Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dear Stylist,

I think we're done here.

I liked the salon when I first started going there a year ago. Caitlin was young, but she could cut some hair. And after going without cut & color for 4 months, I was ready to try almost anything. She revived my lifeless locks & painted them with care. She was consistent from visit to visit. We had a good thing going.

And then she moved.

And you took over her chair. The first time I went to you, I had a slight feeling of dread, but tried to stifle it. You didn't help when we started talking & you responded in your flat, slow, slightly nasal way. You sound like a cross between Jeff Spicoli and Butt-head. Every question I asked or suggestion I made was greeted with a moment of silence, and then a brief answer, as if I was an idiot for asking.

But I persevered. We had our appointment & I was happy with my hair.

So what happened this time? It was only our 2nd appointment, but I didn't think I was asking for too much. I wanted to go darker, and I got darker ....which then washed out to dark-reddish with highlights. You seemed put out that you had to cut my hair (I booked a cut & color, no surprise intended). I asked for a trim & you chopped extra layers which make my wavy hair poof like an electrified poodle. You rushed through the blowout, burning me TWICE. And the final tab was 50% higher than any previous visit.

The receptionist raised an eyebrow when I only tipped 10%? YOU'RE LUCKY I TIPPED AT ALL.

No, I didn't complain. No, I didn't call the owner & tell her I'm dissatisfied. I would never dream of asking for another stylist at the same salon - talk about awkward!

I will just do as I always do - put it in a ponytail & find a new salon. It's a good thing Fall is coming. Maybe I can hide under hats for a while.

Ladies, why is it so hard to find a good stylist????

Dusting Off My Soapbox

If nothing else, a blog should be a place to express one's opinions, right?

After all it's MY blog.

So indulge me for a brief post:

It bothers me when people use their children as an excuse for why they can't do something. This sentiment is usually delivered in such a manner: "Oh, well, yeah, I could have done ____ , but you know, I have _(insert #)__ children."

Well, perhaps I need to readjust my listening ears, but it sounds to me like you are leveraging your innocent offspring to excuse your own lack of initiative and/or follow-through.

And are you also implying that everyone else who has less children than you can NEVER understand your home life and challenges that children bring?

Finally, are you possibly, just possibly, insinuating that you didn't choose to have this many children & that you are just a tiny bit burdened? Because last time I checked, birth control was readily available at any grocery, drug, or convenience store, not to mention doctor's office, pharmacy & Planned Parenthood location.

Now, I am a parent, and I understand that children can complicate things. The luggage alone can be daunting. But I think that with a little creativity and some extra planning, you can do anything post-children that you could do pre-children. And in my opinion, the fruit of your loins should be MORE of an impetus for achieving your goals.

So parents, stop making excuses and start using your brood as an incentive to make your dreams happen!

Friday, August 27, 2010


Last Thursday our area was hit by not one, but TWO tornadoes.

At around 6:30pm we stood outside and watched as the day turned from sunny skies to angry clouds, and we watched the clouds swirl counter-clockwise above us. In less than 10 minutes the rain began to lash at the windows and the wind bent trees nearly in half. The rain then turned horizontal, and morphed into hail.

We never took shelter in the basement, which in retrospect was really, really stupid, as one of the tornadoes passed extremely close to the house. I blog this not to revel in our stupidity, but to tell you that hanging out in my stinky basement for 20 minutes would have been a small price to pay for a little extra peace of mind.

The lights flickered a few times, then went out.

We spent the next 50 hours (not that I was counting or anything) without electricity.

A Few Things I Learned About Living Without Electricity

  1. Having a steady source of power can never be overrated.
  2. A gas water heater = probably still have hot water.
  3. Showering in the dark is not nearly as fun as I thought it would be, and even less so when shaving one's legs after inserting a brand new razor blade.
  4. An ancient refrigerator can still do a decent job of staying cold for 50 hours.
  5. Although we lost about $150 in food, it could have been worse! I am glad I didn't buy that extra freezer last week.
  6. My kids can only color so much before the crayons start going into body parts.
  7. A giant tub of Legos is the perfect distraction to being without Thomas for days on end (oh the horror!).
  8. A giant tub of Legos also contains tiny Lego parts, which are easy to find, as I enjoy walking barefoot around the house. Or you can follow my lead & get frustrated & suck them up in the vacuum the minute the power comes back on. But you may have to replace said vacuum. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  9. We can only circle the block so many times before it becomes a forced march.
  10. Living without AC is good training for going without power.
  11. It doesn't matter if we have a BBQ grill and a camp stove - if Mama is being irrational & you can't open the fridge/ freezer because "we have to try and save the milk!", then there's really nothing to cook.
  12. People will act amazed when you tell them you don't have a generator (hello, we are students, why on earth would we have a generator??).
  13. Generators may create electricity, but they do not generate any sort of soothing sound. Especially worth noting when sleeping with all the windows open because the tornado's refreshing breezes have stopped and the weather has turned into a stagnant 78% humidity.
  14. People will also be amazed when you tell them you don't own a cooler. But they won't offer to let you borrow 1 of the 6 Igloos they have stashed in the garage.
  15. We should think about getting a cooler. Because spending $50 on a cooler and ice is much smarter than just replacing $6 in spoiled milk.
  16. When you call the power company repeatedly to get an update on when electricity will be restored, a good rule of thumb is to take the estimated time and add 12 hours to it. To be safe, add 18 hours.
  17. Seeing that every house across the street still has power ("We're on the hospital grid!") will not make you like the neighbors. But it might make you want to break into their house and watch an Intervention marathon under the soothing caresses of machine-cooled air.
  18. I am so grateful that some genius invented a car charger which still works when the car is not running.
Lessons learned. Many, many lessons.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Something For Myself

Being a Mom means that your own wants and desires often get passed over in favor of what your babies and family needs.

And that's OK.

Petty wishes for pedicures, uninterrupted reading time, and Girl's Night Out often pale in comparison to the more immediate need for school shoes, tending a a vomiting toddler, or Daddy working another night shift.

But every once in a while, I loosen the ties that bind, and find some time for me.

In this instance, I signed up for an online photography course with the interweb's own Nicole Hill Gerulat. My hopes are that Photo 101 will finally allow me to use my camera as it was meant to be used (and not simply click away on auto settings). If her textbook is any indication of what the class will hold, my wish just may come true.

Assignments begin the week after Labor Day. This means Big Sis and I will both be back in class at the same time. I think I'm going to have more fun than she will.

If the above ambition wasn't enough, I have also resolved to finally learn a little of the graphics program I bought months ago. Printed manual in hand, I hope to teach myself enough to revamp my blog a bit.

Here's to learning new things!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Happenings

Big Sis worked on this tooth for weeks.
Daddy finally had to yank it out.
Traumatic for all, but the Tooth Fairy's visit made up for it.

We've also been spending lots of time on this.
Good thing it's summer, and he can run around wearing as little as possible!
I think we started a bit early, but he's doing well.
(Note: the quilt on the couch was a precautionary measure)

The above is just for cuteness.
We call it "sleep-pouting".
It doesn't happen often, but is highly amusing when it does.

His new signature move.
When performed while shouting "Check out The Two!", it never fails to bring smiles.
Thanks to Big Sis for gifting him with this.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fab Friday: Hydrogen Peroxide

I am not a great housewife.

More Lucille Ball than June Cleaver, my housewifery is lackadaisical and haphazard, with the majority of my homemaking artistry concentrated in the fields of Dish-Doing and Bent-Over-Toy-Gathering.

In the Department of Fluff-n-Fold, my know-how is most rudimentary. But I have a secret weapon when it comes to stain removal.

Hydrogen Peroxide.

It's no secret that I have a fondness for OxiClean. I am supremely lazy and use the spray version, usually saturating the area and allowing the garment to sit for long, lonely hours before washing.

But once in a while, my beloved OxiClean just isn't powerful enough to fight the legendary staining power of chocolate. When I spy those milky brown streaks embedded in Big J's favorite shirt, I immediately reach for the Hydrogen Peroxide.

Used in conjunction with OxiClean and a toothbrush, I have found HP to be a problem-solver extraordinaire.

I spray the afflicted area generously with Oxi, douse with HP, scrub gently with the toothbrush, and walk away. If the air is particularly dry (not usually a problem in the bowels of my Eastern Michigan basement), I will ensconce the garment within a Ziploc bag. 12-24 hours later, I wash.

And that's it.

Some may laugh and gently shake their heads at my ignorance. "OxiClean contains HP", they think to themselves, marvelling at my foolishness while they flip through the latest copy of the Robb Report and tap out their meerschaums.

I know that. But there's something about the above approach which just works.

While not infallible, 95% of the darkest, most set-in chocolate ice cream/ pudding/ fudgsicle stains have disappeared. I have used the above on stains which were washed and dried and deeply entrenched. Blood, chocolate, and grass stains have all drifted away before the mighty power of the HP.

So the next time you're faced with the remains of last night's popsicle fest besmirching your favorite garment, give it a go.

What do you have to lose?
(Other than the 69 cents you'll spend?)

*Disclaimer: I am not a laundry expert. The above has worked for me, and may or may not work for you. Before you attempt stain removal, check your garment's care instructions. FYI, sometimes the above doesn't work the first time. In that case, I repeat the steps while the garment is still damp from the wash, and allow it to soak for more time. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mabel's Labels

Last year's foray into Kindergarten left me feeling puzzled and inept for weeks.

So many forms to fill out!
So many policies and procedures!
So many unwritten rules!

One of my favorites of the unwritten rules was "If it's yours, put your name on it". Oh yes, we were no longer in the polite world of private preschool - this was the tangled jungle of public school kid-dom. Don your backpack & wield your Sharpie!

But instead of a Sharpie, I took a more civilized tactic.

I invested in Mabels Labels.

I heard about Mabels Labels from Design Mom, a most fashionable & trusted source of information.

I was impressed by the variety of options available - they offer everything from combo packs for your back to school needs to household labels to satisfy the Martha in all of us. Enter the text of choice, choose your color combo, add an icon & you're ready to label to your heart's content.

I opted for the Classic Ultimate Back-to-School Combo, in Cotton Candy, of course.

When they arrived, I proceeded to label every school and dance item I could get my hands on - from coats & backpacks to water bottles & pencil cases to rain boots & dance slippers.

A year later, the labels are still secure, and look as fresh as when I applied them. Many of them are waterproof and UV resistant, so I could throw a coat into the wash & not worry about losing the label.

The amount of product in a combo pack is so generous, I only used a fraction of the labels - plenty left over to begin the labelling anew for this impending school year.

If I had to do it all over again, I would go for a more neutral color & last name only, so I could use them for Big J's stuff, too. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to order more!

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review, it is simply a product I purchased for my own use & wanted share with both my readers. If you have any questions about Mabels Labels, I suggest you visit their website & contact them directly.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

In honor of my birthday - and because I felt like it - here is a list of 100 things about me:

  1. If I could, I would sleep until 9am every day.
  2. My favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.
  3. Growing up, I had straight hair. After I had kids, it went wavy. Now it's just difficult.
  4. Exercise is like a free therapy session.
  5. Fall is my favorite season.
  6. I have never broken a bone.
  7. I didn't know how to freestyle swim until my husband taught me.
  8. I am scuba-certified.
  9. I secretly yearn to be the best hostess on the block.
  10. I miss my kids when they're not with me - even if we're apart for just a few hours.
  11. Birds freak me out.
  12. I can't run any more because I have bone fragments floating in my ankle.
  13. I have never watched Survivor, Lost, or Alias. Am I missing out?
  14. I cry when watching Biggest Loser. Not every episode, but a lot of them.
  15. I am terrible at craft projects because I hate to measure & generally just wing it. Incredibly, it usually turns out OK.
  16. I am quite lazy, but have a strong sense of guilt that overrides the laziness.
  17. I make all the bread we eat.
  18. I love People magazine, but am not allowed to have a subscription. That's probably for the best.
  19. Diamonds go with everything.
  20. I am terrible at keeping plants alive.
  21. Forget bananas - Carne Asada might be the perfect food.
  22. I like my tacos on flour tortillas, not corn.
  23. I have it on good authority that Martha Stewart might be related to Satan. Don't quote me on that.
  24. I love a house with hydrangeas in the yard.
  25. I am glad we no longer have cable, as I might never leave the house due to the imminent viewing of a RHONY/ Jerseylicious/ Hoarders/ Toddlers-n-Tiaras/ Basketball Wives marathon.
  26. I prefer grapefruit or citrus scented cleaning products.
  27. I have flat feet.
  28. I have only been to the hospital 4 times in my life (for myself).
  29. If I could, I would own vacation homes in Colorado and Hawaii.
  30. I travelled through Europe for 2 weeks by myself.
  31. My favorite American city is New York.
  32. My favorite European city is Paris.
  33. I have one half-sister who is 9 years younger than I am.
  34. Growing up I had a puppy named Pepper.
  35. I would love to learn to play tennis.
  36. I like pink.
  37. As a child we had a tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve.
  38. I believe I still have not “peaked”.
  39. I have a Master’s Degree in a field that I have never worked in.
  40. I have lived in 4 different states since being married.
  41. My first car was a VW Rabbit.
  42. I look at houses online “for fun”.
  43. I think I’d be really good at flipping houses for profit.
  44. I went to college in Arizona.
  45. I've been on a cruise, and don’t need to repeat the experience.
  46. I like to always have painted toenails.
  47. I think that society has taken casual Friday too far.
  48. I am blood type O-Negative. Universal donor!
  49. I watched all of Ronald Reagan’s funeral on TV.
  50. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art.
  51. I love hot chocolate.
  52. I cannot stand yellow mustard.
  53. Hamburgers must be ordered without pickles.
  54. Cupcakes are one of my top 5 favorite foods.
  55. I helped bail someone out of jail.
  56. I think 78 degrees is the perfect temperature.
  57. I don’t have a favorite book or movie.
  58. I read so quickly that I seldom ever buy books – it just seems wasteful.
  59. I love to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on a beach.
  60. I have worked since I was 15.
  61. I have not had a traffic ticket in 10 years.
  62. As a child in Southern California, I distinctly remember The Night Stalker. I slept with my windows closed & locked – in the middle of summer – for months.
  63. I have been inside Elizabeth Taylor’s home (yes, THE Elizabeth Taylor).
  64. I love jewelry but wear very little of it.
  65. I have 7 ear piercings but only wear earrings in 2 of them.
  66. My dream car is a Range Rover, but I will probably never drive one because I think they are ridiculously expensive.
  67. I have blue eyes.
  68. I cannot sleep in my contact lenses.
  69. I hate loud noises, and I am especially sensitive to alarms and the sound of static.
  70. I think you can’t get good sushi outside of the West Coast.
  71. I have owned one house.
  72. My favorite fall/winter uniform is jeans, a black sweater, & Uggs.
  73. I would like to take a cooking class from a professional school.
  74. I think high-fives are ridiculous when delivered by anyone over the age of 5.
  75. My first trip to Canada was last year.
  76. The furthest I have been into Mexico is Tijuana.
  77. I was born in California, went to high school in Colorado, college in Arizona, and graduate school in Louisiana. I don’t consider any of them “home”.
  78. I never balance our checkbook.
  79. I will eat fish, but don’t really enjoy it.
  80. I prefer to read historical fiction or mystery novels.
  81. My perfect house would have a large kitchen with plenty of counter space, and a reading nook with a fireplace & an armchair to curl up in.
  82. I have never mowed a lawn.
  83. When we remodeled the bathroom in our house, I did all the tile work.
  84. I was chosen “Outstanding Senior Printmaker” when I graduated from college.
  85. When I met my husband I knew he was “The One”. It only took a year for me to convince him.
  86. I consider blogstalking a semi-hobby.
  87. As a child, every Saturday night was Taco Night. I couldn’t enjoy tacos for a good 10 years after I moved out.
  88. I am easily influenced by marketing, but slow to act.
  89. I am terrible at home decorating.
  90. Unless I am camping, I detest eating off paper plates and using plastic utensils.
  91. I am usually very quiet in a group, but it's because I am nervous around large crowds, not because I don't like you.
  92. My dream vacation would be to go to New Zealand for 2 weeks.
  93. I love foods with lemon: lemon meringue pie, lemon pound cake, lemon pudding, lemon bars….
  94. I have owned 1 new car in my life. It was totaled less than a year after I bought it (not my fault).
  95. I like to paint my bedroom walls a soft grey color.
  96. I sleep with heavy curtains on the windows to shut out ALL the light.
  97. I enjoy DIY projects around the house.
  98. I think Thank You notes are the glue of polite society.
  99. I like very thin - almost crepe-like - pancakes.
  100. My favorite candy is chocolate covered gummy bears.
Thanks to Jen for the inspiration in creating this list!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Half Full or Half Empty?

Moreso than New Year's, birthdays indicate a very real flipping of pages in the book of life. When my annual anniversary comes knocking, I spend much time reflecting upon the past and future.

I recently read a short story in a magazine - I don't recall which one - in which the author talked about her experience in a restaurant. She was dining on the patio with her husband on a lovely summer evening and while reviewing the menu, her inner dialogue made comments about individual prices, the overall cost of the menu, the traffic going home, etc. She ordered the least expensive dish on the menu, and decided to forgo a beverage. Her husband ordered oysters to start, a delightful entree, and a glass of wine. She cocked an eyebrow at him, but he just shrugged, smiled,and returned to admiring the view.

As she listened to him order, she began to wonder why he was able to more fully enjoy the experience while she worried about it. They had plenty of money for the meal, and plenty of time to linger that evening. They were not out of place among the other diners, and had enjoyed a lovely afternoon together.

She realized that she was looking at the experience in a "half empty" kind of way. She spent so much time worrying about things that did not merit worry, that she couldn't just relax and enjoy the moment. The story ended with her changing her order to what she really wanted, and sharing her husband's oysters.

While reading the story, I realized that I am exactly that: a "glass half empty" kind of girl.

I worry.

About everything.

I worry about how much it costs, how it's going to happen, and who is going to be there. I worry about the time, the place, and the dress code. I worry about that which I can control, that which I cannot, and every scenario in between.

And when I thought about it some more, I decided that this is a very ungrateful attitude for someone who considers herself to be a grateful person. I get so caught up in the minute details of the big picture, that I forget to appreciate the every day. The ordinary is what makes life worth living.

Snuggling with my kids at night while reading bedtime stories.

2 cars with no major repair needs.

Waking up in the morning with no aches, pains, or creaking joints.

Preparing a delicious, healthy meal in a spacious kitchen, served on dishes I love.

A family who cares about me and would do anything they could to help me.

One of my birthday resolutions is to enjoy each day more fully. There is much in life we cannot control, but why not appreciate that which surrounds you & brings you joy?

PS - You bet we're going out to eat on my birthday. And I WILL order the chocolate cake. ;)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer is Kickin' My Butt

I'm going to blame the heat.

Yes, yes - it's the heat!

The hot, hot heat - with extra humidity!!

I know, you think I am whining (and I AM), but seriously. This morning it was 83 degrees inside the house, with 73% humidity.

Although I am grateful (so, so grateful) for the window A/C units we purchased in May & installed in 2 of the bedrooms, I still melt into a greasy puddle by the end of each endless summer day.

By 7pm it takes all of my energy rouse myself enough to douse myself with icy water and then collapse onto the bed beneath the constant humming of Energy Star machine-cooled air.

Even the 100+ degree temperatures of Nevada did not exhaust me in the same way. At least there we could open the windows after sunset and let the cool mountain breezes bathe us in refreshment.

I am also in the midst of a new workout routine and a 5-day "food plan", so that may have something to do with my lethargy, too. More on that later.

I guess the point of this post is that I have little to report. For now.

It's supposed to cool off on Friday, so perhaps my creative juices will percolate again & bubble over by the weekend.

Hope you are having a lovely - and cool - summer.