Friday, December 31, 2010

Because, clearly, I'm insane.

I've decided to become a vegan.  Not forever.  Maybe just for a week, or just until tomorrow (as is typically the way my notions go). Cue the eye roll. I know. I get it.

On Christmas Eve, I had one of the best dinners I have ever, ever had. . . Beef Wellington (For serious..tenderloin all huggy with puff pastry? What could be better?), prepared by our very, very good friend who's extremely worldly ..and eats crazy things on the regular.

If he hadn't made it, I probably would have never chosen to eat it. ..and if you've never had this amazingly decadent, super rich food, you definitely shouldn't die without eating it. Go ahead.  Put it on your bucket list. Don't let the pate impugn your curiosity.

Anyway, after a fun night spent with our friends while Harper quietly snoozed and waited for Santa, I began to feel strangely... unwell. Gurgly, hot, cold, hot.

For an hour or so, I ignored it and chalked it up to being so darn excited about Christmas and all of Harper's presents. When I couldn't ignore it any longer (you know, when your mouth starts to weirdly water. . .not in a good way), I made the loud and lady-like proclamation that I would, most certainly, barf.

I'll fast-forward about three hours when, weak and sweaty, I curled up in a ball in bed and squeaked to Brandon that I would never, ever eat beef, again. After all, it wasn't the first time I had reacted so. . violently.

As kismet would have it, I had just purchased a new "diet" book called Skinny Bitch. I'll admit that the name caught my eye - as I've mentioned before, I am the very most perfect consumer - and I heard it was actually much more than "another diet book" by promoting a clean, sensible approach to eating.

Obviously, I wouldn't have purchased it if the back cover had divulged the fact that the authors are anti-cheeseburger.

Because it's the way I roll, I read the whole thing the next day during Harper's nap. It's inflammatory, it's reactionary, the authors talk out of both sides of their mouths, they're incredibly liberal, which I am so incredibly..not, but they cite credible sources regarding their vegan argument and offer great suggestions on how to "clean up" the way you eat.  And I like clean things. . .

So, I've been a cheeseless, meatballless, crazy person for two days. ..and I feel great. Assuming I don't cave to the wiles of the saucy minx..also known as the cocktail wiener.. at a party tonight, I'll attempt to convert everyone in a later post.  Kidding. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Here's your sign.

This is when we knew it was time to depart the land of the longleaf pine and get Harper back to her own bed in Maryland.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

11 Years Ago Today (Tonight)

I went on my first and only blind date.  After considerable cajoling reasoning begging, my good friend Samantha convinced me to go out with a senior (swoon. . .so out of my league!) at our rival high school.

I didn't know much about him, but what I heard, I liked.  He was a varsity baseball player with a cool car. Long before the days of Facebook "poking" and wall posts and 'tagged' photos, Samantha presented him with my 10th grade school picture and he must have deemed me marginally acceptable.  After one awkward phone conversation and adding each other to our AOL Buddy Lists, the night arrived. 

Samantha picked me up - it was a double date - in her white Mustang convertible and after considerable cajoling reasoning begging, I got in the car. Decked out in what I determined to be my very best outfit, a red wool sweater and tight (y'all, they were TIGHT!) bootcut jeans (both courtesy of my very first purchase with my American Eagle clear card), we zoomed down Raeford Road.  It was a cold night and I remember shaking the whole way there, but not because it was cold, but because I was so nervous and scared that my teeth were literally chattering.

We pulled into the parking lot of MiCasita (only now do I appreciate how greatly I could have used a margarita the size of my head) and after what seemed like an eternity of me hoping they just wouldn't show up, I heard Samantha squeal, "There they are!" and sure enough, there "they" were: My mystery date and his friend Marc, who Samantha was dating at the time.

I remember almost every detail about the way he looked when he got out of the car.  His hair was short and dark, he wore a flannel shirt, jeans and glasses.  He didn't smile, he didn't talk. He was beyond attractive and I remember my heart sinking, realizing we would never work. Disproportionately hot, I remember thinking.  Too hot to be on a date with me, let alone be my boyfriend.  He wasn't smiling.  He knew it, too.

At that point, I threw in the towel. I stumbled through dinner and it wasn't the worst night I've ever had, thanks to charm in equal parts from Samantha and Marc, but I still counted the minutes. He didn't sit beside me, talk to me or pay for my dinner.

Relief washed over me when I realized it was time to go. Then, Marc suggested we all go back to his house and watch a movie. ..Ugh.. The dread. Another two, possibly three hours with someone who clearly hated me? No, thank you.  ..but I saw the way Samantha's eyes lit up, and I knew I was stuck.

She chattered on the way there, giddy with the endorphins only produced in high school on a date with a boy you like. I sat brooding, questioning the universe the way only a 16-year-old on a bad date can do.

The night continued with much of the same.  I nervously watched the clock tick and he didn't talk. As the movie drew to a close, I was positively bathing in the aforementioned relief. 

As I gathered my purse and what little self-confidence I had left, Samantha made the most horrifying proclamation of the night - that my date should just drop me at home, because it was on his way home.

I nearly fainted, Scarlett O'Hara-style.  While I managed to stay on my feet, I felt the color drain from my face, wondering how I could bear 10 minutes alone in a car with someone who obviously abhorred my very presence.

As my teeth chattered (yep, still chattering) audibly (I know, because he asked about it) on the drive home, we stumbled through a few minutes of small talk normally reserved for the first few minutes of dinner and ..ahh, at last, I saw my street sign come into view.  He didn't walk me to the door, but offered an ill-timed, ass-out sitting hug that left me fumbling for my keys and asking silently for someone to put me out of my misery.

I walked away thinking that he was, surely, the biggest jerk I would ever meet and that if this was dating, I didn't want anything to do with it.  I never wanted to see him again. ..and I didn't even care if he hated me or had a bad time.  I hated him, too. My teeth chattered intermittently into the night and next day as I relived the most awkward moments.

My teeth haven't nervously chattered like that very often, since that night.

Most recently, it happened when I looked into his eyes about 5 seconds before our baby girl was born.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

That's what she said.

I remember the first time Brandon, ever the ladies' man, told me sent me an email saying he loved me. 

If I look hard enough, I can probably find it printed out somewhere in my old bedroom in NC.   And if I found it and read it, my palms might get sweaty (because I'm incredibly smooth, like that) and I'd definitely get that tight, tickly feeling in my chest.

You know that feeling, right? When something unexpectedly wonderful happens and you feel like your heart will just.. burst? and your knees feel weak, but so ridiculously strong that you're positive you could max out the long jump of the Presidential Fitness Test?

 That, my friends, is euphoria.

At the University of Kansas, researchers are explaining, from a physiological standpoint, why we feel this way:

The Vagus nerve, y'all. It connects your heart with your brain (cardiovascular system to your emotions) so that when something amazing happens, your heart rate increases and lots of blood is quickly and efficiently pumped to your muscles. It's the same response to fear and stress, so that your body can fight or flee.  If you don't need to do either, all you can do is jump up and down.

Not much of a bouncer? Do you, instead, feel the need to invade space bubbles with bear hugs? What up, Oxytocin. Combined with all the energy from the extra blood flow, Oxytocin's release triggers "effusive urges to explore."  Or hug, or whatever socially appropriate, possibly awkward gesture you can throw together.  My favorite is the high-five.

..and you feel like your whole chest will explode, right? By your powers combined, you begin to breathe far more deeply to allow for the extra blood flow, which is why the love explosion feels like it's happening all over your chest, not just in your heart.

..and for the love of Michael Scott one-liners, someone please be thinking what I'm thinking right now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

A child over the age of 4 can be taught to fake enthusiasm and appreciation for any gift they receive. Yes, there's a chance it will look transparent, but the alternative is the child looking like an ungrateful brat.  ..and that is worse.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you ring?

Today's rambling comes courtesy of Harper's extremely long nap and a marginally clean house.

We don't have a land-line telephone. Harper doesn't even know what to do with a play telephone, unless it looks like a cell.  She's never even seen us use one, which I plan to rectify over the holidays in NC.

Obviously, it's all we had  when I was growing up.  Most of the phones that cycled through our home weren't even cordless. Oh, the dark ages.

..but it had its charms and I can't help but think that today's youth are missing out:

It made us active and athletic: Requisite were the abilities to quickly sprint from one end of the house to the other or clear a staircase in no more than three bounds. . . .lest you be rewarded with an impatient dial tone and no clue who called.

It made us religious: "Lord, I will completely quit cussing if..., please, let it be cutest-boy-in-middle-school." or "Lord, please don't let it be crazy Aunt Harriett who will want to talk to the whole family for 30 minutes, tying up the line so that cute boy can't call.."

It made us polite: More than likely, placing a call to a friend meant talking to their parents. I fully intend to grab Harper's phone regularly, and much to her chagrin, make sure the person on the other end isn't a complete idiot.

It made us articulate: We took messages for our parents from other adults and watched our parents seek answers to questions by placing calls and talking to complete strangers - not just researching on the Internet.

It made us gutsy: A boy couldn't just send a rogue "Hey Beautiful ;)" text declaring his undying love and devotion.  He had to call and.. woo.. and not be the aforementioned idiot who couldn't talk to your parents.

It made us patient: Between school, ball practice and the trip home, we had to wait hours to bust through the door and lunge for the phone.  If your parent had to make a call, first? Oh, the agony.

It made us well-rested: Woe unto the kid who called our house after 9:00 p.m. and woe unto me for letting it happen.  Woe, I tell you.

Clearly, I've been watching too many episodes of Mad Men, but I think the charms will eventually come back in vogue.  Sooner or later, we'll all realize that we don't want everyone knowing what we're doing all the time. We'll crave peace and quiet and privacy and update our blogs and Facebook statuses less often.

Until then.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Type B decorates for a party

Night before last, I tossed and turned, even after Harper and I had a busy day of snow playing and fort building.

Brandon was at the hospital until well after midnight and while I was quite unnerved by a few DVR'd episodes of The Vampire Diaries, what kept me awake was that, due to the snow, I hadn't been able to purchase a key piece of decor for the next day's party.  20 table cloths stood in the way of peaceful, type b slumber.

They were the very last piece of an intricate puzzle I spent the week putting together.  It took a week because I had a budget of $50. Yes, $50.

On Monday, I did the centerpiece vases, comprised mostly of ornaments from our home (some stolen directly from our tree) and some over which I nearly took out a lady's kneecap in the Target $1 bins:

On Tuesday, I made tissue paper pom poms (snow balls) to suspend from the ceiling with fishing line (not enough to make it look like a junior prom or low enough to catch a toddler's roaming paw):

On Wednesday and Thursday, I scoured shelves of Target and Michael's for beautiful ribbon, lights and candy canes to decorate the tree.  In my head, it went something like this:

When yesterday morning mercifully came, I bolted out of bed at Harper's first "Baah, Maa!" (This means that after a good deal of crib acrobatics, she's tossed her blankie overboard and needs my assistance).

We rushed to Target at 8:00 a.m., because I realized at 2:00 a.m. that Harper didn't have appropriate party attire, and we rectified it with this:

And as soon as Dollar Tree opened at 9:00, I was able to shake the sleepless monkey off my back by purchasing 20 white plastic tablecloths. Not red, not green.  White. White, so the ornament vases would be the focal point of the table and white, to draw the eye up to the pom poms. 20 of them so that if the tables were dark or big, the cloths could be doubled.

A few hours and a poor excuse for a Harper nap later, I was almost nervous as a few men unloaded the decorations at the party site and I went off to park.

I only had an hour to decorate, so while we stalked old ladies for spots in the parking deck and walked the bazillion miles back to the party, I lamented the time lost and anxiously planned my attack.

I was so relieved to know there would be six, maybe even seven men in the room to help spread tablecloths, string lights, hang pompoms and chat with/chase Harper while I got down to business.

A mere 20 minutes later, rosy cheeked from the windy walk, Harper and I blew through the door and into the party room to be greeted by the men, for whose extra hands I had been so grateful.

Right away and with much excitement and satisfaction, they informed me that they had already done the decorating. . .and in just twenty short minutes! 

This is the only picture I had the stomach to snap with my phone, but I think you'll be able to imagine the tree accordingly.  That hair tinsel on the table, well.. that was their own special touch ;)

I'm thrilled to report that everyone had a wonderful time at the party - especially Harper and anyone under 8 years old - who spent the majority of their time volleying the delicate tissue paper snowballs "big puff balls" and throwing tinsel in the air.

I was commended multiple times for my wonderful job in decorating, but finally had to shrink away from the limelight as Harper, double-fisting two pieces of HoneyBaked Ham, began to nod off in my arms.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh, hell. It's snowing.

I never thought, in a million years, that those words would come out of my mouth. Well, maybe like, "Oh hell yes, y'all! It's snowin' outside!" but never in the curmudgeonly way it was uttered as Harper and I left Target this morning.

See, tomorrow is Brandon's department Christmas party and he's I'm in charge of decorations, thus Harp and I found ourselves scouring shelves at 8 a.m. with a budget tighter than... the thin, snow-inappropriate yoga pants I was wearing.

With one stop down, two to go and a cart full of paper plates, cups and utensils (in the decorating budget....? I digress.), Harper shouted orders from the helm of our red chariot as we dashed out into an unexpected, positively beautiful, quiet, Christmasy snowfall.

Dread swept over me.

Before Harper and after two winters in Milwaukee, I would have easily braved a slick and icy Rockville Pike for paper tablecloths. . . but now I have precious cargo and I mentally kicked rocks as I realized our errands were over for the day.

After we carefully navigated the slick parking lot and siege of blind, old-lady drivers who only decide to drive during hazardous road conditions, I began unloading our supplies and noticed that, since we walked outside, Harper had been absolutely silent (a pure rarity, as just minutes ago, she loudly bid each and every employee and customer "bye!").

Just then, my petite, blankie-wielding cherub delivered the powerful kick in the pants I so dearly needed:

 As I hustled the last of our things into the trunk, she looked up, held out her hands to catch snow flakes and contentedly said, "Ohhhhh.. Nice."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

If a toddler is doing pterodactyl-esque screeches in a store while their frazzled parent unavoidably shops for necessities and you decide it's appropriate to give that toddler the stink-eye, congratulations! You'll probably embarrassed & shamed the parent, and left them questioning their child-rearing abilities.

..but on the off chance that parent is a little bit crazy? You may also find your tires slashed in the parking lot.  ..which you deserve.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It ain't just for fruit baskets.

This morning at 7:00 a.m., my sidekick and I took a trip to Home Depot and purchased shrink wrap for our windows. I guess I'm the only person in the world who didn't know about this stuff. If something doesn't have a picture of Dora the Explorer on it or Harper can't shove a shape block into it, it sometimes escapes my notice. ..but apparently, applying this "stuff" can lower your heating cost by up to 90%. I'm just hoping to get 25% or 30%.

As visions of sugar plums dance in Harper's head, I'm going to shrink wrap the windows of our "Florida room." I've done one window, already, while Harper supervised.  She was NOT impressed with the blow dryer shrinking portion of the project, as the blow dryer generally elicits the stink eye and sends her running in the other direction.  For adults without a blow dryer aversion, you'll find this part to be quite fun and rewarding.

How am I feeling about not having the option to open the windows this winter? A little like how I feel when a shirt or a dress gets stuck over my head - won't go up, can't go down, arms straight-jacketed up in "touchdown" position. . . cat in a bag panic - but I'll just hang my head out the door every now and then for 25% off of our heating bill.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Type B disinfects

Brandon works at a hospital, and I have a toddler who, despite my very best efforts, is determined to chew on the side of the grocery cart at least once per trip. We make it through flu season on a wing and a prayer.

I've already lauded the Clorox wipe, but there are two other products that get me through the week:

The first is a carry-over from Harper's earlier days - It's a Medela Quick Clean Micro Steam Bag. A few times a week, I do a paci round-up (b/c, like Cheerios, they reproduce in our home.  They like to do it on the floor.), throw them all in this bag with sippy cups or bottles or Harper's toothbrushes, add 2 oz. of water and heat in the microwave for 1.5 minutes. It kills all of the germs! No boiling, no haz-mat suit, just.. done! You can use one bag up to 20 times!

Because they're cheap, I have multiple.  One is for adult toothbrushes,  I won't even go into the germs that accumulate on a toothbrush. ..Not that I really care, b/c I'd brush my teeth with it either way, ..probably even if it fell on the floor and I managed to get it within the bounds of the 5 Second Rule, but if it only takes 1.5 minutes to have a really clean one every now and then?  Yes, please!

I have a separate bag for kitchen sponges - although I've heard you can just stick them straight in the microwave, I give them the steam bag treatment, too.

I buy them at Target. Yes, you have to venture into the baby section, my non-baby-having friends.  Worse yet, they're in the breastfeeding section.  The good news is that you don't need boobs to buy them.  ..and if lactating boobs make you nervous or faint or wreck the mental images you so dearly love, you can buy them online. Guys, you have the right to a clean toothbrush, too..

Other thing:

Everyone knows about a Swiffer Wet-Jet. Well. . . did you know that there exists a solution for the Swiffer which kills 99.9% of household bacteria? . . . Whatever the question, dead bacteria is the answer.  Especially in light of the fact that many of us may be washing our face with our underwear.

I hope this post makes it seem like I have it together, because after a day like yesterday - when I lost a gift card, found out I neglected to pay our car insurance and cleaned poop out of the bath tub, I need a win.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It might not be your cup of tea. . .

Do I love the colors? Not particularly, but I made it for Harper's bedroom door and ..she likes it.  Horribly shattered by the feathery wreath of wrongness that was my second attempt at do-it-yourself holiday cheer,  I think I might be crawling back to confidence. . .

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Boo Hoo

I cry at random.

I can generally hold it together (ok, semi-hold it together after having Harper) at genuinely sad occasions. Stoicism usually trumps the boo hoo. I figure it doesn't do anyone any good to see me blubbering and it gives me a headache. And makes me look messy. I have excellent self-control in matters involving the state of my mascara.

I am, however, unable to control myself with animated movies, but now it makes sense: I read the reason people cry at animated movies is because the characters aren't human so the viewer's guard is down and they aren't prepared to react with human emotion and empathy. ..So then Buzz and the gang are rolling down to the incinerator and you I realize you're I'm on the verge of the ugly cry. I watched Toy Story 3 against my will, because. . .

The way I avoid the ugly cry is simple: I just don't watch animated movies. I swore them off after Brandon brought home Finding Nemo.  I knew in the first few minutes that I was just better off not watching.  A cute fish with one little fin? I'll pass, thank you. I can see the writing on the wall. You can keep your box of Kleenex.

Oh, and I'm not a person who subscribes to the adage of "a good cry." ..Far too many things set me off without my seeking out the opportunity as evidenced by my..

Top three random tear jerkers:

1. TV commercials. Y'all. That commercial for the Nissan Leaf where the polar bear moseys through the city then hugs the man who bought the Leaf? ((Starts the "slow clap" for the ad people who came up with that little piece of genius)).

2. Videos of singing and dancing flash mobs. This is a new one.  What on earth is wrong with me? Who cries at a bunch of people dancing to Thriller? or singing in a mall food court?

3. Home runs. This, I find most insane, because in a stadium of tens of thousands, I know I'm the only one who reacts like I do.  There's just something ..magical about a home run. It sounds different. It's the culmination of hard work. The look on the batter's face as he rounds first, then the different look as he rounds third. All that was old is new again.  Everyone is yelling and jumping up and down and spilling beer. ...and I can't see b/c I'm fighting back tears? What the...?

I have no idea what Brandon will do with me if we have a child who plays ball..or likes Disney movies.. or drives an electric car..     ..or becomes a professional flash mobber.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

British Drawers

When I think of England, I think tea, Jane Austen, and now 10-year-old underwear.

That's right. 1.7 million Britons admit to wearing the same underwear for 10 years. My God. What garners its eventual, merciful toss into the trash? After 10 years, it's probably like a member of the family.

I have to think that if 1.7 million people in England do it, there are probably a few offenders in the US. 

Are you blushing?

..or are you reading along smugly, mentally rifling through your unmentionables and noting that you don't have any that are more than a few years old?

Turns out, that's gross, too.

Laboratory tests confirm the presence of "medium to high levels of living bacteria" (which include Staph and E.coli) in 83% of underwear that is just one year old!

Now, we're always reminded that "bacteria is everywhere and it's not all bad," so this might not sound terribly shocking. ...unless you're using your panties to wash your face or do your dishes.

..Well, are you? Do you wash your one-year-old draws with your washcloths? Your bath towels? Your dishtowels?  Saving a little $ by using the "cold" setting on the washing machine, are you? Hello, cross contamination.

Don't know about y'all, but on this blustery December day, there's about to be some spring cleaning going on up. in. here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Type B does time management

The busy season at work in Milwaukee was SO busy that even the hardcore list-making, iPhone-toting, coffee & Diet Coke-swilling, get-to-work-at-6:00-a.m. Type As had a difficult time deciding where to begin. Because there were a million starting places and, by 8:10 a.m., at least 5 people needed your day to start with them.

I remember looking at my desk most mornings - reports, agendas, to-do lists, half-completed letters and a stack of newspapers to review - and helplessly reflecting on every elementary school report card I ever received. "Uses Time Wisely?" "Check minus." ..Check minus was the best it ever got.

Around that time, I had an epiphany read somewhere that the key to most productively starting each day is to imagine that you'll only be in the office for 30 minutes. What would you do first? Whatever that thing is, do it first.

It revolutionized my mornings at work and the principle has carried over to my stay-at-home momhood more than I would have thought.  When Hurricane Harper goes down for her afternoon nap, I stare bleakly at the million things that should be done and... do them.

However, I don't always prioritize correctly, like this weekend when we were expecting company. While I was fairly content with our home's current state, I determined that - because it's Cheerios mating season (how ELSE do they get everywhere?) - the den rug should be vacuumed, the kitchen trash should be taken out and that I wanted the house to smell like cookies (?!...?).

Now, Harper was sleeping, so I couldn't vacuum.  ..and we have an insane pack of raccoons living in our yard, so I couldn't take out the trash until the last minute. In a total Cher Horowitz-has it-together moment, I dashed out of the house and sped to the grocery store to buy some cookie dough. ..knowing I could do my other two items as soon as I got home.

And, thanks to my sweet time management skillz, our very good friends arrived to watch football while I was at the grocery store. 

My darling husband ushered them into our home, right by the the vacuum whose cord was undone like a family of hungry serpents, by the open door to our attic where three bags of trash were piled (raccoons, y'all! crazy ones!) and into our den where, I'm sure, audible crunches could be heard under their shoes.

Check minus.  Check minus, indeed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

E-vites: The best way to say "I don't value our friendship enough to send you an invitation in the mail."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Type B does organization.

Our kitchen cabinets have been sealed tighter than the lid on a pickle jar since Harper started scooting around.  All of my cleaning supplies used to be under the sink, but a: there were too many of them so I couldn't see them, b. I didn't like having them in Harper's reach, on the off chance we forgot to engage the cabinet locks jaws of death.

After watching a particularly disturbing episode of Hoarders, I decided it was time to do something about it.

Below, I give you the single best organizational idea I've ever had.  It hangs on the inside of the door that goes up to our attic, so I can shut it and it's completely out of sight and Harper can't open the door and probably won't be able to do so until she's 18. . . because Brandon "disengaged" the handle. ..but that's a story for another day.

It's a shoe organizer that I bought for Brandon's shoes (after watching an equally disturbing episode of Hoarders), but his shoes are too big. So, there. Boom! You've just been stay-at-home mommed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Frankenstein & the Clown

There have been only two times that I've actually feared for my life.

One was when I was living by myself in college and someone tried to open the locked door of my apartment two nights after someone had been murdered in my complex. In hindsight, I'm sure they were drunk, I'm sure they thought it was their apartment ..and what on earth was I doing living in that complex after someone had been murdered there!? 

The other time was when I was about 8 years old, which by default, makes it far scarier.

Each year, my cousins Patrick and Philip came to our neighborhood to trick-or-treat. Mom walked us around the neighborhood and as often as we seemed to throw down in huge fights over nothing, it was nice to have the company.  ..because, as an only child, nothing is as lame as going trick-or-treating by yourself.

That year, as it grew late and dark, we began to chart a steady course for home when we saw two huge men - each over 6'0 - walking toward us. One was dressed as a clown, and one was dressed as Frankenstein.

Despite having consumed far too many R.L. Stein Fear Street books for my tender age, I had no inkling of nervousness as they approached. Neither did Mom, apparently, because as they drew closer, she addressed the revelers, "Oh my gosh! Those are great costumes!"

Now, anyone from the South would expect a "Thank you, ma'am.  Happy Halloween!" from beneath the rubber masks.

We were met with dead silence. At this point, Frankenstein assumed a less approachable gait, arms outstretched, and their pace quickened to close in on us. Mom laughed uncomfortably. I realized there were no children with them and that we were the only ones on a dark street.

Mom made one last Southern attempt at small talk and when Frankenstein grunted menacingly in response and began chasing us, Mom lost all composure and, at the top of her lungs, yelled, "RUN!"

Y'all, she was serious.

Apparently Patrick and Philip had become as wary as I, because at Mom's behest, we took off like rockets, straight through General Lee Park.  It was the only time in my life where I actually..gutterally.. hollered..with abandon.  (Like, 'Ahhhh!' and as soon as I would lose my breath, I'd suck in and go "Ahhh!" again.)  It was uncontrollable and I made no effort to squelch it, because I thought someone might hear me and save us.

Philip was way ahead.  I may have seen him hurdle a seesaw. Patrick was in my periphery.  He was hollering, too.

I only glanced back once and it looked like the clown might be closing in on Mom. He must have given up, though, because about 15 seconds later, we were all back at the house.  Panting, and happy to be alive.

Mom was laughing.  As she tore through the wet grass in her white Reebok tennis shoes, she heard the befuddled clown ask, "Is that the Mom?"

Unfortunately, we ate no candy, that night.  Our brush with death was too fresh, and also, at least two plastic orange pumpkins had been thrown into the air ...either as acts of sheer self-preservation or hopeful sacrifice.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another one bites the dust. .

Every time I turn around, the angels sing as another Facebook relationship status changes to "engaged."

Angels singing. . . or BFFs wailing?

A team of Oxford researchers have shown that every time a person finds true love, two of their closest friends get kicked to the curb. Apparently, people don't have the capacity for more than 5 close relationships at a time and when people meet their one, they take up the space of two.

No, you don't get to choose them. And guys, forget about "keepin it real" with your boys. . . the rule holds true for you, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The hips don't lie.

As a woman, I can pretend that stilettos don't hurt my feet, that plucking my eyebrows doesn't bring tears to my eyes and that the shapewear tank top I recently purchased doesn't crush my ribs so fiercely that I have to recline the driver's seat.

After all, I am a woman, and I live by the credo that it is better to look marvelous than to feel marvelous.

While I can't do anything short of horrifying for my eyebrows and, let's be honest, cute shoes are worth it,  I've decided to make a commitment to fitness. ..So I won't feel the need exist in a world of medieval torture that is that tank top.

..and staying true to the original purpose of my blog, I find myself resolute.. a full month before the new year.

Last night, I took the "before" pictures.  Oy vey! I now believe that it was an act of mercy, not form or function, that our heads are oriented to the front and our butts are in the back.  I'm so happy I don't have to look at my butt all day.

And no, I'm not posting the "befores" without the "afters."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In the blink of an eye...

Because there aren't many people I can text and say, "I just found a huge chunk of french bread in Harper's crib" and they'll think it's as funny as I do (see? you probably aren't laughing.. I am. Whatev.) then top me with an equally strange story of their child peeing on the vacuum cleaner, I'm glad there is Tiffany.  We've been friends since 6th grade and went to high school and college together.

 ...and when I found out she was having a baby just three weeks after me, relief flooded. Because it's hard being a trailblazing young mom and our husbands don't really want to get texts about nail polish colors.

We'll be a hard act to follow, but I've got to think that Harper and Danica will be as cool as Tiff and I were in middle school:

 This is from 8th grade, b/c we agreed that the 6th grade pics were way too heinous to go posting willy-nilly on the Internet.

Over Thanksgiving, two old friends got together and so did two new friends:

L: Danica, R: Harper    

Harper creeping on Danica's Puffs

Next year, the group will be even bigger (Tiff is due in January) ..and hopefully Harper will take a lesson from Danica and be more willing to participate in the group picture:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Stick families on the back of vehicles...?  Please choose to brag about your cohesive family unit in ways that don't endanger your children.  Go to Olan Mills and get it out of your system.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Like a ton of bricks.

A few months ago, my Mom dragged the parts of a solid pine table from her attic, and with a feat of strength one wouldn't think possible, she hoisted it into the back of her somewhat-aged SUV and drove it to Maryland. 

B/c we needed something sturdy.  A table that wouldn't groan and sway under the weight of a beautiful granite slab and one that was tall enough and big enough for Harper to safely play under.

After I cussed it out of her car and into our house, it sat.  It sat for three months, until a few mornings ago, fueled by too much coffee and a toddler eager to be entertained by something new, I decided that I had put it off long enough.

"We" flipped it over and began to assemble the necessary parts.  As I finished tightening the screws on the first leg, it hit me: That my dad made this table and the very nuts and bolts that Harper sat "organizing" were the ones that he used, too. 

I was way too young to remember, or he may have even built it before I was born, but I can picture the scene almost exactly.. the shop, the flannel shirt, saw horses, colorful rhetoric. . . usually with himself.  Whatever he may have been thinking when he crafted and assembled this solid piece of our family, I bet he never imagined this scene:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Smells like nostalgia.

I'm one of those people who associates their life with objects, smells, sounds and tastes.  ..In that, some things transport me back in time faster than you can say flux capacitor.

I love unwrapping Christmas ornaments every year. A million things remind me of the time before I was married, but when I unwrap our ornaments, I get to relive the story of the last 5 years.  Pictures say it better than words, so:

This actually looked a little like us. I think of our wedding day and how it poured rain for an hour and then magically let up as we climbed in the limo to go to the church. It reminds me of Brandon at the end of the aisle and how my dress was so tight that I couldn't even eat at the reception.  It reminds me of the party after the reception and how my whole family was there and everyone was happy and healthy and drunk and I couldn't imagine life getting any better and then realizing that we were leaving the next day for a long honeymoon and that it would get even better.

This was actually the first ornament I bought. Brandon worked long hours in med school and in a town where I knew practically no one, I was usually left to my own devices. I bought it because it reminded me of North Carolina and everything I missed so terribly back home. Now it reminds me of how brave I was.

This reminds me of Brandon's first day of his first surgery rotation in medical school.  I dropped him off that morning before I went to work and I've never seen him so nervous.  After 10 years together, that's saying something.  I'd like to say that it was a kickass day for him, but he broke the surgical field with his forehead and got yelled at.

This is a mini pizza box that I may or may not have paid for at Uno. We ate there all the time in Milwaukee.  It reminds me of cold, snowy nights in Brandon's huge truck.  After dinner, we'd ride around just because we could.

This is from 2007, our second year married and second year in Milwaukee.  I loved my job, I loved my friends, I was comfortable and absolutely dreaded the thought of leaving the next year. Mom bought us this, and it seems random, but Hallmark calls it "Toast for Two." ..Which is what we were and I loved being "two."

A loaned executive gave this to me at the conclusion of the 2007 United Way Community Campaign.  When I see it, I think of Annette, Ritu, Dianne and Haya. They worked my Business Partners Central accounts during the campaign.  It reminds me how awesome it felt to be good at my job.

This is an earring I wore when we had a costume party at our house about three or four weeks after we moved to Maryland.  I lost the other earring that night. I look at it and mostly just remember the hangover, so I'm glad we took pictures of flip cup, a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder, a viking who repeatedly flexed his muscles and a snake charmer. The hangover was worth it, because now that everyone is settled or married or bechilded, we still talk about that night.

Harper was 6 months old for her first Christmas.  She liked watch us play Wii in the basement, she liked sweet potatoes, prunes, one-piece outfits, her glow worm and being bounced to sleep.  She sat on the couch and watched me string lights on the tree and I remember telling her how different it would be next year (this year). ..and it's better than I could have ever imagined.

This is a lobster buoy we bought in Maine, this summer.  We were lucky enough to spend 6 wonderful weeks there while Brandon took an Ophthalmology course at Colby College.  It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen. We visited Acadia National Park, trekked to the big city of Bangor to meet up with our long lost friends Paul and Kelley and took several trips to Freeport, where we bought this for 50 cents.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Girl, do us all a favor and have a piece of pumpkin pie.

I frequent a website that showcases the latest in fashion and where similar items may be purchased more cheaply and I happened upon the obviously strikingly beautiful model, pictured below.

I stared and stared at this photo, thinking it must be photoshopped because her head is nearly as wide as her body and I wondered if she's healthy.  On this, the eve of a day of thanks, pilgrims, indians and tryptophan, I have to wonder if she would have survived a trip to the 'new world' and subsequent harsh winters. Would those legs really even hold her up in a strong wind?

I swear, I've never been a hater of the skinny. I earnestly strategize about how to make it through the holidays without gaining any weight because the average woman packs on 7 to 8 lbs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I figure if I don't gain any, I'm ahead of the curve muffin top. I also purchased a fantastic piece of shapewear today, but that's neither here nor there.

I've always rolled my eyes when the fashion industry is criticized for its glamorization of thin women. Skinny is a job requirement and if people don't like it, they don't have to buy the clothes.

But...then I had a baby girl. When I look at her, I don't just see my cherubic 17 month old.  I see her future.  ...her first day of kindgergarten, her first date, her first broken heart, college graduation, jobs, Brandon walking her down the aisle, my grandchildren...

When I look at current advertisements, I hope I'm not seeing a future of unhealthy expectations.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

150 Friends on the Wall

Robin Dunbar, a professor at Oxford University, has studied societies - monkeys, too - throughout history and determined that people are incapable of maintaining contact and interacting with more than 150 people at a time.

How many 'Facebook friends' do you have? How many do you talk to?

He defines interacting as communicating at least once per year and, pretty much, you know how you met them and if they know any of your other friends.  After 150, the group begins to splinter.  Within "Dunbar's Number" of 150, the average person has 4 or 5 friends whom they frequently lean on for support.  Although he determined the number 20 years ago, recent research suggests that it holds true today and even applies to social networking.

My number of 'friends' teeters somewhere around 420. ..I hardly ever think to look, but when I happen upon it, it's always a different number.. and not necessarily higher. For a microsecond, I wonder if I've made someone mad by saying their necklace looks like a butt ...or if someone loosed the shackles that is the News Feed by deactivating their account.  Since I have too many to know who did it, or care, I buy what Dunbar is selling.

Unsettling tidbit: YOUR Dunbar's Number can be as high as 230 and as low as 100. It all depends on the size of your brain. ..which makes me too nervous to go counting and tallying, so enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Big box jewelry store commercials make me so uncomfortable that sometimes I have to look away. Their voices are at least an octave lower than they should be and really, Kay Jewelers and Jane Seymour? Am I the only one who recognizes that the Open Heart collection strikingly resembles the outline of someone's backside? All the sultry voiceovers in the world won't make me wear a butt around my neck.

a "how to" post

I have the unique inability to recreate awesomeness. This applies to nearly every facet of my life.  When I was little, I played softball.  The year I turned 12, I hit 14 home runs (the over-the-fence kind). I remember my dad telling me that I was batting somewhere over 900.  The next season? I couldn't hit my way out of a wet paper bag.  I struck out at least once every game and it only got worse from there. I quit in high school after riding the pine for a year on varsity, where I would occasionally be called on to pinch hit whiff and strike out.

I can pick up the Wii controller and steamroll 3 levels of Mario 3 then die 9 times in a row on level 4.

I'll make the best casserole I've ever eaten.. a kickasserole, if you will.. and the next time, well.. it'll just be more of an asserole.

I'll make a Christmas wreath for our front door and I'll be so proud of it that I'll send a picture to Brandon (sorry, you got wifed) and one to my friend, Tiffany - an engineer - to discuss proper ball placement.  At the same time, I'll furiously list all of the supplies I need to make more, because Mom will want one, I'll want one for the garage, maybe my friend Mandy will want one and my mother-in-law, too. Obviously, I'll write a blog post on how to create this feat of magnificence! And that, my four friends who read this, was going to be the title of this post: How to Make an Awesome Christmas Wreath for $8. ..Failure abounds.

This is what I got all worked up about:

Attempt #2:

Yes, those are feathers. What the...? After staring at it after more than 30 seconds in utter silence, Brandon said it looked like a peacock crawled in and died. I think it looks like a cheap, old-lady church hat.

Sure, I can pinpoint where it went wrong..and that must be good for something, so I'll halfheartedly try again.  My best guess is that it will decorate the garbage can on Tuesday morning and maybe, just maybe, a sanitation worker with a sense of humor will strap it to the front of his truck for a little holiday sparkle. Ho Ho Ho.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

..Funny story about an ice cream sandwich.

It takes me forever to tell a story.  Sometimes Usually, I get hung up on details and Brandon quits listening completely. Also, I tend to tell really long stories that only end up being marginally funny. Is there anything worse than winding up a story and realizing it's not going to get the laugh you hoped it would? Rather than my inability to tell a story, I think it's more that I find things funny that others don't. Not in a weird laugh-at-funerals sort of way, but in a dorky, snorting Steve Urkel way.

Case in point: I double over in laughter every time I think about one night in Lee Hall at NC State. It was my freshman year of college and my roommate and I were studying and watching TV.  I got sleepy, so I held out the remote control to Molly and asked, "Do you want this?" Exasperatedly..annoyed, almost, Molly replied, "Well I guess I'll take it if you don't want it!" Quizzically, I handed Molly the remote and she burst into laughter.  After a few minutes, she composed herself enough to tell me that for the previous 10 minutes, she had been staring at the remote on my bed thinking it was an ice cream sandwich.

I've told that story so many times that I've lost count.  The most I ever get is a polite "Hahaha." I guess you have to know Molly and how sweet she is, and how much we laughed that year.  And how she can't see without her contacts or glasses. And I guess you have to know how unlikely it would have been for me to have an ice cream sandwich on my bed for 10 minutes without eating it.  Or why I'd have one and she wouldn't. Or that I'd have one at all, since determined not to gain the Freshman Fifteen, all we ever did was eat popcorn and broccoli and drink Diet Vanilla Coke.

Haha.. ice cream sandwich.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall, I love you.

Fall is and has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the smell of burning leaves and cinnamon, picking out pumpkins, watching football with Brandon while Harper naps, dressing in warm, forgiving clothes and seeing the rosy flush in cheeks that only happens on a blustery day. With the busy of July and August fresh in my mind, I'm not yet antsy to be out and about.  I'm content to stay home doing random, possibly ugly and disastrous crafts on a whim and cooking things that generally include way too much butter, sugar and flour. 

I'm like Paula Deen, minus the baking abilities and fake, syrupy Southern accent. I've burned, undercooked or butchered the steps and/or ingredients of almost every cookie, cake or pie recipe known to man. This year, I stumbled upon something that even I can't mess up.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

One large can of pure pumpkin
One regular box of cake mix.  Any kind.  I've tried vanilla, chocolate and spice.  I prefer spice.
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Combine can of pumpkin with cake mix. 
Mix until your arm falls off (lumps are the only awesome-eliminating factor).
Pour into pre-sprayed-with-cooking-spray cupcake pans. (it'll take two)
Pop into pre-heated oven at 350 for 25 minutes.

I haven't messed them up a single time. Ok, once. Whatever.  Best of all, Harper can "help" and I don't have to go all crazed mom when she licks the batter.  No egg, no E.coli. Awesome.  The consistency of the inside is just like pumpkin pie.  It never gets "muffiny," so they don't dry out.  Brandon thinks they're a little too moist (I am quite possibly the only person I know who can describe things as "moist" and not cringe). Moist, moist, moist! That's what she said. I digress.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Products I Love

I've always fancied Oprah's Favorite Things.  In college, I skipped class to watch it. . . but then, I would skip class for nearly any reason.  Then, I would go out and buy items from the list (b/c OMG, yes.. I am that easily manipulated by advertisement). I love the idea of a compilation of items that make a person's day-to-day a little sweeter. Since I am the only person (besides Brandon.. hey, you!) that'll ever read this, it'll help me not forget them.  Because I do that.

1. Brandon's Thorlo Socks.  I usually buy him a couple pairs a year because they're so freaking expensive and I buy them because he loves them.  Not until this morning have I actually put them on my feet.  It's like walking on a cloud.

2. Cheap coffee dressed up with fancy creamer and whipped cream in a pressurized can.  After my little alarm clock of a toddler goes off about 6:00 a.m., this is my second coherent thought, the first of which being, "Please God, let it be at least 6:00 a.m."

3. OPI nail polish colors Lincoln Park after Dark and You Don't Know Jacques. Even in the grocery store at 7:00 a.m. in sweats and a ponytail, it's hard not to feel both trendy and bad ass wearing either.  Recently, I purchased a bottle of Lincoln Park after Dark for a friend in advance of a huge presentation. The stuff is lacquer courage.

4. Harper's Doug & Melissa wooden play food.  It's cute and stylish and actually looks great in our kitchen. She loves it all, but the stick of butter and small fish receive highest honors.  Most nights, Brandon and I find the fish and butter in our bed.

5. Harper's pajamas.  There is nothing more snuggly than a baby in one-piece, fleece, footed pajamas.  I cry every time she outgrows a pair.

6. Dermablend concealer.  I've been putting this stuff under my eyes since high school, thanks to congenitally dark circles (thanks, Dad!). Before Harper slept through the night, it was the only thing that made me resemble myself in any way.  Otherwise, I struck a remarkable resemblance to how I think I'd look after doing hard time in prison.

7. Tide Total Care Detergent. This stuff smells like the beach and I love it so much that I don't even dread doing laundry.  Ok, I still dread it, but I love the way the clothes smell.

8. Dove go fresh Energize body wash with grapefruit and lemongrass. This product reminds me of our trip to Ft. Lauderdale last May.  Everything in our hotel smelled like lemongrass and I loved it so much that I couldn't bear to wash our dirty clothes for a week.  This scent embodies relaxation and warm weather and long walks with Brandon and a baby's first time in a swimming pool, wearing a watermelon bathing suit.

9. Super Mario Brothers 3. Brandon downloaded it onto our Wii and I play every night after Harper goes to bed.  I am terrible and he thinks it's funny and I love hearing Brandon laugh when Mario commits suicide by jumping straight into a hole he's jumped into 10 40 times already.

10. Cameras with film. I've recently started using Brandon's old Canon with a huge, super awesome lens to take pictures of Harper during the day.  I love not knowing exactly what I caught until we get the pictures back.  They are unbelievably crisp.  Brandon says he likes them because they are an accurate representation of Harper - the quick shots catch her personality and her beauty better than our digital camera.

11. Pilot Precise Very Fine Tip pens. These remind me of working at my first job in Milwaukee. I didn't know how to do anything, but with these pens, I sat in meetings and furiously and neatly made lists, hoping and praying I looked like I had a clue.

12. My new North Face Summit Series down coat. It was my birthday present this year from Brandon.  With it on, I am never hot and I am never cold.  I would sleep in it if it that made any sense at all. ..and it makes me feel like Batman...with a waist.

13. Clorox disinfectant wipes. They kept me without illness in the petri dish known as college, cleaned my first apartment, my house, my car and Harper's toys. They smell great and kill 99.9% of bacteria.  There's fine print associated with that last claim, but I choose to ignore it.

14. Brach's peppermint nougat candy.  It's like having permission to swallow a piece of gum, which is something I've only recently curtailed. It's fantastic. It's refreshing. It makes my teeth hurt so I can't eat much, which makes it perfect.

15. Crock Pot liners. I have been known to eyeball a dirty crockpot for 3 days before actually tackling the mess that only 14 hours of simmering can create. Free at last.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Post

This is a blog for all the Type Bs out there.  You know who you are - your car house refrigerator schedule life is disorganized and sometimes your socks don't match.  ..and it doesn't really bother you. It doesn't bother me, either.

For years, I've even embraced it.  With the randomly destructive pattern of one Tasmanian devil (yes, the cartoon one), I can swing into a whirlwind of organization:  the holidays, former occupational duties, visitors. .

. but if I'm honest, and that's what a blog is all about, I am Type B.  Down to the tips of my toes, which haven't been polished in three months.  Because it's winter.  And no one sees them.

Enter Tasmanian devil jr., my accomplice in non-accomplishment, also known as my nearly 17 month old daughter.

I used to sit, doodling in work meetings and conference calls, feeling the kicks of little busy feet in my tummy, and I daydreamed about the days ahead. Visions of parks, playdates, dresses, shopping, cleaning, organizing, cooking and all around mom greatness circa 1950s danced in my head.

Fast-forward 17 months through a, well, challenging infancy (Harper's literal and my figurative one as a mom) and here I am: still in my pajamas at 1:00 pm after dragging a Christmas tree from the attic in three spiky, unimaginably awkward pieces and assembling said green porcupine as uneventfully as possible, as to not attract an exorbitant amount of attention from Tasmanian devil jr. 

This is how I work. 

It's not pretty, but Harper doesn't notice that I'm still in my PJs.  She knows that we've played with Christmas ornaments all morning (my crack at desensitizing to the real thing), colored with crayons and taken turns playing chase all over the house.

In between, I've managed the aforementioned tree battle, washed our sheets and vacuumed the den and couch - if you have a child who loves graham crackers as deeply as does Harper, you know why I vacuum the couch. 

It sounds like a crazy day and it's typical.  The only difference is that I've put up the tree more than a month earlier than I usually do, and thus begins my journey to improve my untimely ways!