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!