Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brownie Wars -- You heard it here first.

All Thumbs Thursday is finally back.

Thumbs Up
+ Family fun with the Photo Booth.
+ Let's hear it for the magical summer weather that you think about on your worst day in February -- sunny and warm with a slight breeze and no humidity -- but that really only bookends weeks of torturous heat. I may be overstating the case, but this summer was a hot one, right? Loving the milder temperatures this week.
+ I can't believe I haven't mentioned it before, but how about the fact that Coca-Cola bought the rights (or something like that) to distribute Dr. Pepper?! Although Dr. Pepper is a special treat for me (as opposed to Diet Coke, my life's blood), I just feel happy picturing Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke together on the fountains at McDonalds and Qdoba.
+ Thomas's Bagel Thins. Not quite as satisfying as biting into a fresh and fat bagel, but for 100 calories and 5 grams of fiber, I am on board.
+ The novels of Emily Giffin. Had never read one and had some false assumptions about what they were like. What are they like? Delightful. I've read two in the past few weeks and really enjoy her writing. Good insights into relationships, plenty of right-on details, and funny as well. It's such a treat to discover a new-to-me author and have more unread novels waiting for me.
+ The new season of Project Runway -- I'm just enjoying it so much. I am mesmerized and deliciously annoyed by Gretchen's uber confidence. I am charmed by Mondo and even Casanova. And, of course, there's the designer whose clothes I always want to wear: Peach. You know, the more mature contestant whose stuff bores the judges? I'm all about Peach.
+ Cupcake Wars on Food Network. I am digging this show. Yes, you have to disregard the host and his ridiculous comments which are (I think) supposed to sound all bad-ass, tough guy. You also have to disregard the charade that the contestants are totally surprised by the ingredients presented, etc. At the end of the day though, I just like thinking about cupcakes and watching people bake and frost them. Added bonus is that Bub likes the show, and we can enjoy it together, especially on evenings when he gets to "stay up late" and wait for Daddy. NTB, but Bub has pitched a competing program called Brownie Wars. He told me last night, "We'll need a 'bideo' camera mom. What kind of brownies will you make? Mine will have blueberry, nutmeg, and cinnamon." I'll let you know how those turn out.
+ Peanut. Butter. M & Ms. I cannot get enough.
+ "Staycation" with my whole family last week at my parents. Lots of fun, food, and family bonding. The week kicked off with my beautiful cousin's wedding.
+ Sweet P's face when she rolls over from her back to her belly and then lifts her little head up to look all around. So stinking cute and so proud of herself!
+ Aarti Party -- I'm RSVPing "yes."
+ School starts on Monday. Bub is so excited, and I am looking forward to having a bit more shape to our days and to the social interaction the school year brings for all of us.

I'm too lazy to find much to complain about so I'll skip the "thumbs down" for this week -- a sign that all is well in my world!

What's thumbs up/thumbs down for you these days? Please share in the comments.

Disclaimer: No one has paid me or offered me free products in exchange for attention on this blog.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Notebook -- No, Not That One

During the months that I feverishly cleaned and decluttered our home in the hopes of selling it, I allowed myself, in my most hopeful moments, to imagine life in a new home. How I would decorate Sweet P's room with framed color copies of illustrations of literary heroines like Ramona, Anne of Green Gables, and Elizabeth Bennett. Maybe Bub could finally have a dedicated craft center. And wouldn't it be cool if we could have a living room that was more like a library than a sitting room. On one wall somewhere in the house I could feature various prints and paintings of cardinals, my very favorite bird (a whole post on cardinals and their significance to me is overdue). On and on.

When I began steeling myself for the disappointment of not selling and moving, I told myself that all my ideas could wait and maybe even better ones would come along. I found an unused composition book and decided to start recording all my plans and hopes and ideas. It's not really a journal because I don't write long entries or anything, but the notebook is more than and more special than a list. A collection? I'll just call it The Notebook for now. I started out collecting ideas for a new home, but it has turned into a spot where I collect all the things I want to do, try, remember, or consider someday. "Someday" could be next year or in twenty years. Someday might be tomorrow. I've collected references to recipes (i.e. "Melissa D'Arabian Chocolate Chip Rosemary Shortbread" and "Molly Wizenberg -- try pickling"). I've collected quotations (i.e. "The Measure of Love Is To Love Without Measure" from a plaque in my parents' house). I've collected names of books and websites I want to check out, craft projects I want to complete, and even two ideas for businesses (you know, for all my spare time). The Notebook makes me feel happy and hopeful and calm. I feel like a little squirrel storing away nuts for the long winter.
I'm planning to share more about The Notebook as I find the time to realize the hopes collected inside its pages.
One simple thing I had written down in The Notebook was to sort our children's books by theme. This idea is not all that clever as I know several organized moms who rotate books in and out all year. Christmas books come out after Thanksgiving, Halloween ones in October, and etc. Bub and I made an attempt to thematically sort the books during a nesting frenzy this past spring, but the end result is a bunch of books sorted into ziploc freezer bags and looking junky in the book cabinet. Since the books are consolidated in bags, it is easier to clean up when, as happens almost daily, the shelves get cleared. However, the bags also make it difficult to find out what's what.
I've decide instead to sort books by the month/season and to do it month by month, not all at once. I spent a few minutes this evening pulling books for September -- books about school(s), books about apples, and books to help Little Bit in learning his numbers, colors, and letters.
Because the Scholastic Book Order is my special mommy porn, I had no problem finding books for September inside our house, but I think it would also be fun to visit the library to collect books with a theme.
Can I just say how fun it was to choose the books? And how excited I am for Bub to see the special September book box? I know he is going to be so pumped up, and I hope that having this box might inspire us to read more and watch less Phineas and Ferb.
I like the feeling of making the most of some items that we already have and love the feeling that the kids and I may just be forging an awesome new family tradition.
Right now, I am loving The Notebook. My Notebook.
What do you think? What would you collect in your Notebook? Do you have one? Do you rotate books at your house? Any "September" books I should seek out? What literary heroines should be on Sweet P's walls someday when she finally has a bedroom and not just a corner of ours? Please share in the comments.

Please forgive the webcam photography. Also, please know that it is killing me that I have not yet adorned the September book basket with a colorful ribbon or possibly a cut-out of an apple.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Two" know, know, know him . . .

Little Bit turned two back in June, and I've been saving up little tidbits for a Little Bit post ever since. If you would have asked me about my Little Bit back in June, I would have said that he was "really good at being two." NTB. He's good at whining. Good at crying and screaming when he does not get his way. Good at stealing toys from his big brother and instigating battles. Good at saying (perhaps even screeching) "I do" or "No, Mommy, no" or "Mine!" Even good, I hesitate to admit, at biting every now and again.
Sometimes it's challenging to live with someone who is so good at being two, but we are trying to cut him some slack because he's two and has a new baby sister who needs to be fed and cooed over regularly. Little Bit also has a big brother who can articulate every single thing that he wants and needs to do. It's tough to be the little, middle guy who, though making great strides in speech and language, is often reduced to pointing, grunting, and repeating semi-comprehensible phrases.
Here are some of the little things I want Little Bit to know about who and how he was the summer he turned two.
I want him to know how he obsessively requested to have his hands washed and then demanded that any attending adult "mell mell" their fresh, clean scent.
I want him to know that he really started to love being read to, especially the David books by David Shannon, the How Do Dinosaurs . . . books, his old favorite Where's Elmo's Blanket (Elmo pronounced "Melmo"), Peek-a-Who, and Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar. In the latter, he likes to feed mommy the cookies before we close the book.
I want him to know that he still liked to be rocked to sleep.
I want him to know that he had lots of fun playing soccer, especially kicking the "squishy" balls at his Coach, playing red light/green light, and getting both hands and his belly stamped at the end of class.
I want him to know that he inherited Bub's trike and helmet and was pretty darn proud of himself.
I want him to know that he loved to talk on the phone, sometimes pressing speaker phone during mommy and daddy's conversations to bust in with a "hi" or "love you" (sounds more like "la you").
I want him to know that when we stayed in a motel one night, he took a styrofoam cup, filled it with toilet water, and poured it into the room's air conditioning unit. I actually think the humidifying effect helped clear up Sweet P's congestion that night. We've got an HVAC genius on our hands, NTB!
I want him to know that he was a dancing fool for two hours straight at his Aunt Shell's wedding and anytime he heard music at home.
I want him to know that he took his pajama bottoms off almost every night, but then refused to go downstairs in the morning without his "pants, pants."
I want him to know that he began performing awesome feats like jumping a few inches off the ground or from the ottoman to the couch. "Watch, Mommy, watch!" "Watch, Daddy, watch!" Best of all is, "Watch, Baby, watch!"
I want him to know that he loved, loved, loved him some "kiki" (candy) and that he once called for "kiki, kiki" for fifty minutes straight during a car ride.
I want him to know that his favorite activity at the park was swinging. Second favorite was climbing up the slide.
I want him to know that he did not consider his bath complete until he was wrapped up in a towel and positioned in front of a mirror with mommy or daddy chanting "Cutest Toddler Ever. Cutest Toddler Ever" (not to be confused with the "Cutest Baby Ever" or the "Cutest Big Boy Ever").
I want him to know that he had a double-dimpled, completely adorable, slightly mischievous grin.
I want him to know that we loved him so, so, so, so much because "two" know, know, know this two year-old is "two" love, love, love him.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oh, you're doing a load of towels? I have one to throw in.

I am finished. Just done.

Finished dusting.
Finished wiping tiny finger prints off three sets of French doors and an obscene built-in, mirrored shelving unit.
Finished magic erasering crayon scribbles.
Finished disassembling, stowing away, and reassembling two different pack n' plays.
Finished picking small pieces of dirt, lint, and bug carcasses off my stairs by hand because I don't know how the vacuum attachment that might do that works.
Finished rearranging the shampoos in my shower so as to cover the spot where the grout looks icky.
Finished hiding dirty dishes inside the dishwasher with clean ones just to clear out the sink.
Finished checking to make sure the blinds are open in a uniform fashion and not clumped in any spots.
Finished opening the upstairs curtains "just so" to let in the light.
Finished wiping the hairs off the bathroom floor.
Finished filling the back of my van with clean and dirty laundry, Bub's craft command center, and anything else I don't know what to do with.
Finished clearing and cleaning every flat surface in this house.
Finished turning up the heat and/or turning down the air conditioning.
Finished fiddling with the child cabinet lock so I can hide the dish soap and sponges.
Finished living without a toaster oven on the counter.
Finished turning lights on in every room of the house.
Finished straightening duvets and plumping pillows.
Finished carrying a vacuum up and down two flights of stairs.

I am finished doing all of the above seven, eight, and nine months pregnant.
I am finished doing all of the above with a new baby in the house, plus her two busy brothers.

I am finished losing patience with my kids who don't understand what all the cleaning and tension are about.
Finished being afraid to make a mess in the kitchen.
Finished being nervous to host any playdates or do any entertaining for fear that a showing might need to be scheduled during or immediately after.
Finished cleaning up until the last minute and joining my family in the "getaway van" without having had time to shower.
Finished treating the van as a second home.
Finished nursing Sweet P in the front seat of the van while checking to make sure the lookers got in the house and then timing how long they are inside.
Finished trying to analyze the relationship between length of showing and interest in house.
Finished hungering for every single piece of feedback that might be able to be gleaned from a showing.
Finished analyzing any morsel of information we receive about a potential buyer.
Finished checking the other listings in our area and trying to make sense of the market.
Finished answering the question, "How's it going with the house?"

I am finished with the never-ending cycle of hope and rejection that comes with each showing. And, NTB (??????), we have had many showings.

I am finished spending money on fast food, treats, the indoor play place, and extra babysitting to occupy the kids during showings or preparation for them.

I am finished wondering where we'll be when the school year starts or how I'll get everything packed.

I know where we will be: right here.

And it's okay. I'm sad that it did not work out for us this real estate season. I'm disappointed, sorely disappointed. At moments, I am pissed off. But mostly, I am exhausted.

I have to trust that if we were supposed to move this summer, things would have worked out that way.

I have to remember that in the grand scheme of real estate sob stories, ours is not all that sad.

I have to focus on what really matters: the family inside this home.

Are we looking forward to starting the whole process over again in 2011? We are not.

We are ready to stop wondering and stop worrying and to start living again.

I can't wait for "when we move" to enjoy life, to be my best self, to achieve some illusory state of family bliss. There's plenty of joy and happiness to be had without a front porch, a double oven, a large finished basement, built-in bookshelves, and offices for mommy and daddy.

We're closing the door to potential buyers for now, but we're keeping it open wide for all the joy and happiness and fun and friendship that can be found.

I have might have to reminded of that from time to time.

P.S. -- In case you are wondering, I have been praying to St. Joseph every day and have done the whole bit with two different statues as well. Please do not leave that piece of advice in the comments or I will weep.

P.S. #2 -- Also, I said the door is closed to potential buyers, but if you know anyone, send them our way!

P.S. #3 -- I could use a little encouragement right now. Thanks.

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