Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Revelations

I’m not much for New Years Resolutions. In my slightly more than 30 years, I’ve done more than my share of resolutions. Usually they are an epic fail. Why set yourself up? Even my masochism knows some bounds!

I’ve made a few goals in the last few years. Usually they revolve around simple things like take more pictures, eat more vegetarian meals, etc. Nothing earth-shattering like lose 100 pounds or read 100 books or something.

If you have been following my blog, you know when I plan a timeframe and an outcome, I’m generally not successful. Exhibit A: any walking/workout plan I have done EVER.

I was surfing around for some prompts after deciding I couldn’t write any more complaint blogs this week. When I saw this prompt , at first I dismissed it as a resolution prompt. But I kept coming back to it because I was having a major case of writer’s block and because I was thinking about it a lot.
December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

The good news is, I couldn’t even come up with 11 things! Or at least 11 things I felt worthy of including in this blog. I mean, I could do without fleas or lice or more boxelder bugs or crazy neighbors.

But I thought now (versus when the prompt was released on the 11th) was as good a time as any to go ahead and release these…not resolutions, not goals, maybe just hopes and things I am attempting to do. With a few revelations thrown in. Yes, those terms give me a decent out should I epically fail again.

So here are some things I can do without in 2011:

1. Comcast: once my year-long deal ends with them, so does my relationship with cable. Not only will it save us money, but I think it will encourage us to be more choosy in what we watch and how much time we spend watching it. Maybe I’ll read a book or two.

2. Constant Background Noise: This goes with the release of cable. Back when we were living together before we were married, Scott and I tried to have a quiet night each week. One without TV or radio or anything, just us reading a book or a magazine, curled up together on the couch. Scott constantly fights for this now, and I am just ambivalent. I edit for a living, so reading sometimes is as taxing as work. I also have a tendency to get deep into a book, to the point where I don’t sleep until I finish it. I am a fast reader, but it’s meant many a late night trying to get to the last chapters when I should be sleeping. It’s much easier to turn off the TV in the middle of a Simpsons rerun than it is at the climax of a good juicy novel. But it’s important to turn the noise off sometimes, I know, and this is something I am dedicating myself to, even if it means a night of writing instead of reading.

3. Customer Service Complaints and Appeals: I’ve got to accept customer service doesn’t exist. I have to start choosing my battles. Calling insurance and telling them their billing is unfair is not worth it. Continuing to blanket Comcast with complaints and my disgust is not worth it. It feels good in the moment, but ultimately takes time and rage I can no longer afford.

4. Solitude in Motherhood: I have to continue to reach out to the moms I already know, and try to continue to find moms in my community. Wee ‘Burb is in such a crazy time of change, I need that support to get through her becoming a toddler and person.

5. Letting Myself Go: I have been appalled recently that when it was time to go out, I didn’t have anything nice to wear. Somehow I had become unaware that nothing fits right because I’ve been living in sweats. And this isn’t even a “how did I get so fat” post because honestly, I’ve been losing weight. I’ve been focusing on it, it isn’t happening magically (as much as I wish that to be). But somehow it never occurred to me that since I lost over 30 pounds since this time last year, perhaps I shouldn’t try to wear last year’s outfits? I’ve simply got to invest some money in myself and my appearance. To this end, I did get a nice Sephora gift card for Christmas. If you have any suggestions, speak now or forever hold your awesome glowy skin a secret.

6. Skipping Date Nights: So many weekends, Scott and I will say we should go here or there. We never make final plans because of his insane work schedule. So when it comes to a free day, I always figure he would rather sit at home with some beer and catch up on Tivo. And confession: so would I! Him being at work means I am home with Wee ‘Burb, or out doing 150 things at once so Wee ‘Burb and I aren’t bored at home. To avoid the avoidance this year, I’ve created a Christmas present that will ensure a bunch of date nights: The 12 Dates of Christmas! I went through and picked out 10 places that we have been forever talking about, and then kept two open for us to choose if a new place opens up or if we just have an alternate hankering. While it’s sad that we need this prescribed date time, I think it will be a really good game changer for us. And will make #5 even more important! I can’t go on date night as dumpy wife.

So again, I could only come up with 6. I’m going to count that as a good thing.


What things can YOU do without in 2011? Do you make resolutions? If you do, do you stick to them?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Randomness

So, Scott and I went to Costco today. Because, you know, we're a hot young couple with a kid. That's date night, people!

Anyway, we had Wee 'Burb with us because our roommate had the AUDACITY to leave and go visit her family. I don't think we realized how reliant we had become on her pitching in when we had quick errands to run. Turns out, Wee 'Burb has her mommy's patience. Which is to say, less than zero.

So we're walking and we're price comparing and discussing what we're going to make for New Years Eve (we've long ago decided not to bother going out: I never like the fixed-price menu options and neither of us enjoy being on the roads or going to the built-up parties that always end up super boring).

Those of you who go to Costco or Sam's Club know that every few aisles there are sample carts. I usually try to avoid these because they're not friends to the ole diet. But today I was feeling fancy free and decided to try some frozen pizza. Pedestrian at best, sigh.

Then there's a ravioli sample and it looks good. I go to grab one and I am about to hand a little bite to Wee 'Burb, who is guppy-mouthing for more food since we're nearing her normal chow time, when I stifle a "sonofabitch" and throw it in the trash.

The word molten could not describe! The woman has the nerve to serve this on a little paper doily less thick and absorbent than the little tray that separates the milanos in a bag. It's CLEARLY soaking right through these little paper things, but she hasn't even bothered to refill her napkin dispenser.

So I am covered in grease and nearing tears my tongue hurts so bad, and Wee 'Burb is burying into Scott's chest and whining because mommy is the meanest mommy EVER not giving her a piece of that tongue-scalding noodle she so badly wanted.

Happy Tuesday, Costco. Thanks for nothing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Pooped!

So I may have gone into this whole parenthood thing with some false bravado. Whereas Scott has never even really held a baby before, I’d spent most of my teen and college years baby-sitting and nannying.

And it turns out, so far I can totally keep her fed and safe and more or less entertained. I think I do a pretty good job if I do say so myself. In fairness, she makes it very easy, she’s not particularly bothered by much.

And while I have read some articles or books here and there, for the most part, I’ve been parenting on instinct. I don't know how it's going, exactly. But she's alive. So, that's not bad, right?

It becomes infinitely harder when the kid is mobile. And when that mobility coincides with holidays, meaning you have to keep them fed, safe, and entertained for the ENTIRE DAY, no help from daycare and other kids.

Recent events had me doing the dreaded looking at a book.

For a stretch of days, Wee ‘Burb was not napping in the afternoons. I could tell she was exhausted, she was giving me all the normal signs: rubbing her eyes, pushing her head into the carpet, trying to use Cous Cous as a pillow. But I would put her down and she would squawk and talk and roll around for hours. Seriously, one day it was two hours!

So, naturally Scott is like “why are we forcing this?” And I’m all “the book says this can happen because she’s so mobile and social and wants to play and stuff. So we have to try to keep her on the schedule so she knows it’s not time to play.”

And Scott is all raising his eyebrows like “book says whah?”

So he can see how desperate I am. And when I’m desperate, I just keep repeating the new knowledge I’ve gained about toddler sleeping habits and at the end he’s like “just asking, didn’t need the dissertation. You’re saying leave her in the crib?” And I’m like “yup the book says leave her in the crib.”

To say these weren’t restful days would be an understatement. I start to wonder if this is going on in daycare and I just don’t know about it. I start to get resentful that she’s only pulling this crap with me to test my boundaries or manipulate me (more book theories).

I become obsessed about when my kid became such a jerk! And then finally I go in and check on her on day 3 of no afternoon nap. I take her out and change her, all the while faking the cheerful “hello, my love” while really thinking “you suck so hard”…but you can’t say that, the books tell you only say loving things, the books say kids can hear you and read you and one false move will guarantee she’s on the next season of Intervention talking about how she goes around giving BJs for smack because her mommy told her she was a jerk for not napping.

So I am putting all my energy into changing said diaper the way you fake having a good time on a really bad date, just to pass the time with as little awkwardness and horror as possible.

When it hits me.

She’s had a dirty diaper the last three days when I’ve picked her up. Each time. I’ve been so focused on pretending I don’t think she’s a big fat meanie, it never occurred to me! So I change her and put her back down and she squawks for five minutes. And she’s out.

Um, where is the chapter that says “it’s really hard to sleep with a load in your pants, MOM!”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where I Ask if I Just Need to Embrace My Lack of Cool

So the latest discussion in Suburbia is related to vehicles. And the need to purchase a new one.

Soon.

Preferably before last week when the current vehicle snapped a belt and cost us $400 when it’s barely worth that in trade-in.

Sigh. Hindsight and all that.

Our discussion is an age-old one, with a bit of a twist: the slightly cooler SUV with fair to crappy gas mileage or the practical mini-van with the total giving up of any pretense that we’re a cool young couple.

The twist? Scott is the one who is clamoring for the mini-van.

I know! What dude is all “this is half the reason I got married and had a kid, I want the mini-van.” Say whah?

Look, I was never a member of the cool club. I was marginally acceptable in school, not so dorky as to have the radar gun of bullies at me; but not cool enough to bully anyone myself. I just imagine after I get the keys to a mini-van, there will be a line of cool moms with their colored hair and manicured nails ready to throw tomatoes at me.

That’s what happens when bullies grow up, right? This is my understanding.

There are no practical reasons Scott wants a mini-van, I would just like to point this out. Since he’s given up his truck, he is clamoring for a place to put his tools. Apparently a 1997 Saturn doesn’t provide enough space for the amount of tools formerly held in a Chevy S-10? Who knew?

And let’s just be honest: this is going to be like the dog. “Oh we can totally handle a baby and a dog, I’ll walk the dog twice a day, it’ll be fine.”

Yup, til you get a job and don’t want to walk the dog at 6 a.m. I’ve got approximately 4 pairs of eaten shoes and a destroyed comforter that shows you how well THAT argument worked out. Let's not even discuss the nightstand drawer. THE DRAWER, PEOPLE!

It’ll be the same with the van. I’ll be driving the damn thing around with his tools and a bunch of baby crap, and really, is it big enough to hold all my tears, people? IS IT???

The man has done his research, though. And he wanted to show me the coolest car he’d found. The Honda Odyssey. Honda…freaking…Odyssey.

He tries to point out the cup holders, the fancy seats, the this and the that. I’m searching for the in-seat Kleenex dispenser and mentally revising the lyrics to the Britney song all “I’m not a giiiirl, not yet a crone.”

I mean…come on! Who are you trying to kid? He’s talking to me the way I talk to Wee ‘Burb to try to convince her that the broccoli is just as delicious as the steak I am eating. Only, contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t born yesterday!

The only thing I am afraid of with the SUV option is the perception of invincibility you get when you get behind the wheel of those bad boys. I saw the best example of 4-wheel-drive hubris the other day. A tow truck driver and a cop had stopped traffic while they towed a car out on the ditch. The tow truck had to park on the right side to get the car out of the left side ditch, for some reason I assume has to do with gravity or leverage or something. I didn’t question it, just put the car into park and turned up the Christmas music.

But the 4WD vehicle in front of me was in NO MOOD to wait. So he attempted to drive around the tow truck. And ended up in the ditch himself! I am not going to pretend I didn’t totally crack up and thank the entire principle of karma.

And thought to myself: don’t think there’s such a thing as mini-van hubris.

So weigh in, party people. Mini-van or SUV?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Embroidered Pillows and Other Workday Fun

Because I have a desk job, and said desk is at home without other human contact, and I am a human being who occasionally needs human contact, I have a tendency to e-mail my friends throughout the day.

I e-mail one friend in particular about 20 times a day. Typically it’s random inanities of our day. But occasionally one of us whips out a one-liner that causes the other to reply “would you please embroider that on a pillow for me?”

A few examples:

One of our boss’ baked us a pie. The pillow-worthy reply: “all my boss bakes is controversy.”

"This is my career. I cannot be attached to wackiness."

"Outlines are for chumps"

"Ovens are weird. Covens are better."

"People suck."

Turns out we're trendy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Totally Terrible Trim-a-Tree

So in the spirit of trying to keep a positive outlook, I thought I would share a fun contest my friend (and current roommate) and I have. Each year we buy each other a nice ornament, and one totally terrible one. It started with a gold Jesus Fish and it's just spiraled down from there. Or, I mean, got more awesome.

I submit to you our tree this year with current winners:

Moustache #1, the Porn Star

Moustache #2: Uncle Ed



This year's winner: The Christmas Pickle!



 The Christmas Pickle was a winner largely because of the story that goes with it. I may have chosen a less regal version of this ornament, but I think it looks lovely on the top of my tree.
 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bakefest 2010

I haven't posted a lot lately, mostly because I don't have anything nice to say. And while that hasn't stopped me before, me complaining about different customer service disasters and insurance is getting old for me, so it has to be for you, too. But that's basically what I've been up to. Arguing, crying, throwing stuff in frustration, and constantly paying too much money for crap.

So...I took the day off. And Wee 'Burb had a day off from daycare. So we played, and we talked, and we laughed. We did not touch the phone or look at bills.

And most importantly, we baked!!

As requested, here's some pictures of the Krisp Kringles.

The dough. Also? I got a new camera!! I like the pictures a lot better.


The finished product!

My sous chef and food critic. Success!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Need Me Some Christmas

I have been trying to come up with a word to describe the last couple of weeks. I just can't come up with one that's bad enough. We're going to stick with sucktacular.

I desperately need some Christmas spirit, which is why I put my last post out as a feeler for how to proceed with my desire to bake. Baking is my therapy. I don't do it often, because baking also requires being precise and attentive, neither of which is my strong suit. I'm much better at cooking where I can taste it halfway through and figure out what I left out.

Anyway, thanks to those of you who posted your advice on freezing! I am going to do some dough this weekend and freeze it, as suggested.

In return, I did promise a recipe for my favorite cookies. I got this recipe when I attended my very first Midwestern Cookie Exchange. This was like two years ago. I'm a tad behind...hey, I just discovered the joy of meat raffles, I'm behind!

Anyway, we went home with 6 different types of cookies and for the most part, I was fairly unimpressed. Except for these bad boys. These are really different, and have been officially requested since then.

I introduce you to..

Krisp Kringles

1 package yellow cake mix (2 layer size)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
3 cups POST Fruity Pebbles cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend cake mix, oil, water, and egg in a large bowl with wooden spoon until well blended.

Stir in cereal.

Drop by cookie scoop 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet (I line mine w/ parchment paper. Hey, don't use wax paper instead, that's a bad idea, trust me).

Bake 11 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. You want them to stay moist so don't let center get overdone.

SO EASY! And yet, a different sort of cake taste that sets it apart from your typical peanut blossoms.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookie S.O.S!

Every year I put together a folder of cookies and bars and other wonderful goodies that I would like to make for people for Christmas. Not only does baking help me relieve stress (and if you've been reading any of my past posts, you know there's a fair bit of that going around in Suburbia at the moment, and you don't know the half of it!), but it's also a nice and cheap gift to give people. And you can almost guarantee it won't be returned.

The problem/dilemma...if you can call it that...is that I am not seeing most of the intended recipients until closer to Christmas Eve. But precisely because I will be spending the joyous holiday season with those intended recipients, I don't have a ton of time leading up to it to bake.

So every year I go through the aforementioned folder and try to narrow it to 5 different baked goods. And then what typically happens is on baked good #3, I look at the mess in my kitchen, think of the cleaning time PLUS the baking time, get totally overwhelmed, crack open a bottle of wine and figure people will just deal with what they get.

My goal this year is to actually MAKE these 5, if not more and actually use my folder to its capacity! So here's my question for you good folks out there: to freeze or not to freeze? If you vote freeze, how do you freeze? Do you freeze the dough/makings and bake them fresh? Do you bake and then freeze? Are there some things like bars that you can't freeze or don't freeze well?

And of course, links to recipes on your blogs or others are so much more than welcome! I've got to keep building that folder up, people. In exchange, I will share one of my favorites with you this week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh Healthcare, I Don't Care

So, look, I am going to say it. I have health insurance, my family is covered. In many ways, I am lucky. But that’s never stopped me from whining before.

I’ve mentioned our glorious new high-deductible plan in passing. If only there were a word to actually describe the sucking of this plan. It’s the suckiest plan that ever sucked. EVER! SUCKED!! I prize correct grammar over almost everything else, so you know how serious I am about not being able to find adequate phrasing.

Mathematically, I am informed that this plan is actually a good deal…as “deals” go in healthcare. On a per-month basis, my premiums look quite loverly. But, you see, those per-month premiums cover NOTHING. Anything that isn’t considered preventive (which, hey, includes BIRTHING A CHILD) is not covered at all until you reach a deductible. And then it is only covered at about 60-80%.

Allow me to relate the fun we’ve had with this new insurance plan:

I won’t give the exact amount, but I paid quite a bit for Wee ‘Burb’s birth. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days. I had no choice, they would not release me after my surgery until then. And this is what I tried to explain to the people at the insurance company when I got the bill. I pointed out it was rather punitive not to consider the surgery part of preventive care…again, there was no choice. The baby has to come out some way, right? You cover NINE MONTHS of pregnancy and then when the baby actually, ya know, COMES OUT, I start footing the bill? It’s a natural result of the nine months you’ve been covering, yes? Or am I to be pregnant forever? Cuz nine months felt like forever enough, thank ya!

Then I got notice about our biometric screening "credit." So we’re required to do these biometric screenings for the “credit.” And it just says “go to any convenience care clinic” on the form. Just keep that in mind. Any convenience care clinic.

So, a few weeks ago I call insurance to be sure they will cover a flu shot for Wee ‘Burb if we go to a convenience care clinic. The response I get is less than confidence-inducing: “well, sort of.”

Huh? Yeah, sort of.

As in, the only convenience care considered in our network is Minute Clinic. Target wishes you to know with a million signs that they are NOT a Minute Clinic. Which is ever so excellent information not so much imparted to me from Doctor Cashier as she told me “oh we’ve done a bunch of these biometric screenings.”

Cool. What do you want a cookie? Oh, sure, you can find those in aisle 6. Let me just stick you with this needle first.

Incidentally, the flu shot! Moms, have you not been INUNDATED with people telling you to get the flu shot for your baby? Magazines, e-mail newsletters, everyone is telling me that child needs to be injected like yesterday. Only, nobody would do it! The convenience care clinics refuse to treat those under 18 months!! And Wee ‘Burb’s doctor put us on a waiting list for almost a month! I heard maybe there was a recall of some dosages, but seriously! A waiting list?

So now we’re in that fun open enrollment time where you get to pick the least sucky plan. It’s kind of like politics, you know? There’s major faults with every single candidate, but you have to pick one, and that pick will effect you life for months to come. And you don’t get a do-over if you realize you pick the wrong one.

So I’m trying to put as much thought as humanly possible into this. And I consult Scott. Who actually says to me, in this adorably naïve way: “I wanted to get back on my old medicine. I was waiting for your plan to get better.”

Awww, it’s cute how he thinks healthcare is somehow going to improve. It’s kind of like believing in the tooth fairy, or the Easter Bunny, or Social Security or something.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Nazis and the Men Who Love Them

I love Christmas. I’m obsessed. I was once (affectionately, I choose to believe) called a Christmas Nazi. I may or may not have insisted her topiary in a red pot was NOT a Christmas tree. I can’t be held responsible when I am in the season, people!

To keep myself and those around me sane, Christmas and I have a strict no contact order until the day after Thanksgiving. Then I can do all the calling and stalking (stocking, hee!) I want.

And I do. Ohhhhh, but I do!

This may be happier than ACTUAL Christmas day, when I pull all my stuff out of storage. Especially because last year, I saved my money and bought a TON of stuff the week after Christmas. And like a good little girl, I put it in my Christmas bin. And promptly forgot what I had purchased.

So it was like…well, Christmas…opening everything on Friday and seeing all the goodies I forgot I had.



And then…well, then Christmas opened up and spewed more gooey happiness my way.

My husband, who I am slowly converting from years of Scroogedom, looked around and said to me: “I don’t think we have enough Christmas decorations.”

And he was serious.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Clarifications and Updates

Happy Holiday weekend, readers! A few questions seem to have surfaced about my last post. To clarify, I was not in the habit of toasting animal crackers. I have some weird food habits, but toasting cookies isn't one of them. Somehow a plastic bag full of said crackers fell UNDER my toaster oven, and had been roasting underneath it for an undetermined amount of time. My concern was largely that I didn't smell PLASTIC BAGS burning!

This made me realize there are a lot of updates to previous posts that I don’t feel really deserve their own posts, so I thought I would just do a little update post for y’all!

My update to my Comcast woes.
So, a few more techs have come and gone. I was finally informed that because my Tivo is not an HD Tivo, my incompatibility is just a side-effect of Comcast sucking. As of now, my Tivo will tape one item on basic cable, and one item on the other channels. About half of my things don’t tape at all because the basic cable still recognizes it as a channel, but doesn’t actually exist. So like when I want to tape Millionaire Matchmaker (don’t judge, it makes me feel good about being poor), the Tivo defaults to Channel 30, but I get nada. Haven’t figured out how to fix that. I’m trying to figure out  if I can somehow get Comcast to give me their DVR for free and use that credited money to pay off my Tivo contract. Otherwise I’ll have to eventually pay $300 for a new HD Tivo.

My update to my state of sports polygamy.
Well, you guys, loyalty sucks. Basically because I happened to eliminate anyone who goes up against the Patriots…I was left with not much. I’m dead last. Probably my first and last year doing fantasy football.

I think the extra burn for me is that I lost to girls whose husbands totally did their teams for them. And they had ZERO problem cheering for people who go against their supposed loved teams.

Also? The algorithms make no sense. On multiple occasions, my teams won and did well, and yet actually got fewer points than the losing team. Stupid stat geeks.

My update to how much I love home daycare.

My prayers were answered! They are able to take Wee ‘Burb permanently! I am so excited! Wee ‘Burb has really flourished since she has been in our neighbor’s home. Our pediatrician, who incidentally treats the neighbor’s 20-year-old daughter and knows the family well and can not stop singing the virtues, was astounded at Wee ‘Burb’s vocabulary.

I mean as parents we all want to think our kid is advanced. I’m not even pretending she is, she mastered crawling approximately 12 seconds ago. But verbally…the kid is nonstop! And after going to pick her up early one day, I realized why.

First of all, the little preschool boys LOVE her! They fight over who can get her toys and they are always trying to get her involved in their games. As part of that, they NONSTOP talk to her. And I honestly think that’s why she has such a big vocabulary for such a little girl.

Anyway, I am very happy knowing she’s in a safe home with people we love, who love her.

My update to trying to find new mommy friends.

It’s so hard, you guys! So, Scott and I were in church a few weeks ago. And this couple with two preschool-aged kids kept looking adoringly over at Wee ‘Burb. They waved, they gave her a little peace handshake, which she LOVES. And they were all smiles to us.

And Scott and I were paralyzed.

Are they just thinking “oh that kid is cute with her pigtails and Patriots shirt (what? Girl has to show her spirit, church or not!) or are they thinking “hey, this couple looks cool! Look how they have to sit outside the church like us because our kids are unpredictable.” I think it’s worse than dating! Does he like me? Will he call? It’s just so awkward!

Speaking of church, we have seen the public domestic abuse couple a few times, and it has been awkward. Mostly we’ve just been a quick hello and avoiding making any plans.

My update to near death experiences.
Remember my almost death by chocolate? Well, that place closed! I can’t say I am bummed. Although it always makes me sad when local plazas remain empty. The whole world doesn’t have to revolve around Target and Rainbow, does it?

Anyway, thanks for reading! If you have any updates you want to post her, or link to on your blog, feel free to leave in the comments!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Sorry, Mr. Rock, I Cannot Smell What You Are Cooking!

So recent events made me Google "loss of smell." Here's what Dr. Wikipedia is telling me is at work here:

Anosmia is a lack of functioning olfaction, or in other words, an inability to perceive odors. Anosmia may be either temporary or permanent. A related term, hyposmia, refers to a decreased ability to smell, while hyperosmia refers to an increased ability to smell. Some people may be anosmic for one particular odor. This is called "specific anosmia" and may be genetically based.

Scott has been accusing me of this for awhile. Mostly in relation to being unable to smell Wee 'Burb's bad diapers. But then sometimes my sense of smell is so acute, I'm wandering around trying to figure out what reeks while everyone stares at me like I'm nuts.

In fairness, it did turn up a bag of liquid potatoes.

So I guess I'm not totally anosmatic...or whatever the word is.

But clearly I have problems because when I moved the toaster oven to clean today, this is what I found:



I haven't had animal crackers since I was pregnant. Wee 'Burb just turned one. I was an English major, but I'm thinking that adds up to....Ewwwwww!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dog Fight

I’ve mentioned our rather crotchety neighbors, the Dietz’ before here where they lectured us on mowing 12 seconds after we moved in and here where they towed our neighbor's car for being near their illegal sprinkler system.

We’ve enjoyed a rather quiet relationship for them for most of the year we’ve had Wee ‘Burb. I figured it was because they never got around to giving us a present for the baby like some of the other neighbors, or really acknowledged her existence. But again, they didn’t tow my car, so I’m cool with it.

A few weeks ago, Scott came in and told me Mrs. Dietz yelled at him. Now it was 6 a.m. and he’d been working a lot so I was dubious as I said “she actually YELLED at you?” and he was all traumatized like “YEAH!”

So apparently the issue was a legit one. As I mentioned in my previous post, Cous Cous has an issue finding the perfect poop spot. So occasionally her favorite spot is on the line…or over the line…of our yard and theirs.

When she does cross the line, Scott does pick it up and bag it. I know this for sure because I often get halfway through my walk to discover I have no bags.

In the mornings, Mrs. Dietz has a creepy habit of hiding in the shadows and smoking…outside on the top of her deck, which by the way was taken down almost a year ago (just pointing out that for someone all worked up about image, she has a torn down deck and hangs out in her garage watching people go by). So she stands on these leftover pillars, basically, and I never see her except when Cous Cous goes nuts and barks at her.

But this time she stepped out of the shadows to say “it’s not very neighborly to let your dog crap on my lawn.” I kind of looked at Scott and said “Well, she’s kind of right.” I refrained from saying “I told you so” because we had this discussion and I said people without pets may be sensitive to us letting her go on the lawn, even if we clean it up.

So he tells Mrs. Dietz he’s sorry, that he does always clean it up. And she goes “I don’t care. Stephanie doesn’t do it, you know.” Um, once again, you’re not making yourself look great here, Mrs. Dietz, pointing out that you keep track of who takes Cous Cous where. But still, she has a legit complaint, and so far I’m not totally off her side.

Until Scott goes “Okay, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” And instead of doing the mature thing and saying “it’s no problem, thanks” or something else acknowledging that he’s said it won’t happen again, she repeats “I'm saying it’s not neighborly. And Stephanie doesn’t do it, either.”

Now he has no clue what to say so he just mutters “uh huh” and “sorry” again and rushes Cous Cous back inside.

So, this plagued him for awhile and then a week when he was gone, a tree blew down. The tree starts in their yard, but landed in ours. I told Scott we should pick it up so we don't have problems with them, but events got crazy and when he went out to investigate to see if we should call the city, he noticed it was gone and figured out Mr. Dietz had cleaned it up.

So he goes over to Mr. Dietz and gives him a cutting board that Scott engraved as a peace offering. And Mr. Dietz is super cordial, no thanks necessary, no problem cutting down the tree, etcetera. So we figure maybe it’s just Mrs. Dietz with the bug up her ass.

Well, we had a big turnout for Wee ‘Burb’s birthday, which coincided with a huge storm here in Suburbia. We did what we could to snowblow the driveway and the road around our house so that people could park. When a few guests came in rattled, we figured it was the bad roads. But after a few glasses of wine, the truth came out: apparently Mr. and Mrs. Dietz were yelling at people who parked too close to their driveway.

Not blocking it. Just too near it.

The snowbanks were too large to be parked ON their lawn, so I have no clue who they think they are yelling at ANYONE who parks on the PUBLIC street. And we don't have snow emergency rules out here, you just get plowed in if you're on the street.

A few people moved and a few other people resisted the urge to flip them the proverbial bird. Reports were they were standing in their garage and by their front door just shouting at people to move their cars! On my daughter’s first birthday! Which they ABSOLUTELY knew about.

So, it’s on. Official Neighborhood Enemies! Welcome to Suburbia, friends!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's a Hard Dog Life

I’ve decided to start a revolution where we change the meaning of the phrase: “it’s a dog’s life.” I know back in the days it was meant to convey some poor underfed beast used only for his hunting abilities, and repeatedly kicked in the head and forced to sleep in a pile of hot coals…or whatever life was like back when being a dog sucked.

Now I’d kill for my dog’s life. Some people wonder what their dogs do all day while they’re gone. Well, since I’m never gone, it’s not such a mystery to yours truly. And the answer is: sleep and annoy the crap out of me.



I happen to think Cous Cous has it pretty good. She has someone home with her almost all day. The little beast that annoys her is gone most of the day at daycare, leaving her free to enjoy her bones without drool-covered claws invading her space.

At least four days a week she’s taken on mile-long walks where somebody cleans up after her and all she has to do is stay within six feet of said person on a leash.

Now, does that sound like the kind of life that would make you so miserable, you would resort to eating a comforter? Or shoes? Or a DRAWER? A freaking DRAWER? All while your owner, who feeds you and loves you and despite the fact that she crapped out that beast that annoys you, has otherwise practically let you run the house is sitting in the other room, blissfully unaware of your buried resentment at…at WHAT? What could this dog possibly have up her ass that makes her act out like this?

I’m proposing a Scared Straight movement for puppies. I haven’t worked all the kinks out, but I am sure it will be centered around making the wayward puppies of the world watch an endless loop of those Sarah McLachlan commercials, the ones with the poor dogs covered in bruises and cuts and missing limbs all while “Arms of the Angel” plays in the background?

Ohhh, you think me rushing you to poop when it’s 30 degrees out is abuse (I mean, really, when you’re staring down the barrel of 30-degree temperatures, do you need to spend 10 minutes finding the perfect poop spot? I would think whatever spot doesn’t involve your ass freezing to your legs is perfecto!), why don’t you watch yourself some Animal Rescue on Animal Planet?

One phrase I am not looking to eliminate: “ungrateful cur.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Please Forgive Me, I Know Not What You Do!

So, this has been a rough couple of weeks and I am EXHAUSTED. And the more tired I get, the shorter my fuse. I stumbled across this article on Shine about ways to manage anger. I was particularly interested in #13, which suggests you write a forgiveness letter or e-mail.

In the midst of planning Wee ‘Burb’s first birthday party, during the first snowstorm of the year, after a week of helping Scott with his first trade show for his business, and you know, that whole job thing…Comcast insisted I switch over to their fancy schmancy new Infinity cable. We had this purty little banner floating across the screen INSISTING in big white letters that we need to switch immediately or our TV lives will go dark.

Days of frustration later, I STILL have the banner and my Tivo, Cornelius, has been rendered almost obsolete. So here is my forgiveness letter to Comcast.





Dear Comcast,


I forgive you.

I forgive you for putting the incorrect UFC up on your On Demand, forcing me to call and try to cancel the order…three times. I also forgive you for trying to send a signal to my TV once I got the actual UFC up in attempts to make it work on the high definition channel…that I was later informed doesn’t exist in my area.

It’s totally cool that I had a bunch of people over and I had to stand there on the phone with you…twice. I understand that On Demand doesn’t really mean on demand, so much as “whenever the hell you feel like it, if in fact the channel even exists in my area.” It’s also cool that you charge me the same whether those channels are there or not.

More importantly, I forgive you for the recent two-day circus you made me participate in while converting to your supposedly AWESOME new Xfinity program. Oh how you promoted this as the next coming of cable. It’s understandable that you overlooked the fact that it isn’t at all compatible with existing technology, and that you’ve rendered my brand new Tivo as useful as my Commodore 64.

I get it, you were super busy sending signals to channels that don’t exist. Focusing on things like compatibility with what you have informed me is “sometimes incompatible third-party technology” is hardly as important as giving me the golf channel in HD, but not anything in On Demand.

I forgive you for sending me directions to hook up to my Tivo that didn’t work. And I forgive you for taking five days to send me a tech to fix my caveman-like third-party technology. And please, don’t feel at all bad for sending me a tech who didn’t know Tivo, and didn’t have the part for the Tivo I had.

It was wrong of me to expect that the work order describing the kind of Tivo I had would move that tech to bring the equipment necessary. I understand the stress of not having that part was probably what made the tech lie to my face and tell me my Tivo was working, while secretly hooking everything up through a small cable box remote. It was my fault for trusting him when he told me he was all done, not being aware the whole time Tivo was on channel 3. I never was good at seeing the trick behind the magic.

I should have known it’s like when Wee ‘Burb says “all done” when she sits at the table and baby birds me for more. Clearly he was just proud of a new phrase he’d learned. I was hasty to believe he was actually completing the task. My bad.

Comcast, please accept my heartfelt forgiveness for bothering you again to ask that you bring the tech back to complete the task that was not, actually, “all done.” Forgive me also for telling you what I thought of the tech who refused to call me back.

And you must accept my sincere desire for amends when I screamed at you at howler monkey levels when you told me that occasionally certain techs are unfamiliar with said “third-party technology.” I understand you were just trying to drive home the fact that I do not own a Comcast DVR, as you have humbly suggested I do each time I call you for service. We talk a lot, I should have caught on by now.

Me insisting that if the work order mentions specific “third-party technology” I am unintelligent enough to own, that tech should be familiar with said technology and have the parts to make said technology compatible with your next generation god-like technology was just my anger talking. I’d missed an entire episode of Dr Phil by then. And it was one of the housewives admitting she was knocked up. Emotions were high.

While we are listing my faults, I should not have laughed and mocked the woman when she called to set up a new tech to come for the following day. She was just being nice when she asked when I had to be at work, so when I said at 9 and she said her appointments started at 9:30 and I mockingly shouted “then why did you ASK me what time I had to be there?”…well, that was more anger talking. I had to watch Live TV. I can’t be held accountable for the things I say when I can’t fast forward commercials.

It’s that same lack of Tivo that made me roll my eyes and storm off when you sent me TWO techs the next day who promised they were familiar with Tivo and then told me they didn’t know I had a dual tuner Tivo. Again, I should not have assumed that fact being written on the work order meant that information was imparted. It was my own ignorance that led me to believe your techs could read.

Please try to forgive me for looking up Direct TV while your techs fumbled around and finally informed me that they’d “rigged it” so my dual tuners could work, only one tuner could only record channels 1-22. I know I should be grateful for any tuner that could bring me back to Dr Phil, even though it will be nearly impossible now for me to catch up on the housewives and their drama. I should not have said that I pay enough where I should be able to have Tivo work exactly as it did before you brought this New Light into the cable world.

Lastly, I want to thank you for making it up to me by sending me several On Demand movie gift certificates (I understand now those can not be used in HD and will plan accordingly). It was kind of you to send me ones to mail with my bill, despite the fact that I’ve set up my account to be paid electronically.

And the $30 off of my bill per month for the next year (the introductory rate any new Comcast customer gets before you give them the add-ons necessary to make “third-party technology” work) absolutely makes up for everything that happened in those two days and the fact that I still can’t work my Tivo half of the time.

I only hope this letter serves as the same kind of peace sign you’ve given me.

All my love,


StephanieinSuburbia

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hidey-Ho, Neighborinos!

So I have a crazy busy week this week preparing for Wee 'Burb's first birthday, among other priorities. Instead of posting my random thoughts or using some posts I've saved for a rainy day, I thought I'd introduce you to a few bloggers I love.

Notice I said a few. If your name is not on this list, it does not mean I don't think you're immeasurably awesome. And to that end, I'd love if you guys linked to your blogs and/or a favorite post of yours in the Comments section here.

Christina at Hungry Meets Healthy wrote a hilarious post about going shrimping with the boys. She not only has a great sense of adventure, she has some AMAZING recipes.

Kristy at Pampers and Pinot writes very honestly about having anxiety around dating her husband. You can always count on Kristy to tell it like it is, and she also features a lot of her other writing here.

I've mentioned my next buddy, LambAround, here before. Where we had a bit of a face-off on embarassing domestic disasters. But it was this post about creepy Singamajigs where I knew we were simpatico.

Kristen at Happily Ever After writes very honestly about not knowing what to write about here.

Mommy is Teething is another blog where I always can relate. This is a great post about the challenges of meeting other Mommies. I wrote about this myself when I was trying to meet other working moms. Since I wrote that post, I have been better at reaching out to my friends who have kids, trying to get over feeling like I am bothering them. But it's still a challenge. Postcards from Parenthood also wrote about this awkwardness and solved the problem by ordering Thumb Cards, which I still need to get more info on.

Picking a favorite post at Itzy's Kitchen is a bit like picking between chocolate and wine. Her recipes are amazing! This is but one of my favorites. She almost makes me wish I lived near her to take exercise classes. Almost.

Again, please link here to your blog and don't feel dissed if you're not on this list! I follow about 50 blogs, and I try to comment on most of them as often as possible, so lots of love to all of you!

Have a great week! If by chance I make it through this week and the birthday party, I shall chat with you all next week! Meanwhile, please visit these blogs and send them some love!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Fifth Circle of Hell

You guys, I haven’t seen this much traffic in Suburbia since we hosted the golf tournament last summer. It’s frightening to realize that one street closing can cause such traffic Armageddon. And it does not help at all that said traffic is being re-routed through rotaries.

Some of you may know rotaries. You may know them as “traffic circles” or “roundabouts.” I have more colorful phrases for them, but around here they are called rotaries and they are just plain absurd.

Here’s the deal: the rotary has a purpose. It’s meant to manage traffic in an area that can not otherwise be easily served by a stop light or four-way stop sign. It’s essentially a large circle with (usually) two lanes that features (usually) 4 or more exits. If you are exiting at the nearest road, you take the outside lane and dart through. If you are going through the rotary to one of the further exits, you stay in your left lane.



These are not necessary for where we live. At all. But for some reason, Suburbia decided that they just…I don’t know. Look cool? Save money? I truly do not know. What I do know is, they suck. Let’s be honest, 90% of the population can’t handle a simple merge onto a highway, much less make a quick decision when faced with four routes to choose from in a big circle.

I’ve studiously avoided the rotaries as much as possible. But now because they are building a hospital on my usual route and it took me 6 minutes to get a left turn light, I am forced to take the rotary. As a result, I am pretty sure Wee ‘Burb’s first full sentence is going to be a string of expletives, followed by her mimicking the sound of a horn.

The lanes are clearly marked, if you are going straight (yes, because somehow going straight is an option in this messed up version of a rotary), you go in one lane. If you are curving, you go in another.

I’m not without sympathy here. A confession: when I discovered these in MA, I would do about anything to avoid them. I would go miles out of my way just to make sure that I did not have to enter the vortex of speeding cars. But I was 16, a new driver, and I got over it. And when I did have to face it, I followed the logical setup and nobody died.

Mostly, people just stop and stare for a minute or two. Occasionally, a car in the rotary thinks the one merging on to the rotary has the right of way and stops for a minute or two.

But a few weeks ago I saw, hands down, the most insane and idiotic thing I have EVER witnessed…for sure with rotaries, possibly with all driving in general. This person in front of me stopped dead to look at the signs, presumably. And then realizing they had missed their exit, they backed up!!!

Let me slow this down for you: they backed up…on a circle! It’s a circle!

You will, I promise, get to your desired destination. You will not, I promise, be stuck like in European Vacation pointing out: “Look, kids, Big Ben!”

I think I may need to start walking to the grocery store.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Bitter Pill

You guys, something really weird happened to me. It’s kind of related to my recent blogging about what I am to understand is called Momnesia: basically me losing my marbles one day at a time.

So in June, you may recall that my husband hired me a housekeeper for the day to clean for my birthday party. And a few weeks later, I had what I attributed to a Momnesia moment. I thought I renewed some medication, went looking for it, and couldn’t find it.

Now it’s not a big deal, I dismissed it at the time. Because they’re basically just very low-grade anti-anxiety pills that I was prescribed for sleep when I was pregnant. I take them a few times a month on evenings I know I am going to be laying there staring at the ceiling listing all the things I’ve yet to do and all the time I should have spent doing said things. Am I the only one?

Anyway, these pills are awesome because they don’t put me to sleep, they literally just relax me enough where I can fall asleep on my own. But I am not so groggy that I can’t get up to soothe a very needy Wee ‘Burb in the middle of the night if need be.

Anyway, so I looked for them one night, and figured I just hadn’t refilled them. But since I couldn’t find the bottle, I just kind of blew it off and moved on. I have to confess, I was also afraid if I had refilled them and lost them, then calling to get another refill would put me on some list. Maybe it’s being the daughter of a woman who works in chemical dependency, I don’t know, but I fear ANYONE thinking I have some sort of issue with any mood-altering substance.

Case in point, after I had Wee ‘Burb, they put me on Vicodin. Which I hated, by the way. I don’t get how people can become addicted to falling asleep mid-sentence and waking up feeling hung over.

But anyway, so it said No Refills on the bottle. So I go to my two-week appointment and my doc is like “wow, Stephanie, you didn’t refill your Vicodin? You’re just taking Ibuprofen two weeks after having this baby?”

And I’m like deer in the headlights “but the bottle said no refills!”

Seriously, she stared at me like I had just spontaneously given birth to a twin they thought Wee ‘Burb had absorbed or something. And she informs me that it is only written that way so they can keep track of refills and make sure you’re not abusing it.

So I get yelled at for not taking meds, just in case you think the point of this post is that I was jonesin’ for some drugs and found them missing.

Since Wee ‘Burb has been mobile and I’m planning her first birthday and helping Scott with a new business while he constantly travels, I did need those pills, though. After three nights of not sleeping, I called Target and begged them to refill it. That was two weeks ago. I picked them up relatively without incident, other than that Target sucks my will to live with their construction and inability to actually refill a prescription within the timeframe given on the phone.

The other morning I get a call from Target saying my medication has been refilled. I inform them I picked it up two weeks ago. The pharmacist is puzzled, as you see someone called that morning requesting a refill. I asked if maybe it was an automatic refill request? She said no, they had a phone call request. Then she shrugs it off and goes “they must have just hit the wrong numbers.”

Ok, lots wrong with this scenario. First of all, have you used those automated systems? It’s kind of hard to punch in the wrong numbers because after you punch in said numbers, it says something like “please verify the first three letters of the last name are XYZ.” It also asks for a phone number to call when the prescription is ready. So if you did indeed make a mistake, those prompts would usually guide a person in error to start over. Right?

Second, why are they not more concerned that it’s two weeks and I’m refilling this prescription? I mean I get that it’s not some habit-forming pain-killer and all, but considering I need to turn over my fingerprints and first-born child to get Sudafed, you would think someone trying to refill a prescription two weeks after getting a whole bottle would maybe raise a few eyebrows.

I’m just confused why the woman at Target wasn’t more concerned. I’m trying not to blow this out of proportion, because if someone stole it and if they were trying to do something criminal with it, the joke’s on them. It’s something prescribed to preggos, so it’s not going to have hot street value, I’m just guessing.

But I also kind of feel violated that it’s possible someone was in my house stealing my medication. I’m not convinced it was the housekeeper because I don’t want to believe that of someone who does this job professionally. I know people who immediately blame “the help” when anything goes wrong in their house, and I do not want to be that person.

At the same time, I don’t know of any other strangers that have been in my house.

It’s just kind of an ooky feeling. Has this happened to anyone before? Do I need to take further action or just brush it off and figure the person either made an error or didn’t get what they wanted and moved on?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Momnesia: The Sequel

I feel it’s important to document my moments of Momnesia so that whoever ultimately decides I belong in the padded cell will feel completely vindicated.

So, like many couples, Scott and I have a nightly ritual. Once we’ve put Wee ‘Burb to bed, we typically sit down with our Tivo, Cornelius. Named after Yukon Cornelius of Rudolph fame. This is our second Tivo, our first, Big Papi, having passed about 6 months ago.

Anyway, we go through and determine which shows we want to watch. Yes, we watch TV at night. We’re intellectual neophytes. We’ve embraced it.

So once we’re settled into a show and a good couch snuggle, we’ll usually hear the jingle of Cous Cous’ collar going downstairs. And then the “who will let the dog out” dance begins. It goes something like this:

Me: Cous is downstairs.

Him: Is she scratching?

Me: Not yet.

Him: Okay. [goes back to whatever magazine or Internet article he’s reading until seconds later, we hear scratching on the sliding door downstairs]

Me: Now she’s scratching.

Him: Mmmm. [His way of pretending if he just waits it out, I’ll go down and take care of it. Only he knows this ain’t happening because I have the distinct pleasure of being Cous Cous’ full-time caretaker during the day. Which means I feel after-dinner doody is his duty, ya know?]

Me: Okay, now she’s whining.

Him: Sigh. Groan. Fine! [Gets up and goes downstairs]

Because I am a very considerate wife, I hit pause on the Tivo. Yes, I force him to go into the cold of night to let the dog take her 50 years to find the perfect poop spot, but he won’t miss nary a second of Dr. Phil. I’ll take my Wife of the Year Award now, please.

Anyway, so the other night Scott was packing for a work trip and for some reason I end up feeling bad for him every time he goes on these trips, even though it’s me who ends up being the single Mom trying to care for the insane dog and even more insane (and now mobile) baby. So I heard her scratching and instead of waiting for him to come out and here her, I was nice enough to go down and take her out.

But before I did, I hit the pause button on the Tivo.

The TV wasn’t on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

Happy November, People! As I mentioned, last week was my anniversary. What I failed to mention was that Scott was out of town the whole week. Oh, and Wee 'Burb decided to run a fever that was high enough to force her to stay home with me, but not high enough where she wasn't wired at the idea of being home in an only partially-babyproofed house.

So that explains my absence.

We had an AMAZING anniversary celebration this weekend, though, including a much-needed night away from the feverishly normal Wee 'Burb. We ate at La Belle Vie, which is the closest Minnesota has, or ever will have sadly, to5-star cuisine. AMAZING! Let me just tell you this: I have issues with carcass. I can't eat anything when it's in the form it was when alive. No lobster, I have to hide during the Thanksgiving carving, and definitely no chicken wings. But I ate marrow, people. AND I LOVED IT!

Side note: wanna know how much I love my husband? A few years ago I actually hosted Thanksgiving, including sticking my hand in a turkey's ass, and washing it. WASHING A CARCASS! ON THE INSIDE!! Now that's love.

After our amazing dinner, we checked in to the Grand Hotel, where we were upgraded to a king-size suite. It had a TV in the bathtub. Not the bathroom, the bath TUB!

In addition to the complimentary bottle of champagne they sent us, we also enjoyed a small version of our cappucino souffle wedding cake from Buttercream Bakery.

Last, but certainly not least, after getting up WHENEVER WE FELT LIKE IT, we ate an amazing brunch at Hell's Kitchen where I had a ham, cheese and pear melt that almost made Scott irrelevant.

Anyway, I should be back on schedule this week, assuming Wee 'Burb doesn't sponteaneously combust.

What are you all up to?

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Ode to Living Together

It's my two-year wedding anniversary! So in celebration, I thought I would share our living together story. I was reminded of this weighty issue/debate when I saw this article on Shine.

For various reasons, when I met Scott I was adamant that I would never move in with a guy until we’d been together for 6 months. It was arbitrary in some ways, but also based on experience. I was comfortable with the decision right up until I got a notice from my apartment that they were raising my rent. This notice coincided with my third complaint to the management about my neighbors who were European college students obsessed with playing techno and smoking pot at 3 a.m. And about month 4 of our relationship.

It took a lot of convincing and negotiation on Scott’s part to get me to move in with him. And even when I did, I did so on a trial basis. So a month before my apartment lease was up, I moved about half of my stuff into his 700 square food condo.

The trial rules went something like this: if this doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean we break up, it means we don’t live together. That’s it. There’d be no hard feelings on either side, and neither of us felt pressure. I always thought I was kind of weird, putting so many parameters on our relationship and living situation, until I read the Shine article.

I can’t say for sure these things are what led to us getting married, but it’s nice to know that we handled the living together situation in the “right” way according to the experts at Yahoo.

The rules go like this, according to the article.

 
  1. Bite the bullet and define the situation. We didn’t put any expectations on our living together. It wasn’t contingent on “you ask me to marry you in x amount of months” or any long-term arrangement. We both knew that there was nothing keeping us in this arrangement. Maybe there’s some element of fantasy to that. Scott has occasionally joked that the trial period was our “best behavior period,” but we both agreed on what worked for us. 
  2. Have the money talk. There were inklings in my relationship early with Scott that he could be THE ONE. But when he sat me down and asked me to list all my expenses and talk about our credit scores, I knew then and there I was going to marry that man. I had been in a previous relationship for YEARS only to find out when we went to buy a house that he had a credit score of 400. I assumed since he always paid in cash that he had a good money flow, I had no idea he paid in cash because he had no credit.
  3. Consider a cohab agreement. We didn’t do this, it wasn’t necessary for our arrangement because all my stuff was in a storage locker and we didn’t purchase any big items together. But it does make sense.
  4. Assign jobs. This is a continuous work in progress, I will admit. Especially when you have a baby and work at home. When we were in the small condo, we both tried to do a decent job of cleaning up after ourselves. There was an incident where I turned the toaster oven on with bread on top of it and forgot to clean up the mess. And I about crawled out of the window the first time I spilled red wine on the carpet. But he loved me enough to overlook that, and I chose to overlook a few of his shortcomings. Now things are more difficult. There are certain unfair expectations of people who work at home, I think. The bulk of the domestic chores go to me because of timing and accessibility. It seems like it should be easy for me to throw a load of laundry in or plan dinners because I’m home to do so. But I’m also at home for a purpose, and my clients don’t care that the baby is sleeping in jammies a size too small for her because I didn’t get a chance to throw her laundry in the dryer. They want their work done. Now try to explain that to someone who goes out and works with his hands and has a physically demanding job and you’re met with that Bridget Jones discussion of “fannying about with the press releases.” But the important thing is to keep talking about it, and keep setting expectations because there is nothing worse than a big blowup fight that’s ultimately about washing dishes.
  5. Practice the C word. That’s compromise, you dirty rascals. This one was difficult for me in earlier relationships because I am a strong personality and I know what I want. And often times, I know I’m right, too. So to have to sit back and consider someone else’s view is so difficult. But the first argument Scott and I had where we did compromise, I felt this amazing calm and peace. Like “oh that was it? Really?” I expected the world to come tumbling down around me, crushing me under the weight of his sheer wrong-ness, when in fact through give and take, I still got to be right and so did he! Magic.
  6. Keep your space. There’s some weird phenomena with couples, sometimes, where all of a sudden the “we” carries over to every part of their lives. It becomes worse when you have kids. Scott and I decided early on this would not happen. Do we occasionally cancel or say no to plans because we’re doing something for Wee ‘Burb, or because doing something for Wee ‘Burb has exhausted us and made us unfit for public viewing? Yup, sure do. But since we moved in together, neither of us has EVER said no when the other asks for a night out. I love the man, but I totally need my space. And so does he! My parents have been married over 40 years and once I asked my mom the secret and she said “dart night.” Twice a week my dad goes out and plays darts with friends and my mother sits home and reads the paper. The nights that Scott goes out, I usually put Wee ‘Burb down, open a bottle of wine, and watch what I want on Tivo. It’s domestic bliss at it’s best. And yes, I am turning into my mother. Hi, Mom!
  7. Plan for attack. You have to accept there’s going to be fights. This was hard for me because when I moved in with Scott, we hadn’t had THE FIGHT yet. You know what I mean, right? The fight where you all of a sudden figure out who this person is that you think you love? Sometimes what you find out ruins the relationship, and for me more often than not I would hold on 3 months longer so we could keep having that fight. So by the time I was moving in, I was bracing for it. And it came. And it went with a high five. Seriously, I married a man who high-fived me after a fight. But honestly we were both so relieved to have it over and to realize we could agree to disagree without name-calling or pouting or running away. It made me feel solid and cared for in a really weird way.
  8. Don't forget to flirt. Here’s the quote from the article: “After sharing colds and bedbugs, domestic life has a way of luring you back into the friendly old sweats you shuffled around when you were single.” Oh, dear. I am so guilty of this now! When I moved in with Scott and worked in an office, I would redo my makeup in the garage before walking in the door. I would NEVER leave feminine products in his sight or allow him to see my stash of worn-out sports bras. I had cutesy pajamas. Now? Well let’s just say there’s little mystery left, especially after having a baby. I wear my college Red Sox shirt that’s filled with holes to bed. But we still do big things like date night, and little things like setting the coffee pot for him, or getting up with the baby so I can sleep in a little longer. Hey, that’s flirting when you’re married with kids…those of you single young’uns out there enjoy the hell out of what you have now, promise me!

 Have you ever lived with someone before you got hitched? Did you have rules like this, or follow any of these?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: COUPONS!

Do you want to guest blog on Things I Love Thursday? Just submit me your ideas at stephanieinsuburbia@yahoo.com!

So some of you both on and off the blog were amused, and possibly horrified, when I wrote this in my post about losing my mind:

There’s no other way to say this, I am obsessed with coupons. I love them so much I date them. I’m not kidding, I will not cut coupons in a rush or in any atmosphere not conducive to my love for coupons. I light some candles, I settle in with a good TV show, and I tenderly cut at the designated pre-creased spot. I gently place them in my coupon organizer, which coddles them lovingly by expiration date. And said coupon organizer is velcroed everrrr so gently onto the cart so that they are accessible as I check out.

I could not be more serious. The same way I make time to play with Wee ‘Burb and snuggle with my husband and catch up on our day, I make time for coupons.

I think this goes back to when I was a little girl and my mother would sit on Sundays and read the paper. To keep me from bugging the crap out of her, she’d hand over the coupon section and some safety scissors. I don’t think it accomplished what she desired, as I constantly said “Mom, do we need 3 boxes of Cheerios?” until she shouted “NO! Nobody needs 3 boxes of Cheerios!” But it was something I could do with my mom and it always made me feel grown up.

Since then, I’ve always ALWAYS had to have the Sunday paper. And here’s how the ritual has gone since I was old enough to live on my own, and now that I have a family hey, we may legitimately go through 3 boxes of Cheerios!

Step 1: I pull out all the coupons. In our paper, they occasionally sneak some coupons in the front sections of the paper in addition to those wrapped in the Sunday Comics. My philosophy is and always has been “no coupon left behind!”

Step 2: I divide the coupons into piles. I have 3 piles now. There’s the pile I need (these are the store coupons like Target, Kohls, etc. and the generic grocery coupons), the pile my husband rifles through (usually the tool catalogs, Home Depot, stuff like that), and then the toss pile (all the other garbage like the Parade magazine and office supply coupons, etc).

Step 3: Cut first, ask questions later! A lot of people will tell you not to bother cutting coupons that you don’t need because you’ll end up spending money on items that aren’t useful. This is true in some cases. If you don’t use Crest toothpaste, then don’t cut it. But if you use Crest toothpaste, and you just happen to already have a few tubes in your closet (you DO have a closet of extras, don’t you?) it doesn’t hurt to cut them out. I’ll tell you why later. Anyway, I cut out everything we use, or might think about using if the price is right.

Step 4: I keep those coupons handy, and my entire coupon organizer (more on that later, too) around so that I can compare these to the store ads. I’ll compare prices at the different grocery stores and see if anything is on sale.

Know how I know if it’s a good price? I keep a list! I’m not kidding, I have a typed list that I have in my wallet at all times that shows the best prices for products we use all the time.


This allows me to check to see if a deal is really a DEAL or if the store has just marked something up for the sake of marking it down and advertising it. And it also allows me to comparison shop at bulk stores like Costco or Amazon.com to see if I can get a better price (I know it sounds insane, but it took me about 30 minutes and about 3 weeks of receipts to compile a good master list).

THIS is where my hint about cutting first helps. So if a store is advertising a sale on Crest, just because you have a few tubes doesn’t mean it isn’t a deal. If it’s a good sale and you can pick it up for a good price, you’re saving money on a product that has a long shelf life and ultimately you won’t be paying full price when you run out and HAVE to buy it or risk your teeth falling out (am I the only one that has that nightmare?). I typically just go ahead and use a highlighter to highlight the deals on the store ad and use that to make my grocery list later.

Step 5: Organize the coupons. This is an intensely personal choice. Some of you may wish to organize by expiration date, some by product type, some by amount of discount (our grocery stores typically cap a double coupon at $1 and only let you use 5 of them, so if you plan on doing a double coupon day, you may wish to organize them that way). I’m not going to get so political as to tell you how to do it. I choose the expiration date method myself. And I just organize it by month. And this is why I LOVE my new organizer that I bought at Office Max. It actually has 12 different sections and little stickers to organize it by month! And it’s purple, you guys, which is so unintentional, but kind of makes me laugh b/c now my purple purse has my purple Blackberry and purple coupon holder. Look at me all coordinated!

Ok, back to the serious stuff. So that’s how I organize my coupons. I mostly use them from the paper; however there are some great sites out there if you want to download coupons instead. Many require you to download a printer application. In the past I have used http://www.couponmom.com/ and http://www.redplum.com/. You can also just Google “download grocery coupons” and come up with a bazillion sites.

I also recommend that you go to the home pages of products you use often that rarely go on sale. For example, we use a lot of Eucerin and Aveeno for Wee ‘Burb and I have had good luck on those sites occasionally finding coupons. If there’s something you don’t find in your paper, I encourage you to Google the product name and “coupons” and see what you can find (and please share with me!).

So, that is my process. For the first year that I did double coupon days with my coupons, the LEAST I saved in one visit was $13.54 (that’s a combination of in-store deals with coupons, for those of you who were doing the math and recalling I said they cap the double coupons at $10). While honestly I think a lot of what I love is the organization, the savings doesn’t suck, either, especially when that’s about what it costs me for a year of a newspaper!

So, share and share alike! What sites do you like for coupons? What tricks do you have for saving money on groceries?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Workout Wednesday and Call for Guest Bloggers

Well, let’s start out with the fun, shall we? I am planning a huge ode to coupons for this Thursday’s Things I Love Thursday. I’d love some new voices in that little column for the next two weeks, so if you have an idea for a column, e-mail me at stephanieinsuburbia@yahoo.com by Sunday.

The less fun? Guys, I’m puzzled. I’ve been following the 10 Lb Slimdown program since the start of October and I’m getting NOWHERE! I lost a pound this week. I’m starting to get very anxious that I am not even going to lose the 5 pounds I was hoping for by the end of the month!

Intellectually, I understand we all hit plateaus. I’ve experienced this before…in fact, almost always at this exact weight. And in the past, it has discouraged me to a point where I quit whatever program I am on and just move on, which eventually means I stop tracking my food and stop working out as much (because, I think, what’s the point? I’m only getting fatter, may as well get fatter and enjoy life).

I know this is wrong! I know that even slow weight loss is loss. And probably better/more manageable than the quick weight loss I experienced at the beginning when I was shedding baby weight.

So why can’t I grasp this in my heart? I told myself all along that I would be proud and happy when I lost the baby weight. But it took me so long, that when I hit that point, I didn’t really feel like celebrating. Again, my little brain tells me “hey, 9 months isn’t too shabby to lose over 30 pounds of baby weight.” But my heart just screams “you need to lose sooo much more!” And these 1 pound weeks are just killing my motivation!

So, any advice? Have you had a similar plateau experience? Is it about mixing up food or exercise, or just waiting it out?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arm the Dustbuster: I'm Going In!

We are under attack! You guys, it is all out war in Suburbia.

I think I just saw Wee ‘Burb carrying the portable vacuum cleaner and telling her fellow daycare dwellers “This is my ‘Nam, man, this is my ‘Nam.”

It started innocently enough. Since we bought our house a few years ago, Scott and I made the decision to live upstairs, despite their being a really nice master bedroom downstairs. It was born mostly of not trusting the little ones we planned on having not to burst into flames in the time it would take us to get upstairs. Monitors schmonitors, we went for proximity.

So we had no problem giving the room up to my friend who’s living with us awhile. Really we’d only been using it as a second closet and storage area for a ton of crap. Apparently, so had the bugs. My friend was nice enough not to mention it for a few months, but then she finally broke down and asked for a portable vacuum. Our regular one doesn’t have a hose, you see, and she’d been attempting to kill bugs with an old issue of Food Network Magazine, but it wasn’t cutting it anymore.

She had an invasion. I felt bad, and gross, and kind of dirty. But I just gave her the vacuum and let her loose. And left a few new magazines downstairs…the newer ones have more oomph when you smack the spiders, I hear.

Well, the troops moved North and it ain’t pretty. Internet,  meet my enemy!




Wikipedia will tell you it’s known as Boisea trivittata, but around these parts it’s known as the Box Elder Bug. Wikipedia also says “In late spring and early summer, groups of 50-200+ bugs may gather on house siding or brick, usually in a sunny spot. A month or two later there may be pairs of them mating, connected end to end, also in groups of three and four.”

So, let’s review, shall we? These damn things are having a bug orgy on my house, and the single dateless losers are taking shelter in my house…or, well, my vacuum as the case may be. And it’s OCTOBER! That’s neither spring nor early summer. WTF?

I had read a mixture of soap and water can do the trick, and Wikipedia agrees. But, let’s face, it, the man who took Caddyshack-like measures to kill a freaking gopher that was only TRYING to get into the house was not going to take the actual invasion lightly.

All I know is, he came in with a jug of something yellow and poisonous-looking, nodded and walked out the back door. And I’m informed there have been few sightings since.

All Scott is willing to say is “the price of war is eternal vigilance,” but he looks pretty smug, so something tells me nuclear actions were taken.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Restaurant Week at NorthCoast

I got an e-mail a month or so ago advertising another restaurant week here in MN. I love restaurant week and we missed it earlier in the year. The concept is that restaurants put a limited fixed-price menu out. Dinners are typically $25-$30 a person at high-end restaurants.

We chose NorthCoast in Wayzata because it was relatively close by and because we had never eaten there before. We figured the point was to try something new, including new foods!

To start, we had duck confit egg rolls and pork flautas. The duck egg rolls were amazingly rich in flavor without being greasy. The pork flautas had the best enchilada-style sauce I have had since being in Mexico. It is listed as a roasted pepper and chipotle puree, extremely rich and creamy.

For his entrée, Scott ordered a butternut squash ravioli with a mushroom ragout. The sauce was very light, almost imperceptible, but it added more flavor to the ravioli than a traditional sugary/nutmeg type sauce.

I ordered the veal medallions with a gouda sauce. It was gloriously cheesy, and the veal was perfectly done. It wasn’t a large serving, but I found myself feeling satisfied, and it went beautifully with the Chilean Alamos Malbec we ordered.

Last, but oh so not least, was the pumpkin cheesecake. Now, I can take or leave cheesecake myself. Scott on the other hand craves it all year round. We usually try to find a place that has pumpkin beer for me and pumpkin cheesecake for him to quell both of our thirsts.

When it came out, Scott looked a little disappointed. It was a very light cake, almost like an Angel Food. But then he bit into it and a huge smile spread across his face. Earlier he had wondered if they actually had someone on-site or if they just bought their pastries from a bakery. I think we got our answer. Plus, on top of this heavenly cheesecake were roasted pumpkin seeds! Very unique, and a wonderful combination of salty and sweet.

We already have plans to go back next month for happy hour. We may just pick at a bunch of appetizers and share an entrée since the entrees are a tad pricey for our usual fare. But I highly recommend this suburban sweet spot for anyone in Minnesota.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Workout Wednesday: 10 Pound Slimdown Part Deux

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on and off the blog about my downward mental spiral. I've never felt so bad about being normal! And those of you who commented/asked about coupons, how my love affair started and where our relationship is now, I shall dedicate a post to them specifically so that you all may learn the way of the coupon.

So the week isn't going any better, unfortunately. I have more to complain about, and really isn't that what blogs are for? Sure, there are miners being pulled from the earth after months underground, but I have problems, PEOPLE! Problem #1 and the topic of this post is the fact that I would tooootally never get out if I were trapped in a mine. Because after a week of INTENSE workouts as part of the 10 Lb Slimdown, Spark People told me I burned 1800 calories. Guess what I lost? HALF A FREAKING POUND. Half a pound!!

I'd so be the person in the mine they accuse of sneaking food and water. "Stephanie, you're not living off a lemon and granola bar like the rest of us, you CAN'T be because you've gained 12 pounds." They'd all end up eating me at the end of month 1.

All joking aside, I'm pretty devastated about this because I really put my heart and soul into this. I've never been this dedicated to a workout plan, and I was also STILL walking Cous Cous and we did a 4-mile walk at the zoo.

I'm struggling to get motivated this week because of the sheer time and energy it took out of me last week. I need more of  a showing to keep me on track! I am still pushing through, even despite the fact that I got a flu shot this week and my arm is painin'!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Disorderly Conduct

You know that lingering sinking feeling you get at points in your life when you’re like “wow, I was in the top of my class, I went to a good college, I should feel a lot smarter than I do right now?” Well last week was a continuous week of that.

It started early in the week when I screwed up our passports. Here’s where I confess I got married two years ago and never bothered to change my name on my passport. Unlike Scott’s suggestion that perhaps I was trying to keep an alias and flee the country, I didn’t have a good reason for not doing the name change. It just wasn’t a priority (and, incidentally, when we refinanced, my maiden name came up under “known aliases,” so the whole fleeing the country thing wouldn’t have panned out, anyway). So when Scott’s was up for renewal, I figured it was as good a time as any to redo mine. The DMV suggested we mail them in to avoid extra processing fees. Since mailing crap is my domain, I took over.

I did two things I knew were stupid, and they both bit me in the ass. The first? I told him to make the check out for what the DMV dude wrote on my sheet when I went to get the info after we were first married. Two years ago. I mean, really, if STAMPS go up like 40 cents a year, you can guess passport fees may have changed in two years. And that nagging thought occurred to me, but I figured, “hey, it’s written on the sheet.” The second thing I did that I knew was stupid, I stuck it in a mailbox outside the post office. After I dropped it in I saw a sticker that CLEARLY said anything over a certain weight needed to be weighed in the post office, but I figured “hey, I put two stamps on it, we’re cool.” Neither were cool and now Scott’s passport expired.

Exhibit B.
When we returned from a recent trip, I thought to myself “I will be organized this time! I will unpack right away and do laundry right away, and put the suitcases away right away.” And I did. For the first time EVER, I actually did it, you guys! And it blew up STRAIGHT IN MY FACE! Because a few days later I discovered I was charged for Wee ‘Burb’s carseat, which is technically an assistive device. Only I can’t prove it because I THREW OUT the receipts in my desire to be organized and apparently they have no record of it.

It took, oh, 5 phone calls and 2 hours (and one very confused banker who was so nice as I told her “yes, I know you wouldn’t possibly have the baggage receipt number in your records from my debit card but customer service told me you would and I have to make the call) to determine I was boned. Friendly skies my ass.

Exhibit C.
There’s no other way to say this, I am obsessed with coupons. I love them so much I date them. I’m not kidding, I will not cut coupons in a rush or in any atmosphere not conducive to my love for coupons. I light some candles, I settle in with a good TV show, and I tenderly cut at the designated pre-creased spot. I gently place them in my coupon organizer, which coddles them lovingly by expiration date. And said coupon organizer is velcroed everrrr so gently onto the cart so that they are accessible as I check out. In an act of self-sabotage, I did what I always swear I will not do and did the self check-out. Big Mistake. HUGE! I walked out and got into my car a little dazed by how such a quick trip to the store had cost so much more than I anticipated.

Then I realized: I had forgotten to scan my coupons! The entire point of going to this dreaded place instead of Target was double coupon day, and I had failed to use my precious, precious darlings….who were nowhere to be found! And then it hit me, like a horrible punch to the stomach, I had left my coupon holder ON THE CART!! I thought about going back, but I had visions of me frantically searching for the person who DARED abscond with my coupon holder and I felt nothing very flattering or lady-like would come from it. I’m still in mourning. All I can say is thank goodness Wee ‘Burb is almost off formula because I had some awesome coupons in there. I wonder if home insurance covers coupons? Anyone?

Exhibit D.
In an odd way,  it links to both B and C. Scott and I have separate bank accounts, for a lot of reasons that make sense in our relationship. So he had written me a check to cover my ill-fated grocery trip mentioned in Exhibit B, and for the trip I took today to Target to get the rest of the items I hadn’t gone to get on double coupon day.

I lost the check. No idea.

I absolutely know I put it on the edge of the table and my first thought was that Wee ‘Burb had taken off with it. Yeah, because in the midst of my mental meltdown, she thought it’d be a cool idea to learn to crawl. We’ve only been practicing and fretting over this milestone for, oh, 2 months. Since our normally level-headed pediatrician informed us if Little Miss Lazy Pants didn’t get off her fat Huggies and start moving, we’d be forced to take her to a physical therapist. As I mentioned here, we have a high-deductible plan, so while yeah I don’t want to hear my kid is behind, I also don’t want to pay $100 per visit to have them play with her legs and tell me she’s lazy. Is that just me?

Where was I? Right, so I figured she’d made off with the check. Scott was nice and cool about it, but I couldn’t stop beating myself up. Losing coupons is bad enough, losing actual money is just too much.

So I pull into Target today, and to add to my crap mood someone decided after weeks of construction AROUND Target, it’s time to do the entire parking lot, forcing me to park 12 miles from the store on a day where I have a million things to do.

And I pull in and there’s this old dude leaning on the front of a car, his feet halfway in to the spot I want to park and I’m thinking “dude, you BEST not be saving that for someone who’s been circling, because I will run you over” and he just crosses his arms for a second, purses his lips, and then begins DIRECTING me into the spot. WHAH????

As I begin to think about the merits of giving him a piece of my mind (pro: it would release a lot of stress I’ve been building in my week of mental goo; con: I don’t have bail money…there was probably a coupon for that in my lost organizer, now we’ll never know), I pick up my purse and feel something sticky. It’s the tag from one of our suitcases (no, sadly, not the one I needed, wouldn’t that be a happy ending?) and attached to it is the check I thought I lost!

So what’s the diagnosis, Doctor Readers? Am I going insane? Is this the dreaded Mommy Brain I’ve heard so much about and dismissed as myth? Is there coupon insurance??