Friday, May 30, 2008

Calling all Top Chefanatics . . .

My love for the reality programs of Bravo remains strong, and I have delighted in this season of Top Chef, especially since it took place practically in my backyard (well, my yard is not really that big, but the cheftestants shopped at a Whole Foods I can walk to and lived in a McMansion behind a Jewel where I actually grocery shop). I have had one reader request for a post on Top Chef, and while I'm not quite ready to deliver, I do want to direct all Top Chefanatics to my friend E's recent post on Top Chef and the cruel tricks the Bravo editors play on their viewers. I highly recommend checking the post out. I left a long and largely incoherent comment in which I share some of my own Top Chef Chicago insights. Until my next post, please heed these pieces of wisdom I have gleaned from Top Chef: vegetarian sushi made with fake rice is not a filling lunch for a Chicago cop; avoid frozen scallops at all costs; peanut butter mashed potatoes may not taste as wretched as they sound.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Retail Beat: Italian and on a Whim

Back again with another Retail Beat so soon? Well, what can I say, I've always been passionate about food and my intensifying nesting instincts (post on this phenomenon to come) have propelled me toward Target several times lately . . .

Here are some things I have purchased and enjoyed lately that might be of interest to you:

Item: California Pizza Kitchen For One
Source: The Jewel or your own regular grocery store
Price: on sale 4/$10

I have always loved dining in at CPK, despite the fact that they have Diet Pepsi rather than my preferred Diet Coke on tap. I often crave the Barbecue Chicken Chopped Salad and have never sampled a pizza there that I did not enjoy. From time to time, I have purchased the CPK frozen pizzas. Each time, I follow the directions for those who prefer a "crispier crust," forgetting that these directions result in a burnt pizza in my oven. Ah well. I've made no secret of my love for single serving pizzas utilizing special microwave crisping technology. Thus, you can imagine how delighted I was to see that CPK now makes "For One" microwave pizzas. Since I'm in the midst of another Lean Cuisine dry spell, I was even more delighted to see that the pizzas were on sale 4/$10. I purchased several Margherita ones and several Barbecue Chicken ones. Although they have more calories than Lean Cuisine pizzas, these CPK minis are tasty and convenient. I'm not sure I would pay $3.99 or $4.29 for one, but I will continue to stock up when I see them on sale. There is also a Sicilian variety, but I did not buy any of those.

Item: Wyler's Authentic Italian Ices
Source: CVS (Bub's favorite store)
Price: $1.88 for 16

These Italian Ices look like Flavor-Ice popsicles (you know, in the plastic tube) but have the wonderful texture of Italian Ice. The package includes four each of raspberry, orange cream, lemon, and kiwi watermelon. Each flavor is delicious, though raspberry is my favorite (and the Bub's). They are only 50 calories each, and they are quite refreshing. My CVS displays them with the seasonal summer stuff like picnic plates and beach toys and such.

Item: Trader Giotto's Tabula Rasa Whole Grain Pizza Crust
Source: Trader Joe's (my new favorite store)*
Price: $2.99

I've taken to buying these crusts and topping my own pizzas of late, in part to satisfy my incessant cravings for basil. TJ's also sells pizza dough you can roll out and bake, but that is frankly too much work for me. I prefer just to cover the blank slate and pop it in the oven. The crust has a nice texture and is rather filling. There is a white crust also available, but I prefer to feel virtuous and slightly superior while topping the whole grain crust. Even the hubby seemed satisfied with tonight's effort: whole grain pizza crust with pizza sauce (also from TJ's), mushrooms, caramelized onions, sweet basil (told you) sausage, mozzarella, and fresh basil (told you) from my own garden, NTB. The hubby's praise is significant because the last time I made him a pizza (around 1999-2000), he was not as appreciative as he should have been, citing my use of a Boboli crust as "cheating." Cheating whom or what, I don't know.

Item: Bare Minerals Makeup
Source: Siren (the hair salon where I jeopardize Bub's college tuition every 7 weeks in a "vain" attempt to keep my gray hair covered--and it's really gray not just like five strands, just a warning for anyone who ever tries to tell me a "I found my first gray hair" sob story. I found my first gray hair in high school).
Price: around $75 for a starter kit that includes all the basics plus brushes

The hubby bought me this makeup for my birthday (along with that paper shredder I bragged about a couple of months ago) though I was the one who conducted the entire transaction. I have to say I was suspicious of mineral makeup when I used to see it on infomercials in years past, but I have been won over. It is really easy to use. I really appreciate not having to wash my hands during the process as I did when I applied more traditional foundation each day. I would say the $75 is worth it. I'm estimating that this starter kit is going to last me at least six months. NTB, but I have gotten some compliments on my "good skin" lately. Now, these kind remarks may just come from people who don't know what else to say when faced with my low and every-growing baby bulge, but I'll take any compliments I can. A lot of malls now have Bare Minerals make-up stores in them, and I would recommend checking them out. They can make you up and give you lessons if you're interested.

Item: Whim by Cynthia Rowley tableware
Source: Target
Price: ranges depending on the item, but not prohibitive

I saw these items in a Target ad a few weeks ago and, despite having plenty of dishes already, purchased a few pieces. I have to say that the purchase was worth it. These little plates and cups (and the matching tablecloth) have brought a nice touch of spring into my breakfast nook. I feel happy when I look at them. I have been using the plates for almost every meal, and since they are smaller, salad-size plates, I am likely losing weight in the effort (not really, but you know how all the magazine articles tell you that will happen if you use smaller plates). The lighting is poor in the picture beneath, but here's a glimpse:

Item: Thomas the Train helmet

Source: Toys 'R Us
Price: I don't know, the hubby and bubby went to get it.

Actually, I'm not about to extol the virtues of this helmet. As far as I can tell, it is no better or worse than any other toddler helmet. Listing this item is just an excuse to include the following picture of the bub on his tricycle. NTB, but his little legs are now long enough to pedal (though dad still has to steer and push from time to time).

Okay, that's all I have to report. Please believe that my life is not as fueled by consumerism as recent posts suggest.

*I love Trader Joe's and the Bub loves it as well, especially the sample station where there is usually a juice dispenser all set up and the free balloon on the way out. Tough luck this morning though--the juice on offer was "unsweetened iced tea" and he let his red balloon go in the backyard on accident. He was devastated (wailing and wailing and wailing), only to be consoled by half of a Wyler's Authentic Italian Ice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oui, oui, so fit will wii be!

The combination of scarcity and demand makes me nervous. I am more than willing to wait in line for something I want, but I want that line to be part of an organized, efficient, fair system. I abhor the practice of line cutting.* I rarely attend concerts, in part because the whole waiting or calling for tickets thing provokes too much anxiety for me. I hate the nervous feeling that I am not going to get what I need or, rather, what I want. Like most American consumers, I don't want to be left out.

I can still remember the Cabbage Patch craziness of the early 1980's. Over the course of year or so, my mom managed to nab each of us a Cabbage Patch that was then gifted on a special occasion. I received "Megan Cissie" (her real name) for my birthday in, I believe, third grade. That same year, my mom also managed to score a doll for my cousin's (her goddaughter's) first communion, and to give it to her all dressed in white and with a wreath of flowers in her hair. I didn't really enjoy playing with dolls so much. I preferred reading books. However, I did take pleasure in possessing a Cabbage Doll (and later, two others that I bought with "my own money") and buying accessories for her. And, I was definitely in awe of my community's Cabbage Patch Queen. The mother of one of my friends honestly had some kind of Cabbage Patch obsession. I don't know if she was sleeping with someone at Toys R' Us or if she spent the entire time her kids were at school traveling to and/or calling all the local toy, discount, and department stores. Whatever she did, this woman always knew when stores were getting shipments of Cabbage Patch dolls. She ran a sort of baby ring out of her split level, selling dolls to slightly desperate parents for a mark-up (though, to be fair, I don't think she gouged people). The dolls were more than commodities to her though, I think. When I spent the night with her daughter, I had ample time to appreciate the china cupboard in which she displayed at least 40 (unboxed) dolls. So many dolls and so valuable, I used to marvel. I think I was under the impression that with a collection like that, my friend and her family were probably set for life. Sadly, we haven't kept in touch so I wouldn't know.

I have my doubts though. I don't think my mom or I could locate any of my CPKs. The bub does enjoy carrying around Larry Alfie, the hubby's Cabbage Patch, which my mother-in-law did save. Two years ago, someone bought Fancy a Cabbage Patch for her birthday. I think these days they cost under $20 and are fairly easy to obtain.

All of this is just preface to my latest experience with the push-pull of demand and scarcity. My husband read a very positive review of the Wii Fit in the Wall Street Journal, and we were both inspired. We don't belong to a gym, and we have minimal at-home exercise equipment, fairly low motivation, and some excess poundage. The Wii Fit sounded tempting. I personally imagined it would be the key to my post-partum efforts to reclaim my body. Of course, before you can use a Wii Fit, you need a Wii system. Longtime readers might recall that a young whippersnapper at the Jewel once seemed to think I was so old and/or uncool that I would not have heard of the Wii. I've been aware of the Wii for over a year now, NTB. The hubby and I have talked about getting one before but never really tried to track one down.

Then, we heard about the Wii Fit and decided to go for it. I put out some feelers, and the neighbor of LAP and her husband used something called Wii tracker, I think, to find out that they were available at Circuit City. I was able to reserve and pay for the Wii online on Sunday evening. I decided I would pick it up today: the day when the Wii Fit was scheduled to arrive in stores. I didn't have particularly high hopes for obtaining a Wii Fit. I tried not to get worked up into a frenzy of the sort scarcity/demand situations can breed. Eight months pregnant, I obviously have a good couple of months to get through before I will be watching a digital version of myself doing aerobics on our basement television. Nevertheless, on my way to the Skokie Circuit City, I did stop in at Target to check for a Wii Fit. It was 9:30 a.m. (Target opens at 8:00) and the shelf was bare. I was neither surprised nor overly disappointed. I drove to Circuit City. I got out of the car and headed to the door. I noticed the door was locked and realized, to my delight, that Circuit City did not open until 10:00. There were two men standing outside. Small talk ensued. Yes, we all were there for a Wii Fit (though, in my mind, the main purpose of the trip was to pick up the Wii system I had reserved online). Others started heading toward the door. We formed an orderly line. I looked around nervously, wondering if the line would stay intact or if people would make a run for it and dare to trample the pregnant girl. The door opened three minutes later. We walked as a line to the service desk, and five minutes later, I had one of the twelve Wii Fits that had been allotted to the Skokie Circuit City and a receipt. All in all, it was a pleasant, low-anxiety transaction. Good for me.

As for whether or not wii will really be fit . . . I'll keep you posted.

*Likewise, I become indignant when people try to drive on the shoulder in a traffic jam and then edge their way in further up the road. Similarly, on our honeymoon, I got fired up by the fact that if you wanted a good chair by the pool, it was acceptable policy--at the Four Seasons no less (and NTB)--to allow one person to save eight or so chairs that might then go unclaimed for hours.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Countess de Cool Whip

I can't whip cream. I have tried and failed on three occasions. I'm not looking for any tips (yes, I chilled the bowl first and blah, blah, blah), just confessing a shortcoming. Someday I'll try again. Until then, I will be using canned whipped cream and/or the whipped topping that never, ever lets me down: Cool Whip.

I've always loved Cool Whip. It is a key ingredient in the Watergate Salad I adore. I have spent more time than I care to admit surfing the web for more salad recipes that call for Cool Whip. I enjoy topping individual pudding cups with it. Some evenings, I steal a few of the Bub's strawberries and add some Cool Whip. My sister makes a kick ass dessert called Eclairs (in the spirit of the French pastry, but different) that features Cool Whip. Yum.

My mom was in town this weekend for a lovely wedding shower in honor of one of my cousins. My youngest brother and dad came to town as well, and last night we had a great time at a cookout at my aunt and uncle's house. My mom and I volunteered to bring dessert. Admittedly, my mom did all the actual preparation (plus the extra work involved with letting the Bub "help"), but I did choose the desserts and go with her to the store. NTB. Anyway, they both involved Cool Whip, and they were both well-received. The first was a sort of chocolate peanut butter pie called Patti Cake, that is a favorite in the family of PITA's in-laws. If you want the recipe, email me, but I could not find a link to it and am too lazy to retype it here (plus, I think it comes from a restaurant somewhere in the Greater Albany area, and I don't want to get sued or something). Bottom line: it is easy to make and quite tasty.

The second dessert was a last minute replacement for the Brownies my mom could not make because some of the ingredients she had brought from Ohio were in my dad's car, which was at a golf course 45 minutes away. This second dessert was initially chosen because I thought I had every ingredient in my pantry for it. Turned out, I was wrong and we had to make another trip to the store, but it was a good choice anyway. If you are looking for an easy, summer dessert, look no further than this recipe for Mandarin Cake.* The only adjustment we made to the recipe at the link was to adorn the top of the cake with additional mandarin oranges.

Top Chef-worthy? No. But tasty all the same. NTB.

*There are actually many versions of this recipe at -- the one we used said to serve with orange sherbet, but we did not do so.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two (Green) Thumbs Up!

I won't bore you with the backstory again, but this spring I have written about starting a salad project, continuing the salad-bration, and discovering that I might perhaps be a green goddess. Now, I have no choice but to step up and fill the green goddess role definitively. You see, the baby . . . he loves basil. Can't get enough in fact. Kicks and wiggles like crazy each time I eat it, sending a clear message of "more, more." Two weeks ago, at my brother's graduation lunch, I ordered a panini with mozzarella, fresh basil, pesto sauce, and tomato. Week before last, I made a lovely pizza on a Trader Joe's whole wheat crust with tomato sauce, carmelized onions, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Last week, I ate three Caprese salads. I ate pasta with pesto sauce for dinner Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights of this week. Last Friday, I watched the sandwich episode of Oprah and have been dreaming ever since of a sandwich featured on the show: a grilled cheese made with fontina, havarti, tomato, honey, and fresh basil. I am recalling that my favorite stir fry sauce at Flattop is Spicy Lime Basil and plotting a time when I can eat there. My mom, dad, and the Intern will be in town this weekend, and I am already planning to order a Margherita pizza from my beloved Pizza Rustica (family members, if you're reading, don't worry, we'll order several different pizzas). Yes, I tend to get obsessive when it comes to food habits and cravings, but in this case, I don't believe it's my obsessive personality coming through. The love of basil is hormonal or maternal or something. I'm just trying to meet Bub 2.0's needs, and he needs basil.

The intensity of my craving for basil has coincided with my recent attempts to be, if not exactly frugal, more conscientious in my spending. What's more, the intensity of my craving is so strong that I actually had the very un-MEP-like idea that I might grow my own basil. Aside from the nearly indestructible begonias I plant in the flower boxes on my deck each spring, I never have the urge to grow anything (excepting baby boys, it seems). So today, when at Trader Joe's, it seemed like fate when I saw a basil plant. I promptly put it in the cart. Then, I got caught up in the idea of myself as a real green goddess and added a mint plant and a parsley one as well. I realize that buying these plants is not exactly equivalent to "growing my own basil," but if I actually manage to tend them enough to keep them alive and then have the courage to eat something that has been growing on my own kitchen island, I will truly consider myself a green goddess.

I think I am already getting carried away with my own future goddess status because over the weekend--even before I secured the basil plant--I interviewed my father-in-law about how I might go about growing tomatoes in the back yard. It's like I don't recognize myself anymore. Who is this green-thumbed earth mother goddess figure? They don't appear to sell tomato plants at Trader Joe's so this next project will require a bit more effort on my part, but I think I can pull it off. The hubby, who hates tomatoes, insists that he can help and that he knows exactly what to do. We shall see.

So, I'll keep you posted on the cravings and all the growth around here. Until then, enjoy the photo of my new herb garden. And those of you who already are green-thumbed goddesses, if you have any tips for keeping my herbs alive, planting tomatoes, or using fresh basil in cooking . . . please share them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fancy Dancer, Fancy Fairfield

The weekend before last when the hubby, a man-pri-wearing bubby, and I traveled to Ohio, we had the pleasure of celebrating my brother The Intern's college graduation and of attending the dance recital of our niece "Fancy" (four years old today, NTB!). My mom (aka "Grammy") watches Fancy and her sister Swiper on most Mondays while LAP builds her bookkeeping empire. Grammy did some research and realized that Fancy was old enough to take a "Beginner Ballerina" class on Mondays. Fancy really enjoys taking the classes, and Swiper enjoys watching her big sister take the classes. All reports indicate that both girls enjoy a post-class lunch at McDonalds with Grammy and Papa.

Fancy's first recital was back in December and, unfortunately, I was not able to attend. I have seen the videotape of her performance several times though and have been impressed with Fancy's dancing and with the fact that through repeated viewings of the recital video, Swiper was able to master the entire routine as well. Indeed, the real joy of watching the recital DVD comes in watching a very focused and jubilant Swiper do each step of the routine to match her on-screen sister. Pretty darn cute, NTB.

When I found out that Fancy's recital was on graduation weekend and did not conflict with the actual graduation, I was delighted. You see, until two weeks ago, I had never actually attended a dance recital. I did take jazz and tap for one year, and my mom did in fact order the aqua and silver-sequined recital costume for me. Then, it turned out that the dance recital and my piano recital were scheduled for the same day. As I had been taking piano for a couple years already and perhaps because my parents knew before I did that I lacked the coordination to really succeed as a dancer,* the decision was made that I would participate in the piano recital.

Beyond my own lack of coordination and, to employ a DWTS term, "musicality," another factor informing the decision for me to skip the dance recital might have been the fact that my dance studio was of the trailer park variety. Now, I don't mean to use the descriptor "trailer park" in a snide, classist manner. Rather, I am stating a truth. The studio where I took my dance lessons was actually housed in a trailer (one of about ten or so trailers, both commercial and residential, that were parked near one of my town's elementary schools). I'm sure the instruction was just fine (indeed, I still know some of the steps to the tap routine) but the setting did not exactly inspire expectations of professionalism or elegance.

Fancy is a frequent visitor to Fairfield, OH, but is not growing up there as her mother and I did. I love my hometown and still consider it a wonderful place to grow up and in which to raise a family. When I visit now, I have to marvel at Fairfield's new "fancy" attractions. Rather than taking Fancy to a trailer for dance lessons, Grammy drives her to the Fairfield Community Arts Center. No such clean, well-designed, community building existed when I was young. This arts center is located in something called The Village Green, which includes a park, a state-of-the-art library, an Applebee's, a place called Symmes Tavern, statues, landscaping, an outdoor amphitheater, my personal flagship Kroger store, and shopping (to be honest, the shopping is not much to speak of--Fashion Bug, Dollar Tree, Radio Shack, and Hallmark are the main attractions . . . but still, the idea of downtown shopping is nice). Best of all, The Village Green houses a Fairfield location of Flub's (an ice cream place that deserves and will get its own post sometime this summer). After the recital, we all walked over to Flub's for celebratory cones. Pretty sweet, NTB.

But back to the recital. All of Fancy's numbers were just adorable. Her class is made up of 3 and 4 year-olds, and they definitely do their own thing on stage. Some girls do the actual routine, though perhaps a few beats behind the music and their teachers (who enthusiastically dance in the wings). Some prefer just to stand on stage and stare at their toes. Some pick their wedgies. Some pick their noses. Some just smile. I thought Fancy offered an exquisite combination of consistent smiling and semi-consistent dance moves. Most all of the dancers appeared to be having fun and this was definitely not a heavy-makeup-pageant-dress sort of recital--almost no blush or glitter in sight. I smiled and laughed and really enjoyed the entire event. I also now know that there exists in the world a sort of lycra sock that can be fashioned to fit over a tap shoe and then pulled up to look like a white go-go boot. I think the five and six year olds were wearing these amazing sock boots, and I have to say that I was mighty impressed and hope that Fancy gets a crack at some of those in a few years.

The rest of the day with Fancy Dancer in Fancy Fairfield, I will narrate with some photos.

Fancy striking a pose while Grammy did some pre-show day alterations on her costume.

Swiper and Bub were angels throughout the recital. They alternated between watching with rapt attention, doing their own hand motions along to the music, and standing in front of their seats dancing their little booties off. My purse was packed with fruit snacks and suckers, and the Bub did not require a one. He made it through the entire first half and Fancy's numbers post-intermission before the hubby had to take him to the lobby to run around.

The dancing was so inspiring that Bub felt moved to be "Footloose" during the recital. Let's hear it for the boy . . .

Sweet, sweet Fancy.

Swiper touches the stage and dreams of the Fall when she too will enroll in the Beginner Ballerina class.

Bub enjoys his Flub's in the Fancy Fairfield Village Green.

A very fancy day indeed.

*Further evidence of my lack of coordination is the fact that at the end of fifth grade, I tried out to be a sixth grade cheerleader -- there were 8 spots and 11 girls, and I did not make the cut. You will be happy to know that I survived this setback and have gone on to make a pretty nice life for myself, despite not being a cheerleader.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Have I been made redundant; or, get out of the way, mom, and let me do "by self"

With Bub 2.0's arrival getting closer and closer, I am both excited and nervous. I can't wait to see what he looks like. I'm eager to hold an infant again. There's a whole pile of really cute new bitty-sized summer clothes just waiting for him (Bub was bitty-sized in winter). It will be a kick to see what little personality emerges and a joy (I hope) to see the Bub fall in love with his little brother.* I am cautiously hopeful that I will have more confidence this time around, that there will be moments when I actually feel like I know what I am doing. When Bub was a baby, I had many moments when the responsibility of caring for him just seemed so massive. I couldn't get over the fact that this little boy could not do a single thing for himself and seemingly would not do so for years . . .

Fast forward 28 months, and the Bub is now phasing me out, or so it sometimes seems. For at least the past month, the Bub has adopted a new mantra. I knew it would happen one day, and it has. The bub wants to do things "by self." He is constantly reminding the hubby and me that he will "do self." Whether it's opening a single-serving container of applesauce, buckling the car seat straps, putting toothpaste on his little Thomas toothbrush, spreading cream cheese on his "bagel-muffy" at Einsteins, applying diaper rash cream before bedtime, putting his socks and shoes on, or squeezing his three dipping sauces on his plate before each meal . . . the bub wants to "do self." Truth be told, he does pretty well with a lot of these tasks, the major exceptions being buckling himself into the car seat and applying diaper rash cream. I am doing my best to be patient and to let him figure things out on his own, though it is sometimes hard to watch him struggle with the foil lid of the Motts or work up a sweat trying to get his head un-stuck from the shirt he is trying to don (offers of "Mommy help?" are often refused).

There are other "by self" moments that are just entertaining. For example, sometimes when the bub is in the grocery cart, he gets the idea in his head that he would prefer to push the cart "by self" . . . while he is sitting in it. He will push my hands off the cart handle and insist on pushing "by self." After twenty second of progress-less rocking, he usually allows me to place my hands back on the cart.

And, of course, there is one major task that I am really ready for him to "do self." Some attempts at potty training are going to start in earnest this coming week, and I will keep you posted.

The other sign that I am may be becoming redundant is a habit the Bub has adopted over the past two weeks. The hubby and bubby enjoy quality time together every morning while I am getting showered and dressed. Some mornings, they just snuggle on the couch, easing into the day with some Barney. Other mornings, they are already practicing bub's football stance and running tackling drills before 7:00 a.m. Whatever they do each morning, they both enjoy the time. One morning last week, I came downstairs, all ready to face the day (showered and possessing the confidence that comes when one does not have to wear Big Teal) and begin the next stage of the Bub's morning routine. The Bub looked at me, pointed his finger upward, and tried to send me packing by saying, "Upstairs. Upstairs." It did not seem like he was joking. It happened a couple of other mornings as well, but I decided not to take it personally.

This week, my mom was in town to allow me some more dissertation time. She and the bub kept themselves busy all day, but I would periodically leave the dissertation command center (i.e., my bed) to come downstairs to say hey. "Upstairs" kept happening, but with a new twist, "Upstairs, mommy. Upstairs. Go work. Work." It would be easy to conclude that the my husband and my mom are more fun than I am, mostly because they are (but I understand that it is easier to be "fun" for shorter, more contained periods of time. I do my best, and I feel pretty good about the job I do.) I guess I could also easily get bent out of shape and emotional, but I don't really believe the bub doesn't want me around or that he doesn't love me. He does love me and I get multiple big, wet kisses each day as proof. Indeed, I have a new and really comforting interpretation of the "Upstairs" command: my intelligent, sensitive, generous child wants to make sure I finish my dissertation in a timely fashion. He wants to see me achieve success and personal fulfillment. He knows how important my contribution to the scholarly conversation about affect and citizenship really is, NTB. What a kid, NTB.

I know in my heart that I haven't been made redundant. I still have years and years of drying tears, kissing boo boos, reading books aloud, cooking chicken nuggets, and dealing with poop in my future. One day, my boys will be all grown up, doing things "by self" that I never dreamed possible back when I was disinfecting bath toys after a code brown. Hopefully, the hubby and I will have the wisdom to see their independence and confidence as signs of our parenting success . . . and hopefully, there will still be just a few things that they can't do completely "by self." We'll be there to ask some more grown-up version of "Mommy help? Daddy help?" Securely into our thirties now, the hubby and I certainly still welcome the help of our own parents. Some day, our parents will need more of our help than they do now. That's how it works, I think, and it's a pretty good system. No one can do everything "by self."

*early signs of big brotherhood include the bub's kissing my belly, placing stickers on my belly "for brother," and crushing up pieces of food and piling them up in my belly button "for brother" . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy 100th DWTS!

Last night marked the 100 episode of DWTS, I have been a fan since the end of season one and feel that I have a vast knowledge of the show. I must say that I have always enjoyed the show...I find myself smiling as the dancers take the floor, watch intently as they dance, wait for the scores, and try to block Samantha Harris' awkward questioning. It is a routine almost. As of late, I find myself just not as engaged as usual. This troubles me just a tidge, just because I have always thoroughly enjoyed it. I am complete fan of Kristi and Mark and Jason and Edyta....but after that I am generally uninterested. Moreover, I am growing sick of the judges. I think they are being unfair and giving scores that simply are not deserved. I admire Christian's attempt to dance while injured...i really do - but there is no way that he deserved "10's" dancing with one arm. Literally the arm was not involved in the dance at all. Additionally, and not to sound like a broken record, but Marissa sucks. Neither of her dances were entertaining, but yet she is the semi-finals. I wasn't overly attached to Mario, but he deserved the semi's over both Christian and Marissa that is for sure.

Now for some of the special features of the 100th episode....Apollo and Julianne did an amazing dance. As ever, I want them to be in love. I dont think that is a reality...but I can hope. Maks and Mel B were back in action and I was pleased to see them as well. I heart Maks and everything that goes with him. They also did a countdown of the top ten dances of all seasons. Overall, I think they picked the best ones, however, they really barted it up when they picked Karina and Mario's Tango as the number one. It wasn't that memorable.

In closing I will say, Len, Bruno, Carrie Anne - the ball is your court, you keep giving high scores to people that don't deserve them and Kristi or Jason go home next week, watch out. You may just lose a viewer....I would tread very lightly if I were you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My son wears man-pris, so what?

Okay, I'll get to the man-pris. First, some backstory that I feel compelled to share. For the first few months of the bub's life, car trips were a total crap shoot. For the first fifteen minutes of any car trip, he typically cried and cried. I can remember driving to the endless pediatrician appointments early in his life and having him wail the entire 13 minutes it took to get there (now I could handle it, but as a new mom who could barely manage to get herself showered and dressed for these appointments--not to mention getting the bub bathed since I seemed to think the doctor was going to call Child Protective Services if she didn't smell baby lotion--these tears were unnerving). On longer car trips, he would eventually fall asleep. As long as he was asleep, we were not stopping that car, no matter how hungry or how badly in need of a restroom stop. On one particularly long trip from Chicago to Cincinnati, the bub would only stop crying when this one particular rattle was aggressively rattled in his face. My dad was driving, I was shotgun, and my mom, bless her heart, shook that rattle like a lunatic for over an hour. And, ah, the good memories of nursing the bub in Burger King parking lots up and down I-65.

Those days are over though, and I am pleased to report that the bub is, for the most part, really good in the car, especially on longer road trips. We bought the portable DVD player (possibly the best $130 dollars we have ever spent). We (well, I) pack the snacks. He's usually good for at least 90 minutes of sleeping as well. Hitting the road is almost relaxing. NTB.

I also make sure that the bub is dressed comfortably for these trips. Nothing hot or bulky (he sweats a lot). Nothing with a rough texture. This morning, I dressed him in his elastic waist Target jeans and t-shirt. These jeans have been washed probably fifty time and are almost paper thin. Of course, by lunchtime, the jeans were unwearable as the bub had jumped in every muddy puddle he encountered on the way from our car to the park district building and then from our garage to our house.

As we were planning to hit the road after lunch (heading to Ohio because The Intern graduates from college this weekend), I needed to find an different, dry, and non-muddy outfit for the car trip. Because it was steamy and almost 70 degrees, I thought another pair of pants might be too hot. I thought about shorts, but then didn't know if he'd be comfortable having the flesh of his legs rubbing together (perhaps I am projecting my own pregnancy body issues upon him). Then, I remembered: the bub has some man-pris! My mom found a pair of gray, lightweight, sweatpant material capri (man-pri) pants at Old Navy that were reduced to $3. They are really, really soft and comfortable and seemed an ideal solution to my pants/shorts debate.

So, the bub is dressed. We pick up hubby at the office. The bubby falls asleep and wakes up a disappointing 50 minutes later. However, he's in a great mood, babbling and taking off his shoes and socks. My husband looks back at one point and reports that somehow the bub has taken off his pants. How he managed to take off his pants while sitting fastened in the car seat is a mystery to me, but he is a resourceful booger, NTB. I look back and he is extremely proud of himself, sitting in the carseat with only a diaper on like a true little hillbilly baby.

We drive a little further and make a pit stop at McDonalds. I change the bub's diaper in the car and get him redressed. This is my husband's first real glimpse of the bub's ensemble, and he is not pleased. He is really disturbed by the man-pris. He is also concerned that the bub is wearing blue socks (hey--they matched his shirt) with his bright white tennis shoes.* He remarks that the bub looks too "European" for his taste. Whatever.

The bub is a prince the rest of the trip. He does remove his shoes and socks once we're back in the car, but he keeps his man-pris on. But my husband still cannot get over the man-pris. He keeps remarking about them, doesn't understand the wardrobe choice, seems like an awkward length, and blah, blah, blah.

So, finally, I'm all, "What's the big deal? They're comfortable pants. I didn't anticipate we'd see anyone we knew at the McDonalds in Remington, IN. I think you're overreacting."

Then, he says, "Well, I just might take a scissors to them so that they're actual shorts and not man-pris. I don't understand why you cut them to that length. I mean, if they were too short, couldn't we just save them for Bub 2.0 to wear?"

My husband thought that I actually took a pair of brand-new sweatpants and purposely turned them into man-pris. He thought that I thought that it would be a cool idea to craft a pair of man-pris for our toddler son.

I explain that they came that way, that my mom bought them for the bub to wear around the house, that they were a bargain, and that, again, they are damn soft and ideal for wearing for a five-hour car trip . . . he seems relieved.

But who knows what the hubby will find the next time he pulls his own prized pair of post-work evening windpants out of his drawer?

*It is worth noting that the bub has HUGE feet and that these tennis shoes are still new and thus bright white. They have velcro straps and remind me of the sort of athletic walking shoes that retired men wear.
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