May 28, 2008

What's making you think today?

A few things.......
  1. I was quoted in Blogtations today. Check the site out - it is pretty fun to read all the quotes from other bloggers. As one blogger put it "It's like Bartlett's, but bloggy".
  2. I am still embarrassed that I mentioned tightening one's financial belt in one post, then in the very next post talk about my ridiculously priced shoes. In my defense, I did earmark Christmas money towards the purchase. But still. I have weird hangups about spending so much on a pair of shoes. Granted, not on a handbag, but definitely not so much on shoes. *gulp*
  3. Speaking of handbags, I am officially done, done, DONE with diaper bags. Squee!!! We do not use bottles or sippy cups and neither kid has massive blowouts any longer, so there is no need for umpteen extra outfits. I have a Fleurville MicroPod for diapers, so now all I need is a handbag big enough in which I can stuff some Hot Wheels, finger puppets, and granola bars. Did you hear that, World? I AM SO DONE WITH DIAPER BAGS. I am so excited about checking out the outlets in Branson this weekend that I can hardly stand it.
  4. While we are at Silver Dollar City this weekend, I am tempted to stick a sticker on Arun's back that says "My mom's cell phone is XXX" in case he gets lost. Good idea? Bad idea? Am I just paranoid? I am meeting up there with my dad, step-mom, brother, BIL, sister and their kids. Still paranoid?
  5. I am so lame that I will admit that I am a little stressed that Twitter may not have their IM capabilities up in time for me to Live Twitter my Big Hillbilly Extravaganza this weekend. Just another notch on my I Have No Life belt.
  6. GA over at Ain't No Free Lunches has a thought-provoking post about the tornadoes in Iowa this past weekend. An entire town was wiped out and GA, a native Iowan, is from a nearby town. As you can imagine, GA was shaken by the news that an entire town he is familiar with was wiped out - completely. This concept of small town life is not foreign to me. Until the age of 11, I lived in a town with a population of 1,000. After that, we moved to a town of a population of 2,000 (?). GA's post got to me. I will wager it will get to you, also.

Source: Des Moines Register

May 27, 2008

Baldknobber sounds sorta dirty, does it not?

So, remember how I said that I might have plantar fasciitis? Well, either I do not have it or I caught it just in time. My left heel is a squillion times better now. I am still hobbling first thing in the morning, but overall, my day time hobbling is at a minimum now. In short, I am only wearing my uber-expensive Josef Seibels these days and have totally forsaken any sort of flip-flop, Ked, or other flattish-type of shoe. I bought the Josef Seibels last fall in lieu of a Christmas gift and felt horribly guilty for spending such money on a pair of shoes, but holy crap, folks! My feet began to feel better the very next day after I began wearing them exclusively again. Also, would like to give a hat tip to Wikipedia. I was doing absolutely EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD NOT DO in my mistaken belief it would help (i.e. wearing FLAT shoes, going barefoot when possible). Thanks to Wikipedia, I reversed nearly everything I was doing.

So, this Friday I am packing the kids up in the car and we will be on our way to Branson. Yes, you read that correctly - I am driving all by myself with two kids all the way to Branson. Better known as "Redneck Vegas" - less booze, tons more kids, no sex, same amount of sequins.

I am feverishly excited about this trip. I love roadtrips. I suspect I am being naive (or foolish or just plain stupid. Your pick). However, I cannot help but think of how much fun this will be. I cannot resist making plans to do Lifelong Character Building activities such as the Fantastic Caverns on our way down......packing healthy, wholesome lunches to eat with nary a fry in sight .....lovely jaunts in parks to stretch our legs.....two peaceful, dozing kids lazily watching the world go by outside their windows while we have long, thoughtful, bonding conversations. It is trips like these that keep kids off The Dope and away from Heavy Petting in their teenaged years. Right? Either that or it's the memories that drive them to it in the first place. *sigh*

Anyway, I will be sans computer on the trip, but will definitely be Live Tweeting away on the trip.

May 26, 2008

Did you know that the library has free books?

This weekend has found at least 2 members of this household sick at one point or another. Today it is my turn and X is finishing up the last of his Snotfest. Bah. All social engagements were canceled and we have just been lounging around the house. I did get an entire book read, so all was not lost.

We had a wonderful trip to the library on Friday where we picked up a ton of new books on spiders. I am dreading the inevitable heartbreak when Arun learns about the advanced concepts of Borrowing and Returning but in the meantime, we are mightily enjoying learning about even more types of spiders.

In other animal news, we are now the proud owners of a fish. A male betta named Dory - I am guessing that particular naming scheme has never, ever occurred in the History of Naming a Pet Fish. My boy? He is unique and has too much imagination to merely copy from some lame Pixar movie. Anyway, the fish is on Day 3 of Staying Alive. Keep Dory in your thoughts and prayers, is all I'm sayin'.

The other day, D. Jain had a question about how X and I came to the decision for me to stay home full-time with our kids and how we go about doing that. She wants to stay home after having kids and her husband wants her to work. Um. I always knew that I wanted to stay home with my kids for the first few years, at least. X and I discussed it while we were still dating, so our plan was already in place before we even got officially engaged. X was fine with either my working, or staying home so I was pretty fortunate in that the decision was really up to me.

The financial side of things? In a nutshell, we bought a house that we could afford on one salary and even then, we still bought way less than we could have actually bought per the bank approval. We also have a policy of having only one car payment at a time and trying to have at least a year or two of no car payments (to save towards buying the next car). Sure, I am driving a fancy car with GPS and fun stuff like XM radio. But I love, love my car. It's a good thing, too because I will be driving that car for at least 5 more years. I better love it. One thing that has always grated my nerves is when someone says I am "so lucky" I get to stay home. I am not "lucky" that I get to stay home. I am lucky that I get to live in a nice house, drive a nice car, carry a nice purse and wear nice shoes while doing so. We would have definitely downgraded our lifestyle for me to stay home. No, I am not saying that everyone should downgrade their lifestyle, but I do recommend living on one salary before you have kids and giving yourself financial flexibility to make whatever decision is right for your family. Easier said than done, though- I'll admit that.

I guess if I were giving advice, I would just say to try and build flexibility in your lifestyle and hold back from making Set In Stone Decisions. One never knows how parenthood is going to affect them. Who knows? D Jain may actually want to work after having kids or her husband may want her to stay home after all.

May 23, 2008

Book Review: Margarita Mama - Mocktails for Moms-to-Be

A few months back, at X's urging, I seriously considered doing ads on this site. While I wish I could lay claim to having taken the Higher Road, in truth, I decided against doing ads because I am lazy. LAZY, I tell you. If I were to begin doing ads, I would feel the need to get all professional-like with this site and start doing a posting schedule and then before I would know it, I would be all serious about this here site. And truthfully? I want this site to be fun. Not serious. However, my lazy nature does not preclude me from accepting free books. As such, I am actively going in that direction. All books I review that have been sent to me by the publisher will be reviewed under the label "Queen of the Free Bees". I may accept other things to review, but rest assured, I will not be reviewing laundry detergent anytime soon.

Margarita Mama - Mocktails for the Mom-to-Be by Alyssa Gusenoff
This small, compact book of non-alcoholic drinks is fun to read and has whimsical illustrations. To boot, it has tidbits of helpful information related to pregnancy and drink-mixing throughout. The drinks have cute names like "Bulging Belly Button", "Materni-Tea", "Raging Hormone", and "Swollen Feet Fizz". Not only would this book be great for a mom-to-be or someone hosting a baby shower, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in making non-alcoholic drinks. There are recipes for sangria, martinis, mimosas, daiquiris, and of course, margaritas. My only regret was that there was no recipe for a gin and tonic - my very, VERY favorite of all "hard" drinks.

I am giving away my review copy of this Margarita Mama! Comment on this post by Midnight, May 28th (Wednesday) if you would like to be included in the drawing for this fun, little book.

May 21, 2008

Did you know that a spider's blood is blue??

I bet not.

Dude, we need a new spider book. STAT. Every single day, we are reading the current one, like 5 or more times. IN A ROW. We tried out another spider book last night and the pictures were horrible and not even properly annotated. No bother, because between Arun and I, we were able to identify of them without the proper labels.

Anyway - I have loads of unimportant, uninteresting stuff to get out of my system. I do not have much time because I am supposed to be gunning for a Self Imposed Deadline for FoodieBytes. Let us see what I can get out in the next few minutes:

  1. I am fairly certain that I am suffering from plantar fasciitis. My left heel is killing me and every morning, I hobble around for about an hour until I can work myself up to a Subtle Limp. According to the link, I need to avoid sandals and backless shoes for awhile. Great! Just great.
  2. When I was growing up, a "thong" was something you wore on your foot. A "flip-flop" was something your stomach did when you fell in love or ate a bad meal. Am I totally Old School here or is it not in incredibly BAD TASTE to be able to see the back of one's thong when one leans over? Particularly, when one is leaning over into her MINI-VAN to fiddle around with her BABY?
  3. Amy of Amalah has had some interesting posts about staying at home. They have really made me think and the comments were very interesting. I was tempted to write a post about how staying at home is not that bad. But I think I have subjected everyone enough to my diatribes about that. Yes, I love staying at home. Yes, I still consider myself a CPA, but much like my Status as a Catholic, a non-practicing one. Yes, "staying" home is sometimes boring and monotonous. Yes, I sometimes resent the fact that X can just come and go with leisure and not have to consider who watches the kids. But no - I do not feel as if I am a drain on our resources - "his" money is OUR money and I spend it with unabashed glee and abandon. And no, I do not feel as if I "lost" myself. Seriously - am I the only mother out there who feels as if she found herself after having kids? Besides, I would be heartbroken - no, make that devastated - if I had to go back to "work" and stick the kids in daycare. I stay home for all of us - it makes all four of our lives easier. So while some days are boring, other days I have to stuff back the guilt I get from knowing that my job entail things like trips to zoos, parks, museums, or farms.
  4. Finally - there is much Simian Snappage to be had - click on any of the following snaps to get to the Flickrage. I uploaded about 35 and I have made them public.

May 19, 2008

Upon whom will I blame the smell
when the kids are all grown up and outta here?

Because truly, I have not had to lay claim to a fart for well over 2 years now.

Anyway............Yesterday at Borders, Arun spied a little toy Knufflebunny and declared "I get dis for Ahjawee?" I am sure the personnel at Borders were wondering about the big pile of goo in the children's section. How I could not melt over that? We did indeed buy the Knufflebunny and it was worth the $9.99 Admission Price to the sweet show that was Arun excitedly waking up Anjali in order to give it to her.

In other news, I have become the resident expert on spiders. I can tell you such fascinating factoids such as a jumping spider can jump 20 times its length. And that unlike most spiders, who often have 8 eyes, a jumping spider has only 4 - two of which are larger and are like binoculars. And that the Goliath tarantula is the largest of all spiders and can have a leg span up to 12 inches. And that, unlike insects, the spider's body is composed of two parts, the abdomen and the cephalothorax. And that the green lynx spider hides amongst leaves for its prey. And that the fishing spider sits by the water's edge with one leg on the water surface waiting for its prey. And that a tarantula can live for 30 years. *gulp*. And that a spider will molt its skin by laying on its back and pushing the old skin off. And that despite the 8 eyes, a spider does not have that great of eyesight and relies on hundreds of tiny hairs on its body to pick up the vibrations from the movements of its prey. And that a baby spider is called a spiderling.

Oh, and that apparently, spiders are our friends. Or some sort of bullshit along those lines.

And how do I know all of this? We bought a new spider book last night and proceeded to read it 5! Times! before going to bed.

Lord help me, I actually spared a spider's life yesterday. I found one in the shower and saved it for Arun. While Arun watched with feverish anticipation, I even prodded that spider to scurry all over the shower floor. Hell's bells, I even coaxed it onto an issue of US Magazine and flipped it in the tub to aid its escape to freedom and delay my toddler's introduction to the concept of The Circle of Life. Who am I?

Who am I?

May 15, 2008

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I have asked this question before but I think it bears repeating. Throughout one's entire life, actually.

In early 2006, my good friend Rita Arens had a dream. Her dream was to gather a selection of mommybloggers and bundle some of their best works together in a book. Folks, it was hard-going. I have learned from watching her that getting a book published is most certainly not for the faint of heart. It requires someone to have an incredible Will of Iron. To be able to face rejection time after time after time. To explain your concept to folks who may not "get" what mommybloggers are about or may have never even seen a blog. Or the Internet, for that matter.

So, there you have it. The book. It be here, folks.

sleep is for the weak

(Note: It's also available at Barnes and Noble and the indie bookseller, Booksense.)

Mostly, I am excited for Rita (editor and contributor, you can find her at Surrender, Dorothy - check out her post today about the entire story of how Sleep is for the Weak came to be.) To see a friend achieve something of this magnitude after several years of dogged determination is amazing and at its most fundamental level, inspiring. When folks said "No", Rita said "Think again, mister." Oh sure, I will admit that I am more than a little exited that a few words that I wrote my very own self are being hawked on Amazon, but I am simply thrilled for my friend achieving her dream.

I hope I never stop dreaming. I am thankful that Rita did not.

Sleep is for the Weak - the List of Contributors
I am very humbled and honored to be included with such an awesome list of gals (and a guy!) I know the hope for many is that this book will simply be Vol. 1 of many volumes so that other parent bloggers can be featured in the future. The one and only thing I do not like about this book is the superlative in the title. I do not like superlatives, particularly the word "best" because it discounts what else may be out there that we have not yet discovered - be it anything...... food, books, or writers.

Birdie's New Mexico Time Machine
Friday Playdate
Laid-Off Dad
Mommy Needs Coffee
Motherhood Uncensored
Not Calm (dot com)
Paper Napkin
Rancid Raves
State of Grace
Surrender, Dorothy
The Modernity Ward
The Naked Ovary
Three Kid Circus
Woulda Coulda Shoulda

May 13, 2008

When people ask "which three things would you bring with you on a desert island?" why don't folks ever include a BOAT?

Just a few things:
  1. The past weekend SUCKED. X had to work and Anjali was sick, sick, sick. All of my really cool, super FUN, social plans had to be canceled and I am ashamed to report that I was not very mature about the whole ordeal. Anyway - Anjali has been a droopy ragdoll the past 3 days and has been in nonstop Do Not Put Me Down mode. X took her to the doctor yesterday and confirmed that she has an ear infection. Thankfully, she is already doing better and our cheeky, smiley girl has returned.
  2. Because my social plans were canceled, we found ourselves with eleven ramekins of crème brûlée in the refrigerator. Yes, eleven. Of which only one remains. Ahem.
  3. In brighter news, I am caught up on my DVR cache of Oprah and Antiques Roadshow. I even watched an adult, non-animated movie that involved actual humans comprising all of the roles, as opposed to anthropomorphic representations. *gasp* The Bourne Identity was pretty good, although it will probably take another ear infection or two before I can get to the rest of the trilogy.
  4. Regarding my post from about Becoming the Person I Wanna Be, some of you asked about the changes I am making. Some are personal, but some of them I am willing to share. The point of that post is that I think changes can be made on small, incremental levels. I believe that introducing too much change at once is stressful and may lead to failure. My goal is ONE change at a time, every so often.
  5. I will be in the vicinity of a Coach Outlet next week. Refer to #1.

Finally......In my post about about Roaming Kids and Buffalo, Kristin commented and asked the following:
Caleb is my first child so my question to you Cagey and all of you more experienced moms. How do you let go enough to let them run around without your constant supervision? I know what I did with the freedom I was given and that makes me even more hesitant to let go. I desperately want for him to be able to run around the pasture without me but I cannot imagine being able to let go. Does this get easier as they get older?
Yes, letting go does become easier as they get older. I was nervous about having Arun outside in the back by himself last summer. We did it, but really kept an eye on him. This summer, I feel much more confident about it. It also depends on the child. Arun has always been pretty good about keeping out of stuff as long as there are things already occupying his attention. And no, this has nothing to do with Good Kid/Bad Kid - Arun is just not the type to "get into things" and is not much of a daredevil or risk taker. I trust him to play upstairs by himself for short amounts of time. However, Anjali may be a different personality and as such, I may have to limit her being out of my eyesight. I hope that makes sense.

May 10, 2008

Are you the person you want to be?
If not, what is stopping you?

I was not a nice individual last year. I was not a happy individual last year, either. I think the two are most certainly related. A mobius strip of How Not to Lead One's Life.

Three weeks ago, I made a specific change in my life towards becoming a better person. This week, I will make another change. In June/July, I will make another change. I think gradually, I can become the wife, mother, person that I want to be.

I want to be the sort of mother I want my children to have and it heartens me to know that my children will never remember what a mean, little person I can be. I fervently hope they never see that side of me again.

I hope I never do, as well.

May 9, 2008

Where is me, mama? Where is me?

Obviously, Arun needs to work a bit on his grammar and sentence structure.

Just some quick snippets about the kids to fulfill my much-neglected Mommyblogging Duties:

Arun: Oh my, he is SO MUCH FUN these days. I just love hanging out with him and talking. Or rather, letting him do the talking. It is fascinating to see what is lurking in that hairy noggin of his. Currently, he is obsessed with his sister, trains, animals, puzzles (he can work a 12 piece set all by himself, but still needs help on the borders with 25 piece sets). In particular, he is really taken with spiders - he loves his spider books and can identify all sorts of them now (jumping, tarantulas, water, crab, black widow, garden...). He constantly asks to see videos of spiders on our computers and every trip outside turns him into the Great Spider Hunter. Fortunately, he was blessed with a mother who is equally fascinated by creepy crawlies and even bought him a bug catching kit and is crazy enough to go chasing after said creepy crawlies with a set of orange plastic tongs.

A few weeks ago, he pedaled a tricycle for the first time all by himself and that same week, he did Show n' Tell at school for the first time. I cried both times. What a gift and privilege it has been to see my baby grow into a boy.

Anjali: She is still rolling all over the place, can get herself into a sitting position by herself now and is desperately trying to crawl. These efforts fight with her desire to stand. She LOVES to stand. And anything that Arun is doing? Is precisely what she would like to be doing. Drinking out of a cup? Sitting on a riding toy? Playing with trains? Eating a peanut-laden granola bar? She's all over that stuff. And NO, I was so not happy to find her excitedly mawing down on one of Arun's granola bars she found on the floor. Anyway.... Music still gets her going and she tries to dance now and she is quite the clapper. She can wave bye-bye (not always in context). What shocks me the most is that she is already trying to talk. She can repeat a variety of sounds ("Uh-oh", for example). Arun was such a late talker that I did not realize that babies could even begin imitating sounds this early.

Overall, things have been going really well with both kids. It was such rough going in the beginning to have them so close together, but all that stress is now paying off. They love hanging out together. Also, Anjali has not hit that separation anxiety phase like Arun did and I think it is because when I leave a room, Arun is usually still there with her and hence, she is not alone.

Lately, I have really enjoyed taking them to places just the three of us. This week, we went to the Deanna Rose Farmstead and it was so relaxing. We meandered around the farm, petted some animals, did the wagon ride, and hung out in the playground. We also went to the Legends to see the fountains and the T-Rex restaurant. As always, we are hanging out in our front yard nearly every day now. Just sitting in the grass, enjoying the breezes.

It is so peaceful to just sit and watch my children excitedly explore their surroundings. And that, to me, is what motherhood is about.

May 6, 2008

Where do the buffalo roam?

Oddly, I have not seen too many mommybloggers talk about the gal who let her 9 year old ride a NYC subway all by himself. When I first saw the news "break", I thought for sure, moms would have gotten all fired up over this. But, no. In reading articles about the story, I found that the gal, Lenore Skenazy, has a blog called Free RangeKids. Hip, hip hooray! Finally, finally, someone is speaking some common sense for a change, instead of spewing the usual media-induced paranoiac nonsense. The following paragraph is typical of Skenzay's mantra:
I’ve been doing a lot of radio interviews and I turn into a self-righteous bore when the host inevitably asks, “How could you let your son take the subway alone?”

I quote crime stats that show a child is 40 times more likely to die in a car accident than by being abducted. I appeal to common sense. I remind people that a couple of generations back, a 9-year-old probably would have had a part-time job. And then I ask the interviewer, “Didn’t you get to run around and do things by yourself when you were a kid?”

“Sure!” comes the answer, but “times have changed.” Once they get that out of the way, they go in for the kill: “How would you have felt if something DID happen to your son?”


So much for my years of media training.

What I really want to say is: “Terrible! Earth-shaken! I’d be cursing God — and especially the radio hosts who asked Him to zap my son just to teach me a lesson! But, Mr. Fulminator, sir, don’t you see there’s something sick about immediately and endlessly envisioning the very worst? Isn’t that the very definition of paranoia? And isn’t it wrong to teach kids that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, that they can’t trust their community, and that it is better for them to live a virtual life inside, where life is programmed, than a real life, outside, where they can glory in the wonders of the world? Are you ever going to let your kid GROW UP?”

That’s what I’d like to be able to get out, but it sounds a little hysterial and it’s not exactly pithy. So if you have any amazing zingers that really seem to open people’s eyes (or shut their mouths), we are all eager to hear them.

And even more eager to start using them.

Truly, this is one of my favorite new blogs. Like many folks my age ("forever young"....Ahem.), I grew up having the run of wherever I lived at the time. When I was 3, we lived in Kansas City and I was allowed free roam on our side of the street (i.e. no crossing the street). When I was 5, we lived in the country and our neighbors were literally, over a MILE away. It was a tad shorter to go through the pasture to their house. May I note that we live in Kansas which is rife with rattlesnakes and copperheads? Then, when I was 7ish, we moved into town (pop. 1,000) and I had the run of the complete town on my bike (sans helmet!) When my sister was 3, she was allowed complete freedom outside as long as she did not cross the street. I would happily cross the street as she sobbed at the corner begging me to come back. Ah, the memories! When I was 9, we moved back to the country. My playmates lived several miles from me via a shortcut - through the woods. I could go on about my freedoms as a kid, but you get the drift.

Arun is well over 2 now and is allowed out in our backyard by himself. The back of our house is full of windows, so we can see him quite easily. In general, he is not allowed out front by himself, but I do see him being allowed out there in the next year or so. When we are out and about at parks and the zoo, etc. I do let Arun to get far enough away from me that he is out of my arms' reach. This never fails to drive folks Crazy With Judgment. I resent this because realistically, some random stranger is not going to scoop my kid up right in front of me and run for the zoo exit. Hello!

Truthfully, I am far, far more afraid of some nosy stranger or neighbor calling DCFS on our "negligent" asses than I am of some random stranger plucking our kid off of our sidewalk. I would be lying if I did not admit that I am absolutely terrified of DCFS (sadly, LagLiv would probably agree my fears are not unfounded.) However, I want to raise my children to be cautious, but not to be afraid to explore their world.

In this vein, I am getting ready to read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder and I suspect I will be touching on this topic again.