Saturday, January 31, 2009

Phototherapy Report

Thank you all for your very interesting comments and e-mails about my recent thyroid/migraine/sleepiness trifecta. It certainly has given me a lot to think about. I know that I snore (in a very cute and ladylike manner, of course) because BJ has complained about it mentioned it all the time once or twice. Dad (thanks again for the light box, Dad!) has sleep apnea and a CPAP machine and the whole bit, so if it's at all hereditary (maybe we have floppy uvulas or something in the family) I guess it's a possibility.

In other uvula news, Aunt Kathryn gave MG and C a bag of old books, one of which was The Human Body which has all kinds of skinless pictures of people (showing organs, showing bones, showing circulatory system, showing all of the above, etc.) and she is absolutely fascinated with the picture that shows the mouth (teeth, tongue, tonsils, uvula). She looks at it while she eats. Kids are weird. But it's definitely progress on my long-term health insurance plan, which is to have one of the kids become a doctor, so thanks again, Kathryn!!

I went to the tanning salon yesterday. I put on sunscreen and avoided the beds with "bronzer" (whatever that is). As I told them, "I don't want to be tan, I just need a shot of sunshine." They put me in the massaging bed, which is exactly like the put-a-quarter-in-and-it-vibrates bed that's always in a cheap hotel in movies (do these even exist outside of the tanning salon world?). Afterwards, they asked me how it was, and I said, "It was exactly like lying on the beach... during an earthquake."

I'm a bit splotchy today. I guess I didn't put the lotion on correctly. I was kind of in a hurry because I wasn't sure how long I was supposed to take. I mean, it's 10 minutes in the bed (5 on front, 5 on back, jiggling with the "massager" the whole time), but would they think I was taking too long to get undressed and dressed, or not long enough? These are the things I overthink. I always end up racing to get undressed before the doctor comes in (when I'm at the kind of doctor's appointment where your clothes are off) and then sitting there freezing forever because they're giving me a normal-person amount of time to get into the paper gown.

I also worried a lot about the flipping over part. I was afraid I'd touch the top of the bed and burn myself. I tried to look to see how much room I had, but the stupid goggles really affect your depth perception, so I took them off and probably fried my retinas. I decided to just risk it and turn over as carefully as I could without opening the clamshell-type lid on the coffin-like tanning bed/massager/vibrating bed thingie, and I didn't burn myself. It made it hard to relax, though, counting down the seconds and trying to figure out what to do.

I guess if they'd wanted it to be relaxing, they wouldn't have been piping in really loud rap music the whole time.

Anyway, Phototherapy Experiment #1 - complete. Results: I fell asleep with Claire at about 9:30 pm, again, last night.

You buy "phototherapy" in 30 minute increments, and since I only used 10, I have time left. I'll head back tomorrow, and probably Tuesday. We'll see if I'm any perkier.

I probably do need to re-address this with the doctor. Especially if all these things (thyroid, migraines, depression, tiredness, etc.) can be/probably are related.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Things That Don't Make Any Sense At All

I just typed in this blog's URL and got taken to some Bible College site... What the Jesus? I even checked, and I hadn't mistyped. Bizarre.

Not that there's anything wrong with Bible College, but in a blog where I talk freely about, well, everything... Let's just say that it's not what one expects when one comes here, and leave it there.

So, in other "Things That Don't Make Any Sense At All" news, I have been tired. I mean, Tired. Tired with two syllables, ti-erd. Or is that tierd? As in, something with tiers. I'm probably that too. I have been falling asleep when we put the kids to bed almost every night for a while now, and if I don't, I fall asleep on the couch while watching TV with BJ shortly thereafter. It's becoming a problem. I'm averaging 9 or 10 hours of sleep per night, and I'm still tired.

It has already been suggested, so bite your tongue (or your fingers, I guess) that I'm pregnant. I'm not. No, really, I'm not. BJ thinks I need to exercise, and he's probably right, but I could also take a nap. I think I'm going to try a little phototherapy - via the tanning salon down the street - before I head to the office today. I'll probably be a crispy critter after I fall asleep in the bed. Hopefully they're timed.

Other than my still sore shoulder, I have no other symptoms - no cough, no sneezing, no running of noses, no stomach upset, no GI distress of any kind. I'm drinking coffee again, now that Claire's weaned. Doesn't help. Still tired. Maybe I have the African Sleeping sickness. Maybe I have mono again. Maybe I'm still a hypochondriac. I got my thyroid rechecked in early January, and it was normal, in spite of the "borderline low" reading they got in November.

If it doesn't go away after I go tanning and start exercising again, I'm going to the doctor. This is really disrupting my everything. Poor BJ must be so lonely... When he gets home we do the parenting thing, and when we should be doing the married thing (you know, talking about people who are more than four feet tall, giving each other back rubs, etc.) I'm snoring in Claire's bed. Please be extra nice to BJ while I sort this out. Give him backrubs and talk to him about what's on CNN and NPR, so that he doesn't notice that I'm in a coma, ok?

In other TTDMASAA news, Claire tried to put pepper on her banana this morning, so I took it away, and now she's doing pushups on the table and licking up the pepper that was left behind. Um.... Kids are weird.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Playing Outside In The Snow

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Long Shot

I know this is a LOOOOONG shot, but does anyone want to babysit the PBs on Valentine's Day? It's a Saturday night, and BJ and I would really like to go out. We'd prefer for someone to watch them at our house, but that person is welcome to sleep over.

Fire me an e-mail if you're interested!!

We're at home today, doing laundry mostly. I totally spaced an appointment we had at 9:30 to do a Language Study at the University. Whoops. The researcher called and we set up the schedule for the rest of the study, and I actually Put It On The Calendar, so I won't forget again. Sheesh. Of course this happens within milliseconds of me posting about how incredibly organized I am. I am a big dork.

What's really stupid is that we were up at 7 and I if I'd had half a brain, we could've made it with time to spare. Narg.

In addition to the laundry, I also need to go through the kids' clothes and pull out the things that they've outgrown, and go through the toys and pull out the things that they no longer play with. This is probably my least-favorite parental duty. I have to save the toys for naptime, because as soon as I touch something it suddenly is MAGIC, and we can't possibly part with it. Kids are weird. I wonder if they have Amvets here - it would sure be convenient to have someone come get all this stuff, rather than having to load it all in the van in the snow and take it myself. I've done Freecycle before, but it was a little creepy.

On the other hand, if I get rid of this stuff, I will immediately get pregnant. It'll probably all end up in the attic, instead.

What are you up to today?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter: I'm over it

I used to like winter. I loved snow days... time to sit around and read and stay warm, drinking cocoa and taking a break from the daily grind. I even enjoyed driving in snow - it was kind of exciting and different to slide around a little bit. I felt like I'd mastered the elements when I got where I was going, in spite of the bad weather. I laughed at people who were afraid to drive in snowy weather.

Now I have kids, and I hate snow.

I hate everything snow stands for. I especially hate the way it looks a couple of days after the storm, when everyone has driven over it and it's no longer white - it looks sooty and dirty and old. Hate that.

Someone who doesn't have to shovel walks and driveways really has no right to hate snow the way I do, but I do.

I hate having to bundle the kids up against the cold, finding two pairs of matching mittens, boots, hats that inevitably get taken off before we're even out the door, leaving a still-cold head and mussed hair.

I hate the virusses (virii?). We've been lucky this year, knock wood, but flu season isn't over yet.

I hate driving in this crap with my kids in the car - slipping and sliding is no longer exciting, it's terrifying. The plow didn't come through our neighborhood until almost 11 am today, making short work of plowing me in, after BJ shoveled the driveway. Nice.

I hate the changes in our schedule - the preschool delays, the closed gymnastics because the furnace never ignited - because it freaks the kids right out when our schedule is disrupted.

I hate the kids' fascination with stomping through the snow, because they get their pants wet, and when I finally get them all buckled into the warm car, and it starts to melt, they complain about their cold legs and feet. They freeze on the way to wherever we're going, and they roast when they get there from all the layers. I even have to do more laundry than I do in decent weather, because they have to wear two shirts, or change their wet socks three times.

I hate that we end up staying home most days because I just do not want to bundle them up and get them into the car, then bundle them out of the car to get where we're going, and then do it all again in reverse when we leave.

I want to go back and slap my 25 year old self for freaking out about the possibility of moving to Southern California. I told BJ, "I can't POSSIBLY live there."

I was a moron.

The only consolation is that Claire looks so stinkin' cute in her cold weather gear. Observe:

You can't see them behind the bag (the princesses have staged a full-scale invasion of our house, and won), but she has hot pink boots with butterflies on them (hand-me-downs from the fabulous neighbor Chelsea), which she calls her "flies" even though she is perfectly capable of saying "boots." Too cute. That, and the remote starter on my car are *almost* enough to make winter bearable...

But not quite. After all, she'd look just as cute in a sundress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wally World

At Walmart early this morning due to a dead coffee maker, we walked through lingerie looking for hats. MG pointed at the bras.

"Those are for mommies," she declared.

"Do you know what those are called?" I asked.

"Yeah, boob holders!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Things I'm not going to talk about...

I am not going to talk about the beautiful wedding we went to on Saturday, mainly because I drank a lot of Cabernet on an empty stomach and don't remember a whole lot of it. Whoops. No more drinking in Grammaland, seriously.

I am not going to discuss the deceptively small looking but large volume containing wine glasses at Aberdeen.

I am not going to share anything about the fabulous "bed and breakfast" we stayed at, which included free childcare and dogcare, because if I do everyone will want to stay there when they visit Grammaland and we'll never be able to get a reservation.

Further, I am not going to try to convince my cousin to transfer to the college down here and live with us - she knows that I would take her in a heartbeat!!

I am going to talk about something completely unrelated to all of the above: massage.

Do you remember being a teenager? I don't anymore, either, but one thing that I can't forget is how much growing hurt. It hurt a lot. BJ actually had a condition called Osgood-Schlatter's because he grew so fast that it screwed up his knees. My growing pains weren't so bad, but I remember that my legs ached badly sometimes.

And if you think about it, we don't grow as fast when we're teens as we do when we're babies and toddlers - we just don't remember what it feels like as babies and toddlers because we were so little.

That's why I am a firm believer in infant/toddler massage. I rub Claire's legs and feet almost every night before bed. It helps her settle down to sleep. Mary Grace still likes to have her back rubbed, too.

Here's the thing - you don't have to read a book or take a class, although those things don't hurt. All you have to do is apply gentle pressure to your baby's muscles. Claire likes to have me "play piano" on her feet - I put her foot in my hand and alternate pressure on each of my fingertips, as though I'm playing the piano. She also likes it when I squeeze her little legs, just a bit.

Massaging a baby's head can also help with the pain of teething. Just run your fingers through her hair, play piano on her forehead, and keep trying different motions until you find one, or several, that your child is soothed by.

Beyond the obvious benefits of helping to induce sleep and soothing pain, I think that infant massage is beneficial simply due to the awesome healing power of touch. Researchers have done experiments with monkeys, and those who aren't touched go crazy. Babies who are massaged gain weight better, are more socially adjusted, and are more equipped to thrive than those who aren't. So, next time you're having a rough night with your kids, try a massage. Head, back, legs, feet - it doesn't really matter. Your technique doesn't matter. What really counts is a loving touch. A touch that says, "I want you to feel good," louder than words possibly could.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Migraine Thursday (Friday Update)

I never should've weaned Claire. I should have breastfed her until she went away to college. Seriously. I forgot how bad it is to have hormones. I forgot about migraines.

I can honestly say that having a migraine is worse than being in labor, at least for me. At least when you're having a baby, everyone is there cheering you on, telling you that you're doing great, and at the end you have a baby. When you have a migraine, it's just you and your pain, alone in the dark, wanting to cry but knowing that it'll actually make the pain worse. Ugh.

Imitrex works, but it's weird. It feels like it pushes the pain out of the top of your head, so your migraine gradually moves up from your ears and gets smaller and smaller until you realize it's gone. Then you're just left with shoulder and neck pain from trying to hold Very still so as not to disturb your migraine. I wonder if the shots work any better? If this continues (every 3 weeks!) I may have to overcome my needle thing and try it. The doctor (not our usual doc, his partner) offered me a preventative medicine that you take at bedtime, but it apparently knocks you out, and I told her that with the kids still getting up in the night, I can't be knocked out. It's not safe. I may also have to revise that opinion and let BJ deal with the nighttime shenanigans around here so that I can stop losing entire days to headaches.

I took the kids down to the Children's Museum yesterday, and Claire kept running away. She ran away in Garden Ridge (the store we stopped at to get my mom some chairs - have you been there? It's AWESOME, like a Tuesday Morning on steroids. I got a couple of rugs (yay!) and need to go back when I have fewer kids and more time and money). She thought we were playing hide and seek. I could hear her laughing, but she's so short that I couldn't see her. It was horrifying. As if that wasn't bad enough, she and Mary Grace kept running in opposite directions in the museum. Thank goodness it wasn't crowded yesterday. The final straw was when, as we were leaving, she ran around the front of the car and away from me in the parking garage. Oh. No. You. Didn't. Claire!

I'm not taking this child anywhere else until she grows some sense.

Anyway, that's approximately when the migraine started, so I really can't say if it was hormones or stress. Either way, BJ ended up making dinner and I went to bed at 7:30, and didn't get up until 6:30 this morning. I didn't sleep that whole time - I finally fell asleep at about 9:30, and I was up for a while around 4, but I couldn't do anything but lie still. It was hideous. Definitely not something I want to make a habit of with two small, noisy kids in the house.

My cousin started an online family tree and asked for help, so using my mad googling skillz and the recognition of names that I'd seen before in our family geneaology when my great-grandma had it, I got her back to 1500 (this was before I went to bed, while BJ was making supper). Boo-ya! Not bad at all. Of course, it's all secondary sources, but there was some really cool information on some of the websites. We're directly descended from this dude named Ephraim Minor, who was important enough to be the jumping off point for a lot of geneaologists. He lived from 1642 - 1724, and probably has thousands and thousands of living descendants. In fact, knowing that he's in my geneaology will probably cause several of you to realize that we're related. I'm working on fleshing out the direct ancestors in another branch tonight, if I finish blogging and Claire stops chewing on goofy things (like the dining room table).

Oh, wait, it's mostly family who reads this. You already KNOW that we're related. Duh.

Nothing else much going on. I had a friend come over for a visit today while MG was at school, then went to work this afternoon. What's new with you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

25 Random Things

For those of you who aren't on Facebook, I'm reprinting this here... If you want to participate, too, feel free!

Rules: Once you're tagged, write 25 random things about yourself, then tag 25 people who must then post their own note with their own 25 random things.

I've been tagged for this a couple of times, so I'd better get crackin'. 25 is a lot.

1) I love to cook. I use recipes, but I don't always follow them. I cook by feel more often than not, just throwing whatever makes sense into a pot. Consequently, we eat a wide variety of things, and I often find myself unable to make something a second time. I probably should start writing things down.

2) I am uber-organized when it comes to our schedule. I use Google Calendar to keep track of every-damn-thing, and am constantly trying to improve my organization. I just wrote about this at

3) Blogging is one of my most favorite things to do. I've always wanted to be a diarist, but I've never had the self-discipline to do it daily. I have dozens of old diaries that I kept for a couple of weeks then abandoned, and nearly all of them are embarrassing, but I can't bear to throw them away. The public nature of blogging helps me in two ways - a) I don't write anything I wouldn't want to see in the local paper, eliminating the embarrassment, and b) if I don't post for a couple days, people start e-mailing me to say, "What's wrong?" and it reminds me to keep going. Also, I type much faster and better than I write.

4) I have done something really stupid to my left shoulder, and yesterday it hurt so bad that I had to actually use my right arm to move my left arm. I'd go to the doctor except it feels better today. It's probably a rotator cuff injury, or bursitis. Bursitis makes me sound and feel old.

5) I've known my husband since we were 11 years old. We went to middle school and high school together, but didn't date until we were 21. We have one of the cutest "how we got together" stories I've ever heard. You can read it here if you want to:

6) If I was stranded on a deserted island, but I had a computer with internet access, I think I could be happy.

7) I have read hundreds of books, maybe even thousands. I am usually working on 2 or 3 books at a time. Right now I can think of 5 that I've started, and will finish within a month. When I go to a bookstore and they have a display, like the staff recommendations at Barnes & Noble I like to count how many of them I've already read. It makes me feel erudite.

8) I like big words, but I often pronounce words incorrectly because I've read them, but never heard them. The most humiliating example being "fruition" which I pronounced "fruit-ti-tion" until someone corrected me. I use online dictionaries that allow you to push a button and hear the word spoken, now, in order to avoid further embarrassment.

9) I am a terrible, but enthusiastic, dancer.

10) I have been abroad three times. Once with my aunt and grandmother when I was 11 - we took a cruise around the Baltic for nearly a month, and it was phenomenal. I went to France once in high school and once when Mary Grace was about a year old. I really want to go back. I would love to see Ireland and Scotland.

11) I've never lived anywhere but Indiana. I have lived in almost every major Indiana city. I always thought I'd live in Chicago, but I never quite made it. Maybe someday...

12) I love to sing and often give loud concerts in the car, to an appreciative audience of toddlers and dashboard. If you see some crazy woman in a minivan rockin' out, that's probably me.

13) I love the color Chocolate Brown, both to wear and to decorate with, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be the Avacado Green or Harvest Gold of this decade, and will look hopelessly out of style when we look back at the 2000s in pictures.

14) In the beginning of the decade, I waged a concentrated campaign to refer to this decade as "the zips." It didn't catch on.

15) I like to think that I'm funny, but it could just be that I have no qualms about humiliating myself, often in public.

16) I'm that annoying person who strikes up conversations with random people everywhere I go. People are almost always nice to me.

17) I watch ER religiously, even though it's stupid and predictable. I also watch 24, Heroes, The Big Bang Theory, The Daily Show, and Saturday Night Live. I hate reality TV. I'm disillusioned with Oprah, and the only reason I ever watch Dr. Phil anymore, which is rarely, is to laugh when he yells at people. I rarely watch the news, because I find it depressing. That's why I like the Daily Show, it makes me laugh. BJ tells me what I need to know about the world, so I let him watch the news and distill it for me into manageable pieces, rather than sitting here watching CNN and freaking out all day.

18) I tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac.

19) I have a terrible memory. I remember things that never happened, and have a hard time remembering anything before high school.

20) I have a lot of wonderful friends, and am extremely close with my extended family, but my husband is truly my best friend. He balances out all my crazy with all of his sanity.

21) I work for BJ. I do the bookkeeping and much of the non-engineering stuff for his company. Not only are we a husband and wife business team, but so are my mom and step-dad, and so were my mom's parents, and so were BJ's mom's parents. Even though people always say, "Oh, I could NEVER work with my spouse!" when they find out that we work together, it feels normal to me and I really can't imagine life any other way at this point.

22) I want a big family, but I'm not sure that I can handle another small child at this point.

23) I would rather go grocery shopping than clothes shopping, which explains a lot.

24) I love Honeycrisp apples and am excited that they are available year round at my grocery store, now. I also like bananas, but only when they're just barely ripe. Overripe bananas make my teeth hurt. I don't drink juice. I don't really care for oranges and other citrus fruit, especially lemon in my iced tea - yuck! I like melon, but it's a pain in the butt - I only eat it when it's already cut up for me. I like grapes and most berries.

25) I am addicted to coffee, but I also like tea. I find that most people are either tea or coffee people, but not both. Not me. I'll take my caffeine any way I can get it!

Holy carp, that's a lot of things. Your turn!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Grade is a Dictatorship, not a Democracy

Mimi writes:
I talked to my class today about Barack Obama and why today was such an important day in America. One little girl, with a huffy breath, said he is the bad President. I told her that as you treat your parents and your teachers with respect, you will treat your new president as well.

Some people in this household think that I am inhibiting her freedom of speech. What do you think?
I think respect is a virtue that is undervalued by our culture, and I wish more first grade teachers, like you, and parents would try to instill it in their students.

It is one thing to disagree with someone's politics, it is another to call him a bad person, or a bad president (before he's even had a chance to do the job!).

If you had duct taped her mouth shut (don't laugh, it has happened in schools, yikes!), or if you had given her a detention for disagreeing with you, that would be inhibiting her freedom of speech. She can give her opinion, as is her right, but it is well within your rights as the teacher, and your responsibilities as a leader, to require that she do so respectfully.

Kids are in bed, Mimi, call me if you want...


I feel like I should say something profound, but I really can't come up with the words. Instead, I'll just give you my random thoughts, as usual...

I had a really good time watching the twitter feed (which you can find here) this morning before the inauguration. I heard about the person who got hit by a train on the red line of the metro and the disturbance at the purple gate before the media reported either. All of this technology has truly changed our world, and it's interesting to have a president who blogs, twitters, and uses social media... like me.

It is also interesting to have a First Dad, a parent of two girls... like me.

I thought that the invocation was well done, in spite of the uproar from the gay community about the choice of minister. Aretha has sounded better, but it's hard to sing when it's 20 degrees. Loved her hat. I loved the benediction. I didn't love the poem. I loved the music - especially Perlman and Ma, talk about an orchestral dream team! I loved that Mr. and Mrs. Obama walked much of the parade route. I would've loved to have been there, to have seen it in person.

On NPR I heard someone mention all the different hats that Hillary Clinton was wearing today... She was there as a former First Lady, as a former candidate, as a former Senator, and as the incoming Secretary of State. Wow. That's a lot of hats. I thought she and Bill looked good.

What do you think John McCain did today? I'll bet he's relieved, honestly, that the burdens of the economy and the war on terror and all of the other problems facing our country aren't his to bear. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be the president. It sounds like a big load of stress, to me. I can barely handle the pressure of my little bookkeeping job. Yikes.

At one point, I had CNN on the TV, another CNN feed on the computer, Twitter and Facebook up all at once. I really need to dial back my inner tech geek.

Mainly, I am impressed by many of my republican friends, and my independent husband, who say, "I may not have voted for him, but I will pray for him and support him. He's our president, now."

I hope that he is as beloved on his last day of office as he is today. I hope that he can do what he promises. I hope that this is the dawn of a new era for all of us.

And I hope that tomorrow, when the parties are over, that he gets to work. He's going to need every hour of the next four years to do half of what he says he'll do. Good luck, Mr. President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Interview Me!

Saw Patty do this on her blog, and thought it was a great idea...

The Rules:

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." (And your e-mail address, please.)

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Your Questions:

1. What are the 5 best days of your life (do not include weddings and births- too easy!)?

1) The day I finally finished college.
2) Any of the days I've spent abroad, particularly in France with BJ, Fran, and "Pierre."
3) Any of the many, many days I've spent at home, laughing with my family, particularly the Thanksgiving when Mom made the chicken do the macarena.
4) My sisters' weddings - see above, laughing with family.
5) Tomorrow. I love possibility.

2. Do you worry about your children reading your blog when they are older?

No, I would give anything to be able to read my mom's thoughts from when my siblings and I were growing up. I try not to write anything I wouldn't want to see in the local paper.

3. What are your feelings about the inauguration on Tuesday?

I'm excited about Obama's presidency, but I'm a little disappointed that his first official act as president is to spend more than anyone has ever spent on an inauguration before. It seems like a bad precedent to set, and I'm disappointed. But I hope that he can do the things he promises to do. I hope that this is a new beginning for our country, and our world.
4. If you could only listen to one musician for the rest of your life (both their past and future music) whenever you turned on the radio who would it be?

Ooohhh... that's hard. I really like U2, both because of their music, and because of the memories that their music evokes for me. I think it would have to be something that I could really sing. My dashboard is a great audience.

5. If you could eliminate one word from the English language, what would it be?


Thanks Patty! If you want to participate, leave a comment and an e-mail address!

Family Organization

My friend Rachel says:
"Ooh! Ooh! Teach me how! Each time I "do the calendar" it takes me one hour to sit down and work out all the logistics of my schedule, Jeff's work, Alex's school functions, Ethan's preschool, not to mention meals... it's my least favorite thing to do. Next to trimming the dog's toenails. In fact, I still have yet to go grocery shopping this weekend, or plan meals... (But we have tomorrow off...) I could use the help. Lots of organizational help."
You have come to the right blog, Rachel!! (Click "the right blog" for my last post about Gcal).

Google Calendar is amazing, because you can set up an million different calendars, and you can share them. Each member of my household has his or her own Gcal, in addition to those four, I have one called "Bills," one for "Work," one for "Family Travel and Events," one for "Meal Planning." I can toggle them on and off to see different peoples' schedules for the week, or toggle them all on to see everything.

I've discovered several keys to maintaining a calendar, over the years, which I shall share with you in the form of Commandments.

1 - Thou shalt have no other calendars before Gcal.

If you try to have multiple calendars, you will get them screwed up and miss something. You must have only one calendar - if you need to, you can print out the Gcal and keep it in your purse, but no getting some cute calendar with puppies on it or something, and then having two, because that will ruin you. The nice thing about Gcal is that you can see it from anywhere and everywhere. I can even access mine from my phone. You can share it with your husband, so he can see it too. You don't need any other calendars.

2 - Thou shalt put events on thy calendar immediately.

School is constantly sending home notes and reminders and whatnot, especially around the holidays. The moment I get home, I put them on top of my computer. The very next time I open up my computer, I put them on my calendar. Then I throw them away. If I wait, I forget. If I make a doctor's appointment, same thing, it goes on the calendar immediately. Plans? On the calendar. If I'm on the phone with Mom and she says she's going to Florida from the 15th to the 30th - on the calendar (Family Travel and Events - which also holds birthdays and anniversaries of relatives and friends). I even have a calendar where I keep my Dad's work schedule (when he remembers to give it to me).

3 - Thou shalt plan thine meals

This is where my Google calendar really rocks, because the hardest part of being responsible for 3 meals and 2 snacks a day for 4 people, for me, is planning the meals. I have a separate calendar (called Meal Planning) where I put in dinner (lunch is easier for me, don't know why... Lower expectations, maybe?). In the "WHAT" field, I put, for example, "French onion soup, salad." Then in the WHEN field, I set it up to repeat yearly, and BJ can deal... In the DESCRIPTION field, I put the recipe... usually copied and pasted from Then, when I'm ready to hit the store, I just copy the recipe to a Google Documents file, delete the things I already have, and arrange them by section of the store (so I don't forget anything, produce with produce, etc.)

If I have a coupon, I put a big C after the item on the list, so I don't forget to use the coupon.

Once I have the meals for 4 or 5 days on the calendar, and then move them onto my grocery list, all I have to do is fill in the other stuff for other meals (bagels, bread, cereal, milk, fruit for breakfast, cheese for grilled cheese, soup, and a lot of leftovers for lunch) and go to the store. Then when the calendar says, "French onion soup, salad," I know I have all the stuff I need.

Next year, when everything is already loaded up and ready to go, I'll just copy the list over to my grocery list and I won't have to worry about, "Gee, what sounds good this week?" or "I wonder if I have a recipe for French onion soup," because it's already there! And if I try a meal and we hated it, I can delete it and fill in with something else next year.

I've got the Google Documents grocery list set up to share with BJ, so that if he has a random thought in the middle of the day, like, "Gee, I need deodorant," he can add it and it will be there next time I go to the store. It's also good for things we run out of mid-week, that I may not remember during my trip to the store, like ketchup - staples that I assume we have.

Gcal is searchable, too, so if you're in the mood for soup, and you don't remember when you had that one onion soup, but you liked it, you can tell it to find "onion soup" and it'll bring up your French onion soup recipe from last month, as well as any meatloaf recipes and whatnot that have "onion soup" mix in them.

Next year I'm going to put my Christmas cookies in on the days that I make them, so that I can easily find the recipes for the ones we like (the ones I make year after year) the following year.

4 - Thou shalt not enable thine family to abuse you.

As the kids get older, I'm going to make them more responsible for maintaining their own calendars. If Mary Grace plays the cello in 5th grade, she can put her own lessons on the calendar and share them with me. BJ maintains his own calendar, and shares it with me, so I know what's going on in his work world. He also uses Outlook, but that's just because he's weird and stubborn. I don't care, so long as he's onboard with the Gcal, too. There are programs that will sync your calendars between Google and Outlook, but I don't love any of them.

Since the kids are little and I am in charge, right now, I do it for them. They also profoundly suck at typing at this age. I put their doctors appointments, their activities, and so on on the calendar. I used to put when MG got a new tooth or something, but now I have the blog to record all that foolishness (as if I'll care, in 20 years, that she got her 14th tooth on a Wednesday...).
I think what I'm really saying, by "thou shalt not be abused," is that you need to get your husband on board with this plan and get him to use and maintain (and share) his own Gcal with you. That will eliminate 25% of your stress, right, if he keeps track of his own stuff?

5 - Thou shalt not remember.

When the kids are sick, I put their medicine on the calendar after I've given it to them, so I don't give them overdoses. For example, sometimes our doctor will have us give Tylenol, then 3 hours later give Ibuprofen, then 3 hours later give Tylenol, and so on. I think we've done that for ear infections... Well, with two kids and only half a brain, like I have, it can get pretty confusing (and Tylenol is easy to OD on) so I'll put it on the calendar - 7:30 am, Tylenol. 8 am, antibiotic. 10:30 am, Ibuprofen. That way, after nap when I can't remember what I gave to whom, when, I can go back and look and say, "Oh, ok, time for Tylenol." And put, "3 pm, Tylenol" on the calendar. I can also immediately see if I've missed a dose, which is particularly handy for antibiotics where they want you to finish the entire prescription, and you get to the end of 10 days and you still have half a bottle, you can call the doctor and say, "You said 10 days of this, but I haven't missed a dose and I still have half a bottle, what's up with that?"

Similarly, I have to do the payroll taxes monthly at work, and I almost always wake up on the morning of the 17th or 18th going "Oh shit, did I do the taxes?" (they're due on the 15th, and the government gets really pissy if you're late...). So, when I do the payroll taxes at work, I put a note on my Work calendar for that day saying, "Did payroll taxes," and then I can go back to sleep, knowing that they're done because Gcal said so and Gcal knows ALL.
See how Gcal is totally my brain? I don't have to remember all this trivial crap, because Google remembers it for me.

Do you forget birthdays? Put them in a week before the birthday (under WHAT put "Mom's birthday - 1 week") so you remember to get a card in the mail on time. Gcal will take away all of your excuses.

We have contracts at work with due dates for reports that are important because BJ needs to write the report and once it's submitted, I need to send the government a bill. So, when we get the contract, the first thing I do (going back to the immediacy issue I discussed, above) is put all the due dates into my "WORK" calendar and his regular calendar.

I have even been known to put my own symptoms and illnesses in Gcal. If I have a migraine on the 10th, the 15th, and the 21st, and then decide, "Gee, I've had a lot of migraines lately, I'd better see the doctor..." I can tell him exactly when I had each migraine. If I'm Taking Charge of (My) Fertility, I can keep track of that with Gcal, too. The opportunities are really limitless. Read a lot? Put the books you've read on Gcal (WHAT: Finished Book: The Time Traveler's Wife, DESCRIPTION: write a brief review, or where you sent it next, "Loaned to Megan," for example).

You don't have to ever remember anything again. If you want to know when you had migraines, you can search "migraine" and Google will tell you. If you want to know what books you've read this year, search "BOOK" and Google will tell you.

Set things up with searches in mind. Maybe put "DOSE" in for medicines so they're easily searchable. "TAXES" is searchable. See how this works?

6 - Thou shalt realize that the hardest part is starting it up.

If you spend a couple hours this week getting everything going, you'll be tired of Gcal. You'll be like, "Wow, this is a pain in the butt, why don't I just go back to using my old planner like I did in college?" Don't do that. You have to give it a chance to get running. Once you've been using it for a while (I just looked back, and it looks like I've been using mine since 2006!) it really runs itself.

Take advantage of the "repeat" function. It'll save you a ton of data entry.

7 - Thou shalt keep track of thy bills.

I am ashamed to admit that we used to be terrible about paying bills on time. There was really no excuse - we'd just forget. BJ set up a Gcal for "bills" (back when he was in charge of bills) that listed all the due dates (repeat = monthly) for all of our recurring expenses. On payday, I can look ahead for two weeks, pay all the bills that are going to come due in that time, and know exactly how much is leftover. I haven't paid a late fee in a long, long time with this system. Of course, I also pay all my bills online, now, and if your bank has that capability I highly recommend it, mainly because of all the stamps you'll save, but that's another post.

8 - Thou shalt be involved in thy community.

Have you ever been looking for something to do on a Sunday and realized, "Oh, heck, Popcorn fest was yesterday, and I totally meant to take the kids, but I completely forgot!" I put community events (half price day at the zoo, story time at the library, etc.) that I only have half an intention of maybe going to if there's nothing else happening on the "Family, Travel, and Events" calendar. So, if I'm sitting around on a Friday night thinking, "Gee, what are we going to do this weekend?" I can toggle that on and see, "Hey! Cool! Popcorn fest is this weekend!" or the fair or whatever... As soon as I hear about things, I put them in the Gcal, so that it remembers for me. There's a newsletter in my town called "Just Kidding" which lists all the events for kids in this area. When I used to get it (really need to resubscribe, although I can also pick it up at the library...) I would go through it the day I got it and put anything I was remotely interested in doing on the calendar. This is mainly for the summer months, when there's a lot going on. Open gym at the gymnastics place goes on the calendar, even if we're not completely committed to going. No one's charging by the item - Gcal is free! - so you might as well use it.

9 - Thou shalt use the "Guests" and "Share Calendar" functions liberally.

My mom and I were talking today, and I mentioned that I'm making chicken and wild rice chowder for dinner in a couple nights. She said it sounded good. I said I'd send her the recipe. I just sent it to her out of Gcal. In fact, if you want, I can share my entire meal planning calendar with you, and then you can just eat what we eat (which BJ will think is REALLY sad!). I invite BJ to stuff that he already knows about, as a reminder. Inviting is a powerful tool. Use it often.

10 - Thou shalt run out of commandments at #9.

Ok, I can't think of anything else. Questions? Sock 'em to me in the comments, and I'll put "answer Gcal questions" on my calendar for tomorrow. Hahhaa...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Of course...

The other day I mentioned that I'm really pissed about lead in vitamins. Well, today I finally got around to checking to see if the brand I've been giving the kids is among those tested. (I stopped giving them vitamins when I read the study, of course, pending further investigation).

Of course it is

Northwest Natural Products, Inc. of Vancouver, Washington is about to get a very strongly worded letter from yours truly.

Subject: Lead in my kids' vitamins

To Whom It May Concern,

It is with great disappointment that I discovered that the vitamins that I have been giving to my beautiful, smart young daughters (aged 22 months and 3.5 years) contain lead.

I tried to do the right thing, as a mother of children who occasionally eat only white food for days at a time. I trusted your company to help me provide the best nutrition possible for my children, and you gave them poison.

You gave them poison.

You really should be ashamed of yourselves, Northwest Natural Products. Your L'il Critters Gummy Vites have been poisoning innocent children for years. I trusted you. I trusted you with the health of my kids.

My older daughter has been taking your vitamins since she turned two. For a year and a half, you have been damaging my child.

I hope to God there's a class-action lawsuit against you. Regardless of the legal outcome, rest assured that you will rot in hell for hurting my kids.

E-mailed and posted for the world to see at with the hopes that other parents researching lead in Northwest Natural Products of Vancouver, Washington L'il Critters Gummy Vites will find this letter, and send one of their own, to .


Amy Prettybaby
Hell hath no fury...


It's all been kind of a lot, lately. There's been a lack of activities and an abundance of stuck-in-the-house, and I've been feeling it. So yesterday, BJ took the kids to Brandon's to play while I went out by myself.

First stop was Kohl's, because I need a few new shirts. All mine have kid gunk on them, go figure. As I was wandering through maternity (just passing through, I promise) to check out the jammies, I noticed a woman pushing a stroller. She was obviously pregnant, like "any minute now" pregnant. The kid in the stroller appeared to be right around one, while the other child with her was older (almost 5, it turned out).

"Wow, you're about to have your hands really full, aren't you?" I said to her, smiling. I know the rule is that you never mention to someone that she may be expecting unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment, but she was slender, aside from the basketball belly, and she was in the Maternity section, for heaven's sake.

"What, this?" she said, encompassing the children and the baby to come with a gesture, "This is nothing." She rubbed her belly. "This is number six. I have three more at home."

"You're KIDDING!" I said. She looked considerably younger than me. I paused. "Can I ask you a really personal question, since we don't know each other at all?" I kind of joked. "How do you do it? I only have two, and there are months when ends barely meet. How can you possibly afford six kids?"

"Oh, we want EIGHT! And I'll tell you, my husband is the sole provider for our family, and he only makes $12 an hour. We just have faith that God will provide, and he always does."

Wow. "I don't know how you do it," I said. "My two can drive me insane. I think five, or six, would send me over the edge."

"Well, once you have four, it's no big deal to add another!" she said. She really looked happy, and the kids were well cared for, clean, wearing nice clothes, well behaved... I imagined what I would look like if I had five kids (all under age 8) and was 8 months pregnant. The mental picture I arrived at was not pretty.

"Good luck to you!" I said, humbled, as she walked away.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Meal Planning

I can't believe it took me over a year to think of this...

Remember, oh, about 10,000 years ago when I told you that I use Google Calendar for meal planning? Well, I do. Sometimes. When I'm feeling organized and I have the luxury of sitting down for an hour to plan out what we're going to eat and make a grocery list. Usually I'm racing through the grocery store with two screaming kids, grabbing anything that looks like they might eat it, and rushing out before anyone recognizes me.

Today, though, BJ's taking the kids to Brandon's to play, and I will have several HOURS all to myself... bliss... so I was sitting here making my menu plan and I had this genius thought.

If I set everything up to repeat yearly, and I'm really good about meal planning for a year, then I will NEVER have to do it AGAIN!

I said something to BJ, and he said, "Wow, that's sad..."


"Eating the same things, year after year..." (I'm not sure what he thinks we do now!)

"Um, you wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't said something," I retorted.

"True," he said, "But I still think it's sad."

"That's because you don't do the meal planning!" I said, as I set up all my old meals to repeat yearly.

I put the recipe in the "description" part of the event on Gcal, anyway, so most of the recipes I used last year are already there.

Duh. Duh duh duh.

Would anyone be interested in sharing my Gcal menu planning via Google Calendar? If so, drop me an e-mail.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It is so cold. Oh. My. God. As I write this, it's -9, and the wind chill is -26.


We were supposed to meet Shannyn and Caleb at the Children's Museum yesterday, but I had scary visions of getting in a wreck or breaking down on the highway, and watching my kids freeze to death while we waited for help. I decided that the Museum would always be there, and it just wasn't worth the risk.

I had planned to make bread with the kids, instead, but it took me forever to find my yeast, and by the time I'd found it, I had run out of motivation. Oh well...

I'm trying to work it out so that I can go pick Allison up without taking the kids out in the cold. I left a message for Bumpa (Hey, Bumpa, call me back!) but I think he's sleeping. Hibernating, even. We'll probably just have to suck it up, bundle up, and giddy-up. It's probably harder for me, having to stand in the cold to buckle them into their carseats, than it is for them. Mom made me a blanket when MG was tiny that is sort of like a polar fleece sleeping bag, that I can put Claire in to keep her legs warm. Maybe I'll stick it in front of the electric heater in the toyroom to get it nice and toasty before we go.

Leaving the house just shouldn't require this much forethought.

It's hard to believe that in a few short months we'll be complaining about the heat and humidity. Welcome to Indiana! Don't worry if you don't like the weather, it'll change in a few minutes!

Why do I live here?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm starting to get pissed

Ok, so it turns out that Vicks will make you sicker, not weller. I've always put the infant kind (not the adult kind) on the kids' chests (not their upper lip/under nose), so it's unclear if I've been making the kids better or worse, but, um... Annoyed.

Then I find out that there's lead in the vitamins I've been giving the kids. That REALLY pissed me off.

But you want to know what really kills me? That prenatal vitamins contain lead, too.

Heads should roll, people. There is no excuse.

Jeez, you think you're taking care of your kids, you think you're taking care of yourself and your unborn baby, and all the time you're poisoning them, poisoning yourself. What next? Is the air we breathe going to be contaminated? The water we drink?

Oh, wait...

But, seriously. Something has got to be done. Isn't this the kind of crap that the government, the FDA, is supposed to protect us from?


Lisa is going to die soon. She will leave behind a husband and children, 8 and 11 years old. I don't know her "in real life," but I've read her blog for a long time.

Lisa, "May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of His hand." I wish you and your family peace and comfort. May you feel the love that surrounds you, and may you slip peacefully into the next world.

If you have a moment to click through and leave her a word or two of comfort, I'd appreciate it.

Cute Suits

I've been trying to remember to take pictures of the kids in all of their cute new suits that you got them for Christmas.

Sometimes it goes well...

Sometimes, it doesn't...

And sometimes it's just silly...

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Bling!

Oh, check me out! I'm an official parenting expert for - and I've got the blog badge to prove it.

BJ assures me that this does not mean that I automatically win all disagreements about the kids. But it totally should.

And this parenting "expert's" one year old just colored all over her face with a blue marker. Gotta go!

If you came her via Wellsphere, welcome!! Feel free to e-mail any parenting questions to me, and I'll be happy to answer them!

For now, I'm going to go hose Claire off. *sigh*

Top Health Blogger - Wellsphere

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cold Weather

I have always been the sort of person who enjoyed cold weather. Not because I ice skate or ski or anything, but simply because there's a finite number of things you can take off to get comfortable when it's hot, but an infinite number of things you can put on to get warm when it's cold.

Plus, I like sweaters.

So, it is with some amusement that I'm thinking, for the first time in my life, that it would really be nice to live someplace warm while the kids are small. It is such a pain in the butt, with the kids, to get out and do anything. When we leave the house I worry that they're too cold, when we get where we're going I worry that they're too warm. It doesn't help that MG likes to make her teeth chatter, and Claire can say, "Chilly! Brrrr..." so I never know if they're really freezing or if they're just making a big deal of it all.

We have been in the house a LOT lately. They've been watching way too much television. While I feel yucky about this, I don't feel yucky enough to risk taking them out in the cold (besides freezing, there's an increased risk of us being in a car accident, there's less to do - the parks are too cold, and I have major inertia).

I just looked at our schedule for next week, and I think we'll go to the museum on Thursday. I guess the guilt is enough to motivate me to do something, after all.

How do you manage with little kids in very cold weather? Do you just do your regular thing and let them freeze a little bit if they need to, or are you all hibernating too?

PS to everyone in Grammaland: if you get another ice storm and you have to put gas in your car, rather than chipping the ice off of the gas door with your keys and mangling your paint job and possibly your fingers, go inside and get a cup full of hot water from the coffee machine, bring it out and pour it over the gas door. You're welcome.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We Just Can't Have Nice Things

Someone, whose name won't be mentioned, but her initials are CLAIRE, got a hold of an ink pen and wrote with black ink all over my light brown microfiber couch.

Apparently this happened Wednesday. I knew she'd gotten a wall, but didn't notice the couch until I sat down on it tonight. My head about flew off.

We googled and found that hand sanitizer will take ink out of microfiber. Who knew? Sure enough, it worked. So that was the first of the important things I learned today: Hand sanitizer takes ink off of microfiber. A nail brush and a damp washcloth help, too.

The other thing I learned is that if you mix the bread crumbs with the milk and egg first, let the bread crumbs soak up all the liquid, and then mix that mixture with the meat, it makes a really moist meatloaf. I made the Incredibly Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf from tonight. YUM!

They say you learn something new every day. Today I got a two-fer. I guess that means I can take tomorrow off.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I left the house after the kids went to sleep and.... came to the office. To work. At 11:00 at night.

I have about eleventy zillion things to do before the end of the month for taxes and whatnot. Closing out the old year is my least favorite part of my job. Ugh. So here I am.

And what am I doing?


I'm overwhelmed with the piles and piles on my desk. I don't even know where to begin. I guess, first, I should go get the mail. Pay the bills. Write checks. Bill the contract that BJ submitted the report on recently. Balance the checkbook. Balance the credit cards. Send this report to the state. Organize my pile o' crap for taxes.

No one works 3rd shift in this building. I scared the crap out of our cleaning people. They were more than a little bit surprised to see me.

You know what's funny? I've taken Accounting 101 twice. The first time I got a C, the second time I got a B. And what do I do? I'm a bookkeeper. I'm an extremely poor bookkeeper, in fact, who, almost six years into the job, still doesn't know what the hell she's doing.

What else is new? It seems like "don't know what the hell I'm doing" is my default setting, lately.


At least now that Claire's weaned, I can drink all the coffee I need to to stay conscious tomorrow.

Ok, mail... Gotta get the mail.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Laughing So Hard I Snort

The world is a silly place.

I wrote that post. I figured CPS would be at my door within 24 hours.

Instead, within 12 hours I had an e-mail from someone wanting me to be a "parenting expert" blogger on their established online community. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Of course, the first thing I did, after saying, "SURE!" was to tell BJ, "I'm a parenting expert now, and therefore I win all arguments about what to do with the kids by default, because I'm a recognized expert."

He didn't buy it.

But interesting things are afoot here, blogreaders! Stay tuned!! I'll post details when I have them.

Let's Not Call CPS, Ok?

I debated about telling you this, because if you read it the wrong way, it sounds so wrong... But it really was a teaching moment, and I was calm the entire time, and the punchline is great, so without further preamble......

Mary Grace has been choking Claire. Claire's little neck is right at the perfect height for her to do it, and it has been happening a lot lately, in spite of the timeouts, and the taking away of toys, and everything else.

This morning she did it to her again. Claire was crying on her Daddy's shoulder, and I got down on MG's level and said, "I don't think you understand how scary it feels when you do that to Claire. I'm going to show you, so that you understand why I don't want you to ever do it again." Remember, I was totally calm. Well, a little ticked off, but it wasn't like I lost my temper and then choked her to hurt her. I was trying to teach her.


So I gently put my hands on MG's neck and applied enough pressure that she reflexively pushed my hands away. "See?" I said, "That feels really scary. I don't ever want you do to it to Claire again. If you do, I will take away a princess for the rest of the day. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Mommy," she said, then went in her room to cry.

She was crying, mind you, because she was angry and frustrated. She was NOT crying because she was hurt.

A few minutes passed... "MOMMY!" she yelled, in a very parental voice, "Don't you ever put your hands on my neck again! If you do, I will take away your..." mind-wheels turned, "If you put your hands on my neck again, no more blogging!!"

Yep, she's got my number.

I can only hope that her ability to repeat my admonishment means that she learned from the experience.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Thanks for answering the laundry question. I feel like we've really gotten to know each other better. We really dug deep, didn't we? Deep. Deep into each others' underwear...

So we were leaving to go to the grocery store today and there's this nice thin layer of ice all over creation, and Claire totally biffed a triple lutz on the way to the car. Poor kid. The judges from France were particularly harsh, giving her a mere "un poin' seees!" in a reedeeculous acCENT. I'm looking at you, "Pierre."

I, however, was at the apogee of my skating talent. Not only did I manage to keep my feet while successfully buckling both kids in (even though there was a lot of bending and arm waving as I rounded the car, on our pitched driveway, to head up the other side of the car and buckle Mary Grace, who was screaming, "MOMMY! You forgot to BUCKLE ME!" the entire time, big help...), I also managed to survive bringing in all the groceries, and filling my windshield washer fluid all by my little self without breaking a wrist or a coccyx.

Mary Grace managed a beautiful Salchow (not a sowcow, I just looked it up...) as she was sliding down the driveway, but did not actually fall. You would have thought she had fallen, though, as the "my feet are not doing what I told them to do" feeling caused her to scream, regardless.

One would think that all this ice would've been a sign, to any sane mother, that one should stay home and out of the weather. However, I had to go to the store so I could make PW's Cauliflower Soup tonight for dinner, and I have to say - it was totally worth it.

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I had a migraine Sunday. Thank God for Imitrex. Oh. My. God. Where was this stuff when I was a teenager? It kicked in just as we were headed to dinner with Brandon and Heather and their kids to celebrate Christmas. Then we came back here and exchanged gifts. Brandon got me a hilarious "Successories" style motivational thingy:

How appropriate!!! Thanks again, Brandon!

Then yesterday it was back to normal... We had gymnastics, and we kidnapped Kate (whose Mom owns the gym) to come over and play for a couple hours. She's so cute with MG and C. She's the youngest of 3, at 5 years old, and I think she gets a real kick out of being the big kid in the house for a little while. She kept calling the girlies "Honey." Awwww...

After Kate's mom picked her up, we went upstairs for nap. Claire would NOT lay down, and since I had the door at the top of the stairs and the bathroom door closed, I just let her play in the kids' room until I had MG asleep in my bed. When I went in to check on her, after MG fell asleep, she was sitting on the floor, with her head on her bed, fast asleep. She wore her little self out!

We slept until almost 6! Oops.

Bumpa came over for dinner last night. The girlies had a bath, then bed. It was so nice to get back to normal, at least a little. We've got preschool tomorrow and Friday, and ballet Wednesday, and Allison will be back next week on Tuesday and Friday. Busy busy!

It's a little cold in the house this morning. Claire just came up and said, "I want coat!" So, I put her coat on her. Then she said, "I want butt!" Hahaha! She meant "button." Her language is just amazing these days. She's saying new words several times a day. The other night she said "jammies" for the first time, then ran around saying, "Jammies jammies jammies" for a good 15 minutes. She's so proud of herself.

We've been getting a lot of mileage out of Elmo. We got her the newest of the creepy robotic Elmos for Christmas, and this one dances. She'll hold him up and say, "Dance! Dance!" Yes, dance, Monkey, dance! Speaking of monkeys, she'll also scoot along the back of the couch and say, "Monkey monkey monkey!"

Today we're doing laundry. I know, my life is so exciting, that's why you keep coming back here, isn't it? Here's a random question, how do you sort your laundry? I usually do a load of whites (BJ's t-shirts, socks, miscellaneous underwear), a load of lights (which includes my white t-shirts, most of the girls clothes in various pastels), a load of darks (which includes all jeans), and a load of towels and blankets (after a mishap involving a rag that I'd put Comet on then forgot about, which bleached several articles of clothing that didn't need bleaching). Do you do your wash by color or by fabric type? Should I be doing my brown silky nightgown separate from the jeans, because of the fabric? Would my clothes last longer if I washed them by fabric type, instead of by color? What about sweaters and other knits? Can I throw those in with the darks, or should I do a separate load for knits? What water temperature do you use? I tend to wash everything but the towels on cold/cold. I do the towels on hot/cold. I don't know why.

I have a book somewhere on how to do all this housekeeping stuff, but it's a lot more fun to ask all of you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Love me, love my mess

Ok, bedtime sucked. Claire spent a lot of time dorking around, so I didn't get as much cleaning done as I wanted to... But here are the pictures, as promised...

This is the living room. This is where we live...

The couch is light brown, the curtains chocolate brown. I've got a fair bit of light blue going on in there, too, but not enough that I should have blue carpet, so let's not go there.

Looking the other way, you can see our intrepid attack dog...

The chair she's in is a sage green. It was bought when we had a couch that went with that chair on the left, which made sense. Now the couch is gone. The chair could go live somewhere else to tie the room together, but it's there for now. I'd prefer not to get something that would clash horribly with it, but if it has to go, it has to go. I'll bet BJ's mom would take it, it belonged to her parents.
Here's a better picture of that chair. It's a nice chair, but it's totally not my style.

So, if you look through that door behind the attack dog... end up in the kitchen/dining room.

This is what the floor looks like standing inside that doorway (behind the green chair). Love the tile. Hate the carpet. Hate hate hate it. Ugh.

This is the dining room, this is where we dine:

Behind that baker's rack, where the dog food is, is a counter that separates the kitchen from the dining area. It's not an island, kind of a peninsula. There are cabinets above. You can kind of see the fireplace in the back, there, and the really dark cabinets. And the mismatched chairs. We have new chairs in the garage, waiting to be assembled and stained.

They've been there for almost three years.

There's the laminate floor in the playroom, which is behind the dining area. Note how the wood is a lot lighter than the table, which matches the cabinets. It would have been even lighter if I'd remembered to turn on the light in the playroom (where we play).

And here's the fireplace. It's awesome. It's directly opposite the stove, and it burns real wood, and we use it quite a bit. I really love it.

...but it would look stupid next to the tile we have in the kitchen, which is what it would be next to if we tiled the whole eating area. And if we bring the laminate forward into the dining area, under that table, then the cabinets and the flooring would be clashy.

I am stumped, internet. What say you?

Ask, you shall recieve

Ok, internet, as soon as I get the kids to bed and get the place sufficiently cleaned up so that I won't be too embarrassed to post photos of my house, I'll post photos of my house.

My mom agrees that putting the tile against the brick of the fireplace would look screwy. BJ will be greatly relieved, as he does NOT want to tile the entire eating area.

I really need to paint over the "terracotta" (well, that's what I was going for, it's really salmon) color in the kitchen. I'm going to use the same green that I did on the rest of the walls. It's a good green. I also really need to paint the living room. I have the paint, just not the gumption. Actually, there has been a profound lack of gumption around here lately. The kids are still in their PJs. It's 7 pm. What can I say? We're on vacation.

I'll get them a bath here in about 45 minutes, put them to bed, then clean up and take some photos. Look for them later tonight or tomorrow.

Also, if you want a good, quick read, get The Glass Castle. I finished it a couple hours ago. It really made me feel better about the fact that my kids are still in their jammies at 7 pm - at least they've eaten 3 square meals a day, or more, since birth.

Last night we took an entire carload of books to the half price bookstore, then went out to dinner at the Mongolian Barbecue in Indy. I only got $56 for about 100 books. Bummer. But it's $56 more than I had before. We're trying to declutter around here. Easier said than done.

I just watched a thing on Youtube about what's going to happen if Yellowstone's supervolcano explodes, and to be honest, after watching that I figure, "it's all going to be covered with volcanic ash eventually, anyway, why bother?" This is not an attitude conducive to cleaning.

Pictures coming, stay tuned!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Carpet, part Deux, and Happy Birthday Dad!

I would love to put hard flooring down under the dining table, but our house's areas sort of flow into one another. You come in and you're in the living room, no foyer. That's the area with the big brown couch, the chocolate curtains, etc. Then there's a 6 foot opening into the kitchen/dining area. The kitchen has beautiful new tile. I could ask BJ to install tile all the way across the dining area, but 1) we think it would look screwy next to the brick of the fireplace, and 2) it would take him 1000 years to get it installed, and I don't think he'd love me anymore when he was finished.

We have a light brown laminate in the family room, which we could extend into the dining area, and then put carpet in the living room, but 1) Max has a really hard time walking on the laminate, with her weird legs that need surgery (in the spring), and 2) due to the dark cabinets in my kitchen, I don't think that the color would work. We would need hundreds of rugs, to keep the dog from ice skating around, and the kids would roll each other up in them and stack them and put their dolls down for naps in them, and Max would ice skate anyway, and I would spend my entire life putting rugs back where they belong, and I would go nuts.

I think, unfortunately, we're stuck with carpet for the eating area.

It needs to be extremely durable. I almost always come in the house via the garage door, which is right next to the table, and so it gets a lot of wear. It's 600 sq/ft or so, and it's the highest traffic area of our house. Honestly, if I could find a nice indoor/outdoor carpet, I might be tempted to put that down!

I'm giving a lot of thought to Empire. That could be the way to go. Maybe a Professional Flooring Consultant would have good ideas for how to address this weird, huge area of our house.

In other news... Today is Grandpa Bob's birthday! Happy birthday Dad! In honor of Dad's birthday, I am going to share a Top Secret Family Recipe with you. This is the recipe for Welsh Cookies, Dad's favorite, which I made for him yesterday. I'm not sure where the recipe originally came from, but I imagine it was the brainchild of someone who sold beverages, as these are the driest cookies on the planet.

Welsh Cookies

4 C flour
1 C sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C Crisco
3/4 C raisins (go nuts and add more - they're the best part)
2 well beaten eggs
1/2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Cut in Crisco as if for pie crust. Add everything else, except the raisins, and mix. Add raisins. Roll onto a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick (they puff up when you cook them). Cut out with a cookie cutter (we made hearts) and fry at low heat (250 - 300 degrees) on a dry griddle/nonstick pan. Turn when cookies have puffed up, and when the edges are dry.

Eat with lots and lots of fluids.

They're good when they're hot, but they're not so good when they're cold. Dad loves them, though. So I make them once a year, and I tease him about them the whole time. It's kind of a tradition. I'll tell you what, it's a lot easier now that I have a pastry cutter and a rolling pin - I've made them with forks for cutting in the Crisco and rolled them with 2 liter bottles, and that's just silly.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Help! How do you buy carpet?

We apparently have a budget surplus going into 2009, and we're considering replacing the hideous Berber in the living room, dining room/kitchen, hallway of our house. We've wanted to replace this carpet for almost 6 years - since we looked at this house, long before we bought it, but various things (like Max's surgery, our furnace dying mid-blizzard, and our AC dying later that same year...) have gotten in our way.

I don't know the first thing about buying carpet.

I want it to match - or at least not clash with - the tile in our kitchen. I want it to be light, but not so light that I have to vacuum seven times a day before it looks clean (I have both a dog and a cat, so hair will be an issue). It needs to be kid-friendly. I do NOT want Berber. I think I should go with a shade of beige/brown, because the big couch in the living room is a dark beige/light brown, and the curtains are chocolate brown, and that's a nice neutral color, right? Did I mention that stain resistance is key? Think spaghetti and Koolaid. This carpet is going under the area where we eat all our meals, and so it needs to be tough. Preferably, stains will bounce off of it and hover in the air over the carpet until I can get them with a paper towel. I know this is possible, because I've seen it happen in my Aunt Kathy's car.

I obviously don't want to spend any more than I have to. Is there a particular time of year when it's better to buy carpet than another? A time of month? Does anyone know of any big deals that I don't know about?

Has anyone used Empire? 588-2300. How'd that work?

Do you need pictures? What do I need to know? Help! Mom, will you come do it for me?

Please leave lengthy comments, full of advice.

If you're here via BlogHer, please be sure to check out the pictures I posted here! Thanks!