Monday, October 24, 2011

Where I Face the Music

In addition to the car drama, a lot has been happening around here. I am about to start a new job, and just as I was prepared for that, an opportunity came up to continue working with my current position on a contractor basis. This means a lot more money for our family, which is more than necessary with two car repair bills looming.

It also means a lot of hours away from my family, something I've struggled with while making the decision to keep both positions. For the next few months, I have to put my big girl pants on and accept that the things that are taking me away from my family for the short-term will ultimately allow us to comfortably spend more time together in the long-term...and hopefully grow our little family, too!

It means I need to make a conscious effort to spend every non-working second keeping my marriage and my parenting as the biggest priority.

And this means taking a longer hiatus than I had planned.

As much as I wish I could do it all, I know I can't. As much as I know I will miss this outlet and corner of the Internet, I also know I would miss so much more if I didn't take a step back for awhile.

I won't pretend there won't be days where I'll want to post, and maybe I will. And I hope to be back to posting as usual after the holidays. In the meantime, I look forward to keeping up with as many blogs as I can and seeing you all on Twitter and hopefully some of you in person.

I hope when I return, I'll see all your smiling faces and amazing comments. For the last two years, I have depended on you and turning my back on that, no matter how brief, isn't an easy decision. I don't ever take that for granted.

All my best for a beautiful and happy rest of the year!

Stephanie

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Fresh Hell?

I wanted to wax poetic about how I got an awesome new job and how excited I was to start a new adventure.

To celebrate my adventure, I went away with some friends to Wisconsin. Near the site of my recent rocky road incident.

I had some celebratory Prosecco and so allowed Scott to drive the car I had borrowed from my sister-in-law.

All of a sudden one of my friends yells "WATCH OUT" and I hear SLAM, followed by seeing a hoof and a very airborne deer.

To put this in perspective: that is two trips to Wisconsin resulting in a car being put into the shop. That's two car repair bills, if my car can even be repaired.

And that pretty much takes care of any extra money I was making at the new job.

I've been trying to keep a stiff upper lip through a lot lately. We seem to repeatedly hit financial setbacks right when we think we have our finances where we want them. Additionally, there's the fact that I hurt someone else's car, and all of the drama and horror that went with making that phone call.

I just don't have anything to spare at the moment, so I'll be taking a hiatus this week.

Hope your days find you deer-less and healthy this week!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Potty Power or Well of Course She Did

So my parents have taken to picking Wee 'Burb up on Thursdays and hanging with her. She gets pancakes and Elmo and all of the other awesome grandparent things that go along with that.

Really, this couldn't work out better for Scott and I. It's quiet time, sometimes a date night, sometimes just catching up on Tivo and eating dinner together. It's magical.

So we go to pick Wee 'Burb up after a rather awesome dinner at a malt shop nearby. We were high on peanut butter and chocolate malts and Wee 'Burb was high on grilled cheese and Elmo movies.

My parents hand me the daycare daily sheet and point out where it says she sat on the potty. I tried to ask her if she sat on the potty at school and she giggled, pointed to their dog and yelled "CASS!"

The dog's name is Cash.

The kid is Fort Knox about what she's into at daycare, I tells ya.

I almost forgot about it but in the car I said to Scott "you don't think she like..is potty-training at daycare, do you?"

We both snorted. We had a traumatic experience a few months ago when we ordered her an Elmo potty chair only to discover it has like 100 sayings in 4 or 5 languages. Traumatized, I forced Scott to disable the voice and we kind of didn't talk much about potty-training after that.

I mean, really, what's the kid going to do in the real world when Elmo doesn't cheer her on for dropping a deuce? Right? Isn't it just setting her up for disappointment??

Anyway, since then she's sat on it, oh, like 4 times. She's very fascinated with flushing the big toilet and every time she farts she declares "I poo-poo."

That's the extent of training.

Confession time: I kind of like diapers. I know, apparently this makes me a freak. But honestly, they're super convenient. Expensive, yes. But so damn convenient. 3-hour trip to a cabin in Wisconsin? It's cool, she has a diaper. Grocery cart full with only 10 minutes before we have to be somewhere? It's cool, she has a diaper.

You see where I'm going. Also, in addition to my selfishness, I just kind of assumed potty training would come a bit late to Wee 'Burb given our walking dilemma.

So I go in to the daycare the next morning and a teacher confirms that it was probably a mix-up, that there is a girl with a slightly similar name to Wee 'Burb and the new teacher probably mixed up the charts.

Confession time: I had kind of hoped she had just, you know, taught herself to go potty.

Later that day, I pick her up and the teacher writes on the sheet that this is NOT a mistake. In fact, Wee 'Burb has been sitting, and sometimes actually going, on the potty at daycare.

Wazza...whah????

Apparently her seeing other kids do it was just too much and she has been asking every day since at daycare to sit on the potty. She only goes a few times, and she has ZERO interest in sitting for more than 12 seconds on the now-silent Elmo potty here at home.

I by no means think this means she is potty-trained, or even really that ready to make this happen for reals.

But somehow it just seems right that every time I think I know how to guide my daughter developmentally, she has a different idea.

So now, moms, I need your help. I want to say this: NO JUDGMENT! I don't want anyone saying anything negative about anyone else's comments or thoughts. I DO want to know how you potty-trained your kiddo. What worked as a reward system? What didn't work? How long did it really take?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not Sure I'm That Kreativ

Ryan over at The Woven Moments gave me this loverly award recently.




Coincidentally when I had actually given her the 7x7 award I had received.

So the challenge is to come up with 7 random things about me. Because I just tagged a bunch of people in my 7x7 post, I'm not going to tag anyone. I decided to make this 7 things I am afraid of.

1. I'm afraid of carcass. I love meat, but I can't deal with anything in the form it was when it was alive. One of my biggest accomplishments was making Thanksgiving turkey. I only cried for a few minutes. It's not like I feel there's a soul or whatever, it's just too primal for me to deal with.

2. I'm constantly afraid people will be hurt. Whenever I hear a traffic accident or see anything on the news, I have to go through in my head where all my loved ones are to see if they are in the vicinity. If they were, I have to call or e-mail. One time there was an accident near where Scott was working and he didn't answer his cell. I cried for an hour, paced for another hour, texted and called him excessively. Turned out he was on a job site with no cell phone access. He thought it was "sweet" that someone cared that much. And he now knows to text me whenever he will be late, even if it means leaving his work site.

3. I'm afraid to speak Spanish. I'm technically fluent. I studied it through college, I can understand it almost perfectly. I can speak it almost perfectly...technically. But I am so afraid of being judged, I don't speak it enough with native speakers, and therefore my accent isn't what it used to be, which makes me more afraid. Here was just one incident where this was a bad thing.

4. I'm afraid I have no personal style. I'm always jealous of people who walk in a room, no matter their size or appearance, and they just OWN it. Because they are 100% confident in their skin and style. Here's a good example of why I am like this, and why it bothers me.

5. I'm afraid I'll miss things. I'm about to take on some things in life that will mean more time away from Wee 'Burb. While I want to believe in the long run that this will show her that women can hold positions of power, that I will do almost anything to try to relate to what my daughter will be going through in the future, the reality is in the "now" I will miss some things. And I worry she will resent me for it instead of really understanding why I do it. I know, I know. She's not even 2.

6. I'm afraid I won't be able to let go of my body issues. I am working so hard, between seeing a nutritionist  and a personal trainer and meal planning. I don't ever want my daughter to be where I am, to be feeling like despite my best efforts, I will not be able reach the goals I wanted for my body. I want her to love food and not worry about what it will do. I want her to try new foods, to always see healthy as a flavorful option. And yet, I know that her growing up in this media-rich collarbone-obsessed society...that's not likely. And a part of me dies every day knowing she might look in the mirror and not see how amazing she is.

7. I'm afraid the wrong decision will lead to ruin. I'm not talking about my recent car drama, but more that as I look to change some things in my life, particularly as it relates to work, that it will be wrong for my family. Currently I am the breadwinner and there's pressure to make all the right financial decisions to make sure we're all taken care of. If I fail, for once it's not just me who will fall, it could be my family, our lifestyle. In a weird way, the pressure is exciting and driving, and then on the other hand of course it's just stifling and overwhelming.

What are you afraid of?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rocky Road, Indeed

I feel I have a healthy fear of cars, a fear that has been slightly alleviated by having a husband who likes to tinker with them. But overall, I live in a constant state of anxiety that I will do something totally insane and my car will blow up.

My nightmare came true a couple of weekends ago. It started off so wonderfully, you guys. I had packed up Wee 'Burb and met my roommate at her work and we took the tot off on her first girl's weekend with my sister-in-law at her cabin.

It promised to be magical: Wee 'Burb got to play with the puppies, the adult chickies would drink some vino and play in the hot tub and watch some movies. It was meant to be a relaxing weekend I had so very much needed.

And then GPS happened. You may recall my GPS was horrifically stolen recently, and Scott kindly lent me his.

Yes, I've been to her place before. But I'm one of those people who, when I am riding in a car, I play with the radio, eat a lot of junk food, babble a lot, and pay ZERO attention to where I am going. GPS, my friends, was a necessity.

And the complete undoing of my life.

It was all going along perfectly, I even recognized the dirt road to my sister-in-law's cabin. The problem is, I couldn't remember what side she was on and all the houses have long dirt driveways with lots of trees. GPS was telling me it was somewhere I was confident it was not, so I went past the non-existent driveway that she was insisting I take and decided I would turn around and call my sister-in-law.

I found a road I thought I could turn on (the road I was on was super skinny and full of trees, didn't want to damage my car with branches, you see). It was all going good for about 50 feet or so when I kind of noticed  that the road was also getting thinner.

Before I could realize that, I heard the most ungodly THUMP followed by my stomach going into my throat.

Roommate and I GASP and look ahead of us. She aptly described it as "Titanic: the boulder version."

By this point, I felt I was pot committed. There was nowhere to turn around.

I absolutely, positively should have just backed up. Every fiber of my being told me to back up, but I just...I kept going.

I don't know why. Perhaps boulder #3 occurring simultaneously with branch #200 on my roof just turned my brain to mush. I don't know.

At this point, the hood of my car started smoking and there was an awful stench. I looked everywhere, no lights. Nothing came on. I stopped and looked under the hood.

For what? Right? I mean, unless wires were exposed or something was on fire, I wasn't going to KNOW anything was wrong.

But we didn't see anything so I felt like the only thing I could do was do a 50-point turn and go back over boulder Titanic and pray. I had to get off this road, which meant going back over what I was sure was certain death for my car.

Every time I tried to steer around a rock, another one would hit my tire or another branch scraped the top and I felt the bile rising as I tried to hold back tears. Wee 'Burb was DEAD QUIET in the back, sensing that the Roommate and I were going to lose it any second.

I finally called my sister-in-law and figured out where I was, got to her house and saw more smoking. As soon as I turned the car off, my car, my sweet lovely car with over 100,000 miles on it, she started bleeding.

Seriously, dark red fluid pouring out of the vehicle as I stared on, completely helpless.

After my awesome brother-in-law consulted with my equally awesome sister-in-law and I simultaneously tearfully thanked my awesome husband for not telling me how stupid I am, everyone concurred that it was transmission fluid mixed with oil.

Which meant both pans were gone.

I was okay with this. Assuming that was "all" that was wrong, I had resigned myself to leaving my car in Wisconsin and facing a pretty hefty bill. Small price to pay for another 100,000 miles of no car payment.

Thankfully my in-laws had an extra car to lend me, we had free towing thanks to my Roommate, and we managed to get through the weekend drunk and happy.

Until I was informed by the mechanic that I drive a Saturn.

Yes, I know I drive a Saturn. This wasn't news. I'm not that stupid about cars.

I also know that they don't make Saturns anymore. Which means the part that I need? Doesn't exist.

Well, it does. Possibly in Pennsylvania. It's, seriously, the ONLY ONE out there and they're not keen to part with it. If they did, it would be $400.

My car is worth $1300 max.

All this is to say, please pray for me as I pull the girl card, crying softly while calling junk yards on my lunch hour today to see if they have Saturn parts.

Otherwise, know anyone who is selling a car?

Please tell me I am not the only directionally challenged one. And also that I am not the only one who has done something stupid knowing full well while doing it that it's stupid.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drawing the Line

When I was in Elementary School I recall doing a lot of art projects. I remember being slightly excited and more than slightly anxious when they were assigned.

You see, I loved tag board. I loved the idea of art, though my execution was terrible.

I did not love my lack of creativity and the inevitable "help" my mother would offer.

Each trip to Target meant we would buy two pieces of tag board, the first being a practice piece, you see.

Each time I thought for sure I wouldn't need the second piece. I would get it right the first time.

I should have bought stock in the stuff.

I've never been one to focus on anything artistic. Even now, I use Shutterfly as my only means of Scrapbooking and PowerPoint as any illustration I ever need. If it takes more than an hour to do any project, I'm just not that interested.

You could say I have artistic ADD.

Anyway, my mother is a perfectionist. She would immediately begin "helping" by drawing lines with a ruler and getting out stencils. While other children were out there (GASP) free-forming their text on tag board, I sat with ruled lines and small dots to indicate the spot where the stencil should butt up, thus allowing for even and clear spaces between letters for maximum legibility.

Making the lines took about an hour, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to do anything beyond that. While most kids were willy-nilly gluing on objects from magazines and catalogues, I was story-boarding my ideas by carefully placing items down on the tag board in the form I wished them to be later.

If those were deemed appropriately spaced, I would then draw a line at the top and bottom of the item so I would know where to glue when I was finally allowed the glue stick.

Back then I saw my mother as a demanding perfectionist. Now I think she just wanted us to take pride in our projects. I think she was encouraging us to think and plan before doing. Just as I would always write an outline to a paper, having a plan before execution was crucial to tag board art in her mind.

Wee 'Burb is too young for any kind of art, really. Though I do of course hang her "sticker art" from daycare (which is exactly as it sounds, she places stickers on a piece of paper). When she's old enough for art, I doubt it will involve tag board. Instead, it will involve whatever future form of illustration software is out there.

I wonder, though, if I will be standing over her, encouraging her to count cursor spaces between illustrations and double check her fonts are all sans serif.

How did your parents "help" with your homework growing up? Were you grateful for their involvement or resentful? What do you think now as you're older? How do you plan to help your children or students?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mute This!

Our lifetime has brought about some pretty damn amazing technological breakthroughs, wouldn't you agree?

But none quite as miraculous as the power to selectively mute certain people.

Here's the gist:

Matt Richardson, a video producer for technology magazine Make, likes to keep the TV on in the background while he works but got irritated when certain celebrities came on the air. So he invented "The Enough Already," a device that let him put those bothersome blowhards on mute automatically.

Using a versatile piece of computer hardware called Arduino, Richardson cobbled together an infrared device that he programmed to decode his TV's closed-captioning system. The device monitors the closed-captioning track in real time, and automatically puts the TV on mute for 30 seconds when certain keywords—the ones Richardson programmed it to pick out—appear. He made it in about a week, working in his spare time, he told CNN, and his prototype cost about $70 to put together.


I submit to you the Top 5 words/people (in no particular order) I would mute if given the technology:

1. Taco Bell
2. Kardashian (all. And since they're all the same, they count as one).
3. Fox News
4. Chelsea Handler (she's not funny, do not argue this with me, you will not win)
5. Palin (any and all)

Please share yours!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oh, The Shame or How I Failed as a Toddler Parent Part #342

Dear Parent,

It has come to our attention that your child has shown up to school without some requested Learning Material. We understand you may be used to a home school environment, where you merely walked across the street in your pajamas and willingly dropped your child off with a mixed-age group of bandits to do God knows what with Nobody knows who.

We here at La Petite Academy* expect something a little different from our Parents. We have carefully laid out a curriculum to make your daughter a productive member of society. As such, we expect that our Parents not only participate in, but also embrace our philosophy of collective learning.

Perhaps you look at your child and simply see a teething diaper-wearing toddler on the precipice of discovering the potty and a big girl bed. You scoff: but she's not even two years old!

Well, Parent, we here at La Petite Academy expect just a little more from our Parents. We expect involvement in your child's curriculum. After all, do you think President Barack Obama got where he is today by having a Mother who simply ignored a calendar curriculum? Had she said to herself "Oh, I am so busy, my toddler is throwing tantrums today, I can't be bothered to bring in the required Learning Material," what would have become of the man we know today?

I think our point is clear, Dear Parent. We respectfully request that you reconsider your lack of participation in this matter and bring in your pre-presidential child's required Learning Material at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

La Petite Academy Faculty, Toddler Director

*Names changed to protect the innocent
** Okay, here's what really was sent home, but the message is clear, no?


*** My shame knows no bounds.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Where I Give You My Super Secret Meal Planning Strategy...Because I Was Told To

For quite some time Life with Baby Donut has been asking me to give the details about my meal planning strategy. In particular, she was interested in knowing more about my recipe binders.

The binders started actually as one binder, and it was used to simply hold recipes I tore out of magazines. For some time, I had boxes of food magazines with flags attached. Shockingly they weren't used. Also shockingly, I had zero room for them.

So I just tore them all out and stuffed them in the binder.

Shockingly, them just sitting in the binder also didn't lead to much success in meal planning. So I finally got it together and organized the binder by food type (poultry, beef, pasta, etc).

Once I had the organization, I felt liberated! I started reading more and more magazines and filing more and more recipes and all of a sudden the one binder was overflowing. It was challenging to do meal planning for different things: when I wanted to have a healthy meal versus when we were entertaining or just wanted to indulge a little.

And thus my idea was born: I would arrange one "healthy" binder and one "entertaining" binder. I defined healthy as 400 calories or under.

My process goes like this:

Find a binder. I really like a bigger 3-ring binder, and I think it's important for it to have pockets for some items that won't do well with three-hole punches.



Make your own categories. I chose to organize mine by type of meat because more often than not, I look in our freezer to see what we have extra. You may wish to sort by entree, time, slow cooker recipes, whatever floats your boat.

Make tabs for that category. All I used to make the tabs were manila folders that I tore in half.  
As I go through magazines, I yank out recipes and put them in a folder I keep in the binder until I can organize them.


My Folder 'O Recipes


My "Tabs"

I punch holes in them with my handy dandy three-hole puncher and VIOLA!


Did I mention I need a new binder? I kind of overstuffed this one. So many healthy recipes, YAY!

Then when I am ready to meal plan, I go through the recipes and just put them here on my handy dandy recipe holder (which, incidentally, comes from the husband and I kind of want to replace it).



I have to say, our three-week meal plan was pretty ideal. We purchased all of the non-perishable items and then just shopped for the fresh stuff the week of. Game-changer, people! We've wasted significantly less food and while we certainly went out to eat a few times in there, for the most part knowing we had a meal more or less waiting for us at home made a difference.

One new thing I did with the meal plan was also pick a veggie side. The Sister Wife and I were discussing that we would be more willing to eat veggies more often if they just tasted like something. So I can declare success with spinach and pine nuts; Parmesan broccoli; and green beans and bacon. Amazingly, each item was pretty healthy b/c the toppings weren't overdone, but it gave them a lot of flavor.


Peppers with Parmesan and Thyme

So that's it! How do you plan your meals and/or organize your recipes?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lola's Rant: THE HORROR, THE HORROR!

Please welcome Lola again! When she told me this story, I begged her to write this up, as I think it's blog gold!

Who here remembers their first driving lesson? I know I do – I almost plowed into a parked van trying to execute a left turn. Good thing those instructor cars came with two sets of brakes. Then there was confusing the gas pedal with the brakes on a road test with my dad. Certainly an unforgettable experience – especially for my dad!


I got to appreciate his bravery a little bit more just a few weeks ago, when I gave my very first driving lesson. Did I mention that it was to my mom?

That’s right. My mom still hasn’t learned how to drive, and now that my parents may be moving to a much more car-intensive city, I finally managed to talk her into giving it a whirl.

So picture this: a deserted parking lot on a weekend. It’s almost dusk. I get into the passenger seat and it sinks in – I have absolutely no control whatsoever. All I can do is hope and pray that I can talk her through navigating around the mailbox and the street lights. And really, that’s not a comfortable place to be.

But hey, this was all my idea and I at least have to look like I’m totally okay with this (and not having a little mental freak-out).

She gets in the car, which is already running (it’s cheating, but it’s our first lesson, so whatever). I kindly ask her to adjust the mirrors. She refuses because “she doesn’t know how to use them.”

Dear Jesus, if I get home alive and without serious damage to my vehicle, I promise to build several churches in your honor. But hey, gotta stay calm! The last thing I want to do is freak her out by letting on how nervous I am!

So she puts her foot on the brake, puts the car in Drive, and we sloooowly take off. Watching her go, I begin to understand who I get my overcautious nature from – she’s not exactly a giddy 16-year-old who’s, like, totally psyched to finally get behind the wheel.

Like, omigawd!

So we start making figure eights around the parking lot at a snail’s pace. At some point, I actually relax enough to start having evil, envious thoughts – my first driving lesson didn’t go this smoothly! Somehow, the idea that my mom is a better neophyte drive than I was overrides the terror within me. The little voice inside my head that was screaming “she’ll kill us all!” five minutes ago is now saying “you got served! By your mom!”

But I look over and she’s actually kind of enjoying herself. I suggest we try the gas pedal (you can imagine the speed we were going just riding the brakes). She does. We don’t hit a chestnut tree.

Woo hoo! My mom ROCKS, people!

I guess this is that same mixed feeling of terror and pride that parents get when their teen finally starts to drive. It’s sort of overwhelming. Plus I’m getting just a tad nauseated from going in circles over and over. And yet I don’t say anything, because it really is quite an amazing feeling to watch someone take one tiny, miniscule step toward conquering a huge fear.

What the hey, I’m actually very proud of her!

The moment is ruined when some kid shows up to learn to ride his bike on that very same lot. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to mix the two forces of destruction. We pull over without incident and I get out and walk over to the driver’s side on jelly legs.

Sitting in the car, I start thinking how something that I find so easy, so automatic – like breathing – can seem so daunting to someone else. Someone who’s even afraid of the mirrors. And about how little it takes to feel a bit more empowered.

Not that I’m itching to have a second driving lesson with mom anytime soon. Not until she learns to adjust the mirrors, anyway.

Do you remember your first driving lesson? Do you have more respect for whoever had to be in the car with you now?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Years

Brooke over at My Small Soldiers kindly gave me an award recently and I saved it until today because I thought it was a great prompt to look back.



You see, I've been doing this for two years. I debated whether I would even say anything. I'm not the type to wax poetic about what blogging has done for me. I love it, I love my readers and the world it has opened up, but I won't sit here and pretend there haven't been times where I wondered what I was doing.

Want proof? I initially wrote "wax poetic about what blogging has done TO me."

Still and all, I am proud of almost everything I have written here. It has given me the outlet I craved to continue creative writing without the pressure of assignments or deadlines.

Choosing 7 was harder than I anticipated, but here goes nothing:

Most Beautiful:

Where I Worry Someday My Daughter Will Experience The Lonelies
One of my favorite lines: But as I looked down at my daughter, I wondered: how do I tell her that if she gets that feeling, that lonely feeling, she’s in the wrong crowd, she’s with the wrong person?

Most Helpful:


I Don't Know if I Helped Anyone, But My Advice on What to Do Before Getting Married Did Inspire Conversation
One of my favorite lines: But I think for most couples, cohabitation is imperative to really understanding how your relationship will progress. When you each have your own corner to run to when things get tough, it's just not the same as having to be in the same space and work it out.

Most Controversial:

This Wasn't as Controversial as I had Feared, but I Dared Write About Spanking.
One of my favorite lines: As I may have mentioned, I love me some Dr Phil and he says something that has always stuck with me. “When you have a child, you write on the slate of who they are every day.” Well, if that’s true, Amber and Gary’s kid’s slate is covered in expletives, smeared with Dorito dust.

Most Popular:

Stats Don't Lie: People Love When I Write About TV
One of my favorite lines: (these were the days before Oz, so I am sure it was put nicely, but the moral of the story was you either get shivved in the shower or you become some big man’s lady).

Most Underrated:

I Thought Slapping Someone at a Church Function Would Have Garnered More Enthusiasm and Interest.
One of my favorite lines: You could hear the smack followed by just total silence until Scott gasps to the woman next to him “did that dude just hit his wife??!!” and the woman nods and Cowboy Hat abuser has now realized what he’s done and pats her head and said something like “that was harder than the demonstration required.”


Most Surprisingly Successful:

Talking About My Mistakes in a Serious Way was a Departure for Me, but People Got the Message (and nobody got hurt)
One of my favorite lines: In my heart, all I wanted in the world was to crawl in that car and tell her how sorry I was, to hug her children and her and tell her how reckless I was, how incredibly self-absorbed I was to think getting to that restaurant sooner was worth more than her children.

Most Pride Worthy:

Where My Empathy Brings Me Back to Childhood
One of my favorite lines: Constantly starving for attention, not always understanding that the attention I was getting was at my expense, or not caring. I took everything so seriously, I never got the jokes.


So, seriously, thank you to Brooke because this was a great way for me to look back and realize how much I've written that I am truly proud of.

Here's who I would love to hear from on their blogs, and thus I bequeath them this award (and even if they don't accept, you should visit them and love them as I do):

The Woven Moments
It's Blogworthy
Life with Baby Donut
Fragile X Files
Not a Perfect Mom
La Petite Pancake
HungriGyrl

And I would actually love if all of you commented on either a post of mine that's your favorite, or a post of yours you are most proud of.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Flower in the Prison Cell Makes All the Difference, Don't It?

Are you sick of me whining about having to commute now?

Let's do something more fun, shall we? Let's talk decor. Namely, what do you do to make your cubicle feel like YOU?

I figure there are some basic dos and don'ts. Do keep it tasteful and simple. Don't put up religious stuff or advertise how much you like booze. But I'm just not sure how to go with it beyond that.

I have a home office that my awesome husband built. Did I mention he's awesome? Because he BUILT IT! Sadly, I am not awesome and because I tend to end up watching a lot of TV on the couch, I didn't really decorate it. My office now looks more like this.


Organizers: UNITE!

Obviously, I can't keep this kind of trashiness in a cubicle at work. So I want something orderly, personalized, something that will make me feel as at home as I can possibly feel.

Naturally, I went to Twitter first and got these great responses:



So, definitely pictures of my kiddo. And here are a few other odds and ends I have lying around that I'm considering putting in.




We call him Chairman Oink.


Also, I kind of figured I'd step into this century and give Pinterest a shot. I didn't find a lot that I feel I could realistically do, but there were a few nice ones:

I like the idea of some wallpaper.


I really love the idea of these hanging portraits. Maybe smaller ones w/ photos. But kind of serene.
Doesn't this just look so tidy and beachy??
So, share your wisdom, oh cubicle/office dwellers. How do you decorate? What's your favorite thing in your cube? Are there no-nos?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Second Childhood

You guys, there isn't much I don't love about the daycare that sparked the DAYCARE DILEMMA.

Except one major thing. They give a lot of homework.

For me.

Sunday afternoon while watching the Patriots I spent an hour searching for family photos. Because apparently next week my child will be making a family tree.

It's cool. She's not even 2 and still sees pictures of a baby and sometimes says "Momma" (yeah, I'm youthful like that), but she's going to be going all Ancestor.com up in her toddler classroom.

I wish this was it. The week prior I spent my Sunday organizing her clothing for the week because it was Color Week and she was to wear the chosen color of the day.

Lest you think they're too structured, Friday was Favorite Color Day. Also known around these parts as Well, What Does She Still Fit Into Day (kiddo had a growth spurt, we're all reeling a bit).

You guys, I love that they expand her mind, I truly do. I find things like book orders and School Picture Day adorable and goofy.

But this requires actual work on my part, and I just don't have the energy. I feel especially bad for the people there who have school-age kids with ACTUAL homework and permission slips and the like who now have to add color coordination to their already packed to-do list.

But maybe they don't feel the need to be A++ Valedictorian Mom and I just have issues with perfectionism?

No that can't be it.

Can't you just put up a color wheel like everyone else? Can't you draw a stick figure in a dress and call it Momma? Or...okay, a stick figure in work pajamas. I've spent close to two hours on these projects and I'm pretty sure the highlight of Wee 'Burb's day will STILL be snack time.

Anyone else have overzealous school preparedness daycares? Am I just overly cranky and denying my child a great education?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grocery Budget

So, those of you who've been with me the last few months know that we've put Wee 'Burb in a new, more expensive daycare, thus requiring some financial magic and finally resulting in the loss of my data plan and some unfortunate dealings with my cell phone company and ebay.

Anyway, I came across this article about typical grocery budgets and started wondering if maybe we can't cut a wee bit more in this area.

But I am also wondering if it's even remotely realistic. The article says:

According to the USDA, in 2011 it should cost me $523.70 per month to feed my family of two adults and two children ages two and five a nutritious diet on a thrifty budget. To feed the same family on a low-cost plan would cost $667.20; a moderate-cost plan would cost $823.60; and a liberal plan would cost $1,018.80.


In fairness, I would say we're between the moderate cost and liberal plan.

But then again, we only have one kid. Does Cous Cous count as a kid?

The key focus of this article is not over-buying, which is something I admit I am guilty of. In our house, we consider certain things "staples" and that usually means sweet peppers, onions, garlic, and yogurt. Unfortunately, some of those items get ignored for a little bit and then we have soft peppers, melted onions, sprouty garlic, and chunky yogurt.

Wonh wonh wonnnnhhhhh.

I'm hoping our three-week meal plan will help this. We should have a decent amount of recipes on hand should we have extra produce.

Where in this budget do you fall? Have you taken steps to reduce your grocery budget at all?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Driving Into Different Territory

So, some of you may already know that my full-time telecommuter status has been revoked. Come October it looks like I will be back in the office full-time, and it's got me more than a little stressed. The autonomy and work/life balance of working at home has been something I have come to cherish.

The fact that my new commute (about 40 minutes) will come right before winter offers me little in the way of consolation.

Consider this article on how it's more difficult for women to commute than men.  At first I found the premise sexist and kind of absurd, but then I really thought about it. While my husband doesn't love driving all over creation for his job, he's rarely stressed about it. Because I am the one who usually picks Wee 'Burb up, because if I can't, I have the sexless sister wife to back me up. And then, of course, my parents help out at least once a week. He doesn't worry about dinner being late because I'm the one who prepares it and cooks it well before he's even on the road.

We've both taken for granted that since I've been a Mom, I've been working at home.

The article puts it succinctly: Researchers attribute women's heightened "sensitivity to time spent commuting" to our "greater responsibility for day to day household tasks (including childcare and housework)."

I have gently broached the subject with Scott in terms of us re-regulating our life. While it made sense for me to do household chores and cook while I was home (because I could do them on a lunch break, or because I could start work earlier and have more time to prepare dinner, etc), we'll now both be on the road, stuck in traffic, racing to see which of us can pick Wee 'Burb up before having to hand the daycare a late fee.

I'm not sure I'm ready for this. I'm not sure he is, either.

Do you agree that commutes are harder on women, especially working moms? Have you had this kind of switch? If you went from working to staying at home, did you just start assuming housework? How do you divide chores if you both work outside the home? Is your entire weekend spent cleaning and catching up?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Famous Foodies Like My Stuff

So I am perusing Food Network magazine the other day when I stumble across this!



It's my cow creamer, the one that started our first registry argument, featured prominently in the house of The Pioneer Woman.

Anyone see a pineapple corer there? No? I thought so.

Take THAT, Scott!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wherein I Pat Myself on the Back

You guys? I want to kind of brag a little bit here. Some of you longer-time readers may know that I have been seeing a nutritionist. You can see the post where I first see her here and where she talks me off a ledge here and where I realize I need more help than just her here.

I am not going to pretend I met my weight, and consequently my BMI goals.

But another area I had focused on was triglycerides.  High triglycerides can be an indicator of Diabetes, something that is just rampant in my family. I've always been hyper-aware of the possibility that my weight, though less than it used to be, still puts me in a risk area for this disease. Seeing what my father has gone through, as well as myriad other people in my life,  I just don't want to ever have to deal with Diabetes if I don't have to.

My triglycerides  had actually gone higher from my first biometric screening to the next, so I was concerned about the trend. She immediately suggested fish oil and more fiber.

My screening was in February. I had it retested a few weeks ago. 38% lower.

While I am not proud of my lack of weight loss, I am very proud of how much my health has improved.

My nutritionist and I determined we don't need to continue to see each other, but I told her I owe her a lot, and I know I will keep what I learned going forward as I work on improving my body and my lifestyle.

Some of the biggies I learned:

1. Fiber is key for everything. Healthy digestion, weight loss (keeps you full longer), and lowering triglycerides and even bad cholesterol. My favorite sources of fiber have been high-fiber Trader Joe's bread and spinach.

2. Get water where you can. If you're like me and don't love just chugging boring plain old water, try flavored water or flavored seltzer (watch out for added sugar, though) or decaf tea. Lemonade counts, too (again, watch the sugar).

3. Check your sugar. Have I said enough about sugar? Honestly, guys, my diet focus was always on fat. So I did a lot of those 100 calorie packs and yogurts. But when you look at the sugar content of some of these items, it can be quite alarming. Keeping sugar at or around 6 grams is a good guideline. BUT, some things will be higher. I was nervous about these fruit bars from Trader Joes that I ate.

Source: Yummy Diet Food

Well, I needn't have been. My nutritionist declared them almost the perfect snack. Low calorie, has a serving of fruit and/or veggies, and all of the sugar comes naturally. If you see something high in sugar and it comes from fruit or something else naturally high in sugar, check the ingredients to make sure there's nothing added or processed.

4. Supplements can be your friend. I was a bit anxious about adding supplements to my diet. I mean, I take a multivitamin, but otherwise I'm sort of skeptical about adding a bunch of pills to my life. However, I can now say with 100% certainty that fish oil was integral in lowering my triglycerides. I also am taking Vitamin D. I can't point to any particular effect, but I do feel more energetic.

So overall I feel like I have the tools, and now the key is using them correctly.

Have I convinced any of you to see a nutritionist or dietitian? Do you take supplements? What nutrition fact surprises you the most?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back on the Wagon

You guys, I had a wee bit too much vacation on my vacation, if ya know what I mean. I drank Dunkaccinos almost every day (please, Minnesota, get a Dunkin Donuts IMMEDIATELY), I drank some fabulous wine on the fabulous porch, and I enjoyed so much fried fish, I may have sprouted gills.

I had to face the music when I got back. I was most afraid of my new personal trainer, John. He was surprisingly easy on me. Easier than I was on myself when I saw myself in those gym mirrors. SHUDDER.

Epic diet fail, people.

My roommate and I also admitted that we spent the day I got back in my parents' hot tub (she's house-sitting) drinking Prosecco and downing a family-size pizza.

Sunday we got together and decided we had to get back on the wagon. We took out my humongo binder of recipes and set about creating a meal plan.


 
Instead of doing just a weekly plan, we decided to come up with entree/side combinations for about three weeks and shop every Sunday based on grocery store sales and what we could get at the farmer's market.

When we were done, we were both sort of shocked we hadn't thought of this before. Meal plans can feel so restrictive sometimes. And sometimes you just can't stomach 3 chicken dishes in one week. Sometimes the broccolini just looks so damn good at Trader Joe's, you must have it.

Anyone with me?

Anyway, it's great. Or it will be when we start it next week. We are trying almost 80% new recipes, including veggie sides. We're integrating some good fall-like foods like sweet potatoes.

It's amazing how having a plan can make you feel skinnier in moments.

We also may or may not have set our weight loss goals based on New England Patriots goals.

What? We're kind of dudes sometimes. It happens.

What do you do when you go totally off your meal and/or fitness plan? Do you dive back in or do you have to phase in? Do you go nutty on vacation or stay on plan?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Last week I got an unpleasant paperwork surprise when I went to pick up Wee 'Burb at daycare. It was our very first Incident Report. The report read: "While Wee 'Burb was playing, a friend bit her on the left arm."

Some friend.

Honestly, the write-up kind of made me laugh. I shrugged it off at first, but then sure enough, there was a bite mark clear as day on her little arm.

The teacher said she didn't cry.

For some reason, that made me more emotional about the whole thing, that my little girl just stood there and took it while some kid bit her in frustration.

I know this is the age. Wee 'Burb is a notorious slapper, though for some reason only at home. She never hits at daycare and she never hits other kids. But she has zero fear of smacking me right in the face when she's mad.

My parents told me I should have asked what was done to the biter, to determine if there was a time out or if the tot is being removed from other kids. I felt weird about doing that. They had clearly taken pains to not mention his or her name,

When I expressed my doubt over whether or not I had the right to ask about some other kid's punishment, my mom staunchly said: "I did when it was Pacman."

Pacman was my daycare taunter, a child who constantly chased and bit other kids. Before I wrote an essay to become a latchkey kid, I was stuck with Pacman, a younger boy, and his terrible teeth. Because I was shy and quiet, I was an easy target. Looking back, I think he enjoyed getting a rise out of me. It took a lot.

My mom bringing him up made me laugh. When I was in college, my mom casually said "I went to so-and-so's graduation party last weekend." I had no clue who she was talking to. She did the usual Mom thing "of course you know who he is, he went to your daycare, you were a few years apart...you know, Pacman?"

I still do not remember the actual name of this guy. But I guess it's good to know he's now a productive learned member of society. And that while I obviously vividly remember this kid, it hasn't affected my relationships or my life in any long-term way. There's hope for Wee 'Burb and the chomping child, I guess.

How would you have dealt with this? Would you wait for it to happen again to ask about what's being done, or assume the kiddo is a serial biter and express concern? Is this just age-appropriate behavior? Were you the biter or bitee when you were little?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes...

So, after multiple different managers and departments, the edict has been finally handed down: I will no longer be a full-time telecommutercome October. While my new arrangement will be helpful career-wise, it will also mean a huge change in my day-to-day life.

Let me break it down for you: when I started full-time telecommuting, I had just purchased a house, I was newly engaged, I wasn't even 30 yet.

Things have changed a bit since then. I take Wee 'Burb to her daycare in workout clothes. I only apply concealer when absolutely necessary...foundation even less often. My hair is in a ponytail so often than the times I do take it down, Wee 'Burb is fascinated that I actually have hair.

Also? I haven't put on work clothes in years. Among the fears I had about commuting, waking up before 6:30, and having to be presentable before coffee, my biggest fear is what I will wear. 

And then it hit me, this vague memory that before I was working at home full-time, I had clothes I wore to work. In fact, I recalled having quite a few pants I had paid good money to have tailored about 6 months before I was told I could work at home. 

But where were they? I looked for a full week and gave up. Then late one night while watching the Red Sox kick some butt, it occurred to me that there was one place I hadn't looked. I had mostly cleaned out the closet my roommate now uses, but I recalled I had stuck a bin or two there that hadn't fit anywhere else. 

After completely dismantling the closet, I found it! The bin labeled "Steph's Closet" that held a treasure trove of tailored delight. 

Remember me saying I had basically none of the top 10 Gunn recommendations? Well, I still kind of am missing some things but I did find 8 pair of tailored dress pants, 3 black skirts, 1 white button-down shirt, and 2 nice wrap dress shirts.

So I'm feeling good and then I see this! 50 CLASSICS????  I couldn't even make the top 10.

Allow me to share my feelings about the 50 classics.




What are your thoughts on the 50 classics? When is "classics" outdated? Does anyone know what an Oxford Shirt is????

Friday, September 2, 2011

As Coping Mechanisms Go, it Could be Worse

When things get tough, I get cleaning.

Imposing organization on thing just makes me feel a million times better.

After a vacation, I usually feel a strong need to clean and organize. I always try to do this before I leave so I don't return to a messy house. But typically we all think of things to add at the last minute, and there's no time to pick up after yourself, and so there's a pile of clothes here, and a bunch of shampoos and travel size stuff there, and then a very sad Stephanie when she returns to anarchy.

This time I tackled our bathroom. I have done a good job of putting everything in these little bins. We each have our own bin, and then a few communal ones in our linen closet.

This time, I tackled the bins even further and imposed some more order by putting like items together in Ziploc bags and throwing out expired and useless meds (e.g., I had a bunch of sleeping pills and No-Doz I had taken to my trip to Italy over 5 years ago that fell into both of those categories, as neither worked and my jet lag was legendary).



First Aid Bin Before


After: Sigh, we had a loooot of extra stuff in there.
Extra Supply Bin of Mystery, including bug spray from when I was pregnant with Wee 'Burb.


Slightly more organized. Why did I keep the bug spray now that I think of it?
I also put all my travel size items and other things I don't use that often in separate bags and moved them to our larger linen closet in our downstairs bathroom, a very under-utilized space (because I'm too lazy to go all the way downstairs to get most things).

What is the hardest room in your house to organize? Does organizing stress you out, or do you find it therapeutic? How long does your organization usually stick around?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Planning Your Present

Recently posts from Motherese and Tenaciously Yours have gotten me thinking about time management and paper calendars.

Right now, I have three calendars. We have a family one, a wall calendar with important appointments and social events. Then I have a calendar on my phone that I sync with my work Outlook. And most recently, I moved to a paper planner-style calendar.

I've always adored daily planners. Really, I've just adored the act of planning, of imposing my organization on life. The idea that a post-it can mean the difference between my mortgage being paid and getting a rather unfriendly second notice.

I need to see my life in living color.

So I went through Amazon and got overwhelmed. Like Motherese, I am a tactile person. I need to see and feel something as intimate as a planner. So I decided instead to hit Office Max.

I immediately got overwhelmed. What did I want in a planner? What was I trying to accomplish? I knew I didn't need a full daily calendar because I wasn't going to plan life hourly. I still use Outlook for all of my work projects, a necessity. Most of my weekly hours are taken up with those meetings, and so there's no need for me to map that out.

But I wanted enough room to write my other appointments and notes, so a monthly calendar wouldn't do.

I narrowed it down to weekly planners, wire-bound because I like to lay it on my desk or coffee table when I'm working. And it's easier for me to write when it's perfectly flat.

Nobody was more shocked than what I came home with. It's sort of a running joke around these parts.

I picked The Day-Timer Mom Planner.

Yup, the Mom Planner.

I tried to avoid it. I did. I didn't want those calendars with color coded stickers identifying who is doing what. Honestly, Wee 'Burb's days are mostly as stable as mine. She's in daycare a good chunk of it. She's hardly filling a calendar full of Girl Scout meetings or anything at 21 months.

But this planner is simple. It's got enough room to write. It divides days into morning, noon, and night for better organization.

But my favorite part? The part that tickled my organizational fancy so deeply that I was able to look past the Mom moniker?

A MEAL PLANNER!

Okay, you can't see it that well, but on the top of the right page has space for meal planning.

I've gotten away from meal planning over the summer. It's just so damn hot, more often than not we do frozen meals on the stovetop or grill whatever we have laying around.

But imposing this level of organization was more than exciting for me. It inspired me to get back on the meal-planning bandwagon.

Also? For some reason this planner started in July! So I actually was paying for a calendar that wasn't half useless. Double score!

The official Daytimer site has the planners listed as $22 but I believe I payed about $15. Either way, it was worth it for me.

So spill it. How do you organize your life? Right now I color-code my calendar. Work deadlines (including freelance) are in blue with green highlighting, appointments (doctor, hair, etc) are in red, and fun social stuff is in purple with a pink highlighter. And it's already covered in post-it reminders. The only thing that makes me happier than color-coding is lots of post-its.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Top 5 Reasons Why L.A. is Overrated

I found Ameena at Fancy That Fancy This through Kat at Tenaciously Yours and I am so glad I did! I love finding someone who is honest: sometimes, ya kind of get sick of your husband and your kid. Do you love them? OF COURSE! But do you sometimes want to smack them until they stop whining? OF COURSE! The thing is, there's never a post where you don't think she's an awesome mom and wife. Her writing is captivating and funny, self-deprecating and humble. Start with this post on being overwhelmed whether at home or on vacation. Something tells me I am sitting here relating right now as I return from my trip.

Those of you who are familiar with my blog www.fancythatfancythis.com know that I hate Los Angeles with a passion. You probably also know that I escape at every opportunity. I even welcomed a visit to Stephanie's home state of Minnesota during the depths of winter this past January! But what you may not know is why I detest L.A., so when Stephanie called for guest posts tackling Top 5 lists, I realized this was the perfect chance for me to explain myself.

The Top 5 Reasons Why L.A. is Overrated

1. L.A. is hard on the self-esteem. Some days I'll actually make an effort with my hair and clothes, maybe even slap on some blush if I'm feeling particularly energetic, and I'll feel pretty good about myself. Until I walk out of the house and run into Jessica Alba and/or Jennifer Aniston and/or one of the many other gorgeous stars that inhabit L.A., at which point I'll feel like a fat, hideous, unattractive mess.

2. The traffic is horrific. Since 99% of my day is spent sitting in gridlock traffic trying to get somewhere, there is little to no time left to enjoy what few attractions (the beach, Disneyland) L.A. has to offer.

3. L.A. is hard on the skin. You are probably thinking, "Ameena, must you complain about everything? Just put on some lotion." Trust me when I say that even a trough of Curel can't repair the damage that the dry and smoggy L.A. weather causes. I've tried. My skin still looks like crap.

4. Everything is fake. From fake body parts to fake people...L.A. is full of it. Literally.

5. The weather is overrated. Yes, I realize I am likely the only person who complains about the mild L.A. weather. But spend one Santa Ana wind-driven, fire-filled October and/or November here and you'll want to hightail it out of here as well. I guarantee it.


The beaches here are gorgeous. If only it didn’t take hours to get to them.


I hate to be so negative so I'll end this guest post with the one major perk Los Angeles offers: LAX is the second busiest airport in the country which means that if I can maneuver my dry-skinned self through the horrendous traffic and the sea of fake people surrounding me, I can hop on a flight out of here at the drop of a hat.

So I guess L.A. isn't so bad after all...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm Baaaack!

Hard as it was, cutting myself off a bit from technology for two weeks was oddly liberating. For the first few nights, I didn't know what to do. I read a book. And caught up on my magazines. I actually talked to my husband. It was odd.

I just want to thank everyone who guest posted for me while I was gone, you'll be getting one more tomorrow too. I also want to thank those of you who came over here, commented, and even joined my site! I'm thrilled to have you all here.

There were a million great things about my vacation to Cape Cod. I had tons of amazing fresh food, I met Sparkling over at Lia Sophia Tomgirl (can I tell you, it's so awesome finding out that someone you think will be super cool and easy-going is actually that in real life?), and I had an amazing new drink called PainKiller that was just about the most magical thing I've ever tasted.

But one of the best parts? Really spending time with Wee 'Burb and getting to know her as the little person she's becoming at 21 months. I had no clue just how much she's learned at this new daycare.

So my parents have an outdoor shower and I decided to take her out and see what she thought. She had an absolute blast playing in the water, but she didn't want to climb all the way in. So I tried to figure out a game to play to get her to stick her head in the water and wash off the shampoo without squealing like a piggy off to the slaughter.



So I start randomly singing the hokey pokey, figuring I'll teach her.

Apparently I was a bit too late. My child, not even two, started turning her little white naked baby butt around, clapping when I said "that's what it's all about" and then screeching with pure delight as she dunked her head in the water.

She spent the rest of the weekend turning around and clapping and yelling "pokey" until someone sang the song.

She also knows how to count in both English and Spanish, is proficient in "if you're happy and you know it" and is learning her colors.

How is it possible to fall more in love with this kid every day?


Friday, August 26, 2011

Top 5 Seriously Random Closet Finds

So, Ryan over at The Woven Moments is the only person who responded to my post about period polish saying she would TOTALLY wear something with Menstruation in the title on her fingertips. Is it weird I liked her more after that? I relate to most of her posts, but this post about the terrible twos starting much earlier had me nodding the whole time. Go check her out for some TRUTH.
I was recently (inexplicably) motivated to clean out my toddler’s closet.

Wait, wait. Before you roll your eyes and wonder why the hell Steph let me guest post, let me explain.

Before my daughter (blog name Pumpkin) was born, this room was an office-slash-guest bedroom-slash-place-to-throw-stuff-where-no one-would-see-it.

You’ve got one of those, right?

When Pumpkin was born we transformed the room into a nursery. The room got painted, furnished, and decorated. The closet got ignored.

And now, almost two years later, that closet was calling to me. Beckoning me. I spent hours going through boxes, bags, and piles.

And now I give you, my top 5 favorite random closet finds.


#5. CD BINDER SHEETS

WTH?????














We made the digital music switch about five years ago. But in this closet, I found enough CDs, CD binders (remember 3-ring binders? Yeah, me neither.), and CD binder sheets to make 19-year-old-me cackle in Eve-6-and-Third-Eye-Blind delight.

I wracked my brain for a new use for these CD binder sheets. Ironic coasters? Waterproof toddler mattress pad?

Destination: Donate Pile. May they make some archaic music lover very happy.


#4. EMPTY DAY PLANNERS AND JOURNALS

Think of the tasks left undone! The appointments never scheduled! Tragic, really.















This is a perfect example of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. My darling husband (B) is a brilliant problem-solver type who struggles with organization. And writing things down. And remembering to do things because he hasn’t written them down.

So here I come, Miss I-Can-Totally-Fix-You-By-Teaching-You-To-Be-More-Like-Me, and buy him a day-planner. Which he promptly throws away when I’m not looking loses.

So I buy him another.

And another.

Changing tactics, I bought him a journal. So he could write about his FEEEEELINGS about being disorganized. (I realize I need help.)

Eventually, I decided to stop badgering him and just accept the lack of organization. He has a whole room in the house that he can trash enjoy. It has doors that close and lock when anyone (ANYONE) comes over.

So it’s no surprise that I found the unused day planners when I cleaned out the closet. They are about as useful to my husband as the CD binder sheets are to me.

Destination: Trash Pile (outdated planners) and Donate Pile (sad, empty journal)


#3. AN OLD LOVE LETTER

Oh! The cheesiness of young love!





















Most love letters are, well, LETTERS. Leave it to me to create a handmade valentine, complete with glitter.

Shut up. I was an elementary school teacher. I was 22. I was in love.

Destination: Memory Box. Because my kids will definitely want to make fun of me for this someday. And let’s be honest, I deserve it.

#2. TOBACCOLESS CIGARETTES

Box of Illegal-Smelling Awesomeness

























Remember smoking? I do. Fondly.

When I first quit smoking, I faced a seriously uphill battle of cravings for nicotine. The gum never appealed to me; I wanted to smoke. A friend recommended the nicotine-free cigarettes.

I immediately ordered a carton.

The problem? Well, when you pull a big bright green box out of your pocket that has the words “Ecstacy” written on it, you tend to get some questions.

But the sideways glances really start when you light up and everything starts to smell like pot.

I found no fewer than six packs of these babies in the closet that day. Sigh.

Destination: Trash Pile but only after seriously considering smoking one out back, then reconsidering because I live next door to a cop.


#1. MY HUSBAND, THE (NEARLY) FAMOUS ACTOR

Hands down the best part of cleaning out this closet was finding the old pictures. And with that, I introduce you to my husband, B. The Scottish stone mason.

I'm completely overwhelmed by caption possibilities here.

























I wish I could have a caption contest for this picture. My entries would be:

“I take my re-enactments very seriously.”


“Stop pretending you don’t love these bloomers.”


“This is me sniffing the air of my own awesomeness.”

The truth of this picture is pretty great. B was an extra in HBO’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning mini-series, John Adams. It was filmed near our home in 2007.

B got to rub elbows with Laura Linney (swoon) and even got to be in a scene with Paul Giamatti. You can view that scene here…but you totally can’t see can baaaaarrrrreeeeely see B.

Destination: Memory Box. Because we are still waiting for HBO to send B his little gold statue. Any day now....

This is Stephanie and I am totally initiating a Caption Contest. I don't know what the prize will be, but I really am dying to see what people write.