Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All we want is for you . . .

I feel lucky to have grown up in a family where I knew for sure that the title sentence ends "is to be happy." My parents have always wanted me to be happy. I want the same for my own children.

For the most part, I am, have been, and plan to continue to be happy. But yes, sure, I could be happier. Probably most of us could be happier. . .

And since most of us could increase our happiness, I am begging you all to read the book I just finished: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.

Rubin decides one day while riding a city bus that though she is happy, she could be happier and sets out to examine happiness from all angles--historical, philosophical, literary, spiritual, psychological--and to embark upon her own year-long happiness project. Each month she focuses on a different area of her life and establishes 3-4 resolutions that she thinks will increase her happiness.

There is so much I loved about this book and her happiness project. I fear this post could go on and on, and I really want you to enjoy this book for yourself so I'm not going to say everything I could. I will just say that I was inspired by Rubin's specific resolutions and actions, by the depth of research she did, and by her enthusiastic call for others to create their own happiness projects. I seldom take notes when reading for pleasure (can't bear to do it after so many years in graduate school) and I did not take notes as I read, but I am telling you that I am going to reread The Happiness Project soon and with my pencil. On almost every page, I found myself thinking, "Yes, I totally relate to that feeling" or "That is an insight I don't want to forget" or "Wow" or "I need to think about this some more" or "I would really love to see what others think about that." This book has left me with more thoughts to think and, gift of all gifts, titles of more books that I want to read.

Most of all, I love to be reminded that, to quote Rubin, I can "change my life without changing my life." I can create the life I want, increase my own happiness and the happiness of those around me through my choices, actions, and thoughts. I feel inspired.

There are a lot of year-in-the-life/project-type memoirs out right now. I'm a sucker for them. Helping Me, Help Myself by Beth Lisick remains a favorite read. I recently finished Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant, which I also highly recommend; it was laugh-out-loud funny at moments but also very thoughtful and thought-provoking and not at all about taking cheap shots at Oprah or her fans.

The genre is great for revealing what a difference a year can make and for showing readers that it is always possible to keep learning, growing, having fun, challenging ourselves, and reshaping our lives.

I'm not sure yet what my personal happiness project will look like, but I cannot wait to get started and will be referring back to Rubin's book and her blog as I go.

After all, all I want is to be . . .

It's never too much to ask.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Breathe

Imagine overeating all your favorite foods at Thanksgiving dinner while dressed in a pair of pants a size too small and possibly lined in wool and paired with some skin tight knee high socks.

I truly am imagining such a scenario because I have fortunately only attended Thanksgiving celebrations where casual, comfortable attire is welcome.

But imagine again how horrible it would feel to be full of biscuits and sweet potatoes and stuffing and pie and to be stuffed into pants that are too small and also itchy.

Now imagine the moment when you have the opportunity to shed those pants and those knee highs and change into your most comfortable cotton pants -- sweatpants, yoga pants, jammie pants, whatever you wish -- and a nice, clean pair of cotton footie socks.

That glorious feeling of changing into comfy pants on Thanksgiving is how it feels for me, right now, to know that potential buyers will not be looking at my home tomorrow or the next day or the day after.

No, it didn't sell, but we have temporarily inactivated our listing (planned since we listed it in mid-February) so that we can focus on welcoming Sweet P. The wearing of tight pants (i.e., vigilant cleaning) will commence in May (based on my post-partum experiences with Bub and Little Bitmost of my pants will still be mighty tight come May) and until then, I am just going to breath easy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Instead of a Pissy Pants Post

Earlier this month, I made a commitment to a little something I called March Gladness -- the plan was to be as positive, calm, and hopeful as possible and to try to post on NTB every day for the month of March. (Photo caption: Look at me being glad!)

On the positive, calm, and hopeful front, I think I've done pretty well. There have been some tough days and moments this month, but I've managed nicely enough, NTB, considering my size and inability to tie my shoes, my lack of energy and clothes to wear, and the fact that I have had to keep my house at a standard of cleanliness and tidiness that far exceeds the norm around here.

I skipped a few days of posting, but that's okay too. Similar to when I participated in NaBloPoMo in November, posting every day starts to feel kind of unnatural after a week or so. If you're having an ick day, you sometimes don't feel like blogging and/or would prefer not to blog about what was so icky so as not to look like a whiney, ungrateful snot-nose. You know? But then, you feel obligated to come up with something to say and then you feel a little fake about whatever you wrote instead of what was really on your mind. And by "you" I mean "I."

Also, it's inevitable (at least for me) that when posting every day, quality ends up getting sacrificed for quantity. I'm not fishing for protests/compliments here, just stating the reality.

Anyway, there is no point to all of this rambling except to say that I cannot believe that March is almost over, that the new baby is almost here, that the promise of spring is becoming less and less empty.

Earlier today, I was writing a post in my head inspired by something that really got on my nerves at the YMCA this afternoon. The tone of the post would have ended up really Pissy Pants though so I will just make one statement and leave it at that: I do not believe that lifeguards should be checking and responding to messages on Blackberries while sitting in the lifeguard chair and supervising open swim. That is all.

So, let's get back to March Gladness. Here is a list of recent happenings that have made me smile, laugh, and/or generally be glad to be living my life:

* Little Bit's new obsession with Bub's underwear. After I get the boys in their jammies every night, Little Bit's new habit is to get out a pair of Bub's underwear (we keep them in a basket in the cabinet under the television--don't ask, works for us) and then have me help him put them on over his pajama pants. He then prances around like a real big boy with his triple layer of diaper, pj pants, and big boy pants. It makes me smile all over again when he awakes in the morning with the undies still on.

* Although it was annoying to clean up, it was also amusing earlier this evening when Bub sprayed Little Bit's newly-washed hair with PAM cooking spray. Luckily, none got in Little Bit's eyes and his hair does have a nice sheen now, I will admit. If you are worried about lax discipline around here, Bub did receive a time out for his use of nontraditional styling product.

* I have not packed my hospital bag yet, mostly because it does not really take that long and we only live ten minutes from the hospital. I know where the cameras are, and I figure anything else can be thrown in a bag in a few minutes. However, the longer I wait to pack it, the more times I will have to hear my hubby refer to the bag as a "go bag." For some reason, each time he asks if I've got the "go bag" ready, I just want to laugh and cringe. Not sure why. I do plan to pack the "go bag" tomorrow and then make multiple references to the readiness of said "go bag."

* A favorite pre-bedtime game has been revived around here. Hubby and Bub used to enjoy a game they called "Playin' Doggies," and now it is a game that Little Bit can play too. Basically, it involves all three of them crawling around on the floor and pretending to be doggies by barking, panting, and begging for attention. My role is to sit on the couch and pet the doggies, scratch them behind their ears, and repeatedly say "Good doggie." Family fun at its finest.

* As part of my As Seen on TV silent auction haul, we now own a copy of Kidz Bop 17 which is in our mini-van. Bub makes me smile every time he asks, "Can we listen to Kidz Bop 17?" because it amuses me that he remember the specific item title. The first track of Kidz Bop 17 is a cover of "Party in the USA," and I love to hear Bub singing along and to turn around and see him grooving in his booster. I admit that I sing along too! How can you not?

Okay, so that's some of the March Gladness around here. What's making you glad to be living your life these days?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Change Up

It's All Thumbs Thursday Again and this week I'm adjusting the format. Try to keep up!

Thumbs Up . . . Thumbs Down

We've had a lot of showings of our house the past few weeks, including two more so far for this weekend . . . no offers yet

Mini Twix bars . . . possibly empty Easter baskets

Convenience and ease of ordering on Amazon . . . credit card bills for Amazon.com Visa card

Bub now has a suburban and city preschool option so that we are set for next school year regardless of house sale . . . both spots secured with nonrefundable deposits

Delightful Bumble and Bumble hair powder to cover gray roots . . . unable to locate said powder anywhere in recently semi-decluttered house

Have health insurance that allows me to get new prenatal vitamins for reasonable cost . . . mail order system has thus far taken over three weeks and still no new vitamins and some rude customer service!

Meyer's soap and cleaning products purchased at Target that smell absolutely divine and totally give me a lift while cleaning and/or washing my hands . . . a bit pricier than average cleansers (but not a major thumbs down as I am really loving these products)

That's All, folks! What's Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down in your world?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beautiful? Who me?

NTB, but I received this Beautiful Blogger Award from Dusty Earth Mother. Her kind words and shout out really made my day!

My tasks are now twofold. I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself that you probably don't know and to give this award to eight other bloggers.

Since I've been blogging for almost three years now, I feel like it's going to be tough to come up with seven things about myself that I haven't already mentioned/bored you to tears with/annoyed you with.

I wish, like Dusty Earth Mother, I could tell you that I auditioned for Molly Ringwald's part in The Breakfast Club and met John Hughes. But I didn't. How cool is that she did?

Anyway, here's a list of seven things I've already mentioned but that might bear repeating.

1. I am an audiobook junkie. Love, love, love them and you can read all the reasons why I am obsessed with audiobooks. I am currently listening to Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, in case you are wondering.

2. I could eat pizza every single day. I am not as obsessed with Lean Cuisine pizzas as I once was (though I still rock them from time to time), but pizza in general, I adore. One of the most beautiful things hubby has done for me over the course of our relationship is introduce me to the delights of frozen pizza. Tonight's meal? Culinary Circle Rising Crust Supreme Pizza. I eat three pieces; he eats the other five.

3. I am going through something strange with my reality television viewing. Last season I found I had no energy/patience/interest in my formerly beloved Dancing with the Stars, and this season does not seem to be hooking me either. I find myself fast forwarding each DVRd episode of The Biggest Loser to the end to see the progress of the recently-booted player and then deleting the whole thing. I have the entire new season of Project Runway just sitting in the DVR. I guess I'm saving it for late night nursing in a couple of weeks? NTB, but you know that I made a clean break with the entire Real Housewives franchise well over a year ago. Don't. miss. those. women. at. all.

4. My gray roots are long and obvious right now, and I am almost embarrassed to be seen in public. I have an appointment on Sunday and cannot wait to get those puppies covered. See photo evidence below.

5. I recently unfriended someone on Facebook for the first time ever. I have hidden people before, including someone who mentioned her bowel movements a few too many times for my taste, but never unfriended. I actually like this person fine, but the tone and content of a few of her status updates over the past few months has really irked me and tempted me to write something really rude/snide in response that I would surely regret. So, I just thought, better to end this. I do feel badly about it though. Also, I recently figured out that I was unfriended and spent way too much time trying to figure out by whom. I did get to the bottom of it, and I'm okay with it, but it does sting a bit.

6. I just picked up Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant from my local library, where I had been on a waiting list. I'm so excited to read about this blogger who spent a year trying to follow all of Oprah's advice. I would totally love to have a really cool idea for a blog that also turned into a book. I'll let you know how this book is.

7. It will take me forever to give the Beautiful Blogger award to eight other bloggers because I will be afraid to hurt anyone's feelings. And yes, I know that it's kind of egomaniacal of me to imagine that there are multiple bloggers waiting with baited breath to see if MEP has an award for them. Also, I want to see how the bribes and flattery play out.

So, there are seven things. Tell me 1-7 things about yourself, how 'bout?

Beautiful? Who me?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pajama Dilemma

So my friend whose husband (also my friend) is an ob/gyn told me that her hubby is surprised by how many women wear the hospital gown throughout their entire stay in the hospital. We had this conversation post-Bub but pre-Little Bit and, frankly, I was unsettled. After I had Bub, I wore the gown (or possibly, a couple different clean ones?) my entire stay until the last thirty minutes when I mustered up the energy to shower and put Big Teal on for the trip home. Did I pack pajamas? I don't recall, but I can tell you that after birthing a 9 lb and 15 oz baby, hearing terms like "third degree" thrown about, passing out onto the floor of the bathroom, and everything else that you deal with after giving birth, the last thing on my mind was what I was wearing.

I had an easier time and recovery after Little Bit and did change into some pajama pants and shirt for part of my hospital stay with Little Bit. The ensemble was nothing special though -- not purchased especially for the event, not especially flattering, not especially anything.

With Sweet P's arrival coming in less than two weeks (!!!!), I have toyed with the idea of purchasing some pajamas to mark the occasion and wearing them at the hospital. I'm assuming that childbirth and recovery will be even better the third time around, and that I might be up to caring a little bit what I look like. That could be a big assumption. We shall see.

The pajamas would need to fulfill the following requirements: super soft and comfortable, non-binding, two piece, loose enough on top or somehow configured to make nursing easy, bottoms that are either intentionally cropped or long enough to not be floods. I brought home a pair of Vera Wang jammies from Kohl's (NTB?), but I am not at all convinced that I like them or that my wearing them will in any way improve my hospital stay or first few days as Sweet P's mama.

So, any suggestions on pajamas? If you've given birth, did you change or wear the gown?

Also, in case anyone is tempted to suggest otherwise, I just want to clarify that how I look in the hospital is not as important to me as a smooth delivery and healthy baby girl.

But I wouldn't mind looking, you know, decent.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kristy's Great Idea

I seldom get a chance to read the newspaper, but I caught a glimpse of Hubby's Wall Street Journal this past Friday and enjoyed Laura Vanderkam's "How to Pay for Your Own Uggs" on the TASTE page. Vanderkman's piece was in response to the revision and reissue of the Baby-Sitters Club Series from the 80s. Ultimately, there were 131 books in the series, a fact that I was shocked to discover. I wasn't a Baby-Sitters Club junkie, but I definitely read and enjoyed at least the first ten or so books in the series.

I thought Vanderkam made some excellent points about the significance of the series and its reissue. She writes:

"Hidden in the plots that show that friendship is good and that teasing, racism, and bossy boyfriends are bad, Ms. Martin imparts two more important messages that modern readers need to hear: Teen girls are capable of handling far more responsibility than we give them credit for, and they, like the rest of us, can choose to make their own way in the world."

Vanderkam notes how many parents today are shocked at the idea of having an 11, 12, or 13 year-old babysitter. I know I'm one of them. When I recall that people entrusted me with their children, even babies and toddlers, when I was 12 and 13, I have a hard time believing it. I assume they thought, "Well, she's the oldest of five kids. She probably knows what she's doing." But I'll be honest, I was not a big help at home, at least not as a hands-on caregiver for my youngest siblings (right, mom?!) and was no more or less prepared than other tweens/young teens to be babysitting. But I did, and no real disasters ever happened and I don't remember being really anxious about how to handle the kids.

As a parent, I have a hard time imagining that any babysitter--excepting my parents, in-laws, and our regular babysitter (a fifty year-old mother of four)--could possibly be trusted with tasks like feeding the boys a meal, bathing them, or getting them down for a nap or bedtime. Who the hell thought I could do such tasks for their children and felt comfortable hiring someone to do them who was willing to work for $2 an hour?! But I had babysitting jobs and, like I said, everything turned out fine.

A few months ago, I started hiring a brother/sister team from next door to "play with" the boys for an hour or two after school as their homework schedule allows. I feel fairly comfortable having this team of seventh and eighth grader "babysitting" the boys, but I am usually home the entire time they are here, except for maybe venturing out quickly to CVS or the cash machine. They don't hesitate to find me if they are worried about something or if a diaper needs changing (a skill they don't yet have), and the whole thing is pretty much win-win in that they get a little cash and I get a little space. Plus, they have lots of energy and are willing to play games like Bub's beloved basement-hide-and-seek-in-the-dark . . . a game I can play for fifteen minutes max and they will play for an hour or more.

We've thought about asking them to babysit in the evening, but if we did that, I think we would get the boys to sleep first and then have dinner somewhere in the neighborhood but probably wouldn't linger. I'm sure everything would be fine, but I wonder if their dad--who lives right next door--would even be comfortable having them babysit in the evening at our house. Again, just interesting to note how times changed since as an eighth grader I put kids to bed (really? how?), stayed up alone until the parents got home (sometimes past midnight), and then was driven home by dads (who could have been drunk for all I know). I don't think my parents or I really sweated it, nor did the parents of the kids I babysat . . . unless I am misremembering.

So anyway, read the article, and let me know what you think. Plus, let me know what your babysitter comfort zone is. How often do you hire babysitters outside of family members? How old are they? What do you expect that they can do? Did you babysit and at what age? Did you read any Baby-Sitters Club books?

Note: Based on my reading of Us Weekly alone, I would have thought, "Poor title for the article because Uggs are out." However, when I was on Michigan Avenue recently with my family, my mom and sisters and I were amused to see a group of about six eighth grade girls about the cross the street and every single one of them was wearing Uggs. No lie. I wonder if they bought the Uggs with babysitting money?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Still All Thumbs on Thursdays

ATT = All Thumbs Thursday

Thumbs Up
* weather in the 60s today -- feels amazing!

* finally starting the episodes of Life Unexpected that have been building up in my DVR and am really enjoying the show -- Baze is so cute!

* also, speaking of television, are you watching Community? If not, consider it. Definitely some laugh-out-loud moments on that show -- plus, Joel McHale is cute and hilarious!

* dipping into the candy purchased for Easter -- loving the vanilla tootsie rolls and the mini Twix bars

* automatic doors on the new mini-van -- where has this feature been all my life?!

* fact that Bub can belt himself into his new booster seat!

* peanut butter pie I made in honor of my 35th birthday this past Monday -- delicious and easy (no baking required)!

* birthday messages on Facebook

* we've got a date for Sweet P's entrance into this beautiful world plus the real possibility that she may show up on her own schedule before that date -- we'll be ready!

* Xavier and Notre Dame in the tournament! Woo hoo!

Thumbs Down
* rain in the forecast for Saturday and snow for Sunday -- boo hiss.

* miscommunication regarding plans for dinner on my birthday -- I assumed we would order carry out and hubby would pick it up. He thought he heard me say I was planning to cook something special . . . for my own birthday. Bummer.

* tons of good books on my to-read list right now, but finding myself too tired in the evening to read for very long

* Little Bit's biting my arm so hard yesterday that it bruised immediately and hurt like the devil.

Okay, what about you? Leave your ATT list in the comments or link to your own Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down post!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

House Hunters Hit List

Are you familiar with HGTV's House Hunters? It's a strangely addictive program wherein the viewer gets to meet the house hunter/house hunters, learn about their budget and priorities, get a glimpse of their current living situation, and get a mini lesson from their agent on what they can expect to find in their area. You tour three houses with them, listen to their pro and con lists, find out which one they chose, and check in with them a few months after move-in to see how they're enjoying (and decorating!) the place.

It's one of those shows that reinforces the "different strokes for different folks" philosophy of life. In terms of priorities sought in a house, I am usually struck by the differences between my own needs and interests and those of the house hunters. Some house hunters need a big garage to store their boat or a large shed where they can restore classic cars with one of those actual jack-up-the-car-like-in-an-autoshop-machines. Not me. Some house hunters just have to have a large bathtub with jets. I'm not saying I wouldn't test out such a tub if I had one, but a big tub is not a priority for me. Nor is a vanity where I can sit down and carefully apply my makeup. Sometimes a house hunter needs a room for scrapbooking, sewing, and/or crafting. Again, I wouldn't turn such a room down, but . . . In the episode I saw last night, the house hunters needed a large room for the wife's at-home preschool. For certain, I will never be running a preschool, in or outside of my house.

There are multiple episodes in which a male house hunter prioritizes space for a "man cave," and they always use the term "man cave" and scope out where the plasma will go. That's fine, and my hubby wants one too, but I have yet to see a female house hunter say, "I want a mom cave, you know, a room with a comfortable couch, bookshelves, a television, a wine refrigerator, and a lock on the door . . . a room that will always be tidy and and where I can hide from kids and husband for maybe ten minutes everyday." Just saying.

But I digress. It totally makes sense that each set of house hunters has unique needs and priorities, and one of the things I love about the show is seeing those plus the regional differences in style, expectations, and price. And, I won't lie, the little disagreements between house hunters can also be amusing . . . he likes modern, she likes vintage, etc.

House Hunters can highlight differences, but it also reveals amusing pockets of similarity (as seen in the above mention of the "man cave"). Here are some classic, common House Hunters moments:

* The walk-in closet scene. Realtor shows couple a house with a walk-in closet. One or two things is likely to happen from here. One, the female half of the couple jokes that the closet will accommodate all her clothes, but her other half might have to store his elsewhere. Or, two, if the closet is really large, the realtor asks, "Do you think you can fit all your clothes in here?" Usually, the reply is given as if Imelda Marcos herself is the house hunter, "I think so." Corny laughter ensues.

* Appliance scene. When touring the kitchen, the house hunters have to comment upon the appliances. If the appliances are, God forbid, white, the house hunters express that they really don't like white appliances and are pretty bummed out. This kitchen will need "a lot of work." If the appliances are, praise the Lord, stainless steel, the house hunters start drooling and caressing them as if these appliances are works of art.

* Granite countertop scene. Similar to the appliance scene. Mind you, I have nothing against granite countertops. They can be really lovely and I imagine that the house we move into will have them, but I can barely stand it when house hunters just have to have granite countertops and practically make out with them if they see them while viewing a house. I mean the kitchen counters constitute one small portion of a huge purchase, and I just don't understand how a certain type of countertop is a deal breaker. I know they're expensive, but can't you have some installed if you really, really want them that badly?

* The paint scene. House hunters check out a room in a house that is painted in a very bright or otherwise objectionable color. I have seen this played a couple of ways. Sometimes the agent says something foolish like, "I hope you like purple," as if you are not allowed to change the paint so if you don't like purple, let's walk out now. Or, the house hunters get all flustered or put off by a paint color and have to be reminded by their more reasonable agent that, "Wall color is an easy and inexpensive change to make."

* Denial of future procreation scene. The house hunters look at a small bedroom and speculate that it might make a good office (typically all small bedrooms on the show "might work for an office"). But then sometimes, one of the house hunters or even the realtor will tentatively suggest that the room might also make a good nursery "sometime down the line" and one or both of the house hunters look/s totally panicked.

* Martha Stewart fantasies. It's also typical on House Hunters for the house hunters to mention several times that they want "space for entertaining." I truly believe that they think they want this space and that they think they will use this space. I hope they do, but I've read countless articles about how Americans invite friends and family into their homes less than ever these days, how we have more spacious homes with fewer people enjoying them, state-of-the-art kitchens that never get used for preparing family dinners, etc. I like that the fantasy of entertaining is still alive and hope it becomes a reality so I get invited more places. I also want to disclose that were I featured on House Hunters, I would definitely be yapping about space for entertaining but that I do do some (non-fancy) entertaining so I feel justified.

* Grill/Barbecue scene. The same men who seek (or will someday seek) a "man cave" are also on the lookout for outdoor space for a grill/barbecue. This scene is especially common in episodes featuring a single guy or a young couple looking for a city condo.

I know I'm being a little snarky about what is a seriously entertaining, addictive, and even informative show, certainly a harmless one. I think I am feeling a little bitter toward and jealous of the house hunters I watch these days because I so badly wish I was the one ready to hunt and buy. That day will come, I'm sure, and our journey won't be on HGTV so you'll never know if I lick a stainless steel double oven if I come upon one in our hunt.

Do you watch House Hunters? What do you have to add to this post?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obligatory Mini Van Post

Yesterday, we got ourselves a brand new mini van. If I ever swore I'd never get a mini van, it was probably years and years ago when I thought I would brush my kids hair every day and cook delicious and healthy meals every night once I was a mom and wife. I didn't fight this purchase (lease) even for a second. I'm not too cool to drive a mini van. I'm not worried about what people will assume about me when they see me pull up. I don't feel older. I'm not concerned that it will be a slippery slope from driving a mini van to wearing high-waisted jeans and joining a Nicholas Sparks book club.

I drive a van now and I feel fine about it, great even.

And why shouldn't I? The van is easily the nicest, most pimped out car I've ever had. NTB. I am vowing that this car won't end up looking like the inside of my purse within a month. I'm going to order those rubber, all weather mats because the dirty footprints the boys have left on the van floor in the past 24 hours are already bugging me. I'm even going to keep a bag for trash between the two front seats like my grandparents used to do. And I am going to try to remember to do a crap and trash sweep when I exit the vehicle (when I'm alone, that is--I firmly believe it is too much to expect a mom to get anything but her children and possibly her perishable groceries safely out of a car on a day-to-day basis). As a sign that the above positive habits may be implemented, I will mention that before driving the mini van to the Jewel this afternoon (my first solo voyage in The Odyssey), I remembered to bring all my reusable grocery bags with me (and left some extras in the back, NTB).

So, that's the story. I have a mini van. I like it and expect that soon I'll love it. It was time. I was ready. End of story.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's . . .

. . . Bub all decked out for yesterday's Dress As a Superhero or Princess Day at preschool!

The only superhero gear we had was a pair of summer Superman pajamas (wasn't sure I could find them or that they would fit) so I decided to get creative. I thought this t-shirt and concept would be a good way to keep Bub excited to take on his new role as a super big brother to Little Bit and Sweet P.

Grammy already has some matching Big Brother gear for both boys, but I would like to suit up Little Bit as a Super Brother as well. Any suggestions for what his t-shirt should say? I thought of "Duper Brother," but I didn't think it would make sense unless he were standing right next to Bub. Let me know if you have any ideas.

By the way, Bub's red cape came from the Superhero Starter Kit he received from one of his little buddies for his birthday. Pretty cute -- the gift, the cape, and Bub. NTB.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ATT: Twins? Nope. Thanks though.

ATT = All Thumbs Thursday

Thumbs Up
* St. Patrick's Day photo shoot -- it's 50/50 whether I manage to use the photos for St. Pat's cards as planned, but at least I completed the first step

* yesterday's visit to the park -- sunshine, fresh air, no coats!

* mini-van shopping trip planned for this weekend -- the shopping is not a thumbs up, but the promise of a van (and of becoming a two-car household) is!

* this crockpot recipe for Meatballs in Chile Peanut Sauce -- easy, different, and delicious! I added red and yellow peppers and served on rice

* Season 5 in Gilmore Girls -- Luke and Lorelai are finally together, and I am loving it!!!!

* Hubby not traveling this month! Woo hoo!

* New blogs that I am loving: This Is the Day, Dusty Earth Mother, and My Fluffy Bunnies . . . check them out! I'll be updating my Blogroll soon!

Thumbs Down
* rain (but better than snow so don't consider it a thumb way down)

* all of Bub's pants are suddenly too short -- as a tall girl, I am very phobic of flood pants

* once again did not get my money's worth out of Netflix account -- put it on hold again after not watching 500 Days of Summer for at least 45 days of winter (note to self: MEP, you don't watch movies these days. Quit kidding yourself.)

* laundry -- why is laundry never finished? really, the whole family would have to spend a day naked or wearing disposable clothes in order for us to be officially caught up

* recent realization that card-making supplies are in storage so will have to procure new ones if I want to make St. Pat's Day cards with boys

Big Thumbs Down
* Friendly stranger who asked about my due date, assessed my belly, and asked, "Twins?"

What's Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down in your world? Share your list in the comments or a link to your own All Thumbs post!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Nest

Selling a house is an emotional thing. I knew it would be, but didn't realize in what ways it would be.

I spend part of the time being fiercely defensive of our house. We live here and have for five years. We brought Bub and Little Bit home from the hospital to this house. We've made many happy memories here, hosted gatherings, welcomed friends and family, stayed warm and dry and cozy on five years worth of nights. It's a cute house with a nice yard and a beautiful shady tree. And our house is in a fantastic location, NTB.

But then each time someone looks at our house and does not want to buy it, a little part of me feels like they are not just rejecting our house, but our life and our family. I know that makes no sense at all, but that's how it feels a little bit. What's wrong with my life? Why don't you want my life?

I spend other blocks of time seeing only the things "wrong" with our house, noticing spots where the floorboards are worn or the paint is chipped, kicking myself because we never bothered to install any f***ing granite countertops, and worrying that no one will ever ever want to live here because, you know, we don't have heated floors or a big tub with jets.

So then each time someone looks at our house and does not want to buy it, a little part of me thinks, "Why did you and hubby buy it, MEP?"

Because we loved it and still do, even though our family is on the verge of outgrowing this space.

I'm trying to stay calm and positive, to stay on top of the cleaning (it is nice to be living in a clean house), and to stay focused on what really matters.

What really matters is the family living under this roof. In my heart I know that we will be fine and happy and good whether we are still under this roof next year or under a brand new one. It bothers me that I don't know for sure what will happen and in what time frame, but I am trying to focus on the home we create, not the house we buy or sell.

I know it's a sappy thing to do, but I bought the pillow featured in the photograph above and resting on the chair where I plan to nurse Sweet P in the middle of the night to remind myself that our life and our nest--complete with its three precious eggs--is wherever we are together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The most famous exit in Indiana . . .

The Book Beat is back! I have a few titles to mention that may be of interest. As always, I offer my apologies to the authors of these books that I don't have/take the time to write the kind of really thoughtful reviews their books deserve.

The Aqua Net Diaries: Big Hair, Big Dreams, Small Town by Jennifer Niven

I loved the title of this memoir (even though I loathe Aqua-Net -- Vavoom forever!) and was intrigued once I discovered that the memoir covers Niven's high school years in Richmond, IN. I've actually never been to Richmond, IN, but growing up, I heard about it almost every time our television was on because, you see, Richmond's is "the most famous exit in Indiana, I-70 exit, 149A" and the home of Tom Raper RV and "where the roses grow." The Raper RV commercial jingle was ubiquitous in the Tri-State (IN, OH, KY) area during my childhood. Maybe it still is? Anyone? I'm digressing from Niven's memoir though. I enjoyed reading about a mid-eighties, Midwestern high school experience. My favorite aspect of Niven's story was her friendship with her best friend, a guy, and the way you could see how the high school girl she described would grow into the woman and writer she seems to have become. The high school students she depicts are familiar in that each high school has its own unique characters, most of whom are less unique than we think at the time. I think what I admire most is just that Niven had the courage and patience to reflect upon and retell her high school story. Honestly, I liked high school, maybe even loved it, but the thought of living it over (even for the purposes of writing) is totally unattractive to me. It's such an emotional time, even if your experience was not tortuous, that I would prefer not to think too long or hard about who and how I was then. Even though I don't want to relive my own high school days, I enjoyed thinking about them through Niven's memoir of her own. You might too.

Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

When I was a ninth grade teacher, I managed to avoid reading a single book by David Pelzer (of A Child Called It fame) even though many a student swore to the power and awesomeness of these books. Books about horrible things that happen to children just aren't my cup of tea. However, I bought this memoir in an audible.com sale and decided to give it a try. Three Little Words traces Ashley Rhodes-Courter's many years in the Florida foster care system and her eventual adoption as a tween. Her story is powerful and taught me a lot about the foster care system, most of which I wish were not true. To read about some of her foster placements will break your heart and leave you completely incensed as you ponder indifferent bureaucrats, money-grubbing foster parents, human cruelty, and a pervasive reluctance to really think about what is best for the children in the system. Interestingly, the people who make the most powerful, positive impact on Rhodes-Courter's life are volunteer, non-government employees -- a point that she makes quite effectively. I've never envisioned myself as a foster parent and it's certainly not a job I could take on any time in the near future, but this memoir makes you see what a positive difference that a kind, generous, compassionate person could make.

Tales of the City and More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Maupin's serial tales of life in San Francisco in the 1970s are completely addictive. I'd be reading Further Tales of the City right this minute had my library had it on the shelf this morning. I love the way all the characters end up connecting and overlapping. Each edition of the serial tale is long enough to establish something interesting but short enough that you think, "I'll just read one more" until you have finished the book, practically inhaled it. Some crazy shit happens in these tales--sex, pot, drugs, death, adultery--and crazier things I would mention except that I don't want to be a spoiler. I can't believe I had never read Maupin before and am so excited to read the rest of the city series (six books in all, I think).

Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

I haven't read Walls' memoir The Glass Castle, though every one I know who has highly recommends it. In Half-Broke Horses, Walls tells the story of her grandmother (mother of Walls' mother, a main character in The Glass Castle) whose life is full of trials and adventures. I listened to the audiobook of Half-Broke Horses while I was doing things like magic erasing my kitchen cabinets, decluttering my linen closet, and dusting the blades of my ceiling fans. I was thinking that my life was pretty tough, but reading about Walls' grandmother was inspiring, in a "Buck up and get it done, woman" sort of way . . . she was a memorable woman who will leave you thinking that if she can handle everything she handled, you could probably rise to most challenges as well and can, at the very least, get your house cleaned without feeling sorry for yourself. It was the perfect book for the moment in my life when I read it.

So, tell me please: What are you reading these days?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Toot Pillows & Bronx Cheers

In yesterday's post about my auction haul, I neglected to mention that the As Seen on TV collection was not the only item our household secured in the silent auction. Before I had fully committed to securing the cart of crap at any cost, I bid on a box of crap from a local, kitschy toy store. The box of crap of was not expensive, and I thought Bub and Little Bit would get a kick out of it. Plus, I didn't want to come home empty-handed and wanted to buy/donate something, you know, for the kids.

The box of crap included mostly crap with the highlights being a NKOTB travel mug, a rubber snake, various figurines (Bart Simpson, Big Bird, Donald Duck), and--drum roll please--a Whoopee Cushion.

The pleasure that Bub has taken in the Whoopee Cushion has made the entire purchase of the box of crap worth it. Hubby showed him how to inflate it and then Bub would say, "Mom, come sit at your computer." I would gamely sit down, activate the cushion, and then enjoy Bub's uncontrollable laughter about my indelicacy. Or, I would be sitting on the couch and he would ask me to stand up, place the Whoopee Cushion oh-so-subtly beneath me, and then again enjoy the results. Or, he would inflate it, place it under a pillow, and then jump on the pillow, proudly exclaiming, "I tooted!" Squeals of laughter from Bub and Little Bit every time.

I have to mention that "toot" is our verb of choice for flatulence around here. I don't have a problem with the word "fart" really, except that my dad did not like my siblings and I to say "fart" when we were little (no idea why he objected to the word). Thus, to this day, I still feel a little bit guilty if I use the word "fart," almost as if it's a bad word. My dad wanted us to use the term "boomer," which is strange but better, I suppose, than my sister's friend's mom who encouraged her daughter to use the term "panty bubble." Ick.

Anyway, because we say "toot," Bub soon dubbed the Whoopee Cushion the "toot pillow" (and sometimes the "toot balloon") which I find to be accurate and adorable names.

Unfortunately, due to too much tooting, our toot pillow has sprung a leak and needs to be repaired before Bub can trick any new suspects (warning to Grandma and Grammy . . . he has plans for both of you!).

I don't know how you feel about tooting at your house or whether or not you're comfortable having your preschooler amuse himself with a toot pillow, but I have to say, it definitely has kept him entertained. I don't know how much a toot pillow sold separately from a box of crap is, but I imagine not much. Cheap thrills!

By the way, has anyone ever heard the phrase "Bronx cheer"? If you note in the photo above, the Whoopee Cushion's old-fashioned illustration shows a woman in an evening dress sitting upon a Whoopee Cushion. The drawing has lines to show motion and two air (panty?) bubbles with the word "Poo" in each. Really! Then, the tag line is, "When anyone sits down it emits a REAL Bronx cheer." I wonder what a fake Bronx cheer is.

So, Bronx cheer . . . anyone? anyone?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Four Words For You

Four words for you: AS SEEN ON TV.


Last night was Bub's school fundraiser, a St. Patrick's Day-themed event with beer, bands, Irish dancers, raffles, live auction, and silent auction.

No beer for me and we weren't there in time for the Irish dancers so I had to focus my party energy on the silent auction.

I am happy to report that I "won" the best item in the entire field and by "won" I mean that I hovered and outbid others for the privilege of buying it. My treasure was actually the class donation from Bub's class: a collection of As Seen On TV merchandise. All the parents in Bub's class contributed different items for the collection (I personally donated Bumpits and Aqua Globes), and there was some entertaining email traffic about who was bringing what. I thought it was the perfect themed gift basket for the kind of event where people are drinking and bidding on stuff that they don't really need.

Hubby and I had joked about the As Seen on TV Collection in days leading up to the event. "You," he said laughing, "are not going to be bidding on that." Tee hee hee. Of course not.

But I knew I wanted it. And I am tired and fat and pregnant and nesting and my birthday is coming up. So, guess what, I got it. NTB. And I could not be more thrilled.

Check it out:
First of all, I want to point out that the cart came with it! NTB.

Now, I want you to get an up close look at everything my awesome prize included.
Wonder Hanger, ShamWow!, StrapPerfect, Bendaroos, HeelTastic, and KidzBop 17 . . . NTB

PedEgg, Big Top Cupcake, Bumpits, Snow Slinger, Chia SpongeBob . . . NTB.

Marshmallow Shooter, The Clapper, Original SpaceBag, Fun Slides Carpet Skates . . . NTB.

The Original Always Fresh Containers, Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter, Pasta n' More,
Turn Your Drink Can Into a Bottle! . . . NTB.

Snuggie and AquaGlobes . . . NTB.

I realize that this "cart of crap," as hubby has been calling it, is the last thing that a woman who's about to have three kids and is trying to keep her house clean and clutter free in the hopes of selling it . . . the last thing that a woman like that needs.

I'm so excited though. I feel like the ten year-old girl who begged her mom for a Super Snacker after watching the infomercial with rapt attention over and over: "Mom, you can make your own mini apples pies with the Super Snacker." I feel like the tween who used to play infomercial in her best friend's basement (sample line from us demo-ing an item called The Big Green Machine, "And the best part . . . your kids will love to clean it up!"). The grown woman who can still be drawn in by the Magic Bullet infomercial and who seriously wants to try the Bumpit.

Plus, there was the additional pleasure of watching hubby wheel the cart of crap out of the gym last night. There is no way for anyone over five feet tall to not look like a hunchback when pushing such a cart to begin with, which was amusing in itself. At least ten people stopped us on the way out to check out the contents of the cart. I'm sure some were thinking, "Suckers!" but I honestly think others were like, "Dang, that is kind of cool." Yep, it is.

And, wait, there's more! This gift also provides raw material for at least twenty blog posts because I am committed to reviewing each of these items for you, my loyal NTB readers. Don't worry, it won't be As Seen on TV day everyday, but I will be writing about the items from time to time until I've tested them all.

So, please stay tuned or, better yet, call now to take advantage of this special television offer.

Let me know in the comments what As Seen on TV items have intrigued you . . .

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

I rarely have the time, energy, or patience to commit to a watching an entire movie. I just don't. In my twenties, however, I watched movies all the times, often the same ones over and over. Sometimes I sat absorbed and attentive. Other times I used movies as the backdrop for crafting, hair curling, or treadmilling.

Last year, hubby and I weeded through a bunch of our VHS tapes and gave them away (whether anyone would/does want VHS tapes these days, I am unsure). If you asked me to name five titles that we gave away this time last year, I probably would struggle to come up with a list. A sign that we were ready to part with those movies. But, we were both unable to relinquish a few of our very favorites.

In this year's efforts to clean and declutter and in acknowledgment of the fact that we don't have a working VCR hooked up anywhere in our home, we decided that it was time to give away the entire VHS collection, including the very favorites . . . every tape except the one labeled "Badin JV vs. Purcell," which happens to have our wedding recorded upon it.

I feel okay with the decision because I know that probably all of these movies are available on DVD should I ever wish to own them again. Plus, I imagine that in another couple of years, it will be possible to order up any movie that exists for immediate viewing on one's television or computer. Maybe that's possible now?

However, like the pack rat and sentimental sap that I am at heart, I decided that I could part with my last bunch of VHS tapes much more easily if I first documented what I had. I wasn't worried that I would forget how much I love Four Weddings and a Funeral, When Harry Met Sally, or While You Were Sleeping, but I was slightly uneasy that I might forget a lesser-known treasure like Pure Country (starring George Strait!), Sliding Doors (for Gwyneth's awesome haircut alone), or Shag. What if I forgot about Shag and never got to watch it with Sweet P? Unthinkable.

And, so in the interest of posterity and as a means of offering a glimpse into the person I was in my twenties and maybe still I am, I offer this glimpse of some of my favorites.

The Rockies belong to hubby.

What about you? Do you still have VHS tapes? What were/are your over-and-over movies?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

All Thumbs Thursday

Thumbs Up
* Girl Scout Cookies, enjoyed in moderation (I don't typically endorse snack food moderation, but I made myself sick eating samoas earlier this week)

* Einstein's Bagels -- it's my go-to place when I have a little time to myself and need a bite, love the bagels and the fountain Diet Cokes

* Sunshine!

* doing pink laundry (see above)

* Jim and Pam are having a baby -- tonight!!!!!!

* Hubby not traveling at all this week (except for day trip tomorrow) and his helping with Bub's school drop-off the past two mornings

* newly-0pened Qdoba with parking -- not yet sure how it stacks up against Chipotle in the grand scheme, but I am loving the variety of sauces so far!

* Bub's school fundraiser tomorrow night -- I love that it is nothing fancy--no ballrooms rented, no fancy duds, no banquet food--just school gym, draft beer, jeans . . . rocking it Old School Catholic School style.

* Blogtrotting -- check it out if you haven' t yet!

* Amazon customer service. I found cracks in my Kindle (due to defective cover, they told me), and the friendliest man ever arranged to send me a brand new one and a credit to get a new cover. And, would you believe, the new covers come in pink!!!! It only took minutes and I was never made to feel as if I did anything wrong (which I didn't, but still)

Thumbs Down
* getting less sleep than I need and want

* having the phrase "I have nothing to wear" become more and more true each day

* the fact that despite a new battery and power cord, my MacBook now loses power immediately if the power cord becomes disconnected (Dear Apple: Please read above note about Amazon)

* Kate Gosselin's hair extensions

* the fact that Kate Gosselin is doing Dancing With the Stars (I know I shouldn't be judging, but I am and don't think it's the best choice for a more-or-less single mother of eight smallish children)

* feeling pressure to cook a particular meal that no longer sounds good since you have purchased the perishable ingredients -- shredded barbecue chicken sammies and coleslaw, here we come, thanks to the buns and cole slaw mix already procured.

What are you all thumbs over this Thursday? Share in the comments or blog about your own list (include link in comments so others can visit).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

I think Little Bit knows that something is up. He knows that mommy's big belly is good for resting his head upon and that if someone says "baby" that's a cue to lift mommy's shirt and either slobber kiss or pound upon her belly. I'm trying to figure out what he knows versus what he understands.

And no, I don't think he understands just how life around here is going to change so dramatically, but I swear it's like he senses--like the smart little booger he is, NTB--that his days as the baby of the clan are numbered and is thus hellbent on getting as much attention and affection as possible . . . at least that's my explanation for his new tendency to cling, whine, beg to be picked up, and drive us mad at night.

I feel for him, I really do. It must be scary to see your mom's belly swell, odd to notice her grunt and sigh each time she has to bend over or stand up, annoying to have to wiggle around a big blob to get comfortable while she rocks you to sleep, and frustrating that she is too tired to play as much as you would like.

I'm doing the best I can, trying to give Little Bit as much love and attention and assurance as I can, especially in the hours we spend together while Bub is at school.

But it is dang hard when I am tired, not just from being pregnant but from having Little Bit spend hours every night standing in his crib and whining, "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama . . . " over and over and over again.

"Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama . . ." Hours and hours.

Hubby and I are at a loss. We take turns rocking him, and he soothes pretty easily and falls right asleep. The moment we put him back down in his bed though it's back to "Mama, Mama, Mama . . ." So then we'll bring him into bed with us. It doesn't take him long to locate a position that is comfortable for him but oppressive for one of us and he's snoring. If we try to move him back to his crib (once he starts kicking or one of us is about to fall out of bed), it's back to "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama . . ."

If we're fairly confident our kids are not wet, dirty, hungry, or in pain, hubby and I don't have a problem with letting them figure it out. If we've done all we can and know one of our kids is truly tired, we'll let them work it out, cry it out even. And the crying never lasts all that long.

But "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama . . ." can seemingly last all night.

And there is something about pleas of "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama . . ." that is difficult to ignore. And so, we've just been alternating with the rocking and the co-sleeping and the sitting downstairs on the couch with Little Bit asleep on dad's shoulder.

And we're tired and our backs are sore. And we're trying not to think about what we'll do if this kind of behavior continues a month from now when there's also a baby waking every couple of hours.

Does anyone have some wisdom to offer here? Advice? Miracle cures? Words of comfort? Any similar stories of toddlers acting oddly in conjunction with the imminent arrival of a new baby?

Please share if you do. I'd love a good night's sleep so I can be fresh for Little Bit, in so many ways still my baby, in the morning.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Tape and Happy Talk

March Gladness continues!

Happy Tape!
A few days ago, I was flipping through a magazine when I saw a little blurb on a Japanese product called Happy Tape. Basically, Happy Tape is this really cool, printed masking tape that you can use as regular old tape or in a variety of craft projects. The magazine suggested using the tape to fancy up a plain white lamp or lampshade. My nesting-stage fingers are literally itching to order some Happy Tape and start crafting, but I am telling myself that that project can wait until we (hopefully) move into a new house and have some new decor to think about.

Until then, I will continue to visit the Happy Tape website and dream and the Happy Tape blog where there are tons of ideas for how Happy Tape can be used. Check it out! [Unnecessary Disclaimer: I am not being paid in any way, shape, or form to pimp Happy Tape. I just saw the blurb, wanted the stuff, and wanted to share it with you because thinking about Happy Tape really makes me feel, well, happy.]

Happy Talk!
Lauren Graham's long-awaited return to television happens tonight with the premiere of Parenthood. It's on 10/9 central on NBC (right after The Biggest Loser). Set your DVR! [Unnecessary Disclaimer #2: I am also not on the payroll at NBC.]

That's all for now. Will you be checking out Parenthood? What would you do with Happy Tape?

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Gladness

So February kind of sucked for me. Sure, it could have been worse, but it was a blur of cleaning and decluttering, of long days stuck inside due to crap weather, of hubby traveling, of more cleaning, of many stressful and anxious thoughts about trying to sell our house, of quite a few MEP-hosted pity parties, and several bottomed-out-crying-fit-woe-is-me breakdowns. On the positive side, I did see a little bit of sun for a few days in Florida . . . before we all got a nasty stomach bug. And I did see all of my siblings and my parents over the weekend as we surprised my mom for her 60th birthday.

And guess what, now it's March! It's March! It's March! It's March! March is my very favorite month, first and foremost because my birthday is in March. Second because I think the air outside smells different and better in March. Third because March is just such a hopeful month. I like the starting fresh/new year/good intentions vibe of January, but then in February I just tend to feel worn down and in a rut. Once March comes, there is at least the hope of spring. Sure, spring probably won't arrive in Chicago until late May, but in March you don't feel crazy for hoping! Plus, I like St. Patrick's Day and March Madness. I like the fundraiser at Bub's school. I like that there will surely be a few days when I can walk outside in just a fleece (not that I have any fleeces that I could zip over the ginormous belly right about now).

Sure, much of the uncertainty that plagued me in February remains. I don't know when our house will sell. I don't know how I will manage three kids. I am doing a decent job keeping the house clean for now, but don't know if I can keep it up. But, since it's March, I feel more confident that I can handle whatever comes my way. I feel relatively calm and hopeful, and it feels great.

So, in honor of my favorite month, I'm going to try out a new endeavor: March Gladness! March Gladness involves trying to be as positive, hopeful, and calm as possible and trying to post every day here at NTB because blogging makes me happy.

Stay tuned please and tell me, what's your favorite month? Does March have any special meaning to you?
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