Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas rocks

Okay, I am not religious. I have serious questions about God, about Jesus as the savior, and pretty much any other religious belief that exists out there. But I must admit, I have taken the Christ out of Christmas. I love Christmas. In my house we celebrate the season of giving, Santa, and the gift of winter. For Easter, I tell Charlotte that we are celebrating Spring and all it has to offer, and the Easter Bunny of course. So maybe just maybe I will need to do a little educating about the holidays, but I can't seriously stick to just plain Jesus. My history background forces me, no guides me into seeing the whole truth of the celebrations we know today. So the syncretism of the birth of Jesus, with the druid beliefs in the Winter Solstice, with the Roman and Greek Gods is something I can not get past. But, I still love Christmas.

I love the lights, the smells, the trees, the gingerbread men, the secret gift hiding, the baking, the cooking, the drinking, and even the crazy shopping. When I taught school, I used to decorate my classroom for winter. I had snowmen and gingerbread men, and snowflakes. I also threw in a Christmas tree and a Menorah on the Calendar. While I have serious issues with the Roman Catholic Church, I must recognize their canny ability to create great holidays by combining all the fun things from other religions with theirs. What great salesmen and how do I hire them? Who doesn't love the Christmas tree, candles, and good food. Not to mention a Saint who brings presents. I love Christmas.

I especially love seeing Cookie excited about Christmas. We may have to work on teaching her how not to be so greedy since she keeps adding toys to her list of things she wants. I really stuck to a budget this year and was proud of how I was able to stop buying, even though a bed tent, more train tracks, a Sesame Street Shirt, an Abbey doll and much more were asked for and not bought. But it will be an exciting Christmas morning. She has already begun the shifting through of gifts and seeing how many she has verses her sister. ( my favorite past time). She likes to guess what is in them, and generally Christmas can not come too soon for her. Ohh yes, I love Christmas, and so does Cookie.

Christmas Rocks

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I am a new woman

Those of us who have had the joy of pregnancy know that an amazing thing happens post pardon. The hair fall out. All that beautiful pregnancy hair begins to fall out in clumps. It clogs the drains, the vacuum, and gets into just about everything. For Thanksgiving, I made sure to braid my hair and wear a bandanna to keep from getting hair in any of the food. ( which caused one of those OHHH GOD!!!! I'm my Mother moments). And not only is there the massive hair loss, but the massive hair damage from all of those hair ties and clips one puts their hair up in to keep out of the way post baby. Really, with a new born, who has time to do their hair, let alone brush their teeth? So now four months later, things have calmed down, we have established a nice routine, and I am ready to get my body back.

My lovely wonderful neighbor offered to watch Cookie one day last week, so I dropped Cookie off, told hubby that Jelly Bean was being left with him and I was going to get a hair cut. Jelly is napping pretty good now, plus she is no longer eating every two hours, so it was time for Hubby and Jelly to bond a little. Now, I can never really tell if something will pan out or not, so I did not make a hair appointment. Instead, I just showed up at a random hair salon as a walk in. And I am a new woman. It is amazing how just a little hair cut and an hour will do to one's Psyche. Hubby saw how much it helped my "attitude" that he went and got me signed up at the gym and told me to take some time each week to go, that he could work it out and give me some time.

So, not only do I have a nice new hair cut, but I have been the gym twice this week. Even though I am tired, I still feel great. I really really really missed the gym the last two years. I like it so much, I even love the drive to and from the gym. A quiet car ride without a talking, crying, or screaming kid is heaven. I am a new woman......now I just have to work on eating a little healthier and I am there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Arts and Craft Bag



Here is a fun arts and crafts project Cookie and I did together. All you need is some tacky glue, red and pink construction paper, a plain gift bag (white or brown will work), a pair of googly eyes, a glue stick, and cotton balls.



First, cut out a rectangular piece of the red construction paper and glue it to the top part of the bag. Cookie was able to put the glue down and then help me put the paper down.















Then glue a cotton ball at the top right hand corner of the red. I placed a dollop of the tacky glue to the spot and had Cookie put the cotton ball on it. I then drew a circle where the Santa face should be and glued on the eyes.














Finally glue the cotton balls around the face for a beard and hair. Cut out a pink circle for a nose and glue down.














Now you have a cute Santa bag to put handmade goodies in for gifts or a nice centerpiece at your Christmas table.

Banana Apple Bread

If you like Banana bread this is a sure thing recipe. I found it years ago and make it often. Hubby often complains when I make it because he is not that big of a banana fan, so I started adding the applesauce as a way to make it less banana-y. You can add more bananas and eliminate the applesauce, or reduce the bananas and add more applesauce. Below is the recipe I prefer, but feel free to change it up. I would love to include a picture, which I actually took, and it came out great, but I have been having some issues uploading the images fromt he camera to the computer. But trust me, this is a good recipe.

Ingredients
2 bananas
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce (I just use one of the individualized cups)
1/3 cup of butter melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt
1 tbsp of raw or turbano sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix bananas and applesauce together. Add the melted butter, beaten egg, baking soda, and
vanilla.Mix well. ( I just put all in my mixer and set at low as I add)
3. Mix in Sugar and then flour a half cup at a time.
4, Add the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix
5.Pour into a greased bread pan, or into a cupcake tin w/ liners. sprinkle the raw or turbano
sugar over the top. (Hubby loves to just eat the tops of the muffins when I make them that
way)
6. Bake 1 hour at 375 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (I actually
use a spaghetti noodle, as they are cheap, whereas toothpicks are expensive.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Traditions


The one neat thing about marriage, is the blending of traditions of two families. I am sure that forming one's own family traditions can be filled with some head butting between husband and wife. I have friends who have struggled to accept some of their husband's family's traditions. Like trimming the tree on Christmas Eve instead of sometime in early December. Real vs. Fake, Flocked or unflocked...Or even the argument about what to have for Christmas dinner.

I guess I am lucky, Hubby's family really has no Christmas traditions. So, for the most part, anything I suggest is accepted by hubby. Open one gift on Christmas Eve (pajamas), trim the tree and put up lights the day after Thanksgiving, (only if Hubby is up to it), a toothbrush in the stocking (he's lukewarm to this). Christmas cut out cookies.....made and eaten in two days. These traditions leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy. Maybe it's because my parents really made an effort to make the season special. But a house full of Christmas decorations and cookies really stands out in my mind.

Hubby admitted to me that he has really enjoys the fact that I have made it a priority in providing the kids with wonderful, warm, traditions . It's nice to see Cookie, for the first time really really excited about Christmas. While at the drug store, I noticed that they had Advent Calendars. The old school German kind, the kind I had as a kid. The kind with the really cheap chocolate. The pictures are exactly the same as when I had them too. So, of course, I had to buy one for Cookie. Every morning, since December 1st, the first words out of her mouth is, "may I please open a new door." to her calendar. Of course her excitement is for the chocolate, but watching her allows me to recall all those feelings of love and happiness that I had as a kid. I am hopeful that she, too, will look back to her childhood with the same warm feelings.

Each year, my Mom also bought each of us kids a new ornament for the tree. When I moved to Colorado, I brought all those ornaments with me. For the last four years, as I have decorated our tree, I have been able to recall little pieces of each Christmas in my childhood. So I have carried on the same tradition with my children. Starting with Cookie's first Christmas. I found silver picture frame ornaments on clearance and bought 18 of them. I think they were about $2 each. So, each Christmas I have the year engraved and put a picture of Cookie in one. I have enough to last until she reaches 18. Now I am searching the stores to buy 18 similar ornaments for Jelly Bean. My plan is to have two ornaments for each of the girls, the picture frame, and a special one that represents something that reminds me of each one for the year. This year I bought Cookie a Thomas the Train Engine ornament. Jelly got a Baby's First Christmas.

Traditions are really those comforting things we do to remind ourselves what is important. Whether it is eating dirty rice at Thanksgiving (as our friends do), watching home movies Christmas Eve, or trimming the Christmas tree with a special tree topper, traditions should give each of us the feeling of home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies

So I am participating in a Cookie exchange over at EvolvingMommy.com .

Cookie



The good thing about this cookie exchange, is that it is only a recipe exchange, so you don't have to eat a bunch of cookies, you only have to read about all of these yummy recipes and then avoid making them. Almost impossible I know. I am already contemplating and thinking about the ones I have already read about. So here is my recipe stolen /borrowed from one of my favorite authors, Hannah Swenson. I just love those food/mystery books that provide the lovely recipes in the back of the books. If you ever want food inspiration and something nice to curl up with, I suggest either Joanna Fluke or Hannah Swenson. I made this recipe a couple years ago when I thought it was smart to avoid making anything chocolate, for fear of consuming the whole batch in just a day. I dare you to avoid eating more than one.


Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

4 eggs beaten
2 cups white sugar
8 tbsp lemon juice (1 cup)
1 tsp of lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp flour (1/4 cup)

1. Preheat Oven to 350 rack in middle position
2. Cut each stick of butter into eight pieces. Mix with flour and the powdered sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Spread it out in a greased 9 x 13 in pan and pat it down with your hands
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven (LEAVE OVEN ON!!)
4. Mix your eggs with white sugar. Add lemon juice (and zest if you so wish). Add salt and
baking powder and mix. Then add flour and mix thoroughly. (will be runny).
5. Pour this mixture on top of the pan you just baked and stick it back in the oven. Bake at 350
degrees for another 30-35 minutes. Then remove from oven and sprinkle on additional
powdered sugar.
6. Let it cool thoroughly and cut into brownie-sized bars.

Hope you enjoy!

http://www.spiceymom.blogspot.com/?zx=d91e29a4c2cdb95c

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Picture Perfect



Have you ever tried to get the perfect picture? I mean we all know that it is close to impossible at the DMV or a school picture. But is it too much to ask for one perfect picture of both my kids together? I would love love love, to have one where they are both smiling, both are in cute little outfits, and both are in the most adorable pose.

While in L.A. my sister and I got the kids together for a cousins picture. We even managed to match the kids in Christmas outfits. We made sure to feed them before said picture. So when it came time for picture time, my dear Cookie decided that she just was not going to cooperate. She would not wear that dress, she did not want to put on that shirt, and those socks were just awful. A full blown tantrum ensued. Of course my sister, whose two kids were the picture of perfect behavior (for once), was trying to rationalise with her. And any of you who have or have had a 2 year old knows that this is impossible. Needless to say, I strong armed Cookie into her matching clothes. The pictures actually turned out okay, but I really wanted one with my two girls and Cookie did not cooperate. Her blankie, better known as "Neh Neh" was pushed up to her mouth and nose in every one. I guess they were so bad that the picture lady didn't even show it to me...although I probably would have bought it.

So with the holidays looming I have been trying and failing to get a good picture of the kids together for holiday cards. Cookie has decided that she loves her Dora nightie and only wants to wear it. This obsession (maybe she gets this from her dad) is so bad that leaving the house has become a fight. Her not wanting to leave because it would mean taking off her Dora, me pulling the thing off amidst tears and screams. Now normally I would just let her wear it out, but it is ten degrees out and the nightie is thin short sleeved polyester. So every time I even mention that I would like a nice picture of her and sister in front of the tree in their Christmas outfits, tears appear.

I am wondering if I will ever get that picture. I also tried getting one with Santa....let's just say tears from both girls and no picture. I even had managed to convince Cookie to wear something different...a matching outfit with sister. So I have included the picture I managed to take of the kids together. Picture Perfect? More like Picture acceptable.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving

This is the second Thanksgiving I have ever spent away from my Mom. The first was years ago, when Hubby's (then boyfriend) Mom invited me to meet them and spend Thanksgiving with them. That Thanksgiving was full of nervous anticipation. It was also a little weird.

First of all, my in-laws are not from the United States, they are Korean. So the fact that my Mother in Law cooked me a Thanksgiving meal really meant a lot. According to hubby, they never had Thanksgiving dinner. It was a little awkward, as my Korean is subpar, their English is heavily accented, and my future brother in law also brought his girlfriend (whom the parents had never met, also). There were not enough regular chairs, they had to bring out a stool from the garage and an office chair. Also of interest was the addition of Kim Chee, white rice, and pickles to the feast. It was also the first time I had ever had mashed potatoes out of a box (if you discount school lunches). So, first Thanksgiving away was weird, but I really hit it off with my future mother in law.

This Thanksgiving, hubby and I decided to stay home instead of flying to L.A. The last three years we have traveled and it was really, really stressful. The first year because of the dog. The second and third because we had Cookie. There were so many obligations to meet with family and friends that Cookie and us really were stressed. So this year, with two kids, we opted out for the Thanksgiving travel.

We invited some wonderful friends for dinner. They spent last Christmas with us, and we had a great time and so did the kids. I enjoyed being able to cook for them too. Our friends are expecting their third child and the wife had to work until 4:00. So the idea of being able to give them a break was fulfilling. Not to mention that my dinner turned out great. I like to give that credit to my Mom for showing me how it is done after all these years, yes I did learn something.

While we had the traditional Turkey, and stuffing. I strayed a little from my Mom's Thanksgiving meals. I made the Yams and Cranberry Sauce (which I forgot to put out) and I made carrots instead of green bean casserole. I also got to enjoy our friend's tradition of "dirty" rice. The kids had a great time playing, they even ate a little.

But a blog that I really did not mean to be about me turned into that. Really it is about an old friend of mine, whose Sister In Law suffered a horrendous car accident. She has four children and each day is touch and go. And as we enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner and watched the kids play, I realized how lucky I was. My friend's family is suffering one of my worst fears. My first fear is of course losing one of my children. The second is losing my husband or dying myself and leaving my kids without a parent...or worse both of us. After having Cookie, I suffered a little post pardem, besides the slight depression I had horrible fantasies of my husband dying. These fantasies were paralyzing. I think making friends and connections in town finally brought me out of that dark place, but this one family is facing a long and dark road. So as I have been putting together Cookie's Christmas gifts, a thought occurred to me. This mother who is lying in the hospital most likely had been putting together her list for her kids. A list that will not be fulfilled. I can imagine what agony it is for that mother to think that her kids might lose her, to think that forever their Christmas's might be blighted by mommy's injury. I contacted my friend and asked if I could buy the kids some gifts so that they would not wake up Christmas morning without gifts. So that their mom can concentrate on recovery and not her children's Christmas. I know that if it was my children I would want them to have some sort of Christmas, to see Santa at work, to let them know that they are not forgotten. This year I am Thankful for our health and good fortune. I am thankful that I can afford to offer this family something. I am hopeful that mother will recover and be able to embrace her children for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Short lived Obsession

My husband is a bit fickle. That is, he's fickle when it comes to his obsessions. He has this habit of falling in love with some sport or activity to the point of obsession, but for short bursts of time. Okay, maybe a couple years is not so short a time, but it is when it means obtaining a plethora of equipment.

Of course each of his obsessions cost a heady sum. First there was paintball. When I met my husband....oh 15 years ago, he was really into paintball. Many a times we would end up at the paintball store. He talked of nothing but paintball. Obtaining the newest, coolest paintball gun.

Scuba Diving. This obsession included the wet suit (two), tanks, vest, dive computer, knife, net, spear, flippers, bag, goggles, and not to be forgotten the boat. He actually bought a boat with a friend.

Next was bowling. He spent hours upon hour at the bowling alley. Equipment tally: 5 bowling balls....plus one for me and a pair of shoes. Okay, the bowling thing was fun and it is nice to not have to borrow the yucky alley shoes and have a ball that is comfortable.

My not so favorite was RC cars. There was a constant cache of parts everywhere in our tiny 900 square foot apartment. He had to have tho cars, parts, gas, oil, parts box, folding table for the RC driving ventures. Specific comfortable clothing. Yes, the list can go on. There was constant fixing, oiling, testing, and cursing.

An attempt at snowboarding, where not only did he get a snazzy new board, boots, jacket, pants, and goggles, he bought me a board and boots. But this did not last long. First, it took forever to get to any skiing (while living in both CA. and CO.) Second, I ended up hating it. Third, I got pregnant soon after moving to Colorado and the idea of him leaving for ski trips was not popular with me.

Cycling. This sport I love. He got into shape and it gave him an outlet for some of the pent up frustrations he tends to harbor and hold inside. Bonus was that it became a way for us as a family to get out together. We were able to take Cookie in the trailer and go all around town. Cycling has morphed into a great sport, exercise, and challenge for him. He has entered and participated in two tri-athelons and now has taken up mountain biking. This venture has also allowed him to make friends and meet new people.

I have been wondering when the new obsession would come to pass, and it has happened. He has decided that he wants to go camping. While on vacation in L.A. him and a buddy went camping. So now he needs all kinds of new gear. Tent, sleeping bags (yes I said bags, as in more than one.), stove, flashlights, food, hand gel, etc. etc.

I just laugh at his many many obsessions. Because when he find a new one, he is like our two year old with a new toy. He lives, eats, and breaths it. And I must admit, while the spending of the money drives me crazy, he could be doing a whole lot worse with his time and money.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mentor

Sometimes it takes just one person to really change the course of your life. Sometimes it takes just one person to take the time to take you under their wing for you to succeed. When I first started taking classes at CSUN, I was a bit lost. I did not know how to write historically, I did not know what kind of history I really wanted to study, and I did not know how the system really worked. I was lucky though, my professors were awesome. Each taking a special interest in my studies. One professor in particular took the extra care to encourage me to apply for scholarship after scholarship, writing letters of recommendation, and I believe influencing some of the panels deciding who was awarded. Without his help, I would have struggled to pay for college. With his help, I finished, debt free.

Today, I received the History Department newsletter. It was a bittersweet read. My Master's teacher, Dr. Andrews has moved back to Colorado and is now a professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. This move thrills me, as he is now close, and maybe, just maybe, I can take one or two classes with him to meet the requirements to renew my teaching credential. Plus, he was a wonderful mentor and teacher. Bittersweet, because after being momentarily elated of this news, I read on the next page that my former professor, Dr. Gerald Prescott had died. So I am a little saddened at the loss of a great man, a great historian, and a great mentor. Because of Dr. Prescott, I learned to write, to view the history of the West differently, and I finished school. I am not sure he realized how many students he must have influenced, but I know that I was at least afforded the opportunity to tell him how great he was a few years back.

Both of these teachers are examples of what teachers should be. They remind me as to why I became a teacher, as to why I one day, would like to go back to my career. Everyone in their life should be so lucky to have had a wonderful mentor, let alone two. So in this week of Thanksgiving, I am thankful to these two men and the countless other teachers out there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dr. Magoo

Anyone who knows me, knows that I recently visited my family and friends in California. Of course it was a trip anxiously anticipated by Cookie. A visit to Nana, playing with Slugger (Nana's dog), seeing the cousins, and a visit to Sea World. Hubby loves this annual trip because he gets a break from it all. The wife, the kids, and for the most part work. He gets to hang with his best bud and detox from the craziness that is our home. I get to see my friends and family, and get a little break with some help from Mom. Or that was the plan. On this trip my poor little babies both got sick this vacation.

Normally Cookie getting sick does not cause me much concern, other than the normal feel really bad for her and horrible that I can't do much to make it go away. But with the swine flu going around I was more worried than normal. I have a firm belief that if Cookie was to get the H1N1, she would weather it just fine. It is Jelly Bean that worries me the most, being so little.
So normally I would not panic. However, things were different.

1. I was not at home, near my doctor, who knows my kids.
2. My husband was not there to keep me sane. I mean he was a phone call away and would have come if I really needed him, but not having him there at two a.m. when Cookie is crying and holding her head while Jelly Bean wakes up was stressful.
3. I had my Mom feeding the panic. In her defense the memory of a 3 day hospital stay for my brother when he was three and had the croup trumps all sense of calm.
4. I had all of these horrible visions of not being able to get home or take Cookie to Sea World like we had promised.

So, I ended up taking the kids to my Mom's doctor's office, on two different occasions. The group has two pediatricians. On the first visit, Cookie was "ill". Of course she makes a total liar out of me, her fever by ten a.m. had gone down to 100 and she was dancing and singing. The doctor she saw seemed competent enough. He reminded me of a cartoon character with a bushy moustache. For some reason I kept picturing Sylvester the Cat. He made Donald Duck sounds and bird noises. Diagnosis, Charlotte was fine, had a bug or something. His answer, give me the H1N1 vaccine so Jelly could get the immunities through me. Okay, positive note, score one more vaccine for Colorado, one less for California.

Three days later Jelly Bean came down with the bug. another sleepless night and a return to the doctor's office. This time we see the other doctor. I will refer to him as Dr. Magoo. His nurse wrote everything down on a Post It. And when Dr. Magoo deemed to lumber into the room, he really had no clue whom he was seeing. I told him Jelly Bean's symptoms, which were far worse than Cookie's were. He kept referring to her as "Baby". "Ohhh hello Baby," he addressed her and then proceeded to almost drop her! Hubby and I kept looking at each other with the questioning look, "did he just drop our baby?" We left very confused, $30 lighter, and not really sure whether or not to trust Dr. Magoo's diagnosis of, "it's not the Swine flu."

Our little trip made me really appreciate our doctor, her nurses, and her staff. Jelly is still congested and has since seen our doctor, giving me the relief I was looking for.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arts and Crafts



Today is a snow day. It is a day one really shouldn't leave the house, except to play in the snow. Since we baked Halloween cookies yesterday, carved pumpkins Monday, we created Construction paper pumpkins today.

It has finally happened, Cookie is old enough for arts and crafts. When teaching, I loved doing art with the kids. I think those organized chaos days prepared me for parenthood. One has to be willing to let the mess happen. It also helps to have all the materials for said project. On Sunday we made a little trip to Michaels. I bought pipe cleaners, pom pom balls, glue (3 kinds), construction paper, and some little projects like finger puppets and stained glass. Cookie was so excited about getting started that we made the finger puppets and the stained glass as soon as we got home. So I am glad that she likes to create.

The only down side is that I am having a hard time finding proper safety scissors. The plastic kind when I was a kid, the kind that won't even cut hair. After an Internet search I have found some, but we have to wait to get them in the mail. So, I am doing all the cutting. But I like this new phase. Now if anyone can tell me how to get Jelly Bean to enjoy being on the floor alone, or how to get her to nap w/out having to be held, (another blog perhaps) life would be perfect.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Easy Mexican Crockpot Chicken

I know that there are just some days that I don't feel much like cooking dinner. There are days that we have things going on that I just won't have time to cook something fancy. So here is my quick and easy Mexican Chicken. It literally takes all of 5 minutes to put together...if not less time.

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts (or as many as you need for your family's needs)
1 packet of Taco Seasoning (if you make your own, 4 tbsp, or if more than 4 breasts 2 packets)
1 jar of your favorite Chunky Salsa (sized for the amount of chicken breasts you are using) I like the Safeway brand salsa, only because it has so much in it: beans,onions, and corn. Plus it is really chunky, cheaper than all of the brand names and comes in a small and large jar. I can use half a large jar for this recipe and have the rest for another date.

1. Trim fat off Chicken
2. Pour Taco Seasoning into Crockpot and roll the chicken in the seasoning to cover.
3. Pour the jar of Salsa over Chicken
4. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4 hours.

Your chicken should shred easily for Tacos, Burritos, Quesidillas, Taco Salad, etc. any Mexican dish you want shredded chicken with.

Side with some Mexican Rice and Refried Beans. (Mexican Rice recipe will be provided on future date).

Voila....Fiesta

Friday, October 23, 2009

When less is not more

Please note the size differences in these two T.P. rolls.

I noticed something the other day while going to the restroom. The toilet paper roll was smaller. It wasn't thinner or had less ply. The actual length of the roll was shorter. While most of us could probably due with cutting back on things like sweets and coffee or liquor, a smaller width of T.P. is not one I can readily say is a great thing.

This reduction in product while charging the same price seems to be the new M.O. of companies. First it was the ice cream, where buying a gallon was not really a full gallon but 3/4 of a gallon. I've noticed that cereal boxes have been reduced to "original" sizes, but the prices are the same current day prices. If Kellogg's or Post wanted to charge me 1955 prices, the size reduction would not bother me.

While the obesity rate in this country has reached epic and tragic proportions, I can see how companies can pretend to care by reducing their food products in order to say they care about the growing waist lines of Americans. So, if our asses are getting larger, why is our T.P. getting smaller? Less Frosted Flakes and Rocky Road I can understand, but shorter T.P? And many of these companies claim "bigger rolls." By bigger I think they mean thicker. But in reality we are not getting more, I think we are getting even less.

The only good thing about this new sized product is it rolls easier on the T.P. dispenser in our basement bathroom thanks to the poor installation by our house's previous owner. I am sure there are much more important things to obsess about, like debt and health care, but when grabbing for the T.P. in order to wipe my 2 year old's posterior, one notices these things and it does make a difference in the amount of coverage. I'm positive these toilet paper companies are rolling in new profits. One simply has to use more to get clean.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And a Carousal Ride

I love fall. There is something special about this time of year. Whether it's the smell, the weather, or the two great holiday's, Autumn is awesome. Even while living in L.A. I loved this season. Halloween was always fun, but the culmination of the season with Thanksgiving has always given me a warm fuzzy feeling. Or possibly it was the cooling weather and the high winds that always made it feel different than the hellish heat during the summer months that contributed to my love of the season. Not that October or even November are that cool in Southern California, but it always felt different and wonderful.

Living in Colorado has given me the opportunity to really appreciate the seasons. The feel and smells of Fall are more intense. The trees start to turn these beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, then they literally litter the ground. Even with the cooling weather that sometimes brings us snow and ice, familiar winds rush over the Front Range making it feel like the Santa Ana's of my home town.

Something happens when one reaches adulthood. Holidays kinda lose their luster. No longer does one anticipate the joy of Trick or Treating or a visit from Santa Claus. So in that in between time of young adult until parenthood, holidays kinda are a nuisance. But the magic seems to come back when you become a parent. Watching your child's eyes light up as she picks a pumpkin or listening to her talk about the animals she pet at the pumpkin patch makes Halloween special again. Baking Halloween cupcakes (thanks Kelly for the Vanilla Cupcake Recipe) and cookies is a special bonding time between Mom and Daughter. Anticipation of Halloween trick or treating in a Monkey costume makes me anticipate the day just as much as Cookie does.

Of course the one thing I hate about fall is the cold snowy days pushing us indoors, when we were used to being outdoors, but something about Colorado makes this okay. Today we had clear skies and perfect 80 degree weather. It was a day to enjoy the outdoors. And so, I talked hubby into taking a bike hiatus and make a trip to Denver Zoo.

Cookie has been asking to go to the Zoo, so I thought, before the weather gets too cold, before it is too miserable to venture outside, we should go. It was the perfect day. We told Cookie we were going some where fun, but it was a surprise. By now, Cookie knows what the parking lot of the Zoo looks like. So when we pulled in, her sheer joy and excitement brought tears to my eyes. In the past she was only good for about an hour and a half before she crashed in exhaustion. Today, Cookie ran from exhibit to exhibit, walking the entire time for three hours!

It was the perfect day, ending with a train and a carousal ride. Last time we went to the Zoo, Cookie wanted to go on the carousal but got too scared when it came time to get on. This time, she had her Daddy to hold her hand, talk her through it, and she was scared and exhilarated at the same time. It probably would have been wiser for us to get prepared for winter on this warm October weekend, but giving one's child joy is much more rewarding. While Thanksgiving had been my favorite holiday, because it was the most non-religious of holidays, I think Halloween might replace it. There is just so much fun for my little girls to have. So the next time the holiday's get you down, find a carousal and take a ride. It will probably leave you with a smile.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Religion: the good, the bad, and the ugly

I consider myself a modern woman. I also think I'm pretty open minded about most things. I don't care about people's sexual preferences or religious choices, as long as they don't infringe on my personal rights and freedoms. However, I do have some issues with religions that embrace some sort of double standard.

Hear me out. I actually understand some of the Islamic and Orthodox Jewish beliefs and where they come from. Being a history major, I have studied the origins of most of the major religions' beliefs. If I had taken those religions classes earlier in my college days, I may have switched my major to religious studies. As it is, I think I only need something like 9 more units for a minor in religious studies. What annoys me is those who preach one thing and then do another. Or those religious sects that have one standard for men and another for women.

Usually when I see a woman in a burka or a head scarf I generally understand the history behind the clothing. Not that I always agree with it, but I understand. When I was a teacher, I had a Muslim student who invited me to break the fast with her family at their Mosque. I had no reservations covering my head out of respect for their religion and beliefs.

But today I found myself kind of mad. I took Cookie and Jelly Bean to the mall today, as the weather was a little cold and it looked as if it might snow. I noticed a family where the woman was dressed in a prairie dress and wearing a white cap. What looked like her husband and son were dressed in modern clothes, jeans and t-shirts. I know that I really don't know their relationship to each other, but for a split second I was angry. Angry at the woman for allowing herself to be subjected to a double standard. Angry at the man for suppressing women. And then angry at myself for being so judgemental.

Of course if any of you really know me, then you know that I threw out my belief in God and religion a long time ago. In part the decision was because of my studies. I just had trouble following one religion when all of them seemed to have a similar message and purpose. I also gained an understanding of how each of them came to be. The blending of one religion into another. The bastardization of one religion in order to gain followers left a nasty taste in my mouth. And not one religion can claim they are not guilty of such acts.

If I really had to choose a religion to follow I most likely would pick Buddhism. I like the idea that life is suffering and once one understands that, then they are released from suffering. I also believe that it teaches some ethics and right action, which in a nutshell is what religion is there for anyway; to give people a path to follow. But I don't like organized religions, I don't like someone telling me how to interpret the Bible (which in my opinion is a great book full of interesting stories, but so is the Bagavad Gita). I don't like people thinking bad about others because they failed to show up for church or temple or whatever that week. To me religion is spiritual and for each person to follow as they see fit, not by some law enacted by government or a few of the religious leaders.

But, I understand why people believe what they believe, and I respect that. I know that deep down people need to believe in something greater than themselves. And maybe there is something or someone out there. And sometimes religion and beliefs are a good thing. Some people need that tie to others or the set of rules to keep them on a righteous path. Organized religion can do good. They can raise all kinds of money for all kinds of good deeds. It can provide a family to someone who has no one. And it can make people feel welcome in a new and strange place. Religion can provide peace to someone in a less than peaceful world.

I once read an editorial by a man who wished he had religion to provide him the comfort it gave his wife....but he couldn't start believing in something he was sure didn't exist. I wish I saved his article because it mirrored my feelings almost exactly. One reason I loved Job's Daughter's growing up is because I love the whole ritual of it all. Like Job's Daughters I think that Catholicism is beautiful in it's ritual also. I loved going to the Lutheran church as a teenager, not because I loved God and Jesus or even believed, but I loved the comfort of the ritual of receiving communion and the kneeling while praying as a whole congregation. I enjoyed visiting the Mosque, because like the sit, stand, kneel of the Lutheran and Catholic Church; the bowing on the knees and then standing was beautiful to watch. I felt the sense of calm come over the women as together they participated in their religious devotion. I'm interested in religions in a historical and the social sense.

So I am amazed at how one woman's dress could incite such passion and feeling in me. I realize that maybe I am still on my own spiritual journey. But one thing I am certain, you will not find me ever turning to organized religion ever again. I will not become a Christian, or a Jew, or a Buddhist. I am just too cynical and free thinking to ever follow some doctrine that tells me what is right or wrong. I know what is right and wrong. I think I will stick to the old model of do unto others.....and by the way, that saying does not exclusively belong to the followers of God and the ten commandments, the Buddhists and other religions also claim it for their own too. So live freely, believe what you believe, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Evil Me

I think it has happened. I have turned into an evil person. I totally blame hubby for this transformation. I used to be a "glass is half full" positive outlook type of person. But over the years I have noticed that I have become more and more cynical. When I had Cookie, I so didn't want to become "that Mommy." The kind that brags about her kids left and right. The kind where she believes that her kids can do no wrong. I also didn't want to go around judging other moms. I think I have been sort of successful in this endeavor.

Here's the thing, I do talk about the girls quite often, but really I'm a stay at home mom. I have nothing else to talk about but my kids and the "cute" (at least to me) things they do. I do not so much as brag, as just talk about them. And mostly, I think I complain.....a lot. I really have become a negative person. I don't know if this is a result of living with a negative person or the result of aging. Maybe it's just in my DNA. But I do not brag, all that much...I hope.

Of course my budding negativity prevents me from thinking my kids are perfect. I will be the first to admit that Cookie can be a pill ( to say it nicely). One reason we decided to have another baby was the fact that Cookie was acting like a spoiled brat. Always expecting us to jump when she said jump. We felt she needed to learn a little patience and how to share. The fact that Cookie liked to pee on the furniture, albeit embarrassing, was not something I kept to myself. I readily admitted my kid was being a snot.

But judging other moms is where I have failed. I was once at the Zoo and was shocked when a mom pulled out a gigantic bag of Cheeetos and fed it to her one year old. I must admit, I felt slightly superior having packed Cookie a nice healthy lunch with plenty of fruit and organic, low fat snacks. I make special trips to Whole Paycheck for her "gummy snacks" because they only contain pectin and pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. I used to make her baby food. I would even like to make my own bread...if I can actually manage it to turn out edible instead of heavy as a brick. Of course my slightly superior attitude is always kept in check by those moms who really make their own granola bars and bread (I am really quite jealous of Evolving Mommy's baking prowess and commitment to healthy eating).

Lastly I am kinda ashamed to admit it, but I did a little dance of joy in my head when that annoying ever perfect Mommy with the perfect kid, is having the less than perfect pregnancy. Not that anything is wrong with her baby, thank goodness. But she has placenta previa and frankly seems quite done with being pregnant..with about 6 weeks left to go. I even heard a complaint come from her today. She was as obnoxious as usual when announcing she had the previa and I said, "oh hopefully it will correct itself, as it did with me when I was pregnant with Jelly Bean." She said, "well, did you have a partial or a full? 'cause I have a full and it is only partially resolved, so I am sure I'm having a C-section." Even in her distress, she has to be better than me. So am I evil because I have found a small amount of joy in her discomfort and less than perfect pregnancy?

I hope that I can curb the negative attitude and avoid turning into my miserable and angry grandmother. But really, am I evil for enjoying another's distress?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guaranteed

I've learned that two things are guaranteed with kids: eight hours straight sleep is never to be known again and that they choose the most inopportune time to go to the restroom.

Cookie loves to choose moments to have her "moment" either right when we are eating dinner or when I am in the middle of frying something, in oil on the stove, that can not be left alone, or it will burn. Nothing curbs one's appetite faster than a BM from one's child. I really have gotten quite used to this phenomenon. Hubby on the other hand has a hard time dealing with it. Cookie's announcement, "I'm pooping" during dinner illicits all kinds of groans and comments from him. "Disgusting" or "I think I'm done now." followed by the throwing down of the fork and his getting up from the table drives me mad. I don't want her to develop any negative feelings regarding potty use. But Hubby turns into the boy that makes all kinds of bathroom humor or comments. Thinks like "Pee Yew, that's smelly." "What died in there" etc. will be offered.

As to sleep, well, it does seem as if the kids have a super secret pact to keep me from enjoying eight hours straight. I say me, since Hubby seems to have acquired a deaf ear to the night time crying. If Jelly Bean sleeps well, Cookie is up three times. And I know that as they get older, I will have sleepless nights waiting and worrying when they are out.

I know that in the scheme of things these problems go away too fast. But, one day I will get my revenge. I will vacuum in front of their teenage rooms at seven A.M. "accidentally" hitting their doors. I will mow the lawn at eight. And I will embarrass them in front of boys. As for wiping poopy butts....well, hopefully they will make me a grandmother and they will have their own kids behinds to clean.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

YOU DID IT!!

40 years is a long time. Think about it. Four decades with the same person. My parents have done it. Two people who walked down the isle after only knowing each other 9 months, have managed to defy the odds and stay together....and still like each other. You did it! Congrats to you Mom and Dad.

You sacrificed for us kids, borrowed on the house, refinanced, went into credit card debt just for us. Whether it was to pay for a wedding or hospital bill, you did it! You have successfully raised three children, whom I might add, have all earned college degrees. You did it, and you did it together. There were times while growing up that I thought for sure divorce would be eminent, but you did it! Sure you drive each other crazy, you each have those little quirks that have become increasingly annoying to the point of intolerance, but you did it!

I wish we could afford to send you to some far off wonderful exotic place to celebrate and thank you for your love, understanding, and tolerance. Becoming a parent myself has helped me understand the sacrifices you have made. It has also made me wish I could go back and pay more attention. More attention to how you did it. How you Mom, managed to make it look easy. Make us feel loved and appreciated and special. Or to go back and have more patience with Dad's silly comments at the wrong time. Or understand his ability to get up and go to a job he hated day in and day out in order to put food on the table. But the two of you did it! You became my Brownie leader, coached soccer, worked snack bars, umpired and referred games, went to open houses and back to school nights (even to the point of calling out our teachers and their policies much to our embarrassment). You did it all.

Thank you for being great parents and human beings. You have exemplified high morals and right actions. You taught us how to work hard and aim high. But most of all you have loved us and taught us how to love. You did it!

Congrats, this Sunday you will have made it 40 years. Go ahead and give each other a high five. You did it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Updates

So here are some updates just in case you were wondering.

1. I did get that $35 check from the swing people, and it was good. I sent them a thank you card and the Goodwill receipt.

2. I was wrong, our phone service at AT&T ends this month, not August

3. I tried the park again, but this time Jelly Bean slept, so it was easier. I also went another time and had to nurse, found that taking Cookie to the right park is key. One where I don't have to be there to help her, and one not too big.

4. Not getting a lot of sleep lately and found my patience for Cookie at an all time low. Good thing Hubby's post pardom is over, nothing worse than not being able to have your own post baby blues because your partner is having the break down. It still angers me that he gets naps when I don't. Kids' naps are just not lining up....he could at least take Cookie when Jelly Bean is napping.

5. I have packed more errands into a day w/ two than I did w/ just one. And I hate going grocery shopping w/ two.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Neighbors!

When we went looking for a house and a neighborhood, I had hoped that we might find something as wonderful as the neighborhood I grew up in. Where the kids played in the street and the adults had cook outs and conversations in their front yards. It did have the requisite freaks, the child molester next door (he liked high school boys and went to jail) and the druggie and thief across the street. But they all moved away. I had hopes for neighbors that I could ask for a up of sugar, or someone to feed the dog when we went away.

Lucky for us we have really really good neighbors. Good, trustworthy people. People who not only have taken care of Pongy, but Cookie as well. I have a group of ladies who dote on my kids. Not only do they give me a break and watch Cookie, they do it for free! While I would never let the kids play in the very busy street here, the neighborhood is all I could have hoped for.

But, (there is always a but) sometimes neighborliness comes with some drawbacks. For instance, the substitute "grandparents" need just as much help with electronics as the real ones do. Whether t.v., cable, computer, or internet, they have no qualms about asking Hubby for help. Which is about once a week. Then there is the Widow, whose dying husband asked Hubby to help his wife when he was gone. So, hubby helps her out with little home repair and the like. Not to mention the sidewalks for both that he helps shovel during winter. But they do babysit for free, so really a fair exchange of services for the most part.

Last week the Widow kinda crossed the helping neighbor out line and asked if she could use our wireless network. And not just a one time thing, but an all the time thing. She said she was cancelling her Internet, and since Hubby's work paid for ours, what was the big deal? Firstly, Hubby's work pays for ours not the whole neighborhoods'. And Secondly, really? I see her come home for lunch in the city's truck. Can I borrow it? I mean they pay for it and everything, what's the big deal? The sad thing is, she seemed really annoyed that Hubby said no. I hope that this does not make things too awkward between us, because Cookie loves her, her cat, and frankly, I like having her to talk to. I would miss the friendship we have.

There are good neighbors, great neighbors, and sometimes bad. I hope our great neighbor doesn't become a bad one.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thomas


I am sure every Mom has it. The one toy of their child's that they hate, the toy they pray will brake or get left somewhere forever. Cookie has this one toy she absolutely loves and adores. It is one of the many she sleeps with, but belongs to the select few that get brought along with her in the car. If it was a plush toy like her Curious George, I would not mind so much, but it is a plastic pull dog she named "Thomas".

Thomas was purchased at one of our Goodwill visits. I must say that we have gotten our $2.00 worth out of him. But Thomas drives me nutty. At first it was the fact that he barked, "woof woof woof, woof,...woof woof woof" the same pattern. Cookie found much glee in this new form of torment Mom and Dad. Then there is Thomas's weight. He is heavy and awkward to carry. This led to Cookie dropping him numerous times. Which did in fact cause some breakage...all fixable by super glue and Daddy. But, the loss of batteries was a nice result. He is also noisy. His movable roller feet knock around. This would not be so bothersome if she didn't sleep with Thomas, thus waking when she rolls or kicks him.

I know, I know I stupidly bought the toy for her. But I seriously thought the glamor would wear off and she'd move on to something else. The toy was bought in April and she is still dragging (literally) Thomas everywhere. I make her leave him in the car, but she likes to bring him in her baby stroller or pull him when we visit with the neighbors. I hate Thomas, but Cookie adores her little playmate. He's the closest thing she has to a real dog. In fact when people ask if we have a dog at home, Cookie says yes, "Thomas". So for now, I put up with Thomas, because frankly, he's a whole lot better than Pongy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Having More Than One Dilema


Going into this two kids thing has been pretty much what I expected. Cookie has thrown some good tantrums the last three weeks. But they have gotten fewer. One unexpected bonus has been Cookie's sudden acceptance of peeing in the potty. She now wants to sit on the big potty, and wants privacy. She has actually taken ownership of it.

I have figured out how to give Cookie a bath and nurse. I have managed to put Cookie to bed while dealing with Jelly Bean. And I can go grocery shopping with both in tow. But one thing alludes me and it put me to tears the other day. After picking up the first swing in Greeley, I stopped by a park we had passed to let Cookie run off some energy and to nurse Jelly Bean. And I couldn't do both. I couldn't help Cookie climb the equipment, or negotiate a difficult task while nursing Jelly Bean. I couldn't run after Cookie up the hill or chase birds with her. Things we did in the past. Cookie was good natured about it, but I could see the sadness in her eyes. She lost her best friend and playmate. And I have lost that sweet little girl who trusted that her Mamma would be there to catch her no matter what. Now I am on a bench, nursing Jelly Bean yelling, "no don't climb that, it's too high" instead of helping her. So I cried. Cried that I couldn't give both my girls everything they both needed at the same moment. I am pretty sure that as they grow there will be many more moments where I have to decide who needs what the most. But it doesn't hurt any less to know that I am doing the best I can for both of them and it is still not enough.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It takes all kinds


So after the last swing fiasco, I decided to give Craigslist one more try. Hubby just wanted to go and buy a new swing. But, I found an even better one and I offered the girl only $10 more than the other swing cost. It was $15 less than she was asking, but she put in OBO, so if it didn't work out, then we'd go and get a new swing.

The seller accepted my bid and called me early this morning to arrange pick=up/drop-off. She said she had a meeting in town and she could drop it by. I suggested we meet at the local restaurant her meeting was at, since the girls and I were going to playgroup. (something I need to go to for me and Cookie). The girl said the swing did not have batteries in it since it also plugs in. I asked how many and what size, I would bring them, but I wanted to make sure the thing worked. Agreed. She did try to get me to go up in price, I refused. She then said that two of the Mobile toys were missing, but they had ordered more of them for $8 and she thought I should pay for them at least. I told her I really didn't care about the Mobile toys that all I wanted was something that went back and forth, so if she wanted to sell to someone else who was willing to pay more, then no problem. She replied, that she still wanted to sell to me.

So, I showed up on time to said restaurant, and two minutes later got a call from seller. She said she was on her way, but meeting had been changed to another restaurant down the street. I said I'd be glad to go there. Five minutes later we meet. Swing looks good, but seller says," do you happen to have a screwdriver? I forgot that I needed one for the batteries." Ummm, no I do not have a screwdriver, but if I was in Hubby's car I most likely would have had one. We tried to get them off w/ keys, but they were on too tight. Ten minutes later, I am still struggling to remove the battery cover. I tell her, "look if I can't tell if it works, then this is not a sale. You can sell to someone else if you prefer." She starts to panic, "maybe you can just buy it and if it doesn't work, e-mail me and I will give you your money back." I respond, "that's not good for me. Maybe said restaurant has an outlet out front we can use to plug this thing in." I look, they do. We drive the cars to the front of the building, plug it in and it works. Deal is made, money exchanged. She tells me that she will let me know when she gets the toys and we can arrange a pick-up or mail. I told her "no worries, no big deal. Thanks" It is now 30 minutes later than meet time. We go our separate ways.

Fast forward two hours I get the following e-mail:

i talked to my fionce and he said that because we sold the swing so cheap that you would have to order the mobile toys and he's gonna cancel the order, or you can buy those for the price of them and shipping. he said that the swing was in great condition and was sold for less than half of what we paid 5months ago. so i'm sorry i didn't let you know when i saw you, he just called me and let me know this. so i have your money so if this changes your mind let me know and i can give you your money back.
if you have any questions you can call me
thanks
becky

My reply:

I really do not need the extra mobile toys. These are one of the things that happens when one purchases off of Craigslist, which is why I was so adamant about checking to see if the swing actually worked. Your Fiance can rest easy, you will not be out the shipping and price of them. Besides, I can put any toy on the mobile.

She then responded:

he said that if you paid near what it was worth he wouldn't have cancelled his order. but i understand why he did. and i knew the swing worked and was worth more than what you paid, plus i was late to a real important meeting, and that didn't even bother you, that shows what kinda person you are. enjoy the swing.

It took a lot to not respond again. I mean really, I gave her two opportunities to back out...I even told her I did not care about those frickin toys. And I did show care about her "important meeting" I drove to the new site, which was I was told when I got there changed back to the other restaurant, I tried to end the sale when we couldn't get the battery thing opened. And who shows up for an "important meeting" with their 9 month old wearing jeans and a t-shirt? And I will enjoy the swing, which we did in fact get for a really good price. But she accepted it! And I am glad she knew the swing worked, but I didn't! It takes all kinds.

I am not completely turned off by this experience because I have a bunch of wonderful success stories. But I will be careful to meet in public places and not my home, as I don't want these crazy people to come and find me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

buyer beware

I love Craigslist. Whenever I have needed something, I have found it...for the price I wanted to pay too. I've generally had great luck with the sellers. Honest people trying to offload their unwanted crap. So I decided to Craigslist again for a used baby swing. Why pay $100 plus for something I can get used for $40? After searching through a couple swing postings, I contacted a seller whose price and swing were agreeable. The only down side was the location. A good 45 minute drive. But the poster seemed honest, giving me her number and address.

So I drove to Greeley w/ both kids in tow. By all appearances the swing was great. Clean at least. But the batteries were dying and I wasn't quite sure if it worked. The girl assured me it did. She was young, living in a single wide trailer on the outskirts of town. I thought, well if it doesn't work w/ new batteries lesson learned. And maybe her kid gets a nice winter coat out of it.

Consider lesson learned. The swing did not swing w/ new batteries, but the music, much to the delight of Cookie, works great. I e-mailed the seller w/ a thanks but you suck message. Her husband called, and apologized and offered me a refund. He's sending a check...only time will tell if i get said check, and if it clears. But maybe there are some honest people out there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cell Service

I hate our cell service provider. We have been loyal paying on time customers for 12 years. When we moved to Colorado, we had decent reception at our house. Bonus, we thought. Not so, our reception in the last two years has gotten worse and worse. Now we barely get a signal. Calls are dropped frequently and holding a conversation is difficult. The only reason we have stayed with At&T is because my family has them as their provider also. This has allowed us to call each other for no extra charge. However, my husband's business depends on him being able to communicate with others, and he can not do so on our current service. We have placed calls to the company inquiring as to why our reception is so poor. They claim that we in fact are in one of their best service areas. If this is a fact, I would hate to be in a poor area. Hubby asked if we could be released from our contract three months early due to the poor reception we have been getting on our phones. I mean, why are we paying for a service that we can not use? The company refused to release us...saying the only way out was to pay the $350.00 per phone line fee!!! So we have waited patiently, calling people back over and over again to finish a conversation, texting (and paying the extra fees there, since we are not on a text plan) the announcement of our daughter's birth in order to avoid any miscommunication, and apologizing to friends, family, co-workers, and business associates for our poor cell service.

Well our service is up at the end of the month and we could not be happier. One more thing, AT&T did us an even worse disservice. Hubby called to make it known that we will be ending our contract with them on the 23rd....and they told him that despite the fact that our contract ends on the 23rd we have to pay until the end of the month!!!! Say what? My bills are dated the 23rd of every month. But, we have to pay for an extra week. No explanation as to why this is other than, "that's our policy". While the I-Phone is really cool and neat, we would rather have a blackberry than deal with this asinine company. We are switching to Verizon. Only time will tell if the service is better, but I am betting from my neighbor's phone, the nurse's phone at the hospital, and everyone else I have spoken to who have Verizon, the cell service is great. Customer service blows, but at least we will be able to finish a conversation.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Your Face

Hubby recently decided to try Facebook. After numerous mockings and exclamations of how lame it was, hubby relented to peer pressure. His best bud talked him into it. I wish I could say it was me, but no, sometimes a man will listen to his guy friends before the "little woman."

Hubby never has been good about keeping friends. Not that he is unlikable, it is quite the opposite, actually. People generally scramble to be his friend, Hubby just has issues stemming from moving around a lot as a kid. Since having kids, he has decided that people are not so disposable. Nothing prepared him for the onslaught of emotions Facebook would bring up.

Reconnecting with one's past can be quite painful for many of us. It can bring up all those old high school insecurities and emotions. For hubby reacquainting himself with an old co-worker brought about all kinds of feelings he was unprepared for. About eight years ago we attended this co-workers wedding. I remember it vividly. It was on a hill looking over the ocean. The bride wore a beautiful flowing gauzy dress and had flowers in her hair. I recall thinking how beautiful and simple the whole ceremony was. The reception was fun with a live band playing all kinds of music. The favors were tiny sea shells with a tea light in them wrapped up in tulle. Why I can recall this wedding so clearly is beyond me. I had never met either the bride or the groom, but I know that attending the wedding was a milestone for me and hubby. It was the first time he took me to a function and introduced me to his colleagues and friends. So the fact that my hubby reconnected with the groom, his ex-coworker and found out the bride had passed away was a great shock. She was 41, they had a young child, and she died suddenly. The thought that we are now at that age, where the unthinkable can happen was overwhelming. Where we have children who can become motherless or fatherless. We as parents never want to think about what horrible, horrific things could happen to our children came smacking hubby in the face. Facebook is great at connecting people. It is also a window into the reality of life and death, joy and sorrow. For my hubby's friend, the world crashed. For my hubby, his exterior walls have been cracked....not broken, but cracked. Thanks Facebook.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Labor and Delivery


I am just getting acquainted with my new little Jelly Bean. And I am of course contemplating what she is going to be like. What if I were able to figure out what her personality will be based solely on the tenor of my labor and delivery? Or maybe just the whole pregnancy?

Follow my reasoning for just a moment. In the womb, Jelly Bean was exceptionally mellow. A little push or a little nudge her or there, but nothing to forceful. Just sweet reminders that she was there and doing okay. Contrasty, Cookie was a force to be reckoned with. She would punch and kick me until actual bruises would show up slightly under the skin. Nettling me, that would be Cookie, she just pushes and pushes to see how far she can take things.

Labor with Cookie was also intense from the get go. Contraction on top of contraction. She came into this world just as she approaches life, full of vim and vigor. Cookie is headstrong, running from one interest to the next. Her delivery was just as quick, ten minutes and she was out. The midwife barely made it into the room on time.

Now Jelly Bean took things nice and slow. Keeping me from going to bed with little contraction followed by a nice loll, to another contraction. I waited four hours before waking hubby up at 3 a.m. to take me to the hospital. I had been timing them, and for all appearances they were 5 minutes apart for over an hour. By the time we got to the hospital at 4 a.m.....the contractions began to become unpredictable. Three in a row....nothing for 5-7 minutes. And the midwife kept coming in over the next two hours commenting on how we were just too mellow. So does this mean extreme moodiness? A slow to anger simmering waiting volcano of emotion...and then BOOOOM......then a calm. Of course Cookie's water broke an hour into labor, whereas w/ Jelly Bean, the midwife had to break it so we could get things rock-in-and a rollin. And the contractions albeit stronger, more intense, and frankly, I think worse than Cookies, continued to come in small and then intense threes. Delivery itself was harder and longer. 45 minutes of intense pushing. My midwife had no problems getting there this time.

So, am I going to be graced with a little Leo? Mellow, easy going, and then sudden bursts of emotion. Only time will tell. But one thing I am glad, is that I have a healthy baby. And that I chose to have my children drug free. Good things come to those who have to work hard. And labor and delivery is hard work.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ode to Pong


Anyone who knew me and Hubby when we lived in L.A., knew about our evil Shih Tzu, Pong. He was truly a bad dog. But I loved the little shit...tzu. If you have ever seen the dog whisperer with Cesar Milan, than you understand what I am talking about when I say that Pong was in "the red zone" 99% of the time. He did not like people, and I think he tolerated Robert. He of course loved me, but would not flinch at biting me if he felt wronged in any way shape or form. More times than I can count did that dog attempt to attack someone. He was the typical yippy dog. He would attack your feet, your hands if they were near him, and he would not relent.

We tried everything to get the dog to behave better. Longer and more frequent walks, diet change, and of course the Cesar Milan method. His behavior slightly improved when we moved to Colorado, but he was still evil. We worked diligently with Pongy for 9 years, as I am a true believer that animals are not to be thrown away. That I had made a pact with this dog when I took him, that I would care for him and he would be part of my family.

Making the decision to get rid of my Pongy was not an easy one, but it had to be done. When Cookie came along, the dog was on edge constantly, more so than normal. We did everything to try and help the dog adjust to the addition of a baby. And I mean everything. But there came a day, the fateful day when Cookie was 11 months old, that I had to face facts, Pongy and children were not going to work together. I did not want to risk Cookie, who loved him and all dogs, getting bit. I mean Cookie's first word was "dog dog". But our evil dog who would attack you if you walked by him and he was startled, or in a bad mood, was not a happy boy. And we were not happy either. The stress was intense between us and the dog. Needless to say there was an incident between Pong and Charlotte regarding a cracker, I managed to grab him in the process of trying to attack her, got bitten, and he was thrown down the basement stairs. I contacted the Shih Tzu rescue of Denver that night.

The lady at the rescue made me feel horrible. Like I was abandoning my dog and was not doing enough to make it work. I already had remorse and guilt up the yin yang, but my child's safety came first. Not to mention the dog's. I mean, I threw him down the stairs!!! But, she agreed to take him that week-end. I cried the entire drive into Denver (an hour), but once we signed the paper work giving up ownership and placed him in his new foster home's car, there was nothing but relief. He was stressed, we were stressed, no one was happy, except perhaps Cookie.

I miss having a dog. I miss the familiarity of a canine companion greeting you like a god when you come in the door. Having a dog is a small deterrent to robbers. And of course Cookie constantly talks about getting a dog. She says things like "when we get my doggy". I told her she has to be at least 5 before we get a dog, I want her and #2 to understand that animals have feelings, that they are to be treated well. And of course, I want to be done with diapers before I take on more poop.

My neighbor has two yappy chihuahuas. They are just as bad if not worse than Pongy ever was. The difference is, my neighbor has done nothing to fix their behavior. She coddles them and pets them when they try to attack someone. I hate her dogs. They yap at everyone who walks by, and frankly I now understand what people felt toward my evil little Pongy. I would like to believe that he is off running around in a beautiful back yard and loved by some little old lady. But really they probably had to put my poor angry little beast down. Our pets are our family, and sometimes I feel I let Pongy down, but really I would have been remiss to allow such an evil little dog around my children. Inevitably he would have bitten one of them, leaving them scared for life. Hopefully when we manage to get past the horror that was Pong and take the Pooch plunge again, it will go better.

Monday, July 27, 2009

#1 toilet paper changer


Have you ever had the feeling that you alone are the only person that changes the toilet paper roll? I get that feeling all the time. We have four bathrooms in our house and I once changed the roll in all four in one day. All FOUR were empty. While there are only two of us who really use the T.P. or can actually change it. Hubby just doesn't. He will leave the roll completely empty. Or my favorite, on little itty bitty piece so he can claim there was some left on it. He uses T.P. once maybe twice a day, being a guy, so when it is out, I just don't think he thinks to change it. In the great scheme of things, his failure to change the roll is nothing but a mild inconvenience. I've just learned to keep my bathrooms well stocked with T.P. that is in easy reach to change while sitting on the toilet.

But there are times that I think I am the lone T.P. changer where ever I go. The doctor's office, a friends house, a department store, I have changed the roll more times than I can count. Maybe I am a little anal retentive when it comes to making sure the T.P. is actually on the roll and not just sitting on top of the T.P. dispenser. Really though, it's about sanitary conditions. Who wants to use a loose roll of T.P. knowing that it has been possible that it has been rolling around on some public restroom's floor. Yuk! So for those of you who are lazy T.P. people, take the extra minute and put the stupid roll in the dispenser for cleaner bottoms everywhere. Or just my sanity.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sympathy pain

Hubby suffers from sympathy pregnancy symptoms. I am serious. He gains weight, has all kinds of cravings, and even suffers from some of the same stomach ailments that plague us pregnant women. This can been seen as sweet, funny, and even mildly annoying. Annoying when one is so tired all you want to do is crawl into the fetal position and pass out from exhaustion, leaving your toddler in your partner's capable hands, but said hubby is also not sleeping well, and has passed out before you were able to hand off the parenting baton. Sweet, as it makes him a little more apt to be sympathetic to my ailments.

So here I am, so tied I want to cry, my toddler refuses to nap because she overheard a conversation on the phone that we may or may not get to see her favorite friends after naptime today, and hubby is passed out in the basement after a fitful night of not sleeping. Hubby came to bed as Cookie and I were getting up. So, once again, I am overheated, overtired, and overly pregnant, with yet, another day of no relief.

I am not sure that those who have not been pregnant understand what the "due date" actually means. It is one of those goals that we all strive to meet, but never want to go over. If we are slightly earlier than said "due date" awesome. If we go beyond, someone needs to pay. We are not sure who, but I think everyone who comes in contact with us pays with our misery. I didn't realize how anxious I was to get to 38 weeks, 2 days because that was when Cookie decided to grace us with her presence. I was not sleeping, hubby still is not sleeping, and even Cookie could feel the tension. Well the date has come and gone, and there is some kind of relief knowing that #2 is doing her own thing.

In the womb Cookie was brutal. She used to beat me up to the point that you could see bruises on my abdomen. I would actually get angry at her, the kicks were so strong and painful. It is no wonder that Cookie came out early. Before putting her in a toddler bed, Cookie would yell to get "Out Out" and now she just jiggles her door handle yelling it. I think she was saying the same thing in the womb. #2 is blessedly mellow. She kicks and squirms and pushes, but rarely do her movements hurt me like Cookie's did. So I am thinking, Cookie was so discontent in the womb, therefore, she came early. #2 is blissfully content in there, so will she come closer to 40 weeks? Maybe 41? I am amazed at how ones body prepared them for the lack of sleep that is coming. But right now, in this moment, I am annoyed at hubby for getting to nap, while I am struggling to stay awake, because Cookie can't sleep.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Green Living

After we had Cookie, I really wanted to start living a more economical, cleaner, less wasteful life. I started making Cookie's food, breast fed the first 13 months, switched to a better laundry detergent, and put Cookie in cloth diapers. We were also only driving one car. When weather permitted, I rode my bike, pulling Cookie behind me in the bike trailer. But, there are some things I have been reluctant to give up or have failed at miserably.

First, we bought a mini-van last month. I love it. It makes life so much easier than driving my husbands manual Subaru WRX. While his car is fun to drive, it is hard to get kids in and out, not to mention the lack of trunk space for all that baby stuff like a stroller. So we now have two cars. And one only gets 19 miles to the gallon!!!

Second, Cookie refused to wear the cloth diapers at 18 months. She is in panties and has been for a while, but we still put her in disposables for nap and bedtime. I hate disposables, but they do hold more wet, and when your child is a heavy wetter and wakes up at 2 in the morning because the cloth diaper is soaked through and all you want to do is sleep, disposables seem wiser and easier. So part of the reason Cookie decided that Cloth was not acceptable was that the disposables had Sesame Street on them. I am not much of a name brand person, but when it comes to diapers, I have tried many and Pampers have worked best for us. The character tie in drives me nuts. Cookie wants to know what character is on the diaper I am putting her in. She has her favorite, Zoe, and her least favorite, Elmo. In fact, there have been some two year old tears over not having the right character on the diaper. She has some other quirks w/ diapers which may be a good topic for tomorrow. Anyway #2 will be in disposables until her cord comes off and she fits into the cloth All-In-Ones. Disposables may come back as she starts to sleep longer at night.....for her well being and mine:)

And last but not least is our excessive use of paper towels. I will use a hand towel most of the time after I wash my hands or do dishes in the kitchen and in the bathroom. I also used cloth wipes for Cookie at meals to wipe her down....until about 18 months, then it was the Sam's Club wipes. I am ashamed to admit that I love using wipes, they are so convenient and easy. Not to mention, Cookie loves to use them. But I am not the real culprit of the paper towel wastage. It is hubby. We literally go through almost a roll a day. He loves to use paper towels. For some reason he will not wash his hand in the bathroom after use, but uses the kitchen sink when on the main floor. He will then dry his hands w/ said paper towels and then, this is the kicker, leaves the used, wet paper towel sitting on the kitchen counter. He has yet to make an effort to place them in the trash can. One day he came to an amazing epiphany as he was leaving, yet another used towel on the counter, that he was being a jerk, not placing the towel in the trash can, but leaving it for me to clean up. Do you think he has changed? NO. But at least he recognized what an ass he was being. Anyway, in a previous post I posted a pick of hubby w/ Cookie making play dough. I also posted the kitchen after he was done making the play dough. A huge portion of the mess was the pile of used paper towels. Literally half a roll! He loves them, and while I would love to attempt to switch completely to cloth kitchen wipes, I think hubby just may rebel.

So, Colorado living has made us a little bit more Eco conscious. But we are far from being "Green". Maybe one day we will be able to get over some of those bad habits like paper towels, my swifer wet jet disposable cleaning wipes, and the two car household. But for now, we do what we can.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Brain Fart

Have you ever had a brain fart? It happens to me all the time. I was going to do something and then forget what it was when I leave the room. I meticulously clip coupons make a list for the grocery store, only to leave it all at home. Well that is what happened with today's blog. Major brain fart.

I had something well written in my head as I was making dinner, and then poof it was gone. I am pretty sure it was brilliant beyond compare. Everyone would ooh and ahh over my insight. Really I can't remember what it was. It is driving me insane. Of course many things happened since dinner was being prepared. I served Cookie and hubby, we ate dinner (interrupted by not one, but two potty breaks for Cookie), clean-up time (dinner and toys), bath time, picture time, bed time (hubby fell asleep on the couch after dinner, gave him bedtime reprieve), and then I sat down to write and it was gone.

I tried the, go back to where you had the thought, and nothing. Really what was it? It must not have been that great if I can't even remember what the topic was. Maybe I am just so preoccupied with the whole when is this baby going to come that my brain isn't really functioning at tip top level. Maybe tomorrow it will come back to me.

Thousand Words Thursday

How long will this last? My very helpful little girl

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I've been outsmarted by my 2 year old

Cookie has nightmares. Mostly when she is sick or after shots, but sometimes she will have a bout of them. Night after night of waking and screaming. So as any mother might do, I turned to my mom for advice. She suggested that as I am putting Cookie to bed I tell her that under no circumstances is she to dream about dogs or cats, or whatever I think she would really love to dream about. Of course I followed her suggestion and had good results.

So what's the problem? Nothing really, it is now a game of course. Cookie says, "No dream about????" and I have to fill in the blank every night, and now sometimes throughout the day. As cute as this game is, I have discovered how devious my 2 year old is. For example last night, I said, "No dreaming about bikes." Cookie responded, "But I can dream about wheels and pedals." I kid you not. She was quite smug when she made this pronouncement. Hubby said he told her she couldn't dream about flowers. Cookie asked what color flowers. He said, "yellow". She responded, "I can dream about orange flowers and blue flowers."

While we find these responses creative and kinda cute.....we also think that this just a prelude to tough times ahead with this little girl. She already is so independent, willful, and kinda devious. Maybe she will be a lawyer who discovers loop holes in the law. Or maybe a white collar criminal who finds loop holes to break the law. As it is, at age 2, Cookie is finding loop holes in our play and in rules at home. "Don't stand on that table" can be interpreted literally, instead she will sit on it, "not standing on it" she will exclaim with a smile. I know that she knows that it is not okay to sit on it, but until I tell her not to, she will do it. I'm just glad hubby was just as devious, he usually can see the wheels in her head turning before I can. I just hope I can instill some honesty in this not so honest little person before I release her into the world. I definitely will not be that mom who tells the teacher, "My child would never lie."