Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving Dinner: We had a quiet dinner at home with our little family. No turkeys here. We had a delicious prime rib roast, no-knead rolls (Big Daddy: "These may be the best rolls I have ever eaten in all my 32 years."), mashed potatoes, sauteed yellow squash and sparkling grape juice. I also made a cherry-topped cheesecake for dessert. Y.U.M.

On Thanksgiving night I took Big Sis to Disney on Ice. We'd never seen it before, and I purchased the tickets after seeing a commercial on TV the previous week (I'm impulsive like that). It was awesome! We had great seats, the show was 2 hours long, and she was riveted the entire time. It also didn't hurt that she got a special treat of a snow cone in a special princess cup. Then we discovered she is the only kid in America who doesn't care for snow cones. And yes, she is wearing her Alice costume from Halloween. Why not?

My favorite part was a bit from It's a Small World. Not only is the song so catchy that I am still singing it 4 days later, but they really did the ride justice by capturing the look and feel of it.

Army guys from Toy Story.

The finale with all the characters.

On Friday we headed to Omaha, and the Children's Museum. This is a sculpture outside the entrance. When you sit on the metal seat it plays bits of 4 or 5 different songs about Omaha.
The obligatory John Deere ride along.

Artist-in-residence doing a percussion jam.

At the end of our day, Dog from Word World showed up. Sorry, I'm a little light on pictures. Big Daddy has banned me from posting pictures which include him. I think he's afraid I might post something incriminating which will hurt his run for the Presidency in 2065.

What else did we do?

On Wednesday morning (and by morning I mean 1 am) Big J woke with croup. We spent the next few nights running the humidifier, hanging out in the steamy bathroom, and generally being wide awake between the hours of 2 and 5. He's better now, but is still stuffy/coughy/grumpy.

Also on Wednesday we bought a new (to us) car. I told you: me=impulsive. It's a Saturn Vue.

Friday morning (5am) I headed to the mall to do a little Black Friday shopping. Last year I hit most of the big stores - Target, Old Navy, and Toys r Us, in addition to the mall. I just wasn't into it this year. Wal-Mart had a few things advertised that I would have been interested in, but I was not about to ram myself through the Wal-Mart crowd while juggling an infant. Even I have limits when it comes to getting a bargain.

I tried to go get my Iowa driver's license on Saturday morning, but they were closed. Attention State of Iowa: It's not that difficult to update your website to reflect Holiday business hours. Probably much easier than having to deal with the enraged citizens who drove 22 miles at 9 am on Saturday morning to get to the one station in Ankeny where you can issue a new driver's license. I don't really care that you will now be open on Monday morning. That doesn't make up for the fact that I spent early Saturday morning cutifying myself in preparation for the dreaded driver's license picture and it was all for nothing. After all this trouble I better not have to take the dang driving test. Thank you.

I cooked all weekend. Prime rib, dinner rolls, breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls, cheesecake. It was so good, but I am glad I don't cook like this all the time.

And now I am off to drink a cup of hot chocolate while watching it snow. Perhaps the snow will put me in a Holiday mood. I've been having a hard time catching the Christmas spirit this year, and my non-decorated house isn't helping. But Big Daddy is loving it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Freshly Made

I love the promise of a freshly made bed. Clean sheets, smoothed and tucked just so. Pillows fluffed, a little turn-down on top.

There's nothing like sliding between the sheets of a newly made bed. I'm not sure what's better: The comfort of snuggling into a featherbed-topped mattress with flannel sheets and a fluffy down comforter. Or the cool embrace of softly worn cotton and the lightest of summer blankets.

My life changed when I discovered down pillows. I am a tremendous fan of the pillow, going so far as to build a "pillow fort" when I have the space. This means one pillow under my head, and one on either side of my body. Not so popular when sharing a bed, but tremendously cozy when space allows. I have 2 king sized down pillows that are enormous, puffy, and perfectly squishable. I like the king sized version, as I can tuck it under my head and still have pillow to wrap my arms around.

And on that note, I am going to sleep in my freshly made bed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Opening my mind.....

I don't always like to try new things, but as I get older, I try to be more open-minded. When I reflect back on how my preferences have evolved, I am always a little amazed. I never thought I would like running, spinach, breakfast burritos, caesar salad, grapefruit dish soap, cottage cheese, udon noodles, salmon, or a host of other random things.
I am trying to make small changes to move towards better health & wellness. My family isn't always on board, but they tend to go along with my ideas because I do 99.9% of the food shopping and cooking.
My latest experiments involve soy milk and oatmeal.

I like the idea of soy milk, but find myself overwhelmed by the choices. Vanilla, chocolate, organic, plain, Soy Dream, WestSoy, store brand, new improved flavor, etc., etc. I really like going to Starbucks and getting a hot chocolate made with soy milk. It seems to bring out the chocolate flavor, plus I can pretend it's a little healthier than the 500 calorie version I usually get. I bought a carton of soy & have started topping my morning Swiss Miss with soy milk. Tastes yummy.

I also have an ambivalent relationship with oatmeal. Again, it seems like a great idea - high fiber, low in fat, filling. But it's bland. And gluey. And a little time consuming to make. I am trying to change my mind, and am looking for new recipes to try. I made one today that combines 1/3 c. water, 1/3 c. milk, 1/3 c. oats, and 1/2-3/4 of a banana. Cook and stir until desired texture is achieved. Serve with toppings of your choice (today's choice was cinnamon, a sprinkling of coconut, and a spoonful of peanut butter). The banana gives it a hint of flavor and sweetness, but the peanut butter is what makes it delicious. Then again, what isn't improved with a little peanut butter?? When I can find it, I only want Laura Scudders all natural chunky peanut butter. And that is a preference straight from my Dad.
PS - this is my 200th blog post!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vehicle: 2, Me:0

My car and I had another battle yesterday. I'm starting to think she really doesn't like me. Or maybe she just doesn't like Iowa. Or I don't like her & my dislike is starting to manifest itself through physical harm to myself (armchair psychologists: ready, set, go!)

If you recall, a few months ago I nailed my forehead on the corner of my trunk hatch. It left a long-lasting lump, but was mostly healed in a week or so.

Yesterday I loaded the kids in, and as I opened the driver's side door to hop in myself, something happened. I'm not exactly sure how it all went down, but I think I started to drop my diaper bag as I opened the door. I dove for it and nailed my forehead on the very pointy top corner of the door. It was really weird. It didn't hurt, but I knew I had just done something that would hurt soon. And A LOT. I stood there for a minute, feeling dizzy and a little confused. I finally sat down and flipped down the mirror to take a look.

I had an inch long gash in the center of my forehead. It was beginning to bleed, and I could clearly see the split in the skin. I haven't had stitches since I was 3, and I really didn't know if I needed them now. I texted Big Daddy, but didn't hear back from him right away. I decided to go to Urgent Care and see if 1. They take insurance (they do) and 2. I needed stitches (I did not).

Although I feel a little silly for thinking I might need stitches, we're talking about my face here. I'm no beauty queen, but who wants their face to be messed up? I came home and cleaned it up, slapped on a bandaid and took some Motrin. As I suspected, it's much better this morning (it pretty much closed up on its own), but my head HURTS. I imagine that this is a little like Botox. My forehead feels swollen and a little frozen. It's not bruised yet (at least not on the outside). I am so glad that I have bangs & I can hide behind them.

A full recovery will be made - eventually. Now I just need to decide what to do about that dang car.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Should I Be Concerned?

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday. My prescription is almost up, and I received a reminder call that I should come in and get checked out. No problem.

My doctor's office is pretty ghetto. The building looks normal from the outside, but inside it's.... less than plush. Now, when I go to the doctor, I don't need plush. I need efficient, empathetic, and accurate. Do I get it? You be the judge......

I showed up at the appointed time, kids in tow. The Nurse took us back right away. I sat the kids on the floor, and the Nurse made small talk for a minute, telling Big J that he is a cutie (no argument there!). And she called him Cooper. I frowned at her, but didn't say anything, thinking she must know a baby named Cooper who looks like him. After another minute or two, she told me to undress Cooper, as we would need to get his weight and height. She seemed surprised when I told her I didn't know who Cooper was, and that the appointment was for me.

She went back up front and grabbed another chart. My chart. She opened it and flipped through for a minute, then asked how my throat was. I told her, and asked what that had to do with my thyroid. Again, she was flustered. Whomever had booked the appointment wrote that I was in for a sore throat, not a thyroid check (yet I vividly remember saying "thyroid" multiple times during the appointment call). She took my vitals, and the doctor came in.

The doctor proceeded to flip through my chart, and ask me if we had finally settled on a dosage for my medication. She seemed a little surprised when I told her I was on the same dose I've always had. (I always wonder if doctor's ask questions like that to test you and see if you really know your medication and dosage). (I think they do).

Now, I know I don't go in there every week. And I wouldn't expect them to know my chart, condition, or medication inside out. But really? That many errors in one appointment?

Every time I go there, I question myself as to why. Shortly after my first appointment, one of their Nurses called and sharply questioned me on the dosage of my medicine. I had told her what I thought it was, and it was different from the actual amount (Numbers and I don't get along). She barked at me like I was a drug addict trying to score Vicodin.

I think I just keep going back because 90% of what I go there for takes less than 5 minutes and costs 96 cents per visit. That's right - they charge me 96 cents for a blood draw. I usually pay in cash. But I'm not sure if 'cheap' offsets 'confused and inefficient'.

Monday, November 17, 2008

That Girl

This is my oldest child. She has decided she is now big enough to make her own sandwiches. By. Her. Self. The masterpiece in hand is a ham sandwich with mayo, Tillamook cheddar cheese (a shout out to my Oregon cheez homies), lettuce, and white bread. She wouldn't even let me cut the bread.

My eldest has also decided to make a "to-do list". On said "to-do list": Go to the Play Place. Eat Chinese Food. Playdate with Mariah. Sounds like a good day to me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

8 months

My sweet boy, you are 8 months old today. You are changing so much from month to month, and I am boggled that only 8 months ago you were just a tiny baby with a little jaundice.

You are now eating 3 meals a day and drinking 3-4 bottles a day. You can grasp small items with your index and thumb and love to feed yourself cheerios, rice chex and graham crackers. You're not yet exhibiting any interest in crawling, and still dislike being on your tummy. You do sit like a champ, and love to reach for your toys (airplane and maraca are your favorite). You still like the Jumper, and will also happily sit in the Bumbo as long as you have a snack in hand. You are an excellent clapper and also give sweet kisses to Mama and wonderful hugs to Daddy. You love the bath and prefer to lay on your back so you can get maximum splashing.

(Apologies if you get a glimpse of his boy parts - I was trying to keep it G rated, but I don't have a very steady hand with the video camera....)

You've begun to sleep longer and more deeply. You are napping more consistently, and will usually nap for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, twice a day! You are an early riser, but when you go to bed for the night, you're now only waking up once or twice. Mama appreciates that!!

Finally, you've got 5 teeth! The most recent 3 just came through in the last week. You are very defensive of your top teeth, and do your best to keep them under wraps.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mopey Days

The past few days have reminded me of why I don't miss Oregon very much. Oregon is beautiful - lush, green, full of sweet-smelling pine trees, spectacular mountains, and rocky beaches. Know why it's so lush? RAIN. It rains between 6-7 months a year. It's not usually a pouring down rain, more of a gentle, constant drizzle. You know you're an Oregonian when you no longer bother with an umbrella. Throw on a fleece, maybe a baseball cap, and you're ready to move on with your rainy day. The second year I lived in Portland it rained 90 days straight, beginning in mid-November. 90 DAYS. That's a lot of H2O.

I am ready for some sunshine. I should be used to these wet, gray days, but I am longing for some sweet golden rays of sunny goodness. It's been hard to get motivated over the last few days, and my lack of regular exercise has compounded my malaise. I don't care if it's cold out, I just need a little blue sky and S-U-N.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NYC Adventures

I went on a business trip to NYC. This is me trying not to get a speeding ticket on the way to the airport. It was hard to say good-bye, and I was running a little late.

I flew into Newark to "save money". An $80 cab ride later, I was at my hotel. I have a love/hate relationship with Times Square. It's convenient to stay there, but a madhouse all the time.

I was starving, so I stumbled into Jamba Juice (a shout out to my fellow Jamba Juice fan, Chrissy!). A Peanut Butter Moo'd later, I was good to go. Yum!

The whole city is getting ready for Christmas. All we needed was a little snow to complete the holiday feeling. Someday I'll see the Radio City Christmas show.

This is part of the Time Life building. What's so special about that? It's where the In Style offices are (How do I know? I've been inside their offices before). I would love to work there - even if it was just for a week.

Christmas windows at Anthropologie. Antique Shiny Brite ornaments - boxes and boxes of them. Too Cute.

A tie for my favorite window decor @ Anthro. Look at all those paper chains! They're all glued, too - no staples or cutting corners here.

H & M on 5th & Lex. The best one in town.

One of the Junior's locations in town, right across from my hotel. They are known for their cheesecake. They make 7,000 per week!

Junior's Devil's Food Cheesecake. The cheesecake part was amazing - very light and creamy. The cake part was good, but overwhelmed the cheesecake.

I love the subway. Cheap, safe, and runs at all hours.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the Lower East Side. I've been wanting to go here for a year. The girls were very nice.

Lemon Yummy, Ooey Gooey, Sexy Red Velvet, Sunshine, and Bob. The cake was the best I've ever had in a cupcake - moist, flavorful, not too crumbly. The frosting was OK. I had a butter aftertaste, so in total I would not call these the 'best ever'. I was tempted to try out a Magnolia cupcake, but I went inside and was put off by the grumpy employees, long lines, and general sweat-shoppe atmosphere. SATC can have Magnolia. I'd give Sugar Sweet Sunshine another try.

THE Macy's on 34th St. I love that darn movie (the original, classic, black and white version).

A few floors are still using the original wooden escalators installed in 1902. Amazing.

The 9th floor Christmas section. Mom, this one's for you. I think that's the most Annalee dolls I've ever seen in one place.

H & M on 34th & Broadway. My second favorite. This one has kid's clothing.

Parson's New School - where Project Runway is filmed.

What else did I do in NY? I did actually work - I was there for a press event which took place on Tuesday night. We ate dinner at Bar Americain (a Bobby Flay restaurant). It was very good. I also went to Toys r Us in Times Square, hit Ricky's (awesome beauty supply chain), ate a gyro from a street cart (so darn good), bought an I heart NY t-shirt for $3.00, and even managed to pick up a few more Christmas gifts. I also read an entire book, took 2 uninterrupted showers, and got to sprawl in the middle of the bed. A successful trip.

I got up at 3:30 am to catch a flight and head back to these two. He pooped 10 times in 48 hours (Think he might have been having a little anxiety??). I was so glad to see my sweet family! I'm so grateful that I have a loving husband and good friends to keep an eye on my kiddos so I can fulfill my work duties. You are appreciated!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Up, Up and Away

I am off to the Big City for 48 hours. It's for business, but I hope to mix in a little pleasure while I'm at it. It's the first time I've left Big J for more than a few hours. I'm OK now, but I wonder if I'll fall apart on the plane. I don't leave for a few hours, so I have plenty of time to have a breakdown or two before heading to the airport.
(Do you like the new template? I do. I was sick of the black and white damask - too bold & busy. It's a little early for me to be immersed in full-on holiday cheer, but I love the simplicity of it.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some of my favorite things

Late Fall is here, with frigid temperatures, and the accompanying desire to bundle up and be snuggly.
These are my cashmere socks. I know - cashmere!? I bought these when I was working at Banana Republic. Boy, do I miss that employee discount. My favorite time of year was after Christmas, when all the cashmere would go on sale. These are super warm and make me feel luxurious, too.

These are Big Sis' knee socks. I bought them because they were on super sale, and I was a little skeptical. But I totally love them on her. A little girl in knee socks - what could be cuter?

New favorite crackers. Whole grain, a tiny bit sweet, and the perfect size for Big J to test out his new choppers.

Like his hat? I do. It's a little bit Elmer Fudd, without the Wabbit hunting. He looks adorable & it keeps his ears warm, too.

Good-bye to the Girls

You’ve been here for nearly a year, and while it’s been nice to have you visit, I knew the day of your departure was fast approaching. I’ve enjoyed my time with you, and so have Big Daddy and Big J (especially Big J). It's almost like you're a permanent member of the family! You’ve always been there when I needed you – making yourselves available no matter the hour of the day or night. You’re leaving sooner than I’d like, but it’s time. I definitely don’t want you to overstay your welcome right now. That would just create more problems in the long run, and turn into a big, painful mess. Thank you for taking this well and making a quiet, unobtrusive departure. I know we've been dragging this on for a few weeks, but it's time to say farewell.

Perhaps we’ll meet again. If I have my way, I'll see you sometime in 2010. And if not, I am hopeful you will return for a permanent stay in about 7 years. Until then, take care, make sure you are always surrounded by those who support you, and rest up for our next visit. Let's not call it good-bye. It's more like: 'Til We Meet Again.......

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teeth Ahoy

Today, he wolfed down his morning bottle, ate a healthy breakfast, drank 4 oz. of bottle, ate another baby-sized container of banana + a few cheerios, drank another bottle, ate 2 -count 'em 2 - servings of dinner (2 oz. of peach + cereal AND another 2 oz. of pear), and still drank 2 oz. of formula before bed.

I guess popping out teeth is hard work.

He's finally cut 2 of the top 3 that have been ready to burst through his little gums. He keeps trying to give me kisses/ bites on the cheek. And during his bath he would grind his top and bottom choppers together. It sounded like the screech of chalk on a chalkboard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Historic Moment

Barack Obama, president-elect of the United Stated of America (2008)

Within moments of my previous post, CNN and MSNBC declared Obama president-elect. I think there are few moments in one's life where you KNOW history is being made, and last night was one of them. Whether or not you are an Obama supporter, last night was a turning point in our history as a nation. Yes, he is an untested politician, this junior senator from Illinois, but he ran a BRILLIANT campaign (and don't you want to support the person who runs the better campaign?? Doesn't that say something about him??). I fervently hope that he will be able to make real, positive changes in Washington. I hope he lives up to the integrity he projects. I hope he moves America back onto the path of financial stability, peace, and security. I believe he will be a moderate president, fighting to better the lives of the American middle class, and challenging us all to be better, to be more, than we currently are. He is proof that America continues to be the land of opportunity and that through hard work, perseverance, and the support of our families, we can achieve our dreams. Congratulations, Mr. Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night

I want to be a good citizen and stay up, watching the polls with eagle eyes & cheering when my preferred candidate (hopefully) wins. But I'm pooped.
I can still hear bubbles in my chest when I breathe out. My hives were way better this morning, but I was still a little itchy. Big J is learning to nap, but he's still getting used to snoozing all night in his crib (plus the 5 am feeding is still too darn early for my liking).
So there you have it folks. I'm going to bed. I will just have to be surprised in the a.m. I hope it's a pleasant surprise.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baby Stuff

For me, one of the most stressful things about parenting is the plethora of baby stuff out there. As a second time parent, I should be used to seeing all the Must-Have's, the Baby Necessities, and the You-Are-A-Terrible-Parent-If -You-Don't-Buy-Your-Kid-This-Right-NOW's.

But I'm not used to it. And while I have my go-to baby stuff, I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out on something. Ex: The Bumbo. It wasn't around for Big Sis, and seems like it would have a limited amount of usefulness. Well, I did buy one (secondhand), and I really do use it. No, I won't use it until he's 5, but I dare you to name a 'baby' item that you WILL use until your kid is 5. If I get a solid 12 months of use out of a baby item, I call it worthwhile. And the fact that I have a few things I've held on to, and used for both kids - bonus. I'm not sure the Aquarium bouncer will survive a 3rd baby, but we've definitely gotten our money's worth out of it.

The latest item I am puzzling over is the Sleep Sack. It seems like a good idea: Keep your baby warm without having to worry that they'll smother themselves in the quilt you spent 2 months making by hand. But it also seems like one of those things that a baby would either love or hate. And I have a sneaking suspicion mine would hate it. Something about being confined in a warm, fuzzy sleeping bag just doesn't jibe with his desire to kick his feet up in the middle of the night and grasp the edge of his crib with his toes. And the second he figures out how to wiggle up onto his knees? It's ALL over.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I've been bad about posting, as I have been sick all week. I woke up last Saturday, knowing I was getting sick. I just had that feeling. Sure enough, I was fine that day but Sunday dawned on me with a cough and an achy body. After church I put on my cozy pants, oversized sweatshirt and Uggs, then wrapped up in a blanket with a heating pad on my chest. Being toasty warm made me feel a little better, but unfortunately that was the only day this week I could get away with that.

I've been coughing and hacking my way through the week with almost no voice (courtesy of multiple bouts of strep throat as a child - every time I get sick, I lose my voice). It was especially fun to work through multiple conference calls with the new boss. Oh yeah, I have ANOTHER boss (this makes 7 in 4 years). He seems nice enough, but it's been challenging to get him up to speed and keep up with all his projects while feeling like I want to hack up my lungs and pass out in bed by 10 am each day. He leaves for Hong Kong today, so I hope that I can take it a little easier this next week.

I'm feeling less sick each day, but woke this morning to itchy legs. I thought it was just dry skin from the colder weather (but I suppose 70 degrees on Halloween isn't much colder....). Within an hour, I had hives and welts all over my legs, torso, and arms. We think it might be my new soap (thanks Bath & Body!), but I am so glad that it seems to be gone after a little Benadryl cream & 1 Benadryl tablet. I was able to take a nap this morning, and woke up feeling - and looking - much better.

Big J news: Well, he's finally taken to bottle feeding. He's eating 3 meals of solids with 2 bottles each day. I alternate between formula and pumping, and he seems to be doing really well. Last night was our first effort at sleep training him (no more family bed), and it went far better than I expected. He went to bed late, as we were home late from Trunk or Treat festivities. I put him down at about 9pm, and he didn't really wake until 12:30. He cried for about 15 minutes, then settled down until around 4:30. I think he was hungry, but after just 5 minutes of crying, he settled down again. At 5:30 he woke, and I KNEW he was hungry, so I nursed him for a few minutes & got him settled in the crib again. A few minutes after 7 he woke, and I nursed him again, desperately hoping he would fall asleep, but he was up for good. He's still not a great napper (30-40 minutes at most), but I am hopeful that if his night sleep is better, he will learn to self-soothe during naps & sleep for longer stretches. No matter how little he naps, he is almost always a sweet boy during the day. He loves to sit up and reach for his toys, and we are encouraging him to spend more time on his tummy to prepare for crawling. He loves splashing in his bath and will lay on his back, raise his legs over his head and smack them down in the water, spraying everything around him.

Big Sis news: She's just chugging along with school and ballet. She is a huge help with Big J, and he adores her. She thinks he's much more fun now that he can interact with her a little. With Christmas coming, she is desperate for every toy she sees on TV, and will sometimes tell me: "See Mom, it's not Bratz, can I have that??" (We have a moratorium on Bratz in this house. Those dolls are not allowed here - no way, no how). We're keeping it simple for Christmas this year, focusing on a few new books, a few activity toys, a couple of handmade items, and maybe one fun toy. Even that sounds like a lot!! She already has more than enough stuff, and it's on my To Do list to go through all her clothes, shoes, and toys, and store/ get rid of everything she's outgrown. Unfortunately, to avoid a complete meltdown (from either of us), it's a task that needs to be done when she's not here and that doesn't happen very often.

Today we're hanging out at home, with the smell of spaghetti sauce in the air (preparation for tonight's lasagna). It's a beautiful day out, so perhaps we'll make our way to the park. I know those colder temperatures and snowy days are right around the corner, and I feel like we have to maximize every decent day we still get.