Gotta Stay on Top of My Life, Gotta Stay on Top of My Life

Is it just me, or is September kind of like January’s nerdy kid brother? Given all the back-to-school craziness and a return to “normalcy,” I tend to be confronted with the fact that I clearly didn’t do enough of a productive nature over the summer (even if I actually got a ton done). I flounder and stare face-to-face at a necessity to get my life in order. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Teachers, parents…hey, even single or retired folks. Something about that chill in the air, am I right?

January’s the cool kids’ turn to pick some resolutions in an attempt to kick start some positive change. I see September as a quieter, yet tad more frenzied time to do the same. All those lists that people consider on January 1st are just as relevant on September 1st. Perhaps because they’re not under a microscope as much, they may not be as intimidating…maybe?

So, obviously I’m taking a few steps to “stay on top of my life.” (If you don’t know the Kids in the Hall already, I beg of you — check out the video. If you’re not into a bit of bloody violence or quirky humor, please, for the love of God, don’t click. Oh, and this was a huge part of my adolescence. Explains lots.) For a simpler take on this, I provide you with this hilarious (or, if you’re not in the know, ridiculously random and stupid) take…


Yeah. I made that. Ahem.

Back to the point. Given that September is equivalent to January, I thought I’d share a little list of the “resolutions” I’ve already started working on. Some are relevant to being back at school and having more structured time (which means focusing on using my time more wisely) and others are just good ol’ self improvement things.


For the record, I hate the word “resolutions”, too.

Bed by 10pm (on school nights). Dang nabbit, I’m doing this. Depending on the night, falling asleep by 10 is easier than…coming up with an analogy. Other nights, my energy level is higher and I’ll force myself to lay down, sans TV/cell phone/any screens whatsoever and read. It’s helped me get to the conclusion of the book I’ve been reading ALL SUMMER, so that in itself is pretty rad. It also makes me far less grumpy come 6am. Um. Generally.

Getting in some exercise. I’m not taking on the PXButtKickandLiftChallengeXXI or whatever, but I’m hoping that by incorporating variations of cardio/Pilates/yoga/core strengthening, I’ll be gaining some much-needed extra energy as well as *hopefully* toning up some of the squishy bits. I’ve already mentioned it, but Spark People is a great free site that provides a variety of videos at various levels (hello, beginner!) and numerous lengths. I’ll probably move on to other sites if these ones aren’t cutting it anymore, but for now they’re perfect.

I think one of my issues in the past is that when I get it in my head to do something — anything — I go gung-ho initially and have a hard time following through at ANY pace. Apparently it’s something my father did in areas of his life. When it comes to exercise, I’ve done this but also burnt out thanks to overdoing it from the start. So, I’ve started out by doing one medium-length or two shorter videos at a time, breaking a good sweat but leaving myself feeling energized rather than totally zonked. I’ll build on.

Oh, and I’m doing this 3-4 days during the week and 1 day on weekends, while keeping track a) the exercise(s) and b) duration of workout on our family calendar, partly for motivation and partly because I have the memory of a…of a…I don’t even know what.

Setting boundaries. This. Is. Hard. I fall into this trend of not leaving school until after 4:30 (our contract says we can leave at 3:30). And it’s not like I’m doing anything super important. I’m just fiddling here and there with stuff that can totally wait ’til the next day. So, I’m trying to leave by 4 (and earlier on Fridays, can you imagine…). This helps with the aforementioned exercise goal (fitting in the exercise, a shower, and getting dinner underway before the guys get home) and will help me stay focused during the day on what needs to get done instead of putting stuff off ’til the end of the day.

“Money money money mooonnnneeyy. MONEY.” (That stupid song that’s used for “The Apprentice.” Gah.) I’ve mentioned this lately, but I’m going to be paying close attention to my spending, writing down my purchases, analyzing where my cash is flowin’ and why, and researching some ways to keep it under tabs.

For those in the balcony seats, let me project: I’M NOT GREAT WITH MONEY. It’s tough to admit that, as an otherwise generally responsible adult who thus far HAS been fine with moolah. (And I don’t have massive student loans as an excuse like my awesomely-getting-on-top-of-it husband.) But, yeah. We’re looking at some pretty big goals as a family and if I don’t focus on this area of life, it’ll be my fault. Not cool.

Thank goodness for cool, approachable sites like Our Freaking Budget. We also glean some good advice from Dave Ramsey, so you don’t have to leave any “Dave Ramsey is a GOD; we got rid of $1 million in debt and now have $1 million in savings thanks to him!” spiels in the comments…unless you want to brag. In which case, go on with your bad self.

Oh, and I’m even considering taking part in one of those “zero spend” challenges. Maybe. We’ll see. I’m gonna go cry now.

Planning meals. This one will help with finances but I’m also highly interested in seeing if meal planning truly does help me a) cut back on food waste, b) save ka-ching at the super and farmers’ market, and c) make life easier. I’ll check back if it does and let y’all know. And I’m on the hunt for real food cook-ahead and slow-cooker meals. SO hard to find slow-cooker recipes without a can or bottle of something super processed to bring it all together (and undoubtedly make it yummy).

Simplify, as always. This is kind of a life goal that sits on my shoulder everyday. I’m pretty lucky, though. It’s more like the cartoon angel version on the right side rather than the naughty/devilish kid on the left side. So, there’s that. But, yeah. PURGE is the name of the game. A lot of our house is looking more and more like “us”, and I love that, but we still have storage spaces (and, heck, out-in-the-open spaces like the toy explosion storage in our living room) that need another once-over. The basement is also in dire need of straightening and hoeing out (who you callin’…) AND painting, so there’s that.

The thing that sucks for me is that, well, again…I’ve got my dad’s gene of needing the motivation before getting up and DOING something. Takes me forever to finish a project, but once it’s done, it’s done pretty darn well. So, I can’t say on Monday that I’ll plan on working on the basement Saturday. I may wake up Saturday feeling motivated to do something else that’s equally important. Or play with Hadley all day. Or sit on my tush watching the world whiz by (while the laundry’s going…because at least then I’ll feel like I did SOMETHING). Whatevs.

But, I think the only way to break this is to just DO. Like, we wouldn’t have gotten our recent front porch project completed if Dave hadn’t said, “Okay, I’m going to start this.” (Once he started, I had to finish, so I didn’t want to let his hard work be overshadowed by my laziness.) And, believe me. I did NOT feel like doing it, but when it was done…well, awesomeness ensued.

Live in the moment. Observing the changes in Hadley. Enjoying the humor that my students pump into random lessons. Looking for moments of simple joy and lucky experiences. Contacting friends to hang out or come over for meals or meet up for coffee. In general, remembering to savor the good and hold onto the bad momentarily. 

Hey, look! Seven things in my list. Whatchya know? So, what about you guys? Do you feel like this time of year is a bit like New Year’s with its feeling of “let’s start this season on a new foot”?

Or are you just psyched for pumpkin spice everything? Really, though. Who can blame you?

Being Kinda Productive For Once

I finally kickstarted my “get some $%&# done around the house” engine. Maybe the guilt of not doing stuff was hanging over my head. Maybe the fact that I purchased paint weeks ago and it was sitting, unused, on our deck. Maybe I finally got enough energy (or overcame the mental demons). Maybe I wanted to find “bursts”(remember those?)  of easier-to-manage tasks (or chunked-up tasks) to make it seem simpler.

Whatever it was, I got to work. And, slowly but surely, the trend continues. It even spilled into the nearest vicinity like a nasty plague (not to the neighbors; to Dave!).

I had already wire brushed a majority of the formerly invasive ivy plants which had attacked the side of our foundation. Seriously, the left caterpillar-esque tendrils of plant veins clinging with what looked like millions of legs ON the cement. There were areas that I just painted over them (uncool, I know), but for the most part those buggers were gone.

So a few quick tips for painting a foundation…

Use a crappy brush. This is actually one of my FAVORITE short rubber-handled angle brushes, but it had seen its day. Your brush will be ruined and will no longer be able to follow a straight line. It’s a drunk brush, but it works for this purpose.


Use horrible posture and wear the least supportive shoes on earth. Seriously. I know you want to take several minutes to get up then walk like you’re 90 when you’re done, right? Follow this example:

Show your toddler-toting guns. Seriously, I didn’t know I had those. Thanks for the awesome picture-taking, Dorky Daddy!

My actual advice is to use an old newspaper to not only catch drips but use as a guard. Yes, it’ll keep paint from getting onto your garden beds/driveway/etc (it actually works; the stuff you see is actually junk from when they put in our new window) BUT it keeps your brush from getting dirt/gravel/mulch/randomness stuck in its bristles.

Nothing to see here, really. Just enjoying the picture. I look badass. Painting. With a “Life is Good” (“Half Full” glass) hat and my too-big cast t-shirt from our high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress”. It’s my go-to painting shirt and has splatters from every set I’ve ever painted on it. It’s getting buried with me. But, of course.

 

The perfectionist-without-perfection will admit right here, right now, for all the world to read: I’m not a fan of the paint color. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I know I wanted a more charcoal color, and admittedly this one looked darker on the swatch (and in the can, which tells me it’s not mixed wrong). I’m positive it’s the combination of a super bright summer sun and the angle with which it hits the foundation. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It also dries dark…er. Darker. Kinda.


Either way, it looks cleaner and brighter, so it’s fine. I’m not going to nitpick. S’all good.

I started the project late last week, then spent time with family on Saturday and got back to business on Sunday during naptime. Since there’s a chance of rain today, I’m not expecting to finish today (I’m about 2/3 done), but if I do, I do. And I kind of hope I do.

No worries, though. I’ve got another project halfway finished that will grab my attention if the “rain rain rain comes down down down…”

This. Damn. Ceiling. Okay. So…ahem. This spot had a super budget style light fixture installed…but it had been placed where the angled ceiling meets the straight part of the ceiling in our upstairs hallway. Like, a half circle was cut out of the angled ceiling. Crazy town.

 

(This is actually after I patched it for the LAST TIME.)

We’ve patched and sanded sporadically over the years, always putting it off longer. There were times we had thin little sheets of crappy patchwork hanging precariously. The cats had grown to ignore them, so used to the crapfest were they.

So, Sunday morning after we went out to breakfast (and I had discovered that my favorite antique center nearby wouldn’t open for another hour, egad), we returned home with one foul-moody, high-strung mama on board. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, so I checked my short list of house to-do’s, grabbed my sander and step stool and started the a-gypsum a-flyin’. (Not sure if it’s really gypsum in drywall…or whatever our house is made of…but work with me here.)

Of course, since I threw myself headlong into the project (happens. every. time.), I had failed to check on our spackle supply. D’oh. Very little, and all dried out.

Sooooo, Dave was good enough to watch Hadman while I ran to Lowe’s. Of course, $100-something later I also came home with a few super cheap window blinds and a handful of other do-dads for other projects…and my beloved Dap goes-on-pink/dries-white stuff.

I applied, then had lunch, put the munchkin down for a nap, and hit the outdoors (see: foundation painting). After Dave had gone inside and got the little guy up, I finished my painting for the day and headed indoors to sand, yet again.

I’m sure you already know this, but start with the lower grit number (it’s rougher); the higher, the gentler (finish with the gentler stuff).

Oh, and another word of advice. Don’t take selfies. Seriously, just don’t. But, if you MUST take a selfie, be sure to do it ONLY when you can embarrass yourself royally with it. 


And don’t lick your lips after sanding. Stupid idea.

So, today I hope to slap on a coat of ceiling paint (how do I have two gallons of THAT in the basement but am incessantly out of what I usually need?)

Oh, and I also took the cat tower’s rope scratching post from annihilated (spelled that on first try, woo to the hoo!) to looks-like-new —

RIP Monty Mouse. He squealed. #beardsleesourgodfather #jaspersourmuscle

Complete with massive amounts of help and support from Beardslee along the way. #notreally #heslept  He made some headway on reupholstering Daddy’s computer chair completely in cat fur, though.


And I thought I’d share a few pics of how the garden’s doing, along with its fashionable tulle attire (to keep cat poop out of our food…how’s THAT for fabulous?).

Last I knew, those things (to the left, to the left) weren’t trees. Too bad they turned into trees this summer ‘cuz they’re bogarting all the sun for my garden, man.

Oh, and the trellis near the garden in that picture? History. (It was being eaten by ants.) That was Dave’s huge project this weekend, and it’s awesome to finally have the thing down. Plus, a farmer helping neighbors move asked if he could take the posts and everything (ants and all), so it all got a second life. *warm fuzzies*

Summer squash lookin’ all growy and stuff…

Can you see what I see? Look closely…little neon green cuteness. (I don’t mind that they’re cute. I just mind the taste when they turn red and, y’know, “edible.” Ew. I love my husband enough to grow him two tomato plants, guys. That’s mad huge love.)

Right after I picked one handful of lettuce, right before I picked the rough-around-the-edges leaves. Keeping it real.

Our first “bounty.” Just a teensy strawberry (I moved those near the front of the garage and they’re doing “eh, okay”) that Hadley ate immediately, a couple of cherry tomaters and jalapenos, and a fistful of lettuce.

Whew! So! I know it’s a long one, but that’s how we’ve been productive lately. How about you? Getting anything checked off any lists — even if your list includes sitting on a sandy beach with something cold to drink? (I’d like to live vicariously.) Go ahead, tell! Or just post some horrific selfies in the comments to make me feel better about my lack of selfie skillz.

Dick Van Fans

It’s no secret that we’re kinda…yeah, we’re a tad “different.” We listen to eclectic music selections; we watch vintage Sesame Street; we wish Hadley could grow up in Carville while we devour our Andy Hardy movies (rest in peace, Mickey!) and other classic, black-and-white films; I love history books and Dave loves comic books. We’ve got all sorts of quirky up in here.


So, it should come as little surprise that we have a new favorite.

Thanks, once again, to our super basic cable package and Netflix usage, we have stumbled upon The Dick Van Dyke Show in much the same way that he tended to stumble over a wayward toy or ottoman. With great zeal!

The weird thing is that I never watched this show as a kid, and I don’t think Dave did. I followed plenty of old shows (Mr. Ed, Dennis the Menace, Lassie, My Three Sons — horrible acting, great storyline, a bunch of the old cop shows, and two personal favorites — Batman and The Monkees), but I never saw “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” But, boy, are we wicked glad we have now!

Since the winter has kept us pretty much eating in front of the TV every night, we’ve gotten into the habit of dragging Hadley’s seat into the living room, firing up the ol’ Wii sensor, and continuing on with the next show. We’ve become familiar with every single character and their particular quirks, and Dave has read several “trivia” pieces from the interwebs when a question or an “I wonder if they…” idea pops up.

A few of our favorites?

– The show was the first of its kind to have a character like Sally (played by Rose Marie, who just happened to guest star in two Monkees episodes), a single, independent, working woman.

– Dick Van Dyke gave up his role on Broadway to star and was such a mess on the day they taped the first show that he missed out on Kennedy’s inauguration (which everyone else seemed to watch).

– He also seemed to think that Mary Tyler Moore was too young to portray his wife, and she was also meant to be a secondary character (with most of the action happening at the office). Her talent was quickly noticed and her character was given more storylines (Rose Marie didn’t get along with her very well for this reason), and Dick was won over. Side note: They were said to each have crushes on the other at certain points throughout the show. *blushes* So cute!

– The show was actually based on Carl Reiner’s time writing for “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar. The character of Buddy was based on Mel Brooks.

– Buddy (friend and “co-writer” to Dick’s character) and Mel (the “show’s” producer) were actually great friends in real life despite having characters that are constantly at each other’s throats. As a matter of fact, they used to get together and have drinks after work to see what zingers they could come up with.

Ohhh, it just keeps going. Of course, my favorite bit of trivia happens in our very own living room. Hadley sometimes finds himself smitten with Laura, giving the TV doe eyes and getting shy. It’s these times when he decides to shout out to her — “Mama! Mama, mama, mama!” I could possibly be flattered, but I know that anyone who appears to be a) a woman or b) in pairs, he tends to refer to that way.

We also ADORE the fact that they tried very hard to keep slang out of conversation in order to make the show seem less timely. In other words, it has held up VERY well (for the most part) and we find ourselves laughing our butts off today.

What about your family? Do you have any quirky favorites?

Freaking Yes

I found a new blog that I’m SO excited about that I couldn’t contain myself in sharing it with y’all! So much so that I’m even posting on a usual “off” blogging day. Can ya believe it?! I know. Crazy town.

I equally love and dislike finding a rad new website or blog. Hear me out.

Love? Finding someone who can entertain you and educate you simultaneously.

Dislike? That they’ve been writing so long that there’s a huge cache of incredible information. *Brain explodes.*

Love? Relating (probably too much) to their humor.

Dislike? Wait…where did the last three hours go? My tea’s cold and the baby’s awake?? What has happened to my life???

Love? Helpful, relatable tips that are immediately applicable to my life. They’re watching me. They must be.

Dislike? What a sleek, modern, yet inviting appearance. My blog looks like it walked into a poopy willow store — or a free background Google search, either way.


I check in with several blogs. Most are DIY/design blogs (as you may well know). Some are family blogs. Some are just plain hysterical. (#neonfresh) When I find a lifestyle or food blog, I tend not to follow it regularly, for whatever reason. Wait, I know. I tend to use them for one purpose, then move on. (Is that catty? I don’t mean to be. Sorry, blogs-I-only-check-out-once! I have a family to feed and bathe and watch Cary Grant movies with!)

Through a favorite blog, I found Our Freaking Budget. I KNOW, RIGHT?! With a name like that, how can it not be a) hilarious, b) informative, c) entertaining, or d) all of the above.

(Here’s a hint, kids. Always pick “all of the above” if it’s an option. The odds are in your favor. *wink*)

Since we’re still on quite the financial trip over here (short story – Dave’s got mad college debt (but is impeccable with his budget and tracking of financials) and I’m the anti-budgeter…and Hadley eats like a 16-year-old boy, I swear.), I’m finding tons of value in every post I’m reading on their site.

Here are just a few articles that have me either chuckling or nodding…or both:

How to Organize Your Financial Paperwork – Wait. I can throw out bank statements?! *Clouds part, angels sing*

All Things Budgeting – This is where I need the most work…so I read. The link includes numerous posts on this topic. I’m totally going to steal borrow their “Everything Else” concept. I love the looseness in that. It’s got “Meg!!! It’s so easy even YOU can do it!” written all over it.

It’s not super financial-related (although, if it costs money, isn’t it ALWAYS financial-related?), but I love the He Says/She Says: Pillows debate. As a lady who loves a good, practically useless decorative throw pillow, my heart goes out. Although, with a toddler, they’ve come in handy for breastfeeding…and he always likes the cushiony squishiness under-head during a diaper change, so there’s that. See? Purpose served!

LOVE this Are You a Dave or a Suze? post about the differences between Dave Ramsey (guru of attacking and mercilessly murdering one’s debt) and Suze Orman (whom I can only picture as an SNL character, no matter how hard I try otherwise). Best part of the post? That they refer the mix of their styles as “Duze.” 

I’m not a “Breaking Bad” follower (heck, if my heart can’t take the ups and downs of Downton Abbey, how can I handle meth heads? Is that what the kids are calling them these days? Meth heads?), but the branding on this Breaking Bad Budgets post cracks me up — and the content is aces.

This one, Budgeting Means You Don’t Like Nice Stuff (clearly not true), hits the nail on the head so well, I shared it on Facebook already. If you know how infrequently I share stuff, you know that’s kind of a big deal for me.

I could go on and on. There’s. Just. Too. Much. GOOD. So, finally, I will give you…

Inbox Zero: How to Whip Your Emails into Shape – I don’t remember how many email ACCOUNTS I have. I still mainly use my Yahoo, although I’d like to make the switch over to Gmail for good. It’s kind of like how I still haven’t found the courage/energy/time to switch to a closer credit union. Anyhoo, my Yahoo account has 6,211. Strangely, the oldest in my inbox is from April 24, 2008. And…OMG…I’m seeing professors emailing me about graduate classes that I’ve long since completed. Oye. Yes, this needs chipping away, for sure.

My financial must-have of the year is a new computer. I’ve hemmed and hawed for years over a replacement. Another Windows OS or refurbished Apple? For awhile I even considered next to no programs and just utilizing Google’s free apps — Google Drive, etc. (My current Dell was purchased over 4 years ago, I believe. There’s something wrong with the video card so there’s a big bar splitting the screen in half vertically, the caps lock key was torn off by a certain baby, — who shall remain nameless — and the “r” sticks like mad (hardly working one minute and snapping too much at others). Rrridiculous.

Since I don’t/won’t put any purchases on a credit card, I’m working on it.

The other financial “whoa” is that we’re hoping to meet with some financial folks to see how viable a possible move would be. (Not too, too far.) There, I said that publicly. Now we won’t qualify for squat. 😉 But, seriously, analyzing what our fix-ups need to be (cough-driveway-cough)

So, happening upon a blog that shows that financial freedom can work for normal folks like me, who are more on the creative side of things than the practical side, gives me some hope and doesn’t stress me out like other sites. I guess this one is a ton more “love” than “dislike.” Now, off to mysteriously lose several more hours of my life. *poof*

SIDE NOTE: WHO SAW DOWNTON SUNDAY?? ARGH! I knew someone was getting (spoiler) this season, but I didn’t expect it to be (spoiler). I hope (spoiler) doesn’t go postal.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Innocent. Unassuming. Even strangely invisible. But this damn toilet paper holder brought blood, sweat and tears for my poor husband.

See, our walls kind of…suck. For the longest time, it took a couple of hours to hang ANYTHING involving anchors. They don’t appear to be plaster, but they’re super hard, so odds are they probably are. We needed to get a more heavy-duty drill to handle what they were dishing. Seriously. Hate. These. Walls.

That’s probably why it’s taken us so long to add the floating shelves, towel hooks and this TP holder to the bathroom. Those finishing touches that should be relatively simple could end up breaking us. Add the fact that there’s HARD AS A ROCK tile (along with what seems to be the hardest mastic ever known to man used behind it; my stepdad, who has worked on countless bathrooms, has never seen such a hard wall) behind the bead board and you’re just asking for a headache. We’ve known it. We’ve procrastinated.

But, one Sunday night, Dave decided it was time to check at least this one project off our list. Maybe he was sick of reaching around to grab the roll off the back of the toilet. For whatever reason, it was TOUGH.

There was a burned hand (from the torque of the drill, I kid you not). There were two calls to my stepdad. There was major swearing (he NEVER swears, folks! That’s my job). And, finally, there was disappointment that it was crooked. He felt defeated. Yes, there were almost tears (I think he started to well up, but I didn’t see it…so let’s just say he kept it together).

I suggested he put the roll on to see how crooked it really was. When he did, we noticed…



Nothing. It looked perfectly fine. Considering how much general crookedness we have in our house, it fits right in and even looks good. Phew.

So, my friends, you have heard the story of how Dave won the Battle of the Bathroom, Round 1. Let’s hope we survive the next couple of rounds to call this thing, finally, DONE! At least it’s coming together. 

Randomonium 1.0

Get it?? Random + pandemonium = a far-fetched blog title. Some things look far better in our heads.

Sooooooooo, welcome to the first (and possibly only) edition oooofffff Randomonium!!! The only game show host-y review of some random crap I’ve got floating around the ol’ noggin with no bearing on anything important or relevant to AAAANNNNYYYONE!!!

Random #1: If I had to take a course in Google+ I’d be failing. I just can’t wrap my head around the circles and the general mayhem goin’ on up in therrre. I’m sure it will probably be the replacement to Facebook, some day, so I’d better get a move-on, but seriously? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Random #2a: Two things that will never get old? “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” (See Rando #1.) and, of course, hashtags. #sarcasmrocks #almostasfunnyasanthonyweinerjokes #doyouevernoticethatitseemslikepeoplegooutoftheirwaytomakesuperdeeduperlonghashtagsimeanreallywhatsthepointwhydonttheyjustgettheirownblogandwritetheirlifestoryitdbewayeasiertoreadandlesstaxingontheeyesdoesanyoneelsethinkthatweregoingtohavemajorvisionissueswhenwegetolderthankstothesedangcomputersandphonescreensandsoforthbutidigresswherewasigoingwiththis

Random #2b: You know when commercials catch onto the hashtag thang, it’s only a matter of time before the funeral. Which is a little sad because they can actually be funny…on occasion…when done right. #herelieshashtag #weknewhimwhen #oncegoodforfindingthemainidea #alsogoodforaddinghumortoacomment #lostallrelevence #overusefail

Random #3a: I am enamored with all things British royalty. Who knew? I think my husband wanted to disown me while I was eagerly awaiting (unlike 98% of the rest of the world; I really think about 2% of us were thrilled beyond words; the rest wanted the “Great Kate Wait” to just not be covered, which I get) the birth of Prince George. C’mon, Wills and Kate are just the cutest little couple EVER, they’re my age (which makes me think that we could all be BFFs and hang out at a local pub…not really), and it’s just good to focus on something positive, for once. Given the unseemly history of the royals over the years (and I don’t even mean the whole Charles’ affair thing), it’s better than massive beheadings and poisoning your brother for the throne, amiright?! Side note: Louis…Lewis? Or Lewy? I should’ve placed bets; I got it right. (It’s Lewy.)

Random #3b: My iPhone case is the red “Keep Calm and Carry On” graphic. That is all.

Random #4: Groundhog…or woodchuck? Split the difference: ground chuck. I did this completely accidentally when I was about 12. While driving with my mother, I spotted a groundhog and blurted out, “Oh, look!! A ground chuck!” She laughed heartily and never let it go. Of course, this was also the day that we went to a movie and saw one of those pre-movie images of an old movie — and read “African Queen” as “A Fricken Queen”. I’ve since seen the movie and loved it. One of maybe two or three films featuring Bogart that I can stand to sit through.


Random #5: Speaking of woodchuck…I love me some Woodchuck. No, not roadkill. (I don’t hunt, either.) Woodchuck Hard Cider, of course! It happens to be made in our favorite home-away-from-home, Middlebury, VT. One day, when the little one’s older, we’re SO going to do a brewery visit. I mean, if we did Magic Hat during our honeymoon, the least we could do is visit my favorite cidery. Wait, is that a word?

Random #6: What’s more random than Jasper…admiring my clam chowder…and taking to Instagram with it…and my hubby responded. (Side note: Marry someone who can make you laugh. Consequently, marry someone who is hard to make laugh. Early on, when we were first dating and I made him laugh uncontrollably, it gave me the best feeling in the world to think, “This guy never laughs…and I’m making him cry-laugh. Either he really likes me or I’m just that good.” Either way, win-win.)


And I’ll leave you with sweet Jasper for today.

Egg Salad, Storms and BumGeniuses

Day 2 of summer vacation (excluding weekends) and we’re hangin’ in there. We’ve had storms (and pretty insane ones) since Sunday, to the point where there were mudslides not far from my school and they’re still in a state of emergency. So, yeah, I’ve got no complaints. Except lunch. #firstworldproblems #imlucky

You might not think so, but there are some challenges figuring out what to do for lunch when you’re not working all summer. Sure, it’s tough to figure out lunches for work, but it’s so easy to fall into a dangerously unhealthy habit. During the year, you get into the swing of things and figure out what works for you — namely, planning. Either taking leftovers or always having a couple of go-to lunches in the event that leftovers are lacking.


I’m used to eating small snacks throughout the day (with one main “meal-like” item like leftover pasta or a sandwich). In the summer, especially chasing a very active 11 1/2 month-old around, it’s easy to forget to, well, eat. So, while I don’t quite get in the same snacks as before, I’m trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy (not just with lunches, but more on that in a moment). I’m buying some of the same stuff that I usually gobble up whilst working — organic cheese sticks, yogurt, peanut butter, fruit (the first two (and maybe fruit) are sharable with the munchkin, woohoo!), but I realized a food item that went something like this —

clouds part

rays of sunshine stream into the house

voices of unseen angels begin to sing

I am suddenly struck with the oh-so-simple idea…
Egg salad.

Ha. Yeah, I just did that. Don’t question, just come along for the ride.

For some very, very strange reason, the ladies in my family (namely my mama and deceased grandmother…possibly my sis) have this thing for egg salad sandwiches. I’ve had quite possibly a thousand in my lifetime. Yeah, Grandma made them A LOT…and we spent time at her house A LOT. So, thanks to my ever-present idolization of the past, there’s a certain way I must eat an egg salad.

1. Toasted bread. But not too toasted. That painful crunch of a too-brown piece of bread? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

2. No frills. Mayo + hard boiled egg (this is the part I have a hard time with, particularly cooking it enough so that it’s not “soft boiled” and the damn shell not taking half the whites with it) + salt ‘n peppa (not the singing group). No cayenne. No olives. None of that crap. Again…nobody got time….

3. Sides. Now, if I want to admit it, I’m not being a complete purist. Sometimes I use wheat bread and, in the case these days, generally a peasant bread (from our local bakery, Heidelberg). Back in the day, it was squishy soft bread (again, often toasted…what the?! Occasionally the squishy soft worked well with the egg salad, but it was nuts not to toast it at any. Possible. Opportunity.). Also, to be honest, we had a stack o’ Pringles (ugh…if those aren’t modified, genetically and otherwise, I don’t know what is) and a hunk of Velveeta (again, modified to the hilt!). So, yeah. Those I don’t do. Sometimes, we’d have a pickle, so I hooked myself up with one today, but I DID partake in one “must-have.” I had me a nice mug o’ chocolate milk.

Side note: The Hadman is a fan of pickles. He literally crawled all over me to get a bite of the thing. Dave says that if this trend sticks, he takes after me. (We’re already discovering that, personality-wise lately. Poor thing. Poor us!)

So, all of the above will be happening this summer…lots. I may (vegetarian M-F be damned) even have a tuna sandwich from time to time, but egg salad will be my main go-to. Oh, and in case folks weren’t aware, we’re more focused on “real” food, sustainable/environmentally conscious decisions (the chickens that gave us these eggs, as often as we can get them, are pasture-raised and humanely treated)…and yumminess. Cholesterol? Fat content? We don’t believe calorie-counting is healthy. Being aware of your food and its sources is healthy.

Oh, and our weather lately has been ca-ray-zee! It’s uber hot and humid, which is fine, but throw in some thunderstorm and flash flooding and…whew, let’s just say we’re very lucky to not be effected like others in the area. Bananas!

A second “oh, and” is that yesterday was our first day doing cloth dipes!! We’re dealing with a period of adjustment, so I’m apprehensive to say “it’s a complete success, I’m an idiot for waiting!” because I don’t quite feel that way yet. I’ve gotta get into the habit of changing him more (sucka leaks…and it’s not from the dipes, they’re doing great, he just produces piss like nobody’s business) and I feel like a monster ate half of my BumGeniuses. Need. More! Where’d they go?? Wiiiiinstoooonnn…you may THINK you’re the baby, but you’re not. Not literally, anyway.

But his butt is SOOO cute in them, especially after I’ve changed him and he doesn’t have anything else on. A 3/4 naked baby body + adorable diaper colors = cuteness overload. I’ll be back with an update after we’ve been at it for a week or so.

BTW, sorry for the loopiness and…wait, let me check. Yes. Yes, there was mild swearing. Sorry for that! Next’ll be better, promise!

Birthday Bash Brainstorming

Mmm, alliteration. Truly a girl’s best friend. And after re-reading this post, parentheses.

So, the monkey’s big birthday (you know, the BIG birthday…the FIRST birthday) is coming up July 13th. Sure, it’s still May, but I live in this little place called reality, where once a child is born, time starts playing horrific tricks on us. He’s practically shaving.

Okay, not shaving, but he’s insanely mobile (mere moments from walking, I swear) and even says a few words. Wait, “oof oof” is totally a word, right? It is when it’s associated with dogs (and, for the time being, cats…they’re the same thing, all the cool kids say). And the time seriously feels like it passed in the blink of an eye. The blink of an exhaustedly blood-shot, tear-filled eye.

To stave off any further waterworks, I’m focusing my emotional energies into creating an awesomesauce birthday party. I’m using Pinterest, oh evil mistress of perfection-flaunting in the face of mere mortals, to glean some ideas that might be fun to try. But, you know, since I live in reality (and am the mother of an active 10 1/2 month old who demands attention; would he prefer to have free reign and complete independence? Sure thing. Do I want to have a child with numerous concussions and cats with mental scars for life? Hellz no.), I’m fully aware that most of these aren’t attainable.

We can dream, can’t we? If I hit 40%, that’ll be doing something.

Oh, and I also live within a reality which involves people who would think me a tad overboard for implementing all this stuff. So, I have to reign it in, too, simply as not to have any heads exploding come July 13th. Not a pretty way to celebrate a fun day. Horrible replacement to fireworks.

As with most things we do, I’d like to keep it green. Recently, I stumbled upon a website that is essentially nothing but a depressing sob-fest (for softies such as myself) displaying hundreds of pictures of animals who have been injured or killed by balloons after being allowed to float away or even just after being thrown away properly. Damn, Hadman loves balloons. That’s okay, social responsibility comes first — and he won’t even know what he missed. Tissue pom-poms or Chinese lanterns, it is, son! 


What’s a birthday party without hats? A regular ol’ barbecue, that’s what. So, for those who want to wear one (sign me up, please!), we have a couple of options…

(These are wooden, but you get the idea. I guess they make birthday crowns from newspaper in England. Not only eco-friendly, but classic! Hadley’s not a hat guy, so this is only an “if Mommy wants to get all Martha Stewart and sleep very little” option.)

source
I’ve already purchased some hats (to reuse over time), but dude. Just dude.
That whole site is chock full o’ birthday sweetness.

Like these!!!!! I’m on the hunt for some sans serif cookie cutters. Baking in inevitably 90° weather with an almost-toddler? I’m an idiot. But, if I find an “H” I can use it every year! Y’know. In the sweltering heat. *smacks forehead* Oh, and of COURSE I’m searching for natural (ie fruits and veggies) alternatives to food coloring. Blueberry’s a must, simply because Hads loves ’em.

Or I could always make (or buy?) cake pops. I’ve never had them but I hear they’re the rage. Or, at least that’s what the kiddies are shouting into my Miracle Ear. Could also buy cupcakes (maybe the ones we used for our wedding!!!) and make a smash cake myself for the monkey. Ha. More baking.

Speaking of smash cakes, here’s a lower sugar, all-natural option I’m considering.
Plus, bananas and blueberries = very happy almost-toddler. I did not just type that word. *sigh*


STILL from the aforementioned party (man, that Beckham’s got swagger), I love just the simple container for napkins, utensils, etc (I was searching Target today for eco-friendly of all of the above; think I’ll have to hit up Peter’s Cornucopia; love that place) and a chalkboard for the menu. Of course, this is the one area that I’ll be considered crazy if I just say “Let’s just do a cheese/cracker (I guess we don’t do “bread”) and veggie tray, some cookies and cupcakes, and maybe some cute sandwiches on baguettes.” Inevitably, there will be mounds of salads — green (specifically for my husband, who eats nothing with mayonnaise), potato, pasta — possibly several types of grilled meats, perhaps a pizza will show up…food’s one thing we do, and do to excess. No point, really.

See, in my mind, which is always grasping for the aesthetically-pleasing, slightly quirky and quasi-hip method, I’d want the money (hell, if no one else wants to pitch in, I’ll do it!) on organic soda (it exists! And in purdy bottles, too!) and a craft beer chilling in a galvanized tub with some homemade lemonade in mason jars, and a display that looks something like this (sans tomato soup and pie)…

Darn you, Beckham.

I am also considering, food-wise, something along the lines of this…

Not that font or description, but the thought behind it. Our kid’s got a pretty refined pallet (read: will eat anything, particularly off floor). Avocados. Extra-sharp cheese. Pasta. A plethora of fruit-and-veg blends including kale or beets. Oh, and pizza…and generally anything that adults eat that we literally need to fight him off to consume. It turns into a scene from Oliver!, I kid you not. “Please, sir…!!!” So, I’m thinking pizza, homemade guac with chips for dippin’ (maybe salsa, too), fruit salad (bananas, kiwi, blueberries, cantaloupe), veggie sticks (the ones in the organic chip aisle; he can’t handle the raw stuff quite yet), and cheese ‘n crackers (or a cheese dip of some sort).

By the way, we’re not doing a theme this year. We considered it for one mad minute, but then realized “Um, he’s one. That’s a theme right there.” (If we wanted to get all dramatic, we could do the “Not yet a man, no longer an infant…” theme. Mustaches abound! Or giraffes. God, the giraffes.) We’re just going with the colors of his nursery, for the most part — y’know, turquoise, orange, green. Good times.

(Maybe one day we’ll do the Mo Willems theme…or the Fred Astaire theme…or whatever the heck else he’s interested in. But, we’ll strive to keep them home-grown events without the rigmarole of inviting an entire freaking grade of kids. We’re not here to show off, just have fun. And Mommy totally has fun with aesthetically-arranged sodas, mkay?)

Speaking of which, one thing that our parties tend to lack is organized fun. It’s a tad tough to do this (same goes for favors) since we don’t really have a plethora of kids coming. There’s Hadley, his cousin Lizzie (who will be 2 months shy of 2 years old *more sobbing*), and MAAAAAYBE one more friend of the family who’s not school-aged yet. Tada. The rest are teenagers *yet more sobbing, I changed their dipes* and a buttload of grown-ups. So, rather than force people to violently whack something whilst wearing a blindfold (never got that), I’m thinkin’ we’ll do a variation of this…

Halleluia, it wasn’t at Beckham’s party! (No hard feelings, kid. You seem pretty darn cool. Future play date! My child is far less crazy than am I.) Anyhoo, I was thinking more of a card that folks could fill out — one would write something loose like this while the other might have fill-in blanks (what he wants to be, what color his hair will be, what his favorite animal/instrument/food/hobbies/sport, etc.) and folks can do either one. I also considered a photo booth type thingie (just hanging a backdrop and leaving directions and props for photos), but I’m not sure anyone will do it. Party poopers.

Oh, and as far as entertainment goes, it sounds like the hubs hopes to make a video of the kid’s first year. Talk about emotions, gah!

Another “oh, and” — this whole thing is kindly taking place at my mother’s house since she has a perfectly-sized backyard for stretching out, playing, and so forth. I mentioned inviting non-family members (it reaches about 16 or 17 just with close family) and I think I heard smoke come out of her ears through the phone. She nervously mentioned not knowing what to do with folks if it rains, but I brushed it off. (Sure, neither of our houses is big enough to handle that many people. I get the concern, I do.) But, it ain’t no thang. We’ll make it work. I know folks with “pop-ups” and we could always run and grab an extra tarpy tenty thingie or two. I’m on it, Mom!! If you read this. In which case, HI!!!


One last thing (check me out on Pinterest if you really want to subject yourself to more) is probably what I should’ve showed you first: a possible invite.

Okay, forget the “possible” part. I already “borrowed” this idea, downloaded some fonts, and stayed up until almost midnight last night hashing out a similar design (orange rather than red, close-but-no-cigar on the fonts, and a cool black and white tree trunk background). Sorry, Magnus, your time’s up — HADMAN’s in town, and he’s a-takin’ over.

So…think I’m nuts to put so much thought and effort into a one-year-old’s party, or do you get where I’m coming from? Aside from my aesthetic-loving self, it’s about celebrating the life-altering first year of the specialest little guy ever. That’s all. 😉

Zombified

Did I just say that I had spring fever? I stand corrected. I now have “Up All Night syndrome + daylight savings hangover” fever. (BTW, I totally would’ve liked ‘Up All Night’ if they’d actually stuck with the concept of…y’know…parenting a new baby!!! Down the toilet. Sorry, Will Arnett. Thank goodness the ‘Arrested Development’ “extension” will be coming out soon to put you back in my good graces. As if you care. Although your ’30 Rock’ cameos will always have a warm place in my heart.)

I know folks today will be bitching up a storm today/this week about being tired, and I get that. I’m with you 100%. And everyone will be trying to outdo each other. That, I find obnoxious. We’re all zombified, whether we worked the weekend or just had to get up early the first time this morning or had an almost-8-month-old with a thrown-off schedule decide he’d like 3-4 feedings throughout the night. We’re all in the same boat, so complain all you’d like, but don’t complain that others aren’t entitled to it, too. 😉

There, enough of my rant. It’s strange what tired-colored-glasses do to you. I’ve heard people stumbling over their news scripts, students who were complete crickets when I asked a question (usually hard to get them to shut up), co-workers getting pulled over… For me, the exhaustion takes on more of a mild mental anxiety/depression. But, I’m fully aware that with great sleep/adjustment comes great relief. It’ll get better.

I still can’t wait to experience spring and summer with the little munchkin. Just let me nap for a few minutes first before goin’ all Easter bunny on his arse. Just. A. Few.

*snort* By the way, anyone else notice that, be it from a weather change or be it from over-tiredness, your dreams get really, really weird? Or horrific? The hubs and I have been dealing with that lately. Anyone else? Anyone? Or are you all asleep on your keyboards?

A Note From My 16-Year-Old Self

I’ve read some incredibly inspiring “letters” from individuals to their teenage selves, in the vein of “if I’d known then what I know now…” When I look back, however, I tend to find more inspiration in the person I once was. So, I thought I’d do a little method acting (think of that) and try to place myself into the brain of my 16-year-old self and see what advice I might have to give…to myself.

So, you reached 30, huh? That blows my mind on so many levels. Here are some things I hope you’ve remembered along the way…or, if you haven’t, START remembering:

Don’t stop being weird. There was a time that we were hurt at the prospect of being considered strange. I still remember telling Mom in the car on the way to the farm that kids at school (we were in about 5th grade, remember) were calling me weird. It wasn’t in a bullying way, but I found that it bothered me and even hurt. I liked different music. I read different things. I watched irreverent TV shows and old black-and-white movies. I was sensitive but outspoken. I wasn’t quite a tomboy, but was far from a girlie girl. Today, as my 1998 self, I’m terribly proud of the fact that I’m still that person. As far as the tiny school bubble in which I live, I exist amicably with most everyone, and have been lucky enough to find acceptance. I’m hoping that you’re able to maintain who we are without apologies.

Stay friends with the people you truly trust. You know, the ones who don’t talk behind your back and make you nothing but paranoid. The ones who accept your weirdness. And try to remember to be a good friend back at ’em, ‘cuz they may stick with you for the long haul. Oh, and anyone who’s put up with your Monkees obsession…yeah, they deserve a place in some Hall of Fame some place.

Say what you feel, when it matters. I know we have a tendency to be loud-mouthed, opinionated and incredibly outspoken when we’re around people we’re comfortable with, but at the same time incredibly insecure and shy when we’re intimidated by larger-than-life personalities (like a certain teacher we all know) or unknown experiences. It’s okay to be shy, but don’t let that stand in your way of doing things. And DON’T let ass&%#@$ pile-drive you. ‘Cuz there’s always gonna be ass&%#@$.

Try new things. I even have a hard time with this one today, myself. Remember when we were sick for “Oliver!” auditions and you didn’t take the chance to try out? We were lucky when Jen moved and you got her part, but it didn’t feel very earned, did it? Nope. Just go forth and have frickin’ fun. We’ll only live once, and as cliche as that sounds, it’s damn true.

Don’t live life for anyone but yourself…er, us. Recently, I told Mom (remember, after church school on our way home?) that I thought I’d like to get better at guitar and maybe try seeing if I could make a go at a folksinger type of life (ie not necessarily go to college). She immediately put us down. Didn’t feel so good, did it? While it’s important to make her happy, at what point will you realize that you have to make YOU happy, too? I hope you’ve been successful with this one. It’s a biggie.

– In other words, do what you love. Whatever that may be.

Marry a nice guy who you can laugh with, and who you don’t mind taking care of when they get old/sick. And if you can’t find someone you can laugh with, or who can accept you and your weirdness, just keep looking. ‘Cuz the dating pool here in Mohawk is not the end of the line, thank God.

Keep busy! Play at least one sport, and try to do something creative, like, always. I personally think you should stick with tennis, especially since Katharine Hepburn is STILL doing it in her frickin’ 90s! Plus, you can be competitive without needing a full-blown team. Oh, I suppose I should also clarify — keep busy DOING FUN THINGS. Things that you enjoy doing. Don’t keep playing oboe if it’s not fun for you…and DON’T feel guilty if you stop. But, if you ever miss something, try it again and see if it’s still in your blood. It’s okay to do that, especially since these days it’s more of a chore to do homework and practice oboe, sax, piano and voice for SoloFest, on top of tennis and marching band. It might be more fun when it’s less pressure.

Long live the Monkees. And Dave Foley & KITH. And Jimmy Stewart. And Bruce Ward. And NEVER, EVER wear tapered-leg jeans again, if you can help it, even if they come back “in.” Always keep a pair of flared legs on hand. No more perms. Oh, and no matter how much we love Peter Tork…don’t do the bowl cut ever again. That is all.

Be a mom. Don’t ever let anyone make you question whether you want kids; you do. Not only have you always wanted them (hell, remember cracking the JC Penney catalog to the nursery section every time we got a new one, instead of the toys? Gave Mom a heart attack, alright! Heh heh.), but you were born to be a mom. Even if you don’t have everything else figured out, HAVE KIDS. For me. And be a cool mom. Strict, but cool.

Lessons learned. And apparently I’ve always had a thing for bullet points.