Friday, November 26, 2010
So here goes: the other favorite American holiday in November.
1. Black Friday is Never going to go away. It will just get earlier and earlier each year. I actually am boycotting stores that chose to open on Thanksgiving Day. Some think that's dumb, but hey. I am activating my rights as a consumer.
2. Christmas shopping this year will include Lots of groceries, since most of the gifts for the adults in our life will be homemade this year.
3. Holiday shopping makes me Happy at first, but eventually the day turns grumpy as I try to maintain a lighthearted, Christian composure amid the stolen parking spaces, long lines, and people grabbing the last size 5 Robeez just as my hand reaches out.
4. This year my Christmas list will include Well, I have told our families that our budget is very tight and to not go overboard, but I always put "spa services" on mine b/c we really can't afford them, but I really enjoy a massage and if someone wants to provide that for me, I will never decline! Also, anything that lets my husband and I enjoy each other: restaurant and entertainment gift cards, offers to babysit, etc. are on there. And an insulated travel coffee mug. I need to break the Starbucks addiction for good.
5. Bargain hunter, or full price shopper? Definitely a bargain hunter. I literally refused to buy cold medicine when I was sick and working last week because I didn't have my coupons with me.
6. The best and worst things about shopping is I love shopping, but the worst is spending money on a credit card and knowing that means we probably shouldn't be buying something. This year, we are breaking that cycle and only shopping with money we already have.
7. Online shopper or in-person shopper? Both. I enjoy a trip to the mall now and then (and Target weekly) but I also love being able to browse and compare prices without having to drive around town. And if I get free shipping and often don't pay sales taxes, what is to stop me?
PS, if you have an extra minute today, could you please vote for me on Picket Fence blogs? I would so appreciate that!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It doesn't matter what "it" is...just any extra little blessing that falls my way, I feel that I almost don't deserve it, with my snarkiness, profanity, selfishness, and complaining. But I know that someone up there thinks I am deserving, and is rewarding me.
Joining up with Working Mommy Wednesday today, I am beyond thankful for the last year.
For the people I have reached out to that have reciprocated in developing these wonderful internet communities where I don't have to feel like "the only one".
For the new things my beautiful, witty, silly child learns every day. He can tell the dog "OK" now when it's time for her to eat. He freely gives hugs and kisses and cries when he leaves his grandparents and shares his lovie with his friends at daycare. I cannot even explain how many ways I am thankful for that little 15 month old wonder. He fills our lives with laughter. Every day.
For my family, mom, dad, sister, a various group of in-laws that have never been anything but loving and supportive and make me know I am a part of their families. For my aunts and uncles and cousins that are more than just "see you at the 3 major holidays each year" kind of family.
For being employed, having health insurance, a house to live in, and two cars that work. (knock on wood).
For living in NC, a beautiful state where I can wear cropped pants and keep my windows open even in November.
For Dave Ramsey and his program to help us live debt free and save money for what we want to do instead of "have fun now, pay later". Once that light clicked on for me, there was no question on the goals we want to accomplish.
For the teachers at daycare who tell us almost daily that we have the most loving little boy they've ever known, and who care for him the same way I would.
For God answering my prayers, even when I don't want to know the answer.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Of course, these awards always come with a catch...this one being that I'm supposed to tell you 7 random facts about myself. Being that a blog is all about telling you about myself every day, it may be hard to find things that are interesting, but I will let y'all be the judge of that! I'm also supposed to nominate 13 people to pass along to, but with it being Thanksgiving week, I think I will skip nominations this time and just tell y'all about myself!
1) I used to say that I could live without the baby stage, and would be fine just adopting a 3 year old and taking the parenting from there. What did I know?
2) When we were little, I tortured my sister by telling her things like if she dropped a battery it would explode, or if she dropped anything down the central air vent our house would explode. I was not a very good big sister.
3) I have trouble with brevity. I tend to give people and overwhelming amount of info when I could just say/write one sentence.
4) I have a tattoo, I would say medium sized, on my back and want another one (really tiny) on the inside of my forearm or wrist but my husband says that would look like white trash, so I haven't worked up the courage to get a second one yet.
5) I introduced the man who introduced me to my husband to his wife. He was my best guy friend for a long time (we're still friends, of course, but 'couple' friends now) and we will always be grateful to each other for helping find a mate.
6) Growing up, even though I was 4 years older, my little sister was the bossy one and I was sensitive. It took us a long time to work through that. The only thing that explkains it is that I'm a Cancer and she's a Leo. If you believe in that stuff.
7) My birthday is July 7th. In college, I had a friend whose birthday was 7/7/77. I was jealous.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
First is very easy for Thanksgiving. I for one LOVE cranberry sauce and could not eat my Thanksgiving meal without it. No question. However, the canned stuff? Nasty. Is that even real cranberry or some type of gelatinous mass that tastes pretty much like the inside of a tin can? Fear not, making your own is not that difficult and may even convert a few non-cranberry-sauce eaters this year. Here goes:
1 bag of cranberries (found in the fruit/veggie section of the grocery store)
1 naval orange
1/2 or so cup of sugar, to taste
This is IT: rinse the cranberries, pick out the one or two duds that may be floating around, and dump them into a saucepan. Put the heat on about low-medium (a 4 if you are electric). Add sugar, and the juice and zest of the orange. Stir well. Then move on to another task, coming back to stir every 5-10 minutes or so until you have, well, the consistency of cranberry sauce. The berries "pop" and the sugar helps them form the "jelly" consistency. This will be nothing like the canned crap. Put into a container, let come to room temp, and store in fridge. It's best to make it one day ahead so it gets cool and the flavors meld. Will last in fridge about 3-4 days, in freezer a few weeks.
If you feel confident you can always add extra spices like nutmeg or ginger, but I actually prefer the plain cranberry-orange combo. My husband got fancy this year and made candied orange peels to put on top. We're food nerds, but in all honesty the hardest thing about this recipe is cleaning the sticky pot afterwards.
Okay, so I had planned on giving y'all the crazy delicious pumpkin pancake recipe that my husband raved was one of my best recently, but I can't find it online and now I must shuffle through all my random recipe papers at home to find it. Since I promised two, here is a link to my absolute favorite dessert, and this would not be any easier if you had 3 extra hands. It literally take 15 minutes or less to mix, and if you use one of those refrigerated Pillsbury crusts, it's virtually mess free! If you get tired of the fruit pies and love chocolate, you will love Chocolate Chess Pie. A Southern favorite. I could eat it every day!
If you like these and want to know what the pumpkin pancakes are all about, PLEASE click my Picket Fence linky. I am currently number 80 and would love to get on one of the first 2 pages again. I'll make a deal, if I get 10 votes today, I will post the pancake recipe tonight. I should let you know that I am a really, really, really good cook.
And modest to boot...
Monday, November 15, 2010
I don't care what people say about nitrates and ass and feet and whatever else may be included in those neat little tubes of salty-tastiness. Really, I've read Upton Sinclair. I know what happens in hot dog factories. I'm sure even today it's probably closer to what he described in 1906 than any of us care to admit. However, I love hot dogs. Yum.
Down here in near-eastern NC, where we like our barbecue with vinegar and collards (also with vinegar...we just really like vinegar), we like our hot dogs one way: mustard, chili, and onions (slaw is accepted but optional). Most people in the area I live in also prefer the ubiquitous "red" hot dog, which I can tolerate at an occasional softball field church gathering, but generally think is kind of gross. There is one rule when it comes to hot dogs in NC: DO NOT PUT KETCHUP ON A HOT DOG. EVER. (There are more than a few local grills in Raleigh that will not serve ketchup. One has a tiny bottle on a shelf behind the cash register that you can purchase for $99. I'm not even kidding, and neither is the Roast Grill.)
Another place with this lovely rule? Chicago, home of my second favorite hot dog: the Chicago Dog. I love a good Chicago Dog. The more crap you can throw onto a juicy, sizzling case of meat, the better. I never knew the joy of a "sport pepper" or weird fake-green relish until I had my first Chicago Dog, and I was hooked. And thanks to KLZ at Taming Insanity and Liz at a belle, a bean & a chicago dog, I am now shouting HOT DAWG!!!
Because my post about my husband and his vocabularity limitations not only earned me Nerd Mafia Made Man status, but they liked my word "pedantic" so much that they are using it as the next Word Up, Yo! word of the week.
You know what I deserve for all of this recognition? MORE RECOGNITION! If you agree, please click that little white picket fence linky. Pretty please? Oh, and join Word Up, Yo! this week. It's fun, y'all.
Almost as fun as eating a hot dog!
Friday, November 12, 2010
2. The best gift I've ever received was... my son. No question. I'm sorry if it's a cliche, but he is truly a gift from God and I never imagined just how much life would hcange in the most wonderful ways once he arrived. For those of you that are pregnant and hearing everyone's horror stories about life in the future: don't listen! Every sacrifice made is worth it.
3. A time that I was truly and genuinely surprised was... I think I will have to come back to this one. I'm really having trouble thinking of something. I don't know if I am just unflappable or what, but I cannot think of an answer!
4. I can't leave the house without... my head. Even though half the time I feel like I do. I always leave a few extra diapers and wipes in the car, because I am that mom you see out at a restaurant without a bib or sippy cup for my son, because I just forgot to pack it in the diaper bag!
5. My favorite day of the week... Friday. This has changed over time. I used to work in retail and couldn't count on weekends off. Now, Friday is the night I come home without pressure to get the nighttime "routine" going, because we can all stay up a little late and sleep in a little in the morning. Friday is time to relax with my husband and son.
6. Something that can always make me laugh is... my silly, ridiculous hubby. Especially when he makes up new words to a song. He can get me laughing so hard it hurts!
7. My perfect day would include... a long lazy breakfast at our favorite place, some time at the park on a 70 degree day with the dog and baby, and somewhere in there a 90 minute hot stone massage.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
For me, I am willing to admit that I probably got an easy baby. Especially when it comes to sleeping. He began sleeping 5-6 hour stretches right around 6 weeks and it steadily went longer from there. I can count on one hand the nights I have been up more than 4 times a night, and this is from a child who got nothing but breastmilk his first 4 or 5 months. Sure, there are regressions when he's sick or teething, but they only last a night or two and he's right back to normal.
Now, while I lucked out with this kid who likes to sleep as much as a teenager, I am also willing to say that some of that "luck" is because my husband and I worked so hard the first few months of our sons life. The first year, really. I don't have any great secrets or think I have the key to parenting: trust me, I've had my shares of parental FAIL. But this post is about doing it right and giving myself credit for that.
We never had to Ferberize or use Cry it Out, although we did set a rule once he hit a few months old that we would let him fuss for a few minutes to see if he would settle himself back down. I knew if he got to full-blown crying I could go rescue him and stick him on the boob, but we found that most of the time he made a few peeps and whimpers and then fell back asleep. Trust me, as a mom, it took my dear husband putting a hand on my arm many nights and saying "just let him go a few minutes and see what happens". And sometimes, it was me and my mom instinct telling him "I know that's a hungry cry...let me go!"
We kept the bedtime routine consistent, and introduce changes gradually and with little fanfare (such as the very popular teeth-brushing part of the evening's festivities). Over time, following our son's cues has given us a bedtime routine that works for everyone. Where we use to rock and hold and love, we now turn on the fan together and turn off the light. It's bittersweet, those last moments where I can smell his lingering baby smell as he's struggling to get away, reaching and looking towards his crib the way I look at my bed after a long day.
But it's certainly a happy moment when I close the door and know he will be just fine.
Monday, November 8, 2010
When it comes to math.
We always joke that when our children need homework help, he will be responsible for making sure our kids can do algebra and chemistry (okay, anything past the multiplication tables, essentially) and I can do the English thing with them. I'm pretty sure he hasn't read a whole book since maybe the tenth grade. I've seen him start a few non-fiction books, and by start I mean he gets about a half a page in before he looks up at me and says "explain again how this is supposed to be enjoyable?" He likes to pull me out of my book at the beach...I'm the type that could spent an entire vacation reading despite the 45 minutes or so it takes to eat each day. Drives him nuts.
Now, despite this hate-affair with the English language, hubby is quite impressive with his grammar and sentence structure. We have a game where he sends me emails of "people he knows" that have written something along the lines of:
Do not forget Apprceiation day on friday. We will be having hamburgers and there is a sign up sheet. Posted on the wall of the breakroom.
Thanks you, _______"
And this is actually better written than most of the emails that we deem laugh-worthy.
However, hubs has a slight failing when it comes to large words. Specifically, what they mean and how to use them. In the middle of a disagreement about my level of reality-TV obsession, we have had this conversation:
"You're eclectic," he sneers.
"Um, what do you mean?"
"Well, you're just very firm in what you want to watch and you don't really waver."
"I don't think you know what that word means."
"Sure I do."
"Well, you aren't really using it correctly, there," I sigh.
"Sure. It means you're weird for wanting to watch this crap."
"Not really. You might mean eccentric instead"
"Well, whatever. You're...pedantic."
That one, he may have gotten right without meaning to.
This post brought to you by Word Up, Yo!
Friday, November 5, 2010
As you can see, I am also linking up to my new favorite Friday blog hop, Fill in the Blank Friday over at the little things we do. So, let me roll up my sleeves and get ready to roll the dice.
1) My last haircut was... not so long ago, actually. About 6 weeks. I'm usually an every 6-monther, so this is a good thing. I changed office locations in May and I am 2.5 miles from the local mall and a decent Mitchell's. Lunch time pampering? Jackpot, baby!
2) My most daring hair moment was... when I took a gamble in my early twenties and let a new stylist cut off about 6 inches and dye me red. I mean, deep maroon luscious red. It was chin-length, wavy, layered, and RED. But if you can't take a hair gamble in your early twenties, when can you?
3) A hairstyle I'd never be brave enough to try is... the exotic, trendy, Bettie Page/Katy Perry long black bob with fringe bangs. With my pale skin and freckles, I would probably look like a pit boss' weird, nerdy assistant. The one that had to clean up after...you know.
4) I've always dreamt of being a (blonde, brunette, redhead, etc.)... deep chestnut brunette. As someone who has ranged from towheaded kid to dishwater blonde to mousy light brown to trendy caramel, I would be willing to play roulette with a box of Nice 'N Easy in a sultry, rich brown shade.
5) My go-to hair is... a bun. Ugh, I know. I don't like hair in my face, I don't like wet hair hanging down, I don't like oily hair on Day 2 even though I know it's helping it be healthy. So, 5 days out of 7, the "bun" that my husband hates so much ends up being winner, winner, chicken dinner.
6) My biggest hair disaster was... in the third grade. "Hold On" was banking big ka-ching! for Wilson Phillips and my mom was convinced that I was a doll-size version of Chyna herself. She managed to talk me into what should have been a pixie cut. I did not rock that look. I looked like Peter Pan, and I don't mean like a girl playing Peter Pan in a musical.
7) A hairstyle I am dying to try is... hmmm. I really am not sure. I'm pretty open to trying most anything, but I'm old enough now to know what I can and can't work with this mop. I would love long layers like Blake Lively, but stylists have let me know in the past it probably won't work with my hair type. And I'm okay with that.
8) My best hair day was... my wedding day. I wish I could show pictures, but I can't while working. It was long, blonde, and glorious, slightly curled with the top half pulled back elegantly. It took longer to remove all the bobby pins than to um, consummate the marriage that evening.
10) My hair is... THICK. I mean, I probably have twice as much hair as most other women. I doubt I will ever have to worry about thinning hair, as I could lose half of it and still have a pretty decent head of locks. At my old salon, when an assistant got to blow dry me, she was like "Jackpot!" Because she knew she was going to get an arm workout and a pretty decent tip.
If you enjoyed my Vegas-themed hair ramblings today, you can thank the Nerd Mafia of Word Up, Yo as well as Laura at the little things we do. I owe all of my inspiration to them. You could also vote for me on Picket Fences, it's not asking much, just a little clicky on the linky. I would so love to move up from my current ranking of number 66. At least I'm the top 100, right? Have a great weekend, and check out the other posts...I LOVE reading both of these hops.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
As for my confessions about Motherhood, I only have one today, but it's a doozy. I get really stressed out by being the parent of a toddler. I snap at my husband, get frustrated at my son for, well, acting like a typical 14-month old who likes to bring me a new diaper when he knows he has pooped but then squirms away when I actually lie him down to change him. Dinnertime is never easy, and while some days, like Monday evening, I can remind myself to just take life as it is and enjoy every moment (instead of trying to rush into dinner when we got home, I spent a good 10 minutes on the kitchen floor with a nearly naked child who was laughing with nothing other than glee because he was putting a bowl on my head), most of the time I spend my whole weekday evening just tapping my foot impatiently at my husband while thinking of the next ten things I must do in an hour.
Halloween night was a fine example of how I get: dinner took longer than expected to cook, even though I was lucky enough to have my mom over to occupy Jacob while we got everything ready. The baby didn't eat well, I couldn't get everyone to sit down and start eating so we could get going, I barely ate my own food because I was anxious that there were already Trick or Treaters coming to our door and for some reason I had it in my head that we would be one of the first, I kept thinking about how we needed to hurry up and get Jacob re-dressed so we could go. The whole time, I swear my husband moved as swiftly as a moped on a superhighway, and before we even got out of the driveway I was yelling at him and rolling my eyes at my mom and saying ridiculous things like "How many times can I give him the same instructions?" or "How slow can HE MOVE?" I eventually calmed down, held my husband's hand, apologized for my frantic behavior, and enjoyed the event the way a family should.
I think the most pathetic part of this mom-freak-out mode is knowing that my grandmothers, mother-in-law, and mom had many, many more responsibilities and shouldered even more of the child-care burden than I ever will because the times have changed and my husband is expected to step in and parent right along with me. The guilt that hits me after one of my anxiety "episodes" is almost worse than the stress itself. I know this is a recurring theme in my blog, but I keep coming back to "how can I think this is so hard and let it get to me when I have it ten times easier than any of them did?"
That is my confession. I need a reminder that this is normal, that this phase passes just like clusterfeeding passed and just like 2AM wakings passed (well, for now, I know the molars are coming eventually), and that something that seems so stressful right now will seem small and insignificant in a few months. And I need a swift kick in the behind and someone telling me now and then "get it together girlfriend".
My mom did that last week. We were cleaning up after dinner at their house and I yelled at my dog to get out of the kitchen for the 14th time and muttered "I'm gonna blow a gasket."
Mom's reply? "I think you already did." Moms know just what to say at the right time, don't they?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I have many friends and family on either extreme and everywhere in between, and I only ask that people vote their values. Eschew party lines and research your candidates and what they stand for, and vote appropriately. When you only follow party politics, you are allowing people to make decisions for you that are completely out of touch with your family's needs. Also, never overlook your local government, right down to school board and county commissioners. These are the people that make decisions that affect your daily life. I will never understand people who only vote every 4 years.
So, besides taxes and the economy, here is the *radical* idea that I support in regards to one of the biggest hot button issues out there:
The government should not recognize marriage.
(Collective gasp, now gather yourselves and listen.) Marriage was never designed to be a legal contract, it was designed to be an expression of commitment between people in love, and at times their God. Where our country went wrong was recognizing this as a legal union and assigning tax benefits and other benefits just because people made a commitment to one another.
If we all had to enter our own taxes as our own person, imagine the possibilities. People who are in support of marriage between one male and one female ONLY could make sure that their church only accepted and performed marriages in those types of unions. Likewise, our gay and lesbian citizens would be free to marry one another and make the exact same lifelong commitment in their own religious organizations, and if you are okay with that, then I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem attending services there. Imagine if we all the freedom and liberty to marry who we want, and the GOVERNMENT DIDN'T HAVE A SAY IN THE MATTER AT ALL**.
Why do we have to make it about getting special rights only allowed by the government to certain unions? Why should we even allow the government to decide who we can marry? Why do I get "special credit" for choosing to enter into a legal union with my husband? Before I met him, I always said that I didn't need a piece of paper to make a commitment to someone. What I meant then is on the opposite end of the scale of how I think now, but I still feel the same way: my marriage ceremony was a promise to my husband and my God that I would spend my life with one and only one person. Signing a marriage certificate didn't change that in any way. I don't even remember the marriage certificate now. I remember the service and making that commitment in front of all the people I love.
I know that this idea will never fly in our current government, because the Right wants to define marriage their way, and the Left wants to make sure everyone can get special insurance, but I encourage everyone to think about the possibility of a country with true liberty and what we can do when the government isn't busy protecting us from ourselves.
**Also, there would never be another child referred to as a Bastard.**
Monday, November 1, 2010
I suppose I've had some combination of writer's block and well, real life, pulling me away from the computer screen and focusing more on work and home. It used to be that something funny would happen or I would make a wry observation and immediately think "oh, I have to remember this for my blog later". Now, I think I'm just trying to live more presently and not think so much about what I should be sharing with "outsiders" but what I should be sharing with my family! Not that I don't love this blogging community, just that I still need to find that balance.
Without further adieu...some observations from Halloween weekend:
1) Our daycare expected us to follow a "theme" when we dressed our little tyke up on Friday. Um, no, we've been planning his costume for over a month, we're poor, and we give you nearly half of my salary, so he will be a Cowboy, and not anything related to Peter Pan, thankyouverymuch.
2) Surprisingly, more of my Dollar Tree candy was swiped last night instead of the pricey Snickers/KitKat/3 Musketeers. I guess the novelty of candy sticks (what we used to call Candy Cigarettes before America got a conscience) trumped chocolate for once.
3) I am way more high-strung than I ever thought. We were running 14 minutes behind my Trick or Treating "schedule" and I was literally about to explode. I yelled at my husband, along with serveral eye-rolling episodes, before I finally calmed down enough to enjoy the evening. Luckily, he forgave me.
4) My son makes the cutest Cowboy EVER. (Pictures later, I promise I'll update the post.)
5) In this politically correct society, it is impossible to find a toy gun anymore.
6) I love Fun Dip. Enough that I was internally disappointed when one of our kind neighbors took the pack my son swiped from her bowl and exchanged it for toddler-friendly pretzels.
7) Old people are great. We have one older couple in our neighborhood we've spoken with once or twice, and Jacob walked right into their house. The lady thought he was the sweetest thing and wanted to take pictures with him. She also didn't just have a bowl of treats, she made treat bags with lots of little items in them.
8) My kid, lying on the floor with his mouth stained by M&M drool, acting like a crazy guy, is a really fun sight.
9) Jacob can now identify his first Sesame Street character: El-bow.
10) The expression on a Target employee's face when your husband asks "don't you have any guns for kids?" is absolutely priceless!