Archives for November 2010

Flip Side – Getting Festive Style

The dog is going to take my Christmas spirit and rip it into tiny shreds with his pointy little dog teeth.


Because this is my (fake) Christmas tree. Do you know where my Christmas tree is? It’s in the kids’ playroom – a room I don’t usually hang out in because I’m almost certain to slice my foot open on a sharp Barbie hand (Or her shoes – that girl’s got some pointy shoes).

On Facebook the other day, someone told me what to do if a dog happened to eat a glass ornament. And frankly, I just really didn’t want to deal with it (also, ew). The playroom, however, is off limits to the dog and minimizes the chances that I may have to force feed the dog cotton balls (You don’t want to know).

But it’s sad, right?

The tree should be where everyone can see it and enjoy it – where, as Christmas nears, you can tuck presents beneath it and feel the anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

But it’s not so festive when you’re worried about your dog eating the ornaments, or knocking over the tree, or chewing up Christmas presents.

So we’ve tucked it away.

It’s sad.

If you look behind me in this picture, you can see the chaos of the playroom. You’ll see my Michigan tee (this was Saturday. What a sad day).

And of course, there’s me, tucked away in a little ornament.

Black Friday Is Where You Pretend To Start Christmas Shopping

(And instead go buy stuff for yourself)

I do Black Friday.

I did Black Friday.

And I somehow survived Black Friday despite a sinus infection and a course of antibiotics that has left me queasy and with the taste of pennies in my mouth (don’t ask me if it’s working yet, because so far I am keeping the folks at Kleenex in business and have been on a mad hunt for cherry Lifesavers since my doc said that it would help the penny taste).

After a day spent with family on Thanksgiving (primarily curled up on the couch, trying to not be that one family member that falls asleep – I know my family – that person’s picture always ends up pictured on Facebook – drooling on their pillow), I was not quite geared up to wake up at the gruesome six o’clock hour. To shop.

(I didn’t wake up. I overslept. Got ready in five minutes. Like a boss.)

Hit Starbucks for a venti with an extra shot and was good to go.

Sort of.

Okay. I was along for the ride.

See, the thing is… I never really need anything when I go shopping for Black Friday. There is almost never anything I need quite so badly that I’m going to be upset if I’ve missed the deal. Frankly, I’ve been doing Christmas shopping for over a month, so I was kind of winging it.

Shopping with my mother is an interesting experience anyway – and toss feeling like road kill into the mix, and it was a morning of slow-going. At one point, I wandered into the shoe section of a department store just so I could sit down and stare blankly for five minutes amidst hordes of people trying to get a deal on ugly footwear.

I promise I wasn’t a scrooge all day.

I really wasn’t.

Especially once I wandered into Old Navy and found something I wanted for myself. And then bought four of them. What? That’s half the fun of Black Friday, right? STIMULATING THE ECONOMY, one five dollar camisole at a time. It was Old Navy that I ran into my sister-in-law. She and her mother had been shopping since FOUR IN THE MORNING. I’m just not quite that dedicated.

I did end up picking up some gifts for the kids – easy because there seems to be nothing they don’t want (Pumpkin asked for an iPad – but if mama doesn’t have one, the kids sure won’t).

Today? I’m so exhausted and confused about what day of the week it is and thinking of things that I might have bought yesterday but didn’t (uh, hello slippers to replace the ones the dog ate). I’m on a mission to be done Christmas shopping by mid-month – I didn’t put too much of a dent in to the process yesterday, so, we’ll see.

Thursday Ten: I’m Thankful Edition

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m doing things a little bit differently today (I mean, an intro? There’s NEVER an intro on Thursday Ten. Your mind? Blown. Right?). Though sometimes I get a little fidgety that we need a holiday to remind us to have gratitude for the things that are good in our lives, I’m going to embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving and list ten things I am thankful for. Mind you, these are not THE ONLY ten things I am thankful for. These are not in order of importance, necessarily. Hit me in the comments and tell me what you’re thankful for (or if you’re opposed to forced gratitude, tell me what you’re having for dessert today or what you’re buying me when you’re Black Friday shopping).

I am thankful for…

1. Reality television. From the good stuff (Project Runway) to the ‘hmmm’ stuff (SisterWives), I kind of like to turn my brain off occasionally (FINE. REGULARLY) and chill to something silly on television. I’m glad there are people willing to make asses of themselves for my entertainment.

2. iTunes. Music at my fingertips? Yes, please. Along those lines, I’ll add YouTube to the mix -because almost every time, I can listen to a song in its entirety before buying it. Music makes my world go ’round.

3. Health insurance. In a time where many people are struggling because insurance companies are making cut backs and being rotten, I’ve been lucky to have good insurance. Good insurance has made it possible to get stepson the help he needs to work on improving his life that there’s no way we could afford otherwise.

4. My 50 mm lens. I’m still working on building my arsenal of lenses, but I love my 50. Love the shots I can get of my kids with it. Love the speed and the clarity. And it’s so freakin’ cheap. Thanks, Canon.

5. DUH. Friends and family. I’m lucky to love and be loved – though sometimes I wonder how people put up with me! But I really dig being a mom and I have some great kids and how lucky am I to have a happy and healthy family? Good stuff.

6. Target. They have nearly everything. And usually there’s a Starbucks in there.  Which brings me to….

7. Baristas that know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte. One is yummy, one is a puddle of warm milk.

8. Ouidad Climate Control hair gel. Works wonders, doesn’t make my hair crunchy. You better believe I’ve tried almost EVERYTHING for my curly hair – this stuff is the best.

9. Hoodies. If it has a hood, the odds of my wearing it have just increased exponentially. I love a hoodie. Sweater, sweatshirt – zip front or not. Just… it’s my thing. I love them. And yes, I realize that I’m not 12 anymore and should probably stop dressing like I think I am.

10. The Okay To Wake Alarm clock. Pumpkin hasn’t waken me up before six since we bought it. WORTH the money.

Um. Hey dog. Don’t eat that. That’s not food.

Last week, the dog ate  hairbrush, a few socks, he ripped a hole in more than one shirt, he ate my slipper and an American Express bill. Last night, he chewed a branch so thoroughly that the little splintered pieces of branch made him throw up all over the living room carpet.

This owning a dog thing? Yeah. It’s… something.

If you’ll remember, I wasn’t the one desperate to add to our family. I was cool with the status quo. Great kids – both potty trained, both able to not eat paper off the table. Life was good.

And then?

I caved.

I caved and this pup came into our lives and it’s with a mixture of pure love for this new member of our family and revulsion while scrubbing puppy puke out of the carpet that I go through my days.

Puppies are HARD WORK.

And when Sir Pups-A-Lot (name changed to protect the naughty puppy that lives in my house) chewed through my AC adapter last night? I was not – I repeat, NOT – a happy camper.

What are you gonna do?

(Short answer? Fill the little puppy chew toy with peanut butter, sulk and stamp my feet around a bit and then spend too much money on a replacement adapter. )

This time of year, people keep talking about how their kids are asking Santa for puppies and it makes me cringe – because in case you didn’t know? Children LIE when they say they will do all the work. When they say that they will feed the puppy, take it on walks, scoop all the puppy droppings, and play with the dog — I’d say 80% of the time, that’s probably a lie (that percentage might decrease based upon the age of your children). Realize when you commit to getting  pet that they’re REALLY FREAKING DIFFICULT (I would have a plethora more babies before getting another puppy – babies? They’re just easier) and they’re not that cute when your favorite sweater now has a hole in the belly button region big enough to put your head through.

Luckus Fergus McPuppus (as he’s more formally known in our house) is not a bad dog, per se. He’s just a puppy. But I have discovered time and time again that puppies make me crazy. Chaos makes me crazy. Disorder makes me crazy. And most of all, standing outside in the dark at 6:30 a.m. in 24 degree waiting for a dog to find the perfect place to poo REALLY MAKES ME CRAZY.

But, we deal.

As best we can.

But, just take all that into consideration when your kids ask for a puppy for Christmas. If you’re not onboard with completely altering your life (at least for a while), this may be the better gift choice:

Thursday Ten: Anyone Got Some DayQuil? Edition

1. I have had the cold from hell for the past few days and fortunately it seems to be GOING AWAY. Which is good because this cold? I don’t like it. It’s a big stinky jerkface that makes me cough so hard my abs hurt (Silver lining: Guess who hasn’t had to do situps in days?). Fortunately for me, I like both green tea and popsicles and they seem to be easing the annoyance. Somewhat.

2. The folks from Nabisco wrote back about my Saltine Cracker Dilemma. They think perhaps it’s something to do with storage/distribution – something that is out of their hands once the product leaves their plant — but they are sending me a coupon for a free box of Saltines. But, but, but… how will I know if I’m getting one of the GOOD boxes?

3. Want to see me get antsy? Tell me I have to be at the gymnastics studio to bring Princess for 4:45 team pictures and then please don’t have your photographer ready for another half an hour. You know, I get that it takes time to get set up for a shoot. The lighting in the gym is horrendous and it probably takes a bit of wrangling to find the right light. That’s cool, I GET IT. So, uh. Just tell us to be there later. Or the photog to be there earlier. Easy peasy, and then the moms and dads don’t get annoyed.

4. Speaking of horrid lighting conditions – I need an external flash for my Canon dSLR. What do you recommend? Why?

5. Harry Potter movie – are you going? I’m not. I haven’t seen ANY OF THE MOVIES, and only read the first book. I’m willing to admit, It’s just NOT MY THING. And that’s okay. Right?

6. In Monday’s mail I received a box of Whole Foods Sea Salt Caramels. I may be a little bit in love. They are pure confection perfection. And then the organic Chocolate Truffles that my friend sent with them? Ohhhhh. So good. Too bad I’ve had this cold – I haven’t felt like eating candy and my girls are eating ALL OF THEM. I have to hurry up and get better so I can get my share!

7. Bookwise, I just finished reading Room by Emma Donaghue. I gave it four stars on Good Reads, but I was close to giving it three. It’s a good book – fast read, however there were some gaping inconsistencies for me that kind of took away from the overall book. Have you read it? What did you think? (And yes, that’s an affiliate link)

8. I’m in the midst of planning our family’s FOURTH ANNUAL HOLIDAY COOKIE DECORATING PARTY. Aw yeah. One of my favorite holiday traditions for sure – and the girls love it too. Pumpkin plans to invite more friends this year – now that she’s in kindergarten, she wants to share our family cookie party with more of her friends – and I think that’s awesome.

9. Some awesome peeps have launched The Curvy Girl Guide this week – if you haven’t looked yet, you might wanna. I love the empowering message (even if I’m less “curvy” and more “shaped like a twelve year old boy”).

10. I’ve created a monster. I took Pumpkin to Chipotle a few weeks ago and now? She’s hooked. Says it’s THE BEST PLACE EVER and constantly bombards me with requests to go. And now that I have a partner in crime with the Chipotle love I have to really fight the urge to agree everytime she says, “HEY! Let’s go to Chipotle!” Sometimes being a mom is hard.

Happy Birthday to The Sassiest Kat I Know


Photo by Mishelle Lane

Do you know this face? This is Kat, otherwise known as Sassy Irish Lassie. And today is Kat’s birthday.

As is the case with so many friendships in the age of Internet, I knew Kat for a long time before I ever actually met her in person.  I met her (as I have met so many of my dearest friends) through BD. I was editing the Blended Families section at the time, and she asked if she could contribute (or I begged her to – my memory is a little hazy), and from there? I couldn’t help but fall in love with her.

Not only is she my kindred spirit when it comes to music or making sure a dance floor doesn’t stay empty, we have matching stepmother horns. There’s something about bonding through difficult experiences that cement a bond. She has a perspective and a “been there, done that” point of view that not everyone can offer, and I’ve been grateful for that time and again, because it’s nice to not feel so alone.

We finally OFFICIALLY met at BlogHer 2009 in Chicago. It was like I’d known her for years.

We went to parties, we spent lots of time gabbing, and we ate french fries. Enthusiastically.

Oh. And we touched the Weinermobile.

Kat just kind of…gets me.

And whether it’s just dumb luck or a happy twist of fate, I ended up with a pretty amazing friend when Kat came into my life. Kat is someone I can talk to about damn near anything. If I’m having a great day, she cheers me on. If things are craptastic, she is encouraging and supportive. When it’s my birthday, she rallies the troops and orders me fresh hot cookies from a local bakery (and y’all know how I love a good cookie!).

I never fail to have a fun time with her. Whether it’s attending tweetups, conferences… or finding reflective surfaces to take our picture in.

She’s so awesome, she even agreed to get on a plane with me.

To some of you, that might not sound like much – but if you know (AS YOU SHOULD) how petrified I am by flying, this was a leap of faith on Kat’s part. I’m not a fun travel partner by any means (actually, I’m great prior to take off and immediately following landing – it’s that whole “up in the air” part where you’ll likely wish to muzzle me and strap my white knuckle hands down to the arm rests). But Kat didn’t do any of that. She didn’t even laugh at me too much.

Photo by Mishelle Lane

And while in Nashville, I had one of the best times of my life. You see that picture up there? I am so glad that Mishi captured that moment. In that moment, several of us had been laughing, laughing SO SO HARD, and it was in that moment that I felt the kind of ease of just being and contentment and total joy you get when you are around true friends. It’s like family, or like coming home.

She’s so much like family that I’ve agreed that my daughters should marry her sons someday. The cute would be overwhelming.

Happy birthday, Kat. I adore you and am so glad you are on this planet. And I love everything about you, missy (except that Ohio State thing).

Feel free to leave some birthday love for Kat in the comments or go visit her on her blog to wish her a happy birthday.

Where I Reveal JUST HOW SERIOUSLY I Take My Saltine Crackers

It’s Friday night, the kids are tucked in. I have a cold that has taken residence in my face and my throat – which is fine because I make that phlegm-rattle sound way cuter than it really is. Desperate for a snack, I go to the cupboard, grab a box of saltines and rip open a sleeve to sit down with a stack of crackers and back-to-back-to-back episodes of 30 Rock on Netflix.

And then I shove a cracker in my mouth.

And it’s not good.


Now, I’m not one of those people who merely keeps saltines on hand for when I am sick. I really like saltines. And even though I know that they have High Fructose Corn Syrup (which is evil! Evil, I say!), I just can’t quit the saltines. And yes, I have a preferred brand which you know is the result of extensive saltine research. These things must be taken seriously.

Because I eat so many saltines, I’d like to think my palette is refined enough to detect subtle saltine nuances between one box and another – but that probably isn’t true. It seems that there are two different options for a box of Premiums: REALLY REALLY GOOD and EW WHAT IS THIS AND WHY AM I EATING THIS?

This box? It’s the latter. It’s not horrible. It’s just not great. And I guess – because I am overthinking things AS I DO – I want to know why. Why is one box so good that I can’t stop eating them until the whole box is gone and why another seems destined for a life ground up in soups to hide the flavor?

[Note: You are feeling a little sorry for me already, aren’t you, for just how much thought I have devoted to the lowly saltine – but don’t feel sorry for me. Oh no.]

Clearly, the next step was to email Nabisco.

I’m sure they will see that email Monday morning and wonder what the hell is wrong with that woman in Michigan who emailed them on a Friday night about the taste of their crackers. It’s a little neurotic, I know. I own it, I’m okay with that.

But, I’m kind of looking forward to their answer. And I’m REALLY REALLY hoping they tell me how to avoid the dud boxes. You won’t be laughing at me then, Internet. Not when I always have a stock of the best saltines EVER in my cupboard and you have the icky ones. I’ll have the last laugh. Just you wait.

Thursday Ten: Best Sister Ever Edition

1. This morning, I accompanied my sister to have a hysterosalpingogram done. Basically, if you ever need to go have contrast dye injected into your lady bidness to check out the awesomeness of your fallopian tubes, I’m your go-to gal for moral support. Fortunately, I was armed with Casey’s excellent post (AND DONUTS!), so I knew what to expect for my sister and even though SHE was too scared to read Casey’s Excellent Post, it’s okay. I read it enough for both of us. As it is, she’s fine! Her fallopian tubes are fine! Life is good.

2. On the way to her appointment, we stopped at Starbucks (What? Like you’re surprised?) and I got my first gingerbread latte of the season. And it wasn’t good. This is probably a good thing for me because, well, all that sugar. And all that milk. Way to ruin a good thing.

3. My song of the day is “Drumming Song” by Florence + the Machine. It’s been in my music library for awhile, but shuffle brought it my way today and I’ve listened to it four times now.

4. I actually really loved Glee this week. I hate the themed episodes with a passion (Yes. Even the Rocky Horror night), so it was nice to see the music worked around a plot versus the other way around for a change. Oh, and awesome to see Chris Mann warbling it up as Warbler Number Six.

5. I placed an order with Sephora to catch the tail end of the Friends & Family sale last week – and ordered a sample of Bvlgari Aqva – it’s a men’s cologne (I don’t think I realized it when I ordered it). But it smelled so good – I have a feeling that I will be getting this for Hubby. It smells fantastic. It was so easy to pick a cologne for him and yet… I remain perfumeless. Why is it so difficult to pick a perfume for MYSELF?

6. I came back from forty-five minutes of cardio and sat down with a slice of cold pizza. Self-defeating, much?

7. The Princess is now severely addicted to Cake Boss and has been sketching designs for her birthday cake (only six months early). “Don’t worry mom, I can TOTALLY tier a cake,” she tells me. I sure hope so, because I know I can’t!

8. I currently have iTunes randomly shuffling through all the 90s music in my library. You should do this. Currently listening to “Hello Jupiter” from Tori Amos’s “Boys For Pele” album. I remember buying this album when it came out – I was living in Ann Arbor, and I bought it at midnight from a record store on State Street. The album cover showed Tori nursing a piglet, if I’m remembering right. (But my gosh, I still love this song – “But sometimes I breathe you in and I know you know…”)

9. Best message today was from someone asking the best way to send me a box of salted caramels. That will be tough to beat. Unless you want to send me two boxes of salted caramels, in which case YOU WIN!

10. Happy Veteran’s Day. If you have served or are serving our country – thank you so much!

TIL Tuesday (On A Wednesday): Okay to Wake Alarm Clock

I know, I know… It’s Wednesday not Tuesday – but you’ll forgive me. Someday. I hope. If you aren’t grudge holders.

You’re not grudge-holders, are you?

Anyway, the past few weeks have been a little chaotic around here, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you a product that I REALLY dig, that I have been truly grateful for. It is something I purchased on my own, for myself, outta my own pocket. No one is paying me to say nice things about it – which is why I’m using an affiliate link – because you’ll want one, and I’ll take the Amazon kickbacks… yeah. Six cents at a time, baby.

I’m talking about the OK to Wake! Children’s Alarm Clock and Nightlight.

When I saw the price tag (just under thirty smackeroos), I hesitated. And then I remembered just how much I love sleep and just how much I loathe being woken up before six a.m.

You see, Pumpkin is a morning person. From the day she was born, making her grand debut at 5:53 a.m., there have been VERY few days where she’s slept past 6. She’s five now, so you can imagine JUST HOW TIRED I AM. To me, it’s a psychological thing. If you wake me at 6:01, I’m fine. 5:59? All day long I’ll groan about how I was up before six.

What this clock does is allow parents to set a time at which it’s okay for the child to wake them up. When that time comes, the clock glows. The kid knows it’s okay to wake up mom and dad, and if she’s anything like MINE, she’s in there right on the nose.

But that’s okay.

Since getting this clock a week ago, I have gotten to sleep until at least 6 every day. I EVEN GOT MY EXTRA HOUR OF SLEEP ON SUNDAY. Oh yes.

I did.

So the way I see it, the clock has already paid for itself. Plus, it’s kind of cute and she feels like a big kid with her very own clock.

Weekly Winners – Knocked Up Edition

This week admittedly won’t go on record as being one of the most fabulous weeks but one of the things that kept me chugging along was knowing I had my FIRST family and maternity photo session booked for Saturday. I was somewhat nervous – fortunately, the subject is a friend of my sister’s and someone I have known (on a surface level, at least) for over a year.

Because honestly? I was kind of nervous.

Also, finding inspiration for maternity shots when you and your subject would both rather not shoot naked maternity shots (particularly OUTDOORS on a VERY COLD November day in Michigan!)? It’s kind of tough.  But below are two of my favorite shots from the shoot.

I know, EVERYONE does the "heart on the belly" picture. But... I don't think it's cliche. I think it's adorable. Love that baby belly.

The mom-to-be's son was really reluctant to touch his mom's belly - as in, mom says he wants nothing to do with it. So, this moment was a sweet one for her. And for me too.

For more weekly winners, head on over to visit Lotus.