Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Bean

Another year draws to a close. It was a year full of firsts for our little family, to be sure. Every single year I am amazed at just how fast the year has gone and this one is no different. I visited a friend of mine this afternoon who just had their second daughter. A mere 9 days old, I held that tiny life in my hands and marveled at how just a year ago, my rambunctious, talkative little girl was no bigger. It amazes me when I think about all the ways my daughter has changed in such a short time. She has gone from a baby to a kid. Meanwhile my hind end is exactly the same size. Which is to say, big. Sigh.

I've been debating with myself whether to commit to a resolution. It seems that no one ever follows through on their resolutions, though. So, since I can't even commit to one measly resolution, I'm going to commit myself to 101. A few months back, my home bloggy Jori began the 101 goals in 1001 days project. What I like about this idea is that it presents a reasonable time frame to accomplish long term goals but also allows for smaller goals to give me that sense of accomplishment. Mainly, though, I'm all about lists, but more importantly, I'm all about marking things off lists, so January 1, 2009 begins my voyage into 101 goals.

Goal #1 - Create a list of goals.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


We took advantage of the sunshine and slightly warmer weather to take a trip to the park today. Not surprisingly, it was a pretty happening place. In addition to many of the usual suspects we see there on weekdays, there was a contingent of kids who would normally be in school who were there running, jumping rope and ball playing. Although my primary motive was to get Sophie and myself out of the house for a few hours, I also wanted to get outside and try out my new camera in natural light.

There are two large playground installations. One is obviously for smaller kids while the other is much bigger, with longer slides and more complex activities that are clearly aimed at older kids. After playing on the small one for some months, I thought we would give the big one a try. This is when I discovered that my little daredevil thinks she can fly. Standing on the platform at the highest level, she stepped off into the nothingness. Luckily, I was standing right next to her and caught her by her hood. If I had been a little slower or less attentive, or if my grip on her hood had been less secure, she would have fallen 8 feet or so to the mulch-covered ground below. It took a good 10 minutes for my heart to stop feeling like it was going for a world speed record. I think we'll hold off on the big playground equipment for a little while.

We also spent some time on the swings. How I loved the swings as a kid. Going so high you thought for sure you could go all the way around. Flipping off at the highest point of the arc, legs kicking in the air before landing roughly in an awkward run. When I first started putting her on the swings, Sophie was a little nervous, she tucked her legs up next to her chest and pulled her arms in, like a cannonball, rarely smiling. Now she lets her arms and legs swing loose and spends most of her time smiling and laughing. Today was no exception.

The isolation of the stay at home mom is magnified during the wintertime when it is too cold to go out of doors. These lovely days will keep us sane as we forge on through to spring.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Hangover

I love Christmas. I love all of the decorations and the music. We begin the buildup after Thanksgiving. The card making and sending, the present buying, wrapping and shipping, the baking and eating. Oh. my. goodness. THE EATING. Then, somewhat anticlimactically, it's all over. The presents are opened, fawned over and put away. The big meal is eaten. The baked goods begin to run out. But the hardest part for me is the tree.

Die tannenbaum is arguably one of the most significant secular symbols of Christmas. It is when it goes up that I really get into the spirit of the holiday and it is when it comes down that I officially conclude Christmas in my heart. Christmas is so special to me, though, that I fight letting go of the good feelings. Which means that I will leave that tree up as long as I can. I once left it up until May. That was a real tree, too. You can imagine what the trashmen thought that week.

Practicality prevents me that kind of procrastination these days. With two cats and a toddler, it's a miracle the tree is still standing after a mere two weeks. I know that the day is fast approaching when the tree will have to come down. I acknowledge this, but I am not ready just yet. I will linger in the afterglow of Christmas for just a little bit longer. Until that day, I will turn on the beautiful twinkly lights each night as it gets dark and I will savor the warm memories of so many wonderful Christmases past floating through my head and heart.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Without further ado, the much anticipated Land of Bean holiday card! After many, many photos, we finally landed on one that was acceptable. Miraculously, we managed to get one with her in the Santa hat. (Strangely, as much as she likes putting things on her head, hats are a no-go.) Some tinkering in Photoshop to give this gem a little pizazz and wa-la, we have a masterpiece suitable for framing:

Alright, maybe not framing, but certainly worthy of a magnet on the fridge. Yes? Yes! I mean, really, the cuteness is almost unbearable.

It was a bi-fold card. Note the little snowman from the stocking. I'm all about attention to detail. Oh yes. Here's the inside:

From our family to yours, a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Tail of Love and Loss

"I'm just going to ride my lion around the room. Tra la la.
Hold the phone! What's that?"

"Why, hello kitty!"

"Your fur is so soft!"

"Do you mind if I just rest my head here?"

"How sweet! A little love nip!"

"Wait, where are you going?"

"I thought we had something. KIIIITTTTTYYY!.....I miss you."


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Out

Sophie's first bed was an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper. I can't say enough good things about this fabulous contraption. It attached to the side of our bed so our newborn daughter was literally within arm's reach for the first four months of her life. I loved having her right there next to me. It was so comforting to hear her little sighs and moans at night. Some people say they didn't get good sleep until their baby moved into their crib, I actually slept better with her next to me. Hubs on the other hand? Not so much. So in the interest of marital relations, we moved her into her crib.

One of the great things about this co-sleeper is that it converts to a playyard when it has run its course as a bassinet. Currently it sits in the TV room, taking up valuable floor space. We don't use it often, but just enough to make putting it away seem premature. Now that she's walking and into EVERYTHING, it is handy to have somewhere to contain her on those occasions when we need a few free moments. Neil calls it "Baby Time Out," although we don't consider it punishment.

Sometimes Sophie fusses when we put her in there, but often she is completely okay with it, happily playing with whatever we've put in there as entertainment. Whichever her reaction, it's pretty much guaranteed that we can count on her trying to lick her way to freedom.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I went to my friend Emily's annual holiday cookie exchange over the weekend. Not an advanced baker, I usually bring something fairly simple: chocolate chip cookies or the like. But I decided to do something special this year. For the first time ever, I made peanut butter balls. This was a bittersweet undertaking for me. My grandmother, my father's mother, made peanut butter balls every year for Christmas. These delicious little orbs came to represent not just the perfect blending of two great flavors but that time of year when many of the people I loved most in the world came together.

My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was smart and tough, with an incredible sense of humor and an enormous capacity for love. She raised four sons to be men who shared her sense of equity and compassion. An artist, she recreated her world in paint, clay and metal. I am honored to have one of her paintings hanging in my daughter's room.

She shared a life with my granddaddy. She was his partner in the truest sense of the word. Theirs was storybook love. A couple who sneaked kisses and held hands, even after 50 years of marriage.

But a beast came to her world. A cruel and unrelenting animal that ravaged her mind. The most heartbreaking of ends for a woman with so much. I can't even express the depths of sorrow I felt as I watched Alzheimer's take away my grandmother one bite at a time over the course of a decade. There is no crueler thing.

She has been gone six years now and although she did not leave us during the holidays, it is at this time of the year that I feel her absence the most. She made Christmas a special time. A time for togetherness. A time for joy. She was never far from my thoughts throughout the time it took me to craft my own version of her beloved holiday treat. Nor will she be throughout the holidays.

Although not her exact recipe, this one comes fairly close. In her honor:

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
3 Cups Confectioners' Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 1/2 Cups Rice Crispies
2 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 Tablespoons Shortening

1. Cream together the butter, vanilla, salt and peanut butter. Stir in 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar, rice crispies and the graham cracker crumbs.

2. Form the mixture into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the remaining cup of confectioners' sugar. Set the balls in a single layer on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.

3. To Dip the Balls in Chocolate: Microwave one cup of chocolate chips and one tablespoon shortening for 60 seconds. Then stir well. If not completely melted, microwave in additional 10 second increments. Insert a toothpick into the chilled balls and dip into the melted chocolate until coated. Set on waxed paper until hardened. Melt remaining chocolate and shortening as needed.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Top Ten - Procrastination

I should be baking right now. Or Christmas shopping. Or cleaning. I just can't get myself going. It's amazing how many ways you can find to postpone doing things that you aren't super excited about. Which is weird because I actually do enjoy baking and shopping, I guess it's that I have to do them that makes them not so much fun. Cleaning, on the other hand, never fun. Here are the top ten things that have been distracting me:

1. Blogging. Always with the blogging. Neil says I am an addict. I resent that. Mostly because it's true.

2. Cutting my husband's hair. He was WAY overdue for a cut. It absolutely, positively had to be done tonight.

3. A nap. Sleep is very important.

4. Printing out more Christmas cards. Crap. I ordered Laser paper when we have an Inkjet. That's $25 down the drain and now I need to find more paper lickety split. Gotta cruise the internet to look for it.

5. Reading last week's Entertainment Weekly that somehow I haven't finished yet. Gotta get my Hollywood fix.

6. Organizing my craft shelves. Is it bad when you're avoiding work with work?

7. Play with Sophie. She NEEDS me to assist in 52 pickup.

8. Watch that episode of the Mentalist that has been sitting in the DVR for too long.

9. Find out how fast I type. (78 wpm)

10. Play with the present that I wasn't supposed to open until Christmas. Oops! Cat's out of the bag. I have no self control.

Now, I really do need to get to work. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Mommy Moment

Yet again I have proven that I am not qualified to raise a hamster, let alone be the primary caregiver for a human. Yesterday I went to the grocery store, because I am fond of eating and they have that stuff there. Since leaving her at home would be beyond even what I consider the pale, I brought the wee bean along with me.

She had just woken up from her nap prior to our departure, which was not rushed or in any other way frantic, or rather, any more frantic than any departure is with a toddler. I had geared her up in socks and shoes, fed her a container of yogee, put on her coat and we were off. The drive to the grocery store was short and pleasant. It was raining when we got there, but not hard, so I was a bit rushed as I got her out of her car seat, but again, NOT frantic. I carried her up to the store, chattering the whole way. Once in the first set of doors, I selected a cart and began to put her in it but realized there was a banana peel in the cart, so I pulled her out and put her in the cart next to it. Peel-free, of course.

We go in to the store. I immediately give her the high-lighter (don't judge) I use to mark off the stuff on my list I've gotten, to keep her occupied. I lean in and nuzzle her, giggling and talking as we make our way through the produce section. The whole time, I'm talking to her about all of the stuff I'm buying, what I'm going to do with it, the usual commentary. I work my way down the next aisle, throwing in a few cans and turn to go down the second aisle when I realize she is only wearing one shoe.

Now I get frantic.

These weren't expensive shoes but we just got them and they fit perfectly and they're her first pair of big girl shoes and they're really cute and I'll just hate myself if one goes missing. I race back down the previous aisle, looking in every crevice for the shoe. Wondering to myself how long it's been missing, but surely not long, I mean, her feet are RIGHT THERE in front of me in the cart. I had to maneuver her little feet in and out of the car seat. It MUST have come off somewhere in the store. Sophie is fond of undoing her shoes and taking them off, but I always hear the velcro and I'm sure I would have noticed. Wouldn't I? However, it's not in the first aisle, so I go back through the produce section, recreating my steps. No shoe.

I already have a fair bit of stuff in my cart and it's raining, so I decide that the shoe must be in the car. It's not like anything is going to change between now and the end of our shopping excursion. She has a sock on, so her little toes won't get cold. Fast forward 45 minutes and I pull into the checkout. What is the first thing the checker says to me? "Your daughter only has one shoe on." As in my past transgressions at this same store, I sheepishly said I knew and that it must be in my car. Once I've paid, I push the cart out to the car, all the while thinking, it must be in her seat, she took it off and I just didn't notice because her socks and her shoes are both black. Easy to miss, right?

We get to the car and I go straight to her seat. No shoe. Not in the car seat, on the seat next to it, the floorboard or anywhere else in the car. I look at the ground all around the car, peering under our car and the cars next to us. No shoe. I unload all of our groceries and head back with Sophie and the cart to the cart area to check there. I practically crawl under the carts in my attempt to locate this wayward shoe. No shoe. In defeat, I go back inside and walk shamefaced up to the Customer Service counter. Luckily, turns out the woman who checked us out was the manager and she came over to help me. After inquiring if anyone had found a darling little black maryjane, size three, with the expected negative response, I gave her my name, number and description of the shoe so they could call me if it turned up. Seriously, you'd think I lost my wedding ring, I was so despondent.

We head back home and I run through all of the possibilities. Play a little Sliding Doors in my mind. If I'd only..., she'd still have her shoe. When we get home, I get Sophie out of the car and grab one handful of groceries. I carry them both inside. I toss the groceries on the counter and take Sophie's coat off. I lift her up to put her in her high chair so she'll be contained while I bring in the rest of the groceries and that's when I spot it. Sitting on the seat of the high chair. The shoe. It had apparently come off when I removed her from the high chair following her pre-shopping snack. I contemplated calling the grocery store to tell them to call off the search, I had found the shoe, but I think I would have felt even stupider if they knew the full story.

So there you have it. I am so oblivious that I left the house with only one shoe on my daughter. In the dead of winter. In freezing rain. I came face to face with her shoeless foot on at least three occasions (not to mention the at least 6 times I probably brushed my forehead against her foot when I picked up the highlighter she dropped/threw down) before finally noticing a good ten minutes into our shopping expedition.

And we're considering having MORE children?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The last couple of days have been a mad flurry of activity around here. Shopping, baking and general Christmas preparations are seriously eating into my blog time. Sigh. Hopefully I'll be able to get some bloggy time in tonight after the bean is in bed. Hopefully.

To tide you over, here is a picture of me (on the right) and my beautiful baby sister (not so much a baby) from the day of my high school graduation. First I would like to point out the sheer tininess of my waist. Barely bigger than my arm. Miss it. Also, the fact that for some reason my sister and I decided to wear dresses with the exact same print, albeit in completely different styles and colors. Remember that Pretty Woman dress from the polo scene? I'm pretty sure that inspired both of us. All we needed were a couple of oversized hats and we would have been good to go. Finally, HELLO bangs!

Ah, good times.

PS - Sorry for the picture quality. The old film days were a difficult time for me. About half of my pictures from those days were double exposed. Thank goodness for digital!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tough Guy, Eh?

I thought I was pretty much okay with anything my daughter could throw at me. I've been puked, pooped, peed, snotted, drooled and cried on. I have accidentally stuck my finger into dirty diapers and walked around with spit-up on my shirt for the better part of a day before realizing it. I have mocked my husband when he gagged as he changed a poopie diaper. I have told him off in language so colorful it is not appropriate for a family blog when he woke me up to ask me to change a poopie diaper because he "just didn't think he could take it." For a time there, I even thought her poop smelled good. Which now sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I'm telling you a diaper full of exclusively breastmilk-fed poo is really not so bad. All in all, I thought I was pretty tough.

Then I took Sophie out to lunch today.

It all started innocuously enough. I was 15 minutes late, as usual, despite having left in plenty of time to get there punctually. I did not, however, leave with enough time to get halfway there only to realize I didn't have any food or drinking implements for Sophie, necessitating a return trip home. Once settled in at the restaurant, though, things were actually going pretty well. Sophie was nibbling on a tortilla chip and being her cutie patootie self, hamming it up for her grandparents and aunts. She continued to be good, eating a whole container of Yo Baby, or as I like to call it, yogee. Because everything gets shortened and ends in an "ee" these days. Hence, diapee changes. I know, pathetic. Anyhoodle, our food comes and she takes one of the french fries off my plate and eats it. I'm over the moon. She's eating real food! Then she takes another one. And another. I think it might have been the fourth one when we ran into a snag. And by snag, I mean she threw it all up.

This is when I discovered that watching chunks of a virtually unchewed version of what I am at that very moment eating come flying out of my daughter's mouth, along with a whole mess of other things, completely turns my stomach. So much so, that once we had her cleaned up, I was barely able to finish eating. I can tell you, I didn't eat any more french fries. AND I passed on dessert, for maybe the first time ever.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law was cupping a napkin under her mouth to catch the spew with one hand while still eating with the other hand.

Now THAT is tough.

Monday, December 15, 2008


While we bathed the Bean the other night, I couldn't resist pinching her abso-freaking-lutely adorable little butt. Like five times. I said to Neil, who sat beside me as we leaned over the tub, that I was powerless to resist. Her little cheeks were just too cute. Then I laughed as I mused that her entire butt* wouldn't even begin to equal just one cheek of mine. Neil smiled when I said this and responded "her butt may be a pinch, but yours? Is a grab." And then he did.

Reason #459 why I love my husband: He still takes schoolboy delight in grabbing/groping/slapping/eyeballing his wife's caboose.

*Have I mentioned that she is a VERY small child.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Candied Pecans are NOT for Amateurs

I had a lovely time at the moms get together yesterday. The host produced an amazing buffet of food including a honey glazed ham that was absolutely to. die. for. Sophie even ate some, which is saying A LOT. I brought a yummy green salad with pears, avocado and gorgonzola tossed in an olive oil/red wine vinegar dressing. It was supposed to have candied pecans on top, but I discovered too late that I have no knack for candying pecans. Two ruined batches and one burnt finger later, I decided that the salad would be just fine without them, thankyouverymuch.

The gift exchange was quite low key. In fact, the gifts were opened one at a time, spaced out over the course of the afternoon as the moms filtered in and out following their little one's nap schedule. I didn't open mine until just before I left. I got a delightful blanket (that's it on the right) that Sophie is just crazy about. She kept pulling it over her head. She has this thing lately with putting cloth items on her head and walking or running with it completely blocking her view. (Do all kids do this?) The other day, as Neil and I watched her in her crib on the monitor, she pulled her little lovey blanket over her head, stood up and charged full speed towards the other end of her crib. You wouldn't think she could get up much speed in such a short distance, but the impact that followed sounded exactly like she had managed to bust her way out of her crib. We both went running in expecting to find the crib in splinters and our daughter a mangled mess. She was completely fine, if somewhat dazed, and has continued with her blitzkrieg in other areas of the house.

In other news, I finally got the dag blasted card done. In the end, I was never able to get a usable picture of her with the lights, but a bajillion pictures later, I did get one that will work in a very different way. Note to self: one way to make sure the baby will stay away from the Christmas tree is to keep trying to force her to do something cute under/next to/with it. I'll post the finished product at a later date. I don't want to ruin the surprise for all of my real life peeps who will be receiving theirs in the mail soon. For my bloggy friends, if you want to receive your own original copy of this masterpiece*, email me (carawb at gmail dot com) your address and your copy will be in the mail tout de suite.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

*It is most certainly NOT a masterpiece, please drastically lower your expectations before you receive said card so you will be suitably impressed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Top Ten - Secret Santa Spectacular

I'm going to my first holiday themed moms' get together this afternoon. Of course, there will be the obligatory Secret Santa gift exchange. I always agonize about what to get, worrying that whatever it is, they will hate it/already have it/get the same thing. Plus, it's so hard to find things that fall under the price limit. For this event, we put a limit of $10. I decided that the $10 limit didn't include tax, so I went just a skosh over, but I won't tell if you don't. It got me to thinking about what are good gifts for women for this sort of thing and I came up with the following list.

1. Candles - They're an oldie, but a goodie. I don't know a single woman that doesn't enjoy candles. I have so many that my husband threatened legal action if I went to one more PartyLite party. You can do the always popular Yankee Candle or something a little more festive.

2. Lotion - I confess to having a lotion fetish. A bottle can be found in pretty much every room of the house. Probably because I have crazy dry skin. A great option is a collection of travel sizes. They're perfect to toss in your purse and use on the go.

3. Tea - I fall on the side of confirmed tea fanatic, but even if you don't love it, it's one of those things that is nice to have in the house.

4. Eye mask - I never thought I would use these, but lately I find a mask is really helpful for those midday naps that new moms HAVE to take.

5. Mixing cups/bowls - Most women, even those that don't really enjoy cooking, like neat kitchen toys. And what's neater than a collapsable mixing bowl? It's super functional and saves space.

6. Picture Frame - What woman doesn't love putting up pictures of her loved ones? Not any that I know.

7. Kitchen Utensils - Super functional stuff is a can't miss. So many of us will be cooking turkeys over the holidays and who couldn't use a basting set?

8. Cocoa Mix - It is so lovely to sip a warm glass of cocoa on a cool day. It warms you from the inside out. There are so many varieties, but you can never go wrong with Godiva!

9. Socks - What's better on a cold winter's night than a pair of fuzzy, super-soft socks?

10. Calendar/Planner - I know so many people have Blackberries and Palm Pilots and so on but there's just something about the old fashioned paper planner. It will never run out of power at just the wrong moment. You can update it with the swish of a pen. And you don't need a degree in Information Technology to figure out how to program the reminders.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Tree Loosely Translated: "Cat Toy"

I finally, FINALLY, got my booty in gear and put together our Christmas tree*. I've been so blah about the holidays this year. I don't know what the deal is. Maybe it has to do with the fact that since I don't work (outside of the home, narf), I didn't have the slow build of gradually seeing more and more houses put their lights and decorations up as part of my daily commute or maybe it's that we don't have any big travel plans. Whatever the case, I have been very slow getting on the holiday spirit bandwagon.

This afternoon, while I was Targeting**, as my friend, the incomparable MEP*** would say, at Jo-Ann's, all of sudden, it came over me. HOLIDAY SPIRIT! I suspect it was the 60% off signs on all holiday decorations, crafts, cooking accessories, etc that got my blood pumping. But just like that, I was ready to go. I found myself singing carols as I wandered the aisles, taking in all of the sales and plotting where each thing would go, should I choose to bring it home with me. As it was, I made it out for the marvelous amount of just $42. For this tidy sum, I got a new tree skirt, a darling stocking for Sophie, a cookie cutter, wrapping paper, oodles of ribbon, gift baggies, tissue paper and a Kit Kat. What? I had to stand in a line a mile long, all the while staring at boxes and boxes of chocolatey goodness. I'm surprised I didn't eat it and the rest of it's buddies while I was waiting.

When we got home, I got to the task of assembling the tree. I wasn't able to begin with the decorating, meager though it is, until after Sophie went to bed. But then I spent about an hour tying bows and a half an hour positioning them just so, placing and moving and placing again so that they are evenly spaced. Gomez sat patiently watching me through all of this, mostly from his perch on the chair. After I had placed the last bow and stepped back to survey my work, he went in for the kill. It took him approximately 14 seconds to demolish all of my handiwork. That picture is the calm before the storm. This is why there are no real ornaments on the tree. In years past, I have optimistically put up beautiful glass ornaments, only to spend most of December, and in to January, cleaning up their broken corpses. But now, with a toddler who runs around barefoot most days, and who would also most likely see a heavily ornamented tree as her own personal playground, it just wouldn't work. So, all of the pretty glass ornaments stay snugly in their boxes, awaiting the day when Sophie is old enough to know better and when the cats are too old to care. But bows? Frustrating though they can be, they don't break and they're easy to replace.

Once done, I sat reflecting on all of the holiday chores I have yet to do. Looking at the tree while the velvet tones of Bing flowed out of the stereo, my tasks just don't seem so daunting now.

*I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do with the furniture. For now, the lamp stands next to the tree eying its old spot with no small amount of jealousy, all the while plotting its return.
**Targeting is the activity of buying things you absolutely do not need but in the moment seem like just the thing to make all of your dreams come true. Often done in Target, but can be done elsewhere.
***Who is now Dr. MEP! So, in addition to raising two adorable boys, one of whom was born just months before she completed and turned in her dissertation, she is officially a smarty-pants. I'm praying I can talk Neil into letting me go to Blogher '09, so MEP and I can tear up Chicago! Or as much tearing as I do these days, which means a half a glass of wine and in bed by 9:30.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Have You Ever?

I got this from Jori, who got this from Tiaras and Tantrums who got it from Lots of Happyness. That's where the trail runs cold. Mine are in bold. What have YOU done?

1. Started your own blog (two actually)

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (who me?)

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (does that EVER happen??)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung Karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business (unless lemonade stand counts)

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a Soup Kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Seen the Lincoln Memorial in person

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book (someday...fingers crossed!)

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (does fish count?)

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone's life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own (duh!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I've become increasingly aware that this blog has the power to make things happen. Sadly, its affect is limited to my little world, so I can't ask for world peace or anything. I've noticed, though, that when I write about something that is troubling me, within a short time, that situation improves or goes away altogether. As evidence, I present Exhibit A: I post about not getting any sleep and suddenly Sophie sleeps through the night 10 out of the next 14 days, which is 9 more times than she had slept through the night before. Exhibit B: I complain about Sophie's dining preferences and within days she voluntarily eats an entire small french fry order from McDonalds (don't judge). Exhibit C: I bemoan my challenges in taking a suitable picture for our Christmas card and that very night as I'm looking through the dozens of photos I had taken, one that I hadn't really noticed before jumps out at me and it is PERFECT.

Given this amazing power, I would like to talk about a few other issues that could use some fixin'. I'm hoping that I'm not breaking the spell by talking about it, but I figure it's worth a try.

Money, specifically, the lottery. They say you won't win if you don't play. Well, we play and we haven't won yet. I'm not greedy, I don't need to win the $140 million jackpot, just a few measly million would more than make me happy.

Pushing Daisies. I am heartbroken that they are canceling this show. Visually, it is stunning. But more importantly, the storylines are clever and the characters are interesting. All of the actors are amazing, although I am particularly enamored of Lee Pace. I love his bushy eyebrowed cuteness. I just don't understand why more people aren't watching this show? I know the axe has already fallen but is it too late to hope for a Jericho-style save?

and while we're talking about TV shows...Battlestar Gallactica. When are you coming back??? You left us months and months ago and so far I haven't heard anything about when you're returning. SciFi channel has shown a couple of teaser clips but no dates. It's your last season. Will the last remnants of humanity find a permanent home? Will Starbuck finally get her stuff together? Who is the final cylon? I need resolution.

My Hair. Hair, why can't you just do what you're told? Why do you always have to go your own way? Even when I load up on the mousses, sprays, pomades, etc. We've been fighting for a long time and I think it's time we worked things out. I'll give a little, but you need to, too. Help me help you.

The Trench. Two years ago, following several toilet back-ups, we had our sewer line replaced. It runs the length of our back yard. Unfortunately, shortly after we had it done, the ground settled into the area excavated and refilled for the work and created a trench. It's not so deep that we could lose family members in it, but it is certainly an eyesore on what was previously a lovely, flat yard. It's been TWO YEARS now, it's time it went away.

Okay, that's it for now. I'll be waiting.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Amateur Is An Understatement

I began the process of creating our Christmas card this weekend. Blatantly stealing an idea from the fabulous Merecat, I have decided that it will be some variation on a photograph of Sophie with Christmas lights. Great, right? Well, as it turns out, my fabu little digital camera doesn't have the chops to take a photo of a constantly moving toddler in low light without coming out blurry. See above.

After taking about a hundred and fifty two pictures, all grainy, I was blaming it on myself and my lack of knowledge of what our camera can do. What I don't know about photography would fill up your average encyclopedia. I resorted, as I do with most things, to searching the internet for answers. It turns out I need a much more expensive camera, and even then there are no guarantees because, shocker!, you have to know what to do with it. What's a girl to do?

I fancy myself something of a creative and the artiste in me is screaming out to do something a little bit more exotic than the traditional family photo. So now I'm working all the angles to try and figure out how to do the best with what I have, given that a new camera is just not in the cards until after Christmas, if then. I spent some time experimenting, taking a bajillion more pictures, and I think I'm getting closer to my desired result.

I only need one, or maybe three, good photos. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Would You Like Whine With That?

We got the results back from Sophie's bloodwork and, as predicted, everything is normal. Turns out she's just small. Go figure. Of course, then I start to think that maybe she's a primordial dwarf. That's what I get for watching that Oprah show.

At any rate, the sleeping thing seems to be getting better. She slept through the night three times last week and 6, count em SIX, times this week. Hallelujah! But now that I'm alert enough to focus on the bigger picture, I'm increasingly aware that we have another problem. The girl won't eat. I mean, she eats, but not nearly as much as she should and she has gotten to the point where pretty much the only thing she'll eat is YoBaby with cereal mixed in.

Before you suggest different foods, I have tried pretty much everything. She'll take one bite, if I'm lucky, and then turn her head away. At this point, I have thrown away so much food, I could have saved a whole village of those starving kids in Ethiopia my mom told me about as a kid. The doctor suggested I give her Pediasure mixed in with ice cream or something. Well, she won't eat ice cream. And Pediasure is all sugar. Sure there are healthy things in there, but her teeth will rot out from all of the sugar. We're still nursing, and she drinks cow milk at mealtimes, so I feel reasonably confident that she's getting a fair number of vitamins, but clearly she needs more.

So help me out, moms. What do I do? Please tell me that this kind of thing happens all the time. It's a phase she's going through and will grow out of it. I know that kids can be picky eaters but I just wasn't expecting it this early. Is this just another example of my own badness as a kid coming back to haunt me? For the eleventy millionth time since I got pregnant: I am SOOO sorry, Mom.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Top Ten - A Meme

There's a meme going around where you list your favorite ten things that begin with a letter. I decided to play along and I was assigned F by the fabulous Jen. If you don't already read her, get to it! There are a couple of very obvious things that begin with F that I love, like family and friends. There are also a couple of less than PG things that begin with F that I like, but we won't go into those.

These are a few of my favorite F things:

1. French Fries - Really it could be a section for all things fried but we'll narrow it down to fries for the sake of brevity. I love french fries so much I wrote a paper about them in a college writing class. Curly, steak, traditional, seasoned, whatever, it's all good.

2. Fire - There is just nothing like the feeling on a cool winter's day of coming in from the cold to a blazing fire. As a kid, alright and an adult, I've always loved stretching out in front of a fire, having to roll from back to front as one side gets too warm. Toasty.

3. Fudge - I'm not much of a chocolate person, but I can put away some fudge.

4. Facials - I'm all about pampering. If I could get a facial every week or even every month, you better believe my butt would be there.

5. Fairy Tales - What little girl didn't grow up believing in fairy tales? I always had a pretty rabid imagination and my fantasies were fueled by the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, et al. I was the fairy princess and my prince was coming to save me. There was magic in every corner.

6. Filet Mignon - I likes me some steak. Hey, I'm a Kansas girl at heart, they inject beef directly into your veins out there.

7. February - It's my birthday month. And who doesn't love their birthday? Crazy people, that's who.

8. Flowers - There is just something about the extra something flowers bring to a room. And don't even get me started on how amazing it feels when you get a surprise delivery. *cough* Neil *cough*

9. Fountain Pens - I have a strange and wonderful obsession with office supplies, but in particular, pens. Not just any pens, though, fountain pens. I love the way they write. I get an old fashionedy feeling when I use one that is incomparable to a felt tip or (cringe) a ballpoint.

10. France - I am a serious Francophile. I took French all through high school and even started out as a French major in college. I've been there twice and am dying to go back. Even though the last time I was there (for my thirtieth birthday, X years ago, sigh), my fellow traveler Aparna got her wallet stolen on the subway. Amazingly, six months later, she got a letter saying it had been turned in to the police and she was free to come pick it up at her leisure. I tried to talk her into a return trip to retrieve the wallet but she declined.

So those are a few of my favorite things. If you want to play along, let me know and I'll assign you a letter.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


...don't toddler pants have knee pads sewn in? I have to go pee the minute I turn on the shower, even if I just went? I so tired before getting into bed, but the minute my head hits the pillow, I'm wide awake?

...does healthy food taste so blah, while fattening food tastes SOOO good?

...can't I find an exercise activity that I actually enjoy? I have doubt about every decision I make?

...does my daughter seem to have radar for the one thing in a room I don't want her to have? it no matter which lane you pick, it will be the slowest? Along those same lines... people go slow in the fast lane? it that even though I really want to hate her because she's too beautiful, super skinny, stole Jen's husband, and adopts kids like I buy new shoes, I actually kind of like Angelina Jolie? I keep buying the same three pairs of shoes over and over in various colors and materials?

...can't I find a pair of jeans that fits perfectly in the store AND fits after they've been washed? it every time I find the perfect pair of shoes for my daughter, they don't carry them in her eensy weensy size? I so blocked on a Christmas card theme? For that matter... I so lacking in holiday spirit this year?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Knockin' At My Door

Yesterday morning, as I sat on the floor of our TV room playing with my little Beansie Weensie, I was startled by the sound of the doorbell. As a rule, I am skeptical of people coming to my door unannounced. It is almost always someone selling something. But at 8am on a Tuesday, I doubted this was the case. I eagerly ran upstairs thinking "that husband of mine, says he doesn't have anything planned for our anniversary and he sends me FLOWERS!" I peeked out the front window. No flowers. Instead, there stood a man in a police uniform. My first thought was "STRIP-O-GRAM!!" But closer inspection of the spindly mustachioed* gentleman standing on my front porch showed that if he were, in fact, there with exposure on his mind, the treat would NOT be mine. Therefore, my rational mind concluded that he must be a legitimate cop.

My mind raced. What had I done? I have been quite good lately, but had something from my nefarious past finally caught up with me? Did it have something to do with the case of the sticky fingered cleaning lady**? Had something bad gone down in our neighborhood? I've been trying to talk Neil into moving, a crime spree in the neighborhood would be just the thing to further my cause. I contemplated not answering the door, but my sense of civic duty won out and I swung the door open.

"Hello. Did you call 911, ma'am?" He queried.

Open mouth, confused look, "Wha? 911?" I stammered before the realization hit me. "Ohhh, no..." as the memory of my darling daughter playing with the phone flashed through my head.

"Dispatch thought it was a child, but we figured better safe than sorry. Is everything okay?"

Unable to string together a sentence longer than two words in my embarrassment, I sputter "Yes, fine. Sorry. My baby. Sorry. Sorry." And I close the door on the nice officer.

Lesson #943: Letting the baby play with a phone is not a good idea.

*Why do all cops wear the 'staches?

**A long story that after two more trial dates I will hopefully be able to finish when it finally gets resolved in January.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dat Dweam wiffin a Dweam

Three years ago today Neil and I were married. We got engaged in March of that year and I immediately began procrastinating planning our wedding. I knew that I wanted a destination wedding, but I did not know where, how, or when. My initial thought was Ireland in October. I had visions of a romantic castle wedding. Unfortunately, the logistics of pulling off that dream were just too much for us. So, I began to look into Mexico. It offered us the convenience of being easily accessible to all of our family members located across the country and was much more affordable, a relative term here, because it was still no cheapo deal.

We finally nailed down the date for the wedding, January 21, 2006, somewhere around mid-November. There's nothing like forcing loved ones to go on an expensive trip on short notice. Lucky for us, pretty much everyone was game and not once has anyone held it over my head. Not even my mom, and she LOVES that sort of thing. (Just kidding, Mom, love you!!)* The only downside was that we would have to jump through a bunch of hoops for our wedding in Mexico to be legal in the US. To simplify things, we decided to get married at the courthouse here first and then have the "real" ceremony with friends and family in Cabo San Lucas.

Because I didn't want the legal ceremony to be a big deal, we didn't invite family or friends (except for Aparna**) to come. It was just to be us. No rings, no dressing up, no pomp. My parents had planned a visit to Baltimore for the first weekend in December and on the Tuesday of the week leading up to it, Neil and I decided that we might as well do it on that Friday, December 2nd, so we could have a mini, wee, petite celebration with my parents at dinner that evening.

On the day of our wedding, I went to work like any other day. I don't think I even told anyone. I was quite serious about keeping it on the down low. At lunch, I left and met Aparna and Neil at the courthouse. Despite the fact that I KNEW this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I was vibrating with nerves. All I could think was, "we're really doing this, we're really doing this!" I had prepared myself for the January wedding date, but I had only had a couple of days to come to terms with this.

We went up to the window and got our number. There were several other couples awaiting their turn. All of them had large groups of people with them and most were elaborately decked out in wedding finery. One groom wore a purple velour tuxedo. Purple Velour! You could probably have powered a small city if you could harness the static electricity pouring off that thing. I have absolutely no recollection of what his bride wore, but I think it is safe to say it was nowhere near as garish as her soon-to-be husband's attire.

I felt conspicuous just the three of us in our everyday clothes and I began to regret my decision to play this down, because it WAS a big deal. Despite my denials of the importance of this ceremony, this was the one that counted in the eyes of the law. There was no turning back now, though. Finally, after an eternity of 45 minutes, they called our number and we went into the small Astroturf and fauxliage covered room that served as the setting for weddings.

We took our places in front of the podium and the woman began to walk us through the vows. When they came to the part where we would exchange rings, the woman looked up from her sheet and asked us if we had rings. I began to say "No" because we had not planned to exchange rings until the ceremony in Mexico. But before I could get the word out, my beloved said "Actually..." and pulled out two velvet boxes. I wish I had a picture of myself in that moment, because I am quite certain my jaw hit the floor. I was absolutely stunned. Unbeknownst to me, he had gone out and gotten us matching white gold bands for the occasion.

It was the most wonderful, romantic gesture and exactly the thing to make that day, the day that wasn't supposed to be a big deal, into the memorable occasion that it should be. Now we celebrate both of our anniversaries and they are BOTH special to us.

Happy First Third Anniversary, hunny bunny!

*I'm not really kidding, but don't tell her that. Shhh.

**Aparna is my bestest friend in the whole world and has been a part of every major, and minor, event in my life for the last 20 years. I couldn't have kept her away even if I'd wanted to.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're Gonna Party Like It's Your Birthday

Thirty-six years ago today, the world welcomed a new life. Lucky for me. Although I didn't become part of that life until five years ago, my own world is infinitely better for having him in it.

Happy Birthday, my love!



Following months of encouragement and three canisters* of offered puffs, the majority of which landed either on the floor or in her mother's stomach, Sophie Bean voluntarily ate a Beechnut Sweet Potato Puff on Saturday, November 29 at approximately 6:45pm. Although she has swallowed a few puffs when her mother or father surreptitiously tossed one in to her mouth as it gaped open for yawning, talking or smiling, she has never picked one up, placed it in her mouth, chewed and then swallowed it.

Sophie took this monumental step while her mother, father and great uncle Steve sat nearby eating a dinner of her mother's world famous** Thai Basil Shrimp over Coconut Rice. She followed up by further eating a handful of puffs while her audience clapped and cheered. She abandoned her pursuit when her urge to clap overcame her desire to partake of the light but flavorful treats.

*Roughly four thousand puffs.

**By "world famous" I mean that Neil really likes it.