Thursday, April 30, 2009

What're You Having For Dinner?

Tonight, J posed this question to me. My response? "Um, I'm having dessert." Yes, we had our New Member Dessert for my mother's group so I skipped eating a nutritious dinner and headed straight for the strawberry trifle, cannoli and home-made Oreo Truffles. The white wine was 'Mommy's Time Out" and the red was "Bitch"....guess which I chose to imbibe?

I think I better work extra hard at the Y tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Speaking of...

Kicking the habit. Yesterday when I was making sure that I hadn't been duped again by J and his friend Ty about the origins of 'cold turkey' and 'kick the habit' (I learned the hard way when they burst out laughing as I repeated the fun party fact they'd shared with me to a crowd of people that Carson Daily was a Navy SEAL in Desert Storm...or not), I found this interesting article from 2004 about a surgical procedure being performed in China that is reported to 'erase the memory' of drug use and it's enticement from the mind of chronic users. How do they do this, you may be asking yourself? Oh, they drill a hole in their head. No, they're not drilling into the patient's brain, but they drill a hole in the skull that's 1 cm in diameter. There was only one hospital in China performing the procedure to the tune of about $4,000 US dollars using an encephalic stabilizer that they'd imported from the US for $34.88 million.

I wasn't able to find any further information, or answers to the questions people posed in the comments, and the information is over 5 years old, so who knows if they even perform it anymore. At the time of the article's publication, there had been 18 surgeries carried out, with only one of the patient's relapsing. It is thought that the patient's relapse was due to social pressures after they reunited with their prior circle of friends.

I guess the research and development team on this one took the term 'I need it like I need a hole in my head' a little too literally, eh?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Boobs and Bacon

Every year at Stock Show I'd shuffle my pig around the pen with the cane, working up a couple tears as suggested in order to drive up the sympathy vote and land a few more dollars in my pocket. Not too many mind you, just enough to demonstrate the attachment you'd formed with this little porker you'd nurtured for the last six months, hoping to attain the perfect amount of back-fat, musculature and right at the high end of the weight get paid by the pound after all.

I always ended up with the fighter pig; forced in the corner with a board around him so he didn't go crazy with the others in the ring. I inevitably got nearly dead last in showmanship, but I could raise me a fine hog and placed fairly high in finish.

While the first few tears may have been engineered, there was always that slightly sickening moment when the last ring men flew up his hands with a "Yep!" and the auctioneer's cadence was silenced that you watched your little piggy go wee wee wee all the way to the holding pen. The first year, I decided I needed just 'one last time' to say good-bye so followed her through. The next year, I knew better. There will always be one more that could be your last, so you learn to just let it go when the final gavel rings and the chute falls into place separating your pig's destiny from your own.

What in the world does this have to do with boobs? Well, the past couple of nights, I've thought 'It would be so easy if I just gave in and let him nurse this one more time.' Weaning C was a cold turkey deal. Five teeth in one month makes a very chompy boy, and the fact that he laughed hysterically at my stern "NO BITING!" made me realize that this was not a game in which I would be the victor. So, cold turkey for us it is. But that doesn't mean I don't have a feeling of loss or that kind of "is this really it?!" as another phase of life slips by.

**Interestingly enough, the phrase cold turkey has it's origins from the cessation of a hard to quit habit; heroin use. As an addict stops using the drug, blood is drawn toward the internal organs, thereby leaving the skin to resemble a cold, plucked turkey. Just your little fun fact for the day. Heroin addicts also gave us the term "kick the habit" due to the leg twitches resulting from withdrawl.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. I went to the movie with a group of friends and there was a debate about a pretty significant point in the story, which was answered quite clearly by reading the book. I won't say what the debate was, because I don't want to give spoilers, but I feel like this was a book full of nuance and amazing language. It wasn't just another book about whiny suburbanites who feel like they're better/different than the norm. Mr. Yates deserves every ounce of praise he got for penning this book! It's not even one that you wished you'd read before the movie, because the movie in and of itself is amazing. Kate Winslett and Leonardo DeCaprio are perfectly cast in the role of the Wheelers. This book needs to be on every "New Classics" list out there!Revolutionary Road

View all my reviews.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sally Capone: A Rant

Before we moved to the Commonwealth, J and I came out househunting for a weekend and left H behind. I learned a lot that weekend, but there was much that I didn't grasp. The realtor had described everything that was foreign to us from cannoli to the vehicle excise tax. In light of the fact that we imbibed all this information on Special K bars and water in the midst of seeing thirty-six houses in two days, it's easy to understand why I retained very little. (Can you tell our realtor was thin and full of energy? Yeah, I don't know about you, but I'm not the most pleasant when I have to skip meals.)

I've ranted about the excise tax before, but this year it gets even better. It's almost May, I've just barely paid mine but only after threat of a warrant being issued for me. Yes, that would be cost effective. First, they'd have to pay a divorce attorney because it would be all unbeknownst to J as he drove home in his trusty Ford Focus that he had $55.12 owed to the great Commonwealth and that was the reason he was being arrested after a 12-hour shift.

THEN they'd have to pay for court-appointed counsel because our broke asses can't afford an attorney for the 'charge' of what I guess you could call tax evasion.

Here's how it played out.

Month 1: Oh, here's that pesky excise tax again.

Month 2: Shoot! I didn't pay that, okay, must remember to pay.

Month 3: Note is accompanied by a "Do Not Ignore This Invoice" note and a bill. Tried to pay online. Can't. Went to send check, no more checks in checkbook. Sure that using checks from bank we no longer bank at would be in poor taste, and would probably add check fraud to above criminal charge.

Mid-Month 3: Notice of next course of action: Warrant. Okay, already, I'll pay it. Seriously, does this seem a little aggressive to anyone else? We're not talking years without paying.

If you want me to pay when I have two small children at home, could you at least enable an online payment system? How about taking payment by credit card over the phone? No? Oh, yeah, these were all options I gave to the very helpul and chipper woman at the town treasury office.

Seriously, if you want me to pay money for a car that I own that is being devalued daily by your poorly maintained and salt-ridden roads; please, please give me an easy way to do it. Because if I have to add the cost of foster care because the two trips for this one errand; one to the bank to get money orders and one to the town offices, results in me exploding in a Hulkian rage, I will finally qualify for my own movie. Except instead of a sweet mob version where I'm Al Capone, it would be more Meredith Baxter-Birney when she was shoving fast food in her mouth as a cautionary tale against bulimia on Lifetime Television for Women.

Pay your taxes, folks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Got Milk? No? Want It?

If you'd like a chance to win a FREE Evenflo Comfort Select dual electric breast pump and two boxes of disposable nursing pads for you or a sweet shower gift, click on over to Knitty Reviews and leave a quick comment!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Listen Here, Little Dear...

I got the following email from my mom today:

My Dear Henny Penny,

Remember once when I told you that I thought it was risky having a person come to your home whom you did not know that was answering an ad from Craigs list? Well proved true on the news tonight right there in Boston Mass. is a killer who get into womens homes via craigs list. I am thankful that you were not the statistic. But "a word to the wise should be sufficent" (To Quote Sister Euphemia.)

Please do not allow any one into your home unless J is there and do not go to anyones home without J. Could just be a killer lying in wait.

I love you and want you to be safe
Love mommie

Okay, Okay! In case you're not keeping up on what is obviously National News, police arrested Philip Markoff, a Second-year medical student at BU, and charged him with Murder and Armed Robbery* after he allegedly responded to ads posted by women on Craigslist and brutally murdered one of them and harming another; lending him the moniker Craigslist Killer. There's also a case that police believe is connected to the Boston cases out of Warwick, RI.

While I completely understand that I need to be cautious when passing my goods off to others, I hope that the market for people selling pack-n-plays and breastpumps attracts a different crowd than does massage. I've not been accepting people at my home without J being home now for some time, and don't go into someone else's home. It may be a false sense of security, but my former career did lend a certain amount of street smarts and honed my ability to listen to my intuition, but I do recognize the need for caution.

It's really tragic for these women, and their families, that such a horrible crime had to be perpetrated in order to make people again remember that you need to be cautious about who you let in your space.

*Just so I don't get hatemail, I'm not saying that Markoff committed the crimes, just that he's been arrested for them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One of These Things Is Not Like The Other One

Today we went to the local public library for the first of their bi-lingual story hours that would be in English and Hindi. I thought it would be a great chance for H to hear another language, especially since the facilitator is a native speaker.

I walked in expecting to see a good mix of moms to find that H was the only non-Indian in the room. I felt bad only because I thought, 'Great, now he'll be the only kid that doesn't get the story." I had him go sit with all the other kids, and it struck me once again how much difference race doesn't make to kids. Within about five seconds I heard two of the little boys say "Those are so cool!" I looked over to see their heads, along with H's bowed over the matchbox car and motorcycle that he had insisted on bringing with him. They pulled their own cars out of their pockets and the connection was made.

The story hour started and I realized that a lot of the kids were actually going to Hindi school and were not fluent in it. The librarian asked all the kids who knew Hindi to raise their hands and H threw up his own...then I realized that he may not have been just following what the other kids did. He thought she was saying his name...Henry.

In further pursuit of multi-culturalism, when I checked out we were told our copy of Dora and the Three Little Pigs was ready for pick-up..Come on, Vamanos!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trail Blazers

Today, we went for a hike at my new favorite walkin' spot, Trout Brook in Holden. I had been there once before and H had a great time so I figured it would be a great outing to celebrate J's birthday since he didn't have to go to work until later in the afternoon vs. the schedule on his actual bday.

We were trucking along, he with H closely chasing and I with C on my back. I had called dibs on the C-monster so I could burn the extra calories and skip the gym in the afternoon. It was a great afternoon, and J commented on the fact that the blazes were new, pointing out to me the faded paint stripes on the trees where the old blazes were. Seriously, I'd never have noticed them, which further confirms my suspicion that I'd be in a world of hurt were I ever dropped in the woods alone.

We got to the last split in the trail, and I told J that I remembered the other mom I'd been with suggesting we turn around at that point as they had ended up at another end of the park instead of looping back. However, we decided that it would be 'fun' to see if maybe it was just a mistake they made, as we had been under the impression that the trails were just big loops. Okay, fine. I kind of presented to J that I'd seen maps and that they made big loops. Seriously, he should know better. At one point I commented that it didn't feel like we were doubling back...but then the trail circled around and we crossed the water again.

Well, an hour later, we broke out into a wide open space and then hit the end of the trail just through the clearing...only to realize we had indeed ended up on the other side of the park.

J kindly offered to take C from me, but I declined so he slung H up on his shoulders saying that I needn't apologize because he could have (read: Should have) just as easily looked at the map himself; "Well, we need to get moving because it's already after 1...he had to leave for work in 2.5 hours, with the hope of getting a nap, shower and meal first. Oh yeah, and we live a half-hour from the trail.

My stomach clenched as the Ranger came out in J and he started tromping forward, his stride lengthening and I bustled up to keep time with him. Thank Jesus that I've been working out, because at the end I felt like I'd just had a great 'brisk walk' instead of the actuality of the fact that I'd scrambled over some rocky and brush covered terrain with my not-small baby in a pack on my back. We made it back to the car in 25 minutes when the walk out had taken over an hour.

On the plus side, I got to see Poison Oak for the first time, so now I'll know what to obsessively shriek at Henry to stay away from.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bowl Me Over

J took H to an Adult Birthday party that was held at a bowling alley, Pinz. The venue had laser tag, bowling, video games and a plethora of other games that will get the energy out of a 3.5 year-old. Plus, it made him feel totally special that he was the only kid with a bunch of doting adults and some fun Daddy/H time which is always important.

Even better, when they got home, I got to hand off both kids and head out the door to consume Lemon Drops and appetizers with my girlfriends. Later, however, I realized that my eating habits of late have been better than I thought. After sampling devouring my share of spinach-artichoke dip, crab rangoons, calamari, fried feta, beef satay, chicken lettuce wraps and a decandant chocolate dessert (plus the two martinis and some coffee) I was feeling more than a little queasy.

I even went so far as to suggest to J that I might have food poisoning. But with no stomach cramps and just a large lump in my throat, it turns out it wasn't so much food poisoning as the fact that I wolfed down too many rich and tasty delights in one sitting...who knew?! Everything in moderation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Farmland Fun

My, what a difference a year makes!

Today, we made our first trek to Davis' Farmland for the season. Last year, I was eight months pregnant, and H and I went there at least three times a week. In fact, I was in labor at Davis and didn't realize it; just thought I was a little extra tired that day.

Charlie was sporting the pre-walkers and petting the new Holstein calf, stroking his nose with and index finger and then putting it in his mouth...yum! Extra antibodies, no?

It was so nice to unload the single stroller, and just pack a lunch, throwing the wetbag with an extra diaper and pair of underwear in my purse. It blows my mind that this time last year, I was lugging my belly and that H couldn't be trusted 5 feet out of my sight for fear he would bolt. He is such a fun kid and he's really coming into his own.

Oh, it was probably also exponentially easier because J was on-hand to help!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Weak Sauce

This morning, as I was grinding the beans for my pot o' brew, I realized that the knob on the top of the coffee maker that went from 'weak' to 'strong' had been turned so that it was well on the side of the 'weak'.

I cranked it all the way back to the end of the strong side (the right side) and commented to J that I'd forgotten that knob was there. "From Tea to Tar?" Yep. Now it looks like Texas Tea*, Black it should.

I'm now sitting here drinking a fantastic cup of really strong coffee; you just can't beat the flavor and weak coffee is, quite frankly, a waste of time and beans. If I wanted that, I'd go to Dunkin Donuts.

Oh, and just as a side note. I was finally able to ascertain why H felt it necessary to spit all over the table..."I was being an elephant like in Miss Mary Mack." Aparrently giving "the baby hampster" a bath. The Baby Hampster would be Charlie. So glad we cleared that up. How about next time you pretend you're an elephant, it's in the bath tub or the swimming pool? (See? I've grown. Before I would have said "How about you don't ever do that again?")

*I guess I have to clarify, because Urban Dictionary says that "Texas Tea" no longer carries the innocent Beverly Hillbillies connotation of referring to oil, but now refers to promethazine w/codeine which the kids are mixing with Sprite, crushed ice and Jolly Ranchers...seriously, what ever happened to kids sneaking screwdrivers in the basement by the ping-pong table? How about a little Mad Dog (which did you know that the MD in MD 20/20 doesn't stand for Mad Dog at all but Mogen David?) or Blackberry Manischewitz?! God, I never cease to be amazed by the amount of things to keep up on in order to ensure my kids are properly cloistered!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shower of Shame

Today, I busted out the bottle of x-14 that I'd been given to test by MomCentral about a week ago. My shower is in such a state that I am embarassed to post these pictures. My mother will s#&* a brick when she sees the hovel in which I've been cleansing my body.

Just a little background...without my glasses I can see about as well as an octegenarian with cataracts. So, I can shower and pretend that the building mildew isn't really there. Were it someone else's shower that I happened to peek into, I would chastise them in my head, wondering how someone who looks so clean could be getting in that state in a place of such utter filth.

To make matters worse, I have a fiberglass shower that has the pebbly bottom which has obtained tiny scratches from my abrasive cleaner so it's impossible to get all the way clean.

So there I was, standing in sports bra and undies (just like my mother before me) spraying the shower down prior to jumping in and giving it a good scrub. I read the instructions while I was spraying and noticed the phrase "no scrubbing"...okay, right. That's never true. Then I read on to learn that I merely had to spray on and leave until the stain disappeared and then wipe it off.

Sweet. I'm standing here waiting to take my shower, and it'll probably take like 20 minutes to make the amount of filth that I have to 'disappear.' I also noted that it may take heavy mildew stains two cleanings to get it all the way off.

Well, I must not be quite as filthy as I imagined because I turned around and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me...could it seriously be disappearing in less than a minute? Yes. Yes, it can.

While I have to say that the fumes were quite strong, I was willing to suffer damage to my lungs if I had to in order to get that shower clean. I'd tried gels with bleach and other harsh chemicals to no avail, so I was ready and had the vent fan going. Absolutely make sure it's well-ventilated and I'd even open a window to air it out. The fumes are the only drawback of this product.

I got the sponge wet and ran it down the shower walls and then turned on the shower and let it run in the shower getting on all three walls for about 30 seconds before re-wetting the sponge and wiping to make sure the chemicals were off the wall before jumping in for my shower.

You only have so much time before naps and quiet time end, after all.

I honestly cannot believe how quickly and easily it worked, and it lived up to it's claim of no scrubbing required.

Before you decide you need to call DSS, this is not the tub in which my children bathe, and no, it does not look like this.

Now, for the "Picture's Worth a Thousand Words" moment:

Shameful Before

(with flash)

The absolution of the after...with and without flash

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spitting Image

As H gets older and his nose turns from the baby button to the nose he will have as a man, I'm realizing how much he looks like my husband. He's always had the same hair and hairline, but my eyes and mouth set him apart just enough so that he still looks like me.

Now, however, when I see them sitting together watching something or playing trains together, I can't get over how much mannerisms contribute to people looking alike.

Speaking of spitting, I don't know what posessed H to take a gulp out of my Sigg today and then spew it out all over Charlie's high chair tray. Whatever it was, it was a fast-tracket ticket to his bedroom! Definitely more like his dad, right? I would never have done something so impulsive or poking my parents' waterbed with an exacto knife over and over and over again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Take a Hike, Mister!

Today, I headed out for another first. My first woodsy/trail hike with both kids and no Mr. J to help out. H is a go, go, go kid. He loves to run, he's independant and, as he told me several times today, he's "the leader."

I've said before that I joined a meet-up for outdoorsy families with a little trepidation. I have to say, though, that I've enjoyed all the excursions so far as most of the battle in getting out is just having a destination and a time to be there. My debate over stroller vs. backpack was futile as this was definitely a backpack hike. I had planned to take the Kelty frame pack we have, but then decided that I didn't really want to make room for it in our over-stuffed car, so I had the brilliant idea to use the Snugli in it's back-pack capacity; which I've never done before.

I've had the Snugli through both kids and can count the number of times I've used it on both hands. It's just a lot of buckles and fasteners but today, I was glad I had it. I tried it on at home to make sure I wasn't delusional and that it really did have the capability of being worn as a back-pack. It fastened easily and securely across my chest and hips so I figured we were in business.

When I got the trail and was the first to arrive, I started condensing our lunch down by feeding C's to his while he was still in the carseat, and scarfing my salad lettuce tossed in vinaigrette (not just any, mind's Cindy's Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry good!)

I then started to realize that I didn't really know how I would get Charlie in the pack while it was on my back. Then it dawned on me that I'd load him in it, and then use his carseat as a 'safety zone' to hover over as I carefully, ever so carefully, put on the pack without dumping him on his head. All to the soundtrack of Henry screaming in a falsetto that would put a dog whistle to shame that he wanted 'to go on a walk.'

Baby on board, I started to fasten the chest does this go together again? I don't understand...It fit just fine at home. It took a little humiliation and the beginnings of the beads of sweat to realize that Charlie's weight had just shifted the straps and I needed to do a little adjustment to get the mess of mesh and cloth straightened out but it still fit just fine.

Boy, did it fit! I think I should have tried on the pack with the shirt I planned to wear because I had cleavage that would rival Pam Anderson. Wow, boob-tastic was the first word that popped into my head. Is this a Snugli or a Wonderbra? Maybe I could wear him on my back everyday, because the girls can use all the help they can get!

The hike itself was great. Trout Brook Reservation in Holden has water throughout the first little part of the trail, so there are bridge crossings, and the trails have spots that still have evidence of ice storm damage and other debris across, but it just added to the challenge and fun. The more than 8 plus miles of trail are clearly marked, and definitely don't bring a stroller, because you won't get more than 50 feet on the trail without having to turn around. Once we were a little further from the water, I was able to comfortably let H run ahead, and he was blissfully exhausted by the time we headed back.

The one warning (well, besides the dog-owners who ignored the "please clean up your own poo" signs) is that it is a sanctioned hunting area, so wear bright colors during the various seasons and don't let the kiddos stray too far ahead. For today, it was fantanstic, and a great choice for a mom of more than one kid who wants more than a paved path with no scenery.

There is nothing better than the smell of the woods when a fresh, clean breeze blows through!
(The pic is J and H on our first outing to Purgatory Chasm...before we realized that Henry is too tall for the frame pack without propping his feet on the frame...oops!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Electrolux Goes Green...Kelly Green!

Check out the details of the new Electrolux Washer and dryer at Knitty Reviews!

Put it Away For a Rainy Day

Never have I been a good saver. My sister, she's a saver. She's also the only sister of the four of us that's been to Europe, or Mexico, or went to school out of state. Or, or, or. Since marrying J, I've been forced to seriously re-evaluate my spending habits. If I had a 20, in my head that was not the beginnings of a ticket to Hawaii, or a trip to Europe; it was one week's worth of coffee.

Now that I don't make the dough in the family, I've learned better how to save it. It's amazing what happens when you no longer adopt the attitude of "I make the money, I can spend it however I want!"

When Sherri had baby A, I was really hit with the realization that I had no idea when I'd get to meet her...that's never happened in our family. We are a tight-knit group who sits in the labor and delivery room to wait out every wince and holler.

The family reunion for my mom's side is being hosted at my mom's house this year, and Sherri is attending that, but I can't. Plus, who wants to spend their dirty thirty at a family reunion? I spent my 21st visiting J and his parent's house while we were dating over summer break from college...I didn't have a single drink...I plan to make up for lost time at my 30th.

J has two weeks in June off, so I seized the opportunity to plan a trip to visit Sherri and Baby A. Oh, and her husband too, of course. I'm almost giddy with the thought of having three to four days without my children, or I guess I should say without children who can understand what we're watching; now it's SATC 24/7 for us! I'll be having my first pedicure in over 9 months...I've never gone 9 months without a pedicure, and lots of quiet, dinners all. by. my. self. Well, with Sherri, but still, I'll get to eat my entire meal every night and I'll get to drink every cup of coffee in the morning while it's still hot. The first time.

What's funding this little adventure you ask? Why Craigslist, of course! Between the commissioned knitting projects and the baby items I no longer need, I'll have ticket in hand by the end of the month.

Land of Corn, here I come!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Whale of a Tale

In case you didn't catch this story on the news the other night, I thought I'd post it. I was sitting for a friend, when I saw the teaser of "An unusual sighting in the Hudson River today..." followed by a video clip from high in the sky of what seemed to be a whale. Then, of course, it cut to commercial, and I got distracted, so I just remembered this morning to look it up and confirm.

Yep, Henry the Humpback a 30-40 foot whale headed up the Hudson River and was sighted near Brooklyn before heading back out to the ocean (they assume, since they didn't spot him again after several sightings throughout the day). He was a typical tourist, however, making a stop at the World Trade Center before going home. A safety corridor was set up so that shipping traffic in New York harbor wouldn't harm, or be harmed by, the whale.

Not since Humphrey the Humpback swam 70 miles up the Sacramento River in 1985, only to be lured back under the Golden Gate bridge by artificial female flute like calls, has a whale been known to swim up-river.

Of course, I'm especially partial to the nickname they've chosen for this latest wanderer.

Totally off-topic from this post, but since I was on they NYT site, I clicked over to Judith Warner's (Perfect Madness author) column Domestic Disturbance. Though I don't always agree with her points, she does always give me something to think about.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Socks and the Knitty

I am super excited that I'm doing my first commissioned order of hand-knit socks! The java jackets have done pretty well on etsy, and I've also sold some infant hats, so I'm really excited that this great hobby is also helping me have a little spending money on the side as well. I think more than anything, what I miss about working is having my own money...yes, the money J makes is both of ours, but it's just not as fun to buy a birthday gift for someone with their paycheck.

I love making socks and have been making use of my library card for books like Knitting Circles Around Socks and Socks a la Carte, which are helping me to start creating my own sock patterns while still having a good foundation. (I have to admit that the two-at-once are attractive because there's no chance they'll end up wonk-tastic like the mismatched pair I made around Christmas...good times!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Culture Club

It's the simple things that really make me happy lately, and I love eating yogurt in the morning. It's just an easy, quick way to get a filling breakfast and you can do a million things with it; basically, it's Summer's oatmeal.

At New Season's there's a dessert that I always loved and it was a Swedish Cream with lingonberries on the top; so good! That dessert is exactly what I thought of the first time I tried Greek Yogurt (Greek style has just been drained so that more of the whey is removed). If you've not changed up your morning yogurt routine by branching out to other types, now is the time. From Australian to Greek then back to the good ole US, there are so many yummy varieties.

I've tried Fage, Chobani and Oikos, which is made by Stonyfield Farms, and all of them are so thick and creamy. Greek-style yogurt has about 50% more protein than regular yogurt and has less lactose so may be a good option for people with sensitive tummies. It's important, however, that you opt for the low-or non-fat as it is higher in fat than the standard. Don't worry, with fat-free you'll still get all the texture and taste but you'll save on the guilt (Speaking of guilt, Happy Good Friday!), and because I get the plain yogurt, I have endless flavor possibilities. When we went to Warren Farms, I had real maple syrup to drizzle over it and some strawberry slices; yum!

My current favorite is the Archer Farms Blueberry Granola with Flax (Target) mixed into about 1/2 cup of yogurt. It's filling and tastes really good.

If your store doesn't carry Oikos or Chobani, look for Fage (pronounced Fay-uh), as it seems to be the most widely available brand. Of course, if you don't want to pay the extra (because it seems like it does cost more) there's a way around that; you can just buy low-fat plain yogurt and strain it overnight. Before writing this post, I found that little nugget and am going to try it out myself to see how I like it...I'm always up for saving a little more on my grocery bill.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


It's been about two months now since I've been using cloth diapers exclusively, and I have to say I'm really happy with it. Part of it is the contribution to the environment, but really, it's knowing that if I'm 'out of diapers' it'll never be a trip-to-the-store-with-two-kids-in-tow-that-I-didn't-really-want-to-make-and-it's-the-end-of-the-month-so-now-I-have-to-buy-a-small-package-only-to-go-back-to-the-store-again-in-a-couple-days-and-get-the-bigger-package-at-payday kind of deal. You just put a load in and go about your business.

Here's the skinny on my investment:

15 bumGenius 3.0 diapers-$254.25 (reduced price for bulk buying, free shipping and a free pair of BabyLegs with 12 or more)

1 Diaper Sprayer-$41.99 (worth it's weight in gold, no dunking for this mama)

1 Small Wetbag for diaper bag- $18 (something I'd probaly get anyway for trips to the pool,etc)

2 Large Wetbags for the laundry- $ 30 total

Total investment $355.59

The wetbags were not a necessity, but will make laundry nicer as I won't have to handle the diapers once they're in the pail...just shove 'em in the washing machine and be done with it. I got two so that one can line while the other is being washed.

The other consideration is that with disposables, I had to buy regular and overnight diapers. Now, I just add another insert for night-time wetting. They each came with a newborn and regular insert, so I just use both together at night. I've had no leaking issues, and there have been some long nights in them.

I had a lot of people ask me about the increased water and detergent use. After two months of exclusive cloth (about 8 months of cloth and disposable) I've had no increase in my water bill and don't buy detergent anymore often. I have a front-loader so it's energy efficient, and they get dried on low in the dryer, or aired out overnight if I have the time. Also, you use 1/8 of the recommended detergent for both the cold and hot washes of the diapers, so for each load of diapers you wash, you're only using 1/4 of what you'd use for a load of laundry.

When you compare it to the cost of disposables, especially if I were to use Seventh Generation ($11.99 for 35 diapers at Target; essentially 2.5 days worth) Whole Food 365 Everyday Value ($9.99 for 38) or another chlorine-free diaper, you can see how the savings add up pretty quickly. Add to the cost of diapers, the Diaper Genie 2 re-fills that are replaced every 2 weeks (at the very least) and are $5.99 each. If we say that C will be potty trained at the same time H was, that's $177 in pail liners alone that I won't be spending. The Diaper Genie itself was $39.99 and we don't use that as our diaper pail now, as you don't really want to seal in that smell.

Even better was that my trial with gDiapers was not a loss. There is a huge re-sale potential for cloth diapers that have been well-cared for. I was able to re-sell my g's for over $100, which I put toward the bumGenius diapers. Because I plan on more children, the savings will compound, as I'll be able to use them again with the next baby; supplementing new ones as needed, but the initial investment has been made. I had tried g's because I figured they'd be a good diaper gateway drug, and it was a really good way to see if I'd be able to do cloth, while have a disposable option built-in. I really liked them, and they helped me see how easy cloth diapering really was. (*gDiaper is coming out with their own cloth insert now) Once, however, I decided that I'd do cloth full-time, I wanted a more comprehensive cloth diaper with a built in later between the insert and baby's skin; so on the gDiaper yahoo group's list for sale they went. Obviously that's not an option with disposables.

If you've been thinking about cloth, but don't think you'll be able to do it, I would encourage you to do a little research and see if it would fit in your family's life-style, keeping an open mind...with all the aides out there (the sprayer being the biggest) they are so much more user-friendly than the diapers with pins that our moms used (and dunked). And while the bG is definitely the high end of diapers, the plain-jane pre-folds have a huge number of parents who love them with great success.

I've talked with some other mom's at the park, and have to mention that a key factor has been J's support of our use of cloth diapers. While he's not exactly running out to buy them for me, he has not complained or taken a changing strike or anything else that would make it more difficult for me to truly see if it could work with our family. If I were still working full-time could I make it happen? I don't know, quite frankly I probably wouldn't have even tried. But I do know that one of the things that made me give it a more genuine look is when my friend, who is a radiology resident and has two small children, let me know that even she has time to use cloth at least half-time.

However, will I be judgemental about other people's decision of cloth vs. disposable and how it works in their family? No. I'm only writing this because I was so negative about cloth diapering before, so I want to spread the word with how happy I am in using them...well, maybe happy is a stretch because handling pee and feces can only facilitate so much joy.

I honestly can't believe it's only been 8 months since I rolled my mouse, and my eyes, over the 'purchase' button on my first gDiaper starter kit after my friend had been talking for months about her own eco-conscious decision. Mea Culpa! Good thing les never gives up on educating such a stubborn friend!
*Since I'm part of the g-Mum program, I'll still be giving updates about the product even though I don't use them exclusively anymore.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Writing Out Loud

Today I was in the changing stall at the Y and noticed someone's head above the divider...okay, odd, since they're over 7 feet tall. Then I realized she was writing on the tag of the shower underlining something. Hmmm, the plot thickens. When she left, I saw that she'd underlined several times the word "exclusively" which immediately followed the phrase "Made in China".

So, because I like to dwell on the odd and sort of passive-aggressive actions of others, I've come up with several options for this nameless woman that would have been more constructive, as I'm guessing she was not happy that the Y uses vinyl shower curtains made in China to act as 'partition from rest of locker room users'.

1. Talk to the facilities manager about your displeasure.

2. As you know that they Y is on a tight budget, offer to contact manufacturers of US made shower curtains for a donation.

3. BUY them yourself, donate them to the Y and use it as a write-off on your taxes.

These are three good options...all probably more effective than using Sharpie marker which is, maybe not coincidentally, made in the U.S. (did you know that Sharpie was founded in Worcester before being relocated to Chicago in 1866 due to expansion?!) to underline the word 'exclusively' which, quite frankly, I'd not ever have noticed due to the position of the tag and the curtain had she not been doing it while trespassing my space.

Maybe her point in doing this was not that she wanted them to have been made here, or in a country other than China, but that is the conclusion I've come to after being treated with the shock of looking up from the privacy of a changing stall to someone's eyes peering over as they make their political statement at the cost of my ability to privately apply lotion to my generously sized thighs and calves.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Household Guide to Dying

I was given an advance copy of The Household Guide to Dying: A Novel About Life by Debra Adelaide in order to participate in the Mother Talk review of it.

When I was reading the first couple of pages I thought "Oh's another Martha Quest!" I only say that because of the chickens scratching in the dirt, and I thought in the beginning that Adelaide was going to be like Lessing, who was so wordy and gave so much detail that the joy of reading that is creating the setting and characters in your mind was squashed.

I quickly realized that I was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. While there are several passages that are a bit cryptic, it's actually in order to make way for a couple of the twists you're not expecting. Adelaide creates the world of Delia, a household advice columnist, whose snarky and sometimes off-topic responses have made her an Australian icon. Basing her world on the work of Mrs. Beeton, an actual English-woman from the 1800's who wrote Mrs. Beeton's Guide to Household Management beginning at the ripe old age of 21, which offered advice on everything from how to deal with servant's pay to caring for a sick child.

Due to the popularity of her column, Delia became famous for her own series of Household Guide books; The Household Guide to Home Maintenance, The Household Guide to the Kitchen, The Household Guide to the Garden and The Household Guide to the Laundry. Pushing the idea the furthest possible, and in order to provide some catharsis for herself upon making the decision to cease unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments, her publisher agreed to The Household Guide to Dying which would provide readers with advice for everything from selecting a coffin (she refused to call it a casket) to making meals ahead to freeze for the family you'd leave behind (if you were a mother as was she).

The sections of the book where she talks about the laundry were so tantalizing that I found myself imagining how I'd have my laundry room in the home that my husband promises me we'll someday own. It was striking to me how the attitude in other countries is so different regarding the laundry. I have a friend from Australia and I know that we're still shocked that she doesn't own a clothes dryer; so I laughed out loud when I read the following passage regarding the code of the clothesline:

And then, in the suburbs, washing left on the line overnight indicated a serious lapse in domestic care. Probably outright immorality: where was that woman? Off in the ladies' lounge having a shandy, no doubt. It was also a clear invitation to thieves and perverts to jump over your fence and steal your lace bras or frilly underpants should you be silly and vain enough to own them.

Finally, you never used dryers. These were for lazy and wasteful people, of those unfortunates who had to live in apartments? In the suburbs, where the sun was generous and a fresh breeze was free, it was a crime not to hang your washing out.

One reviewer called her Household Guide to the Laundry "laundry porn" and I found myself very disappointed that I'd never get to read the full texts of the tomes to which Delia so often referred. It was a little titilating to read about all the mundane tasks of maintaining your home in such a fresh way, and in a silly way, it was just what I needed to read following my three year-old outburst to my husband a few days ago during which I railed about the fact that I didn't get a gold star by my name at the end of the day; I was gifted only with more exhaustion...good times.
The Household Guide is so much more than meets the eye. Taking a journey with Delia through her life as a teen mother who tries to follow the wandering musician of a circus family father of her unborn child to a small town in Northern Australia to her life as a work from home mother of two married to a caring and wonderful landscaper, this book has surprising depth and also a lot of humor.
Another thing that struck me was that as she talked about the way she manages her house, it would take the mention of an iPod or MySpace to remind me that this was a 21st century wife, mother and successful writer, just bringing home that it is quite possible to immerse yourself in the running of your home without having to relegate yourself to historical relic.

When asked how she chose the topic Adelaide replied "Authors will often say the reverse, that the idea or the topic or the entire novel chooses them. In my case, I'm not sure that I did choose to write this novel, but I do remember setting myself a challenge to write about dying in a way that would be original and, in particular, comical. Fiction is – in part, anyway – the place to confront things and explore ideas that in your own life you are too timid to do. Dying tends to confound most of us, frighten us, make us literally lost for words. We have a lot of trouble finding the right things to say and do when we're required to cope with death. In The Household Guide to Dying, I used the character of Delia as a bold and sometimes confronting voice who is trying to make the idea of dying more palatable to those around her, as well as herself struggling to find the right way to express a process that is profound and universal. Her way is via humour, which for her sometimes works, and sometimes not. And sometimes, despite all her efforts, the words literally evade her."

Because I get a little 'connected' with my characters (aka, I have a hard time accepting that SJP is not really Carrie Bradshaw), I googled Mrs. Beeton and was excited to learn that she was real, and so is her Household Guide. I then got even more excited when they made a reference to a "Delia" (Delia Smith) who is an iconic chef in England. She is a modern figure who announced her TV retirement in 2003 and then filmed a 6 part mini-series in 2008, which aired on BBC. "The Delia Effect" is in reference to the fact that she caused such things as a 10% surge in egg sales after her segment on omelettes and several other overnight sell-outs or "a run on previously poor-selling product as a result of a high-profile recommendation." She also wrote a bestseller How To Cheat at Cooking. But alas, it was just a coincidence of the name, as Adelaide reports that no characters were based on true figures.

While the title may seem like a real Debbie Downer, it is ultimately a novel about life; an examination by a wife, mother and woman who is finally able to take the time to tie up her loose ends and think about the mark she'll leave on those she leaves behind.

You will read this book, if for no other reason than to find out what I mean when I say these two words; blood sausage.

Debra Adelaide is the author of two other novels, The Hotel Albatross and Serpent Dust, and the editor of four themed collections of fiction and memoirs, the latest of which is Acts of Dog. She has worked as a researcher, editor and book reviewer, and has a PhD from the University of Sydney. She is now a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Concrete Thinking

I am a happier person when I feel fit. I am a happier person when I feel fit. Feeling fit feels better than Ice Cream tastes. Feeling fit feels better than Ice Cream tastes...and I just keep chanting these mantras to myself as my 'funky fresh fitness mix' with cool jams such as California Love, Born to Run and Push It provide the bass line to make my feet keep going forward.

I never liked running on a treadmill in my former life of living in a small town with a plethora of country roads, but here I will embrace it. In all fairness, they've come a long way from the shin-splinting monstrosities of our local gym growing up; shock absorption, automated personal trainers, iPod docks, heart-rate monitors, individual TV consoles, earphone jacks and pre-programmed fitness tests including 5 and 10k training runs and those for the military and other federal agencies...whew!

Yesterday I did a "hills" workout and today I did the cardio/respiratory component of the PEB Federal Law Enforcement test. When I was done with my run, I got the number that was my score and walked away realizing I had no idea what the number meant. After stretching, showering and taking H to his swimming lesson I headed to my trusty google site and found that my number was quite sad.

I knew while I was bending over my flacid post-preggo belly to stretch my hamstrings that it wouldn't be an all-star athlete score, (I was given a good dose of reality when I was feeling quite good that the guy next to me, granted he was about three inches taller, and I were matching each others' pace...then I realized he was going almost 3 mph faster than me) and I told myself that whatever it was at least I'd know where I was starting.

You have to have a baseline, and mine my friends, is certainly a base number. My sad little goal for my first 5k in about two years* is to just complete it in less than 45 minutes without stopping to walk...yes, I'm aware that's a 15 minute mile average...there's never been a better time to hit the ground running!

*I signed up for a 5K on May 17th...I'm sure hillarity will ensue.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bamb├╣ e Bambinos

As a proud member of the Facebook nation, I've noticed that it has really intuitive ad software. I've been sucked in by the "Are you 29? Get your free pair of Uggs here!" more than once...fool me twice I guess, right?

When I saw the ad for Bamboo Style Shop in my sidebar, I was surprised as I'd only talked about bamboo in some of my wall comments to other friends, and before I knew it I'd clicked the link and had a screen filled with images of a For C's shower, I got a bamboo bib that is so soft, and then I had the fortune of testing a bamboo baby blanket that was edged in 100% silk (but then I left it at the Y childwatch and it's irresistible softness was appreciated so much by another parent that they failed to put it back down when they picked it up to feel.)

Although the site for Bamboo Style Shop was not yet live, I was able to see some of their products, including serving dishes, lounge pants for women and a bunch of baby gear. Launched by Jack Carter, a self-proclaimed 'eco-nerd', Bamboo Style Shop is based in a small Maryland community, with a mission to provide products that are socially responsible and eco-friendly, without losing any of the luxury.

This whole going green business has been quite a journey for me, because I felt like you had to sacrifice comfort or quality in order to be a good steward, with a lot of the older eco-friendly stuff. When I really started looking at things like cloth diapering and ways to reduce or reuse, I'm slowly but surely putting up the white flag and trying to change my ways...well over half of my garbage gets recycled now (can you believe it, Les?!)
Many manufacturers are creating products made of bamboo, but BSS will be the first bamboo department store selling everything from purses and plates to baby blankets. They are also committed to selling American-made products whenever possible, which is nice to know in the current economic climate. They are proud to offer items from several manufacturers located here in the United States, specifically Pennsylvania, South Carolina, California, and Hawaii, stating "These are 21st Century, green collar manufacturing jobs and BSS is proud to support them." American made items are clearly labeled as such in the product description.

I've been filling out my 'Dream Home Journal' in preparation for the day when I'll finally be a home owner and can pick the details that I want. A friend of mine has bamboo floors and they're beautiful, so that went right in the book.
Bamboo is still fairly expensive compared to it's cotton counterpart, but hopefully a continued demand will lead to greater affordability, as it's a great option for both comfort and conscience.
Some of the benefits of bamboo are that one acre of bamboo yields ten times more fabric than one-acre of cotton! Bamboo has natural UV protection, blocking 98% of the sun's harmful rays. It's breathable, helping you stay 2-3° warmer when it's cold and cooler when it's warm. It also absorbs and wicks away moisture up to four times faster than cotton, it's anti-static, wrinkle resistant, hypo-allergenic, antimicrobial, strong and durable, making it ideal for baby items that you'll wash again and again...and again. Some more. (Actually, the Two-at-once socks are with a bamboo-wool blend yarn.)
Mr. Carter got back to me right away after I told him I'd be interested in posting about his shop; a personal email with lots of information both about both his shop and about bamboo in general. I hope that he's successful and helps you get all your bamboo dreams wrapped up in a pretty little bow...well, not literally, as a part of their eco-conscious business practice is reducing maybe wrapped up in a pretty little recycled shipping envelope.
Click over to Bamboo Style Shop and get on the newsletter so you can be kept up to date when the shop opens!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Circular Logic

The other day, I attempted to cast on for my first pair of Two-at-Once socks...getting the needles set up was a breeze and I was filled with a false sense of confidence.

Let me just admit that I am a little challenged when it comes to physics, math and some of the sciences, or maybe it's that I lack vision.

Whenever I've tried a new knitting technique or any other crafty thing where the terms are unfamiliar and sound like they won't work out, I have to just dig in and do in order to figure it out.

That usually works fine, but part of the challenge (for me) to knitting with two circulars is that you have to knit to the other end of the same needle that your stitches are on, or else you'll wind up at the end of the row with all the stitches for both socks on one needle. Yep, I know this because I've done it...twice. Twice with the pair of single socks I did and then again the first time I attempted this pair. Okay, I know that's technically three times, but again with the math challenges.

Once I got it in my head that you're transferring the stitches (meaning the ones you're inserting your working needle into) onto the other end of that same circular needle, it was a breeze. I can see now why people get so excited about knitting both at once...even though it's double the stitches, it will not take double the time!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Would You Like Fries With That?

When I was little, the nearest McDonald's was in the next town over about 15 miles away. We didn't go very often, but when we did it was the best treat to sit on the hamburger bun shaped seats and eat our cheeseburgers out of the cardboard happy meal box next to the talking I the only one that remembers these fixtures? The birthday party I got to have at the Golden Arches was awesome, complete with the shrieking of my friend's little brother every time the big Ronald McDonald statue that doubled as a helium tank got a little over-enthused with the filling of the balloons.

Well, it would be an understatement to say that it's not quite so magical for me anymore, but I do take H to play in the play space and so that I can spend almost $5 for a cheeseburger he abandons and fries that cool too quickly a cheap plastic toy that he'll either lose the next day, or still have clutched in his paw a year later.

For the most part, we get prompt, friendly service (if you don't count the time I found hairsssss (yes, plural) in my burger...Salad, anyone?!) but today I knew it was going to be a long visit when I approached the counter smiling and was fixed with the McBlank Stare by Joe Cashier.

Me: Hi! Can I get a chicken nugget happy meal, chocolate milk and a boy toy? Also a Fruit and Yogurt Parfait.

Joe C.: Ummmmmmm. Okay. So that was a happy meal with a burger?

Me: Chicken Nuggets

Joe C.: Okay, and then you wanted chocolate milk and a sundae?

Me: Fruit and Yogurt Parfait. For the baby. (hefting C's bulk up on my hip) And can I get a #4 with cheese, no mayo? (Because a Big and Tasty sin queso is just not very tasty.)

After getting H and C settled in the play space at the table with my friend Alex, I went back to the counter to pick up our tray of food, fill my drink and get ketchup. I've done all this before with the kids by my side, and I've noticed that they took my several failed attempts as a hint because there are now plastic tubs for condiments that are actually big enough to place on the counter and squirt into...because I'm sure it was really fun to clean a gallon of bbq sauce off the counter everyday.

Oh, and I had to get the dressing and fork pack for Alex's salad because McBlank Stare forgot it. Yes, I'm being mean, but only because this was just the beginning and I'm writing in hindsight. At the time, I was smiling and gracious.

Kids settled, I opened my cardboard box only to find a certain orange square of cheese-product was missing so it was back to the counter I went. I was handed my cheese in yet another cardboard box...seriously, placing it on a nap would have been hygienic enough for me.

After our meals were finished we realized we had about an hour for the kids to play, so ice cream suddenly made it into our plans. As I approached the counter to order two Oreo McFlurry's (why do I have to spend so much time at the gym?!) I eagerly watched as I am the dork who loves the show How It's Made and really any documentary that shows an assembly process. McLazy filled the cup about half-way when McHardWorker swooped in shaking her head and saying 'Uh, no.' She took the cup, filled it with soft-serve, placed the lid on, pumped in crumbled oreos and stuck a spoon in it.

I was a little confused...I thought these were blended. Oh, just you wait my friends. The McFlurry Machine was AWESOME! The little hose hooks right onto the spoon, answering my age-old question of "Why is this spoon so weird, and why are there holes in it?" A flip of the switch and a steady hand delivers a perfectly whipped dairy (or non-dairy?) confection. Yum!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My sister told me about the BEDA challenge on author Maureen Johnson's site, so I'm signing on!

I commit to this idea and am determined to create something EVERY DAY in April, including weekends. Every day, I will find something to say. I embrace the reality that there is always something to talk about, if you are willing to take the time to look for it.

I, Sally HP, promise to blog every day in April.

Want to join me?

I'd Like That Wrapped, Please

Can't find your wrapping paper? No problem! If you have an extra 10 minutes (including wrapping time), a sketch pad (or any paper large enough...brown grocery bag?), stamps and an industrious three year-old, you have wrapping paper with a personal touch.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wiped Out

When I first started cloth diapering, I was overwhelmed by all the choices available; the sprayer, the wetbag, the dry bucket, the deodorizer and the list went on and on. None of these were necessities, mind you, but they do make the life of a cloth diapering mama (and dad) run a lot more smoothly.

It wasn't until I had been cloth diapering exclusively for about a month that I stopped to realize there was no reason to be using disposable wipes when I didn't have a disposable diaper in which I could easily throw them away. I had been putting them in a plastic baggie but then it hit me that I'd ignored the most simple accessory; cloth wipes!

When we had H, the hospital in Portland used cloth wipes and it was a lot easier to get that sticky meconium off with a real cloth that had warm water on it, than with the disposable wipes we used on C at the hospital here.

There are a ton of 'recipes' for home-made wipes solution, you can buy ready-made solution like bumGenius Bottom Cleaner or California Baby Non-Burning and Calming Diaper Area Wash or you can turn on your tap and use plain old water. The possibilities will fit any budget and it's just one more way that you can streamline your process.

The wipes I picked first are the Imse Vimse Cloth Wipes. They came in a pack of 12, are an unbleached organic flannelette and are so, so soft. While they are a little smaller than standard wipes, they get the job done and wash and dry well, and at $11 they cost less than I pay for a case of disposable wipes, and I won't have to buy them over and over again. I think that even just 1-2 more packages would be all I'd need in order to have enough to make it from one wash load to the next.
I still pack disposable wipes in the diaper bag (throw them away with a biodegradable bag) and use them to clean hands and faces after lunch at the park or other outings, but I'm hoping that through this cloth diapering journey, I'll continue to streamline the process so that it's all ready to go for baby #3 (after C is potty trained, of course!)