Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A long, long time ago . . .

. . . I wrote this post about winning a $5 itunes gift card and asked for music suggestions. One sagacious NTB reader offered some advice, "It's a fine balance. You want to think seriously about this decision and pick 5 good songs. Don't be tempted to choose a Color Me Badd song just because you got some freebies. On the other hand, there is the safety net of knowing that do-overs are available, for the low price of 99 cents a piece." Excellent advice, though misplaced insofar as I already own a Color Me Badd CD and thus would not need to waste the gift card on it.*

There are plenty of great song suggestions in the comments of that post, and I have used a more recent $15 itunes gift card to buy some of them, as well as some others recommended by the good folks at Entertainment Weekly. I will be offering my thoughts on this new playlist in an upcoming post.

I thought you might be interested in knowing what songs, when left to my own devices, I have purchased (with credit card and/or gift cards) for my ipod:

Ashlee Simpson "Autobiography" -- bought this several years ago, but I still kind of like it.

Big George Wembley "The Office UK Theme Tune -- Handbags and Gladrags"

Britney Spears "Lucky" -- recent purchase

Cat Stevens "Tea for the Tillerman" -- because it is the theme for Extras on HBO -- apparently Ricky Gervais is quite the musical influence for me

David Cassidy "I Think I Love You" -- purchased a few months ago after seeing him on Oprah and remembering I liked this song

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova "Falling Slowly" -- because I loved the movie Once

Sly and the Family Stone "Que Sera, Sera" -- purchased several years ago, though not the version I wanted, inspired by my cousin's choice to dance with her dad to this song at her wedding

Lionel Richie "I Call It Love" -- love Lionel Richie, when I listen to this song I imagine that I am roller skating and feel happy

Carole King "Where You Lead" -- reminds me of Gilmore Girls and of my friend Sara G. and her daughter who like to sing it together

The Jets "You Got It All" -- not as great as the version recorded by my friends and I at Kings Island Soundtracks around 1988 or so, but still . . .

Sheryl Crow "Strong Enough" -- have to like a song with the word "hell" in it

Helen Reddy "I Am Woman" -- for when I need to feel fired up, my mom and I used to sing this in the car all the time

Helen Reddy "Candle on the Water" -- Actchy and Dr. Molly, you may recall that I once asked you guys to sing this at my wedding (many years before I had a groom in mind)

CaraBee, your post inspired this post! Thanks!

So, there you go NTB readers, draw whatever inferences you wish from this list. But do tell: what are you listening to these days?

*Color Me Badd CD is not loaded on to our itunes . . . not yet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Party Doll Baby

Little Bit hit the seven month mark a few days ago and continues to be a delight. Yes, the perfect storm of congestion, teething, and excessive snot has rendered him a bit more fussy than usual the past week or so, but his uncharacteristic irritability of late only reminds me of what a sweet, easygoing baby he is on the whole. I am truly thankful. And yes, truth be told, a regular afternoon nap would be welcome (though he is, for the most part, settling down in the morning pretty well), but again, he is usually pretty darn pleasant when awake, not to brag. Again, I am thankful. Now, if he decided he only wanted to get up once during the night to eat (or not at all), I wouldn't argue . . .

Some tidbits about Little Bit at this stage:
1. One of his favorite past times continues to be looking at and trying to play with his big brother Bub. I was doing a few things in the kitchen earlier this evening, and Little Bit was chilling in the exersaucer and cackling with delight as Bub applied "lotion" to his hair. I knew Bub did not have access to actual lotion so I was not that worried, but I did ask, "Where did you get the lotion, Bub?" His answer: "From my mouth." Lucky Little Bit.

2. I keep using the phrase "like a lumberjack" to describe Little Bit's tendency to pass gas. To be fair to lumberjacks, I do not know that their farts are more frequent or more intense than those of others. What I want to convey is that Little Bit passes gas of the sort that you would associate with a large, strapping man who likes to eat stew with beans. We used to check his diaper each time we encountered the stench, but now we never bother because it's always just gas.

3. Little Bit loves to sit up and, like all babies his age, loves to put anything he can find into his mouth. The past few bath nights, he has joined Bub in the bathtub. He has been loving the chance to splash and to explore a whole new set of toys for chewing.

4. Little Bit has two bottom teeth, a half of a front tooth, another front tooth just below the surface, and another tooth announcing itself on the bottom. Favorite teething toy: mom's finger.

5. He is eating cereal and some baby food, but so far we're only doing one meal a day. I'm going to have to figure out how to get him to eat more food because he now gets so distracted when it's time to nurse that I fear he's not eating much that way. Why nurse when you can smile at your mom, stop to see what your brother is doing, peek at the television, or pull you mom's hair? Also, sometimes at night when I'm feeding him before sleep, he does this odd thing where he starts moving his arm up and down over and over. He eventually gets tired of it, but it makes the feeding a little less relaxing for me.

6. He loves to laugh and "talk." Obviously, no words, but he makes a ton of sounds and gets really excited. Honestly, it is impossible not to smile when you are around him.

7. He also loves to do the twist in his exersaucer.

We are just enjoying the calm before the storm . . . he'll be crawling soon!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Winter's Tale

Little Bit:
snotty (nose not disposition)
two front teeth about to bust through at any moment
balking at taking infant motrin because he confuses he medicine dropper with the dreaded snot-sucker thing (nasal aspirator?)
enjoys it when we turn bathroom into steam room

worst ear infection ever (for him, not all of humanity) now on the mend
improving ears, yet strangely unable to listen to anything I say the past three days
new and frightening strain of nap resistance detected
caught sucking on Little Bit's nasal aspirator
insisting on playing Christmas CD on his "boom box" at very high volume while I feed Little Bit
new hobby of ripping up tissues and making it snow

I will survive. Someday spring will arrive. Tell me about winter in your little corner of the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


With the exception of my cherished Entertainment Weekly, I have been letting all of my magazine subscriptions lapse. I really love reading magazines, but my penchant for clipping and saving pages has become overwhelming. My magazine clipping collection is evidence of the sort of good intentions that inspired my new blog Just Use It or Lose It. I intend to make the recipes I rip out of these magazines, to read the non-fiction books recommended, to follow the tips on making my abs tighter and my home more energy efficient, to start slashing my grocery bill, to host and decorate for themed parties, and to take steps to protect my family's health and make sure they are eating more healthy fats and whole grains . . . really I do. Unfortunately, such good intentions are littered all about the house.

So, in addition to cutting off my magazine subscriptions when they come due, is to begin releasing some of these clippings. Here goes:

1. O Magazine (not a subscriber, but just had to purchase the issue with Oprah's weight loss/weight gain cover) page featuring the TokyoMilk collection of fragrances. I was drawn in by one called "Let Them Eat Cake" and by the little images the adorn the bottles. O's beauty editors invite me to "Be beguiled!" without letting me know where I might obtain these little gems. And so, I'm over it.

2. Midwest Living's editor's letter for the February 2009 issue. This letter features the editor holding a stack of books with ties to the Midwest. I am a sucker for anything that clues me in to books and authors I might enjoy and so have held on to this page for several weeks now. I am going to add a few titles to the "To Read/Investigate/Consider" list I keep on my laptop desktop and then move on: Summer of Tiffany by Marjorie Hart and Class Ring (cannot read author's name). I have read a few of the books in the stack already, including two reviewed here at NTB: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and She Got Up Off The Couch by Haven Kimmel.

3. Page from Entertainment Weekly's recent article in which industry folks were asked to re-vote on academy award winners from selected past years, including 1988. I was not that interested to learn that the new and entirely unofficial vote has Frances McDormand winning Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Mississippi Burning, as opposed to Geena Davis (the actual winner) for The Accidental Tourist. The reason I saved the page was because I was so surprised to see that Working Girl had been nominated for Best Picture and Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Cusack for their performances in Working Girl. I've always loved that movie, but never thought of it as an Academy Award nominee. Glad to know that.

4. Scrap of paper from unknown women's magazine letting me know about the website -- I tested the site months ago and realized that most of the books I want to unload are pretty much worthless here. It does seem as if people who have textbooks and other nonfiction in really, really good condition might have a chance though.

There it was, the first edition of "Clipped." Do you clip? Do tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"My toe is sick."

Several years ago before we had kids and possibly before we were married, hubby and I were hanging out with some friends at their house after their two young boys were supposed to be in bed. As we were chatting, we heard some little footsteps, turned around, and noticed the older of their sons--maybe around 3 at the time?--creeping down the stairs. "My tummy hurts," he announced. I was concerned for a second until our friends' expressions reminded us that "my tummy hurts" is one of the all-time classic lines for those seeking to stall or avoid a task like going to bed. For some reason, our friends' son's stalling got to me, "They're actual grown ups now," I thought, "with a house and dogs and kids . . . who can already play the 'tummy hurts' card."

Well, guess what, readers, minus the dogs, it seems we're actual grown-ups around here now. The past few weeks, Bub has been honing his stalling and avoidance tactics. Bedtime is already a two-person job. Typically, hubby goes up first and loads the bases -- they read books, play some games I don't understand (like one called "doggies"), and say prayers. Then, four out of five nights, I am the clean-up hitter. First, I am instructed, "Lay in my room mommy." So I lie with Bub on his toddler bed--hoping it won't collapse --for about a minute or two. I then pretend I'm leaving until I hear "Sit in my room, Mommy." I move to the glider and sit. Thirty seconds later, he joins me and we rock for a while. Then he whispers, "Put me in my bed." My job is then to carry him like a baby to the toddler bed, tuck him in, and kiss him good night. That used to be it, but now Bub is learning to mix things up a bit. I may be poised to close his door to head downstairs when I hear a "Mommy . . . Merry Christmas. I love you." Very sweet. And sweet five seconds later when he says it again, and maybe a little less so ten seconds later when he bids me, "Happy Halloween Day." Recently, "Happy New Year is also in the rotation." But we also have some other classics like "I cold." I'll retuck and add a third blanket in response, only to have him call for my husband five minutes later to report, "Too many blankets. Other classic stalling lines, include: "I need Bandaid," "Shh, Larry (Cabbage Patch) is sleeping downstairs," the classic "I thirsty," "I need blow my nose," and my recent favorite, "My toe is sick."

Stalling and avoidance are not just tactics used at bedtime. When it is time to clean up toys, sit on the potty, or leave the house, I am likely to hear either "I cold," "I too tired," or "I working."*

After batting "clean-up" tonight, I still had to head upstairs two additional times. The first time because Bub was "cold." The second time because Bub "really have to go potty now, it coming out." He is wearing big boy pants during the day now but most days still wets one or more pair. He wears a diaper for naps and bedtime. In a charitable mood, I guess, I let Bub come downstairs to use the potty, assuming he was just stalling or that he had already peed in his diaper. But, what do you know, his diaper was dry and he sat down on the potty and did his thing, NTB.

I guess I'm not the only one growing up around here.

What do your kids do to stall and avoid? When do you feel like "a grown up"?

*"Working" usually means making a mess of some kind: cutting/ripping up paper, playing with play-doh, making puzzle pieces rain, emptying the sock bin, etc.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Big Birthday Bubdate!!!

Our Bub is three today, and what a delight he is. He is active, curious, and freakishly strong, the sweetest big brother you ever saw (most of the time), a new but enthusiastic wearer of underwear (several pairs a day for the obvious reasons), and an all around good boy.

The Bub started school this year. Just two hours on two mornings a week, but Bub and Mommy are both enjoying the experience. I love that he gets an opportunity to miss me. Picking him from school makes my day. I watch him playing until he notices me, and then his whole face lights up. Most days, he screams "Mommy!! Mommy!" and runs to me. He sometimes will stand by one of his teachers and point to me and say, with pride, "That my Mommy." He loves his teachers; in fact, if anyone asks about school, the first thing he does is list his teachers' names. He has also learned the sign of the cross and a really sweet little prayer that they say before snack time. He got to lead a few prayers before meals over the holidays, and it was pretty darn cute, ntb. As I fear I will be doing for many years to come, I have to press him to get many specific details about school friends and activities, but I enjoy whatever information I can garner beyond "It was fun." The other day at home, I heard him say "five minute warning, guys," which is an expression I know his teachers use when free play time is almost over. The other day, I tried to pull a "three minute warning, Bub," and he let me know that I am not allowed to say that, only his teacher. Many school days he heads immediately to the train table, but I was the helper yesterday for his birthday and noticed that he mixed it up in the kitchen area and the painting table as well. I was amused that he totally avoided the play-doh table even though he would play play-doh all day every day at home if I did not periodically hide the stuff for my own sanity. He also really enjoys playing with the duplo blocks at school and has, on two occasions, suggested we take one pink duplo block home: "Just one pink one in my backpack."

Speaking of pink, he sometimes names it as his favorite color, but "onange," red, and blue are also answers, depending on the moment. He is not picky about what he wears, except that he is not fond of keeping socks on for very long and is very fond of his new snow boots. He is a bit of a picky eater; he eats his familiar foods no problem, but does not like to try new ones. His proteins are still all dip-able, though recently he has started enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches (though he dips those in ketchup--my fault, I do the same thing). He loves yogurt and yogurt smoothies, most fruits, and any kind of cracker, sweet, or chip that is offered to him. He loves breadsticks from Dominos. As of about two weeks ago, he has finally stopped eating stage 2 baby food peas and sweet potatoes, which had been long time staples in his diet. I think it is more than time, but I also need to start figuring out how to convince him to try vegetables not in mush-form. Inexplicably, except for one time, he will not even try macaroni and cheese. If only I had never tried it!

Bub loves "cookin," and I try to let him help me whenever I can. He does a lot of baking in the bath tub, usually apple pie: "I need the recipe, Mom." Prize-winning pie maker that I am (kidding, I've never made an apple pie), I tell him the steps, and he does all the peeling and mixing. Turns out great every time, ntb. Once when I was on the phone with my mom, I found that during the two minutes when I had assumed he was playing innocently in the back room, Bub had opened the fridge, taken out the egg carton, and cracked five eggs into the sink of his play kitchen: "I cookin." The only thing he consistently asked Santa for was a "Cupcake Maker," but that item deserves and will get its own post soon, complete with photos.

About a month ago, Bub started playing soccer (no games, just practicing skills and having fun, it's called Lil Kickers). He gets dressed up in his "unicorn," and he and Daddy head to the South side of town on Saturday mornings. He has just started swimming lessons as well and seems excited about them so far. Of course, his favorite part of visiting the YMCA is looking in at the daycare area and begging to go in.

Bub loves to sing and dance. Playing DJ with his little CD player is a favorite activity, though he tends to scratch his albums in a less-than-artistic way. He also finds many household items that he calls "flutes" and recently used two straws as his violin. Again, pretty cute, ntb. Bub also loves him a dance party and his favorite tunes for that purpose are "Footloose" and "Let's Hear It for the Boy" -- his titles for those songs are "Loose" and "Mommy's fave-rit."

We learn a lot from our Bub. In the past week, for example, we've learned that miniature snow globe Christmas ornaments will break (and draw blood) if you play with them too energetically and that rubbing alcohol will take ink off of leather furniture (though it slightly lightens the leather).

Mostly we learn that life is good, often messy and exhausting, but really pretty darn good.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hey hey Paula . . .

I don't want to marry you Paula Deen (since we're both married already), though I have always enjoyed you when I happen to catch you on the Food Network. And, last year when you were on Oprah and your food processor malfunctioned and food was a-flying, I cracked up right along with you. I've never made any of your recipes, though many of them do tempt me. Like others who have seen your show(s) or read your magazine, I have noticed that many of your specialties seem gratuitously fattening. I understand that butter, cheese, mayonnaise, and cream cheese are tasty. Believe me, I understand! My assumption is that viewers of your show (like diners--myself included--at fast food restaurants) are responsible for making their own decisions about what kinds of food they choose to eat. After all, you're not pretending that your food is hearty-healthy or "figure friendly," to borrow Rachael Ray's term.

I have to say though, Paula, I caught your show on Saturday when I was feeding my Little Bit. The theme was something about brunch with girlfriends. I saw you make a dish that struck me as downright irresponsible, if not criminal. It was a "Lady's Brunch Burger" -- a hamburger topped with a fried egg and two slices of bacon. I'm watching thinking, "Hmm, a bit heavy on protein" but I'm not disgusted or anything until . . . until, Paula, you used two glazed donuts (looked like Krispy Kreme type donuts) to serve as the buns for this "Lady's Brunch Burger." Are you kidding me? You knew you were being bad; in fact, you and your girlfriend who was hosting with you, laughed at your own rebelliousness as you bit into the burger. You may have even said something about being "arrested" for that burger.

I'm wondering if the "Lady's Brunch Burger" was supposed to be served along with the chocolate chip pancakes with cinnamon cream, the baked cheesy garlic grits, and the six inch yogurt parfait? I eat more and more recklessly than most women I know, and I cannot imagine digging in to that burger, much less serving it at a brunch for my girlfriends.

I like you Paula, I do. I'm not perfect and I'm certainly not a paragon of healthy cooking and eating, not even close. But I think you have the personality and cooking chops to engage your viewers without preparing the likes of the Lady's Brunch Burger on your show.

That's all.

Note to readers: Please no piling on Paula in the comments section.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Second Verse, Same as the First

I don't know whether to be encouraged or discouraged that my resolutions for 2009 are so similar to my resolutions for 2008. In case you didn't feel like clicking to read about my 2008 resolutions, I will summarize:

1. Finish my dissertation by June.
2. Clean house.
3. Buy less stuff.
4. Use what I have.

I finished my dissertation by October 21st, the absolute last day I had to do so. I made some strides in cleaning house (decluttering), buying less stuff, and using what I have . . . but not enough. And thus, I want to introduce you to my 2009 project, a new blog entitled: Just Use It or Lose It. Please visit and cheer me on as I spend a year proving that I have everything I need and then some.

Resolutions for 2009:
1. Finding ways to lose or creatively use the stuff crowding my life.
2. Start working out and eating more reasonably (left off the 2008 list because I was pregnant and knew I wouldn't bother, even though I should have).
3. Continue to read for pleasure.
4. Buy less stuff.
5. Practice hospitality. I love having people over, and I want to do so more often. I have to remind myself that people don't expect a spic and span house or a gourmet meal. It's the company and conversation that counts.

I hope it goes without saying that I want to be the best wife, mom, daughter, friend, niece, neighbor, citizen, and cousin that I can be.

What is/are your resolution(s) for 2009?
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