we were all a bit stir crazy.

Claire has just recently learned how to give kisses. It's so cute. She doesn't pucker, but she'll lean in and touch her lips to your face. Awww... Anyway, I picked her up and kissed her, and I smelled chicken nugget. Being the completely sane and rational person that I am, I said, "Oh, yum! Chicken kisses!!!" and proceeded to kiss her cheeks and her neck while saying, "Bawk bawk bawk!" This made her giggle uncontrollably, so I kept doing it, in spite of the fact that other moms were scooting their chairs away from me.

"Oh, gimme those chicken kisses!" kiss kiss kiss, "Bawk, bawk, bawk!" This went on for several minutes, until she squirmed to get down. Then Mary Grace took a bite of chicken nugget, and came over to get her chicken kisses. Then Claire wanted more. Then MG. And it went on and on.

Sometimes I wonder if the people we run into in the world think I'm completely out of my mind. Sometimes I already know the answer to that question.

(Image from the completely terrifying article I found here. Jeez!)

The Real Magic of Disney

We borrowed The Little Mermaid and Lady and the Tramp from the library. I put them on for the kids this morning, and now my house is clean. The dishwasher has run, the counters are bare, all the debris is back in its place, the laundry is running, the bathroom is sparkling and I'm about to vacuum.

That, my friends, is the true Magic of Disney.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Conversations with my Husband

Last week at work, BJ asked me to find him a tube of vacuum film that we can put over this 14 foot high tank, then pull a vacuum on, so that we can check the tank for leaks. This is work that we're quoting to another company, so I was trying to get pricing so that he could include the cost in the quote he sends them.

So, I spoke to this company (one we've never worked with before) that makes this sort of film for aerospace and for boating and whatnot, and they said, "We normally do 1000 foot rolls. We'll just find a remnant in the warehouse and send it to you..." because it's not worth their time to mess with our piddly 20 feet.

I just got off the phone with the very nice man at this company, and here's the text message exchange I had with BJ...

Amy: {Company Name} is sending a 90 inch diameter x 20 ft tube of vacuum film
BJ: holy crap. sending???
Amy: free
BJ: Christ. We're not even sure we'll be doing the work yet
Amy: It's FREE
BJ: right and we should write them a nice letter thanking them but what in the hell am I going to do with a 20 ft condom for 2 months?

Sometimes this blog just writes itself.

WFMW: The New Park

I have lived in my neighborhood for 5 1/2 years, and I have lived in this town for 10 years (can you believe it?) and just recently the road that I normally take home from the office was closed, so I had to divert through a neighborhood that I always drove right past. Guess what I found? A new park! It's exactly one mile from our house, and it's awesome! It's less crowded than our usual park, and it has excellent equipment, and the two huge play structures are close together, so MG can be on the big one while C's on the little one, and I don't have any trouble keeping an eye on both of them. It has everything we loved at the other park and more!

If it ever stops raining, we're going to ride the bike there and back. We couldn't do that with the old park, because it was down a huge hill. So huge that it wouldn't be safe to ride the bike down it, and I'd have to be airlifted back up when we were done. This park, it's flat all the way there. Yay!

So, while you may not have a park in your neighborhood that you haven't found, there could be fabulous things in your town that you don't know about. Don't we get into ruts easily? Going to the same places the same way all the time, and never seeing anything new?

Get lost once in a while and see what you can find. Even if you've lived where you are for 10 years, like me, you just never know!

That's what works for me today. Visit Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer for more WFMW posts. And click here if you want to read the rest of my WFMW ideas! Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When in doubt, throw it out...

I was going to make Pioneer Woman's shrimp kabobs for dinner on Saturday, but the shrimp were still frozen. Then Sunday was mother's day, and BJ didn't feel well, so we just had frozen pizza. So, I cleaned them and put them in the marinade, and figured I'd make them Monday.

On Monday I got them out of the fridge and they smelled like teriyaki. I skewered them with the pineapple chunks - not as easy as P-Dub made it look, because my skewers were too big - and put them on the grill.

When I they were on the grill, something smelled extremely off. But I don't have a lot of experience with shrimp, especially raw shrimp, so I thought, "Ok, it'll be all right when they're done..."

When I carried them inside, the smell got stronger. A lot stronger. And a little nauseating. I called my mom.

"Is this the seafood safety hotline?" I asked.
"Yeah, what's the matter?" She knows me well.
"I have this shrimp, and they smell fishy. Not good fishy, either, but like Lake Michigan after the alewives all commit suicide on the beach fishy. What do you think?"
"Oh, honey. You can get so sick from bad seafood. When in doubt, throw it out."
"Really? But I worked so hard, and they're pretty, and do you really think that they're bad?"
"Is it worth getting sick over?"
Reluctantly, I said, "No..."
"When in doubt, throw it out."

Luckily, Dad took us out for dinner. Boy, was I disappointed, though. Clearly I am not a Pioneer Woman. Luckily, I have my very own Pioneer Mom I can call whenever I need help.

So, make me feel better. Tell me about your biggest culinary disaster in the comments!

Monday, May 12, 2008

From the "Over My Dead Body" File

This just in, via ParentDish.

Where the hell are her parents?

I mean, seriously. Who lets their teenage daughter out of the house looking like this? Are they her parents or her pimps? Is she kidding? This is a late April Fool's Day joke, right?

What is going on with our culture, that we're raising girls who think that this is ok? How did we get from "women can't wear pants" and "women are indecent if they show their ankles" to this in less than 150 years???

Am I just so old that I don't "get it" anymore, the way I don't "get" teenaged boys hair anymore (seriously, what is going on with boys' haircuts)?

(Picture via Huffington Post)

Yesterday's Unexpected Nap

Posted by Picasa

9:30 am - Peed on Potty

WOO HOO! Progress!!

I only had to bribe her with TV, fruit snacks, and Mary Poppins to get her there!

Reading Material

While I'm waiting for MG to pee and Claire to wake up, here are some interesting links that I've found...

Woo hoo! Being a mom increased my IQ!

BJ has said, more than once, that he thinks autism is the next evolutionary step. He's an engineer, so a group of people who understand machines and systems and logic, but aren't much concerned with emotions and feelings, well, these are his people! Turns out, he may not be far off. Read these two interesting articles from Psychology Today for more. Now if we could only figure out why so many children are being born with "extreme male brain" these days... And do you think that, as this generation of children grows, many more of them will be diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia than previous generations? I have my theories about autism. I think that it is caused by a genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to a toxin (like mercury). I didn't just come up with this the way BJ came up with the autism thing, though. Read about it here.

Do you know about the Pioneer Woman? She cooks. She cooks a lot. Today she's making these, and I have a brand new jar of strawberry preserves in the fridge... Hmmmm....

These are the books I've got started right now. I'm about half way through each. I lack follow through. I am reading one of them to review on this very blog - and if I ever finish it, I'm going to tie it in with Baby Mama and Juno and all the other movies I've seen lately, but, um... Yeah. Potty training.

As a mother of girls, this just makes my head want to explode.

Well, enough of that. Time to get this day on the road!

Mother's Day is Officially Over - Back to Work!

Claire decided that today was a good day to wake up when the clock still read 5:something. She is currently asleep in her high chair. But the rest of us, we are awake. Good thing I got to sleep in yesterday.

I have decided that I have been too much of a pushover with the potty training issue, so I told MG a couple of days ago that Today Is The Day. We had to scream and cry to get the panties on her, and she is currently sitting on the potty watching Disney Channel. I told her that she could watch Cinderella if she peed in the potty. She has a drink over there, and I'm not sure WHY it has taken her 45 minutes (and counting) to make a drop of pee, but, hey, at least she's quiet and entertained. I got breakfast together, checked my e-mail and blogs, and now I'm posting. I should've thought of this months ago. She can just live on the throne while we're at home. No problem.

I think we're in a battle of wits right now, though. She is saying, "You can lead me to the potty, but you can't make me pee," and I'm saying, "You're going to sit there until you pee," and so we'll see what happens.

I've just had it. I'm through being wishy washy. She's been trying to change her own diapers. Clearly she's ready. I've explained that no one changes her own diapers - the next step is using the big girl potty - but she just does not agree. Supernanny would say that the reason she is not yet trained is because I haven't put my foot down. Well, Supernanny, the foot is down. The panties are on. The diapers are only for nap and bedtime. We'll see.

I need to postpone my Mother's Day Giveaway because my mother-in-law is out of town, so she hasn't received hers yet and I don't want to spoil the surprise. So.... We'll do it next Monday, to commemorate my One Year Blogging Anniversary!

I hope you all have a great, accident free day!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Love Letter to My Momgurus

I have been blessed, in my journey from woman to mother, with a wealth of wise, funny, strong, creative, smart women (and men, but it's mother's day, so hush) who have guided me and shaped me with their support, their stories, their encouragement, and their love.

Many of these women are mothers, several are grandmothers, some are aunts, all are friends. Some of the women who have guided me are not yet mothers themselves, but their influence has, nevertheless, been so important in my development as a mom.

I think of you as my Momgurus. Each of you has brought your gifts and your wisdom into my life, and you've shared of yourselves so generously. I could not be who I am today if it weren't for who you are. Being a mother, raising these children, is the most important work of my life. I couldn't do what I do without you.

I'm not sure if it really takes a village to raise a child, but I know that it takes a village to create a mother. Thank you, each of you, for being my village. Thank you for all the love, the laughter, the stern redirections when I needed them, and the gentle pushes when I got stuck. Thank you for giving of yourselves, not only to me, but to the whole community of mothers. Thank you for everything you do.

Happy Mothers' Day.

With love,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

And you thought I was weird about breastfeeding...

I am a big pro-breastfeeding advocate, but I have never looked at a wild animal and thought, "I need to nurse that critter." Certainly not for FIVE years. Yo!

(Image from BBC News)

((By the way, I misspoke in my last post - below. Mens' reputations are not the only reason I think abortion should remain safe and legal. Dan Savage summed up my position on the issue quite nicely when he said, and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the exact quote, that there will always be abortions. Abortions will not end. Before surgical abortions, women ended pregnancies, and making it illegal won't change the fact that women will end pregnancies. The question, then, isn't whether or not abortions will continue, because abortions will continue. The question is, do you want to provide safe, legal abortions to women who seek them, or do you want those women to have to go to some back alley and risk their lives? Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up... Let the roasting commence. I have my fireproof big girl panties on.))

(((I wonder what kind of weird google search hits I'm going to get, using the words 'abortion' and 'panties' and 'roasting' in the same paragraph!)))

I understand in theory, but not in practice

One of the coolest parts of being a parent, IMHO, is seeing how BJ's and my personalities and features are expressed in our kids. Mary Grace has my personality (dramatic, attention-seeking, silly, funny, borderline crazy...) and BJ's eyes. Claire has BJ's personality (easy-going, nearly always happy, calm, content...) and my cheeks. Looking at the two of them makes me want to have a dozen more kids, just to see what other interesting and lovable combinations our genes can make.

And I will admit that it's hard for me, considering that Claire was a surprise, to prevent pregnancy. Every month I think, "What wonderful child am I not going to have in 9 months because I have this IUD?" I know this is a little bit nuts, but it crosses my mind. I think to myself, "If I had had this after MG was born, we wouldn't even have Claire!" and since I can't imagine life without Claire, it makes me wonder who else I'm missing.

Even though I'm politically pro-choice* I could never terminate a pregnancy, personally, unless carrying to term would jeopardize my own life. Even if I found out that a child I was carrying had a chromosomal abnormality (like Down's syndrome), I would not end the pregnancy unless it was clear that the child wouldn't survive. Even before I got married, I knew that abortion was something that I, personally, couldn't do.

So, knowing that sometimes eggs are fertilized when you have an IUD, and that the IUD makes it impossible for them to implant and grow into children... That's hard for me, too. I think about the potential, the children that could've been, and I have to remind myself of the days when I can barely handle two kids - much less every kid that I could possibly have.

What I'm slowly getting around to is that I understand the Duggar Family's reason for not preventing pregnancy. I understand the thoughts and feelings that have led them to decide that God will bless them with as many children as He sees fit, and they'll find a way to manage it. I get it. I've been very close to trying to talk BJ into a similar philosophy (although, in this house, there would be a limit to the total number of kids happening. I'm not crazy).

But, wow. 18 kids. Having to schedule one-on-one time with Mom. Kids raising their younger siblings. An industrial kitchen. Driving a short bus. I just don't think that makes sense. I don't think it's fair to the other kids, as evidenced by the looks on the faces of some of the little ones when Mom Duggar made her announcement in the video.

There just isn't enough of me to go around as it is. Frankly, I don't know how they find the time to make all these babies!

BJ and I have been kicking around the idea of going for #3. But I worry. I worry that we don't have space in this house for another child. I worry that a third child will make it hard for me to give Mary Grace and Claire the attention they need. I worry that there won't be any attention left for BJ. I worry that the cat and dog will starve. I worry about all the same things I worried about when I was pregnant with Claire, actually, and that sort of helps. I mean, I know it all worked out with Claire, so it'll find a way to work out if we have another, too.

I wonder if there's a point when you can say, "Hey, we're managing 9 (or 13 or 15), what's one more?"

How did/do you decide what size is right for your family?

*I am politically pro-choice because I don't want the government to compel any woman to carry a pregnancy to term, and because the practical ramifications of saying, "You can only have an abortion if the mother's life is in danger, if she's been raped, or if the baby is the product of incest..." are too difficult to overcome. If they said that, women who wanted an abortion would randomly accuse men of rape or incest, whether or not it had happened, to secure the abortion, then drop the charges later. What is that going to do to these men and their reputations? Who gets to decide if a mother's life is in danger? It just wouldn't work within the limitations of time and our legal system, and so abortion must remain safe and legal, IMHO. If you need to roast me, do it in the comments, and try to be respectful.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Oh. My. God.

Remember The Duck Incident of Ought-Seven?

Who would've ever thought that it would be mentioned on the (expletive deleted, but it rhymed with "ducking") Today Show?

Good Lord. I'm not just a judgmental bitch, I'm a famous judgmental bitch.

Thanks for not using my name, Kristin!!

It's finally Friday!

I would like to thank the federal government for electing to send the stimulus checks to those of us who selected "direct deposit" and whose social security numbers end in 21 - 75 two days before Mother's Day. Excellent timing. $1800 will buy a lot of flowers.

Although this Mama is weird, and would rather have a really super playset in the back yard (or a new roof, or the siding finished, or landscaping, or the drywall fixed where the roof leaked, or...) than jewelry or flowers.

Because you can't throw your kids out the back door and say, "Go play with my 1 carat diamond earrings and leave me alone!" but you CAN say, "Go play on the playset and leave me alone!" and that, friends, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Originally I said we were going to pay down debt with the stimulus check, but then it occurred to me that the debt is always going to be there, so I'm just not going to worry about it anymore. We're in a lot less debt than most other people our age. So, right, nevermind the debt. They say if we pay down debt, the economy won't be stimulated, anyway, so we shouldn't do that. We have our marching orders. Go forth and purchase!

So, what are you going to do with your stimulus check?

Take the poll, then leave a comment with all the delicious details.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mother's Day Madness

I don't know what it is about Mother's Day that makes me feel like I need to do arts and crafts, but every year I end up coming up with some tremendous (read: idiotic) idea for some project I think I can do, and buying all the stuff, then procrastinating until midnight on the Wednesday before Mother's Day (gotta have time to ship 'em), staying up half the night and making gifts for the four (4) moms in our lives.

I was up until 2:30 am, but I am really, really happy with the way they turned out. Of course, I can't tell you what they are because the Grandmas read this blog, but I'll post pictures on Monday. I will also be giving away one personalized, customized one of the things that I made for the Grandmas to one of my beloved winners, so be sure to come back Monday to enter!!

In honor of Mother's Day, I have compiled a job description for Mothers.

On call 24/7/365.
Activity coordinator.
Appointment maker.
Art director.
Bargain finder.
Bed maker.
Birthday rememberer.
Calendar keeper.
Card sender.
Dish washer.
Entertainment engineer.
Flower arranger.
Fun provider.
Gift buyer.
Grandparent-relationship facilitator.
Grocery shopper.
Hair fixer.
Holiday celebrator.
Household manager.
Image consultant.
Injury kisser.
Job (outside the home, that you get a paycheck for) holder.
Justice dispenser.
Knot un-tie-er.
Lesson teacher.
Love giver.
Memory keeper.
Memory maker.
Menu planner.
Monster chaser.
Nail trimmer.
Organic vs. non-organic agonizer.
Outing coordinator.
Party planner.
People pleaser.
Pet caregiver.
Phone caller.
Quality time provider.
Question answerer.
Refrigerator Cleaner.
Rule maker.
Schedule maintainer.
Shoe finder.
Short order cook (3 meals, 2 snacks per day).
Sleep loser.
Story reader.
Teacher of everything (walking, talking, reading, alphabet, numbers, shoe tying, etc.)
Toy finder.
Understanding of toddler language facilitator.
Vehicle maintainer.
Xmas gift buyer.
Yucky substance cleaner.
Zen-like calm maintainer.

Oh, and you have to do it all while making it look effortless, stylish, healthy, and fun.

And they wonder why our hair turns gray... Sheesh.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

DWFMW: What doesn't work for me

So, another theme at Rocks in my Dryer today, what DOESN'T work for me...

The only thing I could come up with is television.

I don't watch much TV at all. In fact, I could happily give up the TV entirely and spend that $80 a month on wine, but other members of my household would be very put out.

Since having kids, keeping up with any particular show has become virtually impossible. I just can't guarantee that I am going to be available at any particular time during any particular week, and I'll bet you can't either.

Luckily, my husband is a little bit of a genius, and he likes to tinker with computers. He built a computer that is, essentially, a TiVo (without fees!). The cable is routed through the computer, and with a program called "Beyond TV," we are able to record shows that we like and watch them when we want. The only limit is how much hard drive space we have available, and since there are more computers in this house than people (current people count: 5; current computer count: 6), hard drive space isn't much of an issue.

So, we record a lot of Mickey Mouse and Charlie and Lola for you know who. I record Dr. Phil and Oprah so I can watch them when I'm folding laundry (but to be honest, I delete about 80% of what I record because I am just not interested in Oprah and all her fabulous friends, or in all of Dr. Phil's crazy people). I record ER because I still love it, even though every main character on the show who is a woman turns into a total skank within 2 seasons. I record the Daily Show, and watch it occasionally. We record Saturday Night Live every time it's new, and then we fast forward to the Weekend Update, and maybe the musical guest, and then delete it.

We actually delete more than we watch, which, to me, is great. We can selectively watch what interests us, and not feel like we need to waste our time watching what happens to be on, just because it might be interesting. It has really changed the way that we watch TV, and it has changed it for the better. We don't sit in front of the boob tube and veg out anymore. We watch only what we're really, genuinely interested in. We watch TV on our terms, and we fast forward the commercials. That saves about 20 minutes per hour of TV, too.

Oh, and we can record movies that are broadcast, too. This is a feature because they clean up the language to broadcast them, so we can watch movies with the kids underfoot that might not otherwise be appropriate.

If you have a geek (or if you are a geek) and you want details on how this was all done, I can probably get BJ to write it out so I can post it. I know that you need an ATI video card and the program Beyond TV. Beyond that, it's above my head. If you aren't blessed with your very own in-home IT department, you can get a TiVo and do the same thing.

So, TV is what doesn't work for me. What doesn't work for you? Visit Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer for more DWFMW posts. And click here if you want to read the rest of my WFMW ideas! Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon! w

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

PBTV: Our Farm Movie!

Hey, I must be getting better at doing these videos - this one didn't take half as long...

We sure had a great time. I was so proud of my big girl for not being afraid of all the chickens. If you can hear the nervous laughter coming from me over the music, you'll know that she doesn't get that from her mommy. She is fearless. And she was such a good girl, if I do say so.

Thanks again, Nancy! It was a day we'll never forget!

Classic Children's Literature

Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb, Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white and black.
And everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went, everywhere that Mary went that lamb, he had her back.

They ran all through the pasture there, pasture there, pasture there, they ran all through the pasture there beyond the metal gate.

And she fed him lots of grass, lots of grass, lots of grass, and she fed him lots of grass which he happily ate.

Little Baa helped gather eggs, gather eggs, gather eggs. Little Baa helped gather eggs out in the chicken coop.

He did not even mind the smell, mind the smell, mind the smell. Did not even mind the smell when Mary stepped in poop.

Best Outing Ever

Wow, you all, we had a blast at the farm. MG was so brave and so good. She fed the chickens and played with Little Baa and patted the oxen and chased the ducks and frolicked with the Goosey Goosey and taunted the peacock and it was awesome!

But BJ rented Cloverfield (really. freaking. scary. Don't rent it. Just don't), and now it's 1 am so I do not have the energy or the time to write all about it (even though I'm too spazzed out to go to bed).

Juno, the other movie we rented, was cute, but I'm saving it and Baby Mama to talk to you about when I talk about the book I'm reading, which I haven't finished yet because I've been going on awesome outings. So. Don't expect a post early tomorrow (Connie!!) because I have a morning playdate and I'm going to try to get to work in the afternoon... I should be able to write Tuesday night, and hopefully I can catch up on all this stuff by the weekend.

Or not, whatever, it's not like I'm being graded on this, right?

(But if I were to get a grade, what grade would you give me? *wink*)

Here's a picture to keep you in suspense:

That's Little Baa. He was so cute and so sweet, and if I weren't pretty sure that it would break all kinds of zoning laws, he would've come home with us.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Claire's brush with fame

See that cute boy, Jonah? That's Claire's boyfriend Jerad. Think I'm kidding? Look at the way he looks at her.

He even loves her when she's in a bad mood.

Ok, actually he's my friend Amanda's husband Matt's cousin Kristina's soon-to-be-husband. Talk about six degrees of separation. We met them last December at Amanda and Matt's wedding.

Not only is he famous, he's a super nice guy. Actually, everyone at the wedding was super nice. It was so much fun. I just had to brag a bit, because I am a charter member of Jerad's fan club and everything.