Friday, January 28, 2011

Fill in the Blanks Friday: All Star edition

For those of you that don't know, I am a huge hockey fan. And my nice little city (or big town) of Raleigh, NC, is playing host to the NHL All-Star game this weekend. You know what that means: downtown is turned into a crazy melee of drunk Canadians, local rednecks who appreciate what it means to be a 'Caniac, and just generally people who like to party.

I'm lucky enough to have a mother in law that loves my little guy (and us) so much that she is babysitting for him tonight so that we can join in the craziness. Woohoo...we're going to party like we did in our early twenties.

Now on to one of my favortie blog hops: Fill in the Blanks Friday over at the little things we do.

1. If my house was on fire and I could only grab 3 things I would grab Jacob, the external hard drive with all of his sweet baby pics and videos, and my wedding dress, all the time yelling to make sure Sidney Bear was running down the stairs behind us (or right under our feet as she tends to do).

2. A smell I really like is there are so many. Camu Camu in my Scentsy warmer, Jacob's neck skin and hair after a bath, the Hermes cologne my husband and I discovered on our honeymoon, and my new perfume, Delices de Cartier. I smell so good I'm attracted to myself since I bought it.

3. Something you might not know about me is my favorite genre of music is old school motown and 60's. I could listen to Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mary Wells, etc. all the time, and I'm dying for that type of music to be made again.

4. Some of my favorite websites to putter about on are TSN.CA (for hockey), Blue Nile (we are finally thinking seriously about replacing my wedding set), and of course the new version of the Bump which shall remain nameless and private for mom bonding and parenting advice. I also highly recommend going through ebates for any online shopping you do to get coupon codes and cash back!

5. This weekend I will Party it up like it was 2002 in downtown Raleigh. First stop: a craft brew and bison burger at the Raleigh version of our favorite college haunt, Natty Greene's. Hanging out for All Star Wide Open. Maybe checking out 3 Doors Down's free concert. And lest you think I am leaving my child all weekend, we plan to take him to NHL FanFair tomorrow and expose him to the hockey culture.

6. Nothing makes me happier than picking my child up from daycare, and that slow sweet smile that spreads on his face when he sees "Ma-MA". And his laugh. And the way he copies me from the backseat.

7. A bad habit I have is procrastinating...break time over. Back to work!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm an Old Lady Now?

So, I can excuse the few instances of "excuse me, ma'am" that I've gotten since I hit my mid-twenties a few (several) years ago. I can excuse not being carded anymore at the ABC store or when buying beer. And I can even forgive my cousin's 8 year old daughter who answered "um, 40?" when she was asked how old I looked. She doesn't know any better, bless her heart.

I work in an industry where I can see people and their birthdates all the time to compare, and while sometimes I think "wow, she does not look a day over 26" when I see a particularly well-kept middle ager, a lot of times I am surprised to look down and see someone younger than myself who looks pretty ragged. For reference, I am 31 (and a half). And I think I look pretty spot-on early thirties.

But recently two occurances have happened that make me think that the stress of life as a mom must really be dragging me down. First, there was that phone call a few weeks ago from a friend at church who needed advice. Now, I'm very flattered that anyone looks up to me when it comes to spiritual/marital advice, truly I am. And I'm very happy to lend an ear and the best advice I can muster when someone trusts me enough to share a tough life situation with me. Especially for this particular person, who I have grown close to.

But the dagger really felt deep when she said, "I mean, I'm so young, I'm only 29, and I really am glad I have an older woman who has experienced so much to confide these things in." My husband can attest that for one of the few times in my life, I was rendered speechless for a moment, almost like someone had thrown a bucket of ice water on me and it jumbled my poor, senile brain. How old does she think I am? was the question on my mind, then and now. I'm scared to ask her.

I had just recovered from this incident when my dear loving husband told me as we were lying in bed last night, "I was looking through so many old photographs from when we first started dating and our honeymoon, and man we look so much older now," he paused briefly before continuing, "I mean, you've aged a lot more than me in that time, but..." ICE WATER IN THE FACE AGAIN. As soon as I could speak without spitting fire at him I said, "yeah, you can file that statement right under 'things you should never, ever say to your wife under any circumstance." He needed more explanation. So I said, "babe, it's right there with 'yes, sweetheart, those pants make your ass look 10X bigger'."

After he tried arguing with me for a while, I finally just had to say "Well, fine then...the only reason you haven't aged as much as me is because all of our friends have told you for 10 years that you look like a 40 year old."

That "don't go to bed angry" rule? Yeah, not so much last night.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WMW: A twofer

Today, I am participating in both prompts at Working Mom Wednesday. Mostly because I find number one awesomely intriguing and way better than the second, in the scheme of things that matter. But also because I've had it out for Courtney Mazza for a few weeks now.

Yes, I admit it, I am being a judgy breastfedding Nazi. And I don't care if you know. The whole celebrity pregnancy/celebrity raising children thing just befuddles/fasinates/infuriates me on a regular basis. I wish I could sort out who actually does the cooking, cleaning, raising in their household, and who has nanny times 3 to do most of that so that they can come and go into their children's lives exactly as they please. I am very, very lucky to have so much family in the area, and I know some moms are either jealous or judge me for having date nights or adult-outing nights (sans Jacob) at least monthly because we have 3 sets of grandparents as well as an aunt and uncle that are always offering to babysit. But I see some of these celebrity parents going out 2 or 3 nights a week.

What disgusts me even more, is Courtney Mazza (Mario Lopez's baby mama) touting her use of some diet pill to lose her baby weight. First of all, this thing contains Hoodia, which has not been researched enough to gain widespread medical approval for use in weight loss products. It can be a really dangerous substance, even though it's "all-natural". Second of all, her baby is like 6-months old. Why the need to get back into her size-0 jeans so fast? Shouldn't she be concerned with her daughter's health and well-being before worrying about if Mario's eye is straying to a younger, skinnier model yet? (Oh, that's right, kid's fine...nanny's taking care of her.) Third, (and this is where I have to enter my judgy-mom disclaimer) it's obvious that she's not breastfeeding, because that crap she's putting into her body is in no way safe for the possibility of passing it through breastmilk to her daughter. The thing that bother's me the most is that by proclaiming this substance as an ideal alternative to being healthy and losing weight the right way, she is encouraging new moms to run out and buy a dangerous substance to take to lose weight. If they are breastfedding, this is dangerous is so many ways to mom and baby, not to mention the fact that new moms have enough trouble trying to find the time to eat: who needs an appetite suppressant? I seriously worry that new moms will not take in enough calories to sustain the energy to care for their newborn.

Ugh. Rant over, I'm stepping off my soapbox now to bring you a letter from my son.

Dear Mama,

Even though I love it when you let me sleep late on the weekends, and even though I went to bed late last night and only got to sleep for 10 hours, as soon as you walk in I am going to jump up and greet the day. I know you and daddy aren't morning people, so I don't know where I got this energy from, but I love mornings in our house!

It was still dark this morning, and even though it was cloudy, when you opened my blinds and let me look out I tried to tell you that the moon is still out there. I know it is. But that doesn't matter, because it was time for my mama milk, and I got to cuddle with you while you whispered that this was the most relaxing part of your day. I like when you get my blanky out of the crib and wrap it around us. I feel so close to you, mama.

Thanks for reading my favorite Hippopotomus book, too. Since I went to bed late I didn't get to read it last night, so when I asked for a "buh" and pointed to it this morning, I was hoping you wouldn't tell me we didn't have time.

I know you worried about me when I played with the ABC Puppy by myself in the bonus room. You asked if I was coming to your room while you got dressed and seemed surprised when I said "no", but you let me hang in there in the dark with my puppy. It's ok that I'm independent, mama. I still love your cuddles when I feel like it. I'm just a cool dude who is okay sitting in a dark room across the house from you sometimes.

And I miss being around you while I'm getting dressed, but that is my fun time with daddy, and he touches my belly and makes me laugh because it's tickly, and I love when he tells me what a big boy am I because I took the arms of my "supersuit" pajamas off all by myself. It's our time, mama, and it's worth being away from you when I see daddy notice that you spent that time straightening your hair and he tells you it looks pretty.

As much as I love you guys, I love riding to school reading my Barney the Backhoe book and copying the sneeze and cough noises y'all make in the front. And I love when you put me down in front of my classroom and let me walk in by myself. Don't worry about me while you're working. I have so much fun with my friends, eat seconds at snacktime, and my teachers are so nice, but I always remember that you will be there at the end of the day to get me.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, I Cut in Front of You...

I must be a really demented person to get some kind of sick joy out of cutting people (legitimately) in line.

Take today for lunch. I am trying to make a lifestyle change (we don't call it a diet in these parts...) but I am also sick for the umpteenth day in a row and had no interest in eating either a frozen lean cuisine or the barley and sausage gruel I brought from home for the 3rd day in a row. What I wanted was a yummy, tasty, hot Philly cheesteak and fresh cut fries fried in trans-fat free peanut oil.

And I know just the place to get it, 4 minutes away by car. Mmmmm......except...they don't publish their nutritional numbers online. My SparkPeople has a problem with this. Not to mention the fact that looking at the amount of sodium in fast food usually curbs the craving just enough for me to resign myself with settling down with the frozen dinner and a People mag.

However, I noticed a nice little kid's meal at the bottom of the menu: "mini" sandwich, smaller than a small fries. PERFECT! I called in my order for a mini grilled artichoke and provolone sandwich with no mayo, add mushrooms, tomatoes, banana peppers, and spicy mustard. I figure that cut about 627 calories by not getting a steak, right? My answer: 10 minutes.

Yum. I walk in 10 minutes later to a line out the door. All the soccer moms with their gaggle of kids out of school for some reason give me the mean eye as I waltz past them. I know they are whispering "is she really cutting us in line?" to each other, but none of them have the balls to say it to my face. Second step, bypassing the herd of healthcare workers with their "free sub" coupons that are just as obese as me and definitely NOT ordering kid size anything to park my behind under the "pick-up orders pay here" sign.

I can feel the healthcare ladies closing ranks behind me, trying to inch closer like they are definitely NOT letting me anywhere near that register before they get their sandwiches. Meanwhile I can see my tiny sub on the back counter, ready to go. So I kindly wait for a break, inform one of the only two people working this busy lunch rush that I'm there for my pick-up order, pay before ANY of those chicks, and walk out happy.

Sorry, ladies, you just got smoked. Next time, call ahead.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I am spending a chunk of my week shopping/working our local kid's consignment sale. I know that in a lot of areas around the US, these sales can be hit or miss, but the one I'm talking about is Ginormous. Seriously. It takes up two buildings of our State Farigrounds, and is 150,000 square feet. Hundred thousand, you read that right.

As in, an eyebgall estimate puts the amount of play kitchens selling b/t $5-55 around 140. As in, I checked out a family of 4 yesterday buying their entire summer wardrobe. It was 78 pieces of clothing, they probably spent around $200 total. As in, 36 aisles of clothing for children ages preemie through 9th grade.

I love some consignment shopping, and when I'm there I always want to kick myself for buying something at a store, like "why would have ever paid full-price for a lifejacket, when I can come here and find one with tags for $7?" My other finds? A very clean and solidly built toybox for $25, a Kelty hardframe backpack carrier for $30, an Aquadoodle that looked like it had been used 3 times for $2, lots of books and CD's for just a few dollars.

And my favorite: the super-cool and retro Fisher Price cassette player that was just like the ones my husband and I had as kids.

The best deal I saw all day from checking others out? A beautiful vintage Strasburg ivory chiffon overlay dress for $2.

Another reason I love going to these sales are to see the "serious" moms. Now, I'm still pretty much a novice at these events myself...I've only been to three or four. I know enough to go for the big items first, pay and have them reserved, then hit the other rooms. I brought two of my own shopping bags to carry things in, but made the mistake of hitting the books/media room first. No biggie, I needed the exercise of lugging 20 books and DVDs around. It was after I found the Aquadoodle and adorable purple butterfly baby doll stroller that folded up just like a Maclaren that I started to struggle. Specifically, trying to keep track of all of that while shifting through a table of cloth diapers for my sister. Luckily, just when I hit my breaking point I found the Kelty and all was good.

Some of the veterans amaze me, while I secretly judge them for feeling so superior with their fancy home-rigged set-ups. Lots have clothing racks that they wheel around, often with bins duck-taped to the bottom and/or top to put toys. Most have strollers (sans baby) or at least the big plastic Step 2 wagons. My favorite are the ones with rolling trash bins.

And as I contemplate the clutter in my own home and why I feel the need to buy this child even MORE clothes and books, I often wonder if any of the shoppers there are hoarders. I wonder if their children have more stuff than they know what to do with because mom just can't pass up a $1 Gap t-shirt for no other reason than "it's so cheap".

But unlike me, they are probably not so lazy that they don't weed through their own stuff and purge for the sale beforehand, pretty much breaking even.

Sigh. I could get more organized if I didn't sign up to work these events, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Behind Her Walls...

I just finished what quickly became one of the best books I have ever read. It was very tough at times to get through it, as a woman and as a mother, and there were nights I put the book down and cried myself to sleep because I was so invested in the lives of the women in the story.

Although I have been an avid reader from a very young age and I have an active enough imagination to slip into the world of a lot of books I read, rarely does a book affect me this way.

I should also backtrack and point out that I have read several books by American authors of Middle Eastern descent, and the writing is always astounding to me. These are people who speak my language secondly, yet the way they have with words is beyond any imagery I could create.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini was on my Christmas list after I read "The Kite Runner" a few years ago and loved it. I knew I would enjoy the book, but I had no idea that as a free Christian woman, I would become so involved with the characters and the storylines. I'm not meaning this to be a book review, and I hate giving spoilers, so I will just wrap up with the thought that this book taught me so much about human nature, as well as how lucky I am to live in this society, in this time and age, when elsewhere in the world women and families are forced to make unimaginably heart-wrenching decisions every day.

Even better, at the end of the book was an answer to the questions that hung around in my subconcious as I was reading: How can I help the people who are living this devestation? And since my goal is to highlight 12 worthy charities in 2011, it is only fitting that I begin with the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. January is even more fitting a time to donate to this organization, as somewhere in Afghanistan a family is struggling to stay warm in a makeshift tent with temperatures of only 19 degrees. Right now, one of these mothers' children the same age as my son is suffering from starvation and clinging to life, while I complain that Jacob's runny nose and cough caused him to wake up at 11PM suddenly, interrupting my viewing of "The Bachelor".

No matter what position in life you are, if ever person who reads my blog only donates $10, we will likely have enough to provide shelter for a family this winter. What could make your January more warm and fuzzy than that?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WMW: The Two Greatest Things From My Kitchen!

Okay, maybe 3 if I can find the other one.

Today is share your favorite recipe day over at Working Mommy Wednesday, and I am totally, completely unprepared. As you can see by my post this weekend, I have spent my evenings with my husband watching various sporting events (the National Title Game should start an hour ended after MIDNIGHT Monday!) and have not prepared for today's prompt.

Luckily, I love to blog recipes from time to time, so I am linking to a few of my favorites. First up is my go to meal for the nights when you are just too busy to do anything else: chicken and apple sausage. So, so easy. And so good. And perfect with a good local craft beer. Yum!

Second, we'll go with something I'm really proud of: one of my first fly-solo, no-recipe, throw-some-crap-in-a-pan-and-see-if-it's-good recipe. I guess this is called American Chicken and Pasta. I promise, it's easier than you think, and tasty.

And then for dessert. I love to bake. Seriously love it, and it's becoming a hobby of mine. When I'm cash-strapped, one of my fave things to give someone for their birthday is a fabulous birthday cake. I make a carrot cake that has had more than one person say it was the best they've ever had, and one year I made my mom a beautiful white chocolate, lemon, and blueberry cake. But the recipe that I have gotten the most compliments on from people who have tasted it and made it themselves, is my Banana Cupcakes. You HAVE to make this, if you even like banana a little bit. Absolutely delicious. And it has fruit it in. No worries!

If you have something tasty to share, or have just discovered our Working Mommy Network, head over to Julia's blog at Work Wife Mom Life to link up. Even if you don't cook, you can blog on our other prompt today!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'm Becoming the Woman My Husband Married...Again.

Yes, folks, I have changed.

My dear husband loooooves to talk about how "all the guys at work" warned him that his beer-swilling, sports-loving, foul-obscenity-at-a-hockey-game-shouting girlfriend would, within 3 months of the wedding, shrivel into a ball at the other end of the couch, engrossed in a magazine with a mug of hot cocoa and look up slightly annoyed at him when he asked her to watch that play again. I used to scoff. I mean, really, I was the one that talked my husband into spending the $1500 we planned to use on a honeymoon to Europe on Stanley Cup Finals tickets (and it was worth every.stinking.penny). I was the woman who made sure that if there were ever a day that her Sunday evening was clear, it was definitely Selection Sunday.

It was my idea to fill his brother's office with orange and blue balloons when the Tigers beat the Yankees in the playoffs. It was I who stayed up until after 1AM watching Dave Roberts steal a base and jump start the Red Sox on their way to coming back from a 3 game deficit to win the ALCS (shame on him for falling asleep, who DOES that?) I was the first one of us to participate in a Fantasy League (and win), the girl who bought a one-way ticket to DC a few hours before the flight on a whim to go watch NCSU play in the NCAA tournament, the girl who was excited to win a bus trip to an away hockey game on a dial-in radio show, the girl who once peed in a parking deck in Philadelphia.

Okay, I'm not sure what the last one had to do with sports, but you get what I'm trying to say, right? I was a guys' girl.

Only they were right. Fast forward a little way into our marriage. Fights ensued over if we were watching Grey's Anatomy or the hockey game. I stopped watching the NFL playoffs, lost interest in the World Series unless the Sox were playing (or the Yankees were losing), and stopped requesting off the Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament. Over time, other things have grabbed my attention, seemed more exciting. I've become entranced in my world of blogging, literature, and let's face it, tabloid magazines. I will admit that a few times this season, I missed an entire NCSU football game, even once due to choosing to take a bubble bath. I have not owned up to my end of the "sport's wife" bargain.

But this week, something changed. I don't know if it was my husband's excited reaction when one of "The Bachelor" contestants mentioned that her entire life revolved around sports, or if it was watching our college basketball team annihlate an ACC opponent for the first time, um, ever, but my love for b-ball has gotten a swift kick in the rear. What has happened to me, I asked myself? I used to read the sports page, used to know who was in the top 25 in college basketball and football, who the points and goaltending leaders were in the NHL, who the Chargers had to beat to make the wild card (unfortunately, I know what the outcome of that one was this year). Whatever it was, I have found myself excited to watch basketball this weekend. More than excited...I left my family at the dinner table at my parents' house tonight to watch the Kansas-Michigan game go into OT. I am trying to wrap this post up as fast as possible so that I can go hopefully watch Duke kick some serious Maryland ass. I can tell you who the unbeaten teams are in the NCAA b/c I looked it up as soon as I got some internet time this weekend.

I'm already thinking about March Madness. And who will be in my Final Four. Madness. We call it that for a reason.

I have to go now, but my husband thanks you for sparing me. Despite the fact that I'm female and therefore will never know quite as much about basketball as he does, he appreciates having his sports-watching wife back. Sans magazine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Warmer Weather Will Arrive Eventually. Right?

Ah, here it is: a rare moment to blog from home, peacefully, with a napping, sick babe in the next room. I was kind of looking for an excuse to sleep late, cuddle with my son for a few hours just the 2 of us, and spend the morning in my pajamas. I know I have to go to work eventually today, but after the week I had, I am spending Friday morning blissfully alone except the child and the dog.

And I can participate in Fill in the Blank Friday without having to bang out a 5 minute post while frantically trying to finish my sandwich/fruit/whatever else I'm eating these days. Today, it's all about daydreaming for those warmer days to come.

1. Winter is Fun for a few days, but I would much rather be watching the spring buds come out, or having one of those freakish 70 degree days that we get in January in NC sometimes, instead of watching the news reports of more impending snowfall to come next week.

2. Summer is way too hot around here, and the heat lasts too long. But it is most definitely a good excuse to drink that Red Oak I finally found bottled in a grocery store and think about grilling a fantastic burger with cheddar and pickle slices.

3. If it were summer instead of winter right now I'd o swim in my parents pool this weekend. I never thought I'd live only 5 miles from my folks, but at the top of my list of good reasons to be close by is the fact that a cool pool beckons any time I can't take the heat, and I can put to good use my old Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguarding courses by teaching my son to swim.

4. My favorite thing to do in winter is spend a Saturday morning in PJ's with my family. Hubby makes breakfast and then we relax in the living room, watching last night's 20/20 while the boy brings us books to read to him.

5. My favorite thing to do in summer is No doubt, grill out. A steak, brats, hamburgers, doesn't matter. The grill is king at our house in the summer.

6. The ideal outfit for a sunny summer day is denim capris (I don't do shorts) and my favorite light, gauzy, flowered button down cap sleeve shirt. And barefoot, with flip-flops by the door for going outside.

7. The ideal outfit for a frigid winter day is JEANS. I love jeans. And probably a sweater, boot socks, boots, and my lovely black peacoat. And gloves.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WMW: I Challenge Myself to Enjoy a Holiday

People keep asking me "How was your Christmas?" And I'm not quite sure how to respond. I think mostly I feel guilty, and I must move past that, like yesterday.

The truth is, I didn't enjoy Christmas this year. I tried to force myself to, and I had my moments like the Friday night date shopping with my husband and stopping for cupcakes at a downtown shop afterwards that were absolutely memorable, but overall, I felt so stressed, so overwhelmed, and so let down by the weather that I just couldn't move past it.

I think I set up a lot of expectations for my son's first "real" Christmas (he was 4 months old last year) that I forgot all about just letting myself enjoy the season, no matter what traditions we accomplished. I really wanted to take my son to go see lights this year, but every weekend it rained or snowed, which is in no way normal for NC and really thrw a kink in our plans. I'm sure we could have figured out a way to go on a weeknight, but December was a tough month at work as well. Demands and goals and expectations have changed, and lately it has not been the kind of job where I can "take off early" one afternoon on a whim.

I also was excited to put our Christmas tree up, but again, with the weather, we never got around to it and the last weekend we were left staring each other, saying "it's not worth it to go through all that effort for one week". So my sweet toddler did not have a tree in his own home. Santa had to leave his presents laid out on the couch. My husband at least managed to dig out our stockings, so that was a tradition left unharmed. (Sidenote, kind of gross: apparently at some point in Dec 2009 my son spit up on a corner of his stocking...ewwww...what a surprise!!!)

We also started some new traditions of sorts: we attended the Christmas Program at our church, and invited our closest friends and their kids over for a spaghetti/Festivus gathering. I hope that these will be added to our busy Christmas event season, because I actually enjoyed them so much.

Jacob's nap schedule threw a kink into our plans as well: we ended up showing up anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours late for our family events. I'm not even kidding: we made it to exactly 2 out of 6 actually on time. This is not what I want to be known for. I also stress-ate my way through the holidays. I am not lying when I say I gained almost 10lbs since Thanksgiving.

Despite all of this, I feel very blessed to have a healthy, loving son who was the life of the party all December, a wonderful husband who has been my equal partner the last few months when it comes to childcare and getting everything done, amazing family on both sides of our marriage, a home, two jobs, two cars that run, and plenty of good food.

And my challenge this year to myself is to let these things go. I have to get past trying to get everything perfect. I stress so much, that I spend valuable time worrying about stress and what I have to do next that I forget to just live in the moment and enjoy it. Even if the kitchen is dirty. Even if I don't have a plan for dinner. Even if I shouldn't be taking a 10-minute break to blog because I have a deadline at 5PM that I cannot miss today.

To quote my friend Candy, this year, I will own you.

(Prompted by Working Mommy Wednesday. Please join us, it's FUN!)