Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Yesterday my birthday. I know I was born in 1980, so with some simple math I can deduce that I'm 33. Yes, I am now officially at the age when I have to think about how old I am. When I was a kid I thought that was so pathetic. Wow, how things have changed.

The other day I realized that I feel like a real grown-up almost all the time. Yikes. Does that mean I'm more mature? Not likely. Maybe. But probably no. Really it probably boils down to being busier and more efficient in decision making. And realizing that my decisions have repercussions for me and for others.

There are still so many things I want to do. Ideally I would drop to a four-day workweek (I should probably ask about that, but I'm not ready to take a potential pay cut just yet). I want to have another kid. I want to go on vacation with Nick this winter. I want to see my friends more and make more local friends. Short-term goals, mostly, and all things that are doable.

Long-term? I'm not sure what I want. I've honestly never pictured my life past this point. At some point I'd like to retire. Be debt-free. Maybe write, but probably not. Enjoy Hailey and her potential siblings at all phases of their lives. I'm getting better about living intentionally, but there's still so much time wasted.

Lately, I've stopped being so emotional about everything that happens to me - the tears are still there, but first I make the decisions and do whatever needs to be done. I bawled at the news I was being laid off, but I was fully together when Nick fell. And both situations ultimately turned out fine. Like most do.

Anyway, another year. Maybe 34 is the magic age when I finally have all my shit together. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Books: Beautiful Ruin

Beautiful Ruins
Jess Walter

I was really excited to read this book (I think based on a review in Entertainment Weekly), and it didn't disappoint. It's frankly the best book I've read in awhile - and I found myself telling people about it a lot.

Which was somewhat complicated, because the plot is complex. Beautiful Ruins centers around the meeting of actress Dee Moray and Pasquale, an Italian innkeeper. From this meeting, there are many ripples of aftermath, which are all covered in the book. The character list is sprawling, and there are many jumps forward and back in time. But what separates this book from other gimmick-y books with time jumps and several generations is that everything wraps up with a consistent plot that makes sense and isn't predictable.

Did I like it? Yes. Very much. Read this book.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? Sadly, no. There are a number of named female characters, but they don't interact outside of men.

PS: I have read other books. I'm recommitting myself to blogging consistently. Which will involve books, among other things.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

If I Had One Wish

Friends, the death of Cory Monteith is really affecting me more than it should. Why? Sadly, plenty of celebrities have died before their time due to addiction. Plenty more will. So I have a few theories as to why this one is impacting me so much.

1. Cory was younger than I am (by like a year, but still). I'm apparently at the age where "gone too soon" means someone close to my age.
2. I'm a total Gleek. So this time it's someone I was a fan of who was at the height of their fame.
3. I'm a mom now. Just one more thing to worry about.

It's probably a combination of all these things. Maybe it's something else, I don't know. Obviously this is not someone I know, but it still hurts.

I've never been an addict myself (social drinker, but I can and have function fine with weeks or even months between drinks, and I am aware of my limits when I do imbibe), so I can't speak to the feeling. But I have some powers of observation, so I realize that the addict may be a swell person but the drugs are not swell and completely take over. They take away all sense of reason or awareness and control. They may leave the person alone for awhile, but they're always nagging.

If I had one wish for Hailey, it would be that she never start with addictive substances. Unfortunately, I'm not the only mom who wishes this, and it's clearly not a case of wishing making it so. And I don't think it's due to parenting or willpower or anything else I can make happen. And while there's not necessarily a causal impact here, you don't have to travel very far back in her bloodline to find some pretty gnarly mental health/substance abuse issues (for the sake of protecting privacy, let's just say it spans her parents' generation, her grandparents' generation and her great-grandparents' generation, and it's pretty widespread).

Of all the things to protect your kids from, this may be the hardest. And the most important.

And if you're someone who needs help, please reach out. If you're not sure if you need help, talk to someone. We're all pulling for you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LMG: Saturday Night

What did you do last Saturday night? Chances are, it was either go out and have a good time, or go to bed early. Well, as my latest lazy mom's guide, I am here to make a new recommendation: go grocery shopping.

For me, Saturday night shopping started as somewhat of a necessity. Since Nick's injury, he can't be alone with Hailey (unable to bend or lift, so not much good if she does anything tots do). One weekend, I was looking for a chance to go buy groceries. I had some other errands to run Sunday, and I knew that one more long-ish stop was going to be unpleasant for both of us. Bad weather was predicted. It was about 9:00 Saturday night, and I realized nothing was stopping me from going to the 24-hour supermarket.

So I got in the car and went. No diaper bag, no putting baby in and out of the car seat. She was safely in bed, so a hubby playing with the iPad at home was plenty of supervision (if there was a fire or something, he would be able to save her ... and he was as available as he would be if we were both home sleeping). No crowds at the store (even in the cereal aisle!). Light traffic (not often a problem for me, but it was lighter than usual). And when I got home, I was able to put away the groceries in peace without keeping baby out of the fridge or listening to her whine. Perfect. Repeated, and a new routine.

Also, the DQ between my house and the supermarket is open late. Perfect for a mommy treat ... it is, after all, the weekend.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Summer of Plan B

Sorry about the delay, folks ... this may or may not be worth the wait. 

So I realized I'm behind in blogging. I haven't even posted here that I have a new job (working in marketing at Legacy Building Solutions, a company that makes tension fabric buildings). This is the end of week two, and so far so good. The people are nice, the atmosphere is family-like, and I get to learn new things (good: construction terms; less good: Photoshop) which will be useful in real life and the future, and I get to be creative and have my ideas used.

Which is not the summer of laid off I was expecting. Or the summer of working at DealChicken I was expecting before that. Nick is still on bedrest, so it's been busy at home. Thank God for my mother-in-law for helping with Nick every day, to our daycare lady for being so awesome and flexible, and to pretty much everyone else for being generally supportive.

So new job and being the only one in my house who can put on pants has come with many demands on me. And it's meant missing out on some things (a wedding, naps, trips to Maddock), but it's also meant more family time than we probably would have had otherwise (everyone is at home every evening). And "adaptability" is one of my top five strengths, so it's actually gone a little better than I thought it would (so far I've been to work on time every day!). Money-wise I think it will be fine, but it's hard to tell as we haven't gotten any bills yet to see how everything will shake out with insurance. But we've been eating at home and only driving one car, so I'm not too worried about it.

And so plan B continues. And it's a good thing - if I were laid off this whole time, we probably would have a hard time with bills since Nick also isn't working. And who knows how we'd be treating each other if we were home all day every day (our relationship is fine, but there's such a thing as personal space). And we got to watch the whole season of Arrested Development together. And I've finally figured out how to make Cream of Wheat without boiling it over and making a huge mess.

So that's an update on the summer of plan B. Hopefully I'll get back to regular blogging, and better posts than this, soon. It's good for the soul.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stay Off the Roof

On Friday I had taken Haikey to daycare, gotten myself cleaned up and was getting ready to head into town when I got a call from my husband. He had fallen from the roof of a shed and was in severe back pain. I got there about two minutes later (I was already in the car), and he was on the phone with 911. He was taken by ambulance to the ER, where we learned that he has compression fractures in three of his lumbar vertebrae.  We came home this morning after two nights in the hospital, and Nick will be on bed rest for six weeks. Basically he can get up with a brace and a walker to go to the bathroom and eat.

It will be a long six weeks. But hopefully at that time he will be fully up and running. And considering he fell from a roof, it could be so much worse. So we're counting our blessings and changing our plans.

And I'm clearing my social calendar for the next six weeks (not that tough). But on week seven, if you are holding a bottle of wine you should watch out - I will not be responsible for my actions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Year

Exactly one year ago today, I was starting to realize I really was in labor (technically my water broke very early in the morning, but all morning and part of the afternoon was pretty pain-free). That means today has marked one year since I've become a mom. And I've learned some things.

  • When moms say they don't even remember their baby as a very new infant, they really are telling the truth. 
  • Sleep is the best thing ever. But sleeping with a baby is the very best thing ever. 
  • You really will worry every time something is wrong. Even if it's something minor. You're that person. 
  • You'll cry when you go back to work. You'll move on and become a productive worker again, but those first few days suck. 
  • The baby really will be fine. Most of the choices six of one, half dozen of the other.
  • If you stress out, so will the baby. This does not make not-stressing-out any easier. 
  • You'll become someone who gets sad and/or cries when something happens to a fictional baby on TV. 
  • You only have to become part of the mommy wars if you want to be. When in doubt, stay off the damn Internet. 
  • Make time for other people. Your friends, your family, and especially your spouse. This may be harder than it seems, but it's vitally important. 
  • Babies reach milestones on their own time. Don't compare your kid to others. This is difficult. 
  • You really will use a baby voice. So will everyone else you know. 
  • You will love that baby more than you thought you ever could. 
  • You may love being pregnant, and you may love the child growing inside you. But once the baby is actually born and becomes a real person, it's a whole new ballgame. 
  • Oh, and those first weeks after the baby is born are uncomfortable bordering on painful. Cabbage leaves in your bra will help. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Job Hunting

When I got my last job at DealChicken, I was looking for a job while working full time and raising a baby. My original goal was to find a job before returning from FMLA, which I did not achieve, but I got the job before I cracked (I loved my Tastefully Simple peeps, but the commute was killing me).

When I found out I'd be laid off, I again started job hunting while working and being a mom. I had about two months' notice before my layoff. I had one interview before my job ended, but that company decided to go with an internal candidate (which, all things being equal I think is the right choice - so I can't be too bitter).

Last week was my first week of unemployment. But I had decided to give myself a week without looking for a job full time - which turned out to be the right move, as first Hailey and then Nick and I got the flu. But I did send out one resume, and I have an interview scheduled for tomorrow. I don't know a lot about the job, and I think it may be more of a commute than I'm excited about, but we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, tomorrow also starts full time job hunting, as well as applying for freelance jobs. My laptop is back to life, so writing samples are available. Ideally, I have freelance to keep myself busy three days a week until August, and then I return to a full-time gig. I have no clue how realistic that is, and I'm committed going with the flow. So wish me luck - Both tomorrow and the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Books: The Passage

The Passage 
By Justin Cronin

The Passage is the story of a government experiment gone horribly, gruesomely wrong. In the quest to get closer to immortality, the government experiments with some bats found in the tropics. They eventually get a virus that extends life. And as is so often suggested, they start to experiment with death row prisoners. And one little girl who seems to be abandoned. The virus does indeed extend life, but in return it turns the affected into vampire-like creatures. 

The action skips around in time and place. It starts before the virus is found, skips to when it is truly becoming viral, and then skips about 100 years in the future. There's a sprawling cast of characters, including the girl, several of the death row inmates, the FBI agents who recruit them for experiments, a colony of survivors, a military unit, and many others. I'd say the girl, Amy, is the protagonist. 

The Passage is the third book in a planned trilogy. The sequel, The Twelve, is available now. The third book is not yet available.

Did I like it? No. This book is over 700 pages long. Not a problem in and of itself, but this particular novel draaaaaaags on. And on. And on. It's aiming for Stephen King with the character development and the basic plot, but it falls quite short (and I'm not a huge King fan). As the book drew to a close, I kept wanting it to just be over already. I'd basically stopped caring what happened.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? Yes. Some of the action happens in a convent. And on more than one occasion the female colonists converse. Little of the conversation is about men. And Amy, who is about 12, does not even think about men or boys. In a vampire novel, no less! Also interesting to note is that the men are as likely as the women to worry about their relationships.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Applying for Unemployment

Today I applied for unemployment benefits. I've never done this before, or even thought I would. I graduated from college 10 years ago, and I've gone to work every day since until yesterday. So today I apply for the benefit.

The actual application took about 20 minutes online. For Minnesota, the site is And I'll have to fill out what I assume is a condensed version of that form every week until I get a job. My weekly benefit will be direct deposited into my bank account (there's also an option to receive a debit card). I was able to estimate my benefits a few weeks ago by submitting my Social Security Number online, and the benefit estimate I got today is the same amount (the final amount will be mailed to me once everything is analyzed). The actual amount won't be disclosed here, but it's based on 2/3 of my income over the past 18 months. And although no one will be jealous of my income, it's enough for us to get by.

How does the application make me feel? The form itself was pretty direct. It was eye-opening how much the system already knew about me - although it did list a company I've never worked for as a former employer. There's no reason I should feel guilty about receiving these benefits, and I don't. I've looked for a job since I knew I would be laid off, and I will continue to do so, along with finding little ways to make extra money in the meantime. When I took the job at DealChicken, I intended to work there for a period of several years. This is a blip. Hopefully I will be employed again soon.

Of course, there's not benefits outside of money - we've had temporary insurance since I left Tastefully Simple, and we will continue to have that until I find a job (but that's a story for another day). If TV is accurate, at one point you had to actually go to an office and meet with a caseworker to collect your benefit. I'm glad I don't have to do that.

Stay tuned for more adventures in unemployment. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Books: Suicide

by Edouard Leve

Suicide is the written account of how a man remembers a friend who has committed suicide. The two men seem to have been friends from childhood. It's close to a stream-of-consciousness memoir, where the narrator shares memories of his friend, speculated on things the friend would have liked, and ruminates on life in general. The friend left no note, so "why" is another common theme.

It's a short book. There's an afterword explaining that Leve famously committed suicide just days after turning in the manuscript. He also left no note, so the book is often read by those seeking to understand what may have caused him to take his own life. I was unaware of the biographical note until after I had finished the book.

Did I like it? This one is a toughie. But yes ... lots of naval-gazing, and the anonymous nature of the narrator and the friend prevent any fully realized characters. But the concept is interesting, it's well-written, and there are some interesting points made.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? No. No dialog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Layoff Plan

I haven't been successful in finding a new job. I just had my exit interview at my current job, which means as of Monday (or Saturday, depending on how you look at these things) I join the ranks of the unemployed. Scary, as I've never been there before.

Since I have a great tendency toward inertia, I need to have a plan for what exactly I'll do when I don't have a job to go to every day. Obviously I'll continue looking for jobs, and I plan to do freelance writing as well (so, you know, if you have any opportunities please send them my way). It will also be nice to have the summer to spend with Hailey - she'll still go to daycare a few days a week so that I can do freelance stuff and maintain my sanity (and I think daycare is good for kids), but we'll be home together quite a bit. Considering I was on FMLA last summer, we have a good groove of mommy-baby summers together. :)

But ... there are some things I want to accomplish while there are fewer demands on my time. Here's a partial list ... which will be added to as things come up.

  • Take Hailey to visit my grandma in southern Minnesota (they've been together at a wedding, but we haven't actually made the trip yet - yikes)
  • See my friend Jen in Fargo (she works in Alexandria once a week, so that may be where we meet up)
  • Help my parents move, and probably help my mom with events this summer
  • Lose some weight and get in shape enough to take a long bike ride with the baby trailer
  • Thoroughly clean the house - and get rid of crap
That's a short list. I'll also be helping my mother-in-law with her business while they're on vacation, doing house stuff/lawn maintenance, helping my sister with her kids when she has no daycare, and helping Nick put up the shed. But I need some concrete goals so it doesn't turn into a summer of me on the couch watching Live with Kelly and Michael (don't judge). Hopefully I am soon employed!

Anything I should add to the list? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


It's Sunday night, so that makes it a good time for a recent recap, right?

  • Clutter-busting challenge: Yesterday was actually clean-up day in the township, so that was a gimme. And we got rid of some electronics that had been stashed in the guest room as well as the bedroom TV we never watched. So far nothing has gone out today, but there's still some time. And Hailey opened a cupboard I had sort of forgotten about, so there's a new place to mine for crap. So far calling it a win. 
  • Employment update: No call from Tuesday's interview. Thank you cards were sent promptly. I feel like either I was who they were looking for, or I wasn't and there's not a lot I can do about it. Job ends Friday, so if that doesn't pan out I'll be doing the at-home mom/freelance thing. Either way has perks. 
  • Hailey's birthday party is next Saturday, and today we started shopping. Yikes! But there are many condiments that will be left over, so we're set with mustard all summer. :)
  • There's a thing on my leg. Either it's a wart or it's something scary. Poor/no insurance does not make it appealing to get it checked out, but I probably need to. Maybe I can have the doc look at it when I take Hailey in for her one-year shots? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Clutter-Busting Challenge

I follow for ways to save money and occasionally for recipes. Each month, she posts a challenge to her readers ... getting up earlier, filling the freezer with ready meals, various cleaning/organizing tasks. I've never before taken part in a challenge.

But in May I'll be participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge. As I look at the clothes in my closet that will no longer fit, the box of stuff from my old job that's not even unpacked yet, and the who-knows-what stuffed in our guestroom closet, I realize there's a lot of crap around the house we could do without. The challenge is pretty simple: get rid of seven items per day. I'm shooting for 20 days participation in order to give myself a break. We'll see how it goes! I may or may not post pictures here of the items I am getting rid of. It won't be much for baby stuff - we may have more kids, and those kids may be girls. But there's plenty of useless junk around!

Update: Below is my throw-aways from day 1 (note that not all seven items each day need to be garbage). Box for a waterpik we've had for years, assorted hair products I don't use, contact solution (none of us wear contacts) and some other crap. All from the bathroom. I feel like this will be a piece of cake. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lazy Mom's Guide: One Store

Another in a series of posts to make you look like a better mom. Although this tip is good for pretty much everyone. 

This weekend I needed groceries, baby shoes, TP and sunscreen. I had a coupon about to expire for the grocery store, so I went there for the food. I went to a box store with an incorporated shoe store for the shoes. I intended to buy the sundries there, but for some reason they didn't sell those items (or they made it impossible to find - several laps later, I gave up).

So today's lunch break was dedicated to buying TP and sunscreen. It would have been much easier to make one trip and buy all the things. Plus, I made impulse buys at each of the three stores, so I would also have saved money.

Shopping at one store does sometimes require planning. For example, had I used the coupon last week I could have avoided the grocery store this week and just picked up fresh things at Target. And it may mean you can't play the coupon game (a habit I think sounds cool but have never actually done), but your sanity is better. Plan ahead. Go to one store per week (or every few days if you need). Buy paper goods at the grocery or groceries at the big box store - the savings will even out, and your sanity will be worth it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The First Six Months

Thanks to Revanche at A Gai Shan Life for the idea ...

Nick and I met online. And for several months, that's where a lot of our relationship took place - we IMed a lot (remember when you did that not at work?). We were living about an hour apart from each other - me in an apartment, he in a house with his sister. So for several years we drove back and forth every other weekend.

And in that first six months (or what I remember as the first six months - some of these things may have actually happened later, but memory is subjective), we learned a lot about each other. The role of family in our lives, and the role of friends. How we felt about and related to money (hint: we learned to actually talk about it). How we spent our free time. And what we saw in the future.

And we created a lot of memories in those months. Inside jokes we still use today. Fun times, and silly times. I knew right away this was it - after our first or second date I told a co-worker I wouldn't be dating anyone new anytime soon. And seven years later, I still don't think I'll be dating anyone else. And now we've created more memories, created our own little family and learned more about how to relate to each other. But if we hadn't had those first six months, I don't know where we'd be today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Grown-Up House

You know those people who can entertain at the drop of a hat? Their house is always picked up. The house looks like someone actually thought about the decor. There's always something to serve, even if it's baby carrots and coffee ...

Yeah. I don't have one of those houses. I grew up like that (my mom's actually a very good entertainer), so I know it's not that the house is uncomfortable for the people who live there. I'm just too lazy. Even before I had the baby, I wasn't good at picking up - much less vacuuming, etc. Sometimes I notice cobwebs in the corners. Rarer still, I do something about them.

And sometimes it bothers me. This weekend I have a group of friends coming for breakfast. Luckily, they're laid-back friends who care more about the company than the actual house - and I'll make bacon, which means it will be a winner. Hailey's birthday party is in a few weeks. That's the type of event with mothers and grandmothers in attendance, so I'll probably tidy up for that and serve food out of serving dishes (thanks to my previous job, I have them in extreme abundance).

And someday, I probably will get in the habit of regularly doing just a little bit of maintenance to add up to a nice home. But for now, we finally have a couch that matches and isn't broken - so that's enough for me today. If you come to my house, pay attention to my delightfulness rather than my messiness.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Give Yourself a Break

This morning I woke up to a dusting of snow (which was expected to and did melt quickly). Hailey slept late (until about 8:00, which is a solid hour later than usual). And the house, as expected, had not cleaned itself overnight - the dishwasher remained unloaded, the floors remained neither swept nor vacuumed, the dust was solidly in place and the birthday party invitations were not yet addressed. And tonight is the night I have to make supper so that we can have leftovers for the rest of the week. Add that to my work stress (which is improved from a week ago, but still not a good situation), and I was one unhappy Juliet. 

So I made an executive decision. I did not want to go to work. Do I gave myself a work from home day. Baby got to sleep in before being bundled off to daycare. I took some chicken out to thaw, and I put it in the oven before going to pick up the little one. And I used my lunch break to vacuum. Things are still dusty and the invitations will be done shortly, but it was a good day overall. The work stress was still there, but I had time to get it done without worrying about pick-up time. 

I gave myself a break. And that little decision made my day. If you can work from home, do it. If you can't, maybe your break is waking up 10 minutes earlier to tidy up. Maybe it's calling a friend during your commute. Maybe your break is letting the house stay dirty for another day or two. Getting a pedicure while the kids are with their dad. Or maybe it's picking up pizza so you don't have to cook. I've done all these things at one time or another, and it's almost always worth it. Trust me - you're no good to your family or your work or even yourself if you're too tightly wound. You know your breaking point - give yourself a break before you get there. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Books: Dark Places

Dark Places
Gillian Flynn
345 pages

Dark Places is one of Gillian Flynn's earlier books (by "earlier," I mean before this summer's ubiquitous Gone Girl, which I liked but did not love). I happen to remember Flynn from Entertainment Weekly, which is my favorite magazine.

Dark Places follows Libby Day, and adult whose mother and sisters were murdered when she was a child. Libby testified that her brother, Ben, was the killer, and he's been in jail for the 25 years since. Libby has been drifting and living off donations, which are almost out. So when Lyle and the Kill Club (a local group of people obsessed with various murders and murderers) contact her and offer to pay her for helping them solve the crime (they believe Ben to be innocent), she takes them up on it for the money.

And to reveal too much more of the plot would be spoiling it. I can say that the narration shifts between Libby in the present day, Ben the day of the murders, and mom Patty the day of the murders. It's a stressful day for a lot of reasons (family is poor, Ben is a teenager, several pieces of bad news are delivered etc.). By the end of the book, Libby, the Kill Club and the reader all know true story of the murders.

Did I like it? The action was well-paced, the dialog is believable, and the story was enjoyable. However, I thought the ending was a little too tidy. A quick scan of Internet reviews show that I am in the minority here, but I though the deus ex machina was a little too unbelievable. So, my final verdict is that it's well-written but ultimately I wouldn't recommend it.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? Yes. Libby doesn't necessarily interact with many women (she's a loner), but Patty interacts with her sister Diane, and childhood Libby and her sisters Debby and Michelle talk amongst each other a lot.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Three Years

Today was our third anniversary. It was a cold, snowy day - quite the contrast from our beautiful, springy wedding day. We planned to go to the restaurant where we had our reception for a smelt fry (my first), but sick baby means that plans are postponed until tomorrow.

How has my life changed in the past three years? We lived together before we were married (scandal!), so it's easy to say not very much. And we've since had a baby, so it's easy to say in every way possible. But I think the real answer is somewhere in between.

I've learned that it's OK to sometimes give up control. We combined checking accounts, so I never even check it any more ... I used to check it at least once a day. But I know we both know how to live within our means, and I know he's honest with me when I ask how we're doing. And I do know how to check the account, so there's always a back-up plan.

I've learned to take other people into account. When you're single it's sometimes easier to make decisions, since it really only affects you. But it's nice to have a fully invested sounding board, as well as someone else to occasionally make decisions.

I think the best thing about our relationship is that we're great partners. Not in the sense that we split all chores 50/50 (although we each pull our weight) or that we always agree (although usually we can come to a conclusion we're both happy with). It's more about being complements. I'm somewhat prone to losing my shit, and Nick is a great calming influence on that. We each have skills the other lacks. And we know we don't have to take the world on alone. I loved being single, and I was great at it, but I love being married. I love you, Nick.

Monday, April 15, 2013

And Here's Where This Becomes the Mommy-est of Mommyblogs

Today, a good friend of mine ran the Boston Marathon. 25 miles of it, because some asshats bombed the finish line. She's OK, but obviously shaken. Running the marathon has been a goal of hers for years, and while 26.2 miles was going to be tough, I imagine it's even tougher to be forced to quit 1.2 miles from your goal.

In smaller news, my workday was not one I'd describe as gratifying. To put it mildly. To put it more directly, I counted the days left until my severance arrives. More than once.

And then at the end of the day I had to buy dishwasher detergent. Which isn't a big deal, unless one is cranky.

Anyway. I knew I couldn't bring my work attitude home. My family doesn't deserve that. And after being in a downward spiral (and being around others who were spiraling even faster), I was sick of it.

So I called my mom. And I picked up a pizza (already planned, but as it happens the best idea ever). And I made myself a vodka grape juice (which is a thing if that's the only mixer you have on hand). Strapped baby into the booster and gave her bits of cheese from my pizza.

She bounced up and down with each bite and made a yummy sound. I laughed at her. Nick laughed at her. And she pretended to get the joke, so we were all laughing together. And I forgot what I ever did for entertainment before I had a baby. And then she took a bath and I vacuumed and then smelled her clean baby hair. This is why I do it. This is why the world goes on. This is why people set goals. Not just because of babies. Because there's good things in the world. Because the small, simple moments can be the best. And because if there wasn't bitter, there wouldn't be sweet.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Through My Daughter's Eyes

I was invited to a wedding where the mother of the bride sang a song she wrote for her daughter with the title above. Not being much of a singer, here's my attempt to capture life through my daughter's eyes. 

In your eyes, the moments between when you wake up and when we get you must be the saddest of your day - you haven't seen your parents in about 10 hours, your diaper is full, you're hungry, and you're in a cage. Hopefully that sadness is balanced by the moments when you are snuggled on our chests sleeping - you were under the weather this weekend, so there were many warm baby cuddles. You sacked out on top of me, I covered you with a blanket, and we slept - or you slept and I read or watched TV. Lovely moments for all.

In your eyes, having a full diaper is usually better than having it changed. But a diaper change does mean being cold and wet, being on your back, and being totally out of control. I'll never understand the allure of a poopy diaper, but I can see why you wouldn't like the change.

In your eyes, a bucket is amazing. It's a hat, it can hold toys, it can be upside-down or right-side up. It echoes when you stick your face in it and talk. You can bang on it and make noise, or you can bang it up and down to make a different noise. You love toys that you can pound or pound on - including utensils, blocks, books, whatever. It would be great if we could all take such pleasure in simple toys and manipulating objects. Your smile every time you get the exact same result is my miracle.

In your eyes, clothes are just objects that hang off you. Your hair (which is getting thicker) doesn't cause angst. Baths are fun (but Mommy's showers are torture). Your pants are getting too short -another reason I wish it was summer - but you don't care. Socks and hats are the best, because you can take them off. We could all learn to be less self-conscious and distracted by the material.

You're an amazing baby, Hailey. I love when you discover things (today you played with the light switch and watched the light go on and off for a long time). I love your snuggly body. I love you. And I love seeing the world through your eyes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

LMG: Baby Food

So there's a huge industry making baby food. And another industry selling items to make and store "healthier" baby food (steamers, processors, fancy ice cube trays for storage, etc.). I'm here to tell you that babies need none of these things (or at least not very much). Here's a short list of what a baby can eat that you can make in seconds. 
  • Steam in the bag veggies
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ripe bananas
  • Tiny pieces of bread
  • Baked or mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes)
  • Avocados
  • When the baby gets a few teeth: sliced cheese, small veggies like peas, tortillas, cheerios, noodles, eggs, small pieces of basically whatever you're eating
See? Save yourself some money and hassle. I bought one box of rice cereal, and I've bought I think two small containers of baby food for travel. There's so much false hysteria in the baby industry - that doesn't mean you have to buy into it. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

LMG: Candles

Another in a series to help you look like a super-mom without doing all the work ...

When hosting any type of gathering, use candles to disguise the fact that you didn't have time (or, let's be honest, desire) to scour everything. 
  • Candles can mask odors (especially in the bathroom). 
  • Candlelight provides great ambiance, and dim lighting in general hides dust and dirty corners. 
  • Bordering the gathering area with candles sends a subtle message: Stay in this area (this is where I cleaned!). 
  • A candle grouping makes a great centerpiece/talking point/distraction. Just be sure that a large candle grouping includes unscented candles so the smell doesn't overpower the party. 
  • Candles in a glass vase (or cute juice cup or even empty jelly jar) will reflect off the shiny glass, which lets others believe that all your glass is that clean. 
Candles are cheap. You can put them nearly anywhere. They look great with greens (from the yard or a houseplant), or you can put them in a glass container with a little salt for an elegant look at a low price. Keep some on hand now. Stock up when they're on sale. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

LMG: Every Other Night

Another tip from my future book, The Lazy Mom's Guide to Half-Assing It.

Cook lots of food. Way more than your family can possibly eat in one night (I realize this is probably easier with smaller families). Then you can have leftovers, and you'll only need to cook every other day.

Don't like leftovers? While some things are fine to serve again as they are, sometimes you may need to turn your leftovers into "new food." Here's a short list of foods that can easily be made with leftovers.

  • Soup: Shred or cube meat and/or veggies. Simmer with some broth or stock, or put it in the slow cooker. BAM! New food. Crusty bread really takes this to the next level. 
  • Pasta dishes: Again, cube meats or veggies. Toss with a jar of sauce and some noodles. To really fool 'em, top with cheese and heat through. 
  • Quesadillas/nachos: Cheese, tortillas or chips, and leftovers. That's it. You could also make burritos using basically the same principles. 
  • Loaded potatoes: Bake some taters (in the microwave for even more speediness) and top with leftovers. Use big potatoes and put a veggie on the side to make these a whole meal. 
See how easy this is? Now you can cook every other night!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm Facing a Layoff

I've posted about work before, but now there have been some significant changes in my situation. So, to catch up:

  • I went back to my job after my maternity leave (August 1). But the commute was getting ridiculous, so I remained on the lookout for a new job.
  • I found a new job with, which I started February 4. 
  • On March 6, I was told that I'll be laid off effective May 10. DealChicken is restructuring, and nearly everyone in my position was let go (plus the person who hired me, and a number of other people). 
So I'm back on the hunt for a new job. I have some applications in, and I've made a few follow-up calls, but so far no hits. I have nearly six weeks before my job ends, but since I'm not spontaneous I'm looking at my options. 

Work full time
  • Pros: Will likely replace my full pay and benefits
  • Cons: 40 hours per week gone (obviously this is something I'm used to now, but it's a con nonetheless - there's a reason they pay you to work!), I don't actually have a job. 
Work part time
  • Pros: Steady income, free time to be an earth mother or freelance or catch up on Netflix
  • Cons: Likely an income hit, I don't have a part-time job lined up, no benefits
  • Pros: Total flexibility, potential income
  • Cons: Lack of security (this is huge for me), no benefits, I will have to hustle and do business-y stuff I'm not necessarily good at/motivated to do
Live off my severance/unemployment
  • Pros: Unlimited free time
  • Cons: This is a finite amount of money, and what exactly would I do all day? Also, if I give up my daycare spot there will be an added barrier if I go back to work, no benefits
Any thoughts/suggestions? Anyone been here before? Right now I'm leaning toward collecting unemployment and extending that by doing freelance work, possibly taking temp jobs, selling plasma and etc. But if the right job comes along and will take me, obviously I'll go that route. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Make Quick Cash

Note: I am not affiliated with Delve in any way besides what I've outlined below. I am not being compensated for this post, it's merely useful information I feel compelled to share. 

A few months ago (last year sometime) I signed up with Delve Research, thinking nothing would ever come of it. I figured I'd fill out a survey and promptly forget about it. I don't live in a large city, I'm not a noted expert in any field, and there's nothing in my demographic that set me apart from millions of other people.

But today I got a call about my third focus group opportunity. My first one took an hour and paid $100. My second one took two hours and paid $75 (and I got supper and one to go for Nick). I'm told this one will take about half an hour and pay $35 (this one is via phone). I'm pretty sure that's about the most money I can make legally ... and it's incredibly easy to share my opinion.

Here's a link: I don't know if there's a way to get referrals, but if there's an opportunity and you feel like mentioning I sent you there, go ahead. Otherwise, sign up. Maybe nothing will ever come of it ... or maybe you'll make some quick, easy cash.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Lazy Mom's Guide to Half-Assing It

Part one of a series of tips designed to help moms (or anyone, really) look pulled together while doing the least work possible. 

Don't make cookies. Each one has to be dropped and formed, and most likely they end up odd-sized and/or touching. Make bars - use the exact same batter and press it into a greased pan. It will probably take a few minutes longer to bake, but you're not actually doing anything during the bake time. You still get a tasty, gooey dessert with much less work!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Books: The Round House

The Round House
By Louise Erdrich

The Round House is the story of Joe, a 13-year-old boy living on and Indian reservation in North Dakota (shout out to my home state). His father is a judge and his mother works for the tribe doing tribal enrollment. Ealy In the summer, Joe's mom is brutally raped and attacked. Because tribal law and white and the land around it and the entire system is unnecessarily complicated, there's no real investigation besides the one done by Joe and his father (Mom is rendered helpless by the attacks).

Other main characters include Joe's friends and his extended family (two sets of aunts/uncles and a grandfather). The characters are well-drawn, and life on the Rez is realistically colorful. Joe is a breath of fresh air in that he's not one of these precocious kids usually in books - he thinks and talks and acts like a teenage boy (or at least how I remember teenage boys). The story starts out compelling, but I thought the end wrapped up a bit too neatly - lots of seemingly loose ends. I do agree that the laws in reservations in ND a messy and often things happen without a thorough investigation, but there was too much not followed through.

Does it pass the Bechdel test? No. There are several named female characters, but none of them speak to each other as part of the story (some implied dialog, but it all happens offscreen).

Would I recommend it? Yes. Although I wasn't fond of the end, the story overall was compelling and thought-provoking. I always like Erdrich.