Friday, July 29, 2011

Identity Crisis

As I've mentioned on here before, I'm pretty young. I guess I've been a bit of an early bloomer. I met my husband just a couple of months after I turned eighteen...and we were engaged 5 months later. Despite taking the appropriate precautions, a year later, we found out I was pregnant right after I finished a very successful first year of college. Four months after our daughter was born we got married. I was twenty.

I've always felt a strong need to know who I am, and I've seemed to always pin the repsonsibility of definition on someone or something else. It might be strongly identifying with a particular political group or ethnicity, it might be based off of who I was hanging out with (more in high school) or what sort of parenting technique I tried to adopt and then throw myself into, complete with extremely rigid rules (Lizzie cannot cry ever at night time!). I would tell myself I'm a mother, so I must be a certain way. I would tell myself I am a wife, so I must be a certain way. I am a young, so I must be a certain way.

I realize that I am really young. But because most adults I know who are in the same place I am, at least in terms of settling down and having a family, I feel like I need to be where they are (even though, maturity-wise, that may be impossible). There is an air of confidence and security in who they have become that I do not have yet. (And worry that I never will.) They have had many more years than I have had to craft who they are and who they want to be before having a family. I didn't get a chance to build. There are many benefits, in my opinion, to having children early in life, but one of the biggest disadvantages is that you weren't given much to time to decide who you are without children in your life.

Some days feel like a battle where I am fighting to find out who I am or to feel secure with the person I've become. I feel a little lost on these days, which seem to come more and more frequently lately as I struggle to find a job for the fall. (A job. Another thing I feel I must use to define who I am.)

I know that after some time, more time to mature, who I am with emerge more clearly. I know, at my core, what I stand for, what I believe, who I love, what I don't love--I just don't know what sort of person this will form in the long run. Some days twenty-three seems very old, far too old to not yet really know who I've grown up to be. But I know that's unfair.

I just wish I felt that way, too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Should I Feel Bad?

Here's my answer for a prompt from Mama Kat:
Amy Winehouse died. Another name amidst a growing list of talented celebrities lost to addiction. Your reaction.
Yeah, that sucks.

But do you know what else sucks?

At least 76 people, many children, were slaughtered in Norway the day before Amy Winehouse was found dead.

To date, more than 7,000 men and women from all over the world have died fighting in Afgahnistan and Iraq.

In America, our government can't get a thing done. Supposedly some sort of financial apocolypse will occur next week if we don't get our crap in order.

In England, a man who owns more media outlets than I do pairs of underwear is being questioned about gross abuse of power, including tapping the phones of private citizens to get a better news story.

All over the world incredible amounts of hardship are being dealt to people who simply can't take any more.

And yet, here we are, talking about a young woman who died from a drug overdose. Yes, it's very sad and I completely agree it's an incredibly huge waste of musical talent. But people fight addiction every day. Some succeed, some don't, but because they weren't famous, we don't hear about them and their ups and downs any more than we hear about the other things I mentioned above. And I don't mean the casual news report, because, chances are, you know about all the things I mentioned above. I mean looking at and examining every inch of those issues, doing real reporting, not just glossy two minute bits. I know Amy Winehouse's life and addiction with be examined with great thoroughness. The E! channel, TLC, Discovery, and maybe one or two of the cable news channels will do about a dozen different shows about her life or related to her addictions.

It's frustrating to me that her life will go so thoroughly examined, yet things that actually matter in real life, that will affect me and you, are going to be left largely ignored. I will have a more comprehensive view of Amy Winehouse's relationship with her pets than I do about how our own economy is going to look this time next week.

And that is my reaction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grocery Bag Snobbery

I'm obsessed with those plastic-y reusable grocery bags that everyone seems to have now for toting their groceries around in lieu of the very disposable and environmentally un-friendly bags the store provides. I bring my own large collection (really too many for any amount of groceries I usually buy) every time I shop, a little gargantuan sense of pride and maybe a little bit of snobbery, my nose up-turned at those who are still shlepping those flimsy and oh-so harmful plastic bags you get if you don't bring your own bags.

But, really, I'm a huge poser. We don't recycle (I'm to lazy to find out what we're supposed to do with our recyclables in this town). I used to have a compost bin, but it was a miserable failure (I'd like to try again, though). And we suck at turning off lights and conserving anything. Those damn reusable bags are the only things that are keeping Captain Planet coming down on my litter bug butt.

What's more, one of my major motivators for buying these bags is that they're adorable. Our grocery store chain sells a huge variety of the bags in all sorts colors, patterns and with lots of cute little illustrations. One of my favorites has a recipe for pie on it. It's awesome.

So, yeah, big poser. Hipster level posing, for sure. Yet, I still feel really great when I leave the grocery store with my from-home bags filled with food. Maybe it's my still somewhat self-absorbed 23-year-old brain that's obsessed with my "image", and these bags somehow contribute to that. Maybe it's the cutesy homey-ness of colorful bags filled with all sorts of tastey things. It's probably a combonation of the two.

I have to wonder to myself--should I go the next step and start a real recycling project in our home? Should I resurect the compost bin? Should I maybe finally go downstairs and turn off the den light that's been on for about a week (yeah, I really should, if only for our electric bill)? I do believe in the idea that we are meant to be caretakers for the earth, but I'm not, at best, a consistent caretaker of my home, I don't know how I'm going to take care of the earth, too.

Well, I've got my grocery bags for now. Maybe the next step is right around the corner.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top Ten: Books I Cannot WAIT to Read with Lizzie

I was a reader out of the womb. I love reading (and not just books, but articles, blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc.) with a passion that I think is largely due to the fact that both my parents read to me every night from an early age. They instilled in me a quiet passion for the written word that I could not have gotten anywhere else. This is something I want to give to Lizzie. In my opinion, it is the greatest thing I could give her.

We read every night (one or two books) and we frequent the library to constantly restock our reading materials, all of which are things I enjoy, but I'm going to admit to looking forward to a few years from now when I can break out some of my fave books from my childhood (or from right now). So, here are my top ten books I can't wait to read with the Liz.

1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - I know this is a childhood given, but it is one of my all time favorite books and I think every parent should read it with his child. (Ages: 4/5-8)

2. Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field - This, in my mind, is one of the ultimate little girl books out there. It follows the life of a little doll made for a little girl who lived in the wilderness of Maine (woot, Maine shout out), and the doll, Hitty, has many adventures there after, including, but not limited to, being swallowed by a whale and has her portrait painted. (Ages: 7-12)

3. The Witches, The BFG, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach all by Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl made my childhood. I slurped up his quirky books with sheer delight and they were my first introduction to fantasy novels. These books, and others by Dahl, are just more examples of literature every kid should have exposure to. (Ages: 8-10)

4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - These books are the gateway drugs to wonderfully good fantasy. They are enchanting, well-meaning, solid books that read like fairy tales, but present such challenging subjects. They are also so much fun to read aloud! (And you MUST read them in the original order as seen in the picture.) (Ages: 7-12/13)

5. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Every little girl needs to read these books. While the message can seem a little overly wholesome and outdated to a jaded reader (like I can be sometimes), they are really the perfect message for a young child. And the stories are so well written and cute. I remember being fascinated by the Christmas stories the most--somehow getting a pair of homemade mittens, a piece of candy, and a your own tin cup seemed just as great as getting those five new Barbies, Easy Bake Oven, and stocking full of treats. (Ages: 6-12)
6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - If you've only seen the film (which is quite good), you're doing yourself an injustice, never mind not reading it to your kiddo. While I would wait to read this with Liz, I hope that we'll be reading together for quite a while. It's such a fun story with so many strange twists and turns it's the perfect book to share with someone. (Ages: 10-Teen)

7. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter (as seen in this post) shaped my childhood in many ways. I plan on reading a Harry Potter book to Lizzie once a year (maybe twice, depending on her level of enthusiasm) and I simply cannot wait. These stories are absolutely timeless, filled with magic, real and figurative, and I truly believe that Harry will become a key figure in the children's literature cannon, right along side Charlotte and Wilbur, James (and the Giant Peach), and Laura Ingalls. (Ages: 8-Teen)

8. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle - Another childhood classic that insites imagination and thinking about the world (and universe) in a wider way. I can imagine the sorts of conversations a parent can have with her kids after reading this book. It offers a safe way to approach different issues in philosophy and brings both your child's and your own thinking to such a high level, which gets your kiddo's brain cranking, making it stronger and prepping it for future endeavors in and out of the classroom. I know it sounds ridiculous to claim that reading a simple book and then talking about it could do much for your kid's cognitive skills, but it's so true. (Ages: 10-Teen)

9. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien - I don't know if I'll be able to get Lizzie to read with me long enough to get to these, or at least to get to LOTR, but I'd love to read these with her. All of the fantasy books I mentioned previously on this list are just introductions to these books, priming Lizzie's brain to take on the awesomeness that is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, elves, dwarves, wizards, and powerful men. These books are truly epic (in every sense of the word), and I want so badly for Lizzie to enjoy them as much as I did. However, I do get (as I do with all these books) that she might not be as into them as I was. I can dream, right? (Ages: 12 and up)

10. There isn't a specific book to list here. The top thing I am looking forward to reading with Lizzie as she gets older is whatever it is she is excited about reading. As I mentioned with #9, I know she may not be as excited about these books as I was/am. We may never get to any of these books. But I know we'll read, and read lots, and I can't wait to see what she picks, what new books and authors she introduces me to, who her Harry Potter is. I am so excited for the adventures we'll go on together with each new book Lizzie finds. (Ages: Timeless)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sooo Cool!!

So, I am pleased to announce that I am typing this post straight brand new iPad! I have basically been dying for one of these since they came out last year (and even more so since my mom got one for her birthday). I am a ginormous Apple fan, but the laptops run a wee bit too high for my price range, at least for right now. So, I figured if I was going to indulge and still have some cash left over, this was the way to go.

Okay, so here are the pros and cons so far:

It's super easy to use. Basically, if you can flip a light switch, you can run an iPad.

There are tons of awesome apps and a variety of different things you can do or have you iPad become (T.V., personal planner, child's entertainment system, e-reader, iPod, and the list goes on).

It's totally addictive and just plain fun to use.

It's a device that makes going paperless in many aspects of your life super easy.

There are some small limiting issues, like the inability to access websites that use flash.

Frankly, Blogger kinda sucks on here, because I can't mess around with text editing or insert pictures. Wordpress is better formatted for iPad both in viewing and in blogging. Blogger better get on board soon, or might make the switch...

Because the iPad is more for the consumption of information versus the creation of new material, some features are limiting. It's not as if I'm this top notch web designer or something (not even remotely close), BUT the option is always nice.

Overall, the iPad works for most of the things I do on my laptop, so this works for me and I'm really happy to have it!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Three Things I Learned Tonight

  1. Cotton cloths are GREAT for removing nail polish.
  2. Pepto Bismol Pink is a craptaculous nail polish color. Will NOT be using it again (it was Wet 'n' Wild - what was I to expect?).
  3. I'm adorable.
P.S. I promise I don't have a 12-year-old sister who posed for these photos. I really do look like a pre-pubescent child.

P.P.S. DOH thinks I'm trolling for some "tail" (his word, not mine...and I think he's joking) what with all the picture taking, so if you want to throw some fake pick-up lines or numbers, go for it. Hehe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Hockey Game


My ears stung with the heavily accented screaming just behind my head. My boyfriend had decided it would be super great to take me to a hockey game in Lewiston, Maine, when Lewiston, Maine still boasted a hockey team, the Maineiacs.

However, the Maineiacs were really a Quebec junior league hockey team in disguise. Which means lots of French Canadian groupies who only knew one word of English:

"BITCHES!" (Pronounced: BEE-chez)

Amidst the fits of screaming and smattering of what could only be "BITCHES!" in French, my boyfriend and I (coincidentally, boyfriend turned int DOH a couple of years later), started to wonder a few things, like, "Why are we the only Americans sitting over here?" and "Who are these bitches? Is it the other team? Is it the us? Who?"

Eventually we gave up questioning what was going on and realized that it was futile to resist and was best to assimilate. When the opportunity next arose, we joined them in a hearty, "BITCHES!" French accent and all.

A response to a Mama Kat writing prompt.

P.S. Apologies for the gratuitous use of the word "BITCHES!" (Sorry, had to get it in there one more time, hehe.)

Remember This

At an age when many little girls like to imagine themselves as princesses and fairies, glamorous movie stars or are emulating the Barbie du jour, my little girl is something different.

"Good night, my princess," I said to her tonight as I put her to bed.

"No, I don't want to be a princess," she told me.

"Well, what do you want to be then?" I asked.

"I want to be Lizzie. Just Elizabeth."

My darling little girl, please remember, years from now, please remember that even as a little girl you knew that being "Just Elizabeth" was better than anything else you could imagine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Feeding a Kid

I made an observation this morning about Lizzie's eating habits--one I hadn't noticed before (though probably should have). She is very much a grazer, meaning she has lots of little snacks throughout the day rather than just eating a few larger meals with maybe a snack or two in between (which is how I've always eaten...and that hasn't gotten me very far).

I had heard somewhere (T.V., magazine, random person, can't remember) that "grazing" is better for you in terms of regulating calorie intake than having just a few large meals. Whether or not this is true, I'm kind of thinking that if this is how my kid eats, I'm not going to mess with it too much, because I realized this morning it gives me way more control over what she puts into her mouth.

Obviously, since she's three, I do have absolute authority over what I serve her at meal times, but she has the absolute authority (in my opinion) over what she chooses to actually eat. If I serve a meal with a veggie, starch, and protien and she eats all of the starch, some of the veggie, and none of the protien, then there is only so much I can do. I'm not going to force her to eat something.

However, during the day, when we're not eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Lizzie snacks a lot. And it's not Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs. It's fruits and veggies and some starches, and I also try to throw in protiens where I can.

I've realized that when Lizzie asks for a snack (and she much prefers snacks to eating an actual meal), I'm frequently left to make the decision on what she'll eat (meaning, she doesn't request anything, though, of course if she does, I can veto). Sometimes I give her choices between two relatively healthy things. Sometimes I just grab something out of the cupboard or fridge and hand it to her, but regardless of what I do, she generally accepts whatever I have and eats it. And while I worried for a while that she was eating too much, I realized that 1) She's eating, by and large, pretty healthful things, and 2) that while she snacks a lot, it's not as if she's eating full blown meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

So far, this whole grazing thing has been pretty willy-nilly, mostly because I didn't really consciously realize what was going on. Now that I'm more in tune (and like I said, I should have been more in tune from the start), I can feed her more purposely throughout the day.

If she continues to graze, it's pretty much a guarantee she won't eat much at lunch and dinner. What I need to do is make sure her series of "snacks" throughout the day are well balanced. It won't matter if I serve well-balanced meals for her if she won't eat them. Also, while she already has very small meals at the typical meal times, I think making them more snack-like will work better. If I'm already feeding her balanced snacks throughout the day, then when dinner comes along (the meal she's notorious for simply not eating), it will be less imperative for her to have a perfectly proportioned meal on her plate. I could use dinner time to make up for whatever I missed during the day.

Now, I realize there are some flaws to this plan. In our culture, this whole snacking throughout the day lifestyle is not exactly embraced (heck, it's not even really embraced in this household). If this is how we consistently feed Lizzie, it's going to be difficult for her to transition into school (maybe), where the day is structured around one snack in the morning and then a big lunch. Maybe it won't even be an issue, but it's something to think about. The other thing is the convenience factor. Is this going to be easy to do, because with me, if it's not quick, convenient, and easy, chances are it's probably not going to happen. I have to find a way to get myself more organized in this regard (this may involve buying some tupperware...).

Feeding my child well is very important to me. I have battled weight issues for most of my life and I would rather not see Lizzie struggle the way I did. I want her to love all foods, not just the sweets and starches, and I want her to have a good concept of portions and to know when to stop eating (all things I struggle with). Hopefully this will help us get on that track.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Pioneer Project

If you've ever read The Little House in the Big Woods, you might remember this little saying from Ma about the weekly chores: "Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday, Bake on Friday, Clean on Saturday, Rest on Sunday." There is something sweet and comforting to this litany of household chores--with all the unexpected that could happen in the time when little Laura Ingalls was growing up, there was at least this daily consistancy that was always present, grounding the family into the rhythm of life.

And while the some of the dangers that plauged Laura and her family do not affect us, or at least not as much, there is still a world out there that can, at times, feel overwhelming and throw things at us and our families that we did not quite expect.

Along those same lines, with an economy turning upside down, wars being fought overseas, and cultural wholesomeness starting to disappear (and I do not mean "wholesome" in any religious way, just there is far too much objectifying going on regarding everything), we parents are becoming pioneers (rather like the Ingalls) in our own right. We are fighting to keep consistancy and values (whatever those values) strong within our families.

So this is what I want to do. I'm going to start a project. Who knows how successful I'll be, how this will evolve (or devolve), but I feel like I need to do something to create a higher, more organized purpose to my days. It is as basic as making sure I get the toilets cleaned every day to working towards becoming a stronger and better wife and mother.

This project (as maybe you've guessed from the title of this post) is called the Pioneer Project, keeping the idea of those strong people who left everything they knew behind and ventured West to create better lives for themselves, despite the immense danger to themselves and their families.

For me, there are two components: First, I'm going to remake the saying from Ma Ingalls above to fit my own life (thankfully I don't have to dedicate a full day to ironing). goes:
Organize on Monday (get everything for the week organized) Scrub on Tuesday (bathrooms, kitchen, floors), Sew on Wednesday (make a consistent effort to sew), Wash on Thursday (bedding, curtains (if needed), excess laundry, etc.), Bake on Friday (make something tastey for the weekened), Clean on Saturday (dust, clean floors, anything else that hasn't gotten done over the course of the week, etc.), Rest on Sunday.

The next aspect goes beyond a simple outline of weekly chores, but focuses on things in my family's life in a deeper sense. This is what I will be focusing on:

Cooking/Baking - Try to cook at least one meal/item a week where you know where all the ingredients you’re using are coming from (preferrably local).

Homesteading - Do something to improve your home or yard at least once week. It can be as simple as mowing the lawn or finally getting at that dust under the couch or be as big as planting a vegetable garden or painting a new room.

Technology – Try to limit certain technologies (T.V., computer/internet, phone stuff, etc.) to just an hour or two a day. If this is too much (and it could very well be), try to pick just one thing to focus on limiting (for me, it would be my laptop).
Health - Exercise, in some way, every day. It doesn't have to be a full-blown Biggest Loser workout, but it should be something, everyday. And don't forget about mental health, too. Consider what grounds you and makes you feel happy or at peace with your life.

Spirituality - Take the time to reflect on things bigger than yourself. Go to a place of worship. Meditate. Talk to someone about the biggest questions in life. Go beyond yourself and your little piece of the world and think globally.

Family - Every day, find a small way to recognize your family and everything they do for you. This may seem small, but it adds up.

Reading - I'm a reader, so I'm inclined to include it with whatever it is I'm doing. I'm planning on going back through the Little House books over a period of time, and maybe venturing into some more adult pioneer centric reading. I also think reading anything that has to do with the above subject areas (family, spirituality, going tech free, health, homesteading, and cooking/baking) applies, too.

So, this is my plan. It's just for me--I'm not trying to start anything en masse on the internet, BUT if you find yourself inclined to do your own version, please let me know! Leave a comment, maybe even blog about it. I'm going to have a tab (at some point) that documents what I've been doing. I'm going to try to check in on the blog once a month (maybe more frequently if things roll along nicely) and share what I've done.

All right, let's load up the wagon and go! Westward, ho!

Beach Babe

Friday, July 15, 2011

We Love You Harry Potter

When I was ten years old, my grandmother and aunt took me to a bookstore. My family always encouraged my voracious reading, and I frequently manipulated that encouragement into free books. As we walked up and down the ailse of a Borders, we came to a pile of Harry Potter books on display. At this point, only the first two had come out, but were already beginning to gain traction in popular culture. A few of my friends had read and praised the books, but I had not interest in reading them. Not because I didn't think I'd like them (I'd always loved fantasy), but because I didn't like to read things just because "everyone else is doing it." (Which is exactly what my aunt and grandmother said to me.)

They forced me to get the books. My aunt had said. (Coincidentally, it was my father--the son and brother to my grandma and aunt--who "forced" me to read The Hobbit, one of my all-time favorite books).

Not to be one to let books go to waste, even if I didn't want to read them, I decided to give this Potter guy a try.

I devoured those books in two days.

When the third book was due to be released not too long after, I pre-ordered it through Amazon.

I coveted the moment the local library recieved an early shipment of the the fourth book and book to sneak a peak early (Mrs. Jackson was the best librarian ever).

One of my best friends in high school got a copy of the fifth book before me and I had her read the first couple of chapters to me over the phone.

The sixth book nearly got me fired from my summer job because I wouldn't stop reading it.

The seventh book was the only thing that kept my mother from killing her 19-year-old college student who came home for the weekend to tell her she was pregnant.

In between all these book releases, there were the movies, too. And for all my complaints about the movies (a lover of a book will always, I think, have a hard time watching the film version), I loved those as well.

And throughout all of this, I've been listening to the books on tape every night as I fall asleep, even after I moved in with my husband (much to his chagrin).

For over half my life, Harry Potter and his friends and his world have been a part of my life and I have made them a part of my world. I have revisted the books through reading, listening, and watching hundreds and hundreds of times. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine have been there for me through thick and thin, have grown up with me (truly), and have provided endless entertainment in reading and playing.

I went to the midnight showing of the last movie last night (loved it!) and could not find a better way to describe my feelings than as a friend of mine (the one who read the opening chapters of the fifth book to me over the phone) put it: "I laughed. I cried. And now it's over. And I could say, so is my childhood. But personally, I plan on remaining a bit of a child forever. Which of course means that when I have kids someday I get to re-live the whole thing with just as much enthusiasm :-)"

These are my sentiments almost to a tee, other than I already have a kiddo running around, but I am already so looking forward to when she's old enough (8? 9?) for me to beginning reading the books to her, and experiencing Harry's world once more though her eyes.

Thank you, Harry, for everything you've done for me.

Something Stinks

Lizzie farts...a lot. Sometimes it's by accident (which is fine). Sometimes, like today, she stood in front of me and forced a little toot out of her butt and laughed...really hard.

"Someone farted!" she yells. "Ooh! That stink!" And she laughs and laughs and laughs.

It's really hard to not laugh right along with her, but all I can picture, as I'm chuckling along, is Lizzie going to preschool and letting a big one rip all the time. I don't know if this is something we want to encourage...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Party Time, It's Sofa Time!

The sofa FINALLY came today! I'm so, so happy! I was getting pretty tired of sitting in the super uncomfy rocker/glider and now I have a whole sofa to stretch out on. Plus, our families are pleased that there is finally a place for them to crash when they come over and stay late, since the sofa is a pull-out.

Here are some pics:
Here it is, with our FREE throw pillows that we got with the sofa.

Lizzie's pretty pumped about it. We've already used it as a car to driver her to school.

Lizzie pretending to be asleep as the sofa is pulled out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Swim, Girl, Swim!

Lizzie started taking swim lessons last week and will all through July. She's really enjoying herself and doing such a great job! So far, she's started floating on her back and front with some help, will dunk under the water, and has started kicking her legs using a kick board. We're so proud!

Here are some pictures from today's swim lesson:

Lizzie diving for a ring.

Lizzie dipping her ear in the water through the ring.

Yay! She got it!

Go through the hoop!

Going through the hoop again!

T.V. is Bad for You

Okay, so I'm going to cheat a little bit in this writing prompt from Mama Kat. Some of these shows (okay, most of these shows) are probably still on the air, but I don't think I've watched enough T.V. in my life (or I'm too young) for there to be a lot of shows out there that have come and gone and are really bad. But anywho, here are my top ten shows that should be showed the door (or have been, and shouldn't be let back in).

  1. Mad TV. This show is...lame. It's a wanna-be Saturday Night Live (and I love me some SNL), but it's not funny. The jokes are juvenile, the comedians who are on the show are second rate,'s just dumb. And Stuart? Give me a break...
  2. Step by Step. I don't know. There's just something about Suzanne Summers that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the unstoppable perkiness?
  3. Joey. I'm sorry, Friends was great, Joey was an awesome character, but this just didn't work. I was irritated that they tried, nevermind that the show itself was pretty bad.
  4. Gossip Girl. I know this show is still on, but this show is so vapid and shallow and such a poor representation of teen life.
  5. 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom. I feel like these shows should be a PSA for why girls (and I really do mean girls) should not be having children. These chicks are MORONS. But, instead, they've just legitimized getting pregnant at an absurdly young age.
  6. A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and Rock of Love with Brett Michaels, I Love New York, Flavor of Love, etc. These shows GROSSED me out. Any show where you feel you need to be given a stupid nickname to hide your identity should show you that maybe appearing on this "dating" (read: orgy) show isn't the best idea. Also, take note of the picture above--would you risk getting your hair yanked out over this man?
  7. Mama's Family. Okay, so I pretty much wasn't alive for most of the time this show was on, BUT I did catch reruns while I was home sick plenty of times. It was enough to make me go to school puking.
  8. Cavemen. Loved the commercials, thought I'd love the show (really). Lame.
  9. Any vampire show except Buffy and True Blood. Guys, get off the Twilight train.
  10. Passions. This was a wicked bizarre soap opera on NBC with a monkey, witches, and all sorts of sideshow weirdness. Okay. I admit it. I loved it. But it was bad.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Delicious Reading

As you may have noticed on my "Currently Reading" sidebar thingy, I'm indulging in a cookery text by Nigella Lawson (Nigella Kitchen).

I've never actually read a cookbook before, like approached it like it was a novel or something, and I suppose not every cookbook would really lend itself well to such a strategy, but this particular cookbook does.

When I finish the book (which may be a bit, because I've just started The Help and it's totally captivating, so it's taking up a bit of my reading time), I'll do a full review, but for now, I wanted to say something a bit more broadly on the topic of actually reading a cookbook.

If you're interested in really knowing about someone's approach to cooking (like a Nigella Lawson or Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart), then I would argue the best way to figure that out is to read the cookbook. The descriptions of "required" materials, the instructions on how to cook a particular dish, the introduction (if any) to recipes all tell you something about the person who has chosen or crafted the recipes you are trying to follow.

If you're a confident cook, can crack open any cookbook, follow the recipe (or maybe you don't even boher with a recipe), then maybe reading a cookbook wouldn't offer you anything, or perhaps it would offer something different. But for me, a learning cook, it's important for me to know the place these recipes are coming from. For example, you read a Martha recipe, either from a cookbook, magazine article, or off her website, and however "simple" it's supposed to be, it's far, far more complicated. With Nigella Lawson, at least so far, while some recipes might call for unusual or somewhat expensive ingredients, the recipes are simple and straightforward. (However, I still love Martha.) And to go along with those uncomplicated or complicated recipes, you have to look at the context. Is the cook describing a casual, relaxed setting along with a casual, relaxed cooking style? Or is it formal and requires a more complex attention to detail?

Regardless of the celebrity chef you pledge alligence to (if any), or the cooking style you find yourself most drawn to, reading a cookbook can be fun and give you a little insight into the culinary world.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Busy Saturday

DOH and Dad replacing the ginormous bay window upstairs (all of which involved a crazy huge lift, lots of indescriminate sawing, and heavy lifting--which I got to watch).

I baked three dozen muffins, each dozen a different kind (above are chocolate banana muffins, then there were corn blueberry and apple cinnamon).

And guess who slept through the whole thing?

I Need a 12 Step Program

I was up until midnight last night making a young woman fight her husband. I tried to shorten her husband's life so he would die sooner, leaving his wife with his thousands. I genetically engineered their children so they would be more atheletic and charismatic. Seemingly, out of thin air, I gave the family hundreds of thousands in fifty-thousand chunks. I wanted them to be rolling in...simoleans.

I. Love. Sims.

But it's getting out of hand. While I'm not used to having quite this much time free, it seems so stupid (after waking up exhuasted this morning) to be using it all up in front of my laptop. I can also tell I've been using the game too much when I start assessing conversations and social interactions like they do in sims (Did I just loose or gain points in our relationship meter?).

I think it's time to uninstall the game once again and put the CD away, leave it for another time. I've had my fill for now.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Husband Appreciation

An oldie, but a goody...My husband is so cool, isn't he?
I can give DOH a hard time...a lot. And while I don't feel like I ask much of him in terms of housekeeping (basically, "Just pick your crap up," is my request), when I do's not really asking, it's a demand.

Which, in a marriage, isn't necessarily okay. It's a partnership, not a dictatorship. I'm not his overlord (as much as I might try).

However, when I wake up in the morning, long after he's left for work, and I find his clothes at the bottom of the stairs the go up from the basement, I can't help but smile (which might surprise you, since, technically, that's not picking up AND it's a hazard, since, in my morning fog, I could trip and break my neck--just sayin').

You see, DOH is a habitual clothes-dumper. Meaning, he basically walks in the door from work and strips down. Whatever he's worn that day sort of lands in a clump by the coat rack and shoes. The same deal in the morning when changes in the living room (he doesn't do it in our room, since it wakes me up...he is very considerate). He'll simply leave whatever he wore to bed in the middle of the living room.

This has always driven me nuts, since we've always lived in small spaces (small apartments, small house, etc.) and therefore the laundry facility (or pile) was literally about three feet away. When we moved into this house, I explained, "Dude, just throw your crap down the basement stairs, AT LEAST." (Yes, I do frequently refer to my husband as "dude.")

Well, he listened. Actually, he's been listening and doing this since I asked him to make the change. So, this morning, in my morning haze, I decided to recognize his efforts. As I stumbled upstairs I pulled out my cell phone and sent him a text, telling him how much I appreciate what he did. We can't call each other while he's at work, but the text message will be the first thing he sees when he gets back to his phone after work. And, of course, I'll let him know in real life how much I appreciate what he did, but I don't think we can tell our spouses too much how much we appreciate what they do, and my husband, my Dear Old Hubby (DOH), does so much that I am thankful for.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Here's a Tip :-)

Here's a post in answer to one of Mama Kat's writing prompts:

Maine is a land of many bodies of water. We have lots of rivers and lakes and a beautiful coastline to cool off in, but unless you are blessed (and filthy rich), it's unlikely any of these places are your backyard, just waiting for you to jump in. This is why you invest (and I use this word lightly) in a kiddie pool.

It doens't even actually have to be a pool pool. Just look at what we use:
Yep, it's one of those Fisher-Price turtle sandboxes. Sure, we could have picked up a $10 pool at Wal-Mart, but this was free!

All kidding aside, when it's crazy hot out, but you can't must the strength or energy or organization to get yourself, kid(s) in tow, to the beach, the kiddie pool is a cure all. The kids can splash around, you can dip your feet in, and since you probably aren't dragging out the pool at other times of the year (kind of cold in December, you know?), or maybe not even much during the summer, the novelty alone will keep your little one occupied. Throw in some beach or water toys, a freely running hose, and some popsicles and you've got yourself a little water park that beats Water Country (I doubt anyone outside of New England has any idea as to what Water Country is, but you get the idea--at least it wasn't an Aquaboggan reference).

I'd also say a cheapo sprinkler (we got ours for $3 at one of those discount bargain-y store bankruptcy places) and a tarp for a good, old fashioned slip 'n' slide does wonders, too. Who needs a fancy $30 piece of plastic when you can just a tarp that does the same thing for half the price?

Having these few, inexpensive items (kiddie pool, sprinkler, and a plastic tarp) really do make my life easier in the summer. Instead of having to track down towels, a beach blanket, snacks, toys, sunscreen, blah, blah, blah, all I have to do is pull out the turtle, fill it with water, and sit back. What a life.

Some Wordly Advice

Remember, when going water tubing, realize it's not sexy.

It's fun as all get out...but, it's not sexy.

Even if you're extremely toned and fit and nothing really jiggles or moves under it's own volition (not something I've ever experienced), water tubing is still just about the least sexy thing in the whole world you could possibly do.

But damn, it's fun.

Happy summer!

I Can't Wait Anymore!!

About six weeks ago my mom and I went to a furniture store, picked out a wonderful pull-out sofa. When we order said sofa they said, "It will be delivered in 4 to 6 weeks, maybe sooner!"

Well, it's been six weeks. Where's my couch?

You see, I've been passing my time sitting either on the floor (leaving me vunerable to multiple tackles from my 3-year-old) or in the world's most uncomfortable rocker-glider. Sure, there is a wonderfully comfy arm chair that I could be sitting, but that's DOH's chair. (The big baby...*Super whiny voice* "I have scoliosis. I work long 8-12 hour shifts all on my feet. I have physical training. Blah, blah, blah.") I'm really ready for a comfortable piece of furniture to park my kiester while I watch Real Housewives of New Jersey.

I think I may have to call the furniture people today...because I have no patience.

Update: I called the furniture store and was informed that there was a shipment of furniture coming tomorrow, so I should be hearing from them later this week for a delivery time. YIPPEE!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I've covered a lot of different topics in this blog, ranging from books, to the royals, to our new house and, really, the whole new life our family is embarking on. But there is one thing, one person, actually, who I feel I don't quite say enough about--my daughter. So, starting today (which, coincidentally marks her 39 month birthday--not that we're so OCD we're keeping track), I'm going to try to write her a little letter or note each month. Just something short and sweet, partly for me, to remember some of the little things, but mostly for her. I want her to know how loved she truly is.

Dear Lizzie,

This is something I wish I had started doing years ago, when you were first born. In fact, I have written you a few little letters, ones that I've tucked away inside your baby book for you to find someday. But I haven't done anything consistent, nothing that let's me see how much you've grown and changed over the last three years. Of course, there is my memory and photographs, stories that your daddy and I share with each other and our friends and family, but I want there to be something for just you, too.

So, here is your first real letter. Yes, it's on my blog, so others will see it, but know this is just for you, no one else, and, at the moment, this is probably the safest place to keep anything I write you, because goodness knows how much longer this laptop will last and any of the files on it!

Right now, you are the biggest star in my life. You rule the house with a benevolent and fanciful fist. It's not difficult to let you have your way, because you so eager and happy about everything. Just this morning, as we were getting ready for the day, you stood stark naked in our big bathroom mirror and put on the most impressive show. You were an exercise guru of some sort, telling "everyone" (not sure who that was) to do jumping jacks. And you were explaining so percisely just how to do a jumping jack. Put your legs out. Now in. Now JUMP! It was so funny and you were so earnest and sweet about it. It made my morning.

That's a perfect example of how you lead your life right now. You have fun, and you do it like it's your job. Having fun and being three are very important things for you. I love that.

You are also very dramatic. Very recently you told me, "All my life you have been so mean, Mama!" You upset, you see, because I had taken away a Barbie you had used to bludgeon me on the head (for fun, you said, as if that made it all better). I had to keep so hard from laughing hysterically at your over-the-top pouty lips and cry as you told me how mean I had always been to you with such feeling. Your grandma (my mom) told me that I'd better watch out, because if you have that flair for the dramatic now, what can I expect when you're a teenager. I'm thinking you'll have gotten all of that out by then and you'll be a perfect angel by the time you hit twelve (yeah...right).

We are having a really wonderful summer so far, with lots of trips to the lake, rides on your grandpa's boat (my dad), and visits from Grammy and Mike (daddy's grandparents). You even spent a night over at your Aunt Shelly's house (daddy's aunt) and went swimming in her pool AND learned to use the big girl potty. You've been wearing undies ever since and we are so proud of you (and thankful for you aunt!). And while we still have quite a bit of summer left (thank goodness), I'm already a little sad about the Fall, when I'll have to go back to work and you (and I'm more excited about this than sad) will go off to preschool. I've really loved our extra time together and I'm going to soak up ever last moment we have together.

You are my sunshine, little girl.

Toilet Triumph!

As of today, we've gone a full week of Lizzie in underwear only (except at bedtime). This. Is. Awesome! She's using the "big" potty (which I find extremely impressive) and is so proud of herself (and I'm really proud, too!). But the best part of being diaper free? The adorable little girl undies. I know no one is going to see them except for us, but they're just so dang cute! We've stocked up on Tinker Bell and Princess Tiana undies and it's been fun for Lizzie to pick out which pair she wants to wear each morning (it's just about the only thing I'll let her pick at the moment, otherwise she'd perpetually be dressed in a ballet tutu and a sweater).

So, how did this all happen? I have to say, we weren't exactly trying very hard to potty train. Why? Well, honestly, because we're lazy. We knew we'd have to start soon, because Lizzie is heading off to preschool in the Fall (!!!), but we just hadn't gathered up the gumption. We had a small training potty in our bathroom and Lizzie had used it off and on, but wasn't showing any real interest. I was also really worried about what I'd do with her out in public, because I didn't think she'd be able to hold herself up on her own.

Well, last week, she spent the night at DOH's aunt's house and they ran out of diapers. DOH's aunt has deftly raised two children with a no nonsense, but pleasant attitude, and it's a style that worked well in the potty training of Lizzie. She gave her a pair of her daughter's underwear and said, "You need to use the big girl potty so you don't get your cousin's underwear wet. Gotta keep them dry!" And that was it. Lizzie used the big potty and kept the undies dry. And she's been keeping all her underwear dry (for the most part) ever since. I guess it was like a bandaid--we just had to go and do it. She was ready and I guess I wasn't, but now that it's happened, I'm totally on board.
It's all very exciting, but at the same time, it's a definite reminder that Lizzie is fast becoming a kid, and isn't an little baby or even toddler any more. The change is hard, but I think it will be good.
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