Friday, November 19, 2010

What a difference a year makes

Wow, I just realized it's been a year since I started this blog as a place to ponder, vent and share the news of what was a very difficult time in my life. We were then nine months into unemployment, losing our house, living on other people's generosity and learning how to be seriously scrappy. It sucked. And it wasn't over yet.

Publicly, I was trying to stay strong for my family and be grateful for our love, good health and great family and friends. Privately, I was sad, embarrassed, upset with myself for making bad decisions and wondering if Mac and I would come through that mess one piece. Would you believe that was the easiest part? Staying united and supporting each other was one thing we could control, and so we did.

We moved on in many ways over the course of the year. Our lives as homeowners ended as well as it could, and we oh-so-gladly rent now. Our lives as unemployed or underemployed ended and were replaced by Mac's re-entry into the CPA world with not one but TWO jobs in the last four months (he was sought out by an exciting niche firm and starts the week after Thanksgiving) and my leap back into the non-profit arena which I'll continue consulting on until my due date nears.

And speaking of due dates, two unsuccessful pregnancies were replaced by one that now at 15 weeks seems to be going just fine. Another baby! At last!

These days, my worries are more along the lines of whether to take my chances on finding a good, fresh Thanksgiving turkey or to go the frozen route. Pondering whether to order from Domino's or Papa John's for the noodle's birthday party. Wondering what to call the new baby since "the noodle" is already taken. Questioning whether hypnobirthing would work for me and if this baby would please, please come naturally sometime before 42 weeks. You know, typical "Jamie" stuff.

There's no question we have much to be thankful for this year. And, so next week when we squeeze around the table in our eat-in kitchen with as many family and friends as we can fit, I might be especially misty and it won't be because of the hormones. We survived! And it's no mystery to me how we did it. We owe so much to those who helped us along the way with money, odd jobs, shoulders to lean on, wishes and prayers. And we're now charged to repay those debts or to pay them forward... a task we are happy to embark on immediately.

My heart is filled with gratitude, and my wish for you is the same as it was when I first posted one year ago - that you never experience the bad that our family went through but that you often experience our joy. It's there and it's going to carry us through.


Friday, November 5, 2010

The one where I'm super duper busy

So, the blog has been neglected, and I think you two (three?) readers might like an explanation. Here it goes. I got pregnant (yay!), have managed to stay pregnant through the first trimester (double yay!) and am now working part-time and loving it. Oh, and of course I'm still the full-time mom of my sweet, crazy noodle who will be three in just a few weeks!! So, things have been just a tiny bit busy. But it's cool.

I am feeling great in case you were concerned. The first trimester was filled with breakfast burritos and wonton soup but no sickness. I may actually stick with the breakfast burritos and wonton soup for a while ... just to be sure : ) The baby is due sometime in May. I'm not getting hung up on a specific due date this time because, well, due dates are pretty ridiculous. May should be pretty accurate though. We are looking forward to finding out the sex of the baby next month and will share ultrasound pictures when someone offers to scan them for us. Don't all raise your hands at once!

As far as work is concerned, I am doing some contract PR & Marketing work for Children, Incorporated, an international non-profit based in Richmond. Right now I'm planning a fundraiser and developing collateral materials for them. And sometimes I'm doing crazy things like making spur-of-the-moment appearances on the local news. Lovely. But it's an amazing organization and I hope to continue to work with them in some capacity over the next few months.

Oops, gotta go rescue the noodle from her "gated community" ... I'll try to keep the updates coming!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


So, I have a new obsession hobby. I couldn't resist signing up for knitting lessons from my pal, crafty mama. She's crazy talented AND it gave me an excuse to get out of the house weekly. Before the noodle's bedtime. Yay!

It all started with the little pouch:

Then there was the watermelon hat. Okay, so it's a bit on the tiny side. I'm not big into measuring, so this will probably happen often.

Next, a project just for me... a cowl. It was cuter in my mind than this one turned out, so I had to try another one.

True love at last!

Before I admit to being excited for winter so I can wear my new cowls, I've got to get back to knitting. I've got a pumpkin hat to make for the noodle before then. Yep, this is a turning into a full-on obsession. But on the plus side, it's gaining a slight edge on my intense wine and cheese obsession so I'm just going to go with it.


Where does the time go? I blog, blink, and then realize it's been a month since my last post and perhaps someone out there would like a little update. Life hasn't changed too much since Mac started his new job as the world's finest CPA except for the fact that I've become keenly aware of the fact that it's just me and the noodle from sunup to sundown. These are trying times. Fortunately, she's going back to preschool this week so I can reclaim some small portion of my sanity or at least clean up around the house in peace a couple of mornings a week. Don't mind me while I count down the minutes until drop-off on Tuesday. She's awesome, really, but we need some space from one another.

In other news, we recently had a photo session to capture some images of the three of us as a birthday gift for Mac's dad. I can't believe we waited this long to have a professional portrait taken. Yes I can. It's expensive! Fortunately, I found a great deal on a half-off website. And the photographers were wonderful. Lucky me! Oops, I mean Mac's dad. Here are some of my favorite shots for your viewing pleasure:


the quintessential noodle on tiptoes stance

lovely, she's adopted my long, lost pout. I hope it brings her more success than it ever did me


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

the latest and "greatest"

So, here's an update. Mac has a full-time, permanent job now. Yay! Unfortunately, I'm a lot happier about it than he is, so let's just celebrate quietly, okay? Okay.

What else? The noodle has made the transition from crib (oh how I miss the crib) to a crib without a railing on one side, also known as a toddler bed. I had no plans of making the switch yet, but last week she climbed over the top of the crib and into a bassinet I keep beside it with all kinds of toys and books that she used to happily play with for long stretches of time in the morning and after her nap. It was pretty funny seeing her sitting in a bassinet, actually. Here's what's not so funny to see - the noodle in my room at 6:00 am. Oh, or the noodle coming down the stairs three times after being put to bed because "there's a seven on the clock" (she knows she's allowed to come out of her room at 7:00 - in the morning, not at 8:07, 8:17 and 8:27). Super fun. She knows how to read the clock, so don't feel too sorry for her confusion ... she's just playing us, and winning. Two-year-olds. They can't be avoided, can they?

Also, since Mac's new job is a bit of a haul from our house we are finally making the switch to being a two-car family. Until we find a car, the noodle and I continue to walk everywhere and/or harass our friends until they offer to come pick us up and take us someplace. It's lonely I tell ya. I'm hoping we'll find a suitable second car sometime this week. Miracles do happen. Please let me know if you know of anyone selling a cheap, reliable car.

And, finally, here's the news I'm sure you've been waiting for: I'm learning how to knit! Yippee! What did you think I was going to say? Did you know that 99.9% of my girlfriends are pregnant? It's true. This is the era of babies. What can I say? I still think we'll have a second child. I just don't know when or if we'll change our minds at some point. It's kind of crazy to imagine having a baby again. They grow into two-year-olds, you know!

Oh, and I almost forgot one tiny tidbit ... I just survived yet another round of the bird flu! And this time I didn't even have to consult webmd. I totally called it! : )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So this is "crumping?"

I was excited when a mom from the noodle's school put together an outing to Richmond's very own Crump Park. I've always wanted to learn how to crump! Turns out there is no crumping in Crump Park, which was almost as disappointing as the fact that the few other parent/child combos we know ended up canceling at the last minute. Fortunately, the noodle and I are pretty adept at entertaining ourselves, so we crumped alone.

And I think it's safe to say that we have a new favorite hangout. What a playground!

She's considering trying out for the Blue Man Group

That's a nice 'do, slide girl!

Giddy-up, pig!

Did someone call the fire dept.? No, noodle, it's just an inferno outside today.

And did I mention there's a farm, too?? We got to pet a sweet little lamb... of course there are no pictures of this since I was just as interested in petting the lamb as the noodle was. We also got to pet Clyde, who unfortunately lost his pal, Bonnie. The farmer said Clyde escapes regularly... maybe he thinks Bonnie is planning a rendezvous. Poor Clyde.

It's nothing like the crumping I was hoping for, but it'll do for today.

Friday, July 16, 2010

me, myself and my hard drive

So, here's a real conversation that just happened in my mind:

Me: Aack, my computer hard drive is almost FULL!

Myself: Well, that's because you take so many pictures and store them on there, dummy.

Me: True, true. I'd transfer them all to the external hard drive, but then I'd never SEE them.

Myself: Unless you finally got off your lazy bum and created, say, photo albums with all of your favorites.

Me: Yeah, that's something I've always wanted to do but it's sooooooooooooo overwhelming sorting through ALL of those pictures!!

Myself: Dude, you love projects like that!

Me: I know!

Myself: You could finally make the noodle's baby album and if you really do love it, you could offer your creative services to friends who are also jamming up their hard drives with photos and not doing anything with them.

Me: The wheels are turning...

So, friends, I'm curious - have you got about a zillion digital photos that you *plan* to do something with (like create a scrapbook or album) but aren't terribly excited about actually doing it? If so, would you ever consider hiring someone to take over the project for you? I think this kind of creative work is right up my alley, but I wonder if anyone is willing to hand off something so personal. Talk to me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The best things in life really are free?

Well, yeah, kind of. We all know love, family, rainbows and sunshine are free, but you can't dine on that. My venture into a building and growing a "money saving" vegetable garden this spring sure wasn't free. In fact, I think the cost per tomato is going to come out at about $5 apiece this year. But can you really put a price tag on the smile of the noodle getting to eat the first of the harvest? I don't think so.


In case you were wondering, our family's crisis has improved a bit over the last year and a half, but it isn't over yet. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, and I'm thrilled at just the idea of resuming some sense of normalcy - hopefully very soon. I don't know what the long-term effects of living below the poverty line, teetering on the brink of foreclosure, enduring insane levels of stress and so much more will be on our family, but I do know that we have managed to keep our relationships healthy, have not caved on our core beliefs and have learned to be scrappy. Seriously scrappy.

Last Friday, Sweetwonderfulmama, her boys, the noodle and I donned cow spots and ears and were rewarded with free meals from Chick-fil-A. Free! Anything we wanted! It's no French Laundry, but a free lunch is a free lunch. Sometime later today, we're heading out to 7-Eleven for free slurpees in honor of the date being 7/11. And next month for Mac's birthday we'll be trying to squeeze in as many free meals and treats we can since I signed our whole family up for every "birthday club" out there. It's mostly junk food, but, hey, our meals have been about 90% vegetarian since Mac started working for our farm CSA and getting his pick of free fruits and vegetables every week. Maybe a little saturated fat is just what we need.

I once shied away from using coupons at the grocery store and was hugely brand-loyal. Now I wonder how I could have been so naive. I mean, it really paints a picture of how perfectly willing I was to throw away money. Those days are over. Maybe one day not too long from now, Mac will be running his own CPA firm or successfully bridging the gap between financial services and charitable giving for clients, but he's still going to come home to a dinner made from what was the best deal at the grocery store that week.

It's a new era for our family. It took a little searching, but we discovered that we can do a whole lot with just a little. Oh, and there's nothing wrong with love, family, rainbows and sunshine, but a free watermelon slurpee makes my heart skip a beat!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Illegal name change

I always knew I'd have a special work title - Mama. Not Mom, Mommy or the dreaded Mother, just Mama. I think it suits me. Unfortunately, the noodle had another idea. So, I'd like introduce to you for the very first time - Mommio! Or, as it is sometimes hollered in these parts - Mommios! (Maybe she thinks of me as a tasty breakfast cereal?!)

Also unexpected in my world, the noodle's favorite word "NO" has just been replaced by (drum roll please) "OKAYYY!" I can't explain it. It makes no sense. And it came from out of nowhere! But here's hoping this phase lasts a lot longer than the "NO" phase did. Okay? OKAYYY!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

wordless wednesday

I'm finding smiles on an otherwise dreary, glum day looking at these recent photos of the noodle. May they brighten your day, too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Are you one of those people who grew up absolutely "hating" a certain food only to try it as an adult and find out you like it? I've heard a lot of people say this about tomatoes (sacrilege!), salad (craziness!) and seafood (don't even get me started). But I'm not perfect. Oh no, not even close. Sure, I've always adored veggies and it's true that I have long dreamed of opening a salad shop, but the food that I once thought was, like, totally gross was mayonnaise.

But that's the funny thing about growing up. And food. And pregnancy. It all changes.

When I was pregnant with the noodle three years ago, I experienced plenty of intense food cravings and aversions. Then I labored for about 17 hours in an era when our medical system thought it would be better that I not eat anything except ice chips. Then I gave birth to a 9 pound, 3 ounce baby. Then I needed food. Any food. The nurses brought me a plate with a cold salisbury steak (I'm still not sure what that is), mashed potatoes and mushy broccoli. It was something that anyone else would have turned away at first sight. I devoured that disgusting grub in a nanosecond and sent Mac out to find more. He returned with plate containing a cheese sandwich and a packet of mayonnaise. What to do? Well, of course I demolished that sandwich leaving not a single crumb. Still ravenous, I did something that to this day I still don't believe: I ripped open that packet and mayo and ate it straight up. How gross is that?!

Actually, it wasn't gross. It was good. It was real mayonnaise, and it was REAL good! And now I'm a convert. I can't believe I missed all of those early years of enjoying mayo on sandwiches. Burgers! BLT's! Tuna sandwiches! What was I thinking?! Actually, I wasn't thinking about any of that. I was already thinking about what else I could eat to quench my hunger. And you, faithful friends, you know what it was, don't you? It was the one and only, the food love of my life - Chipotle.

The end.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This one's for you, Earth

Earth. It's a planet worth saving. I'm not a hard-core tree hugger, but I manage to recycle faithfully, walk instead of driving when possible and buy locally when I can afford to. Like so many others, I stopped drinking bottled water ages ago. I'm a little disturbed by the fact that there are still a lot of people who buy those silly bottles. Of water! And you can't win me over by saying you reuse them because a. that defeats the purpose and b. it's not healthy to keep reusing that plastic.

Anyway, here I am up on my high horse with my stainless steel water vessel and I lose it. The darned bottle has vanished (though I think it might be at the gym... I'll check into that). And it's not the first one I've lost in the last few months. And all of this makes me wonder which is worse for planet Earth - wasting plastic bottles that will eventually kinda-sorta break down or losing steel ones that will never ever decompose in a landfill.

Oh, Earth, can you ever forgive me? I'll try to do better. I'd switch to cloth diapers for the little noodle if I wasn't strongly considering round two of potty training sometime in the next week or two. I would love to use only solar power and sustainable fuels for my home and vehicle - if I could afford it. And I would definitely erect a wind turbine in the backyard, but I just started a veggie garden and there isn't any more room. Maybe we can strike a deal instead - I'll keep buying those steel water bottles, but I'll plant a tree for every one I lose. Deal?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Speaking of the glass being half full, and since it's Sunday, I have a confession: I am a big dummy. Once a day, I treat the noodle to a glass of juice. Okay, it's not a glass of juice. It's a glass of water with a splash of juice. Kinda like a vodka martini with a splash of olive brine - or is that just me dreaming?

Anyhow, I've amassed a nice stash of juices for my poor, deprived daughter who never gets anything fun to choose from... apple, orange, and, most recently, V8 Fusion. I never thought of Fusion as particularly appealing. I mean, as much as I LOVE veggies, I do not want them in my juice. But apparently, you can't taste them. This plays into the whole "deceptively delicious" concept, which I'm not much of a participant in. I had to get it though because it came recommended in my recently acquired Toddler 411 book as the best juice source of nutrients, and I wouldn't want the noodle to be malnourished.

I mean, look at those cheeks. And her skintone. She's clearly not getting enough nutrients. But I digress.

Turns out there are a lot of different V8 Fusion varieties. Too many. So, I did what I always do and got the one with the least calories. Then I got home and realized my mistake. I had just paid the same amount for the half-calorie juice as the full-calorie juice only to find that it was 50% water. I paid $2 for water! Which I am then going to water down profusely so that the noodle doesn't discover how yummy and sweet straight-up juice is.

I'm no mathematician, but if Fusion is 50% water and it's then going to be watered down by about 75%, she'll be getting a whole lot less nutrients than the makers of V8 intended. I might as well give her lemonaid or Sunny D or those 'juice' jugs that have the foil wrapper on top. You know, the kind that isn't juice at all, just tasty flavoring and sugar. And then I will surely be nominated for Mom of the Year. I'll just keep holding my breath.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

doom and gloom and the bird flu

I've always been a glass half full kind of gal. But can an optimist also be a raging hypochondriac? I've been so lucky to be generally healthy, but when I'm not I'm really, really not.

Last week, as the noodle was getting over her flu, I noticed one of my eyes was bloodshot. On Friday morning, the diagnosis was clear - I had pink eye. Later that evening, I had also come down with a nasty stomach flu that is running rampant in Richmond. So I spent that beautiful, sunny weekend passed out on the sofa while Mac and the noodle were out having fun.

Flash forward one week later and I'm still sick. The pink eye is now red in both eyes. My glands are still swollen. I feel yucky. So, I did what any other self-respecting non-medical person with Internet access would do: I self diagnosed.

Yes, last night while Mac worked late, I worked up the courage to face my best friend and biggest foe - This site is useful for all kinds of things when I'm healthy, but when I'm sick it only makes me worse. Case in point, I used the "symptom checker" to try to pair the pink eye with the throat/gland issues and the recent flu stuff (all of which could be unrelated, but I wanted to be sure). On the list of 12 results were the obvious things like conjunctivitis, tonsilitis and strep throat... but then, wait, what was that at the bottom of the list? BIRD FLU!!!

Apparently, a person with bird flu will exhibit flu-like symptoms along with pink eye. Umm, hi, that would be ME! So, right there on the very sofa on which I convalesced last weekend, I had a full on panic attack. Further research indicated that only half of those who are diagnosed with bird flu survive, that the next step would likely be pneumonia and that I'd be gone in 9-10 days - as in by the end of this weekend. Panic!

Lucky Mac when he arrived home from a long day of work at 10:30 feeling drained and absolutely starving since he hadn't eaten anything since a lousy PB&J at lunch. Instead of a nice relaxing meal, he got a crazy, sobbing wife who informed him of her bird flu, certain death and the fact that she cannot leave this world while the noodle is so young.

Fortunately, Mac doesn't share my hypochondria. He reassured me that the chicken we ate last Thursday night was unlikely to have been tainted, that I'm not even sick enough to have bird flu and that I can keep raising the noodle until she becomes an adolescent and I change my mind ... or until I am admitted to an inpatient psych unit for treatment. Whichever comes first.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The isle of temptation

Wow, two weeks and not a peep. So sorry, I'll try to do better. The noodle had the flu all last week. Poor thing. It was heartbreaking to witness. Gone was my wild girl. My girl who loves food and drink (like her mama). My good sleeper. My silly, silly goose. Thankfully, she's on the mend now. Perhaps a lesson learned would be to actually go back to the pediatrician for the second round of the flu mist next time. Whether or not it would have stopped this strain of flu, I'll never know. But at least I wouldn't feel so personally responsible if I'd been, um, responsible.

Anyhow, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself last week and started to write about how sad I feel that our plans to have a second child have been put on hold for this long and wondering whether I have the staying power to start all over again once the noodle is a preschooler, or older. But that's not your problem. Not today, at least. So, here's some light musing instead ...

A couple of times a week, I find myself driving on one of the least efficient and least attractive streets in Richmond: West Broad Street. I'm sorry if you disagree but it's the truth. If you're not a Richmonder I'm sure you have a street like this by a different name in your locality, like 23rd Street in Panama City or Arlington Boulevard in Northern Virginia.

Let's address the efficiency first. If traveling during daylight hours, you'll stop at nearly every traffic light, which translates to nearly every intersection. Is this the result of poor planning or is it by design? Either way, you can't win.

But assuming you have all the time in the world and not a single two-year-old in your car, you still can't argue it's a cruelly unattractive street. Let's see, there are a gratuitous number of car dealerships intermixed with gas stations and fast food joints. That's pretty much it. Except that Target just happens to be right in the thick of it all. And Target is my lifeblood. I finally found a sneaky way to get to Target without subjecting myself to West Broad, but inevitably I'll forget about the sneaky way on one leg of that trip. So, there I am sitting at the traffic lights looking at the fast food restaurants. At lunchtime. And all of a sudden, I'm salivating. I. Must. Have. Wendy's. Burger King. McDonald's. Panera. Chipotle. Krispy Kreme. I'm stuck on the isle of temptation, and I'm not known for my willpower.

Today I resisted. But it's only a matter of time until I'm driving down West Broad while chowing down on a greasy bacon and blue cheese burger, slurping a supersized Coke and licking the donut icing off my fingers. First of all that's a safety hazard. Second, I cannot gain one more pound. Not a single one. I'm done. The buck stops here.

Which leads me to this: For the safety of all Richmonders and the health of one weak mama, I propose we shut down West Broad Street. Effective immediately. We can call it an urban beautification project and maybe even score some government funding. In it's place anyone who cares to can plant victory gardens. There's plenty of room for all. Who's with me?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day discoveries

Oh my. I have seen some things. Turns out that on Valentine's Day most families in the city of Richmond are at Krispy Kreme, mine included. Mac, Grammie, the noodle and I decided on a whim to go try their heart-shaped donuts for a morning snack (because a breakfast of blueberry heart pancakes was just not enough). We'd never been in a Krispy Kreme, but I have a sneaking suspicion we'll be back roughly every time we drive past it. Anyhow, the point is that it was an absolute zoo. A loud, kid-filled, sugary zoo. And it was 100% perfect.

But that's not all I saw yesterday. I also discovered that we aren't the only family desperate enough to get some fresh air and exercise for our child to patronize a playground that's still covered in snow. It was fun in a dangerous, break-your-back kind of way.

What else? I discovered Ledo Pizza and their claim is true... they really don't cut corners. I also found that they keep one of the two front doors locked there. This is good to know for next time so that I can avoid knocking the noodle's head into a door while carrying her kicking and screaming out of the restaurant because she chose to lay down on the floor instead of put on her jacket like a normal person. Uugh.

Another discovery... men were willingly shoe shopping at DSW with their wives and girlfriends and (gasp!) offering good advice. Some men were even there alone picking out shoes for their sweeties. Heels were popular. I don't know if I could be more shocked than if Mac gave me a pair of heels for Valentine's Day. I'm sure they'd be great for wearing at the playground.

But speaking of Mac and Valentine's Day, he gave me the one thing I wanted but was afraid to ask for. Did you guess yet? I'll give you three tries. No, it wasn't chocolate. Or roses. Or juicy pear jelly bellies. It was Chipotle. Normally, I wouldn't be afraid to ask for Chipotle, but I have been splurging ever since Friday night's birthday festivities, followed by a night of drinks and dancing Saturday night and of course pancakes, donuts and pizza already on Sunday. Don't worry, I worked out for about 45 minutes - I'm sure I burned it all off! : )

*** this photo taken before the infamous splurge of Valentine's Day 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

I love

Happy Birthday, me!
It's good to be thirty-three...
So far, anyway.

Can't you do whatever you want on your birthday? I think you can. So, for my birthday, I'm listing 33 things I love (in no particular order):
  1. haiku
  2. Fiji
  3. scuba diving
  4. red wine
  5. seeing life through a viewfinder
  6. a clean car
  7. the color orange
  8. motherhood
  9. avocados
  10. putting paint on canvas
  11. dave matthews band (still, and perhaps always)
  12. sushi
  13. San Diego
  14. swing dancing
  15. cooking
  16. swimming
  17. that OK Go video with the guys on the treadmills
  18. Italian food
  19. sunsets
  20. anything by Augusten Burroughs
  21. flip-flops
  22. loud restaurants
  23. roller coasters
  24. mid-century modern architecture
  25. new clothes
  26. Jeopardy
  27. magnolias
  28. vegetables
  29. Fall
  30. the little noodle
  31. Mac
  32. my family
  33. YOU
Enjoy this day and in case we don't talk, have a happy Valentine's Day, too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

These are a few of my favorite (winter) things

Winter is not messing around this year, people! It's all snowy with more snow in the forecast. And this is Richmond! Virginia! Seriously.

The noodle and I are truly outdoors people but not so much when it's freezing. Plus, once we spend 20 minutes getting geared up in what the noodle considers appropriate winter attire (on this occasion it was my scarf, bunny ears, a broom and a Cheez-It roadie), she's often ready to come right back inside and beg for hot chocolate.

Anyhow, since we can't hit the playgrounds or our favorite park, we're finding new ways to amuse ourselves. While it would be fun if this list included things like escaping to Mexico for a while, we've had to get a little more creative this year. Here goes...
  • Penguin potato prints - say that fast three times
  • Freeze dance parties - dance... freeze... dance... freeze... giggle hysterically... repeat
  • Performing guitar duets - I hold down the chords and she strums... we play a mean "Octopus' Garden"
  • Visiting Busytown
  • Baking ... you know, I should call it what it actually is - licking batter from the bowl
  • Cleaning the house - I have no idea why she thinks this is fun, but I'll take it!
  • Reading the newspaper - at least someone in this house finds the Richmond Times Dispatch worth reading
  • Three-hour naps - thank God!
  • And when all else fails, the noodle is all about Elmo's World, or what I like to call "20 minutes of sanity"
Anyhow, there's more snow in the forecast for tomorrow, so chime in. What are your favorite winter activities? We're going to need all the help we can get.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's all about the hot chocolate

Yay, more snow! We were all excited about the snow on Friday night. How much would there be? I just hoped it would be enough for the noodle to play in (you know they talk it up on the news). Well, let's just say there was plenty. It's yet another winter wonderland in Richmond.

Meet our new snow fort. Blink, and you'll miss it (but we love it just the same).

It snowed all day Saturday, but that didn't keep us inside.

Sweeping the snow was popular (see the cat in the window? she is constantly plotting her escape).

So was warming up with a cup of hot chocolate. I've never seen anything like it. Let's just go with this - the noodle is a big, big fan.

Nobody comes between me and my hot chocolate.

But it's tricky, too, because now she asks for hot chocolate after every trip outdoors. We've had the talk about how it is a "sometimes" treat, but that hasn't resonated yet. Darn two year-olds and their memory/verbal skills.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's thematic

Dude, if you are a dude, you will probably want to run and hide from this post. In fact, maybe you should too, cool chick. Because I am so not cool (that maybe I AM cool!) that one of my big things is creating variations on a theme. Example: paintings that are identical in composition but a different color. Or themed parties. Or themed menus. Or a themed party with a themed menu.

Don't go calling me Martha, though. Martha I am not.

I guess it all started with my first Superbowl party (easy theme) which had a menu featuring flavors from both team's cities. We did this until Pittsburgh started going to the big game every year and then stopped because (I hope not to offend you) there is no good cuisine native to Pittsburgh. There. I said it.

Actually we stopped hosting Superbowl parties altogether, and now we just go to my friend SweetWonderfulMama's house for her party. Her theme: dip contest. I was excited about the contest when we were first introduced to it last year. I researched dips for weeks beforehand and finally found the perfect dip. Then I busted out the fondue pot (hey, if you're married you know you have one) and even bought fancy schmancy spices for it. Then we arrived at the party, I lit sterno underneath the fondue pot, and I burned the whole thing. Oops.

So, this year is all about redemption, and I'm going back to my roots: theme dip! Nothing spectacular came to mind when I considered New York as a genre (New York Strip dip?) so I'm going with the obvious good stuff: Creole! I think I found just the recipe, too. Isn't it pretty?

Creole crab dip with a cornbread crumb crust. I'm excited. I don't expect to win though because the competition is fierce. The guy who won last year had his dip in a football crock pot. I can't compete with that. I would be tempted to buy such a crock pot, except I won't have room to store it unless I get rid of all of the specialty drink ware from my Fiji party. Gotta love a theme!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a day!

It was the best day. I slept in. I got to go out for my favorite brunch, and the noodle behaved like a normal person. Then I went shopping and got lots of great new clothes. The most exciting thing is that they fit right AND were in fashion. After that I spent the afternoon at the spa. By myself. In the quiet. I came home and played with the noodle for a while (didn't want her to forget what I looked like) before going out for drinks and dinner with Mac and some friends. Followed by more drinks. And loud, adult music. Then I fell into a deep slumber and woke up feeling perfectly refreshed and ready to tackle the world.

Okay, maybe some of that didn't happen. Oh, alright, none of it happened. But I am willing it to happen in a few weeks on my 33rd birthday. 33! You see, Mac introduced the notion of turning double-digit birthdays into big celebrations a while back, and it struck a chord with me. So, rather than our recent habit of picking up carry-out sushi and champagne (not that there's anything wrong with that), I'm casting this wish out into the universe. Let 33 be big, and I will not ask for too much again until 44. Maybe.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A sweet resolution

Did you make a New Year's resolution this year? I didn't. The thought didn't even occur to me. Not that I'm perfect (but you could call me that if you really wanted to make me smile - especially you Mrs. Von Deak!) I digress. It's just that 2009 was so not what I wanted it to be and at the stroke of midnight that welcomed 2010, all I cared about was that it felt like I was starting fresh. A clean slate. A new address. A working spouse. You name it. It was all good.

So, we're three weeks in and maybe it's not *all* good, but it is definitely improving. I'm happier. But I want to be even more happy. I want to do the things (within reason and my budget) that make me happy. And, as I sat chowing down on Skittles while babysitting last night, it occurred to me that maybe my New Year's resolution was going to be to eat more candy. Not chocolate. Candy. I love candy. It makes me happy, and I deserve that feeling - we all do. I can't remember a precise time when I stopped eating candy, but I've sure noticed in the past six months of moonlighting as a babysitter that I am so happy when I go to a house that has it (and they all do, by the way). So, maybe I'll start keeping some on hand. Why not? Eating an entire bag of candy really isn't much of a caloric setback. And if the worst case scenario means gaining a couple of pounds, then I'll take my chances.

Juicy Pear Jelly Belly's, gummy peaches, Starbursts, Twizzlers, LEMONHEADS! Oh boy. This could be the start of something really special. So, here it is, for the record: I resolve to eat more candy in 2010. Perhaps it would be better stated to resolve to seek happiness, but I think the candy eating will greatly help achieve that goal. Now I've just got to find a good hiding place from the little noodle...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh no she di-in't

Oh yes. She did. Who did what, you ask? The noodle's favorite author (Rosemary Wells) issued a world-class cut-down that has had us all cracking up for the last two weeks. The book is called Shy Charles, and as you might imagine, it's about a shy boy named Charles. He gets into a lot of trouble from his parents for being so introverted and is threatened with a spanking by his mom and then gets the ultimate verbal lashing from his dad. Sounds bad, but I can't stop smiling when I think of it (as un-pc as that may be). So, since we had to return the book to the library today and I don't want to forget, here it is:

Charles, you're a jelly roll. You're just a cowardly custard. You're like a sandwich without the bread, not to mention the ham and the mustard.

Now picture Eminem rattling that off in 8-Mile. Are you cracking up yet? Is it just me, or is that some good material?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movin' on up

Greetings from Park Avenue. Yes, Park Avenue. We moved over the weekend. Kinda felt like it was never going to happen. But it did. And while our new house is certainly no "Cube", I am smitten. We downsized, but we gained an extra room. We left modern, but we brought modern stuff with us. And, we are on the brink of bidding a fond farewell to the "joys" of homeownership while ushering in a new year as renters!

Here's my Top 10 list of favorite things about the new digs:

10. Gas fireplace. The wood-burning fireplace in our old house had a huge room to heat and was pretty much worthless. This one is up and running in about a second and keeps us toasty warm.

9. Backyard. Yes, we lived on an acre before, but it was woodland with poison ivy where grass should be. Now we have a nice, tiny backyard with GRASS ... and a peach tree!

8. Guest bedroom that is neither the office nor with a shared bath next to the noodle's room.

7. Location. Since moving in on Sunday, I haven't traveled more than seven minutes to get anywhere. Mac's office, the noodle's school and music class, the grocery store, gym, Target and Chipotle are all just a few miles away. And, really, what more do you need?

6. Pretty little things. There is scalloped trim in the den. It's so "not me" that it just IS me. I can't get enough of that trim!

5. Properly functioning washer and dryer... enough said.

4. Magnolia tree. While it is larger than the actual house and does block much-coveted sunlight, I love magnolias... and their flowers (a little Jamie trivia tidbit for ya!)

3. We're renters! Now, if the front of the house starts falling off a la The Cube circa 2008, it's not my problem!

2. It's just the right size for the noodle. The rooms, the stairs, and even the toilets and bathtub are all just right for her. And she loves it!

1. Did I mention it's a rental?!