Friday, February 25, 2011

Dear Alice

Today you are 18 months old. When you woke up this morning, I went to pick you up and you hugged me and patted my back like you always do and said, "HIII MAMA!". You had somehow wriggled out of your diaper and were standing there bottomless under your nightgown. You were so warm and cuddly, and for a minute I was both amazed at how big you've gotten and how much you are still my baby. You still smell much the same as you did the day that I first held you and kissed your cheeks.

You have learned so much in 18 months. You now talk A LOT. You call Gabby "Gaggy" (which, in turn, I have used to call her Lady Gaga), and when she is not around, you say "Ere Gaggy?" and hold your hands out to the side in a kind of questioning shrug. You also say "Ere da dog?" a lot. You can't say "Sam" yet, but you really want to. He is one of your favorite people in the world right now, and as I see it, will probably remain that way forever. He is very gentle and sweet to you, and you respond in kind....most of the time. The other day I walked into the living room, and you were sitting on his stomach, pulling his hair. He was just letting you. I told him to make you stop, and he said, "She's just having fun."

You are a very good eater. Your favorite foods are things that are covered in some sort of tomato sauce. You love pasta and chicken enchiladas probably best, but you also really enjoy chips and salsa. We have taken lots of pictures of you dipping chips because we think it is so cute. You also have really developed a taste for peas and black beans and corn on the cob. You will pretty much try anything once. The only thing that we have found that you hate is eggplants. You will even eat mushrooms, much to the chagrin of your brother and sister who hate them and have tried to teach you to do the same.

Your favorite shows right now are Dora, Fresh Beat Band and Yo Gabba Gabba. You love to dance, and like these shows because they have music that you can dance to. Your dancing is probably the best thing ever. You shake a lot and you smile really big and turn in circles. We joke that you could dance before you could walk, and that is true. You just keep getting better at it. The other night, you danced for a good 30 minutes straight to David Bowie. You seemed to really like "Fame."

Your favorite toys are all balls right now. You are obsessed with them. Wherever we go, you have to get a ball. The other day we were in Old Navy, and you found a volleyball and carried it around for the rest of our day (I had to buy it of course). You like to kick the balls and yell "BALLLLL" at the top of your lungs. I have to say, you are a pretty good little kicker. You can run and kick at the same time, which takes a lot more coordination than I have ever had. You can also kick it at someone, and you like that a lot. Gabby and Sam like to sit in the floor with you and roll the balls back and forth while I fix dinner. We are all excited for spring to get here so that you guys can start doing this outside. I have even purchased a trunk organizer for my car so that you can take your balls to Sam's baseball games and play with them outside.

Alice, the best thing about you, by far, however, is your joy. You attack the world with more joy than any person I've ever seen. Your father and I were talking the other night about how all of our kids have been happy babies, but you are by far the happiest. You always have a smile on your face, and you are always looking for fun. I adore this about you, and I hope that it never changes. I want to see you explore life the way you do now--even if it means dumping baking soda in the floor and doing snow angels in it (which is what you did a few nights ago). I hope that never changes. You have made our family stronger and happier, just by being here and being yourself. You are, in short, amazing, and we all adore you.

Despite the fact that I am going to have to buy a truckload of Magic Erasers to clean the walls of the house if we ever move. Lord, child. Someday, you will owe me something nice. I like shoes.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Belt it Out

Because of renewed dedication to looking like a decent human being most of the time, I have found myself trying to spice up my wardrobe with accessories. This includes belts. For the vast majority of my life (well, ok, up until about a month ago), belts were "them things what keeps your pants up." I would have one or two belts in my collection, usually brown or black and pretty nondescript. In fact, for a very long time, I purchased these reversible brown on one side/black on the other belts at Target and used those. And they were for keeping the pants up. Nothing more.

However, now I want to do more with them. I purchased a sparkly one to update my black dresses with at Christmas, and liked it ok, although I felt that it sometimes made me look lumpier. This, of course, had nothing to do with the fact that I had gained 15 pounds because of living on a diet of basically nothing but butter and sugar. No, nothing to do with that. Totally the belt's fault. I have since worn it a few times with black pants or with my black pencil skirt. Nothing major, just a bit of eye candy.

This weekend, however, I purchased two more belts with this grand idea to belt everything. I got a nice, wide brown bohemian looking thing and a skinny pink belt that I see myself rocking with brightly colored pencils in the spring. I was most jazzed about the brown belt because I could mostly see it with the dress I also purchased. I also thought I would use it to jazz up my longer cardigans for the end of winter/early spring. But then, I realized. I wear mostly black. A dark brown belt cannot be used with black pants, amirite? So, BELT FAIL. Well, I guess not totally a fail. I can wear it with that dress. And I'm pretty sure I'll acquire a few more garments between now and WHEN I DIE that can appropriately be paired with a boho looking brown belt.

So this morning I tried the skinny sparkly belt over my long v-neck cardi from Loft (I am basically wearing this with a black pencil skirt, tights, and heeled Mary Janes). It looked, in a word, awful. Kind of lumpy and dumpy and just not quite right. I took it off, of course. Now, after looking through a bunch of "belt over cardigan" Google images, I realize that maybe I should have left my cardigan unbuttoned (like Michelle, above). Or that the problem may lie in my pencil skirt, which has now become a tinge too big in the waist (prime belting area).

Whatever the case is, however, I just don't know if I'm a "belter." I want to be, my goodness do I want to be, but for some reason, I'm just not doing it right. Perhaps I was born this way. Perhaps my parents received a card when I was born that said, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT PUT A BELT ON THIS KID" and I was never told about it. Or, perhaps I am not really putting enough effort into this whole thing and am getting discouraged and sad with myself for something silly.

So what say you? Are you a "belter?" Can you teach me? Can we be best friends? I will show you how to bake bread and apply liquid eyeliner if you're into that kind of thing. Or I could tutor your kid for the SAT. Tit for tat, you know. Or is an unteachable skill and I will die someday, cold and alone, and my tombstone will read, "Here lies Morgan. She was pretty narcissistic and she couldn't belt a cardigan. What a bitch."

I apologize for the title. I'm pretty sure that if you googled (and I'm much, much too lazy to actually do this) you would find about 756 fashion blog posts where someone has belted something and now wants you to see. And they would probably be standing in a field, throwing leaves over their head, standing pigeon toed and looking forlorn. Which brings me to my next point: Why are you reading this anyway when you could be looking at that?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Little Miss Type A

So at Weight Watchers this week, I lost 3.8 pounds! HOLLA. I was super excited, especially when my leader commented on how well I've been doing and how I seem to be the most "determined" person in any of her meetings. She goes, "You're a little Type A, aren't you?" And I said, "Have you met me?!?"

Anyway, I got my 5% star, which is big and shiny and pink and currently on the drawer of my desk where I keep the dark chocolate almonds and the Smart Balance popcorn.

It is funny--I have started to notice the weight loss in places. Most notably my boobs (my bras are getting a bit big) and my calves. Last night I went to the FasMart to get a couple of Diet Cokes and a caramello for Matt (I was going to watch the Amanda Knox movie on Lifetime and had to have a Diet Coke which is normally contraband in the house for me), and I was wearing my capri length yoga pants. I stood and looked at myself in the glass door for a good while, admiring my calves. Enough to where it was probably pretty creepy for the other denizens of the FasMart. And then today I zipped up my boots and noticed they felt quite a bit looser than they had last time I wore them. Which is funny. In the past, the only way I've been able to lose anything in my ginormo calves is by coverting the fat to muscle through running. I haven't done near enough exercise, and yet they are receding. I kinda hope that the calves chill for a bit, and we can concentrate on my love handles!

Anyway, it has been a great week. For those of you who are on WW (and even if you are not), I will share a great link that I have found this week. Danica's Daily is a great resource for recipes and other points friendly ideas. Danica basically photographs everything she eats and logs it. I made her healthy au-gratin potatoes last night and they were BETTER than the nonhealthy version I normally make. Plus, she seems very relatable, and super nice. So check it out, and good luck on the scale to everyone!

OOTD: Transitional Style

This is another example of me trying to develop a transitional wardrobe. If you are like me, you are SICK TO DEATH of all your winter togs, and while the afternoons are definitely getting warmer, there is a definite chill in the mornings. So you can't jump right into those sundresses just yet.
Over the weekend, I went into Old Navy, mostly spurred by March's Real Simple magazine. In their page of Finds Under $50, they had a picture of this jacket. I really had to go give it a look for a few reasons--1) I need something a bit more casual than a trench that I can wear on the weekends when running around with my kids, 2) I need something in more of a neutral color than the bright coral trench I already have, and 3) I have a great J. Crew army jacket that is now too big that I'd like to find a replacement for. I found the jacket, and it was on sale for $29.70 in store. SCORE. I took it home without trying it on and thought I'd bring it back if it didn't work.
I really, really like this jacket. It is comfortable, and I like the style of it. There is enough detailing (utility pockets, drawstring waist, flowered placket) to where it stands out, but it is not done in a way to where it looks ludicrous. The length is also good--about the length of a standard trench which means this will stand up well to all kinds of weather and pants silhouettes. And for $30? ME LIKEY. (Note that it doesn't seem to be on sale on the website, so if you are interested, I'd go in a store.)
I also bought this dress. When I bought it, I could see it with a wide brown belt, with my denim jacket and a scarf, with leggings and purple flats, with my Frye's (this is my new requirement for buying shit, BTW...I have to be able to visualize it in at least 3 outfits). I tried it on this morning to just see how daring I wanted to be seasonwise, and am not sure how I'm going to rock it. I'm going to have to play with the belt idea--it is going to have to be a high belt, I think, which I'm not sure about. But I think it is a versatile piece, and it is darn patootin' cute. Very spring-y, and will be nice for traveling, I think, given that it already has a slightly worn, gauzy, wrinkly feel.
Back to today....
Sweater dress: Old Navy (The Grimace all about it here)
Tights: Merona for Target
Boots: Merona for Target
Necklace: American Eagle (Crew fireball dupe)
Watch: Merona for Target (picked up on clearance this weekend after reading about all the love on Fabulous Florida Mommy's blog)
I am taking my daughter and her BFF to see Justin Bieber's movie tonight. With all the sickness, plus Valentine's parties, plus school dances, we have had to postpone the Bieberness, but we're getting it all done tonight...on cheap movie night! (I conveniently left out this fact when asking the girls if they wanted to go on Tuesday.) Gabby says I am well dressed because purple is Justin Bieber's favorite color. WHICH YOU KNOW I TOTALLY PLANNED.
And a happy birthday to my mama, who is hella old today. Just one step closer to putting her in that rest home I've always dreamed about! (For any Wise Co. peeps, I've got it all planned out...that one beside of Payless in Coeburn. I'm going to have her panhandle during the day to make a little extra scratch. Who needs a hefty 401k when you have an able bodied elder?)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter

First off, I should say that Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a book for people who are parents and who have some sort of an interest in gender politics and what that means in their role as parent. It is not for kids who are into blood lust. My kids found this book on the couch one morning and thought it was something very, very different.
As a mother of two girls who worries on the regular about the kind of things that they are exposed to, I found this to be a very good, worthwhile book. It detailed things that I worry about and came to conclusions that were smart, interesting and not preachy. I really liked that Orenstein wrote like an informed, but delightfully imperfect parent. One particular passage where she writes about a trip to Target and feeling very, very unsure as how to proceed when her daughter wants a fairy-winged Barbie was particularly relatable and interesting. I also liked that she used the lens of the princess phenomenon to write about other aspects of "girly-girl" culture that I find disturbing/worrisome. In short, this is not just a book about how to deal with Disney--it is more of a book on girlhood as a whole. Her writing is clear and pleasant, much like what you would find on a well-written and friendly blog. She also displays a very empathetic vibe and nice view of things. There is no outright comdemnation of people others would find repugnant (the chapter on child beauty pageants comes to mind)--she seems to generally look for positives when negatives seem to abound.
We escaped the princess phenomenon with Gabby, although we should have been immersed in it totally. The Disney Princesses debuted in 2000, and Gab was born in 1999. My cousin's daughter was born in 2000 and was totally covered up in the stuff. However, Gabby never really showed an interest, and I'm not exactly sure how that happened. A lot of it, I guess, is Gabby's personality. She is just not the princess type, I suppose, and never really has been. Even as a very young child, she seemed put off by extremely girly things, preferring things that were unisex (for instance, she had a long-running obsession with Blues Clues). We owned a few Disney items--on VHS, if you can believe it--but it was nowhere near an obsession, and to be honest, I don't really remember much about it. In fact, I only became aware of Disney as a brand when Gabby got into the Disney channel and Miley and all of that stuff, a stage that we have thankfully left behind.
Although a lot of this I attribute to Gab's particular "Gabby-ness" (as my mom calls it), some of it, I think is that she was a first child to a couple of very young parents. And because she was that, we saw her immediately as "one of us." I don't remember dressing her in a lot of pink, except during this one phase where she liked it a lot (around 3) and then it was eye-searing HOT PINK, and not the pastel Barbie-esque tones Orenstein writes about. Instead, we dressed her much as we dressed. For instance, during the year that Old Navy hocked those Performance Fleece vests, we all had one, and sported them together (which is just asking to be documented on Awkward Family Photos). Gabby's was turquoise, not pink. She wore jeans a lot, and little corduroys, and graphic tees with pictures of people that Matt and I liked--superheroes, The Rolling Stones, a jedi or two. There wasn't so much of an emphasis on her being "our little girl" but rather on her being part of the whole, part of our young, emerging family. When we went to college, she did too, and I look back and realize that she very much dressed and looked the part.
Fast forward to now, 11 years later, with Big Al. Now that we have seen how fast our Gabby has grown, I think that we have resisted her being "one of us" just yet. Therefore, I have noticed a lot more pink in the ole wardrobe, and instead of little jeans, we're doing a lot more dresses (although mostly of the comfy, Hanna Andersson variety). This was especially true of Alice pre-12 mo. Now, with the walking and daily destruction, I have found myself doing a lot more BabyGap yoga pants (we have at least 4 pairs and counting) with various BabyGap tees. But whatever we put on her, I notice that it is much more childlike, much more in keeping with the age. Although I will admit to buying her a pair of skinny jeans and boots (much like my own), my favorite Alice buys have been a red tutu and her pink striped daydress. There is a certain wonderment in her personality, a certain je ne sais quoi that forces me to look at her as a baby. And I want to keep her that way.
And, of course, Matt calls Alice "Princess" on a regular basis. I'm not sure how it happened--he never called Gabby "Princess." (He also, inexplicably, calls Alice "Baby Nut" and has since her birth, but we'll not get into that one.) In fact, when this book arrived from Amazon, Matt took one look at it and said, "I'm going to have to quit doing that, aren't I?" At first, I laughed. Now, after reading the book, I agree that he does. I feel that because we love our "baby," we are in very near danger of turning her into a "princess." And that is not what I want.
This book does a nice job, I feel, of not only elucidating the problems with "princess culture," but also tying them to other things (the Twilight phenomenon, for instance, and I promise, this will be the first and last time you'll see those words on this blog--even 11 year old Gabby read about half of one book and goes, "The writing's kinda bad, Mom."). And, surprisingly, it ties things up very nicely at the end and gives you concrete ways to avoid this stuff, something I found very helpful since I have come to terms with what we could be capable of foisting on Alice. I feel more informed having read it, and more able to talk with both girls about some of the issues. No, I'm not instituting some kind of Disney ban for Alice (because that would be damn near impossible since my brother in law is getting married at Disney World in a few months--another story for another time), but I am going into the whole thing more mindfully and more aware than I was before. And the book helped me to have a conversation with Gabby about Ke$ha the other night, one in which I acknowledged the fact that the songs were catchy, but that they did not stand for things that I found important or role model worthy in being a girl.
I encourage you to pick up the book (if anyone is super interested, they can email me and I can loan it to you), and read it. Although you may not find it as helpful as I have (Amazon reviews point me to a few folks who weren't pleased), it is definitely an interesting read for those of us with awesome, interesting, and delightfully Un-Princess-y girls.

Friday, February 18, 2011

OOTD: Does this work?

So it is the quiet before the storm in my office. Our big meeting starts at 11:30, but everything has been done--folders stuffed and artfully arranged on the table, lunch reservations made, offices cleaned with every thing filed and ready. I am just sitting here, calmly drinking from my klean kanteen and waiting on the swarm of higher ups to come in and scrutinize the numbers for the past 6 years (which yes, I had nothing to do with, since I started working here last November). Oh well. That's higher education for you...what are you gonna do?

Yesterday, I posted a question to Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen which is where I go to ask all questions both fashion and life related. Why is the sky blue? Does this skirt match these heels? Where do babies come from? All fair game, since Allie basically taught me how to dress when I had just graduated from college and thus MADE MY LIFE. I asked her if she would think I was rushing the season a bit if I went bare legged today. On February 18th. The whole idea seems ludicrous, since it should not be 72 degrees on February 18th. But it is, so I asked.

She said that it was ok, since I am wearing all black everywhere else. And, she didn't say this, but I want to add that if I had tried to put tights on, my legs would have broken out in huge, scaly hives because winter is really grating on me right now, and I want it to be spring because it is acting like spring and if winter sneaks back on us, it is going to be twice as hard as it was before to muster the strength to live.

So, what say you, venerable readers? How do you deal with unseasonable weather? Dress for the temp, no matter the month? Or the month, no matter the temp? It should be noted that I am also rocking my coral trench, which I think, looks amazing with my turquoise-y necklace.

Jersey turtleneck--Merona for Target (such a great purchase this was--great quality, inky color, perfect weight...and $10)
Pencil skirt--J. Crew Factory
Turquoise bib necklace (this is a great piece, but all of the pictures I took of it made me look goofy)--Gap Outlet
Black croco peep toes--BCBG (old!)
Silver hoops--Sam got them for me for Christmas

Another question--does anyone else have this issue where their hair looks one way in their bathroom, and quiet another once they arrive at work? I think the air in here is really dry or something, but my hair was pin straight and silky at home, and then I get here and it is suddenly fluffier, with a bit of a wave. Still feels nice, and is not horrible, but definitely different than at the house. One of my coworkers says that our building is a "sick" building because people get a lot of headaches in here. I have always said it is not the building, but rather the people (har har), but maybe there is something to it....

I hope everyone is having a great Friday and is less stressed than I am! Friday should be fun--parties on the Sunken Gardens, lunches at the Cheese Shop--not BIG MEETING, right? I wish everyone in the world had gone to my college and maybe there would be no Friday meetings ever!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Security Blanket Wear

Basically everyone in my house is sick right now, in varying degrees. Gabby has been home from school the last two days with a cold, laying in her bed and posting "I'M SOOOO BORED" to Facebook approximately 6 times a day with her iPod Touch. Sam has woken up the last two mornings with a stuffy nose, but has soldiered through and went on to school anyway, mostly to prove to everyone that he is tougher than Gabby. Alice was up almost all night last night with a fever and runny nose, but got up this morning with a smile on her face. Matt has something, and it is hard to figure out exactly what. On one hand, it could be a faint cold, a slight sore throat in the morning and some general nose runniness and sneezing during the day. Or it could be that he has cholera and had his arm severed from his body last night in his sleep, sans anesthesia. Because he would act about the same if afflicted by either one of these. LIKE HIS WORLD IS CRUMBLING AROUND HIM.

Because Alice was up last night, so was I. So today I am tired. Like tired in this way that I don't think you can ever understand until you have a child who in sickness, finds herself addicted to breastmilk and Yo Gabba Gabba. My poor boobs! I'm pretty sure that the next time they hear Alice sneeze, they're going to send me a text that says, "Peacing out, BITCH. Call us when you decide to sell that baby to gypsies."

I wanted to stay home today like so bad, but we are having a major meeting tomorrow and I knew that if I called in my boss and my boss's boss would collectively have a heart attack at the same time. So in the interest of keeping everyone as healthy as possible, I pried myself off of my flannel sheets and into the shower. Now, I mentioned yesterday that I have done well this week as far as clothes go, but today I just wasn't feeling it. So I reached for the ubiquitous black pants and my new denim jacket. Which, no, is not work appropriate, but I spent the past 6 hours wondering how many bongs a day Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo smokes. Don't judge.

I got my first denim jacket when I was in the 7th grade. It was a Christmas present, and went with a black velvet mini-skirt, a pair of thick tights, a ribbed turtleneck, and a black hat. It was the 90's, ya'll. I loved that thing. I wore it until I got too big for it and I wore it with everything. My favorite outfit in 8th grade was the denim jacket, a shiny silk button down shirt, a flowered maxi skirt that I bought at Gadzooks in the mall and my navy blue Doc Martens. Pair with Hard Candy dark plum lipstick (MATTE, BITCHES), and you are looking....fierce? In fact, this is the only outfit that I can think of that I owned that didn't involve JNCO's. So kudos to me on that one.

My second denim jacket I got when I was a sophomore in college. This was the time in my life when I was probably the poorest of wardrobe, and I got really good use from it. I had this pair of black Gap wool pants and a black Gap wool skirt that I alternated almost every day. I also had several button downs, a W&M hoodie, and a smattering of t-shirts and maybe two pairs of corduroys. That was pretty much my wardrobe during the school year. The denim jacket tied it all together, and kept me from looking homeless. I kept wearing that thing as I acquired more wardrobe pieces, and often wore it in Cali over simple dresses with a scarf and boots. I loved the look--a little soft, a little rough, pulled together. I especially loved that the jacket showed its age well, kind of like the jacket form of Liam Neeson. I even rocked the jacket over a dress look when leaving the hospital with Alice. When I finally shrunk out of it last year, I was heartbroken. It still hangs in my closet, albeit toward the back, in a place of honor.

I saw another denim jacket at the J. Crew Factory store while in Gatlinburg for my birthday, and of course, scooped it up. I had my doubts at first--the other two jackets were from the Gap, and I briefly doubted if the mystique could cross brands--but then I put it on. And the feeling was back. It just felt like ME. I could see me wearing it over dresses to toughen them up a bit, with black pants and a funky printed scarf (which is what I'm wearing right now), even with a pencil skirt to make the look more easygoing and accessible. I have especially imagined with with the new gingham button down and wild orchid colored pencil that I am loving for spring. There is just something about the look, and something about the feeling of the jacket on my arms on a windy day, on a pleasant summer night, in the pale spring sun, that I just really like. And that makes me feel secure. Perhaps that is why I reached for it today. On a day when I am stressed and nearly overwhelmingly tired, the familiar is just what I need.

What are your closet "security blankets"? What do you find yourself reaching for when you need something to get through the day? Better said, I guess, what feels like you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OOTD: Fuck yeah, Spring!

I am really trying to be better about dressing myself. I had really gotten into a rut, and I think it was affecting my mood and how I felt about my weight loss. So, this week I have done well. Actually, both Monday and Tuesday I wore black dresses, and you'd be amazed how much better I feel. I think I am a dress person after all. And yes, my 11 year old self, the girl who wore overalls and an Atlanta Braves jersey seemingly nonstop, just puked all over her copy of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry when I wrote that.

And, ladies, it sure don't hurt that spring has come and set up shop in Hillbilly-land, VA. Yessireebobcat, it is 60 degrees outside. Which feels like 90. Give me that bikini and hand me a mai-tai because I'm about to go SUN myself.

(The lady in the cubicle outside of my office just told me that her dentist said it is supposed to snow next week. I told her to get another dentist. Because anybody who spreads outright lies like that is sure to get a pointy dentist tool to the eye.)

Anyway, here is my outfit today. I got this trench coat at the Gap Factory Outlet when I was in Gatlinburg for my birthday. I orginally was going to get a khaki version, but I love this pink. It just sings "SPRING" to me. And Lord knows I need to hear that song on repeat.
Trench: Gap Outlet
Chambray button down: Lands End Canvas
Sparkly belt: Merona for Target
Shoes: Jessica Simpson
Earrings: J Crew Factory via Dr. Drama
The jacket looks a tinge wrinkly in that first picture and that is probably because I've been sitting on it today. Classy. Yes. I'm actually qualifying this just in case my mom ever finds this blog because I don't think she'll care about the cursing or the oversharing or the sex talk. She will call me, though, and tell me to iron my clothes. This is the same woman who once told me she would call social services on someone who didn't iron their children's clothes. I think she has softened her stance on this just a bit (on our recent trip, she only spent 18% of our total time together ironing, as opposed to 25% last year) (just kidding), but still, I wouldn't cross her. She also once swerved to hit a man standing beside Highway 460 in Central VA and tells the tale with a smile on her face. Creeeeepy.
Anyway, I hope it is similarly warm wherever you are and you are dressed accordingly. Slough off those sweaters, girls. It's time to rock.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weight Watchers Update

So I removed .6 lb. this week.

With the whole scheme of things (Valentine's Day yesterday, having to order out Mexican food one night this week, a monthly friend who showed up unannounced this morning), it is not that bad. I could have gained .6, I suppose. Or not lost anything at all. Still, I was hoping for more. The sad thing about the whole thing is that when I was bigger, the weight came off faster. There was more of it, and it literally felt like it fell away. Now, that is not the case. So there's that. I suppose it is the determined Capricorn in me, but I want to see measurable results. And I want to see them now.

I think I am also in a sour mood because my meeting today kind of blew. You know, I looked up at the group of ladies who had congregated there and I felt like I should probably just leave. But I stayed because I feel it is important to stay for meetings. I wish that I hadn't. Today's meeting was a good one--all about what kind of foods that you buy and use--but the meeting itself was made up of a bunch of old, Southern women, their white hair all done up in Granny fro's, wearing sweatpants. When I walked over in my leopard print peep toes, there was an audible hush, almost a collective sigh that I was crashing the party as they all talked about their knee problems and their inability to understand the Points Plus plan. My meeting leader called everyone to order and started talking about kitchens. A few of the ladies scoffed that they never go into their kitchens if they can help it. Which is fine, you know. You don't cook? Cool. I don't sew. Anyway, as the meeting went on, the leader talked about the kitchen being a minefield and I raised my hand and said that I struggled with this because I like to bake so much and it is hard to keep from baking things for baking's sake and then having them laying around all week. When I said this, this woman in the front loudly scoffed and goes, "I don't have time to have that problem." And I fumed for the rest of the meeting.

Look lady. I have three kids, one of which still nurses and wears cloth diapers, another of which has dance class two evenings a week and competitions on the weekends and another of which is an active 7 year old boy. I work full-time, and I have a commute. I keep my house clean, I prepare nearly every bite that my kids put in their mouths, and I do all of the shopping. I spend a lot of the rest of my time making sure that I'm teaching my kids something, since they go to public school and don't really get the stuff they need there. I also squeeze in the time to go running every now and then so that I don't resemble a human pile of mashed potatoes in a pair of purple sweatpants LIKE SOMEONE I SEE HERE.

Ok, now I feel better. I think that is what I needed.

Anyway, my meeting is not usually like that--usually it is a nice mix of youngish stay at home mom's and people on their lunch breaks from work. Everyone is usually really supportive and sweet to each other, and although I am one of the younger ones, I never feel out of place. This week, there was just a lot of negative energy. I don't know what the deal was. The meeting itself was kind of meh too because people brought in their favorite foods and meals, and our leader's consisted of a box of Hamburger Helper chicken fried rice (that she prepares without the oil and the egg) and a bottle of sugar free pancake syrup which she pours over steamed carrots for instant "Japanese carrots". BLECH. So I found myself feeling rebellious again, in that same railing against the faux foods way. You know how I do. I felt pretty inadequate with my contributions to the discussion too--a bag of ready washed spinach (throw it on sandwiches! in smoothies!) and a plastic yogurt cup from my yogurt maker. You should have seen some of the faces when I mentioned that I make my own yogurt. I might as well have casually mentioned that I also shit in a hole in my backyard.

So overall, I'm a bit down with the whole thing, but I'm still truckin' on. Send me good vibes this week! I will need them to stay on track.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick Tips on How To Become a Fabulous Maxxinista (Like Myself)

I'll just go ahead and admit that I am not one for "hard shopping." "Hard shopping" is what I call any kind of shopping where you have to dig through things to find what you need/want. This can mean shopping from clearance racks, Goodwill, consignment stores or Ross. I know there are great deals to be had, but 85% of the time, I don't have the energy to wade through the crap to find them. As horrible as it may sound, I would much rather pay more and get things from a nice orderly rack where I can find my size easily, see a corresponding piece beside of it, and leave happy.

However, I do go to TJ Maxx every couple of weeks. It is right beside of our Target, so a lot of the time, I will go to Target, load up on toothpaste and laundry detergent, grab a drink at Starbucks (grande nonfat latte, extra hot!), and then walk down to TJ Maxx. I don't always find something. In fact, most of the time, I don't. But I enjoy my time there. And when I strike it big, honey, I strike it GINORMOUSLY LARGE (more on that in a bit).

The thing about shopping at TJ's though (and becoming a certified, card-carrying Maxxinista) is that you have to have a plan. Go in alone, and you're just asking to leave with a knock-off purse, a mixing bowl, and a stroller. Here are my tips for how to get in and get out with what you want/need:

1. Scout your store and see what their high points are. I have always had great luck with dresses and shoes at my TJ Maxx. Now, these go in and out--sometimes they will have one rack of dresses, sometimes they will have 20 racks. But they always seem to have good quality here, and a nice range of sizes. Shoes are the same. Some stores get great shoes, some get the shoes that God forgot. My mom swears that her TJ Maxx in Memphis doesn't get good dresses, but she can find cheap namebrand work out gear there. Another friend of mine finds cheap, namebrand bras at hers. You will probably need to go in a couple of times to just see what seems to be stocked the best and where the best range of sizes are.

2. Once you know what the high points are, go in the store and only look at those items. It is easy to get sidetracked in a store like this. Last time I was there, I saw some cute black Michael Kors pants near the front, paired with a fly-away cardigan and a silky shell. At first I thought, BULLS EYE. But then I looked at the pants, and realized they were a silhouette that wouldn't flatter me. And the shirt and cardigan were not from a namebrand that I knew of and looked to be made of polyester. Time to move on. I went on to the dresses, and found exactly what I needed. Had I not had a plan, I might have been tempted by the other stuff, to try it on and force it to work because of the good price. However, I knew what I was after, so I kept my eyes on the prize. EYES ON THE PRIZE, PEOPLE. EYES ON THE PRIZE.

3. Know the name brands you can expect and that you like and do not settle for anything less. TJ Maxx (and other stores of its ilk) sell lots of brands. A lot are great--the same brands you might find in Macy's or Nordstrom. A lot are not. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find those brands anywhere but a TJ Maxx. For instance, I know when I go in that I am looking for Calvin Klein (I like their simple cuts and lines) and Maggy London/London Times (these just fit and flatter a woman's--ANY woman's--body) dresses. If I see something is cute but not one of these namebrands, I'm likely to take a pass. Why? Isn't that elitist? Yes, probably. But I like to spend my money on things I'm pretty sure will not fall apart in the wash or expose my left boob if I move to the side. Shoes are the same--I have personally bought Enzo Angiolini's and BCBGeneration's at TJ Maxx, and those are pretty much what I look for. If I'm not aware of the brand, it is not going home with me. Basically I look for the same brands I would look for, were I in a higher end store.

4. Try everything on. My TJ Maxx has a plethora of fitting rooms, so there's no excuse. They are not exactly posh, but you can fit a stroller in there if you need to (believe me, I know). If you want to buy it, you must try it on. Why, you wonder? Well, if it made it to TJ Maxx, there might be some intrinsic flaw in its design. It could be that it just fits funny for some unknown reason. Case in point: found this great Calvin Klein dress there a couple of months ago and was super jazzed to try it on. I put it on and the area around the self belt was lumpy. I don't know why. And it didn't look like it would simply iron out. I couldn't justify buying a dress (although the length and neckline were perfection) if it was going to make me look like I had tumors on my side. So back it went. Know this: for every winner you find, there is an equal and opposite loser. So plan accordingly.

5. Don't get sidetracked with the price. Yes, things are going to be cheaper, and there is going to be a tag that says "Originally $119. TJ Maxx price: $30!!!" If it's ugly, it doesn't matter if they give it to you with $5 strapped to the back of it. It's still ugly. Don't buy it.

So now that you know my rules, here is how I became the most awesome Maxxinista EVER. I have been stalking LBD's on the internet since I took the Google Boutiques style quiz and found out that I was basically born to wear them. I have developed lists of them--work appropriate, wedding appropriate, funeral appropriate, daughter throws handful of spaghetti at you appropriate. I had found a Maggy London on that was perfect and planned to purchase it with birthday cash. Because I am anal in this way, I will only spend money on something like this actually with the earmarked cash. So no buying it and then paying myself back. Weird, I know. My mom says it is the accountant in me. ANYWAY, I waited and longed and did all the kinds of things that women used to do when their husband is off fighting a gorgon or something. And then I got the check, deposited it, and....the dress had sold out. I was heartbroken. The gorgon killed my husband! Woe is me!

So I stepped into TJ Maxx and found the most gorgeous London Times LBD. It is satiny, and seems to be the most like this, although I cannot find the exact match on the internet. And the fit...AMAZING (which is not something I could guarantee had I ordered online). I was so amazed to find the dress. And the price? Thirty freakin' dollars. Ya'll I have spent that much in a Walgreens just on stuff on a whim because I am bored! And this for a very nice, well-fitting LBD. I was amazed. So I bought it and a pair of BCBGeneration red patent peep toe heels (like here) for $40. So, for $70, I am outfitted in Valentine style, ready to break some hearts (well, maybe not really). The best part? This morning, Matt literally did a double take at me while I was making the kids lunches. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen that look on his face since the first time we went to the prom together. Especially funnily, the dress has an exposed zipper in the back, and he looked at it and said, "Um, that thing works doesn't it?" When I answered in the affirmative, he replied, "Well, I'm going to be thinking of that all day."

So, thanks TJ Maxx for making me look hot today for cheap! And thanks for turning my husband into a stammering, adolescent-esque mess!


I have always loved Valentine's Day. When I was a kid, I loved getting the little cards from my friends and reading way, way too much into each one. I remember one time I got a card from a boy saying something about me being cute, and I seriously thought Now, I'm pretty sure his mom just filled it out for him, and my love jones was strictly based on randomness. Since I also love chocolate (and have always had an affinity for the darkest stuff imaginable), my mom would always go buy me some truffles from this fancy store in the mall. I would sit on our big blue couch on Valentine's night and take tiny, tiny bites of them, trying to make them last forever. It is probably one of the best memories of my childhood.

Every year it bothers me more and more to hear so many people being anti-V-day. Yes, I get that it is commercialized. Yes, I get that it is winter and we are all in bad moods anyway and sure as hell don't need a fat kid in wings to make us feel inadequate in our love lives. But. It is a holiday that celebrates love. What is wrong with that? Love, while not being all we need (food, shelter, and a decent mascara stand up there as well), is, in a word, magical.

I don't consider myself an extremely romantic person. For instance, I didn't buy my husband a single thing for v-day, mostly because he said not to, and I knew that if there was something he wanted, he would just buy it for himself anyway. I asked him not to buy me anything, except for maybe a few truffles (!). However, I can't wait to get home. We are going to cook dinner together and share some wine and talk, sans TV, sans phone, sans children. My MIL is going to bring the kids home later, but for the moment, it will just be us, a time to celebrate our time together and the memories we have shared. No schlocky teddy bears, no Hallmark. Just time and slowness and love.

I encourage you to spend your day with the person (or persons) that you love. Even if it is not a spouse/significant other. Talk on the phone to your best friend, call your mom and laugh about the cards you used to give to people when you were a kid. Bake some brownies with a kid. Even if those people are fictional (Hey--I fucking love Law and Order and would gladly spend a holiday on the couch, celebrating my love for Lenny Briscoe) find someone whose face makes you happy and enjoy it. There is a lot of different kinds of love in this world, and it all makes the world go round. We should enjoy it, no matter what form it takes.

I have but one memory to share, something that is more funny than crazily romantic. The year that I met Matt, I was 15. We had just started dating on the 25th of January, and were still in that phase where every moment was spent in breathless anticipation of the other's next words. However, Matt also loved his trombone and was summoned away to a band concert/competition on Valentine's weekend. My mom tried to pick up the slack and took me out to get my hair cut and some other stuff. Turns out it was the worst.haircut.ever. I ended up with like this reverse mullett. And then, on the way home, I started hacking up a lung and developed what we would find out later was bronchitis. So, yeah, not my day. However, when we got home, Matt (or probably more appropriately, Matt's mom) had sent me a little bouquet with a teddy bear. It was the kind of thing you get when you are 15 and think you are the luckiest human being on the planet. I fell asleep that night, coughing crazily, wearing my Smashing Pumpkins "Zero" shirt and a pair of sweatpants, clutching the teddy bear like a 4 year old, my hair (which would be "repaired" two days later) in even worse tatters than before. My mom has the pictures to prove this.

I guess that's why I married the guy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Today I took my kids for a walk in the sun (!). We walked around the lake in town, stopping to pick up sticks and look at the ducks (well, Alice and I did...Sam, Gabby, Gabby's BFF Emily, and the dog ran ahead and did God knows what...). When we made it back to the starting point, the older kids asked if we could go to the "little lake" and look for animals. I said ok.

The "little lake" is actually a wetlands here in town. It is a piece of land that I know a lot about, as when I was in high school, I was part of a group that worked to build a learning center on it and keep it from becoming the home of the new softball field. The team has since gotten a lot of press--they have traveled all over the world and won countless awards. The learning center has been built (it was but a model and a dream when I was in high school), as well as a floating dock and a nice walkway. Pretty amazing for a small group of students from a tiny school in central Appalachia.

When the kids and I arrived, the older ones (and dog) took off on their own. Alice and I started padding around together, much as we had done at our other stop. She was walking in front of me and I was watching her funny Frankenstein-esque gait. But then, we got to the back side and all of a sudden I was just overcome. I found myself unable to talk or speak or really do anything at all but walk quietly and watch the striped legs of the toddler in front of me. It was just an overwhelming sense of place, of life, of movement of time.

I stood there and thought about the things that I had cared about in high school--the prom, getting into a good college, calculus. Things that I am almost embarassed to admit how much I cared about way back when. They have all fallen away like so many dead leaves. But this remains, this stays. I continued to thing about things I care about now--what size dress pants I wear, the brand of eyeliner I use, if Alice eats organic macaroni and cheese or not. Someday I will not care about these things and will perhaps laugh at my materialism, my needless fretting over the minutiae of life. But this will be here, a piece of me that blooms and dies and is reborn every year, a piece of gravel under a toddler's sneaker.

I am not a sentimental person. I do not scrapbook, do not have organized boxes in my garage of my children's clothing. I do not photograph every stage of their lives--in fact, my extended family often gets pissed at my lack of initiative when it comes to portraiture. I prefer to live in the present, to watch them grown and thrive in real time without concerning myself about how I will remember it in the future. But today, being there, feeling the frail warmth of the winter sun and hearing the happy voices of my children, I felt this amazing torrent of life just hit me in the face. This was the past and the future and the glorious, happy present right here. And it was an amazing, almost surreal experience.

Alice and I walked the perimeter of the wetlands three times before the older kids got exasperated with us and began calling and asking for us to please!hurry!up!. However, I remain transfixed by the moment there. And, perhaps even more miraculously, when I got back in the car, the muscle in my neck that is constantly tensed and has been since around my second year in college, through massages and spa treatments and countless evenings spent in my bathtub with a magazine and a glass of wine, was soft and pliable. It felt as if the years had fallen back, a black hole had opened up and I had emerged much the same as I had been when I was that kid who planted wetlands plants in a pair of silver birkenstocks and a tie dyed skirt, singing songs by the Dave Matthews Band.

It is not altogether a bad feeling.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's talk about SEX.

This morning I was late for work because I was having a quickie with my husband.

(If you are one of my parents and you have somehow found this blog, I will first apologize for the cursing. Second off, by "having a quickie" I mean, "drinking a chaste cup of chocolate milk and talking about the weather.")

I am thinking about this and, you know, oversharing on the internet about it because of an episode of Modern Family that I recently watched. First off, if you don't watch Modern Family, you are missing the best show on television. In fact, Matt and I have winnowed down our TV time a lot over the past year, but we are literally sitting in front of our tivo like excited little puppies, waiting for a new Modern Family each week. In this particular episode, two parents are caught in the act by their children. However, during the episode that follows, the kids come to the realization that although they are scarred by what they saw, ultimately they are happy that their parents still love each other and are still married (unlike a good deal of their friend's parents).

I can't state enough how important I think it is for two people who find themselves being "parents" all the time to still find time to be "spouses." I would use the word "lovers," but I find that word revolting (and may need some brain bleach since I just typed it there). However, I understand how hard it is to marry these two things. In fact, it can seem highly impossible at times. Especially when it comes to being sex-positive and sharing this with your kids.

I'll just go ahead and admit that everything I ever learned about sex, I learned through listening to Janet Jackson's Janet album. I bought that cd, ya'll, and all of a sudden I knew a) that I wanted to have boobs and have someone lovingly cup them someday and b) that whatever Janet was doing, I wanted to do that too. My mom didn't talk to me about sex, except in terms of "DON'T DO IT." I remember her telling me stories about people she knew in high school who had sex and what happened to them. It included a lot of pregnancy, divorce and misery. Therefore, I grew up thinking the feelings and desires I had (which were completely normal for a teenager like myself) were abnormal and horrible. And of course, when I ended up acting on these desires, I did it without protection (MUCH TOO EMBARSSING TO BUY CONDOMS AT RITE AID, GOD) and ended up pregnant. While being a teenage parent did not equal abject misery in my case, I want my kids to feel comfortable with their feelings and act on them in a responsible and adult way.

Which means that I need to talk to them about sex. And I'll just say that up until this point, I haven't done that like I should have. Because it is uncomfortable. Matt is actually better about this stuff than I am--he has talked to Sam about his "equipment" and answered his questions with appropriate terminology--"penis" and not "wee-wee" or whatever else people usually use. I have broached the subject of changing bodies a couple of times with Gabby and have been met with a stern avoidance. Gabby's personality renders her with an embarassment about the subject that makes a conversation nearly impossible. As Matt has said, she is probably the most naturally repressed person that he knows (not just about these subjects--many others too, and take it with a grain of salt since this is a man who once took a class on porn at Berkeley and wrote a huge published paper with the words "money shot" in the title).

Last night, Gab and I were talking about her school schedule. She mentioned she is in this thing called "Life Skills" which is all about self-esteem and stuff like that right now. I could tell where that was going, so I thought I saw my "in." I said, "Have you had a discussion about...what they life, yet?" And she hastily says no. Then she goes, "What's that?" So I say, "Well, it is when they talk to you about boys and girls and their differences and you talk about your body and that kind of thing...grumble, grumble..trail off." And that is when I realize...THIS SHIT IS HARD YA'LL. (tiny voice not meant to disturb the seriousness of this matter--that's what she said).

I totally get why parents avoid this subject like the plague. And why people get pregnant because of lack of information. And why little girls look to Janet Jackson and Kesha for advice about sex instead of talking to their parents, who, in all honesty, probably know a bit more than a person who is covered head to toe in glitter.

However, I will soldier on, ya'll. But for the time being, I find solace in the fact that my kids are growing up in a house where they can see that their parents are best friends and totally dig one another. Hopefully they won't see that LITERALLY (like in Modern Family). But it is a start in the right direction, and I hope that we are able to build on this to have three happy, well-adjusted, healthy kids.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This is how student loans make me feel:

I work for a college, and anytime I have a student come in and ask me about getting a loan, I want to say, "DON'T DO IT! BECOME A HOT DOG VENDOR! GO OFF THE GRID! LIVE IN A SUBWAY TUNNEL!!!"

I'm sure you can tell this, but I have had some student loan drama, and to be honest, I'm too tired of the whole thing to rehash it here. (And, to be honest, why would you want to know about the many HOURS I have spent on the phone with various people who may or may not be inebriated talking about why this department has the checking account information and the other doesn't.) But here's a little known fact:

The government can take your tax refund.

This was just mentioned to me, in a roundabout odd way, mostly as a threat of what would happen if I didn't call back within an hour (Note: it actually takes more like years of nonpayment! Not snafus and weird questions. So the guy who told me that, all nonchalantly can go blow himself. Seriously.) with a resolution about the loan that I have been paying monthly for several years. And although this does not apply to me, it shook me to my very core because I was all like, "BITCH, I know you are not getting between me and my motherfucking Ipad." Because that is what I am using my refund for.

This is just a hope, really, as it started last night with Matt and I doing our taxes and then deciding that we should a) have sex and make about 5 more babies for the tax credits and b) since I am decidedly Team Apple and he is decidedly Team Droid we are going to buy a tablet computer each and then use them to fight epic duels on our front porch where one of us will be blinded and then shoved into our fire bowl. Good news! The kids get to roast marshmallows!

However, in reality, I know that we will most likely use it on groceries, mascara and books, which is basically what every form of gift money we've ever gotten has been spent on.

Anyway, this is a short, nonsensical post, but I want you to know this, oh gentle readers. Please teach your children that they should 1) Never go to college and 2) Buy an Ipad. Haters to the left.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Weight Watchers Update

I just got back from my WW meeting, and I am literally typing this with my mouth stretched around my yummy Subway turkey sandwich (which I bought as a $5 footlong yesterday and had half each day--I IZ FRUGAL, YA'LL), but I'm so excited that I have to type this and tell you because we are internet best friends and that means we share exciting information with each other in breathless, unpunctuated run-on sentences concocted purely with questionable syntax.



(I felt it very important to summarize this joy with a happy cat meme because I seriously have a folder on my work hard drive with nothing but "FAIL" pictures, most of which contain lots of cursing and general bad vibes. Yup, I'm that kind of girl. You can take the Garbage out of the ipod, but you can't take the Garbage out of the girl.)

Weight Watchers had to be all sad panda about the whole thing, and give me this message when I logged my weight that was like, "You may be losing weight too fast, dearie," with which I audibly scoffed at and said, "FUCK THAT! You're just jealous, Weight Watchers, because I'm one step closer to looking AH-MAZING, and you're just a sad old website that never gets laid."

Because that's how I roll. Poking fun at inatimate objects.

And the thing is, I haven't done any thing that different this week aside being a bit more dilligent about the tracking. I did eat a cherry cheese pastry from Panera Bread, but I had the extra weekly points to cover it, and I grazed a bit more at my super bowl party than I had intended (but all the food was WW-friendly!). I just feel myself falling into good habits lately, which feels really, really good. Not oppressive or diet-y. Good. And I am starting to realize what a good splurge is (the pastry) and what a bad splurge is (cold nachos left on the table too long) and how to enjoy the good without adding the points for the bad. Things that seem so common sense....I'm doing them. And they are making more sense this time around, which is very, very nice.

This morning I actually dressed the way I like, which is a small miracle (which seems like a non sequitur, but hear me out). Because of all the cold and ice, I've been in this real black pants rut, as in, everyday I just pulled out a different pair of black pants with a different cardigan and that was the outfit. Today, I pulled out a new J. Crew double serge pencil skirt (outlet version) and wore it with my Lands End Canvas chambray shirt tucked in. I haven't tucked a shirt in since I was 12 years old, I'll just tell you that right now, and I've resisted even in adulthood because I thought it would magnify my heaving bosoms. But I did it. And it feels like....ME. I feel like ME in this outfit, like a best version of me, the one who bakes her own bread, and doesn't snark during the PTA meeting (i.e., waiting until I get in my car to say, "Oh for shit's sake!"), and smiles at people at work and files her emails into folders. I am going to try to remember this and work this into the wardrobe more. I deserve to feel like this, I've realized. And it has been so nice to feel this way today, to know that the small positive changes I am making incorporate not just into losing weight, but to gaining more of ME.

A Giveaway! (No, not mine! Someone else's!)

You know I don't have my crap together enough to actually offer you something for reading this blog! C'mon now! You so silly.

Anyway, have you always wanted an infinity scarf? Wouldn't you be gorgeous, wearing it, sipping a pumpkin latte, giggling at a joke that you made to Jake Gyllenhaal, who you are seeing. You two are eating waffles and laughing about a Garfield comic. That Garfield! So silly! He's so mean to Odie, but he cares, you know?

(Because if you wear an infinity scarf, you automatically turn into Taylor Swift. Obviously.)

(I don't know why infinity scarves are linked in my mind to Taylor Swift. But that shouldn't diminish the allure of them. They are pretty! No matter who I find myself thinking of when one is involved!)

Anyway, I just entered this contest to win a gorgeous Etsy made infinity scarf offered on Musings on the Mountain, and you should enter too. The scarf is really pretty, and Etsy is wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that I don't allow myself to go there that often. Because if I did, my children would starve while wearing handknit beanies.
So go enter. I should note that I am DA BOMB at winning internet contests, so you're going against a pro, so you know, don't get your hopes up.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's Get Physics-Al

No, that title doesn't quite work, but oh, well, you know. Anything to get a little Olivia Newton John in all of our lives.

Somehow (and I'm really, really not sure as to how), my husband has gotten interested in physics. I mean, he has always been a Star Trek fan (since he was in the womb, apparently) and has always frequently discussed (mostly to himself since I don't know what the frack he's talking about) how certain things from the show could happen IN REAL LIFE and all of this. But it has been a fleeting conversation topic. However, lately, he has become OBSESSED with physics. He has started bringing home books and DVD's and tivoing all this stuff on it. He has started subscribing to physics journals on his Kindle. And for crying out loud, he has started beginning nearly every conversation with "Well, string theory says this....."


Because lest we forget, Matt has a masters degree in literature. In books. In things without numbers.

(When you get any kind of degree in literature, I should add, you automatically receive a t-shirt that says "NUMBERS SUCK" that we all wear to functions where we sit around and drink port and discuss the finer points of James Joyce.)

The funny thing about all of this is, is that he is teaching our son to love physics as well. So the two of them literally come home from school/work and talk about physics until they go to bed. Sometimes there is an errant French lesson thrown in. And, on Saturday, I came home from a shopping trip with the girls (where we talked about Justin Bieber and just where Madison gets off being mean like that), and they were watching a Nova dvd about M Theory and Sam was playing a trumpet. And Matt was kind of halfheartedly fiddling with a book with sudden outbursts at the wit of Stephen Hawking. And I was like, "What are you guys up to?" And Matt was all, "Oh, you know, the usual." For real? The usual now involves trumpets and NOVA? Ok, then.

On Friday night, Matt and I went out on a very non-physics date. We were on our way to pick up the kids at my mother in law's when he started another conversation with some shit about string theory. I ended up saying, "You know, this doesn't interest me in the least. In fact, when you start talking about it, my brain just turns off. Not because I'm not really interested in what you are saying, but because I absolutely cannot process it." And that is the truth. Any thing like this, I do.not.get. It is like that part of my brain decided after college calculus to leave and join the circus where it drinks a lot and does its best to get rid of the tiny bit of college calculus that still resides in its innards. We end up talking about it, and we come to the conclusion, together mind you, that the reason for this is that I am much too firmly rooted in present reality to be able to enjoy anything really. Basically, I am a miserable old fart who lives, cloaked in a magic veil of practicality, unable to tear herself away from the mundane and the hum drum. So there's that.

I am realizing all of this about myself after we get the kids stowed safely in the car. And we're still quietly discussing the fact that I don't give a shit about other dimensions and what that says about my inadequacies in life when all of a sudden Gabby busts a gut laughing. And we're turning around and scrambling, wondering if maybe she pushed Sam out the back. She proceeds to tell us thather friend has a cousin who says she has heard of a fear of ducks watching you. (I'm sure the internet could tell you if this is a valid fear or not, but that isn't the point.) And we're all mulling this over, when Gabby starts laughing, again like she is insane, and says "What if there was a duck just watching you all the time? But it is wearing an invisibility bolo tie."

That's all it took. I cracked up, miserable cur or not. And I thought, if this is my reality, who needs the cosmic?

Friday, February 4, 2011

If You Don't Buy this Hair Product the World Will Stop Turning

Or it won't.

But this is a damn fine product in any case.

I am notorious when it comes to my non-comittal ways with hair products. I very rarely purchase the same item twice, and if I do, it is most likely a mistake in that I forgot that I had bought it before (yeah, I know). I get this honestly--on my recent trip with my mom, she bought me a grocery tote FULL of various salon products she had used 1/4 of and then decided she hated. This is because, she said, she has "bad hair." I think it is because she just wanted an excuse to buy something new. Hey, my mom is an accounting professor, which just might be the most boring job ever. She has to get her kicks wherever she can.

Besides my natural, ingrained inclinations, I rarely buy the same product twice because my hair changes a lot. Especially since having The Big Al. For some reason, my third pregnancy just totally changed my hair from relatively fine and straight to thicker with a bit of a curl. This is lucky for me since I now have the hair I wanted when I was in high school. This is unlucky for me because I had finally gotten used to styling the hair that I had and then all of a sudden woke up with something entirely different. Also, with the advance of the winter of my discontent, my hair has gotten dry. For the first time ever. This has really thrown me for a loop. I have struggled to look at moisturizing products when I had been conditioned to think that those thing would just weigh me down, and thus, avoid them like the plague.

So this weekend, my mom introduced me to Moroccan Oil. I had actually bought a sample size of this product before for my daughter's hair, but never tried it myself. When mom talked about it, I was floored since her "bad hair" is incredibly fine. However, she said that her hairstylist said that it worked on everyone's hair and despite the fact that he is a Bumble + Bumble rep, recommended it for everyone. I put a bit on my hair not really knowing what it would do.

And then, BAM.

Full-on, Kardashian level shine. Like you could look at my hair and squeeze a zit on your reflection.

(Ok, not that shiny. How do the Kardashian's do that anyway? Perhaps that is their true talent that everyone has been looking for all these years.)

This stuff rocks my hair. Even though it is still fine in texture, but thick in...amount. There is no weighing down, no greasiness. It makes my hair look like I had it blown out. EVERY DAMN DAY. And (AND!), it makes your hair blow dry faster. For reals. Even more astonishingly, I put quite a bit of it on Gabby's hair one night before she went to bed and she awoke with manageable, gorgeous hair (which, Gabby has gorgeous hair anyway, but holy crap is it a pain in the ass). She didn't even blow dry, because it was much more important to Facebook chat with her BFF and this boy she talks to constantly who OMG is just a friend, GOD MOM. But still, it brushed out the next morning and was shiny and lovely.

The price on this stuff is a little steep, but I'll tell you, you don't have to use a lot, so I'm pretty sure this bottle I have will last for quite a while. And there are two of us using it. It is definitely worth it. Even if it were made of panda bear tears and Johnny Depp's back sweat (and the price point reflected this) it would be worth it.

I dare you to tell me otherwise. In fact, I triple dog dare you. I think, according to Gabby at least, that you must buy it. Because being triple dog dared means it's on like Donkey Kong. I'm not sure what it means since I don't actually know you and we are just internet besties, but still, heed my words. This stuff will rock your socks.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Captain Destructo Takes a Nap

Anytime you see the word "destructive" (or any variation thereof) in a blog post by me, you know I'm going to write about Alice. Alice is working hard to get that down payment so she can buy and pepper you daily with insights on how to best destroy a small rural home on a budget. And if you think I'm joking, well, you haven't met her.

I had originally planned to wait to write an Alice centered post around her 18mo. old mark, but I'm writing it now, at 17 mo. Maybe I'll write another one at 18. For some reason, I have this affinity for the number 18. It is nothing weird--I don't tap my fingers 18 times whenever it is 12:18 or anything like that. I just like it. Maybe because I was born on the 18th. Who knows. ANYWAY, that was my original plan, but I was just overcome last night but good ole Alice love, so here I am. And it sure don't hurt that I'm sitting in an empty office while my department interviews for a new position (a process that I successfully begged my way out of. Someone has to help the students! Someone has to write nonsensical blog posts and unabashedly cry their eyes out at their computer screen while looking at photos of a woman they never met!)

Alice is at that ripe old age where she stops acting like a baby and really gets down to business. However, the funny thing is this: she still looks very much like a baby. She has a thin layer of dark brown hair, but has none of the trademark curls you see on other toddlers. My grandmother commented the other night that "in a couple of weeks, it might be ready for a ribbon." That is very debatable. She is also delightfully chubby. No, not as chubby as she once was, but there is a certain softness still there, a gentle give in her body that screams "milk" and "love" and "sloppy kisses." It is funny that when she was a baby and covered in tell-tale chub, people would say, "Oh, she'll outgrow that when she walks." Now, they look at her, and say, "She's lost....some of it???" I'm not concerned--we're not signing up for Maury just yet. Sam was the same way, and now the only remnant is his impossibly soft cheeks which I purposefully nuzzle every morning until he wakes up and begs me to stop.

So you get this baby exterior, this charming package of awesome that looks very much look that stereotypical baby, but now, it has started talking. Seemingly overnight, Alice has gone from randomly saying "bye" (usually when someone had been gone anywhere from 1-3 minutes), to saying that yes, she believes that the culture of girly-girlhood is all together unsettling. Ok, close. She can tell you when she wants to go "nigh-nigh," that she wants some yogurt (opening up the refrigerator and yelling "get!"). She loves her soccer ball (favorite current toy) and loves to kick it and scream "BALL!!!!" (I told Matt that she is the next Mia Hamm, but he is quite certain she'll be announcer yelling "GOAAAAALLLL" at the 2039 World Cup). She repeats things that the kids say and gets excited and giggles over new words. Last night, she even hugged me and said "Ma-ma, wuv." If she was actually saying "love", I don't know. If she was, though, when I actually write a will, that kid is going to the top. Someone just "wuvved" her way into the unbroken Mark Ellis bobblehead, my favorite plastic walrus, and my stand mixer! The other two can totally duke it out for my 10 year old car and closet full of size 9 heels.

I must say, there is something totally charming about her. And I know all parents say this, but I look at her, and I'm just washed away with adoration. But it goes further than a "she's my kid, so she rocks" kind of thing. I imagine her as a person my age and think that we would be friends. She is very funny, in a silly, yet self-aware, way. And as I see bits of her personality emerge every day, I marvel at her level of sweetness, her ability (and desire) to do things on her own and her laidback attitude. I pick up on these things, of course, but it was so refreshing to be around my mom last weekend. She hasn't seen Allie since Christmas, and upon being around her for an hour remarked upon her independant, laidback kindness. And I was totally like, MY MOMMY POWERZ. THEY IZ WORKING.

I absolutely feel the same way about the other two, although I recognize and adore different facets of them. However, because Alice is the youngest (and probably last) of the brood, she receives all of our attention as the baby. Watching Gabby and Sam interact with her is amazing and I feel like she has brought our family so much closer. Gabby calls her our "tiny minion" and while that may be partly true for the moment, I think she knows that it is indeed her who is in charge of the unit. We unite around her to watch her do some crazy shit, and mostly we laugh (until someone has to clean it up). There is a shared family love of seeing what kind of crap Alice will do next.

Because yes, this kid is into it. She likes to climb. She likes to take things apart. She likes to worm her way into bathrooms and play in toilets and bathtubs. By far her favorite thing to do though, is to dance. And by "dance", I mean, "frenetically shake her large diapered posterior in time to music." And if that is her favorite thing, her favoritest favorite thing is to do all of this from on top of our dining room table. Or our computer desk. Or a wayward chair. What this says about her future career options, I am a bit afraid to say. Let's just say that Chris Rock's advice to "keep them off the pole" has new meaning in our house.

Someday she will be grown and she will have a house of her own, I think sometimes. And when she does, I'm going to show up one day carrying a roll of toilet paper. I am going to take that roll of toilet paper and run about the house leaving a scrap here and there. When I am done, I'm going to fill a watering can with water and drip water all over the bits of paper. Then I am going to pour an entire box of jasmine rice in the floor and do snow angels in it. And then I am going to fall asleep on the bed, my limbs akimbo and my caution thrown to the wind. We will be even on the clean up, I think. And I sincerely hope that by that point, I've given her a fraction of the joy that she's given me in these first 17 months.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Pizza, Pizza

Pizza is one food that my whole family can agree on. Now, not the same toppings. Getting any group of people, no matter where the people are from, how much money they make, what political party they identify with or how they feel about Obamacare to decide on pizza toppings is IMPOSSIBLE. My family is no different. Sam is a plain-Jane kinda guy--cheese or maybe some pepperoni (with no burnt edges!), whereas Gabby and I are definitely in the "more toppings, better pizza" camp. Matt and Alice are somewhere in the middle. But despite this, I know that if I make a pizza crust and throw some stuff on it (or better yet, let the kids throw their own things on it) I can get a meal on the table that everyone will eat.

And you would think that this would be counterintuitive to the whole Weight Watchers thing. However, since I restarted the program, I have found myself going to pizza more and more as a meal choice. For reals, you say? Yes, pizza. The truth is using a bit less cheese and a whole lot more veggies can turn the ultimate no-no into something you can feel really good about. And something that calms those cravings.

First off, let's start with the crust. Crust is really overlooked, I think, in the making of the American pizza. In many cases, it is an afterthought, merely a vehicle for lots and lots of gooey cheese. And while that kind of pizza has its place (when you are throwing back a few beers at the ballpark, for instance), I feel that if you are making something that will tame your cravings and give you some nutrition, every part has to be at its best. I have found the following crust recipe to be easy to churn out at a moment's notice and delicious:

Morgan's Pizza Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. of yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (I put this in a 1 cup liquid measure)
1 cup cold water & 1 tbsp. olive oil mixed (I wash out the same 1 cup measure to mix this)
1 tbsp. honey

Blend this all together either in a stand mixer with a dough hook or in a bowl with a wooden spoon (you may notice that if you are doing this by hand, you need a bit more water. In that case, a couple of teaspoons of cold water will do the trick). Let rest for 20 min with a kitchen towel over the top. Knead and roll out and let rest for another 10 minutes. Place dough on a pan or pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. Spread with your toppings. Bake at 425 for 25 min.

Once you've made the crust, the world is your oyster. Be creative with your toppings. And although cheese is delicious, think about other things you can add. I have found the following toppings to be delicious:
--caramelized onions, a bit of mozzarella, goat cheese and a good drizzle honey
--dried figs, caramelized onions, and Stilton
--pesto, roasted vegetables (a mix of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, peppers, onions and asparagus), a bit of mozzarella
--mashed black beans, fire-roasted salsa, spinach, cilantro and a mix of monterey jack and reduced-fat sharp cheddar
--chopped pears, arugula, and blue cheese with a good glug of balsamic vinegar on top
--and the old reliable--roasted tomato sauce that you can make on Sunday and keep in the fridge for a few days, sliced fresh mozzarella, torn basil (especially good with a light Caesar tossed on top--yummo)

And there is always this--the child labor pizza. Buy a bunch of healthy toppings, make the crust and then let the kids make their own individual pizzas. Sometimes I double the recipe for the crust for this so that there is plenty in case someone wants to make an extra. Pineapple always goes fast when we do this. You might be surprised to see what your kids add. Sam shocked the crap out of me last time we did this by adding fresh mozzarella and broccoli to his pizza and then eating the whole thing!

Generally, these pizzas weigh in at about 4-5 Points Plus per slice. Which sounds like a lot. But the crust is hearty and filling and the slices larger than what you would find on a restaurant pizza (I usually follow an old Weight Watchers cookbook of mine and cut the pizza into 6ths rather than 8ths). With a big salad, one slice can be super filling. If you have the extra points to throw around, two slices is definitely a feast. Last night I did have the points, and found myself only able to get through one and a half slices before getting totally satiated. I ended up using my extra points on some Edy's slow churned ice cream. And you can always bring a slice for lunch the next day--mine is waiting on me in the fridge and I'm super excited!

If you have tried this, I'd love to hear your topping ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Weight Watchers Update

I just got back from my Weight Watchers meeting, and I have lost 1.2 pounds! Yea. This is especially nice because I went to Gatlinburg last weekend. And as best as I can tell, Gatlinburg itself floats on an underground lake of butter and cooking oil. I probably gained at least a couple of ounces just breathing down there.

At first, I was a little chagrinned at the number because I was hoping for 2+ pounds. But then, I started thinking...a box of butter weighs 1 pound. And there are four sticks in there. So I've lost four sticks of butter, plus a couple of tablespoons. That makes me happy.
It is funny, this whole weight loss journey. I was watching Heavy last night, and I couldn't help feeling a little resentful and snarking to Matt "So the moral of the story is, if you let yourself really go, you can go to a beautiful facility and have someone train you and feed you and help you learn. Poor schmucks like me are left to figure it all out on our own, from trying to fit in work-outs in a schedule tighter than Coco's sweaters to planning a time to just go to the grocery store and buy fruit." But then I sat in my meeting and I thought about how I'm really getting I'm really making a change for life. That feels good. Even with a weekend where I ate with more abandon and didn't really track anything, I lost. Perhaps I'm doing something right after all.

Blog of Vitriol, Hate and Negative Vibes

WARNING: If you are in a good mood or are seeking positivity, this is not the place. Turn around. Go read something else. Actually, you know, do your work or something. I am getting ready to unleash a torrent of anger and grouchiness that is not commonly seen in someone over the age of 2. Yes, folks, this is my temper tantrum. Instead of actually getting down in the floor of my office and flailing about like a carp in someone's bathtub, I am going to post stuff on the internet. If I don't, I might actually throat punch someone.

A note that should be noted: I have never actually hit someone. I have never been in a fight, not even in middle school when I think even the most mild mannered of us tend to go around with fists clenched, ready to kick some tween ass at the slightest provocation. "WHAT?!?! You talked to her on the phone?!?! And you all decided to both wear puffy vests today?!? FEEL MY WRATH, BACKSTABBER!!!!!" Yeah, that wasn't me. I was the kid in the corner with the ukelele, quoting John Lennon and begging everyone to just get along.

Kind of.

Anyway, instead of actually punching things, I am going to post the myriad things that piss me off today. Ready? I thought you were.
  1. I am still motherfucking sick. The thing that BLOWS is that I am not sick enough to where I could take off from work and feel ok about it. As in, I'm not running a temperature. When I was a kid, I had to be running a temperature or throwing up before my mom would let me stay home from school. And since that is now ingrained in me, the same way that it is ingrained in me to never buy cheap sugar, I cannot get past it, even though I know that I should probably be sitting at home right now, watching Weeds and trying to kick this shitvirus. My nose is all clogged up and I'm all achy and just generally sick feeling. And that, my friends, PISSES ME OFF. I wish my life just stopped when I got sick, like I could stay home and my kids would magically be carted off to a land where they were fed fruit and whole grains by a magical fairy. But that is not the case. Even when I am sick, I have responsibilities. Reason #541 why being a grown up sucks.
  2. My brother in law just got engaged. Now, normally, this kind of thing would not piss me off. Love is grand, ya'll, and you know, I was engaged once and it was awesome--there was a ring and champagne and my soon-to-be husband and I listened to David Bowie and drank way too much. But my brother in law got engaged in Disney World. And then he started posting all this SHIT on Facebook about having his own little princess now. I'm not even kidding. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? Because you should have. That shit is revolting. Matt and I were discussing it and how that no female over the age of 3 should EVER be called a princess, unless she legitimately is one, and you know, has the papers to prove it. And yeah, I know, different strokes for different folks and all, but seriously. That's your partner in life, my dear brother in law. Not some kind of doll you put on a shelf and admire. Ickiness abounds. (And if you don't think it is bad and that women are princesses, oh fuck you. I'm too grouchy to even go further into this.)
  3. Speaking of women's issues, I really hate Avril Lavigne. Allow me to tell you why. She has this new song called "What the Hell" that comes on the radio station that my daughter listens to. It sounds like a goat being beaten to death with a tire iron. The message is basically this: "Well, you know, up until this point, I've been a pretty decent human being. But then, I just decided, "what the hell" and I decided to make out with some unknown's best friend and create music that makes people want to chew the heads off of baby bunnies." Fuck you Avril Lavigne. I hate that girls hear this shit--this and Ke$ha and all the rest. I am not a prude, but for once, I'm getting all pearl clutchy up in here and begging someone to please think of the children. And I hate that Avril is making me do that! Let me just put this out there, just in case a tween is able to wade through my profanity laced tirade and get to this nugget of wisdom: Girls, there is so much more to life than being "bad" and "partying" and whatever else. Go read a book. And get off of my lawn.
  4. I hate fax machines. Why is it when I fax something for work, I have to immediately go send an email confirming that I sent it? And then TWO DAYS LATER, I get an email back like, "Um, we never got that fax you sent.... Could you resend it? We've looked everywhere." Ok, first off, you could have let me know this two days ago. Second, where could it have been? Does Charlie Sheen live in your office? Did you look up his nose? Because maybe that's where it is.... Seriously. Where else could it be? Either it came out of the fax machine or it didn't. I didn't fax it with the special instructions to come out of the the refrigerator instead of the fax machine. But when I ask, "Well, can I just email it with the document sender instead?" I am met with this, "No, you better fax it. So we'll have a hard copy." WTF?!?! I'm assuming you have a printer. How hard is it to hit that print button?
  5. If that damn groundhog doesn't predict an early spring tomorrow, I will need to be committed.

And you know, in spite of all this, I am pretty damn lucky. Last night I came home, sick. My grandmother fixed dinner for us, and we ate well, especially Alice who, much to my chagrin, could eat her weight in southern-style green beans. Matt worked late, so I put the kids to bed and Sam and I got through his entire Abraham Lincoln biography. Alice, who has recently acquired the ability to talk LIKE IT IS HER JOB (more on this later) entertained us all by answering every question asked to her with the word "No." "Alice, is it time for nigh-nigh?" "No." "Alice, do you love ice cream?" "No." "Alice, are you a princess?" "No." "Alice, do you believe that morality is not a social contruct, but rather innate and tied to man's disinclination to witness suffering and thus, his tendency towards compassion and empathy?" "No."

And then, Matt comes home and he is funny and happy and we talk and giggle and watch TV for a bit. And I realize that despite the fact that I have felt like crap ALL DAY and have wanted nothing more than to be in bed asleep, when he is there, there is nothing that I would rather do than sit up and talk to him about anything and nothing all at once.

Stop dry heaving--I'm done.

So repeat after me, gentle readers of all these negative thoughts--"FUCKITY FUCKING FUCK FUCK FUCK." Yes, I think we all feel just a bit better.