Saturday, July 21, 2012

Battle on Brentwood.

It's quiet now, but don't let that fool you. A battle has been waged all day here. You can see the casualties all around: the kitchen looks like a small animal has been slaughtered, the hamper in the laundry room has been ransacked, a haphazardly parked stroller blocks your only exit, and the dogs are hiding in the corner.

The battle lines were drawn early today. 5:30 a.m., to be exact. "Dah" is out of town and we're just at the end of new teeth coming in. That's just enough change to create a ripe environment for battle.

After breakfast and a lot of coffee for me, we headed outside where the dogs were the first victims. First they were chased by high-pitched squealing and giggling. Then when they succumbed to their fatigue and probably ringing ears, they were mounted like horses and treated to more squealing.

Once the Dog Conqueror grew tired of her victims, she headed inside, demanding to be fed. But the meal prepared for her was not suitable to eat and apparently only suitable for tucking away in the pocket of her bib.

A trip to the store was uneventful. I think she was simply planning what her next strategic move would be. "Should I scream as loud as I can on Aisle 10 or wait until we are in the car?"

The battle resumed when we got home. This time, she demanded a snack..."cheese". I hand over a cheese stick, turn my back to get her a drink, and turn back to find her empty handed. I still haven't found that cheese stick.

We battle for nap time. She does not yield. Instead she drags out and unfolds her stroller, banging it into walls, furniture and my toes. Finally she parks it in front of the door. My guess is it's to prevent my escape.

Clean, folded clothes that were in the hamper were thrown all about the house. Dog food was pulled out of the container and into little bowls. I'm still not convinced she didn't eat some, even though she didn't have doggie breath.

Still no nap, and the battle rages on.

Dinner time rolls around and I think I am going to hit a home run with pasta, her favorite. Sure it's a bit messy to eat, but not a big deal. Unless, she decides to fling it everywhere except in her mouth.

We battle for her to eat a few bites. Actually we battled for just ONE bite. The majority wound up on the floor, the windows, the counter top 15 feet away, her ears, my hair.

And it was then that we both looked each other square in the eye and yelled, "aaaaaaggghhhhhhh!" simultaneously.

In some strange way, I guess that was how we called a truce for the day. A truce, because neither one of us is capable of surrendering. We are too much alike - too stubborn, too independent, to give up.

And now, after all the pasta sauce is cleaned up, and she's had her bath, and we've read Goodnight Moon, and we've sung "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", I watch her sleep and think I am the luckiest person ever to have this angel in my life.

I still haven't found that cheese stick, though.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Once again I have been chastised for not blogging on a regular basis.

My dear friend (and you know who you are), I. Am. Busy!

I am struggling with how to fit it all in. Work, family, school, exercise and sweet, bless-ed but elusive sleep. The more I try to "balance" all of them, the more I find I don't do any of them very well.  I just feel busy...and tired...without feeling like I'm really accomplishing anything.

And then a few days ago, several of my Facebook friends posted a link to an op ed piece from  The 'Busy' Trap.

Now, I will admit that I have been a hypocrite.  I have inwardly rolled my eyes at a few individuals who have boasted about how they are "soooo busy" with things that I perceive that they have brought on themselves...some project, some activity, some travel, some thing they voluntarily signed up for and then lament brag about how busy they are.

Oh wait...that's me.  (Insert blush of shame here).

Now I've become that person that is "so busy" with all this stuff I signed up for.  And it's not like I can un-sign up for many of these things without some serious consequences (like work...sleep).  So the challenge now seems to be how to re-balance these things so that the time I spend on them is quality over quantity.

So once committed, how does one become un-busy?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let's Dust This Off

This blog has gotten a bit dusty, hasn't it?

Like so many other people, my world has been incredibly busy, school, kiddo, travel, the usual.  I've had many thoughts, topics, and recent events lately to blog about, but just didn't have the time to write.

I still don't have a lot of time to pontificate or expound or regale you with tales of the mundane (I can, however, try to impress you with big words), but here are a few of the recent things that have crossed my mind lately...

I just spent a week on the Texas coast with my family.  We haven't taken a vacation in over 3 years.  I made a solemn vow to never let that happen again.

I tried hot vinyasa yoga and loved it!  Now I'm obsessed with finding a studio to practice more and think I found one.

I finished the C25K program.  It took me 12 weeks to complete an 8 week program...but still, I finished it.   I am still incredibly slow.

Being a patient in the healthcare system is scary.

I wasn't aware that parenting had become an extreme competitive sport.  ("Are You Mom Enough?"  Really???)

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, is hysterical and I love her book Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

I am about to start another semester of grad school, and I really have no idea why, other than I feel a need to finish my MPA degree.

I've taken a new project at work that I'd really like to write about, which pretty much goes against what I said I said I would never write about in a blog.  (For those of you who know me, yes...I could write some very entertaining and even educational stories that are work-related, but have made a conscious effort not to.  Oh the dilemma.)

Oh...and one last husband confessed that the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz have freaked him out since he first saw it as a kid and he's not a fan of my Flying Monkey Security guard.  I guess I need to find him a new home.

Happy summer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Power of B

Before my daughter was born, we were blessed with many friends who gave us precious gifts. Handmade blankets, personalized onesies, a Tiffany piggy bank, adorable stuffed animals. I bought my own share of soft blankets and teddy bears, anticipating that one day one these things would be It.

You know what It is. It is the one object a child latches on to for security. More than likely we all had our own It when we were wee little ones. I had a thing for stuffed animals.

My daughter, who rejected pacifiers and thumb sucking, has finally chosen her It.

It's name is actually B. B was a gift from someone who, while being very thoughtful in giving us this soft fluffy blanket, had no idea how important this little piece of cloth would become. B is vital to bedtime rituals. B has magical healing powers. And B makes my girl smile and giggle.

Therefore B wields a lot of power.

I may be a first-time mom, but I've been around enough to know that blankies, loveys, Its and Bs take a beating. They get dirty. They get torn. They get lost. That same B that makes my girl smile and giggle will elicit blood curdling cries and epic tantrums if it is nowhere to be found. So far we've been lucky that she doesn't insist on leaving the house with it...yet. And I'm not interested in tempting fate.

So I set out to find a backup B. I struck out at Babies R Us, Target, Kohl's, and then turned to the Internet. There's no tag on it so my initial search was "pink baby blanket with bear". Do you know how many freaking pink baby blankets with bears there are? I finally found a picture that matched B exactly and got the brand name and searched for a place to get one. I found one...exactly one, on eBay.

And with a couple of clicks I purchased this one B without a second thought, possibly risking identity theft or credit card fraud. Because that is the power of B.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bad News/Good News

So I have bad news and good news.

Bad news: I didn't lose 7 pounds by May 1st.
Good news: I did lose 4.6 pounds.

I can live with that. That falls within the recommended 1 pound per week weight loss.

I also have not had a cupcake since the end of March.

Based on what I learned this past month about what's working and not working for me, my goal for May is to lose 5 pounds by June 1st. Slow and steady wins the race.

And speaking of race...I have a C25K Program update coming soon. Leave it to me to take 12 weeks to complete an 8 week program.

But first, off to write a 10 page final exam paper.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Holy Keebler Elves! (or How I Finally Found a Use for Pinterest)

Do you have any idea what's lurking in your pantry?  Or am I the only one who is a disorganized mess?

My pantry (and actually several other kitchen cabinets) is a complete mess.  Today I set out to start organizing it.  And in the process...FINALLY FIGURED OUT THE USEFULNESS OF PINTEREST!

You may have caught on by now that I don't have the foggiest clue how to do most domestic skills.  And I have little patience for reading instructions.  So NOW I get Pinterest!  One skill I am good at is killing time on the internet.  I did a little search on that creepy Pinterest site and voila - I found a whole lot of ideas for taming my pantry in pictures.  Perfect!

I got a few things from The Container Store, and still waiting on a few to arrive since they were on backorder.  Now I've started the sorting process.

Holy Keebler Elves!  Their factory has either moved into my pantry, or we really like crackers.  In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, this household will survive possibly years on the amount of crackers found in my pantry today.  That, and soup...all varieties of soup.

I forgot to take pictures of the disaster area before I started anything, but you can still get the idea of what I mess I am.  If the finished project is suitable for sharing, I'll update a bit later.

In the meantime, am I the only one who is this big of a disaster or do some of you have surprises lurking in your pantry?

About 1/3 through sorting...

Soup, anyone?

We have go with the soup of course.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Living Room Skirmish

Our daycare provider is traveling over the Easter weekend, so I get to spend some extra time with Scarlett.  The first order of business was to take a trip to the park.  She loves the swings...

...and the slide

...and just generally being outside.

The next order of business was to clean house.  My parents are coming for a weekend visit and my living room looks like an army of Little People has conquered it.  Today I intend to take back my living room.

After breakfast, I started in on the kitchen, and moved my way into to the living room, which is littered with toys, and books, that a half-eaten cracker?

I gather things up.  I put toys in the box, half-eaten crackers in the trash.  I make pretty good progress and then I turn around....

And everything has been pulled back out.

Well played, Scarlett Avery...well played.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Good Start

With the help of tracking everything in My Fitness Pal and a well-planned grocery store trip, I was able to lose 4 pounds in a little less than a week.  I didn't exercise much, but got in what I could.  I'm still plugging away at C25K.

Weekends are always a challenge.  We're going to a hockey game tonight so I'm trying to plan around that.

I'm using the guidance on My Fitness Pal for daily calorie goals to lose 2 pounds per week.  That's about 1200 calories per day.  And it's extremely difficult.  If I exercise, I can have more calories to support what I burn.  I may wind up dropping back to aiming to lose 1 pound per week.  Hey, this girl likes to eat.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Closet Meltdown Syndrome

We celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary last Sunday.  12 difficult and glorious and awesome years together.  One day I will write a really fantastic post about my husband and me.  It's an epic story still in progress.

This, however, is not that post.

This is about Closet Meltdown Syndrome.  Unless you are Giselle or some other beautifully gifted person, you are familiar with Closet Meltdown Syndrome.

My latest CM happened the day of our anniversary.  We had plans to go to a nice dinner.  It's officially spring/summer here in central Texas - warm weather and sunny skies.

That means no more sweaters, jackets, and boots.

That means short-sleeves, tank tops, skirts, shorts and basically stuff that shows more skin.

That means a guaranteed CM.

A CM episode usually goes like this:

  • enter the closet to search for that perfect outfit for <insert name of event>
  • *perfect outfit means the one that makes you look 20 pounds thinner and 10 years younger
  • sigh deeply as you sort through the closet full of unacceptable clothes
  • try on outfits with great skepticism that it will work
  • throw unacceptable clothes in a pile
  • stomp and sulk and whine about whatever imperfection you think you have, but probably don't
  • swear that you are starting a new diet/exercise plan the very next day
And that is Closet Meltdown Syndrome.  

Stay Away From My Cupcakes!

For the past few weeks, we've been trying to teach Scarlett about sharing.  I say 'we' but really mean our daycare lady.  Scarlett is a little over a year old and is our only baby in the house.  (I have a 15 year-old stepdaughter who lives with her mom a few hours away).  

When she's at home, everything is hers.  There's no need to share her toys because there's no one to share them with.  At daycare, however, she still thinks all the toys are hers and she tries to take whatever she wants from someone else and doesn't want to share what she's playing with.  

At home we've started working on trading different toys with her and being firm when she tries to take something from one of us (like a cell phone, her favorite).  It's a work in progress and certainly a developmental stage that everyone goes through and I have no doubt that she will master the art of sharing.  She's only 1 for goodness sakes.

But I have to say...even as a grown-up, I totally get not wanting to share.  

I'm not talking about sharing wealth and knowledge and friendship and blah blah blah.

Oh no.  I'm much more petty than that.

I'm talking about cupcakes.

Cupcakes are individual cakes.  They are meant for one person.  They are not meant to be shared.  They are individuals with their own taste, texture and decoration.  It's not a sheet cake to be cut up and passed around to everyone.

I kinda feel that way about some other things in my life.  Some things are just mine.  My thoughts, my ideas, my creative's mine and I don't really want to share it with someone who wants to borrow or imitate them.  To me, that's a bit stalker-ish (is that word?)

So word to the wise...stay away from my cupcakes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dark & Twisty

My friend gently reminded me that it's been over a week since I've blogged. I just haven't had much to share lately.

I've been in a little bit of a funk. "Dark and twisty" is what I like to call it. Lots of stress at work, trying to get through school work, not feeling especially great and a few bouts of low self-esteem have piled up on me lately.

So yesterday, after a particularly low moment, I felt like I've just had enough of feeling like a sluggish, flabby downer. I haven't been eating well and I've really slacked off in the exercise department.

And it shows. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and so on. Those closest to me know that I am much easier to tolerate when I have a regular exercise and rest plan. Without it, let's just say I can be a bit unpleasant.

I am on My Fitness Pal now, and plan on tracking every sip and crumb that passes my lips, as well as my exercise. I even have a buddy there to go through this with me. My first goal is to lose at least 7 pounds by May 1st.

For the next few weeks, I'll share my progress and my meltdowns (I had an epic one yesterday).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Tonight my daughter turned her sippy cup upside down and poured milk all over her head and face.

And I was simply too tired to do anything about it. I just sat quietly staring at her, thinking about the spa where they charge $150 for basically the same thing and call it a facial or something. Here she was doing it for the cost of a disposable sippy cup and a few ounces of milk and dare I say, much happier than I would be after parting with $150 for an alleged relaxing experience.

I am tired. Bone tired. Mentally exhausted. Physically feeling 'meh'. And maybe a touch grumpy. Maybe.

And then...the sweet angel doesn't want to go to sleep. She wants to play crib gymnastics where she pops up like a little jack-in-the box and giggles. I truly felt myself channeling my own mom while saying, "Lay down and go to sleep. It's night-night time.". I totally expected to hear, "I mean it! Right now!" come out of my mouth.

Eventually, she stopped her pop up routine and went off to dreamland. I'm hoping to do the same and recharge my batteries.

Night-night. I mean it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays.  What other holiday do you get to celebrate with music and parades and Guinness without the stress of buying someone a gift?

This weekend I got to celebrate the day of green with some friends in downtown Austin...with about 30,000 other people.  SXSW is going strong, as is the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo.  It was crowded, but not in that dangerous mob riot kind of way.

Naturally, I did not take any pictures.  I always forget to take pictures.  Downtown was a sea of various shades of green and people were spilling into the streets from Fado, Dog & Duck, Gingerman and B.D. Riley's.  Irish bands, U2 cover bands, Irish dancers and pipes and drums were everywhere too.

Over our Guinness we all compared our Irish heritage.  All of us claimed to be some part Irish.  We talked about wishing to go visit Dublin and Dingle and Galway.  And we talked about where to celebrate St. Patrick's Day next year, and that's when I added something to my bucket list.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, New York City.

It is the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world.  Add it to my list of things I want to see and do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No really, I'm fine

Have you ever had one of those days when you just had to paste on a smile and power through it?  How about a week?  A month?

I'm having one of those weeks.  Bear with me while I indulge in some whining here.

It's spring break.  Yay, right?  Not so much.

My husband went to a conference.  I have a 20 page midterm assignment I received on Monday of spring break.  It's due in a week.  There are some really important (and stressful) decisions I have to make at work.  My allergies are making my head feel like it weighs a thousand pounds.

On their own, these are not big things.  But they all happened at the same time, and some of these things are huge.  It becomes a challenge to balance it all and maintain my sanity.  I am trying to divide my attention between my family, my work and my studies.  Somewhere in there I need to pay attention to myself too.

And how am I doing?  Well...I'm managing (insert smiley face here).  I'm not eating great, but I'm not burying my stress in a dozen cupcakes or a bottle of wine.  I'm not sleeping very well.  And I've only exercised twice this week.

BUT...I haven't had any meltdowns.  I've enjoyed my time with Scarlett.  I have some preliminary plans for the decisions to be made.  I've placed my school work at the bottom of the priority list because quite frankly, it just doesn't matter as much as the other things.

AND...some really cool things happened.  My husband came home early from the conference.  My colleagues at work have been extremely supportive.  I managed to carve out a few hours to work on my midterm and vent a little through writing.  (Welcome to my venting).  The Zyrtec seems to be working.

AND parents are coming this weekend to see Scarlett.  That means Bill and I can sneak away to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with friends.

By next Monday, my family will be back on a regular schedule.  At least some of the work stuff will be done.  The school assignment will be over.

The lesson this week has been one I seem to have over and over.  When things get tough, it takes some work but it can be managed.  These were some of my lessons

  • Prioritize who and what is important. 
  • Celebrate even the really little good things.  
  • Accept the bad/challenging things for what they are but don't wallow in them or let them define you.  
  • Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect (missing exercise, sleep, diet)
  • Never stop working towards a solution, but take a break no matter how brief it is.  
  • Appreciate the support from your friends and family.  
  • Realize that these are all temporary conditions and there are things to look forward to.
  • Zyrtec works better than Claritin for me
  • NEVER lose your sense of humor

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Super Powers

The following conversation may or may not have taken place.

Me: "I need a super power."

Bill: "Why do you need a super power?"

Me: "So I can get things done."

Bill: "Is there a 'get things done' super power?"

Me: "Maybe. I'm not sure if it's catalogued in the League of Super Heroes. But if it is, I want it."

Bill: "Uh huh."

Me: "It would be awesome if I could just stare at someone or something and stuff would happen...or stop happening. It depends on what I need."


Me: "You know, like staring at someone until they bring me coffee. Or staring at the annoying loud talker until they are quiet. Or staring at Scarlett so she will put whatever pointy-sharp-thing-she-shouldn't-have down."

Bill: "I see. Does this super power come with a costume?"

Me: "I don't know. For sure it comes with really cool glasses. So you can give a really good stare-down over the rim."

Bill: "Interesting."

Me: "You know what other super power I want?"

Bill: "I have no idea."

Me: "The power of sleep."

Bill: "That sounds like a boring super power."

Me: "Not really. I would be able to make you go to sleep whenever I wanted. More importantly, I would be able to go the sleep whenever I wanted. Especially on those insomnia nights. And Scarlett would never wake up before 7."

Bill: "Right."

Me: "You don't seem really supportive of my super powers."

Bill: "Well you're not exactly talking about Wonder Twin powers. Maybe you should just go to sleep and get your own stuff done."


Bill: "Why are you staring at me?"

Me: "I'm practicing."

I have a pretty hellacious few weeks coming straight at me. Bill is out of town, I've got midterms, and major projects at work. There are days when it would be handy to have a super power or two in my pocket. Like the power of cooperation, the power of being two places at once, the power of making laundry disappear.

Unfortunately, I have none of these super powers, so it's going to be all up to this mortal to get it done.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


This month I will celebrate the 6 month anniversary of my 40th birthday.  Hey, I don't get out much so just work with me here.  The actual event of turning 40 was mostly anti-climactic.  Nothing really extraordinary.  But since then, I've noticed a few weird things about being 40.

I have a 1-year old baby girl.  To be honest, I never thought I would have kids at all.  And when I was a child, I'm pretty sure I never considered how old I would be when I would become a mom, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't 40.  But that's not the weird part.  It turns out that there are a lot more women like me - working moms in their late 30s/early 40s with babies.  I read an article recently that said that the number of moms to newborns who were 35  and older increased by 5% between 1990 and 2008.  Weird but awesome.  It's a relief to have someone I can relate to and know that I won't be the 'old lady' at the soccer game.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to wear.  I grew up in a conservative family and was raised with this idea of 'age appropriate' clothing.  I don't have a clue what that means anymore!  I'm fairly confident that I shouldn't wear anything that has gigantic letters printed across my rear-end, but I'm not ready for polyester elastic-waist pants either.  (My grandmother had a fantastic collection of these in her 70s though.  Very impressive.)  I feel caught between what's fashionable and what doesn't make me look like I'm trying too hard.  So Banana Republic works, Hollister not so much.

I'm much more interested in sun screen.  That's something I should have been interested in 20 years ago instead of being tan.  But now that I'm more interested in not looking like a piece of luggage in 10 years, I've invested a lot more in sunscreen.

I'm in school again.  I really anticipated being done with formal education by now, but for some reason I feel compelled to finish a masters degree.  The kicker is that it won't necessarily provide any benefits to my career.  But I am an advocate for education and in a weird way I enjoy being a student.

I'm halfway through a career.  I spent my 20s and 30s working towards achievement and accomplishment.  In terms of the career ladder, there's not much higher I can go (at least that I'm interested in right now).  In 10 years I can retire and I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to spend that 10 (maybe a few more) years of my career.  And the best part is that if I'm ready in 10 years, I will retire when Scarlett is 11.  I will have had the opportunity to complete a career, spend more time at home with her, and still bring home a paycheck.  I don't think I would have been able to do that if I had kids earlier.  That 10 years may seem like a really long time, but think about where you were 10 years ago and where you are now.  It goes so fast.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself.  Whew...that was hard.  You would think that by writing a personal blog I wouldn't have many hang-ups about being open about personal stuff.  I keep a lot of my feelings private and don't discuss them with many people at all, but this is a weird/nice place to be.  After 39 years of insecurities and trying to prove myself, I'm feeling pretty good.  Do I still feel insecure about some things?  Absolutely.  Have I accomplished everything I set out to do?  Not at all.  But I think I'm at a place where I feel good about what I've accomplished so far, appreciate that I at least tried when I failed and recognized that there are just days I won't feel as great about 'me' as other days.  Weird...I know (especially if you know me).

Turns out 40 is not that big a deal.  It's just...weird.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simple But Good

Yesterday I posted a link to a TED talk about rewiring your brain to be more positive and more productive. Today I discovered 1000 Awesome Things.

It's a blog simply about the little everyday things that are awesome. Some of my favorites from the Top 1000:

#267 Car dancing
#369 Finally getting something free from that loyalty card
#405 When someone pronounces your name right on the first try.
#536 When you're being chased by zombies and suddenly find a hidden stash of guns and ammo.

There are so many good ones here. Others I would add:

When every piece of laundry is done and put away.
That moment right before you fall asleep when you're really tired.
Finding change in your desk drawer when you really want something from the vending machine.
When people make room for you at the table when you walk in.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Think Positive

I'm sort of addicted to  I've seen some pretty fascinating and inspiring stories from some of the talks there.  Today I watched one from Shawn Achor that challenged the idea that success creates happiness.  I think many of us understand at some level that being successful doesn't create happiness.  That's not a new concept, although we behave differently by always trying to achieve something to be satisfied.  Achor says that his research shows that people are more productive, more creative and learn better when positive than when stressed or negative.  Sales increase over 30%.  Doctors are 19% more efficient and accurate.

What I found most interesting were his recommendations for how to train your brain to become more positive.  He identifies 5 different things you can do for 21 consecutive days that can rewire your brain to be more positive, and therefore make you more productive, a better learner and less stressed.

  • 3 Gratitudes - write down 3 different things you are thankful for every day
  • Journaling - write about at least one positive thing that happened to you every day
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Random Acts of Kindness

Could you do any of these for 21 consecutive days?  Would it be worth it just to be more positive in your view of the world?  Do you think it would stick?

If you've got 12 minutes, here's the link to his talk...

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google+, and now Pinterest.  I use Facebook almost exclusively (not many of my friends are on Twitter).

I don't get Pinterest!  As best as I can tell, you basically roam the internet, see something shiny that makes you say, "ooohhh I like that" and you click on the picture to save it for yourself...and about 10 million other people.  It reminds me of getting the store catalogs when I was little and cutting out pictures of the stuff I wanted for Christmas.

Pinterest, however, is becoming the hot new social networking site.  There are 10.4 million users and that number is rapidly growing.  And 80% are women.  And the top interests are crafts, gifts, interior design and fashion.  Wait.  I'm starting to see why I don't get Pinterest.  Anyway...

I need a Pinterest for Dummies book.  (I'm only kidding...please don't order me the book from Amazon.  Yes, there really is one.)  I don't see how a bazillion random pictures is social networking.  There is status update, no Tweet...just pictures.

And then there are other things that annoy me about Pinterest.  I had to be 'invited' to set up an account, giving this impression of some sort of exclusive club.  But then there is no privacy, so any random person of the gazillion people on Pinterest can 'follow' your business.  Great.  One more place where stalkers can find me.

But because Pinterest is the hot new thing, and because 80% of my kind are into it, and because everyone in the world will be using it, I will plod along and try to embrace pinning.  If you are following me there, I apologize.  I have no idea what I am doing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lost & Found

"Where are my keys?"

I ask this question...a lot.  Usually while I am roaming room to room, looking under chairs, cushions, mail, whatever, trying to remember when and where I last saw them.  Know where I found them last time?

On the key hook.

How on earth did they wind up there?  Because I know I didn't put them there!

I am a neat-freak's worst nightmare.  I am a 'leave it where I land' person.  So my keys are often found on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counter, on my dresser, on the bathroom counter, on the coffee table, on my nightstand...wherever I stopped with them in my hand.  (Once I threw them in the trash...ok more than once).  And then, when it's time for me to go and I can't find them, I roam aimlessly shouting, "where are my keys?"

My husband, ever so helpful, bought one of those handy little things with hooks on it to hang in the hallway.  Presumably for my keys.  But I don't use it.  Ever.

He's the one who put them on the hook.  Apparently he thought I would look for them there when I started my "where are my keys?" song and dance.  Not so much.

I'm a right-brained person, which is really just a fancy excuse for why I leave my keys in random places, why I am absent-minded, and why I prefer Dave Grohl over Brad Paisley.

So next time, just leave my keys in that random place, dear, because I'm meant to search for them every day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Words to Live By

Last weekend I attended a conference and heard Dr. Red Duke speak.  Dr. Duke is in his mid-80s and has had a prolific career as a trauma surgeon.  He's quite a character and a true Texan.

In his talk last weekend, he offered a bit of advice to everyone, and it's worth sharing at least a summary of what he said.

Do something nice for someone every day.
Read an hour a day of something.
It's never too late to start stretching.
Admit when you're wrong.
Always read the directions.  
Always ask for directions when you're lost.
Using simple words like "please" and "thank you" will serve you well.
Pay attention to everyone who works around you.
Touch old people more often because they don't get enough human touch.
Don't be afraid to show your tears.
Say your prayers.
Laugh.  And if you think you don't have anything to laugh about, look in the mirror.


Oh my goodness!  It's been a week since I've underwhelmed a very small audience with nothing of importance!

Work.  School.  Family.  Conference.  My real life has been a bit busy, but never fear!  I will be back soon with more useless information very soon!  Titles may or may not include:

What You Need to Know About Me In the Event of a Zombie Invasion
Words to Live By
You Thought I Was Kidding
Apparently a Cupcake Is Not Considered Currency
Pinterest:  Website for  Sharing Ideas or Cleverly Disguised Stalking Tool?
Things I Would Like to Say to My Stalker

And for the handful of people paying attention, please feel free to submit your own title.  I'm sure I could come up with something to write for it.

See you soon....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Ode

Have I mentioned that I write poetry?  It's really awful poetry, but I write it.

Here's a sample of my 'work':

Ode to a Cupcake

Oh cupcake, how I love thee
A miniature cake, just for me
With chocolate or strawberry or vanilla on top
Once I taste your goodness, I just can’t stop.
When I am happy, and when I am sad
Having a cupcake is never bad
Until I get on the scale and much to my surprise
I see the cupcakes now live on my thighs.

Today I could have used a dozen or so cupcakes to drown my worries, but that's not really going to solve anything except my overwhelming craving for a cupcake.  I would have liked to go for a run instead, but the timer ran out on the day before I could get that done.

So I guess I broke even, maybe?  No cupcake, no run.

TOMORROW I will get one up on the day!  I go to a strength training class every Monday, Wednesday and 6:00 a.m.  It's early and I usually haven't had coffee yet, but I enjoy it (mostly when it's over, but still I enjoy it!). 

But enough of that...back to cupcakes...

Did you know that December 15th is National Cupcake Day?  (As if I needed a special day for a cupcake).  

And despite the title of my blog, I prefer my cupcakes fresh...from the cupcake bakery place, of course.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jenny from The Blog(gess)

That's a stuffed weasel.  Her name is Juanita.  She belongs to Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess who is one of the funniest women I've seen or read.  She's up there with Tina Fey for me and I heart Tina a lot.

Jenny, The Bloggess, is a very busy writer, with several other blogs and a new book coming out in April (I've already pre-ordered a copy).  Her posts are about her daily life, so it's that much funnier because it's true.   Check her out if you haven't before.  I recommend starting with this post from a year or so ago:  (When I made Bill read it he laughed then looked me straight in the eye and said,"Don't you dare go buy a 5 foot metal chicken.")

Secretly (or not so secretly) I wish I could make a living writing like her.

Back to Juanita...

I think she's kinda cool in a very creepy way.  The Bloggess shared this PG version of the picture so followers can make up their own caption/quote/meme.  What do you think she's saying/doing thinking?

Here's mine:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Drank What?

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."  Benjamin Franklin

I have done neither of those today...other than earning a "did-you-fall-and-bump-your-head?" look when Heather and I decided to try a liver-detox-cleanse cocktail.

Here's the recipe.  I'm pretty sure Paula Deen doesn't have it.

4 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ounce B-12 something or other
juice of half a lemon

It is truly disgusting, but promises to 'cleanse the liver' (I didn't know my liver needed cleaning products), 'increase energy', and 'melt away the pounds'.  Right.

But guess what?  I am soooo doing this...whatever this is.. because I want a clean liver!

By the way, we got the concoction from My Fit Foods.  I'm sick of frozen Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Weight Watchers for lunch at work.  And when I'm sick of them, that usually means I head to the nearest Chipotle  (I could consume gallons of their hot sauce).  Heather turned me on to My Fit Foods for healthy lunch meals that are way better than the frozen stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Awesome Valentine's Day

Good grief it has been busy in this house!  We had our Valentine's Day celebration Saturday night at one of my favorite places, Steiner Ranch Steakhouse.  And then I actually made cookies and chocolate candy things for Scarlett's daycare buddies.  Yep...rolled that cookie dough right out of the tube and into the oven.

The most stressful thing was getting Bill's V-Day card and gift.  I am awful at buying greeting cards. Birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day...I always get something lame. Usually I'm overwhelmed by the racks of paper and cartoon images, so I wind up picking the first card that doesn't have a picture of a kitten on it.

But not this year!  I found the perfect card for Bill...

He loved it, which I think says a whole lot about our relationship.

I also scored major points with this little guy:

I don't think he has a name yet, but he's very popular at work with Bill.

I would rate this as a successful Valentine's Day.  Next up is our anniversary and Bill's birthday in March.  I should start now, but I'm sure I will wait until the last minute and panic as usual.

In the meantime, here's another Valentine e-card that I think is just perfect.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

As Seen On TV

I broke some hearts the other day when I posted on my Facebook wall, "free pajama jeans to everyone who follows my blog."

I was kidding.  But apparently, several of my friends were disappointed that I was not giving away PajamaJeans.

I was relieved, however, to know that I am not the only one who secretly wants a pair of PajamaJeans.  Who doesn't want to wear something that "feels like sleepwear but looks too good to keep under the covers"?

And you know what?  There are a whole lot of other infomercial and 'as seen on TV' products that I have secretly wanted.

The Clapper

I could use this like right now.  The TV is on and the remote is way over there.

Sham Wow

I want to buy one just because the dude is so awesome.  Also, I would like to yell, "Get the Sham Wow!" whenever something was spilled.  And don't forget the free second set!  That's a lot of Sham Wow!


If you could see a picture of my hair in high school (late 80s), then you might not think the Bumpit is so bad.


You know, for just a bang trim.


Oh wait...I have one already!

There are so many other infomercials and 'as seen on TV' products that are classics.  Life Alert, anyone?  Sweatin' to the Oldies?  Tony Little's Gazelle?  PedEgg?  What are your favorites?

I really think that some day I'm going to have a Christmas party gift-exchange.  The rule will be that the gifts have to be something from an 'as seen on TV' commercial.  Put me down for an all edges brownie pan!

So...what products have you ordered late at night after watching the infomercial or bad commercial?  Did it work?

Friday, February 10, 2012

And That's Why I Should Have Taken Home Ec

Me:  "I burned up dinner. In a crockpot."

Heather:  "How did you manage to do that?"

Me:  "Exactly."

Heather:  "Wow. That takes real talent."

It's true. I threw some pork chops, seasoning and soup in the crockpot before I left for work. When I got home, it was a dry, charred, stinky mess.

It occurred to me around 3 in the afternoon that I might have set the pot on the high setting instead of low. I was in a hurry to get out of the house and didn't pay attention.

When I finally talked to Bill around 5:30, he asked the standard "what's for dinner" question.

"Weelll," I said. "That depends on what happened to the pork chops in the crockpot."

"What does that mean?"

"I may have left it on high and they may have burned up.".

"Ok then. I guess I'll go home and see if the house is on fire."

Thankfully there was no fire. But Bill was standing in the drive-way with the front door open.

"You may want to take a look at this. "

Ever so supportive, he left it up to me to decide if the burned, dried-up mess was edible for dinner. It wasn't.

So off to our local café for dinner.

"Look, babe. The special tonight is pork chops."

Seriously, not funny.  Ok...maybe it's funny.

I would like to say that this was a rare mishap for me in the kitchen, but sadly it's not. It's not the first time I've burned up something in the crockpot. Other times I've forgotten to turn the damn thing on and had a pot of room temperature raw food at the end of the day. Bill cringes any time I decide to cook or bake because I create the biggest disaster in the kitchen.

And I have always been this way.  I was never interested in the kitchen as a kid, and never took Home Economics in school.  Now I feel this obligation to at least try to cook something every once in a while, but I'm really not very good at it, and I'm okay with that.

From time to time I think I might want to take a cooking class, but the reality is that being Julia Childs or Rachel Ray just isn't me.  I'm messy.  I don't know my way around my kitchen very well.  One time I actually looked up how to hard boil an egg.  And I'm busy.  The last thing I want to do is spend my time in the kitchen.  Cooking is just not my thing.

Some day I may take that cooking class, just for the experience, but I doubt that it will change who I am.  I will still put the crockpot on the wrong setting, burn grilled cheese, add the wrong spice or ingredient  (I once added lemon extract instead of vanilla to a brownie mix).  The downside is that I probably won't be able to teach Scarlett much about cooking.  But maybe that's something we can learn together if she takes that home ec class I should have taken in school.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Flying Monkey Security

Bill:  "That is the ugliest monkey I've ever seen."

Me:  "Leave the monkey alone.  He's part of our security system."

Bill:  "Why do we need a security system?"

Me:  "Because you said that burglars were on the loose!"

He shakes his head and laughs because clearly he thinks I'm nuts.  But seriously, he's the one who called earlier to "check on things" since there had been another home invasion near us.  Two guys busted into a house, tazed and tied up the homeowners, and left with some stuff.  None of those things are on my Bucket List.

Hence my flying monkey security guard, strategically placed in the hallway in front of the door.

I'm hoping that he will distract any burglar long enough for me to get to the shotgun, or at least to something I can throw at them.  Like one of Scarlett's Weebles.  (Yes, I honestly believe that a burglar will stop to read a note I left him.  How can you ignore that monkey?)

And honestly, how can Bill say that's the ugliest monkey he's ever seen?  I think he's kind of cute.  Now he needs a name.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Never Talk to Strangers.

The answer should have been "No."

The question was, "Can I join you for a few minutes?"

Not wanting to be rude, I said, "Sure!"

And so began a 15 minute conversation with an intoxicated man while waiting for lunch.

His questions were simple.

"Where do you work? Why do you do that kind of work? What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen?"

And repetitive.

(Takes a swig of beer) "Where do you work? Why do you do that kind of work? What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen?"

After the third time of this series of questions, it was clear that he was either not able to process our answers or was looking for a more entertaining answer.

So after the third "what's the weirdest thing you've ever seen" question, Heather says,

"Pineapple on pizza."

And then our food arrived and we said our goodbyes to our new friend who was clearly confused by pineapple on pizza and wandered away.

And that's why you should never talk to strangers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Books

I read every night to Scarlett before she goes to bed.  I love that time we spend together.  Right now we're really into Sandra Boynton books - But Not the Hippopotamus, The Going to Bed Book, Horns to Toes and In Between.  We also have a little Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and a bit of Dr. Seuss (what was that man smoking?), and of course Goodnight Moon.

These books don't make much sense to her now (or to me sometimes..seriously Dr. Seuss!), but I'm hoping they are the beginning of a love for reading.  I started thinking my favorite books as kid and which ones I can't wait for her to read as she grows up.

The Story of Ferdinand
Where the Wild Things Are
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Alexander and the Awful, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Peter Pan
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Charlotte's Web
The Boxcar Children
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
James and the Giant Peach
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
A Wrinkle In Time
Black Beauty
Nancy Drew
Little Women
The Black Stallion
To Kill a Mockingbird

By the time she's old enough to read these books, there may be a whole new list of 'classics'.  She will probably even think that Miss Nancy Drew is lame or not really appreciate the history of Little Women.  Nevertheless, I will have these and many more books on the shelf...I mean downloaded on some sort of device.. for her to read.  What else should I add to the list?

The Night Circus

When was the last time you read a book that you just couldn't put down?  Could you tell me what it was? Because The Night Circus was not that book for me.

The premise sounded great - two magicians forced into a duel but wind up falling in love.  David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter series, is rumored to have picked this up for a big screen adaptation.  The story is beautifully told - lots of imagery.  The story is intriguing in the beginning, but about halfway through, the story felt like it was wandering aimlessly.  And it just kept wandering.

I love to read and often finish a book in a couple of days.  It took much longer to get through this one, but I can't stop reading a book, no matter how boring it is or how much I don't like it.  I have to know how all the stories end...even the bad ones!

Now that I'm done with this book, I can get back to what I've been avoiding - a textbook called American Urban Politics in a Global Age.  I'll spare you the review...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fun with Scissors

"I want to make a Valentine-heart-wreathy-craft thingy."  Heather blinks at me then says, "Um...ok."  I'm not surprised she's a bit suspicious.  Because (and I may have mentioned this before)....

I.  Don't.  Craft.

But, lots of things I didn't do before have changed over the past year or two, so why not give some sort of crafty decoration thing a try.

Once I convince Heather that I am, in fact, serious about doing this, she is all on board.

Heather:  "I'm going to get supplies!"

Me:  "How much do money do you need?"

Heather:  "Oh no...This one's on me.  It will be worth it just to watch."

As usual, any endeavor that the two of us embark on is rarely simple.  The first update from Heather comes by text message.

"Bad news.  Styrofoam heart wreath is on backorder."

I blame Pinterest for this rush on styrofoam heart-shaped wreaths since that's where I found this crafty idea thing.

But Heather is not discouraged from making my dreams of crafting come true.  After a few phone calls, heart-shaped styrofoam wreaths are found.  I pick that up, along with some red felt and straight pins from her.

"Use a soup can to make your circles on the felt to cut out," she says.  I nod my head like I have a clue.

After decorating my Valentine's tree on Saturday, I decide that Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect time to start my brand new crafting project.

For point of reference, here is what it's supposed to look like, and a link to the instructions in case you want to do your own...

With coffee in hand, I gather up the supplies from Heather.

Then I remember the "use a soup can" tip and already I'm confused, so I text Heather.

Me:  "What kind of soup am I supposed to use for the wreath?"

Heather:  "Any flavor will do of a regular can, not a big can."

Me:  "So regular not chunky?  What about a vegetable can?"

Heather:  "Any CAN will do!"

This is a relief.  I've made queso to snack on for the game so the "which can" dilemma is solved.

As Bill snores in his recliner and my daughter tries to get into the dog food for a snack, I begin cutting circles...and more circles...and more circles.  Finally I think I have pretty good amount of circles to start folding and pinning to the wreath.

Yes, that is my coffee getting cold.

I'm about half-way through when Heather sends another text:

"Are you cutting circles or still trying to decide which can to use?"

I ignore her.

After pinning circles all around the styrofoam wreath, I take a picture and send it to Heather for approval.

"It's not done yet.  You have to fill it all in...all the way around so now white shows."

Deep sigh.

More pinning.  And then...voila!

Silly little thing took 3 hours to do and for a non-crafter, I would say it was easy to do.  I'm happy to report that no one was injured, and my daughter did not eat dog food for a snack.

Maybe I will find a St. Patrick's Day craft for next month....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Sitter

This evening we attended an awards banquet for my husband's department and had to hire a babysitter.  We don't have any family near-by for these events, but our daycare provider has two college-age daughters who are wonderful.  Scarlett loves them and so do I.  At the banquet, a few of us talked about hiring babysitters, what the going rate for them is, how old is old enough to babysit, and a little bit about our own babysitting experiences.

I remember very little about having a babysitter when I was little.  What I do remember is a couple of high school students that occasionally babysat while my parents went out for an evening.  My dad was a high school band director and we lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone.  I vaguely remember busting one of them on the couch with her boyfriend when I snuck out of bed into the living room.

I didn't babysit for other people very much when I was in high school.  My only brother was born when I was 15.  After spending a lot of time babysitting him, I wasn't really interested in babysitting other kids.

I only have a few distinct memories of babysitting.  The first was the very first time I took care of someone else's kids for the evening.  I showed up, fed them pizza, put them to bed, and then I watched TV.  When their parents came home and asked, "How much do we owe you?"  I panicked and said, "Um...well...nothing," and bolted out the door.  It was obvious very early that I would not be an entrepreneur.

The other memories I have are of taking care of my brother.  On one occasion, when he was just a toddler, I stepped outside the front door to get something out of my car.  When I got back to the front door, he had locked the glass door...and was laughing at me.  On another occasion, a cake my mom made for his birthday was on the counter, and while I was in the bathroom, he climbed up and grabbed 2 fistfuls of cake and shoved them in his mouth.

When we got home this evening, the babysitter was on the couch (alone, thank goodness) and not locked out in the front yard.  The baby was asleep and there wasn't any sign of a destroyed cake.  Money was handed over to the sitter (because she didn't freak out and knew how much her time was worth).

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Most Awesome Holiday Tree

Christmas 2011.  We had some problems with our old Christmas tree.  One night Bill said he was going to Lowe's for something or other, so I said, "Hey, while you're there, see if they have a slim pre-lit tree to replace our other one."  He nodded his head and off he went.

About an hour later, he returns.  With a tree.  It is neither slim nor pre-lit, but apparently it was "on sale."  Right on.  I put the decorations on it, presents under it.  Christmas was celebrated and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  After the first of the year, it's time to put all of the Christmas gear away.  I pack away all of my Santas, all of my stockings (don't ask me how many we have), and all of the tree decorations.  Then...

Me:  "Ok, honey.  Can you take the tree down and put it away?"

Bill:  Awkward silence.  Then, "I don't have anything to put it away in."

Me:  "Where's the box?"

Bill:  "There is no box.  It was on sale.  I took it straight off the display and put in in the back of my truck."

Me:  "When I asked you to 'look' for a tree, did you just panic and buy whatever they had?"

Bill:  "Pretty much...yeah."

I have this habit of making Bill feel like he has to bring something home when I tell him to go look for something.  I'm sure that has something to do with the 'hunter-gatherer' something or other.  Anyway...

So we have this clearance Christmas tree with no storage box.  Not a problem.  I'll just go get a Christmas tree storage bag or box.

That was January.  It's now February and this is still in my living room.

Yes, that is our Christmas tree.  Have you read my earlier posts about how easily distracted and lazy I am?

We still don't have anything to store the thing in, but I thought, "Why even take it down?  Why does it have to be a Christmas tree?  Why can't it be a Holiday tree?"

And with that I was off to the crafty store, and for the same cost as a tree storage bag, I purchased decorations and now we have this:

Isn't it awesome?  It needs a tree topper.  And probably some lights.  But now it's my Holiday tree.  For now it's a Valentine's tree.  Next month it will be a St. Patrick's tree.  Then Easter, and so on.  Before you know it, it will be Christmas again and my tree will already be up!

Commuting Dos and Dont's

I have a 30 - 45 minute drive to work every weekday. Sometimes it's longer if there's a drop or 2 of rain. As we inch along, I'm sure we look like a mindless herd of drones heading to our separate destinations full of email and meetings and projects.

That 30 minutes in the car can set the tone for the whole day.  Occasionally, something happens that just really irks me.  I wish I could give everyone a list of Dos and Don'ts for Commuting.  In addition to not picking your nose AND THEN INSPECTING YOUR FIND (ew gross), it would include these gems.

Do crank up that classic rock station on your satellite radio. I enjoy watching you make that silly face while belting out "More Than A Feeling" in your Toyota. And who knows, we may be moving slow enough that blasting Journey out of your sun roof may inspire a flash mob on the freeway.

Don't turn up your sub-woofer thingy blasting that "thump thump thump" to everyone around you. We all most likely have a headache already and don't need any angry rap or metal music to make it worse.

Do use your blinkers.  Use your blinkers, people!  At least give us some warning before you cut someone off.

Don't leave your blinkers on for miles.  And miles.  I am one of those people that will let you in my lane if you signal, so if you leave your blinker on, it really annoys me.  Do you need over?  Did you forget the blinker is on?  What's going on?

Do give me a courtesy wave (with all of your fingers, thank you) when I let you in.  It's just good manners and for some reason I am annoyed when people don't do this.

Don't put your makeup on while your driving.  I WILL laugh at you when you smear it across your face trying to avoid the car that suddenly stopped in front of you.

Do you use your pay attention to traffic around you.  It's amazing the accidents you can avoid just by PAYING ATTENTION!

Don't tailgate.  This will just guarantee that I will slow down even more.

And finally, Do smile and wave at all your fellow commuters.  They will think you are crazy, but it will almost guarantee you a wide berth all the way to your destination and a much better day.

This is a good start.  Maybe Monday I'll have a few additions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How Expensive Is The Cleaning Lady?

I bought The Cleaning Lady a new washer and dryer this weekend.  No really.  Here's a picture of her thank you note.

I love The Cleaning Lady.  (Although I doubt she reciprocates the feeling.  If you saw my house on the day she's supposed to come, you would understand).  I love that the day The Cleaning Lady is scheduled to come, I leave my house in complete disarray, and come home to a fresh place.  Dishes are done, floors and countertops are clean, beds are made, and laundry folded.  And I didn't have to lift a finger to do it.  (Other than to write the check).

In an earlier post, I said that outsourcing your domestic duties every once in a while is worth it, but can be tricky to keep from getting expensive.  How expensive?  Brand new front-load washer and dryer set expensive!

See, The Cleaning Lady left a very lovely thank you note for the new stuff.  But you should have seen the previous notes.

"Sorry I didn't get your undies finished.  Your dryer doesn't seem to be working well."

"Wasn't able to get laundry done.  Your washer's spinner doesn't spin very well."

(I'm paraphrasing...mostly).

Please notice that I am more distressed about my faulty laundry equipment that prevents someone else from doing my laundry than I am about a stranger going through my underwear.  Yep.

If you can't tell already, I am inherently lazy and have little patience.  I'm sure that will become more apparent as this blog continues.  That being said, there are some things I hate buying:  furniture, vehicles, appliances, houses.  The thought of going through the process of haggling the purchase of these things gives me anxiety.  That's probably why I had my old washer and dryer for almost 20 years.  And quite frankly, I think they worked just fine.

Sure they had their quirks.  Occasionally you had to kick the washer to get it to spin.  You had to know the right angle to hold the dryer door to get it to latch.  And it might take an extra cycle to get things dry, but still...they worked!

But as The Cleaning Lady visits progressed, it became clear that we needed to a new washer and dryer to keep her happy.  So, I sent my husband to pick a set out.  (You caught the part earlier where I said I hate buying new appliances, right?)  I agreed with his choice, and last night it was delivered.

Man...have these things changed in the past 20 years!  The delivery guy was setting the whole thing up in the laundry room and I kept wondering why he wasn't answering his cell phone.  Turns out it was the dryer making that tinkling noise.  These things have buttons and bells and whistles and settings I've never heard of.  My old set basically had "on" and "off".

So now I have a new washer and dryer.  The Cleaning Lady says they work great.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday-Night Blues

I don't have a case of the Mondays.  I have a case of the Sunday Nights.  Sunday nights are always a let-down of sorts.  I spent the weekend relaxing, enjoying early morning breakfast with the kiddo, lounging around in my pajamas drinking coffee, going to the park to play on the swings.

Then blammo.  It's Sunday evening and I'm back in work mode.  I've caught up on my email, reviewed my calendar and made a preliminary to-do list to tackle starting tomorrow.  Strangely enough, Monday will be just fine.  It's the busiest day of the week for me, but it will be fine.

On Sunday night though, I worry about what all I need to get done during the week.  I worry about day care drop-off and pick-up coordination.  I worry about having all the laundry done.  I worry about having enough milk to make it through the week.  This Sunday night anxiety lasts just a few hours.  Just until I feel like I'm ready to handle whatever the week throws my way.  I don't dread going to work.  In fact, I really like my work and the people I work with.  It's the anxiety of transitioning from personal life to work life that ramps me up before I wind down.

I did a little Googling about "Sunday-night blues" and found that it's quite common, and has been ever since society moved to a 5-day workweek.  The solutions?  Get organized, plan something fun, find a new job.  Really?  Find a new job?  Doesn't that seem a little extreme?  Won't the next job have some sort of weekend days off and a Monday?  I think I will just stick with recognizing Sunday night for what it is...a transition from the relaxing personal life to the ramped-up working life.  The nice thing is, there's always the happiness of Thursday night.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where to Go?

I love to travel, but take very few vacations.  This is something I would like to change.  Did you know that American workers leave an average of 2 days of unused vacation totaling around $34.3 billion on the table each year?  The economy is shouldering the blame as most people are opting to stay home and save money in these uncertain times.

I'm not unlike most Americans.  I have reached the max limit of how much vacation I can accrue at work. We haven't taken a vacation since 2009 when we went to Vegas for a few days.  The last big vacation was a trip to Ireland in 2008.

I'm itching to take real vacation this year.  I loved Ireland and would love to go back.  I also want to visit Italy, Germany, Prague, Moscow, New Zealand...the list goes on.  While I am planning this trip, I've searched for pictures of the places I'd like to visit.  National Geographic always has beautiful images that inspire my travel longings.  Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Irish countryside was so peaceful.
I'll admit it...Under the Tuscan Sun sparked my interest to make a trip to Tuscany.  Isn't it beautiful?
Oktoberfest in Munich?  Why not?!
History, culture and color in Moscow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

The past few months have been a bit challenging in the 'things that go smoothly' department. We started in October with a sinus infection that would not go away for sweet baby Scarlett, followed by lots of traveling during the holidays, followed by an evil stomach bug that decimated everyone in this house and today, my poor husband wound up in the ED with horrible abdominal pain.

Things are not going smoothly.

So how does one 'keep calm and carry on,' or least 'maintain and stay sane?'

1). Stay focused. I find it best not to let your mind wander off of the task at hand. For example, while cleaning up the projectile puke from your sick baby, don't daydream about getting a pedicure or a massage. You may wind up dropping everything and running away. Eventually you will come back, and the puke will still be there to clean up so it's best just to stick with it.

2). Get cable. Nothing will make you realize that it's really not that bad after watching any episode of "The Real Housewives of....," or "Teen Mom," or really any so-called reality TV show. Turns out my reality at its worst is far better than theirs.

3). Outsource any domestic chore possible. This can be a bit tricky because you don't want to drain the bank account, but honestly, having someone come in and literally do your dirty work at least once is worth it. Think of what you can do with that extra time! No don't think of all that other work that needs to be done. Think of something napping.

4). Perfect a slightly crazy facial expression. It really takes all the pressure off of trying maintain that 'I've got things all together' look, and it will most likely keep people who annoy you away. You get extra points for disheveled hair and dirty clothes.

5). Make sure you have an emergency stash of wine and chocolate handy. This is just a good guideline to follow for anything.

6). And finally...have a sense of humor. I'm not suggesting that laughter is the best medicine or makes everything better. Let's face it, there's nothing really funny about a screaming one year old who's sick or a trip to the ED with your husband who's in excruciating pain. But it does lend a different perspective to everything and makes them more bearable.

As I was thinking about this final and quite frankly most important point, I went to my old friend Google to search for some poetic quote about having a sense of humor. I found one by Bill Cosby who said, "You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humour in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”. I found the quote in the article below written a few years ago. I like what it had to say about the importance of humor.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Will Be A Runner v2012

So back to my previous post about my Bucket List....

This year I am going to conquer something that has always been my nemesis.  Running.  I am a wanna-be athlete.  I played sports in school, but I was no star.  I am card-carrying gym rat and love spinning classes and most recently, a group strength training class I signed up for.  But put me in a pair of running shoes and I am gasping for air doing a slow trot for 3 minutes.

This has always been especially frustrating.  A few years ago I was into road cycling and could ride up to 70 miles.  (I participated in a century ride, but had to quit half-way in due to a friend's emergency).  I have never been able to figure out why I could ride a bike for hours, but got winded during a slow jog around the block.  I think it's a mental block, since I have always hated running.

But this year, I'm busting through that block.  I have the shoes, Garmin gadget thingy, appropriate running gear and a training plan (C25K on my iPhone, although my trainer friend may have other ideas).  How can this not be a plan for success?

There will be more to follow on exactly how successful this plan is.  My goal is to participate in a 5K this year and run the whole thing.  Seems simple enough, right?

Meanwhile, this picture pretty much sums it up for me...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Bucket List

How much have you checked off your life's 'bucket list' lately?

It's the new year, time for resolutions, yadda, yadda, yadda.  This year, I thought I would revisit my bucket list.  And then I thought, " I even have a bucket list?"  Turns out, I can't remember ever sitting down and making a list of all the things I want to see and do before I kick the bucket.  

And just what exactly is a bucket list?  Is it simply a to-do list to check off?  Or is it a list of actions that somehow represent the person we want to be?

If I made a bucket list in my 20s, I might have been able to check a few things off.  Like getting married, having a child, career success, traveling to another country, and saving a life.  Now it's a bit different.  For what it's worth, here is my first draft of my Bucket List.

Travel:  NYC, Hawaii, Ireland (again), Italy, Germany, California wine country
Run a 5K
Write a book
Learn to speak Spanish
Take my daughter to the beach, Disney World, a Broadway show
Be financially independent
Volunteer more, watch TV less
Start a new hobby
Master folding a fitted sheet
Finish MPA degree
Fly first class

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Night Night, Sleep Tight

I will probably say this many more times, but I really have no idea what I'm doing parenting. I'm basically winging it, doing what feels right for Sweet Baby Scarlett and us. Recently we hit one of our first "now what do we do" problems....sleeping.

We've never really followed a strict schedule for anything really, just more of a guideline of when things should happen. But right before SBS turned one, sleeping (or lack of) became a problem. It started with a lengthy sinus infection. The only way she could breathe well and be comfortable was to be upright, so that meant sleeping on one of us while we sat in a recliner. Once the sinus infection cleared up, we had a series of family visits across the state we took that threw everything off. Then there was the stomach bug that hit all of us. Gradually, we had a baby who wouldn't sleep in her crib and fought going to bed tooth and nail.

I started looking up information on getting baby to sleep and found the usual suspects - Ferber, No Cry Sleep Solution, co-sleeping, etc. I hated the idea of 'Ferberizing' and we were not planning on co-sleeping. Then I found the Sleep Lady Shuffle.

All I can say is "wow". The Shuffle, while not a no-tears approach, really appealed to me. The approach is about how to coach your baby into being able to settle themselves and go to sleep. There may be some tears, but the parent can be right there with them, coaching them to sleep.

The first night was brutal. 30 minutes of standing up crying. But then she laid down on her own and went to sleep. The second night was only 15 minutes.

The third night, less than 5 minutes. The fourth night, no crying.

On the fifth night, we had a bath, and read stories. Then I picked her up, hugged her tight, kissed her on the forehead, laid her down in the crib and said, "Night night, sleep tight.". She looked up at me and smiled, said, "Nigh, nigh" and curled up with her blanket. I walked out of her room and didn't hear another peep until morning.

What's right for one family isn't necessarily right for every family, but if you are struggling with sleep issues, I recommend giving the the Sleep Lady Shuffle a try.  The author is Kim West, "The Sleep Lady" and the title of her book is "Good Night, Sleep Tight."  It starts with the basic foundations of sleep for everyone, then is broken down by age/milestones and has sections for special interests (multiples, twins, etc).  I was able to download it on my Kindle ap for iPad.

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